Friday, June 23, 2006

Hunger stalks Mushahars in Kushinagar

Wanted an Immediate Response By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Kushinagar happened to be one of the finest and most peaceful places of the world according to local quoting mythology. As Lord Buddha found this place as beautiful and peaceful, he decided to stay put here and ultimately got his ‘Mahaparinirwana’ here. Since then, for the Buddhists and all those who believe in human values and humanity, who consider Buddha as humanist per excellence visits this place annually and pay tribute to him. After India opened its door to Foreign Direct Investment and Japanese government also started investing in the Buddhists circuits, Kushinagar became a well known tourist hub where the number of international visitors is growing. The number of land purchase for making hotels, inns and other recreation centres for the foreign nationals is increasing. So is the number of displaced people without any rehabilitation.

Paradox of a historic city where one of the greatest sons of the world preached equality, non-violence and dignity is missing these days. For thousands of Mushhars who once upon a time were officially declared as a criminal tribe by the British, life remain as dark and unpredictable as the electricity in the villages, which can go any moment and come after long hours. Mushhars remained thoroughly disemboweled and marginalized in Uttar-Pradesh. One has to go to a village and she their conditions and the exclusion looks complete.

If political powers have reached certain communities among the backward and Dalits on the basis of their numbers then definitely the minority among them remains on the margins. In fact, our village system is crudely majoritarian in concept. Hence democracy which should have ensured protections of minorities in our villages became voice and rule of the majority. The concept of majority rule therefore brutally suppressed the feeling of minorities and turned to a complete caste state.

Yes, Uttar-Pradesh has seen Dalit empowerment and that of backward communities and yet it is here that Mushahars, Bansfors, Kanjars, Doms, Kols, kachis, Kahars are facing the worst crisis of their lives. These communities remains on the margins as their number does not really matters in the power structure. Their votes most of the time is already caste. The irony of the concept of the Bahujan is that it remains politically inclusive but socially exclusive. Mushahars became totally disempowered due to this as they have no political representations.

All pervasive Hunger

During the past few years a large number of Mushahars, Kols and Banfors have died of hunger and malnutrition. Due to lapse of administration, exact numbers are not come yet Mushahars remains in the forefront. When Mushahars were dying of hunger, a number of Non-governmental organizations also jumped into the fray to work for them and yet the Mushahars remains the same.

According to information received by us, about 50 Mushhars have died of hunger and malnutrition during the past one year. Local journalists vouch that the situation is really of grave concern as if government fails to act fast we may see an endemic issue of deaths in the region. People do not eat in the evening. Even if they cook it is rice for a few but snail for a majority. Women, Children and elders are the worst victims. As Ram Chandra Prasad, a local social activist says about the Mushahar life style, “Mushhar gets married around 15 years of age, by 25 years of age he become father for nearly 6-7 children, by 40 he looks frails due to lack of malnutrition. If he earns some money, he drinks because he cannot fetch the family. Illicit liquor becomes his only rescue to save him from tensions and deprivation. By the age of 45 he dies.”

Conditions in Mainpur Tola, Khadahi, Kasaya, Kushinagar

Three Mushahrs died in this village during the past one week out of hunger. Two of them happened to be elderly people while one girl of around 10 years of age. This village is situated about 8 kilometer away from the block headquarter and 20 kilometer from Kushinagar.

The total families in the village remain 105 with a population of about 613 people. According to Bomb Bahadur, 21, no government schemes have reached the village. ‘ Nobody come here sir. We have nothing to eat. The two elders died because we could not collect enough money to feed them. Every one is concerned about him.’ Interestingly, this village has ‘Grain Bank’ opened by Action Aid. According to the concept, the village people can borrow grain from the bank and will have to return 40% more once they get the work. Unfortunately, in the absence of the work, not many of them have been able to return. In fact, a majority of villagers have been completely ignored by the Grain Bank as they were surprised to hear about the same.

40 years Hardev is unable to walk. He has no money to get himself cured. The nearest hospital is about 10 kilometer away.

Gulli is 45 years of age. He was in jail for 8 months as he was considered as a wrong witness. His mother died during this period. There was no one to help the family. His wife was looking after the children and the villagers collected funds for the family. After his mother’s death he came out on bail for Rs 40,000. This is a great burden on a person who has nothing. One wonders how come Mushhars who can not stand in front of a person face such tyrannical punishment. One wonders how he could have killed any one.

There is not a single house in the bustee which is constructed. All of them are thatched huts which during the summer often catch fire. Fire that is rarely quenched and often kills members of the family.

The most agonizing moments for me was to speak to Panmati Devi, a colored woman in her 50s who was looking much older. With tears flocking from eyes, she did not have any one visiting her for any cause. She cannot walk and even cannot cook. The villagers have been providing her all assistance.

There was this woman Ralori w/o Fago who both happened to be disabled. None of them have got any pension or work for their living.

In a hut, I found more than 15 person living. One can assume how dangerous it could be and how suffocating when husbands, wives, sister in laws, brothers, sisters sleep together. Unbelievable. People simply have nothing.

Men after men, women after women, child after child that we meet, gives us gory picture of the malnutrition and hunger prevailing in the area. Most of the men looked much beyond their age. Their tummies inside down while the tummies of the children always looked swelling. The veins in hands, the bones in the chest and the structure of our body was thoroughly and transparently visible once you visit them. It looks shocking, and disgusting.

Children have nothing to eat. Women have nothing to cook and men have nothing to work. None have got a ration card to buy ration. Even if they get it , they do not have money to buy ration. Despite Kushinagar being declared as a district under ‘ National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, not a single person in this village was selected under the scheme.

Most of the families eat once a day. A young widow, whose husband died 6 years ago and who is now feeding her three children, mentioned that from 7 am to 1 pm she works and gets Rs 10/- from the local landlords. From 2 pm to 6 pm again fetch the same amount of the money. In a day of around 8 hours of work a person earn Rs 20/-. In this age of inflation these Mushahars do not get 1/3rd of the price recognized by the government of Uttar-Pradesh.

None of the children that we met had covered their bodies. None of the men had cloth to cover their upper limbs of the body. They eat once a day and the day they could get some work, it is possible to eat in the evening which simply is a treat for them.

