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Monday, June 30, 2014


~   Asit

“Sociologists of the caste have invoked religion, cognition, cosmology, heaven and hell to find the secret of the genesis, growth, and survival of the caste and caste system. In the process, they have missed the real secret of the caste and caste system, which lies in political economy.”
[“Recasting Caste: From the Sacred to the Profane” by Hira Singh]

Joan Robinson, the legendary Cambridge economist, was visiting India after a tour of revolutionary China in the 1950s. In India, she met E.M.S. Namboodiripad, a senior leader of the then united CPI. She asked EMS, despite many similarities between the two countries why there was a revolution in China, and why it did not happen in India, what was the problem? “Caste” was the answer given by Namboodiripad. Today, the India political left is divided, so one need not toe the political line of E.M.S. Namboodiripad or his later party CPIM. This, however, is not to deny the existence of caste or caste atrocities in India. Every day one gets the gory news of medieval barbarism inflicted on the Dalits of the country. Therefore, understanding the caste system is a serious task for anyone who is interested in the revolutionary transformation of Indian society. For communists, it is an urgent task, because the annihilation of caste is intrinsically related with the abolition of class rule in India.
Orientalists, indologists and colonial administrators had tried to understand the caste system in India each according to their own ideological prejudices, predominantly from the colonizers’ mindset of “the whiteman’s burden” and the “exotic east”. Risley, the Census Commissioner of British India, was one of the early pioneers to study caste. Later, with the establishment of the Bombay School, eminent sociologist G.S. Ghurye wrote “Caste and Race in India”. The book has achieved iconic status with the 19th reprint done by Popular Prakashan, Bombay in the year 1911. M.N. Srinivas, a well-known scholar on caste, left his teaching job at Oxford in the year 1927 to start the first sociology department at Baroda. M.N. Srinivas is also an eminent writer on different dimensions of caste in India. After Independence, caste has been one of the major pre-occupations of Indian sociologists. There is no unitary theory of castes. There is a whole spectrum of perspectives. From the orientalists to the post-colonial, there is a variety of caste theories. Hocart and Quigley give the kingship theory, while Morton Klass calls his method as electic anthropology. Marxists and liberals, Gandhians and Dalit intellectuals have also written on caste. So, Marxism and Ambedkarism are only two red and blue colours in the colourful spectrum of caste theories. Apart from differences on the “book view” and “field view”, overall debate on caste within Indian sociology has been pro or against Louis Dumont. For Marxists, the basic debate is between the method of D.D. Kosambi and Louis Dumont. “Division of Labour” and property regimes have been one of the major ingredients of Kosambi’s method. Ursula Sharma, who also has done her fieldwork in Himachal Pradesh, has done a fairly good mapping of the caste debates within sociology and social anthropology in her book “Caste” published early this century. Within the Marxist tradition, there is this whole debate about “infrastructure” and “super structure”.  Suvira Jaiswal, Uma Chakraborty, Anupama Rao, Sharmila Rege, Susie Tharu et al., have written on the intersections of caste and gender.
Over the years, in my interactions with different young research scholars in the universities in Delhi, to my surprise I found even a handful of Marxist talking about the inadequacies of Marxism in understanding the functioning of caste system in India. As a Marxist, this was a personal challenge for me to construct a Marxist narrative of the caste system in India. In my search for Marxist discourses on “caste”, Hira Singh’s book “Recasting Caste”, which was published this year, has made me proud of the Marxist tradition in interpreting caste.
Outlining his alternative approach to caste system vis-à-vis mainstream sociology, Hira Singh says:
“The difference between the West and the rest was essentialized in the dominant discourse during slave trade, colonialism and imperialism constitutive of modern West. Identification of India with caste and reduction of caste to its religious essence is a product of the colonial process of essentialization. Interrogating the [mis]identification of India with caste and the reductionist view of caste as essentially religious or ideal going back to the classical roots of mainstream sociology is a necessary step towards decolonizing sociology of caste. Decolonization here is not being used to draw distinction between Indians and non-Indians or between East and West. Decolonization I talk about is not related to cultural or national identities of scholars or scholarships. Rather, it is related to an alternative perspective. Sociology of caste has followed the classical sociological tradition which, as discussed above, originated in ideological opposition to Marxism in the 18th-century Europe. In extending that framework to the study of the caste system in India, it had two main objectives. One, it used the caste system to critique Marxist interpretation of society and history, the notion of class in particular, at home. It was simultaneously used to argue that India remained stuck at the stage of status opposed to contact, mechanical opposed to organic, lineage opposed to state, despotic opposed to democratic, irrational opposed to rational, static opposed to dynamic and savage opposed to civilized modern West. That was the dominant discourse of modern West in the age of colonialism-imperialism. Dumont extends that, in a reinvigorated form, at a time when colonialism-imperialism was in the decline, but the struggle between Marxism and mainstream sociology in the West (and the East) had acquired new vitality in the background of the ideological divide of the Cold War. Theoretical-methodological framework used by mainstream sociology is a hindrance to produce a theory of caste. To develop a theory of caste, we need an alternative approach that enables us to see the intersection of economic, political and ideological in the origin of the caste system, its reproduction, continuity and change in historical perspective.”
[Pp. 61-62. “Recasting Caste: From the Sacred to the Profane” by Hira Singh]
This is an extremely important book in the caste debate in the neoliberal era. In “Recasting Caste”, Hira Singh makes an excellent critique of the weberian/dumontian/subaltern/post-colonial constructs of caste. The publication of this book is an important contribution to Marxist theory of caste and caste politics. This book dispels the myth created by the so-called new social movements, NGOs and many Dalit groups, that Marxists do not understand caste. Partly this may sound true because, except for Marxist historians and rare Marxist sociologists like A.R. Desai, very few Marxists have written on caste. Only Dr. Anand Teltumbde consistently writes about the inter-relationship between caste and class. Rethinking the caste and class inter-connection is extremely important at a time, when after two decades of neoliberalization and state repression to facilitate primitive accumulation. We suddenly have a mass murderer at the helm of affairs, who will sell off whatever is left of India. And these two decades were also the decades of “social justice”, “Dalit assertion”, the low caste revolution according to Christophe Jaffrelot which saw OBC and Dalit chief ministers ruling the Hindi heartland, which determines the course of Indian politics.
However, with the rise of Mandalite parties like RJD, SP, JDU, etc., and Mayawati as the symbol of Dalit power, the atrocities of Dalits did not stop. In fact, they increased, and this was also the era of judicial impunity – upper caste convicts of Laxmanpur Bathe, Bathanitola, Tsundur, etc., were acquitted. The recent election victory of the fascist Sangh Parivar is quite shocking. One has to see beyond the veneer of the development mantra and the so-called Modi wave. BJP played the Hindutva and OBC card openly. The upper castes, the non-Yadav OBCs and the non-Jatav Dalits voted for BJP. Hence, caste is very much an important component of Indian politics, and it is a reality which no sensible Marxist can afford to overlook. Apart from important interventions by Dr. Anand Teltumbde to combine the caste debate with the class question, not much Marxist analysis of caste has been made during the Mandal/Kamandal and neoliberal decades in India. Suvira Jaiswal’s very important book of “Caste” was published in 1998 after a long intergenum. Hira Singh’s book “Recasting Caste”, is an important Marxist intervention in caste debate in the year of BJP’s victory. The most important aspect of “Recasting Caste” is that it brings in political economy to the centre of caste debate. The irony of the neoliberal decades in India was that apart from loud assertions of the tiny microscopic Dalit middle class; nobody talked about the exploitations of the Dalit landless labourers and safai karmacharis.
A section of the co-opted mainstream Dalit intellectuals also propagate the idea of Dalit liberation within capitalism, they push extremely dangerous (and in long-term really very anti-Dalit) concept of “Dalit Capitalism”. Chandra Bhan Prasad, one of the foremost ideologues of the idea of “Dalit Capitalism”, had given an interview to Sunday Times of India last year. In that interview, he said that capitalism provides the space for a Dalit to purchase a Mercedes and hire a Brahmin driver. This is a very dubious and dangerous proposition. Ambedkar’s central aim was the equality between castes, not the creation of a new and exploitative hierarchy of social relations. The owner of the Mercedes and the driver share a different power equation; one is an employer and the other is an employee. This goes against the grain of both Marxist and Ambedkarite views. Dalit capitalism cannot solve the central contradiction of capital and labour under capitalism. The absurd logic of Dalit capitalism also means that a Dalit murderer can replace a Brahmin murderer. The moral of the story is murderers will always be murderers. The land question was totally out of the Mandalised caste politics. Class was completely out from the academic works on caste.
For a comprehensive appreciation of Hira Singh’s contribution to the caste debate in India, one should read his review article in the Journal of Peasant Studies (April 2008). The title of the article is “The Real World of Caste in India”, where he reviews Dipankar Gupta’s “Interrogating Caste”. In that book Dipankar Gupta, apart from critiquing the hierarchy theory of Dumont and Weber (which is known as the book view of caste in sociology), he brings in the mode of production dimension into the caste debate. I find Dipankar Gupta’s “Varna” as Asiatic mode of production, and “Jati” as feudal mode of production quite problematic. Nevertheless, he brings in production and property relations into the caste debate. Nowadays Dipankar Gupta does not call himself a Marxist; in fact, Meera Nanda calls him a sophisticated liberal. For the past few years whenever Dipankar Gupta speaks on globalization, he almost corroborates the Congress view that during the UPA-I and UPA-II many people came out of the poverty line. His unflinching support for the Anna Hazare movement was also quite problematic. However, in the early 1980s, Dipankar Gupta firmly called himself a Marxist. He criticized the eminent Marxist anthropologist Maurice Godelier, whether caste is infrastructure or superstructure; his position vis-a-vis Godelier was more orthodox Marxist. Dipankar Gupta’s important intervention in the 1980s was his polemics with Gail Omvedt on the issue of renaming the Marathwada University which is popularly known as the Namantar Movement in Maharashtra. There he criticizes Omvedt’s position as eclectic Marxism.
