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Address the Corrupt Mindset to eradicate Corruption from India  

Monday June 09, 2014

Caste system in India, Corruption, Jan Lokpal  

"Closely involved in development of grass-root communities and the poor of India for over 30 years, Eugene Culas believes, or says out of anguish, that 95% of his 30 years of developmental work in India was wasted on combating opposition against development. The opposition to development of the poor was due to a certain 'general mindset' of the society, primarily, based on caste discrimination as, from birth to death, from morning till night, each and every individual in India is guided by Caste. If caste causes poverty, sure enough, it causes a corruptive ‘mindset’, resulting to a ’general mindset’. In view of this, Eugene, by writing a letter, invites Anna Hazare and his team to think of another campaign against corruption that includes the ‘caste caused corruption’ that would largely address the daily corruption subjected by the poor."

Eugene Culas  

Inviting Anna Hazare and his team to think of another campaign against corruption that includes the ‘caste caused corruption’ in its agenda, Eugene Culas write the following letter to India Against Corruption icon Anna Hazare and his team members. Here is what Eugene writes in the letter.

Dear Mr. Anna Hazare and other following Indian dignitaries:

Justice Santosh Hegde; Prashant Bhushan; Arvind Kejriwal; Shanti Bhushan; J M Lyngdoh; Kiran Bedi; Sri Sri Ravishankar; Swami Agnivesh; Arch Bishop of Delhi, Vincent Concessao; Mahmood A Madani; Kiran Bedi; J M Lyngdoh; Shanti Bhushan; Prashant Bhushan; Arvind Kejriwal; Mufti Shamoom Qasmi; Mallika Sarabhai; Arun Bhatia; Sunita Godara; Swami Ramdev; Fr.Thomas Kocherry, and others who supported Fast unto death of Anna Hasare.


First of all, I salute you, Sir Anna Hazare, and congratulate others for supporting the Fast unto death. All of you have helped to touch the cardinal problem of India – corruption at all levels; hence an overwhelming public support, which culminated ‘successfully’.

Following is an edited version of a communication I prepared a day before the completion of the Fast as a response to some of the supporting emails circulated. What specifically prompted my response was the expectation of the struggle: “it should not end up only with acceptance of desired changes in the Lokpal Bill but until and unless the corruption is wiped out in real sense which has become unbearable for the common people."

Apart from helping to understand the degree of extent to which individuals and organisations are addressing the problems of the 'common people', I presume the supporting groups are the creamy layer of the vocal category of the 'common people'. I see also an organisation/ movement - 'India Against Corruption' formed with a beautiful name and concept, to eradicate corruption from India once and for all.

However, going through the Fast unto death documents and publicity materials, I find that the demand made has only a very limited scope - being the “enactment of a strong anti-corruption law - Jan Lokpal Bill - to ensure swiftness and certainty of punishment to the corrupt”. Apart from adding one more law into the annals of Indian jurisprudence, I am unable to see how this law could establish a corrupt free India? The demand is silent as how the “corruption is wiped out in real sense which has become unbearable for the common people"? If corruption is not “wiped out in real sense" what is the earthly use of subjecting a noble human being to go fast unto death; and what is the benefit of these dignitaries joining the campaign? Hence there is the need for scientifically diagnosing the cause which is more than Jan Lokpal (Ombudsman) legislation rather than the symptom - corruption, which is only a symptom.

On earlier occasions, when "Anna sat on fast - 6 corrupt ministers in Maharashtra had to resign; *400 corrupt officers were dismissed from job; *2002 - Maharashtra RTI Act was passed; *2006 - Central Government withdrew its proposal to amend Central RTI Act". Great achievements! If this is the case, this time also his fast unto death is likely to draw some impact, more specifically enactment of a law, which is only a part of the final goal. Why should his fast achieve a partial goal? Why political corruption alone? Why not the real corruption in Indian society as contemplated?

What is the real corruption in India?

The Fast unto death is addressing corruption in the Political field - political corruption - hence boycotting political parties etc. Political corruption is only a part of corruption practiced by the political masters and their stooges including all public servants. India follows a democratic form of government which is a”system guaranteeing that we are no better governed than we deserve". So corruption in the political system is only the reflection of existing corruption in the general society in the form of a 'general mindset'. That is nothing unusual. Corruption is only delivered by a corrupt mind - a collective corruptive mind of Indian society. Political corruption which we focus now to eradicate is only the miniature of the existing general mindset. It is hypocrisy to believe that political corruption can be eradicated without addressing societal corruption.

For over 30 years I was involved in grass-root, state and national level organisational work with the marginalised global poor wherein I had the opportunity of being very closely tied with two state and one national level legislations. As part of my patriotism, I never dreamt of working outside India, although I had a couple of occasions to study abroad. However destiny has now taken me to UK where I am one of the founders and Director of a Charity for the past 11 years and closely linked with a recent legislation passed by the British Parliament. 95% of my 30 years of developmental work in India was wasted on combating opposition against development - only 5% of the developmental time, resources, energy was available for real development work. The opposition to development of the poor was due to a certain 'general mindset' of the society based on caste discrimination. We all know that caste dominates almost all spheres of life of the people in India/ South Asia. From birth to death, from morning till night, each and every individual in India is guided by Caste. Caste dominates our personal morality to politics; our culture to religious beliefs (all Indian religions follow caste).

