Rhinos proliferate in Gorumara park

A census held earlier this month has revealed that there are about 50 rhinoceros at the Gorumara National Park in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district, the highest number in over 100 years, forest officials said.

“During the census we found that the number of rhinoceros has increased to 50. It is encouraging as the number is the highest in the Gorumara National Park and the adjoining areas over the past 100 years. Our efforts of conservation have paid off,” N C Bahuguna, State’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, (Wildlife) told The Hindu on Wednesday.

The number as per the census in 2012 was about 40, he said.

Mr. Bahuguna said that, interestingly, rhinoceros were located in areas outside the Gorumara National Park, in forests of Baikunthpur and Chapramari in the State’s Jalpaiguri district.

Other than Gorumara, the Jaldapara National Park in the district has a large rhino habitat in the State – about 180, the second largest habitat one-horned rhinoceros in the country after Kaziranga National Park in Assam.

“While Assam has one success story, we in the West Bengal have two success stories at Jaldapara and Gorumara,” Mr. Bahuguna said, adding that no unnatural death of rhinoceros was reported from the forest reserves of the State over the past two years.

The only concern of forest officials is the skewed ratio of male-female rhinos in the area. Ideally there should be three female rhinoceros for a male rhinoceros. In the census carried out in 2012, there were 14 adults and 11 females, and the rest included sub-adult males, females and calves. The male-female population during this census is yet to be determined.

The two-day census exercise , conducted by the State Forest department earlier this month, focused on direct sightings of the animal in about 110 sq. km area, which includes the national park as well.Poaching a threat

The Kaziranga National Park recorded an increase of 39 rhinos in 2013 after losing about 125 of them to poaching, high flood and natural death between January 2012 and March 26, 2013, when the last two-day census was concluded in the park.

In 2013 Census, 2,329 rhinos were counted at KNP, a world heritage site and famous for one-horned rhinos. In 2012, Kaziranga, which has the world’s largest one-horned rhino population, recorded 2,290 rhinos.

The last rhino census for the entire state of Assam was conducted in 2012 and the total rhino population in the state was found to be 2329, an increase of 304 rhinos over 2009 population. The rhino census is conducted every three years. However, in Kaziranga a special census was taken up in 2013 in view of spurt in poaching and high flood.

Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, who is the chair of the IUCN Asian Rhino Specialist Group and Secretary General of Aaranyak, a society for biodiversity conservation told The Hindu: “While the increase of rhino population in the State is certainly encouraging, unabated poaching is a matter of serious concern. This year, the poachers have killed 12 rhinos since January. Beside poaching some long-term threat like growth in invading species resulting in fodder crisis for rhinos in Kaziranga needs special and urgent intervention.” He said under India Rhino Vision Programme 2020, aimed at aimed at increasing the total population to 3,000 by 2020, 18 rhinos were translocated to Manas National Park — 10 from the Pabitora wildlife sanctuary and eight from Kaziranga since the programme began in 2008

Controlling blast infestation in rice

Blast infestation in rice has been reported from many places of Andhra
Pradesh State. In Telangana, Andhra and Rayalaseema zones, the disease
has been reported to an extent of 10-20 per cent during this season.
There are broadly three types of blast. The first is called as leaf
blast. Infested crop leaves exhibit spindle shaped spots with brown
margin and grey dots.

This type has been prevalent in Warangal, Karimnagar, Khammam, Krishna,
East Godavari, West Godavari, Nellore, Srikakulum and other districts of
Andhra Pradesh for the last few weeks.
Node blast
The second type is node blast. Caused by a fungus, the symptoms are crop turning black in colour and panicles breaking easily.
The third type is called neck blast. This starts during panicle
emergence initiation of the crop period. The neck region is blackened
and shrivelled. Grain set in ears is completely or partially inhibited.
Out of the three, neck blast is more severe and results in yield losses to a great extent.
Favourable environmental factors such as prolonged dry periods, cool
nights, low night temperature, high relative humidity, cloudy, drizzling
weather and high nitrogen supply increase all the three disease

— Healthy disease free seeds alone should be used for sowing.

—Use disease resistant or tolerant rice cultivars
—Seed treatment with tricyclozole 75 WP at 2.0 g or carbendazim at 1.0g
per kg seed as wet seed treatment or carbendazim at 3.0 g per kg as dry
seed treatment.
— Seeds should not be collected from infested fields.
— Remove weeds and collateral hosts from field and bunds. Balanced fertillizer application is a must.
— At the time of harvesting, infested plants should be removed and destroyed.
—Field bunds and irrigation channels should be kept clean. Avoid excess application of nitrogenous fertilizers.
Spraying of fungicides like tricyclozole 75 WP at 0.6 g or
isoprothiolane 40EC at 1.5 ml or kasugamycin 3 L at 2.5 ml will be more

Using bio fuel to run an irrigation pump for five acres

Special Arrangment
The bio fuel powered water pump emits less smoke than a conventional one.
At a time when farmers in Tamil Nadu are facing a big problem in
cultivation due to frequent load shedding, a farmer, Mr. Mr. C.
Rajasekaran, from Vettaikaran Irruppu of Kilvelur taluk in Nagappattinam
district does not seem to worry much.
The reason is not far to seek — he is using oil from Punnai (Tamil name) tree seeds (Calophyllum inophyllum) to operate his five hp motor pump for irrigating his five acres.

