Shafiq R Khan

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Female Killing : The Great Circus Of India

by Maloy Krishna Dhar
The writer is a former Joint Director of Intelligence Bureau, Government of India

(June 04, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) In the absence of our half-brother the Chimpanzee, lovely elephants, fascinating tigers and lions circus-going has become out of fashion. However, do not lament. In our Indian society there are several groups of human-animals whom you must visit through the window of this essay. These are not social evils; these have become deep flaws in our cultural values. In fact, we, the Indians are funnier than amusing compared to our animal-brethren driven out of the circus arena under provisions of cruelty to animal laws.

Who would banish the culturally polluted people of India and where? Let’s have a tour de shame of the Great Indian Circus.

In a multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-tradition country like India societal traditions, cultural totems and social and systemic evils often vary from region to region. Certain societal and systemic evils are commonly shared by almost all the religious and cultural groups. Most visible social evils are dowry system, poverty, gender inequality, child labour, religious sanction for drug consumption (bhang, hashish, dhatura concoction etc), child begging, honour killing and bribery. The dowry system is less acute in tribal states of northeast, Assam, West Bengal and Kerala. The system is ghastly visible in Hindi heartland including Punjab, western and southern Indian societies.

Rural poverty in common to most of the regions and in Indian economic planning and execution system normally does not recognize the curse of shattered rural economy. Like malarial fever certain governments often come up with rural employment, housing, and water supply schemes. Unbiased ground examinations prove the fallacious implementation of the scheme, as most of the money spent is misappropriated by local politicians, leaders of the LSG bodies and government officials. Despite such schemes helpless and loan-burdened agriculturalists continue to commit suicide in states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and even a supposedly prosperous state like Punjab. Globalisation of economy has failed to transform the lives of the rural poor all over India. Two parallel economies continue to coexist as they have been coexisting for hundreds of years. Besides the minor circus shows mentioned above Rural Development Programmes of the government is the highest joke going around. Some of the readers might have had the opportunity to witness the farce.

While child labour and child marriage are common all over the country regions like Rajasthan have a peculiar system called “jhagda.” This system allows parents and husbands to sell off their daughters and wives for an agreed amount. The sale deed is sanctified in a government stamp paper. No joke. Visit Tonk and you can see instances galore.

Use of young kids for begging and hawking certain merchandise is not uncommon a sight in metropolitan cities and even in small towns. Certain begging curtails and organized manpower suppliers recruit the children through kidnapping, purchasing from parents and supply the child manpower to begging cartels and commodity hawking organizations. Use of minor children as domestic helps as a common practice all over India. Besides working at homes they also work at eateries, markets, shops and other business establishments. Laws regarding child labour are blatantly violated by the people and even by social organizations and police forces. You may have often been pained but most of us have not gauged the vastness of the panorama of this Great Indian Social Circus.

Bribery and plundering of public fund have become synonymous with Indian behavioral pattern. No big governmental transaction, contract, supply and purchase mechanism can be completed without greasing the palms of the political and bureaucratic authorities. Though Bofors scandal still continue to haunt the nation, scandals in defence purchases, Telecom ministry, Infotech industries and infrastructural ventures appear to be of higher magnitude and the governmental machineries appear to be unable to detect and investigate these super-scandals. It is rather a vexing task to mention about prevalence of bribery at middle and lower levels of governmental activities. Once upon a time police was earmarked as the most corrupt department. This honour has been usurped by the Income tax, customs, excise, education, health, public works, food grains and pulses supply system and most other government departments. The poor police now stand at eleventh slot below the other lucrative and highly paying departments. Few recent cases of IAS, IPS and IRS officers booked for corruption are only tips of the icebergs.

While these are some of the visible and often discussed evils of the Great Indian Circus the other basic areas of societal evils lurk around us as parts of our cultural heritage. To decorate social evils with the condiments of cultural totems is more heinous crime than crimes listed in the penal codes.

