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Journey of Reservation Policy in India (Historical Background)

The start of Reservation policy can be traced back as early as 1874, then known as Communal Award. Since then, it has traveled a long distance.

  • Anti-Brahmin currents laid foundation – Spree of Reform Movements of early 19th century had awakened certain powerful non-Brahmin groups, who resented Brahmin’s domination in government services and desired to secure a place for themselves. Anti-Brahmin currents gained momentum. The two numerically dominant intermediate castes – Vokkaligas and Lingayats, which were economically strong but educationally backward, raised the demand for Reservation in the state Government jobs.
  • Laying the Foundation informallyInformally, the foundation of Reservation Policy for Backward Classes was laid down in Tamil Nadu and Mysore 1874 to restrict Brahmins domination in Government jobs.
  • Soon spread in region and every sphere of national activity From Government jobs, it spread to educational field, in order to prepare non-Brahmins for Government jobs.
  • Supported by other sections of society They were supported by other backward castes – Muslims, Indian Christians, untouchables and tribal in their demand for Reservation and succeeded in compelled the Maharaja of Mysore to reserve posts for them at provincial level.
  • Attaining partial SuccessThese groups succeeded and during 1874 and 1885, Mysore state reserved 20% of middle and lower level jobs in the police department for Brahmins and 80% for Muslims, Non-Brahmins Hindus and Indian Christians. From 1914, it introduced a system of nominations of qualified backward class, including untouchable and tribal candidates to the posts of Assistant Commissioners.
  • Led to ‘Sons of soil policy’ Between 1881 and 1910, the demand for jobs for locals was inspired by a sort of “Sons of the Soil” theory, when Tamil Brahmins displaced from Madras, went to Mysore in large numbers and occupied most of the Government jobs there.
  • Foundations laid down formallyThe foundation of Reservation Policy was formally laid down by Sir Leslie Miller, Chairman, of the First Backward Class Commission of Mysore Government in 1918.
  • Attention towards the educational advancementRepresentatives of Minorities/backward classes for Indian Constitutional reforms, in 1919 had commented that the British authorities attached importance to the educational advancement of the depressed and Backward classes.[iii]
  • British Government refrained to stigmatize any section as ‘Backwards’ – Earlier British Government refrained to classify any section of Indian Society as backwards and stigmatize it at national level by official acknowledgement of their low status. Till 1932, Reservations/Preferences to various sections of society were confined to Provincial and local levels.
  • “Equality and no privileges” – All India Women’s Conference, a premier NGO, along with Women’s Indian Association and the National Council of Women in India, submitted a Memorandum to the First Round Table Conference saying, “Equality and no privileges, a fair field and no favour”. “By merit and merit alone do we wish to find – and we are confident we shall find – a place in the Councils and Federal Legislatures of our country.”
  • Communal Award of 1932Deep disappointment was felt when the Committee ignored the demands of national leaders and finalized its recommendations. Reservations were for the first time of national  appeared on national scene formally with the Communal Award of 1932. In July 1934, instructions were issued by Government Order to schedule a list of people entitled for preferential treatment in matter of education and appointments in Government and special electoral representation.
  • Difficulties in deciding criteria for ‘Backwardness’ The Government faced many difficulties in deciding to whom and by what standard, must the people be included in the list of beneficiaries.
  • Caste as a primary basisThe selection of castes had been done primarily on Hutton’s 1931 Census criteria, The British Government opted for caste instead of individual as the primary basis for inclusion in the list. Caste appeared to British rulers a social unit, which included more or less similar kind of individuals in attitude, behavior, literacy rate and socio-economic conditions.  They found caste as easier way to find out their rank in the socio-economic hierarchy.
  • Categorization of Indian social-structure – the Imperial authorities recognized the following as weaker sections of society, which need special care of the Government for their development–
    • Scheduled Castes
    • Scheduled Tribes
    • OBCs – Other Backward Class
    • Women and Children, and
    • Minority Communities.
  • Scheduled Caste Order of 1936 Scheduled Caste Order of 1936 officially recognized through a legal process the castes belonging to lower strata of Indian Society under the name of scheduled caste”. Initially there were about 40 million people, belonging to 432 castes in SC’s list. No Indian Christian or Buddhist or tribal was included in that list.
  • After IndependenceA major change came after independence. All political parties advocated Reservation Policy vehemently for marginalized sections of society almost in all government jobs.
  • Equal opportunity as fundamental rightConstitution of India through Article 16 guarantees equal opportunity and equal protection to all in employment or appointment to any office under the State, irrespective of caste, creed or gender, descent, place of birth or any of them.
  • Directive PrinciplesSimultaneously in its Directive Principle chapter directs the government to provide within 10 years free and compulsory education to all children below 14 years and to promote with special care educational and economic interests of weaker sections.
  • Emergence of strong pressure groups on caste basisGroups of different castes and sub-castes had already emerged as strong pressure groups to serve their sectional interests. They now and then use blatantly caste-identity to put pressure on governments for inclusion in beneficiary’s list.
  • First & Second Backward Class commissions To find out issues responsible for the backwardness and find out its solutions in 1955 and in 1980. The first Backward Class commission had identified 2399 communities as backward comprising (about 32% of the total population). Second one, Mandal Commission identified 3743 castes (about 52% of the total population) as backwards.
  • Doubts efficacy of reservations More the regional political parties yielded to the demand of caste-based pressure-groups for inclusion in beneficiary list for Reservations, more resentment generated against Reservation Policy during 1970’s and 80s. Doubts were raised in public minds about the efficacy of reservation policy.
  • Left deep scars in public mind In 1990’s, after the decision to implement Mandal Commission Report and then in 2006, agitation against reservation took a major turn by forming a shape of national movement, affecting many parts of the country. Though the authorities were able to suppress it somehow, it left deep scars.
  • Led to Brain-drain – In search of greener pastures, cream of the nation was forced to leave their own motherland and move to foreign lands. Indian society has been partitioned again for the second time after 1947, talented youth settling abroad, leaving their old parents alone back home.
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June 22, 2018 Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | | Leave a comment

Government Services and Upper age limit in recruiments

         “When democracy becomes corrupt, the best gravitates to the bottom, the worst to the top.”

Henery George

There was a news in “Times of India” on page 1, dated  27. 10.09 that “Why do Other Backward Castes get seven chances, SC (Supreme Court) asks UPSC (Union Public Service Commission)”. The time has come when the question needs to be answered honestly why? Not only in regard to OBCs, but also SCs and STs. A general candidate gets only four chances.

The reasons for age-relaxation and other concessions in 1947 ,-(Situation at the time of Independence) – When India got independence in 1947, the exploitative British rule had already drained much of India’s wealth, left it divided and bleeding from the partition of the country, which made millions of Indians impoverished and homeless. There existed a noticeable inequality between various sections of society. The most vulnerable position was of lower strata of society; tribal and the women at the time of independence. Millions of people in rural, urban and tribal areas were living in abject poverty. The sight of their plight, life-styles and agonies were enough to make one’s hair stand on end. For them, even one full meal was a rare luxury. They were under-fed, under-read and under-clothed. They lacked gainful employment and basic resources of life. They could not live as humans in dignity and in self-respect.

Late-entry into educational institutions – The tragedy with the submerged sections of society was that without any solid support, they were unable to get out of the condition of abject poverty and slave like position, which they were living in. Late entry into educational institutions of the children of downtrodden because of abysmal living conditions and deterioration all round made it difficult to get a graduate degree at the same age as usually the youngsters of well-settled families got. They also took more time to get a graduate degree than general category candidates because of the family background and lack of proper atmosphere. They also found it difficult to compete with general candidates of the same age-group at the same standards; that too in three or four attempts as were given to general category candidates.

Purpose to give concessions – It is said that “Prescription works, when diagnosis is correct. ”The effort to save the downtrodden from inferiority complex and self-pity, to bring them into the mainstream and to remove the age-old inequalities, either inherited or artificially created, every thing altogether, led the fore-fathers of the constitution to give a little push to submerged sections of society. They wished to empower the marginalized sections of society. Therefore, the authorities of that time gave special concessions/privileges to compete with the stronger, inspire them and make their entry easier and possible into the echelons of power.

Well-settled sections of society accepted it gracefully at that time. They also found it unfair to deny a large number of people a fair share in the echelons of power and in shaping the destiny of the nation.  For the all-round progress of India and for keeping it united, it was thought necessary to tap and utilize the vast reservoir of human resource. India was having, but could not do so far because of unavoidable circumstances.

Who are backwards before and after Independence?

Before Independence – Up-till the Communal Award of 1932, the British Government at national level consistently refrained itself to giving any section of Indian Society any official classification on the grounds that it would be unfair to stigmatize any group by official acknowledgement of their low status. It considered it unfair because, Owing to social disabilities, to which members of the depressed classes are exposed, it would be in the highest degree undesirable that any official authorization might appear to extend to such qualification. The fluidity of social distinctions and the efforts of the classes, lowest in the scale, aided by social reformers, to improve their status, make it more desirable, that Government should abstain from doing anything, which would tend to give rigidity to these distinctions” (Indian Statutory Commission, 1930 VI, p 341).

Criteria to decide Backwardness – In July 1934, instructions were issued by an order to schedule a list of people entitled for preferential treatment in matter of education and appointment in Government and special electoral representation. The Government faced difficulties in deciding whom and by what standard must the people be included in the list of backwards.

Problems in deciding – There was no dispute about who were the untouchables in the South and Central Provinces. But northern and eastern states posed the problem – which groups ought to be treated at par with the untouchables of South and West. In Madras, Bombay and Central Provinces, untouchables formed a distinct and separate element of population, but in other provinces, untouchability was linked with unclean occupation. Untouchables were an integral part of the Hindu order.

According to Census 1931 – Hutton, the Census Commissioner had laid down the following tests to separate untouchables from backward i: –

  • Whether the caste or class is served by Brahmins,
  • Whether it was served by barbers, water carriers, tailors etc. who served caste Hindus,
  • Whether it polluted a high caste Hindu by contact or proximity,
  • Whether it was the one from whose hands a caste Hindu cannot take water,
  • Whether it was debarred from using public conveyances,
  • Whether it was debarred from entering into Temples,
  • Even the well educated persons of which caste were not treated on equal terms with that of caste – Hindu in any social intercourse,
  • Whether it was merely depressed on account of its own ignorance, illiteracy or poverty and but for that would be subject to no social disability, and
  • Whether it was depressed on account of the occupation followed and whether but for that occupation, it would be subject to no social disability. (Census of India, 1931 Vol.1, App1, p 472).

After Independence, weaker sections of Indian society

 

It was a big challenge for the authorities to include large number of population belonging to weaker sections the society into the main stream and solve their pressing problems.

Scheduled Castes – In 1951, Census showed that the percentage of SCs in the total population was 15.05%. The Government of India reserved 12.5% seats for SC (already enforce) and 5% seats for ST of the total available vacancies in any one year. The percentage of their Reservation was raised to 15% and 7.50% respectively on 25.3.70.

Along with their growing influence in political arena, many persons belonging to SCs’ community have come up socially and have become very powerful. Their influence is continuously growing over the years. All the concessions and schemes launched by the government in 1947 have benefitted  them. Now the powerful lobby of privileged classes want to retain their caste-identity as SC/ST/OBC, as it entitles them to avail many special concessions from the government in different areas. The government has to listen their voice, because the condition of majority of their caste-men, are unable to take the benefit from the plans and policies envisaged for their better future. Their condition is still very depressing because of their poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, lack awareness, understanding, and vision. And all the benefit is being taken away by the creamy layer of their caste-fellows.

Scheduled tribes – The total population of ST’s was of ST 6.31% according to 1951 census.  Government of India reserved 5% seats for ST of the total available vacancies in any one year. The percentage of their Reservation was raised 7.50% respectively on 25.3.70.

“Blessed with nature, celebrated by anthropologists and exploited by modern society, this has been the story of tribal. Partly by habitat and geographical isolation and partly on the basis of their distinctive tribal characteristics, they have remained socially isolated and far away from the mainstream. The failure of government to address the needs of the people living in poverty stricken regions or to build public infra-structure and utilities, especially in education and health-care, has given rise to many rebellion outfits in tribal areas, which have capitalized on these factors to build their zone of influence.

OBCs – OBCs form the majority. It comprises mostly rural people, who depend mainly on agriculture for their survival. Till 1992, it was left to provincial governments to look into the interests of OBCs.

At national level, the first Backward Commission, under Kaka Kalelkar’s Chairmanship, was appointed in Jan 1953 by the Government of India, to identify OBCs and recommend measures for their advancement. It submitted its Report in March 1955. It had identified 2399 communities as backwards comprising about 32% of the total population. In designating OBCs, the government had to depend on the existing lists of the state based on castes and communities as units and the list of Ministry of Education. It prescribed four criteria to identify OBCs-

  • Low social position in traditional caste hierarchy.
  • Illiteracy among the majority of a caste.
  • Inadequate or lack of representation in Government service, and
  • Inadequate representation in trade commerce and industry.

OBC’s According to First Backward Class Commission – According to First Backward Class Commission, the castes and communities, which were included in OBC list, were-

  • Communities, which suffered from the stigma of Untouchability.
  • Tribes living far away from the general social order.
  • Groups indulging in crime due to long neglect.
  • Nomads not having social respect.
  • Agricultural and landless laborers.
  • Tenants without occupancy right or with insecure land tenure.
  • Small landowners with uneconomic holdings.
  • Castes engaged in cattle breeding, sheep breeding or fishing or small scale.
  • Artisan and occupational classes without security of employment and sufficient remuneration.
  • Castes not having adequate representation in Government due to lack of education.
  • Socially and educationally backward Muslims, Christians and Sikhs social groupings, occupying low position in social hierarchy.

Second Backward class Commission – In 1977, under Art.340 of the Constitution, Second Backward Class Commission was appointed under the chairmanship of Mr. Mandal. Its report has completely overlooked Kaka Kalelkar’s remark made in 1955 that “The services are not meant for the servants…. But for the service of the society as a whole” and raised the idea of ‘empowerment’ as the aim of reservation and concessions to backward classes.

Mr. VP Singh on reservation for OBC – Mr. VP Singh, then the Prime minister, asserted, The question of poverty is not financial… The issue does not relate to the treasury, but to the throne and whosoever occupies the throne will also control the treasury. Occupying throne meant to him Bureaucracy, which is an important organ of power structure and it has a decisive role in decision making exercise. We want to effectively give to the depressed, downtrodden and backward their share in power structure and in decision making to run this country and improve things.”( Times of India, dt. September 2, 1990.)

Start of Reservations for OBC – The Central Government issued orders for 27% Reservation for OBC on 13.8.90. This was challenged in the court of law. The judgement was delivered on 16.11.92. Based on the Judgement, revised orders were issued on 8.9.93. Reservation for OBC started at national level from 1994.

