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Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Ambedkar, “The Father/Maker of the Constitution of India?

 “ Without equality, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over the many. Equality without liberty would kill individual initiative. Without fraternity, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over the many.“ Ambedkar

Introduction –Baba Sahib Ambedkar was a genius.  He was basically a humanist. He was academically a highly qualified and very well educated person. At present, he is being idolized Ambedkar as “The Father/Maker of Indian Constitution” and  Rescuer of DalitsDr Ambedkar
himself considered idolization as an act leading to destruction. There is a section of intelligentsia and surviving old timers, which feels that
‘Inappropriate to single out Dr Ambedkar as father of the Constitution’.

It is unfortunate that both his followers or critics, in their vested interest have failed to understand the role of Baba Sahib Ambedkar and other national leaders in making the Constitution of India. Both could neither understand or analyse his thoughts about social justice, women’s empowerment, federalism and economy in right perspective without bias nor understood correctly. They are not passing on  his visions/teachings/messages to coming generation correctly.

Both his followers as well as critics tell only half-truths to the people and coming generations.   They ignore many historical facts/developments, happened during 20th century.  Political leaders of 21st century ignore the changes that has  happened socially, economically and politically in the position of Dalit community in recent past. They interpret Ambedkar’s teachings, the way that  suits/benefits them to show that only they are their true well-wishers. In the name of Ambedkar, they try to create Dalit vote-bank in their favour and grab political power. 

While laying down the foundation of some democratic institutions and policies, the Imperial rulers set an example,  how policies of great scope can be used for serving their own vested interests. And how these measures could serve a double purpose – get credit of amelioration and protection of poor masses as well as keep a balance of power through distributing it on caste/communal basis. The present day politicians have become experts now to use political systems for pacifying the poor masses, create vote-banks, win elections and get hold on political power. (Quoted from “Policy of Divide And Rule India – Past and Present’, from website: latasinha.wordpress.com)

Part I

About Dr Ambedkar

It is said that During his life-time, Dr Ambedkar, had recognition as an intellectual having his own philosophy and interpretations, but he lacked leadership qualities and mass appeal. Ambedkar’s followers say  that during his life time Ambedkar had suffered a lot as a political leader because of his belonging to Mahar community of Maharashtra. It put obstacles in furthering his social status or educational and political career. They forget that life is not a bed of roses for a human being. Everyone has to face ups and downs and have to struggle to achieve his goals. Dr Ambedkar rose up to the top everywhere only because of his hard work, determination, intelligence and vision. Ambedkar’s childhood – Being a son of an army personnel, his childhood was safe and secure.  The Father and grandfather of Dr Ambedkar, were the employees of the British Army working as SM Sahib, when he was a child. The position of SM sahib is very influential within a Unit of Indian Army. It had  ensured a good education and respectable social life for him, while living in army campus.

  • Ambedkar’s student life – Dr Ambedkar was fortunate to get best possible education at the time when literacy rate in Bombay was 11.6% (M) and 0.9% (F). During his student life,  he received the best possible education available either within India or abroad. After passing Matriculation examination from Bombay, Ambedkar continued his further studies in prestigious Elphinstone High School and Elphinstone College with the help of a monthly scholarship given by Maharaja Gaekwad of Baroda, Bhimrao (‘Rao’ is added to names in Maharashtra as a sign of respect) passed his B.A. in 1912. In 1912, he graduated in Political Science and Economics from Bombay University and got a job in Baroda. In 1913, Maharaja of Baroda awarded scholarship to Bhimrao Ambedkar for further studies at the world-famous elite University of Columbia, New York. It was with a condition that he would serve Baroda state for ten years on finishing his studies. The freedom and equality he experienced in America made a very strong impression on Bhimrao. There he attained a degree in Master of Arts and a Doctorate in Philosophy from Columbia University in 1916 for his thesis “National Dividend for India: A Historical and Analytical Study.” The Maharaja of Baroda appointed Dr Ambedkar as his political secretary.

In 1917 Bhimrao Ambedkar returned to Bombay. In 1918, he became a lecturer at Sydenham College in Bombay. There, he got the reputation as a brilliant teacher and scholar. In 1920, after accumulating sufficient funds, Ambedkar went back to London to complete his studies in Economics at LSE. He also enrolled to study as a Barrister at Gray’s Inn and became a barrister-at- law. In 1923, Bhimrao returned to India with a Doctorate in Economics from the LSE – he was perhaps the first Indian to have a Doctorate from this world-famous institution.

  • Ambedkar’s political career – He got recognition as a powerful leader untouchable community during Imperial rule in India. After Independence, he was recognized as a national leader, influential orator and an expert in legal matters. He was selected as the Chairman of Drafting Committee of Constituent Assembly of Independent India.  He was nominated as the first Law Minister of Independent India.
  • Before Independence
    • With the help of Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur, he started a fortnightly newspaper, the “Mooknayak” (Dumb Hero) on January 31, 1920. That was the start of his political career.
    • After coming back to India, in July 1924, Dr Ambedkar was well equipped to be a leader of the Dalit community. He founded the Bahishkrit Hitkaraini Sabha (Outcastes Welfare Association). The aim of the Sabha was to uplift the downtrodden socially and politically and bring them back to the mainstream of the Indian society.
    • In 1930, when a Round Table Conference was held by the British Government in London to decide the future of India, Babasaheb represented the ‘untouchables’. He was very clear about the objective of his political career that Attempt to uplift my community rather than to win Swaraj for the nation is my goal.” As between the country and myself, the country will have precedence, as between the country and the depressed classes, the depressed classes will have precedence.”
    • Earlier he said that  Depressed Classes of India would also join in the demand for replacing the British Government by a Government of the people and by the people. “Our wrongs have remained as open sores and have not been righted although 150 years of British rule have rolled away. Of what good is such a Government to anybody?” Gandhiji appreciated that. But later on, he made the controversial decision to co-operate with the all-British Simon Commission. He attended Simon Commission’s debates as a representative of depressed classes during. When Congress party decided to boycott the Commission and drafted its own version of a constitution for free India, he attended all the three Round Table Conferences in London and forcefully argued for the welfare of the “untouchables”. He said very clearly, I will leave no doubt in the minds of the people of this country that I have another loyalty, … .. the loyalty is to the community of the untouchables; in which I am born, to which I belong…. Whenever there is any conflict of interests between the country and the untouchables, so far as I am concerned, the untouchable interests will take precedence over the interests of the country. I am not going to support a tyranny of the majority, simply because it happens to speak in the name of the country.” He succeeded in getting a separate electorate for the depressed classes under Ramsay McDonald ‘Communal Award’. The famous Poona Pact replaced the separate electorate demand with special concessions like reserved seats in the regional legislative assemblies and Central Council of States.
    • Dr. B.R. Ambedkar set up the “Independent Labor Party” in August 1936 to contest the elections in the Bombay province. He and many candidates of his party were elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly.
    • In 1937, a Bill was introduced to abolish the “khoti” system of land tenure in the Konkan region, the serfdom of agricultural tenants and the Mahar “watan” system of working for the Government as slaves. A clause of an agrarian bill referred to the depressed classes as “Harijans,” or people of God. Bhimrao was strongly opposed to this title for the untouchables. But the Indian National Congress succeeded in introducing the term Harijan. During the Second World War, Babasaheb was appointed Labour Minister by the Viceroy.
    • The All-India Scheduled Castes Federation was formed in 1942 to gather all ‘untouchables’ into a united political party.
  • Ambedkar role in politics after Independence
    • In 1947, Dr Ambedkar was elected as a Member of the Constituent Assembly from Bengal. The Constituent Assembly made him chairman of the committee appointed to draft the constitution for the world’s largest democracy. He became the First Law Minister of Independent India in Nehru’s cabinet.
    • In October 1948, Dr. Ambedkar submitted the Hindu Code Bill to the Constituent Assembly in an attempt to codify the Hindu law. The Bill caused great divisions even in the Congress party. Consideration for the bill was postponed to September 1951. When the Bill was taken up it was truncated. A dejected Ambedkar relinquished his position as Law Minister.
  • Ambedkar as a visionary thinker  – Ambedkar was a man of legal acumen, untiring industry, consummate skill and firmness, tempered with modernization. He dreamt of inclusive society, where everybody could live peacefully and harmoniously. Following are some of his ideas on different issues –
  • He could visualize difficulties, after independence, India as a nation could face in future by saying, “On 26th January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality, and in social and economic life we will have inequality. …. If our social and economic structure continues to deny the principle of one man one value how long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life?” He warned the nation at that time ” We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy, which this assembly has so laboriously built up.
  • Believed in Cultural unity of India – Ambedkar believed in India’s cultural unity and the need for the political unification of India based on that spiritual-cultural basis. He wanted to annihilate caste system not by revenge, hatred and violence, but by rethinking, reason and reformation. He, therefore, taught untouchables To organize, educate and agitate with an aim to finishing caste prejudices, the arrogance, and the Holier than thou’ attitude of Brahmins. He wanted his people to improve their condition by education, enlightenment and enterprise not by animosity, anger and abuse. It is quite understandable that he did not hate Brahmins as he was happily married to a Brahmin lady. He had a great respect for Justice Ranade.
  • Rejected the linguistic basis of the nation-state – While arguing for linguistic states, Dr Ambedkar rejected the linguistic basis of the nation-state. He stated, “The formula one language, one State means that all people speaking one language should be brought under one Government irrespective of area, population and dissimilarity of conditions among the people speaking the language. This is the idea that underlies the agitation for a united Maharashtra with Bombay. This is an absurd formula and has no precedent for it. It must be abandoned. A people speaking one language may be cut up into many States as is done in other parts of the world.”
  • Ambedkar was a Democrat –     In an ideal society, there should be many interests consciously communicated and shared.”.. “Democracy is not merely a form of Government. It is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellow men. E.V. Ramaswamy, Periyar said that, “in a nation with different languages, religions, and castes with low literacy democracy cannot in any way bring any progress.” But Dr. Ambedkar believed that “Social democracy means a way of life, which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as the principle of life.” Dr Ambedkar strongly supported universal suffrage and thought ‘the exercise of vote was itself an education’.
  • Advised to make political democracy, a social democracy –      Ambedkar believed Where a majority of population is denied its share in actual power, there exists no democracy.Ambedkar had said that “We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy. What does social democracy mean? It means a way of life which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life.”
  • Turned the wheel of law towards social justice –  He turned the wheel of law towards social justice for all. Dr. Ambedkar stated that “Social democracy means a way of life, which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as the principle of life.” Ambedkar firmly believed that “ Without equality, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over the many. Equality without liberty would kill individual initiative. Without fraternity, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over the many”.
  • Ambedkar did not agree with Periyar’s Aryan race theory and racial interpretation of Indian society. He believed that All Indians are one people.  “Fraternity means a sense of common brotherhood of all Indians-if Indians being one people. It is the principle which gives unity and solidarity to social life.”

“If anthropometry is a science which can be depended upon to determine the race of a people…(then its) measurements establish that the Brahmins and the Untouchables belong to the same race. From this it follows that if the Brahmins are Aryans the Untouchables are also Aryans. If the Brahmins are Dravidians, the Untouchables are also Dravidians….“

  • Faith in Indic values rather than European roots – While calling for the destruction of Smrithi and Sruthi based religion, Dr Ambedkar also specifically stated that – “For such religious principles as will be in consonance with Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, it may not be necessary for you to borrow from foreign sources, and that you could draw for such principles on the Upanishads.” Hindus should adapt their religion to modern situation transforming it into a religion of liberty, equality and fraternity based on the principles present in Upanishads. He always considered these important values as having Indic rather than European roots.
  • Frustrated with discriminatory nature of Hinduism –  Later on, Ambedkar got fed-up with rigid and discriminatory practices of Hinduism. He regarded caste system as great obstacles to Hindu Unity”. In 1935 at Yeola, for the first time Babasaheb advised his people to convert from Hinduism, because Hindu society treated them as ‘untouchables’.  He used to say, My self-respect cannot assimilate Hinduism…The religion that does not recognize you as human beings…is not worthy to be called a religion.He said, “Hinduism has given us only insults, misery, and humiliation.”…“We have not been able to secure the barest of human rights… I am born a Hindu. I couldn’t help it, but I solemnly assure you that I will not die a Hindu.” About a month before his death (December 6, 1956), on 0ctober 14, 1956 he himself embraced Buddhism along with many of his followers.
  • Ambedkar’s mindset while attending Simon Commission –  – Ambedkar thought Attempt to uplift my community rather than to win Swaraj for the nation is my goal.” … “I will leave no doubt in the minds of the people of this country that I have another loyalty, to which I am bound and which I can never for-sake. The loyalty is to the community of the untouchables; in which I am born, to which I belong and which I hope, I shall never desert. And I say this…. as strongly as I possibly can that whenever there is any conflict of interests between the country and the untouchables, so far as I am concerned, the untouchable interests will take precedence over the interests of the country. I am not going to support a tyranny of the majority, simply because it happens to speak in the name of the country…. As between the country and myself, the country will have precedence, as between the country and the depressed classes, the depressed classes will have precedence.

