Without Radical Land Reform there will never have Gram Swaraj but Manuraj

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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Radical Land Reform there will never have Gram Swaraj but Manuraj

In the
United States they are challenging it. President Trump is facing inquiry and
media is asking tough question often compelling trump to tweet against them but
in India media has become the political mouth-organ of the ruling party. The
unconstitutional way which the governor got Devendra Fadnavis and Ajeet Pawar
sworn in, was a blatant violation of all the norms and ethics. We saw it during
Indira Gandhi’s period when likes of Ram Lal dismissed a duly elected
government in Andhra Pradesh resulting in massive protest against Mrs. Gandhi.

Times have
changed. Mrs Gandhi might not have known that our Manuwadi media need money to
keep its mouth shut and make the opposition the real villain. Where the
government and its stars are caught red handed doing unconstitutional things,
media and its Brahmanical anchors are discussing ‘chankyaniti’ and who upped
the ante.

Many people
blame the opposition for delaying things. Now the question is when there is a
governor rule, isn’t it good for all the opposition to discussion threadbare
their issues and then come to a Common Minimum Programme. There is nothing
wrong in it.

The Supreme
Court sat on Sunday which is a holiday. We know that the Courts are not going
to give judgement that fast as we expect.

I have
said many times that the courts are influenced by the popular political culture
of the day.
They are
being influenced. Otherwise, President Kovind signing a document on dotted
lines is a reminder that Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, the infamous President of
emergency era is not ‘dead’ and is still a role model.

I have
always mentioned and many times that the role model of the current regime is
Sanjay Gandhi who dealt with the opposition through his young groups who were
mostly the new lumpen element of the Congress Party. Indira Gandhi could do
nothing to stop him.

The only
problem is that Indira was secular to the core though during her stint after

biggest blunder Mrs Gandhi did was to undo the historical legacy of her
legendary father Jawahar Lal Nehru who is undoubtedly one of the prime builders
of modern India along with Baba Saheb Ambedkar, an India which had institutions
and a secular socialist constitution.

democracy, it is not merely the political parties who are essential. Equally
essential is an absolutely independent media, judiciary which can defend the
rights of the people and can tell the powers of the day that they are wrong if
they violate the law. That apart, we need strong social movements and civil
society to remind our political class not to compromise with the welfare of the

political parties fail raising people’s agenda and when our MPs represent
themselves and their own welfare, it is essential that there be a moral force
to guide us. Periyar understood it in Tamilnadu that the political class will
always compromise and that is why he warned and asked them not to take
political positions. Gandhi knew it well and he nurtured a young leader in the
organisation and made social work an essential part of the organisational
culture of the Congress Party.

Baba Saheb
Ambedkar’s call to Buddhism was nothing but this important aspect that unless
we challenge the hegemonic cultural narratives of Brahmanism, we would not
succeed. It was not important to challenge them but provide alternative which
he gave in the form of Buddha’s ideas of enlightenment and wished India become
a ‘Prabuddha Bharat’ one day, an India of enlightened people, who can share and
feel pain, agony and joy of all its citizens irrespective of their faiths.

I have no
wish against political class but I know in todays time our democracy is nothing
but corporatocracy and political class has been unable to challenge the impact
and influence of the corporate in our political life.

I don’t
blame the right wing for this as they were always fascinated by American
interests even in those years when Soviet Union was defending us at all level
right from supporting military hardware to vetoing things at the United
Nations. Our issues are with other political parties who claim to be socialist
and secular that they are unable to challenge the corporate influence in our

biggest failure of our political class was their inability to support people on
important issues.

The Narmada
Bachao Andolan started by Medha Patakar was unable to find support from
political class even when Adivasis and Dalits faced eviction and destruction of
their home land. Over 10 million Adivasis families became victim of our
developmental model since 1950 and political parties kept quiet. They remain
conspicuously silent when government after government failed to protect the
rights of the Dalits over their land, a promise that we made in our
constitution. Our Gandhian friend often talk about Gram Swaraj and I remind
them of the fears of Baba Saheb Ambedkar that the Panchayat will always be a
panchayat of the dominant. Have we addressed those issues? Have our villages
really democratised?

We the
romantics of the village life must look at it from the angles of those who don’t
have any ‘customary’ right to own property or even enter the ‘common’ property.
We glamorise them. Of course, those who got it, will defend it but what about
those who don’t have anything. Shouldn’t our movement talk about those who were
historically, divinely denied right to own property and education.

Friends call
that all should unite. Ambedkarite, Gandhians, communists, peasants, in their
fight against Fascism but the question what is our understanding of it. Should
we think that it has come to India from Germany or the other way around that we
exported it to Germany. As M N Roy wrote in his phenomenal analysis of Fascism,
that Indian fascism will be nothing but cultural. Today, we are witnessing it.
He had the courage to say that the culture of cult and masiahism around Gandhi
itself is a threat and can take us to fascist tendencies. I only want to suggest
that while we must take lessons from our leaders and philosophers, we must also
not make them unquestionable and superheroes who can’t do anything wrong or who
knew everything.

It is time,
we discuss issues and build up collective narrative. Challenge the Brahmanical
narratives which degrade India’s Bahujan masses. It will obliterate them from
history books and folk lores. We must not live in the past as we can only learn
lessons from it and prepare ourselves for future. Gandhi despite all his
shortcoming has a great power of organising people and bringing different and
diverse group in the organisational structure. People like me never agree to
many of his work and practices, his ‘spiritualism’ but if he should be known, I
would say, he must be known from the group of leaders he nurtured and
encouraged. We must have the capacity to listen to dissent and not to start
questioning and telling us things like Ambedkar never went to Jail as an ‘old
veteran’ told me when I questioned Gandhi’s socialism at Birla House. I only
said that I never believed Gandhi was socialist and this was countered by the
person countering Ambedkar. I told him Ambedkar was fighting for the freedom of
India’s Bahujan Samaj from the clutches of Brahmanism and not merely British.

struggle is important but also essential as how will it happen. Without
democratisation, our villages are not going to change and hence need for
radical land reforms, seek strict land ceiling laws even if it attracts on big
temples, big ashrams whoever it has. I know, this make many of our friend
uncomfortable as they too have enjoyed the fruits of living in these hugely
built unmanageable ‘ashrams’ with hundreds of acres of land lying unused and
waste. Why not give it to the people, even on lease.

The issue of
common struggle cannot happen with patronising attitude. Accept that there are
Adivasis struggles, Dalit struggles, that of the pastoralists, backward
communities and allow them in these spaces without ‘guiding’ them in your
‘vegetarian’ principles. I have issues with vegetarianism as an imposed value
on people. I can understand economy but at many places of ‘great people’ vegetarianism
is a precondition to live in their ashrams which is basically denial of right
to food practices or culturally accepted food to them.

Fight to
protect our land is the most important task and we stand with all the friends
including Narmada Bachao Andolan for its historical work to stand with the land
and water rights of the Dalit Adivasi communities in the Narmada valley but we
would like to re-emphasise that land redistribution or equal distribution of
our wealth and land, access to natural resources is an unfinished agenda of our
constitution and we must not leave it.

radical land reforms our villages will be in the strong grip of Manuwad and
there will not be a Gram Swaraj but Manuraj in our villages hence it is
essential that both these agendas go hand in hand so that the Dalit Adivasi
backward communities can be partner in their common struggle to get justice.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat


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