Thursday, July 1, 2010

[ZESTCaste] On Hubert Harrison

 

Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918

In the early years of the 20th century, Hubert Harrison was among the country's best known and most brilliant African-American intellectuals. His reflections on the state and methods of literary criticism appeared in The New York Times. Scores more essays ran in scores of other publications. He lectured on history, sociology, and popular science to audiences both black and white -- quite literally in the street, at times, where he drew large crowds and worried the police. Any heckler who dared to challenge Harrison soon thought better of it; his witty replies reduced them to laughter, if not shamefaced silence. Well before the Harlem Renaissance, he worked out ideas and strategies that would echo in the civil rights struggle and the black power movement of later decades.

But by then, the source of that echo was long forgotten; Harrison had disappeared from the story of the struggle for racial justice and meaningful democracy. The circumstances are so paradoxical that it hurts. For the very qualities making him such a catalytic force -- independence of spirit, headstrong radicalism, and love of argument for its own invigorating sake -- also made him enemies. There is a price for speaking one's mind, and Harrison paid it. Following his death in 1927, no tribute to him appeared in the country's most prominent journals of African-American thought.

This intriguing figure has been rediscovered only over the past decade or so, thanks almost entirely to the efforts of Jeffrey B. Perry. If ever a scholar has served as recording angel -- rescuing memory from the ruins of time -- it is Perry, who spent decades researching Harrison while employed as a postal worker. In 2001, he edited The Hubert Harrison Reader, which provided a generous selection of writings otherwise scattered in crumbling periodicals, many of them now very rare. His new book, Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918, is the first part of a two-volume biography.

It portrays not only the life of a complex individual but also the world of a lost civilization. To see Harrison whole means reconstructing an era when self-educated young black intellectuals created literary societies to exchange books and argue over them -- an era when open-air meetings gathered around street-corner orators who lectured on evolution, feminism, and other controversial topics.

Born on the small Caribbean island of St. Croix in 1883, Harrison was in many ways like other immigrants who reached the United States in 1900. He was "thwarted by limited educational, political, and occupational opportunities at home," as Perry puts it, and possessed of both "a desire for more education and a propensity for self-education." He found work at the post office in New York while attending high school classes at night, where he soon won acclaim for his oratorical skills and "exceptionally thorough" command of classical and English literature.

That Harrison did not continue to university studies is something of a puzzle. But it is clear that Harrison found ample exercise for his talents in African-American literary circles, and in the growing Socialist Party, which by its peak in 1912 had elected hundreds of candidates to office around the country. He wrote theoretical essays showing a deep interest in contemporary social thought, bourgeois and Marxist alike. And he kept up a vigorous schedule of lectures, often holding more than 1,000 listeners rapt as he spoke for two hours or longer.

A memorable description of Harrison in this period comes from Henry Miller -- a profoundly apolitical writer but one who, decades later, recalled being awestruck when the speaker mounted his soapbox. "There was no one in those days," Miller recalled in his autobiographical novel Plexus, "who could hold a candle to Harrison.... He was a man who electrified one by his mere presence. Beside him, the other speakers, the white ones, looked like pygmies, not only physically but culturally, spiritually." When interrupted by a question or a diatribe from the crowd, Harrison "always retained his self-possession, his dignity." He would cock his ear "to catch every last word" then smile broadly and reply -- "always fair and square," wrote Miller, "always full on, like a broadside." (How he would fare today, in an era of sound bites and fractional attention spans, is a melancholy thought.)

Harrison's range of interests was encyclopedic, but he found his center of gravity as a thinker and activist in the fight for African-American rights. He occupied a distinctive -- and, apparently, rather uncomfortable -- position within the debates of his era. Harrison had no use at all for Booker T. Washington's program of slow economic improvement and patient accommodationism. The struggle against racism and for full equality could not be postponed. (Perry documents that Harrison lost his job as postal clerk through the efforts of Washington's cronies.) Yet he was also at odds with the perspective of Washington's most prominent critic, W.E.B. Du Bois, who championed a struggle for civil rights under the leadership of the black community's "talented tenth."