Dr Ambedkar, while representing untouchables in Simon Commission proceedings, demanded separate electorate, reserved seats for untouchables in legislative bodies, special educational concessions, and recruitment to Government posts on preferential basis, laws against discrimination and a special department to look after the welfare of untouchables. These demands were readily accepted through Communal Award of 1932.

Gandhiji along with other National leaders regarded it as the Unkindest cut of all, which would create a permanent split in Hindu Society, perpetuate casteism and make impossible the assimilation of untouchables in mainstream. Dr. Rajendra Prasad said, The principle of dividing population into communal groups, which had been adopted in the Minto Morely Reforms, had been considerably extended, even beyond what had been done by Montagu Chelmsford Reforms…. “The electorate in 1919 was broken up into ten parts, now it is fragmented into seventeen unequal bits… Giving separate representations to Schedule Castes further weakened Hindu community. Division on the basis of religion, occupation and service were made. The British introduced every possible cross division.iii Lal Bahadur Shastri denounced the whole happenings As a shameless episode of the National History of the Country.

Ambedkar on Reservation Policy – During Constituent Assembly Debates, Ambedkar advocated the policy of Reservation. According to Ambedkar, Reservation is not aimed at economic uplift or alleviation of poverty. But it is a provision made for the entry of certain castes, which have so far been outside the administration. Hence the need for their adequate representation in State Services. Adequacy should be judged not by their presence in the lower rung of the services, but their entry into the higher echelons, the corridor of power.

Later in life, as a socialist and humanist, who had the long-range interests of untouchables at heart, had developed doubts about advisability and efficacy of Reservation Policy. Pr. Balraj Madhok mentioned that later in life, Ambedkar realized that SC and ST would not be able to stand on their own feet, so long as they depended on the crutches of Reservation. Reservation, Dr. Ambedkar said, Encouraged backwardness, inefficiency and lack of competitive merit among them barring a few stray cases. Therefore, when he launched the Republican Party of India, he incorporated this view in the Manifesto, according to which the party was committed itself to abolish all kinds of Reservations based on caste and birth.

 Chowdhary Charan Singh also said, Ambedkar himself declared in a speech sometime before his death that the provision of Reservation in service should not extend beyond 1960/61.

During his last days, Ambedkar himself realized that I have not been able to fulfil my mission. I wanted to do more for the SC people and to see them as governing class in my life. I could have succeeded, but my own people have deceived me. Whatever I have been able to do, is being enjoyed by the educated people and they are the worst fools. I now want to divert my attention to the uneducated masses, but life seems short. The second worry to my mind is that I wanted that somebody from the SC should come forward and take the responsibilities from me. There, however, seems none to shoulder such a heavy responsibility. All are selfish and quarrel themselves on petty matters.

Wrath of a section of intelligentsia – Ambedkar has earned the wrath of a section of intelligentsia and political leaders during pre-Independence period because: –

  • He, himself, was a beneficiary of social reform movement in Maharashtra led by nationalist leaders and reformers mostly belonging to caste Hindus. But in his speeches, he regarded caste Hindus as his enemy.
  • The intelligentsia regarded his move for separate electorates for untouchable as an act to split Hindu society permanently. It is alleged that he could not rise beyond his caste identity.
  • He was criticized for his association with Simon Commission proceedings, First Round Table Conference and Viceroy’s Executive Committee as member, with an intention to cooperate with British rulers, at the time, when national leaders were fighting British rulers for Independence;
  • His anguish against Hinduism and caste system and his act of burning Hindu-script, which he regarded as great obstacles to the Indian unity, annoyed many.
  • Many people did not like his confrontation with Gandhi. Ambedkar, like Jinnah was against Hindu majority rule, Congress Party and Gandhi. Both of them reacted against the above three in similar manner most of the times and preferred continuance of British rule.

Part II

Dr Ambedkar, ‘Father/maker’ of the Constitution of India? – There is no doubt that Dr Ambedkar’s was as an undisputed leader of untouchables and the Doyen of Dalit politics. His emergence on the political scene provided with the required leadership and needed stimulus to untouchable movement during late twenties and early thirties. But since then times have changed. In contemporary politics,  there has been a massive shift politically in favour of Dalits and backward communities. Now Dalits and OBCs have emerged as a powerful vote-bank and king-makers. Different political parties, pressure groups and political leaders are desperately trying  to win the favour of different sections of society, capture their vote-banks and thus create their own separate empires in national politics. All political parties woo Dalits community (comprising of about 19% of Indian population) desperately. They praise Ambedkar as the ‘Father/maker of Indian Constitution’ especially to get Dalit votes. The trend of putting Ambedkar’s name at the top as the maker of the constitution was at the peak during 1980s and1990s.

After the disappearance  of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi from political scenario in 80’s, no single political party could get clear majority in general elections to form a stable government. The trend of forming coalition government was started. There was an atmosphere of political instability. Different political parties were trying hard to get a clear majority. They have learnt it well from British rulers, how to play their cards to enlarge their vote-banks, by using three powerful democratic weapons i.e. Electoral politics, Census operations, education system Reservation Policy etc. From that time onwards, almost all political parties concentrated on pursuing sectional interests to get a clear majority by hook or crook. If unable to succeed in getting clear mandate, then they formed coalition governments. There also, to play the role of king-maker they were required to get capture enough votes.

Imperial rulers had set an example of how policies of great scope can be used for serving one’s own vested interests. Since then, political leaders, political parties and pressure groups follow the footsteps of British rulers. They have learnt well from British rulers, how to play their cards for their own advantage and enlarge their vote-banks. They generally use the three powerful democratic weapons i.e. Electoral politics, Census operations, and Reservation Policy to ‘divide’ the Indian masses  on caste and communal basis and grab political power. Day in and day out, they play with public emotions/sentiments/aspirations.  They tell people half-truths and make false promises during elections. They focus their attention and make efforts to serve sectional interests and enlarge its vote-bank, rather than thinking of the development of nation or betterment of the  society as a whole.

Almost all the political leaders, political parties and pressure groups try to be one up. To attract the attention and favour of  Dalit voters, they use Ambedkar’s name. There is a cut-throat competition between different political parties, who can glorify Ambedkar’s name more and convince Dalit voters that they, only they are the true followers of Dr Ambedkar and like him true well-wisher of Dalit community.

Inappropriate to single out Dr Ambedkar as father of the Constitution – There are many intellectuals, jurists, experts on Constitutional law and surviving knowledgeable old timers with wisdom, who believe that the credit of making the Constitution of India should not go to Ambedkar only. Pr. K.V. Rao, an expert of Constitutional Law, said, No doubt, Ambedkar, a man of legal acumen, untiring industry, consummate skill and firmness, tempered with modernization, made substantial contribution to the framing of the Constitution…My reading of the Constitution makes me feel that it is inappropriate to call Dr Ambedkar, the father of the Constitution. If any people are entitled to be called so, they are Nehru, Patel and Prasad , but I would like to call them the “Presiding Deities”, the sources of all the ideas of the Constitution, the real makers of the Constitution. I would like to attribute father-hood to them as well as to the members of the Drafting Committee in common, but I would not like to single out Dr Ambedkar for this honour.

Famous Historian Bipin Chandra and intelligentsia of those days observed that in the making of Indian Constitution, Pt. Nehru, Dr Rajendra Prasad and Sardar Patel played a very important role. Pt. Nehru spelt out the philosophy and basic features of the consti­tution as “the first task of this Assembly is to free India through a constitution, to feed the starving people, and to clothe the naked masses, and to give every Indian the fullest opportunity to develop himself according to his capacity”. Sardar Patel played the decisive role in bringing in the representatives of the erstwhile princely states into the Constituent Assembly, and how to run smoothly the administration of the newly created nation – India. Rajendra Prasad was appreciated for his simplicity, impartiality and dignity as President of the Assembly as well as first President of Independent India. Maulana Azad brought his formidable scholarship and philo­sophical mind to bear on many issues of grave importance”. Therefore, not only Ambedkar, but all these leaders jointly, should be called “The Father of Indian Constitution”.

Opinion of Critics  – There is a section of people which considers that Ambedkar was planted into Indian politics purposely by British rulers. During British rule, rulers laid down the foundation of some democratic institutions and policies like Electoral policy, Census operations, and Reservation Policy. They took full advantage of these weapons   to ‘divide and rule India’ for economic exploitation as long as possible. The suggestion of the Census Commission for 1911 Census, to exclude untouchables, comprising about 24% of Hindu population and 16% of the total population in 1908, from Hinduism, had made position of untouchables prominent in Indian political scene.

Part III

Making of the Constitution of India

Constituent Assembly – A Constituent Assembly was founded‎: ‎6 December 1946 under the Cabinet Mission Plan on 16 May 1946 to write the Constitution of India, which drafted the Constitution of India between the years 1946 to 1950. Its first session was convened on 9 December, 1946. The Constitution of India, became operative from 26 January, 1950.

Members of the Constituent Assembly – The Constitution of India was framed by a Constituent Assembly set up under the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946. The Assembly consisted of 389 members representing provinces (292), states (93), the Chief Commissioner Provinces (3) and Baluchistan (1). They were elected by the provincial assemblies by a single, transferable-vote system of proportional representation.  Initially, its total membership was kept 389. After partition, the Constituent Assembly of India had 299 representatives, from provinces and 70 from princely states. Prominent National leaders like Nehru, Patel, Rajendra Prasad and Maulana took extra care to make it a wide representative body. The Assembly had included  as many as possible, well known, eminent political leaders, lawyers, academicians and other eminent/brilliant persons from nearly all walks of life including some of those, who opposed the Congress like Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee. B.R. Ambedkar, Sanjay Phakey, Nehru, Raj Gopalachari, Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Patel, Ganesh Mavalanker, Kanaiya Lal Maneklal Munshi, , Sandipkumar Patel, Abul Kalam Azad, Shyama Prasad Mukherji, Nalini Ranjan Ghosh, and Balwantrai Mehta were key figures in the assembly, It had over 30 representatives of the Scheduled Classes. Frank Anthony represented Anglo-Indian community.Parsis were represented by H. P. Modi. Bahadur Gurung represented the Gorkha community. Judges, such as Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, B. N. Rau, etc. were members of the assembly. Female members included Sarojini Naido, Hansa Mehta, Durgabai Deshmukh, Amrit Kaur and Vijay Laxmi Pandit.

Sachchidananda Sinha‎, ‎INC, was the Temporary Chairman‎ and Vice President‎ was ‎Harendra Coomar Mookerjeeof the Constituent Assembly of Independent India. On 11 December, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first permanent Chairman.

Number of Committees formed in the Constituent Assembly – The Constituent Assembly set up 13 committees on different issues for framing the constitution. One prepared material and proposals for the constitution under the chairmanship of Pt Nehru.  Another was formed to work on integration of about 650 princely state under the chairmanship of Sardar Patel etc. Harendra Coomar Mookerjee, a Christian assembly vice-president, chaired the minorities committee and represented non-Anglo-Indian Christians.

In his letter of 30th June 1947, Dr Rajendra Prasad, President of the Constituent Assembly, had requested BG Kher, the then Prime Minister of Bombay, to elect Dr Ambedkar immediately. Incidentally, the Congress had earlier opposed tooth and nail, Ambedkar’s entry into the Constituent Assembly. Later on, the Congress party had to accept.

Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly – The Drafting Committee of Constituent Assembly was headed by Dr Ambedkar. All Seven members, Sir BN Rau,  KM Munshi, N Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar, Syed Mohammad Saadullah, N Madhava Rau. were legal experts or administrative luminaries.

Drafting of Constitution required patience, negotiating skills and a flexibility to accommodate diverse opinions. Legislation and solidification of freedom would not be easy without the services of Dr Ambedkar.  Ambedkar was chosen as the head of Drafting Committee, because he had already been in various sub-committees like the Advisory Committee, Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee and Minorities Sub-Committee of the Constitutional Assembly. He submitted a memorandum with very valid suggestions to the Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee. This memorandum was later published for wider circulation under the title ‘States and minorities, their rights and how to secure them in the Constitution of free India’. 

In his last speech In the Constituent Assembly, Ambedkar appealed  to the Nation,“On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which is Assembly has to laboriously built up.”