Gender discrimination does not exactly define the crimes committed by the society in committing acts of female feticide, female infanticide and abortion of a conceived girl child. Two charts about growth of female population in India would illustrate the magnitude of crime being committed against the female child:

Image: Census

The Other chart pertains to negative ratio of female growth in Indian society:
Image: Census

The picture is horrifying. While Kerala has the higher female ratio (1,058) the lowest averages states are Uttar Pradesh (898); Haryana (861); Punjab (876); Chandigarh (777). The national average is between 920 to 970.

This Hindu belief is fortified by the so-called injunction of scriptures: “Put name narakat jo trayate so putrah.” This means a male child (putra) rescues the parents from a hell called Put. Put is supposed to be one of ten horrible hells. This Hindu belief has eroded in certain states with spread of modern education and in states like Kerala. West Bengal, Karnataka and Maharashtra women have gradually gained near-equality with men. In metropolitan cities also this trend of equality is visible. But the vast countryside suffers from the embedded bias against the girl child.

John-Thor Dahlburg pointed out in his article “Where killing baby girls ‘is no big sin’,” The Los Angeles Times (quoted in The Toronto Star, February 28, 1994) said “From 972 females for every 1,000 males in 1901 … the gender imbalance has tilted to 929 females per 1,000 males. … In the nearly 300 poor hamlets of the Usilampatti area of Tamil Nadu, as many as 196 girls died under suspicious circumstances (in 1993) … Some were fed dry, unhulled rice that punctured their windpipes, or were made to swallow poisonous powdered fertilizer. Others were smothered with a wet towel, strangled or allowed to starve to death.” Dahlburg profiles one disturbing case from Tamil Nadu:

‘Lakshmi already had one daughter, so when she gave birth to a second girl, she killed her. For the three days of her second child’s short life, Lakshmi admits, she refused to nurse her. To silence the infant’s famished cries, the impoverished village woman squeezed the milky sap from an oleander shrub, mixed it with castor oil, and forced the poisonous potion down the newborn’s throat. The baby bled from the nose, then died soon afterward. Female neighbors buried her in a small hole near Lakshmi’s square thatched hut of sun baked mud. They sympathized with Lakshmi, and in the same circumstances, some would probably have done what she did. For despite the risk of execution by hanging and about 16 months of a much-ballyhooed government scheme to assist families with daughters, in some hamlets of … Tamil Nadu, murdering girls is still sometimes believed to be a wiser course than raising them. “A daughter is always liabilities. How can I bring up a second?” Lakshmi, 28, answered firmly when asked by a visitor how she could have taken her own child’s life eight years ago. “Instead of her suffering the way I do, I thought it was better to get rid of her.”

According to Marina Porras, (Female Infanticide and foeticide) a male child is able to work in field, is insurance for economic support and an eligible male child can bring fat dowry. Preference for male child also adds fuel to the fire of dowry system and dowry related killing of brides. In India a qualified male member can earn up to 100,000 per month (more if a covenanted officer). A normal income group male child can fetch a total dowry value of 50,000 to rupees two lac. I have known certain cases of covenanted All India Service officers who garnered dowry value of rupees one crore to five crores. This system is prevalent in almost all the states, with lesser degree of evil in Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and in the tribal states. In main Aryavarta and the southern peninsula the system has become aggravated. Not more than 5% marriage can be negotiated with smaller or token amount of dowry +commodities and certain amounts of demanded jewelry. A car, at least a motorbike is a common expectation from the girl’s family.

In spite of legislation female foeticide has become common feature. The prescribed laws are:

The Maternal Terminal of Pregnancy or the MTP Act came into force in 1971. This was the first law to regulate the termination of pregnancy. Thus otherwise the termination of pregnancy has been legalized. According to this Act, if the pregnancy would involve a risk to life of pregnant women or cause grave injury/physical or mental disbalance of the foetus, in that case she can go for abortion.