For me, reading Hira Singh’s “Recasting Caste” was important because it reassured me that a Marxist can understand caste, which had been mystified in the subaltern and post-colonial debates. Hira Singh’s book is extremely important in an era where academic discourses are getting more and more detached from the issues connected with real lives of the vast multitudes. Exploitation, feudalism, capitalism, inequality, etc., are out of fashionable discourses in academia. With the discrediting of socialism as an alternative to capitalism, “identity politics” and “social justice” within capitalism is the solution offered. If one has a serious look at the state of social science in India, one could see with the rise of a plethora of post-office theories in the Anglo American academy and their comprador followers in the third world academia, not only the social science discourses became opaque, day by day it is becoming anti-working class and ofcourse, totally irrelevant to the social realities of India.
When more and more exotic subjects like cultural studies are proliferating, knowledge is getting fragmented in the form of super-specialties like ethno-medico anthropology. Commenting on the state of social sciences today, Prof. Randhir Singh had said that in the age of super-specialties more and more people are learning about less and less. Social totality is an old-fashioned concept; fragmentation of social reality is the order of the day. Terms like “feudalism”, “capitalism” and “class” have become obsolete in interpreting social reality; they have been replaced by caste, gender, ethnicities, cultural world, sexual preference, and so on. “Governmentality” has replaced “state” and the class character of state. In the urban studies, nobody talks about the brutalized, miserable “life world” of the underclass in the sprawling slums, but deconstructed discourses of “Regimes of Pleasure” in the “ethnoscapes” and “mediascapes” in the conditions of late (post) modernity are the trend in urban studies. History has been ethnicized by the post-colonials, especially Nicholas Dirks. “Civil society” (read NGOs) have replaced the political left as the emancipatory platform of the oppressed. There is a strange coincidence with the rise of “new social movements” and NGO as the central flag bearers of the politics of protest. In these times also, the trend in the transatlantic academies is that, unless one works on sexy cuttingedge postmarked theories, getting a tenure becomes difficult.
The doors of economics departments are closed for the Marxist economists. Likewise, Adivasis, Dalits, women, ecology, etc., have become sexy and hot issues for funding for NGOs and academic research projects. As some perceptive observers of the autonomous women’s movement have said that NGO funding finished off the autonomous women’s movement, so also the NGO-isation of Dalit issues. After the Durban Conference on racism, funding for the Dalit NGOs has increased exponentially; there is another important linkage here. Funded Dalit middle class activists and NGOs are extremely anti-communist. That, however, does not mean that caste and caste atrocities are not social realities, but imperialism and class exploitation are also important social realities. This is not the question of privileging caste over class or vice versa, but having a Marxist framework of the inter-sectionalities and co-terminalities of class, caste and gender. Communists should be in the forefront in the fight against caste, gender, racial, national and ethnic oppressions. One need not miss the wood for the tree. In the light of above arguments, Hira Singh’s book “Recasting Caste” is a serious Marxist intervention in the contemporary caste debates. 
In the post-Soviet world, where any political imagination towards an alternative to capitalism is derided as “metanarrative” and totalitarian, study of castes and ethnic groups assumed added importance in search of truth in “micro narratives” like multi-culturalism in the west. In India, in the era of Mandal and Kamandal politics, caste has assumed an overwhelming importance both in politics and in the Academia. While caste-based parties are proliferating, specialization in caste and ethnicity is on rise in the Academia. The post-colonials have muddled the waters further for their exotic extolling of the “ethnic chic”. The metropolitan middle class loves to pick up ethnic jewellery from the state sponsored handicraft exhibitions. The primitive rebel has been commodified beyond recognition. If one has a close look at the politics of social science from the colonial era, anthropology was used to understand the natives in order to control and co-opt them. Today in the Gaudy academic supermarket, the more one speaks about dispersed, picturesque essentialised social identities with hardened cultural boundaries the more one is accepted in the academic careers, they have become the sole representations of social reality. Class, political economy, imperialism and production relations in the context of understanding social reality is shun as economic determinism and reductionist vulgar Marxism and so on. “Difference” with a big “D” is the in thing, all apparent inter-connections in the different social power play is totally lost. The academic factory churns out pre-programmed jombies for the neo-liberal job market. Their intellectual guilt forces them to consume more and ethnic artifacts and discourses, they do all these while paying the EMIs and holidaying at Bangkok. Rising commodification of life, immiserisation of broad masses of people, amidst the glittering glass and steel towers are sick indicators of the famous post-modernist dictum “I shop so I exist”. With the rise of identerianism in politics, where the ruling class parties push the primordial ties to the hilt to build up their respective caste vote banks. On the other hand, universities with their ethnicisation of social realities are producing  generations of disinterested and depoliticised students, who prefer to shut themselves in their own ‘ethnoscapes’  in the gated communities happily consuming a fast macdonalised culture. If one seriously looks out the depoliticized, co-opted products churned out by the sociology, anthropology, and political science departments, then in the larger interest of society and social change, I would argue that those departments should be immediately locked up until a thorough review of their curriculum is done.               
Caste is the leading theme in academic publishing industry, everyday a new book on caste is in the market. It is really difficult to keep track of the caste debate. There is a glut in the discourse on caste and ethnic identities; on the other hand, the invisible hand of the market ruthlessly appropriates the surplus of the subaltern masses. The stock exchanges are exuberant.                                   
In these contending discourses on caste, Hira Singh’s book “Recasting Caste” is a serious Marxist intervention in understanding the contemporary issues of caste and class conflicts and helps us to conceptualize the ways to understand the structural  relations between caste, class and capitalism. The importance of Hira Singh’s book is not that it brings in political economy to study castes, but locates caste in political economy. According to Hira Singh, this book is an invitation to a debate on caste such that one can understand the contemporary dynamics of caste conflicts and delineate a strategy for a classless and casteless society. He says in the concluding paragraph of the Preface in “Recasting Caste”, “In my writings on caste spread over several years, I have suggested that there are serious issues - theoretical and methodological - in the study of caste, which call for debate (Singh 2008)”. When it comes to caste studies, there are there two solitudes: (1) mainstream sociology, and (2) Marxism. The former shuns history and studies caste mainly at the level of ideas in isolation from material conditions. Marxists, on the other hand have, by and large, stayed away from studying caste. According to sociologists, Marxists do not study caste because they consider it as “superstructure” determined by “infrastructure”; hence, secondary and less important. That is not even vulgar Marxism, rather vulgarization of Marxism. The question whether caste is infrastructure or superstructure is redundant. It is both, infrastructure and superstructure intersect in caste. However, in their ideological battle against Marxism, sociologists have erred on the other side, focusing on the superstructure to the exclusion of the infrastructure. This is most clearly the case with Louis Dumont.  Critics of Louis Dumont from within mainstream sociology have not adequately addressed this critical issue. The other serious problem in sociological studies of caste is the neglect of history. Finally, mainstream sociology has dubbed Marxism as ideology, but it does not recognize its own ideological orientation and how that has shaped its perspective on caste. (Hira Singh, “Recasting Caste: From the Sacred to the Profane. Sage, New Delhi 2014.) Purity and pollution has been the dominant model defining the caste hierarchy in India. Endless debates have been done by sociologists on this issue, but almost everyone has mystified it.                                                                                
The signal contribution of Hira Singh’s book has been to demystify the whole discourse on purity and pollution in understanding the caste system. Commensality and endogamy are the defining features of the caste “life world”.  Cooking and dining are important features of inter and intra caste inter subjectivities, food plays an important role in the caste discourse. Hira Singh’s book unravels the mystery of food production and consumption debate in the cast discourse. He raises the pertinent questions about food, which non-Marxist sociologists deliberately ignore. His book points to the politics of food production and consumption debate in the caste discourse. He raises the pertinent question about food, which non-Marxists sociologists deliberately ignore. Hira Singh raises the issue about who produces the food grains and who appropriates it and the centrality of labour process and the production relations in food grain production. Hence, caste cannot be understood without explaining the class exploitations, land ownership and different hierarchies created by different property regimes.                                 

