Presented in National Seminar on Corruption and Its Implication on Dalits: An Indian Panorama organised by the Commission of Dalits, Nation Council of Churches in India
By Madhu Chandra
All sections of Indian society have suffered from corruption and all must fight against it. Everybody has a right to protest against corruption in a democratic manner. Civil society’s fight has a big role in bringing policies, laws, and plans of action against corruption. Having said this, there remains many unanswered questions related to the whole issue of corruption among them is the version of Anna Hazare’s civil society and the rise of the anti-corruption movement.
Is monetary corruption the only challenge in India which Team Anna is concerned about? What about socio-religious corruption of caste? What about ensuring affirmative action for marginalised people in corporate establishments? What about the failure of the state to fight communalism against minorities, marginalised people, and the rise of fascism? These are questions left by Team Anna while fighting against corruption. They are interlinked with corruption in general.
Anna Hazare’s Anti-Corruption Movement Harms Itself!
A nation can be fooled some times but not always. Throughout India’s history this has periodically occurred and now includes Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption. The Sangh Parivar’s propaganda against conversion actually fooled the nation that every Christian was involved in fraud and forced conversions. The propaganda was carried out on Television channels, print, and electronic media and the nation believed it.
Kandhamal is proof of this. The media twisted the stories from ground reporting for one month until they actually saw the propaganda of ethnic cleansing. The nation woke up from being fooled and saw the genocide of Sangh Parivar to wipe out Christian communities from the region. The campaign against terrorism fooled the nation into believing that all Muslims were terrorists. Every bomb blast in India was immediately attributed to Muslim communities, but the nation woke up when saffron robed terrorists were also found involved in many blasts.
And it is exactly an attempt to fool the nation again with Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption. It succeeded until the first two phases in April and August 2011. The nation woke up at his third attempt in Mumbai. What was done by the anti-corruption movement hidden under Anna Hazare’s shadow is of greater danger for the nation than the corruption itself! Why is this so?
First, it was the invisible forces:
According to Arundhati Roy, it was a force of (a) Vande Mataram (b) Bharat Mata ki Jai (c) India is Anna, Anna is India (d) Jai Hind. The background of Vande Mataram written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadyay in his book Anandamath has deep connection with Anti-Muslim message. The controversy becomes more complex in the light of Rabindranath Tagore’s rejection of the song as one that would unite all communities in India. Tagore wrote:
The core of Vande Mataram is a hymn to the goddess Durga: this is so plain that there can be no debate about it. Of course Bankimchandra does show Durga to be inseparably united with Bengal in the end, but no Mussulman [Muslim] can be expected patriotically to worship the ten-handed deity as ‘Swadesh’ [the nation]. This year many of the special [Durga] Puja numbers of our magazines have quoted verses from Vande Mataram—proof that the editors take the song to be a hymn to Durga. The novel Anandamath is a work of literature, and so the song is appropriate in it. But Parliament is a place of union for all religious groups, and there the song cannot be appropriate. When Bengali Mussulmans show signs of stubborn fanaticism, we regard these as intolerable. When we too copy them and make unreasonable demands, it will be self-defeating.
Similarly, the concept of Bharat Mata predates the partition of India. She is intended to represent “Aryavarta”, the motherland of Hinduism in Hindu nationalism, not merely restricted to the secular Republic of India. Bharat Mata remains a symbol of the “vision of a unified motherland” in Hindu nationalist thought.
If one looks at these invisible forces, one will find different forms they have incarnated into in last two decades. There seems to be no connection with any corruption movement in these periods. They had Anti-Reservationists during the Anti-Mandal I in 1990, when the Mandal Commission recommendations were introduced to be implemented.
One incarnation was the Youth For Equality movement during Anti-Mandal II opposing UPA government’s 27% OBC reservation in higher technical institutions in 2006. Interestingly both Anti-Reservationists and Youth For Equality were orchestrated by the All India Institute of Medical Science in New Delhi.
Another incarnation was the India Against Corruption movement during Anna Lila at Ram Lila ground. What form of incarnation will appear next, nobody knows and only time will tell. But the reality is that every movement they come up with becomes stronger and imperils the nation.
Second, it was an attempt to assault Indian Democracy:
M. K. Gandhi was assassinated by a gun but Anna Hazare, who has been acclaimed by some as the second Gandhi, was almost killed by hunger at Ram Lila ground. What would have had happened for the nation, if he had died at Ram Lila? The parliament perhaps would have been overthrown and the nation thrown into chaos. An imposed national emergency could have occurred and the communal party would have gotten political mileage.
