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Lakhs of women across the world, including in the developed western countries, rallied and joined demonstrations, to mark the UN’s International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 24. It is well known that patriarchy reigns around the world, East or West, and irrespective of religion, and irrespective of caste in India and South Asia, with variation only in forms and degrees. And it often takes the form of physical violence against women, not to speak of sexual abuse. We do not know if the twitter bosses and their admirers in India are equally concerned about patriarchy in the capitalist West. They are good at preaching to the developing countries, mouthing human rights, gender index etc. There are slavish Indian intellectuals, and mainstream media, who lap up whatever is served by them. Fact of the matter is : Not one country, but the  mankind has to strive, has a long way to go, to put an end to this inhuman phenomenon. ‘Me too movement’ is also a related activity.

Meanwhile, not directly related to these demonstrations, there has been a discussion in recent days in countercurrents.org on this topic: VB Rawat, learned activist and a regular contributor, wrote a couple of articles, titled Smash Brahmanical Patriarchy and The ‘Hurt’ Feelings Of Brahmins, published on November 21 and 22 respectively. He expanded the debate into caste, Brahmanism etc, linking it to patriarchy. Then he went into the polity, the power structures, linking it all to Brahmanism etc.

(See https://countercurrents.org/2018/11/21/smash-brahmanical-patriarchy/

and https://countercurrents.org/2018/11/22/the-hurt-feelings-of-brahmins/_)

None can disagree that even patriarchy as such has been a universal problem, across the globe, including advanced countries of the West. Feminist movements in the West are well-known, and influenced those in India too. Patriarchy is universal, part of exploitative systems around the world, across religious groups too. Only forms and degrees vary. Farooque Chowdhury raised valid and pertinent questions, published as part of comments on both these articles, about the approach taken in the articles by VB Rawat. In the Indian context,  Brahmanical Patriarchy, has been a cliché, more so in recent decades.

In view of lasting importance of questions involved in this debate – it is not between just two individuals – it merits a separate discussion more than a brief comment as a footnote. Instead of refutations, the problem needs to be seen in a balanced manner, in perspective, objectively. Hence this article, to just mention some issues.

G-8 top the list in rapes and patriarchy too  

While patriarchy is universal, rapes are admittedly worst crimes that are part of patriarchy. It is so universal that the G-8 countries also top in rapes. The Me Too movement, welcome for its own reasons, conceals more than it reveals about patriarchy. It is an under-statement of the problem and distorts the real and basic issues.

Mind you : Rape is a severely under-reported crime, across the world, with surveys showing dark figures of up to 91.6% of rapes going unreported. Prevalence of reasons for not reporting rape differ across countries, says Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

UK and US topped the world in rapes, each with around 35-36 rapes per lakh population . India with 5.7 rapes is at a lower rung. ( UN Crime Trend Statistics 2013. timesofindia.com.       April24,2018)

Following is a list of top 10 countries with highest rape crimes as of 2018.(Ranks given down from 10th to 1st.) It is based on official data supplied by respective governments. Japan does not figure in this list, but for reasons  mentioned separately below.

  1. Denmark and Finland 9. Zimbabwe 8. Australia 7. Canada 6. New Zealand 5. India 4. England and Wales 3. USA 2. Sweden 1. South Africa

The Ranking  2-3 years ago was like this : 10. Ethiopia 9. Sri Lanka 8. Canada 7. France 6. Germany 5. United Kingdom 4. India 3. Sweden 2. South Africa 1. United States.

South Africa and Zimbabwe also figure in the list, but it may be noted that they continue to be exploited and are victims of White Racist oppression that is not totally removed despite political decolonization.

Crimes against women in developed countries are so high that a liberal admirer cannot digest or does not like to see. The Report, for instance , also mentions :

“ Rape was not a crime in France until 1980. Laws reinforcing women’s rights and safety are relatively recent in France. The law making rape a crime dates back only to 1980. Earlier decrees were based on 19th century moral codes.” (They had their own Manu? ) Mind you it is the country that gave slogans of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, mouthed and preached by all the liberal West to the backward countries including India. And they seek to intervene in other countries in the name of human rights.

About Germany: ” An estimate of 240,000 women and girls has died up till now in Germany because of this crime. Germany is on the number six in the highest rape crime with the figures of 6,507,394 in this year which is really a big figure. German Catholics have allowed the morning-after pills for the victims. The country moving forward in technology is actually moving really backward in humanity.” ( Catholic Church obviously realized it can’t prevent crimes but can only safeguard women with pills.)

About United States: The super power of the world was at the first position in the race of rapes, ranks 3 latest . .. According to the National Violence Against Women Survey, 1 in 6 U.S. women and 1 in 33 U.S. men has experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. More than a quarter of college-age women report having experienced a rape or rape attempt since age 14. Out of all, only 16% of the total cases are reported.

About United Kingdom : According to report: Approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year. Over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year. One in 5 women (aged 16 – 59) has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.

About India: Rape and Sexual violence is a massive problem in India. According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), crimes against women have increased by 7.5% since 2010. The number of reported rapes in India, a country of over 1.2 billion people, has gone up to 33,707 in 2013 from 24,923 in 2012. The majority of rape victims are between 18 years and 30 years. About one out of three victims is below 18, and one in ten rape victims is under 14. In India, a woman is being raped after every 20 minutes.

(https://www.wonderslist.com/top-10-countries-with-maximum-rape-crimes/)

Rapes in Japan : Projected by some as a predominantly Buddhist society , Japan’s situation needs to be looked into.  Statistics are not available from this country. Karen Ma, a woman author and Lecturer, who lived a combined 25 years in far East , including 15 years in Japan, says : “ The Japanese, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say the Japanese law enforcers, remain very feudalistic in their views towards rapes and rape victims, despite the fact that Japan has undergone rapid modernization since the late 70s. Law enforcers and police still look at rape victims as being mostly responsible for their ordeals, that they must have done something wrong to have this violent crime happened to them. This thinking is so strong that many women, once becoming victims, choose to keep quiet instead of reporting it to police (still predominantly males) to avoid being humiliated, and therefore, get “raped” psychologically all over again.”