As a Marxist, I would go by the eleventh thesis of Marx, i.e., it is not enough to understand caste system and caste exploitation; but if caste is an abominable, unjust and undignified system, one has to find ways and means to annihilate it. It is here that the Marxist and Ambedkarite project of ‘annihilation of castes’ converge.  Having said that, I would like to stress the inadequacies of non-Marxist perspectives on the caste system and the strategies to abolish it.

It is in this context of emancipatory political praxis of the underdog, Hira Singh’s contribution in the caste debate assumes extreme importance. His article in the Journal of Peasant Studies, “The Real World of Caste in India” should be read with his book “Recasting Caste”. In this Journal of Peasant Studies article, critically reviewing Dipankar Gupta’s “Interrogating Caste”, Hira Singh points to the inherent limitations of liberal ideology to solve the caste question in India. He raises the basic ontological issue of the “wretched of the earth” in his search for liberation. Taking a cue from Marx Engels and Lenin that working class “in itself” cannot liberate itself without becoming “class for itself”. If one looks at the politics of social justice, Dalits and OBCs as “caste in itself” have become “caste for itself” in their militant assertion in the electoral arena and to some extent in is the real “life world”. But this assertion has not removed the class exploitation of a vast majority of Dalits, OBCs, Adivasis and Pasmanda Muslims as the working class they are ruthlessly exploited and humiliated by the neoliberal regime in India. Hence, to the complete the trajectory of emancipation “caste for itself” has to transform itself to “class for itself”, otherwise the project of liberation of oppressed identities in India will be incomplete and will be co-opted by the ruling classes by creating a greedy self-centered middle class from the marginal groups.

The failure of Parliamentary Dalit and Mandalite outfits like BSP, RPI, RJD, SP, JD(U), Apnadal extra is a stark reminder of this incomplete project of emancipation of the lower castes. Writing about the limitations of ‘caste for itself’, Hira Singh in his JPS article says, “Eliminating the subordinate position of labour castes in the Brahminical hierarchy will not be achieved simply by their becoming a “caste for itself”, but rather by a broader process: the recognition of the contribution made by their labour power to the making of Indian history and society. This is the empowering discourse made by the black population of the United States, and the political lesson that the sociology of caste has to learn from the sociology of Race.” (see Hira Singh: Real World of Caste in India. Journal of Peasant Studies, April 2008.) Drawing our attention to the limitations of understanding caste by non-Marxist sociologists, Hira Singh says, “The sociology of caste does not address the question of production relations: land is for the most part, a taboo subject notably absent from the vocabulary of sociologists who dissect the caste system. As a result, not only does sociology not have the right answer about the origin and development of castes, but it does not even have the right question. (see Hira Singh JPS 2008.)                        

Since only interpreting the caste system is not enough, our aim is to annihilate them, Hira Singh draws our attention to the limitations of Dalit liberation within the capitalist electoral system, he endorses Dipankar Gupta’s views on the limitations of Dalit political parties and caste mobilization for creating a society without class and casts oppression:- “That scheduled castes, historically deprived of access to material resources  have been unable to realise their political objectives in this regard is an affirmation  of this basic principle at work: the strong and enduring connection between economic and political power in a liberal democratic system. The chances of scheduled caste voters changing the Indian power structure by means of the ballot box is about the same as those of the working class in the liberal democracies of metropolitan capitalist societies: that is to say, negligible. Hence, the centrality of the question: why does the working class keep on electing governments that continue to protect and perpetuate the rule of the capitalist class? The mere fact of voting is designed not to transform the existing socio-economic structure, but rather to perpetuate the rule of the propertied over the non-propertied. As with class so with caste. The inference is not that class is irrelevant in liberal democracies - far from it - but that the political transition from “class in itself” is not just crucial but also difficult to resolve. In much the same way, a “caste in itself” is not necessarily a “caste for itself “(Hira Singh JPS 2008). The lesson one draws from the above quote is that for the ultimate dream of a society without exploitation in India that if “caste for itself”, i.e., the Dalit and OBC assertion, it has to transform into “class for itself” to transcend capitalism, only then the ultimate project of a society where human beings do not exploit other human beings can be realized. And it is here that the political project of Ambedkarites and the political left converges.                                                                                                                          
The above argument, however, does not mean that caste and caste atrocities do not exist in the real “life world” of people. They do exist, and have to be resisted and eliminated. One need not wait until the “revolution” to resist them. But the fight against caste oppression will be incomplete without taking up the land and wage questions. To fight for the land, wage and dignity of Dalits, and the urgent task to put a robust resistance against the shameful gangrapes and the sexual exploitation of Dalit women. There is an urgent need for a principled joint front of Dalit organizations, the women’s movement, the democratic rights movement and the political left. This principled joint front should be based on mutual respect for each other, which also includes respecting for each other’s politics and worldviews. The Ambedkarites just cannot go on ranting against Marxists, while blaming them of not understanding the caste issue. They should seriously read the literature on caste question by the political left and the political left also should seriously engage with the writings of Ambedkar.

