In his last public engagement, on the day his successor was being elected last Thursday, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam exhorted his countrymen and women and children not to take gifts that came with strings attached.
“Yesterday, a well-known person gave me a gift of two pens. I had to return them with unhappiness,” he said, an quoted from the ancient Hindu code of law Manusmriti which says that by accepting gifts, the divine light in the person gets extinguished.
That seemingly innocuous quote has drawn the ire of Dalits in Rajasthan who call the reference to Manusmriti “unwarranted” and “shocking and strange”.
P.L. Mimroth of the Centre for Dalit Rights has said “the outgoing President need not have quoted from the archaic Hindu code of law that had created the Varna system under which the higher castes for centuries denied all basic human rights and dignity to Dalits.”
“For us, Manu only symbolises the unjust social order imposed on Dalits from time immemorial… Quoting from Manusmriti amounts to paying homage to a figure who represents all that is unjust in the Indian society.”
Manuvaad can be debated till the cows come home and go back, of course, but is nothing right about Manusmriti? Including the bit about the divine light in the person getting extinguished if a person receives a gift with a purpose?
These so-called “dalit rights” bodies are often Christian proselytizers’ fronts camouflaging the agenda of denigrating Hinduism under the pretext of speaking for dalits’ rights.
It is nothing but stretching the logic to a breaking point. There is absolutely nothing on earth either totally good or hopelessly bad. So boycotting any thing out rightly is unwise. Finding fault with Kalam for quoting from Manu is ridiculous .What he said is important and not from where he got it. So called Dalith leaders are doing a great disservice to the cause of down trodden with such thoughtless and short sighted moves. They have every right to oppose what they think is unjust, but should never impose their views on others. How can any body say what a towering personality like Kalam should speak. Such populist statements can never be pro people. It is just a gimmick to shine in the reflected glory.
If their logic is right, then speaking English makes us all British colonizers… including them.
When sombody quotes from a book, the person who opposes the view should have read it. How many of them have read those works? You cannot simply say that everything that is said in a particular work is bad. This logic they apply it only to a few works. Why can’t they condemn the inhuman acts perpetrated by other communities people? It is just for the sake of publicity they do these things. Why should one accept a gift? Be it President of India of somebody else? When you look at the way the functions are arranged where hundreds of garlands, shawls are put on the people sitting on the dias from the money collected from the public-poor public, and sometimes labourers one feels disgusted. Try to follow simple ways in leading a life. To comment it is very easy.
If you read carefully the Manusmrit, it prescribes untouchability in case of Chandals. It prescribes a system of justice where the Brahmans can go scot-free. And also mutilate and maim Shudras. Thus the untouchables should have worse punishment. Read all about this in my coming book.
There is a Staute of Sir William Jones at Westminster Abbey, London, holding “Manu Smriti” in one hand.
Manu was treated with great respect, honor for the laws he gave at that age, even by Westerners at early age.
But with the rising of Missionary Zeal in Europe, Missionaries started denigrating Manu by quoting few lines which suits their geo-political need.
Most of these Dalit Groups are Xtian Missionaries in some form or ther other.
Here is a beautiful article which exposes the nexus:
‘Dalit’ twist to textbook row
By Sadhya Jain.
1. Its Smriti, not “Shruti”. Smriti is mutable with time (Yuga).
2. Manu is one of the greatest law giver in the world. His laws were at least 3000 years old when much of Europe was a barbaric land.
3. Yes, there are few ManuSmriti laws which are outrageous. But that has to be seen NOT at today’s light, but at the contemporary light.
4. What abt large parts of Manu’s work which is of highest ethical Standard?
These Missionaries are more fundamentalist than even Jehadis.
Manu bashers are BLOODY COMMIES, sponsored by Xian missioneries
Well, the logic of the author and the other commentatators expose the nascent manuvadi mindset present among most Indians even in this day and age.
Hitler did a few great deeds. He Unified Germany and lead the economic and political growth of Germany, pre-world war 2. But does any person in his right sense of mind quote Hitler when they speak of nationalism?? No ,Because all his seemingly good deads were overshawdowed by the horrendous acts commited by him.
Same is the case with Manu. A person’s character is weighed wholistically and not in parts. By Perpetauating the Caste System which has plagued our country for centuries with human rights abuse of the worst order, and strifled the development of our people, Manu is an “Untouchable” , a la Hitler, in the modern context.
Let us say the Author’s daughter was raped by a serial Rapist. But… This rapist also gave away alms to the beggars in teh street. Suppose the Government quotes this rapist as a Role model for charity, how would the author feel??
Same is the anguish felt by my fellow Brethren belonging to the Dalit and backward castes
You must have heard of this–
It depends on how one interrupts it.
Dhrma, It is “Inteprets” and not “interrupts”
The manu smriti with warts and all.
Manu Smriti is not completely relevant to this age. But it still has parts that are by and large useful. Try this for an example:
“sarvam paravasham duHkham sarvam Atmavasham sukham|
etat vidyAt samAsena lakshaNam sukhaduHkhayOH||
All unhappiness is external and all happiness relies upon oneself. This has to be understood as the definition of happiness and sorrow.”
If the Buddha said that, it would be fine by these dimwits?
Throwing away the baby with the bathwater is what these idiots are trying to do.