The basic structure of the Constitution – The constitution replaced the Government of India Act, 1935, as the country’s fundamental governing document, and the Dominion of India became the Republic of India. Its basic structure was based on the Government of India Act of 1935. Many improvements into it were made by following the good features of other consti­tutions like from US constitution, Irish constitution, the time tested conventions of the British Parliament etc.

Biggest brain behind drafting the Indian ConstitutionThere is no doubt that Drafting Committee of the  Indian Constitution Constituent Assembly was headed by Dr Ambedkar. But it is also well-known then, that the real place of work of making the Indian Constitution was the Congress Working Committee, which took all the important decisions. Its prominent members were leaders like Nehru, Patel, Rajendra Prasad (Chairperson of Constituent Assembly) or Constitutional jurists like Alladi Krishna Swami Ayyar, K.M. Munshi, G B Pant and others. It was frankly admitted by Dr Ambedkar himself  along with Mahavir Tyagi, one of the members of Drafting Committee that their hands were tied and they were only carrying out the wishes of the majority.

Some people say that the biggest brain behind drafting the Constitution was that of Mr BN Rau. He was not a member of the Constitutional Assembly but was appointed as the adviser to the Constituent Assembly. He did the most job and worked out the democratic framework of the Constitution. He was the most important expert who did the primary thinking and writing. But he has been religiously ignored by frontline politicians. The political bosses of today have not given the due space to the contributions of both Menon or Rau in the history of making of  independent India. Most of them do not even know who he was?

Rau is the principal framer of the Indian Constitution; others only did the cosmetic jobs here and there. He singlehandedly prepared the initial draft by February 1948, to be debated, revised and finally adopted by the team on November 26, 1949. The Drafting Committee, under the chairmanship of Ambedkar, declared that the ‘Draft Constitution’ was being scrutinised thoroughly by adviser BN Rau for making it one of the world’s best Constitutions. President of Constituent Assembly Rajendra Prasad, just before signing the Constitution on November 26, 1949, thanked Rau profusely for having “worked honorarily” assisting the assembly not only with his knowledge and erudition but enabling the other members to perform their duties with thorough prudence.

Conclusion – It is unfortunate that Followers of Dr Ambedkar appear not to have done justice to him. They have misunderstood Ambedkar. They have used his name ruthlessly for their selfish motive and political ends. They idolized Ambedkar as Rescuer of Dalits. The trend in 90s of idolization of Ambedkar or attempts of Ambedkarisation of the nation exposed the intentions of his followers, especially when he himself considered idolization as an act leading to destruction. Today agitated Dalit leaders are, but their agitation is far away from being a positive or constructive one. It has turned into a negative militancy against caste Hindu.

Ambedkar rose as the political icon. His life is a classic and most inspiring example of what a man can achieve through hard work, knowledge, vision and clear-cut priorities. He himself struggled and worked hard to achieve his objectives and success. He gave a required boost to Dalit movement to move forward at  right time. He played a significant role in national politics and as the Chairman of drafting Committee of Indian Constitution.

Ambedkarites seems to have been proved shallow in understanding his aim for social transformation with SC’s being the base. They do not seem to have understood Ambedkar in right perspective. He wanted to annihilate caste system not by revenge, hatred and violence, but by rethinking, reason and reformation. He, therefore, taught untouchables To organize, educate and agitate with an aim to finishing caste prejudices, the arrogance, and the Holier than thou’ attitude of Brahmins. He wanted his people to improve their condition by education, enlightenment and enterprise not by animosity, anger and abuse. It is quite understandable that he did not hate Brahmins as he was happily married to a Brahmin lady. He had a great respect for Justice Ranade.

Present day political leaders try to ignore the realities of the India of twenty-first century – a massive shift has already taken place in favour of Dalits socially, politically and economically all-over India.

April 28, 2019 Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | 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.

As far as India is concerned, the genesis of present times problems lies in – not understanding properly the pre-independent India and planning rationally for post-independent India. After Independence people had high hopes.

· The movement for independence focused its attention fully in attaining political rights. In the process the leaders forgot about social duties of citizens. In the original constitution of India, all its clauses were about rights of the people in India, and not a single one on their duties. This has led the whole society towards right-conscious one. It has become necessary to switch-over again from right-based society to being duty-based.

· There was unity amongst Indians. During pre-independence days, they fought unitedly for sovereignty. It was a struggle between Indians and foreign power. But after Independence, the struggle for political power has been between Indians and Indians.

·  There is no use in blaming others or the past all the time for internal or external conspiracy. All the troubles now are due to the misguided planning of those, who are in the corridors of power.

·  There is a need to turn negative attitude of political leaders and the people into a positive one. It will make the nation progress and convert people into better human beings. 

After the Independence and before 2014 elections, the agenda of different political parties was to fight corruption in high places and to get the economy of the country back on rail. During general elections of 2014, Modi had talked about good governance and development.

The general election of 2014 has changed the scenario. After three decades of coalition governments, Modi  has got a clear majority and formed a stable government.  People actively united and voted against corruption and mal-governance. Again 2019 general elections, the electorate has strengthened more the hands of Modi government.

Modi’s image in public mind is that he is a person of vision, novel ideas, competent enough to take hard decisions in the interest of nation especially against corruption or mal-administration and capable to deliver good results for tomorrow’s India.

Electorates’ faith and support has strengthened the position of India in world scenario. Today India’s relationship with almost all the neighbouring countries and other nations is much better than it was in the recent past. The successful mission to Mars, a few months ago, proves India is moving ahead.

 

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

Will reservation in education and jobs bring welfare of the society and nation?

Introduction – Recently LS Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has expressed doubts over effectiveness of offering reservation in education and jobs for indefinite period. But what politicians did after Independence, was that after every ten years, when Reservations were to be reviewed on the floor of Parliament, reservations have been extended for next 10 years.   She asks can reservation ensure welfare of millions of downtrodden or will it bring prosperity to the country. 

The current political turmoil, to a great extent, is the result of fast changing global scenario, polarized public opnion and very slow pace of change in Indian Social system. In this turmoil, people have forgetten their traditional knowledge and contributions of its philosophers, gurus and seers, from Adi Shankaracharya and Ramanuja to Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Vivekanand and Maharishi Ramana. Throughout its history, the Indian culture believed in assimilation and absorption rather than strife, rivalries and exclusionist attitude. Its moral principles taught self-restraint, self-discipline and rigorous code of conduct. With the time, distance between ‘haves’ and ‘have-not’s’ continuously increased, especially during alien-rule.

Objective of Reservation policy – Immediately after Independence in 1947, during Constituent Assembly Debates, Indian Constitution-framers accepted reservations policy as a means rather than as an end, to bring back the submerged sections of society into mainstream. Ambedkar had advocated reservation for 10 years with the purpose of bringing social harmony in the society and the country. It was intended to be a temporary social subsidy to help the victims of institutionalized inequality, who have suffered social prejudices and historical discrimination in matters of education and employment. The aim was to bring the disadvantaged sections of the society into mainstream. The Constitution framers have dreamt to keep a fine balance between different sections of society and thus lead the nation to prosperity. However, the ideologies that guided the Constitution framers, at the time of Independence, have more or less run out of steam today.

Provision to review in the Constitution – The Constitution of India has made provision for a review of the reservation system after every ten years. Not only this, but envisaged the process/method to end gradually the reservations within intended time-frame, while deciding  to bring to an end the reservations being done for Anglo-Indians and Muslims before independence. However, after every ten years the politicians found it convenient to further extend the period of reservations without ascertaining through comprehensive social audit. Nobody bothered to analyse rationally, whether reservations have achieved the end, they were supposed to achieve? Leaders of all political parties found the quotas-system very convenient . Gradually it has become a powerful tool to create captive and permanent vote banks.

Ambedkar advocated the policy of Reservation for SCs and STs, but only for ten years. He said then that Reservation is not aimed at economic uplift or alleviation of poverty. But it is a provision made for the entry of certain castes, which have so far been outside the administration. Hence the need for their adequate representation in State Services. Adequacy should be judged not by their presence in the lower rung of the services, but their entry into the higher echelons, the corridor of power.

But only for ten years  Dr Ambedkar as a socialist and humanist, who had the long-range interests of untouchables at heart, had developed doubts about advisability of Reservation Policy. Very recently Sumitra Mahajan has commented that Ambedkar himself had said  that reservation is required for only 10 years. Chowdhary Charan Singh, Former Prime Minister of India  had said that, Ambedkar himself declared in a speech sometime before his death that the provision of Reservation in service should not extend beyond 1960/61.Pr. Balraj Madhok had also pointed out that later in life, Ambedkar developed a doubt  about efficacy of this policy. He felt that SC and ST would not be able to stand on their own feet, so long as they depended on the crutches of Reservation.

Dr. Ambedkar realized that, Reservation, had  Encouraged backwardness, inefficiency and lack of competitive merit among them barring a few stray cases. Ambedkar said, I have not been able to fulfil my mission. I wanted to do more for the SC people and to see them as governing class in my life. I could have succeeded, but my own people have deceived me. Whatever I have been able to do, is being enjoyed by the educated people and they are the worst fools. I now want to divert my attention to the uneducated masses, but life seems short. The second worry to my mind is that I wanted that somebody from the SC should come forward and take the responsibilities from me. There, however, seems none to shoulder such a heavy responsibility. All are selfish and quarrel themselves on petty matters.

Therefore, when he launched the Republican Party of India, he incorporated this view in the Manifesto, according to which the party was committed itself to abolish all kinds of Reservations based on caste and birth.

 

Modern system of employment – Before British came to India, individuals preferred to pursue traditional profession to earn the livelihood. Modern education, industrialization and modernization gave chaned the system of employment. After the independence, the Constitution itself gave all its citizens equal opportunities and freedom to take up  occupation of ones choice. The functional delineation of caste – distinctions has become irrelevant since knowledge is no longer the monopoly of any particular caste (Brahmins).

Under the changed circumstances, there is no justification for Reservation policy to continue with such an insistence. Way back in 1965, Lokur Commission had suggested that the time had come to start the process of dereservation. But, so far it has been postponed.

Caste gaining important place in politics – Reservation Policy has made caste very important in the politics and governance of Nation. The most surprising thing is that though Dalits, SCs and OBCs have emerged as dominant pressure groups in political circles, they are not satisfied with their gains. For getting more, they use the caste card. The most strident assertion of caste comes from these sections of the society.

Rise in inter-castes clashes – Experiences of various states point out that the Reservation policy has added many harmful new dimensions in the national politics. It gave rise to worst form of casteism. Caste related violent incidents have increased tremendously. The majority of clashes are between SCs and OBCs followed by clashes between SCs and forward castes, between forward castes and OBCs and others. The main caste groups involved in clashes and rivalries include Thevars, Nadars, Vanniars (OBC), Adi Dravidas and Pallars (SCs) in Tamil Nadu, Rajput, Brahmins, Bhumihars, Jats (forward castes), Yadavs, gujjars, Kurmis (OBCs), Balmiki, Jatavs, Chamars (SCs) in UP, Kories, Kurmis, Manuals (OBCs), Dalits and Jatavs (SCs in Bihar), Patels, Marathas, Marwaris (Forward Castes), Mali, Kundi Badal (OBCs), Dalit Mahars, Neo Buddhists (SCs) of Maharashtra and Lingayats and Vakkaligas (both forward castes), Kurubas, Nayaks (OBCs) and Dalits of Karnataka.i

After-effects of Reservation policy – The after effects of the policy, in general terms, have been more or less the same in all the regions. Its manifestations are discussed, briefly, below: –

  • Tamil Nadu becomes a classic example of mass-exodus of Brahmins first from Tamil Nadu to other parts of India and then to foreign land, bringing all round prosperity to them, because of their intelligence, enterprise and innovation. In the process, the loss has been that of the nation.
  • In Karnataka, it manifested in insistence of developed castes to remain in OBC list, so that they could avail of the benefits of Reservations.
  • In Andhra, the disillusion of lower castes, because of the failure of Governments policy to provide any relief to the poor masses, gave rise to Naxalite movement.
  • In Maharashtra, despite centurys old Dalit movement, social equality within the state is still an illusion. There Dalits are still living under pathetic condition.
  • Gujarat sets an example of its Reservation policy being deeply influenced by acknowledgement of Gujarat electoral calculus.
  • Bihar and UP have become the land of caste wars and sharpened Dalit-OBC divides. Casteism has entered into all areas of its political and administrative life.
  • In Rajasthan, some castes, even after attaining enough representation in the Government, insist in remaining in the beneficiaries’ list, thus depriving the really needy persons of the other castes from getting the benefit of Reservation.
  • It is only Kerala, which has laid stress on the sustainable development of the down trodden through education, which gave them awareness, vision, confidence and status. Instead of adopting a negative attitude by generating enmity between different sections of society, it took the path of positive growth.

