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independence-day

We seem to think that our fight for freedom is over…In any real sense of the word, this fight for freedom is not over, though we may be politically free.—Jawaharlal Nehru

We are celebrating the 70th Independence Day today and let’s have a look at the condition of the poor in our country. “We are a country of poor people but not for poor people,” the Delhi High Court bench of Justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar said on August 3, 2016 while hearing the PIL on rehabilitation of manual scavengers in Delhi. “A statement was made by the authorities concerned that there were no manual scavengers in Delhi. But the report of Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) shows that there were 233 manual scavengers in the city,” the bench said.

“What are we doing in this country? Smart cities?” asked the Bench, completely shocked by the photographs and the report presented to it by the DSLSA.

We have made a law preventing manual scavenging only after 65 years of independence— Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act of 2013 and the government agencies like the Delhi Jal Board and municipal corporations stated on oath before the High Court bench that there were no manual scavengers. The bench asked the DSLSA in May 2016 to check the veracity of the claim and the DSLSA report says that thousands of people were working as scavengers for DJB, municipal corporations, Railways or for contractors hired by these agencies and according to the report there is even a post-graduation degree holder among those engaged in cleaning human faeces with bare hands from unsanitary places.

What are we doing in this country? Smart cities?

Even after 25 years of liberalisation and 69 years of independence India is home to the largest number of illiterate people in the world. And the record of having the largest number of undernourished people in the world also is in India’s credit.

And since 1991 Indian farmers have been killing themselves as the corporate servile policies of the Indian State make them a hapless lot.

What are we doing in this country? Smart cities?

And we see the murder of people like Kaburgi for being progressive, the lynching of Muhammad Akhlaq for eating beef, the flogging of hapless individuals for the ‘crime’ of skinning a dead cow. What is happening to our democracy? More than 60 years ago the radical humanist M. N. Roy said: “In so far as democracy is not government of the people and by the people, it is not democracy. With the rise of the party system, the idea of popular sovereignty became a constitutional fiction and politics became a scramble for power.” As far as Indian democracy is concerned Roy’s observation stands vindicated fully.

Together with the Una incident of the heinous flogging, another incident in which too Dalits were at the receiving end comes to my mind. Immediately after the LDF government came to power in Kerala, two Dalit ladies in Kannur were arrested and remanded. They were accused of forcefully entering into the CPI(M) party office which is adjacent to their home and (wo)manhandling two party cadres! Both the incidents were/are treated as atrocities against Dalits. I think that such incidents are not atrocities against Dalits but human-right violations under a democracy which is not democratic in spirit and generously abets human-right violations.

As Stanley Maron says in his essay “The Political Philosophy of M. N. Roy” published in The Radical Humanist (January 25, 1966): “Political parties are the chief evil in modern democracy, for they are the main cause of the concentration of power… The primary interest of political leaders once in office is that of remaining in office, for that is the only way in which they can have the power which is their objective… Their primary interest becomes that of protecting their power against those who have given it to them, and only secondarily of using that power on behalf of those who have given it to them.”

The Una incident would have happened exactly like how it had happened even if those who skinned the dead cow had not belonged to Dalits; and the Kannur incident too. The basic problem is the concentration of power and its misuse. Electoral democracy helped the BJP to have the concentration of power in its grip and the Una incident took place because the culprits are those who enjoy the benefit of the concentration of power. The Kannur incident took place because those who enjoy the concentration of power after May 19, 2016 have had some grudge against the family and the moment the power equations changed, the party which is in possession of the concentration of power ‘taught’ them a lesson.

If the gau rakshaks committed/commit atrocities on the hapless, standing firmly on the collective ego of the nation, the Marxists and Maoists do it standing firmly on the collective ego of the party.

That is why the radical humanist M. N. Roy said that ‘society must be based on the individual and not on abstractions. Communism, by losing itself in the abstraction of the collective ego of the proletariat, had gone the way of Fascism which builds on the collective ego of the nation. Communism is no longer the road to freedom and revolution must take place under another flag.”

Under which flag that revolution will take place? We are in dire need of that revolution which enables us to rise above caste and religious and gender discriminations, the revolution that abolishes vested interests and privileges, that destroys violence, wars, fanaticism, poverty, illiteracy, nepotism and every kind of inequalities.

Let’s hope, as M. N. Roy hoped 60 years ago, that ‘the time will come when the voters of a locality will tell candidates of all parties to leave them alone; amongst themselves they will find candidates in whom they can have confidence and who will remain responsible to them between two elections. Once that happens, the end of the party system will begin, and with the parties, the main cause for concentration of power will disappear.’

You may think that this is pure utopia. Of course I too think it is, but we must strive to realise such utopias to escape from the present world in which, as W. B. Yeats says in his poem The Second Coming:

“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.” 