Mushahar Tola, Laxmipur, Padrauna

Five kilometer away from Kuber nath, where a big temple offering money to Kuber is situated, the Mushhars in the Laxmipur village remain completely cut off from the rest of the village. They live about 1 kilometer away in the outskirts of the village towards the South. The distance to this place from Padrauna block is about 10 kilometer. The total number of families living in this village is 63 with about 419 people according to those who were present. According to Newspapers report Mushhars have been eating snails here. As we reached this village, people started coming to us and take us to the place where they had kept the shells of snails after boiling them. They boil and drink the snails and consider it as giving them nutritional power. So rains bring some cheers for them as they go to the nearby river, ponds and fish these snails. In fact, they might also be catching other stuff such as tortoise for the purpose of eating.

Two elderly couple Tetari and Ganesh are in the last stage of their life. Both of them can not work and are fetched by the locals by contribution. They take us to the place and inform us that they have got nothing from the government. None of them have any house. The children simply do not go to schools and do not have anything to eat.

The scenes at both the two villages of Mainpur Tola, Khadha, in Kasaya Block and Mushhar Tola, Laxmipur in Padrauna block have been a reminder that our society has lost touch with its aboriginal people.

One does not need to say here that Dalit empowerment, Nationalism, great vibrant India makes any sense for these poor people where officials do not reach, where NGOs makes money over the poverty and where our sensibilities have simply become superficial.

Reason for the Disempowerment of Mushahars

Mushahars claims to be tribals. They worked in the forest but the power politics of Uttar-Pradesh rarely recognized their rights as tribal. They used to make ‘Pattals’, the plates made of tree leaves of Sagaun. They used to have pigs and collected minor forest produce. Over the years, the feudal forest department continues to thrash them at their wills resulting in their complete disempowerment. Being a numerically minority community, Mushhar could not change the voting pattern. Completely isolated in forest, they were thrown away in the lurch. Hence no right to collect timber, minerals, water, wood etc from the forest. The forest officials would maltreat them and take away their grazing cattle. Already they had been termed as ‘thieves’ and for any theft the officials would get hold of a Mushhar and put him behind the bar.

Package of Basic Demands for the Mushhars of Kushinagar

A casual approach to resolve the crisis would not work. I have myself reported and filed reports with the National Human Rights Commission and other Human Rights Commission on Hunger and Malnutrition for the past 5 years. During the past three years, we had filed report on Mushhars, Bansfors and kols in Bundelkhand, Sonebhadra, Deoria, Gorakhpur and Kushinagar about hunger situation. Two years back when in Raup ( Sonebhadra) around 18 tribal children had died, the authorities rushed to distribute rice and wheat to the victim families after NHRC issued notices. One does not know what happened.

I would therefore want to bring into the picture several important factors for the survival of Mushhar community with dignity and honor. As well known economist Jaffrey Sach provide a ‘package of basic needs’ in his book ‘ The end of Poverty’. I would add a few more things along with his package for immediate action to save the dying Mushhars. It is the responsibility of humanity. All National and International Aid agencies should also look into it whether their approach has failed.

Sach suggest following package eliminate poverty:

1. Primary education for all children with designated target ratios of pupils and teachers.
2. Nutrition programmes for all vulnerable population
3. Universal access to anti malarial bed nets for all house holds
4. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation
5. One half kilometer paved road for every thousand of population
6. Access to modern cooking fuels and improved cooking stoves to decrease indoor air pollution.

Our Demands

Unfortunately Sach has missed one of the most important points about access to Land and Water. Therefore I would request the National Human Rights Commission to act on this report on an urgent basis and ask the state government to save the Mushhar community from sinking further. Following action should be taken immediately :

1. Provide immediate emergency relief in terms of nutritious food in the above two villages as well as many other such villages of Kushinagar.
2. Involve Mushhars in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programmes ( in these two villages none of them know about it).
3. Distribute land to them so that they can do farming.
4. Distribute land to them for building houses. The clause that Indira Awas Yojana could only be given to those who have their own land actually makes it a redundant scheme for the poor as a majority of those who get it for them do not need and those who need the house do not have a land to build it.)
5. Send Medical vans to these areas and start a vaccination programme. We fear the children suffer from lever problem while the older people suffer from multiple diseases.
6. At the moment, Mushahars should be allowed to collect minor forest produce and should not be dislocated from the places they are living.
7. Ensure Mushhar get the tribal status or status of a forest dweller so that they can be benefited from the proposed new bill named as ‘ Scheduled Tribe and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers ( Recognition of Forest Rights Act, 2006).
8. For evaluation of both the government and NGO work, a regular monitoring mechanism consisting of a team of NHRC, civil society organizations should formed.

What can we do

Interestingly, the World Bank has also come out with its India specific report suggesting that ‘ Forest Incomes can help take millions out of poverty’. According to the bank an estimated 275 million people depend on forest in India for their livelihood. The bank’s report suggest that ‘ with improved forest productivity and policy reform, a typical forest based community could increase its annual forest based income from around Rs 200,000 as of today to rs 1 million or more in cash income by 2020. At the same time the annual revenues per hectare collected by the state government would automatically increase many time. According to the bank the state and the centre must have a reform agenda on the following lines:

More secure tenure and resource rights for forest dwellers

Strengthening forest management: monitoring and control systems

Access to more effective market system

Develop more effective and flexible institutional models

Though the government of India is already bringing a new legislation named as Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers ( Recognition of Forest Right Act 2006) which will ensure 2-5 hectare land for every tribal family and that of the forest dwellers. It need to be seen how the environmental lobby will be dwelt with. One need to understand that tribals and forest dwellers did not destroy the forest. It is the big timber mafia and our new life style which is responsible for degradation of forest. The better we realize that tribals and other forest dwellers are the best bet to save the forest, the greater it would be for the country.

One do hope that by the time this bill passes and communities like Mushhars are recognized as tribal or forest dwellers so that they could be saved from hunger, humiliations and indignity. It is an emergency time for the international community, for the civil society to act. Do we need another Tsunami to move our hearts and mind? A strong long term initiative with emergency relief for Mushahars is the need of the hour and I am sure we all have to pull our resources and energy for this calamity which might not attract our attention because it has not occurred suddenly out of a Tsunami or an earthquake.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Movements are not build through media

Why Dalits should have their own media

Dear friends,

Movements are not build by the media. The reservations are going to stay even if the media do not want it. Media blames the politicians for vote bank but they also have their 'notebanks', the industrial houses and the corporates and they dare not go against them.

