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Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Population explosion and its unbalanced Growth in India

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

At present, 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.

It has put severe strain on the already over loaded system. It has aggravated many problems 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.

 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.

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.

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. 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 fight started for land, 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.

All over India, 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 and listed in the same group i.e. Scheduled Castes, Scheduled tribes, Other Backward Castes or Non-SC/ST/OBC castes. Now they put pressure on the Government to accept their proposals.

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)

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. However, the number of poor, illiterate and unproductive hands is continuously increasing.

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.

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, 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.

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.

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.

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Role of Civil (government) Services in ‘Good Governance’

 

“For the forms of government, let fools contest. That which is best administered is best.”        Finer

 Governance of a nation, the most difficult task –Perhaps, of all acts of the government, governance of a nation-state  and its society is one of the most difficult task. Because it has to deal with different kinds of issues – political, economic or social, which affect directly, day to day life of its people. Usually human beings are full of psychological and sociological complexes and prone to unpredictable behaviour. That makes the task of governance difficult.

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

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

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

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

For the proper implementation of their welfare plans, national reconstruction and developmental schemes, all developing and under-developed nations felt the need of an efficient Civil Service. They know well that the responsibility of good governance as well as laying the foundations of building a forward- looking strong nation can be taken over by its government officials. Bureaucracy of a nation requires as many as possible, officials of integrity, equipped with administrative ability and practical sagacity.

What is Government and why bureaucracy becomes so important for good governance ? – In a democratic country, a Government roughly falls into two general processes

1.      The process of politics, which consists of the activities of elected representatives of the people and

2.      The process of administration to assist politically elected ministers, which consists of the activities of permanent bureaucrats/civil servants.

Theoretically, Civil Services,  the administrative machinery is subordinate to the elective body i.e. the Council of Ministers. But in practice, it plays a different role. Owing to other preoccupations of political leadership and its lack of technical know-how, the role of bureaucracy in policy making (which in theory, is advisory) has become a determining factor. Converting policy into directive plans, programs and projects is an inevitable function of an action-oriented administration.

Therefore, the responsibility of political chiefs becomes formal in practice,. They are bound to listen to the advice of the civil servants, which can dig and present data in a matter as they consider fit. The service role in relation to the minister is that of influence and not of power. It is this administrative apparatus that runs the government.

Administrative apparatus, known as Government Services/Civil Services or  bureaucracy – Whether in the past or in present, the institution, whether in a nation state or city state or an empire, Civil Services are closely connected with the task of governance, and exercises of state authority. It has always been a very potent and vital element of any government.It is an indispensable part of each and every political system, be it communism or socialism or capitalism. It can exist in a type of society, be it a dictatorial or a democratic society. Due to its exclusive and specialized nature of work and growing need for more expert knowledge in administration for improving the quality of life, the importance of civil services is increasing day-by-day.

Permanent bureaucrats/civil servants belong to a Professional body of officials, permanent, paid and skilled.(Finer. Theory and Practice of Modern Government, p709, 1950). They are professionally recruited and trained in various disciplines – functional, technical and specialist as well as managerial and generalist such as police force to maintain law and order, a diplomatic service for external affairs, technical services for Public Works Department or Electricity Departments, Railways and Customs etc. Its main characteristics are its efficiency, predictability, impersonal nature, its impartial nature and speedy working. 

Bureaucracy works from behind the scene – In a democracy, civil servants always live behind the scene. Bureaucrats/Civil Servants, not only dig expert knowledge from the raw material, but give it a shape with a sense of commitment.

Elected political wing of the government comes for a short period and go after some time. Bureaucrats are appointed on a long-term basis. They provide continuity  to the government. Therefore, to run the governance/administration of a country properly, a band of officials of integrity, equipped with administrative ability, practical sagacity.  efficient, prompt, just and sympathetic,  are professionally recruited and then well trained for their respective work, in various disciplines – functional, technical and specialist as well as managerial and generalist such as police force to maintain law and order, a diplomatic service for external affairs, technical services for Public Works Department or Electricity Departments, Railways and Customs etc.

Expectations of the people for better deal – Increased consciousness of public compelled them to demand, with persisting insistence, better standard of living, better housing, better education and better medical facilities. The masses now wish themselves to be benefited as much as possible, from the resources of their nation. To fulfil the expectations of people and to  to build a forward- looking 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, the former being the objective and the later the machinery to achieve these objectives.

Task of governance in a Welfare State – In a welfare state the government, task of maintaining law and order position intact all-over the country is still an important. Where rule of law prevails, maximum results with minimum labour and resources, within time and cost parameters can be achieved for the sustainable development of the nation can be achieved. 

Main objective of government there is to launch a massive attack on five major evils of society – want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness. It  welfare concept of state has assumed the responsibility of improving the quality of life of its citizens from `womb to tomb’. It tries to bring about `social, political and economic justice’, and to work for a better future. For this purpose it tries to build up a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy.

Welfare plan has no utility in itself unless it is translated into action. The instrument deployed for achieving welfare goals – national reconstruction and development – is Civil Services. Civil servants are trained to comprehend what is attainable, what is practical and what can help the agencies in the community to formulate plans and policies, which can bring socio-economic and political development of all the citizens. 

In the post war period in general, development consciousness and development efforts, emerged in the new nations of Asia, Africa, Latin America and parts of Europe, required a civil service of integrity, equipped with administrative ability and practical sagacity for development.

Requirements for efficient governanceFor the efficient and effective governance of a welfare and development administration, decisions should not be taken on assumptions. It should be based on facts and figures. Therefore, Civil Servants engaged in decision-making process need to have the following qualifications =

  • Mental framework – it should never be conservative. It should have a scientific outlook and should be progressive, innovative, reformist and even revolutionary in mental attitudes and approaches.
  • Knowledge – it should have knowledge of science, technology and social sciences.
  • Skills – it requires conceptual skills (ability for innovative problem – analysis), planning skills, technical skills, managerial skills and human skills.
  • Vision – A development bureaucrat requires the vision of a statesman and not that of either narrow-minded politicians or a rule-minded bureaucrat.
  • Structures – it requires less hierarchical and more team-like structures such as Commissions, Boards, and Corporations etc.
  • Behaviour – The behavioural pattern should consist of (a) action and achievement orientation (b) responsiveness (c) responsibility (d) all round smooth relations inside with juniors and seniors and outside with clientele and the public (e) commitment to development ideologies and goals.

Besides, there should be –

  • A working partnership between the civil servants and the people.
  •  A sense of service, a spirit of dedication, a feeling of involvement and a will to sacrifice for the public welfare.
  •  A pragmatic application of the basic democratic principles. Higher civil servants should provide the required leadership to the lower levels of administration.
  •  Constant field inspection by senior officials.
  • to provide the government with the ability to be in constant contact with the people;
  • to make the people conscious that the government is alive to their problem;
  • Smooth relationship between generalist administrators and experts/specialists; and
  • Training from time to time to understand the success already achieved in the field of development administration and the efforts to be initiated in future.

For good governance, most important step to be taken is to keep bureaucrats from pressures, which is being put on them by political circles -Ministers, MPs, MLAs. To free the nation from sub-servient bureaucrats and provide them good atmosphere to function without undue interference from political circles, Civil Services should be allowed to advice elected wing of the government freely and frankly.

Winding up – It is said that today the backbone of administrative set up has been broken very badly. In order to save their skin, a large number of government servants hesitates to give honest opinion to their ministers and follow the dictates of party in power. To bring professionalism in administration, government must  –

  • In every administrative set up, there are certain positions or posts, which might be called strategic from the point of view of maintaining standards of administration. Placement according to the requirements of the posts, and strict eligibility criteria for manning the crucial posts should be maintained in the administration,
  • It is said that there is a general trend these days to toe the line of their political masters, because that is more convenient for them rather than standing up for principles and paying the price of giving their frank opinion. Instead of following the dictates of politicians bureaucrats should advise the political party in power freely and frankly.
  • In the increasingly knowledge-based society of twenty- first century administrators has acquired a role of a knowledge manager. They have to find out knowledge based solutions for different problems. The solution of such problems require –
    • Development of observation skills, alertness and awareness of their surroundings;
    • Intelligence or basic applicative skill to create solutions;
    • Ability to collect Relevant data;
    • Capability to view pros and cons and alternatives of 
    • Mental alertness to deliver results within time and cost parameters.
    • Administration at district  level, where it comes into direct contact with the people, occupies a key position. It is at this level, that bulk of people gets affected, favorably or adversely by the governmental policies, programs and its implementation.  It is here, that people judge the quality and efficiency of the governmental administration.

Vallabh Bhai Patel in his letter to the Prime Minister wrote, “I need hardly emphasize, that an efficient, disciplined and contended (civil) service, assured of its prospects as a result of diligent and honest work, is a “Sine quanan” of sound administration, under a democratic regime, even more than under an authoritarian rule.  The (civil) service must be above party=politics and we should ensure that political consideration, either in its recruitment or its discipline and control, are reduced to the minimum, if not eliminated altogether.

 

              

   

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March 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Reservation policy as means to eliminate all kinds of caste-based discrimination

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

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

 “Equality consists in the same treatment of similar persons”         Aristotle

         Introduction

No doubt, discrimination of any kind is undesirable. But at the same time, not all difference is discrimination, it can be circumstantial.

Discrimination is objectionable, when it is intentional and done with some selfish motive. There are some people in every society, who in their self-interest act inhumanly, irrationally and harm others. There is no justification for such irrational acts, which later on give rise to discriminatory practices.

It is not desirable to pass on comments based on half cooked information, half a truth, partial or incomplete knowledge, which could be harmful for the whole society. Many a times, irresponsible acts of some irrational and cynic persons create misunderstandings. National policies and plans of any nation should not be based on irrational acts of a few irrational people. Also it would not be right to blame the whole system or a society for  irresponsible acts of a few.

Reality is much deeper than what is seen on the surface. “The dreams of those who do menial jobs are just as worthy as ours. In India and US the grandson of a cook can be President, A Dalit can help write the Constitution, a tea-seller can become a PM.” (President Obama, Quoted from TOI, Jan 18,2015) On the basis of the personal experiences of the two leaders of USA and India – both of whom have risen from humble backgrounds to top positions. One should not form an opinion or take a decision without analyzing rationally the whole scenario. Many misconceptions have been spread around about caste-system of India and its nature by vested interests of certain people during the last few centuries.

