WHY INDIA NEEDS RESERVATION IN PROMOTION

Misinterpretation by Judiciary and conscious silence of ‘Civil Society’

Equality is inherent pre-requisite for any civilization or nation to be humane, progressive or even stable. We in India have been lucky and unlucky to witness both aspects of society from ancient times. The advent of varn vyvastha or caste system have been one of the most inhuman, long and surprisingly supported by many sections of Indian society throughout centuries especially the medieval ages. Today after the establishment of Republic of India, the Constitutionalism and Rule of Law is the way through which all the outstanding disputes between society, state and power centers are to be resolved. Not only it is frustrating and painful, it is quiet slow because of all sorts of Machiavellian tricks, hurdles and connivance of various dominating sections in politics, academia, judiciary and all other economic, political and social power wielding procedures and centers. In order to tackle this in a democratic way, our founding fathers founded one of the most unique and complex constitution in order to establish Rule of Law in this nation which is not only capable of propelling the society forward in its evolution but also it does have the potential to transform and heal old historical and social wounds that various sections of societies have inflicted against each other.

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Supreme Court of India

          Strengthening Rule of Law through Constitutionalism is order of the day. This is fundamentally essential in order to not only address social and other evils in India but also in order to uproot them completely. This struggle towards social justice through constitutional means in politics, in society, in academia and all other aspects is AMBEDKARISM in practice and we while identifying serious hurdles in the path of social justice and empowerment of oppressed believe that the path shown by founding fathers of this nation i.e. Dr. Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi etc along with other practitioners of politics and law like Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther and Nelson Mandela is the best path to follow.

dr-ambedkar

Infact we, as ESYA, do have wide political and practical experience of the methods employed by other radical ideologies which are usually based on either some creed, race, religion or perhaps some political ideology (Stalinism/Maoism) which do prefer or perpetrate violence as the only tool against injustice. On the other hand not refuting completely the role of armed struggles in history we must understand that neither we are living in history nor this is some African dictatorship or Middle east theocratic State, we are Secular, Democratic, Socialist Republic of India and being that our responsibility to make it a successful democracy based on justice social and economic becomes much more important. The constitutional legal frameworks prepared by Dr. BR. Ambedkar, especially his vehement emphasis on the rights of oppressed and social justice has given Indian constitution a position much above esoterically and even in matters of constitutional jurisprudence much above the constitutions of Western Democracies whereby, their still awkward and backward attitude towards their own oppressed especially, the tribal people, the blacks, aboriginals etc. is quiet conspicuous. But on the other hand we would like to argue the superior potential of Indian constitution is expressed through its application in Article 16 and all the matters relating to reservation. Where, the spirit and intention of this particular article is derived from Ambedkar’s own philosophy that power sharing among all the sections of society is necessary in order to uplift the oppressed. Hence, the struggle and evolution of Article 16 commences in Indian political and legal scene, causing many dominating sections to often react violently and using all their tricks in order to do away with this provision. But various judgments of Supreme Court of India have infact strengthened this provision and also have highlighted the need of this provision to remain for long time and also to extend in certain more sectors.

Therefore, accepting Constitutionalism as basic tool and procedure of struggle we would like to discuss in details and point out the facts that have recently surfaced regarding the relevance, importance and extension of reservation especially reservation in promotion in government services. Even though it is clear that power sharing in all the power centers is essential in uplifting the oppressed, especially dalits of India, still somehow in academic circles and even among judiciary there is confusion and an uneasy reluctance to apply this principle fearlessly. We shall discuss the evolution of the concept of reservation in promotion and recent debates around it while supporting all the efforts, be it judicial or political in order to manifest the law regarding reservation in promotion and passage of 117th Amendment Bill.

On the last day of Indian parliament’s winter session in the year of 2012 due to ruckus created by member parliaments of BJP there was no meaningful discussion or debate on the issue of Reservation in Promotion which was introduced as 117th Amendment Bill. It is true that inadequacy of representation in higher echelons of administration has been quiet a fact yet no action has been taken. As per Article 16(4) of Constitution, reservations in direct recruitment and in promotions were admissible to SCs/STs in Centre/State government services in promotion to their population till 15/11/1992. On 16/11/1992 in the celebrated case of Indra Sawhney, a 9 judges bench of Hon’ble Supreme Court decided that Article 16(4) of Constitution did not provide for reservation in promotions to SCs/STs but ordered that since reservation in promotion were admissible to SCs/STs through various executive orders since 1954 , the same be continued for another period of 5 years only. This buffer period was provided to the executive to enable them to take appropriate measures to implement the Indra Sawhney order. In order to remove this anomaly, the parliament, through 77th amendment of the constitution, added a new clause 4(A) in Article 16 i.e. 16(4-A) and that the promotions must be given to the members of SC/ST from the back date of 17/06/1995.

BUT even after the parliament providing for reservation in promotion through the above mentioned amendment(77th ) with the aim of filling the gap in  the higher grade posts of Government Services because of the INADEQUATE REPRESETATION of SCs/STs; still the implementation of it went through considerable delay when Supreme Court itself introduced ‘CATCH UP PRINCIPLE’ and unfortunately gave its own definition of promotion by removing consequential seniority from it which prima facie goes against the principles of service jurisprudence and most importantly it devoid the 77th Amendment Bill from intended empowerment and giving administrative power  to historically deprived section i.e. SCs and STs.

  1. CATCH UP PRINCIPLE – On 10/10/1995 in the case of Virpal Singh Chauhan Supreme Court made a blunder. It introduced something called ‘catch up principle’ which means, that once a SC/ST candidate is given accelerated promotion (R.K. Sabharwal) in any government service he or she will not be able to maintain his/her Seniority on such promotions. That here it is evident that whole idea of giving accelerated promotion or of 77th Amendment is Empowerment of the deprived section through promoting them in higher echelons but what kind of empowerment is done when promotion is given without seniority ? It was gross violation of principle of equality, service jurisprudence and an act inconsistent with spirit of Indian constitution’s basic structure. Similarly same principle was upheld by Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Ajit Janjua that if catch up principle is not applied then principle of equality is violated. Because of this principle hundreds of members of the SC/ST community were not given consequential seniority and were deprived from being adequately represented in higher echelons of administration.
  2. 85th and 117th AMENDMENT:- Hence in order to remove this inconsistency, to dilute and repeal the catch up principle parliament of India again amended the constitution of India where the term consequential seniority was introduced in Article 16(4)A. In the Object and Reasons of the 85th Amendment parliament of India agreed and accepted that “ The judgements of Supreme Court in the case of Union of India Vs Virpal Singh Chauhan and Ajit Singh Janjhua Vs State of Punjab, which lead to the issuance of OM dated 30/01/1997, have adversely affected the interest of Government Servants belonging to Schedule castes and Schedule Tribes category in the matter of seniority on promotion to the next higher grade.” Hence parliament made sure that along with promotions consequential seniority is also given and catch up principle is repealed. The following is the data published by National Commission for Schedule Castes in its Seventh Report showing the percentage of the inadequacy of SCs/STs in Higher Posts of Administration-
Group Total SC Percentage  ST Percentage
A 98066 10998 11.21 3382 3.45
B 144145 17915 12.43 5020 3.48
C 2377895 386142 16.24 154314 6.49
D (excluding Sweepers) 956947 167947 17.55 64865 6.78
Sweepers 132102 79850 60.45 6456 4.89
Total (Excluding Sweepers) 3577053 583002 16.30 227581 6.36

