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Social and political Values and Systems in India.

System of Employment in ancient and modern India

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love, what you do.” 

Introduction – The process of industrialization, modernization have drastically changed the traditional system pattern of occupations/employment and work culture of India. Specially 21st century led to the rapid advancement in information technology. It has completely changed the modern employment system. From community-based, it has become individual based. It has given freedom to individuals to choose any profession of their own choice/liking, without making them mature enough to know what they want. Growing aversion for traditional occupations has adversely affected employment prospects of many youth, especially unskilled/semi-skilled workers living in rural areas.

The history of the employment pattern in Indiacan be divided into –

System of Employment in ancient and medieval India

(From beginning up till 16th-17th century)

Ancient jobs came into existence, because of the most basic needs of human beings. Even today, many of ancient jobs exist still exist despite of digitisation and modernisation. Such as since beginning teaching was considered a noble profession not only in India, but across the world. Writers, accountants, doctors, artists, officers etc held high positions in the courts of kings and monarchs. Architects and builders were in great demand. The history of agriculture in India dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization era. Then there were miners, carpenters, brick-makers, hunters, butchers, massage therapists etc.

Principles behind the traditional way of Occupations – In ancient and medieval India, assignment of work was based on certain realities, principles and way of life –

  • Principle of Varna, Dharma and Karma – Principles of ‘Varna, karma and Dharma’  guided the employment pattern of India.
    • Principle of       ‘Varna’ had assigned duties to different social groups according to their natural instincts and qualities. It did fourfold division of occupations and their performers –       Brahmins, were assigned the work of learning, research and development. Action-oriented Kshatriyas were given the job of defense and maintenance of law and order in the       society; to Vaishyas, of trade and commerce; and to Shudras all kinds of service- functions. Principle of Varna had assigned duties to different groups according to people’s natural instincts and qualities.
    •  Principles of ‘Dharma’ and ‘Karma’ developed clear-cut vision of rights and duties/responsibilities of each group, considering the requirements of different occupations. The system managed well the daily necessities and day to day relation of its members. It  boosted morale of the people and promoted social equilibrium and solidarity. Principle of ‘Karma’       created the work culture. It gave stress to duty.
  • Traditional system of employment based on attitude and aptitude of human beings – The traditional system of occupations had maintained differentiation between various occupations, which was dependent on attitude and aptitude of people rather than on birth. Hinduism believes that the whole world of activities is a result of complex intermixing of three basic qualities of human nature – goodness (Satva, purity, peace and knowledge), Rajas/Passion (associated with comfort and action) and Tamas/dullness (with ignorance, sloth, sleep and carelessness). These qualities determined the tendencies, potentialities, limitations, traits and character of individuals and give them direction for action. It makes individuals different from each other in attitude, aptitude, physical and mental capacity, aspirations, like and dislikes, inclination and expectations.
  • System not too rigid – The system was not so rigid in matter of occupations as had been portrayed by alien rulers. The work in the sectors of agriculture or army was open to all. Members of any Varna did not exercise monopoly or authority over a particular occupation. It is an established fact of Indian History that Brahmin or even Shudras sometimes became the kings. There were times when gap between Vaishyas and Shudras became narrow or when Shudras acquired a better position in the society. Khatriyas and Shudra were accepted and revered as philosophers or spiritual teachers. Great respect had even earned by persons from humblest origin as a right. They had the all opportunity to pursue knowledge and reach up-to the top.
  • Stress on “duty, tolerance and sacrifice” – Whereas, Western cultures have grown around the idea of `rights” forming the natural foundation of human relationship, systems in India evolved around the concept of “duty, tolerance and sacrifice”. Emphasis on duty had made people or groups humble and tolerant. Sacrifice was regarded far more important than success, and renunciation was regarded as the crowning achievement.
  • Stress on ‘Self-discipline’, self-direction and ‘Self-effort’ –The system as a whole  encouraged interdependence in social matters. Each and every social group was expected to lead a self- restraint      and self-disciplined life-style  in all respect, be it in the matter of daily      routine, occupation or inter-group relationship. There was automatic de-centralization of       control systems and authority. The separation of rights and duties       combined with the principle of inter-dependence developed its own system       of checks and balances over arbitrary use of one’s authority.
  • Segmental Ranking according to relevance and contribution to society – There was no hard and fast rule of ranking of different social groups. Ranking of different occupational groups was dependent on factors like relevance, usefulness and contribution of their profession to society as a whole. Other considerations like self-discipline; sense of hygiene and cleanliness (relative purity) on the basis of climatic conditions of the region; morality; knowledge and spiritual standards; conduct and life-style usually determined their social, economic or political status in the society vis-a vis others.  Ranking system did not put 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.

Higher a group, greater were the self-restrictions on its conduct through rituals. Brahmins (intelligentsia) commanded respect of the whole society. They, being at highest place in the society, were put under maximum restrictions. They were supposed to lead a simple life, devoted to the spiritual and intellectual pursuits and denied accumulation of wealth.

  • Respect and honour not dependent on birth – Respect and honour was not dependent on birth. It was the deeds of a person which attracted the attention of the society. Sage Vashishta was the son of Uravshi, a prostitute, but he is highly respected allover India as the principal of the conservative school of Brahmanism. So was ‘Kshatriya’ Vishwamitra, the maker of the Gayatri Mantra, the quintessence of the Vedic Brahmanism, is recited even as of today almost in every house every day and on all auspicious occassions. 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 was the son of a fish-woman. Balmiki, the original author of Ramayana, was an untouchable according to present standards, but is still highly respected.
  • Disassociation between Wealth and knowledge/skills – Unlike West, there is disassociation between Wealth and knowledge/skills. The value system of India has separated wealth from status, power from authority, pursuit and achievement in knowledge from temptations of worldly comforts.
  • Stress on knowledge and duty – Whereas, in Western societies social status of a person or organization has always been associated with material success or control of power, authority. In India, status of a person is determined on the basis of its knowledge, purity, discipline and moral standards.
  • Division of labour – Traditional way of occupation believed in the principle of division of labour. All functions needed for the maintenance and growth of the society were divided into different occupations. On the basis of natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics, each group was assigned a distinct function to perform. Thus the system gave job-satisfaction to almost all individuals except for a few and managed smoothly daily necessities and day to day relation of its members.
  • Automatic system of checks and balances – Indian system of division of labour based on the principle of Varna, Dharma and Karma had developed such systems, that kept control over arbitrary use of any social/local group over others. Separation of rights and duties combined with the principle of inter dependence provided its own system of checks and balances over arbitrary use of one’s authority. There was an automatic decentralization of authority.
    • Each occupational group or caste had an independent entity, having its own hierarchy, based either on a tribal identity or an occupational identity. developed understanding amongst people for their liberties, limits and responsibilities.
    • 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.
  • Not much disparity – Categorization of people as backwards, forwards or weaker sections was almost non-existent at that time. The system was so conceived by the genius sages and ‘Munies’ (intelligentsia of ancient India) that there was hardly any room for any Varna to consider itself, as being placed in greater or lesser disadvantageous position with reference to another.
    Segmental ranking of different groups was done according to relevance and contribution of their occupations to society. Social status of different occupational groups was dependent on their relative self-discipline (relative purity), morality, knowledge and spiritual standards. Considerations of self-discipline, hygiene and cleanliness on the basis of climatic conditions of the region were given importance.
  • No confusion, bitterness, rivalry or frustration on matter of work – There was no confusion, unhealthy rivalry or frustration on matter of work, because everybody had his traditional occupation. It avoided rivalry or bitterness for pelf, power or position amongst different sections of society.

In ancient India, illiterate masses got the benefit of researches and knowledge of intelligentsia – learned sages and Munies. On the basis of their scholarly researches and experiences, the sages prescribed certain guidelines in the form of rituals to for the benefit of common men and keeping order in the society. In modern societies, this job is done by the national governments by enacting laws and forcing people to follow them.

  • Downward filtration of culture – It made downward filtration of culture, sophisticated language and knowledge possible. In modern society, everybody lives in one’s own world, hardly having any interaction with others. There are watertight compartments between different groups living in an area.
  • Principle of ‘Work is worship’ – All occupations were regarded worth pursuing. Principle of Dharma inspired people to do their jobs well, as all worldly honour and spiritual happiness were vested there. It assured the people that proper performance of one’s work, whether high or humble, whether of a priest, warrior, Shudra or yogi were equally important for the society and were, therefore, right, respectable and worth pursuing. It brought worldly honour and spiritual happiness for individuals and provided the whole society a quality of life.

Occupational pattern of India had filled the community with a sense of duty and trained them in      obedience.

  • Sense of duty stopped those in power to exercise coercion      against its working class.
    • Also it prevented resentment amongst masses.
    • It      helped Indians to adjust themselves, without much difficulty, to most      drastic changes in the past.
    • The systems stopped people from taking law in      their own hands. While other nations passed through many bloody      revolutions, India kept on adapting itself to changing times. In ancient      Greece, Rome or other European countries, people were made to work under the threat of a whip.
  • “Adharma”, “Alasya” and “Agyan” responsible for unemployment – Instead of blaming others for unemployment, “Adharma” (immoral behavior), “Alasya” (laziness) and “Agyan” (ignorance) were held responsible for unemployment and for all evils like exploitation, poverty, miseries and helplessness of the people that follow unemployment automatically.

These principles together had helped India to have more production, economic efficiency and specialization in various areas of activities. It had led to accomplish skill in different areas, specialization, success and happiness, decentralized authority and resources, made management within each unit effective and organized human and social behaviour in tune with the objectives of the society.

Salient features of traditional pattern of Employment – The traditional occupational pattern of India is unique in many way. Like –

  • Employment, dignity and honour for all – Traditional/hereditary occupational pattern had provided employment, dignity and honour to all. Each individual and every group served the community in one way or the other and was, therefore, satisfied. All the social groups lived the life of dignity and honour with the feeling that they, too, were contributing something to the society. All castes including untouchables were assigned important social duties. There was no dearth of employment opportunities for persons willing to work.
  • No monopoly over any profession– 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.

HT Colebrooke, one of the early Sanskrit Scholars says, “It may be received as a general maxim that occupation appointed for each tribe is entitled merely to a preference. Every profession, with few exceptions, was open to every description of persons and the discouragement arising from religious prejudices is not greater than what exists in Great Britain from the effects of Municipal and Corporate laws.” (Quoted from ‘Indian Express’, dated 18.9.90, p 8).

In England and other European nations, it was not uncommon for a clergyman, a lawyer or soldier to educate and train his sons for his own profession. The association of merchants or craftsmen, who followed the same profession came to be known as Guilds. These guilds were generally found there in medieval period. The reason why these guilds were formed was to maintain standards, to sell any product for a fair price and to protect the interests of associate members. (https://brainly .in)

  • Local character – The whole of society living in a local area had control over its natural resources. All local groups, whether high or low, living in an area mutually depended and supported for fulfilling different kind of needs and cared for each other. Local character and semi-autonomous nature of the system made close interaction and cooperation between different groups a reality.
  • Combination of inter-dependence and self-reliance – Inter-dependence in social life and self-reliance in personal life were the intrinsic features of ancient system making each local area self-sufficient. Interdependence of different groups made it possible to have close contact amongst the people living in a local area. People whether living in a village or city, were bound together by economic and social ties and had a strong bond of mutual dependence.

Not a single group could claim to be self-sufficient, capable to survive alone and fulfil all needs of its people. Still people enjoyed a large measure of freedom in respect of their personal matters. The system as a whole was capable to fulfil all the needs of its people. There was not much disparity between different occupational groups or between urban and rural people in ancient India.

  • Developed a common bond– The system developed a common bond underlying their activities and minds. There was closeness and cooperation within each and every group, engaged in their own occupation due to common callings, common problems, and common solutions. The whole system together provided the society a quality of life.
  • More convenient and economical – According to “Smritis” the qualities and deeds of an individuals fitted them into a particular group of occupation, not birth. Later on, upbringing, atmosphere and convenience tended to make these occupational groups hereditary. People found it more economical and convenient to practice one’s own traditional occupation. Gradually different hereditary occupational groups emerged in the society.
    • Specialization – System as a whole evolved an atmosphere, where a high level of specialization and wisdom in different areas of activities could be achieved. Being constantly in contact with the family occupation, it was natural for the people to learn maximum about their traditional occupations. The system as a whole had led the society to have more production, economic efficiency and specialization in various areas of activities like spinning, weaving, pottery making, bead making, seal making, terra-cotta, handicrafts, brick-laying, metal work etc.
    • Natural training without investment -The practice of joining the traditional occupation led the people to learn basic qualifications and tricks of the trade within their families itself without investment. Skills, knowledge, intelligence, abilities, and professional experiences and expertise were passed on from one generation to another. Children, while growing up, learnt about hidden intricacies/skills of their profession and solutions of its occupational problems, informally from their elders, with every breath in a natural way. They learnt the skills of the job under the guidance of ‘elders’, while growing up. The system as a whole increased the confidence of the employees and saved them from confusion or unhealthy competition.
    • Spawning bed for professional skills – The system served as a spawning bed for inculcating skills in employees for different types of occupations. The practice of joining traditional occupations had transferred and developed skills and knowledge (technical as well as occupational) and experiences of those, who were already working in that specific area. It was through practice, and experiences; not through formal classroom lectures, which often kills originality and verve of people. By its very nature, it encouraged the development and preservation of local skills. There was a tendency to bring in the most diversified skills to high level of excellence. By its very nature, it encouraged the development and preservation of local skills. There was a tendency to bring in the most diversified skills to high level of excellence.
    • Reservoir of natural leaders – Don Martindale said that India possessed a reservoir of natural leaders, Brahman naturally trained in literary skills, Kshatriyas in art of leadership and different service groups in skills. It has been seen that a Marwari, traditionally belonging to business community, invests his money in share market with more ease and confidence than a graduate from other communities possessing a degree in business management. It was with their sincere efforts that the nation entered into modern era without any cultural break.
  • Job-satisfaction – Hindu philosophy says  “In life, only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe”.  The ancient system of employment gave job-satisfaction to almost all individuals except for a few and managed smoothly daily necessities and day to day relation of its members. All castes including untouchables were assigned important social duties, which gave them a sense of belonging and made them indispensable part of the whole society.
  • Bitterness or rivalry between different occupational groups for money or power was almost missing.

