A Deep Social Upheaval
A Deep Social Upheaval. The recent dramatic political events both at the state and national levels indicate a serious social disorder in our country.
Mala vs Madiga to Yadav vs Modi
The recent dramatic political events both at the state and national levels indicate a serious social disorder in our country. Though caste identities have been used for political purposes in the Parliamentary process, where number dominates ideology, never before unscrupulous methods of dividing castes and even families for the purpose of gaining the vote share seem to have been employed. The trend reminds that caste has emerged as a political institution with social characters which some of our political sociologists have of late recognized. But, the consequences of the current political manipulations, we are afraid, would have long term adverse social impact. Interestingly, no political party has a social agenda of caste eradication; therefore the trend is accepted as a matter of fact without any dispute. Sometimes we feel deeply pained and lapse in to despondency for the way the politics in India is played. There is no honesty in the methods of political parties during the election season and some of the left including the socialist groups are not far away from this. Everyone is interested in the votes and wish to get elected through the dubious means of whipping the caste passions or sentiments by promoting the petty leaders from caste or sub caste groups within a party or outside.
Perhaps, we have examples of such incidents in our epics. The pundits and experts of our scriptures tell us that lord Sri Ram was pampered by Vasista, the Rajguru to prove that there is no unity among the kshatriyas and the kula guru of Kshatriyas, Viswamitra was inferior to Brahmin Vasista. There were scholars like Garbe.R, who have written on such topics during the 19th century and Sharad Patil has extensively cited the works in his writings. As the current elections and government policies seem to broadly respect the age old Sanatana dharma irrespective of declared or concealed agendas, a brief academic reflection on the puranic characters as seen from the present political war seem to be inevitable.
It may not be out of place to bring in here puranic symbols when we talk about castes, as the legends were in a way reflections of the classical varnadharma. Lord Sri Ram was definitely the jewel of the ancient classical era or thretayuga ? Therefore, it is desirable to look for the exemplary characters in our Lords and Leaders to find parallels in the current debates conducted by our seasoned media honchos with the support of paid intellectuals/ managers. As things stand now, most of the dominant parties have their own legacies, family or parivar. The former is blood related and the latter is genetically connected. The former may not have a head quarters and the latter a formal functional relationship. But, both the institutions are deeply embedded in our ethos and control politics and openly quarrel accusing each other. The issue here is that some strong characters are projected as the formidable candidates for PM post like, Modi, Rahul, Kejrival, Mulayam, Nithish, Chandrababu Naidu etc. Sadly the fair sex is deliberately dropped off in the mainstream discussions on future PM even by the lady prattlers.
Among the prospective candidates, Modi is the Prince among the peers. Let us look at his personality. Does Modiji in any way inferior to lord Sri Ram in his commitment to sanatanadharma and rashtra dharma though some claim that he has failed in his raj dharma? In the Kaliyug both rajdharma and rashtra dharma should be merged for administrative convenience of good governance as defined in modern heaven (USA-WB). Modi has an additional qualification of belonging to Backward Class which perhaps lord Sriram doesn't possess. In fact, Harshvardhan of BJP in Delhi has said that “even god cannot stop Modiji to win" .Or some of our experts might find that given the colour of the leader resemble the dark icon, it is not difficult to paint both the characters as backward castes? We have now the advantage of hundreds of channels and social networks in all languages to devote time and energy to recreate modern epics. May be soon we may get writings depicting such episodes .Some organizations have already placed experts outside India who are expected to do that for an international audience.
The current fight to gain control over UP reminds us the kind of games played in Andhra , a few years ago in breaking the solidarity among the dalits (there could be many reasons). In fact, the whole caste system itself is a ladder of inequities. Now the BC upsurge, some claim, seems to be a blemish for the traditional ruling classes/castes particularly their formidable dominance in terms of numbers. The chief among them is the Yadav (Ahir) parivar and their ability to garner support from other socially disadvantaged including the Muslims (artisans).They might capture Delhi anytime, if left free. The OBC power in UP, Bihar and other parts of cowbelt is due to some castes like the Modis and their ubiquitous presence in places where the Yadavas are found. Unlike the Yadav and other OBCs, Modi, Sahu, Gupta ( Agrahari Vaisya/sundaria-baniya) and similarly placed castes in the North as telis, oil pressures and small shop keepers/dealers are noticeable BCs. They have traditional contacts with the market and knew about the nuances. Unlike the Sonis who are small in number, this group is well entrenched and might become a great threat to traditional castes who have been enjoying power and patronage despite small number. If the Modis and Yadavs who have some economic potential to challenge the money power are allowed to emerge, they might become, to use Phuley's term the Rakshaks (not rakshasas) of the socially disadvantaged. Or they might take away their share that reduces the major chunk now enjoyed by the traditional groups. The solution perhaps suggested by the advisers is, emulate Andhra experiment where Sudras are enjoying power by dividing the disadvantaged as ABC and D. There is no doubt that there are different gradations among the OBCs. The service castes like Dhobi, Nayi etc are in multitudes are always marginalized is another serious issue for political engineering. The left from the time of Lohia have tried to win the confidence of the lower castes; of late it is alleged, alienated without any constituency and turned irrelevant with their obsolete rhetoric?
However, the current Modi-Yadav war in UP is only symbolic that it would break the nascent stage of Bahujan's power. How do we expect that in a Country like India the traditional governed castes would be allowed to occupy positions of power, if at all permitted, it should be with the blessings of the gods on earth!
(The writer is a Professor and former member of UPSC and can be reached at email@example.com)