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1

Dhammachakra Pravartan Din at Deekshabhoomi

"I have no Motherland' Ambedkar once said to Gandhi, in frustration following the treatment dalits received in 20th Century. However, even if today an educated chunk belonging to Scheduled caste group get similar feeling of whether this is really "My Motherland", then the status quo of the Indian society and the treatment its people receive has to be intriguing.

Stall selling calenders and books of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
Stall selling calenders and books of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar

In 1935 at Nasik district, Maharashtra, Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar had declared his firm resolve to change his religion. He famously said, "The object of our movement is to achieve social freedom. It is equally true that this freedom cannot be secured without conversion". On October 14, 1956, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and lakhs of his followers converted to Buddhism at a place in Nagpur which is now called Deeksha Bhoomi.  The day of Vijayadashmi Dussehra, for on this day in 1956, millions of Dalits “broke the shackles of Hindu religion and converted to Buddhism,” according to him.

Just as every year, lakhs of people from Scheduled caste and many progressive groups across India gather in Nagpur to remember this day, to celebrate the Dhammachakra Pravartan Din. Whole city of Nagpur is seen with people from across the country visiting to pay homage to their leader and witness this event of their Liberty. Every nook and corner across Nagpur is seen with people greeting each other. Various Books written by Ambedkar and other progressive writers are sold on a ground near Deekshabhoomi. People rejoice to the rebellious songs singing the story of their liberation and rebel.  Music, Speeches, Books, Reverence, Self-respect, Organisation, Citizenship rights, people resolve to abide by Ambedkar's message of "Educate, Organize and Agitate" and lot more can be observed as key-features of this gathering to any witness present there. Book selling crosses record numbers in mere 2 days.  The ambience is much similar, even grand compared to what we witness on 6th December in Dadar in Mumbai when people come to pay homage to Ambedkar on his Death Anniversary.

dalits posing in front of Deeksha Bhoomi on Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din
Deeksha bhoomi continues to call lakhs every year, six decades after Ambedkar's demise
Book stall selling Ambedkar's works
Book stall selling Ambedkar's works

I had no expectation personally that this event could get any air-time in the mainstream media, and I was quite not outraged though not OK with the "black-out" of this event in the media. The outrage arose when since morning I have been watching a Mohan Bhagwat speech atttended by a very tiny crowd being aired on all channels held at Reshim Baugh which is hardly few kilometers away from Deekshabhoomi. I mean, the attitude of "ignorance towards a group existence"  of the media is quite evident when their cameras and vans easily navigate through hundreds of people celebrating all around the city but cover a speech of RSS chief.

Followers of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar at Deeksha Bhoomi
Followers of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar at Deeksha Bhoomi

If media is the fourth pillar of Democracy, the role of Media towards the society and its citizenry has to be extremely responsible. Such ignorance of an outright apparent grand event and cover another speech is a matter of great introspection for us as a society. Such acts clearly gives a group a feeling of being unimportant in the national arena. While the media keeps harping about Secularism, such navigation of their cameras clearly reveal their biased approach of ignorance and selective importance towards the citizens of a same country. Media attitude in this case is "Philosophy of Silence and Killing by ignorance". Such occasions clearly expose the double-standards media practices about Secularism. Secularism discourse in India has been narrowed down to mere Hindu-Muslims binary. When Secularism in its broader sense has to be in treating each citizen of the State without any prejudice arising out of caste, creed, religion etc. Such occasions definitely create a feeling of alienation among the minorities (Scheduled castes in this context). I do not know whether the camera ignorance/affinity of media in this case is just about the indifference or subtle upper-caste prejudice/arrogance. I am not a journalism expert, but I'm sure journalism cannot be just about the TRPs or the choices of the editors, what to air and what not.

- An outraged Citizen of India (Pratik Tembhurne)

I thought I was horrified by the blatant seeking of foreign funds by BJP on their website in complete disregard of the FCRA. But this one is creepier. Maybe.

Curious to know how the Congress collects online donations, I searched for "Indian National Congress donate" and found no results from any Congress website. Searched around a bit more. Then "How to donate to Congress Party". Nothing. Zero relevant results.

The Congress party is the largest party in the country with the greatest collection of funds. It also has over 80% of its funding unaccountable. The best I could find was the usual list of declared donations.

There were no forum posts asking party members to pay, no blog posts urging supporters to pay. No nothing. At least not in google results.

