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India’s experiment with Democracy and its electoral-politics

“A good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has disease.”           William Osler

“Don’t find faults, find remedies.” Henry Ford

Introduction –  According to Lincoln, “Democracy is the government of the people, for the people and by the people”. The word ‘democracy is derived from two ancient Greek words: demos (the people) and katos (strength). In a democracy political power is ultimately in the hands of the whole adult people. A democratic government may be Direct or Indirect.

Direct Democracy – In a direct democracy, people themselves make policies and execute them. In modern times, the most successful and long-term experience of it is Switzerland, where a host of ordinary policy questions are routinely put to the electorate, following a tradition dating to the 16th century.Earlier in city state, it was possible for people to rule themselves directly. In modern age, democratic government governs the nation through the representatives of the people.

Direct democracy depends on the following methods for its functioning –

  • Initiative – It is a method whereby a group of citizens can put a legislative proposal directly – may be to enact a new law, or to repeal an existing law or to amend it – for determination in referendum.
  • Referendum – It is a method of referring a question or set of questions to the electorate directly rather than allowing them to be settled by people’s representatives in the legislature.
  • Plebiscite – Plebiscites are referendums, a system for allowing the whole of the electorate to give their opinion on some political question.

Indirect Democracy  – Indirect rule by representatives of the majority of the electorate is known as indirect democracy. In this system, people vote for representatives. The main instrument of choosing the representatives is periodical elections. Political decision -making is done by this small number of people’s representatives,  elected by the whole electorate.

Representative Democracy is usually equated with Liberal Democracy which describes the political system which originated in the USA and Western Europe. It has subsequently been adopted by Third World countries. Indirect democratic regimes may be classified as either Presidential or Parliamentary systems.

Indirect democracies are based upon several interrelated principles:

  1. the existence of regular, free, fair elections based upon universal suffrage and secret ballots;
  2. the existence of competing political parties offering electoral choice;
  3. the existence of electoral laws supervised by an independent judiciary;
  4. freedom of speech and association ;
  5. freedom to stand as an election candidate;
  6. “reasonable” relationships between votes cast and representatives elected;
  7. availability of accurate unbiased political information.

Diagnosis of the disease of electoral politics – 

Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst of all systems except for alternatives” To strengthen democracy is needed a civil society. People are becoming very insensitive in tolerating dissent views these days especially in political arena. And also that, Americans will do the right thing after they have exhausted all the alternatives.

The major problem with this kind of democracy is that quite often it leads to negative electoral-politics, as voters do not have any choice in selecting the candidates, who fight elections. It is the job of rival political parties to select the candidates and woo the voters to vote for their prospective candidates.

Today, in any democratic country, one of the main reason of chaos in political arena is its electoral politics and vested interests of its political leaders. No system of choosing the representatives of the people through elections is Foolproof in any democratic nation. How can the disease of poor governance and slow development be cured, when the elections are not fought with fair objectives. People usually fight  elections to gain political power by hook or crook, and then control the destiny of millions of people for their own interest  or the interests of their followers. It is a big problem how to elect true representatives, who can serve the masses  honestly and sincerely.

It has been seen that usually most of the elected representatives in legislatures do not understand what to legislate, how to lay down policies, because of the lack of understanding of real issues  and monitor its implementation properly. Executive lacks the ability to supervise the functioning of bureaucracy/execution of plans and policies. effectively and efficiently. Members of Opposition parties are more busy in criticizing all the time functioning of party in power with negative mindset and do not allow the government institution to function in public interest.

For winning the elections or creating votebanks for themselves, political leaders adopt ‘policy of divide and rule’.  They  shamelessly divide the electorate on the basis of their diverse identities and create numerous watertight compartments, appease different sections of society, give priority to sectional interests over national interest and thus woo the voters.. In such a situation how can government maintain law and order  in the country or function efficiently and effectively in a democratic state?

Till the people in power echelons understand the reasons, why electoral system has got derailed and think about the ways and means to remove the shortcomings, developed of present electoral process, neither the government would be able to treat the disease nor the patient. it will be difficult to elect deserving candidates to run the government. It is necessary to diagnose the disease correctly before working for its cure.

 

India’s experiment on Democracy and electoral politics – When India got Independence from British rule in 1947, it chose Since then Democracy is the backbone of our country. The Constitution of India is founded on the principle that all voices should be heard. Institutions are established here for the benefit of nation and its citizens. The thinking that legislators can make any law, they want and impose it on people, or executive can execute in any manner, it likes, is absurd.

Situation that led to electoral-politics – The introduction of electoral politics, in the beginning of the 20th century gave rise to Power in numbers. Through modern education system, British imperialists created differences between different castes and communities, and developed a complex in Indian minds about their heritage and social values and systems.

Factors that led to electoral-politics in India – The British gathered information, exploited material relating to social, demographic, linguistics, religious and cultural diversities of India.  It gave political leverage to the non-Brahmin castes on account of their numerical strength. Since then, their influence in politics has been growing continuously.

  • Discrediting Indian values and systems – British rulers exaggerated the distortions developed into the system during century’s after the decay of Hindu Raj. They carefully avoided telling the whole truth or strengths of Indian thoughts and its social systems.  They depicted the Indian culture and practices as discriminatory barbarous, uncivilized and its social system highly stratified”, where multiplicity of communities and their cultures were exploiting each other for their own advantage.  They forcefully implanted in the minds of people, the real and imaginary, evils of Hindu practices.  The European teachers, missionaries, bureaucrats and British easily put all the blame on Social-structure of India for masses poverty, misery,  deprivation and exploitation
  • Introduction of Modern education system – During British rule Modern education system, people got access to the enlightened spirit of many liberal thinkers, like Locke, Mill Rossseau, Voltaire, Spencer and Burke; and the knowledge about English, French, American revolutions, through modern education. It offered to Indian intelligentsia, the key to the treasures of scientific and democratic thought of Modern West. It opened up the doors of knowledge and widened the mental horizons of Indian intelligentsia. Modern means of transport and communications shortened distances and made mobility faster and easier, Every thing together had destroyed the local character of governance. Small local castes, confined within a small area earlier, grew in size, embracing a much wider area than before.
  • Census operation – After consolidating its position, the British Government in India made an effort to know about the people, whom they want to rule and chalk out strategies for the colonial governance. A systematic and modern population census, in its present form was conducted non synchronously between 1865 and 1872 in different parts of the country. This effort culminating in 1872 has been popularly labeled as the first population census of India. However, the first synchronous census in India was held in 1881.                                                                                British anthropologists worked very hard to collect data. For the first time, the Census operations drew the attention of the rulers, intelligentsia and public to the diversity of Indian society and multiplicity of castes and sub-castes throughout India.                                                                     Earlier, the Hindu Society was classified into four Varnas embracing numerous castes and sub-castes within its fold.  Census operations divided it into five and created new unbridgeable compartments within Indian social structure. – Backward caste, forward caste (caste Hindus), untouchable or scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and minority.  Through legal process, they gave each one a new separate and distinct identity.                                                                                               It changed the older system in a fundamental way, giving rigidity to social stratification and hierarchical ranking. It led to casteism in politics. Dr. GS Ghurya says, The activities of the British Government has done very little toward the solution of the problem of caste.  Most of these activities, as must be evident, were dictated by prudence of administration and not by desire to reduce the rigidity of caste.  On the whole, the British rulers of India, who have throughout professed to be the trustees of the welfare of the country, never seem to have given much thought to the problem of caste, in so far as it affects the nationhood of India… Their measures generally have been promulgated piece-meal and with due regard to the safety of British domination.” (Dr. Ghurye GS, Caste and Class in India, pp 283-84.)
    Importance of numbers in elections –  The introduction of electoral politics, in the beginning of the 20th century gave rise to Power in numbers. While introducing elections in India, the British very diplomatically divided the Hindu population into two uncompromising groups viz. `We the Non-Brahmins and `They the Brahmins and caste Hindus. They instilled deeply in the minds of millions of unlettered Hindus, venom against each other.
  • Leverage to Non-Brahmins in politics – Power of numbers in elections gave political leverage to the non-Brahmin castes on account of their numerical strength.  Earlier non-Brahmin movements had economic and social thrusts demanding education and land for backwards and freedom from caste rigidities. Later, it resisted the hold of Brahmins in the spheres of education and jobs in government. Non-Brahmins’ demand for a share in modern callings was quickly recognized by the British. They acquired considerable amount of political clout, in early 20th century, with the introduction of electoral politics. Since then, their influence in politics has grown enormously.

Preparation of grounds for electoral-politics – Various communities feared that Hindu majority government would dominate them.[i] Leaders of non-Brahmin community united numerous endogamous jatis into region wise alliances, increased in size and emerged as powerful pressure groups in different regions.

Justice Party in Bombay in 1917, and South Indian Liberation Federation in Madras in 1916, united the lower and intermediate castes.  In Maharashtra, Phule and Ambedkar challenged the influence of Brahmins and Marathas. In Tamil Nadu and other Southern States, lower and intermediate castes got united under the leadership of Periyar by fusing in them Dravida and Tamil identities and led anti Brahmins movement.  They regarded lower and middle castes as descendants of the original non- Aryans natives of India, who believed in egalitarian pattern of society.  Aryans conquered them and through caste system, Brahmins established their superiority over them.

In AP and Karnataka, intermediate peasant castes like Reddy, Kammas, Lingayats, Vokkaligas came forward against Brahmins.  In Kerala, caste identities became rallying points for class like party formation starting with Ezhawwas, at one time the most depressed of all communities.  In Gujarat, ground level consolidation of Dalits, Adivasis and minorities rose.

The leaders of Non-Brahmins like Mahatma Phule, Ambedkar or Gopal Ganesh vehemently criticized Hindu hierarchical structure, and regarded untouchability as an inevitable concomitant of caste system. Therefore, eradication of caste system became their major plank. They taught the lower castes to get united and work for abolition of caste system as it was responsible for treating them as lesser human beings. It engaged them to forced labor or unsavory jobs, imposing many restrictions on them, preventing them from joining the mainstream of the society; and the subjugating them with the help of the religion. They also attacked the hypocrisy of Brahminism and emphasized reforms and spread of education.

Being non-militant by nature and very small in number, comprising only 3% of the total population, the Brahmins in South yielded to the pressures of non-Brahmins without much resistance and moved out from there to other parts of the country, where non-Brahmin movement was either weak or non-existent.

There was another group led by non-Brahmin political leaders, who wanted a share in the power-structure, special attention and intervention of the British government in electoral politics and government jobs, and thus improve the position of Backwards. In the South and Bombay Presidency, the non-Brahmin leaders voiced forcefully against the domination of Brahmins in government jobs and other modern callings. British had full sympathy with them.   This demand ultimately gave birth to the policy of Reservation. Electoral policy, Census operations, and Reservation Policy. Together, these policies were responsible for the entry of casteism and communalism into the political life of the country, which was non-existent hitherto.

In 1918, Mysore Government denominated all communities, but Brahmins, as backward and gave the backwards special protection in the form of scholarship, admission in educational institutions, quota in jobs and other concessions and benefits.  Special Government officers were appointed to look after their welfare.  Madras and Bombay Presidencies followed their example.

Government of India Act, 1919, accorded special representation by granting a few nominated seats, in the Legislative Assembly, for depressed classes.  Legislative regulations and administrative orders declared denial of access to untouchables to schools, well, roads and public places as illegal.  So far, untouchable activities were combined with the non-Brahmin movement.

By 1928, untouchables separated themselves from the intermediate caste and established their independent identity at national level. Until 1932, the Government of India avoided itself from stigmatizing any group, by official acknowledgement, of their low social status and considered it unfair because Owing to the social disabilities, to which members of the depressed classes are exposed, it would be in the highest degree undesirable that any official authorization might appear to extend such qualification. The fluidity of social distinctions and the efforts of the classes lowest in the scale, aided by social reformers, to improve their status make it more desirable, that government should abstain from doing anything, which would tend to give rigidity to these distinctions.(Indian Statutory Commission, 1930, VI, p 341)

The joint Select Committee of the British Parliament, while reviewing the South Borough Report on measures to secure representation of minorities or of Backward classes for Indian Constitutional Reforms 1919, commented that they attached importance to the educational advancement of the depressed and Backward classes. (Mukherjee P, Indian Constitution and all Relevant Documents relating to Indian Constitutional Reforms of 1990, p 528).

In 1930, Starte Committee suggested to sub-divide the backward classes into untouchables, aboriginal hill tribes and other backward class.  Political expediency and imperial designs to keep balance of power got victory over rational thinking.

Through Communal Award 1932, British created a permanent split in Hindu Society. It perpetuated casteism and made impossible the assimilation of different castes under one fold.  Dr. Rajendra Prasad said, The principle of dividing population into communal groups, which had been adopted in the Minto Morley reforms had been considerably extended, even beyond what had been done by Montagu Chelmsford Reforms… The electorate in 1919 was broken up into ten parts, now it is fragmented into seventeen unequal bits… Hindu community was further weakened by giving separate representation to Scheduled castes. Division on the basis of religion, occupation and service were made.  Every possible cross division was introduced by the British.(Cited in Mehta and Patwardhan, The Communal Triangle, p72). The Communal Award strengthened the roots of casteism in politics.

By the end of the 19th century, the concern for the downtrodden and the movement against the hold of the Brahmins on land, wealth, and education was turned into a political movement. It aimed at obtaining legal rights and position of power through government intervention, Dr. Ambedkar made it abundantly clear that through political power, untouchables were to find their solution, not through acceptance by Hindus.

Ironically, as their political power increased, they insisted on their separate identity. They sought special legal protection and share in politics and administration on the basis of caste. By 1920’s, numerous caste organizations, especially in the South and West, organised themselves into larger collectiveness by keeping contacts and alliances with their counterparts at other places; formed associations and federations at local and regional levels and emerged as a powerful political force.

Beginning of electoral politics – Granting separate Muslim electorate through Government of India Act 1909,  (Minto Morley Reforms) brought the idea of communal electorate to the forefront. Granting special electorate to Muslims made the numbers important.

Around 1909, the non-Brahmin Community was divided into two – Backwards and Untouchables.  For the first time, the lowest strata of Hindu Community were conceptualized under the name of untouchables in the political circles.

New dimension to electoral politics – In 1908, the untouchables comprised about 24% of the Hindu Population and 16% of the total population. The suggestion of Census Commission, to exclude untouchables from Hindu group, gave a new dimension to casteism in politics. The suggestion of Census Commissioner to exclude untouchables from Hindu fold, in the forthcoming 1911 census, immediately increased the importance of untouchables in political circle, in social circle, and in their own eyes too.

Such a move alerted national leaders. This was not acceptable to Hindu leaders at any cost. Their fear proved to be right  as the number of Hindus has fallen down continuously. The following chart, based on various censuses, establishes this fact: Hindu population was 73.3% in 1881, 72.3% in in 1891, 70.3% in 1901, 69.3% in 1911, 68.4 in 1921, 68.2 in 1931 and 65.9 in 1941.

In order to overcome the problem, the Hindu leaders gave top most priority to the abolition of untouchability. They interpreted Vedas liberally and said that purified Varna System expressed equality. The reformers pointed out that untouchability was neither an outcome of caste system nor an integral part of Hinduism, but an external impurity and sinful blot on Hinduism.  They were clear that segregation of lower castes in Hindu Society was not based on economic status or their incapability to do any intellectual work, but on cultural grounds – unclean habits, undisciplined  life style, speaking foul and abusive language etc.  They tried to improve the status of untouchables through Sanskritisation. The emphasis was on education, moral regeneration and philanthropic uplift.[ii]

 

From historical facts, above, it is clear that the British fanned casteism and communalism in electoral-politics for political reasons. Earlier, though there were few stray incidents of violence, the nation was largely free from caste wars or class clashes.  However, the sectionanal interests aroused the agitation among different castes and communities all over the nation.  There started a cut-throat competition for scarce positions of power and prestige under British Raj.

Conclusion – The seeds of casteism and communalism, which were sown by the British, blossomed to its full in the electoral politics of independent India.

 

 

 

 

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February 2, 2018 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | | Leave a comment

Dalits’ Assertion and agitations

“I am thankful to all those who said NO to me. It is because of them I did it myself.”    Einstein 

“The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal”                                                                                                                                                   Aristotle 

The unity of backward castes under the label of “Dalits” is

                   an illusion created by vested interests.

Introduction – Times news reported on January 3. 2018, that Dalits came on Mumbai streets on 2.1.20 to protest against the violence that took place in Pune. In-wake of violence at Bhima Koregaon village in Pune district on 1.1.18., Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader Prakash Ambedkar and some political parties called ‘Maharashtra Bandh’. Sources said –

  • Maharashtra Bandh! How dalit agitation brought Mumbai to standstill.
  • Massive protest by Dalits on 2.1.18 and 3.1.18 halted Mumbai local trains, blocked roads, and pelted stones.
  • A large number of agitators, allegedly in the “garb of activists championing the cause of the backward classes”, ensured that the police machinery was cornered and government suffered losses.
  • Economists say the never-seen-before Mumbai shutdown may have led to business losses worth thousands of crores of rupees.
  • Maharashtra Dalit protest spreads to Gujarat and other states as well.

Therefore, it becomes necessary not to sensationalize or politicize such news or publicize irrational comments or irresponsible  acts of various political parties or biased views of some intellectuals. Invariably, it creates misunderstandings and atmosphere of tension in the society and put unnecessary pressure on the government. Also national policies and plans should not get influenced because of dirty politics or irrational comments, fiery speeches or deeds of a few cynic/irresponsible persons.

In present day Dalit-politics, vested interests of a few persons or leaders/their political parties are spreading many misconceptions through social media.  In this age of social media or mass media, it is not difficult for a leader to appeal to the targeted audience.

It is not desirable for any mature leader to pass on comments based on half cooked information, half a truth, partial or incomplete knowledge, which could be harmful for the whole society. Reality is much deeper than what is seen on the surface. One should not form an opinion or take a decision without analyzing rationally the whole scenario.

Greed for powerGreed for power is increasing every day. Craving for more power – muscle, money or political – of some individuals or groups tends people to adopt discriminatory practices. Discriminatory practices work on whims and fancies/likes and dislikes of strong persons. Controlling the destiny of others satisfies their ego and serves their interests.

Discrimination caste-based or class-based in India?Within every society and a nation, there exists numerous identities based on factors like caste, race, class, religion, gender, language or region. Dalit Activists hold caste responsible for its being highly discriminatory and keeping 750 million Hindus – dalits, tribals and other backward classes – poor, “subjugated, discriminated against and humiliated.” “Technologies for human survival …. were all developed by lower castes”, but “upper castes took away the fruits of their labour and invention.” “In the hearts of the oppressed castes, there is anger and hatred.” They say, ‘Social-justice’ demands their emancipation by ending all kind of discrimination. Agitated comments of Dalit Activists and political leaders arouse emotional sentiments of poor masses, generate venom in their heart and create a feeling of ‘otherness’. They  are trying hard to make the entry in power echelons/government, including government services and create as much space for themselves as possible.

Dr. Dean Harmison  says that Discrimination in India is ‘Class-based’, and not caste-based. So is all-over the world. “I have travelled to nearly all the states,n visited villages and slums, temples, mosques and churches, shared meals and conversations with people there of all stations in life. I have not experienced discrimination to the extent, it is being painted here; but what I have seen is class discrimination, Yes I have seen economic poverty.” (quoted from his speech at 53rd session of Sub-commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, N Delhi Aug., 2001)

Intolerance reason behind discriminationUsually, in every society, differences in behavior, character, education, language, way of life, culture, social background create a distance between two individuals or groups. Resistance to tolerate, adapt or appreciate each other widens the distance. Some become so aggressive that they openly abuse or oppress others. In order to be one up, either they let down others or try to control their destiny by adopting discriminatory practices. And in this rat-race, stronger always wins and weaker suffers.

Electoral politics encourages narrow loyalties of caste and religion  – In the past, British rulers in India, while laying foundation of democratic institutions of India, started many discriminatory practices to keep balance of power and counter Brahmins hold on Indian society. That was the time when caste Hindus were very conscious about their Hindu identity. But after Independence, it has been observed that despite all their venom against Hinduism and its caste system, lower segment of society is sticking strongly to its caste-identities.  Narrow loyalties of caste and religion are encouraged generating sub-cultures like caste-ism, favoritism, and lure for easy money, nepotism, parochialism, communalism, regionalism, bigoted sentiments and irresponsible comments, spreading in-discipline in the society. The rising aspirations and demands of people, with the spread of education and awareness, has created added problem for the government.

Policy of appeasement – It is because of adopting the path of appeasement, and pacify agitating people, most of measures taken by the Governmental authorities touch the problems superficially at its periphery only. These solutions are unrelated to real issues and day to day problems of poor people. Instead of benefiting or helping the poor, on one hand such developmental programs increase corruption, and on the other it encourages lethargy, agitation and attitude to depend on authorities for each and everything.

A large number of ‘Dalits’ have already entered into the corridors of power, are occupying important places, and are exercising authority. Under their leadership, different pressure groups and regional political parties are wooing  with vigor the poor, innocent and illiterate Dalit and Muslim masses. Even Naxalite groups find in Dalits an allies, as most of their action squads are formed of Harijans. No political party could dare to annoy them. All concede to their demands openly or discreetly.

Journey of Dalits towards Empowerment – The transformation of untouchables into Harijans, Depressed class and now Dalits is a classic example, where a fraction of society is increasingly distancing itself from the mainstream and establishing firmly its separate identity. The organized intolerance and  over-consciousness about their separate identity has grown out of proportions now, perpetuating agitation and violence. They desire a complete hold on political power plus protection of those laws and policies indefinitely, which were started seventy years ago for ten years for enabling them to join the mainstream. They want to have a cake and eat it too, but without much effort or blending their ways.

Journey of Shudras BeginsExistence of Shudras (at present referred as untouchables/Dalits) was recognized, as early as, Pre Mauryan Period (6th century BC to 3rd century BC). Though given a lower status, they were always an integral part of Hindu society. Since then, they have traveled a long distance and has passed through various stages, at present known as Dalits. Till the beginning of 20th Century, the lowest strata of Hindu Community were known as Shudras, Panchamas or outcastes. The whole of 20th century, especially the first and last two decades have been especially important for political empowerment of Shudras (Untouchables). Different terms have been used for Shudras at different points of time. Each one assumed importance, as Dalit movement has passed through various stages – ‘Shudras’, ‘Outcastes’ and ‘Panchamas’

  • Who were Shudras in ancient times? – In ancient India, Shudras were supposed to do all sorts of menial work under the guidance of the three Varnas -Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. Individuals or groups belonging to the fourth Varna Shudras were –
    • Conquered groups or individuals in a war;
    • Groups engaged in menial or unhygienic occupations;
    • Groups clinging to the practices, which were not considered respectable;
    • Persons born illegitimately or
    • Groups engaged in anti-social activities were treated as Shudras and were given lowest status in the society.
    • Breaking the caste rules meant loss of caste, meaning complete ostracism or having no place in the mainstream of society.
    • Permanent loss of caste or out-caste- were considered to be the greatest catastrophe for an individual, short of death penalty. By the beginning of Christian era, the out-castes themselves developed caste hierarchy and had their own out-castes.
  • Why Lower Ranking for Shudras? – In ancient India, Shudras performed basic/essential social services. They  also worked in economic as well as in agricultural sectors under the guidance of caste Hindus. Still they were placed at lower level. Why?
    • Segregation of lower castes in Hindu Society was not based on economic status nor on their incapability to do any intellectual work.
    • In ancient India all the social groups were placed more or less as a series of vertical parallels.
    • It was on cultural grounds – unclean habits, in-disciplined life style, speaking foul and abusive language etc.
    • All of the people living in a local area, whether high or low, were bound together by economic and social ties and had a strong bond of mutual dependence.
    • They cared and supported each other in fulfilling different kind of their needs.
  • Concept of forwards or backwards non-existent in ancient India – Higher rank in the society or respect to a person or group was never given on the basis of material success or control of power. There was hardly any room for any section of society to consider itself, as being placed in greater or lesser disadvantageous position with reference to another. Concept of forwards or backwards or feeling of exploitation of lower strata by upper castes was almost non-existent at that time.
  • Masses reconciled, if not contended – Many studies have shown that Hindu system always kept masses reconciled, if not contended in the past. Hindu Dharma taught the people that instead of holding others responsible, for all their sufferings, exploitation and miseries it was their own “Adharma” (immoral behavior), “Alasya” (laziness) and Agyan (ignorance) which were to be blamed.
  • Respect for Shudras with knowledge or character – Society never prevented Shudras or others to rise in the scale of society or to earn respect of the society. In many parts of the country, people belonging to lower strata held position of power/superior status or earned respect of Hindu society. Many warrior kings of Shudra and tribal origin sought Brahmins’ help to acquire Kshatriyas status for themselves. Many Shudras were accepted and revered as philosophers or spiritual teachers.

Shudras position during medieval Period – All troubles of lower strata of society along with other sections of Hindu society started after the downfall of Hindu Raj and old Hindus values.

  • Sufferings of the whole Hindu society under alien rule – It was not only the Shudras, but all the sections of Hindu society suffered a lot during medieval period. Seventh century onwards, continuous invasions by Turks, and Afghans earlier drained out the wealth of the nation to foreign lands and afterwards Mughals made India their homeland and ruled the country for centuries. Feudalistic attitude, extravagance and luxurious life style of rulers and those at the helm of authority, increased the disparity between the rulers and the ruled. Therefore, blaming caste Hindus out-rightly could not be totally justified. It was not out of malice, but the circumstances under foreign rule, that had pushed Shudras away from the mainstream.
  • Continuous suffering without the help of government or society responsible –  The low status and continuous sufferings for centuries, because of poverty and deprivation had gradually stopped growth of their personality and made them completely dependent on others for their livelihood. Centuries old enslavement, their total dependence on others, ignorance, superstitions, suppression and ostracism shook their confidence and instilled in their minds inferiority complex are the factors responsible for their poverty,exploitation and became victims of insensitive and inhuman treatment by others.

Depressed class/backward class – During British rule,  Shudras were addressed as ‘Depressed class’/Backward castes or ‘Exterior class’ in official circles. British rulers as well as Missionaries launched an ideological attack on the social-structure of Hindus and tried to upgrade their social position.  With the promise of giving lower strata of society modern education and government employment, lured many people to get converted into Christianity. British rulers passed many Legislative regulations and administrative orders declaring denial of access to untouchables to schools, well, roads and public places as illegal.

Separation between Backwards and untouchables – Uptil the beginning of twentieth century, untouchable attempts for getting space in power-structure were combined with the Backward Castes movement of intermediate castes. But with the beginning of 20th century, untouchables were inspired to enter into the political arena under the name of “depressed class” and get a reasonable share in political power separately. British government in India regarded untouchables ‘Oppressed of the oppressed and lowest of the low’.

HarijansNational leaders, humanitarians and reformers made several attempts to improve the position of untouchables during late 19th and beginning of 20th century. When during census operations of 1911, British rulers proposed to exclude ‘untouchables’ from  Hindu population, National leaders got alerted. In order to retain the Hindu identity of untouchables population, Gandhiji and his followers called them, ‘Harijans’ meaning the “people belonging to god”. On one hand, Gandhiji tried to create compassion for Harijans in the hearts of forward communities  and on the other he appealed to Harijans to observe cleaner habits, so that they could mix up freely with other sections of society. However, Dalit leaders did not like the word Harijan as it symbolized a meek and helpless person, at the mercy and benevolence of others, and not the proud and independent human being that they were.

During this period, the attention of humanitarians and reformers was also drawn towards the pathetic condition of untouchables. They took the path of Sankritization to elevate them. In order to prevent alienation of untouchables from Hindu community, they drew the attention of forward communities towards inhuman condition of lower strata of society and tried to create compassion in their hearts for downtrodden.

  •  They gave top most priority to the abolition of untouchability.
  • They tried to clarify that Untouchability was neither an integral part of Hinduism nor an outcome of Varna/caste system, nor have any religious sanctity, but an external impurity and sinful blot on Hinduism.
  • They laid emphasis on education, moral regeneration and philanthropic uplift.
  • They also appealed to untouchables to observe cleaner habits, so that they could mix up with other sections freely and become proud and independent human beings, that they were.

Political rise of Untouchables under the supervision of Dr Ambedkar Till 1909, the lowest strata of Indian society was known as Depressed class/backward class. Emergence of Dr. Ambedkar on the political scene provided the leadership and stimulus to untouchable movement.