I agree with Shivam that more and more activities have to be on the ground. Activities
are there which media would rarely report. How many of the national papers reported
the first rally of the backwards-Dalit organised by Siddharamaiya in Bangore which
has a swelling crowd of over 75,000 people. How many of them carried the report of the latest rally of Janmorcha in Lucknow which has equal number of people. And recently when the JNU students organised a protest in India gate, how many reported. I was surprised that a Kashmiri Pandit protest consisting of less than 10 persons got a better photo-op than the strong pro reservation protest.

You can not protest to make news for the purpose of TV 'visuals', nor do you depend on them to give you strength. Dr Ambedkar did not survive because of the media and government but because the Dalits all over the country worked like a mission on his writings, on his perceptions. Today, I can say with conviction, that the dalits understand much better than their upper caste counterparts, who rarely know about history and social fabric of the country. Ambedkar's example is a role model for all of us how Gandhi who has been imposed by the media and their upper caste historian on us, still can no where come near Dr Ambedkar, Phule or Periyar, as far as popularity is concern. Dalit-Bahujans worship their ideologues. Gandhi is not even read by the so called Gandhians, leave alone the upper caste youths despite all the state patronage.

It is simple. Noam Chomski and Edward Said would continue to dominate our mind
despite the American corporate media black them out.

My point is, that we are in the internet age. It is good that blogs are coming, websites
are being created and stimulating discussions are taking place. At the ground level, work continue. It is that people do not know. Dalits are politically empowered and will retialiate when the elections come. That is one positive side of this entire episode.
The more the upper caste media villify the Dalits and backwards, the better their chances of coming together to form an electoral alliance which will prove lethal for the upper caste formulations.

Knowledge has traditionally been brahmanical hegemony. In recent years it has been
corporatised under the Banias ( most of the editors are traders today belonging to Bania community,Chawalas, Shanghvis, Guptas..). They have been thoroughly exposed.

Like the American media where every palestinian is considered as a terrorists, Indian media consider every reserve category student belonging to Dalits, backwards and tribals as inefficient and abominable. They do not have the same attitude towards those who come through managment quota or NRI quota or some other kind of quota.

However, there are good people also in media and one should try to network with them. Some time they succeed in planting the story, otherwise, Dalits will have to have their own media. It is here that creamy layers of Dalits, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists should work together.. To bring out an alternative channel or daily/weekly newspaper of their own.. but not as a mouth piece as many of them are already bringing out. One should strive for such paper/channel which bring out a rationalist/humanist/ambedkarite response on all the current issues.

21st century is the the century of information. The next war is being fought in information age. You can not expect a CNN telling truth on the Gulf War so they came with a much better choice Al-Zazeera which has hit the business of both CNN and BBC in the gulf. The Muslims simply did not go to CNN to ask them ' Please show us on the TV'. If you do not want us, fine, we will have our own. That should be the spirit.

I am sure Dr Laxmi Bairva and others in the US can think of these option. We will have to do something of our own.

With regards,

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Uncomfortable questions regarding Gandhi

Unplugging Gandhi and his relationship with dissenters By V.B.Rawat

Last year one of my articles on Jinnah and partition of India under the headline ‘ Jinnah, secular India’s best villain’ was published by the Radical Humanist. The article became more debatable in the political circle as according to The Telegraph (Kolkata) and Outlook (Delhi), that BJP President Lal Krishna Advani made use of it for famous Secular speech in Pakistan complimenting Jinnah. Unfortunately, the RH neither recognised the importance of the article nor was there any response to what was written in the media about the magazine as well as the author.

My article mentioned that the Indian secular elite at least must stop now vilifying Jinnah and analyse objectively and rationally the causes of India’s partition and the forces who brought it about. There is a need to understand Jinnah and his work after Pakistan came into being. There was one more thing, I had suggested, that Pakistanis must know that Gandhi died for their cause which was a genuine one and Indian must know that Jinnah was not only called as an Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity by Sarojini Naidu but he stoutly defended Bhagat Singh, a blot that Gandhian would like to forget. However, after Advani’s remarks, not only the Hindutva but the seculars also went overboard in decrying Jinnah again. The recent example is when a few Bombay film stars went on the premier of film Taj Mahal in Pakistan, veteran actor Feroj khan condemned Pakistan and its Islamic regime and appreciated secular India, its Muslim president and Sikh prime minister. Everything that he spoke was in bad taste and reflected arrogance Indian position vis a vis Pakistan. Communalism and creation of Pakistan are interconnected debates and one need to follow it properly. For that it is important that we revisit our past carefully and unbiased but also analyse the role played by some of the most outstanding leaders of movement for independence. Gandhi, therefore, cannot remain untouched and isolated from this debate on communalism in India. Since Indian historians have encircled history around Gandhi hence it is quintessential to have a critical look at Gandhi and his relationship with contemporaries during the freedom movement. The efforts by historians to cover up the entire thing under one pretext or another should not be allowed to continue for long.

Gandhi Unquestioned

While fully acknowledging Gandhi’s contribution to Indian freedom movement, it is important that he does not over shadow it. The power elite in India exactly did the same and ignored the great contribution of people like Bhagat Singh, Jinnah, Ambedkar’, Subhash Chandra Bose, EV Ramaswami Naicker Periyar, M.N.Roy and a number of others whose political viewpoint was contrary to Gandhi’s conservative Hindu philosophy. Gandhi became a God for Indian writers and any genuine dissent with him was considered to be blasphemous. The Gandhi debate has deliberately been relegated to Sangh Parivar –Secularism debate which is to absolve Gandhi from all the wrongs that he did with his contemporaries. Gandhi has become a demarcation line to judge others patriotism as well as morality in public life. It is therefore not unusual when proclaimed communalist like Arun Shourie, whose policies during his government were exactly opposite to what Gandhi had stood for, condemned Dr B.R.Ambedkar as anti national in the rubbish that he produced to please his bosses in the Sangh Parivar and middle class Hindus who jump on each word that he writes against minorities, Dalits and backward communities. Not only Ambedkar became target of calumny from the Gandhians, Bhagat Singh was relegated to mere ‘terrorist’. Regime after regime in the post independent India, refused to inform people as why Bhagat Singh had not been given due status in Indian history books. In fact, so-called biographies of Bhagat Singh have come from staunch Gandhians who have defended the indefensible act of Gandhi. None of them condemned Gandhi for not supporting the cause of Bhagat Singh as Congressmen were released from the jails after the Gandhi Irwin pact in 1932. Paradoxically, Mohammdad Ali Jinnah had supported the cause of Bhagat Singh and termed them nationalists. Is it not the duty of our historians to tell the Indian people about Bhagat Singh and what he stood for? When students can read Gandhian literature which ostensibly is nothing but an over dose of his morality, why can’t we read Bhagat Singh’s ‘ Why I am an atheist’ or the question of untouchables? Why is Bhagat Singh absent from our history books despite his most dynamic life history? Do our Gandhian historian feels that Bhagat Singh’s life may outshine that of any political leader of our country?