 

 

 

  1. NAGRAJ & OTHERS VS UNION OF INDIA & OTHERS:-

To the much heartburning of right wing minded population in the country the repealing of the catch up principle was a hammer blow of parliament on the supremacy of the privileged on the higher echelons of the administration. Hence they challenged all the related amendments of the constitution. The constitutionality of 77th, 81st,  82nd  and 85th Amendments were challenged in the above mentioned case where the petitioners contended that consequential seniority cannot be given to the members of SCs and STs once the accelerated promotion is granted. Even after upholding the constitutional validity of all the amendments Hon’ble Court was of the point of view –“ Para 123:- However, in this case, as stated above, the main issue concerns the extent of reservation. In this regard the State concerned will have to show in each case the existence of compelling reasons, namely, backwardness, inadequacy of representation and over all administrative efficiency before making provision for reservation. As stated above, the impugned provision is an enabling provision. The state is not bound to make reservation for SCs/STs in matter of promotion however if they wish to exercise their discretion and make such provision, the state has to collect quantifiable date showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of the representation of that class in public employment  in addition to compliance with article 335.

          Hence, the idea of quantifiable data, of every state proving the inadequacy of SCs/STs and backwardness is absurd, weird, bizarre as well as shockingly inconsistent with the spirit of the Amendments -77th, 81st, 82nd and 85th. . In opposition to this whole idea Parliament had introduced 85th Amendment and later on 117th Amendment as well.

  1. There is infact no need to collect data to show the inadequacy of representation of the communities in question especially when it is already established in Indra Sawhney’s case that it is not any empirical data which will show the backwardness but historical and sociological factors which are the reasons of backwardness of SCs/STs. This means that Judiciary must work in harmony with the social reality and political will of the people of India as is mentioned in the Objects and Reasons of the 85th and 117th Amendment Bill. The judgment of M.Nagraj in this respect is in contradiction with three major factors regarding the so called SCs/STs which has to be take into account are – 1. Backwardness 2. Inadequacy of representation 3.Administrative efficiency

Here we shall discuss these factors briefly to establish that no state is required to give some quantifiable data to prove the following –

  1. Backwardness of the SCs/STs for the purposes of reservation in promotion :-

There are large number of judicial findings to show that the backwardness of SCs/STs is not measured in individual cases but as a block or the community as a whole. A constitution bench of Hon’ble Supreme Court in E.V. chinnaiah Vs State of Andhra Pradesh and Others  in para 93 observed :-

 “ Schedule Castes; however is not a caste in terms of its definition as contained in Article 366(24) of the constitution. They are brought within the purview of the said category by reason of their abysmal backwardness. Schedule Castes consists of not only the people who belongs to some backward caste but also race or tribe or part of groups within castes, races or tribes.”

The judgment of Apex Court in M. Nagraj’s case asking for a basis for backwardness does not match with the provisions of Constitutions. As far as SCs and STs are concerned, it is clear that in terms of Article 341 and 342 of the constitution, ‘backwardness’ relates to castes and not persons but in the M. Nagraj case the Supreme Court has tried to define backwardness in relation to person/government servant, whereas in Indira Sawhney’s case the Apex Court in para 779 specifically observed that :-

Lowlier the occupation lowlier the social standing of the class in the graded hierarchy. In rural India occupation and caste nexus is true even today. A few members may have gone to cities and even abroad but when they return they barring a few exception go into the same fold again. It does  not matter if he has earned money. He may not follow a particular occupation but still the label remains. His identity is not changed for the purpose of marriage, death and all other social function. It is his social class that is still relevant.”

Further in para 788 in Indira Sawhney Vs Union of India Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy observed that :-

The Schedule Tribes and Schedule castes are without a doubt backward for the purpose of clause ; no one has suggested that they should satisfy the test of social and educational backwardness.”

          Again in para 796-797 it is observed that :-

It is not correct to say that the backward class contemplated by Article 16(4) is limited to the socially and educationally backward classes refered to in Article 15(4) and Article 340, it is much wider. The test of requirement of social and educational backwardness cannot be applied to SCs/STs, which indubitably falls within the expression ‘backward class citizens’.”

It is also very relevant to take note that Indira Sawheney case was decided by 9 judges Bench whereas M. Nagraj case was decided by 5 Judges bench only and, therefore, the decision in M. Nagraj case cannot supersede the decision taken in Indra Sawhney’s case. The decision was given as it was given in ignorance of earlier decisions taken by the larger bench which dealt with Indira Sawhney’s case. Therefore Indra Sawhney case is valid law of land which does not permit any further justification of backwardness of SCs and STs.

2. Inadequacy of Representation:- The idea of promotion in reservation stems from the idea of empowering a historically trampled community, it is more of an ideological application of the principle “ Unequals cannot be treated equally” an affirmative action in the purview of Article 16(4). And Article 16(4) clearly states that in the services of state, SCs are to be provided an opportunity where they are not adequately represented. Constitution commands the sate to make reservation for SCs. So far as education is concerned, reservation is provided to the members of SC/ST/OBC under the central educational institutions (Reservation in Admissions) Act 2006 laying down 15% reservation for SCs, the same yardstick is applicable for the SCs in services under Article 16(4). Therefore, if the state makes reservation in the services as well as in promotions subsequently upto 15% by specifically mentioning in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of 77th Amendment Act that members of SCs and STs in opinion of the Government are NOT adequately represented it is wrong interpretation of the Hon’ble Supreme Court whereby by giving its erroneous decisions in Ajit Janjhua and M. Nagraj it has not only muddled in the findings of Mandal Commission which was upheld further by Indra Sawhney’s Judgement, it has violated the cardinal principles of constitutional jurisprudence and intention of founding fathers, spirit of Article 16(4) as well as opinion of the State.

Further, it is not out of place to mention here that 15% reservation has been provided for the SCs in the services since the advent of the constitution in 1950 through various executive instructions issued by the Government of India and by the different States, but still the minimum prescribed percentage of reservation even in the direct recruitment has not been achieved. If adequate representation in direct recruitment i.e. 15% have not been achieved after 7 decades of independence then how can there be over representation of SCs and STs if reservation in promotion is even allowed ! There are always back logs and vacancies meant for SCs which remain vacant.

Moreover, above the data has been produced which says and proves the inadequacy of representation of SCs and STs. ( For more study of the detailed empirical data regarding the inadequacy of representation please visit website of National Commission of Schedule Castes). Hence, it is absolutely clear that the representation of SCs and STs in states, central government services, UTs have not even reached the minimum required level. Keeping in the view the inadequacy of the representation in direct recruitment constitutional provision for reservation in promotion is a must.

3. Efficiency in Administration:- While considering the validity of constitutional (77th , 81st, 82nd and 85th ) Amendments, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in M.Nagraj Vs Union of India upheld constitutionality of the provision which was inserted by the aforementioned amendments, but impose certain conditions before the benefit is passed on to eligible members of SCs. It was made mandatory for the state to justify promotion in each case. This is a strange philosophy in which one has to give justification for the exercise of one’s fundamental rights.

V.T. Rajshekhar in his book “Merit my Foot”(A reply to Anti Reservation racists), 1996 published by Dalit Sahitya Academy, Bangalore has stated –“ Nowhere in the world ‘merit and efficiency’ are given so much importance as in India, which is now pushed to the 120th position virtually the last among different countries in the world.”

