Wednesday, January 05, 2011

2G - The Caste Dimension!

There are various groups having varied opinions about the current political crisis in the country caused by few corrupt politicos. Each of them views it from a different angle depending on their own area of interest. Some say that this has exposed how Indian politics is being controlled by the large business houses. Some others say it could not have been done by one minister for his wellbeing and there would be a huge network behind him (well beyond the historically corrupt political family and the party controlled by them).  I see some logic in these two views. I think that they are true as well.

What boils my blood is this. Some shamelessly justify the corruption and feel proud about the number, too. It’s their way of showing their loyalty to the party that threw some peanuts (please write to me if I can call it something else to make them look very cheap) to them in some form whenever it was in power. When the common man thinks ‘if I am getting the share from what was looted I have no problem with the government and I would support that government’, what change can happen? If stature of leaders is judged by their ability to loot, what revolution can happen? Some paid-journalists (mostly in regional media) write that there is no sign of corruption in whatever is being talked about. I won’t be surprised even if they eat human waste if you pay money to them. So, better we start learning to ignore them. 

Of all those different views what appealed to me the most is this. Some politicians in Tamil Nadu are calling it a crucial stage in the Aryan-Dravidian fight. Their argument is that the Aryans who are not able to digest the empowerment of Dravidians in New Delhi are targeting an innocent Dravidian. There is nothing more demeaning to the Dravidian culture than this. It only gives a picture as if all Dravidians are looters and looting is their culture. My dear politicians! Someone sometime back said Dravidian means thief in Sanskrit. Please don’t confirm that by supporting a thief. There are thieves everywhere. Let them get punished irrespective of their background. If you really want to do something to your land, fight with your north Indian counterparts for better railway network or drinking water. Don’t do that to save a crook from the punishment he deserves for the share he or his boss has given you.

Some others see that as an upper caste movement against one or two lower caste achievers (Someone becoming a chief justice from such background is really an achievement, but I surely don’t think the guy who became a central minister to loot the nation is an achievement. It was just an accident coupled with destiny!). Like most of you I also find these views to be extremely nonsensical. And, we should never give an opportunity for a criminal to take shelter under any such banner. All the corrupt fellows and those who got a good share from them try to use this as a last resort when they have nothing else to defend themselves. Let’s spit on their face and ignore.

But, what is really bothering me is the same views expressed by some respectable people who don’t generally get trapped in such narrow-minded politics. They are saying that the corruption is not justified but targeting an individual has a hidden agenda. It is just because that minister belongs to lower caste he is being targeted so much. Same is the case with the former chief justice as well. If it was anyone else he would not have been spoken about so much. Their point is that the upper caste lobby is trying to prove to the nation in a very very subtle manner that they are not fit to rule or to be in such responsible positions by proving their very few achievers (who came up successfully winning against all hardships) as corrupt. What? One more type of lobbying?! How many different types of lobbying are hiding behind this case?!

If you belong to upper caste and you get defensive and irritated the moment you hear this, let me tell you, you shouldn’t do that. It only means that you take it as a personal attack whereas it is not. You don’t have to unless you really aspire to represent your community. It is similar to those who try to safeguard the corrupt man. They can only say that they are not corrupt. They should not say that everyone from their background is not corrupt. Likewise, you should only feel offended if you are accused of forming an upper caste lobby or being part of it. Instead, if you try to argue that there is no such lobby, people start getting a doubt that there is something fishy.

Anyways, my view here is that the allegation (or the hypothesis) may or may not be true! Hope holding a view that is not conclusive is not a sin. After all, it helps to understand both the sides objectively. So, let us discuss the possibilities and problems in both the sides.