His garden, which was once considered to be unfit for any cultivation,
since the soil became barren after the tsunami struck, is now home to
nearly 35 different tree varieties. Mango, Guavas, Lime, Teak, Cashew,
amla, tamarind, and jack are all flourishing well today in what was once
considered a wasteland.
Well known

While the farmer says that he was able to turn the land fertile only
through organic practices, he is well known in the region for
propagating the usefulness of punnai seeds.

“If a farmer has two punnai trees on his land, he can reduce the diesel
cost considerably. I run the motor for about five months using the oil
during summer,” he says.
The tree grows well in coastal regions. Cattle or goats do not eat the leaves thus making it easier for a farmer to grow it.
Capable of growing in any type of soil it can withstand heavy winds and produce seeds within five years after planting.
“A farmer can get four to 20 kg of seeds a year from a five year old
tree. After 10 years, a tree will yield 10 – 60 kg in a year and the
seed yield will be on the increase as the trees grow older. From my
experience, a 25 year-old tree yields a minimum of 300 kg and a maximum
of 500 kg of seeds,” says Mr. Rajasekaran.
The trees attract lot of honey bees and bats. While the bees help to
pollinate the bats eat the fruits and the seeds scatter all over the
area through their droppings.

“My daily job in the morning is to collect the seeds and dry them for a
week, after which they are broken open to expose the kernel. The kernel
is further dried for 10 days before oil extraction,” he adds.

From one kg of seed kernel about 750 to 800 ml of oil can be extracted
and the cost of producing a litre of oil works out to Rs.10.
“I operate the pump only during summer, for about five months in a year
to be precise and for that my requirement is 600 ml of oil for an hour
every day. Previously while using diesel my requirement was 900 ml for
the same duration of time.
In a year I am able to get 75 litres. The surplus oil is sold to other
farmers at Rs. 42 a litre. After extracting the oil, the cake is used as
manure for crops,” he explains.
No problem

According to the farmer there is no rust formation in the engine and it
emits little noise during operation. For the last four years he has been
using this oil to run his motor and till date seems to have not faced
any problem with the engine.

“I find there is no remarkable difference between a punnai oil and
diesel run five Hp motor engine. Both pump 750ml of water in a minute.
In fact the engine running on the oil emits less smoke unlike the diesel
operated one,” he says.
Unlike casuarina or teak, punnai trees are not normally planted by
farmers. The few trees found in some places have been growing there for
years similar to the palm trees one finds on the rural roadside.

“But the benefits from the tree are quite remarkable in terms of bio
energy. It is the job of the state Agriculture University and Government
to popularise this tree among farmers and encourage them to plant it.

“If done, in two years or at most in another 10 years we might not face
the same power problem we are facing now if all our farmers become aware
about this tree he says,” with a smile.
Every day his farm draws several visitors who are eager to know more about the oil and its use for their machines.

Was dark matter observed in Kolar Gold Field experiments?

The unusual events, which were detected in a long, 2.3 km deep tunnel, occurred during both the phases — 1960s-70s, and 1980s

The handful of unusual events observed in the underground experiments at
the Kolar Gold Field (KGF) mines during the 1960-70s and the 1980s,
which have remained unexplained to this day, may have been due to the
decays of hitherto unseen Dark Matter (DM) particles.
This interesting hypothesis has been put forward by Profs. G.
Rajasekaran and M. V. N. Murthy of the Institute of Mathematical
Sciences (IMSc), Chennai, in a paper published in the latest issue of
the physics journal Pramana.

