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Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Hinduism and Caste System in India

 “Traditional living had been an anchor, keeping our boat in safe harbor, Now that the anchor had gone and the boat is at the mercy of wild waves on a stormy ocean.

“In modern understanding of Hinduism and ‘caste-system’, element of “Hindu” caste’ has been highlighted and mis-interpreted;  and element of ‘system’ has been suppressed.”

 

Introduction, Spot out gems – Hinduism is not a religion, but a way of life. It not only means religious festivals, worship statues of deities. Hindu philosophy of life and its Vedic literature is “An ocean of knowledge in a jar”. It guides humans to lead a decent way of living life under all circumstances and face the challenges of life coolly without losing balance of mind. Its philosophy, sacred texts, values and systems guide people how to live a quality of life and make it enjoyable. A knowledgeable person can spot gems from this ocean of knowledge; pick them up and leave like worthless pebbles the undesired, obsolete elements developed into the system with passage of time. 

Difficult for Western World to understand the nuances of Hinduism – Hinduism does not believe to follow rituals blindly or show off religiosity, as Westerners think. The substance of the knowledge, learning and research work of Rishis-Munis (sages and saints) was put in the form of rituals for the benefit of common-men. Certain practices/guidelines were shaped in the form of rituals by intellectuals and prescribed for the benefit of common-men. These rituals and guidelines inspired people to lead a harmonious and healthy life. And as far as knowledge is concerned, Hinduism believes in the concept of ‘Neti, Neti’, meaning that pursuit of knowledge is a never ending process. 

Deep roots of Hinduism and its caste system in India – Throughout the world, from time immemorial, many systems, structures and principles have been evolved for the benefit and harmonious/peaceful living of all the members in a society. They have remained in vogue for some time, then faded and gave way to new structures, systems and concepts. However it does not apply to Hinduism and Caste system.

Has Hinduism or caste system, an obsolete phenomenon in India. No, it is not! –Had it become obsolete, it would have given place to other systems. At present, in India, about 79.8% of the population identify themselves as Hindus, (roughly about 966 million people) as per 2011 Census of India, who have faith in the Vedic principles of Varna, Dharma, and Karma. (14.2% of the population follow Islam and the remaining 6% adhere to other religions, such as Christianity, Sikhism, and Buddhism etc.). Both Hinduism and its caste system can not be ignored, as an adolescent phenomenon, as its hold on the public mind is still very strong. 

So much and so that, Muslims and Christians, Sikhs or Buddhist, living in India could not remain immune to it for long, though their respective religions believe in egalitarian society.  Muslims, with all their equalitarian faith, formed caste groups. Christians in Kerala were earlier divided into sections, which later on took a caste character.  Sikhs could not overcome caste feelings.  Even Roman Catholics in South India, converted by missionaries in the 16th century, brought their caste feelings with them.[i] The hold of the caste system, on the public mind, is also confirmed by the fact that whenever any system does not work well, public itself removes or replaces it.  The caste system still offers people legitimate goals, strengthens the feeling of inter dependence, mutual respect and improves the quality of life. The following facts proves the strength of caste-system even today:

  • Had it become obsolete, it would have given place to other religions and social structures.
  • Despite centuries of foreign rule, about 79.8% of the population identify themselves as Hindus, (roughly about 966 million people) as per 2011 Census of India, who have faith in the Vedic principles of Varna, Dharma, and Karma. 14.2% of the population follow Islam and the remaining 6% adhere to other religions like Christianity, Sikhism, and Buddhism etc.
  • Caste system has influenced almost other communities living in India and having faith in different religions.
  • In the past, whenever any new social groups desired to join the mainstream, neither they were not prevented, nor the existing internal social was disturbed. All the incoming groups were given enough freedom to prosper according to their internal rhythm. Hindu society never annihilated the faith, way of living, internal order, customs, culture or language of new groups.

World entered into the era of modernity and technological advancement – With process of modernization and technological advancements, happened during late 20th and beginning of 21st centuries, knowledge has progressed at such a fast speed, that human beings are unable to compete/cope with it. Even a genius like Newton, (an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author, described in his own day as a “natural philosopher”, widely recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time, and a key figure in the scientific revolution)  had said, “I am like a child, who is picking pebbles at sea-shore while the great ocean of knowledge lies before me.”

 During modern period, drastic changes have happened in the social, political and economic spheres due to industrialization, modernization, technological advancements, Information technology and mass-media sector. Era of materialism and consumerism started and progressed. Human’s way of thinking, behaving, style of living and pattern of relationships have been transformed almost completely geographically, socially and politically. New ideas, concepts, systems, strategies and management techniques have emerged.

In addition to it, concepts of Welfare state and Development Administration have increased the aspiration and expectations of the people considerably, especially after the World Wat II. Spread of education, public awareness and exposure the developments happened elsewhere in world added fuel into fire.

All these changes have put additional pressure on the traditional values and systems. Many challenges have come on the way. Sincere efforts are being done now by governments of different nations, organisations, researchers, scientists and ordinary people collectively make a difference to find out solutions to those challenges.

Balance between old values and new systems – New concepts, values and systems  always challenge old way of thinking and behaving, no matter how useful they are! Also it has been observed that people watch growth of any new ideology or system with suspicion. It is a difficult task to convince people about its utility. Sometimes undesirable elements/evil practices  develop into the system due to changing atmosphere/circumstances. What is needed, is to maintain a fine balance between old values and the new ones, while applying concepts in real life situations.

Preference to present over pastOld values, old ways of thinking, and ideologies should not be discarded. It will be proper first to analyse them rationally, then reject. In changing atmosphere, 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. Present should be a constant challenge to the opinions of past.

Part I

Hind, Hindustan, Hinduism, Hindu Philosophy

Ancient India was referred to as Bharatvarsh before it came to be known as Hindustan. Derived from the Sanskrit term ‘Bharata’ that means ‘the cherished’, this name dates back to the ancient ‘Hindu Puranas’ (Hindu scriptures). According to it, the legendary Emperor Bharata was the first conqueror of the entire Indian subcontinent and the founder of the famous Bharata dynasty. After him, the Indian land is known as ‘Bharatavarsa,’

Significance of the terms ;Hind’, ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hindustan’ and Caste – The start of the terms Hind, Hindu, Hindustan and Hinduism and Caste has historical significance.  

Hind/Hindustan – Persians conquered the then Indian subcontinent and Greece in 5th century BCE. They called the land beyond Sind river( which runs mostly through present day Pakistan, Jammu & Kashmir in India and Western Tibet) as Hind or Hindustan (‘Stan’ in Persian means ‘land’ or ‘country,’ much like ‘sthana’ in Sanskrit means ‘place’).

HinduPeople living there were called Hindus (that refers to people, the Indo-Aryans). Their religion and culture were termed as Hinduism. These terms have been in use in Greek since Herodotus (4th century BCE)..

From Hindustan to IndiaBy the 13th century, India became a popular alternative name for Hindustan. During British Raj, Latin term “India” has been widely in use. The Indian sub-continent, where Indo-Aryan culture is strongly based, has been usually called India instead of Bharat or Hindustan, there. The term ‘Hindus’ evolved to ‘Indos’ and made its first ever appearance in Old English in 9th century and re-emerged in Modern English in the 17th century. After Independence, it is known as the “Republic of India”.

Hinduism as a culture/civilization, philosophy and religion – Hinduism presents one of the oldest,  continuous and uninterrupted living culture and civilization in the world. Sometimes, during 19th century, English writers had added ‘ism’ to Hindu. it is  not possible for the aliens to understand the true meaning, ethos and nuances Hinduism. Hinduism is not a religion like Christianity or Islam. ‘Hinduism’ is  ‘a way of life’ and ’fusion of various beliefs’, mainly based on the principle ‘Dharma’.   

Believers in Hindu Mythology think that Hinduism as a culture has always existed and is beyond the limits of time. As a culture and civilization of the indigenous people living beyond Sindhu River, it has always existed. Later on, a large number of social groups migrated from elsewhere and willingly merged into the mainstream of Hindustan.

Others believe that Hinduism as a Vedic culture originated during the period of Indus Valley Civilization (around 3300–1300 BCE) on the Indo-Gangetic Plains, (in northern parts of India) and matured by 2600–1900 BCE), and spread/flourished throughout India during 1500 BC and 500 BC. The blending up of migrating social groups, their language, values, systems  and culture with that of the indigenous people living in the region gave rise to Vedic Culture of Hinduism.

Hinduism as a religionHinduism is not merely a religion like other religions, i.e.  Christianity or Islam. The term ‘Religion’ (as a set of religious beliefs) was shaped much later, during Renaissance movement of 14th/15th centuries, Before the colonization of India, the religion of Hindustanis was as Sanatana Dharma. As far as Hinduism is concerned, it is a magnificent example of scientific division and orderly arrangement of rules, in a few words, in different branches of human knowledge, covering almost all the aspects of life, be it phonetics, arts, literature, medicine, polity, metrics, law, philosophy, astrology or astronomy. It speaks of everything- on staying healthy, social evils, improving concentration and tenets of behavior, which are relevant even today.

According to the philologist Max Müller (the 19th century), the root of the English word religion is the Latin religio. The word means “to bind together.” For the first time the word was used in the 1500s to distinguish worldly things from spirituality  and  morality and set the domain of the church. Since then, Religion means belief in or worship of God/Gods and a system of religious beliefs and practices. It originally meant reverence for God or the gods, careful pondering of divine things, piety.

Western thinkers have defined Hinduism as a religion/religious tradition/set of religious beliefs. They have  literally translated the Sanskrit word ‘Dharma’ into English as ‘religion’. Hinduism was used as a religion only after the colonization of Indus Valley civilization and under the influence of Europeans, especially the British.

At present, Hinduism (15%) is said to be one of the oldest and largest religion in the world after Christianity (Christianity 33%) and Islam (24.1%). The Upanishads (Vedic texts) were composed, containing the earliest emergence of some of the central religious concepts of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Its roots are traced back to prehistoric times, over 5,000 years ago. Hinduism spread through parts of Southeastern Asia, China, Korea, and Japan. Hindus worship a single god with different forms.

Part II

Hinduism as a Philosophy

Many intellectuals and reformers regard Hinduism, its values and systems, culture and philosophy, in its purest form, as one of the most scientific ideology ever developed anywhere in the world. It has taken thousands of years to take a shape of principle. It cannot be found in one single authoritative text, nor can it be attributed to one single author.

‘Vedas’, ‘Smritis’ ‘Sutras’, ‘Upanishads’, Ramayana and Bhagvat Gita are not merely the scriptures/religious/spiritual books, but also a perfect guide to lead a happy life. These Epics “contain an ocean of knowledge in a jar.”[i] The ”Rig Veda” , dated to between 1500–1200 BCE is said to be the oldest  complete religious holy book that has survived into the modern age. Laws of Manu, (date of publication uncertain but believed to be about 200 BC) was a hybrid moral-religious-law code and one of the first written law codes of Asia. According to Hindu tradition, the Manu Smruti records the words of Brahma. Manusmriti is also called the Mānava-Dharmaśāstra or Laws of Manu (human). In spite of its age, it has sustained paramountcy in the Hindu culture. It was also the code of conduct for inter-caste relationships in India.

Mode of transferring sacred knowledge to succeeding generations – In the beginning, the priestly schools had devised a most remarkable and effective system of transferring knowledge to succeeding generations in the form of hymns, restricting it only to those, possessing brilliant feats of memory and capability to keep extreme sanctity. Later on, it was put together in ‘Vedas’, ‘Smritis’ ‘Sutras’, and ‘Upanishads’.

Hindu philosophy covers almost all aspects of human life – The Vedic literature is a magnificent example of scientific division and orderly arrangement of rules, in a few words, in different branches of human knowledge be it phonetics, arts, literature, medicine, polity, metrics, law, philosophy, astrology or astronomy.

Mahabharata and Ramayana are the two great epics of India, which covers almost all the aspects of human life. It commands the respect and attention of an average Indian. It has guided the people to live a quality of life here in this world, but and also to improve the status of one’s re-births after death.  Its rituals are techniques for leading a harmonious life. It speaks about everything, be it in the sphere of spirituality or material well-being – on staying healthy, overcome social evils, improve concentration and mannerism, which are relevant even today.

Teachings of Bhagvat Gita Following are lessons of Gita give an exercise to human minds in the same manner as yogic exercises to bodies:

  • Detach from illusions and attach to Divine. Give priority to divinity. See divinity all around.
  • Have enough knowledge/intellect/devotion to see the truth as it is.
  • Attachment is the cause of all distress.
  • Detachment is the way to progress and prosperity.
  • The attainment of True Knowledge is the ultimate aim of all such deeds.
  • Fight for right cause in life is the ultimate solution to all problems.
  • Live a simple life-style that matches your vision.
  • Always remain steady.
  • Renounce the ego and attain salvation leading to unending peace and happiness.
  • Every act should be done in moderation.
  • True Knowledge is far Superior to the knowledge of the Sacred Scripts.
  • Stress is on Detachment and Equanimity. Happiness and unhappiness should be considered alike. For achieving detachment or renunciation, Knowledge and intellect play an important role.

This gold mine of knowledge inspired not only Indians, but foreigners as well.  Intellectuals from various countries have translated it in their own languages and reinterpreted it for a rational mind. reinterpreted it for a rational mind. Today, when Indians are getting away from their roots, it can make their feet firmly grounded on earth and  instill right values in them

Only after raising oneself from ignorance, a person could be able to understand the greatness of the Indian value system. Like a jeweler, one could spot out gems from among worthless pebbles.  A knowledgeable person could pick up knowledge and leave the undesired obsolete elements developed in it with passage of time.

When in the past, the rest of the world was passing through the Dark Age, India was full of light. The first few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. During this period, arts, commerce, crafts, philosophy and knowledge flourished magnificently. Its people reached a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas. It was rich in literary, philosophical and religious fields.

An inspiration for all – Values and principles of Hindu philosophy have always remained an inspiring icon of peace, harmony, compassion and other human values for the whole universe. Caste system has worked as one of the instruments to maintain the continuity of Indian culture and civilization without interruption.

Part III

Hinduism and caste system as a culture

India presents one of the oldest, continuous and uninterrupted living civilization in the whole world known as Hinduism. (Other well advanced civilizations of ancient world were of Egypt, Greece and Mesopotamia). One of the prominent features of Indian civilization is its ‘Caste-system’. Caste system is a unique way of stratifying the society. It has been conceptualized, originated and practiced exclusively in India. It has given a distinguished identity to Indian society.

General principles of Hinduism guide people to live here on the earth happily and lead a quality of life, and then after death, enable soul to make its onward journey worthwhile. It tells common-men about the purpose of human life. The rituals, customs, traditions of a society should not be mixed up with the basic principles of Hindu . Following are some of the basic principles of Hindu Philosophy:-

Atma (Self) and Parmatma (Creator of Universe) – In Hinduism, according to Principle of non-duality, the Creator’/’Bramhan’/’Parmatma’ (God) and the ‘Creation’/ ‘Atma’ (every living thing in this world). Atma and Parmatma are the integral part of the same God, and therefore inter-linked. The ultimate purpose of human life, according to Indian thought, is to unite with the ultimate Reality, the Divine/Brahman. 

Brahman’ is a key concept found in the Vedas, and it is extensively discussed in the early Upanishads. The Vedas conceptualize Brahman as the Cosmic Principle.[10] In the Upanishads, it has been variously described as Sat-cit-ānanda (truth-consciousness-bliss) and as the unchanging, permanent, highest reality.

Parmatma/Brahman is the creator and destroyer of the entire Universe. He is Supreme, the Ultimate Reality in the universe. He is all-pervasive, infinite, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes. HE is present in all the objects, including human body.

Atman The predominant teaching in the Upanishads Atman means ‘eternal self’. The atman refers to the real self beyond ego or false self. It is often referred to as ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ and indicates the true self or essence which underlies our existence. Atman is the spiritual identity of soul within the body of each and every human being and inside every other living being, be it an animal or a tree. It is an integral part of the supreme, ultimate reality Brahman, which is the “world soul” or “cosmic soul.” It is the eternal essence of the universe and the ultimate divine reality.

Human body – Every human has two components – the body and the soul. Soul is indestructible. Body, which is  (made up of eight elements earth, water, air, sky, fire, mind, intellect and ego) does not retain its original form or shape even during one life time. Similarly, body Death merely changes the form of the body. 

Principle of Reincarnation – Hinduism believes in the Immortality of the soul, and the ‘Principle of Reincarnation’ which means that the soul is a deathlessness entity. After death it is reborn again and again depending on the deeds of previous birth till it attains salvation. After several births and deaths of body, one can reach a state of immortality. But once it attains Salvation, it is not born again.

Ultimate purpose of human life, Moksha/SalvationThe ultimate purpose of human life is Immortality/Salvation/Moksha, get rid of the pangs of rebirth and death. In order to set itself free from the cycle of multiple rebirths and deaths, one should do follow the path of ‘Dharma’. Good deeds of human can help to reach up to the stage of salvation. One needs to practice continuously detachment (restrain one’s senses from drifting towards the objects of pleasure) and balanced mindset.

Avatars to save humanity from evil – According to Western philosophers Hinduism believes in Avatars. According to Hindu mythology (based on some truth and some imagination), the Supreme power visits the earth from time to time in some form of Avatars to save humanity from evil. So far these Avatars have visited the earth – Matsyavatar (fish), then to Kurma (tortoise)); Varaha (wild boar); Narsimha (half animal half mam); Vamana (dwarf); Parushrama with axe (tool); Rama, the Maryadapurusha; Krishna the playful and serious avatar; and ninth, Budha the enlightened one. The world is awaiting for the 10th avatar in the form of Kalki, a genetically supreme bionic man. (‘Know your religion through its philosophy’ by Prakash Shesh, the Speaking tree, TOI, January 14, 2016, p. 20)

Righteousness always wins over Evil – Stories about each Avatars inspire and encourage masses to follow the path of virtue and keep themselves away from evils. Different rituals, traditions, and customs give to the people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved. 

Rituals, customs, traditions of any society should not be interpreted blindly either by insiders or outsiders without understanding the basic principles/ purpose behind them and should not be mixed up with negative thinking, derailed practices or superstitions. its basic principles. Festivals like Dussehra, Janmashtami etc. are celebrated to give the people the message that mark that ‘Virtue always wins over Evil’.

Concept of Right And Wrong, according to Indian philosophy – Right and wrong are relative terms. The idea of sin and virtue, good and evil are creations of the mind. They reflect the needs of society and therefore bear not much value. Truth lies somewhere in between various differing opinions. Yesterday’s Right/truth/Justice may be today’s wrong/falsehood/injustice, and today’s right tomorrow’s wrong. Truth is like a chameleon in reverse. It always assumes colors other than those of its environment. People chase truth/justice without embracing it. To understand it one needs a balanced approach. A rational opinion about it can be formed only by keeping these four variables in mind:

  • Desha (region) – The culture of a place, in which a person is born,
  • Kala (time) -The period of historical time, in which a person
  • is born,
  • Shrama (Effort)-The efforts required of him at different stages of Life,
  • Guna (Quality)-Aptitude and innate psycho-biological traits.

Positive and negative Mindset of human beings (Gunas) – Hindu philosophy believes that the whole world of activities is a result of complex intermixing of three basic qualities of human nature Satva, Rajas and Tamas. When born, a person, is like a clean slate – pure, formless, undifferentiated Consciousness. What s(he) writes on it, depends on the relative strengths of three Gunas –Tamas, Rajat and Sattva. The categorization in these three groups is usually depend on degree of attachment-detachment, austerity, Purity/cleanliness of body, speech and mind, charity and positive or negative thinking.

‘Satva’ Guna (Positive mindset) – ‘Satva’ is associated with peace purity, knowledge with clarity in  thinking positive attitude and consistency in actions. (1) Fearlessness, (2) Cleanliness of mind and body, (3) Devotion towards God, (4) Acquisition of true knowledge, (5) Suppression of the senses, (6) Study of scriptures, (7) Recitation of God’s name, (8) Taking pain in following one’s own code of conduct, (9) Simplicity of mind, inner self and senses, (10)Non-violence in all its forms, (11) Speaking Truth in a pleasant manner, (12) Absence of anger, (13) Non attachment, (14) Peace of mind, (15) Not speaking ill of others, (16) Kindness towards all, (17) Forgiveness, (18) Patience, (19) Lack of ego and (20) Feeling ashamed while doing something against Laws or Traditions.

‘Rajas Guna’ (Having power to control people and events)) – Rajas represents itself by power, passion, action, energy and motion. Rajas Guna drives people towards passion, power, ambition, and love for comfortable living. It often makes an individual self-centred. It does not care much about any particular value. It can contextually be either good or bad. 

‘Tamas’ (Negative mindset) – Individuals with Tamas or negative thinking are the victims of ignorance, sloth carelessness. It usually suppresses good qualities and leads towards `Adharma (immoral behavior), Alasya (laziness) and Agyan (ignorance). Tamas/negative mindset manifests (1) the show off, (2) pride, (3) ego, (4) anger, (5) harsh words, (6) lack of knowledge and (7) falsehood. Persons with negative mindset usually responsible for different kinds of social evils, exploitation and miseries of the people.