Why do I think it may be true? I personally know people who think people from such backgrounds should remain wherever they are now and should not even dream of becoming big in public life. When I say people it is not the friends and cousins. All sorts of people from all walks of life – educated, uneducated, rich, poor, politicians, business men, farmers, upper caste, backward caste, and all sorts! The only exclusion I could say here is the people brought up in really urban background. All others find and create reasons to hate people from lower castes. They hate even the cleanest of such people just because they belong to such caste. For them, Ambedkar and Mayavati are the same. According to them, both don’t deserve any respect. You can see that in the voting pattern of our people and candidate selection pattern of our leaders. How many times have we voted for a schedule caste candidate in a general constituency or how many schedule caste candidates have their leaders dared to contest in general constituencies? So, knowing our people very well, I wouldn’t like to rule out the possibility just like that.

OK. Why do I think it may not be true? At the same time when this guy is being targeted for his historical corruption, there is another fellow from upper caste who is also being targeted almost the same way for his corruption in games. Both their cases are historical – ‘never seen before’ kind of cases (I am not sure how many more such ‘never seen before’ and ‘bigger than ever before’ cases we are going to witness in our lifetime!). I don’t see any difference in the ways these people are being treated. We hate both of them equally. So does media. So, it may not be true, too.

I remember the same kind of conspiracies being talked about during the time of Bangaru Laxman issue as well. Their point was, ‘you would choose one of us with whom you are very comfortable, make him your leader, pretend as if you are open to anyone as long as they are qualified and do all nasty stuff behind the scenes to prove them incapable or corrupt’. Commonsense tells me that it doesn’t make sense. In this case, if you consider that ‘you’ is his party, his party didn’t perform the sting operation nor did it play any role in the operation directly or indirectly. But, that ‘you’ needs to be taken differently. It is us, the people of the country and the nation as a whole! We do understand the frustration, but, it is not that the sting operations have been made only against Dalit leaders so far. Bangaru Laxman’s community was not Tehelka’s target. It was his party that was targeted. That’s why his party targeted them back in retaliation.

A friend of mine says that the English media wouldn’t carry so much hatred towards Mayavati and make so much fun about her (even if she was more corrupt than now) if she had been from upper caste and looked fair and beautiful like the ones that are currently cheating the country with their skin color. We don’t think that these people are corrupt though they are. The Media doesn’t write about their corruption stories though they have many. Why? Reasons are many. They manage their image very well. They pay news channels to portray good about them. They don’t make their corruption very obvious. They don’t encourage making garlands made of thousand rupees notes and accept it in public wrongly thinking that that would boost their public image. We believe or we are made to believe that they won’t be corrupt because they come from so and so family background that has a legacy whereas this lady is hated by almost everyone that speaks English. All in all, I don’t find my friend’s argument meaningful nor am I able to rule it out. What do you think?

Coming back to this case (2G) itself, all the heads that are rolling now are not from the same community. The corporate lobbyist (I never knew that there is such a role in corporate) who wanted to see this clean man at the helm of telecom affairs is not from his community. All the officials who are involved in this case are not from his community. All the names that are going to come out in near future won’t be from his community alone. But, that has to happen to prove the hypothesis wrong. If the case is short-closed with only one name as the accused, then I would have to write a follow-up post to confirm the hypothesis.

OK. For a moment, let’s forget these arguments. Let it be true or otherwise. What is the takeaway from this for the people from those communities? What I would say as the only takeaway is that they have to be extremely careful in choosing their leaders going forward. But, do they have a say in choosing their leaders in all cases? Not really. For instance, in this case, this guy was promoted so much not by his people but by his party leader, just because he was loyal to him and/or his daughter!

OK. So, let’s put it this way. They have to be extremely careful in choosing their leaders whenever they have a say in it and they have to be all the more careful when any one of them becomes successful in their career or in public life. Even if we consider the hypothesis to be true, no one would have been able to target him had he remained as decent as an Ambedkar or a Jagjivan Ram or a K R Narayanan. At the max, people would have just hated them within and not even expressed their hatred in public.

When you succeed against all odds and get into this kind of cheap stuff, you risk the future of your entire society, not just yours. It closes the door forever for everyone that comes anywhere close to where you are today.

So be responsible and cautious. But, if you think you need that tag just to hide behind when you are in trouble, sorry, can’t help!


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