19 June 2008


Statements against concepts of creamy layer and reservation to economically
backward classes (EBCs), and enunciation of principles of reservation

By Ashok Yadav

Published by Mandal Vichar Manch Shyampriya Sadan, Gulzarbagh, Madhepura : 852 113. Contact: 09431498699 / 94318 91780
After one and a half decade the spectre of Mandal is haunting once again the ruling elites of India. We are thankful to the upper caste dominated media for terming the present episode as Mandal II which has arisen out of the government of India’s decision to implement 27% reservation in private as well as central government run institutions of technical and specialized education following 93rd constitutional amendment. The backward caste might not have understood the real importance of the role of Mandal in liberating themselves from centuries old history of social discriminations but the fact of dwijas terming the current episode as Mandal II indicates that they have well understood the significance of Mandal.
When agitation against Mandal II was in full force the Communist Party of India (Marxist) put its view on the proposed OBC reservation in private and central government controlled educational institutions in a press release dated 17.05.2006 (Please see in Appendix I of this booklet) wherein it supported creamy layer concept and favoured reservation to EBCs. The CPI(M), having governments in three states and, in the present context supporting the UPA government from outside, holds importance in Indian politics. The CPI(M) is a front-runner in opinion making and has also led struggles on the issues of public interests. The CPI (M)’s support to OBC reservation is not unconditional and its support to creamy layer and advocacy of reservation to economically backward classes (EBCs) is a roadblock in the path of pan India social justice movement. The party has also called for ‘a public debate, so that the widest agreement is reached before it is taken up for implementation.’ The OBC have alarmingly taken these conditions put forward by the CPI(M). From the OBC viewpoint it is very important to critically examine the CPI(M)’s stand on OBC reservation.
However, while criticizing the CPI(M)’s stand on OBC reservation we must also acknowledge the fact that the CPI(M) for the sake of defeating communal forces gave unconditional and unflinching support to social justice government headed by Laloo Prasad Yadav in Bihar for fifteen long years until the time when the latter himself lost out to the NDA. The CPI(M)’s support to backward caste leaders like the north Indian Mulayam Singh Yadav and the south Indian M Karunanidhi is noteworthy. We also acknowledge that CPI(M) has led struggles against communalism and neo liberal economic policies, twin enemies of the OBC. The CPI(M) and the OBC leaders have been natural allies in the struggle for defence and advancement of democracy, secularism, federalism, economic sovereignty and other issues of vital concerns for the people of India. This commonality of approach is reflected best in the quest for formation of non-Congress non-BJP government in states as well as at the center.
Yet as we will see in the section titled ‘Is the OBC a non-entity for CPI(M)?’ the OBC seem to be keeping no place in the CPI(M)’s vision. The CPI(M) will have to think hard why this dichotomy persists vis- a -vis the OBC in its overall scheme of things. The CPI(M)’s support to the creamy layer concept has been widely supported by the upper caste elites. During the mandal I phase too the CPI(M) had strongly supported creamy layer criteria, which was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court of India. The CPI(M) takes pride that its invention of creamy layer concept was certified by the Supreme Court of India, as is evident from its leader Sitaram Yechury’s article in the Hindustan Times dated 29.06.2006 wherein he writes, “….Introduction of an economic criteria, which the CPI(M) alone had suggested in the Nineties, was mercifully upheld by the Supreme Court in its definition of the ‘creamy layer’.” In the very next sentence he writes that this will have to be integrated with the OBC reservation in higher education meaning there by that the CPI(M) is all prepared to repeat Mandal I in Mandal II. It is indeed ironic that a communist party finds solace in the judiciary that mercifully upheld creamy layer concept, the judiciary that is considered a part of the exploitative system in the communist parlance. The use of word mercifully suggests that some catastrophe could have happened had not the judiciary ordered in favour of creamy layer concept. It would truly be a lesson to know from the CPI(M) what this catastrophe might be. To be fair to the CPI(M) many social justice leaders like Laloo Yadav, Ramvilas Paswan and Mayawati have supported reservation to EBCs.Thus this criticism of the CPI(M)’s stand on OBC reservation is also statements against concepts of creamy layer and reservation to EBCs.
Mandal Vichar Manch is a forum, floated recently in the wake of Mandal II, of backward caste activists devoted to the cause of social justice. Mandal Vichar Manch has decided to bring out this booklet as a part of ideological struggle to safeguard the interest of backward castes.
Ashok Yadav, a social justice activist and regular contributor in Mandal Vichar magazine, has written this booklet for Mandal Vichar Manch. This antithesis of CPI(M)’s thesis on OBC reservation has produced enunciation of principles of reservation. We sincerely believe that this booklet will prove to be of some value in the ongoing debate on OBC reservation.


Shyamal Kishore Yadav
Retd. Reader, Department of Philosophy,
B N M V College, B N Mandal University, Madhepura
Convener, Mandal Vichar Manch &
Editor, Mandal Vichar monthly magazine
Shyampriya Sadan, Gulzarbagh,
Madhepura: 852 113.
Phone no. 06476 222120 / 94318 91780

(1) Is the OBC a non-entity for CPI(M)?

The shudra, who got a new name i.e. OBC in the last decade of twentieth century, though we do not agree with this name since in this new name caste has been substituted by class and other is also vague, seems to be a non-entity for CPI(M). Reading CPI(M)’s organ People’s Democracy’s special issue on the occasion of Republic Day, 2006 gives the impression that the OBC are nowhere in the CPI(M)’s vision.
This special issue of People’s Democracy has special
articles on specific problem of our polity, e.g. late Anil Biswas’s article on how to strengthen federalist structure, Utsa Patnaik’s article on agrarian crisis, Biman Basu’s article on tribal struggle, Teesta Setalvad’s article on communalism vs secularism, Prabhat Patnaik’s article on imperialism and economic decentralization , C P Chandrashekhar’s article on liberalization and economic sovereignty, Sudha Sundararaman’s article on woman issues, Sukhdeo Thorat’s article on SC/ST/minority issues, P Sainath’s article on media’s anti-people character and articles of general character of Prakash Karat, Harkishan Singh Surjit and Jyoti Basu. Sitaram Yechury being editor of the organ has written the editorial. This writer could not find even a cursory mention of the term OBC or backward castes in any of the articles of CPI(M) leaders and intellectuals let alone a special article on the problems of this biggest block of India’s demography.
Let us begin with editorial to examine where the OBC stand in the CPI(M)’s vision. Sitaram Yechury writes, “ Despite half a century of reservations, the plight of the dalit continues to be woeful…Alongwith the repressive trends concerning the lives of the minorities, dalits and tribals, come alarmingly increasing reports of gender crimes and discrimination.” There is no mention of the OBC. Prakash Karat writes, “ What is noteworthy is how the landlord/dominant caste forces seek to shut out the dalit and the poorest in the rural areas in many places from voting by violent means…The failure of the republic to ensure even a semblance of social equality is stark. Dalits remain an oppressed community in spite of palliative measures such as reservation sanctioned by the constitution. The 8.4 crore tribal people are subjected to ferocious exploitation by the feudal moneylender-contractor nexus.” The OBC again remain unmentioned. In Harkishan Singh Surjit’s article there is a section titled-Plight of SC/ST Groups - wherein he writes , “Even today, a sizeable chunk of our agricultural laborers belongs to the SC/ST categories, and land reforms could go a long way to give these sections both physical assets and social dignity.” Again there is no mention of the OBC. Jyoti Basu simply writes, “Caste oppression, and oppression on tribal people has been allowed to continue.” Utsa Patnaik in her
article on agrarian crisis has referred to atrocities against dalits. Again there is no reference of the OBC. This great economist on agrarian question has failed to appreciate the fact that the farmers committing suicides due to agrarian distress are mostly the OBC. Indian peasants are mostly the OBC and it is, therefore, strange that an economist of the stature of Utsa Patnaik fails to make any reference to the OBC. Biman Basu in his article has criticised the casteist or dalit leaders who have no consideration for land
reforms. Biman Basu criticizes dalit leaders but refers to OBC leaders as casteist ones. It seems as if utterance of OBC will foul his mouth. How does he differentiate dalit leaders from casteist leaders is also not clear? In her article on women exploitation Sudha Sundarraman has lost none of her sympathy on OBC women. Sukhdeo Thorat writes, “The evidence on the relative economic situation of scheduled caste, tribals and Muslims and the other sections (that is non SC/ST and non-Muslim depending on the group comparison) revealed significant disparities in deprivation in terms of poverty and its factors like access to capital assets, education, employment, wage earning, health status and political participation in 2000.” Thorat is very careful in not mentioning the OBC. He calls them ‘other sections’. The only writer from whose pen has flowed mention of OBC is Teesta Setalvad: “…these sections among our underprivileged are also, for the most, dalits, tribals, other backward castes, and also Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and neo-Buddhists.”
This is not the solitary example of silence on the OBC. The party is activated on the OBC only when reservation controversy comes to occupy the centrestage. The political resolution adopted in the 18th Congress of the CPI(M) held in 2005 has no space for the OBC. During the last fifteen years i.e. after mandal I the OBC has emerged as a major political force compelling the BJP like party to bring OBC leaders in the prominent positions in the party hierarchy. Yet the CPI(M) can afford to ignore the OBC. It goes to the CPI(M)’s credit that it can navigate in the turbulent sea of Indian politics without the OBC. In the party programme of the CPI(M) which is a guiding document of the party the OBC is conspicuous by its absence. In all documents of important nature of the party the OBC is seldom mentioned. The party comes to support the OBC reservation only when it finds itself forced to do so. Otherwise how come the party fails to mention in such an important document as party programme and political resolution adopted at a party congress anything about the OBC. How can a political party that too a communist party ignore the biggest block of Indian demography! Silence is worse than open enmity.
While exploitation of dalits is naked and easily watch able, the caste discrimination faced by the OBC is not so naked. Houses of the OBC are not burnt, their women are not raped freely, they are not disallowed entry in temples, glasses are not kept separately for them at tea stalls, yet they face caste discrimination in more subtle forms. Their progress in life is sought to be curbed through administrative measures, policy decisions etc. Statistics about the OBC representation in government offices, public sector undertakings, bureaucracy, media, judiciary, trade, commerce, private sector, the latest sector of knowledge based industries etc. will starkly reveal the open discrimination faced by the OBC. The OBC face discrimination in every matter at the hand of upper caste dominated bureaucracy, officialdom, media, judiciary etc. The upper caste through their well-organized network has grabbed the limited resources of this country and consciously frustrates the upward mobility of the backward caste and other oppressed people. Recently a study was conducted in Bihar by noted social activist Prabhat Kumar Shandilya about the caste identity of those who have been awarded capital punishment by the various lower courts and whose petitions are pending in the higher courts. The study shows that there is hundred percent reservation for dalits, adivasis, the OBC and minorities in the matter of capital punishment. Of the total 36 convicts waiting to be hanged 25 are the OBC. (This study may be seen in Special Dalit Issue of Hindi monthly Hans edited by Rajendra Yadav.) Does the top leadership of the CPI(M) know this cruel fact? It is as if the upper castes do not commit crime fit for capital punishment.
All India President of Janata Dal(United)Sharad Yadav in his article published in the Hindu dated July 7, 2006 has illustrated how the UPSC & the Department of Personnel & Training, Government of India openly discriminate against the OBC boys and girls in civil service examination held every year to select India’s future rulers. Sharad Yadav has shown that forty OBC candidates selected in general category in the last civil service examination have been pushed in the reserved thereby denying equal number of OBC candidates’ selection in civil services. This has ensured 50% reservation by back door method for general category or to use more precise words upper caste candidates.
The OBC have been getting reservation in central services for the last 12 years only. Moreover, after introduction of OBC reservation in central services the total number of seats in civil services has been drastically reduced. Recruitment in government sectors has been practically banned.
Recently a team of reputed journalists namely Anil Chamaria, Jitendra Kumar and Yogendra Yadav has found out on a survey of the social background of 315 key decision makers from 37 national media organizations (upto 10 key decision makers from each organisation) based in Delhi that only 4% are OBCs while SC/ST is zero.
We do have statistics of number of employees’ caste and grade wise working in Life Insurance Corporation of India. The management of LIC issued the following statistics in 2003 on pressure of welfare associations of SC/ST/OBC. However this statistics represent the number of OBC employees recruited in post-mandal I phase. There are endless stories of caste discrimination faced by the backward caste.
We demand caste census and census of India’s total work force so that everything is clear. The caste census is the last thing the casteist upper caste elites will ever allow to take place. Without caste census the census is farce and of no use to the OBC. The latest census does have figure about dalit and adivasi percentage in India’s population but there is no figure of backward castes. In the current agitation against Mandal II the same brahminical sections are crying hoarse how the OBC can be given reservation when the last census to know their percentage in population was carried out in 1931. How the then brahminical forces opposed the caste based census is a thing that all must know. The brahminical forces that assumed power in independent India did not allow caste based census. All these to suppress the caste question from coming on to surface. But every time the caste question emerges with vengeance. Caste is a word emitting abhorrent smell to the right and to the left. The right and the left are converged on the point of suppressing caste question-the right for the sake of realizing the elusive hindu and religion based unity, and the left for the vague class unity, as will be seen later in this booklet. The caste question for them is limited to the dalit only. Even Vir Savarkar supported Dr. Ambedkar’s fight against untouchability.
This is because the dalit question is the lowest common denominator of the whole caste question, its worst manifestation and totally in odd with humanism, and the CPI (M) is wary of
taking up the caste question in its entirety. Politics cannot advance an inch by confining politics to the lowest common denominator. For example,politics has stagnated in India due to all energy being devoted to somehow save secularism i.e. lowest common denominator of politics. Mutually antagonistic forces have come together to save secularism thus preventing sharpening of fundamental contradictions. The CPI (M)’s vision is so narrow that it does not go beyond the caste question concerning only fifteen percent of India’s total population. The vast masses of backward caste people whose labour sustain life and generates wealth but having little right on that wealth is nowhere in the “revolutionary” vision of CPI (M) leaders. The peasant, the small peasant, the share cropper, the weaver, the carpenter, the milkman, the fisherman, the boatman, the blacksmith, the barber, the goldsmith, the shepherd, the potter etc. are the backward caste people and form 60% of India’s population. The peasant is only an economic class for the CPI (M). The entire peasantries are mostly backward caste people whose caste identity can never be taken away. The thousands of farmers who have committed suicides are mostly backward caste people, aren’t they? Like farmers weavers have also committed suicides. National Crime Bureau Record says that during the period from 1998 to 2006 about one lac farmers committed suicides. Suicides of farmers are still continuing in the UPA regime. The government, whether central or state, has taken no effective measures to lessen the economic distress of the farmers. We do believe that this inaction or indifference shown by the state in solving the problems of farmers also lies in the brahminical system operating in India that is so much prejudiced against the lower caste people. For this system farmers are not only an
economic class but also a social group who have to be discriminated against at all costs. No problem if they are dying! Not only this the historical neglect of primary and secondary education in independent India is also due to this brahminical mindset which will resist every move for universalisation of basic education so that the shudra, atishudra and adivasis do not become educated to challenge their hegemony. What else may be the explanation of utter neglect of basic education in India?
It is the caste not class that is primary identity of a shudra for the very simple reason that while caste denotes both social and economic status and the history of our evolution as a discriminated against social group, the class denotes only economic status, ignoring our histrory, notwithstanding the emergence of an affluent middle class from among the backward castes, again for the reason that the number of this upper middle class is not too large to affect caste-class convergence to a large extent. The class struggle, the supposed class struggle, will never succeed in superimposing class over caste. It is the emergence of caste forces, not class forces divorced from social context and history that has brought nightmares to the established ruling elites. Without further polemics it is sufficient to underline that the OBC is a non-entity for the CPI(M) and its distorted stand on the OBC reservation results from this.