To check the practice of determination of sex before birth of a child is illegal in the eyes of law, according to the Prenatal Diagnostic test Act, 1994. According to the new Law, the person who disobey the PNDT Act, the penalty which at present between Rupees 10,000 to 1 lac is being enhanced to anywhere between Rs.3 to 7 lac.

In June 2007, a doctor was arrested on illegally aborting 260 female foetuses after police recovered bones & skulls from a septic tank in a maternity clinic in New Delhi.

On July 23, 2007 Nayagarh District (Orissa) police had discovered 40 dead female infants in a dry well near a private clinic & within one month again from Bhubaneswar police recovered 30 foeticides in 15 jars near a Forest Park. The only reason of these issues is discrimination between male & female children.

From official record it has been estimated that in India everyday 7000 female foeticides has taken place. Shocking statistics reveal that as many as 10 million girls in India have been killed by their parents either before or immediately after birth over the past 20 years. Perhaps most Indians are not concerned about this great female killing circus of India.

Female foeticide and female infanticide is a vast subject and is one of the most painful games that are played in the Great Indian Circus. To be a girl child is rated as misfortune in 90% Indian families. However, I propose to move out from this circus ring and like to invite the readers to visit another great game in the Indian circus. It is called Khap Panchayat.

Khap is a cluster of villages united by caste and geography. It is as old as 14th century started by upper caste Jats to consolidate their power and position. The main rule is that all boys and girls within a khap are considered siblings. Jat clans like Malik, Dalal, and Dahia etc have strong roots in the age old system that was started in the 14th century for maintaining purity of the Jat community as against the foreign aggressors and supremacy of the Rajput (Thakur) clans. This era also witnessed consolidation of Jat political entities, though Jat political supremacy in parts of Punjab, UP and Rajasthan started in 17th century after decline of the Mughal regime of Aurangzeb.

Khap panchayat governs the khap formed by same gotra (clan) families from several neighbouring villages. Khap panchayats are prevalent in Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Parts of Rajasthan. Love marriages are considered taboo in areas governed by Khap panchayats. Those living in a Khap are not allowed to marry in the same gotra or even in any gotra from the same village. Many young couples have been killed in the past for defying khap rules.

Khap panchyat imposes its writ through social boycotts and fines and in most cases end up either killing or forcing the victims to commit suicide. All this is done in the name of brotherhood and honour. Inherent weakness of democratically elected Panchayati Raj institutions has emboldened the Khap panchayats to abrogate exclusive power. The police and other wings of administration either connive or look on helplessly. Even the governments have not done much to control their power.

The 10-15 men who constitute a Khap settle disputes and control the lives of young people. Many village people also defend these caste panchayats as they deliver the verdict in one sitting whereas court cases drag for years.

In some Haryana villages, the young girls are routinely threatened, abused and killed all under Khap verdicts. It is acceptable for the families to feed pesticide pills to the teenage girls and then dispose off their bodies by burning them without any police records. The entire onus of siblinghood rests on the girl. She is the keeper of village honor. Sometimes rules are bent for the boys but a girl is never allowed to bend the rules. If a couple run away the families risk boycott and hefty fines in lakhs of rupees. Even the other women of the household can suffer abuse. There are instances of mass rape of women who dared to defy the dictate of the Khap panchayat.

In keeping with the khap rules, older villagers try to keep the young people apart. Some schools are also forced to have separate timings for the boys and girls. Fearing their daughters would go astray, many parents marry them off at an early age. People have unquestionable faith in the justice of khap. The question of rights for women does not exist anywhere in the territories ruled by Khap panchayats.

On July 24, 2009 the Khap panchayat ordered the entire family of Ravinder and Shilpa to vacate their village because the couple had married in interrelated gotras. Ravinder, a Gehlot Jat had married Shilpa of Kadyan caste, supposed to be related to the Gehlots. Ravinder and Shilpa now live in Delhi but they require police escort as ordered by court, whenever they visit the village.