As a socialist, Harrison advocated class struggle as the necessary basis for real change. But here, too, he ran into conflict. Blacks were excluded from all but a few unions. Some leaders of his own party were unabashed white supremacists, and socialist newspapers ran racist jokes and cartoons. Harrison fought to make the party take seriously its own professed commitment to solidarity among all workers, but it was a losing battle.

Driven out of the party in 1914, Harrison set off to create a "New Negro Movement" that attracted wide support in Harlem. One of its adherents was a newly arrived Jamaican immigrant named Marcus Garvey, whose own black nationalist organization would soon outstrip Harrison's efforts. Perry's second volume will cover the final years of Harrison's short life (he died at the age of 44), which included a complicated relationship with the Garveyite cause.

While it is unlikely that either Martin Luther King or Malcolm X ever heard of Hubert Harrison, he would have recognized each of them as an inheritor of his own efforts. As for Barack Obama -- well, I suspect Harrison would give the president a hard time, in a good-natured but serious way. It is difficult to picture Hubert Harrison overawed by the trappings of office, and impossible to imagine him biting his tongue for anyone.

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[ZESTCaste] 07/01/10-Proper communication The BuddhaĆ¢€™s lesson-Mayawati calls for capturing power in Delhi- Great News

 

07/01/10
Proper communication The Buddha's lesson-Mayawati calls for capturing power in
Delhi- Great News
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 8:49 am
Proper communication The Buddha's lesson
Priyanka KURUGALA
The Buddha always uttered the serene words, and that was meant for the whole
endless universe. Many incidents in his life teach the modern society the apt
way of communication. Abhayarajakumara Sutta, found in Majjhima Nikaya, is one
such discourse with a valuable communication lesson.
One of the Buddha's contemporaries was Nigantha Nataputta, who claimed himself a
popular teacher of non-violence. And certainly he had the support of a large
crowd.
Nataputta's non-violence was too extreme, to the extent that he swept the ground
by a sheaf of peacock feathers before he walked on. This was to save the lives
of innocent creatures such as ants from being trampled. He and his followers
never consumed water without boiling it first, to make sure no microscopic
creature is killed. Interestingly he did not brush his teeth and stayed naked
all the time.
One day Nataputta had a visitor, Prince Abhayaraja, one of his disciples.
Nigantha wanted to brief him about the way the prince should approach and
verbally beat the Buddha gradually. Teacher's keen interest nevertheless puzzled
the student.
"How could I do that?" He asked.
Nataputta then disclosed what he had in his mind. Abhayaraja was to question the
Buddha whether the latter uttered disagreeable and distasteful words.
"If the answer is yes," Nataputta offered, "then you should ask the Buddha the
difference between you and the run-of-the-mill. Well, if the answer is negative,
then you should raise the issue of Devadattha. The Buddha's words were
distasteful for Devadatta because he said the monk would stay in Samsara till
the end of this world cycle."
Nataputta fancied that the Buddha would neither be able to swallow nor spit the
words. Ironic is the way Nataputta had his thoughts, especially when he claimed
himself a non-violent person. Nataputta could convince the prince, who
ultimately agreed on visiting the Buddha for a debate.
Abhayaraja worshipped the Buddha and noticed that the sun was about to set. So
he had the Buddha, along with three more monks, in for alms giving. Following
the alms, Abhayaraja was ready for his mission.
"Blessed Sir, do you talk disagreeable and distasteful words to the people".
Notice the Buddha's response: "I could not say, directly. It depends on the
situation."
What was Abhayraja's response right off the bat? "Nigantha is finished!"
The Buddha posed him a question as if he didn't have inkling about anything:
"Why do you say so?"
Then prince Abhayaraja related the whole story to the Buddha. That's when the
Buddha spotted the infant on the prince's lap.
"Suppose your baby get something stuck in its throat. What will you be doing the
first thing?"
"First I will try my best to fish it out. Failing, I will hold his head steady
with my left hand and give it a try once more. And perhaps even pull it out even
if his throat will bleed. All because of my love for my child, exclaimed
Abhayaraja." Abharaya replied in length.
