Tuesday March 26, 2019
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Quotas: RSS got it right – for once

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The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief, Mohan Bhagwat, deserves a mild round of applause for calling for a relook at the reservations policy.

RSSFollowing his suggestion, at least three Congress leaders have gathered enough courage to say that a review should consider making economic status rather than caste the basis of quotas.

Before last year’s general election, a senior Congress leader, Janardhan Dwivedi, had made a similar statement.

It is unlikely, however, that their bosses in the party, the mother-and-son duo of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, will back them considering that the Congress president had forced a reluctant Manmohan Singh to renew the inclusion of caste data in the census operations of 2011 after a gap of eight decades.

Her objective was no different from that of the Hindi belt leaders who use the bait of providing education and employment in government institutions to specific caste groups to build up their support bases.

It is this unabashed partisan purpose which has seemingly persuaded the RSS chief to seek an assessment of the quota system for those sections which “require reservation and for how long”.

However, the timing of Bhagwat’s suggestion was disadvantageous for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), for it enabled its opponents in the forthcoming Bihar elections to accuse the BJP of an upper caste bias which seeks to block the upward mobility of the lower castes by ending the quota system.

The BJP-led Rajasthan government’s decision to allot quotas to the economically weaker sections of the “forward” castes has also provided grist to the party’s opponents. A similar initiative has also been taken in BJP-ruled Gujarat.

Notwithstanding these steps, the BJP is trying to distance itself from its mentor’s counsel and the RSS, too, is now hemming and hawing about the issue because it has belatedly realised that it had wandered into an area where angels fear to tread.

It will be a mistake, however, to believe that Bhagwat’s observations have anything to do with the visions of Jawaharlal Nehru and other stalwarts of the freedom movement who wanted the caste system to wither away in an independent India with the growth of a meritocracy because of the spread of quality education and the cultivation of a scientific temper.

Instead, the RSS chief’s concerns cannot be unrelated to the angst of the Patel community in Gujarat, which has been disheartened by the lack of education and employment opportunities because of the inroads made into these fields by groups which flaunt their reservation rights even if they may be less qualified than those who are outside the ambit of the quota system.

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Hence, the demand of the gun-toting and sword-wielding young leader of the generally well-off Patels or Patidars, as they are also known, Hardik Patel, that his community be included in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.

Considering that he has called for either an inclusion in the quota system, or for dispensing with the reservations altogether, there is little doubt that he has touched a chord in the hearts of not only the upper castes, who have always been against the reservations, but also those who believe that this form of affirmative action has fostered vested interests who deliberately ignore the original idea of the quotas being offered for a limited period and that, too, for only the two most deprived groups – the Dalits and Adivasis.

Instead, the quotas have been extended to communities like the politically influential Yadavs even if they still experience some of the social stigma because of their ‘backwardness’.

What is more, the Supreme Court’s directive about denying what is called the ‘creamy layers’, or those who have benefitted from the reservations, any further access to quotas has been studiously circumvented by successive governments of various hues.

However, as is evident from the suggestions that the quota system be reoriented towards the poorer sections of all castes, the present virtual travesty of the original intent of the reservations is becoming increasingly obvious.

Yet, the political class is too focused on making immediate gains by playing the caste card to see how the unavoidable fallout of the denial of opportunity to the meritorious can breed social tension, as the agitation of the Patels show.

At present, only Narendra Modi has made an attempt to turn the spotlight on development even if his party, and especially its allies, are not averse to playing the caste game in Bihar.

Otherwise, all the other parties, including the supposedly progressive Left, have made no attempt to mobilise public opinion against quotas while the Aam Admi Party is too busy making space for itself in politics to spend much time on a contentious subject.

The murmurs in the Congress about a new approach show that the ingrained sycophancy of its members towards the Nehru-Gandhis hasn’t yet made the party totally brain dead. But, unfortunately, neither Sonia nor Rahul has the intellectual prowess to consider the matter with all its implications and chart a new course.

The Bihar elections are important in this context because there will be a direct contest between a pro-development and a pro-casteist outlook. Last year, the development model had received a thumbs-up signal from the voters. The results on November 8 will show their present mindset.

Amulya Ganguli, IANS

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Democracy Gone to Dogs?

The party leaders in Andhra Pradesh are assuring the "free electricity to all Masjids and Churches", and very special facilities to the students following Islamic faith. Is it not against the constitution to practice open discrimination in terms of religions and castes?