A few days earlier Ved Pal Mor was lynched by the Jat villagers for marring in the same Gotra. In June 2009 Khap panchayat had forced Manoj and his wife Babli to drink pesticide as they married in the same gotra. An order from the High Court to give police protection to the couple did not help. In June 2009 itself the village khap allured Sonu and Anita (married in same gotra) to return to the village on promise of pardon. On their arrival they were stabbed to death by khap volunteers in the presence of police. These are some of the tantalsing scenes from the great Khap game of the Jat community of Haryana.

Besides the Hindu jats some Muslim jats of Mewat area of Haryana have also started resorting to Khap tyranny. An eight-time national wrestling champion, Ikhlash, 22, is facing the wrath of a khap of 360 villages of Meo Muslims for getting married within the same gotra.

Little did Ikhlash, a resident of Mewat’s Dwarka village, know what he would be up against when on May 9 he married Anjum. Her ancestors had migrated to Rajasthan from Haryana.

Now, instead of planning his honeymoon, Ikhlash, a constable in the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) at Bhondsi, finds himself and his family excommunicated for marrying the girl from same gotra.

Ramzan Chaudhary, who describes himself as the coordinator of khaps and the head of Mewat Vikas Manch, justified Ikhlash’s social boycott as an initiative to protect the honor of the villages and the Meo community. “We follow Islam. But, at the same time we strongly follow our tradition derived from Haryana. We don’t allow same gotra marriage. The girl belongs to Barkiya gotra which has a strong presence in 22 villages of Mewat area. Her ancestors moved to Alwar in Rajsthan but the gotra remains the same.” Ikhlash is not ready to compromise and is still trying to fend the Muslim Khap maniacs.

Irked at being equated with the Taliban and kangaroo courts, khap panchayats in Haryana are now determined to get some legal sanction for their atrocious activities. They are at work to draw up recommendations for making “suitable” amendments to the Hindu Marriage Act (1955) at the state level so that their rulings become valid under law.

At a two-day meeting in Rohtak that ended on September 6, 2009, the Sarv Khap Panchayat, a conglomerate of various khaps, decided to set up a core committee to suggest amendments to the Act to disallow same-gotra and same-village marriages as per Jat tradition.

Lt Col (retd) Chander Singh Dalal, an advocate in Rohtak who organized the “seminar”, said: “After elections, I plan to send the draft recommendations to each of the 90 MLAs and persuade them to bring a Bill in the assembly. I am sure it won’t be opposed.”

Justice (retd) Devi Singh Teotia, a former judge of the Punjab & Haryana HC, who actively participated in the Sarv Khap Panchayat, said: ‘‘Khap leaders are keepers of Jat tradition and they have lately been facing flak for it. If the amendments come through, there will be no more clashes between tradition and the law, and they (the khap leaders) won’t be maligned.”

Again in April 12, 2010 defiant leaders of various ‘khap panchayats’ or caste councils decided to support six people convicted by a Haryana court for an honour killing and sought an amendment to the Hindu Marriage They pleaded that the constitution and law cannot stand in the way of Khap traditions. At a chaotic meeting of the mahapanchayat of over 20 khaps from across Haryana and adjoining states, a section of the leaders suddenly announced their decision to support the six convicts, five of whom were last month sentenced to death for killing Manoj and Babli in 2007 for marrying within the same gotra.

The decision of the Sarv Khap Jaat Mahasammelan was, however, opposed by a section of khap leaders from Haryana saying all views were not allowed to be expressed at the meeting. The Khap leaders blocked a road in protest saying the Haryana government would have to assure them that it would write to the central government seeking an amendment in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Surprisingly, a young, educated and scion of an industrial empire Navin Jindal (MP-Congress) carried a brief on behalf of the Khap Panchayat Mahasabha advocating amendment in Hindu Marriage Act. After tons of discussions and condemnation Jindal tried to explain that he was just forwarding a request from his electorate. Some Araya Samaji Hindu fanatics of Hindi Heartland and the Jat leader of UP have also joined the Khap circus.