Lesson – In order to keep oneself away from negative mindset, one should first ‘Think’ before taking any step, then ‘evaluate’, and try to be Creative and confident, while setting goals.

Inter-play of the three qualities determine personality of a person – Inter-play of these three qualities determine the personality, Inter-play of the three qualities determine the tendencies, potentialities, limitations, traits and character of different individuals and give them direction for action. The material world through senses attracts human mind towards a mirage/illusion or attachment. Many a times, attachment leads to impurities. Freedom of mind from attachment/illusion is consciousness. In order to become civilized, one has to keep in control and observance of cleanliness – of body, speech and mind. The purpose of human life should be to overcome Tamas, refine Rajat and inculcate Sattva.

Principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma, The Foundation pillar of Hinduism

Principles of Dharma Varna and Karma are the core values of Indian ethos. Together these principles have given  a sustainable social structure and a distinct identity to Hindu society.

Doctrine of Varna – Hinduism has provided legitimacy to the Varna/Jati Pratha and prepared a political and social framework for Hindu society. Doctrine of Varna has provided continuity and stability despite numerous foreign invasions, migrations and assimilation of various groups.

Numerous castes and sub-castes emerged within each Varna. ‘Varnas’ were never more or less than four and always remained the same. Castes had its ethnic roots as denoted by Jati and a ritualistic and symbolic significance in its Varna aspect. Each caste found its place under a Varna on the basis of their nature of work, its being ritually clean or unclean and amount of self-discipline, they exercised.

According to Hindu philosophy, individuals differ from each other in natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics.  Their physical strength, mental capacity and moral aspirations, like and dislikes, inclination and expectations are not the same. Different activities should be assigned to different sections of society according to its natural endowment/inclinations, qualities and aptitudes/psychological characteristics.

Hinduism believes that individuals differ from each other in natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics.  Their physical strength, mental capacity and moral aspirations, like and dislikes, inclination and expectations are not the same. Different activities should be assigned to different sections of society according to its natural endowment/inclinations, qualities and aptitudes/psychological characteristics.

Stratification of Hindu society based on Gunas (Qualifications) – Division of labour in Hindu society is was based on the Gunas. Hindu society is classified into four social groups ie Varnas according to their attitude and aptitude – Brahmins (Learners) possessing qualities of “Sat and “austerity, busy in pursuing knowledge; Khhatrias (Warriors and men of action ), Having quality of Rajas, Vaishyas (Business men)and Shudras (workers under the guidance of above three groups).

Initially, according to Smritis it was not birth, but the qualities and deeds, which fitted one into a particular group. But, later on, upbringing, atmosphere and convenience tended to make these groups hereditary. At present, employment/occupation/profession of people depend on number of formal degrees/ diplomas/certificates.

Numerous castes and sub-castes emerged within each Varna – As population increased and more and more indigenous and foreign social groups were merged into the Hindu-fold, Vedic Varna system gave rise to caste system.. ‘Varnas’ were never more or less than four and always remained the same. Castes had its ethnic roots as denoted by Jati and a ritualistic and symbolic significance in its Varna aspect. Each caste found its place under a Varna on the basis of their nature of work, its being ritually clean or unclean and amount of self-discipline, they exercised.

Castes had its ethnic roots as denoted by Jati and a ritualistic and symbolic significance in its Varna aspect. Each caste found its place under a Varna on the basis of their nature of work, its being ritually clean or unclean and amount of self-discipline, they exercised.

This way, Principle of Varna defines, distributes and organizes performance of various functions systematically within society.

Principle of Dharma Scholars have repeatedly commented that the word ‘Dharma’ is not translatable in English. Words like law righteousness, ethics, morality all together are not enough to give justice to the meaning of Dharma. The principle of Dharma embraced within itself religion, law, duty, righteousness, morality and conformity with truth”. Along with its being a religious idea, Dharma was also a principle and a vision of an organic society, in which all participating members were independent, yet their roles complimentary.

Dharma has defined the roles, duties and vocations of different sections of society on the basis of their attitude and aptitude roles. it has organized systematically the performance of various functions, provided  a quality of life to its people and has organized inter-relationship of various sections of society.

Common Dharma for all – There is a common Dharma, which is applicable to all. These are the norms and values of good conduct, which lead individuals to the path of righteousness. All the people in the society are governed by Dharma at all times, be it a ruler or ruled, parent or child, teacher or student or man or woman. Principle of Dharma has given universal, practical and eternal guidelines to be followed in personal life, family life, community life, social life, professional life and national life.

Specific and separate Dharma for different sections of society – Principle of Dharma specifies role, duties, privileges and restrictions of each role separately. It prescribes a separate Dharma appropriate to each Varna, each class and each stage of human life.

The prescribed rules by principle of Dharma are in tune with the nature. They regulate the behaviour and inter-personal the relationship of its component members. In order Dharma prescribes Separate roles for different communities is based on inherent qualities, aptitude and potentialities of its members. The Dharma of Brahmin is not that of a Shudra, or the Dharma of a student not that of an old man.

Follow Swadharma – ‘Dharma’ advices people to follow honestly their own duties, ‘Swadharma’. Following one’s own Dharma gives everybody else opportunities to live and prosper socially, professionally, economically, and spiritually according to their own rhythm. It thus prepares atmosphere guides people to do their jobs well well as others traditions and culture.

Will power to follow the path of ‘Swadharma’ – Moulding life according to Swadharma is not an easy task. It requires will power and a strong character. Therefore, persons with weak faculties finds it difficult to observe Dharma. Dharma along with Karma was the means, through which a person approached the desired goal of life, the ultimate aim being salvation from the cycle of birth and death.

Principle of Karma with Detachment – Doctrine of Karma guides people to remain true and to fulfil their duties earnestly, enables different groups to act cooperatively. It makes the inequalities, prevalent in the society, tolerable to an average Indian. It has ensured social harmony and prevented rivalries and jealousies. 

Central Theme of Gita – Karma is the central theme of Bhagwat Gita. The Philosophy of Gita is simple. It guides people ‘Rely on one’s own Laws and Traditions. Do one’s own duties/deeds without hesitation and with complete devotion towards God, and achieve what is generally achieved by such deeds.

Every act should be done in moderation – Gita teaches that control over mind is necessary for purification of Soul. And for purification of Soul, one should fulfil the duties assigned to him in proper manner and in moderation.

Detachment – Detachment is the doorway to self-realization and to have control over restless mind. If a person wants peace of mind, he should not try to feel elated with the feeling that he is the doer of the deeds. Dedicate the results of all your deeds to God. Then one can keep the mind free from attachment towards the results of his deeds. In that manner one can reach beyond the scope of the three qualities – (saintly, worldly lethargic).

Prepares atmosphere of co-existence Together these principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma have prepared an atmosphere of co-existence for different sections of its society – be it ruler or ruled, rich or poor; and  have held together different castes and communities having diverse languages and practices for generations – thus making unity in diversity a reality.

Sanatan Dharma [Eternal values) according to Hinduism – It is said that “Things that are  perfected by nature are better than anything else.” Sanatan Dharma nurtures the basic instincts of human beings over nature, after a deep study of natural instincts, inherent attributes and natural behavioral pattern and takes care of the basic physical, mental and spiritual needs of the human beings at different stages of life.

Sanatana means eternal or beyond the time and Dharma means duty. Sanatan Dharma is the Universal Truth, which sustains the very core of Universe and its beings. It tells about general norms of conduct at different stages of life. Its rules are universal, eternal, applicable to all human beings  and much above race, caste or creed. Even today these are as relevant as it was earlier.  

Many learned sages and intellectuals, belonging to different communities studied for centuries, the natural instincts, behavioral pattern, inherent attributes and felt needs (physical, mental and spiritual) of people at different stages of life. They attached great importance to social values. On basis of their experiences and deep thinking,  a program of eternal values – a compact life package known as ‘Sanatan Dharma’ was formulated. The whole scheme is in conformity with time and forces of nature. Indian philosophers and Epic writers attached great importance to social values.

Work is WorshipHindu Philosophy has taught people that Work is Worship. All kinds of work are worth pursuing and respectable, if done in its sincerely. No work is superior/high or humble/inferior/derogatory/ or waste. Any work done in its true spirit could never be derogatory or a waste.

Work is done not so much for its external reward, but for the intrinsic satisfaction towards realization of ‘Swadharma’. Society assigns everybody a specific task to do as per one’s own karmas and destiny. Proper assignment and performance leads the whole society to live quality of life. While performing Swadharma without hesitation, a person gets earns a rightful place in the society and a feeling of being an integral part of the society, not an outsider to it. Society itself assigns each one a specific duty to do. Do the duties/deeds assigned by the society without hesitation and with complete devotion towards God, and achieve what is generally achieved by such deeds.

Hindu culture tells assured people that proper performance of Swadharma with honesty and sincerity assures both, worldly honour and spiritual happiness. The work of a priest, warrior, manual worker or yogi, all are equally important for the society and are, therefore, right, respectable and worth pursuing.

The idea of white-collared jobs, blue-collared jobs and menial/derogatory jobs is the contribution of Western world. After industrial Revolution, . It has attracted the attention of common men to a great extend in modern times.

Assignment of work on the basis of Attitude and aptitude – Principle of Varna believes in Principle of ‘Division of Labour’. According to it, individuals differ from each other in natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics.  Their physical strength, mental capacity and moral aspirations, like and dislikes, inclination and expectations are not the same. Different activities should be assigned to different sections of society according to its natural endowment/inclinations, qualities and aptitudes/psychological characteristics.

Gunas the basis of stratification of Hindu society – Varna system has classified Hindu society into four Varnas/social groups according to their Gunas (Qulifications) – Brahmins (Learners); Khhatrias (Warriors), Vaishyas (Business men) and Shudras (workers under the guidance of above three groups). “Sat” or “austerity is required for pursuing knowledge, “Rajas” is the quality needed for actions of courage, bravery, power and protection of the weak. Initially, according to Smritis it was not birth, but the qualities and deeds, which fitted one into a particular group. But, later on, upbringing, atmosphere and convenience tended to make these groups hereditary.

As against this system, employment/occupation/profession of people depend on number of formal degrees/ diplomas/certificates.

Eternal values (Sanatan Dharma) according to HinduismIt is said that “Things that are  perfected by nature are better than anything else”. Sanatana (eternal/beyond the time) Dharma (duty) is the Universal Truth which sustains the very core of Universe and its beings. It tells about general norms of conduct at different stages of life. Its rules are universal, eternal, applicable to all human beings  and much above race, caste or creed. Even today these are as relevant as it was earlier.  

Many learned sages and intellectuals, belonging to different communities studied for centuries, the natural instincts, behavioural pattern, inherent attributes and felt needs (physical, mental and spiritual) of people at different stages of life. On basis of their experiences and deep thinking,  a program of eternal values – a compact life package known as ‘Sanatan Dharma’ – was formulated. It attaches importance to social values.

Sanatan Dharma nurtures the basic instincts of human beings over nature. It takes care of the basic physical, mental and spiritual needs of the human beings at different stages of life. The whole scheme is in conformity with time and forces of nature.

For living life fully and fruitfully and aging gracefully, a person has to pass through four stages of life and perform different duties in different stages of life. Sanatan Dharma defines clearly rights and duties of human beings at each stage of life and achieve Sachchidanand (Bliss, consciousness and knowledge). It teaches to do the duties sincerely at right time and  right age of life. According to it, there is one pre-stage followed by four stages in human life. These stages are:-

Different Stages of human life – For living life fruitfully and aging gracefully, every person passes through four stages of life, At each stage s(he) performs different duties. Sanatan Dharma prescribes clearly rights and duties of human beings at each stage of life and achieve Sachchidanand (Bliss, consciousness and knowledge). According to it, there is one pre-stage followed by four stages in human life. These stages (Ashramas) are:-

Pre stage of Balyavastha or Childhood – The first 5 or 6 years of infants’ and toddlers’ life is the pre-stage of learning. It is the best period of human life. During this  period, the ground for  learning is prepared at home under the full-time attention, loving care and guidance of his parents. A child learns and understands the first lesson of real life, about human relationships and mannerism. Constant interaction between parents and children prepares an atmosphere for development of child’s mental and physical faculties and character. It is the responsibility of parents to shape the attitude of their children. Obedience is expected from child.

First stage of human life, Brahamcharya Ashram – Brahmacharya Ashram stage of human life is the right time for learning. Students should lead a simple and disciplined lifestyle. They should devote their time to acquire knowledge without bothering much about their comfort zone. Teacher’s job is to impart knowledge, shape attitudes, cultivate skills and build work habits of their students, so that after completing their course, people are better adjusted in real life environment. They should help students to develop their mental and moral faculties and guide them to have control over their senses, mind and intellect. At this stage society rears, protects and gives its best as heritage to coming generation.

Second Stage of human-life, Grihasthashram/Family-life – This phase is the most energetic time of human life, to rejoice the life, may be as a family-man (Grahastha/housholder) or a bachelor.

Grihasthashram has been given a high place of honour. Life offers opportunities to utilize one’s intellectual and physical capabilities. During this phase a man or woman to pursues and fulfils the dreams/desires or 4 goals of life, with greater emphasis on first three – Dharma (piety, morality, duties), Artha (wealth, health, means of life), Kama (love, relationships, emotions) and Moksha (liberation, freedom, self-realization).[7] 

At this stage, Householders are directly or indirectly in contact with the whole society. They give protection to their dependents in consistent with their capacity, dictates of their knowledge and conscience. Dependents include elders, children, members of extended family and strangers in need of help. They contribute to other sections of society, They are responsible to sustain people belonging to other three Ashramas, to look after their management and the needs (like provision of food and financial help).

Third Stage of life, Vanaprastha Ashram/Adulthood – Grihathashram is conceptually followed by Vanaprastha Ashram. It is time to lead a retired life. After fulfilling familial liabilities, time comes in life to start process of withdrawal, delegation of authority to next generation, detachment from familial bonds and renunciation of worldly pleasures. More time should be spent in contemplation. Time can be utilized by doing social service and attending spiritual discourses.

Running after luxurios life style or Material success at this stage is not the aim. It is the time for ‘Simple living and high thinking’. Elders can provide extended care, to help in taking decisions, maintaining discipline within their respective groups and taking care of and helping weak and helpless members like poor, widows or destitute.

Fourth Stage of life, Sanyas (renunciation) – It is a time to prepare oneself to leave this world and go to an unknown world. It is time of complete detachment, resignation and renunciation. Realization of spirituality and wisdom is the aim. A person is completely free from any obligation.

Hindu philosophy considers these four stages as a facet of Dharma concept, something essential to completing the full development of a human life and fulfilling all the needs of the individual and society.[3][7]

Earlier, when human life was not so complicated and men were closer to nature, people could follow the principles of Sanatan Dharma without much difficulty. With the erosion of moral values and life becoming more and more complex, it became difficult for people to practice it.

Knowledge, necessary for understanding – Vedas tell that creation and quest for knowledge is a constant process, without any beginning or an end. It is a never ending process (‘Neti’, ‘Neti’). Indian  Sages (Rishis and Munies) believed that even Vedas are not the end for quest for knowledge or prescribes any final absolutes.

According to Gita, Senses are superior to the body, Mind is superior to the Senses and Knowledge or intellect is superior to the Mind. Knowledge is better than Abhyas (practice), Meditation is better than Knowledge. Renunciation of the fruits of action is still better than Meditation for peace.

Knowledge is necessary for giving Karma its due meaning, direction and value. Gita says that ‘action’/’deed’ should be combined with intellect (positive energies). Ignorance leads to futile efforts destroying direction. There are choices before everyone – either to take any action with knowledge and positive attitude or do a deed with ignorant/negative mindset.

Self-discipline, self-reliance and self-restraint – Hindu culture gives importance to the considerations of self-discipline, morality, and knowledge. Hindu culture suggests all to lead a self-restraint and self-disciplined life in all respect, be it in the matter of daily routine, occupation or inter group relationship.

Earlier, Hindu society ranked different social groups on the basis their lifestyle and discipline they observe and usefulness of their work to the society as a whole. Knowledge, spirituality, morality, hygiene, cleanliness of body and mind (concept of purity and impurity) were the considerations, which determined the social, economic or political status of a group within society vis-a vis other social groups. Purer a varna or caste was, higher it was considered. And the higher it was, greater were the self-restrictions on its behaviour through rituals.

Discipline was inculcated amongst ignorant masses, and a sense of direction was given to them through infinite variety of rituals, prayers, practices, customs and meditation.

Tolerance and acceptance/interdependenceHindu culture values interdependence, acceptance and tolerance as –

(a) It accepts that there are different paths leading to God and be humane; (b) It gives complete liberty to worship any god or goddess of their choice, as well as use their own methods of worship; (c)It does not impose its own codes of conduct on other faiths; (d) It is liberal enough to see atheism as a legitimate pursuit.

Ethos of Hinduism – Hinduism firmly believes in the principles, ‘Live and let live’, ‘Vasudhaiv-Kutumbakam’ (The whole world is one family). Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression are the hallmark of Hindu culture. It can be seen everywhere in common men’s way of life and is the integral part of Indian ethos. Indians  endure without much protest injustice and unfairness until they are pushed right to the wall. It has prevented its people to exercise coercion, force, violence or aggressions.

Concedes validity to all the religions – Tolerance is most evident in the field of religion.  Hindu faith in an all pervading omnipresent god, multiplicity of god and goddesses as representing some portion of the infinite aspect of the Supreme Being, inspires it to accommodate people of all faiths.  Hinduism concedes validity to all the religions and does not lay down strictures against any faith or reject any religion or its god as false.  That is why, all the twelve major religions of the world are present and flourishing in India without much hindrance. 

Entered into modern era without any cultural break – In the past, intolerance of people elsewhere in the world had compelled the people to work under the threat of a whip or led to bloody revolutions as had happened in ancient Greece, Rome or other European countries. However, tolerance in India had kept on adapting itself to changing times and had prevented people from taking up the path of violence. It is continuously internalizing the changes and has kept on adapting itself to changing times. India has entered the modern era without any cultural break.

Administration is one such area, where tolerance is harmful, as it not only hinders the development, but also pushes the nation backwards. Hindu people tolerate inefficiency of the administration, corruption, scandals, scams, even criminalization of politics without much protest. They do not mind much oppression and exploitation by powerful lobbies in the society. Elsewhere in the world, such situations would have led to strong protests/bloody revolutions.

Hinduism a wonderful example of assimilation and Inclusiveness – More than anywhere else in the world, India holds a multitude of thoughts, processes them and practices them. There has been co-existence of varied belief, pattern and thought due to inter-mixing and cultural mingling.

Beauty of Hinduism lies in the way, it assimilated numerous social groups coming from different parts of the world at different points of time in waves immigrants, locals, tribal, professionals or others – into its mainstream unlike Islam or Christianity. It does not believe in conversion or imposing its beliefs, practices and customs on others. Hindu religion has neither repulsed any trend vehemently, nor allowed others to sweep its own established culture off the roots.

Caste-system used as a mechanism for inclusion of other groups – Caste system assigned each incoming new group a separate caste identity. Society remained stable, while offering a place to a new community. The system neither disturbed its existing internal social order nor prevented any new group to develop itself. Without any conversion, caste system made new groups its integral part. It never tried to annihilate their faith, originality, internal order, customs, culture or language. Instead, it gave all incoming groups freedom to prosper/make changes into their systems according to their internal rhythm.

Modern India – Everything is moving at a very fast speed in India due to globalization and modernization. It has influenced the thinking, mannerism and life-style of its people in big way. The whole atmosphere is in a state of turmoil. People are gradually loosing faith in traditional values and systems. Even institution like family has lost its sheen.

Political institutions are almost paralyzed because of corruption. And economy of the country is in a critical condition. It is question of ‘demand and supply’. Government does not have enough resources and infra-structure to meet public demands.

It is quite a tough job for India to cope with the new challenges. C. Rajagopalachari says If there is honesty in India today, any hospitality, any charity…. any aversion to evil, any love to be good, it is due to whatever remains of the old faith and the old culture. Now India is desperate to pick up the lost threads of its true culture, beliefs and trying to create an atmosphere where different identities could once again live together in harmony and can proudly say we belong to a nation known as India, Hindustan, and Bharat. 

IV Caste system

In the present understanding of caste, element of caste is dominant and a system has been considerably suppressed. The reality is that the roots of caste system are so deep that it is virtually impossible to think of India without caste system. Castes has its ethnic roots as denoted by Jati, and a ritualistic and symbolic significance in its Varna aspect. It has been one of the dominant features still running through the entire social fabric of India. Caste-system is inseparably related to Hinduism by traditional customs, values and systems. It is having both religious and social sanction behind it.

Don Martindale has described caste as “Caste was the system of social life, in which Hinduism was expressed. …  Caste and Hinduism succeeded in doing in India, what no state, no conqueror and no economy was able to do – the establishment of a single unified system of society throughout the whole of India (accommodating numerous semi-autonomous communities arising at many times and in many places), a system of society, which was able to comprise a greater range of local differences in a single system than any society has previously accomplished.”

Meaning of the term caste – The term “caste” was unknown in India. The terms ‘Varna and jaati’ were used earlier in ancient and medieval India to identify different social groups and sub-groups. The term ‘Caste’ has been in use ever since British came to rule India.