See another Report of November 08, 2018 : In Japan, sexual harassment isn’t a crime. Women who say Me Too are targets, is the title of a report that says :  “It is a big issue, but it’s not dealt with as a big issue,” said Kaori Sato, who founded a labor union that supports women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted at work. “It’s dealt with as a very small issue. Even though most victims’ lives are torn up by it, like mine was.”

“To say ‘me too’ is quite dangerous in Japan,” Ito told France 24. “So, we came up to say ‘we too’ so no one can target me or [any other] individual… But even with this Japanese spin on the Me Too movement, change may be hard to come by — in part because sexual harassment is not a criminal offense in Japan.”

https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-11-08/japan-sexual-harassment-isn-t-crime-women-who-say-metoo-are-targets

And they pay lower, unequal wages to women

The developed capitalist countries with all their resources pay less wages to women. This is another form of patriarchy,  widely prevalent. “ Look across the world and you won’t find a country where men and women have equal earnings.”

“ It is a persistent fact that- across time and across countries – women earn less money than men. This is true in the United States (where women earn about 79 percent of what men do). It is true in Japan (women there earn 73 percent of what a man does). It is true in Denmark (which has a 15 percent wage gap). Look across the world and you won’t find a country where men and women have equal earnings, ” says a Report of  Feb 19, 2018:

“An important new study makes a compelling case for another explanation: The gender wage gap is mostly a penalty for bearing children. The research comes from Henrik Kleven, an economist at Princeton University. He uses data from a country with one of the world’s most robust social safety nets: Denmark. This is a country that offers new parents an entire year of paid leave after the birth of a child. The government offers public nursery care for children under 3 at the equivalent of $737 a month – a fraction of typical costs in the United States.

“ Yet Denmark has a gender wage gap nearly the same size as that of the United States, a country where women are not guaranteed paid maternity leave and child care increasingly costs more than rent. How does that happen? Kleven finds a sharp decline in women’s earnings after the birth of their first child — with no comparable salary drop for men. The cumulative effect is huge: Women end up earning 20 percent less than their male colleagues.

“ Kleven’s research uses Danish data, but similar studies conducted in the United States have found similar results. ”

(https://www.vox.com/2018/2/19/17018380/gender-wage-gap-childcare-penalty)

Equally  revealing is this report :  “ The United States remains the only country in the developed world that does not mandate employers offer paid leave for new mothers, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.”  The law,  made only  25 years ago,  provides for unpaid leave only. (washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/02/05/)

OECD data also reveal the same :

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the average American woman (excluding the considerations of race, sexual orientation, age, income level, physical ability, and whether or not they have children) earns almost 82 cents for every dollar the average American man does – an 18.2% difference in pay compared to the male median wage. But the issue of the gender pay gap extends beyond the borders of the US. The Report gives the details of 12 OECD member countries with the biggest gender pay gaps, ranked least to worst.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, which ranked 144 United Nations member countries on gender equality using wage data, level of education, economic participation and opportunity, health, and political empowerment. Of the countries on that list, not one broke the 0.9 mark (out of the highest possible score of 1) and only five countries scored 0.8 or higher, based on OECD’s findings. The highest ranked country, Iceland, scored 0.874 in 2016, while the US (0.722) ranked 45th, out of 144 in gender index.  

Women in the European Union earned on average 16 per cent less than their male counterparts in 2016, the bloc’s official statistics agency Eurostat revealed, says a report of March 8, 2018.

(See https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/929123/gender-pay-gap-eu-report-statistics-eurostat

and           https://www.vox.com/2018/2/19/17018380/gender-wage-gap-childcare-penalty)

Obviously it is the systems of exploitation – feudal, imperialist, capitalist – that are at the root of patriarchy with all its ugly dimensions. India is an ugly part of that. Proponents of Brahmanical Patriarchy mostly evade and cover up this larger question. Farooque  Chowdhury’s questions are relevant in that context.

 

Farooque Chowdhury’s  Earnest Questions

Farooque Chowdhury, also a regular contributor like VB Rawat, commented and raised important questions (cited below) in this connection. There is patriarchy among people of all religions and among irreligious too, not only in India but across the world. There is caste and casteism too across religions in India and in South Asia and beyond. As part of universal values, most of us want casteism and patriarchy smashed, Brahmanical or otherwise, irrespective of religion or country, all will agree, it is hoped. Or some disagree? They alone should clarify.

Rawat in his first article (Nov.21), at the outset, pointed out : “When we speak of brahmanical patriarchy, (it) is not mere brahmins but all those who believe in varnashram dharma (of) which the brahmins are the founders and torch bearer. A Thakur, a Bania, a Yadav or Kayastha, a Bhumihar or any one else could be a person of brahmanical patriarchy who carry the hatred and contempt for woman.” It is to be presumed that he did not deliberately omit to mention dalits, among the most oppressed, as practitioners of patriarchy. The women are under double-yoke, oppressed even by the most oppressed men around the world, including dalits. Shall we differentiate OBC patriarchy, SC patriarchy, ST patriarchy, Muslim patriarchy, Christian patriarchy etc? The fact of the matter is : this is irrespective of one’s caste and religion, acquired by birth or by conversion. The women of oppressed classes and communities are known to be hard workers, with a good role in social production, but still they are also victims of patriarchal oppression.