The Manusmriti is from an age that has no relevance with current times. Manu is obsessed with order at all costs. He exhibits a deep fear and paranoia about chaos. He goes to great lengths to preserve order. Manu seems to be seeking permanence in an impermanent/chaotic world. It would be interesting to study the events of the times in which this book was written.
Manusmriti is one among many law texts. The prominence of the text in ancient India is still open to debate(How does one explain the “Shudra” dynasties of the Nandas and the Mauryas ? The Christian Missionaries and Western Historians(both important tools of Western Imperialism) saw a great opportunity in the text to push their own “civilizing the heathen” agendas. The text seems to have so many contradictory statements that it may be impossible for it to be one man’s work. For all we know, the text might have been a sundry one.
The contemporary notions of caste in India is a British gift. The only two constant features of the caste system seem to be the brahmins and the “untouchables” that were outside the caste system. The other castes seem to have acquired varying degrees of prominence all through Indian History. The rise and fall in the prominence of these castes suggests a fluidity and movement in the caste hierarchy as opposed to the rigid classifications imposed by the British.
Of course, none of the above justifies or in anyway condones
the disgraceful humiliations and oppression being suffered by the Dalits in India. They have every right to protest the book and Abdul Kalam’s quote from it.
Friend, it is ridiculous to compare Manu with a dictator. Hitler brought a war, tried to exterminate races, and did many other things that can be called barbaric. Manu’s is totally a different case. To be frank, in my opinion, Dalits are enjoying a lot of rights in our country. No one stops them if they are determined to do anything. Please, if you have time, read about both of them and comment again.
If Manu Smriti is not relevent then how come it, by and large, mirrors Hindu society? of course barring the Western malefic influences like equality, freedom on present Hindu society.
First, before commenting on anything read the Text carefully. No work can be taken to absolute. You have to have timeframe in your in mind. When understanding a verse/sloka many people take the portion that suits their view. Manu didnot say that this has to be followed forever.
“If Manu Smriti is not relevent then how come it, by and large, mirrors Hindu society?”
It doesn’t “mirror” the Hindu society.
Agreed that there is a lot of puky stuff in the smriti. But you cant look at something written thousands of years back through the lens of today’s values, when the ideals of freedom and libertary and egalitarianism have gained wide ground. Remember that even in post renaissance Europe nazi phenomenon is only 60 odd years old, a very short period considering the scales of history. Its travesty to compare manu wid hitler. And there is nothing offensive in kalam quoting from the better parts of it.
Can we for eg condemn someone for quoting from the bible/kuran simply because it they have ideas of crusade/jihad, which have lead to unspeakable horrors committed by its apologists?
Refractor>>of course barring the Western malefic influences like equality, freedom on present Hindu society.
Are you a Xtian bigot?
Post-Colonial historians has clearly shown the root of Equality, freedom was NOT based on West, but has roots on ideas developed in the East much longer.
Colonialism is gone. But mental Colonialism, specially if its because of Money pumped in from West, still continues.
Refractor is one such Example – still believing in Western colonial polemic (alebit for making money):)-
Sanjeev Kumar>>Let us say the Author’s daughter was raped by a serial Rapist. But… This rapist also gave away alms to the beggars in teh street. Suppose the Government quotes this rapist as a Role model for charity, how would the author feel??
Is there any example from Indian history, that Manu’s law was enforced for punishment? Its not.
Again, My Comparision of Manu with Hitler was to drive home the Point that it is “NOT ACCEPTABLE” to Justify Kalam’s Reference to Manu on the basis that “Some Parts of it have relevance”.
The Point I am trying to make is that No Person or institution (Including Nazis) can be 100% Evil. There must be some value (Perceived value) to somebody for that person or Institution to gain a huge following. Hitler found resonance in the hearts of Germans pre-world war 2. At that point in time he seemed like a Messaiah. He brought social order,Economic stability and growth to the world-war 1 ravaged Germany. He re-kindled the pride in Germans.
But he had a darker side. When Germans realized the implications of the Nazi doctrine, they rejected Hitler totally. In Fact they repented. They did not go around saying that “Some parts of Hitler’s doctrine is good”, which in actuality might just be the case.They understand the pain and trauma the persecuted Jews feel by the mere mention of “Hitler”.
Hitler, to Jews, is no longer a Person. He is a Symbol of “Persecution”
So is the case for the Dalits in respects to Manu. He is not just a Person but a Symbol of “Centuries of Persecution”.
Any mention of Manu will open Wounds in the minds and Hearts of Dalits and backward castes. It will simply not further the cause of Integration of these sections into the national mainstream.
Hence, I would request the other bloggers to see the “Manu” episode in this context. Manu is anyhow a “Dead Horse”. He and his doctrines have no place in the modern mileau. Why support “sections” of manu?? To what End??
Is not the feelings and sentiments of 70% of your fellow countrymeny more important to you than the Man who lived and wrote over 3000 Years ago??
So I would urge you all to reject Manu in totality. This would not only further cause of National Integration But more so , would serve the cause of Hinduism.
Bhaskar Chatterjee, I think you are being Naive when U say >> Is there any examples in Indian History.
Ekalavya’s story is tale eloquent. The Notion of Ramarajya is based on the premise of Varnashrama which in a derivative of Manu Smrithi. The Indian Society still enforces Manu’s laws in Rural areas. Just that it is legally punishable now. Before the British, This was actively supported by the state (Read Kings).