For the sustainable development of the nation, there are some points, on which government, political parties, political leaders, reformers and intelligentsia should pay attention sincerely and honestly, keeping in view the welfare of deprived/marginalized persons/individuals as of the nation –

  • Acute problem of unemployment – Unemployment is one of the acute problems in India ever since its independence. Now it becoming more and more difficult to provide jobs to all youths.     Present day dilemma is that millions of youth are not able to get employment anywhere in the government, private or public sectors. Mr. Narayan Murthy, the founder of IMFOSIS says, “If we want to give jobs to 400-500 million illiterates and 200-250 million semi-ill-literates, we have to go in for low-tech manufacturing that does not require high levels of education. … This is how China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea did it”.
  • Quotas not a solution to solve the problem of unemployment – Jacques Sander has rightly said, “A quota is always something artificial that can only last for a certain period of time.” Over last 15 years, millions of people have moved out of agriculture. Manufacturing and services sector have been so far unable to provide enough jobs for all of them. Enhancing the quality of education, providing enough opportunities to such people to attain income-generating skills and dismantling license raj may help people to get suitable place in job-market.
  • Craze for white-collared jobs –  There has been growing aversion for menial jobs or traditional occupations. Modernity has given freedom to individuals to pursue an occupation of one’s own choice. With it emerged different kinds of problems from the web of modernity. There is cut-throat competition for positions of power. Craze for white-collared jobs has escalated. So long as the spirit of patriotism is not strengthened amongst persons/groups, who are manipulating the schemes of development in self-interest, progress will remain a distant dream.
  • Economic Criteria, not caste should be the basis for Reservations in jobs and admissions in institutions of higher education. Caste-based reservations are repugnant to democracy. They perpetuate and encourage caste-divisions.
  • Merit should not be ignored – The principle of equal opportunities (Art 16) in direct conflict with the principles of redress (Articles 335) directing the authorities to make Reservations for SCT in consistent with the maintenance of efficiency. Keeping a fine balance in the implementation of these two principles It is up-to the honesty and vision of authorities.
  • So long, as “only a few places” were set aside for disadvantaged people (20%), society did not mind it. But now,  76 years after Independence, instead of removing the castes from the list of beneficiaries, which have already come up, more castes are being included in this list, both in the Government of India as well as in provinces.
  • During mid-1970’s and 80’s, many political parties had emerged  iat provincial level, which laid emphasis on sectional interests. They advocated Reservation policy with insistence. It polarized the public opinion and created political instability. No political party could get absolute majority to form a stable government. Era of coalition governments started. In 1990’s, after the implementation of Mandal Commission’ recommendations, About 50% and in some provinces much more than 50% seats were reserved in employment and educational institutions. It has left deep scars in public mind and  generated agitations. Sometimes, these agitations in favour or against reservations formed a shape of national movement, affecting adversely many parts of the country.
  • Lack of political will – Present day politicians have  over looked the national interest for their political expediency and misused these clauses on efficiency and social-justice. Quotas in education and employment have now become almost a permanent feature. 
  • For success self-efforts and hard-work is necessary.
  • Stop giving doles to poor people – For improving the economic and social status of marginalized people, Government is supposed to teach people how to fish. Giving different kinds of doles from time to time is making people totally dependent on authorities.
  • Help only the deserving individuals not on caste but ob economic criteria.
  • The number of reserved seats needs to be reduced.

Throughout, politicians have been propagating that Reservation has been sanctioned by the Constitution and it is their duty to abide it. Series of amendments of the Constitution, in extending the time-frame Reservation for another ten years, appears to be nothing but “Mistake of one time, being repeated several times”. In fact, the whole exercise of extending it is non-researched and is based on hollow grounds. Overall development of the country is not possible, till the political leaders and beneficiary sections of society depend on the crutches of reservation policy. 

Past experiences and results clearly indicate to re-think about Reservation Policy. A rational analysis of ground reality has become long over due. It is better to be late than never attempting it.

 

i Ministry of Home Affair Report, 1996-97, pp6-7.

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Income-generating skills and employment opportunities – in ‘Past’ and ‘Present’ India

“In life, only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe”                                                                             Hindu Philosophy

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

“If we want to give jobs to 400-500 million illiterates and 200-250 million semi-ill-literates, we have to go in for low-tech manufacturing that does not require high levels of education. … This is how China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea did it”                                                                               Narayan Murthy

Introduction
Changes with ‘Industrialization’, ‘Modernization’ and ‘Globalization’ – As time passed on, method of transferring knowledge and skills in different professions, shape of job-market, opportunities for employment and work culture has changed tremendously. Earlier it was community-based, now it has become individual-based. Industrialization, modernization and globalization has adversely affected employment prospects of youth, especially unskilled workers in rural areas. It had changed the system of taking up of the traditional occupation of their families.

Demographically, India is a young nation. 70% of its population is younger than 35 today. Nearly 40% voters are in the 18-35 age-group. For youths born and brought up in Independent and economically liberalised India, the atmosphere has become stifling . One of the reason is the issue of unemployment.

Everything is moving fast, in this space age. Knowledge, due to revolution in information technology, is increasing faster than human ability to handle it. There are changes in the strategy, structure and management techniques. To keep pace with present time, it is necessary that education must equip people to deal with the real world. To make youth employable, the government should vocationalise the education. Degrees have failed to get suitable job. Youth needs to be should give way to job specific training. More than increasing the number of colleges, the nation needs to start job-oriented training institutes in large number.

‘Vision of skill India’ – The vision of present Prime Minister Narendra Modi about ‘Skill India’ is appreciable. Without understanding its implications, opposition parties are vehemently criticizing Modi Government. Some political parties think that the present government has failed to create jobs for about 400-500 million illiterates and 200-250 million semi-ill-literates, that too, in its organized sector. In fact, in any democratic welfare state, government play the role of a facilitator, it is not responsible to generate/create enough jobs for all of its unemployed citizens. At present, Government is the biggest employer in the organized sector of job-market. On public demand, it has already created much more jobs in the government than are required.

Time has come, when entrepreneurship should be encouraged. And through sound system of education and training, knowledge, understanding and attitudes of the job-seekers be increased, so that they are better adjusted to their working environment. Proper `training’ in newly emerged areas of employment would help trainees to acquire and apply knowledge and skills, which they do not possess, but are needed by the occupations, of which they are a part. Thus it would improve the the output of their work – quantitatively and qualitatively.

Warranties’ and ‘guarantees’ – No system of employment can ever provide ‘Warranties’ and ‘guarantees’ to give jobs to all the people. As a facilitator it can tell people about ‘possibilities’ and opportunities’. To convert those opportunities into success depends on determination, hard work and commitment of the job-seekers. William Arthur has rightly said, “Opportunities are like sunrises, if you wait too long you can miss it.” Only one has to learn to utilize the opportunities, they get and be mentally prepared to meet the challenges coming on the way.

Issue, neither traditional nor modern occupations flawless – Neither traditional nor modern method of employment is fool-proof or flawless. Both have their own strength, weaknesses and professional hazards. It is very difficult for most of the people to come out of the web of traditionalism or modernism. This is the time when people should work for the fusion of modernity with traditionalism by combining/embracing modern developments in the spheres of science and technology along with the time-proofed values and systems of traditionalism.                          

Traditional way of Employment in ancient and medieval India

Principles behind the traditional way of Occupations- In ancient and medieval India, assignment of work was based on certain realities, principles and way of life. The traditional system of occupations had maintained differentiation between various occupations. All functions needed for the maintenance and growth of the society were divided into different occupations, which were distributed amongst different sections of society according to their attitude and aptitude. The system encouraged interdependence in social matters.

Human actions dependent on attitude and aptitude – In traditional system, it is believed that the whole world of activities is a result of complex intermixing of three basic qualities of human nature – goodness (Satwa), Passion (Rajas) and dullness (Tamas). `Goodness’ is associated with purity, peace and knowledge; `Passion’ with comfort and action; and `Tamas’ with ignorance, sloth, sleep and carelessness.

These qualities determined the tendencies, potentialities, limitations, traits and character of individuals and give them direction for action. It makes individuals different from each other in attitude, aptitude, physical and mental capacity, aspirations, like and dislikes, inclination and expectations.

Principles of ‘Varna, karma and Dharma’ – Principle of Varna had assigned duties to different groups according to people’s natural instincts and qualities. Principles of ‘Dharma’ and ‘Karma’ developed clear-cut vision of rights and duties/responsibilities of each group, considering the requirements of different occupations.

  • Principle of ‘Varna’ – Accordingly, Principle of       ‘Varna’ did fourfold division of occupations and their performers –       Brahmins were assigned the work of learning, research and development,       kshhatriyas the job of defense and maintenance of law and order in the       society, Vaishyas of trade and commerce, and Shudras all kinds of service       functions.
  • Principle of Dharma – Principle of Dharma assigned       each group a specific work to do and developed a clear-cut vision of       rights and duties/responsibility of each group based on its traditional       occupation. It boosted morale of the people and promoted social       equilibrium and solidarity.
  •  Principle of ‘Karma’ – Principle of ‘Karma’       created the work culture. It gave stress to duty. Whereas, Western cultures have grown around the idea of `rights” forming the natural foundation of human relationship, systems in India evolved around the concept of “duty, tolerance and sacrifice”. Emphasis on duty had made people or groups humble and tolerant. Sacrifice was regarded far more important than success, and renunciation was regarded as the crowning achievement.

No unemployment – Everybody used to be engaged in their own hereditary/traditional occupations. An individual learnt the skills and tricks of their trade in a natural way with every breath while growing up. The system managed well the daily necessities and day to day relation of its members.Work, employment and dignity for all – In ancient and medieval India, there was work, employment and dignity and honour for all in India. There was no dearth of employment opportunities for persons willing to work.

“Adharma”, “Alasya” and “Agyan” responsible – Instead of blaming others for unemployment, “Adharma” (immoral behavior), “Alasya” (laziness) and “Agyan” (ignorance) were held responsible for unemployment and for all evils like exploitation, poverty, miseries and helplessness of the people that follow unemployment automatically. Everyone was expected to exercise self-restraint      and self-disciplined life in all respect, be it in the matter of daily      routine, occupation or inter-group relationship.

The system as a whole had led the society to have more production, economic efficiency and specialization in various areas of activities like spinning, weaving, pottery making, bead making, seal making, terracotta, handicrafts, brick-laying, metal work etc.

No hard and fast rule of ranking – Earlier, respect or honor was dependent on the deeds of a person and was not dependent on birth. Great respect had even earned by persons from humblest origin as a right. Everybody had all the opportunity to pursue knowledge and reach up-to the top. Higher/greater a person oe group, which exercised more self-restrictions on its conduct through rituals. Brahmins (intelligentsia) commanded respect of the whole society. They, being at highest place in the society, were put under maximum restrictions. They were supposed to lead a simple life, devoted to the spiritual and intellectual pursuits and denied accumulation of wealth.

There was no hard and fast rule of ranking various groups. Usefulness of a profession to society as a whole, conduct and way of living of different people were the factors to determine social, economic or political status of a group in society vis-a vis others. Ranking system did not put different groups within a framework of hierarchical layers of social order, each fitting neatly below the other, but more or less as a series of vertical parallels. ‘ There were times when gap between Vaishyas and Shudras became narrow or when Shudras acquired a better position in the society.

Segmental ranking of different groups was done according to relevance and contribution of their occupations to society. Social status of different occupational groups was dependent on their relative self-discipline (relative purity), morality, knowledge and spiritual standards. Considerations of self-discipline, hygiene and cleanliness on the basis of climatic conditions of the region were given importance.

In the past, many Khhatriyas and Shudra were accepted and revered as philosophers or spiritual teachers. For example, Sage Vashishta was the son of Uravshi, a prostitute, but he is highly respected allover India as the principal of the conservative school of Brahmanism. So was ‘Kshatriya’ Vishwamitra, the maker of the Gayatri Mantra, the quintessence of the Vedic Brahmanism, is recited even as of today almost in every house every day and on all auspicious occassions. Aitreya, after whom the sacramental part of Rig-Veda is named as Aitreya Brahamana, was the son from a non-Aryan wife of a Brahman sage. Vyasa of Mahabharata fame was the son of a fish-woman. Balmiki, the original author of Ramayana, was an untouchable according to present standards, but is still highly respected.

Idea of weaker sections was non-existent – Categorization of people as forwards or backwards or as weaker sections was almost non-existent at that time. No group was placed in greater or lesser disadvantageous position. The system was so conceived by the genius sages and ‘Munies’ (intelligentsia of ancient India) that there was hardly any room for any Varna to consider itself, as being placed in greater or lesser disadvantageous position with reference to another.