Ancient India did not sanctify discrimination. The present birth-based caste-discrimination is a blot on India and is more recent than is told by vested interests. Ambedkar himself in his famous book, ‘who were Shudras’ said that in ancient times, India had widely respected Shudras rulers as well, and the oppressive scriptural verses justifying discrimination and casteism were included into the texts later. According to Bhagwat Gita, four Varnas were based on guna (attibutes) and Karma (deeds). Rishis/sages were accorded the highest status in ancient India. The two most popular epics ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’ were composed by Valmiki (a Shudra according to present ranking) and Ved Vyas (a backward caste).

Arvind Sharma, a Professor in McGill University says that caste rigidity and discrimination emerged in the Smriti priod (from after the birth of Jesus Christ and extending upto 1200 CE). During Medieval period, it was challenged by Bhakti movement led by many non-upper caste saints. At that time some powerful empires led by Shudra rulers  like Kakatiyas emerged. Caste discrimination became rigid again during British rule. Now education, economic reforms and urbanization can remove caste discrimination and poverty to a great extent.     For sustainable development of the nation, all Indians must oppose and fight against any kind of discrimination

Issue

Landmark win for Dalits as UK bans caste bias – Rikke Nohrlind, co-ordinator of the International Dalit Solidarity Network said, ” Caste discrimination is a global issue, affecting hundreds of millions of people in many parts of the country” Therefore, an amendment in Equality Act 2010 has been made to outlaw Caste in UK to give legal protection to 816,633 Hindus based in the UK.  Till now, the Act prohibited race discrimination, harassment and victimization in the work-place. “Very strong views have been expressed in the Lords on this (caste) matter and we have reconsidered our position and agreed to introduce caste-related legislation. … We hope that this decision will serve as an example to other countries” Jo Swinson – Equalities Minister, U.K. (Quoted from daily Newspaper, Times of India, P.24,

Dalit pressure group criticizes ‘Caste system’ for its being highly discriminatory. The Imperial British rulers had condemned the Caste system strongly earlier also before the Independence. Now many political parties, many intellectuals Dalit activists and their leaders have joined them. They are born, educated and brought-up in an atmosphere, which is deeply influenced by rhymes and reasons of western societies.

Needs an analysis

Blaming caste system for all discriminatory practices or suggesting bringing to an end a well established and accepted system in the name of discrimination, needs to be given a second thought. For understanding the problem, answer of the following questions with an impartial, rational, sensitive and perceptive mindset is required –

  • Are really the practices and values of caste-system problematic and complicated?
  • Is it the caste-system, which is responsible for discrimination and exploitation of weaker/ unprivileged sections of society?
  • What is the position of different castes as it exists presently in ground realities?

Discrimination elsewhere in the world

Discrimination to some extent exists everywhere in one form or other – be it a social, political and economic system or institution, be it a big or small institutio as small as that of a family. Vulnerable individuals or weaker sections of society have always become an easy prey for discrimination. Within a family, vulnerable family members like children, old or widowed parents, poor relatives or unemployed youth become an easy prey of discrimination. And in a society, poor, illiterate and ignorant people quite often become victims of exploitation. Fear of being discriminated or exploited springs from ignorance.

Equality may perhaps be a right, but no power on earth can ever turn it into a reality.

Intolerance reason behind discrimination

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

Grounds for discrimination

In every society and a nation there exists numerous identities based on factors like race, class, caste, religion, gender, language or region. Craving for more power – muscle, money or political – of some individuals or groups tends people to adopt discriminatory practices. Discriminatory practices work on whims and fancies/likes and dislikes of strong persons. Controlling the destiny of others satisfies their ego and serves their interests.

Racism and Western World

Racism is a much more serious problem than caste in matter of discrimination, as it is based on the color of the skin, which can not be hidden. Societies in Western World are divided sharply into four water-tight compartments. “Whites” at the top of social hierarchy, then comes Yellows (Japanese, Chinese or Philippines) followed by “Browns” (Indians, Pakistanis and people from other South-Eastern nations and at the bottom “Blacks”. The western world is witnessing a rise in white supremacist movements. Last two categories have always been humiliated. They have to struggle to get suitable jobs according to their qualifications. They are forced to work for less money, accused for snatching jobs from “whites” and having slavish mentality.

Treatment to Indian students in western nations

Every year, on an average 430,000 odd Indian students go to Western nations for further studies. Recently in Australia, Indians, Pakistanis along with Vietnamese students of middle-class background are being targeted, racially abused, insulted, ridiculed and assaulted physically now and then by Whites. They take bank loans, borrow money and pass through many difficulties to get a degree from foreign university. Life is not easy for them in any way. They have to work very hard to fund their education there.

Despite everything the exodus of students from upper castes continues because due to reverse discrimination policies, they are being treated as second rate citizens in their own country. It is an anomaly that Western society, where discrimination on racial grounds has always been a part of life (only it is being highlighted by media now), wants to reform India.

Caste system and British rulers

In the past, British rulers in India, while laying foundation of democratic institutions of India, started many discriminatory practices. In order to keep balance of power and counter Brahmins hold on Indian society passed some discriminatory Acts like Act of 1919 (Minto Morely Reforms)or Communal Award of 1932.Till 1947, they kept their railway compartments, waiting rooms, parks, clubs, hotels, places of other entertainment and residences segregated.

Two aspects of caste system have amazed the British rulers in the past –

  • influence of Caste system on Indian society;
  • Reluctance of its people to convert into other religions, on the ground that all religions are valid.

Dalit Activists and caste system

Dalit Activists criticize caste system vehemently and hold it responsible for keeping 750 million Hindus – dalits, tribals and other backward classes – poor, “subjugated, discriminated against and humiliated.” “Technologies for human survival …. were all developed by lower castes”, but “upper castes took away the fruits of their labour and invention.” “In the hearts of the oppressed castes, there is anger and hatred.” ‘Social-justice’ demands their emancipation by ending all kind of discrimination.

There are two options: “either complete equality to Dalit Bahujan communities or their conversion into other religions.” Such comments of Dalit Activists and political leaders arouse emotional sentiments of poor masses, generate venom in their heart and create a feeling of ‘otherness’.

According to Pr. Kancha Ilaiah, an activist, complete equality means –

  • Embracing all lower castes,
  • Eating with them,
  • Treating them as their equal, and
  • An end to the allegation that they are merit-deficient.

Inspite of all such comments, it is the lower segment of society, which is sticking strongly to its caste-identities.

India and ‘Caste’ as a ‘System’

Caste is a very old and indigenous system, conceptualized, developed and practiced exclusively in India. It is difficult for the western world to understand its role – past or present – in Indian society or because of its complete localization and unfamiliarity to see it in its totality.

Strong features of ‘caste-system’

The strength of caste system has been proved by the following facts:

  • Despite centuries of foreign rule over 75% of Indian population remains Hindu and have strong feelings for caste-system.
  • Had caste system become obsolete, it would have given place to other system.
  • Caste system has influenced all other communities living in India.

Following are the strong features of ‘caste’ as a system –

  • Assimilation of different social groups without conversion– In the past, caste assimilated numerous social groups – immigrants, locals, tribal, professionals or others into its mainstream without any conversion. It assigned each incoming new group a separate caste identity and made them its integral part in due course of time.
  • This way, neither it disturbed its existing internal social order nor prevented new groups to join the mainstream. It did not annihilate their faith, way of living, internal order, customs, culture or language. Instead, it gave them freedom to prosper according to their internal rhythm.
  • Caste regarded as a natural institution by Hindus – Indian society regards family, extended family, Kula, Caste and religion as fundamental social institutions. An individual is a natural member of a family, which is a unit of an extended family, extended family of Kula, Kula of a tribe (Vish) – and a tribe of a Jana of Jati (Caste). Caste is second only to the family in widening a person’s social radius and in getting importance in his/her private and occupational life.
  • Equal status to all within a caste – All the members within a caste enjoy equal social status vise-a-vise other castes. Caste values, beliefs, prejudices, injunctions as well as distortions of reality become an indivisible part of a person’s psyche and conscience. They share moments of joy and sorrow.
  • It is a common sense that a person’s relation with his own caste-members is closer than with those belonging to other castes. Internalized caste norms define an individual role in the society. A person feels good and loved, when he lives up to these norms, and anxious and guilty, when he transgresses them.
  • Caste, providing social security and stability – Earlier, instead of government, elders of each caste (having sense of belonging, not a desire to exercise authority) used to take care of maintaining discipline within the caste and helped its destitute/helpless members.Caste provided to all its members social security and stability. Even as today, it does so in rural areas. Each caste still maintains its own rules, regulations, customs, and way of life and controls the conduct of its members. It encourages self-discipline, conscious, self-control, and self-direction.
  • Castes as a series of vertical parallels – The key, to understand the caste system, is not in seeing it as a framework of hierarchical layers of social order, each fitting neatly below the other, as pointed out by census operations done during imperial rule, but as a series of vertical parallels. Each caste is an independent entity, with its own hierarchy, based either on a tribal identity or an occupational identity.
  • Inter-dependence an integral part of caste system – In ancient and medieval India, all people living in a village or city were bound together by economic and social ties. All castes living in a local area, whether high or low, had a strong bond of mutual dependence, caring, sharing and supporting each other in fulfilling different kind of needs. There was hardly any room for any section of society to consider itself, as being placed in greater or lesser disadvantageous position with reference to another. Concept of forwards or backwards or feeling of exploitation of lower strata by upper castes was almost non-existent at that time. Industrialization and modernization have changed the scene.

Criticism

Some people blame Caste system for its being ‘discriminatory’ in nature. They say, it serves the interests of “haves “and enhances the agonies of “have-nots”. But it is an anomaly, that still it is only the ‘have-nots’, who cling more tightly to their caste identities today.

Caste system has been criticized for –

  • Giving importance to birth -_Caste system has been alleged for giving rise to disparities in the society, because it gives importance to birth in determining social status of a person. But same is the position in Western world also, where wealth determines social status. Wealth is also acquired through birth. There also exists a sharp distinction between the Aristocratic/elite society and common man.

Critics claim that for centuries in the past and even at present, people born in lower castes have been suppressed or oppressed by people belonging to upper castes. Upper castes are accountable and punishable for the miseries of lower caste. They should make reparations for the sins/historical wrong done by their ancestors.

How far this allegation and its remedy is correct? Justice ‘Social, economic and political’ never allows punishing somebody else for the crimes committed by others.

  • No access to education – It is alleged that upper castes has kept its monopoly on education to reinforce its traditional dominance and prevented lower castes from getting educated. When British rulers allowed legally admission to all irrespective of caste or creed in government schools, higher castes opposed admission of the children belonging to lower strata.