The term caste has originated from Portuguese “casta” meaning race, breed, ancestry, and from Latin word “Castus” “casto” meaning pure, chaste. Application to Hindu social groups was picked up by English in India 1610s from Portuguese casta “breed, race, caste,” earlier casta raça, “unmixed race,” from the same Latin word. The current spelling of English word is from this reborrowing.

Terms Varṇa (वर्णः) and Jaati – Varna is a Sanskrit word which means type, order, colour or class. ‘Jati’ which comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Jana’. ‘Jaāti’ refers to thousands of endogamous social groups, sub-groups and sub-sub- groups coming under each Varna, living across the subcontinent. A jati may be divided into exogamous groups based on the same gotras. (Dumont, Louis (1980), Homo hierarchicus: the caste system and its implications, University of Chicago Press, pp. 66–67) Castes have its ethnic roots as denoted by Jati, and a ritualistic and symbolic significance in its Varna aspect.

The origin of the words ‘Varna or Jaati’ can-not be found in one single authoritative text like Bible or Kuran, nor can it be attributed to one single founder, Jesus Christ or Mohammad Sahib. It is the development of thousands of years. to develop with the association of numerous social groups into it at different point of time. It started with the arrival of Aryans hereditary kinship and tribal groups in India in waves, from different parts of the world.

It is virtually impossible to think of India without caste system. It has bee one of the dominant features still running through the entire social fabric of India. Caste-system is inseparably related to Hinduism by traditional customs, values and systems.

Origin of the terms, ‘Varna‘/‘Jaati’ and ‘Caste’ – The origin of the words ‘Varna or Jaati’ can-not be found in one single authoritative text like Bible or Kuran, nor can it be attributed to one single founder, Jesus Christ or Mohammad Sahib. It is the development of thousands of years. to develop with the association of numerous social groups into it at different point of time. It started with the arrival of Aryans hereditary kinship and tribal groups in India in waves, from different parts of the world.

The term Caste was recorded officially in 1840 for the first time by European colonizers, to mean persons belonging to the same hereditary social group. Instead of using ‘Varna or Jati’ separately, they merged both the terms into one. Since then, the meaning and understanding about caste system has been changed drastically.

Caste system, a development of Thousands years Its origin of Caste-system can’t be found in one single authoritative text like Bible or Koran, nor can it be attributed to one single founder like Jesus Christ or Mohammad Sahib. It has taken thousands of years to develop with the association of numerous social groups into it at different point of time.

Different shades and meaning with changing times – Caste system has survived the vicissitudes of time, and saved itself by erosion from within and assault from outside. Credit of its prolonged life goes to its adaptability, flexibility and absorptive nature , which has internalized even the alien influences. It has taken different shades and meaning with the changing times and places. Once changed, it never returned to its original form. 

Wonderful process of assimilation – Wonderful process of assimilation and fusion of different social groups has been a continuous process of the Hindu civilization. It contributed to the cultural richness of Bharat.  All the sects present in India, whether foreign or indigenous, have been influenced greatly by Hindu thinking, caste system, its practices and systems.

Such flexibility is not seen in the West. When Christianity broke away from Judaism, it departed totally from the common cultural traditions.  Therefore, it is very difficult for the Western world to understand and appreciate Indian culture fully.

Different stages of making and evolution of Varna/caste Following are the different stages of the evolution of Varna/caste –

Caste during Ancient period As Basham has pointed out, Caste system may well be called a natural response of many small and primitive groups of people, who were forced to come to terms, with a more advanced economic and social system. Caste system provided a mechanism, by which numerous discrete tribes, all sorts of groups and associations arising for political, sectarian or other reasons could be internalized and preserved within the whole.

Pre-Vedic period – The making of caste system can be traced from the times of pastoral tribal society. Roughly ten millennia ago, people lived  in small migratory groups, living the life-style of wandering “nomadic herdsmen”. These small groups mostly lived in hilly areas, not far from rivers. Tribal communities were nomadic or semi nomadic and egalitarian. They depended on nature for its subsistence.

Settled agricultural society – Then came the period of making of the agricultural societies. People started  cultivating land and settled down Gradually pastoral tribal society transformed into a settled agricultural society, confining its activities and life within a small area or territory. Clans and tribes settled permanently in different parts of the country. As reflected in ‘Rigveda’, during early stages of Vedic Age people ceased to be a wandering people, started a settled life.

Entry of Aryans – Aryans arrived in India in waves at different points of time. Aryans, after entering into India first conquered its original inhabitants of Northern part of India, colonized and established kingdoms, then Deccan and then south. During the period, it was possible to have high ranks, but not high social classes.

Development of structures and systems – Socio-political structures and systems were evolved leisurely over about 2000 years (roughly between 2000 BC to about 600 BC) and kept on coping with the changes slowly, time had brought in. In the beginning people hardly possessed more than what was needed for their subsistence/survival. The practice of cultivation, rise of crafts and iron tools transformed the egalitarian society into fully agricultural and stratified society sometime during 6th century BC.

Initially a simple class division was seen in the social structure, i.e. nobility and the ordinary tribesmen. Slowly, possession of land, slaves and hired laborers started. People started producing and possessing more than they needed. The kings collected their surplus yields.

The power of kings gradually increased. For regular collection, administrative and religious methods were devised. Vedic society is considered as the most advanced civilization in every respect – be it its social structure under “Varna System”, or its Hindu culture or style of governance. Society was relatively egalitarian one. There was no distinct hierarchy of socio-economic classes or castes.

Castes during Vedic Period – Historical time of the origin and slow but steady evolution of Varna system is estimated around 3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE. It was the period of beginning of Indus Valley Civilization.

Initially, Vedic Culture originated and flourished in northern parts of India (on the Indo-Gangetic Plains of the Indian subcontinent) and later on spread throughout India during 1500 BC and 500 BC. It had emerged when migrants groups mixed up with the indigenous people (popularly known as Hindus). Rules of endogamy, ritual purity, interdependence and hierarchical order of social units were the main features of Varna system. Observance of restrictions for self-discipline, clearly defined rights and duties and specialization were its important traits.

Developments happened during this period – This was also the time when numerous Aryan hereditary kinship and migrating tribal groups arrived here in waves, from different parts of the world and mixed up with its  indigenous people.

The assimilation of numerous racial, professional, immigrants, tribal and other groups into Hindu fold gave birth to caste system. Caste system accommodated and bound them into a single cultural system. Each incoming new group was assigned a separate caste name. Hindu religion has neither repulsed any trend vehemently, nor allowed others to sweep its established culture off the roots.Caste during Position of castes during Medieval Period Many changes took place, during these periods, in the caste system. Turks, Afghans and Mughals continuously invaded India. Invasion of Ghazni (998-1030 AD), and others, the establishment of Slave Dynasty (1206-1290), Khilji Dynasty (1290-1320), Tuglak Dynasty (1320-1412 AD) Sayyed Dynasty (1414-51) Lodi Dynasty (1451-1526) and Mughal Empire (1526 to 1757) continuously pressurized Hindu Social system. It resulted in the downfall of Hindu Raj and old Hindus values. Earlier they drained out the wealth of the nation to foreign lands.  But afterwards, they conquered and made India their homeland.    The religious reaction of Hindus to Muslim excesses resulted in rigidity of rituals. During this period Hinduism turned inwards.

Imposition of Zaziya on Hindus and the intolerance of rulers towards their Hindu subjects made it difficult for Hindus to preserve their identity and indigenous culture.  The conscious efforts by them to preserve their values and honour, made the caste rules and rituals stricter and more rigidly applied than before[i]. Many social evils like Sati Pratha; Dowry, Purdah system etc. took birth.

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.

The institution of caste was independent of the government.   It made the Hindu society stable but not static. Decentralized self-regulated systems were the mode in the social, political, and economic life of the country.  The influence of caste system was immense on public minds because:

  • The cultural endowments formed the basis of social status.
  • The ranking was not based on wealth or material gains, but on intellectual and spiritual attainments and on self-discipline.
  • As late as the eighteenth century, the hierarchical order of different castes was not established over large parts of the sub-continent.  The position of Brahmins was at the top and that of Shudras at the bottom, but in between the two, there was an ambiguity about the status of several castes, which was acceptable to all concerned.  This, itself, gave a large element of fluidity in the system.
  • There was a close association of caste with occupation.  As leading sociologists pointed out, in addition to their hereditary occupation, agriculture and army were open to all sections of society. These professions were open and accommodated many groups – indigenous or alien.
  • There was no dearth of employment for aspiring workers.  A substantial labor market existed.  The basic qualification for belonging to any group was mainly the possession of qualifications to do that specific job.
  • Members of any caste group did not exercise monopoly over a profession. It is an established fact of Indian History that Brahmin or even Shudras sometimes became the kings. Khatriyas and Shudra were accepted and revered as philosophers or spiritual teachers.  In order to increase their strength, there were times, when inter caste marriages took place in the past.
  • Upward mobility was possible for different groups.  Agriculture and military service were accessible to anybody.  The recruits in Military came from all strata of society including the lowest in the ritual terms.  There was no discrimination in recruitment and treatment of soldiers of any kind on the basis of caste.  Rajput status was given to soldiers.[Jain Girilal – The Hindu Phenomenon p9, 1994.]
  • Alternative ideologies and styles of life were available in India.[ii] The plurality of society provided automatic checks and balances and controlled the arbitrariness or unbalanced growth of power of any group.  Indian peasantry in UP, Bihar and MP were armed.  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.     Caste system acted as a major force, through which Hindus retained their cultural identity, while living under an alien political order, whether it was Mughal, Portuguese or British.  It was the major force for the failure of Islam, Christianity and other religions to make headway in India even after mass conversion.
  • The local character of caste system, during pre-British period, made close interaction and cooperation between different castes, a reality.  Still they enjoyed a large measure of freedom in respect of their internal customs, rituals and life styles.  All the activities of urban or rural areas were confined within a small area, having very little links with the outside world because of the 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.  All castes, 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. Even untouchables were assigned important social duties. Harijan women helped all castes at the time of child birth, sweepers beat drums in front of Hindu’s houses or in front of a procession at the time of an important ceremony, 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.
  • There was not much disparity between different forward or lower castes.  The tropical climate of the country compelled the people to the distribution of surplus, as it was difficult to store anything for long.
  • 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.[Sriniwas MN,  Times of India, Dated September 9, 1990, p 6.]
  • Teachings of Shri Chaitnya, Nanak, Kabir, Bhakti and Sufi saints gave some breathing space to the rigidity of caste system, which suffocated the society during medieval India.

Pr. Rajni Kothari says comments that till medieval times: –

  • There was a hierarchical social order, through which infinite ambiguities had been at once tolerated and regulated.
  • A multi-cultural framework of governance existed, which had restrained hegemonical and majority’s dominating tendencies.
  • A highly flexible ethics code was there, through which constant and continuing distortions, clash of personalities, major paradoxes in elite behaviors and instances of humiliation, acrimony and hypocritical behaviors in the conduct of public affairs were managed.[Times of India, dated July 28, 1997,  p13.]

Pr. Shah says, The scheme of life practiced in India for more than 2000 years showed a comprehensive and coordinated planning, which has yet to be correspondingly conceived of or similarly attained in any other part of the world.[i]

Hinduism and Caste system during British Imperial ruleEnd of Mughal rule – The downfall of Mughal Empire had started around 1750. That was the time when a British trading Company stared conquering India. The Government of India Act of 1858 brought an end to company’s rule and placed India directly under the Crown. With it ended the era of expansion and commercial exploitation and the nation ushered into the era of economic exploitation and policy of divide and rule. Since then, the meaning and understanding about caste system has been changed drastically.

Ideological Attack on Hinduism and Caste System – British rulers made purposely an ideological attack on Hinduism. They developed a complex in the minds of Indian intellectuals about efficacy of caste system. British rulers portrayed Hinduism as “discriminatory,” “iniquitous,” “exploitative,” “oppressive” “barbarous,” “uncivilized” and “highly stratified”.

Ward alleged “Not only is the caste contrary to every principle of justice and polity, it is repugnant to every feeling of benevolence. The social circle is almost invariably, composed of persons of the same caste, to the careful exclusion of others. It aims one class of men against another; it gives rise to greatest degree of pride and apathy. It forms a sufficient excuse for not doing an act of benevolence towards another, that he is not of the same caste, Ney, a man dying with thirst will not accept a cooling drop of water from the hands or the cup of a person of a lower caste.”

British rulers had intentionally highlighted the weaknesses and suppressed the salient feature of caste as a 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.

The regenerating and degenerative role of British rule – Karl Marx had remarked that British 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, modernization in economic sphere, political unification of the country and laying foundations for many democratic institutions.

The reactionary and destructive character can be seen the way British rulers divided and ruled the country and their adverse effect on the social and economic position of India. System of giving Preferences to certain social groups fanned Communalism and Casteism. They misused the data collected by Census Operations for political reasons. System of holding Elections has led evil practices to like – Vote-bank politics, criminalization of politics and corruption.

Why Western world is mystified – Western world is mystified by amazing pluralities and unique social structure of India based on caste. It is difficult for the western world to understand the role of Hinduism or caste as a system – past or present – in Indian society. Complete localization and unfamiliarity makes it difficult to understand caste as a system in its totality and to know the nuances, the nature, role (both in the past as well as in present) and value of caste as a system. Because –

Conceptualized, originated and practiced exclusively in India – Caste system is a unique way of stratifying the society. It has been conceptualized, originated and practiced exclusively in India. Hinduism and its have given a distinguished identity to Indian society.

Caste not class basis of stratification – While in Western world, usually anthropologists, historians and sociologists identify ‘class’, as universal basis of stratification within a society, Indian society has been stratified socially on the basis of Varna/caste-system.

Power and social status associated with wealth – In materialistic Western societies, wealth has always been associated with power, authority and social status. In India, its Caste system has separated wealth from status, power from authority, pursuit and achievement in knowledge from temptations of worldly comforts. The status of a person or a caste is ranked on the basis of knowledge, discipline and moral standards, and not on the basis of material success, or control of power. Similarly the greatness of a nation is judged by the way government governs the nation, and not on the basis of the size of a state or its treasury.

Stress on duties rather than rights – Whereas, Western cultures have grown around the idea of `rights‘, forming the natural foundation of human relationship, caste system evolves around the concept of “duty, tolerance and sacrifice”. Emphasis on duty usually makes a person or a group humble and tolerant.

No conversion – Unlike Christianity or Islam, Hinduism has made new groups its integral part without any conversion and brought them under one umbrella without annihilating their own faith.

Misuse of Census Data – The knowledge of such diversity of Indian society and multiplicity of castes and sub-castes helped the rulers to instigate caste consciousness, caste animosities and make 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.

Started Practice of “Preferences’ in Education and Government jobs – During the end of 19th century, British rulers started practice of “Preferences” by giving non-Brahmins 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. Later on, it gave birth to the ‘Policy of Reservations’.

Reformists during early 20th Century – Modern education, Western literature and philosophy widened the mental horizons of visionary national leaders and reformers. They welcomed rationality and other good features of and made good use of liberal, and humanitarian ideas/thoughts of Modern Western World. But at the same time destructive nature of new policies alarmed national leaders. National leaders got alarmed at the erosion of Indian Culture and divisible policies of the rulers. They realized the impact of British racial discrimination and their repressive policies on the Indian people.

The destructive character of British imperialism lit the fire and gave birth to national movement. Economic loot, political subjugation, assertion of lordly superiority over the subject on the ground of race, assumption of a haughty exclusiveness, persistent insulting and supercilious behavior towards all Indians, exclusion of Indians from all places of authority and responsibility and denial of their capacity for self-governance united Indians against British rule.

Reformists talked about the greatness of Hindu Vedic culture and about Vedas as the source of all knowledge and truth. Swami Vivekanand founded the Rama Krishna Mission tried to reveal to the world Indian Philosophy and culture. Some reform institutes like Vivekanand’s or Rama Krishna Mission or Theosophical Society of India tried to familiarize the Western World, too, to the charm and graciousness of Indian Culture.

They advised people not to be swayed away by Western culture. First they should know their own heritage and try to revive what is good in it. They gave a call to “Return to Vedas”. He said, “Each nation like each individual has a theme in this life, which is its center, the principle note, around which every other note comes to form the harmony. If any nation attempts to throw off its national vitality the direction which has become its own through the transmission of centuries the nation dies.”

Rational Interpretation of Hindu systems and values – Many intellectuals leaders and reformists did the rational interpretation of Hindu philosophy, values and systems, telling the masses that –
•Knowledge alone is the key to truth.
•Vedas has been conceived through intellectual contemplation and empirical observation and Upnishads (speculative interpretation of Vedas or Mythology) are the creation of human imagination.
•Their rationality is in conformity with the laws of nature.
•No one belongs to any social group because of birth. It is inter-changeable and depends on ones thoughts and deeds.
•True religion does not discriminate mankind in terms of race, colour, nationality, caste or gender.
•The most noble task of every individual is to work for the enlightenment and uplift the weaker persons.
•The markings of Indian culture are simplicity and solidity.

Hinduism and Caste Post Independent India – From 15th of August 1947 onwards, Independent India is committed to democratic, secular and egalitarian principles as enshrined in the Constitution of India. Preamble of the Indian Constitution promises to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.

After Independence, many of the discriminatory practices and deformities developed into the thinking and systems have been brought to an end slowly but steadily. Hinduism or Caste system don’t enjoy legal or religious sanctions.

In social arena, both Hinduism and caste-system have become quite liberal. 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. Expulsion from castes means little, while earlier it meant complete social ostracism.

But ever since mid-sixties, political leaders of modern India have found both Hindu religion and caste as the easiest and most powerful tool to sway public opinion emotionally and to create a larger vote bank for them. In a way, it may be called ossification of both, fallen into the hands of power brokers and vote guzzlers.

Under-currents of power-politics has pushed the real-issues like poverty, unemployment, inflation etc into background. Present Modi government has taken some bold decisions to undo some past mistakes. But single person alone or with the cooperation of a few of his sincere colleagues cannot bring desired results overnight. 

In the present day vote-bank policy, based deeply on the game of numbers, the voice of the backbone of society, the real sincere and honest middle class, is being continuously throttled mercilessly. Being the government of a welfare democratic government, the Authorities talk, think and plans about the social development of lower castes/class or about upper business class for economic reasons.

In a democratic country the presence of a strong opposition party with positive thinking is  important. However, at present there is a near complete absence of an Opposition party, which can keep a check over the arbitrariness of party in power and keep a balance. 

Conclusion –  After analysing the whole picture from beginning till end, it can be said that Hindu way of life along with its caste system das created an atmosphere, where different social groups, castes and communities could live most of the time with peace and harmony. It has inspired all sections of society 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, in order to move up and earn respect of society. Most of the times, the Indian society has been able to develop  an attitude of reconciliation rather than refutation, cooperation rather than confrontation and co-existence rather than mutual annihilation.” (Khan, Democracy in India, pp 4-5)

Linking untouchability with Hindu’s Varna system is unfair. Conquered groups, individuals or groups engaged in unclean occupations, clinging to the practices, which were not considered respectable such as using foul language, persons born illegitimately or the groups involved in anti-social activities were treated as Shudras. In the biginning of 20th century, Shudras were divided into two – Touchable and untouchables for political reasons.

Similarly, Hinduism can not be blamed for the individual’s misery or deprivation. According to it, Adharma” (immoral behavior), “Alasya” (laziness) and Agyan (ignorance) are responsible for all evils, like poverty, unemployment, exploitation and miseries of people. 

Sir John Shore (Sir John Shore, the Governor General of India during the period 1793-1798) had observed that in spite of being their rulers, Hindus regarded Britishers at par with the lowest natives, no matter how strong or powerful were they. Even some Brahmins associated with unclean jobs like, Mahabrahmins performing last rites, have also been treated, more or less like Shudras. There were some instances in the past, when non-Brahmins or Harijans served as priests of temples of goddesses like Sita or Kali, where all castes made offerings. 

It is only a half-truth that Varna system has given the lowest rank to Shudras in social hierarchy, but Hinduism and its caste system have never prevented Shudras or others to rise in the scale of society or to earn respect of the society. In the past, people belonging to lower strata held position of power/superior status or earned respect of Hindu society. Many warrior kings of Shudra and tribal origin sought Brahmins’ help to acquire Kshatriyas status for themselves. Many Shudras were accepted and revered as philosophers or spiritual teachers like .

In ancient India, Lord Rama, a king, ate half-eaten berries of Shabri – an untouchable. Lord Krishna’s foster parents Nand and Yashoda, who in today’s classification would be called OBC, get more respect than his real Kshatriya parents from Hindu society. Vashishtha, the principal of the conservative school of Brahmanism, was the son of Uravshi, a prostitute. Vishwamitra, the maker of the very Gayatri Mantra, the quintessence of the Vedic Brahmanism, was a Kshatriya. Aitreya, after whom the sacramental part of Rig-Veda is named as Aitreya Brahamana, was the son from a non-Aryan wife of a Brahman sage. Vyasa of Mahabharata fame and Balmiki, the original author of Ramayana, both untouchable according to present standards, were not ashamed of his origin and are highly respected persons all over India.

