Banning Khaps would be a retrogade step, argues social activist
OFF LATE, media is agog with Khap/Gotra Khap question and has taken to itself the task of cleansing rural India of ‘feudal moss’ making it fit for modern times of its choice. Almost a tirade is on. The subject is thus worth attention to study certain aspects that stand ignored so far in the debate.
The accusations against rural folks following their traditions and customs are thick and fast with palpable ignorance on the issue. The sweating exercise has been lapped up dutifully by the leadership that matters for administrative, judicial and legal measures against the ‘errant’ Khap system itself to usher in modernity. The campaign in consequence has aroused intense passions around among both adherents and opponents. Curiously, this time institutions of family and Gotra Khaps as also Khaps in general are being asked to clear the constitutional litmus test for legitimacy in free India!
It needs to be clear in the beginning that conceptually ‘Khap’ and ‘Gotra Khap’ are distinct entities in jurisdiction and composition. Former is a geographical entity encompassing every community living in its area of operation without any discrimination of profession, caste or religion while ‘Gotra Khap’ is an institutional practice each with particular community or caste Bhaichara to resolve disputes within the community on disputes regarding marriage or family affairs, on demand.
Both have no permanent or fixed structures. Both assemble, discuss, mediate/decide and dissolve. It is the family in the sense of kindred or Kutumbh (with no English parallel) that takes cognizance of dispute in the first instance to settle it. Gotra Khap or Khap at each level enters the scene only on demand and is unrestrictive of participation. In media both terms are used interchangeably creating much confusion.
One impression has gained ground and not without reason that the media has turned particularly partisan as never before in coverage and presentation of incidents leading to the current tirade against Khaps. It has painted these institutions in deep colours of choice by using derogatory words like feudal, Talibani, Kangaroo Courts and the like, inviting equally wild reactions among adherents of this customary practice in rural belt.
It is held widely that the media is justifying each and every case of family defiance by youngsters as a new standard for social conduct, inviting in bargain a serious accusation that it is encouraging an anti-social behaviour for some ulterior objectives.
Feudal is the word of choice these days to use by every Tom, Dick and Harry who happens to describe any family head in rural India on any account. Such is the level of prejudice. It is doubtful if the practitioners of this terminology really understand the meaning that is attached to it by political economy denoting certain negative features of socio-economic life of yester years largely in the West and which hardly find place today at the beginning of 21st century even in the field of culture any where. India is no exception.
They hardly realise that liberation zone for women on questions of sex, love and marriage begins somewhere else and salvation does not lie in Jean P. Sartre brand of freedom which is at the heart of this current campaign being sponsored by corporate media in its over zeal for a new paradise.
This sense of hostility towards rural mores gets strengthened when media reports carry opinions that are biased and ill-informed. Most of the time in zeal it is completely carried away by one track arguments of its own against the institutions of family, community and Khaps, denting its credibility to a new low.
The activist role of media, on behalf of urbanite arrogance towards rural ‘uncouth’ is sharp and biting too harsh with no mind for the victim. It has left the unattached readers gasping, when they generally like it to remain impartial courier of news. However, short is the assessment of adverse implications of this campaign on the social life of rural India that still constitutes nearly 65 percent of the total population.
Few years back an incident first of its kind was reported when an outraged mother in Western UP murdered her errant daughter, while other members were asleep and punished her for a wrong the family had never experienced earlier. Since then, every year dogged murders of errant boys and girls by their close kinsmen are green in reports despite stringent actions by law courts.
Parents and close kinsmen from rural belt murdering their erring siblings are as unusual and unprecedented as sheer rising number of youngsters defying family code for the sake of sexual urges and elopements are. This is unmistakable feature of an undeclared war within the confines of families. It is affecting the normal life of villages too and disrupting their rhythm. The brash defiance of parental supervision by young boys and girls on matters so close to the familial code of conduct as ‘love. Sex and marriage’ having deep bearing on its very social existence and obligation to community behaviour of long standing on the one hand and murders on the other as punishment of such defiance by close kinsmen have fuelled the raging debate.