While at that time the events were interpreted to be perhaps due to the
decay of a massive unknown particle, subsequent accelerator experiments
at CERN in Europe and Fermilab in the U.S. did not find evidence for any
such massive particle. Also, the currently highly successful Standard
Model of elementary particles, bolstered by the discovery of the Higgs
particle in 2012, cannot accommodate such a massive particle.
The postulate of DM was put forward to account for the extreme
velocities with which galaxies and clusters of galaxies are observed to
be rotating that the gravity generated by their observable matter alone
cannot explain. At such speeds they should have been torn apart long
ago. It is believed that something that cannot be seen directly with
light (electromagnetic radiation, in general) — and hence the name — is
providing that extra mass, generating the extra gravity, needed to hold
them together.
DM dominates the matter in the universe, outweighing all the visible
matter by nearly six times, but its existence can be inferred only from
the gravitational effect it seems to have on visible matter. Though
existence of DM is now accepted, and it is all around us with varying
densities, its nature has remained a mystery and various candidate DM
particles have been proposed.
However, DM as a possible source of the ‘Kolar events’ was never
considered until now perhaps because the concept of DM was yet to become
of mainstream physics discussions at that time. The recent claim by the
DM search experiment called CDMSII of possible evidence of a DM
particle with a mass of 5-10 GeV (in energy units) has provided the
motivation for the IMSc scientists to revisit the ‘Kolar events’ from a
DM perspective.
The KGF experiments, which were sponsored by the Tata Institute of
Fundamental Research (TIFR), were carried out in two phases. The first
phase experiments, during the 1960s-70s, studied cosmic ray neutrino
interactions and the second, during the 1980s, studied proton decay and
set limits on proton’s lifetime. The unusual events, which were detected
in a long tunnel at a depth of 2.3 km, were seen during both the
While, in principle, such events could be produced by cosmic ray
neutrinos (or antineutrinos) interacting with air molecules in the gap
between the rock wall and the detectors, the large number seen could not
be explained by known processes. Standard processes due to neutrinos or
muons would only produce such events with a probability of less than
one in 100 years. Here one was seeing eight such events (5 in the first
phase and 3 in the second) in about as many years.
Instead of the early interpretation of cosmic ray neutrinos interacting
with the surrounding rock and producing a massive particle which
subsequently decayed to give rise to these anomalous events, the authors
interpret the events to have been caused by the decay of a neutral DM
particle with a mass of about 5-10 GeV and with a lifetime of the order
of the lifetime of the universe (about 1010 years or 10 billion years).
The CDMSII experiment recently observed three events, which have been
interpreted to be due to a DM particle with a mass of 8.2 GeV. This
falls within the range that the IMSc scientists require for their
interpretation. It may, however, be pointed out that the jury on this
claim is still out as another DM search experiment LUX has not seen any
evidence so far.
Arguing that not much attention has been paid to decaying DM particles,
they choose a model that has both stable and unstable DM particles.
This gives them a DM particle lifetime of 1010 years as against the generally accepted value of greater than 1011 years. Using an appropriate detection volume of 1010 cm3 (from the known dimensions of the tunnel) and a DM density of 1 particle/cm3, they get a value for the rate of events that matches with the rate observed at Kolar.
“It is miraculous that such a crude estimate gives remarkable agreement.
So there could be some truth in our speculation,” points out
Rajasekaran. They, however, recognise that, if the lifetime is greater,
or if the density is an order of magnitude smaller, DM could not have
caused any Kolar event, as some critics of this work have also noted.
“Quibbling about these values does not make much sense when we know
nothing about the nature of DM. All estimates are, after all,
guesstimates. All we are saying is that, if our speculation is correct,
it solves two problems in one stroke: explaining the anomalous Kolar
events and observation of DM,” he adds.
“Independent of the Kolar events and their interpretation, any large
underground detector must be in a position to see the decays of an
unstable DM particle,” says the paper.
Neutrino experiments such as OPERA and MINOS, where the detector is
similar to KGF, are well suited to look for such decays, they note. But,
more importantly, the paper highlights the importance of considering DM
decays in the analyses of experimental data. “Non-observation of decays
may be used to set limits on [DM particle] lifetime,” the paper

Financial Inclusion : Meaning, Problems & Measures

Financial Inclusion: Meaning and Barriers

Definition: Financial inclusion is delivery of banking services at an
affordable cost to the vast sections of disadvantaged and low income

text2mindmap (2)

Advantages of Financial Inclusion:
  • Turns savings into investment
  • Financial Security of family
  • Income inequality falls
  • Boosts GDP.
  • Investment in Agri and allied activities
  • Protection from money lenders and Ponzi schemes
  • Women empowerment etc. etc.

Steps Taken By Government towards Financial Inclusion


(click image for full screen)

These Steps may have introduced lot of new terms to you, so lets take a look at these measures in detail!