(2) A critique of CPI(M)’s Press Statement dated 17.05.2006 on Reservation In Educational Institutions
(a). The press statement shows how much the CPI(M) is ignorant of basic facts of social justice issues. It has committed a blunder in the very first sentence of the press statement which reads, “ The constitutional provision of reservation for socially and economically backward classes….” The constitutional provisions are for socially and educationally backward classes. Ignorance of such basic thing is indeed pathetic. Replacing
“educationally” with “economically” indicates how much the party suffers from economism. All words starting with ‘e’ are read as ‘economically’.
The party’s ignorance of some basic facts of social justice question can also be seen in its political resolution adopted in 18th Party Congress, 2005. In para 2.3 of the political resolution, reservation for dalit Christians has been supported. The party fails to mention that dalit Muslims too do not enjoy reservation. The party was obviously ignorant of the status of reservation in respect of dalit Muslims.
(b)There are three main points of the press release: (i) the party supports creamy layer concept regarding admission of the OBC in educational institutions, (ii) the party pleads for reservation to the poor section among forward castes, (iii) the party urges the central government to prepare a proposal which should be put for a public debate, so that the widest agreement is reached before it is taken up for implementation.

(3). Statement against creamy layer concept
(a) In para 3 of the press release the CPI (M) has enunciated its stand on creamy layer criteria which is based upon the premise that since, distinct from the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, there is differentiation among the other backward classes, reservation should benefit the poorer and needy sections among these communities by applying socio economic criteria, which excludes the affluent and those already having access to jobs and higher education. The party further says that this came to be known as exclusion of the “creamy layer” based on the Supreme Court judgment on the implementation of the Mandal Commission report.
The party’s premise is seriously flawed. In actuality there exists much greater class differentiation within the SC/ST than within the OBC. Dalit reservation is in vogue for the last sixty years. Due to extreme poverty and debilitating caste discrimination faced by them, only a miniscule section within the dalit have availed reservation generation after generation. Thanks to reservation, the number of dalit IAS, IPS & other elite all India service officers is much more than the OBC officers. Department of Personnel informed the Parliament in November, 2005 in reply to Republic Party of India M.P. Ramdass Athwale’s query the following statistics about the SC/ST/OBC officers:
IAS 547 312 222
IPS 311 158 142
IFS 302 197 85
The Shudra is on average economically better than the atishudra and adivasis. The difference of income between the highest and lowest points within the OBC, in every subclass, is less than what it is within the SC/ST. Due to reservation having been availed by dalits for more than half century there has definitely emerged a so -called creamy layer within the SC/ST. This so-called creamy layer in particularly SCs has organized themselves in BAMCEF like organizations and is the main strength of BSP, financially and otherwise. Kanshi Ram, who wrote a new chapter in dalit politics, could not have become successful in his endeavor without the support of the so-called creamy layer stock among the dalit. Even today BSP is run mainly on donations from the so-called creamy layer dalits. Though some sections of dalit officers have become affluent there is no end of discrimination faced by them. If this so called creamy layer among the SC/ST is excluded from reservation there will be no filling up of the vacancies earmarked for them, and also the support the common dalit masses receive from their more fortunate brothers will dwindle. In fact, the so-called creamy layer OBCs cornering all the benefits of reservation is less likely to happen than in the case of SCs/STs. The great mass of the OBC population and their average economic condition being better than the dalit the so called creamy layer OBCs will find it difficult to corner all the benefits of reservation.
As explained above differentiation within dalits is no less distinct than it is found within the OBC. In its overflowing sympathy for the dalit the party has ignored the concrete facts. In fact the dalit need no sympathy. It was not Gandhi or anyone else but a dalit Dr. Ambedkar who fought for the cause of dalits. The dalits are writing their destiny without any outside support. The party seems to be unaware that there is already raising a debate of dalits and mahadalits within the dalit. The party’s stand that reservation should benefit the poorer and needy sections among the OBC is no less applicable for the SC/ST than in the case of the OBC. All these facts pointing to the existence of a definite so -called creamy layer among the dalit cannot serve an alibi to clamp down creamy layer criteria in SC/ST reservation for the very obvious reason, inter alia, that excluding the so- called creamy layer will lead to no representation of dalits/adivasis in government posts.
The party has erected its endorsement of creamy layer criteria in the OBC reservation on the ground that as compared to SC/ST there is differentiation among the OBC. Since the existence of the so called creamy layer is no less distinct in the SC/ST and class differentiation within the dalit being more acute than within the OBC, as explained above, the endorsement turns illogic and untenable. The party loses its chief logic in support of creamy layer concept.
(b) In para 1 of the press release the CPI(M) has viewed such reservation as a limited step to provide opportunities for the dalit, adivasis and other backward classes to acquire education and jobs and has stressed that there can be no emancipation without basic land reforms and changes in the socio-economic system which breeds exploitation and inequality.
We the OBC too believe that “there can be no emancipation without basic land reforms and changes in the socio-economic system which breeds exploitation and inequality.” We don’t live in a naïves’ paradise that reservation is panacea of all ills plaguing the OBC. We don’t see reservation as poverty alleviation programme. In fact B P Mandal, a land rich person and Chairman of Mandal Commission, whose report has become Magna Carta of the shudra, did not forget to include land reforms as one of many recommendations of Mandal Commission. So what the party stresses upon is already acknowledged by us. We see reservation as a lubricant which smoothens our mobility, as a law which proclaims the rights and equality of the shudra in a brahminical capitalist feudal setup, as an instrument which facilitates our struggle for achieving genuine democracy, as a measure which weakens the monopoly of a few caste groups on the organs of state and positions of importance, thereby making it easy for the society to progress, a non-alcoholic beverage seeking to quench our thirst for revenge of centuries of humiliations, insults, injustices and deprivations. We do not see reservation as a substitute of revolutionary course of action to change the society but we definitely see reservation as a mean that helps in paving the way for the same. We also see reservation as an instrument of struggle against brahminical superstructure of the capitalist production relation and economic system. Reservation powerfully disturbs the status quo and is, therefore, violently opposed.
It is true that the question of land reforms is largely absent from the agenda of the social justice forces. The forces of social justice have so far neglected land reforms and other crucial economic questions just as the forces of economic justice have so far neglected caste and other important social questions. In fact the Indian politics has been a victim of division of labour-social questions to be addressed by the social justice and economic questions to be addressed by economic justice forces. The progress of Indian politics is about its struggle against this division of labour just as mankind’s progress is about its struggle against division between manual and mental labour.
(c) The reservation question is not mere a social question. It is also a state question because the provision of reservation prepares the ground for participation of all castes and communities in the state organs. The more open, the more inclusive, the more participatory the structure of state even in the existing system, the more conducive and less forbidding it will be for the growth of democratic movements and processes. The participation of men and women from socially deprived communities irrespective of their class status, who are free from caste prejudices against the low caste people, in the higher rung of state apparatus, will tend to democratize the state. It is not without reason that both monopoly capital and monopoly social groups have joined together in resisting any move to give reservation to the OBC.
(d) Reservation is an outcome of the caste system, the fact acknowledged by the party in the first para of the press statement. So long as caste system continues, the fight for reservation will also continue. Abolish the caste system and abolish the reservation system. In the caste system the caste of Ram Vilas Paswan or Laloo Pd Yadav or M Karunanidhi does not change howsoever one progresses economically, politically, educationally etc. A dalit will be a dalit even if he becomes a big capitalist though it is next to impossible to happen. A Brahmin will always be a Brahmin even if he is a proletariat. If the Brahmin community sits together and takes a decision that since Laloo Prasad Yadav has become affluent, he is no longer grazing cattle and milking cows, he has shed all the “obnoxious things” associated with his caste, he may now be absorbed in Brahmin caste fold, then only children of Laloo Prasad Yadav or for that matter of Ram Vilash Paswan can be kept out from reservation on the plea of creamy layer.
(e) If reservation was just about giving some jobs and seats to the OBC there would have been not much outcry against the same. The extreme reaction of the upper caste against reservation is due to the fact that reservation will dilute their monopoly and privileges that they have enjoyed for centuries. Mandal I brought great changes in politics. The entire backward caste people whether proletariat or semi proletariat or small peasants or middle peasants or lower middle class or urban middle class rose in unison in support of job reservation in 1990. If job reservation was about giving some jobs to the backward caste people, only a miniscule section of backward caste population, living in towns and cities, would benefit and the vast majority of backward caste people would not have come onto the street in support of job reservation. In job reservation the millions of backward caste people saw an occasion of break of the entrenched upper caste vested interests. Job reservation gave an expression to their ages old hatred and fight against this entrenched upper caste vested interests that have always thrown insults to them.
(f) In the same article of Sharad Yadav as already mentioned he describes creamy layer concept as all right in principle. But he hastens to add, “But the design of those opposed to OBC reservation is to keep the creamy layer out of the reservation ambit and deny the benefits of reservation to less privileged individuals.” Here Sharad Yadav has indicated the real motive behind the creamy layer concept but he has also created a dichotomy between practice and principle.
(g)Just as an economically emergent China is hated more by the imperialism, an economically emergent OBC individual is despised more by the upper caste vested interests. A weak, subdued, rural based OBC is not a threat to the upper caste vested interests. Only an educated and economically well off OBC can challenge the traditional vested interests. So the upper caste people often cry why should children of the likes of Ram Vilas Paswan or Laloo Pd Yadav enjoy reservation.
(h) Reports say that in IITs and IIMs only 10% of the reserved seats for the SC and ST are filled up. If the so-called creamy layer among the SC and ST are excluded from reservation all the seats will remain vacant. The same thing also applies in the case of the OBC. The Hindustan Times dated 18.05.2006 has published news report wherein a result of the study conducted by National Institute of Education Planning & Administration has been quoted. According to this study the enrolment figure of the OBC students in school is just 29 per cent. In this news report an official of HRD Ministry is quoted as saying that, “as most of the OBC are from economically weaker sections, the drop out rate is likely to be similar to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. In the same news report an educationist is quoted as saying, “If we consider the drop out rate in the country, one can presume that the enrolment will not be more than 15 per cent.” Thus by excluding the so called creamy layer from reservation purview the same story of non-fulfillment of reserved seats will be repeated in the case of the OBC also.
(i) The creamy layer concept is nothing but a ploy to protect upper caste hegemony in job and education. It is not without reason that the BJP and the Congress like forces support the creamy layer concept. At the time of going to press to print this document newspapers have reported former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and senior congress party leader Digvijay Singh saying that creamy layer concept should be extended in SC/ST reservation also. During mandal I the upper caste first opposed the reservation with all their might. But when they saw that job reservation cannot be halted they settled for the introduction of creamy layer concept. As already mentioned it is a common refrain of upper caste people in Bihar in support of creamy layer concept as to why should children of Ram Vilas Paswan or Laloo Prasad Yadav enjoy reservation.
The CPI (M) had supported creamy layer concept in 1990 and is doing the same in 2006. Prakash Karat, the present general secretary of the party, put forward the party’s policy statement in September 9, 1990 issue of People’s Democracy when debate, dispute and conflict on V P Singh government’s decision to implement 27% reservation to the OBC in central government jobs, was in full force. The press release, the subject of this critique, is a derivative of this policy statement. Prakash Karat wrote, “In order to see that the landless as compared to the richer landed, the poor as compared to the affluent, the more backward as distinct from the strata of the developed — i.e. the majority of the poor and deprived of these communities — benefit from reservation, the CPI(M) wants an economic criterion. This criterion need not necessarily be just an income ceiling, but can be a package in which income tax assessments, extent of landholding, professional status of parents, etc., can be taken into consideration.” (Prakash Karat’s article can be seen on http://cpim.org)
Prakash Karat has not gone deep into the problem while advocating economic criterion. Reservation is not about reducing poverty, or giving jobs or spreading education in the socially deprived communities. Reservation is all about weakening the monopoly of certain caste groups in bureaucracy, education, academy, judiciary, commerce etc., which are the breeding grounds of prestige, power, privileges and affluences, thereby preparing the ground for social emancipation of shudras, atishudras and adivasis. The party believes in fighting monopoly capital but falls short of fighting social monopoly of certain caste groups. The party believes in fighting western imperialism but has no history of fighting the social imperialism right at home. The party supported the anti-apartheid movements of South African blacks and South African Communist Party but has yet to write history of actively fighting against caste discrimination and oppression faced by the shudra and the atishudra. Without breaking social monopoly the people of India can never move an inch further in its fight against monopoly capital because it is this entrenched social monopoly groups who protect the monopoly capital. Great martyr Bhagat Singh wrote in his article-The Untouchability Problem-‘First bring social revolution and then be ready for political and economic revolution.’
On the one hand the CPI (M) views such reservation as ‘a limited step to provide opportunities for the dalit, adivasis and other backward classes to acquire education and jobs.’ On the other, the party also says that ‘reservation should benefit the poorer and needy sections among these communities’. The party seeks to achieve by reservation i.e. to reach benefits to the poorer and needy sections among the OBC, which is possible only by a radical economic changes.
Son of a landless or a poor or a more backward OBC may become a clerk or secondary or primary school teacher or a diploma holder or something like this. It is very very difficult for him to get through IITs, IIMs, AIIMS etc and jobs meant for pass outs from these institutions of excellence. The extreme commercialization of education in post mandal I phase has ensured that only sons and daughters of affluent parents can get that kind of education and coaching to make them successful in entrance examinations of these institutions. From OBC point of view it is of imperative urgency to have OBC people studying at the centers of excellence. Debarring affluent OBCs from reservation in educational institutions could have carried some transitory meaning had not this commercialization of education taken place.
(j) Most of the times the economic criteria or creamy layer concept has come to occupy space in the overall reservation scheme as a compromise formula between the two contending parties i.e. the forward and the backward. While justifying creamy layer and economic criteria in OBC reservation scheme Prakash Karat has written: “The difficulty is that wherever OBC reservations already exist, the introduction of an economic criterion meets with strong resistance. Only when a broad consensus is reached can it be implemented. In Kerala, it has not been implemented so far as there is no such agreement. In the case of Bihar, when OBC reservations were being introduced for the first time in 1978, it was possible, after a destructive anti-reservation movement, to arrive at a formula which has been working since then. The 26 per cent reservation consists of 12 per cent of the most backward category listed in Annexure 1; eight per cent for other backward classes listed in Annexure II with an income ceiling of Rs 12,000 per annum; three per cent for women and three per cent for the poor of the forward castes. The National Front Government at the Centre should consider the Bihar Experience which brought about some stability in the tense caste situation. In this connection, the proposal of the Prime Minister for additional reservation of five to ten per cent for those economically backward can be accepted provided that this is allotted to those who do not fall within the reserved categories. This may help in alleviating the fears of those economically deprived amongst the forward castes.”(ibid)
