Caste Census is a Weapon against Hindutva Fascism and a Facilitator of Democratisation

caste census in india

As Modi is set to inaugurate the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on 22 January 2024, it will be quite unprecedented in parliamentary democracy. According to the Constitution of India which upholds secularism as one of the core principles, State and religion should be separate where religious beliefs and practices are dealt with as private affairs of the citizens.  The 42nd Constitution Amendment Act of 1976 that declared India as a secular country without any state religion, also accepted all religions without favouring any particular religion. In 1994, in the S R Bommai case, the Supreme Court of India had asserted that India was secular since the formation of the Republic.  However, today under the regime of BJP, the political tool of RSS whose ultimate aim is the establishment of a majoritarian theocratic Hindurashtra, when the entire Indian state machinery led by the prime minister is directly involved in the construction and consecration of Ram Temple, it is the very secular character of the Indian Constitution that is being undermined. Revealingly, the RSS which was vehemently opposed to State control over temples, now has no objection on the State-sponsorship of Ram Temple since the Modi government has identified itself with the Hindu religion.

Though the Indian state has not yet become Hindurashtra in the formal sense, in the de-facto sense and for all practical purposes, the Modi government has been acting as if it is a Hindu nation, as proposed by Savarkar and Golwalkar, the proponents of Hindutva or political Hinduism, almost a century ago.  The background for this has been systematically prepared by almost four decades of steady Saffron offensive marked by such milestones as Ram Janmabhoomi movement since the 1980s, conducting of Shilanyas at the disputed site on 9 November 1989, demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, Gogoi bench of Supreme Court on 9 November 2019 allocating the very site of Babri Masjid to the Ram Mandir Trust, Modi’s announcement in Parliament on 5 February 2020 the plan to construct Ram Temple , and finally, Modi himself performing Bhoomi Pujan and laying the foundation stone of Ram Temple on 5 August  2020, exactly one year after the abrogation of Article 370 revoking special status of J&K.  Now with the inauguration of Ram temple in Ayodhya on 22 January again by Modi as prime minister of India, the merger between Indian State and Hindu religion has reached a stage making India’s Constitutional provision on secularism itself a misnomer.    

And, as the Temple consecration is scheduled on 22 January, Hindutva fascist forces have started to flare up maximum communal passions against minorities, especially Muslims, as part of their majoritarian polarisation. A national executive member of RSS has urged Muslims to chant and recite “Shri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram” at Mosques, Dargahs, and Madrassas during the time of Ram temple consecration ceremony in Ayodhya. Reminiscent of his appeal to fight Covid Pandemic by ‘lighting candles’ on 5 April 2020, Modi also has appealed to every Indian to light a ‘diya’ (Ramjyoti) in their homes to mark temple consecration on 22 January. The BJP has already declared a no holds barred temple-based General Election campaign with effect from January 14. Claiming that the world is awaiting temple consecration, and asserting that “no stone would be left unturned to develop the holy place”, Modi has launched 46 projects estimated at Rs. 15700 crore for developing entire  Ayodhya surrounding  the Temple (which is constructed at a cost of Rs. 18000 crore) along with inauguration of Valmiki International Airport and revamping Ayodhya Dham Junction Railway Station. To cap it all, including a series of Vande Bharat trains, doubling and electrification of many rail lines and high-way construction, all with Ayodhya as their destination, are also in full swing. And, of course, along with Sangh Parivar leaders, many prominent Sanghi celebrities from the Bollywood and Godimedia are also flocking to Ayodhya on January 22.

As the entire central government institutions including even judiciary, which already being oriented to Hindutva, together with the whole corporate-saffron media are centred around Ram Temple, now the atmosphere is effectively used to camouflage the stark reality of the country today. While almost three quarters of the wealth in India is gobbled up by just one percent of the top super-rich and corporate capitalists led by Adani-Ambani like billionaires on the one hand, India has become the “citadel of global poverty, being home to more than half (around 25 crore) of the world’s “extreme” or “absolute poor” on the other. While corporate tax rates in India, one among countries with highest inequality, is the lowest in the world, the whole tax burden through such neoliberal, pro-corporate tax regime as GST is borne by common people, even as the country’ s real resources including land and natural resources, agriculture, industry and service sectors are handed over to the most corrupt corporate giants. While job-oriented productive sectors of the economy are collapsing, speculative and money-spinning spheres are galloping adding to the coffers of the super-rich. Unemployment, price-rise of most essential items of sustenance, hunger, destitution, infant mortality, morbidity, landlessness, lack of housing, ill-health and above all ecological problems are widespread.  According to ‘multi-dimensional poverty index’, as measured by international agencies, more than half of Indian population is poor an aspect covered up by doctored official statistics.