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democracy
Yes, the past sixty years have brought forth absurdities galore in Indian politics. Wikimedia

BY SALIL GEWALI

If a party’s leaders and its “narrow policies” are more important than the country, one should doubt the integrity of the party itself. Its ulterior motive should be exposed. Yes, wild allegations, vindictiveness, deceits are what have been adopted by the majority of leaders of certain political parties. Please note that lot many things in the country have long been going against the very principles of democracy.  Is it not too much that the Congress party should have a high command consisting of only one kind of people? A person with childish immaturity and lacking complete political acumen has been offered the highest post and is given free hand. I think it is utterly disastrous. Not just that, in the party the seasoned political leaders are not allowed to stand tall and throw their weight. Is this not undemocratic itself? This perhaps is driving many people away from party for past few years.

With emphasis I further say that the aspirations of diversified communities cannot be fulfilled by those who have lost in the wilderness of selfishness and raw vindictiveness. Yes, the past sixty years have brought forth absurdities galore in Indian politics. We have leaders who are murderers, we have leaders who have amassed untold wealth and so on. Some of our leaders are under matric who can’t even read the oath’s content correctly.

democracy
We have leaders who are murderers, we have leaders who have amassed untold wealth and so on. Some of our leaders are under matric who can’t even read the oath’s content correctly.

Look at, a person usually ends up being blacklisted for petty wrongdoing which bars him from fighting even for a job. The miseries and worries only await him/her throughout life. But, on the other hand, the political leaders are allowed to run for the topmost posts in the country in spite of several serious criminal offenses and incompetency. Not just that, they can contest the election right from the “jail”. Is this not an abnormal disparity and also the soft underbelly of the Indian polity? Is this a healthy sign of democracy for which we are proud of? Still formidable, some of the parties’ leaders are coming out against the very principle of the sovereign nationhood. True, we have lot many questions than answers.

Very funny, one who ask for votes under the guise of Dalit are bursting with wealth. Yesterday maybe in rags but today they are flushed with riches!  Just check with Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee and the like. Were they all not entered politics wearing the outfit of penance and pledging to serve humanity? But they are now found to be involved in numerous unholy deeds. Discrimination, brutality, and arrogance are what they have embraced all along. The solemn terms of significance like a comrade, proletariat, communism of Communist party have almost reduced to the pretext just to eyewash the masses. Under the cover of this ideology, a lot many massacres have been brought off.  Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Mao Zedong must now be shedding copious tears in heaven as their followers are misreading their masterpieces and taking up the arms to hurt humanity.

democracy
We have leaders who are murderers, we have leaders who have amassed untold wealth and so on. Some of our leaders are under matric who can’t even read the oath’s content correctly. Pixabay

Furthermore, here in the democracy you can emphatically speak “lies” and still you can claim yourself as the most truthful. Here the lies can also be “processed” successfully. It involves a simple technique. Repeat that lies as true many times.  Many false ideas have thus been got across as true and vice versa. There are many agencies or service providers these days that discreetly help turn a lie into a wholesome truth. Thanks to the people who have almost learned to accept lies without any grudge!

Nothing could be so disgraceful than the fact that the general citizens are taken for a ride so easily in democracy. Look at, just to win the election the certain National party, more precisely Congress Party, is promising moon. Will giving Rs 72000/- per annum to every poor citizen be viable. The party leaders in Andhra Pradesh are also assuring the “free electricity to all Masjids and Churches”, and very special facilities to the students following Islamic faith. Is it not against the constitution to practice open discrimination in terms of religions and castes?

democracy
Nothing could be so disgraceful than the fact that the general citizens are taken for a ride so easily in democracy. Wikimedia

Yes, no wonder, we just become awestruck by any “falsity” if that comes out from the political party we love to fall back upon. But we strongly condemn and belittle any worthwhile plans and policies if they are formulated and implemented by the party we choose to dislike. How come good initiatives done towards the nation building can be blameworthy? But too strange, that the renowned scholars and columnists come out to criticize and demean them.  One feels, this way we have willfully “blunted the sharpness” of our own intellect and reasoning faculty. We also pollute our thought-process and mislead our general public and hurt the nation.

Here one’s question — ‘should we still hold the custodians of constitution free from blemishes and prejudices?’ No, never they are quite “culpable” for such development. If one dispassionately re-evaluates the cases, one gets overwhelmed by the surge of despondency and regret. Our designated custodians have tolerated so much of lawlessness and the “self-expediency”. A good many past missteps or lackadaisical attitude of the “guardians” of the constitution have led us up to this tragedy. Keeping mum when a house is in fire is itself an open invitation to the trouble. It seems almost the same has happened in Indian politics. The guardians of the constitution have sealed their lips and as a result now we have an uncontrollably tumultuous orgy of political farce.

ALSO READ: PM Narendra Modi Engages with Celebrities to Boost Visibility

Phew, this is how in the cauldron of hot-mix of politics, the leaders without integrity and the confused citizens, the democracy has virtually suffered the irremediable disfigurement.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great Minds on India’. 

Twitter: @SGewali