  • He insisted to address untouchables just as untouchables. He regarded the terms ‘Depressed classes’, ‘Dalits’, ‘Harijans’ either confusing or degrading and contemptuous. Dr. Ambedkar made it abundantly clear, ‘It was through political power that untouchables were to find their solution, not through acceptance by Hindus’. He gave untouchable movement a national character and a distinct identity during late twenties and early thirties.
  • Criticism of Hindu hierarchical structure – Some prominent Dalit leaders like Mahatma Phule, Ambedkar or Gopal Ganesh vehemently criticized Hindu hierarchical structure and regarded untouchability as an inevitable concomitant of Varna/caste system. They taught the lower castes to get united and make eradication of caste system their major plank as it engaged them to forced labor or unsavory jobs, imposed many restrictions on them and prevented them from joining the mainstream of the society. According to them, Hindus treated lower castes as lesser human beings, meek and helpless persons, who should always remain at the mercy and benevolence of upper castes. They tried to find the solution of their problems through political power, not through acceptance by Hindus.
  • Rise of political groups on caste-basis – By 1920’s, numerous caste organizations, specially in the South and West, organized themselves into larger collectiveness by keeping contacts and alliances with their counterparts at other places; formed associations and federations at local and regional levels and emerged as a powerful political force. Together, they demanded special legal protection and share in politics and administration on the basis of caste.
  • Untouchables separated from Backward class – In 1928, Simon Commission established their separate identity at national level, independent of intermediate castes as untouchables. It readily accepted their demands through Communal Award of 1932. Gandhiji along with other National leaders regarded it as the Unkindest cut of all”, which would create a permanent split in Hindu Society, perpetuate casteism and make impossible the assimilation of untouchables in mainstream. Dr. Rajendra Prasad said, The principle of dividing population into communal groups, which had been adopted in the Minto Morely Reforms, had been considerably extended, even beyond what had been done by Montagu Chelmsford Reforms….The electorate in 1919 was broken up into ten parts, now it is fragmented into seventeen unequal bits… Giving separate representations to Schedule Castes further weakened Hindu community… The British introduced every possible cross-division.

Known as Scheduled Castes in Independent India – After Second World War, the whole of the world was swept along with the concept of  the ‘welfare-state’. Independent India, also became a Welfare Democratic nation pursuing justice -social, economic and political. The government considered it its humanitarian obligation to plan for uplift and empowerment of the submerged-sections of the society.  After Independence, seeing the overwhelming-poverty of millions of people, especially  belonging to the lower strata of the society and their near absence in echelons of power, Government of India took up some concrete measures.

Why the term Scheduled Castes? – As per the directions of the provisions of the Communal Award of 1932, instructions were issued, in July 1934, to schedule a list of the people entitled for preferential treatment in matter of special electoral representation and appointment in the Central Government jobs. This gave birth to the term Scheduled Caste in 1935. Scheduling was a legal activity having sanction of legal authorities. Therefore, no one had any objection to this term. This term was used even after the independence.
The Constitution of India- The Constitution of India has directed the Government to promote social justice and educational, economic and other interests of Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes with special care. It instructed the Government to remove the poverty and reduce inequalities of income and wealth, bring submerged sections into mainstream and provide adequate representation to them in power echelons. Public facilities, which were denied to untouchables so far, have been made accessible to them. The successive governments both at national as well as provincial levels have initiated various Welfare Plans and Policies for employment generation and their social, economic and political growth from time to time.

Emergence of  ‘Dalit’ word for untouchables – Dalit, a ‘Maraddhi’ word means ‘suppressed’. The term was chosen and used proudly by Ambedkar’s followers under the banner of various factions of Republican Party of India (Formed in 1956). The Mahars of Bombay (8%), Jatavs of UP (Half of the SC Population in UP) and Nadars and Thevars of Southern TN being numerically significant, played a decisive role in taking forward Dalit movement. Maharashtra Dalit movement has a longest and richest experience.

  • Dalit Panthers , a political party in Maharashtra – In 1972, a distinct political party, in the name of Dalit Panther was formed in Maharashtra. It organized the lower castes under the banner of ‘Dalit’ throughout India. One of the founders of Dalit Panther, Mr. Namdeo Dhasal widened the scope of Dalit by including SC, tribes, neo-Buddhists, landless labor and economically exploited people. Its orientation was primarily militant and rebellious. Dalit Sahitya Movement legitimized and reinforced the use of the term Dalit. Since then, this term is very popular amongst the untouchables.
  • Main aim, abolish of caste-system  – Earlier, a few leaders of untouchables had at least some regard for the cultural tradition of India. They did not reject Vedic literature or the foundations of Hinduism, out-rightly. Dr. Ambedkar accepted that all parts of Manusmiriti were not condemnable. Gopal Baba Walangkar had said that Vedas did not support untouchability. Kisan Fagoi, another Mahar leader of pre-Ambedkar era had joined Prarthna Samaj. But present Dalit leaders are vehemently against cultural traditions of India, which according to them, are based on inequality and exploitation. it has given rise to a fear of upper caste or intermediate caste backlash.
  • Dalit’s March towards Bihar – In mid sixties, an aggressive Dalit movement started under the banner of Shoshit Samaj Dal in Central Bihar, which has, presently, become a major center of Naxalite movement. Dal was founded by Jagdeo Mahto, who began to mobilize the lower castes against economic repression and exploitation of women by upper caste feudal elements.
  • Dalit’s rise in UP – The new phase of Dalit assertion is most prominent in the most populous state of UP, where the upper caste domination has been challenged by BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) formed in 1984 under the leadership of Kanshi Ram and Mayavati. They redefined Dalit politics especially in north India.                                                                                                                              Their approach to Dalit issues was more socio-political rather than economic. BSP has started pursuing power with militancy since 1990. Its supremo Mayawati succeeded four times in becoming Chief Minister of UP. Of late, BSP has made significant inroads in UP, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.                                                                                                                                              BSP has borrowed all their phraseology from Dalit Panthers. Most of their utterances are arrogant, revengeful and opportunistic. Political and economic vested interests of its leaders has aroused militancy among discontented youths of different castes and communities all over the nation. They care only for rights and pay scant attention to their duties. There started a cutthroat competition for scarce positions of power and prestige.
  • Dalit Vote Bank – Bahen Mayavati had one said that through election Dalits will takeover the posts of PM and CMs and the posts of DMs nd GMs through reservations. Political parties and its leaders are well-aware that the number of Dalit population is large and it can be a large vote-bank for them. Therefore, they try to appease Dalits creamy layer  from time to time, in order to increase their own political strength. Dalit leaders are in no mood to play a second fiddle to other national political parties. Dalit leaders are aware of their growing influence and crucial role as a kink-maker in today’s highly competitive and unstable political atmosphere.
  • Dalits vs. Non-Dalits – Once again, the tendency of ‘divide and rule’, as was there during British domination, has emerged in national scenario. India has been divided sharply into two unbridgeable compartments  – Dalits and Non Dalits (caste Hindus).                                                  The growing desire of Dalits to get control over political power has made them very sure of their friends and foes. Dalit leaders, even after so many years of Independence has identified Upper Castes as their enemy and intermediate castes sometimes as their friends and sometimes as their enemies. Kanshi Ram, a BSP leader initiated a formula of DS4, meaning Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangarsh Samiti, taking into its fold untouchables, STs, Muslims and OBCs.
  • Creamy Layer amongst Dalits – There emerged an elite section amongst Dalits, which protects its turf under the banner of Dalits at the cost of poorest of Dalits. The Supreme Court In famous Indira Sawney case in 1992 had observed that the benefits of Reservation policy had been cornered by influential and dominant sections of different Dalit caste groups covered under the scheme . In order to make it available to really needy persons, it directed the Government to identify creamy layer among the backward castes and exclude it from taking the benefits of Reservations. Because it was a measure of protective discrimination to help the socially disadvantaged. The inclusion and exclusion of a caste or a section of caste would have to be periodically reviewed, to take care of the changing circumstances. The court had directed the Government to specify “within four months”, the basis of exclusion – the basis of income or extent of holding or otherwise of creamy layer.
  • Vested interest of Dalits creamy layer – Creamy layer  amongst Dalits does not care much to bring poor Dalit masses into the mainstream. For some, presence and miseries of large number of dalits is a recipe for Dalit vote-bank, for others enjoying all the benefits of affirmative action programs initiated and implemented by the Government of India and other concessions given to them. Whatever might be the condition of Dalit masses, but the political power and arrogance of Dalit leaders and intellectuals are at rise. And here lies the crux of Dalit poltics.

Analysis Of Dalit Empowerment

Role of Dalits in electoral politicsAll the major national political formations, national or provincial, Front, are wooing frantically Dalit leaders and competing with each other to have a pre or post poll alliance with them. Instead of demanding a share in power structure, equity or social justice, Dalits now want to reverse the power equation and to transform the society by capturing all political power. Their aim is to get hold over the posts of PM-CM (Political Power) through electoral politics and control over administrative authority – the bureaucracy – through Reservations/Affirmative Action Program.

Impact on paternalistic policies on Education- The following has been the effect of focusing on quantity rather than quality in the sphere of education: –

  • Tremendous pressure has been exerted for expanding the educational facilities at the higher and professional level, reducing hopes for more funds for elementary education;
  • Capitation fee colleges are getting a boost. Earlier, most of them were found in the South, but in post-Mandal period, the trend of Capitation fee colleges started in the North as well;
  • There has been pressure for opening up gates fully for private sector in the field of education, so that at least students get admission, even if the rate of payment is inflated.
  • Brain drain, which already has been a problem, got intensified further after the Mandal. Earlier when anti-Brahmin movement and Reservations started in the South, many Brahmin families migrated from Madras Presidency and settled in other parts of the country or abroad. Now with Reservation spreading in North as well, they are exploring the greener pastures abroad. The sad part is that the reverse discrimination has forced the cream of the nation to go out of country and serve others. Many organizations have come up during Post-Mandal era to help the bright students and professionals to get nice jobs in foreign lands.
  • Students agitation and unrest is continuously increasing with the growing number of educated unemployed,
  • Whether amongst youth or grown ups, the casteist, religious and ideological intolerance has generated communal violence and caste animosities everywhere in the country.

Inter and Intra-Caste rivalries – Every caste is a conglomeration of sub-castes and sub-sub-castes. For political actions, they come together, bearing the same caste tag. But they do not forget their separate identities. The political classification of society into caste Hindus, backwards, SCs, STs and minorities for Reservations and other preferential measures has increased the in-fights between these categories and created social disorder, making the task of governance difficult. The unity of backward castes under the label of Dalits is an illusion created by vested interests. Neither the term Schedule caste”, nor OBC nor Dalit makes them a homogenous class. In the opinion of MSS Pandian, an academic with Madras Institute of Development Studies, the current inter caste rivalries are part of a series of periodic revolt, whose prime object is self assertion.[i]

Intra-Caste rivalries – Not only are there inter caste rivalries, but intra-caste rivalries exist as well. Every caste has both, rich and poor people. The rich amongst them not only oppress the caste lower to it, but also the poor people of its own caste. It is not that forward castes, SCs, STs and OBCs are rivals of each other. Many emerging castes within each political group are fighting against each other for power, such as amongst intermediate castes – Jats, Yadavs, Koeries are fighting with each other for power. Also, the attempt of each political party to woo the same Dalit, OBC or minority group has given rise to intra-caste rivalries. In order to be one up each party tries to please different castes within each group by taking up different sectional issues. Each powerful caste now acts independently during elections and seeks political alliance before and after election with other caste groups. Post-election alliances, in an attempt to secure a majority, have led to the rise of inter-caste and intra-caste rivalries. (Sunday, pp. 12-13, and 8-14, June, 1997).

Anger against upper caste in rise The circumstances has resulted in the rise of anger against the Elitist upper caste people. After Mandal, this anger has engulfed the whole nation. Anyone doubting the efficacy of Reservation Policy is labeled today as a part of Manuwadi Brahminical system, which for ages has used religious scriptures, injunctions, propaganda and plain force to impose on masses many deprivations. The politics of revenge makes people irrational, and the authorities to go for reverse discrimination. At present, the forward castes doubt that they are being treated as second rate citizens in their own country, because they are scattered and other categories are united, well organised, and have the advantage of their numerical strength. In such an atmosphere, it is easy for the political authorities to withdraw opportunities from them and bestow it on the Backward classes; not necessarily the real disadvantaged sections.

The animosity of has tended withdrawal attitude amongst forward castes Recently the talented youth started withdrawing themselves from active politics or joining bureaucracy. Liberalization and globalization has opened up a new vista for them. They either join private sector or multi-national companies or go abroad in search of job. Information technology or software industry is full of such people. The private sector takes good care of them. It again breeds inter-caste jealousy.

Rift between OBCs and Dalits The Backwards and Dalits do not have much in common among them, except for their hatred for the caste Hindus, especially Brahmins. Intermediate castes always wanted to be aligned with power. Earlier in the social sphere, when upper castes were strong, they were their right hand persons. Forward castes, have always been non-militant and passive by nature. Therefore, they could not exert force on the lower strata. On behalf of them, the intermediate castes exerted the force on the lower castes. At present, when the wind is blowing in favour of Dalits, OBCs have joined hands with Dalits, to displace the forward castes and to grab the political power.

Dalits have always been in conflict with OBCs at social level, in politics, they have no option, but to support them to achieve their mission to change the power equation. Too much assertiveness of Dalit and backward leaders has already created growing confrontation between the lowest and different  intermediate castes in various parts of the country – Dalits Vs Marathas in Maharashtra, Dalits Vs Yadavs in UP and Bihar or Dalits Vs Thevars in Tamil Nadu. A huge social churning is going on the margins of the society.

The fight initially started between rural poor (marginal and marginalized) – Poor OBCs with a bit of land and some degree of political protection infuriated poorer Dalits, who neither had land, nor education, nor political power. In urban areas the fight is again for property and jobs. The main fight is for land, jobs, education and other opportunities to ensure security and progress. This fight is moving from the margins to center stage of Indian politics. Therefore, there is not much in common between a BC landless agricultural laborer and OBC landowner.

Very often, the rudeness of OBC towards BC is the main cause of social tension in rural India. Caste-Hindus, even Brahmins have been more considerate to an untouchable than intermediate caste such as rich Jat, Maratha, Reddy, or Patel etc. In the post-Mandal era, the intermediate castes have become very strong economically and politically. They own big farmland and employ landless tillers for farming. Their numerical strength gave them the political power also. The economic and political strength made OBCs to exploit the downtrodden.

Dalit assertion and a massive shift in power in favour of Dalits – Along with OBC, the post Mandal era has witnessed Dalit assertion and a massive shift in power in favour of Dalits as well. With the caste equation hardening, the Dalit groups got united. They have come together and are fighting for their rights. Earlier they allowed OBCs to exploit them, now they resent it. Todays’ Dalits are aggressive and militant enough to take the OBCs head on. OBCs are getting it back with the rise of Dalit reprisal attacks, which often results in heavy loss of life and property on both the sides. Dalit militancy is increasing with the rise of new militant outfits like BSP, Devendrakula Vellalar Federation, Thyagi Immanual Paravai, Dalit Panthers of India etc. The striking feature of New Dalit militancy is their utter disregard for the present set up and their attempt to capture political power. Dalit leaders are pursuing Dalit empowerment with vengeance.

Dalits influence at International platformDalits are not satisfied even after having growing influence in ballot-box politics and attaining enough places in the government jobs. Since 2001, these activists have been pushing the cause internationally arguing that Indian Dalits are like blacks in US till 1950. They faced problems in workplace, at school and in temples.

In 2005, some Dalit leaders belonging to All India Confederation have sought intervention USA, UN and the British and EU Parliaments on the issues of ‘untouchability’. UN recognizes religion, race, language and gender as main causes of inequality in the world. Dalt activists want caste to be included too in this category. They desire to have Global alliance, global involvement and intervention of the international community to put pressure on the government of India to address the problem Dalit marginalization. They feel that globalization and privatization has made it difficult for Dalits, tribals and OBC’s to compete on equal footing or find enough space in the job market within the country or abroad. At the behest of the Republican Congressman from New Jersey, Chris Smith, the US Congress had held a hearing on 6.10. 05 on the subject. A resolution on the issue – “ India’s unfinished Agenda: Equality and Justice for 200 million victims of the caste system” was prepared by the house committee on International Relations and US Human Rights to be tabled in the US Congress. “Despite the Indian government’s extensive affirmative action policies, which aim to open government service and education to Dalits and tribes, most have been left behind by India’s increasing prosperity…. Much much more remains to be done.” The resolution says, “It is in the interest of US to address the problem of the treatment of groups outside the caste system… in the republic of India in order to better meet our mutual economic and security goals….”

So far, intensive lobbying by Dalit groups including followers of Ravidass sect succeeded in getting passed the Equity Bill on March 24, 2010 in the house of Lords. It empowered the government to include ‘caste’ within the definition of ‘race’. In 2001, India was able in keeping caste out of the resolution adopted at 2001 Durban Conference.

Along with it, staunch supporters of Human Rights, some Scandinavian countries, Church organizations around the world and Lutheran World Federation have shown interest and expressed their solidarity with Dalits. Recently the comment of UN Commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay asking India that “time has come to eradicate the shameful concept of caste” and proposals of UN Human Rights Council’s or US based Human Rights Watch (HRW) to recognize caste as a form of discrimination ‘based on descent and birth’ appear not to be based on rational understanding of caste system. Their opinion about untouchability is greatly influenced by the lobbying of powerful/influential Dalit leaders and Dalit intelligentsia.

No one knows where the Dalit assertion will lead the nation to? – It is not the paternalistic policies, (which have failed to yield so far the desired results) that are required for the uplift and empowerment of submerged sections of society, but there is need to educate, make them aware of their rights and duties, provide enough employment opportunities and basic civic facilities like health etc. at the grass root level for the sustainable growth of backward communities.

Conclusion –India has covered a long distance since its Independence. For political opportunism, its culture and traditions should not be blamed.

  • Indian culture has always preached, “whatever the colour of the cow,the milk is always white. Whatever be the background, lifestyle, race, religion or caste, each human is an image of God and a foundation of love, therefore, deserved to  be honoured.”
  • It is a matter of shame that after 70 years of its self-rule and giving so much protection to weaker sections, incidents of discrimination are reported to be increasing day by day. Instead of defaming it or single-it out for exploitation  or discrimination, it is desirable that law-implementing machinery should get tough on perpetrators of injustice. Discriminatory practices or oppression of weaker sections of society is unacceptable to the whole of humanity.
  • Instead of blaming an invisible institution (caste-system) for discrimination, deep wisdom and honesty of purpose is needed to find out right methods and courage to strive for it sincerely. To fight caste-ism, it is important to economically uplift the poor and prepare them through sound system of education and training and also making them aware of their rights and duties to fight their own battles and pave their way towards sustainable development.
  • So-called ‘Backward castes’ need to understand the spirit of Indian Constitution and try to adapt thinking, culture and life-style of the mainstream of the nation. Otherwise, there will always be cultural rifts, both in their lives and minds, threatening the unity of the nation from time to time.
  • Today, when the whole world is reeling between economic depression and and terrorism, people expect from the government to bring in change in economic situation and in fight against terrorism. Hate, jealousy, anxiety or fear leads to violence and give rise to wars, riots, antagonisms and class or caste conflicts.
  • After-effects of the great economic depression of 2008 has brought many social and economic changes and aggravated the problems for present government. The GDP growth has fallen there, business investment has dipped alarmingly. Unemployment has risen. Therefore, Government needs to be very careful, while planning for measures (developmental or punitive) to be taken. The needs and aspirations of the people as a whole should be taken care of by the government, not of any specific section of the society.
  • Present atmosphere demands to resolve sensibly the differences and clashes of interests peacefully with rational thinking and understanding for each other. For a change, India needs collective nation building efforts of both the authorities and the public with a sense of justice, commitment to the nation, understanding for each other and consciousness about duties along with rights.
  • Following steps could to be taken to bring to an end discrimination of any kind –
    • First of all, government should find out root causes of discrimination and deprivation,
    • Government should identify without bias vulnerable groups, which are discriminated against by the present modern society. It should not be on the basis of caste.
    • Identify the special needs or problems of each group separately,
    • Accordingly plan about the measures to be taken to protect the interests of vulnerable individuals.
    • Well meaning judicious laws, which could directly improve day today life of common men, should be carefully legislated.
    • Such laws should not remain only on papers but have to be executed/implemented in real life for dealing with social injustice effectively.
    • To give relief to ‘Have-nots’, the way out is to tackle effectively local crimes against common man whether in rural or urban areas and improve law and order position.
    • The money meant for the development purposes should actually be spent for which it is intended i.e. the betterment of submerged sections of society.
    • Power generally rests with physical strength, wealth and knowledge. Knowledge brings in both physical strength and wealth. Therefore, stress on knowledge through ‘education for all’ should be the top priority for the government for empowerment of weaker sections, which are victims of discrimination.
    • Widespread human rights violations should be stopped by punishing the culprits.
    • It is necessary to put honest and right persons at crucial positions. There are very few people, who have the knowledge/understanding what to do, how to do and when to do;

Winding up – A strong political will and courage is needed to bring to an end caste-ism and with it all kinds of discriminatory attitudes, repressive laws and practices. For the prosperity of the nation and tension-free/stress-free life of common man, as suggested by First Backward class Commission’s Chairman Kaka Kalelkar in mid fifties, “National solidarity in a democratic set up demands Government to recognize only two ends – the individual at one end and the nation as a whole at the other. Nothing should be encouraged to organize itself in between these two ends to the detriment of the freedom of the individual and solidarity of the nation. All communal and denominational organizations and groupings of lesser and narrower units have to be watched carefully, so that they do not jeopardize the national solidarity and do not weaken the efforts of the nation to serve the various elements in the body politic with equity. Mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust are the touchstone, on which all communal and denominational activities will be tested.”

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating” Kofi Annan

The only way – “You have to work-out your own problems, work hard everyday; you have to hold on to the real thing; believe me, there’s no other way!” Gertrude T Buckingham

January 7, 2018 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | | Leave a comment

Caste politics

 “In present-day understanding of caste system, the element of caste is   predominant and   the element of system is suppressed considerably.”

Introduction

Very Sensitive issue – Entry of caste into national politics has turned it into a very sensitive issue –  both defended and opposed, mostly criticized vehemently by politicians, intellectuals, activists or reformers from other faiths. Critics  of caste system regard practices of caste system as problematic and complicated. It has become a fashion in certain quarters to criticize caste system. So much and so that the word ‘Caste’ itself has become a derogatory word in present political scenario. In recent past, entry of caste -politics has become a complicated and problematic issue, which is hampering the government’s efforts to provide a good governance to the nation and work for its sustainable development.

Caste system as problematic and complicated? – Indian society is being portrayed as a ‘caste-ridden society’ and caste for all the miseries of submerged sections of society – from illiteracy to creating disparities of power, wealth and culture, escalation of violence, crimes and corruption. It is blamed for  pushing the nation towards disintegration, discrimination and exploitation of weaker, unprivileged sections of society to forcing destitution on vast number of people.

No caste-politics earlier – There was not so much heart-burning because of caste earlier. Venom against caste in some quarters does not lie in distant past, but only about 150 years back. It got escalated during British Imperial rule in India. The roots of present socio-political and economic ills and deprivation of masses on large scale lie not so much in caste system as mainly on the issues like poverty, illiteracy, population-explosion, or mass-unemployment etc.

Is creation of a casteless society possible? – Common men are reluctant to replace or abandon caste-system – an institution of proven value on trial and error basis. So far the supporters of “caste-less society” have not been able to suggest a better alternative scheme, or not thought of new creating new support systems and norms needed to substitute caste-system. People in general are not willing to experiment a new system of casteless society. They are not sure about the effectiveness of caste-less society. They think, substituting present caste-ridden Indian society with a caste-less society is no solution for empowering weaker sections of society or removing its adverse effects caste-politics. Therefore, creation of casteless society remains a distant dream.

Majority wishes for rational reforms in the already existing system – Generally common men feels that ‘Politicization of caste’ needs to be arrested at its earliest. They wish to make improvements in the tried and tested old system by removing deformities developed into it with time. A change is good for the growth of a society. But changes must be based on constant interpretation of past experiences and opinions, present requirements and existing ground realities of the place and future prospects.

Caste as a recipe for creating vote-banks – Entry of ‘caste’ into politics has led to unchecked growth of caste-ism. For politicians, it is a recipe for creating vote-banks. Unfortunately, those very people, who criticize caste-system vehemently, them-selves cling to their own caste-identity very strongly.  For others, it is the base to enjoy special privileges/benefits of affirmative action programs initiated and implemented by the Government of India. Elite section amongst so-called lower castes protects its turf under the banner of backward castes. The interest of all lies in keeping the majority of people ignorant, insecure and out of mainstream, so that they can be lured easily by making appeasement, protectionist false promises to further their sectional interests. And here lies the crux of present day’s caste-ist politics.

Has caste system become obsolete  – Even today, caste-system has not become obsolete despite all the weaknesses developed into the system and all the attacks on it from time to time. It has survived the vicissitudes of time and saved itself so far by erosion from within or assault from outside. Had it become obsolete, it would have given place to other systems. Indian social structure based on caste still presents one of the oldest social institution. It presents a continuous and uninterrupted living culture still existing in the whole world.

Allover the world, many systems, institutions, structures, principles, and cultures have been developed from time to time, which created a wave sweeping the entire world with it for some time. But soon, they became obsolete and were replaced by anti-waves which replaced them and wiped off the previous influence. But caste system, on which Indian social structure is based, has proved to be an exception. After each assault, it re-emerged with greater force.

How and when caste entered into politics and developed into its present form?

Why caste system came into existence?

  • Stratification of a society, a natural phenomenon – Individuals differ from each other in natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics. Such differences are apt to give rise to the formations of different social groups and systems. In every society a number of groups emerge out of its functional necessity. Each society devises its own principles for stratification, for coordinated functioning of all parts together, for keeping its whole system fit and functional as well as for taking care of the interests of its people as a whole. Its basis may differ from place to place. It may be on basis of class, caste, religion, region, language or occupation.  ‘Class’ is the the basis of stratification in the Western Societies and Caste in India.
  •  Ranking of different classes in Western societies –  Usually factors like possession of wealth, occupation, education and qualifications, income, ownership of land, property etc. determines the status of individuals within a Western society. Hierarchical distinctions and status of different individuals within a society depend on their being powerful and powerless. Usually individuals belonging to upper class asserts more power and subordinate classes less power. Factors determining higher class status depend on their costume and grooming, mannerism, cultural refinement and political standing vis-à-vis church/temples/ mosques, government, and/or social clubs. Also use of honorary titles, reputation of honor or disgrace, language, race determine the degrees ofindividuals’ class status.
  • Caste’ as basis India – Caste system is an indigenous system, conceptualized, developed and practiced exclusively in India, it is difficult for Westerners and non-Indians to understand what ‘caste system’ is and what caste means to a common man. In India, stratification is done on the basis of caste system, it gives Indian society a distinguished identity, a solid social structure with a system of thought, way of life, and sense of direction. It is –

Inclusive by nature – In India, stratification begins with a social group, called caste. Caste-system is different from class on some points. It is not concerned with persons individually, but includes all persons belonging to a social group.

A natural social institution – For a common man in India Caste is a natural, valid and inevitable part of Indian society.  An individual is a natural member of Family and of extended family.  Caste is second only to the family.  Its members are bonded by same language, customs, thinking and way of living and occupation. Rules of endogamy, ritual purity, interdependence, specialization and hierarchical order of social units are its important traits.

Separates wealth from status – Caste-system separates wealth from status, power from authority and knowledge from temptations of worldly comforts. All individuals within a caste group – irrespective of their financial position – are equal having similar rank, rights and duties. Its constituent members are supposed to be independent, yet their roles complementary.

Ranking – According to caste-system, the ranking of different castes in Hindu society depend on the nature and social relevance of their work, contribution of their work for social subsistence, efforts required to perform their duties and amount of self restraint/self discipline, they exercise, their relative purity, morality, knowledge and spiritual standards. Considerations of self-discipline, hygiene and cleanliness on the basis of climatic conditions of the region are also given importance, while ranking different castes.

Covers entire social fabric of India – Caste system covers almost the entire social fabric of India.  It has influenced other sects. Muslims or Christians, Sikhs or Buddhist could not remain immune from its its influence and has absorbed many of the systems and practices of caste-system.

Closer relations – A person’s relations with members of his caste are closer than with those, belonging to other castes. Internalized caste norms define an individual role in the society. It makes one feel good and loved, when he lives up to these norms, and anxious and guilty, when he transgresses them.

