Friday, 22 May 2015

Representation on Ambedakarism

R. B. SREEKUMAR, IPS (Retd.)
Former DGP, Gujarat.                                                                                                               “Sreelekshmideepam”
                                                Plot No. 193, Sector-8,
                                                Gandhinagar-382 007
                                                Gujarat.
                                                rbsreekumar71@yahoo.com
                                                www.harmonynotes.in
                                                Tel. (R) 079-23247876
                                                (M) 09428016117
                                                Letter No. 3-A/2015/MSJE
                                                Dated the 9th May, 2015..
To,
Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot,
Hon. Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment,
and  Chairman Dr. Ambedkar Foundation,
202, C Wing, Shastri Bhavan,
New Delhi-110 001.

Sub :-  Implementation of Ambedkarism instead
            of mere tokenist and extravagant
            celebration of Ambedkar Jayanti.

Respected Minister Sir,
          Political parties of India, have, been engaged in year-long celebration of Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar Jayanti since April 14, 2015.  Ambedkar’s unique and laudable position among the makers of modern India is acknowledged by all.  The multi-faceted contribution of Ambedkar towards (1) emancipation, empowerment and enlightenment of India’s historically enslaved and depressed people, and (2) conception, configuration and creation of the Constitution of India, will be an evergreen spring of inspiration to all patriotic Indians of the present times and future.  Functionaries in the political and administrative bureaucracy in the Union government are, reportedly, engaged in designing concrete plans and projects to comprehend and implement salient features of Ambedkarism delineated in his writings and speeches, like (1) Annihilation of Caste, (2) Buddha and his dharma, (3)  Rise and fall of Hindu women, (4) Ranade, Gandhi and Jinnah, (5) States and minorities, (6) Who were the Shudras, (7) Riddles of Hinduism, (8) Untouchables, (9)  What Congress and Gandhi have done to the untouchables, (10) The Revolution and Counter Revolutions in India, (11)  Buddha and Karl Marx and (12) Speeches in the Constituent Assembly. 
2.       Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations and related programmes should create transformative impact on Indian society, providing value-addition in the standard and quality of lives of the Nation’s under-priviledged have-nots.  For achieving this objective, a few proposals are listed below for government’s consideration and necessary action :-
(A)     Ambedkarism in the educational syllabi :
          Quintessential ideals of Ambedkarism should be incorporated in the curriculum of all Indian schools at Middle and High School levels.  Recently, reportedly, the State governments of Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, have included concepts from the Hindu scripture – Bhagvat Gita, in school’s syllabi.
(B)     “The Annihilation of Caste” as a Text Book  :
          Normally, for students learning for Secondary School Certificate (SSC), a secondary text book is prescribed for their language papers, i.e.; English, regional languages or Hindi.  The autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi, books by Rabindranath Tagore, Prem Chand (Hindi), Umashankar Joshi (Gujarati), Thakazhi Shivashankara Pillai (Malayalam), Tiruvalluvar (Tamil), Ananda Murthy (Kannada), Sharat Chandra Chatterjee (Bengali), Kalidas (Sanskrit) etc. are illustrative cases.  As part of Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations, his epoch-making and incisive book “Annihilation of Caste” (1936), re-published by Navayana Publications, New Delhi in 2014, be introduced as an additional text book for all SSC students in India.