Rawat’s articles have many good features and noble ideals that are unexceptional. More of it a little later. The articles also have basic shortcomings which made Farooque Chowdhury to raise valid and pertinent questions on the approach taken in the articles by VB Rawat. Though goals are apparently same or similar, approaches are different. It may help if we review these ideas a little more closely, even if it involves a little bit of repetition. Let us see:

 

Social composition and Class content

VB Rawat says : “The Brahmin power in India actually came after independence as they occupied all the major centers of power right from political power to judiciary, academia, media and even the sports, apart from unchallenged supreme social status.”

The Indian polity changed in composition, but not in content, within 20 years after independence. If seen from a purely empirical basis, his observations are not objective. What people like Rawat see as Brahmin power has been on the decline since 1967-70, when Congress was unseated from Tamil Nadu, never to regain there. Then it followed in much  of South India. And in the so-called Hindi belt too, non-Congress – SVD ministries then came to power, consolidated further after Janata party rule in 1977, and more so after Mandal politics of 1990s. The largest of Indian states, Uttar Pradesh, witnessed a BSP rule more than once. Even BJP started to project OBC Kalyan Singh , Uma Bharati etc. Later, against expectations that ‘Brahmanical’ Advani, Jaitley , or Sushma may become the PM, an OBC Modi was projected. And it was RSS that preferred him. He is the first PM who openly campaigned he is from  OBC. Most of the regional bosses, as they are called, are non-Brahmin. But all this is only a question of social composition, often highlighted in the media, and the academia,  but not class content of the powers that be, which is omitted by analysts who have their own agendas.

But it is more than a question of social composition. It is imperialism, MNCs, big business houses, big contractors etc that are wielding real power, political as well as economic, and looting all resources. It is the big landlords and the neo-rich rural bosses           (most of whom are now BCs, OBCs by birth) who are big share-holders in this plunder. It is these classes and forces that are really controlling the police, judiciary, academia, media etc. Covering this up, it is projected in terms of  social composition, and that also in a distorted manner. The powers that be have been seeking to further expand their social base by Mandalization, a camouflage which was used by them to crush rural poor, including dalits and adivasis, deploying armed hordes called Senas, aided and abetted by the state agencies. Almost 30 years after mandalization, 90 percent of the BC population remain poor and backward, while a new elite class has been created out of them. Same is the case with SCs despite all reservations. It is these new elite that stress ‘social’, an euphemism for casteism, to the exclusion of class. It is these sections who seek to cover up class, play divisive and diversionary politics, and instead play up ‘identity trash’, an apt word coined by renowned scholar Anand Teltumbde, a rural dalit by birth.

Even Sangh pariwar-led NDA went beyond their alleged Brahmin-Bania schema, by accommodating even BSP, LJP and RPI, and even Christian ministers; why, it is they who claim to have promoted a Muslim and a Dalit as Presidents of India! By further divisions, they created categories of ati-sudras and MBCs, which tactic  helped them to grab power in UP which they could not win for almost 25 years after, and in spite of , demolition of Babri Masjid.  It is to be noted that even a DCCI , Dalit Chamber of Commerce of India, has been floated and is being accommodated by the big business as well as the Indian state. All this is meant NOT to uplift the downtrodden as it is projected, but to expand and stabilize the social base  of a loot and plunder system, global in character.

“ How come a microscopic minority occupy India’s huge resources. Isn’t it true that Savarnas led by the brahmins have got access to disproportionate assets and resources. We all know that this microscopic minority is not really over 2% and yet it control every aspect of our life. Shouldn’t it worry all of us. 98% of India’s population suffers at the hands of a microscopic minority and yet they are trying to portray themselves as victims. Isnt it shameful?” asks Rawat.

Is it a case of savarnas topping the table? Fact of the matter is : It is the above classes and forces that are concentrating all power, all wealth. Why 98 per cent? He forgets that in US there has been a mass movement of 1:99, sought to be buried now under a Clinton-Trump clash. So is the case in much of developed West. This pauperization and polarization got aggravated all over the world – East or West, North or South – thanks to the neo-liberal policies imposed by imperialist west through IMF, World Bank etc. No Brahminical forces were there obviously beyond India. Even in India, it is not Brahminical forces who are calling the shots. At best ‘Brahminical forces’, not merely Brahmins, as Rawat clarifies, are no more than “gatekeepers” of these globalized plundering classes. They are in fact  the comprador classes serving imperialists. VB Rawat, like many of his ilk, fails to see all these glaring phenomena.

 

Is it as visualized by Ambedkar?

Smash patriarchy , yes,  “But the problem is how ?” Rawat asked and said: “My answer to this is to follow Dr Ambedkar’s alternative.” And to see “as Baba Saheb Ambedkar had visualized”.  But did he indeed see as Ambedkar had visualized ?

One may or may not agree with Ambedkar’s approach or alternative . But a valid question can be raised: Are the statements made by Rawat , or similar ones made by many others, in tune with Ambedkar’s approach?

It is not mere brahmins but all those who believe in varnashram dharma, Rawat says in a tone that is more objective and not narrow, but asserts “ varnashram dharma (of ) which the brahmins are the founders and torch bearer.” “Caste system is the biggest crime imposed on people of India.” These lines are from his article of November 21. The next day he again asserted: “ The system was definitely invented by them. It was a unique invention which made India unique country the world.” And he linked it all to what he saw as ‘Brahmanical’ patriarchy though patriarchy is much more universal, going beyond caste, religion and and country.

While saying “My answer to this is the follow Dr Ambedkar’s alternative” Rawat asserted that “ the Bahujan masses were maltreated and looked down upon by the caste structures created by Manu…” (November 22) . These are all by now commonplace assertions made by many writers. This is not the first or last time such assertions are made. Rawat is neither the first nor the last to say so. One is free to make such assertions. But to ascribe it to Ambedkar is debatable if not questionable.

