Democracy a form of society or a form of governance

84. I.P. EXT. Delhi – 92
Ph 2202855
PH. 6107676

Sir / Madam,

We are only a step away from the next millenium. The 21st century is all set to `greet` us all. Will the Dalit masses of India also be accorded the similar welcome? Or, will Dalits also be allowed to share the fruits of development ?

The Dalits or the former non-citizens, were accorded formal citizenship only very recently, when India evolved into a Republic in 1950. The Constitution directs the State to ensure Justice to all. Has that Constitutional mandate been honoured?

Dalits constitute one fourth (16.48 % SCs / 8.08 % STs ) of India`s total population, which in real terms, comes to 20.25 crores - more than the population of France, UK, and Germany put together. However, as per an independent survey, ( In Search of a Dalit Journalist, The Pioneer, 16 November, 1996, New Delhi ) there was not a single Dalit journalist in any of the major media organisation in the Capital. This symbolically mirrors the true face of India`s caste society.

As per the census report ( 1991 ), of the total landless agricultural labourers in the country, 45.23 % are Dalits. That means, almost every second landless agricultural labourer in the country is a Dalit. Further, to narrate our plight in a more clearer terms, it will be in order to state that, of the total Dalit Main Work Force in the Primary sector, 63.54 % SCs and 36.32 % STs are landless agricultural labourers.

On the education front, Dalits` position is no better. Of the total Dalit population, 62.59 % SCs and 70.40 % STs are illiterate, and formal education (matric and above) among literate Dalits cannot be more than 8 per cent. The English literacy amongst Dalits must be nominal, and computer literacy still a day-dream.

Dalits have hardly any presence in trade / commerce , and in all likelihood, there is not a single Dalit industrialist in the country. There is a virtual ban on Dalits entry in public institutions.

Where do Dalits stand today? As per the figures provided by the Union Ministry of labour (1996), the total employment in the government [ central govt., state govts., Semi-govt., local bodies ] organisations is less than two crores [ 1.95 crore ] , and therefore, even if the officially prescribed quota of 22.50 % is fulfilled, not even 50 lakhs Dalit stand a chance for an honourable livelihood. As per the statistics provided by the Directorate of Employment & Training, 1993, there were 63 lakhs Dalits educational achievements / training, waiting on live register for jobs, and only a tiny section of them find placement every here.

The cases of atrocities are increasing day by day, but the proportion of equittal rate is also rising. During the years-1989,`90and`91, a total of 62.38 thousand cases of atrocities were committed against Dalits, in which 2116 were murdered. These are the cases officially registered in various police stations in the country, and a very high number of cases go un-reported.

In the light of the facts as cited above, we have every reason to state that, the model of development pursued during past 50 years, has failed to give the Dalit masses their due share. In fact, that model, which is still in operation, has on the one hand, facilitated the upper varnas to establish their hold over secondary / tertiary sectors of economy and also their monopoly over urban public institutions, and on the other hand, the upper shudras have established their dominance over the primary sector and, up to some extent, over rural public institutions. As per our own estimate, by the year 2011, if no meaningful process of democratisation is initiated, the upper shudras will have established their monopoly over the agrarian assets and its public institutions.

The Dalits and the artisan castes[ Most Backward Castes- MBCs ] , who account for about 60 % of India`s total population, have been greatly marginalised , and are also sandwiched between upper varna – upper shudra fight for supremacy.

In the proposed draft paper, we have made an attempt to re-define the Dalits` agenda for re-organising society for 21st century India. We very sincerely believe that the more radical content of Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar`s philosophy be reconsidered once again. We very strongly feel that without creating Social Democracy, we cannot have a genuine political democracy, and unless we have a genuine political democracy, we cannot achieve our long cherished goal of an egalitarian social order. We seek to launch a compaign in favour of this proposed agenda, and your partnership will greatly help the cause. We would welcome your suggestion / comment, and even criticisms, if any, with open mind.

With thanks and kind regards.

Dr. Sheoraj Singh `Bechain`
Chandra Bhan Prasad





India is often described as the largest democracy in the world. Ever since independence, twelve Parliaments have been installed, and at no point of time, armed forces or any other totalitarian force, challenged the civilian rule. On that count, India is indeed the largest democracy in the world. However, the theorists of State, never ever acknowledge that there is a parallel institutions of varna / caste , which co-exist with institutions of modern State, and which are inherently un-democratic in essence and form. It is also never accepted that varna / caste social order has an in-built State-system within itself, with a well defined concept of non-citizenship, which prevents the out-castes and the tribal communities, from enjoying civic rights available to rest others. It has also been downplayed in the mainstream academics that the modern Indian State evolved without eliminating traditional social institutions and production relations, which are even now strong enough to regulate the affaires of the Indian society even today.

In the early 1940s, when the prospects of India’s freedom had brightened, there was an intense debate as to what form of government India would adopt ? Dr. B R Ambedkar too expressed his views, and strongly advocated for a democratic form of governance for India. In fact, there was almost unanimity in favour of a democratic form of governance. However, what mattered most, for Ambedkar, was the way democracy was being defined by the privileged social groups. The privileged social groups were insistent on continuing with varna/caste institutions - which would continue to regulate social life of the people, but at same time asked for a modern State-system, to regulate the political life of society. Dr Ambedkar could foresee the consequences of such a theoretical design, wherein the institutions of varna/caste, would decisively undermine the authority of the modern State, and thus retain the status-quo.

Dr. Ambedkar in 1943, argued that, " A democratic form of Government presupposes a democratic form of society. The formal framework of democracy is of no value and would indeed be a misfit if there was no social democracy". He further emphasized, "The politicals never realized that democracy was not a form of Government: it was essentially a form of society". He was extremely apprehensive of the Dalits` fate in the independent India. For, he could clearly see that most political outfits of his time were preparing for a democratic form of government, without even questioning the varna/caste organisation of the Indian society. That is why, he was insistent on a thoroughgoing social reform movements along radical lines, of which, most political conflicts were averse to. He could also see that, no political organisation was prepared to intervene in the internal affairs of the society. While referring to the experiences of other societies, he had cautioned, "As experience proves, rights are protected not by law but by the social and moral conscience of society. If social conscience is such that it is prepared to recognise the rights which law chooses to enact, rights will be safe and secure. But if the fundamental rights are opposed by the community, no law, no Parliament, no Judiciary can guarantee them in the real sense of the word".

Notwithstanding Dr. Ambedkar’s forceful plea, the caste-Hindus could never reconcile to the idea of democratising India’s social organisation. Contrary to the experience of other societies, say, the European ones, where evolution of political democracy was accompanied, if not preceded, by an all-round democratisation of their socio-religious institutions. Contrary to that universal logic, India’s political ‘democracy’ evolved without abolishing the traditional institutions, resulting into a perpetual conflict between the two, where the later dominates the former.

The Constituent Assembly, while drafting the Constitution for an independent India, could not ignore the vital questions of civil society and citizenship, and therefore, assigned A twine role to the Indian Republic, i.e., the State to accomplish the task of democratising Indian social order, and also to regulate the socio-politiical affaires of the society.The Constitution, in its preamble itself, directs the State, to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY, of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and opportunity; and to promote among them all; FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual..

If we read the Indian Constitution, along with constitutions of other democracies, the Indian Constitution sounds like manifesto of some radical political organisation, seeking revolutionary transformation in a particular society. The caste society had then, when the Constitution was being framed, very reluctantly agreed to opt for a civil society, and the task was to be accomplished by the modern State.

However, fifty years have passed since India evolved into a Republic, but the objectives it set for itself, are far from being accomplished. Why has it not been done is not a great riddle to ponder over. Compare the two events: India became independent in 1947, and evolved into a Republic in 1950. Celebrations for golden Jubilee of Independence began in 49th year year itself. Celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of India as a Republic should have begun in this year itself, but there is near total silence. Why? Is it because, the independence symbolises transfer of power from British colonisers to caste Hindus, whereas, evolution of India into a Republic, marks a great rupture in its known history, where varna/caste institutions were officially rejected in favour of a democratic order.

