Amidst furores generated by the proposed changes in Delhi University, of late an evidence of brahmanical ingenuity is on grand display. When the FYUP course was announced, some say way back in 2008, there was no supporting argument that is for the benefit of SC/ST/OBCs, and it was never claimed to be so, by the administration or teachers’ groups supporting FYUP, even in 2013 when the process of implementation got under way. But now there is a visible attempt to do so. And those who have been opposing the move, especially the left, have not belittled it on the ground that it will harm SC/ST/OBCs, and rightly so, as they never believed in primordial loyalties or identity politics. As per the argument in vogue, it will destroy the SC/ST/OBCs in the university. Now the mimicry, projected as a battle of nerves ‘for and against the FYUP’ has been turned on its head and there is a sinister casteist design to convert SC/ST/OBCs into the carriers of brahmanical political baggage. This is caste at its ugliest.
The whole bogey of FYUP cannot be understood in isolation. The changes at the higher education level by the ruling caste are being pushed for their own political considerations. For last 4-5 years there is a great desperation to dismantle the higher education; they destroyed the primary and secondary education in the country. Primary and secondary education is already controlled by the caste mafias where SC/ST/OBCs are systematically excluded and forced to go to the government maintained community kitchen to have Khichri (rotten and dangerous mixture of rice and vegetables). For all practical purposes ruling castes, including those in the judiciary, call these kitchens schools. But schools are supposed to provide food for thought and not food for the stomach. That is how they killed the primary and secondary education. SC/ST/OBCs parents no longer inquire their children what they study in the school as used to be the case in the past (at least with our generation this was the case). Now they ask what children ate in the school. Brahmanics of right, left and centrist orientation send their children to private schools mischievously called ‘public schools’. What a travesty of education!
In last 20 years the ruling castes have destroyed the public sector in the country and upper caste capitalists have become billionaires by plundering public wealth with the active support of their international cousins. The so-called LPG is economic transformation strategy adopted by the ruling castes to destroy the Dalit-Bahujan economic prosperity, if any, they have achieved because of the protective representation and democratic constitutional functioning.
The reservation for SC/STs was being implemented as a condition of the Poona Pact since 1932 and as a fundamental right when constitution came into force in 1950. Though, reservation for SC/STs was never honestly implemented by the ruling castes but it was accepted by everyone as a corrective mechanism to undo the atrocities committed by the caste Hindus on caste victims. But the panic button was pressed when the Mandal Commission Report implementation decision was taken in 1990 by the VP Singh led government providing 27% reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). As a casteist counter to SC/ST/OBCs reservation, the policy of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation (LPG) was designed to destroy the public sector which was supposed to provide employment opportunities to SC/ST/OBCs. With the reservation and representation SC/STs had acquired over some time, their talent had already started giving sleepless nights to the brahamanics challenging them inch by inch, contesting history, culture, identity of the brahmanical paradigm. If OBCs with 52% population and 27% resources form a common front with the already articulate SC/STs, it would turn into a deadly combination which seemed to be a natural consequence of strong Dalit-Bahujan mobilisation taking place at that point of time. So before SC/ST/OBCs reach the helm of political affairs and use state power to empower themselves, the ruling castes started dismantling the state itself and therefore doing away with the welfare transformative state and brought in LPG. The project is being implemented with missionary zeal by the caste beneficiaries even today.
The Mandal Commission Report was implemented in parts in 1990 and education was kept away from its gambit. Because of the political pressure asserted by Bahujan consolidation, OBC reservation @ 27% was implemented in 2007 by the central government in higher education covering central universities. It came as a lethal blow to the ruling castes that have been enjoying total monopoly over higher education in faculty and admissions and ruling the country as education has been the most potent resource of political suzerainty in the form of caste dominance. OBC reservation in higher education was there in the pipeline since 1990 but got blocked by the brahmanical stubbornness. They knew it was coming, and this can be gauged from the fact that of the more than 300 odd universities started in the last 20 years 80% have been started by the caste cartels in the private sector only.
But that was not enough for the education mafia to exclude SC/ST/OBCs from substantial education. Around 250 universities are still in the public sector, including 44 central universities, and therefore universities are potential centres of becoming intellectual centres of Bahujan consolidation. Keeping this imminent danger in mind the ruling caste want to destroy these public funded higher education institutions and universities before SC/ST/OBCs capture them with their numerical preponderance. For example, in the year 2012, 66% of those who cleared UGC NET examination belonged to SC/ST/OBCs as against the 49.5% constitutional obligation. Rest came as open category and this is a pointer to the future. This is an alarming situation for those who have controlled education for centuries together and therefore need to dismantle the public funded universities.
