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Census operations

Introduction

After consolidating its position, the British Government in India made an effort to know about the people, whom they want to rule and chalk out strategies for the colonial governance. British anthropologists worked very hard to collect data and to catalogue various castes and tribes. For the first time, the collected data had drawn the attention of the rulers, intelligentsia and public to the diversity of Indian society and multiplicity of castes and sub-castes throughout India. All the collected data was catalogued by Census Commissioner into an official document, known as Census Operation.

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.

Risley, the Census Commissioner, India – In the beginning of Twentieth century, like modern Manu,  Risley, then the Census Commissioner, India, invented a new method to stratify Indian society. Since then after every ten years, the government does census operations to know the demography of India and officially publishes it.

Classification of Indian society before British rule – Earlier, before British rule, Indian society was classified into four Varnas embracing numerous castes and sub-castes within its fold and incoming ruling communities like Muslims or British, treated by Indians as foreigners.

Indian society divided into water Instead of four Vernas, British rulers, in 1901  census, created five new unbridgeable water-tight compartments within Indian social structure. Through legal process, they gave each one a new group separate and distinct identity.

The first volume of Man in 1901 (the Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute) noted, The entire framework of native life in India is made up of groups of castes and tribes, and status and conduct of individuals are, largely, determined by the rules of the group, to which he belonged. He classified the Indian social structure in following water-tight compartments –

  • ‘Forward caste’ (caste Hindus)
  • Backward castes,
  • Untouchables or scheduled caste,
  • Scheduled tribes and
  • Minorities

Risley’s efforts, in 1901 census, of recording and putting in order numerous castes in hierarchical order like modern Manu had fossilized, imparting it a solidity, it did not have earlier. (Das Veena and Kagal Ayesha, Through the Prism of Clerkdom, Times of India, dated September 16, 1990, p2.)

 

Pigeonholed everyone by caste and community – British rulers codified the castes and standardized the system by placing all the jatis into four Varnas or in the categories of outcastes and aborigines. Middleton, a Census Superintendent 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.”

Census operations destroyed the flexibility of caste system – Caste, in itself, was rigid among the higher castes, but malleable amongst the lower…The government’s act for labels and pigeon-holes had led to a crystallization of the caste system, which, except amongst the aristocratic caste, was really very fluid under indigenous rule. Therefore, the Census operations destroyed the flexibility of caste system, led to an all-round hardening of social-system and to frantic effort by each group-for upward mobility.

Immediate outcome of census operation – The Census operations instigated caste consciousness, caste animosities and made caste a tool in political, religious and cultural battles, that Hindus fought amongst themselves.

Census operations done by British rulers, far from neutral – The process of Census enumeration, which was started under British rule, was far from neutral. Through it, British rulers in India made an effort to chalk out strategies for the colonial governance.

  • British rulers retained distinctions between different sub-castes, relevant to them for organizing labor
  • They 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.
  • Census operations kept Brahmins at periphery and instigated other castes against them. The reason was that British administrators, Christian Missionaries and Orientalists considered them as potential threat to British rule.

Made the system rigid – The new method of stratifying Indian society has changed the older system in a fundamental way giving rigidity to social stratification and hierarchical ranking. Every group lives in its own water-tight compartment, having virtually no communication with others, unknown and insensitive to the requirements and plusses and minuses of others. To a great extent, such a situation has given rise to intolerance for others, resulted in politicization of caste-system. To a great extent, such a situation has given rise to intolerance for others, resulted in politicization of caste-system. done by imperial rule through Censuses had recorded and placed numerous castes into Brahmins, Non-Brahmins, Muslims, Anglo-Indians, untouchables, non-Hindu Communities and backward castes or in categories of outcastes and aborigines and put them in hierarchical order.

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. Caste, in itself, was rigid among the higher castes, but malleable amongst the lower…The government’s act for labels and pigeon-holes had led to a crystallization of the caste system, which, except amongst the aristocratic caste, was really very fluid under indigenous rule.” This division remains a by-word even for the present-day political leaders of Independent India.

Therefore, the Census operations destroyed the flexibility of caste system, led to an all-round hardening of social-system and to frantic effort by each group-for upward mobility.

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

The seeds of caste animosities sown by the British rulers have blossomed to its full after the independence, thanks to Indian politicians and political parties. Today the caste-ism in politics is at its peak.

Consequences of the change – The consequences of this system has been that Indians have forgotten about their roots. The new system has made 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 have increased. Sectarian and regional imbalances has generated social and psychological tensions. Work culture has been degenerated. People have lost faith not only in basic principles/systems of their own culture, but also in themselves and their fellow-beings. Favoritism, in-discipline, violence, corruption, and chase of materialism based on ruthless competition have weakened social fabric beyond repair. A few Individuals and groups, with political, money or muscle power control destiny of millions and have a say in almost every walk of national life. They work day and night to deny justice to ordinary citizens. Erosion of basic moral and human values has turned life of men, “nasty, brutish and short”. Scientific progress has endowed him with tremendous power both to preserve and destroy, but at slightest provocation, they do not hesitate to unleash its destructive powers accessible to them. Swami Vivekanand had said, “It is we, who are responsible for our degradation.”

