Latasinha’s Weblog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Resume of Dr. Lata Sinha

At present

Permanent member of AIWC since 1978 –  an NGO working for education, enlightenment and empowerment of women since 1927.

Member-in-charge A.I.W.C. from 2013 to March 2017. Edited and published five Newsletters for AIWC, which were circulated all over India – the branches of AIWC and concerned Government Officials.

Managing Trustee of ‘Bhagwati Dayal Scholarship fund Trust (private) from1977 to 2000. It gives financial help to about 40-50 poor Kayastha students, widows, and poor students taking up professional courses irrespective of caste or creed.

Participation in International Conferences

  • 2013 – Attended Conference organized by International Women’s League, held in Lincoln Hall, London.
  • 2014 –UN/CSW 59 – In New York
  • 1992 – Triennial Conference of International University Women’s Association, held at Stanford University, USA. Invited as Workshop Leader on “Role of Home-wives in Nation-building”.
  • 1978-1979 – Annual Extension Lectures Certificate on cotemporary international issues, Organized by JNU School of International Studies

6 Research Experience

  • 1989-98 – Part-time Research Associate (University Grants Commission, India) for post-doctoral work on the theme “Reservations in India administrative Service”. Under the supervision of Dr. R.B Jain, then the head of the Department, Political Science, Delhi University, Delhi.
  • 1978 to 1986 – For Ph.D. in political Science from Allahabad University in on “Education and training of higher civil services”, under the guidance of Dr. H. M. Jain, then the head of the department of Political science Department, Allahabad, University.
  • 1975 – Fellow, Indian Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies, prepared research paper on ‘Judicial Review and 42nd Amendment act,( written during Emergency period, declared by Indira Gandhi’s Government in 1975) under the supervision of Retired Law Secretary to Government of India (An ICS officer)
  • 1975 – Research paper on “Civil Services in India” for Diploma certificate, awarded by Indian Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies.

8, Award-winning Essays

  • !972 – “Democratic Values and Indian Society” by Indian Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs,
  • 1992 – “Role and Rationale of All India Service” in1992 by Indian Institute of Public Administration, and
  • 1992 – “Reservation Policy (Affirmative Action Program) in India” by Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Society.
  • 1991 – ‘Role of Housewives in Nation-Building’ selected by Geneva office of ‘Federation of International University Women’.
  1. Academic qualifications
  • 1988 –  (Top-position in 1988 batch of 40 students) Post-graduate Diploma Certificate in translation, New Delhi Evening Institute of Delhi. Organized by Bharti Vidya Bhavan in Translation,
  • 1986 – Ph. D., Allahabad University, India.
  • 1963 – Post-graduation in Political Science from Allahabad University
  • 1961 – Bachelor’s degree (Political Science, Hindi Literature and Vocal Music) from Allahabad University.

May 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Weaknesses of Indian bureaucracy

 Introduction 

“For the forms of government, let fools contest.

That which is best administered is best.”

   “But what is best must free man still decide.

Lest leaders gull them and officials ride.” Finer

And also

“Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pigmies.” V. Hon0re De Balzac

British Government the institution  bequeathed to India – The institution of civil services in India is the oldest and most wonderful institution the British Government had bequeathed to India. British rule had evolved the institution of civil service as an efficient, professional and to a great degree incorruptible organization. It was popularly known as ‘‘the Steel Frame’ of British administrative structure”, Fortunately India, along with Pakistan, has inherited from the past, a unique administrative system, which knows, what these strategic posts are and who are the persons to hold them.

Thousands of employees in Administrative set-up – Government of India employs up (civil services/bureaucracy) from almost all vocations, occupations and professions. Government makes all feasible administrative, organizational and working atmosphere arrangements for its employees. The administrative system is vertically and horizontally divided in order to meet the differing requirements and emerging developmental tasks.

The higher civil service is one of very important government institutions for solving nation’s problems. The more the problems, better equipped the civil service should be to face the challenges and meet new demands.   Not only that new responsibilities are being continuously, added to the traditional tasks of the civil services, knowledge in this space age, has been growing faster than ability of the services to handle it. Therefore, it is a must to select the best talents in the bureaucracy and equip them properly by imparting new knowledge and new skills and to inculcate new attitudes in the civil services through a well-planned and systematic arrangement of education and training.

Best talents –  Officers of  civil services of government of India are selected by UPSC through a competitive Combined All India/Civil Services examination every year.  It is one of the toughest entrance examinations. In order to employ best talents in the services, every year UPSC conducts a common civil services examination (CSE) for to select personnel for many services under government of India like Indian Administrative Service (IAS), as well as for other non-IAS services like IFS, IPS and other central services for different departments like Revenue, Railways, Audit and accounts Services, civil services and Police Service for Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli , Pondicherry.

For civil services examination 2015, 9.41 lakh students registered, out of which 4.6 took preliminary test. Of it 15,008 (+1415 for Indian Forest Service Exam.) 3,308 were further shortlisted for personality test. Finally 1,236 (3.5% candidates)were appointed to the 24 services that come under Civil Services.

IAS propped up as the Elite service – During British rule, ICS was propped up as an elite service. Its officers in their early twenties would arrive to India after being trained at Cambridge or Oxford to rule single-handedly a district half as big as Wales. They were responsible for maintaining law and order and revenue collection.

Now IAS officers have wide-ranging authority in districts as collectors. and at centre as policy-makers. They have-

  • Have easy accesses to levers of power.
  • Are symbol of power – dealing directly with Ministers at centre and provinces.
  • Have smoothest career-progressions. And
  • Occupy almost all senior-most posts at centre and States.

Issue

One wonders why the steel-frame of yesteryears has failed to do its job effectively and judiciously, despite having a constitutional status with enough powers to perform their duties freely and frankly. Inefficient and ineffective performance of Bureaucracy/civil services by and large has affected the lives of millions of people. Now sarcastically, people call bureaucracy as ‘babudom’ and bureaucrats as ‘Glorified Babus’.

Why does not bureaucracy take a stand against the unjust dictates of political leaders or corrupt senior officers, who stops them from doing their jobs judiciously? Why and how civil services in India got derailed is a point to ponder. What were the reasons behind ineffective and inefficient performance needs to be analysed.

ICS, the “Steel-frame of governance” during British rule  – “It always puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers, namely how barely a thousand British ICS (Indian Civil Service) personnel managed to rule both British India and the princely states with a combined population of well over 300 million during the first part of the twentieth century. Very few statesmen, from Bismarck to Theodore Roosevelt, doubted the quality of British rule, and, in a fascinating episode, when Subhas Chandra Bose, the leader of the rebel Indian National Army, flew to Berlin during the Second World War to solicit help from Hitler, the Fuehrer dismissed him, taking the view that Indians needed “to be civilized by another hundred years of British rule.” “How was the Indian Empire administered with such apparent zeal, efficiency, high-mindedness and impartiality?

“Gilmour comes to the sensible conclusion that the men of the ICS displayed a mixture of motives, skills and temperaments. A number of individuals were ‘coming to the institution through stiff competition, not the other way round’. Often a District officer in his early twenties would arrive fresh from his ICS training at Oxford to rule single-handedly a district half as big as Wales. The wide ranging responsibilities of the District Officers of the ICS were responsible for almost everything.

Structure of the civil service – The structure of the service started from the District Officers to the Magistrates, Residents, Political Agents, Deputy Collectors, Lieutenant Governors, and so on. (From Rup Narain Das, titled ‘Marx and 1857’, published in TOI, P.22, 16.5.07, excerpts quoted from an article of Gilmour on Marx, June July 15, 1857 in New York Daily Tribune as a leading article)

The ICS – ICS (Indian Civil Service) called ‘steel-frame of administration’  Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister in his historic “Steel-frame” speech, said it very clearly on Aug.2, 1922 in the House of Commons that British civil servants were the very basis of the Empire in India and so he could not imagine any period, when they could dispense with the guidance and assistance of a small nucleus of the British civil servants. He said, “I do not care, what you build on it, if you take that Steel-frame out of the fabric, it will collapse. There is only one institution, we will not cripple, there is one institution, and we will not deprive of its functions or of its privileges and that is that institution, which build up the British Raj – the British Civil Service in India.”

What made ICS so strong and efficient?  – What made ICS was strong enough to rear and sustain British rule in India for such a long time? Some of the reasons were as  was because –

  • Family background – Most of them belonged to British professional middle classes.
  • Educational background – They had made smooth progression from school to Oxford or Cambridge.
  • Sense of responsibility – The ICS, whatever its complexion might have been, had developed traditions of independence, integrity, and hard work. They had deep sense of responsibility. However, these qualities served mainly the British rulers and not so much the Indian masses. They had full freedom and opportunity to do something worthwhile.
  • Work atmosphere – So far as it did not jeopardized the Imperial interests, ICS officers thought it their duty and took it as a challenge to provide, “Care, protection and guidance” ultimately liberty to the people, they ruled (Times of India, August 10, 1997, p2). Mr. Lines, an ex- ICS officer, said, “I suppose, we thought of a simple Indian villager… Here are simple people, who need leadership.” Mr. Arthur, another ex ICS officer, said, “Their attitude, certainly was paternalistic, which was necessary in a colonial administration.”
  • Bright career prospects – Extremely generous salaries and quick promotions.
  • Slim and trim service – just over a thousand at any given time – made for a strong sense of service loyalty.
  • Esprit-de’-corps – Philip Maser said that there was esprit-de’-corps amongst the officers. Lines pointed out, “It is the Esprit de’corps, which served to enforce a strong moral code.” It did not need to be articulated. Every body knew it.
  • Honesty – Clive Dewey said that the historical evidence pointed out to only a minute handful of officers being corrupt. It was partially their salaries, partly their background, partly their sense of duty and partly ivory tower, in which they lived, which made any rumors extremely uncomfortable (Dr. Clive Dewey, Anglo Indian attitudes, 1993).

Balance of Power – Illbert Bill controversy indicates that White bureaucrats were not at all prepared to share administrative powers with Indians, in spite of all the official declarations of 1833, 1858, 1861, 1892 and 1909.  When the demand for the participation of Indian nationals at higher levels of administration increased, the dominance of Brahmins in administration, though mainly at lower level, had cautioned the rulers. They regarded Brahmins as the main force behind the entire national movement, agitations and terrorist activities. Therefore, British rulers tried their best 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. British rulers managed it by adopting the following measures –

  •  Propped-up other sections of society against Upper-castes – The British thought it necessary to keep a balance of power by propping up other sections of the society in order to stop the preponderance of Brahmins and forward castes in modern callings.
  • Divide and rule – They divided Indian population, through censuses, into different groups, i.e. upper castes, backward castes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities.
  • Start of quota system – To counter Brahmin’s dominance in administration, the British designed Reservation Policy. They fixed up quotas in government jobs for different sections on the basis of caste, community, occupation, religion etc.
  • Separate representation and preferences to non-Brahmins -Through the Acts of 1909, 1919 and1932 the rulers provided separate representation to different communities in Legislative Councils and Assemblies. The rulers bestowed special benefits and preferences in education and jobs for different upcoming groups.
  • ICS remained untouched from preferential treatment till end – Though the British Government gave preferential treatment to upcoming groups in government jobs, British rulers kept the ICS untouched from the quota system till the last. They firmly and clearly said to the upcoming groups that they wouldn’t weaken their Steel frame at any cost for any body, as on it depended, efficient governance of the country.  It was told the upcoming groups in clear terms, “With its utmost desire to do so, 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 countrymen for duties of administration and public (Times of India Archives, May 3, 1918).

Breakdown of the spirit of the civil services in India – With the intensification of national movement and introduction of Diarchy, the downfall in the quality of work began to fade. Pannikar says, “The Lee Commission (1923) was the first evidence of the breakdown of the spirit of the civil services in India, for after that there was no claim, that the British Civil Service in India, competent though they continued to be to the end, was anything more than a group of officers doing their work for purely material considerations. The idealism of the past had vanished” (Pannikar KM, The Development of Administration in India, Bulletin of Public Administration, Patna, Patna University’s Institution of Public Administration, vols. 2 and 3, p14.)

The Rawland Committee remarked, “The present position, in our judgment, is thoroughly unsatisfactory both from the point of view of the district officer himself, as well as, from the point of view of the efficiency of the governmental machine and welfare of the people in the district…. He is expected to see that nothing goes wrong in his district, but he has little power outside. The Magistrates and Collectors failed to see that things go right. He is supposed to compose differences between other officers, but he has no power to impose his will upon the recalcitrant. He can cajole and persuade, he can not compel… In our view, the situation, if left to itself, can only deteriorate further, because activities of the Government in the mofussil will increase and practically every department is thinking in terms of Provincialized Service and makes little attempt to disguise its determination to go ahead with its own plans, without reference to any other part of the Government” (Report of the Bengal Administrative Enquiry Committee, 1944-45, p18).

Transfer of power – In 1935, with the intensification of the nationalist movement, supported by Indian National Congress Party and growing demand for greater Indian participation in Government and its administration at higher levels, the Colonial rulers delegated some authority to the provinces. They were aware of the consequences of delegation of authority to the provinces. Therefore, they transferred to the Provincial Governments only the authority to manage the services engaged in service-functions and kept ‘control functions’ i.e. maintaining law and order and revenue collection in their own hands. Ultimately in 1947, India got its freedom as an independent country.

After independence

Civil services after the Independence  – With the attainment of Independence and adoption of socialist and egalitarian society as ultimate national goals, the demands on administration had undergone a qualitative change. The basic task of administration changed from one of attending to routine regulatory function to that of promoting a rapid socio-economic changes. Bureaucracy was now expected to play a significant role in administrative and developmental work of the Government.

Dreams of constitution-framers – The forefathers of the Constitution realized the importance of civil services in order to ensure good governance to the country and providing the safety of the nation. Mr. MV Kamath said, “With the independence of our country, the responsibilities of the services have become onerous. It may make or mar the efficiency of the machinery of administration, machinery so vital for the peace and progress of the country. A country without any efficient Government service can not make progress in spite of the earnestness of the people at the helm of affairs of the country. Whatever democratic institutions exist, experience has shown, that it is essential to protect public services as far as possible from political and personal influence and to give it that position of stability and security, which is vital in its successful working, as an impartial and efficient instrument, by which Government of whatever political complexion may give effect to their policies” (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. IX, p585).

Mr. Subharajan said during Constituent Assemble debates, “Without an efficient civil service, it would be impossible for the Government to carry on and continuity to be kept. The importance of the Governmental administration has been in the fact that there is continuity and unless this continuity, there is chaos” (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. IX, p952).

Vallabh Bhai Patel in his letter to the Prime Minister wrote, “I need hardly emphasize, that an efficient, disciplined and contended (civil) service, assured of its prospects as a result of diligent and honest work, is a “Sine-quanan” of sound administration, under a democratic regime, even more than under an authoritarian rule. The (civil) service must be above party and we should ensure that political consideration, either in its recruitment or its discipline and control, are reduced to the minimum, if not eliminated altogether” (Patel Vallabh Bhai in a letter to Mr. Nehru).

After Nehru’s midnight hour speech between 14th and 15th August 1947, Dr. Radhakrishnan warned the nation, “Our opportunities are great, but let me warn you that when power outstrips ability, we will fall on evil days. We should develop competence and ability, which would help us to utilize the opportunities, which are now open to us. A free India will be judged by the way, in which it will serve the interests of the common man in the matter of food, clothing, shelter and social services.”

Need of efficient employees in administration – Civil services in Independent India Independent India required that the civil administration at every level must be equipped with officers having the capacity to meet various challenges of the modern India. The success of government’s welfare and developmental plans would depend largely upon the efficiency of its administrative cadres.

Attraction for the youth – Jobs in the Government have always remained an attraction for the youth. Entry into IAS and central services are the most sought-after jobs for students as it provides the highest entry point in bureaucracy. Government employs officers on various responsible posts after being successful  in a well-planned entry competitive examination and then go for rigorous professional training in different training institutions. making processes and their implementation work.

IAS (Indian Administrative Service), the successor of ICS after Independence After independence, Indian Administrative Service (IAS) was created as the successor of ICS, which was till now a reputed, efficient and powerful service.  IAS is now an elite service meant predominantly to be engaged in control functions of Indian provinces. political circle. up of the nation.

Functions of the civil services – The civil administration, whether in Centre or in State, can be divided into two groups:

• Working in the Secretariats – Policy making body;

• Working in field organisations – for implementation of policies and plans.

Working at Secretariat level – Working in the Secretariat exposes the officers to policy perspective in diversified subjects like agriculture, horticulture, power, coal, transport etc. The work in Secretariat requires bright officers having experience and knowledge in relevant areas. The IAS officers on deputation from different states occupy most of the senior posts in Central Secretariat. In the State Secretariats also, it is the IAS Officials, who are posted on the top posts in almost every department.

Following are important functions at the level of Secretariat: –

  • Obtaining decisions on policy matters and enunciating policy decisions in clear language,
  • Overall planning and finance,
  • Legislative business,
  • Personnel management policies,
  • Legal advice,
  • Coordination and cross clearance among the administrative departments, in the Secretariat,
  • Communication with central institutions like the Planning Commission etc., and
  • Overall evaluation, supervision, control and coordination of the work being done by the field organizations.

Administration at field level – The district administration occupies a key position. ‘District Collector’ continues to play a pivotal role in the District Administration. District is the most convenient geographical unit, where the total apparatus of Civil Administration is concentrated and where officials come into direct contact with the people. Its importance arises from the fact, that it is at this level, that bulk of people gets affected, favorably or adversely by the governmental policies, programs and its implementation. It is here, that people judge the quality and efficiency of the governmental administration. It has regulatory as well as developmental tasks.

The first five or six years of service in the state are crucial for all IAS officers. During this period, they go on field postings at district level to get the feel and first hand knowledge of real life and social realities. These postings open up the minds of young officers, by bringing them into direct contact with administrative life, with people at grass-root level, with their concrete problems and with different human and social conditions prevailing there. They get acquainted with the administrative structure in the district and the relationship between various branches of Government at district headquarters.  The experience of field work enriches officials with a variety of experiences and makes them ripe for senior positions.

Besides for collection of revenue and maintenance of law and order, District collector is responsible. He also coordinates activities of various departments at district level. A collector enjoys immense power and prestige at district level.

Both kinds of work at district and in headquarter equally important – Work at Secretariat and work in the field have their distinctive challenges. For efficient performance of work in both the areas, there is need for really bright and talented officers. Corrosion of the ‘steel-frame’ after Independence With many of the old visionary leaders and bureaucrats having gone from the national and state scene in the sixties, a rot started setting up rapidly in the administrative set up.

Problems of the day

Fall in the standard of governance – After Independence the bureaucracy  has started shaking under its own pressure.  Undesirable political pressure on it increased continuously. With the result that bureaucracy in India has now appears to be unable to meet the challenges of the day and has become an ineffective and powerless institution. administration.

The political complexion of the nation underwent a revolutionary change after the fall of Rajiv Gandhi’s Government and then disappearance of Nehru-Gandhi family from the political scene. The era of instability started. Mr. VN Narayan commented on the climate of 1990’s, “We have a political problem (scams and scandals), but we have no political solution, we have a religious problem (Ayodhya), but no religious solution. There is an economic problem (poverty), but there is no economic solution (Liberalization). There is a social problem (Sectarian conflicts), but there is no societal remedy (Secularism and Mandalization). There is a socio-medical disease (cancer of corruption), but there is no socio-medical cure (ministerial resignations and reshuffles) There is only one solution to all problems – a human and spiritual solution. We have to consciously move toward humanizing our social institutions and spiritualize (not communalize or secularize) ourselves” (Narayanan VN, Hindustan Times, June 1, 1995, p13).

Bureaucrats known as ‘Babus’ –  Since beginning of 21st century, there is decline over the years in the quality, competence and commitment of the administrative officers. Rarely are factors like competence, aptitude, past experience and public spirit taken into account, while making appointments to responsible posts. Instead of known as Government officials, the bureaucrats are called ‘glorified clerks’ and bureaucracy as ‘babudom’.