I encourage you to read the plight of Dalits In the 18th Century in Maharastra and Kerala and the punishment meted out to Dalits for Voilation of the “Untouchability Code”. If you are a Person with your Heart, in the right place you cant help but feel Sick in your stomach.
As far as Kalam is concerned,as a person, I respect him a lot. But Any respect or admiration should not be Un-conditional. I am sure that Kalam did not intend to hurt the feelings of Dalits or Backward castes in any way. But his reference to Manu was unwarranted, and that is the whole Point.
I hope, my little note, opens a up another view-point, for everybody to consider. At the end of it, remember, we all love our Nation and Religion. Of Course it has defects and shortcomings. We as a ‘People’ should accept these and try to be sensitive to the feelings of “OUR” bretheren, rather than blame all and sundry (Chritians and Muslims) for everything.
It is for “OUR Generation” to be more sensitive and not play in to thestereotype of the Caste that we are born in.
Thanks for the correction.
The head lines in next days paper would be=
NUT SCREW’S AND BOLTS!
My Last Note on this Issue. Pardon me but I am passionate about this issue. With refernce to Koppal Haida’s
“But you cant look at something written thousands of years back through the lens of today’s values, when the ideals of freedom and libertary and egalitarianism have gained wide ground”
I totally agree with you. Manu’s work has failed the test of Time. It is irrelevant today.
On the other hand, consider Basavanna (The 12th Century Social Reformer in Karnataka). In fact he was living at a time when social values and attitudes were similar, in fact worse than the times of “Manu”. But he had the foresight and mental character to raise above the then prelevant attitudes and Mores.
Basavanna’s Philosophy and Vachanas have stood the test of time. In Fact the concepts of Equality, egalitarianism and freedom found its first practical application in the Hindu Society at the Anubhava Mantapa long before Rosseau and Voltaie advocated them in France.
Same is the case with Budha, Kanakadasa, Ambedkar and Ghandiji. They were not limited by the mores and values of their times. They had the courage to challenge what was inherrently wrong. That is why their Lives and works stand the test of time.
Going by your Line of argument, that you should look at things with reference to time that it was practiced in,You can Justify all the social evils like “Sati”, “Child Marraige” “Human Sacrifices” etc .
On the same point, If the issue in question is a thing of the past and is not relevent today, probably I could agree with you that we should look at that issue with reference to the Time-frame in which occured.
But Manu’s legacy is still haunting and tormenting the fabric of our nation. It has psychologically impeded 70% of today’s population.
It would not only be in-sensitive but also dangerous to stoke up the ghosts of Manu in any form whatsoever, at this point in our history, when we seem to be making gains on all fronts. Political, Economic and Social.
Mayawati’s election in UP, Our Country’s Impressive Economic performance, Mandalization of Our national polity are all Dots. It might seem that these dots are contradictory and have no relation. (Just like when you start to play Chukke Aata, all dots seem unrelated. But as You progress, in the game you figure out that dots are joined togather to complete the Chkke aata) You will see that in time to come these “DOTS WILL BE JOINED” to create a Vibrant, Stable, equitable India. Manu and his doctrines in whatever form does not have a place there.
Let’s admit it – Ambedkar screwed our constitution and made it one of the most archiac documents in the history of India. He is the rootcause for having all these problems in the country along with the womaniser – Pandit “Joker”lal Nehru.
We are the legacy holders for that along with so called Dalits – who crave for anything and everything free of cost!!
I’ve studied the Manu Smriti in translation. Its sophistication lies in the fact that is NOT a set of punitive recommendations as much as it is a philosophy of social order. It’s a rather profound document that reflects nuanced thinking.
Being some 2000 years old, it may be the world’s oldest normative theory of social order. We should celebrate it as a tremendous historical achievement if nothing else.
Critics of the Manu Smriti will do well to read the primary source (not commentary by others) before making unfounded or ideologically driven comments.
Sanjeev Kumar, You write well. Though I disagree about the extent of the influence of manusmriti on Hindu Society, there is no denying the reality that is untouchability. There can be no place for such a system in any civilized society.
The only thing that will destroy the caste system is rapid industrialization of rural India. Capitalist systems that promote extreme individualism will to a great extent destroy any need or desire for group think. Every individual in pursuit of his own greed and happiness will not have the time or the inclination for communal thinking. Greed will lead to greater co-operation.The more India remains an agrarian society , the same perpetuation of caste will continue. What a Socialist India ( group think) failed to erase can be done through a free market India .
yenakella solution this free market!! environment, society, education, health, wealth, sports … everything you can save.
what if free market theories only are a group think? aag yen maadodu?
yochney maadi swamee!! All systems are out to deny you opportunity. Caste system, Socialism, communism, organized religion: some baddi maga wants to control your choices and thoughts.
Individualism/self interest illadey creativity sonney. Creativity/Imagination is the foundation of all genius. There is no creativity without freedom to choose. There is no freedom to choose without equality in opportunity (not equality in distribution of the fruits of labor).