This was like holding the Parliamentary System hostage at gun point compelling the My Way Highway mentality. The government succumbed to their pressure and the opposition took advantage. It is a danger for the country if the democratic process can be manipulated by mobocracy. People being supreme above Parliament was a massive assault on democracy!
Third, it was an assault on Parliament:
Dalit columnist Chandrabhan Prasad said, “The Anna Hazare phenomenon is leading us to the rejection of representative democracy itself. The movement is an upper-caste uprising against India’s political democracy. That apart, vesting so much power in the Lokpal, a non-elected person, could lead to a dangerous situation.”
In a democratic nation, the elected representative members make the laws of the nation and the state. The upper caste community, whose population is much smaller compared to the Indian vote bank, are fearful that their chances of winning elections to State Assembly and Parliament are being diminished. If they are not elected then they do not become a member of the State Assembly or Parliament, which means that they will not be a part of the law making body. So they are desperate to impose a system that allows un-elected members to still be involved in the law making process. This is the attempt we have seen in Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption, while trying to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill.
If they had succeeded in bringing My Way Highway of their version of Jan Lokpal Bill, then tomorrow they would organize another mobocracy to bring a law against reservation, to rewrite the Indian Constitution, anti-conversion laws, and implement their version of electoral reform etc.
Fifth, Anna Hazare’s Civil Society was incomplete:
Are Team Anna and their Civil Society a complete representation of India? What about the half billion people who belong to Others Backward Classes (OBC), the 250 million Scheduled Caste/Tribes, and the 150 million minorities? All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisation had to launch a campaign against Anna Haraze’s incomplete civil society. Over 10,000 Dalits, OBC, and Minorities marched on at India Gate. The voice was heard by the Parliament, Standing Committee, and even Team Anna.
The Anna Hazare movement was manufactured by media particularly Television News channels. Parthasarathi Swami writes in Hindustan Times, “What is Anna Hazare? What is brand Hazare? He is a creation of the Facebook Generation… How much is brand Hazare worth? Believe it or not – nothing.” 
The arrangement of Television News channel at Ram Lila ground and at India Gate rivaled any found at a Bollywood shooting or a cricket match. IT professionals belonging to upper caste and middle class were behind the stage monitoring the campaign through all forms of social network – Facebook, Twitter, Google and Blogs.
Abhishek Raghunath writes in Business, “SMS GupShup, a group messaging service, was responsible for sending several of these messages. GupShup groups like Anna, Jaibhim, newsb and Jago Haryana – each with more than 50,000 members – along with a bunch of smaller groups, sent out over 1 crore messes in a week.”
Beyond Monetary Corruption!
Corruption might be defined differently in different cultures, contexts, nations, and regions, but it is a much deeper issue for India. Monetary corruption is huge in India but it does not end there. One must look at corruption from an inclusive perspective to understand its complexities. Anoop Kheri the coordinator of Insight Foundation says, “For us casteism is corruption, caste-discrimination is corruption, not filling up reserved seats as per constitutional forms is also corruption.”
The Socio-Religious Corruption is more Dangerous than Monetary Corruption:
India’s 3000 years old caste system is socio-religious corruption within the society sanctioned by Hinduism under Brahminical domination. It is more dangerous than monetary corruption. Anoop Kheri the coordinator of Insight Foundation says, “For us casteism is corruption, caste-discrimination is corruption, not filling up reserved seats as per constitutional forms is also corruption.” Mahatma Gandhi failed to abolish it and so it is with all Gandhians. Anna Hazare seems concerned more about monetary corruption than socio-religious corruption of caste, which has become a cancer among Indian society. It is a million dollar question, Why does Anna Hazare remain a silent spectator on caste and its socio-religious corrupt phenomena within the society for which he claims to be a messiah?
Many boil with anger when they hear about the man-made tool “Caste” to oppress other human beings. This has been manufactured, nurtured, and utilised by Brahmins for centuries. But one will only see caste as a symptom of social cancer until its roots are fully understood. Manu Smriti, the Law of Manu, is the very foundation of caste system. Fighting caste without understanding Manu Smriti is like attempting to destroy a spider net without killing the spider itself. Unless the spider (the root) is destroyed the spider net will continue to appear again and again.
