When you sit down to write anything which is a part of History it becomes either more statistics loaded up or more of dry facts that is mostly uninteresting and to be truthful at times tedious and boring. It is very interesting on the part of the writer who presumes he is a part of history in making or is a dispassionate observer while being in the midst of all the happenings. The truth is when you are in midst of any happening you tend to take sides because somewhere your self interest guides you to make choices.
As a nascent country India grew up from 1947, when the country won Independence, to become the most populous democracy and perhaps the biggest democracy when the population is taken into account. Biggest challenges came along the way. People wrote off India from the very beginning as a country destined to fail. After two hundred years under British rule India proved more to itself then to anybody else that Churchill was wrong though he predicted that ‘If British left then entire gamut of public services created by them – the judicial, medical, railway and public works departments – would perish, and India will fall back quite rapidly through the centuries into the barbarism and privations of the Middle Ages.’ His prophecy did not come true and 15 general election have already taken place. Most interestingly the Universal Adult franchise is for anybody over the age of 18 can vote. There have been coalition Governments for nearly last two decades and despite having dominant Hindu population India is a secular country with minimum communal tension. We have one of the biggest written constitution. Despite repeated predictions that this country will break up into small pieces as we have different languages, almost 20 different languages in different states yet we have UNITY in DIVERSITY.
What is interesting that India there are so many people who have been discriminated against for ages that there is herculean task for the planners of this country to bring in equal rights. We have progressed with substantial reservations for the backward castes. Now one has to understand what caste is? Caste was initially perhaps a division of labour which helped people excel in their chosen field. This morphed into stratification of society into classes which had exclusive rights over the centuries. This led to lower castes to be trodden upon and stifled to a corner where they lived a life just better then animals but not as human. Constitutional rights was given to these lower castes so that they come up. Caste politics became a part of the country’s political system. Lowest castes which are known as Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes benefited but some were still left behind. A commission was appointed to look into it and suggest the way out. It looked into 3743 castes and gave an estimate that nearly 50% of Indian population fell in this group and were very poorly represented in the administration.
Here is where our story begins. This commission was known as Mandal Commission and when its report was accepted for implementation all hell broke loose. Arguments were conducted in newspapers and courts and spilled onto streets. on 19th September one Delhi University student tried to self immolate and this led many more attempts. There were near riots that prevailed in many cities and I still remember that the train I was traveling was attacked by upper caste people. They stopped the train in the midst of two stations and started abusing anyone they thought was from the lower caste. They would listen to no reason and shout at the top of their voices threatening to to do the worst but left all of us unharmed. Initially stunned and then bit unnerved many of us were left trembling in our seats but soon order was restored.
Next General election proved the metal of Indian democracy and the report which was adopted helped these backward groups came up and claimed their rightful place. Once again showing that despite all the fear regarding failure of democracy it is democracy that wins, freedom that wins. History was made and a fault that lay in the society corrected despite churning and upheavals associated with it.