Only a capitalist/libertarian system guarantees the above.
i couldn’t get a hand on it, but there is a movie which points/gives a finger
How to find the economic centre
By Paul A. Samuelson
Yesterday’s Deccan Chronicle
When academic economic experts meet to talk, they automatically argue about what grades they will award to different countries and regions. It is an iffy guessing game. In the first decades after World War II, Germany, Japan, France and even Italy did well. So they earned A or A+ grades. Then, increasingly after 1960, new growth winners emerged: On the Pacific Rim, hot on Japan’s heels followed Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea.
In the European Union, core countries such as Britain, France and Italy began to lose the momentum that the successful American Marshall Plan had stimulated. Gradually Spain, Finland, Norway, along with Holland and Belgium, gravitated to being lead bicycle riders in the growth sweepstakes.
Which regions were notoriously absent from the good-news headlines?
Sadly, many of the African countries that newly got their independence degenerated into one-dictator regimes. And, alas, in the Mideast, except for places generously blessed with oil resources, both the economic and the political scenes have been pitiable.
In contrast to today’s positive growth in China and India, a couple of billion folk who lived in those places between 1950 and 1970 were faring badly when so many of their neighbours were developing so rapidly.
There is no mystery why mainland China stagnated miserably. Mao’s brand of communism was perpetually a dismal failure. Steel mills in the backyard were a joke — a bad joke.
Now we know what could not be understood back then: The Chinese population, given a chance to thrive in market economies, did possess tremendous potential. Mercantile successes by Chinese outside of China — in places like Malaysia and Indonesia — suggested strongly that the epoch after Mao’s death could be the great success that has actually taken place if only the market would be given a try.
The Indian story involves some essential differences. The British empire had brought considerable schooling to the Indian peninsula. After liberation from the empire in 1947, India’s great leader was the aristocratic Nehru, who favoured bringing from the West economic advisers steeped in British Labour Party Fabianism. Therefore, the Fairy Prince of the market mechanism was late in coming to awaken India from its sleep. But better late than never.
Economic history teaches no simple lessons. But the weight of past experience suggests strongly that one-party bureaucratic organisation of production and consumption does a bad job everywhere in giving people a good and growing standard of living.
Be warned, though. Don’t go from one extreme to another. No one knows better than 21st century economists that unregulated laissez-faire market mechanisms — unchecked by democratic governmental regulations and sensible macroeconomic policies — will generate both systemic income inequalities and boom-and-bust business cycles.
Before the 1929 Wall Street crash, pretty much pure capitalism prevailed, not only in America but also throughout the advanced West. Back then, before the age of penicillin and CAT scans and echograms, physicians also were limited in their ability to cure diseases and prolong quality of life.
Economic science was in a similar fix. It didn’t know then how to temper and attenuate the vicissitudes of economic fortune. That’s why economics had long earned the title the Dismal Science.
Personally, I knew all that well. The economic textbooks read at our top universities had little to say about the great worldwide depression as it worsened after 1929.
That was then. This is now. Probably France in the next few years will pick up steam under its new President, Nicolas Sarkozy. Fanatical US patriots will then say, “France’s new success comes from aping the American pattern.”
That’s a wrong interpretation. Yes, America’s business cycles have gentled down considerably. But this has been universally true. I’d prefer to say that such future French successes (if they materialise) are because they have begun to do some of the things that Ireland and Finland have been doing.
What are they? Among other things, the past activities of strong US trade unions dealing with Americans Fortune 500 corporations have vanished. Why? You might say that the AFL-CIO big unions committed suicide in the new free-trade globalised environment because every past union “victory” actually betokened a defeat, which speeded the exit of US auto, computer and myriad other manufacturing activities.
My sermon is not aimed at people outside America. Bush-Cheney Republicanism has been harmful in both Iraq geopolitics and its encouragement of corporate misgovernance. That’s why the Democratic Party is most likely to sweep our November 2008 elections.
In the present scenario, non-centrist wings of the Democratic Party can gain considerable advantage. Republican strategists hope they will grow. Since the US electorate has not turned leftish en masse to any appreciable degree, the best last hope of the Machiavellian Republicans is that 2008 Democratic candidates for office preach protectionism and anti-market phobia. Defining and reaching the optimal centre is not easy. And by definition, the centre is duller than the dubious extremes that surround it.
Two basic truths will dramatise this.
Pruning back the give-to-the-richest tax breaks of President George W. Bush will little affect America’s Schumpeterian innovation propensities. A good reason to do that pruning.
However, at best, most of the new inequalities traceable to globalised and internal free trade cannot be achieved by any feasible acts of good government.
Centrist improvements are important but modest. Dramatic proposals from either the left or right will once again be proved in the long run to be fools’ gold only.
Paul A. Samuelson, long-time professor of economics at the MIT, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1970
Manu Smrithi is not the code of law to be followed now. It is ‘Parasara Smrithi’.
I am honoured to be included in such a frank and free discussion of intelligent people having divers views. I would like to comment on various issues but at present I am busy with writing a book on caste system,including untouchability, so this subject comes handy.
I wish that any of the esteemed and honorable contributors were able to analyze the position of Chandals in Mnausmriti and find it out that how different it is from present. I will wait for the answer. I know it will be eternity before I get the answer. And which will be in affirmative.
For those who say one should go to original source/s , my question is whether they studied Pythagoras in Greek or according to some people in Sanskrit?
In fact there is no such thing as Shrutis. It can be proven with some rudimentary assumptions that the divine Vedas were, actually, written by human beings.
