Ashish Nandy Peh Itna Gussa Kyon?

By Prabhakar Timble
28 January 2013 23:51 IST

"You cannot pay 12,000 for a meal for two people in a five-star hotel and come out and throw 10 to a boy competing with a dog for the garbage and think you have done your duty”. This is a widely parroted quote of the internationally well-known political psychologist and social theorist, Ashish Nandy.  His works validate the strong belief in non-violence and civil liberties. His writings have always espoused the cause of the underprivileged, minorities and the marginalised. Against this background, it is unjust that his comment at the 2013 Jaipur Literary Festival stating that “people belonging to OBC, SC and ST communities were the most corrupt” should turn controversial. The reaction of the BSP supremo Ms Mayawati, the LJP leader Mr Ram Vilas Paswan and politicians from all other political parties is politically understandable. The disproportionate and monumental wealth amassed by them and many others is an open secret. Filing of criminal case and invoking the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act needs to be condemned. The Dalit activists need to understand that Ashish Nandy is strongly hitting out at corruption and raising the voice to protect the Dalit from falling a prey to many of their leaders whose mind, heart and lifestyle has totally alienated from their cause.

Statement of fact

The statement is neither casteist nor in any way maligns Dalits and OBCs. It is definitely nasty to the few corrupt belonging to these communities. It is true that corrupt people are in all communities. Greed and exploitation knows no caste or religion. The forward castes or classes and more particularly the Brahmins have received a beating from Dalit politicians, thrashing from progressive intellectuals and black branding from social activists for corruption, exploitation and following the philosophy of exclusion. In fact, not a day goes without a stone being hurled at the forward castes despite the fact that a major section of the forwarded castes today practice renunciation from the unjust and unfair practices of the past. It is not just Ashish Nandy but many social thinkers have rightly observed that the ‘brahmanical’ tendencies have gripped the ‘advantaged forward sections’ amongst the OBCs, SC and ST. The lavish and prodigal lifestyle of persons belonging to these communities who have got hold of executive, administrative and political power would put the erstwhile Brahmins to shame. Usurpation of lands, real estate deals, extortion and demands for kickbacks has led to the emergence of a handful few Dalit lords surrounded by a sea of Dalits living on subsistence. Feudalism in a reformed form and hero-worship of the absolutely undeserving is gaining ground in these backward communities. It is observed that those who have gained power have amassed fortunes through the same methodology as the officials of the much maligned forward classes. I submit that Ashish Nandy has not said anything wrong or blasphemous. It may not be politically right but definitely not factually erroneous.

Shield and ladder

Politicians of all shades will stab their communities stealthily and at the same time use the community label as a shield to protect themselves. Hence, any criminal proceeding or even an unpalatable comment on a Dalit politician would be projected as an insult or attack on the community. The few beneficiaries will also use the community tag as a ladder to move up in the executive and political hierarchy. This is natural and unavoidable. To a large extent, this approach is also acceptable. But, what should be castigated are illegality and the failure to espouse the causes and aspirations of the dispossessed with commitment for upliftment of the majority in the community. The landlords and corrupted beneficiaries belonging to the SC/ST community should not be spared.

Just as the Congress party leadership has desecrated Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalit top management has defiled Ambedkar and Jyotiba. I have no issue on this with the BJP since it is their ‘dharma’ to decimate these leaders through slow poisoning. The Dalit leadership will trample upon the teachings and principles of their idols but will raise a hue and cry on fleeting aspects such as statutes, paintings and writings. Kamal Hassan’s “Vishwaroopam”, a thriller film, is under attack from similar leadership holding sway over the Muslim community. It would be wrong to consider this as resurgence of the underprivileged and minorities. This is decadence and attempts to take these segments for a jolly good ride to serve the personal and selfish interests of a few leaders. The community as a whole is destined to lose more freedom and opportunities of social development as long as they remain in the clutches of such self-centred leaders. This small group in the community will reap gains by keeping the community away from the mainstream.

Probably, corruption is a phase of transition in the backward classes and scheduled communities. The opening of access to political, economic and governmental opportunities generates sharp inequity in a community. Initially, the benefits are cornered by a few forward amongst the backward. These beneficiaries emerge as the “nouveau riche” and in their bid to retain their power resist further redistribution and advancement of others in the community.  The phase of critical thinking and strong communication would in all probability open the eyes of the less privileged to clean their stables made dirty by persons from their community itself. So, why is the anger on Ashish Nandi? The protest should be on their political leadership and the protestors should turn the heat on their leaders. Ashish Nandy has rung the bell loud enough for the aam admi in the SC/ST community and opened the reality. Do not shoot down the voice which dispels the cobwebs knit by the beneficiaries of corruption.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Previous Comments

Mr. Timble, you hit the nail right on its head!!!!!There cannot be a much more simplified explanation than yours. Not only in India, but in our own Goa, this is prevalent, wherein the "nouveau rich" are the beneficiaries.

Why cannot Goa lead the way by doing away with the reservations made for for these people , which are actually hijacked by a few? and even worse, there are people who are NOT from the ST/SC who have hijacked fake certificates and gained privileges.

Just food for thought

- Jaret de SIlva, Chandor | 29 th January 2013 22:50


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