Most of the bureaucrats find it more convenient to toe the line of political leaders rather than standing up for principles and paying the price for it.  The situation has led to the nexus that has developed between unscrupulous politicians, corrupt bureaucrats and criminals, as Vohra Committee has vividly described it. The appointment of tainted officers at crucial positions itself makes the intentions of the politicians clear. ism has corroded the steel frame.

Reasons , that made the difference – Reasons for derailing the whole administrative system are very simple, which are as following –

  • Intake of the material

Before Independence – Then, during British rule, the British Government was very particular about the intake of the material into its elite service. The British, according to their aims and objectives, pursued the policy of racial discrimination on the dictum of “White-man’s” superiority for the appointment in ICS. For a long time, the Indians were virtually prohibited to join this service intentionally. The rulers never wanted to give Indian any control over the governance of the country. Lord Lytton, in his confidential document, confirmed that the pledge of the Royal proclamation of 1858 was never intended to be carried out. He said, “We all know that these claims, expectations never can or will be fulfilled. We have had choose between prohibiting them (Indians) and cheating them, we have chosen the least straightforward course.” (Annie Besant, How India wrought for freedom, p420)

Lord Kimberley, the Secretary of State, laid down in 1893; “It is indispensable, that an adequate number of members of the Civil Service shall always be European.” Viceroy Lord Landsdown stressed “Absolute necessity of keeping the Government of this wide-spread empire into European hands, if that empire is to be maintained.” (Bipin Chandra, Modern India, p158) In 1867, Lawrence said very (clearly, “We have conquered India by force of arms, though the policy and good Government have already aided us. In the like manner, we must hold it. The Englishmen must always be in the forefront holding the post of honor and power, as the condition of our retaining of our rule.” (Tara Chand, History of Freedom Movement in India, p497)

In Home Department Resolution of May 1904, Lord Curzon’s Government justified the policy, they were pursuing with regard to “White-man’s superiority” in Civil Service. “The highest ranks of the civil employees in India, those in the Imperial Civil Service, the members of which are entrusted with the responsible task of carrying on the general administration of the country, though open to such Indians, who proceed to England and pass the requisite tests, must nevertheless, as a general rule be held by the Englishmen, for the reason that they possess partly by heredity, partly by upbringing and partly by education that knowledge of the principles of Government, the habits of the mind and vigor of character, which are essential for the task and the rule of India, being a British rule and any other rule being in the circumstances of the case impossible. The tone and the standard should be set by those, who have created it and are responsible for it.” (Supplement to Gazette of India, June 4, 1904, p937

After Independence – Now, after independence the hope of the best-talent syndrome belied. It was hoped that civil services would attract the best talents and most competent and qualified youth from all over India. There was a time, when it attracted the best talents of the nation. A large number of intellectuals, engineers, doctors, MBAs and other professionals joined the services. One of the reasons is that now 50% candidates are taken into the services on quota basis with relaxed standards in order to give make space for upcoming sections of society. Reservation of about 50% posts has further eroded the charm to join government services for the talented youth.

Civil services no more attract the best brains.  The willingness of talented and meritorious youths to join government services is now like a passing tide. For the last few years, constant political interference has diluted the charm to join the civil services. The youth find the work atmosphere suffocating, because there is no freedom to do any creative works. It has created many pen-pushing bureaucrats. Disincentive to hard work, merit and sincerity has demoralized the honest and hard working people.  The cream of the society either wishes to join the private sector or to go abroad. Liberalization and globalization has given a boost to this trend.

  • Bloated Size 

Under British rule – As said earlier, “It always puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers, namely how barely a thousand British ICS (Indian Civil Service) personnel managed to rule both British India and the princely states with a combined population of well over 300 million during the first part of the twentieth century. Very few statesmen, from Bismarck to Theodore Roosevelt, doubted the quality of British rule. The cadre strength of ICS ‘the steel-frame’ and the predecessor of IAS, the elite service of Independent India, had always remained less than 1500. With that cadre strength, they were able to cope with the administrative work of the undivided India efficiently and effectively.

After independence, white elephant – There is a continuous increase in number. After Independence, the civil services have gradually grown into a bloated and top heavy service. In one of its elite service IAS, which had cadre strength of only 957 officers in 1950, is now having 4377 (as on 1.1.2012) administrators in position. The first causality of this obesity is its efficiency. In Independent India, the annual intake in IAS went up from about 33 in 1947 to 138 in 1965 and to 160 in 1985. The cadre strength in various years is given below: –

                                                             Strength of IAS after Independence

Year                         Authorized   Cadre strength                 In position

 1951                                     1232                                       957 (Includes 336 ICS)

1961                                    1862                                       1722 (Includes 215 ICS)

1971                                     3203                                       2754 (Includes 88 ICS)

1981                                      4599                                         3883

                            1991                                     5334                                             4881

2012-                                     6154                                   4377

Source: Civil lists Pay Commission Reports, Report of Deptt. of Personnel.

It is not only in IAS, but the number of civil servants has increased in all the services. Bureaucracy has become like a white elephant.

Outcome of this increase – The rot set in on account of continuous increase in the number of government employees resulted in:

    • Adverse effect on the “Espirit-d’corps” in the service
    • Creation of additional high level posts to accommodate timely promotions,
    • Establishment expenditure is eating away most of the resources generated by the Government for development projects.
    • Continuous increase at entry point has led to stagnation at Joint Secretary level, resulting in frustration,
    • Creation of many insignificant unnecessary posts, that has very little work or authority,
    • Generating resentment in Non-IAS Services against IAS officers for encroaching the preserves of other services,
    • Side-lining upright officers, thus discouraging excellence of performance. A large number of officers are always there in the queue, willing to toe the line (dictates) of politicians with vested interests.
    • Leading to poor communication, duplication of work, and delay in action and decision taking.
    • Creating multiple layers in administrative hierarchy, over the country

Specialization

During British rule – During pre-independence days there were some 9 All India services to provide adequate manpower at the top of various disciplines + other Non ICS services of generalist nature, which were as popular as ICS was. Even within ICS, immediately after the recruitment, the officers were geared to attain knowledge and experience in specific areas for higher assignments, during probationary period and thereafter-early years of service. Broadly there were three main areas ICS (Judicial as there was not much pressure of Imperial Government on their working) or Indian Custom Service (as they always got postings in big towns).  Even after Independence, for some time, there was not much difference in the social status, career progression, standard and behavior pattern of IAS and Non IAS class I services. However since 1960 onwards, slowly but steadily, IAS has become more and more powerful and the only ‘Elite service’ under Government of India. The display by ICS officers for one kind of work rather than the other, their special knack and aptitude for particular type of work was taken into account for deciding their future career. Therefore, in practice and not in theory, the ICS was building a cadre of specialists in administration and also encouraging further specialization in particular field of administration, not through formal training, but through experience by doing job under the supervision of those, having greater experience. (LK Jha, Administrator as Specialist Management in Government, July-September, 1980)

Now, after independence -After Independence, the need of specialization in IAS, one of the most powerful service in Government of India is much more than it was for ICS. But for one reason or other, contrary is the trend. IAS does not have different functional cadres. Its officers move from one functional area to another. With the result that-

Jack of all trades, but master of none – They are “Jack of all trades, but master of none”. The knowledge of any particular area is not considered important for their appointment to senior posts. Consequently, just as politicians depend on secretaries for knowledge, secretaries depend on their subordinates and technical staff for knowledge and information.

Blind leading the other blind – Many times, when politicians are to be advised on policy issues, alternatives cannot be put forward by them properly, because they, themselves, are professionally ignorant about the subject. It is often alleged that in technical areas, the system of collecting information, analyzing data and using modern innovations is so inadequate, that policy advice is neither according to time nor fully matured. Therefore, critics say that such a practice leads to a situation, where ignorant politicians are being advised by comparatively ignorant generalist officers. The position is similar to blind leading the other blind.

Adverse effect of quick changes, from one type of job to another – The quick changes, from one type of job to another, make the knowledge of IAS officers superficial. There are some hard working and sincere IAS officers, who are eager to learn the maximum about the subject matter of their job. But they are also constrained because of the swift changes from one functional area to another. The real knowledge is obtained by sustained hard work for a long period in one type of job, which enables a person to develop innate ability needed for the smooth functioning and development of that area.

• Creation of more posts – In order to solve the problem stagnation, there the government started creating more and more posts at higher grades. As a remedial action, the Government had sub-divided one job so many times that many senior officers have hardly two or three hour of work a day. What is worse, a number of them are doing jobs, which was earlier done by their juniors.

• A battle between IAS and Non IAS – The story does not end here only. In order to avoid stagnation in its elite service, i.e., IAS, the Government is creating many cushy jobs in public sector corporations, which are manned largely by IAS officers. As a consequence, a battle is going on between IAS and non-IAS central services and also between IAS and State Civil Services just to get top posts in the public sector corporations. While this battle has become something of a scandal, no one bothers, whether services are achieving the objectives, for which they are created.

• Multiplicity of these focal points – By creating more and more posts at the top level, the Government has created too many points of control and coordination. Multiplicity of too many focal points has created overlapping of functions and jurisdictions. More men, less wok, duplication of efforts, lack of supervision and control have resulted in confusion and inefficiency.

• Swift changes makes difficult to fix responsibility – Swift changes, from one functional area to another, make it difficult to hold an officer responsible for any wrong policy. By the time, the results of a policy or the implementation of a program is evaluated, the concerned officer gets shifted to another post, department or goes back to his parent state.

• Unlimited Authority without Responsibility – It is said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The concept of “Welfare state” and “Development administration” has bestowed immense authority in the hands of Government, which is mainly exercised by the executive, meaning the ministers and the Bureaucrats. But this authority is without responsibility.

• Always someone else held responsible – Whatever may go wrong, either at the field level or at the secretariat level, an IAS officer is never held responsible. If law and order situation deteriorates in a district, IPS officer is held responsible. If a policy decision goes wrong, it is said that the IAS officers were wrongly advised by the specialists or specialized organizations dealing with that particular subject.

Lack of senior’s support

During British period – During British period, young officers were placed under the strict supervision of senior officers, who used to take keen interest in the development of their capacity to run the administration effectively. It was made clear to senior district officers, that it was very important to pay attention to the young officers, who were put under their guidance. Their success in life and reputation, as good officers, depended greatly on the assistance; they received from their seniors at the outset of their career. (GO No.738, published on April 18, 1916, ICS Manual Madras) As a result, the junior officers were groomed well on job and possessed a marked degree of professionalism in their area of activity. Their claim of superiority, over others, was clearly established.

Now after the independence – However, after independence, the scene is not like the past. Senior officers gradually lost interest in their subordinates. Reasons for it are generally the following –

• There is scarcity of experienced officers at the district level. Most of them have drifted to the central and state secretariats or to public corporations etc

• There is lack of personnel planning.

• Premature promotions – Earlier, ICS officers used to work under senior officers for about seven to eight years, before they were given independent charge as collector. Now officers have to take the responsibility of independent jobs prematurely. After foundation training of two years,   hardly a year or 18 months passes, when an IAS officer gets promoted to the responsible post of collector. He is not mature enough either service-wise or age-wise to handle the challenging job of a collector. When officer himself does not have enough experience as a collector (head of district administration), how can he take up the responsibility of training others?

• Senior officers are so occupied with their own work, that they hardly spare enough time and attention to see and guide the work of their juniors.

• Because of changing political culture, senior officers themselves are so insecure, how can they instil sense of security and confidence amongst their juniors?

• Unfortunately, now the main function of the administrative service has become to maintain status quo and defend the wrong practices of its political masters, not to guide well the junior officers or stand by them when in difficulty.

Suggestion of ARC (1968) – ARC had also suggested way back in 1968 that the IAS officers should be confined to areas, which are well known to them and should not be allowed to encroach on those areas, for which, others have acquired special knowledge and experience. (Report of ARC on Personnel Administration in Government of India, 1969, p16) All India Character  Professor Maheshvari has said, “In a never ceasing see-saw game of adjustment and bargaining between the center and the states in federal cum competitive politics, neither its all India outlook, nor its talent, nor even its supposed loyalty to the center comes into active play.” (Maheshwari SR, The All India Service, published in the lecture series of 80th Course on Personnel Policies in practice organized by 11PA, 1980, P305)

IAS is fast loosing its all India character. The Union Home Ministry has, from time to time, advised Chief Secretaries of the states not to recommend transfer of cadre members to their home states, but those with influence are able to manage it. In many states like Bihar, Punjab etc, more than 60% of the officers are from within the state. It is mainly because of the political ties. (Saxena NS, IAS and IPS at war with the state cadre, Times of India, April 6,1984) It has become very difficult for IAS officers to take the side of Union Government, while working in states. It becomes more difficult, when other parties than that of the center rule states. Working with state governments compels them to take care of local influences – political and social. In order to avoid local pressures, many officers avoid field postings. They either prefer to have postings in the state capitals or be on deputation in the central government at Delhi, where there is lesser political pressure on them.

  • Field Experience

An administrator is supposed to maintain links with the people directly through the channels of understanding and persuasion, not through authority or force. Many ICS officers claimed that earlier they had been closer to public than present day administrators.

During British rule – The work experience at district or sub-division level was considered to be a qualification for ICS officers. Personal knowledge of ground realities/village conditions was considered necessary. The rulers insisted on personal knowledge of its executives of what was happening in the farthest village. Administrative officers established and maintained contact with rural masses at the highest level of the administrative hierarchy. Great emphasis was laid on getting young officers thoroughly acquainted with village and the administrative structure dealing with matters, which touched the rural people, such as land, irrigation, Government loans etc. The most important of these, from villagers’ point of view, was his right on land – whether as owner, tenant or worker. It had to be correctly recorded. Rendering effective, just and quick service to the villagers – Also, various exaction of government, such as land revenue, higher irrigation dues, return of loans etc. were to be fairly assessed and collected. The village community had a vested interest in the efficiency and honesty of revenue system. Whatever be the motivation of British administration, it certainly rendered effective, just and quick service to the villagers. The system was so enforced and watched, that there was no escape, whatsoever from acquiring knowledge about village conditions and methods to deal with them. (Mangat Rai, Commitment my style in ICS, 1973)

Exhaustive touring from village to village – The officers used to make exhaustive tours, moving from village to village and lived a camp-life for considerably long period. The symbol and instrument of village contact was horse. This was partly because of the manner, in which these were conducted, were slow, and easy, involving staying out near village and imbibing thoroughly their atmosphere and conditions. Close contact with people, source of strength in a democracy – The close contact with the common men and the people’s faith in their uprightness gave them the strength to become the “Steel frame” of the whole system.  Now many retired ICS officers claim, that the nature of functioning before the independence was such, that they had better understanding and knowledge of the people of their area than the IAS officers of today. In a democratic, people are the source of strength – this basic truth is forgotten by most of the administrators, making them weaker.

Now, After Independence – Unfortunately, after independence and progressively over the years, importance of field experience has lost its validity. Mostly, while ‘sitting in an air-conditioned room’ or ‘living in an ivory tower’, bureaucrats are hardly aware of the problems/realities at ground level of the common-man.

  • Field experience lost its validity – Most of the officers are habitual of leading a comfortable urban life. It is difficult and troublesome for them to spend enough time in rural areas. As a result, they have to depend to a great extent on the advice of their subordinates there. Many times, there is a lack of timely and reliable information. Escape from field postings – Many smart and ambitious officers find their way out and skip sub-divisional or district experience. A study by DPAR, in 1981, has shown that in eight state cadres, 70% or more IAS officers have not done sub-divisional charge even for two years. (Seventy Seventh Report of Estimate Committee of Seventh Lok Sabha, August 17,1984, pp76-77) IAS is fast becoming a secretariat service.
  • Little grass-root contacts – The same is the story of district charge. Many officers manage their postings at the center and/or state capitals throughout their career and do not care to revive or develop what little grass-root contacts, they had earlier. Because of the improved road network in the villages and availability of fast moving vehicles, such as cars, jeeps etc, the district officers lack the intimate knowledge of the rural areas. The tendency of officers is merely to complete the formality of being on tour, as might have stipulated by the state Government. They make touch and go visits to rural areas, especially the one, which are easily accessible by road, spend the prescribed compulsory number of night halts in some wayside Dak bungalow.
  • Lack of grass-roots contacts making ‘Politicians’ stronger and ‘Bureaucrats’ weaker –Today, politicians are closer to people than bureaucrats. It is due to this lack of enough field experience, grass roots knowledge and experience in the absence of direct contact with the rural masses that the local politicians could exert pressure on administrators. It has made them stronger than bureaucrat.
  • Politicization

Before and after independence – ICS enjoyed the authority to take decisions. The ministers and politicians used to find their authority shadowy over them.

After the independence, the table was turned. Over the years bureaucrats have succumbed to the dictats of its political masters. Now, the minister dictates and the officers obey without any resistance. Dominance of political masters over administrative and economic matters has been one of the prominent features of independent India, which is responsible for the deterioration of law and order and slower rate of economic growth.

The political leaders found the authority to reward and punish officers, through transfers and postings, as an effective tool to make officers fall in line with them and be loyal to them. Honest and upright officers face quick transfers, bad entries, judicial inquiries, and loyalist officer’s prestigious postings, foreign trips special allowances etc. It has made Bureaucrats to succumb almost absolutely to political pressures.

  • Growing politicization of services and lack of support from seniors has put a negative effect on the initiative and creativity of young officers. Today the efficiency of the service as a whole is at its lowest ebb. Complete breakdown of discipline everywhere is mainly responsible for the disintegration of administrative system and its future.

Glamorous service

Until 1960s, there was very little difference between the standard and behavior of IAS officers and class I officers belonging to other services of Government of India. Today, IAS officers deal directly with politicians, plan bigger things, moves all over the world frequently. It has added glamour to the service. The result of this development has been that the IAS has attracted the attention of politicians, especially of those pursuing the sectional interest. To them, entry into IAS is the surest and quickest means to get control over others, to improve one’s status in the society, to command instant admiration and respect of the people, thus in reaching quickly to the commanding position in the society. It is supposed to be the manifest symbol of power. It makes an easy access to levers of authority. It enables them to occupy positions having immense power and privileges at the highest level in the Government. Once in service, a person could lead an easy life, is a general conception. The craze for getting into the service is increasing continuously amongst the newly emerging sections of the society. Most of the new recruits are now not bothered about the high ideals, intellectual competence and high standards of administration, commitment to public service, Constitutional values, or concern for justice. They are mainly interested in exercising the State authority over powerless people and making as much money as possible by misusing their authority.

Red tape

Jayant Narlikar, an eminent scientist, describes government functioning as the soulless movement of files. According to him, India has one of the most obdurate, cold, insular and inflexible Civil Service, the free world has ever known. (Narikar Jayant, Two Cheers for Bureaucracy, Times of India, December 13, 1995, p10) Lord Curzon’s remarks are, “Round and round like the diurnal revolution of the earth went the file – stately, solemn and slow”. Similarly, decades later, Malcolm Muggeridge observed, “It was governments pure and un-defied, endlessly minuting and circulating files, which like time itself has neither beginning nor end.” (Times of India, December 25, 1995)

What should be done?

Sufficient knowledge of the area, in which one works

 The role of civil services have become more demanding and challenging due to the complexity of modern times and fast changing social, political, economic and technological developments of the recent past. Specialization with varied experience, in present atmosphere, means that an officer for strategic senior post should have sufficient knowledge of the area he is supposed to work.  In addition to that in their own discipline, there should be varied experience of different aspects and activities concerned with it – such as planning, coordinating work at different levels, advising ministers on policy matters, taking into account the social, legal and economic constraints, particularly in his/her functional area etc. All this could be achieved only after working in any area for a reasonable period.

Basic qualification – It appears rather odd that a simple graduation is required to enter into the most prestigious service i.e. the IAS. While in other services like Indian Economic Service and Indian Statistical Service, the requirement is a post-graduate degree. In Engineering or technical services a degree in Engineering, which takes four years of rigorous graduation course. The time demands to have a cadre of more and more qualified administrators, more than in the past.  Either the administrators should be selected earlier and then trained properly for their jobs as is being done in Defence Services or MBA degree needs to be made compulsory for appearing in competitive entrance examination. Lateral entries could also be made by including bright persons already employed elsewhere, like: –

•Technocrats having sufficient experience in management,

•Professionals from other civil services,

•Entrepreneurs, willing to switch over.