Promoting religiosity in the name of spirituality

In fact, historians rarely questioned Gandhi’s usage of religious symbol to inculcate the spirit of nationalism. Not only this, these symbols were predominantly aimed as placating Hindu upper castes but in the matter of Dalits, Gandhi used the concept of ‘Punarjanma’if they do not adhere to their traditional occupations they will pay for their sins in their next birth. To discourage Muslims for joining Muslim League and Jinnah, Gandhi supported the Khialafat Movement, which actually had nothing to do with the welfare of Muslims in India. Unfortunately, such a notion created the feeling of International Islamic brotherhood, which in today’s world has been more damaging than any other thing.

By his use of Hinduism as a political tool, Gandhi unwittingly opened a Pandora’s box that has yet to be closed. He mobilized an entirely new non-speaking section of Indian society that had not previously been involved in politics. The difficulty was that by invoking a dream of Ram Rajya, Gandhi alienated many Muslims, and ultimately helped to bring about the rise in the fortune of the Muslim League. His hope was that he could maintain a strong religious message but at the same point of time avoid offending Muslims. He said in a private conversation with Mahadev Desai, “ Though we do say that Hindus and Muslims are brothers, I can not conceive of their being brothers right today.. not all religious distinction will be wiped out in future, but Hinduism will captivate Muslims by the power of its compassion.
( Harbansh Mukhia in EPW)

Mohammad Ali Jinnah was uncomfortable with this hypocrisy of Gandhi. A strong supporter of Hindu Muslim Unity, Jinnah had openly opposed Khilafat movement apprehending that involvment of the Muslim clergy would reduce an entirely political movement into the hands of religious zealots. Jinnah knew it well that Gandhi spoke more on symbolism rather than worrying seriously about Muslim situation in India. In fact, supporting Khialfat was Gandhi’s masterstroke against Jinnah in getting support from the fundamentalist school of thought from Deoband. It is not for nothing that Deoband opposed the demand of a separate Pakistan fearing breaking of a Muslim nation into another small nation and Jinnah’s credentials as a secular leader. Gandhi on the other hand proved fruitful for all kind of fundamentalist and parochial forces in India. Jinnah understood the majoritarian Hindu mindset of the Congress party and Gandhi’s continuous flirtation with them. He said, “India has never been a true nation. It only looks that way on the map. The cows I want to eat, the Hindu stops me from killing. Every time a Hindu shakes hands with me, he has to wash his hands. The only thing the Muslims has in common with Hindu is his slavery to British”.(Mohammad Ali Jinnah quoted in Partition of India Legend and Reality by H.M.Seervai) One does not need to agree with Jinnah on his approach to Hindu Muslim problem which he considered as a political one and not exactly religious in nature.

Gandhi’s Betrayal of the untouchables of Travancore

E.V.Ramaswami Naicker or Periyar was one of the staunch Gandhian along with C Rajagopalachari in Tamilnadu. In the Travancore state, now part of Kerala, the Dalits were not allowed to walk in the street meant for the Brahmins and prohibited the entry in the famous Shiva temple of Vaikom near Kottayam. In 1924 Periyar decided to support the movement. Initially, Gandhi also said that he supported the demand of the untouchables to enter the temple and came to Vaikom. Soon, the upper caste Congress leaders convinced Gandhi that it would not be prudent for him to pressurize Hindus to allow untouchables to enter the temple. Gandhi clearly was not a revolutionary. He was an upper caste Hindu out to save the interest of his community. Periyar could not face this betrayal of Gandhi and resigned from the Congress Party and started ‘ Self Respect Movement’. How many of the Gandhian historian talk about Periyar’s self respect movement ? How many of our students know about it. It is strange that such strong movements are absent in textbooks even in Tamilnadu where the Brahmin historians made villain of Periyar.

How Gandhi blackmailed Ambedkar to sign Poona Pact

Dr B.R.Ambedkar was a man of great character. Scholar and iconoclast, Ambedkar walked much ahead of his time. Like Periyar, he also felt, in his initial years that Hindu dharma should be reformed. He launched a temple entry movement for Dalits in Kalaram temple of Poona. That movement failed to give justice to Dalits.

Then came the historical occasion for Ambedkar to enter into a debate on the issue of caste and Varna with Gandhi on his writings in ‘ Harijan’. Gandhi as usual considered himself an expert on every subject, from theology to spirituality. Unfortunately, his ridiculous religious beliefs that any one who did not believe in Varna or caste cannot be a true Hindu, were stronger enough to compel Ambedkar think for alternative to Hinduism. None of the Gandhian questioned his fanciful ideas. In fact some of them went on to support Gandhi and chided others. Indian media is full of such jokers who have nothing to do with Gandhi and yet they are ready to exploit Gandhi and his upper caste Indian dream. Gandhi’s retrogressive views on caste were well exposed in his debate on the issue with Ambedkar.

“If caste and varna are convertible (interchangeable) terms and if Varna is an integral part of shastras which define Hinduism. I do not know how a person who rejects caste i.e. Varna, can call himself a Hindu”. (Annihilation of caste by Dr B.R. Ambedkar)

For Ambedkar such orthodox views by a leader who considered him not only awaking the political people of India but soul of India, came as a shock. His famous remark followed this: “ Though I am born as a Hindu, I shall not die as a Hindu’. Ambedkar therefore considered emancipation of Dalits as more important to freedom of India, which he felt was a mere transfer of power to the upper caste Hindus which could be detrimental to the interest of Dalits in India.
‘If there is any cause of freedom in this Indian turmoil for independence, it is the cause of the untouchables. The cause of Hindus and the cause of Musalman is not the cause of freedom. Theirs is a struggle for power as distinguished from freedom. Consequently, it has always been a matter of surprise to me, that no party, no organisation devoted to the freedom has so far interested itself in the untouchables.’
(From Emancipation of Dalits by Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar).