Concessions Given to SCT

In order to increase the number of SC/ST in IAS, in addition to Reservation of posts, many other benefits have been given to them in direct recruitment. These are: –

  • Age relaxation. The maximum age of direct recruitment for SC/ST increased by 5 years.
  • SC/ST allowed taking as many attempts, to appear in the competitive examination, as they could avail.
  • SCT candidates qualifying by general standard not to be adjusted against quota.
  • SC/ST candidates exempted from payment of examination fees.
  • Separate interviews for SC/ST.
  • Pre-entry coaching classes organized by the Government for them.
  • Relaxation in standard to further improve their representation in the service.
  • If, in any particular year, the number of suitable candidates available is less then the number of reserved posts, the posts, so in excess, are to be treated as unreserved for that particular year. However, in the next year, the number of posts unreserved would be added to the reserved posts of that year. This carrying over process is to operate for a period of two years, at a time.
  • Reservation in Promotions,

Concessions given to OBC

The concessions to OBC’s are less than SC/ST in following respect: –

  • They get relaxation in upper age limit up to 3 years only,
  • Number of attempts available to them, within the relaxed age limit for appearing in competitive examination, are lesser than that of SC/ST.
  • Relaxation in standard of suitability has been prescribed to further improve the representation of OBCs

Women – Women, comprising of 50% of the total population of India represent a vast reservoir of human resource, which still remains untapped and un-utilized. Authorities have paid only lip service to women issues so far.

Discrimination against women – Women have suffered shocking inequalities for centuries and continue to be discriminated against. Most heinous crimes are still done against women irrespective of caste, creed, time or place such as infanticide, feticide, physical abuse, early marriage, illiteracy, unequal rights in marriage, divorce, inheritance, polygamy, inauspicious widowhood with severe disabilities and restrictions, restrictions on widow remarriage or Sati etc.etc. The list is endless. Till very recent past, most on them were illiterate, ignorant and confined them within the four walls of the house for centuries.

Till 1965, married women de-barred – On 17th July 1948, the Government of India announced that woman, too, were eligible for any public service including IAS and IFS (Hindustan Times, Milestone, P8, August 15, 1997). As late as 1965, married women were de-barred from appearing in the competitive examination or joining IAS. If they got married after the selection, their retention depended on the performance of their work. (All India Service (Recruitment) Rules 1954, introduced vide MHA Notification NO.13/7/56 (AIS) (III dt. 25.4.1957).

There is a proverb that “It is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than an ignorant satisfied.” To run the administration of a country smoothly, a band of ‘permanent, paid and professional/capable officers’ —efficient, prompt, just and sympathetic— are required to serve in the different disciplines of bureaucracy/civil services. Civil service is an indispensable part of any government, which provides continuity to it on a long-term basis.

Government servants not only dig expert knowledge from the raw material, but give it a shape with a sense of commitment. Due to its exclusive and specialist nature of work, need for more expert knowledge in governance, to improve the delivery system as well as to make quality of life of common-men better, the importance of appointing well-qualified persons at each level of administration increases day-by-day.

Shri C. Rajagopalachari, “For any administration to be good and efficient, as a whole, we want right type of men. The quality of men placed in position is more important than laying-down of rules and methods of operation”

Recruitment in Civil services – For a government responsible for running the administration of the country, it becomes a matter of crucial importance to constantly review and make improvements into the systems, procedures and methods of recruitment to the various government services. A good recruitment system would make it possible for the government to nurture and utilize the best talents in the country for the service the nation and its people.

Qualifications for entering into class I and II government services – 

Minimum Educational Qualifications for IAS Exam – No change has been made as far as educational qualifications are concerned. During British rule and after Independence, any graduate from recognized university can appear in the competitive examination for entering into the Central Government Services. The candidate must hold a degree of any of Universities incorporated by an Act of the Central or State Legislature in India or other educational institutions established by an Act of Parliament or declared to be deemed as a University under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, or possess an equivalent qualification.

Age limit At present there is no rationale in enhancing the upper age limit of entering into higher civil services in Government services. So far, the step of relaxing the upper age limit, has neither brought down the numbers of unemployed youth, nor given enough opportunities to submerged sections of society to join the mainstream of society. At present is the age limit for entering into government services are continuously change and raised 40-42 years in certain provinces. It is as following for UPSC exams. –

Issue Upper Age Limits for entering into government jobs – The age -limit for entering into government services keeps on changing from time to time. At present, different government jobs at centre and states have different age limits (maximum) ranging from 24 to 42.

Since beginning the age limit for entering into government services was usually from 21 to 24 years. At present it has been raised upto 32 years +

  • Candidates belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe – up-to a maximum of five years.
  • Candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes –  up-to a maximum of three years.
  • Individual cases of persons belonging to Ex-servicemen, persons domiciled in the State of J & K, blind, deaf-mute and orthopedically handicapped etc.
General 32 Years
OBC 35 Years
SC/ST 37 Years
PWD 42 Years
J & K Domicile GEN=37 Year, OBC= 40 Year, SC/ST=40 Year, PH=50 Year
Disabled servicemen. GEN=37 Year, OBC=40 Year, SC/ST=40 Year.

Concession on Attempts at examination – The general category candidates, appearing at the Civil Services Examination, are permitted only four attempts at the examination (for both Prelim and Mains). An attempt at a Civil Services Preliminary Examination is deemed to be an attempt at the Examination. If a candidate actually appears in any one paper in the Civil Services Preliminary Examination, he / she are deemed to have made an attempt at the Examination. Notwithstanding the disqualification / cancellation of candidature, the fact of appearance of the candidate at the examination is counted as an attempt.

But there is no restriction on the number of attempts for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates. They can appear every year in examination till they attain the age of 35. The number of attempts permissible to candidates belonging to Other Backward Class is seven. A physically handicapped gets as many attempts as are available to other non-physically handicapped candidates of his or her community, subject to the General Category shall be eligible for seven attempts. The Civil Services relaxation will be available to the physically handicapped candidates who are eligible to avail of reservation applicable to such candidates.

The jobs in Central civil services are the most sought-after one. Still over 3-4 lack candidates apply for preliminary tests every year. Its entrance examination is one of the toughest globally. The prolonged examination system has always been more of a rejection than a selection process. With about 50 % reserved quota for SC, ST and OBC, it has become very difficult for general category candidates, even the talented ones, to enter into Higher Civil Services in Government of India. Now talented youth of non-quota category prefer to join either private sector or go abroad in search of a job, where there is still some recognition and appreciation for their talents.

Age relaxation unable in bringing desired results – As far as for reserved category, experience of yester years has shown again and again that age-relaxation and other concessions given to so-called ‘SC’,’ST’ or ‘OBC’ have not yielded the desired results. Concessions need to be given only to deserving candidates on rational grounds at right time, in right quantity and quality. The way, these concessions have been bestowed to different sections so far, has given rise to many social, political and economic issues. It has generated resentment in the hearts of general category candidates for not giving recognition to talent and merit. It has rather led the talents of the nation not to join government services, but to choose other avenues like migrate to advanced nation or join private sector.

There is also a deep resentment  in the hearts of reserved category candidates about promotions/career progression of reserved category candidates at higher levels of the services or for theirs very bleak chances of reaching upto the top. It has dividing the society into many uncompromising groups.

Lack of political will – Continuance of quota- system with relaxation in upper age-limit and other concessions to SC/ST/OBC has given birth to anger in the hearts of general category youth against the authorities, who still favor such discriminatory practices it without any rhyme or reason, not because downtrodden are benefitting or would benefit from them, but because it only serves the vested interests of a few.

Vote bank politics has led Political leaders to treat the ailment of backwardness, born out of illiteracy, ignorance and social oppression through discriminatory policies and practices. They want to entrust power in weak hands without making them strong enough to fulfil their responsibilities judiciously.

Why so many attempts to quota people? – Time and again people do ask why even today age relaxation and seven to nine-ten attempts are being given to the candidates belonging to OBC or SC/ST categories in Competitive Examination conducted by UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) for entering into higher civil (government) services in India. Leave aside the public, even institution like Supreme Court has also asked the government “Why do Other Backward Castes get seven chances, when a general candidate gets only four chances – SC (Supreme Court) asks UPSC (Union Public Service Commission)”, Times of India” on page 1, dated, 27.10.09.

Time has come, when the government needs to review its policy regarding these concessions and whether such relaxation/concessions have really empowered or improved the overall position of submerged sections of society? Is not the Article 16(4) of the constitution being misused for vote-bank politics and vested interests of politicians, political parties and powerful lobbies/creamy layer of SCs, STs or OBCs groups? Are quota people still justified in asserting their claim for age relaxation, lowering of standards and other concessions for getting easy access in the higher government services and move up into the ladder of their career without hindrance and much effort? Time has come when the answer to these questions should be found out.

Recruitments on administrative posts in Government? – For efficient, effective and good governance of a nation, the basic requirement is to place ‘right persons at right place on right time’.

Catch them young – During British rule and after Independence, any graduate from recognized university can appear in the competitive examination for entering into higher civil services of India. The upper age limit for general category people was 21 to 24 years.

It was believed that the government organizations looked for recruiting personnel at entry level, who were young, and energetic. At middle level and senior level, they appointed well-trained and experienced persons. Government institutions didn’t prefer to appoint persons above 35. It is felt that average age for mid-management should be around 27-30 and for senior management from 30 to 40 years.

Why Young? – The trend for catching people at young age was becauseit is the most creative, energetic and impressionable years of life. Young people possess fresh knowledge, open to new ideas, bring in radical thoughts, positive and flexible in attitude/approach. They are hard-working, innovative  and prepared to take risks, and capable to face challenges . They are tech-savvy and appreciate soft skills, which is the requirement of present day.

‘Catch them young for various jobs and train them for accordingly’ – For recruitment at entry level in government services, the principle should be ‘Catch them young for various jobs and train them for accordingly’, Young people may not be fully matured, may need guidance and may need to be disciplined.

Deficiencies in educational system – The deteriorating standard of education is incapable to equip much needed dynamism, knowledge and skills to perform their jobs in responsible manner, when they enter into a professional life. The present scheme of education and training has failed in introducing dynamic and responsible people in the governance of the nation. The quality of education is such, that it hardly makes majority of students either intellectually competent or motivated to do constructive work in responsible manner.

Overcrowding in institutions of higher learning – The requirement of a degree for getting white collard jobs has resulted in over crowding the institutions of education and training. The stress on quantitative increase has subverted all the attempts to improve the quality of teaching and learning. It has led to continuous fall in the standard of higher education. The examination and evaluation system tests only a narrow range of skills, especially those of memory and suffers from grave errors, so much and so, that people question the legitimacy of a modern education system itself.

A well-planned system of training is needed to make up for these inadequacies. Many people insist to follow the dictum of “Catch them young and train them well” in their respective areas of work accordingly. At higher level of management in their various disciplines, Government  may appoint well trained experts from other government, private or public institutions and prepare a team of dynamic, responsible and visionary persons having adequate knowledge , Who can guide and monitor the activities of junior/field officers properly.

Recruitment at young age and training system in army – Today, when other democratic institutions have lost public faith, the Defense Services are still keeping up some standard. The candidates passing out from National Defense Academy commands a high esteem in public’s eye, when they start their career as army officers. They have proved that they form the best disciplined cadre of officers – dynamic, sincere, responsible and dedicated to their duties. They do not hesitate to sacrifice their today for making others’ tomorrow safe and peaceful.

Selection of army officers – The selection of army officers is done after higher secondary education on the basis of written examinations and a thorough interview testing aptitude, leadership qualities, general ability and intellectual acumen. After their selection, they get four years of rigorous training – three years in NDA at Kharakwasla, and for one year in IMA at Dehradun in the case of Army, Hyderabad in the case of Air Force and Cochin in the case of Navy.

Training more successful during formative years of life – The training of army personnel is done at the age, when their minds are still in formative stage. The training is so tough and seriously imparted that either trainees come up-to the desired standard or quit it in between, if they were unable to cope with the rigors of the tough training and disciplined way of working. The officers are given further education and initial training under strict supervision of seniors. The three years training in NDA prepares them for performing their duties as armed forces officers well. By the time they pass out, they are well equipped with basic requirements of their jobs.

Similar is the practice in the field of medicine and engineering – Selection immediately after higher secondary and then further education and thorough training in their specific discipline for a period of four years. India has earned a name globally in IT sector. A small band of officers for Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers are well known for their expertise and efficient performance. It is well known that Indian Engineers, especially from IITs and Indian Doctors are in great demand abroad.

Pre-entry training of young minds – Recently Kota in Rajasthan has developed into a coaching hub for IITians. It has produced many toppers and send hundreds to engineering colleges. Now-a-days competition has become so tough that it is never too early for learning. Many coaching institutes in Kota, and elsewhere in Rajasthan Assam and Punjab are planning to start special training programs (Pre-foundation Career Care Program (PCCP) aimed at “better conceptual understanding” for students of Standard VIII. It is meant to develop a “scientific temperament, mathematical aptitude, problem-solving skills, reasoning and competitive psychology” at an early age, no matter whether students pronounce/comprehend these phrases or not.

Suggestion for early recruitment in government services – It is advisable that the cadre of officers engaged in the task of governance should be selected early to equip them with intellectual, moral and physical qualities essential to perform the complex and delicate job of development administration effectively and efficiently. While their minds are still in the formative stage, it is easier for the Government to take a purposeful approach to articulate the required thinking, attitude and knowledge in them.

Job-oriented education and training will imbibe in them intellectual knowledge, qualities, attitudes and skills according to the increasing and diversified needs of the modern administration, such as social purposefulness, public service consciousness, ability to understand administrative, political and economic implications of a problem, resourcefulness in solving them, creativeness, dynamism, up to date knowledge in their particular discipline, capacity for team-work, good fellowship, ability to cooperate, alertness in grasping a situation and quickness in assimilating relevant facts and persuasiveness in presenting their point of view. It will deepen the awareness of professional norms. It will facilitate the Government to have right type of people required for an efficient administration.

Analysis

“Empowerment of weaker sections” – Experiences of more than sixty years show that these concessions for SCT/OBC at national level could not achieve the desired goals. It could not make qualitative change in the pathetic condition of majority of people belonging to weaker sections or could ‘empower’ them so far. Their problems still remain intact. “Empowerment” is only a political slogan as of date. Presence of a few persons of a section in power structure does not change the destiny of its majority. These political campaigns mislead people and betray the cause. Reservation is mirage. It is a benevolent gesture of the authority to tame people. It does not give real benefit to the cause of disadvantaged or help in their emancipation.

Not benefitted the people for whom it was meant – It could not benefit the deprived masses much, for whom it was meant.  It also failed to bring most of them into the mainstream or to improve their status. Still about 48% of Indian population is living below or at poverty line. Poverty and its associated ills like illiteracy, ignorance, sloth; ill-health etc. has adversely affected the lives of millions of Indian people and deprive them from joining the corridors of power. It has always been a big challenge before the government to channelize creatively the energies of the Youth of submerged sections of society.

Addition in the problems of downtrodden – There seems no rationale to give the benefit of age relaxation to SC/ST/OBC now, especially when the age limit has already been extended from 24 years to 30 years for all. Instead of helping these submerged sections of society, it has increased their problems. In fact, age relaxation for SCs, STs and OBCs has generated many social and administrative problems, such as: –

Family burdenA few lucky SCT aspirants are able to manage some financial aid from the government or any other institution to meet their expenses for higher education to meet their expenses for higher education like tuition fee or hostel expenses plus a bit of pocket money from the Government or other institutions or sources. For the rest, their poor parents meet the entire cost for higher education and other expenses up-till they attain the age of 33 or 35, while taking all the attempts. In addition to it, since backward communities practice the system of early marriage, the full responsibility of raising-up the entire families of young aspirants and taking care of their basic needs too falls on the already weak shoulders of their poor, deprived and disadvantaged old parents.