Winding-up – Indians people still have faith in good intentions and wisdom of their ancestors, who contributed in building social structure of India. Almost all the principles of good organisation are found in the system like “team-spirit”, “Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam” (whole world is one family), “live and let live”, “Self restraint”, “automatic checks and balances” “division of labour” along with “to each according to his needs and from each according to his capacity” etc.

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November 12, 2016 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | | 6 Comments

Good Governance

Good Governance, the toughest job – In modern times, of all acts of civilized society, perhaps, governance is one of the most difficult tasks, as it deals with issues – political, economic or social, that directly affect public life of living human beings, who are full of psychological and sociological complexes and prone to unpredictable behavior. Good governance is the foundation stone to build a forward- looking society. The ultimate aim of governance is to help common men live a peaceful, safe and secure life. Today, this simple and powerful truth is too often forgotten.

How to judge good governance – An efficient administration can successfully comprehend what is attainable, what is practical and what can help the various institutions to formulate plans and policies, by which the nation can seek to assure welfare of all its members. For pursuing the desired objectives  for the sustainable development of the nation, good governance is necessary.

 Maintenance of law and order – Good governance demands maintenance of law and order all over the country.  Then only, those engaged in the task of governance could yield maximum results with minimum labor and resources within time and cost parameters and provide convenience to public at large.

Requirements for good governance – The following are the requirements for good administration leading to the development of the nation –

  • Mental framework of the authorities responsible for governance– Mental framework of the authorities responsible for governance should never be conservative. It should have a scientific outlook and should be progressive, innovative, reformist and even revolutionary in mental attitudes and approaches.
  • Aware and responsible citizens – In governance, attitude of rulers and ruled matters equally. Citizens should be responsible and should be aware of their rights as well as of their duties.
  • Knowledge – For  should have knowledge of science, technology and social sciences.
  • Skills – The authorities responsible for governance should have conceptual skills (ability for innovative problem – analysis), planning skills, technical skills, managerial skills and human skills.
  • Vision – A development-oriented governance requires in the personnel involved, the vision of a statesman and not that of either narrow-minded politicians nor a rule-minded bureaucrat. Along with vision is required dynamism, integrity, drive and passion to convert dreams into reality.
  • Structures – Good governance requires less hierarchical and more team-like structures of governmental institutions, such as Commissions, Boards, Corporations etc.
  • Behaviour – The behavioural pattern should consist of (a) action and achievement orientation (b) responsiveness (c) responsibility (d) all round smooth relations inside with juniors and seniors and outside with clientele and the public (e) commitment to development ideologies and goals. Besides, there should be –
    • A working partnership between the political leaders and bureaucrats.
    • A sense of service, a spirit of dedication, a feeling of involvement and a will to sacrifice for the public welfare.
    • A pragmatic application of the basic democratic principles. Higher authorities should provide the required leadership to the juniors.
    • Constant field inspection by political leaders and senior officials.
    • To provide the government with the ability to be in constant contact with the people; and
    • to make the people conscious that the government is alive to their problem;
    • Smooth relation between generalist administrators, professionals and expert specialists.
    • Refresher courses from time to time to understand and evaluate the success already achieved in the field of development administration and the efforts to be initiated in future.

Decaying trends – According to Ferrel Heady (Ferrel Heady, Public Administration, A comparative perspective, P.270) –  the main hindrances on the way of effective development are:

  1. By the late sixties, a spirit of frustration and despair with `development administration’ and with `development’ in general had set in. For one thing, it became evident that externally induced modernization had failed to eradicate the basic problems of under-developed, it purported to solve. Whilst some significant increase in GNP had indeed taken place, poverty, disease and hunger had either worsened or remained unaltered. The same could be said of the growing gap between the rich and the poor nations or between different social strata within a nation. By seventies, the decaying trends had become noticeable in all the nations of developing world.   Events like the major industrial countries and a crisis of liberal democracy in the seventies and the early eighties have dampened most traces of early optimism.
  2. All developing nations have inherited many things from their past. Their colonial heritage has meant a carry-over of the colonial bureaucratic traditions like elitism, authoritarianism, aloofness, red-tapism and paternalistic tendencies;
  3. There is a deficiency in skilled manpower necessary for development program. It is caused by inadequacies and deficiencies in the educational system, training schemes and brain drain.
  4. There is lack of achievement orientation. The emphasis of government is usually not on programme goals, but on personal expediency, status-orientation on ascriptive grounds. Reason for this is the persistence of traditional value system. Results of this tendency are `institutionalized’ and `socially sanctioned’ large-scale corruption and `over-staffing’ in lower bureaucracy
  5. There is discrepancy between form and reality. There is wide gulf between the administrative form and reality due to a superficial change to modernizing values and substantial continuation of the traditional ideas. As a result, we find superfluous and excessive legislation or rules (which are normally violated), false delegations and decentralizations, eye-washing reports and actions with continuing backwardness.
  6. Bureaucratic Autonomy – Following factors have all made Bureaucracy more self-serving than development oriented –
    •  Colonial tradition, Monopoly and prestige of expertise for development available in bureaucracy,
    • Monopoly of coercive power,
    • Tiredness, inadequacies and instability of political leadership and
    • Near absence or weakness of groups exercising countervailing force over bureaucracy.

