26th September 2011
India’s great shame: SUPPRESSION of a quarter of its population (#1)
J.S. Mill pointed out a very important thing in On Liberty, that social norms can tryannise equally or even more than governments. The advocate of liberty is therefore not merely concerned about misuse of government power, but about misuse of social power.
India's mistreatment of those it calls "Scheduled" castes and tribes (a term created by the illiberal Indian constitution which gave recognition to religious/social categories) is well known across the world.
Not so well known is that such discrimination is perhaps on the increase – mainly because it has been so strongly institutionalised through affirmative action.
First watch these three videos that were shared by Anil Sharma of FTI. I'll provide comment in a subsequent blog post. (All I'd like to note at this point is an extracts from BFN – that follows these three videos)
EXTRACT FROM BFN
Many things are deeply wrong with Part XVI of the Constitution:
- Sociologists and anthropologists can use terms like tribes and castes, but not a government. A government only recognizes citizens. Period.
- As already indicated, Part XVI perpetrates grave injustice by punishing people who have not, as individuals, participated in any crime.
- By recognizing these castes and tribes in our Constitution, we have effectively frozen them forever. Our culture and society should remain free to evolve and change in any way that its people individually choose to, so long as they remain accountable for their actions. In any event, the time has come for people to move from tribal modes to a modern, individualist mode sooner rather than later.
- Affirmative action increases caste-based inequality. If the caste system would have disappeared on its own in, say, a hundred years in capitalist India, the socialist intervention of reservations will now sustain it for ever. Thus, our Constitution has made it very hard even for the best social reformers of Hinduism to do anything about the caste system now. There has never been greater awareness of one’s own caste than in today’s India. We don’t know our politicians by their views any longer, but by their caste. Perhaps even primary school children think about their caste now.
These things should be completely out of the reach of a government. A government should entirely focus on the economy, on the education of our children, on teaching them the wonders of science. The way to break the back of the invasive and insulting caste system is the following:
- abolish reservations;
- remove all references to any religion, tribe or caste in the Constitution;
- review, and where possible repeal, any law in India with the words Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jain or Sikh included in it; and
- ban the census of India from asking us silly questions about our religion or caste. Let us only be Indians. Period. That should do.
- Ensure that poverty is eliminated and all children receive education of decent quality up to their twelfth year. This will involve a total revamp of the school education system, as outlined in Chapter 6.
- Enact an Equal Opportunity Act in order ‘to enforce everyone’s right to equality of opportunity; to eliminate, as far as possible, discrimination against people by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of various attributes’.[iii] A government can definitely control people’s behaviour, even if can’t change people’s feeling. Such a law will clarify, extend and enforce Articles 15 and 16 of our Constitution. The government would then need to build a very strong capacity to enforce this law.
- Governments are not credible. Their sincerity is questionable. Members of a government are not qualified to touch our hearts and to make us change. People know that politicians are on the lookout for votes.
- The opinions of the political class or the bureaucracy merely reflect existing social opinion. They can’t become reformers, anyway.
- Bureaucracies established to ‘reform’ the society have no interest in eliminating the social problem, for if that problem goes away then they will lose their jobs!
The diagram below tries to distinguish the role of government from that of social reformers.
It is therefore up to social reformers to initiate community-based action to educate and change people’s minds and hearts. When we feel really bad about the terrible things that continue to happen in Indian society, we can try to do the following few things:
- We can begin by setting aside, in differently coloured piggy banks – labelled separately as ‘Ending the Caste System’, etc. – all the money that we would have been otherwise willing to let the government take away from us in taxes for the purpose of social reform (say 1 per cent of our income?). Presently, this money would go towards establishing mammoth ineffective bureaucracies which are focused entirely on increasing the problem.
- Instead of then funding the government through this 1 per cent increase in our taxes, we can get together with others who believe in similar causes and form associations to promote our chosen causes. There may already be many such associations in existence that need volunteers like us. Let us network with other like-minded people and expand India’s social capital. Let us build civil society.
- Once we are satisfied about the quality of work of these associations, let us then break open our piggy banks and fund these associations.
We will be pleasantly surprised by participating in such associations that social causes are impacted quickly, economically and very effectively. In addition, those of us who belong to a so-called ‘high caste’ should not forget to clarify to our children that we will be equally happy if they marry a person from a social category considered by un-enlightened Indians to be ‘lower’ than ours –as long as the person they choose is of good character. We can also use non-caste titles in our names. Finally, we can place the entire offending religion on notice and publicly declare that we will abandon it if it refuses to reform.