Nonetheless, the accusation that these murders have come on the biddings of Khaps is atrocious and amusing. The charge is seen as part of a design to snap out the age old bond between a family, village and its respective Khap as a support mechanism in need. If the project materialises as per design, the family will loose its local support mechanism and remain dependent at the sole mercy of a thoroughly corrupt formal system under the state. This will lead to break up of these institutions for conversion into atomised individuals –a sure way undoubtedly for industrial culture to flourish and urbanise India of choice!
One aspect that attracts attention is the timing of the debate. The ferocity of charge against Khaps from the neo-rich elite has come after over sixty years of Independence, though these have been on the scene since centuries of practice. The institution could survive side by side even of the formal state structure that British colonialists thrust upon India to make the population docile by curbing their initiative on social issues. It is well known that the wisdom to make this institution irrelevant had dawned upon colonialists after what they experienced during the wide scale rebellion of the masses in 1857 against their rule.
After Independence, at least during its first phase of nationalist resurgence, the opinion prevailed not to tinker with social customs and traditions with various social groups to the extent of autonomy that was acceded to scheduled areas under Fifth and Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, though only in theory. Still that is not repudiated; rather it has been strengthened under PESA, 1996.
This law, deemed to be a part of constitutional scheme, recognises the competence of the people at the level of Gram Sabha to conduct its own affairs according to their traditions and customs. The provision was found acceptable for extension even to general areas in MP during the regime of Digvijay Singh.
Now is the time of second phase, when nationalism is asked to serve the interests of globalised capital with a concomitant cultural shift. Every family is in the midst of a severe conflict between the demands of old cultural mores and the new agenda having a strong Western likes and dislikes in life style imbued with ambitions to roll in riches over night and where crass individualism has taken the lead.
Perhaps nobody from among the well wishers of common man had visualised when the war between these two distinct cultures opened in Independent India within the confines of ‘family’ that would lead to so violent reactions as have occurred recently resulting in murders of wayward youngsters or unbending parents by their own near and dear kin on matters of ‘free sex, love and marriage’ beyond traditional taboos of the community.
This occurred because families exist within the ambit of community pressures of shame and glory so important for man to relish or repent in a social milieu. The surprise is because ‘murdering’ even the habitual offenders is not the rule among village community that governs such matters since times immemorial.
The ruling principle with them has been “Ha, Ma, Dhik’ in penalising the way-wards for violations of community mores. For the first violation the community expresses disapproval. If the transgression is repeated second time the community collectively notifies its disgust against the failure. On grave violation the community rules its disassociation with the culprit even in cases of gravest provocations. But normal are not the times now, apparently. It is a full-fledged war going on within the families and have reached a stage of zero tolerance. None must have vouched for it initially.
For a moment we may look a bit back for slight wisdom. During the freedom struggle against British rule, one of its stalwarts reminded that India lives in its villages. By saying this then he was stating an obvious truth and nonetheless important to remind the nation for its future to rely upon. Keeping fingers on pulse of the common man, Gandhi appreciated another truth of its social life about Village Republics as a living organism and effective alternative model true to the spirit of Indian ethos for governance and dispute resolution.
But this was not to happen. To suit the interests of a minority, Westminster system with highly centralised structures was adopted instead on the bidding of British and Indian capital. Ostensibly, this minority became too apprehensive of participative democracy as the essence of little Republics, though Hind Swaraj was a favourite reader with them for form sake. To ward off the danger, representative system was favoured instead by adapting the colonial Act of 1935 with a bureaucratic super-structure as was available from British rule. Gandhi could sense a better form in participative democracy as repository of a higher essence of Indian ethos for governance and freedom can not mean anything else than recognition of the competence of the people to manage its own life according to its traditions and customs.
Favouring a federation of ‘7-lakh Village Republics’ in tune with the aspirations of Independence struggle, this opinion found a resounding voice in the Constituent Assembly when the Law Minister appealed otherwise to adopt the colonial model. Circumstances however so conspired in favour of opting the centralised polity. Rural India felt cheated on this vital question of its life when the imported state structure was inherited instead.
