The Hindu Rashtra
27 September, 2005
What is in the
Welcome to Amdavad,
are the new signboards in the main roads of Ahemdabad and a serious
reader of the events in Gujarat can make out of the situation in Gujarat.
Apart from this, the certificate given by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation
and now United Nations Development Programme to Gujarat for best-governed
state in India exposes the hollowness of these institutions, who play
with economic data without taking into account the issue of freedom
from fear, freedom from want and freedom to live in dignity as suggested
by Secretary General Kofee Annan, in his famous report 'in larger freedom',
to the United Nations. Chief Minister Narendra Modi is enjoying every
bit of this now with great hoardings about his achievements all over
the state and claiming how his 'enemies' are also eulogizing his work.
However, it is another matter that the threat to Modi does not come
from the so-called secular camp but the very follower of Hindu Rastra
brigade, on whose back he rose to become the mascot of Hindutva in India.
You move to any
government office in Gujarat and the change is visible. You have Sardar
Patel all over. Gandhi is relegated to a poor second position. The others
don't count except the modern days 'bhoodevatas' whose preaching has
become a fashion for the entire Gujarat. The day I landed at the Baroda
airport, one swami came along with a photographer and the crowd at the
airport showed how these modern Mahatmas are finding Gujarat their best
abode. They talk of materialism and preach from five star hotels to
those who are notorious in exploiting the people. Yes, the agricultural
majority of who are tribals and Dalits working on the farms of local
lords with their Non Resident Resources, are paid much below the minimum
wages prescribed. And any question for the same invite cruel economic
I take an auto from
Vadodara to Anand, the town famously known as 'white revolution' town
in India. The young auto-driver Allah-Rakha in his 20s could not complete
his 8th standard when he objected his upper caste fellows remark on
Muslims girls of his school. Action was taken against him for indiscipline
and today he cannot get admission in any of the schools of Gujarat.
One does not know how many Muslims have met with such a fate. He is
cautious about talking politics in Gujarat but when inform him that
I have come from Delhi and that we are not secret service agent of any
political party, he open up. " Sir, my auto owner is a Hindu, a
very nice man. He belongs to Congress Party. But it is difficult here
these days to get employment. I have two sisters one young and the other
elder. His house got burnt. He earns Rs 40/- per day from plying auto
and pays a daily rent of Rs 100/- to his owner. He is happy that the
opposition party is running the government at the center and that the
current government in the state now cannot do anything for the fear
of antagonizing center. " Muslims are still better', he says, 'the
condition of Dalits here is really terrible. Nobody drink water from
a Dalit, Sir. Gujarat has a strong caste system, he lament, but I don't
believe in it ', he adds.
During my several
days stay in Gujarat and different parts of the state, I had a lot interaction
with locals in the towns and villages. As I make a visit from Ahemdabad
towards Anand, my cab driver has his sympathies clear for Narendra Modi,
'Sir, Modi is an international man. World recognize him. He has made
Gujarat what it was never." I ask, why the 'Hindu Hridaya Samrat'
is being opposed by the same people who once appreciated him,' Oh, sir,
Modi is an extremely honest man, and these VHP, Bajrang wallahs are
corrupted fellows and that's why they are opposing him'.
Paradox of Hindutva
Ironically, in Anand,
a teacher of political science reflect the dangers of identity politics.
He says: 'Narendra Modi is a backward caste person and that is why we
all want him to be the chief minister. No body is unhappy with him except
for the Patels and Brahmins as he has continuously sidelined them.'
The professor spoke the truth as Narendra Modi is on his way to appease
the Brahmins and upper castes in Gujarat by inflicting more and more
religiosity among the people and putting the religious pontiffs over
his head. The so-called confluence of Narmada into Saraswati was meant
more to consolidate his vote bank rather then serving water to the people.
Most of the big religious gurus kept themselves away from the programme,
however, Modi has the backing of his leader ' Lal Krishna Adavani',
who has not taken Sanyas from the politics despite his failure to rejuvenate
the party. I meet another 'director' of an educational institution allegedly
run by one of the top guns of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. He is in the
college, I have gone to meet some of the friends and introduce me that
he comes from the institution run by an eminent person. I am not keen
to counter him as I want to listen from him what he think about Narendra
Modi and he says: Sir, this fellow became chief minister because of
VHP and Bajrang Dal and now he has corrupted himself. He is trying to
sideline the Patels and Brahmins and these are the backbone of BJP at
the moment and during the peak of the Hindutva movement in Gujarat.