It is only a half truth. British rulers did not bother much about mass education. It was not so much because of discrimination, that backward castes were debarred or denied access to education, as for –

Modern education system was very costly and therefore, unaffordable by masses. The costly nature of education tended to make it a monopoly of the richer classes and city dwellers.

  • The medium of instruction was a foreign language – English.
  • Lower-castes did see any immediate use of education. It was more important for them to work and arrange two square meals day rather than spending on education.

However, an impoverished group caste Hindus in search of livelihood looked upon modern education as means to earn their living respectfully and devoted their scarce resources on it.

The relentless effort of missionaries and the reformers could educate a very small number of people from lower-castes.

  • Ranking

In the past, ranking of different social groups was done on some principles. Self-discipline, hygiene, cleanliness, morality, knowledge, spirituality of different social groups i.e. castes 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 vise-a vise others. Higher a caste, purer it was considered, and greater were the self-restrictions on its behavior through rituals.

  • Mobility

Mobility of individuals from one caste to another was restricted in the past. But upward mobility of a group in the social scale was though difficult, but not impossible. Ancient India had allowed upward mobility of a caste through good deeds – by adopting more orthodox practices, cleaner habits, self-discipline and observance of rituals or the position of a caste could be improved. This way, lower-castes were encouraged to follow discipline in life.

Now different castes prefer to be called backwards. They are racing to get a tag of backward castes, so that they can avail the benefits of quota fixed for backward castes in jobs an.

  • Wealth – Doors for honor or wealth were always open to deserving individuals/groups of any caste. History is the proof that even the lowest rank attained even sovereignty in India such as Maratha Kings, who fought their way up-to the throne against Mohammedan and commanded respect of all Indians. From fourteenth to the eighteenth century, soldiers came from all strata of society including the lowest in the ritual term. There was no discrimination in the recruitment and treatment of soldiers on caste basis. Rajput status was given to soldiers.
  • Occupation

Critics of Caste system allege that there was no freedom/choice to individuals in matter of occupation in the past. They were forced people to employ themselves in hereditary occupations. This allegation is not wholly truth.

In ancient Europe and Asia also, occupations were not only hereditary, but also limited it to be followed by specific classes only. It was considered natural and convenient for a person to do a job, which he knew, the knowledge of which, he acquired in a natural way.

  • Changes brought in by Industrial revolution

It was the industrial revolution, which had changed the trend. Now total aversion of modern youth from their traditional occupation has rendered millions unemployed or underemployed or confused about what they want to do. They waste their time, energy and efforts in search of white collared jobs rather than pursuing jobs, which suits to their knowledge, aptitude and qualifications. There is more job-satisfaction, happiness, success or contentment in doing a job, one knows well rather than in stepping on someone else’s toes.

Sir John Shore, who was Governor General of India during 1793-1798, observed that there was considerable latitude in matter of work in India. Among many castes, it was constantly found that one brother pursuing hereditary vocation and another entering army. HT Colebrooke also confirms it, “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.”

  • Alternative ideologies to provide breathing space

In the past, whenever rigidities and discriminatory 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.

Modern India

Most of the allegations against caste system, which were there in the past, can not be justified now in modern India. Process of modernization, industrialization, spread of education and growing awareness among masses have already brought to an end slowly but steadily many of the discriminatory practices of Caste system. It has become more liberal and less restrictive in all walks of life. Castes no longer enjoy legal or religious sanctions. Expulsion from castes means little, while earlier it meant complete social ostracism. Old style of authority and power exercised by caste-elders has already diminished. 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.

Constitution of India

Preamble of the Indian Constitution promisesto 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. Article 15 of the Constitution prohibits any kind of discrimination on grounds of caste, race, religion, gender or place of birth; Article 16 gives equality of opportunity in matter of public employment, Article 338 creates National commission for Scheduled Castes to safeguard their interests etc.

Legislations for equal opportunities

A number of amendments in the Constitution and legislation have been passed to remove the disabilities of backward people. Un-touchability has been declared a crime. Bonded labor is abolished by law. Civil Rights Act, 1955, aims to eliminate injustice against weaker sections. Amendment to Prevention of Atrocities Act (SCT) 1989 provides for stern punishments for offenses committed against SCT by Upper Castes. Special Courts, under SCT Act, have been established for punishing officials, if found guilty. Still, there is no respite from discriminatory practices. Why?

Reasons for the miseries of downtrodden

There are many reasons, why people do not get respite from discriminatory practices. There is no denial of the fact that with the passage of time, and for a long time, living under alien rule, caste system had developed many deformities. The system became too rigid to keep its identity continuing. Still it is not so much because of the caste-system, but because of bad politics and poor governance, that millions of people have still to suffer discrimination and exploitation in modern India. Some of the causes are as following –

  • Emergence of Political Identities

During their imperial rule, the British had divided the Indian society into five major groups, giving each one an independent political identity based on the political power and the amount of wealth, they hold. The water-tight compartmentalization of Indian society had been done by Censuses during British rule into Minorities, Scheduled Castes, now popularly known as Dalits or SCs, Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward castes (OBCs) and Higher Castes.

  • Political compartmentalization of Indian society

Modern Indian society has been polarized on caste and communal basis into following unbridgeable sections – Upper castes, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled tribes, Other Backward Class and Minorities. Stratification of Indian society has been done in most insensitive manner for the purpose of balancing the power. It has become a bye-word for Indian politicians.

  • Poor execution of rules and regulations

Indian society is sharply divided into two broad divisions- “haves” and “have-nots”. The most important factors responsible for disparities are present-day-politics, irrational and corrupt ways of pursuing the paternal policies of the government at cetral and State levels and government’s failure to address real issues.

  • Use of ‘Caste’ as the most powerful tool to create vote-banks

 ‘Caste’ has become for the present-day political leaders as the easiest and most powerful tool to sway public emotionally and to create a larger vote bank. It may be called ossification of caste-system fallen into the hands of power brokers and vote guzzlers.

  • Priority to abstract issues in order to divert public attention

Day in and day out, public attention is being diverted from real issues and public sentiments are aroused by floating in political world abstract issues like discrimination, social justice, affirmative action/reservations, secularism. Sectional interests are being promoted on caste basis. Real issues like mass-scale illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, inflation, deteriorated law and order situation, increasing violence or general coarsening of moral fiber of the Indian society are pushed into the background.

  • Centralization of control systems

There is complete centralization of control systems in the hands of a few individuals, families and groups irrespective of castes or creed. They have enough money, muscle and political power plus and the support of criminals.  They are flourishing day by day and control almost all the national resources. They enjoy life at cost of tax-payers. This very small section of society virtually controls the destiny of millions. They have a say in almost every walk of national life.

  • Corruption

Corruption has become a major/perennial impediment to implement various developmental schemes. Ignorance and pessimist attitude of masses makes corrupt persons bold. Once the public raises its voice against arbitrary behavior/actions of powerful lobby, all discrimination and malpractices would get automatically controlled.

  • Aversion form human, moral or traditional values

Aversion of people from human, moral or traditional values has aggravated the problem. The total concentration of educated people is on pursuit of money and materialistic pleasures by hook or crook. Favoritism, in-discipline, violence, corruption, and chase of materialism based on ruthless competition have given sharp rise to disparities and discrimination. It leads to cut-throat competition and creates rift amongst different groups. Political expediency and opportunism has made sectional forces more assertive/aggressive in attitude and vocal about their rights but ignores duties.

  • Reconcile the claims of growth with the claims of equity

It is one of the big challenges for the government to reconcile the claims of growth with the claims of equity. Compassion, sensitivity, equality or fraternity can not be imposed or enforced by any outside agency or authority. Such a step may prove to be a cause of social unrest. It has to be in-built in the social economic and political system of a country through education and awareness – education, which is the source of knowledge and power; and awareness, which comes from availability of information.

  • Narrow loyalties of caste and religion

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

  • measures taken by the Government

In Independent India, Governments at centre and the provinces are continuously thrusting upon the public many discriminatory/lofty/populist rules, regulations and policies in the name of helping “poor masses”. Common men especially belonging to upper castes feel threatened, helpless and suffer from discriminatory policies of the government. Protective policies and laws can neither convert an iniquitous Society into an equitable one, nor does it help in any way the vulnerable, oppressed and submerged masses.

Most of measures taken by the Governmental authorities touch the problems superficially at its periphery only. Most of the solutions pursued by the government are totally unrelated to day to day problems of common man in real life. Instead of benefiting or helping the poor, on one hand such developmental programs increase corruption, and on the other it encourages lethargy, agitation and attitude to depend on authorities for each and everything.

‘Reservation policy’ as means to end discrimination

Successive governments both at the centre and provinces are trying to tackle problem of discrimination and disparity by openly favouring policies of ‘reverse discrimination’, which give more importance to distribute power on pro-rata basis by fixing quota. The sustainable development of submerged sections can be achieved by providing quality of education to everybody and making people aware of different opportunities available to them.

Reservation policy can hardly be able to bring in desired transformation in the society. In a democratic country, discrimination anywhere or in any form – be it positive or negative – is the most objectionable thing. The problem of discrimination or disparities can not be tackled by fixing up quotas or by adopting the path of reverse discrimination or treating a few sections of society more than equals by entitling them for preferential treatment by the governmental agencies in different spheres of life.

Political leaders of various political parties desire to fix up quotas in all governmental institutions for different sections of society on pro-rata basis. Such a demand is based on negative exhortations. The government’s policy of Reservation in jobs and education has resulted in a tough competition amongst various castes to demand a lower status, so that they can also avail more concessions and facilities.

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

Meaning of ‘No Discrimination’

‘No discrimination’ does not mean sharing power equally. More than thousand million people can not be accommodated in power echelons. It means a harmonious partnership between people belonging to different sections of society and the authorities responsible for governance. Governance should be done on the basis of mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust. Governance is a continuing process, through which conflicting interests and diverse needs of all the people are looked-after and a cooperative action is taken.

Pathetic condition of upper castes belonging to middle class

Middle class has always been the backbone of society. Now the voice of upright and honest people belonging to middle class is being continuously throttled mercilessly. They are being punished for following sincerely family-planning norms, which has decreased their numbers. In present day vote-bank politics based on game of numbers, it is very easy now for the pursuers of political power to sideline them.

Lower castes more tenacious about their caste-identity

Today lower castes, which are more tenacious about their caste than the higher, could be easily swayed emotionally in the name of caste-based reservations. Reservations Policy has given the ‘backwards’ an identity as a composite and powerful political pressure group. They have grouped together and increased their numerical strength. It has helped them to emerge as a powerful and assertive pressure group and unite, organize and fight vigorously for the seats of power.