That was enough for the Buddha.
"It's just the same with my words, prince."
1. If any word is false, useless or distasteful and disagreeable I will not
utter it.
2. Should any word be true, but useless, or distasteful and disagreeable I will
not utter it.
3. If any word is true and useful, but disagreeable and distasteful I will utter
it.
4. If any word is false and useless but agreeable and tasteful, to others still,
I will not utter it.
5. If any word is true, useful, agreeable and tasteful, I will say that word.
All because of my mercy and loving kindness for beings.
Abhayaraja was convinced, better yet he had another question for the Blessed
One.
"There are numerous kinds of people who come to you with various types of
questions. These people may be wise, warriors, Brahmins, businessmen,
householders.
Are you prepared in advance in your answers or do you answer according to the
situation?"
The Buddha knew the answer fully well, and yet he shot the prince with another
question.
"Prince, you have a good knowledge of vehicles, I suppose?"
"That's true, Blessed Sir."
"Well in that case, say someone approaches and questions you about vehicles.
Will you be able to handle it properly?"
"Sure I can, Blessed Sir."
"Is it simply because you have been prepared in advance or do you answer
accordingly? "
"I don't need preparation. I answer accordingly. "
"In the same way, prince I do answer accordingly. I do not need preparation in
advance."
The chain of events in the discourse is a good example for management of
communication among individuals. Though the technology is far more advanced,
communication tends to be confusing at times. The Buddha's message is not to
utter useless words.
Communication is the most developed subject of the world. The world now has many
a communication equipment, thanks to man-made communication systems and
networks. Similarly there are number of communicators. Messengers and receivers
are always ready to catch up with very new stories. This is certainly a complex
process.
The same complex process will generate wrong and disorganized messages, which is
the root cause of a confused society. This is very much true when it comes to
media world in particular. Disorganized messages confuse the receiver who in
turn responds in the same confusing manner.
The wrong communication will at times sabotage the serenity and peace of a
family too. Unpleasant words are not for the development of soul, after all.
This causes the direct deterioration of modern society.
It's about time we had taken the initiative to utilize communication to
rehabilitate the society as a whole. Let's roll our sleeves up on this Poson day
itself!
NEWSSPECTRUM
Mayawati calls for capturing power in Delhi
Mayawati calls for capturing power in Delhi Lucknow, June 25 Delhi appears to be
the next target of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)
president Mayawati, who Friday called for capturing power in the national
capital. Addressing a meeting of her party activists from Delhi and Uttarakhand
at her official residence here, Mayawati said that millions of people from Uttar
Pradesh have moved to Delhi in search of employment, but alleged they continue
to receive step-motherly treatment at the hands of successive governments. "That
is the reason we need to strengthen our party base in the national capital so
that we can form a BSP government there and ensure that the Uttar Pradesh's
population gets its due," she said. The BSP supremo also chalked out a strategy
to broaden the BSP base in Delhi and urged her party men to follow her
guidelines. She gave similar instructions to her party leaders from Uttarakhand
where her party has minimal presence, largely on account of a very low SC/ST
population in the hill state. On the other hand, there was much more scope for
BSP to spread its wings in Delhi among the large SC/ST population and where
Mayawati herself grew up. Mayawati calls for capturing power in Delhi
Great News …..
Mayawati'Ji carved a new district called Chattrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar out
of Sultanpur and Rae Bareli districts on Thursday. Congress strongholds Amethi
and Rae Bareli will be parts of the new district.

"The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to restore the district status to
Chattrapati Sahuji Maharaj Nagar," an official spokesman told reporters.
The new district includes three Sultanpur Assembly seats and two seats of Rae
Bareli.
Back in 2003, the Congress wanted to name the new district Rajiv Gandhi Nagar
after the late prime minister. But the BSP-led government wanted the district to
be named after the SC/ST OBC icon from Maharashtra.