Historical backgroundThere was no caste-politics in ancient India. It all started during British rule in India. Earlier to that cast-system had created –

  • An atmosphere of co-existence and harmony – It is a historical fact that caste-system had created an atmosphere of co-existence and harmony, coherence, stability, continuity and led to all round growth of the Indian society. Generation after generation people belonging different castes and communities lived together despite numerous foreign invasions, centuries of foreign rule, migrations and assimilation of various groups having diverse languages and practices. It provided unity of culture, which bound together all people of Indian peninsula from one end to the other, thus making unity in diversity a reality.
  • Concepts of forward castes or backward castes non-existent – There was not much disparity between different castes or between urban and rural people. The concepts of forward castes or backward castes, disparities between different sections of society and exploitation of the No caste politics weak were almost non-existent earlier. The tropical climate of the country compelled the people to the distribution of surplus, as it was difficult to store anything for long.
  • Stress on self-restraint and self-discipline – Every caste was supposed to lead a self restraint and self disciplined life in all respect, be it in the matter of daily routine, occupation or inter caste relationship. Brahmins, occupying the highest place in the society, were put under maximum restrictions and were denied accumulation of wealth. They were directed to lead a simple life, devoted to the spiritual and intellectual pursuits. The higher the caste within a Varna, the purer it was considered, and greater was the self-restrictions on its behavior through rituals. The system of each caste having a specific position in the society and a specific work to do with its rights and duties boosted the morale of the people and promoted social equilibrium and solidarity.
  • Inter-dependence because of its local character – Local character and semi-autonomous nature of caste system made close interaction and cooperation between different castes a reality. All the activities of urban or rural areas were confined within a small local area, having very little links with the outside world because of slower means of transport. Only merchants visited different distant places. The local societies used to be self-sufficient mutually `supporting and caring” for each other.
  • No caste took an all India character – No caste took an all India character. There was no nationwide hierarchy of castes. However, in a local area, the relative standing of castes was more or less fixed. All local castes, whether high or low, living in an area mutually depended and supported for fulfilling different kind of needs and cared for each other. All people living in a village or city, were bound together by economic and social ties and had a strong bond of mutual dependence. Rituals required the participation of all castes.
  • Interdependence in social life and self-reliance in personal life – Interdependence in social life and self-reliance in personal life were the intrinsic features of caste system making each local area self-sufficient and capable to fulfill all the needs of its people. People living in a local area shared moments of joy and sorrow with each other. All castes including untouchables were assigned important social duties. Harijan women helped all castes at time of child-birth. Harijan males beat drums in front of Hindu’s houses or in front of a procession on important occasions/ceremonies. Village barber spread news, arranged marriages and served food during celebrations. Occasionally non-Brahmins or Harijans served as priests of temples of goddesses like Sita or Kali, where all castes made offerings. The key, to understand the caste system, was not in seeing it as a framework of hierarchical layers of social order, each fitting neatly below the other, but as a series of vertical parallels. Each caste was an independent entity, with its own hierarchy, based either on a tribal identity or an occupational identity. All the castes were independent, yet their roles complementary.
  • Automatic checks and balances – Decentralized self-regulated systems managed various activities in social, intellectual, political, and economic life and controlled its malfunctioning or dis-functioning. There was hardly any question of all India tyranny of any caste group. There was not a single group identifiable as very strong-dominating all the others, or as an enemy to defeat. Laws remained unmodified and flexible with the capacity to adapt to local customs and situations. People in power and position cared for the lower castes in order to acquire and retain local followers. The system made upper castes generous in matters of food, drinks and loans, when required.
  • Control over arbitrariness of any social group – The plurality of society provided automatic checks and balances and controlled the arbitrariness or unbalanced growth of power of any group. Till medieval period, Indian peasantry in UP, Bihar and MP were armed and put pressure on Kshatriyas. In fact, non-Kshatriya peasant provided leadership of most armed bands, which were numerically predominant and economically and politically strong at the village level. The monopoly of powerful peasant was a reality of the rural life of Medieval India. The Brahmin strongholds were the centers of learning. The floating population, consisting groups like Gujjars, Bhattis, Rajput rangers, who remained outside caste system, were so strong, that they terrorized settled agriculturists for centuries. Forests, which competed with arable land in size and importance, till the 18th century, gave shelter and food to large sections of society and served as havens for those in search of escape from society. Thus, from time to time, and place to place, different castes rose and fell in their social order, some died out and new ones were formed.
  • More stress on duties – The system clearly specifies duties, privileges and restrictions of each role separately and managed relationship with others. It encourages self-discipline, self-control and self-direction. Sprees on one’s responsibilities/duties rather than on rights, combined with principle of inter- dependence provides its own system of checks and balances over arbitrary use of one’s authority and leads to automatic decentralization of authority.
  • Flexibility and adaptability – Caste system took different shades and meaning with the changing times and places. Once changed, it never returned to its original form. Its adaptability and absorptive nature has pronged its life. The system evolved its structures and systems leisurely and kept on coping with the slow changes, time brought in. Its character during Indus Valley Civilization was altogether different from what exists today. It is still in a transient phase. It is different in context of village, locality, region or religion.
  • High level of intelligence and specialization – The Caste system served as a spawning bed for social and technical skills. By its very nature, it encouraged the development and preservation of local skills. There was a tendency to bring in the most diversified skills to high level of excellence. It was encouraged with religious and semi-religious sanctions. Assignment of different functions to different communities led to the transfer of knowledge and expertise, from one generation to another, through inheritance and evolved an atmosphere, where a high level of Specialization and wisdom in different areas of activities could be achieved. 
  • Natural training without investment – The Caste system transmitted the tricks of a trade, hidden intricacies, solutions of their occupational problems, intelligence, abilities, experiences, values and skills from one generation to another in a natural way. They learned it while growing up, informally from their elders. It gave them confidence and saved them from confusion or unhealthy competition. Being in constant contact with the family occupation, it was natural for the people to learn maximum about their traditional occupations.
  • Acted as a shield – During medieval India, caste system was a major force for failure of Islam, Christianity and other religions to make headway even after mass conversion. Though many evil practices developed in the system during this period, but it acted as a shield for Hindus to retain their cultural identity, while living under alien rule, whether it was of Mughals, Portuguese or British.

 Caste-system worked so well and efficiently in ancient India that when the world was passing through Dark Age, India was full of light. First few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. Caste system had wisely organized all activities of society properly. The first few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. During this period, arts, commerce, crafts, philosophy and knowledge flourished magnificently. Its people reached a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas. Many travelers visiting India, from alien lands at different points of time, confirmed that India possessed huge wealth, knowledge, and quality of life. It was a cheerful land. Each person found a niche in the social system. Its people reached a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas. It was a cheerful land.

Derailment of Caste as a system after the downfall of Hindu Raj – Many deformities and social evils have been developed into caste system after the downfall of Hindu Raj and old Hindus values. Continuous invasions of Turks, Afghans and Mughals during medieval period, when most of the Muslim rulers and Priests humiliated and annihilated the value system of Hindus, destroyed their places of worship and made them victim of all kinds of excesses -like conversion of Hindus into Islam, willingly or forcibly, imposition of Zaziya on Hindus etc.

It was difficult for Hindus to preserve their identity and indigenous culture during medieval period. The conscious efforts by them to preserve their values and honour, made the caste rules and rituals stricter and more rigidly applied than before. (Basham, Ibid pp 181-82). Many social evils like Sati Pratha; Dowry, Purdah system etc. took birth. Religious fundamentalism was born. Hindu and Muslim priests, alike, arbitrarily distorted and misinterpreted the tenets of their respective religions. It led to the process of stiffening/ hardening/ crystallizing of the caste system. Besides, the feudalistic attitude, extravagance and luxurious life style of Mughal rulers and those at the helm of authority, increased the disparity between the rulers and the ruled.

Start of Caste politics during British Rule – British rulers had a double mission in India, one destructive, the other regenerating; the annihilation of the old Asiatic Society and laying the material foundation of Western Society in Asia. The regenerating character was concerned with social transformation through modern education, English language as a medium of learning and official language, modernization in economic sphere, political unification of the country and laying foundations for many democratic institutions. The reactionary and destructive character was seen in the economic and social sphere. The growth of casteism had a close connection with these developments.

Caste-politics and communalism fanned by British rulers for political reasons – British rulers purposely-(especially to divide Hindu population) launched an ideological attack on Indian social structure and its caste system . They portrayed caste-system as “highly stratified” dividing its people into vast number of groups having distinct and diverse thinking and life-styles. They called it “discriminatory,” “iniquitous,” “exploitative,” “oppressive” “barbarous,” and “uncivilized” system. They held caste system responsible for evil social practices, feudalistic attitude, backward thinking, belief in dogmas and superstitions sustained by a unique set of rituals, and whimsical concept of purity and pollution. They blamed caste-system for evil social practices, feudalistic attitude, backward thinking, belief in dogmas and superstitions sustained by a unique set of rituals, and whimsical concept of purity and pollution as well as spreading  prejudice, high handedness and rude behavior of caste Hindus towards the lower strata of society.

Growth of Caste-Politics – British rulers made caste and community as tools to make Indians fight amongst themselves. They adopted the path of ‘divide and rule’. Initially they recognized officially political formations of different sections of society on basis of race, religion, caste, creed, or place. Then they adopted policies, which gave a boost to caste-ist tendencies. They re-classified the castes from Brahmins (Learners), Khhatrias (Warriors), Vaishyas (Business men)and Shudras (workers under the guidance of above three groups) to Upper castes, backward castes, Scheduled castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities and politicized it according to their administrative convenience. British rulers showed to the Leaders of independent India the way how to ignite/enflame caste rivalries.

The way the following policies were implemented, had led to the entry and growth of caste-politics during 19th and 20th centuries were –

  • Modern education – Modern education disassociated Indians from their traditional way of learning, classical roots and knowledge. With it faded Indian values, philosophies and traditions. Tough competition between different sections of society to get hold on modern occupations, led to inter-caste rivalries, social tensions and group conflicts among Indians.
  • Modern means of transport – The modern means of transport and communications destroyed the local character of society. Modern means of transport had sharply restricted the hold of caste-elders over its members and replaced the traditional pattern of checks and balances and leadership by voluntary associations, social reformers and political leaders. Caste organizations emerged and entered into region-wise caste alliances.
  • Industrialization – Industrialization has led to urbanization and change in occupational pattern in India. The British discouraged local genius, cottage industries and fine arts. Many traditional occupations became obsolete, or less paying or were regarded more hazardous and more time consuming. The British apathy towards indigenous skills, knowledge and occupations had scattered efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsman, weavers etc. Millions of people were pushed backwards in a very subtle manner and loosened the sanctity of caste rules and caste consciousness in matters of occupation.                                          Very few of them could join modern occupations. Majority belonging to different castes could neither enter modern sector, nor could stick to their traditional occupations considering menial work derogatory and lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride. Such people added the numbers of poor agricultural laborers, industrial workers or marginal labors or unemployed. Outcome of such a development has been casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style, commitment, motivation and culture.It led to the decay of village industries as the competition was directly with the cheap machine goods.
  • Introduction of Electoral politics –  The introduction of electoral politics, in the beginning of the 20th century gave rise to “Power in numbers”. It gave political leverage to the non-Brahmin castes on account of their numerical strength. It started cut-throat competition for scarce positions of power and prestige under British Raj.                                                                                           Granting of separate Muslim Electorate by Minto Morley Reforms Minto-Morley Reforms, known as Government of India Act of 1909, brought the idea of communal electorate to the forefront in the minds of all the castes and communities, which led successfully to divide Hindu population also into two uncompromising groups, viz. `We” Non-Brahmins vs. `They” Brahmins and caste Hindus.
  • ‘Policy of Reservations’ – Muslims and Non-Brahmin castes resented dominance of Brahmins in education and administration. To restrict Brahmin’s entry in Government jobs and make it available to non-Brahmins communities, British rulers started practice of “Preferences” by giving them financial assistance and preferences in education and Government employment at local and provincial level. It served double purpose for them – getting credit for amelioration and protection of downtrodden and keeping natives busy in their in-fights.                                                           Privileges bestowed on ‘preferential-basis’ by the rulers – British rulers devised a novel method to distribute and balance the domination of Brahmins in education and employment on ‘preferential-basis’. The patronage of British rulers to non-Brahmin castes and Muslims led them to emerge as powerful pressure groups. The powerful voice of Non Brahmin leaders made government to pursue the principle of special attention on the basis of caste. It was strongly established in the South at provincial level, which ultimately gave birth to the policy of reservation. 1905 to 1940 was the period, when idea of Reservation/positive discrimination was conceived, experimented and established firmly. It opened up various channels of confrontation.                                            Communal Award, Poona pact of 1932 – Communal Award of 1932 created a permanent split in Hindu Society and perpetuated casteism further. It made impossible the assimilation of different castes under one fold. Dr. Rajendra Prasad said, ‘the principle of dividing population into communal groups, which had been adopted in the Minto Morley reforms had been considerably extended, even beyond what had been done by Montagu Chelmsford Reforms… The electorate in 1919 was broken up into 10 parts, now it is fragmented into seventeen unequal bits… Hindu community was further weakened by giving separate representation to Scheduled castes. Division on the basis of religion, occupation and service were made. Every possible cross division was introduced by the British. The Communal Award strengthened the roots of casteism in politics.

‘Census operations’ – Through Census operations, British rulers divided Indian social structure in a fundamental way and gave rigidity to social stratification and hierarchical ranking.

  • The older four Varnas, embracing numerous castes and sub-castes within its fold were divided into five new unbridgeable compartments – Backward caste, forward caste (caste Hindus), untouchables or scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and minority. Through legal process, each one got a new separate and distinct identity. The new way of classifying the Indian society instigated caste consciousness, caste animosities and made caste a tool in political, religious and cultural battles that Hindus fought amongst themselves from now onwards without any sign of relief even as of today.
  • Destroyed the flexibility of caste system – Census operations are responsible for destroying the flexibility of caste system and giving rigidity to social stratification and hierarchical ranking. Caste was a flexible and fluid unit of Indian society. Census operations codified the castes and standardized the system by placing all the jatis into four Varnas or in the categories of outcastes and aborigines. Census operations, led to an all-round hardening of social-system and to frantic effort by each group-for upward mobility. It led to caste-ism in politics.
  • Pigeonholed everyone by caste and community – Middleton, a Census Superintendent remarked, “We pigeonholed everyone by caste and community. We deplore its effect on social and economic problems. But we are largely responsible for the system…Our land records and official documents have added iron-bonds to the old rigidity of caste…. The government’s act for labels and pigeon-holes had led to a crystallization of the caste system, which, except amongst the aristocratic caste, was really very fluid under indigenous rule.”
  • Census enumeration far from neutral – The process of Census enumeration was far from neutral. The British retained the distinctions between different sub-castes, relevant to them for organizing labor and homogenized all those sub-castes, for which they had no use, therefore, no interest. All the floating population like Gujjars, Bhattis, Ranger Rajputs, who remained out-side caste system were fused into one. The Census operation kept Brahmins, whom, the British administrators, Christian Missionaries and Orientalists, pinpointed as the potential threat to the British, at periphery and, instigated other castes against them.
  • Venom against caste-system and the Brahmin community – The leaders of the downtrodden like Mahatma Phule, Baba Saheb Ambedkar or Gopal Ganesh taught the lower castes to get united. They instilled deeply in the minds of millions of unlettered Hindus, venom against caste-system and the Brahmin community. Caste system, to them, was responsible for treating them as lesser human beings; engaging them in forced labour, unsavory jobs imposing many restrictions on them; preventing them from joining the mainstream of the society; and the subjugation of lower castes with the help of religion.
  • Suggestion to exclude Untouchables from Hindu-fold – The suggestion of Census Commissioner to exclude untouchables from Hindu fold in the coming 1911 census immediately increased the importance of untouchables in political circle, in social circle, and in their own eyes too. Around 1909, the non-Brahmin Community, which resented the Brahmins hold in modern occupations, was divided into two Backwards and untouchables. For the first time, the lowest layer of Hindu Community was conceptualized under the name of untouchability in the political circles.
  • The leaders vehemently criticized its hierarchical structure based on caste, and regarded untouchability as an inevitable concomitant of caste system. Dr. Ambedkar made it abundantly clear that, it was through political power that untouchables were to find their solution, not through acceptance by Hindus. Eradication of caste system became the major plank of ‘backward’ castes and ‘untouchable’ castes.

                                                                         After Independence

The seeds of ‘divide and rule’, sown by British imperial rulers, have blossomed in full in Independent India. Casteism, corruption, criminalization etc. are some of the direct consequences of political expediency and opportunism. Present-day politics encourages sectional forces, which are vocal and demand enough space for themselves in job-market and higher education aggressively. There is no respite from casteism.

Modernization, industrialization and urbanization, liberalization  and  Globalization have lessened the rigidities of caste in social arena. But its growing influence in national politics has created many problems. Focus of people on pursuit of money and materialistic pleasures and erosion of basic moral and human values has led to alarming disparities of power, wealth and culture amongst different sections of society. There is complete centralization of control systems in the hands of a few Individuals and groups with political, money or muscle power, who control destiny of millions and have say in almost every walk of national life. Casteism, communalism, rigid attitude, in-discipline, violence, corruption, and chase of materialism based on ruthless competition have weakened the social fabric beyond repair.

Attempts for social changes make a virtue of narrow loyalties of caste and religion, generating sub-cultures like favoritism, lure for easy money, nepotism and, in-discipline in the society. Caste and communal conflicts are increasing. There are sectarian and regional imbalances generating social and psychological tensions. The work culture has been degenerated.

Under-currents of caste politics have made the task of governance difficult, making the governance of the nation difficult and ineffective. The administration has become incompetent to solve the burning national issues. It has turned the vision of national development into an empty dream.

Caste more liberal in social sphere – In modern India, spread of literacy and growing awareness among masses has already brought to an end slowly but steadily many of the discriminatory practices and deformities developed in Caste system, while living under alien rule. It has become more liberal and less restrictive in social life of the people. Castes no longer enjoy legal or religious sanctions.

Castes Less restrictive – Expulsion from castes means little, while earlier it meant complete social ostracism. Old style of authority and power exercised by caste-elders has already diminished except for a few rural areas especially in Haryana and Rajasthan. Restrictions or interactions between different castes arising due to considerations for purity and pollution are fading away from public life even from rural areas. Traditional barriers on marriage, hereditary occupations and commonality are loosing its importance.

Poor governance – There is no respite to a large number of people. Even now, after 70 years of Independence, millions of people suffer from poverty, disparity, discrimination and deprivation. They are still exploited mercilessly by strong men of society. Why?

It is not the caste-system, but the bad politics and poor governance, which is responsible. Modern India is sharply divided into two – “haves” and “have-nots”. The most important factors responsible for disparities are vote-bank politics, irrational and corrupt ways of pursuing the paternal policies and government’s failure to address real issues at central and State levels.

‘Caste’, the most powerful tool for creation of  vote-banks –  ‘Caste’ has become a bye-word for Indian politicians. For the present-day political leaders caste is the easiest and most powerful tool to sway public opinion emotionally and to create a larger vote bank for them. It may be called ossification of caste-system fallen into the hands of power brokers and vote guzzlers.

Emergence of political identities – For political and governance purposes, modern Indian society has been stratified in most insensitive manner. For grabbing the political power, caste politics has  divided Indian people into the following unbridgeable groups – Upper castes, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled tribes, Other Backward Class and Minorities. Every time, before elections, groups formed on the basis of caste and community make fake promises to pursue sectional interests shamelessly.

Narrow loyalties of caste and religion  – Narrow loyalties of caste and religion are encouraged in political arena. It has generated sub-cultures like caste-ism, favoritism, and lure for easy money, nepotism, parochialism, communalism, regionalism etc. Bigoted sentiments and irresponsible comments are spreading in-discipline in the society. The rising aspirations and demands of people, with the spread of education and awareness, has created added problem for the government.

Under-currents of caste politics – Under-currents of caste politics have made the government incapable to solve the burning national issues. It has made to maintain law and order difficult. Inter-caste and intra-caste, inter-community and intra-community and inter-tribal and intra-tribal conflicts are increasing day by day in order to get more space in the corridors of power.

Real issues pushed into the background – Real issues like mass-scale illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, inflation, deteriorated law and order situation, increasing violence or general coarsening of moral fiber of the Indian society etc. are pushed into the background. the voice of upright and honest people belonging to middle class is being continuously throttled mercilessly. They are being punished for following sincerely family-planning norms, which has decreased their numbers. In present day vote-bank politics based on game of numbers, it is very easy now for the pursuers of political power to sideline them.

 Winding up

Empowerment of masses depends on inculcation of knowledge and awareness through ‘education for all’. Usually Power rests with those having either knowledge or physical strength or wealth. Knowledge brings in both force and wealth. Instead of putting blame on caste-system, it would be more desirable to make arrangements for sound system of education for empowering the submerged sections of society.

Despite all the undesirable developments taken place in the system, caste system is still quite popular amongst Indian masses. Not only Hindus, but other sects living in India, with all their egalitarian faith, whether foreign or indigenous, like Muslims and Christians, Sikhs or Buddhist, have not remained immune from its caste system. They have also absorbed many of its practices and systems.

Change one must. Past should not be idolized. Any system, which in light of modern times appears to be ineffective or inefficient should be replaced by a better one. But it will be suicidal to sacrifice something to an increasing passion for change. Changes must be based on constant interpretation of past experiences and opinions.

 

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January 5, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Humanism, Religion, Secularism and Hinduism

 

‘Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion. So be kind, be    compassionate.’

                                                                                                                                                      The xiv, Dalai Lama

 ‘Nip Fundamentalism in the bud itself’.

Introduction – 

The word Humanism is linked with the civil society of the whole world, ideology of Secularism originated in West and Hinduism in India. The ultimate purpose of all the three, Secularism, Humanism or Hinduism is the same. Their role is complimentary not comparative or opposite to each other. All the three aims at no-discrimination or no distinction between people on the basis of religion. They seek development of physical, spiritual and intellectual nature of human to the higher possible point. They lay stress on human efforts to achieve material benefits within the framework of law and moral and intellectual values. Opposite to it communalism pushes people to have towards blind faith in their respective religions and advises them even to take extreme steps, if it becomes necessary.

Religion – Greatest religion in this world is that of Humanism, which embraces the whole world and all human beings living in this world. All religions teach brotherhood and harmony.   but all ways eventually led to one – the God of all Humans. Paths prescribed by different religions may be different. But objective is the same. Therefore, mutual respect for all religions must be promoted.

HumanismHuman values are social and ethical norms, which are common to all cultures, religions and societies. According to George Jacob Holyoake secularism is concerned purely on considerations on Humanism. “Secularism is that which seeks development of the physical, moral and intellectual nature of man to the higher possible point, as immediate duty of life” irrespective of religion and it, “selects as its methods of procedure the promotion of human improvement by material means proposes those positive agreements as the common bond of union of all who would regulate life by reason and enable it by service.”(Quoted from Kulkarni, Indian Democracy, pp 55-56)

Secularism – The meaning of the word ‘Secularism in itself is quite vague. There is contradiction in the perception and practice of the concept of secularism. The dictionary meaning of secular is “worldly”.

  • Secularism is relatively a recent word foreign origin. Its origin of lies in the West. It is an outcome of Renaissance movement of medieval period. Secular formula was evolved after a long conflict between Church and the State over power and supremacy. Concept of secularism was evolved.
  • The Peace of Westphalia’ in 1648 separated completely the functions of the State and the Church. According to it the State was responsible to provide good governance and well-being of society. It has nothing to do with religion. Religion was assigned to take care of spiritual interest of the people.
  • ‘According to Dictionary of Politics “A secular State is one which has no official ties to any religious movement”.
  • The concept of secularism is associated with George Jacob Holyoake, a British social reformer. According to him, Secularism, “selects as its methods of procedure the promotion of human improvement by material means and purposes those positive agreements as the common bond of union to all who would regulate life by reason and enable by service. (Quoted from Kulkarni, Indian Democracy, p.56)
  • According to D.E Smith, a great scholar, a secular state as “a state which guarantees individual and corporate freedom or religion, deals with the individual as a citizen irrespective of his religion, is not constitutionally connected to a particular religion nor does it seeks either to promote or interfere with it.”
  • On 12 October 1947, in a Press Conference in N. Delhi Pt. Nehru said that ‘some people think that the secular state means something opposed to religion. That obviously not correct’. Minoo Masani, a political leader stated that secularism can be practiced only in non-communist countries.

In nutshell, secularism is against the extreme stand for material benefits as well as possessing against blind faith in religion for human development. This is exactly what Hinduism has been teaching since long. When asked ‘whether India is a secular state, Smith replied, “My answer is a qualified ‘Yes’.”

Hinduism – As far as Hinduism is concerned, since age,s it always believed in religious tolerance, religious cooperation and freedom of religious practices. It always believes in “Live and let others live’ and an attitude of Universal oneness – “VASUDHAIVA KUTAMBKAM”.

Hindu Culture/Hinduism – The ethos of Hinduism has always been secular. Since ages, India has always been known for its secular outlook.

  • India has a Hindu majority population irrespective of who ruled the country. Still it has always remained a multi-religious society. It is a historical fact that for centuries, people believing in different faiths/religions are living together in different parts of India.
  • There had always been social and cultural intermingling. Nobody has ever doubted the secular character of India except in the political circle. The religion of majority Indian people, i.e. for its underlying principles of religious tolerance, religious cooperation and freedom of religious freedom.
  • Hindu philosophy believes that God is one and approach to seek Him are many. (ekma sat ivap’sbahuQaa vadint).
  • The spirit of tolerance and firm belief in the principle, ‘Live and let live’ has always been ethos of Hinduism. Tolerance is most evident in the field of religion. Hindu faith in an all pervading omnipresent god, multiplicity of god and goddesses as representing some portion of the infinite aspect of the Supreme Being, inspires it to accommodate people of all faiths.
  • According to Swami Vivekanand, Hindu culture/Indian concept of religion does not differentiate between religious communities. It honours all the faiths equally and gives them equal opportunities to flourish. Every citizen has full freedom to follow the religion or religious practices of his/her choice.
  • Tolerance is not confined to religion alone. It is seen everywhere in the Indian way of life. Indians believe in ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – The whole world is one family. There has been a culture of ‘Vasudaiv Kutumbkam’ (whole world is a family), ‘live and let others live’ and ‘Sarva Dharam Sambhava’.
  • Earlier many foreign invaders merged with the Hindus. And for the first time in Indian history, during medieval period, Hinduism was confronted with an alien faith, which kept itself aloof and derived its strength not only from political dominance, but also from gradually increasing number of its followers. It was militant in character. In the zeal of their hatred, they destroyed temples, images and other religious symbols of Hindus. (The cultural heritage of India, published by Ramakrishna Mission Institute of culture, Kolkata). Still Hindus and Muslims have lived together for more than seven hundred years, though in watertight compartment. And ultimately, their hatred led India to be divided into two separate states – Hindustan and Pakistan.
  • According to Gandhiji religion is purely a personal affair. “”The state has nothing to do with it. The state should look-after secular welfare but not your or mine religion.”State has nothing to do with it. He says, “State should undoubtedly be secular. Everyone living in it should be entitled to profess his religion without hindrance, as long as citizen obeyed the common laws of the land. “My reverence for all other faiths is the same as for my own”…
  • John Fischer mentions,  Even during Bengal famine, an extreme situation – when necessity knows no laws, people did not take law in their own hands, nor was there any violence. No grocery stall, no rice warehouse, none of the wealthy clubs or restaurants were ever threatened by a hungry mob… They just died with docility, which to most Americans is the most shocking thing about India.’ (John Fischer, India’s insoluble Hunger – 1947, pp 7-8)
  • Basic Hindu philosophy and its religious values do not require to call India a Hindu State. In the same way, India does not require a label of ‘secularism’.
  • Hinduism emphasizes the universality of spiritual values, which could be attained by a variety of ways.
  • It preaches the importance of equanimity in all adverse circumstances. After Independence, national leaders like Gandhiji, Pt. Nehru, Sardar Patel, Dr. Radhakrishnan told the people again and again about this basic characteristics of Hindu culture.
  • Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression are the hallmark of
  • Because of its tolerant ethos, many times in the past especially during Muslim and British rule, Hindus had become the targets of religious intolerance. In large numbers, they had been converted into other faiths. Many Hindus resented and raised their voice against conversions. They accepted all kinds of oppression and exploitation without much protest, while such situations would have led to bloody revolutions elsewhere in the world.
  • Finding themselves weak and helpless during a very prolonged domination of Muslim and British rule, they turned introverts. To preserve their Hindu identity, they started following rigidly and blindly religious practices. And became the victim of superstitions and many social evils.
  • Even today, the people are tolerating the corruption, scams, scandals and criminal activities developed in political sphere, as well as inefficiency seeped deeply in administration without much protest. Administration is one such area, where tolerance is harmful, as it not only hinders the development, but also pushes the nation backwards.

Present position – Quite often, it is said that people of Hindu society are basically so tolerant that they endure injustice and unfairness, until they are pushed right to the wall. But at present, blindly following of the dictates of fake religious Gurus by illiterate and ignorant masses and fiery speeches of short-sighted politicians for electoral gains, has increased the rift between different communities and has adversely affected communal harmony. They are the people, who forget the salient features of Hinduism and spread venom against each other through their irresponsible utterances now and than.

