The genious that Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar was, the clarity of his vision on social problems, and the courage with which he could express himself, can not be fully understood without carefully reading his thesis on ‘Annihilation of Caste’, and going through some of his speeches delivered during the first half of 20th century, when nearly one fourth of Hindu population in India was considered so low that even an accidental touch of those persons would tantamount to defiling the sanctity of any upper caste person touching him. His opponents may accuse him of being fiery in his expositions but none can deny him the extraordinary ability of clear-sightedness and undaunted courage. It is quite revealing to read his views on caste and, in order to understand the greatness of his thoughts, I consider it necessary to present some of his quotes relevant to caste system and its effects:
- ‘Originally, varnas were based on worth, but castes became based on birth.’
- ‘The law of chaturvarna prohibited the Shudras from pursuing knowledge, from engaging in economic enterprise, and bearing arms with the result that they could never revolt.’
- ‘Caste system embodies the arrogance and selfishness of a perverse section of society.’
- ‘It has narrowed a man’s loyalty to his caste, made virtue and morality caste ridden.’
- ‘Caste has made Shuddhi, i. e., conversion to Hinduism impracticable - and so long as there is no sangathan the Hindus will remain weak and meek and will tolerate insult and wrong meekly.’
- ‘Although the castes in Hindu society have similarity of customs, beliefs, and thoughts, they are neither a society nor a nation in the true sense of the term. They are a collection of castes.’
- ‘Caste has ruined the Hindu race and has destroyed, demoralised, and devitalised Hindu society.’
Dr. Ambedkar’s views on caste are very much the same as those of Lala Hardayal, who had observed,
‘Caste is the curse of India. Caste, in all its forms, has made us nation of slaves. It is not Islam, it is not England that has destroyed India. Our enemy is within us. Priest-craft and caste have slain us.’
Caste has also been condemned by some other great social reformers like Veer Savarkar, Swami Shraddhanand, P. C. Ray, and Aurobindo Ghosh. However, many social reformers have not come out with a clear cut solution to the problem. Dr. Ambedkar was clear in his mind about the only solution available for bringing in a homogenous Hindu society and that was annihilation of caste. He declared, ‘Only when Hindu society becomes a casteless society, that it can hope to have strength enough to defend itself.’ He suggested abolition of the practice of hereditary priesthood and grant of sanad of priesthood to any Hindu who passes a test. He exhibited that he was a rational nationalist when he wrote, ‘The Indians should become a nation in the social and psychological sense by discarding caste which brought about separation in social life and created jealousy and antipathy between caste and caste.’
Dr. Ambedkar’s remedy to annihilate caste was very pragmatic and probably the only effective solution available considering all the circumstances. He wrote, ‘The real remedy is inter-marriage. Fusion of blood alone can create a feeling of being kith and kin. And unless this feeling of kinship, of being kindred, becomes permanent, the separatist feeling – the feeling of being aliens- created by caste will not vanish.”
Unfortunately during Dr. Ambedkar’s lifetime upper caste Hindus generally failed to show large heartedness enough to take sufficient steps for annihilation of castes or even assimilation of lower castes in the mainstream Hindu society. Hence, out of sheer disgust Dr. Ambedkar decided not to die a Hindu. But he was always conscious of the possible adverse consequences to the country resulting from the disintegration of Hindu society. He wrote, ‘What the consequences of conversion will be to the country? Conversion to Islam or Christianity will denationalise the depressed classes. If they go over to Islam, the number of Muslims would be doubled, and danger of Muslim domination will be real. If they go over to Christianity, it will help to strengthen the hold of Britain in the country.’
On Oct. 14, 1956, at the fag end of his life, he decided to relinquish Hinduism, but with a feeling and knowledge that such a step was not in the best interests of maintaining unity in the country, as he wrote,
“I will choose the least harmful way for the country - Buddhism, which is part and parcel of Bhartiya culture.’ Here the significance of ‘least harmful’ should not be overlooked as it implies existence of feeling of harm to the country.
Majority of the present day Ambedkarites, unfortunately for this country, are hell bent to do everything that Dr. Ambedkar detested. Many of them openly preach strengthening (instead of annihilation) of scheduled castes so that they can compete with upper castes. Bereft of Ambedkar’s incisive intellect and magnanimity of thoughts they mostly try to thrive on creation of hatred against upper caste Hindus in general and Gandhi in particular. It should suffice to quote certain fulminations of one such Ambedkarite – Mulchand Sonkar:
‘Gandhi desh me Ram Rajya sthapit karna chahte the jo unki loktantra virodhi rajshahi pravritti ka hi dyotak hai. (Gandhi wanted to establish Ram-Rajya in the country, which is indicative of his anti-democratic and pro-monarchy tendencies).’