This only goes on to prove the obvious - that the caste society is still not prepared to internalise the value system of the Indian Republic. The irony is that two parallel system of governance, mutually contradictory in nature, co-exist together - the traditional varna/caste institutions at the gross-root level regulate social conduct of the society, and the institutions of the State, regulate the political conduct of the society.The resilient varna/caste institutions prevail over the institutions of the State, which decisively undermine the very authority of the modern State. During the past five decades, the State was not allowed to accomplish the tasks assigned to it by the Constitution .The non-citizens or the out-castes and the tribals, continue to languish at the margin of the Indian society, and are forced into serving members of the varna / caste social organisation. Consider the followings:

Dalits constitute one fourth [ 16.48 % Scs / 8.08 % Sts ] of India’s total population. Of the total Dalit population, 77.0 5 Scs and 90.02 % Sts are situated in rural India as against 62.17 % non- Dalits who live in the countryside. That means, the Dalits` migration to urban society, one of the indices of development, has been at a much slower rate. Further, of the total Dalit Main Work Force [MWF], 49.06 % Scs and 32.69 % Sts are landless agricultural labourers, as against 19.66 % non-Dalits. Interestingly, of the total landless labourers in the country [7.45 crores], 45.20 % are Dalits-almost twice their population composition in the total population of India.

On the education front, the disparities are rather too glaring. In the year 1951, the combined population of SC/Sts was 7.08 crores. By the year 1991, the combine population of SC/ST ILLITERATES is to the tune of 13.29 crores, almost twice the population in 1951? As per 1991 census, 62.59 % Scs and 70.40 % Sts are illiterates, as against 47.79 % illiteracy amongst non-Dalits. The formal education amongst Dalit literate [ education above Matric] cannot be above 7.0 % , English literacy must be negligible, and Computer literacy still a day-dream. Whatever indices we choose to measure development, Dalits lag far behind rest of the social categories. If the experiences of the past five decades are any indicator, Dalits’ condition may not witness any marked improvement in the near future.


The socio-cultural and political organisations/institutions in India evolve along varna/caste lines, and therefore, no organisation ventures to offer any kind of meaningful critique of its social constituency. While various varna/caste-groups compete for their dominance amongst themselves, and at occasions, fight bitterly against each other, but whenever confronted with Dalits, the entire caste society displays a rare kind of consensus in opposing Dalits.

When Dr. Ambedkar arguing for democratising social institutions, others countered by insisting that , it is only through political processes - that is, through the State actions that an equitable distribution of resources, and social equity will be accomplished. However, when State was assigned his task , the caste - society adopted many methods to subvert the very objectives of the modern State.

Consider the followings:

(i)There are 545 Lok Sabha seats, in which 22.55 per cent seats are reserved for Dalits, which invariably go to Dalits because of a clear cut Constitutional directive. There is no such provision for Rajya Sabha, and therefore, out of 250 seats, hardly a dozen are filled by Dalit communities. That means, the Indian polity, regulated by the values of varna/caste society, is not at all prepared to accept Constitutional verdicts as the standard-setter.

(ii) The Sixth All India Educational Survey (NCERT, Vol. III, New Delhi, 1998) has brought out the work force composition of school teachers under different management ( see Appendix A). The survey results show that Dalits [SC/ST combined] constitute 17.64 % in the schools run by government, 11.99% in the school run by local bodies, and 9.91% in the schools run by private bodies, which are funded by the State, and a mere 7.07 % in schools run by un-aided private bodies.

The above figures clearly demonstrate that the institutions under direct State control tend to be more democratic in according space to Dalits than the institutions where State control is less or non existent. That means, unless Constitutionally made mandatory, the caste society on its own initiative is not prepared to give due representation to Dalits in public institutions.

As per the report of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, 1994, following are the figures relating to Dalits` induction in various branches of the of the State:

Total SC/ST Employees : Percentage

Central Government 36,59,391 21.38

Public Sector Enterprises 21,52,650 24.54

Public Sector Banks 08,87,507 19.30

Total 66,99,548 22.17

The above figures show that Dalits form a significant portion in the Government and Government owned institutions/enterprises. However, it is altogether a different question that in group A services their representation is far below the prescribed quota.

Private Sector: Though there is no study to show to as what is Dalits’ composition in the Private Sector, we can still get some idea from the Census of 1991. In the category- Other than Household Industry (organised labour, mostly private industry ) SC/ST form 14.28% of the total workforce. Going by our own experience, we can safely assume that the Dalits employed in private industries/ enterprises are likely to be manual workers, engaged in activities considered menial in nature. Strangely enough the overall composition of Dalits in the organised sector, where they are likely to be manual labourers, is less than their composition in State run enterprises/ industries.

Public Institutions: By "public institutions" we mean the centers of learning / research / training, art / Literature / culture / media establishments and NGOs etc., and which operate in `public interest`. Such institutions fall in four broad categories:

(I) Institutions funded by the State, enjoying autonomy from government control- i.e. schools/ colleges / universities / research organisations , NGOs etc.

(ii) Institutions which do not seek government funding, though get certain benefits from the State, i.e. media , ‘charitable‘ societies , trusts maintained by industrial / business houses.

(iii) International institutions, i.e. UN bodies—UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO etc.

[iv] Foreign institutions—Foreign Donors, foreign research foundations etc.


Most public institutions are run by the educated and ‘enlightened‘ elite of the Indian society. However, in the name of autonomy, the ‘enlightened‘ elite ensures that the Dalits are kept away from public institutions. We will briefly discuss conduct of such institutions.


As per the SELECTED EDUCATIONAL STATISTICS [1996-‘97], of the total enrolment for the post –graduation in sciences [ 2.62 lacks ] , Dalits comprise only 3.43 per cent [ .09 lack ], though their share in India‘s total population is one-fourth. As we all know that unless and until there is good schooling, students are unlikely to excel in science/technology/ management studies. What are the yardsticks of good schooling ? One could endlessly debate this question. However , what all we can say at this stage is that, the schools with English as the medium of instruction have a decisive edge over rest others. An English medium school is likely to have much better infrastructural facilities , better trained teachers, and better teaching discipline. Do the Dalit children have any chance of good schooling ? India has a variety of school systems, mainly as followings:

[1] The government controlled schools

[2] The local bodies` Controlled [Municipal] schools

[3] The private, but government aided schools

[4] The fully private schools

N.B. For all the categories, we have urban / rural divisions, where urban schools have an edge over the rural schools.

The better school system ?

[a] The schools with English as the medium of instruction generally fall in the last category [4], but not all the schools in this category are English medium. The fully private schools [Convent/Public] are generally run by industrial houses, profit making ‘non-profit‘ organisations and Christian outfits. It is this version of school system which have English as the medium of instruction, and where children of the rich upper varnas, study.

[b] The schools run by the central government i.e. Kendriya Vidyalai Sngathan [also known as Central Schools], depending upon locations, impart education in English as well as in vernacular languages. This set of schools are ranked only next to private English medium schools, and generally, the children of the middle classes, who cannot afford private English school, study in this set of schools. The same logic follows for the school system run by state governments.

[c] The schools run by private bodies , but funded by the State , impart education in vernacular languages and are ranked only next to government schools. Such schools are attended by all communities , including not so well to do sections of upper varnas.

[c] The schools run by Local bodies [Municipalities] are rated lowest, and generally confine to elementary level of education , are only next to the schools run by private bodies with government aids, and it is this version of school system where children of lower castes, and children of other poor study.


As per the Selected Educational Statistics [1996-‘97] , a total of 2.67 crores Dalit children are enrolled at the Primary [ 1-V] stage of learning. However, what we are not informed as how many of them are enrolled in English medium schools ? If Dalits` socio-economic profile is taken into account, we can say with near complete certainty, that most Dalit children study in schools run by Municipalities / government aided private school system, ranked lowest in terms of quality. Since Dalits are deprived of good schooling, their absence from higher / technical education becomes inevitable.


The Article 46 of the Constitution directs the State to pay "special attention" to the educational needs of the Dalit masses. That Constitutional verdict has never been honored by the Indian State, however, it has not been rejected altogether. In the name of paying special attention, what government does is to accord free-ship to Dalit students, and a ridiculously low amount in forms of scholarships-but not without a condition- that is, THE AVAILBILITY OF FREE-SHIP/ SCHOLAR FACILITIES TO ONLY THOSE DALIT STUDENTS WHO ENROL IN GOVERNMENT OR THE GOVERNMENT AIDED PRIVATE SCHOOLS. THAT MEANS, DALIT CHILDREN ENROLLED IN ENGLISH MEDIUM PRIVATE SCHOOLS ARE NOT ENTITLED TO ANY OF THE FACILITIES OFFERRED BY THE STATE.