No-Frills’ Account :
    • In the Mid Term Review of the Policy (2005-06), RBI exhorted the
      banks to make available a basic banking ‘no frills’ ( frill=unnecessary
      features) account
    • either with ‘NIL’ or very minimum balances
    • With charges that would make such accounts accessible to vast sections of the population.
    • The nature and number of transactions in such accounts would be
      restricted and made known to customers in advance in a transparent
‘Simplification of ‘Know Your Customer (KYC)’ Norms :
    • Enable those belonging to low income groups without documents of identity and proof of residence to open banks accounts.
    • In such cases banks can take introduction from an account holder on
      whom full KYC procedure has been completed and has had satisfactory
      transactions with the bank for at least six months.
    • Some upper cap on deposits and credit is there.
Ensuring reasonableness of bank charges :
    • RBI has issued instructions to banks making it obligatory for them
      to display and continue to keep updated, in their offices/branches as
      also in their website, the details of various services charges in a
      format prescribed by it.
White Label ATMs
  • Doesn’t have such Bank logo, hence called White label ATMs.
  • RBI has given license / permission to non-bank entities to open such ATMs
  • Sponsor bank : provides the cash
  • White Label ATM company : Rents the place, looks after maintenance and servicing of the machine
  • RBI requires White label-ATM companies to install machines in the
    ratio of à Two ATMs in (tier 3 to 6 place) : One ATM in (tier 1-2
    place). (tier 2 means above 50,000 population )
  • Value added services like mobile recharge, utility bill payments etc also available
  • value added services plus Selling advertisement space in the room and above the door lead to revenue generation
Business Correspondent (BC) System
  • Business correspondents are bank representatives.
  • They help villagers to open bank accounts.
  • They help villagers in banking transactions. (deposit money, take money out of savings account, loans etc.)
  • The Business Correspondent carries a mobile device.
  • The villager gives his thumb impression or electronic signature, and gets the money.
  • Business Correspondents get commission from bank for every new
    account opened, every transection made via them, every loan-application
    processed etc.
  • NGOs, SHGs,MFIs,Post Offices, Insurance agents, Panchayats, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) etc. can become BC or banks
  • FINO, India’s largest Business Correspondents company
  • FINO=Financial Inclusion Network and Operations (FINO).
  • It is promoted by various Public and Private sector banks and insurance companies like LIC
Swabhiman Project
  • Initiative by the Finance Ministry + Indian Banks’ Association
  • launched in 2011
  • Make banking facilities available to every habitat with a population >2000 (by March 2012.)
  • Banks will provide basic services like deposits, withdrawal, Kisan
    Credit Card (KCCs) etc via Business Correspondents (BCs) also known as
    Bank Saathi..
  • Government will send subsidies and social security benefits (pension etc.) directly to beneficiary’s account.
Background Information (CREDITS)
  • to increase flow of credit to individuals for entrepreneurial activity in the non-farm sector
  • All Credit Card (e.g. Artisan Credit Card, Laghu Udyami Card,
    Swarojgar Credit Card, and Weaver’s Card etc.) catering to the non-farm
    entrepreneurial credit needs of individuals are covered by General
    Credit Card Scheme.
  • the consumption credit extended to individuals is not be reported under GCC
  • implemented by Commercial Banks , RRBs , and Cooperative
What Are the benefits of KCC:
  • It follows a simplified procedure for credit to farmers, a large number of whom are illiterate or poorly educated;
  • There is no need to apply for loan every year as KCC provides the
    farmers with a credit facility on ongoing basis or revolving credits;
  • This allows the farmers to buy seeds, fertilizers and other inputs as per his needs;
  • Repayment is allowed after harvest period and thus farmer finds it easier to settle the loan by selling his produce;
  • There is a flexibility of drawal of funds from any branch even when he has gone to town for purchase of agricultural inputs
  • Farmers – Individuals/Joint borrowers (owner cultivators)
  • Tenant Farmers, Oral Lessees & Share Croppers
  • SHGs or Joint Liability Groups of Farmers including tenant farmers, share croppers etc.
What are the Benefits to Banks
  1. Work load of rural branches is considerably reduced as there is no need for repeated appraisal and processing of loan papers
  2. Simplification of documentation and disbursement procedure.
  3. Reduction in transaction cost to the banks.
  4. Better Banker – Client relationships
Background (Insurance)
Agricultural Insurance
  • National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS): By Agriculture Insurance Company of India Ltd.
  • Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme: to insure farmers against adverse weather incidence
Aam Admi Bima Yojna
  • landless agricultural families + those involved in 46 other trades
    including beedi workers, carpenters, cobblers, fishermen, weavers,
    persons with disability employed in different sectors, sweepers,
    drivers, anganwadi teachers and members of self-help groups — insurance
    benefits under this scheme.
  • Besides providing a life cover of Rs. 30,000 for natural death, Rs.
    75,000 amount would be paid to the family in case of death due to
  • If the person covered under the insurance becomes partially
    disabled, he will be paid Rs. 37,500 as insurance amount and if the
    victim becomes fully disabled he will be paid Rs. 75,000.
  • For children : Also, two children in his family will be paid Rs. 100 a month as scholarship.
  • Janashree Bima Yojana(launched 2000) was merged with Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana(launched 2007)
Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna
  • Every “below poverty line” (BPL) family holding a yellow ration card
    pays INR registration fee to get a biometric-enabled smart card
    containing their fingerprints and photographs.
  • This enables them to receive inpatient medical care of up to INR 30, per family per year in any of the empanelled hospitals.
  • Pre-existing illnesses are covered from day one, for head of household, spouse and up to three dependent children or parents
  • The scheme started enrolling on April 1, 2008
Rajiv Gandhi Shilpi Swasthya Bima Yojana
  • Comprehensive health insurance scheme for the handicraft artisans across the country.
Post office
  • Has tied up with LIC – offering many insurance schemes like Gram Surakha, Suvidha, Sumangal etc.
Background (Investment)
Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme (RGESS)
  • Tax saving scheme.
  • To attract more people to invest in securities market.
  • annual income must be below 12 lakh
  • This must be your first investment in securities market
  • Money locked in for 3 years
  • You must purchase approved shares/mutual funds only.
  • For investment upto Rs.50000, you get 50% deduction in income tax.
  • You don’t have to pay tax on dividends paid by the company.

