THE DELHI gang-rape victim’s photos are available on social networking sites. From her face, she appears Punjabi; either upper caste Punjabi Hindu, may be a Brahmin, or a Sikh. Since in the last Assembly elections in New Delhi Punjabis as a group did not vote for the BJP, the act could save culprits or at least give them some reprieve as they erroneously thought that they could get some support from the BJP.
The rapists in the gang rape were six in number and the victim was a Punjabi. A natural judgment and punishment! And they could again have counted for support of the SP and the BSP. This is not sufficient as the girl belonged to Ballia and it was the constituency of Late former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar. He was the Prime Minister when Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. His government was supported by the Congress Party.
So why not presume the support of the Congress Party? Again that was a big miscalculation by the plotters. One can ask that how come six rapists and two victims were the only people left in the fateful night. At the worst it was a chance. They should have done all calculations before the act but should have forgotten the fact that India always belong to the upper class and powerful people. Since the victim has died the guilty are more likely to get death sentences. This may not be the completely right judgment as per the existing laws but that is what is more likely to happen than otherwise. Obviously, rape was a way to take politico-social revenge. They did the act in abstractness because of certain political belief and ideology. Even though no political party would support them the larger issue would be politicized.
This is not the lone incident. Take the Anna Hazare’s crusade against corruption. As soon as the US withdrew its support, the movement fell apart. Now Mr. Hazare’s house is bitterly divided and anti-corruption campaign has slowed down. V. S. Naipaul, the most celebrated author of Indian descent, in his famous book, India: A Million Mutinies, now, describes the outcastes paying homage to Ambedkar as a revolution of its own; a kind of mutiny. In reality, this could be described as mere adjustment to the changing consciousness. Resident Hindus do not object to this but probably Mr. Naipaul in his personal capacity does.
Can India unite because of the girl’s death and change its social belief to the extent that it be termed as a revolution? The simple answer is no. All kind of issues are involved in the rape and attempted murder case: caste, class, regional, linguistic, may be religious if the girl was Sikh. Are these not the fissure lines for Indian demography? If one is not apologetic to Indians getting converted then the answer is emphatic no. They would argue that India is changing and the divides are getting reduced with each passing year. Sure, some Indians are changing but not too many. India’s population is also increasing and with this the social conflicts. The old problems and divides have morphed into newer forms. Instead of talking about caste one can talk about class knowing very well that mostly upper caste people belong to upper classes. Moreover, Indians’ attention is divided and shared more with outsiders than within group.
It goes beyond that. India is West-staked since beginning and imports are not mere compulsions but part and parcel of culture and society. English is the most dominant language even though Hindi is spoken by the maximum people. People have good reason not to abandon the age-old biases and prejudices as the Westerners and other foreigners require the support of upper caste people for efficiency, productivity, performance and profitability. Even if Indians want to change themselves, which is highly unlikely, the circumstances would not permit them to do so.
The fact is that since ancient time Hindus have preferred Centrist ideology over Rightist and there are not too many exceptions. This and the fatalism involved in Hindu scriptures have made Hindus of all castes including the outcastes very tolerant. But dominance of the upper castes continued till the arrival of Muslims even though Hinduism was very severely contested by Jainism and Buddhism as well. But Hindus won all the political and social battles in the long run till the Muslims arrived. Muslims converted many; many lower castes as well. But they almost left outcastes untouched.
If one understands Hinduism then one needs to equally accept that India’s lower castes and outcastes are very tolerant and decent people. There was not much scope for any revolution till the medieval time and since the medieval times Hindus had been contesting ‘outsiders’ till they got independence in 1947. The Muslim rules badle affected the genetic pattern of the non-Muslims. When in middle-to-late medieval period there was some scope for a kind of revolution British arrived and their investments and creation of institutions and infrastructure supported the caste and class egos.
Seeing the development and lured by English even the lower castes and some outcastes developed caste ego. They forgot the Hindu apartheid and suppression and became the mainstream follower of Hinduism. British too did not support much the dissent against the mainstream Hinduism. Elitism was first discovered by Indians during British rule and middle classes were beginning to have presence since then. Since the post-independence period Indian Parliament approved the affirmative actions for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Moreover, the levels of consciousness were not same for all people and therefore they did not place demand for equality in society then.
The post cold war era was dominated by movement to build a grand Rama temple in Ayodhya. Again Hindus forgot caste and regional differences to great extent for more than a decade. Moreover, the backward classes’ reservation as proposed by Mandal commission was accepted in principle by V P Singh government in 1990. Therefore, there was not much place for dissent for a revolution to take place. Now when all Indians have got high consciousness there is a question of economic excellence in life. All Indians are pro to the economic improvement and this is a good thing. Muslims because of almost equalizing consciousness have started demanding reservation in government jobs too.
Hindu inertia is not always a good thing, and that is why they are so much prone to change. Caste system is not symmetric and does not have equal effect on all people. But the fact is that it is this caste system which is responsible for India being so big and Hindus being so numerous and that is why it has some merit. Indians need to rethink about their social lives but the change should come by consensus. There will always be divisions to counter the revolutions. Better Indians transform themselves by consensus or else they would be left as the worst deposit of time: amorphous and converted people.