Overcrowding in institutions of higher education – Requirement of graduate degree and to pass time, while preparing for the competitions, most of the youth join Universities and Colleges aimlessly. It has its own adverse affects. It results in over-crowding the Institutions of higher education. There is too much pressure for admissions in the colleges and universities. The academic standards are continuously on decline. Numerous fake institutions are created. It also leads to unbalanced growth in the number of educational institutions, unrest and indiscipline amongst the students and politicization of the temples of learning.

Difficult to train -Late entry into the Service makes the task of training very difficult. When the minds of youth are still at formative stage, entry into a service/profession makes the task to train easy. With the advancement of age, attitude, habits and skills of a fully grown up person hardens and adaptability diminishes. It becomes difficult to unlearn unwanted learning or to change the habits and behaviors in accordance with the future role.

 Waste of Human resourceAge relaxation has also led to the waste of Human resource as well. Every year lacs of youths chase a very limited opening. Amongst them only a minuscule number succeed. Every year, the future of a vast majority of youth belonging to submerged sections gets jeopardized. It appears to be a colossal waste of the energies of the younger generation, while they prepare for the Civil Services examination year after year and try to succeed without much hope for such a long time. The most energetic, impressionable, imaginative and creative prime time of the youth of those candidates, who do not get selected, gets wasted. It could be gainfully utilized through proper career planning. The present system has become a vast machine producing educated unemployment/underemployment.

Frustration of youth The failure generates frustration in the minds of youth. At the age of 33-35, after taking all the attempts, a vast majority of unsuccessful SCT candidates just do not know how to find out new avenues for their future course of action. By that time, it becomes too late for them to find out a job elsewhere or to make a fresh start. It is difficult also for to get an opening elsewhere, for the simple reason that others – general candidates, who are non-beneficiaries of age relaxation advantage – have already occupied the space in other Government posts or in public sector or private sector, five years ago. It makes SCT youth more depressed and helpless.

Frustration of never finding a suitable job, abysmal living conditions and deterioration all round usually result in frustration, which is turn, generates inferiority complex and self-pity, considering themselves incapable of competing by general standards with others. Sometimes their frustration generates anger against others, leading them to violence and agitation. Instead of coming to terms with the situation, they develop an attitude to blame others for their lost opportunities and miseries. Their anger easily finds illusionary base against an “Imaginary-enemy”, sometimes region-wise, sometimes community-wise and sometimes caste-wise or language-wise. Their anger forces many of them to join aggressive political groups to channel their anger and inchoate feelings.

Conclusion

Now in the twenty first century, many people do not understand the rationale of reservation policy. Quite often, question arises in their minds – has the age relaxation for SC, ST or OBC in UPSC competitive examination truly helped these communities to empower themselves or upgraded their social and economic status and led to their sustainable development? No doubt, a very small number of persons, like a few drops in the ocean, have been benefitted by it. But what about the vast majority?

If under-representation is criteria, then why not for women

If any homogeneous group in India deserves special concessions in matter of age relaxation, it is that of women. All the arguments about ‘near absence of in power echelons/seriously under-represented in the echelons of power, discrimination, oppression, exploitation due to their inferior social position in the past’, remaining disadvantaged from time immemorial because of sociological reasons or denial of basic human rights by the socio-political authorities stand valid in the case of women irrespective of caste or creed.

Why women need special attention of the government? – The need of special attention or giving some concessions to women in matter of opportunities arises, not because they are intellectually inferior or not fit enough to take up responsible jobs, but because they have sacrificed the most crucial and energetic years of their life in taking care of the future generation and thus, serving the nation by giving to it confident and good citizens. They, as mothers, cultivate in their children positive qualities, which once imbibed, inevitably become part of one’s nature and provide guidelines for their wholesome behavior pattern in future. For such valuable contribution to the society and the nation, if they could not be rewarded, then at least, they should not be punished.

Democracy demands equal opportunity to all

Granting any exclusive concession to any community or section of society on the basis of government’s policy of Reservation or granting special concessions to some is discriminatory by its very nature. It is a very sensitive issue, because for a few persons, it may yield positive results, but for the rest, it is a negative step. Denial of equal opportunity to any individual in any walk of life simply means denying to its citizens basic human rights to grow, govern and give ones best to the nation. As Irving Kristol has said ‘Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions- it only guarantees equality of opportunity’. Government of a democratic country should always try to ensure for all its citizens equality of opportunity to develop their personality to the fullest regardless of birth, circumstances, gender or race.

Need to Review the policy – The time has come, when the whole scenario should be visualized and analyzed honestly without any bias in the light of present atmosphere. Time has changed. The valid grounds for giving age relaxation and other preferences in matter public employment needs to be reviewed. Can the old arguments of 1947 of near absence of SC/ST/OBC in power echelons or their exploitation still be justified in 2011? Is not the Article 16(4) of the constitution being misused for vested interests of some people? If any section of society deserves age relaxation for the entry into civil services, on the grounds of being disadvantaged from time immemorial, or being busy in a more important job of raising their families and taking care of future citizens to the nation in responsible manner, it is the women only irrespective of caste or creed, not SCs/STs/OBCs.

Way out

Make people capable – To uplift the position of marginalized sections of the society and to include the vast reservoir of human resource, which has still remained untapped and unutilized to a great extent even today, the first step would be to make them capable of holding the power judiciously. It necessitates providing a good and congenial atmosphere for development of their personalities and inculcating in them knowledge, attitude, work-habits and skills through sound education and training..

Inspire the people – The second step would be to inspire submerged sections of society to join the mainstream. It necessitates providing enough job-opportunities and give to them suitable atmosphere to work, which means toning up the system. The traditional values, religious beliefs, socio-economic-political set up and circumstances, which create hurdles on the way of their inclusion in the mainstream, should be removed. The intensity of their adverse affect varies from group to group and from region to region. The task of involving them in developmental tasks/nation building activities needs national determination and political will.

Some other measures needs to be taken to enhance self-esteem and the active participation of SC,ST and OBC along with other sections of society in nation building, like : –

  • First of all, policy makers should accept that liberation means liberation from atrocities.
  • Provide ‘education to all’ in order to inculcate scientific temper and courage to fight against evil social practices. Easy access to Open University and distance education programs could be considered for this purpose,
  • Provide more and more job oriented vocational courses for them,
  • Promote entrepreneurship,
  • Facilitate credit by providing financial assistance,
  • Create awareness to fight social evils and superstitions,
  • Create awareness about the opportunities available to them,
  • As an Economic and industrial measure, reorganizing Village economy like development of livestock, minimum wages, development of rural and cottage industries, handloom industry, village oil industry, coir industry. Village handicrafts etc.
  • Create awareness about the legal infrastructure of the nation, especially the special legal measures to protect them from atrocities and exploitation.

Mr. Kalelkar’s opinion – In his note of dissent Mr. Kalelkar noted- “National solidarity in a democratic set up demands Government to recognize only two ends – the individual at one end and the nation as a whole at the other”…. “Mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust are the touchstone, on which all communal and denominational activities will be tested and anything that undermines it, will be expected and brought to book.I (BCC I, para IV)

“The special concession and privileges accorded to Hindu Castes acted as a bait and bribe” and inciting other communities.

“It is only, when a community or a group is proved to be working under a special handicap and is not allowed to freely function as a citizen, that the state may intervene and make a special provision for the advancement of such under privileged and handicapped communities or persons… A general formula for helping all persons to whatever caste or community, they may belong, should be made.” ( BCC I, para VIII).

Mr. Kalelkar concluded that giving an additional weapon in weak hands was no remedy. The remedies, the commission suggested were worse than the evil, they were out to combat. In his letter forwarding the report, Kalelkar remarked I am definitely against Reservation in Government services for any community for the simple reason, that services are not meant for the servants, but they are meant for the service of society as a whole.

June 14, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Secondary School education in Government schools and Teenagers

There is no requirement of atom bombs or long range missiles.Lowering the quality of educational system, is enough to destroy any nation.

One of the root causes of increasing number of juvenile crimes is inability of the Government schools to give admissions to all adolescent children in schools. For middle class and upper class people, there is not much of a problem, because by spending money, they can send their children to private schools. But to educate their children, poor people solely depend on government schools.

Education for All – In India, according to Right of Children to free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 instruct government schools to give admission to all children above six years of age. According to described in DRTE Rules 2011, “It is to be ensured that the student gets admission in a school within 14 working days from the date of the submission of application as per neighborhood criteria.”

Connection between Secondary education and Adolescence – Special focus of Government should be on Secondary education (class VI to Class XII), when adolescent children (in the age group of 12 to 18) learn and develop their personality in negative or positive way. Adolescence is a transitional stage of physical and psychological development that generally occurs during the period from puberty to legal adulthood (age of majority. It is the most creative, energetic and impressive age in human life also. This is the time, when the minds of growing up children are in a formative stage. This period should be utilized to increase knowledge, understanding of growing up children and develop attitudes, which could help them to move ahead and get better adjusted to their working environment. They should be facilitated by the government’s educational system to learn, how to acquire and apply their knowledge and skills in the world of realities. Secondary School’s education should develop power of observation and thought-process, mental and moral faculties of growing-up children in a positive way. 

Secondary education, the weakest link of Indian education system – However, Secondary school education is the weakest link of Indian education system, which allows a large number of teenagers/adolescent boys and girls out of school. It is not good for their personality development of in right direction. Empty mind is devil’s workshop. To earn money by hook or crook is their basic necessity to survive. It is easier for them to adopt the wrong way. Bad company, poverty or charm of consumerist world drives them towards wrong direction. In order to spend their spare time, a large number of teenagers join criminal world just for the sake of thrill they get, to get handsome amount of money from the local Dons. Some of them choose the path of violence, snatching, stealing etc. Other option for them is to remain poor forever and join the band of unemployable, unskilled labor-force, work as daily-wagers.

Upper Age limit for Non-Plan Admissions in Govt. secondary schools – In government secondary schools, under ‘Planned Scheme’, there is no problem of admission for students coming from primary feeder schools, whatever may be their age at the time of there is no problem of admission for students from primary feeder schools, whatever may be their age. However, for Admission under ‘Non-Planned Scheme’, the circular issued by GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL CAPITAL TERRITORY OF DELHI, Directorate of Education; School Branch, Old Secretariat: Delhi-110054, No. DE.23 (363)/Sch.Br./2016/1553, Dt. 19.09.2018 fixes upper age limit criteria for admissions in government schools. Many children are announced ineligible for getting admissions in Secondary schools because of their being overage as per the circular mentioned above.

Upper age limit for Non-Plan admissions according to this circular – According to the above mentioned circular, appropriate age should be at the time of school admissions in primary and secondary schools on 31st March of the year 2018 is as follows –

  • Class 1  – Age 4+, but less than 5 years.
  •   ”      II –  Age 5+, but less than 6 years and so on and so forth.

 For admissions in Secondary schools –

  •   Class  VI –  10+, But less than 12 years,
  • ,   ”      VII – 11+, But less than 13 years,
  •    ”       VIII – 12+, But Less than 14 Years.

According to this circular, only 6 months age relaxation can be given to an overage candidate seeking admission in a government’s secondary school. But Government does not mind giving age relaxation up to 10 years at the time of recruitment in Government jobs to backward sections of society (OBC, SC & ST candidates). Is there any rationality in giving age-relaxation of only 6 months in education and when it comes to giving government-jobs and empowering weaker sections of society, the government can give the age relaxation up to 10 years?

Government Circulars like this issued from time to time denies admission to poor, SC, & ST children in govt. schools.  Upper-age limit criteria Such circulars or notifications are not beneficial for the sustainable development of continuously increasing large number of teenagers of the poor, rural and deprived sections of society, who start their education rather late, nor for the submerged sections of society, still remaining far away from the mainstream of the nation. The creamy layer of the Scheduled castes, Scheduled tribes  and Other Backward Castes take advantage in the name thousands of poor masses belonging to these sections of society. It neither improves the quality of education nor is good for the sustainable development of society and the nation as a whole.

Provision of open schools – It is often suggested by the school authorities to get over-age adolescent children belonging to poor, ST/ST or OBC sections of society, who could not be admitted in their regular schools, to seek admissions in Open Schools instead of keeping them out of school. But it does not serve the purpose. It is not a viable alternative for the growing up children still in their formative period of life. In regular schools, children remain busy throughout the day. They hardly get spare time to get trapped in bad company. Initially Open Schools were opened for the persons,  to increase their educational qualifications, who have already employed and because of their busy schedule, do not find enough time to join regular schools.

Social issues linked with poor quality of education – Many social evils/burning problems are linked with a large number of adolescent children remaining out of school throughout the day, like –

  • Quality of education –  Along with many other measure to be taken for providing quality of education to all its future citizens, the first step is to give admissions to students in different grades or classes should be on the basis of child’s ability to understand and grasp, what is being taught and level of knowledge one’s about ‘3 R’s’.
  • Increasing number of juvenile crimes – Mostly adolescent boys, and girls, who are not mature enough to take to take right decisions, get trapped in criminal or terrorists activities. Therefore, it is very necessary to keep them busy throughout the day in creative activities.
  • Reservations – Providing more than 50% reservations in government jobs thus instead of making youth self-dependent, government makes a large number people dependent on crutches forever.
  • Brain-drain – A large number of talented youth are either joining private sector helping rich to become richer or shift every year to foreign lands, in search of better working atmosphere, better career prospects and fatter salaries.
  • Problem of providing proper care, safety and security to the senior citizens, as it is difficult to manage their basic needs economically or get themselves adjusted emotionally in foreign lands.

Conclusion – Amongst all the challenges, the most crucial one is about improving the education system. Children of present day need to learn  independent thinking. Education system should not focus only on giving information and knowledge. Children of present day need to learn  independent thinking , but it also give importance to creativity, wisdom and experience as well.  To nip The negative feelings and criminal mindset needs in the bud, sound system of education and training is very necessary, which could keep the minds of the growing up children occupied throughout the day.

Weaknesses of secondary school system are neither good for the sustainable development of adolescent boys and girls of the poor and deprived sections of society, who start their education late, nor for society or the nation. To improve the quality of education, first thing to do is that eligibility criteria of for giving admissions in secondary schools in different grades or classes should be on the basis of child’s ability to understand and grasp, what is being taught and level of knowledge one’s about ‘3 R’s’ rather than his/her age.

 

 

 

May 22, 2018 Posted by | Education and training of civil services, General | Leave a comment

Past, Present and Future

These days, there are a number of messages in social media teaching the people that past is past, live in present and do not bother for future. However past, present and future are so tightly intertwined with each other that one can not separate it or can live in present only. Any person can neither be cut of from one’s past, nor can be happy without planning rationally for one’s future.