It is no secret that most funds of political parties are unaccounted for:

unaccountable funding of <strong class='StrictlyAutoTagBold'>Indian</strong> political parties

The Congress party had declared that its main source of income was through selling of coupons (Rs 1,171.61 crore), according to information received in response to an RTI filed by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Karnataka Election Watch (KEW).

This means that the Congress sold *coupons* worth Rs. 3,20,98,904 - daily. Every single day of the year. Sure, large events would probably sell more coupons, small events would sell less coupons. To put it in a different style, considering that donations above rupees twenty thousand have to be reported, assuming that each coupon was twenty thousand, it would still mean selling over one thousand six hundred coupons a day.

And the party appears to have done it without asking anyone for money at all, or mentioning any small donations, or asking cadre to go and fund raise or anything. There isn't a whiff of it anywhere. Never heard anyone on social media say they were going to raise funds either - now that I think of it. One incident from 2010 shows as first result for "Rahul Gandhi fund raising" similar barren expanses of no information for "Sonia Gandhi fund raising" "Congress party fund raising" "donate to Congress party" (without party gives results from US), and etc.

After much expert snooping, I can confidently say that not only is most of Congress funding opaque in terms of not offering accounts, if coupons have been sold to masses, there is ZERO evidence of it. No talks of "vouchers are with Sushil" or "donations were good today" even. Nothing. And I have done a hell of a lot of snooping when I confidently say I fail to find out even a whiff.

I had thought I was aghast at BJP's open courting of foreign funds. I have to admit I am even more creeped out at massive collections of public funds without a trace in public view.

And when a new book "Unknown Facets of Rajiv Gandhi, Jyoti Basu and Indrajit Gupta" written by former CBI director Dr A P Mukherjee says (according to Indian Express):

"Rajiv Gandhi was very clear that commissions paid as a routine by most defence dealers should be properly accounted for and not siphoned off by dishonest officials of the armed forces and politicians...he wanted such payments to be pooled and accounted for," Mukherjee has written.

"This (elections) leads to massive fund collections by important party functionaries all over the country, which leads to an almost unbreakable unholy quid pro quo nexus between unscrupulous party functionaries, ministers and businessmen. I could sense this as the party's general secretary or even as its youth leader earlier when I had to enter the political arena with considerable reluctance," Rajiv told him over coffee, Mukherjee has written.

I am thoroughly spooked.

4

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7

In British India, for almost two centuries, this process had taken place. A small percentage of people, variously termed by the British as ‘terrorists’ and ‘enemies of the crown’, resisted the fear of punishment, accepted the punishments meted out by the imperial rulers and kept up the fight for freedom that culminated in the Union Jack going down at the hour of midnight on August 15, 1947 and the tricolour with the Chakra in the center-piece going up. Others (the rest) largely identified with the British imperial power as they had experienced it and these identification-based culture traits have been passed on to following generations.

Sadly, the new Indian Government could not gauge the depth of penetration of identification with the aggressor in the psyche of the average Indian – both in the so-called ‘ordinary’ people and the so-called ‘exclusive’ people. As a result the top-level civil servants who kept on emphasising the ‘goodness’ of the erstwhile colonial days, were retained in their respective positions. Such people had earlier refused to believe that it was possible that an independent nation called India could thrive when the British had to quit. I can quote here as an example of that kind of mentality from one of my experiences.

While the Gandhi-Jinnah talks were going on in Shimla, my host (an uncle of mine) there had invited Sarojini Naidu, Humayun Kabir, his wife Shanti, and a senior Indian civil servant of the rank of Secretary to tea. At Mrs. Naidu’s request everyone present in the room, including the civil servant who had part of his education in Santiniketan, sang the song, ‘Balo balo balo shhabe/ Shato beena benu robe/ Bharat abar jagat shabhae sreshtha ashana labe’ (‘Let all of us declare together/ In voice resounding like hundreds of beenas and flutes/ India will regain her great place in the world’). At the end of the song the civil servant said to Mrs. Naidu, ‘Madam, I sang along with the others at your request, but I don’t believe in the words’. As a result of such people remaining almost at the helm of the nascent nation of India, no steps were taken to re-mould the education system, re-establish some of the relevant pedagogical methodologies followed in pre-British India, and freeing the Indian psyche from the internalized identification with the aggressor as a meta-clutural reality in India, and presumably in Pakistan too (Chattopadhyay 1991).