Who invented or created this patriarchy, Brahminical or otherwise, that is much beyond India and Hindus?

Rawat rightly pointed out : “ We follow individual leaders’ castes and not really their ideas. Nehru was an atheist but he was always referred as Pandit Nehru and brahmins felt proud of him.” The same thing applies to Ambedkarites, most of them ignoring, knowingly or unknowingly, what Ambedkar had actually said. Herein lies one of the sources of the controversy. We shall now briefly examine this aspect. And it should help a scientific view of the question.

 Castes In India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development, was a Paper BR Ambedkar presented on 9th May 1916 at an Anthropology Seminar at Columbia University. That was one of his earliest significant works, a scholarly work, written by the scholar when he was 25, long before he became a politician. In fact , he was totally reluctant to be a politician at the time despite pleadings by some leaders of the freedom movement. This was regarded as an important and thorough, though brief, Thesis of 47 paras. Some of the most quoted, cited even in recent past, ideas and lines of Ambedkar are from this thesis .

Ambedkar himself published his famous work, Annihilation of Caste, in 1936, and its third edition in 1944, in which he included this Thesis of 1916. He did not, in this edition, modify his earlier views, stated in the Thesis. That means he was basically upholding it, even subsequently. While reviewing some ideas on caste till then prevalent, in the Thesis, he comes to some definite ideas . Ambedkar concludes his Thesis with the following lines indicating his scientific method, his conviction, and open-mindedness as an young scholar:

“The primary object of the paper is to indicate what I regard to be the right path of investigation, with a view to arrive at a serviceable truth. We must, however, guard against approaching the subject with a bias. Sentiment must be outlawed from the domain of science and things should be judged from an objective standpoint.”

Views that are basically different from Ambedkar’s ideas stated in this Paper are often spread by many as his own ideas. Many are ignorant about those views, understandably , given lack of proper education and study. They rely on Ambedkar as relayed and interpreted by others. Many of the Ambedkarites often wallow in populist, vulgar and vulgarized depiction of social phenomena, if only as part of debased vote-bank politics. And they are not based on facts of history or society. They harp more on sentiment than on sensible treatment. Then there are scholars and academics, including the non-serious and the lazy, who seek to push their own perspectives, with or without definite agendas . They are free to do so. But why do they invoke Ambedkar to push their own wares?

“The two questions of spread and of origin of caste are not separated”, Ambedkar says : “ This is because of the common belief among scholars that the caste system has either been imposed upon the docile population of India by a law-giver as a divine dispensation, or that it has grown according to some law of social growth peculiar to the Indian people.”

As is well-known, On 25 December 1927, the book of Manusmriti was publicly burnt with sandalwood by Ambedkar and his colleagues. In the pandal, it was reported, there was only one photo, and that was of Gandhiji. It was connected with Mahad Satyagraha of 19-20 March 1927, asserting the rights of dalits to use common waterbodies; Chavdar Tank of Mahad town was chosen for the agitation. The burning of Manusmriti was also in Mahad , as a sequel to the previous struggle. It was obviously a symbolic act , a protest, but was really  part of an earthly struggle for drinking water. However, his views on Manu and related issues were scientific, based on history, rather than sentiments. This was how, in his 1916 Paper, he dealt with the “ghost” of Manu (para  numbers of the Thesis are given in brackets):

“[34] I first propose to handle the law-giver of India. Every country has its law-giver, who arises as an incarnation (avatar) in times of emergency to set right a sinning humanity and give it the laws of justice and morality. Manu, the law-giver of India, if he did exist, was certainly an audacious person. If the story that he gave the law of caste be credited, then Manu must have been a dare-devil fellow….. It is unimaginable that the law of caste was given. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that Manu could not have outlived his law, for what is that class that can submit to be degraded to the status of brutes by the pen of a man, and suffer him to raise another class to the pinnacle? …..I may seem hard on Manu, but I am sure my force is not strong enough to kill his ghost. He lives like a disembodied spirit and is appealed to, and I am afraid will yet live long….”

“ One thing I want to impress upon you is that Manu did not give the law of Caste and that he could not do so. Caste existed long before Manu. He was an upholder of it and therefore philosophised about it, but certainly he did not and could not ordain the present order of Hindu Society. His work ended with the codification of existing caste rules and the preaching of Caste Dharma.”

Then Ambedkar goes on to say the same about the role of Brahmins:

“ The spread and growth of the Caste system is too gigantic a task to be achieved by the power or cunning of an individual or of a class. Similar in argument is the theory that the Brahmins created the Caste. After what I have said regarding Manu, I need hardly say anything more, except to point out that it is incorrect in thought and malicious in intent. The Brahmins may have been guilty of many things, and I dare say they were, but the imposing of the caste system on the non-Brahmin population was beyond their mettle. They may have helped the process by their glib philosophy, but they certainly could not have pushed their scheme beyond their own confines. To fashion society after one’s own pattern! How glorious! How hard!”

To oppose Manuvad, whatever it may mean today, or to fight Manuvadis, whoever may claim to be so, is one thing. It is altogether different to say Manu, ( if he did exist, as Ambedkar says) gave the law of Caste. Or to say that Brahmins created the caste and imposed the caste system. And it is absurd discussing by extending it all to patriarchy.

The above are lines from his Thesis of 1916. But even after a century, our Ambedkarites, including scholars as well as activists not to speak of politicians, still harp on unscientific arguments. It is an important aspect dealing with the origins of caste that has a bearing on the search for a solution. When “it is incorrect in thought and malicious in intent”, to harp on the same is going to be fruitless, to say the least. In fact, it may be counter-productive too. That is what Farooque  Chowdhury  was hinting at.