(C)     Graduate and Post-Graduate courses on Ambedkarism in
Universities :
          In Indian Universities, BA and MA courses on Ambedkarism should be introduced.  Course materials should also include theoretical concepts and practical skill training in social welfare, gender justice, awareness creation on social legislations on dowry, child labour, civil rights, drug addiction etc., empowerment of the marginalized, qualitative upgradation in delivery of socio-economic welfare schemes for the targeted people etc.   This would make the students, who hold degrees on Ambedkarism, eligible for employment in government’s welfare programmes.  For the subject of Ambedkarism, the following papers can be designed for BA/MA courses :-
(1)              Life and basic work of Ambedkar,
(2)              Ambedkar’s views on origin and evil of Caste system in India,
(3)              Ambedkar’s jurisprudence,
(4)              Ambedkar’s ideas on welfare economics,
(5)              Ambedkar’s contribution in the making of the Constitution and other legislations.
(6)              Relevance of Ambedkar’s ideas for Social upliftment and enlightenment,
(7)              Ambedkar’s ideas on Science, Technology, Development and Distributive justice.
(8)              Ambedkar’s political ideology,
(9)              Ambedkar’s vision of India’s future,
(10)         Interface of Ambedkar with his contemporaries in public life,
(11)         Ambedkar’s views on Buddhism and Marxism,
(12)         Critical study of Ambedkar’s book, ‘The Riddles of Hinduism’.
(13)         Relevance and applicability of Ambedkarism in today’s India.
Madurai Kamraj University in Tamilnadu is conducting Graduate and Post-Graduate courses on Gandhian Thought, since last 10 years.
(D)     Total effacement of manual scavenging in India :
          A famous social health care analyst, Anurodh Lalit Jain, in his article in Hindu Daily on 14-4-2013 captioned “Let’s help realize the vision of Ambedkar for Dalits” – ‘Action, not just offering flowers, will be the real tribute’,       wrote :-
          “A depressing fact as revealed in the 2011 census data on households is that an estimated 8 lakh people are traditionally engaged in manual removal of night soil – a great embarrassment to the State governments that are still in denial mode.  Dr. Ambedkar’s efforts to root out such caste biases were perceived to be advanced by Mayavati, who eventually became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.  However, the census data show that Uttar Pradesh continues to have the dubious distinction of leading the list with approximately 3.2 lakh people still involved in manual removing of human waste.  The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition Act), 1993, has provision for punishment, including fine, for employing scavengers or constructing Dry Toilets.  However, manual scavengers are continued to be employed to this date by Municipalities, the Railways and defence Establishments. Dr. Ambedkar is considered the Messiah for his efforts to bring equal opportunity and social justice to the marginalized communities.  A real tribute to the great leader would be to continue with his efforts of empowering the Scheduled Caste and helping them overcome the vicious cycle of caste and cultural barrier, rather than merely offering flowers to his statue on his birth and death anniversaries”.
          The Union government should launch a special drive to stamp out this sadistic, barbarous, mentally and physically hazardous vocation or debilitating profession imposed on dalits for their economic subsistence, sanctified by the quagmire of Hindu caste system.  A well planned socio-economic rehabilitation and re-settlement programme for those cursed to do the perilous job of manual scavenging, be introduced, by imparting them alternative skills to take up any other productive and healthy employment, with sufficient financial package.  Considering mastery and dexterity of Indian bureaucracy to suppress truth and misrepresent facts, the government should make the Chief Secretaries of States and Secretaries in charge of relevant Central Government departments personally responsible for emancipation, rehabilitation and re-settlement of manual scavengers, before the next Ambedkar Jayanti Day on 14-4-2016. 
          The Central Intelligence Bureau (IB), having Nation-wide competent and ingenious information gathering material and human resources, should be tasked to conduct a Nation-wide secret survey about prevalence of manual scavenging and provide adequate inputs required for launching a long-term durable and permanent rehabilitation programme. 
(E)     Creation of cadre of priests from all castes among Hindus,
           in government administered temples :