‘Angrezi shashan ke viruddh chalaya gaya rashtriya andolan prakarantar me daliton aur adivasiyon ko shashwat paradhin banaye rakhne ka hi andolan tha. (National revolution against the British was indirectly meant to keep Dalits and Adivasis in perpetual domination.)’
Any impartial observer of Indian society and politics can see that most of these so called Ambedkarites want to perpetuate caste system because it would perpetuate undeserved benefits to the top few of their kind who have cornered almost everything initially after independence. Reservations based on caste alone will always preclude poor entrants and, perpetual existence of large section of poor S.Cs./S.Ts. will ensure continuation of reservations ad infinitem. Dr. Ambedkar fought for integrity and impartiality throughout his life but it is a common knowledge among government officers that about two decades back the so-called staunch Ambedkarites among government servants had in a secret conclave decided to protect and promote officers of their castes irrespective of their corruption and misdemeanors. The standards of probity maintained by self-proclaimed Ambedkarites in public life are too well known to need any comments.
This is a recipe for disharmony, disintegration and degradation rather than harmonious assimilation and progress which Dr. Ambedkar strived for throughout his life.
If the country has to remain united and become strong Dr. Ambedkar’s prescription of annihilation of caste has to be followed irrespective of the political consequences. Of course this will need vision, will, and character among the political rulers. The consequences of strengthening of caste are not far to be seen. The strengthening of caste through caste-based reservations in general and Mandalisation in particular has divided the society, services and politics in such competing groups that are always ready to sacrifice integrity, impartiality, and national interest for the sake of their own caste group. Through sheer maneuvering and numerical strength many castes such as Jats in western U. P., Yadavas in central U. P., Meenas in Rajasthan, etc., which dominate the scene economically as well as socially, have managed to ride the reservation band wagon, and some of them continue to do so even after grabbing seats in the services beyond the ratio of their population. Many leaders of these groups preach population proliferation among themselves and also indulgence in blatant casteism for strengthening their groups. The caste groups also indulge in violent agitations for increasing their share in the reservations putting the life of millions of Indians and national property in the hands of marauding mobs. What should send a chill through the spine of any Indian loving the nation that such illegal acts are rewarded by the vote-hungry governments rather than being dealt with according to the law of the land.
In order to escape the vitals of the country being eaten by the monster of reservation there can be more than one solutions- like, giving a deep thrust in efforts to educate and improve the lot of the downtrodden and scrapping the reservations gradually within a decade or, altering the basis of reservations to anything but caste; but, considering the fact that about two third voters of the country have been included among the beneficiaries of caste-based reservations rarely a political party would dare to implement such measures. Hence, only practicable solution is the one suggested by Dr. Ambedkar, that is, to destroy caste through fusion of blood.
There can be no doubt that such a fusion of blood through inter-caste marriages will ordinarily be opposed and resisted by almost all castes, but government can put the provision of reservations in services to good use for this national cause. The scheme can be summarized in the following steps:
If this scheme is implemented nearly 50 percent government servants would have a spouse of a caste other than their own. Since the status of government servants is rated high in our society, this will have a cascading effect on others. The marriage of the beneficiary government servant belonging to socially higher category with a spouse belonging to socially lower category will automatically raise the status of hisher spouse’s family. This will bring equality, social harmony, the fusion of blood and annihilation of caste.
- The reservation percentage (50%) for the S. T.S. T. and O. B. C. may continue without any alteration.
- The 22.5 percent reservation in S. C.S. T. quota should be given to all candidates, irrespective of caste, provided they have either already married in that caste group or give it in writing that they will marry in that caste group alone. In the latter case, appointment letter should be handed over to them only when this condition is fulfilled.
- The 27.5 percent reservation in O. B. C. quota should be given to all candidates, irrespective of caste, provided they have already married in that group or give it in writing that they will marry in that caste group alone. In the latter case, the appointment letter should be handed over only after fulfillment of this condition.
- Those who do not agree to this condition should compete in the general quota.
It may seem paradoxical that in this scheme of things general category candidates are also being allowed to compete for reserved jobs but the fact remains that they are becoming instruments for uplifting a family of a lower caste to their own level. Even now large number of reserved category officers seeks unreserved category spouses and thus limit the benefit of reservation to one family only. The marriage of a general category officer with the reserved category spouse serves the social purpose of caste annihilation and social equality much more than the existing scheme of things.
Some compulsive critics may also argue that what will happen if the beneficiary government servant divorces the spouse after getting the benefit of reservation. To them my reply is that the divorce among government servants is neither easy, nor common, nor socially acceptable. Although exceptions cannot be denied, but is there any dearth of cases in which reserved category government servants have either divorced or abandoned the spouses of their caste and subsequently married with general category spouses?
Let us hope that good sense prevails among the powers that be in general and Ambedkarites in particular and everybody makes genuine efforts to implement Ambedkar’s suggestions: failing which caste wars - particularly among reserved categories - will throw the nation in a caste-cauldron of lawlessness.