Class in Caste

Vivek Sakpal

Published in Issue V, April 2014

Siddharth Gautama, The Buddha, spoke and taught in the interest of “People”. His teachings mainly follow the principles of self understanding and questioning. Any rational mind which follows them shall surely land up with the teachings on Liberty, Equality and Justice. Dr. Ambedkar who also framed the Indian Constitution on the same principles spoke and worked in the direction of a Casteless and a Classless society.

Today, the entire depressed class, as defined by Dr Ambedkar, which mainly constitutes the Scheduled Caste, defined in Indian laws, has been divided into classes. The progress of division into classes of these castes is on a higher rate. Fueling the progression itself are the torch bearers from the same caste/community. These torch bearers are not just regarded as role models but project themselves as leaders, which is a signal to worry. Why and how should economically-uplifted individuals be regarded as Leaders? The entire foundation and objective of Dr. Ambedkar’s work as well as writings were towards Equality and not just economic empowerment. The vision as well as path is lost in the glory of economic development and upliftment only.

One cannot be, should not be and will not be against upliftment and empowerment in economic aspect but when that is the only focus, there seems something is surely missing.

Post 1991, thanks to World Bank, the then finance minister, and economic lobbies around the world, India embraced GPL, (Globalisation, Privatisation, Liberalisation). The effects of these, mainly on the economic aspect are seen today. Government jobs have been dried up, outsourcing is in fashion, contract labours are welcomed and so on. Naturally the worst hit and affected of this entire game is the poor, which mainly constitutes the scheduled caste as well as tribe along with nomadic tribes. So now, a certain section from this community has woken up, and has taken business as a way to earn their living.

Business and self employment are different aspects. Of the total Indian population around 51% of workers are self employed, mainly from rural area. Business is institutionalising the same with employed workforce which can be scaled to new heights. It should be welcomed that such moves are happening and they should also be appreciated and supported.

My personal point of worry is that many of these “Businessmen” deal only into their own particular community and do not venture out to expand their wings for growth. These businessmen plan business model only for their community. It comes out of love and solidarity they posses for their communities. It also has a social view point, as mainly they do serve certain aspects of social development. It may also be due to a fear or a phobia that they may not be in a position to venture out. It may also be the fear of not being able to grow at par with others that they limit their audience to only their own brother/sisterhood.

Some exceptions to this model may be tolerated. But when these Social entrepreneurs, who have grown economically, making their community as audience/consumers, are now regarded as leaders is a cause to worry. There also seems an intensified competition among them to compete with their own community social entrepreneurs for the same slice of audience, where as they should be looking towards expansion, but their focus is resulting in fragmentation of a society which is in dire need for unity.

Institutions formed for entrepreneurship, should encourage self-employed individuals towards forming their own ventures and fund them at early stages, whereas these institutions are only focusing on the cream of the already established “class” and terming them as visionaries, leaders, achievers etc.

One may see a lot of media houses being formed on the same pattern. Media does hold the key to a good democracy. But Media also influences mindset of society; Media feeds and installs ideologies into the mindset of the audience. Media, if not handled with care, can and will lead to grave situations. The prime most aspect of Media is to be non-biased and speak truth. Where as media houses born form social entrepreneurship model serving the same community has resulted in competition which has turned biased, corrupt and highly sensational. The audience stands to loose, sensational media will always be short lived. It should be prime objective of the media houses to instill confidence and self respect in an audience which has been systematically excluded, where as the media is fueling anger, hatred, and such other negative forces within the people. In doing so, they stand to loose their own audience which could and should have been from other communities, which they do not wish to serve, for reasons best known to them. A limited media is no media. A limited consumer is never in favor of a business.

It has been told to me by a good friend, who is also a well read person, that Dr. Ambedkar has loaned / financed few individuals to set-up the businesses. He had also set up a stock trading company. He was a true “Fabian” and not a “Capitalist”. Today these self entrepreneurs are only creating a capitalist within a caste. A caste that is in dire need of unity should not be heavily fragmented on the basis of classes.

It is wise and good to start a business, but it is also stupid and insane to focus on audience/consumers from a limited spectrum. India is a nation of 1.3+Billion people. Possibility of any to every business exists.

But when “Social work” is combined with “Business” it may lead to class problems which will have to be addressed again at later stage. It would be best not to combine them and focus only on one of them.

Dr. Ambedkar, a Fabian, was surely fond of socialist economy. His followers have a duty and responsibility to extend this ideology to others and not adapt the “capitalist” ideology from others and implement and propagate it. He did write about the “Problem of Rupee” but we are far away from the solutions for the same, not just for the people but in the interest of the entire nation.

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