Promotion policy Promotions in the service should be strictly based on good performance. Administrator should be encouraged to upgrade, sharpen, and focus their knowledge towards analysis and problem solving Closer contact with people could save bureaucrats from undue political pressure – Today’s politicians think themselves to be exclusive guardians of the people. The Administrators have, at present, lost the faith of the people.

The people doubt their credibility and efficacy of occupying policy level posts. Alienation from the common man leads the administrator to base their decisions on second hand information. Because of inadequate data, inefficient resource allocation and inward looking project monitoring; plans and policies remain, often, far away from the reality and actual needs and aspirations of the people. Closer contact, coordination with people and their confidence in administrator could save them from undue political pressure.

Corruption

Many reports reveal that although an increasing number of IAS figures in corruption cases, the wheels of justice are not moving fast enough to punish the guilty. Procedural delays, political patronage and resistance from within the bureaucracy, appear to be helping corrupt officials evade the long arm of the law. People are given all kinds of excuses for the corruption prevalent in the service. Corrupt and self-seeking administrators have become expensive parasites on the system and society.

Independent machinery for transfers and promotions Extensive political controls over transfers and promotions give vast powers to them and unlimited opportunities to make money. Through delays, dilatoriness and excuses they help the greedy and power hungry politicians. In return get their patronage and good postings.

In order to provide bureaucracy functional independence and give a chance to conscientious and competent bureaucrats to contribute for good governance, recently Supreme Court ordered setting minimum tenures for bureaucrats and put curb on arbitrary transfers and postings. But lack of political will is the hurdle on the way to much required administrative reforms.

 Winding up

In short, the reasons of the corrosion of the steel-frame are poor personnel policies, excessive protectionist policies of the Government, bloated size, unbalanced infrastructural development with concentration of authority in a few hands, cumbersome office procedures, increased paper work, delay in action and decision – taking, disincentive to hard work, talent and sincerity, lack of accountability, alienation from the common man and the last but not the least tolerance of people of India, who accept sub-standard administration, giving very little challenge to the officers to upgrade their performance.

Conclusion

Following are the steps to be taken by the government –

  • First of all, the Government of India should merge all its civil services, technical as well as non-technical, into one unified service with an integrated pay structure and career prospects. The Government should ensure complete parity in pay scales, same time- frame for all services for getting promoted into next grade, promotional avenues and career development.
  • For efficient and effective administration, the 21st century administrative machinery needs to be lean, thin and down-sized.• The attainment of high standard of administration depends a great deal on the environment of work, which requires selection of capable officers, proper placement of officers and proper atmosphere of work.
  • On their part, bureaucrats require a change in attitude. They should be accountable for their decisions.
  • There is need to do field duties in districts more seriously, to get the feel of the pulse of the nation and to get people’s cooperation, not by force or use of authority, but by prompting, persuading, suggesting, stimulating and inspiring them.
  • It must be realized by every bureaucrat that he are there because of the people, not the people because of him. People are not an interruption to his work, but the purpose of it. In a country like India, where most of its people are illiterate or semi-literate, mere functional efficiency can not stir warmth. A little glow of welcome in the eyes of civil servant converts disappointment into exhilaration in the public. People, after meeting a civil servant, should return with satisfaction that they were heard patiently and sympathetically and that some one would be taking interest in their problems. 

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Dalit Assertion

A Journey From ‘Shudras’-‘Outcastes’-‘Panchamas’ to ‘Dalits’

Introduction – An alarmingly large number of people in India,  irrespective of caste or creed, continues to suffer due to poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and unbridled exploitation, even 70 years after its Independence. The efforts done by the governments, so far, have led the Indian society towards fundamentalist and separatist attitudes, conflicts, in-fights between different sections of society, instability, in-decisiveness, and rigid and irrational attitude. The whole nation has been divided into numerous water-tight political camps like pro-Hindu camp, anti-Hindu camp, secular camp,  fundamentalist camp, and caste camps into forward, backward and Dalit camps. There are regional camps too. Attempts to place a society in different camps for selfish motives is against the law of humanity/nature and threat to unity.

The political developments with an aim to empower submerged sections of Indian society, including the ‘Policy of Reservation’ and other paternalistic policies, based on caste-consideration, have not been succeeded, so far, to yield desired results. Instead, it has sowed the seeds of mutual strife and polarized the Indian society into water-tight compartments. Also it has developed a mindset amongst very ambitious persons/individuals belonging to so-called Dalits and other backward castes that they will occupy the posts of ‘PM, CMs’ through elections and of ‘DMs and GMs’ through reservation.

Entrusting power in weak hands, without making them strong enough to hold it judiciously, could never bring any positive/desired results. Instead of enabling through sound education and training system to upgrade the social-status and economic position of submerged sections of society, paternalistic policies have divided  the whole nation into numerous political camps like pro-Hindu camp, anti-Hindu camp, secular camp,  fundamentalist camp, and caste camps into forward, backward and Dalit camps. There are regional camps too, playing up federal card to woe the electorate. increased rivalries and in-fights between different groups of castes and created social disorder, making now and then, the task of governance difficult.

Correct diagnosis of the ailment –  It is said that prescription works, if diagnosis of ailment is correct. To facilitate upward mobility of the oppressed and deprived sections of society,  valid prescriptions needs to be applied to deserving persons at right time, and in right quantity and quality.

Issue – The main issue is not the political empowerment of Dalits without enabling them to hold the responsibilities, but is of their sustainable development, creating awareness through sound education and training, so that nobody could exploit them and thus enable them to lead their life peacefully with dignity and honour.

Inter and Intra-Caste rivalries – All paternalistic policies are based on caste-identity. Therefore it is necessary to understand what caste is? Caste is a conglomeration of many sub-castes and sub-sub-castes. No caste or sub-caste or sub-sub caste has given up their separate identity, while interacting with each other.

The unity of backward castes under the label of Dalits or “OBCs” is an illusion created by vested interests. Neither the term Schedule caste”, nor OBC nor Dalit makes them a homogenous class. Only for political purposes, many castes and sub-castes have come together, formed a pressure group and emerged as strong force to persuade government to accept their demands for  special measures/preferences for empowering them.

Different castes  have accepted the identical tag given to them by the government – i,e. forward castes/caste-Hindus, backwards, SCs, STs and minorities.   In the opinion of MSS Pandian, the current inter caste rivalries are part of a series of periodic revolt, whose prime object is self-assertion. (An academic with Madras Institute of Development Studies, Sunday, pp. 12-13, and 8-14, June, 1997). 

Historical background

All the social groups as vertical parallels in ancient India – In ancient India all the social groups were placed more or less as a series of vertical parallels. 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. Different castes and communities living in the same area cared and supported each other in fulfilling different kind of their needs. Socially, Shudras were supposed to do all sorts of menial work and serving the upper castes of the three Varnas.

Respect not on the basis of material success or control of power – 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.

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.

Opportunities to Shudras to earn respect of the society – It 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.

Low status and sufferings of ‘Shudras’ – All troubles of lower strata of society started after the downfall of Hindu Raj and old Hindus values around Seventh century onwards. 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.

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, it can be said that it was not out of malice, but the circumstances, which has pushed Shudras away from the mainstream.

Centuries old enslavement, ignorance, suppression, ostracism/low status and sufferings of Shudras or their exclusion from the mainstream had gradually stopped growth of their personality and made them completely dependent on others for their livelihood. It shook their confidence and their condition deteriorated continuously. They had to suffer inhuman treatment by the well-to- do sections of the society.

Depressed Class – During the nineteenth Century, in official circles lower castes were addressed as ‘Depressed class’ or ‘Exterior class’. British government in India regarded these people as ‘Oppressed of the oppressed and lowest of the low’. Missionaries were trying to convert this section of society into Christianity. British rulers passed many Legislative regulations and administrative orders and declared denial of access to untouchables to schools, well, roads and public places as illegal.

Till now, untouchable activities were combined with the intermediate castes’ non- Brahmin movement. But now all these developments inspired them to enter into the political arena under the name of “depressed class” and desired to a share in political power separately in India.

Harijans

The attempt of British rulers in 1911 to exclude untouchables from Hindu population and continuous decline of number of Hindus cautioned the national leaders. In order to retain their Hindu identity, Gandhiji and his followers called them Harijans meaning the “people belonging to god”. On one hand, Gandhiji tried to create compassion in the hearts of forward communities for Harijans and on the other he appealed to Harijans to observe cleaner habits, so that they could mix up freely with other sections of society. 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 Sankritisation 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. and become proud and independent human beings, that they were.

Untouchables

By 1909, the lowest strata of Indian society came to be known as untouchabes. 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.

Other 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.

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.

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.

Scheduled Castes

In accordance with 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. The term continued after the independence as well, for the purpose of Reservation.

Untouchables in Independent India

After second world war emergence of the concept of ‘welfare state’ swept the whole world. Independent India, as a civilized democratic society, considered it its humanitarian obligation 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 at the time of Independence has led the government to of India to intervene. The Constitution of India has directed the Government to promote social justice and educational, economic and other interests of the weaker sections with special care. It instructed the Government to remove the poverty and reduce inequalities of income and wealth and provide adequate representation to the downtrodden in power echelons through Affirmative Action Program/Reservation Policy. Public facilities, which were denied to untouchables so far, should be made accessible to them. The successive governments both at national as well as provincial levels initiated various Welfare Plans and Policies for employment generation and their social, economic and political growth from time to time.

Dalits

Dalit, a Maradhi 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.

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.

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. There is always a fear of upper caste or intermediate caste backlash.

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.

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. 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.

Once again, the tendency of ‘divide and rule’, as was there during British domination, has emerged in national scenario. The growing desire of Dalits to rule 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.

OBC leaders also know that Dalit parties now control a large vote bank. Therefore, from time to time, they try to please Dalits leaders in order to increase their own political strength. But Dalits are in no mood to play a second fiddle to other national political parties. They are aware of their growing influence and crucial role as a kink-maker in today’s highly competitive and unstable political atmosphere. All the three major national political formations – Congress’s UPA BJP’s NDA and National 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.

There is an elite section amongst Dalits, which protects its turf under the banner of Dalits at the cost of poorest of Dalits. It does not care much to bring 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.

Dalits at International platform

Dalits 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 Conferernce.

Along with it, staunch supporters of Human Rights, some Scandinavian countris, Church organisations 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 recognise 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 intelligentia.

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 upliftment 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 other civic facilities like health etc at the grass root level for the sustainable growth of backward communities.

‘Shudras’, ‘Outcastes’ and ‘Panchamas’

In ancient India all the social groups were placed more or less as a series of vertical parallels. 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. Socially, Shudras were supposed to do all sorts of menial work and serving the upper castes of the three Varnas.

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. 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.

It 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.

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. 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, it can be said that it was not out of malice, but the circumstances, which has pushed Shudras away from the mainstream.

The low status and sufferings of Shudras or their exclusion from the mainstream for centuries has gradually stopped growth of their personality and made them completely dependent on others for their livelihood. Centuries old enslavement, ignorance, suppression and ostracism shook their confidence, deteriorated severely their condition and made them to suffer inhuman treatment by other sections of the society.

Depressed Class

During the nineteenth Century, in official circles lower castes were addressed as ‘Depressed class’ or ‘Exterior class’. British government in India regarded these people as ‘Oppressed of the oppressed and lowest of the low’. Missionaries were trying to convert this section of society into Christianity. British rulers passed many Legislative regulations and administrative orders and declared denial of access to untouchables to schools, well, roads and public places as illegal.

Till now, untouchable activities were combined with the intermediate castes’ non- Brahmin movement. But now all these developments inspired them to enter into the political arena under the name of “depressed class” and desired to a share in political power separately in India.

Harijans

The attempt of British rulers in 1911 to exclude untouchables from Hindu population and continuous decline of number of Hindus cautioned the national leaders. In order to retain their Hindu identity, Gandhiji and his followers called them Harijans meaning the “people belonging to god”. On one hand, Gandhiji tried to create compassion in the hearts of forward communities for Harijans and on the other he appealed to Harijans to observe cleaner habits, so that they could mix up freely with other sections of society. 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 Sankritisation 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. and become proud and independent human beings, that they were.

Untouchables

By 1909, the lowest strata of Indian society came to be known as untouchabes. 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.

Other 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.

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.

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.

Scheduled Castes

In accordance with 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. The term continued after the independence as well, for the purpose of Reservation.

Untouchables in Independent India

After second world war emergence of the concept of ‘welfare state’ swept the whole world. Independent India, as a civilized democratic society, considered it its humanitarian obligation 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 at the time of Independence has led the government to of India to intervene. The Constitution of India has directed the Government to promote social justice and educational, economic and other interests of the weaker sections with special care. It instructed the Government to remove the poverty and reduce inequalities of income and wealth and provide adequate representation to the downtrodden in power echelons through Affirmative Action Program/Reservation Policy. Public facilities, which were denied to untouchables so far, should be made accessible to them. The successive governments both at national as well as provincial levels initiated various Welfare Plans and Policies for employment generation and their social, economic and political growth from time to time.

Dalits

Dalit, a Maradhi 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.

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.

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. There is always a fear of upper caste or intermediate caste backlash.

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.

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. 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.

Once again, the tendency of ‘divide and rule’, as was there during British domination, has emerged in national scenario. The growing desire of Dalits to rule 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.

OBC leaders also know that Dalit parties now control a large vote bank. Therefore, from time to time, they try to please Dalits leaders in order to increase their own political strength. But Dalits are in no mood to play a second fiddle to other national political parties. They are aware of their growing influence and crucial role as a kink-maker in today’s highly competitive and unstable political atmosphere. All the three major national political formations – Congress’s UPA BJP’s NDA and National 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.

There is an elite section amongst Dalits, which protects its turf under the banner of Dalits at the cost of poorest of Dalits. It does not care much to bring 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.

Dalits at International platform

Dalits 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 Conferernce.

Along with it, staunch supporters of Human Rights, some Scandinavian countris, Church organisations 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 recognise 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 intelligentia.

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 upliftment 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 other civic facilities like health etc at the grass root level for the sustainable growth of backward communities.

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | | Leave a comment

Factors, that changed caste-system into casteism

 

Introduction

The Government of India Act of 1858 brought an end to British East India Company’s rule and placed India directly under the Crown. With it ended the era of expansion and commercial exploitation and the nation ushered into the era of economic exploitation and policy of divide and rule.

At that point of time, it was difficult for Europeans and British understand and appreciate the role of caste system in totality. They were mystified by the amazing pluralities and unique social structure, because of its being an indigenous system, conceptualized, developed and practiced exclusively in India. Its complete localization and unfamiliarity with the rest of world made the task more difficult.

Discredited caste-system along with Hindu religion – The Western thinkers and sociologists from Max Weber to Louis Dumont, discredited Hindu religion, which had given birth to caste-system. Showing his occidental irritation, Kitts criticized caste-system, as lacking all rational arrangements. Many British thinkers held caste system responsible for all social evils and practices, feudal attitude, backward thinking, belief in dogmas and superstitions sustained by a unique set of rituals, beliefs and whimsical concept of purity and pollution.

Prejudice against everything native including case system

Through sophisticated ways, the British imperialists vehemently criticized caste system. They held Hinduism, caste-system and its practices for being 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 divided different castes and communities living in India in every possible manner.

Caste responsible for all miseries of Hindu society – The European teachers, missionaries, bureaucrats and British rulers developed a complex in Indian minds about their heritage, and social structure based on caste system. They forcefully implanted in the minds of Indian intelligentsia, the real and imaginary, a complex, exaggerating the distortions developed into the system during its long period of evolution and carefully avoiding telling people the salient features whole truth or strong points of Indian culture.

Ward’s and others British intellectuals’ charges, that were levied on caste system were not wholly correct, were not based on the real-situations existing then in India. Ward commented that Not only is the caste contrary to every principle of justice and polity, it is repugnant to every feeling of benevolence. The social circle is almost invariably, composed of persons of the same caste, to the careful exclusion of others. It aims one class of men against another; it gives rise to greatest degree of pride and apathy. It forms a sufficient excuse for not doing an act of benevolence towards another, that he is not of the same caste, Ney, a man dying with thirst will not accept a cooling drought of water from the hands or the cup of a person of a lower caste.

An humble attempt has been made to show how correct are these allegations in the following paragraphs: –

  • Stratified System – British vehemently could criticized caste system for its being highly stratified, which divided the Hindu population into innumerable caste-groups having distinct and diverse thinking and life styles. But could not appreciate the role of caste system
  1. All the incoming groups were welcomed and accommodated in Hinduism on their own terms. Hinduism had assimilated all new groups through caste system. For centuries in ancient times, Hinduism integrated different tribes, groups and communities together under one umbrella. Without conversions and by giving each one a new caste-name, it set a unique example in the world history.
  2. It did not thrusted on incoming new groups its own values, thoughts, processes, superstructures and practices. It legitimized their beliefs, behavior patterns and life styles with freedom to evolve and change according to their internal rhythm.
  • An iniquitous society – They easily put all the blame on caste system for peoples’ poverty, misery and deprivation. They told the people that caste was one of the greatest scourges of Indian society. Caste was blamed for the selfishness, covetousness, indolence and apathy of some individuals. It had doomed masses to mental and physical degradation and kept them away from education, prosperity and honour. It had created an iniquitous society, exploitative and oppressive by nature, which fostered caste-conflicts and caste rivalries.
  • Discriminatory System – It is an anomaly that British, who themselves played discriminatory practices by keeping their railway compartments, waiting rooms, parks, clubs, hotels, places of other entertainment and residences segregated, criticized caste system as being discriminatory. But criticized caste system for opposing admissions of children belonging to untouchable communities, in public schools.[i]
  • Prevented upward mobility of lower strata of society – Ward’s blames caste system for intentionally denying upward mobility of lower strata of society, because individual’s social status depended on the caste of his/birth, over which nobody had any control. In western world, wealth had been the determining factor to decide the social status rather than birth, which made social mobility easier and faster. But this belief is not wholly correct as it forgot that wealth was also acquired through birth. That is why, there was a sharp distinction between nobility and commoners.
  • No choice in the matter of occupation – British rulers, along with Missionaries criticized that Caste system forced people/individuals to pursue hereditary vocations. There was no choice in matter of occupation in caste system. The system had killed spirit of initiative, creativity, and innovation. It prevented people from taking any risk. It is also alleged that caste system gave importance to birth in matter of occupation and showed utter disregard to social or material environment of a person. Therefore, it served the interests of haves and enhanced the agonies of have-nots. However, in ancient and medieval societies in Europe and Asia, occupations not only tended to become hereditary, but also actually allowed to be followed by specific classes. It was the industrial revolution, which had changed the trend.Westerners could not appreciate that system to do traditional jobs kept everyone engaged, prevented in large scale unemployment, made almost everybody to contribute something to the society and saved them from any confusion in matter of job or being guided, not by aptitude, but by whims and fancies in this matter choosing their vocations. Professor Shah says, Caste system has a long range and permanent plan embracing every class of society. If applied to every individual, regardless of age and other conditions, no one could be unemployed. Nor could have one worked inappropriate to one’s ability, training, environment, aptitude and attainment, nor could any work be inadequately remunerated. [ii]Some liberal thinkers like HT Colebrooke, one of the early Sanskrit Scholars says, It may be received as a general maxim that occupation appointed for each tribe is entitled merely to a preference. Every profession, with few exceptions, was open to every description of persons and the discouragement arising from religious prejudices is not greater than what exists in Great Britain from the effects of Municipal and Corporate laws. [iii] It was after 1858, that with the introduction of modern education and start of the process of industrialization, the avenues for entering into different occupations increased.Disregard for menial work. – It was argued by British rulers that giving Shudras the lowest place in social structure, engaged in menial jobs, showed disregard of Hindus for menial work. But for Hindus work was worship. So it was not the caste system, but the industrial revolution, which taught Indian masses to escape from or disregard the menial work. In addition to it, creation of new white collared jobs by British rulers developed the attitude to discredit manual work. The more a person withdrew from physical labor, the more civilized and qualified he was regarded by modern society. Such an attitude lured all the sections of society to leave their traditional occupations and join white collared jobs in organised sectors, irrespective of their background, aptitude, skill and knowledge.
  •  
  • Concept of purity and impurity – Systems which were based on concept of ‘purity and impurity’ developed in ancient India were nothing more or less than systems developed in modern world, which are based on the idea of ‘hygienic and unhygienic’.
  •  
  • Gradation of different professions – Gradation of different professions was based on its being clean or unclean. Unclean occupations were given a lower status. Even Brahmins, who opted for menial professions for their livelihood, were assigned the status of Shudras. Such as Brahmins, known as ‘Mahabrahmins’, performing last rites, were also treated, ike Shudras. It was only the learned/knowledgeable Brahmins, who were given a superior status and their stronghold was the centers of learning.Apart from that warrior kings of Shudra and tribal origin sought Brahmins help to acquire Kshatriyas status. Bengal was among the last areas to come into contact with Brahminical Hinduism. It was only during the reign of Sen Guptas, that Kanyakubja Brahmins from Varanasi were invited to settle in Bengal. Brahmins never acquired status of dominant group there and remained just yet another Jati. In Punjab, it was Jats (farming community and protector of the outer periphery of the city-states), that were politically and economically dominant groups, says Prakash Tandon. Thakurs held prominent status in the eastern region of present day U.P. The Aine-Akbari informs that in the year 1600 AD, Thakur Zamindars paid more than two third of the total revenue in the middle Doab, Awadh and eastern parts of UP, Rohailkhand and Doab were controlled by Jat Chief-tons and later by Muslim Zamindars. In Bihar, around Darbhanga region, Maithili Brahmins held political control, though they also continued their traditional occupations as priests and scholars of Sanskrit.
  • Another yardstick of gradation was their contribution/utility of their services to the society. Many studies have shown that in many parts of the country, like Punjab, Gujarat, and Marathi speaking areas of western India, tribal MP. Orissa, Bengal etc. people other than Brahmins held superior status. Iqbal Narain and PC Mathur inform that in Rajasthan, Rajputs and Kshatriyas served as the models of caste, with emphasis on personal valor and military skills, for over a thousand years. In large part of peninsular Gujarat, according to Ghanshyam Shah Biswas, Banias had overshadowed Brahmins in economic and political areas for several centuries. Maharashtra, Jayant Lele says, Brahmins were far behind the Maratha – Patils (village headman) and Maratha Deshmukhs (regional administrators). In Orissa, Brahmin influence remained confined to small areas around the royal palaces.