And finally, going by the politics and political economy of knowledge production and consumption, I would like to clearly state that if the weberian/dumontion/subaltern/post-colonial/Ambedkarite versions of the caste system have a democratic right to represent the ‘truth’. Going by the same democratic principle of “truth claims”. We Marxists have the equal democratic right to weave a Marxist narrative of ethno politics and caste question. Hira Singh’s just published book is an important intervention in this endeavor. I strongly recommend it for anyone who tries to understand the caste question in India.

1.      Hira Singh: Recasting Caste: From the Sacred to the Profane. Sage, New Delhi, 2014.
2.      Hira Singh: The Real World of Caste in India - a review article. Journal of Peasant Studies, April 2008.

~ Asit

आन्दोलन के दलालों की चालें और मालिकों के मंसूबों पर गरम रोला मज़दूरों ने फिर से पानी फेरा गरम रोला मज़दूर एकता समिति की एक और साहसिक जीत

आन्दोलन के दलालों की चालें और मालिकों के मंसूबों पर गरम रोला मज़दूरों ने फिर से पानी फेरा
गरम रोला मज़दूर एकता समिति की एक और साहसिक जीत

ज्ञात हो कि 22 दिनों की हड़ताल के बाद कल (27 जून) को वज़ीरपुर औद्योगिक क्षेत्र के मालिकों ने गरम रोला मज़दूर एकता समिति’ के समक्ष समर्पण कर दिया। लेकिन आज सुबह मालिक उस सरकारी समझौते को लागू करने में आनाकानी करने लगे और कारखानों में मज़दूरों को घुसने से रोकने लगे। इसके बाद गरम रोला मज़दूर समिति’ के नेतृत्व में अलग-अलग कारखानों के मज़दूरों ने कारखानों के गेट को जाम कर दिया और श्रम विभाग से सम्पर्क किया। थोड़ी ही देर में उप श्रमायुक्त कुछ श्रम निरीक्षकों के साथ स्वयं घटना स्थल पर पहुँच गये। इसके बाद एक मालिक के कारखाने में त्रिपक्षीय वार्ता दोपहर 1 बजे शुरू हुई जिसमें श्रम विभाग के अधिकारियों ने मालिकों को स्पष्ट बता दिया कि अगर मालिक कानूनी तौर पर कारखाने नहीं चला सकते और श्रम कानूनों को लागू नहीं कर सकते तो उनके कारखानों पर ताले लगा दिये जायेंगे। मालिक इस बात पर अड़े हुए थे कि 8 घण्टे का कार्यदिवस में मज़दूरों को भट्ठी के समक्ष लगातार बिना रुके काम करना होगा। सभी जानते हैं कि यह असम्भव है। हर 30-40 मिनट पर ब्रेक लिये बग़ैर मज़दूर उस तापमान पर काम करेगा तो उसकी मौत भी हो सकती है। ऐसे में, ‘गरम रोला मज़दूर एकता समिति’ ने यह चुनौती रखी कि अगर मालिक मज़दूरों को पूरे सुरक्षा के इन्तज़ामात और गियर मुहैया करायेतो मज़दूर 8 घण्टे लगातार कार्य करने को तैयार हैं। 1 बजे शुरू हुई वार्ता रात के साढ़े आठ बजे तक चलती रही। जब मज़दूरों का प्रतिनिधि-मण्डल नहीं झुका तो अन्ततः मालिकों ने फिर से उप श्रमायुक्त के समक्ष सारी शर्तों को फिर से मानते हुए हस्ताक्षर किये और कल से कारखाने चलाने का आश्वासन दिया। निश्चित तौर पर अभी भी यह वक़्त बतायेगा कि ये मालिक इस कानूनी समझौते पर अमल करते हैं या नहीं।
वास्तव मेंआज मालिकों के पलटी खाने के पीछे भी एक अन्तःकथा है। कल मालिकों के बीच भय का माहौल था और उन्होंने ज़्यादा अड़े बग़ैर समझौते पर हस्ताक्षर कर दिया था। लेकिन मालिकों के करीब मौजूद और मज़दूरों से हमदर्दी रखने वाले कुछ सफेद कॉलर कर्मचारियों ने नाम न बताने की शर्त पर कहा कि इंक़लाबी मज़दूर केन्द्र’ के जिन भगोड़ों को आप लोगों ने अपने आन्दोलन से 20 जून को मार भगाया थाउनके द्वारा यह प्रचार किया जा रहा है कि मज़दूर भीतर से कमज़ोर हो गये हैं और किसी “शर्मनाक समझौते” का इन्तज़ार कर रहे हैं। यह प्रचार मालिकों और उनके गुर्गों के पास भी पहुँचा है और ऐसा भी सम्भव है कि आन्दोलन के भगोड़ों ने स्वयं मालिकों के चमचों को यह अफवाह पहुँचायी हो कि मज़दूर कमज़ोर पड़ रहे हैं। ऐसे में,मालिकों के बीच यह राय बनी कि वे 27 जून को बेवजह झुक गये और अगर वे मज़दूरों को और इन्तज़ार करवाते तो फिर मज़दूर स्वयं टूट सकते थे। यही कारण था कि आज मालिकों ने पलटी खायी और समझौते से मुकर गये। उन्हें उम्मीद थी कि इन्तज़ार करवाने से मज़दूर आज ही टूट जायेंगे। लेकिन मालिकों और भगोड़ों की यह चाल आज भी कामयाब नहीं हो सकी। मालिकों ने जानबूझकर वार्ता को 8 घण्टे तक चलाया ताकि मज़दूर थककर समझौता कर लें। लेकिन बीतते वक़्त के साथ मज़दूरों का उत्साह और भी बढ़ता गया और रात 8 बजे तक उनके बीच यह प्रस्ताव पास हो गया कि अगर मालिक कानूनों का पालन करते हुए कारखाने नहीं चला सकता तो हम कारखानों पर कब्ज़ा करके कारखानों को स्वयं चलायेंगे और सरकार से माँग करेंगे कि वह इन कारखानों को टेक-ओवर’ करेविनियमित करे और स्वयं कानूनी तौर पर चलाये। मज़दूरों का यह पैग़ाम 8 बजे ही मालिकों के पास वार्ता में पहुँचा दिया गया और फिर कुछ समय में ही मालिक फिर से सभी शर्तों पर राज़ी हो गये। गरम रोला मज़दूर एकता समिति’ ने एक बार फिर से इन भगोड़ों की चालों को और मालिकों के मंसूबों का नाकामयाब करते हुए अपनी फौलादी एकजुटता को ज़ाहिर कर दिया है।
गरम रोला मज़दूर एकता समिति’ की नेतृत्वकारी समिति के रघुराज ने बताया कि मज़दूर पूर्णतः कानूनों को लागू करवाने के पक्षधर हैं और यह मालिकों की कैसी अन्धेरगर्दी है कि वे खुलेआम यह कह रहे हैं कि वे श्रम कानूनों को नहीं लागू करेंगे। मज़दूरों ने भी यह ठान लिया है कि वज़ीरपुर के गरम रोला कारखाने चलेंगे और कानूनी तौर पर चलेंगेचाहें उन्हें मालिक चलायेंसरकार चलाये या फिर स्वयं मज़दूर चलायें। समिति की कानूनी सलाहकार शिवानी जिन्होंने आज मज़दूर प्रतिनिधि मण्डल की अगुवाई कीने कहा कि मज़दूर पीछे हटने को तैयार नहीं हैं। शिवानी ने बताया कि कारखाना अधिनियम, 1948नियोक्ता को कब्ज़ाकर्ता’ (ऑक्युपायर ऑफ दि फैक्टरी) बोलता है और कब्ज़ाकर्ता’ के तौर पर मालिकों की यह ज़ि‍म्मेदारी होती है कि वे सभी कारखाना व श्रम अधिनियमों को लागू करें। यदि कब्ज़ाकर्ता’ ऐसा करने में असफल रहता है तो क्या कारखाने का प्रबन्धन मालिकों के हाथ से ले नहीं लिया जाना चाहिएक्या उसे मज़दूरों के हाथों में नहीं सौंप दिया जाना चाहिएया फिर सरकार को ऐसे उद्योगों का राष्ट्रीकरण नहीं कर देना चाहिएअगर मज़दूर स्वयं कब्ज़ा लेने या फिर सरकार द्वारा कब्ज़ा लिये जाने की माँग उठाते हैं तो वह कानूनन भी ग़लत नहीं है। नेतृत्वकारी समिति के सदस्य सनी ने कहा कि मज़दूरों के बीच गरम रोला मज़दूर एकता समिति’ निरन्तर इन कानूनी दावपेचों के प्रति जागरूकता पैदा कर रही है। मज़दूर स्वयं यह कह रहे हैं कि अगर कारखाना उन्हें दिया जाये तो वे उसे ज़्यादा अच्छी तरह से चला सकते हैं और वह भी सभी अधिनियमों का पालन करते हुए। ऐसे मेंयदि कल मालिक फिर से समझौते से मुकरते हैं तो मज़दूर गेट ऑक्युपाई करने के मध्यवर्ती कदम से शुरुआत करेंगे और श्रम विभाग और सरकार तक अपनी बात पहुँचाएँगे। उसके बाद ज़रूरत पड़ने पर कारखानों पर कब्ज़ा करने का आन्दोलन शुरू किया जायेगा। सनी ने कहा कि मालिक अभी चेत जायें और सभी श्रम कानूनों का पालन करते हुए कारखानों को चलायें अन्यथा कल उनके जैसे ग़ैर-ज़रूरी वर्ग के लिए वज़ीरपुर औद्योगिक क्षेत्र में कोई जगह नहीं बचेगी।