In 1990 the CPI (M) had advised the government of India to consider the Bihar experience which brought about some stability in the tense caste situation. What does CPI (M) mean by some stability in the tense caste situation? The caste situation in Bihar is more tense today than ever. Though the government of India did not accede CPI (M)’s proposal, the proposal certainly made an atmosphere in favour of economic criteria. The creamy layer concept was ultimately implemented on directive of the Supreme Court. CPI(M) also favoured five to ten percent reservation for those economically backward not falling within the reserved categories for alleviating the fears of those economically deprived amongst the forward castes.
What is so frightening in 27% reservation to the OBC that CPI (M) talks to alleviate the fears of those economically deprived amongst the forward castes! Moreover it is not the upper caste poor but the upper caste rich that really have fears from SC/ST/OBC reservation. The upper caste poor who are already down need fear no further fall due to OBC reservation. The urban upper caste rich use their poor rural brothers as fodder cannons in the caste war against dalits and backwards. Ranvir sena is an example of this. Agrarian distress resulting from globalization has bounded rural population irrespective of castes in a single interest group. In fact dalit and OBC leaders have tried to foster unity between the backward caste and the rural upper caste poor. It is the urban upper caste rich who have been instigating the rural upper caste poor against the lower caste people in their own caste/class interests. The question is born why does after violent protest against reservation a compromise is reached on acceptance of creamy layer concept and reservation to economically backward among the forward castes. Why is the twin concept so much desired by the upper castes? If reservation is needed by the upper caste why don’t they struggle for reservation like dalits, adivasis and backwards? The fact is the upper caste cannot fight for reservation just as the European settlers in the USA cannot fight for positive discrimination, but when any announcement of reservation is made the upper caste make violent protests and lastly settle for creamy layer and reservation to economically backward classes with crucial help from the practitioners of economism in the left politics.
(k) In justification of creamy layer Prakash Karat writes: “In the case of the OBC, it is well known that there are a few castes in different States which contain influential strata who own land and other means of production. They are well represented in the political power structure also.(ibid) Does the CPI(M) have any data to show the comparative number of absentee landlords in the backward and forward caste peasants? While most of the rich landlords from the upper castes migrated, without foregoing title on their land, to the towns, cities and urban centers and settled there enjoying all the facilities, taking advantages of the power and privileges of their caste men, the backward caste land rich fellows, in far less number in comparison to the upper caste land rich fellows, remained behind in the countryside in the brutal and murderous battlegrounds of Indian agriculture. The upper caste peasants are in a position to face the agrarian crisis since their sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and relatives living in urban centers give them some monetary help in the times of crisis. The backward caste peasants do not enjoy such luxury.
Creamy layer concept is again justified on the ground that some backward castes are well represented in the political power structure also. Their increasing number in the legislature is not attributable to their education and resourcefulness, which they seldom possess, but to their rising social and political consciousness and big population and the opportunities thrown by the parliamentary democracy, which is their savior. The backward castes who are well represented in the political power structure are entangled in a vicious war of attrition with the upper caste dominated media, civil administration and judiciary. Under- representation of the lower castes in bureaucracy frustrates all attempts of an OBC chief minister or minister to do anything concrete for the lower caste. The little federalism that the Constitution of India offers does not give much space to the backward caste leaders who every now and then come in power in provinces. A study of family backgrounds of backward caste MLAs, MPs, leaders and activists will reveal truth about class locations of these leaders. Some of these leaders may have made wealth but their wealth is regularly dragged in the judicial and media scrutiny. Without money they cannot sustain themselves in politics and when they make money they invite the wrath of brahmanical system. Manusmriti works here which has enjoined that wealth in the hands of shudras pains dwijas. The educational backwardness of most of these wealthy OBC leaders make them appear boorish and laughing stock. The glamour of power associated with these OBC leaders cannot lead one to conclude that the shudra have prospered. Behind every OBC leader there is a vast multitude of poverty stricken people. These OBC leaders have largely failed in improving the lot of their people. But this is no place to discuss their successes and failures.
(l) In 1947 when India became independent the power did not go in the hands of the poor Indians. Yet it was welcomed by all sections of society because it meant freedom from imperialism. We the OBC do not mind if the benefits of reservation go to the affluent sections among ourselves. We want our representation in the higher echelons of the system whether they come from the affluent or the poor sections. We will rejoice and be satisfied to see the erosion of upper caste vested interests in the higher positions. What are called the creamy layer or the affluent sections are just ahead from the rest of the community. They are not bourgeoisie so that we should avoid them.
(m) The so-called creamy layer is the strength of our society. In a caste society we turn to them for help in a state of crisis. If they are excluded from reservation their bonds with the fellow beings of the community get weakened. The implementation of creamy layer concept lands the so-called creamy layer in a no man’s land. The upper caste do not absorb them in their fold, their own caste men see them as separated from themselves.
Reservation is a great uniting factor. The 15% SCs and 8% STs are united because of reservation. Mandal united 60% OBC population. Reservation is glue which binds the so-called creamy layer with rest of the society. When a so-called creamy layer boy or girl obtains caste certificate and furnishes it with his/her application form, the caste consciousness gets reinforced in him or her. It is this caste consciousness that is very valuable from SC/ST/OBC point of view. The creamy layer concept is malicious treatment with those who managed to reach positions of some prestige and importance through labour and toil and opportunities that came their way. The creamy layer concept is an unkind treatment with those who could not move ahead but looks upon to the advantaged individuals of their society for guidance and help, because creamy layer concept seeks to disconnect the so called creamy layer individuals from the poor people of their caste. In dalits the creamy layer people are great strengths of society. Their affinity with their caste fellows will be considerably eroded if they are kept out from reservation on the plea of their being in creamy layer. That is not to deny the fact that a good section of these affluent SC/ST/OBC people have undergone the process of brahmanisation and grown vested interests in the social justice movement. But these brahmanised elements are at the worst irritants and undesirable elements in the whole struggle for social justice and cannot become an excuse to support creamy layer theory.
(n) When the CPI(M) or any other party talks of struggle against injustices, exploitation, poverty, backwardness etc. they actually talk of injustices, exploitation, poverty and backwardness of lower castes including the OBC. Capitalism, imperialism and feudalism, the three key words by the help of which every socio-economic phenomenon is explained by any communist party, alone are not responsible for the miseries in the lives of these unfortunate people. The extreme nature of backwardness and poverty and the extreme lack of basic amenities that are so much visible everywhere except upper caste urban middle class colonies are also due to the civil administration’s prejudices against and hatred for the dalit, the adivasis and the OBC. The civil administration having members of lower castes irrespective of their economic status at places of importance will be at least free from prejudices against and hatred for the lower castes and, therefore, will be more functional from lower caste point of view.
(o) Chapter One of the History of the CPSU (B) writes at one place (para 9), “Nearly all, if not all, government posts in the national regions were held by the Russians.” Did not the analogous situation prevail in India at the turn of the last century? Does not the analogous situation prevail in India right now? Did not the king of Kolhapur riyasat, Shahuji Maharaj, democratize the state administration by the help of caste-based reservation? Some may raise the objection that the Russian question being nationality question cannot be equated with the caste question. To this objection our answer is that like nationality question the caste question is a group question. In every society there exist a number of group questions side by side with the exclusive class questions. No social revolution has ever fructified in history on the basis of class questions alone. To uproot caste based hegemony is in the interests of all OBCs whether one is rich or poor. No breach in the unity of the deprived castes is desirable on the economic lines. Hence we oppose creamy layer. Martin Luther King, jr., the great Negro leader, wrote, “We have been oppressed as a group and we must overcome that oppression as a group.” We too assert we have been oppressed and discriminated against as a group and we must overcome that oppression and discrimination as a group.
(p) The CPI(M) leaders constantly refer to reservation as ‘palliative measure’. Why is reservation so violently opposed if it is only a “palliative measure”? If a palliative measure can cause such extreme reaction as closing of hospitals, as has anti-reservationists done against Mandal II, then the so-called palliative measures must be much more than just a palliative measure. Caste based reservation has played a great role in democratizing Indian society. The CPI(M) cannot afford to call reservation as “palliative measure.”
(4) Statement against reservation to EBCs
(a) Para 4 of the press release reads as ‘ while expanding the seats in educational institution, students coming from weak and poorer background and who do not come in the reservation categories should also be provided for through a separate allocation of seats.’
The poor upper caste can be provided reservation only on economic criteria. Is it possible? The party should know it is insisting upon something that has already been tried earlier by Narasimha Rao government and failed miserably. In fact, reservation on economic criterion is one thing that the ruling elites have consistently pursued. Does the party desire to identify itself with the upper caste ruling elite by endorsing reservation on economic criterion?
To extinguish the fire of Mandal, Narasimha Rao government passed an government order for giving ten percent reservation to economically backward sections of society, in other words to the upper caste. Such was the compassion of Narasimha Rao government for the poor people! We need not mention that Narasimha Rao government has become infamous in history on two counts: (i) for starting an era of neo liberal anti-people economic agenda which has wrought havoc on the poor of the country, and (ii) for having taken no action to prevent demolition of Babri Mosque. The party will do well to establish a link between the constitution of National Economically Backward Classes Commission by Narasimha Rao government and its two misdeeds. The 26th November 1992 judgment of the nine judges’ constitution bench of the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the constitution of National Economically Backward Classes Commission. However, the same judgment also favoured a creamy layer criterion that has gone against overall interest of the OBC.
Justice P B Sawant who was among nine judges who delivered the historic judgment on 26th November 1992 upholding validity of the government’s decision to implement mandal’s recommendations very succinctly wrote,
“The backward class of citizens referred to in Article 16(4) is the socially backward of citizens whose educational and economic backwardness is on account of their social backwardness. A caste itself may constitute a class. However in order to constitute a backward class the caste concerned must be socially backward and its educational and economic backwardness must be on account of its social backwardness…The economic criterion by itself cannot identify a class as backward unless the economic backwardness of the class is on account of its social backwardness…The adequacy of representation is not be determined merely on the basis of the overall numerical strength of the backward classes in the services. For determining the adequacy their representation at different levels of administration and different grades has to be taken into consideration. It is the effective voice in the administration and not the total number which determines the adequacy of representation.”
Of the nine judges three judges gave dissenting judgment. But even they could not declare that economic criterion for reservation was valid. They clearly stated in para 324 B, “Reservation of seats or posts solely on the basis of economic backwardness i.e. without regard to evidence of historical discrimination as aforesaid finds no justification in the constitution.”
It is the settled principle that granting reservation on economic basis is illegal, incurable and unconstitutional. But the ruling elites are relentless in their attempts to implement reservation on economic criteria. The fiasco of ten percent reservation to the upper caste poor on economic basis by the Telugu brahmin did not deter the cow belt brahmin in setting up in February, 2004 Commission for Economically Backward Classes (CEBC). The present UPA government at the center is pleased to keep the CEBC in continuance. The UPA set up another such commission i.e. National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM), headed by Justice Sri Rangnath Mishra, whose terms of reference include to suggest criteria for identification of socially and economically backward sections among religious and linguistic minorities. Thus there are running today two such commissions for exploring ways and means of providing reservation on economic basis:(i) NCRLM & (ii) CEBC.
So the question naturally arises as to why the ruling classes elites are hell bent upon implementing reservation on economic criteria? Mandal upset the secure and comfortable position of the traditional elites. Before Mandal only SCs/STs had been getting reservation in central government jobs. Mandal not only brought 60% of the population in reservation category but also mobilized them, and that made huge difference in balance of political power. That is one of many explanations why NCRLM like body is set up every now and then. Their anxiety and restlessness to transform mandal principle of caste-based reservation to ruling class principle of economic criterion based reservation is quite understandable.
The backward caste Muslim and dalit Muslim have strongly opposed the constitution of NCRLM and its terms of reference. Ali Anwar, President, All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaj has submitted to Sri Rangnath Mishra, Chairman, NCRLM, in para 2(3) of his memorandum:
“Economically Backward classes/sections” or “Socially and Economically Backward Classes/Sections” of Religious and Linguistic Minorities and “Economically Backward Classes” are spurious constructs and irrational classifications, which cannot be accommodated within the four walls of the constitution by any amendments. Any such amendments are not likely to secure the special majority required by Article 368 of the Constitution and, even if they pass muster in the Legislature, will be challenged before the Supreme Court and liable and likely to be struck down by the Supreme Court on the ground of violation of a basic feature of the Constitution. You as top legal luminary of the country and former Chief Justice of India is very well aware of the constitutional doom fated for and faced ab initio by the exercise undertaken by the Government and it would be wise and constitutionally appropriate that the Chairman calls it off before any wasteful public expense is incurred and advises the government to immediately wind up this commission (as well as the CEBC)”.
The greatest stumbling blocks in the path of those advocating reservation on economic criteria are Articles 340, 15(4) & 16(4) of constitution of India. How to remove these stumbling blocks is the spirit of point ‘3’ of terms of reference of NCRLM. Under this point of reference the commission has to suggest the necessary constitutional, legal and administrative modalities as required for the implementation of their recommendations. Pasmanda Mahaj in Paras 2(1)& 2(2) has rightly represented to NCRLM:
“Item (c)of the terms of reference of NCRLM(as also the similar item in the terms of reference of CEBC)is to suggest “necessary Constitutional Modalities” or in other words amendments to the Constitution required to permit classification and recognition and identification of the spurious unconstitutional constructs put forward by the Government, for extraneous reasons………It is well established that the Legislature does not have unlimited license to amend the constitution in whichever manner the ruling party of the day wishes. The Supreme Court has rightly laid down the concept of the basic features of the Constitution in the Golaknath case, the Keshavananda Bharati case and other cases. No amendment of the Constitution is permissible which tampers with any of the basic features of the Constitution. The two pillars of Equality ………viz person-to-person or individual-to-individual or citizen-to–citizen equality in all spheres and its exception/reinforcement through special provisions only for SC and ST and SBCs including SBCs of Muslims and of any other Religious Minority or any Linguistic Minority constitute a basic feature of the Constitution, which is sacrosanct and unalterable.”
