My Views

Hereditary Politics in India

Posted in Insight, Polity by dullar on January 14, 2011

PATRICK FRENCH in an interview to a magazine recently, while commenting about his new book said,

…..”I was quite surprised by the results when I did that survey of the Lok Sabha. I did not expect the data to be so overwhelming—the  fact that, for example, every MP under the age of 30 is hereditary. I don’t think it’s a bad thing having political families in any democracy. The problem really is the scale of what is happening. For instance, the quite inspiring grassroots leaders who came up in the past—certainly in the Congress—would have no chance of winning a ticket for a Lok Sabha seat now. You have this ironic situation where democracy is deeply entrenched and yet, at the same time, for the top reaches of certain parties, you have to be the son or daughter of an existing leader in order to get anywhere.”

And still Rahul Gandhi often gabble about the new line of leadership which has its inspiration and roots in youth of this country. He talks about the how youth should participate more in the party affairs. For what? As they know success in the politics is more about the family affiliations, godfathers, and hereditary genealogies rather than hard work and merit.

Politics is not a career in this country as there is no level playing field in here. Why do people shy away from entering the politics? Why is there a dearth of political talent in this country of overflowing academic talent?


Trends in Indian Election Politics

Posted in Polity, Reality Check by dullar on March 10, 2009

It has been quite a long time since the coalition politics, backed by a fragmented electorate,has descended in the political scene in India and political alliances to gain power have been the order of the day. Political parties with different colours and hues devise different strategies to lure the voters and align with other political parties across regional affiliations. Here are some of the general observations about the new age political scenario in India:

1) Accept it or not INC (Indian National Congress) and BJP (Bhartiya Janta Party) are the only two truely national parties. Dont go into definitions. Others small national parties and state parties align with these two political parties to gain power in State Assembly and the Lok Sabha. Although few political parties like CPI and CPI(M) are trying to build athird alternative, called Third Front, for some time. But it has met a limited success as far as bringing different regional political parties under one umbrella.

2) National parties are getting weaker day by day and the regional and state parties are becoming stronger. It can be easily concluded by the fact that two biggest national parties only come to form government when the regional and state parties support them with required simple majority arithmatic.

3) There is a much competition among all political parties to forge pre poll alliances in the wake of forthcoming general elections. But as far as the profits and losses of these alliances are concerned different parties are at different angle of the recieving end. National parties expose weaknesses and unpopularity in the states when they go and bargain seat sharing with the state parties. The electorate is slowly shifting towards the regional and state parties in the long term. See the recent case when the long standing alliance between BJD and BJP fell flat for the want to bigger pie of the Lok Sabha seats.

4) State elections are fought on the grounds of performance of the sitting government and the anti-incumbency rules is not always followed. The third term of Congress government in Delhi is just one example. Incumbent governments in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh came into power for second time.Yes this is again debatable, but fact remains fact. The economic liberalisation and reform preiod sice last decade has given much needed financial leverage to the states and with their economies the governeance is slowly improving. The incumbent government which passes the fruits of modernisation to its public increases its chances to retain power.

5) The key issues thus are good governance, economic development, basic infrastructure (roads, power, water), job creation amd corruption free administration.

6) The role of identity is ubiquitous in the polity of this nation in both physical and temporal framwork. Caste plays (as always) deciding role in getting the election ticket and getting the vote. Different political parties take due care infielding their candidates and it largely depends uponthe caste and indentity demographics of the constituency. There has been different blocs of forward castes, backward castes, reserved castes and now newly formed block of Economically backward castes (EBCs). Caste factor play a very important role in alliances of different blocs. Muslims form a different bloc of votes.

7) Rise of BSP is a new development in the Indian Polity, especially after the last UP elections. It has managed to pull together the forwar cates and the reserved castes to sideline the backwar castes in the state of UP and the strategy has brough immense results for the BSP supremo Ms Mayawati. Now she is all set up to replicate the model in other states where there is a sizable reserved castes population like Maharastra.

New strategies has to be carved out by all the political parties if they want to remain afloat. Voter of 21st century India is more smart than his fore fathers. Some issus like, roti, kapda, makaan has always been the there for every election this counrty has witnessed but the realm of their definitions has changed in the modern liberalised world. The recession hit economy has added its share of challenges for the parties. No matter what part mere politics play in the reuls of the elections but the party which goes to the voters banking upon its past performance and futuristic agenda will have greater chances to be rewarded. By the way, no one can deny the possibility of last minute chaos of post polls alliances, political bargaining and horse tradig among the elected candidates.