Melange, thanks for your appreciation. read below as to why I feel so strongly on this issue.
NS rao, I do not wish to Join issues with you on your comments about Dalits, Ambedkar and Nehru. I sympathize with your Intellectual bankruptcy. I Encourage you to connect more with the people around you, and if possible take a look how people live their Lives in a Village.
I was very much Dogmatic Like you at one point in time. All that changed when I was Posted to a Remote Taluk in Northern Karnataka for a year. The Vicious cycle of Caste, Debts, Bonded Labour, and the control it has on the destinies of Dalits and backward castes really shocked me. It is beyond beleif that such things can happen in this day and age. I would not have have beleived what I saw , had I not been there in First Person.
Of Course I ran away from all of it. I migrated out of the Country and am now Living comforatably Overseas. But That One Year Troubles me so Much even today. Even though I have all the material comforts and am thousands of miles away, It Haunts My concience. I always question myself whether I did the Right thing by “Running Away”.
I am even more troubled now. I thought that the phenomenon I saw was a result of remoteness and lack of Education and exposure.
But when I see Educated, Exposed, Netizens displaying this level of Insensitivity and lack of Understanding of the real magnitude of the problem, I am assured it is a more systemic Problem still deeply engrained in our National Conciousness.
I do not want to criticize any Bramhin or Upper caste member for the plight of dalits today. I do not even have issues with your views on Dalits. You are a product of your caste stereotype. You are expected by the Varna system to behave the way you do.
I can only encourage you to broaden your visison, Put Yourself in a dalit’s shoes and see the world without any pre-conceived notions.
Best of luck and cheers.
your point of view on Laize Fraire Theory is interesting. Adam Smith would have been proud of you.
But For free market to work properly, there should be equality of oppurtunities. The start Line should be the same for everybody. But In today’s Indian Society, The start Lines are staggered. A small section of the population are way ahead in the race, Not because of merit or the forces of Free Market, But because of “MONOPOLY” and “100% RESERVATIONS” for over 3000 years.
It is just in the past fifty years, that the other 70% of the Indian Population have had “equal Oppurtunities” ,Theorotically.
In such a context, advocating laizze Fraire Theory will lead to another round of “Indirect Exploitation of the Already Exploited” and deprieve them of their rightful share.
Hence, I think that that start-line needs to be Un-staggered First. Once everybody have access to good basic education, Health and food security, Then free market forces will work great.
Until then, I feel that the Dalits and Backward Castes need to have a “Group-Think” ,that gives them the communal Bargaining power to ensure that exploitation does not happen.
The Beauty of Democracy is that It Finds its own devices to ensure equality of oppurtunities. The Mandalization of Politics has ensured that the political power is vested with the Dalits and Backward Castes.
The Economic Liberalization with requisite regulatory framework and Political Oversight (Read Dalit and backward caste Oversight) has ensured that the resources for “Un-staggering” the start-Line are available while not pushing the “Advantaged Sections” (Read Foreward Castes) to Backwardness and perpetuating a “CYCLE” of exploitation.
In short, I support Free Market, But with strong “Political Oversight”. The composition of Indian demographics will ensure that the oversight rests with the “dalits and backward castes”, while the free market will initially be lead by “Foreward Castes”.
fantastically written. I agree with what you say. Nice set of arguments, especially basavanna one, without needless rhetoric. My efforts were never to justify what manusmriti says but just to say that it possibly potrayed the social conditions of those times(not kaalateeta of course) and therefore our observations have to be tempered to that extent. Apartheird existed not long ago and ive found that it is in a not too subtle form, if not with the same intensity during my trips to Europe, especially Germany and England(not london). (again my aim is not to justify anything but just to say that there may not be a blanket proscription for his casteist pronouncements and his other topics may be worth a reading)
gr8 observations on free market, especially on the individualism part. But as
observed in India(even with a controlled- free market), the people who were ‘haves’ , in terms of money and education, made the most of it, than the have-nots. As sanjeev puts it, start lines are not same for all.
Also, free market may lead to another kinda of exploitation. Assume that x is selling a product, which y also wants to sell. The best way to compete with X is to compete in terms of the costing.
Suppose Y achieves this,say,y underpaying labour(again whose rate is market controlled) or by employing child labour or by the employing latest equipments bought from funds that had its sources in narcotic trade in another country or by culling millions of innocent creatures for extracting a chemical. From the market theorist angle, Y’s product increases the choice for the consumers to buy a product by paying less. So no guilt will accrue to them if they buy Y’s products, however abominable the methods employed (except for stolen things,why? ).This is what has exactly happenned in the case of walmart. BBC recently beamed a documentary on the pitiable condtions of workers in a bangaldeshi factory, from where walmar was sourcing all its cheap goods.
>>Caste system, Socialism, communism, organized religion: some baddi maga wants to control your choices and thoughts.
In the free market, this baddi maga is the advertiser. He will create artificial necessity for his product in you. And will parade models on tv and set the artificial paradigms for leading life to sell his product, without meeting which you will die of inferiority.
So,to an extent, i would like to think of this free market thing as an institutionalisation of irresponsibility.
democracy is no panacea.70% population with power can do themselves all the good and deny the rest 30% all everything by legislation. And the lives of the rest will always lie in the hands of the arrogant 70%, a horrible situation to be in for the 30%. Probably this will pass muster as democratic apartheid then :)
“Not because of merit or the forces of Free Market, But because of “MONOPOLY” and “100% RESERVATIONS” for over 3000 years.”