Many different kinds of evidence of this hangover can be found scattered in various walks of life. The recent move by the Government of India to create world standard universities with foreign collaboration may also stem from the colonial hangover. That is because the assumption behind the move could well be the ingrained notion that it is only when one collaborates with the white man that we Indians can do anything worthwhile. The points made in his recent article by Chaudhuri (2009) entitled ‘From enclave to empire’ on high and low in higher education are also worth exploring in the present context as flowing from the same hangover.

That is the colonial hangover. It has largely alienated Indians from many other realities that are part of the sub-continental meta-culture that are not internalized. Those meta-cultural realities have the creative power necessary to establish a Mahan Bharat, a Great India. Instead, the desire for greatness is projected on stickers on the rear bumpers of public buses and trucks by writing ‘Mera Bharat Mahan’ (my India is great), while individuals keep behaving mostly as something that is the opposite of mahan (great).

In the early nineteen forties as a school student I had attended an annual conference of All India Students Federation in Guntur (which was then a small village). During that conference some of the local members had sung a song in Telegu, the first line of which I still remember: ‘Desha mante mattikadoi desha mante manusuoi’ (‘The country does not consist of its earth only, but it includes the human beings too’). This Mera Bharat Mahan legend written in various places seems to push the onus of being mahan (great) on to the earth of India while releasing the people to be mean and behave like adolescents to downright infants.

I mention these two non-adult categories because the British had done their work in creating a climate where Indians were seen as non-adults. I am referring here to the fact that almost every kind of form asked the person filling it to write after his/her name, father/husband/guardian’s name and, if one moved to a new place, there was also the category of a ‘local guardian’. Sadly, this practice still continues although one wonders why Indians over the age of 18 need to wear on their sleeves the name of either father/husband or a guardian, unless the Indian psyche has internalised the British ploy to mentally reduce all Indians to a non-adult state. The probability of the Indian psyche collectively internalising the non-adult state of every Indian, irrespective their age, is evidenced by many kinds of behaviour patterns, some of which will be noted in the text later on. I shall mention here only one of those. In most other countries the film censor boards by and large follow the policy of attaching a letter to the film censor board’s certificate to signify whether those are not fit to be seen by children. Other letters are used to note violence, sex, or even almost pornography, leaving the adult population to use its wisdom (or lack of it) to make their own choice. But in India, the Film Censor Board also has the authority to decide which films, or what parts of which films India’s adult population should not see, as if the members of that Board are super-adults, dealing with the morals of not-quite-adult Indian citizens who are otherwise supposed to use their wisdom to elect the law makers of the nation! It is as though, unconsciously taking a cue from the government, various kinds of so-called moral police organisations have also sprung up who have the temerity to behave absolutely despicably and despotically in several states.

Continues in Part 6

Biographical Note

Gouranga Chattopadhyay is Emeritus Professor of HR of the Academy of Human Resources, Ahmedabad and an independent OD consultant, executive coach and personal counsellor. He can be contacted at gipisi2@gmail.com.

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7

In British India, for almost two centuries, this process had taken place. A small percentage of people, variously termed by the British as ‘terrorists’ and ‘enemies of the crown’, resisted the fear of punishment, accepted the punishments meted out by the imperial rulers and kept up the fight for freedom that culminated in the Union Jack going down at the hour of midnight on August 15, 1947 and the tricolour with the Chakra in the center-piece going up. Others (the rest) largely identified with the British imperial power as they had experienced it and these identification-based culture traits have been passed on to following generations.

Sadly, the new Indian Government could not gauge the depth of penetration of identification with the aggressor in the psyche of the average Indian – both in the so-called ‘ordinary’ people and the so-called ‘exclusive’ people. As a result the top-level civil servants who kept on emphasising the ‘goodness’ of the erstwhile colonial days, were retained in their respective positions. Such people had earlier refused to believe that it was possible that an independent nation called India could thrive when the British had to quit. I can quote here as an example of that kind of mentality from one of my experiences.

