India is a beautiful country. A land of great and long History populated by many different peoples, from many different origins, and who have many different religious, political and philosophical views. This cultural mix in the long term and the amazing natural diversity made India one of the richest countries of the world. A land of diversity. But India seems incapable to enjoy this wealth with wisdom. Many abuses are committed against peoples due to their caste or their religion and nature is more and more systematically ransack for privates interests. In that context, I would like to propose an explanation of the causes of this situation in order to suggest subsequently a way to improve the situation for all, and more particularly for the most marginalized.
According to me, the mains problems facing the country came from two thinks: the implementation of a "culture of impunity" - which is a sharing believe that few can act without be accountable for their actions – at the social, economic and political level, and the meet of this cognitive problem with a context of market democracy and economic globalisation. This explanation will try to explain how the combination of those two factors – cognitive and contextual – allow the rise of a neo-fascism state – an authoritarian state which want to make one country with one nation – and the implementation of an aggressive neo-liberal capitalism – which perpetuate social and economic injustice. By this way, we will see how the neo-fascist Hindustan project is use to perpetuate cast domination and allow the Indian leaders to realize profit by selling the country to national and international companies, and we will understand how this economic deregulation marginalized lower castes and therefore, strengthening social division on castes.
After that, I will take time to propose a way to change this situation by calling for the creation of a "neo-Dalit" movement – combining shudras and ati-shudras from all regions. I will also try to explain why this popular movement seems to be the best way to remove this "culture of impunity" and how opinion leaders from all communities have a great role to play on this major gathering.
I would add that I am writing this article because I believe that many problems that face India today are linked together and therefore cannot be separate both in understanding and resolution. For that reason, I believe that the most effective way to resolve them is to address the problem in a comprehensive approach that takes into account the political, economic and sociological and seek to solutions which take care about those different "linked problems" and based on a popular movement.
A multidisciplinary approach to a better understanding of the actors and factors
India has one of the highest GDP rates of the world. As a "developing economy" in a global world-wild economy, the country tries more and more to insert themself on the international market for goods and capital. This amazing economic growth is beautifully accompanied by the establishment of democracy, and seems made India as a paradise under construction. But this lovely frontage hiding many inappropriate practices which create poverty, brutality and nature destruction. Let's begin this round trip of those practices by a little bit of economic policy.
We can describe Indian economic policy as a conversion to the neo-liberalism religion with a brutal "shut up" ritualization. On one hand, politicians use India as a reservoir of raw materials. They allows big corporation to rape nature, and destroyed a fragile ecosystem who's allow rural peoples to live since the down of live, and they sell all the national key infrastructure – such as water, electricity, health, telecommunication, transport, education, natural resources – to privates companies in order to make money through corrupt practices. This privatization process of state and land is also strongly encouraged by neo-liberalist global institutions – as the World Bank, the international monetary funds, etc.
In the other hand, such practices of piracy again People – who is dispossesses of the wealth of his country by political and economic leaders - are allows by authoritarian and violent measures that government takes again peoples who trying to mutiny again this spoliation. Police is using torture, army is sending against citizens who is supposed to defender and hazardous legislation which makes both of them safe from any penalty for the violation of human rights are enacted – as the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which is as much used against terrorists than against peoples who attempt to peacefully criticize these policies. During that time, other legal texts are enacted to protect and attract multinational companies in order to provide to them fiscal and legal advantages on a very broad definition of what we call the "free market"– as the Nuclear Civil Liability Bill which limits liabilities of Transnational companies (TNC) for nuclear industrial disaster!
By this way, Indian leaders try to create a good "investment climate" for big corporation, allow them to play their dangerous economic game with all the right and no duties, and with a few and controlled popular contestation. A beautiful dream for TNC and a daily nightmare for rural and urban workers. Furthermore, we should understand that this situation is dangerous, not only because this seems to foreshadow the establishment of an authoritarian regime which allow brutal political repression with impunity, but also because this political impunity is put in place alongside with the implementation of an economic policy of corporates impunity.
