In other words, if Government was the "dominant provider of jobs", and Mandal was talking about reserving big chunks of those jobs, then it's no surprise that people erupted in protest.
But how many jobs did Mandal actually suggest should be reserved for what his Report termed OBCs? Well, let's see.
Regarding jobs, Mandal recommends reservations only for "Government services": let's take that to mean the public sector.
In 1991, when the Mandal agitation was on, employment in the public sector was 19.06 million. (This was out of a total of 26.74 million in the "formal" or "organized" sector). At the time, employment was growing at an annual rate of about 1.5 per cent. (all figures: Tata Statistical Outline of India).
That is, in 1991, the public sector created about 290,000 new jobs. It is these jobs that were subject to Mandal-recommended reservations. Mandal says 27 per cent of those jobs should be reserved for OBCs, or about 80,000 jobs.
80,000 jobs. Less than 0.01 per cent of India's 1991 population. About 0.4 per cent of total public sector employment in 1991.
There are many sound arguments against reservations. But I have never been able to understand this one about jobs and opportunities. Why was such an enormous fuss -- yes, even a conflagration -- made over such a small number of jobs? Why was this relatively tiny scale of reservation painted as a gigantic threat to a nation? Why is it still seen as a threat to this nation?
Aside: these figures also show that it is a myth that Government is, or has ever been, the "dominant provider of jobs."
In a last followup, I will explain one other aspect of the Mandal Report that's worth keeping in mind.