While the Gandhi-Jinnah talks were going on in Shimla, my host (an uncle of mine) there had invited Sarojini Naidu, Humayun Kabir, his wife Shanti, and a senior Indian civil servant of the rank of Secretary to tea. At Mrs. Naidu’s request everyone present in the room, including the civil servant who had part of his education in Santiniketan, sang the song, ‘Balo balo balo shhabe/ Shato beena benu robe/ Bharat abar jagat shabhae sreshtha ashana labe’ (‘Let all of us declare together/ In voice resounding like hundreds of beenas and flutes/ India will regain her great place in the world’). At the end of the song the civil servant said to Mrs. Naidu, ‘Madam, I sang along with the others at your request, but I don’t believe in the words’. As a result of such people remaining almost at the helm of the nascent nation of India, no steps were taken to re-mould the education system, re-establish some of the relevant pedagogical methodologies followed in pre-British India, and freeing the Indian psyche from the internalized identification with the aggressor as a meta-clutural reality in India, and presumably in Pakistan too (Chattopadhyay 1991).

Many different kinds of evidence of this hangover can be found scattered in various walks of life. The recent move by the Government of India to create world standard universities with foreign collaboration may also stem from the colonial hangover. That is because the assumption behind the move could well be the ingrained notion that it is only when one collaborates with the white man that we Indians can do anything worthwhile. The points made in his recent article by Chaudhuri (2009) entitled ‘From enclave to empire’ on high and low in higher education are also worth exploring in the present context as flowing from the same hangover.

That is the colonial hangover. It has largely alienated Indians from many other realities that are part of the sub-continental meta-culture that are not internalized. Those meta-cultural realities have the creative power necessary to establish a Mahan Bharat, a Great India. Instead, the desire for greatness is projected on stickers on the rear bumpers of public buses and trucks by writing ‘Mera Bharat Mahan’ (my India is great), while individuals keep behaving mostly as something that is the opposite of mahan (great).

In the early nineteen forties as a school student I had attended an annual conference of All India Students Federation in Guntur (which was then a small village). During that conference some of the local members had sung a song in Telegu, the first line of which I still remember: ‘Desha mante mattikadoi desha mante manusuoi’ (‘The country does not consist of its earth only, but it includes the human beings too’). This Mera Bharat Mahan legend written in various places seems to push the onus of being mahan (great) on to the earth of India while releasing the people to be mean and behave like adolescents to downright infants.

I mention these two non-adult categories because the British had done their work in creating a climate where Indians were seen as non-adults. I am referring here to the fact that almost every kind of form asked the person filling it to write after his/her name, father/husband/guardian’s name and, if one moved to a new place, there was also the category of a ‘local guardian’. Sadly, this practice still continues although one wonders why Indians over the age of 18 need to wear on their sleeves the name of either father/husband or a guardian, unless the Indian psyche has internalised the British ploy to mentally reduce all Indians to a non-adult state. The probability of the Indian psyche collectively internalising the non-adult state of every Indian, irrespective their age, is evidenced by many kinds of behaviour patterns, some of which will be noted in the text later on. I shall mention here only one of those. In most other countries the film censor boards by and large follow the policy of attaching a letter to the film censor board’s certificate to signify whether those are not fit to be seen by children. Other letters are used to note violence, sex, or even almost pornography, leaving the adult population to use its wisdom (or lack of it) to make their own choice. But in India, the Film Censor Board also has the authority to decide which films, or what parts of which films India’s adult population should not see, as if the members of that Board are super-adults, dealing with the morals of not-quite-adult Indian citizens who are otherwise supposed to use their wisdom to elect the law makers of the nation! It is as though, unconsciously taking a cue from the government, various kinds of so-called moral police organisations have also sprung up who have the temerity to behave absolutely despicably and despotically in several states.

Continued in Part 5

Biographical Note

Gouranga Chattopadhyay is Emeritus Professor of HR of the Academy of Human Resources, Ahmedabad and an independent OD consultant, executive coach and personal counsellor. He can be contacted at gipisi2@gmail.com.

2

Difficult moment in the Jan Lokpal struggle. Arvind Kejriwal says that the government is responsible if something happens to Anna.

When a much needed movement goes wrong, my greatest service is to speak up.

It is a difficult moment. A small movement struck an unexpected chord in the country and became an inferno. It built momentum till it forced the government to recognize the people's need. It was powerful enough to reemerge like a phoenix after months of silence at the moment of need. It is a powerful movement. Those steering it hold a lot of power. It makes it important that all follow the path impeccably.