In concrete conditions of today, the basic question of political science is to define the relation between society and the state and it is agreed that society takes precedence over the institution of state. In fact it is understood that state is the servant and not the master of society. This is theory. In practice, the state has assumed the role of its master with coercive power, supplemented by an elaborate system of mental slavery, as organ of governance for obedience. This is perversity of the theory. The state, as its own creation has overtaken the society for good or bad. This dichotomy between theory and practice of state is now the fundamental question to resolve if man has to breathe in fresh air and make sense of a serene life. Another important facet of the situation is the limited span with a man as an individual, while the man in society is to think of a perspective with generations to come.
We may recollect that currently, the society operates with two distinct types of structures. The primary one is the type of informal institutions it has evolved and perfected through a process spanning centuries of ‘hit and trial’ for growth. It is a continuous process never to end and perfection is always relative to time and space. The second is the type of formal and contractual formation like state with a defined role and ordained power jurisdiction. The Principle of Eminent Domain is a later invention by the state itself to enjoy colonial obedience and uncouth possessions for ulterior interests to serve. It has nothing to do with any concept of orderly behaviour to serve humanity, but a particular or sectarian object.
It is a transgression of political mandate of the master by its servant and cannot be reconciled for obedience. It is an extraneous and incongruent extension of delegated authority that cannot enjoy command. The illegitimate usurpation has to go, by making up the deficiency so caused to the common good for past forays. The British rulers did it to colonial India and Independent India cannot go on enjoying sinful gains from the service of an illegitimate child labour and claim seat on the high table in the comity of free nations too.
Family, its immediate neighbourhood community with fixed habitation i.e. village and the Khap at various levels to mediate or hear appeals are three basic ingredients one within the other in ascentric circles with supplementary roles to discharge that go to make the Indian society, but despising hierarchical order. Khap/Gotra Khap has no fixed structure. It meets at need and dissolve. In fact, Khap/Gotra Khap has no original or suo motto jurisdiction except in rare case of importance. It has appellate jurisdiction on demand. Any dispute concerning marriage etc is first tackled by the Kutumbh that goes to Gotra Khap at a lower level if concerned parties prefer.
The urban sector on the other hand rests on an alien footing. It relishes individual freedom with least social obligations to worry about. Atomised individual with aspiration to enjoy live-in relationship in a night shelter is its modern avatar of freedom, solely dependent on state structure for social existence and security with capital as its only strength for survival. Apparently, the campaign is to dismantle the first so that the later pattern is adopted by one and all. It is a crusade for uniformity by force. The agenda is clear and forthright.
Who are the crusaders and what they want to achieve is the question
The corporate agenda on the question of ‘love, sex and marriage’ has reached a point of decisive assertion. The crusaders feel confident that their past labour is going to pay dividends now or never. The war is at decisive level. They feel emboldened enough to demolish Khaps now openly and pointedly. As custodian of these values Gotra Khaps and Khaps or Bhaichara assemblies, being informal institutions of social interaction and dispute resolution with rural India, also known by many such other names, are in for an intense berating. -both as concept and practice. The shrill chorus to ban these institutions signify this assault. Simultaneously, the dare-devil campaign in favour of gay sex or unnatural sex and opening doors wide for live-in relationship, is that unmistakeable turning point the corporate capital has gained foothold on this accord through its steady and long drawn effort for the past two decades of liberalism to make it truly irretrievable.
Opening the country to FDI and collaboration regime in the economic field from the West, corporate world needs congenial atmosphere for entertainment of western investors who revel in sexual forays as entertainment. Smooth ground is being prepared by free India with feverish speed and removing all hurdles like family norms, which British rulers had feared to tread in their times. The country is being prepared for these ‘valuable guests’ with such infrastructure in place. Is it a mere sublime coincidence that, on one hand unnatural sex and live-in relations are made acceptable to Indian mind just on the eve of Commonwealth Games and, on the other a high pitch campaign is released for banning the custodians of family ethos like Gotra Khaps in tow? You are in a hurry to ban beggars in the Capital, de-criminalising gay sex, legitimising live-in relationship and clamping ban on Khaps in the interest of corporate capital to gain fabulous profits simply because these institutions do not approve of an alien agenda!! Is it not a part of the same game plan? Pl. deny, if it is wrong.
