Sunday, April 16, 2006

Mandal commission Recommendations vs Hindu Casteism- An Over View II

Present Indian Scenario
If we look at the all-India scenario, dominant backward caste or upper shudra politics seem to have emerged in most of the parts of the country. It may not have the earlier strict non-brahmin movement traits but it has always addressed the political dominance of higher castes directly or indirectly. One can easily be reminded of the politics in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra, UP, Bihar, etc, up to 1967 elections. But later there was a major shift in favour of dominant castes, whereby these states saw the emergence of big landlords dominating the political scene in post-1967 period.

Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Bihar have seen some sort of ‘non-brahminical’ politics continuously but the way shudra politics addresses the caste question in northern states of Bihar and UP in the late 1980s and 1990s again incite us to go into the dilemmas that prevail in dalit and upper shudra politics and their respective ideology, strategies and ‘roles after coming to power’ in the respective states. So far as the ideological standings of SP and RJD are concerned, they do attack brahmins, though the former is much milder. In their speeches, they do attack the brand of Hinduism which stands for communalism but do not speak against existing hierarchies which has been legitimised through scriptures like Geeta, Mahabharata, Ramayan, etc. On the other hand, the BSP leadership always refers to caste-hierarchy and the prejudices against the dalits and shudras. Though the Bahujan Samaj claims to include SC/ST/OBC/minorities, but BSP draws its main support from the SCs and the most backward castes among OBCs.

India’s gross expenditure on education now, by the state and central governments combined, is nearly Rupees one lakh crore or 3.52 percent of the GDP. The Government of India’s spending on education is expected to double by next year and go up to three times by 2009-10, from the current level to Rupees 1.82 lakh crore first and Rupees 238,835 crore subsequentlySince 1971, 15 per cent of all government jobs are reserved for scheduled castes. But these jobs are not all filled. At the gazetted officer level, most of the top A and B categories of reserved jobs continue to lie vacant. Under category A would be officers of the rank of Under Secretary to government and above, officers who would determine the policies of the country. In the B category would be section officers or lower administrative officers. There has been no scheduled caste Cabinet Secretary, the top job in the civil service hierarchy of the country. In 1998, Mr Mata Prasad, a chief secretary in UP, was tipped to be Cabinet Secretary and there was hope he might become the first scheduled caste to storm this bastion of the upper class or caste. But he did not get the job. An important reason why the scheduled castes do not rise in the gazetted posts is they join service at a late age and retire before they can reach the top echelons. Top jobs are also political appointments. So it is only in the lower cadres that the reserved quotas are filled.

Mandal commission Reports
Those who are vigorously demanding its implementation believe that it will lead to a reduction of social and educational backwardness and give a chance to live to the backwardness and give a chance to live to the backward classes who constitute 52% of the population of India. Those who are opposing it, with equal vigour, believe that the implementation of the Mandal recommendations will intensify casteism. Some like the Maharashtra Maha Mandal also predict a civil war if the Mandal recommendations are implemented. S. Y. Kolhatkar, writing in Jeevan Marg, while endorsing the recommendations, warns against organizing any movement to demand its enforcement, on the ground that this would increase casteism. The only panacea according to him is the development of a Left Democratic Front to initiate people's struggles against price increases and unemployment !

Both these elements attack the Mandal Commission for adopting caste as the criteria for determining social and educational backwardness. This charge is ill-founded. In fact, the Commission, after a very thorough scientific investigation has with the help of experts from various disciplines worked out to determine social backwardness. These indicators are social, educational and economic, and as the major controversy resolves around the caste criteria allegedly adopted by the commission, it would be relevant to reproduce the actual criteria used by the Commission.

Brahminst who are 5% of the population enjoy 50% representation in the Union Cabinet, in Secretariat positions, in Governors' and Vice-Chancellors' and ambassadorial jobs, that does not raise even an eyebrow of the so-called casteless society wallahas! 'Caste' cannot be used to deny social justice to a vast majority of the people; neither can caste be allowed to be sued to maintain privileges and positions grabbed and retained by a microscopic minority for thousands of years. The double standards by which the not-so-concealed casteism of the high caste is considered acceptable and respectable, while, 'caste', which has condemned the lower castes, the backwards, the dalits, the adivasis to a life of poverty, exploitation, injustice and humiliation is not be reckoned with, is a thoroughly discreditable posture and can deceive nobody. The struggle against caste cannot be side-tracked to perpetuate the domination of the higher caste. The struggle against caste is the most intense from of class-struggle in the Indian situation.

But the main thing is that besides reservations, the Mandal Commission has recommended certain structural changes. The Commission has sharply focussed on the fact that a large majority of the OBCs live in villages, that they are poor farmers, or farm labourers or village artisans whose 'business' has been completely destroyed by the Batas and Garwares. These rural poor are today completely under the control of the rich farmers and traders who have reduced them to a state of slavery. Their conditions cannot be change takes place in the relations of production. The Commission wants a change in the private ownership of the means of production both in industry and agriculture. The Commission wants a change in the private ownership of the means of production both in industry and agriculture, it should not be delayed. Even if the existing laws in the statute books are enforced ruthlessly and impartially, it would give considerable relief to the poor. At least, the strange hold of rich farmers will be loosened, if not broken. The Commission recommends that the Ceiling Act and other land reform statutes should be vigorously enforced.

Currently, whatever land is acquired by the enforcement of the Ceiling Act is distributed amongst SC/ST only. The commission feels that some of this land should also be given to the OBC. It is very heartening to note that the dalits who are likely to lose something under this measure are coming forward to support the Mandal Commission. It is a measure of the maturity of dalit movement that they are willingly and voluntarily accepting some sacrifice to promote the cause of the other oppressed section, the OBC. The dalit and the OBC solidarity, let it be understood, unites 75% of the people, suppressed, exploited and condemned to a life of degradation and humiliation. The Mandal Commission has opened the visa of such powerful consolidation of the exploited people. The Mandal Commission recommendations for Hindu OBCs are applicable to non-Hindu OBCs also, thus the struggle for the recommendations of the Mandal Commission can unite all the exploited and oppressed masses irrespective of religious divisions. Their struggle against high caste domination and exploitation can become the struggle against capitalist-landlord exploitation and therefore a struggle for equality and social justice.

A privileged class, at the cost of a little sacrifice can show some generosity. A class without any privileges has ideals and aspirations; for at least as a matter of self-interest, it wishes to bring about a social reform. As a result it develops an attachment to principles rather than to self interest. The class of caste-Hindus other than brahmins lies in between; it cannot practise the generosity possible to the class above and it does not develop the attachment to principles that develops in the class below. This is why this class is seen to be concerned not so much about attaining equality with brahmins as about maintaining its status above the untouchables...

In conclusion one can look back to the statement given by Ambedkar at Mahad: While the caste system lasts, the brahmin caste has its supremacy. No one of his own will, surrender power which is in his hands. Nor does it appear likely that the task will be carried out by other caste-Hindus. As a part of social reformation I do support the reservations based on caste system and I hope it will be helpful to the people who were kept away from all social activities (including education) for thousands of years to be main stream to cope up with the traditionally privileged people. It is neither a right nor a generosity towards the back ward community, just a matter of accommodating them. The caste system based on birth should always be discouraged. The reservations can be of financial basis. Anyway I wish for a better future for India.

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