Latasinha's Weblog

Social and political Values and Systems in India.

False assurances to ‘Common man’

“Never play with the feelings of others. You may win the game but the risk is that you will surely lose the person for a life-time.” Shkespeare

“The man who promises everything is sure to fulfil nothing, and everyone who promises too much is in danger of using evil means in order to carry out his promises, and is already on the road of perdition.” Carl Jung

Day in and day out, political leaders, political parties and pressure groups interested in sectional interests give false assurances to the public and present a rosy picture about the developments done by them.

Slogans/ideas/concepts based on half truth are more injurious than totally false ones, especially when it is propagated with vested interests amongst illiterate and ignorant masses by political leaders and intellectuals. For some time, they can misguide the people but not for always. However, irreparable damage they do to the systems and faith of people in democratic institutions.

After independence, leaders laid strong foundations for national reconstruction and rapid development of the nation. With many of old visionary leaders like Nehru, Patel, Rajendra Prasad having gone from national and state scene, well-intentional democratic values were misused and democratic institutions and their systems got derailed. Politicians relied more and more on populist slogans/utterances/measures in order to garner vote-banks. Personality cult was promoted especially after sixties. Economic logic and administrative acumen was subordinated to the logic of politics.

First political climate at provincial level changed. Many new regional parties emerged there and came to power. The Governments were acutely handicapped by their minority status. Use of power of money and muscle had increased to widen their electoral base. Some states like Bihar, U.P., Haryana, and Punjab witnessed rise of political opportunism. Tall promises were made to create vote-banks and win elections. Some anti social elements found entry in politics. Political patronage led first to politicization of criminals, then to criminalization of politics, which adversely effected daily life of a common man in many ways and made it increasingly difficult for decent, peace loving people to breath freely.

Instead of plugging loopholes in the system, those in authority, gave importance to populist policies for electoral gains and attaining political power by hook or crook. That was the easiest way to lead a luxurious life style at the cost of taxpayers money. In the absence of any sound ideology and clear vision especially after sixties, politicians pursued sectional interests by propagating emotional issues like “social-justice”, Caste, Community, and political secularism etc.

This period witnessed complete polarization of society on caste and communal basis. Inter-caste and intra-caste, inter-community and intra-community and inter-tribal and intra-tribal conflicts gradually increased. In the name of helping “poor masses”, Governments both at centre and provinces initiated many ‘Protective policies’, which increased corruption, worked as disincentive to work hard and encouraged concept of easy money. Instead of understanding the implications of real issues like population explosion, illiteracy, unemployment, inadequate health care and and solving them, emotional issues like social justice, caste-ism, reservations, secularism etc were floated in the political world and diverted public attention from real issues.

‘Social Justice’/’Socialism’ and Independent India

Any ‘ism’, however lofty it seems or sound, leads to prejudices.  The wave of “welfare state”, idea of “social-justice” and “socialism” swept the entire world after World war II. Aim was to bring to an end all kinds of discrimination resulting in disparities in income and social status and to bring in mainstream deprived and depressed sections of society.

Pt Nehru and many others were deeply influenced by socialist philosophy and desired to build up a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy on it. At that time itself, Sardar Patel considered Parrot cry of socialismand socialist propositions purely theoretical and academic, far away from reality. He had no faith in the beliefs that ‘there could be no justice, unless its economy was based on social economy’, or ‘freedom was meaningless without economic equality and social justice’. He said, “Before you talk of socialism, you must ask yourself, how much wealth you have created by your labour. If you have created nothing, the ‘parrot’ would have flown, and the cage would be empty….What is necessary for us, is to learn how to produce more wealth and thereafter, think what to do with it. What the country needs is not Parrot cry of socialism but unity and strength”.

Gandhiji also told Manu Gandhi on 15.4.1947, “’Socialism’ is a term of modern age, but the concept of socialism is not new. Lord Krishna preaches the same doctrine in Gita. One needs to have in one’s possession, only what one requires. All men are created by God and therefore, entitled to an equal share of food, clothing and housing…. “Nature has provided enough for everybody’s need, but not enough even for a person’s greed”. He said, Socialism will not come by occupying positions of power and by delivering speeches from the platform. He advised people first to come together, think what was in the best interest of the country and set people on to constructive work. For him selfless service to the people is the straightest and quickest way to achieve a socialist order, Go and live among the poor in villages, live as they live, be one with village people, work for eight hours daily, use only village made goods and articles even in your personal lives, remove illiteracy among village people. He upbraided the Communist party workers for, Instead of having faith in India and drawing inspiration from its unrivalled culture, you wish to introduce Russian civilization here, as if Russia was your motherland.