In middle ages, Sant Ravidas, Namdev, Tukaram, Malika, Sunderdas and several other saints, belonging to lower ranks, earned the same respect as any higher caste saint. There had been instances of people of lower ranks becoming kings.

Therefore, it is only to blackmail and incite emotionally the illiterate and ignorant people. Hinduism or caste system are not wholly responsible for Shudra’s isolation, deprivation, exploitation, low social status. They are treated inhumanly by anti-social elements. Their low status in traditional Hindu Society is because of their mannerism and foul language. Now nobody forces anybody to do menial, unsavoury and unclean jobs. Earlier the position was different. Past is past. Now every one has choice in matter of job. It is because of economic reasons and unemployment problem that people, irrespective of caste or creed do menial work. 

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

Then during British rule in India, modernization an industrialization process has made many traditional occupations obsolete or less paying. Some jobs were regarded more hazardous and more time consuming. White collared jobs gained importance and manual work was discredited. People tried their best to escape from menial work.  More, a person withdrew from physical labour, more civilized, honoured and qualified he was regarded by modern society.

The British apathy towards indigenous skills, knowledge and occupations pushed millions of rural artisans, craftsman and small scale farmers, for whom work was essential for survival, backwards in a very subtle manner. It resulted in discrediting many traditional occupations and in destruction of Indian handicrafts and cottage industry. It scattered efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsman, weavers etc.

A few of them joined modern occupations. Majority belonging to different 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. Masses had no option, but to either join band of agricultural laborers, industrial workers, and marginal labor and increase number of poor and unemployed. Outcome of such a change has been casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style, commitment, motivation and culture.

Recently empowerment of backward and untouchable castes has becoming once again a buzz -word in political arena. Poverty is the most pervasive phenomenon, which cuts across all the barriers of caste religion and region. It has been estimated that despite numerous developmental plans, schemes and legislation, including Reservation Policy in higher education and jobs, there are about 500 million Indians are living in squalor.

There are many reasons responsible for their deprivation, agonies and poverty other than caste. Population explosion, illiteracy, unemployment, lack of awareness about opportunities to progress, insufficient wages in unorganized sector, indebtedness, politicization of caste system, obsolete forest and land policies and half-hearted implementation of developmental plans.   

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

It is a humanitarian obligation of any civilized society to bring suitable changes to uplift and empower the submerged sections of society. Generally law follows social changes. But in India, after the Independence, the political leadership in their hurry and enthusiasm, tried to foster social changes through law.  In order age-old imbalances and cumulative disparities of power, wealth and culture, they have started politicization of Caste-system. They tried to integrate the whole country by turning it into a casteless society.

Unfortunately, instead creating a better future, it has generated other complications. Its paternalistic policies for bringing the submerged sections of the society into mainstream and creating a casteless society has not yielded the desired results, because –

  • Thes policies are devised by self-proclaimed leaders and administered by bureaucrats belonging mainly to the elite of urban society,
  • Plans are not rooted in local priorities or skills. The beneficiaries do not choose, design and implements the projects.
  • It has often represented patronage networks of those doling out the money.
  • So far, it has mostly benefitted the rural elite.

Recently, many reformers and religious/spiritual institutions are focussing their attention on community development. Many self-help groups (NGOs) have emerged all-over India. They bypass the government mechanisms and go straight communities.

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

Hinduism and Caste system, not obsolete so far – In-spite of all the accelerated changes in the society due to modernization process and tough times, The roots of Hinduism and  its ‘Varna/jati-Pratha’, now known as caste system, are so deep that it is virtually impossible to think of India without Hinduism and its caste system. Caste-system is inseparably related to Hinduism by traditional customs, values and systems. Hinduism and caste system is going strong in India because it has both religious and social sanction from Hindu society behind it.

Both Hinduism and its caste system have not become weak or obsolete in social arena even today, though during the very long period of its evolution, some evil practices caste system have developed. Many  many ideological attacks were launched on Hinduism and its caste system from time to time.  But so far, both have survived   the vicissitudes of time and saved itself from erosion from within or assault from outside.  Still, both these institutions give present Indian society a distinguished identity and a solid social structure with a system of thought, a way of life, and sense of direction. People should never forget that mostly traditional living is like an anchor, which keeps the boat in safe harbour. Once that the anchor goes, the boat is left at the mercy of wild waves on a stormy ocean.

Winding Up

Hinduism and Caste system, not obsolete so far – In-spite of all the accelerated changes in the society due to modernization process and tough times, The roots of Hinduism and  its ‘Varna/jati-Pratha’, now known as caste system, are so deep that it is virtually impossible to think of India without Hinduism and its caste system. Hinduism and caste system is going strong in India because it has both religious and social sanction from Hindu society behind it.Caste-system is inseparably related to Hinduism by traditional customs, values and systems.

Both Hinduism and its caste system have not become weak or obsolete even today, though during the very long period of its evolution, some evil practices caste system have developed. Many  ideological attacks have been were launched on both from time to time.  But so far, they have survived   the vicissitudes of time and saved itself from erosion from within or assault from outside.  Together these institutions have given Indian society a distinguished identity and a solid social structure with a system of thought, a way of life, and sense of direction.

 Assaults on Hinduism and its caste system – In the past, from time to time, there had been many assaults on Hinduism and its caste system, whenever rigidities and discriminatory practices of society in the name of religion or caste system had suffocated Indian society. After each assault, Hinduism and its caste system re-emerged with greater force. There arose alternative ideologies or styles of life, which gave people breathing space.

Rise of Buddhism in Ancient India, Sufi tradition of Islam and Bhakti movement of Hindus in medieval India (around 10th century), and reform movements of 19th and 20th centuries taught sympathetic attitude towards lesser human beings, brotherly love for each other and fellowship, love and respect all human beings irrespective of caste or creed and rejected practice of elaborate rituals and caste pretensions.

Hinduism along with its Caste system does not owe its exaltation to any outside force.  It had the capacity to look inwardly and correct that by itself.  Rise of Buddhism in Ancient India, of Bhakti movement in mediaeval India and Reform Movement of 19th and first half of the 20th centuries are examples of it.


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

      Basham, Ibid pp181-82.

[iii]           Jain Girilal – The Hindu Phenomenon p9, 1994.

[iv]           Bayly CA., New Cambridge history of India Vol.II, 1988.

[v]             Sriniwas MN,  Times of India, Dated September 9, 1990, p 6.

[vi]     Times of India, dated July 28, 1997,  p13.

[vii]          Times of India, dated April 10, 1994, p3.

[viii]          Basham, Ibid  p152.

 


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

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

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October 25, 2019 Posted by | General, Social and political values and systems | | Leave a comment

Electoral politics without principles is a sin

Electoral Politics without Principle is a sin

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

“Solve the problem, or leave the problem. Do not live with it.” Lord Budhha

Introduction – Democracy is the “government of the people, for the people and by the people.’ Modern representative democratic system has operated since the 17th century, Free and fair elections at frequent intervals is the life-line of any democratic government. Election is a formal group decision-making process or the usual mechanism, by which a people choose their representatives to hold public office.

Through free and fair electoral process, people formally delegate them the authority to form a government and  look after the welfare of the people, and development of the society and nation as a whole. Election process is also used in many other private and business organizations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations.

Many democratic policies and systems were introduced in Modern India  by British Imperial rulers in the beginning of 20th century like Elections at frequent intervals and Census Operations. In an effort to know about the people, whom they wanted to rule, throughout second half of the Nineteenth Century, British anthropologists worked hard to collect data and to catalogue various social groups and tribes living in India. For the first time, the data so collected drew the attention of the rulers, intelligentsia and public to the diversity of Indian society and multiplicity of social groups, sub-groups and sub-sub groups throughout India.

The way, British rulers implemented these policies of great scope, was in their own self-interest. They had exploited the gathered information, used material relating to social, demographic, linguistics, religious and cultural diversities of India for ‘divide and rule’ purpose very diplomatically. Then the system of elections had led to cut-throat competition for scarce positions of power and prestige under British Raj.  Government of India Act of 1909, popularly known as Minto Morley Reforms Minto-Morley Reforms, divided the population into two uncompromising communal groups. It also brought forefront the idea in the minds of other castes and communities to demand separate electorate for them as well. This way, electoral politics further divided Indian society into Brahmins, Non Brahmins, untouchables etc.         It had given rise to electoral politics based on the “Power in numbers”.                                                                                Granting of by known as, brought the idea of communal electorate to the forefront which le Electoral process gave political leverage to castes and communities on the basis of their numerical strength.

Principles of separation of power and checks and balances – A Democratic nation works on the principle of defining with clarity the role of different organs of the government, be it Legislature, Executive, Judiciary, and Bureaucracy or even regional and local government.

Most of the elected representatives of the people in legislatures are supposed to legislate, lay down policies, and monitor its implementation. Executive is there to supervise the bureaucracy to execute its plans and policies, Opposition parties role is to criticize the wrong decisions/actions of party in power. Each one keeps a control on the arbitrariness of others.  If each one does its job properly, there won’t be much problem.

To strengthen democracy is needed a civil society. However, these days neither the system, nor politicians nor the people are not fully prepared or trained to make governance in a Democratic a success. That is why Churchill has once described Democracy as “the worst of all systems”. The major problem with

Recently, a trend has developed that politicians join politics and fight elections not to serve the national interests and the people of the nation. They do so just to enter into the corridor of power. They do not hesitate to resort to unethical practices to create or enhance their vote-banks. They do the right things only after they have exhausted all the alternatives.

Most of the times, they woo voters by making false promises. They try to divide the electorate into numerous watertight compartments on the basis of their diverse identities and interests. The purpose behind it to create and enhance their vote-banks. They appease different section/sections of society by assuring them that if they win the elections they will give priority to specific interests of theirs over everything, be it over national interests and welfare of the society as a whole.    

Vote-bank politics removes the focus/attention of political leaders and their parties from real issues. They are neither able to diagnose the disease (real issues) properly and treat the patient honestly.   to cure the disease. Quite often their self-interest prevents them to find out required solutions to treat the disease properly or to set objectives, plans and policies to deal with real issues or work on it sincerely and honestly. 

Such an attitude of political leaders with vested interests leads the nation towards slow development.. How can the disease of maladministration be cured, if elections are neither free and fair nor fought on fair principles. Many politicians’ fight  election just to gain political power by hook or crook, and control the destiny of millions of people in their own interest  or the interests of their followers.

Vote-bank politics tend them not focus their attention on real issues. Their failure to diagnose the disease properly and do sincere efforts to cure it. They are neither able to treat the disease (real issues) nor the patient (development of the nation). How can the disease of maladministration be cured, if elections are not fought with fair objectives. Many politicians’ fight  election just to gain political power by hook or crook, and control the destiny of millions of people in their own interest  or the interests of their followers.

Vote-bank politics tend them not focus their attention on real issues. Their failure to diagnose the disease properly and do sincere efforts to cure it. They are neither able to treat the disease (real issues) nor the patient (development of the nation). How can the disease of maladministration be cured, if elections are not fought with fair objectives. Many politicians’ fight  election just to gain political power by hook or crook, and control the destiny of millions of people in their own interest  or the interests of their followers.

Vote-bank politics tend them not focus their attention on real issues. Their failure to diagnose the disease properly and do sincere efforts to cure it. They are neither able to treat the disease (real issues) nor the patient (development of the nation). How can the disease of maladministration be cured, if elections are not fought with fair objectives. Many politicians’ fight  election just to gain political power by hook or crook, and control the destiny of millions of people in their own interest  or the interests of their followers.

Both the politicians and people have become quite insensitive to dissent views. People to have become quite intolerant. They do not have much faith in the way elections are conducted. They do not have much choice in selecting their representatives. It is the job of the rival political parties and their representatives to select the candidates and woo the voters to vote for their prospective candidates. In such a situation how can function  efficiently and effectively in a democratic state?

India’s experiment on Democracy and electoral politics

Many democratic policies and systems were introduced in Modern India  by British Imperial rulers in the beginning of 20th century like Elections at frequent intervals and Census Operations. In an effort to know about the people, whom they wanted to rule, throughout second half of the Nineteenth Century, British anthropologists worked hard to collect data and to catalogue various social groups and tribes living in India. For the first time, the data so collected drew the attention of the rulers, intelligentsia and public to the diversity of Indian society and multiplicity of social groups, sub-groups and sub-sub groups throughout India.

British rulers implemented these democratic processes of great scope for their own self-interest. They had exploited the gathered information, used material relating to social, demographic, linguistics, religious and cultural diversities of India for ‘divide and rule’ purpose very diplomatically. The way the system of elections was implemented, it led to cut-throat competition, between different social groups, to get access to scarce elective positions of power and prestige under British Raj. 

Government of India Act of 1909, popularly known as Minto Morley Reforms Minto-Morley Reforms, divided the population into two uncompromising communal groups. It also brought the idea of communal electorate to the fore front. This way, electoral politics had further divided Indian society into Brahmins, Non Brahmins, untouchables etc. It came into their minds that Electoral process could give political leverage to them on the basis of their numerical strength. They also started demanding separate electorate for them as well. And thus electoral politics based on the “Power in numbers” has started in India, which is still continuing.

India got Independence from British rule in 1947. It chose the most difficult form of government, i.e. democracy. 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. 

In 1950, Election Commission 0f India (ECI) was constituted. Its Head Quarters is at New Delhi, the capital of the nation. It is permanent Independent constitutional body. It owns responsibility of superintendence, direction and control the entire process of elections. It conducts elections of Parliament, legislatures at sate level or Union Territories or election to the offices of President and Vice-President. It decides the election schedules for the conduct of elections, be it general elections or bye-elections.

Election Commission has powers to prepare, maintain and periodically update the electoral rolls and supervise the nomination of candidates. It registers political parties and monitors the election campaigns including funding and expenditure of candidates. After the elections, it has conducted 17 general elections of the Lok Sabha and about 370 general elections of State Legislatures.

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]

Factors that led to electoral-politics in India – The game of electoral politics has been started in India long ago, in the beginning of the 20th century, with the start  of democratic process through general elections,

·       Importance of numbers in elections –  The introduction of electoral politics, in the beginning of the 20th century gave rise to the idea of importance and Power in numbers in a democracy. Initially it gave political leverage to the non-Brahmin castes in Southern states of India on account of their numerical strength. And then, influence of non-Brahmins has been growing continuously in politics all-over India. 

While introducing elections in India, the British very diplomatically divided the Hindu population into two uncompromising groups viz. `We the Non-Brahmins and `They the Brahmins and caste Hindus. They instilled deeply in the minds of millions of unlettered Hindus, venom against each other.

Leverage to Non-Brahmins in politics – Power of numbers in elections gave political leverage to the non-Brahmin castes on account of their numerical strength.  Earlier non-Brahmin movements had economic and social thrusts demanding education and land for backwards and freedom from caste rigidities. Later, it resisted the hold of Brahmins in the spheres of education and jobs in government. Non-Brahmins’ demand for a share in modern callings was quickly recognized by the British. They acquired considerable amount of political clout, in early 20th century, with the introduction of electoral politics. Since then, their influence in politics has grown enormously.

·       Census operation – Census operations had been started with a purpose to gather information about social, demographic, linguistics, religious and cultural diversities of India. It was later on exploited by imperial rulers.

After consolidating their 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 labelled 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. 

·       Introduction of Modern education system – British imperialists used modern education system to create differences between different castes and communities.

During British rule Modern education system was started in1834-35. On one hand, Indian 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.

On the other hand, the rulers Discrediting Indian values and systems. Through introduction of modern education, British rulers tried  to develop a complex in Indian minds about their heritage and social 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.

The rulers forcefully implanted in the minds of people, the real and imaginary, evils of 5practices.  The European teachers, missionaries, bureaucrats and British easily put all the blame on Social-structure of India for masses poverty, misery,  deprivation and exploitation

·       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.

·       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.                                                                                            The new classification of Indian society has 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.)

Preparation of grounds for electoral-politics – Various communities feared that Hindu majority government would dominate them. 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.

Conclusion – 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 sectional 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.

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

September 11, 2019 Posted by | General | | Leave a comment

Politics without Principles

Unprincipled Politics – Sheer opportunism and valueless power politics have gradually taken over the place of principles and idealism after the independence.  The present-day political leaders have become very practical. They place themselves above the law of the nation. Law or no law, for them, political expediency is the most important thing in the world.

Criminalization of Politics – Many political leaders are closely associated with goons. They pamper anti-social elements, which openly practice terror politics.  Many high profile politicians are themselves history-sheeters/involved in criminal activities.  The number of history sheeters is continuously increasing in local politics, legislatures and parliament.

Observation of a Judge – Judge Dhingra observed in former Union Minister Kalp Nath Rai’s case in March 1977  … The nexus between terrorists, criminals and politicians is not a figment of imagination of this court, but a reality to be reckoned with. The terror in the minds of people is so much that no one dares to stand witness against them…. While the leading effect of terrorism is fear and alarm, it is employed to accomplish a variety of objectives like land grabbing, grabbing political power and creating an atmosphere of terror in the state machinery… Terrorists have developed pockets of influence among powerful persons and various state departments.  This leads to their escape from the clutches of law very often…. Weak criminal justice and police system in India has made the country an ideal playground for them. It has been amplified in Vohra Report, when he said that they run a parallel government in many parts of the country. 

Criminalisation combined with corruption – Criminalisation combined with corruption has made a common man’s life more miserable.  There is corruption at all levels and in all spheres.  In an ever-increasing atmosphere of indiscipline, politicization and criminalisation, upright and honest officers find the atmosphere suffocating. 

Sub-servient bureaucrats – Many bureaucrats prefer to become a servile tool in the hands of ruling politicians.  The result is erosion of rule of law, misuse of governmental machinery, misappropriation of public funds. Some of the direct consequences of such situation are – scams and scandals.  It might be recollected that newspapers reported scams totaling to Rs. 10,200 crores, involving seven major scams, which came to light between 1992 and 1996.

Luxurious life-style – Many politicians shed crocodile tears over the agonies of poor people. They preach sacrifice, austerity etc. to the public at large, but they themselves lead a luxurious life at the cost of taxpayers/public money.  There was a time, when leaders like Gandhiji, practiced what they preached. They possessed a sense of responsibility and mission and, therefore, they had an impact on the people’s psyche. 

Disgusted public – The naked pursuit of power has made the present day politicians insensitive to the needs and feelings of the public.  Events, after 1990’s, have not only exposed politician’s true intentions. Public now understands about political manipulations and false promises made pre or post elections. It has increased the distance between political leaders and the common-man.  People are utterly disgusted with the politicians and their doings. 

Unholy alliances between political parties before or after elections (Coalition Governments) – The fragmented verdict after the general elections of 1990, the trend of forming a coalition government, or a government with outside support at national level has started. It has led to instability, non-performing, weak government, without much sense of responsibility. For any unpopular/unsuccessful plan or policy, blame game starts. Each political party blames the other for taking up wrong policy decisions. It has posed a new challenge – the challenge of forming stable government, either at national or at state level.

In 1996 general elections, that there was an anti-congress mandate.  But in order to wield the power, the United Front Government took the support of Congress party despite the verdict of people against it. Congress had remained a powerful force as a king-maker till the United Front Government lasted.

More importance to Sectional interests than national interests – Today, India is in an age of unprecedented social turmoil.  There is a highly westernized urban elite, upwardly mobile middle class and an alienated underclass, which can easily be manipulated.  During last fifty years, many sections of society, which were earlier interdependent, or submerged socially and politically, have emerged in political arena. They have now established their separate political identities and have become powerful vehicles for insisting or pushing forward sectoral demands and brushing aside the national interests. 

Politicization of Caste – Capture of political, administrative and technical decision-making power and to secure more space in the power echelons have become a matter of crucial importance for all the newly emerged competing social and economic groups, everyone seeking a bigger share of the spoil in one way or the other. At present, caste is the single most important factor in politics.

In order to gain public support, leaders of different political parties depend more on passions than principles, be it castiest, religious or otherwise.    It has become one of the big challenges before the authority to reconcile the claims of growth with the claims of equity. The tendency has completely polarized the peoples’ opinion, divided them into numerous unbridgeable compartments. It led to the mushroom growth of self-proclaimed messiahs and emergence of numerous pressure groups pursuing sectoral interests and sharpening communal and castiest divide.  A few groups with numerical strength have become very vocal and assertive. Political authorities fear to annoy them and, therefore, concede to their demands openly or discreetly, while in power.  Of late, Dalits, backwards and Muslims are being wooed with vigor by all the political parties.  Naxalite groups find in Dalits the allies, as most of their action squads are formed of Harijans.  Widespread discontent among the people, due to the non-performance and half hearted measures taken by the successive governments to deal with their genuine problems, have turned them anti-establishment and increased violence. The organised intolerance of some groups, which are over conscious of their racial, regional, cultural and religious identities and feel to be threatened by others, has grown out of proportions, perpetuating agitation and violence. It has threatened the unity of nation. All these developments have made political situation so fluid, that no political party is in a position to gain an absolute majority since 1990.  Therefore, it is one of the important challenges for the government to hold the huge and diverse masses of India together.