In a very fast changing world , nothing can be more disabling than its idolization of past; nothing can be more needed than the constant interpretation of past experiences and present circumstances. Many opinions, structures, systems and principles have been evolved for the benefit of the society throughout the world for time immemorial, which have created such a wave that sweep over the entire world. They remained in vogue for some time, then faded. An anti-wave emerges, soon it wipes off the previous influence and replaces the previous waves and gives way to new structures, systems and concepts.

Present should be a constant challenge to the opinions of past. Any structure, system, form, attitude, tradition, or outlook, which appears more effective and beneficial in the light of modern times, should be replaced by a better one. But at the same time, it is suicidal to sacrifice an ancient structure, form or an attitude to an increasing passion for change.

A great transformation is under way, not only in India, but every where in the world. A huge socio, economic and political churning is going on the margins of society at all levels -be it individual level, local level, national level or international level. The whole of nineteenth and twentieth centuries, especially after the two World Wars are full of very fast changes going on every here due to technological advancement, especially due  to revolution in the spheres of information technology and mass media.

Time has never run so fast, as it does now in this space age.  Yesterday was not long ago and today is nearly over, with so much still pending to be done. Knowledge, due to revolution in information technology, is increasing much faster than human ability to handle it. There are changes in the strategy, structure and management techniques.  Socio-economic-political atmosphere is also in a stage of flux due to technological advances. These changes are posing a tough challenge before the people all-over the world.  Besides, the global society and national governments have to deal with living human beings, who are full of psychological and sociological complexes.  The rising aspirations and demands of people, with the spread of education and awareness create added problem for the political authorities of any nation. Globalization and international atmosphere, where America has emerged as the only super power since 1990, has posed further challenges before the global society.

The needs and aspirations of the people should be handled for the nation as a whole, not for any specific section of the society. The present day politics has given rise to many sectional forces and pressures groups. Some of these groups put their demands in a peaceful manners, while others are quite vocal and aggressive in attitude. They demand their rights, but ignore their duties. Groupism, violence, terrorism, and criminalisation etc. are some of the direct consequences. The Governments of different States pursue broad objectives and try to solve their respective problems separately on the basis of their specific needs and environment. For achieving the objectives, the cooperation of all the nations is necessary. To get this cooperation, it is equally necessary that they be well informed about the issues, policies, the programs and the activities.  Informed and vigilant leadership is a must for the success.

People, especially of developing and underdeveloped nations have 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 quite late there.  Today, the main thrust of the authorities should be on transferring knowledge, expertise, efficiency and application of science and technology through sound system of education and training.

Usually, confusions, suspicions or misunderstandings in human mind arise, when the fundamentals and knowledge about the ground realities of the values and systems, where one lives,are not clear. Or when rumours based on half cooked information, half-truths, partial or incomplete information are spread with a purpose to further one’s selfish interests or let down others. Many a times, such opinions turn out to be a great lie. It is quite harmful for the whole society and the nation.

In the end again it may be repeated that in a changing world, nothing can be more disabling than its idolization of past; nothing can be more needed than the constant interpretation of past experiences and present circumstances.

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Electoral-politics on Reservation issue

‘barbād gulistāñ karne ko bas ek hī ullū kaafī thā

                                             har shāḳh pe ullū baiThā hai anjām-e-gulistāñ kyā hogā’ .                                                                                                                                                                               Shauq Bahraichi

                                      Foundation of Present electoral Politics – ‘Populism, false Promises/propaganda, and Protectionist Policies.

World suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people. But because of the silence of good people.   Napolean

It is said that ‘Kisi desh ka vinash bomb se sambhav nahi: udaharan Japan; kisi desh ka vinash hajaro saalo ke atyachar se sambhav nahi: udaharan Israel;  Agar kisi desh ka vinash karna hai to Arakshan lagu kar do, ayogya log uchch pado me baith jaaye aur vinash apne aap ho jayega udaharan : Bharat.” It is not possible to destroy a nation by bomb (example Japan) or thousands years of atrocities can destroy a nation: example Israel. Only you have to start Reservations. Undeserving candidates would occupy high positions. And the nation will be destroyed by itself.)

Mughals ruled India for 300 years. Britishers Ruled for 190 years. Indian political leaders are ruling India for more than 70 years. Who is responsible for the deterioration law and order situation, so much crime and corruption? Are not the national leaders of Independent India responsible for the very slow development of the nation and for all the sufferings of common-men?

General elections are round the corner. Political Drama of electoral politics has already started. Every political debate now-a-days starts either with Secularism, Dalits/Backward/Upper castes or Reservation. Reservation is becoming one of the main and most important issue for all the political parties in the next  elections. All these are non-issues in present day atmosphere. For most of the politicians, people are not human-beings. They are just voe-making machines to be used to grab political power. All the time they plan how to manipulate votes for themselves? They teach different sections of society only to hate each-other on caste and community basis. There are not enough jobs. Corrupt practices  are siphoning off the tax-payers money. The issues on which the attention of the politicians needs to be focussed for giving relief to the majority of the people are – employment, affordable nutritrious food, education, good health, clean air, clean water etc.

In the past, the suggestion of Census Commissioner to exclude untouchables from Hindu fold, in the forthcoming 1911 census, had immediately increased the importance of untouchables in political circle, in social circle, and in their own eyes too. Granting special electorate to Muslims made the numbers important. Now the combination  of caste-politics along with numerical strength of different castes tends political parties to play cleverly their trump cards of empowerment of ‘Dalits’, ‘backwards’ and ‘minorities’. The hype to be one up in the elections has already started. The guiding factor for all the political parties is not the interest of the nation, development of all the sections of society and establish an inclusive society are not on the top of their list of priorities. Focus is only on building up stronger vote-banks base for themselves any how and win the elections.

Various Five Years Plans have so far identified the problem areas needed to be tackled for the development of the nation as a whole are over-population, universal poverty, illiteracy, health, absence of communication, paucity of drinking water, supply and irrigation. etc. Instead of focusing their attention towards providing sound education, training in income-generating skills of masses and improving health facilities etc. both the party in power and opposition parties are busy playing electoral politics. National interest demands to implement Integrated Development Plans and Sub–Plans efficiently and effectively.

Politics of revenge – Now and then, especially after the implementation of Mandal Commission recommendations in 1990, violent agitations engulf the whole nation. ‘Politics of revenge’ has been started. Anyone doubting the efficacy of Reservation Policy is labeled as a part of Manuwadi Brahminical system, which has for ages used religious scriptures, injunctions, propaganda and plain force to impose on masses its will and many deprivations. The politics of revenge makes people irrational, and the authorities to favour reverse discrimination for ever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rationale Of Reservation policy

Before analysing the Reservation Policy in its totality, it is necessary to know what do the people in favour and against the issue say –

