Caste system: The Beginning

There is a popular one liner which finds relevance to the Indian society:

” In India, you do not cast your vote, you vote your caste” .

Such is the prevalence of the caste system. It has seeped in through the roots of the society and has entrenched itself such that it has become an organic part of it.

Now, before critically evaluating it, let us understand what this “caste system” is all about.

Background:

  • It finds its roots in the ancient India.
  • During that period, it was called varnashrama.
  • Varnashrama: a graded division of labour, which was as follows:
    • Brahmin : Priestly class or the intellectuals.
    • Kshatriyas: Kings and Administrators.
    • Vaishyas: traders and merchants.
    • Shudras: they were meant to serve the above three varnas.
  • The underlying purpose of this system was an organised distribution of labour in the society.
  • As also mentioned in various texts like Bhagwad Gita, under this system, people of the different varnas were meant to perform their prescribed duty(dharma). 
  • According to Jawahar Lal Nehru’s Discovery of India, the varnas were formed by the Aryans(who were primarily tillers) in order to distribute the work in the society.

Transition from varnashrama to caste system:

However, with time and the alterations in attitude and aptitude, this system turned into what is presently called as the caste system.

  • The priestly class or the Brahmins who were the most dominating of all sections due to the status they received in the society, misused their position.
  • This ,in turn, led to discrimination of the lower classes.
  • Also, the system became more or less hierarchical. It means that the scions of the intellectuals, who may or may not match the required intellect level, will be called Brahmin as they are born in that family.
  • This annulled the meritocratic element in the system.
  • Thus, a Brahmin prejudice began to prevail  and this created the system of upper and lower in the society.
  • This was the beginning of the present caste system.
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Legacy of the Makers of Modern INDIA: Lal Bahadur Shastri

Lal Bahadur Shastri was ‘apparently’* the second Prime Minister of the Republic of India. A Gandhian by ideals, he was an honest and simple personality.

In this post, some light will be thrown on the considerable contribution and thoughts. beliefs and principles of this jewel of the independent INDIA.

Image result for lal bahadur shastri

Pre-independence:

  • Was an active part of the national movement. He served as a young Satyagrahi beginning from 1921 till independence.
  • An ardent follower of Gandhian policies and philosophy of Gandhiji.
  • Worked for the upliftment of Harijans as a part of the Servants of India Society(of Gokhale) and also as a Gandhian Satyagrahi(Gandhi Ji upheld truce between mass movements to serve and include the Harijans).
  • Spent around 9 years in jail during independence activism.

Post-independent India:

The major political role of Shastri Ji began after the independence of India in 1947. The following shows the roles played by Shastri Ji in various spheres.

  • Political sphere:
    • Served as the Railway Minister under the Nehru cabinet. Resigned from the cabinet after a railway accident. This depicted the sense of moral responsibility and accountability imbibed in him.
    • He was a near unanimous choice for the role of Prime Minister after the demise of Pandit Nehru.
    • His decision making was a perfect combination of idealism and realism.
  • Economic Sphere:
    • White Revolution took place under his term–> supported the initiatives of Amul Co-operative society and facilitated setting up of the National Dairy Development Board.
    • In 1960s, India was suffering from food shortages. Here, Shastri invoked his idealist policy and urged the citizens to give up one meal of the day. Reduced demand of food could  per facilitate pita availability of food to masses. Hailed as “Shastri Vrta“, it had a considerable impact in short-term.
    • Promoted the Green Revolution(which was intended to make India self-sufficient on food production).
    • Food Corporation of India was setup under his term.
    • Believed in ending License Raj(a socialist policy).
  • Foreign Policy:
    • The policy of Non-alignment in a more realistic manner–> built up ties with the Soviet Union.
    • Enhanced the defence budget looking at the increasing enmity against India amongst the neighbours.
    • Highlight: War with Pakistan in the year 1965 –> gave Indian forces a free hand–> Indian forces aggressively occupied a major area of Pakistan–>a war in favor of India–> ended with an agreement at Tashkent to restore status quo.
  • Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan:
    • This was the highlight of all his actions and policies.
    • Jai Jawan: Hail the soldier–>particularly relevant to 1965 war.
    • Jai Kisan: Hail the farmer–> 1960s –> famines and food shortages–> farmer had to play a key role in sufficing the food needs.

Lal Bahadur Shastri is considered to be one of the very important cogs in the wheel that is called INDIA. His contribution in the economic(in particular agriculture) and foreign policy spheres is still relevant and acclaimed by the people from all walks.