System not too rigid – The system was not too rigid as far as pursuing an occupation was concerned. The work in the sectors of agriculture or army was open to all. Members of particular Varna did not exercise monopoly over authority or respect. It is an established fact of Indian History that Brahmin or even Shudras sometimes became the kings. There were times, when inter group marriages took place in the past in order to increase their strength.

HT Colebrooke, one of the early Sanskrit Scholars says, “It may be received as a general maxim that occupation appointed for each tribe is entitled merely to a preference. Every profession, with few exceptions, was open to every description of persons and the discouragement arising from religious prejudices is not greater than what exists in Great Britain from the effects of Municipal and Corporate laws.” (Quoted from ‘Indian Express’, dated 18.9.90, p 8). In England 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. (Quoted fromShore Fredrick John Notes on India Affairs Vol II P.473)

Salient features of employment and training in ancient India

Traditional occupational pattern of India was unique in many ways –

  • Employment, dignity and honor for all – Traditional occupational pattern had provided employment, dignity and honor to all. The system led to accomplish skill, specialization, success and happiness, decentralized authority and resources, made management within each unit effective and organized human and social behavior in tune with the objectives of the society.
  • Disassociation between Wealth and knowledge/skills – Unlike West, there is disassociation between Wealth and knowledge/skills. The value system of India has separated wealth from status, power from authority, pursuit and achievement in knowledge from temptations of worldly comforts.
  • Stress on attitude and aptitude rather than birth – According to “Smritis” it was not birth, but the qualities and deeds of an individual, that fitted him into a particular group of occupation. Later on, upbringing, atmosphere and convenience tended to make these occupational groups hereditary. Gradually different hereditary occupational groups emerged in the society. People found it more economical and convenient to practice one’s own traditional occupation.
  • De-centralization of       control systems – There was automatic de-centralization of       control systems and authority. The separation of rights and duties       combined with the principle of inter-dependence developed its own system       of checks and balances over arbitrary use of one’s authority.
  • Sense of duty – Occupational pattern of India      had filled the community with a sense of duty and trained them in      obedience. In duty, Indians found liberation. Sense of duty stopped those in power to exercise coercion      against its working class. Also it prevented resentment amongst masses.  It      helped Indians to adjust themselves, without much difficulty, to most      drastic changes in the past. Everyone benefited from living in a society where the duty of mutual respect was honoured. The systems stopped people from taking law in      their own hands. While other nations passed through many bloody      revolutions, India kept on adapting itself to changing times. In ancient      Greece, Rome or other European countries, people were made to work under      the threat of a whip.
  • Stress on knowledge and duty, while ranking status of a group – Whereas, in Western societies social status of a person or organization has always been associated with material success or control of power, authority. In India, status of a person is determined on the basis of its knowledge, purity, discipline and moral standards.
  • Division of labour – In the world of occupation there had been division of labor. All functions needed for the maintenance and growth of the society were divided into different occupations. On the basis of natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics, each group was assigned a distinct function to perform.
  • Automatic system of checks and balances – Such a system of division of labor developed its own systems of checks and balances over arbitrary use of its authority. Separation of rights and duties combined with the principle of inter dependence provided its own system of checks and balances over arbitrary use of one’s authority. There was an automatic decentralization of authority. The principles behind the whole system together provided the society a quality of life.
  • Specialization – System as a whole evolved an atmosphere, where a high level of specialization and wisdom in different areas of activities could be achieved. Being constantly in contact with the family occupation, it was natural for the people to learn maximum about their traditional occupations.
  • Spawning bed for social and technical skills – The system served as a spawning bed for social and technical skills. There was a tendency to bring in the most diversified skills to high level of excellence. By its very nature, it encouraged the development and preservation of local skills. The manner, in which social, technical and occupational knowledge and skills were transferred and developed, was through practice and experience; not through formal classroom lectures, which often kills originality and verve of people.
  • Natural training without investment -The system inheritance in matter of assignment of different functions to different groups led the people to learn basic qualifications and tricks of the trade within their families itself from their elders. Skills were learnt more on job under the training and guidance of ‘elders’, already there on various jobs/occupations.
  • Skills passed on from one generation to another – The system transmitted knowledge, expertise and tricks of a trade, intelligence, abilities, experiences, values and skills from one generation to another in a natural way. Children, while growing up, learnt about hidden intricacies of a profession and solutions of their occupational problems, informally from their elders. The system as a whole increased the confidence of the workers and saved them from confusion or unhealthy competition.
  • Reservoir of natural leaders – Don Martindale said that India possessed a reservoir of natural leaders – Brahman naturally trained in literary skills, Kshitryas in art of leadership and different service groups in skills. It has been seen that a Marwari, traditionally belonging to business community, invests his money in share market with more ease and confidence than a graduate from other communities possessing a degree in business management.
  • No confusion – The system saved common-men from confusion or unhealthy competition. It avoided rivalry or bitterness for pelf, power or position amongst different sections of society. There was no confusion, unhealthy rivalry or frustration on matter of work, because every body had his traditional occupation.
  • Clear vision of responsibilities– Principles of Dharma and Karma made clear-cut vision of rights and duties of each group, based on and due consideration of the requirements of different occupations. It developed understanding amongst people for their liberties, limits and responsibilities.
  • Each occupational group having an independent entity – Each occupational group had an independent entity, having its own hierarchy, based either on a tribal identity or an occupational identity. There was not much disparity between different occupational groups or between urban and rural people in ancient India.
  • Job-satisfaction – the system gave job-satisfaction to almost all individuals except for a few and managed smoothly daily necessities and day to day relation of its members. 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 auspicious 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.
  • Interdependence – Local character and semi-autonomous nature of the system made close interaction and cooperation between different groups a reality. Not a single group could claim to be self sufficient, capable to survive alone and fulfill all needs of its people. Still people enjoyed a large measure of freedom in respect of their personal matters. The system as a whole was capable to fulfill all the needs of its people.
  • Combination of inter-dependence and self-reliance – Inter-dependence in social life and self-reliance in personal life were the intrinsic features of ancient system making each local area self-sufficient. Interdependence of different groups made it possible to have close contact amongst the people living in a local area. People whether living in a village or city, were bound together by economic and social ties and had a strong bond of mutual dependence.
  • Developed a common bond– The system developed a common bond underlying their activities and minds. There was closeness and cooperation within each and every group, engaged in common occupation due to common callings, common problems, and common solutions.
  • All professions worth pursuing – All occupations were regarded worth pursuing. Principle of Dharma inspired people to do their jobs well, as all worldly honor and spiritual happiness were vested there. It assured the people that proper performance of one’s work, whether high or humble, whether of a priest, warrior, Shudra or yogi were equally important for the society and were, therefore, right, respectable and worth pursuing. It brought worldly honor and spiritual happiness for individuals and provided the whole society a quality of life.
  • No confusion, bitterness, rivalry or frustration on matter of work – Each individual and every group served the community in one way or the other and was, therefore, satisfied. All the social groups lived the life of dignity and honor with the feeling that they, too, were contributing something to the society.
  • Benefit of knowledge to the ignorant and illiterate masses – In ancient India, illiterate masses got the benefit of researches and knowledge of intelligentsia – learned sages and Munies. On the basis of their scholarly researches and experiences, the sages prescribed certain guidelines in the form of rituals to for the benefit of common men and keeping order in the society. In modern societies, this job is done by the national governments by enacting laws and forcing people to follow them.
  • Downward filtration of culture – It made downward filtration of culture, sophisticated language and knowledge possible. In modern society, everybody lives in one’s own world, hardly having any interaction with others. There are watertight compartments between different groups living in an area.
  • Control over natural resources of the nation – Society as a whole had control over its natural resources. All local groups, whether high or low, living in an area mutually depended and supported for fulfilling different kind of needs and cared for each other.

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

Many 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. An average Indian, according to Dr. Albert Swheitzen, “Did not find life a vale of tears, from which to escape at all costs, rather he was willing to accept the world, as he finds it and, extract, what happiness he could, from it”. Recently U.S. Ambassador John Kenneth Galbrigth remarked, “While he had seen poverty in many countries of the world, he found an unusual attribute among the poor of India. There is richness in their poverty. They did not count wealth in money alone”.

Changes in job-market with industrialization

Industrial revolution started during late eighteenth century. It had undermined every pillar of old agricultural society. Individualism and materialism reigned supreme throughout industrial era.  Industrialization process along with modernization has changed the traditional job-pattern and work culture tremendously especially during 19th and 20th centuries under British rule.

Before industrialization, most of the people were engaged in agriculture and other professions related with it or in handicrafts, cottage industries etc. Industrial revolution has created a large number of new kind of blue-collared jobs.

Initial period of industrialization – Initially technologies were developed for lessening the strain on human muscles and designed for illiterate labour force. Machines were heavy, rigid and capital intensive. Work was unskilled, standardized and broken into simplest possible operations. All the workers were equally good, easily interchangeable like parts of a machine. Numerous unemployed people were always available. The workers were kept ignorant and powerless by keeping information restricted. These workers were chained to industrial discipline. Their life in the factory was tightly regimented,

Casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style – Outcome of industrialization has been casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style, commitment, motivation and culture. Many traditional occupations of pre-industrial society became obsolete. Indian handicrafts and cottage industry were destructed. Efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsmen and weavers, many of whom were experts in their respective areas, were scattered. They lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride. In the beginning of industrial era, these changes were opposed strongly by forces of feudal agrarianism, landed gentry, hierarchical church and the intellectual and cultural elite.

Major changes in social life – Industrial Revolution made drastic changes in the social life of people. There had been shifts in population, ecology, technology, culture and relationships. The behavior, life style, values, and attitudes as well as power equations and inter-relationship of various individuals, social groups and organizations of the agrarian societies had changed.

Industrialization developed mass-culture – Industrialization has initiated the culture of mass capital, mass production, mass-consumption, mass media and mass democracy. The pace of social, economic and political changes was much faster than that of agricultural era. It has influenced the thinking, behavior pattern and work-culture of the societies allover the world.

Along with it changed the pattern of family life, work-atmosphere, and political equations/environment and business culture of the nation. The need for a homogeneous workforce gradually shifted the individual and mass loyalties from society/village to nation. The power of the rural feudal faded.

Many traditional jobs became obsolete –  Industrialization with new technologies have made many traditional jobs obsolete. Many more occupations were considered less paying, more hazardous or time consuming. Millions found their income threatened, their ways of work obsolete, their future uncertain and their power slashed.

Urbanization – Migration of millions from villages started. Rural landowners shifted to cities, to explore their luck in expanding industrial arena. They relied on new technological developments, machines and material for generating more money. Along with them, many peasants and traditional professionals migrated to cities in search of jobs, as the industrial labour. They became urban workers subordinated to private or public employers. Migrated persons felt more liberated, while living in anonymity in urban areas.

Money the prime motivator of workforce – Industrialization shifted the attention of the people to generate more wealth. People were desperately dependent on money for their survival. Money became the prime motivator of workforce, the main tool of social control and political power. (Toffler, Power shift) The most basic struggle was over the distribution of wealth-who gets what?

Benefited rich people – Rich and privileged class took advantage of technological knowledge and new opportunities and became richer. But the general masses became poorer and more miserable. The social and economic condition of rural people deteriorated continuously. Consumerism had increased the economic and cultural differences enormously between the elite and the masses of a society.

Modernization

Changes, modernization brought – There have been some revolutionary changes in the job market with modernization. In traditional way of employment, there was not unemployment problem to the extent it is now. Everybody was supposed to be busy with his traditional occupation. There were some social control mechanisms to check the youth from getting confused in the matter of their occupation.

Now, a large number of youngsters have been caught under the vicious circle of traditionalism and modernity. They are confused, unable to decide what they really want to do. Modern system of employment has given to them multiple choices in organized and unorganized sectors, in government, public or private sectors, in addition to the traditional occupations. A large number of individuals

The Government of India is trying to eliminate unemployment since first five-year plan days Many income generating programs were introduced during various Five Year Plan. Despite taking the course of liberalization in 1991, Indian employment policies are still loaded with misconception and high initial employment policies without any regard for quality or incentive to achieve higher results per worker. The rising aspirations of people unmatched with skills and qualification and absence of traditional social control mechanism lead many to become unemployed. Present culture of beg, borrow or steal, i.e. to earn easy money, makes many young men not to work at all. Low wages especially in unorganized sector distracts many people from taking up any job. Such people are in a constant search of a job.

Dehumanized face of modern education and training institutions – Earlier people learnt the tricks of their trade from their elders and got advantage of their long experiences. Now many functions of family were transferred to formal education and training schools/institutions, caring of elders and destitute to old age homes/shelter homes, and work/jobs to government, factory or offices.