In addition, it cannot be overlooked that Corporate India has reached a state of such maturity that it now needs un-hindered, uninhibited and free sex not only as another field of earning profit for various branches of ‘industries’ but also as a entertainment medicine it requires for tired muscles for themselves as also for damn tired employees with nerve and bone breaking work-loads that it has made inevitable for them for survival. With a concerted labour of almost six decades it has successfully converted sex for procreation into sex as an activity for entertainment. It did it not for nothing and took Freudian philosophy to heart with Pavlovian science to harness.
Universally it is with the people to combine, discuss, mediate and resolve their problems of family and community life beyond the formal institutions of State. No where people liked that the State institutions interfere in their lives beyond a point. To assemble and interact between themselves is recognised as a natural right with the people, requiring no recognition from any body ever except themselves. This is as natural as birth-right is to the common man. Corporate India, relying on the support of the pliant State, however is not prepared to concede this right to rural India lest their economic interests suffer. The Indian State on its part is keen to the level of desperation to intrude and invading the hearth and homes, including the private lives of rural India. It is ever keen to preside over the relations between parents and their siblings. It denies them this natural right on the spacious plea of safeguarding individual right – an individual free from family attachments.
Apparently, the Khaps have ultimately come now into conflict with the formal institutions of State over the issues of family and community relations when till recently both co-existed without much crossing each others path. One may keep a note that Khaps of both the categories have been quite alive since days immemorial and no body ever took adverse notice of it, though British rulers had grown very suspicious of their strength and reach after a deep going probe into their role during the revolt in 1857. They did what they could to replace Khaps by Zails in 1879 and other formal structures of their own like, civil and criminal courts, police and revenue departments in the interest of governance, along with proclaiming the so-called Principal of Eminent Domain over common resources to exploit.
During the past six decades of Independence too Khaps were never found wanting on subjects of their social interests. These played crucial role in social reforms in the past at important junctures and mustered much acceptability in the region. Suddenly these institutions have come under severe attack for indulging in the same type of activities i.e. exercising constitutionally recognised right of assembly, interaction and mediation in family disputes of community interests! The practice is not confined to one caste or religion either. Since there is no such practice with the urbanites, Rural India is sought to be penalised for their community practice merely to push urban agenda on the community conscious rural people through sheer force of state apparatus.
Curiously, the demand for banning Gotra Khaps has become shrill recently when these institutions intervened in wayward activities of their own wards indulging in delinquent and uncivilised behaviour with regard to ‘love, marriage and sex’, lapping up the bait being dangled before them by a sponsored campaign for corporate gain. Apparently, to indulge in love and sex, without any sense of honour, is the new motto with this profit hungry beast and is desperate to enlist the services of rural India in its enterprise. The posture is taken as if such un-honourable and delinquent behaviour is the norm of societal conduct and Khaps are villain in the ointment that needs prohibition by law! In effect these self styled champions of free love are out to claim a right that does not exist in the society. In any case, such a delinquent conduct cannot be the norm in a reasonable context.
Target is set clearly on rural youth to push him/her to a life of degraded individualism of crass variety, pampering sexual craze as a source of entertainment and turning it to be a primary motive of life. Demolish thus the institution of family with visible scorn for social values, on a dubious plea of ‘love’ as an absolute right of fundamental nature is the motto’.
Ludicrous though is the effort to justify elopement from their families with ‘love marriage’ as a sure ladder for modernity to attain. The deceitful behaviour involved is not their concern! For love, obligation to parents and family is quite disposable value of feudal vantage to them, leading to such bizarre incidents like what happened in Kabulpur village near Rohtak in Haryana a few months back when a ‘love-blind’ girl took help from her boy friend in the same locality to wipe out her whole family, including children.