As per the report of the National Commission for SC/ST, [1993] of the total Dalits employed [ 1 6 2 5 0 5 3 ] in the Central Government, only 5 8 5 0 8 were in Group A services or its equivalent [ including public sector / nationalised banks]. That means, of the total Central Government Dalit employees, a mere 3.60 per cent, theoretically speaking, are in a position to educate their children in English medium schools. If we take the total number Dalits employed in the government sector [ including all the states/ union territories] which cannot be more than 40 lacks, and proportion of Group A Dalit employees in that , and compare it with Dalits total population [ 20.56 crones ] then it can be said with near total certainty, that the entire Dalit child population in the country is outside English medium school system.


The well furnished, although shady, chambers in the Planning Commission building are invariably occupied by the products of the English schools, and so are the people running affairs of various ministries. The academic world is controlled by the English educated elite, and so are the stock exchanges of the country. The Indian media is largely controlled by the English educated elite, and so are most public institutions. The Indian judiciary is an exclusive preserve of the English educated elite, and so is the command structure in the Indian armed forces. In one word, products of the English schools shape the ideas, [un] make the national opinion, and run the affairs of the State. By excluding Dalits from the English system of schooling, the entire Dalit masses are excluded from running affairs of the Indian society.


There are over 250 Universities and 9000 College spread all over the country, employing largest number of intellectuals. Also, there are thousands of research institutions, engaged in researches on specialised subjects. Such institutions are run by ‘enlightened‘ and educated Indians. The University Grants Commission, an apex body to fund and oversee the functioning of College / University education, is not in any position to tell the present composition of Dalit teachers in the overall teaching work force. However, a non-official organisation ( Forum of Academics for Social Justice, Delhi University) has surveyed some universities and their affiliate colleges. The report was released to Press on 3/12/98. Following is their finding:

Total No. of teachers : SC/ST Teachers

(I) Delhi University: 7675 28

(ii) Jamia Millia Islamia: 0424 03

(iii) Jawaharlal Nehru University: 0377 15

(iv) Aligarh Muslim University: 1163 00

(v) Banares Hindu University: 1145 14

(vi) Hyderabad University: 0218 11

(vii) North-East University 0224 76

The above figures clearly expose the attitude of the creamy layer of upper varnas, who would otherwise not mind being described as ‘enlightened‘ alias ‘liberals‘ alias ‘progressives‘ alias ‘seculars. This also shows that the Indian elite is not prepared to share knowledge with the Dalits, who have a radically different socio-cultural experience. The exclusion of Dalits from the academic world also shows that given an opportunity, the highly educated elite will behave like landlords. The autonomy clause provides that opportunity to the English educated elite, which refuses to accept Dalits in India‘s academic world.


Apart from Colleges and Universities, there are a host of Centers of higher research.. Such centers are managed by eminent Indian scholars, and they too are hostile to the State`s affirmative actions. There is no official study to show the cast-wise composition of work force in such research organisations, and therefore, we cannot refer the same with certainty. However, if the experiences of some frontal centers are any indicators, we can, with a fair amount of certainty, say that such centers keep their doors perpetually shut for Dalits. Consider the followings :

(i)CSDS (Center for the Study of Developing Societies): Prof.Rajani Kothari, an outstanding political Scientist, and also known for his `lower castes` approach, heads the governing body of the center. On its faculty are Prof. D.N. Sheth, Dr. B.P. Singh, Dr. Ashish Nandy and Yogendra Yadav, to, name only a few, all known for upholding high ideals of democracy, social justice and secularism. In fact, the CSDS is closely associated with Socialist stream of thought. However, our enquiry suggests that the CSDS, in all likelihood, has not been able too appoint any Dalit on its faculty. The Center is funded by the State.

(ii) CPR ( Center for Policy Research): Justice Y V Chandrachud , former Chief Justice of India, is the chairman of the CPR. Nine other members of the board are very imminent citizens of the country, most of them former bureaucrats, who all have held important positions in the State‘s various branches. The CPR has nearly three dozens Professors at all levels of research and would not mind being described as the center of Liberal intellectuals. Our enquiry reveals that the center has not been able to appoint a single Dalit on its faculty.

(iii) NMML ( Nehru Memorial Museum and Library): The Congress President, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is the chairperson of the Governing Board , and many eminent persons are on the board as members. The NMML is a well known center of academic activity, and has a host of fellows doing researches. It is doubtful if the center has any Dalit as Fellow.

(iv) CHS / CESThe Center for Historical Studies (CHS), and the Center for Economic Studies (CES), (JNU) are two highly rated centers of academic excellence. While the CHS has grown under the internationally acclaimed historian Romila Thapar, the CES grew under the shadow of nationally acclaimed economists, Mr. and Mrs Prabhat Patnaik. Incidentally, both the centers are known for their Left leanings. The JNU has nearly a dozen 15 Dalit teachers , but the two centers in question, have not been able to appoint a single Dalit on their faculty.

The institutions referred above are capital`s premier centers of academic activity, and are headed by leading scholars , some of them are important public figures as well. Even such institutions of repute, headed by public personalities, find it extremely difficult to appreciate State‘s affirmative policies. The institutions headed by the official Rightist camp officially proclaim their aversion to the policy of Affirmative actions, and hence, Dalits hardly stand any chance to participate in academic activity there. But is the non-Rightist camp any different from the Rightist camp? That means, the Indian society is not prepared to consider Dalits worth sharing "knowledge system", and is rather hostile to the very idea of appreciating Dalits contribution in the existing "knowledge system".


Most newspapers/journals` editors, and producers with various TV channels, are educated and ‘enlightened’ citizens, who greatly determine in shaping the public opinion, and also play a crucial role in ‘selecting` what agenda the country’s polity should insist on. Has any major media establishment in the capital ever appointed any journalist from a Dalit background ? An independent study ( B.N. Unniyal’s ‘In Search of a Dalit Journalist’, Pioneer,10,November,1996, Delhi.) only confirms that no major media organisation ( see appendix II—End Apartheid from Indian Media) had any Dalit journalist in the newspapers published from Delhi. Worse still, discussions on Dalit issues are negligible. However, we can still find some Dalits employed by official TV-Doordarshan, and AIR. But one can hardly find a single Dalit in private TV channels. The situation outside Delhi may be no better, as we have hardly come across a Dalit employed by any major media establishment. Is it a mere co-incidence , or a deep-rooted prejudice that blocks members from over 200 million citizens to find space in India’s media establishments. That means, the opinion created by the India media is unlikely to be the opinion of the entire society.

This also goes on to suggest that the `advanced` sections of the caste society are themselves hostile to the standards set by the Republic`s Constitution.


There are countless number of NGOs operating in Indian society. People running NGOs are allegedly the most advanced sections of the Indian society, who are known for their social ‘concerns’. Though there is no any authentic study to show the caste-wise composition of NGO workforce, we can still say with a fair amount of certainty that most NGOs ‘refrain’ from appointing Dalits in their ‘corporate’ houses.


Most international organisations i.e. UN‘s UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO etc., and a number of international foundations, operate in India, and have their offices here. We have not come across any Dalit hired by theses bodies.


Almost each industrial house in the country has a trust to conduct ‘welfare‘ activities, and on that count enjoy tax benefits. Many NGOs, working for the `public good`, receive grants from such trusts.

We have great doubts if at all their ‘welfarism’ extends to Dalit organisations. We can understand their hostile attitude towards Dalits, but we fail to understand as why foreign funding bodies show similar hostility towards Dalits organisations, for, barring few exceptions, foreign funding bodies too refrain from funding Dalit organisations.


Can a society, structured along varna/caste lines, without doing away with that division, be genuinely called a civil society? Or can a society, without democratising its traditional social/cultural/political institutions, have a genuine political democracy ?

The entire Indian University system, a countless number of research institutions, and the media, do not like to discuss any of these issues. The entire academic world in fact, shows a rare kind of consensus in suppressing any serious inquiry into the internal affairs of the Indian society. So also, the entire intelligentsia put together, have failed to define the nature of relationship between the Indian State and the Indian society. We propose, on the basis of the experience of past five decades- that is, since independence, to launch a fresh inquiry on the following subjects:


Has the Indian caste- society evolved into a Civil Society ? Or Can India ever evolve into a civil society without eliminating its varna /caste institutions ?

Can we, by keeping 20.59 crore Dalits segregated from India‘s public institutions, claim to have achieved a genuine political democracy? Or, can we, without having democratized public

institutions, ever have a genuine political democracy ? Or, can democratic institutions and institutions of varna / caste co-exist together? These are the questions we propose to raise afresh. For, without resolving these questions, we can never successfully resolve the question of caste, and without having resolved these question, the question of democracy and civil society too cannot be resolved. This is the lesson we have learnt from the experiences of past five decades.