The traditional system of occupation of ancient and medieval India had led the society to have more production, economic efficiency and expertise in almost all the areas and activities like spinning, weaving, pottery making, bead making, seal making, terra-cotta, handicrafts, brick-laying, metal work etc. The system worked so well that when the world was passing through the Dark Age, India was full of light. The first few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. During this period, arts, commerce, crafts, philosophy and knowledge flourished magnificently.

Many travellers visiting India, from alien lands at different points of time, confirmed that India possessed huge wealth, knowledge, and quality of life. It was a cheerful land. Each person found a niche in the social system. Its people reached a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas.

Problems of traditional pattern of employment- Since, most of the occupations were community-based and not individual based. There was not much choice to individuals in matter of occupation in traditional system. With the passage of time, the system became too rigid. It put hurdles on the way of creative minds of some individuals, who were not allowed to pursue work of their interest. The rigidity led to heartburn and heart-burn to changes, somewhere rationally, and somewhere it happened in a jest for change.

India during Medieval Period – During medieval period India was continuously invaded by Turks, Afghans and Mughals. Earlier, they drained out the wealth of the nation to foreign lands.  But afterwards, they conquered and made India their homeland. There were times, when intolerance of Mughal rulers towards their Hindu subjects made it difficult for Hindus to preserve indigenous culture. 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.

It has been pointed out by many sociologists that leading sociologists pointed out, there was no dearth of employment for aspiring workers.  A substantial labour market existed.  In addition to their hereditary occupation, agriculture and army were open to all sections of society.  The basic qualification for belonging to any class was mainly the possession of basic qualifications to that specific job. Such as for belonging to Kshatriya class, bravery and management skill was necessary. This class was most open to anybody irrespective of caste or creed. It has accommodated many, both indigenous or alien people.

Period of transition

(World entering from medieval era to modernity)

Modern period starts after middle ages. Early modern period starts after middle ages.  Roughly from 16th century to the late 18th century was the period of transition. It was the time when industrial revolution had  begun in Europe, though in early stages. It was the beginning Industrial Revolution, which led the world to Modernization. Historians have identified several causes for the Industrial Revolution, including: the emergence of capitalism, European imperialism, efforts to mine coal, and the effects of the Agricultural Revolution. The pace of social, economic, occupational and political changes, brought by modernization and industrialization process all-over the word were much faster than that of agricultural era. It has influenced the thinking, behaviour pattern and work-culture of all the societies.

Process of Modernization and Industrialization – The pace of social, economic, occupational and political changes, brought by modernization and industrialization process all-over the word were much faster than that of agricultural era. It has influenced the thinking, behaviour pattern and work-culture of the societies all-over the world.  

Part 1 (Early Modern Period)

Phases of Industrialization – The process of modernization began and progressed gradually mainly due to industrialization. Following have been the phases of Industrialization —

  • First phase of industrialization (discovery of steam engine) – The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. Mechanization started in England replacing agriculture by industry as the backbone of the societal economy. The exponent growth of textile industry led Britain to new inventions in transportation to transport the raw materials to the factories and manufactured goods to customers. By 1830, steam powered industrialization helped Britain to develop railways, which had facilitated manufacturers a cheap way to transport materials and finished products.

The railroad boom has created hundreds of thousands of new jobs for both railroad workers and miners. The railroad industry spawns new industries and inventions and increases the productivity of others. It, in turn, led to better technology, and increased the total volume of world trade.

In the late 18th century, and during the 19th century Industrial revolution spread to Belgium, Germany, Northern France, United States, and Japan. By and large, those countries benefited from industrialization who had the necessary components of land, labour and capital, and often government support.

With the constant growth of industrialization, demand for raw materials also grew. It also led to the emergence of the concept of capitalism and European imperialism.

  • The second phase of industrialisation (the age of science and mass production) – The Second phase of industrialization used Electricity, gas, and oil to create mass production. It started at the end of the 19th century, with massive technological advancements in the field of industries that helped the emergence of a new source of energy.  Other important points of the second industrial revolution was the development for steel demand, chemical synthesis and methods of communication such as the telegraph and the telephone.  The inventions of the automobile, and the plane in the beginning of the 20th century was done during the times of Second Industrial Revolution.
  • Third industrial revolutions (Rise of digital technology) Third industrial revolutions happened in the second half of the 20th century (around 1970). It used electronics and information technology to automate production. It brought forth the rise of electronics, telecommunications and of course computers. New technologies, have opened the doors to space expeditions, research, and biotechnology. Two major inventions, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and Robots helped give rise to an era of high-level automation.
  • The fourth Industrial Revolution (Era of artificial intelligence) – It is happening right now. The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing. People are experiencing it every day. Everyone uses internet every single day. And its magnitude is yet unknown. Already, artificial intelligence is all around us, from self-driving cars and drones to virtual assistants and software that translate or invest.

Positive effects of Industrialization – The effects of industrialization included –

  • Large scale production of goods.
  • Urbanization or expansion of the cities.
  • Machines have helped people do their work more quickly. It has saved their time and labour.
  • Demand for raw material increased.
  • Productivity has been optimized,
  • Improved access of food and other items to the customers.
  • Considerable rise in the standard of living of the people.
  • Surplus products results in cheaper prices.
  • Significant population growth.

Prosperity and poverty has grown simultaneously during era of industrialization and modernization.

Adverse effects of the process of modernization and Industrialization – The trend of Industrialization and modernity has started disintegrating under its own weight. It has affected the global society adversely in some spheres. Like –

  • Mal-distribution of wealth and power has pushed the world towards many wars including the two world wars.
  • Global warming – Industrialization has contributed to negative environmental externalities, such as pollution, increased greenhouse gas emission, and global warming. The separation of capital and labour creates a disparity in incomes between laborers and those who control capital resources.
  • Creation of Super Powers – Industrial revolution originated in Europe, therefore, during initial period of industrial revolution money power was centred in Europe. It was after Second World War, that USA and USSR emerged as super powers and became financially the strongest. The collapse of USSR in 1990 as superpower, made economic dominance of USA unchallenged.
  • Internationally, the developing and underdeveloped nations are trying hard to make their place in world economy. And within a nation, sharp social and economic differences were seen between different regions, and between rural and urban areas.
  • Industrial Revolution is responsible for dividing the world into “haves” and “have-nots” countries, with many of the latter being controlled by in some the former. 

Part II

India and Britain during Cusp period

The early modern period began in the 16th century. At that point of time Mughal Empire had conquered most of the Indian sub-continent. It had become the biggest global economy and manufacturing power. The status of India and Britain at that time was –

India, before the process of Modernization beganTill the year 1577, during Mughal period Indian sub-continent was the biggest global economy and manufacturing power. As Ałex Von Tunzelmann describes, India was ” a vast, mighty and magnificent empire, brilliantly organized and culturally unified. It dominated a massive swath of the earth.  An average Indian peasant enjoyed  a relatively higher income, and lower taxation. Than his descendants ever would again. Though under Mughal rule, it’s people, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists were allowed the freedom of conscience and custom.” And

Britain at that point of time “At the same point of time, England was an undeveloped, semi feudal realm, riven legions factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate, diseased and stinking masses areas and worked on land, going hungry during the frequent food shortages. They were prevented from moving into industry by the protectionist rackets of guild entry fees Begging was common. Nations ten thousand vagabonds were the terror of the land. Quality of life was not good. About two third population lived at subsistence  levels.” (Ałex Von Tunzelmann, Indian Summer, the secret history of the end of Empire, P. 11-12) .

However, The process of industrialization and modernization Britain and India reversed the situation. India became an underdeveloped country under British domination, while Britain came to be known as an advanced nation.

Britain prospering the most during the cusp period  The process of industrialization had benefited England, the most. It increased its economic and political power. The first Industrial Revolution began in England, and many technological innovations during this period happened in Britain. By 1750, Britain had developed industrialization of its textile industry. By the mid-18th century Britain was the world’s leading commercial nation. Britain first came to trade and not to conquer india. The Anglo-Indian trade was monopolized by the East India Company. The prosperity of Britain due to its industrial growth had led  it towards colonization of India and other lands, eventually building a worldwide British Empire.

The factors, which helped Britain – The factors, which helped Britain in increasing its prosperity along with its political and economic power were –

  • Though it took part in many wars during the 1700s, but none of them took place on British soil,
  • Political stability – By 1750 Parliament’s power far exceeded that of the king, and its members passed laws that protected business and helped expansion.
  • Its citizens did not seriously question the government’s authority.
  • Took initiative to do a series of inventions built on the principles of mass production, mechanization, and interchangeable parts.
  • Built up the economic practices and structures necessary for economic expansion,
  • Banks were well established, and they provided loans for businessmen to invest in new machinery and expand their operations.
  • Encouraged experienced persons having experience with trading and manufacturing goods.
  • By 1914, two great canals shortened sea journeys by thousands of miles. The Suez Canal built by the British and French in the 1850s linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, and Panama Canal (completed in 1913). It encouraged trade and transportation between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. With the beginning of sea travel, journeys that had once taken months or years reduced to days or weeks.

The benefits and power, England got from its Industrial growth led it towards colonization of other lands, eventually building a worldwide British Empire.

Factors that pushed India backwards India lagged much behind the European powers for almost 200 years after the process of modernization and industrialization began there. The progress remained very slow as far as modernization and industrialization during the first two phases of industrial revolution, the first one, which revolutionized agriculture and textile production and the second one, when science was fused with technology – 

  • India was under British domination. The policies followed by the British rulers in India was not favourable to the interest of the country.
  • British imperial rule tried to undermine every pillar of old agricultural societies. It changed the traditional job-pattern and work culture tremendously. In agricultural societies, economics, employment and work culture revolved around long lasting structures.
  • Initially the changes, brought in by industrial revolution, were opposed strongly by forces of feudal agrarianism, landed gentry, traditionalist, superstations and social reformers/cultural elite.
  • Exploitative policies of British rulers –  
    • The colonial rule destroyed textile and handicrafts industries through their policies.
    • Flooded the market with machine made goods cheaper than hand-made products.
    • Indian farmers were forced to produce cotton plantation so that it can fuel English factories. It primarily remained producing country which ultimately retarded the industrial development of the country in its early period.
    • Britain policy of ‘divide and rule’ to perpetuate its rule, led to inter-caste/inter communal rivalries, inter group conflicts, which has done irreparable damage to India.

India under British dominationDuring first two industrial revolutions and initial period of modernization India was under British domination. The progress of Industrial development in India remained was very slow for about 200 years, when India was under  British rule. India remained to produce low technology, low productivity, low wage and low profit items. As against this, Britain, along with other European nations, was producing high technology, high productivity, high wage and high profit commodities.  It left India economically far behind the advanced nations.

Britain used India for its own advantage – For British rulers India was a source of raw materials for British industries and a market for its finished products. They flooded the Indian market with machine made cheap goods, Seeing the growing demand for raw material, British rulers forced Indian farmers to  grow cash crops in place of food crops and to  produce cotton plantation, which can fuel English factories. It resulted in awfully deadly famines in India.

Be it the pattern of occupations/employment or work culture, everything, started changing drastically. From community-based, it has become individual based. It has given freedom to individuals to choose any profession of one’s own choice/liking. Such a change has led to growing aversion towards the traditional occupations. And it has adversely affected employment prospects of youth, especially unskilled living in rural areas.

The first industrial undertaking was established in India only after the first railways had been constructed in 1851. The development in 1854 of the cotton textile industry in India – the first important large scale industry marks the dawn of a new industrial era in India. Throughout British rule, India mainly remained the source of raw materials for British industries and a market for its finished products. India remained to produce low technology, low productivity, low wage and low profit items. As against this, Britain, along with other European nations, was producing high technology, high productivity, high wage and high profit commodities.  It left India economically far behind the advanced nations.

Changes in the system of Occupations in Independent India – The modernization and industrialization process, especially under the guidance of British during the 19th Century changed the scene. Gradually, many traditional occupations became less paying and were regarded more hazardous and more time consuming.

White collared jobs gained importance – White collared jobs gained importance. The more, a person withdrew from physical labour, the more civilized, honored and qualified he was regarded by the modern society. It resulted in discrediting many traditional occupations and in destruction of Indian handicrafts and cottage industry.  It scattered the efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsman, weavers etc.  A few of them joined modern occupations. The majority could neither enter the modern sector nor stick to traditional occupations considering the menial work derogatory.  They had no option, but to either join the band of agricultural laborers, industrial workers, marginal labour or increase the number of unemployed. The outcome of such a development has been the casualty of workers, first, their work style, commitment, motivation and culture afterwards. Many groups had lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride.

Some entrepreneurs with money, education and awareness did market surveys and hijacked many traditional occupations.  Occupations like mechanization of fishing or leather industry were modernized by them and made profit oriented. Even less capital-intensive occupation, such as barber, washerman etc., have been taken up by educated middle class. Hitherto, these occupations were viewed with disdain and contempt by modern society. These have been, therefore, re-christened as saloon, laundry etc. It employed workers, largely from poor traditional workers, earlier practicing such occupations independently.