Views of pro-reservationists

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

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

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

Views of Anti-reservationists

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

  • Contrary to principles of equality – Reservations are contrary to principles of equality, fraternity and social justice. There is something fundamentally wrong with Reservation Policy. In the name of social justice, fundamental rights of many deserving people are curtailed or negated. It benefits and increases the number of those, who are desirous to find an easier way-out. ◦Genesis of Reservation Policy in “Divide and Rule” dictum – Reservations were first introduced by the British rulers to “Divide” the Indian population and “rule” the nation as long as possible. The British government divided Indians on the basis of caste and community. British rulers, who got alarmed about the increasingly power and influence of Brahmins, purposely propagated myth of tyranny of the “Forward Castes”, especially of Brahmins over rest of the society. Therefore, British rulers pinpointed Brahmins as oppressors and tyrants, who wilfully kept others down. They encouraged anti-Brahmin formations in the South. They started the practice of fixing-up quotas in various educational-institutions and government jobs on one side and separate electorate for religious groups on the other.
  • Destroys unity of nation – Reservations were started in other parts of the country as well for backward communities. Now many politicians and their parties want to increase the percentage and extend its time-frame in order to create vote banks. Like Britishers, politicians and supporters of pro-reservation want to divide the nation, on the basis of caste, community or gender. Like British-rulers, they want grab and hold political power as long as possible. Already, there is a perplexing diversity in India along geography, culture, caste, religion and language lines. They are spreading venom in the heart of each identity against other. If not checked on time, communalism and casteism are bound to destroy the unity of the nation and narrow down the aspiration of people.
  • Good Governance requires services of most talented – The task of administration is one of the most difficult. It is so complex that it requires services of most talented, sincere, hardworking and honest people. A preference to a person with inferior talent over a person with superior talent is not only unjust but against national interests. Reservations in employment contemplates putting those on responsible positions in the government, “Who are not qualified for the job” – (Arun Shourie). And in the process, power passes from meritocracy to mediocracy (Nani Palkiwala). It also means that sub-standard services would be rendered to the general public.
  • Common-men suffer more – The policy of reservation affects adversely the efficiency of administration as a whole. Deteriorating standards of government institutions have already done irreparable damage to the development of SC/ST and OBC communities. The larger objective of eradicating the poverty and bringing the downtrodden in the main-stream could never be achieved by lowering the standards of education or governance. Does reserving a very few places for SC, ST & OBC satisfy the basic needs of millions of underfed, under-clothed and under-read people of India ?
  • Contributions of upper class – Kaka Kalelkar had said in, ‘Note of Dissent of First Backward caste Commission “It would be well, if representatives of the Backward-classes remembered that whatever good they find in the Constitution and the liberal policy of the Government, is the result of the awakened conscience of the upper classes themselves. Whatever Government is doing by way of atonement is readily accepted and acclaimed by the nation as a whole. The upper classes have contributed their share in formulating the policies of the Government. Removal of untouchability, establishment of equality and social justice, special consideration for backward classes, all these elements found place in the Constitution without a single voice of dissent from the upper classes.”                              Upper castes are still contributing their share through taxes (the money collected from taxes is supposed to be spent on developmental plans. Somewhere, they are supporting directly, elsewhere actively participating in formulating developmental policies of the government.
  • Quantity of reservation quota – So long as “only a few places” were kept aside for those severely disadvantaged, Harijans and Girijans, the people tolerated the policy as functioning of institutions did not stand much risk of being vitiated and consideration of caste and community were placed under control. But, when V.P. Singh announced to implement 27% for reservation in jobs for OBCs, in addition to 22.5% reservation for SC/STs in government jobs, heart burning and stir against Reservation Policy passed all the limits. The whole nation suffers because of poor governance, deteriorating law and order situation and inefficient & ineffective implementation of development plans and policies. Reason is very simple, right persons at right places are not there in the echelons of power.
  • Ignores merit – Reservation policy as it ignores merit. In 1947, when the Constitution framers were dealing with the reservation policy, members of Constituent Assembly showed clearly their concern for efficiency. Art. 335 directs that ‘reservations for SC/ST should be consistent with the maintenance of efficiency of administration.’                                                                                         Today the situation is that economy of the nation is in shambles, inflation is breaking all previous records, coffers are empty, and common man is suffering due to inefficiency and mal-functioning of the government, the nation can not afford to ignore merit and efficiency in such a situation. In Private Sector, survival and prosperity depends on merit. Private companies pick up the best talent available in the country from the educational institutions itself by conducting “Campus interviews” and does not allow sub-­standard working. They pay their employees well and give them incentives for their good work.
  • Discourages development of skills – Protectionist policies of government like Reservation etc. has affected adversely the attitude to develop their skills continuously, needed to succeed without the crutches of reservation. Even 70 years after the Implementation of Reservation policy, majority of SC, ST and OBC candidates could not gather the confidence to compete with general category people, the number backwards has increased. There is lack of competitive spirit amongst the reserved category castes people. They only clamour for enjoying their reservation rights. More and more castes are agitating for inclusion in beneficiary list of castes to avail the facility of reservations.
  • Making people lazy and increases malpractices – People of castes already included in beneficiary list have taken these concessions for granted and desire  to last for ever. It has made even competent persons amongst them lazy and complacent. Guarantee of share in power structure without much effort develops an attitude never value the dignity of labour and work hard. The reservation policy is adding fuel to this attitude. Obtaining false certification about caste is increasing in order to get the advantage of the limited spoils. It has raised the expectation of others as well.
  • Short time measure – In many provinces, scheduled castes were enjoying the benefit of reservation in proportion to their population since 1935. SCs were far away from the mainstream on account of “Untouchability” and STs because of “Social isolation due geographical reasons”. Therefore, Constitution extended State patronage to SC/ST for ten years i.e. till 1960, unless at the end of this period the concession is continued by an amendment of the Constitution, which was not very likely. It was hoped that underprivileged would be at least in a position to stand on their feet by 1960.Since then, everything has been changed.
  • Times have already changed – Successive governments have ignored the sweeping changes that have occurred throughout the country over the last 60 years. Through various measures, including Reservation Policy, people of all castes have progressed. Anti Brahmin movements in former Estates of Madras and Bombay had effectively eliminated Brahmins as a dominant political force. Lower strata of society had organized themselves, consolidated their economic and acquired political power. Through reservations they have succeeded in occupying position of power.
    • Shift of power in favour of Backwards – Political power has already shifted in favour of backwards, almost completely in the South and in massive strides in Bihar and UP, where they constitute nearly 40% of the Legislative strength. At State and local levels, especially in more populous rural areas their influence is continuously growing. Untouchables have made concerted efforts to mobilize themselves and to secure their upward mobility as may be seen in the case of Izhavas of Kerala, Mehars of Maharashtra, Chamars of UP, Meenas of Rajasthan, etc. Radical movement such as that launched by the militants Dalit Panther in Maharashtra have made the emerging strength of the lowest caste felt with increasing effectiveness.\
    • Rigidity of caste wearing out – Rigidity of caste has been gradually wearing out. Introduction of railways, opening of hotels and restaurants, radio, TV and cinema houses have contributed to the relaxation of caste prejudices and rigidities. Besides education and training, land reforms, industrialisation etc have brought awareness amongst backward castes. The end of many practices, which created distances between different castes in the past, is a hopeful sign and guarantee for the future well being of every Indian citizen.
  • New lease of life to caste – There has been one sphere of Indian life, where caste has not only held its ground but began to strengthen its hold. It has acquired a new lease of life in politics. Politics is the most important sphere of Indian life, where caste has not only held its ground, but began to strengthen its hold. Politicians of Independent India are making its increasing use in politics.•Time for gradual de-legitimization of caste – Yogendra Singh, Dean of Political Science in the Jawahar Lal Nehru University says, “Forty years have seen enormous differentiation in class and caste division. Caste should not be the central element in dispensing social justice. In fact, there should be a process of gradual de-legitimization of caste by finding scientific methods for the exit of SCs and STs from the reserved quota.” (India Today, September 30, 1990)
  • Distortion of historical facts – Political adventurers, dictators and fundamental fanatics have distorted the history in the past and used it as a ploy to serve their own selfish or partisan interests. It does not even matter to them, whether their own version of history is real or based on fantasy. When Hitler walked into Sudetanland, he claimed historical authority. When Mussolini attacked Ethopia in 30′s, he quoted history. When Zionists claimed Jeruselem, they tried to justify their act by citing history. When Saddam Hussain walked into Kuwait on August2, 1990, He staked his claim on the basis of raking up old history.                                                                                                And so had happened on August 15, 1990, when V.P. Singh announced 27% reservation for OBCs, it was hailed by his supporters as “A historic decision which will go a long way in giving the rightful share to socially and economically backward castes in the power structure of the country, of which they were denied under the pressure from the vested interests.”                                                     Besides, as Vasant Sathe of Congress (I) says “Reservation is no solution for a crime so many centuries old. Nor it is ethical to punish our present society for the sins of our fore fathers.” It is a law of jungle to hold responsible the present generation for the follies of its previous generations. According to Rule of law the present generation can not be punished for what their forefathers did.
    Undermines ‘Principle of Equality’ – Anti-reservationists argue that there was a case to end the quota business in 1960 itself. Yet it has been allowed to continue till today. The Indian Constitution is committed to two different principles both of which relate to equality: ‘principle of equal opportunities’ and “principle of redress’.
  • Now it is over due that ‘principle of equality’ be enforced in its true spirit without any favour. Since policy of reservation undermines the principle of equality, it should be gradually discontinued as had been done in the case of Anglo Indians in accordance with the Article 336 of the Constitution.
  • Inter and intra caste wars – Reservation policy does not consider all individuals equal. Instead caste becomes the basis to get this privilege. It leads to inter-caste rivalry. Anti-reservationists accuse the pro-preservationists for inciting the caste war by provoking public feelings. Brahmins and upper castes has been pinpointed as an enemy of downtrodden, who have always exploited the downtrodden mercilessly.
  • Reasons of backwardness other than caste – As has been said again and again that primary objective of the reservation system in India is to enhance the social and educational status of underprivileged communities and thus improve their lives by removing the poverty of the  downtrodden. It is to provide them enough opportunities to progress, make them capable to join the main-stream of the nation,  and empower them to contribute directly in decision-making process and progress of the nation. 
    Caste and community profile of people below the poverty line in India, as outlined in the Sachar Report.
    On September 2, 1897, George Francis Hamilton, the then Secretary of State for India, wrote to Viceroy Curzon, I think the real danger to our rule in India, not now but say 50 years hence, is the gradual adoption and extension of Western ideas of agitation and organization. If we could break the educated Hindu into two sections, holding widely different views, we should by such division, strengthen our position against the subtle and continuous attack, which the spread of education must make upon our system of Government.” ( Tara Chand, ibid. p 516.) The rulers succeeded in their mission to create a wide gulf between different sections of Hindu society.
    For the first, in 1885 the government officially recognized caste as a base for the purposes of governance. Eutice J Kitts, a British ambassador in Azamgarh District of United Provinces was the first one to list backward castes and tribes from 1881 Census. Other parts of the nation followed it. In the beginning various forms of positive discrimination had been introduced like providing free education to everyone and opening several hostels to make it easier for poor and rural areas to get educated. The objective was to give them financial assistance and preferences in education to them.
    Later on, since 1882, the practice of giving preferences was extended to Government jobs/employment at local and provincial level (especially in certain provinces of South India). To suitably employ such people  in government jobs, practice of quota system was started in favour of non-Brahmin and backward classes. Granting separate Muslim electorate through Government of India Act 1909,  (Minto Morley Reforms) brought the idea of communal electorate to the forefront. A significant measure was done during the Round Table Conference of 1932, when the Prime Minister of Britain, Ramsay Macdonald, proposed the Communal Award, according to which separate representation was to be provided for Muslims, Sikhs, Anglo Indians, Indian Christians, and  Europeans.                                                                                                                                                  On one hand, Imperial rulers had very carefully and effectively sidetracked the socially transformative movements of great scope, initiated by the National leaders, Reformers and intelligentsia. On the other, they made it almost impossible for educated Indians to enter into the corridors of power/higher civil services. They followed very strictly the dictum of  ‘White-men superiority’. Kimberley, the Secretary of State, wrote in 1893, it is indispensable that an adequate number of members of the civil services shall always be Europeans. They tried their best to keep decision-making power into their own hands. It was told very clearly to all upcoming groups, “With its utmost desire to do the best for these classes, the Government will be and is powerless to help them, unless they qualify themselves to the same extent as others of their countrymen for duties of administration and public.” (Times of India Archives, dated, May 3, 1918).
    At present, submerged section of society gets so many concessions to backward castes people to come up, as they had  basis of caste as for other reasons, like poverty, entry of caste into politics mainly because of electoral politics, deteriorated situation of law and  order, and corruption at all levels of governance. Kaka Kalelkar, first Chairman of First Backward class Commission had said, “If the backward communities have neglected education it is because they had no use for it (in the past). Now that they have discovered their mistakes, it is for them to make the necessary efforts for making the leeway…As far as the assistance in the matter of education for the backward classes, I am convinced that introduction of basic education in all the states with help the backward communities to cultivate self-confidence. They will also have a better chance of succeeding in life and have the advantage of mixing with other people.”
  • Glamorization of Backwardness –Earlier, backwardness was considered as stigma. People of lower castes attempted to improve mannerism in order to climb up in the ladder of social status. These days, many castes claim for a lower status and want to be included in the list of SC/ST, so that they may taste the fruits of reservation as well. No more any caste is ashamed of being called untouchable or backward. Reservations have created vested interests in the “Backwardness.” Now backwardness is a status symbol, because it eases the position, while one is in search of jobs. Therefore, more and more communities are clamouring for the “Backward class” tag.                Those in power find it politically expedient to oblige them. The list of castes wishing for reservations has become very long. Witnessing all this it stands to logic that the beneficiary group should be kept under constant review, so that who have over the years reached a stage where they could survive with dignity without any crutches, could be delisted.
  • Creamy layer of lower castes at advantage – Benefits of Reservations are confined within the creamy layer of lower strata, while, it was supposed to benefit ‘poorest of the poor’. How can all the 80% downtrodden be accommodated in power echelons by reserving only 49.552% jobs out of 1% of total government jobs available in the country? Naturally, only few people are benefited, others are given only false assurances during the times of elections.
  • Economic criteria as a basis – Anti-reservationists argue that consideration of caste instead of economic backwardness is not just. Reservations, if it is necessary should be given on the basis of ‘economic criteria’ to all the poor regard less of their caste identity. There should also be an income ceiling for SC/ST and others with the entitlement of their children for reservations in job and admission to educational institutions. Then only really deserving people could be benefited.
  • Led to Bain drain – Reservation has shaken the confidence of the youth of so called forward class. About 50% reservations in government jobs have left many deserving and intelligent youths unemployed or underemployed. Some of them choose the path of crime or violence. Unemployment has been one of the reasons behind Punjab and Kashmir problems. Many intelligent and hard working youth are losing their interest, rapidly, in government jobs. They prefer to go abroad in search of greener pastures, where they get good return for their talents and hard-work. In addition, they get job satisfaction because of tension free atmosphere at work-place. Reservations have, thus, led to brain drain. It has already squeezed out many meritorious by leading the country to massive brain drain.
  • Cry for social-Justice? – The attempt to establish a socialistic government does not carry much weight. The USSR a super power of pre-1990 days collapsed like a house of cards, despite having Socialistic government for last 70 years. With all its State control and public support, it could not provide expected relief to its masses. How could socialistic ideals provide relief to the masses in India, where there exists so much corruption and inefficiency in administration?
  • Feeling of alienation – Creation and perpetuation quotas in educational institutions and jobs has made backward classes alienated from the main stream. It is adversely affecting national solidarity. It is sowing the seeds of hatred among the people and put hindrances on the way of mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust necessary for the development of the nation as a whole. Along with it, efficiency or excellence, probity, integrity of institutions and trust, which are required for overall well-being are adversely affected.
  • Issue of Reservations need not be politicized – Reservations in government jobs need not be made an electoral programme, and be used as a mathematical formula to win elections. Governance is one of the most difficult and specialized tasks. Government employees are supposed to have sufficient professional knowledge and expertise in various disciplines – functional, technical, specialist as well as managerial and generalist – so that they could properly aid and advise the elected representatives of the people and dig for them the expert knowledge from the raw material, give it a shape with a sense of commitment. For attaining that expertise, they have to be equipped with knowledge in various educational institutions. Therefore, the government should be very careful while recruiting people in government jobs.                                                                                      If reservations are so important for politicians, wWhy not quotas be fixed by law to appoint by rotation, President, Prime Minister, Vice President, Cabinet Ministers, Ambassadors, Governors, Chief minister of every state, turn by turn from different castes? These posts are for a fixed period. In addition to it, if their performance is not satisfactory, they can be removed or changed.                   Wanchoo Commission Report, 1968, and Railway Reforms Committee Report, 1983, has pointed out that that reservations in jobs and promotions adversely affects the enthusiasm, incentive for hard work and devotion to duty and in-turn the efficiency and the morale of the civil servants. Sikri Commission on Railways, 1968, linked accidents with reservations. These three reports are just about one government department and that too when reservation is only 22.5% for SC/ST. What is going to happen, now when it is 50%? Who would be the ultimate sufferer. It is the innocent public only.
  • Double standard – The government itself has exempted certain services and posts from reservation in order to maintain efficiency, discipline and loyalty to the nation intact such as all the Defence Services, Scientific and technical posts in the Department of Space, Atomic Energy, Electronics, posts of pilots and top technical persons in Air India and Indian Airlines, all scientific posts of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, teaching posts in IITs and IIMs, private secretary to the PM and other Ministers, Planning Commission Members etc. (A Handbook on reservation for SC/ST compiled by Sharma and Purohit). It proves that the government maintains double standards.
  • Reservations for women – If any class in India needs reservation on the grounds of social discrimination or under-representation in power echelons, it is only the women in India. How about reserving 50% seats for them in all educational institutions and government jobs? That would be just their fair share and will not divide the society along the caste lines either. If politicians are eager to empower weaker sections of society, then why they have failed, so far, to provide reservations to women. Women have suffered due to discrimination, and different kinds of atrocities since centuries. They have to face many challenges in their efforts to join the main stream of the nation, much more than any other weaker section of the society. They comprise of 50% of the total population of the nation, still their share share in the power structure of the nation is the minimum.                                                                                                                                                    If law to provide Reservation for women can not be passed, then why not divide the reservation quota into two – 50% for male candidates and 50% for women candidates? Are the politicians supporting reservations so vehemently for ever are prepared to make such provision for women too?

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

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

Views of prominent persons on Reservation Policy At this stage, it would be appropriate to know the views of some eminent persons on reservation. These are as follows:

  • Mahatma Gandhi – In his book titled “India of my dreams” Mahatma Gandhi wrote: “So far as the reservations in the government departments is concerned, I think, it will be fatal to a good government, if we introduce there the communal spirit for administration to be efficient, it must be always in the hands of the fittest. There should be certainly no favouritism.”… “Distribution of posts should never be according to the proportion of members of each community. “… “Those who aspire to occupy responsible posts in the government of the country can only do if they pass the required test.”
  • Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru – In a letter dated June 27, 1961, addressed to Chief Ministers of various States, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, Ex-Prime Minister of India wrote, “I have referred above to efficiency and to our getting out of the traditional rut. This necessitates our getting out of the old habit of reservations and particular privilege being given to this caste or that group. It is true that we are tied up with certain rules and conventions about helping the SC/STs. That deserve help, but even so I dislike any kind of reservation, more particularly in services. I react strongly against anything which leads to inefficiency and second rate standards. I want my country to be a first class country in everything. The moment we encourage the second rate, we are lost.” “This way, lies not only folly but disaster.”
  • Kaka Kalelkar – As Chairman of the Backward Class Commission, Kaka Kalelkar expressed his views on reservation in education (Backward Class Commission Report, 1956, Vol. I, page X). He wrote: “As far as the assistance in the matter of education for the backward classes, I am convinced that introduction of basic education in all the States will help the backward communities to cultivate self-confidence. They will also have a better chance of succeeding in open competition and having the special advantage of mixing with people and serving them, they will prove themselves better administrators and leaders of society.”                                                                         On page VIII of the same report, he has expressed his views on reservation in government services too, as under: “I am definitely against reservations in government services for any community for the simple reason that the services are not meant for the servants but they are meant for the service of the society as a whole. Administration must have the services of the best men available in the land and these may be found in all the communities. Reservation of posts for certain backward communities would be as strange as reservation of patients for a particular doctor. The patients are not meant to supply adequate or proportionate clientele to all the doctors what ever their qualifications.”\
  • Chowdhary Charan Singh – Chowdhary Charan Singh, the founder of Lok Dal and charismatic leader of Backward castes and class, wrote: “It must be conceded that reservation on the basis of caste is a vicious principle and creates many problems. More than reservation in recruitment, it is reservation in promotions that has led to great heart burning and great inefficiency in our services. Such reservation whether in favour of Scheduled or Backward castes, was, in my opinion beyond intentions of the founding fathers. Boys belonging to poor families, particularly those, where large section of our people are considered socially inferior for centuries past, are entitled to consideration rather than concessions at the hands of the government of independent India.” Chowdhary Charan Singh was also against extending reservation to SC/ST beyond 10 years “The intelligent and hard working youth are losing their interest, rapidly, in government jobs. They prefer to go abroad in search of greener pastures, where they get return for their talents and hard-work. In addition, they get job satisfaction because of tension free atmosphere at work-place. … “The Union Government, however, has for political reasons, been extending the period of reservations decades after decades. There should be bars on children of those who have benefited from reservation and those who are income tax payers, so that other less fortunates could be helped.” (A letter, February 12,1982 to Banarasi Dass, the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh)\
  • Professor Andre BeteilIe – Professor Beteille said: “Once the uneven distribution of caste in public institutions comes to be perceived as a problem of distributive justice institutional well-being takes the back seat.” “Job reservations in public institutions are required to protect the interest of SC/ST, backward classes and minorities – If this argument is believed to be right and acted upon then our institutions can not function as they ought to, their well-being will be irreparably damaged.” … “The best course would be to expand the pool of qualified candidates at the lower level but this would call for patience which no government in India has so far shown.” “A quicker course, whose effects would show immediately in official statistics, would be to alter the proportions directly, through reservation of jobs.” (6th T. T. Krishnamachari Memorial lecture on “Distributive Justice & Institutional well-being”, November 11, 1990, the Institute of Economic Growth)
  • Shri H.M. Seervai – Shri Seervai wrote: “Reservations affect five parties adversely: ◦The State – to whose service persons are recruited by open competition in examinations held by independent Public Service Commissions.◦
    • The public – As the very phrase “Public servant” shows.
    • The persons – Who are discriminated against, by reservations in favour of members of SC/ST.
    • Members of SC/ST – In whose favour discrimination is being made by fixing reservation quota; and
    • The service – That is each service considered as a whole. (“Is an efficient public service irrelevant in India”, Indian Express, September, 1990)                                                                     A service which lacks spirit-de-corps, that is, consciousness of and pride in belonging to a particular service, lacks an element essential to an efficient an harmonious administration. The position further deteriorates in a service in which in matters of promotion, people with superior qualifications are subordinate to people with admittedly inferior qualifications.
  • Nani A Palkiwala – Shri palkiwala opined that Reservation policy suffers from five fatal flaws: ◦The sub-standard replaces the standard, and the reins of power are to pass from meritocracy to mediocracy.