In this context, the ruling castes became desperate to bring reactionary policies and programmes and therefore are fast converting universities into vocational centres producing semi-skilled individuals. Increasingly, social sciences and humanities are under assault and being discarded so that social consciousness is corrupted and transformed into charity based NGOisation. If SC/ST/OBCs become truly educated about their historical oppression, identifying reasons and realising caste as being responsible for their continued ordeal, they will shoulder the historical responsibility of destroying caste with all its manifestations, lock stock and barrel. Foreign collaboration, privatisation, marketization and vocationalisation are used as initial moves to dismantle the higher education by the ruling castes. Fighting against any one or all of them would be like fighting the symptoms and not the disease.
The SC/ST/OBCs must not mistake the symptoms for the disease. They must resolve to uproot the root cause of the larger malice, the monopoly of the ruling castes in the universities. The four year undergraduation programme is just one of the symptoms and therefore a fight against FYUP is bound to be superficial with no fundamental gains for SC/ST/OBCs. In the present context the fight for and against the FYUP is a friendly tiff between the factions of ruling castes and will end up the moment their respective positions are changed or some deal is struck to their mutual satisfaction. The SC/ST/OBCs must reclaim their independent dignified role in this struggle. The war against caste will be fought and won in the universities and the side ill-prepared is destined to lose hands down. They must assume the leadership of this struggle to bring it to its logical culmination.
Some SC/ST/OBCs teachers are for the FYUP course, while some others are being projected as fighting against the FYUP along with the left organisations. The impression is created that the real fight is for and against the oppressed SC/ST/OBC communities in Delhi University. There are around 10,000 teachers in DU and out of it 1,500 SC/ST/OBC teachers are working in the university on permanent and ad-hoc basis. As per the existing constitutional obligation there should be 5,000 SC/ST/OBC teachers and therefore a shortfall of around 3500 SC/ST/OBC teachers exists in the University. Out of existing 4,500 vacancies of teachers, 3500 will go to the SC/ST/OBCs whenever recruitments take place. Another shocking fact is that out of 44 central universities, only DU has the audacity to refuse implementation of reservation at the Principal, Professor and Associate Professor level.
If there are 5,000 SC/ST/OBC teachers in DU they can change the whole academic paradigm of the country heralding an era of social transformation and economic emancipation by articulating the caste victims’ perspective and consolidating social capital. This revolutionary potential of SC/ST/OBCs is frightening and freezing the brahmanical elite and they are hell-bent upon saving their last bastion. Delhi being the political, intellectual, cultural and media capital has strategic importance with DU faculty strength being around 50% of all central universities put together. The intellectual upsurge of SC/ST/OBCs will have proportionate demolishing impact on the brahmanical intelligentsia of right, left and centre orientation. While rightist and centrist brahmanical forces make no pretensions of masking their domineering casteist propensities, the leftist brahmanical forces (caste communists) see SC/ST/OBCs as a vegetative vote bank to be worked upon and therefore SC/ST/OBCs fending for themselves will pose a real threat to their existence and relevance. The dissipation of progressives, wherever Dalit Bahujan ideology and movement gain prominence is a logical corollary and therefore, the time tested ploy of ‘divide and rule’ (is brought into play). The Dalit Bahujan struggle for annihilation of caste and empowerment of the masses is in a decisive phase consolidating itself and marching ahead with absolute determination and Delhi University cannot hide itself behind the veil of ignorance. At the most it signifies the last flickers of a dying flame. Caste has no future and there is no way right, left or centrist brahmanical forces can use SC/ST/OBCs against Dalit Bahujan ideology and movement. They can only attempt the impossible yet adventurous stunt at the risk of their own peril.
The administration, having ruling class biases, wants to implement policies suitable to its political masters and therefore is parading some gullible SC/ST/OBCs as a social block supporting the FYUP course. Those opposed to the FYUP including the casteist intellectuals like Bhanu Pratap Mehta and Andre Beteille and the caste communists, the green snakes in green grass as Kanshi Ram once called them, with their ultra-social right pragmatic ideology preaching caste as superstructure and demeaning the Dalit Bahujan movement for last 90 years, have sought refuge in the identity politics (SC/ST/OBCs) for their own survival. The left is struggling to meet the challenge thrown by the Dalit Bahujan movement in the country and fast becoming an endangered species even in its own strongholds like Kerala and West Bengal where they have done their best to silence the caste victims’ liberation movement. It is near impossible to hear Dalit Bahujan assertion voices in left dominated areas, specially Kerala and Bengal. Have SC/ST/OBCs been liberated or their movement been silenced there? As they face the daunting future of becoming irrelevant in Delhi University also, they have started playing (the game of) ‘imperialism-imperialism’, nay ‘caste-caste’ this time without mentioning the brahmanical imperialism. What a mighty fall! Brahmanism killed Marxism in India before it could take birth. No ism can be successful in India till Brahmanism is destroyed. With most disparaging inequality and oppression why Marxism failed in India can have no explanation other than that it got swallowed and appropriated by Brahmanism.