How can this be tolerated? Clearly, the person himself a Brahmin was
angry over the continuous marginalisation of the Brahmins in Gujarat
by a Hindutva regime.
In Gujarat's schools
and colleges, Sardar Patel has overwhelmed Gandhi. It is Patel all the
way besides Swami Vivekananda, Ram Krishna Paramhansa and other leaders
of Hindu society. You visit to any government office and discuss about
government programmes and the officials would portray everything 'best'
in Gujarat. The easy reference is ' We are not Bihar'. At a barbar's
shop in Baroda, I started my conversation with him who proudly says
that he was trained by none other then Javed Habib, he said: "Sir,
Gujarati's are most tolerant people. Nothing happened here. The Muslims
were not killed by the Gujarati's but by the Biharis and UP wallahs
who have migrated here. They have made a hell of our great Gujarat,
he lamented. I asked 'but situation is still bad and people are boycotting
in the villages'. He says, " You know Gujarat's today want to be
left alone. The other communities particularly those from outside Gujarat
as well as Muslims are not ready to assimilate in Gujarat hence no point
of their staying here and disturbing our peace. We are religious people
and very simple and we want peace here."
Yes, that is the
irony of Gujarat. The Gujaratis who enjoyed the diversity in London
and then in United States are today saying that multiculturalism is
dangerous. The Gujaratis who settled in South Africa, prospered in their
business without any racial bias are today saying that communities are
not assimilating here. Did any one of them merged with bigger identity
in Europe and United States. No, Gujaratis are business people and their
business interest are the biggest. When Gujaratis can stay in Maharastra
and other parts of the country, there is nothing that can stop Biharis
and other people from migrating to these states. Secondly, as Yunus
Chauhan, a teacher in Anand told me, that Gujaratis don't do all the
business. Hence the condition is that Gujaratis finds it difficult to
get recruitment for the army and police. The upper caste Gujaratis would
not like to join army. And that's going to be the crisis in future when
they will have to recruit either Adivasis or Dalits or people outside
Gujarat in the police forces of the state. Even the cotton market is
now in the hands of Marwadis from Rajasthan.
is that after Modi became much sought after person everywhere, Gujarat
police has become extra alert. So the entries in the hotels and Internet
cafes are noted. I went to an Internet café in front of the Ahemdabad
Railway station to find a notice on behalf of the police commissioner
of Ahemdabad that all the surfers have to provide their identity cards/
passport/driving license/ credit cards before surfing. Though very few
owners follow it, principally, this itself is an effort to curtain freedom
of the people. Nowhere, in the world so far, do you find that for netsurfing
you need to provide your identities. In the hotels also during the check-
in, the manager would give you a slip of paper where you have to provide
your name and contact address. This is typically meant to provide the
matter to the police. Which means after so much of tandava, Gujarat
administration has woken up against a possible threat.
Perhaps it might
be, but Gujarat's Hindu Rastra vision is going stronger. The dominance
of powerful Patels and other upper caste communities is now a matter
of resentment among the Brahmins. We got information how in the Panchayats,
those headed by Dalit Sarpanches are actually run by their deputies,
at least in Porbandar. The poverty of Gujarat is not in terms of physical
though it has also been proved by the latest planning commission data
that among the 20 most backward districts of the country, four district
including Dang, which unfortunately declared the worst affected by poverty
and misery, are located in Gujarat while there is nothing among 20 from
Bihar. Sangh Parivar is organizing a Kumbha mela in this area to rub
salt on the Adivasis for their fight with the Christian missionaries
who are equally visible in this region of ignorance and miseries. District
like Anand are totally based on NRI economy and yet the village despite
well connectivity and development shows the culture, which is developing
in Gujarat during past one decade. The culture of ostracisation as well
as segregation. Caste system is notoriously present in Gujarat today
and Muslims are just a tool to strengthen that as in the grand frame
work of Hindutva, the smaller identities of Dalits and tribals are sought
to be merged. They are totally depended on the powerful communities
like Patels, Kshatriyas, and Brahmins and the best way to turn them
submissive is to strike on their economy. Hence any Dalit assertion
or mobilization is countered in term of economical and social boycott.