 MAY YOU BE EVER HAPPY, WELL AND SECURE
MAY YOU LIVE LONG
MAY ALL SENTIENT AND NON-SENTIENT BEINGS BE EVER HAPPY
MAY YOU BE ALWAYS HAVE CALM, QUIET, ALERT,ATTENTIVE AND
EQUANIMITY MIND WITH A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING THAT
NOTHING IS PERMANENT

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[ZESTCaste] Mayawati renames new district in Gandhi stronghold

 

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/mayawati-renames-new-district-in-gandhi-stronghold-34946

Mayawati renames new district in Gandhi stronghold

NDTV Correspondent, Updated: July 01, 2010 15:44 IST

New Delhi: With the Rahul Gandhi threat to her turf growing by the
day in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Mayawati has fired the next salvo
in the fierce battle for Dalit votes.

She has resurrected a move to carve out a new district that includes
the Gandhi strongholds of Amethi and Rae Bareli, and name it after a
Dalit icon.

The new district, carved out of Rae Bareli and Sultanpur districts,
will be called Chhatrapti Sahuji Maharaj Nagar. It will include three
Sultanpur Assembly seats and two Rae Bareli seats.

The Parliamentary constituency will remain Amethi, which Rahul Gandhi
represents and will not be affected by the new district being carved
out. Congress President Sonia Gandhi represents the Rae Bareli
Parliamentary constituency.
"The state cabinet in its meeting chaired by Chief Minister Mayawati
has decided to restore district status to Chattrapati Sahuji Maharaj
Nagar," PTI quoted an official government spokesman as saying on
Thursday.

The BSP government of 2003 had accorded district status to the Amethi
Lok Sabha constituency, then represented by Congress chief Sonia
Gandhi, and renamed it Chatrapati Sahuji Maharaj Nagar.

The Congress opposed this. It was not against a new district but
wanted it named Rajiv Gandhi Nagar. The next government, that of the
Samajwadi Party, revoked the notification.

Chatrapati Shahuji Maharaj is a Dalit icon from Maharashtra.

(with PTI inputs)

Read more at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/mayawati-renames-new-district-in-gandhi-stronghold-34946?cp

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[ZESTCaste] Mayawati announces nation-wide protest against price rise

 

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_mayawati-announces-nation-wide-protest-against-price-rise_1403509

Mayawati announces nation-wide protest against price rise

PTI
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 20:26 IST

Lucknow: After announcing a state-wide agitation early next month
against rise in prices of petroleum products, Uttar Pradesh chief
minister Mayawati today said BSP will hold a nation-wide protest on
July 15.

Mulayam Singh manhandled as he unveils Lohia's statue in UP
"The party will stage demonstrations and dharna against deregulation
of petroleum products at all the state headquarters across the country
on July 15," Mayawati announced in a meeting of BSP leaders from
different states.

The BSP supremo had already announced that the party would stage
demonstrations and dharna in all 71 districts in UP on July 6.

"Continuous hike in prices of petrol, diesel, LPG and kerosene and the
Congress-led UPA government decision to deregulate petrol is
completely against the interest of the common people," Mayawati
alleged.

During the two-day meeting which ended today, she reviewed functioning
of the organisation in different states.

"Congress slogan of party's hand with aam aadmi has turned out to be a
farce," Mayawati alleged.

She said through demonstrations and dharna, party would demand that
petroleum products be brought under government control again.

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[ZESTCaste] Lover turns cheat after 10 long years

http://www.punemirror.in/index.aspx?page=article&sectid=2&contentid=20100630201006302304218655b249e09&sectxslt=

Lover turns cheat after 10 long years


Dalit girl, who alleges she was sexually abused for a decade, files
rape complaint against her upper-caste neighbour

By Payal Banerjee
Posted On Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 11:04:21 PM

A decade of passion

Accused Rahul Sudam Shelke of Wadgaon Sheri is absconding

Complainant alleges Rahul backed out of his promise to marry her

Complainant underwent three abortions

Yerwada police probing into the charges
A Dalit girl has lodged a complaint with Yerwada police alleging that
her upper-caste neighbour sexually exploited her for a decade after
promising to marry her and forced her to terminate pregnancy on three
occasions.