Technological development in India after IndependenceThe Pace of Technological advancement was quite slow immediately after Independence. There were many constraints at that time, like

  • Political constraints – The imperial rule of about 200 years had left behind in 1947 not a unified India, but about 560 princely states, big and small. After Independence India aimed to build up a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy  and move forward quickly and establish a new economic order in which common people could have better deal. It has chosen the most difficult form of government, democracy, along with the concepts of Welfare State and development Administration. Its survival is a miracle. When British left India, British PM Churchill had warned that  its public service would collapse and country would fall back rapidly ‘into the barbarism and privations of Middle Ages.’ But not only that democracy in India (poor, diverse and divided) survived, but prospered as a world’s largest democracy. Thanks to the efforts and vision of Sardar Patel, Deputy PM and First Home Minister of Independent India.
  • Disturbances – Very few nations in the world have started out with greater initial difficulties of political, economic, social and administrative character as India had to do. The partition of the nation, unification of the country, the three wars (with China  1962 and with Pakistan in 1965, and 1971), the swelling streams of nearly a crore of refugees from Bangla-Desh and from Sri Lanka, divisive forces like casteism, communalism, Naxalism, terrorism and regional separatist insurgencies etc, which base themselves on cultural and linguistic variations of the country had been posing a threat to the unity and stability of the nation as a whole.
  • Absence of enough capital or skilled personnel – Apart  from it, India faced other problems as well soon after Independence. In the absence of enough capital or skilled personnel or able management and efficiency organisation, the level of productivity has remained low, leaving little surplus for saving and capital formation.  In addition to all this, by and large, the absence of able and honest leadership and lack of efficient and clean administration are the main reasons for persistent economic backwardness.
  • Lack of infrastructural facilities – Over and above it, there has been other constraints like poor capital formation, pervasive corruption, and lack of infrastructural facilities. In the absence of proper transportation (rail and road) and communication facilities in many parts of the country, regional imbalances as industrial development could not be attained in those regions, which have huge development potentialities. There has been a wide gap between Targets and Achievements.

Initially slow pace of development – After independence, India worked mainly on mining, textile, iron and steel, and chemical sectors. Though the pace of industrial development remained slow for quite some time. But what appeared as an unattainable dream in early ‘60s, when the space program was born with establishment of ISRO, it tried its best.

After third Industrial revolution – Despite all the constraints, India has not only picked up the backlog, it has missed during first two industrial revolutions, but by the time third industrial revolution happened during 1970s, it emerged as one of the most successful in the world after third great information technology revolution. Earlier in the eyes of Western society, India was supposed to be the land of ‘mysticism, poverty and snake-charmers’. Now it is known as a nation, which plays with the “Mouse”, while present Prime Minister Modi describing its role in IT sector all-over the world.

With Liberalization, dreams appeared to come true – The dream appeared to come true, when through economic reforms in 1990’s   government in India tried to push aside its suffocating red tape of India’s quasi-socialist controlled economy and unleashed the country’s entrepreneurial spirit. By 1990, several key sectors of economy like automobiles, pharmaceuticals, construction and telecommunication have undergone a virtual revolution. Between 1999 and 2002, India started progressing,  especially its the IT industry developed at a very fast speed.

Since the early 1990s, the Indian IT industry has been growing at a phenomenal rate with several phases of growth and development over the last three decades. Digital technology, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, etc., are all common words today. Bangalore, one of the most dynamic cities in the world, also known as the Silicon Valley of Asia, is in India. Bangalore is home to multinational software companies, hundreds of start-ups, and tech companies that implement the latest technologies to deliver new products to the market. The future is here, and it’s definitely in India.

Progress during 2002 to 2012 – In the decade from 2002 to 2012, India was at the path of progress. The government was able to reach out to the people, providing communication through networks in remote areas, disaster warning systems, quick resource surveys to target ground water, save our forest cover and so on. The dreams of many Indians in the agricultural, scientific, artistic, cultural and social fields have also come true.

People’s expectations risen – People’s expectations from the government has risen. Now it desired to come out of the narrow confines of casteism and communalism and take a place in the modern economy. But soon, people’s aspirations got a set-back and the growth slowed down because of scams and corruption at the highest level of the government. A result Congress government was wiped out in the general elections of 2014 and Modi Government came in.

Under Modi government after 2014 – After 2014,under Modi government, India emerged as a strong nation and people have started dreaming about a prosperous India without poverty, an India strong in trade and commerce, an India strong in many fields of science and technology, an India with innovative industry and with health and education for all has remained just partially realized.

Present position – Demographically, India is a young nation. At present, 70% of its population is younger than 35 today. If the government in India wants to create jobs for 400-500 million illiterates and 200-250 million semi-ill-literates, that too, of their choice, it is practically impossible. For youths born and brought up in Independent and economically liberalized India, the atmosphere has become stifling.  The main reason behind it is the issue of unemployment or under-employment.

Effect of Corona infection (COVID-19) virus on employment – Right now, India, a country of 1.3 billion people, is facing one of the biggest crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic. It is likely to result in economic recession. It has induced market instability and nationwide complete or partial lockdown in India since March 25, 2020 to fight COVID-19. Since then thee has been a sharp rise in unemployment and stress on supply. Estimates of job loss showed that 80% jobs were affected in urban economy, most of which were self-employed. 54% jobs were affected in rural economy, most of which were casual employment. (June 11 2020, https:// economictimes.indiatimes.com) 

Changes in matter of employment due to Political, social, and economic reasons –   Modernization and Industrialization has brought in many drastic changes in the Indian society  especially after Independence. There have been many changes in the pattern of family life, values, attitudes occupational and economic life, work-atmosphere, business culture, power equation, political environment and inter-relationship of various individuals, groups and organizations.  There had been shifts in population, ecology, and technology. Following are the changes which have been brought in by the process of industrialization and modernization –

  • Emergence of new social classes (capitalists, a working class, and the middle class)  – The erosion of traditional pattern of occupation divided Indian people created new classes in the Indian society: –
    • People, for whom work was essential for survival. (Lower class people)
  • People, who were educated and loved to work for self-advancement and prosperity (Middle class people).
  • People, who lived on other’s labour benefiting from their position in society.(Upper Class persons)
  • Developed mass-culture – Industrialization has initiated the culture of mass capital, mass production, mass-consumption, mass media and mass democracy.
  • Money the prime motivator of workforce – Industrialization shifted the attention of the people to generate more wealth. People were desperately dependent on money for their survival. Money became the prime motivator of workforce, the main tool of social control and political power. (Toffler, Power shift) The most basic struggle was over the distribution of wealth-who gets what?
  •  More freedom to individuals to select occupation of their choice – There  is no doubt that Industrialization has given more freedom to individuals to select occupation of their choice. They could feel more liberated, while living in anonymity in urban areas.
  • Dependence on machinery increased – Gradually it has increased dependence on machines. Machines are usually heavy, rigid and capital intensive. Initially work in factories  was unskilled, standardized and broken into simplest possible operations. All the workers were equally good, easily interchangeable like parts of a machine. Numerous unemployed people were always available. The workers were kept ignorant and powerless by keeping information restricted. Workers were chained to industrial discipline. Their life in the factory was tightly regimented.
  • Formal income-generating skills training programs – Industrialization along with the process of modernization had changed tremendously the system of transferring knowledge and skills of various professions, shape of job-market, opportunities for employment and work culture. Instead of learning the tricks of the trade from their elders and getting advantage of their long experiences, the people learn about income-generating skills in the educational institutions. Slowly and steadily importance of formal degrees and certificates has increased for getting employed.

There is no doubt that India’s developmental needs require to harness science and technology in order to develop a modern India. However, the present employment pattern has created some problems as well.  

Adverse effect of modernization along with industrialization on Indian society – Industrial revolution along with modernization process together has changed the power structure, values, work-culture and socio-economic-political atmosphere of the whole world, including India.

  • Too many changes overloaded the people – In the present space age, everything is moving very fast including knowledge, due to revolution in information technology. It is increasing faster than human ability to handle it. Before people could cope with too many changes in too short a time, the world has moved in for yet third major revolution of Information technology somewhere around 1970. It has again changed the whole scenario.

Too many changes too soon have overloaded people, individuals, organizations and the nation. It has led to disorientation and incapacity of human beings to guide its course. The pace of social, economic and political changes, brought in during the industrial era, was much faster than that of agricultural era. It has influenced the thinking, behaviour pattern and work-culture of the whole of Indian society.

  • Decay of village industries – Industrialization led to the decay of village industries as the competition was directly with the cheap machine goods. The British rulers discouraged local genius, cottage industries and fine arts.  It had made many traditional occupations obsolete.  The British apathy towards indigenous skills, knowledge and occupations pushed millions backward in a very subtle manner and loosened the sanctity of caste rules and caste consciousness in matters of occupation.
  • Many traditional jobs became obsolete – Initially technologies were developed for lessening the strain on human muscles and designed for illiterate labour force. Many traditional jobs became obsolete as they were considered less paying, more hazardous or time consuming. Millions found their income threatened, their ways of work obsolete, their future uncertain and their power slashed.
  • Casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style – Outcome of industrialization has been casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style, commitment, motivation and culture. Many traditional occupations were discredited. Indian handicrafts and cottage industry were destructed. Efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsmen and weavers, many of whom were experts in their respective areas, were scattered. They lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride.
  • Eroded authority of caste in matter of occupation ­-  Industrialization had eroded the authority of caste in matter of occupation. Many castes of rural artisans, craftsman and traditional occupations abandoned their traditional work. They either migrated to cities as industrial labour or became agriculture labour. Many new occupations emerged giving choice of occupation, accessibility to which was through modern education, knowledge of English language and loyalty to British.
  • Unemployment increased – Majority of people could neither enter into modern sector, nor could stick to their traditional occupations. Very few of them could join modern occupations. In the near absence of industrial, commercial or social service activity, most of them had no option, but either to join band of agricultural laborers, industrial workers and marginal labour for their survival or increase number of unemployed or under employed.
  • Benefited rich people – Rich and privileged class took advantage of technological knowledge and new opportunities and became richer. But the general masses became poorer and more miserable. The social and economic condition of rural people deteriorated continuously. Consumerism had increased the economic and cultural differences enormously between the elite and the masses of a society.
  • Created a materialistic world – People got sick of too much consumerism and materialism. There is Mal-distribution of wealth and power. People blame each other as well as their social, political and economic structures and their systems. Authorities deal with the problems haphazardly. As a result, there is chaos, disparity and uncertainty in almost all the nations.

Some people get so fed up with the present trend of consumerism and materialism that they wish to go back to pre-industrial culture.

  • Mal-distribution of wealth – By 1970s and 1980s, signs of crisis in industrial societies appeared. They hold industrialization responsible for gross mal-distribution of wealth between different individuals or groups or nations. It has made some very rich and others very poor. Better-industrialized western nations attempted to influence or control the economy of the developing or underdeveloped nations, in order to increase their power and position in international sphere.
  • Problem of unemployment – Over the years, the number of unemployed has increased.  In 1951, the total number of unemployed was 3.3 million, and Mass unemployment or under employment is one of the major causes of deprivation and disparities in India.  Anybody, who is not gainfully employed in any productive activity, may be called unemployed. It can be of two kinds:

Ø       Voluntary unemployment.

Ø       Involuntary unemployment, when persons are able and willing to Work, but cannot find jobs.

Unemployment may be divided into following groups:

Rural –  (1)   Disguised Unemployment – People apparently seem to be employed, though enough work is not available for all. It is perennial in nature.

            (2)    Seasonal Unemployment – A large number of people engaged in agriculture remain idle for about six months in a year.

Urban – (1)   Open Unemployment- People willing to work have no work. It mainly includes uneducated and unskilled people migrating from rural areas to city and illiterate urban people.

            (2)    Underemployment- it is similar in nature to disguised unemployment.  It results, when a person contributes to production less than what he is capable of.         

            (3)    Educated Unemployment

Conclusion – 

  • Government, the biggest employer – With the adoption of modern concepts of Democracy, Welfare State and development administration has been that the government, instead of being a facilitator, has become the generator/creator of employment and the biggest employer. The government is supposed to create more employment opportunities for the people, whether job market requires employing more people or not. And still a large number of people remain unemployed.
  • Self-employed Economy – Sardar Patel had strongly advocated for self-employment economy. He told N. G. Ranga, the “so-called planning against self-employment economy would jeopardize the foundations of our democratic peasant and people’s economy”. His adversaries had portrayed Him as anti-socialist, because he was reluctant to accept Socialist plans. He made it difficult for Nehru to change economic and social structure of the country. Nehru had to wait till 1951. After Sardar, Nehru got enough time (about 14 years) to steer the ship of the nation as he wished. The result was as J.P. had pointed out, ““ the rich have become richer and the poor become poorer and unemployment had mounted. Those who have voluntarily suffered privation and spent their youth behind bars succumbed to the lure of power and a life of ease and comfort.” Some honest and sincere leaders found themselves helpless against the growing power of socialism and Planning Commission to protect self-employed economy of peasants and artisans.                     
  • Bureaucratic Red tape -J.R.D. Tata had commented, it was “economic dictatorship by the Government. It involved obtaining licenses and permits for everything. You had to go to the minister and the bureaucrats. Then, in addition, government officers were underpaid. That can only lead to corruption. There is tax evasion and corruption in getting things done.”
  • Sound system of education and training is needed urgently – In the 21st century, ‘Power’ is based on knowledge. Knowledge should be easily available to common-men/citizens in almost all the fields. In comparison to knowledge, land, cheap labour, raw material and capital – all these conventional forms of production are increasingly becoming less important.
  • Sufficient arrangement for proper education and training for all – In the present space age, everything is moving fast including knowledge, due to revolution in information technology. It is increasing faster than human ability to handle it. There are changes in the strategy, structure and management techniques. To keep pace with present time, it is necessary for the government to make enough arrangements to give  required education and income-generating skill training to all according to their attitude and aptitude, so that they can survive and live honourably in the real world.
  • India needs low-tech income generating skill-training institutes in large number –  Rush for higher education and degrees have failed to give to the modern youth suitable jobs, and to make modern Indian youth employable. More than increasing the number of colleges and universities, the nation needs more and more income-generating low- tech-training institutes. Low-tech manufacturing skill-training would make a large number of youth employable. It does not require high levels of education. This is the way other nations like China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea have progressed.
  • Demographically, India is a young nation – 70% of its population is younger than 35 today. If the government in India wants to give jobs to 400-500 million illiterates and 200-250 million semi-ill-literates, that too, of their choice, it is practically impossible. For youths born and brought up in Independent and economically liberalized India, the atmosphere has become stifling. One of the  main reason behind the issue of unemployment is that with the rise in education and household income , aspiration levels of educated youth have also risen. They may no longer be willing to join labour force or workforce requiring low skills and low enumeration.
  • Rising expectations of people – People’s rising expectations coupled with failure of political parties to deal with rising unemployment. With higher literacy rate, educated youths dream big and get disenchanted when faced with either no job or menial ones.
  • New Education Policy 2020 Modi government has announced a New Education Policy 2020 which is expected to bring about several major reforms in education and training system of India in India. PM Modi said that this reform would transform the lives of millions of Indians and make them employable. Among the major reforms, the 10+2 structure in the schooling system has been replaced by a 5+3+3+4 structure.