My visit to several
villages in Naveli Panchayat strengthen my belief that the so-called
peace and harmony in Gujarat today is actually upper caste uncontrolled
and unchallenged dominance over the Dalits and marginalized. We visit
a colony developed as Sardar Avas Yojna totally supported by Gujarat
government for the landless people. The colony is well made and has
been mostly provided to the Parmars. One Dalit family here got the house
but he too had to migrate to live with his own community. Normally,
segregation of Dalits and non-Dalits or Muslims and non-Muslims in the
villages of Gujarat is complete. Behind the Sardar Avas colony is Indira
Awas Yojna, a central government funded scheme, now victim of state
apathy. Most of the houses under the scheme are provided to those who
have the capability to build houses.
Anyway, I enter
the big house of Sarpanch who happens to be a Patel. The Chaturthi festival
is under full flow. It is one of the ten days of the celebrations. I
knock at the door to inquire whether the Sarpanchji is there or not.
After 10 minutes, a women with red tika over her head and a long Sindoor,
comes out and inquire as what do we want. Her looks are contemptuous
to us. Sarpanch is recessing at the moment . It was 1 pm and she asked
us to wait till 4 pm. We left out of the place. That shows the strength
of caste sarpanches in the village.
I am in a Harijan
Bastee, a term, which is not used by the assertive Dalits anywhere in
the world. Never in my life, while working with the Dalits so far and
in areas such as Uttar-Pradesh, Bihar, Maharastra and Andhra that they
asked me whether I would be drinking water at their place particularly
if the person is educated. Here educated youngsters who were about 10
when gathered around me asked whether I could sit in the Harijan Bastee
and talk to them. The ten families of the scavenger community here is
a challenge to the upper castes because they have educated themselves.
When I ask for water from the young man standing nearby, he asks: Could
you drink water here? I hope nothing happen to you?" This painful
agony of a young mind reflects how the situation remains inside the
villages of Gujarat. Harish, 28, is a qualified stenographer but would
not get a job anywhere. Another boy Ramesh has finished his M.Com and
is without a job. His younger brother Girish is doing B.com. Ramesh's
father work in local Swami Narayan Mandir as a sweeper and get Rs 800/-
per month. Even the great saint's disciples don't way according to minimum
wages. But then who care for wages of the Dalits when according to Hindu
Rastra concept they were to provide free labour in the service of the
other three varnas. It is not that men only are educated in this Harijan
Bastee, Padma Ben, sister of Ramesh has done her M.A. in Gujarati. Ironically,
she herself is jobless and workless. People expect her to pick up the
broom and clean the shit.
Kokila Ben got a
house allotted in her name under the Sardar Avas Yojna and supposed
to get it like others, already constructed house but no. The authorities
passed Rs 40,000 for her; a local contractor said he would be building
the house. The money is gone and no toilet, bathroom or flooring is
done. The thing is that while all houses under Sardar Avas are constructed
and given but for the Dalits in this Hindu Rastra, the pain of segregation
is inexplicable. The fact is that this segregation was not with Muslims
even when they were target but Gujarat's Dalits particularly Bhangis
are totally isolated and marginalized.
Bhavesh Kumar, a
young student of 6th standard has been thrown away from the school for
his inability to pay fee. His father Jagdish bhai is a scavenger and
cannot bear his fees. They mock at him if he is unable to come in the
Harish is aggressive
and scathing in his attack to the Makwana community. He says that the
Rohits, Makwanas and Christians among the Dalits have proved death knell
for them. They usurp the entire quota for the Dalits and the Bhangi's
remain marginalized. I have two simple questions. I talk to him about
a famous person from Gujarat who belongs to his community. Strangely
enough, the Dalits here are totally apoliticised and used in the political
circus by different parties. We heard about Ambedkar but don't know
much as what has he done for us. We don't know about any civil society
organizations or Dalit organization. Who care for Bhangis. Please do
write that there should a quota among the Dalits for Bhangis.
Harish's word are
true. We move to another locality in the same village panchayat. We
go to a colony of Indira Awas. We ask a woman standing there: Is this
the Harijan Bastee or Indira Colony as usually
call.' She gets disturbed. Ah, we are Rohits, we don't know about the
Harijan Bastee.' The other people also have a strange look at us as
if we don't know about the caste equation.
In the Nadpad Tadpat
Panchayat, we find Rohits are dominating fellow. Natubhai Valji bhai
Makwana is a former member of the Panchayat. He suggests how much he
is doing for the Dalits. When I ask him as how many among the Dalits
are Valmikis or Bhangis.. He gets disturbed, you see, this village has
Rohits as powerful community. No Patel can win without our support so
they have to construct houses for us and involve us in their schemes.