Now the girl has lodged a case of rape and cheating against Rahul
Sudam Shelke, a resident of Wadgaon Sheri, after he refused to marry
her.

Narrating their relationship, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Khadki
Division), Kalidas Suryavanshi, who is probing into the case said,
"According to the complainant, Rahul and she were in a relationship
for the last ten years.

Rahul had exploited her physically on many occasions after promising
to marry her. She stated that both would get into physical
relationship in each other's houses and used to travel out of the
city.

Whenever she raised the topic of marriage, the boy would give the
excuse that he will marry her once his elder brother gets married. The
complainant also claims to have underwent abortion on three occasions.

However in the end, Rahul backed out of the relationship. As he
refused to marry her, the victim lodged a case against him."

Suryavanshi added, "Rahul is absconding. His mother was aware of their
relationship but no one else from the family seem to have know about
their ties. As of now we only have the complaint of the girl.

We are now probing into the charges. We are also taking out the
details of the hospitals where she got her pregnancy terminated and
talking to the doctors. We are in the look out for Rahul.

As long as he doesn't come to the fore, everything is under a cloud of
suspicion. The investigation is on."


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[ZESTCaste] A distorted study of India’s road to nationhood

http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=351&page=21

Home > 2010 Issues > July 04, 2010


A distorted study of India's road to nationhood
By Manju Gupta

The Weapon of the Other: Dalitbahujan Writings and the Remaking of
Indian Nationalist Thought, Kancha Ilaiah, Pearson Education, Pp 192
(HB), Rs 695.00

THE author begins by voicing his grievance at finding plenty of
literature on Nehru, Marxism and Gandhism but not on Ambedkar at the
Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and it is this which prompts him to
write a book on Indian nationalism from the Dalit bahujan perspective.

In the introduction, he says that Indian nationalism has had a Western
origin because of which and also because of the Brahmanic background
of many scholars, Hindu religion has been perceived as a nationalist
religion with caste prejudices set aside in nationalist discourses. He
says that for Ambedkar "the very history of Hindu religion is a
terrain of war. Its birth is based on caste and untouchability and its
death is also related to those structures."

The book examines the Dalit movement that reconstructed the Dalit
ideology and consciousness in Andhra Pradesh after instances of
massacre of Dalits in Karamchedu and Chundur in the 1980s and 1990s.

(Pearson Education, 7th Floor, Knowledge Boulevard, A-8 (A),
Sector-62, Noida-201 309.)


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[ZESTCaste] Why Was Dr. Ambedkar Selected as Constitutional Drafting comittee

 

Hello All,

Its an open secret that Congress and Gandhi did everything to restrict Babasahebs policies of inclusive development and representation of Bahujans through Poona Pact and were the rivals..
But the irony of all is why Babasaheb was selected for the constitutional post. Congress and its kids tell that it was Gandhi who whole heartedly gave Babasaheb this position......but its utterly false considering the below info

1. Congress had used the subcaste tricks and defeated Babasaheb in the election so that he could not enter the Parliment..........It was the Namasudra's of Bengal which elected Babsaheb to Parliment.-------so no where dit the Congress had any plan for Babasaheb in post independent India.
2. Dr. Ambedkar was not the first person to be suggested, infact the first person appointed left the position citing he could not take the huge responsibility.
3. After the partition of India Congress was more cautious that sc/st and later OBC's may come with the separate nation issue...........to suppress this Dr. Ambedkar was given the position as a trick.
4. There was no person more learned and Intelligent in Constitution and democracy than Dr. Ambedkar.

There are plenty of reasons which are not clearly shown which is creating a confusion by congress telling they were responsible for giving the position.........