When a crowd this large comes together, all it knows is that it is a peaceful protest. But a satyagraha is more than that. It is a philosophy. It is insistence that what is right be done. That is what gives it power. If what is being asked for is not rightful, then the power is destructive. It is also weak, because people can't logically arrive at the same false solution.

The tremendous success of this movement was because what was being asked for is a genuine, burning need.

I have written at each stage of smaller successes or failures, that this will get a lot worse before it gets better. There are powerful sides. There are powerful motives, there is a lot of effort. Whether right or wrong is irrelevant. What "should" be is irrelevant. Ground reality is that this was never going to be a cakewalk. We knew it going in. Anna knew it going in. It was a choice we had, and we made it. We were proud of the heroes who chose to publicly suffer hunger as a manifestation and symbol of the suffering the group was expressing.

Now we are hitting the difficult parts, and our integrity is falling apart. We must keep our eyes on the path and not get incited by our fears and anger.

When people sat for a fast unto death, death was always on the table. Today, a man died. The "death" from "fast unto death" just became more real. We are into the rough time. But nothing else has changed. We are still on a non-violent protest, our volunteers fasting are still making tremendous personal sacrifice out of free will.

Today, Kejriwal said something that was untrue. He said it publicly. He said the government would be responsible if anything happened to Anna. I can understand that as the person managing the initiative, he is under tremendous pressure. As a leader, he had a man die today. Frustration, anger, grief could have caused these words and the same sentiments in the followers are making them echo widely.

This blog has dozens of posts I wrote in support of the movement. I am no opposer. But, I see us going down the path of untruth, and I must speak up. A person is responsible for their choices. Good or bad. No matter the consequences. You can't say, "Oh, if we get the Jan Lokpal, then Anna chose to fast, and if something happens to Anna, then the government made him fast". Without free will, there cannot be satyagraha. As such, no matter how difficult times get, it is important that we keep in mind that no matter what wrong we are protesting, no matter whether someone agreed to demands or not, no matter whether there is success or failure, our actions are our own.

History has shown us that when people lose sight of this fact, frustration and anger cause failure. Think Gandhi and Chauri-Chaura. If Gandhiji hadn't called off the Satyagraha, use of excessive force against protesters would be justified. That was his moment of truth. The movement had derailed, and he made a historical ethical call to call it off at its peak.

Today's statement takes us in that direction. We are at our peak, and in a moment of weakness, a target has been set up for public anger. This is very dangerous for the country. While I understand that it wasn't a good day to be talking with introspection for Kejriwal, I do hope that he sees the falsehood in that angry blame and withdraws the statement and brings attention back to the reality. We set out to protest peacefully, come what may. We set out to sacrifice come what may.

It is an insult to the sacrifice of someone to present it as something they were forced to do. It is false that anyone can be responsible for what someone else does. Government or not. Anna is responsible for his choices. Not Kiran Bedi or Kejriwal, nor the government. He made that choice. If we suffer its consequences, they are because we love him. Let us not abandon our pain from our feelings for him as anger at government. When he lies physically weak, he needs us to enact his strength. We must not fail him by turning our actions from assertion to blame. We must not fail him by not bothering to understand the philosophy of the Satyagraha, because anger was easier than caring and hurt.

It has been a long and difficult day. I hope that people rest at night as well as they can, and think calmly and wake up with the moral strength it takes to see that the unwavering belief of Anna's that led this movement to this point is still his, not government property.

My hope is that Team Anna has consistently shown humility enough to admit statements made in error after reflection. Kejriwal has been angry and said things he shouldn't before. There have been retractions of incorrect statements after facts were reflected on. Ego never forced Team Anna to remain stubborn about wrong words. I am hoping that this is one of them. I hope that at this crucial juncture and under pressure, he still demonstrates that skill only Team Anna has shown among public entities - to self-correct with dignity.

I could have simply turned sides and asked for the movement to be stopped. But I believe in it. I am not against the movement. I am not against Anna. I even have great admiration for Kejriwal. All I am saying is that this recent statement takes the Satya out of Satyagraha, and doing my duty as a supporter - sharing my ability to see for our collective well being.

What is a satyagraha without satya?

I believe that when the going gets tough, and seeing clearly becomes difficult, those who can must help others see so that we move forward with purpose and not fall off the track.

So, when I see our ethics derailing, I am digging in my heels, and speaking up.

I will not step out of the path of Satyagraha, even if I stand there alone.