Will Kancha’s “Post-Hindu India” be Possible?
A Reflection Paper on Kancha Ilaiah’s book “Post-Hindu India”
By Madhu Chandra
This article attempts to reflect Kancha Ilaiah’s “Post-Hindu India” published by Sage Publication, New Delhi in 2009 in specific reference to caste civil war, in which, he predicts, will bring an end to Casteism.
First, will Kancha’s “Post-Hindu India” really be possible? If yes, then how? India has one Kancha now who has campaigned Dalit-Bahujans rights globally. India will have over 20,000 Kancha(s) in 20 years down the line across the nation. Then the campaign against casteism and Ambedkarites will be raised 20,000 times powerful!
Second, Kancha believes Hinduism is a dying religion and will die in India as it has in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia. Brahmans and Hindutva fascist accused Islam and Christianity as major causes of Hinduism dying. He kept referring to Nepal, which is taken over by Maoist’s, as a rejection of Hinduism from the Himalayan kingdom. In India, Hinduism is losing ground in the North East Indian states – Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya and partially Manipur. In the Southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, a huge number of Dalits have left Hinduism and embraced casteless religions in recent years.
Third, Hindutva fascism, fanatics and militants hold responsibility for the down fall of Hinduism. Anti-democratic and anti-secular nature of these Hindutva forces has damaged the image of Hinduism. The upper castes attack Dalits and Shudras in the name of castes is termed as one of the highest violations of human rights. Attack on Muslim and Christian minorities are seen as attacks on Indian secularism. The Kandhmal episode has proven this. It was ethnic cleansing of tribals and Dalits converted to Christianity. Attacks were more on their socio-economic and educational which became better after embracing Christianity. Hindutva forces specifically targeted to uproot the economic, educational sources rendered by Christian missions so Dalits and tribals would remain in a backward condition as it has been for centuries.
Eruption of Civil War – then the end of Casteism
Kancha’s last chapter before his conclusion of “Post-Hindu India” deals with civil war. This chapter on civil war is the end solution for Dalit-Bahujan communities to take in response to his preceding chapters – Unpaid Teachers, Subaltern Scientists, Productive Soldiers, Subaltern Feminists, Social Doctors, Meat and Milk Economists, Unknown Engineers, Food Producers, Social Smugglers, Spiritual Fascists and Intellectual Goondas. Kancha predicts that the civil war will turn into physical violence between upper castes minorities and majority communities of Dalit Bahujans.
Civil war is a violent conflict within a country fought by organized groups that aim to take power at the center or in a region, or to change government policies. In American Abraham Lincoln accepted Civil War as the only means to save the Union. The prediction of Kancha is civil war, which will bring about equality of Indian society by dismantling the caste hierarchical society, which will then bring an end to casteism. Reading the signposts around India, the symptoms of civil war have erupted in recent past and likely to erupt in the future.
What kind of civil war, is Kancha predicting rather desiring? It is a civil war of ideology in quest for equality among all sections of society against Brahmans and upper caste. It is also a civil war of spirituality between spiritual democracy, which Dalit-Shudras are longing and spiritual fascism in search of spiritual equality irrespective of caste, creed, religion, race and color. It is also a civil war of nerves and physical violence, which is desired to be avoided if the earlier form of civil war could resolve the caste base inequality among Indian societies.
Symptoms of Civil War
The physical civil war has been attempted by upper caste time and again, particularly when any affirmative initiative steps are taken by either Union Government of India or State Government. The implementation of Mandal commission during the time of Prime Minister of India, Vishwanath Pratap Singh in 1990 and the United Progressive Alliance Government’s OBC reservation in higher technical institutions in 2006 have witnessed a civil war like violence by upper caste against the Dalit Bahujans communities. Shudras and Dalits refrained from any physical form of civil war until today, yet no one should underestimate the volcanic boiling underneath as reaction against the caste oppression. Kancha testifies Gujarat 2002 carnage, Kandhmal 2007-2008 and red corridors of Maoists uprising in tribal dominated regions of India are the symptoms of civil war between upper caste and Dalit Bahujans. The momentum of the anti-reservation movement in 2006 shows the same arrogance demonstrated by upper caste as in 1990.
The highest form of civil war is the war of nerves, which will lead to the war of weapons causing massive causalities, damage and destruction; perhaps it will kill caste. Spiritual civil war will erupt before the eruption of civil war of the nerves and physical violence. The spiritual civil war will erupt between the spiritual democracy and spiritual fascism. To fight the spiritual fascism and get rid of caste oppression in search of spiritual equality, a spiritual civil war in the form of spiritual migration from one religion to other will erupt. Indeed this migration began with Ambedkar when he renounced Hinduism and embraced Neo Buddhism in 1956 along with a half million Dalits at Nagpur. Ever since, this migration never ceases in small and large scale. This spiritual migration will leave Hinduism as a micro minority religion and it will suffer the most if they continue to hold on their caste practice even then.
The Brahmans and upper caste forces will retaliate against this spiritual migration through the might of political and legislation by attempting to establish the anti-conversion bill which is already law in eight different states of India. Kancha believes that spiritual liberation is much harder than the physical liberation but it eradicates casteism permanently.
What Causes Civil War and who is Responsible?
Unquestionably, the oppressive and destructive nature of Brahmanic religion is leading the exploited poor and Dalits to challenge and rise against the very religious system that has been keeping them under bondage for centuries. Hinduism teaches untouchability, inequality and designates degrading caste based jobs to oppressed societies. Doctrines of creation taught by the Law of Manu, in which Brahman are created by God from the head to dominate all human beings and to control all temple economics, Kshatriyas from the shoulders to rule and control the tax economy under the instruction of Brahmans, Vaisyas from the thigh to control market economies under the supervision of Brahmans and Kshatriyas, and Shudras the lowest caste created from the feet to enjoy oppression and serve the preceding caste hierarchy. Dalits who represent one fourth of Indian population are taught in the Law of Manu that they are not created by God, meaning they are outcaste or casteless, considered less than human beings and polluting communities. The Law of Manu sanctioned highest form of human rights violence meted to Sudra and Dalits thus Manu’s doctrine of creation is the solemn responsibility for causing civil war.
Unwillingness to do away with caste in Indian society and upper caste will be responsible for Shudras and Dalits in search of equality and liberation from oppression, migrating out of Hinduism to other religions. Unwillingness of the policy makers to provide and implement affirmative actions along with the anti-reservation movements will cause civil war.
Anti reservation propaganda in All India Institute of Medical Science during Mandal Commission 1990 and OBC reservation 2006 provokes the breakout of civil war. The campaign against anti-reservation in Jawaharlal Nehru University is today a symptom of civil war between students belonging to upper caste and lower caste communities.
What can avoid the Civil War? Civil war could be avoided, if Brahmans and upper caste communities are willing to do away the casteism in Hinduism, but it is next to impossible because Hinduism can not survive without casteism and visa versa. Affirmative actions and programs for Dalits and Shudras both in educational and employment arenas could help avoid civil war.
Madhu Chandra is a research scholar and social activist based in New Delhi. He works as Regional Secretary of All India Christian Council (www.indianchristians.in), Spokes Person of North East Support Centre & Helpline (www.nehelpline.net) and National Secretary of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations (www.scstconfederation.org).