Sukumaran C. V. is a frequent contributor to Countercurrents.org

4 Comments

  1. IN HIS INDEPENDENCE DAY SPEECH, PRIME MINISTER MODI DID NOT SPEAK A WORD AGAINST THE GAU RAKSHAKS WHO ARE MERRILY KILLING DALITS .
    HIS DECLARATION THAT HIS GOVERNMENT IS BENT UPON “TRANFORMING INDIA” ACTUALLY MEANS “TRANFORMING SECULAR INDIA INTO A HINDU INDIA MINUS DALITS AND MUSLIMS OR AT LEAST MAKE THEIR LIVES STILL MORE MISERABLE BY NOT SOLVING THEIR PROBLEMS.

    • Sukumaran C. V. says:

      Dear Mr. Pasha, If we have to save the secular Indian democracy, we have to fight both minority fundamentalism and majority fundamentalism alike. To understand the present pathetic condition of our secularism, we have to begin from 1984. In 1984 the BJP could win only two seats in the Indian Parliament. In 2014 the same party won 282 seats. How was it possible.In 1986, the Rajiv Gandhi government passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act. The Act was passed to undermine the secular ruling of the Supreme Court on the controversial Sha Bano case. Sha Bano, a 62 year old mother of five children was divorced by her husband and she approached the Supreme Court for securing maintenance from her husband. Invoking Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, which considers Indians as citizens regardless of caste, creed or religion, Supreme Court ruled in favour of Sha Bano.
      The Supreme Court ruling was interpreted as an attack on the Muslim Personal Law and the fundamentalist elements made a hue and cry; and the government of the day with its absolute majority in Parliament passed an Act to undermine the secular credentials of the Indian Republic! The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986 nullified the Supreme Court judgment and upheld the Muslim Personal Law! And two years after, the same government was so eager to appease the fanatics that it banned The Satanic Verses of Salman Rushdie.
      These acts of appeasement were a mere prologue to the terrible drama that was enacted with a well-planned communal script on December 6, 1992 and Rajive Gandhi’s successor P. V. Narasimha Rao brought Indian secular democracy to shambles by making the secular state a dumb witness to the shameful events of that fateful day. When the domes of the 500 year old mosque were allowed to be vandalised, what was really shattered was the secular edifice of the country which was painstakingly built up by the secular democratic trio of Gandhi-Nehru-Azad.
      If a secular democratic state subscribes to a policy of appeasing the minority fundamentalism, it can’t curtail the majority communalism when it becomes rampant sucking its lifeblood from the minority appeasement policy of the state. That was what happened in India in December 1992. The grave to Indian secularism was dug both by the Muslim and Hindu fundamentalists. still if we continue to criticise the one and keep mum on the other, we can neither be truly secular nor save secularism.

  2. The upheaval has started. The oppressed are rising and clenching their fists. They have expressed their cause and now coming-out of bondage of past chains. As the Telugu revolutionary poet ‘Cherabandaraju’ who was tortured to death in prison wrote in a lyric:
    “Kaaranaalu telipinam
    Aayudhaalu pattinam
    Mas yudhdham aapakunda
    Viplavaalu nadipedam
    Gelupu maadiro!! Chaavu meediro!!
    Gelupu maadiro !! Chaavu meediro!! ..”
    (We have spelt out the causes
    We have lifted the arms
    Without stopping our war
    We will continue revolutions
    Victory is ours! Death is yours!
    Victory is ours! Death is yours!!”
    Free translation)

  3. My life in Liberal Klans Oregon!!

    Arab/Muslim Americans are treated less than animals! We are called Sand N…

    We are being prosecuted in a daily basis! High tech lynching, institutionally racism! Especially for Arab women!!

    Oregon former late A.G. Dave Frohnmayer had my SS# blocked & prevented me from getting employed, made me homeless and jobless!

    He was the one who started & initiated the fraud of taking over our homes!!

    His bank robber Rep. Bob Ackerman, Doug McCool and Margaret Hallock hired Scarlet Lee/Barnhart Associates, forged my family’s signature, gave our fully paid Condo to the thief Broker Bob Ogle. And his mom Karen Ogle ” who was working in the USA Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 1997-1999 & administered the power of attorney to have my sister signed it and add her son to the deed,”, without my signature!!

    Bob Ackerman had never responded to the Summon from the Court, and the sheriff never served him or arrested him either!!

    ThIs is what kind of criminal government we have in Oregon!!

    I ran five times for public offices! Voter Fraud & Sedition by Lane County government to protect & cover up for the two criminals Frohnmayer & Ackerman!!

    Oregon government is complicit with their crimes!!

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/justice4nadiasindi

    http://www.davefrohnmayer.com

    Please sign petition.

    https://www.change.org/petitions/a-g-eric-holder-sent-jeff-merkley-gov-john-kitzhaber-investigate-abuse-of-power-and-criminal-forgery-by-former-oregon-a-g-david-frohnmayer-and-lane-county-government#share