◦It ignores the reality that there are no backward castes but backward individuals.
◦Reservations in promotion are disastrous enough for the civil administration.
◦It divides the country on caste lines and is against social harmony and social intermingling of various castes.
◦Equality is the very heart of free republic, the foundation stone of true republic, the source of inspiration, the criteria for its citizenship and the hope for its welfare. The bedrock of reservation is discrimination in-reverse: it is discrimination against merit and calibre. (“Unity and security of State at stake”, Indian Express, September 14, 1990)

Arun Shourie – Arun Shourie, in an Article titled “This way lies not only folly but disaster” appearing in the Indian Express on August 22, 1990, writes: “A job should be something one has to work to get, something which one has to do one’s utmost to retain and advance in. It should not be, advancement in it must not be anyone’s by right”. But reservation definitely develops the ethos that the job, the promotion is mine by right and that too because of by my birth, not work. How can a modern society survive, let alone grow with this as its ethos.

Shri V.P. Singh – In his independence-day speech on August 15th, 1990, Shri V.P. Singh, ex-Prime Minister of India said: “Bureaucracy is an important organ of the power structure and it has a decisive role in the decision-making exercise. We want to effectively give to the depressed, downtrodden and backward people their share in the power structure and in decision making to run this country and improve things.”

  • Ram Vilas paswan – The Dalit Sena president and Janata Party leader, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, in his speech at Benipatti, Madhubani, on December 12, 1987 demanded for amendment to the Constitution to end the prevalent reservation system for Harijans and other backward classes in the Government services and replacing it by right to work for every body…. Reservation system had failed to achieve its purpose and had created social tension in the country. Mr. paswan said that despite Constitutional provisions and related laws, the government at the Centre and State had failed to protect the interest of Harijans.                                                                                                     Later on, Paswan became the champion of reservation policy. He advocated reservations in jobs and educational institutions on permanent basis. It should continue till the caste system persists in India. Since caste system can not be put to an end, therefore, there is no justification for finishing the reservation for the downtrodden.
  • B.D. Sharma – Shri Sharma, the Commissioner for SC/ST has pointed out in his 29th Report, tabled in Parliament on August 31st, 1990, as under: “The policy of reservation in government jobs has not improved the lot of the bulk of SC/ST in the country. In fact, in many cases, their condition has further deteriorated. “It is quite clear that even if the policy of positive discrimination were to succeed fully, it could benefit only a small section of these communities. On the other hand, if inequality continues to increase in our country or continues even at the present level, the maximum damage will” befall on the members of these communities themselves, because their condition is already the worst as in the case of the SC or because they are facing the most severe backlash of development as in the case of the S.T……” ” The policy of reservation is ironical, as it demands a share for the weaker section” in the gains of iniquitous system, which in the ultimate analysis cannot be anything, but the proceeds of exploitation of other poor belonging to the same group who remain at the bottom.”

An analysis of the issue

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

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

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

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

           Indian society contains all the essentials of a good organisation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion and suggestions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | | Leave a comment

Ambedkar’s role in national politics

Ambedkar has been the undisputed leader of untouchables and Doyen of Contemporary Dalit Politics. However, at present, his followers are not able to accept and appreciate that throughout his life, he did not suffer much because of belonging to Mahar community of Maharashtra. During his student career,  he had received the best education possible , available either in India or abroad. Nor did it put  obstacles in furthering his social status or political career, before or after Independence. During British rule, he got recognition of a national leader of Dalit community in political world of that time. After Independence he attained positions of power and rose up-to the ranks of Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly and was nominated as the first Law Minister of Independent India.

Ambedkar’s career as a Student – The Father and grandfather of Dr. Ambedkar, were the employees of the British Army working as SM Sahib, when he was a child. It ensured a good education and respectable social life for him. He passed his Matriculation examination from Bombay. He continued his further studies. He joined the Elphinstone High School and Elphinstone College for further education – one of the best educational institutions in Maharashtra. With the help of a monthly scholarship given by Maharaja Gaekwad of Baroda, Bhimrao (‘Rao’ is added to names in Maharashtra as a sign of respect) passed his B.A. in 1912.

In 1912, he graduated in Political Science and Economics from Bombay University and got a job in Baroda. In 1913, Maharaja of Baroda awarded scholarship to Bhim Rao Ambedkar for further studies at the world-famous elite University of Columbia, New York. It was with a condition that he would serve Baroda state for ten years on finishing his studies. The freedom and equality he experienced in America made a very strong impression on Bhimrao. There he attained a degree in Master of Arts and a Doctorate in Philosophy from Columbia University in 1916 for his thesis “National Dividend for India: A Historical and Analytical Study.” The Maharaja of Baroda appointed Dr. Ambedkar as his political secretary.

Career-profile  of Dr. Ambedkar – In 1917 Bhimrao Ambedkar returned to Bombay. In 1918, he became a lecturer at Sydenham College in Bombay. There, he got the reputation as a brilliant teacher and scholar. With the help of Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur, he started a fortnightly newspaper, the “Mooknayak” (Dumb Hero) on January 31, 1920. That was the start of his political career.

In 1920, after accumulating sufficient funds, Ambedkar went back to London to complete his studies in Economics at LSE. He also enrolled to study as a Barrister at Gray’s Inn and became a barrister-at- law. In 1923, Bhimrao returned to India with a Doctorate in Economics from the LSE – he was perhaps the first Indian to have a Doctorate from this world-famous institution.

Ambedkar’s political career – Now he was well equipped to be a leader of the Dalit community. After coming back to India, in July 1924, he founded the Bahishkrit Hitkaraini Sabha (Outcastes Welfare Association). The aim of the Sabha was to uplift the downtrodden socially and politically and bring them to the level of the others in the Indian society.

In 1930, when a Round Table Conference was held by the British Government in London to decide the future of India, Babasaheb represented the ‘untouchables’. He was very clear about the objective of his political career that Attempt to uplift my community rather than to win Swaraj for the nation is my goal.” As between the country and myself, the country will have precedence, as between the country and the depressed classes, the depressed classes will have precedence.”

Earlier, as a representative of depressed classes during Simon Commission’s debates, He said that  Depressed Classes of India would also join in the demand for replacing the British Government by a Government of the people and by the people. “Our wrongs have remained as open sores and have not been righted although 150 years of British rule have rolled away. Of what good is such a Government to anybody?” Gandhiji appreciated that.

But later on, he made the controversial decision to co-operate with the all-British Simon Commission. When Congress party decided to boycott the Commission and drafted its own version of a constitution for free India, he attended all the three Round Table Conferences in London and forcefully argued for the welfare of the “untouchables”. He said very clearly, I will leave no doubt in the minds of the people of this country that I have another loyalty, … .. the loyalty is to the community of the untouchables; in which I am born, to which I belong…. Whenever there is any conflict of interests between the country and the untouchables, so far as I am concerned, the untouchable interests will take precedence over the interests of the country. I am not going to support a tyranny of the majority, simply because it happens to speak in the name of the country

A separate electorate was announced for the depressed classes under Ramsay McDonald ‘Communal Award’. The famous Poona Pact replaced the separate electorate demand with special concessions like reserved seats in the regional legislative assemblies and Central Council of States.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar set up the “Independent Labor Party” in August 1936 to contest the elections in the Bombay province. He and many candidates of his party were elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly.

In 1937, a Bill was introduced to abolish the “khoti” system of land tenure in the Konkan region, the serfdom of agricultural tenants and the Mahar “watan” system of working for the Government as slaves. A clause of an agrarian bill referred to the depressed classes as “Harijans,” or people of God. Bhimrao was strongly opposed to this title for the untouchables. But the Indian National Congress succeeded in introducing the term Harijan. During the Second World War, Babasaheb was appointed Labour Minister by the Viceroy.

The All-India Scheduled Castes Federation was formed in 1942 to gather all ‘untouchables’ into a united political party.

In 1947, when India became independent, Babasaheb Ambedkar became First Law Minister of Independent India in Nehru’s cabinet. He was elected as a Member of the Constituent Assembly from Bengal.The Constituent Assembly made him chairman of the committee appointed to draft the constitution for the world’s largest democracy.

In October 1948, Dr. Ambedkar submitted the Hindu Code Bill to the Constituent Assembly in an attempt to codify the Hindu law. The Bill caused great divisions even in the Congress party. Consideration for the bill was postponed to September 1951. When the Bill was taken up it was truncated. A dejected Ambedkar relinquished his position as Law Minister.

Anathema against Hinduism –  In 1935 at Yeola, for the first time Babasaheb advised his people to convert from Hinduism, because Hindu society treated them as ‘untouchables’.  He used to say, My self-respect can not assimilate Hinduism…The religion that does not recognize you as human beings…is not worthy to be called a religion.He said, “Hinduism has given us only insults, misery, and humiliation.”…“We have not been able to secure the barest of human rights… I am born a Hindu. I couldn’t help it, but I solemnly assure you that I will not die a Hindu.” About a month before his death (December 6, 1956), on 0ctober 14, 1956 he himself embraced Buddhism along with many of his followers.

Ambedkar and his beliefs – According to Ambedkar: –

  •  Reservation is not aimed at economic uplift or alleviation of poverty. But it is a provision made for the entry of certain castes, which have so far been outside the administration. Hence the need for their adequate representation in State Services. Adequacy should be judged not by their presence in the lower rung of the services, but their entry into the higher echelons, the corridor of power.
  •  Where a majority of population is denied its share in actual power, there exists no democracy.
  • Attempt to uplift my community rather than to win Swaraj for the nation is my goal.
  • I will leave no doubt in the minds of the people of this country that I have another loyalty, to which I am bound and which I can never for-sake. The loyalty is to the community of the untouchables; in which I am born, to which I belong and which I hope, I shall never desert. And I say this…. as strongly as I possibly can that whenever there is any conflict of interests between the country and the untouchables, so far as I am concerned, the untouchable interests will take precedence over the interests of the country. I am not going to support a tyranny of the majority, simply because it happens to speak in the name of the country…. As between the country and myself, the country will have precedence, as between the country and the depressed classes, the depressed classes will have precedence.
  • He regarded Hinduism and caste system as great obstacles to Hindu Unity
  • My self-respect can not assimilate Hinduism…The religion that does not recognize you as human beings…is not worthy to be called a religion.
  • In an ideal society, there should be many interests consciously communicated and shared.”.. “Democracy is not merely a form of Government. It is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellow men.

Ambedkar and Reservation Policy – During Constituent Assembly Debates, Ambedkar advocated the policy of Reservation. But later on, as a socialist and humanist, who had the long-range interests of untouchables at heart, had developed doubts about advisability and efficacy of Reservation Policy. Chowdhary Charan Singh said,Ambedkar himself declared in a speech sometime before his death that the provision of Reservation in service should not extend beyond 1960/61.

Pr. Balraj Madhok had also pointed out that later in life, Ambedkar realized that SC and ST would not be able to stand on their own feet, so long as they depended on the crutches of Reservation.Reservation, Dr. Ambedkar said, Encouraged backwardness, inefficiency and lack of competitive merit among them barring a few stray cases. Therefore, when he launched the Republican Party of India, he incorporated this view in the Manifesto, according to which the party was committed itself to abolish all kinds of Reservations based on caste and birth.

During his last days, Ambedkar said, I have not been able to fulfil my mission. I wanted to do more for the SC people and to see them as governing class in my life. I could have succeeded, but my own people have deceived me. Whatever I have been able to do, is being enjoyed by the educated people and they are the worst fools. I now want to divert my attention to the uneducated masses, but life seems short. The second worry to my mind is that I wanted that somebody from the SC should come forward and take the responsibilities from me. There, however, seems none to shoulder such a heavy responsibility. All are selfish and quarrel themselves on petty matters.

Experts on Constitutional law about Ambedkar – 1990’s witnessed a wave of Ambedkarization or glorification of Ambedkar’s name to woo Dalit voters. Many politicians started describing Ambedkar as theFather or The maker of Indian Constitution. Experts on Constitutional law have some reservation to such expressions, because both the constituent Assembly and its Drafting Committee headed by Dr. Ambedkar were the formal centers of work. The real place of work was the Congress Working Committee, which took all the important decisions and there, the prominent role was played by leaders like Nehru, Patel, Rajendra Prasad (Chair person of Constituent Assembly) or Constitutional jurists like Alladi Krishna Swami Ayyar, K.M. Munshi, G B Pant and others. It was frankly admitted by Mahavir Tyagi, one of the members of Drafting Committee and Dr. Ambedkar himself that their hands were tied and they were only carrying out the wishes of the majority.

Pr. K.V. Rao, an expert of Constitutional Law, said, No doubt, Ambedkar, a man of legal acumen, untiring industry, consummate skill and firmness, tempered with modernization, made substantial contribution to the framing of the Constitution…My reading of the Constitution makes me feel that it is inappropriate to call Dr. Ambedkar, the father of the Constitution. If any people are entitled to be called so, they are Nehru, Patel and Prasad , but I would like to call them the “Presiding Deities”, the sources of all the ideas of the Constitution, the real makers of the Constitution. I would like to attribute father-hood to them as well as to the members of the Drafting Committee in common, but I would not like to single out Dr. Ambedkar for this honour. Dr. Ambedkar, during his life-time, had recognition as an intellectual having his own philosophy and interpretations, but he lacked leadership qualities and mass appeal.

Ambedkar and the wrath of intelligentsia – Ambedkar has earned the wrath of a section of intelligentsia and political leaders during pre-Independence period because: –

  • He, himself, was a beneficiary of social reform movement in Maharashtra led by nationalist leaders and reformers mostly belonging to caste Hindus. But in his speeches, he regarded caste Hindus as his enemy.
  • The intelligentsia regarded his move for separate electorates for untouchable as an act to split Hindu society permanently. It is alleged that he could not rise beyond his caste identity.
  • He was criticized for his association with Simon Commission proceedings, First Round Table Conference and Viceroy’s Executive Committee as member, with an intention to cooperate with British rulers, at the time, when national leaders were fighting British rulers for Independence;
  • His anguish against Hinduism and caste system and his act of burning Hindu-script, which he regarded as great obstacles to the Indian unity, annoyed many.
  • Many people did not like his confrontation with Gandhi. Ambedkar, like Jinnah was against Hindu majority rule, Congress Party and Gandhi. Both of them reacted against the above three in similar manner most of the times and preferred continuance of British rule.

Ambedkar and his followers of the day – The present day followers of Ambedkar do not seem to have understood Ambedkar in right perspective. He wanted to annihilate caste system not by revenge, hatred and violence, but by rethinking, reason and reformation. He, therefore, taught untouchables To organize, educate and agitate with an aim to finishing caste prejudices, the arrogance, and the Holier than thou’ attitude of Brahmins. He wanted his people to improve their condition by education, enlightenment and enterprise not by animosity, anger and abuse. It is quite understandable that he did not hate Brahmins as he was happily married to a Brahmin lady. He had a great respect for Justice Ranade.

His followers appear not to have done justice with Ambedkar and used his name ruthlessly for their selfish motive and political ends. They idolized Ambedkar as Rescuer of Dalits. The trend in 90s of idolization of Ambedkar or attempts of Ambedkarisation of the nation exposed the intentions of his followers, especially when he himself considered idolization as an act leading to destruction. Today agitated the Dalit leaders are, but their agitation is far away from being a positive or constructive one. It has turned into a negative militancy against caste Hindu.

