Pathways to a progressive India

Principal Narhar Ambadas Kurundkar (1932-1982) was one of the leading intellectuals of modern Maharashtra. He wrote exte

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Pathways to a Progressive India Narhar Kurundkar Translated by Abhay Datar Translated from Marathi Vaata: Maazya Tuzya by Abhay Datar Founder: R. J. Deshmukh Sulochana Ram Deshmukh Publisher: Deshmukh & Co. (Publishers) Pvt. Ltd. 473. Sadashiiv Peth, Pune 411030 © Vishwas Kurundkar & Abhay Datar First Edition Printer: Comp-Print Kalpana, Pune 411030. Cover Design and Layout: Ravi Pande Price: 150 Rs.

Kurundkar and Sevadal Narhar Kurundkar contributed significantly to the process of the intellectual formation of the Rashtra Seva Dal. There are many

aspects of the Seva Dal’s mission. Establishing and conducting Seva Dal centres at various places is especially important in this context and Narhar Kurundkar also agreed as to its importance. But perhaps Narhar Kurundkar was not quite adept in the various arts that a Seva Dal activist was required to be well-versed in so as to run such a centre. Sports and games lay at the heart of the centres’ activities. Kurundkar could easily comprehend the rules and techniques of any sport, but perhaps never could play one easily. He possessed a deep understanding of the rules that formed the basis of the art of music, but never took the initiative in singing in a chorus. In practice, Kurundkar kept away from the core of the Seva Dal centres’ activities yet he described himself with pride as belonging to the Seva Dal, and he truly was one who belonged. After the 1942 Quit India movement, the Seva Dal plunged ahead with great vigour in order to spread its wings beyond Maharashtra. It was for this reason that Appa Maydeo went to Madras, Nene and Mandavgane went to Andhra, Chintu Karandikar, Madhu Deshpande, Jayant Kardile, Bapu Kardile and Anna Pawar travelled far and wide in Sindh. Swami Ramananda Teerth, the leader of the Hyderabad liberation movement, and his associates were convinced of the importance of the Seva Dal’s activities. The praise showered on the Seva Dal by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mridulaben Sarabhai and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan also contributed to its expansion. The Seva Dal activists were particularly drawn towards the revolutionaries of the 1942 movement. The students from the Hyderabad state had participated in the Vande Mataram satyagraha and many of them came to Maharashtra for their further education. They came into contact with the Seva Dal activities at the various places where they had moved to after leaving the Hyderabad state. The Seva Dal was expanding rapidly even in the Nizam’s dominions. At one point there were eight Seva Dal centres actively functioning in Hyderabad city itself. It was, of course, impossible for a young man like Narahar Kurundkar to keep away from the Seva Dal. But the times were restive and tumultuous. Kurundkar and Sevadal


Though the country had become independent, the Nizam had not merged his state into India. The people of Hyderabad were being singed by the high-handed activities of the Razakars. Many centres of the anti-Nizam movement came to be established throughout Maharashtra. The enthusiastic young men and women belonging to the Seva Dal played an important role in their activities. Vijayendra Kabra, Bansilal Laddha, Kaka Deshmukh, all of them Seva Dal activists of those times were at the forefront of this movement. It was also in this manner that the youth of Hyderabad came into closer contact with the Seva Dal. The bulk of the leadership of the Hyderabad liberation movement had socialist leanings. Before the Quit India movement, Nanasaheb Goray had been imprisoned in the Nizam’s territories at the Gulbarga prison. Shirubhau Limaye played an important role in supplying arms to the activists of the Hyderabad liberation movement. All these were closely involved with the Seva Dal activities. This is how Kurundkar was drawn into the Seva Dal family. The Nizam’s Hyderabad was merged into India and soon afterwards, with the linguistic reorganization of the country, vanished into the history books. Political activities wound down, and the activists now had some time on their hands. These troubled times caused a break in Kurundkar’s higher education. He married during this period and had to work as a secondary school teacher in Nanded for a living. This was the time when Kurundkar’s talents flowered in all directions. He was guiding his students towards the Seva Dal and inculcating its ideas and spirit in them. Now Marathwada had become his principal field of action. Dr. Bapu Kaldate, Prabhakar Waikar, and in Latur and in the surrounding areas, Jeevandhar Rairkar, Chandrakant Deulgaonkar, Vasu Bembalkar and much later Dr. Narayan Dole,

VI | Kurundkar and Sevadal among others were working hard for the spread of the Seva Dal. Kurundkar helped in creating the ideological foundations of the Seva Dal.

It was during this period that Kurundkar resumed his higher education that had earlier been interrupted by events and moved from his secondary school to become a faculty member at the People’s College, Nanded. He embarked on the serious study of diverse subjects. In the long summer vacations, he devoted such amount of time as was necessary for the activities of the Seva Dal. Of those who contributed the lion’s share in the intellectual formation of the Seva Dal, Acharya S.D. Javdekar, Acharya S.J. Bhagwat, Raosaheb Patwardhan, Annasaheb Sahasrabuddhe, due to advancing age, and S.M. Joshi, N.G. Goray and Shirubhai Limaye, due to their multifarious political activities could not devote adequate time for the Dal and its activities. With independence, the responsibility of establishing and building-up a progressive political party that would serve as an alternative to the Congress had fallen on the shoulders of these individuals, and because of this, there was a sense that, as far as the Dal was concerned, a vacuum of sorts had come into existence. This vacuum was ably and skilfully filled by Kurundkar. Since Kurundkar was not connected in any way with day-to-day running of a political party nor with power politics of any kind, his personality and calibre were completely compatible with the Seva Dal’s ideological framework, and soon he embarked on wide-ranging intellectual tours, on behalf of the Seva Dal, outside of Marathwada. Dr. R.S. Ambike was a committed activist of the Seva Dal. On his sixtienth birthday, he virtually demanded of Kurundkar that he should write a book putting forth the Seva Dal’s perspective and position on a wide range of issues. He sent off to Kurundkar a long list of questions, which he felt were important so as to orient and enlighten the activists of the Seva Dal, and Kurundkar in turn sent back their answers, written in a refreshingly cheerful style. The Seva Dal published the resultant book with the title ‘Vata Majhya-Tujhya’. It was thus that Dr. Ambike’s Diamond Jubilee was celebrated in a novel manner. The Seva Dal had accepted five core values, and they were Nationalism, Democracy, NonSectarianism in terms of both Caste and Religion, Equality and Socialism, and a Scientific Temper. An insightful and discerning exposition and discussion of these values can be seen in the book which has now become significant part of the Seva Dal’s intellectual formation.

Kurundkar and Sevadal


When the Seva Dal ventured into educational activities by initiating study camps and seminars for those teachers who believed in the values of the organisation, it was Kurundkar who shouldered most of the responsibilities. It was he who skilfully demonstrated, that it was possible to frame the courses for these camps and seminars, which would be in consonance with the existing syllabi in the field of higher education, by providing them with a background and frame of reference. He effectively enlightened the participants through his lectures on History and Marathi literature. It was impossible to imagine or undertake such a sort of an educational activity without the presence and guidance of Kurundkar. Furthermore, he made it a point to attend the study camps and seminars, lecture series or gatherings, organised by the Seva Dal at places throughout Maharashtra. His contribution to the intellectual formation of the Seva Dal in the last 15 odd years is without a parallel. It is probable that often the critical faculty is missing in volunteer organisations like the Seva Dal. Kurundkar had imbibed the Marxist historical and critical approach to all events and issues. Marxism provides the discipline necessary to objectively evaluate reality and at the same time provides individuals with the requisite courage to change that very reality. Many in India who believe in Marxist ideology have been unable to make sense of Indian reality in a holistic manner. Their approach, unknowingly, is often derivative of foreign models, and their predictions about the future often fail due to the shortcomings in their analysis of the Indian reality. History evidences that some of Marx’s predictions did not come true. Marx was one of the geniuses of his times and it was, of course, impossible that he would have been able to predict the transformations brought about by the coming of the nuclear age. Kurundkar’s analysis of the Indian reality was different from that of the stereotypical and dogmatic Marxists and hence his conclusions were equally different. Caste and religion in India constitute a strange and puzzling reality. By itself, it will not be altered merely by changes either in the domain of politics or in that of economics. Kurundkar believed that it has to be

treated independently. His analysis of Hindu and Muslim communalism was more logical than that

VIII | Kurundkar and Sevadal of his contemporaries. His thinking had not been impaired by the exigencies of electoral party politics which were a feature of democracy. His understanding of these phenomena stood on firmer ground for it was based on his understanding and experience of the rule of the Nizam. He was a witness to attempts made by the Arya Samaj to uproot caste discrimination and caste distinctions in the Marathwada region. He had had first hand experience of the secular behaviour of Swami Ramananda Teerth. He had heard the ardent entreaties of the Sarvodaya activists who sought the divine dispensation for all. Kurundkar exposed the character of both the justification of Muslim communalism offered the so-called progressives, as well as the support extended to Hindu communalists by the so-called ‘patriotic nationalist’ Hindus who at the same time lambasted Muslim communalism, and thereby made the Seva Dal’s position on secularism crystal clear by cleansing it of inconsistencies and contradictions. His brutally frank analysis of the ideologies of both M.S. Golwalkar and the Jamat-i-Islami strengthened the positions of the Seva Dal on this count. Kurundkar scrutinised the pre-independence thinking on this issue in an unbiased manner and developed a new balanced and rationalist position. His writings on the same issue certainly helped in orienting scholarly expositions on the same in the right direction. He attracted a large group of admirers among the youth, not just in the Marathwada region but also outside it. This enhanced the influence of the Seva Dal. Kurundkar proudly advertised his association with the Seva Dal among the intellectuals. He was fluent not just in Marathi but in Hindi too. The activists of the Seva Dal used to feel that he should conduct study camps outside the Marathi speaking world. But soon he started keeping poor health and that restricted his travelling. Hence, he could not fulfil the expectations of the Seva Dal activists. Then came the Emergency. During this period, Kurundkar quite effectively

accomplished the task of enlightening the masses. As a result of his activities, the Seva Dal, too, received guidance as to why and how the Emergency was to be opposed. It was a mystery as to how Kurundkar, in the aftermath of his illness, generated the physical strength necessary for such an endeavour. The dazzling glory of Kurundkar’s tongue and pen could be observed during those dark days. For a short period, a rift did develop between him and some of the Seva Dal activists mainly because of Kurundkar’s behaviour as well as due to some of the positions that he had taken. It is beyond doubt that the critical and questioning attitude that he had adopted and nurtured was responsible for this state of affairs. This was a somewhat unhappy chapter in Kurundkar’s life. This breach was an extremely painful experience for all those involved, for there was deep affection towards each other on both sides. The sacred thread that he wore, his son’s thread ceremony, the manner in which his daugther’s wedding took place, and rather partisan and legalistic manner in which he expressed his opinion on the issue of the renaming of the Marathwada University to S.M. Joshi, all disappointed his admirers, and the Kurundkar who had expended his energies in clarifying doubts for the Seva Dal as an organisation became suspect. Many forgot the commonplace truth that it is impossible to be in complete agreement with another individual. Many also forgot that one’s present day positions and notions are not always the same of as those of the recent past. Many also failed to make the necessary but subtle distinction that needs to be made between a person’s ideas and his actual behaviour. Kurundkar who once participated with marked enthusiasm in the Seva Dal’s activities was now ill at ease in involving himself with the organisation. It is true that an individual’s behaviour often becomes an obstacle in understanding his or her intellectual positions and range, and one should never lose sight of his or her limitations. Something of this kind happened in the case of Kurundkar. These differences of opinions were not as unbridgeable as they seemed. The gap that had opened up soon narrowed with time. Despite the differences, a comfortable working relationship, marked

by decency and mutual regard, did develop between Kurundkar and some of the Seva Dal activists. Kurundkar significantly contributed in ensuring that Annasaheb Sahasrabuddhe’s autobiography ‘Mazhi Ghadan’ (My Upbringing) emerged as a polished readable text. The remaining misgivings were dispelled with the speech on reservations that he delivered before the Seva Dal activists. We pressed him to write out the speech for us. We made many plans to yoke him to various tasks in the coming summer months. He had addressed a study camp at Dhule on the eve of the Emergency. Selected activists from Antar

X | Kurundkar and Sevadal Bharati and the Seva Dal constituted the participants. He had analysed with great insight the role and contribution of many an Indian leaders in the making of modern India. We wanted to press him to write it out. But that was not to be.... Kurundkar also developed affectionate relationships with the families of Seva Dal activists. In public meetings and in debates, the sharper side of his personality was on display. But once he arrived at the homes of the Seva Dal activists, the genial aspects of his personality brightened up the atmosphere. With small talk and insightful comments, he enjoyed his meals. He enlivened his hosts. His demeanour then was then much more human. Teasing and harmless mockery was his favourite pastime. He raptly held the attention of everyone in the house. He was the advisor to many young activists of the Seva Dal in matters concerning their personal lives. Despite his alleged drawbacks or the so-called limitations of his nature, he was regarded as one of them by many and a close relationship often did develop. Many were often dazzled by the vehement manner in which he spoke and argued, but it was in informal and personal encounters that the softer side of his personality was revealed. He departed from this world when he was in demand from all quarters, when all longed for his company. But he left behind him a rich intellectual legacy for the Seva Dal. But was this for the Seva Dal alone? The Seva Dal was merely the pretext for the critical discussion of the ideological

foundations of Indian nationalism that is being presented here in the form of a Socratic dialogue. Some more questions and answers were sought to be added so as to make this book a more complete one, but that again was not to be. But the available questions and answers point to a direction and also provide strength and impetus for our future journey. The Hindi translation of this book titled ‘Vichar Teerth’ has been published by Antar Bharati. (Now, we have its English version at the behest of the Narhar Kurundkar Advanced Studies and Research Centre). Salutations to Kurundkar’s memory. Yadunath Thatte

Pathways to a Progressive India 1.Generally, what are the factors that are regarded as being constitutive of a Nation? Of these, which one is the basic and fundamental factor? Nation is not something that can be perceived by the senses. First and foremost, we must understand that Nation is a concept which has been formulated and accepted by a civilized society. Some feel that by regarding Nation as a mere concept, we diminish its importance. This is because we believe that a concept is something that does not exist in reality or is, to some extent, untrue. This is a belief that we must examine thoroughly, and then correct. Human beings exist, in the sense of a bodily, that is a physical or corporeal, existence. Differences exist among them in terms of gender and age. But a Friend, Wife, Neighbour are also concepts. Civilization verily rests on such concepts which have struck deep roots into the minds of the society at large. Freedom and slavery, justice and injustice, similarly are concepts. What does it mean when we say that humans who had led an animal existence became civilized? It means that they created a culture. Religion, Ethics and Nation are all concepts which in turn are products of a civilized and cultured existence. But because they

have been derived from civilization and culture, they have become an integral part of the life and existence of every civilised and cultured human being’s life to such an extent that now it is impossible for humans to exist as humans without them. Nation is one of the many fundamental concepts that human civilization and culture have created. Such concepts have come to occupy such an important position in the lives of humans that not merely one or two but thousands of them are ready to lay down their lives as well as kill in thousands for its sake. Once we bear this in mind, it must be understood that, by describing Nation as a concept, we are not diminishing its importance but in fact are trying to weigh upon in an appropriate manner, its exact importance. The basis of Nation, in its essence, is the feeling of Oneness or Unity. The concept of Nation is similar to that of Family. The feeling is that those who belong to the Family are mine, and those who do not are not. This feeling of Oneness is the sole basis of Nationhood. The others factors merely assist in strengthening this feeling. To some extent, this feeling of Oneness comes about due to shared traditions. It is by deliberately strengthening this feeling that Nations are created, formed and come into existence. If this process of strengthening is conducted in the wrong direction, there is a possibility that this process of Nation-building might receive a setback. A common religion no doubt assists in fostering a feeling of Oneness, but instances from the world over demonstrate that it is not enough. Europe was entirely Christian, but it could not become a single Nation. If we take into account the history of Islam and that of Buddhism, it becomes obvious that a common religion did not prove to be of much use in the formation of Nations. It is simplistic to assume that a Nation can be created, or that an existing one would continue to survive because of a common religion. Despite a common religion, there may arise a feeling of being discriminated against or being treated unjustly which would undermine this feeling of unity, and then some people might decide to establish a Nation on the basis of race. Likewise at times, language may come in handy and may be seen as more useful than race. This process has taken place

throughout Europe and Nations have come into existence on a linguistic basis. It is because of these two reasons that the efforts to constitute a Nation in India on the basis of Hinduism have failed. The youth of today need to understand that we have not adopted a non-sectarian stance or one of religious neutrality, because the Muslims constitute a numerically large minority in the country, and because protecting them is our duty, something that which we have in turn has been derived from our liberal and tolerant tradition. In the pre-independence days, serious attempts were made to create a Nation of the Hindus which in turn would be based on Hinduism. But it was the Hindus themselves who were opposed to creating a Nation on the basis of Hinduism. The ‘Untouchables’ and the Adivasis were simply not interested in such a Nation, and not just this, they were actively opposed to it. The Tamils of South India who believed in the distinctiveness of their race, language and history, were not interested, and neither were the Sikhs of the North. Linguistic pride had grown to such an extent that rather than see their province of Bengal partitioned between India and Pakistan, some Bengalis preferred a united independent Bengal. Since the people of diverse races, languages and castes have come together in the Hindu society and not everybody has the same affection or concern for Hinduism, it is must be realised on the evidence of the history of Hinduism that any attempt to establish a Nation in India on the basis of religion would lead to the break-up of our existing Nation. This does not of course mean that religion is not a force to reckon with. It is certainly one. We observe all Hindus coming together during a riot. We have also seen that in the preindependence period, all Muslims coming together in the name of religion. It is not the case that the religion of the Hindus is a hindrance to their coming together or that the religion of the Muslims favours the process of coming together. During the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, the Hindus, the majority community, had come together on the basis of language, and some leaders of the movement had in fact warned that if the issue was not resolved well in time, then the option of leaving the Indian Union would have had to be seriously considered. Religion, language and race, thus, prove useful in the short term by facilitating

the coming together for immediate purposes. This is what happened during the partition. But after the partition, newer conflicts emerged between the Sindhis, the Punjabis and the Pathans, and the conflict between the Bengali Muslims, on one hand, and the rest, on the other, became even sharper. Muslims have fought against each other even in the past. Hence Iran and Afghanistan are separate countries. The Arabic speakers have fought against each other leading to the creation of a number of Arab states. This rule holds good in all times and circumstances. Religion is a unifying force no doubt and it does bring people together. But there exist many other forces in this world. Hence, religion alone by itself cannot keep people together. What is true of religion is also true of language, history and race. In a sense each human being is different from the other one. If differences between one another are strongly emphasized upon, then even language, race and religion, or even all of them put together cannot help create a Nation. In this context, geographical contiguity also should be taken into consideration. This, too, by itself does not lead to the formation of a Nation. Geographical contiguity in fact leads to territorial disputes between the countries. Common political aspirations, common traditions, a common religion and history, all these factors, no doubt, are helpful to a certain extent in bringing people together, but these are merely secondary factors. Nations wherein these factors are present but a feeling of Oneness is absent will breakup into pieces. It is only when a feeling of Oneness is present that Nations come into existence. The most important obstacle in the emergence and formation of this feeling of Oneness is the feeling of being unjustly treated. This feeling leads to divisive tendencies, and such tendencies utilise whichever factor, be it religion, language or race, they find expedient. In any given country, these two processes are underway. Laws, economic planning, the existence of a central government, means of communication, common aspirations, etc, enhance the feeling of Oneness. Poverty, non-fulfilment of basic needs, disparity, all these enhance the feeling of being unjustly treated. In a country like India, the factors of religion, language and race among others are available to serve as the bases for consolidating the feeling of being

unjustly treated. This feeling often manifests itself in various kinds of divisive tendencies. Hence, in a country like India the enhanced production of essential goods and services, the modernization of the social ethos and the adoption of socialist measures would serve as factors underpinning the existence of the Nation. In backward countries, nationalism and socialism are mutually complementary and strengthen each other. Those who love their Nation should attempt to remove all kinds of disparities, whether social, political or economic. It is only, thus, that its fabric would be strengthened, and those who desire equality should work to ensure that the Nation survives and remains intact. No Nation splits apart very easily. Destruction on a mass scale accompanies such a division. Hence, Nations that come into existence as a result of partition are weaker, more backward, poorer and are characterised by even more severe disparities. The fundamental basis of the concept of the Nation is feeling of Oneness. On the one hand, a common State, common aspirations, common history, etc, are the factors that help create this feeling, and on the other, the concepts of equal opportunity and social justice strengthen this feeling. Deliberate attempts should be made to put into practice these two concepts so as to put the Nation which now has a State of its own on an even keel and ensure that it becomes a civilised one. 2. What are the limitations of Nationalism? What are the defining characteristics of a blind and aggressive Nationalism? This can be easily understood if one imagines a series of concentric circles. In the large circle named the entire human race, my country constitutes a smaller one. Then comes the circle that is my country, then my province, then my region, then my district, my taluka, my home town, my area, the lane I live in, the circles get smaller and smaller as one moves closer to one’s own family. Such circles are not always geographically defined. There are circles of castes, religion, race, language, etc. All these circles occupy an important position in an individual’s life. A given individual is connected with the rest of the society by hundreds of such ties. To consider only one of them as important and the rest as meaningless is to set up an obstacle in the

unconstrained development of culture and civilization. It is on this count that a distinction can be made between an intelligent nationalism on one hand and a blind and aggressive nationalism on the other. A blind nationalism can only be identified as such depending on the context. In the context of contemporary India, we should ask ourselves a few questions. For about a century and a half, India was enslaved by Britain. Now, both of them are separate countries, independent of each other. Now, can the two be friends on matters of mutual concern and interests forgetting the past? There are those who believe that India is the natural enemy of Britain or vice-versa, and hence the enmity between the two should continue and remain as it is. I would describe them as blind nationalists. Both countries are inhabited by human beings, and I believe that human beings can be friends with each other. But the question becomes more problematic when we replace Britain with either America or Russia. This is so because both America and Russia seek international dominance. Is it possible for us to become friends with either of the two while at the same time retaining our independence? I would regard a firmly negative answer to this question as a sign of blind nationalism. The question becomes even more problematic when posed in the case of Pakistan. Canada and America have forgotten their past enmities and have now become friends. Is it possible for the two, India and Pakistan, to become friends? I would term those who firmly believe that this is impossible as blind nationalists. Here I am constantly posing the question of whether this is possible. The answer to the question as to whether Britain is a friend of India would depend on the context, but it is imperative that the question as to whether Britain and India can become friends has to be answered in the affirmative. Same is the case with Pakistan. For the last two decades or so, Pakistan has nurtured its enmity with India. I think it is possible that Pakistan will behave as an enemy with India, yet I think that the two countries can become friends. Why do I think so is something that I occasionally ask myself.