अन्त मेंमज़दूरों ने कहा कि कल या तो समझौता पूर्णतः लागू किया जायेगा या फिर 27 जून तक चली हड़ताल की अबकारखाना कब्ज़ा करो’ आन्दोलन के रूप में पुनः शुरुआत की जायेगी।

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गूमखाळ बजार मा शराबबंदी का पोस्टर अर होर्डिंग !

गूमखाळ  बजार मा शराबबंदी का  पोस्टर अर  होर्डिंग !  

                                         घपरोळया , हंसोड्या , चुनगेर ,चबोड़्या -चखन्यौर्या -भीष्म कुकरेती      
(s =आधी अ  = अ , क , का , की ,  आदि )

वैदिन मुंबई की एक उत्तराखंडी संस्थाक   जळसा मा भूतपूर्व मुख्यमंत्री अर आजका विरोधी दल का नेता  सुपिन चन्द्र खंडूड़ीन गढ़वाल-कुमाऊं  मा शराबौ बढ़दो रिवाज का विरुद्ध इथगा गरजणि मार कि माइक टूटी गे अर दगड़ मा अयाँ दुसर भूतपूर्व मुख्यमंत्री सगत सिंग कोशियारिन   शराब को बढ़दो चलन से ग्रामीण उत्तराखंड की युवा पीढ़ी खतम हूणी च पर जोर से ऐड़ाट -भुभ्याट कार कि  कोशियारी जीक हल्ला से मेज कुर्सी हिलण लग गेन। 
दुई मुख्यमंत्र्युं मुंबई मा करीं गर्जना की खबर उत्तराखंड का फ़ाइल न्यूजपेपर (जु खाली सरकारी  विज्ञापन लीणो का वास्ता छपदन ) ही ना असली अखबारों मा बि प्रकाशित ह्वे गेन अर सोसल मीडिया मा बि यां पर बहस शुरू ह्वे गे।  भूतपूर्व मुख्यमंत्र्युं की गर्जना का असर इथगा जादा छौ कि दिल्ली , मुंबई , न्यूआर्क , कनाडा का पियक्कड़ भाइ लोग बि  रोज स्याम दैं ठीक आठ बजी 8 PM का पैग  मारदा मारदा फेस बुक मा राज्य सरकार तैं  गाळी दीण लग गेन कि शराब बंदी का वास्ता राज्य सरकार कुछ नि करणी च।  
राज्य सरकार हिल गे। सोसल मीडिया मा शराब बंदी पर बहस से हाइ कमांड का वरद हस्त का बाद बि राज्य का मुख्यमंत्री गिरीश रावत की कुर्सी बि हिलण लगि गे अर रावत जी  तैं आधिकारिक तौर याने औफिसियली पैल बार पता चौल कि ग्रामीण उत्तराखंड शराब का चपेट मा ऐ गे। 
मुख्यमंत्रींन फटाफट शराबबंदी मंत्री तैं आदेश दे कि उत्तराखंड का हरेक ब्लॉक मुख्यालय का बजाराम एक शराब से नुकसान का होर्डिंग लगाओ अर सौ सौ पोस्टर लगाओ।  5 करोड़ रुपया जनहित मा शराबबंदी विज्ञापनों बजट पास ह्वे गे। 
दुसर दिन वित्त मंत्र्याणी श्रीमती जिकुड़ेस्वरि जी मुख्यमंत्री जी से मील कि 5 करोड़ रुपया कखन आल अर कै मद से आल।  मुख्यमंत्री जीन आबकारी मंत्री जी तैं बुलाइ अर ब्वाल ,"राज्य तैं पांच करोड़ रुपया की अतिरिक्त आवश्यकता च त तुरंत कुछ कारो। "
 ठीक दस दिन बाद हरेक ब्लॉक  का मुख्य बजार मा शराब का नुक्सान वाळ होर्डिंग अर पोस्टर चिपक्याणा छया अर लोग एक समाचार बि पढ़णा छया कि राज्य मा पांच विदेशी शराब का अर दस देसी शराब का कारखाना लगणा छन जौं कारखानौं  से राज्य की बीस करोड़ रुपया अतिरिक्त आमदनी  ह्वेलि।  

Copyright@  Bhishma Kukreti  29 /6/2014   

*लेख में  घटनाएँ , स्थान व नाम काल्पनिक हैं ।

End of Misrule by Coterie: West Bengal in Political Cross-road? A K Biswas


End of Misrule by Coterie: West Bengal in Political Cross-road?

Part I
Caste Matters
Caste is perhaps comparable only to poison and/or cancer. Both are too dreadful until and unless urgently cured by strong intervention in time. But caste has no antidote. India is the home of caste, ordained by scriptures and preached by venerable sages and saints over ages, poisoning the mind and body of everybody—sufferer or beneficiary—professing Hinduism. A section of Goebblesian publicists and propa-gandists want the lay countrymen to believe that caste is dying out, if not already dead. Those who have fallen for such gimmicks have been deluded and the cost has been enormous in terms of social peace, happiness and self-esteem. Bengal has been in the frontline with high-decibel claim that caste has ceased to exist there. The propagandists, mainly drawn from a minority section, have ulterior motives to benefit politically as well as socially. Their approach, briefly, is mollifying, language refined and intonation dignified to deceive the illiterate, unsuspecting, and credulous masses.
The dynamics of caste has to be understood by demonstrating untouchability, deprivation and discrimination there alongside provinces, such as, Bihar and Orissa, which a section of Bengalis regard as caste-ridden. An ordinary Bihari or Oriya perhaps is unware that his blessed neighbour Bengal had, according to the 1911 census, returned a larger percentage of untouchables than in his own province. Further, the proportion of people denied access to Hindu temples was more in Bengal than in Bihar and Orissa. Table-1 shows the ground realities of caste dynamics in two provinces.1