Secularism? Shourie vs Sachar

Posted in Politicians Speak, Polity, Religion, Religion and Politics by dullar on January 23, 2008

Two are among foremost of the intellectuals of the present day, one is jurnalist turned politician, other former CJ,
but two has expressed diammetrically opposite views about what hinduism is all about. I think Shourie has covered a
long path in his transformation into a politician and has kind of shed the neutral, unbiased principles that
represeted the journalism of his age. He is still blunt, he is reactionary, he is still extreme, although tilted
towards the political ideology of a political party and its mentors. Sachar on other hand has kind of upheld the
constitutional principles of secularism and given some reasons that these principles are not mere rhetoric in modern
day polity of country but the fundamental basis of youthful and fast paced all round development of world's
oldest civilization and a 21th century nation.

I would not like to reproduce the entire articles but will definately like to compare the concluding paragraphs of
the same.

Shourie concludes…

…."Every set of scriptures has in it enough to justify extreme, even violent reaction. The tectonic
shift in the Hindu mind, that has been going on for 200 years, is being underestimated"….(more)

Rajendra Sachar laments Shourie in what he concludes as..

…."I am firm in my conviction that any attempt to dilute the composite culture and inclusive democracy of
our country can only bring harm. As Maulana Azad's soul-stirring speech (1940) put it, "I am a Muslim and
proud of the fact. I am indispensable to this noble edifice. Without me this splendid structure of India is
incomplete. Everything bears the stamp of our joint endeavour. Our languages were different, but we grew to use a
common language. Our manners and customs were different, but they produced a new synthesis… no fantasy or
artificial scheming to separate and divide can break this unity"…. (more)

Left In Limbo

Posted in Foreign Policy, India and World, Polity, Relations with neighbours by dullar on January 16, 2008

Left is running for a cover and searching a new ideological stand to oppose the Indo-Us Nuclear deal after the latest development in the Indo-Chinese relationship with PM winding up a successful chinese state tour. What India gains from the tour are – 1) Increased warmth in Indo-Chinese relationship in a multi dimensional manner, 2) Assurances from China that it will look Indo-Us nuclear deal from a new, friendly, and optimistic perspective, and not merely as a step in the direction of Chinese containment on the part of Washington, 3) Increased credibility of Manmohan Singh government as upholding the basic principles of India’s independent foreign policy, 4) Boosting of confidence of Government to present the deal to the left coalition in a more emphatic way, when left will listen to it more seriously, 5) Increased chances of bargainning India specific norms in talks with IAEA and guidlines of NSG, 6) With border talks now on being conducted with a new vigour and on practical and friendly terms, India’s policy of maintaining a peaceful periphery will get a new zeal. 7) Calming the political and strategic atmosphere in Asia and China visualising India in a new perspective.

Although Manmohan Singh realises the compulsions of a coalition government and parliamentary democracy, the easing of China’s stand on the nuclear deal will give some breathing spcae to the government and its efforts to bring left on board will definately get a confidence. Left again has a chance to ease their opposition to the deal and help government to bring India at a respectable and deserved place on the nuclear energy map of the world. With China sharing the concerns of climate change, sustainable clean energy, and a shared vision of economic and political well being of two great rising powers of Asia, the leftist politics of oppostion and blackmailing should yield to common good of the country by pulling back all its reservations about the nuclear deal 

Caste Determinism

Posted in Caste, Polity, Society by dullar on April 26, 2007

Determinism means — a philosophical theory holding that all events are inevitable consequences of antecedent sufficient causes; often understood as denying the possibility of free will. Caste determinism is a kind of cultural determinism according to which caste considerations take precedence against all other factors in deciding the public relations, policy making and conduct of democratic life in India. Dipankar Gupta in his enlightening piece of writing describes how caste determinism works against democracy, no matter who the beneficiaries might be. He writes,

…..Crude determinism in all forms endangers democracy. Economic determinism gave socialism a bad name and eventuallydismantled the mighty Soviet Union. Even the charismatic intellectual reputation of Karl Marxwas belittled by the dogmatic material determinismof latter -day Marxists. By the same token, let not caste slurs and sneers, and a few tarnished pieces of political silver, undermine over hard-earned democracy…..