On 29 th August 1947, a committee was constituted to frame the Constitution of India. Ambedkar was chosen as its Chairman. Shri T. T. Krishnamachari, a member of the committee, himself has said:

"Though a committee of seven members was formed, one of then resigned. Another was nominated in his place. Another member died. No one took his place. One of the members was very busy with government work. Owing to ill health two other members were far away from Delhi. As a result, Dr. Ambedkar alone had to carry the entire burden of preparing the draft of the Constitution. The work he has done is admirable".

As the Minister for Law, Dr. Ambedkar placed the draft Constitution before the Constituent Assembly on 4th Nobvember 1948.

Regards,
Naveen Rahul

--- On Tue, 29/6/10, CHITTIBABU PADAVALA <afchittibabu@gmail.com> wrote:

From: CHITTIBABU PADAVALA <afchittibabu@gmail.com>
Subject: [ZESTCaste] 12-Month Journalism course in Mumbai
Date: Tuesday, 29 June, 2010, 4:22 AM

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[ZESTCaste] 'Caste inclusion in census will be a disaster'

 

http://news.rediff.com/slide-show/2010/jun/29/interview-caste-inclusion-in-census-will-be-a-disaster.htm

'Caste inclusion in census will be a disaster'

June 29, 2010 13:55 IST

Professor P Radhakrishnan is a social scientist of repute and an
expert on caste and reservation in India [ Images ]. He was with the
Madras Institute of Development Studies till recently. In this
interview with Shobha Warrier he talks about the dangers of including
caste in the census.

Caste is a reality in India. Political parties are formed on caste.
Reservation is based on caste. What more harm can the inclusion of
caste in the census cause to the society?

No doubt, caste is a reality in India. But in many places it is not
the same reality as it existed traditionally. As an institution that
has survived for about 3,000 years, caste has undergone many changes.
There were many agitations too against the caste system as it is
intrinsically divisive, discriminatory, and oppressive. The Indian
Constitution was framed against the background of the full knowledge
of the persistence of this evil allowing it to gradually wither away
or have a natural death. As a result, the traditional caste has, to a
large extent, been driven underground over the years after India
became a secular democratic republic.

If caste is included in the census, it will come back venomously with
the vengeance of its suppression for about 60 years, which will be a
disaster.

Caste was in the public domain during the British administration
mainly because of its divide and rule policy and partly because of its
patronage politics. India's independence brought about a major policy
shift in the State's approach to caste. That is evident from the
Constitution.

Reservation at present is based on data collected years ago. So, won't
a caste-based census help identify those in need of reservation?

The general perception that reservation should be caste-based and
castes are entitled to reservation is fallacious. From the perspective
of the Constitution, and of related Indian jurisprudence till
recently, reservation should not actually be caste-based -- except in
the case of Scheduled Castes -- though for purposes of identifying
backwardness caste groups and corresponding groups in non-Hindu
religious communities are subjected to the backwardness tests.

How will the government then proceed with reservations?

The government can do it in at least two ways: By following the
constitutional provisions for the purpose (Article 340); and by
evolving neutral criteria which might have existed as negative
attributes of the traditional caste system whose persistence, as I
said earlier, may be disabling, discriminatory and debilitating to
individuals from certain castes and communities.

In fact, each state has plenty of rich data on social backwardness. If
the states are not willing to process and publish these data it is for
fear that the creamy layers which now gobble up the benefits of
reservation will be affected and the benefits will go to the really
needy.

Why did the British think of stopping caste-based census after 1931?

It became an unwanted burden on the officials to collect enormous data
on hundreds of castes at exorbitant cost to the government. The
British also realised that caste-based census did more harm than good
as the data collected was not reliable, and the census reports caused
a lot caste-spite and encouraged 'caste patriotism'.

As a sociologist, do you think with economic development, social
development will follow?

It will, if there is proper distributive justice. Even in the absence
of the desired distributive justice, if you look at the profile of
individuals, you will see that social development is already
happening, though rather slowly.