Untouchability – It is alleged that untouchability was an integral part of caste system and kept Shudras at bay. This allegation is not wholly correct. Shudra community had always remained the nerve-system of Indian society. It performed essential social and economic tasks and provided different kinds of services, whether in agricultural or other sectors, to the whole of society living in their respective regions.

As said earlier, relations between various castes were expressed in terms of the ideas of hygiene, cleanliness and purity.[iv] Caste Hindus were very particular about eating dressed food, because it became stale very quickly in the past. Undressed food or fruits were regarded pure, whatever hands it came from. As far as Shudras causing pollution was concerned, Shore said that despite British being so powerful and the ruling community, Indians called even Whites as ‘Mlechch” meaning not clean in their mannerism. They were treated at par with the lowest natives in all social functions. But still a Brahmin in the service of Englishmen never hesitated in doing his duties. Certainly the lower castes are more tenacious on the subject of their caste than the higher. A low caste man, if asked for a drop of water from his pot will often refuse, A Rajput or a Brahmin will not only consent, but will show his respect by offering it decently. [v]

 

It was also alleged that laws of punishment were mild for caste Hindus, but severe and horrible for Shudras.[vi] Shore said that it was impossible to say laws never were stringent for lower castes. Probably it might have occurred very seldom by a very bigoted prince or a bigoted Brahmin. The horrible punishment to lower class did not exist, in general, during his times, nor had they been, perhaps for centuries, held in any more estimation, terror or respect, practically than bull or anathimas issued by Pope Gregory the Seventh in England.

 

Many liberal British thinkers conceded that it was not so much the social apathy, which kept the lower strata away from prosperity as, their ignorance, poverty, illiteracy and necessity to earn their livelihood right from an early age. They some liberal British thinkers of that period conceded that the criticism of caste system was over-drawn. Shore, governor general of India during 19th century, regarded caste fully as a civil and religious distinction. To him, its influence was so extensive, so minute and so intricate, as almost to defy generalization. To a certain extent, its influence may have had the injurious effects described, but infinitely less than was usually supposed and that too were wearing away.[vii] He said that many castes or groups lagged in the matter of modern education and employment in the government, because the business and administration of a large portion of India was being carried on in an alien language for centuries (First in Urdu and from 1844 onwards in English).

Strong points of caste system – Caste system took on different shades and meaning with the changing times and places. Its character kept on changing along with times. It was different in the context of village, locality, region or religion. Like other social institutions, caste system managed daily necessities and day to day relation of its members. It gave occupational guidance to its members, leading to excellence. It had an advantage of very long experience and deep thinking behind it[viii] Professor Shah says, Caste system was a long range or permanent plan embracing every class of society. It applied to every individual, regardless of age or other conditions.[ix] Normally social mobility from one group to another was not allowed. Permanent loss of caste was considered to be the greatest catastrophe for an individual, short of death penalty. Breaking the caste rules meant loss of caste, meaning complete ostracism or having no place in the society.

At its best, the caste system had wisely directed all the activities – social, political, intellectual or economic – into proper life functions and controlled its malfunctioning or di-sfunctioning. Caste system provided self-discipline, conscious, self-control, self-direction. It contributed to provide stability, all round growth of cultural heritage and development of the society.   The salient features of caste system were: –

  • Local character – Neither any caste took an All-India Character before British rule nor there had been nation-wide-hierarchy of castes earlier. Local semi-autonomous nature of Caste system made each community self-sufficient and capable to fulfill all the needs of its people locally.
  • System showed a high regard for knowledge, wisdom, virtues, characters and will power.
  • Whereas, Western cultures have grown around the idea of `rights forming the natural foundation of human relationship, caste system evolved around the concept of duty, tolerance and sacrifice. Emphasis on duty usually makes a person or a group humble and tolerant.
  • In Western societies, wealth had always been associated with power, authority and social status. India was never a materialistic society. Caste system separated wealth from status, power from authority, pursuit and achievement in knowledge from temptations of worldly comforts.
  • Though the caste system believed in segmental ranking of different caste groups, according to their relevance and contribution to the society, it placed all the individuals, within a caste group – rich or poor – on the same footing.
  • Local semi-autonomous nature of Caste system made each community self-sufficient and capable to fulfill all the needs of its people locally.
  • There was a close bond between individual and the society and individual and the occupation through caste. It held its members together.
  • The unique feature of caste system was that it provided work and employment to everyone. There was no dearth of employment opportunities for persons willing to work
  • Originally Varna and then Caste system were based on the principle of division of labor. All the functions needed for the maintenance and growth of the society were distributed among different caste groups according to its attitude and aptitude.
  • Assignment of work was done on the basis of tendencies, potentialities, limitations, traits and character of a caste-group. It assigned different activities to different groups according to its natural endowment, qualities, attitude and aptitudes. It taught people not to blame others. `Adharma (immoral behavior), Alasya (laziness) and Agyan (ignorance) were held responsible for evils, exploitation, and miseries of the people.
  • Don Martindale said that India possessed a reservoir of natural leaders – Brahman trained in literary skills and Kashitryas in art of leadership.
  • 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.
  • The Caste system transmitted the traits of a trade, intelligence abilities, experiences, values and skills from one generation to another in a natural way.
  • Elders of every caste-group took care of maintaining discipline within the caste and helped the members, who were weak and helpless.
  • Considerations of self-discipline, hygiene and cleanliness on the basis of climatic conditions of the region were given importance.

The caste was so strong that when the world was passing through the Dark Age, India was full of light. The first few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. During this period, arts, commerce, crafts, philosophy and knowledge flourished magnificently. 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.

Factors that changed Caste-system – The face of caste system changed tremendously with the following developments done during the British rule: –

Introduction of Modern Education – In 1835, modern Education system was introduced by Lord Macaulay. People got access to the enlightened spirit of many liberal thinkers, like Locke, Mill Roussseau, 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. In due course of time, it produced many national leaders. Modern education itself equipped them with the intellectual tools, with which they fought the oppressive British Raj.

Modern education also highlighted the weaknesses, rigidity and harshness of caste system towards weaker sections of the society. It had attracted the attention of the people towards social evils, that had developed in the system.

It gave access to all sections of Indian society to get educated irrespective of caste or creed though Muslims (because Muslims were more dependent on the use of sword) and other non- Brahmin communities lagged behind in matter of modern education. Brahmins, who had previously involved in the process of learning were, were quicker to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Modern education. It brought social awakening and awareness amongst masses about their rights.

But, simultaneously, it disassociated a large number of Indian intelligentsia from their traditional way of learning, classical roots and knowledge. With it, faded Indian values, philosophies and traditions. It divided the Indian people. It loosened the bonds of caste system. They lost their faith in caste system. A group of Indian intelligentsia started feeling the caste system to be indefensible.

Modern means of transport – The modern means of transport and communications brought to an end the local character of caste system, shortened distances and made mobility faster and easier. Small local castes, confined within a small area earlier, grew in size, embracing a much wider area than before. Many caste organizations emerged and entered into region-wise caste alliances. It 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 leaders.

Industrialization – The Company’s rule had reduced India to a producer of raw material and market of their products.   During its rule, India missed out first few phases of Industrial revolution – one that revolutionized agriculture and textile production. Second one occurring in the first half of the 19th century, which was based on capital goods industry and the third during the last quarter of the 19th century, when science was fused with technology. Thus, India remained to produce low technology, low productivity, low wage and low profit items. As against this, Britain, along with other European nations, was producing high technology, high productivity, high wage and high profit commodities. It left India economically far behind the advanced nations. And within India, industrialization had eroded the authority of caste and kinship in matters of occupation. Many new occupations emerged giving choice of occupation, accessibility to which was through modern education, knowledge of English language and loyalty to British. It was no more through caste affiliations. Industrialization led to the decay of village industries as the competition was directly with the cheap machine goods. It also led to urbanization.

Apathy of Imperial rulers for indigenous arts and craft – The British discouraged local genius, cottage industries and fine arts. It made many traditional occupations obsolete. Many castes of rural artisans, craftsman and traditional occupations abandoned their traditional work. They either migrated to cities as industrial labor or became agriculture labor. The British apathy towards indigenous skills, knowledge and occupations pushed millions backward in a very subtle manner and loosened the sanctity of caste rules and caste consciousness in matters of occupation. This, in order to get hold on modern occupations, led to inter-caste rivalries, social tensions and group conflicts among Indians. The erosion of traditional pattern of occupation divided Indian people into the following three groups: –

Ø         People, for whom work was essential for survival

Ø             People, who were educated and loved to work for self-advancement and prosperity (Middle class people).

Ø             People, who lived on other’s labor benefiting from their position in society.

 

New legal system – Earlier discipline and order was maintained by Shastric and customary laws. The sense of duty to one’s caste was wide spread in traditional social order. Caste matters were decided by their respective caste councils. The establishment of nationwide civil, criminal and commercial legal system by British and its uniform application to all castes and communities eroded the authority of caste-system tremendously. It granted equality before law and equal access to all castes and communities. In their search for a Uniform law code, the British studied hard. They took help of some centers of learning, regarded to be the stronghold of Brahmins. For the first time a uniform, supposedly Brahminical legal system, became operational over Hindu Community, on an all India level. It took control of the political, economic and social apparatus of the country. Positive laws of State were also enacted. The effect of these measures was that a clear line was drawn, which demarcated the areas between the caste control of personal behavior of its members and the new administration of justice. The authority of caste groups in matters of civil rights was diminished, but in other spheres, it received legitimization from the courts in the form of caste autonomy. Section 8 of Bengal Regulation III of 1793 made a beginning in Administration of justice in new direction, Bombay Regulation II of 1827 made further change and in 1850, the Caste Disabilities Act (Act 21 of 1850) further eroded the authority of caste laws.

 

The new settlement policy – The British Settlement Policy differed from region to region depending upon the geography, history and customs. Jamindari system prevailed in Bengal, Orissa and Oudh, Ryotwari in Bombay and Madras, Villagewari in Delhi and Punjab, Malguzari in Central Provinces and Mahalwari in Northwest Province. The new land revenue system led to the rise of a new class of landlords, who wholeheartedly supported the British rule. Policy of Permanent Settlement led to the growth of absentee landlords living in luxury in towns and fleecing the tenants at will. The British policy of land revenue extracted as exorbitant amounts as possible from the peasants, which compelled the cultivators to live at the mercy of landlords, for the fear of eviction.

 

The poor farmers were caught into the clutches of moneylenders. The impoverishment of cultivators grew due to rack-renting, high rates of interest and uneconomic cultivation, resulting in large-scale alienation of land. Marginal farmers became landless laborers. The vast majority of people belonging to peasants, artisans sunk in poverty and misery.

 

The exploitative policies of British overcrowded the agricultural sector. With it grew resentment of Indian subjects towards the authority. The mutiny at Vellore in 1806, Barrakpore in 1824, Ferozepore in 1842, followed by the meeting of 7th Bengal Cavalry, the kol insurrection of 1831-32, the revolt of the kings of Kangra, Jaswar and Datarpur, the Santhal rising in 1855-56 and the revolt of 1857 throughout India are a few examples of peoples’ resentment to early British rule. The oppressive policies of British created a new class of landless laborers, which came to be known, later on, as Scheduled Castes. The British drained the wealth and resources of India in a most systematic, shrewd and unjust way.

The economic exploitation, economic drain and repressive attitude submerged the masses in ignorance, enfeebled by diseases and oppressed by wants.[x] In 1880, WT. Thortan confessed that the annual tribute, tapped India’s very heart blood and dried up the mainspring of her industrial position.[xi] Sir William Hunter remarked, there remains forty million Indians, who go through life on insufficient food.[xii]

 

Increasing disparities – Access to modern education, new opportunities of gain and legal redress was not available to the masses, because the education was expensive and its mode of instruction was an alien language – the English. The new opportunities based on modern education, therefore, were inaccessible to poor. The expensive legal procedure, involved in getting justice, could favour the `haves and poor could hardly afford to appeal and seek justice. All this developed a new kind of inequality. The emergence of new classes with new education, job and legal profile coupled with changed behavior of old surviving classes added to confusion and made Indian society A complicated organism with extremely variegated and antagonistic social forces struggling for their respective interests within it.[xiii]

 

Census Operations – Under British rule the process of Census operation began with the purpose to gather information for administrative purposes/conveniences. 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. British anthropologists worked very hard to collect data and to catalogue various castes and tribes. 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.

British rulers did not hesitate to exploit information/data on social, demographic, linguistics, religious and cultural diversities of India collected through census operations. 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.

Caste was a flexible and fluid unit of Indian society. Census operations made it rigid. They codified the castes and standardized the system by placing all the jatis into four Varnas or in the categories of outcastes and aborigines.

Middleton, a Census Superintendent accepted, 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. Caste, in itself, was rigid among the higher castes, but malleable amongst the lower…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.”

 

Thus, Census operations destroyed the flexibility of caste system, led to an all-round hardening of social-system and to frantic effort by each group-for upward mobility. The first volume of Man in 1901 (the Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute) noted, The entire framework of native life in India is made up of groups of castes and tribes, and status and conduct of individuals are, largely, determined by the rules of the group, to which he belonged. Risley’s efforts, in 1901 census, of recording and putting in order numerous castes in hierarchical order like modern Manu had fossilized, imparting it a solidity, it did not have earlier.[xiv] Therefore, the Census operations instigated caste consciousness, caste animosities and made caste a tool in political, religious and cultural battles, that Hindus fought amongst themselves.

Like modern Manu, The census operations divided all the castes and communities into following groups – Brahmins, Non-Brahmins, Muslims, Anglo-Indians, untouchables, non-Hindu Communities and backward castes. This division remained a by-word even for the present leaders of Independent India.

 

Electoral Politics and Casteism – With census operations and the start of electoral politics started caste calculations, caste chemistry and pure casteism. The British authorities were aware that, in the Hindu society, caste opinion and caste loyalties always remained a cohesive regulatory force and the easiest, quickest and the most powerful mode to communicate. They were also aware of the influence of Brahmins over the whole society.

 

While introducing electoral politics in India, the British purposely and successfully 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 caste-system and the Brahmin community. 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. Since then, their influence in politics has been growing continuously.

 

Ideological attack on the system by Imperial rulers – Rulers launched an ideological attack on caste-system. 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 Social structure and its practices.

 

The Government of India Act of 1858 brought an end to company’s rule and placed India directly under the Crown. With it ended the era of expansion and commercial exploitation and the nation ushered into the era of economic exploitation and policy of divide and rule. Through sophisticated ways, the British imperialists created differences between different castes and communities, and developed a complex in Indian minds about their heritage and caste system. The British gathered information, exploited material relating to social, demographic, linguistics, religious and cultural diversities of India and flared up caste animosities. They exaggerated the distortions developed into the system and carefully avoided telling the whole truth or strong points of Indian culture. The European teachers, missionaries, bureaucrats and British easily put all the blame on caste system for peoples’ poverty, misery and deprivation. They made caste appear as one of the greatest scourges of the country, which doomed large classes of men, to mental and physical degradation and kept them away from education, prosperity and honour. Caste system, to them created an iniquitous society, exploitative and oppressive by nature, which fostered caste-conflicts and caste rivalries.

 

Conclusion

Many liberal British thinkers of that period conceded that the criticism of caste system was over-drawn. Viceroy Shore, governor general of India during 19th century, regarded caste fully as a civil and religious distinction. To him, its influence was so extensive, so minute and so intricate, as almost to defy generalization. To a certain extent, its influence may have had the injurious effects described, but infinitely less than was usually supposed and that too were wearing away.[xv] He pointed out that many castes or groups lagged in the matter of modern education and employment in the government, because the business and administration of a large portion of India was being carried on in an alien language for centuries (First in Urdu and from 1844 onwards in English).

They alo accepted that it was not so much, the social apathy, which kept the lower strata away from prosperity as ignorance, poverty, illiteracy and necessity to earn their livelihood right from an early age. For many Europeans and British, it was a difficult task to understand and appreciate the role of caste system in totality. They were mystified by the amazing pluralities and unique social structure, because of its being an indigenous system, conceptualized, developed and practiced exclusively in India. Its complete localization and unfamiliarity with the rest of world made the task more difficult. The charges, that British put on caste system were not wholly correct.

Winding up

In the end it can be concluded that seeds of dis-chord  sown by British rulers before independence,  blossomed in full after Independence especially after 1990s, when Indian politicians with vested interests tried their bes. There was a rat between them to grab  political power and perpetuate anyway – by hook or crook, as long as possible.

 

[i] Zelliot, Dr. Ambedkar and Mahar Movement, P48.

[ii] Shah TK, Ancient Foundation of Economics, p 3, Times of India, dated 10.4.94.

[iii] Indian Express, dated 18.9.90, p 8.

[iv] Srinivas, MN, Social Change in Modren India,

[v] Shore, Ibid. Pp 567-477

[vi] Ward, cited in Shore, p 66.

[vii] Hon’ble Fredrick John Shore, Indian Affairs, pp474.479

[viii] Prabhu Pandharinath H. Ibid pp 90-97.

[ix] Shah TK, Ancient Foundation of Economies, Times of India, dated April 10,1994, p3.

[x] Tarachand, History of Freedom Movement in India, Vol.I, pp283-84.

[xi] Annie Besant, India – A Nation, pp98-99.