It is well known and much debated a issue that how the caste and its social and political repercussions has grossly divided the well woven fabric of our society. Of late much politicisation of the caste issues and the whole reservation matters has gathered big storm all over the country. Reading at the lines above and the whole article of Dipankar Gupta iwould like to highlight an another fine point about “power” in society. From a deterministic stand and taking dialectic point of view of Marx and Max Weber defines power as

“that opportunity existing within a social relationship which permits one to carry out one’s own will even against resistance and regardless of the basis on which this opportunity rests”

Caste in mordern day Indian political perspective is a tool to assert the dominance of one group over the other in making concessions available to its own people. By this logic caste is inherently a divisive concept. This is the tool used by political leaders inorder to gain vote banks of any particular caste. This is the tool, which when qualified with prefix of “backward” along with term class (social grouping in economic terms) is used by people in order to gain otherwise legitimate constitutional concessions. Backwardness is a tool, it is a permanent qualification which is gained on the basis of “birth” according to Hindu Caste System, which the people are not ready to leave and in fact are fighting to attain.

There is much worry among the more enlightened and more intellectual among the learned people in this country as what should be or would be the possible solution to stop the rapidly furthering casteist divisions in the society. The answer to that lies in the process which makes the casteist affiliations redundant in order to gain political, economic, social and educational rewards. This will be done while we march steadily on the path of euitable development and also in making extending the opportunities of excelling without concessional overtones. What i mean to say here can be more understandable by the example of providing quality education at all levels. Provide equitable, well extended, quality education to each and every section of society at the primary and secondary levels so that the class/caste differences in performances and merit do not creep in at the university levels.

There is no denying to the fact that caste determinism is there in our society. And i say there is no point in discussing it. Accept it. And make efforts in ofer to challenge it in future. The acedemicia and intellectuals of our country have much to do in order to pull the efforts to their logical and desirable ends.

Reservation for OBCs – Possible Solution

Posted in Caste, Insight, Policy, Polity by dullar on April 25, 2007

Validity of reservations for OBC in the higher education has attracted the maximum attention from all sections of society since past many months. Student agitations, doctors protest, executive-judiciary conflict have all been the part of this drama. With government has already amended th constitution and has come up with an act regarding the same, judiciary has acted on the PILs and raised serious doubts over the constitutionality of the reservation for OBCs. It will be better to discuss each and everything separately.

  • Reservations for OBC-validity of concept.

Makers of the constitutions has made various provisions for the positive discrimination and affirmative action under articles 15(4) and 16(4). It is well understood that the makers of constitution at that time carried the will of people. Even Supreme Court do not questions the concept of reservations for the socially and educationally backward.

  • Need of Reservation in Higher Education

Given the fact that there is already a reservations for SCs/STs in the higher educational institutions, then what is the need of extending it to OBC as well. The answer to it pertains to politics rather than the reality and need. Given that in 1992, reservations was brought at the first time in services under Art 16(4), and SC/ST, OBC were given reservations in the central and state public services, it swung the political vote banks in favour or against few political parties. It was a tool to gather the votes of OBC by putting them in the reservation bracket.

But over the last about one and a half decade, the number of jobs in organised public sector has decreased many folds. Even though the total numbers of jobs in public services in 1992 was also not much but it was certainly more than present . Further more the welfare that was aimed by giving reservations in services was only of token value and didnt meant much beyond a political rhetoric.

Present government has once again wanted to play the caste card and tried to lure the middle classes of OBC through extending the reservations to educational institutions because the avenues in public services are very meagre.

If we look at the reality over the reform period the conditions of middle classes, or say OBCs have improved substantially. They have benifited from the overall development of country and at the same time are also contributing to it. Social backwardness doesnt mean much in today’s economy driven society. As far as educational backwardness of OBCs is concerned that can be tackled by government at various levels and reservations in higher educational institutions can also be explored, but in a fair manner. A bottom’s up approach will do the country more good rather than pushing for peace-meal solutions.

  • Who are OBCs?

Latest NSSO report says the OBC are around 40% of the total population. Governement has relied on a very old data of 1931 census. The validity of this census has evoked maximum protest from the different sections of the society. It must be known that the backwardness is decided on the twin principle of social and educational backwardness. Supreme court has also asked government to come up with latest data in order to support its argument of 27% OBC reservation.

  • Question of Creamy Layer.

The governmen’s decision to implement the quota in educational institutions without delineating the creamy layer has been the eye of whole storm. Government’s stand that in educational institutions there is no need of delineating creamy layer has been ludicruous and unqualified. In fact such a thing will make mockery of whole concept of creamy layer. Court has asked the government to come up with latest figures as who and how constitutes the creamy layer.

  • Need for Caste based Census.