Salient features of Hinduism – Following are some special features of Hinduism –

  • Hinduism has never tried to liquidate or absorb new groups artificially into its main stream or destroy other sects. It does not believe in conversion or imposing its beliefs, practices and customs on others. While other races and their systems have forcibly converted people belonging to other faiths into their own faith, imposing on them their own value system, Hindu religion has neither repulsed any trend vehemently, nor allowed others to sweep its own established culture off the roots. Liberal attitude of Hinduism towards other Religions is one of the reasons of happening a large number conversions in India.
  • Hinduism took thousands of years to develop. Starting with the arrival of Aryans hereditary kinship and tribal groups in India in waves and later on, of numerous social groups from different parts of the world, at different point of time, their association/mixing up with indigenous people (popularly known as Hindus) and their desire to come under one umbrella played an important role in developing the concept of Hinduism.
  • Hinduism had absorbed other social groups as whole into itself without annihilating their originality, internal order, customs or language. The assimilation of different new groups under Hinduism, be it racial, immigrants, locals, tribal, professionals or any other, had been done through caste system It has assigned each new group a separate caste identity, thus gave it opportunity not only to come under one umbrella, preserve its own culture, style of living and traditions, and also provided it an atmosphere to flourish in their own way. In its long process of assimilation, its caste-system has played an important role to develop such an atmosphere, where different identities can co-exist, generally in harmony and sometimes in rift.
  • Hinduism always believed in religious tolerance. Dr. Radha Krishnan says Hindu philosophy always taught God is One, but Paths to seek Him are many. Hinduism concedes validity to all the religions and does not lay down strictures against any faith or reject any religion or its god as false. The culture of other faiths/religions present in India, has always been carefully nurtured and preserved. That is why, all the twelve major religions of the world are present and flourishing in India without hindrance since ages.
  • When in 1947 India was divided into Hindustan and Pakistan, Pakistan chose to be an Islamic state, but India did not choose any particular religion, as ‘State Religion’. Many people say that in Pakistan, Hindus are treated as second hand citizens. But India has never considered it necessary to declare itself a Hindu State. India has always been known as a Hindu State/Hindustan, not officially, but by virtue of its geographical position (people living beyond Indus River) Hindu majority people residing here, irrespective of who ruled the country.
  • Origin of Hinduism can neither be found in one single authoritative text, nor can it be attributed to one single founder. It evolved in a natural way over thousands of years. The experiences and deep thinking of many learned sages and intellectuals belonging to different sections of society at different points of time have contributed to evolve this system. It is a very old and indigenous system, conceptualized, developed and practiced exclusively in India.
  • After partition also, Hindustan welcomed everybody who chose to live in India at that time. In India everybody has fundamental rights, or can occupy important positions. There had been three Muslim President of India – President Zakir Hussain, President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad and President Abdul Kalm Azaad.

Wonderful fusion of different faiths/cultures in India – The process of assimilation and fusion of different cultures has been a continuous process of the India civilization. India especially presents a unique picture of composite culture, which grew out of intermixing of people of different cultures, belonging to different identities. For centuries, Hindus, Muslims, Christian and followers of other religions lived together. There has been social and cultural assimilation. However there has always been some hindrance in bringing religious and political assimilation. Underneath there has been mutual suspicion between Hindus and Muslims since approximately 7th-8th centuries onwards – Hindus being the majority community in India and Muslims first being invaders and then the rulers.

By living side by side  for centuries, people belonging to different faiths have contributed a lot to each other. They have absorbed the good points of each-other’s cultures, which has enriched the composite culture of India. More than anywhere else in the world, it holds a multitude of thoughts, processes them and practices them. There has been co-existence of varied belief, pattern and thought due to inter-mixing and cultural mingling.

The impact of different religious communities on Indian culture is as follows:

Vedic Hindu Culture- Vedic Hindu Culture is one of the oldest living cultures in the world. The word ‘Vedic’ is derived from the word ‘Vid’ meaning ‘Knowledge’ and signifies’ ‘knowledge par excellence’.  The Vedic culture came into being due to intermixing of the culture of Aryan invaders, who came to India in waves, with the culture of indigenous tribal people of India during 2nd century BC to 650 AD.

The origin of the Vedic culture cannot be traced in any single founder; neither can it be confined in one single authoritative text.  Its sacred knowledge has been handed down from time immemorial, earlier by verbal transmission and later on, in written form by the ancestor to succeeding generations. It has not prescribed final absolutes. It is a constant search for more knowledge.

The Rishis and Munies have always held that Vedas are not the end of quest for knowledge. It is a non-ending process. This is what the Indian culture is. Vedic belief system later on became increasingly ritualistic, susceptible to misinterpretations which supported certain power structure.

It is identified with the whole of India. To foreigners, it represents the ancient culture in its eternity.  It mainly originated and flourished in northern parts of India and later on spread throughout India.  The strength of Vedic culture is proved by the facts:

       despite of centuries of foreign rule over 75% of Indian population remains Hindu.

       Had Hinduism become obsolete, it would have given place to other religions and cultures.

       Value-system of Hinduism has influenced almost all other religions found in India.

Buddhism and Jainism – Both the religions were offshoot of the later Vedic culture, but with certain basic differences. These religions influence the thought, moral and life style of Indian people. Buddhism attracted equally the elite as well as the lower strata of Hindu society.  The main contribution of Buddhism to Indian culture is an attempt to draw the attention of people towards the harsher effects of the caste system, sympathetic attitude towards lesser human beings and system of organized education.  Major contribution of Jainism is the principle of non-violence.

Dravidian culture – After the sudden disappearance of Indus valley culture, of which the most characteristic feature was its town planning, Dravidian culture with its advanced social system, industry and trade made a mark, in the South.

Islamic culture– After the tenth century, under Muslim rule, Islamic culture influenced the Indian culture substantially. Its influence could be seen in the rejection of elaborate rituals and caste pretensions. It preached a simple path of faith, devotion, brotherly love and fellowship.

Sufi tradition and Bhakti movement – With the growing political strength of Muslims, the need for mutual understanding and communal harmony gave rise to Sufi tradition of Islam and Bhakti movement of Hindus. Bhakti movement questioned notions of  casteism/communalism etc. Both these emphasized the need for mutual appreciation, tolerance and goodwill.  Like Buddhism, Islam also provided an alternative to people, wishing to opt out the caste system.

Western/British Culture– Eighteenth century onwards, the British culture influenced the Indian culture substantially, especially that of elite and intellectuals. Access to modern education, Western literature and philosophy gave Indians the understanding of liberal and humanitarian ideas of the West. It produced many great leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, Ferozeshah Mehta, Gokhale, Gandhi, Jinnah, Ambedkar, Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Moti Lal Nehru, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Patel and many more. The efforts of missionaries, reformers and educationists influenced the thinking of the masses. Missionaries converted many people from the lower strata to Christianity. British systems gave India political and administrative unity. Institutions like Parliament, bureaucracy, and concepts like rule of law, unified nationality, a common currency, a common Judiciary are some of the contributions of the British.  They gave a new economic structure based on industrialization.  The British also gave impetus to social progress and brought many reforms.  The British influence on Indian minds was as discussed below: –

  • Some people welcomed rationality and other good features of Modern English culture, but wished to remain firmly rooted to the Indian Culture. They organised people and made them aware of social evils like Sati, Polygamy, child marriage, untouchablity and many superstitions prevalent at that time. They advised the people to eradicate the same without foreign intervention. Emphasis was laid on education and science.  Brahma Semaj, founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in 1928, inspired the people of Bengal, UP, Punjab, Madras and other provinces, to form similar organizations and interpret religion rationally.
  • Some people were so influenced by the alien culture, that they developed a complex about the primitiveness of Indian society. With the help of British rulers, Christian missionaries and religious minded Westerners like William Webberforce or Charles Grant tried to Christianize such people.
  • Some reformists tried to revive their own rich ancient culture and prevent the masses from being swayed away by the glamour and materialism of alien culture. Araya Samaj (1875 onwards) founded by Swami Dayanand, asserted the superiority of Hindu Vedic culture. It gave the call for ‘Back to Vedas’, as Vedas were to them the source of all knowledge and truth. Swami Vivekanand founded the Rama Krishna Mission to reveal to the world Indian Philosophy and culture.

Cultural Synthesis – As India passed through various phases in the past, each and every group left its influence on its culture, which came down to the present generation in an unbroken chain of succession, with some modifications and adaptations.

  • A major cultural synthesis took place during 6th and 10th century, between Vedic Hindu culture, Buddhism and Dravidian culture.
  • Another assimilation was seen after the 10th century, when the thinking of Arabs, Turks and Afghan, mainly guided by reason, influenced Indian thought. Sufi and Bhakti movements are examples of this. These two sects taught the people to love and respect all human beings irrespective of caste or creed. These sects also brought changes in the nature of mutual understanding, communal amity and accommodation.
  • Once again, during the period between 18th to 20th centuries, a major cultural synthesis took place with modernization and industrialization ushered in by the British.
  • All the sects present in India, whether foreign or indigenous, have been influenced greatly by Hindu thinking, practices and systems.

The wonderful fusion of different sects have contributed to the cultural richness of India.  Such flexibility is not seen in the West.  When Christianity broke away from Judaism, it departed totally from the common cultural traditions.  Therefore, it is very difficult for the Western world to understand and appreciate Indian culture fully.

In modern world, no society or nation can exist as a homogeneous cultural monolith. The presence of people following different faiths has led to many controversies. Tense situation arises when instigated by rogue elements in the society. They spread their own biases amongst innocent people. They somehow manage to escape from the  clutches of law for violating the law of the nation. It is a behavioural problem. Authorities quite often fail to identify the miscreants.

In recent past, all over the world, the greed of power and controlling the destiny of masses, intolerance in the sphere of politics and religion is continuously increasing. Along with ‘Secularism’, ‘socialism’ and ‘reservations’, the word ‘tolerance’ has also become the most misused word in the country. No one can imagine how some politicians and ‘messiahs’ of different faiths twist the words and polarize the society.

Some Indian intellectuals think that the terms ‘Democracy’ and ‘Secular’ were alien and are the gift of the Western world to India. In Britain and America, these words originated about four or five hundred years ago. They were the result of political and religious struggles in those countries. Even till today there is no uniformity to the interpretation of these two words, either in the Western countries or in India. Broadly, democracy signifies the form and structure of governance and secularism signifies the way of governance.” (P 42, (Indian Democracy, S.K. Kulkarni, Indus Source Books, Published in 2017)

Most of the politicians and political parties have been entangled in ideological debates on the above mentioned abstract issues rather than tackling its attention on real issues, solution of  which can lead any nation and its society towards sustainable development of the nation, and peaceful  and harmonious living of all in any nation or society.

It has been seen before Assembly or general elections that politicians belonging to national or regional political parties –big or small- give a call to all secular forces to join hands and fight against communal forces together. Most of these self-proclaimed ‘Messiahs of Secularism’ hardly understand in-depth, the true meaning, when and how did the word ‘Secularism’ came into existence, purpose of these ideologies or try to understand how to apply secularism positively in real political arena. They do not even know much about Hinduism or ethos of Indian culture, which believes that each person living here irrespective of which religion he belong to, gets equal treatment. Question arises do they themselves possess a secular outlook? It has been seen that mostly they use it as a political gimmick to divide people into watertight compartments on communal lines and to garner votes. For it, they adopt the path of appeasement to woo the voters.

Winding up

  • Thirty years after Independence, the word ‘Secular’ has been prefixed to ‘Republic’ in the Preamble of the constitution by 42nd Amendment, though nobody has ever doubted the secular character of India.
  • It is a historical fact that for centuries, people believing in different faiths/religions lived together in different parts of India. There had always been social and cultural intermingling. Different sects have contributed a lot enriching each other‘s, as well as the culture of India as a whole. But in political arena there has always been an atmosphere of mutual suspicion between different communities. During freedom struggle, many national leaders and reformers tried their best to create an atmosphere of harmony, but without much success. Intolerance for each-other has grown to such an extent that India was partitioned into two – Hindustan and Pakistan. Even 70 years after independence, the feeling of mutual suspicion is seen now and then in acts of terrorism and other violent activity across the border.
  • The ultimate purpose of Secularism, Hinduism or Humanism is the same. If ‘secularism is interpreted in a positive way, it becomes clear that it has been the sine qua non of Hindu religion. Hinduism believes in ‘oneness of human society’. There should be a harmonious atmosphere, so that everybody, belonging to any community, could live in peace and respect each other’s perceptions and beliefs.

 

January 2, 2018 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | , | Leave a comment

Reservations in government-jobs & story of ‘an ant and ‘a grasshopper’

“Work is worship. There is no substitute for hard-work”

Introduction

There is a similarity between the old story of an ant and a grass hopper and present social, economic and political condition of a large number of illiterate and ignorant masses and educated and enlightened persons. There is a great disparity in their thinking, working and living style – some working hard for better future like ant of this story and others only to enjoy life in whatever manner they can like a grass-hopper of this story. Process of globalization, liberalization and modernization has widened the disparities tremendously, globalization because of overemphasis on money-culture; liberalization on freedom of speech leading to intolerance and modernization because of stress on market-economy.

The Old story of the ant and the grasshopper with its new interesting twist goes like this

Old version of the story – The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out the cold.

New twist to the story of Ant and Grasshopper keeping in view present day political scenario –

  • Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long preparing for better future and building house and laying up supplies for the winter.
  • Grasshopper laughs at ant thinking ant was a fool. It misses the opportunity and spent all summer time in enjoying the life dancing & playing.
  • Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter. So he raises voice against disparities and social discrimination.
  • Calls for dialogues, conferences and media – Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.
  • NDTV, BBC,CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. The World is stunned by the sharp contrast.
  • Intelligentsia cries, how can this be that this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so? Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the ants’ house. Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other grasshoppers demanding that grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter.
  • Call for social Justice at international level – Amnesty International and Koffi Annan criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the grasshopper.
  • The Media gets involved – Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the grasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance).
  • Intervention of government to resolve the issue – Opposition MP’s stage a walkout. Left parties call for “Bharat Bandh” in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry. CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among ants and grasshoppers. Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the ’Grasshopper Rath’.
  • Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the Prevention of Terrorism against Grasshoppers Act [POTAGA]”, with effect from the beginning of the winter. Arjun Singh makes Special Reservation for Grass Hopper in educational Institutions & in Government Services. The ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the grasshopper.
  • Credit for amelioration In a ceremony covered by NDTV, Arundhati Roy calls it “a triumph of justice”. Lalu calls it ‘Socialistic Justice’. CPM calls it the ‘revolutionary resurgence of the downtrodden’. Koffi Annan invites the grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly.
  • Many years later … The ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multibillion dollar company in Silicon Valley. 100’s of grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere in India. As a result of losing a lot of hard working ants and feeding the grasshoppers, India remains -a developing country!! (New version of story, Quoted from a message from wordsapp.)

Reservation Policy’s similarity with the new version of story of Ant and Grasshopper

Worked hard in the withering heat all summer long preparing for better future –  In 1834, Lord Macaulay introduced the Modern education system. The sole purpose of modern education was to educate Indians in such a way that they “should through western education get Anglicized in terms of both cultural and intellectual attainments”. Lord Macaulay clearly said that, “we must at present do our best to form a class, who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we governa class of persons, Indians in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.”

Modern education offered to Indian people access to the thoughts of many liberal thinkers, like Locke, Mill Rousseau Voltaire, Spencer and Burke. It also familiarized Indians with the knowledge about English, French, American revolutions. Western literature and philosophy widened the mental horizons and knowledge of Indian people.

Brahmins moved ahead despite the ‘bad weather,’ worked hard to live and earn their living respectfully – During the whole of 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, like ants Brahmins/caste-Hindus understood the value of modern education, opted for it and worked hard to gain knowledge, and earn their living respectfully by utilizing the opportunities offered by modern education.

Modern education not only provided personnel to fill the lower levels in administration, as desired by the rulers, but also produced national leaders, intellectuals and reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dadabhai Naoroji, Ferozeshah Mehta, Gokhale, Gandhi, Jinnah, Ambedkar, Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Moti Lal Nehru, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Neta Subhash Chandra Bose, Patel and many more.

They rationalized the social and political issues, India was facing at that time. They understood the intentions of British rulers and challenged the imperial power. They did, whatever they could to set India free from Imperial rule, to stop its economic exploitation and to break the vicious web created by the British rulers by criticizing Indian value system and its culture.

National leaders took upon themselves the responsibility to build a modern, open, plural, culturally rich, prosperous and powerful India out of a fragmented, poverty stricken, superstitious, weak, indifferent, backward and inward looking society. Reformers did every possible effort to remove evil social practices and internal weaknesses, which had engulfed almost the whole the Indian society.

It was a very tough time for them. For doing that, they had to face many challenges and brunt of ruler’s anger all the time. They sacrificed all their comforts, even many of them their lives for freeing India from foreign rule and society from social evils, ignorance and superstitions.

Masses missed the opportunity – Masses missed the opportunity like grasshopper. They thought it better to live within their comfort zones and kept themselves busy in managing their day-to-day life.

British rulers got alarmed – They regarded Brahmins as the main force behind the entire struggles and agitations for gaining freedom from British rule. The preponderance of Brahmins/caste Hindus everywhere including all levels of freedom movement and their influence on general public, they got alarmed. Rulers felt the dire need to balance the power in such a way that no section of Indian society could become strong enough to pose a threat to its rule in India.

In order to restrict the influence of Brahmins on Indian community and their preponderance at different levels of administration, the rulers encouraged Non-Brahmins and other social groups to raise their voice against Brahmins domination. Non-Brahmin in the South India found themselves unable to compete with Brahmins on equal footing, having a long learning background. During the later years of 19th century, Non Brahmins drew the attention of British government encouraged the other sections of Indian society to raise their voice against disparities and social discrimination through their pressure groups and demand Government’s intervention.

How British rulers balanced the power? –  

To restrict the influence of Brahmins on Indian community and their preponderance in education and other areas, and at different levels of administration, the rulers–

  • Ideological attack on Indians – The rulers launched an ideological attack on Indians, vehemently denouncing the culture, character and social structure of the native people. This mental doze had affected minds of many educated Indians so densely that they considered native practices indefensible.
  • Rulers slighted the role, they played as Indian intelligentsia, national leaders and reformers. On the other, portrayed Brahmins and caste-Hindus as oppressors and exploiters of submerged sections of society, especially the poor and minorities. The rulers created venom in the hearts of Muslims and non-Brahmin castes.
  • Rulers allowed certain specific castes and communities to form their own political pressure groups, and resist vociferously the dominance of caste-Hindus/Brahmins in modern callings.
  • On the demand of different pressure groups and in the name of equality before law, and also to stop their preponderance in administration, freedom struggles, theirs growing influence on Indian society and in modern white-collared occupations, British rulers propped up other sections of the society, prepared them and made their entry possible in administrative set up, through preferential treatment. They fixed up separate Quotas different sections of society in government schools and government jobs.
  • To prepare other sections of society to come up, British Government opened up the doors of education to all. Along with missionaries, the government gave financial assistance for education plus assurance for employment to poor people on caste and community basis.
  • Act of ‘balancing the power’ – Through the Acts of 1909, 1919 and 1932, the British divided the Indian population into different groups, on the basis of caste, community, occupation, religion etc., and gave them separate representation in Legislative Councils, and Assemblies. They bestowed special benefits and ‘preferences’ in education and Government jobs for different upcoming groups. Some seats were reserved for Muslims and Anglo-Indians in Central Services (Class I). Quotas were fixed up quotas for different sections of society. Later on, it took the shape of ‘Reservation Policy’ in Independent India.
  • The Government bestowed these benefits (preferential treatment) only at local and provincial level. At national level, the rulers stressed on Absolute necessity of keeping the important Government services and posts in the hands of people, who deserve it. The rulers clearly said despite its utmost desire to help upcoming groups and do the best for these classes,”the Government will be and is powerless to help them, unless they qualify themselves to the same extent as others of their country-men for duties of administration and public.[xi]
  • Many years later Polarization of society and Policy of Appeasement – To appease certain groups, Reservation policy has been proved quite handy. It has divided the Indian into many water-tight compartments. It has already created numerous political camps – pro-Hindu camp, anti-Hindu camp, secular camp, and caste camps into forward, backward and Dalit camps etc. The situation is leading to fundamentalist and separatist attitudes, conflict, instability, in-decisiveness, and irrational decisions.
  • Brain-drain – Policy of Reservation has shaken the confidence of talented youth – the cream of the Indian society. About 50% reservations in government jobs have left many deserving and intelligent youths unemployed or underemployed. Some of them adopted the path of crime or violence, as is being seen in Punjab and Kashmir. Others hard-working youth have lost their interest in government services and  preferred either to join a career in private sector or go abroad in search of greener pastures.

At present, every year a large number of highly trained Indians go abroad. Many of them have made valuable contribution to US space program and Silicon Valley’s electronic break-troughs. Reservations have, thus, led to brain drain. It has already squeezed out many meritorious by leading the country to massive brain drain.

Brain-drain is a matter of national concern. Some of the reasons of brain drain, are as following: –

  • Escape from stifling and unresponsive working conditions at home.
  • Meritorious youth find better job-opportunities, creative outlet for their talents/skills, good atmosphere to work and fatter salaries.
  • They get job satisfaction There, they get good return for their talents and hard-work.
  • Exposure to the latest technological advancement and developments in the field of knowledge, based on high quality researches.
  • Comfortable standard of living because of better civic facilities and better law and order situation there.

Introduction of modern education had served a double purpose for the British rulers. They got the credit for the amelioration of the Indian society. Also at the same time, through it, they devised a unique method of distribution of power, kept balance of power and prolonged their rule in India by keeping the natives busy in their in-fights.

Many leaders of that time, except for some national leaders and reformers, had failed to visualize its after-effects and cruel intentions of the rulers to “divide” the Indian society and continue British “rule”, it as long as possible.

Why Reservation continued after independence? – Generally law follows social changes. But after Independence, political leadership in their hurry and enthusiasm, tried to foster social changes through law. The overwhelming poverty of millions belonging to lower strata of society, and monopoly of a few groups in power structure led the Constitution framers to intervene and make provision for Reservations for 10 years. They hoped that this period would be enough to bring to an end prejudice against discriminated groups, age-old imbalances and cumulative disparities of power, wealth and culture, and their near absence of few sections of society in echelons of power.  If need be law-makers through constitution amendment could enhance the period for another 10 years.

Use of the card of Reservation Policy at peak – The seeds sown by British blossomed in full after Independence. Shrewd politicians of Independent India have inherited three powerful democratic weapons from the British rulers’. These are – Electoral policy, Census operations and Reservation Policy using them for their own advantage. They woo the voters, create vote-banks for themselves and try to grab the political power by hook or crook.. Shrewd politicians have used all the three

Real issues are evaded – After independence, most of the time gimmicks like secularism, social justice, and equity, dire necessity of reservation to uplift submerged sections of society have been adopted to evade real issues and shirk responsibility. Government lacks courage to take hard decisions. The sole aim of upcoming groups is grab political power.

Formation of Creamy layer –Inter-caste and intra-cast rivalries are at its peak. Continuation of the practice ‘Preferences’ took form of caste based Reservation Policy after Independence. Formation of Creamy layer amongst upcoming groups, entry of a few persons from upcoming groups and occupying some space in the corridors of power from the back door have aroused the expectations of others.  Seeing the growing influence of Creamy layer in national politics, many other groups demand with insistence for inclusion in the Governments list of beneficiaries for reservation. In the recent Gujrat provincial elections (2017), card of Reservation was used as a trump card by Hardik Patel and his associates.

Paternalistic policies failed to create a better future – Paternalistic policies of Government have so far failed to achieve the desired results and empower majority of poor people. Unfortunately, instead creating a better future, it has polarized the society. In recent past, some unpleasant changes took place and are increasing every day in the character, role and inter-relationship of the main constituent of the national elites – the political executive, the legislators, media persons, the businessmen, the organized workers, the surplus farmers and the bureaucrats. Such a development has derailed development-programs and generated many other complications. Often patronage networks benefits the rural elite and work for doling out the money.

Some self-proclaimed leaders and Messiahs have occupied the front seat in politics and have taken the responsibility on themselves to speak and criticize anybody, in any manner on behalf of general public. They have created such an atmosphere, where implementation of sustainable development programs becomes difficult for upright politicians and bureaucrats. Self-proclaimed leaders and Messiahs have taken over the front seat and make implementation of sustainable development programs difficult for upright bureaucrats.

Winding up – It is a humanitarian obligation of any civilized society to bring suitable changes to uplift and empower the submerged sections of society. But way out is not the Policy of Reservation. It is difficult for caste-based Policy of 50% Reservations to bring sustainable development of backward sections of society.

On the issue to uplift of weaker sections of society, observations, comments and suggestions of Kaka Kalelkar, Chairman of the First Central backward Class Commission, 1955, goes well with the story told above. In his note of dissent, ha had expressed his views on the issue of Reservation in class I, II, III and IV Services of Government of India. According to him,

  • “National solidarity in a democratic set up demands Government to recognize only two ends – the individual at one end and the nation as a whole at the other. Nothing should be encouraged to organize itself in between these two ends to the detriment of the freedom of the individual and solidarity of the nation. All communal and denominational organizations and groupings of lesser and narrower units have to be watched carefully, so that they do not jeopardize the national solidarity and do not weaken the efforts of the nation to serve the various elements in the body politic with equity. Mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust are the touchstone, on which all communal and denominational activities will be tested and anything that undermines it, will be expected and brought to book.” …
  • “Communalism and casteism are bound to destroy the unity of the nation and narrow down the aspiration of our people.”
  • “The special concessions and privileges accorded to Hindu castes acted as a bait and bribe inciting Muslim and Christian Society to revert to caste and caste prejudices and the healthy social effect by Islam and Christianity were thus rendered null and void.” (Para iv)
  • When to bestow special concessions? – In his note of dissent, Kaka clarifies that “It is only when a community is proved to be working under a special handicap and is not allowed to freely function as a citizen, that the state may intervene and make a special provision for the advancement of such under-privileged and handicapped communities or persons… A general formula for helping all persons to whatever caste or community, they may belong, should be made.” (Para viii)It is not enough to prove that one community is regarded inferior by another. The Christian may look down the Jews and the Jews may retaliate with the same feelings. The Brahmins ‘Learned section of society’ may regard ‘Banias’ (business community) as inferior and the ‘Bania’, in his turn, may regard a ‘Brahmin’ as a mere social dependent. Such opinions and prejudices do not come in the way of the full growth of the backward communities either educationally or economically….. It is for them to make necessary efforts for their prosperity. They will naturally receive whatever help is available to all citizens.” (Para vii and viii)
  • Views on caste structure – “We are not blind to the good intentions and wisdom of our ancestors, who built the caste structure. It was perhaps the only way, through which they could teach the nation to forget and rise above racial clan-ship, tribal and similar biological groupings of society and to accept a workable arrangement of social existence based on cultural hierarchy and occupational self-government.” iii
  • Contribution of ‘Upper Classes’ in uplift of weaker sections – He said “It would be well, if representatives of the Backward classes remembered that whatever good they find in the Constitution and the liberal policy of the Government, is the result of the awakened conscience of the upper classes themselves. Whatever Government is doing by way of atonement is readily accepted and acclaimed by the nation as a whole. The upper classes have contributed their share in formulating the policies of the Government Removal of untouchability, establishment of equality and social justice, special consideration for backward classes, all these elements found place in the Constitution without a single voice of dissent from the upper classes.” iv
  • Need to introduce sound system of basic education – “If the backward communities have neglected education it is because they had no use for it. Now that they have discovered their mistakes, it is for them to make the necessary efforts for making the leeway…As far as the assistance in the matter of education for the backward classes, I am convinced that introduction of basic education in all the states with help the backward communities to cultivate self-confidence. They will also have a better chance of succeeding in open competition and having the special advantage of mixing with people and serving them, they will prove themselves better administrators and leaders of society.”v
  •  ‘Services are not meant for the servants but for the service of the society as a whole’ – He also said very clearly, “I am definitely against Reservations in Government services for any community for the simple reason that services are not meant for the servants but for the service of the society as a whole. Administration must have the services of the best men available in the land and this may be found in all the communities. Reservation of post for certain backward communities would be as strange as Reservation of patients for a particular doctor. The patients are not meant to supply adequate or proportionate clientele to all the doctors, whatever be their qualifications.’ vi

Suggestion

Criteria of backwardness other than caste – “It would have been better, if we would determine the criteria of backwardness on principles other than caste.” (Para vii) According to him, “caste test was repugnant to democracy and the objective “to create a casteless and classless society by perpetuating and encouraging caste divisions.” (Para viii)

Kaka Kalelkar concluded that giving an additional weapon in weak hands was no remedy. The remedies the commission had suggested in its main Report were worse than the evil, they were out to combat. In his letter forwarding the Report, Kalelkar remarked, “I am definitely against Reservation in Government Services for any community for the simple reason that services are meant for the service of society as a whole.”