The present is passing through an exceptional time of human history, when the world is leaving behind the industrial era and is ushering into a super-symbolic electronic era based on extra-intelligent networks. People needs to equip themselves through sound system of education and training to gain true knowledge, income generating skills according to their attitude and aptitude and cope with the changes.

August 14, 2020 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

Oldest, Continuous and Uninterrupted living civilization of India

What is civilization – civilization is generally defined as a highly organized group of people with their own language and ways of living, an advanced state of human society containing highly developed forms of government, culture, industry, and common social norms. Civilization usually defines the parameters of the shared way of life in different spheres like having a shared and long-term sense of closeness in language, beliefs, and cultural artifacts such as art, literature, music, and religion etc. over a large population. Its culture enhances our quality of life and increases overall well-being for both individuals and communities.

In the past many civilizations developed in river valleys like Indus Valley in South Asia, Nile river Valley in northeastern Africa, and Huan-He-Valley of China. These civilizations had well-organized cities, powerful governments, complex religions (well-developed religious beliefs), specialized skills and jobs, social classes and methods of keeping records.

About civilization of India – Indian civilization is considered one of the oldest, continuous and uninterrupted living civilizations in the whole world.[i]  Considerations of self-discipline, hygiene and cleanliness on the basis of climatic conditions of the region have always been given importance. When the world was passing through the Dark Age, India was full of light. It has always been a cheerful land. The first few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. Inter-dependence in social life and self-reliance in personal life were the intrinsic features of Indian culture.

During this period, arts, commerce, crafts, philosophy and knowledge flourished magnificently.  Many travelers visiting India, from alien lands at different points of time, confirmed that India possessed huge wealth, knowledge, and quality of life.  Each person found a niche in the social system.  Its people reached a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas.[ii] An average Indian, according to Dr. Albert Swheitzen,  Did not find life a vale of tears, from which to escape at all costs, rather he was willing to accept the world, as he finds it and, extract, what happiness he could, from it.[iii]

In the modern world, no society or nation can exist as a homogeneous cultural monolith.  India specially presents a unique picture of composite culture, which grew out of intermixing of people of different cultures, belonging to different identities.  As India passed through various phases in the past, each and every social group. As is known so far, civilization of India starts with a mysterious culture along the Indus River.

New evidence suggests the Indus Valley Civilization in India and Pakistan, famed for its well-planned cities and impressive crafts, predates Egypt and Mesopotamia. Such continuity and flexibility is difficult to be seen in any other part of the world.  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. However, the influence of Indus Valley civilization has come down to the present generation in an unbroken chain of succession, with some modifications and adaptations. 

Continuous attacks and migrations – Since time immemorial, invaders attacked from the North and led to migrations to South. Local rulers often competed for power. Many new social groups migrated from Europe, Middle East and other parts of Asia. And finally settled down in India. Geographic features tended to separate people into regional and local groups, each with its own way of life, customs and practices, different values, different languages, different scripts, different religious beliefs, different ways to worship, different dress style, different food habits.

Wonderful process of assimilation and fusion of different cultures – The history and culture of India are dynamic. Throughout its long history, local cultures have blended with those brought by invaders. Wonderful process of assimilation and fusion of different cultures has been a continuous process of the India civilization.

In other parts of the world, usually local authorities have tried to convert people of other communities, be it racial, immigrants, locals, tribal, or professionals into their own culture and faith, thus imposing on the newcomers their own value system. But India has shown its unique capability to absorb into its mainstream, all willing new coming social groups as whole into itself without annihilating their originality, internal order, customs or language. It has never tried to liquidate or absorb new groups artificially into its main stream. Rather it has given each one an opportunity to come under one umbrella, to preserve their own culture, style of living and traditions, as well as an atmosphere to flourish in their own way.

Absorptive nature of Indian civilization – Not only that, it has carefully nurtured and preserved the culture of each identity, coming into its fold, it has also absorbed the good points of other cultures also, which has enriched the composite culture of India. More than anywhere else in the world, it 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.

Adaptability of Indian civilization – Indian civilization has survived the vicissitudes of time, saved itself by erosion from within and assault from outside only because of the adaptability. It has taken different shades and meaning with changing times and places. Its character during Indus Valley Civilization was altogether different from what exists today. It is still in a transient phase. The multi-centricity of Indian society has given it a syncretic character, a pluralistic tradition and an absorptive nature of internalizing alien influences. That is why, it presents one of the oldest social institution and a continuous and uninterrupted living culture still existing in the whole world.[iv]


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

[ii]           Basham, Ibid  p9.

[iii]           Dr. Albert Swhweitzen,  Indian Thought and its development.

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

May 28, 2020 Posted by | General | | Leave a comment

Animal instinct, mob-mentality and Humans’ march towards refinement

Introduction

Instinct – An instinct is something you don’t need to learn, it happens naturally, without you even thinking about it. Babies cry by instinct, and ducks follow their mother by instinct. Animals and humans learn a lot of things from other animals and humans.

Animal instinctAnimal instincts are present in all creatures including humans. Initially humans were not better than animals. Like animals, the automatic response to any contingency, all creatures try to protect themselves from harm. They usually do instinctively, whatever needs to be done without thinking or giving second thought to it.

Mob mentality – When a collection of people get together for any specific purpose, it is known as a group. The activities of people are more organized and its behaviour is more socialized in a group situation. But, collection of few people together becomes a mob when they show their protests in disorganized, disorderly and unruly manner; or when it intends to cause trouble to others; or shows their agitation irrationally; or turns violent.

The latest example of mob mentality is Shaheen Bagh protest. It was a sit-in peaceful protest, led by mostly by women. It began in response to the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in both houses of Parliament on 11 December 2019 and the ensuing police intervention against students at Jamia Millia Islamia who were opposing the Amendment. For about 70 days, blocked road affected more than 100,000 vehicles per day, adding hours to some journeys. General public wanted to know whether a few persons were right to protest in such a way causing so much difficulty, in movement, to lacs of people. And also that the protests can be held in common areas indefinitely.

Animal instinct

Every human’s desire, impulse, and feelings are linked to a basic instinct. Like all animals, humans were also born psychologically with some basic natural instincts. Instinct means inherent aptitude, behaviour, impulse or a fixed action pattern that is unlearned. Two most basic natural instincts are self-preservation, and desire for survival and fear. Next to it is the instinct to be able to cope with vital environmental contingencies.

  • Instinct of survival – Instinct of self-preservation or to survive is the most basic, natural and the earliest instinct. When humans are born as babies, they are helpless. They depend on others for their survival, especially the Mother. The need to protect their babies is also there in all creatures – be it animals or humans. The instinct of survival has given rise to the institution of Family.
  • Fear – All creatures suffers from fear. Fear is the main source of superstition. It is the main sources of cruelty, corruption and many other social evil. The biggest fear in human lives is “Fear of Death”. So first of all, it is necessary to eliminate fear of death from the mind. To conquer fear, wisdom is required.

Next comes the number of fear of unknown, fear of failure, loud noises, phonophobia and a fear of falling, basophobia.

People don’t understand or accept this simple fact that ‘Fear’ creates deterrence in whatever one wants to do it in life. Death is a reality and is inevitable.

Be Fearless” – ‘Be Fearless’ that is what Srimat Bhagwat Gita preaches. (Verse 20, Chapter 2, Bhagwat) Fear, insecurity and misunderstanding about human needs give birth to some evils/animal instincts like Ego (Ahankaar), Cruelity (Amanatva), Injustice (Anyay), Lust (Kam/Vaasana), Anger (Krodha)), Greed (Lobha), Superiority-complex/Over-pride, Jealousy, Over-Attachment (Moh) and Selfishness (Swartha).

At present pre-dominance of animal instincts is one of the greatest challenge facing Humanity. To get control over such undesirable instincts and make life happy and civilized, these qualities are required – understanding, sensitivity, perseverance, contentment, good thoughts and good deeds.

Mob mentality

When does a group of people called MobCriminal Code Section 18.2-38 definesMob” in part as “any collection of people assembled for the purpose and with the intention of assault or battery on any individual. “Mob mentality” refers to the tendency/intentions of people to do over reactive things,  to act disorderly or to cause trouble or violence, while in a group of others with the same tendency, which they would not do otherwise.

Mob-mentalityAnimal instincts in human minds incite them for causing troubles for others. Mob-mentality comes into play when a group of people try to gain something, they desire, and which is not possible for them to get decently and single-handedly. Then they form a group of some people to put pressures on other people or State Authorities.

There are also some people, who find it exciting to join a mob without any purpose, as in mobs, they remain invisible. They feel that they won’t be held responsible for their unruly actions, when they are part of a mob. The influence of mob, as a pressure group. increases with crowd size. More the number of people in a mob, more stronger becomes its voice.

Best way to control agitating mob – The emotions of agitating mob remains at the peak. During that period, they are in extreme depression, anxiety or irritability. To control their irrational behaviour at that moment is extremely important. Afterwards time becomes the healer, because memory of the public is too short. And their anger does not stay for long.

At present, the best way for the government to satisfy the mob is to form an enquiry Commission to look into their problems and suggest solutions. This way, at the peak hour of anger, mob feels that their voice has been reached up to the concerned authorities. With time, their anger/irritation calms down and authorities get enough time to resolve the issue rationally.

Human’s march towards refinement The thought  to conquer/overcome undesirable animal instincts came into human mind came long long ago and it started the process of refinement of animal instinct. However, human-beings can never be able to overcome their animal instincts totally. Now and then, it is reflected in the day today their behaviour even now.

What refinement means? – Life is never without a need, never without a problem and never without a hurtful moment. When mind is balanced and strong, even a difficult situation becomes a  challenge and an opportunity to move forward. And when mind is weak, everything seems to be a problem.

It is wisdom a person which protects, guides and helps to attain a meaningful life. Happiness does not depend on what one has. It depends on how he feels toward what he is having. One can be happy with little and miserable with much.

Shaping of instincts – Shaping of instincts, natural, animal or refined depends on following variables :-

Human-mind – Nature has gifted to all creatures a mind/brain (primal brain; hindbrain and medulla) with intelligence. Humans-beings are more fortunate as human mind is a set of cognitive faculties, which includes natural instincts, consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking. These faculties make humans more intelligent than animals.

The power of Human mind is rooted in intelligence. Intelligence capacitates humans to think and experience emotions. It works like a computer. It has certain capacities like reason, morality, consciousness and a sense of responsibility. These qualities of mind have transformed humans from animals to intelligent persons and helped them to come over their fear, leave behind undesirable animal instincts and move towards a more civilized way of life.

Mind works at three levels. At Preconscious levels animal instincts dominates. Sub-conscious mind is the creator of ideas and desires/dreams. A awareness/ego operates mostly in Conscious mind. It is Conscious mind that leads individuals towards positive or negative thinking/attitude.

The development of mental faculties depends on purity of ‘Manasa (thinking), Vacha (speech) and Karmana (deeds).

Thinking  – Thinking is an activity of an existential value for humans’ mind. Thinking processes and creates thoughts. Thoughts create energy and energy transform it into reality. Thought encompasses an “aim-oriented flow of ideas and associations and leads to human actions and interactions.

Mind-setHuman body is a vehicle which is driven by mind or conscience of an individual throughout his/her life. Mindset means mental and emotional framework or thinking of a person. Actions and reactions of an individual depend on his/her mind-set. Not only a person’s life but also one’s all-round personality and performance is deeply affected by it. Mindset may be positive or negative.

Nature has given every human being a mind with power of ‘Viveka’ (intellect), five sense organs and free-will to assess what is good and be happy or misuse these by negative thinking and be miserable.

  • Positive mindset – Positive mindset/thinking generates positive energy/vibes, which leads positive life with focus on the bright side of life and brings positive results. It generates confidence, improves mood and reduces chances of developing stress-related conditions.

It usually focusses on the present. It encourages people to become a better person today than yesterday, to use more sophisticated language, to accept success or failures gracefully, to mix up with good-natured persons and to spend life in a meaningful way. Positive thoughts reinforces understanding and wisdom. Positive thinking leads to happiness, health, wealth prosperity and wisdom.

Positive thinking and controlling both the mind and five sense organs (eyes to see, ears to hear, nose to smell, skin to feel and tongue to taste) are necessary to follow the path of truth, purity, righteousness, compassion peace and love.