Disillusioned Public  – Today a common man has become so inured that any amount of harassment, violence of human dignity and human rights, bloodshed, caste-wars, carnage, riots, corruption, scams or scandals hardly fazes him anymore.  One feels secure, until not affected personally. The growth of literacy and awareness, trend in consumerism, increasing consciousness of their rights to the determent of the duties, responsibilities attached with each right and the tall promises by politicians have already aroused the expectations of the people. There is a wide gap between the expectations and opportunities to fulfill them.  Therefore, there is frustration, venom against each other, agitation and violence, which threatens to shake the system and its structures.  The assertiveness of Dalits and intolerance of backward castes, especially after the Mandalisation of politics, quite often lead to caste-wars.  The development of the nation demands a sense of social responsibility in the masses, and need to sensitize the authorities about the real needs of the masses.

Like Four Blind Men and the Elephant, the authorities perceive and project disparate parts of nations psyche. They do not represent it as a whole. By playing on the superficial needs of the populace, the authorities are unable to grasp and analyze the real issues and challenges.   The result is persistent backwardness and endemic instability.  The cure to this disease can be obtained only after correctly diagnosing it. The power-seekers do their best to divert the mob-attention from the real issues to the abstract ones like Equity, Secularism, Social Justice etc., which instead of bringing prosperity to the people, have bred in them intolerance, inflexibility, narrowness, unadulterated materialism, the feeling of otherness/ estrangement in the society. At present, unrelenting greed of some for power, money and comforts has generated greater injustice, immorality and wretchedness. India has everything a nation needs for development – tremendous amount of skilled and unskilled manpower, all kinds of raw materials, a good legal system, a huge market and potential to export virtually everything, provided the cost of its inputs are kept at international levels.  Only the government has to address itself to the real basic issues, not the peripheral, or abstract ones, which makes people pit emotional venom against each other.  It has to get rid of its internal contradictions – between prosperity and poverty, between plenty of resource endowments and the scarcity of their management, between its culture of peace and tolerance and its conduct sliding towards violence, intolerance and discrimination.  In India, the greatest threat to development has come not so much from economic deficiency, but from disunity arising out of religious, castiest, racial, tribal or political dissension. The principles and practices, which could have reconciled the diverse interests, instincts and aspirations of the people, have been ignored, repressed or distorted for the sake of political expediency.  Poverty, illiteracy, ill health, corruption and criminality have kept the masses in bondage.  Sheer opportunism and valueless politics have taken over the place of principles and idealism.  Today the nation demands, above all, the unity, hard work, discipline, dedication and determination of all its people for its sustainable development.

In short what the country needs is

  • Infra-structure -water,sanitation, electricity, public transport.
  • Quality health facilities.
  • Sound system of education an traing
  • Urban employment guarantee
  • Transparency in government dealings.
  • No discrimination
  • Equal special benefits for all deprived individuals irrespective of caste or creed.
  • Revitalizing measures for agriculture and rural economy
  • Boost for womens’ economic participation
  • More representation of women and youth in political system.
  • Speedier justice
  • Special cell against discrimination on social religious grounds
  • Complete control on religious extremism and terrorism.
  • Global responsibility.

September 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nation State

Before going into details of good governance, it is necessary to know what does  ‘a Nation State’ and ‘Government’ and ‘Government Civil Services’ mean? 

Concept of ‘Nation State?’ –The idea of a ‘nation state’ is not very old. For medieval scholars, present concept of nation was different. For them, government ruled by the consent of the people rather than by Holy mandate was perhaps unthinkable.  

The concept  of ‘Nation state’ in its present sense is more or less a nineteenth century concept. At present, the notion of a ‘nation state’ is different from the earlier idea of ‘city state’, ‘multi-national state’, ‘empire’, ‘confederation’ or other state forms. Today idea of ‘nation state’ is associated with the rise of modern sovereign state, where its own government administers within its specific territorial area. It works for the unity and social, economic, political and cultural development of all its people living in that area. The ultimate aim of government is to help common men live a peaceful, safe and secure life. Today, however, this simple and powerful truth is too often forgotten.

Emergence of the concept of Welfare and Developmental administration ties – Earlier, till nineteenth Century, the main tasks of the government used to be maintenance of law and order and revenue collection. French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, or Industrial Revolution had changed the scenario. It had a great impact on contemporary developments,especially in widening the scope of State activities. Poverty and misery, which were earlier accepted as the lot of masses, are no longer regarded as inevitable. In the post Second World war period, almost all the newly emerged nations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and parts of Europe, added Welfare and Developmental activities in their agenda.

September 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Population Explosion and unbalanced population growth

“Har taraf, har jagah beshumaar aadmi, Phir bhi tanhaiyan ka shikar aadmi”  Nida Fazil

“Population explosion in the country will create various problems for the coming generations. Those who follow the policy of small family also contribute to the development of the nation, it is also a form of patriotism. There is a need of social awareness in the country,” says PM Modi during his speech on the occasion of 73rd Independence day

Introduction – India is a developing country, desires to move fast towards progress. the second most populous nation in the world. China being on the top.  However, unchecked population explosion has neutralized all its developmental activities, efforts done so far for its economic, social and infrastructural development.

Big strain on already loaded system – Unchecked population explosion has put severe strain on the already over loaded system. It has aggravated many problems in almost all the spheres, like poverty, low per capita income, food availability, pressure on land, burden on education, medical care, housing, unemployment, underemployment, rapid depletion of natural resources and environment. It has prolonged poverty and misery of millions of people.

 Question purely of ‘Demand and Supply ‘- There is constant pressure on infrastructure and civic services. Electricity and water-supply, sewage and drainage systems are not able to meet the growing demands. Population explosion has aggravated many problems such as poverty, low per capita income, food availability, pressure on land, burden on education, medical care, housing, unemployment, underemployment, rapid depletion of natural resources, etc.

Attention diverted from solving the basic issues to grab political power – One of the reason for failure to check population growth is that in electoral politics numerical strength of a section of society assumes great importance. Realising the worth of family planning, educated persons have started having small families. However, the population of illiterate, ignorant and superstitious masses is continuously increasing. They do not have much faith in following family planning measures. For them, more the number, better it is.

More stress on empowerment rather than on enlightenment – In the present atmosphere of power-politics, the focus of both, the people and government authorities is on empowerment and not on enlightenment. The whole history of twentieth century is full of the concerns and efforts to uplift the underclass or to benefit marginalized sections of society.  The main issue after the independence was that of ‘Roti (enough food for everyone), Kapda (clothes) aur Makaan (place to live) ‘.

The fight started for land, better medical facilities, food, employment/jobs, education and other opportunities to ensure security, progress and social status. Later on the fight has moved from the margins to center stage of politics and aimed to provide them a wider base in the power structure of a nation.

Family planning plans already being initiated since 1050, but with no result – The government has initiated a number of well-meaning projects and programs to control the population explosion. However, they could not succeed to yield the desired results. Realizing an urgent need to control the population, the Indian Government launched Family Planning Programs right through its first five-year Plan (1951`-56).  However, the population of India has continuously grown, un-checked. It could not get any success on this issue. Countries like Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea etc. which took inspiration from India and started similar programs, much later than India, have already stabilized their population growth.

Population growth responsible for changing demographic balance – The rapid population growth has changed the demographic balance. A huge social churning is going on the margins of the society. It is leading to distress migration within country as well as abroad.

Formation of Pressure groups to pursue sectional interests – During 20thbcentury many pressure groups have emerged all over India to put pressure on government to accept their demands/proposals. Some caste-groups have become very powerful either on the basis of their numerical strength or networking with other castes living in other villages and towns. Most of them are listed officially under the category of SC (Scheduled Castes), ST (Scheduled tribes), OBC (Other Backward Castes} or Non-SC/ST/OBC upper castes.

Negligible population growth till 1921 – The year 1921 is referred to as the year of the great divide. Before 1921, the population growth was almost negligible and balanced, because of high death rate due to lack of medical facilities, famines, epidemics and other natural calamities.  However, after 1921, there has been a rapid increase in population due to developed medical science, relatively slow death rate, immigration and control over natural calamities. The trends in population growth can be seen from the table given below: –

Population Growth rate since 1921

Year Period Population in Millions Birth rate Death rate Average Growth rate  
1901 240.0
1921 1911-21 259.9 49.0 49.0 0.30
1951 1941-51 361.1 47.0 37.0 1.26
1961 1951-61 439.2 44.0 26.0 1.98
1971 1961-71 548.2 42.0 20.0 2.20
1981 1971-81 683.3 31.0 15.0 2.25
1991 1981-89 844.3 30.9 10.2 2.11

Over last two decades Indian population has grown enormously. In 2001 India’s population was 102.9 crore, in 2004 108 crore, in 2009 116 crore and expected to be 124 crore by 2020. (Source: Census Reports of respective years)

Unbalanced population growth in addition to rapid population Growth – The present problem is not only of rapid population growth, but also of an unbalanced population growth. Level of education and income has a definite impact on population growth. There seems to be a correlation between the birth rate and literacy. Higher the levels of education lower the birth rate and vice verse. The population growth has been contained amongst educated class. But the number of poor, illiterate and unproductive hands is continuously increasing.

Trend of increase in the numerical strength of SC/ST and OBC population – It is observed that over decades population of SCs, STs and OBCs has been continuously growing. There appears to be no reason for them to control their population. The protective policies, preferences and allowances under various Welfare Schemes seem to work as incentive for not adopting  family planning measures. Rather they are encouraged to increase their numerical strength for increasing their influence and role in electoral politics.

According to 1991 Census, while the total population in the country, excluding Assam and J&K, grew by 23.79%, it was 30.90% in the case of SC, 25.67% in the case of ST and 22.11% in the case of non-SCT.

Region-wise growth of different sections of society – Region-wise, highest growth rate has been recorded by SC population in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya Mizoram, Orissa and W Bengal. This is followed by ST, followed by Non SC/ST population. In Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tripura, Dadar and Nagar Haveli, ST population followed by SC, followed by NON SC/ST population has recorded highest growth rate. In Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu and Daman and Diu, the growth rate is highest among SC population, followed by Non SC/ST, followed by ST population. In Kerala, highest growth rate is among ST population followed by Non SC/ST and then SC population. In Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar and UP the growth rate is highest among Non SC/ST followed by SC and then ST population. The Non – SC/ST growth rate in most populous states like UP and Bihar appears to be mainly due to rapid rise in the population of OBC people.

Data on Non SC/ST and OBCs Population – Though, as per government’s census policy, no published data is available about Backward Class’s population growth, the 1951 Census authorities gave to the First Backward Class Commission, two sets of figures in respect of Backward class population. These were 678.39 lakhs (18.9%) and the other estimated at 20.5% of the total population. In 1956, the Commission raised it to 1135.10 lakhs (31.8%). The Mandal Commission, in 1980, further raised it to 52%. The increase in its number is both due to inclusion of additional castes in the backward list as also due to increase in the birth rate among them. The unbalanced growth is more pronounced in the case of Muslims. The 1991 census reports an increase from 11% in 1951 to 13% in 1990, in respect of Muslim population.

The growth of Muslims is higher than any other religious group. The recorded growth in Muslim population shows an increase of 32.78% as against 22.78% in the Hindu population. This increase is again due to increase in birth rate as well as migration.

Close relation between women literacy and population growth – Women literacy has led to lower birth rate as well as lower infant mortality rate. For example, in Kerala, having cent percent literacy, the birth rate is much lower than UP, Bihar or Rajasthan, where the literacy rate is lower, and the population of agrarian community and poor people is increasing unchecked. They suffer from illiteracy, superstitions, desire of male child, high mortality rate among children, or lack of awareness. They do not consider children as a problem, but an asset and insurance for old age.

Conclusion – As far as population explosion is concerned, it is putting tremendous pressure on limited natural resources of the nation like land, water, forest etc, on infra-structure of the nation like means of transport, hospitals, educational institutions etc. In addition to it, uncontrolled population growth aggravates the problem of unemployment. And affects adversely law and order position within the country it increases the number of different kinds of crimes. Government alone can not the problems of uncontrolled population growth. It needs the full cooperation of people themselves.

Though percent-wise, unbalanced growth of various sections does not seem much percentwise, but in absolute number, it is alarming. Tough competition between different sections for growth has created a gulf between different sections of society, each one pursuing its sectional interests. It gives rise to new equations in power echelons. The wider the gulf, larger the problem for the Government The welfare schemes for such a large population puts an extra economic burden on government.

The problem can not be sorted out by coercive methods. Literacy helps in bringing down fertility substantially among all the sections. People especially poor and marginalized should be encouraged to have a small but happy and healthy family by choice. Attention needs to be paid the problems like high numbers of maternal and infant deaths, by improving the quality of health services, meeting un-met needs of family planning services and linking population programmes with reasonable incentives as well as disincentives for having a large family.

August 17, 2019 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

Concept of a Nation State

Introduction – The concept of a nation state is not very old. Nation state, in its present sense. is more or less a nineteenth century phenomenon. The theory of state was developed in the 19th century.  In 1815, at the Congress Of Vienna the Final Act recognised only 39 sovereign states in the European diplomatic system. Earlier there used to be City State, or small or big states Princely States. The role of the ruler used to be different from that of modern of Multi-national states, Empires, Confederation or other state forms.

Power to Govern The source of power has kept on changing with passage of time. Earlier, during the times of city-states, there used to be small independent (sovereign) citystates/countries,, It usually consisted of a single city and its dependent territories. The power to govern was in the hands of physically strong persons, i.e. warriors. With the start of Industrial era, wealth took over the place of muscle power as a source of power. And in modern times, knowledge has become one of the major source of power. Creation of more wealth and control over muscle power depend to a large extent on knowledge, exchange of data and information. More the Knowledge, more strong/advanced is a nation in present day in modern global society.

Tasks of the government of a Nation state – What is a nation state? – Idea of nation state is associated with the rise of modern sovereign state, in which its government governs its specific territorial area for the unity, social, economic and cultural development of the people living in that area. According to Shaw, Malcolm Nathan, p. 178. Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention  on Rights and Duties of States, 1, Published by Cambridge University Press, 2003) lays down the most widely accepted formulation of the criteria of statehood. A state possesses the following qualifications: ‘(a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with other states’

Tasks of a Nation State – Of all the acts of civilized society, the role of the government of Nation State is perhaps the most complex one. It has to deal with living human beings, prone to unpredictable behaviour. It deals with the issues – political, economic or social, which directly affects day to day life of its people.

The role of the Governing Authority of a city state changed with the emergence of the concept of nation state. Earlier during the times of city states of ancient agricultural societies, the task of the ruling authority was not so difficult. Expansion of territory along with the process of modernization and new inventions in the field of transportation gave rise to the idea of Nation State.

and protection of its people from foreign invasions, controlling internal disturbances and collecting revenue were the main tasks of a government. †††††

The concept of “Laissez-faire” – With the rise of the concept of nation state all over the world, the principle of Laissez-faire was followed by the governments..  It began with Adam Smiths’ “The wealth of nations”. Laissezfaire is a French meaning “allow to do”. The British economist John Stuart Mill was responsible for bringing this philosophy into popular economic usage in his Principles of Political Economy (1848).

The principle of Laissez faire was the guiding principle of governance throughout the 19th century. Policy of minimum governmental interference in the economic affairs of individuals and society was its motto. The government’s main tasks were only to maintain law and order and collect revenue. The philosophy’s popularity reached its peak around 1870.

The policy of laissezfaire received strong support in classical economics as it developed in Great Britain under the influence of economist and philosopher Adam Smith. It led some nations through success after success in the economic field. USA became world’s largest economy. Australia achieved one of the highest per capita income rate. Many European States emerged as great imperial powers.

Some inherent weaknesses of capitalist system and mass awakening had turned the world opinion in favour of socialism. It turned many countries to totalitarian regimes. In the late 19th century the acute changes caused by industrial growth and the adoption of mass-production techniques proved the laissez-faire doctrine insufficient as a guiding philosophy. 

Eighteen Seventy three (1873) marked the decline of laissez-faire concept. It ended with the crash of Vienna Stock market. The early 1870s, several Banks in Europe collapsed, which led to the crash of the Vienna Stock Exchange. It was the beginning of an economic crisis, the Great Depression, which lasted until 1896. The crisis affected central Europe and later the United States. The Panic of 1873 triggered an economic depression in Europe (Paris, London, Frankfurt) and New York that lasted from 1873 until 1877, and even longer in France and Britain. In the United States the Panic was known as the “Great Depression” until the events of the early 1930s set a new standard.

With the process of modernization, industrialization, emergence of new techniques in war equipment, new inventions in the field science and technology in the sphere of transport, communication, there emerged a new era. Now the governments of modern nation states are involved in multifarious activities, like –

  • Control functions,
  • Service functions,
  • Technical functions like Building up Infra-structure for country, and
  • Research and Development in various areas for a better future of its citizens, and
  • Protect the nation from internal as well as external aggression.

Control functions – Control functions deals with maintenance of law and order within the country. Normally administrators, intelligence services, and revenue services perform the control functions. They are responsible for decision-making and monitoring activities of the government.

Service functions – To provide services to public at large, there are some non-technical professionals as well as technical services like various Railways, Post and Telegraph etc, which provide services to the public at large.

Technical functions – The responsibility of building up permanent infra-structure for the sustainable development of the nation falls on the shoulders of technocrats.

Research and Development functions – Modern world has set up research goals for the development of national governments in areas like economic growth, environment protection, Good Health and Well-Being, behavioural science, Quality Education, and developing new monitoring techniques.

Protection from internal or external aggression – It is the responsibility of every nation to protect its citizens and the nation from terror activities with the help of its armed forces.

Turning points, rise of the concept of Welfare State – Peter F Drucker says that in 1873, the world moved away from the dominant political concept of “Laissez-faire” to “Welfare State”. The crash of Vienna Stock market had changed the course of politics and led to the rise of welfare state and its immense power.

World War-I was the turning point. The first one to opt for totalitarian regime was Soviet Russia. Italy became a fascist nation and Nazism grew in Germany. War made every democratic government to play the role of a guardian, as far as its economy was concerned. Government assumed the responsibility of protecting its citizens from the shocks of every day life.

By the World War-II, socio-economic justice was the idea that swept the entire world. At that time, it was not only a political or economic ideology, but also a radical philosophical alternative, which assured to create a new integrated, casteless, classless egalitarian society, free of discrimination and inequality. It was supposed to destroy all inequalities of race, sex, power, position or wealth and to distribute equitably social, material and political resources of the nation. It meant to place in full or in parts means of production and distribution under State’s ownership or control, as against private ownership and free enterprise. It believed in planned development for removing poverty and leading the nation to prosperity.

Concept of Welfare State – French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, Industrial Revolution and Contemporary developments had a great impact in widening the scope of State activities. Poverty and misery, which were earlier accepted as the lot of masses, are no longer regarded as inevitable. Millions of people started demanding, with persisting insistence, better standard of living, better housing, better education and better medical facilities. The masses started wishing that they themselves should be benefited a much as possible, from the resources of their nation. The desire of public to go forward quickly and to establish a new economic order, in which common people could have better deal, gave rise to the concept of `Welfare State’ and Developmental Administration.

Tasks of a welfare state Government – In a welfare state the government assumes the responsibility of its citizens from `womb to tomb’. It aims at improving the quality of life of its masses. It tries to bring about `social, political and economic justice’. The main aim of initiating and nurturing this concept is to bring about betterment to the lots of weaker section of society by building up a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy. It aims at the upliftment of poor, the provision of basic necessities to all irrespective of their caste or creed, the voluntary abdication of riches and power – that these riches brings and establishment of a productive, vigorous and creative political and social life. In short its objective is a massive attack on five major evils of society – want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.

The welfare concept, national reconstruction and development, has no utility in itself unless it is translated into action. Developmental activities can be successfully comprehended, when government is able to assess properly what is attainable, what is practical and how to formulate plans and policies.

“Rob Peter and give to Paul – Critics say that n most of the developing and under-developed nations, in the name of democracy, the Government has assumed enormous powers to govern its people in any manner it likes. To achieve quick results, democratic governments of welfare states usually adopts the policies of ‘Appeasement’ and “Patronization”, which are basically based on the practice of “Rob Peter and give to Paul”.

 It is a humanitarian obligation for the government of a welfare state to think about its weaker sections and plan for their uplift. But at the same time, the Government should not put a full stop on the progress of advanced sections of the society. It needs to pay equal attention to the elite sections of society, too, by boosting their initiative, courage, intelligence and talent, so that the nation could compete confidently with developed nations of the world. Any attempt to reverse the position of elite class of the society would not be proved beneficial for the whole society, because it is the cream of the society which has the vision, knowledge and awareness to find out alternative routes to progress.

The next turning point 1991 – Aversion for the Concept of ‘welfare state’ began after the collapse of USSR in 1991 as a super power. Common men in general have lost faith in the Concepts of ‘welfare state’ or ‘Development State’.  Somehow, in the name of providing socio-economic and political justice to its people, the governments of welfare states functions in such a way, that it has done more damage to the underprivileged sections of society.

The governments of welfare socialist states have centralized the planning, controls and ownership leading to abuse of power. Their attitude have been Grab more political power. They have closed its economy to the world, nationalized industries and services, initiated rigid controls on the private sector and created monopolies in the public sector. In the name of socialism, it has created a domineering State controlling the smallest detail of the economic and social life of the people. People were made pigmies and enslaved by politicians, planners and bureaucrats. It has neither wiped out poverty, nor created effective distributive system nor equality.