The circus is not yet complete. The Congress party partly singed by the Khap initiated honour killing and partially stubbed by the burning of the Dalit village Mirchpur by the Jats in presence of police, has activated the coordination committee for Haryana. This is supposed to oversee the performance of the state government (Congress ruled) over the Khap issue as well as ignominious barbaric treatment of the Dalits by the Jats.

It is time we move out of the sky-train of Khap tyranny and move over to the merry-go-round of Caste Based Population Enumeration. It is claimed that Hindu scriptures had sanctioned the Varnashram. Lord Krishna is supposed to have told Arjuna that He had created four Varnas according to qualification and work-station in life. The experts on Gita now say this is a Brahminical interpolation. Some scholars claim that the Purusha Suktam of the Rig Veda is the origin of Varna system. Purusha is described as a primeval gigantic man, not unlike the Norse Ymir or the Greco-Roman Zeus, from whose body the world and the varnas (castes) were created. He is described as having a thousand heads and a thousand feet. It is claimed that in the yagna (sacrifice) of Purusha, the Vedic chants were first created. The horses and cows were born; the Brahmins (priests) were made from Purusha’s mouth, the Kshatriyas (warriors) from his arms, the Vaishyas (traders) from his thighs, and the Shudras (lower castes) from his feet. Several Sanskrit and Vedic scholars now claim that the Purusha Suktam were inserted by the Brahmins much later in societal development of India to establish supremacy of the Brhminic community and their supporting arms- the kshatriyas and vaishyas. The sudras were supposed to serve the other upper castes.

The curse of caste system in India, invented by the Brahmins and their allies has kept the Indian Hindu society segmented and culturally diffused. Intra-societal immobility and inter-societal segmentation had divided the people so much that they were vaguely known as Hindus but their religion and culture never coalesced to make them a Nation of people within a defined geographical entity.

The demand for restoration of caste-based census has got a boost with members of the Union Cabinet making a forceful pitch for the enumeration of OBCs (other backward classes) nationally. Among those arguing strongly for the return of caste census are OBC faces such as law minister M Veerappa Moily, minister for overseas affairs Vayalar Ravi, telecom minister Andimuthu Raja and fertiliser minister MK Alagiri. Pranab Mukherji and P, Chidambaram also supported them. Only Anand Sharma and Mukul Wasnik cautioned that the practice abandoned 70 years ago should not be revived. The development came after a strong demand in Parliament for revival of caste census. The BJP and the left parties joined OBC leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad, and Sharad Yadav in demanding that caste be brought back as a census criterion.

The last census to enumerate caste was in 1931, when the British were ruling India and Lord Irwin was the viceroy. There was no census in 1941, thanks to the Second World War. After independence, India’s founding fathers decided to do away with caste as a census criterion because of their desire to build a casteless society. Now politicians, particularly from the OBCs, are demanding resumption of caste enumeration in the census. In fact, they want it done in the exercise that is already under way. They say the reality of caste in India cannot be wished away and enumerating caste would help in implementation of many policies based on caste, such as reservation in education and employment. But those opposed to such a census say the dream of a casteless social order should not be given up and efforts should be made to weaken the caste structure based on oppression of those at the bottom of the hierarchy.

Fluidity of Indian caste system and segmentation of the society was not exploited by the Muslim rulers. In fact, remaining in contact with the Hindus and the converted Muslims also borrowed the Hindu caste system. The British society of 18th and 19th century was demarcated by sharp class division. Even Robert Clive was known as an upstart who tried to climb up the social ladder with the help of plundered Indian wealth. The British had found it convenient to divide the Indian society on religious and caste lines. They had developed segmented and partisan policies towards the Muslims to balance and checkmate resurgent nationalist awakening amongst the Hindus. At a later stage the British tried to experiment with the Four Nation policy for India-Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Scheduled Caste & Dalits. The Sikh people preferred to cast their lot with the majority of the Indians on the face of inevitable partition of Punjab. The British egged on several SC leaders, but failed to win over Baba Saheb Ambedkar, who had struck a deal with Gandhi for protection of the SC and Dalits. We will describe in short the views of Gandhi and Ambedkar on Jativad (caste & varna) issue in a later paragraph.