  • Negative mindset – One should try to eliminate negative thoughts. People with negative thinking imagine the worst possible scenario in everything. They do not have the confidence to face the challenges of life. The extent of negative feelings can go from anger, frustration, irritability, to even anxiety and depression, passing through many other feelings, none of them pleasant.

The gateways to negative thinking are (hell/unhappiness – Ego, Lust, Greed (misunderstanding about the needs) and Anger. Negative thinking disturbs the balance of mind and soul, and invariably leads to unhappiness, self-destruction. Humans with negative mindset develop a feelings of denial. They try their best to escape from uncomfortable situations or hardships in life. They think of excuses for not doing duties.

PerceptionPerception means the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted. Framing of human mindset in either way depends on the perception of an individual.

Perception is relative. Perception creates one’s reality, one can look at life and see scarcity or abundance. It all depends on ones mindset. It is beyond the capacity of a human to perceive he whole truth.

Each person perceives the world and approaches life problems differently. “Your perception is yours and my perception is mine”. Perception occurs in five stages: selection, stimulation, organization, interpretation-evaluation, memory and recall.

Truth – It is a fact that Truth or Reality always remains one and the same. There are millions of people, each one having his/her own independent understanding. Based on different each persons’ perception, Truth/reality can never become more than one.

Meditation – Looking inwards/self-introspection helps in making a person mentally, emotionally and spiritually strong.

Khalil Gibran says, “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

Attitude and Aptitude– Attitude and Aptitude play an important role in making the personality of a person and deciding his role in life.

  • Attitude is the collection of thoughts and beliefs that shapes one’s thought habits. And thought habits affect how one think, what one feel, and what one does. Because they are related to mindset, it also helps to understand attitude and beliefs.
  • Aptitudes are natural talents, special abilities for doing, or learning to do, certain kinds of things easily and quickly. They have little to do with knowledge or culture, or education, or even interests. They have to do with heredity. There is a close relation between Aptitude and intelligence. In general, aptitude helps humans to make/design their career and occupational decisions.

Attitudes according to ancient Vedic Hindu Philosophy Ancient Vedic Hindu philosophy thinks that individuals differ from one another in natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics. Accordingly it has assigned different tasks to different individuals.

  • About attitudes – According to Hindu Philosophy, thinking of human beings depends on three natural instincts/Gunas/ qualities, Sattva (purity), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (darkness, destruction).
    • Sattva embraces in itself purity, knowledge and harmony. It leads to goodness, joy, satisfaction, nobility and contentment, and frees human mind of fear, violence, wrath and malice.
    • Rajas represents passion, manipulation, action, and energy. Rajas fills human heart with a feeling of attachment, desire – a longing for creating one’s own comfort-zone, and self-satisfaction.
    • Tamas temperament leads to impurity, laziness, ignorance and darkness. It is the consequence of ignorance and it prevents all beings from seeing the reality. Increasing sattva is possible by reducing rajas and tamas, both in the mind and in your body.

Togetherness – The need to protect, preserve, pursue common interests and progress for the common good brought people together. There is a need for humans beings to build their relationship with others with love, laughter, sacrifice, patience, grace and forgiveness. They should avoid fights, anger, lust and greed. For inner peace, they must learn to ignore such things or thoughts that troubles them. There is no need to be jealous of others. Nobody can snatch from anyone anything, what he deserves. What is for you will remain with you. One should be wise enough to understand the difference between needs and desires and luxuries.

Start of the process of refinement, Step IInitially instinct of survival led humans to live together in small migratory  groups,  as wandering “nomadic herdsmen”. In the beginning, Humans were not better than animals.  Their life, as Hobbes describes was, “Nasty, brutish and short”.

Living together had made people feel more secured. Slowly, but steadily, instead of being wandering people, they learnt to live together in a settled life-style. Thus began the process of  refinement over the animal instincts and humans entered into an era of civilized life.

The purpose was to lead a more secure, decent and comfortable life-style. Togetherness made it easier for individuals to refine their animal instincts and to become more humane and civilized day by day.

Need and desire to live together has made individuals more humane. Slowly and steadily people had become so used to living together that it was considered that “if a human-being does not live with men or among men, then surely either he is god or beast.” (Famous Greek philosopher Aristotle)

Formation of groups, Step IIIt is the natural instinct of human mind to belong to one or the other group. On the basis of  their inherent qualities, needs, problems and difficulties, individuals get together and constitute their own independent group.

Differences in attitude and aptitude of different people has given rise to the formations of different social groups in every society. Individuals have become members of different groups for a multitude of reasons, mostly to satisfy their needs to provide companionship, survival and security, affiliation status, achievements or to gain power or control over state authorities as a pressure groups.

Setting up of the norms, Step III – The next step was setting up of the rules and norms. When people started to live together in different groups and got settled in different areas, they had created their own rules, values and systems in conformity with environment of that place.

Earlier their activities were confined within a small area or territory because of primitive communication and transport systems. But slowly, but steadily, with the advancement of technology in the areas of transportation and communication, their activities have spread all over the world. 

Influence of each other on instincts and behavior – While living with their respective groups, individuals’ instincts and behavior are deeply influenced by the thinking and behavior of other fellow-beings. The presence of near and dear ones around them, constantly moulds the mindset of humans toward either positive or negative thinking and behavior. People’s opinion and behavior also get influenced by the ideas of their leaders or role-models.

There are many ways, togetherness in a group can influence behavior of individuals as well as society. Usually interdependence, social interaction, perception as a group, commonality of purpose, and favoritism are the factors responsible for creating different groups.

Classification of society according to their aptitude – Vedic Hindu society has envisaged different activities for different groups of people based on natural instincts,  predominantly psychological characteristics, attitude and aptitude.

  • Persons having “Sat and “austerity, flair for learning and possessing intellectual/spiritual qualities to set standards for the whole society have been put in the category of Brahmins. They have been assigned the work of pursuing knowledge.
  • Befitting to their attitude and aptitude, men of action with `Rajas qualities, having courage, warrior skills, bravery,  leadership quality have been given the responsibility to defend the their people from internal and external aggression, maintain law and order in society and take care of the weaker sections of society.
  • People having business acumen have been given the task to carry on business.
  • People incapable to do the  above three tasks on their own and needing others guidance to perform a job are advised to get engaged in service sector under the guidance of other three categories.

According to Smritis”, it is not birth, but the qualities, attitude and aptitude and deeds, which fitted one into a particular group.[i] But, later on, as the population increased, upbringing, atmosphere and convenience tended to make these groups hereditary.

It is more convenient  and economical for the people also to practice their traditional occupations and acquire its basic qualifications from their elders in the family in a natural way. It has been seen that an illiterate Marwari  can invest his money in share market with more ease and confidence than a person having academic qualifications in this area.

Ideal state of Greek philosophers -The great ancient Greek  philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, had dreamt of a similar kind of classification for their Ideal State like Varna System for their Ideal state.

Principle of rule and subordinationGreek philosopher, Aristotle, has said that in Nature, there is a principle of rule and subordination, at large. It appears specially in the realm of animate creation.

By virtue of this principle, soul rules the body, those who possess the rational faculty of soul rules those, who possess only physical power and the faculty of understanding the directions given by another person’s reason. It is clearly natural and beneficial to the body that it should be ruled by the soul. So is the persons with strong mental power to guide the society.

Again it is natural and beneficial to the effective part of the body that it should be ruled by the mind and the rational part, whereas the equality of the two elements is always detrimental. Aristotle says that what holds good in man’s inner life, also hold good outside it.

Their ideal society was divided into following four sections: –

  • Philosopher king    –         For intellectual work for the society,
  • Army men              –         To protect the nation from outside invasions and maintain internal peace and order, and
  • Business community     – To do all kinds of transactions and
  • Slaves                           –   To do manual work

In their ideal state, all the people were supposed to belong to one group or the other, not on the basis of birth, but on the basis of their capabilities and aptitudes. Whatever Greek philosophers had dreamt, Indian society through Varna system has converted it into reality.

Nurture the nature – One needs to come to terms with the forces of nature. Conformity with nature insulates a person from shocks of life, pain and sufferings.

The teachings of Sanatan Dharma  of Hindu epics presents a scientific manual of self-management, self-reliance, and self-discipline, which is relevant even till today. It is based on natural instincts of human beings.  It guides people to assess and understand inherent nature of human beings, accept them and deal with them accordingly.

Conclusion

Take life as it comes – Life does not allow anybody to go back and fix what has been done wrong in the past. Life cannot be changed, undone or forgotten. What is done is done. Struggles are required in order to survive in life because in order to stand-up, one needs to know what failure/falling down means. Therefore, it is necessary to have a positive mindset and try to resist negative, bitter or depressive feelings.

Challenge the challenges – Take life as it comes. Be prepared mentally to face challenges in life and move on. Challenge the challenges coming on your way. Every problem has a solution. So don’t get disheartened. Never hesitate to take hard decisions/strong actions to overcome the hurdles. 


[i]            Varna 180, 21, 23.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | General | | 1 Comment

Hinduism and Caste as a system

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

Introduction – Don Martindale, an American sociologist, a prominent scholar and teacher wrote about Hinduism and caste system as “Caste was the system of social life, in which Hinduism was expressed. …… Hinduism was the ideological and emotional buttress of caste…. 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.”

“Through caste system, India has simultaneously accommodated “it to an almost endlessly varied system of semi-autonomous community and at the same time, it brings considerable unity, harmony and condition of peace.” And

It “succeeded in wielding an enormously varied plurality of semi-autonomous communities arising at many times and in many places and adopting themselves to many different conditions into a single system of society…”

Deep roots ‘caste system’ in India –“Caste was the system of social life, in which Hinduism was expressed.” (Don Martindale) In-spite of all the accelerated changes in the society due to modernization process and tough times, The roots of Hinduism and  ‘Varna/jati-Pratha’, now known as caste system, are so deep that it is virtually impossible to think of Hindustan without caste system.

Caste has its ethnic roots as denoted by Jati, and a ritualistic and symbolic significance in its Varna aspect. It is one of the dominant features still running through the entire social fabric of India. Rules of endogamy, ritual purity, interdependence, specialization and hierarchical order of social units were its important traits.

Caste-system is inseparably related to Hinduism by traditional customs, values and 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.).

Caste for a common-man in India – For a common man in India, caste appears to be a fundamental social institution – a natural, inevitable unit of society. Family, which is a natural unit of an extended family; Extended family of Kula; Kula of a tribe (Vish); and a tribe of a Jana of Jati (Caste). In a way, all are fundamental social institutions. Caste is nothing but a large extended family bonded by same language, customs, thinking and way of living and occupation. It is second only to the family in widening a person’s social radius and in getting importance in his/her private and occupational life.

Closer-relationship with caste-fellows – A person’s relation with members of his caste is closer than with those, belonging to other castes. Caste values, beliefs, prejudices, injunctions as well as distortions of reality are the indivisible part of a person’s psyche and conscience. Caste norms define an individual role in the society. Rules of endogamy, ritual purity, interdependence, specialization and hierarchical order of social units were its important traits. It makes one feel good and loved, when he lives up to the norms, and anxious and guilty, when he transgresses them. It still provides an individual with social security. To foreigners, Varna/caste system represent the ancient culture in its eternity.

Caste taking different shades and meaning with the changing times at different places –  Caste- system,  on which Hindu’s  social structure is based, has survived the vicissitudes of time, and saved itself by erosion from within and assault from outside. Its  adaptability, flexibility and absorptive nature has prolonged its life. absorptive nature has internalized alien influences.  It has taken different shades and meaning with the changing times and places. Once changed, it never returned to its original form. 

The system has evolved its structures and systems leisurely and kept on coping with the slow changes, time brought in. Its character during Indus Valley Civilization was altogether different from what exists today. It is still in a transient phase. It is different in context of village, locality, region or religion.

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.

The process was started with the arrival of Aryans hereditary kinship and tribal groups in India in waves, from different parts of the world. Their mixing up with the indigenous people (popularly known as Hindus) gave birth to caste system. Over thousands of years, the experiences and deep thinking of many learned sages and intellectuals belonging to different communities have contributed to evolve this system.

There is no denial to the fact that during the very long period of its evolution, many attacks were launched on Hindu ideologies from time to time. And also caste system has developed some evil practices. But so far, both have survived   the vicissitudes of time and saved itself from erosion from within or assault from outside. After each assault, Hinduism and its caste system re-emerged with greater force.

In the past, whenever rigid and discriminatory/evil practices of society in the name of caste system suffocated Indian society, 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.

A mechanism to assimilate new groups – Caste system has provided a mechanism, through which numerous tribes and social groups, be it locals, immigrants, professionals, racial  or others. could be internalized and assimilated under the umbrella of Hinduism. Caste-system has created a plural society long long ago. The unique feature of the whole process was that the main society as a whole remained stable, even while offering a place to new groups within its main-stream. The assimilation of was done under Hindu society cordially through caste-system at different points of time, by assigning each new group a separate caste identity.

Preserved carefully the culture of new groups – The beauty of the caste system was that it has never tried to convert, liquidate or absorb new groups artificially into its main stream. Rather gives them opportunity to come under one umbrella, to preserve their own culture, style of living and traditions, and also provides an atmosphere to flourish in their own way. While other races and their religious systems (Christianity and Islam) believe to convert people belonging to other faiths into their own faith, and impose on them their own value system, Hinduism and its caste-system has absorbed other groups as whole into itself without annihilating their originality, internal order, customs or language.

Both Hinduism and its caste system have not become obsolete so far. Had it become obsolete, it would have given place to other systems. Both the institutions have always given the Indian society a distinguished identity and a solid social structure with a system of thought, a way of life, and sense of direction. 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.
  • Whenever in the past, new social groups desired, they were not prevented to join the mainstream. And also the existing internal social was not disturbed, only because of Hindu ideology and its cast system. All the incoming groups were given freedom to prosper according to their internal rhythm. Hindu society did not annihilate the faith, way of living, internal order, customs, culture or language of new groups.   