It remains ununderstood that why the government is shying away from a cast based census. It argues that such a process will divide the whole society and country on caste lines. Is this argument not funny? Is soceity presently no divided on caste lines? It will be in our wisest interest if will face this disease on our face rather than turning overselves away. Gail Omvedt has tried to put this argument sighting example of US where too a race based census took place. It is of utmost necessity that we diagnose the disease before addressing it.

  • Reservations and Merit

The argument that bringing reserations to institutes of higher education, especially institutes of excellence will make their cutting edge blunt. But this assumes the fact the merit lies in only in certain section of society. If the merit is decided only on the basis of certain all india tests then it will not be hasr to imagine that economically and socially forward sctions of students will out-perform their backward brothers. It is a well known fact that IQ and intelligence is a function of environmental and social factors. Its “nurture” which is more important than “nature”. Reservations is a tool which addresses such issues. If the matter is about the excellence and merit then respective institutions should decide a particular percentage, that students below which will not be entertained even though seats are unfilled. Such a thing is done in IITs. Like they dont let in SC/ST students which do not score above a benchmark level, even though seats remain vacant. Apart from it special coaching can be provided to backward sections of students in order to tackle the examination in a better way.

Final solution lies in the hands of judiciary. CJI has intervened yesterday and allowed an early hearing of the case on May 8th. Given that government is hell bent to get the reservations through the test of equality and justice and people are holding their positions, it will be of utmost importance that how judiciary upholds constitutionality and reasonableness of reservations.

Human Trafficking- Recent Shocker

Posted in Polity, Reality Check, Society by dullar on April 20, 2007

The recent arrest of Member of Parliament, the highest law making institution of Indian Republic, in Human Trafficking case has come as a shocker to whole nation, and the whole incident has brought disgrace to its people. When law maker are the law breakers, what example they set for others. More shocking is the fact that he couldnt not be cought till this incident. Everytime either he used to throw dust in official’s eyes, or there may be a underground conspiracy when immigration officials themselves are involved in the whole thing. They are guilty of neglegence at duty to say the least. It is also the classic example of how VIPs make use of their status in order to indulge in influential criminal acts. They are misusing their privileges in order to make short cut money in huge proportions.

The magnitude of Human Trafficking in South Asia, including the counteries of Bangladesh, pakistan, Nepal, India is so much that they figure in US’s Special Watch List on Human Traffcking in 2006. A Trafficking in Persons Report 2006 prepared by US Department of State has also raised serious concerns about the growing tentacles of this worldwide menace.But the point is why is there so much of cases in South Asia. No doubt that level of poverty in these counteries is mcuh to blame upon but individual counteries has not been able to make enough stringent laws and at the same time there are serious implementation issues. South Asian Countries were ruled by England till few decades back and millions of labourers migrated then to work in foreign counteries rules by Britishers.The legacy is still continuing in South Asian counteries when the people settled in other counteries are facilitating the migrations, both legally and illegally. People from India(states of Punjab, Kerala, West Bengal, Gujarat, UP etc) are ready to do anything in order to land in offshore counteries. In Punjab being an NRI is a dream of every child. Poor are lured by middle men, that they will have a bright future in foreign counteries, they pay hefty amount of money for that, and in end they find themselves in deplorable conditions, specially women and children are worst suferes.

The solution for this problem lies in multi-pronged strategy. One is to adhere to “three P’s”- prosecution, protection, and prevention. make stringent laws, prosecute the guilty in earliest possible time, protect the people from falling trap to middle-men, and in in long term make preventive measures. These will include making people more aware, creating opportunities for them of sustainable employment or livelihoods, improving the conditions of Women etc.The report also mentions a victim-centered approach to trafficking which requires us equally to address the “three R’s”- rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration, of the victims.

Tilted Roof?

Posted in Polity, State by dullar on April 8, 2007

Democracy of India is said to be lying on the roof which is supported by four pillars. These are government(executive), legislature, judiciary, and tradition. India as one nation is stading on this roof and it is for the good of everybody that the roof remains level and strong. But of late there is a pan-India debate that how successful these pillars has been in making the roof stable and level. Sometime there is tussle between legislature and other time that is between executive and judiciary. The latest stay that SC have put on the OBC quotas in higher educational institutions has left government kind of frustrated. Not many days back, SC’s verdict that 9th schedule is not out of the perview of judicial review had also made the air between judiciary and executive uneasy. Government’s opinion about the whole issue was conveyed by Mr Manmohan Singh today. He said the writ of mandamus is applied quite often by the SC and termed it as its over-reach in executive matters. CJI balakrishnan has been quoted as saying “The application to judicial review to determine constitutionality of the legislation and to review the executive decision sometimes creates tension between the judge and the legislative and the executive branch. Such tension is natural and to some extent desirable.” Again the degree of the extent of the desirability is an issue of debate.