On the same point and while Ridiculing the right wing slogan of ‘efficiency’ Justice O. Chinnappa Reddy, in K.C. Vasanth Kumar VS State of Karnataka observes :-

Efficiency is very much on the lips of the privileged whenever reservation is mentioned. Efficiency it seems will be impaired if the total reservation exceeds 50%; efficiency, it seems, will suffer if the, ‘carry forward rule’ is adopted; efficiency it seems will be injured if the rule of reservation is extended to promotional posts, From the protests against reservation exceeding 50% or extending to the promotional posts or against the carry forward rule, one would think that civil service is a heavenly paradise into which only archangels, the chosen elite, the very best may enter and may be allowed to go higher up the ladder. But the truth is otherwise. The truth is that the Civil Services is not paradise and the upper echelons belonging to the chosen classes are not necessarily models of efficiency. The underlining assumption that those belonging to the upper casts and classes , who are appointed to the non reserved posts will, because of their pre-assumed merit, ‘naturally’ perform better than those who have been appointed to the reserve posts that the clear stream of efficiency will be polluted by the infiltration of the latter into the sacred precincts is a vicious assumption, typical of superior approach of the elitists classes.”

This ridiculing of that casteist mentality that consciously and unconsciously revolves in the collective consciousness of the people in India is apt and accurate. This phobia that reservation will somehow reduce the efficiency of the administration in itself is deliberately made and built up by certain sections of society for their ulterior motives or because of their undemocratic attitude. Hence further Justice Reddy writes –

“ ..Why not ask ourselves after 35 years of independence the position of SCs, etc has not greatly improved ? Is it not a legitimate question to ask whether things might have been different, had the district Administrators and the State and Central Bureaucrats drawing larger numbers from these classes? Courts are not equipped to answer these questions, but the courts may not interfere with the honest endeavours of the government to find the answer and solution.”

Hence, this is how the argument of M.Nagraj’s self made idea of collecting a ‘quantifiable data’ and Ajit Singh Janjua’s removing of consequential seniority from the concept of promotion in order to deny reservation in promotion fails miserably in view of Hon’ble Supreme Court’s earlier findings again and again. Moreover, how evident it is to observe that this attitude/notion that persons appointed or promoted through reservation will not be efficient, this in itself is a sophisticated form of castesim as well as the main reason and factor of maintaining the backwardness of the concerned communities in question. And in order to fight this notion reservation is given under Article 16(4) !

Need to consider change in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of 117th Amendment Bill :-

          We, in brief have tried to highlight the major aberrations and blunders in various interpretations made by Hon’ble Supreme Court. We are of the humble point of view that the efforts made by Parliament sooner or later are bound to be victorious. Yet, as we have expressed that there is already enough empirical proof regarding the inadequacy of the representation of SCs and STs in the Government services, moreover, conceptually and in accordance with the principles of Indian constitutional jurisprudence the demand of proof regarding the backwardness of already trampled and exploited community for hundreds of years is not justified. Hence, we are of opinion that changes must be made in the third paragraph of the Statement of Objects and Reasons of 117th Amendment Bill which is reproduced here as under:-

It has been observed that there is difficulty in collection of quantifiable date, showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment. Moreover, here is uncertainty on the methodology of this exercise.”

          According to this paragraph mentioned in the bill the reason for not producing the empirical data is been mentioned as some practical problem and infact the real question at hand, the real philosophy and inherent mistake of the idea of proving the backwardness of SCs and STs is no dealt properly. Rather it seems it is been swept under carpet. We, on the other hand would like to deal the bull by its horns and the fact that the whole idea of proving the backwardness of the SC and ST community and proving its inadequacy is wrong interpretation of ‘equality before law’ (Article-14), it is individual specific, this is interpretation more in the light of Lockean individual equality than Indian version of equality which is only to be interpreted under the light of socialist character of our preamble.

Hence, we would propose that instead of shying away from the problem of collecting the quantifiable data it must be mentioned boldly that where class is backward as accepted again and again by Hon’ble Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney, individuals cannot be treated separately from that class in case of SCs and STs.

CONCLUSION:-

          It is quiet conspicuous and clear that struggle against all that is unconstitutional, undemocratic and non-progressive is duty of every enlightened citizen of India. The struggle of founding fathers and framers of Constitution in favour of the oppressed, deprived and destitute is self evident. Hence, it becomes imperative for us as students, as youth and as fellow citizens to sharpen the struggle inside and outside the parliament of India in favour of the passage of 117th Amendment Bill.

          We, Eklavya Sudents and Youth Association have made a humble effort and have tried to form an argument trying to cover the major principles of constitutional jurisprudence, interpretation of  our founding fathers and have tried to highlight the anomalies and aberrations in the judgments of Ajit Janjua, Virpal Singh Chauhan and eventually M. Nagraj which have adversely affected the interest of members of SC and ST communities.

          Therefore, we would like to present a powerful argument before the people of India in order to expose the conscious silence maintained by so called ‘progressive’ academicians, ‘secular’ media houses and especially the so called ‘liberal’ left. The fact that all these hegemonic sections of Indian society having deep roots in legislation, in judiciary and executive, they always brush aside these matters derailing the process of empowerment of the dalits of India affectively. We appeal to all sensitive and real progressive sections of India to favour and support the passage of 117th Amendment Bill while giving deep consideration on the changes in the language of 117th Amendment Bill so that it does not run again into some legal challenge as to its constitutionality, which has been done by various dominating sections from past 25 years. And we as ESYA also appeal to all the political parties of this nation to act unanimously and speedily in order pass this Bill.

-Advocate Sawinder Singh
Chairman ESYA

           

Citation & Credits:-

National Commission of SCs/STs

Indra Sawhney Vs Union of India

M.Nagraj Vs Union of India

117th Amendment Bill

 

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JNU: Ambedkar Vs Left; but opposite in Panjab University, Why?

BAPSA (Birsa-Ambedkar-Phule Student Association) challenging the Left Unity in JNU

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JNU, the land of ideological battles, is well-known place for intellectual potential and dominance of Stalinist left. With the rise of right wing forces after Modi became P.M. in 2014, from Rohith Vemula to Una incident dalits are being attacked ruthlessly. Consequently, dalits who were cunningly communalized by RSS during Lok Sabha election are now coming out of Hindutva fold. After the march of cultural Hindutva of right wing conservative, the left politics which claims to be pro-dalits in its popular rhetoric of Bolshevik revolution, obviously has found some space in political discourse. Though, the JNU’s campus culture and its students’ verdict is not always the real reflection of society but the recent sedition row and overwhelming attempts of Modi government to haunt left hegemony have  pulled the attention of whole nation to link up with JNU. Interestingly, in present scenario, dalits are being lured by all political groups evidently under the banner of ‘annihilation of caste’. Even P.M. Modi warned his party to convince dalits and said that Nationalists are with us, let’s reach out to Dalits, backwards.