Caste, which is carried by almost every Indian in his name, is a corruptive concept. It corrupts our minds, so much so 15% of the populations, who are the beneficiaries of the caste system, consider others as ‘slaves’ and ‘untouchables’. These two last categories having lived over 3000 years in this situation have internalised their discriminations very much that they are unable to think otherwise. All the glorified traditional value systems of India, including personal ethics and morality, are based on caste. Caste differentiates Indians as privileged castes, who are caste perpetrators on the one side and ‘slaves’ and ‘untouchables’ on the other. Incidentally, there are few countries in the world which castigates its citizens as ‘untouchables’. India with 1/3rd+ of the global poor to its credit, brands its 85% of the population as ‘slaves’ and ‘untouchables’, the historically broken people, the Dalits. 90% of Dalits, which includes Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists etc. live intergenerationally poor without being considered as human beings, leave alone fellow human beings. According to studies, more than half of the Indian populations, 500+ millions live below the poverty line, with every year adding 1 million to the ranks during the last 10 years. This is despite India having strong economic growth, rising from low to middle income status and producing several billionaires. Comparisons show that in many respects, Indian poverty amounts to worse than the poverty of Sub- Saharan African countries.

India is a highly ‘spiritual’ country with many ‘spiritual leaders’. Its privileged castes over centuries have punished the masses through indoctrination to accept fate, destiny and caste. Caste teaches man to behave with man in an inhuman manner; caste does not recognise a human being as a human being; caste permit the touch of an animal, but the touch of a human being pollutes; caste precludes some classes from education and forbids them to accumulate wealth; it permits animals to drink water, from where humans prohibited. Apart from corrupting the mind with the notion of unequal position by birth and inequality before law and Supreme power, caste necessitates inter-caste practice of corruption and criminal activities with impunity for the privileged castes. Even punishment system is graded. Caste compels practice of intra-caste nepotism and favouritism against other caste members. Further, the rulers are asked to implement caste laws. Hence the rulers’ reluctance to bring changes, in spite of golden laws and Constitution, keeps things mostly unchanged. Any attempt to remedy ‘historical injustices’, through affirmative action is brutally opposed by the privileged castes and such actions are accepted as their birth right to continue enjoying unjustly accumulated privileges. Although these are against all notions of ‘justice’ in democracy, they are justified within caste laws. Even during times of field leveling natural calamities, relief and rehabilitations rendered on caste basis. Inter-generational poverty is an award for the poor according to the caste mindset; hence the 'general mindset' has developed callousness towards poverty, injustice and human rights of half of Indian masses. The result is the perpetuation of world records in poverty and plenty at the same time. It is difficult to find any country where money is literally ‘worshipped’ as in India. Hence the belief that money acquired through any means, including through corruption, as God given. Notions of poverty, injustice, human rights, if at all exist, are practiced within the castes/class groups and not outside one's caste. Exceptional spillovers are considered as great acts of Charity.

Caste “is a primitive form of systemic exploitation of a large mass of people by few, denying their human development, including socio-economic, educational, faith, cultural and political rights; aimed to reducing them to sub-human levels, even to the extent of  treating them worse than animals; with laws of deprivations and restrictions in all walks of life for the victims; and undue privileges, benefits and criminal immunity for the perpetrators; based on a religiously / culturally -linked notion of birth in certain caste groups - which stratifies and grades the society with fictitious status, human and material values”. (VODI newsletter August/ September 2010).

It is not the fault of an individual to be born into a certain caste and it may not be his or her fault to enjoy the privileges of caste system and grow thick as trees in the forest. But nothing stops him or her to express their views and changing the caste mindset’ in favour of the poor, marginalised, discriminated and excluded. However, India’s elite class and privileged castes, including the dignitaries mentioned above, do have the opportunity and capability to understand how caste discrimination affects the psychology and welfare of individuals and society as a whole and how caste causes corruption. Instead, they act as ostriches, burying their intellectual honesty and progressive face in the sand. When it comes to the question of addressing caste discrimination, they leave it to corrupt politicians, who are also the product of the caste mindset. Shockingly, caste based corruptions are not mentioned among the features of the contemplated Jan Lokpal Bill.

The UK Government Department for International Development, (DFID) has analysed the impact of caste on poverty, of more than 500 million people in India as given below:

*Caste ‘causes poverty and gets into the way of poverty reduction’.

*It ‘causes the poverty of a particular people, leading to higher rates of poverty among the affected groups’.

*It ‘reduces the productive capacity and poverty reduction of a society as a whole’. *It ‘deprives people of choices and opportunities to escape from poverty and denies them voice to claim their rights’.

*‘Poverty reduction policies often fail to reach socially excluded groups’ – Dalits- ‘unless they are specifically designed to do so’. (‘Reducing Poverty by Tackling Social Exclusion’, DFID, 2004). If caste causes poverty, sure enough, it causes a corruptive ‘mindset’, resulting to a ’general mindset’. With these kinds of caste impacts in the country, no Indian can claim that corruption will be wiped out by legislation!

Many feel that ‘One Anna Hazare is enough' to achieve the demand for legislation. In fact, that proved to be true also. To them and to those who supported the Fast with the assertion that - "the whole country minus the political parliamentary parties are with you on this issue of the fight against corruption", I have a question.  Does this 'whole country' include the 500+ million poor in India, who are victims of the daily corruption due to the Indian ‘general caste mindset’? If not, why not include caste caused corruption in the demand and thereby address the daily corruption subjected by the poor? Removing the ‘general corrupt mindset’ would automatically remove corruption in all walks of life in India, including political corruption. Perhaps, Anna Hazare and those who supported his fast should rethink for another campaign so that “the corruption is wiped out in real sense which has become unbearable for the common people".

[Eugene Culas is the Director of Voice of Dalit International (VODI), UK.]


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