Spiritual Fascism is Socio-Religious Corruption:
First, Hinduism based on Brahmanism and Manu Smriti is a spiritual fascist religion. The doctrinal foundation of Brahmanism is spiritual fascism. The Manu Smriti says, “A Brahmana, coming into existence, is born as the highest on earth, the lord of all created beings, for the protection of the treasury of the law. Whatever exists in the world is, the property of the Brahmana; on account of the excellence of his origin The Brahmana is, indeed, entitled to all.” (Ch 1:99-100). Who is this Brahmana?
A mere human being declaring himself to be God, is a form of spiritual fascism. We see what happened with Lucifer, who claimed to be equal with God. Kancha Ilaiah says, “The Brahmans seem to have derived the word ‘Brahman’ from the name of their god Brahman. The idea that Brahmans are superior beings was constructed by the Brahman classes themselves without deriving any divine essence from their God.”
Second, Unequal at birth, life, and death prescribed by Manu is spiritual fascism. Manu created human beings into four categories, “But for the sake of the prosperity of the worlds he caused the Brahmana, the Kshatriya, the Vaisya, and the Sudra to proceed from his mouth, his arms, his thighs, and his feet.” (Ch 1:31) The Dalits, the oppressed, and outcaste are not included, which means they are not part of God’s body and treated like sub-human beings. These four castes are further divided with designated professional assignments, “Let (the first part of) a Brahmana’s name (denote something) auspicious, a Kshatriya’s be connected with power, and a Vaisya’s with wealth, but a Sudra’s (express something) contemptible.” (Ch 2:31)
This system cunningly coined and spiritually sanctioned the domination of one section of society over others. It was envisioned long before the history. Kancha Ilaiah puts, “The Brahmans, on the contrary, performed this exalted mode of self-constructed to exclude others from the realm of God for the longest time in human history. This strategy was part of their historical cunningness. In this process, they worked out the meaning of the word ‘Brahman’ to keep themselves about history, which, for them, is an instrument of magical games.”
Third, it is spiritual fascism that Brahmins do not give their gods to others. They manufactured new gods for different people. Brahmans do not give their gods to non-Aryan converts. They manufacture local contextualised gods and it continues till today.
To support this argument, I refer to Meiteis of Manipur a converted Vishnuvite Hindu, Harijans of sweeper caste communities and Chammars. A fix of “Singh” after every Meitei name is the living example of how a lion god “Nara-Singh Thakhur” was made god for converted Meitei Vishnuvite Hindus. Balmiki communities wonder how the pen at hand became brooms. Balmiki a Dalit convert, who authored Ramayana, was made a god for his communities. A defiled and unclean god “Sani Dev” was made god for Chammars who is worshipped on Saturdays.
Fourth, it is spiritual fascism because all caste based atrocities are religious suctioned crimes. Caste is a Brahmin sanctioned social evil system. The caste based atrocities are Brahmin sanctioned crimes. They are never a crime in the eyes of Manu Smriti. The lynching of five Dalits at Jhajjar in 2002, the burning down of 50 Dalit home in Gohana in 2006, the burning of a Dalit father and daughter alive in 2010 in Mirchapur and throwing a six year old Dalit girl – Kamlesh into a burning fire were never crimes in their eyes. These crimes are sanctioned in Manu Smriti and those who commit these crimes are fulfilling their religious duties. Few selected slogs from Manipur Smriti where these crimes are religiously sanctioned.
The wealth of the sudra could be forcibly plundered. No consent is needed. There need not be any hesitation. (Ch11:13), If a sudra talks ill of a Brahmin his tongue should be cut off. (Ch8:270), If a sudra pronounces the name of a Brahmin or talks of his caste or accuses him, an iron rod ten inches long should be heated red-hot and thrust into the mouth of the sudra. (Ch8:271), If the sudra dictates the Brahmin to do a particular thing, boiled oil should be poured into the mouth and ears of the sudra. (Ch8:272), If the sudra hits at Brahmin’s hair beard, legs, neck, penis, his hands must be cut off. (Ch8:283) If the sudra sits in a seat along with a Brahmin, his hips should be scorched or he should be driven away from the town. (Ch8:281), If the sudra takes away anything belonging to the Brahmin he should be tortured and killed. (Ch9:248), If a non-Brahmin enjoys with a Brahmin wife, he should be punished till he breathes his last. (Ch8:359), If a sudra enjoys a Brahmin girl without protection, his male organ must be cut off. If he enjoys a Brahmin girl in a family, his body must be cut to pieces and his property should be confiscated. (Ch8:374)
Ambedkar’s Prediction on Three Enemies:
Prof. Sukhadeo Thorat has highlighted B. R. Ambedkar’s prediction of the possible three dangers in his article. “In his last, visionary speech after the submission of the drafted Constitution on November 25, 1949, Dr. Ambedkar warned of three possible dangers to the new-born democracy. These related to social and economic inequalities, the use of unconstitutional methods and hero-worship.”