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Courtesy  Kractivism

Kractivism -Bridge the Gap Bring the Change

JNU campus has been a hub of Stalinist left and Marxist bastions since its foundation. AISA, a student wing of CPI (ML) Liberation had been winning mandate in student elections for many years. In 2015, Kanhiya, a leader of AISF (the student wing of CPI) fought against AISA and became president of JNUSU. And for now, the JNU bears very different kind of contest where the right wing ABVP has been completely swept away and BAPSA(Birsa-Ambedkar-Phule Student Association) came as strong contender against Left Unity (AISA-SFI). BAPSA, which started just two years ago, chased the Left Unity and lost with a small margin of 409 votes.  Aftermath, the political thinkers are forced to interpret the political contours of newly emerged scenario in JNU. Clearly, the mandate of JNU student election is a synthesis of national political environment and inherent Ambedkar-Marxian contradictions. The nature of right and left politics is complementary, unconstitutional and absolutely hegemonic. Right wing relies on cultural hegemony while spreading false version of history or endorsing hegemonic phase of Manu-Samriti and similarly Left considers its philosophy ultimate champion of all oppressed sections asserting its ‘intellectual’ hegemony while imposing economic interpretation of history.

B.R. Ambedkar, the icon of constitutional democracy, had always motivated downtrodden and socially oppressed people for education, saying knowledge as one of major premises in power sharing. In 1970s, the Naxalite movement under the slogan ‘land to tiller’ and big ill-literacy in dalits (landless) brought them in leftist outfits. Moreover, dalit intellectuals also became dependent on leftist ideology while being far away from Ambedkar’s constitutionalism. Later on, the Bahujanvad of Kanshiram and Janata Politics gave a new independent voice to dalits, minorities and backward classes of India strengthening constitutional democracy. The JNU’s mandate reflects that dalits who are the product Ambedkar’s reservation policy, now following his slogan of  Educate, Agitate, Organize are struggling for independent platform rejecting Left politics, understanding the real difference between the Ambedkarism and Leftism as suggested by Ambedkar :

my party would not align with Communist Party for the plain reason that I do not believe in Communism”.

Instead, the mandate of student election in Panajb University, Chandigarh is surprisingly different. Students preferred ‘non-political’ group PUSU over mainstream parties like NSUI,SOI,ABVP etc. Secondly, the election mandate also brings Marx-Ambedkar ties in question. The extreme left outfit, Students for Society (SFS) got 2494 votes with small margin of 11 votes from second contender SOI and scored third position. Ironically, the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) again lacked in representing dalits independently and overtly supported SFS. When will dalits, OBC and all the anti-casteism students of Panajb University understand that there cannot be ideological unity between Ambedkar and Marx?

                -Eklavya Editorial Committee

 

MARCH OF DEMOCRACY: ANNIHILATION OF MAOISM/NAXALISM (By Amandeep Singh on 22 April, 2015)

[A reply to Maoist/Stalinist leader Chemkuri Azad on his statement “Your Constitution is a piece of paper that does not even have the value of toilet paper for vast majority of India” in a letter to B.G. Verghese ]

maoisn vs democracyINTRODUCTION:–  Fourty Six years ago, on 22nd April 1969, a political party called CPI(ML)  under the leadership of Charu Majumdar was founded after a spontaneous peasant rebellion in village – Naxalbari in West Bengal (1967) with sole aim of overthrowing Indian Democracy and Constitution through means of arms. Today it becomes essential to look back into history and to find how democracy survived and developed after the India’s Independence in 1947. It is also very important to observe where and how Indian political class committed serious mistakes in understanding and not including tribal people into the mainstream economic and social development and hence risked the degradation of constitutional values. The CPI (ML) party was based on an organized armed approach relying upon Charu’s Eight Documents as sacred mission. After a short time, this party got scattered into various groups primarily because of ‘internal contradictions’ and strategic failure of Charu’s “Class Annihilation” (to murder so called landlords/ rich farmers, businessmen, public officials etc.).

In all these years no doubt strict attitude of the Indian State to maintain law and order in the Naxal affected areas compelled many left wing armed groups to review the line of class annihilation. Although this inherent inhuman, anti-democratic and un-Marxist approach of Charu Majumdar (i.e. line of class annihilation) is now diluted to some extent but few dogmatic groups like MCCI, PW etc. carried the same line of violence. In late 1980’s many groups left the violent path to fulfill political agenda of ‘land to tillers’ finding the democratic space in modern democracy. The self-critical attitude of these armed groups made them realize that land reforms can be accomplished through legislative means facilitating the abolishment of the ‘semi-feudal’ relations. However, these groups may give excuse for adopting parliamentarism/electoral politics as part of their ‘revolutionary tactics’ but in fact their so called revolutionary path does nothing but  toes the line of CPI/CPM. Two or three banned groups like Party Unity, MCCI and PW merged to make CPI (Maoist) party in 2005. However, much research and facts have shown that this merger is not ideological but is a union of remaining violent armed groups only to survive in different territories of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.

Today the time has changed, Naxalism/Maosim (or any such 15th century styled violent effort) is dying its own death under the pressure of democracy and people’s need of living in prosperity and waging peace not violence. Rightfully, every citizen must question the social responsibility of State Governments towards affected areas and tribal community. What has Indian state done to our people? What was inhuman Operation Green Hunt or Salwa Judum? Why did state try to acquire lands/minerals for Vedanta, POSCOs, Tatas and Mittals in unconstitutional and illegal manner? Is this a way of inclusive and rational growth?  It is only Supreme Court of India which openly addressed the above questions while condemning the State with harsh manner in Nandini Sunder Vs State of Chhattisgarh judgment that “Predatory forms of capitalism, supported and promoted by the State in direct contravention of constitutional norms and values, often take deep roots around the extractive industries”

Now, Let us examine the problems in tribal areas. What is Maoism?  Why does it exist in India? Why, Adivasis got indulged with Maoism? We will also take ideological and political failures of Maoism into account.

NO POLITICAL REPRESENTATION OF TRIBALS IN DEMOCRATIC GROWTH OF COUNTRY:-

It is estimated that 85 million Indians are officially classified as scheduled tribes. Roughly 70 million tribal people who live in the heart of India reside in remote hilly areas and forest belts across the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar and West Bengal. The state machinery has been unable to prevent the loss of forest lands traditionally belonging to tribal people in the favour of outsiders without properly rehabilitating the so displaced adivasis/tribals or to check the exploitative activities of moneylenders and contractors. Meanwhile, the major power projects and steel plants set in motion by the Five-Year Plans have resulted in a substantial displacement of the tribal people. Already, by the 1960s, reports commissioned by the government of India have demonstrated the utter failure of the state in providing a life of dignity and honour to its tribal citizens. The major problems faced by tribals are still land alienation, restrictions on their use of forest lands in traditional ways and displacement by dams and other large projects.

It is commonly acknowledged that dalits and tribals are the two most disadvantaged sections of Indian society. But why have only dalits created an adequate space in the formal political system and not tribals? This contrast can be explained by aspects of history, geography. The tribals of central India usually live in tribal villages, in hills and valleys and no where they constitute a majority.  The dalits have been represented and inspired historically at national level by Dr. B R Ambedkar – a man of towering intellect who successfully breached the caste mentality. On the contrary and quiet unfortunately, the tribals have never had a leader who could inspire admiration across the boundaries of state and language. Birsa Munda, for example, is revered in parts of Jharkhand; but he is scarcely known or remembered in the adivasi areas of Andhra Pradesh or Maharashtra. The Mahatma’s claim that the Congress represented all of India was strongly challenged by M.A. Jinnah, presuming to speak on behalf of the Muslims, and by B.R. Ambedkar representing the so called lower castes. BUT the Congress has never really understood the distinctive nature of the tribal predicament. Hence, unfortunately tribals faced ignorance and exploitation in independent India.