The girl belonged to a father who did his best to earn money sufficient to finance her study in the university nearby, only to translate his obligation towards a sibling learning lessons these years in free love and getting training to be a crass individual instead duly helped by the whole system of formal and informal education prevalent in the country of late. This happened in an area where hardly one could find any such incident two decades earlier. To the gullible, girl and the boy were quite modern in the making but nonetheless a new phenomenon of devastating consequence to the emotions nurtured by rural India.
Ludicrous also is the effort to convert Constitution of India and the concept of rule of law as something sacrosanct more than what these are to the people themselves. Efforts are afoot to turn these as a litmus test of civilised behaviour to justify imprudent activities of some youngsters bordering criminality that demolish social cohesion in trail.
Interestingly, the critics of Khaps/ Gotra Khaps in the intellectual community are mainly those who are themselves crusaders of existential freedom like free sex in the name of ‘love’ and giving the family and community mores a go by in pursuit of an elusive modernity. When corporate media leads crusaders pack, it does not look as innocent. Reasons are as questionable as ever. To provide needed help, some self-claimed ‘progressives’ of known category with coloured blinkers are hyper active as ever in fighting the so-called ‘feudal’ values in the interest of a dubious industrial culture. Word Khap itself is a bug with them. The class and caste vehemence this time in their campaign however is intense and temper highly vituperative. Narration starts with provocative abuse and ends by angry threats. One-sided arguments are galore. Logic is crafted to suite their side of the make-belief stories.
Sure, India is in turmoil. And, literally. Efforts are on to turn it up side down in the interest of few. Campaign demolish is on with feverish speed for a modernity of dubious history and low value. Nothing wrong if the future is reassuring though. However, trappings are foreboding. And it disturbs the conscience. The Supreme Court on lesbian relationship and the central Home minister on Khap question recently pose the problem in sharp contrast as to the objective. Nearly sixty years after the country is free from British slavery, when Supreme Court of India found it necessary to interpret law on homosexuality and live-in relationship afresh as a fundamental right of an individual, while P. Chidambaram chooses to declare Khap system of social formation as obnoxious as terrorism today, the objective may not be as un-related and as innocent as these look to be at the first instance. Both hit at the very root institution of family on the strength of crash individualism of existential variety.
Astonishingly, the Marxists, within brackets, have turned followers of Sartre in this game of pushing individualism to the fore!
Surely, this demolishing campaign is not for nothing. There is a definite object to achieve, and achieve fast! It is to take woman and the youth hitched to their bandwagon of liberal commercialisation, fit for the market. These days, feverish training starts in the schools from the primary level. Universities thereafter marvel in taking the job over seriously in cultivating individualism of the worst type. Six decades over and we can summarise achievements in the field of culture and values, if one likes.
The malaise lies deep. To understand it, let us recount a bit or two of the Constitution making process to understand the basic cause and how it started. It will be rewarding to recollect some of the lost moments to know why there is now so loud a clamour for discarding family and the relevant community living in villages of India and how lot of champions have grown so bold on the question of free sex. Unfortunately, tragedy starts with the adoption of the Constitution itself. The provisional Cabinet had pleaded for and the adopted Constitution sanctified individualism as its core philosophy on the strength of which there is a claim loud enough now to turn India upside down on matters as emotional as free sex and individual right, more than the right of the family collective.
First, let us understand that there is no valid ground to consider Constitution as sacrosanct as demand is in the debate. It is as irrelevant as irrational. We may recount a small piece of history. The veterans, who had happened to preside over the destiny of a free nation and who sat down to craft the Indian Constitution, were not a homogenous lot. In fact they were of three distinct categories: one was the ruling section in a hurry. Remember the day a draft was introduced in the Constituent Assembly by the Law Minister on behalf of the Cabinet for approval and adoption. The day was 4th. November, 1948: he was categorical in one respect while narrating the salient features of his draft. There is a fine quote: “ I am glad that the Draft Constitution has discarded the village and adopts the individual as its unit..