If one takes an overview of ancient history, one sees that, once upon a time the Indian culture had spread its wings to cover Ceylon, Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and to the east up to Indonesia. Is it my duty to incorporate into my country those areas which we possessed at some point of time in the past, and those territories which were once linked with us politically, again at some point of time in history? I would describe all those who seek to define the boundaries of their country by relying on temporary historical reality, and those who today seek to translate into reality the very same reality by relying on brute force, as blind and aggressive nationalists. The feeling that our culture is the oldest as also the one superior to all other and hence it is in the proper scheme of things that it should rule the rest of the world is born out of a distorted understanding of history. The belief that just because, at some point of time, Muslims came into India from the outside, they should be driven out or at the least reduced to the status of secondary citizens, or that that just because they enslaved us in the past, it is, in today’s times, right and proper that we should enslave them, or that just because at some point in the past, the ancestors of today’s Muslims were Hindus, all Muslims living in India should be converted to Hinduism, or again that at some point in history just because Afghanistan was a part of India, it is correct to extend our boundaries to include it, are, all of them, products of a distorted understanding of history. I regard that nationalism which is based on such a distorted understanding as a blind and aggressive one. Is it the case that I regard everything that I do not agree with as being blind and aggressive? This is, of course, not true. History tells us that not only was Afghanistan once a part of India but also that the Aryan culture did not extend beyond the Vindhya mountains into the south. That I have a right to extend my boundaries to include such areas as were once upon a time a part of my country is one thing. Its flip side is that I should be ready to abandon those areas where my ancestors were absent. If one chooses to translate these two principles into practice, then the only logical outcome would be the end of our country as we know it today. There was no part of the Earth up to the

North Pole where my culture did not prevail at some point or the other, and if consider the history of any one region of the territory of India, then there was a time when my culture did not prevail over it. The ancestors of many of the Muslims in India were Hindus, but it is equally correct that the ancestors of many of the Hindus in India were once upon a time not Hindus and the Aryans too had once entered India from other lands. Espousing, implicitly or explicitly, the objective of imposing one’s own religion, culture or traditions on others means an aggressive nationalism. This aggressive nationalism selects from the past only those aspects which it finds convenient for its own purposes. This is not to say that it selects only useful aspects but also picks up useless ones and hence it should be called a blind form of nationalism. The argument that it is entirely fitting that today one should push into slavery those who had enslaved us in the past is not applicable only to the Muslims, but also to the upper class-upper caste Hindus who had enslaved the rest of the society. Is it then fitting that those who proclaim the virtues of a Hindu state, who in turn are the inheritors of the legacy of these very upper class-upper caste Hindus, should be enslaved today? This question must be answered by these votaries of such a state. The intelligent nationalism is rooted in the present. Its principal characteristics are strengthening unity on the basis of a just society and combating all aggressive tendencies with all the energy at its disposal. Intelligent nationalism tries to strengthen all that exists by making it even more just. It acknowledges the right of everyone else to exist. Hence, intelligent nationalism always strives to be friendly or amenable to all. These attempts may not succeed but they are undertaken so as to befriend all. Hence, India has put forth the idea that all countries should learn to part with their sovereignty to some extent so as to make the world a more just place. Intelligent nationalism thus means a foreign policy of advocating friendship, making attempts in that direction, but repelling invasions, and an internal policy of providing equal opportunity and justice for all. Aggressive nationalism entails a foreign policy of advocating the

impossibility of friendship and of imposing something on others, and an internal policy of avoiding the creation of an egalitarian society today till the dreams of the past are fulfilled. 3. When did the idea of an integrated nation emerge in India and how did it evolve? What are the obstacles that today lie in the way of its further development? How can emotional integration be achieved? The word ‘Rashtra’ (Nation) is an ancient one. It appears even in the Vedic literature. But it would be incorrect to assume that just because the word is an ancient one, the concept is equally an ancient one. The word ‘Utkranti’ (Evolution) too is an ancient one and appeared first in the Upanishads. But it would be foolish to regard the presence of this word as denoting the existence of the idea of evolution in the modern sense. This is because in ancient literature ‘Utkranti’ means Death. Something similar is the case with ‘Rashtra’. Desh, janapada, vishvarajya, rashtra, these words have been in usage since the ancient times. Rashtra was certainly not used in those times in the sense in which we use it today. Then ‘Rashtra’ denoted a small group. If we consider the history of Maharashtra (literally a great nation), a province of India, we would realise that Maharashtra has been made up of a number of nations. We find references in the ancient period to nationalities like the Malla rashtra, the Gopa rashtra, etc. Then the term ‘Rashtra’ meant nothing more than a given group and the territories under its control. The groups and its members were important and not the territory they controlled for these groups were constantly on the move and thus the territories they inhabited changed constantly. Thus, one can say that in the ancient times, India was populated by many nationalities belonging to the NegritoAustraloid race. Later many nationalities belonging to the Dravidian race continuously arrived from the South and the same was the case with the nationalities of the Europoid race who arrived in a steady stream from the North. Much later, various other nations did arrive on the scene. So, India is made up of many such nations. This is a very narrow conception of the word ‘Nation’. Later on the feeling of Oneness spread among people who lived over a much

larger territory and this was because of the factors of religion and culture. Generally speaking, it was at the beginning of the Christian era that the people living over this vast region ranging from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Takshashila to Gauhati began to regard themselves as being of the same kind and started to being considered as such. It was Hinduism, Buddhism and Sanskrit literature which contributed greatly to the fostering of this cultural unity of India. But the word Hindu was simply not in use in those days. It should be noted that it was the Muslims who started the practice of describing all those living on the banks of the Sindhu (Indus) river and in the regions beyond to the east as ‘Hindus’. The following words in Arabic - Hindu, Hindawi and Runud- are all derived from Sindhu. Today Indian Muslims travel to Saudi Arabia for the Haj pilgrimage. There they are referred to as ‘Ahle Runud’ or those from the land of the Sindhu. The idea that a Nation consists of all those living in a particular territory, irrespective of caste, religion, race, age or gender, can be discerned in the point of view of all liberal-minded and tolerant Hindu rulers, as well as those Muslim rulers who were of the same mindset. But it acquired a precise and neat form during the British rule. In that sense, the feeling of Oneness in India is modern and of recent vintage, and it must be admitted that the British played an important role in fostering this feeling of Oneness. We generally assume that the Muslims enslaved the nation named India, and then in turn India was enslaved by the British. But this is a half-truth. What we should say is that those areas which we today recognise as being a part of India were conquered by the Muslims, and that the Hindus did not possess equal rights as the Muslims during Muslim rule and thus the Hindu population was reduced to the status of slaves. India as a nation hardly ever fought against the Muslims. The Rajputs were not interested in liberating Kabul, Kandahar and Kashgar, regions that the Muslims had conquered. It was about 175 years after the Muslims had conquered these areas that they captured Delhi. But the South never fought against this sort of aggression. About a century after they took Delhi, the Muslims attacked the South. The point of this discussion is not to emphasise that India was not at that point of time ruled by a single ruler. In the olden days, the various rulers did unite in pursuit of certain objectives.

The Hindu rulers never felt that they should unite against the Muslims. Even the Nimbalkars, close relations of Shivaji, served the Muslim kingdoms for many generations. Hence, one cannot say that India as a nation was enslaved by the Muslims. That is why I have said that the Muslims conquered certain territories and the Hindu population living there was enslaved. Even before the arrival of the Muslims in India, the bulk of the Hindu population were reduced to the condition of slavery in any case. The difference was that these Hindus were the slaves of their coreligionists, the upper caste Hindus. The Adivasis and the nomadic tribes were never Hindu, either in terms of religion or culture. All these regions were conquered by the British, and the Indians of those times felt that the Hat Wearers were the rulers now. They had swallowed up the Peshwa’s dominions. The bulk of the Hindu populace did not feel that they had been enslaved. Hence, we should also note that the nationalism that we are advocating is something that is yet to come into existence, which is something that we have accepted as a matter of fact, or is something that has yet to be translated into reality. Equal rights, equal and common citizenship, democracy, a secular form of government, social and economic justice are the values which have contributed to the realisation of this new national feeling. This new nation is going to inculcate and practice these new values. Nationalism, democracy, socialism and secularism are values that are interlinked with each other. The last three of them are components which, in fact, shape the first one that is nationalism and strengthen it. Since India has had a history of social and economic slavery, the Indian nationalism as it exists today has not yet accepted the values of democratic socialism, but rather it is the idea of democratic socialism that has given birth to the newly-emerging Indian nation. Hence it would be wrong to regard divisive and secessionist tendencies as a new phenomenon, but rather as a long-standing ailment that that had never been cured in the first place. Equal opportunity of development for all and social and economic justice are the values that contribute to the emotional integration of the nation, and thereby contribute to bringing about national unity besides contributing to nation building. I feel that those

keep on harping upon the glory of the nation but deny the necessity of equal opportunity and that of justice are dishonest nationalists and are, in fact, the real obstacles to national unity. I have not mentioned linguism, regionalism, communalism, casteism, etc as divisive forces because of the fact languages exist, and people love their respective languages and have, as such, the expectation that the affairs of their government should be conducted in their own language is a reasonable one. Similar is the case with religion and castes. Whenever objections are raised against equality and justice, not, of course, in the name of religion, they are divisive for they weaken the nation. Similarly, whenever such objections are put forth in name of religion and castes either to establish one’s distinct identity or to retain it, they too, in my opinion, are equally divisive. Objections to land ceiling and the imposition of limits on property rights are as harmful to the country as the demand for the retention of separate personal laws for the Muslims. I believe that all those in this Indian nation, which is still in the process of being formed, who are opposed to equality and justice for all are the ones opposing emotional integration, and that those who have a vested interest in the maintenance of the status quo are obstacles to the realisation of the national interest. 4. Given that the practice of untouchability still exists in a deeprooted manner within the Hindu society, is it appropriate to advocate the ideal of ‘Unity in Diversity’ and describe it as a characteristic of Indian culture? When we say that untouchability still exists in the Hindu society, we should try to understand that phenomenon in a holistic manner. When we talk of untouchability, we divide Hindu society into two segments, the touchables on one hand, and the untouchables on the other. This division does not correspond entirely to reality. The truth is that those castes which are regarded as untouchables also regard each other as untouchables, and not all the touchables possess the same social status. Though the Brahmins are regarded as the highest among the Hindu castes, some Brahmins regard the presence of some other

Brahmins as being polluting, while the Jangam community regards all Brahmins as being inferior to them. Untouchability is an extreme manifestation of an unjust society and is based on inequality. In the 19th century, the British put an end to the sale and purchase of human beings. As long as it was in vogue, there were a large number of slaves in India. These slaves were not untouchables, but their situation was worse than that of the untouchables. Furthermore, there were tribal groups who had been deprived of any contact with the urban-based culture. A filthy society, based on the slavery of some and the exploitation of crores, does not, to me, mean a diverse society. The very idea of ‘Unity in Diversity’ is opposed to that of a society like that of the Hindus, characterised by hierarchical inequality. Diversity assumes that all its components are equal on all counts. India has been enriched by the equal opportunities offered to all languages to develop themselves, equal rights and status for all languages, and also by a wide range of diversities including that of religious faiths, deities, traditions and customs, seasons, attires, and opinions. This diversity is significant because it adds another facet to our democracy and individual freedom. But ‘Unity in Diversity’ does not lie in retaining the traditional forms of injustice but in fact lies in doing away with them altogether. The older mode of life was limited in its outlook and was centred around many things. The newer needs of a newer mode of life create newer ways of unifying the country. Of these, focused planning is one, and the setting up of various kinds of factories in various parts of the country and the cultivation of a variety of crops across the country are some other aspects of diversity. Common civil and criminal laws are another means of creating unity for then citizenship become common to all. But the manner in which people get married, and traditions and customs related to it can be diverse. The basis of equality is equal treatment to all, and the same may serve as the basis of diversity. ‘Unity in Diversity’ is a principle of democracy. The history of Hindu society is hardly that of ‘Unity in Diversity, but that of hundreds of mutually distinctive groups which cared a fig about the others, and which were organised in a manner to lead, in all

certainty to their own destruction. We make a mistake when we state that the history of the Hindus is that of ‘Unity in Diversity’. Assuming that that it is, then if the persistence of untouchability was a consequence of this principle of ‘Unity in Diversity’, then we must ask ourselves the question whether this principle can prove to be useful for fulfilling our objective of bringing about an equal society. By assuming that it will prove so, we are committing a second mistake. If those Hindus who have a vested interest in the existing Hindu social structure use the term ‘Unity in Diversity’ to describe an unequal and unjust society in order to hide their orthodox and reactionary mindset, then we should expose their deceit. 5. It is often said one should take pride in one’s traditions, but is it not the case that traditions and customs often prove to be obstacles in the path of social reform? Taking pride in one’s traditions is used in two different senses. Firstly, it means being proud of everything that is old and of all those practices sanctified by tradition. In this sense, it is obvious that traditions and customs create a serious obstacle to the process of social reform. But the second sense is also important. Not everything that has come down to us from the past is worthless or bad. Some things, in fact, are a mixture of the good and the bad. Some things are merely talked of as being desirable or are only advocated but not practised. Every society selects from among those that have come down to it from the past such things that it wishes to retain and discards the rest. No society can do away with its past at a stroke. Hence, there should be no objection to taking pride in those things which a given society has decided to retain. For instance, in the past, people used to say that the Brahmins should not worry about earning a living, that the society around would take care of it, that they should acquire knowledge in a devoted and diligent manner, and in an equally devoted and diligent manner impart it, that they should not charge any fees for imparting or pay for acquiring knowledge. There are be a few instances, here and there, to show that something of this sort might have happened in the past. But if we take our society as a whole, I doubt whether in

the past this was the case everywhere, but verily it was advocated so. If we are going to adopt this practice in the name of tradition, then there is nothing wrong about it. If, while accepting in principle the position that one should be proud of one’s customs and traditions, one also has the liberty to select those traditions of which one wishes to be proud of, then, in such a case, this pride does not become an obstacle in the path of social change. The problem with the efforts directed towards social reform in India is that most of the reformers hail from the upper castes. They adopt reforms as a programme or as a plan of action. Yet there exists a latent affinity for the old social order in their minds and this does not let them denounce this very order. The entire manner of advocating social reform consists in denouncing the recent past and advocating the virtues, sincerely or otherwise, of the old, bygone days, and that is why there is mindless and uncritical talk, over and over again, of preserving one’s traditions. 6. The Hindu culture regards the belief that one’s fate, in the sense of one’s deeds in one’s past life, determines the family into which one is born. Does this not then limit the possibilities of human efforts and achievements? In the Mahabharata, Karna says that while my fate determined the family in which I was born, my future lies in my hands. The import of the first part of the statement must be understood properly: If an individual performs good deeds in this life, then his fortunes improve and then in the next birth, he or she is born in a family of high social standing. What the statement that one’s being well-born depends on one’s fate means is that those who are members of the families of a high rank were virtuous in their previous births, and those born in poor families were sinners in their previous births. It also means that if those born into poor families wish to be well-born in their next births, they should perform good deeds in their present one, and performing these good deeds in turn means duly discharging those duties prescribed by one’s own religion as being appropriate to one’s station in life. What should the Shudras do when they are asked to perform good deeds? They should never endeavour to abandon their

Shudra status. They should put up with the humiliations heaped up upon them. They should sincerely serve the rest of society, and should be rest contented with their status as slaves, should ask their fellow caste-men and women to be happy with their lot, and should not only respect their oppressive superiors but rather justify the arrogant behaviour of these superiors. This is what is implied in the prescription that that the Shudras should perform good deeds. Once they are well-born in their next births on the basis of these good deeds, they would be granted a privileged position so that they could oppress the rest. This is a tendentious justification offered for the existing social structure by those who have a vested interest in this society, one that is characterised by slavery. This not only imposes limits on human achievement, but makes slavery appears as fair and justifiable. Hence the claim that the family into which one is born is determined by fate does not inspire an individual to achieve great things, but in fact teaches the abhorrent lesson that one should preserve the status of a slave, consequent upon with birth, with great pride. 7. A belief in re-birth is regarded as a characteristic of Hinduism. This belief has helped organise society and has also ensured that it will continue to exist. Given this, why and how does it become an obstacle in the process of social transformation? The very notion of re-birth is a complex one. No religion has been able to either deny it honestly or accept it honestly. Hinduism believes in re-births but even many other religions like Buddhism, Jainism and the Mahanubhav sect also believe in it. The idea of re-birth is not specific to Hindu or Vedic Aryans but is prevalent among all primitive tribes. But in the case of Hinduism, it has acquired a particular form. Hinduism has put forth the achievement of Moksha as an objective. It means liberation from the cycle of birth and death. If we assume that all those who adhere to and discharge their duties would be liberated, then it obviously follows that, except for sinners, no one would be reborn. This in turn means that all those who have been re-born, whether into families of high social status or into families of a low

social status, are sinners. But Hinduism does not accept this proposition. It is said that only certain, and not all, kinds of good deeds leads one to Moksha. This means that some types of good deeds do not lead to Moksha. But curiously Hinduism does not believe that one should cease to perform those deeds which do not lead to Moksha. Living in this world entails the performance of all kinds of deeds. A sinner has to be re-born as a variety of animals, like insects, canines, felines, porcines. It is only when his sins are equalled by his good deeds, that the sinner is re-born as a human. Now, it follows from this conception that since the quantum of each individual’s sins is equal to that of his or her good deeds, all individuals are equal. But Hinduism does not accept it either. Being born as a Brahmin is a sign of having done good deeds in one’s past births, and being born as a woman is proof of being a sinner in one’s previous births. It is extremely difficult to surmise the exact proportion of sins and good deeds that are required to be born as a Brahmin woman, and hence this entire notion is a complex one. But who or what exactly is it that is re-born? There is no precise answer to this question. Is the corporeal body that is reborn? The answer is certainly in the negative. Is the soul re-born? Again the answer is in the negative. The soul is omnipresent and the very notions of birth and death are not applicable to it and hence it is not re-born. Is there a third factor, apart from the body and the soul? Again the answer is a firm negative. Yet re-births happen. But who or what exactly is that is re-born? A wide variety of answers are offered and there is no agreement. Yet, the notion of re-birth is a pet theory of the Indians. This theory is not only difficult to understand but also difficult to be convinced of. What does it mean when we say that it has served as an organising principle for society? It means that it taught the slaves to justify slavery. In the olden days, leprosy was not a curable disease. It used to stay with the body till it died. Unless we regard this disease and other similar diseases as being components of the organising principle of the body, we cannot accept the proposition

that both the institution of slavery and the mindless and stupid society that accepted and perpetuated it were organised on the basis of some or the other lofty principle. The institution of slavery existed even among those societies which had accepted religions that rejected the idea of re-birth. The notion of re-birth does not cause slavery, neither does its refutation end it. Slavery is an integral part of the feudal social structure that prevails all over the world. All religions have accommodated it, will-nilly, into their system of beliefs. The Hindu society was the first one to undergo a transformation from a one characterised by migratory groups, which a little later settled down to agriculture, to feudalism, and hence it is the Hindus who have the oldest institutionalized form of slavery in the entire world. The other societies underwent such a change several centuries ago. Our society has continued its existence for thousands of years while maintaining the institution of slavery. Even today it has not changed entirely. If this is to be described as an organised society, then it has been organised on the basis of slavery. We often praise our long persistence, but we do not consider the plane on which we have existed or do exist or the quality of our existence. Animals are older than humans. Reptiles are older than animals, and invertebrates are the oldest of all. They are the prey for all others, but they have existed, not a century or two, but for millions of years. We talk of continuous existence with pride but in reality there is a large element of shame in it and this is something that we do not take into consideration. The notion of re-birth has proved to be a great prop to the enslaved Hindu mindset. Needless to say that I do not think that this notion has in any way helped in the moral uplift of humans. It is true that it has only helped slavery. Hence this notion has always been against equality and against social transformation and has been a handmaid to slavery. Despite its being a handmaid to slavery, it was born in semi-civilised primitive societies. It is the joint product of both the fear and the ignorance of the primitive humans. It is not the creation of the high and lofty philosophy of the Hindus.

8. What was the original idea behind the Chaturvarna system and what was its form in those times of yore? Is it correct to state that a social structure based on this system would not be beneficial to independent India? The Chaturvarna system is the one that has been advocated by the Hindu religious scriptures. The oldest reference to this system is in the Purushasukta of the Rig Veda. All the later Hindu scriptures have advocated this system. The Purushasukta refers to the four varnas. The earlier parts of Rig Veda refer only to the three Varnas. Of these, the Vaishyas are mentioned as the ‘Vishas’ which means the rest. This means at some point in time there were three Varnas and later their number increased to four. Jotirao Phule and Babasaheb Ambedkar have opined that the Kshatriyas divided into two segments to form the Kshatriyas and the Shudras. The evidence available to us suggests that there is no basis for holding such a position. If such a division had happened in the first place, it would have occurred in the case of the Vaishyas. It was the Vaishyas that were divided into two segments, the Vaishyas and the Shudras. Scholars seem to be confused about the origins of the Shudras. Some believe that those castes which traditionally were regarded as being untouchables are the ones that belong to the Shudra varna. But these castes and the tribals were never taken into consideration in any discussion of the Varna system. They were referred to as the Panchamas and simply not talked of. The Shudras referred to in the Smriti texts are the artisan castes of today. The belief that the untouchables are the Shudras has led to the rise of many mistaken notions and there is no evidence to support them. I do not believe the claim, that at some point in time, the Varna system existed in India and that later it led to the emergence of the caste system. This is because sociological and anthropological evidence does not support it. However far back one goes into the past, one finds that society has always been divided on the lines of caste, clan or tribe. Hence, I feel that the Varna system as a social structure never existed in the past. The castes which described themselves as Brahmins, those who called themselves Kshatriyas,

and those who described themselves as Vaishyas, all put together constituted about 20 per cent of the population in the ancient times. The remaining castes were described as Shudras. The ancient Indian society was not formed on Varna lines, but rather the Varna system was an attempt at formulating an elaborate justification, logical or fallacious, for the existing state of affairs. The period in which the Smriti texts were authored was the one when the castes were prevalent. According to the Hindu traditions, with the beginning of the Kali Yuga, intermixture of Varnas occurs and as a consequence, castes are created. The Kali Yuga began approximately three thousand years before the Christian era and one finds evidence of castes even earlier. Hence, I believe that the Varna system is a mere figment of imagination. The belief that, at some point in time in the past, one’s Varna status was determined by one’s deeds and inherent qualities also is wrong. The verse from the Bhagawad Geeta that is cited in support of the belief actually states that one’s Varna status in this life is determined by the deeds one has performed in the birth prior to the present one. The reference to the qualities and deeds in the Geeta is not to the qualities that one possesses in this life and to the deeds one performs in this life, but rather to those that one possessed and performed in the previous one. Thus one’s Varna status was determined by the Varna status of one’s parents. The tales in the Puranas that mention non-Brahmins having achieved the status of a Brahmin are actually about people who had Brahmin fathers. Such tales are far and few between and there are other explanations for the occurrence of such phenomena. The Varna system was never in existence, but it did exist as an idea, and it did talk of not one’s parentage and not one’s inherent qualities and deeds determining one’s Varna status. The Varna system is the product of an outdated mindset. It has always lent strength to a reactionary attitude. It is often asked as to why Varna status should not be determined, today, according to one’s inherent qualities as well as one’s deeds. This is question born of ignorance. Knowledge grows out of action or by its being put to use. Unless farmers and agricultural experts come together, farming techniques would not improve at all. Hence, in the

present scientific age, all action is backed by knowledge, and the latter is closely connected with the former. Furthermore, trade, manufacturing, law and armed forces are so closely connected with each other and that each citizen has to perform to some extent or the other the duties of a Brahmin, a Kshatriya, a Vaishya and a Shudra. We should regard the very notion of the Varna system as dated, and hence, discard it. A notion that barely existed in an age characterised by inequality is even more dated and unsuitable for an egalitarian society. All great Indian leaders were nurtured on and nourished by the Hindu religious traditions. These are can broadly divided into three groups. The first one was of those who did not want any change. These orthodox leaders constantly sang the praises of the Varna system. But what do I exactly mean when I say they did not want change? All they wanted was to maintain the social structure as it existed in the 18th century. In the 18th century, the Varna system did not exist in the first place. These leaders adopted a status quoist position by accepting something that had never existed in the first place as something worthy of commanding our reverence. I would humbly state, if no one gets annoyed and irate, that Lokmanya Tilak falls in this group. The second group of leaders was that of liberals and social reformers. These believed that the Varna system did exist at some point of time in the past in a pristine state and that social reform should be undertaken today to return to that state of affairs. These leaders advocated a Varna system based on inherent qualities and deeds. Their programme was new and novel, but their love for the old social structure prevented them from analysing it objectively. Justice Ranade, Mahatma Gandhi and Gurudev Tagore fall in this group. The third consisted of those who were furious at the slavery prevalent in non-egalitarian society. They were against the Varna system and were angry especially with the Brahmins. They felt that the moment the Brahmins ceased to occupy leading positions in Indian society, it would become a truly egalitarian society. These hopes of theirs seem to have failed to come true. Mahatma Phule, Rajarishi Shahu and Dr. Ambedkar would be included in this group.