When Ambedkar pressed for the separate electorate demand for Dalits, Gandhi opposed it tooth and nail. It was the same Gandhi who had nothing against Muslim demand for a separate electorate. When the Poona pact was awarded in 1932, Gandhi could not tolerate his defeat at the hands of an articulate Dalit leader. As soon as he came back to India, Gandhi decided to fast unto death against such an award that would have brought a lot of changes in the quality of Dalit leadership in India. For Dalits would not have depended on the upper caste Hindus to get elected. Ambedkar succumbed to the blackmailing tactics of Gandhi and commented ‘ Mahatmas have come, Mahatmas have gone but the lot of Dalits remain the same’. Ambedkar feared that death of Gandhi would spark backlash against Dalits in the villages where the upper caste tyranny was still prevalent. He entered into a deal with Gandhi and signed Poona Pact, which allowed reservation of seats for Dalits in Parliament and state assemblies. Gandhi saved his upper caste interest and made Dalit leadership dependent on upper castes votes. Ambedkar himself became a victim of this and could not win Lok Sabha election from the state of Maharastra as all the upper castes joined hand against him.

Gandhi and Fascism

Often in the struggle against Fascism, many people often quote Gandhi. One does not know whether Gandhi could be a really useful to struggle against dictatorship and fascism. His Ramrajya was the concept of a brahmanical order based on patriarchical values of his time. His regimentation of volunteers wearing Khadi was no lesser than the arms wielding soldiers of the Hitler’s army who developed a superiority complex about German race. Moreover, Gandhi enjoyed being a ‘ Messiah’, a spiritual leader of the masses more than a political leader. In fact, he used both these identities to strengthen his base.

Indian Fascism will be cultural, it will be cultural reaction. Therefore violence may not be such a very outstanding feature of Indian fascism. It has been said that Fascism is violence, violent suppression of minorities, of freedom. It is not just that. In India Fascism may be non-violent........Congress party has secured the advantage from the backwardness of the masses. The cultural backwardness makes the Indian masses superstitious, religiously inclined and given to blind faith. The Congress with its Mahatma has made political capital out of that factor to secure the support of the masses... by exploiting its Mahatma cult; the congress has won the support of the masses...

The highest ambition of any German is to put on a uniform. When Hitler put all of them in uniforms, they believed they were all superman, and followed by him. Similarly in our country also, the people are being put in a uniform: Khaddar is a political uniform, and they also think that by donning the Mahatmic uniform, and a particular kind of headgear, they become superman. The Indian people can be more easily regimented spiritually, because thanks to our cultural tradition they are predisposed that way. “ Ramdhun” will cast the hypnotic spell. Blind faith is the characteristic of religious mentality. The Mahatma and his army of propagandists will fully exploit that asset, and persuade the gullible people that every act of the national government is for their good, they must only be submissive and obey.”

The tradition is the foundation of Fascism. It is neither any symbiosis nor anybody’s cartel. In Germany it might have been the cartels, in Italy something else, but the foundation of Indian Fascism is God, the belief in God: that everything is created by God and the only thing we can do is to sing Ramdhun, spin and wear Khaddar. The Indian Masses are going to be regimented in this uniform of Khaddar. The proletariat may not wear the physical uniform but will be readily regimented spiritually. Don’t ignore the fact that Holi is a greater holiday for the God of Indian Marxists than the First of May or Ninth of November. If Hitler could hypnotise the German proletariat, how much more easily will the still feudal-minded Indian “ proletariat” be swayed by the Mahatma of Indian Fascism. (Fascism : By M.N.Roy)
It is equally important to notice that Gandhi willingly met Mussolini in Itlay against the advice of his one time friend Romeo Rolland. Ironically, Gandhi came out satisfied about Mussolini’s concern for the ‘poor’ and ‘labour’. All his life while Gandhi may claim to work for the poor, he was in fact happily saving the interest of the business class in India. He might not wear anything on his chest yet his food remained the most expensive one unlike the poor people who do not get to eat to survive.

Gandhi and democracy were different things. He worked more on overdose of ‘spirituality’ and moral sermons. Even Marxists have become Gandhian historian and are apologetic about the role of communist parties in 1942. Many Indians including M.N.Roy had supported British war efforts to defeat fascist forces during the World War II. One had to chose between the Fascist Imperialism or British Imperialism. A man like Aurobindo chose the latter but Gandhi did opt for the first.

The Truth of 1942

On March 31st, 1942, Maharshi Aurobindo wrote a letter to Sir Stafford Crops supporting the stand of the British government and said, ‘ As one who has been a nationalist leader and worker for India’s independence, though now my activity is no longer in the political but in spiritual field, I wish to express my appreciation of all you have done to bring about this offer. I welcome it as an opportunity given to India to determine for herself, and organize in all liberty of choice, her freedom and unity and take an effective place among the world’s free nations. I hope it will be accepted and right use made of it , putting aside all discords and divisions… I offer my public adhesion, in case be of any help in your work.’ ( Collected work of Aurobindo Ghosh: 1942 page 229). Gandhi did not even acknowledge this. Apart from Aurobindo, M.N.Roy and other dissenters including veteran Congressman Achyut Patwardhan also considered 1942’s quit India call made by Gandhi an uncalled for and unnecessary exercise. Actually, once Gandhi made up his mind, it would have been difficult for any one to bring him to negotiating table and discuss some thing different.

In the Congress Party, Gandhi always wanted his puppets, who could prostrate in front of
him for his ‘great’ moral values. He hardly appreciated any independent vision for the party. When Subhash Chandra Bose defeated Congress’s official candidate for the post of President, it was difficult for Gandhi to admit that he has lost one most important election with in the party. He felt it that Sitarammaiyas defeat was his own defeat. He forced a dynamic leader like Subhash Chandra Bose out of the Congress. Unfortunately, such outrageous events do not attract critical comments from historians. I would give only one instance of how even recognized scholars refused to analyse Gandhi critically. Prof Sudipto Kaviraj, known to be an authority on Modern Indian political thoughts wrote in one place that M.N. Roy’s predictions that Gandhi has started losing his supremacy in Congress was wrong. But he conveniently failed to mention that it was not before Roy wrote it that When Subhash Chandra Bose defeated Pattabhi( read Gandhi) in a democratic elections for the post of Congress President. ( Gandhi’s tormented soul could not wait to cry out Pattabhi’s defeat is my defeat).

