Today’s Social values are a mixture of modernity in material sense and of antiquity in the socio-psychological sense. Socio-psychological sense does not keep pace with the material advancement so, even today all over world social peace is wanting.
India is a land of ancient culture, rather of two cultures. Indian society is not homogenous. This is a basic issue. It is a mixture of many races. The indigenous Indian people are today’s Adivasis, Dalits and OBCs – the peasant Castes. The Aryans, as many historials proved, were the first invaders. The feud between invading Aryans and the indigenous people has a long history and even today, that feud is in existence in some or other way. They had different culture and social values. The Second major invasion was of Muslims. They had different value systems. Their religion spread among section of the indigenous people.
After Aryan invasion society was divided. Aryans became masters and original inhabitants were enslaved. Caste system was petrified and it was projected as a unitary model. But the slaves had been the lower castes and higher castes became the masters. Higher the Caste, more powerfufl was in all respects. So, the social values projected through caste system is not a value system which is equally useful or humane for all the castes. As the caste society is hierarchial, all its known projections are upper Caste biased. Because, most vocal sections are the upper castes and the least vocal or nearly dumb are the lower in the Caste pyramid. This model represents the Hindu nationalism and hence social values emanating through it can hardly be called as integrating. By its very nature it is disintegrating.
Other religious groups that are in quite a sizable number, are Muslims (16%). Sikhs (2%) Christians (1%). Buddhists (1%). But all these groups are influenced by the caste and hence they too are more or less in replica of caste bound society.
“It is well known that Hinduism preaches separation instead of union. To be a Hindu, means not to mix, to be separate in everything. Hinduism and social union are incompatible.
It is a mute question whether a motely crowd can be called a nation. National spirit comes only when the people are more or less homogenous or they have a binding force that is based on fraternity. Caste system and fraternity are poles apart. In a way, Caste is a nationality.
Dr.Ambedkar says, “a Caste has all the exclusiveness and pride which a nation has. It is, therefore, not improper to speak of castes as a collection of major and minor nations.” (Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, Thoughts on Linguistic States.) There is fraternity within a caste but not beween the castes. Because, the base required for fraternity is feeling of oneness and because that foundation is not yet built, it is only hypothetical to say that there is brotherhood among Indian people.
Mahatma Phuley says, “how India can be a nation when people are divided into castes and sub-castes.”
Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, being from the lowest caste in the caste society has criticised the Hindu ethos and negated the claim of true integration. He says,
“It is well known that Hinduism preaches separation instead of union. To be a Hindu, means not to mix, to be separate in everything. Hinduism and social union are incompatible (Essential Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar P.25) “there is no integrating force among the Hindus to counteract the disintegration caused by caste. While among the non-Hindus there are plenty of these organic filaments which bind them together. (Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, Annihilation of castes, Bheem Patrika Publications, Jullunder City, Punjab 1968)
He also says, “If society continues to consist of anti-social groups, society will remain disorganised and a factional society. The danger of disorganised and factional state of society is that it sets up a number of different models and standards. In the absence of common models and common standards society cannot be a harmonious whole. A society which rests upon the supremacy of one group over another irrespective of its rational or proportionate claims inevitably leads to conflict. (Essential Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar P.22. Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar, Officers Social Forum Publications, Nagpur 1991)
The non-Hindu people in Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but that of glorification of Hindu race and culture, in a word they must cease to be foreigners or may stay in this country wholly subbordinate to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no previleges far less preferential treatment, not even citizen’s rights.
There are thinkers who feel social value that come from traditions are binding force for social unity and also for national integration. This is the viewpoint of the class or people who controlled the reigns. The some cannot be the thinking of those who have beared the brunt of social regulation as burden or as a force to contain the humane aspirations. If the values of traditional ruling class are confronted then the whole claim of regulatory social values questionable.
In India, the Hindu social values are not, as is evident, acceptable even among the lower ladders of Hindu society. They have been questioned not in recent times but through historic times. Buddhism has questioned those values in the past and the people representing those thoughts do not compromise even today with the Vedic or Hindu social values.
The question of acceptable social values that are needed for national integration are therefore, not to be found in the two contradictory thought processes.
Beyond Hindu circle there are social sections or people belonging to different faiths who are opposed to be ruled by Hindu ethos. The Hindu dominant force tries to impose its value, calling them national or even secular on the people belonging to different religions. This view, when not acceptable even within the Hindu fold how it can be acceptable to others?
The problem of national integration then cannot be resolved by force. It will be mockery of national integration if it is secured by the force of bullet. The peace achieved by force by the ruling classes will not bring a lasting solution. Its nature is always impregnant with violent future out-bursts.