One may still cling to these arguments, if they wish, but better they do it on their own, without invoking Ambedkar. If they do so, it will be deemed as a brazen mis-reading and mis-interpretation of Ambedkar, unless they explain their rationale.

While refuting the theories of origin of caste as above, which said caste was created and imposed by some communities or persons, Ambedkar gave an inkling of his mind thus:

“[47] ……Such attempts at reform, however, have aroused a great deal of controversy regarding its origin, as to whether it is due to the conscious command of a Supreme Authority, or is an unconscious growth in the life of a human society under peculiar circumstances. Those who hold the latter view will, I hope, find some food for thought in the standpoint adopted in this paper.” He also put it this way: “it has grown according to some law of social growth peculiar to the Indian people.”

The fact that caste is seen beyond Hindus, beyond ‘brahmanism’ and beyond today’s India can be understood by this observation by Ambedkar.   

There have been endless academic and political discussions on these things. But irrespective of these theories, it is pertinent to point out what Ambedkar said about Manu : “ but certainly he did not and could not ordain the present order of Hindu Society.” He clarifies : Manu’s “ work ended with the codification of existing caste rules and the preaching of Caste Dharma.”

 

Though not VB Rawat, many others, more so sections of Ambedkarites from South India, have been linking caste to race, in terms of Arya versus Dravida, Brahmins being allegedly Aryans. This is yet another divisive and diversionary pet theme. It will be useful to note Ambedkar’s views on this issue, stated in the same Thesis, even if we are not presently  going into that:

“46)…… But nothing can be farther from the truth, and Dr. Ketkar is correct when he insists that “All the princes whether they belonged to the so-called Aryan race, or the so-called Dravidian race, were Aryas. Whether a tribe or a family was racially Aryan or Dravidian was a question which never troubled the people of India, until foreign scholars came in and began to draw the line. The colour of the skin had long ceased to be a matter of importance” (History of Caste, p. 82). Again, they have mistaken mere descriptions for explanation and fought over them as though they were theories of origin. There are occupational, religious etc., castes, it is true, but it is by no means an explanation of the origin of Caste.”

The above discussion is important because when we see origin of caste , rather causation of caste, in a wrong way, we cannot hope to reach a correct goal. It will vitiate and nullify efforts to counter casteism and / or patriarchy. There will be division and diversion, rather than unified focus on the goals. It is not a question that is merely academic. That is why Ambedkar in his Thesis insisted on “ the right path of investigation, with a view to arrive at a serviceable truth.”

Farooque Chowdhury hints at

“organized effort to divide the exploited masses”

It is in this background that the questions raised by Farooque Chowdhury , in comments made, and repeated on November 23, 2018, are very pertinent. Let us ponder over his questions:

“ However, I am still searching answers to the questions, mentioned below, I raised regarding your last article:
(1) Is patriarchy only Brahmanical?
(2) Is it, patriarchy, absent among other parts/sects/castes/creeds in society(ies)?
(3) What about those, if patriarchy is also found in those “holy” sects, etc.s?
(4) What’s the root of this — patriarchy?
(5) What’s the reason for targeting a single community?
(6) Are the rest also nourishing patriarchy holy souls?
(7) Shall not targeting a particular community, instead of the root, instigate hatred? And, if that — hatred — happens, is there any possibility of identifying you as a hatred-monger?
(8) At the same time, shall not your method bolster forces nourishing patriarchy among other sects/castes/creeds?

I am also mentioning the questions I raised following one of your observations made in your last article — “Caste system is the biggest crime imposed on people of India” —
(1) Is it — the claim you have made related to the caste system — factual?
(2) What about the communal division, which is called, broadly, communalism?
(3) What about exploitation, the exploitative system, the exploitative property relations, the relations many ideologies/philosophies/politics/rights advocates avoid or hide or don’t discuss?”

It is very important to note the rationale of his questions . See what Farooque Chowdhury wrote :

“ I am trying to repeatedly raise these questions as there is an organized effort to divide the exploited masses in the name of color, region, etc. This is being done to further exploiters’/imperialist interest. Ultimately, it’s the working people, the masses of the exploited that are paying the price for this divisive politics. The politics is creating fratricide among the working people, which is benefiting the exploiters. Should not this divisive politics be resisted? Should any person claiming to be standing for people join this practice with divisive politics?”

Farooque Chowdhury pointedly raises the questions :

“Is patriarchy only Brahmanical? What’s the reason for targeting a single community? Shall not targeting a particular community, instead of the root, instigate hatred?”

In seeking answers to these questions , Ambedkar’s Thesis is helpful. For Ambedkar in his Thesis insisted on “ the right path of investigation, with a view to arrive at a serviceable truth.” Instead of divisive and diversionary politics, uniting people against oppressive systems, and not to instigate hatred, is, for instance, a serviceable truth.

Farooque Chowdhury’s questions are valid if seen from this perspective. Those seeking to fight casteism are expected not to indulge in casteism themselves. Anti-caste movements and anti-Brahmin movements cannot go together if they have to be purposive or result-oriented. Proponents of abolition of casteism should not give scope to caste hatreds against any one or more castes.

It is not as if it is all hypothetical . Rawat himself mentioned :

“ A friend wrote that why should the Dalit OBC’s break the caste. It is the brahmins who created and hence they should annihilate the caste. He meant that annihilation of caste slogan was not meant for the Dalits and OBCs but for the brahmins. The problem with such jumlebaazi is that they take us nowhere. They ask all of us to continue behaving in casteist way and ultimately take escape in blaming the brahmins all the time.”