          Altitude of a caste in hierarchy of Hindu Caste order is, generally, proportionate to the physical contiguity of those belonging to that caste to the worshiping idols (Murti) in temples.  Persons, who are religiously entitled and scripturally eligible to conduct devotional and sacramental rites and theological ceremonies in the sanctum sanctorum (Garbha Gruha), i.e.; Agnihotri, Tantri, Vajpayee, Namboothiri etc. are installed in the highest pedestal of Hindu caste pecking order.  Those engaged in the miscellaneous and auxiliary temple duties like preparing items for worship (Pooja) and deity’s ceremonial food (prasadam) do occupy the next grade to the priest.  The security providers stand next in the line.  Unfortunately, in temples administered by governments, this illegal, unethical, unjust and anachronistic system violating two basic foundational ideals of the Constitution, viz.; equality and fraternity, are prevalent throughout India.
          Illustratively, nearly 2000 temples in Kerala State are administered by semi-governmental bodies – Devaswam Boards, constituted under the Travancore Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act-1950.  The administrative bureaucracy of these bodies are appointed by the State government.  Imperatively, all public, private institutions and bodies functioning for rendering multifarious service to the people have to fully adhere to the basic fundamental structure of the Constitution of India, enshrined in the Preamble, Part-III – Fundamental Rights, and Article 51(a) on Fundamental Duties.
          Article 13 of the Constitution has declared that all laws, which includes any Ordinance, Order, by-law, rule, regulation, notification, custom and usage, in force in India, which are inconsistent with the provisions of the Fundamental Rights in Part-III be void.  Recently, information about rules and regulations about appointment of the Chief and Junior Priests in the temples, under the administrative control of Travancore Devaswam Board, was obtained through RTI Act, 2005.  The data received had indicated that posts of priests are exclusively reserved for persons belonging to Malayalee Brahmin caste.  Moreover, the post of the Chief Priest of Sabarimala temple is exclusively reserved for a Brahmin family in Chengannoor.  Further, no fool-proof, transparent and systematic selection procedure is reportedly followed for selection of Priests in temples.  In short, there is a lot of confusion in selection, training, appointment, promotion and streamlining of service conditions of cadre of Priests performing poojas.
          Reportedly, similar unjust and illegal procedures and practices are followed practically in all temples and shrines governed by State and Central governments or Trusts, constituted by them throughout India.  A few of these temples are, Somnath Shiva temple, Dakor Krishna Temple, Ambaji Devi Temple, and Shymlaji Krishna Temple – all in Gujarat State; Kamakhya temple in Assam; Nath Dwara Temple in Rajasthan; Vaishnav Devi Temple in Jammu and Kashmir; Kali/Durga Temples in West Bengal; Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa; Meenaxi Devi Temple in Tamil Nadu; Tirupati Balaji Temple in Andhra Pradesh, Siddhi Vinayaka Temple in Mumbai, Maharashtra; etc. (There are many more).
          Monopolistic and exclusivist absolute reservation of posts of priests (Archakas) and assignments for collateral duties in temples for those from upper caste is unlawful, culpable, evilsome and violative of all cannons of equity, justice and ideals of modern jurisprudence.  Besides, this practice is blatantly contrary to Article 14 (equality before law), Article 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of  birth) and Article 16 (equality of opportunities in matters of public employment),   of the Constitution of India.
          Significantly, the prevailing discriminative system in the creation and sustainence of priestly order in Hindu temples, shrines and religious bodies, dedicated to the service of devotees and public, are sacrilegious and amounting to desecration of specific stipulations in the core scriptures of Vedic religion of Hinduism – (1) the Rigveda, (2) Upanishads, and (d) Bhagvad Gita.  Superiority of an individual solely based on his birth, i.e.; Jati (Caste) is unscientific, illogical and unreasonable.  Sanskrit etimology of word ‘Jati’ is “Janmana Jati” – Caste is based on birth only.  So, this social construction is devoid of any appraisal of physical, psychological, emotional, mental, intellectual and spiritual dimensions of an individual personality.   The fact is that the caste system, historically, had blocked horizontal and vertical socio-educational and cultural mobility and empowerment in Indian society, besides keeping India backward and defeatist in most fields of human activities since 4th Century of Common Era. (CE).
          The practice of selecting priests from Brahmin and its allied castes, from ancient times, is never approved or validated in cardinal and elementary canonical treatises of Hinduism.  A few relevant extracts from Holy Texts are given below :-
“May you move together, speak together in one voice;  Let your minds be of one accord; and like the ancient sages, may you enjoy assigned share of fortune”.

