The framers of the Constitution of India envisioned a just society which can ensure equal rights to every section of the society. Hence, they aimed at Economic Socialism. Since Independence, India has adopted perfect policies which are suitable for this vast country with various sections of people. But due to neo-liberalisation, although there are some advantages, the deprived section of the society is struggling for livelihood due to corruption and unwise policies. India adopted mixed economy and always stood neutral between the Capitalism and Communism.
Not only in economic policies, in general, India stood neutral with non-alignment movement. There were several disadvantages like the financial loss by Public Sector Undertakings, but at least it ensured that the wealth is not accumulated in few hands. The year 1991, witnessed two unexpected events, Soviet Union broke down and India moved far away from Socialism principles, introduced neo-liberalisation policies to get closer with capitalist countries and to keep pace with the speed of globalisation. Even some people still consider these two events of 1991 occurred due to some conspiracy by Capitalist countries.
Due to liberalisation, global giants entered India and because of the huge number of corrupt bureaucrats who never worried about the suffering masses, national wealth is being accumulated in the hands of global giants as well as Indian business giants and thus blemished the beautiful vision of the framers of the constitution.
Although most of the people blame politicians for corruption and reckless policies, it is to be considered that politicians are not alone responsible for this chaos. The corrupt officials and incapable officials are the first and foremost reason for this chaos. The politicians come and go. But these officials remain till their retirement. If they work responsibly, if they are honest to the people, if they truly act as public servant most of this chaos could have been avoided.
For example, in my home state, the Chief Secretary of the State, the Director General of Police and all higher officials are meeting and discussing the Government policies with a convicted prisoner who is out on bail. The District Collectors are participating in the birthday celebration of the convicted prisoner who is presently out on bail. They keep her picture along with the picture of Mahatma Gandhi on the office walls. Although this has nothing to do with the economic issues, I mentioned this just to show how these officials are negatively influencing the society for their own benefits.
We must also note that even before neo-liberalisation, in 1984, after the Bhopal disaster, Warren Anderson was arrested, kept in his own company’s plush guest house, allowed to leave India after a mysterious phone call which is still a mystery and then he was declared fugitive. Warren Anderson was escorted by the District Collector and Superintendent of Police to the Airport and was sent to New Delhi on a state-owned plane. This can be a good example of the dangerous powers of Capitalism. And Warren Anderson is no more. But the unfortunate fact is, our intelligence agencies and CBI were trying to extradite even after his death. Yes, the Intelligence Agencies and CBI were not aware of his death even after one month of his death, although they were working hard to extradite him. Whom to be blamed for this? Who has spoiled the great vision of the framers of the Constitution? Who is responsible for all these chaos?
We can generally blame innocent people for unawareness, blame greedy politicians, but truly responsible are Public Servants who are getting paid from the hard earned money of the poor masses and if they are responsible most of this chaos could have been avoided. If the officials are honestly performing their duty, Warren Anderson could not have escaped from the clutches of law. If the safety guidelines as prescribed by the law was followed in Union Carbide India Limited, Bhopal, the disaster itself would not have happened. If the concerned government officials had performed their duties honestly, this tragedy could have been avoided.
The recent Land Acquisition Bill is the best example for Government working hand in hand with Corporate businesses. The framers of the Constitution of India envisaged a welfare state. But the sad fact now is, due to liberalism and globalisation, the market forces are controlling even the welfare activities of the Government. Some people may rightly argue that the Liberalism is bringing in tremendous growth to our nation since 1991. But what about the decrease in growth of agriculture, as over 60% of our population depends on agricultural income? We are allowing Direct Foreign Investment on almost every affairs of the country, we allow private business houses to drain the natural resources. Natural resources are the property of the public. According to the constitution, the people have vested powers to Government to manage these natural resources on behalf of the public. But the Administrators are unlawfully misusing these powers which in turn becomes a national loss as we have seen recently in the 2G Spectrum issue. In 1980’s before the New Liberalism policies, India was growing economically as well as there was immense growth in agriculture too. But now the agriculture growth is not at par with the growth of population. If we keep on destroying farms and fields to construct SEZs and if we keep on acquisition land from agriculturalists and handover to MNCs and Corporate houses, in the future, and that too very soon, we will have to depend on import of food. The previous five-year plans and the vision towards National Food Security will all end in vain due to these unwise policies.