(b) As already stated reservation is an outcome of caste system and its main aim is to weaken the hold of upper caste on the positions of power and privileges. Reservation to upper caste on economic ground will go against the basic tenet of reservation. The constitution of India rightly does not allow reservation on economic basis. So, for allowing reservation to the upper caste men and women on economic basis, the constitution will have to be amended which will, in turn, affect reservation to SCs/STs/OBCs. All that the upper caste desires is reservation on economic ground so as to finish for once and all caste based reservation to the SC/ST/OBC.
(c) The cause of economic backwardness of a labouring caste group lies in capitalist production relation, feudal land relation and upper caste hegemony in administration. But poverty of non-labouring upper caste group most often lies in their attitude to physical labour. Getting white-collar jobs is their natural tendency. But far from acknowledging this bitter truth he will accuse capitalist production & feudal land relations, and sound revolutionary. Except Brahmanism no other philosophy in the world, howsoever reactionary that philosophy may be, despises labour. In one single sentence Brahmanism may be defined as: Brahmanism is the philosophy that despises manual labour and labourers. So awarding reservation to poor upper caste people is equivalent to awarding lethargies and hateful attitudes against labour.
There are any number of government-sponsored programmes to alleviate poverty and economic backwardness. These government-sponsored programmes will take care of their poverty and economic backwardness. Just as creamy layer concept cannot be invoked to ameliorate the economic backwardness of the OBC, so reservation on economic criteria cannot be used to alleviate poverty among the upper caste poor.
A Brahmin’s or for that matter any upper caste fellow’s caste prejudices and false sense of superiority do not die by dint of his being placed at the lower economic rung. The reserved upper caste candidate, though poor, will carry his or her prejudices, will join more fortunate brothers of his or her caste, will gang up against SCs/STs/OBCs and defeat the very purpose of reservation.
(d) The CPI (M) will alienate SCs/STs/OBCs, the main social base of any progressive party, from itself if it persists with the demand of reservation on economic ground. As a party, which has struggled against globalization and communalism, the twin enemies of the OBC, it will do very badly to not abandon supporting reservation on economic criteria.
(e) Creamy layer and economic criteria based reservation are two sides of the same coin. Both dilute the caste content of reservation. While the former does it indirectly the latter does the same job directly. Caste alone can be the criteria of reservation in a caste-based society. Yes, upper caste too can be granted reservation without invoking creamy layer criteria. To do this first of all will have to be brought constitutional amendment to nullify the Supreme Court’s order imposing upper limit of reservation percentage to 50%. Thereafter all the posts should be reserved as per the percentage of the different social groups in population. In 100 crores population of India the OBC are 60%, SCs 17%, STs 8% and upper castes 15%. In upper castes brahmins are 4% and the rest 11%. This is the only way the upper caste can be brought in the reservation ambit. There is no other way. Invocation of economic criteria in any form, whether in the form of creamy layer or in the form of granting reservation to upper caste poor men and women, is unacceptable to the social justice groups.
(f) Prakash Karat further writes, “The CPI(M) recognizes that a big section of the working people come from castes and communities who, though not belonging to the SCs or the OBC, are economically exploited and suffer from social deprivation. They constitute an important and advanced section of the democratic movement. The modern working class and the organised movement of the working people can advance only the basis of the unity of both sections of the working people — the advanced sections of the urban working people and rural mass who suffer from both caste and economic oppression…Those who advocate reservations without any restrain and recklessly compete to hike up quotas for the backward classes and scheduled castes are not mindful of the vital need for unity.”(ibid)
The above quote indicates that the CPI (M)’s stand on OBC reservation originates from its concern to maintain class unity of the working people and views OBC reservation potentially divisive of the class unity. In fact the OBC has seldom acted recklessly and without restrain on reservation issue, and has always honoured constitution and law of the land. Instead of making ways through maze of social contradictions, the CPI (M) desires all social contradictions, which are rooted in history, to evaporate, to make its task of fostering class unity very easy. Why should the advanced sections of the urban working people have resentment against reservation to the deprived communities? If they do have any such resentment they cannot at all be called advanced sections of the urban working people. In the above quote it is indirectly conveyed that advanced sections of the urban working people are mostly the upper caste people, which is not far off the reality. Since these advanced sections are the supposed vehicles of revolution they have to be kept in good humour by advocating creamy layer and reservation to economically backward classes.
The people of India have no expectations from organized trade unions that are manned by the so-called ‘advanced sections of the urban working people’. Their current agitations and periodic token strikes against neo-liberal economic policies have not borne out of any pro-people consciousness but from perceived threat to their jobs, perks and facilities. These advanced sections of the urban working people have seldom struck work on any issue of public interests. All political strikes of the working class of India took place before independence. They fight for the increase of DA, not for the reduction in inflation. When this document is being drafted the people of India are protesting against strong doses of price rise in petroleum products and essential commodities but these so called advance sections of urban working people are assured that increase in DA will compensate price rise if not to whole context then at least to some extent. When they fight for control of price rise they will link themselves to the people of India.
The working people located in great urban centers like Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai have shown some worth. But even they have not thrown away the burden of traditions of caste-based society. The low level of social consciousness of the workers of the organized sector does not testify that trade union movement in India is more than hundred years old. Dr Ambedkar as a labour leader had to contend with the low social consciousness of the advanced sections of urban working people. The situation has not improved much from the days of Dr Ambedkar. If any change has occurred it is not due to efforts on the subjective level but the force of circumstances has brought some positive changes.
The organized trade unions in India have no dearth of dedicated, talented and honest activists and leaders who have devoted their entire life to working class movements and whose struggles for workers’ rights have become legends. But their all efforts to bring social changes through these advanced sections of urban working class have not yielded any result. The caste consciousness of the advanced sections of urban working class is the greatest stumbling block in their journey from class-in-itself to class-for-itself. Social Tory and political radical elements abound in trade union movements. These social Tories and political radicals make all efforts to prevent backwards and dalits from coming into leadership. Caste is not allowed to be discussed among the members as it is a sensitive issue which will affect the workers’ unity so urgently required for proletariat revolution. There are many persons in trade unions about whom it is claimed that they have declassed themselves by pointing out to their austere living but seldom one will find a person who will proclaim that he has decaste himself. The so-called advanced sections of urban working people have firm roots in villages that determine their caste prejudices. How many instances are there in the trade union where inter caste and dowryless marriages have been actively supported by trade union leaders and activists? There is nothing to show that these advance sections of urban working class can lead this society to a new horizon. Caste based survey of trade union leaders is need of the hour.
Notwithstanding their bold demeanors against IMF/World Bank/WTO/neo-liberal economic policies etc., they are worthless not only for the people of India but for themselves also. They are as shamelessly divided as the society itself from where they come. It can not at all be said that they have made any efforts on the subjective level to raise their consciousness and provide an example to the society. A trade union body will cease to exist if it takes decision that only such member will be its member who are honest and does not indulge in corrupt practices. The system has made them corrupt and they have no programme to fight the system which demoralizes and dehumanizes them. It is said the subscriptions of members to their trade union bodies in India is the lowest in the world. Trade union leaders are routinely dismissed from services. After a few days of some help from the sympathizing workers all such help dies down leaving the dismissed leaders nowhere. When BALCO workers struck work for sixty plus days against privatization none of other sections of the so-called advanced sections of urban working people came to their help. The common people of Chattisgarh supported the struggle of BALCO workers. The so-called advanced sections of urban working people have reduced the slogan -Workers of the World Unite- to a vedic mantra. Scientific socialism’s theory that working class will lead struggle against capitalism does not apply to the so-called advanced sections of the urban working people. The advanced sections of the working people have not carried out any of their obligations. They have not shown concern for unorganized sector of India’s working class most of whom come from the SC/ST/OBC. Neither have they shown any antipathy against social evils and superstitions, which they freely practise. Their only achievement is that they have regularly forced the government to cough up some money to lessen their economic distress and by their periodic protests have helped in making public opinion against government’s economic policies. Their success rate against private management is abysmal. So much for these so-called advanced sections of the urban working people.
If CPI (M) is today in a position to support the existence of the central government it is not due to the so called advanced sections of the urban people but due to the dalit, adivasis, minorities and backward castes that are the main support base of the party. In fact these sections are the main support base of any political party. It is no use wasting one’s sensibilities on the so-called advanced sections of urban working people. The CPI (M) has nothing to gain by playing to the upper caste gallery in the name of maintaining class unity. Only their unconditional and wholehearted support to the OBC reservation can help them win support of the biggest block of India’s population. If the CPI (M) desires to improve the lots of poor OBCs and the poor upper caste they should devise ways and means and tactics and strategy to bring in peoples democratic revolution instead of prescribing creamy layer concept and reservation to economically backward classes that only assuages the hurt feelings of the urban upper caste.
(g) Social justice leaders like Laloo Prasad Yadav, Ramvilash Paswan and Mayawati have been advocating reservation to the poor upper caste. The origin of these leaders’ advocacy of reservation on economic criterion lies in their failure to strike a solid consolidation of dalits and backwards. The loss due to fragmentation in bahujans’ vote is sought to be compensated by upper caste votes. This is not to negate the necessity of unity of the poor upper caste and the bahujan people. But the base upon which the edifice of this unity will be erected will not be reservation on economic criterion but the mobilising the people on real economic issues like impact of globalization on agriculture, land reforms, price rise, unemployment, health, education and infrastructure development etc.
(5) Statement against the party calling for public debate
(a)The CPI(M) has urged the central government to prepare a proposal that should be put for a public debate, so that the widest agreement is reached before it is taken up for recommendation. The party’s stand is a shot in the arm for anti-reservationists who having sensed that reservation cannot be stopped from implementation are now clamoring for phase wise implementation. OBC reservation in educational institutes cannot be settled by public debate. Only firm and clear action by government can clinch the issue.
First Backward Class Commission under chairmanship of Kaka Kalelkar was set up on January 29, 1953 who submitted report on 30.03.1955. The great democrat Pandit Nehru sent the report in the cold storage. The demand for implementation of first backward class commission report did not die. Morarji Desai government set up another commission when demand to implement recommendations of first backward class commission gained momentum. Second BC Commission submitted its report in 1980. It was again sent to the cold storage. In 1990 only one recommendation was implemented provoking most violent reaction not only in the form of upper caste backlash but also of BJP taking out Rath Yatra and consequential communal riots and withdrawal of support from V P Singh government. Now after 16 years second recommendation has been taken up for implementation that too after the situation created by a Supreme Court Judgment. Can the CPI (M) tell for how long the public debate will continue and when the public debate will ripen for implementation of the same.
(6)Mandal’s historical role
(a) The CPI(M) has not yet realized the seminal contributions of mandal. It is not class struggle but caste struggle that defeated BJP led NDA. Before V P Singh government unleashed mandal the hindutva brigade was speedily moving towards capturing power at the center on its own. The Hindu unity the BJP had manufactured by a series of communal agitations following Rajiv Gandhi government’s decision to open the lock of make shift temple at ‘disputed’ site in Ayodhya was shattered and all hopes of the BJP to come to power at center on its own strength was dashed on the hard rock of mandal. The great mass of the backward caste people that had been swayed away by the hindutva ‘battle cry’ against hapless minorities returned to the fold of Mandal. Mandal proved to be the direct antithesis of kamandal. Mandal considerably weakened kamandal forcing the latter to make an alliance called NDA. The BJP took full advantage of bickering within mandal camp. It was disintegration of mandal camp that contributed in coming to power of the BJP led NDA. Again in 2004 parliamentary elections the caste forces’ role in defeating the BJP led NDA was immense. In Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Tamilnadu the caste forces led by Mulayam, Mayawati, Ramvilas Paswan, Laloo Prasad Yadav and Karunanidhi gave crushing defeats to the NDA. That is not to ignore the role played by the class forces led by the CPI (M) in defeating the Congress and the BJP in Kerala, West Bengal and elsewhere.
(b) The CPI (M) will have to invoke dialectical method in analyzing the role of mandal. Mandal not only divides but unites also. After pre-independence anti-imperialist movement nothing has unified the people of India on such grand scale as Mandal. Mandal gave one common identity, one common name and one common goal to the sixty percent population of India irrespective of their religious, linguistic and regional identities. By bringing Hindu and Muslim backward castes onto the single platform a solid base of communal and caste/class unity was prepared. This has proved very effective in countering communal forces of both majority and minority community. Mandal has divided as well as united people on the same caste line. The mass or quantum of unity it has achieved is far greater than the mass of disunity it generated.
Dr Ambedkar had united dalits of India in one common consciousness. But 60 % shudra population of India was lacking some common bondage. Mandal bounded the more than sixty crore shudra population of India belonging to 3743 castes, who sustain life by their hard labour engaged in myriad types of caste based occupations, in one single consciousness irrespective of their religious, linguistic and regional locations. This consciousness has to be strengthened and consolidated further. Mandal has given a new form and content to Indian nationalism. Before mandal but after independence Indian nationalism was brahminical nationalism as the base of unity in diversity was sought in such things as omnipresent Ram Katha and common practices of rituals of Hindu religion. South Indian shudras, who often felt alienated from north Indian Aryan civilization and culture, are now feeling attached to their north Indian brothers. It is not surprising that B P Mandal, the Chairman of Mandal Commission, has become an icon in South India and his pictures are appearing with those of great historical social justice legends like Jotiba Phule, Narain Guru, Periyar and Ambedkar. All the four personalities are non-north Indians. There was none from north India. B P Mandal filled that vacuum. The south Indian OBCs have held aloft Mandal Commission report as Magna Carta of backward castes. Nothing has done for national unity and integrity what Mandal has done. Mandal has united not only the OBC. It has united the forward castes also. In Bihar, before Mandal, there was never witnessed so much unity among the upper caste. Mandal has given them one caste/class consciousness. After Mandal there is greater acceptability of inter caste marriages among the upper caste people. This will go a long way in dissolving the rigid walls of this futureless and inhuman endogamous society. When the upper castes will marry among themselves like a single endogamous unit, the backward and the dalit will not lag behind. Mandal has landed the old and wretched Hindu society in a grave crisis with hopes of renewed construction