All those mentioned above are, of course, worthy of our respect. We must present the fundamental aspects of their teachings in a new idiom and a new light. The outdated aspects must be treated as outdated and, hence, better being discarded. Even today some do advocate the Varna system on the grounds of qualities and deeds, being ulterior motives, and some due to their faith in the orthodox conception of Hinduism. The dated aspects of the thoughts of our great leaders must be ignored. The struggle for equality will not go ahead by advocating the Varna system. There is no point in fighting against the Varna system. The real fight is against the caste system. 9. How does the process of social integration take place? And how would it help the realization of the dream of an integrated Indian society? The formation of an integrated society is a process. It occurs step-bystep as the life becomes more and more modern. The inequalities and poverty prevalent in society prove to be an obstacle to this process of integration. A common civil code, compulsory primary education, reduction of disparities, improving the standards of living, protection for the backward classes, and adequate production of goods and services so as to improve the standards of living are the factors that I regard as aspects of the process of national integration. I have deliberately not mentioned the familiar ideas of inter-caste marriages, eradication of untouchability, etc. I believe that with compulsory education for all and the improvement in living standards would considerably enhance the number of adult marriages, that of women in higher education, widow remarriages, and inter-caste marriages. In the present times, it is unlikely that inter-caste marriages would be strongly opposed. Even in the case of interreligious marriages, there is a considerable amount of murmuring but that is all. In the rural areas, the feudal social structure still prevails. Life has not become modern at all. Hence, the problems that appear very severe today will recede into the background with the steady rise in living standards and the equally steady spread of education. I regard the improvement in living standards as the most fundamental aspect of this issue. When once equal rights and equality before law

have been achieved, then a striking rise in living standards can, basically speaking, be considered to be a revolutionary development. Of course, I am not a thorough-going materialist to believe that an improvement in living standards would automatically lead to other desirable changes. All religions and traditions must be treated historically and must be analysed so. What is happening today is that except for Hinduism, no religions are being analysed critically, and the analysis of Hinduism is taking place on the basis of incorrect assumptions. Take for instance, the belief that the Brahmins were the superior-most group in the old social structure. Every society is under the control of those who control the state apparatus, the armed forces, the means of production and manufacturing. Thus, the older social structure was under the control of the Kshatriyas and the Vaishyas. Earning a livelihood by supplying the needs of these two groups was what the Brahmins did. This was their profession. The advocates of equality do not yet find it convenient to state this fact and to provide further details. I do not regard the question of social integration as being merely limited to the Hindus. The integration of the Hindu society per se is an aspect of the wider process of social integration of Indian society. We must take into consideration other religious communities as well. They too should be properly accommodated in this integrated society. Hence, it is in this context that I attach great importance to civil equality. 10. Given that the Hindus constitute an overwhelming majority in India, would not organising the Hindus be the most effective path to creating an integrated Indian nation? The term Hindu Sanghatan used to denote organising the Hindus into an integrated community is a complex one, for it has two separate and distinct meanings, and they are used in a rather cavalier fashion as per one’s own convenience. In the first sense, it means the bringing together of all those who call themselves Hindus and organising them. In the second sense, it means organising all those who call themselves Hindus on the basis of pride in being Hindu. We

should note a few important aspects in this context. In the process of social transformation, the attempts at trying to convince people, using logical reasoning and arguments, that Hinduism as they understand it, that is to say as a religion, does not exist, will not succeed beyond a point. The Hindus do not acquire knowledge of how and what Hinduism is by reading the scriptures. It is acquired through their lived experience. Examples and instances drawn from the scriptures are useless when pitted against the experiences derived from life itself. There are two essential preconditions, if all the Hindus are to be brought together and welded into an integrated whole. This can be done only by abandoning an attitude of glorifying or taking pride in the older social structure and also by ceasing to glorify all those who justified it, for the history of this structure is that of the slavery of the common people. It is wrong to expect that the people would love either the social structure that enslaved them or those who justified this structure. Would it have been possible for thousands of Brahmins to attend the public meeting where Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar publicly burned the Manu Smriti and to praise and loudly applaud this act of his? The first precondition for bringing together all the Hindus is to stop glorifying the old social structure that is to say stop using the word ‘Hindu’. The second one is to enthusiastically welcome and sincerely implement all programmes aimed at eradicating inequalities of the present times and for the upliftment of the backwards. Only secular parties can fulfil these two preconditions, and, hence, it is only they which can unite the Hindu, that is, the Indian masses. It is difficult for all the attempts to unite the Hindus on the basis of a pride in being a Hindu to succeed beyond a point. Since it is impossible to create a modern mindset which accepts one’s own slavery as being justified and reasonable, only the upper classes among the Hindus can be brought together on the basis of such a pride. The dream of uniting the rest of the Hindu masses would be difficult to translate into practice. Basically, the Hindus have not yet adopted a broad-minded attitude and a one of looking honestly at their history. I feel this has been the features of Buddhism. Buddhism is a religion established by a son of

India, and a one which was born in this land. If there is one great gift that India has given to the world, it is not the Shankaracharya but rather it is Gautam Buddha. This is the only Indian religion that fostered scholarship and the arts, which conducted universities, and had a glorious tradition of social service. But there is a rather childish trend among the so-called nationalists of India to look upon Buddhism as a religion that took non-violence to the extremes, as the one that weakened Indian society and as the one obsessed with sorrow. Since Buddhism was against the Vedas, they believed that it was antinational. Despite the examples of China and Japan, how is it that some still refuse to believe that Buddhism does not weaken the society where it is prevalent? When the Muslims came to India as invaders, the border communities that first resisted them were Buddhists. The dishonest ruminations of those who deny these facts will never unite the Hindus, let alone the entire country. The Hindus believe that all religions other than their own are excessively nonviolent, or oppressive or hypocritical, but regard their religion, one which shamelessly justifies slavery, as a flawless and comprehensive institution. The Hindus cannot be united on the basis of such a religion. 11. How is it that we observe such a marked contradiction between Hindu philosophy and its practice? That there exists a marked contradiction between the Hindu philosophy, on one hand, and its practice, on the other, is an illusion skilfully fostered by the modern supporters of Hinduism. We want to state that the philosophy of the Hindus is lofty, majestic, liberal, etc, but that its practice is not so. We also want to further state that its practice was originally quite healthy but that it was corrupted by customs that crept in later. What this argument actually means, according to me, is that those reforms, which have to be implemented- for there is no other option-- have to be accepted, and then boasting, that by doing, so, one is restoring one’s religion back to its original pure and pristine form. Besides we have a lofty philosophical tradition to be proud of. There is one fact that we should accept honestly once and for all: there is nothing in Hinduism that is loftier, more majestic, more liberal, etc, than that what other religions

possess. The Advaita school of philosophy, of which so much is said, largely consists of elements borrowed from Buddhism. Hinduism as a whole was never taken over by this school of thought, and no one has been able to present a logical and convincing exposition of the Advaita philosophy. The Brahmasutras and Adi Shankaracharya’s commentary on them have been of special interest for me and I have studied them closely. On the basis of my studies, I would humbly submit that the Acharya’s teachings and philosophy are far from being logical when compared to the other philosophical schools. These days, everyone seems to have developed an enthusiasm for the message derived from the Advaita school of philosophy: every person’s soul, is in the final analysis, a part of the Ultimate Reality. But this philosophy which talks of each soul being a part of the Ultimate Reality is actually for those who have lost all their thisworldly desires, and what is more surprising is that this philosophical position is not applicable to the Shudras. For all those who regard the world that we live in as real, the existence of discrimination, untouchability, purity and pollution, the large number of deities and gods, the religious rituals, etc, are very real facts. It is only the followers of the Tantra school who had the courage to preach and practise the message of doing away with the discrimination that was characteristic of Hindu society. For these followers of the Tantra school, sexual intercourse and promiscuity were the means to Moksha, and they adopted a position of non-discrimination to enable their practice, which in reality meant that sexual relations with a woman belonging to any Varna were permissible. The Hindu philosophy is not merely religious or spiritual. Even spiritual philosophy can be utilised to justify slavery. Those who accepted the existing divisions in society pointed out that these divisions were necessary and thus justified inequality, while those who preached the Advaita philosophy and unity of all souls claimed that these divisions were imaginary and pretended that they simply did not matter. The philosophy of every society is ultimately in consonance with the prevailing social structure. Differences do exist between the various schools of philosophy. These differences apart, what remains, again, is in consonance with the existing social

structure. Except for a couple of points, the mutually contradictory aspects of these equally mutually contradictory philosophies also are separately in consonance with the existing social structure. In the earlier days, not only did the Dvaita, Vishishtadvaita and the Advaita schools of philosophy justify inequality, but other religions including Buddhism also did the same. Hence the society of the earlier days was an unequal one. The everyday activities of this society perpetuated this inequality. One is compelled to admit that the various schools of philosophy then in existence were in consonance with this unequal society. 12. Given the inequality of the Hindu society, how do we account for the fact that Hinduism survived despite the religious oppression that it faced in the medieval period? It is true that in the medieval ages, the Hindu society was characterised by extreme inequality. It is equally true that Hinduism survived throughout this period. But there is nothing in this seemingly contradictory state of affairs that is not difficult to comprehend. This question that has been posed arises out of a mistaken belief, and that is that equality exists in Islam. The religion that the Prohpet Muhammad propounded was gender unequal. Apart from this inequality, the Prophet gave his approval to only two kinds of inequalities: firstly, the unequal status of the slaves, who did not possess rights equal to that of freedmen, and secondly, the unequal status of the non-Muslims. They too could not possess the same rights as the Muslims. All that the statement that Islam is a religion based on equality means is that it is a religion of equality for all Muslim men. After the Prophet, the Muslims conquered many countries and, hence, the Persians, the Turks, the Afghans etc converted themselves to Islam. But the Arabs never regarded them as their equals as far as social status was concerned. Moreover, Islam was riven with sectarian rivalries. None of these sects regarded the others as their equals. In this manner, Islam lost the strength that it had derived from whatever little nobility of character that it possessed and after this had happened, then later under the leadership of the Turks it emerged as the victor in India.

Among the victorious Muslims, there were three major groups, the Turks, the Pathans and the Persians, who competed with each other for political power. Their mutual enmity was sharp enough for them to massacre each other. Besides, these three conquering groups regarded all those in India who had been converted to Islam by themselves as being inferior in status to them. The conquerors had no desire to extend any rights to these converts. The Muslim rule over India, itself riven with numerous divisions and many kinds of inequalities, could enslave Hindu society, which in turn was even more deeply divided, but could not destroy Hinduism which was in a state of disarray due to these very divisions. We should understand the nature of resistance offered by the Hindus to the Muslims. It was in 637 AD that the Muslims first attacked India. It took another 75 years for them to achieve their first decisive victory. Then to conquer Delhi, they took a further 450 years, and then to conquer the southern-most regions of India, it took them another 125 years. So it took about 675 years from the first Muslim attack on India for the standard of Islam to reach Rameshwar. The Muslims required such a large period to win this land, and yet they did not establish their total control over this country. The Muslim rulers were compelled to tone down to the extent possible their policy of spreading Islam by the strength of their swords due to the large numbers that lived in India and the strong resistance that they offered. But the toning down or minimising the severity of this policy as far as possible in reality meant the massacre of millions over a period of seven centuries. These factors meant that the Muslims could not convert all the Hindus to Islam. They could not break the resistance offered by the Hindus. Despite recruiting Hindus in large numbers into their armies, granting autonomy to their Hindu vassals etc, the Muslims could not completely eliminate the threats to their rule in India. We often ask how it was possible for the Hindus to resist so strongly. This is because we believe that the Hindu society had been weakened and that it had lost its will to resist due to its tolerance of other religions and due to non-violence. This is an absolutely mistaken belief. All the kingdoms in India, small or large, continued to

go to war with each other throughout this period. The Rajput kings possessed huge armies, running into lakhs of soldiers. There were thugs and dacoits everywhere. The kings often skirmished with them. There were quarrels in every town and village. Tribes fought with each other. Besides, there were fights over property. Due to all this, the bloody business of humans killing other humans on a daily basis went on ceaselessly. Non-violent Hindus indulged in it, non-violent Buddhists and Jains indulged in it, in sum, everyone was a participant in this venture. This was so because non-violence was not something that was followed in everyday life. During the medieval times, even the common masses possessed arms. The Hindus were in large numbers. Their armies too were huge. Yet, because Hindu society was in a state of disarray, the Hindus were defeated. We do not ask why and how the Hindus were defeated. We ask how it was that the Hindu society survived in the face of such a huge invasion. The Hindu society which lay in a state of disarray due to an unequal social structure was defeated by the oppression of a similarly unequal society. The victors also possessed a feudal mindset and justified an unequal society. Hence along with the enslavement of the conquered, the Hindus, the inequalities internal to them, that is to the Hindu society, also survived. This is not very difficult to comprehend. The Hindus did not even realise that their internal splits, divisions and rivalries had resulted in their enslavement. They did not make any efforts to heal these divisions or solve these disputes. Rather than regarding themselves as slaves, the upper classes among the Hindus always preferred to curry favours with the conquerors in order to receive whatever crumbs were thrown at them in the form of positions at the new royal courts. The Hindu mindset of preferring to curry favour with the conquerors and to accept slavery and oppression rather than work to end their own internal divisions is nothing short of astonishing. 13. What is exactly meant by the oft-repeated statement that Islam as a religion is aggressive in nature? The answer to this question depends on how we answer the question- what do we mean by Islam. According to Islamic theology,

Islam is based on five fundamental principles. They are as follows : fasting during Ramzan, the Hajj prilgrimage, Namaz, religious charity or Zakat, and lastly, the belief in the existence of a single god, Allah, and that Muhammad was Allah’s prophet. If only these are to be regarded as Islam per se, then there is nothing aggressive in Islam. If you ask any Muslim as to what constitutes Islam, then these five tenets are the answer you would receive. The problem relates not to these five tenets. If this is all that Islam is , then we could easily say that it is just one of the many religions that exist in this world. Unfortunately, the tribal Arab society could not quite digest the message of a religious preacher like the Prophet Muhammad. Tired of the constant attacks, Muhammad left Mecca and yet the attacks did not cease. Finally, left with no option, he had to resort to arms in self-defence. When the prophet of a given religion takes up the sword in selfdefence, the next stage is attacks to defend oneself, and then the next is conquests in order to spread one’s religion. The Muslims believe that Islam is the most superior religion in the world and that it is comprehensive and flawless. I see no reason to complain about this belief for the adherents of every religion believe that their faith is the best of all and that it is flawless. But the Muslims believe that they have the right to and that it is their duty to use arms to spread this most superior religion of theirs throughout the world. Islamic theology accepts the right of the non-Muslims to live in the territories ruled by the Muslims. However, in reality, the Islamic practice of destroying all other faiths, sects or religions, and if that is not possible then humiliating them is quite old. The Muslims of today have no doubts about the reasonableness of this practice. The Muslim stance, which has been in existence throughout the centuries old history of Islam, of claiming that they have the right to impose this most superior religion of theirs on others and to regard adherents of other faiths as inferior, has made Islam aggressive. An age-old practice of the adherents of any religion soon becomes an integral part of that religion, and then all their behaviour becomes aggressive. In this sense, Islam is aggressive.

Any religion that is proselytising in character starts to become aggressive to some extent. Once the use of arms to spread one’s religion is regarded as being reasonable, then aggressiveness increases. And if in the case of a given religion, war regarded as being necessary by the political leaders and proselytising regarded as necessary by religious leaders combine together since political and religious authority are not regarded as being distinct but rather as being integrated, then such a religion tends to become the most aggressive of all. Hence, Islam appears to be the most aggressive of all religions in practice. 14. How is it that the Muslim community within which deep economic disparities exist appears to be socially extremely cohesive? It should be admitted that the Muslim community is definitely much more cohesive than the Hindus. Since all Muslims enjoy commensal relations with each other and since there are no religious prohibitions about marriages among the various sections of the community and because Islam is a collective religion, the level of cohesiveness among the Muslims is quite high. There is another more important historical reason for this visible cohesiveness. The Muslims came to India as conquerors. If the rule is that of the Muslims, it is always beneficial and comfortable to be a Muslim than be a non-Muslim. Though there were serious conflicts among the Turks, the Pathans, the Persians and the converted Muslims in the Muslim kingdoms, here the life of the Muslims was much more that of ease and their status was much higher as compared to that of the non-Muslims. Once the Muslim rule was replaced by that of the English, systematic efforts were made to grant special importance to the Muslim community. Hence, even during the British rule it was advantageous for the Muslims to regard themselves as being primarily rulers. A fundamental change occurred in this historical state of affairs as far as the Muslims were concerned after independence that is in the last 25 years. Due to a history of conquest, special rights, special concessions and treatment, the fundamental cohesive nature of their faith, etc, the Muslim community appears, at least on the surface, to be very cohesive. But it is not as cohesive as it appears to be. There

are many serious differences within the community and traditional rivalries are also reflected in their numerous sects, and the resultant tensions have created a tumultuous situation in the Muslim-majority areas. The Muslims form a minority in democratic India. The natural tendency of any minority is to cohere together, and similar is the case with the Muslim community. In the immature state in which the Indian parliamentary system presently finds itself, the majority finds the existence of minority groups rather convenient. Hence all political parties have contributed in some measure or the other in helping the religious-minded and ignorant Muslim masses in uniting behind the reactionary leadership within their community. The Muslims appear cohesive due to three factors and these are as follows: the need for the political parties to possess a reliable vote-bank, the traditional policy of separatism of the community, and the fact that the Muslims are a minority. If the tradition of analysing and criticising Islam increases among the Muslims, as it has happened among the Hindus with Hinduism, and if there are more opportunities for the Muslims to enhance their standard of living, then this apparent cohesiveness of the Muslims as a community will disappear. What does it mean when we say that the Muslim community is cohesive? Where the communists are strong, the Muslims are with them, where the Peasants and Workers Party is strong, the Muslims are with it. As of today, the Congress is strong everywhere, and besides that it is the ruling party and hence the Muslims in large numbers are with the party. Irrespective of the party, the reactionary leaders of the Muslims continue to be stubborn adherents of their faith. This is so because the secular parties have put up with this practice of their being orthodox. The unified community changes its political allegiance in a given area whenever there appears to be a challenge to the established parties of that area. In the 1967 elections, the Muslims tried out an experiment. Throughout the country, they voted against the Congress. But it is the Jana Sangh which is strengthened by voting against the Congress and then it is the Muslims who faced with even greater dangers. The sorrowful realisation that the end results of voting for the Congress is that a

party which talks of secularism but is actually orthodox and outdated in practice stays in power has made some educated Muslims to think differently. Many have been shaken in their minds by the developments in Bengal. The Indian Muslims, in their hearts, feel that Pakistan should not be divided and should remain united. This is so because Pakistan was a creation primarily of the Indian Muslims. But even the Muslims do not approve of their co-religionists in the West massacring fellow Muslims of the East. Hence, the most communal among the Muslims speak with great bitterness about Yahya Khan and Bhutto, the Pakistani leaders at the helm of affairs over there. Traditional group identities assume great importance among the backward societies. Half hungry Maratha agricultural labourers, middle class Maratha leaders, and rich Maratha landlords stick together, albeit temporarily. The same can be said about groups like the Kayasthas, the Rajputs and the Yadavs in the north. Among the Hindus, caste is a strong factor. Appeals are made on the basis of caste. Even among the Parsis, the Christians and the Muslims, appeals are made in the name of religion. Backward societies are the same everywhere irrespective of their religion. The more we start regarding our everyday lives in modern terms, the more will the appeal and the importance of the traditional groups and identities decrease. Unless the strong hold of the traditional mindset over the Muslims decreases, their feeling of separatism and distinctiveness as well as their apparent cohesiveness will not decrease. The feeling of arrogance born out of a belief in one’s superiority and the feelings of fear jointly lead to a feeling of separatism among the Muslims and this, in turn, creates a false impression of cohesiveness of the community. 15. In the colonial period, the Indian Muslims were encouraged by the British to maintain their unity so as to counter the Hindus. Why has the situation not changed in the post-independence period? The underlying assumption that the division between the Hindus and the Muslims was created by the British is a mistaken one. Hence the question that why did it continue even after the British had quit is also

a mistaken one. The Muslims have always regarded themselves as conquerors and as being different from the Hindus and this feeling of separatism among the Muslims has existed since their arrival in India. Though friendly ties were seen among the Hindus and the Muslims in the earlier days, they were superficial for it was impossible for the two communities to become real friends since the Muslims continued to constantly attack the Hindus. If a certain king was of a liberal disposition, then his behaviour also was of a similar kind, for instance Emperor Akbar. Some Muslim kingdoms were compelled by circumstances to adopt a liberal stance, like those in South India. But this does not mean that harmony existed between the two communities. Even before the British established their rule in India, Shah Waliullah had proclaimed that it was impossible for the Hindus and the Muslims to live together in India. When the British first established their rule in India, the Hindus in Bengal celebrated this event. The split between the Hindus and the Muslims is ageold. Our political leaders have tried in many ways than one to heal this rift, while the British tried to maintain it. This process was not limited only to the Muslim community. This process has often been ignored while studying Indian politics. The British were a colonial power. It was but natural that they would try to create divisions on all those counts on which it was possible to do so. Such a division was created in the Madras Presidency by the establishment of the Justice Party. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham is the progeny of this Justice Party, which was once upon a time quite strong in Madras. During the Gokhale and Tilak era, no one seems to have made deliberate efforts to bring the Justice Party into the Congress fold. In Maharashtra, serious and steady efforts were made to convert the Non-Brahmin movement into a political party. Had the Tilakites continued to dominate the politics of Maharashtra, it would have been impossible for the Congress to win a majority in the state. There were systematic attempts to enhance the strength of the separatist politics of the ‘untouchables’. The politics of the Gandhian era skilfully brought all these groups together. But it was impossible even for Gandhi to bring the Muslims into the fold. The British perpetuated the existing divisions, and created new ones wherever it was possible and enhanced these new ones. Traces

of these divisions can be seen in contemporary politics. No deliberate attempts were made by the politics of the postindependence period to create a cohesive society. Parliamentary democracy and a central government do create a sense of unity to a certain extent, and it is only to that extent that a sense of unity exists in India today. Gandhiji was successful in papering over divisive tendencies and to that extent created a sense of unity. Somehow or the other, we have managed to maintain that sense of unity, albeit in a much weakened form. All attempts in the preindependence period to integrate the Muslim community into the mainstream failed, and it is this very community that now votes for some secular party or the other due to the changed times. But except for this voting pattern, their feeling of separatism has not changed. Strongholds of communalism also exist among other communities. It is these communally charged traditional identities that have created the pattern of politics as we see it today. But this situation is not a stable one. The citadel of tradition has been breached in many places by modernisation. Even the Muslim community has not remained unaffected. The number of Muslim students, both male and female, the latter abandoning purdah, who pursue education in co-educational and Hindu-run educational institutions, is steadily increasing. These people verbally adopt reactionary political positions but in practice are making newer compromises. 16. Why is it that the Muslim community has not completely integrated with the Indian society despite possessing all the rights of equal citizenship? The Muslims had never demanded equal citizenship. How generousminded can a minority group which considers itself a conqueror be? The limit of their generosity was to concede halfa-share in power. Our religion is the most superior of all and we are conquerors and yet both of us should have an equal share of power. The Muslims regard this compromise as the farthest extent of their generosity. If the Muslims who constitute 10 per cent of the population secure a 50 per cent share of political power, and the rest is shared between the nonMuslim communities who constitute 90 per cent of the population with

the Hindus, who, in turn, constitute 85 per cent of the population, securing 45 per cent and the other minorities securing the remaining 5 per cent, the Muslims will not complain much. The Muslims would be willing to accept such a generous arrangement as a temporary compromise. The Muslim League probably would have been willing to abandon its demand for Pakistan, if this arrangement had been accepted. The farthest extent of the generosity of the majority Hindu community has been to grant equal citizenship to all. In practice, equal citizenship means that a community which has a 10 per cent share in the population would secure a similar share of political power. To be precise, this share has always been around 6 per cent. During the British rule, the Muslims enjoyed special privileges. Their share of power at the all-India level was 33 per cent. There were Muslim princely states and their share of power there always exceeded 70 per cent. Even in other provinces, the community always had a 25 per cent share in power. Because these special rights were eliminated and because these princely states and the zamindari system in Uttar Pradesh ceased to exist, that in the postindependence period poverty, unemployment and a sense of helplessness has increased among the Muslims. The Muslims feel that the independent India which has granted them equal citizenship is a Hindu regime and that the community has been defeated. These perceptions of the Muslims are entirely wrong. They are products of a mindset that is opposed to justice and equality, and which seeks unequal and special rights and privileges. Even if we accept this reality, but this is how the Muslims feel. Hence, despite being granted equal citizenship, they have not been able to integrate themselves with Indian society. This issue will not be resolved by granting special privileges but by making the feeling of arrogance born out of a sense of superiority disappears. To a certain extent, the Maharashtrian Brahmins also seem to possess a similar mind-set. Even this community has been granted equal rights. But equal rights have harmed the community, albeit in the short-term. For a community that constituted 5 per cent of the

populations but had a 90 per cent share in employment and exercised a complete control and dominance over social life, the realisation that one’s dominance has ceased, social status has disappeared, and employment opportunities have slipped out of one’s grasp is so painful that equal rights cannot be of much comfort. When the members of the community talk about increase in corruption, casteism and nepotism or in a similar vein, are they not expressing their grief over their lost social status? Every community grieves over what it has lost. It is difficult to convince them that what lost was a dominant position in an unjust system. The same has happened with the Muslim community and the feeling of loss is even sharper. 17. Why is it that Hindu-Muslim riots have occurred even in the post-independence period? What are the reasons for this? It is risky for the Hindus to answer this question. For they would answer that it is the Muslims who indulge in riots, while the Muslims would say the same about the Hindus. There is much to be said on both sides. Whenever we embark upon investigating of the causes of any riot, sooner or later we come to the point where we have to ask who launched the first attack. It is true that in the Ahmedabad riots and in the Bhiwandi riots it was the Muslims who attacked first. But that is only one part of the truth. Enmity and discontent prevails between the two communities, tensions start to build up very fast due to some reason or the other, and then something happens that sparks of a riot. If one takes into account the immediate causes of riots then the bitter truth is that 70 to 75 per cent of the riots began due to the provocation caused by the Muslim community. I cannot help it if someone is labelled as a Hindu communalist for stating these facts. The real issue is not about the one who first hurled stones. It is about those who stoked fury to such an extent that some thought it necessary to hurl stones. During the Ganesh festival, the processions of the Hindus invariably stop in front of the mosques. Gulal or coloured powder is thrown up into the air. Music is played loudly on instruments. Admittedly, the road on which the mosque is located is a

public one. It is, of course, true that organising processions and hurling gulal up in the air is the rights of the Hindus. It is also true that the courts have upheld the right of the Hindus to take out a procession accompanied by music being played on instruments past the mosques. But this infuriates the Muslims. If tension has built in the preceding few days, then invariably stones are hurled at the procession. On the face of it, the situation shows that it was the Muslims who first threw stones, but it is those who deliberately incited anger and fury who are more responsible, and the reason behind all this is the mutual dislike that prevails between the two communities. Whatever might the law say, the Hindus disapprove of cow slaughter. But the Muslims practise it behind closed doors. The Hindus hate Pakistan, but the Muslims fondly put on Pakistan radio in public everywhere. The Muslims have a habit of writing, talking and behaving with respect to Hindu deities in a disrespectful manner. The Hindus openly refer to the Muslim period of Indian history as that characterised by slavery. It is often claimed that the Muslims are more prone to initiating riots and compared to them the Hindus are seen as tolerant. If one looks at the statistics and details of riots, then one realises that, in the initial phases, it is the Hindus who bore the brunt and suffered heavy losses. But when one looks at the overall picture, it is the Muslims who suffer much more losses than the Hindus. This is so because they are a minority community. In the police and the Army too, it is the Hindus who are in a majority. Besides in every riot, atrocities committed by the Hindus are never less serious than those committed by the Muslims. In any riots, the mask of a civilised human being drops away from all, and the baser instincts are aroused, which exist among both the communities. The Hindus are no less backward in this regard. The Muslim community has been shaped by an outdated tradition. They fail to understand that despite suffering heavy losses, riots have failed to benefit them in any way. This is so because the wild leaders of the community in private proclaim that the community has managed to thrash the Hindus and, thus, encourage the feelings of superiority.