Tamilnadu that indulged in and led anti-Brahmin movements in the name of self-respect is today notorious for dalit oppression, and even for ‘honor-killings’ , being indulged by communities ( for instance vanniars) that claimed to fight for self-respect. In these modern times , for various socio-economic-historic reasons, Brahmins as a group are no more at the head of this caste oppression, as noted by many scholars and observers. It is the neo-rich, neo-landlords among OBC communities that have been at the head of dalit oppression. From Keezhvenmani- Karamchedu-Chundur – Laxmipet- to Khairlanji , the assailants were nowhere Brahmins . All these are places south of Vindhyas. And in the North also it is the same case. In places like Bihar, they had formed armed gangs, Ranvir Sena, Kurmi Sena, Lorik Sena etc , to massacre dalit poor. All this is because of changes in the old feudal system leading to the creation of semi-feudalism and neo-landlordism nurtured and beefed up by the State. What was projected as Land Reforms were more re-form of Landlordism, i.e., in form.

Even if he does not analyse why , VB Rawat acknowledges this : “ The caste-based killing will continue. It is not merely brahmins but the Thakurs, bhumihars, Yadavas, Reddy’s, Thevars, Jats, Gujjars every one will act and kill to innocent couples as long as they challenge their caste structure.” And added : “ because much of the violence unleashed on Dalits today are OBCs and that is why Baba Saheb Ambedkar called them gatekeepers of brahmanism. All this is brahmanism and yet those who do it cant always take shelter by abusing the brahmanism while remaining a part of it.” What Rawat sees here is in fact beyond the social realm and is part of the larger power equations.

Alternative in Buddhism?

However, the solutions given by Ambedkarites proved to be failures. Among the solutions are ideological like going in for Buddhism, and political, swearing by the Constitution. Let us consider them:

VB Rawat wrote:“Brahmanical Patriarchy need to be smashed but the problem is how.  My answer to this is to follow Dr Ambedkar’s alternative in Buddhism which is basically humanism.” Buddhism is the answer, say many others too, including some Leftists. It is inobjective and they fail to see realities. Myanmar with 87 % Buddhist population is crushing Rohingyas. And there is no protest from Buddhists.

Closer home, Srilanka with 70 % Buddhist population and under the sway of Buddhist rulers was ruthless in countering its Tamil insurgency. “ Sri Lanka’s security forces are still raping and torturing suspects. There have been recent allegations that rape and torture by the Sri Lankan security forces have continued four years after the civil war ended.” Even in civilian social mores it is equally bad. It figures in the Top 10 Countries With Highest Rape Crime. See this :

“96.5% of the men who had raped experienced no legal consequences. 65.8% didn’t feel worried or guilty afterwards. 64.9% of rapists had raped more than once, and 11.1% had raped four or more girls or women. That’s why the country has highest suicide rates in the world.”

(https://www.wonderslist.com/top-10-countries-with-maximum-rape-crimes/)

Japan with its militarism, ruled for long by those with Buddhist past, and with a huge Buddhist population, was notoriously in the fascist camp during World War II and massacred more than 20 million people by deploying millions of troops. Tibet’s Dalai Lamas were inhuman and cruel slave-owners for centuries until they were overthrown by revolution. While one is free to choose one’s religion, it has little to do with political and State policies. States often invoked religions for their misdeeds, and religions allowed themselves to be. (Even in ‘secular’ Europe, states led by Christian Democratic parties indulged in worst wars.)

Even in social mores and gender parity, Japan lags behind very much. Japan, with a predominant influence of Buddhism and with a highly developed industrial economy, ranks low in gender justice. See this Report of 2013 titled   Japan Values Women Less:

Despite anti-discrimination laws and a steadily growing number of employed women, Japan is falling behind the rest of the world on gender equality. Widespread discrimination persists, and has only grown more subtle over the past years. Japan is one of the world’s most industrialised countries but has always kept true to its old traditions. In the same way, traditional gender roles have always been a source of inequality in the world’s third largest economy. According to the United Nations Development Programme, Japan has consistently ranked as the most unequal of the world’s richest countries.

And the gap seems to be widening: last October the World Economic Forum’s annual report on gender gaps downgraded Japan’s rank from 99 to 101, alongside Tajikistan and Gambia in terms of political and social equality.”

(http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/01/japan-values-women-less-as-it-needs-them-more/)

 

Japan has its own Sabarimala

We have seen above the situation in Japan about rapes and Me Too movement. Now see this japantoday.com Report of Dec. 25, 2014 titled : 4 things women are banned from doing in Japan :

“Women have been prohibited from doing certain things (entering places, using facilities, etc.) for as long as civilization has existed. Restrictions are still common, albeit usually in religious contexts only. While religions themselves evolve and change with the times and bans are lifted, it doesn’t mean all of them get an update.

As women, we all know the purported reasons behind these bans: women are “impure” because we menstruate (the same impure biological process that allows us to give life to men), we are the physically weaker sex, and we distract men with our beauty. Yada, yada, yada.

“ Today, we take a look at four things women are still not allowed to do in Japan. I’ve divided them into bans and semi-bans. Bans allow no women; semi-bans allow women – but only sometimes.

“ Of course, it’s high time these restrictions were lifted. While much headway has been made in the past, such as the lifting of the rule preventing women from climbing Mount Fuji, other bans are proving more stubborn despite protests by Japanese women’s groups. Will these restrictions be lifted anytime soon? Only the Japanese people can decide.

“1. Ban: Climbing to the top of Mount Omine

Reason: Women are a “distraction”

If you’ve ever dreamed of climbing Mount Omine in Nara Prefecture (officially known as Mt. Sanjo) – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the 100 most famous mountains in Japan – we hope you’re not a woman. You might be surprised to learn that UNESCO doesn’t take gender into consideration when awarding World Heritage status, but heritage sites that ban the entire female race can be found in Myanmar, India, and Greece as well as Japan.

(https://japantoday.com/category/features/lifestyle/4-things-women-are-banned-from-doing-in-japan)

Neither Buddhism nor ‘development’ changed this situation in Japan.