From the sociological perspective, in any sociological theories, be it divine origin theory or Social contract theory, in fact, the general public was not able to maintain law and order, the collection of taxes and even general administration on their own. Hence, they appointed officials to collect taxes, to enforce law and order and to administer the state. Even in current democratic India too, as general public could not manage these executive affairs, pay the salary of officials through taxes paid from their hard earned money. But the officials who are actually employees of the general public, behave as dictators in some situations and as rulers in most of the situations. The vision of Dr. Ambedkar will flourish if the officials do understand that their wages are coming from the hard earned money given by the poor general public as taxes.
Dr. Ambedkar stated that we, all Indians have just gained political independence, and we are still in need of economic as well as social independence.
Dr. Ambedkar said “On 26 January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics, we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics, we will be recognising the principle of one man one vote and one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long should we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up”
In the judgment given by Justice Chandru in the case of Murugan & others vs State of Tamilnadu & others 2012 (2) CTC 561,
“The Uthapuram experience shows that if the will of the people are strong, they can find solutions among themselves even in the absence of a state intervention. Such was the fundamental duty imposed under Article 51-A(e) of the Constitution. Ultimately Uthapuram message is very clear. It was a case of a wall (a wall built between two castes) which divided but their will (power) united them. ”
I must mention the Kandadevi Car festival issue that came up in the Supreme Court of India. In the case between Pudhiya Thamilagam rep. by Dr. Krishnaswamy vs. State of Tamilnadu and others reported in 2005 (3) Law weekly 140), Justice Markandeya Katju opined that “This court will no longer tolerate such kinds of treatment of the SC/ST communities as they also are equal citizens of our country and are hence entitled to a life of dignity in view of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of India. In our opinion, to deny them the right to participate in the pulling of the Temple Car is a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution, apart from being violative of the orders of the court dated 6.7.1998 and of the Commissioner dated 26.6.1999, and it will simply not be tolerated by this court.
Oppression, atrocities, and humiliation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is a shameful chapter in our country’s history. For thousands of years, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in our country have been humiliated and looked down upon. In fact, even today the so-called upper castes and even O.B.Cs often look down and insult the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This can no longer be tolerated in this modern age of democracy. In the modern age, equality is one of the basic features which characterises this era. Today no people and no community will tolerate being treated as inferior and will oppose such ill-treatment, and will be justified in doing so. The truth is that even today, in many parts of our country Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, are oppressed and humiliated and violence is committed on them.
It is alleged that some representatives of the Nattar Community claim that there is a custom that members belonging to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities have no right to pull the temple car. Although this contention is denied, yet even assuming that there is such a custom, it will be wholly illegal and unconstitutional as it is against the right to a life of dignity envisaged in Article 21 of the Constitution. After the promulgation of the Constitution, all customs which are in violation of Articles 14, 21 and other constitutional provisions are null and void and have to be disregarded, since the Constitution is a fundamental law of the land.
We make it clear that the District Collector cum District Magistrate will be personally held responsible if the order we are passing today does not comply with. The District Collector cum District Magistrate must act fairly to all castes and communities and ensure that everyone is given equal respect in this Car festival and even otherwise. The District Collector cum District Magistrate will submit a report to this court about the conducting of the Car festival and as to whether our orders have been complied with in letter and spirit. This court will continue monitoring the matter even in future.”
But with the help of a local minister, this order was not complied. Dalits who came over to participate in the Car Festival were stopped kilometers away by the Police force. Do you think that politicians alone can be responsible for such incidents? If the District Administration and Police were ready to comply with the order of the Court, to be precise, if the Executive is not corrupt, none of the other branches will be in this defective state.
