A Vision for 21st Century

Linked with Nishikant Waghmare – India.

Published on Sikh Spectrum, by Nishikant Waghmare, April 2003.

An excerpt in the midst of the text: … In the Western mind India is virtually synonymous with poverty. Poverty will remain both a moral and a practical problem and a political embarrassment to any Indian Government. More than half of the world’s poorest people live in India, mostly in the rural north and east. The poorest 10 percent of the Indian population (more than 100 million) earn slightly less than $1 a day, and 35 percent of all Indians, approximately 300 million, fall below the Government’s own poverty line.

It has taken several generations, but many of India’s lowest and poorest castes, including the dalits (formerly labeled” Untouchables”), are turning to the ballot and the street to gain political power. These castes and poorer Muslims and other non-Hindu groups, including India’s Christian and animist tribal population have discovered that their one great political advantage is in their numbers. They have learned to develop “Vote Banks” and negotiate with political parties for their support, at election time. But in caste-ridden areas such as Utter Pradesh, Bihar, and parts of other states, the democratic revolution meets stiff resistance from middle and high castes that are reluctant to share power. Violence is one result.

Yet there are practical limits to these conflicts. India is, overall, a highly accommodating society, and its politicians are skilled at the art of compromise. Historically, Hinduism has absorbed and incorporated outside ideologies and culture, even as it has helped spawn other faiths, including Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. There is no Hindu Church, nor is there agreement on a “Standard” Hinduism.

India’s caste and class warfare will likely be confined to a few northern states. As for the struggle for a new Indian identity, the BJP does not want to push Muslim into the arms of the Congress Party. India’s political system is a complex machine that required an enormous amount of maintenance, but it functions well enough to satisfy most of its members most of the time.

Dr Ambedkar said, my final words of advice to you is “Educate, Agitate, Organize” have faith in yourself. With justice on our side, I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is a battle for freedom. It is a battle for reclamations of the human personality … (full text).

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