M.N.Roy was critical of it and called it immoral as well as undemocratic. Once Roy asked Gandhi to send him message for his newly starting magazine. Gandhi send a postcard saying ‘ render mute service to the cause of freedom’. Clear enough, he did not want Roy to criticise the Congress Party. Gandhi can be characterised as following the immoral and undemocratic practice of politics and utter lack of statesmanship. Every right thinking person in India noticed that Gandhi compelled Ambedkar to sign the Poona Pact in 1935. It was a clearly blackmailing tactics of Gandhi. Despite this, Gandhi always considered himself leader of all communities of India. He talked of compassion and focused on Hindu-Muslim unity. What kind of compassion does Gandhi refer to? It is not generally known that Gandhi’s religion did not permit him to eat cooked food in any Muslim’s house as noticed by Prof Mushir-ul Hasan in the political biography of Dr Ansari. The fact of the matter was that Gandhi was mainly serving the interest of upper caste Hindus. His failure to recognize Ambedkar as leader of Dalits or Jinnah as leader of Muslim led to Muslim and Dalit resentment against Congress Party. In fact, Gandhi was a maverick politician when needed to cut to size people like Jinnah. Whenever there was a choice of leadership, Gandhi ultimately opted for the upper caste devotee.

The 1988 edition of “ India wins Freedom”, Azad wrote: “A similar development took place in Bihar. Dr. Syed Mahmud was the top leader of the province when the elections were held. He was also a General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee and as such he had a position both inside and outside the Province. When the Congress secured an absolute majority, it was taken for granted that Dr. Syed Mahmud would be elected the leader and become the first Chief Minister of Bihar under Provincial Autonomy. Instead, Shri Krishna Sinha and Anugraha Narayan Sinha who were members of the Central Assembly were called back to Bihar and groomed for the Chief Ministership. Dr. Rajendra Prasad played the same role in Bihar as Sardar patel did in Bombay. The only difference between Bihar and Bombay was that when Sri Krishna Sinha formed the Government Dr. Syed Mahmud was given a place in the Cabinet.”
Before referring to the grim conclusion which Azad draws from the Nariman and the
Syed Mahmud episodes, there is one new passage in the 1988 edition which, in my
view, gets linked to Azad’s conclusion. Azad expressed the view that Dr. Rajendra
Prasad had no political life before Gandhi appeared on scene, and R. Rajendra Prasad
was “entirely the creation of Gandhiji” Azad added: “I have heard from a reliable source
that Dr.Sachchidananda Sinha arranged a dinner where many of the more prominent
Hindus were invited to meet Gandhiji. They told Gandhiji that the Hindus of Bihar
would join the Non‑cooperation movement provided Gandhiji elected a Hindu as the
leader. Gandhiji said that he could not grant leadership to anybody at his own sweet will,
but he promised that if a Hindu of caliber and character came forward, he would offer
him necessary support. Babu Rajendra Prasad’s name was then suggested to Gandhiji
and in the course of a few years, he became an all India figure with Gandhiji’s help and
Support “. (Partition of India: Legend and Reality by H.M.Seervai)

I give another instance of how Gandhi comfortably ignored the antidemocratic practices in the Congress Party. 1938 Dr Rajendra Prasad wrote a letter to Sardar Patel who was Chairman, Congress Parliamentary Party. Wrote Rajendra Prasad, “ In provinces where we are in minority one would naturally expect the Congress Party to act as opposition. The attempt of our party in most provinces has constantly been to win over members of the other parties to secure a majority. We have been more anxious to become Ministers than to get our programme adopted.’ Sardar Patel responded this by saying ‘ it does not matter. In parliamentary democracy such things happen.’ Gandhi did not issue any statement on it despite the fact that he was aware of it.


As I mentioned earlier it is nobody’s contention to say that Gandhi did nothing for India. He remained one of the most outstanding political leaders of our time, though one may not agree with his ‘morality’ and ‘spirituality’ which he often used to compel other people comes to him. One would appreciate that the Gandhians and particularly Gandhian historian do not make him ‘superman’ and give the space to other political leaders also.
India is a much-polarized society today. Gandhian did not give any credit to other leaders therefore forcing their followers to write their own history. Even learning about the lives of our leaders became polarized. Therefore for Pakistanis Congress and Gandhi became the agents of Hindus who wanted to subjugate Muslims while for the followers of Ambedkar, Gandhi was crooked upper caste who did not want to give Dalit their due and legitimate rights. History is not about personalities but more about events. Gandhi, Ambedkar, Bhagat Singh, Jinnah, Nehru, Subhash, are milestones of India’s Independence movement. One will have to talk about their relationship to each other and their lives. Ultimately, all of them had a mission that apart from freedom of India, they wanted Indian people irrespective of their caste and religion to remain one. Today, when we suffer from caste and communal polarization, it is important that we learnt lesson from the history. The mistakes that our forefathers made should serve notice to us to correct them in the form of presenting before our children the history in totality. For children of third or fourth generations Indian or Pakistanis, Dalits or non Dalits, Hindus or Muslims, there is a need to retrospect the events, analyse them unbiased and according to the events happened during that period. An unbiased history analysis would serve better in creating a congenial atmosphere and true peace between India and Pakistan as well as strengthen relationship between Dalits and non Dalits. Since our history books have an overdose of Gandhi, it is therefore natural for us to question their motives and relationship with other leaders of freedom movement. History cannot be a tool to settle political scores and gain monetarily by coming near to those in power. It has to be freed completely from those who are in power. It is equally important that Gandhi is judged as political leaders without making him a ‘super human’ or Godly figure who could do no wrong and every one is judged by his relationship with Gandhi. The blunders that Gandhian and his follower historians have done to India need to undone. As a fourth Generation Indian, I have a duty to question Gandhi’s action, his so-called spirituality and morality, which never remain in political life afterwards. We cannot read history what is being produced to us. It is important that we look underneath and analyse it. Gandhi and Gandhian therefore have done a great damage to independent history writings in India because they did not analyse events but focused it entirely on one individual and made complete villain of others who disagreed with him. Such writings only polarized society much and forced the others to look for their own leaders.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Solidarity from Friends of OBCs

Dear Friends,

we received a lot of emails from many of you responding to our first letter. Some are simply hate mails which we would not like to respond and some very genuine concerns from upper caste people. Most of the mails centered around the fact that the feelings, reasons and perspectives of SC/STs on this whole reservation issue are being negated and not understood by upper caste. In connection to this feedback, we requested some of our Dalit and Tribal friends to work on a small note to state what they feel about the way the anti reservation upper caste protest has shaped up and what they feel about the very sad overt hatred that is being spewed everywhere against them. Below is their short response:

Power has changed hands. The rules of the game is being redefined, not by higher caste but by groups other than them. Sixty years of democracy has restructured the system to such an extent that a new India is emerging. Two thousand five hundred years of rigid structures favoring the higher caste are being confronted and challenged. If you wonder why there is minimal to no public show of strength by oppressed caste groups, the reason is because they hold the key to all corridors of power and are the force behind makers of all rules and regulations in this nation. The politics is as simple as this- for every single oppressor in this country, there are ten oppressed waiting to reduce them to size. For every single anti-reservationist, there are ten silent pro-reservationists waiting silently to cast their very powerful vote for members of their caste group. Please do not blame them for this behavior. They were taught by the upper caste to behave in such a manner.