In Writ Petition (MD) No.7205 of 2008 dated 7.8.2008, S.Rajendran vs Sub Divisional Magistrate, Thanjavur and others), the court said ” This court is pained to record that situations like the present one are being continued even altar the dawn of 21st century. Even at the time of worship of God groups are divided on caste lines. The dominant community in the village is not willing to accommodate the dalit brethren of the same village even at the altar of the God.”
Even after conversion from one religion to other, the converts were oppressed in the name of caste which was clearly recorded by Justice K. Ramasamy of Supreme Court of India in Mrs. Valsama Paul vs Cochin University & others 1996 (3) SCC 545. He opined that “In South India, if a person converts from Hindu religion to other religion, the original caste, without violating the tenants of the new order to which he has gone, as a matter of common practice continues to exist from times immemorial. If a person abjures his old religion and converts to a new one, there is no loss of caste”.
To abolish untouchability , Dr. Ambedkar said “To put it straight, it can be said that the struggles between Hindus and the Untouchables is a permanent phenomenon. It is eternal, because of the religion which has placed you at the lowest level of the society is itself eternal, according to times and circumstances, is possible. You are the lowest rung of the ladder today. You shall remain lowest forever. This means the struggle between Hindus and Untouchables shall continue forever”.
Then Dr. Ambedkar advised Dalits, “From this you realize one thing, that unless you establish close relations with some other society, unless you join some other religion, you cannot get the strength from outside. It clearly means, you must leave your present religion and assimilate yourselves with some other society.”
During this time, Mahatma Gandhiji opposed the religious conversion and there was an interesting debate between Mahatma and Dr. Ambedkar.
In G.Ramanikumar, President, State Legal Cell, Bharatiya Janata Party, Tamilnadu & others Vs. State of Tamilnadu & others (2007) 6 MLJ 366 = 2007 (1) CLT 120) , the court mentioned about this debate between Mahatma Gandhiji and Dr. Ambedkar.
The debate on the question “conversion” was not new to this country. Even in the late 1920s national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Dr.B.R.Ambedkar have debated over this issue. Dr. Ambedkar began this discussion by referring to the “international fellowship” which was held in 1928. In this fellowship, representatives of different faiths met each other. Mahatma Gandhi was also present in this conference. According to Dr. Ambedkar, it was Mahatma Gandhi who raised the issue of conversion in relation to the work of Christian Missionaries. After this conference, Mahatma Gandhi’s opposition to the Christian Missionaries’ preaching and people getting converted to Christianity is well-known. He particularly objected to the spreading of the Christian Gospel among the untouchables. His antagonism to Christian Missionaries and the conversion of untouchables to Christianity was based on certain propositions, which according to Dr. Ambedkar were enunciated by him in quite an unmistakable term. Dr. Ambedkar selected several propositions to sum up Mahatma Gandhi’s position. The one such proposition was: ” I do maintain…. that the vast masses of Harijans and for that matter, of Indian humanity, cannot understand the presentation of Christianity, and that, generally speaking, conversion, wherever it may take place, has not been a spiritual act in any sense of the term. They are conversions of convenience. They (the Harijans) can no more distinguish between the relative merits (words omitted?) than can a cow. Harijans have no mind, no intelligence, no sense of difference between God and no-God”
His final observations in this regard are found on page 450 of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, Vol 5, Bombay, Education Department, Government of Maharastra 1990). In this, Dr. Ambedkar said “It is difficult to understand why Mr. Gandhi argues that services rendered by the missionaries are baits or temptations. Why is it not possible to believe that these services by missionaries indicate that service to suffering humanity is for Christian an essential requirement of their religion.”
“Nobody will deny to Mr. Gandhi the right to save the untouchables for Hinduism. But in that case he should have frankly told Missions ‘Stop your work, we want now to save the untouchables, and ourselves. Give us a chance!. It is a pity that he should not have adopted this honest mode of dealing with the menace of the Missionaries. Whatever anybody may say I have no doubt, all the untouchables, whether they are converts or not, will argue that Mr.Gandhi has been grossly unjust to Christian Missions”.