*Gulzari Lal Nanda, though, was the acting PM for the hiatus period between Nehru and Shastri, but generally Shastri is considered to be the apparent second PM.

 

Legacy of the Makers of Modern INDIA: Shaheed Bhagat Singh

Recently(on 28th September 2016), 109th birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh was observed.

Bhagat Singh was one of the infinite jewels which adorned India during the struggle for independence. The gravity of his contributions is still felt and revered by the people not just in India but across the globe.

This article will be a brief of Bhagat Singh’s role in the National movement, his contributions, the events which shaped his actions and thoughts among others.

Image result for bhagat singh

In a chronological order , it goes like this:

  • At the age of 12 years, traumatized by the Jallianwala Bagh massacre(under the helm of General Dyer). This was a major event in the early stage of his life which imbibed considerable bitterness against the Britishers.
  • In the beginning, supported Gandhi Ji and his strategies of Satyagraha and Non-violence in the beginning and took part in the Non-Cooperation Movement
  • But–>irked by the Gandhian policies after withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation movement post the Chauri Chaura violent incident(1922)*
  • He was now inspired by the anarchist* and Marxist ideology*.
  • Began to involve himself in revolutionary activities and upheld violence to overthrow the British Raj.
  • Became a prominent part of the Hindustan Republican Association(HRA), an organization comprising of revolutionaries like Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Chandrashekhar Azad among others.
  • Kakori conspiracy*(1925) was a setback for HRA.
  • Formed Punjab Naujawan Bharat Sabha (a left-wing organization to gather youth and peasants by educating them about ideologies like socialism etc.) in 1926
  • Chandrashekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev among others laid the foundation of the Hindustan Socialist Republic Association(HSRA) in 1928.
  • The word “socialist” in HSRA was added on Singh’s insistence. This confirms his propensity towards socialism*.
  • Simon Commission and death of Lala Lajpat Rai was one of the turning points in his activities.
    • Lala Lajpat Rai was beaten to death by police while protesting against the arrival of Simon Commission(1928).*
    • In order to avenge his death, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru and Chandrashekhar Azad conspired to kill the Supridentent of Police(SP), Scott. However, due to mistaken identity, they shot dead ASP, Sauders.
  • Bombing the Central Legislative Assembly: 
    • Bhagat Singh along with Batukeshwar Dutt.
    • The purpose was to “make the deaf hear”(to voice their concerns regarding the British rule) . However, the bomb was harmless.
    • To protest against the Public Safety Bill* and the Trade Disputes Act*.
    • Was inspired by French revolutionaries.
    • “Inquilab Zindabad” was the voiced slogan. It means- “Long live the revolution”.
  • Charged with Saunder’s murder, bombing legislative assembly and manufacturing bomb–> arrested as a political prisoner.
  • 116 day Hunger strike  against the pity conditions and abominable treatment meted out to the Indian prisoners–>demanded equal treatment for European and Indian prisoners.
  • Executed along with Sukhdev and Rajguru on 23rd March 1931.

Bhagat Singh: Thoughts and Beliefs 

  • Rationalist: upheld reason as the source of valid knowledge.
  • Atheist-> questioned religious ideologies , particularly after witnessing inter-religious riots –> this was an outcome of his rationalist outlook.
  • Socialist–> inspired by the Russian(Bolshevik) Revolution which upheld Socialist ideology.
  • Towards the end, he himself admitted the effectiveness of the leadership of Gandhi Ji and called to abrogate violence.
  • Anarchist: upheld absence of the British state.

Glossary:

  • Chauri Chaura incident(1922): A violent breakout of the masses against the police. Police allegedly used force on the peacefully protesting masses. Mahatma Gandhi called off the Non Cooperation movement due to this event as the principle of Non-violence was breached. Bhagat Singh and other young nationalists were disillusioned by this.
  • Anarchism:  An ideology which denies any role of state. It upholds the principle : ” State is an unnecessary evil”.
  • Marxism:  an ideology which upholds the principle of struggle of the working class(proletariat) against the bourgeoisie(capitalist or ruling class).
  • Kakori Conspiracy:  train robbery took place in Kakori(U.P) led by HRA revolutionaries in 1925.
  • Socialism:  means of production and distribution to be owned by the community as a whole.
  • Simon Commission(1929):  a commission sent to INDIA for constitutional reforms—>Opposed by the nationalists on grounds that it had no INDIAN member.
  • Public safety bill: To stop communist activities by suppressing communist organizations.
  • Trade Disputes act: restrictions on strike action, mass picketing, forbade unions from having political objectives.