” Let us contemplate: Indian village is in fact a neighbourhood community of families inhabiting therein. By discarding village as its unit, the Draft Constitution discarded in fact both the family and the community for the individual as its unit for governance. In fact, the Law Minister on behalf of the First Cabinet after Independence was opting for individualism as the philosophy for the proposed Constitution instead of the community ethos. Quoting the British bureaucrat Metcalfe, he explains “What is the village but a sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow mindedness and communalism?” (Constituent Assembly, Debates Vol.VII, p.38).This Metcalfe truth about rural India is being repeated nauseatingly since then by votaries of modernity of a particular variety that has no ground to claim such wisdom, except repetition! Here was the first basic mischief with the people that laid the foundation for demolishing the family along with the community and their values on the basis of crass individualism with shameless arrogance.
The reaction to this bold and bald statement was equally sharp. “…If the village is to be discarded, someone can also boldly demand that this Constitution be discarded”, declared a member equally loud in protest ( Vol. VII, page 316). Another one retorted… “in spite of all that had been done ( to village republics by the British rulers) for their suppression, they have survived.. Therefore, village Panchayats (republics) is not to be condemned on that basis.” Another prominent member, A C Guha demanded that ‘the village should be the real basis of the (governing) machinery’ while Santhanam opined that ‘in the long run local autonomy for each village must constitute the basic framework for the future freedom of this country’.
Chaudhry Ranbir Singh quoting Gandhi said that ‘whether in the political field or in the economic sphere decentralisation engenders a power which is much greater than other kinds of power. (ibid Vol.VII). Kamath castigated the attitude towards village which he termed as ‘typical of the urban highbrow’. ‘Perhaps the fault lies with the composition of the Drafting Committee, among the members of which no one, with the exception of Sriyut Munshi, has taken any active part in the struggle for our country’s freedom’... ‘We learn how our polity in ancient times was securely built on village communities which were autonomous and self-contained; and that is why our civilisation has survived through all these ages’.
He went on “The entire ethos of the proposed system was different from what was expected by the people …We demanded the music of Veena or Sitar, but here we have the music of an English Band. That was because our Constitution-makers were educated that way. I do not blame them rather, I would blame those people, or those of us, who entrusted them with this kind of work”… “If that is going to be our attitude towards the village folks, I can only say, God save us.”
In fact, during the freedom struggle village republic had become a symbol of revolt against the centralised polity i.e. State, against the formal system, which in the modern age has stripped the individual and rendered him/her defenceless and it was visualised as the only frame in which the ordinary people can be on their own, can feel and realise their own potential and engender a milieu behoving the human society with family and its neighbouring community as its strength to stand by, many opined.
Bowing to the sharp criticism of the members, the official side took to the only known stratagem available to them that there is no time left to redraft the constitution in the true spirit of freedom movement and promised a heaven in future. For the present Article 40 was inserted instead to mollify the raised tempers. On behalf of the government, Jawahar lal Nehru claimed that there is no permanence in constitutions,’…the Constitution will also grow! By now it is clear that the undertaking proved to be a poor consolation on the subject, indeed.
There was a third category that did not bite the bait. One of them Seth Damodar Swarup castigated it saying that this constitution ‘may even be the Magna Charta for capitalists of India, but so far as the poor and the tens of millions of toiling, starving and naked masses of India are concerned, there is nothing in it’. He quoted another member from Congress Shankarrao Deo to say that this constitution is bound to to be rejected if a referendum is taken.
The framers of this constitution at best represent 14 per cent of the Indian masses. This is the bitter fact. (We) have failed to fulfil our duty for which we had assembled here due to various reasons and causes such as party politics… this Constitution does not deserve to be passed. We should reject this Constitution (Vo. XI, p.694) ‘ ‘declared that the dynamics of what is laid down may not allow the hope to materialise and argued that the wish for a healthy growth of the constitution is misplaced. The dynamics of what has been released with the adoption of its philosophy will ultimately assert against the wish.