The colonial period incorporates many tribal revolts like Kol and Bhumj revolts of the early 19th century, the Santhal ‘hool’ of 1855, the Birsa Munda-led ‘ulugulan’ in the 1890s, the uprising in Bastar in 1911, the protests in Gudem-Rampa in the 1920s, and the Warli revolt of 1945-46. Most often, these protests had to do with the alienation of land or the expropriation of forests. They were crushed by British Raj only with the use of force and violence. Indian political class knowingly or unknowingly followed the same violent attitude and often unconstitutional means towards tribals because of ignorance, lack of political will, experience, and sadly many times greed petty leaders and local bureaucracy as well.

MAOISM – A GEO-PARASITE ON POVERTY IN THE DARKNESS OF LAWLESSNESS:- 

Maoism in India is more or less a geo-political phenomenon. Since firstly, Indian State failed to provide adequate and proper political representation to tribals furthermore in the central parts of India where tribal population resides there was real absence of state machinery, administration, infrastructure of education, medical facilties etc. In the remote upland areas, public officials (doctors, teachers, magistrates etc) were unwilling to work and often willing to come back in plains. Hence, there was extreme resentment in the local people because of this blatant ignorance of state and central government who infact were already struggling against land grabs, displacement and no rehabilitation, lack of basic facilities, poverty etc. It was this power vacuum, which was supposed to be filled by the Indian State but unfortunately later on this vacuum was filled ultimately by Maoists who claimed the local people’s support as their ideological victory but infact their movement was only result of mistakes of Indian state and ignorance of local people to understand the real nature of Maoist Politics.

In earlier days Maoists glorified the ‘land to tiller’ as central slogan of their armed movement. After applying this misconception about nature and character of Indian agricultural classes (blended with casteism), they failed to address the very aim of ‘mass line and class line’, ‘masses to masses’ or otherwise NDR (so called ‘New Democratic Revolution’). Indian government delivered land reforms to some extent, though these reforms were not implemented in constitutional spirit but still these land reforms were able to destroy any logical and ideological grounds of left wing extremism. State’s reply, unfavourable people’s attitude, total ideological bankruptcy compelled this armed romanticism to retreat and hide in forests of Andhra Pradesh and other inaccessible parts of central India.. Consequently, Maoists occupied this vacuum in the absence of Law and Order and started to rehearse the tribal slogan of “Jal, Jungle aur Zamin hmara hai” for which Adivasis were already fighting against forest mafia and private contractors. Latter on the MoUs signed with Business Houses/Companies by State Government enhanced the rift between local tribes and state. Arundhati Roy settled this matter with unique critical remarks that the tribal forestlands should be called a “MoUist Corridor” instead of the “Maoist Corridor” as the people of these tribal forest lands have been wrestling with “Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) of the mining companies.

It becomes quite clear from here that ever since the formation of first Maoist armed groups these people have been facing extreme hatred from common masses, ideological bankruptcy while retreating geographically. Now very cunningly in order to hide their ideological and political failures they have changed their political slogan from ‘land to tiller’ to “Jal, Jungle aur Zamin” with their retreat from plains to forests. Hence, Maoism in Indian context is not an ideology but a geo- parasite which survives over poverty in the deep dark forests. It is historical fact that the Adivasis have gained least and lost most from 69 years of political independence. No one can deny the problems of poor or landless people, dalits, tribals and women especially in rural India. But, such mindless extremism is not solution rather a severe problem.

IDEOLOGICAL FAILURES OF MAOISM:-

Maoism as continuation of Stalinism

Russian revolution is an event that can be supposed in continuity of French revolution (Liberty, Fraternity and Equality) whereas Chinese revolution was synthesis of contradiction of ‘Semi-colony’ and ‘Semi-feudal’ overcoming the drawbacks in Stalinist Socialism (which led to extreme power concentration). Mao criticized Stalin’s mechanical attitude of analyzing classes and class struggles in Russia. He rejected Stalin’s notion that classes were abolished (economic equality has reached!) and private property has been snatched. Stalin’s declaration that “Socialism in one country is possible” (where classes were abolished but State got consolidated!) was contrary to Marxist theory of Stateless and classless society. In the name of Dictatorship of Proletariat, Stalinism became totalitarian state which resulted into one of the most horrible and murderous regimes in the whole history of Humanity.

Like, Leninism is defined as era of Imperialism; Stalinism is era of totalitarianism and authoritarianism in practice as outcome of ‘socialism in one country’ and static conception of Institution of State in theory, not followed by withering away of State but destruction of democratic principles of Liberty and Fraternity.  Many dissents within Bolshevik party, among party workers and millions residing in USSR were brutally suppressed. The episode of Kronsdatt (1921) is one of major incident which led to killing of thousands of workers by Stalinist State. Mao’s critique was only about mechanical aspect of Stalin’s approach of Dialectics of base and Superstructure but he could not understand Stalinism (in theory and practice). Mao gave his own solution against problems of Stalinism as so called – Proletariat Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Which aimed to eliminate ‘bourgeoisie class consciousnesses’. But infact this so called cultural revolution aimed at destroying the most basic human instincts of Liberty and Fraternity irrespective of class or creed !

 Look at Maoism what happened to it in China! Why same repressive bureaucracy emerged in Communist Party of China (CPC) as in USSR under Stalin? Why forced collectivization of land and Cultural Revolution failed to impress peasant masses and working class? Who would assure that a Proletarian Dictatorship or a Single party regime will transform itself into a proper democracy? Material conditions? Nature of State or Power? Their concept of abstract philosophical Proletariat? OR Self-proclaimed very conscious Maoist/Stalinist groups? All the above historic ideological discourse is highlighted to people with extremely violent narrative of revolution. We the students and youth of India question Maoist/Stalinist Azad’s followers, what would you say about above issues?

The Maoists in India are even against basic principles of Marxist theory- the Industrial development as precondition and road to Socialism. Why don’t Maoists fight for minimum wages of workers? Why don’t they argue for pro-adavasis and inclusive development of Industry? Why don’t they cooperate with government to bridge cultural gap and represent tribal in mainstream? Why don’t they even stand for construction of Hospitals and Schools for adivasis and poor people? Why are they trying to deprive tribal community to meet their basic rights and needs which Indian State is trying hard to provide? Undoubtedly, the principal aim of the Maoists is not the social or economic advancement of the adivasis, but the capture of power in Delhi through a process of mindless bloodshed. Isn’t it?

Can Maoism/armed bloodshed survive in Indian democracy?-

History has witnessed many examples of armed rebellions lead by common masses against tyranny, against backward and dictatorial regimes. But, No one can find any single account of the armed revolt which has smashed a multiparty parliamentary democracy with universal suffrage (by the people for the people) to establish “single party dictatorship” ! Don’t confuse it with “End of History.” All the tyrannical, monarchal, autocratic, authoritarian and military states may be the center of armed movement where peoples’ voice is suppressed and no rule of law exists. But in Democratic, Republic, State Welfare like India it can’t.

Mao Zedong himself analyzed China as Semi-feudal (pre-democracy) where no proper democratic state was found. Chinese society was composed of provinces (warlords) and even smaller districts under independent military control having large peasant masses bounded over the land. Simultaneously, the whole country was suffering the direct interference of Britain, Japan and Westerner missionaries resulting into huge poverty, vagabondage and backwardness. The destruction of semi-feudalism and warlords required an armed violence in the absence of democracy.