Till the British came to India, the higher caste groups were supreme. They held all the positions of power. They defined everyone's behavior and, worst, they decided how much and who should have access to the abundant available resources. During the period of British rule over many states, the higher caste groups were given 'reservations' (which they wish to deprive others now) but still rule the roost over the vast majority of communities within these states. After the British left, the upper caste raised their heads again and claimed their rightful authority to rule. They forcibly brought these small independent states into a nation. But, since fifty nine years, with the acceptance of a democratic system of governance, they are slowly but surely fading into the background. Democracy has done a lot of good to this country and the biggest impact has been the decentralization of power and the strengthening of the voices of the oppressed build on the basic premise of equity and social justice.

The second best thing that happened to this 'nation of states' is the "Reservation Policy". The stagnant wheel which had the upper caste on top, claiming hereditary privileges and condemning the lower caste to eat and get soaked in the mud, (which came into contact with the earth), is now moving again. This push to make the wheel move was achieved through the enactment of the "Reservation Policy". Tying the oppressed groups into one category, giving them access to resources and opening up doors of opportunities has instilled in them a sense of pride, hope and self-belief that they are equally capable and could reach places where they could never even dream off. It is a historical fact that the Dalits were never even allowed to dream beyond their caste occupations. Now that the wheel is turning and starting to move, it is natural to expect that those who have enjoyed hereditary privileges would shout, protest and make a hue and cry about the process. Further, thousand of years of stranglehold over every other community have rusted the wheels, and making a rusted wheel move is painful and energy consuming. It is a fact that any restructuring is a painful process because one has to change oneself and adapt to new circumstances. The upper caste would now have to let go of privileges they once thought was their birthright. They would have to share opportunities with the people they consider inferior and non-meritorious. Whether they like it or not, this is the new reality.

The forms of protest by upper caste groups are showing signs of a sense of helplessness. They are becoming more radical with every passing day. These extremist tendencies have ranged from hunger strikes to self-immolation. These are acts of desperation. A desperation fueled by a sensed of being totally cornered and negated. But all these acts are quite normal and natural. They happen at every stage in a society's life, whenever oppressors are being confronted, challenged and overthrown.

Minute observations of these protests reveals aplenty. While not negating the fact that they have every right to do so, what is most pathetic, which we call the 'pits of inhuman behavior' is their true feelings revealed in the forms of hate mails in the internet. Such is their hatred for the poor and the underprivileged, that their writings have touched levels of obscenity and reveals a subtle form of mental imbalance. This is observed across every single mail written by them and their prime targets are SC/STs. We ask why? You are fighting against OBC reservation, yet your focus is our community. Whether it is a joke, a note, an article or even simple mails. You breathed hatred, you spit insults and you puke arrogance against our people. Why target us?

In the forefront of upper caste protest are the 'White Coat Enemies of Equality', a more appropriate name for the anti-reservation protesting doctors. Theoretically they should re-examine their understanding of equality. They have ironically called themselves the 'Youth for Equality'. It is a paradox that the very people, who oppress others and garner all the resources and opportunities for centuries to this very day, should call themselves by such a name. An in-depth scrutiny of their ideological positioning would reveal that they are actually the 'Youth Against Equality'. Probably good sense will prevail over them some day. If only these 'Youth for Inequality' could use their stethoscope to examine the feelings of the poor (and not their physical heartbeats alone), they would become much more in-tune with the real India.

The upper caste owned media deserves a clapped. What can one do? The best way to handle them is to smile and pray that someday truth shall prevail and their biases shall help them discover their own selves better. One can't even dream that they would (or could) be even a little sensitive, humane or at least rational. Forget about them being pro-poor, they have, (even before studying the historical issue in-depth), fueled the hatred and divide to new heights. But then one cannot expect them to even take a balanced position. It would tantamount to a farmer in Russia asking the Czar to print pro working-class arguments.

The media has twisted every pro-reservation argument and portrayed the same in bad light. For instance, they have paraded Dalits and OBCs publicly, prodding them to talk against reservation. The space given to 25 SC and OBC IIT students in a national newspaper identifying reservations as demeaning to them, was a case in point. The very reason which has shown that the reservation policy is making the right impact, is being used by the upper caste owned media to argue against reservation.

While reservations for SC/ST are a "right" of the community and not a dole by the upper caste, they are simply not willing to accept that we are a country of established disparities and injustice. The indirect objectives of reservations is to produce (those from the historically deprived sections) people who are strong on self esteem and self respect, rooted and able to contribute back to their community and be at par with privileged children in every sphere. This was to be achieved by opening up existing opportunities which have been guarded and cornered by upper caste (with walls of religious steel) for centuries.

The SC/STs themselves have started awareness programs to conscientized their own people not to misuse the reservation policy. It is one opportunity we have as a community to afford and live a dignified life like everyone else. We are aware that reservations were given to communities and not individuals. We feel we are duty bound morally to create space for those still left behind. It is a fact that some of our community members forget this. But we are working on it. Unfortunately this, on the other hand, is being used by upper caste groups as a reason to do away with reservations. They are not even willing to concede that the SC/STs alone have humongous and historic reasons for redressal suffered over centuries of structural deprivation by upper caste.

We have always known it, but Yes, it is painful to know that the upper caste have so much hatred against us. Yes it is heartbreaking to be aware of the animosity you carry deep within against our SC/ST community. But may we 'point blank' tell you that we shall not live by your diktats anymore and more important, your centuries old ploy to make us feel "in the wrong" about everything that we are has ended. Remember, (please remember), you cannot make us feel guilty anymore about who we are, what we think and how we should live our lives.
We wish you peace, and hope that someday we shall all stand together as brothers and sisters.