GSLV Mark III ready for mission

The core second stage of GSLV-Mk III, with 110 tonnes of liquid propellants,
just before it was flagged off on Friday from the Liquid Propulsion Systems
Centre (LPSC), Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu. Photo: LSPC, ISRO

The core second stage of GSLV-Mk III, with 110 tonnes of liquid propellants,
just before it was flagged off on Friday from the Liquid Propulsion Systems
Centre (LPSC), Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu. Photo: LSPC, ISRO

India took the first step on Friday towards the liftoff
of the experimental mission of its gigantic Geo-synchronous Satellite
Launch Vehicle-Mark III when the rocket’s core stage, weighing more than
110 tonnes, was flagged off from the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre,
Mahendragiri, near Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu, to Sriharikota in Andhra
Pradesh. The significance of the mission is that it will be a forerunner
to India sending its astronauts to space. For, the GSLV-Mk III in this
flight will carry a crew capsule without astronauts. The capsule will
return to earth with the help of parachutes. The mission will take place
in June or first week of July.
The Indian Space
Research Organisation calls its mission to send Indian astronauts to
space the Human Space Flight (HSF) programme.
Radhakrishnan, Chairman, ISRO, said the crew capsule will weigh 3.5
tonnes. It will carry no astronauts, he stressed. It was a replica of
the crew module that would be put into orbit in a real mission. “The
module is undergoing structural engineering tests” at the Vikram
Sarabhai Space Centre, Dr. Radhakrishnan said.
Dathan, Director, LPSC, emphasised that it will be an experimental
mission. The rocket will do a sub-orbital flight, that is, reach an
altitude of less than 100 km. Its upper cryogenic stage will not fire.
It is “a passive flight,” Mr. Dathan said. Instead of cryogenic
propellants, the cryogenic stage would carry liquid nitrogen, which
would be inert.
GSLV-Mk III is the “muscular
sibling” of GSLV-Mk II which has an indigenous cryogenic engine. GSLV-Mk
III can put a communication satellite weighing four tonnes into
geo-synchronous transfer orbit or a 10-tonne satellite into low-earth
Mr. Dathan said GSLV-Mk III’s core stage was
flagged off from Mahendragiri on Friday. It would reach Sriharikota on
Sunday evening. It will be married up with the other stages there.
assembling of one booster stage, weighing more than 200 tonnes, has
already been completed at Sriharikota. The assembly of another booster
stage is under way.”

Economic growth has done little to reduce child under-nutrition

Data taken from 121 health surveys and 36 countries has been analysed

growth has little or no effect on the nutritional status of the world’s
poorest children, finds a study jointly conducted by various
The study was based on child growth patterns in 36 developing countries
and has found that economic growth in these countries was associated
with small or no declines in stunting, underweight, and wasting—all
signs of under-nutrition. 

“These findings represent a potentially major shift in how we think
about policies to reduce child under-nutrition,” said S V Subramanian,
senior author and professor of population health and geography at
Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). “They emphasise that focusing on
improving economic growth does not necessarily translate to child
health gains.” 

The research, published in journal The Lancet, was conducted by
experts from HSPH, University of Göttingen, Germany, ETH Zürich,
Switzerland, and the Indian Institute of Technology-Gandhinagar. They
analysed data from nationally representative samples of children under
three years of age, taken from 121 Demographic and Health surveys,
conducted in the identified countries between 1990 and 2011. They
measured the effect of changes in per-head gross domestic product (GDP)
on changes in stunting, underweight, and wasting.

For individual children, a 5 per cent increase in per-head GDP was
associated with a very small reduction in the odds of being stunted (0.4
per cent), underweight (1.1 per cent), or wasted (1.7 per cent). “These
findings represent a potentially major shift in how we think about
policies to reduce child under-nutrition,” says Subramanian.

In their report, experts have cited reasons like unequal distribution
of growth in incomes and insufficient expenditure by households on
enhancing nutritional status of children as reasons behind the weak
association between economic growth and reductions in child
under-nutrition. Inadequate improvements in public services like health
and clean water may be other reasons, the researchers say. Growth in
incomes could be unequally distributed, with poor people excluded from
the benefits. And in households where there was increased prosperity,
money might not necessarily be spent in ways that enhance the
nutritional status of children.

“Our study does not imply that economic development is not important
in a general sense but cautions policymakers about relying solely on the
trickle-down effects of economic growth on child nutrition,” said
Sebastian Vollmer, assistant professor of development economics at the
University of Göttingen, adjunct assistant professor of global health at
HSPH, and lead author of the study.