But this political and economic culture of impunity cannot only be fully understand by the opening of Indian market to the international one or by the corruptive practices that plague public and private institutions. Behind those external factors, there is a cognitive reason which is also very important to understand such behaviors among actors. I want to talk about the caste system.
Indian society has lived for hundreds of years on a strict and rigid social hierarchy based on the Brahmanism stream within Hinduism. The caste system - which so many peoples see wrongly as concomitant to Hinduism – is a social organisation of society which allows upper caste to do whatever they want – including mental and physical tortures - to lower castes and women, who are considered as inferior. Those last ones have just to accept this supremacy theoretically founded by gods but actually righting by human to implement an unequal political regime. This believe created a cognitive complex of inferiority and superiority – respectively for the lower and the upper castes – which allowed the implementation of a national culture of caste and social impunity, itself perpetuate by a culture of silence created by fear, pain and lack of self-esteem of the lower casts.
But the story doesn't stop here, because all those "cultures of impunity" which allow a minority group to govern and exploit the majority of the peoples can be partly questioned by civil society organisations and protest movement who want to reverse this cognitive and social pyramid or, at least, flatten it. For those reasons, power holders use many means to divide lowers castes majority and divert them from the key issues that face India - through communitarianism hatred – and ensure their freedom of act as leaders - by enact draconian laws to so-called protect peoples from communitarianism terrorism act that they contribute to create themself.
So, politics impunity and economic impunity are two side of the same social impunity coin. Social activists and lower castes who want defend their right and critics the system are beating by the police and the army without any respect for their humanity, while neo-liberalism allows upper castes and big corporation to make profit with all impunity, because peoples fighting each other for religion issues or because they do not dare to attack the Brahmanism power.
In this division process of the poorest majority, those who try to keep their power use classical methods in order to conserve their social position. They know that hate call for hate. This is a universal law. And when government leaders begin to feed communal hatred between their own citizens and practice authoritarian political repression, we can qualified it as a "neo-fascist" state because he implement a national culture of hatred against difference, and love – or at least blind respect – for authority.
As an example, we can take the case of the chief minister of Gujarat who calls for genocide again Muslim community in 2002 to revenge the death of 53 Hindu who are burned alive on a railway coach in still unclear circumstance. To achieve his bloodies aim; Nerendra Modi used violence rhetoric of hate in the media in order to stigmatized Muslim and victimized Hindu. And it is well knows that victimization feeling is the best way to create genocider which, as terrorist, feed their murder-craziness with the blood of the martyr and the blindness of hatred fascist ideologies – as Hindustva project or Islamiste one. Mr. Modi was next hailed as a hero by RSS and re-elected in Gujarat. Then, in 2009, this genocider was awarded by Ratan Tata (from Tata Group) and Mukesh Ambani (from Relience Industries) and received from them the Gujurat Garima award for the development of his policies – which at same times endorsed him for prime minister national elections.
What does this example means? Just that some political leaders have an interest to create divisions on society in order to conserve their power? Or maybe just that the true aim of the Hindustva project is to divide peoples in order to allow traditional power holder – upper casts – to keep ruling the country and keep easily running their business with economic leaders? Or just that those who promote genocide and mass-killing can do it with impunity and that there are actually reward for this?!?
Actually, This example highlight well that neo-fascism and authoritarian Hindustva project which feed communal hatred and divide the poorest majority of the society is also promoted by economic leaders in order to hide the implementation of an economic policy of impunity, which is supposed to make India as an attractive country for foreign investments and enrich both politic and economic leaders.
So, we can say that all those political repression, police torture, bureaucratic corruption, economic exploitation of human and nature, and rigid hierarchy of social domination are allow as much by the implantation of those social, political and economic cognitive cultures of impunity than by external factor such "the dangerous cross-currents of neo-liberal capitalism and communal neo-fascism"[i]. As much by the actors cognition than by the contextual factors.Life Cycle Chart
The creation of a popular protest movement through the reformulation of a political identity
We have seen that all those problems which look apparently different are actually linked together. We will see now that this multiplicity of causes can be overcome together by creating a unitary process. A People's one.