Reference:

Note of dissent, Paras i, iii, iv, v, vi, vii and viii, Report of First Backward Class Commission, 1955.

 

December 23, 2017 Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | , , | 1 Comment

Hinduism, Caste System and Untouchables

Ranking of different castes in Hinduism – During ancient times, Hinduism ranked different castes not done by putting them within a framework of hierarchical layers of social order, each fitting neatly below the other, but more or less as a series of vertical parallels. All local groups, whether high or low, living in an area mutually depended, cared and supported each other in fulfilling different kind of needs of the society.

Interdependence of different social groups living in a local area – All sections of society living in a village or city-state, were bound together by economic and social ties and had a strong bond of mutual dependence. There was hardly any room for any section of society to consider itself, as being placed in greater or lesser disadvantageous position with reference to another. Concept of forwards or backwards or feeling of exploitation of lower strata by upper castes was almost non-existent at that time.

Stress on self-reliance, self-discipline and self-restraint – Every section of society was supposed to lead a self restraint and self disciplined life in all respect, be it in the matter of daily routine, occupation or inter caste relationship. There was no hard and fast rule of ranking various castes. It did segmental ranking of different caste groups according to relevance and contribution of their occupations to society. Usefulness of a profession to society as a whole, conduct and way of living of different people were the factors to determine social, economic or political status of a group in society vis-a vis others.

Basis for ranking different social groups – Considerations of self-discipline, hygiene, cleanliness, morality, knowledge and spiritual standards were given importance in their ranking. Higher a caste, purer it was considered, and greater were the self-restrictions on its behavior through rituals. Brahmins commanded respect of the whole society. They were put under maximum restrictions – to lead a simple life, devoted to the spiritual and intellectual pursuits and denied accumulation of wealth.

Respect to a person or group was never given on the basis of material success or control of power. Sir John Shore (Sir John Shore, the Governor General of India during the period 1793-1798) had observed that Hindus regarded Britishers at par with the lowest natives despite their being so powerful and the ruling community. Similarly Brahmins associated with unclean jobs like, Mahabrahmins performing last rites, have also been treated, more or less like Shudras and have been put at the bottom of the social structure. There were instances when non-Brahmins or Harijans served as priests of temples of goddesses like Sita or Kali, where all castes made offerings.

Co-existence of different groups generally in harmony and some times in rift – In its long process of evolution, caste-system has developed such an atmosphere, where different identities co-exist, generally in harmony and sometimes in rift. As far as masses were concerned, the system always kept them reconciled, if not contended in the past. It kept all the sections of society united under one umbrella despite of their diversity and gave the society stability, continuity and prosperity.

At times, there had been strife, contradictions and discords amongst different identities, so much so that India appeared to be a land of contrasts.  Nevertheless, most of the times, the Indian society has been able to develop  an attitude of reconciliation rather than refutation, cooperation rather than confrontation and co-existence rather than mutual annihilation.” (Khan, Democracy in India, pp 4-5)

Existence of Shudras – Existence of Shudras (at present referred as untouchables or out-castes) was recognized, as early as, Pre Mauryan Period (6th century BC to 3rd century BC). Though given a lower status, they were always an integral part of Hindu society. They performed essential social and economic tasks as well as in agricultural sector. 

Who were shudras? – Conquered groups, individuals or groups engaged in unclean occupations, clinging to the practices, which were not considered respectable, or persons born illegitimately or the groups clinging to anti-social activities were treated as Shudras and were given lowest status in the society. Breaking the caste rules meant loss of caste, meaning complete ostracism or having no place in the society. Permanent loss of caste – out-caste- was considered to be the greatest catastrophe for an individual, short of death penalty. By the beginning of Christian era, the out-castes themselves developed caste hierarchy and had their own out-castes. Socially, they were put amongst the lower strata of Hindu community doing all sorts of menial work and serving the upper castes of the three Varnas.

Hinduism taught not to blame others for deprivation – Many studies have shown that Hinduism never prevented Shudras or others to rise in the scale of society or to earn respect of the society. Hindu Dharma never held others responsible for an individual’s misery or deprivation. According to it Adharma” (immoral behavior), “Alasya” (laziness) and Agyan (ignorance) were to be blamed for all evils, exploitation and miseries of people.

In many parts of the country, people belonging to lower strata held position of power/superior status or earned respect of Hindu society. Many warrior kings of Shudra and tribal origin sought Brahmins’ help to acquire Kshatriyas status for themselves. Many Shudras were accepted and revered as philosophers or spiritual teachers like .Lord Rama, a king, ate half-eaten berries of Shabri – an untouchable. Lord Krishna’s foster parents Nand and Yashoda, who in today’s classification would be called OBC, get more respect than his real Kshatriya parents from Hindu society. Vashishtha, the principal of the conservative school of Brahmanism, was the son of Uravshi, a prostitute. Vishwamitra, the maker of the very Gayatri Mantra, the quintessence of the Vedic Brahmanism, was a Kshatriya. Aitreya, after whom the sacramental part of Rig-Veda is named as Aitreya Brahamana, was the son from a non-Aryan wife of a Brahman sage. Vyasa of Mahabharata fame and Balmiki, the original author of Ramayana, both untouchable according to present standards, were not ashamed of his origin and are highly respected persons all over India. In middle ages, Sant Ravidas, Namdev, Tukaram, Malika, Sunderdas and several other saints, belonging to lower ranks, earned the same respect as any higher caste saint. There had been instances of people of lower ranks becoming kings.

Therefore, it is not fully correct that Hinduism or its practices are responsible for Shudra’s isolation, deprivation, exploitation, low social status, inhuman treatment by caste Hindus, their low status in traditional Hindu Society, or forced them to do menial, unsavory and unclean jobs.

All troubles of lower strata of society started after the downfall of Hindu Raj and old Hindus values. Continuous invasions by Turks, Afghans and Mughals who earlier drained out the wealth of the nation to foreign lands and afterwards made India their homeland and ruled the country for centuries. It resulted in Hinduism turning inwards and observing all the rituals rigidly and blindly to save its distinct identity under foreign rule. Afterwards, feudalistic attitude, extravagance and luxurious life style of Mughal rulers and those at the helm of authority, increased the disparity between the rulers and the ruled.

Again, in  nineteenth century during British rule, modernization an industrialization process has made many traditional occupations obsolete or less paying or were regarded more hazardous and more time consuming. White collared jobs gained importance. Modernity taught people to escape from menial work and discredit manual work. More, a person withdrew from physical labor, more civilized, honored and qualified he was regarded by modern society. The British apathy towards indigenous skills, knowledge and occupations pushed millions of rural artisans, craftsman and small scale farmers, for whom work was essential for survival, backwards in a very subtle manner. It resulted in discrediting many traditional occupations and in destruction of Indian handicrafts and cottage industry. It scattered efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsman, weavers etc. A few of them joined modern occupations. Majority belonging to different groups could neither enter modern sector, nor could stick to their traditional occupations considering menial work derogatory and lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride. Masses had no option, but to either join band of agricultural laborers, industrial workers, and marginal labor and increase number of poor and unemployed. Outcome of such a change has been casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style, commitment, motivation and culture.

Recently empowerment of backward and untouchable castes has becoming once again a buzz -word in political arena. Poverty is the most pervasive phenomenon, which cuts across all the barriers of caste religion and region. It has been estimated that despite numerous developmental plans, schemes and legislation, including Reservation Policy in higher education and jobs, there are about 500 million Indians are living in squalor. There are many reasons responsible for their deprivation, agonies and poverty other than caste. Population explosion, illiteracy, unemployment, lack of awareness about opportunities to progress, insufficient wages in unorganized sector, indebtedness, politicization of caste system, obsolete forest and land policies and half-hearted implementation of developmental plans.   

Therefore, it can be said that it is not the malice of castes-Hindus, but the circumstances, that are pushing untouchables and some other backward castes away from the mainstream. Suffering from centuries old enslavement, suppression and ostracism deteriorated severely the condition of lower strata of society, stopped growth of their personality and made them dependent on others for their livelihood.

It is a humanitarian obligation of any civilized society to bring suitable changes to uplift and empower the submerged sections of society. The overwhelming poverty of millions belonging to lower strata of society and their near absence in echelons of power has led the law makers in India to intervene. Generally law follows social changes. But in India, after the Independence, the political leadership in their hurry and enthusiasm, tried to foster social changes through law.  In order to finish monopoly of a few groups in power structure and, as well as to bring to an end prejudice against discriminated groups, age-old imbalances and cumulative disparities of power, wealth and culture, they have initiated politicization of Caste-system. They hoped to integrate the whole country by casteless society. Unfortunately, instead creating a better future, it has generated other complications. Its paternalistic policies for bringing the submerged sections of the society into mainstream and creating a casteless society has not yielded the desired results, because these are –

  • Devised by self-proclaimed leaders and administered by bureaucrats belonging mainly to the elite of urban society,
  • Not rooted in local priorities or skills. The beneficiaries do not choose, design and implements the projects.
  • Often represented patronage networks of those doling out the money.
  • Often benefiting the rural elite.

Recently, many reformers and religious/spiritual institutions are focussing their attention on community empowerment. Many self-help groups have emerged all-over India. They  They bypass the government mechanisms and go straight communities. It hopes that their efforts would Recently the world over, community empowerment is becoming once again a buzz -word. The idea is to bypass government mechanisms and go straight to communities. It is expected to check corruption and waste, to take arbitrary power away from politicians at central, state, even at local level, also to build the skills of targeted groups through learning by doing and to empower them as decision-makers.

These self-help groups provide mutual safety-nets to its people in times of distress, use ostracism to penalize undesirable behaviour, rewards those with desirable behaviour, mediate and settle disputes without costs and delays of the formal of the formal legal and administrative system. They involve and encourage its people to design, implement and monitor the schemes, which the feel are beneficial for their community members.

Wherever properly harnessed, efforts of such self-help groups have yielded rich dividends. For example the Parsi and Christian communities, institutions run by Veerashaivya Mutts of Karnataka, Ramakrishan Mission, Radhaswami Satsang, Satya Sai Baba, Sadhu Vasvani and many others are practising community based approach for the development of humanity. They provide far better municipal, civic, educational, and medical services then the government. 

 

 

November 26, 2017 Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program, Social and political values and systems | | Leave a comment

Has Reservations in Government services empowered millions of poor people in India?

 “Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge.” Anne Bradstreet

“Work is worship. There is no substitute for hard-work”

INTRODUCTION ­

Biggest experiment of Twentieth century – Policy of Reservations in government jobs is one of the biggest experiments in the history of Twentieth Century. It is a very sensitive issue. It was started to uplift the submerged sections of Indian society, to protect their rights and to overcome the cumulative disparities of power, wealth and culture existed among various sections of society. From its very nature, the policy is discriminatory and exclusive. It empowers state authorities to give preference to one or more groups in the society to exclusion of others and encroach on domain of right to ‘equality to all’. Of late, it has become a source of considerable controversy, as it also involves emotional feelings of people.

“Reservation in Government services” – Reservations in government services involves two contradictory principles – one, the principle of “Efficiency in administration” and the other the principle of “Social justice”. Reservation Policy aims at improving the lot of backward sections of society and empowering them for a better future. For a successful administration the keynote is efficiency, which means right people on right positions at right time.

An efficient administration can provide convenience to the public at large, and attain the developmental and welfare goals of the nation within time and cost parameters. It could secure maximum results with minimum labour and resources. However, Reservation policy suggests, as understood by Indian authorities, to appoint less- qualified persons on the crucial positions of power structure by relaxing the standards and fixing up a separate quota for each of its weaker sections.

Issues – The question arises, is it possible to find out a way, which can keep a balance between the two contradictory principles? Is it not desirable to make weaker sections strong and eligible first and then facilitate their entry into such services of the nation? How can a capable and confident team from amongst vast majority of backward people be prepared to shoulder responsibilities of administration judiciously?

What is Reservation Policy – Dictionary meaning of Reservations – According to the “New Webster Dictionary”, reservation means “Keeping aside something for some specific purpose.” In the Indian context, Reservation Policy refers to a situation, wherein to uplift the submerged section of society, some jobs and other facilities are especially reserved in various institutions/organisations, so that they could be brought back into the national mainstream.

Social structure of Indian society – Before discussing the views of supporters and critics of Reservation Policy, It is necessary to know something about Social Structure of India.

  • In ancient India – Hindu society was classified in four functional groups known as “Varna” – the Brahmins to preach, the Kshtriyas to rule and defend the community, the Vaishyas to carryon the business and the Shudras to do the menial jobs for the society as a whole. Ancient Indian society was dominated by Hindu community. During that period, India had produced an excellent culture. Though there existed no political entity as an Independent Nation-State except for a brief period, but its culture had bound the people of this peninsula for ages from one end to the other. The system worked well for a long time. So much and so, that India was known as ‘Sone ki Chiriya’ ( A Bird of Gold)
  • Developed deformity with passage of time – In ancient India, numerous social groups came to India in waves at different points of time and desired to join the mainstream. All of them were assimilated into it without any conversion by giving each one a different caste name. It gave rise to the caste-system.
  • Then Turks, Afghans and Mughals continuously invaded India. Earlier, they drained out the wealth of the nation to foreign lands. But afterwards, they conquered and made India their homeland. There had been alien rule in the country for centuries, first of Mughals rule and then of British. As time passed, there developed many distortions. The society got divided into innumerable castes and sub-castes within each of four Varnas. Disparity and inequality grew amongst them with the passage of time.
  • Pathetic condition of Shudras and untouchables – By the beginning of twentieth century, the most pathetic condition was of both Shudras/untouchables and of women in general. Most of the individuals belonging to both the sections of the society  were illiterate and economically deprived. Worst of all was the position of women. There was discrimination against them in every sphere of life, from living to work to social status.
  • Reformative movements of nineteenth and twentieth centuries – From time to time, nationalist leaders and social reformers tried to remove the inequality and injustice prevalent in the society against lower castes . At times, the lower caste people themselves rebelled against prejudices. Efforts to uplift them and eliminate all forms of exploitation started with the emergence of Reformative movements during the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century like Arya Samaj initiated by Swami Dayanand, or “Achutodhar” by Gandhiji.
  • Intelligentsia and Reformers of that period gave serious thought to the problem and conveyed the message that the inequality in the society should be finished. It was also impressed upon the masses that “Abhava” (Scarcity), “Agyan” (Ignorance), “Anyaya” (Injustice), and “Alasya” (Laziness) were the sources of all the evils prevalent in the society. Therefore, necessary efforts should be made by people, society and the government to get over these shortcomings.
  • Deprivation no longer acceptable in modern world – Various revolutions like the French revolution, Bolshevik revolution, Industrial revolution and other contemporary developments during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries made the people alert and aware of their rights. Misery, ignorance and economic deprivation, which were ear liar accepted as one’s lot, were no longer acceptable.
  • Masses desired to get benefited from the resources of the nation – Masses started wishing that they themselves should be benefited, as much as possible, from the resources of their nation. Millions of people started demanding with persisting insistence better facilities in life – they demanded protection from five major evils of an underdeveloped or developing society – want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.
  • Desire to establish a new economic order – The public desired to go forward quickly and to establish a new economic order, in which common man and weaker section of society could have better deal. It forced the national governments to take upon themselves the responsibility of protecting and nurturing them in such a manner that they got enough opportunities to grow, to their fullest stature.
  • Start of ‘Quota system’ in India – That was the time, when the British government in India opened the doors of education for all and  helped the weaker section of the society by bestowing upon them some special concessions and preferences through the policy of fixing up Quotas (former form of ‘Reservation policy’) for different communities in the later half of the Nineteenth century.
  • Scene after World-War II – After World War II, “Laissez-faire” theory of government’s function gave way to the concepts of “Welfare State”, and “Development Administration”. These concepts aimed at bringing about “Social, political and economic justice” and “Betterment to the lot of the submerged sections of the society” by building up a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy, in which the downtrodden could have a better deal.

With the general acceptance of these concepts all-over the world, the national governments gradually assumed the responsibility of welfare of all its citizens from “Womb to tomb”. Specific concessions, protections and assistance were given to the weaker sections of society in one form or the other all-over the world. In India, one of such protection measures adopted has been “Reservation Policy”.

Much before Dr. Ambedkar demanded Reservations for untouchables in Government jobs and separate electorate for them (a demand conceded by the British Governments in 1932), many Provincial Governments, especially those in the South, had already fixed up quotas on the basis of castes and communities. They were giving preferences to certain castes and communities in educational institutions and government jobs.

Interestingly enough the Government of India Act, 1935, did not contain any specific provision for reservation. It, however, contained a few Sections (Section 275 and 298) which indirectly dealt with the subject through “Negative Protection” to those suffering from disability by reasons of race, religion, place of birth, descent, colour or any of them. The reservations in the Central services started since 1943, whereas the ST’s became eligible for reservations since 1950.

Scene after Independence

 There has been a perplexing diversity in geography, culture, caste, religion and language in India. Along with it, there has been a great disparity between different sections of society – socially and economically. The attention of national leaders was drawn towards illiteracy, ignorance, superstitions, and taboos on food, drink and marriages, social segregation, lack of communication, living in inaccessible areas, unhealthy loyalties, continuing discrimination and lack of security,­ economic, social and legal.

Primary Goals  according   – After independence, India, being a democratic country pursued the principles of ‘Welfare State’ and ‘Social Justice’ after the Independence. The primary goals of the government for the independent India were:

  • To build a self-reliant nation through optimal utilization of its resources.
  • To establish an egalitarian and tolerant society based on the principles of justice, social economic and political,
  • To ensure to everyone equality of status and opportunity and
  • To give underprivileged a fair start

Views of Constituent Assembly members – Different views were exchanged during constituent Assembly debates –

  • Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Chairman of Drafting Committee of Indian Constitution and founder of reservation policy in India, was of the opinion that social structure of India and its ‘Principle of Varna’ was responsible for the pathetic condition of ‘Avarna Hindus’, and keeping them far away from the mainstream and progressive influences. Varna system has divided the whole society of India into – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas (Savarna Hindus) and Shudras (Avarna Hindus). Saverna Hindus were in privileged position. But the condition of Avarna Hindu castes, low Castes, Primitive Tribes, Untouchables and Criminals was pathetic. Avarna Hindus were given neither fair start nor equal opportunity nor square deal. Bringing these submerged sections of society into main stream needed Government’s intervention and initiate the practice of reservation as a government policy.

 

According to Ambedkar, lower castes did not have the courage to demand reasonable wages for their labour. They did not hold property (Land or cash) – they were born to work or starve. They were there only to wait, serve and submit. They were there to do or die.

  • Giani Gurumukh Singh Musafir – Giani Gurumukh Singh Musafir, a member of the Constituent Assembly thought that India had made the Harijans live in very poor condition for hundreds of years. He, therefore, advocated during the Constituent Assembly Debates on November 29, 1947: “Now when India has become free, it becomes the first and foremost duty of Central and Provincial Governments and of every Indian to see that these crores of downtrodden men are uplifted.”…. “They should be provided water, housing and education.”…. “So long as these depressed classes have this idea amongst themselves that they belong to this particular sect, so long as they think that they have this label affixed to them, it is difficult for them to progress. The very names give them this complex that he belongs to a depressed class.”
  • Shri Subhash Lal Saxena – Shri Subhash Lal Saxena, another member of the Constituent Assembly, said during the Constituent Assembly Debate on same day as Giani Gurumukh Singh Musafir i.e. November 27, 1947: “If capable Harijans are available, they should be recruited to superior posts. Besides the ordinary posts, the Harijan should be given all such jobs for which they are eligible. Harijans should be recruited in the Police. They should be given the post of Patwaries, School masters and Head masters etc. These posts would remove the inferiority complex, which is prevailing among them.
  • Many constituent Assembly members apprehended the fall of efficiency and administrative standard. Pt Hriday Narayan Kunjru feared, The regulations, made in this regard, may be unnecessarily wide or they may even be changed in such a way, from time to time, as to enable the executive to exercise a considerable amount of undesirable patronage.  

Constitution on Reservation – Seeing the pathetic condition of masses, Constitution-framers thought, if independent India made the weak to stand and compete with the strong on equal footing, it would be throwing the dice in favour of the strong. Therefore, the Constitution authorizes Central and State governments to take special care of millions of under-fed, under-read and under-clothed people of free India and make special provisions for their sustainable development. Therefore,  Article 15(4) primarily provides for educational opportunities and Article 16 (4) to job opportunities. Directive principles, through Articles 38, 39, 41, 43, 45, 46 etc. gave some guidelines to the future Government. It  allowed  the government to make provisions for reservations for ten years after the implementation of the Constitution and empowered the Parliament to extend the period, if required. The aim was to include and absorb lower strata of society into the mainstream of the nation.

While the Constitution framers were dealing with the topic, special provisions relating to certain classes specifically mentions that as far as the government services are concerned “The claims of the members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be taken into consideration, consistent with the maintenance of efficiency of Administration, in the making of the appointments to services and to posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State”.

Article. 17 of Constitution of India abolished “Untouchability” and made its practice a cognizable offence the most heinous aspect of the Indian society by. Article 15 guarantees equality of opportunity for all citizens irrespective of religion, race, caste, descent, place of birth or any other reason.

Areas, in which Reserved category people get benefits – Reservation Policy benefits reserved category people (SCs, STs and OBCs) in the following areas –

  • Political institutions consisting of the elected representatives of the people.
  • Admission in educational institutions.
  • Reservations in jobs.
  • Reservations in promotions.

In addition to it, candidates, belonging to reserve quota, if succeed to get jobs on their merit, their names are included in General category list, not in the reserved category/quota list. That means the number could even be more than mentioned above in a year. Besides if the candidates with required qualifications are not found in a particular year, the unfilled vacancies are carried over and added in the next years. These can not be filled with other qualified persons.

Measures taken to uplift submerged sections – Under Article 340 of the Constitution, a Commission is to be appointed by the President to investigate the condition of socially and educationally backward citizens, the difficulties under which they labour, make recommendations for removal of those difficulties and other ameliorative measures needed to be taken.

In 1978, a Commission for SC/ST was setup within the Ministry of Horne Affairs to monitor the comprehensive program and to ensure their all- round development. The financial allocations for the welfare of downtrodden have been increased tremendously after independence. The sincere effort towards their development began with Five Year Plans, which aimed at reducing the imbalances and disparities.

The First Five Year Plan identified the problem areas needed to be tackled viz absence of communication, paucity of drinking water, supply and irrigation, education and health facilities and universal poverty etc. Accordingly, many Integrated Development Plans and Sub–Plans were initiated besides reservations.

Reservations for OBC’s – In 1955, Kaka Kalelkar Commission on Backward Classes and in 1980, MandaI Commission, were appointed to suggest ways to improve the condition of poor people in India. On August, 1990, V.P. Singh’s Government accepted to implement, partially, the suggestions made by MandaI Commission viz. reserving 27% jobs for “Other Backward Castes” in all Central Government institutions or institutions aided by the Central Government. It received a great deal of resistance from the people and litigation in Supreme Court. Since 1992 27% seats in jobs are reserved for OBC’s.

Started as a temporary measure – Reservation was accepted by the constitution framers as a temporary measure. Article 330 provides for reservation in Legislature for ten years, unless at the end of this period the reservation is continued by an amendment of the Constitution. However, the Constitution was amended again and again in 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001 to extend this period for another ten years at each instance. Now it has become a never-ending program. And the list of beneficiaries groups has kept on increasing. All state Governments have their own plans for job-reservations in their respective states and extending the list of beneficiary castes. At provincial level, different state-governments have fixed up their own quotas for different castes and communities.

Constitution on De-reservation – Before Independence, there was a provision of reservation in government services for Anglo-Indians. Article 336 of the Constitution clearly says that for the first two years after its start, reservations (in favour of the Anglo-Indians – a minority community) should continue on the basis as before; then during every succeeding period of two years, this reservation is to be progressively reduced by at-least ten percent, so that by the end of ten years all such reservation might cease.

The process of de-reservation could be started now for other sections of society, 70 years after the independence  in similar way, without much reactions. Reservations  could be progressively reduced by at-least ten percent after every few years, so that after a reasonable time, all such reservation could be ceased and people could be confident enough to move forward without chrutches.

As Giani Gurumukh Singh Musafir had suggested during the Constituent Assembly Debates on November 29, 1947: “Now when India has become free, it becomes the first and foremost duty of Central and Provincial Governments and of every Indian to see that these crores of downtrodden men ….  bn  should be provided water, housing and education.”…. “So long as these depressed classes have this idea amongst themselves that they belong to this particular sect, so long as they think that they have this label affixed to them, it is difficult for them to progress. The very names give them this complex that he belongs to a depressed class.”

Arguments of the Supporters Of Reservation policy – Policy of reservation has been hailed by it supporters as a “Historic step” the advocates of reservation. To them policy of reservation has been adopted to break the shackles of caste and to improve the lot of the poor masses. Arguments in favour reservation policy –

  • Lower castes under-represented in power echelons – Backward castes constitute about 80% of India’s total population (15% Scheduled Caste, 8% Scheduled Tribes and 52% Other Backward classes), but their representation in echelons of power including the senior in Government of India is a paltry 4.69%. Therefore, supporters of reservation policy demand that employment in government services should be on pro-rata basis.
  • ‘Due share’ to lower strata in power echelons – Founder of Bahujan Samaj Party, Kanshi Ram said, “The reservation for SC/ST began with only 2% in 1935. Now it is 22.5%. Gradually all reservations would be according to proportion of different castes in the population. My aim is to give reservation (to the upper caste minorities), not to demand it. V.P. Singh has made my job easier.” … Ex Prime Minister, V.P. Singh, Prime Minister from Janata Dal, while implementing the MandaI Commission recommendations in August, 1990 said in his independence-day speech, “We want to effectively give to the depressed, downtrodden and backward people their share in the power structure and in decision-making to run country and improve things.”
  • Suppression of downtrodden for centuries – Lower castes had been treated unequally in the past, now they should be given a more than equal status to make empower them. Competition could be just and valid only among equals. Since upper castes had suppressed lower castes on basis of their birth, present generation has to correct age-old imbalances and make reparations by giving downtrodden advantage through reservations. It is a noble and just cause in return for centuries of oppression.
  • Little dilution of meritocracy does not matter – Forward castes are better educated and settled because of the environment, in which they are brought up. But deprived castes, in absence of proper environment and economic constraints are unable to compete on equal terms with upper castes for jobs in the government, public or private sectors. Besides educational capabilities and economic status, socio-political dominance of upper caste is a powerful factor influencing selection process. Witnessing all these aspects social justice demands that jobs should be shared with backward even at cost of little dilution of meritocracy.
  • Foundations of Reservations social, not economic – “All foundations for government’s reservation policy were social, not economic” says Ram Vilas Paswan “Each caste is standing with one foot on the forehead of the one below it in the social hierarchy…” Shri Ram Avdhesh Singh, a M.P. of Lok Dal says, “Even the rich backwards are not given the social status, which poor forwards enjoy. That is why we need representation in the government on caste basis, where wealth and respect go hand in hand. These reservations are not for the economic good, but to link backwards with the State.” (India Today, September 30, 1990) Therefore supporters of Reservation Policy are against the idea of economic criteria. V.P and his associates said that it was introduced in Tamil Nadu in the past, but did not worked there (Times of India news item on September 4, 1990).
  • Whitewash a bitter historical reality – Swami Agnivesh of Bandhua Mukti Morcha had said, “We have created our fractures and schisms – it was not the Mughals, it was not the British, it was the Vedas that consolidated the casteism in Indian culture. We can describe the reservation policy today as palliatives, an attempt to whitewash a bitter historical reality, sitting on a handful of armchair sociologists and pretending the rest of backward India doesn’t exist. That we need is radical social change.”
  • Reservation Policy has empowered backwards as a composite pressure group – “Reservations, on the basis of caste, give the backwards an identity as a composite pressure group. This is a concrete achievement, which will help them to unite and fight for equality. Besides, caste is still a dominant factor in Indian social-structure; its existence should be accepted for recognising the under-privileged groups.” (News item in Times of India, September 15, 1990)
  • Merit not a prerogative of upper castes only – Merit is not found in upper castes only. There are many meritorious and talented boys and girls amongst the SC/ST/OBC. They only need proper atmosphere and opportunities for education and employment in order to shine to their full capacity. In old Madras Presidency, there were 100% reservation/job quotas, both for “Forward” and Backward” castes. Today about 68% seats are reserved for SC/ST/OBC in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and they are far ahead of other provinces in matter of prosperity and good governance, where there is upper caste domination in administration.
  • Norm of ‘pull’ and ‘push’ – Ram Vilas Paswan, ex-minister says, “There is no such thing as merit in India today, there is only “pull” and “Influence”…. “Merit” is only a term used for the purpose of disruption by agitators.” Shri Paswan asks why forward class does not look towards merit in candidates admitted in institutions of higher learning because of capitation fee or selected for influential posts because of their family background.
  • ‘Bearer best knows where shoe pinches’ – V.P. Singh told the nation that society would be served best by filling the civil services by downtrodden as they were the bearers who knew where the shoe pinched. They had the qualities of heart, which the administration of the country needed more than the quality of head. They are committed to the uplift of their brethren. Syed Shabuddin of the “Insaf party” had said, “In a democracy every social group is entitled to share the fruits of development and keep a hand on the levers of power…. Both intra and inter group disparities must be reduced by Legislative policies. If the backward classes come into administrative posts, they may be able to increase efficiency, as they will be having grass-root knowledge of actual problems.” (News item in the Times of India, September 15, 1990)

In short, supporters of reservation consider it necessary to empower the downtrodden, to reduce economic inequalities, to give them social respectability, to reduce imbalances created due to upper class influence and to break the psychological barrier, to give downtrodden their due share in power structure.