With matchless nonchalance and cruelty, the Bengali upper caste Hindus trampled over the necks of the untouchables in complete disregrad for human dignity. Some of the victims did not surrender to their tormentors. The Census of India in 1901 declared that the descendants of Chandals (renamed Namasudras in 1911) and Pods who converted to Islam in Dacca and Chittagong Divisions [now in Bangladesh] aggregated at least nine million. Only the elite could asnwer who were the oppressors, forcing them to seek refuge under Islam for protection and liberation from the thraldom sanctified by the scriptures. It’s anybody’s guess. But the violators of the untouchables responsible for largescale conversion to Islam do not admit it. The bhadralok were the actual creators of East Pakistan by converting the province into a Muslim-majority province through mass conversion of untouchables into Islam.
Many across India are under the delusion that the birthplace of towering social reformers, educationists, religious leaders and winners of Nobel prizes cannot be characterised by caste hatred and discrimination. This is utterly wrong. Such belief, if at all, is solely the result of Goebbelsian propaganda. Example is better than precept. We take two recent instances:
First Example
Vikas Sardar completed due formalities, paying Rs 10,900 for admission of his daughter into Kishaloy, a nursery section of Jadavpur Vidya-peeth, Calcutta. The guardians, who were called for counselling, were supplied a four-page terms and conditions for admission of their wards. The Principal, Krishna Chakraborty, asked Vikas Sardar to read out the terms and conditions of admission. A surprised Vikas wanted to know why he was singled out when none of the others there was subjected to the test. “You are a Scheduled Caste,” shot back the insolent lady Principal. “I want to see and be sure your daughter is eligible for admission.” Vikas refused to be cowed down and to take the humiliation and discrimination unchallenged. He demanded refund of the fees, saying that he would not admit his daughter in the school that practised caste-based discrimination. The school not only did not refund the fees, the Principal set the school’s security guard on him to chase the Scheduled Caste man away. An assaulted and agrieved Vikas lodged a complaint to the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Alipore who directed the Calcutta Police Commissioner to file a case u/s 156 Indian Penal Code 2 in Jadavpur Thana against 11 accused including Krishna Chakraborty and investigate the case. Notably, the ACJM did not direct the Police Commissioner to invoke provisions of the Sche-duled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, leaving a gaping hole for the accused to escape the charges which basi-cally are tantamount to practising untouc-hability and discrimination against a Scheduled Caste girl child seeking admission in a school of her choice.3
This case is of September 2013.
Second Example
The other case, equally illustrative, concerned a school teacher, Nakul Ruidas, of Sukanta Smriti Vidyamandir, Bankura district. A leather worker’s  son, he was recruited through competi-tive examinations held by the West Bengal School Service Commission. From day one, he faced all conceivable forms of harassment and humiliation from his colleagues. Obviously his caste was the target of insinuation in which the students perhaps did not lag behind to join Nakul’s colleagues.
Due to illness, once Nakul absented himself from the school under due intimation to the authorities. On recovery, when he reported to the school for duties, he was not allowed to join. Having exhausted all avenues open to him for relief, the distraught teacher moved the Calcutta High Court for redressal of his grievances and appropriate direction to the school. The High Court ordered the District Inspector of Schools to ensure that the petitoner joined the school; his salaries with arrears were paid within ten days and he did not face any harassment thereafter in his workplace. Notably what the petitioner’s advocate agitated before the Court was far more alarming as it exposed the tip of the iceberg. The Court was told that there were many others like Nakul who were subjected to similar caste-based discrimination and harass-ment.4 The whole case took at least half-a-decade to conclude with the High Court’s intervention. And this incident was reported in February 2010 under a regime that vociferously pretended to champion the cause of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes. Incidentally, year after year during the Left rule thousands of vacancies reserved for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes were not fulfilled on the plea that suitable candidates were not available.
Are further instances necessary to prove the ground realities obtaining in the cultural hea-ven? What else are the connotations and implications of the incidents cited above other than untouchability, discrimination and hatred against the underdogs? Such instances, regard-less of political hue, are not rare. The first instance cited above occured under the present regime. The rulers—Left, Right or Centre—make no difference to the deprived.
Nobody expects that the State administration would take in either of the cases appropriate and prompt action against the offenders to safeguard and uphold the rights and dignity of the underprivileged vactims, though sonorous chants of self-praise continue aloud saying the State is free from the vices of caste.
Caste in their Bone Marrow
Appointment of Sukumar Mallick, ICS as the Chief Secretary of West Bengal in the year 1970 was greeted with surpising protest demonstrations by unionised employees of the State. They were cheered by blistering Bengali media attacks against the top bureaucrat. A holy war was waged against Mallick. Prominent journalists like Vivekananda Mukherjee and Barun Seng-upta, to note only two, led the charge. S. Mallick, who joined as the Chief Secretary on April 23, was ultimately removed on November 3, 1970 after six months 11 days.5
The ICS officer was a Namasudra, a very populous caste of Bengal.
Deshapran Birendra Nath Sasmal (1881-1934), the son of a zamindar of Midnapur and a Bar-at-Law, was edcuated in England. Patriotic to the bone marrow, “Sasmal assisted C. R. Das (Chitta Ranjan Das) in organising the Bengal Provincial Swarajya Party and subsequently became its Secretary”. In the teeth of opposition of the Indian National Congress, he won the election to the Calcutta Corporation. “He (Sasmal) aspired to be the Chief Executive of the Calcutta Corporation. But Das feared to offer the post to Sasmal because he assumed that the choice would offend the Kayastha clique of Calcutta.”6 (Italicised by this writer)
In the circumstances, a younger Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945) became the CEO of the Calcutta Corporation with the blessings of C.R. Das, who was elected its Mayor in 1924.7 Subhas Bose had disdainfully commented: “What a joke! That Keot of Midnapur as CEO of Calcuttan Corporation?”8 Humiliated, hurt and angry, Sasmal left the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee and went back to his legal practice and took control of local politics in Midnapur.9 Evidently, an appeased clique, by hate-mongering, threats and blackmail, won the day.
Caste, either in the colonial era or after independence, is not anathema to the Bengali bhadralok who pretend to be liberal and unorthodox. It is the result of misinformation campaigns that drove the rest of India to believe that caste is non-existent in Bengal. Let us in the same breath admit that caste is avidly courted in Bengal in politics, literature and social life. We once again demonstrate how in a grim phase of history the bhadralok flaunted their caste tag with great bravado. The year 1905 was marked by partition of the province into East and West Bengal carried out by Governor-General Lord Curzon. A meeting, attended by a large body of prominent citizens, in the Town Hall, Calcutta, on March 4, 1905 denounced the British scheme of partition. A memorandum was submitted to the British authorities after the meeting. One of the pleas agitated therein was glorification of two of the bhadralok castes, though astounding, if not ridiculous to the core.
“A Brahman or a Kayastha of one part of Bengal will not now object to form matrimonial connection with a Brahman or a Kayastha of the other. But, divided by two governments, they wil not have opportunities of associating with each other, and all social connections will in due course cease to exist between them.” (Paragraph 48)10
What a plea! Matrimonial alliance is central to human society all over the universe. In Bengal, Brahmans and Kayasthas pretended to soak in it in patriotic pretension and flaunted it as a naional agenda without any sense of shame or embarrassment. Why were the Baidyas, along with the populous depressed and untouchable castes, excluded? The anti-partition leaders cried hoarse that the scheme was calcu-lated to destroy Bengali culture, language and brotherhood. Their memorandum landed right inside the British Parliament. Sir Surendra Nath Banerjea had introduced the puerile idea in that document. His boastful claim, ”I had a large hand in drawing up.......” this memorandum11 is ringing and leaves none in doubt about his loyalty and affiliation. These are the very people and their descendants who now display a high decibel of allergy against the caste-tag. The historians tell us it was a patriotic movement directed against the British!