Appendix I
17 May, 2006
Press Statement
The Polit Bureau of The Communist Party of India(Marxist) has issued the following statement:

On Reservation in Educational Institutions

1. The Constitutional provision of reservation for socially and economically backward classes is meant to provide access to education and jobs for the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes. The provision for reservation is a partial acknowledgment of the inequities of the caste system and the discrimination and deprivation that it entailed for centuries in Indian society. The CPI (M) has viewed such reservation as a limited step to provide opportunities for the dalit, adivasis and the other backward classes to acquire education and jobs. At the same time, the CPI (M) has stressed that there can be no emancipation without basic land reforms and changes in the socio-economic system which breed exploitation and inequality.
2. Extension for OBC reservation to education is based on the same principles as its application to jobs. The CPI (M) supports reservation in higher educational institutions for SC, ST and OBC. The state
3. Governments are to decide the quantum of reservation in the institutions run by them. In higher education, since there is a scarcity of seats, especially in professional institutions, reservation should be accompanied by a commensurate increase in the number of seats in the institutions run or aided by the central government. According to the UGC chairman there was provision for an increase of 10 per cent annually in the seats in colleges for which financial allocations have been made in the tenth five year plan.
4. While the CPI (M) is for reservation, it has maintained that distinct from the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, there is differentiation among the other backward classes. Reservation should benefit the poorer and needy sections among these communities. For this, there has to be socio-economic criteria which excludes the affluent and those already having access to jobs and higher education. This came to be known as exclusion of the “creamy layer” based on the Supreme Court judgment on the implementation of the Mandal Commission report.
5. While expanding the seats in educational institutions, students coming from weak and poorer background and who do not come in the reservation categories should also be provided for through a separate allocation of seats.
6. The government of India should prepare a proposal which should be put for a public debate, so that the widest agreement is reached before it is taken up for implementation.
7. Along with this, the government should immediately prepare a legislation for regulating all private higher educational institutions. The legislation should enable state governments to regulate admission and fees in all private higher educational institutions which are aided or unaided. The crass commercialization of higher education has closed the door for a large number of deserving students irrespective of their background and even when they have the necessary qualifications and merit. Social control of the burgeoning “educational industry” is an urgent necessity. End.

21 April 2008

बिहार बनाम बिहारी अस्मिता

शिवनंदन राम

बिहार एक समस्या मूलक प्रांत है. यहां पर चौवालिस प्रतिशत आबादी गरीबी रेखा से नीचे जीवन बसर करती है, जबकि देश का औसत प्रतिशत सिर्फ बाईस है. साक्षरता के मामले में भी यह देश के सर्वाधिक पिछडे हुए राज्यों में एक है. सन् 2001 की जनगणना के अनुसार यहां पर साक्षरता का दर 4757 प्रतिशत है जबकि देश की कुल साक्षरता दर 6538 प्रतिशत है. राज्य की 90 प्रतिशत जनता कृषि अथवा कृषि जनित छोटे-छोटे उद्योगों पर आश्रित है. राज्य के बॅटवारे के बाद यहां के 70 प्रतिशत प्राकृतिक संसाधन झारखंड को चले गये, बिहार के जिम्मे सिर्फ 30 प्रतिशत ही रहे, जबकि आबादी के मामले में इसके ठीक विपरीत हुआ यानी 70 प्रतिशत बिहार को एवं मात्र 30 प्रतिशत झारखंड को स्वतंत्रता प्राप्ति के बाद राज्य की दशा एवं दिशा सुधारने हेतु अनेक प्रयत्न हुए, परन्तु परिणाम वही ढाक के तीन पात.

राष्ट्रीय अनुसूचित जाति जनजाति आयोग का कहना है कि बिहार दिनानुदिन गरीब होता जा रहा है. चालू दशक में आम आदमी की आमदनी में कमी आयी है. गरीबों को संख्या में

ईजाफा हुआ है. 1975 में इनकी संख्या तीन करोड तैंतीस लाख थी, जो अब बढक़र चार करोड तिरेपन लाख हो गयी है. भूमि सुधार आंदोलन के चलते वहां पर गरीबों की संख्या में स्पष्टतः कमी आयी है. परन्तु बिहार में जीविका का मुख्य स्रोत होते हुए भी भूमि सुधार को आन्दोलन का रूप कभी नहीं दिया गया.

भूमि सुधार आंदोलन की विफलता बिहार में उग्रवाद आंदोलन के पनपने का मुख्य कारण रहा है. नीचे तबके के लोगों में घोर निराशा एवं आक्रोश है. अपनी गलत सोच के कारण वे उग्रवाद का सहारा ले रहा है. प्रजातांत्रिक पध्दति से उनका विश्वास उठ गया है. बैलेट की जगह बुलेट में उनकी आस्था है. मध्य बिहार उग्रवाद से पूरी तरह प्रभावित है. इसकी वजह से हजारों हिंसा की भेंट चढ चुके हैं. इनके मुकाबले के लिए जमीन्दारों ने भी रणवीर सेना नामक संगठन खडे क़र लिये हैं. आये दिन इन दो परस्पर विरोधी संगठनों में संघर्ष जारी है और जारी है निर्दोष लोगों का कत्लेआम.

विधि-व्यवस्था के अभाव में विकास कार्य अवरूध्द है. यहां से प्रतिभाओं के साथ व्यवसायियों का भी पलायन हो रहा है. अब तक बहुत सारे व्यवसायी बिहार छोडक़र जा चुके हैं. सर्वत्र अंसतोष एवं भय परिख्यात है. गरीबपरेशान हैं अपनी गरीबी से.अमीर परेशान है अपनी सम्पत्ति बचाने में.

परन्तु यहां एक विचारणीय प्रश्न उठता है कि क्या सिर्फ बिहार ही इन त्रासदियों को झेलने के लिए अभिशप्त है या बिहार के बाहर के राज्यों में भी इस तरह का परिदृश्य है. क्या वहां भी हिंसक गतिविधियां होती हैं. उत्तर स्पष्टत: स्वीकारात्मक होगा.उग्रवादी गतिविधियों में पूर्वोत्तर राज्यों, आन्ध्र प्रदेश अथवा जम्मू-कश्मीर में जितने लोग मौत के घाट उतार जा चुके है, उनकी तुलना में बिहार की स्थिति काफी अच्छी है. विकास संबंधी अन्य भौतिक उपलब्धियों की बात करे तो निकटवर्ती राज्यों यूपी, उडीसा, बंगाल, असम अथवा पूर्वोत्तर राज्यों की तुलना में हमारी उपलब्धियां कम नहीं है.अन्न के मामले में बिहार आत्म निर्भर हो चुका है.शांति और व्यवस्था अब काबू में है.बडे बडे बाहुबली जेल की सलाखों के पीछे लाये जा चुके हैं. जो बाहर हैं उनका मनोबल टूटा है. पंचायती राज के गठन के बाद से ग्रामीण परिदृश्य में स्पष्ट बदलाव दृष्टिगोचर हो रहा है. प्रशासन में आम आदमी की सहभागिता बढी है. भूमि सुधार कार्यक्रम को जोर-शोर से लागू करने की तैयारियां चल रही है.

प्रतिभा, राजनीति और धर्म में तो बिहार का लोहा सारी दुनिया मानती है. बिहार के छात्रअपनी प्रतिभा के चलते सभी दुनिया में बिहार का नाम रौशन कर रहे हैं. दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय हो या जवाहरलाल नेहरू विश्वविद्यालय या फिर अमेरिका का नासा या सिलिकन वैली ही क्यों न हो, सर्वत्र छाये हुए हैं, सत्ता और अर्थ पर उनकी पकड क़ाफी मजबूत है.

बिहार का अतीत अत्यंत ही गौरवपूर्ण एवं वैभवशाली रहा है. तीर्थकर महावीर एवं भगवान बुध्द इसी माटी की देन हैं, जिन्होंने शांति और अहिंसा का संदेश सारी दुनिया को दिया. अशोक, चन्द्रगुप्त विक्रमादित्य आदि चक्रवर्ती सम्राट यहीं पैदा हुए थे.

परन्तु प्रश्न यहां यह उठता है कि इतने वैभवशाली अतीत और प्रगतिशील वर्तमान के होते हमने अपनी ऐसी हालत क्यों बना रखी है. हम अपनी हालत पर सदैव रोते क्यों रहते हैं.हमें अपनी बिहारी अस्मिता को छिपाकार जीने में क्यों आनन्द की अनुभूति होती है. अपने बिहारीपन पर हमें गौरव का एहसास क्यों नहीं होता. हमें शर्म का बोध क्यों होता है. एक बंगाली, मद्रासी अथवा मराठी को अपने को बंगाली, मद्रासी अथवा मराठी कहने में स्वाभिमान एवं आत्म गौरव का बोध होता है. बल्कि सच माने तो वह बंगाली, मद्रासी अथवा मराठी पहले हैं, बाद में भारतवासी. वास्तविकता तो यह है जो अपने सूबे को प्यार न कर सका वह देश का सपूत कैसे हो सकता है? क्या इन पंक्तियों का मनन हमने ठीक से किया ेहै-

अंय निज: परो वेति गणना लघुचेतसाम्

उदार चरितानान्तु बसुधैव् कुटुम्बकम्.

जी नहीं. कवीन्द्र रविन्द्रनाथ टैगोर देश ही नहीं दुनिया के गिने-चुने विद्वानों में से एक थे. उन्होंने अपने सूबे बंगाल को आमार सोनार बंगलादेश कहा था. बंगाल के बाहर के लोग जो हिंदी भाषी हैं, उन्हें हिन्दोस्तानी कहकर संबोधित किया था. क्या यह उनकी संकीर्ण मनोवृति का परिचायक है, जी नहीं. जिसने खुद को प्यार करना सीख लिया, वही खुदा का सच्चा बंदा है. चाहे जहां कहीं भी हो, जिस दिन एक एक बिहारी अपने को बिहारी कहने में गौरव महसूस करेगा उस दिन बिहारी अस्मिता की अद्भुत पहचान बनेगी. बिहारियों का अपना एक संगठन होगा. इनकी एक अलग जमात होगी. आज जो लोग बिहारियों को नफरत की नजर से देखते हैं उल्फत की नजर से देखने को मजबूर होंगे.सच मानो अगर इनका अपना मजबूत संगठन हो गया तो दिल्ली प्रदेश की सरकार इनकी अपनी होगी.दिल्ली में बिहारियाें की संख्या चालीस लाख के आस-पास है.परन्तु वे असंगठित हैं. अस्तु अस्मिता की भावना जगानी होगी.मंदिर में दीप जलाने के पहले घर को रौशन करना होगा. तभी कायम हो सकेगी बिहारी अस्मिता और बुलंद हो सकेगी हमारी आवाज.