It needs no efforts to understand the strategy adopted by the ruling castes to maintain their hegemony and in this case their intellectual dominance in Delhi University. They are justified in performing their religious calling by keeping SC/ST/OBCs as their obedient slaves as per Manusmriti. They are projecting the fight for and against the FYUP as a fight ‘for and against the SC/ST/OBCs and they have their ‘legitimate’ vested interest in doing that. But what interests do the SC/ST/OBCs have in this? There is no scope for doubting the credentials of these SC/ST/OBC teachers and each one has honest intentions. But are they guilty of not visualising, envisioning, planning and working for annihilating the brahmanical intellectual dominance which subjugated them for thousands of years?
One may agree that the FYUP course will have detrimental effect on SC/ST/OBCs, but at the same time it would be incongruous to argue that the three year under graduation course and before that the two year under graduation programme were designed for the benefit of SC/ST/OBCs and had/have done wonders for these communities and will continue to do so in other universities. They must have been equally harmful, if not more, to the SC/ST/OBCs. As a matter of fact none of these were designed to suit SC/ST/OBCs, all were indifferent and alien to them as they were designed by the brahmanical intelligentsia to suit their own interests. SC/ST/OBCs have never been in the focus and rightly so. Most of the university syllabi ridicule, demean and demonise SC/ST/OBCs casting them in very poor light as being devoid of all human worth. Their symbols, ideals and forefathers are projected as filthy, uncivilised, Rakshhaks, villains, corrupt, immoral. Why should those harping on caste do anything to dismantle it by educating their slaves and create havoc for themselves?
Victims of caste (SC/ST/OBCs) having experienced humiliating subjugation are sufficiently equipped and will devise ways and means including the courses and curriculum suitable for their emancipation and empowerment with their rational, humanitarian and liberative outlook and temperament. There is no point in becoming pawns to brahmanical wolves and lose sight of the real issue. The real issue is not of the policies or their faulty implementations but of power and representation. All power institutions of the university including faculty positions need to be socially democratised and reservations of SC/ST/OBCs, being the available modus-operandi, is to be implemented in right earnest at the earliest at all levels in all decision-making bodies. Until and unless the SC/ST/OBCs are empowered by proportional representation in the University, there will be no real education and the university will remain a caste reproducing manufacturing unit bereft of meaningful social engagement, justice and democracy.
The SC/ST/OBC teachers who have gained their present positions in the university must realise their potential of becoming harbingers of social change and extricating the university system from the current banality. These teachers have come to this stage because of the Dalit Bahujan movement resulting from the constitutional safeguards. They have an obligation to society. The SC/ST/OBC teachers must pay back to the communities in whose name they are enjoying the reservation. Becoming appendages to right, left or centre would be nothing short of betrayal at the historical juncture when opportunities are knocking at their door to liberate themselves by consolidating Dalit-Bahujan intellectual movement sensitising and democratise the university, the community, the society and the nation at large. To initiate the process, the SC/ST/OBC teachers must focus their energy where it is needed the most. As a pre-requisite, the provision for reservations must be implemented at all levels and 5,000 SC/ST/OBC teachers must be ensured in the university by their relentless struggle and sacrifices. Free, Compulsory and Equal education for all must be SC/ST/OBC teachers’ running agenda as pleaded by Jotiba Phule before Hunter Commission in 1882, yes it was 1882. If this could be achieved SC/ST/OBCs can do away with the existing reservations within 20 years and make India truly enlightened, as envisaged by Dr Ambedkar, extricating it from the gulf of obscurantism, ignorance and dependency. The SC/ST/OBC teachers must lead the intellectual movement of transforming an ineqalitarian and oppressive brahmanical social order into an egalitarian and sane society. This can only be ensured by their own ideology, by their own organisation and by their own leadership. Other issues of secondary importance may have to wait to be righteously resolved in due course of time.
Raj Kumar is Associate Professor, Political Science, Dyal Singh College, Delhi University.