Now again, We the students and youth of India question Maoist/Stalinist Azad’s followers – Is Union of India a group of warlords/provinces?  Is Indian democracy is mere a ‘Game of Votes’? Did India show no growth in 69 years? Does India have any need of ‘Mao’s unification of India’ that already has taken place with more peaceful ways?  Why are you Maoists trying to reverse the wheel of history back?

The shrinkage of Maoists in forest terrain shows their ‘political agenda’ got reduced to guerilla agenda or geo-politics. The power of Representative System over Armed Mobilization has already established its might. The drama of making equalitarian society with lot of bloodshed and failure of Maoism to build up socialism in China ended up while losing the promise of proper democracy .Since there cannot be liberty in any meaningful sense without equality so there also cannot be equality without liberty. Only a constitutional democracy is first premise to have radical democracy through democratic opposition without use of any armed force. And any force like Maoism/Naxalism/Terrorism is bound to die with strengthening of democracy in deep roots of society.

NEED OF POLITICAL WILL TO DESTROY POVERTY & MAOISM :-

Corruption at the delivery level has severely curtailed the impact of all government welfare programmes in affected areas. This needs to be addressed urgently because a nexus has been formed between the corrupt officials and the Maoist/Naxals and the public money meant for development is ultimately going in to the hands of Maoist/Naxals who in the name of underdevelopment are waging a war against the state and common people of India. Transparency is one of more viable weapon than ‘AK 47’ to check corruption and suppress structural violence. All the MoUs with private/public companies must be displayed in public domain. Every citizen must have right to know all business deals/corporate accounts and details, funds of Public as well Private projects. It is not the issue of only tribal people but whole country is demanding the accountability of government towards Corporates. Swaraj as a decentralization of political power and wealth is one such instrument to involve the Adivasis in democracy and to mould their opinions towards rational and inclusive Industrial growth. As per guidance of Nandini Sunder Vs State of Chhattisgarh judgment, State must reduce the dependence on SPO’s (Special Police Officers) and appoint SPO’s who meet specific qualification and training standards. All the security force must act primarily to protect the Social Infrastructure (Hospitals, School and post office etc) and maintain law and order in affected region. It is well known reality that Maoists carry some serious rifles, INSAS, SLR and AK 47s. From where this advanced ammunitions come? A retired CRPF DG Dilip Trivedi questioned the seriousness of State governments “Why is that the explosives have not been stopped from reaching the Naxals? There is free availability of explosives (to Naxals). Why is the state government not doing its job? To reduce the violence and to destroy Maoists with relatively peaceful ways a vigilant check over the supply of weaponry to left Wing extremists is must. The 5th Schedule under Article 244 of the Indian Constitution is an enabling provision which unfortunately remains unfulfilled. Ensuring the implementation of Article 244 will do much to remove tribal grievances and reduce the support base of the Maoists. The Panchayats Act (PESA) is another practical provision which puts the powers of managing the forests in the hands of the Panchayats run by the tribes who reside there. The tribal people have become like sandwich between State police and Maoists. Maoists murder many innocent people by branding them “police informers” whereas police arrest or kill the people in anticipation of being Maoists. Again underlying the recommendation of Supreme Court, state police should not even arrest any person without showing strong evidence or report.

Although, Maoism as an ideology is obsolete but it’s violent tactical remnants surviving in remote forest belt need a more political will to eliminate.  If the Industry/Market can sell something to middle-class which is of no big use for them, then why can’t government or companies realize that hungry and poor people are actually in hunger and poverty? Why doesn’t State provide education to Adivasis on priority basis? It is quite obvious India is lacking political will towards common people and marginalized section which infact now is been properly and ever increasingly addressed by all the agencies of state as well as civil society of the country.

A REPLY TO MAOIST/STALINIST LEADER AZAD’s STATEMENT:-

Chemkuri Azad was a leader and spokesperson of Maoist Party who wrote a reply to Verghese’s article which was published in a national magazine – Outlook.  In this reply letter, Maoist/Stalinist Mr. Azad disgraced Indian Constitution by saying that Indian constitution is even less worthy than a piece of toilet paper for vast majority of people. While making this rubbish statement, he seems to be very insane and prejudice. We condemn his hollow claims and firmly challenge his statement. Mr. Maoist, how dare you disrespect constitutional sanctity and legitimacy in India?  Are your 20,000 armed guerrillas a vast majority of India? How many leaders of minorities you have in your Central Committee (C.C) for whom you advocate?  The leadership of the Maoist movement is largely from the upper castes and classes and to a large extent is Andhra Pradesh centric. ( Katoch, CLAWS Journal, 2012). If you were really pro-oppressed why couldn’t your 40 years movement impress and gain popularity among dalits and other oppressed sections and create dalit leaders in your top leadership? Why don’t you have any Women leadership in your top most committee? Why couldn’t you break the so called patriarchal structure in small local area irrespective of high degree of female guerillas? You are cursing the Indian Constitution and do not look over into your own sins around the globe? Our Constitution has produced many leaders in dalits and women and all oppressed sections of the country who constantly become Member Parliaments, some of them rising upto becoming Chief Ministers and much more.

Why do you seek judicial favours of same Indian Constitution when your Maoists fellows are arrested or charged? Why don’t you condemn this Constitution at that time? Are you not a hypocrite? If Indian Constitution has failed to reach vast majority, why couldn’t your ideology mobilize peasantry and dalits to destroy Dr. Ambedkar’s Constitution? Why have you been hiding in forests and hills for last 40 years? Is Dr. Ambedkar’s democracy too weak to represent downtrodden and destitute of India? Is really parliament a pigsty house? Obviously, it is not.

Even though in the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler the holocaust he unleashed and the wars he provoked cost some 30 million lives. But you feel proud on mass murderers like Stalin and Mao whose ‘revolutionary’ wars and extremism/totalitarianism have claimed even more human lives than fascism and the extremist ideologies of the right? How shameful! Why don’t you feel proud on this world’s largest plural democracy which makes India unique especially in South Asian region? See, what is happening in Middle East where no proper democracy exists? This multiparty democracy may not be the best, certainly is the least harmful political system devised by humans. Humanity will make this democracy more humane and more decentralized over the globe expressing its ever evolutionary essence to combat violence, wars and poverty.

-By Aman Singh, Chairman ESYA
Amandeep Singh, Chairmain ESYA

22 April, 2015

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Swami Vivekananda raised voice for Indian Subaltern (Dalits)

 

-Swami Vivekananda deserving Bharat Ratana for serving subaltern-

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Let men have the light of liberty. That is only condition of growth…  – Swami Vivekananda

Some time society needs more of a spiritual ideals and ideology to evolve and progress besides numerous political struggles and efforts. The birth of Great spiritual leader and philosopher Swami Vivekananda is the manifestation of such need of Indian land when India was suffering from communal forces and casteism along with British regime. In pre-colonial India, on 12 January 1863, this unique Hindu leader was born to weaken and defeat the dark forces. In 1984, Indian Government announced birthday of Swami Vivekananda as National Youth Day to grant him a special tribute. Swami Vivekananda ji embraced many sects, religious schools and world outlooks. He influenced large Indian masses and foreigners with his intellect and became a great social reformer, true nationalist and bold internationalist. Throughout his life, he always insisted on the very inherent spiritual nature of Indian society and gave a message of its inevitability to conquer the world. He also enforced Indian masses to come out of superstitions and understand the deep philosophy of spiritualism and religion. Vivekananda with his vast horizon of mind always established spirituality as tool and love as an instrument of human evolution and social development.