Of the total Dalit population, 81.28 % Scs and 92.61 % Sts live in rural India, as against the national average of 74.29 % for others. Of the total Dalit Main Work Force, [MWF] 77.0 % Scs and 90.02 % Sts are in the primary sector of Indian economy as against 74.29 % non-Dalits in the same sector. Further, of the total Dalit MWF in the primary sector, 63.54 % Scs and 36.32 % Sts are landless agricultural labourers, as against 31.62 % non-Dalits. The above census figures of 1991 clearly establish that people belonging to one particular social category, i.e. Dalits, are at the margin of India`s agrarian society.

Most societies, which resolved their agrarian question, did in the following manner:

I; Large scale capitalist farming , where the landless turned into genuine industrial labourer, i.e. the Europe.

ii; Cooperative farming , which genuinely democratised the land-labour relationships, i.e. China.


The Indian political parties have been talking of land reforms since early 1930, in which, abolition of ZAMIDARI occupied central place. ZAMIDARI was abolished by early ‘50s, and two phases of LAND CEILING ACTs were launched , the first in the early 1950, and the second , in the early ‘70s. Notwithstanding the various phases of land reform legislations, the out-castes of the Indian society have remained landless, and the land-labour relationships continues to be highly undemocratic. Now the planners, political parties, and development economists have abandoned the very idea of democratising land-labour relationships. In the absence of any meaningful agenda of land reforms, how are we going to democratise the agrarian society of India ? Can we, without democratising agrarian society, ever achieve social democracy? Further, can we, without creating a social democracy, ever create a genuine political democracy ? What has gone wrong ? What do we learn from the experiences of past five decades?


Almost every university in the country has a department of economics , where a host of teachers and students indulge in researches. But , not one major research has been conducted to tell the nation as why even after abolition of Zamidari , Dalits have remained landless ? We are also not told as which social category got the land vacated by upper caste Zamidars ? The Indian academics , like the East India Company, seeks to maintain a strict ‘neutrality‘ and prefers not to investigate into the internal affairs of the caste – society, and therefore it is quite logical that it will neither raise the questions we are raising, and certainly not offer any solution.


In the pre-independent India, land was generally owned by top three varnas- Brahmins , Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas. In many regions, the erstwhile Shudras, who, by 18th century, had began claiming Kshatriya status, ie. Marathas, Lingayats, Kammas, Jats-Gujjars,Lodhs, too enjoyed Zamidari status.


In the British – India, three kinds of land-labour relationships co-existed, although, each in different regions- (1) Zamidari System (2) Mahalwari system, and (3) Raiyyatwari system. The three different systems put together, created one general land-tenure scenerio at all India level, which can be summarized as followings:

(a) ZAMIDAR – LANDLORDS: This set of Zamidar – landlord had a twine- ownership of land resources; (I) Land to be leased out to [ on behalf of the State] to the tenants on annual - rental basis, (ii) Land under individual holding.

(b) LANDLORDS: This set of landlords had larger holdings, taken on lease from Zamidars or directly from the State, for individual cultivation.

(c) TENANTS : The tenants had a temporary ownership over land [ generally on annual basis], taken on rent from the Zamidar-landlorfs.

    1. LANDLESS AGRICULTURAL LABOURERS: The landless labourers did not enjoy any

kind of ownership over land, and were hired by all the above three categories as and when

required, many of them, tied with them on a permanent basis, some like bonded-labourers.


Many imminent sociologists / political scientists / journalists and other commentators thought that untouchability is a mere social evil , which has very little to do with the economic and political life of the people. Contrary to such theorisations, based on pure imaginations , untouchability, which contains the concept of purity / impurity , the out-castes or the untouchables were not accorded citizenship rights in the traditional Hindu State system, and the practice of untouchability was only a by-product of that socio-political organisation of the Hindu civilization. The non-citizenship status of Dalits had historically deprived them of the ownership rights over any kind of assets. When the Company official Lord Cornwallis introduced the Permanent Settlement in 1792, the upper varnas turned into Zamidars-landlords, the upper Shudras as tenants, and the Dalits as landless labourers. This became general feature of the land-labour relationships at all India level.


[1] The much acclaimed ZAMIDARI ABOLITION , when initiated in 1948, turned out to be a mere TENANCY REFORM. In the tenancy reform , the tenants became owner of the land removing the role of Zamidars [ read middle men] altogether.. The non-artisan Shudras related to land as tenants ie. Yadavas, and Kurmies in UP, and their equivalents elsewhere, became self-sufficient in landholdings. Since Dalits were generally landless labourers, and therefore, they remained so even after the task of Zamidari Abolition was accomplished by late 1950‘s.

Dr. Ambedkar had foreseen this design in 1940‘s itself, when most political parties, including the then LEFT, were eyeing at the new electoral constituency of tenants. He, in his famous- STATES AND MINORITIES , a memorandum submitted to the Constituent Assembly, had observed, "Neither Consolidation nor Tenancy Legislation can be of any help to the 60 million of Untouchables who are just landless labourers".

[2] The Zamidari abolition / tenancy reform was followed by the first phase of land ceiling legislations in the 1950‘s itself, which turned out to be a monumental farce, in terms of liberating surplus land from bigger landlords. However, the very notion of imposing a ceiling on bigger holdings frightened the upper varna landlords , who subsequently, indulged into a panic-selling off their surplus land. This opportunity too was harvested by the erstwhile upper Shudras , who had already benefited from the tenancy reforms.

The second phase of land ceiling legislations, initiated by Mrs Indira Gandhi in early ‘70‘s , in a more improved form, but implemented rigorously during EMERGENCY, further accelerated an unprecedented process of a large scale land transaction where, panicky upper varna landlords sold away the illegally held surplus land at the thrown away prices. This time again , the main beneficiaries were non else but those who had benefited from the tenancy, and the first phase of Land Ceiling Legislations.


In the year 1950-‘51, the secondary and tertiary sectors of the Indian economy contributed 44.5 % in the total GDP, which, by 1990-‘91, went up to 70.2 % . Which social categories controls the two sectors referred above? The Indian academics does not find it necessary to investigate the same. Despite the fact that we do not have any authentic data, we can, with a fair amount of certainty, suggest that the two sectors in question, are monopolised by the top three varnas, the erstwhile Zamidars-landlords.We can also say, with a great amount of certainty, that the population migration of the top three varnas to the urban centers has been at a much higher rate and as per our own estimate, by the year 2011 , the largest majority of the upper varna population will have shifted to urban centers, and an insignificant minority, which may still be left in rural India, will have no power to exercise over others.


As stated earlier, a much larger proportion , larger than the national average , of Dalit population is settled in rural India. The population composition of Shudras [OBCs] must be highest in the rural India. That means, the large proportion of Dalits and the largest proportion of OBCs live in rural India. Since nearly three fourth Dalits in the rural India are landless agricultural laboureres, the land vacated by upper varnas, has not gone to Dalits. Where has the land gone then? No one knows that- neither the Census Commissioner , and nor the Commissioner, Agricultural Census of India. The Indian academics and the Planning Commission of India, have made no efforts to solve this riddle. The National Sample Survey (NSS) too did not find it necessary to survey the landholding pattern and its relationships with cases. We too lack infrastructure to undertake such a huge exercise. In absence of any credible data, one has to rely on guess work, based on some credible indicators. In this exercise, we have certain indicators, which can flawlessly lead us to arrive at a credible conclusion. For instance, upper varnas have lost their hold over agricultural land is a fact. Dalits have not gained that land, this also a fact. The only broader social group which remains in the Indian society, and which is the likely beneficiary is that of middle castes alias Shudra alias OBCs.As a matter of fact, Shudras are not a homogeneous social category category . The are divided into two broad occupational categories – the artisan Shudras and the peasant Shudras. The traditional peasants became tenants in the British India, who, due to a host of land-reform measures, have slowly but steadily, filled the space vacated by the upper varnas in the India‘s agrarian society


The Indian population is distributed into innumerable social groups. Each varna / caste group has its specialties. The ‘specialties‘ lead to‘ special‘ privilege and ‘special‘ deprivations. The various divisions ultimately unite people into few broader social blocks , which create conditions of solidarity amongst themselves. An extrapolation of 1931 caste-wise data presents the following distribution [for 1981] of the Indian population:

1: Scheduled Castes: 15.05 %

Scheduled Tribes: o7.56 %

TOTAL : 22.56 %


2: Minorities : 16.16 %

[excluding Sts]

3: Forward Hindus : 17.58 %

[ including Jats, Marathas]

4: Backward Hindus : 43.70

[ excluding backward minorities]

Total : 100

The above division is official, used by the Mandal Commission Report , and does not present a realistic picture. The religious minorities are not a homogeneous social group, and varna / caste divisions alongwith all its evils, reflect decisively in the socio-economic status of members organised into various religious groups. Therefore, a more accurate social divisions , as it exists today, can be presented as followings:


HINDU Upper Castes 17.58 %

NON-HINDU Upper Castes 07.76 %

2: Upper Shudras – ( OBCs) 17.0 % [approximately]

{including non-Hindus}

3: Lower Shudras (Artisan OBCs) 32.34 % [approximately]

[including non- Hindus}

4: Dalits [SC/STs 24.56 %




The upper varnas {both,Hndus-non- Hindus} who constitute about 25.34 % of India‘s total population [17.58 % Hindu upper varna ,07.76 % non Hindu upper varnas], have monopolised secondary and tertiary sectors of the Indian economy, which together account for 70.20 % in the national GDP. This social block has near absolute control over urban public institutions -ie. education, media, art, literature, entertainment , socio-religious institutions. Since this social block has monopoly over urban economy and social life, it quite logically dominates the political life of the urban society. It is this social block which has been running the affairs of the State, and has successfully subverted the Constitutional mandate to ensure justice to all. Since this social block controls the academics and the media, it has not allowed any serious inquiry into the internal affairs of the Indian society. Since this social block controls the centers of thought and opinion making agencies, it was the responsibility of this section to raise the issues which we are attempting to raise. It did not do its duties for several reasons, two of which are decisive:

[1] The upper varnas do not want any other social block to make inroads into its urban territory;

[2] This social block does not want to raise the agenda of democratising agrarian society, for, it has very little stakes left there, and, does not want to antagonize the powerful Neo-Kulak block ie. Upper Shudras and certain sections of upper varnas.


The neo-kulak block, which constitute about 17.0 % percent of India‘s total population, has established its dominance over agrarian assets, and is heading towards a monopoly situation. In the absence of any meaningful land reform policy, this social block may accomplish its monopoly over agrarian society by the first decade of the next century. This social block , politically now very powerful , does not question the upper varna monopoly over urban public institutions, and their hold over secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy.

However, what it expects in return is, the non- interference of upper varnas in the internal affairs of the agrarian society. The upper varnas have so far, responded in the same spirit.

THE LOWER AHUDRAS (ARTISANS) [Hindus-non Hindus both, hereafter referred to as Most Backward Castes – MBCs ]

The self-sufficient agrarian society of India, required single largest socio-occupational block of artisans, to take care of its requirements. The arrival of the industrial civilisation , which only partially industrialised the Indian economy, has almost completely uprooted the traditional artisan castes of India.This section has become like artisans of late

18th century Europe. The Europe‘s artisans very quickly turned into genuine industrial workers, resulting into their economic well being quite considerably by late 19th century, but the same is not happening with artisan classes in India. This social block, instead of turning into genuine industrial labourers, is rather turning into agricultural labourers


Dalits, that is, non-citizens in the traditional Hindu social social order, are still treated as non-citizens, although in a revised form, in every walk of social life even today. Despite categorical Constitutional directives to the State to create an egalitarian social order, the same has not been achieved, infact, no meaningful attempt has been This social block, the single largest socio-occupational category, constitutes about 35.0 % of the India‘s total population, and which has witnessed marginalisation ever since the industry became an important element in the Indian economy. Though officially listed in the Mandal Commission , along with neo-kulak block, it has nothing to gain from State‘s affirmative actions offered in the Mandal recommendations. This block cannot compete with the neo-kulak block, for, it has neither economic backing, nor education. The numerically largest social block is politically least represented, infact , has no political organisation of its own.

Since the jobs this social block was assigned to, in the traditional society i.e. services, have lost their relevance , the skills members of this social possessed, too have become irrelevant. For instance, blacksmiths are no more required after modern industries begun producing farm equipments. With arrival of safety razors, Barbers became irrelevant, and potters lost their market when metal pots replaced earthen pots. There were over one thousand such professions made to achieve the goal Indian Constitution set five decades back. Dalits world view, their approach to various issues, their perception of the present day social crisis, their understanding of the Indian past, in one word, Dalits‘ knowledge system is seen with contempt

The large proportion of Dalit population is settled in rural India. The land labour relationships in the agrarian society is highly undemocratic, and so are the social institutions The social life in the agrarian society is largely regulated by the value system of the varna/caste social order, where land owning varnas/castes run the affairs of the society.The traditional society has been resisting State‘s intervention in its internal affairs. This situation lives no space for any kind of democratic conduct, and the non-citizens are the ultimate victims. The introduction of the Panchayati Raj System threatens to eliminate whatever possibility existed due the District Administration system- a fundamental unit of the modern State system. For, it legitimizes the hegemony of the dominant varnas / castes in the rural India.

The Upper Shudders` increasing dominance in the agrarian society is posing a new threat- that is, since Shudras` economic and political dominance does not result into upper varna-like socio-cultural dominance, it tends to brutalise their social conscience. Dalits and the erstwhile artisan castes, who have, up to a great extent, turned into landless agricultural labourers, become the immediate targets of attack. It can be statistically proved that wherever non-Brahmin varnas / castes have replaced Brahmins in rural India, they have always attempted to revive a Brahmin- like oppressive system. Dalits position in urban India is no better. As stated earlier, the upper varnas have established their monopoly over secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy, and correspondingly , monopoly over urban socio-cultural and educational. They have made every attempt to retain their dominance over the areas mentioned above. The upper varnas thrust to retain their monopoly over urban institutions transcends ideological barriers- the left, the centrist and the rightists are all united on this ‘noble‘ cause. It can also be statistically proved that the adjectives such as Left, Centrist, Liberals [rightists] are all assumed ones, and in the ultimate analysis, they are one in retaining the social status-quo.


There are 7.45 crore landless agricultural labourers [1991] in the country, in which 3.37 crores are Dalits. Which social block rest 4.08 crores belong to ? Since census commissioner does not investigate the varna / caste background of this set of landless labourers , the country does not know as who they are? The entire academic world maintains a very dubious neutrality on such issues. The economics as discipline wastes so much of money every year on ‘indefth‘ studies on various issues, but refuses to discuss economics of the caste. Since there is no official data to show the varna/caste background of non-Dalit landless labourers, we too cannot state with certainty as what is the varna/caste background of non-Dalit landless labourers. However, what all we can say with a great amount of certainty, is that the non-Dalit landless agricultural labourers are neither from the upper varnas and nor from the neo-kulak Shudras. This we say on the basis of traditional linkages between occupations and varna / castes. As a matter of fact, each occupation is associated with a varna/caste and each varna/caste associated with an occupation. This historical legacy pre-destines occupations of members of a particular varna or caste. The changes which occur in the Indian society, say, in terms of occupational mobility, the beneficiaries tend to belong to specific social blocks – in other word , changes do not affect individual members of a particular varna or caste, but the specific varna or caste stand to gain or loose. For instance, when the secondary and tertiary sectors evolved in the Indian economy as new areas of economic activities, the upper varnas benefited. Or, when the tenancy reform was launched, only a particular section within the broader Shudra block, which was directly associated with production activities, benefited. It is on this basis , we can say with near total certainty, that , the non-Dalit landless agricultural labourers, [4.08 crores] are none else but the erstwhile artisan Shudras. There are few hundreds universities and thousands of research institutions , involving many thousand researchers , liberally funded by the State, and they can very well launch an ‘in-depth‘ survey to ‘dismiss‘ our estimates. Thus, the Dalits and the MBC‘s, who together constitute about 60 per cent of India‘s total population, are India‘s real proletariat , who are locked in an intense battle with neo-kulak Shudras, and some sections of upper varnas landlords [ who failed to shift to urban centers ] in rural India, and , with upper varnas in urban India. These two social blocks ie. Dalits and MBCs , while fighting the land owning sections in rural India, do not get any support from the upper varnas of urban society, and neither do they get any support from neo-kulak Shudras, while upper varna hegemony in urban India.