Caste has come into the forefront with more vigour now with each
political party using caste and reservation to garner votes. Do you
hold politicians responsible for the current situation?

By the time the Constitution came into being, every caste group had
become aware of the importance of caste and numbers in a democracy.
India was the only country in the world that introduced universal
adult franchise at one go. More than two-thirds of the population was
illiterate at that time. At the time of elections, different groups of
cognate castes came together, formed what may be called a 'horizontal
stretch' and started exercising their numerical power. So, despite
illiteracy adult franchise gave a new lease of life to caste groups.

In 1953, the first backward commission -- the Kaka [ Images ] Kalelkar
commission -- was appointed. The commission submitted its report in
1956. At the last minute, the chairman of the commission himself felt
that the recommendations of the commission would go against the well
being and future of the nation; and wrote as much in his forwarding
letter. The government saw wisdom in his letter. Prime Minister Pandit
Jawaharlal Nehru [ Images ] and Home Minister Sardar Patel were
vehemently opposed to have anything to do with caste in any state
policy other than in the case of the Scheduled Castes.

After considerable debate at the Centre, the government wrote to all
state governments that while they were free to introduce reservation
preferably using economic criteria, the Centre was not acting on the
recommendations of the report. Then the states started appointing
backward class commissions and introducing reservations. This led to
violent caste clashes in states like Bihar and Gujarat.

What is envisaged in the Constitution is not caste-based reservation
as such but ameliorative measures for the advancement of individuals
from traditional caste groups who continued to be victims of the
persistence of the traditional disabling, discriminatory and
debilitating attributes of the caste system. Obviously the problem,
the reality was too complex to perceive, let alone address.

But the reality has been made different by politicians. Have they not
used reservation for vote bank politics?

Caste-based reservation came handy for vote bank politics; and
politicians have been mobilising various caste groups using
reservation as a rallying point. In the process of mobilising caste
groups, they make promises. Caste groups also demand many things,
caste-backwardness became a convenient tool in the context of
reservations and nobody is willing to look into the reality.

Caste gained a new impetus after Prime Minister V P Singh [ Images ]
played the Mandal card, apparently for political gains.

What will the United Progressive Alliance [ Images ] government gain
by introducing caste in the census other than appeasing some political
parties?

It is not the government alone that is accountable. Here, the role of
judiciary is crucial. If the reservation issue has been derailed over
the years, become messy and politicised, it is primarily because of
the judiciary. The response of the judiciary has been one of
knee-jerk, particularly after the Supreme Court rulings of November
16, 1992, in the Mandal case, which I thought were pragmatic.

If caste was excluded from the census since 1951 it was obviously for
well-conceived policy reasons. These reasons are available in
different documents of the home ministry. It is deplorable that
neither the judiciary nor the home ministry has shown any historical
sensitivity to the 'caste-in-the-census' conundrum. In fact, the home
ministry should have come out with a white paper on the whole issue
from 1951 to 1991 covering the views of Nehru, Patel, Indira Gandhi [
Images ], Rajiv Gandhi [ Images ], and so on.

If you have closely follow the caste-in-the-census debate what you see
is the Yadav trio holding the nation to ransom, stating that if caste
is not included in the census the UPA ministry will collapse.

So do you think the Group of Ministers' decision on the caste census
is yet another cat-and-mouse game in Indian politics?

My 'gut-level' assessment is that there will be no caste census. Phase
1 of the census is already in progress. Though the Group of Ministers
reportedly decided to have caste enumeration in the second phase of
the census along with UID (Unique Identification) number project that
may not happen. The government is under pressure to stop this project
as there are apprehensions that the data collected can be misused.
That apart, the project cannot be a one-time affair; it has to be a
continuous process. If the fate of the voter ID cards project is any
indication, the UID project may be a non-starter; and even if data
collection is possible the data can transmogrify India's demographic
characteristics. Let us admit that we are way behind e-governance, and
India is not Infosys [ Get Quote ].

Shobha Warrier in Chennai

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