In the name of Welfare State, the Government has acquired enormous powers. Government now exercises excessive control over the resources of the nation. Such a system has made the common men pigmies. People, in general, have gradually lost their motivation to make their own efforts  work for prosperity. In addition to it an unfettered market system led to grave economic inequalities. Altogether, it has slowed down the process of sustainable growth of the nation.

After independence, what successive governments in India have done, is that in the name of social justice, the government has kept on giving only false promises to the people, that too, during election times. They have given rise to a closed, centralized and unproductive system, The political authorities have chosen the path of appeasement in order to create their vote banks. Its paternalistic policies have destroyed the work culture, which has divided the society socially, politically and economically into two water-tight compartments ‘Haves” and ‘Have-nots”. The system as a whole has jammed the wheels of morality and conscience. Corruption, inefficiency and red-tapeism have increased beyond control in government circles. It developed tentacles of corruption, scams, scandals and callousness in almost every sphere.

Scene after Information technology Revolution

Roughly, 1973 marked the decline of welfare state and social justice era At some point, between 1965 and 1973, the world passed through A great divide into a new era, leaving behind the creeds, commitments and alignments, which had shaped the politics in the 19th and the 20th centuries. Now again the situation has changed. With the start of the third great revolution – the Information Technology revolution – and the collapse of super power USSR, there is a wave in favor of knowledge-based systems and free economy. More focus is now on economic enterprises. People all-over the world are adapting to the free economy. In order to succeed in modern world, the attention of the youth is on attaining proper qualifications, competitiveness and positive motivation.1973 marked decline of the concept of ‘Welfare State’. The oil shock, the floating dollars and the student rebellion in western world set had changed the scenario.

Planned Economy of Welfare State – Political leaders of many democratic nations still talk about concepts of Welfare nation and ‘social justice’. But common men, in general, have lost faith in the concept of social justice. It appears to them as unrealistic.  “Social Justice of a ‘Democratic Welfare State’ itself is a contradiction in terms. Planned economy cannot be democratic. The uneven distribution of economic power and benefits through manipulations of polity have created major distortions and problems for government of democratic nations.

The welfare nations had made following six specific mistakes: –

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

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

Mr. Subramanyam says, The hypocrisy of socialism developed along with centralization of authority, denigration of democratic institutions and strangulation of Panchayat Raj institutions as part of one integrated political process in the country

J. Krishnamurthy said, Working for social welfare is to fill water into a pail that has holes. The more water is poured in it, the more it pours out and the pail remains empty.

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

Switching over to Liberalization/free economies again after 1990 – After 40-45 years, another wave swept the world. Surprisingly, this time, it was led by capitalist ideology, which was supposed to have been defeated by now. The shift from economic control to economic freedom took the shape of a larger global movement engulfing democracies of welfare states, former communist forces and almost all the developing nations. After experiencing destructive effect of tampering with market forces, Welfare states started switching over to free economies again.

Even communist leader and USSR President Mr. Gorbochov admired and watched her actions with interest. Another example is of New Zealand. Alarmed that the country might finally become bankrupt, the Government, slashed welfare spending and sold off state owned enterprises running at loss. Price and wage controls were lifted, subsidies and trade barriers were lowered and Government employment was trimmed. The result was that New Zealand reduced its inflation to below 1% very soon.

The collapse of the Soviet Union as socialist super power in 1990 effected adversely the commitment of the world to an egalitarian social order and towards socialism as an ideology and a program. Today socialism has its usefulness as the vision of an ideal society.

Governments of many Welfare states, in its effort to control excesses and transgressions of the private sector through state capitalism and controlled economies had collapsed in 1990s like a house of cards all over the world. Since 1979 onwards, under Margaret Thatcher’s supervision, British Government that had a huge inefficient public sector and a heavily taxed private sector, started reducing its involvement in the economy boldly. Tax rates were cut and simplified. Her success fostered a fundamental change in people’s attitude towards the role of government. The inherent weaknesses have given to the public want, deprivation, fear and dissatisfaction, which has led to its disaster.

Some economists had collected data on the policy of ‘economic Justice’ of ‘Welfare states’, from the world over and concluded –

  • Those countries, which promoted private enterprise performed better than those dependent on state enterprise,
  • Those nations, which encouraged foreign investments, did better than those who discouraged it,
  • Those nations, which opted for an export path with free imports or low tariff, did better than protectionist nations,
  • Nations encouraging productivity through right labour policies did better.
  • The countries investing in primary education were better off and had brought down their population rates. Japan, Korea, Taiwan set the example and Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia followed. Latin America, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica etc., pursued the same success path.

Developments of Twenty first century – With the start of Twenty first Century, many technological advancements has happened at a very fast speed. In this space age, knowledge has grown faster than human ability to handle it. There are changes in the strategy, structure and management techniques. Social-economic-political atmosphere is also in a stage of flux due to technological advances at a very fast speed.

Recent changes are posing tough challenges before the government of a nation state people, particularly living in developing or under-developed countries. Human beings, in themselves are full of psychological and sociological complexes. In addition to it, a rapidly changing and turbulent environment, characterized by complexity and uncertainty, due increased knowledge, technological advancements and continuously rising aspirations and demands of its citizens, all together have made the task of good governance very difficult.

Winding up – The great lesson of the 20th Century, which has been learnt the hard way, is that the government of a nation should not become so beneficent that it should undermine people’s capacity to help themselves. Such an attitude of the national government tends to develop inaction and parasitism. It is necessary to remember that while State intervention can bring short term benefits, it invariably involves a cost, sometimes hidden at first, but usually enormous in the long run.

Free economy is now destined to shape the world of 21st century. Mr. Paul Johnson says, “The question, future historians will ask, is not why politicians and public opinion turned against the welfare state, but why it took them so long. Indeed, if ever a theory has been tested and disapproved, it is that of the all powerful, all benevolent state – a theory that has led in practice to violence, to the death of millions of people and to the scorching of the entire economics and environments. Never before, mankind has created such an all consuming monster. In both its totalitarian and social democratic versions, it has proved efficient in nothing except a capacity to squander resources and lives”.

In the past, knowledge was often used (abused) to curb thinking and dissent and inculcated blind obedience to authority. Info-tech Revolution along with the dissatisfaction in the hearts of common men led to the emergence knowledge based society in recent past. Now the key to success is knowledge, which can brings awareness, empowerment, and prosperity.

July 1, 2019 Posted by | General | | Leave a comment

Journey of Untouchables from Shudras to Dalits (SCs) in India

“We are all humans until Race disconnected us, Religion separated us, Politics divided us and wealth classified us.”

Introduction – Indian Hindu philosophy does not sanctify any discrimination or oppression of lower strata of society.  All the trouble about exploitation of Shudra community started with its politicization of caste-system. The stories about Hinduism justifying discrimination and oppression of Dalit might have been included later into the texts by persons with vested interests. Birth-based caste discrimination, oppression and exploitation in India are a more recent phenomena and has been spread by some vicious people to enflame the emotions of masses in general.

Shudras of ancient and Medieval IndiaExistence of Untouchables/Shudras (at present also known as Dalits, or Harijans, out-castes etc.) was recognized, as early as, Pre-Mauryan Period (6th century BC to 3rd century BC). Question arises who were the Shudras in ancient India and how were they had been treated by upper castes? The principle of Varna stratifies the whole society into four basic social groups – Brahmins (intellectuals), Khhatriyas (warriors), Vaishyas (business community) and Shudras (service class/menial workers). Socially, Shudras helped Brahmins (intellectuals), Khhatriyas (warriors) and Vaishyas (business community) in their work or worked under their guidance, therefore, socially they were ranked below them. They performed essential social and economic tasks in different areas including agricultural sector. It is not fully correct to say that Shudras were outside the pale of Varna system. They were always an integral part of the Hindu society.

In the beginning, conquered groups were kept under the category of ‘Shudras’. Later on, individuals or groups engaged in service sector or in unclean/unhygienic occupations, clinging to the practices, which were not considered respectable, people speaking foul and abusive language were put under the category of untouchables. Persons born illegitimately or the groups clinging to anti-social activities were treated as outcastes. Breaking the caste rules meant loss of caste, meaning complete ostracism or having no place in the society. Permanent loss of caste – out-caste- was considered to be the greatest catastrophe for an individual, short of death penalty. By the beginning of Christian era, the out-castes themselves developed caste hierarchy and had their own out-castes.

Initially, inclusion into any of these social groups was not birth based. According to Bhagwat Gita, it depended on attributes (Guna) and deeds (Karma) of a person.  “Janmana Jaayate shudraha, karmana jayate dvijah”. It simply means by birth, a person may be Shudra, he could become a dvija (Brahmin) by his deeds. The reason of its becoming birth-based was due to the gradual increase in the number of population .

In ancient India, there were many widely respected Shudras intellectuals and rulers .  Mahapadma Nanda  of Magadh (4th cen. BCE)  was thought to be of Shudra origin. The Nanda dynasty was conquered by Chandragupta Maurya. His grandson Ashoka the great of Maurya dynasty actually went on to become the greatest, largest and most powerful dynasty to have ever ruled the Indian sub-continent.

The two most popular epics ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’ were composed by Valmiki (a Shudra according to present ranking) and Ved Vyasa (a backward caste). And both are revered by all Hindus. The original epics did not justified oppression or exploitation. There were some powerful Shudras kingdoms as well.

Criteria of ranking in social hierarchy – In ancient India, there was
no hard and fast rule of ranking various castes. One of the misconceptions about Varna/caste system is that social ranking of different caste is based on  economic power. No, it is not. In Western societies, stratification of society into ‘class’ is based on  the economic power of a person or a group. There, the societies are divided into Upper, Middle and Lower class according their economic status.

In India, segmental ranking of different caste groups has been done according to relevance and contribution of their occupations to society. Usefulness of a profession to society as a whole, conduct and way of living of different people were the factors to determine social, economic or political status of a group in society vis-a vis others. While stratifying the society, Vedic concept of Varna has given importance to self-restraint and self-discipline in all spheres of life, be it in the matter of daily routine, occupation or inter caste relationship. Considerations of Self-discipline, hygiene, cleanliness, morality, knowledge and spiritual standards have been considered while deciding their ranks within the society. Higher a caste, purer it was considered, and greater were the self-restrictions on its behaviour through rituals.

Accordingly, highest rank was accorded to Brahmins (intellectuals), commanding respect of the whole society. They were put under maximum restrictions. They were expected to lead a simple life, devoted to the spiritual and intellectual pursuits and were denied accumulation of wealth, Economically they were the most disadvantaged community, surviving on income earned by teaching, performing rituals and by begging/charity. The Kshatriyas earned through wages and taxes, the Vaishyas through business and mercantile activities, Though accorded a lower status,  Shudras were land owners, farmers, skilled artisans and craftsmen and musicians. They were an essential part of the whole society, respected and earned large incomes, being the service providers.

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

Social systems kept masses in society reconciled – As far as masses are
concerned, the systems have always kept them reconciled, if not contended in the past. Because of the system of Inter-dependence, all people living in a village or city, were bound together by economic and social ties and had a strong bond of mutual dependence. There was hardly any room for any section of society to consider itself, as being placed in greater or lesser disadvantageous position with reference to another. Concept of forwards or backwards or feeling of exploitation of lower strata by upper castes was almost non-existent at that time. It kept all the sections of society united under one umbrella despite of their diversity and gave the society stability, continuity and prosperity.

 Medieval India In medieval India also, respect to a person or group was not given on the basis of material success or control of power. Sir John Shore (Sir John Shore, the Governor General of India during the period 1793-1798) had observed that Hindus regarded Britishers at par with the lowest natives despite their being so powerful and the ruling community. Similarly Brahmins associated with unclean jobs like, Mahabrahmins performing last rites, have also been treated, more or less like Shudras and have been put at the bottom of the social structure. There were instances when non-Brahmins or Harijans served as priests of temples of goddesses like Sita or Kali, where all castes made offerings.

Arvind Sharma, a Professor in McGill University observed that caste rigidity and discrimination had emerged in ‘Smriti’ during period from after the birth of Jesus Christ and extending up-to 1200 CE. During Medieval Period, Bhakti movement led by many Sufi saints had challenged the rigid practices of not treating Shudras as equals and giving them a low social status.

Sri H.S. Kotiyal says, “One of the significant development of the early medieval period in India is the increasing participation of the Sudras in the state policy.” The 12th and 13th centuries saw the emergence of some powerful empires led by Shudra rulers in  south India, Kakatiyas Dynasty from 1083 CE to 1323 CE) in Andhra Pradesh, being one of them . Kakatiyas were the first feudatories of the Western Chalukyas of Kalyana, ruling over a small territory near Warangal.

Many studies have shown that ancient or medieval India has 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.

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

If not Hinduism or caste system, then whom to blame for the miseries of under-privileged sections of Indian society? It all proves that it is not fully correct to say Hinduism or caste system are responsible for Shudra’s isolation; deprivation; exploitation; low social status; inhuman treatment of caste Hindus; low social status Shudras in traditional Hindu Society. Also that no one forces them to do menial, unsavoury and unclean jobs. According to Hindu philosophy,  Instead of holding others responsible for their miseries, Indian philosophy preaches that Adharma” (immoral behavior), “Alasya” (laziness) and Agyan (ignorance) are to be blamed for all evils, exploitation and miseries of people.

Beginning of the troubles for lower strata of Indian society – All troubles of lower strata of society started after the downfall of Hindu Raj, when it became difficult for Hindus to stick on traditional values and systems. Continuous invasions by Turks, Afghans and Mughals had adversely affected the whole society. They, earlier, drained out the wealth of the nation to foreign lands and afterwards made India their homeland and ruled the country for centuries. It resulted in Hinduism turning inwards and observing all the rituals rigidly and blindly to save its distinct identity under foreign rule.

Afterwards, feudalistic attitude, extravagance and luxurious life style of Mughal rulers and those at the helm of authority, increased the disparity between the rulers and the ruled.

Rise of White-collared jobs during British rule and its effects on lower strata of society – Again, in  nineteenth century during British rule, modernization an industrialization process has made many traditional occupations obsolete or less paying or were regarded more hazardous and more time consuming. White collared jobs gained importance.

Modernity has taught people to escape from menial work and discredit manual work. More, a person withdraws from physical labour, more civilized, honoured and qualified he is regarded by modern society. The trend of apathy towards indigenous skills, knowledge and occupations has turned many occupations obsolete or discredited many traditional occupations. It has resulted in destruction of Indian handicrafts and cottage industry and pushed millions of rural artisans, craftsman and small scale farmers backwards in a very subtle manner.

Process of Industrialization and modernization had scattered efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsman, weavers etc. For them,  their work, in which they specialized, was essential for their survival, Only a few of them could join modern occupations. Majority belonging to different groups could neither enter modern sector, nor could stick to their traditional occupations. They have lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride, considering menial work derogatory. Majority of them have no option, but to either join band of agricultural laborers, industrial workers, and marginal labour or increase number of unemployed people living below poverty line. Outcome of such a change has been casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style, commitment, motivation and culture.

Lower strata victim of circumstances – Therefore, it can be said that it was not the malice of upper castes, but the circumstances, that pushed untouchables and others away from the mainstream. Suffering from centuries old enslavement, suppression and ostracism deteriorated severely the condition of lower strata of society, stopped growth of their personality and made them dependent on Government or others for their livelihood. In his Dissent Note, Kaka Kalelkar,  Chairman, First Backward Class Commission Report, has commented, 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.” BCCI, para III.

Transformation intoDepressed Class during 19th century from Shudras of ancient and medieval India  – During the nineteenth Century, in official circles lower castes were addressed as ‘Depressed class’ or ‘Exterior class’. British government in India regarded these people as ‘Oppressed of the oppressed and lowest of the low’. It was the time, when Missionaries were trying to convert this section of society into Christianity. British rulers had passed many Legislative regulations and administrative orders and declared denial of access to untouchables to schools, well, roads and public places as illegal.

Imperial rulers knew well that they had established their power in India by playing off one part against the other. To continue their domination over India and to rule the country without any distraction as long as possible, they purposely kept Indians busy with their internal problems. During the second half of the nineteenth century, the British turned their attention to uplift non-Brahmin castes to   secure theirs’ loyalty. 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.”

Educated Hindus amongst non-Brahmins castes, especially in Southern and Western parts of India, found it difficult to compete with Brahmins on equal footings in modern callings. To get the credit for the amelioration and protection of the lowly and secure their loyalty, on one hand, Rulers encouraged non-Brahmins leaders to form their political pressure groups on the basis of castes and raise their voice against Brahmins. On the other, special schools were opened for non-Brahmins and scholarships, loans, hostel facilities and concessions in school fees were provided to them.

Around 1909, the lower strata of Hindu community were conceptualized under the name of “untouchables”. 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. For the first time, Indians leaders could understand the strength of numbers. 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.

Harijans – The attempt of British rulers in 1911 to exclude untouchables from Hindu population and continuous decline of number of Hindus cautioned the national leaders. In order to retain their Hindu identity, Gandhiji and his followers called them Harijans meaning the “people belonging to god”. On one hand, Gandhiji tried to create compassion in the hearts of forward communities for Harijans and on the other he appealed to Harijans to observe cleaner habits, so that they could mix up freely with other sections of society. Dalit leaders did not like the word Harijan as it symbolized a meek and helpless person, at the mercy and benevolence of others, and not the proud and independent human being that they were.

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

Top most priority was given by them to abolish the practice of untouchability. They tried to clarify that Untouchability was neither an integral part of Hinduism nor an outcome of Varna/caste system, nor have any religious sanctity, but an external impurity and sinful blot on Hinduism. They laid emphasis on education, moral regeneration and philanthropic uplift. and become proud and independent human beings, that they were.

Shudras, now known as UntouchablesBy 1909, the lowest strata of Indian society came to be known as untouchables. Many 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 labour or unsavoury jobs, imposed many restrictions on them and prevented them from joining the mainstream of the society. According to them, Hindus treated lower castes as lesser human beings, meek and helpless persons, who should always remain at the mercy and benevolence of upper castes. They tried to find the solution of their problems through political power, not through acceptance by Hindus.

By 1920’s, numerous caste organizations, especially 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.

The emergence of Dr. Ambedkar in politics provided with the required leadership and needed stimulus to untouchable movement during late twenties and early thirties. Ambedkar 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.

In 1928, 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… The British introduced every possible cross-division. Some political leaders even thought that that Ambedkar was planted into Indian politics purposely by British rulers only.

Scheduled Castes – In accordance with the provisions of the Communal Award of 1932, instructions were issued, in July 1934, to schedule a list of the people entitled for preferential treatment in matter of special electoral representation and appointment in the Central Government jobs. This gave birth to the term Scheduled Caste in 1935. Scheduling was a legal activity having sanction of legal authorities. Therefore, no one had any objection to this term. The term continued after the independence as well, for the purpose of Reservation.

Untouchables in Independent India – After second world war emergence of the concept of ‘welfare state’ swept the whole world. Independent India, as a civilized democratic society, considered it its humanitarian obligation to uplift and empower the submerged sections of society. The overwhelming poverty of millions belonging to lower strata of society and their near absence in echelons of power at the time of Independence has led the government to of India to intervene.

The Constitution of India has directed the Government to promote social justice and educational, economic and other interests of the weaker sections with special care. It instructed the Government to remove the poverty and reduce inequalities of income and wealth and provide adequate representation to the downtrodden in power echelons through Affirmative Action Program/Reservation Policy. Public facilities, which were denied to untouchables so far, have been made accessible to them. The successive governments both at national as well as provincial levels initiated various Welfare Plans and Policies for employment generation and their social, economic and political growth from time to time.

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

In 1972, a distinct political party, in the name of Dalit Panther was formed in Maharashtra. It organized the lower castes under the banner of ‘Dalit’ throughout India. One of the founders of Dalit Panther, Mr. Namdeo Dhasal widened the scope of Dalit by including SC, tribes, neo-Buddhists, landless labor and economically exploited people. Its orientation was primarily militant and rebellious. Dalit Sahitya Movement legitimized and reinforced the use of the term Dalit. Since then, this term is very popular amongst the untouchables.

Earlier, a few leaders of untouchables had at least some regard for the cultural tradition of India. They did not reject Vedic literature or the foundations of Hinduism, out-rightly. Dr. Ambedkar accepted that all parts of Manusmiriti were not condemnable. Gopal Baba Walangkar had said that Vedas did not support untouchability. Kisan Fagoi, another Mahar leader of pre-Ambedkar era had joined Prarthna Samaj. But present Dalit leaders are vehemently against cultural traditions of India, which according to them, are based on inequality and exploitation. There is always a fear of upper caste or intermediate caste backlash.

In mid sixties, an aggressive Dalit movement started under the banner of Shoshit Samaj Dal in Central Bihar, which has, presently, become a major center of Naxalite movement. Dal was founded by Jagdeo Mahto, who began to mobilize the lower castes against economic repression and exploitation of women by upper caste feudal elements.

The new phase of Dalit assertion is most prominent in the most populous state of UP, where the upper caste domination has been challenged by BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) formed in 1984 under the leadership of Kanshi Ram and Mayavati. They redefined Dalit politics especially in north India. Their approach to Dalit issues was more socio-political rather than economic. BSP has started pursuing power with militancy since 1990. Of late, BSP has made significant inroads in UP, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh. BSP has borrowed all their phraseology from Dalit Panthers. Most of their utterances are arrogant, revengeful and opportunistic.

