Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rahul Gandhi's blabber!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Congress party, according to Rahul Gandhi, knows no caste, no religion. This illustrious “leader” now doing road shows across Uttar Pradesh also muttered “I am a Hindustani and for me every Indian is a Hindustani. Development, not caste, is my concern.”

All this, certainly, must have appealed to a specific crowd to which Rahul himself belongs to. Those who went to colleges like the one that Rahul himself attended and those who were born into the “right” caste; those who did not have to live in slums and one room tenements, attend schools without teachers and black-boards will be impressed by Rahul Gandhi’s blabber.

But then, Uttar Pradesh as well as India is made of a large number of people to whom the caste into which they were born meant facing discrimination at all stages in life. The Dalits and the Other Backward Classes are a set of people who were condemned to do manual and menial labour for several hundred years when the Brahmins enjoyed the right to learn the Vedas and the Kshatriyas enjoyed the right to learn archery and other “valourous” skills.

The discrimination was real because the Brahmins and Kshatriyas ended up owning large tracts of fertile land on which sections of the Backward castes and the Dalits were forced to labour. In other words, caste was indeed the sole basis on which some people ended up possessing land and thus enormous wealth. Likewise, those who actually worked on the land and produced the wealth were denied of any right over the wealth they produced only because they were Dalits and Backward Castes.

Even after the arrival of the modern education system (after the advent of the British), this discriminative basis, insofar as access to education is concerned, persisted. And once again the discrimination was on the basis of caste. The Congress party, despite earnest efforts by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Rahul Gandhi is not related to that Mahatma in any way and the adoption of that surname by Rahul’s grandmother, Indira Gandhi is a scandalous tale by itself and a fraud perpetuated on the masses of India), did not bother to internalize any programme to unsettle this odious discriminative order after independence.

The tragedy, so to say, is that the party could manage to cheat a cross section of the poor and the hapless people (read the Dalits) for several years after independence and ensure their support in election after election even while ensuring that the reins of power were vested with the rich and the mighty (read the upper castes). And this they could do by peddling a deceptive agenda; the agenda of “development”. Nehru did this for over a decade and he died around the same time when the shallow nature of this rhetoric was getting exposed and the Congress began losing by-elections held after 1962. That the Congress was losing its sheen was evident in 1967 when it lost power in 9 states.

Indira Gandhi then resorted to her socialist rhetoric and restored some semblance of popularity in 1971 and all the hyper-bole was exposed soon after. Her defeat in 1977, the emergence of the Janata regime and the appointment of the Mandal Commission are facts that are now known to anyone who cares to know the Indian reality. Rahul Gandhi has the liberty to remain ignorant of all this! And the Congress party may celebrate such ignorant and arrogant up-starts as its leader.

But then, it is important and sometimes necessary to set the records straight. And in this context, it is necessary to make it clear that caste is a harsh reality and it matters to those who were forced to suffer discrimination on the basis of caste for generations. In other words, caste may sound a dirty word to those who gained out of the discriminative order and enjoyed all the good things of life because they were born in high castes.

And to imagine that development will accomplish the task of achieving a caste-less society is like insisting that Jawaharlal Nehru was right. Rahul Gandhi may want to do that because it is normal, when you are ignorant and innocent, to celebrate someone just because he happens to be your great-grandfather. But to pretend not to realize that Nehru’s strategy was best suited to abolish caste based discrimination is the same as to believe that the Nehruvian Congress was committed to social and economic egalitarianism.

These are myths that the family cultivated through court historians. The fact is that the Congress party, after independence, had turned into a forum for the feudal and capitalist elements together and Nehru achieved the difficult task of ensuring that these two mutually antagonistic classes (at least in the European context) found common cause in India. And caste played a critical role in this project. While it ensured the Congress party’s supremacy for a couple of decades after independence, the synthetic nature of the caste balance that this strategy was rooted in also ensured its decimation in state after state.