Anti-caste propaganda by the bhadralok serves two purposes: The lower social order is afraid to discuss as also disclose one’s caste in public under fear of inviting scornful condemnation as uncultured and brute, a common refrain inbhadralokdom and in their lexicon. The other is to drill a lasting sense of inferiority and fear into the minds of the low castes. So the feeling and sense of unlimited shame and vulnerability drove very large sections of the Hindus, particu-larly Bengali, to agitate before the colonial government for change of caste designation with a view to earning higher social status and respectability. The Baidyas and Kayasthas queued up before the colonial authorities along with untouchables, for example, Bagdi, Hari, Dom, Chandal, Sunri, Chamar, Rajbanshi, to note only a few, with memoranda to the Census authorities in 1911, 1921 and 1931 for improving their social standing in the eyes of the fellow countrymen. A prolonged movement, participa-ted in by the Kayastha landlords, civil servants (including ICS, holding offices as Divisional Commissioner, District Judge, Deputy Magis-trate etc.), legal practitioners, writers, journa-lists, clerks, businessmen etc., was launched to claim Kshatriyahood but without luck.12 The Census authorities turned down the cherished pleas of all castes (including Baidyas and Kayasthas)—save and except two—the Nama-sudras and Mahishyas! They craved before the authorities to raise barrages for protection against the cascading hatred flowing from the caste(s) above each of them. Indeed low status in the caste hierarchy is not only a fear factor, it’s terror (even now) for each and everyone. They are crushed without provocation publicly as well as privately with no remedy.
Public discussions on caste, moreover, have the potential for exposing the truth along with its grim ramifications plaguing every walk of life. Total monopolisation of opportunities in West Bengal by a microscopic minority has blocked all avenues to power and influence for the rest, irrespective of caste or creed. No other State has succeeded in blocking the upward mobility of the lower social strata for so long.
Part II
New Horizon in Bengali Politics to End Monopoly?
End Brahminical Monopoly in Politics
“It has been decided to expel Comrade Rezzak Mollah from the party for serious anti-party activity and for belittling the party’s image in public,” declared the State office of the Communist Party of India-Marxist in a cryptic statement. The Bengalis in West Bengal, barring a few ideologcal bigots and imbeciles, know, by and large, the reason is different. The statement is bereft of truth; it’s a bundle of white lies.
What have actually irked and upset his bosses are unpardonable utterances aimed at political profligacy of the rulers for over 34 years (1977-2011). The ousted comrade was quoted as saying: “My target is to fight the brahmanical order in the mainstream political parties, where the voice of the backward Hindus and Muslims are seldom heard.”13 Only with the exception of the Bengali rulers and ruling castes, none would feel hurt at Rezzak’s outburst,—long, long overdue. His further salvo was shriller still: “These people have been used by political parties while the Banerjees, Bhattacharjees, Chakra-bartis—the upper-caste brahmins—called the shots.”14 Unpalatable and bitter though, he can rarely be challenged by any sane observer of Bengali politics and administration. Outside the horizon of the myopic privileged class, everyone knows as to who have imperviously mono-polised power and authority. West Bengal is ruled by Brahmans, Baidyas and Kayasthas but they do nothing for the uplift of the rest. This is the genuine cause for the simmering resentment against them.
These are the undeniable facts and factors leading to the expulsion of Rezzak Mollah. By targeting them, he committed blasphemy in the Bengali heartland. Such volcanic erruption from a public forum aiming at the narcissisticHerrenvolks, who have subjugated the majority comprising the Bengali Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, backward classes and minorities is without parallel in the post-colonial era. But did he warrant to be kicked out? A sitting MLA, Abdur Rezzak Mollah (born in 1945) might not be a leader of all-India stature but he has been representing one of its rural constituencies for a pretty long period from 1977 uninterruptedly in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly and was a Minister since 1981 to 2011. Son of a peasant, Rezzak is definitely popular among his constituents, if victory in all elections held since 1977 is at all any indicator.
He voiced grievances which, though widely prevalent, are never aknowledged by the Bengali aristocratic and elite ruling class of any hue. Rezzak is known to speak out his mind without beating about the bush. The occasion of his outburst against his party was offered by the nomination of a candidate for election to the Rajya Sabha in 2014. The party’s favours fell on a kulin Brahmin; such kulin Brahmins are overrated in public esteem and furiously courted by political parties in Bengal, nay, everywhere in India. The outgoing MP, also a Brahman, recommended the said kulin for the slot vacated by him for nomination. This brings to mind the caste syndrome Nirod C. Chaudhuri pejoratively portrayed: “Don’t you know that a Banerjee takes in Chatterjee and a Bose a Mitra?”15 He underlined how a Brahman favours another Brahman only, a Kayastha another Kayastha and so on, for cornering any opportunities. In their estimation, none else other than themselves is suitable for the office of trust and confidence to hold. Thanks to nepotism, Nirod Babu landed a job in Defence Accounts Departmet, Calcutta in the 1920s even without submitting an application during the colonial era.
Hence Rezzak’s accusation against the Communist Party-Marxist of being trapped in Brahminical appeasement just cannot be ques-tioned or slighted. His declaration to form a political party comprising the marginalised Dalit, tribal, backward classes and minorities in West Bengal to fight the Assembly election in 2016 is the most unexpected and unwelcome challenge essentially for thebhadralok. If elected to power, he further asserted, the Chief Minister would be a Dalit and the Deputy Chief Minister from a minority, who have never been trusted with any portfolio of importance. In fact, one would be at pains to recall any discussion on Dalit and tribal issues in the West Bengal Assembly in about the last four decades.
A London-based journalist and author, himself a bhadralok, defined his class with down-to-earth realism. ”The bhadralok (civilised gentleman) in Calcutta is the most assiduously complex city man in the world. He can be both saturnine and generously hospitable, intellectual and barbaric, civil and outrageously uncouth in the same human frame.”16 To the bhadralok, the world extends right upto the boundaries of Calcutta. So reaction of the privileged club is predictable. The underdogs are, without doubt, familiar with their saturnine, barbaric and outrageously uncouth personality.
A popular leader though, Rezzak incurred displeasure of the appartchik in the high-end of his party’s hierarchy. The leader has not just embarassed his erstwhile comrades and follo-wers, he has provoked utter dismay in thebhadralok circles while the educated sections in the marginalised communities have justifiable reasons to cheer him. A widely circulated Bengali daily insinuated that Rezzak, by his accusation, indulged in caste politics. Speaking unassailable truth is derided as caste politics! No adverse notice of caste, however, is taken against the bhadralok by the said media for indulgence if and when their own fortunes, political, social or economic, are promoted! They become euphoric if and when favours blindly fall on the upper castes and the stigma of casteism is forgotten. The Bengali media, not long ago, burst into wild and protracted songs and dances over his caste as the Brahmin of Keernahar, referring to a village in Birbhum district, when the first ever Bengali was elected to the highest office as the President of India.
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, for instance, did not entrust any tribal leade with a Cabinet rank as Minister. Out of 33 Ministers he had 16 Brahmans, who, though three per cent of the State’s population, grabbed 48 per cent of his Cabinet berths—16-times more than its share of population could justify. As high as 69 per cent of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Cabinet was packed with Brahmans, Baidyas and Kayasthas, who formed 6.5 per cent of the population of West Bengal. His Cabinet boasted of two junior tribal Ministers though they accounted for six per cent of the population. The bhadralok see no wrong in such blind monopo-lisation of power in a minority and they don’t paint themselves as casteist.