The dehumanization of institutions has weakened the connection of the institution of family with occupations, which eroded the control of elders over work-culture. After Industrialization, workers were equally torn between the workplace and home in a physical sense and between family and organization in an emotional sense. This conflict had adversely affected the motivation, morale and productivity in modern societies.

Concept of welfare state and its practicality as far as employment is concerned – Modernization has given rise to the concept of democracy. People are supposed to be the supreme power. With it emerged the concepts of liberty, equality, and fraternity and concepts like Welfare State and Development administration. In recent pas, these concepts been interpreted in such a way that instead of being a facilitator, governments of democratic Welfare nations have taken up the responsibility of generating/creating and providing employments to all. A section of society insists that it is responsibility of the government to create jobs for about 400-500 million illiterates and 200-250 million semi-ill-literates, that too in organized sector.

No government can provide ‘Warranties’ and ‘guarantees’ – However, no government can ever provide ‘Warranties’ and ‘guarantees’ to give jobs to all. As a facilitator it can tell people about ‘possibilities’ and opportunities’. To convert those opportunities m into success depends on determination, hard work and commitment. Youth of today should be encouraged to make their own efforts to get a job of their choice. In today’s knowledge-based economy, morale of talented/higher skilled Entrepreneurs/Innovators need to be boosted up, in so that they themselves get job-satisfaction and give employment to other low-skilled individuals in their Company.

Acute problem of unemployment – It has been observed in recent past, very few persons could take the advantage of new opportunities in modern job-market. In the near absence of industrial, commercial or social service activity, most of unskilled, semi-skilled job-seekers have no option, but either to join band of agricultural laborers, industrial workers and marginal labor for their survival or increase number of unemployed or under employed. Some studies have shown that over 11.3 crore persons in India (about 15% of the working from 15 to 60 years of age group) are unemployed and are available for work. As reported previously by Times of India, over 20% of youth between 15 to 24 years of age were jobless. In absolute number, it is about 47 million. In J&K, it is 48%, in Bihar 35%, in Assam 38%, in W. Bengal 54%, in Jharkhand 42%, in Odisha 39% and in Kerala 42%. (Figures quoted from Times of India, p.11, 24.9.14).

Craze for white-collared jobs – With the craze for white-collared jobs, started the trend of aversion for traditional occupations, blue-collared jobs or menial jobs, where hard work. is required. Modern education system initiated by British rulers opened up new vista for ‘White-collared jobs.’ Many new institutions and with them new kinds of jobs have came into existence in government, public or private sectors. Bureaucracy, corporations, hospitals, schools, post office, telegraph, telephone, institutions in mass media opened up new vista  giving individuals more freedom to select occupation of their choice.

Dependence on government-jobs increased – A large number of willingly remain unemployed till they get a government job. At present government is the biggest employer. People’s preference for government jobs has increased because government gives its employees regular fixed salaries, regular career progression and job security, whether they do any work or not. The trend of looking up at the government for regular jobs has placed immense power in the hands of the those in the corridor of power. Politicians, political parties, and their supporters, who rely on middle and working class votes, do not mind, if the the problem of unemployment here persists.

Stress on formal degrees and diplomas – Access to newly emerged knowledge-based jobs either in government, public or private sectors  demands formal education, certificates/degrees/diplomas. Stress on formal degrees and certificates for employment and advancement in career has led to many mal-practises. Many people do not hesitate to manage fake certificate. Once they get a regular job preferably in government, they do not pay much attention to learn, understand the basics, increase their knowledge, hone their skills or be aware of the latest development in their field of work.

In present competitive world of job-market, even a degree is not enough to get employment. In private sector, employers look for multi-skilled candidates. Stress is on performance, as well as being good in extra curricular activities as well. However the protective policies of government in matter of employment have encouraged some individuals to to manage fake certificate. Once they get a job in government, they do not take interest in understanding the working system of their profession, in increasing their knowledge, hone their skills or be aware of the latest development in their respective field of work.

More practical and sustainable solution lies in increasing the pool of properly trained skilled labour. A matured mindset is needed prior to entering into any profession.

Shortage of the formal institutions – Demand of admission-seekers in institutions of higher learning has put great pressure on government to create more and more institutions of higher studies and training. Many new colleges and universities have been created, but still, there is an acute shortage of the formal training institutions. The number of aspirants seeking admissions is so large because of population explosion, that it becomes very difficult for deserving candidates to get entry into the educational and training institutions of their choice. Also it is very difficult to get admission in the courses of their aptitude or choice.

Most of the time, energy and efforts of modern youth are wasted in search and pursuit of those jobs, for which they neither have aptitude nor attitude or which are beyond their reach for one reason or the other. This time they could have utilized otherwise for constructive purposes.

Government the ‘Messiah’ and common-men ‘pygmies’ – Since the government has taken up the of creator, and not the facilitator, the government  as a guardian should generate/create enough jobs to keep all its employed. In its role of a provider, those in positions of power in political or bureaucratic arena have assumed tremendous power. They virtually control the destiny of masses. They have become ‘Messiahs’, and down-sized common-men to ‘pygmies’. Unskilled or semi-skilled job-seekers are totally dependent on government, all the time seeking blessings or support of those who in power. It has corrupted the whole system.

One of the acute problem is of unemployment. The number unemployed people is continuously increasing.

Unemployment a major issue – Majority of people could neither enter into modern sector, nor could stick to their traditional occupations.

  • Continuous increase in the number of unemployed youth – According to UNDP’s Human Development Report, India will have 63.5 million new entrants into the workforce between 2011 and 2016, of which bulk will be in the 20-35 age group. A study jointly conducted by CII and Deloitte reports about aspirations and concerns of a multi-generational workforce as “Indian work-places have become an interesting blend of three generations – the business leaders and CEOs of baby-boomer generation (45 plus); management teams and senior professionals from Gen X (23 to 45); and young Gen Y professional (under 23)”.
  • Undesirable affect due to generation gap – This generation gap has led to differences in working and communication styles as well as motivation. It is important for baby-boomers, who are leading organizations, to understand the working style and beliefs of the younger generations. The younger generation do not see themselves staying in one organization for long, but their commitment and dedication towards work and responsibilities has not reduced. Also they prefer a fair system, where processes are more transparent and the system is less bureaucratic.  (Quoted from TOI, N. Delhi, P., 19, 24 Aug. 2013)

Conclusion

In the 21st century, ‘Power’ is based on knowledge. Knowledge is now easily available to common-men citizens in almost all the fields. In comparison to knowledge, land, cheap labour, raw material and capital – all these conventional forms of production are increasingly becoming less important.

The present is passing through an exceptional time of human history, when the world is leaving behind the industrial era and is ushering into a super-symbolic electronic era based on extra-intelligent networks. Only people have to prepare themselves to gain true knowledge and cope with the changes through sound system of education and traing.

August 12, 2018 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | , , , | 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

Bureaucracy in India

Origin of civil services in India – The civil services in India can, without doubt, be regarded as the most remarkable of all the institutions, Britain has bequeathed to India. The term `Civil Service’, which is now applied to the general body of persons employed on non-combatant work connected with the administration of states, was first used in the late eighteenth century to designate those employees (known as ‘writers’) of East India Company, who were engaged in Mercantile work.

Civil Servants being transformed from traders into administrators – As the character of the company changed – its trading operations were first supplemented by territorial dominion and eventually replaced by the responsibilities of government – its civil servants were transformed from traders into administrators.

Initially in trading roles – Roughly from 1606 to 1740, the civil servants were managing primarily trading operations, and incidentally administrative work. When it grew more and more in size, as the East India Company acquired territorial possessions notably after the battle of Plassey, its  role started changing and administrative tasks increased with time. Precisely from 1741 to 1834, the civil servants were entrusted with purely administrative activities.

After transfer of power to British Crown in 1858 –  By 1858, when the transfer of power from East India Company to the British Crown became a reality, the foundation of the Indian Civil Services was formally implemented. Soon after the termination of the `Rule of Company Bahadur, it was replaced by the `Rule of Crown’. An organised bureaucratic hierarchical structure came into existence in India.

During this period, the Secretary of State for India, in Britain, was at the top the Viceroy and Governor General of India just below him; Provincial Governors/Lt. Governors/Chief Commissioners below Viceroy; and Collector/Magistrates or Deputy Commissioners and other civil servants etc. occupying the lowest rung of the four tier structure of the centralised white bureaucracy.

In India, the Viceroy and the Governor General (the supreme bureaucrat for the Government of India) was the Crown’s representative. His office was set up by the Regulating Act of 1773, while the Act of 1858 decorated its title as Viceroy and the Governor General of India. He had assumed much authority in his own hands on account of being the `man on the spot.’ All provincial and local administration was under his absolute control. Due to the policy of maintaining a uniform administrative system all over the country, his control was very extensive in the administrative field. Though the public services were recruited by the Secretary of State, it was the duty of the Government of India to lay down policies of reform and progress of the administrative system in the form of Resolutions.

The Act of 1919 and that of 1935 had relaxed Central control over the provincial administration, but Governor continued to act as the concrete embodiment of the bureaucratic administration under the absolute superintendence, direction and control of the Governor General.

The civil servants of different ranks, i.e. Commissioners/Deputy Commissioners/District Collectors and Magistrates etc., were entrusted with the responsibility of running the administration of their division, district or some such local area according to the dictates of the upper echelons of British Bureaucracy.

System of recruitment From 1805 to 1885, the higher civil servants were nominated by the individual Directors of the Company. From 1858 onwards, in order to make the civil services in India more efficient and well equipped, the British Civil Service Commission was created in 1855 and given the responsibility to select officials through competitive examination.

Bureaucracy under British government in India – Bureaucracy under British government in India is still remembered allover the world for its efficient and effective governance. How British rulers had created an instrument for it is appreciable. They had created and propped up the Indian Civil Service as an elite service meant predominantly to be engaged in the governance of the country. Its officers controlled virtually all the levers of the governance, deliberated directly at the highest level of policy formulation and decision making. In return, it offered ICS officers best career opportunities, more power, higher salaries, better perquisites, quick promotions, and responsibilities with full freedom to work and superior status than any other service and a place of pride.

Developed traditions of Independence, integrity and hard work – Under British rule, higher Civil Services in India had developed traditions of Independence, integrity and hard workthough these qualities served the British rulers and not the Indian masses. This was the reason that ICS has often been called the “Steel-frame”, which reared and sustained British rule in India for such a long time.

British Government laid stress on merit. It was very particular about the recruitment and training of its elite services, engaged specially in Control Functions. British rulers, in accordance with their aims and objectives, pursued the policy of White-man’s superiority in its appointments. They did not considered Indians capable enough to participate in the governance of the country by holding higher administrative jobs.

Steps taken to maintain White-men’s superiority – Queen Victoria’s Proclamation of 1858 entitled all Indians, irrespective of race or creed, to be freely impartially admitted to the offices in the services, the duties of which they may be qualified by their education, ability and integrity, duly to discharge. But for a long time, the Indians were deliberately kept at bay. Entrance competitive examination for ICS was held in England till 1922. Very few Indians could bear hazards, expenses of going abroad and taking the risk of extremely remote chance to succeed there. Illbert Bill controversy confirms the fact that White bureaucrats were not at all prepared to share control administrative functions with Indians, in spite of all the official declarations of 1833, 1858, 1861, 1892 and 1909.

Lord Lytton said We all know that these claims, expectations never can or will be fulfilled. We have had choose between prohibiting them (Indians) and cheating them, we have chosen the least straightforward course. Lord Kimberley, the Secretary of State, laid down in 1893; It is indispensable, that an adequate number of members of the Civil Service shall always be European. Viceroy Lord Landsdown stressed Absolute necessity of keeping the Government of this wide-spread empire into European hands, if that empire is to be maintained.

In 1867, Lawrence said, We have conquered India by force of arms, though the policy and good Government have already aided us. In the like manner, we must hold it. The Englishmen must always be in the forefront holding the post of honor and power, as the condition of our retaining of our rule. In Home Department Resolution of May 1904, Lord Curzon’s Government justified the policy, they were pursuing with regard to White-man’s superiority in Civil Service. The highest ranks of the civil employees in India, those in the Imperial Civil Service, the members of which are entrusted with the responsible task of carrying on the general administration of the country, though open to such Indians, who proceed to England and pass the requisite tests, must nevertheless, as a general rule be held by the Englishmen, for the reason that they possess partly by heredity, partly by upbringing and partly by education that knowledge of the principles of Government, the habits of the mind and vigor of character, which are essential for the task and the rule of India, being a British rule and any other rule being in the circumstances of the case impossible. The tone and the standard should be set by those, who have created it and are responsible for it.