18. How is it that on one hand there are attempts to establish a federation of Muslim countries and on the other, there are conflicts raging between these very same Muslim countries? Religion is a force that brings people together. The reason, why Hindus of India feel concerned or have affection about the Hindus of say Nepal, Madagascar or Guyana, is religion. There are not many Hindu countries in the world, but there are many Muslim countries. Continuous attempts are being made to bring these Muslim countries together on the basis of religion. In Christianity, temporal and religious powers or authorities were separate in practice. They often fought with each other, yet there were many attempts in many guises to unite all the Christian countries and these continued till the Vienna Congress that is till 1814. These days the Christian countries have ceased to indulge in such attempts. They have realised the futility of their efforts. In Islam, both temporal and religious power was united in the hands of the Khalifa. The rulers of various countries called themselves Sultans. The Muslim rulers over and over again made attempts to win the sanction of the Khalifa for their rule. Even the Mughal Emperors who had spent four generations in India felt the need to do so. Even today, the Muslims always feel that they are being constantly defeated in global politics, and hence they are making attempts to bring together all the Muslim countries under one flag or banner. The Muslims feel that the Christian group led by the USA and Britain, and the communist group led by Soviet Russia and China are harmful to their own dominant position. The Muslims have not given up their ambition to Islamize the world even today. The Muslims feel that at least by forming a group they would be able to safeguard themselves from the dominance of the superpowers in the domain of international politics, and so they are continuously making attempts to form a group of Muslim countries. Intermittently, they do succeed in establishing temporary organisations. At present, one such organisation does exist and it is headquartered in Malaysia. Tunku Abdul Rahman, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia is its secretary.

Such plans and schemes will never succeed for the interests of each country are contradictory to that of the other. Iran cannot give up its interests in oil. Turkey will never accept the leadership of Saudi Arabia. Even if we consider only the Arab countries, the reactionary regimes of Jordan and Saudi Arabia can never get along with Nasser’s Egypt. It is difficult for the communist regimes in Iraq and Algeria to get along with the anti-communist government of Malaysia. Since the number of people of Chinese descent is huge in Indonesia, it either has to remain a nominal member of the group which is under Chinese domination or join the anti-communist group. The policies of Muslim countries are thus rife with internal and mutual contradictions. Hence, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan are not very enthusiastic about fighting against Israel, and the Arab countries and Afghanistan are not interested in opening up a front against India. The Muslim countries which are bent on safeguarding their own interests and which only indulge in the talk of Muslim unity failed to form such a group in the medieval ages and will definitely fail in the modern age. The scheme to unite all the Muslim countries in a single group on the basis of a common religion is but a sign and remnant of the medieval mindset of the Muslim upper classes. Beyond this, such a plan has not been able to acquire any importance. 19. We see educated Muslims being fanatic in their adherence to Islam and disregarding science. How can an intellectual revolution occur in a society where such fanatic adherence exists? The fanatic adherence to one’s religion and a feeling of separatism, both, can be seen in the case of the Muslim community. Though related, they are not the same. As far as fanatic adherence to one’s religion is concerned, one has to admit that the levels of such fanaticism are much higher among the Hindus than among the Muslims. For centuries together, the Hindus have maintained their superstitions as well as their fanatic adherence to faith in the face of invasions of aggressive rulers. The fanaticism which makes one stick to one’s religions in the face of such severe oppression cannot be seen in the case of the Muslims. They have a practice of maintaining a beard while shaving off the moustaches. This practice is declining

among the youth. The number of those who regularly offer Namaz is declining and same is the case with those who fast during Ramazan. Except for the upper classes, the practice of purdah never prevailed among other sections of society. Even among the upper clases, this practice is decreasing day by day. Hundreds of Muslims are ready to work, due to their poverty, under the Hindus. Setting aside all the prohibitions laid down by their religion, many Muslims are working in the film industry and the field of music. Thus, there is no reason to suppose that the Muslims are great religious fanatics. The problem arises because of the nature of our politics. Our politics is largely determined by the pressure exerted by organised groups. The Muslims feel that if we stay together, then we can exert the requisite pressure and safeguard our interests. Hence, there is a tendency among the Muslims to band together and forge an identity distinct from the Hindus as well as to stay apart from the latter. But this tendency does not mean a fanatic pride in Islam. Progressive intellectuals do emerge from within the Muslim community from time to time. The practice of our secular parties is to treat such intellectuals as pariahs and to embrace the reactionary elements among the community. The socialist party did not offer Hamid Dalwai an election ticket, no, not even to get defeated. The same was the case with Justice Chagla. The Congress simply could not think of the idea that an organisation of progressive Muslim youth be established under the leadership of Justice Chagla. There are small pockets of progressive thinking at various places within the Muslim community, but the political parties do not embrace them on the ground that the community will be displeased or annoyed at this venture. The levels of education among the Muslims, who are already extremely poor, are again very low. The modern education as it exists today encourages the formation of caste-based groupings among the Hindus. It also encourages the tendency among the Muslims to maintain a separate and distinct identity. These opportunist political parties have ensured the reactionary mindset among the Muslims continues to prevail. Hence it has become difficult to have an intellectual transformation within the community. Yet with the passage of time, a new group is emerging within the community. The realisation that the community is more backward and becoming even

more poorer due to its reactionary and uninformed outlook, and a rising feeling of insecurity are bringing in new thinking into the Muslim community. During the British rule, the rulers themselves critically analysed the history of the Hindus, and encouraged the Hindus to do it themselves. Intellectuals who had imbibed newer modes of thinking were granted protection. We have stopped this entire process. We do not even ask the Muslim members of secular parties a question as simple as what is wrong with having a spot of kumkum on one’s forehead. However, to be accepted in the secular parties, a Hindu leader has to, to a certain extent, refuse to follow one’s traditional religious practices. I do not complain of the fact that to participate in public life the Hindus have to abandon their traditional orthodox practices, indeed I regard it as a welcome fact, and as entirely appropriate. But what I fail to understand is that why there should be objections to expecting the same pattern of behaviour from everybody. 20. How did a this-worldly attitude come to be regarded as the fundamental basis of democracy, and how did this idea develop? What should be the programme of action in order to inculcate this feeling in the Indian society? A this-worldly attitude means the same as secularism. In a sense, this idea is a very old one. I found that the earliest reference to it is in Kautilya’s Arthashastra. In the Arthashastra, two injuctions have been deliberately issued to the king. One states that the ruler should protect the traditional practices of the various sections of society and should not in any manner interfere with them. The second states that the source of the rules governing society is religion. It is expected that the king will not frame them. The formulation that the temporal power, the king, on one hand and religion, on the other have separate and distinct jurisdictions, and that religion is charged with making rules governing a given society and that the king should not interfere in any manner with this process is essentially the idea of secularism. Often the origins of secularism are located in the Biblical injunction to render to Caesar what is his. The separation between political

authority and religious authority that this statement reflects is what Kautilya meant. Though the fundamental idea that forms the basis of secularism is that old, it assumed real importance in the 15th century in Europe. The idea that political authority should be impartial and neutral, that it should treat all religious sects equally, and that it should not interfere in the religious affairs of any sect, and that neither should any of these sects interfere in the religious affairs of any other sect emerged out of the conflict between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestants. The assurance of religious freedom that some of the American states have granted is a further development of this idea. We often use the term ‘Secularism’, but it is used in four separate senses. More often than not, when people use this term they are not very clear in their minds as to the sense in which they are using this term. According to one meaning of secularism, political authority and religious authority should initially demarcate their respective jurisdictions. The religious authority should enjoy complete freedom within its jurisdiction. This freedom should be protected by the political authority. Whatever lies beyond the jurisdiction or domain of religion falls within the jurisdiction of political authority. Rules relating to marriage, divorce and inheritance, religious practices, and the authority that religion exercises over its adherents all are located within the domain of religion. Secularism, formulated in this manner, does not grant freedom to the masses, but rather grants freedom to religion to regulate the lives of the people. It is as if the individual is the slave to both the temporal authority and the religious authority, and that the two would come to a mutual agreement to decide which one of the two would be the lord and master of which part of his or her life. This formulation of secularism is reactionary and perpetuates human slavery. The nature of the formulation of secularism in the Christian scriptures and the Arthashastra of Kautilya is thus in this manner reactionary. In the second sense, secularism makes political power nonconfessional, and neutral in religious matters. Here the nature of political power is such that it respects all religious groups equally and

grants them equal status, and does not interfere in the religious matters of any group. This second meaning of secularism is merely the reiteration of the first meaning in a different context. Where a given country is homogenous in terms of religion, secularism in the first sense, and where it consist of a variety of religious groups, secularism in the second sense are but different manifestations, since their contexts are different, of the same fundamental formulation. Yet there is a striking feature in the case of the second formulation. Since a variety of religious groups live under a single temporal power, it acquires the right to inspect and regulate the rights of each of these groups and the extent of their jurisdictions, and thus in practice its sovereignty assumes a decisive form in this second sense. In the third sense, the temporal power is anti-religion and is its enemy. In this sense, it is assumed that religion is a reactionary factor and, hence, needs to be completely eliminated from social life. The temporal power is not satisfied till it destroys all places of worship, public or private, as well as all kinds of religious practices and literature. It is the duty of each functionary of this regime to be antireligious and a materialist. The concept of secularism under communism is this. In communist regimes, all functionaries of the State have to be communists. Since every communist is a Marxist, he or she is a materialist and denies the existence of any divine entity or power. Law stipulates that all those who wish to follow or practice a given religion are free to do so, but in reality the State does not provide religious education and since all education is under the control of the State, it cannot be provided for privately. Since all property is under the control of the State, religious charity is impossible. Hence, it is impossible to maintain places of worship. All efforts undertaken are with a view to eliminate religion. Earlier, all communist regimes were insistent on this point. These days this insistence seems to have become rather mild, lenient or relaxed. Just as this formulation of secularism is against religion, it is against individual freedom and freedom of thought. Personally, I am a materialist, but I do not believe that everyone should be compelled to become one by the force of law.

There is a fourth sense in which secularism is defined, and that has been accepted by the Constitution of India. According to this formulation, everyone has the right to think in whichever way he or she thinks proper about religion. Due to this, all those who wish to become materialists can become so. Those who wish to remain the adherents of a given religion, but abandon some of its practices, can do so. Those wish to lead a life in consonance with a given religion can do so. Religion cannot control the life of an individual. An individual can adhere to or accept any religion. The freedom granted to every individual in religious matters is one of the primary bases of Indian secularism. Since the laws made by the Parliament about a given aspect of life, one that is not a part of one’s private life, are supreme, any public matter that is against these laws ceases to be part of the domain of religion. Religion is a private matter of an individual. Public matters should be controlled by the temporal power, and religious freedom in one’s private life cannot be exercised in a manner inconsistent with public morality and decency, public health and the public interest. Secularism has been accepted by the Indian Constitution in this sense and since it is tied in with the values of modernization of life, individual freedom and democracy, it grants equal rights and equal justice to everyone. The first important thing that needs to be done so as to inculcate secularism in the Indian mind is that all Indians should be brought under a common civil code. This code has been referred to in the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Indian Constitution. But there has not been much progress on this count. The obstacle here is not that the Muslims have a separate law for themselves, but the fact that what we call Hindu law is not equal in its provisions. It provides for the protection of the geographically varying social customs and practices. Thus, a single Hindu Code Bill provides for the protection of different kinds of practices. A common civil code is the most important and the most necessary step that needs to be taken in the cause of secularism. At various places in the country, special provisions and facilities are provided for the backward castes. These provisions and facilities on the one hand are necessary, but the manner in which they have been provided for is unsatisfactory. It is a self-evident aspect of justice that the backward sections of society

should get priority in order to progress. But to define backwardness in terms of caste and on a regional basis is wrong. Instead, we should accept the criteria of economic backwardness and thus all students whose family income is below a certain level should be provided with educational concessions. The programme of family planning is an important component of the modernisation of the country. But the government is not so strict or serious as it should be about this programme. Those who do not adopt family planning measures after the birth of a certain number of children should be penalised in a substantial manner. But the most fundamental aspect of modernisation is the modernisation of agriculture and a significant improvement in the minimum standard of life of the lowest strata. Unless we improve the standard of living and unless we transform the rural social structure by modernising agriculture, no this-wordly mode of living is likely to make headway or succeed in this country. Whenever we ponder over any question or problem, we cannot but think of increasing production, improvement in living standards and modernisation of basic industries. That is how we come to socialism. Hence the basic need to have our lives governed by a socialist social structure is felt even greater that before. 21. How is it that in a backward country, a democracy based on adult franchise might prove to be a curse rather than a boon? How can this danger be avoided? The ideal of a democracy based on adult franchise was not accepted all of a sudden or overnight. The Indian National Congress had been insisting on adult franchise since at least 1909. We have been making a demand for adult franchise since 1909. This means that the demand dates back from the Tilak-Gokhale era, and not from the Gandhi era. This must be noted at the very outset. Many are under the impression that crazy idealists like Nehru were swayed by emotions, and in a fit of lofty idealism abandoned practical considerations and accepted the demand for adult franchise. This is a mistaken view of the situation.

This question was discussed extensively during the making of the Indian constitution. There were some members of the Constituent Assembly who were opposed to adult franchise. They took the position that there was a possibility of adult franchise posing a danger in a backward country. An educated individual is more responsible and more of a patriot. The arguments against adult franchise emerged out of this arrogance of the educated. In a poor, backward country, adult franchise acts as a strong check on the government. The rulers who wish to their continuance in power have to increase production. They have to expand education and modernise life. They have to improve the standard of living. The power of the vote in the hands of the millions of the povertystricken people makes the transformation of society inevitable. The only reason, as to why all political parties in our country have to undertake a reformist programme, is adult franchise. The problem is not a democracy based on adult franchise, but the real problem is that the opposition parties have never been able to make proper use of this weapon. The Congress Party is a large conglomeration of various vested interests. Only a party consisting of principled activists could have disillusioned the people about this conglomeration. But the opposition parties were in a hurry to gain power, and, hence, they included in their fold and associated themselves with whosoever was available. As a consequence, a large number of opportunists could now be found in the ranks of the opposition parties. Basically, the evaluation of the Congress that it is a party of reactionary capitalists and landlords is incorrect. Though the Congress is a party of basically orthodox capitalists and feudal elements, it is a party prone to making compromises, and it makes all those compromises that are necessary to ensure its survival. The party has accepted the objectives of increased production, modernisation and reforms. Hence, by way of schools, co-operative societies and relief work, the party is in touch with various strata of rural society. Unless the opposition parties participate in these constructive activities that are being conducted in the rural areas with all the strength at their disposal and by assuring the rural population of their integrity, they would not be able to make any headway in these areas on the basis of a progressive programme.

The opposition parties often ask: does the ruling party possess men of integrity? It is true that the ruling party lacks such persons, but since it possesses political power it is likely to prove to be of use to the people. In rural politics of the present times, we constantly see a struggle between men of integrity who are powerless and those who are in power but lack integrity. It is dangerous to suppose that the opposition parties would survive in this struggle. Every time, the ruling party astonishes the opposition parties by prevailing upon them. Hence the older modes of political activity almost seem to have lost their relevance altogether. The opposition parties can be built up afresh only by associating with themselves persons of integrity and modern mindsets. They should abandon the habit of concentrating all their energies on winning elections and instead adopt the newer method of constantly agitating in the cause of bread-and-butter issues or matters of daily concern. Hence, the problem does not lie with adult franchise. The opposition parties must evaluate the character of the ruling party correctly and accordingly build up their strength in the correct manner. The real obstacle to a healthy democracy in this country lies in the compromising and opportunist policies of all political parties. Political power is not obtained by these means, and the possibility of obtaining it somewhat later in the day also decreases by their being used. It seems that the socialist leadership has not adequately realised this situation. This criticism is harsh, but since I am convinced of the validity of my analysis I must state it unreservedly. 22. Narrow-minded attitudes like casteism and provincialism or regionalism enhance divisive tendencies and pose an obstacle in the path of democracy. As a result, opportunist politics is seen being successful and the faith of the masses in democracy is shaken. How can we resolve this dilemma? The idea that casteism and provincialism or regionalism are narrowminded and divisive is a rather vague one. To some extent, we should explore the fundamental underpinnings of this idea.

There has been a considerable hue and cry particularly about provincialism or regionalism. Those who raise a hue and cry about this forget a simple truth and that is divisive tendencies in India have not increased but have rather decreased due to the linguistic reorganisation of states. If we keep in mind the fact that states in Europe emerged on the basis of languages, then we can easily understand that in the case of India, the linguistic reorganisation of states precluded the possibility of the formation of linguistic nationstates in the Indian sub-continent. Linguistic reorganisation of India was an essential condition for the formation of India as a modern nation-state and to mould Indian democracy. But the opportunism displayed by the central leadership while fulfilling this condition led to feelings of considerable bitterness and the emergence of divisive tendencies on a large scale. If a decision had been taken that all cities with a population of over 25 lakhs would be centrally governed, then perhaps there would have been no need to undertake an agitation for the cause of Mumbai. If a stance is taken that while Madras and Calcutta would go to Tamil Nadu and West Bengal respectively, but that Mumbai would not go to Maharashtra, then this obviously leads to fresh bitterness. Even though the issues are resolved, this bitterness still continues to exist. If it had been decided that every district would be included in a given province on the basis of geographical contiguity and the linguistic composition of the district, and to determine the latter, some kind of census or the other would have been regarded as the determining factor, then there would have been fewer disputes. But the use of differing principles to determine boundaries in each instance, and a rampant opportunism in every case had led to a feeling of injustice and a rise in divisive tendencies in every province. Linguistic reorganisation of states has not been responsible for the divisiveness prevalent in this country but rather the opportunist manner in which it was implemented has caused it. This opportunism compels everyone to fight for some cause or the other of his own province or state. If a principle had been decided upon beforehand and had it been implemented rigorously without exception, there would have been no cause for bitterness. What is true of the reorganisation of states is also true of the sharing of river waters. The tendency to cave in to the pressures

exerted by vested interests while implementing a given programme of development which comprises of the construction of new dams or factories leads to a rise in divisive tendencies. Merely mocking these developments as provincialism or regionalism will not help. A state might insist on employment for the locals, while some other one welcomes all to settle down. This leads to the rise of movements like that of the Shiv Sena. If a principled and just policy which provides an opportunity for development to all is set aside and an opportunist decision is taken on every issue then this would lead to the rise of all kinds of divisive tendencies in India. Casteism and provincialism or regionalism are not the real sources or reasons for the rise in divisive tendencies, rather the real reasons are an opportunist politics, and the rise in educated unemployment which in turn has been caused by a sluggish growth in productivity. Unless there is a rise in production and unless we cease to indulge in opportunist politics, that is to say unless the Constitution is honestly implemented, we would not be able to arrest these divisive tendencies. The rise in educated unemployment in an unequal society is one reason for these divisive tendencies. In such a scenario, these tendencies assume the garb or label of region, caste, locality or any other one that they find convenient. This rise in educated unemployment is an important and fundamental challenge that has emerged due to both a sluggish growth in productivity and faulty planning. Both the ruling party and the opposition parties have to face this challenge with courage. 23. It is said that democracy is not just an idea but a way of life. Then how can this idea transformed into to a faith? Democracy does not just mean that a party to which a majority of the elected representatives belong should rule. That the elected representatives should exercise power is just one aspect of democracy. Providing for freedom of thought and its protection, as well as according due respect to minority opinions and according them due space also fall within the definition of democracy. That the elected representatives should set aside the interests of their respective parties and take a broad view, should observe certain

proprieties while getting elected and after being elected, that political power should learn to respect public opinion, are some of the many concepts that are included within the definition of democracy, and hence it is described as a way of life. What we have in our country comes quite close to what democracy is. But the substance of democracy has not become a part of our lives to the extent that we expected it should. The reason for this that an opposition party that can serve as an alternative to the ruling party has not come into existence in India. Except for the intervening five years, what we have seen is that the combined strength of all the opposition parties has been equal to that of the ruling party. There are two important preconditions in order to convert formal democracy into substantive, functional democracy. The first is creating an aware and vigilant electorate, and the second is creating a responsible and effective opposition party. Once these exist, tolerance and a broad outlook become inevitable. A free and vigilant electorate does not emerge in the absence of a responsible opposition party. Yet we see that whenever public opinion has been sharply insistent on any issue over a long period of time, the central government has ultimately bowed to it. It has not been obstinate in the face of public opinion. This pressure created by public opinion is often in the form of an emotional upsurge. It rarely has had strong intellectual foundations. Democracy strikes roots to becomes an integral part of life of any given society in the same proportion as the proportion in which the tendency to agitate for rights and while doing so the tendency to behave in a responsible manner increases. All such processes have begun in our country and the real problem is that none of them has fructified. 24. What are the reasons for the failure of the Indian socialists? There are three main reasons for the failure of the Indian socialists. The first is that they were in a hurry to come to power. Instead of concentrating on the building up effective organisations of the peasants, the workers and the middle class, the Indian socialists since the beginning concentrated on contesting elections. As a consequence in 1948 when the socialists left the Congress they gathered among themselves whoever came their way. All these people had not joined the Socialist Party because they believed in or

had pinned their faith on socialism. Many of them re-joined the Congress, each according to his or her need. The hurry to obtain power was such a strange thing that all sorts of individuals joined the party. As soon as the possibility of obtaining power receded, they abandoned politics, and a new cohort of disappointed persons joined the party. This went on from 1948 till 1952-53. The Socialists received a setback during this period and the party seems never to have recovered from this. Even after this, the practice of co-operating with all sorts of political forces, without formulating a common minimum programme, by forging electoral alliances continued. This must be mentioned as an important cause for the failure of the socialists. Even now, the socialists are not convinced of the principle that they should contest elections in alliance with other parties only where there is a common minimum programme. The second reason is that the socialist party could not comprehend the role of casteism that prevails in the country. As a result all the ‘untouchables’ stayed outside the socialist movement, and so was the case with the agricultural labourers and the tribals. The socialist movement became one of the lower and the upper middle classes, and it failed to change this character of itself. The third important reason is that the socialists made an error in the manner in which they evaluated the ruling party. The day the ruling party in India starts to advocate socialism and economic planning all contestations over slogans and words cease. The Congress Party is also wont to mouth socialist slogans. This party vows or advocates a position of establishing basic industries, an increase in production, and ensuring a minimum standard of life for all. There were no striking differences between the Congress and the socialists. Whenever any two given parties advocate the same idealistic position, the contest between them is not about the objectives but about how they are to be implemented, and this conflict cannot be fought on the basis of emotions alone. It requires constant efforts of a concerted nature. There is no point in discussing in detail the reasons for the failure of the socialists. The real question is that of presenting a new