" Democracy is not a form of governance, it is essentially a form of society", this is what Dr. Ambedkar argued in early 1940‘s. Without having achieved that goal of social democracy, India has emerged as the ‘largest political democracy’ on the planet. We refuse to agree to this kind of formulation. We want an all-round democratisation of the Indian society. We briefly outline the followings as pre-requisite to a genuine political democracy for India


India‘s caste society cannot be transformed into a civil society unless linkages between varnas/ castes with occupations are eliminated. And unless the Indian society achieves civility, the goal of social democracy cannot be accomplished. To achieve the above, the nation must reconsider the proposals Dr. Ambedkar made to the Constituent Assembly in ‘40s ( State and Minorities ) where he had advocated STATE SOCIALISM for India. In his thesis, he argued for a genuine democratisation of production relations in the country. He very strongly recommended that the affaires of the Indian society be regulated by the State. He was highly critical of the value system of the varna social order, and that is why he insisted on the State‘s supremacy on the institutions of traditional society. All fears have come true. How can India compete with, say, Europe or American societies, which resolved their basic contradictions centuries back ? Can India ever compete with, say, a country like China, which also resolved its basic contradictions some five decades back? In fact, in the light of the experiences of the past five decades, his thesis becomes even more relevant, and the same needs to be applied in a much more radicalised form.

We, on the basis of the proposals Dr. Ambedkar made to the Constituent Assembly, propose the followings:

{ A }

1; The land-labour relationships be so re-organised that there would be no landless agricultural labourers, no tenants and no landlords – that is , the land to the tiller policy be strictly implemented. The agricultural land be declared State‘s asset , and no one would have the right to sell or buy agricultural land. The agricultural land be so distributed that the land area does not exceed to the extent where extra labour is required.

2; A person who has a government job, or employed by a private concern, or, has his/her own business, would have no right to own agricultural land.

3; A person engaged in agriculture related activities i.e. live stock, fisheries, forestry, too will have no right to own agricultural land.

4; A person who has agricultural land, cannot at the same time, have non-agricultural activities, which in any manner , leads to profit.

5; The crop, along with the work force engaged in agriculture, be insured.

6; The State must take responsibility of providing seeds, fertilizers/pesticides , irrigation facilities to the peasants, and in turn, would be made to produce certain fixed amount , and a fixed share to be surrendered to the State.

7; The purchase or sell of the agricultural produce in open market be banned .

8; The anarchy in deciding as what to produce and what not to produce, should come to an end. The State would determine , by taking into account the requirements, the land area for a particular crop.

{ B } 1; The areas rich in mineral resources / forestry etc., and where agricultural activity is not feasible, the locals should be involved, and made share-holders.

2; There would be no economic activity which would require private contractors. In fact, the THEKADARI-PRATHA would be abolished from every walk of national life.

3; The entire public transport system would be nationalised, and run by the State.

{ C }

1; Any person, desirous of changing his occupation, be allowed to do so, and taking into account his/her qualifications/abilities, the State would facilitate the process.

2; The public sector and the private enterprise be allowed to co- exist, but on the following conditions:

( i ) That every private industry / enterprise would follow the labour laws [ full service / economic security ] set by the government for its own work force i.e., insurance, medical aid, provident fund, maternity leaves, housing-vehicle loans, pension schemes, etc, as practiced up to some extent by the TATA group.

( ii) That every private industry / enterprise would follow the Stare‘s policy of affirmative actions vis a vis Dalits, and evolve similar strategy for MBCs.

(iii) It would be mandatory for every large-scale enterprise, both government and private, to adopt one Dalit hamlet annually to rebuild with reasonable infrastructure.

(iv) The Union Ministry of Petroleum has made it mandatory to all public sector oil companies to reserve 22.5 per cent petrol pumps and Natural Gas agencies for Dalit entrepreneurs while awarding dealership. A similar policy should be adopted by all industrial concerns in awarding dealerships to distributors.

(v) The State`s housing agencies, i.e. DDA in Delhi, LDA in UP, reserve houses / plots / shops for Dalits. The same pattern should be followed by all private construction companies / housing societies.

(vi All Banks, private or public sector, would democratise their loaning pattern and give due preference to Dalit entrepreneurs.

(vii) In awarding import / export licenses, due preferences would be given to Dalit entrepreneurs.


[ D ]

(1) The public health system would be the responsibility of the State. All private hospitals / nursing homes ( barring some

Super specialty hospital ) would be nationalised. Private practice by Doctors would be banned.

    1. A maximum of two-child policy would be strictly adhered to.

[ E ]

(1) The State would take responsibility of providing a graduation level education to every child. While those owning industry / business etc, and those employed in group A and group B services or its equivalent

in monetary terms, would take care of their own children, the Dalit/MBC and the children of other low paid parents, would be fully assisted by the State.

(2)The Dalit and MBC educated youth , would be compulsorily given job [ in consonance of their qualifications] - in–private or the government sector, or, accorded reasonable financial assistance to start their own enterprise.

(3)The English would be made compulsory from the Primary stage itself, and an all round effort be made to develop English as the link-language.

(4)The State would make a concerted effort to ensure that , within a specific time frame, say a period one hundred or hundred and fifty years, no trace of any of the Indian languages remains on this part of the planet. So long Indian languages will exist, they will necessarily retain the Indian value system, which are never autonomous of the value system of varna/caste.


(1) All Public Institutions would be democratised, and the first step in this direction would be to scrap autonomy clause from the Indian Constitution.

    1. Every public institution would be regulated by the value system of the Indian Constitution.
    2. All schools / colleges / research & training institutions / universities, would compulsorily democratise their work force composition

by according due share to Dalits / MBCs in faculty appointment, and also in admissions to various courses. The work force composition in all public institutions would reflect population composition of Dalits and MBCs.

(4) Every public institution would have anti-caste compaign as one of its objectives.

(5) Any one receiving awards for his / her outstanding contributions in any field, including pure sciences, must

have at one point or the other, involved in some form or the other, in anti-caste compaign. We do not have any reason to appreciate an individual‘s excellence in science, who continues to uphold value system of caste.

(6) All NGOs would democratise their work force composition, and must necessarily have anti-caste compaign on its agenda.

(7) All foreign institutions operating on Indian soil would necessarily democratise their work force composition.

(8)All donors- local or international must necessarily democratise their funding pattern with due preference to Dalit / MBC NGOs.


All forms of expression , artistic/ journalistic or academic, must question the existing social realities of India. The State would not recognise any form of expression, which deliberately censors the Dalits‘ experience, and promotes the existing social order.

    1. However, no writer or artist, who has achieved imminence today, did so by projecting the Caste related disparities. Most writers and artists very carefully skip the caste question, for the fear that their work may not get social approval. Therefore, it is the bounden duty of the State to not to recognise any form of expression which skips or the caste question.
    2. The State would not extend any facility to any writer or the artist, and would withdraw the facilities already extended to, who does not address caste question in his writing / artistic activity.

(3) The State would direct all academic institutions , which have been ignoring caste question in their academic exercise, to revise the entire syllabus in order to launch a fresh inquiry into the Indian social system.


We have briefly analysed India`s social organisation as it exists today and the status of various social categories in that. We have shown that, the Dalits and MBCs, who comprise about 60 per cent of India`s total population, are at the margin of the existing social order, and therefore, bear the burden of the entire society. Since these two socio-occupational categories are the main victims of the existing social order, and therefore, it is these two social categories which need change, which need a democratic and egalitarian social order. The rest two social blocks- the upper varnas and the upper shudras, are already comfortably placed in their respective areas of

dominance- the urban and the rural India, and therefore, they have every reason to retain the

status-quo. As stated earlier, the political parties have evolved along varna / caste lines, articulating aspirations of their respective social constituencies, and therefore, have no reason to ask for democratic form of society. We have also stated that the political adjectives such as "The Left", " The Social Justicists", "The Secularists" and "The liberals (the rightists}" are all assumed ones, without any substance, meant to mask their real face, and therefore , there is no hope from them. In fact the Dalits and the MBCs will have to fight them, who put together , are in minority, although commanding nation`s resources and institutions.

In the light of the all round hegemony enjoyed by the two social blocks - the upper varnas and the upper shudras, and also their intellectual dominance, it becomes extremely necessary for

the Dalits and the MBC`s to organise themselves politically. The task of organising politically will not be an easy task unless these two social blocks forge an unity at social level, which can be made possible only through a thoroughgoing socio-cultural movements.