Now, as the General Election is near, the RSS-BJP has side-tracked these crucial issues of the country at one stroke by bringing the Ram Temple in to the centre-stage of current Indian politics through unbridled propaganda blitzkrieg around it. But more important is RSS’ long-term and strategic interest of establishing a Hindurashtra of which Ram Temple has been made the core symbol. And ever since the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, “construction of a magnificent Shri Ram Mandir at Janmasthan in Ayodhya” as “a tribute to Bharat Mata” has always been there in RSS-BJP agenda which it repeated in the successive elections. And to boost the Islamophobic and anti-Islam orientation of the whole process further, steps have already been initiated to implement the CAA, which is biased against Muslims and facilitates citizenship to six non-Muslim communities from three neighbouring countries.  Other moves such as Uniform Civil Code specifically targeting Muslims are also in the pipeline. And in his public speeches, Modi goes on attacking opposition parties for hurting the religious sentiments of people by considering “temples and festivals as platforms for exploitation”.  

However, the immediate factor that propels the planned and well-oiled state-sponsored Ram Temple campaign is the RSS-BJP’s conscious effort to divert the whole attention of the vast majority of the oppressed lower castes from ‘Caste Census’ altogether as, if implemented, it will break-up the Hindu bandwagon and imparts a heavy blows to the India’s upper-caste elite class. Modi government’s earnest efforts to enforce 10 percent economic reservation (EWS) solely for the upper-castes through the 103rd Constitutional Amendment had already shaken the BJP vote-banks among the lower castes. In this context, the RSS with its ideological basis in Manusmriti that treats all those who are outside the Brahmanical and elite upper castes as subhuman, very-well know the potential threat from a Caste Census. Obviously, the minority upper caste Hindutva leaders are afraid of a caste census as it will not only expose the concentration of wealth and top bureaucratic posts held by the elite castes, but also the economic, educational and social privileges enjoyed by them. And, the RSS-BJP, being well-aware of the pan-Indian repercussions of a Caste Census, fully knows that it will create more hurdles in its Hindutva majoritarian polarization through integration of the oppressed lower castes into the Hindutva-fold.  

At this critical juncture, though the Congress and other parties in the India Alliance, on account of their soft-Hindutva approach, have themselves exposed their inability to properly understand the caste-linked Achilles heel of the Hindutva or Hindurashtra project, it is up to the vast majority of toiling and oppressed people of India and their political leadership, who fully know the political significance of Caste Census in caste-ridden Indian society to come forward demanding the Modi government to go for an all India Caste Census.  While the fascist forces who are utilizing all options for a majoritarian Hindutva polarization argue that Caste Census is against social harmony as it exacerbates “savarna-avarna” (forward-backward) division and divides Hindu society, democratic forces have to assert that as long as cast system perpetuates, social harmony is impossible on account of the inherent contradictions of the Brahmanical caste system. As the RSS-BJP goes for unprecedented mobilization and polarization provoking people in the name of Ram and Temple, without falling into this fascist trap, the working and oppressed people of India who belong to the lower and untouchable castes, should rise up and come forward with a political counter-offensive demanding immediate implementation of an all India Caste Census.

Today, when RSS neofascism with its tentacles spread across the macro and micro spaces of India’s entire political, economic and cultural and spheres and projecting Ram Temple as core campaign material backed by its unparalleled organisational structure, is moving towards the crucial General Election with its ultimate objective of Hindurastra, the demand for an all India Caste Census can be an effective rallying point for strengthening the antifascist movement comprising all anti-caste, secular, democratic and left forces in the country. Vast majority of India’s working people in the unorganised sectors, and all oppressed including women, Dalits, Adivasis, and minorities, especially Muslims can unite together raising the demand for Caste Census. If a nation-wide broadest possible unity of the people centered on this demand comes forward, then it will directly strike at the caste system that provides both the material and ideological basis of Indian fascism. In the concrete situation of India today, if all the left-democratic, anti-caste, secular forces together with all working and oppressed people succeed to unite based on Caste Census, then it will be the biggest blow against the large-sale majoritarian polarization that RSS-BJP envisages through the Temple-push in the days ahead.

Therefore, it is high time on the part of all Indian people with anti-caste, secular, democratic and progressive perspective to fight for the immediate implementation of an All India Caste Census as it can be a tool for democratization of Indian society. It is also an effective weapon against Indian fascism which is flourishing through superimposed majoritarian Hindutva polarization around Ram Temple.

P J James is General Secretary, CPI (ML) Red Star

Support Countercurrents

Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B.
Become a Patron at Patreon

Join Our Newsletter


Join our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Get CounterCurrents updates on our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Related Posts

Join Our Newsletter

Annual Subscription

Join Countercurrents Annual Fund Raising Campaign and help us

Latest News