The caste system was working well in ancient times and still common-men do not find any complaint from any quarters against it. It is the vested interest of few sections of society, which raise their voice against the system. In recent past, they have tried to misinterpret it and portrayed it as an exploitative social system for retaining economic and social status of certain vested interests of upper castes. Indian caste system, which had been evolved in ancient period was an answer to the requirements of those times.

At present, Indian society is also in a state of great turmoil, trying to cope with the new challenges, which is a tough task. Socio-economic-political atmosphere is in a state of flux. Institution of family has lost its sheen. Traditional values are shattered. Political institutions are almost paralyzed. And economy of the nation is in a critical condition. There are many fast moving changes in systems, structure, strategy and management techniques. The main issues before the nation are -population explosion, poverty, resources, enough food, energy, breakdown of law and order situation, work-culture, ecology, climate changes, violence and terrorism etc.

Preference to present requirements over the opinions of past – In a changing world, nothing can be more disabling than its idolization of past; nothing can be more needed than the constant interpretation of past experiences and present circumstances. Present should be a constant challenge to the opinions of past. 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.

New values and systems  always challenge old way of thinking and behaving, no matter how useful they are! It is quite natural that when a new ideology or system is applied in real life situations, it is seen with suspicion. During the  period of its growth, many difficulties comes up. Sometimes undesirable elements/evil practices  develop in the system with changing atmosphere/circumstances. What is needed is try to do everything possible to maintain a fine balance between its theoretical aspect and its practicality.

May 25, 2020 Posted by | General, Social and political values and systems | Leave a comment

Bharat, Hind, Hindustan, Hinduism and Hindu Philosophy and Values

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.

Introduction – The use terms Bharat, Hind, Hindu, Hindustan and Hinduism has historical significance.

India as Bharat –  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,’

How ‘Bharatvarsh’ became Hindustan? –  Persians took inspiration from the name of river Sindhu to use the terms ‘Hindu’, ‘Hindustan; or ‘Hinduism’, ‘Hinduism’. The credit of the emergence of these terms go to Sind river. When Persians conquered the then Indian subcontinent and Greece in 5th century BCE, they termed land beyond Sind river as Hind or Hindustan. People living there were called Hindus from ‘Sindhu’. Their religion and culture were termed as Hinduism.

In Persian, the term Hind was originally used for Sind river, which runs mostly through present day Pakistan, Jammu & Kashmir in India and Western Tibet; the place beyond Sind River was called Hindustan ‘Stan’ in Persian means ‘land’ or ‘country,’ much like ‘sthana’ in Sanskrit means ‘place’); ‘Hindu’ is the Persian equivalent of Iranian ‘Sindhu’ that refers to people, the Indo-Aryans. These terms have been in use in Greek since Herodotus (4th century BCE)..

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

Hinduism – At present, Hinduism (its followers consist of 15% of the world population) comes within the range of one of the oldest and largest religion in the world after Christianity (with 33% of followers) and Islam (with 24.1% of followers).

It is believed that ‘Hinduism’, ‘a way of life’ and ’fusion of various beliefs’, mainly based on the principle ‘Dharma’. During  the 19th century, English writers added ‘ism’ to Hindu. Western thinkers have defined Hinduism as a religion/ a religious tradition or a set of religious beliefs, while translating the term ‘Dharma’ literally in English as ‘religion’. it is  not possible for the aliens to understand the true meaning, ethos and nuances Hinduism.  

Hinduism is not merely a religionHistory is a proof that Hinduism is not merely a religion like other religions, i.e.  Christianity or Islam. The term religion itself as a set of religious beliefs was shaped much later, can be said during Renaissance movement during 14th/15th centuries. And also,  Hinduism as a culture and civilization emerged into the scene centuries before other religions like Christianity, Islam, etc came into existence.

Hinduism a way of life – Hinduism was known at that time as a culture, “a way of life” and fusion of various beliefs of indigenous people living in Hindustan and migrating social groups willing to be merged in the mainstream of Hindustan.

No one can be called as the founder of Hinduism. The blending up or fusion of the language, values, systems  and culture of the indigenous people living in the region with Aryan’s gave rise to Hinduism and its Vedic Culture. It is the fusion of various beliefs.

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.

Hinduism as a religion – 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. Religion which means belief in or worship of God/Gods and a system of religious beliefs and practices.

Hinduism was used as a religion only after the colonization of Indus Valley civilization and influence of Europeans, especially the British. The term religion was used originally to mean reverence for God or the gods, careful pondering of divine things, piety. Before that Hinduism was popularly known as Sanatana Dharma.

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.

The ”Rig Veda” , a scripture of Hinduism, dated to between 1500–1200 BCE 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.

Hindu Philosophy as one of the most scientific ideology – The principles of Hindu philosophy cannot be found in one single authoritative text, nor can it be attributed to one single author. 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.

Hindu Philosophy contains an ocean of knowledge in a jarIn 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’. The Epics ‘Vedas’, ‘Smritis’ ‘Sutras’, ‘Upanishads’, Ramayana, Mahabharat and Bhagvat Gita are not only the religious/spiritual books, but also a perfect guide to living a better life in this world as well as better life after death. It is the gold mine of knowledge. 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 spiritual, phonetics, arts, literature, medicine, polity, or metrics. Its rituals are techniques for leading a harmonious life.They speak of everything- on staying healthy, social evils, improving concentration and tenets of behavior, which are relevant even today.

These Epics “contain an ocean of knowledge in a jar.”[i] Only after raising oneself from ignorance, one can understand the greatness of Vedic literature. A knowledgeable person, like a jeweler, can spot out gems from this ocean of knowledge; pick them up and leave behind the undesired obsolete elements developed into it with passage of time. Its values and rituals give to the people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved.

Vedic Hindu philosophy and other value systems of Hinduism are the gold mine of knowledge, which have always 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. It still commands the respect and attention of an average Indian. Today, when Indians are getting away from their roots, it can make their feet firmly grounded on earth and  instill right values in them.

When 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. 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.

Principles of Hinduism and Hindu philosophy General principles of Hinduism and Hindu philosophy give guidelines to common-men as a purpose to live happily, lead a worthwhile quality of life. It also suggests make the journey of soul better after the death. It speaks on 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. It is important to know about the basic tenets of Hinduism, the religion followed by the majority community living in India since ages. However rituals, customs, traditions of a society should not be mixed up with the basic principles of Hindu philosophy.

Basic tenets of Hinduism and its philosophy. Following are the basic principles/culture and religion of Hindu Philosophy and its importance for the people living in India, where followers of all the religions reside:

  • 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) are the integral part of the same God, and therefore inter-linked. The 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 Upnishads. The Vedas conceptualize Brahman as the “world soul” or “cosmic soul”/Cosmic Principle. In the Upanishads, it has been variously described as Sat-cit-anand (truth-consciousness-bliss) and as the unchanging, permanent, highest reality. Brahman/Parmatma 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 Atman is an integral part of the supreme, ultimate reality Brahman, It is the eternal essence of the universe and the ultimate divine reality.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.
  • 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.

. Philosophy of Bhagvat Gita – Mahabharata and Ramayana are the two great epics of India. The philosophy Gita interesting and useful. 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.
  • Principle of Reincarnation – Hinduism believes in the Immortality of the soul, and the ‘Principle of Reincarnation’ which means that the soul is an eternal 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.
  • The 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 Avtars 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)
  • Victory of Virtue over Evil – Hinduism believes that goodness always wins over evil. Stories about each Avataar inspires and encourages the 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. They inspire the people to follow the path of righteousness. Rituals, customs, traditions of a society should not be followed blindly. It is necessary to understand the purpose behind traditions or rituals. These should not be mixed up with negative thinking, practices or superstitions. Such as festivals of Dussehra, Diwali or Janmashtmi etc. are celebrated to give the people the message that mark that ‘Good always wins over Evil’.
  • Concept of Right And Wrong, according to Indian philosophy – Truth lies somewhere in between various differing opinions. To find out what is really right or wrong, one has to keep a balanced approach. In fact, right and wrong are relative terms, which depend on the total configuration of following four variables of an action. A rational opinion about it can be formed only by keeping these four variables in mind:
    1. Desha (region) – The culture of a place, in which a person is born,
    2. Kala (time) -The period of historical time, in which a person is born,
    3. Shrama (Effort)-The efforts required of him at different stages of Life,
    4. 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’ 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’ is associated with passion/lure for comfort, often makes an individual self-centered. 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. In order to keep oneself away from negative mindset, one should first ‘Think’ before taking any step, be regular, then ‘evaluate’, and make amendments/improvements. Try to be Creative, confident, and punctual, while setting goals.

Inter-play of three qualities – 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 be regular, and inculcate Sattva.

PRINCIPLES OF ‘DHARMA’, ‘KARMA’ AND ‘VARNA’–The foundation pillars of the Indian social structure are the principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma. Together, these principles have given  Hinduism a distinct identity. Doctrine of Varna gives the Indian Society a stable, sustainable social structure. It has served to give Indian society coherence, stability and continuity. It has distributed and organized the performance of various functions systematically according to the attitude and aptitude.

It has organized inter-relationship of various sections of society. 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. The doctrine of Dharma defines the duties and vocations for different sections of society. It has assigned specific roles to different sections of society on the basis of attitude and aptitude, ensures social harmony and prevents rivalries and jealousiesDoctrine of Karma makes the inequalities, prevalent in the society, tolerable to an average Indian.

Focus on assimilation and tolerance for others and interdependence – Hindu philosophy values interdependence, acceptance of others as they are, and tolerance.

(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.

Path of assimilation – Hinduism has adopted the path of Assimilation. It gives complete liberty to all incoming social groups to worship god or goddess of their choice, as well as use their own methods of worship. It does not impose its own codes of conduct on other faiths. It is liberal enough to see atheism as a legitimate pursuit. 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.

Tolerance 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. It accepts that there are different paths leading to God and be humane.

Tolerance is not confined to religion alone.  It has always been seen everywhere in the Indian way of life and is the integral part of Indian ethos and is. Hinduism firmly believes in the principles, ‘Live and let live’, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (The whole world is one family). Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression are the hallmark of Indian culture. At present, 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.

Many times in the past, Indians had accepted oppression and exploitation without much protest, while such situations, elsewhere in the world, would have led to bloody revolutions. Even today, the people are tolerating the criminalization of politics, corruption, scams and scandals and inefficiency of the administration without much protest.  Administration is one such area, where tolerance is harmful, as it not only hinders the development, but also pushes the nation backwards.

Principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma, the foundation pillars of the Hinduism – Principles of Dharma Varna and Karma are the core values of Indian ethos. These principles together has These principles have, so far, contributed to the growth of the Indian society as a whole, in a systematic way. It has prepared an atmosphere for co-existence of different sections of the society – be it ruler or ruled, rich or poor; and held together different castes and communities having diverse languages and practices for generations – thus making unity in diversity a reality.

. Doctrine of Varna – Principle of Varna provided to Indian Society, a stable, sustainable social structure; It has ensured the continuity despite numerous foreign invasions, migrations and assimilation of various groups. It has served to give Indian society coherence, stability and continuity. It has defined, distributed and organized performance of various functions systematically. It has ensured social harmony and prevented rivalries and jealousies; organized systematically the performance of various functions; provided  quality of life to its people.; defined the duties and vocations for different sections of society on the basis of their attitude and aptitude roles; organized inter-relationship of various sections of society.

Assignment of Work – 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.

Focus on attitude, aptitude and deeds – According to Smritis, it is not birth, but the qualities and deeds, which fitted one into a particular group. Such as Sat or “austerity is required for pursuing knowledge, “Rajas is the quality needed for actions of courage, bravery, power and protection of the weak. 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.

According to Varna system, society itself assigns specific tasks to do to different sections of society according to its natural endowment/inclinations, qualities and aptitudes/psychological characteristics.

Work is worship – Hindu philosophy taught people that Work is Worship. All types of work were worth pursuing and respectable. no work is superior/high or humble/inferior/derogatory. Any work done in its true spirit could never be derogatory or a waste.

A work should not be valued so much for its external reward, as for the intrinsic satisfaction towards realization of ‘Swadharma’. Doing one’s Swadharma gives a feeling that s(he) is also an integral part of the society and not an outsider. By doing one’s Swadharma a person earns a rightful place in the 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.

Any kind of work worth pursuing Principle of Dharma tells the people that any kind of work is worth pursuing and respectable, if done in its sincerely. No work is derogatory or a waste. Everyone has come with some  specific role to play in  life, as per one’s own Karmas and destiny. While performing one’s duty/action, one should develop detachment – indicating, one should not bother for fruits of Action.

It assures people that proper performance of one’s work, with honesty and sincerity assures 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. Proper assignment and performance leads the whole society to live quality of life. The idea of white-collared jobs, blue-collared jobs and menial/derogatory jobs is the contribution of Western society, especially after industrial the Industrial Revolution. It has attracted the attention of common men to a great extend in modern times.

Common Dharma for all – There was a common Dharma, which was applicable to all. All the people in the society were governed by Dharma at all times, be it a ruler or ruled, parent or child, teacher or student or man or woman. It provides universal, practical and eternal guidelines to be followed in personal life, family life, community life, social life, professional life and national life. It inspires people to follow the path of righteousness and do their duties earnestly.

Separate Dharma appropriate for each Varna – Dharma also specifies duties, privileges and restrictions of each role separately and their relationship with each other. It prescribes a separate Dharma appropriate to each Varna, each class and each stage of human life. Separate Dharma for different communities is based on inherent qualities, aptitude and potentialities of its members. The social, economic or spiritual Dharma of Brahmin is not similar to that of a Shudra, or the Dharma of a student not similar to that of an old man.