The above argument is too simplistic. Let us break it down. “Success” as defined in our material world is through two things: opportunity and effort/inclination. Even if your ancestors were privileged ( opportunity) there is no certainity that you will be “successful”(inclination/effort). So yes, there is such a thing as effort/Merit. The problem here is confusing the two: opportunity and effort.
Further, your forefathers being rich and privileged 3000 yrs ago does not mean that you will retain those riches today!! This notion of continuation of privilege does not hold water.There are plenty of poor people in those categories that you accuse of monopoly that lack opportunity today.
You may be right if you argue that Education was a monopoly for 3000 yrs. But what did an education get you in ancient India? There was no “knowledge based economy” at the time. All the money was in trade and Land holdings.
Now, the problem of opportunity. India still operates under the socialist/casteist mindset. How else does one explain 6 IIT’s for a nation of a billion? billions of dollars for a plane that can barely fly (Tejas LCA) and pussy nukes, but no money to attract top talent to teach in rural schools!!
The forms of government India has adopted has miserably failed her people. There will be no equality in opportunity unless there are a million IIT’s/universities in every state; No equality untill every village has a school with talented people teaching kids; No Equality till the government ENFORCES the law regarding caste discrimination. With some imagination, there can be plenty for everybody. But, alas!
The sort of “oversight” that you advocate is what led to the mess in the first place. If you observe carefully, you will notice a lot of similarities between the caste system and Socialism. This is precisely why the Indian mind exhibits such an obscene proclivity towards socialist and leftist ideologies!!
“There are plenty of poor people in those categories that you accuse of monopoly that lack opportunity today.”
I totally agree with you. But there is difference between this category of poor people and the “Other Category” of poor people who belong to the dalit/Backward classes.
The difference is that in the case of the former, The socio/religious/political mechanisms did not prevent them from upward mobility. It is because of the lack of Inclination/effort to seize the oppurtunities that were available, that they find themselves in that situation today.
In the case of the latter, the religion forbade them from accessing Oppurtunities. Due to the unholy nexus between religion and state these restrictions were legally enforced by the state. In fact hevy punishment was meted out to dalits who accidently heard the chanting of Vedas. Due to the rigid stratification of the caste system and the immutable nature of the caste system, A Dalit would have been forced to Lift “Human Excreta” even if he had the inclination or the capability to Invent the “Laws of Gravitation”.
Even today in a typical Indian Village (where 80% of our population still reside), If an Entrepreunal Dalit Opens a Little Hotel, Do You think the other sections of the villagers will go and eat in that Resturant??
In terms of perpetuity, Due to the reaons cited above, the psyche of the Dalit is battered. Historically culturally and psychologically he is conditioned to beleive that he is inferior in all respects. Neither does he have the Economic sustenance not the social and political networking that is required to seize the oppurtunities that presents itself.
In order to overcome these limitations, You need three generations in a family to be educated and have reasonable income and quality of life.
Expecting an un-educated Dalit from a village (And he has remained so ,not because of lack of Effort/Inclination, But because he and his fore-fathers have been locked out of all oppurtunities) to suddenly wake up and run a race against persons who have an history of wealth, education, access and network is really being Naive.
It is the for Government to ensure that these sections of the society are empowered to participate in the building of the nation. That is only possible through affirmartive action in favour of the dalits and backward castes.
Remember Melange,A successfull free market economy is always preceeded by a bout of socialism. Socialism broadens the spectrum and number of people who are capable of seizing the oppurtunities when Free Market kicks in.
Britan France, Germany, Italy have all had socialist governments that had put in welfare measures to broaden the net of people who can contribute to the free market.
So is the case with China and India, the new rising economies. Both have had a period of socialism that created the necessary pre-conditions to facilitate free market.
“Socialism and Casteism are the same”
I agree with You. Socialism in India is inextricably linked to the Caste system. In fact Lohia has explained this phenomena beautifully. In India the HAve-Nots are the “Dalits and Backward castes” and Haves are the foreward Castes. (well ,there might be exceptions, but generally this is true).
And it is the Job every socialist Goverment to ensure that the gap between the Have’s and HAve Not’s is bridged.
Also the difference between the Socialists and Communits is that Socialists do not believe in “Revolution”. Socialist do not want the “Haves” to become “Have Not”‘s. their interest is in levelling the playing field without a drastic revolution. They beleive in affirmative social and economic interventions in favour of the Have Not’s. Socialist are not gainst Market Economy. In Fact they facilitate market economy, as it provides the resources for affirmative action in favour of teh HAve Not’s
Finally, this may sound bizzare and Ironical. The only benifit of the Caste syetem to the Dalits and Backward Castes, is the Caste itself. It is in their interests that their United bargaining power be maintained. They should negotiate with the Free Market forces to ensure that playing feild is levelled and that is possible only if they have collective bargaining power.
In a democracy this collective bargaining power translates to Elections and formation of Goverments and thus control over policies.
It is in this context that I said “Free Market” with Oversight.
“It is because of the lack of Inclination/effort to seize the oppurtunities that were available, that they find themselves in that situation today.”
