India has a long history of civilization. Even if we keep aside stories of mythology, India has the distinction of giving to the world first modern religion based on human dignity, love and compassion for all by the Buddha, some 500 years before CE. Dr. BR Ambedkar calls that phase of Buddha’s time a social revolution. Buddha’s revolutionary reply to the inequality and discrimination on the basis of birth in the name of Manav Dharma shastra imposed by Brahminism, moral degradation and exploitation in the name of rituals to appease the so called Gods, to the ‘vulgar and worthless ceremonies’ as Emperor Ashoka refers to in his Rock Edict – .
Buddha placed human being instead of some invisible Gods at the center of social life. Ashoka, the first Emperor, who not only ruled over a vast territory expanding beyond Afghanistan, but also built the first united Nation State of India, a very prosperous at that strongly based on the philosophy of Buddhism. Buddha’s revolutionary establishment ruled over India for well over 1200 years. But Brahminism succeeded in infiltrating Buddha’s Sangha and sabotaging the foundations of new social order based on equality. Through the process of systematic counter-revolution of absorbing all external virtues of Buddhism such as non-violence towards animals, Brahminism was successful to once again impose its religion of discrimination based on birth. All those other than Brahmins were supposed to be servile to them with varying degrees, with Shudras, being at the lowest pedestal, servile to all. Around this stage Brahmins also included one more grade, that of ‘untouchables’ in the social order who were not supposed to be human beings, neither animals for animals had privilege of mixing with the Brahmins but not the untouchables. The untouchables were the defeated Buddhists who refused to acquiesce with the Brahmins in their new social order. Buddha and Ashoka were banished with all their memories and legacy from the land of India till they were discovered by the inquisitive British officers in early nineteenth century, just about 100 years before India got Independence.
In the process India was decimated beyond recognition having been assaulted internally by feudal conflicts and chivalry, invaded by all sorts of tribes from the Europe, then Mughals and finally British. Brahmins, having firmly entrenched themselves as the only community having access to learning, control over all sorts of natural resources and also over the Kings ensured that social order based on inequality remains intact. By virtue of their exclusive access to the religious texts, they exercised complete influence over the Mughal and also British rulers. British could unify the land under one rule but India as a nation of people remained divided. While all Indians were slaves to the British, the Shudras and Untouchables were slaves to the slaves of British. They were, in the words of Ambedkar, ‘outside the fold’ even in Independent India.
Nation – ‘We, the People of India’
When India was in the process of getting Independence, Ambedkar strived hard through his parallel Freedom Struggle to bring these depressed sections ‘within the fold’. Ambedkar insisted in very unequivocal voice that the Swaraj for which Mahatma Gandhi and his Congress was fighting should not fall into the hands of privileged few. As a chief architect of the Constitution of India he ensured that his vision of inclusive Nation of all the People of India is firmly embedded in it. In his very first speech in the Constituent Assembly on 17 December 1946, Ambedkar had spelled out ‘Let us leave aside slogans, let us leave aside words which frighten people. Let us even make a concession to the prejudices of our opponents, bring them in, so that they may willingly join with us on marching upon that road, which as I said, if we walk long enough, must necessarily lead us to unity. Let us prove by our conduct that if this Assembly has arrogated to itself sovereign powers it is prepared to exercise them with wisdom. That is the only way by which we can carry with us all sections of the country. There is no other way that can lead us to unity. Let us not have no doubt on that point.’ All along he insisted on the unity of People through equitable rights to all, social, political, economic, without fear of frightening words, slogans and acts.
There was serious problem of Muslim League absconding from the process of Constitution making. Some sections, especially Hindu fundamentalists, fiercely advocated to solve the issue by force if Muslims do not come to terms with them. Ambedkar warned them ‘If there is anybody who has in his mind the project of solving the Hindu-Muslim problem by force, which is another name of solving it by war, in order that the Muslims may be subjugated and made to surrender to the Constitution that might be prepared without their consent, this country would he involved in perpetually conquering, them.’
Rest is history. India, that is Bharat after partition into two nation states adopted the Constitution which assured to her every citizen Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation. India set out on its path to glory with these principles as her guiding force. Brahminism raised its ugly head every now and then to subjugate other vulnerable sections and Muslims. The Constitution of India was a biggest stumbling block into their scheme of things. They tried to create anarchy by engineering social riots between Muslims and Hindus mostly drawn from lower strata of society. But the socialist leaning governments at the Centre tried to implement provisions of the Constitution for upliftment of hitherto ‘excluded’ sections of the society. Sixty years, and considerable number of depressed classes people got educated, got represented in the government positions in bureaucracy and politics, got powerful enough to challenge seriously the hegemony of Brahmins. They understood the dynamics of Hindu -Muslim riots thanks to awakening brought about by the philosophy of Kanshi Ram. The Other Backward Castes (OBCs) who always worked as unpaid police of Brahminism got Mandal Ayog for reservations in government jobs and process of their alienation from Brahmins started albeit haltingly. Firm hold on religion came handy for Brahmins to ward –off the curse of Mandal Ayog. The gullible OBCs joined the bandwagon of religious bigots for construction of a Temple of God Ram ignoring their own emancipation. God had once again displaced Individual human being from the centre of the things. Social fabric of Fraternity was torn beyond repair through Babri Masjid demolition and ensuing bomb blasts and riots. Counter Revolution, this time to the Constitution of India at least at social level was complete, that at political level was just a matter of time.