In every society, from within the ruling social block, say, upper and middle classes, a tiny section of people, who fail to adjust with their un-earned privileges, turn rationalists / democrats, and ultimately find rusticated from their own social classes. This happened during the Reformation in Europe, only to reach its high point during the Great French Revolution. The Bolshevik Revolution and the Chinese Revolution too experienced the similar process, where a small section of people enjoying benefits of the system, turned hostile to their own classes. However, India`s unique varna / caste organisation of the society subverts that universal logic, and the `rusticated` sections , instead of joining struggles of the out-castes / lower castes, prefer to take shelter in other movements i.e. environment, animal welfare, feminism, secularism. In other countries too, we find environmentalists, animal lovers, feminists, etc. but such people side with the toiling masses. Contrary to that universal logic, in India, although in a subtle manner, this set of people are siding with the ruling varnas. Taking into account the varna / caste dynamics of the Indian society, we cannot expect this section to side with us, what all we can expect is to neutralise this section. We must make efforts to see to it that if they cannot stand with us , they do not go with the ruling coalition, and remain genuine environmentalists, feminists, animal lovers etc. etc.

The best to way to neutralise this section is to consistently raise the question of civil society and the question of social democracy. For, if we directly pose the caste question, this section would, in all likelihood, continue to maintain a safe distance from our struggles, and ultimately, turn hostile to our agenda. This is the lesson we learn from the Indian history.


The Indian Judicial system is the ultimate organ of the Indian State, which is yet to be liberated, at least officially, from the clutches of the varna value system. The fact that the Dalits` representation in Judiciary is virtually nil, this arm of the Indian state is totally directed against the deprived sections. Judiciary as an institution, sybolises Incompetence and corruption . The institution originally meant to ensure rule of law and guard the constitution, has turned into the relief center of the out-laws.

Consider the following case:

Place: village - Naksoda

Police Station - Badi

District - Dholpur

State - Rajsthan


A Dalit youth, Rameshwar Jatav, used to run a small provision shop, and had sold some items to Kamlesh Gujjar on credit. In April last, Rameshwar demanded Rs. 50 from Kamlesh, nephew of the local Sarpanch, Jank Singh, which he owed. This act of Rameshwar annoyed powerful Gujjar family and as a result, the Sarpanch decided to teach the Dalit shop keeper a lesson, which was performed in most barbaric manner. Rameshwar`s nose was punctured with an instrument, meant for stitching jute bags, and a thin rope was put through it. The bleeding victim was then paraded around the village, and all those who came to help him, were beaten up by Gujjars of the village.

Since the incident was extremely sensational in nature, it received attention of national media. An FIR was lodged, and the accused were arrested. However, according to a news paper story ( The Pioneer, March 14, `999 ) when the case came up for the hearing, the witnesses, including victim himself, and his father, in their testimony before the Dholpur Court, have turned hostile, and the criminals have gone scot free. The victim`s father, Mangi Lal , has expressed his inability to fight the case any longer, after having spent a sum of Rs. 30,000 thousands in less than a year, and the shop already closed. To arrange the money to fight the case , Mangi Lal had to sell off one Bigha of his land, one –third of the total land he owned. The victim and his family, could not take the fight to logical end, for, apart from monetary considerations, they had to co-exist with their Gujjar land lords in the same village. The District Court of Dholpur, could do nothing but watch the developments with complete antipathy.

Similarly, over a decade back, 14 members of a Dalit marriage party were massacred in Kalpatha ( District Almora ) over the question of Bride-groom riding a hoarse. During trials at Allahabad High Court, all the accused were `honorably` acquitted for want of evidence. According successive reports of the National Commission for SC/STs, the conviction rate is very low, and the accused often get easy equittal from the courts.


Violence and other forms of atrocities against Dalits is a regular affair. However , when a massacre or a very barbaric form of violence, capable of creating sensation occures, then only it draws national attention. The dominant theorists of social conflict would fondly describe it as the result of an ongoing class conflict, where, say, the landless are targeted by the land owning classes. Is this the full truth ? Take for instance, the case of Bihar, where Dalits are subjected to crude violence too often. As per the Census report ( 1991 ) , the total strength of landless agricultural labourers is 95.11 lakhs, in which Dalits account for 38.19 lakhs – that is , 40.15 per cent of the total. If, the massacres in the state of Bihar is the result of an ongoing class-war, then why only Dalits become the easy target? Situation at all India level is similar to that of Bihar. Of the total landless agricultural labourers [ 7.45 crores] in the country, Dalits` comprise 45.23 per cent. But why the landless labourers, who happen to be Dalits, become the easy target of attack ? And when Dalit landless labourers are attacked, do they get support from non-Dalit landless labourers ? The may lie in negative.

It is also a great myth, perpetuated by the left intelligentsia that Dalits become an easy target of attack because they are poor. It can be statistically proved that a tiny section of the Dalit populace, which can be described as ` well to do`, also become targets of attacks. The reason is too obvious to need any elaboration. The some what well to do Dalits assert their dignity, and therefore, become targets of attacks. Do this sets of Dalit populace get support from the richer non Dalits? The answer may lie in negative. This phenomenon, as explained above demolishes the class- war myth perpetuated by a large section of intelligentsia.


Violence against Dalits , committed by an `individual` or a group of `individuals`, is in fact, committed on behalf of the caste-society, more specifically, on behalf of the varna/caste the accused may belong to, and therefore, the accused concerned is only a tool.

Since violence against Dalits is committed on behalf of the society, more specifically, on behalf of the varna/caste the concerned criminal (s) may belong to, and therefore, the entire varna or caste group of the accused would be penalised . In the light of the above observations, and also in the light of the experiences of the past five decades, we propose following method to deal with the caste-violence against DALITS:

( I ) In case of violence against Dalits, the entire members [ of the village panchayat or the municipal ward where incident occures ] of the varna / caste group to which the accused may belong to, would be brought to book. Already a system of collective penalty [ although in revenue terms ] exists.

( ii ) The caste-violence against Dalits would be treated at par, if not more than that, with an anti-national act, and therefore, a TADA like Act would be formulated to keep the culprits behind bar till a formal trial begins in the court of law , and judgement delivered.

( iii ) The accused members of the particular varna or caste group at local level

would be de-frenchied till the case is finalised, and in case of conviction, will remain de-frenchied till the period of conviction .

( iv ) The accused members` property would be attached, and leased out the

victims` family / survivors till the case is finalised and / or, the conviction period is over.

( V ) The accused would not be eligible for any kind of jobs / bank loans etc. in / by the States organs till the case is finalized , and in case of conviction, never.

( vi } In case of repeated cases of violence by a particular varna or caste group, the entire block or tehsil would be considered for penalties.

( vii ) The police officials or judges , where charge sheet / conviction rate is lower, would penalised severely .

( viii ) The dishonoring of Constitutional directives, by the executive , would be defined as an anti-democratic activity, and therefore, a crime.

( ix ) Any political party , which does not focus the question of democracy in general and Dalit`s liberation in particular, would be disqualified.

( x ) Any political / social organisation, espousing cause of the land owning varnas / castes, would be not entitled to contest elections, and any public institution , which questions State`s authority, would be declared an un-lawful organisation.


In the programs as outlined above, we are proposing a LAND TO THE TILLER policy for India. We, on the basis of the experiences of the past, very strongly believe, that it is only this

kind of radical land reform which can democratise India`s agrarian society. If this kind of land reform is not feasible, then one must clearly state that, democracy too is not feasible in India`s agrarian society. We also believe that democratisation of agrarian society will lead into a massive jump in agricultural production.

We are, at the same time, proposing that the economic activity in the secondary and tertiary sectors ( economic activity in urban India ) too be fully democratised. If this kind of

democratisation is not feasible, then one must clearly admit that democracy in urban India is not at all feasible.

We have very forcefully argued for an all round democratisation of all the public institutions in the country. We very sincerely believe that without Dalits`/ MBC`s adequate, that is, in proportion to their population, participation in public institutions , the country`s public institutions will remain dead-wood, contributing greatly in further de-generation of the Indian society.

We are also demanding that the very concepts of CRIME & PUNISHMENT be further re-defined. Crimes against Dalits is never an individual act, individual is only a tool and his act has sanction of the society, particularly, of the varna or the caste accused may belong to. And therefore, only collective punitive actions can bring an end to the varna / caste violence against Dalits. Further, if we do not re- define crime a fresh, it would be very difficult to decide as who are " law abiding ‘’ and who are " out-laws’’. For instance, a landlord may not be paying minimum wages to the laborers he hires , a vice chancellor, controlling a university, may not be appointing Dalits against reserved vacancies. Would both sets of people be declared " out–lawed ‘’ or not ? If resolution of varna / caste crimes against Dalits is not feasible, then one must clearly admit that the violence against Dalits is a need of the Indian society ?