formulation for the party, and that of a new method of building up the party. Instead of working on this task, what we see are efforts to ensure one’s existence by making compromises over and over again. This is even more worrisome. Unless the Indian socialists focus on the spheres other than the one of electoral politics, they cannot achieve much of success. They have a strange habit of worshipping deities who are least interested in favouring them! If they truly have faith in parliamentary democracy and a socialist economy, then they should take a clear position vis-a-vis the Sarvodaya movement and its leaders, who have ensured success for the ruling party. Given the changes at the international level, they will have to think afresh about the CPI and the Soviet Union. Today, the state of affairs is such that the Jana Sangh is the only party whose organisational strength does not decrease due to its electoral defeat. In the case of the CPM, not much of a difference can be discerned as regards its strength when it was in power and when it was not. There is, once again, a need to think afresh as regards trade unions. Though working in the trade union field is the duty of the socialists, one must think about whether there should be one organisation in a given sector or should there be a number of them, each affiliated to a particular political party. There is also a need to think about the extent to which the trade unions can prove useful in political activity. In this country, the decisive factor in the country is the rural areas. Even the socialists would have to build up the strongest of all frontal organisations in the rural areas. 25. What is the programme or plan of action initiated by the Western intellectuals to bring about socialism using democratic means? This question can be answered in an extensively detailed manner on the basis of the various books discussing the history of the European socialist movement. But I am not quite interested in the answer. In Europe, developments like the achievement of national freedom, the emergence of a capitalist social structure, the modernisation of life, etc, took a long period to come to fruition. They had many centuries to achieve this, we do not have the luxury of time. The issues relating to Europe are closely related to two important developments. The first is that the European nations for almost three centuries exported huge

number of people to North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand. Hence, till the third decade of the 20th century Europe never had to face the questions that emerge due to the stresses and strains caused by a rise in population. Secondly, the European nations were sustained by the exploitation of their colonies. This source of sustenance was available only to England and France, but then even all European countries in some measure or the other drew upon this source. Europe never had to face a scenario wherein whatever little development that was achieved by a sluggish and slow growth being rendered nugatory by a rising population, and increased production not being able to ensure an increase in living standards due to the same cause. India is a country of over 50 crore people, possessing all possible kinds of variety and diversity, with a obdurate tradition of over 3000 years, and an adverse land-man ratio. The problems of such countries are fundamentally different from those of the European ones. If the pace with which democratic socialism has developed in Europe is taken as an ideal in the case of India, then we will have to wait for centuries before a socialist way of life is brought about in this country. Hence trying to resolve our problems in the light of the European experience is pointless. Rather than this, it would be better to understand the experiences of the Russians and the Chinese. But while doing so the fact of a one-party dictatorship, the freedom that it possesses, and the limitations that it imposes upon democracy must be taken into account. 26. Each party believes that political power is an effective means for social transformation and hence tries to obtain it. What can be said about this? Political power is not just an effective means, but the most effective means for social transformation. Just as it is the most effective instrument of social transformation, it is also the most effective one to hinder social transformation. This is so because political power is a means to an end. In the hands of a party which seeks to transform society it becomes a means of social transformation. In the hands of a status-quoist party it becomes an instrument of keeping society as it is. The question is who is it that is wieldings power. Power in the hands of those who chant the slogans of transformation does not

mean that the society is going to be transformed. This is so, because there is often a gap between word and deed. The deeds of those in power lead to social transformation, their words do not. It is here that the question of an individual’s sincerity becomes important. Those who are elected because of their faith in social transformation start talking a different language after being elected. Who can guarantee whether the faith of those who talk of transformation is sincere or not, and hence the publicly stated opinions of those who have been elected on this count are not very important. The pressure exerted by powerful organisations committed to the cause of social transformation on the holders of political power ensures social transformation. If such powerful organisations exist, then the hands of those seeking such a transformation are strengthened. They compel those, who merely proclaim their faith in social transformation but do not act, to do something in that direction. Even the opposition has to strike a compromise with this pressure. This pressure cannot be created merely by doing good deeds, but rather by building up a powerful organisation. But the expectation that social transformation would be brought about merely by assuming political power and without the concomitant building up of such an organisation is unlikely to come to fruition. Those who desire social transformation must built up an effective organisation which exerts such a pressure. If one possesses an organisation that supports one, then power can be obtained and it can then be used for social transformation. If the strength provided by such an organisation is missing, then power is never obtained and if by a coincidence it is, then it leads to arrogant regimes. It does not transform society. This is the moral that can be drawn from the non-Congress ministries that assumed power in 1967. Those who claim that power can be obtained without establishing such an organisation, and, thus conduct an experiment with non-party democracy are the ones who are proving to be an obstacle in the desire for a revolution and are throwing dust in the eyes of the masses. I wish to believe that these people are naive, but the evidence prevents me from doing so. 27. To bring about a socialist structure of society what is the programme or plan of action that socialist-minded youth

organisations should adopt? In my opinion, the first task that these socialist-minded youth organisations should undertake is the creation of a disciplined cadre and intellectually well-nourished activists. Unfortunately, the socialists in India do not seem to have realised the importance of building up such an organisation. Everyone feels that his or her ideas are of the utmost importance, and if the party by a majority rejects them, he or she feels that leaving the party for this reason is a sign of being revolutionary in approach. Revolutions do not occur because the ideas underlying them are correct or otherwise, but because these ideas are supported by a strong organisational base. Unfortunately, the socialists do not think so. In any democratic organisation, there is bound to be a diversity of opinion on matters of detail. These diverse opinions should be given adequate space, but ultimately, discipline is an essential minimum. Those activists who do not realise the importance of this fact are present in large numbers among the socialists. There is a pressing need for the socialist-minded youth organisations to concentrate their efforts on deciding how to build up a cadre of activists, who while not suppressing freedom of thought, would maintain the organisation and its discipline. At the same time, there is also a need to recognise that power politics is not for everyone. Politics is not the only sphere of activity as far as socialism is concerned. Conducting schools on the basis of faith in a socialist democracy is one sphere. Literature, history, sociology, economics are the other spheres in which socialists need to do some work. The co-operative sector, small industries and the process of modernisation of life are also the areas where the socialists have something to say. The socialist youth organisation must make preparations to chalk out a well-defined programme of study as far as these sectors are concerned. The day when power will be obtained and exercised is far away. Till then, activists, frontranking and otherwise, working in these various areas will have to be created. These activists can perform the tasks of creating intellectual awareness and that of creating a climate of opinion.

In one’s personal life, maintaining one’s socialist character and integrity is a heavy responsibility. If an activist of the socialist youth organisation is a student, then he or she should be more regular in his or her attendance in classes than the others. He must be particular about his or her studies. His own standard of living should be modest and personal expenses should not be high, and both must be of a responsible character. If he or she is a businessman, then he or she should be honest and professional in their conduct. His or her expertise and character should be beyond question. Such an activist exerts moral pressure on the society. The socialist youth organisations should frame a charter of duties and obligations. Those who fall short in the exercise of these duties and obligations are unlikely to be of much use in the cause of social transformation. We should also clearly formulate our concept of a leader. Only those who possess the capacity to create as much wealth as he or she desires and for whom winning power is very easy, that is to say those who have the capacity of making huge amounts of money and coming to power, but who deliberately forgo such possibilities for the sake of society have the moral right to be leaders. The tests to become a leader are more stringent than those for the lower-rung activists. Those for whom it is impossible to get elected under any circumstances and hence engage in constructive work outside the party are unlikely to be effective in any significant measure. Those whose intellectual abilities are limited should not try to make much effort to influence others. Socialism is a creed cultural in nature. Each individual has desires and wishes. Most believe that they should obtain material comforts in proportion to their capabilities, and they desire, if possible, to possess them in excess of their capabilities. It is not necessary for those who tread along this path to be cultured to any significant extent. But those who imperil their self-interest in order to ensure that all individuals should obtain a certain minimum necessarily have to be those who would limit, to a certain extent, their material desires and wishes. The public and private character and integrity of the activists is the greatest asset of the party that is not in power. It is absolutely necessary for the youth organisations to be particular about this fact.

The socialist activists, especially the younger activists, would be those who do not come from well-to-do backgrounds and those who do not have the support of political power. The respect that they command from all quarters is in itself a criterion for their selection. As long as the society feels that they are childish and irresponsible, they would not be effective. The younger generation of activists need to know about and to study to a certain extent the kind of determination and commitment with which all those socialist activists, who today are around sixty and also those who are older, moved among the masses from their early twenties till about their fifties and worked in an unfavourable situation and with a sense of self-sacrifice. Those days were filled with a sense of idealism. It is said that today the situation is such that idealism is missing. This kind of justification seems to me as merely a pretext and an excuse. Even in those days, there were those who earned money well, indulged in black-marketing, thieving and cheating, who did their jobs without a look here or there, who indulged in sycophancy, and thus there were all kinds of people. But there was a large group of idealist activists. Today, there are all kinds of people but these idealist activists are nowhere to be seen. Since political power was far away from them, this group of activists was naturally not in power. Even today it is not impossible to create a group of idealist activists who are not in a hurry to obtain power. But for that, the socialist leaders should adopt a policy of patience as regards obtaining power. I have been using the term being in a hurry to obtain power. This does not mean that elections should not be contested or that the legislatures should not be entered into, but it means that all should accept that the existence of a minimum programme of action is a minimum requirement. This minimum programme needs have to be translated into reality in a variety of ways, through building up organisational strength, conducting agitations, increasing the membership, personal sacrifice and the like. The activities of the party would have to be conducted, at least for the next few years, on the basis of acceptance of the fact that the socialists would not have an adequate number of activists to service any election campaign. In any case, being in a hurry does not lead to the acquisition of political power.

28. What should be the proportion of importance attached by the youth organisations to agitational activities, on one hand, and to constructive activities, on the other? I do not think that the youth organisations should be pulled into agitational activities. I feel that only when the country is engaged in a decisive struggle for existence, that is to say faced with an emergency, should the youth organisations participate in agitational activities. This is because I feel it is inappropriate that the youth, who are members of youth organisations, should be utilised to fulfil the needs of the political leaders. Politics is not the be-all and the end-all of life, and agitations cannot be conducted day in and day out. When I say youth what I have in mind are the students in the 16 to 25 agegroup. I feel that it is more important to train these students to think responsibly in a holistic manner and to train them so that they would act and at the same time possess an intellectual foundation for their actions. Unfortunately, in our country, agitations are not paid any attention unless they lead to vandalism and arson. One needs to know how to conduct strident and aggressive agitations in a determined and peaceful manner. That also requires disciplined activists. This means that the emphasis should be on a programme of a constructive nature. Though I have talked of constructive work, this does not mean a specified range kind of activities. Can the socialist youth be able to combat the moneymaking phenomenon of tuition classes that is spreading across all cities? This is the question that I am facing. Can competent teachers who have faith in socialism through the medium of socialist organisations conduct with great determination free tuition classes for the poor students so as to combat this business of tuition classes? I regard this as a part of the broader category of constructive activity. A constructive programme means something that fulfils the needs of the society, something that is continuously carried out, something which inculcates the values of discipline and sacrifice among those who conduct it, and something which influences those who benefit by it in a positive manner. Can the socialist organisations take a stand against the whole business of the leaking of question papers? Can they take a stand against those

teachers who do not conduct classes on time? Can they exert pressure to ensure the full utilisation of amenities like the library and the games and sports grounds in colleges and to work for their enhancement? There are hundreds of such issues that concern the students. These activities are constructive in nature, and one would have to agitate while conducting these constructive activities. The socialist youth organisations do not seem to have taken interest in any agitations, beyond the one, against fee hikes. Even agitations have to be for a constructive purpose and only then can they be justified, and constructive activities need to useful, feasible and continuous in nature. I would accept agitations being conducted by any youth organisations to the extent that they are required by and for constructive activity. 29. Has the conversion to Buddhism helped to resolve the problem of untouchability? I regard the acceptance of Buddhism by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar as an extremely important event of the modern times. In sheer historical terms, Buddhism was a movement distinctively different from the Vedic religion. Since the early days of this movement, the Vaishyas and the Kshatriyas enthusiastically took part in it in large numbers. The Brahmins were not prohibited from converting to Buddhism. Many of the Buddhist philosophers were Brahmin scholars. But the Brahmin hegemony was found missing in this religion. Similarly, Buddhism, as it was practised in the initial days, did not display much concern for the Shudras. Buddhism, a religion that arose during the early days of Indian feudalism, cannot be described as a religion that per se initiated a social revolution for equality. Basically, the purpose of Buddhism was not of the ushering of a rebellion against the inequalities that prevailed in this society. But Buddhism was a movement with global import that arose in India. It was Buddhism that created large scale endeavours of pursuit of knowledge and the arts as well for the public weal. It is possible that the Christian tradition of service of the masses emerged from the tremendous emphasis laid by Buddhism on serving the masses. When I say that Buddhism was the first large scale movement for the pursuit of knowledge, I am not overlooking the Greeks. But the Greek civilization and its pursuit of

knowledge during its golden age did not have an international resonance. It had a broader impact on the world only after the Renaissance. Even if we thus describe Buddhism in its historical context, some important aspects cannot be said to be a part of it. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar during his study of the history of the world realised that a society based on inequality was a global phenomenon. The social life of Islamic and the Christian societies in their first millenniums and the pre-Christian civilizations of Egypt, Assyria, Greece and Rome were characterised by inequality. Dr. Ambedkar was not unaware of the history of slavery and inequality in the Buddhist countries like China and Japan. Evidence is scattered throughout his writings which proves that he was well-aware of this history. But even though the society in the Christian world was characterised by inequality, this inequality that prevailed in everyday life did not have any theological sanction. This was also the case with the regions under the sway of Islam and Buddhism. An unequal society, on the one hand, and religious sanction for inequality as well as the principle of inequality being an aspect of religion, on the other, are two entirely separate things. Feudal societies remain stable in their unequal character. As soon as the modern age begins to emerge, the idea of equality also starts to emerge. In such a situation, if a religion does not sanction inequality despite the prevailing society being unequal, or if a religion advocates equality, then it becomes an advantageous factor for the movements for equality, and if a religion sanctions inequality, or insists upon it, then it proves to be an obstacle for its progress. A rationalist individual can do without religion, but society does require religion, and the need of religion for a backward society is even greater. Dr. Ambedkar believed that it was both impossible as well as inappropriate to transform the millions of backward untouchables into materialists and someone who lacked any religion. In such a situation, he required a religion that advocated equality, gave importance to service, and insisted upon the importance of knowledge. Dr. Ambedkar was well-aware of the fact that knowledge was an important factor in the process of the liberation of humans.

It was with this view in mind that he looked at the various religions prevalent then. But Dr. Ambedkar regarded another factor as being important. He desired to see both Indian nationalism and India as a nation emerge as a strong entities. He did not want to see the end of this nation. Hence the egalitarian religion that he desired was to be the one which would be the least orthodox, the one which would grant the largest amount of freedom and as well as one that belonged to the Indians. Dr. Ambedkar never considered religions that were born and had developed outside India. Especially, he found Islam and Christianity as being opposed to human freedom because he was well aware of their history. It was by thinking on these lines that Dr. Ambedkar opted for Buddhism. It was one which fulfilled all his requirements. He did not all of a sudden take the decision to convert to Buddhism. His decision was preceded by a period of reflection that spanned 20 to 25 years. Around 1935, he had made the decision to burn the Manusmriti as a denunciation against Hinduism. He had publicly stated many a times that though he had been born a Hindu he would not die as a one. About 10 to 15 years before he actually converted himself to Buddhism, he had announced his preference for Buddhism. About 4 to 5 years before he converted, he had delivered lectures on Buddhism. He had asked his adherents to understand Buddhism and to explain it to others. By accepting Buddhism, Dr. Ambedkar was providing a religious mindset for the foundation of a movement for equality, and he wished to achieve this without any damage to nationalism in any manner. It is very easy to ask whether untouchability would be eliminated in any measure by the conversion to Buddhism, and it would be equally easy to answer that it would not be eliminated to any appreciable extent by such a conversion. What right do we have to expect that the untouchables should qua Hindus be proud of being Hindus and at the same time agitate against inequality? For all our scriptures advocate inequality. It is difficult for the untouchables to regard them as sacred. By one religious conversion, Dr. Ambedkar attempted to do away with thousands of out-dated customs and practices of the untouchables. By conversion to Buddhism, untouchability does not end and neither will it ever end. It will end by other means, but at the least Buddhism

taught the Buddhist youth that all humans are equal and it is highly inappropriate for humans to be slaves. The problem of untouchability is not one that will be resolved soon. This is so, because the issue is not limited to the untouchables. The notion of purity and pollution or untouchability is a widespread characteristic of the Hindu social structure. Rules prescribe that some are not to be touched, some can be touched but commensal relations with them are prohibited, while others can be touched but not if one is in a state of ritual purity. We do not allow the untouchables to sit alongside us. This is the visible aspect of untouchability. But prohibiting members of castes other than Brahmins from cleaning the place in homes where the idols of the household deities are kept is the unseen aspect of untouchability. Some are rendered untouchables within their own immediate families at the incidence of a birth, and are also rendered untouchable at the incidence of the death of a close relative. Then, there are notions of ritual purity and pollution, and the fact of women being rendered untouchables during their monthly periods. Thus, the notion of untouchability is a multifaceted one, and this is not limited to the Brahmins, but extends to all castes and communities. Even among those regarded as untouchables, untouchability is practised and notions of social superiority and inferiority prevail. Therefore, change will occur only when mindsets and our lives are reconstructed on the basis of a new value system. There are no quick-fix solutions which will yield instant results. 30. You say that while an individual can do without religion, a society cannot. Does this position not run counter to your own irreligious stance? I believe that an individual can do without religion, because I am a materialist, and the world has seen since the ancient days, various materialist philosophers. Hence I feel that an individual here or there can become a materialist. But I do not insist that everyone must become a materialist. I will try to convince others of the validity of the ideas that I feel are correct, but this does not mean that other competing ideas can be eliminated. Accepting the fact that there are

all sorts of people in the world does not in any way contradict my irreligious position. I shall be happy if the entire world turns materialist. But I do not feel that such a state of affairs is likely to come about. It is not entirely true that with the spread and rise of science, superstition would on the wane. It is true that some beliefs prescribed by religion are disbelieved, but not all superstitions are eliminated by science, and besides religious faith does not fall within the domain of science at all. Even in the developed world, despite the fact that the social practices and the way they live have changed substantially, yet the religiosity of the human mind has not decreased. This is so, because humans are not rational thinking beings in their entirety. There are many things in the human mind apart from reason and the thinking faculty. Some of them are feelings, natural instincts, desires, ideas, etc. What is the point of leading one’s life by constantly remembering one’s dead beloved, who today can neither experience happiness nor sorrow? Howsoever important this rational argument might be regarded as, someone, say a lover, might not regard this as worthy of any consideration. What is the point in struggling to keep alive a child, who cannot ever live a healthy life and who, if it lives, would lead a dependent and handicapped life? Convincing a mother of the rationale of this argument is difficult. Life is not completely determined by reason alone. All the secrets of human existence are not known to us. It is not possible for them to be known to us in the near future. Whether the idea of God is true or not, for centuries together it has provided relief to a fearful mind, and will continue to do so in the future. It is difficult for humans to be so free from fear that they would no longer require this relief. This is so, because everyone, at the minimum, is afraid of his or her own death. The fundamental basis of materialism is that what can be experienced by the senses, or what can be deduced on the basis of the experience of the senses, or what can be imagined on the basis of this experience is knowledge. But is the knowledge that is had through the medium of the senses true? Are the senses fallible and are they at times misled? Are there any limitations to the knowledge derived by the medium of the senses? To this, the atheist response is

that the senses can be misled or may be mistaken, but the fact that a mistake has been made is realised only through the senses, and a mistaken notion is corrected by way of the knowledge acquired by the senses themselves. Though it is true that the senses have limitations and cannot perceive extremely minute things, yet the microscopes which enlarge these minute things fall within the domain of the senses, and such enlarged images again fall within the domain of the senses. But there is a mode of thinking other than this materialistatheist school of thought. This method is beyond logic. Therein nothing is propounded on the basis of the logical method, and therefore nothing can be refuted on that basis. If someone states that what can be apprehended by the senses is the truth, but that which lies beyond it, that is to say, what cannot be perceived by the senses is more of the truth, how can it be refuted on the basis of logic? How can one state that what exists beyond the perception of the senses exists in the first place? Is this all that then we would ask? The answer that is given goes thus: it cannot be proven by your logic, it is beyond logic. If we ask to briefly explain the nature of its existence, we are told that it is beyond comprehension. The human habit of believing that there exists something beyond the senses, beyond logic and something that is beyond comprehension is the manifestation of a fundamental fear that lies in the human mind. Of the natural instincts, fear is one such instinct. As long as this fear exists in the human minds and as long as it is impossible for man to be entirely rational, it will be impossible to eliminate the existence of religion from society. We can break the connection that exists between the customs and practices of this world, on one hand, and the fundamental religious belief that exists in the human mind, on the other, and even if we change these customs and practices, will it be possible to eliminate this fundamental religious belief from the human mind? My answer is in the negative. This is so, because there are limitations to human rationality. It is necessary that one aspect of human life should be beyond logic, otherwise there is a danger of human beings becoming machines.

31. Religion has been defined as something that lays down a framework or structure for the society. What would be the objection to describing any given thing that contributes to the providing of a framework or structure for society as constituting a religion? We often say that the struggle of the social reform movements is against religion, this is a familiar statement. But this is often loosely used. Should there be child marriages or not? Should the heads of widows be shaved or not? Should remarriages be allowed or not? Should inter-caste marriages be permitted or not? This struggle against customs and practices, which are of a public and this-worldly character, in which all of us are involved is not really about whether God exists or not or whether liberation of the soul can be achieved or not. The problem lies with the definition of religion. We say that religion concerns itself with beliefs about the world beyond this world or other-wordly beliefs. No doubt, this connection exists, but religion also tells us how one should behave in this world in order to obtain benefits in the next world. Religion controls and guides human life in this world so that benefits can be obtained in the next world. Hence attempts to reform any custom and practice naturally are concerned, either closely or distantly, with religion as well as with the benefits in the next world. Thus, what happens is that a struggle that is against customs and practices of this world also has to be conducted as one against religion. What is observed is that customs and practices change and soon people began to say that these changes are not against religion. The fundamental religious faith of the people is not eliminated by a large scale change in the customs and practices. It is on this background that we must discuss the notion that religion provides a framework or structure for society. But this is not true. It does not mean that everything and anything that is beneficial and useful to society, is or should become a part of religion, and neither advocating this position is the purpose of this notion. What we mean by this notion is something else than what the religious minded mean by the same.

