Growing joblessness and the slowdown in the diamond and ceramic sectors is fuelling unrest in the Patel community. Patels dominate the diamond and ceramic industry. About 40% of small and medium enterprises in Gujarat are controlled by Patels, who constitute around 15% of the state's population. It is no coincidence that the biggest Patidar (Patel) rallies over last two months and most violent protests last week took place in diamond hubs of Surat, Bapunagar in Ahmedabad and Amreli. About 450 small diamond units, mainly doing job-work for medium and big diamond companies, have shut down. Hundreds of others are bleeding and are cutting jobs. In Amreli, the slowdown in diamond industry was aggravated by recent floods, which devastated agriculture. "In Amreli, it was a double blow for us,'' said Ghanshyam Dobariya, president of Amreli District Diamond Association.
The Patel unrest is mainly targeted at obtaining OBC (Backward Class) status - or recognition of social disadvantage, regardless of upward mobility - which would give them quotas in college admissions and government jobs.