However, The British succeeded in roping a foxy Bengali SC leader Jogendra Nath Mandal to demand separate nationhood for the Scheduled Caste community and allured him to tag with Jinnah. Mandal was a minister in Muslim League government in Bengal and later a minister in Pakistan government. Finally disillusioned, he migrated and settled down in India abandoning the third nation status for the SC community.

The British, however, adopted an attitude of neglect if not hostility towards the tribal community in the heartland area of British India. In the northeast they segregated the tribal people and converted them to Christianity. The reason for British aversion to the tribal people can be found in repeated tribal uprising against British occupation of their land. Some of the major tribal rebellions were:

1.Halba rebellion (1774–79)
2.Bhopalpatnam Struggle (1795)
3.Bhil rebellion (1822–1857)
4. Paralkot rebellion (1825)
5.Tarapur rebellion (1842–54)
6.Maria rebellion (1842–63)
7.Santhal rebellion (July 1855 to May 1856) in areas of present Jharkhand and W. Bengal.
8.Bhil rebellion, begun by Tantya Tope in Banswara (1858)
9.Koi revolt (1859)
10.Gond rebellion, begun by Ramji Gond in Adilabad (1860)
11.Muria rebellion (1876)
12.Rani rebellion (1878–82)
13.Bhumkal (1910)

Most of these rebellions were brutally suppressed, tribal homes burnt, cattle plundered and women raped. Following these events the British started deputing Christian Missionaries to the areas to “civilize” the naked tribals.

Surprisingly, the post-independent government of India followed the British thesis of neglect and non-interference. Nehru had followed the thesis of Verrier Elwyn (A Philosophy for NEFA) and said, “I am alarmed when I see – not only in this country but in other great countries too – how anxious people are to shape others according to their own image or likeness, and to impose on them their particular way to living. We are welcome to our way of living, but why impose it on others? This applies equally to national and international fields. In fact, there would be more peace in the world if people were to desist from imposing their way of living on other people and countries. I am not at all sure which is the better way of living, the tribal or own. In some respects I am quite certain theirs is better. Therefore, it is grossly presumptuous on our part to approach them with an air of superiority, to tell them how to behave or what to do and what not to do. There is no point in trying to make of them a second-rate copy of ourselves.” (Jawaharlal Nehru in the preface of the book by Elwyn).

Nehru’s successors had not changed the policy. This is one of the inherent causes of Maoist advancement in the hinterland tribal areas.

Let us briefly examine what two great sons of India Ambedkar and Gandhi had to say about Jativad (caste and varna) system. We cannot overlook the caution sounded by one of the hardcore nationalist fighters, Lala Hardayal. He said, “Caste is the curse of India. Caste, in all its forms, has made us nation of slaves. It is not Islam, it is not England that has destroyed India. Our enemy is within us. Priest-craft and caste have slain us.”

Snippets of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s views are reproduced below:

‘Originally, varnas were based on worth, but castes became based on birth.’

‘The law of chaturvarna prohibited the Shudras from pursuing knowledge, from engaging in economic enterprise, and bearing arms with the result that they could never revolt.’

‘Caste system embodies the arrogance and selfishness of a perverse section of society.’

‘It has narrowed a man’s loyalty to his caste, made virtue and morality caste ridden.’

‘Caste has made Shuddhi, i. e., conversion to Hinduism impracticable – and so long as there is no sangathan the Hindus will remain weak and meek and will tolerate insult and wrong meekly.’

‘Although the castes in Hindu society have similarity of customs, beliefs, and thoughts, they are neither a society nor a nation in the true sense of the term. They are a collection of castes.’