The position of the religious-minded is that omniscient sages of yore have laid down rules so that the humans would flourish and benefit in this as well as in the next world. The rules are what we know as religion. Humans benefit by following these rules. Human beings, since their intellects are limited, should not decide what should be regarded as being beneficial and how it should be obtained. This is not to be decided by the humans now, but the sages have already decided upon this long before. These sages would state what is beneficial for the humans. What kind of behaviour would prove beneficial has already been told to us by these sages. We are only supposed to unthinkingly obey. This is the position of the religiousminded. Hence, this notion does not actually mean that what provides a framework or structure for society is religion, but what it actually means is that one should believe the rules laid down by religion are necessary for providing a structure or framework for society and behave accordingly. The traditionalists quote from the scriptures in a convenient and astute manner. If the religious-minded really believe in this notion, then they should be ready to elevate economic planning, family planning, laws made by the Parliament to the status equivalent to that of religion, for all this is for the benefit of society and does provide it with a framework and structure. 32. If inequality forms the basis of Hinduism, why did people endure it for centuries? Why is there no history of revolting against it? It is true that inequality is the basis of the Hindu social structure. But this does not mean that Hinduism created inequality, but rather that it emerged out of an unequal social structure. Inequality was a characteristic feature of the olden days. Inequality existed where Hinduism prevailed, and it existed where Hinduism was not practiced. The distinctiveness of Hinduism in this context lies in that inequality received philosophical justification and was lent prestige by religion. It is true that inequality is unjust but how did humans endure this injustice for thousands of years. We dislike the very idea that humans would endure inequality and injustice, and then we impose some of our ideas on the past and we

start looking for revolts against inequality in the past. Equality and justice are ideas which are products of a civilised society. The old world regarded inequality as just. This is so because the ideas that the strong should wield power, that the weak should give away their freedom to the strong, and by relying on the strength of the latter should protect themselves and the others are the prevailing one even in the animal kingdom. Basically, human beings are in their heart of the heart afraid of freedom. They require a society and a family of their own, and a leader and a God for themselves. They are looking for such supports or props. For the common man, security is the foremost need. Freedom is not an issue of concern for everyone. If, in any given society, security is the means to an end for many sections, then the movements that seek freedom by sacrificing security are always isolated and disowned by others. The problem lies in the fact that if at a given point, a certain social structure provides humans with security, they pin their security, and it is only once that this security or protection that is being provided diminishes to a large extent that the people tend to revolt against the system. This revolt is conducted in the name of freedom, but is directed towards obtaining security afresh in the new structure. Hence when people talk of freedom, they are actually awaiting day and night for a determined and strong leader. This is so because they feel that such a strong and hard-headed leader would be trusted by all, and would provide security to all. Hence, the emergence of the movements for freedom require some preconditions in the form of a certain kinds of social situations. Movements for freedom cannot emerge without the existence of such social situations. We take a look at the history of India and ask us why revolts against slavery did not occur here. For comparison, we should look at the history of Europe. The beginnings of the Greek culture emerged in about 7 to 8 centuries before the Christian era. Its social structure too was characterised by inequality. Then Rome, an empire, emerged. Its social structure too was characterised by inequality. Later, the Roman Emperor converted to Christianity and yet the social structure of Europe was characterised by inequality. Soon the Church in stages became an organised institution. Its influence was unchallenged till the 15th century. This means that this period of history spanned two

to two-and-a-half millennium. During this period, it is true that some slaves were converted to Christianity and some Christians were enslaved, yet Christianity as a social movement cannot be regarded as a movement against slavery. Movements for equality began in Europe only when the European societies lacked security. The story is the same everywhere across the world. Whether it is Europe or India, it is only when a given social structure fails or is defeated, or a state of security ends, or a new kind of economy emerges, that fresh movements for equality are set in. Till such a state of affairs comes about, injustice is not regarded as injustice, and hence revolts against it are simply inconceivable. 33. Even if we admit that science has greatly assisted the process of modernisation of society and the development of the human race, yet science despite its proving to be a boon has proved to be a bane. What is your opinion on this? When we say that science is on the verge of becoming a bane, we have before us the weapons of the scientific age. In the last phase of the Second World War, nuclear weapons were used to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The developed countries have today manufactured atomic bombs many times horrifying than the ones that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the war against Japan. Towards the far end of the Second World War, certain kind of planes were required to drop these bombs, now it is likely that missiles would be used instead of planes. This means that both America and Russia if they so desire have the capacity to destroy the entire human race. It is always in the context of these devastating weapons of mass destruction that it is said that science is a bane. The number of countries possessing the knowledge of these destructive weapons has increased along with the extent to which these weapons are being increasingly being manufactured. At the end of the Second World War, it was only America which possessed these weapons, but today Russia, China, England and France have joined in. And there are countries like India, who if they decide to make such weapons, can do so in six months from the day that a decision is taken. The fact that the spread of nuclear weapons is terrifying is true, but there are some other fresh aspects that need to

be considered. The first point is that there is the realisation that if a third world war takes place, it would mean the end of humanity and, hence, the possibility of the occurrence of a large scale war which would engulf the entire world is almost nil, and so a new phase in international politics has begun. The destructive capacities of human beings have tremendously increased to such an extent, due to nuclear weapons, that now there is no possibility whatsoever of the outbreak of a third world war, and China has been compelled to join hands with America and Russia in endeavouring to avoid such a world war. Since the very existence of the human race is at stake, the idea of a large scale conflict that would engulf the word is impossible. Hence, small countries have become fearless. Small and weak countries have realised that no one can eliminate their existence. That is why they have become as fearless as they were never before. This does not mean that in today’s world, aggression is impossible, oppression is impossible, and that it is impossible to enslave a country, but it means that the scope of conflict per se has diminished. This is what I mean, and nothing more than this. But rather than war, the danger emanating from science is greater and more terrifying. Today the eyes of one person can be implanted into another person. Attempts are being made to fit the limbs and organs of one person into the body of another. Conception without male participation by means of artificial insemination is round the corner, and machines are being used in developed countries to fertilise human eggs. This research will culminate in the possibility of the creation of human beings in laboratories without the participation of males or females. The day this becomes possible human beings would be converted into machines which can be manufactured as per need and into commodities which would be supplied according to demand. The day this happens a massive transformation in human values would occur. The very idea of this happening is terrifying. I am more worried about these scientific and research developments in the field of genetics. While taking into account this terrifying nature of science, it is difficult to know how to save ourselves from such a state of affairs. One does not know whether we can abandon science and thus turn the clock back so as to return to the past. Our announcement that we would

provide everyone with adequate food, clothing, and a minimum necessary education means we have surrendered to science. Without large dams, wherever possible, and small dams and canals, wherever large dams are not possible, on one hand, and on the other, the newer breeds of seeds and chemical fertilizers created by science, it is impossible to imagine that we would be able to provide adequate food to everyone. While opposing the use of machines, we cannot forget that by relying on traditional agricultural practices as wells as on the traditional seeds and fertilizers, India cannot bear the burden of 55 crore of Indians. And if we want to clothe everyone, then handlooms and textile mills would not be able to manufacture the amount of cloth required to do so. If we wish to educate everyone, then paper mills and printing presses cannot be avoided, because we will have to provide more books and notebooks to crores of students. When India’s population was 20 crores, the country was faced with a famine in every decade, and in those days three quarters of the population was half-naked. The issue of providing everyone with a minimum civilised standard of living is inevitably connected with a scientific outlook. We have no path by which we can turn back. Hence, we have no option than to adhere to science. On one hand, we admit the terrifying nature of science, and on the other, we realise the inevitability of science. Once we adopt this position, science becomes an unavoidable companion, and then we have to think of the extent to which science should be used and the kinds of science that we need. Once we come to this point, there emerges the need to seriously consider Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas and their relevance. It is a well-known fact that Mahatma Gandhi was an advocate of decentralization and Gram-Swarajya. Prior to independence, foreign goods were a contributory factor in the exploitation of India. Hence, there has been an insistence on indigenous goods from Lokhitwadi’s times. This insistence increased during Tilak’s times, and Gandhiji converted it into a broader movement. After independence, we have, with foreign assistance, embarked on the process of mechanization of the country. We accepted the idea of the boycott of foreign goods, and even today all of us insist on making India self-reliant. Even if we

are ready to abandon machinery on the grounds that it is manufactured in foreign lands, we should note that basically even Gandhiji himself was not able to convince the Congress on the issue of opposition to machines. The Congress always remained a supporter of modern mechanization. The reason why it advocated mechanization was that it was a pro-capitalist organization. But yet even the socialists who are not pro-capitalists cannot escape the responsibility of providing the masses with adequate food and clothing. Hence, they cannot avoid the responsibility of accepting machines. We can advance a fresh argument in the context of Gandhiji’s stance of opposing machines, and the argument that is put forth goes thus: These days Sarvodaya activists claim that they are not opposed to machines, but rather are opposed to machines which replace humans thus rendering the latter unemployed. Machines should increase the capacity of human beings and be beneficial to them. It should not replace humans. We must understand that this is in a sense a way of evading the main question. If one individual using a spinning wheel can spin yarn which would be adequate enough to clothe two individuals in a year, then to clothe the entire population, a half of this population would have to be involved in the spinning of yarn on a fulltime basis. No society can afford this. If we use a charkha instead of a takli or spindle, then production is doubled, and if the Ambar charkha is used, the levels of production increase even further. In this manner, machines enhance the power of human beings. The point is that only when an individual starts to produce an amount of yarn hundred times that of the quantum produced right now by using a takli or a spindle will then it be enough for us to employ only 1/10th of the population to be engaged in the production of cloth. It is only by providing answers to questions like how much leisure a human being should have, what his or her needs are, and how much emphasis should be placed on these needs that then we can decide upon the extent to which we require machines. Complicated machines are not the outcome of scientific findings but the needs of society. In such a state of affairs, we cannot free ourselves from our reliance on machines. The world in which there were hardly any machines was

not a very happy one. It was a one filled with uneducated and halfhungry slaves. In this context, we can think of the extent or the degree but not in terms of the kind. We can think about which machines to use and to what extent they should be used. We can think of the use to which science can be put and to what extent it should be used, but we cannot simply pose the question whether science should be used or not, because there is no substitute for science. The dangers that science creates cannot be resolved by abandoning science, but by it to find out scientific solutions to the problems created by science. For the intellectuals of the 19th century, science was a divine deity, for the intellectuals of the 20th century, science is an unavoidable companion. 34. In parliamentary democracy, political parties are regarded as being absolutely necessary. Are there no other means of making democracy successful? For instance cannot we think of nonparty democracy? Non-party democracy means the idea that good people should become or be made the rulers. In principle, no one can really object to it. Since the days of Plato, philosophers have been making attempts to bring into being philosopher-kings. Everyone feels that their leader should be intelligent, an expert on the way society functions, should possess foresight and think and act accordingly, and be selfless and responsible. But the issue is that of practicalities. Non-party democracy has not yet been able to answer the question about practicalities. This question about practicalities relates to elections. When a number of individuals contest the elections and ask the voters to vote for them, only one of these contestants is elected by the voters who do so by using their votes. We regard this method as being faulty. And even if we devise a system whereby no one would be allowed to contest, in the sense no one would be allowed to put forth his or her own candidature, but rather the people should be asked to nominate someone, even then the drawbacks observed in a democratic system

would not be done away with. Just as individual contestants campaign and ask the voters to vote for themselves, so also those desirous of becoming elected representatives would canvass the others and ask them to nominate their names for such offices. So what we would have is a situation where instead of the hopefuls contesting on their own, their names would be suggested by third parties. Then ultimately, the one whose name receives the highest number of nominations would have to be made the leader. Who can guarantee that the person so suggested would be more honest and better than the person who would have been elected? If the voter is adequately aware, then since voting is secret, he or she would be able to vote for anyone who he or she desires. But when a voter votes for someone, whom he or she wants as his or her leader, he or she expresses his or her voting preferences in the context of his or her needs. Even when persons would be nominated, they would be nominated in the light of the voters’ needs. The notion that elections in a non-party democracy would lead to a better kind of rulers is naive. Ultimately, the issue is not whether individuals are good or bad. Suppose that a given individual is a good human being, noble, has performed many a good deeds and is religious, but wants the interest rate to be 120 per cent, or to put in simple language for every rupee borrowed, the interest per month should be 1.20 rupees, and feels that this is reasonable. So, howsoever good this person might be, it is beyond doubt that his policy would be one that would benefit the moneylenders. Just because a person is good, that does not mean he knows the difference between what is beneficial for society and what is not, and what is just and what is not. The real issue is not whether a person is good or bad but what his or her policies are. Policies in our country have to be of an all-India character that is to say ones that would necessarily have to be implemented throughout the country. The system of voting for a country-wide set of policies or programmes is what is meant by parliamentary democracy based on political parties. A person’s integrity and honesty is important, but the most important are his or her policies, of secondary importance is the person’s integrity. This is because the real question about an

egalitarian system is how is it to be brought about and not primarily about an individual’s goodness. If a policy states that there should be no restrictions on how does one make money, and the person who contests election on this platform is a man of integrity, that is to say one who would thoroughly implement this policy, then this is even more dangerous than a dishonest person who advocates a policy of bringing about equality. This is so, because even the dishonest have to undertake some measure or the other to keep up the pretence that they are bringing about equality. The question whether a democratic system should be based on political parties or should be a nonparty one is ultimately connected with whether we should be governed on the basis of policies or should we leave everything on the goodness of people. What guarantee is that when we gather together individuals of integrity, these individuals in order to resolve their differences, with great sincerity, would not start killing each other? For in the final analysis, when they sit in the parliament, they have to enact policies. If we take a look at the history of what we call parliamentary democracy or what we describe as modern democracy, then in the initial days this system did not have political parties. Individuals were elected qua individuals, but soon they soon required policies in order to answer the question as to why people should elect them. Parties are formed on the basis of policies. These policies are not always economic in character. There are policies of other kinds but the policies of an economic nature can bring about a social order of a more stable kind. Non-party democracy attempts to resolve problems facing society relying on the goodness of individuals, but cannot guarantee that good people would succeed in getting elected. Democracy based on political parties also cannot guarantee this. But it attempts to change the social order on the basis of policies. Ultimately, the fundamental question is whether we are going to accept the principle of elections or not? Whether people are to cast their votes or whether they are to suggest someone else’s name, people are to elect their representatives. As long as people are to elect their representatives,

they would think about the level of trust that they would have in him or her, the affection that they would have, and would also think about policies. At times they would reject a good person, because they do not like his programme, at times would reject a good programme, because they dislike a given individual. But this is what only the people would always necessarily do. For some third party to prepare a flawless list of good people for the masses is nothing but dictatorship. No one would say that parliamentary democracy has no flaws. But our experience of the Gram Panchayats elected on a non-party basis is the same as when candidates were elected on a party political basis or as representatives of their respective parties. If we wish to eliminate the drawbacks of party democracy, then the solution is enhancing awareness among the voters and making the government more responsible. Some people advocate that party democracy should be eliminated and people should be taught not to think about policies. But when people stop thinking about policies, then the system that replaces it is even more corrupt, and individual freedom is strangled. The drawbacks of democracy are not eliminated by this, but dictatorship comes closer. Hence I regard political parties are indispensable to not just parliamentary democracy but to all kinds of democracy. 35. To what extent is there the need for socialist youth organisations that desire to transform society in a socialist direction through educational and constructive activities to regard ideologically similar political parties as their frontal organisations? The task of social transformation is an act of evolutionary change though constructive programmes for the betterment of society. No transformation can take place without constructive activities, organisational building, and education. When we talk of educational activities, what do we exactly mean? We educate people about the need for social transformation through our curriculum and thereby create an activist who insists on this transformation. What is social transformation? Why should it be implemented? What are the

complexities involved in it? What are the difficulties? By providing answers to these questions we are bringing forth a class of disciplined insistent activists. These activities can be called educational activities. The purpose of socialist education itself is to create a socialist activist. The same can be said about constructive activities. The objective of constructive activities is to conduct some activities in line with the kind of transformation that we aspire to achieve in society, and on the basis of these activities create a favourable atmosphere in society for this transformation. I do regard cleaning of villages or Gram Safai as a constructive activity. Through this, we tell the people the importance of cleanliness. We attempt to make them aware of their problems. We tell them which of their problems can be resolved without the assistance of political power through the means of co-operation and self-reliance. Thus, the nature of constructive activities is two-fold. We embark upon some useful activities which go on continuously, through them the activists receive education about how to conduct them, learn about the details of how to implement these activities and at the same time the problems in doing so, the society learns of the possibilities of transformation and is convinced of its appropriateness, and the aspiration for transformation among the masses is created. Thus, the purpose of constructive activities is once again the creation of activists for the task of social transformation and to shape public opinion for the same. Political power is the most effective weapon for social transformation. While it is true that political power by itself does not lead to transformation, but in a democracy we stand before the people on the basis of a programme. When we win elections by a majority, we are sure that we have public opinion on a large scale backing us. Hence, elections in a democracy are regarded as an opportunity for public education. Power needs to be obtained in order to transform society, and to do so needs an organisation. This organisation consists of activists who have emerged by conducting educational and constructive activities and have been influenced by them. What should be the kind of relationship of an organisation like the Seva Dal whose main sphere of action is educational and

constructive activities with political organisations? This question has arisen due to a certain state of affairs. The activists of those political parties which the Seva Dal has regarded as its frontal organisations were not under the influence or control of the Seva Dal activists, and hence the Seva Dal has suffered to a large extent due to the problems that these parties found themselves in. This issue has arisen due to a given situation. In my opinion, the answer to this question is very simple. There should be no objection to youth organisation like the Seva Dal publicly stating which of the political parties, it feels, shares its idealism. In a multi-party country like India, perhaps the Seva Dal might find it difficult to name one and only one party towards which it feels closeness, but there would be no difficulty in identifying say two or three parties towards which it feels close. The real issue is not the declaring the name of a party towards which one feels closeness, but rather participating in actual politics on behalf of this party. I do not think that organisations like the Seva Dal should participate in actual politics on a regular basis. Of course, I am ready to make an exception in the times of emergency. I am of the opinion that the Seva Dal is not a mass organisation, and many would find this opinion of mine rather strange, but I do hold it. When one talks of a mass organisation, it has been formed by the coming together of all sorts of people. When making public statements and acting has to keep in mind political exigencies and what would be useful and convenient to one’s own organisation and what would be not, and has to garner as much support as it can. An organisation like the Seva Dal is primarily a one comprising of young people whose personalities are still in the process of formation. It is a school for the constructive activists. There is no point in collecting all kinds of garbage in this school. It has to shape capable persons. What is the programmatic content of a given political party? What is the rhetoric that it employs? What is the kind of opportunism that it indulges in? What is the nature of its irresponsible behaviour? These points must be explained to the Seva Dal activists on a daily basis. The day such schools which shape up individuals into activists are joined up with the hurly-burly and rough and tumble of day-to-day politics, that day these schools will cease to be educational and

constructive organisations of the youth and instead will become a part and parcel of the hooliganism of politics. Self-reflection is a regular and a very important aspect of socialism, and hence there is a need for the Seva Dal to fearlessly study those organisations which it chooses to regard as its own in a critical manner. This is so, because the faults of these organisations are after all our drawbacks which, in turn, are obstacles to our idealism. 36. What should be the policy of youth organisations towards satyagraha and civil disobedience? There is no need for youth organisations to actually launch or practice satyagraha and civil disobedience on a regular basis. This is so, because I have already expressed my opinion that youth organisations should not be organisations which actually participate in politics. But there is a need for such organisations to reflect on the issue of satyagraha and civil disobedience. Civil disobedience, on one hand, is an activity that seeks to draw the attention of the government to injustice, and on the other, seeks to awaken and organise public opinion on this count. Just as it is an activity that seeks to break laws, simultaneously it is an activity that adheres to laws. These days, youth organisations do practice civil disobedience, but do not wish to take the responsibility for this action of theirs. When a particular law is sought to be broken, it must be proclaimed publicly that we are going to break a particular law, and it should be violated publicly. When one is arrested for this violation, and produced before the court, one must accept the charge that one has broken the law and accepted whatever punishment is handed out. In the preindependence period, it was admitted that the law was broken, no witnesses were produced in defence and no appeals were made to the higher courts. It is only when we claim that we have not broken the law that the question of mounting a defence arises, and it is only when a defence is mounted that the question of appealing to a higher court on the grounds that the lower court was unjust arises. When we state that, yes, we have broken the law, we admit the charges framed against us, and that the offence was committed deliberately and not unknowingly, this means that we are stating that we would like to be

handed the largest possible quantum of punishment prescribed by law. Thus the question of appealing against the verdict does not arise at all. Those satyagrahis who participate in the satyagrahas do not run away despite the possibility of doing so, not even when the police are arresting them. They do not break out from prisons, and neither do they roam around seeking assistance from others by listing and reciting the damages that they have suffered due to their participation in civil disobedience. The satyagrahi has to obey laws, he or she is disciplined, and goes to prison in a disciplined manner. Hence the expectation is that a responsible minded activist who has inculcated discipline within himself or herself would emerge out of civil disobedience. It, on the one hand, makes society fearless and publicizes injustice, and on the other, inculcates discipline in society. It enhances the society’s capacity to combat injustice in an organised manner, and brings forth responsible minded activists. Democracy is further strengthened through the medium of satyagraha. The integrity of the activists is severely tested and emerges as tested. The Goa Liberation Satyagraha is a great struggle of this kind in the postindependence period. To organise a morchas or protest march, and then to riot when the police baton-charge this morcha, then to deny having committed any offence when arrested, then further to ask for the postponement of exams on the grounds that time was wasted due to rioting, to demand that the exams be conducted once again on the ground that the previous ones were boycotted, to leave the examination halls on the ground that the question paper was difficult, none of these acts I consider as being in consonance with the spirit of satyagraha. I have not mentioned gherao here, for I feel that a gherao can be conducted in a disciplined manner, one which adheres to the principle of satyagraha. A couple of years earlier, the socialists had conducted a satyagraha on the land question. Generally, the satyagahis who participated were sentenced to a week’s imprisonment. But at one place, the court sentenced them to six months of imprisonment. Immediately, the guilty sought an appeal in the higher courts. I consider this action to be mockery of satyagraha.

It is often said that the government does not pay attention earnestly to peaceful agitations, that satyagrahas are often derided, and that the people are deliberately provoked into violence. All this is true, but it is not the complete truth. Even in the pre-independence days, satyagrahas were derided. There were constant attempts to downplay the seriousness of this method of agitation. People were provoked by unnecessarily lathi-charging them, and in the postindependence period, the Portuguese committed serious atrocities on non-violent satyagrahis during the Goa liberation satyagraha. But when an issue has taken hold of the minds of the masses, determination on part of those who are participating in the agitation and the atrocities committed against those involved in it make the situation even more serious. Those who desire that an issue should be resolved in a cordial and friendly atmosphere without those involved in the agitation over the same suffering any significant losses should not tread along the path of satyagraha, and those who justify rioting should not talk of satyagraha. These days we seem to have lost sight of the fact that the riots against a government which has been elected by the people is even more unjustified than the riots against a foreign government. The story of party-based democracy in our country is rather bizarre. The government of one’s own people is more irresponsible and unmindful than the foreign rulers were, and at the same time it is so weak that it is gets quickly frightened as a result of a large-scale riot. Hence there is an increasing tendency among the political parties to take the easy way out by converting agitations into riots, and then justifying these riots. Even if we admit that the largest share of the blame lies on the shoulders of the ruling party, the opposition parties too cannot escape their share of the blame. The reality is that we do not regard the government which has come to power through elections as the government that is- representative of the people. When we win, we feel that the wise masses have taught an excellent lesson to the corrupt ruling party by voting in the right manner, and when we lose, we feel that corruption, casteism, power, money, and muscle power have won. We have realised quite clearly from the results of the 1967 elections and also during the Samyukta Maharashtra movement that if the feelings of the people are

genuinely sharp, then money and muscle power cannot influence voting patterns. Instead of trying to find out why the mandate shifted back to the ruling party, we are demanding judicial investigations into the quality of the ink that was used to mark the voters’ fingers. Those who do not wish to show adequate respect to the government that has been elected by the people should not talk of democracy and satyagraha. Some people claim that Satyagraha has no place in a democracy based on adult franchise for the government has been elected by the people, and their argument is that it is improper that we should conduct a satyagraha against the people’s representatives. This claim is based on mistaken assumptions. These are firstly, people did vote for a programme, secondly, the government is supported by a majority of the people, and thirdly, the government is strictly implementing this programme. All the three are misleading. The people do consider the programme while voting, but there are other factors as well. Besides, it is not the case that the people have understood a given programme in the first place. Since elections are based on the territorialgeographical principle, the party which enjoys a majority in the parliament or the state assembly does not always necessarily enjoy the support of the majority of the people. On the contrary, it has not even secured a majority of the votes polled, and neither does it honestly implement its programme. Hence there is nothing wrong in conducting or organising a satyagraha against the people’s representatives and a democratically elected government. Even if it is assumed for the sake of argument that the people have voted for a programme, the government is supported by the majority of the people, and the government is committed to the implementation of its programme, even then there is scope for satyagraha. This is so because satyagraha is a means of selfmortification adopted by the activists in the public interest, and if there is no widespread public sympathy for it then these agitations would not receive any response from the masses. Even those who are in a minority have the right to insist upon certain things for the interests of the people. Hence I consider that satyagraha has a place in a democracy. Not just that, I feel that it is central to the process of the maturation of democracy.

37. Due to democratic decentralization, we see that power at the state-level is in the hands of those communities that are numerically strong in a given state. How can this be changed? India is a country that comprises of a wide variety of castes, communities, religions and languages. But most castes and communities belong to a single linguistic group, and, hence, no single caste or community can possibly assume power over the country as a whole on the strength of its numbers. Whether it is a single caste or a single province, no single entity, say for instance a province or state, can dominate national politics on the basis of its own numerical strength. Three successive prime ministers have hailed from Uttar Pradesh, but if we take a closer look at the strong points of these individuals we realise that they enjoyed a majority among all significant sections of people which are influential in the politics of India. If we think about groupings on a geographical basis, then Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir constitute one group. Bengal, Orissa and Assam comprise the second group. Madras, Kerala, Andhra and Karnataka comprise the third one, and rest can be easily divided into two groups. The one whom a majority among each of these three groups mentioned above support can only command a majority in the Lok Sabha and in the ruling party, and this leader who enjoys a majority has to keep the regional satraps happy. Indira Gandhi’s strength does not lie in the fact that Uttar Pradesh supports her. Her strength lies in the fact that when differences emerged between her and Kamraj, her and Nijlingappa, between her and S.K. Patil, the majority of the people of Madras, Karnataka and Bombay supported her. The same was the case with Pandit Nehru. They did not possess this strength because they belonged to a particular caste or province. If we consider the tremendous amount of power that has been centralised in the hands of the central government in the Indian political system as well as the huge capacity and the concomitant power that it possesses so as to enable it to effect fundamental social transformation, then we realise that a majority acquired on the basis of caste or province is not of much use in capturing the fundamental levers of power of this country. On the contrary, the reality is that a leader who has or is excessively

identified with a particular caste or province fails in becoming a national leader. All those fundamental and important laws are to be made by the parliament, and are to be applicable to the entire country. Hence, here, casteism does not emerge stronger in any measure as a countervailing force. Casteism is much stronger at the state level than at the national level. But the laws that are made by the state government are applicable to all the castes and communities and throughout the state. The fact that political power at the state level is in the hands of the caste or community that possesses a numerical majority is, no doubt, true, but equally true is the fact that huge numbers of the poor also belong to the same caste and community. We see that on the face of it, power in Maharashtra has been concentrated in the hands of the Maratha community, but this is not entirely true. The real story is that all the untouchables except the Mahars, almost all the tribals, the wealthy and numerically strong castes, the bulk of the Muslims, and the important sections of the Maratha community have been brought together and hence the Congress rule in Maharashtra has achieved stability. If all the untouchables, all the tribals and all the Muslims unite, then whosover they support would come to power. The Maratha community by itself cannot exercise control over the levers of power. We conveniently forget this reality. The joint strength of the tribals and the untouchables particularly makes them a strong force in Maharashtra, and this force has been brought closer to itself by the ruling party. A similar picture is seen in most of the Indian states. Even in Uttar Pradesh, whichever party garners the support of the numerically strong untouchables and the Muslims support comes to power. The picture that we see today that political power has gone into the hands of the caste which constitute a majority is not as true as it appears to be. The truth is that some minority castes which were regarded as important, due to the influence of traditions, have been pushed aside, but the numerically largest caste has created its strength by bringing along with itself many other minority castes. So it should be clear that fear of a single caste controlling power at the state level is largely misplaced.