According to authors of the study, a more systematic and rigorous
analysis of what specific health-related interventions would yield the
greatest return remains to be carried out.

A disturbing G7 decision

The March 24 decision
by seven major industrial countries (the G7) to suspend Russia from the
informal grouping called the G8 is not surprising in view of Russia’s
annexation of the Ukrainian province of Crimea. Specifically, the G7
announced in what it called the Hague Declaration — made on the
sidelines of the global Nuclear Security Summit — that it would not
attend the forthcoming G8 summit in Sochi and would instead meet as the
G7 in Brussels; it has also threatened

“co-ordinated sectoral sanctions”
if Moscow continues to “escalate this situation.” Russia has been a G8
participant since 1998, under a general plan to strengthen East-West
relations. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had earlier shrugged
off the possibility of expulsion, pointing out that as the G8 has no
formal membership no country can be expelled from it; in addition, the
Ukrainian embassy in the Netherlands has reported Mr. Lavrov as saying
Russia had no intention of using military force in eastern and southern
Ukraine, and that if the situation worsens, Ukrainian-Russian contacts
will occur at the foreign ministry and defence ministry levels.

The G7 decision is, however, open to exploitation. To start with, the G7
has apparently accepted the appointment of many Ukrainian ministers
with neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic backgrounds. Secondly, NATO has asserted
that Russia plans a Crimea-type move for the autonomous Moldovan
territorial unit of Transnistria, where Russian is the official language
and the most widely used one; Moscow rejected a 2006 poll there showing
that 96 per cent of the population favoured joining Russia. NATO,
needless to say, has often tried to justify its own existence since the
Soviet Union collapsed; the Warsaw Treaty Organisation (the Warsaw Pact)
had a 2004 dissolution date, but NATO has no such limit. Western
militaries and arms manufacturers also stand to benefit from another
Cold War. Former British Chief of Staff Lord Dannatt has called for a
new brigade of 3,000 troops to be sent to Germany, while current plans
are to remove all 20,000 such troops from that deployment, which dates
from 1945. Given that European Union countries buy Russian oil and
natural gas for hard currency, anti-Russian sanctions mean that western
oil corporations will welcome British Prime Minister David Cameron’s
immediate call for more fracking, which is a highly controversial
activity in his country. Financial bodies, nevertheless, may not like
sanctions; Visa and MasterCard have resumed services to customers of
Russia’s SMP Bank. The G7 move, in sum, is less principled than it might
look, and western legislatures must scrutinise their respective
executives closely over their handling of the Ukraine crisis.

Gandhi-Ambedkar Interface …when shall the twain meet?

Gandhian and Ambedkarian discourses are not antithetical. Both are concerned with the issue of emancipation. At present when the legitimacy of the emancipatory discourse is being challenged and the dominant discourse upholds capitalism, it is all the more essential to broaden the scope of Gandhian and Ambedkarian discourses. 
Suhas Palshikar (suhaspalshikar@gmail.com) is the Director of Lokniti and teaches at the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Pune. 

This article was published in 3 August, 1996
issue of EPW. We are re-publishing this article to encourage debate in
light of the recent discussions around Ambedkar and Gandhi.

