Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Only an armour can make women feel safe now – Dr. Shura Darapuri

The furore after the December 16 gang rape brought us on the verge of believing that we were living in an awakened India which showed zero tolerance towards all kinds of violence against women.
It was felt that such roars of protest would eventually prove a deterrent to the prospective rapists, and women would for once know, what it is like to breathe fearlessly in a ‘free country’. But their hopes and aspirations were not to last for long and they soon found them shattered with series of rapes ensuing thereafter like an ‘epidemic’.
Almost every morning, while drinking tea, the eyes tend to look for news that ‘do not speak about a rape’. But invariably almost every day, one finds news of modesty of girls outraged with the blink of the eye.
On January 26, we show off to the world our military strength. But it is found that with all the legislations, arms and ammunition put together, we fail to protect the dignity of sisters and daughters of our country.
Certain sections of ‘academia’ in a frustrated attempt, tirelessly indulge in futile long discussions and debate about women’s attire, whether they should be allowed to wear ‘provocative’ jeans and skirts in public or not . Instead of working on developing a mechanism which may make it the responsibility of each and every individual to prevent such cases, they do not hesitate even for a minute to shift the entire blame on women’s shoulders for their miserable state.
It is to be pointed out that a woman’s life right from infancy — if ‘allowed to be born’ — till death remains threatened! There are shameful incidents of innocent toddlers being made victims of a sexual assault! Then going by the advice of so called ‘intelligentsia’, a dress code for toddlers and newborn babies also may be devised. The assault on women may not be always sexual. Only few a weeks ago a JNU student was attacked with an axe by another student of her class. Almost every day, along with rape cases, acid attacks are reported with immense regularity. Brides are burnt every now and then for dowry by greedy in-laws.
One wonders what attire would befit such women. If provocation is regarded the culprit, then ‘purdah system’ of the early times, when there were no jeans should be greatly publicised. Purdah system also did not allow girls to move out of their house freely. It prescribed their confinement at home. It might have saved them from the ‘evil eye’ of the outside world but then the question arises, were they equally safe at home? In the 21st century, in spite of regular reminders on the occasion of ‘Rakshabandhan’ to brothers and other close relatives of their duty to protect their sisters, one finds painful incidents of incest relationship on an increase, with fathers, brothers raping their daughters and sisters. One shudders at the thought of women in veil in the earlier times.
One may again ask the so called custodians of women’s honour what attire may be prescribed for such women and girls. After the 16th December incident, we have yet another shameful case of the gangrape of a photojournalist in Mumbai. In between, there have been uncountable incidents of rape of small children, toddlers, dalit women, tribal women, many of them going unreported. The news of a rape no longer ‘horrifies’ but leaves one worried. That is because, our universities may not have found a top rank in the world, but our services whether judiciary or police are made of men of both vigour and wit. They qualify for these prestigious services only after going through highly competitive examinations and rigorous training. They have greater obligation and duty towards the nation.
It is paradoxical that in spite of the presence of efficient judiciary and police force, the women of the country still live under constant fear of all kinds of assault on their life and integrity. In no way, they find themselves safe outside or in the sanctity of her home. Laws have been made stricter but not strict enough to deter the perpetrator. They, in no way, feel threatened by highly trained and armed police force. Women are advised every now and then to learn to protect themselves by carrying pepper powder and hairpins. Self-defence training institutes have suddenly found a lucrative business. Lingeries are devised to prevent rape. It is hoped that they will soon be made available to poor dalit and tribal women on affordable prices.
But considering the vulnerability to crimes of diversified nature, most useful and appropriate attire for women of 21st century should be an ‘armour’!
(The writer is associate professor and head of the department of history, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow.)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Indianisation of Public Services and the claims of the Backward Classes -Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

Indianisation of Public Services and the claims of the Backward Classes
-Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
(An extract from Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Writings and Speeches Vol. 2, published by Education Department, Government of Maharashtra -1982,  Part II, Dr. Ambedkar with the Simon Commission , Section V- Public Services, pp- 394 to 399)
128. (iii) Indianisation and the claims of the Backward Classes.—It is notorious that the Public Services of the country in so far as they are open to Indians have become by reason of various circumstances a close preserve for the Brahmins and allied castes. The Non-Brahmins, the Depressed Classes and the Mohammedans are virtually excluded from them. They are carrying on an intense agitation for securing to themselves what they regard as a due share of the Public Services. With that purpose in view they prefer the system of appointment by selection to the system of appointment by open competition. This is vehemently opposed by the Brahmins and the allied castes on the ground that the interests of the State require that efficiency should be the only consideration in the matters of appointment to public offices and that caste and creed should count for nothing. Relying upon educational merit as the only test which can be taken to guarantee efficiency, they insist that public offices should be filled on the basis of competitive examinations. Such a system it is claimed serves the ends of efficiency without in any way prohibiting the entry of the Backward Classes in the Public Services. For the competitive examination being open to all castes and creeds it leaves the door open to a candidate from these communities if he satisfied the requisite test.
