MANJHI’S BIHAR

It was ironical , watching all the major news channels cater to the suave , urban , Delhi based audience with paparazzi style commentary on an election to a half state half union territory at the expense of a political revolution taking place at the same time in a state with population larger than Germany . The Bihar fiasco deserved better coverage  for its symbolism , that is , The self assertion of the oppressed maha dalits in a state with one of the worst inter caste relationships . The political ramification of this incident holds more importance nationally  than the aam admi party vs BJP hoopla . Though JD(U) civil war was reported , a detailed analysis of the subject was missing beyond Nitish Kumar and Jitan Ram Manjhi.

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Caste is still as relevant to the Hindu society as it was at the time of independence , Though talked about in hush tones these days , it is still observed with great vigor  . Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are most often cited  as the most polarized on caste lines  , ironically other states are no better . Manjhi represents that section of the state which lies below the intermediate castes who had restricted the benefits of affirmative action from reaching those below them and now holds power once held by the upper castes . In the 1990s they started filling up the vacuum created by the flight of the upper castes to large cities by acquiring property left behind , turning them into mini zamindars. on the other hand the dalits , for whom the mechanism of affirmative action have been in place never really benefited . As Jatin Ram Manjhi said he could have remained silent like other Maha dalit leaders in the fear of being sidelined by the yadavs and paswans , as was the case in Bihar ,  But through the coup he pulled over Nitish Kumar , he has broken the stereotype .His assertion against the OBC strongmen , who have become the dominant force throughout the country , could be seen as the culmination of the 65 years of frustration against the system which have become redundant . This could be the beginning of a revolution similar to the awakening of the middle castes which started in Tamil Nadu in 50s , but ironically this time it will be against them. Though the first steps towards this confrontation began a few years back in Tamil Nadu itself , it precipitated itself in Bihar.

This brings us back to the primary question of finding a  more practical solution to the caste problem , Laws could  work only till a point , beyond that it is up to the society . But Indian society from time immemorial have been passive , unless struck by a shock , either from inside  or outside. So we have a society where the numerically strong OBCs hold disproportionate amount of power thanks tto the constitutional safeguards without sharing it with people above or below them in the caste hierarchy . Upper castes rarely show their dissent , may be feeling themselves secured in their apartment blocks or may be due to caste guilt ( Indian counterpart of white guilt ) . It is the Scs who suffer , pushed against the wall , they are slowly turning against the system , In kerala this is manifested by the rise  in RSS membership among the Dalits as the OBCs here are the Muslims and are seen as the oppressors .To avert another caste crisis , at present we don’t have a Buddha or Gandhi amongst us, As long as we aspire to move forward , caste will always be the stumbling block .To this my question is –  Why not abolish the caste system and re engineer our society on a more egalitarian terms ? , This may sound naive but i am speaking with a clear precedent in mind . Till 1951 no one dared to touch the sacred Hindu laws , but  Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr.B R Ambedkar turned the religion around with a set of sane laws in the form of Civil code we follow today . why can’t we start a revolution towards a similar end ? . If it ever happen this could be the first of its kind , where a society transforms itself by a mass effort with out a cult figure , yes , I know  it is far fetched edging on lunatic , but having no choice , it is high time that we reinvent ourselves.

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