Bureaucrats provided “Care, protection and guidance” to the people, they ruled – Generally the youths, who joined Indian Civil Services, were mainly graduates from school to Oxford or Cambridge belonging to British professional middle classes. The main attractions for them to join the ICS, were the status and perquisites, British government gave to it. Good salaries, background, sense of duty and their living in ivory tower kept it honest and made any rumor extremely uncomfortable.

The officers belonging to higher civil services took jobs as a challenge to provide, Care, protection and guidance to the people, they ruled. Mr. Lines, an ex- ICS officer, said, I suppose, we thought of a simple Indian villager… Here are simple people, who need leadership. Mr. Arthur, another ex ICS officer, said,Their attitude, certainly was paternalistic, which was necessary in a colonial administration. Philip Maser said that there was esprit de’corps amongst the officers. Lines pointed out, It is the Esprit de’corps, which served to enforce a strong moral code.” It did not need to be articulated. Every body knew it. “The smallness of service– just over a thousand at any given time – made for a strong sense of service loyalty.Clive Dewey said that the historical evidence pointed out to only a minute handful of officers being corrupt.

Stress on merit – Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister in his historic Steel-frame speech, said on Aug.2, 1922 in the House of Commons that British civil servants were the very basis of the Empire in India and so he could not imagine any period, when they could dispense with the guidance and assistance of a small nucleus of the British civil servants. He said,I do not care, what you build on it, If you take that Steel-frame out of the fabric, it will collapse. There is only one institution, we will not cripple, there is one institution, and we will not deprive of its functions or of its privileges and that is that institution, which build up the British Raj – British Civil Service in India.” The British rulers were not only particular about the appointments in the ICS, but also provided sound training, while on job and atmosphere conducive to efficient performance.

Immediately after their arrival in India, new recruits were attached to district for rigorous on-the-job training for eighteen months. During one year of district training, the officers had to get thoroughly acquainted with villages, administrative compulsions and a working knowledge of the relationship between various branches of Government at district headquarters like police, agriculture, local bodies etc. Another six months were directed to more intensive revenue work in district under land settlement. It meant harder and more complicated work.

Great stress was laid on touring and camping out. They had to maintain diaries, which were thoroughly scrutinized by their seniors. It was made clear to senior district officers vide G.O. No. 738, published on 18th April, 1916, in ICS Manual, Madras, “The great importance of paying attention to the training of young men, who were entrusted to their guidance and whose success in life and influence for good depends so greatly on the assistance, which they received at the outset of their career.” The system was so enforced and watched, that there was no escape, whatsoever, from acquiring knowledge about the basics of administration, and to learn about the problems of each and every area of their jurisdiction. Guidance of the seniors prepared them to deal with those properly. The Government paid all the attention to see that, the new recruits were shaped into ICS role properly.

National leaders like Gandhiji, Gokhale, Tilak, Patel and others put pressure on the British for holding Civil Services examination in India, simultaneously with that of England. They demanded more higher jobs for Indians. Consequently, from 1922 onwards, the British Government started holding Civil Services examination in India also. As a result more and more Indians joined the iCS.

To maintain the standard, dignity and honour of the services as earlier, the British Government arranged three years of rigorous foundational training for the Indians selected from Indian center. For appointees selected from UK center it was two years. They were required to undergo a years training in U.K., at one of the four universities – Oxford, Cambridge, London or Dublin, immediately after joining ICS. This training was for duration of two years for those, selected from the Indian center (Delhi). From 1937, it was reduced from two to one year. The purpose of longer probation period, in Britain, for Indians was to bring them in close touch with British way of life, broaden their outlook, develop loyalty to Britain and develop the mentality of a foreign ruler. The Indian officials had to appear in two examinations at the end of their probation in U.K., while their British counterparts, selected from London center, appeared only in one examination. In all other matters like emolument and privileges, the Indian ICS officials got equal treatment, as was given to their British counterpart.

No doubt, all these efforts have helped ICS developing gradually into one of the most efficient/powerful services in the world. It is unfortunate that today, neither the politicians, nor bureaucrats think or care on these lines i.e. to give the nation an efficient and effective governance by placing right persons on right positions at right time or to remove growing slackness in recruitment and training processes, which has ultimately led the nation to ineffective governance.

With the intensification of National movement, birth of Indian National Congress Party in 1885 and the demand for greater Indian participation in Government and its administration left a dampening effect on the attraction of British youths to join ICS. All the attempts to attract them fell flat. The number of British officials began to decline.

Balancing the Administrative power – The British rulers saw to it that no section of Indian society could become strong enough to pose a threat to its rule in India. The dominance of Brahmins in administration and modern callings, their being main force behind the entire national movement, agitation and terrorist activities cautioned the ruler. To balance the power and to counter preponderance of Brahmins and forward castes, the rulers propped up other sections of the society.

Through the Acts of 1909, 1919 and 1932, the British fixed up quota on the basis of caste, community, occupation, religion etc., in government jobs and gave them separate representation in Legislative Councils, and Assemblies. They bestowed special benefits and preferences in education and Government jobs for different upcoming groups.

British rulers transferred some service functions to the Provinces and along with it, delegated the authority of appointments,promotions etc in those areas to the Provincial Governments. The Colonial rulers were aware of the consequences of this delegation of authority. They knew well that all these move would generate rivalry between different sections of the society, divide Indian society and adversely affect its administration.

Firm and clear message of British rulers to up-coming social groups – Till the last, British Government kept its elite services untouched from the quota system. They firmly and clearly said to the upcoming groups that they wouldn’t weaken their Steel frame at any cost for any body, as on it depended efficient governance of the country. It told the upcoming groups in clear terms, “With its utmost desire to do so, the best for these classes, the Government will be and is powerless to help them, unless they qualify themselves to the same extent as others of their countrymen for duties of administration and public.

“Communal Award” of 1932 could not be implemented till 1943, because of the procedural constraints. In 1943, the British Government issued orders for 8 1/3% Reservation of posts for SC candidates in Central Government Services, raising the age limit for them to enter in competitive examinations, and lowering the examination fee for them. However, after 1943, the recruitment to ICS was suspended, earlier due to Second World War and later, because of transfer of power to Indians.

Position of bureaucracy when national movements started Post 1919 period witnessed the intensification of national movements, emergence of Gandhi and Congress and the acceptance of the methods of violence by some parties as a means to achieve independence. During this period the main task of the administration was to maintain law and order intact at any cost.

Bureaucracy under British rule not accountable to Indian people – The civil service throughout British rule was characterized as hierarchy of officers neither chosen nor accountable to the Indian people. At the level of local administration, it meant `Raj’ to the masses of the country, as the rule of an officer “was based on fear and awe and mass obedience was extracted by repression and suppression of popular demands”. The higher civil servants were appointed and for that reason, accountable to those above them.

All these developments during first half of the twentieth century show that British design to prepare an atmosphere for the successful implementation of Reservation policy on basis of caste and community before quitting. It is unfortunate that the independent India has fallen into the trap.

After Independence In 1947 came the Independence. With the attainment of Independence and adoption of socialist and egalitarian society as ultimate national goals, the demands on administration undergone a qualitative change. The basic task of administration changed from one of attending to routine regulatory function to that of development administration, promoting a rapid socio-economic change.

Since then, the pressure on administration has increased manifold, because of –

  • Quantitative expansion in the work load of modern governments;

  • Increasing complexity of the problems of modern governments;

  • The accelerative thrust of science & technology;

  • Demand for specialisation,

  • The rapidly rising tempo of political consciousness among masses;

  • The dependence of national stability upon the ability of government to satisfy at least a minimum of popular need and expectations;

  • An urgent need for radical change in the attitudes of the government employees

More the problems, more efficient and better equipped bureaucracy of the nation should be, its being an important instrument to solve nation’s problems, to face the challenges and meet new demands.

July 21, 2018 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | | Leave a comment

Democracy -Past and present

Politics without principle is a sin.

“What is the difference between a priest, a lawyer and a politician? A priest wouldn’t tell a lie, a lawyer couldn’t tell the truth and a politician doesn’t know the difference.” R K Laxman, “A vote for laughter

        “A good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has disease.”           William Osler

“Don’t find faults, find remedies.” Henry Ford

Introduction – Democracy(rule of many) is far greater than any other form of government, be it Monarchy ( Rule of one), Aristocracy (rule of few) ot Dictatorship. According to Lincoln, “Democracy is the government of the people, for the people and by the people”. The word ‘democracy is derived from two ancient Greek words: demos (the people) and katos (strength). In a democracy political power is ultimately in the hands of the whole adult people. A democratic government may be Direct or Indirect.

Direct Democracy – In a direct democracy, people themselves legislate and execute them. In modern times, the most successful and long-term experience of it is Switzerland, where a host of ordinary policy questions are routinely put to the electorate, following a tradition dating to the 16th century. Earlier in city state, it was possible for people to rule themselves directly. In modern age, democratic government governs the nation through the representatives of the people.

Direct democracy depends on the following methods for its functioning –

  • Initiative – It is a method whereby a group of citizens can put a legislative proposal directly – may be to enact a new law, or to repeal an existing law or to amend it – for determination in referendum.
  • Referendum – It is a method of referring a question or set of questions to the electorate directly rather than allowing them to be settled by people’s representatives in the legislature.
  • Plebiscite – Plebiscites are referendums, a system for allowing the whole of the electorate to give their opinion on some political question.

Indirect Democracy  – Indirect rule by representatives of the majority of the electorate is known as indirect democracy. In this system, people vote for representatives. The main instrument of choosing the representatives is periodical elections. Political decision -making is done by this small number of people’s representatives,  elected by the whole electorate.

Representative Democracy is usually equated with Liberal Democracy which describes the political system which originated in the USA and Western Europe. It has subsequently been adopted by Third World countries. Indirect democratic regimes may be classified as either Presidential or Parliamentary systems.

Indirect democracies are based upon several interrelated principles:

  1. the existence of regular, free, fair elections based upon universal suffrage and secret ballots;
  2. the existence of competing political parties offering electoral choice;
  3. the existence of electoral laws supervised by an independent judiciary;
  4. freedom of speech and association ;
  5. freedom to stand as an election candidate;
  6. “reasonable” relationships between votes cast and representatives elected;
  7. availability of accurate unbiased political information.

A civil society is needed to strengthen Democracy. Democratic way of life. healthy democratic practices and systems can be developed created in disciplined atmosphere  only.

Diagnosis of the disease of electoral politics – Today, Democracy has become the most difficult form of government. It has been successful only in a very few nations that too in in developed countries.  In developing or underdeveloped democratic countries, one of the main reason of chaos is its electoral politics and vested interests of its political leaders. Democratic practices are at its lowest ebb these days. They have become very complicated. People in power echelons are becoming very insensitive in tolerating dissent views. They take  right decisions only after they have exhausted all other alternatives.

The major problem with this kind of democracy is that quite often it leads to negative electoral-politics, as voters do not have any choice in selecting the candidates. It is the job of rival political parties to select the candidates and woo the voters to vote for their prospective candidates.

No system of choosing the representatives of the people through elections can be fool-proof in any democratic nation. At present many ill-practices have developed in the electoral politics like –

  • A politician can fight elections from two seats, but a citizen can’t vote from two places.
  • One has to be a graduate to get a job in government at supervisory level (class III, II or class one job). But there is no educational qualification for a political leader for fighting an election. Even an illiterate politician can become a minister.
  • A politician can fight elections while in jail. No citizen can enter into the government service, or can continue in any government service, if he has ever been convicted and imprisoned in jail continuously for more than two-three days in a criminal case or case of financial irregularity  But a politician can occupy even a post of PM, CM or minister even after being in jail for criminal or economic crime several times.

It is a big problem at present, how to elect true representatives, who can serve the masses  honestly and sincerely. Electoral politics has led to slow development in the position of poor masses. It is a matter of great concern how to cure mal-practices developed in the electoral system, especially when the elections are not fought with fair objectives. People usually fight  elections to gain political power by hook or crook, and control the destiny of millions of people. It makes it easy for them to serve their own personal interest  or interests of their followers.

It has been seen that usually most of the elected representatives in legislatures do not understand what to legislate, how to lay down policies, because of the lack of understanding of real issues  and monitor its implementation properly. Executive lacks the ability to supervise the functioning of bureaucracy/execution of plans and policies. effectively and efficiently. Members of Opposition parties are more busy in criticizing all the time functioning of party in power with negative mindset and do not allow the government institution to function in public interest.

For winning the elections or creating votebanks for themselves, political leaders adopt ‘policy of divide and rule’.  They  shamelessly divide the electorate on the basis of their diverse identities and create numerous watertight compartments, appease different sections of society, give priority to sectional interests over national interest and thus woo the voters.. In such a situation how can government maintain law and order  in the country or function efficiently and effectively in a democratic state?