Arguments of Anti-reservationists – Anti-reservationists doubt the efficacy of Reservation Policy. Reservation has been a source of turmoil in society many a time. They have shown their resentment every-time Parliament had extended the period for reservations. In seventies and eighties, the agitation against reservation policy took a major turn by taking a shape of national movement affecting many parts of the country. The agitation against reservation sparked violently in Gujarat in 1983 and spread to other places when a meritorious physically handicapped student of upper caste was denied admission in MD course and the quota student with much less marks was admitted. Such cases definitely arouse public sentiments and they criticise the government for following the policy blindly. Somehow the authorities were able to suppress it. But scars were left. They say –

  • Contrary to principles of equality – Reservations are contrary to principles of equality, fraternity and social justice. There is something fundamentally wrong with Reservation Policy. In the name of social justice, fundamental rights of many deserving people are curtailed or negated. It benefits and increases the number of those, who are desirous to find an easier way-out.
  • Genesis of Reservation Policy in “Divide and Rule” dictum – Reservations were first introduced by the British rulers to “Divide” the Indian population and “rule” the nation as long as possible. The British government divided Indians on the basis of caste and community. British rulers, who got alarmed about the increasingly power and influence of Brahmins, purposely propagated myth of tyranny of the “Forward Castes”, especially of Brahmins over rest of the society. Therefore, British rulers pinpointed Brahmins as oppressors and tyrants, who wilfully kept others down. They encouraged anti-Brahmin formations in the South. They started the practice of fixing-up quotas in various educational-institutions and government jobs on one side and separate electorate for religious groups on the other. Later on, Reservations started in other parts of the country as well for backward communities.
  • Source of Vote-bank politics – Now many politicians and their parties advocate to fix a quota for more castes,  to increase the percentage of quota and extend its time-frame for ever in order to create vote banks. Like Britishers, politicians and supporters of pro-reservation want to divide the nation, on the basis of caste, community or gender. They want to grab and hold political power as long as possible. Already, there is a perplexing diversity in India along geography, culture, caste, religion and language lines. They are spreading venom in the heart of each identity against other. If not checked on time, communalism and casteism are bound to destroy the unity of the nation and narrow down the aspiration of people.
  • Administration and policy-making for Sustainable Development requires services of most talented – The task of administration is one of the most difficult. It is so complex that it requires services of most talented, sincere, hardworking and honest people. A preference to a person with inferior talent over a person with superior talent is not only unjust but against national interests. Reservations in employment contemplates putting those on responsible positions in the government, “Who are not qualified for the job” – (Arun Shourie). And in the process, power passes from meritocracy to mediocracy (Nani Palkiwala). It also means that sub-standard services would be rendered to the general public.
  • Common-men suffer more – The policy of reservation affects adversely the efficiency of administration as a whole. Deteriorating standards of working in government institutions and poor law and order situation have already done irreparable damage to the development of SC/ST and OBC communities and made their lives miserable. The larger objective of eradicating the poverty and bringing the downtrodden in the main-stream could never be achieved by laying stress on quantity rather than quality and lowering the standards of education or governance. Does reserving a very few places for SC, ST & OBC satisfy the basic needs of millions of underfed, under-clothed and under-read people of India
  • Contributions of upper class – Kaka Kalelkar had said in, ‘Note of Dissent of First Backward caste Commission “It would be well, if representatives of the Backward-classes remembered that whatever good they find in the Constitution and the liberal policy of the Government, is the result of the awakened conscience of the upper classes themselves. Whatever Government is doing by way of atonement is readily accepted and acclaimed by the nation as a whole. The upper classes have contributed their share in formulating the policies of the Government. Removal of untouchability, establishment of equality and social justice, special consideration for backward classes, all these elements found place in the Constitution without a single voice of dissent from the upper classes.” Upper castes are still contributing their share through taxes (the money collected from taxes is supposed to be spent on developmental plans.) Somewhere, they are supporting, elsewhere actively participating in formulating developmental policies of the government.
  • Quantity of reservation quota – So long as “only a few places” were kept aside for those severely disadvantaged – Harijans and Girijans, the people tolerated the policy as functioning of institutions did not stand much risk of being vitiated and consideration of caste and community were placed under control. But, when V.P. Singh announced to implement 27% for reservation in jobs for OBCs, in addition to 22.5% reservation for SC/STs in government jobs, heart burning and stir against Reservation Policy passed all the limits. The whole nation was in for caste wars.
  • Reservation policy ignores merit – Reservation policy as it ignores merit. In 1947, when the Constitution framers were dealing with the reservation policy, they showed clearly their concern for efficiency. Art. 335 directs that ‘reservations for SC/ST should be consistent with the maintenance of efficiency of administration.’ Today, when economy is in shambles, inflation has touched 13%, coffers are empty, and common man is suffering due to inefficiency and mal-functioning of the government, the nation can not afford to ignore merit and efficiency. In Private Sector, survival and prosperity depends on merit. It picks up the best talent available in the country from the educational institutions itself by conducting “Campus interviews” and does not allow sub­standard working. That is why it is attracting the talents of the nation and is prospering.
  • Discourages development of skills – Reservation has discouraged development of skills, resources and attitudes in SC/STs needed to succeed without the crutches of reservation and has encouraged backwardness, inefficiency and lack of competitive merit amongst the castes enjoying reservation.
  • Making people lazy and increases malpractices – People of lower castes have taken these concessions for granted and expect it to last for ever. It has made even competent persons amongst them lazy and complacent. Guarantee of share in power structure without much effort develops an attitude never value the dignity of labour and work hard. The reservation policy is adding fuel to this attitude. Obtaining false certification about caste is increasing in order to get the advantage of the limited spoils. It has raised the expectation of others as well.
  • Short time measure – In many provinces, scheduled castes were enjoying the benefit of reservation in proportion to their population since 1935. Constitution had provided for state patronage to SC/ST for ten years i.e. till 1960, to SCs, because they were far away from the mainstream on account of “Untouchability” and other constraints, and STs because of “Social isolation due geographical reasons”. After the end of this period, the concession could be  continued by an amendment of the Constitution, which was not very likely. It was hoped that underprivileged would be at least in a position to stand on their feet by 1960.
  • Times have already changed – Vote-bank politics has changed everything since then. Successive governments have ignored the sweeping changes that have occurred throughout the country over the last 70 years. Through various measures, including Reservation Policy, people of all castes have progressed. Anti Brahmin movements in former Estates of Madras and Bombay had effectively eliminated Brahmins as a dominant political force. Lower strata of society had organized themselves, consolidated their economic and acquired political power. Through reservations they have succeeded in occupying position of power.
  • Shift of power in favour of Backwards – Political power has already shifted in favour of backwards, almost completely in the South and in massive strides in Bihar and UP, where they constitute nearly 40% of the Legislative strength. At State and local levels, especially in more populous rural areas their influence is continuously growing. Untouchables have made concerted efforts to mobilize themselves and to secure their upward mobility as may be seen in the case of Izhavas of Kerala, Mehars of Maharashtra, Chamars of UP, Meenas of Rajasthan, etc. Radical movement such as that launched by the militants Dalit Panther in Maharashtra have made the emerging strength of the lowest caste felt with increasing effectiveness.
  • Rigidity of caste wearing out – Rigidity of caste has been gradually wearing out. Introduction of railways, opening of hotels and restaurants, radio, TV and cinema houses have contributed to the relaxation of caste prejudices and rigidities. Besides education and training, land reforms, industrialisation etc have brought awareness amongst backward castes. The end of many practices, which created distances between different castes in the past, is a hopeful sign and guarantee for the future well being of every Indian citizen.
  • New lease of life to caste – Entry of caste into political arena through reservation policy has given a new lease of life to caste in the form of caste-ism. Caste-ism has not only held its ground but began to strengthen its hold in the politics at national as well as provinces levels. Politicians of Independent India are well-versed in making its increasing use in politics.
  • Time for gradual de-legitimization of caste – Yogendra Singh, Dean of Political Science in the Jawaharlal Nehru University says, “Forty years have seen enormous differentiation in class and caste division. Caste should not be the central element in dispensing social justice. In fact, there should be a process of gradual de-legitimization of caste by finding scientific methods for the exit of SCs and STs from the reserved quota.” (India Today, September 30, 1990)
  • ‘Past is past’ – Vasant Sathe of Congress (I) says “Reservation is no solution for a crime so many centuries old. Nor it is ethical to punish our present society for the sins of our fore fathers.” It is a law of jungle to hold responsible the present generation for the follies of its previous generations. According to Rule of law the present generation can not be punished for what their forefathers did.
  • Undermines ‘Principle of Equality’ – Anti-reservationists argue that there was a case to end the quota business in 1960 itself. Yet it has been allowed to continue till today. The Indian Constitution is committed to two different principles both of which relate to equality: ‘principle of equal opportunities’ and “principle of redress’. Now it is over due that ‘principle of equality’ be enforced in its true spirit without any favour. Since policy of reservation undermines the principle of equality, it should be gradually discontinued as had been done in the case of Anglo Indians in accordance with the Article 336 of the Constitution.
  • Inter and intra caste wars – Reservation policy does not consider all individuals equal. Instead caste becomes the basis to get this privilege. It leads to inter-caste rivalry. Anti-reservationists accuse the pro-preservationists for inciting the caste war by provoking public feelings. Brahmins and upper castes has been pinpointed as an enemy of downtrodden, who have always exploited the downtrodden mercilessly.
  • Distortion of historical facts – Political adventurers, dictators and fundamental fanatics have distorted the history in the past and used it as a ploy to serve their own selfish or partisan interests. It does not even matter to them, whether their own version of history is real or based on fantasy. When Hitler walked into Sudetanland, he claimed historical authority. When Mussolini attacked Ethopia in 30′s, he quoted history. When Zionists claimed Jeruselem, they tried to justify their act by citing history. When Saddam Hussain walked into Kuwait on August2, 1990, He staked his claim on the basis of raking up old history. Same thing had happened on August 15, 1990, when V.P. Singh announced 27% reservation for OBCs, it was hailed by his supporters as “A historic decision which will go a long way in giving the rightful share to socially and economically backward castes in the power structure of the country, of which they were denied under the pressure from the vested interests.”
  • Reasons of backwardness other than caste – At present, submerged section of society does not suffer so much due to discrimination on the basis of caste as for other reasons. Kaka Kalelkar, first Chairman of First Backward class Commission had said, ““If the backward communities have neglected education it is because they had no use for it (in the past). Now that they have discovered their mistakes, it is for them to make the necessary efforts for making the leeway…As far as the assistance in the matter of education for the backward classes, I am convinced that introduction of basic education in all the states with help the backward communities to cultivate self-confidence. They will also have a better chance of succeeding in life and have the advantage of mixing with other people.”
  • Glamorization of Backwardness –Earlier, backwardness was considered as stigma. People of lower castes attempted to improve mannerism in order to climb up in the ladder of social status. These days, many castes claim for a lower status and want to be included in the list of SC/ST, so that they may taste the fruits of reservation as well. No more any caste is ashamed of being called untouchable or backward. Reservations have created vested interests in the “Backwardness.” Now backwardness is a status symbol, because it eases the position, while one is in search of jobs. Therefore, more and more communities are clamouring for the “Backward class” tag. Those in power find it politically expedient to oblige them. The list of castes wishing for reservations has become very long. Witnessing all this it stands to logic that the beneficiary group should be kept under constant review, so that who have over the years reached a stage where they could survive with dignity without any crutches, could be delisted.
  • Creamy layer of lower castes at advantage – Benefits of Reservations are confined within the creamy layer of lower strata, while, it was supposed to benefit ‘poorest of the poor’. How can all the 80% downtrodden be accommodated in power echelons by reserving only 49.552% jobs out of 1% of total government jobs available in the country? Naturally, only few people are benefited, others are given only false assurances during the times of elections.
  • Economic criteria as a basis – Anti-reservationists argue that consideration of caste instead of economic backwardness is not just. Reservations, if it is necessary should be given on the basis of ‘economic criteria’ to all the poor regard less of their caste identity. There should also be an income ceiling for SC/ST and others with the entitlement of their children for reservations in job and admission to educational institutions. Then only really deserving people could be benefited.
  • Led to Brain drain – Reservation has shaken the confidence of the youth of so called forward class. About 50% reservations in government jobs have left many deserving and intelligent youths unemployed or underemployed. Some of them choose the path of crime or violence. Unemployment has been one of the reasons behind Punjab and Kashmir problems. Many intelligent and hard working youth are losing their interest, rapidly, in government jobs. They prefer to go abroad in search of greener pastures, where they get good return for their talents and hard-work. In addition, they get job satisfaction because of tension free atmosphere at work-place. Reservations have, thus, led to brain drain. It has already squeezed out many meritorious by leading the country to massive brain drain.
  • Cry for social-Justice? – The attempt to establish a socialistic government does not carry much weight. The USSR a super-power of pre-1990 days collapsed like a house of cards, despite having Socialistic government for last 70 years. With all its State control and public support, it could not provide expected relief to its masses. How could socialistic ideals provide relief to the masses in India, where there exists so much corruption and inefficiency in administration?
  • Feeling of alienation – Creation and perpetuation quotas in educational institutions and jobs has made backward classes alienated from the main stream. It is adversely affecting national solidarity. It is sowing the seeds of hatred among the people and put hindrances on the way of mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust necessary for the development of the nation as a whole. Along with it, efficiency or excellence, probity, integrity of institutions and trust, which are required for overall well-being are adversely affected.
  • Reservations in Government jobs need not be a political program – Reservation in government jobs need not be made a political programme, which must be done according to the electoral mathematics. It was envisaged to uplift the submerged sections of society and make their future better. Governance is one of the most difficult and specialized tasks. Government employees are supposed to have sufficient professional knowledge and expertise in various disciplines – functional, technical, specialist as well as managerial and generalist – so that they could properly aid and advise the elected representatives of the people and dig for them the expert knowledge from the raw material, give it a shape with a sense of commitment. For attaining that expertise, they have to be equipped with knowledge in various educational institutions. Therefore, the government should be very careful while recruiting people in government jobs.

If politicians are so keen to give reservations to lower castes, a share in the power structure of the nation, why not quotas are fixed for members of different castes by law and elect turn by turn or by rotation – the President, the Prime Minister, the Vice President, Cabinet Ministers, Ambassadors, Governors, Chief minister of every state? In these positions, the representatives of the people are elected or selected and entrusted the power and make decisions for a fix period. If their performance is not satisfactory, at-least they can be removed or changed. But government jobs are permanent and government servants can not be removed easily till they retire after 32 or 35 years of service. Wrong person in wrong position could adversely affect the standard/functioning of the governance which should not be allowed.

Wanchoo Commission Report, 1968, and Railway Reforms Committee Report, 1983, on the working of Railways observed that reservations in jobs and promotions adversely affects the enthusiasm, incentive for hard work and devotion to duty and in-turn the efficiency and the morale of the civil servants. Sikri Commission on Railways, 1968, linked accidents with reservations. These three reports are just about one government department and that too when reservation is only 22.5% for SC/ST. What is going to happen, now when it is 50%? Who would be the ultimate sufferer. It is the innocent public only.

  • Double standard – The government itself has exempted certain services and posts from reservation in order to maintain efficiency, discipline and loyalty to the nation intact such as all the Defence Services, Scientific and technical posts in the Department of Space, Atomic Energy, Electronics, posts of pilots and top technical persons in Air India and Indian Airlines, all scientific posts of Indian Institute of Science, Banglore, teaching posts in IITs and IIMs, private secretary to the PM and other Ministers, Planning Commission Members etc. (A Handbook on reservation for SC/ST compiled by Sharma and Purohit). It proves that the government maintains double standards.
  • Reservations for women – If any class in India needs reservation on the grounds of social discrimination or under-representation in power echelons, it is only the women in India. How about reserving 50% seats for them in all educational institutions and government jobs? That would be their just share and will not divide the society along the caste lines either. If it cannot be done, then at least 50% of the reserved quota could always be kept aside for women of respective castes. Are the politicians prepared to make such provision for women too?

In short, Anti-reservationists think that there is something fundamentally wrong with the Reservation Policy. It has been criticized for creating many conflicting identities like – majority and minority, backward and forwards, urban and rural, north and south and man and woman etc. It is being extended again and again with an aim to create “Vote-bank” in the garb of helping the needy.

In the name of social justice, fundamental rights of many deserving people are being curtailed or negated. It is a farce in the name of social justice, a slap on the face of education and merit, a vote catching measure and misuse of power by political parties.

Views of prominent persons on Reservation Policy – The views of some prominent leaders on reservation, are as follows:

  • Shri V.P. Singh – In his independence-day speech on August 15th, 1990, Shri V.P. Singh, ex-Prime Minister of India announced, while accepting the recommendations of Mandal Commission: “Bureaucracy is an important organ of the power structure and it has a decisive role in the decision-making exercise. We want to effectively give to the depressed, downtrodden and backward people their share in the power structure and in decision making to run this country and improve things. “
  • Mahatma Gandhi – In his book titled “India of my dreams” Mahatma Gandhi wrote: “So far as the reservations in the government departments is concerned, I think, it will be fatal to a good government, if we introduce there the communal spirit for administration to be efficient, it must be always in the hands of the fittest. There should be certainly no favouritism.”… “Distribution of posts should never be according to the proportion of members of each community. “… “Those who aspire to occupy responsible posts in the government of the country can only do if they pass the required test.”
  • Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru – In a letter dated June 27, 1961, addressed to Chief Ministers of various States, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, Ex-Prime Minister of India wrote, “I have referred above to efficiency and to our getting out of the traditional rut. This necessitates our getting out of the old habit of reservations and particular privilege being given to this caste or that group. It is true that we are tied up with certain rules and conventions about helping the SC/STs. That deserve help, but even so I dislike any kind of reservation, more particularly in services. I react strongly against anything which leads to inefficiency and second rate standards. I want my country to be a first class country in everything. The moment we encourage the second rate, we are lost.” “This way, lies not only folly but disaster.”
  • Kaka Kalelkar – As Chairman of the Backward Class Commission, Kaka Kalelkar expressed his views on reservation in education (Backward Class Commission Report, 1956, Vol. I, page X). He wrote: “As far as the assistance in the matter of education for the backward classes, I am convinced that introduction of basic education in all the States will help the backward communities to cultivate self-confidence. They will also have a better chance of succeeding in open competition and having the special advantage of mixing with people and serving them, they will prove themselves better administrators and leaders of society.”                                       On page VIII of the same report, he has expressed his views on reservation in government services too, as under: “I am definitely against reservations in government services for any community for the simple reason that the services are not meant for the servants but they are meant for the service of the society as a whole. Administration must have the services of the best men available in the land and these may be found in all the communities. Reservation of posts for certain backward communities would be as strange as reservation of patients for a particular doctor. The patients are not meant to supply adequate or proportionate clientele to all the doctors what ever their qualifications.”
  • Sri B.D. Sharma – Shri Sharma, the Commissioner for SC/ST has pointed out in his 29th Report, tabled in Parliament on August 31st, 1990, as under: “The policy of reservation in government jobs has not improved the lot of the bulk of SC/ST in the country. In fact, in many cases, their condition has further deteriorated. “It is quite clear that even if the policy of positive discrimination were to succeed fully, it could benefit only a small section of these communities. On the other hand, if inequality continues to increase in our country or continues even at the present level, the maximum damage will” befall on the members of these communities themselves, because their condition is already the worst as in the case of the SC or because they are facing the most severe backlash of development as in the case of the S.T……” ” The policy of reservation is ironical, as it demands a share for the weaker section” in the gains of iniquitous system, which in the ultimate analysis cannot be anything, but the proceeds of exploitation of other poor belonging to the same group who remain at the bottom.”

  • Chowdhary Charan Singh – Chowdhary Charan Singh, the founder of Lok Dal and charismatic leader of Backward castes and class, wrote: “It must be conceded that reservation on the basis of caste is a vicious principle and creates many problems. More than reservation in recruitment, it is reservation in promotions that has led to great heart burning and great inefficiency in our services. Such reservation whether in favour of Scheduled or Backward castes, was, in my opinion beyond intentions of the founding fathers. Boys belonging to poor families, particularly those, where large section of our people are considered socially inferior for centuries past, are entitled to consideration rather than concessions at the hands of the government of independent India.”                                                                                                                      Chowdhary Charan Singh was also against extending reservation to SC/ST beyond 10 years “The intelligent and hard working youth are losing their interest, rapidly, in government jobs. They prefer to go abroad in search of greener pastures, where they get return for their talents and hard-work. In addition, they get job satisfaction because of tension free atmosphere at work-place. … “The Union Government, however, has for political reasons, been extending the period of reservations decades after decades. There should be bars on children of those who have benefited from reservation and those who are income tax payers, so that other less fortunates could be helped.” (A letter, February 12,1982 to Banarasi Dass, the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh)

  • Ram Vilas paswan – The Dalit Sena president and Janata Party leader, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, in his speech at Benipatti, Madhubani, on December 12, 1987 demanded for amendment to the Constitution to end the prevalent reservation system for Harijans and other backward classes in the Government services and replacing it by right to work for every body…. Reservation system had failed to achieve its purpose and had created social tension in the country. Mr. paswan said that despite Constitutional provisions and related laws, the government at the Centre and State had failed to protect the interest of Harijans.                                                                                     Later on, Paswan became the champion of reservation policy. He advocated reservations in jobs and educational institutions on permanent basis. It should continue till the caste system persists in India. Since caste system can not be put to an end, therefore, there is no justification for finishing the reservation for the downtrodden.

Views of intelligentsia regarding reservations in government jobs –

  • Professor Andre BeteilIe – Professor Beteille said: “Once the uneven distribution of caste in public institutions comes to be perceived as a problem of distributive justice, institutional well-being takes the back seat.” “Job reservations in public institutions are required to protect the interest of SC/ST, backward classes and minorities – if this argument is believed to be right and acted upon then our institutions can not function as they ought to, their well-being will be irreparably damaged.” … “The best course would be to expand the pool of qualified candidates at the lower level but this would call for patience which no government in India has so far shown.” “A quicker course, whose effects would show immediately in official statistics, would be to alter the proportions directly, through reservation of jobs.” (6th T. T. Krishnamachari Memorial lecture on “Distributive Justice & Institutional well-being”, November 11, 1990, the Institute of Economic Growth)
  • Shri H.M. Seervai – Shri Seervai wrote: “Reservations affect five parties adversely:
    • The State – to whose service persons are recruited by open competition in examinations held by independent Public Service Commissions.
    • The public – As the very phrase “Public servant” shows.
    • The persons – who are discriminated against, by reservations in favour of members of SC/ST.
    • Members of SC/ST – In whose favour discrimination is being made by fixing reservation quota; and
    • The service – That is each service considered as a whole. (“Is an efficient public service irrelevant in India”, Indian Express, September, 1990)                                                               “A service which lacks spirit-de-corps, that is, consciousness of and pride in belonging to a particular service, lacks an element essential to an efficient an harmonious administration. The position further deteriorates in a service in which in matters of promotion, people with superior qualifications are subordinate to people with admittedly inferior qualifications.”
  • Nani A Palkiwala – Shri Palkiwala opined that Reservation policy suffers from five fatal flaws:
    • The sub-standard replaces the standard, and the reins of power are to pass from meritocracy to mediocracy.
    • It ignores the reality that there are no backward castes but backward individuals.
    • Reservations in promotion are disastrous enough for the civil administration.
    • It divides the country on caste lines and is against social harmony and social intermingling of various castes.
    • Equality is the very heart of free republic, the foundation stone of true republic, the source of inspiration, the criteria for its citizenship and the hope for its welfare. The bedrock of reservation is discrimination in-reverse: it is discrimination against merit and calibre. (“Unity and security of State at stake”, Indian Express, September 14, 1990)
  • Arun Shourie – Arun Shourie, in an Article titled “This way lies not only folly but disaster” appearing in the Indian Express on August 22, 1990, writes: “A job should be something one has to work to get, something which one has to do one’s utmost to retain and advance in. It should not be, advancement in it must not be anyone’s by right”. But reservation definitely develops the ethos that the job, the promotion is mine by right and that too because of by my birth, not work. How can a modern society survive, let alone grow with this as its ethos?

An analysis of the issue

There are certain basic truths, which needs to be accepted and pay attention to, before taking policy-decisions. Such as:

Society as an organic body – Society behaves and develops like an organic body. Each organ does a particular function and coordinated working of all organs together keeps the whole body fit and alive. Like other organic bodies, each and every section of society is an indispensable part of the society, which needs equal attention and proper care for the balanced growth of the society as a whole.

Just like in an organic body, weaker parts need special care, but not at the cost of others. So is in the society. Each and every section of the society needs to be assigned a specific function. Each one should perform its respective job. Society needs the services of all sections of the society. The work of any section is neither inferior nor superior to other. Each and every section of society needs to be aware of its indispensability to the whole. A society can move and prosper to its fullest, when each and every section of society does its functions well and lives in harmony; and when there is mutual help, respect and trust amongst the various sections of the society.

Society as an organisation – For an efficient and smooth functioning, like an organization, society also needs –
•Division of labour – Nobody can do all the work by himself. Division of different functions required in a society is the first requisite.
•Grouping of activities – All functions and activities should be so grouped as to avoid confusion. Activities of similar nature or having same objectives are grouped under one section.
•Structure – An organization needs a structure with well defined functions. The structure must be simple and easy to understand. It should also ensure continuous growth and, therefore, should not be rigid.
•Balance of activities – Proper weight-age to different activities, in proportion to their contribution to organization as a whole, is necessary. No activity should either be over-valued or under-valued.
•Team spirit – Relationship between various groups within an organization should be based on the principle of “mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust”. It facilitates better coordination of diverse activities performed by different sections. Smooth relations amongst its constituent’s leads to optimal utilisation of resources and to satisfaction of all its constituent members.
•Specialisation – Concentration of a section on the performance of a single task, leads to greater efficiency and more specialisation. Functions need to be assigned on the basis qualifications, skills, attitude and aptitude of its employees.
•Creative thinking – A good organisation encourages initiative and creative thinking.
•Satisfaction – Organization must be able to satisfy the biological as well as psychological needs of its employees as an individual as well as a group.
•Adoption of new technologies and development – An organization helps adopts new improved means of doing things, permits prompt adoption and optimum use of technological advancements. It must avoid nepotism, favouritism and must give an upper hand to merit and talent.

Indian society contains all the essentials of a good organisation.

Truth about “Varna-system” – “Varna system” along with its castes and sub­-castes is not as bad as has been portrayed earlier by British rulers, now by some leaders and the pro­-reservationists. It is based on principles ‘mutual respect, trust and tolerance for each other’, ‘There is enough for everybody’s need, but not enough for anyone’s greed’ or ‘To each according to his needs and from each according to his capacity’. ‘Division of work’ was based on attitude and aptitude of an individual. It has given to India a solid social-structure, which is simple to understand. Above all, it has provided unity of culture which has been able to bind the people of Indian peninsula from one end to the other.

Mahatma Gandhi said “The main reason of our economic and spiritual degeneration is that we have not correctly followed the “Varna System”. This is the main reason of poverty and unemployment and one of the main reasons that there is untouchability”. He suggested to encourage education amongst the masses for the growth a self-contained and self-regulated society; all occupations to be given equal respect; people to be encouraged, not to be forced to adopt their hereditary occupations; and difference of income derived from various occupations should be narrowed down to the minimum.

“Policy of reservation” lost its validity – “Policy of reservation” adopted by the independent India has lost its value and justification now. Reformatory movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, attempts of constitution-framers spread of education and awareness amongst general public. Many changes have come about in the whole atmosphere, in thinking, attitude and aspirations of common-men. Recent technological advancements have made the life of common-men easier and created enormous opportunities to earn more. The experiences of recent past reveal that Policy of reservation has lost its value and justification now because –

SC/STs and OBCs emerged as powerful pressure groups – After the green revolution of sixties, the economic and political status of people engaged in agriculture India has improved tremendously. India being an agricultural country, 75% of its population (mostly belonging to SC and OBC categories) is engaged in agricultural sector only. Reforms gave them permanent rights as owners or otherwise. New agricultural technologies, backed by administrative and financial support by governmental agencies, helped them the chance to get out of the trap of poverty. They have organized themselves and emerged as a very powerful pressure group both in the fields of economics and politics. Still, if many SC/STs and OBCs have not been able utilise this opportunity fully, fault lies somewhere else and not in caste system. In their under-nourished faces are written the failures of the successive Governments and their policies that have ignored their actual needs.

