Exclusive to Just In Print : Dr Aditya V Ingalhalikar
The election of Devendra Fadnavis, by the BJP Members of Legislative Assembly and swearing in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra comes as heartening political news amidst the divisive, hate mongering caste ridden politics that we all have been so accustomed to over the last decade, if not more, of the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party rule in the state and the country at large.
The ground reality of discrimination experienced by the citizens with no political voice, but expressed only in private circles stood corroborated when the recently resigned former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan, candidly acclaimed the upside of Congress political philosophy of divisive caste ridden politics while analysing BJP’s supposed pre-election strategies through the narrow prism of Congress political lens.
One wonders as to what a Justice Madhav Govind Ranade, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, or Gopal Krishna Gokhale, the founding fathers and first members of the Indian National Congress and Independence Movement, all Brahmins, would make of the pan-India organisation that they conceived and evolved to give political representation to all Indians united under one identity, today reduced to a divisive caste based political force, wherein members take pride in discriminating against and expressing how Brahmins don’t matter and are a baggage from a political equation standpoint. The same would be wondered by a Shivaji Maharaj, Samartha Ramdas, and many other great saints who saw Marathas as all who were Marathi and not as a particular caste.
In fact, it was Shivaji Maharaj’s vision of ‘Hindavi Swaraj’ (Hind/Indian Self Rule, at a time when the Mughal powers in India were taking directions from the Turkish caliphates) and Samartha Ramdas Swamis’ clarion call of “Maratha Tituka Melvava Maharashtra Dharma Vaadhvava” (Ref: Shrimad Dasbodh – one of the most revered texts on Spiritual Sciences/Aadhyatma Shastra and public service in Marathi) that exorted Marathas to form a ‘Maha Rashtra’ – ‘Great Nation’, when there was none in existence. It was this vision that resulted in the Maratha Empire of the 17th and 18th century extending from Attock, (today’s Afghanistan-Pakistan border) to Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu which had the interests of the people of Hind/India at heart.
Former CM Prithviraj Chavan and many other politicians may conveniently cite political realities for caste discrimination, but the reader may well be aware that these realities have been conceived by the caste ridden politicians themselves in their aim of securing easy votes. The Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha elections of 2014 are ample proof that given the option, posing a broader pan-India and united vision to the Indian citizens and working for all, as against offering dole to different groups and communities of people has a higher appeal in all people’s hearts. If it were not so, giving reservations to the Maratha (caste), who form a majority in the State and Muslim communities based only on the pressures from vested organisations that claim to but do not in reality represent the majority of Maratha and Muslim population of Maharashtra should have reaped the Congress and NCP handsome benefits. But instead, both parties were wiped out in the National elections and severely marginalised in the State Assembly election.
Post-independence Congress and its allies like NCP, SP, RJD, BSP, DMK and communist parties who promote caste-based divisive politics under the garb of socialism/communism may well be blamed for exploiting this low hanging fruit of the divisive ghosts of past social institutions/classes (prevalent in all human societies on earth, the difference being a variation in form or shape), but the onus is also on us as citizens of a post-independent India, wherein the citizens allowed the particular political parties to exploit us in the name of the caste ghost. Public memory is short, so the fear is that as time goes by and the dust from this election victory settles, people may forget the ideals of ‘Ek Bharat – Shreshtha Bharat’ and ‘Sabka Saath – Sabka Vikas’ on which the National Elections and subsequent State Assembly Elections are being fought. History is proof that this is true of the Indian electorate. It gives mental space to the ghosts of the dead institutions of caste and that many have gone back into self-destruct mode in the recent past by re-electing caste-based political philosophies over philosophies of social unity. The prime example of this is the re-election of the Congress and Socialist/Communist Allies Government over the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP & allies Government in 2004 (the only stable full term non-congress Government in 67 years). The result of this suicidal/self-destructive behavior is evident now, 10 years later.
Having said that, the present always thrives on the hope for the future and if the current political scenario in the country is the first step in the right direction, it may serve well to consolidate and make permanent this position for our future and the future of our children and their children to eternity by proactively following the timeless philosophy of a Swami Vivekananda [Ref: Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda] and thousands of our Indian saints and sages who made us aware of the divinity within all human life and propounded that the caste system (rather class system, ‘caste’ being a misnomer) is nothing but a trade guild of the past, which has now been replaced by a new guild – scientists, teachers, engineers, doctors, lawyers, machinists, farmers, administrators, politicians, businessmen, military personnel… the list will go on to include hundreds of more professions within which anyone can become anybody as long as they are passionate and hard working. It may well be the time to goad ourselves, the citizens of India, to heed the words of a Swantryaveer Savarkar (Ref: Samagra Savarkar Sangraha – Jatyuchhedak Nibandha) and introspect to recognise the caste bogey for what it really is.
(Dr Aditya V Ingalhalikar (PhD), Philadelphia, PA, USA)