Moulding life according to Dharma not an easy task – Moulding life according to Dharma is not an easy task. It requires a strong will-power and character. Individuals with weak faculties finds it difficult to observe Dharma. Dharma along with Karma is the means to reach up to the desired goals of ones life, the ultimate aim being salvation from the cycle of birth and death.

Karma with Detachment – Doctrine of Karma makes the inequalities, prevalent in the society, tolerable to an average Indian. Karma is perhaps the centre piece 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. For doing so control over mind is necessary. Control over mind is needed for purification of Soul. One should try to practice doing everything in proper manner and in moderation.

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

Knowledge necessary for giving Karma its due meaning – Knowledge is supposed to be necessary for giving Karma its due meaning, direction and value. Ignorance is considered to be leading to futile efforts destroying direction. On the basis of thorough research and experience, Rishis and Munies of ancient India set norms for the ignorant masses from time to time. Knowledge was supposed to be necessary for giving Karma its due meaning, direction and value. Ignorance was considered to be leading to futile efforts destroying direction. Therefore, discipline was inculcated among ignorant masses, and a sense of direction was given to them through infinite variety of rituals, prayers, practices, customs and meditation.

Quest for knowledge – Vedas teach that creation and quest for knowledge is a constant process, without any beginning or an end. It is a never ending process (‘Neti’, ‘Neti’). In olden days, Sages, Rishis and Munies (Intellectuals of that time) believed that even Vedas are not the end for quest for knowledge or prescribes any final absolutes.

As per Gita, senses are superior to the body, mind is superior to the senses and knowledge or intellect is superior to the mind. Gita tells: knowledge is better than abhyas (practice), meditation is better than mi Dayanand knowledge and renunciation of the fruits of action is still better than meditation as peace immediately follows such renunciation.

Gita prescribes for ‘action’/’deed’ combined with intellect. There are choices before human beings – take action with developed mind/intellect or action with weak mind, bridled with desire, based on emotion, impulse, hatred, greed and selfishness. It quite often leads to agitation/aggression and discontent. Intellect needs to be developed to make mind rational. A mind governed by intellect makes a person calm and content.

Sanatan Dharma ( a compact life package) Sanatan Dharma is a set of eternal (beyond the time) values. It is the Universal Truth which sustains the very core of Universe and its beings. It nurtures the basic instincts of human beings over nature, after a deep study of natural instincts, inherent attributes and natural behavioural pattern and takes care of the basic physical, mental and spiritual needs of the human beings at different stages of life. 

After a deep study of natural instincts, inherent attributes and natural behavioral pattern of human beings, Indian philosophy has developed a Sanatan Dharma. It nurtures basic human instincts over nature. In keeping view the felt needs at different stages of life, it takes care of their basic physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the people.

Sanatan Dharma facilitates to achieve Sachchidanand (Bliss, consciousness and delight), to follow one’s Dharma and Karma without difficulty and to lead an ideal way of life. The scheme is in conformity with time and forces of nature, which affects the circumstances of the people. It is applicable to all, irrespective of the Varna, caste, creed or place for all time to come. Even today it is as relevant as it was earlier.

According to it, there are four stages in human life. For living life fully and fruitfully and aging gracefully, everyone one has to pass through four stages of life and perform different duties in different stages of life –

. Stage I – Brahmcharya Ashram – During this stage, Society is the giver and individual recipient. Tasks of an individual are Learning and acquisition of knowledge of all Aspects and ramification of Dharma. For mental and physical discipline, learn to get control over senses, mind and intellect. Yoga and knowledge play an important role. Lead a simple life. A period of strict discipline.

. Stage II. Grahatha-ashram – This is the most energetic period of life. It provides a real ground to utilize one’s intellectual and physical capabilities. To indulge one-self in economic activities in order to fulfill one’s dreams and ambitions, to keep direct contact with the society, and to take proper care of the dependents, which included elders, children, members of extended family and strangers in need of help.

During this stage, Society is the recipient, individual makes contribution. It presents opportunities to practice and cultivate all the three Dharmas – Artha/finance (to fulfill his duties), Kama/desrires ( and financial and material success for full enjoyment of life) and Moh/attachment. An Individual has direct contact with  society and makes direct contribution to  society consistent with the dictates of his own knowledge and conscience.

This is the time, when a person gets opportunity to lead an active married life. His tasks are practice of Dharma and protection to his dependents with love and care.Proper management of other three Ashrams depends on Grihasthashram as their needs (like provision of food and financial help) are directly or indirectly supported by  householders.

Of all the Ashrams, Grihasthashram is given a high place of honour as it offers opportunities for practice and cultivation of all Guna and establishes direct contact with the society.

. Stage III, Vanaprastha Ashram (Adulthood withdrawal)- It is a Neutral phase of life. During this period, a person should prepare himself for loosening earthly bonds and to achieve happiness through good deeds and social service. Material success is not aim. Task assigned to this group is teaching Dharma and extended care.

. Stage IV, Sanyas (senior citizens) – It is a Phase of resignation and renunciation. By now, a person is completely free from any obligation. Senior citizens are advised to achieve complete detachment and lead a simple life.

In ancient period, when human life was not so complicated and men were closer to nature, people could follow the Sanatan Dharma without any hassle.  But as the atmosphere became more complex and moral values eroded, it became difficult to observe it truthfully in real life. At present, very old people, in their greed for power, position and wealth, remain active in politics and don’t plan to retire till the end.

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

The priestly schools had devised a most remarkable and effective system of transferring knowledge to succeeding generations in the form of hymns, restricting it only to those, possessing brilliant feats of memory and capability to keep extreme sanctity.  Only after raising oneself from ignorance, a person could be able to understand the greatness of the Indian value system.

Like a jeweler, one could spot out gems from among 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.

Self-discipline, self-reliance and self-restraint – Vedic literature has given importance to the considerations of self-discipline, morality, and knowledge. All social groups i.e. Varnas/Castes are supposed 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. In the past, ranking of different social groups was done on some principles. Self-discipline, hygiene, cleanliness, morality, knowledge, spirituality of different social groups and usefulness of their work to the society as a whole were the considerations, which determined the social, economic or political status of a group in society vis-a vis others. Higher a varna/caste, purer it was considered, and greater were the self-restrictions on its behaviour through rituals.

Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression – Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression are the hall-mark of Hindu philosophy. They have always been the 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 aggression. 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.

Winding up – Ever since an average Indian has lost faith in these principles, (s)he has also lost faith not only in her/his fellow beings, but also in herself/himself. Almost all persons are heading towards indiscipline, violence and chase of sheer materialism/consumerism based on ruthless competition. The knowledge of the foundation pillars/core values and principles of Hinduism will lead to more tolerance and acceptance by all the communities settled in India.

While living for centuries under aliens domination, Indian people have faced many changes. Then modernization and globalization have shattered its old ways of thinking, lifestyle, values and systems of Indian people. systems and values. Now India  is desperate to pick up the lost threads of its true culture, beliefs. Once again, it is trying to create an atmosphere, where different identities can live together in harmony and can proudly say ‘we belong to a nation known as India, Hindustan, and Bharat’. 


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

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

         

May 23, 2020 Posted by | General, Social and political values and systems | Leave a comment

DNA OF ‘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.

“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.” Don Martindale

“To each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

 Hinduism was the ideological and emotional buttress of caste.”          

                                                        Don Martindale

1 . Introduction

In modern understanding of Hindu-ism and caste system, element of Hindu and Caste has been highlighted and misinterpreted, element of system has been considerably suppressed.

Hinduism not a religion, but way of life – Half a century ago, a five Judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court of India consisting of Chief Justice PB Gajendra gadkar, KN Vanchoo, M. Hidayadulla, V. Ramaswmi, and P Satyanarayanaraju in “Shastri  Yagnapurushadji” case [1966 SCR(3)242] has said very clearly, “…. The word ‘Hindu” is derived from river Sindhu, otherwise known as Indus which flows from Punjab. … Unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet, it does not worship any one god, it does not subscribe to any one dogma, it does not believe in any one philosophic concept, it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performances. Infact, it does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features any religion or creed. It may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more.”

However, at present many politicians, political parties, pressure groups,  proponents and self-appointed guardians of different faiths consider these terms as depicting hostility, enmity or intolerance towards other religious faiths. It is the distortion of the true meaning of these expressions or misuse of them for political purposes. Hinduism/Hindutva and its caste-system have become trump cards or political agenda to garner votes.

Similarly, in present-day understanding of caste system, the element of caste has been highlighted and   the element of system has been suppressed considerably.” Different castes found their place under a ‘Varna’ on the basis of their being ritually clean or unclean, nature of work and amount of self-discipline they exercised. Numerous castes and sub-castes emerged within each ‘Varna’. Four ‘Varnas’ remained the same. These were never more or less than four. For over 2000 years, their order in precedence remained the same.  As far as castes were concerned, they rose and fell in their social order, some died out and new ones were formed from time to time.

Quite often, religion and caste are being played as a trump cards by different political parties and for political purposes. Present Indian society has been divided into Upper Castes Hindus, Scheduled castes/Dalits, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Castes and Minorities  for official plans and policies. 

2. Systems and principles

Systems, structures, ideas and principles are the creations of human mind. From time to time, many principles, systems and ideas have been evolved throughout the world for the benefit of humanity. Some of them remained in vogue for some time, created a wave and swept over the entire world. Then an anti-wave had emerged soon and wiped off the influence of previous wave, faded away, replaced the previous wave and given way to new structures, systems and concepts. 

However, the same is not true with Vedic Culture. It has been proved to be an exception. 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, but had assimilated them within itself. 

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

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

Why yesterday’s ‘Rights’ becomes today’s ‘Wrongs’ ? It is said that whenever human minds chase ideas, systems, principles or justice superficially and fails to follow the ‘rights’ in real life without understanding its pros and cons, influence of them start fading. Things/systems perfected by nature are better than those created by human mind.

Both, Hinduism and Varna followed by Caste system may well be called a natural response to many small and primitive groups of people, who were forced to come to terms, with a more advanced economic and social system.  Both are the development of thousands of years of the association of many racial and other groups in a single cultural system. (Basham, Wonder That Was India, p 151).

3. Balance between old values and new systems – It is a tough task to keep a fine balance between old values and new concepts. Many new concepts, values and systems are developing now and then, which 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 the utility of new systems. Or leave behind undesirable elements/evil practices  develop into the system due to changing atmosphere/circumstances.

Preference to present over pastOld values, old ways of thinking, and ideologies should not be discarded out-rightly. 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.

What is needed, is to maintain a fine balance between old values and the new ones, while applying concepts in real life situations.  Many 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 new challenges. 

4. World entering into the era of modernity and technological advancement –There has been significant developments in the field of science, literature, art, politics,warfare, technology etc. Modern period is known as an age of globalization and discovery.

The process of modernization started in the wake of the Renaissance—in the “Age of Reason” of 17th-century thought and the 18th-century “Enlightenment”. New ideas, concepts, systems, strategies and management techniques are emerging every day. It is a tough task to keep a fine balance between old values and new concepts. It is a tough task to keep a fine balance between old values and new concepts.

During 20th and beginning of 21st, many changes have happened at a very fast speed. Industrialization, modernization, technological advancements, especially in the spheres of Information technology and mass-media have It has transformed in a the way the thinking, life-style, behaving, style of living, pattern of relationships, working culture etc almost completely geographically, socially and politically. Knowledge has progressed at a fast speed and access to it being available to all. These changes have transformed the whole social, political and economic atmosphere of the whole world. 

In political sphere, concepts of Welfare state and Development Administration have emerged, especially after the World War II. National governments have taken up the responsibility of taking care of its people from ‘womb to tomb’. In the name of people, government have assumed enormous power. Economically, era of materialism and consumerism is progressing. Socially, there is an additional pressure on the traditional values and systems. Spread of education, public awareness and exposure the developments happened elsewhere in world have increased the aspirations and expectations of the people considerably. 

Together these changes have given birth to different kind of challenges. Generally, People are unable to cope up with these challenges. Efforts are being done now by governments of different nations, intelligentsia, organisations, researchers, scientists and ordinary people collectively to make a difference and find out solutions to those challenges.

5. Spot out gems – One should form an opinion or take a decision after analyzing rationally the whole scenario. Usually, suspicions or misunderstandings about any system arise, when the fundamentals and knowledge about the system or ground realities of the place are not clear. Half cooked information, half a truth, partial or incomplete knowledge with a purpose to let down somebody is harmful for the whole society. Many a times, such opinions turn out to be a great lie.

As has been seen, 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. 

For analyzing any issue rationally and understanding what ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ in any system, the following four variables needs to be kept in mind: –

  1. Desa (region)- The culture of a place, in which a person is born.
  2. Kala (time) – The period of historical time, in which a person is born.
  3. Shrama (Effort) –   The efforts required for doing of him at different stages of Life and;
  4. Guna (Quality) – Aptitude and innate psycho-biological traits. 

Part II

  1. Why so much confusion about Hinduism and caste?

Usually, suspicions or misunderstandings against any system arise, when the fundamentals and knowledge about the ground realities of the place are not clear. Or when rumors based on half cooked information, half-truths, partial or incomplete information are spread with a purpose to let down others. Many a times, such opinions turn out to be a great lie. It is quite harmful for the whole society and the nation.

 In a changing world, nothing can be more disabling than its idolization of past; nothing can be more needed than the constant interpretation of past experiences and present circumstances. Present should be a constant challenge to the opinions of past.

Reality is deeper than what is seen on the surface – Reality is much deeper than what is seen on the surface. One should not form an opinion or take a decision without analyzing rationally the whole scenario. Many misunderstandings on any issue will not sustain itself, if there is even a rational understanding and knowledge about it.