There is no point in singling out and blaming Brahminism or Hindutva. Reactionary ideas are universal and need to be fought on a global scale.

 

Constitution is no panacea

Casteism , even untouchability and other caste atrocities, continue in a brazen manner 70 years after 1947 Transfer of Power. Some of them, including Rawat elsewhere , say the present “Constitution alone” will come to our rescue. They fail to see that all these heinous crimes happen despite our Constitution, and despite claiming rule of law. Despite the maxim ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ , it took 3-4 decades for the cases of apparent caste atrocities (Keezhvenmani, Karamchedu etc) to be settled in Courts, often most of the culprits going almost scot free; some cases are not yet finally sealed, while the criminals are moving about with impunity. Despite bitter experiences of 70 years, Ambedkarites are not tired of glorifying the Constitution and relying on it.

See what Ambedkar himself says of Constitutions in general :

“ [17:] That the makers of political constitutions must take account of social forces is a fact which is recognized by no less a person than Ferdinand Lassalle, the friend and co-worker of Karl Marx. In addressing a Prussian audience in 1862, Lassalle said:

“ The constitutional questions are in the first instance not questions of right but questions of might. The actual constitution of a country has its existence only in the actual condition of force which exists in the country: hence political constitutions have value and permanence only when they accurately express those conditions of forces which exist in practice within a society.

“ But it is not necessary to go to Prussia.” says Ambedkar , hinting at India itself. (Annihilation of Caste)

In fact social mores cannot be decided by any document, past or present. They metamorphose, change, with times, as a result of complex socio-economic phenomena at work. If only documents can change or decide social mores, the Constitution should have changed all this in the 68 years it has been in vogue. It has failed to do so. It is violated, daily and hourly, with impunity. It only indulges in some preachings or platitudes.

***       ***

There is no point in indulging in anti-Brahmanism, or against any one caste or religion. Patriarchy and Casteism are cancers afflicting people across caste spectrum, including OBCs, MBCs and dalits , who often do not dine with or marry those sub-castes that are deemed ‘lower’ in caste hierarchy. That being so Farooque Chowdhury’s questions need to be pondered over.

Ambedkar himself had worked with Brahmins all his life : his schooling was aided by a Brahmin teacher. Ambedkar’s episode of burning Manusmriti was ceremoniously at the hands of Sahasrabuddhe, the Brahmin friend of Dr. Ambedkar. He worked with a bunch of Brahmin scholars in drafting the Constitution, and he was all praise for their scholarship and liberal values. And he was nursed by a Brahmin-born, doctor-wife in his last days.

There is no point in creating hatred. Brahmin-bashing today on the basis of a dubious theory of origin of caste is pointless, even counter-productive, as Ambedkar said : “ The Brahmins may have been guilty of many things, and I dare say they were, but the imposing of the caste system on the non-Brahmin population was beyond their mettle.” In fact he even said : “ I need hardly say anything more, except to point out that it is incorrect in thought and malicious in intent.”

Farooque Chowdhury’s questions are valid for this reason. He wrote : “ And, if that – hatred-happens, is there any possibility of identifying you as a hatred-monger?”

VB Rawat himself, even with his mistaken argument, was guarded, was conscious, of this to an extent. He wrote:

“A friend wrote that why should the Dalit OBC’s break the caste. It is the brahmins who created and hence they should annihilate the caste. He meant that annihilation of caste slogan was not meant for the Dalits and OBCs but for the brahmins. The problem with such jumlebaazi is that they take us nowhere. They ask all of us to continue behaving in casteist way and ultimately take escape in blaming the brahmins all the time…”

He also wrote : “ A Thakur, a Bania, a Yadav or Kayastha, a Bhumihar or any one else could be a person of brahmanical patriarchy who carry the hatred and contempt for woman.”

Rawat, with all his views, tries to avoid being a hatred-monger when he says : “ The meaning of brahmanical sysem is those who believe in supremacy and sanctity of caste and its hierarchies. Many of the enlightened whose parents might have been brahmins but they smashed it. We cant ignore the great work of Rahul Sankrityayan as well as M N Roy in this regard, both born as brahmins yet exposed brahmanism completely.”

***   ***

“A twenty first century India must get out of this heinous and criminal caste system. It must be abolished if India want to remain united and civilised where each one live with Equality, Liberty and Fraternity as Baba Saheb Ambedkar had visualised, then it must follow humanist path shown by him and reject the old caste order.” These were the concluding lines by Rawat. The goal is unexceptionable, but the path is arduous. Like many he bets on the Constitution.

The present Constitution, formally upheld by the present Indian State and backed by a formidable state apparatus including police and judiciary, is unable to, rather is disinclined to, implement the egalitarian values it mouths. It is more a dubious statement of ideals or goals, than a document that can ordain the present order . The Indian state is not serious about its egalitarian values, which are in fact meant to befool the gullible. If one studies its colonial roots, and neo-colonial intents, things become clear.

(See KS Sharma : Indian Constitution Unriddled : Search For Sources

https://countercurrents.org/2017/01/24/indian-constitution-unriddled-search-for-sources/)

Whatever useful or progressive provisions are there in it, without relying on them, people need to fight for their implementation. Not that it is an ideal document which is not being implemented. It has many draconian and undemocratic provisions too that must be fought. Indira Gandhi’s Emergency and all Preventive detention laws, for instance, are very much constitutional. Even the politics of cow have a basis in its Directive Principles.  Neither Manu Smriti nor the present Constitution can decide or change what is going on. They can only suggest or preach.

“The constitutional questions are in the first instance not questions of right but questions of might,”  as quoted by Ambedkar. People have to fight, resist, and display their might. They should not keep themselves at the mercy of a State of the exploiting classes who are controlling all its agencies including police and judiciary.  