What is the best way to fight again a neo-fascist politics of casts and communities division? Unity. Which kind of unity can we create to fight against caste system – which is the origin of social division and cultures of impunity – and neo-liberalism – that increase the gap between have and have-not and deprives many people of the benefit of natural resources? A union of lower's castes. I mean a union of lower caste from all religions, because misery doesn't matters of theologies. A union between shudras and ati-shudras, or between dalits and ati-dalits, and a union with Muslim lower casts and other marginalized peoples. A movement of the poor and the abused people for breaking the economic exploitation and the silence culture of caste torture. A movement against Brahmanism and caste system, but not again Hinduism and upper-caste. A movement against neo-liberalism capitalism, not against capitalism himself.
I want to propose this unity today because I think that this is the best way to fight against this culture of impunity and because I don't think that change will come from peoples who benefit of this system. So, structural change can only come from the bottom of the social pyramid. I propose to call this movement: "neo-Dalit", because this is the Dalit community who has suffering most of all for this entire situation and because this name is already synonym of political struggle. And what a better way to solve an identity problem that reformulates this identity.
Of course, create a sense of belonging to an imagined political inter-caste community may seem impossible, as in the caste structure of society is old and perfectly integrated into the everyday life and that this change of identity require a sacrifice from both of those castes and communities. The Shudras must learn to deny their right of lord (feudal) on ati-Shudras if they want to break free of their upper castes masters. On the other hand, the extended reformulation of the term "Dalit" also requires an ati-Sundra sacrifice, as these take away the monopoly of the first identity that they recognizes as legitimate, from the first name that they accept to name themselves and which is synonym of their own political fight. The first name that their use with a little bit of pride.
This integration problem is even greater when we try to included in this movement the "old" - but actually still - lower caste who converted to Islam or the oppress Christian and tribal populations.
Because of all those difficulties, we have to well understand and emphasis the sameness among those different social groups. First, we should make them understand that they are both castes slaved and aliened by the upper casts. There are a majority who is rule by a minority in a country who is theoretically become a democracy more than sixty year ago. Second, we should show them that main economic resources and power are hold by the upper castes, and that there is no sense to fight between each other's or give a positive answer to communitarianism hatred because such behaviors will not implement neo-Dalit lives conditions.
I talk about the classical example of the landless Dalit who is fighting with a poor Shudra owner because the Dalit cow damages the Shudra field for food. During that time, the rich upper caste – landlord of a hug superficies where are often exploited Shudras and ati-Shudras – has not to deal with this kind of problems, because the caste mentality allow him to beat lower casts in all impunity, because lower castes have internalized this brutal domination that they now regard as normal and because the upper castes have police in their pocket. In this kind of situation, we should explain to the Dalit and the Shudra that this conflict situation is the result of their marginalize situation that they share together due to the caste mind. We should show to them that they sharing a common problem which require a unity response.
By this way, a united movement of protest of this poorest majority will have enough power to fight – in a non-violent way – again the rich minority who have seen from too much time as "un-attackable", against religious leaders who feed hatred between communities or divided lower castes, and against others corrupt officials who believe that they can racked and abuse of poor peoples with impunity because they don't have money to enforce their right in a corrupt political regime.
Because the "divide for better ruler" politics is become an institution in the country: what better answer than a unification process of lower castes from all religions can we give to create a unified social movement again Brahmanism caste system, communitarianism neo-fascism and capitalism neo-liberal.
A union of lower castes against the upper castes alienation, a union of religions against communitarianism, a union of the poor against neo-liberalism. Three fights lead by one community, the neo-Dalits. `
But what about the means of our fight? How such social movement of unity can emerge? On which kind of struggle should it lead? These questions are important and needs to be asked.
The creation of a neo-Dalit political party doesn't seem to be the right choice. Political party who want defend the poor are not going to raise enough money to play the election games and leaders who will be involving in the institutional game have good chance to be socialize to the corruptive rules of those institutions. The risk is that see them takes some distance with the people that they are supposed to defender or, worst, playing the democratic game only for their own profit – as Mayawati Kumari (BSP Dalit leader) who made hidden alliance with RSS (Dalit – Brahmin social engineering, not attacks against caste system) because she expect to run for prime minister election. Another way seems to be preferable.