[xii] Fisher FB, India’s Silent Revolution, pp37-38.

[xiii] Desai AR, Social Background of Indian Nationalism, p176.

[xiv] Das Veena and Kagal Ayesha, Through the Prism of Clerkdom, Times of India, dated September 16, 1990, p2.

[xv] Hon’ble Fredrick John Shore, Indian Affairs, pp474.479

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | | Leave a comment

Development Administration

DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION:

In the post war period in general, development consciousness and development efforts, emerged in the new nations of Asia, Africa, Latin America and parts of Europe, required a civil service of integrity, equipped with administrative ability and practical sagacity for development. Ferrel Heady1 says, “The importance of administration is almost universally recognised among commentators on development. Usually an effective bureaucracy is coupled with a rigorous modernizing elite as a pre-requisite for progress”. 

Development and Development Administration

The term `Development’ is explained in dictionaries as `end oriented’.   It is defined as a growth into a better, fuller, higher and mature condition. In the context of post war efforts at development, the term development also means a state directed and planned effort at change. Mr. Bata K. Dey1 says, “Development is a total plan of action, to bring about a directed or guided change in all aspects of social activity geared to national progress, with a heavy import of achievement of pragmatic goals”. If such is the meaning of development, naturally, the government and administration are jointly and deeply involved.

The administration concerned with developmental activities is called “development administration”. Development Administration is actually an action and goal-oriented administrative system geared to realize definite pragmatic values. These values are usually referred to as `nation-building’ and socio-economic progress’. Weldner2 defines Development Administration as “the process of guiding an organization towards the achievement of progressive political, economic and social objectives that are authoritatively determined in one manner or another”.

Fainsod3 , considers development administration as “a carrier of innovating values”, which also “ordinarily involves the establishment of machinery for planning economic growth and mobilization and allocating resources to expand national income”. Panandikar4 defined it as an “administration of planned change”. William J. Siffin5 says, “the essence of development administration is holistic change undertaken through integrated, organized and properly directed governmental action”.

Institution-building 

J.N. Khosla4 points out “Development Administration not only envisages achievements of goals in a particular area of development by making a system more efficient, it must also reinforce the system imparting an element of stability as well as resilience to meet the requirements of future developmental challenges. Apart from putting emphasis on `pragmatic goals’, `innovating values’ or `holistic change’, also required is the `development design strategy’.

William Siffin and Milton Esman says there should be a focus on ‘Institution Building’. Siffin emphasizes that the essence of development is not to maintain, but to create effective institutions as and when required. For it, Development Administration needs efficient institutions having “ability to design, problem solving and making arrangements (involving technology)”.

Maximum utilization of all the resources

In the words of Donald Stone3 Development Administration is the blending of all the elements and resources (men, money and material) into a concerted effort to achieve agreed upon goals. It is the continuous cycle of formulating, evaluating and implementing inter-related plans, policies, programs, projects, activities and other measures to reach established development objectives in a scheduled time sequence. 

Role of Bureaucracy in development Administration 

According to Charles T.Goodsell2, Bureaucracy/civil services are essentially a mechanism for processor to provide planning and an institutional infrastructure to convert inputs of objectives, capital and know-how into developmental outputs. Valson1 says that owing to the other pre-occupation of political leadership and its lack of technical know-how, the role of civil service in policy making, which in theory is advisory, has become actually a determining one.

Main responsibilities of Bureaucracy for making Development successful

Converting policies into directive plans, programs and projects is an inevitable function of action oriented development bureaucracy. At higher levels, the development administration has to see policy formulation, goals and strategy; appropriations and allocations of funds; fixing priorities; execution of policy; direction and training. The middle level is usually responsible for learning and interpreting; energizing and supervising; coordination and collection of information. The lower level undertakes the role of mass contacts, demonstration of innovations, introduction of new institutions and collection of taxes.

Requirements of Development Bureaucracy

The following are the requirements needed for the personnel/civil servants engaged in development administration should have –

  • Mental framework – A scientific outlook. They should be progressive, innovative, reformist and even revolutionary in mental attitudes and approaches. They should never be rigid.
  • Knowledge – They should have enough knowledge in their respective areas of the work – be it in the field science, technology or general administration.
  • Skills – They require conceptual skills – ability for innovative thinking, problem – analysis, planning skills, technical skills, managerial skills and human skills.
  • Vision – A bureaucrat working for development administration requires the vision of a statesman and not that of either narrow-minded politicians or a rule-minded bureaucrat. Along with vision is required dynamism, integrity, drive and passion to convert dreams into reality.
  • Structures – Development Administration requires less hierarchical and more team-like structures such as Commissions, Boards, Corporations etc.

Behavior – The behavioral pattern should consist of (a) action and achievement orientation (b) responsiveness (c) responsibility (d) all round smooth relations inside with juniors and seniors and outside with clientele and the public (e) commitment to development ideologies and goals.

Besides, there should be –

  • A working partnership between the civil servants and the people.
  • Transparency in their working
  • A sense of service, a spirit of dedication, a feeling of involvement and a will to sacrifice for the public welfare.
  • A pragmatic application of the basic democratic principles. Higher civil servants should provide the required leadership to the lower levels of administration.
  • Constant field inspection by senior officials.
  • to provide the government with the ability to be in constant contact with the people; and
  • to make the people conscious that the government is alive to their problem;
  • Smooth relation between generalist administrators and experts specialists.
  • Training from time to time to understand the success already achieved in the field of development administration and the efforts to be initiated in future.

Weaknesses of Development Administration

According to Valson1, the higher-level development bureaucracy suffers from four constraints:

  • disagreements with political bosses;
  • the relatively better economic and social status of civil servants;
  • Supremacy of seniority and patronage than qualifications in promotions; and
  • Unwillingness of bureaucrats to accept new ideas and technology for fear of loss of power and positions.

Middle level is constrained by: –

  • conflict between young and old minds in civil service;
  • a high level of corruption;
  • low commitment to development; and conflict with higher level development bureaucracy and local politicians.

The lower level is facing:

  • insufficient qualifications;
  • poor salary;
  • loss of morale and loss of faith in development ideology due to frustrating field experience; and
  • loss of initiative, crippling subservience to seniors and sacrifice to developmental objectives.   

According to Ferrel Heady1, the main hindrances on the way of effective development are:

  • The growing gap between the rich and the poor nations or between different social strata within a nation. By seventies, the decaying trends had become noticeable in all the nations of developing world.   Events like fast developments in the developed countries and a crisis with liberal democracy in the developing or under-developed nations in seventies and the early eighties have dampened most traces of early optimism.
  • By the late sixties, a spirit of frustration and despair with `development administration’ and with `development’ in general had set in. For one thing, it became evident that externally induced modernization had failed to eradicate the basic problems of under-developed sections of society, it purported to solve. Whilst some significant increase in GNP had indeed taken place, poverty, disease and hunger had either worsened or remained unaltered.

Decaying trends

All developing nations have inherited many things from their past. Their colonial heritage has meant

  • a carry-over of the colonial bureaucratic traditions like elitism, authoritarianism, aloofness, red-tapism and paternalistic tendencies;
  • There is a lack of incentive for talented and skilled for manpower necessary for development program. It is caused by inadequacies and deficiencies in the educational system, recruitments, training schemes and brain drain.
  • There is lack of achievement orientation. The emphasis of civil servants is usually not on program goals, but on personal expediency, status-consciousness, and pleasing the political bosses. Reason for this is the persistence of traditional value system. Results of this tendency are `institutionalized’ and `socially sanctioned’ large-scale corruption and `over-staffing’ in lower bureaucracy.
  • Discrepancy between form and reality. There is wide gulf between the administrative form and reality due to a superficial change to modernizing values and substantial continuation of the traditional ideas. As a result, we find superfluous and excessive legislation or rules (which are normally violated), false delegations and decentralizations, eye-washing/superficial reports and continuing backwardness.

Due to all these factors like colonial tradition; monopoly of some elite civil services over technical and professional services; excessive control of general administrators services involved in the sustainable development of infra-structure sector of the nation; coercive power gained by some self-serving politicians; the tiredness, near absence of strong political leadership; committed bureaucracy etc. have all made it more self-serving rather than working for development oriented administration.

Remedy   

 

An appropriate designing and sincere shaping of the civil service for making the administrative system an effective instrument for achieving developmental goals can be done –

  • Development Administration mainly requires increasing the effectiveness of the human resource of administration termed as personnel or civil service.
  • For increasing effectiveness in administration, the entire personnel system should be efficient.
  • The role of the higher civil servants or the managerial cadre of service is always more important. As in development administration, they have to gear up their capacity to deal with continuous changes with vision, values, ideas, and monitor effective implementation of plans and programs of the government and its evaluation.

Conclusion

Making bureaucracy/civil service capable for development administration and achieve its goals within expected time is not an impossible thing. It requires a development of administration itself. Development of Administration means “a pattern of increasing effectiveness in the utilization of available means to achieve prescribed goals”. It can be done –

  • through patterning the Administrative structure; and
  • through patterning the behavior of civil servants.

Behavioural changes in bureaucratic patterns are obviously more important. These dimensions can be achieved either through reforms (structural) or through proper education and training of higher civil servants.

March 16, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wisdom/Enlightenment and empowerment

 “Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.” Lao Tzu

Introduction 

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating.”(Kofi Annan) – Everybody desires to be empowered enough to lead a peaceful and comfortable life-style. But how? Hardly anyone tries to understand. Quite often, while talking about empowerment, many intellectuals and political leaders are trapped within the caucus of economic and political empowerment, not the real one. The real empowerment comes from within. Do not wait for any outside agency , government or society for power to be given.

Therefore instead of empowerment, emphasis should be more on enlightenment – enlightenment through wisdom. Wisdom is required to choose the right path, generate positive energies and saves human mind from confusion as what to do and what not. For enlightenment and wisdom, knowledge is important. Knowledge is necessary for giving deeds or actions its due meaning, direction and value. Kofi Annan comments “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating.” Liberation to do what one wants to do is empowerment.

Politics on empowerment – Today in political world, leaders talk about empowerment. Politics and government is there mainly to take care of its people and look-after their welfare. Merely talking about empowerment does not empower the people or leads to their sustainable development. Sri Sri Ravi Shanker says, “If everyone understood this, the country will gain a lot. We need to spiritualize politics, socialize business and secularize religion. Devoid of spirituality, politics breeds corruption.”

Wisdom/Enlightenment, “Knowing others, is intelligence, knowing yourself is true wisdom” – Hindu philosophy shows high regards for wisdom/knowledge, virtues, characters and will power. According to it, senses are superior to body, mind is superior to senses and knowledge/wisdom/intellect is superior to mind.  Bhagwat Gita’ suggests that human action/deed needs to be combined with wisdom/intellect for enlightenment and empowerment.

According to Hindu philosophy, the whole world of activities is a result of complex intermixing of three basic qualities of human nature – goodness (Satwa), Passion (Rajas) and dullness (Tamas). `Goodness is associated with purity, peace and knowledge; `Passion with comfort and action; and `Tamas with ignorance, sloth, sleep and carelessness.

These qualities determine the tendencies, potentialities, limitations, traits and character of individuals and give them direction for action. `Adharma (immoral behavior), Alasya (laziness) and Agyan (ignorance) are responsible for negative behavior like becoming victims of evils, unhappiness and miseries.

 Balance between desires and righteousness – People should be empowered enough to enjoy material success and fulfil all worldly desires. If  desires are suppressed, one day it may erupt like a volcano and create troubles. But simultaneously, it is also necessary to achieve one’s dreams in a right way and keep a balance between desires and righteousness. It is the wisdom that balances the two and leads to the path of knowledge and righteousness.

Materialism influences most of the people in modern times. It is difficult for  them to resist worldly temptations. The desire to enjoy sensual pleasures and be happy without much efforts traps them in a vicious circle. To save  their comfort-zone encourages, they desire to hold enough economic and political power in their hands, so that they can do what they want and control the destiny of masses. People with weak minds  easily become the victims of such ambitious leaders. Their ignorance makes their efforts futile and destroys their sense of direction. Awareness, knowledge and discipline needs to be inculcated amongst poor masses to empower them and save them from  negative forces. Wisdom/intellect needs to be developed to make their mind strong and deeds rational. A mind governed by wisdom makes a person empowered, calm and content.

Empowerment – Meaning of empowerment and approach to be empowered differ from person to person and place to place. As Toffler says, there are three main sources of power – ‘knowledge, wealth, and muscle’. In a way, ‘empowerment is an inter-play of all these variables. During ancient times in agricultural societies, power was mainly based on force. After Industrial Revolution, wealth was the source of power and in modern times, it is mainly based on knowledge.

Power achieved through money or force is short-lived. It can never lead to sustainable development of the poor and needy people. In agricultural society, power was based on force, in industrial societies on wealth and now in present information -technology period, it is based on knowledge. long long ago, even Chanakya also believed that knowledge is wealth. Knowledge was his greatest weapon, strength, asset and power through which he created emperors like Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka.

Positive and negative energies – There are choices before human beings to follow the path of positive thinking or opt for negative mindset. Developing positive attitude/thinking is not an easy task. For attaining it, one needs tremendous perseverance, hard work, and dedication and determination/will power.

Style of thinking and working of people with positive or negative attitude differs very much from each other. People having positive attitude are empowered in its true sense. Positive energies develops the mind, enlarges the vision, enlightens and guides a person to take wise actions with using one’s intellect or wisdom.   

Negative mindset – Negative mindset makes mind weak. Actions taken with weak mind is bridled with suspicion, lust and desires – mainly depending on emotions, impulses, hatred, greed and selfishness. It, quite often leads to agitation/aggression and discontentment.

Role of wisdom in empowerment – It is a reality that it is wisdom that empowers a human being and enlightens his/her path. Wisdom can be achieved:

  1. Through reflection, which is the noblest;
  2. Through imitation, which is easiest and
  3. By experiencing, which is the bitterest.”

Role of empowerment – ‘Empowerment’ or sharing of power has become a keyword of the modern political world. In politics, everything revolves around the world ’empowerment’.

Problems created by over-emphasizing ‘empowerment – Following are some of the problems –

  • Split in society – Recently, focus on empowerment has created split in society. The attention of the people on empowerment has given rise to the pursuance of sectional interests.
  • Encouragement to sectional interests over national interests – In the name of ‘empowerment’, various pressure groups are encouraged by the authorities to pursue their own sectional interests. Almost all the political parties make different kinds of promises to ‘empower’ the upcoming or deprived groups. They do not even hesitate to adopt such populist/paternalistic policies, which are against the national interest in a long run.
  • Means to grab the political power – Present day politicians care for knowledge only up-to the extent, so far as it enhances their chances of entering into the corridors of ‘power’ and control the levers of authority.
  • Rat race – Attitude to be ‘one up’ does not encourage healthy competition. Rather it pushes individuals/groups towards ‘rat-race’, pulls others down and care only for ‘I, my and me”.
  • Increasing corruption and manipulation – With this sole mission in their mind, most of the upcoming politicians concentrate on amassing more and more wealth/empires to buy muscle-power and conscience of common man. They concentrate their efforts/energies to acquire as much money as they can by hook or crook. There is no limit to their greed. The only mission is to hold so much economic and political power in their hands, so that they could lead a luxurious life-style on tax-payers money and whenever they or their supporters are caught doing something wrong, they can get away easily.
  • The word ‘empowerment’ exclusive not inclusive in nature – Empowerment, by nature is ‘exclusive’, which separates individuals/different sections of society starts a cut-throat competition amongst different individuals/sections of society/nations. The word ‘Empowerment’ generates excessive desire in individuals to establish their superiority/authority over others, so that they can control the destiny of others.

True Knowledge necessary for enlightenment – For enlightenment, acquisition of true knowledge is necessary. It is knowledge, which inculcates in a person, qualities like self-confidence, self-reliance, self-discipline, self-control and self-respect.

Sound education necessary for enlightenment as well as empowerment – True knowledge inculcates positive attitude, which ultimately leads towards happiness and prosperity.Wisdom depends on knowledge. Sound education is necessary to make people knowledgeable.

 Negative mindset – People with negative mind-set care about knowledge only up-to the extent, that enhances their chances of entering into the corridors of ‘power’, get control over levers of authority and over the destiny of masses. They concentrate on amassing wealth/empires to buy muscle-power and conscience of poor people.

In political world, politicians and political parties are generally not much interested in maintaining law and order in the country. They are more interested in propaganda, creation of vote banks and grabbing power – become PM (Prime Minister), CM (Chief Minister), DM  (District Magistrates) and GM (General Manager) by hook or crook and thus accessing more  space  in the corridor of power, so that they can control the destiny of masses/common men and hold the reigns of state authority.

Role of enlightenment in a democracy – Atifete Jahjaga has rightly said, “Democracy must be built through open  societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, rule of law and accountability, there is abuse, corruption…”

Many superficial measures are being taken by the government or other organizations (governmental or NGOs) to help and empower poor and underprivileged sections of society. But it has not yielded desired results. Why, because no superficial measure or action can empower any person or section of society. The efforts for empowerment should be from within – be it an individual, a group within a society, a society or a nation.”

The enforced measures of empowerment leads to conflicts and even denial of the rights to other section/sections of society. One’ own efforts and intellect can empower a person in its true sense and guide him how to apply his knowledge gainfully. Lack of intellect leads a person to vices like egoism, superiority/inferiority complex etc. and creates many problems for him as well as for others around him. Only intellect can control human mind and lead his mind towards Enlightenment. When intellect becomes weak, negative thinking and reasoning take over mind.

How to become empowered – Lao Tzu says “Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.” True empowerment can be achieved not through holding political power or access/entry/influence in the corridors of authority/power, but through ‘Enlightenment’/true wisdom’.

Emphasis only on empowerment leads to rat race – Present day’s scenario more emphasis is given to “Empowerment” without understanding what ‘empowerment’ really means and how to make people really empowered. Such an approach has led to a rat race between different sections of society for being one-up by hook or crook.

Too much emphasis on the word ‘empowerment’ incites/agitates the minds of people and generates negative energy in them. It has done irreparable loss to the society and given rise to different kinds of problems.

‘Empowerment’ of ‘Haves-nots – Almost all the societies are divided into two sections – ‘haves’ and ‘haves-not’. There is unrest in the minds of ‘Haves-not’. They also desire and naturally so, to lead a peaceful and comfortable life-style. Modern politicians allure poor by talking too much about ‘empowerment’. They are not concerned so much about the advancement of poor section of society, as about creating vote-banks necessary for holding the reigns of state authority/power.

False promises to allure poor masses – In the modern materialistic and consumerist world, everyday many new gadgets are coming in the market every-day, which makes the life more comfortable. But for majority of people, it is difficult to afford it. Many a times, it becomes difficult for the poor people or persons with weak minds to resist the temptations. False promises of present day politicians attract such persons easily.

Enlightenment ‘inclusive’ by nature – Enlightenment develops respect for positive attitude, right knowledge and respect for truth and ethical values. It teaches people ‘United we stand, divided we fall’. It inculcates in people an attitude to work for common good, to support each other and move forward together. It guides people to keep their ‘ego’ under control. The only way to control it lies within each human being.

Acceptance for others – Enlightenment tells people to be respectful to others knowledge. Access to knowledge through sound system of education is the basic right of every human being. As Jyotirao Phule has said “Lack of ‘Education’ leads to lack of ‘Wisdom’; which leads to lack of ‘Morals’; which leads to lack of ‘Progress’; which leads to lack of ‘Money’; ‘which leads to ‘Oppression’ of vulnerable classes.”

Conclusion – ‘Enlightenment, not empowerment, is the real source of power’. ‘Enlightenment’ through self-introspect can only lead to sustainable development and true ‘empowerment’, not through extraneous/artificially/superficially imposed measures. Focus on ‘empowerment’ by superficial means quite often leads to negative attitude. ‘Enlightenment’ through right kind of knowledge makes people intelligent, generates positive energies in them and leads to their sustainable development.

