Friday, August 26, 2011

Fwd: [Bahujan-forum] Anna Hazare Stir: Contrarian Voices Rise--the Caste Question

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: yogi sikand <>
Date: Fri, Aug 26, 2011 at 5:03 PM
Subject: [Bahujan-forum] Anna Hazare Stir: Contrarian Voices Rise--the Caste Question



Tired of Democracy?

Gail Omvedt

Why are such masses of people (apparently: in our village some came out for a
morcha organized by the Maharashtra Navnirman Samiti) following Anna Hazre, when it is
now clear that his Lokpal is an authoritarian, centralized and undemocratically pushed

Several articles, including those by Arundhati Roy and Aruna Roy, have made this
clear by now. I can find only one point to disagree with in the otherwise excellent article by
Arundhati: that, like the Maoists, the Jan Lokpal Bill seeks the overthrow of the state. It
does not. The movement wants to keep the state, in an even more centralized form, but
replace its current rulers with a new set. And Ranjit Hoskote's comment that "Anna
Hazare's agitation is not a triumph of democracy [but] a triumph of demagoguery" deserves
to be remembered. The increasingly authoritarian, even fascist forms of activities are
disturbing even many of its supporters.

But why is this happening? Many people are clearly tired of the ways of democracy
in India, but why? Arundhati comments that the campaign for the Jan Lokpal Bill gathered
steam after embarrassing revelations by Wikileaks and a series of scams. This is an
important part of the truth. But it leaves out one factor.

Indian democracy has a system of reservations, which is currently being extended to
OBCs – and demands have been heard from Muslims and from Dalit Christians that they also
be included. Reservations are anathema to many of the core supporters of Anna Hazare.
This includes, for example, a group calling itself "Krantikari Manuwadi Morcha." Its leader,
one R.K. Bharadwaj has said, "Reservation is the root of all corruption. The real revolution is
to return to Manu's merit-based society." It's hard to believe – the author of all anti-merit
demands for privilege according to birth! Bharadwaj argues, "those with reservation are
the ones in corruption. Those in the general category are the sufferers." This major aspect
of democratizing and acting against the old privilege of birth, is hated by those who benefit
from it. Now those who hate it are getting a chance to divert attention into the single issue
of "corruption," with the hidden agenda of blaming much of it on reservations!

The fact that the Parliament has been considering returning to the caste-based
census is also something that has troubled the Manuwadis of India. This would be an
important reversal of the decades old policy of trying to pretend that caste does not really
exist, that it is withering away on its own. Dr.Ambedkar had a pertinent comment about the
Home Minister of the 1940s when the first Census without caste was taken. He said, "The
Home Minister of the Government of India who is responsible for this omission was of the opinion that if a word does not exist in a dictionary it can be proved that the fact for which
the word stands does not exist. One can only pity this petty intelligence." Only by admitting
a phenomenon exists and devising policies to deal with it can it be overcome.

The Lokpal Bill itself is very authoritarian, in putting non-elected people of high class-
caste background over elected officials and government bureaucrats (but not, as people
have noted, over corporations!). "Pal" means "guardian," and in many ways the proposal
recalls Plato's Guardians – philosopher-kings who would rule the state. Plato, of course,
believed in something like a varna system – people would be said to have
special "essences," gold for rulers, silver for warriors, bronze and iron for workers and
farmers. So apparently does Anna Hazare. Arundhati, again, cites Mukul Sharma on
Anna's attitude to caste: "It was Mahatma Gandhi's vision that every village should have
one chamar, one sunar, one kumhar and so on. They should all do their work according to
their role and occupation, and in this way, a village will be self-dependant. This is what we
are practicing in Ralegan Siddhi." Is this the India people want to return to? So it seems.
The deeply disturbing aspect of this whole event is the reactionary trend that political and
social life, especially as dominated by "shining India," seem to be taking.

But corruption of course is a reality. What is the solution? It used to be (in the 19th
century) just as bad if not worse in the U.S. than in India. (Not that it is completely
eradicated today). It did not end through a supercop. It ended through the actions of
ordinary people. Dr. Bharat Patankar, of Shramik Mukti Dal and a leader of many farmers'
and project evictees' movements in Maharashtra, suggests peoples' courts as a way out.
SMD's annual melava in September will suggest ways and means of doing this.

In fact, corruption can only come to an end when the millions of ordinary people
of India fight it: by refusing to indulge in it, by taking action against the small local corrupt
officials and powerholders they come against, by taking out morchas, taking action. This is
the way out – not "Guardians" chosen by Magsaysay Award winners.


Dalits come out against Anna Hazare's fast

Subodh Ghildiyal, TNN | Aug 24, 2011, 02.21AM IST

NEW DELHI: Contrary to the general enthusiasm over Anna Hazare's fast over Lokpal bill, the dalits have struck a divergent note, warning that the government should not accept the Gandhian's demand against parliamentary processes, saying it would set a dangerous trend and make backward classes vulnerable. 

With the war of wits between Hazare's camp and the Centre entering a decisive phase, the unease felt by the dalit groups since the Gandhian sat on fast spilt out in the open. 

Dalit activist Udit Raj, who was denied permission for a rally against Hazare, said the protestors' demand to "sidestep" the constitutional process was a threat to democracy. He said his group would write a more caste-wise inclusive 'Bahujan Lokpal bill" and send it to Parliament for consideration. 

Raj's attack only reflected the general wariness among backward classes contrary to across-the-social-divide resentment against graft. Dalit intellectuals said the possibility of mass mobilisation forcing a "set of solutions" on the Centre against constitutional processes raised fears that affirmative action could be a victim of similar techniques. 

According to the activists, a precedent of government bowing to street power on the corruption issue could put their position in danger because dominant social sections were just as opposed to job and educational reservation. Memories of the stir against OBC reservation starting from Mandal Commission in the 1990s to education quota in UPA-1 are fresh in their minds. 

Vivek Kumar, sociologist in JNU, said, "Crowds don't lend legitimacy to any cause. That is a dangerous argument." 

Hazare cuts an elderly Gandhian figure but it has not deterred dalits from dissenting because of their touchy relationship with the Constitution delivered by their first icon, B R Ambedkar. The dalits argue that affirmative action survived for six decades despite pan-Indian 'savarna' anger because of constitutional safeguards. Any indication that basic provisions of the statute could be reopened would sound the death knell for SC quota in jobs and education, they argue. 

Kumar said, "If dalits have achieved anything, if you see any diversity today, it is because of the Constitution, Parliament and bureaucracy. You cannot discredit the Constitution." Dalit writer Chandrabhan Prasad explained, "SCs see everyone questioning parliamentary process as villain. The scepticism started the day he questioned the integrity of electoral politics." 

Common Concern, a group of dalit intellectuals, met on Tuesday and expressed opposition to corruption in sociological terms. "Dalits face corruption not from bureaucracy but from civil society where caste system is the biggest oppressor. And this civil society wants to overturn the Constitution which has given us respite from caste system," was its refrain. 

The criticism told when Hazare on Tuesday dwelt on problems of SCs/STs in his address but said his village Ralegaon Siddhi presented a picture of social brotherhood.


No comments:

Post a Comment