Caste is no longer a barrier in the matter of jobs – Doors of education have been opened for all. Many scholarships, loans, hostel facilities, and admission in select institutes of the country (Where the whole expenditure is borne by the government) are being made available to them. Many Integrated Development Programmes and Sub Plans have been initiated to improve their position – socially and economically.

Immense choices in matter of occupation – Earlier people were forced to earn their living only by doing their hereditary jobs. But the Constitution of India gave everybody freedom and equal opportunity to select one’s source of earning. Society has accepted the change-over to any profession a person wishes to pursue and for that he has to prove his suitability in the job market. Educational facilities have been provided to them. Many scholarships, loans, hostel facilities, and admission in select institutes of the country (Where the whole expenditure is borne by the government) are being made available to them. Many Integrated Development Programmes and Sub Plans have been initiated to improve their position – socially and economically. However, sub-merged people of SC/ST community have not so far been able to utilise this opportunity fully. Benefits are benefitting the creamy layer amongst them.

Label of Brahmin or Shudra meaningless today – Today, the label of Brahmin or of Shudra does not matter much in choosing a profession. There is no dearth of employment opportunities. From all sections of society, people are acquiring necessary qualifications and are entering into areas of their choice. Experience shows that all are doing well in almost all spheres.

Increasing opportunities in service sector – A vacuum has been created in the service sector, when many traditional jobs became obsolete. Jobs in service sector could also fetch a handsome amount of money. Recently some people engaged in this field such as tailors, carpenters, dyers and drycleaners, owners of hotels and restaurants, owners of video libraries, scooter and taxi drivers even Paanwalas are doing much better than ever before. The key to their success appears to be the very same as elsewhere – hard-work, excellence, maintenance of standard or quality and entrepreneurial skill. Today, in the lure of safe and secure job, easy and quick money, government jobs in local, state or central levels are becoming very popular.

That day appears not to be far off when in complex technological society, the white-collared jobs would loose their present attraction and the service sector would get a prominent place. An excellent plumber then may become more admirable than an incompetent scientist. Therefore, instead of disturbing the efficiency and working of the organized sector, the government could concentrate on enormous opportunities of self­ employment available in this sector, and thus helping the downtrodden to establish well themselves in the society.

Creamy layer amongst beneficiary groups – On the one hand, it has been experienced that Benefit of reservations is confined within a few dominant and prosperous SC/ST and OBC castes. They have now acquired economic, political and above all muscle power. Many of them make vote banks for the politicians, capture booths during elections and could ask their unfortunate brethren to shut their mouths or to meet the consequences. In certain regions, they themselves have become the exploiters of their unfortunate brethren – suppressing the agricultural labours and are heaping atrocities on Harijans.

Efficiency in administration – A service which lacks spirit-de-corps, that is, consciousness of and pride in belonging to a particular service, lacks an element essential to an efficient an harmonious administration. The position further deteriorates in a service in which in matters of promotion, people with superior qualifications are subordinate to people with admittedly inferior qualifications.

It is feared that relaxation in matter of recruitment standard, as reservation policy suggests, adversely affects efficiency of administration. It creates a distance between quota officers and non-quota officers, adversely affects integrity and coordinated efforts of services for development of the nation as a whole. Merit oriented approach in matter of filling crucial and important posts, in principle, opposes reservation of any kind, which gives preferences to a person over a more talented person. It is a humanitarian obligation of a civilized society to uplift and empower the weaker sections of its society. But it should not be done at the cost of efficiency in administration. Mal-administration or ineffective and inefficient administration makes the life of common people more miserable.

False assurances – Politicians and political parties with vested interests are luring the poor masses by promising them to give government jobs through reservations. Government jobs still fascinate the masses as with it are attached the attraction of fix salary, prestige, power, influence, security of employment and scope to distribute patronage. If without acquiring the needed qualifications and without much effort one can get all these things, no body minds it.

Vast reservoir of talents amongst the lower strata of society – There is a vast reservoir of potential/talent amongst backwards as well, only they need opportunities to grow. Their hidden qualifications and capabilities Sound education and training would make aware them aware of their hidden qualifications and their capabilities. Their confidence can be restored, only when they are brought to the level of forward castes people so that they could compete for jobs and promotions on equal terms.

Hurt feelings of poor belonging to upper castes – The deprived and poor people, belonging to so called “Forward caste”, feel betrayed by their own Government. They are being victimised because of no fault of their own. ‘Economic criteria’ offers a general formula to help to all extremely poor and underprivileged individuals irrespective of their caste or creed. Many dynamic and talented youths have lost their faith in the government and interest in government jobs. Upright officers do not get a proper atmosphere in the office or reward for their merit, intelligence, hard work and honesty. On the contrary, due to politicization, growing disregard for the work-culture and overstaffing, upright officers are sidetracked. Fixed salary is just sufficient to keep them from hand to mouth. They have to struggle all through their lives – after paying the taxes, meeting their children’s school fees and coping with ever increasing prices of essential items to maintain a decent life style.

Backwardness of some, not unique in India only – Backwardness of some sections of society having such massive demographic entities is not peculiar to the Indian conditions only. It is universal phenomena. Every nation has it and adopts its own ways to uplift the sub-merged people. The Chinese approach, in this regard is through education and not through unmeritorious reservation of jobs, as there is no need to create vote banks there. Grooming of downtrodden in India could also be done by providing sound education to them. Already there are many institutes and some more may be opened especially for lower strata of society, where they could study the same syllabi and to go through the same courses as other students from a good background. The students from poor background may take more time to go through the same courses and reach up-to the same standard as others. The process may be slow but is steady. The quality of education should not be allowed to deteriorate at any cost as is being done.

Times when Governmental intervention needed – When individuals are proved to be working under special handicap or are not allowed to function freely as citizens, then only the government may intervene irrespective of caste or creed so that deserving persons from all sections of the society may get the needed help. It should punish the culprits strictly and make special provision for advancement of under privileged or handicapped persons. It need not necessarily be in the form of reservations. Reservations have been proved to be disruptive to the peace of the society and unpractical.

Conclusion and suggestions

The past experiences have made it clear that the remedies suggested through reservation proved worse than evils, the leaders were out to combat. To some, this discrimination is positive and to others, negative and contrary to principles of equality, fraternity and social justice.

Deserving people get lost amidst the gore and gusto – The faces of poor people, really deserving support from the government, have been lost amidst the gore and gusto of pro and anti-reservationist movements. ‘Shudras’ have been the life and blood of the Indian society for centuries in the past and led the nation to the ‘Golden Era’. They still provide essential services to the whole community in different disciplines. But in exchange, today, they get very little – not even enough to satisfy their basic minimum needs. Reservation made no difference in their lives.

There is no denial to the fact that for centuries, Shudras have been the life and blood of the Indian society. They have been performing certain traditional standardised services for the whole community. In exchange, as usual, even today they get very little – not enough even to satisfy their basic minimum needs. Reservation made no difference in their lives.

Side effects of Reservation policy – Reservations have developed many side affects. Instead of becoming a viable instrument for the upliftment of the submerged section of the society, it has created vested interests of the powerful lobbies of society. It is serving the interest of those people who do not need it any more and making the administrative machinery sick. Giving additional weapon in weak hands is no remedy. First the hands need to be made strong enough to hold and use the weapon properly through awareness of the surroundings, sound education and-training. Then they themselves without any help from an outside agency will pick up the weapon in their hands and protect themselves and others in the society with it. Education alone can make them more knowledgeable in the fields of their works, more laborious and more confident, so that they could earn enough to live with honour and dignity.

Plans needs to be based on real issues – Witnessing the various views and past experience, it becomes clear that instead of reservation, other development measures should be tried after identifying the real issues and actual needs of these people. Downtrodden must be made capable to stand upon their feet and make their due place in the society. Policy of generating confidence and inculcating skills, knowledge, attitude and habits through sound education should be pursued, so that they could be brought to the required intellectual level, do justice to the jobs assigned to them, hold their positions without any complex and live in the society with honour.

Only two ends in Governance, ‘nation, and ‘individual’ – The unity and solidarity of the nation demands that its population should not be divided along the lines of different identities i.e. caste, region, language, religion or base – rural or urban – by giving preference or over- protection to one section or group over the other. As Kaka Kalelkar had suggested, while framing policies, government should recognise only two ends – the individual on the one hand and the nation as a whole on the other. No sectional or communal grouping should be encouraged to flourish itself in between the two, which could undermine the equality, liberty and freedom of the individuals and the solidarity of the nation.

Result-oriented action programmes needed – Issues should be identified rationally and result-oriented action programmes needs to be implemented sincerely as suggested by the Planning Commission, various government departments and voluntary organisations. The backwardness of most of the people is due to poverty, illiteracy and many evils that go with it such as ignorance, superstitions, mal-nutrition, lack of access to shelter, clothing, health, hygiene etc. These problems can never be solved by making policy of reservation as a major remedial measure. Other remedial measures are required for the development, which could produce desired results within time and cost parameters. More stress should now be given to fair distribution of surplus land and other anti poverty programmes, which could benefit a large number of poor people everywhere if honestly pursued.

Reservations as “Disastrous”, “Fatal” and even a “Vicious principle” – Witnessing the various views and past experience, it becomes clear that instead of reservation, some other measures should be tried after identifying the real issues and actual needs of these people. It was not only the first Prime Minister Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, but Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the nation, and Chowdhary Charan Singh, the charismatic leader of backward caste, considered reservations as “Disastrous”, “Fatal” and even a “Vicious principle”.

Positive steps needed to be taken – More than Reservations is needed to the inculcation of concentrate on skills, knowledge, attitude and habits through sound education. It would make weaker sections to stand upon their own feet and to survive without the crutches of Reservations. It would bring backwards to the required intellectual level, make them capable do justice to the jobs and fulfil their responsibility without any complex. It would ultimately generate confidence in them and live in the society with dignity and honour.

Vision of Nehru – The vision of Nehru suggested putting emphasis on education – “The real way to help a backward group is to give opportunities of good education; this includes technical education, which is becoming more and more important. Everything else is provision of some kind of crutches which don’t add to the strength or health of the body. We have recently made two decisions: one is universal free elementary education that is the base and the second is scholarships on a very wide scale at every grade of education to the bright boys and girls and this applies not merely to literary education but much more so, to technical, scientific and medical training. I lay stress on the bright and able boys and girls, because it is only they who will raise our standards.” …. “But if we go in for reservation on communal or caste basis we swamp the bright and able people and remain second rate or third rate.” (Chief Ministers Conference, June 27, 1961,)

Authorities like Shri B.D. Sharma, Commissioner for SC/ST, and many others have also opined that policy of reservations in government jobs has not improved the position of the bulk of SC/ST and CECs. Instead it had further developed many problems.

Winding up
•If India wants to emerge as a strong nation in the world, it should give preference to efficiency, motivation, discipline, tenacity of purpose and will to achieve the desired goals.
•It is not the policy of reservation which is required but a policy of generating confidence in backward caste.
•Stress should be given to basic education.
•No sectional or religious group be allowed grow between the government and the individual.
•Really-deserving individuals needing special attention must be identified by assessing their economic condition without any bias.
•All help, such as free and extra tuition, subsidised and extra nourishment, residential accommodation etc., to overcome their disabilities and to acquire requisite abilities should be provided
•Abilities to shoulder responsibilities at entry point and performance throughout the career should always be given importance.
•In postings and promotions, Standard set should apply equally to all and strictly to all.
•At no time and at no level, the standard should be allowed to deteriorate.
•The method of assessment should be continually honed, so that more meritorious persons could be selected.
•Wages should be enough to enable them to work honestly and live in the society with dignity without clamouring for dishonest money.

In the words of Shri C. Rajgopalachari, which he said long ago that for any system “To be good and efficient as a whole we want right type of men. The quality of men placed in position is more important than laying down rules and methods of operation. The caste consciousness is a hard reality. It unites and divides in a very real manner today whatever be our goal and today is most important in matter of administration. Short sighted favouritism and concessions to produce contentment among classes and castes will be very short-lived and will deteriorate into a constant pondering to intrigues and factions, if we do not look to the real efficiency.”

November 4, 2017 Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | , | Leave a comment

Sardar Patel, Reservations and Socialism

A tribute to Iron man Of India on “Unity day” 31.10.1917

“What the country needs is not parrot like cry of socialism, but unity and strength

Sardar Patel ‘Iron man Of India’- Sardar Patel was an important member of Constituent Assembly, Deputy Prime Minister and the first Home Minister of independent India. He along with Gandhiji, DR. Rajendra Prasad and Nehru captained and pulled the nation out of darkness and stormy times preceding and following the transfer of power.

He was down to earth a realist, a born Kisan and a traditionalist. He was The iron man of India with strong will power, sturdy commonsense, indomitable courage, incorruptible integrity, austere and simple living unlike today’s politicians. He led a life full of suffering and sacrifice. Devotion to duty was the hallmark of his character.[xvii] He was a strict disciplinarian. He was blunt and quite outspoken. He never minced words. He believed more in deeds than in ritualism. Despite  his personal reservations, Patel always gave due respect to Nehru.

With his mature thinking and realism, he handled many gigantic problems and complex state affairs like unification of India within  a very short period, broken law and order machinery at the time of transfer of power, expeditious evacuation of millions of Hindus and Sikhs caught in the Communal holocaust in West Pakistan, or vexatious issue of the division of assets between India and Pakistan, or smooth integration of Indian States by pacifying the Princess of 560 and old princely States.

Integration of India

It goes to the credit of Sardar Patel ‘the  Integration of India out of nearly 560 princely states against all odds immediately after the Independence after the British left India handing over the authority of governing them to the rulers of princely states and giving them freedom to decide, whether they wanted to join India or Pakistan.   The whole world was watching with curiosity the developments and was suspicious about its success to pull on. Visionary Patel along with his team worked tactfully day and night to integrate those princely states into India.

Patel along with his team succeeded in uniting 560 and odd princely states under Government of India in splendid manner and almost within a year. The events of four years from 1947 to 1951 were very hectic, and full of toils anxieties. It was the cooperative efforts of the entire team from top to bottom working with a unity of purpose under the leadership and inspiration of Sardar.

First President of India Rajendra Prasad wrote in May 1959“That there is today an India to think and talk about, is very largely due to Sardar Patel’s statesmanship and firm administration.” His name should be written in gold in Indian history. It is unfortunate that the nation has forgotten/ignored him and his contributions and has shied away from giving him his rightful place.

Sardar’s views on socialism and reservations

Sardar Patel was opposed to the Parrot cry of socialism” and lashed out against socialists for their agitation on an issue, which he considered, was hampering unity and strength of the country. Patel had an apprehension as early as 1934 that borrowed methodology of socialism could be misused to establish fascism.

He is reported to have remarked on 2nd January 1948 at Shillong before a mammoth gathering. “By experience, I am convinced that what is necessary for us is to learn how to produce more wealth (created by ones own labour) and thereafter think what to do with it. What the country needs is not parrot like cry of socialism, but unity and strength”. Patel asked the people to think, why England took a long time to become socialistic and why America made no mention of it even now.

When the original Constitution framed in 1950, the words, “Socialism” or “Socialist democracy” were not mentioned. The word “Socialist” as qualifying the Republic was added in 1975, through 42nd Amendment Act by Indira Gandhi’s government, giving it almost the highest place in the name of equality and Remove PovertyProgram. Since then 42 years have passed.

Some people feel that inserting these terms in the Constitution limits policy choices. Even during debates in Constituent Assembly, the chairman of Drafting Committee Dr. B. R. Ambedkar rejected insertion of the term, ‘socialist’ into preamble – “What should be policy of the state, how the society should be organized in its social and economic side are matters which must be decided by people themselves according to time and circumstances.”

India’s tryst with Socialism –  It is said that, “An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not of an idea, whose time has come”, and “Today’s theory and socio-political structures could be tomorrow’s big mistakes”. Both these, sayings fit well with India’s experiment with the ideology of “Socialism”.After the World War-II, socialism was the wave that swept the entire world. War made almost democratic government to play the role of a guardian, as far as its economy was concerned.

Objectives of Socialism – The principle of “Laissez faire” was the guiding principle of governance during the 19th century. USA became world’s largest economy having highest per capita income rate. Many European States emerged as great imperial powers. After World War I, it turned many countries to totalitarian regimes.  Italy became a fascist nation and Nazism grew in Germany.

Wave in favour of social-justice – World War-I was the turning point. War made every democratic government to play the role of a guardian, as far as its economy was concerned. At that time, it was not only a political or economic ideology, but also a radical philosophical alternative, which assured to create a new integrated, casteless, classless egalitarian society, free of discrimination and inequality.

Socialism was supposed to destroy all inequalities of race, sex, power, position or wealth and to distribute equitably social, material and political resources of the nation. Socialism meant to place in full or in parts means of production and distribution under State’s ownership or control, as against private ownership and free enterprise. It believed in planned development for removing poverty and leading the nation to prosperity. In socialist countries, Government assumes the responsibility of protecting its citizens from the shocks of everyday life from womb to tomb. The first one to opt for totalitarian regime was Soviet Russia. By the time, World War-II was over, socialism was the wave, that swept the entire world.

After Independence in 1947 – As was the trend, in 1947, Socialism and Socialist democracyhave been the buzz words. India could not remain immune from its influence. Many of its political leaders were greatly influenced by the principle of socialism. They, under the leadership of Pundit Nehru were in favour of pursuing policies based on social justice. According to them, in order to achieve a just and equitable socio-economic order and to remove poverty before long, bending towards socialism was necessary.

Unity and strength not “Parrot cry of socialism – However, at that time itself, visionary and able statesman like Sardar Patel lashed out against those, who believed that there could be no justice, unless its economy was based on social economy. Or that freedom was meaningless without economic equality and social justice. He was sure, what the country needs is not “Parrot cry of socialism”, but unity and strength.

Sardar Patel considered socialist propositions purely theoretical and academic, far away from reality. He said, Unlike many, who indulge in ‘Parrot cry of socialism’, I have no property of my own. Before you talk of socialism, you must ask yourself, how much wealth you have created by your labour. If you have created nothing, the parrot would have flown, and the cage would be empty. By experience, I am convinced that what is necessary for us is to learn how to produce more wealth and thereafter, think what to do with it.”

Sardar Patel asked the people to realize why England took a very long time to become socialist and why America made no mention of it even now.

Gandhiji also appreciated socialist leaders desire to bring about improvement in living standard of masses. But advised them first to come together, think what was in the best interest of the country and set people on to constructive work. He told Manu Gandhi on 15th April 1947, Socialism is a term of modern age, but the concept of socialism is not new. Lord Krishna preaches the same doctrine in Gita. One needs to have in one’s possession, only what one requires. It means that all men are created by God and therefore, entitled to an equal share of food, clothing and housing. He said, Socialism will not come by occupying positions of power and by delivering speeches from the platform.

Giving practical advice to do selfless service to the people and to ensure the straightest and quickest way to achieve a socialist order, Gandhiji said, If you wish to establish socialism, there is only one way, in which it can be done. Go and live among the poor in villages, live as they live, be one with village people, work for eight hours daily, use only village made goods and articles even in your personal lives, remove illiteracy among village people. Gandhiji also upbraided the Communist party workers for, Instead of having faith in India and drawing inspiration from its unrivalled culture, you wish to introduce Russian civilization here, as if Russia was your motherland.

Constitution of India and Socialism — In 1950, when the Constitution was framed, the words, Socialism or Socialist democracy were not included in it in order to keep a balance between the views of towering personalities like Gandhi, Patel and Nehru. The Constitution of India only mentioned To secure to all its citizen economic justice and equality of status and opportunity.

The influence of the socialistic principles is visible in the Constitutional directives to the Government to:

  • Provide adequate means of livelihood to all its citizens,
  • Distribute material resources for common good
  • Avoid concentration of wealth and means of production in the hands of a few,
  • Right to work,
  • Equal pay for equal work, to both men and women,
  • Living wages for all workers, protection of workers especially children,
  • Humane conditions of work, and
  • Provide for right to education and public assistance.
  • “Democratic socialism” under Pt. Nehru

Developments on the front of socialism after the death of Sardar Patel – Along with the socialist influence, Pt Nehru, after the death of Sardar Patel, favoured the creation of public sector. It was considered to be a historical need at that time to speed up nation’s development. Because private enterprises neither had the resources, nor the skill, nor inclination to invest heavily in infrastructure, where returns come much later and a huge amount of money locked up without immediate gains. The Government alone had the resources and will to build an infrastructure for development through planned schemes. All industries of basic and strategic importance and those in nature of public utility services were reserved by the Government for the public sector.

Jai Prakash Narayan, a staunch supporter of socialism, at that time, criticized Pandit Nehru’s concept of mixed economy and said, “You are trying to ride two horses, which may be possible in circus, but not in historical evolution. You want to go towards Socialism, but you want Capitalists to help in that. You want to build Socialism with the help of Capitalism. You are bound to fail in that”. Nehru’s concept of mixed economy, in which central planning lived within a kind of free market ex-skeleton, later on developed all the weaknesses of socialism and capitalism, with none of the advantages of either. Under the mixed economy, businessmen and industrialists,who had access to authorities and the authorities, who had the power to give permits and licenses, flourished.

Planned economy – Many plans were developed under planned schemes to transform the backward society into a society of equals in a short time. The original inspiration for planned economy came from the Soviet Union. In short, nations following the path of socialism has made six specific mistakes: –

  • They have adopted an inward looking, import substituting path, rather than an outward looking, export promoting route, thus denying itself the chance to share the world’s prosperity of the 70s and 80s,
  • It has set up a massive, inefficient and monopolistic public sector, to which it denied the autonomy of working,
  • It has over-regulated private enterprise, thus diminished competition in home market,
  • It has discouraged foreign capital and denied itself the benefit of technology and world class market,
  • It has pampered organized labor responsible for lowest productivity of labor and capital, and
  • It has ignored primary education at the cost of higher education

Under Indira Gandhi regime – The word “Socialist” as qualifying the Republic was added in 1975, through 42nd Amendment Act by Indira Gandhi’s government, giving it almost the highest place in the name of equality and “Remove Poverty”.

Failure of socialist policies in solving nation’s problems – Under the leadership of Mrs. Gandhi socialistic plans and policies were followed in such a way, that it had done more damage than good. It developed tentacles of corruption, scams, scandals and callousness in almost every sphere.  It created the politics of appeasement and vote banks, destroyed the work culture, and encouraged separatism everywhere in the society.

Parties used the term ‘Garibi Hatao’ to woo different submerged sections of society like Dalits, tribals, minorities, backward castes, unemployed youths etc and create a large vote bank themselves. Politicians defined and interpreted it in their on own way, and created confusion and division amongst different sections of society. They were not so much interested in tackling the key issues like population explosion, terrorism, unemployment, inflation, jobs especially in the spectrum of slowing economy, law and order, development of educational systems, development of infrastructure for the convenience of public at large. Their main interest lies in creating vote banks.

On the whole, the concept of socialism has created in reality a closed, centralized and unproductive systems. It has suppressed sustainable growth of the nation as a whole. Indian society. In the name of Welfare State and social-justice, the Government acquired extraordinary powers to exercise arbitrary control over massive resources. It centralized the planning, controls and ownership, which led those in authority to abuse of power and “Grab more power” attitude.

Arbitrary State Control – The Government acquired extraordinary powers to exercise arbitrary control over massive resources.  It closed its economy to the world, nationalized industries and services, initiated rigid controls on the private sector and created monopolies in the public sector. An unfettered market system led to grave economic inequalities, which got transformed into political inequalities. It developed tentacles of inefficiency and red tapism, corruption, scams, scandals and callousness in almost every sphere. It did not wipe out poverty, nor created an effective distributive system, nor equality, but it had led almost to the loss of economic liberty.

Demoralizing effect on people, reduced them to the size of pygmies – In the name of socialism, it created a domineering State controlling the smallest detail of the economic and social life of the people. Reduced People to the size of pygmies. Though in theory, sovereignty rested in the people of the nation, they found themselves absolutely helpless. They have been enslaved by politicians, planners and bureaucrats.  It jammed the wheels of morality and conscience. The excessive control made people gradually lose their motivation for hard work.

Divided people into uncompromising compartments – Politics of social-justice has divide people into uncompromising water-tight compartments. And then attempted to woo different sections of society separately like Dalits, tribals, minorities, backward castes, youths, salaried employees in government or public sectors etc.

A large number of politicians are not so much interested in tackling the key issues like population explosion, terrorism, unemployment, inflation, jobs especially in present spectrum of slowing economy, law and order, development of educational systems, development of infrastructure for the convenience of public at large as in creating vote banks.

Opinion of Intelligentsia – A group of intelligentsia regard concept of socialism as good as an ideology, but in real life-situations as one of the most misused terms in present-day political circles.  a major portion of such policies was proved to be the examples of bookish socialism and had little relation to the burning problems of the country. The experience on this front indicated that probably the objective of social justice was unrealistic. It jammed the wheels of morality and conscience.  By 1990, India also realized like many other countries – what it was practicing so far was a phony, fake and tainted social justice.

It created the politics of appeasement and vote banks, destroyed the work culture, and encouraged separatism everywhere in the society. It was realized, though quite late, that Democratic socialism itself is a contradiction in terms, as a socialist society or a planned economy cannot be democratic.  The uneven distribution of economic power and benefits through manipulations of polity had created major distortions and problems for the smooth administration / governance.

Milovan Djilas, a Yugoslavian revolutionary and writer, who predicted the fall of communism and fought both Tito and Stalin, concluded on the basis of his experience, The suppression of classes would be the first step towards the extinction of society… There can be no society without classes. The problem is how to create a balance between the classes, to prevent some from getting rich at the expense of others and to prevent the oppression of one class by another. It must be recognized, however, that it will never be possible to establish an ideal equilibrium among different social classes…The future ideology of the reformist left must not become a barrier to the achievements of capitalism such as efficiency and the profitability of business. The central problem is, how to distribute wealth without disrupting economic activity, while at the same time building a society based on human solidarity…. This idealism should not be confused with the chimera of establishing a society with rigid and permanent forms – I believe the more varied a society is, the better and more creative it will be. There will always be injustice and inequality in the world, which will be the task of the social democrats to combat.

Mr. Paul Johnson, a historian of 20th century says, The more the State grows and impedes the free exercise of market forces, the more the quality of information deteriorates, more likely decisions based on such them would be wrong. A Polish communist Government planner says, In this crazy system, we do not know, the true cost of anything. We do not know which factories are efficient and which are hopeless. So we are continually reinforcing failure and punishing success.

Mr. Subramanyam says, The hypocrisy of socialism developed along with centralization of authority, denigration of democratic institutions and strangulation of Panchayat Raj institutions as part of one integrated political process in the country. J Krishnamurthy said, Working for social welfare is to fill water into a pail that has holes. The more water is poured in it, the more it pours out and the pail remains empty.

The experiences on Socialism along with principle of secularism, equality etc are not very encouraging. The problem of socialism is of performance, not of faith, and the price paid by the nation for this faith has been efficiency and its future prosperity.  It reminds Sardar’s teaching, that need of the hour is hard-work, Unity and strength not “Parrot cry of socialism”

Sardar’s views on the issue of Bureaucracy

After Independence, many national leaders wanted to abolish the bureaucracy after Independence, it was Sardar, who advised them at Bombay in October 1947. he said, We have only a small number of Civil Servants left. Many people say that they are working in their old way. But those, who have experience of administration, know under what circumstances and how much they are working. Outsiders can not appreciate their work. Many of them, loyal workers and patriots are working with us night and day. All that we have been able to achieve, whether it be in the sphere of states or in Kashmir or another theatre, has been possible only because of their loyalty and whole hearted support.” 

Nehru is on record to have said: “But of one thing I am quite sure that no new order can e built up in India, so long as the spirit of ICS pervades our Administrative Public Service.  That spirit of authoritarianism is the ally of imperialism and it cannot coexist with freedom.  It will either succeed in crushing freedom or will be swept away by itself.  Only with one type of State, it is likely to fit in and that is the Fascist type.  Therefore, it seems quite essential that the ICS and similar services must disappear completely, much before we can start real work on a new order.” (Jawarlal Nehru, An Autobiography, London, the Bodley Head, 1953, p.443.)