Resist temptations? – For making mind strong enough to resist temptations, one has to raise the level of consciousness. Human mind has three dimensions – conscious, sub-conscious and super-conscious mind. Once the conscious mind is regulated, sub-conscious and super-conscious state of mind automatically gets controlled.
Conscience is always guided by intellect. Intellect automatically develops the inherent potential of individuals and keeps them away from lust and greed. Only ‘intellect’, knowledge, education and positive attitude of enlightened persons can make them so powerful that they can contribute to make a difference for betterment and not to indulge themselves in sinful activities for their self-interest. It would ultimately bring in prosperity and transform the whole society.

February 18, 2017 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

Rights and duties

“A society that puts equality (of outcome) ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom and force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.”  Thomas Sowell        

Born free, but everywhere in chains – An individual is born free, but in real life, s(he) finds oneself in chains all the time.

An individual as social-person  – A Famous philosopher Aristotle says – man is a social animal. “if a human being does not live with men or amongst men, then surely either he is god or a beast.” While living in a society, one is not supposed to care only for one’s own-self,  one’s own comfort zone, one’s own liberty/rights/needs/conveniences, and unmindful of others’. 

Rights and duties intertwined – Rights and duties are so intriguingly intertwined with each other that one cease to exist without the other. One’s rights become other people’s duties and others rights his/her own duties. Clear-cut vision and a balanced approach towards one’s rights and duties is a must for any matured/civilized society.

Fine and balanced tuning between rights and duties – A fine and balanced tuning between rights and duties is a must for any civilized society. For achieving it, effective systems of checks and balances over arbitrary use of one’s rights is a necessary.

In ancient Indian scriptures, for duties the word ‘Dharma’ is used. ‘Dharma’ embraced within itself different ideas and concepts like religion, law, duty, righteousness, morality and conformity with truth”, “ethics”, “spirituality”, or “responsibility” etc.

Whereas, Western cultures have grown around the idea of `rights forming the natural foundation of human relationship, India had evolved around the concept of duty, tolerance and sacrifice. Emphasis on duty usually makes a person or a group humble and tolerant. In Indian culture, sacrifice is regarded far more important than success, and renunciation is regarded as the crowning achievement.

All the people in the society were governed by Dharma at all times, be it a ruler or ruled, parent or child, teacher or student or man or woman (Prabhu, Pandarinath, H., Hindu Social organizations, P. 30).  The ideal of Dharma gave an abiding sense of purpose to the individual’s life, an aim to be actively striven for, cutting across class distinctions and caste boundaries, bridging the distance between rural and urban folk and between the illiterate and educated. Dharma enabled different groups to act cooperatively and to regulate the behavior of its component members.

During ancient India, Dharma guided individuals to remain true and to fulfil their duties earnestly. Molding one’s life according to Dharma is not an easy task. It requires tremendous will power and a strong character. Therefore, persons with weak faculties found it difficult to observe Dharma.

Such a system in India had prevented ancient India to exercise coercion against its working class, whereas in ancient Greece, Rome or other European countries, people were made to work under the threat of a whip. It stopped people from taking law in their own hands. While other nations passed through many bloody revolutions, Indian systems kept on adapting itself to changing times. It had filled the whole of society with a sense of duty and trained them in obedience. The sense of duty had helped the people to adjust themselves to most drastic changes in the past.  

Constitution of India on fundamental rights – The fundamental rights of Indian citizens are embodied in Part III of the original Constitution.

The Fundamental Rights guarantee civil rights to all Indians. The purpose of Fundamental rights  is to preserve individual liberty and democratic principles based on equality of all members of society. It prevents State authorities from encroaching on individual liberty. It also places  upon state an obligation to protect the citizen’s fundamental rights from encroachment by society.

Seven fundamental rights are provided by the constitution – right to equality, right to freedom, right against exploitation, right to freedom of religion, cultural and educational rights, right to property (Right to property was removed from Part III by 44th Amendment of Indian Constitution in 1978), and right to constitutional remedies.

Dr Ambedkar had said that the responsibility of the legislature is not just to provide fundamental rights but also and rather more importantly, to safeguard them. Fundamental Rights act as limitations on the power of legislature and executive, under Article 13, and in case of any violation of these rights the Supreme Court and the High Courts of States have the power to declare such legislative or executive action as unconstitutional and void. Article 12, includes not only the legislative and executive, but also local administrative authorities and other agencies and institutions which discharge public functions or are of governmental character.

 Fundamental Duties –— Fundamental Duties were introduced by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976. Article 51-A describes the duties of Indian citizens saying that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India: To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem; to cherish and follow the noble ideals etc.

Develops de-centralization of control systems – Balanced exercise of rights and duties automatically develops de-centralization of control systems, misuse of authority and prevents chaos. However, a balanced outlook towards rights and duties is very difficult.

Focus of Western and Eastern societies – Western societies give more stress to “rights” of an individual. On the other hand, in India and eastern part of the world, societies put more emphasis on “duty”. Both the systems leaves something more to be desired.

Duties/Dharma of an Individual according to Indian Philosophy – Principles of Dharma, Karma and Varna are the three pillars, on which the culture of traditional Indian society is based. Dharma , along with a ‘Religious Idea’ is also a ‘Principle’ and a ‘Vision’ of an organic society, in which all participating members are independent, yet their roles complimentary. 

What is Principle of Dharma – Dharma specifies duties, privileges and restrictions of each role separately and their relationship with each other. The principles of Dharma not only regulated the behavior of an individual within the community, but also provided universal, practical and eternal guidelines to be followed in personal life, family life, community life, social life, professional life and national life. The principle of give and take guides the human relationships. People are taught to lead a simple life free of covetousness, greed or lust.

There is  a  common  Dharma,  general  norms  of conduct, which are applicable to all individuals irrespective of caste or creed. These are nothing,  but   mannerism, leading individuals to the path of righteousness and values of good conduct,  Such as

  • Smritis teaches the people to follow ten principles of steadiness, forgiveness, self control, abstention from appropriating any thing belonging to others, purity, control, correct discernment, knowledge, truthfulness and absence from anger.
  • Kautilya lists harmlessness, truthfulness, purity, absence of spite, abstinence from cruelty and forgiveness as common duties of all persons as members of an organized society. He advised people to abandon lust, anger, greed, vanity, conceit, and overjoy. According to him desires fulfilled, never extinguished, but grew stronger. Therefore, desires should be directed in proper manner towards proper objectives.
  • Manusmriti guides people to control the five faculties of sense and five organs of actions. The purpose of education and learning should be to train the faculties of a person to channelize his/her  energies towards right activities. Discipline and productivity are necessary for education.

In order to maintain a smooth relationship of people belonging to different sections of society, Dharma prescribes a separate Dharma for appropriate to their nature and customs,  Separate Dharma for different sections of society, different classes and different stages of human life. It is based on attitude and aptitude, inherent qualities, and potentialities of its members at different stages in life. Dharma of Brahmin is not the same as that of a Shudra, or Dharma of a student not that of an old man. Separate rules of conduct have been aimed to inspire every one to perform one’s own duties and obligations, giving everybody opportunities- social, economic physical and spiritual – to do their jobs well and preserve the tradition and lifestyle of all communities.

Winding up – Too much importance to rights though gives more opportunities to enjoy life, but makes individuals selfish and unmindful of others conveniences. Too much importance on duties makes a person or a group too much humble, tolerant and submissive.

 

January 27, 2017 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | , | Leave a comment

Role of Bureaucracy in good governance

Introduction

Important variables in governance – Of all the acts of civilized society the task of governance is perhaps the most complex one. The governance is not done in vacuum. For the governance/administration of any country, amongst all, two variables are most important. One who governs, and two who is to be governed. It is the government of the country that governs. And it is people of the country, who are governed. The quality, the tools and the style of governance, therefore, depend on variables like the characteristic of the nation, its social structure, nature, behavior and their value system of its people.

Role of Bureaucracy in governance of a democratic country

How well the crucial role of bureaucracy in governance has been described  by Finer as following –

          “For the forms of government, let fools contest.That which is best administered is best.” And also,

          “But what is best must free man still decide. Lest leaders gull them and officials ride.”

Government that Governs

Amongst the three wings of government – Legislature, Executive and Judiciary, executive is responsible for governance/administration of a country. Executive consists of elected representatives of the people and bureaucracy. The Government roughly falls on the following two general processes: –

  • Process of politics, which consists of activities of the elected representatives of the people, and
  • Process of administration which consists of the activities of permanent civil servants/bureaucracy.

Role of Bureaucracy vis-à-vis elected representatives – One needs to understand, what is the role of both the wings – elected representatives and Bureaucracy in governance of a country?

Relation between the political and Bureaucratic/administrative wings of a government – That being so, an examination of the relation between the political and administrative wings of government would be the starting point for determining the role of civil service for delivering goods to public at large.

According to Fainsold (quoted from Administrative Culture, Need for conceptual Clarity and Further Rearch by Puranik, S.N. IJPA Sol., XXIV No. II April-June 1978 PP 467-468). famous thinker in the field of administration, the area of the activities of civil service depend upon-

  •  Relation with political authority;
  •  Range of functions which it performs
  •  Military dominated civil service as are in Bangla Desh, Pakistan, some nations  in Middle East or Africa,
  • Ruling Civil Service – as was in India before independence.

Bureaucracy an indispensable part of any political system – Bureaucracy has become a very potent and vital element of any government all over the world. It is an indispensable part of each and every political system be it a democracy, monarchy or aristocracy. It can exist in a type of society, be it a dictatorial or a democratic society. It role is crucial everywhere – in nations following the principles of communism or socialism or capitalism.

In theory – Theoretically the administrative machinery is subordinate to the political arm of a government. The decision making power rests with ministers. But bureaucracy assists the elected representatives of the people in governance of the country of administration. But, in practice, its role is very important in governance of a country.

Position of political chiefs vis-a-vis bureaucrats – Due to exclusive and specialized nature of work and the need for more and more expert knowledge in governance for improving the quality of service, the responsibility of political chiefs is becoming exceedingly formal in matter of governance. They are forced to listen the advice of the bureaucrats, who dig the expert knowledge from the raw material, give it a shape with a sense of commitment.

Bureaucracy’s importance, is of influence and not of power – The civil service’s role in relation to the ministers is that of influence and not of power. It is this administrative apparatus, which actually runs the government. Owing to other preoccupations of elected political leadership and its lack of technical know-how, the responsibility of bureaucrats in governance, policy making and its implementation, has become a determining factor. Converting policy into directive plans, programs and projects is an inevitable function of an action-oriented administration.

Bureaucracy a permanent link between successive elected governments – Elected representatives come for a fixed period. They come and go. But Bureaucracy is permanent, which forms a link between successive elected governments. Therefore, its becomes vital in guiding the social changes and development in desired direction, especially in the case of less developed or developing countries, where society is in a state of transition.

Importance of bureaucracy in governance – Being so, as far as governance in a country is concerned, bureaucracy could be regarded as the pillar, on which the entire structure of governance rests. Weakening of this pillar could only spell disaster[ii]. For any administration to be good and efficient as a whole, the right type of men placed in crucial positions of bureaucracy is more important than laying down rules and methods of operation.[iii]

What is Bureaucracy? Bureaucracy according to Max Weber – According to Max Weber2, whose study on bureaucracy has become a base for the modern exponents of the science of administration, the main characteristics of a civil service are as following:

  • Division of labour – defined rights and duties prescribed in written regulations;
  • Hierarchy – (a) Systematically ordered authority relationship;
  • Promotions regulated by merit and seniority;
  • Merit based selection and training – technical competence as a formal condition of employment;
  • Full time career-based service with fixed monetary salaries;
  • Impersonality – strict separation of office and incumbent in the sense that employee does not own the means of administration and cannot take the advantage of their position for promoting self-interest.
  • A system of rules and files – its operations are government by a consistent system of abstract rules.
  • Team-work – One of the important feature of bureaucracy is team-work, i.e. ability to work together toward a common vision. It is ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” (Andrew Carnegie, TOI, P.18, Feb 7, 2017)
  • Loyalty to impersonal authority like the State. Cal.J. Friedrich rejected this ‘ideal-type’ theory as neither ideal in the platonic sense nor real in empirical sense.

Criticism of Weber’s theory – Friedrich, Alwin W. Gouldner, Philip Seiznic, Michel Crozier and others emphasised certain behavioural characteristics of civil service as more important.

  • Peter Blau introduced an element of positivism, when the emphasized ‘efficiency’ as the core and goal of bureaucracy or civil service. His approach permits structural and behavioral flexibility in response to ecological reaction, as long as they contribute to efficiency. His approach is dynamic and covers ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ aspects of civil service and welds the structural and behavioral aspects in terms of ‘efficiency’.
  • F.W. Riggs, John Forward, James Brady4 and others have developed a new approach of ecological and developmental administration. In this approach the civil service is to be explained and designed in terms of local influences as well as the influence of developmental tasks and goals. This approach has been admired, because of its open-minded realistic and flexible character, particularly for purposes of designing a developmental bureaucracy.
  • V.A. Pai Panandikar and Kshirsagar (Pai Panandikar and Kshirsagar, Bureaucracy in India, I.J.PA.Vol. XVII No.2 PP 187-208) are of opinion that bureaucratic model cannot be a single type. According to them while the Weberian Model is most suited in Secretariat type of Organisation and the Blau’s model operates well in dynamic field of development type of agencies like the agriculture or industrial departments.

Whatever the merits and demerits of the above models may be, it is a fact that no single   model is sufficient either to explain the complex bureaucratic universe empirically or to Guide the designing of a bureaucratic system normatively.

In short – It can be said that civil service is a “professional body of officials, permanent, paid and skilled”2. It is always connected with the exercise of authority as members of a class of power elites. It is engaged in the governance of the country and its administrative work. Its officials are professionally recruited, permanent, paid and properly trained in various disciplines of administration. Its main characteristics are its efficiency, predictability, impersonal nature, and its impartial and speedy working. It is always associated with exercise of authority. It has to deal with human beings with many complexes – psychological and sociological and its dealings extend to society as a whole.

The people who are governed

Government has to deal with living human beings prone to unpredictable behavior. It also deals with the issues and challenges in all the spheres, whether political, economic or social, which directly affects public life.

Governance a difficult task in India having many kinds of Diversity – Way back on December 9, 1946, Mr. V.N. Narayan had said, At best of times, India is ungovernable country of diversities, conflicts and problems”. A touch here, a push there may make India ungovernable. Governance of a pluralistic society, like India, is a sensitive and challenging exercise. Mr. Nani Palkiwala expressed the same feeling after 50 years of self-rule, which gave to India empty coffers, unfulfilled promises, political instability, fractured society and perpetual divide among different groups along caste and community lines. He said, Our legal systems have made life too easy for criminals and too difficult for law abiding citizens.

India comprises of different identities India comprises people of different identities – ethnic, religious, castes, linguistic and regional identities. While, these identities lived together for centuries and presented a mosaic culture, there have been periods of discord. The diversity made the divide easy. However, the forces of unity have always been stronger than the divisive forces. It is for this reason that India occupies a special place in the global society. It is one of the oldest alive civilizations of the world. It presents a fascinating picture of unity amidst diversity, cultural richness, largeness of area and huge population. It has assimilated multi-ethnic migrants into its fold. The diversities, that exist, are many like:

  • Geographical diversity
  • Ethnic diversity
  • Linguistic Diversity
  • Occupational Diversity
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Demographic Diversity
  • Political division of Indian population etc.

As we have seen, in India, there exists perplexing diversities in geography, language, race and culture since ages. It pervades every aspect of life. Equality in each and every sphere of life is just not possible. In such a situation, no compromise should be made to work hard and to discourage healthy competition on the ground to reduce social inequalities artificially. For unity and sustainable development of the nation, a strong and healthy competitive system of placement at all levels of administration according to the requirements of the posts needs to be followed.

Concepts of ‘Welfare-State’ and ‘Development- administration” 

The “Laissezfaire” theory of government’s function prevalent during 19th and beginning of 20th centuries. During this period, the main task of the government was generally maintenance of law and order and revenue collection. Now the emphasis has shifted to the welfare plans, national reconstruction and development.

Concept of ‘Welfare State – French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, Industrial Revolution, two World Wars  and other Contemporary developments gave rise to the concept of `Welfare State’ and Developmental Administration.  The former being the objective and the later the machinery to achieve these objectives.

Care of citizens rom womb to tomb – In a welfare state, the government assumes and aims at improving the quality of life of its masses and the responsibility of its citizens from `womb to tomb’.   It aims at bringing `social, political and economic justice’ for all  irrespective of their caste or creed, the voluntary abdication of riches and power – that these riches brings and establishment of a productive, vigorous and creative political and social life. In short its objective is a massive attack on five major evils of society – want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.. The main aim of initiating and nurturing these concepts is to bring about betterment to the lots of deprived sections of society and build up a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy.

People also desire to go forward quickly and to establish a new economic order, in which common people should have a better deal. It has widened the responsibilities of the State’s government.   Poverty and misery, which were earlier accepted as the lot of masses, are no longer regarded as inevitable. Millions of people have started demanding, with persisting insistence, better standard of living, better housing, better education and better medical facilities. The masses started wishing that they themselves should be benefited a much as possible, from the resources of their nation.

“Concept of Development Administration” – The welfare concept of state has no utility in itself unless it is translated into action. The government now work for establishing “Socialistic pattern of society”.

The instrument deployed for achieving welfare goals – The instrument deployed for achieving welfare goals national reconstruction and development – is the institution of civil service, which puts all its energies at bringing about socio-economic and political development of the nation as a whole. An efficient administration can successfully comprehend what is attainable, what is practical and what can help the agencies in the community to formulate plans and policies, by which the community can seek to assure welfare of all its members.

The emphasis in governance has resulted in –

  1. Increase in the responsibilities of Bureaucracy – Both the concepts of ‘Welfare nation’ and ‘Development Administration’ have increased the responsibilities of bureaucracy manifolds. In addition to their traditional regulatory work to maintain law and order situation in the country, the national governments have gradually assumed the responsibility of welfare of all its citizens from “Womb to tomb”.
  2. Regulatory and service functions of Bureaucracy – Activities of Bureaucracy have penetrated into different spheres of social, political and economic spheres. Its functions are now divided into two – Regulatory and service functions. It is an irony that Services engaged in Regulatory and Economic functions always remain at the top at controlling-end. Services responsible for service functions in different spheres busy to provide convenience, relief and to give common men a better deal always remain at asking end. So is the fate of bureaucrats engaged in development of the nation by building-up the infra-structure for a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy always remain at the asking-end.
  3. Arising the aspirations of people from the government – Recent developments and various revolutions have aroused the aspirations of people and expectations from the government. The desire of public to go forward quickly and to establish a new economic order, in which common man and weaker sections of society could have better deal, forced the national governments to take upon themselves the responsibility of protecting and nurturing them in such a manner that people get enough opportunities to grow to their fullest stature and prosper.
  4. People more assertive of their rights – People are now more alert and aware. They are assertive of their rights. Misery, ignorance and economic deprivation, which were earlier accepted as a lot of masses, are no longer acceptable. Now they wish to taste the fruits of development and get benefited from the resources of the nation.   Millions of people started demanding with persisting insistence better standards of living, housing, education and medical facilities. In a way, they demand protection from five major evils of an underdeveloped or developing society – want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.

Bureaucracy includes all the Government services – At present, in any nation, aiming at Welfare and Development administration, Bureaucracy includes all the Government services, Financial, Technical and Specialists as well as Managerial and Generalist. There is police force to maintain law and order, diplomatic service for external affairs, technical services for Public Works Department or Electricity Departments, Railways and Customs for providing services in their respective area.

Bureaucrats in the role of   knowledge managers –   In the increasingly knowledge-based society of twenty-first century bureaucrats/administrators have to play the role of knowledge managers. They are supposed to find out knowledge based solutions for problems in different spheres. The major goals of development administration could be said to be national integration, holistic change and modernization of social and economic process, welfare and ultimately equality, liberty and justice. Development Administration has to concern itself with four `Ps’ standing for –

  • Policy making
  • Planning
  • Programmes; and
  • Projects

For doing justice to their work, bureaucrats needs to develop observation skills, alertness and awareness of their surroundings. They need-

  • Intelligence or basic applicative skill to create solutions;
  • Relevant data;
  • Ability to understand pros and cons and alternatives;
  • Mental alertness to deliver results within time and cost parameters.According to Valson, the whole bureaucratic set-up needs to be organized properly at different levels and the government should be specific about expectations. Different skills are needed at different levels of its administrative-setup.