Dalits and Tribals
Friends of OBCs

Demystifying Merit

Social Justice vs. Excellence

YP Chhibbar

Scenario one:
Long years back when I had not yet retired and was teaching Economics in a college of Delhi University some of us started feeling that increasing member of students were now coming to the Economics Honours course who were not fluent in English, and the medium of teaching and writing the examination in Economics Honours was English. Some of us, who could discuss the topics prescribed, or the prescribed reference books (mostly by foreign authors), in Hindi, had experienced that students could grasp the points easily. But still, they had to write the exam in English. Some of us from a few colleges discussed the matter (Ruddar Datt, MM Suri, Jangir, Khatri, and others besides myself) made a representation to the Head of the Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics. Meetings of the teachers of Economics of Delhi University were held. Many more teachers agreed with us in these meetings. The problems of reading material in Hindi, teaching in Hindi, writing the examination in Hindi - many things were discussed, at times heatedly.

The professors and other colleagues at the Delhi School of Economics were generally opposed to the proposal. Their argument was that if Economics was taught through the medium of Hindi, the standard of Economics will go down! The Delhi school of Economics which, was the centre of excellence and was known through out the world, would suffer a set back. Our argument that if what is taught in the classroom is not grasped by the students and the students do not get in to the “Why” and “How” of the topics, ‘teaching is a wastage’ cut no ice with anyone. It appeared that making the student understand what was being taught was not the issue. The issue appeared to be the ‘centre of excellence’. Sometimes the discussion would get into the utility and futility of the English language/Hindi language as language of learning.

One professor, no less eminent than the others, stood up one day and said that he had to confess that when he used to teach Economics through the medium of Bengali at Shanti Niketan, he could see that students could grasp easily and in a better way. But here at Delhi school of Economics, all the non Hindi speaking faculty was afraid that from Economics Honours and optional status, the Hindi medium, if permitted, would graduate to the post graduate level and would become in due course, the only medium. So, he said, “for us” it was a question of bread and butter. That outspoken professor was Amartya Sen.
Ultimately, some colleges were permitted to open Hindi medium sections also. But after a few years this practice died because no reading material was made available in Hindi (a writ-petition of the PUCL on this problem is being heard by the Delhi High Court these days). It was clear that the English knowing faculty was against the Hindi medium which could benefit a growing number of students and the opposition to the adoption of Hindi as an optional medium was being given the high sounding coating of ‘excellence’ and ‘standards’.

Scenario two:
An interesting situation had once developed in the United States of America. When I was in this State in early 70s, I was told that the IQ test was a popular device which people were subjected to at the time of admissions or qualifying for tests, etc. It was noted by some people year after year that the Blacks, the Latinos, other minorities, and foreigners generally fared badly in these tests. I was told that some intellectual thinkers and academics belonging to these deprived sections evolved an alternative IQ test. On an experimental basis, parallel groups of students belonging to the traditionally higher IQ groups and the lower ones, were asked to take the test. The result was devastating. The tables were turned. The students belonging to the deprived sections scored very high and the other group fared poorly. What was done was that the IQ test that was evolved by these peoples used the vocabulary, the material with which these sections were familiar. The tests, however, was as strictly tuned to measure intelligence as the other IQ tests. The point was made that the traditional IQ test were being used to exclude certain groups from sharing the pie. Somewhere there seemed to be a ‘rationing’ angle in this.

The above two episodes, the episode of the teaching medium of Economics in Delhi University and that of the IQ test in America show that the ‘haves’ do not like to share the pie with the ‘have-nots‘. They do not like to widen the arena of competition. The ‘creamy layer’ of the ‘haves‘ keeps pushing down all those who are below them and are trying to climb up the ladder of success and achievement. There is a need of a social policy resembling the ‘Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Policies law’ to break the stranglehold of the upper castes, creamy layers of society, and aristocracy of academic world, on the fruits of development. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development has said in its report tabled in the Parliament in the last week of May 2006 that higher education is a pro-rich and urban phenomenon and the share of the SC/ST in it is “abysmally law” compared to their percentage in population (The Hindu, May 28, 2006, p.8). Enrolment of SCs in higher education ranged from 8.6 percent in 1990-91 to 11.3 percent in 2002-3, while that of STs was from 2.1 percent to 3.6 percent.

One is reminded of the days when there was an agitation against the use of English language. Whenever such a controversy develops, ‘India’ unites against ‘Bharat’. The intellectually appealing slogans and arguments that are used and developed always speak about ‘excellence’, ‘standards’, ‘international access’, and all that. The crux of the matter is that ‘monopoly groups’ do not like to give up their secured and reserved privileges.

The widespread support that the agitating “Youth for Equality “have been getting from the trade and business community indicates joint action. It was reported in The Indian Express of May 26 that “huge cartons of water bottles, biscuits, and shirts” and donations between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh daily were pouring in. The Indian Medical Association alone collected Rs 72 thousands on one day. An export house provided 800 litres of water. Apparently, there is more to the agitation then meets the eye.

According to one well known commentator on media matters (The Hindu, May 26, 2006) “The current coverage of reservation debate in the television news would be a media teacher’s delight: it is rich in instances how the media shapes debate.” She goes on to quote the news titles of these channels depicting anger, loss of excellence and merit, and words giving it an All India character. One channel contrasted the lathi charge in Mumbai to Jallianwala Bagh.

One former IITian who is at present at Stanford University, USA, has written (Dethrone Royalty in Academia – Anand Sudarshan, The Indian Express, May 15, 2006) that students admitted to the IIT from outside India do as badly in the internal examinations as the students from backward class in India. SC/ST student, US and French exchange students, Indian expatriates of different castes all are in the poor performance Anand Sudarshan opines that this is “not because they have no ability, but because strong cultural and social differences” divide society. This argument indicates to the IQ test story related above.

The Prime Minister has adopted a flexible attitude as far as negotiations go and has offered a scheme of graduated implementations, simultaneously with an increased intake across the board. No major political party is openly opposing the new dose of reservations. Tamil Nadu is showing the benefits to the ‘reserved sections’.

By the time this appears in print some solutions would have been agreed upon but this debate has made it clear that the deprived sections of society have a tough fighting future ahead. We must not confuse the issue of social backwardness and denigration by introducing merit, excellence, or economic disadvantage. In an underdeveloped country economic disadvantage is universal, differences are a matter of degree not of kind. The argument here is that higher learning will dilute the stigma of birth.