A large number of educated people of so-called ‘Backward-castes’ have already entered into the corridors of power and are occupying important places, exercising authority. Dalits and Muslims are being wooed with vigor by all major national political parties. Even Naxalite groups find in Dalits an allies, as most of their action squads are formed of Harijans. No political party could dare to annoy them. All concede to their demands openly or discreetly.

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

Conclusion

It is a matter of shame that after giving so much constitutional and government protection to weaker sections, incidents of discrimination keep on increasing. Instead of over-looking the interests of the whole society or whole of the nation, it is desirable that law-implementing machinery should get tough on perpetrators of injustice. Discriminatory practices or oppression of weaker sections of society is unacceptable to the whole of humanity.

Instead of blaming an invisible institution (caste-system) for discrimination, deep wisdom and honesty of purpose is needed to find out right methods and courage to strive for it sincerely.

So-called ‘Backward castes’ need to understand the spirit of Indian Constitution and try to adapt thinking, culture and life-style of the mainstream of the nation. Otherwise, there will always be cultural rifts, both in their lives and minds, threatening the unity of the nation from time to time.

Today, when the whole world is reeling between economic depression and and terrorism, people expect from the government to bring in change in economic situation and in fight against terrorism. Hate, jealousy, anxiety or fear leads to violence and give rise to wars, riots, antagonisms and class or caste conflicts.

After-effects of the great economic depression of 2008 has brought many social and economic changes and aggravated the problems for present government. The GDP growth has fallen there, business investment has dipped alarmingly. Unemployment has risen.

Therefore, Government needs to be very careful, while planning for measures – developmental or punitive – to be taken. The needs and aspirations of the people as a whole should be taken care of by the government, not of any specific section of the society.

Present atmosphere demands to resolve sensibly the differences and clashes of interests peacefully with rational thinking and understanding for each other. For a change, India needs collective nation building efforts of both the authorities and the public with a sense of justice, commitment to the nation, understanding for each other and consciousness about duties along with rights.

Winding up

Following steps could to be taken to bring to an end discrimination of any kind –

  • First of all, government should find out root causes of discrimination and deprivation,
  • Government should identify without bias vulnerable groups, which are discriminated against by the present modern society. It should not be on the basis of caste.
  • Identify the special needs or problems of each group separately,
  • Accordingly plan about the measures to be taken to protect the interests of vulnerable individuals.
  • Well meaning judicious laws, which could directly improve day today life of common men, should be carefully legislated.
  • Such laws should not remain only on papers but have to be executed/implemented in real life for dealing with social injustice effectively.
  • To give relief to ‘Have-nots’, the way out is to tackle effectively local crimes against common man whether in rural or urban areas and improve law and order position.
  • The money meant for the development purposes should actually be spent for which it is intended i.e. the betterment of submerged sections of society.
  • Power generally rests with physical strength, wealth and knowledge. Knowledge brings in both physical strength and wealth. Therefore, stress on knowledge through ‘education for all’ should be the top priority for the government for empowerment of weaker sections, which are victims of discrimination.
  • Widespread human rights violations should be stopped by punishing the culprits.
  • It is necessary to put honest and right persons at crucial positions. There are very few people, who have the knowledge/understanding what to do, how to do and when to do;

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

January 15, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Caste system for an Indian

 

“In modern understanding of caste system, the element of caste is overestimated/predominant and the element of system is underestimated/suppressed considerably”

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

Caste system is one of the oldest social institutions in the world. In the formation of a caste, same language, residents of same place, same way of living, residents of same place same culture play an important role.

It has survived the vicissitudes of time and saved itself by erosion from within and assault from outside, only because of its flexibility and adaptability. Unlike Islam or Christianity, it has brought different groups and communities, at different point of time, under one umbrella without any conversion. 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.

Caste system and its adaptability –  It took different shades and meaning with the changing times and places.  It is different in context of village, locality, region or religion.

Starting initially from tribal communities being nomadic or semi nomadic and egalitarian it transformed into Pastoral tribal society and then into a settled agricultural society, confining its activities and life within a small area or territory. Agricultural society leisurely evolved its structures and systems over about 2000 years and kept on coping with the slow changes, time brought in.

Its nature changed under foreign rule in the country for centuries. Its shades have been different during the periods of industrialization and modernization and globalization. Once changed, the system never returned to its original form. Still it presents one of the oldest social institution and a continuous and uninterrupted living culture still existing in the whole world. It has survived vicissitudes of time, saved itself by erosion from within and assault from outside only because of its adaptability.

Covers almost the entire social fabric of India – Caste-system covers almost the entire social fabric of India. To almost all Indians – Hindus as well as social groups belonging to other communities, caste appears as a natural, dear and inevitable unit of society. Family, extended family, Kula, Caste and religion are the fundamental social institutions for them. An individual is a natural member of a family, which is the unit of an extended family, extended family of Kula (clan), Kula of a tribe (Vish) and a tribe of a Jana or Jati (Caste). This way, Caste is nothing else but a large extended family divided into various social groups. bonded by same language, customs, thinking and way of living.

Caste is second only to the family – where a child learns his first lessons in human values and relationships- in widening a person’s social radius and in getting importance in his/her private and occupational life. Caste and Indian culture are inseparably related by traditional customs. It is virtually impossible to think of one without another.

In the past or at present, quite often Caste-system has been criticized vehemently by politicians, intellectuals or reformers from other faiths like Budhhism, Islam or Christianity. Sometimes, even attempts have been made to wipe it out completely from Indian scene, create a casteless society or make drastic changes in Indian social structure. After each assault, it re-emerged with greater force.

All the strength of caste system comes from its foundation pillars, which are based on principle of Varna (which later on gave birth to caste system), accompanied by principles of Dharma, and Karma. Principle of ‘Varna’ gave Indian Society a stable, sustainable and a solid social structure with a system of thought, a way of life and sense of direction.

These principles together have ensured the continuity despite numerous foreign invasions, migrations and assimilation of various groups under one umbrella called Hinduism. Principle of Varna has engineered a system for social stratification placing people into different groups according to aptitudes, occupation, and location. Principle of Dharma taught Indians to place one’s duties above rights and principle of Karma imbibed in them tolerance and belief in concepts like ‘live and let others live’ as well as ‘Vasudhev-Kutumbkam’ (meaning whole world is a family). The multicentricity of present society has given it a syncritic character,  pluralistic tradition and an absorptive nature of internalizing alien influences.

Caste still appears to most of the Indians as a very dear and natural social institution . However, some people regard India a caste-ridden society, and caste system as problematic, complicated, discriminatory and exploitative. In such a situation, it is interesting to know what actually caste system is? Has it become obsolete and useless in modern context? How, when and why did it come into existence and develop in its present form? What have been the factors, which contributed to its development? What are the strengths and weaknesses of caste system? How much influence does it still exercise on modern Indian society? (The answers to these queries are in the posts “Origin of caste system of India” and “Caste-system and Discrimination”).

 

November 11, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kaka Kalelkar on assessing of backwardness on caste-basis

When you are in the light, everything follows you. But when you enter into dark, even your own shadow doesn’t follow you.” Hitler

Introduction – There was a time when people thought it a stigma to be called Backward.  Numerous caste groups clamored for higher caste status in Census operations of 1901, 1911, and 1921 and supported their claims with different factors. But now in 21st century casteism in politics and its use as a tool of social engineering has reversed the trend.   Different groups are vyeing with each other to be included, preferably in SC/ST list, failing in OBCs list. Caste-politics through protectionist/preferential policies have created a vested interest in remaining or pretending to be backward.  It has glamorized ‘backwardness’.

In accordance with the provision in Article 340, the first Backward Commission, with Kaka Kalelkar as its Chairman, was appointed in Jan 1953 by the Government of India, to recommend measures for the advancement of backward sections of Indian society.  It submitted its Report in March 1955.  The decision to de-emphasize caste in 1951 Census led the Commission to face paucity of data (caste-wise) on literacy, income, occupation of various communities.[i] The Commission depended mostly on the existing lists of states based on castes and communities as units and   the list of Ministry of Education while prescribing following four criteria to identify Backward Castes/communities –

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

Wayback in 1955, eight years after the Independence and five years after the constitution of India came into effect on 26 January 1950, the Commission had suggested –

  •  Education for all.
  • As an Economic and industrial measure, reorganizing Village economy like development of livestock, minimum wages, development of rural and cottage industries, hand-loom industry, village oil industry, coir industry.  Village handicrafts etc.
  • Improving communication system.
  • Stress on public health and rural water supply.
  • Taking care of rural housing.
  • Awareness to fight social evils and superstitions.

Had the successive governments focussed their attention on these suggestions instead of focussing their attention on abstract issues like linking caste as the basis of backwardness, social justice, empowerment of weaker sections through caste-based quota system, secularism etc, India would have been a developed nation by now. It is now that The present Modi Government has drawn the attention of the government and the people towards the schemes like of ‘Skill India’  and ‘Start-up India’ etc. depends how sincerely and honestly these ideas are implemented at ground level.