Role of bureaucrats at different levels – At all the levels, an administrator has to meet the challenges of modern time. The higher, one goes in the ladder of bureaucratic set-up, more his role becomes of analyzer and synthesizer, break a problem down into many parts, then put those together again in a rational design. Some-times, an official has to make rationality a compromise/fusion of opposite ends and means. One needs to be sensitive enough understand the sentiments of colleagues, value the good work done by his colleagues – individually and in group, and give reward for good performance. He should be capable to maintain discipline within his respective organization.

At topmost level – At topmost level, bureaucrats are responsible for policy formulation; setting goals and designing strategies, appropriation and allocation of funds, fixing priorities, execution of policy, direction and training. Therefore, at this level they need the conceptual skills to look into the future; to look at the organization as a whole; to visualize the whole scenario rather than in tit bits. at the topmost level, they suffer from disagreement with political bosses, weight to patronage and seniority instead of qualities required for a particular post or promotion, and unwillingness to accept new ideas and technology for fear of loss of power and position. They are constrained by conflict between young and old minds in civil service, high level of corruption, low commitment to development and conflict with or influence of politicians on their superiors.

At the middle level – The middle level administrator is usually responsible for learning and interpreting, energizing and supervising, coordinating and collecting information. Therefore, at this level, officers are required to have human skills along with technical skills. At senior and middle levels, skill of communication/networking within the organization and outside is also required for successfully saving effort, time and money.

At lower level – The lower level administrator undertakes the role of mass contacts, demonstration, innovation, introduction of new institutions and collection of taxes. Therefore, at entry level and during the initial years, the administrators are supposed to possess knowledge about the subject, they have to deal. The lower level administrators suffer due to insufficient qualifications, poor salary, and loss of morale, loss of faith in development ideology due to frustrating field experience and loss of initiative crippling subservience to seniors and sacrifices to develop objectives.

 Government that governs in India

India opted for the most difficult path, for its governance – India has chosen the most difficult form of government, democracy, which are working successfully only in a very few nations that too in developed countries. This poses many challenges before the administration. The Government of India has accepted the planning process. The success of government’s welfare and developmental plans solely depends upon the efficiency of its bureaucratic cadres. Therefore, India requires that every level of its administrative set-up must be equipped with officers having the capacity to meet various challenges of the modern India.

Federal structure – India has adopted is a system of federal parliamentary democracy. Its federal structure consists of Union and State Administration.

Three arms of the government – To govern the country, the Constitution of India has established three arms –

  • Executive – The Union Government at the Centre consists of a ‘President’, (in states Governors) in whom all the executive power of the Union is vested. It is exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with the Constitution [Article 53 (1)]; the Vice-President – only a ceremonial dignitary; and ‘a council of ministers with prime Minister (Chief Ministers) as its head “to aid and advice the President in the exercise of his functions”. The President is the nominal head of the executive. The Prime Minister and his colleagues are real political heads of different government departments. Their executive power, in practice, is exercised by permanent bureaucracy/civil service (civil services mean all the streams of functional, technical and specialist cadres as well as managerial and generalist cadres).
  • Legislative powers are vested in Parliament/Assembly. It lays the policy and frames laws of the land for governance. The Executive implements the policies, the laws and the programs.
  • There is also an independent judiciary, which acts as a watchdog of the Constitution and is the supreme law of the land.

Government at State level – Different provinces or states in India have their separate political set-up similar to that of Centre. The Judiciary acts as a watchdog. All the three Arms of the State go together in improving the quality of life of public at large. Instead of President and Vice-President, Governor is there as the head of the executive in every state. It also includes the officials at regional or state level, which works under ministers and serves as a link – so essential to maintain continuity of policy and consistency of administration between successive ministers.

Set-up of a Department in Government – Directly under the Minister, comes the Secretary of a Department. A Secretary may head one or more Departments and can be under more than one minister. All matters of the cabinet are routed through him. He is the Chief functionary of his Department(s) Joint Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and Under Secretaries help the Secretary in the discharge of his work. In Secretariat, decision taking, normally starts at the level of Deputy Secretary. He puts up proposals for policy decisions to the Secretary. Working in the Secretariat exposes the officers to policy perspective in diversified subjects like agriculture, horticulture, power, coal, transport etc. The work in Secretariat requires bright officers having experience and knowledge in relevant areas. The IAS officers on deputation from different states occupy most of the senior posts in Central Secretariat. In the State Secretariats also, it is the IAS Officials, who are posted on the top posts in almost every department.

Working of the bureaucracy in India – The bureaucracy’s work is divided into:

  • Work at Secretariat for policy making and
  • Work in field organizations for implementation of policies and Plans.

Working in Secretariat – Secretariat functions as the nerve center of the Government, both at the Center as well as in the States. State Secretariats are located in the capital cities of respective State and the Central Secretariat at New Delhi.

Bureaucrats assist the minister in formulating and monitoring policies and programs. Executive orders originate from here.   It keeps a watch over the program implementation and presents a correct appraisal of it to the Government, from time to time.

Directly under the Minister, comes the Secretary of a Department. A Secretary may head one or more Departments and can be under more than one minister. All matters of the cabinet are routed through him. He is the Chief functionary of his Department(s) Joint Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and Under Secretaries help the Secretary in the discharge of his work. In Secretariat, decision taking, normally starts at the level of Deputy Secretary. He puts up proposals for policy decisions to the Secretary. Working in the Secretariat exposes the officers to policy perspective in diversified subjects like agriculture, horticulture, power, coal, transport etc. The work in Secretariat requires bright officers having experience and knowledge in relevant areas. The IAS officers on deputation from different states occupy most of the senior posts in Central Secretariat. In the State Secretariats also, it is the IAS Officials, who are posted on the top posts in almost every department.

Functions performed at Secretariat level – According to Punjab Administrative Reforms Commission, the following are important functions of the Secretariat: –

  • Making decisions on policy matters and enunciating policy decisions in clear language,
  • Looking after Planning and finance work,
  • Legislative business,
  • Personnel management policies,
  • Legal advice,
  • Coordination and cross clearance among the administrative departments, in the Secretariat,
  • Communication with central institutions like the Planning Commission etc., and
  • Overall evaluation, supervision, control and coordination of the work being done by the field organizations.

Fieldwork – A large number of bureaucrats play a crucial role in state administrative work. Working in the field can be divided in two groups-

  • Working in the field departments or head office,
  • Working in District.

Field departments or head office – The Head offices are to supervise, coordinate and monitor/watch the implementation of policies within their specific field-area. Their administrative and financial powers are defined in Civil Service Rules and Financial Rules, the Budget Manual and other Codes. It is their responsibility to set their men and machinery; money and material in order. Administration at field level requires men of drive and initiative possessing leadership qualities of leadership.

District administration – The district administration occupies a key position. In a district, officials have to perform regulatory as well as developmental tasks. It is the most convenient geographical unit, where the total apparatus of Civil Administration can be concentrated and where it comes into direct contact with the people.

The importance of field-work arises from the fact, that it is at this level, that bulk of people gets affected, favorably or adversely by the governmental policies, programs and its implementation. It is here, that people judge the quality and efficiency of the governmental administration. Collector continues to play a pivotal role in the District Administration.

First five or six years of bureaucrats are crucial for all. During this period, they go on field postings to get the feel and first-hand knowledge of real life and social realities. These postings open up the minds of young officers, by bringing them into direct contact with administrative life, with officials working in other departments, feelings of people at grass-root level. They get opportunity to understand the concrete problems. They come to know about people belonging to different sections of society and their social conditions prevailing in that particular area. They get acquainted with the structure of their own as well as of other departments working in a district and coordinating activities of various departments at district level and with that of district headquarters. This period enriches them with a variety of experiences and makes them ripe for senior positions.   A collector enjoys immense power and prestige at district level.

Both kinds of work – work at Secretariat and work in the field have their distinctive challenges. For efficient performance of work in both the areas, there is need for really bright and talented officers.

Tasks of the Government – Like most developing nations, India has yet to cover distance of centuries in decades, making the transition from agrarian society to industrial-society and then to information society. Science and technology have made their debut here rather late. Time never ran so fast, as it did for India, after independence. Yesterday was not long ago and today is nearly over, with so much still pending to be done.

Great transformation under way – A present, a great transformation is under way, not only in India, but every- where in the world. Time never ran so fast, as it did for India, after independence. Yesterday was not long ago and today is nearly over, with so much still pending to be done. Like most developing nations, India has to cover distance of centuries in decades, making the transition from agrarian society to industrial society and then to information society. Science and technology have made their debut rather late in India.

For sustainable development, right person at right place – To absorb such a transformation, the main thrust of the authorities should be employ persons at all the levels of administration according to the requirements of the posts. Good governance needs as many persons as possible with knowledge, expertise, efficiency and who are capable to apply science and technology in the work of administration. It would expedite the task of governance and provide transparency and give relief to the public. To find out right persons for good governance, a system of healthy competition for placements is required. Government should give more importance to sustainable development of nation rather than to employ people just to reduce social inequalities artificially. This is truer in a large country like India, where perplexing diversities exists in geography, language, race and culture since ages, and pervades every aspect of life.

Role of executive in governance – Amongst all the three wings of the government, the Executive affects the daily life of the people the most, as it implements the policies, the laws and the programs. Bureaucracy is an important component of the Executive. Any laxity in the performance of this Service would jeopardize the objective and push the developmental goals behind.

Challenges before the present Government – Some basic problems after the Independence have been – Poverty, low per capita income, illiteracy, dependence of at least ¾ of her population on agriculture, industrial backwardness, capital deficiency, rapid population growth, unemployment and under-employment, prevalence of backward technology, under-utilization of natural resources and unsuitable social structures.

  • Population explosion – Population is exploding virtually unchecked. Standards of education have declined beyond any remedy and it has become inefficient, wasteful, dysfunctional and increasingly unrelated to national needs and aspirations. Illiteracy of masses is still a problem in the society.
  • Challenges on economy-front – Because of the factors mentioned above, the growth has been very slow and the economy of the country has always been in a bad shape. In the absence of enough capital or skilled personnel or able management and efficiency, the level of productivity has remained low, leaving little surplus for saving and capital formation. In addition to all this, by and large, the absence of able and honest leadership and lack of efficient and clean administration are the main reasons for persistent economic backwardness.
  • Periods of strife and conflict – The periods of unity, in our history, have been lesser as compared to periods of strife and conflict. The partition of the nation, the three wars, the swelling streams of nearly a crore of refugees from Bangla Desh and Sri Lanka, the periodical terrorist attacks, famines and floods, recent economic depression has adversely effected the whole nation. Each has to be tackled firmly and speedily.
  • Divisive forces – There are new divisive forces due to diversities India, which base themselves on cultural and linguistic variations of the country. Today the violence in West Bengal, Bihar, J&K, Assam and Punjab is a serious challenge before the administration at various levels and that unless local problems are solved speedily, they are likely to pose a new threat to the unity and stability of the nation as a whole.
  • Regional Disparities – There is a wide gap between the rich and poor and between region to region. Some states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Punjab are marching ahead rapidly under the stimulus of the plan schemes, while others are lagging behind and re unable to find adequate resources to implement the schemes. Therefore, the gap is widening between the prosperous and backward states. Besides, within each state, there are pockets of poverty amidst plenty – such as dry and hilly areas as well as those with tribal populations are still far below the national average. This gives rise to new tensions – social and economic and the stability of the society is threatened. The administration of the country has to face this challenge and take up lead in reconciling regional interest with national unity.
  • Challenges at Social front – The administration of the nation has to face many challenges at social front also. Pervasive corruption and indiscipline has weakened the social fabric beyond repair. Generally law follows social change, but in India the Government is trying to foster social change through law. Some unpleasant changes took place in the past and are increasing every day in the character, role and inter-relationship of the main constituents of the national elites – the political executive, the legislators, media, the businessmen, the organized workers, the surplus farmers and the bureaucrats. Sectoral and regional imbalances are also sources of great social and psychological tensions.
  • Bitter relationship between Centre and the StatesThe political and administrative atmosphere is also not in harmony with the developmental activities of the administration. Due to India’s unique federal structure, many complexities arise due to tense Centre-State relationship. Also there exists a great deal of friction, tension and mutual suspicion between different political parties, as well as the political leadership and the administrators. This results in delay in decision-making, lack of coordination of policies among departments and lack of dissemination of information for effective decision making and thus either procrastination and long delays or inadequate and inapt policies.
  • Corruption – “Corruption, embezzlement, fraud, these are all characteristics which exist everywhere. It is regrettably the way human nature functions, whether we like it or not. What successful economies do is to keep it to a minimum.” (Alan Greenspan) In India, after six decades, the country’s democracy has given too much space to corrupt and inefficient governance without any accountability towards public. People have also become immune to corruption, inefficiency and poor governance in public life as normal.

Conclusion – Spiritual Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shanker says “Peace and progress can only happen through reconciliation and reform. Reform cannot happen out of anger or hatred. We need a calm and clear mind, a compassionate approach, along with the whole-hearted participation of the parties concern.”

Common man in India is still waiting hopefully for good governance. People are hopeful that with the result of previous few elections in centre as well as in states, majority party is forming the government instead of coalition governments, the situation should become easier for the ruling authority to provide good governance to the nation. Advancement in technology also is helpful in making the task of the government easier.

However, at present, all political parties pay more attention to ‘propaganda, publicity and populism’, attention-catching slogans  and stunts rather than working for the welfare of common-men, and  giving relief to the common man. They  are busy to connect themselves with people through media, “publicity driven” campaigns, print-media, social-media, television, radio, advertisements etc. Instead of working for the welfare of people and development of the nation, they are wasting or misusing lots of money and public funds on propaganda. Rival national and regional parties are also fighting all the time over distribution of powers between national and provincial governments.

[i]      Paipandikar VA, Bureaucracy in India – An Empirical Study, IJPA, pp187, Vol. xvii, no.2, April-June, 1971.

[ii]            Shourie HD, Bureaucracy Baiting, The Tribune, June 18. 1992, p6.

[iii]     Rajagopalachari C, Talk delivered on August 14, 1955, under Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel lecture.

[iv]        Valson EM, Development Bureaucracy. A tentative Model, IIPA, vol. XVIII no. I, pp36-50.

 [LS1]

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | | Leave a comment

India – Unity in Diversity

“There is more power in unity than division”.  Emanuel Cleaver, US politician

Introduction – Way back on December 9, 1946, Mr. V.N. Narayan had said, At best of times, India is ungovernable country of diversities, conflicts and problems.[i] A touch here, a push there may make India ungovernable. Governance of a pluralistic society, like India, is a sensitive and challenging exercise.

Mr. Nani Palkiwala expressed the same feeling after 50 years of self-rule, which gave to India empty coffers, unfulfilled promises, political instability, fractured society and perpetual divide among different groups along caste and community lines. He said, Our legal systems have made life too easy for criminals and too difficult for law abiding citizens.[ii]

India comprises of different identities India comprises people of different identities – ethnic, religious, castes, linguistic and regional identities. While, these identities lived together for centuries and presented a mosaic culture, there have been periods of discord. The diversity made the divide easy. However, the forces of unity have always been stronger than the divisive forces. It is for this reason that India occupies a special place in the global society. It is one of the oldest alive civilizations of the world. It presents a fascinating picture of unity amidst diversity, cultural richness, largeness of area and huge population. It has assimilated multi-ethnic migrants into its fold. The diversities, that exist, are many like: –

(a) Geographical diversity – India is the Sixth largest nation in the world in terms of area, covering a territory of about 3.27 million sq. kms. which is about 24% of the total world area, all divided into:-

  1. Himalayas – forming the northern boundary of India, extending from J&K in the west to Assam, Manipur and Mizoram in the East. These regions are not very well connected with the mainland. Therefore, development processes are slow.
  2. Indo-Gangetic lowland – includes Gangetic, Brahmputra and coastal plains. It is densely populated. Indian civilization spread all over India mainly from this region.
  3. Peninsular Plateau – A mass of mountain hill ranges of Aravalli, Vindhyas, Satpura, Mekala, Nilgiri and Cardamon hills separates it from Indo-Gangetic lowland. This peninsula is flanked on one side by the Eastern Ghats and on the other by the Western Ghats.

The above three areas have different climate, different quantity of rainfall, different quality of soil, different kinds of vegetation, crops and minerals. Therefore, the people living in these parts differ from each other in their needs, way of living, eating habits and approach to a problem.

(b) Ethnic diversity – The assimilation of multi-ethnic migrants into Indian society makes its ethnic diversity a striking feature. The groups, that comprise this diversity, are: –

  • Negritos – the earliest men coming probably from Africa, now represented by tribal population in some interior jungles of South India and Andamans.
  • Proto-Australoids – considered being the original builders of the Indus valley civilization. They had settled in the hilly and forest tracts of Central and Southern India and in the lower strata of North India.
  • Mongoloids – coming from China, they settled mostly in Ladakh, Sikkim, Arunachal, Assam and the North Eastern States.
  • Mediterranean – Fairly civilized people coming from Southwest Asia around 2000 BC. They are believed to be the bearers of the earliest form of Hinduism and were the architects of later Indus Valley Civilization. Later, they were pushed to the Ganga plain and down the Central and South India.   Today they constitute the bulk of population in South India and bulk of scheduled castes in the North, including Punjab.
  • Alphinoids, Dinarics and Armenoids – Coming from South Europe, now they are found in the Coorgis and the Parsis.
  • Nordics – They came to India around 2000 BC. Their concentration is now in Northwest India and among the upper castes of North India.

These multi-ethnic migrants came to India in waves. In due course of time, they assimilated into Indian Society as its integral parts. They were allowed to preserve their distinct dialects, beliefs, and values, customs and traditions, which are intact even today. Their assimilation resulted in: –

  1. Linguistic Diversity
  2. Cultural Diversity.
  3. Occupational Diversity

 (c) Linguistic Diversity – According to Majumdar RC, Roy Chaudhary HC and Datta Kalikinkar,[iii] on the basis of linguistics, Indian people could be divided into the following four groups according to their language and physical appearance: –

  1. High Class Hindus – They are known as Indo-Aryan. They account for 73% of the Hindu population. [iv] Their language is derived from Sanskrit. They are usually tall, fair skinned, long nosed, aggressive and martial people. Their religion has been masculine, ritualized and organized.
  2. Dravidians – Mostly living in South Indian Peninsula. They speak Tamil, Telugu, Kanarese and Malayalam. They account for 20% of the population.
  3. Primitive Tribes (like Kol, Bhil and Mundas) – They are dark skinned and snub-nosed. They speak languages quite different from the above two. They account for 1.5% of the population.
  4. People with strong Mongolian features – They are yellow in color, snubbed nose with flat faces and prominent cheek bones, living mostly on the slopes of Himalayas and mountains of Assam. Gorkhas, Bhutiyas, Khasis are some of them. They have their own languages. They account for 0.85% of the total population.

The last two classes of people may be regarded as descendants of the Neolithic people and do not appear to have made much progress till today. They yielded to the forces of Dravidians in the South and Aryans in the North. At present India has 18 major languages included in Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, more than 250 dialects and about 200 to 300 castes in each linguistic region.[v]

(d) Occupational Diversity – The Indian scene presents a unique diversity in occupational structure greatly affecting terms in income, standard of living, way of life, status, economic activities, purchasing power and thinking of people.

Changes in occupational pattern after Industrialization – The modernization and industrialization process, especially under the guidance of British during the 19th Century changed the scene.