When the Constitution was framed in 1950, influence of the views of such visionary and able statesmen was visible. The words, Socialism or Socialist democracy were not included in it. It mentioned only To secure to all its citizen economic justice and equality of status and opportunity. It was after the death of Sardar Patel that Congress Government bent heavily towards socialist policies. It declared its goal in the form of Socialistic pattern of society and subsequently Democratic socialism under Congress party’s leadership. The word Socialist as qualifying the Republic, was added in 1975, through (42) Amendment Act by Indira Gandhi’s government, giving it almost the highest place in the name of equality and Remove Poverty. Many welfare schemes and subsidies were declared for poor, which ultimately gave steep rise to scams, scandals, siphoning off government money without improving lot of ‘Millions of underfed, under-clothed and under-read population of India”.

Inherent weaknesses of socialism raised doubts in the minds of people about efficacy of socialist principles, which had failed to wipe off want and deprivation of masses. Socialism, in its effort to control excesses and transgressions of private sector through state capitalism and controlled economies collapsed like a house of cards all over the world. Around 1990’s, yet another wave swept the world. Surprisingly, this time, it was led by capitalist ideology, which was supposed to have been defeated by now. At present, socialism has its usefulness as the vision of an ideal society.

‘Not included’

There are many politicians, political parties and intellectuals in India, who still raise slogans like there are ‘300 million, poor and deprived victims of injustice of the caste system’, who have to be ’emancipated from age-old social injustices’, ‘promote social-justice’ for the ‘well-being” of millions of “distressed and dispossessed”, who have been victims of social discrimination and oppression for centuries’, or to ‘Build an egalitarian and inclusive casteless society” to bring to an end all kind of discrimination’ etc. Such slogans only create venom and generate feeling of ‘otherness’ amongst various sections of society.

Pr. Kancha Ilaiah blames “Varnashram system/caste system for keeping 750 million Hindus – Dalits, tribals and backward classes, poor, subjugated and humiliated”. “They are treated as out-castes”. “Hinduism has failed to convince them that they are part of it”. “There are two options: either complete equality to Dalit Bahujan communities or their conversion into other religions”. “Technologies for human survival -from agriculture to leather tanning to metal-work, were all developed by labouring sections that is the Dalits, tribals and backward classes” but “upper castes took away the fruits of their labour and invention”. He desires to have complete equality meaning embracing Dalits and all lower castes and tribals, eating with them, treating them as equals and an end to the allegation that they are merit deficient’. (Political science of Osmania University, TOI,4.12.09) He says that ‘You may not see it on the surface now, but in the hearts of the oppressed castes, there is anger and hatred’. There is no depth in such comments, but can create venom in the hearts of depressed people.

The professor’s allegation that “Hinduism failed to convince them that they are part of it” is not wholly true. Hinduism based on Varnashram has been an inclusive society. It has assimilated thousands of multi-ethnic groups in its mainstream at different points of time Be it racial, social, occupational, or religious” and and made them its integral part for ever. The system neither disturbed its existing internal social order nor prevented any new group to join it. It allowed all incoming groups to preserve their own specialties and indigenous culture.

In older days, the interdependence and local character gave recognition and honour to all the groups for their specialities – from agriculture to leather tanning to metal-work, irrespective of caste or creed and people of all communities were benefitted by their work. Local character of caste system, during pre-British period also, made close interaction and cooperation between different castes, a reality.

In northern India, Shudras are very much the integral part of the system. In ancient India, the conquered groups/ people indulged in anti-social activities/persons born illegitimately were treated as untouchables. In Western and Southern parts of India, where system entered afterwards, Shudras were kept outside the Varnas system.

It was Census operation that instigated caste consciousness, caste animosities and made caste a tool in political, religious and cultural battles that Hindus fought amongst themselves. It was result of the suggestion of census Commissioner to exclude untouchables from Hindu fold in the forthcoming 1911 census. Introduction of electoral politics and already granting special electorate to Muslims gave importance to ‘power of numbers’. Dalits and backward castes on account of their numerical strength got political leverage. It increased their importance in social circle and in their own eyes too.