You completely forgot financial poverty.
“The difference is that in the case of the former, The socio/religious/political mechanisms did not prevent them from upward mobility.”
I agree here. Their financial condition might.
“Neither does he have the Economic sustenance not the social and political networking that is required to seize the oppurtunities that presents itself.”
I think the whole problem in India today is due to political networking. This notion of creating opportunity only for those that are a majority ( no matter who) is what leads to oppression in the first place. Opportunity should be seperated from Politics. There should be plenty for everybody.
I disagree about socialism being a pre-cursor to Market economy. You exhibit a contradiction here, while at one hand agreeing over socialism and caste and then suggesting that Socialism can bring about equality.
There is no need for affirmative action if there were proper basic education , plenty of universities and good law enforcement. This is the core issue. This lack of plenty is because of Socialism. If India had adopted a system of building enough schools, colleges through free enterprise, this issue would have resolved itself a long time ago. Shortage in India is the creation of every leftist government since Independence. it behoves them to do so to create an aggrieved populace which can then be politically exploited. The left every where thrives on creating victims and artificial shortage.
I believe that the state should never discriminate for or against anybody. For that matter I could argue that reservation is also another systematized form of denial of opportunity to some sections of the people. You perpetuate the same cycles of hate, instead of breaking it.
I’m looking at a complete solution, not just a piece-meal one. Yes, better schools, financial support , tough laws and it’s enforcement against discrimination(all actions of a welfare state), for dalits. But, equal opportunity should disguise itself as the distribution of the fruits of labor/effort.
“But, equal opportunity should disguise itself as the distribution of the fruits of labor/effort.”
Please read the above as:
“But, equal opportunity should NOT disguise itself as the distribution of the fruits of labor/effort.”
What is the big fuss about Smriti? Read it in context of time and thought process of that time. It will be clear why and how the thoughts in mriti were formulated. We do not have to be judgemental about an ancient Hindu doctrine.
There is no contradiction is what I have said. Casteism is a reality in India. It cannot just be wished away. We have to accept that we are in a Casteist society.
Lohiaite Socialism recogonizes the existence of caste and provides mechanisms through which the inequalities of caste system can be reduced. It does not aim to eliminate Caste system, Which in my opinion is the most practical way to deal with casteism. It provides mechanisms to empower the lower castes socio-economically.
Doing away with Caste System is impossible just by embracing free market. Caste system is very complex and includes Social,Cultural, Spiritual and Economic parameters. Economics (Free market that you profess) is just one parameter in the mix.
Until the In-equalities imposed by the Caste system are not completely removed, It is in the Interest of the Dalits and Backward castes to Maintain the caste system. It gives them a Collective bargaining power.
“There is no need for affirmative action if there were proper basic education , plenty of universities and good law enforcement”
Practically, to reach a stage when there is plenty for 1 Billion People, atleast 750 million should be productive. How do you do that ?,when 700 Million people belong to Dalits/Backward Castes and are not equipped to be productive??
For Arguments Let us say you open enough schools, How will the dalits and Backward Castes and the “poor in the foreward castes” pay for the School. They Cannot. Hence By the definition of MArket economics, even if there is supply (Schools) there will not be any demand (Students, as 70% cannot afford it). So by the very law of free market, These schools will close down. You will end up with just enough schools for those who can pay. This will keep 70% out of the schools and hence out of the Productive Group.
It is a Chicken and a Egg story. How do You solve this problem? For the country to be sustainable you need 70% of the people productive. But 70% of the people cannot afford schooling and hence cannot become productive.
The simple answer is Education should be made “Free”. In fact it is not “Free” in the real sense. It is a long Term Investment!!
And Free Education is a Socialist Intervention.
That is what Socialism is all about. It is making long term investments on its people. A capatilist Government can never make these investments as it is focussed on ROI.
Once these Investments are made due to socialist Interventions, You end up in a state where there are a lot of trained resources but no Jobs!!!
A Socialist Mind-set cannot create Jobs. They do not know how to attract capital and grow it!!
People get fed up with Socialism (Even those who benifited from it). They need Jobs. They need Money. They opt for People who can Give them these.
It is at this time that Free Market and Free Enterprise Kicks In!! They Utilize the “Cheap Resources” and make profits. These Profits trickle down and create Buying power. It creates a Middle Class. This ensures that more production and services are required. The Cycle continues and leads to the “Plentiful” that you speak of.
In other words Socialism Provides the “Seed Capital” for the Free Market Economy to work.
If you follow the Indian Chineese Growth Story , You can find Parallels.
Really thought provoking and enriching posts !!!
Just wish the likes of Bhaskar C and NSRao keep their mouths shut for some more time…so that we can read ur great posts…..melange ahs put some really good and valid points as well…..
Got this link to the book Annihilation of Castes by Dr BR Ambedkar……
I am still waiting for Bhaskar Chaterjee, NS Rao, Manu Himself, Mohan , Raviraj Valalmbe Gowda, Nilgriva, Gouri Satya ,Venkat and others to come refute my comments. Do I have to wait till eternity? I was under the impression I was discussing the issue with intelligent people.
I agree with you on some form of government intervention in providing free education and healthcare. But, the Indian state has had 60 yrs to do it, and I haven’t heard good things about government run k-12 schools in India.