Till the people in power echelons understand the reasons, why electoral system has got derailed and think about the ways and means to remove the shortcomings, developed of present electoral process, neither the government would be able to treat the disease nor the patient. it will be difficult to elect deserving candidates to run the government. It is necessary to diagnose the disease correctly before working for its cure.

People wish to see in their political-leaders maturity, dynamism, positive approach to tackle problems, mannerism and unbiased grasp of the problems/needs of all communities and cultures.

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

Historical Background

While laying down the foundation of democratic institutions in India, British Imperial rulers had very cleverly and diplomatically  served a double purpose – on one hand they got the credit for the amelioration of the Indian society. And on the other, they devised a unique method to distribute the political power, to keep balance of power in such a way that could prolong their rule in India and keep the natives busy in their in-fights.

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

Factors that led to electoral-politics in India – Following were the measures taken by the British rulers, promulgated in piece-meal and with due regard to the safety of British domination –

  1. Discrediting Indian values and systems –   First of all, Imperial British rulers had exaggerated the distortions developed into the system during almost 500 years of Muslim rule and 200 years of British  rule, after the decay of Hindu Raj around 8th century. Under British rule, many rulers, European teachers & philosophers, missionaries, and bureaucrats had purposely  blamed the Social-structure of India and held it responsible for poverty, misery,  deprivation and exploitation of millions of its people. They depicted the Indian culture and practices as discriminatory barbarous, uncivilized and its social system highly stratified”, where multiplicity of communities and their cultures were exploiting each other for their own advantage.” They carefully avoided telling the strong points of Indian philosophy, systems and social values.  .   
  2. Modern education system – Next step was Modern education system introduced by Macaulay. On one hand, Indians got access to the enlightened spirit of many liberal thinkers, like Locke, Mill, Rousseau, Voltaire, Spencer and Burke; and the knowledge about English, French, American revolutions, through modern education. It offered to Indian intelligentsia, the key to the treasures of scientific and democratic thought of Modern West. It opened up the doors of knowledge and widened the mental horizons of Indian intelligentsia. They attracted the attention of the minds of educated people, national leaders and reformers towards  rigid attitude, social evils and practices, which had developed in the system to preserve their Hindu identity under Muslim and British rule. On the other hand, a group of emerging political leaders, as well as of some intellectuals deeply influenced by Western thinking  doubted the efficacy of the sayings/teachings of Hindu epics/scriptures like Vedas, story of Ramayana-Mahabharata etc. They have developed a doubt/complex about its rationality.
  3. Census Operations – After consolidating its position, the British Government in India made an effort to know about the people, whom they want to rule and chalk out strategies for the colonial governance. British anthropologists worked very hard to collect data. For the first time, the Census operations drew the attention of the rulers, intelligentsia and public to the multiplicity of castes and sub-castes and diversity of Indian society. A systematic and modern population census, in its present form was conducted non synchronously between 1865 and 1872 in different parts of the country. This effort culminating in 1872 has been popularly labeled as the first population census of India. However, the first synchronous census in India was held in 1881.

The rulers exploited material/information  gathered through census operations, relating to social, demographic, linguistics, religious and cultural diversities of India. The knowledge of such diversity of Indian society and multiplicity of castes and sub-castes helped the rulers to instigate caste consciousness, caste animosities and make caste a tool in political, religious and cultural battles that Hindus fought among themselves from now on-wards without any sign of relief even as of today.

It changed the older system in a fundamental way, giving rigidity to social stratification and hierarchical ranking. It led to caste-ism in politics. 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.”

Earlier, the Hindu Society was classified into four Varnas embracing numerous castes and sub-castes within its fold.  Census operations divided it into five and created new unbridgeable compartments within Indian social structure. – Backward caste, forward caste (caste Hindus), untouchable or scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and minority.  Through legal process, they gave each one a new separate and distinct identity.

The British authorities knew well that, in the Hindu society, caste opinion and caste loyalties always remained a cohesive regulatory force and the easiest, quickest and the most powerful mode to communicate.  They were also aware of the influence of Brahmins over the whole society.

While introducing electoral politics in India, the British successfully divided the Hindu population into two uncompromising groups viz. `We the Non-Brahmins and `They the Brahmins and caste Hindus. They instilled deeply in the minds of millions of unlettered Hindus, venom against caste-system and the Brahmin community.  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. Since then, their influence in politics has been growing continuously.

Leverage to Non-Brahmins in politics – Pigeonholing everyone by caste and community gave political leverage to the non-Brahmin castes on account of their numerical strength. Infights amongst natives among various castes and communities started.

Hindu population was divided into two uncompromising groups viz. `We the Non-Brahmins and `They the Brahmins and caste Hindus. The submerged sections of society developed in their hearts venom against each other. They feared that Hindu Bramins’/caste-Hindus’ majority in government would dominate them.

Leaders of non-Brahmin community united numerous endogamous jatis into region wise alliances, increased in size and emerged as powerful pressure groups in different regions. Modern means of transport and communications shortened distances and made mobility faster and easier, Every thing together had destroyed the local character of governance. Small local castes, confined within a small area earlier, grew in size, embracing a much wider area than before.

Earlier non-Brahmin movements had economic and social thrusts demanding education and land for backwards and freedom from caste rigidities. Till the end of the 19th century, Backward castes resisted the hold of Brahmins in the spheres of land, wealth, and education.

Later on,  some non-Brahmin political leaders demanded a share in the power-structure, special attention and intervention of the British government in electoral politics and government jobs, and thus improve the position of Backwards. Non-Brahmins’ demand for a share in modern callings turned into a political movement. In the South and Bombay Presidency, the non-Brahmin leaders voiced forcefully against the domination of Brahmins in government jobs and other modern callings. They  demanded enough space in education and jobs in government. British had full sympathy with them.

Their demands were quickly accepted by the British. These demands gave birth to caste-politics in elections, creation of vote-banks vote-banks through protectionist and appeasement policies and quota system in education and government jobs. Non-Brahmins acquired considerable amount of political clout ever since the beginning of 20th century,. With the introduction of electoral politics,, their influence in politics continuously grew.

Start of General elections in India –  While introducing system of general elections in India, the British very diplomatically divided the Hindus along caste-lines. The first  General elections in the history of India was held in 1920 to elect members to the Imperial Legislative Council and the Provincial Councils. With it grew the importance of numbers. The beginning of the system of elections to elect the representatives of the people through adult franchise gave importance to Power in numbers. In the name of amelioration of the backward sections of society, the British government gave political leverage to the non-Brahmin castes on account of their numerical strength. Since then, their influence in politics has been growing continuously.

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

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

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

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

“Importance in numbers in elections” – 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 ‘untouchabes’ in the political circles.

Together, all these measures led to electoral politics of vote-banks along caste and communal lines. Casteism and communalism, which was almost non-existent hitherto, established its firm roots in the political life of the country.

Steps taken by the government which inflamed electoral politics of Vote-banks before Independence –

  • Granting separate Muslim electorate through Government of India Act 1909,  (Minto Morley Reforms) brought the idea of communal electorate to the forefront. Granting special electorate to Muslims made the numbers important.
  • Around 1909, the non-Brahmin Community was divided into two – Backwards and Untouchables.  For the first time, the lowest strata of Hindu Community were conceptualized under the name of untouchables in the political circles.
  • In 1908, the untouchables comprised about 24% of the Hindu Population and 16% of the total population. The suggestion of Census Commission, to exclude untouchables from Hindu group, gave a new dimension to casteism in politics. The suggestion of Census Commissioner to exclude untouchables from Hindu fold, in the forthcoming 1911 census, immediately increased the importance of untouchables in political circle, in social circle, and in their own eyes too.
  • Such a move alerted national leaders. This was not acceptable to Hindu leaders at any cost. Their fear proved to be right  as the number of Hindus has fallen down continuously. The following chart, based on various censuses, establishes this fact: Hindu population was 73.3% in 1881, 72.3% in in 1891, 70.3% in 1901, 69.3% in 1911, 68.4 in 1921, 68.2 in 1931 and 65.9 in 1941.

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

Steps taken during the British rule

  • In 1918, Mysore Government denominated all communities, but Brahmins, as backward and gave the backwards special protection in the form of scholarship, admission in educational institutions, quota in jobs and other concessions and benefits.  Special Government officers were appointed to look after their welfare.  Madras and Bombay Presidencies followed their example.
  • Government of India Act, 1919, accorded special representation by granting a few nominated seats, in the Legislative Assembly, for depressed classes.  Legislative regulations and administrative orders declared denial of access to untouchables to schools, well, roads and public places as illegal.  So far, untouchable activities were combined with the non-Brahmin movement.
  • By 1928, untouchables separated themselves from the intermediate caste and established their independent identity at national level. Until 1932, the Government of India avoided itself from stigmatizing any group, by official acknowledgement, of their low social status and considered it unfair because Owing to the social disabilities, to which members of the depressed classes are exposed, it would be in the highest degree undesirable that any official authorization might appear to extend such qualification. The fluidity of social distinctions and the efforts of the classes lowest in the scale, aided by social reformers, to improve their status make it more desirable, that government should abstain from doing anything, which would tend to give rigidity to these distinctions.(Indian Statutory Commission, 1930, VI, p 341)
  • The joint Select Committee of the British Parliament, while reviewing the South Borough Report on measures to secure representation of minorities or of Backward classes for Indian Constitutional Reforms 1919, commented that they attached importance to the educational advancement of the depressed and Backward classes. (Mukherjee P, Indian Constitution and all Relevant Documents relating to Indian Constitutional Reforms of 1990, p 528).
  • In 1930, Starte Committee suggested to sub-divide the backward classes into untouchables, aboriginal hill tribes and other backward class.  Political expediency and imperial designs to keep balance of power got victory over rational thinking.
  • Through Communal Award 1932, British created a permanent split in Hindu Society. It perpetuated casteism and made impossible the assimilation of different castes under one fold.  Dr. Rajendra Prasad said, The principle of dividing population into communal groups, which had been adopted in the Minto Morley reforms had been considerably extended, even beyond what had been done by Montagu Chelmsford Reforms… The electorate in 1919 was broken up into ten parts, now it is fragmented into seventeen unequal bits… Hindu community was further weakened by giving separate representation to Scheduled castes. Division on the basis of religion, occupation and service were made.  Every possible cross division was introduced by the British.(Cited in Mehta and Patwardhan, The Communal Triangle, p72). The Communal Award strengthened the roots of casteism in politics.

After Independence – Democracy and people’s rights should go side by side. But the way political leaders have perceived and claimed to promote people’s interests, is neither beneficial for the country, society nor the poor. Indian reform movements took a long time to dilute the rigidities of caste practices developed especially during the alien rule. But after Independence, for winning the elections, and remaining one up as long as possible, entry of caste into national politics has given a new lease of life to casteism. The politics have principles have been reduced to street-level politics.

For political leaders of the day, winning elections is everything. Every election gives a chance to shift  political power from one political party to another. For each political party the most important is to usurp political power by hook or crook, so that  they can control the destiny of the people as well as the treasury of the nation and serve their own vested interests.

They do everything in their power to strengthen their vote banks. For it,  populist policies are promoted, appeasement measures are taken and  sectional interests are pursued to build a team of their supporters/followers. They just don’t care about the social imbalances and tensions, such actions cause. Agitations,  violence and sectarianism on the basis of caste and community are continuously on increase.

To serve their vested interests, political leaders and their parties have divided the Indian society into uncompromising watertight compartments on the basis of caste and community more rigidly than it was ever before. With an eye on coming General Election of 1919, all national and regional political parties have, once again, started playing the cards of caste and reservation to win the battle of ballots.

In provinces, some castes, which are given benefit of reservation by the concerned state, are quite vocal to get recognition and be included preferably in SC and  ST lists, or otherwise, at least in OBC list of central government. As it entitles beneficiary caste to get advantage of over-protective policies and plans of government all-over India.

Promoting sectional interests and giving special benefits to some social  group/groups invite conflicts, because the interest of one group is promoted at the expense of others. Equal treatment to all citizens encourages co-ordination and co-operation, but preferential treatment to some and taking away the legitimate rights of others generate resentment and heart-burning.

After Independence, sectional interests have aroused the agitation among different castes and communities all over the nation.  There started a cut-throat competition for scarce positions of power and prestige.

From historical facts, above, it is clear that the British fanned casteism and communalism in electoral-politics for political reasons. Earlier, though there were few stray incidents of violence, the nation was largely free from caste wars or class clashes.

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

July 5, 2018 Posted by | General | | 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

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