Gandhi and Ambedkar would have agreed an as many issues as they would
have disagreed upon. They could not find much ground for co-operation
and collaboration. In popular perception – and in the perception of many
of their followers too-they remained opponents. Both indulged in verbal
duels in order to expose the weaknesses of each other’s thought and
actions. This legacy could never be abandoned by the Ambedkaiite
political movement even after the 1950s. The disappearance of both
personalities from the social scene, and a change in the political
context have not altered the standardised positioning of the two as each
other’s enemies. Against this background it is proposed to enquire into
the differences in the discourses of Gandhi and Ambedkar.
Two general points may be noted before we proceed to a discussion of
the relationship between the Gandhian discourse and the Ambedkarian
discourse. Movements for social transformation are based on emancipatory
ideologies. At the present juncture in the Indian society we find that
movements for social transformation are weak and localised. Further, the
dominant discourse today does not believe in the project of
emancipation. In this context it becomes necessary to tap the
possibilities of realignment of emancipatory ideologies. It would be
inadvisable to be persuaded by the exclusivist claims of any ideology to
the project of emancipation.
Secondly, personality clashes need not be the decisive factor in the
assessment of thought. Also, we need to accept that immediate political
interests of Gandhi and Ambedkar clashed. Ambedkar began his political
career as leader of the untouchables and continued to claim to be the
authentic representative of the untouchable community. Gandhi, on the
other hand, appeared to be denying the existence of separate interests
of untouchables in the context of the freedom struggle. Ambekdar was
always suspicious of the social content of freedom struggle and believed
that Gandhi was not adequately sensitive to this. Since Gandhi was at
the helm of the freedom struggle, Ambedkar thought it necessary to
position itself against Gandhi. Given these historical circumstances, is
it necessary that we sit in judgment to decide the case in favour of
either Gandhi or Ambedkar?
The present note proceeds with the assumption that Gandhi-Ambedkar
clashes resulted from their personalities, as well as their respective
positioning in the contemporary political contexts. However, beyond
these clashes and differences of assessment of contemporary politics,
there exists some ground where the agenda of Gandhi and Ambedkar might
actually be complementary. To realise this, it is necessary to throw
away the burden of proving whose political position was correct or
The question of separate electorates for untouchables is a case in
point. Was Gandhi wrong in opposing separate electorate for
untouchables? Was he wrong in forcing Ambedkar into acquiescence through
the fast? I would tend to argue that such questions are largely
irrelevant given the fact that ‘separate electorates’ do not form the
core of Ambedkar’s thought, in other words, Gandhi-Ambedkar relationship
needs to be probed in the context not of personalities or political
strategies, but in terms of their respective emancipatory projects.
Caste Question
The centrality of the caste question in Ambedkar’s thought cannot be
overemphasised. He believed that untouchability was an expression of
caste system. Therefore, Ambedkar chose to study the caste system and
critically analyse the justification it received from Hindu scriptures.
His thought does not deal merely with removal of untouchability which
was but one part of the anti-caste movement. He was also concerned with
the overall annihilation of caste. Gandhi, of course, was in favour of
abolition of caste- based discriminations. In personal conduct too, he
did not practise caste. But caste question does not occupy a place of
urgency in his thought. He tended to emphasise untouchability more than
the caste question. For Gandhi, untouchability formed the core of caste
system. Once untouchability was removed, there will be no caste system.
Gandhi was right in identifying untouchability as the most abhorring
expression of caste-based inequality and attendant inhumanity. But the
crucial question is, would caste disappear if untouchability is not
practised? If so, why should there be internal differentiation and
hierarchical separation among the touchable castes? Gandhi would argue
that untouchability stands tor everything ugly in the caste system and
therefore, it must go instantly. Extending this logic he could further
claim that untouchability could be fully and finally removed only when
caste-consciousness is removed. Removal of untouchability would thus
symbolically bury the caste system. In the light of development of
Gandhi’s views on the caste issue, there is no doubt about Gandhi’s
ultimate preparedness to abolish caste. And yet, caste question does not
become the core of Gandhi’s discourse.
Consequently, Gandhi did not extend the scope of satyagraha to caste
and caste-based inequality. Gandhi extended support to temple entry
movements but did not allow such movements to occupy centre-stage in his
movement. Similarly, Gandhi undertook fast to convince the Hindus of
the sinfulness of practising untouchability and exhorted people to
abolish the practice. But the philosophy of satyagraha does not
adequately answer the question of tackling injustices perpetrated by
one’s own society and sanc- tioned by religion. Satyagraha as a
political weapon is adequately demonstrated by Gandhi’s thought and
practice. But it satyagraha is to become a moral purifier what kind of a
struggle is necessary against untouchability and caste? In the case of
untouchability, Gandhi could argue that the responsibility of removing
untouchability lies with the caste Hindus. Hence the reference to sin
and penance. However, as Ambedkar put it squarely, untouchability exists
as a stigma on the body of the untouchables. As the ones suffering from
injustice, how should the untouchables fight against their plight in
the Gandhian framework? Even it they were to offer satyagraha, how could
this act prick the conscience of caste Hindus who were under the
ideological spell of religious sanction to caste and who were getting
material advantages from the caste-based order? Apart from practising
untouchability, the caste society presents a number of other possible
sites of injustice where different caste groups may be located in
antagonistic situations. Gandhi’ s discourse does not direct
intellectual attention and political energies to the question of waging
struggle against the caste system and more importantly against caste
groups deriving advantages from the caste system, instead, Gandhi tends
to search possible areas of co-operation and integration of castes.
Therefore, he refuses to recognise caste divisions even at the
analytical level.
Gandhi’s constant appeals to caste Hindus not to practise
untouchability clearly indicate his awareness that one section of the
