Saturday, December 18, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Hurting the dalit cause

Hurting the dalit cause
By Kancha Ilaiah

Our democracy is not only fragile but corrupt. But that does not
absolve any dalit leader indulging in a massive corrupt practice.

The Indian nation is reeling under corruption of all varieties —
financial, moral and ethical. Unfortunately former minister Raja's
corrupt contracting of the communication networks called 2G spectrum
scam has not only shaken the UPA government but affected the moral
credibility of DMK politics and more so that of the dalit ideology.

Raja is not only a dalit but has grown up in the Dravidian ideological
framework. Why did he pursue politics of this level of corruption? Did
he do it at the instance of the DMK leadership or on his own? I cannot
imagine that a politician of his age and background could do it
without the knowledge of the top DMK leadership.

The DMK has its origins in the socio-political culture of Periyar
Ramasami Naikar's movement. The DMK has moved far away from it. We
have been haunted by the corrupt image of Lalu Prasad and Mayawati for
quite some time now. The scope to justify their deeds as individual
aberrations tainted our ideological vision also. Of course, we cannot
write off such corrupt practices of the dalit-bahujan leaders as some
historical inheritance of the same brahminic practice as the practice
sustains outside the realm of 'sramanic' practices.

Gautham Buddha gave us a moral code that one's own property should be
an external image of one's labour power that must get invested into it
in varied forms. He was not totally opposed to private property but
opposed to private property accumulated by exploiting the labour power
of others.

Periyar, Mahatma Jotirao Phule and Ambedkar inherited the moral ethics
of Buddha. DMK and Bahujan Samaj Party are the political expression of
these great leaders of depressed classes. When these parties are
heading the state institutions what ethical, moral and financial
policies should they follow?

Marx also believed in a similar theory that the private property of a
person should not go far beyond one's own family labour power. Any
property accumulated in any other form outside the realm of labour
power of one's own family is nothing but exploitation. The kind of
political corruption that Raja or Kalmadi or Ashok Chauhan or
Yeddyurappa got involved in amounts to plundering of the national
resource that got generated with the investment of mass labour power
of the nation into it.

If it were to be China or any other western democratic system, such
political leaders either would have been hanged or they would have
been jailed for their entire lifetime. In a country like the USA the
jail term may be 120 years or 140 years whereby whatever could be the
life span of that particular individual, he/she cannot come out of the
jail till he/she dies. The Indian laws of punishment do not follow
such a course. Life sentence at best means one would be in jail for 14

Double punishment

The culture of punishing less for major crimes of corruption of the
magnitude that we witness today has been inherited from the historical
culture of ignoring or giving marginal punishments for such practices.
Should not that legal trend change now? As Kanshi Ram used to say that
if upper castes with proven history of corruption indulge in
corruption they should be punished severely and when the state is
being run by the representatives of the poor and oppressed they should
be punished more because they were supposed to help the poor more.
Raja, if proven guilty deserves double punishment because his moral
duty was to work for the welfare of the poor more than the others.
Obviously this he did not do so.

Of course, the present market economy seems to force every section to
get into the network of corrupt accumulation of private capital. The
culture of massive corrupt accumulation of family wealth seems to have
become a normal mode of political life of politicians. May be this is
part of third world democracy.

Our democracy itself is not only fragile but corrupt at the very base
of it. But that does not absolve such massive corrupt practice of a
dalit leader who emerged out of the political formation of the kind
that DMK is.

B R Ambedkar thought that the Indian corruption is imposed by the
brahminic intelligentsia, as they lived off the 'dakshina' economy.
Those politicians who have come from the productive communities have
acquired an ideological education that more you earn more respect and
stature you acquire irrespective of the means you adopt for acquiring
the wealth.

If Ambedkar and Jagjivan Ram, having come from the dalit-bahujan
background provided one kind of example, Raja, having come from the
same dalit background and having grown from the ranks of Periyarite
party seems to set another example.

Culturally we have lost a moral ground that Buddha, Phule, Ambedkar
and Periyar handed down to us. The political formations that emerged
out of their ideology and practice must reset on a course of fresh
debate about the political and social morality they set in motion. If
these political parties along with communists also do not observe the
cultural ethics of non-corruptibility where will the nation go?


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