14 April 2008

जाति-व्यवस्था अमेरिकी नस्लभेद से खतरनाक - क्रिस्टीना वोरोस

एओएल की यह खबर गौर करने लायक है - " भारत में जाति व्यवस्था पर फिल्म बनाने आई एक अमेरिकी वृत्तचित्र निर्माता का कहना है कि भारतीय समाज में जाति व्यवस्था की पैठ बिलकुल जड़ों तक है लेकिन कोई इस पर बात नहीं करना चाहता। सभी लोग किसी न किसी रूप में इस पर यकीन भी करते हैं।

न्यूयार्क की वृत्तचित्र निर्माता और चलचित्रकार क्रिस्टीना वोरोस कहती हैं, "मुझे इसका एहसास यात्रा की शुरुआत में ही हो गया। जब मैं इसके बारे में तथ्य जुटा रही थी तब मुझे लगा कि यह अमेरिका के नस्लभेद से भी ज्यादा खतरनाक है। यहां यह समाज के एकदम निचले सिरे पर मौजूद है और सभी इसे मानते हैं लेकिन कोई इस पर बात नहीं करना चाहता।"

और पढ़िए

सामाजिक समरसता के सपने का सच

- दयानन्द

संसार के प्रत्येक भाग में समाज को व्यवस्थित करने एवं मानव जीवन को गरिमामय बनाने के लिए एक विचारधारा की आवश्यकता होती है. आदिकाल में संबधित विचारधारा को दर्शन का नाम दिया गया और उसमें प्रगति एवं शांति के लिए मनुष्य के जन्म से लेकर मृत्यु तक के सारे नियम कानून कायदे निरूपित कर दिये गये जिसे हम धर्मशास्त्र के नाम से जानते हैं. दर्शन का निर्माण काल परिस्थिति आदि के आधार पर होता है. समय के अनुसार समाज, शासन एवं धर्म में परिवर्तन होता रहता है.ग्रामीण लोकोक्ति है कि रमता जोगी बहता पानी. लेकिन दु:ख की बात है कि लोकतंत्र में दर्शन के प्राचीन स्वरूप को बदलने का प्रयास आवाम के द्वारा नहीं किया गया क्योंकि दर्शन हमारे सामाजिक जीवन को आचार, विचार, संस्कार एवं त्योहार के रूप में जाकर देखता है.परिणामस्वरूप हम रूढिवादी, परम्परावादी, अन्धविश्वासी बन गये हैं जिसके चलते हमारे जीवन में समानता, स्वतंत्रता और बन्धुत्व का अभाव हो गया है. दुनिया का कोई दर्शन बिना राज्य सत्ता का सहारा लिए विस्तृत क्षेत्रों में फैल नहीं सका. इसलिए भारत जैसे देश में यह काम लोकतांत्रिक व्यवस्था के माध्यम से किया जा सकता है. लेकिन दु:ख की बात है कि आज के राजनेता दर्शन को राजनीति शास्त्र का विषय वस्तु मानने से इन्कार करते हैं जो एक भयंकर भूल है. महात्मा गांधी, विश्वकवि रवीन्द्र नाथ टैगोर, अम्बेडकर, लोहिया धार्मिक दर्शन को राजनीति का अभिन्न अंग मानते थे. गांधी जी के शब्दों में, 'मैं उस समय तक धार्मिक जीवन व्यतीत नहीं कर सकता था जबतक कि मैं स्वयं को संपूर्ण मानवता के साथ एकीकृत न कर लेता और यह काम मैं उस समय तक नहीं कर सकता था जब तक कि राजनीति में भाग नहीं लेता.' समाज में सामाजिक समरसता स्थापित करने के लिए संपूर्ण बदलाव की अनिवार्यता है. संपूर्ण बदलाव के लिए सांस्कृतिक क्रांति आवश्यक है. सन् 1930 में रवीन्द्र नाथ ठाकुर ने देश वासियों सेकहा था- 'हमारे देश को जीन जंजीराें में जकड रखा गया है. उनपर बार बार प्रहार करके हमें उन्हें तोडना होगा. प्रत्येक संघर्ष पीडा से भरपूर होता है किंतु गुलामी के बंधन से मुक्त होने का दूसरा उपाय नहीं है. सामाजिक समरसता कायम करने के लिए मानसिक परिवर्तन की जरूरत है. मानसिक परिवर्तन के लिए सांस्कृतिक परिवर्तन आवश्यक है. सांस्कृतिक परिवर्तन को समझने के लिए वर्णाश्रम व्यवस्था ब्राह्मणवादी व्यवस्था की समाजशास्त्रीय एवं वैज्ञनिक व्याख्या जरूरी है. मनुष्य की उत्पत्ति के संबंध में वेद गीता, रामायण आदि में भिन्न-भिन्न बातें बतायी गयी है. वर्णाश्रम व्यवस्था सामाजिक व्यवस्था न होकर सुविधा, अधिकार एवं विशेषाधिकार की व्यवस्था है. यह एक हीनता का दर्शन है. भारतीय समाज के साथ गहरी साजिश है क्योंकि वेद अध्ययन स्त्री, शूद्र एवं पतित ब्राह्मण के लिए मना है. सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने अपने 1992 के मंडल आयोग संबंधी फैसले में टिप्पणी की थी कि इस देश में समूचे अर्थ तंत्र, शिक्षा, स्वास्थ्य, स्ांस्कृति और उद्योग पर सिर्फ दस प्रतिशत लोग काबिज हैं. ब्राह्मणवादी व्यवस्था में हिन्दुस्तान के जाने माने राजनेता, साहित्यकार, विद्वान, लेखक अधिकारी को अपमानित किया गया है. जैसे महाराष्ट्र में ब्राह्मणों द्वारा राष्ट्रनायक वीर शिवाजी का राज्याभिषेक से इन्कार देने पर उन्होंने बनारस से गंगाभट नाम ब्राह्मण से धनबल से राज्याभिषेक कराया परंतु तिलक पैर के अंगूठे से लगाया. 'रामचरित मानस' के रचयिता ब्राह्मण श्रेष्ठ तुलसीदास को अयोध्या में ब्राह्मणों द्वारा पत्थरों से मारे गये और उन्हें बाबरी मस्जिद में आश्रय लेना पडा था. तुलसीदास ने अपनी प्रतिक्रिया में कहा था- 'मांगिक खाइबो मसीत में सोइबो.'
रवीन्द्रनाथ टैगोर को पीरल्ली जातीय होने के कारण जगन्नाथ मंदिर में प्रवेश से रोक दिया गया था. मद्रास में त्रावणकोर में बेकोम स्थान पर मंदिर निर्माण के कारण आस-पास से अछूतों को गुजरने पर प्रतिबन्ध था. उस क्षेत्र में अगर कोई अछूत गलती से भी मंदिर की गलियों में आ जाता था तो ब्राह्मण उसकी हत्या कर देते थे. 9 मई 1925 को गांधी बाइकम गये और पेरियार को सलाह दी-' हमें ब्राह्मण से टकराव की स्थिति नहीं पैदा करनी चाहिए. मंदिर में अछूतों के प्रवेश के प्रश्नों पर जोड नहीं देना चाहिए यदिमंदिर के आस-पास की सडक़ों और गलियों में आने-जाने का अधिकार अछूतों को मिल जाता है तो हमें उस पर भी ही संतोष कर लेना चाहिए कि अछूतों को सडक़ पर चलने का अधिकार मिल गया. श्री राम कथा ज्ञान समिति भागलपुर द्वारा बूढा नाथ परिसर में आयोजित राम कथा के दौरान जगदगुरू शंकराचार्य ने कहा, 'शूद्रों के यह भोजन नहीं करना चाहिए. शूद्र होना जन्मना है जन्म से ही कोई शूद्र होता है और सवर्ण तमाम अभावों के बावजूद पुरोहित नरश्रेष्ठ है( दैनिक अखबार हिन्दुस्तान-पटना 25 अक्टूबर 2002). तारिका पीठ के शंकराचार्य स्वामी स्वरूपानंद ने गठबंधन सरकार के औचित्य पर प्रश्न चिन्ह लगाते हुए कहा था कि क्षेत्रीय दलों को लोक सभा का चुनाव लडने की अनुमति नहीं देनी चाहिए( हिन्दुस्तान पटना 21 सितम्बर 1999). स्व रामचन्द्र अध्यक्ष राम मंदिर निर्माण न्यास समिति ने फैजाबाद के आयुक्त को शिलादान करने से इंकार कर दिया.
समतामूलक समाज व्यवस्था के लिए एवं समाजिक परिवर्तन हेतु व्यस्क मताधिकार एवं लोकतंत्र ही सबसे सबल उपाय है. व्यस्क मताधिकार से संपन्न बहुजन समाज जो वर्ण व्यवस्था की सतायी हुई्र है इस व्यवस्था को बदल सकता है.संविधान ने रास्ता बनाया है यदि पचासी प्रतिशत आबादी की ओर से संगठित राजनीतिक प्रयास होता तो काफी हद तक सफलता मिली होती. लेकिन यह काम नहीं हुआ.दलित अनेक घरों में बांट दिए गये. छोटे-छोटे स्वार्थों के लिए वे उन्हीं लोगों से समझौता करते रहे जो उनकी दुर्दशा के लिए जिम्मेवार थे. दि्ज अद्विज के संघर्ष को शूद्र - दलित संघर्ष में बदलकर उन्होंने वर्ण व्यवस्था के खिलाफ चल रहे संघर्ष को कमजोर कर दिया और द्विजों की शाश्वत सत्ता के लिए मार्ग प्रशस्त कर दिया. यदि शूद्र समाज राजनीतिक दल बनाकर एक सूत्र में बंध जाये तो सामाजिक समरसता को कायम करने में सहायता मिलेगी.सभी बंद ताले खुलते हैं. सामाजिक समरसता कायम करने हेतु लोकतंत्र एवं व्यस्क मताधिकार के शक्ति को पहचानना होगा क्योंकि स्वतंत्र भारत में जो कुछ सामाजिक समरसता की गति तेज हुई है वह लोकतंत्र की देन है.

11 April 2008

पड़ोस में पाठशाला-एक हसीन ख्वाब

पड़ोस में पाठशाला-एक हसीन ख्वाब

शिक्षा के क्षेत्र में नाम कर रही विभिन्न संस्थाओं के राष्ट्रीय गठबंधन नेशनल एलायंस फॉर फंडामेंटल राइट टु एजुकेशन (नैफरे) ने कुछ महीने पहले जोधपुर में एक परिप्रेक्ष्य पत्र प्रस्तुत किया था. यह पत्र बारीकी से यह पडताल करता है कि कैसे समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था और पडाेस में पाठशाला संकल्पना की धज्जियां उडायी गयी. परिप्रेक्ष्य पत्र का संपादित अंश यहां प्रस्तुत किया जा रहा है.

कोठारी आयोग (1964-66) पहला शिक्षा आयोग था, जिसने अपनी विस्तृत रिपोर्ट में सामाजिक बदलाव के लिए समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था (कॉमन स्कूलिंग सिस्टम या सीएसएस) की अवधारणा को पेश किया. उसके बाद से संसद एक बार नहीं, तीन बार (1968, 1986 और 1992) की शिक्षा नीतियों में) इसे लागू करने की प्रतिबध्दता व्यक्त कर चुका है. परंतु सरकार बार-बार अपने वायदों से पीछे हटती जा रही है, जबकि सामाजिक बदलाव के लिए सीएसएस एक महत्वपूर्ण औजार तो है ही, समय की जरूरत भी है.