“This attitude of Mr.Gandhi need not deter either the missionaries or the untouchables. Christianity has come to stay in India and, unless the Hindu in their zeal for nationalism misuse their political, social and economic power to suppress it, will live and grow in numbers and influence for good”
In 2009, the Bench headed by Justice P.K. Mishra opined in P.Rathinam Vs. State (2009(2) CTC 405) that “In this context, it is unfortunate to notice that even after the death, there is some perception regarding segregation. A very illuminating judgment of a learned Single Judge of this Court was brought to our notice while the matter was argued and we are inclined to follow such decision wholeheartedly. As a matter of fact, in a paragraph of the said judgment, a very touching poem has been extracted, the basic meaning of which is “in death at least all people are equal”. The laudable object of the said poem should be brought to the notice of each and every individual and no efforts should be made to create any vivisection in the society”.
In this same judgment. the bench pointed at Article 17 and opined that ” Article 17 of the Constitution of India has the laudable intention of abolishing all forms of untouchability. Article 17 of the Constitution itself declares that enforcement of any disability arising out of ‘untouchability’ shall be an offence punishable in accordance with the law. There is no doubt that the Protection of Civil Rights Act has been enacted only with the specific purpose of giving effect to the sentiments in Article 17 of the Constitution of India. In such view of the matter, there cannot be any two opinions about the fact that it is the duty of all concerned and more particularly all responsible public officials to ensure that Article 17 of the Constitution is not violated, neither in letter nor in spirit. Similarly, the provisions contained in Protection of Civil Rights Act and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes(Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 are also required to be enforced strictly. Therefore, it is the duty of such public officials to ensure strict compliance with the provisions of the Constitution as well as the Protection of Civil Rights Act.
It is no doubt true that unfortunately, even though about 60 years (it was a judgment in 2009) have elapsed after the passing of the Constitution, the practice of untouchability has not been completely abolished. The need of the hour is to educate the people so that the pernicious practice would be abolished sooner than or later and all efforts should be made to eradicate any such forbidden practice wherever it raises its ugly head directly or even indirectly.”
As clearly said in the above judgment, public officials are responsible for such violations say, for example, the issue of washing temple after the visit of Bihar’s ex-Chief Minister Manjhi or the recent encounters of red sanders smugglers.
We always just blame politicians. But the actual fact is, most of the politicians are not even aware of ins and outs of the processes. The corrupt higher officials for their own pecuniary interests, negatively influence the politicians and these officials are the source of such corruptions. Let us look at an example of a politician and higher official. The politician is in power for just 5 years. Then he has to approach the voters (public) if he wants to continue in power. Hence, the politician is accountable and he will not/may not intentionally do something that will affect his political career negatively. But it was so different when it comes to the case of officials. Officials will not have to face public to seek a vote, and most of the officials never care about the public. We can witness the same in almost all of the Government Offices across India. The vision of the framers of the Constitution was blemished by such Officials for the past 65 years. If they are honest, no political motives can influence them. If the officials were honest, the Bhopal disaster could have been avoided and thousands of lives saved. Even after the disaster, if the officials were honest, the accused could not have evaded trial.
We do here from some corner that education plays a vital role in politics. Some blame that the uneducated politicians are the reason for such unwise decisions. We have seen Kamaraj, M.G.R, N.T.R, and Kalaignar Karunanidhi in politics, they were great administrators irrespective of their educational background. They chose right officials to assist them and the honest officials helped them to govern. Politicians may plan, but the execution is completed by Officials in any case. Hence, I would like to conclude that irrespective of whoever is the politician heading the Government if the Officials are honest, they can help the vision of framers of constitution come true.
As Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer said in his letter “You have miles to go and promises to keep, since judiciary as a class failing in its Dharma”. Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity. Thank you .