Political and economic vested interests of Dalit leaders has aroused militancy among discontented youths of different castes and communities all over the nation. They are taught to fight only for rights without any sense of responsibility towards their nation. Present day youth pay scant attention to their duties. There is a cutthroat competition amongst various Dalit groups for scarce positions of power and prestige.

Once again, the tendency of ‘divide and rule’, as was there during British domination, has emerged in national scenario. The growing desire of Dalits to rule has made them very sure of their friends and foes. Dalit leaders, even after so many years of Independence has identified Upper Castes as their enemy and intermediate castes sometimes as their friends and sometimes as their enemies. Kanshi Ram, a BSP leader had initiated a formula of DS4, meaning Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangarsh Samiti, taking into its fold untouchables, STs, Muslims and OBCs.

OBC leaders also know that Dalit parties now control a large vote bank. Therefore, from time to time, they try to please Dalits leaders in order to increase their own political strength. But Dalits are in no mood to play a second fiddle to other national political parties. They are aware of their growing influence and crucial role as a kink-maker in today’s highly competitive and unstable political atmosphere. All the three major national political formations – Congress’s UPA BJP’s NDA and National Front – are wooing frantically Dalit leaders and competing with each other to have a pre or post poll alliance with them. Instead of demanding a share in power structure, equity or social justice, Dalits now want to reverse the power equation and to transform the society by capturing all political power. Their aim is to get hold over the posts of PM-CM (Political Power) through electoral politics and control over administrative authority – the bureaucracy – through Reservations/Affirmative Action Program.

There is an elite section amongst Dalits, which protects its turf under the banner of Dalits at the cost of poorest of Dalits. It does not care much to bring Dalit masses into the mainstream. For some, presence and miseries of large number of Dalits is a recipe for Dalit vote-bank, for others enjoying all the benefits of affirmative action programs initiated and implemented by the Government of India and other concessions given to them. Whatever might be the condition of Dalit masses, but the political power and arrogance of Dalit leaders and intellectuals are at rise. And here lies the crux of Dalit politics.

Dalits at International platform – Dalits are not satisfied even after having growing influence in ballot-box politics and attaining enough places in the government jobs. Since 2001, these activists have been pushing the cause internationally arguing that Indian Dalits are like blacks in US till 1950. Even now, they face many problems at their workplace, in schools and in places of worship.

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. Dalit 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, Tribal 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 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 Ravidas 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 organisations around the world and Lutheran World Federation have shown interest and expressed their solidarity with Dalits. Recently the comment of UN Commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay asking India that “time has come to eradicate the shameful concept of caste” and proposals of UN Human Rights Council’s or US based Human Rights Watch (HRW) to recognise caste as a form of discrimination ‘based on descent and birth’ appear not to be based on rational understanding of caste system. Their opinion about untouchability is greatly influenced by the lobbying of powerful/influential Dalit leaders and Dalit 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 upliftment and empowerment of submerged sections of society, but there is need to educate, make them aware of their rights and duties, provide enough employment opportunities and other civic facilities like health etc at the grass root level for the sustainable growth of backward communities.

 

June 28, 2019 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | Leave a comment

India, one nation, one culture

“If there is honesty in India today, any hospitality, any charity…. any aversion to evil, any love to be good, it is due to whatever remains of the old faith and the old culture”. C. Rajgopalachari

Introduction

India occupies a special place in the global society and Indian civilization is one of the oldest alive civilizations of the world. It presents a fascinating picture of unity amidst diversity, cultural richness, largeness of area and huge population. It has assimilated multi-ethnic migrants into its fold. India comprises people of different ethnic, religious, castes, linguistic and regional identities.

Usually diversity makes divide easy. In India also, there have been periods of discord. However, the forces of unity have always been stronger than the divisive forces. Different identities in India have lived together for centuries and present a mosaic culture.

Factors leading to the unity of India – Important factors, which have kept unity and continuity of India intact, are:

  • Indian philosophy, Vedic literature and its value system – C. Rajgopalachari has said, “If there is honesty in India today, any hospitality, any charity…. any aversion to evil, any love to be good, it is due to whatever remains of the old faith and the old culture”. Indian philosophy contains a vast reservoir of knowledge. It is found in Vedas, Upanishads, Sutras and Smritis. Basham says that Vedic literature contains “an ocean of knowledge in a jar.”

The Vedic literature is a magnificent example of scientific division and orderly arrangement of rules in a few words, in different branches of human knowledge, covering almost all the aspects of life, be it phonetics, arts, literature, medicine, polity, metrics, law, philosophy, astrology or astronomy.

Indian philosophy and its value systemstill commands the respect and attention of an average Indian. The priestly schools had devised a most remarkable and effective system of transferring knowledge to succeeding generations in the form of hymns, restricting it only to those, possessing brilliant feats of memory and capability to keep extreme sanctity.

Only after raising oneself from ignorance, a person could be able to understand the greatness of the Indian value system. Like a jeweler, one could spot out gems from amongst worthless pebbles. A knowledgeable person could pick up knowledge and leave the undesired obsolete elements developed in it with passage of time.

 This gold mine of knowledge inspired not only Indians, but foreigners as well. Intellectuals from various countries have translated it in their own languages and reinterpreted it for a rational mind.

  • Doctrines of Varna, Dharma and Karma

The foundation pillars of the Indian civilization are the principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma. It give to the people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved. Together these principles laid the foundation stones of Indian social structure and contributed to its growth. It has organized inter-relationship of various groups of society. In addition to all this, It has defined their roles by distributing various functions and managed the performance to improve quality of life.

Doctrine of Varna – Doctrine of Varna gives the Indian Society a stable, sustainable social structure, which distributes and organizes performance of various functions. It has made it possible for the people to lead a quality of life and ensured the continuity despite numerous foreign invasions, migrations and assimilation of various groups.

Doctrine of Dharma – The doctrine of Dharma defines the duties and vocations for different sections of society, ensures social harmony and prevents rivalries and jealousies.

Doctrine of Karma – Doctrine of Karma makes the inequalities, prevalent in the society, tolerable to an average Indian.

These principles have given to the people a distinct character. In the past, these principles had wisely directed all the activities – social, political, intellectual or economic – into proper life functions and controlled its malfunctioning or dis-functioning. It had made it possible for people to reach a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas. It contributed to all round growth of cultural heritage and encouraged self-discipline, consciousness, self-control and self-direction. Decentralized self-regulated systems were the mode in social, political and economic life in ancient India.

  • ‘Sanatan (eternal) Dharma’ of Hinduism takes care of the basic physical, mental and spiritual needs of the human beings at different stages of life. It nurtures the basic instincts of human beings over nature, after a deep study of natural instincts, inherent attributes and natural behavioral pattern.

It has prepared an atmosphere for co-existence of different groups, be it ruler or ruled/rich or poor. It has provided unity of culture throughout India and serves to give Indian society coherence, stability and continuity.

  •  Tolerance – The spirit of tolerance and firm belief in the principle, ‘Live and let live’ has always been the part of Indian ethos. Tolerance is most evident in the field of religion. Tolerance is not confined to religion alone. It is seen everywhere in the Indian way of life. Indians believe in ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. The whole world is one family. Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression are the hallmark of Indian culture. The people endure injustice and unfairness until they are pushed right to the wall.

John Fischer mentions, “Even during Bengal famine, an extreme situation – when necessity knows no laws, people did not take law in their own hands, nor was there any violence. No grocery stall, no rice warehouse, none of the wealthy clubs or restaurants was ever threatened by a hungry mob… They just died with docility, which to most Americans is the most shocking thing about India.’ Many times in the past, Indians had accepted oppression and exploitation without much protest, while such situations, elsewhere in the world, would have led to bloody revolutions.

Even today, in the hope of better future, Indians are patiently tolerating the criminalization of politics, high-handedness of authorities, corruption, scams and scandals and inefficiency of the administration without much protest. Administration is one such area, where tolerance is harmful, as it not only hinders the development, but also pushes the nation backwards.

  • Validity to all religions – Hindu faith in an all pervading omnipresent god, multiplicity of gods and goddesses as representing some portion of the infinite aspect of the Supreme Being, inspired it to accommodate people of all faiths. The places of worship of Hindus, Muslims and Christians, (major religions of India) i.e.Mandir, Masjid and Church, all have 6 alphabets in it, and their religious Granths, Geeta, Kuran and Bible, each one has the same no. of 5 alphabets in it, all preaching the same ‘God is one’.    

Hinduism concedes validity to all the religions and does not lay down strictures against any faith or reject any religion or its god as false. That is the reason, why all the twelve major religions of the world are present and flourishing in India without any hindrance.

  • Path of assimilation – Hindu religion neither repulses any trend vehemently, nor allows others to sweep its established culture off its roots. It has adopted the path of assimilation. It does not force others to convert. It does not impose its beliefs, practices and customs on others. In the past, it has assimilated numerous social groups willing to join it.
  • Fusion of different cultures –As India passed through various phases in the past, various  religious communities have left its influence on Indian culture, which came down to the present generation in an unbroken chain of succession, with some minor alterations, modifications and adaptations here and there. All the sects present in India, whether alien (like Islam, Christianity,  Zoroastrianism etc.)or indigenous(originated within the land of India like Budhism, Jainism, or Sikhism etc) have been influenced greatly by Hindu thinking, practices and systems. Also the interaction between value-system of Vedic culture and other religions (of indigenous, migrating or foreign communities) present in India, have contributed in enriching the composite culture of India:
    • Vedic Hindu Culture – Vedic Hindu Culture is one of the oldest living cultures in the world. It mainly originated and flourished in northern parts of India and later on spread throughout India. The word ‘Vedic’ is derived from the word ‘Vid’ meaning ‘Knowledge’ and signifies’ ‘knowledge par excellence’.

The Vedic culture came into being due to intermixing of the culture of Aryan with the culture of indigenous tribal people of India during 2nd century BC to 650 AD. The origin of the Vedic culture cannot be traced in any single founder; neither can it be confined in one single authoritative text.

Its knowledge has been handed down from time immemorial, earlier by verbal transmission and later on, in written form by the ancestor to succeeding generations. It has not prescribed final absolutes. It is a constant search for more knowledge. Vedas are not supposed to be the end of quest for knowledge. It is a never ending process (‘Neti-Neti’ meaning ‘no end, no end’).

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

  • Despite centuries of foreign rule over 75% of Indian population remains Hindu.
  • Had it become obsolete, it would have given place to other religions and cultures.
  • It influenced almost all other religions found in India.
  • Buddhism and Jainism – Budhism and Jainism has influenced the thought, moral and life style of many Indians. Buddhism attracted equally the elite as well as the lower strata of Hindu society. Buddhism drew the attention of people towards the harsher effects of the caste system, sympathetic attitude towards lesser human beings and system of organized education. Major contribution of Jainism is the principle of non-violence.
  • Dravidian culture – After the sudden disappearance of Indus valley culture, of which the most characteristic feature was its town planning, Dravidian culture with its advanced social system, industry and trade made a mark in the South.
  • Islamic culture- After the tenth century, Islamic culture influenced the Indian culture substantially. Its influence could be seen in the rejection of elaborate rituals and caste pretensions. It preached a simple path of faith, devotion, brotherly love and fellowship. With the growing political strength of Muslims, the need for mutual understanding and communal harmony gave rise to Sufi tradition of Islam and Bhakti movement of Hindus. Both these emphasized the need for mutual appreciation, tolerance and goodwill. Like Buddhism, Islam also provided an alternative to people, wishing to opt out the caste system.
  • British Culture – Eighteenth century onwards, the British culture influenced the Indian culture substantially, especially that of elite and intellectuals. Access to modern education, Western literature and philosophy gave Indians the understanding of liberal and humanitarian ideas of the West.

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

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

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

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

  • The Caste system and
  • Reluctance to convert people of other religions, on the ground that all religions are valid.

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

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

Assimilation and fusion of different cultures – Assimilation and fusion of different cultures has been a continuous process of the India civilization. A major cultural synthesis took place during 6th and 10th century, between Vedic Hindu culture, Buddhism and Dravidian culture. Another assimilation was seen after the 10th century, when the thinking of Arabs, Turks and Afghan, mainly guided by reason, influenced Indian thought. Sufi and Bhakti movements are examples of this. These two sects taught the people to love and respect all human beings irrespective of caste or creed. These also brought changes in the nature of mutual understanding, communal amity and accommodation.

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

Winding up

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

Despite of having different kinds of diversities, most of the times, the Indian society has been able to develop “an attitude of reconciliation rather than refutation, cooperation rather than confrontation and co-existence rather than mutual annihilation.”

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

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | | Leave a comment

Politics without principle is a sin

Politics without Principle is a sin

“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

What is Democracy – 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 Govern themselves. They themselves take decisions and execute them. In olden days, in a small city state or Princely states, it was possible for people to directly take part in the governance through –

  • 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.

In modern times, the most successful and long-term experience of direct democracy can be seen to some extent in Switzerland, where a host of ordinary policy questions are routinely put to the electorate, following a tradition dating to the 16th century.

Indirect Democracy  – Indirect Democracy means a rule by representatives of the majority of the electorate. In this system, people vote for representatives. Indirect democratic regimes may be classified as either Presidential or Parliamentary systems. The main instrument of choosing the representatives in both the systems is periodical elections. Political decision -making is done by this small number of people’s representatives,  elected by the whole electorate. Such a system in modern form was originated in in the USA and Western Europe. Subsequently, especially after second World War it has been adopted by Third World countries.

Representative Democracy is usually equated with Liberal Democracy. 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.
  8. Principles of separation of power and checks and balances – Indirect Democracy usually works on the principle of defining with clarity the role of different organs of the government. Most of the elected representatives of the people in legislatures are supposed to legislate, lay down policies, and monitor its implementation. Executive is there to supervise the bureaucracy to execute its plans and policies, Opposition parties role is to criticize the wrong decisions/actions of party in power. Each one keeps a control on the arbitrariness of others.  If each one does its job properly, there won’t be It is the duty of the government to look after the welfare and sustainable development of all sections of the people, including economically weaker deprived sections of society, women and children. It is only then, that a society or a nation can move forward and progress as a whole.

much problem.

Elections at frequent intervals is the life-line of any democratic government. People choose their representatives through elections and delegate them the authority to form a government.

Elections at frequent intervals is the life-line of any democratic government. People choose their representatives through elections and delegate them the authority to form a government and  look after the welfare of the people, and development of the society and nation as a whole. 

Vote-bank politics tend them not focus their attention on real issues. Their failure to diagnose the disease properly and do sincere efforts to cure it. They are neither able to treat the disease (real issues) nor the patient (development of the nation). How can the disease of maladministration be cured, if elections are not fought with fair objectives. Many politicians’ fight  election just to gain political power by hook or crook, and control the destiny of millions of people in their own interest  or the interests of their followers.

Principles of separation of power and checks and balances – Democracy works on the principle of defining with clarity the role of different organs of the government. Most of the elected representatives of the people in legislatures are supposed to legislate, lay down policies, and monitor its implementation. Executive is there to supervise the bureaucracy to execute its plans and policies, Opposition parties role is to criticize the wrong decisions/actions of party in power. Each one keeps a control on the arbitrariness of others.  If each one does its job properly, there won’t be much problem. 

However, for winning the elections and rule the nation, politicians, divide the electorate  shamelessly into numerous watertight compartments on the basis of their diverse identities  and interests. Then they woo voters and create vote-banks for themselves. They appease specific section/sections. They pursue sectional interests, giving least attention to the welfare of the society/nation as a whole. In such a situation how can function  efficiently and effectively in a democratic state?

What is Democracy – 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 through –

  • 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.

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. Churchil 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.

It is the job of rival political parties to select the candidates and woo the voters to vote for their prospective candidates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 22, 2019 Posted by | General, Social and political values and systems | , | Leave a comment

A Summary Of Bhagvat Gita

A Summary Of  Bhagvat Gita

   By  

Late Justice Shanker Dayal Khare, Allahabad,

Published in 28.10.1975                           

INTRODUCTION

We seek happiness.We desire that happiness may last for ever. Do we succeed? Do we get peace of mind?

Gita throws light on these subjects. We may find its philosophy interesting and useful. There is no harm in giving exercise to our minds in the same manner as we give yogic exercises to our bodies.

Philosophy is simple: – ‘Rely on (your own) Laws and Traditions. Keep on doing deeds as you have been doing them. Do your deeds without hesitation and with complete devotion towards God, and achieve what is generally achieved by such deeds.

If you want peace of mind try not to feel elated with the feeling that you are the doer of the deeds. Dedicate the results of all your deeds to God. Then you should not have any attachment towards the results of your deeds.

In that manner you should reach beyond the scope of the three qualities – (saintly, worldly lethargic).

Have complete faith in the Creator and He will help you in establishing such faith in Himself.

I shall feel happy if some people, like me, find this summary useful.

Allahabad                                                                                          S.D.Khare

28-10-75                                                    

                                                           CHAPTER ONE

    DESPONDENCY

 After both the parties had drawn themselves up in battle array, Arjun, accompanied by Lord Krishna, went to the battle field to see those who have come to oppose the Pandavas (party with just cause) and to support Kaurvas (party with an unjust cause). For Arjun it was most disheartening to see that even his own kith and kin, and very near relations were supporting the unjust cause and opposing the just cause. Was it proper for him to fight all those people, who had come to oppose him? Arjun, in retrospect, said, “NO”. He observed that in such circumstances it was better to be killed than be the killer. The situation being very confusing Arjun asked for the advice of Lord Krishna.

Lesson to be learnt: Attatchment is the root cause of all distress.

                                                         CHAPTER TWO

PROCESS OF REASONING

Arjun was advised to put up a fight, because –

  1. Being a member of the fighting community, it was his duty to fight for the right cause. In such a fight death secured Heaven and survival the pleasures of this world.
  2. It was foolish to think of destroying others in the process. Soul is undestructable. None of the five elements (fire, air, water, earth or sky) is capable of destroying it. Body is, no doubt, destructible. This body, however, does not retain its original form or shape even during one life time. It keeps on changing from childhood to young age and from young age to old age. Death merely changes the form of the body.
  3. People regard you invincible. You shall fall in their estimates in case you refuse to fight. They shall call you a coward. That shall be worse than death.
  4. Why worry about the result of the fight? How can the result of any deed be controlled? It is always the best to do a deed and leave the result of the deed to God. That is a well recognized method (of doing deeds without feeling attached to them). It is par excellent. The practice of this method shall lead one to detachment and to the attainment of Salvation. Such deeds bear no fruits, piety or sin.

Arjun asked: – “Can a person firmly established in this method of doing deeds be spotted out?”

Lord Krishna replied: – “Yes! Such a person is always fully satisfied with his own soul. Pleasure nor pain, good luck nor bad luck, can ever perturb him. He withdraws his senses from all objects of pleasure and is without any feeling of attachment, fear and anger. Ontrol over mind and practice lead to such a state. Such person devotes himself fully towards God.”

Lesson to be learnt from this chapter: (Fight for right cause in life is the ultimate solution to all problems)

CHAPTER THREE

PROCESS OF DEEDS

Arjun asked again: – “When acquisition of wisdom is supreme, why should one do deeds, the results of some of which might be dreadful?”

Lord Krishna replied: – The universe and the deeds were created at one and the same time. Everything has to be achieved through deeds. One’s quality determines the nature nature of one’s deeds. One’s existence even for a moment, is not possible without doing deeds.

One should do only the natural and the prescribed deeds, that should keep him free from the feeling of attachment and envy.

Arjun thereupon asked: – When people do deeds perforce (according their quality) why should those deeds saddle them with sins?”

Lord Krishna replied: – Attachment and envy, born of worldly quality, lead people to partake in sin. Attachment has its abode in senses, mind and intellect. Attachment, with the help of all these three, eclipses wisdom. Senses are strong, mind is stronger and the intellect is strongest of the three. Soul is even more powerful than intellect.

Concentrating on soul, taking the help of one’s intellect and controlling one’s mind and senses, one can destroy ATTACHMENT, which is the supreme enemy.  

Lesson to be Learnt: Detachment is the way to progress and prosperity.

CHAPTER FOUR

TRUE WISDOM

“I had told about this method (of doing deeds without any feeling of attachment towards them) to Sun, when the Universe started. Sun passed on that knowledge to some of his descendents. However for a very long time that method had been forgotten. The same method is repeates to you, my devotee.”

Arjun asked how Lord Krishna could be there at the time the universe started. The reply of Lord Krishna was: –

“God and soul have always existed. God, however, revealed himself only in each era to give relief to the pious minded and destroy the evil-minded. The apparent birth and deeds of God Almighty are most unusual.

Four classifications have been made for the doers of all sorts of deeds. The scriptures (Vedas) contain a description of different kinds of deeds. The attainment of True Knowledge is the ultimate aim of all such deeds. True knowledge can be attained only by devotion service and honest questioning. Those who have already acquired true knowledge must guide others. True knowledge is like a huge ball of fire. It destroys the feeling of attachment and burns out all sins, which are merely the results of attachment. The soul which has acquired True Knowledge gets absolute peace and qualifies for God realization.