For national integration social values common to all have to be spelled out and be spread among the people.
Different suggestions are put
by different schols of thoughts
1) Those who shun violent and aggressive form of religion but still put the religious solution are the people who say that commonality of all the religions be made national ethos. They say that there is a common thread in different religions and that only should be preached.
But this suggestion has remained on the paper becuse the people who suggest it are not a force in either a social field or a political field. This, therefore, remains a hollow sermon.
2) Another school consisting of Marxian or socialist thoughts consider that religion be kept as a private matter and it should not interfere in the public life. We have before us the example of Soviet Union where religion was relegated in the background officially, but still it was one of the major factors to disintegrate the USSR. Hence, the communist solution also is not fruitful in India too, the Communist solution of national integration has not made much impact on the social life.
3) Third School which does not overlook the ground reality is that in the plural society, society which is ethnically plural and which has no common national interest, commonality can be created by giving proportionate representation. This solution is suggested by thinkers who hailed from lower strata of the society. Proponents of this view point are Mahatma Phuley, Periyar E.V.Ramasamy, Dr.Baba Saheb Ambedkar etc.
In 1990 this ideology was tried at the highest level by the government (declaration of Mandal Commission) but this was vehemently opposed by the upper caste India. That means, they do not want the values and principles implemented which give sort of lasting solution ie. proportionate participation in the governing of the nation. That shows that even today, the ruling class does not want practical steps that are potentially important in creating homogeneity in the society.
Not only backwards in the Hindu fold are in favour of this principle but even sections belonging to different religions are in forefront for this demand.
In the sphere of social harmony in the context of warring religions has been suggested by Mahatma Phuley. He said, “let the lady of the house may, if she likes, embrace Buddhism after studying the Buddhist religion, her husband may embrace Christianity, if he likes after studying the old and new Testaments (i.e. Bible.), their daughter may embrace Islam if she so chooses after studying the Quran, and their son may embrace the Universal religion of Truth, if he chooses, after studying the Universal Religion of Truth (Sarvajanik Satya Dharma). And all the members of the family should lead peaceful lives, should never envy or hate the other person’s religion, and all of them should behave towards one another in a spirit of love and understanding. (Sarvajanik Satya Dharma :The Universal Religion of Truth, Mahatma Jotirao Phuley. Collected works published by Govt. of Maharashtra 1991. Rs. 50)
The outlook is more practical than the one suggested by religious leaders who consider that all religions have a common goal. This would end the hate campaign among different religions. Even beginning of this model will create a new atmosphere. Whether this suggestion has a practical value or not is yet to be tested but even thinking in this directrion is a great leap forward because the Hindu nationalists do not even accept the people of other religions as citizens. For example, late chief of the RSS, M.S.Golwalker said in his book We or Our Nationhood Defined, “The non-Hindu people in Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but that of glorification of Hindu race and culture, in a word they must cease to be foreigners or may stay in this country wholly subbordinate to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no previleges far less preferential treatment, not even citizen’s rights (We or Our Nationhood Defined – M.S.Golwalkar, 1939).
There is, thus, a big difference between thinking of egalitarian thinkers like Mahatma Phuley, Periyar Ramasamy, Dr. Ambedkar and Brahmanic fascist thinkers like Golwalker. In the same line lies Mr.V.D.Savarkar, who, too, like Golwalkar does not recognise non-Hindus as equal citizens. He, even denies freedom of changing religion, a fundamental right enshrined in the Indian Constitution, for he says “Dharmantar is Rashtrntar” (changing religion is like changing nation). Further, he gives the call to “Hinduise the nation and militarise the Hindus” such is the anti-democratic and fascist ideology of the dominant sections of India. Those who are at the helm of affairs are not opposing these values tooth and nail On the contrary, they too, are the silent supporters of this view as is seen while handling the communal riots and also in the question of giving rightful share in the social, economic and political fields.
We have thus, to go long way to fulfill the aspiration embodied in the Preamble of the Constitution.
“WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India in a SOVERIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political.
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.
FRATERNITY, assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.
The values for creating national integration suggested in this paper are to be implemented by the ruling class of the country, the character of which is not wholly of this view. These values, therefore, need to be impressed by the people at large until they are accepted by the controllers of the culture ethos. Until they are unwilling even the highly optimistic and promising words in the preamble of the Constitution will remain mere words.
(Nagesh Chaudhary is the Editor,
Bahujan Sangharsh, Nagpur.)