Constraints on bureaucracy – According to Valson1, (E.H. Valsan, Development Bureaucracy, A Tentative Model,P.270) the development bureaucracy suffers from the following four constraints:

  • At higher level –
    • disagreements with political bosses;
    • the relatively better economic and social status of civil servants;
    • Supremacy of seniority and patronage than qualifications in promotions; and
    • Unwillingness of bureaucrats to accept new ideas and technology for fear of loss of power and positions.
    • At Middle level, bureaucracy is constrained by: –
      • conflict between young and old minds in civil service;
      • a high level of corruption;
      • low commitment to development; and
      • conflict with higher level development bureaucracy and local politicians.
  • At lower level The government faces:
    • insufficient qualifications;
    • poor salary;
    • loss of morale and loss of faith in development ideology due to frustrating field experience; and
    • loss of initiative, crippling subservience to seniors and sacrifice to developmental objectives.

Remedy

  • Need of a strong and decisive leadership at political level;
  • Through repatterning the Administrative structure; and
  • Through repatterning the behaviour of civil servants. Behavioural changes in bureaucratic patterns are obviously more important.

These dimensions can be achieved through aware and educated citizens, structural reforms  of bureaucracy and arranging for a sound system of ‘education and training’ for all.

For efficient and effective governance, more attention should be paid to proper selection and proper training of those, who occupy managerial roles, and are in some directive capacity in either central agencies or in the field, those, who are concerned with the policy and plans formulation, program-implementation and evaluation” (Valson).

An appropriate designing and sincere shaping of the bureaucracy is necessary for making it an effective instrument for the ‘Development Administration’ required purpose can be done: –

  • Making civil service to serve development is not an impossible thing. It requires a development of administration itself. Development of Administration means “a pattern of increasing effectiveness in the utilisation of available means to achieve prescribed goals” (E.H. Valsan, Development Bureaucracy, A Tentative Model P.270 ). 
  • Administration mainly means increasing the effectiveness of the human resource of administration termed as personnel or civil service.
  • For an effective development administration, the role of entire personnel system should be efficient.
  • But relatively speaking, the role of the higher civil service or the managerial class of service is always more important.   Because in development administration changes with vision, values, ideas, plans and programmes have to be generated and applied.

 Scenario in India – In India, there are many factors, which have made good governance difficult. As a developing nation, it is reeling between many internal contradictions like between prosperity-poverty, between plenty of resource endowments-scarcity of their management, between its culture of peace and tolerance-its tendency of sliding towards violence, intolerance and discrimination.

Deteriorated position of law and order – In recent past, due to unstable political atmosphere, the arbitrariness of few powerful groups or persons has increased and there is lawlessness, corruption and intolerance in public life all over the country.

It has generated a sense of frustration, distrust, venom and agitation/violence amongst masses. Quite often, it threatens to shake the whole system and its structures. Sometimes, general public becomes so inured that any amount of harassment, violence, assaults on human dignity and human rights, bloodshed, caste-wars, carnage, riots, corruption, scams or scandals hardly fazes it anymore. One feels secure, until not affected personally, but how long?

The greatest damage to the nation has been done by intellectuals belonging to six main constituents of national elites of the country – political executive, legislators, media, businessmen, organized workers, surplus farmers and bureaucrats. In recent past, some unpleasant developments have taken place and are continuously happening in the character, role and inter-relationship of these groups.

In such an atmosphere, it is not easy for upright bureaucrats and citizens to give free and frank opinion to their political masters. For their own security and career prospects, they have to play safe.

Experiencing the weaknesses of weak coalition governments, in last general election and Assembly elections of Delhi, Madras, West Bengal, public has sent the respective parties in majority so that they could be strong enough take corrective measures. But instead of working in partnership, few ambitious politicians have started blame-game. The result of such a trend has been that neither they could do much for the public welfare nor let others work for the development of the nation such as has happened in the case of chikungunia and Dengue spreading in Delhi in epidemic form or Delhi becoming almost like a gas-chamber, only because the leadership did not take corrective actions in time.

India is lucky to have a handful of those political leaders, who instead of developing their personal interests and wealth, have guts to take strong actions, such as recent surgical strike against Pakistan’s terrorists and their training camps to curb down the violence at borders. And now a very strong decision to control corruption, black money and terrorism(which has made the nation hollow from within) by addressing the nation and made the stunning declaration on 8th of November evening to scrap Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 notes from the midnight of November 8. Honest and upright persons are happy with the decisions and are accepting and co-operating the government by facing the hardships with the hope of better future.

November 12, 2016 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | , | Leave a comment