See what Ambedkar says about this: Referring to those who upheld varna system claiming its basis in ancient sastras, and refuting the same he emphatically says:                     “ Preaching did not make the caste system; neither will it unmake it. My aim is to show the falsity of the attitude that has exalted religious sanction to the position of a scientific explanation.”

The present Constitution is only a dubious codification of some goals, it is mere preaching. That cannot undo the caste system, nor patriarchy. It does not even have any serious intention to do so. Practice of the last 70 years confirms the same. It is only the conscious and determined struggles waged by people that forced the Indian state to implement to whatever extent it did.

The Indian Constitution, they say, is the new Sastra, the new Bhagavat Gita. It bans untouchability, as also several other evil practices, prescribes punishments too, but to no avail. It was preceded by centuries of preaching by social reformers from Basava to those of medieval era, from Phule, Narayana Guru and Periyar to the latest Guru, of the modern era. Preachings not only by social reformers but also political reformers of modern times from Gandhi to the latest leader proved to be futile.  And now came this new manu-dharma , as it was described in Constitutional debates,  in the form of the Indian Constitution. 66 years after it was proclaimed and invoked, and despite so many laws and rules, all these reforms and all these preachings could not and did not eliminate caste discrimination , not to speak of eradicating casteism. Thus Ambedkar, the scholar, in this Paper of 1916, pointedly and in a clear-headed manner proclaims : Preaching did not make the caste system; neither will it unmake it.

The Manu Smriti does not and cannot decide even how RSS functions today. The Sangh pariwar does not go by it on dotted lines. As a small opposition party, it could openly indulge in reactionary politics. Now that they are in power almost on their own, for the first time, they improvise combining Manu and Machiavelli. They are no more a Brahmin-Bania party as alleged by some who do not see facts and are living in the past. They are  thoroughly Congressized, even as Congress plays soft Hindutva. This is advaita of Indian politics today. It is tied to the US, and sells development. It mouths nationalism and patriotism while practising chauvinism and jingoism. It appropriates Ambedkar, Gandhi, Patel, Subhash Bose and Bhagat Singh. Advani hailed Jinna and Modi hailed even Nehru. They backed a Muslim and now a dalit as Presidents. It supped with Christian-based parties in Northeast.  From Kerala and Northeast, they have beef-eating allies. It allied with BSP, RPI, LJP etc. It supports reservations, even in private sector. It is simplistic and against facts to think otherwise. The RSS Chief recently explained in an elaborate manner how they are changing. He explained the stand on Muslims and Dalits too. They know they can’t serve the neo-liberal system of exploitation, as junior partners of imperialism, ruling a diverse country like India, with their old tools. Theirs is an orchestra with many tunes, Hindutva being only one of them. They were ready to cheat even Sri Rama without fulfilling their promise of Ayodhya.   They waited for more than 25 years despite their governments in UP, and twice at the Centre. Sangh pariwar is a thorough-bred political animal. Not merely Manu, but Chanakya and Machiavelli guide them. And Mc Carthy too.

“ So long as Manu’s statue stand inside a High Court premises and lawyers fight for its installation there without feeling shameful, we feel that this brahmanical system is there,” writes Rawat.

We have few statues of Manu in India. We don’t need them too, except in museums. And we have Ambedkar’s statues everywhere, all over India, most of them erected by the very State that upholds and protects a most oppressive and exploitative system in the world. There has been a competitive politics of statues. It is only to befool the people. The ruling classes wish Ambedkar with his BOOK in his hands protects their system. They desire people follow the path his statues  prescribe with index finger.

As Binu Mathew, the editor of countercurrents.org said in his latest interview, of November 21, 2018 : “ But that may need a systemic overhaul. French revolution changed the way the world works. We need another World Revolution that tips the scale in favour of people. I would like this revolution to be nonviolent. I say we need a WORLD REVOLUTION, NOW!”  Nothing short would work.

Ambedkar was very much conscious of the nature of the Constitution as indicated by the following celebrated statement made in the House on November 25, 1949, just before the Final Draft was to be adopted, as he reveals and reminds:

“ On 26th January 1950 we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality, and in economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote, and one vote one value. In our social and economic life we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man and one value. ….we must remove this contradiction at the earliest moment or else those who suffer with inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up.”

And the contradictions are more acute than ever. It was 66 years ago he said it but the day never arrived.

( All emphases added. )

(The author is a political observer)

 

2 Comments

  1. Farooque Chowdhury says:

    Thanks, Mr. Ramakrishnan, for your nice work. You have labored a lot for this nice article. Your article is very good. It helps understand the issue.

    Thanks for finding that through my comments I “raised important questions”.

    I agree with you as you write: “There is patriarchy among people of all religions and among irreligious too, not only in India but across the world. There is caste and casteism too across religions in India and in South Asia and beyond.”

    I agree with you as you write: “As part of universal values, most of us want casteism and patriarchy smashed, Brahmanical or otherwise, irrespective of religion or country, all will agree, it is hoped.”

    You have rightly questioned: “Shall we differentiate OBC patriarchy, SC patriarchy, … etc? The fact of the matter is : this is irrespective of one’s caste and religion, acquired by birth or by conversion. The women of oppressed classes and communities are known to be hard workers, with a good role in social production, but still they are also victims of patriarchal oppression.”

    Thanks for findings the questions I raised as valid and pertinent.

    Thanks for finding: “Though goals are apparently same or similar, approaches are different. It may help if we review these ideas a little more closely, even if it involves a little bit of repetition.”

    Please, continue the debate and discussion on the issue as these will enrich us, the readers.

  2. Pingback: News Letter – Countercurrents – DE LA GRANDE VADROUILLE A LA LONGUE MARGE

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