In the last minute, the chairman himself (Three of its members had already opposed linking caste as the basis of backwardness) repudiated its acceptance of caste as basis of backwardness and his recommendations for Reservations in public service. In his note of dissent Mr. Kalelkar noted-

  • It would have been better, if we would determine the criteria of backwardness on principles other than caste. [iii] According to him, caste test was repugnant to democracy and the objective “To create a casteless and classless society by perpetuating and encouraging caste divisions.[iv]
  •  It is not enough to prove that one community is regarded inferior by another.  The Christians may look down the Jews and the Jews may retaliate with the same feelings.  The Brahmins may regard Banias as inferior and the Bania, in his turn, may regard the Brahmin as a mere social dependent.  Such opinions and prejudices do not come in the way of the full growth of the backward communities either educationally or economically; if backward communities have neglected education, it is because they had no use for it.   Now they have discovered their mistake. It is for them to make necessary efforts for their prosperity.  They will naturally receive whatever help is available to all citizens. [xi]
  • Backwardness could be tackled on a basis or a number of bases other than that of caste.  Once we eschew the principle of caste, it will be possible to help the extremely poor and deserving from all communities… This would also enable us to remove the bitterness, which the extremely poor and helpless amongst the upper class Hindus feel that they are being victimized for no fault of their own.[v]
  • The special concession and privileges accorded to Hindu Castes acted as a bait and bribe inciting Muslim and Christian Society to revert to caste and caste prejudices and the healthy social reforms effect by Islam and Christianity were being thus rendered null and void. [ix]
  • We are not blind to the good intentions and wisdom of our ancestors, who built the caste structure.  It was perhaps the only way, through which they could teach the nation to forget and rise above racial clanship, tribal and similar biological groupings of society and to accept a workable arrangement of social existence based on cultural hierarchy and occupational self-government. [vi]
  • It would be well, if representatives of the Backward classes remembered that whatever good they find in the Constitution and the liberal policy of the Government, is the result of the awakened conscience of the upper classes themselves. Whatever Government is doing by way of atonement is readily accepted and acclaimed by the nation as a whole.  The upper classes have contributed their share in formulating the policies of the Government Removal of untouchability, establishment of equality and social justice, special consideration for backward classes, all these elements found place in the Constitution without a single voice of dissent from the upper classes. [ii]
  • Communalism and casteism are bound to destroy the unity of the nation and narrow down the aspiration of our people[vii]
  • “National solidarity in a democratic set up demands Government to recognize only two ends – the individual at one end and the nation as a whole at the other.  Nothing should be encouraged to organize itself in between these two ends to the detriment of the freedom of the individual and solidarity of the nation.  All communal and denominational organizations and groupings of lesser and narrower units have to be watched carefully, so that they do not jeopardize the national solidarity and do not weaken the efforts of the nation to serve the various elements in the body politic with equity.  Mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust are the touchstone, on which all communal and denominational activities will be tested and anything that undermines it, will be expected and brought to book.[viii]
  • It is only, when a community or a group is proved to be working under a special handicap and is not allowed to freely function as a citizen, that the state may intervene and make a special provision for the advancement of such under privileged and handicapped communities or persons… A general formula for helping all persons to whatever caste or community, they may belong, should be made. [x]
  • n his letter forwarding the report, Kalelkar remarked I am definitely against Reservation in Government services for any community for the simple reason, that services are not meant for the servants, but they are meant for the service of society as a whole.

Mr. Kalelkar concluded that giving an additional weapon in weak hands is no remedy. The remedy of empowering the weaker section is worse than the evil, they were out to combat. I

GB Pant, Minister of Home Affairs, while presenting the Report in Parliament.    had commented “If the entire community, barring a few exceptions, has thus to be treated as backwards, the really needy would be swamped by the multitude. They would hardly receive any special attention or adequate attention. Nor would such dispensation fulfill the condition laid down in Article 340 of the Constitution, [xii]

It is quite unfortunate that even 71 years of self-rule, almost all political parties in India and their leaders use the ladder of caste to propagate their ideas and influence the opinion of poor illiterate masses in their favour just to create vote-banks for themselves.  Why are they not able to see the ill-effects of politicization of castes. The post – Mandal era is witnessing the hysteria over job Reservation and other such protectionist policies. Other sections of society are demanding Reservation with insistence.

Inter and Intra-Caste rivalries have been increasing continuously. Every caste is a conglomeration of sub-castes and sub-sub-castes. For political actions, they come together, bearing the same caste tag. But they do not forget their separate identities.   The unity of backward castes under the label of Dalits is an illusion created by vested interests. Neither the term Schedule caste”, nor OBC nor Dalit makes them a homogenous class. In-fights between these categories and created social disorder, making the task of governance difficult.

In the opinion of MSS Pandian, an academic with Madras Institute of Development Studies, the current inter caste rivalries are part of a series of periodic revolt, whose prime object is self assertion.[ Sunday, pp. 12-13, and 8-14, June, 1997]

 

[i]  71 First Backward Class Commission, 1955, P 17.

[ii]         BCCI, para III.

[iii]        BCCI, para XIV.

[iv]        BCCI, para XIV.

[v]         BCCI para VI.

[vi]        BCCI para IV.

[vii]        BCCI, para 59.

[viii]       BCC I, para IV.

[ix]        BCCI, para IV.

[x]         BCC I, para VIII.

[xi]        BCCI, para  VII & VIII.

[xii]        Report of the Ministry of Home Affairs, 1956, p4.

August 7, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Need of more All India Service

In every country, there are certain posts in its administrative set up which might be called strategic from the point of view of maintaining the standard of administration. In a large country like India, where perplexing diversities in geography, language, race and culture have existed through the ages and pervaded every aspect of life, it is necessary to evolve some systems and standards, whereby the interest of the nation as a whole can be taken care of. Keeping it in mind, the British Government in India had evolved the system of All India Services.

India has been fortunate enough to inherit from the past a system of administration, which is common to whole of the nation and it knows what are these strategic posts. All India Services provide manpower to these strategic posts throughout India.

The shift from traditional to Developmental tasks after the Independence and now Globalization and liberalisation, demand that apart from control functions, there should be more All India Services in developmental sector also at par with IAS in other disciplines as well – be it economic, educational, legal, industrial, technical, scientific or agriculture.

Even on the eve of the Government of India Act 1919, the following services were in existence –

  • Indian Civil Service;

  • Indian Police Service;

  • Indian Forest Service;

  • Indian Education Service;

  • Indian Medical Service;

  • Indian Civil Veterinary Service

  • Indian Forest Engineering Service

  • Indian Agricultural Service; and

  • Indian Service of Engineers.

As the national movement gained momentum, of all the nine All India service, only IAS and IP remained unaffected and continued to act as an unifying force. All the technical services were either abolished or provincialized by the time India got Independence. Even though independent India was committed to rapid socio-economic development, the services engaged in control functions – IAS and IP – were allowed to continue. B.B. Misra says, “Most of the other services were abolished. Considerations of national unity, the positive need of India’s all-round development and the attainment of a minimum uniform standard in administration were allowed to go by default.”

After Independence, some leaders as well as some states like Punjab, West Bengal, J&K etc., became critical of All India Services. Pt. Nehru the first Prime minister of Independent India also wished that the ICS and the similar services must disappear completely.

But Sardar Patel, while presiding the Premiers Conference in 1946, advised that it was not only advisable, but essential to have the institution of All India Service for efficient service and for introducing certain amount of freshness and vigour in the administration of both at the centre and in the provinces.. “This will give experience to the personnel at the Centre leading to efficiency and administrative experience of the district, which will give them an opportunity of contact with the people. They will thus keep themselves in touch with the situations in the country and their practical experience will be most useful to them. Besides, their coming to Centre will give them a different experience and wider outlook, in a larger sphere. A combination of these two experiences will make the services more efficient. They will also serve as a liaison between the provinces and the government.

Again, speaking in the Constituent Assembly, Sardar Patel said “There was no alternative to this administrative system….The Union will go, you will not have a united India, if you have not a good All India Service, which has the independence to speak out its mind, which has a sense of security …. If you do not adopt this course, then do not follow the present Constitution…. This constitution is meant to be worked by a ring of service, which will keep the country intact. There are many impediments in this Constitution, which will hamper us. ….. These people are the instruments. Remove them and I see nothing but a picture of chaos all round the country.”

As the result of Sardar Patel’s endeavours, the Constitution of India provided, “Without depriving the states of their right to form their own civil services, there shall be All India Services recruited on All India basis with common qualifications, with uniform scale of pay and members of which alone could be appointed those strategic posts throughout the Union.” All India Services are to be governed by Article 312 of the Indian Constitution. Also Indian Administrative service (IAS) and Indian Police Service(IPS) got incorporated in Article 312(2) of the Constitution.

During early 60’s, a need was felt to create more all India service, so that apart from control functions, best talents could be provided on strategic posts in the areas of development/specialised functions as well at various levels from district to state to central government. Talented persons with specific knowledge, skills, attitude and techniques were needed to perform developmental tasks in an efficient way, to co-ordinate and settle differences between different provinces and to meet different kinds of challenges of new economy and current socio-political developments.

In accordance with the Constitutional provision for creation of more All India Services, Rajya Sabha adopted a Resolution, on 6.12.1961, for the creation of All India Service of Engineers, Indian Forest Service and Indian Medical and Health Service, and later on for Indian Legal Service and Indian Education Services. Out of it, only Indian Forest Service could be formed. For other services, state Governments of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Punjab, West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and Himachal Pradesh revised their stand mainly on the ground of State Autonomy. Indian Service of Engineers, Indian Medical Service, Indian Legal Service and Indian Education Services are still waiting to come into existence in the near future.

The vision of Sardar Patel in continuing the Institution of All India Services proved to be a step in right direction even after so many years of Independence. In 1967, Setalvad Team on Center-State relation had commented: “The Indian scene has changed in many ways since then. But in this respect, the change that occurred over the years serves on to confirm all that Sardar Patel said with prophetic insight many years ago. It should be needless to affirm the continued validity of all the objectives underlying the All India Services and yet in a country in which the constituent parts are possessed with preemptive desire to assert their separations, such an affirmation is solely needed. The value of a system considered necessary for the administrative unity of the country despite the ubiquity of Congress party rule and found indispensable for securing fair play and competence in administration despite the acute awareness of their need in the most potent political figures at a time, when their power was untrammeled and their right ran through the length and breadth of the land, can in the less favorable conditions of today be ignored only on pair of perilous consequences. Continuity also demands a system which can maintain links in administrative behavior throughout the country, while political changes visit different states and the Center”.

The Patel Study Team of the ARC also acknowledged, “Not only do the original Considerations for which the IAS was set up in the beginning hold good even today, but they apply with every greater force in some respects. There are some additional reasons like the emergence of a new tier of representative government, which make it necessary that a service structure like the IAS should continue for the foreseeable future.”

July 3, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Government Services and Upper age limit at its entry level

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

Henery George

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

The reasons for age-relaxation and other concessions in 1947 ,-(Situation at the time of Independence) – When India got independence in 1947, exploitative rule previous rulers had already drained much of India’s wealth.

Condition Before Independence – Earlier Turks, Afghans and Mughals continuously invaded India and drained out the wealth of the nation to foreign lands. Afterward, when they made India their homeland, due to their intolerance towards Hindu subjects and imposition of Zeziya on Hindus, there was continuous pressure on the masses.

Later on, the new land revenue system had led to the rise of a new class of landlords, who wholeheartedly supported the British rule. Policy of Permanent Settlement led to the growth of absentee landlords living in luxury in towns and fleecing the tenants at will. The British policy of land revenue extracted as exorbitant amounts as possible from the peasants, which compelled the cultivators to live at the mercy of landlords, for the fear of eviction.