‘Caste has ruined the Hindu race and has destroyed, demoralised, and devitalised Hindu society.’

Let us reproduce some of the snippets of the views of Gandhi on this issue:

“If the Shudras (low castes) leave their ancestral profession and take up others, ambition will rouse in them and their peace of mind will be spoiled. Even their family peace will be disturbed. (Hind Swaraj).”

“I believe in Varnashrama (caste system) which is the law of life. The law of Varna (color and / or caste) is nothing but the law of conservation of energy. Why should my son not be scavenger if I am one? (Harijan, 3-6-1947).”

“He (Shudra, low caste) may not be called a Brahmin (uppermost caste), though he (Shudra) may have all the qualities of a Brahmin in this birth. And it is a good thing for him (Shudra) not to arrogate a Varna (caste) to which he is not born. It is a sign of true humility. (Young India, 11-24-1927).”

“According to Hindu belief, he who practices a profession which does not belong to him by birth, does violence to himself and becomes a degraded being by not living up to the Varna (caste) of his birth. (Young India, 11-14-1927).”

“As years go by, the conviction is daily growing upon me that Varna (caste) is the law of man’s being, and therefore, caste is necessary for Christians and Muslims as it has been necessary for Hinduism, and has been its saving grace. (Speech at Trivandrum, (Collection of Speeches), Ramanath Suman (1932)).”

“I would resist with my life the separation of “Untouchables” from the caste Hindus. The problem of the “Untouchable” community is of comparatively little importance. (London Round Table Conference 1931.).”

“I call myself a Snatana man, one who firmly believes in the caste system. (Dharma Manthan, p 4).”

“I believe in caste division determined by birth and the very root of caste division lies in birth. (Varna Vyavastha, p 76-77).”

These quotes are not meant for undermining Gandhi’s movement against untouchbility, but to illustrate his personal faith in caste and Varna system.

It is not surprising that Gandhi’s political heirs had not done anything to listen to the warnings of Lela Arrayal, Subhas Bose and Ambedkar. They rather added fuel to the fire. While Indira Gandhi maintained the constitutional status quo the Janata Party regime headed by Morarji Desai constituted ‘Mandal Commission’ under B. P. Mandal, MP to identify the socially and educationally backward communities in 1979. Indira Gandhi did not want to open up fresh controversies by implementing the Mandal recommendations about Other Backward Classes and additional reservation policy. A beleaguered V. P. Singh confronted by BJP’s Ram Temple agitation and political intrigues by Devilal and Chandrasekhar hastily decided to implement the provisions of the Mandal Commission on Auguat 7, 1990. It was followed by tumultuous situation in the country, fall of V. P. Singh government and prolonged political instability in the country.

This being the historical background it is for the Nation as a whole to decide if population enumeration should take place on the basis of Varna and caste. The Hindu society is already sharply divided and consummation of the divisions by reflecting caste strengths in the census may again turn the table on so-called upper castes. The question would boil down to the following cardinal issues:

OBC majority in several states
Loss of political hegemony by certain upper castes
Demand by Muslim OBC and SC for additional reservation
Demand by Christian OBC and SC/ST for additional reservation
Demand by Sikh OBC and SC for additional reservation.

The great circus that may ensue may witness constitutional, social and political upheaval. Though the Union Cabinet has not taken a firm decision, it has referred the issue to a Group of Ministers. As the Congress party depends on two Yadav leaders and Mayawati in the face of Mamata’s recalcitrance it is presumed the GOM will recommend caste based enumeration.

I hope this mini-tour of the Great Indian Circus would evoke some thought process in the minds of the national and international readers and draw their attention to the glaring aspects that instead of waxing and joining the national fault lines, our political class are bent on widening the social chasm and fragmenting the Indian society.

If these few snippets of the GIC appeals to your crania please protest and say loudly that we in India, in 2010, do not want such circus to continue. Alongside economic reforms the political and bureaucratic class should also apply mind to social reforms and redirect the cultural values of the Indian society.



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