After being free from the feeling of attachment and envy, one should remain content with whatever comes in stride. Happiness or unhappiness, or attainment or nonattainmentof his objects should not stir him in the least. Ultimately he is bound to get absolute peace.

Lesson to be learnt from this chapter: The attainment of True Knowledge is the ultimate aim of all such deeds.

CHAPTER FIVE

OF DOING DEEDS WITHOUT ATTACHMENT

Asked Arjun: – Which of the two is better – the Process of Reasoning or the Process of Deeds?”

The reply was: – Both are equally good and lead to the same result. However the Process of Deeds may be said to be the better of the two. True Knowledge can also be acquired by means of Deeds done without any feeling of attachment. When a person has full control over his mind and body, when his soul has become pure and when he is totally bereft of ego and remains unattached while doing deeds, he can not be bound down to the fruits of his deeds and can never commit any sin. He attains peace.

The doer of deeds without any feeling of attachment keeps on doing deeds for the purification of his soul, but all the time his senses, mind, body and intellect remain free from attachment.

One must consider everybody alike and remain moderate inhabit and behavior. He must remain firm in his belief and strive hard to attain True Knowledge.

The attainment of salvation leads to unending peace and happiness. The quest for worldly pleasures is futile. Worldly pleasures are innumerable, perishable and in themselves sourses of unhappiness. Only those persons can attain peace who are free from the feeling of attachment and envy and who have control over their senses, mind, body and intellect.

Lesson to be learnt from this chapter: Renounce the ego and attain salvation leading to unending peace and happiness.

CHAPTER SIX

UPLIFTING OF SOUL

Lord Krishna said: – A person, who does deeds without any feeling of attatchment, is both a Renouncer and a Doer of Deeds. A person, who has control over his senses, mind, body and intellect has no real interest in preserving or amassing wealth. His continuous effort is only to uplift the Soul.

For purification of Soul practice has to be done in a proper manner. Everything (eating, sleeping. Rest) should be done in moderation. One’s state of mind should be that of a lamp kept at a place where there is no breeze. One must always have faith in his belief and should never feel bored. He is bound to discern the existence of the Supreme Being in all the objects.”

Arjun observed: – “It is not easy to control one’s mind. To attain mastery in such practice must, therefore, be very very difficult”.

The reply was: – “Yes! That is so. But by constant practice one may master it.”

Asked Arjuna: – “That being a long and drawn out process, will not a person engaged in such practice get lost and annihilated in the same manner as a cloud, which disintegrates into nothing?”

Lord Krishna replied: – “No. Each stage reached by constant practice, remains secure. One starts from that stage in the next birth.”

Lesson to be learnt from this chapter: Every act should be done in moderation. 

CHAPTER SEVEN

                                     KNOWLEDGE DIVINE

“The acquisition of no other knowledge can be compared to the attainment of Divine Knowledge. It is something grand. One should know what God is.

Every person has two components – the body and the soul. The body is made up of eight elements (earth, water, air, sky, fire, mind, intellect and ego). The other component, which gives life to the system is different.

God is the Creator and the Destroyer of the entire universe. God is present in all the objects. Even the feelings, which beget the three qualities (Saintly, worldly and lethargic) are created by God. A grand illusion is the result of the interplay of these qualities. No one can escape that illusion unless he worships God continuously. One, whose wisdom is eclipsed by illusion, does not worship God.

Four kinds of people worship God. These are of: –

  1. People in quest of worldly objects,
  2. People anxious to avert unhappy events,
  3. People desirous of knowing God, and
  4. People whose every deed is dedicated to God.

Out of them the fourth class is the best.

People desirous of getting rid of the pangs of rebirth and death must depend only on God.Their faith in Him must be firm. Such a person is not likely to forget God even at the time of his death.

Lesson to be learnt: Connect to higher consciousness daily.

                                              CHAPTER EIGHT

COMMUNION WITH GOD

“A person, who can manage to remember God even at the time of his death, attain salvation. What one thinks during the last moments of his life, determines his status after death. A person, who can restrain his senses from drifting towards the objects of pleasure, who stations his mind firmly in his heart, and his life force in his forehead, who remains firmly established in such practice, thinks of God only and, at the time of his death pronounce His name (OM) is bound to attain Salvation.

The doer of deeds with feeling of attachment towards them can go upto heaven only. He returns to earth after the effect of his pious deeds is over. But one who attains Salvation is not born again. The stage of salvation can be reached only by continuous practice and devotion.

What is time? One day of Supreme Being is equivalent to one thousand eras. Similarly one night of the Supreme Being is also equal to one thousand eras. The Universe was created when the day of the Supreme Being started. It shall get annihilated when the night of Supreme Being starts. The process shall keep on repeating. The Supreme Being alone is undestructable.

There are two clear-cut paths – one leading to God and other leading to ancestors. A doer of deeds, without any feeling of attachment, takes the first path and does not come back to earth. A doer of deeds with a feeling of attachment takes to the second path and comes back to the earth.

A person, who fully knows all this, does not get attached to the results of his deeds. He continuously exercises his mind for the attainment of God. The attainment of this True Knowledge is far Superior to the knowledge of the Sacred Scripts and the doing of penance and charity.”

Lesson to be learnt: True Knowledge is far Superior to the knowledge of the Sacred Scripts.

                                               CHAPTER NINE

SUPREME FAITH… MOST SACRED

Supreme faith is the king of all other faiths. It is most sacred, very pure, very nice, consistent with everybody’s code of conduct, easy to follow, good for all times and capable of yielding quick results.

The entire universe is full of the Supreme Being in the same manner as ice is full of water. However, neither the Supreme Being is stationed in worldly objects nor are the worldly objects stationed in the Supreme Being.

The Supreme Being is the creator of all worldly objects. It holds them and feeds them. But the Supreme Being is not Stationed in them. To affirm that all the objects are stationed in the Supreme Being is tantamount to affirming that air is stationed in the sky.

The grand illusion, which is the creation of the inter-ply of the three qualities (saintly, worldly and lethargic), coupled with the Grace of God create all worldly objects.

Foolish people, relying on vain hopes, indulging in vain deeds, and attaining vain knowledge, acquire the quality of the demons. They feel attracted by those qualities and adopt them. But saintly people, being of saintly quality, do not do so. On the other hand they worship God with full faith and devotion – either with the feeling of oneness with God, or with a variety of other feelins, such as of master and servant or of the lover and the beloved.

The doer of deeds with a feeling of attachment towards the deeds worships god of his choice and attains his object soon. He can even reach heaven. Ultimately he must return to earth. One worshipping god with full faith attains Salvation. God helps him in establishing his faith in Him.

Faith and continuous devotion turn one into perfect saint. Even a worst sinner may hope to become a saint.

Lesson to be learnt from this chapter:Faith and continuous devotion lead to attains salvation/perfection.

CHAPTER TEN

GOD’S GLORY

 “God is the creator of all and, therefore, no one can know about the origin of God. It was as a result of a resolve of God that the seven Rishis, the four Sankads and the fourteen Manus, all who control this world, were created. Even the feelings such as wisdom, forgiveness, happiness, power of control over senses and contentment have been created by God.

It is only with the help of one’s own soul stationed in his own heart that he may realize God. God is the beginning, the middle and the end of all. One may realize God by looking at things that are remarkable, full of glory and full of power. All such objects have been created by a fragment of God’s glory. The grand illusion created by him holds the entire universe.          

Thus one may reaize the glory of God by thinking of Varun amongst the sons of Aditya, of Sun amongst astrologers, of Shanker amongst the eleven Rudras, of fire amongst the eight Vasus, of sea amongst water, of king amongst men and so on.

The act of continuously repeating the name of God is the king of all the deeds.

Lesson to be learnt from this chapter: See divinity all around.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

GOD REALIZATION

Asked Arjun: – Is it possible that I may see you in your true form with all your power, grace and Glory?”

The reply was: – “Yes. But not with the mortal eyes. You can see Me with the divine eyes bestowed by Me.”

The Form then revealed to Arjun had many faces and many eyes. It consisted of a variety of strange forms, all dressed in divine apparels, fully decorated and armed with all sorts of weapons. The entire form looked strange and Limitless. All over it was divine perfume. The brilliance of one thousand suns put together could hardly equal its brilliance. All parts of the universe could be seen in that Form. The Supreme Being, the Rishis and the divine serpants were also in that Form. One could neither see nor perceive its beginning, its middle and its end. Arjun described it thus: –

“I cannot see its beginning, its middle or its end. Eyes are like Sun and Moon. Mouths are like burning fires. It contains the Earth, the Heaven, the intervening sky and all the directions. Everybody is getting afraid after seeing this Limitless Form. It has many facets, is very bright and touches the sky. All that can be seen around is annihilation. All the known warriors are seen entering its fierce mouths and getting perished therein. Who are you?” asked Arjun.

The reply was: – “I am Time (the destroyer) and am here to annihilate this world. All these warriors are bound to be killed. Be the means, attain victory and rule your kingdom.”  

Arjun told Lord Krishna that like others he too had lost his bearings and was not finding peace and solace. He requested him to show his Chaturbhuj (Human with four hands) Form.

Lord Krishna revealed to him his Chaturbhuj Form also and told him that none had seen it before and none of two forms could be seen by Penance, Charity, practice or knowledge of scriptures.

Lesson to be learnt from this chapter: Have enough devotion/intellect to see the truth as it is.

CHAPTER TWELVE

PERFECT DEVOTION

Arjun asked: – “What is better … worship of the abstract or the worship of God after ascribing him a Form?

The reply was: – “The first is more advanced form of meditation and therefore, more difficult. People, who themselves have forms, find it easier to worship God after ascribing to Him a Form. Otherwise both the methods are correct.

There is yet another method which is simpler and easier. Have perfect faith in God, devote yourself to God and dedicate all your deeds to God. Very soon you will be relieved from this turmoil of the sea of death.

Try to have perfect devotion with the aid of Mind and intellect. Mind should be applied towards devotion by continuous practice. If that process is difficult try to do all your deeds for the sake of God only. If you find that process also difficult try to feel no attachment towards the results of the deeds. That, by itself, will result in the attainment of peace.

Do not think ill of others. Have love for others without regard of personal gain. There should be no ego. Happiness and unhappiness should be considered alike. Try to forgive even your enemy. Be content. Have control over senses, mind and body. Have absolute faith in God and fully devote your mind and intellect to Him.

Do not stir commotion in others. Do not permit others to stir any commotion in you. Be free from ambition and grief. Do not take sides. Complete the work for which you are destined.

Avoid feeling exceedingly happy about anything. Avoid feeling envious. Have no desire. Never repent. Leave the fruits… good or bad … of all your deeds to God.

Remain steady whether you be among friends or amongst enemies. Regard honour or dishonor alike. Have no craving for heat or cold, happiness or unhappiness. Be free from attachment. Regard praise and abuse alike. Remain content. Have a steady mind. That should be your code of conduct.”

Lesson to be learnt from this chapter: Always remain steady.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

BODY AND SOUL…. DIFFERENCE  

“So many questions crop up. What are you? Are you the body or are you the soul? Is your body part of something bigger, brighter and better? Why has it been seperated from bigger body? Wherin lies the salvation of soul?

What is body? What is soul? How body and soul get together? What is the cause of rebirth?

True knowledge is to know the answers of these questions.                               

The body cinsists of five elements (earth, water, fire, air and sky), ego plus intellect plus the illusion created by the interplay of the three qualities (Saintly. Worldly and Letargic), plus ten organs (skin, smell, taste, speacg, ears, eyes, hands, feet, genital organs and anus), plus the feelings (desire, jealousy, happiness, unhappiness, awareness and aim), plus rest of the body. The forms may be different, but these component parts in each body are the same.     

It is the Supreme Being, who puts life into the body. The Supreme Being has no beginning and no end and is beyond the scope of three qualities and the ten senses enumerated above. But He knows their working. The Supreme Being is all pervading but without any (feeling of) attachment. It is all pervading like the sky or the rays of the sun.

Life is created when the Supreme Being comes into contact with body. The part of the Supreme Being that enters body, gets attached to the body by means of the three qualities (saintly, worldly, Lethargic) to which it has become firmly attaced.

The Supreme Being is beyond the scope and the influence of the aforesaid three qualities. The separate flame of life (soul) in order to be one with the Supreme Being, has to attain similar status – it has also to reach beyond the scope of three qualities. Then only the Salvation is possible.  

Lesson to be learnt from this chapter :Detach from illusions and attach to Divine

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

DIVISION INTO THREE QUALITIES

“What is your aim?” True wisdom or right course of action? If that be so follow the course of saintly quality and all that it implies. It will lead you to contentment and wisdom. After death you shall attain Heaven and coming back to this earth you shall be born in good family.

In case your aim is to attain worldly objects follow the course of ‘Worldly’ quality and attain all it implies. It will create greed in you, make you work hard for the attainment of your objects. Take you through the illusion of success and ultimately leave you unhappy. After death you eill be born amongst the people of the same quality.

In case you cannot raise yourself beyond useless efforts and seek lethargic or idle pleasure, follow the course of ‘Lethargic’ quality and all that it implies. If you die in that stage, you may be born low, even as an insect or a cattle.

By making effort you can change over from one quality to another. Suppress ‘worldly’ quality and ‘Lethargic quality in yourself and you will attain ‘Saintly’ quality in abundance. Similarly if you suppress the ‘saintly” quality and the ‘Lethargic’ quality in yourself, you will get the ‘worldly quality in abundance. Suppress both the ‘saintly’ quality and the ‘worldly’ quality in yourself and much of what would be left in you would be the ‘Lethargic’ quality.

If your aim is to achieve Supreme Nector, Supreme righteousness and the everlasting Bliss, try to be one with God. For that you have got to leave the feeling of attatchment behind and go beyond the ambit of the three qualities. One need not hate or despise any of these three qualities. However, to be one with God and attain everlasting Bliss, one has just to leave them behind.

Lesson to be learnt from this chapter: Live a simple life-style that matches your vision.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

TO BE ONE WITH THE SUPREME BEING

 “If you have a look at the tree of life, you will find everything topsy turvy.The roots are above and the branches are below. Down below the growth is luxurious and it spreads in all directions. But there is no firmness in the branches.

 The root is the Supreme Being. The branches, spreading downwards, are watered by the  three qualities and their growth reaches all directions.

The main branches are of saintly people, of worldly people and of Lethargic people, Desire, attachment and ego keep the people of each branch fastened to their own branch, and its subsidiary growths. The directions of these growths is determined by the deeds of the people. Mind and senses are the feeders of these branches.

One should never forget his main root and keep on thinking what is best for him. He should prune all the unnecessary growths. For that the only weapon available is the feeling of non attachment. After having finished the pruning you shall be able to concentrate on the main root.

Soul is eternal. Body is perishable. God alone is worth knowing. Take the help of scriptures, purify yourself and make further effort. It is only then that you can attain True Knowledge. Without purifying oneself it is not possible to attain True Knowledge. Effort otherwise is useless.

After one has got away from the unrealities of life and become one with the Supreme Being, there can be no rebirth.”

Lesson to be learnt from this chapter: Give priority to Divinity

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

NATURE …DIVINE AND DEMONLIKE

“One should always act according to Laws and Traditions, and take their guidance, otherwise nothing shall be achieved. The feelings of attachment, greed and anger are tree doors that lead to Hell. Avoid them.

The saintly nature consists of :- (1) Fearlessness, (2) Cleanliness of mind and body, (3) Devotion towards God, (4) Acquisition of true knowledge, (5) Suppression of the senses, (6) Study of scriptures, (7) Recitation of God’s name, (8) Taking pain in following one’s own code of conduct, (9) Simplicity of mind, inner self and senses, (10)Non-violence in all its forms, (11) Speaking Truth in a pleasant manner, (12) Absense of anger, (13) Non attachment, (14) Peace of mind, (15) Not speaking ill of others, (16) Kindness towards all, (17) Forgiveness, (18) Patience, (19) Lack of ego and (20) Feeling ashamed while doing something against Laws or Traditions.

The demonlike nature manifests itself in (1) the show off, (2) pride, (3) ego, (4) anger, (5) harsh words, (6) lack of knowledge and (7) falsehood.

People having the nature of demons think that there is no one on whom they can rely, that the world is without any Truth and without any Supreme Being, that the main object of life is to enjoy, and it is because men and women get together that children are born. The acquisition of wealt is their main aim and they are unmindful of the means, which may be fair or foul.They remain very attached towards the results of their deeds. They remain tied down to the ropes of vain hopes. They seek happiness but in its place they get worry and restlessness. They feel that they are strong and shall be able to subjugate their enemies. They consider themselves superior to others. They act even against Laws and traditions. They are sinful and cruel towards others. They are the cause of their own degradation and go down towards dirty Hell.

Saintly Nature leads to Salvation and demon like nature to bondage.

Lesson to be learnt from this chapter: Being good is a reward in itself.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

THREE KINDS OF FAITH

Arjun asked, “Why is it that one should act according to Laws and Traditions? Is perfect faith and devotion not quite enough? What is the quality of a person having perfect faith and devotion?

Lord Krishna replied: – Perfect faith (confidence) or devotion (sincerity) is a must for the achievement of any object…be it for this world or for the next. It is better if it is of saintly quality. The quality of a person determines also the nature of his faith and devotion. A saintly person, while doing deeds according to his own code of conduct, follows Laws and Traditions.

 Food habits and deeds of persons of three different qualities are of three different kinds.

  1. A saintly person will eat saintly food, do saintly deeds, penance and charity and have saintly faith and devotion.
  2. A worldly quality will eat worldly food, do worldly deeds, penance and charity, and have worldly faith and devotion.
  3. A person of Lethargic quality will prefer food creating lethargy, do lethargic deeds, penance and charity and lethargic faith and devotion.

Thus the faith and devotion of persons of each class will differ materially from the faith and devotion of other two classes. In each sphere a member of any particular class will follow the pattern of his own quality.

 The Supreme Being is called by three names. When a good deed is started in His name, He is called “Om”. When one dedicates his deeds to God, he calls Him by the name “Tat”. In ultimate analysis, the name of the Supreme Being is “Sat” (Truth).

Lesson to be learnt from this chapter: Choosing the right over the pleasant is a sign of power.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

SALVATION BY RENUNCIATION

“There need not be renunciation of deeds. It is enough if renunciation is of the feeling (1) that one himself is the door of the deeds and (2) of attachment towards the results of the deeds. This latter kind of renunciation is excellent and most desirable.

Penance and Charity, being good acts, need not be given up. Such acts, if done in a saintly manner, purify the inner self. Other deeds may have defects. But they too need not be given up. It is enough if the feeling of attachment towards the results of those deeds is given up. And renounced. There after those deeds become non-deeds and yield no result – nether piety nor sin.

Even the renunciation of the feeling of attachment towards the results of the deeds is of three kinds. Similarly the deeds, the doer, the intellect, the aim and the happiness are of three kinds each.

If doing a saintly deed, there is no pride in the doer, and there is no wish for the results of the deeds. It is done without any feeling of attachment and without any anger.

The effect of these three qualities on the Society has been to divide it into four classes – the intelligentia, the warrior class, the traders and the doers of rough work. The work of each class is different, but in itself, it is neither good nor bad. Any person, to whatever classification, he belongs, may attain salvation while doing deeds according to his own code of conduct. The method, which shall have to be adopted, is to convert deeds into non-deeds by giving up the feeling of attachment towards the results of his deeds. When that stage is reached, the deed of that person will turn into a big zero resulting for him neither in piety nor in sin.

As long as one confines himself to deeds strictly in accordance with his own code of conduct, he cannot commit any sin. However, if he tries to deeds according to the code of conduct meant for others, all that he will experience is fear. One should follow well his own code of conduct.Thet is the easiest method of achieving salvation.

Remain unattached and thereby convert all your deeds into non deeds, acquire pure wisdom, lead quiet and healthy life, eat light food, be the master of your mind, body and speech, give up anger, control the innerself and devote yourself to God. Give up pride, reliance on body force, ego, desire and anger. Thus, even while doing all sorts of deeds according to your own code of conduct, you shall attain inner peace and ultimately salvation.”

Closing the sermon, Lord Krishna asked: – “Have you got rid of your false notions? You will not be able to rise above your inherent quality because of these false notions. You are of warrior class and that quality of yours will assert itself and lead you to war.

Listen to my teachings once again. Think of me alone. Have faith only in Me. Have respect for Me always. I love you, I promise that ultimately you shall attain salvation.”

Arjun replied: – “All my false notions are gone. I have become wise. I shall act as directed by you.”

Lesson to be learnt from this chapter: Let go, let us move to union with God.

…………….

Note – Karma Yog leads to Yoga Budhhi (True intellect) and Yoga Budhhi to Sankhya Budhhi (Salvation). Karma Yog includes in itself – (1) Balanced mind (Samatva Budhhi), (2) Path of righteousness (Sva-dharma Buddhi), (3) Devotion (Samarpan Budhhi), work not to satisfy ones own ego or anybody else’s, (4) Detatchment (Asang Budhhi) and (5) Whatever comes, accept it (Prasaad Buddhi).    

May 19, 2019 Posted by | General, Social and political values and systems | Leave a comment

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