The poor farmers were caught into the clutches of moneylenders. The impoverishment of cultivators grew due to rack-renting, high rates of interest and uneconomic cultivation, resulting in large-scale alienation of land. Marginal farmers became landless laborers. The vast majority of people belonging to peasants, artisans sunk in poverty and misery. The exploitative policies of British overcrowded the agricultural sector.

British rulers discouraged local genius, cottage industries and fine arts. It made many traditional occupations obsolete. Their apathy towards indigenous skills, knowledge and occupations pushed millions backward in a very subtle manner. Many groups of rural artisans, craftsman and traditional occupations abandoned their traditional work. They either migrated to cities as industrial labor or became agriculture labor.  Inequality between various sections of society increased. The most vulnerable position was of lower strata of society; tribal and the women at the time of independence.

Condition at the time of Independence – When India got independence in 1947, the exploitative British rule had already drained much of India’s wealth, left it divided and bleeding from the partition of the country, which made millions of Indians impoverished and homeless. Majority of Indian people living in rural, urban and tribal areas were living in abject poverty. There existed a noticeable inequality between various sections of society. The most vulnerable position was of lower strata of society; tribal and the women at the time of independence. Millions of people in rural, urban and tribal areas were living in abject poverty.

The sight of their plight, life-styles and agonies were enough to make one’s hair stand on end. For them, even one full meal was a rare luxury. They were under-fed, under-read and under-clothed. They lacked gainful employment and were unable even to fulfil their basic needs of their day to day life. They were not leading a life of human-beings having dignity and self-respect.

Immediately after independence – Immediately after independence, it was felt that underprivileged class badly needed governmental interference to enable them to live with dignity and self-respect and get out of the condition of abject poverty and slave like position, in which they were living so far. Therefore, National leaders favoured not only to continue the practice of reservations along with other some facilities/concessions in government jobs of provinces, to the weaker sections of society, but extended it to the jobs in Government of India’s jobs as well in order to –

  • To remove age-old inequalities (either inherited or artificially created), social and religious disabilities of the deprived people, on account of their social segregation and cultural isolation.
  • To facilitate and promote equal participation of all in the nation building activities.
  • To protect underclass from all forms of social injustice and exploitation.[ii]

Accordingly quotas were fixed in government services through reservation policy. Reservations are regarded as the highest form of special provisions, while preferences, relaxation, concessions and exemptions are the lesser forms. [i] It widened the opportunities for under-represented social groups to get entry into government services and attain positions of power in the governance of the country on equal terms with the advantaged and advanced groups.

Hope belied – The constitution-framers hoped that within 10-20 years, provision of extra facilities would facilitate upward mobility of the submerged sections of the society. They would be empowered enough to join the mainstream of the nation and could directly participate without any crutches in nation-building activities. It would democratize Indian political, social and economic system. The administration would be more sensitive and responsive to the needs of the disadvantaged sections. However, Such measures did not yield desired results. More than 70 years have passed, but none of these expectations could be materialized till now.

Late-entry into educational institutions – Initially, for submerged sections of society, it was a big problem to seek admissions their wards in educational institutions at the same age as usually the youngsters of well-settled families did. There were many reasons for it like abysmal living conditions, shortage of schools/colleges near their homes, earning money more important for them rather than spending their time in schools/colleges etc.  They also took more time to get a graduate degree than general category candidates because of the family background and lack of proper atmosphere. They  found it difficult to compete with general candidates of the same age-group at the same standards; that too in three or four attempts as were given to general category candidates. Therefore, with age relaxation, they were allowed to SC/ST allowed to take as many attempts, to appear in the competitive examination, as they could avail. No restriction on numbers.

Purpose to give concessions – It is said that “Prescription works, when diagnosis is correct.” Initially, the effort to save the downtrodden from inferiority complex and self-pity, to bring them into the mainstream and to remove the age-old inequalities, every thing altogether, compelled the government to give a little push to submerged sections of society. To empower the marginalized sections of society, the authorities of that time gave special concessions/privileges to compete with the stronger, inspire them and make their entry easier and possible into the echelons of power.

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

Who are underprivileged before and after Independence?

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

Criteria to decide Backwardness – However some sections of society had pressurized the government so much that  on July 1934, the government issued an order instructing to schedule a list of people entitled for preferential treatment in matter of education, appointment in Government and special electoral representation. It was difficult to decide whom and by what standard must the people be included in the list of backwards.

Problems in deciding – There was not much problem to decide about who were the untouchables in the South and Central Provinces. But northern and eastern states posed the problem to select groups, which ought to be treated at par with the untouchables of Southern and Western part of India. In Madras, Bombay and Central Provinces, untouchables formed a distinct and separate element of population. All non-Brahmins were included in the list. But in other provinces, especially in the north, untouchability was linked with unclean occupation. Untouchables were very much an integral part of the Hindu order.

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

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

Finally, Simon Commission in 1935 first coined the term ‘Scheduled Castes’. The untouchable castes from each British province was scheduled. This was on the basis of 1931 census of then India. This list was then published by Government in 1936 as ‘The Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1936’.

After Independence, weaker sections of Indian society –  After Independence,  Government of India recognized the following sections of society as weaker sections of Indian society –

  • Scheduled castes,
  • Scheduled tribes,
  • Minorities,
  • Other Backward castes
  • Women

Scheduled Castes – The first list of Government of India was published after India became republic. The schedule of oppressed castes became Scheduled Castes.  Census of 1951 showed that the percentage of castes listed in the Schedule were 15.05% of the total population of India. The Government of India reserved 12.5% seats for SC (already enforce) of the total available vacancies in any one year on caste basis. The percentage of their Reservation was raised to 15% on 25.3.70.

Scheduled tribes – The schedule of Tribes became Schedule Tribe in 1958. “Blessed with nature, celebrated by anthropologists and exploited by modern society, this has been the story of tribal. Partly by habitat and geographical isolation and partly on the basis of their distinctive tribal characteristics, they have remained socially isolated and far away from the mainstream. The failure of government to address the needs of the people living in poverty stricken regions or to build public infrastructure and utilities, especially in education and health-care, has given rise to many rebellion outfits in tribal areas, which have capitalized on these factors to build their zone of influence.

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

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

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

Over the years after the independence, many persons, belonging to a few  advanced castes listed in beneficiary’s list of Scheduled castes took advantage of the concessions and schemes envisaged by the government, for the advancement of downtrodden, including fixing up percentage of quota for them in government jobs. They have now come up socially, formed a creamy layer and are directly participating in nation-building activities along with others. They have already joined the mainstream of the nation.

Now all the benefit is being taken away by the creamy layer of the castes listed in beneficiary’s list.They now exercise immense power and influence in politics of the nation.  All the governments, political leaders and political parties, are bound to listen the voice and accept their demands. Reason being that these schemes have benefitted only a few individuals, not all people belonging to the listed SC castes. Most of them people are still in a very shape. Their condition is still very depressing because of their poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, lack awareness, understanding, and vision. They are still unable to take the benefit from the plans and policies envisaged for their better future.

The powerful lobby of these beneficiary/privileged castes does not like economic criteria for giving concessions to all the poor people. They just do not wish to give up their caste-identity as SC/ST/OBC, as even now, it entitles them to avail many special concessions from the government in different areas.

Other Backward Castes – For identifying socially and educationally backward classes, the commission adopted the following criteria:

  • Low social position in the traditional caste hierarchy of Hindu society.
  • Lack of general educational advancement among the major section of a caste or community.
  • Inadequate or no representation in government services.
  • Inadequate representation in the field of trade, commerce and industry

OBCs form the majority. It comprises mostly rural people, who depend mainly on agriculture for their survival. Till 1992, it was left to provincial governments to look into the interests of OBCs. At national level, the first Backward Commission, under Kaka Kalelkar’s Chairmanship, was appointed in Jan 1953 by the Government of India, to identify OBCs and recommend measures for their advancement. It submitted its Report in March 1955. It had identified 2399 communities as backwards comprising about 32% of the total population. In designating OBCs, the government had to depend on the existing lists of the state based on castes and communities as units and the list of Ministry of Education.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Government Services meant for servicing the people – There is a proverb that “It is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than an ignorant satisfied.” Government Services are meant for servicing the people and to run the administration of a country smoothly. A band of ‘permanent, paid and professional/capable government employees in different disciplines of bureaucracy/civil services, well trained, efficient, prompt, just and sympathetic, are required to serve the people in a better way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Age relaxation unable in bringing desired results – As far as for reserved category, experience of yester years has shown again and again that age-relaxation and other concessions given to so-called ‘SC’,’ST’ or ‘OBC’ have not yielded the desired results. It has not benefited the the people for whom it was meant. Concessions need to be given only to deserving candidates on rational grounds at right time, in right quantity and quality. The way, these concessions have been bestowed to different sections so far, has given rise to many social, political and economic issues.

It has generated resentment in the hearts of general category candidates for not giving recognition to talent and merit. It has rather led the talents of the nation not to join government services, but to choose other avenues like migrate to advanced nation or join private sector.

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

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

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

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

Addition in the problems of downtrodden – 

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

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

Family burdenAspirant candidates belonging to backward sections of society keep on trying for government jobs, till they attain the age of 40-42. A very few lucky SCT aspirants for various government jobs are able to manage some financial aid from the government or any other institution/sources to meet their expenses for higher education, tuition fee, hostel expenses, getting admission in pre-entrance training centres plus a bit of pocket money.

For the rest, their poor parents meet the entire cost for higher education and other expenses up-till they attain the age of 40-42, while taking all the attempts for success. Not only the expenditure of their own studies falls on the already weak shoulders of their poor, deprived and disadvantaged old parents, but they have to bear full responsibility of raising-up the entire families of young aspirants and taking care of all their basic needs. It is because system of early marriage is prevalent amongst backward communities.. By the time, candidates of reserved category attain the age of 42, their own family with their children is already prepared.

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

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

 Waste of Human resourceAge relaxation has also led to the waste of Human resource as well. Every year lacs of youths chase a very limited jobs in government. Amongst them only a minuscule number succeed. The future of a vast majority of youth belonging to submerged sections gets jeopardized. In the hope of getting government jobs year after year, they waste most energetic, impressionable, imaginative and creative prime time of their youth. It appears to be a colossal waste of human resource. The energies of the younger generation could be gainfully utilized through proper career planning. The present system has become a vast machine producing educated unemployment/underemployment/unemployment.