He also suggest how a Rohit is a cook in the mid day meal programme
of the school and how ' we all live here in harmony'.
But a little later,
when I walk along with him to visit other areas of Dalits he breaks
his silence. "Sir, it has been really difficult for the Dalits
during this regime for the past 10 years. Though they pursue our work
because of our numbers, the condition of Valmikis is a matter of grave
concern. The upper caste are so dominant that any question can break
our work and the best form of breaking our bones is the socio-economic
boycott. Most of the Dalits work on the fields of the Patels and Kshatriyas
and therefore cannot speak for their rights for the fear of marginalisation."
I make a visit to some of the houses of Valmikis but they are all isolated.
Not even the other Dalit communities want to sit and share with them.
Now I am in a place
where houses were constructed as the Chamar-vas some 20 years back.
The area was dominated by the Kshatriyas of Shankar Singh Vaghela's
community. The chamars were forced to leave. They cannot stay here.
Today, 20 years later, we see their conditions. The houses completely
demolished. There are other most backward community live who work in
the fields of Kshatriyas while the Chamars of that area have been working
with the Patels. This village has no approach road. The houses are constructed
in most shoddy conditions and in complete isolation with the rest of
others. That shows how Gujarat's ruling elite behave and isolate the
The anti Dalit feeling
in Gujarat are tremendous. The anti reservation stir against Madhav
Sngh Solanki was used by the powerful Patel and Brahmins. Today, they
muzzle every case of assertion among the Dalits. If any one of them
raise their head, the economic boycott is tremendous. The pride of Dalit
is crushed here. Without any Ambedkarite movement, the Dalits are totally
out of the idea of assertion. The NGOs might have been there but the
political marginalisation of Dalits and tribal in Gujarat has resulted
in hoplessness and negativism building up among them.
The irony is that
the Patel's are getting agitated with Narendra Modi as charged by many
of them that he has marginalized them. The Patel's in the Congress will
take over. So the Dalits and Muslims are sandwiched between the powerful
communities who switch their loyalty from BJP to Congress and vice versa.
The congress remains the same old Brahmanical institution, which betray
the emotions of Dalits in the name of secularism while BJP bring them
in their fold under the garbage of Hindutva.
Narendra Modi would
never have realized that the Hindu Rastra that he was propagating would
turn against him. Modi, a so-called backward, is now feeling heat of
the powerful Patels, Brahmins and Kshatriyas against him. In fact, Patels,
the original land owning caste and Kashtriyas revolted against him because
they feel they are the legitimate rulers of Gujarat. In the Manu dharmshastra,
Modi does not fit in to rule according to his birth so the Brahmins
are today turning against him. Patel and Brahmins both feel that they
are the genuine rulers according to Manu Smriti and they would be ruling
Gujarat. The process is now complete. After complete marginalisation
and apoliticisation of Dalit, tribals and Muslims, the upper castes
in Gujarat now feel that they cannot live under a backward chief minister,
hence the bubbling has started. Modi has to go to pave the way of the
finalisation of Hindu Rashtra in Gujarat according to Manu Dharmshastra.
The battle in Gujarat is not secular verses communal or Congress and
BJP, it is now the 'legitimate rulers' verses those who are ruling Gujarat
as Madan Lal Khurana charged in his letter to Lal Krishna Advani. Political
parties and ideologies don't count in this, only caste interest count
hence it is the beginning of the battle. The real battle of power could
only begin when the marginalized also get politicized. Unfortunately
for them, there is no space in so-called mainstream politics. Till they
develop a space for themselves, they will have to content with becoming
a tool for the 'rulers' in Gujarat. If Patels, Kshatriyas and Brahmins
lose to Modi in this battle, they might shift to Congress but that would
not change their attitude towards Dalits and Adivasis. It is here the
real challenge of Gujarat lie and for that a new movement of assertion
is the precondition among the Dalits and other marginalized communities.
Gujarat's Hindutva vision will not end with socalled BJP or Narendra
Modi, it is much bigger issue and need an equally stronger remedy, otherwise,
social unrest in Gujarat will continue as communities oppressed regularly
will one day retaliate and then it would be too late to counter them.
Political groups must work in Gujarat beyond their caste-interests,
otherwise damages would much bigger than what has so far happened.