I think that it is better to promote a reconciliation movement between lowers casts and religious communities in the grass-roots level in order to create contact between those who was speared for a long by communitarianism and Brahmanism. Connection and meeting are the best way to fight again dangerous prejudices that lead to community's hatred and reverse the process of division between lower castes. But it is clear that this unification will not appear "like that" and that we need, first of all, to create a hug and strong network among all the civil society organizations who fight separately for the Shudras, ati-Shudras, Muslim, Christian, worker class, farmer, etc… Because the best way to achieve this union and create a neo-Dalit social movement of protest begin by coordinated actions lead by a shared interpretation of our common problems.
For this reason, this present call is destined to all Suhdras and ati-Shudras, to all organisations who fighting for the respect of human right, to all progressive peoples – whatever her/his caste, religion, sex or social class – who want to reverse this process of state-privatization, abuses of natural resources and division of society through hatred spiral feed by communitarianism, feudalism and patriarchalism implement by the Brahmanism caste system and his Hindutva project.
But one question remains: what is the best way to bring together different social groups? I think that this process should begin by a closer link between opinion leaders and others representative of those groups. This idea has nothing new. Few times after India independence, Gandhi-ji has already show use that it is possible to put a term to communalism fight by a non-violent way. I talk about what peoples called "the miracle of Calcutta". Gandhi-ji was able to engage a disarm process of all gang of the city, but was not satisfy by this victory. He demanded more. He asks to the leaders of Muslim and Hindu communities to give promise that they will keep peace between them. And, ho "Miracle", Calcutta and his areas had never more knowing any communitarianism riots.
This history shows us how it is possible to create peace between communities and how opinion leaders have a great role to play in such process. For that reason, the creation of a neo-Dalit movement can't only begin with an approximation of the elites. We should organise much more meeting with all those communities representatives in order to make them work together and learn to know betters each other's. By this way, they will probably learn that they protect different communities which deal with different problems but which sufferings from the same culture of impunity and neo-liberal alienation.
On the grass-roots level, we should broke the silence wall and enhance self-esteem of the lower castes in order to give them back their dignity and make them actors of their own change. Moreover, we should work to bring the communities together by creating some "sharing public space" for Shudras and Dalit, and for Hindu and Muslim. This last point is important, because most of the socialization processes seem to happen on the streets – where every communities and castes are together but remain speared in different district or sidewalk – and place of worship – where ati-Sudras remain only tolerated by the others castes.
So, to resume my proposition, I want to emphasis three ways that the neo-Dalit movement should take in order to improve their political, economic and social situation. First, we can fight again political repression impunity by legal process. Many Human rights organisations are already fighting in this way in order to transform the Brahmanism "rule of lord" by making them respect the "rule of law". Second, the social impunity should be defeat by changing cognitive weakness which made some peoples victim of their inferiority complex and other peoples tormentor due to their superiority complex. We need to created commons forums for neo-Dalit in order to break the wall of silence which leads to the acceptation of this situation and to launch a speech process which will teaches them that they are equal and they are sharing commons interest. And what a better place than in a social protest which want to defeat economic impunity to do it. This thirds way implies to organize mass demonstrations and syndicate that transcends the division of caste and religion I order to have enough political power to influence the national economic policy.
Finally, and as a conclusion, I would like to say that this article was righting by a foreigner who try to understand better India. For this reason, these analyze and the solution that I propose here can probably be improved by Indian actors who know better than me what their country need. So, I hope that this writing will stimulate the debates among progressive people and –this is my aim – contribute to improve the lives of the neo-Dalits peoples.
[i] ROY, Arundhati, "How deep shall we dig?" in ROY, Arundhati, "Listening to grass-hoppers. Field notes on democracy", Penguin Books, New-Delhi, 2009, P.33.