Frustration of youth The failure generates frustration in the minds of youth. At the age of 40-42, after consuming all the attempts, a vast majority of unsuccessful SCT candidates just do not know how to find out new avenues for their future course of action. By that time, it becomes too late for them to find out a job elsewhere or to make a fresh start. It is difficult also for to get an opening elsewhere, for the simple reason that others – general candidates, who are non-beneficiaries of age relaxation advantage – have already occupied the space in other Government posts or in public sector or private sector, five years ago. It makes SCT youth more depressed and helpless.

Frustration of never finding a suitable job, abysmal living conditions and deterioration all round usually result in frustration, which is turn, generates inferiority complex and self-pity, considering themselves incapable of competing by general standards with others. Sometimes their frustration generates anger against others, leading them to violence and agitation. Instead of coming to terms with the situation, they develop an attitude to blame others for their lost opportunities and miseries.

Their anger easily finds illusionary base against an “Imaginary-enemy”, sometimes region-wise, sometimes community-wise and sometimes caste-wise or language-wise. Their anger forces many of them to join aggressive political groups to channel their anger and inchoate feelings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Analysis

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Democracy demands equal opportunity to all

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

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

Way out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Past, Present and Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

People, especially of developing and underdeveloped nations have to cover distance of centuries in decades, making the transition from agrarian society to industrial society and then to information society.  Science and technology have made their debut rather quite late there.  Today, the main thrust of the authorities should be on transferring knowledge, expertise, efficiency and application of science and technology through sound system of education and training.

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

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

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

Caste politics

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Caste’ earned a bad name during Imperial rule in India –  Philosophers, writers and intelligentsia of Western world propagate theories of racial superiority and thereby, justified the domination of white races over dark races of the globe. Historians like Mill, Wilson, and Ward vehemently denounced the culture, character and social structure of the native people.

Western sociologists from Max Weber to Louis Dumont, discredited Hindu religion as well, because it gave birth to caste-system.  Showing his occidental irritation, Kitts criticized caste-system, as lacking all rational arrangements. Many British thinkers held caste system responsible for all social evils and practices, feudal attitude, backward thinking, belief in dogmas and superstitions sustained by a unique set of rituals, beliefs and whimsical concept of purity and pollution.

They made caste appear as one of the greatest scourges of the country, which doomed large classes of men, to mental and physical degradation and kept them away from education, prosperity and honour. According to them, Caste system had created an iniquitous society, exploitative and oppressive by nature, which fostered caste-conflicts and caste rivalries.

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 drought of water from the hands or the cup of a person of a lower caste.  The Caste was made the excuse for the selfishness, covetousness, indolence and apathy of the individual.

However, there were some liberal British thinkers at that period also, who thought that criticism of caste system was over-drawn. Shore, the Governor-general, from 1792 to 1797, appointed by the court of directors governor-general of India in succession to Cornwallis regarded caste-system as a civil and religious distinction.  To him, its influence was so extensive, so minute and so intricate, as almost to defy generalization.  To a certain extent, its influence may have had the injurious effects described, but infinitely less than was usually supposed and that too were wearing away. (Hon’ble Fredrick John Shore, Indian Affairs,  pp 474.479)

It was also noticed during that period itself that many social groups lagged in the matter of modern education and employment in the government, Its process started long ago, since the business and administration of a large portion of India was being carried on in an alien language, first in Urdu and from 1844 onwards in English). Some had accepted that it was not so much, the social apathy, which kept the lower strata away from prosperity as, their ignorance, poverty, illiteracy and necessity to earn their livelihood right from an early age.

Ideological attack on Hindu social structure – The charges, which British ruler levied on caste system were not wholly correct. They perceived caste system as:

  • Highly Stratified System British vehemently criticized caste system for its being highly stratified, which divided the population into innumerable social groups, having distinct and diverse thinking and way of living styles. However, the British thinkers could not appreciate the role of caste system in integrating different tribes, groups and communities together under one system for centuries.  Instead of adopting the policy to convert the new groups in Hindu religion and thrusting on them its own values, thoughts, processes, superstructures and practices, Hindu religion, through caste system, presented an unique example in the world history – including all the incoming groups under one umbrella. They were not only welcomed and accommodated in Indian society but lived on their own terms.  It legitimized their beliefs, behavior patterns and life styles with freedom to evolve and change according to their internal rhythm.
  • Discriminatory System Caste system was criticized for its being prejudiced, high handedness or rude behavior of caste Hindus towards the lower strata of society. It was not very difficult for the British to find out a few examples for showing discrimination within a large country like India.

It is an anomaly that British, who themselves played discriminatory practices by keeping their railway compartments, waiting rooms, parks, clubs, hotels, places of other entertainment and residences segregated, criticized caste system as being discriminatory.

  • Criticized because of ranking of social groups based on concept of pure and impure – Gradation of professions and the position of social groups involved into various occupations depended on its being clean or unclean/pure or impure. Accordingly only learned Brahmins involved in intellectual pursuits, commanded the respect of the society and were were given the highest place in the society. Their stronghold was the centers of learning. Shudras engaged in menial jobs under the supervision of other three Varnas or associated with unclean occupations were placed at the bottom.  Brahmin groups associated with unclean jobs (like Maha-brahmins performing last rites), were also treated, more or less like Shudras.

Many studies have shown that in many parts of the country, like Punjab, Gujarat, and Marathi speaking areas of western India, tribal MP. Orissa, Bengal etc. people other than Brahmins held superior status. Iqbal Narain and PC Mathur inform that in Rajasthan, Rajputs and Kshatriyas given the highest rank because of their valor and military skills..In large part of peninsular Gujarat, according to Ghanshyam Shah Biswas, Banias had overshadowed Brahmins in economic and political areas for several centuries.  Maharashtra, Jayant Lele says, Brahmins were far behind the Maratha – Patils (village headman) and Maratha Deshmukhs (regional administrators).

In Orissa, Brahmin influence remained confined to small areas around the royal palaces.  Here too, warrior kings of Shudra and tribal origin sought Brahmins help to acquire Kshatriyas status.  Bengal was among the last areas to come into contact with Brahminical Hinduism.  It was only during the reign of Sen Guptas, that Kanyakubja Brahmins from Varanasi were invited to settle in Bengal. Brahmins never acquired status of dominant group there and remained just yet another Jati.

In Punjab, it was Jats, that were politically and economically dominant groups, says Prakash Tandon. Thakurs held prominent status in the eastern region of present day U.P. The Aine-Akbari informs that in the year 1600 AD, Thakur Zamindars paid more than two third of the total revenue in the middle Doab, Awadh and eastern parts of UP, Rohailkhand and Doab were controlled by Jat Chief-tons and later by Muslim Zamindars.  In Bihar, around Darbhanga region, Maithili Brahmins held political control, though they also continued their traditional occupations as priests and scholars of Sanskrit.

In fact, relations between various castes were expressed in terms of the idea of hygiene, cleanliness and purity.[ Srinivas, MN,  Social Change in Modren India,] Caste Hindus were very particular about eating dressed food, because it became stale very quickly. Undressed food or fruits were regarded pure, whatever hands it came from.

  • Position of Shudras – Critics allege that caste system has kept Shudras at bay. In Varna Vyavastha untouchables, though given a lower status, were very much an integral part of the society.  They performed essential social and economic tasks at community functions and in agriculture.  As far as Shudras causing pollution was concerned, Shore said that despite British being so powerful and the ruling community, the British were regarded at par with the lowest natives in point of caste. Yet a Brahmin in the service of Englishmen never hesitated in doing his duties. Certainly the lower castes are more tenacious on the subject of their caste than the higher.  A low caste man, if asked for a drop of water from his pot will often refuse, A Rajput or a Brahmin will not only consent, but will show his respect by offering it decently. [ Shore, Ibid. Pp 567-477] It was also alleged that laws of punishment were mild for caste Hindus, but severe and horrible for Shudras.[Ward, cited in Shore, p 66.] Shore said that it was impossible to say laws never were stringent for lower castes. Probably it might have occurred very seldom by a very bigoted prince or a bigoted Brahmin.  The horrible punishment to lower class did not exist, in general, during his times, nor had they been, perhaps for centuries, held in any more estimation, terror or respect, practically than bull or anathema issued by Pope Gregory the Seventh in England.
  • Disregard for menial work – It was alleged that giving Shudras, engaged in menial jobs, the lowest place in social hierarchy showed disregard of Hindus for menial work.  However, it is said that it was not the caste system, but the industrial revolution, which taught humanity to hate or escape from menial work.  The creation of new white collared jobs by British developed the attitude to discredit manual work.  The more a person withdrew from physical labor, the more civilized and qualified he was regarded by modern society.  Such an attitude lured all the sections of society to leave their traditional occupations and join white collared jobs in organised sectors, irrespective of their background, aptitude, skill and knowledge.
  • No choice in the matter of occupation – It is alleged that caste system forced people to do their traditional jobs only. It gave no choice. It served the interests of haves and enhanced the agonies of have-nots. Along with it, it killed initiative, creativity, innovation and caused unconscious avoidance of new activities. It prevented them from taking any risk.

The other side of the coin was that compulsion to do traditional jobs kept everyone engaged, made them contribute something to the society and saved them from any confusion in matter of job or being guided by whims and fancies in this matter. Professor Shah says, Caste system has a long range and permanent plan embracing every class of society. If applied to every individual, regardless of age and other conditions, no one could be unemployed. Nor could have one worked inappropriate to one’s ability, training, environment, aptitude and attainment, nor could any work be inadequately remunerated. [  Shah TK, Ancient Foundation of Economics, p 3, Times of India, dated 10.4.94.]

It is quite natural and convenient for a people to opt for traditional do a job, about which he knows, the knowledge of which, he acquires in a natural way. Then, it was the trend during ancient and medieval societies all-over the world. In England also it was not uncommon for a clergyman, a lawyer or soldier to educate and train his sons for his own profession. So was it in India. [Shore Fredrick John Notes on India Affairs Vol II P. 473] In Europe, under guild system, occupations not only hereditary, but also allowed to be followed by specific classes.  It was the industrial revolution, which had changed the world of employment in those countries as well.

  • Prevented upward mobility – Allegation that, caste system intentionally prevented upward mobility of lower strata of society is not wholly correct. In Western countries, thinkers regard that wealth rather than birth makes social mobility easier and faster, but they forget that wealth is also acquired through birth. And that is the reason why in West as well, there was a sharp distinction between nobility and common man.