Sardar Patel, the then Home Minister, however, held an opposite view.  He foresaw the dire necessity of “All India Services” in independent India.  Therefore, he convened a “Provincial Premiers Conference” in October, 1946 to take a decision on All India Services.  While presiding over the Conference, he said: “My own view as I have told you, is that it is not only advisable, but essential, if you want to have an efficient service, to have a Central Administrative Service, in which, we fix the strength as the Provinces would require them and we draw a certain number of officers at the Centre, as we are doing at present.  This will give experience to the personnel at the Centre leading to efficiency and administrative experience of the district, which will give them an opportunity to contact with the people.  They will thus keep themselves in touch with the situation in the country and their practical experience will be most useful to them.  Besides their coming to the Centre will give them a different experience and wider outlook in a larger sphere.  A combination of these two experiences will make the service more efficient.  They will also serve as liaison between the Provinces and the Government and introduce certain amount of freshness and vigor in the administration, both at the Centre and in the Provinces.  Therefore, my advice is that we should have an All India Service.” (Sardar Patel, Proceedings of the Premiers’ Conference, October, 1946).

Again speaking in the Constituent Assembly, he warned: “There is no alternative to this administrative system…The Union will go, you will not have a united India, if you have not a good All India Service, which has the independence to speak out its mind, which has a sense of security that you will stand by your work..   If you do not adopt this course, then do not follow the present Constitution.  Substitute  something else…This Constitution is meant to be worked by a ring of service, which will keep the country intact.  There are many impediments in this constitution, which will hamper us.  But in spite of that, we have in our collective wisdom come to a decision that we shall have this model, which in the ring of a service will be such that will keep, the country intact.. these people are the instrument.  Remove them and I see nothing, but a picture of chaos all round the country.” (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. X, No.3, October 10, 1946.)

Despite the strong arguments put forward by Sardar Patel, it was not an easy job to gain provincial acceptance for the proposed All India Services. Some important national leaders like Nehru, G.B. Pant, etc., and a few states like Punjab, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir were very critical of it.  They preferred to have their own `Superior Services’.  However, All India Services were pushed down their reluctant throats by Vallabhbhai Patel. (The Hindu, October 25, 1946, p. 4.)

The vision of Sardar Patel in continuing this institution proved to be a step in the right direction even after 70 years of independence. The Setalvad team said, “The Indian scene has changed in many ways since then. But in this respect, the change that occurred over the years serves only to confirm all that Sardar Patel said with prophetic insight many years ago. It should be needless to affirm the continued validity of all the objectives underlying the All India Services and yet in a country, in which the Constitutional parts are possessed with pre-emptive desire to assert their separations, such an affirmation is solely needed. The value of a system considered necessary for the administrative unity of the country despite the ubiquity of congress Party rule and found indispensable for securing fair-play and competence in administration, despite the acute awareness of their need in the most potent political figures at a time, when their power was untrammeled and their right ran through the length and breadth of the land, can in the less favourable conditions of today be ignored only at the cost of perilous consequences. Continuity also demands a system which can maintain links in administrative behaviour throughout the country, while political changes visit different States and the Centre.” (ARC,Report of the Study Team on Centre-State Relationship, (Chairman: M.C. Setalvad), Government of India, 1967.)

The ARC also observed, ”Not only do the original considerations for which the All India Services was set up in the beginning hold good even today, but they apply with greater force today and make it necessary that a service structure like the IAS should continue for foreseeable future.” (ARC, Report on Personnel Administration, August 1967, p.61)

B.B. Misra felt concerned at the abolition of other All India Services. He said, “It was the ICS and IP that remained unaffected and continued to act as unifying force. Most of the other All India Services were abolished. Considerations of national unity, the positive need of India’s all round development and the attainment of a minimum uniform standard in administration were allowed to go by default.”46 Thoughts of Misra read with the analysis brought out under sub-title, “The Need for Additional All India Services”. Leads to the conclusion that the country has erred in not allowing continuation of All India Services in other areas of national interest. However, as the saying goes “It is better to be late than never”, it is time that a beginning is made to set up All India Services for Health, Water, Power, Education and Judiciary, immediately. This should not be a difficult task as the Rajya Sabha has already passed a resolution to that effect, at least for Health, Water and Power, and it can always pass a bill for other two remaining subjects, viz., education and Judiciary.”(B.B. Misra, Administrative History of India, 1834-1947: General Administration, London, Oxford University Press, 1970, p.143.)

On the eve of Independence, when the entire administration exhibited the signs of wear and tear, Sardar Patel had warned the nation, India is passing through the most critical and troubled days of her long and checkered history and strong, efficient, experienced broad minded administrators were badly required at that hour to save the nation from the impending crisis . Today, 70 years after the independence, position is the same, because of vote-bank policy, caste-based reservations and politics of vendetta. Nation again shows the signs of wear and tear. It is good to remember today Sardar Patel’s views on important issues and contributions to the nation and pay attention to what he had said 70 years ago.

October 31, 2017 Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | | Leave a comment

Reservation Policy and social-Justice

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Introduction

Controversies over  ‘social-justice’, ‘Reservations’ and ‘Secularism’ keep on  sparking now and then, especially during pre-elections days. In recent past during campaign for Bihar Assembly  elections, political parties  drifted from development agenda and focused their attention to ensure social justice through reservations. Now in Gujrat, where Assembly elections are due on during in November, Hardik Patel, advocating the reservations for Pattidar Community (population of about 20%) is bargaining with major political parties on reservations for Pattidars. He says that to ensure “equal opportunities, distribution of wealth and socio-economic privileges” to SC/ST and OBCs, caste-based reservations is a must. For many political leaders, the only way to uplift and safe-guard the  interests of underprivileged castes or ‘so-called backward castes” is  fixing quotas in education, employment, and in different welfare schemes and subsidies plans. Political parties have forgotten the theme for sustainable development of all , ‘Sabka saath, sab ka vikaas.’

A few days back, some people showed resentment for the words  not being mentioned in a Modi Government’s advertisement published on the event of 66th Republic day. To defend it, the government clarified that these two terms were inserted in the preamble later on. The word “Socialist” as qualifying the Republic was added in 1975, through 42nd Amendment Act by Indira Gandhi’s government, giving it almost the highest place in the name of equality and Remove PovertyProgram.

Issue – When the Constitution was framed in 1950, the words, “Socialism” or “Socialist democracy” were not there in the Preamble of the Constitution.  The word “Socialist” as qualifying the Republic was added in 1975, through 42nd Amendment Act by Indira Gandhi’s government, giving it almost the highest place in the name of equality and Remove PovertyProgram. Question arises – Why? Since then 35 years have passed. Time has come to assess, how much has India achieved since then in removing the poverty? If not much, then why?

Some people feel that inserting these terms in the Constitution limits policy choices. Even during debates in Constituent Assembly, the chairman of Drafting Committee Dr. B. R. Ambedkar rejected insertion of the term, ‘socialist’ in to Preamble – “What should be policy of the state, how the society should be organized in its social and economic side are matters which must be decided by people themselves according to time and circumstances.”

India’s tryst with Socialism –  It is said that, “An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not of an idea, whose time has come”, and “Today’s theory and socio-political structures could be tomorrow’s big mistakes”. Both these, sayings fit well with India’s experiment with the ideology of “Socialism”.

In Indian society, in general there was not a feeling of apathy towards any religion or people belonging to other faiths. That is why all the major religions of the world existed here since time immemorial. People believed in the oneness of human society. As a rule, rulers did not imposed their personal faiths on their subjects.the tradition of religious freedom and religious accommodation was firmly established in its culture.

Religious intolerance was seen in India after the pronounced antipathy towards other religious faiths existing here in India. Through forced conversions, Muslims tried to expand their community during the period  AD 1000-AD 1757. Many Hindu temples and images were destroyed. It led to resentment and disharmony in Indian society and widened the gulf between Hindu (majority community) and Muslims (politically powerful as rulers). Still both the communities lived side by side for almost seven hundred years.They contributed to each-other’s culture. Many local customs amongst them are common. But their religious rigidity continued. Animosity amongst them grew to the extent that it led to the partition of India into – India and Pakistan in 1947.

Then, British came to India first as traders. Later on, became its rulers until World War II. It was in 1947 that India gained its Independence. The fundamentalist attitude of Muslims in accepting Modern Education system isolated them. It became one of the reason for their high rate of illiteracy and backwardness even today.

After the World War-II, socialism was the wave that swept the entire world. War made almost democratic government to play the role of a guardian, as far as its economy was concerned.

Objectives of Socialism

The principle of “Laissez faire” was the guiding principle of governance during the 19th century. USA became world’s largest economy having highest per capita income rate. Many European States emerged as great imperial powers. After World War I, it turned many countries to totalitarian regimes. World War-I was the turning point. The first one to opt for totalitarian regime was Soviet Russia. Italy became a fascist nation and Nazism grew in Germany.

By the time, World War-II was over, socialism was the wave, that swept the entire world. War made every democratic government to play the role of a guardian, as far as its economy was concerned. At that time, it was not only a political or economic ideology, but also a radical philosophical alternative, which assured to create a new integrated, caste-less, classless egalitarian society, free of discrimination and inequality.

Socialism was supposed to destroy all inequalities of race, sex, power, position or wealth and to distribute equitably social, material and political resources of the nation. Socialism meant to place in full or in parts means of production and distribution under State’s ownership or control, as against private ownership and free enterprise. It believed in planned development for removing poverty and leading the nation to prosperity. In socialist countries, Government assumes the responsibility of protecting its citizens from the shocks of every day life from womb to tomb..

After Independence in 1947,

As was the trend, in 1947, Socialism and Socialist democracyhave been the buzz words. India could not remain immune from its influence. Many of its political leaders were greatly influenced by the principle of socialism.

Many leaders of free India, under the leadership of Pundit Nehru were very much in favour of pursuing policies based on social justice. According to them, in order to achieve a just and equitable socio-economic order and to remove poverty before long, bending towards socialism is necessary.

However, at that time itself, visionary and able statesman like Sardar Patel lashed out against those, who believed that there could be no justice, unless its economy was based on social economy. Or that freedom was meaningless without economic equality and social justice. He was sure, what the country needs is not “Parrot cry of socialism”, but unity and strength.

Unity and strength not “Parrot cry of socialism

Sardar Patel considered socialist propositions purely theoretical and academic, far away from reality. He said, Unlike many, who indulge in ‘Parrot cry of socialism’, I have no property of my own. Before you talk of socialism, you must ask yourself, how much wealth you have created by your labour. If you have created nothing, the parrot would have flown, and the cage would be empty. By experience, I am convinced that what is necessary for us is to learn how to produce more wealth and thereafter, think what to do with it.”

Sardar Patel asked the people to realize why England took a very long time to become socialist and why America made no mention of it even now.

Gandhiji appreciated socialist leaders desire to bring about equality of living standard in society. But advised them first to come together, think what was in the best interest of the country and set people on to constructive work. He told Manu Gandhi on 15th April 1947, Socialism is a term of modern age, but the concept of socialism is not new. Lord Krishna preaches the same doctrine in Gita. One needs to have in one’s possession, only what one requires. It means that all men are created by God and therefore, entitled to an equal share of food, clothing and housing. He said, Socialism will not come by occupying positions of power and by delivering speeches from the platform.

Giving practical advice to do selfless service to the people and to ensure the straightest and quickest way to achieve a socialist order, Gandhiji said, If you wish to establish socialism, there is only one way, in which it can be done. Go and live among the poor in villages, live as they live, be one with village people, work for eight hours daily, use only village made goods and articles even in your personal lives, remove illiteracy among village people. Gandhiji also upbraided the Communist party workers for, Instead of having faith in India and drawing inspiration from its unrivalled culture, you wish to introduce Russian civilization here, as if Russia was your motherland.

Constitution of India and Socialism

In 1950, when the Constitution was framed, the words, Socialism or Socialist democracy were not included in it in order to keep a balance between the views of towering personalities like Gandhi, Nehru and Patel. The Constitution of India only mentioned To secure to all its citizen economic justice and equality of status and opportunity.

The influence of the socialistic principles is visible in the Constitutional directive to the Government to:

  • Provide adequate means of livelihood to all its citizens,
  • Distribute material resources for common good
  • Avoid concentration of wealth and means of production in the hands of a few,
  • Right to work,
  • Equal pay for equal work, to both men and women,
  • Living wages for all workers, protection of workers especially children,
  • Humane conditions of work, and
  • Provide for right to education and public assistance.

“Democratic socialism” under Pt. Nehru – It was after the death of Sardar Patel that Congress Government bent heavily towards socialist policies. It declared its goal in the form of “Socialistic pattern of society” and subsequently “Democratic socialism” under Nehru’s leadership. Pandit Nehru was convinced, “Political democracy should inevitably lead up to economic democracy. Even in the countries, which are supposed to be highly capitalist, the tendency to economic democracy is obvious. The tendency in other words, is towards some form of socialism.” Many policies to build required infra-structure for the development of the nation and welfare schemes and subsidies were declared for the poor.

Creation of Public Sector

Along with the socialist influence, Pt Nehru favoured the creation of public sector. It was a historical need at that time to speed up nation’s development. Private enterprises neither had the resources, nor the skill, nor inclination to invest heavily in infra-structure, where returns come much later and a huge amount of money locked up without immediate gains. The Government alone had the resources and will to build an infrastructure for development through planned schemes. All industries of basic and strategic importance and those in nature of public utility services were reserved by the Government for the public sector.

Jai Prakash Narayan, a staunch supporter of socialism, criticized Pandit Nehru’s concept of mixed economy and said, “You are trying to ride two horses, which may be possible in circus, but not in historical evolution. You want to go towards Socialism, but you want Capitalists to help in that. You want to build Socialism with the help of Capitalism. You are bound to fail in that”. Nehru’s concept of mixed economy, in which central planning lived within a kind of free market ex-skeleton, later on developed all the weaknesses of socialism and capitalism, with none of the advantages of either. Under the mixed economy, the authorities, who had the power to give permits and licenses, .the businessmen and the industrialist, flourished.

Planned economy

Many plans were developed under planned schemes to transform the backward society into a society of equals in a short time. The original inspiration for planned economy came from the Soviet Union.

Under Indira Gandhi

The word “Socialist” as qualifying the Republic was added in 1975, through 42nd Amendment Act by Indira Gandhi’s government, giving it almost the highest place in the name of equality and “Remove Poverty”.

Politicians defined and interpreted it in their on own way, which created confusion amongst people and divided the people. A large number of politicians are not much interested in tackling the key issues like population explosion, terrorism, unemployment, inflation, jobs especially in present spectrum of slowing economy, law and order, development of educational systems, development of infrastructure for the convenience of public at large. Their main interest lies in creating vote banks.

Parties use it to woo different sections of society like Dalits, tribals, minorities, backward castes, youths, salaried employees in government or public sectors etc.

Under the leadership of Mrs. Gandhi socialistic plans and policies were followed in such a way, that it had done more damage than good. It created a closed, centralized and unproductive system, which suppressed growth. In the name of Welfare State, the Government acquired extraordinary powers to exercise arbitrary control over massive resources. It centralized the planning, controls and ownership, which led those in authority to abuse of power and “Grab more power” attitude.

On the whole, it created a closed, centralized and unproductive system, which suppressed growth of the nation as a whole.

Success of socialist policies in solving nation’s problems

The policy, in real-life situations had done more damage than good. It developed tentacles of corruption, scams, scandals and callousness in almost every sphere.

Arbitrary State Control

The Government acquired extraordinary powers to exercise arbitrary control over massive resources. It created a domineering State controlling the smallest detail of the economic and social life of the people. It closed its economy to the world, nationalized industries and services, initiated rigid controls on the private sector and created monopolies in the public sector.

An unfettered market system led to grave economic inequalities, which got transformed into political inequalities. It developed tentacles of inefficiency and red-tape-ism, corruption, scams, scandals and callousness in almost every sphere. It created the politics of appeasement and vote banks, destroyed the work culture, and encouraged separatism everywhere in the society.

Demoralizing effect on people, made them pigmies

In the name of socialism, it created a domineering State controlling the smallest detail of the economic and social life of the people. People were made pigmies. Though in theory, sovereignty rests in the people of the nation, they find themselves absolutely helpless. They have been enslaved by politicians, planners and bureaucrats. It did not wipe out poverty, nor created an effective distributive system, nor equality, but it had led almost to the loss of economic liberty. It jammed the wheels of morality and conscience. The excessive control made people gradually loose their motivation for hard work.

Divided people into uncompromising compartments

Politicians define and interpret it in their on own way to create confusion amongst people and divide them into uncompromising compartments. Parties use it to woo different sections of society like Dalits, tribals, minorities, backward castes, youths, salaried employees in government or public sectors etc.

Effect on politicians

Some people regard it as one of the most misused terms in present-day political circles. It created the politics of appeasement and vote banks, destroyed the work culture, and encouraged separatism everywhere in the society. It jammed the wheels of morality and conscience.

A large number of politicians are not so much interested in tackling the key issues like population explosion, terrorism, unemployment, inflation, jobs especially in present spectrum of slowing economy, law and order, development of educational systems, development of infrastructure for the convenience of public at large as in creating vote banks.

In short

In short, the nation had made six specific mistakes: –

  •  It adopted an inward looking, import substituting path, rather than an outward looking, export promoting route, thus denying itself the chance to share the world’s prosperity of the 70s and 80s.
  • It set up a massive, inefficient and monopolistic public sector, to which it denied the autonomy of working,
  • It over-regulated private enterprise, thus diminished competition in home market,
  • It discouraged foreign capital and denied itself the benefit of technology and world class market,
  • It pampered organized labor responsible for lowest productivity of labor and capital, and
  • It ignored primary education at the cost of higher education

Opinion of Intelligentsia

In retrospect people realized that a major portion of such policies was proved to be the examples of bookish socialism and had little relation to the burning problems of the country. By 1990, India also realized like many other countries – what it was practicing so far was a phony, fake and tainted social justice.

It was realized, though late, that Democratic socialism itself is a contradiction in terms, as a socialist society or a planned economy cannot be democratic. The experience on this front indicated that probably the objective of social justice was unrealistic. The uneven distribution of economic power and benefits through manipulations of polity had created major distortions and problems for the smooth administration / governance.

Milovan Djilas, a Yugoslavian revolutionary and writer, who predicted the fall of communism and fought both Tito and Stalin, concluded on the basis of his experience, The suppression of classes would be the first step towards the extinction of society… There can be no society without classes. The problem is how to create a balance between the classes, to prevent some from getting rich at the expense of others and to prevent the oppression of one class by another. It must be recognized, however, that it will never be possible to establish an ideal equilibrium among different social classes…The future ideology of the reformist left must not become a barrier to the achievements of capitalism such as efficiency and the profitability of business. The central problem is, how to distribute wealth without disrupting economic activity, while at the same time building a society based on human solidarity…. This idealism should not be confused with the chimera of establishing a society with rigid and permanent forms – I believe the more varied a society is, the better and more creative it will be. There will always be injustice and inequality in the world, which will be the task of the social democrats to combat.

Mr. Paul Johnson, a historian of 20th century says, The more the State grows and impedes the free exercise of market forces, the more the quality of information deteriorates, more likely decisions based on such them would be wrong. A Polish communist Government planner says, In this crazy system, we do not know, the true cost of anything. We do not know which factories are efficient and which are hopeless. So we are continually reinforcing failure and punishing success.

Mr. Subramanyam says, The hypocrisy of socialism developed along with centralization of authority, denigration of democratic institutions and strangulation of Panchayat Raj institutions as part of one integrated political process in the country. J Krishnamurthy said, Working for social welfare is to fill water into a pail that has holes. The more water is poured in it, the more it pours out and the pail remains empty.

The experiences on Socialism along with principle of secularism, equality etc are not very encouraging. Probably the objective of social justice to some extent is unrealistic.

The problem of socialism is of performance, not of faith, and the price paid by the nation for this faith has been efficiency and its future prosperity.

October 31, 2017 Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | | Leave a comment

Reservations giving rise to inter-castes and intra-castes rivalries

“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”   Abraham Lincoln

Introduction – Anybody has a right to criticize the the original social caste system, who has the capability to help or improve the system. Bringing caste into political arena via Reservation policy has done a great damage to the Indian society. It has increased tremendously inter-castes and intra-caste rivalries. Classification of society into Upper Castes/Caste Hindus, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Castes and Minorities for political purpose/reservations has done a harm to the whole of Indian society. Such a development created social disorder. It has also made the task of governance difficult. It has also made it almost difficult for real and sustainable development of all poor and deprived persons. In the opinion of MSS Pandian, an academic with Madras Institute of Development Studies, the current inter caste rivalries are part of a series of periodic revolt, whose prime object is self assertion.

About Caste – Each caste is a conglomeration of sub-castes and sub-sub-castes. Indian society has officially been classified into Caste Hindus, Backwards, SCs, STs and minorities for purposes of Reservations and other preferential measures. Different castes bearing the same caste tag i.e. SC, ST, OBC etc  have joined hands superficially in political arena to become a powerful pressure ground. With the increase in their numerical strength though only on periphery under the banner of SC or Backwards, they have become more vocal, and are forcing the government to accept their sectional demands.

Unity of different groups an illusion – But the unity of backward castes on surface under the label of Dalitsor “OBC” is an illusion created by vested interests. The term Schedule caste”, nor OBC nor Dalit makes them a homogenous class. None of them has ever forgotten their separate identities. This has increased the in-fights between different categories and between different groups in each category.

At present, forward castes doubt that they are being treated as second rate citizens in their own country, because they are scattered, while other categories are united, well organised and have the advantage of their numerical strength. In such an atmosphere, it is easy for the state authorities to withdraw opportunities from upper castes and bestow it on Backward castes; not necessarily a real disadvantaged group.

How practice of reservation started? – The Reservation policy initially originated and was practiced in the provinces of India. Informally, the Reservation for Backward Classes began in 1874 in the province of Mysore and gradually spread over other provinces as well.

During the late Nineteenth and the beginning of the Twentieth Century, during the British rule, the idea of Communal Representation entered into the minds British rulers. Quotas were fixed for first backward classes and minorities (Muslims and Anglo-Indians) in Government services/Civil Services, educational institutions and electoral politics.. However, British gave importance to communal representation along with merit in the matter of recruitment in Provincial Civil Services.

Started with the purpose to restrict Brahmins domination in Government jobs, it traveled a long distance. It spread from Government jobs to educational field too, in order to prepare non-Brahmins for Government jobs. After Independence, a major change came in the terms of Reservation Policy. From provincial level, it entered into national level, as well.

British rulers divided the Indian society into five compartments in order to divide the Indian society and prolong their rule in India as long as possible. The demand for Reservation started with the rise of agitation in the minds of influential non-brahmins, living in Southern parts of India, against Brahmins. British Government had introduced modern education in India  in 1834. Also it made knowledge of English compulsory for getting jobs in governments. Brahmins, who had long tradition of learning, opted for getting modern education with the purpose of earning their living respectfully. In a very short time, they were far ahead of non-brahmins in occupying almost all the places in modern callings/occupations. 

In an attempt to get more space in the administration, influential non-brahmins succeeded in forcing the British government to divide the Indian society officially into Brahmins and Non Brahmins (‘Upper Castes’ and ‘backward castes’), and then backward castes into ‘Other Backward Castes’ and ‘Untouchables. British government  started the practice of giving preferential treatment to some sections of society in matter of providing admissions in educational institutions and jobs’. 

But many people wonder why after independence, Government of India accepted and continued  this division of society made by British Rulers. British rulers had knitted a very strong web for the Indian leaders and  trapped completely their mindset after the Independence. It was only after the Independence that Reservation Policy flourished and was acknowledged as unavoidable for uplifting downtrodden and was introduced at national and provincial levels separately. With the passage of time, this  feeling became stronger and stronger.

Provinces on the basis of their experience on reservation can be grouped as under :-    

Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Maharashtra, known as Peninsular states, have a long history of backward class movement and Reservations. These states have declared a major segment of their population as Backwards and offered them a wide range of benefit.

Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, MP, Tripura, W.Bengal had no list of the OBCs. They did not take any separate action for their uplift during pre-Mandal era.

States like Assam and Pondicherry offered only some educational Reservations during pre-Mandal era.

Rajasthan, Orissa and Delhi also offered educational concessions, but not Reservations earlier.

Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, MP, J and K, Punjab and UP used Reservations along with moderate concessions. In these states Reservations led to protests and agitation, from time to time..

Apart from continuing the preferential treatment to some sections of society, the Indian government  thought of many other schemes to uplift the downtrodden like legislating laws to ensure, uplift and protect the unfortunate and poor (such as 73rd Amendment Act); or providing free ‘education to all’ in government schools etc.

Politics of revenge – After the government implemented Mandal Commission recommendations in 1990, agitation against each other has engulfed the whole nation. It gave birth to ‘politics of revenge’. Anyone doubting the efficacy of Reservation Policy is labeled as a part of Manuwadi Brahminical system, which has for ages used religious scriptures, injunctions, propaganda and plain force to impose on masses its will and many deprivations. The politics of revenge makes people irrational, and the authorities to opt for reverse discrimination.

Along with OBC, the post Mandal era has witnessed Dalit assertion and a massive shift in power in favour of Dalits as well. With the caste equation hardening, Dalit groups got united. They have come together and are fighting for their rights. Earlier they allowed OBCs to exploit them, now they resent it. Todays’ Dalits are aggressive and militant enough to take the OBCs head on. OBCs are getting it back with the rise of Dalit reprisal attacks, which often results in heavy loss of life and property on both the sides. Dalit militancy is increasing with the rise of new militant outfits like BSP, Devendrakula Vellalar Federation, Thyagi Immanual Paravai, Dalit Panthers of India etc.

The striking feature of New Dalit militancy is their utter disregard for the present set up and their attempt to capture political power. Dalit leaders are pursuing Dalit empowerment with vengeance. 

Intra-castes rivalries – Not only are there inter caste rivalries but intra-caste rivalries exist as well.  It is not that forward castes, SCs, STs and OBCs are rivals of each other. Many emerging castes within each political group are fighting against each other for power  Every caste has both, rich and poor or strong and weak people. Rich and empowered amongst them not only oppress castes lower to it, but also poorer persons of its own caste. Amongst intermediate castes – Jats, Yadavs, Koeries are fighting with each other for power.

Attempt of each political party to woo the same Dalit, OBC or minority group has increased further intra-caste rivalries. In order to be one up each party tries to please different castes within each group by taking up different sectional issues. Each powerful caste now acts independently during elections and seeks political alliance before and after election with other caste groups. Post-election alliances, in an attempt to secure a majority, have escalated more the inter-caste and intra-caste rivalries.

Animosity between OBCs and Dalits – Backwards castes and Dalits do not have much in common among them, except for their hatred for the caste Hindus, especially Brahmins. Intermediate castes (OBCs) have always aligned themselves with power. Earlier in the social sphere, they were the right hand of forward castes. Most of upper castes are non-militant and passive by nature. Instead of confrontation, they look for other avenues. They could not exert force on the lower strata. On behalf of them, it was always the intermediate castes, that exerted force on  lower castes.

Currently, to displace forward castes and to retain their Reservation benefits, backward castes have joined hands with Dalits, in whose favour the wind is blowing. While Dalits are in conflict with OBCs at social level, but in politics, they have no option, but to support them to achieve their mission to change the power equation.

WInd blowing in favour of Dalits and Backwards – A huge social churning is going on the margins of the society. The main fight is for land, jobs, education and other opportunities to ensure security and progress. This fight is moving from the margins to center stage of Indian politics. There is not much in common between a BC landless agricultural laborer and OBC landowner. Very often, rudeness of OBC towards BC is the main cause of social tension in rural India. In rural areas the fight is between poor people – marginal and marginalized. Poor OBCs with a bit of land and some degree of political protection infuriated poorer Dalits, who neither have land, nor education, nor political power. In urban areas the fight is for property and jobs. 

Too much assertiveness of Dalit and backward leaders has already created growing confrontation between the lowest and wide variety of intermediate castes in various parts of the country – Dalits Vs Marathas in Maharashtra, Dalits Vs Yadavs in UP and Bihar or Dalits Vs Thevars in Tamil Nadu.

Caste-Hindus, even Brahmins have been more considerate to an untouchable than intermediate caste such as rich Jat, Maratha, Reddy, or Patel etc. In the post-Mandal era, the intermediate castes have become very strong economically and politically. They own big farmland and employ landless tillers for farming. Their numerical strength gave them the political power in addition to landed property. The economic and political strength made OBCs to exploit ‘have-nots’.

Winding up

Position of Forward castes in post-Mandal era – The animosity of Backward castes and Dalits has tended the forward castes, in post-Mandal era, to withdraw themselves from active politics and bureaucracy. Liberalization and globalization plus good educational background have opened up a new vistas for them. They either join private sector or multi-national companies or go abroad in search of greener pastures. Information technology or software industry is full of such people. The private sector takes good care of them.

The advancement of upper castes again breeds inter-caste jealousy. But instead of working hard and concentrating their efforts for getting good education and skill training, the beneficiaries of Reservations want to continue for ever and more and more castes are clamouring/agitating to be included in the list beneficiary of Reservation.

October 30, 2017 Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | | Leave a comment