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Home > News > Columnists > Tarun Vijay

United colours of changing India

October 16, 2007

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Mayawati's tremendous flow of blue at her Lucknow rally last week was impressive on all counts. It signified a change in India's political colours. Democracy and an irrepressible desire for development through available political instruments -- like it or frown at it, call it corrupt or a 'revenge through paying back in the same coin' -- were signs that Maya's blue congregation displayed. She practices politics, as it is prevalent everywhere. That apart, the unintentioned result of her ambitious overtures is different from her daily dose of bewildering drama.

The second important happening was International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohammed ElBaradei's comments that India is a model for the developing world. It is a tribute to our entrepreneurship and the invincible spirit to win despite bitterest odds. In fact, India's inherent strength of proven pluralism and multi-coloured harmony of nationalism that takes inspiration from Hindu civilisational moors has withstood the test of time, exhibiting a wonderful resilience overcoming hiccups and roadblocks with confidence.

It is no surprise that India remains the only island of hope and coexistence in a strife-torn region from the edge of Israel to the Far East, presenting united colours of unbelievable diversities and differences, establishing an astounding level of mature relationships with a common cultural thread.

Problems are there and will remain. Everyone has complaints in a democracy, but the beauty of the system lies in the fact whether everyone has an option open to find a solution or not.

The Mayawati phenomenon has showed just that. Those who were brutalised and put down on the social ladder in a manner that drew strongest condemnations from reformers like Jyotiba Phule, Vivekananda, Gandhi and Hedgewar, are able to regain pride and supremacy, writing their own destiny with confidence. Nothing to feel jealous about or browbeaten, but must be welcomed as an opportunity for channelising the tide in favour of greater social and cultural reforms, heralding better cohesion and mutual understanding among various castes.

It's a task that began with politics but has an impact beyond politics and ideological boundaries. Let her have her form of politics, she must not get undue praise for something she never visualised.

But, try and face the stark truth. Those who attended Mayawati's rallies are often derogatory called as 'esseez' (Scheduled Castes, SCs), the deprived sections. Who else has the strength and the emotional attachment to call these sons of the soil in such huge numbers? Who has been able to win the trust of these sections of society that form the foundation of any change and rejuvenation but yet kept at bay deliberately, like cosmetic showpieces for use whenever the time to vote arrives?

All talk of social harmony and building a casteless society is proved a sham when election time comes and every decision is taken on caste lines. At least Mayawati has not poisoned the already bitter atmosphere but created an understanding that is beneficial electorally as well as socially.

Our daily life, business, promotions, relations and public attitude are so overshadowed by the nauseating dominance of a few select privileged castes that its a wonder why Mayawati took so long to show solidarity against the unfair practices of the sections braving to call themselves 'upper' castes. In fact, those who take pride in their last name tags as 'upper' should be honestly labelled as the lower ones as they are responsible for creating and perpetuating caste-based divisions in the society, pit one caste against another, spread the poison of caste conflicts and Mandalise the divisions just to garner votes and consolidate political power. Their bad karma in perpetuating discriminatory politics has resulted in fragmented and mutually hateful social sections, creating hurdles in the path of reformers and visionaries.

The greatest help that the deprived sections got was from the Constitutionally provisioned reservations for them -- as a sincere effort to undo the wrongs of some of our predecessors -- and it was essentially a Hindu domain of reaching out to the un-reached. Reservations changed the scenario the first time effectively and helped stem the exodus from Hinduism to the Semitic faiths, whose leaders were so eagerly trying to 'harvest' Hindu souls.

Ambedkar emerged as God's gift to society who not only saved the honour of the deprived and bruised but also defeated the designs of faith merchants by embracing Buddhism. It's another matter that later the political vices took over and reservations became a tool to weaken and attack Hindu solidarity.

Therefore, what Mayawati achieved goes beyond the contemporary realm of reservations. True, the end result might not have been imagined by her even. Like an engineer crafting a dam may not essentially know all the end uses of his creation, Mayawati mobilising the deprived purely for electoral gains and levelling the vote politics' playing field may end up giving a fillip to many other streams of positive social change.

It is also a big opportunity for Hindu reformers to put in action the idea of social harmony effectively. They cite tirelessly the Bhagvad Gita, the Upanishads, the Vedas and a hundred other scriptures and spiritual poets to prove untouchability was never a part of Hindu Dharma and God doesn't approve of discrimination based on birth and occupation. Fair indeed.

Where are the applied examples of such sermons?

Except the Rashtriya Swayamsevak-inspired projects and some other spiritual organisations like the Swadhyay Pariwar, the Gayatri Parivar, the Swaminarayan sect etc, there is hardly a space where peoples' power has provided a replicable structure of a non-discriminatory village of mixed identities merging into one Indian colour. Even our private invite lists tell a lot about the ghettos of caste we have created.

Accepted that we should not be replacing one kind of caste-based discrimination with a new one and everyone, born in any house with any caste background, should have an equal opportunity to grow and find a place under the sun as honourably as anyone else. So, the poor Brahmins and the deprived of the 'pushed-out' segments should find no difficulty in joining hands to fight injustice. If Mayawati's inclusive politics is providing that even as a by-product, shouldn't it be taken as a good sign for society and welcomed across the Laxman Rekhas of ideologies and political firewalls, in the greater interest of the nation?

Hindus, already under a siege in the times of Ram Sethu destruction, will do well to wage a full-throttled attack on the hypocrisy prevalent amidst them. One example is the big-mouthed preachers who mean nothing but make every step to help the deprived a difficult one. The industrial titans speak against reservations in the private sector. And from an arrogant pedestal advise: 'Give the deprived high-levelled specialised space for learning and getting empowered so that they compete as equals without using the crutches of reservations'.

It's often coupled with that newly acquired cliche of 'affirmative action' and all that phoren sounding intellectual blahblah. But has anyone of them tried, even half-heartedly, to create such an opportunity for the deprived exclusively or inclusively so that they don't even feel the need to demand extra serving?

All the schools and colleges and professional institutions established by billionaire houses cater only to the rich, powerful, elitist Malabar Hill club's so-called -- yes so-called -- 'high caste'wallahs and the news about their being an excellent learning centre emerges through li'l box items announcing how an actor's kids are finding the place very nice! Is that what we have in mind when we speak of a socially responsible, harmonious atmosphere?

Give me one reason why, in such a highly hypocritical situation aggravating social hurt and anguish, the deprived shouldn't revolt and assert decisively?

They are, hopefully, doing that now. See that with Twenty20 fever, Vishy winning the world title, Meghalaya tribals embracing Amit Paul and Ram symbolising a battlefield that may turn decisive, to change a slavish mindset. India is moving ahead socially and economically.

These new changes are a Diwali gift to the youthful nation announcing again the irrelevance of blind traditionalists and practitioners of doublespeak. The vibrant new generation is becoming the Brahma of nation's destiny. A new track, rebellious mood, unyielding to the stale preachers, lighting their own lamp in their own way, is the new song of young Bharat. Those who want to see it, feel it.

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