Like English philosopher Johan Locke, Vivekananda considered nature of man as eternal or divine that became departed due to external subjugation, worldly deviations and alienation which he can discover through wisdom, self-knowledge and actions for humanity. After Kabir Sahib, he was one of first person in India who condemned Casteism and Untouchabilty within domains of Hinduism. Vivekananda was passionate philanthropist who strongly advocated the oppressed, lower castes or outcastes and poor people. He remarked many time that

“Love makes no distinction between man and man, between an Aryan and Mlechcha, between Brahmin and a Pariah, nor even between man and woman. Love makes the whole universe as one’s own home.”

He projected Vedas composed of eternal and spiritual contents and Simrits or Purana as temporary texts infused with political motives. Vivekananda announced bravely that

“We must remember that for all periods the Vedas are the final goal and authority, and if the Puranas differ in any respect from the Vedas, that part of the Puranas is to be rejected without mercy…. As time rolls on, more and more of the Smritis will go, sages will come and they will change and direct society into better channels, into duties and into paths according to the necessity of age, and without which it is impossible that society can live.. ”

This was intention that right wing forces could not accept and are always keen to defame image of  S. Vevekanada. He was very against the privileges based on caste hierarchy which becomes clear in subsequent statement that

“The enjoyment of advantages over another is privilege; and throughout ages, the aim of morality has been its destruction. This is the work that tends towards unity, without destroying variety”.

Vivekananda also tagged Shudras or Parihas as proletariats of India and envisaged that Indian socialism can be conceived primarily in terms of their betterment.      

The work of Swami ji for subaltern (oppressed, lower caste and poor people) is unbelievable and recommendable. In fact the spirit of basic idea of education system that was proposed by Swami ji, seems to became a prime objective of Indian constitution and of first education commission – education system should strive to build character by cultivating moral, social and spiritual values…should strengthen national and social integration to create more egalitarian social order. Vivekananda always emphasized on education that

“…taking some university degrees, you consider yourself educated. Is this education? What is the goal of your education? Either Clerkship, or being a lawyer, or at the most a Deputy Magistrate, which is another form of clerkship – isn’t that all? What good will it do to you or to the country at large? Open your eyes and see what a piteous cry for food is rising in the land Bharata, proverbial for its food. Will your education fulfill this want? The education that does not help the common mass of people to equip themselves for the struggle for life, which does not bring out strength of character, a spirit of philanthropy and the courage of a lion – is it worth name?..The end of all education, all training should be man making.”

Vivekananda was first who supported the lower castes, lower class subaltern people in different way by proposing such education system that also seems to be ideological basis for reservation in modern time. Vivekananda elucidated very firmly that

“If the Brahmin has more aptitude for learning on the ground of heredity than the Pariah, spend no more money on the Brahmin’s education; but spend all on the Pariah. Give to the weak, `for there all the gift is needed… If there is inequality in nature, still there must be equal chance for all — or if greater for some and for some less — the weaker should be given more chance than the strong. If the son of a Brahmin needs one teacher, that of a Chandala needs ten…Our poor people, these downtrodden masses of India, therefore, require to hear and to know what they really are…”

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s concept of reservation and education was the legal and political manifestations of this above mentioned truthful thoughts of Vivekananda. Hence Vivekananda’s understating about Indian society seems to be correct and venerable.

On the eve of National Youth Day, it is worth to say that Vivekananda’s approach for education and uplifting status of subaltern is practical. His attacks on orthodox Hinduism enfolding casteism, idea of spiritual society and internationalism seek more interpretations and exposure. Hence it is necessary to defeat extreme wing communal forces who manipulate pious ideas of subaltern sympathizer Swami Vivekananda to perpetuate casteism and irrational condemning of constitutional right of reservation. Also it is duty of students and youth to eliminate extremist left wing forces which try to hijack subaltern ideals like Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to mobilize dalits/lower-castes/tribes for their undemocratic interests and violent means. If Malaviya and Vajpayee ji can be nominated for Bharat Ratnas, why not Vivekananda, Guru Nanak, Kabir ji, Phule were considered for same. ESYA demands that Vivekananda ji should be given honor of Bharat Ratana as were awarded to B.R Ambedkar for serving subaltern and our country. ESYA congratulates every student and citizen on the eve of National Youth Day.

President ESYA (PU unit): Vikramjeet Vick

12 January, 2015

 

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar & Nelson Mandela: The Heroes of Subaltern across the world

“Political tyranny is nothing compared to the social tyranny and a reformer who defies society is a more courageous man than a politician who defies Government” – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

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“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is no tended.” ― Nelson Mandela

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Introduction :-History conceals sacrifices and struggles of many people and personalities but the potential and works of a Great leader are inevitable to manifest their might and glory. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Nelson Mandela were such leaders who fought for justice and dignity of historically oppressed communities particularly blacks and lower castes. As Mandela was popular leader of majority black people of South Africa in post-colonial era, similarly Dr. Ambedkar was deeply dedicated to Indian oppressed classes and castes before and after independence. The sacrifices and patience of these remarkable political leaders can never be forgotten which shaped these personalities to be loved and celebrated. The Apartheid system and Caste system or untouchability both were system of discrimination among human beings. In India, Caste system guards social hierarchy and deny equality and dignity of human being. And Apartheid was ethnical order that perpetuated the racial discrimination in South Africa. The political and ideological discourse of Dr. Ambedkar and Nelson Mandela kindled a new hope for subaltern masses and oppressed communities across the globe.  The subaltern classes are those classes that suffered exploitation and oppression of ruling political classes and experienced general attribute of subordination or ‘of inferior rank’ over thousands of years in all histories. Subaltern classes may include peasants, workers and other groups denied access to ‘hegemonic’ power. Gramsci tried to conceive historiography of the subaltern classes and history of the ruling classes that is realized in the state. The subaltern are not just identified along class line but also based on historical suppression of particular sections along cultural, linguistics, ethnics, racial and caste lines depriving them from political rights and property rights.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (14 April 1891 – 6 December 1956):-  The birth of such thinker with tremendous and broader vision like Dr. Ambedkar is bright destiny of our country and particularly of deprived castes and untouchables. Caste custom in India is ancient practice that became more intensified in medieval period of Indian history. Many social reformers and spiritual leaders like Kabir ji, Ravidas ji, Dadu ji and Nanak ji and Vivekananda ji attempted to uproot this bloody casteism. The Bhakti Lehar or Sant-mat, Sikhism and Buddhism were ideological idioms that attacked on caste-system and upper caste privileges prevailing in Hindu society. The very sacred and pious ancient Textual Hinduism and Vedic culture was manipulated, misinterpreted and vulgarised by ruling classes with shame and impunity in many Smritis particularly in ‘Manu Smriti’ at different historical epochs to perpetuate ‘casteism’ and ‘untouch-ability’ to extract surplus labour of toiling masses and to have psychological control over lower caste . Dr. Ambedkar correctly argued that

Caste system is not merely a division of  labour. It is also a division of laborers.