This allegation is not fully correct. History is the proof that in ancient and medieval India, doors to rise to the highest rank or wealth, in the scale of society, were always open to the deserving persons belonging to any caste. Person belonging to the lowest rank could attain even sovereignty in India. Maratha Rajahs, most of whom were low caste, fought their way to their respective thrones against Mohammedan and commanded respect of all Indians much before the British assumed power in India.[ Shore Fredrick John-Notes on Indian Affairs Vol.II PP474-476-a rare book]

Shore had observed that there was considerable latitude in matter of work in India.  Among many castes, it was constantly found that one brother pursuing hereditary vocation and another entering army or farming. 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. [  Indian Express, dated 18.9.90, p 8.]

Through sophisticated ways and means, the British imperialists created differences between different social groups and communities. They developed a complex in Indian minds about their heritage and its social structure, values and systems. Modern education highlighted the weaknesses, rigidity and harshness of caste system towards weaker sections of the society.

  • Modern education had not only attracted the attention of the people towards social evils, but also highlighted weaknesses, rigidity, distortions developed into the system during centuries of alien rule and harshness of caste system towards weaker sections of the society. They carefully avoided telling the whole truth or strong points of Indian culture.            It disassociated many Indian educated people from their traditional way of learning, classical roots and knowledge. With it, faded Indian values, philosophies and traditions. It loosened the bonds of unity within a social group. It divided the Indian people. It loosened the bonds of caste system and encouraged educated youth to disobey the elders of their groups. A group of Indian intelligentsia started feeling the caste system to be indefensible.

How and when the term ‘caste’ came into existence? – One of the reason for the term ‘Caste’ earning a bad name is that it itself is an alien word, first used by British rulers. After consolidating its power, and firmly establishing themselves, the rulers used the term caste for different social groups existing in India, earlier known as “Jaatis’ under ‘Varna Vyavastha’.

They made a sincere effort to know about the people, whom they wanted to rule and chalk out strategies for the colonial governance. Throughout second half of the Nineteenth Century, British anthropologists worked very hard to collect data and to catalogue various social groups and tribes. 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. Later on to perpetuate their rule longer in India, British 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 first volume of Man in 1901 (the Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute) noted that the entire framework of native life in India is made up of groups of many social groups and numerous tribes. The status of each group in Hindu society and conduct of its individuals were, largely, determined by the rules of that particular group, to which he/she belonged.

Stratification of a society, a natural phenomenon 

Individuals differ from each other in natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics. Such differences are apt to give rise to the formations of different social groups and systems. In every society a number of groups emerge out of its functional necessity. Each society devises its own principles for stratification, for coordinated functioning of all parts together, for keeping its whole system fit and functional as well as for taking care of the interests of its people as a whole. Its basis may differ from place to place. It may be on basis of class, caste, religion, region, language or occupation.  ‘Class’ is the the basis of stratification in the Western Societies and Caste in India.

  •  Ranking of different classes in Western societies –  Usually factors like possession of wealth, occupation, education and qualifications, income, ownership of land, property etc. determines the status of individuals within a Western society. Hierarchical distinctions and status of different individuals within a society depend on their being powerful and powerless. Usually individuals belonging to upper class asserts more power and subordinate classes less power. Factors determining higher class status depend on their costume and grooming, mannerism, cultural refinement and political standing vis-à-vis church/temples/ mosques, government, and/or social clubs. Also use of honorary titles, reputation of honor or disgrace, language, race determine the degrees ofindividuals’ class status.
  • Caste’ as basis India – Caste system is an indigenous system, conceptualized, developed and practiced exclusively in India, it is difficult for Westerners and non-Indians to understand what ‘caste system’ is and what caste means to a common man. In India, stratification is done on the basis of caste system, it gives Indian society a distinguished identity, a solid social structure with a system of thought, way of life, and sense of direction. It is –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                         After Independence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Winding up

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

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

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

 

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January 5, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Similarities between Reservations in government jobs and story of ‘an ant and ‘a grasshopper’

“Work is worship. There is no substitute for hard-work”

Introduction

The similarity between the story of an ant and a grass hopper and present scenario of sharp contrast and disparities existing in the position of well-educated, enlightened people or intelligentsia and forward sections of Indian society, mostly belonging to upper castes, (demographically small in size like ant of this story) and poor masses (mostly belonging to lower castes and demographically large in numbers, like a grass-hopper of this story). During the whole of 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, people mostly belonging to upper castes, shaped the course of events for decades to come and even beyond by taking initiative to challenge the imperial power. They faced all the brunt of the British ruler’s anger, while engaged in the national and reform movements, worked hard, made many sacrifices to break the vicious web created by the British rulers for economic exploitation and their intrusion into Indian culture on one hand and on the other internal weaknesses of Indian society engulfed in evil practices and superstitions.

Old story of the ant and the grasshopper with new interesting twist (Quoted from rajesha.ind@gmail.com)

Old version of the story

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out the cold.

Modern version of the story

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Masses have been happy with the small favors bestowed on them by the rulers and short-term benefits by giving them an opportunity to be equal in social status with the advanced sections of society. They are totally unmindful of the after-effects and cruel intentions of the rulers to “divide” the Indian society and “rule” it as long as possible.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving. NDTV, BBC,CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. The World is stunned by the sharp contrast.

The present political scenario of the country as how the government deals with the issues controlling the fate of the nation and millions of its citizens is quite similar to it. How can this be that this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so? Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house. Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other grasshoppers demanding that grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter.

Amnesty International and Koffi Annan criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the grasshopper. The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the grasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance).

Opposition MP’s stage a walkout. Left parties call for “Bharat Bandh” in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry. CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among ants and grasshoppers. Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the ’Grasshopper Rath’.

Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the Prevention of Terrorism Against Grasshoppers Act [POTAGA]”, with effect from the beginning of the winter. Arjun Singh makes Special Reservation for Grass Hopper in educational Institutions & in Government Services. The ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the grasshopper.

In a ceremony covered by NDTV, Arundhati Roy calls it “a triumph of justice”. Lalu calls it ‘Socialistic Justice’. CPM calls it the ‘revolutionary resurgence of the downtrodden’. Koffi Annan invites the grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly.

Many years later … The ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multibillion dollar company in silicon valley. 100’s of grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere in India. As a result of losing a lot of hard working ants and feeding the grasshoppers, India remains -a developing country!!

Demand for national solidarity

On the issue to uplift of weaker sections of society, observations, comments and suggestions of Kaka Kalelkar, Chairman of the First Central backward Class Commission, 1955, goes well with the story told above. In his note of dissent, ha had expressed his views on the issue of Reservation in class I, II, III and IV Services of  Government of India.

  • According to him, “National solidarity in a democratic set up demands Government to recognize only two ends – the individual at one end and the nation as a whole at the other. Nothing should be encouraged to organize itself in between these two ends to the detriment of the freedom of the individual and solidarity of the nation. All communal and denominational organizations and groupings of lesser and narrower units have to be watched carefully, so that they do not jeopardize the national solidarity and do not weaken the efforts of the nation to serve the various elements in the body politic with equity. Mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust are the touchstone, on which all communal and denominational activities will be tested and anything that undermines it, will be expected and brought to book.” …
  • “Communalism and casteism are bound to destroy the unity of the nation and narrow down the aspiration of our people.” I
  • “The special concessions and privileges accorded to Hindu castes acted as a bait and bribe inciting Muslim and Christian Society to revert to caste and caste prejudices and the healthy social effect by Islam and Christianity were thus rendered null and void.” (Para iv)
  • When to bestow special concessions? – In his note of dissent, Kaka clarifies that “It is only when a community is proved to be working  under a special handicap and is not allowed to freely function as a citizen, that the state may intervene and make a special provision for the advancement of such under-privileged and handicapped communities or persons… A general formula for helping all persons to whatever caste or community, they may belong, should be made.” (Para viii)It is not enough to prove that one community is regarded inferior by another. The Christian may look down the Jews and the Jews may retaliate with the same feelings. The Brahmins ‘Learned section of society’ may regard ‘Banias’ (business community) as inferior and the ‘Bania’, in his turn, may regard a ‘Brahmin’ as a mere social dependent. Such opinions and prejudices do not come in the way of the full growth of the backward communities either educationally or economically….. It is for them to make necessary efforts for their prosperity. They will naturally receive whatever help is available to all citizens.” (Para vii and viii)
  • Views on caste structure – “We are not blind to the good intentions and wisdom of our ancestors, who built the caste structure. It was perhaps the only way, through which they could teach the nation to forget and rise above racial clan-ship, tribal and similar biological groupings of society and to accept a workable arrangement of social existence based on cultural hierarchy and occupational self-government.” iii
  • Contribution of ‘Upper Classes’ in uplift of weaker sections – He said “It would be well, if representatives of the Backward classes remembered that whatever good they find in the Constitution and the liberal policy of the Government, is the result of the awakened conscience of the upper classes themselves. Whatever Government is doing by way of atonement is readily accepted and acclaimed by the nation as a whole. The upper classes have contributed their share in formulating the policies of the Government Removal of untouchability, establishment of equality and social justice, special consideration for backward classes, all these elements found place in the Constitution without a single voice of dissent from the upper classes.” iv
  • Need to introduce sound system of basic education – “If the backward communities have neglected education it is because they had no use for it. Now that they have discovered their mistakes, it is for them to make the necessary efforts for making the leeway…As far as the assistance in the matter of education for the backward classes, I am convinced that introduction of basic education in all the states with help the backward communities to cultivate self-confidence. They will also have a better chance of succeeding in open competition and having the special advantage of mixing with people and serving them, they will prove themselves better administrators and leaders of society.”v
  •  ‘Services are not meant for the servants but for the service of the society as a whole’ – He also said very clearly, “I am definitely against Reservations in Government services for any community for the simple reason that services are not meant for the servants but for the service of the society as a whole. Administration must have the services of the best men available in the land and this may be found in all the communities. Reservation of post for certain backward communities would be as strange as Reservation of patients for a particular doctor. The patients are not meant to supply adequate or proportionate clientele to all the doctors, whatever be their qualifications.’ vi

Suggestion

Criteria of backwardness other than caste – “It would have been better, if we would determine the criteria of backwardness on principles other than caste.” (Para vii) According to him, “caste test was repugnant to democracy and the objective “to create a casteless and classless society by perpetuating and encouraging caste divisions.” (Para viii)

Kaka Kalelkar concluded that giving an additional weapon in weak hands was no remedy. The remedies the commission had suggested in its main Report were worse than the evil, they were out to combat. In his letter forwarding the Report, Kalelkar remarked, “I am definitely against Reservation in Government Services for any community for the simple reason that services are meant for the service of society as a whole.”

Reference:

Note of dissent, Paras i, iii, iv, v, vi, vii and viii, Report of First Backward Class Commission, 1955.

 

October 26, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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