The state governments rule over a single state. The taxes that they levy are applicable for the entire state, and, thus, since the law is the same for all, the importance that castes have acquired is limited only to a transitional period, and even then the rich and the poor among any given caste would not stay united for long. Those communities which are uniformly wealthy are numerically insignificant. Those castes which are uniformly poor will be able to sustain their caste organisations, but these organisations will be those which would demand economic equality. An objective researcher does not obtain much evidence to prove that casteism has increased due to democratic decentralisation. It is true that castes are an influential factor in Indian politics, but they are not a decisive factor. What has proved decisive is that none of the castes really have sharply felt the need to change the traditional mode of life. Even the politics of the untouchables regard educational concessions and largescale employment opportunities as being sufficient. Even they hardly think of fundamental social transformation. 38. Should religious festivals like the Ganesh festival be regarded as national celebrations by the socialist minded individuals? My opinion on this issue is different than the positions of the general run of socialists. In every society, its culture is largely coloured by religion, for the old world was primarily a religious one. If we decide to avoid everything that has some connection or the other with religion, then our cultural life will come to nothing. On the contrary, my position is that we should attempt to diminish the religious component and increase the national component of those aspects of public life which are linked with religion. An instance of this can be the Ganesh festival. I am of the opinion that the Seva Dal should celebrate the Ganesh festival everywhere. The practice of celebrating the Ganesh festival is now an established one in society. It is because the Peshwas were Chitpavan Brahmins and worshippers of Ganesh, that this festival acquired excessive importance during their rule. It was Lokmanya Tilak who gave this religious festival a national character. Today, this festival is celebrated on a large scale. My stance is that the religious aspect of this festival should be minimised as far as

possible. Wherever possible, the ritual installation of the idol should take place at the hands of the untouchables, non-Hindus, Christians, Muslims etc. At very the least, the condition that the individual at whose hands the installation is being done should not be a Brahmin should be strictly followed. Where possible a Brahmin should be asked to conduct the worship ceremony, and if that is not possible then printed booklets describing the ceremony that are available everywhere cheaply should be used. Any non-Brahmin can be asked to conduct the ceremony. This issue should not be of much concern. Using the occasion of the festival, lectures on various topics should be organised during these 9 days. If religious ceremonies are to be organised, they should be those of different religions. The immersion procession should be as far as possible a multi-religious affair. This means that I am more concerned that a festival so deep-rooted in society should not fall solely into the hands of the orthodox, and that something that enjoys great prestige among the people should not become a monopoly of the traditionalists. Some years ago, the ritual installation of the idol of Ganesh had taken place at the hands of a Muslim minister to the accompaniment of traditional musical instruments. I regard this as a welcome development. I do not believe that we should regard religious matters as not worthy of our consideration and neglect them. I feel that they should be utilised in public life and at the same time their religious component should be eliminated. I feel that if adherents of other religions are willing to organise such programmes, then we should participate in them with even greater enthusiasm. I am ready to deliver a lecture at any Eid function on the theme as to how religion now is no longer adequate to regulate social life today, but then there should be people willing to invite me. I never let go of an opportunity to discuss the nature of Hinduism at any function organised as a part of the Ganesh festival. What is true of the Ganesh festival is also true of the Sharda festival. 39. Since the 19th century, a renaissance began throughout the country. What is your opinion about the leaders of this renaissance?

I have boundless respect for all these leaders. As far as Maharashtra is concerned, I have boundless respect for Lokhitawadi, Agarkar, Mahatma Phule, Maharshi Karve, Babsaheb Ambedkar, Ranade, Tilak, Gokhale etc. I also have respect for Tata, Kirloskar and Walchand, individuals who were capitalists. The fact that we do not discuss the strong points as well as the limitations of these great men is a matter of regret. We shower praises on them and sing paeans to them as if none of them had any limitations. Their ideas were shaped and sharpened by the times they were born in. This was the reason for the limitations of their understanding of the society around them. Sometimes we go to the other extreme, and keep on recounting their shortcomings, as if these personalities had no share in the all-round renewal that took place in Maharashtra. Many a times we catch hold of our favourite ideas from among the ideas of these leaders and simply attribute the rest to the diseased mentality of the followers of these leaders. I am someone who has boundless respect for these individuals, but I cannot cease my quest of discovering their strengths as wells as their weaknesses of these leaders because of my respect for them. We should take it for granted that this two-fold quest is bound to infuriate some blind followers. Therefore it is necessary to discuss and mention in brief the framework that I have laid down within which the contributions of these leaders are to be considered. All these leaders were born under foreign rule and conducted the bulk of their activities under colonial rule. These individuals often were the adversaries of each other in those days. To objectively evaluate these leaders, we must, to a certain extent, understand the complexities of the life in a dependent nation. The fact of India being a slave of the British was a complex phenomenon. This is so because some Indians fought under the leadership of the British against other Indians, and the wealth that was used to finance these wars was created in India. Industrial, social and political backwardness went hand in hand with the total absence of patriotism. Such countries do not become independent unless they absorb new ideas and abandon the old social structure. Hence, one has to take a position that social reforms must take precedence over political reforms. The social reformers of this period who kept silent on the need for political freedom or even disdained those agitated for

this cause were patriots of the first order. Even they longed for freedom. They thirsted for self-rule. But they felt that such a political agitation was impossible unless the society was transformed. This stance is, no doubt, important, but we should at the same time understand the limitations of this position. These days a consensus seems to have been formed about these social reformers and hence we have taken to praising them without any reservations, but we seem to have forgotten the limitations of this reformism. The social reformers of the 19th century believed that the British rule in India was a regime that had come to this country for the welfare of its people. Since it was the British that began modern education and women’s education in this country and had accepted the right of lower castes to seek education, the trust that the social reformers had reposed in the British rule naturally increased. This British rule primarily was a regime that created servants in order to assist in the conduct of their rule. There was no reason for the British to be ready to spend the amounts necessary to modernise and educate the entire country, and to end in stages the economic exploitation of the country. There was no reason for the British to feel the need to do away with the inequality that prevailed in this country, to modernise the country, and to fundamentally reshape the Indian society. Hence the social reforms that were initiated had many limitations. Unless the British rule over India ceased, social reforms beyond a point were simply not possible. The demand for political reforms that emerged and the desire for freedom that increased especially after 1885, both under the aegis of the Congress paid close attention to economic exploitation. Intellectuals like Dadabhai Naoroji had primarily drawn our attention to economic issues. This means that those who insisted on political reforms and political freedom being prioritised over social reforms were not altogether wrong. They too had a point. It is also true that the agitation for political freedom was not possible unless a new mindset, sought to be brought about by the social reform school, had, to a certain extent emerged, and it is equally true that a radical restructuring of society was not possible unless political freedom was achieved. The leaders of our 19th century

enlightenment adopted one of these two positions and concentrated their energies accordingly. Later on, in Gandhiji’s movement and the socialist movement, these two positions merged and were integrated. Thus, those who relatively neglected the issue of social reforms, those who relatively neglected the cause of political freedom and also those who concentrated on establishing new industries in the country, all of them in their own way, were laying the foundations of a new India. I am grateful to them all, while, at the same time, being aware of their limitations. It was impossible for these two streams to stay apart from each other. Just as a movement has an ultimate objective, it also has an immediate programme of action. If obtaining political freedom was the ultimate objective, then constantly demanding and agitating for political rights, demanding a greater share in the governance of the country, and ensuring that the people were mobilised in support of these demands, is something that those who seek a political revolution have to do. Those who do this often do not comprehend the social aspects of their activities. When Vasudeo Balwant Phadke talked of a republic, this did not mean that he had understood all the complexities inherent in democracy, and, hence, when those leaders, who concentrated their attention on political freedom, advocated English education, talked of adult franchise or the rights of the peasantry, they embarked, albeit haltingly or unknowingly, on a journey towards social restructuring. When an individual like Lokamanya Tilak started to talk of adult franchise, abolition of untouchability and swadeshi, though he was consciously and deliberately a traditionalist as far as social life was concerned, he unknowingly became a social reformist. We should note that something similar happened in the case of the social reformers. Since they desired to do away with economic exploitation, they had to consider political matters, and while doing so, often used to reach a point where they thought of freedom. This is the reason why leaders like Gokhale, who believed that British rule was a form of divine dispensation for India, found the no-tax campaign justifiable and reasonable.

While thinking of this process of renaissance and reformation, two more aspects need to be considered. Firstly, Lokhitwadi and Agarkar were writing primarily for the Brahmins. The two were in favour of social equality. They were reformists, were against customary practices, and were rationalists, but yet they were primarily addressing the social elites. The two felt that these elites took pride in foolish things, thought of themselves as being intelligent but were really speaking fools of the first order, possessed a limited intellect and hence loved traditional practices, and had adopted a suicidal attitude. The two sought to make these elites more aware and cleareyed by telling them something that would be advantageous to these very elites. Lokahitwadi, Ranade and Agarkar do not seem to have realised that these elites were shrewd and calculating, and that since the new social reforms that were being advocated were likely to damage the interests of this class, the possibility that they would favour these reforms was rather limited. There is no evidence to show that the three deliberately organised the lower classes against the elites. Lack of awareness about the vested interests involved in the very process of social reforms constitutes an important limitation of this social reformist position. These individuals could convey new ideas to the educated elites, but could not build up a mass movement against social slavery. The same could be said about the reformminded princes. They could establish schools for the untouchables, increase educational facilities, but it simply impossible for them to have sympathies for the peasants’ struggle against the landlords, that of the workers’ against the employers and that against the British rule, for their vested interests were involved in the princely regimes. It is in this context that we should look at Phule in a new light. Instead of quibbling about details and being pedantic by saying this or that of his statements is factually incorrect, it must be noted that his movement was one of the lower classes against slavery. We should also understand that his movement was a struggle for complete equality in all spheres of life. In public and social life, ideas must be backed by action, which, in turn, needs to be supported by organisational strength. Those leaders who follow this path must be prepared, to some extent, to make some sacrifices and also must possess, again to some extent, the capacity to rebel. We must reduce

the praise we offer to those who merely preach and that, too, from a safe distance instead of acting, and be ready to objectively evaluate those take up arms for a cause that is of a fundamental character. All these individuals expanded the scope of life that had been handed down to us by tradition. The political reformers created a new nationalism in this new way of life, and drew our attention to economic poverty. The social reformers drew attention to social slavery and economic poverty. Some bequeathed to us new ideas, while others left us new kinds of movements as their legacy. All these developments were novel for the traditional way of life. The feeling of belonging to a single nation too was a new feeling. It was only the political reformers, and not others, who had to struggle against the traditionalists in order to inculcate this feeling among society. 40. Organisation entails discipline, while democracy gives more importance to individual freedom. Hence the question is whether an organisation can be built on democratic values? And can a long-term programme of action be formulated and then sustained over a period of time in such an organisation where individual freedom of opinion and action derived from democratic values is given importance? These days, increasingly I have the suspicion that, perhaps, we are interpreting the concept of individual freedom not as the right to think on our own but rather as the responsibility of thinking on our own. Though each individual possesses freedom, the needs of individuals are the same, and, hence, there must be numerous individuals who have the same demands, and those who think alike come together in a single organisation. Now, there can be, at the most, two or three viewpoints about a given issue, and individuals generally adopt either of these. This is an aspect of individual freedom. But I do not think that all individuals should be made to or compelled to thinking on lines different and distinctive from the rest. It is impossible even in principle that each and every individual would think differently. Let us take the instance of Israel. Generally speaking there can be three positions on the issue of Israel. Firstly, it should not be recognised in any manner and no contacts should be maintained with it. Secondly, one should have commercial, but not political relations with it. Thirdly,

Israel should be recognised in an as complete a manner as all other countries are. We see these three broad positions exist. Each individual should be free to adopt any one of these three positions, and I regard this as a part of individual freedom. But if we are to compel each individual to think independently and have a position different from than the rest, then each of the 50 crore individuals would have to take 50 crore different positions. This is impossible even in theory. The needs of the individual are the same. Their aspirations are also similar to a large extent. Hence, groups comprising of individuals, who think similarly, are established in any society. Each individual does not think differently. When like-minded groups come together, organisations are established. Hence, at least, I do not see any reason to consider organisations and individual freedom as being fundamentally contradictory to each other. A given individual reflects and thinks upon thousands of issues. He or she decides which of them are important and which of them secondary. A distinction is also made among the important ones and they are divided into those which are merely important and those which are really crucial. Despite having mutually contradictory opinions on the secondary issues, people who agree on the fundamental ones stay together. In any case, there are no two people who are in 100 per cent agreement on all issues, no, not even husbands and wives. In my case, many a times I feel that my opinions are mistaken and I change them. After some days, I feel that my new opinions are mistaken and I revert to my previous ones. On many minor issues, I always have differences with myself. In any organisation, there are fundamental issues, important ones and secondary ones. Differences of opinion over which of these should be made into a question of maintaining organisational discipline and how much energy should be expended over these issues ultimately depends on one’s sense of proportion and discrimination. There are issues on which the entire world stands on one side, and one stands on the other, yet one is compelled to stand firm on one’s position. Then there are some issues on which if the majority takes up a position and one takes up an opposing stance, then one has to sincerely accept the decision of the majority, and then there are some

issues where the majority has to set aside its opinions and respectfully accept the minority opinion. Here a sense of proportion and discrimination comes into play. If there exists unanimity on fundamental questions and a consensus on important questions among certain individuals, and if an organisation is established on this basis, then there exists no dichotomy between individual freedom and the discipline required by an organization. The real question is that of when should a majority be respected and its decisions accepted and when it should be not, that is to say recognising where lies the dividing line between self-respect and arrogance. The problem faced by organisations arise due to the irresponsible attitudes and positions adopted by the arrogant egoists and those who deify them. Organisations do not have a problem with individual freedom. On the contrary, history shows that those countries which have insisted on individual freedom have built up strong organisations. The obsolete, out-dated texts on political science often make the claims the dictatorships are more effective and efficient than democracies. As if being a dictatorship determines the pace of progress and development. The evidence of the history of the world is against this assertion. The old world was full of monarchs and dictators and was inefficient. We see that the dictatorships in the world around us are slow and inefficient, and lack direction and speed. The Mughal rule was not efficient in any measure, or neither was it the case that its efficiency had decreased due to the presence of individual freedom of the kind that is characteristic of the democracies. Multiple stresses and strains also exist in dictatorships and these reduce its efficiency. On the other hand, democracies do not seem to fall short on the count of efficiency. The two modern centres of democracy, England and America, are rightly well-known for their efficiency. The real difference between democracy and dictatorship does not lie in efficiency. In democracies, decisions are taken after taking into account the diverse interests of many and after considerable debate and discussion, and all this happen publicly. This causes delays, and people living in democracies are aware of this fact. In dictatorships, a

handful of people take the decisions in the interests of all, and decide what is meant by the welfare of all. All this happens secretly and behind the scenes over a long period of time, but no one really knows what is going on. Hence, it is felt that in dictatorships decisions are taken quickly and swiftly. In dictatorships, no one is permitted to dissent or to oppose decisions, and, hence, it appears that efficiency has increased. Given that obstacles are posed to efficient functioning when people work unwillingly, given that obstacles are posed to the creation of knowledge when people lose the capacity or the habit of independent thinking, we can state that democracies do not fall short on the count of efficiency. It is true that in a country like India the pace of change is slow, but the responsibility for this does lie with the alleged inadequacies in the working of democracy. The pace slows down, because those who lead do not really desire change and even the ruling party lacks organisational strength to force the change. During the world war, it was not the case that the democratic powers fell short because they were democratic. On the contrary, in war-time the world saw as far as the various democratic countries were concerned, the democracies were as internally united as the dictatorships. And in India in the proportion that the maturity of democracy increases, the unity among the people increases, that especially during times of crisis. 41. Do you agree with the argument that in a democracy the existence of numerous organisations of the same intellectual orientation is not wrong? It is true that in a democracy numerous organisation sharing the same intellectual orientation exist, and yet it is equally true that a given intellectual orientation is represented by only a single organisation. When we talk of intellectual positions, we are referring to a broad viewpoint on social and other related issues. If we consider positions as regards social issues, we find that in a democracy the positions of all political parties on these very issues start to converge or move closer to each other, albeit in a slow and phased manner. As a democratic regime stabilizes and its values are inculcated in the people, the possibility of a bloody revolution recedes. As this possibility recedes, those parties which once did not believe in

parliamentary democracy start to settle down in the new framework, and soon all parties start to equally believe in democracy. If the democratic system is based on adult franchise, then the social positions of all parties soon start becoming similar. There emerges a large-scale similarity on economic issues. If we take a broad view in this manner, then we observe that in a democracy the emergence of political parties, in a phased manner, with similar programmes. But there are differences with regard to the immediate programme, the priorities and the details of these programmes, and, thus, the various political parties can maintain their distinctiveness. Many a times, the programme is the same and so is the plan of action, but two groups continue to maintain their separate existence because they are suspicious as to whether the other honestly desires to implement this programme. If there exist a variety of parties, due to the situation mentioned above, then because of the criticism that they level against each other, the people are made aware of the various facets or aspects of a given issue. In terms of freedom of thought, it is desirable in any society for there to be a number of parties that have ideological positions that are closer to each other. The complaint that these parties waste a considerable amount of time in criticising and counter-criticising each other is not true. When the electorate is not politically aware, each and every party simply somehow manages to stay in the public eye by indulging in personal criticism without presenting any programme, by misleading the people and by making emotional appeals. When the electorate is adequately conscious, politically, then the criticism levelled against each other by the various political parties acquires a more responsible character, and because of it, the people are made aware of the complexities of besides the various aspects of any given issue. The political parties acquire a definite character through these developments. This question is not limited to the differences between the PSP and the SSP but is linked to the issue of the existence of many other parties in the country. Generally speaking, there are four broad political positions in India. The first believes that the traditional way of life should be preserved as far as possible and that changes to it should be as minimal as possible. The second feels that the traditional way of life should be changed but at a slow pace and that this change should take us

towards social equality. The third one feels that this change should be rapid. The fourth position feels that society should be constructed according to a pre-determined philosophy and predetermined intellectual position. The four parties which represent these four political positions are the Jana Sangh, the Congress, the socialists and the communists. I feel that the rest are evidence of our immature democracy or the narcissist attitude of our egoist leaders. The crucial question in today’s practical politics is whether the number of parties can be reduced to four or a number closer to it. 42. It is said that the Indian education system is faulty. What way out do the socialist intellectuals wish to suggest? Almost everyone seems to be unanimous on the count that the Indian education system is faulty. It is only when the question removing these faults arises that different solutions are suggested, and it is here that the real differences of opinion emerge. The Indian education system is basically what was laid out in the British times. Since then the number of subjects studied has increased or decreased, and every time the criteria for passing has changed, but apart from such minor changes, the system has basically remained the same. The British purpose behind introducing the modern system of education was to create an adequate number of employees, senior level and junior level, so as to enable them to run their government properly. Hence, they had to be fluent in English, to possess a working knowledge of arithmetic, well-trained so as to be entrusted with correspondence, able to read, etc. This was basically the purpose for which the educational system existed. As long as we had made secondary education available to about 8 per cent of the population and higher education to 1 per cent of them, we could easily provide these educated individuals with various kinds of employment. When a country provides education to all its citizens, it is impossible to provide such a large number of the educated with employment. Hence as the education spreads throughout society, the proportion of educated unemployment also increases, and it is then that we begin to think about the faults of the education system.

In my opinion, two points have to be considered in any discussion of modern education. The first thing is that by way of education, an individual becomes a parasite dependent on employment provided by someone else. This structure should be changed and we should take care that the ultimate end of education should become the integration of 90 per cent of the students into some productive profession. Generally speaking, the expectation is that the Indian youth should start earning something by the age of 18, and by 21 years of age he should earn his own living in entirety. Hence the education provided in the period of five years between the ages of 16 and 21 should be such that it would, in a phased manner, connect the student with a productive profession. Agriculture is going to remain the largest sector of the economy in this country. Even if Indian agriculture in modernised and the Indian society is completely restructured, yet 40 per cent of the population is bound to be involved with agriculture and allied industries. Education would have to rethought in a direction that would enable and encourage the newly educated youth possessing a modern outlook to take, in large numbers by the age of 16, to agriculture with a modern outlook towards it, and how can he by the age of 21 be made into an entirely self-reliant farmer. Education would have to be restructured with this view in mind. The next most important sector is small industries. Though such industries are thousands in number, yet there exists an educational course that common to all. This course of education has to be such that about 40 per cent of the population would acquire expertise in a trade and would then adopt a productive profession, and the remaining 20 per cent would then have to be involved in other walks of life. These percentages are not important, they are approximate estimates. The real point is that the educational system should be so structured that the student should embark on a productive profession at the age of 16, become self-reliant to some extent at 18 and become completely self-reliant at 21. This means that generally speaking education should culminate in the experience of and expertise in a productive profession. A time should not come when a student who has completed his education has to roam about looking for employment. One’s outlook is of real importance. In this regard, two dangers must be taken into consideration. When ‘job-oriented

education’ is demanded, it either means the provision of the training in stenography, typing and office management that is given here, there and everywhere, or that of high-level technical education. Provision of high-level technical education cannot be made available to all, and teaching how to type again means creating an employment-seeking student. Hence education must be such that would lead to a productive profession. The education which trains one to be a stenographer, manager or an accountant is ‘job-oriented’ no doubt but again is one which makes an individual dependent on others. Secondly, we are quick to include cleanliness drives, construction of schools, spinning, etc., in our curriculum. It might be correct in terms of teaching students the dignity of labour, yet it is not something that would lead students to a productive profession. Even if spinning is done on the Ambar charkha, yet it cannot earn a common spinner more than three rupees a day, and this entire issue is related to how the government looks at the entire khadi industry. Spinning cannot grant the minimum standard of living that we expect for an educated youth who has completed 21 years of age and has now entered the adult world. Education after 16 years of age should be primarily related to a productive profession, and similarly education upto the age of 16 should be related to providing the knowledge necessary for creating a civilised citizen. History, geography, knowledge of the natural world, simple arithmetic, civics, the mother tongue and the national language should be emphasised in the ages between 6 to 12. From 12 till 16 years of age, the proportion of sports and art education should be increased in a phased manner and the students’ aptitude will have to be closely examined, and accordingly education after 16 should be directed towards a productive profession. The expectation that by the age of 6 or perhaps 8 the students should bear the expense of their education by earning a living by producing something is wrong. It is very important that at the age of 21 when the students become employees, their starting salaries should be largely equal, and future increments in salaries should depend not on their degrees but on their capabilities. Today, one of the major reasons why students

select a course of study leading to a profession that provides for an ease of work and a high salary is the huge disparity between the earnings of a doctor and a school teacher, or that between those of a doctor and a clerk. For an individual to possess freedom to pursue a course of education according to his or her aptitude and accordingly obtain a suitable opportunity, it is important to establish, to a large extent, equality between earnings. Today everybody needlessly goes to college since to enhance one’s earning capacity it is better to be a B.A. than a simple matriculate, and it is even better to be an M.A. than a B.A. We should decide what is the minimum that a common citizen must know, given that our intellectual framework consists of democracy, socialism and nationalism, and accordingly make that compulsory. These days, educational concessions have come to mean feewaivers. Actually speaking, if education is to be provided to the poor, then at the minimum, fees, books, note-books and basic medical treatment would have to be provided. The time spent by the students in schools is decreasing as time passes. Especially in the schools in large cities which are conducted in two shifts, the teachers and students are engaged only for 4 ½ hours, and in the colleges generally speaking students spend only 3 ½ hours. We are teaching crores and crores of students that full-time work during the period 6 years to 21 years consists of spending only 3 ½ to 4 hours doing something during the day, and that to me is an extremely terrifying situation. If the students are not going to be equipped to do a large amount of work for 7 hours of the day, this includes 1 hour for the mid-day break and 6 hours of learning, then they are useless for any productive profession. Even if they become government employees, they are unlikely to work sincerely for 6 hours. We should also think of the holidays. All these thinking and reflection is a part of detailed scheme. I personally do not wish to divide education into socialist education, capitalist education and feudal education for I believe that in this country, socialism is not something that is optional. I am thinking in general terms of education for all, the guarantee of employment for all, such remuneration for work that would enable everyone to lead a

minimum standard of a civilised life, and a level of productivity and production so that all this can be financially possible. Education and work for all would take us to socialism and no one can deny this fact. This is so for in a country like India, whether one agrees to socialism by word or not, in deed everyone has to inevitably become a socialist. I am thinking of only the right to education for all, and the availability of educational facilities for all. Even if that is done, that is enough. By and large such a system of education will automatically become a socialist one. In a socialist way of life, everyone has to work in order to live. No one will receive a free lunch. No one will be able to accumulate wealth, and neither would anyone be able excessively indulge his or her senses. In a backward country, the abolition of the luxury of being fed without contributing anything, on one hand, and on the other, compelling everyone to enter a productive profession by way of education, are in practice two sides of the same coin. Hence, I do not feel it necessary that in a socialist curriculum of education each student should be taught socialism as a part of his course of study. Creating the desire in everyone to live by one’s labour and making such facilities available to everyone so that each one can live by his or her labour, I feel, is adequate. I am ready to concede the freedom to adopt whichever political philosophy one likes. While reflecting on education, we do not pay adequate attention to the fact that this idea put forth above is basically non-educational. The experts in education will not decide how much of the government’s revenues will be set aside for education. The educationalists will neither decide which industries will be established, how much earnings will a given degree lead to, nor the language in which the business of the government will be transacted. When the business of the state governments is transacted in the local language, then naturally the demand arises that secondary education should be provided in the local language. The national language is Hindi, but the priority given to English in the conduct of the national government makes the presence of Hindi and English in the curriculum inevitable. Since each individual needs employment, so naturally the students proceed in a direction that assists them to

easily obtain employment and earn large salaries. The structure of education is thus determined by factors outside the educational system. What should be the structure of society and in what direction should it be transformed in turn determines what should be taught and how it should be taught. Without taking this into account, it is meaningless to describe education as capitalist education or as socialist education. 43. What programme of action would you suggest for bringing about national integration? I am not going to suggest anything remotely resembling a religious festival to achieve this. Some suggest activities or endeavours say for instance, the Hindus should have some Muslim friends and viceversa, both the communities should take part in the Diwali and the Moharrum festivals, upper-castes should partake of food at the homes of the untouchables, or that the latter should invite the former to their homes for the same purpose. I have no objection to these activities. I believe that all these are mere empty rituals and, hence, do not feel that they would be in any way beneficial in achieving national integration. While reflecting on the nature of national integration, I also reflect upon the nature of separatism. In my opinion, there are four varieties of separatism in this country. I am ready to regard all other issues as minor. These four varieties of separatism have been created by four varieties of conflicts. These conflicts are respectively between the upper castes and the numerically stronger castes, the caste Hindus and the untouchables, the religious minorities versus the religious majorities, and the speakers of the Aryan language family versus those who speak any one of Dravidian language family, and the basic features of these conflicts are the attempts to protect one’s interests in the existing system, and the attempts to protect one’s existence visa-vis the dominance of others. Hence I regard the bringing about of a socialist structure of society as the largest component of any programme to bring about national integration. 44. What is your viewpoint about Communism?