ऐतिहासिक संदर्भ
शिक्षा राज्य के हाथ में ऐसा वैचारिक औजार है जिसे सामाजिक ढांचे की संरचना व स्वरूप में बदलाव लाने के लिए इस्तेमाल किया जाता है. हालांकि यह दोधारी तलवार की तरह है, जो सामाजिक बदलाव के निर्णायक समय पर इस हथियार को चला रहे स्वामी को भी काट सकती है. इतिहास गवाह है कि हर सत्ता ने चतुराई से इस हथियार का इस्तेमाल किया है. भारत में शिक्षा का राष्ट्रीय ढांचा औपनिवेशिक पूंजीवाद के दौर में ही खडा हो पाया. लेकिन 'रक्त से भारतीय, आत्मा से अंग्रेज' वाली मैकालेवादी अवधारणा पर विकसित की गई इस शिक्षा व्यवस्था ने ही भारत के स्वतंत्रता संग्राम की देहरी पर औपनिवेशिक जादूगरों को मात देने का काम किया और औपनिवेशिक प्रभुओं के खिलाफ एक प्रभावशाली मध्यवर्ग और आजादी की लडाई के नेताओं को जन्म दिया. आजादी के बाद शुरूआती दशकों में शिक्षा के आधारभूत ढांचे का तेजी सेविस्तार हुआ. बहरहाल, शिक्षा की औपनिवेशिक व्यवस्था बरकरार रहने के कारण आत्मनिर्भर भारत के नेहरूवादी पुननिर्माण परियोजना में बाधाएं खडी हो रही थीं. इसका नतीजा यह हुआ कि 'सभी स्तरों पर और सभी रूपों में शिक्षा के विकास के लिए सिध्दांतों व नीतियों और शिक्षा के राष्ट्रीय पैटर्न पर सलाह देने के लिए' पहले विस्तृत शिक्षा आयोग का गठन किया गया. यह समुचित सामाजिक बदलाव और पुननिर्माण की ओर उन्मुख राष्ट्रीय स्कूल व्यवस्था विकसित करने के लिए अवधारणा और रणनीति बनाने की एक कोशिश थी.
स्वतंत्रता आंदोलन के दौरान भी शिक्षा के क्षेत्र में कई अवधारणाएं व प्रयोग विकसित किए गए, जिन्हें आज भी अधिकतर आधुनिक शिक्षाशास्त्री संदर्भ के रूप में इस्तेमाल करते हैं. बुनियादी शिक्षा की अवधारणा या नयी तालीम उनमें से प्रमुख है, जिसे न जाने कितनी बार खंगाला जा चुका है. गांधीजी की ग्राम आधारित कुटीर उद्योग की अवधारणा की तरह 'नयी तालीम' का भी वही हश्र हुआ, क्योंकि यह महसूस किया गया कि देश की राज्य व्यवस्था पर काबिज नए सामाजिक वर्ग के वृहत्तर हितों के साथ इन दोनों अवधारणाओं का कोई रिश्ता ही नहीं बनता. स्वप्नजीवी लोग अपने हवाई किले टूटने पर हायतौबा मचाते हैं, लेकिन शैक्षिक एजेंडा का मतलब दर्शन या शिक्षा शास्त्र के अबूझ आदर्श सेकहीं ज्यादा है.
हालांकि कोठारी आयोग की लंबी व गंभीर कोशिशों के फलस्वरूप घोषित की गई राष्ट्रीय शिक्षा नीति (1968) ने उच्च स्तर पर देश की वैज्ञानिक व तकनीकी शिक्षा को आगे बढाने में महत्त्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभायी, लेकिन राष्ट्रीय स्कूल व्यवस्था या जैसा कि कोठारी आयोग ने जिक्र किया था, समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था के सपने को साकार करने की कोई कोशिश नहीं हो सकी. 'उत्कृष्ट व स्पष्ट तर्कों की धारा' 'पुरानी आदतों के सुनसान रेगिस्तान' में खो गई. महान कवि टैगोर हमारी प्राचीन सभ्यता के मलिन सामाजिक भेदभाव का वर्णन करने के लिए अकसर इस काव्यात्मक उक्ति का इस्तेमाल करते थे.
यदि 'आधुनिक समाजवादी' नेहरू भूमि सुधार के एजेंडे को लागू नहीं करा सके, जिसका उन्होंने जुमलेबाजी की बजाय दिल की गहराइयों से 1936 के भारतीय राष्ट्रीय कांग्रेस के लखनऊ अधिवेशन में बार-बार जिक्र किया था. और आखिकार देश के शक्तिशाली जमींदारों के साथ समझौता करते हुए उन्होंने भूमि को राज्य सूची में डाल दिया, ताकि उसका मनमाना इस्तेमाल किया जा सके तो राष्ट्रीय स्कूल व्यवस्था का एजेंडा भी भारत-चीन संघर्ष की भेंट चढ ग़या. 'जय जवान जय किसान' के नारे से ताजादम हुए रक्षा क्षेत्र को देश की नजर से सबसे महत्त्वपूर्ण स्थान पर बैठा दिया गया. दरअसल, देश पर हमले का भय दिखाकर एक के बाद एक सभी सरकारें राष्ट्रीय सुरक्षा खर्च में भारी बढाेत्तरी करती गईं और इस वजह से शिक्षा व स्वास्थ्य दोनों सामाजिक क्षेत्रों को जरूरी वित्त का टोटा पडने लगा.
गौर से देखा जाए तो 1986 में आई शिक्षानीति से इसकी शुरूआत हुई. आधुनिक मीडिया के जादुई असर में सम्मोहित इस नीति ने शिक्षा को सर्वसुलभ बनाने के नाम पर बडे तामझाम के साथ अनौपचारिक शिक्षा की शुरूआत की जो आखिरकार मौजूदा शैक्षणिक ढांचे को गिराने का संगठित अभियान साबित हुआ. बहरहाल, वह दौर कुछ अलग था, इसलिए अवधारणा के स्तर पर ही सही, 1986 की राष्ट्रीय शिक्षा नीति को राष्ट्रीय स्कूल व्यवस्था के प्रति अपनी प्रतिबध्दता की घोषणा करनी पडी. नब्बे का दशक न सिर्फ हमारे देश के, बल्कि पूरी दुनिया के इतिहास में निर्णायक साबित हुआ. तमाम चेतावनियों को नजरंदाज करते हुए - जनप्रिय होने के सारे आवरण उतार कर फेंकते हुए भूमंडलीकरण, निजीकरण व उदारीकारण के समर्थक नव-उदारवादी सत्ताधारियों ने देश के सामाजिक-राजनीतिक ढांचे को उलट-पुलट कर रख दिया. इस युग में लगभग ईश्वर की हैसियत रखने वाले 'बाजार' के अभ्युदय ने पहले से बीमार चल रहे सामाजिक क्षेत्र को अनाथ बना दिया. और उसे अपनी मौत मरने के लिए छोड दिया. खत्म हो रहे सार्वजनिक स्वास्थ्य ढांचे के बीच स्वास्थ्य क्षेत्र में चलाए जा रहे प्रतिरक्षण अभियान की ही तरह मीडिया में चमक बिखेरने वाले साक्षरता अभियान और सर्व शिक्षा अभियान या ईजीएस जैसी अवास्तविक शैक्षिक परियोजनाएं देश के सार्वजानिक शैक्षिक ढांचे पर हो रहे जबरदस्त हमले छिपाने के लिए किए गए 'मुखौटे' भर हैं. कृपया कोई भ्रम न पालें, क्योंकि शिक्षा के क्षेत्र में आ रहे ये बदलाव अभूतपूर्व हैं जिनमें विश्व बैंक और उसके साथ सांठ-गांठ कर रहे नव उदारवादी तत्वों की असंवैधानिक, अलोकतांत्रिक और खुलेआम दखलंदाजी साफ नजर आ रही है. कहना न होगा कि इन बदलावों में देश के विकास और यहां तक कि उसकी बुनियादी एकता को नष्ट करने की खतरनाक क्षमता है.
भूमंडलीकृत अंतरराष्ट्रीय सत्ता के अधीन काम कर रही हमारी सरकारों के तमाम शैक्षिक पहलों का सार यही निकलता है: 'आम जन के लिए साक्षरता और खास लोगों के लिए शिक्षा'. इसे विडंबना ही कहा जाएगा कि मंडलीकृत और बहुजनीकृत राजनीतिक माहौल में समाज के कमजोर तबके मसलन-जनजाति, दलित, अल्पसंख्यक और महिलाएं खुद को ठगा हुआ महसूस कर रहे हैं.दूसरी तरफ, उर्ध्वगामी मध्यवर्ग सार्वजनिक शिक्षा संस्थानों से अलग होकर 'शैक्षिक उत्कृष्टता के हरे-भरे बाग' में विचरण कर रहा है. बुरीतरह से टूटे-फूटे सार्वजनिक शैक्षिक ढांचे से अलग होने की कोशिश कर रही जनता को बाजार के दर्शन बघारने वाले 'यूजर चार्जेज' की बेडी अौर निजीकरण व सांप्रदायीकरण की हथकडी से बांधने की कोशिश कर रहे हैं.
समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था की परिभाषा
औपनिवेशिक काल में शुरू की गई मैकालेवादी शिक्षा व्यवस्था की अंतर्निहित अलगाववादी प्रकृति को पहचानते हुए और नयी तालीम व शांति निकेतन जैसी शैक्षिक तजुरबों की संभावनाओं के मद्देनजर 1987 के शिक्षा आयोग ने एक समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था और 'पडाेस में पाठशाला व्यवस्था' की परिकल्पना की:
जो जाति, धर्म, पंथ, संप्रदाय, आर्थिक हालत व सामाजिक 'हैसियत' का लिहाज किए बिना सभी बच्चों के प्रवेश के लिए खुला रहेगा.
जहां अच्छी शिक्षा हासिल करना धन-दौलत पर नहीं, बल्कि प्रतिभा पर निर्भर होगा.
जहां सभी स्कूलों में मानक स्तर की शिक्षा दी जाएगी और जिसमें अच्छी गुणवत्ता वाले संस्थानों की संख्या भी अच्छी-खासी होगी.
जिसमें कोई टयूशन फीस नहीं ली जाएगी.
जो आम अभिभावकों की जरूरतों पर खरी उतरे ताकि उन्हें अपने बच्चों को समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था के दायरे से बाहर चल रहे महंगे स्कूलों में भेजने को मजबूर न होना पडे.
इस आयोग ने 1967 में मौजूद शिक्षा परिदृश्य का वर्णन करते हुए टिप्पणी की थी:
'खुद शिक्षा सामाजिक अलगाव को तेज करने की ओर बढ रही है और इससे वर्ग विभेद की जडें ग़हरी हो रही हैं तथा खाई चौडी हो रही है. प्राथमिक स्तर पर जनता अपने बच्चों को उनमुफ्त स्कूलों में भेजती है, जिनका जिम्मा सरकार व स्थानीय निकाय उठाते हैं और जिनमें आमतौर पर घटिया शिक्षा दी जाती है.कुछ निजी स्कूल निश्चित रूप से बेहतर हैं, लेकिन उनमें कइयों की फीस इतनी ज्यादा है कि उन तक पहुंच पाना सिर्फ मध्य व उच्च वर्ग के बूते की बात है. माध्यमिक स्तर पर ज्यादातर अच्छे स्कूल निजी किस्म के हैं. उनमें भी कइयों की फीस इतनी ज्यादा है कि देश की शीर्ष 10 फीसदी आबादी को छोडक़र कोई उसका बोझ नहीं उठा सकता. हालांकि मध्यवर्ग के कतिपय माता-पिता बहुत बडा बलिदान करते हैं, तब जाकर अपने बच्चों को उन स्कूलों में भेज पाते हैं. इस तरह खुद शिक्षा में ही अलगाव के बीज छिपे हुए हैं - फीस वसूलने वाले कम संख्या में बेहतर निजी स्कूल उच्चवर्ग की जरूरतों को पूरा करते हैं और मुफ्त के सार्वजनिक स्कूल जिनकी संख्या काफी है बाकियों के काम आते हैं. इससे भी बुरा यह हुआ कि यह अलगाव दिनों-दिन बढता जा रहा है, जो आम व खास लोगों के बीच की खाई को और बढा रहा है.'' आज शिक्षा के क्षेत्र में काम कर रहे लोगों के लिए ये वाक्य भारत में शिक्षा की मौजूदा स्थिति को बयान करने वाले प्रतीत हो रहे हैं. दरअसल तीन दशक पहले आम और खास में जो अलगाव था वह आज कई गुना हो गया है.
अनौपचारिक शिक्षा व्यवस्था के जरिये अलगाव को बढावा
जैसा कि पहले उल्लेख किया गया है पिछले 60 वर्षों के दौरान शिक्षा में समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था को लागू करने की दिशा में हमारे कदम लगातार कमजोर होते गए. थाइलैंड के जोमतिएनमें यूनिसेफ, यूनेस्को, यूएनडीपी और विश्व बैंक द्वारा 1990 में आयोजित 'सबको शिक्षा' सम्मेलन के बाद तो समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था को संघातिक आघात पहुंचा. हालांकि 1986 की शिक्षा नीति में भी समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था को लागू करने के लिए कम से कम आश्वासन तो था लेकिन 1992 के नीति वक्तव्य (जोमतिएन सम्मेलन के बाद संशोधित) में इसे सिरे से गायब कर दिया गया.
इसके बाद एक तरफ तो सरकार ने अनौपाचारिक शिक्षा व्यवस्था या 'वैकल्पिक शिक्षा' की शुरूआत की, जिसने न सिर्फ औपचारिक स्कूलों को खत्म किया बल्कि गुणवत्तापूर्ण शिक्षा के विकल्प के रूप में जन साक्षरता की शोशेबाजी को बढावा दिया. दूसरी तरफ सरकार ने समाज के चुनिंदा तबकों के लिए स्कूलों के एक नए स्तर नवोदय विद्यालय, केंद्रीय विद्यालय, सैनिक स्कूलों का निर्माण किया, जहां कुछ लोगों पर बेतहाशा खर्च करने की जरूरत पडी. देश की सार्वजनिक शिक्षा व्यवस्था को नीचा दिखाते हुए हमारे शहरों, कस्बों व गांवों के हर मुहल्ले में टयूशन की दुकानें, कोचिंग संस्थान और अजीबो-गरीब नाम वाले कॉन्वेंट स्कूलों की भरमार हो गई है. देश के मौजूदा सार्वजनिक शिक्षा संस्थानों, खासकर उच्च शिक्षा के क्षेत्र में बढते व्यावसायीकरण के मद्देनजर आम जन और खास लोगों के बीच पूरी तरह अलगाव हो चुका है जहां शिक्षा को खास लोगों के लिए आरक्षित कर दिया गया है और आम जनता को थमाया गया है साक्षरता का झुनझुना. संविधान के अनुच्छेद 45 में तय समय-सीमा को धता बताते हुए पिछले 50 वर्षों में सरकार ने अपनी करनी के जरिये अपने इरादे स्पष्ट किए हैं - 'चुनिंदा लोगों के लिए सरकार से वित्तपोषित अच्छी शिक्षा, जबकि बहुसंख्यक आबादी के लिए अनौपचारिक शिक्षा.'