129. The attitude of the Brahmin and allied castes towards this question has no doubt the appearance of fairness. The system of competitive examination relied upon may result in fairness to all castes and creeds under a given set of circumstances. But those circumstances presuppose that the educational system of the State is sufficiently democratic and is such that facilities for education are sufficiently widespread and sufficiently used to permit all classes from which good public servants are likely to be forthcoming to complete. Otherwise even with the system of open competition large classes are sure to be left out in the cold. This basic condition is conspicuous by its absence in India, so that to invite Backward Classes to rely upon the results of competitive examination as a means of entry into the Public Services is to practise a delusion upon them and very rightly the Backward Classes have refused to be deceived by it.
130. Assuming therefore that the entry of the Backward Classes in the Public Services cannot be secured by making it dependent upon open competition, the first question that arises for consideration is, have the Backward Classes a case for a favoured treatment ? Unless they can make good their case they cannot expect any modification of the accepted principles of recruitment by considerations other than those of efficiency pure and simple. In regard to this important question I have no hesitation in stating that the Backward Classes have a case which is overwhelming.
131. First of all those who lay exclusive stress upon efficiency as the basis for recruitment in public services do not seem to have adequate conception of what is covered by administration in modern times. To them administration appears to be nothing more than the process of applying law as enacted by the legislature. Beyond question that is a very incomplete understanding of its scope and significance. Administration in modern times involves far more than the scrutiny of statutes for the sake of knowing the regulations of the State. Often times under the pressure of time or from convenience a government department is now-a-days entrusted with wide powers of rule-making for the purpose of administering a particular law. In such cases it is obvious that administration cannot merely consist in applying the law. It includes the making up of rules which have the force of law and of working them out. This system of legislation by delegation has become a very common feature of all modern governments and is likely to be on the increase in years to come. It must be accepted as beyond dispute that such wide powers of rule-making affecting the welfare of large classes of people cannot be safely left into the hands of the administrators drawn from one particular class which as a matter of fact is opposed to the rest of the population in its motives and interests, does not sympathise with the living forces operating in them, is not charged with their wants, pains, cravings and desires and is inimical to their aspirations, simply because it comes out best by the test of education.
132. But even assuming that administration involves nothing more than the process of applying the law as enacted by the legislature it does not in the least weaken the case of the Backward Classes. For, officers who are drawn from a particular caste and in whose mind consciousness of caste sits closer than conscientious regard to public duty, may easily prostitute their offices to the aggrandisement of their community and to the detriment of the general public. Take the ordinary case of a Mamlatdar, administering the law relating to the letting of Government lands for cultivation. He is no doubt merely applying the law. But in applying he may pick and choose the lessees according to his predilection and very possibly may decide against lessees on grounds which may be communal in fact although they may be non-communal in appearance. Take another illustration of an officer placed in charge of the census department in which capacity he is called upon to decide questions of nomenclature of the various communities and of their social status. An officer in charge of this department by reason of his being a member of particular caste in the course of his administration may do injustice to a rival community by refusing to it the nomenclature or the status that belongs to it. Instances of favouritism, particularly on the grounds of caste and creed are of common occurrence though they are always excused on some other plausible ground. But I like to quote one which pertains to the Vishwakarmans of the Madras Presidency. It is related in their letter to the Reforms Enquiry Committee of 1924 in which they complained that " a Brahmin member of the Madras Executive Council Sir (then Mr.) P. Siwaswami Ayyar—when he was in charge of the portfolio of law, issued a Government Order objecting to the suffix ' Acharya ' usually adopted by the Vishwakarmans in their names and seeking to enforce in its place the word ' Asry ', which is weighed with common odium. Though there was neither necessity nor authority to justify the action taken by the law member, the Government Order was published by the law department as if on the recommendation of the Spelling Mistakes Committee. It happened to our misfortune that the non-official members of this Committee were drawn largely from the Brahmin community, who never knew how to respect the rights of their sister communities and never informed us of the line of action that they were decided upon. It was dealt more or less as the stab in the dark."
133. This is inevitable. Class rule must mean rule in terms of class interests and class prejudices. If such results are inevitable then it must raise a query in the minds of all honest people whether efficient government has also given us good government ? If not, what is the remedy ? My view is that the disadvantages arising from the class bias of the officers belonging to Brahmin and allied castes has outweighed all the advantages attending upon their efficiency and that on the total they have done more harm than good. As to the remedy, the one I see is a proper admixture of the different communities in the public service. This may perhaps import a small degree of inefficiency. But it will supply a most valuable corrective to the evils of class bias. This has become all the more necessary because of the social struggles that are now going on in the country. The struggles between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins, between Hindus and Mohammedans, between Touchables and Untouchables for the destruction of all inequalities and the establishment of equality, with all their bitterness, cannot leave the judges, magistrates, civil servants and the police without being influenced in their judgement as to the right or wrong of these struggles. Being members of the struggling communities they are bound to be partisans, with the result that there may be a great loss in the confidence reposed by the public in their servants.