I look upon communism with considerable sympathy. But I do not feel much warmth towards the communist parties, especially the Communist Party of India. But that does not mean that I assume that Soviet Russia or the other communist countries are our enemies. It is obvious that the Russian revolution was not a non-violent revolution. I also share the opinion that the killings of the common people and that of the leaders that took place before and after the revolution must be denounced. Those who were killed by the Russian revolutionaries were opponents of the regime, but not all were reactionaries. Most of them were actually poor peasants, and a very few of those leaders who were killed by the revolutionaries were reactionaries. I agree that the Russian revolution was a violent one, the political system is dictatorial, and the social structure strongly intolerant and of a closed nature. Yet I cannot detest or hate Soviet Russia or the global communist movement. Particularly in the context of Russia, I ask myself the question as to whether the kind of life made available to the masses by the revolution was more intolerable and unhappy than the one that they had during the Tsarist regimes? To this, my answer of which I am very certain is that the kind of life that the people experienced under the Tsar’s rule was many times more sorrowful, and much more characterised by of slavery and poverty. The communist regime in Russia did not mean the replacement of one dictatorial regime by another, but rather the replacement of one social structure by another. It has made the life of the Russian people many times more cultured, improved and tolerable. The French Revolution proclaimed the values of freedom, equality and fraternity. These were very good slogans qua slogans. In reality, the French Revolution was a sign of the demise of feudalism and the emergence of capitalism. Freedom and equality existed in law, but could not be experienced in real life because of economic inequality and a social structure based on exploitation. The socialist revolution was born due to a desire to bring into reality those pledges that the French Revolution promised but could not translate into practice. This was the chief source of inspiration that lay behind the Russian revolution. It was the first revolution undertaken in the cause of a socialist structure of society. It has no example before itself to emulate. It has to make its way through history by experimenting and

committing mistakes while doing so, in short by the trial-and-error method. The revolution had to ensure its survival in a situation where the neighbouring countries had despatched their armies into Russia in order to overthrow the revolutionary regime. When the Russian revolution occurred, democracy based on adult franchise did not exist anywhere in the world. The governments of the day often avoided defending the common masses. The greatest impact that the Russian revolution had on the world was that all regimes had to think about making efforts to make the lives of the masses more tolerable and to enhance their standard of living. Whether the Russian revolution was faultless or not, it was a revolution that provided the millions of the poor of this world with a new hope and assurance. I am, of course, angry with the dictatorship in Russia, and I feel that this dictatorship is unnecessary, but I cannot ignore what this regime provided to its people and to the people of the world as a consequence of its dictatorial character. We should understand the Russian revolution and communism as experiments in social transformation. An ideology which emerged in the times where there was no alternative but a violent revolution has to be improved upon in an era where adult franchise prevails. The mindset that prevailed when the neighbouring countries could militarily intervene now has to be changed in today’s times. We can learn from the errors and failures of the experiments that the Russian revolution conducted, but all this means that we should say that the Russian revolution was a faulty experiment carried out with the best of intentions, that it was a partial success, and that it inspires us to conduct a faultless experiment. The Russian revolution also provides us with numerous warnings, but unlike the Nazi or Fascist regimes, or the brutal dictatorships of the Middle East or Latin America, I do not find it hateful and odious. I have extensive sympathy for communism. If possessing this kind of sympathy is regarded as a sign of ignorance, then I confess to being ignorant. Factionalism as it existed in world politics about two decades ago no longer exists and has lost its meaning. The group of countries that we called the American bloc in those times is now in a state of disarray. The situation is such that let alone, England, France and Germany,

there is no guarantee that even a country like Japan will dance entirely to the American tunes. American weakness during the Korean war, the Vietnam war that has become a drag, the increasing industrial strength of West Germany and Japan, all these factors have damaged American prestige, and the American bloc is now largely in a state of disarray. What we described two decades ago as the Russian bloc no longer exists. Firstly, the conflict between Russia and China has sharply demonstrated the fact that even the communist countries have also shown that they too regard their national interests as important. Because of Russia’s oppressive behaviour towards Hungary and Czechoslovakia, communist countries have shown that they too can be imperialists. A look at the relations that exist between communist countries and the noncommunist ones reveals the opportunism that characterises the behaviour of the former. Hence the Russian bloc also is in an advanced state of disarray. If we consider the kind of relations that Russia has with monarchs who are religious bigots, dictatorship who utilise religious faith as a mere convenience, and regimes like that in Algeria who wish to bring together religion and communism in the Arab world, then it is apparent that Russia can no longer be described as a regime based on a particular political philosophy. As of today, the division of the world between the capitalist group and the socialist group has disappeared, and, hence, the concept of third peace-loving group has lost all meaning. The factional feelings have become weak. The countries which come together on a particular issue stand opposed to each other on some another one. It is a reality that the politics of the world has undergone a great transformation. Yet after these two decades of independence, we have been compelled to accept some bitter truths. The most bitter of them is that America does not feel that those peace-loving countries that are modernising themselves so that democracy and individual freedom continue to exist in the democratic world are closer to itself. America feels that questions like whether a country is democratic or not or whether it is peace-loving or not are secondary ones. It feels that what is more important is whether a country is an ally or fellowtraveller of America. If you are a religious fanatic and a dictator, you would receive friendship and sympathy from America, provided you

cater to its interests. When America was hunting for military bases so as to fight against the communist countries, whosoever helped them was regarded as friends by it. This stance might not be very convincing but is understandable. But even when America and Russia abandoned their stance of fighting each other till the very end, and began to make attempts to avoid conflicts, America did not feel that countries like India were closer to it, and even when countries like India were engaged in a war against China, America was not quite sympathetic towards India. It is not my intention to hand out a certificate to Russia stating that it is a great friend of India. Russia takes care of its own interests, and America takes care of its interests. Though Russia talks of peace, its history reveals that it does not always help those who desire peace. When we say that Russia acts according to its convenience and does not further the cause of socialism and peace and when we say that America also acts according to its convenience and does not further the cause of democracy and peace, then we also have to say that India must take care of its own interests. The history of these first 22 years of independent India reveals that generally Russia sides with India and when it finds that doing so is inconvenient then it remains neutral. But Russia has never taken a position that is completely against the interests of India and one which entails enmity with India. Russia is our friend and many a times neutral, but is never our enemy, and during the conflict with China it did not decisively side with its fellow communist country. On the contrary, it has on many counts restrained China. America is never explicitly our friends or on our side, but rather on many issues it is explicitly our enemy. At the most, on those issues where it is not our enemy, it is neutral. Given an America which is either our enemy or is neutral, and the presence of a neighbour which maintains eternal enmity relying on the strength derived from arms provided by America, it would be impossible for me to regard a Russia that is either a friend or remains neutral with hatred and scorn. Twenty years ago, when compared to America, I was much more sympathetic and friendly towards Russia, and my position still remains the same.

Like the communists and their fellow travellers I am unable to praise, in high-sounding words, Russian democracy and its peace-loving attitude, but nor I am able to condemn Russia for no rhyme or reason. There were eminences who, after the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, wished to indulge in allround denunciation of Russia. It is easy for such people to condemn Russia and communism in the same breath as China. But these people do not feel it necessary to condemn America when it commits the same kind of atrocities on the Vietnamese people and when with the assistance of the arms it has provided Pakistan does the same, albeit on a larger scale, in East Bengal. Unfortunately, along with these people, Indian socialists too have always leaned towards America. I humbly wish to retain my freedom to lean in whichever direction I wish to. 45. What do you think has been the contribution of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to Indian democracy and socialism? The Indian socialists do get emotional at the mention of Mahatma Gandhi. But, of course, socialist intellectuals have avoided stating which aspects of Gandhi’s thought they agree with and with which they do not. But when discussing political events and developments of the past, the socialists wherever necessary grant credit entirely to Gandhiji and wherever necessary conveniently pin the blame Nehru. Due to these tricks, we cannot properly comprehend historical reality and nor can we be fair to Gandhi and Nehru. The socialists, moreover, are particularly angry with Pandit Nehru. Dr. Lohia is regarded as a sworn enemy of Pandit Nehru but the other socialist leaders also have made no less uncharitable remarks about him. In the day before independence, Nehru did not side with the socialists on diverse crucial and decisive occasions, and after independence, he could not keep the socialists with him. Due to these events, whenever Pandit Nehru is referred to, all the socialists erupt with fury. Today, Gandhi and Nehru have receded into the mists of history. Today’s politics hardly has any connection with them. In this situation, when we, to a large extent, can be objective and detached when discussing Tilak and Gokhale, there is a need to be similarly objective and detached about these two.

When thinking about Gandhi, we should explicitly note that he was not an academic intellectual, one who was detached from real life. Gandhiji was ready to evolve and make changes to his world-view and ideas on the basis of the experiences he had in life. Yet his life was governed by an extraordinary spiritual framework. Even while reflecting and thinking about this- wordly matters, Gandhi could not set aside the spiritual leanings of his own mind and intellect. Hence, there can be no objection to the statement that with him begins a new philosophy. He was the advocate of a new world-view. It includes economics, politics, social activism and many other aspects. Except for the idealism inherent in this philosophy of Sarvodaya of Gandhi, it was difficult for both the right and the left leaning leaders of India to accept any aspect of the programmes or plans of action enunciated by this philosophy. It is not enough to note that Gandhi’s ideas about Truth and NonViolence or about family planning are not practical, or that these ideas are beyond the comprehension of the common Indian, while discussing him. The real question is something else. In a country like India where the man-land ratio is adverse, it is wrong to expect a luxurious lifestyle for the common masses. Even a country like America where production is high since the man-land ratio is favourable cannot continue to sustain its prosperity for all unless it sells its products all over the world. Even those countries which have large amounts of unused land, huge amounts of natural resources, and are heavily industrialised cannot continue to sustain their prosperity, unless they find a market for their goods. This means that in a society where exploitation does not exist, we cannot expect to have a luxurious lifestyle for all. In a country like India it is even more difficult. But if in a country like India we do away with the expectations of a luxurious lifestyle, we would require high level of production to ensure a minimum civilised standard of living for the common masses. Unless we create the capacity for these levels of production, the words of any given philosophy are bound to be not of much use. For moment, I shall set aside issues like whether we should utilise the means of sterilization operations for family planning or whether we should use other means, and I shall also assume for a moment that it is possible and feasible to control population growth on the basis of the principle of selfcontrol. Yet it is absolutely

impossible to produce enough food by the traditional means so as to satisfy the hunger of 55 crores of people. We cannot make India a country that is able to feed everyone to his or her heart’s content unless we have, wherever possible, large dams, farming irrigated by canals, modern seeds and chemical fertilizers. Even if the social life of India is constructed around the values of conquering one’s desires, selfcontrol and keeping one’s needs to the absolute minimum instead of the fulfilment of the maximum possible number of desires and the greatest possible happiness, yet without large factories and the use of science on a large scale, the Indian people would not be able to lead a civilised life that is based on self-control. Hence, the idea of village self-sufficiency in Gandhi’s philosophy becomes impossible to translate into reality under the circumstances. Cement and steel factories will be required so that dams can be built, railway carriages, cars, petrol and rubber would be required to carry goods, and agricultural research institutes would be required. All this means that the existence of the central government, its planning apparatus and its tax structure become essential and necessary. It is difficult to take steps in the direction of village self-sufficiency. I am ready to abandon the demands that everyone living in the rural areas should be provided with an electric fan, or a petrol car or a wrist watch. But everyone must have access to education and medicines, and, moreover, veterinary dispensaries, child-birth facilities and weekly markets should also be provided in the rural areas. For this, the average population of a village should be fixed at about around 2000, and the existing ones will have to be converted into units with a population of about 2000 to 5000. This re-organisation of the villages cannot take place without adequate industrialisation. Hence, the economics in Gandhiji’s philosophy has no relevance to the country’s politics today. Apart from creating a conducive atmosphere, and shaping the mindsets of the people to some extent, the philosophy of Sarvodaya would not be able to play any role in the nation-building programme in India. Hence, we should understand that though Gandhiji is the Father of the Nation, he is not the architect of modern India.

But does this mean that Gandhiji has left us no legacy? He indeed has and it is a significant one. But we should understand what that legacy is. Out of respect for Gandhiji, we wholeheartedly threw ourselves into the Bhoodan Movement. But we should rethink this. I principally regard Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation because of the political leadership that he provided. The entire range of political activity in India was a consequence of the contact with the British and, hence, was the monopoly of the educated. Prior to 1920, the political activities of the Moderates were confined to the educated classes. But not just that, even the activities of the Extremists were confined to the same classes. After 1930, socialist ideas began to become influential in Indian politics in a phased manner. But even these socialist ideas were largely limited to the cities. This was basically because socialism was the ideology of the city dwellers. For them, the target audience who had to be convinced of socialism was the urban middle class, and for building up their organisation, it was the urban workers who were their mainstay. At the most, they could appeal to the European socialist movement for assistance. Socialism was never a movement of the rural masses. Hence, the socialists were in a hurry to nationalise the industries rather than anything else. The objective of the socialists was to reconstruct life on an entirely new basis after having acquired power and after having destroyed the capitalists and the landlords on the basis of this power. There was no reason for the socialists to feel that they were being mistaken when sitting in cities they were deciding what was right for all the people. Whether it was Marx, Lenin or Stalin or the European non-communist socialist movement, all were basically urban phenomena. Any revolution which would have occurred without the millions of the poor masses, for whom we are starting a revolution, who are the slaves whose slavery we would strive to abolish, for whose liberation we have to work, being awakened would not have led to the creation of democracy nor to the bringing about of peace. Such a revolution basically would not have led, in the near future, to human freedom or the arousing of fresh hopes or the development of new strengths. Mao Tse-Tung and Gandhi were essentially peasant leaders. The distinctive feature of both Mao and Gandhi was that they awakened the rural masses, gave them new ideas and strength, and thought in

terms of the welfare of these masses. It was Gandhi who, really speaking, taught Indian politics to think in terms of 80 per cent of the people, and again it was Gandhi who taught these 80 per cent of the people to think about politics. Democracy and a stable political order became possible in India only because Gandhiji’s movement had adequately struck roots in the rural areas of the country, and it is necessary to seriously reflect on this. The democratic experiment did not succeed anywhere in Asia and in Africa, but it did in India. The credit for this goes to Gandhi’s leadership. It was Gandhi who for the first time awakened the Indian people, and taught them to fight against injustice in a disciplined and peaceful manner. On the one hand, he made the people fearless and made them aware of their rights, and on the other, taught them how to fight with the aid of selfcontrol. He also taught the leaders the appropriate mode of behaviour when dealing with the masses. It was during Gandhiji’s movements that the entire range of Indian politics was influenced by the movements for equality, and, hence, in the country the rural masses have always had to be taken into account while modernising the country. Even if we consider the early years of planning, we see an emphasis on making the life of the rural masses more tolerable. Gandhiji’s greatness lies in the fact that he awakened those who constituted the nation, saying that it was theirs and for them, and he made introduced the masses to the nation-builders. Hence we regard him as the Father of the Nation. But this gratitude cannot hide the impractical nature of the economic and political system that he desired. It is in the same manner that we should assess Pandit Nehru. He could never organise a mass movement. He could never build up an organisation nor maintain an existing one. He could not quickly take decisions and even when he arrived at one, after considerable reflection, it was very difficult for him to stay firm on it. Really speaking, those issues which were questions of life-and-death for all were never that important for him. He thought the issue of the linguistic reorganisation of states as secondary. Even international politics, in which he was supposed to have immersed himself mentally, never really interested him. This assessment of Nehru is not

likely to quickly convince anyone. But I have arrived at this opinion after a long period of reflection on and about Nehru’s writings and politics. There is no disputing that Nehru’s faults are apparent. But we forget that Nehru’s mindset was essentially a nationalist one, and this nationalist mindset of his was focussed on laying the basic foundations of the nation. Pandit Nehru wanted peace for a long time and, hence, he was an opponent of war. He felt that unless the country enjoyed a long period of peace we would not be able to reconstruct its economy, and, hence, he had become a pacifist. He had studied the history and the politics of the world and on its basis had come to the conclusion that no one was like to be happy at the prospect of allowing India, a country with tremendous latent strength, to become strong, and, hence, he adopted a policy of India’s being friends with all, not joining any group, and adopting an opportunist position when required so as to obtain assistance from everyone. He thought that it was not in the interests of this country that the Muslim countries of the world should come and stay together. He took expedient positions so as to increase the divisions between the Muslim countries. At times he was friends with Malaya against Indonesia, and at times friends with Indonesia against Malaya. If we keep aside the clever use of flowery language by Nehru when speaking on the international stage, then we see that, except for pursuing the interests of this country, he did not consistently take any position. He was not bothered by breaches of protocol that insulted India or courtesies which honoured it. His sole objective was to build up a strong country, and in this context he was faced with the issues making the country self-reliant in terms of food. The second issue was making the country one which manufactured arms. Except for these two issues, he did not take an insistent or strong position on any other matter. Many mistakes were made in Indian planning. There was considerable disarray and extravagance, too. Even though this is true, Nehru with great effort increased the production of steel and cement, increased the number of dams, emphasised agricultural research, and ensured the everincreasing production of foodgrains. When India became independent, its population was around 55 crores. Often we do not understand the true impact of partition. Due to partition, we lost 33

per cent of our population and 27 per cent of the land, and that is all that we consider. But we lost 60 per cent of our oilseeds, 80 per cent of our jute, 80 per cent of our cotton, 100 per cent of our antimony and brimstone, and a large proportion of our minerals because of partition. The proportion of irrigated land that we lost was more than 35 per cent. Partition had a serious adverse impact on the economy of the country. Foodgrain production that earlier was 48 million tonnes was, in 1948, a little less than 38 million tonnes. If our rate of increase in foodgrain production does not neutralise the impact of our rate of increase in the population, then it would be difficult for democracy to continue to exist in this country, and it would even be difficult to ensure the very existence of this country, and let alone China, we would not be in a position to offer a befitting response even to Ceylon, if it rudely insults us. People have called Nehru a weakling and a defeatist. Some have called his politics suicidal and cowardly. People forget that when India became independent, rationing was in force and it was the per capita provision of food was 375 grams, and when America refused for a short period to supply foodgrains to India, this was reduced to 250 grams. Pakistan could roar at us, because it drew strength from the wheat and cotton of Punjab, the jute and rice of Bengal which, in turn, was backed by arms provided by America. Of this, we had nothing. Pandit Nehru embarked on his career as Prime Minister as a head of a desolate and hungry country. The foodgrain production in the country had increased manifold, when Nehru passed away. In 1968, we managed to increase our foodgrain production to 100 million. Since we have managed to double our foodgrain production before our population doubled, we can produce enough foodgrains within the country itself in order to feed our people. Shastri could be more courageous than Nehru, and Indira Gandhi could take bolder steps than the ones that Shatri took. This so because what Nehru did since 1950 onwards, while being at the receiving end of the abuses hurled at him, started to bear fruit two decades later and this is what the country is now enjoying. Yet we cannot resist abusing Nehru while enjoying the fruits of his efforts. Any Prime Minister who has to create something out of nothing spends his or her entire tenure being abused by others, and one cannot help that this also was Nehru’s lot.

Modernisation is a strange thing. One has to start constructing a dam today and it is ten years down the line that it is completed and the water stored in it can be utilised. A couple of years are spent before the farmers get used to irrigation facilities, and it is then that production starts increasing rapidly. It was of course impossible that a private capitalist would start an enterprise that would start yielding profits after 15 years and which would require an initial investment running into crores. Our capitalists, like the capitalists in backward countries, is a class of middlemen who export raw material and import finished goods. This class cannot accomplish the task of increasing the basic productive capacity of the country, and, hence, the government was compelled to assume a central position in the process of nation-building. Leave aside the socialists, even a sincere nationalist would not have been able to tread a different course. It was because of these efforts of Nehru that we could increase our steel production 5 to 6 times and that of coal by 2.5 times. In the initial days, we almost did not produce any aluminium, but now we produce it many times more. When we became independent, we produced 600 tonnes of lead every year, now we produce 24,000 tonnes. If in times of crisis the nation faces a serious danger, the only means of awakening the entire country in a single day is the radio. At the time of independence, the country had 25,000 radio sets and these were primarily located in the large urban centres. Today the country has more than 14 lakh radios and almost half of them are located in the rural areas, and hence an emergency can be declared throughout the country at a short notice in a single day. Shastri fought against Pakistan and Indira Gandhi did the same. But it must be noted that in 1953 that factories manufacturing tanks and air-planes were established in the country. Automatic weapons started to be manufactured in 1955. Since 1967, we have been producing relatively less advanced weaponry, but in large amounts. Hence ignoring the threats of the world, we could continue to fight for a month or two. This entire range of weapons has been produced by the factories which were established by a Prime Minister, who daily released pigeons symbolising peace in the air and who was labelled as a coward. Airplanes fly in the air, tanks reach the battlefield,and the armed forces are supplied with food, all this because petrol

production increased from 2 lakh tonnes to 1.5 crore tonnes, in consequence of his efforts. When India became independent, we neither had railway engines and nor did we have any ships. Those strengths on whose basis countries stand erect in the world, those foundations which enable countries to maintain their identity, or rather all those factors which make a country a real country, were an offspring of the foundational efforts of Nehru. We should forget how he behaved and dealt with the socialists. We should learn to recognise that a nation that now stands on the verge of modernity is the gift of this builder. If we persist in being ingrates and make the error of making a hue and cry about the details while ignoring the fundamental aspects, then the loser would not be Nehru. He is reposing in his eternal sleep. The real issue is that of the future, both yours and mine.