जनता के लिए अनौपचारिक शिक्षा
बच्चों को कम से कम आठ साल तक प्रारंभिक शिक्षा मुहैया कराने की संवैधानिक वचनबध्दता (अनुच्छेद 45) का खुलेआम उल्लंघन करते हुए विश्व बैंक से आर्थिक सहायता लेकर डिस्ट्रिक्ट प्राइमरी एजुकेशन प्रोग्राम ( जिला प्राथमिक शिक्षा कार्यक्रम या डीपीईपी) की घोषणा की गई जिसका उद्देश्य था औपचारिक शिक्षा को मजबूत करना, लेकिन जो आखिरकार इसकी अनदेखी करने वाला साबित हुआ, क्योंकि डीपीईपी ने अपना ध्यान पांच वर्ष तकप्रारंभिक शिक्षा पर लगाया. यही नहीं, शिक्षाशास्त्रीय शब्दावली में छिपाकर इस कार्यक्रम के जरिये अर्ध्दशिक्षकों व बहुस्तरीय शिक्षण की अवैध धारणाओं की शुरूआत की गई. हाल में शुरू किए गए सर्व शिक्षा अभियान (एमएसए) की जो सभी बच्चों को अच्छी प्रारंभिक शिक्षा मुहैया कराने की एक और सरकारी कोशिश लगती है, पिछले एक साल की कोई उपलब्धि काबिले जिक्र नहीं है. 2001-2002 में इस कार्यक्रम के लिए वित्तीय आवंटन को संसद में आम राय से पारित कर दिया गया. इस अवधि के लिए सर्व शिक्षा अभियान को 9,800 करोड रूपये आवंटित किए गए. इसमें से 96 प्रतिशत धन औपचारिक स्कूल व्यवस्था को मजबूत करने के लिए दिया गया था. इसके तहत नए प्राथमिक व उच्च प्राथमिक स्कूलों की शुरूआत, आकर्षक वेतन (5,000 रूपये-7, 000 रूपये) के जरिये प्रशिक्षित शिक्षकों की भर्ती और स्कूलों में शिक्षण सामग्री मुहैया कराया जाना था. लेकिन विडंबना यह है कि इस अवधि में इन मदों के लिए आवंटित राशि का सिर्फ 10 फीसदी (1,000 करोड रूपये) ही ज्ाारी किया गया. यही नहीं,जो थोडा बहुत धन खर्च किया गया उसे भी औपचारिक शिक्षा पर खर्च न करके बडे-बडे नामों वाली सस्ती व्यवस्था (एजुकेशन गारंटी स्कीम और वैकल्पिक शिक्षा जिसमें क्लास रूम व प्रशिक्षित शिक्षकों के बजाय झोपडी व अर्ध्द-शिक्षक की व्यवस्था है) पर बहाया गया. शिक्षा के लिए हर साल 20 हजार करोड रूपये की जरूरत है (तापस मजुमदार समिति की सिफारिश). इसके बरक्स 2001-2002 में प्रारंभिक शिक्षा के लोकव्यापीकरण का लक्ष्य हासिल करने के लिए सरकार ने इस जरूरत का सिर्फ पांच फीसदी धन मुहैया कराया. शिक्षा के लिए इतना बडा आवंटन और धन की इतनी कम उपलब्धता से स्पष्ट है कि सरकार का मकसद काम कम और शोर ज्यादा करना है. अगर पहले साल में सर्व शिक्षा अभियान का यही हाल है तो औपचारिक स्कूल व्यवस्था को इस सरकारी स्कीम में कोई उम्मीद नहीं पालनी चाहिए. पहले जिनकी गिनती स्कूल जाने वाले बच्चों में की जाती थी, उन्हें अब साक्षर होने के लिए वयस्क साक्षरता क्लासों का सहारा है, क्योंकि सरकार ने 9-14 वर्ष तक के बच्चों को राष्ट्रीय साक्षरता कक्षाओं में नामांकन कराने की इजाजत दे दी है.पहले वयस्क साक्षरता क्लास, अनौपचारिक केंद्र, तथाकथित वैकल्पिक स्कूल, मल्टीग्रेड क्लास औरअब एजुकेशन गारंटी स्कीम, (जिसमें अर्द्वशिक्षकों को नियुक्त किया जाएगा) इन सभी को तब तक स्कूली शिक्षा के विकल्प के रूप में स्वीकार कर लिया गया है, जब तक इनका संबंध सिर्फ गरीबों की शिक्षा से है. इस माहौल में बालश्रम की चक्की में पिस रही एक लडक़ी को संवैधानिक रूप से शिक्षित माना जाएगा, अगर वह तीन साल के लिए किसी अनौपचारिक स्कूल में और उसके बाद दो साल तक राष्ट्रीय साक्षरता मिशन के वयस्क शिक्षा कार्यक्रम में नामांकन करवा ले. इससे कोई फर्क नहीं पडता कि उसने कभी औपचारिक स्कूल का मुंह देखा या नहीं.
चुनिंदा लोगों के लिए गुणवत्तापूर्ण शिक्षा
1986 की शिक्षा नीति में पेश किए गए नवोदय विद्यालयों को 'पेस सेंटर' कहते हुए पेश किया गया, जिनमें सालाना एक छात्र पर सरकार के खजाने से 9,000 रूपये खर्च की जरूरत पडती है, जबकि गांव में चल रहे सरकारी स्कूलों में पढ रहे प्रति छात्र पर खर्च होने वाले महज 846 रूपये की इससे कोई तुलना ही नहीं है. हालांकि इसे प्रतिभाशाली छात्रों का भविष्य संवारने के विचार के साथ शुरू किया गया था. लेकिन उसकी प्रवेश परीक्षा का खाका कहीं से भी प्रतिभा को आकर्षित करने वाला नहीं है. यही नहीं, ये प्रवेश परीक्षाएं गांव विरोधी और बाल-विरोधी हैं. इस वजह से इनमें पढने वाले विद्यार्थियों में अधिकांश मध्य-आय वर्ग से हैं और निम्न आय वर्ग के बच्चे यहां अल्पसंख्यक. 1986 की शिक्षा नीति की समीक्षा करते हुए आचार्य राममूर्ति समिति ने इसका उल्लेख किया. खासकर समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था स्थापित करने के संदर्भ में ही समिति ने आम राय से इस बात की वकालत भी की कि अब एक भी नवोदय विद्यालय स्थापित न किया जाए. चुनिंदा बच्चों की प्रतिभा को निखारने से जो असमानता फैलती है, उसका तो बयान ही नहीं किया जा सकता. यह स्कीम काफी महंगी है - इस पर भारी-भरकम रकम खर्च होता है और प्रति विद्यार्थी खर्च भी बहुत ज्यादा है; सरकारी खजाने से चुनिंदा लोगों को इतनी महंगी शिक्षा, जबकि लाखों बच्चे औसतन अच्छी शिक्षा पाने के अपने वैधानिक अधिकार से वंचित हों, पूरी तरह से विभेदकारी है और उन समानता व सामाजिक न्याय के सिध्दांतों के खिलाफ है, जिनके लिए कोई भी जनतांत्रिक गणतंत्र वचनबध्द होता है.'
ग्लोबल मार्केट (विश्व बाजार) की ताकतों केदबाव के कारण शिक्षा के लिए अनौपचारीकरण और चुनिंदा लोगों को गुणवत्तापूर्ण शिक्षा की दोहरी परिघटना के साथ-साथ देश के अंदर बैठी सांप्रदायिक शक्तियों, सरकारी स्कूलों में बच्चों को दी जा रही शिक्षा को दागदार बनाकर खतरनाक काम कर रही है.एनसीईआरटी के पाठयक्रम और पाठयपुस्तकें सामाजिक सच्चाइयों का आईना नहीं रह गयी हैं. वे देश की सत्तीसीन पार्टी के विचारों को अधिक से अधिक फैलाने वाले मुखपत्र की तरह लगते हैं. इस अवधारणा पत्र के अगले हिस्से में कॉमन स्कूल सिस्टम के छह प्रमुख पहलुओं का विश्लेषण किया गया है:
निजी स्कूल
आज भारत में निजी स्कूल अपने आप में एक धंधा है, जिससे शिक्षा की निजी दुकान कहना ज्यादा उचित होगा. इन स्कूलों की बडी तादाद में उपस्थिति इस बात का सबूत है कि सरकार देश के बच्चों को संतोषजनक शैक्षिक अवसर मुहैया कराने में विफल रही है लेकिन आमधारणा के विपरीत अधिकांश निजी स्कूलों में बहुत अच्छी शिक्षा नहीं दी जाती है. मौजूदा परिदृश्य में निजी स्कूलों का समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था में शामिल करने की कोठारी आयोग की दृष्टि दूर का ढोल बनकर रह गई है. पिछले 15 वर्षों में निजी स्कूल सामाजिक एकता नहीं, बल्कि अलगाव के औजार के रूप में उभर कर सामने आए हैं. शैक्षिक अवसरों में समानता हासिल करने की राह में ये सबसे बडी बाधा हैं.वास्तव में सरकार को निजी स्कूलों का अधिग्रहण करके उन्हें समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था में शामिल कर देना चाहिए.
समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था की शर्त है कि शिक्षा की वित्तीय जिम्मेदारी सरकार की हो. आजादी के बाद गठित सभी शिक्षा आयोगों की सिफारिशों में भी यही बात कही गई है. इस बात पर आम राय है कि प्रारंभिक शिक्षा की वित्तीय व्यवस्था राज्य को करनी चाहिए और स्कूली शिक्षा क्षेत्र में निजी हितों को प्रवेश करने की अनुमति नहीं दी जानी चाहिए. जैसा कि पहले जिक्र किया जा चुका है, तापस मजुमदार समिति 1990 के बाद देश में कुकुरमुत्ते की तरह उग आई दोयम दर्जे की समांतर शिक्षा व्यवस्था को सस्ती वित्तीय सहायता देने की मनाही करता है.शिक्षा के लिए निजी जरिये से आ रहे धन को भी राज्य के माध्यम से ही खर्च किया जाए.
समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था काक्रियान्वयन
सन् 1964-66 के शिक्षा आयोग ने समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था को कारगर ढंग से लागू करने के लिए कुछ जरूरी सुधारों का सुझाव दिया था:
ॅ प्रारंभिक शिक्षा (खासकर प्राइमरी) पर खर्च में महत्त्वपूर्ण बढाेतरी. इससे शिक्षा के आधारभूत ढांचे व उसकी गुणवत्ता में जरूरी सुधारलाने में मदद मिलेगी. इस प्रक्रिया में सरकारी, स्थानीय निकायों व सहायता प्राप्त स्कूलों को सही मायने में पडाेस में पाठशाला में तब्दील करने में मदद मिलेगी.
ॅ पिछडे ऌलाकों, शहरी झोपड-पट्टियों, आदिवासी क्षेत्रों, पहाडी ऌलाकों, रेगिस्तानी व दलदली क्षेत्रों, सूखा व बाढ प्रभावित क्षेत्रों, तटीय क्षेत्रों व द्वीपों में स्कूली व्यवस्था में सुधार के लिए विशेष वित्तीय आवंटन का प्रावधान.
प्राथमिक स्तर पर सभी बच्चों खासकर भाषाई अल्पसंख्यकों को मातृभाषा में शिक्षा सुनिश्चित की जाए. माध्यमिक स्तर पर क्षेत्रीय भाषा में शिक्षा को बढावा दिया जाए और मातृभाषा/क्षेत्रीय भाषा के अलावा अन्य भाषाओं में शिक्षा देने वाले स्कूलों को राजकीय सहायता बंद कर दी जाए.
अगले दस साल में चरणबध्द तरीके से समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था का क्रियान्वयन. त्वरित चुनाव प्रक्रिया, टयूशन फीस, कैपीटेशन फीस के बारे में न्यूनतम वैधानिक व्यवस्था.
ऐसे प्रोत्साहनों, दबावों और कानूनी रास्तों की तलाश की जाए, जिनके जरिये मंहगे निजी स्कूलों को समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था में शामिल किया जा सके.
हालांकि ये सभी सुझाव तीन दशक पूर्व दिए गए थे, लेकिन उसके बाद से एक भी सरकार ने इसके क्रियान्वयन के लिए कार्यक्रम लागू करने के प्रति पूरी वचनबध्दता नहीं दिखाई. आज सबसे बडी ज़रूरत इस बात की है कि इस विफलता के कारणों की पडताल की जाए और समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था के रास्ते की बाधाओं को दूर करने का काम किया जाए.
समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्था को हासिल करने में विफलता के पीछे अकसर एक वजह बतायी जाती है कि जरूरतों को पूरा करने के लिए भारी-भरकम निवेश चाहिए. 1999 में गठित तापस मजूमदार समिति ने सुझाव दिया था कि अगर हर साल शिक्षा पर आवंटन में सकल घरेलू उत्पाद के 07 फीसदी के बराबर बढाेतरी की जाए तो अगले दस वर्षों में सरकार 6-14 आयुवर्ग के सभी बच्चों को शिक्षित करने का लक्ष्य हासिल कर लेगी.समिति ने यह भी स्पष्ट कर दिया था कि शिक्षा खर्च में बढाेतरी और उसकी गुणवत्ता में सुधार के बीच कोई समझौता नहीं किया जा सकता. क्योंकि जब तक संतोषजनक गुणवत्ता की शिक्षा मुहैया करने के लिए जरूरी शर्तों को पूरा नहीं किया जाता, तब तक सभी बच्चों का नामांकन और बीच में उनके स्कूल न छोडने की गारंटी नहीं दी जा सकती. 0-6 आयु-वर्ग के बारे में 2001 की योजना आयोग की रिपोर्ट ने सुझाव दिया है कि इसके लिए इस आयुवर्ग के सभी बच्चों को शामिल करने के लिए प्रति ईसीसीई सेंटर सात वर्षों की अवधि के लिए सालाना 10 हजार रूपये की जरूरत पडेग़ी.
आजादी के बाद गठित सभी शिक्षा आयोगों में एक बात पर आम राय रही है कि शिक्षा में समानता और सामाजिक न्याय सुनिश्चित करने के लिए समान स्कूली शिक्षा व्यवस्थाको स्थापित करना पहला कदम है. लेकिन इन सिफारिशों को हकीकत में बदलने के लिए क्रियान्वयन की कोशिश आज भी एक हसीन ख्वाब ही बना हुआ है.