The ‘Aryan and non- Aryan’, ‘native habitants’ and ‘foreigner’, ‘purity and impurity’, ‘occupations, birth and sense of superiority’, ‘patriarchy and privileges’ were enough notions sanctioned by orthodox Hinduism to divide humanity across social hierarchy. The British Raj in India somewhat distorted caste system but not tried to abolish it rather sometime carried it to serve their own interests. In this scenario, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was born in colonial India and struggled with Imperial force as well domestic ‘upper caste’ mentality or Brahaminism but died in free India unfortunately not in caste free India.

           It is highly unfortunate that the real work and depth of the social and political contributions of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar has gone unnoticed. He is not only colossal figure in 20th century political theater of India but can easily be recognized as a theoretical and intellectual leader of all subaltern classes across the globe. His understanding of a backward society such as of India and application of a advanced concept such as Rule of Law , affirmative action in favour of socially weak sections, formation of an electoral system based on written constitution etc. is work no less than any western celebrated thinker such as John Locke. His political contributions may be silent but their affect in uniting this ancient and divided country through law and peaceful way surpasses the likes of Abraham Lincoln.

           Hence we as students and youth must acknowledge, accept his tremendous effort from the very beginning of his life. At that time in colonial India while belonging to such humble background he was the MOST educated personality in 20th Century India. He understood the political, social, cultural as well as structural anatomy of this country. He was the first Law minister of India and delivered the constitution which is comprehensive as well as flexible in adapting. He was of the view, “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 fellowmen”.

Nelson Mandela (18 july, 1918 – 5 December, 2013):- Nelson Mandela with his visionary and missionary attitude impressed not only blacks but also multiracial culture and communities including white minorities in South Africa. He lived a life of an activist, philanthropist, political leader and a lawyer. It is much painful that on 5 December, 2013 a Great subaltern leader Nelson Mandela left this world for ever. But his brilliant political and social works are milestone for all politicians and philanthropists. The main contribution of Nelson Mandela was that of his struggle for eliminating the racial discrimination and segregation in South Africa. This struggle was intensified and became famous with the name of Sabotage plans (1961-1963). Mandela was not only worried about Blacks but also with human lives. That’s why he was very concerned about Violent and Non-violent modes of struggle against apartheid.

In seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Dutch trading companies started to plunder African colonies and continents. Some Dutch families had been settled in South Africa and traditionally dominated South Africa’s politics. These “minority white people” used to speak local Afrikaans language as first language. Historically, the black people were suppressed by whites and thrown to live in dehumanized conditions in South Africa. Whole of this process made them deprived of all basic political rights of democratic life. This political regime was laced with Apartheid system or government.

Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1944 and established ANC Youth League. In 1952, Mandela and Oliver Tambo established South Africa’s first black law firm when he started to practice law as lawyer. The Treason Trial (1956), Sabotage plans (1961-1963), Rivonia Trial (1963) were the major incidents that proved to be roadmap for 1st Presidency of Blacks in South Africa challenging the hegemony of white supremacy. After general strike for black liberation that was called in May 1960 and failed to mobilize vast masses, Mandela proposed and convinced to ANC for the undertaking of an armed effort against the South African government putting a reason that “The attacks of the wild beast cannot be averted with only bare hands”. Hence a military organ of ANC, Umkhonto weSizwe, or Spear of the Nation” was established to force government to call national constitutional convention for multiracial democracy. This sabotage attacked on many Apartheid government posts, machines and facilities. In 1962, Mandela was arrested by government official on his return to South Africa and accused of leaving country without passport, waging sabotage movement and getting help from foreign nations. Standing in the dock at the Palace of Justice in Pretoria, Mandela announced that

“the ideal of a democratic and free society” is one “for which I am prepared to die.

This was just beginning of rise of multiracial democracy.  The rest 28 year of life imprisonment and trials was the span of political changes and debates for multicultural and multiracial democracy in South Africa forcing government to negotiate and compromise. During this time period the speech of Mandela that

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities”

became conscience of South African people. In February 1990, President F. W. de Klerk announced the release of Nelson Mandela. In April 1994, South Africans of all races went to the polls.  The ANC won and Nelson Mandela became the first black President of South Africa. In 1991, many times the violence of “black -on- black” was perpetuated by state intelligence to damage the reputation of Mandela in which thousands died. Mandela recognized this “third force” and settled this issue through negotiations with black ethnic Inkatha (right wing) leaders and de Klerk (State President) signing peace accord. Mandela was very wise and diplomatic to expose the right wing parties and white supremacist Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging and white minority’s National Party in every tough situation. He was well equipped to tackle communists and left wing extremism and he was successful to project ANC as broadly social democratic in outlook. The Communist leader Joe Slovo recognized that Stalinism had failed in Eastern Europe and could not be regarded as a model for the South African Communist Party. Hence he found a special place as minister in ANC government formation. During militant sabotage campaign some left extremists joined the struggle to gain popularity. But in his autobiography, Nelson Mandela wisely remarked:

“There will always be those who say that the Communists were using us. But who is to say that we were not using them?”

The Subalternity that is supposed to be consequence of exercise of hegemony over subaltern classes can better be observed in history of South Africa. “National Reconciliation” Commission was the policy that had been adopted to ensure racial harmony in which Mandela assured to white population that they would be protected and represented in “Rainbow Nation”  .Nelson Mandela marked and challenged the hegemony of white race to create multiracial democracy and racial harmony.

Mandela is celebrated as Hero of subaltern across the world as equivalent to Dr. B.R.Ambedkar-the first law minister and architect of constitution of India- who fought for Caste-free society.        

What the students and youth of India should derive:-

  • It must be extracted from the life of above people heroes that any struggle for liberation and advancements of society or particular oppressed community can be achieved through the Parliamentary democracy. And parliamentary democracy is the height of political structure in Human society.
  • Like Mandela, “National Reconciliation Commissions” should be appointed in our country to build cultural, religious and social harmony.
  • All armed struggles are bound to end in parliamentary democracy. Nelson Mandela is ultimate example of mobilization of masses while leading them from a bizzare armed struggle into an immediately democratic set up and he represented whole issue through electoral process on similar lines Dr B.R. Ambedkar gave this country a concept of ‘Rule of Law’ annihilating the discrimination of any sort from law hence officially banned discrimination by legislative changes and measurements. Mandela’s as well as Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s life proved that “Ballots are more effective than bullets”. Hence, few irrational, irresponsible, immature people and political forces conspiring against this huge people’s democracy and people’s Constitution must learn from these examples and it is duty of the students to lead these democratic principles in their lives in whatever fields they work.
  • In Indian context, Dr. Ambedkar did more theoretical and political work and presented biggest written constitution in world showing the potential and talent of Great Subaltern leader. And some right and left extreme forces  that deny the democratic constitution, consciously or unconsciously feel challenged their brahamnical ‘intellectual hegemony’ of thousand years. Hence it is necessary to accept the democratic principle that was enshrined in Article 14 and 16 of our Constitution by Dr. Ambedkar.
  • B.R. Ambedkar is symbol of progressive society, one that is always evolving on the base of education , social harmony and cultural absorption. Today it becomes the duty of students to push the collective cultural consciousness of whole country in context of 21st century by shunning all anti-democratic forces, backward traditions. Globalization is one such opportunity to unite the subaltern across the globe and hence it must not be allowed to slip away.

ESYA stands with spirit of social harmony and give an international tribute to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Nelson Mandela on the eve of their death anniversaries.

President: Vikramjeet Vick