“May our counsel or the public prayers be common, and common be our assembly.  May our minds move in accord; May our thinking be in harmony, - common the purpose, and common the desire.    May our prayers and worship be alike, and may our devotional offerings be one and the same.

“May your resolves be one; May your hearts feel alike; May your thinking be one; and thus may all of you live happily with thorough union.” (Rigveda, Mandala, 10, Sukta, 191(2 to 4)

“Men of self-knowledge are same-sighted on a Brahmana, imbued with learning and humility, a cow, an elephant, a dog and an outcaste”. (Bhagvad Gita, Adyaya -5, Sloka 18)

“He, who sees Me (universal soul/God) everywhere and sees all in Me, He never becomes lost to me, nor do I become lost to him” (Bhagvad Gita, Adyaya -6, Sloka 30)

          The metaphysical definition of a Brahmin is also not approving the present system of fixing a person’s caste according to his parent’s caste.  The popular definition of Brahmin in scriptures is as follows :-
          “Janmana Jayate Shudra,
 Samskaro dwuja utbhavae,
           Veda padhethi Bhavet vipraha,
           Brahma gnanami Brahmanaha
           (At the time of birth, everybody is Shudra – Shudra means, a person kept away from knowledge – Srutat Dooraha Shudra – the Sanskrit etimologist Yaskan; by acquiring education/culture, he becomes twice born; by mastering Veda (means any set of knowledge), one becomes vipra – a man of specialized knowledge – Vishesha pragna; and by acquiring knowledge of Brahma (brahmagnanam – spiritual awareness), one becomes a Brahmin.
          In this context, I humbly request you and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, to bring suitable legislation for constitution of State-wise Temple Service Cadre (viz.; Gujarat State Temple Service, Kerala State Temple Service, Central Temple Service etc.), by designing a structural frame-work and rules and regulations relating to the age, educational qualification, aptitude etc. of those in the priestly order, on the pattern of existing State and All India Services.  Those currently serving as priests, could suitably be absorbed in the proposed service structure.
          It is pertinent to note that no casteist and unjust discrimination is practiced, in Christianity and Islam, in appointing functionaries to their priestly or religious order, i.e.; from Parish priest to Bishop, Cardinal and Pope in Christianity and Fazil, Alim, Mufti and Kazi in Islam.  Any qualified believer of these religions can get recruited to the post of religious functionaries through prescribed proper channel.  Similar ambience of equality and equity is not prevalent in Hindu society.  Unfortunately, of late, certain self-appointed champions of Hindu religion are pursuing retrogressive and counter-productive programmes like, (a) Ghar Vapasi of re-conversion and (2) arbitrarily meddling with food preferences of citizens – banning consumption of beef in Maharashtra etc., instead of remedying preventable discriminative practices in social, religious and cultural life of Hindus.  Allowing all qualified Hindus to enter the priestly order in temples will be in tune with the direction in the Rigveda to stick to the path of justice.  The Vedic Sukta exhorted  “Oh men! just as the Sun and the Moon, move on the prescribed path with regularity, similarly men also should go on the path of justice”. (Rigveda, Mandala-5, Sukta-51-Sloka-15).  Bhagvad Gita (Adyaya -16, Sloka-24) had also categorically laid down thus – “Let the Shastras (laws) be your authority in deciding what you should do and what you should desist from doing.  Having understood what is ordained by the laws, you should act accordingly.
3.       I humbly submit that acceptance and execution, by Union government, of my proposals in this representation, would be a great leap forward towards realization of Ambedkar’s vision about future of India, echoed in his concluding speech in the Constituent Assembly, after adoption of the Constitution on 25th November, 1949 – “Political Democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it, social democracy, i.e.; a way of life, which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as principles of life.  They form a union or trinity.  Without equality, liberty would produce supremacy of the few over the many.  Equality without liberty would kill individual initiative.  Without fraternity, liberty and equality could not become a natural course of things……..We have a society based on the principle of graded inequality, means elevation of some and degradation of others.  We are entering into a life of contradictions.   We have political equality; but in social and economic life, we will have inequality.  In politics, we follow one man, one vote and one vote one value.  In society and economics, we deny principle of one man, one value…… Those who suffer from inequality, will blow up the structure of democracy……Fraternity envisages a common brotherhood of all Indians – being one people – giving unity and solidarity to social life.  The castes are anti-national, they bring about separation in life, generate jealousy and antipathy between caste and caste.  Without fraternity, equality and liberty, will be no deeper than coats of paint……Many in India are beasts of burden, but also beasts of prey.  The down-trodden classes are tired of being governed.  People are tired of government by the people.  They are prepared to have government for the people and are indifferent whether it is government of the people and by the people.  If we wish to preserve the Constitution in which we have sought to enshrine the principles of government of the people, for the people and by the people, let us resolve not to be tardy in the recognition of evils that lie across our path and which induce people to prefer government for the people, to government by the people, nor to be weak in our initiative to remove them.  That is the only way to serve the country, I know of no better”.
4.       Actualization of my proposals, would also largely facilitate and empower the under-priviledged of India to comprehend the central message of Ambedkarism, exemplified through his ideals, precepts, practices and way of life.  An invigorated awareness about the life and the multifarious services of Ambedkar to our motherland would inspire and motivate people to initiate purposeful action towards redressal of their socio-economic grievances, besides securing qualitatively better service and justice delivery from the functionaries of the Indian State.  Through absorption and concretization of Ambedkarism, in Indian public life, the country’s elite, can liberate themselves from their self-chosen retrogressive status-quoism, as envisaged in the Vedic prayer -
          “Oh Lord! We have fallen in a dark cave.  In this severe darkness, many demons are harassing us.  We pray to you to destroy this darkness and bless us with donation of brightness, so that we can be liberated from these enemies”. (Rigveda, Mandala-1, Sukta-86, Sloka-10)
5.       I respectfully request you to kindly favour me with a reply about receipt of my representation and the follow-up action by your Ministry at your earliest convenience.

Yours faithfully,

(R. B. Sreekumar)
Copy with compliments for information and necessary action to :-
Shri Rajnath Singh,
Hon. Union Minister for Home,
Ministry of Home Affairs 

104, North Block, New Delhi-110 001.