Nation – India vs Hindustan
Still, it took a quarter century to realize that goal. The D-day arrived on 26 May 2014 when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament. Bharatiya Janata Party is political wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) who is in forefront of Counter Revolution against the Constitution of India. The concept of Pan-India Nationalism is narrowed down to Hindutva Nationalism based on one Hindu religion rather than geography inhabited by all sorts of religions, castes and creeds, people speaking diverse languages and following diverse faiths. Within Hinduism again, you must follow a particular ideology and shade of it to be called true Indian. You might be Hindu, even a Brahmin but if you do not follow RSS ideology then you are merely a ‘libetard’, anti-national. To be Indian, to be patriot you must follow the ‘Savarkarite Nationalism’ which is based on his version of Hinduism.
As the BJP started gaining influence and RSS infiltrated policy making apparatus they started making subtle structural changes in the laws. For example, the citizenship rights which were based on the principle of ‘jus soli’ got recognized to the principle of ‘jus sanguinis’, right of blood in 1986 by Rajiv Gandhi government. Simply being born on Indian soil is not enough, you must have ancestors of Indian origin. It was proposed in 1986 but once BJP came to power in 2003, they made it a law by way of amendment to the Citizenship Act. They even introduced the concept of ‘Overseas Citizenship’ if you had ancestors of Indian Origin. BJP under Modi is decisively marching ahead to project its followers as true Indians and all others as anti-nationals. The Overseas Citizens’ club actively markets for Modi and increasingly influence his policies, lends him a mark of international approval. When Trump introduced immigration ban on the citizens of seven Muslim countries, there was International outrage, but in 2015 Modi quietly made asylum to be subject to religion.
But these are minor structural changes because the biggest threat to Brahminical hegemony and to the RSS comes from the educated, those ‘misguided’ by Ambedkar’s ideology. Therefore, more than anything else their focus is on educational institutions. The first step was to put a grossly illiterate, puppet minister at the HRD ministry ensuring its complete charge in the hands of RSS. Thanks to reservations, education makes non-Brahmins to compete with them. Since changing reservation policy is next to impossible, education policies had to be such that render these marginal communities incompetent to compete in the first place. Education has to be either rendered useless or unaffordable; and it should also look like in the national interest. Over a period, irrespective of Govt. four very basic, innocuous looking changes have been made in education policy which is strictly followed in government run schools. Firstly, education in mother tongue, secondly, ‘No-fail’ policy till 8th standard, thirdly, privatization of education and forthly, curtailment in budgetary provisions. India is at 104th place in 143 nations in terms of investment on education as per UN Human Development Report, 2001. Education standards have declined to such a level that 35% of the 1966-75 generation are engaged in manual labor. These assaults on education were silent and methodical. Now, emboldened by power at the Centre, the assaults on education are blatant and crude through their student apparatus called ABVP. The JNU, Ramjas College, University of Hyderabad, Rohit Vemula, IIMs, IITs, IIMS and many more are recent examples of sinister design.
There is method in madness. Any voice raised against the activities of ABVP or BJP has to be branded as ‘anti-national.’ The recent episode of Gurmehar Kaur, daughter of a martyr, who stood firm to speak against the violence by ABVP at Ramjas College, Delhi and who advocated ‘No-War’ principle speaks volumes as to what level the concept of nationalism is hijacked from Indianness to Hindutva.
If this kind of nationalism continues to be on rise, and it appears surely so, then the concept of ‘We, the People of India’ is seriously at threat. India is at the verge of falling into the hands of Brahminical order which ‘has acquired new connotations of sustaining a social order based on graded inequality, servility and deference, and self-aggrandisement at the expense of misery and inhumanity meted out to others.’ as rightly said by Valerian Rodrigues in The Hindu. It is a deep rooted design to establish a social order perceived to be based on social harmony [Samajik Samarasata] which means status quo, no attempts to progress because it might challenge the position of established classes. A social order where all shall be destined to face the fatal accident of their birth in the words of Rohit Vemula.
- Constituent Assembly Debates, Parliament of India
- Valerian Rodrigues, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/A-new-idiom-of-Dalit-assertion/article16655118.ece
- Shoaib Daniyal, https://scroll.in/article/830455/the-abuse-of-soldiers-daughter-gurmehar-kaur-shows-how-savarkarite-nationalism-is-on-the-rise
- English & Medium of Instructions – Dalit Discourse in Indian Education, by Dhanaraju Vulli, Research Journal of Educational Sciences, May 2014.
- ‘How Backward are the Other Backward Classes? Changing contours of Caste Disadvantages in India.’ By Ashwini Deshpande & Rajesh Ramchamdran, Centre for Development Economics, November 2014
- A Profile of the Indian Education System, by Karthik Muralidharan and others, November 2005