Conclusion – Ambedkar rose as the political icon. His life is a classic and most inspiring example of what a man can achieve through hard work, knowledge, and clear-cut priorities. He himself struggled and worked hard to achieve his objectives and success. He gave a required boost to Dalit movement to move forward at  right time. He played a significant role in national politics and as the Chairman of drafting Committee of Indian Constitution.

However, it is unfortunate that that his followers of present day have misunderstood Ambedkar. Ambedkarites seems to have been proved shallow in understanding his aim for social transformation with SC’s being the base and about the realities of the India of twenty-first century – a massive shift has already taken place in favor of Dalits allover India.

March 26, 2018 Posted by | General | | Leave a comment

Policy of ‘Divide and rule’ in India – Past and Present

‘Divide and rule policy” in India before and after the independence

Introduction

The seeds of ‘Divide and rule were sown by British Imperial Rule, but blossomed in  full after India gained Independence in 1947. While laying down the foundation of some democratic institutions and policies, the Imperial rulers set the example of how policies of great scope can be used for serving the vested interests of ruling authorities.

Present day political leaders, political parties and pressure groups serving sectional interests learnt well from British rulers, how to play their cards well to enlarge their vote-banks, by using three powerful democratic weapons i.e. Electoral politics, Census operations, and Reservation Policy .The present day politicians have learnt very well from British rulers, how to use these systems for pacifying the masses and prolonging their hold on political authority longer. They are following the footsteps of their predecessor i.e. British Imperialist rulers and are creating their own separate empires.

Issue – Quite often it is alleged that Indian society is ‘highly stratified’ ‘disintegrated’ and ‘discriminatory’ society. How it had happened, is quite interesting to know.  It was not so all the time. Rift has been purposely created in the society of India for political purposes. Why, when, how and by whom rift has been created in Indian society and has pushed the nation on the verge of disintegration?

British domination in India – India had been a great centre of attraction for British Empire. Britain attained superpower status for most of the nineteenth century and some of the twentieth depended, when they virtually had control over India (from 1800 onwards until 1947, when India got its Independence). For British rulers, India symbolized Imperial grandeur.  Britain interest in India began around 1600, when its merchants entered into the territory of India for shipping Asian goods to Europe. Initially it was purely a commercial venture without using any force. Soon for safety purposes, they sought permission of the Mughal Emperor to build Forts and keep some soldiers in ports of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras for safety purposes. Later., they engaged those very small number of armed personnel in acts of conquests.

It is really amazing to see, how a few British merchants along with soldiers and gunners to protect them built such a big Empire and led to  the downfall of powerful Mughal Empire. They achieved conquests, one after another and then spread all-over the territory of India. Britain became a major political force not only from Himalayas to the sea in India, but also from Iran to Thailand as well.

Viceroy Lord Curzon had expressed it clearly in 1901, “As long as we rule India, we are the greatest power in the world. If we lose it we shall drop straightway to a third rate power”. Quite early, British realized that as long as they adroitly exploited the religious, linguistic and historical divisions that marked Indian society they were relatively safe.

British rulers were clear and firm about their aims and objectives. British Rulers inflamed the differences, that were already existent in the society because of the diverse backgrounds of its people. They established their Empire in India by playing off one part against the other.

 

Ideological attack

Initially in order to justify their domination over dark races of the globe and imperial rule in India, British propagated theories of racial the superiority of ‘White-race’. Afterwards, British rulers, missionaries, philosophers, writers and Historians like Mill, Wilson or Ward  vehemently denounced the culture, character and social structure of the native people. This mental doze had affected minds of many educated Indians so densely that they considered native practices indefensible.

The British launched an ideological attack on Brahmins in their effort to secure a reasonable combination of various races and castes in administration and other modern callings. On one hand, to counter Brahmins hold in education and other areas, they slighted the role of Brahmins as Indian intelligentsia and reformers and on the other, portrayed them as oppressors and exploiters of others, especially the poor and minorities. The rulers created venom in the hearts of Muslims and non-Brahmin castes and encouraged them to resist vociferously the dominance of Brahmins in modern callings.

Stages of British rule

British rulers knew well that they had established their Empire firmly in India by taking advantage of the diversities of Indian people and by playing them against one another – princes against people; Hindu against Muslims; caste against castes; and provinces against provinces.

  • Period of 1756-1858 was the period of conquest, annexation and consolidation.
  • From 1858 to1905, was the time of apparent association under British Government in India.
  • From 1905 to 1940, British rulers adopted the policy of “Divide and rule”.
  • After 1940, they decided to quit India.

Period of annexation (1756-1858)

Period of 1756-1858 – With the start of British rule over India, the old relation of conqueror and conquered prevalent in India since 10th century, came to an end. It was the period of conquest, annexation and consolidation for British. Initially, the East India Company of Britain conquered and established British Empire in India by taking advantage of the diversities of Indian people. The Government adopted “Laissez-faire” as the principle of governance. Hence, it did not indulge itself into any welfare or social service activity. The only objective was to rule the country to its own advantage.

Period of “Apparent Association” (Between 1858 and 1905)

Between 1858 and 1905, the British adopted a policy of “Apparent Association”. In their heart, the rulers knew well that they had established their power by playing off one part against the other and intended to continue it in order to maintain it as long as possible. The purpose was to keep Indians busy with their internal problems and let them rule the country without any distraction. They were sure “…We must continue to do so. Do what you can, therefore, to prevent all having a common feeling”.

Period of divide and rule (From 1905 to 1940) –

By 1858, when British Empirical rule was established firmly in India, the rulers started playing Indians against one another – princes against people; Hindu against Muslims; caste against castes; and provinces against provinces. British rulers adopted the policy of “Divide and rule”. They played Indian people against one another – princes against people; Hindu against Muslims; caste against castes; and provinces against provinces.

After 1940 – During Second World War period, they decided to quit India. Even then, British rulers played their game and divided the country into two – India and Pakistan. Their exploitative policies had already drained much of India’s wealth. Now they left India bleeding. Partition of the country had made millions of Indians either dead or impoverished and homeless.

Three stages taken for creating split in Indian society

The British Government did the job of disintegrating the Indian society in 3 stages: –

Ø First they appeased the Hindus,

Ø Then was the turn of Muslims,

Ø Lastly they devoted their attention to backward castes.

First stage

Appeasement of Hindus

Initially, the British, who annexed authority from the Muslim rulers, looked favourably towards Hindu community. They encouraged Hindus/Brahmins to opt for modern education. Reasons being –

  • It became difficult for them to import enough Englishmen to man large and increasing number of subordinate or lower posts in administration.
  • British, who annexed authority from the Muslim rulers, looked favorably towards Hindu community.
  • Being natural learners and pursuers of knowledge, they were quick and far ahead of other communities in modern callings.
  • The appalling poverty of Brahmins, because of the gradual displacement from their source of income after the decline in the financial status of their patrons – Princes and Zamindars – compelled them to opt for modern education and make use of new type of employment opportunities.

Very soon they secured an important place in the modern society.

Brahmins real threat to British rule

The long tradition and undisputed role in the field of knowledge and learning, their intelligence, sincerity and hard work helped Brahmins to secure an important place in the modern society. In 1900, Sir William Lee, an important official in the Government of Bombay and Government of India, noted Brahmins dominance in the Civil Service during 1869 to 1899. The rulers also noticed preponderance of Brahmins in other areas, too, and their growing influence and hold over Hindu Community. It appeared to British rulers as if this small community was governing the country.

British rulers noticed Brahmins preponderance everywhere including freedom movement. Preponderance of Brahmins at all levels of freedom movement alarmed the rulers.

Sir William Lee, an important official in the Government of Bombay and Government of India, noticed in 1900 that during 1869 to 1899, Brahmins had secured almost all the places in education and administration. In 1879, the Collector of Tanjore wrote to James Courd, a Member of the Famine Commission, There was no class except Brahmins, which was so hostile to English. In the words of an observer, If any community could claim the British out of the country, it was the Brahmin community 70% of those, who were felled by British bullets, were Brahmins.

Sir Richard Temple, the governor of Bombay said that ever since 1818, when British finally defeated the Peshwa in the third Anglo Maratha war, Brahmins were, “Inspired with a national sentiment and with an ambition bounded only with the Bonds of India itself.” Innumerable C.I.D. Reports of that period confirmed the active role played by Brahmins in National movement.

In 1879, the Collector of Tanjore wrote to James Courd, a Member of the Famine Commission, There was no class except Brahmins, which was so hostile to English. In the words of an observer, If any community could claim the British out of the country, it was the Brahmin community 70% of those, who were felled by British bullets, were Brahmins.

Rowlett Report (1880) also confirmed that the British regarded Brahmins as the main force behind all terrorist movements and agitation leading to violence in almost all the provinces. Overwhelming support of Brahmin lawyers to Congress Party and Mrs. Anne Besant’s Home Rule made the British to believe that Brahmin Community was a threat to imperial rule.

In Brahmin’s growing influence and their hold on the Hindu Community, the rulers saw a potential threat to their rule in India. They considered it necessary to counter the hold of Brahmins by raising a strong force against them.

Steps taken to counter Brahmin’s influence – British administrators including Temple thought it necessary to counter Brahmins influence. They advised the Government to stop dominance of one or few groups in administration and begin to rely on other groups or castes, in order to keep the balance of power. In 1881 the Government decided to raise a strong force – a reasonable combination of various races and castes – and counter Brahmins hold in education and administration.

Muslims and non-Brahmin castes were already resisting vociferously the dominance of Brahmins in these areas. They very carefully and effectively sidetracked the socially transformative movements of great scope, initiated by the intelligentsia of Indian Society.  On one hand, the British slighted the role of Brahmins as Indian intelligentsia and reformers, and on the other, portrayed them as oppressors and tyrants.

The British encouraged the formation of many caste groups to resist vociferously the dominance of Brahmins in modern callings. In whom they saw a potential threat to their rule in India. They allowed non-Brahmin castes and other communities to form political groups on the basis of caste and community. The movement against Brahmins forged ahead with ferocity in the Southern and Western parts of India. It remained mild in North India, where communalism had already disrupted the peace of the land.

In order to restrict Brahmin’s entry in Government jobs and make it available to non-Brahmins communities, British rulers started practice of “Preferences”. In the name of equality before law, rulers gave certain sections of society on the basis of caste and community financial assistance and preferences in education and Government employment at local and provincial level.

They made provision for giving financial help to the non-brahmins, Muslims and Anglo-Indians and fixed up a quota for them in government services. Thus they opened up the doors of new opportunities of advancement to other castes and communities. It served double purpose – one, for them, getting credit for amelioration and protection of downtrodden and two, keeping natives busy in their in-fights.

Second stage

Appeasement of Muslims – First, the rulers drifted Muslims from Hindus in a very shrewd and planned manner. Muslims always had a grudge over the loss of their dominant position. They found themselves handicapped in competing with Hindus, especially Brahmins, in modern callings and opportunities. Also they developed a fear of being dominated by majority Hindu Community, if at any point of time India became Independent.

During 1850s, Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College was established at Aligarh. English Principals like Archibold, Theodore Beck or Morrison of this institution played an important role in keeping Muslims away from mainstream and inculcating in them a feeling of separation.

Seeds of communalism – Sir W.H. Gregory, while appreciating the Resolution of Government of India on Muslim education wrote to Dufferin in Feb. 1886, “I am confident, that it will bear good fruits, indeed, it seems to have done so already by the complete abstention of the Mohammedan from Brahmins and Baboo agitation. It will be a great matter to sweeten our relations with this portion of the Indian population, the bravest and at one time, the most dangerous.”

The seeds of communalism were sown during Lord Lytton’s Vice-royalty (1876-80). A deputation of Muslims led by His Highness Sir Agha Khan demanded on Oct. 1, 1896 separate electorate. . On Dec. 30, 1906 a separate party – Muslim League – was launched to pursue and safeguard Muslim interests.

Their demands of communal representation in the Imperial Legislative Council and District Boards, adequate share in the public service and local bodies, adequate safeguards for the protection and promotion of Muslim culture and weight to the Muslims to protect their legitimate interests were accepted through Minto-Morley Reforms known as Government of India Act of 1909. This Act devised a novel method to distribute and balance the power. It came as the first effective dose of communalization of Indian politics.

Third stage

Attention to backward castes

After gaining the loyalty of Muslims, during the second half of the nineteenth century, the British turned their attention to uplift non-Brahmin castes and to secure their confidence. On September 2, 1897, George Francis Hamilton, the then Secretary of State for India, wrote to Viceroy Curzon, “I think the real danger to our rule in India, not now but say 50 years hence, is the gradual adoption and extension of Western ideas of agitation and organization. If we could break the educated Hindu into two sections, holding widely different views, we should by such division, strengthen our position against the subtle and continuous attack, which the spread of education must make upon our system of Government.” The rulers succeeded in dividing educated Hindus of these two sections –Brahmins and Non Brahmins, holding widely different views. Such a division had strengthened immensely the position of rulers.

Even educated Hindus amongst non-Brahmins castes found it difficult to compete with Brahmins on equal footings. Rulers encouraged Non -Brahmins leaders to form their political pressure groups on the basis of castes and raise their voice against Brahmins.

In 1885 itself, Eutice J Kitts, a British ambassador in Azamgarh listed, for the first time, backward castes and tribes, from 1881 Census. The objective was to give them financial assistance and preferences in education and Government employment at local and provincial level. For the first, the government officially recognized caste as a base for the purposes of governance.

Initially special schools were opened for them. Special scholarship, loan, hostel facilities and concessions in school fees were provided to non Brahmins castes along with Muslims. In 1885, the education department proposed to reserve 50% of free scholarships for backwards and Muslims, as scholarships purely on merit grounds would perpetuate Brahmin’s monopoly. From this base, Reservation entered into education field, so that more non-Brahmins could qualify for the jobs.

Morley Minto Reform of 1909 gave the non-Brahmins a boost. They demanded with assertiveness Reservations for themselves in education and Government employment. In 1919, the British Government transferred to provincial Governments power over subjects like education, agriculture, veterinary service, roads and, buildings, social welfare etc. With all these powers, the British Government also passed on to the provinces, the responsibility to satisfy the conflicting claims for the Government jobs and other interests of major pressure groups, which had emerged in the Indian political scene.

Methods, British used to create split

The British Government in India very cleverly created a split in the society. The policies, which they adopted for fulfilling the objectives, were following:-

  • Introduction of Modern Education sytem,
  • Resevations in educational institutions and government jobs and
  • Start of Census Operations

All these measures served a double purpose – they got the credit for the amelioration and protection of the lowly. Also the distribution of power on communal basis kept balance of power and prolonged their rule in India by keeping the natives busy in their in-fights.Thus British Government very cleverly, created a split in Indian society.

Introduction of Modern Education sytem

The process of creating split started with the introduction of modern education system. Initially the British rulers excluded Indians from every honor, dignity or office, which lowest of Englishman could be given. But gradually it became difficult for the rulers to import enough Englishmen to man large and increasing number of subordinate or lower posts in administration. It compelled them to introduce modern education in India. However, they used even the education system shrewdly to meet their objectives effectively. It paved a way for imperial designs.