Social and economic inequalities among Indian societies remained unchanged since its independence however, the reservation has done well up to a certain level dealing with the issues of social injustice and inequality. Once the affirmative action plan through the reservation system is removed, the marginalised sections of the societies will be pushed to the place where they were before.
The forces of Anti-Reservation seen during Mandal I, Mandal II, and the Anna Hazare movement (Mandal III) are the same forces that backup upper caste, corporate, and Indian media. The judicial system is already against the reservation, when the reservation is restricted up to 50%. The court will move against any state or government that violates its limit.
Social inequality might lead to the eruption of civil war within Indian society. Kancha Ilaiah predicts this very thing. “In India, the upper castes have always been a social force and the Dalit-Bahujans have been always mere social beings. A civil war situation has existed in India on an everyday basis, for a long time now.”
There is no need to mention the dangers involved in using unconstitutional methods. We have seen it first hand in the three anti-Mandal movements. Laws being past in Parliament and state assemblies that violate the fundamental rights provided in the Indian Constitution are dangerous and of great concern.
Denial of Scheduled Caste on the basis of religion in Article 341 Para 3 is a constitutional corruption. First, to the Dalits converted to Sikhs in 1956, the Buddhist in 1990, and to Christians and Muslims today without any remedies. State Assemblies have passed anti-conversion laws in eight states so far and are likely do so in more states. It may even cover one for the whole nation and is a matter of concern.
What is the Indian Churches’ Response to Corruption and These Forces?
How do we respond to the charges of corruption, which is much deeper and wider than just monetary? Forces who claim to be the Messiah of corruption are dangerous themselves for the nation, particularly the marginalised SC/ST, OBC, and minorities because they have hidden agendas which are different from corruption. As we discuss our response to corruption and these forces, I would like you to ponder the following:
First, what can we learn from Donald McGavran’s prophetic word on the people movement in Punjab in 1800s, where hundreds and thousands of Dalit wanted to embrace Christianity to get rid of casteism. Many went to other religions when the church was not ready to accept them. This is what he said while writing his forward note to Frederick and Margaret Stock’s book People Movement in the Punjab. “Church and mission failed to respond to the Chuhra people movement, the movement will repeat again and if church fails to respond, the church will miss this people forever.”
Second, Dalit thinker, writer, and editor of The Dalit Voice, V. T. Rajsekhar wrote what could be deemed a prophetic article as well. Hundreds and thousands of Dalits wanted to leave Hinduism and embraced Christianity in 2001. He says, “If the Indian church fails to respond to the quest of Indian Dalits, the church will be persecuted at the hands of Dalits and tribals, not by Brahmins and Sangh Parivar.”
Third, but not the least is the very “Idea of India” invented by M. K. Gandhi, explored by Jawaharlal Nehru, and redefined by B. R. Ambedkar. This idea was influenced by the Indian Church during the time of Bishop Picket, C F Andrew, and others. As a result we have an India as a secular democracy, which gives the freedom of speech, faith, and propagation etc. Now this very “Idea of India” is under threat from fascist forces and the Indian church will have a bigger responsibility to defend as much as we had when it was being created.
(Madhu Chandra is a research schola, ordained minister and social activist based in New Delhi. He works as Regional Secretary of All India Christian Council, Spokes Person of North East Support Centre & Helpline and National Secretary of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations)
 Arundhati Roy, “I’d rather not be Anna,” The Hindu, August 21, 2011.
 Avijit Ghosh, “Anna Hazare’s movement is anti-social justice and manuwadi,” Times of India, August 19, 2011.
 Parthasarathi Swami, “Brands in 2011 Anna Do omini: Zero Hero” Hindustan Times, September 4, 2011.
 Abhishek Raghunath, “Gupshup – Short Message, Big Dreams,” Business, September 3, 2011.
 Avijit Ghosh, “Anna Hazare’s movement is anti-social justice and manuwadi,” Times of India, August 19, 2011.
 Kancha Ilaiah, Post-Hindu India, Sage: New Delhi, 2009, 182-183.
 Ilaiah, Post-Hindu India, 182.
 Sukhadeo Thorat, Ambedkar’s way & Anna Hazare’s methods, The Hindu, August 23, 2011.
 Ilaiah, Post-Hindu India, 234.