  • Gradually, many traditional occupations became less paying and were regarded more hazardous and more time consuming.
  • White collared jobs gained importance.
  • The more, a person withdrew from physical labour, the more civilized, honored and qualified he was regarded by the modern society.
  • It resulted in discrediting many traditional occupations and in destruction of Indian handicrafts and cottage industry.
  • It scattered the efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsman, weavers etc.
  • A few of them joined modern occupations.
  • The majority could neither enter the modern sector nor stick to traditional occupations considering the menial work derogatory.
  • Unskilled persons had no option, but to either join the band of agricultural laborers, industrial workers, marginal labour or increase the number of unemployed.
  • The outcome of such a development has been the casualty of workers, first, their work style, commitment, motivation and culture afterwards.
  • Many groups had lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride.
  • Some entrepreneurs with money, education and awareness did market surveys and hijacked many traditional occupations. Occupations like mechanization of fishing or leather industry were modernized by them and made profit oriented.
  • Even less capital-intensive occupation, such as barber, washerman etc., have been taken up by educated middle class. Hitherto, these occupations were viewed with disdain and contempt by modern society. These have been, therefore, re-christened as saloon, laundry etc. It employed workers, largely from poor traditional workers, earlier practicing such occupations independently.

Nature of occupations – There are traditional and modern occupations and occupations in the organized and unorganized sector.

  • Traditional and Modern occupation – There was no choice in the matter of occupation in the traditional system. Maintaining differentiation between various occupations was the main feature of traditional system. It was community based and not individual based. It led the society to have more production, economic efficiency and specialization in various areas of activities. The system had created an atmosphere of high quality of occupational skills in different areas like spinning, weaving, pottery making, bead making, seal making, terracotta, handicrafts, brick-laying, metal work etc. The manner, in which these hereditary occupational skills were transferred, was through practice and experience; not through formal classroom lectures, which often kills the originality and verve of the people.
  • Main Workers and Marginal Workers – The Census classifies Workers into two groups namely, Main workers and Marginal workers. Main Workers are those workers who had worked for the major part of the reference period i.e. 6 months or more. Marginal Workers are those workers who had not worked for the major part of the reference period i.e. less than 6 months.

The Main workers can be classified on the basis of their nature of work into the following four categories:

  1. Cultivators
    2. Agricultural Labors
    3. Household Industry Workers and
    4. Other Workers

According to censuses, the total number of workers in rural and urban areas was as following: –

 Total number of workers (In Percentage)

Area

Persons Males Females

Rural

40.24 52.50 27.20
Urban 30.44 48.95 9.20
Total 37.68 51.56 22.73

Amongst these, a large number is that of marginal workers, who do not get work for the major part of a year. The Census operations indicate that the numbers of marginal laborer has been growing for the last two decades. Their number is higher in the rural areas than in the urban areas. About 85% marginal workers are female.

Main and Marginal Workers – (In Percentage)

Category

Persons

Workers Main

Workers

Marginal

Workers

37.64 34.12 3.52
Males 51.52 50.54 0.98
Females 22.69 16.43 6.26

 

Rural

Category
Workers  

Main workers

Marginal-workers

Persons

4013 3567 446
Males 5243 5129 114
Females 2706 1907 799

Urban

Persons

30.46 29.64 0.81
Males 48.96 48.43 0.53
Females 9.73 8.64 1.11

Source: 1991 Census, p 323

Organized sector – Organized sector is the backbone of modern economy. It provides to people, engaged in it, adequate means of livelihood and a specified position in social, economic and political world.   The reasons for its importance are –

Ø         The State authority itself and

Ø         It’s role in development.

Having full knowledge about the system, the persons working in organized sector are able to protect themselves against malfunctioning of state authority, because-

Ø         They are organized to challenge any misuse of authority.

Ø         Whenever the system fails, they can make special arrangements.

Ø         Their future is secured under various schemes.

Unorganized sector – In contrast, people in unorganized sector find themselves helpless and vulnerable, as their awareness and knowledge about the system is very limited. Very often, they are the people living below poverty line, deprived and exploited. Some of them are even unable to manage two square meals a day.

Moreover, their agony is multiplied due to growing underhandedness, insufficient and ineffective monitoring of projects undertaken for their welfare, corruption, undue pressures of influential groups and unholy alliances. The poor even do not get due wages for their labour and skill, because the wage-determination policy of the government does not recognize the value of their knowledge/skill. For example, an agricultural worker, whose work is most skilled, most arduous and working conditions most difficult, has been recognized as an unskilled worker getting lowest wages.

(e) Cultural Diversity – This diversity is based on religion and caste. According to 1991 Census, as quoted by Silverra [vi], the main religious groups, in India, are as under: –

Main religious groups –

Group

% of population

 

% increase since 1981

Hindu

82.41 22.78
Muslims 11.76 32.76
Christians 2.32 16.89
Sikhs 1.99 25.48
Buddhist 0.77 35.98
Other religions 0.38 13.19
Religion not stated 0.05 73.46

(Source: 1991 Census)

In the modern world, no society or nation can exist as a homogeneous cultural monolithically. India specially presents a unique picture of composite culture, which grew out of intermixing of people of different cultures, belonging to different identities. 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.

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. 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: –

Ø         Despite centuries of foreign rule over 75% of Indian population remains Hindu.

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

Ø         It influenced almost all other religions found in India.

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.

  • Buddhism and Jainism – Both the religions, originated in India itself, have an influence of the later Vedic culture, but with certain basic differences. These religions have influenced the thought, moral and life style of Indian people. Buddhism has 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 fellow-ship. 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. 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.
  • 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:

(a)  Some people welcomed rationality and other good features of Modern English culture, but wished to remain firmly rooted to the Indian Culture. They organized people and made them aware of social evils like Sati, Polygamy, child marriage, un-touchablity 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-Samaj, 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.

(b)       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.

Two aspects of Hindu culture received a good deal of attention of the Westerners. These are: –

Ø     The Caste system and

Ø     Reluctance to convert people of other religions, on the ground that all religions are valid.

The British condemned the Caste system, but the later, they enthusiastically applauded.[vii]

Hindu, Islam and Christian religions had received substantial state patronage for sufficiently long period. This way, it could be said that the composite culture of India grew out of: –

Ø         The growth, influence and refinement of values of different religions generated within the land of India.

Ø         The creative interaction between the values of indigenous religions and religions of diverse migrating or foreign communities like Islam, Christianity, Zorastarianism etc.

The wonderful process of assimilation and fusion of different cultures has been a continuous process of the India civilization. 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 also brought changes in the nature of mutual understanding, communal amity and accommodation. Once again, a major cultural synthesis took place during the period between18th century to 20th century, 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. It 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.

(f)Administrative Diversity – After integration and merger of princely states under Indian Independence Act, 1947, India reorganized the land for administrative purposes into provinces, union territories and districts on the basis of their geographical position, linguistic status, historical developments and other considerations. According to 1991 census, there are about 452 administrative districts (excluding J&K) 19 major cities, 3949 towns and 5,80,000 villages, in 25 provinces and seven Union territories. The provinces are – Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, TamilNadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.[viii] The union territories are – Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadara and Nagar Haveli, Delhi, Daman and Diu, Lakshwadweep and Pondicherry.

(g)Demographic Diversity   – Just as the landmass of India has been divided into different provinces and regions, so also the Indian people could be divided into distinct units, politically and socially.

(h)Political division of Indian population – According to 1991 census, 843.9 million people, belonging to 60 socio-cultural region and sub regions, having 12 major religions and 18 major languages, have been divided politically by the government into forward class, backward class, scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and minorities for the purposes of admission in educational institutions, employment in the government and welfare planning. The breakup of Indian population is as following [ix]: –

Sl.
Category
%
A. Scheduled castes and tribes
   
A1 Scheduled Caste 15.05
A2 Scheduled Tribe 7.51
Total A 22.56
B. Non-Hindus Communities
   
B1                                            B1 Muslims (Other than STs) 11.90
B2 Christians (Other than STs) 2.16
B3 Sikhs (Other than SCs/STs) 1.67
B4 Buddhists (Other than STs) 0.67
B5 Jains O.47
Total B 16.16
C. Forward Hindu Communities  
 
C1 Brahmins 5.52
C2 Rajputs 3.90
C3 Marathas 2.21
C4 Jats 1.00
C5 Vaishyas 1.88
C6 Kayasthas 1.07
C7 Other Hindu caste groups 2.00

Total C

17.58

Total A + B + C

56.03
D Backward communities 43.70
E 52% of the religious groups under B may be treated as OBCs  

8.40

F Approximate derived population of OBCs  

52.00

 (i) Social division –      Like religion, caste system is an integral part of Indian society. Starting with the arrival of numerous Aryan hereditary kinship and tribal groups in waves, from different parts of the world and their mixing up with the indigenous people gave birth to caste system. Caste system accommodated different groups with diverse belief and way of living, under Hinduism, and bound them into a single cultural system.   The assimilation of numerous racial, professional, immigrants, tribal and other groups into Hindu fold was done through caste-system by assigning each new group a separate caste status.

Different identities – The political and social divisions, discussed above, have given birth to a set of different identities, is as discussed below:

  • Equal Identities – Although drawn from different cultures or regions, they find themselves at the same level of acceptance in society like Tamils and Bengalis.
  • Marginal or Inferior Identities – Almost in all the traditional societies, women, old, children or immigrants are regarded as inferior. Also some sections of society were perceived as inferior in spite of constitutionally guaranteed equalities like untouchables in India.
  • Deviant Identities– The people, who reject general norms, evaluation and standards, come in this group, such as anti-social elements, drug addicts etc. They are looked down with contempt, though they are insiders to the system.
  • Hated Identities– People, seen as outsiders to the society, are sometimes hated, some-times feared such as British rulers in India. They face many problems of interaction, because of their externality.
  • Religious Identities– Believers of different faiths constitute religious identities. The different religious communities present in India could be divided into people : –

Ø belonging to faiths originated in India like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

Ø Migrated to India due to persecution or oppression in their homeland like Jews, Bahai, Zoroastrians, or Tibetans.

Ø Converted to alien religion like Christianity and Islam, the religions of the conquerors.

Necessary to maintain proper balance and harmony for unity – To maintain proper balance and harmony between different sections with so many diversities and numerous identities is a delicate and a difficult task. Too much stress on identities can create problem, confusion and chaos. Situation can become more complicated, if identities are pigeonholed.

In modern times, a person can bear more than one identity at a time. The more a person enriches one’s personality; wider becomes his/her identity. Modernization, technological developments in the field of communication and transportation give added dimensions to the issue of identities.

Unity in Diversity in India

Absorptive nature of Indian culture – In spite of having so many diversities, which unite and divide the nation simultaneously, the dominant pattern that emerges in Indian history is one of accommodating different groups through assimilation and synthesis.

India has developed an atmosphere, where different identities have co-existed, generally in harmony and sometimes in rift. In its long process of evolution, each identity has been carefully nurtured and preserved. It never tried to liquidate or absorb them, artificially, into one main culture of the land. Instead, it absorbed the good points of other cultures and allowed them to flourish and contribute in enriching the composite culture of India.

The multi-centricity has given the Indian society its predominantly syncratic character, its pluralistic tradition and its absorptive nature of internalizing alien influences. Many times, there had been strife, contradictions and discords amongst different identities, so much so that, at times, India appears 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.[x]

Factors that Unite India – India exhibits a fascinating picture of unity in diversity. There is co-existence of varied belief, patterns and thoughts due to racial intermixing and cultural mingling. More than anywhere else in the world, it holds a multitude of thoughts, processes them and practices them. This is the reason for its being one of the oldest, continuous and uninterrupted living culture in the whole world.[xi] The factors, which keep its unity and continuity intact, are: –

  • Tolerance – The spirit of tolerance and firm belief in the principles, ‘Live and let live’ has always been the part of Indian ethos.
    • 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, inspired it to accommodate people of all faiths. 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. That is why, all the twelve major religions of the world are present and flourishing in India without any hindrance.
    • Hinduism has adopted the path of assimilation. Therefore, it does not force others to convert. It does not impose its beliefs, practices and customs on others. Hindu religion has neither repulsed any trend vehemently, nor allowed others to sweep its established culture off the roots.
  • ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – 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.
    • Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression are the hallmark of Indian culture. The people endure injustice and unfairness until they are pushed right to the wall.
    • 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.’[xii]
    • Many times in the past, Indians had accepted oppression and exploitation without much protest, while such situations, elsewhere in the world, would have led to bloody revolutions.
    • Even today, the people are tolerating the criminalization of politics, corruption, scams and scandals and inefficiency of the 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.

Pride in Heritage and value System – C. Rajgopalachari said, If there is honesty in India today, any hospitality, any charity…. any aversion to evil, any love to be good, it is due to whatever remains of the old faith and the old culture.

Indian philosophy, containing a vast reservoir of knowledge, still commands the respect and attention of an average Indian. Basham says, The Vedic literature found in Vedas, Upanishads, Sutras and Smritis contain an ocean of knowledge in a jar.[xiii] Its values give to the people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved. Its Sanatan Dharma, nurtures the basic instincts of human beings over nature, after a deep study of natural instincts, inherent attributes and natural behavioral pattern and takes care of the basic physical, mental and spiritual needs of the human beings at different stages of life.

The Vedic literature is a magnificent example of scientific division and orderly arrangement of rules, in a few words, in different branches of human knowledge, covering almost all the aspects of life, be it phonetics, arts, literature, medicine, polity, metrics, law, philosophy, astrology or astronomy. The priestly schools had devised a most remarkable and effective system of transferring knowledge to succeeding generations in the form of hymns, restricting it only to those, possessing brilliant feats of memory and capability to keep extreme sanctity. Only after raising oneself from ignorance, a person could be able to understand the greatness of the Indian value system.

Like a jeweler, one could spot out gems from amongst worthless pebbles. A knowledgeable person could pick up knowledge and leave the undesired obsolete elements developed in it with passage of time. This gold mine of knowledge inspired not only Indians, but foreigners as well. Intellectuals from various countries have translated it in their own languages and reinterpreted it for a rational mind.

Principles of Dharma, Karma and Varna – The foundation pillars of the Indian civilization are the principles of Dharma, Karma and Varna. Each are discussed in details in the chapter Indian Social Structure-Caste-system and casteism. The doctrine of Dharma defines the duties and vocations for different sections of society, ensures social harmony and prevents rivalries and jealousies.

  • Doctrine of Varna gives the Indian Society a stable, sustainable social structure, which distributes and organizes performance of various functions. It has made it possible for the people to lead a quality of life and ensured the continuity despite numerous foreign invasions, migrations and assimilation of various groups.
  • Doctrine of Karma makes the inequalities, prevalent in the society, tolerable to an average Indian.

Conclusion – Many principles and cultures developed in the past, elsewhere in the world, had created such a wave that swept over the entire world for some time. An anti-wave, replacing such waves, emerged soon. It wiped off the previous influence. The Vedic culture, however, has proved to be an exception in this regard. There had been periods, when the Vedic culture became weak, especially under foreign rules. But it re-emerged every time, and whenever it re-emerged, it did not destroy other sects, it assimilated them within itself. It happened due to basic tenets of Vedic culture along with tolerance, which are very close to every Indian. These principles have contributed to the growth of the Indian society as a whole in a systematic way. It organized orderly performance of various functions needed to provide a quality of life to its people. It prepared an atmosphere for co-existence of different sections of the society – be it ruler or ruled, be it rich or poor. It served to give Indian society coherence, stability and continuity; and held together different castes and communities having diverse languages and practices for generations – thus making unity in diversity a reality.

******

[i]1 Quoted from The Tribune, dated 21.6.92, p21.

[ii]   Palikawala, We the People – The Lost Decade, p3.

[iii]3 Majumdar RC, Roy Chowdhary HC and Datta Kalikinkar, People of India, IV edition, and 1978.

[iv]   Francis SRS, Advanced General Studies, p153.

[v]   Khan, Democracy in India, p8.

[vi]   Silverra DM, India Book, p19.

[vii]   Sharma A, Hinduism of Our Times, p75.

[viii]   Four new states – Delhi, Uttrakhand, Vanachal and Jharkhand – are likely to be created in near future.

[ix]   Report of Mandal Commission, Chapter XII.

[x] Khan, Democracy in India, pp 4-5.

[xi] The other three being Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece

[xii] John Fischer, India’s insoluble Hunger – 1947, pp 7-8.

[xiii] Basham, Wonder That Was India, p51-52.

 

January 18, 2017 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | | Leave a comment

Fusion of many cultures in India

Introduction – As India passed through various phases in the past, each and every social, political or religious group has left its influence on the composite culture of India, which has come down to the present generation in an unbroken chain of succession, with some modifications and adaptations. All the sects present in India, whether foreign or indigenous, have left their influence on its indigenous  religion – Hinduism, its thinking, practices and systems. All the religious communities present in India have also influenced the culture of India.

 Following cultures have contributed in enriching the composite culture of India : –

 The growth, influence and refinement of values of different religions generated within the land of India.

 The interaction between value-system of indigenous religions of India and religions of diverse migrating or foreign communities like Islam, Christianity, Zorastarianism etc.

Vedic Hindu Culture

Vedic Hindu Culture is one of the oldest living cultures in the world. It mainly originated and flourished in northern parts of India and later on spread throughout India. 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 with the culture of indigenous tribal people of India during 2nd century BC to 650 AD. The origin of the Vedic culture can not be traced in any single founder; neither can it be confined in one single authoritative text.

Its 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. Vedas are not supposed to be the end of quest for knowledge. It is a non-ending process(Neti-Neti).

The strength of Vedic culture is proved by the facts: –

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

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

 It influenced almost all other religions found in India.

Buddhism and Jainism

Budhism and Jainism has influenced the thought, moral and life style of many Indians. Buddhism attracted equally the elite as well as the lower strata of Hindu society. Buddhism drew the attention of people towards the harsher effects of the caste system, sympathetic attitude towards lesser human beings and system of organised 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, 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. 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. 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.

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.

Some of the contributions of the British to India are political and administrative unity, many democratic institutions like Parliament, bureaucracy and concepts like rule of law, unified nationality, a common currency, a common Judiciary. They gave a new economic structure based on industrialization. British-rule gave an impetus to social progress and brought many reforms.

The British influence on Indian minds was as discussed below: –

  • Many reformers welcomed rationality and other good features of English culture. They advised people to interpret religion rationally and make efforts to eradicate social evils like Sati, child marriage, untouchablity etc. prevalent at that time.
  • Some people were so influenced by the alien culture, that they developed a complex about the primitiveness of Indian society.
  • Some reformists tried to revive their own rich ancient culture and prevent the masses from being swayed away by the glamour and materialism of Western culture. It gave the call for ‘Back to Vedas’.

Two aspects of Hindu culture received a good deal of attention of British: –

 The Caste system and

 Reluctance to convert people of other religions, on the ground that all religions are valid.

The British condemned the Caste system, but the later, they enthusiastically applauded. iv

Hindu, Islam and Christian religions had received substantial state patronage for sufficiently long period.

Assimilation and fusion of different cultures has been a continuous process of the India civilization. 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 also brought changes in the nature of mutual understanding, communal amity and accommodation.

Once again, during the period between 18th century to 20th century, a major cultural synthesis took place with modernization and industrialization ushered in by the British.

Winding up

Many principles and cultures developed in the past, elsewhere in the world, had created such a wave that swept over the entire world for some time. An anti-wave, replacing such waves, emerged soon. It wiped off the previous influence. The Vedic culture, however, has proved to be an exception in this regard. There had been periods, when the Vedic culture became weak, especially under foreign rules. But it re-emerged every time, and whenever it re-emerged, it did not destroy other sects, it assimilated them within itself.

Despite of having different kinds of diversities, 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.”v

It has happened due to basic tenets of Vedic culture along with tolerance, which are very close to every Indian. The principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma have contributed to the growth of the Indian society as a whole in a systematic way. It has organized orderly performance of various functions needed to provide a quality of life to its people. It prepared an atmosphere for co-existence of different sections of the society – be it ruler or ruled, be it rich or poor. It served to give Indian society coherence, stability and continuity; and held together different castes and communities having diverse languages and practices for generations – thus making unity in diversity a reality.

January 13, 2017 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | Leave a comment