We know, the Constitution of India did grow but in the opposite direction of what was desired then by the members. The danger inherent in providing a philosophical basis in individualism to the Constitution was not realised by anyone so seriously and hence not contested. That is what exactly happened at the cost of a heavy price for the generations to bear.
And, now the protagonists of individual freedom are citing the same imperfect document to be so sacrosanct as to decry the Khaps on this very account! This is at least a very shallow basis to argue their case for demolishing the valuable institution like Khap. The truth about ‘rule of law’ is more ludicrous to argue against rural community practices. Law is what the rulers decide and thrust on the unwilling people. Mostly they are ignorant about the law adopted in their name. To make such laws as litmus test to judge legitimacy of Khaps is atrocious indeed. If rural India insists to follow its own traditions and customs, more so in relation to family affairs, no one can reasonably argue it otherwise.
However, the most intriguing aspect of this campaign against Khaps and Gotra Khaps is the ridicule these crusaders heap on the concept of ‘Bhaichara’. For them the concept is totally irrelevant and alien today. Yes, Bhaichara is irrelevant for a world having capital as its first God to live by. For them, capital has replaced man for survival, placing ‘Bhaichara’ as superfluous. There is nothing unexpected in this abnormal situation where India is involved in a desperate contest between one culture of family-labour mainly represented by rural India and individual-labour based Industrial culture for dominance. While Industrial culture loves leg-pulling and cut-throat market instincts, rural life survives on Bhaichara! Two are incompatibles. It is a war between these two distinct world of cultures that feverishly contest for supremacy in India.
One can understand the dichotomy of the situation: to make their world of leg-pulling and cut-throat market culture irretrievable. For it to happen, Bhaichara essentially has to go from the scene. But for rural India, who is to go by the only available strength of traditional farming with family labour at its core ‘Bhaichara’ is irreplaceable. Agriculture economy, including animal husbandry, will collapse the day the concept of ‘Bhaichara’ vanishes, specially in those parts of rural India where women are an indispensable component of family labour in agriculture. This is the reason why neighbourhood village is also essentially a part of ‘Bhaichara’ where respective boundaries merge at odd hours of day and night labour for agriculture operations. If the concept of ‘Brotherhood’ is gone, female labour specially will be vulnerable and cannot venture freely in the field – at odd hours. The working conditions demand the type of relationship Bhaichara represents. Bhaichara or family like relationship of mutual trust and confidence is not merely a sentimental outpouring with the villagers; it is born out of working conditions in their hearth and fields.
When there is a crusade to fight out Bhaichara reason exists: content that campaign for free love has taken sufficient roots among the rural youth by now courtesy their intense work of last two decades of liberal fancy for commercialisation of social life, community feeling among rural people perhaps is something as a hurdle still to move ahead in enticing the rural belt in commercialisation of women and youth in sex oriented ventures more openly and with speed for easy profit, including the highly paying sex and entertainment industries.
Many are ecstatic that the country is heading to a bright future with the collapse of feudal ‘bonds’, crusaders find still few hot heads as recalcitrant. To move ahead, they rule that such few should not be allowed to veto change. In a short while, people’s representative may be called upon to legislate in favour of this change and then other organs of state power like police and law courts may step in for stringent measures.. Here one assertion is essential to be made that mandated representatives cannot claim the right of a master and force change of dubious character and value. In all sensible understanding of the issue, the people themselves as real masters of their own destiny have to assert their right to command and stop such usurpers in their tracks.
Ostensibly, the country is set for turmoil not because there is something intrinsically bad with its organism, but for the wrong prescription that it is asked to breathe in. Neither the turmoil is asked for. It has been thrust upon the people for ulterior motives. One of the questions that disturb most is of direction itself the turmoil subtly aims at. So far India survived numerous onslaughts and upheavals in its troubled history on the strength of its social institutions.
It did not pass through such troublesome passages as the West did only because of its family and community mores. It is history. But the aim now is to dispense with these very institutions on spurious and untenable grounds. Can we afford it? The question begs dispassionate answer. The agenda and the prescription both do not evoke confidence of rationality.
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