Intention of introducing modern education – The intention of introducing modern education was, as Lord Macaulay said, To form a class, who may be interpreters between us and millions of whom, we govern, a class of persons, Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinion, in morals and in intellect”. It was mainly to get Indians, “Anglicized in terms of both cultural and intellectual attainment”.

Brahmins long tradition and undisputed role in the field of knowledge and learning, their intelligence, sincerity and hard work helped them not only to occupy almost all the lower levels posts in administration available to Indians, as desired by the rulers.

But it also 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 and Reformers.

Imperial designs for creating rift – In 1835 introduction of modern education and in 1844, announcement of making knowledge of English as compulsory for government employment paved way for imperial designs and created rift in the Indian society.

In the near absence of industrial, commercial or social service activity, the educated Indians depended entirely on Government jobs. This led to a keen competition between different sections of Indian society. British rulers took advantage of the diversities that already existed in India for centuries.

Welcomed by national leaders and intellectuals – The national leaders and intellectuals welcomed the introduction of modern education. They thought that understanding of Western literature and liberal, scientific, democratic and humanitarian thoughts of modern Western World would help to remedy many social, political and economic evils prevalent in the nation at that point of time. It would give some insight to the fragmented, poverty stricken, superstitious, weak, indifferent, backward and inward looking society of India. They took upon themselves the responsibility to build a modern, open, plural, culturally rich, prosperous and powerful India.

An Alarm bell for British rulers – Modern education not only produced persons to fill the lower levels of administration, as desired by the rulers. Along with them emerged, by second half of nineteenth century, many national leaders, intellectuals and reformers like Dadabhai Naoroji, Ferozeshah Mehta, Gokhale, Gandhi, Jinnah, Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Moti Lal Nehru, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Patel and many more. The rulers never wanted it.

Preponderance of Brahmins everywhere including freedom movement alarmed the British rulers.

Policy of Reservation

Another tool British used was the Policy of Reservation. In 1918, Mysore Government appointed Miller Committee to look into the question.i On its recommendation All communities, other than Brahmins, who were not adequately represented in the public Service were declared backwards. In 1921 preferential recruitment for backward communities was instituted formally for the first time in its colleges and state services.

In 1925, Government of Bombay provided Reservations to backward communities in its services. It included all except Brahmins, Marwaris, Prabhus, Banias and Christians.ii Madras started quota based communal representation in its Government services and educational institution in 1921.

The United Province had a practice of reserving, out of every four seats, 1 to Brahmin, 1 to Kayastha, 1 to Muslim and the last one to any section other than these three sections.

The concessions bestowed on the backward communities made them loyal to British rule. An excerpt from the Times Archives (Aug 1925) shows the upsurge of Non-Brahmins in Madras. Presiding over the fifth non-Brahmin Conference in Tanjore, Rao Bahadur O Thanikachalam Chetty of Madras, Warned the non-Brahmin public of the dangers ahead” and how in the name of Swaraj, deception was being practiced, lies were decimated with a view to creating prejudice against the Justice party-men and to secure transfer of power to Brahmins under the guise of supporting the Swarajis.

The speaker emphasized the need to counter-act Swarajis activity in view of the coming elections to Legislative Council. He said that their province had, hitherto, successfully resisted the seditious blandishments of the Swarajis and had earned the good name of having successfully worked for the transitional Constitution vouched safe to them by the “Government of India Act.

Census operations and Untouchability

Census operations were also used for the purpose of further splitting the Hindu community. It created political identities in India. Census operation, introduction of electoral politics and suggestion of the Census Commission for 1911 Census, to exclude untouchables, (comprising about 24% of Hindu population and 16% of the total population in 1908) from Hinduism, had made position of untouchables prominent in Indian political scene.

Around 1909, the lower strata of Hindu community were conceptualized under the name of “untouchables”. So far, untouchables had clubbed their political activities with backward classes led by the Justice Party and South Indian Liberation Federation, which were already agitating against Brahmin’s dominance in modern callings. The emergence of Dr. Ambedkar on the political scene provided with the required leadership and needed stimulus to untouchable movement during late twenties and early thirties. There is a section of people, which considers that Ambedkar was planted into Indian politics purposely by British rulers only.

Dr. Ambedkar, while representing untouchables in Simon Commission proceedings, demanded separate electorate, reserved seats for untouchables in legislative bodies, special educational concessions, and recruitment to Government posts on preferential basis, laws against discrimination and a special department to look after the welfare of untouchables. These demands were readily accepted 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. Division on the basis of religion, occupation and service were made. The British introduced every possible cross-division.iii Lal Bahadur Shastri denounced the whole happenings As a shameless episode of the National History of the Country.

After Independence

The Constitution of India, through Articles 14, 15 and 16, guaranteed equality of opportunity to all citizens relating to advancement and employment or appointment to any office under the State. However it also allowed the Government to make special provisions in favour of any backward class of citizens.

Seeds sown by British flourished in Independent India

The present day politicians have followed their steps and created such an atmosphere that seeds sown by British may blossom in full. The Indian politicians have inherited from British rulers three powerful democratic weapons i.e. Electoral policy, Census operations, and Reservation Policy.

Earlier British rulers used them for economic exploitation and perpetuation of their rule as long as possible. Now Indian politicians are using it in similar way for their own advantage. Present trend of giving continued importance to diversities especially of caste, community, region, language by most of the political parties and shrewd politicians for electoral purposes is at its peak. Instead of the feeling of fraternity amongst Indians, “feeling of ‘others” or “we” and “them” has become more prominent than.

Whether amongst youth or grown ups, the casteist, religious and ideological intolerance has generated communal violence and caste animosities everywhere in the country.

Political instability

The public mandate got fractured on caste and communal lines. At present, it has become almost impossible to ensure a stable Government. Political insecurity has engulfed the whole nation into caste politics. It has given birth to worst form of caste and communal divide. Caste frenzy overtook country’s two most populous provinces of UP and Bihar.

The result is hung parliaments, insecure politicians, scant respect for democratic norms and conduct. Unholy pre or post poll alliances are made. There are manipulations to get hold on power. All political parties try to extract political mileage out of Paternalistic policies.

Politicians are adopting gimmicks of secularism, socialism, equity and social justice. They evade real issues and shirk responsibility. Political party in power finds itself handicapped and lack courage to take hard decisions. The sole aim of politicians, especially of newly emerging groups, have no other program except the one to capture political power by hook or crook and retain it as long as possible.

Criminalization of politics and corruption

Along with caste politics prospered criminalization of politics and corruption ridden leadership scenario in the country with large number of scams and scandals. Power-centric politicians do not care for any principle or ideology; neither do they care for honesty or welfare of people. For power, they do not even mind using foul means or hesitate in taking help of criminals. Many history-sheetors are, at present, in politics.

There is a blatant use of money and muscle power in elections. Politicians try various permutations and combinations to increase their vote Banks. Poor public is a silent spectator, while political atmosphere is surcharged with manipulation, casteism, nepotism and criminalisation.

Paternalistic policies

Paternalistic policies and social justice has elated the backwards and Dalits. The nation is now divided into numerous political camps – pro-Hindu camp, anti-Hindu camp, secular camp, and caste camps into forward, backward and Dalit camp. There are regional camps too, playing up federal card to woe the electorate. The situation is leading to fundamentalist and separatist attitudes, conflict, instability, in-decisiveness, and rigid and irrational attitude.

Inter and Intra-Caste rivalries

For political advantages, different caste, sub-castes and sub-sub-castes have come together, bearing the same caste tag. But they do not forget their separate identities. The political tags/identities as caste Hindus, backwards, SCs, STs and minorities for Reservations and other preferential measures has increased the in-fights between these categories and created social disorder, making the task of governance difficult.

The unity of various castes under the label of Dalits”, “Scheduled castes”, or OBC is an illusion created by vested interests. It does not make them a homogenous class. In the opinion of MSS Pandian, an academic with Madras Institute of Development Studies, the current inter caste rivalries are part of a series of periodic revolt, whose prime object is self assertion.

Dalit militancy is increasing with the rise of new militant outfits like BSP, Devendrakula Vellalar Federation, Thyagi Immanual Paravai, Dalit Panthers of India etc. The striking feature of New Dalit militancy is their utter disregard for the present set up and their attempt to capture political power. Dalit leaders are pursuing Dalit empowerment with vengeance.

Winding up

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.v 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.vi A touch here, a push there may adversely affect the unity of India. Governance of a pluralistic society, like India, is a sensitive and challenging exercise. And now, the present day political leaders learning well, how to divide the mandate and perpetuate their rule as long as possible have pushed India to a stage, when “In Indian criminal justice system, major crimes are likely to remain unreported; if reported, frequently not registered; if registered, the true perpetrator not found; if found, not prosecuted; if prosecuted, not charged; if charged, usually not convicted; if convicted, frequently not adequately punished. At each crucial stage, the system has enough loopholes and inefficiencies to allow the guilty to walk away with impunity.”

Way out

  • There has been a fast decline in the observance of morality. In the absence of ideology, pursuit of material success has made the so-called representatives of the people selfish and intolerant. They have drifted almost rudderless without sense of direction. The recent political developments have given a rise to mutual strife within the society.
  • Lust for political power and wealth should be replaced by sense of service. Instead of concentrating on populist measures, political leaders should give priority to real issues. The administration would become more sensitive and responsive to the needs of the disadvantaged people. Basic ameneties like drinking water, house, food etc. should be proveded effectively and efficiently.
  • In electoral reforms should be made in such a way that instead of power seekers, talented, professional and specialized persons could find place in the system. Men of character, learning and scholarship should be elected as representatives of the people and be given the respect, they deserve from society. Entrusting power in weak or greedy hands without making them strong enough to hold it judiciously could not empower them.
  • Liberalization and globalization has opened up a new vista for everybody. To channelise creativity and energies of modern youth and to keep them happy and satisfied, a sound system of education and training is required urgently.
  • To prevent unhealthy competition in the society discriminatory statutes, policies and practices should be stopped. Instead of for promoting sectional interests, stringent punishment should be given to exploiters, oppressors and those persons who are indulged in corrupt practices.

March 21, 2018 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | , , | Leave a comment

India’s experiment with Democracy and its electoral-politics

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

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

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

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

Direct democracy depends on the following methods for its functioning –

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

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

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

Indirect democracies are based upon several interrelated principles:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

People wish to see in their political-leaders maturity, dynamism, positive approach to tackle problems, mannerism and unbiased grasp of the problems/needs of all communities and cultures.

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

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

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

  • Discrediting Indian values and systems – British rulers exaggerated the distortions developed into the system during century’s after the decay of Hindu Raj. They carefully avoided telling the whole truth or strengths of Indian thoughts and its social systems.  They depicted the Indian culture and practices as discriminatory barbarous, uncivilized and its social system highly stratified”, where multiplicity of communities and their cultures were exploiting each other for their own advantage.  They forcefully implanted in the minds of people, the real and imaginary, evils of Hindu practices.  The European teachers, missionaries, bureaucrats and British easily put all the blame on Social-structure of India for masses poverty, misery,  deprivation and exploitation
  • Introduction of Modern education system – During British rule Modern education system, people got access to the enlightened spirit of many liberal thinkers, like Locke, Mill Rossseau, Voltaire, Spencer and Burke; and the knowledge about English, French, American revolutions, through modern education. It offered to Indian intelligentsia, the key to the treasures of scientific and democratic thought of Modern West. It opened up the doors of knowledge and widened the mental horizons of Indian intelligentsia. Modern means of transport and communications shortened distances and made mobility faster and easier, Every thing together had destroyed the local character of governance. Small local castes, confined within a small area earlier, grew in size, embracing a much wider area than before.
  • Census operation – After consolidating its position, the British Government in India made an effort to know about the people, whom they want to rule and chalk out strategies for the colonial governance. A systematic and modern population census, in its present form was conducted non synchronously between 1865 and 1872 in different parts of the country. This effort culminating in 1872 has been popularly labeled as the first population census of India. However, the first synchronous census in India was held in 1881.                                                                                British anthropologists worked very hard to collect data. For the first time, the Census operations drew the attention of the rulers, intelligentsia and public to the diversity of Indian society and multiplicity of castes and sub-castes throughout India.                                                                     Earlier, the Hindu Society was classified into four Varnas embracing numerous castes and sub-castes within its fold.  Census operations divided it into five and created new unbridgeable compartments within Indian social structure. – Backward caste, forward caste (caste Hindus), untouchable or scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and minority.  Through legal process, they gave each one a new separate and distinct identity.                It changed the older system in a fundamental way, giving rigidity to social stratification and hierarchical ranking. It led to casteism in politics. Dr. GS Ghurya says, The activities of the British Government has done very little toward the solution of the problem of caste.  Most of these activities, as must be evident, were dictated by prudence of administration and not by desire to reduce the rigidity of caste.  On the whole, the British rulers of India, who have throughout professed to be the trustees of the welfare of the country, never seem to have given much thought to the problem of caste, in so far as it affects the nationhood of India… Their measures generally have been promulgated piece-meal and with due regard to the safety of British domination.” (Dr. Ghurye GS, Caste and Class in India, pp 283-84.)
  • Importance of numbers in elections –  The introduction of electoral politics, in the beginning of the 20th century gave rise to Power in numbers. While introducing elections in India, the British very diplomatically divided the Hindu population into two uncompromising groups viz. `We the Non-Brahmins and `They the Brahmins and caste Hindus. They instilled deeply in the minds of millions of unlettered Hindus, venom against each other.
  • Democracy and people’s rights should go side by side. But the way political leaders perceive and claim to promote people’s interests, is neither beneficial for the country, society nor the poor. For them, elections in a democracy means only shifting of political power from one group to another. For them most important is to usurp political power , through which they can control the treasury of the nation and rule over the general public. For winning the elections, and remaining one up as long as possible, they are more interested in strengthening their vote banks by promoting populist policies and serving sectional interests of special groups. It tends to divide society into watertight compartments. Nation suffers from communal violence and sectarianism. While serving sectional interests and giving special interests to particular group/groups invite conflicts, because the interest of one group is promoted at the expense of others and others. Some people are coerced by the authorities to give up some of their legitimate rights. Equal treatment to all citizens encourages co-ordination and co-operation.
  • Leverage to Non-Brahmins in politics – Power of numbers in elections gave political leverage to the non-Brahmin castes on account of their numerical strength.  Earlier non-Brahmin movements had economic and social thrusts demanding education and land for backwards and freedom from caste rigidities. Later, it resisted the hold of Brahmins in the spheres of education and jobs in government. Non-Brahmins’ demand for a share in modern callings was quickly recognized by the British. They acquired considerable amount of political clout, in early 20th century, with the introduction of electoral politics. Since then, their influence in politics has grown enormously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

Dalits’ Assertion and agitations

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

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

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

                   an illusion created by vested interests.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Analysis Of Dalit Empowerment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating” Kofi Annan

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

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

Caste politics

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why caste system came into existence?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                         After Independence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Winding up

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

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

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

 

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