Day 10 – Q 3.How far caste based pressure groups have altered the polity in India? Illustrate with the help of suitable examples.
3. How far caste based pressure groups have altered the polity in India? Illustrate with the help of suitable examples.
भारत में जाति आधारित दबाव समूहों ने राजनीति में कितना परिवर्तन किया है? उपयुक्त उदाहरणों की सहायता से चित्रण करें।
Pressure groups are a voluntary organization of civil society that actively pursues interest and objective based policies to be discussed and implemented by the government. Caste based pressure groups arise from a particular caste and influence government policies in favor of their social and political demands.
Caste system, being a vital inherent feature of Indian society provides a fertile and a strong foundation for pressure group activities influencing the polity of India:
- Pre-independence PGs helped in ensuring upliftment and emancipation of backward/depressed classes eventually leading to affirmative policies and introduction of reservation in education, employment, seats in parliament etc. Ex: Harijan Sevak Sangh born out of the historic Poona Pact between Dr.BR Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi.
- Legislative measures for empowerment of the lower castes: Article 17 for the abolition of untouchability, several fundamental rights and DPSPs like Article 15, Article 46, Article 335 for claims to services and posts etc.
- Creation of caste based development corporations: National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSCFDC), Dr. BR Ambedkar Development Corporation by Government of Karnataka etc.
- Political empowerment: Increasing caste based representation, participatory assertion and subsequent political steps taken. Ex: Marwari Association in Rajasthan.
- Strengthening the democratic nature and inclusive governance: With the marginalized sections’ increasing participation through PG mobilization, awareness and exercise of their rights, they are encouraged into the mainstream effectively.
- Increasing self-identity/Preservation of ethos and cultural importance: Ex: Celebration of Bhima-Koregaon battle by Dalits.
- Paved way for the representation at national and regional political landscape. Ex: Political parties like BSP whose political origin is traced back to caste based PGs.
However, there have been some counter-effects by the activities of caste based PGs:
- Caste based violence: Riots and unpleasant clashes with other castes, sometimes ending in death or serious consequences. Ex: Clashes between upper castes and the Mahars on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
- Fragmentation of society and enhanced caste consciousness: Creation of favor in own interests and animosity between different sections of people. Ex: Lingayat Sect in Karnataka.
- Assertions: There is revival of caste based politics in new form through caste assertions to gain political space thereby creating new wedge in society.
- Identity politics: Politicians seem to take advantage through caste appeasement and neglect the actual needs and policies required for upliftment, often agreeing to illegitimate and parochial demands. Ex: Reservation to upper and well off castes in Gujarat, Maharashtra etc. when they do not meet criteria of social or educational backward classes.
In a democratic nation like India, Pressure groups provide an informal means to meet and serve needs of different classes and sections of society. However, pursuit of illogical and unnecessary demands should not override affirmative action to ensure a vibrant and inclusive polity especially as seen in the recent elections that have shown a positive direction in the sphere of exercising voting rights by citizens of India based on growth and development rather than caste based results in many places.