Caste system acted as a major binding force for Hindus throughout medivial and modern periods. Hindus made conscious efforts to preserve their values, honour and identity. It stiffened/ hardened/crystallized rituals, social values and gave rise to many social evils like Sati Pratha, Dowry, Purdah system, untouchability etc, but helped them to retain their cultural identity despite many pressures, while living under an alien political order whether it was Mughal, Portuguese or British. It prevented Islam, Christianity and other religions to make headway in India even after mass conversions,

Responsible for misery of Millions of people

For millions remaining ‘underfed, underclothed and underread’, caste system is not that much as the circumstances after the downfall of Hindu Raj and old Hindus values. Medivial India suffered due to invasions of Turks, Afghans and Mughals. Earlier, they drained out the wealth of the nation to foreign lands. But afterwards, they conquered and made India their homeland. Feudalistic attitude, extravagance and luxurious life style of Mughal rulers and those at helm of authority increased disparity between rulers and ruled. People became poorer during the cruel reign of Aurangjeb. Heavy taxes and temple funds filled the treasury. Landless laborers and manual workers became bonded slaves and crime increased in country side.

Then during British rule, apathy of British rulers towards indigenous skills, knowledge and occupations made many traditional occupations obsolete It discouraged local genius, cottage industries and fine arts, pushed millions of people backward in a very subtle manner. Many castes of rural artisans, craftsman and traditional occupations had to abandon their traditional work, which led to decay of village industries, as competition was directly with cheap machine goods.

After Independence, the two wars of 1962 and 1965 followed by successive droughts in 1966 and 1967 and continuous disturbances due to violence/ terrorism – internal as well as external and many other explosive problems put economy under severe strain. It rendered millions to poverty and unemployment.

As far as conversion into other religions is concerned, if one’s conscience tells him/her to change religion, he/she must, but without blaming other religions. With spread of education and awareness in masses and through many legislations in their favour, Dalit Bahujan communities are increasingly enjoying equality. Traditional barriers on marriage, hereditary occupations and commonality are loosing its importance. Restrictions or interactions between different castes arising due to considerations for purity and pollution are fading away from public life even from rural areas. People do eat together at public places. But in their private lives, people are free to decide with whom they should eat, whom should they marry. It is neither possible, nor desirable, nor even can be enforced.

Idea of reservations

As far as saying- “they are merit deficient” is concerned, it is the Policy of reservations, which declares them merit deficient. At present, solution of all the problems and everybody’s problem is ‘Reservation’ or fixing qoutas. Sooner it is wiped off from the scene, it would be better. Till people react to a situation without applying their own independent reflection and judgement, rely on outside forces to work for their emancipation and progress, allow themselves to be swayed by opinions of others or obey diktats of others blindly, they would not be able uplift their position. Every person holds within oneself some extraordinary quality/potential. Key to unlocking ones potential, one needs determination, sincerity of purpose, perseverance and courage to make required efforts.

Mr. VN Narayan in 1990’s said, We have a political problem (scams and scandals), but we have no political solution, we have a religious problem (Ayodhya), but no religious solution. There is an economic problem (poverty), but there is no economic solution (Liberalization). There is a social problem (Sectarian conflicts), but there is no societal remedy (Secularism and Mandalisation). There is a socio-medical disease (cancer of corruption), but there is no socio-medical cure (ministerial resignations and reshuffles). There is only one solution to all problems – a human and spiritual solution. We have to consciously move toward humanizing our social institutions and spiritualize (not communalize or secularize) ourselves. i

People of India have the capacity to make themselves free from internal conflicts, oppressions, poverty and to built a cultured/civilized society based on human dignity, freedom and equality. Indian culture never believed in words or theories or doctrines, it always laid stress in realizing – not in believing but in being and becoming. Only after raising oneself from ignorance, people would be able to develop in themselves sense of responsibility, strong will power, strength to stand on their own feet and patriotism and free themselves from relying on outside forces for their betterment.

i Narayanan VN, Hindustan Times, June 1, 1995, p13.

January 22, 2010 - Posted by | Social and political values and systems |


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