Part II

Why so much Confusion about Hinduism and Caste system

Deep roots Hinduism and its caste system in India – Hindu civilization known as one of the oldest living civilization of the world. As far as the culture and civilization of India, it is primarily based on Hindu Philosophy. Early written evidence of Hindu philosophy  appears in the Vedas, Sanskrit-language texts that date from as early as 1500 BCE. Its beliefs and practices are based on the Vedas. It presents a continuous and uninterrupted living culture and one of the oldest social institution still existing in the entire world. 

Hinduism and its caste system have survived the vicissitudes of time, saved itself by erosion from within and assault from outside only because of the adaptability. Its absorptive nature has internalized alien influences. So far they have been able to maintain their continuity without interruption.

Its caste system has taken different shades and meaning with the changing times and places. Its character during Indus Valley Civilization was altogether different from what exists today. It is still in a transient phase. Its shade is different in the context of village, locality, region or religion. Once changed, the system never returned to its original form. Its absorptive nature has internalized alien influences. 

2. Why difficult for Western World to understand the nuances of Hinduism

It is difficult for the Western World to understand the role of caste, past or present in Indian society. Complete localization and unfamiliarity makes it difficult for them 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. Western world is mystified by amazing pluralities and unique social structure of India based on caste. Because –

  • Caste not class basis of stratification – Stratification of a society becomes necessary for organizing human and social behavior in tune with the objectives of a society. 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 greatness of a state is judged on the basis of the degree of righteousness and justice, with which a social group lives or administration governs lives of the people, and not on the basis of the size of a state or its treasury. Similarly, in the society, 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.
  • 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. Its value-system helps people to adjust themselves, without much difficulty, to most drastic changes. India has achieved its freedom in a peaceful manner under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. Common men, here, are filled with a sense of duty.
  • 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.
  • Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression – Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression have always been the part of Indian ethos. Indians have till now accepted oppression and exploitation without much protest. Indian way of life and tolerance of its people has prevented the masses to exercise coercion so far. While in the past, intolerance of people led to bloody revolutions elsewhere in the world, India kept on adapting itself to changing times. Whereas in the past, other nations had passed through many bloody revolutions like in ancient Greece, Rome or other European countries, and made people to work under the threat of a whip, tolerance in India had prevented people from doing that.  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.
  • 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. 

3. 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.

Part III

Hind, Hindustan, Hinduism, Hindu Philosophy

  1. About different names of India  

There is a historical significance of the terms used for ancient and medieval  India as Hind’, and ‘Hindustan’ and India – 

  • Bharatvarsh – 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’.
  • 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.

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’.

  • After Independence, Bharatvarsh is known as the “Republic of India”.

2. Hinduism as a culture/civilization, philosophy and religion 

Hinduism presents one of the oldest,  continuous and uninterrupted living culture and civilization in the world. (Other well advanced civilizations of ancient world were of Egypt, Greece and Mesopotamia).    

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.

Principles of Varna, Dharma, and KarmaPrinciples of Dharma, Karma and Varna are the core values/ foundation pillars of the Indian philosophy. Doctrine of Varna has classified the whole society into four groups/Varnas, embracing numerous castes and sub-castes within its fold – Brahmins having flair for learning and possessing intellectual/spiritual qualities to preach, Kshatriyas having warrior skills and men of action to rule and defend the community, Vaishyas having business acumen to carry on business, and Shudras unable to do above three tasks or conquered ones to do service.

These three principles together give 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. 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 makes the inequalities, prevalent in the society, tolerable to an average Indian.

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.

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 ‘Principle of Dharma of Hinduism’ as ;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.

Before the colonization of India, the religion of Hindustanis was known 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.

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.

3. Hinduism 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.

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’.

 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 speciality of Indian culture is its simplicity and solidity. Knowledge alone is the key to truth.

 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. Vedas have been conceived through intellectual contemplation and empirical observation and Upnishads (speculative interpretation of Vedas or Mythology) are the creation of human imagination. Some salient feature of Vedas are :-

  • Its rationality is in conformity with the laws of nature.
  • According to it, no one belongs to any social group because of birth. It is inter-changeable and depends on ones thoughts and deeds.
  • It tells that true religion does not discriminate mankind in terms of race, colour, nationality, caste or gender; and
  • the most noble task of every individual is to work for the enlightenment and uplift the weaker persons.

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’

Hinduism as a Philosophy

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. 

Teachings of Bhagvat Gita – It is amazing that Bhagwat Gita, a book as old as 5000 years is still relevant even in 21st century, an age of Artificial Intelligence(AI). It is a guide to live a happy, peaceful and prosperous life. It has solutions to all your doubts, fears, dilemmas, problems etc. Following its principles sincerely can bring a positive change in your life.

5 Shlokas from Bhagavad Gita that can change human life forever –

  • Focus on your action and not on the results – Focus on your action and not its results. “Karm Karo, Fal ki Chinta mat Karo”. (Verse 47, Chapter 2, Bhagwat Gita) Because results are not solely dependent on your efforts. It depends on other factors as well like people circumstances or other people, who are involved. If results are not as per your expectations, pain is unavoidable.
  • Also, when the work is hard and burdensome, do not lose interest in it and resort to inaction (निष्क्रियता). Never lose interest and attach oneself to inaction.
  • Be Fearless (Verse 20, Chapter 2, Bhagwat- The biggest fear in our lives is “Fear of Death”. Fear creates deterrence in whatever you wanted to do it in life. Only body is destroyed, Soul is glorious, fearless, free from old age and immortal. So Eliminate fear of death from your mind.
  • Three gateways to hell/unhappiness – Lust, Greed and Anger, abandon these three completely as it disturb the balance of mind and soul, and leads to self-destruction. 

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.

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 behaviour, harsh words), Alasya (laziness) and Agyan (ignorance, Lack of knowledge). Tamas/negative mindset manifests (1) Ego, Ahankar (2) cruelty/Inhuman behaviour, (3) Injustice (Anyay), (4) Lust (5) Over- pride (mad) (6) Greed (Lobha) (7) Anger (Krodha), (8) . Jealousy, (9) Attachment (Moh), (10). Selfishness (Swartha)

Persons with negative mindset are usually responsible for different kinds of social evils, exploitation and miseries of the people. Most of the time, they make their own life quite stressful, as there is a gap between expectations and reality.  

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.

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.

IV. Hinduism as a culture and an Art of living a Quality of Life

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.

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 .

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’.

 

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 | | 1 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

Role of a government of a Nation State

Introduction – Concept of ‘Nation State is not very old. The notion of a ‘nation state’ is different from the earlier idea of ‘city state’, ‘multi-national state’, ‘empire’, ‘confederation’ or other state forms. 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.

Expansion of territory along with the process of industrialization, modernization and new inventions in the field of technology gave birth to the idea of Nation State. Since 1776, started the process of city states converting into nation state. Nation state, in its present sense, is more or less a phenomenon of nineteenth century. 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. The concept  of ‘Nation state’ in its present sense is more or less a nineteenth century concept. In 1815, at the Congress Of Vienna the Final Act recognized only 39 sovereign states in the European diplomatic system.  

The 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.

Criteria of a nation-state – 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 permanent population;
  • a defined territory;
  • government; and
  • capacity to enter into relations with other states’.

Tasks of the government of a nation state – Of all the activities of a civilized nation, the task of governance/administration is perhaps the most complex one as it deals with living human beings prone to unpredictable behavior. A national government has to deal with the issues – political, economic or social, which directly affects day to day life of the people.

Usually the governments of modern nation states are involved in multifarious activities, like: 

  • 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. Its primary task is to maintain the law and order within the country.  Normally government through administrators, intelligence services, and revenue services take decisions, monitor the situation and keep control over disrupting activities of anti-social elements.

  • Collect Taxes – The collection of taxes provides funding to support the infrastructure of government, which allows for the delivery of public services to citizens of  the nation as a whole. Taxes are essential for provision of government services. 
  • 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 – Technical functions like Building up Infra-structure for country – 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 – Research and Development in various areas for a better future of its citizens – Modern states set up research goals for the sustainable development of the nation in the areas in different areas. The government plans and make policies like economic growth, environment protection, Good Health and Well-Being, behavioural science, Quality Education, and to develop new monitoring techniques.

Of all the above mentioned tasks, keeping law and order situation intact within its territory is the main task of the government of any nation. 

Source of Power for a government – The source of power of the government has kept on changing with passage of time. Earlier, during the times of city-states of Agricultural society, muscle power  gave the people power to govern. 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.

 Changing scenario  about the Tasks of a government

The tasks of government and its source of power have kept on changing from time to time and from place to place.

  • During ancient societies- During in the era of ancient agricultural societies, there used to be independent (sovereign) Princely citystates – small or big. It usually consisted of a single city with its dependent territories. The power to govern was in the hands of physically strong persons, i.e. warriors. The task of the ruling authority was not so difficult. Expansion of their territory and protection of its people from foreign invasions and internal disturbances and collecting revenue were the main tasks of a government. 
  • Era of industrialization – Industrial Revolution (from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840) and the contemporary developments had a great impact in widening the scope of State activities. The Industrial Revolution permanently changed the relationship between worker, employer and government. During the era of Industrialization, wealth took over the place of muscle power as a source of power.

    Industrialization had both positive and negative effects on society. has generated employment opportunities, provided educational opportunities, encouraged advancement and innovation, and better utilized resources. It resulted in more efficient production processes, cheaper goods and improved quality of life. On the other hand, the Industrial Revolution encouraged environmental pollution, poor working conditions and a decline in agriculture. Industrial Revolution had some negative impacts for society. Although there are several positives to the Industrial Revolution there were also many negative elements, including: poor working conditions, poor living conditions, low wages, child labor, and pollution. The negative effects brought in the era of Revolutions. 

  • Era of Revolutions – The French Revolution (5th May 1789 to 9th Nov, 1799) had a great and far-reaching impact that probably transformed the world more than any other revolution. Its repercussions include lessening the importance of religion; rise of Modern Nationalism; spread of Liberalism and igniting the Age of Revolutions. Then Bolshevik Revolution/Russian revolution (1917 to 1920) had a great global impact. It swept the ideas of Communism, Socialism, democracy, economy, nationalism, and most importantly the division of the world. Russia was the first country to establish a communist government, and communism spread throughout the world. 
  • Concept of Laissez-faire – Concept of Laissez-faire advocates an economic system in which there is minimal intervention from governments and regulations. With the rise of the concept of nation state all over the world, the principle of Laissez-faire became popular. Most of the Governments of nation-state’s interfered minimum in the economic affairs of individuals and society.The government’s main tasks were only to maintain law and order and collect revenue.

It began with Adam Smiths’ “The wealth of nations”. Which developed the idea of “The wealth of nations”, developed the idea of Laissez faire”. 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 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. It was the guiding principle of governance till the end of  19th century.

The Physiocrats proclaimed laissezfaire in 18th-century France, placing it at the very core of their economic principles. With Adam Smiths’. The government’s main tasks were only to maintain law and order and collect revenue. It led the nations through success after success in the economic field. USA became world’s largest economy. Many European States emerged as great imperial powers.

Due to some inherent weaknesses, After 1873, the world moved away from the dominant political concept of “Laissez-faire”, with the crash of Vienna Stock market. The crash of Vienna Stock market had caused a short-lived panic in Paris, London, Frankfurt and New York. The Panic 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. During 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. In the United States the Panic was known as the “Great Depression” until the events of the early 1930s set a new standard. It changed the course of political events.

It had turned many countries to totalitarian regimes. The first one to opt for totalitarian regime was Soviet Russia. Italy became a fascist nation and Nazism grew in Germany. It also  led to the emergence of imperialism, which led to economic exploitation of conquered places, colonization and World Wars.

  • Turning point – World War I (1914 to 1918) was the turning point. During the World Wars, different nation-states entered into Alliances with other nations.  As the world entered the 20th century, the process modernization, industrialization and new developments in the sphere of technology, and new techniques of warship, and arms race prepared the ground for imperialism, militarism, nationalism and  world war I.  Desire for greater empires led  economically strong countries to enter into Alliances, such as Treaty of Versailles was signed after World War I between Germany and the Allied Powers. Japan had an alliance with Entente Powers. 

World War II – Then in 1935, started II World War II. World War II had a profound effect on colonial powers. It completely destroyed their economies. It was an even bigger calamity for Germany and Europe. The war changed the economical balance of the world, leaving European countries deep in debt and making the U.S. the leading industrial power and creditor in the world. Inflation shot up in most countries and the German economy was highly affected by having to pay for reparations. 

Scenario after World-Wars, Rise of the concept of Welfare State – Peter F Drucker says  that two World-War had changed the course of of politics and led to the rise of welfare state and its immense power. 

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 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.

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. Democratic governments allover the world started playing 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.

Government of a Welfare State assumes the responsibility of its citizens from `womb to tomb’. It aims at to bring about `social, political and economic justice’ by improving the quality of life of its masses. Its main focus is on improving the lots of  poor people and weaker sections of society  poor by fulfilling their basic necessities. In short its objective is a massive attack on five major evils of society – want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.

Technological developments, especially in the field of Information Technology after 1970, has facilitated the exchange of data and information. knowledge has become the major source of power.

The process of changes has not ended over here. Now the whole world is moving towards forming a global society.  Some people say that globalization has political, economic and cultural impact on the nationstate, which ultimately impacts the issue of identity on “global citizens”. Finally, the paper argues that globalization also has an impact on the autonomy of the nationstate especially on the education system and policies.

Some opine that Globalization creates a sense of interdependence among nations, which could create an imbalance of power among nations of different economic strengths. The role of the nationstate in a global world is largely a regulatory one as the chief factor in global interdependence.

Some people wonder, how the global society will be governed? It is yet to be seen.

 

 

July 1, 2019 Posted by | General | | 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

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