Of the 294 MLAs in the West Bengal Assembly, 64 were Kayasthas, as against 58 Brahmans during Jyoti Basu’s last term. The trend, however, got reversed during Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s tenure. In passing, it is noted that the present Cabinet also boasts of 16 Brahman Ministers and a solitary tribal leader. An oppressive minority has colonised West Bengal, converting democracy into their obliging beast of burden. They have been doing what is most essential for perpetuating themselves in positions of power and authority. Brazilian philosopher and educationist Paulo Friere correctly diagnosed the attitude and strategy of such minority with down-to-earth vision: “As the oppressive minority subordinates and dominates the majority, it must divide in order to remain in power. The minority cannot allow the luxury of tolerating the unification of the people, which would undoubtedly signify a serious threat to their own hegemony........ Concepts such as unity, organisation and struggle are immediately lebelled as dangerous.”17
The masses, reposing their faith and confi-dence in their leaders, have ultimately dscovered that they have actually been used as ladders and exploited in keeping them in power perpetually with no benefits accruing to them. More importantly, the masses not only stand badly divided but they fight dangerously also amongst themselves leading often to bloodbath, which has become the hallmark of political engineering in the bhadralokdom. The strategy behind politically engineered killings ensures that a member of the minority community kills fellow community member(s), giving the rulers huge space to claim with great elan that the State is free from the communal virus and violence thanks to their enlightened rule. The Scheduled Castes similarly kill Scheduled Castes and tribals kill tribals. Rarely, if ever, a bhadralok gets involved in such strifes and is even bruised; the consequence is predictable: the whole admi-nistration, political machinery and bhadralok media become supersensitive and hyper-active in ensuring justice to the victim with alacrity. Most, if not all, victims of police bullets, lathi charges and custodial murders in the State belong to the people who are subordinated and subjugated by the ruling elite. Of course, this is, by and large, an all-India feature. No all-India study has been carried out to ascertain the extent of abuse of administrative powers and violation of human rights by communtiy, caste or tribes. However, a limited survey undertaken by a UN Working Group on Human Rights and a Working Group on Human Rights in India covering “47 districts over a period of more than two years shows that on an average 1.8 million people are victims of police torture and violence in India every year”.18 The majority of the victims, if we carefully look at occasional media reports, appear to belong to the Dalits, tribals, and minorities who have no protectors nor well-wishers in high places to intervene in the highhandedness against them. According to the Asian Centre for Human Rights, West Bengal has captured the fifth position in deaths in police custody. “During 2001-2010, Maharashtra recorded the highest number of deaths in police custody with 250 deaths; followed by Uttar Pradesh (174); Gujarat (134); Andhra Pradesh (109); West Bengal (98); Tamil Nadu (95)..........”19  During 2001-2010, 12,727 deaths in judicial custody took place. Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of deaths in judicial custody with 2171 deaths, followed by Bihar (1512); Maharashtra (1176); Andhra Pradesh (1037); Tamil Nadu (744); Punjab (739); West Bengal (601).20 Police brutalities perpetrated on hapless victims do not jell with the angelical image the Bengali ruling elite claims. Neither do all cases trek to official records.
Long ago, the shape of things obtaining in West Bengal today was predicted by Lord Ripon, the Governor-General of India, in his Convo-cation address to the Calcutta University in 1882. “It is not desirable in any country to have a small highly educated class brought into contact with large uneducated masses (...............) and that there should be no sharp line drawn between the educated few and the ignorant and untrained many.”21 The socio-political conse-quences and costs of a small highly educated, self-serving and scheming class in commanding heights are enormous for those—the illiterate, ill-educated and credulous masses—under them. West Bengal under bhadralok domination is a shining example and eye-opener. The rulers since 1947 in general and in the last three-and-a-half decades in particular have brazenly proved that they have brought the entire population under their feet, crushing them mercilessly. This is a fascist attitude and proclivity.
How Feasible a Political Revolution
for Replacing the Minority Rule?
The demography of West Bengal is most suitable for the idea propagated by the ousted Communist leader, Rezzak, to bring down political domination by the clique in place since 1947. Where does exactly lie the intrinsic strength for forming a political party of the deprived and discriminated communities? Does a party of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, backward castes and minorities seem feasible, if formed to contest the next elections? Is such a mobilisation viable at all? West Bengal has India’s largest concentration of Muslims, 23.6 per cent. The Scheduled Castes account for the second largest (23.6 per cent), next only to Punjab (28 per cent) and tribal communities are six per cent. They are wontonly neglected and discriminated against. With a staggering 53.2 per cent population, who are stakeholders and aggrieved against the State Government, a new dawn is the most feasible political proposition. The backward castes are neither closely integrated in sharing political power and auhtority mono-polised by the elite. Therefore theHerrenvolks holding monopoly of power can all be thrown out in future if the idea can be pursued avidly. Deprived and aggrieved citizens have every right to fight for self-determination, for bringing an end to monopoly of power by theHerrenvolks and for ameliorating their fate in a democratic manner. What actually is in place in West Bengal is the antithesis of democracy. The self-service of a small class under pretension for public service thereby has to come to an end for the greater good.
1.  A.K. Biswas, Understanding Bihar, Blumoon Books, Delhi, Secod edition, 2001, p. 218.
2.  Section 156 in The Indian Penal Code, 1860 reads: “Liability of agent of owner or occupier for whose benefit riot is committed.— Whenever a riot is committed for the benefit or on behalf of any person who is the owner or occupier of any land respecting which such riot takes place, or who claims any interest in such land, or in the subject of any dispute which gave rise to the riot, or who has accepted or derived any benefit therefrom, the agent or manager of such person shall be punishable with fine, if such agent or manager, having reason to believe that such riot was likely to be committed, or that the unlawful assembly by which such riot was committed was likely to be held, shall not use all lawful means in his power to prevent such riot or assembly from taking place and for suppressing and dispersing the same.”
3.  Khabor 365 Days, a Bengali daily, Kolikata, Friday September 20, 2013. p. 3.
4. Ananda Bazar Patrika, February 4, 2010.
5.  The State was under Preident’s Rule during this period. This information has been gathered through the good offices of a retired IAS officer of the West Bengal cadre who declined to disclose his name.
The clique had campaigned against Birendra Nath Sasmal and conviced Basanti Devi, the wife of Chittaranjan Das, against his appointment as the CEO. She influenced her husband and the Mahisya was eased out of the arena despite all his qualities and sacrifices for patriotic causes.
8. In 1992, Asok Mitra, ICS, who was a prolific writer and scholar, disclosed this at a seminar on education to mark the Ambedkar Centenary Celebrations in Mahabodhi Society Hall, Calcutta. This essayist was present there. All those present were shocked at the disclosure by an unassailable authority of Mitra’s stature who was inter alia the Census Commissioner of India in 1961.
10.  Nityapriya Ghosh and Ashoke Kumar Mukherjee, Partition of Bengal, 1905-1911, Sahitya Samsad, Calcutta, February 2005, Calcutta, p. 37.
11.  S.N. Banerjea, A Nation in Making, OUP, 1925, p. 163.
12.  In the 1911 Census, the number of memoranda by various castes including Baidyas and Kayasthas of Bengal and Babhans (now called Bhumihars) of Bihar were so large that its total weight was no less than one-and-a-half maund.
13.  The Times of India, January 5, 2014, news under caption, “Abdur Rezzak Mollah’s distance with CPM grows”.
14. Ibid.
15. Nirode C. Chaudhuri, Desh, a popular Bengali magazine, Sharadiya Special 1400, p. 67.
16.  Sasthi Brata (Chakravarti), India: The Perpetual Paradox, Rupa & Co., 1986 p. 98.
17. Paulo Friere, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Penguin Books, 1972, p. 111.
18. The Times of India, June 28, 2012, news captioned, “43 die in police custody daily: UN Study”.
19.  Asian Centre for Human Rights, press release of November 21, 2011.
20. Ibid.
21.  Speeches and Unpublished Resolutions of Lord Ripon, edited by Ramachandra Palit, Calcutta, 1882, p. 286.
The author is a former Divisional Commissioner and Vice-Chancellor, B.R. Ambedkar University, Muzaffarpur, Bihar. He can be contacted
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