60 years should be enough time to build a fantastic education system. The result of such “socialist intervention ” is there for all to see :-) Perhaps, if the government awarded contracts to companies to run schools and set up a public monitoring system, the results would be much better. All those DRDO/PSU dollars will be of some use.
Your forget another very important point. In keeping the system as it is and in creating a gazillion identities, you create tremendous divison, and hence conflict. You do not provide an incentive for the political class to end the system. it might be okay for now, But, the future will bring lots of ethnic conflict.
There is no doubt that tax money and laws have to be used “EFFECTIVELY” to reach those that need a level playing field. But, Socialist means of getting there will go no where. Socialist systems have no accountability, and provide no incentive to perform. Further, it seeks to control people’s choices and hence is another form of dictatorship(e.g China).
Lastly, all systems have inequality inherent in them, from capitalism to communism. But, the greatest opportunity and freedom lies in a capitalist system, with some governemnt money for education, healthcare (contracts to companies) and the enforcement of the laws.
Melange et all,
I just happend to come into this blog just now after quite some time and hence the delay in reply. My apologies.
Coming to the issue of my scathing attack on Ambedkar is not because of the fact that he tried to bring in prosperity to backward communities or tried to abolish casteism. It is because of the fact he wrote the constitution just to appease the oppressed community without forward thoughts.
If ever the constitution was written in such a way that the privileges were given to those who were underprivileged irrespective of caste, I would have been the happiest person. But it looks like they (Ambedkar’s team) took only caste into consideration and that too this has been propagated to multiple generations.
Why did they not think of providing privileges to one generation and remove it from the next ones? This could keep one person getting the benefits on his / her toes and try hard to make use of the benefits. Such being the case, the benefits could be passed on to others too.
I know a bunch of guys who are really well off, travelling by car getting scholarships based on caste – whereas a deserving guy who comes to college on legs is left to fend for himself. How correct is this?
Whatever be your thoughts buddy, I do stick to mine and it is there to stay. I care 2 hoots to your thoughts on Ambedkar. If I do see anyone practising untouchability, I am the first one to react and take to task the person practising it. My contempt is only towards Ambedkar for his thoughts and not directed against anybody irrespective of their caste.
Thanks a Million for the Link. I had read “Annhilation of Castes” when I was in the University. Reading it now gave totally new perspective If only others take the time and read it!!
I think we are coming round to the same view. Once it is funded by the Goivernment, It is a Socialist/Welfare Measure. The mode of implementation is immaterial. Government Oversight is MAndatory.
As a Matter of fact , When I was in India, the SM Krishna Goverment contracted APTECH and NIIT to implement the “Mahiti Sindhu” Programme. This programme was supposed make all High School Students I.T. Literate. But the Programme FAiled Miserably. So ……
Though It could have been better, In The 50 Years of Independent India, More Indians were educated than all the 4000 years of our recoreded History put togather. Our Literacy rate Jumped from 23% Pre-Independance to Over 58%.
So It is incorrect to say that We have not done anything
The Marvels of the Indian I.T success story is rooted in all the educated persons that were produced post Independence.
@Sanjeev & Koppal Haida, thanks for posting good arguments and information. Sanjeev, very good observation about Basavanna’s Anubhava Mantapa which was essentially an open forum for people from all castes and class. Hard to believe it was over 800 years ago, long before the renaissance or the age of reason in Europe.
@Melange, is there an example of a society that has followed free-market policies all along achieving not just economic growth but development also? Without favourable starting conditions (as pointed out by Sanjeev) your version of free-market system in India will lead to predatory capitalism, monopolies, cartels and deep inequalities (both economic and social). Look at the side effects of economic liberalisation. Most of the benefits have been reaped by college educated people and the economic disparity is on the rise.
“The mode of implementation is immaterial. ”
The devil is always in the details. Execution is everything in life. Concepts are easier to think of. A system that cannot execute ( Socialism) is a failure. You have the right intentions, but they will go no where without a system for efficient execution.
“Government Oversight is MAndatory.”
Such oversight in corrupt third world countries(India) will only make things worse. Any oversight if neccessary should come from outside the government .
The notion of “starting conditons” is silly and is an excuse to enforce a socialist dictatorship on the people. It only arises because of an inefficient socialist system of 60 yrs. Socialism in India killed creative spirit and innovation. It perpetuated the caste system and would have done so forever had not V.P. Singh Bankrupted the country(1991). The same old mantras of Government intervention in everything from soaps to determining the color of one’s underwear ain’t going to solve shit.
Had India been a market economy(hence fair opportunity for all, not just some IAS officer in delhi and his minister.) since 1947, the caste system would have long died. The resulting industrialization would have killed the agrarian system on which the caste system is based. Just look no further than Japan and it’s transformation from a feudal system in the 1800s to an equitable society in the 21st century.
But, nevermind, the Indian mind is petty ,myopic and very sick. it fucking stinks. Nothing will ever happen here. Those that suffer will continue to do so for eternity. Thanks all, for your comments and apologies for the offense, if any.
After Melange’s comments, I have nothing more to say!! I rest my case here.
There is just one God in Hinduism Narayan or Vishnu or Krishna as you may choose to call Him by. And only one book that contains His words, ShrimadBhagavad Gita. Scan the whole book you will not find caste discrimination. I hope this is enough to advocate what i am saying