To conclude, we have argued that every walk of life in India be subjected to rigid State control till society attains civility , and social democracy matures. Unless society achieves civility and the task of social democracy is accomplished, there can be no real political democracy. To achieve all that, the society ought to be re-organized, where its caste

characteristics will be totally eliminated. If the re-organization of the Indian society is not feasible on the lines suggested as above, then that would mean that the very ideal of democracy is not feasible for India.

As stated earlier , the political parties in India have evolved around varna / caste lines, and therefore, articulate the aspirations of their respective social blocks. The two dominant social blocks- the upper Varnas, and the upper shudras put together, own nations assets and public institutions, and therefore, the existing social arrangement suits them most. Notwithstanding a subtle understanding to share assets and institutions between themselves- upper Varnas are holding the urban society, and the upper shudras are holding the agrarian society, both the social blocks are contending for political power at all India basis. Since both the social blocks are in numerical minority, and therefore, they have been manipulating support of Dalits and MBCs (barring Dalits in UP where BSP has successfully organized Dalits, and to some extent a small section of MBAs). The nation`s mainstream intelligentsia is in league with either of the two dominant social blocks, and therefore, nothing positive, at least at present juncture , can be expected from them. Since both the dominant social blocks have no reason to alter the status-que, the Dalits and MBAs have every reason to seek an all round change on lines proposed in this draft. In fact, it is the bounden duty of the Dalit leadership, to organise Dalit masses on the agenda being elaborated here, and seek a long-term association with MBAs, who, due to their declining position in the society, would be the only natural political ally. Since MBAs are politically yet to be organized, and therefore, it is also the historical duty of the Dalit leadership to liberate them from the fold of the two dominant social categories, and launch a joint movement of achieving social democracy in the first phase, and in the second, a movement for creating an egalitarian social order for India.


The existing organization of government departments / ministries are un-suited to retaining the existing social arrangement. In view of the requirements of the changes as suggested above, we propose re-organisation of government departments / ministries on the following lines:












8-H, Neethi Apartments,
84, I P Ext. Delhi- 92
Phone: 2202855

Sir / Madam,

"White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it and white society condones it" – this is what the Kerner Report (National Advisory Commission On Civil Disorder) probing the racial riots in New York and Detroit in 1967, had to say on the sufferings of African Americans. While locating the fundamental factor leading to the riots, the Commission blamed "the racial attitude and behavior of white Americans toward black Americans.’’ The Commission further asserts, "This is our basic conclusion: 0ur nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white’’, and the light of its findings, the Commission sets the goal of "The creation of a single society".

The civil disorder of the `60s, and the official observation of the Kerner Commission, raised a big moral question before the dominant ‘White Society’. The liberal sections of the ‘White Society’ begun thinking in a more positive way. Concepts such as Affirmative Action, Diversity, and Reparation gained some ground. The step (1978) taken by ASNE (American society of Newspaper Editors) will always be remembered as a mile-stone in the contemporary American history.

The steps taken by the AACU (Association of American Colleges and Universities) are equally noteworthy. Its Diversity Campaign in education gives a great hope to minority communities of American society.

The situation in India is quite comparable with that of United States of America. The Hindu society has not allowed the untouchables and tribal communities to share the fruits of development for centuries. The varna/ caste discrimination against Dalits has no parallel elsewhere in the world. However, with the evolution of India into a republic in 1950, the varna/ caste based discriminations were officially abolished, and the Constitution directed the State to accomplish the twin-task – that is, to democratise its own institutions by giving due representation to Dalits, and to democratise the Indian society. This unprecedented task assigned to the Indian State was due to the relentless efforts of Dr. B R Ambedkar, who had championed the cause of the oppressed communities in India. The caste Hindus had very reluctantly agreed to Dr. Ambedkar’s formulations and since then, however, have made every attempt to subvert the Constitutional mandate of democratising the Indian society. The Dalits’ increasing marginalisation today only goes on to prove that the State has not been allowed to accomplish the task it was assigned to, for, the people running the affairs of State could never cope with newer ideals of democracy, equality and freedom.

A comparison between the American and the Indian experiences makes an interesting reading. While the American State lacks an elaborate Constitutional mandate to address the problems of minority communities, the liberal intelligentsia, on its own, has shown a greater concern. Further, the concepts of Diversity, Democracy and Affirmative Action have greater acceptance in Public Institutions i.e. media, education, in the American society. Contrary to the American experience, the Indian State has an elaborate provisions to deal with the problems of Dalits, but the intelligentsia here (intelligentsia of all hues- rightist, liberal, left, centrist) is quite hostile to those provisions and, therefore, has made every effort to minimise State’s intervention in internal affairs of the society. The Public Institutions i.e. Colleges/ Universities, centers of specialised research, media, centers of art/ literature, where State control is less or non-existent, are virtually closed to Dalits.

If from a population of over 200 million Dalits ( more than the combined population of France, U K and Germany put together), there is not a single Dalit journalist employed by the Capital’s media establishment, (see "In Search Of A Dalit Journalist, The Pioneer (New Delhi), November 16, 1996,), we refuse to believe that the opinion by media could be representative, ie, democratic. Similarly, if out of about 7000 teaching workforce in the Delhi University, there are not even 50 teachers from Dalit communities, we refuse to believe that the academic output contains the cultural experience of Dalits, who comprise one forth of India’s total population. The situation in the area of arts and culture is even worse.

Dalits’ absence from public institutions has robbed the community of the freedom of expression. In every society, middle classes play a vital role during the transformative stage. From within this section, the intelligentsia articulates ‘will’ of the people to a large extent. The intelligentsia generally comes from public institutions, which not only has greater access to information, and leisure time but enjoys greater amount of freedom of expression. Dalits’ exclusion from public institutions means that the community is unrepresented in the nation’s thought process. If there is no meaningful

When , in an article ( B.N. Uniyal`s In Search Of A Dalit Journalist , The Pioneer, 16 November, 1996, New Delhi ), it was observed that there is not a single Dalit journalist in any of the Delhi based major media establishments, we decided to raise the question of democracy in India`s media world. Dalits constitute about one fourth of India`s total population ( 200.25 million people ) - more than the combined population of France, UK, and Germany. We felt that, by excluding such a huge mass of people, who have a radically different socio-cultural experience, from participating in `opinion building`, the opinion created by the Indian media cannot be democratic.

While preparing our memorandum, asking for due representation of Dalits in the media work force, we began looking for similar experiences elsewhere in the world. In this exercise, we found the American experience noteworthy, [ ASNE`s Newsroom census- http:// www.asne-org/kiosk/diversity/minisrv 97.htp ] where, African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans are accorded representation in every department of the American media. A drive is on to accomplish the goal of total democratisation by the year 2005.

We also found out that the AACU ( Association of American Colleges and Universities ) is making a serious effort to achieve DIVERSITY in American education system. The documents such as DIVERSITY DIGEST, DIVERSITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION, HIGHER EDUCATION IN A DIVERSE DEMOCRACY, AND THE DRAMA OF DIVERSITY AND DEMOCRACY, show that the enlightened sections in the American society are genuinely interested in democratising public institutions there. Since AACU is addressing racial/ethnic inequalities / discrimination in the American society, and therefore, in order to strengthen our argument, we have quite extensively quoted from the above documents. We also understand that AACU `s entire compaign is financially backed by THE FORD FOUNDATION of the USA .

The caste inequalities / discriminations in the Indian society are no less intense, and Dalits are un-welcome in most public institutions in the country. We have briefly sketched the overall position of Dalits in the country, in particular, their position in public institutions. There are a host of NGO`s and other forums raising various issues, but the question of Dalits` rights in public institutions has remained un-addressed. Since no organisation has paid attention the subject in question deserves, we are making a humble beginning to in posing this question before the Indian society.

We are quite sure that the Indian chapter of THE FORD FOUNDATION will be equally interested in DIVERSITY / DEMOCRACY questions here. However, we are not sure of the existence of an AACU-like forum here raising the issue in question. We are enclosing two sets of papers: 1; END APARTHEID FROM INDIAN MEDIA, and 2; DEMOCRACY- A FORM OF SOCIETY OR A FORM OF GOVERNANCE , for your kind consideration. Since it is highly unlikely that any Indian funding agency will ever consider funding such compaign, we request your organisation to give due consideration to our proposal .

With kind regards


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