134. So far I have considered the case of the Backward Classes on grounds of administrative utility. But there are also moral grounds why entry into the public service should be secured to them. The moral evils arising out of the exclusion of a person from the public service were never so well portrayed as by the late Mr. Gokhale. In the course of a telling speech he observed, " The excessive costliness of the foreign agency is not however its only evil. There is a moral evil, which, if anything, is even greater. A kind of dwarfing or stunting of the Indian race is going on under the present system. We must live all the days of our life in an atmosphere of inferiority and tallest of us must bend in order that the exigencies of the existing system may be satisfied. The upward impulse, if I may use such an expression, which every school-boy at Eton or Harrow may feel that he may one day be a Gladstone, a Nelson, or a Wellington, and which may draw forth the best efforts of which he is capable, is denied to us. The full height to which our manhood is capable of rising can never be reached by us under the present system. The moral elevation which every self-governing people feel cannot be felt by us. Our administrative and military talents must gradually disappear, owing to sheer disuse, till at last our lot, as hewers of wood and drawers of water in our own country, is stereotyped." Now what one would like to ask those who deny the justice of the case of the Backward Classes for entry into the Public Service is whether it is not open to the Backward Classes to allege against the Brahmins and allied castes all that was alleged by the late Mr. Gokhale on behalf of Indian people against the foreign agency? Is it not open to the Depressed Classes, the non-Brahmins and the Mohammedans to say that by their exclusion from the Public Service a kind of dwarfing or stunting of their communities is going on ? Can they not complain that as a result of their exclusion they are obliged to live all the days of their lives in an atmosphere of inferiority, and that the tallest of them has to bend in order that the exigencies of the existing system may be satisfied? Can they not assert that the upward impulses which every school-boy of the Brahmanical community feels that he may one day be a Sinha, a Sastri, a Ranade or a Paranjpye, and which may draw forth from him the best efforts of which he is capable is denied to them ? Can they not indignantly assert that the full height to which their manhood is capable of rising can never be reached by them under the present system ? Can they not lament that the moral elevation which every self-governing people feel cannot be felt by them and that their administrative talents must gradually disappear owing to sheer disgust till at last their lot as hewers of wood and drawers of water in their own country is stereotyped ? The answers to these queries cannot but be in the affirmative. If to exclude the advanced communities from entering into public service of the country was a moral wrong, the exclusion of the backward communities from the same field must also be a moral wrong, and if it is a moral wrong it must be righted.
135. 135. These are the considerations which lead me to find in favour of the Backward Classes. It will be noticed that these considerations are in no way different from the considerations that were urged in favour of Indianisation. The case for Indianisation, it must be remembered, did not rest upon efficient administration. It rested upon considerations of good administration. It was not challenged that the Indian was inferior to the European in the qualities that go into the make-up of an efficient administrator. It was not denied that the European bureaucracy had improved their roads, constructed canals on more scientific principles, effected transportation by rail, carried their letters by penny post, flashed their messages by lightning, improved their currency, regulated their weights and measures, corrected their notions of geography, astronomy and medicine, and stopped their internal quarrels. Nothing can be a greater testimony to the fact that the European bureaucracy constituted the most efficient government possible. All the same the European bureaucracy, efficient though it was, was condemned as it was found to be wanting in those qualities which make for human administration. It is therefore somewhat strange that those who clamoured for Indianisation should oppose the stream flowing in the direction of the Backward Classes, forgetting that the case for Indianisation also includes the case for the Backward Classes. Be that as it may, I attach far more importance to this than I attach either to Provincial Autonomy or to complete responsibility in the Provincial Executive. I would not be prepared to allow the devolution of such large powers if I felt that those powers are likely to fall in the hands of any one particular community to the exclusion of the rest. That being my view I suggest that the following steps should be taken for the materialisation of my recommendations:—
(1) A certain number of vacancies in the Superior Services, Class I and Class II, and also in the Subordinate Services, should every year be filled by system of nomination with a pass examination. These nominations should be filled on the recommendation of a select committee composed of persons competent to judge of the fitness of a candidate and working in conjunction with the Civil Service officer referred to above. Such nominations shall be reserved to the Depressed Class, the Mohammedans and the Non-Brahmins in the order of preference herein indicated until their numbers in the service reach a certain proportion. (2) That steps should be taken to post an increasing number of officers belonging to these communities at the headquarters.
(3) That a Central Recruitment Board should be constituted as a central agency for registering all applications for appointments and vacancies and putting applicants in touch with the offices where vacancies exist or occur from time to time. It is essential to put the man and the job in touch if this desire is to be achieved. The absence of such a Board is the reason why the efforts of the Government of Bombay in this connection have not achieved the success which was expected of them.