Regarding the OBC quota issue, goverment is right in its own place that a caste census at this juncture in democracy is not desirable and will have its own consequences. These relate to hightened sense of intra-caste rift and such caste consciousness do not auger well for the fraternity of this country. But without a credible census how come government will decide about the extent of backwardness and the limit for the creamy layers. If govermnet is really sincere about the welfare and socio-educational justice for the downtrodden of this country then it shoul make sure that genuine fruits of the reservation reach the point where they are targetted. SC itself has said that it is not against the basic principle of the reservation and the concept of affirmative action/positive discrimination in favour of socially and educationally backward classes.A caste census entails its own disadvantages like, there are no castes in Islam, but are entitled for the reservation. Term caste and class are very confusing and its hard to conclude a trade off between the two.

As far as the balance between judiciary and executive are concerned, democracy has evolved to conclude the debate on its own, but the course of action is the matter of attention for all of us to see.

Cast(e) The Vote

Posted in Caste, Insight, Polity, Society by dullar on December 7, 2006

Is caste system real reason behind the agitation of dalits which rocked the nation from villages to parliament recently. It is not probably. The social and ritual basis of caste has become too old and sure to die a slow death, if not now, but surely in near future. In the social sphere, it is an issue, which has become very obscure and economic modernisation and process of globalization has kind of engulfed it. But in the political sphere the issue is much younger and has really become monster headed hydra with its tentackle spread all across the country. If there is common basis for the political parties and a common ideology for them, it is issue over caste and their percieved self interest under the garb of people’s conviction and interests. If Ambedkar’s presence is more felt than Gandhi and his ideas still guide the people’s actions and thinking intoday’s India then it is only because politics of this country is guided by votes and which, primarily on caste based manouvering. Reservation issue is another hot bed of caste based politics. Every repurcussion, good or bad emanates from these very basic facts. Media has a very obvious role in educating and awaring people about the whole damn issue but they too only builds fancy headlines out of all this just to make crispy stories and ready money.
It is not very long since we were basking in the romantic fancy of Gandhigiri, of Gandhi’s resurgence in 21st century, and now we have just swinged to the oppiste pole of Ambedkar and dalit politics, thanx to media driven propaganda. The very own idea that Ambedkar and Gandhi lies at opposite poles as far as idea of caste system is concerned is of limited literary value. But the truth that makes sense to realise is that both stood against untouchability, and for equality and social justice. And had either of Gandhi or Ambedkar been living today, it woudn’t have mattered to them as whose legacy is still driving the nation but all that they would have worried and mourned over was the caste based divisions in the society. Our political parties have made most when people have nothing but to loose. As sociologist Max Weber have said about ‘power’ as a zero sum game, the positives of slfish political parties is nothing but negatives of people of country. Former rules latter get ruled, former divides, latter falls apart.

Baba Vs Bapu

Posted in Caste, Polity, Society by dullar on December 7, 2006

Is this the question that India is facing today? The answer, the validity being doubtful, for the question, Has Ambedkar’s legacy proved more durable than that of Gandhi? is 81% Yes and rest No. Or is this the point that Gandhi’s path of self righteouness was far more tougher than the Ambedkar’s path of agitation for the rights. Certainly today’s dalits and depresed clases have opted the latter path. The ascending of the educational and economic status of dalits since India’s independece has been a fact for everybody of us to notice, and so has been the fight and agitation for the rights of social justice and equality of status. But how far has they achieved their goals is clear by the mass agitation by the dalits all over the country few days back. In the absence of a leadership which is reflective of the dalit’s economic and political aspirations common man of lower classes has come down to roads in their frustrations and desperation. The politics of number has gone into the heads of people of this country to this extent that today our media judge the greatness of two leaders by the number of people coming out on the roads to cleberate or commemorate their anniversaries.
Is it important to debate on the issue that whose legacy has proved more durable than other’s of address the issue that what made people to protest and burn cities? Is our society just enough to fulfill the aspirations of all sections of people? The answer is well known to us and it is a big no in capital words. Politics of reservation has done more harm than good to people. The thing to notice by the series of latest events is how divided our society today is. Social justice is still absent in this 21st century India which is eyeing to be a world superpower. Vote bank politics has eaten the fabric of brotherhood and sentiments of camaraderie of our people.
As Amartya Sen has pointed out political justice and equality has no meaning without social and economic justice.

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