society was being treated unjustly by another; it was not a ‘personal’
relationship but a group relationship. Inspite of this division of
society at the empirical level, Gandhi refused to concede separate
political identity to untouchables through separate electorates. He
would allow ‘reservation of scats’ but the representational character of
those elected through reserved seats would not be ‘communal’, i e, not
as representatives of untouchables but as representatives of the general
electorate. Gandhi’s relative neglect of developing satyagraha against
caste probably derived from this position of not recognising the
political nature of social divisions.
Although he uses the term ‘harijan’ for untouchable ‘brethren’, Gandhi
stoutly refused to recognise that caste-based divisions could actually
be analytical categories for understanding the complex network of
structures of injustice in the Hindu society. Ambedkar draws the
distinction between untouchables and caste Hindus; he also suggests the
possibility of using the categories of savarna and avarna where the
latter would include untouchables and tribals, aborigines, etc. Before
him, Phule visualised the categorisation in terms of ‘dvij’ status
shudra- atishudra and ‘trivarniks’. The logic behind such categorisation
is to locate the main contradiction in the caste-ridden society, either
as varna or as ‘dvij’ status, While Gandhi would accept the empirical
reality of caste, he was not prepared to posit in it the ideological
basis of anti-caste struggle. Hence, his insistence on identifying the
untouchables as part of the Hindu fold. The relative unimportance of
caste question in the Gandhian discourse is prominently expressed in the
writings of almost all Gandhian intellectuals who tend to virtually
exclude the issue of caste from their expositions of Gandhism.
Bane of Capitalism
The Gandhian discourse evolved through and along with his struggles
against racism and colonialism. These struggles amply acquainted him
with the evil side of western society. Yet, Gandhi was not trapped in
formulating anti-west nationalism. He realised that the malady of the
west lay in its peculiar production process. The modern process of
production led to commodifica- tion and consequent degradation of human
character. Therefore. Gandhi directed his attention to the modern
lifestyle and the artificial generation of false materiality. The
transformation of human beings into consumers from producers was the
main step in the degeneration of human society.
In this sense the Gandhian discourse can be squarely situated in the
context of the problematique of capitalism. Although Gandhi rarely
attacked capitalism directly, his analysis of modern civilisation
unmistakably indicts capitalism. His assessment of the exploitative
nature of modern process of production, dehumanising effects of
consumerism and his overall assessment of the modern society do not make
sense unless understood as analysis of the capitalist social order.
Similarly, were not Gandhi demolishing the claims of capitalism, he
would not have given so much prominence to the ‘Daridranarayan’. His
entire project hinges upon the juxtaposition between ‘Daridranarayan’
and the satanical nature of capitalist enterprise. Gandhi’s advocacy of a
simple life, insistence on abnegation of wants, and swadeshi must be
seen as counterpoints to crass materiality and instrumental
interdependence nurtured by capitalism. In this sense, Gandhi’s swadeshi
calls for redefinition of the scope of material development and an
outright rejection of capitalism as the instrument of development. It
must be borne in mind that Gandhi was not opposed to modern civilisation
per se but as a social order based on capitalism.
Where does Ambedkar stand in relation to this Gandhian position,
regarding capitalism and modern civilisation? Two points arc striking in
this context. Firstly, for the most part of his political career,
Ambedkar did not employ his expertise in economics to his political
agenda. Secondly, his early economic treatises do not substantially
depart from the ideological position and standard wisdom prevalent in
economics during his time.
It may be said that the main concern of Ambedkar was to understand
sociologically the operation of caste system and to understand the
socio-religious justifications of the same. His political struggles, too
occurred on very different terrain from the economic. Thus, though he
was aware of the economic aspects of caste system he chose to
concentrate on the social, cultural, religious and political aspects of
caste. Besides, Ambedkar’s writings manifest a constant vacillation on
his part as far as assessment of modern capitalist economy is concerned.
For one thing, he was not persuaded by the soundness of communist
economics. For another, Ambedkar was wary of any alternative that would
tend to glorify or justify a semblance of the ‘old order’ in which caste
occupied a pivotal role. Thus, autonomous village communities, small
industry, mutual dependence, etc, were not appreciated by him for fear
of indirectly furthering caste interests. He might have looked upon
forces of modernity as cutting at the root of caste society and
therefore was not convinced of the ‘evils’ involved in modernity.
And yet it would be wrong to believe that Ambedkar upheld capitalism
uncritically. Not only was he critical of many aspects of capitalist
economy, Ambedkar was even prepared to reject it for a more egalitarian
and democratic system of production. Ambedkar has noted the political
fallout of capitalism, viz, sham democracy. He was not averse to a
search for alternative economic system although he did not devote his
energies to this project. Thus, Ambedkar would have no hesitation in
either taking up economic issues to the centre-stage of popular
struggles or in developing a critique of capitalism. But his emphasis on
caste question gave an impression that he had no sympathy for radical
economic agenda. Unfortunately, this resulted in many of his followers
literally seeing ‘red’ at the mention of economic issues! This has led
to a false dichotomisation between caste question and economic question.
Ambedkar’s speeches and Marathi writings suggest that he did not
subscribe to such dichotomisation. He was aware of the threat to
liberty, equality and fraternity not only from brahminism but from
capitalism also.
Perspectives on Tradition
It is interesting to sec how Gandhi and Ambedkar negotiate with
tradition. Gandhi engages in a creative dialogue with tradition. He
tries to find out the element of truth in tradition and emphasises it.
In many cases he attaches new meanings to traditional symbols. He gives
an impression that he is asking for nothing new in substance, but for
the continuation of the ‘old’ tradition. The secret of Gandhi’s ability
to arouse revolutionary potential among the masses lies partly in this
method of not claiming anything revolutionary, and in the appeal to the
conscience of the masses through tradition. For this purpose, he not
only chose popular traditional symbols but those symbols which have been
associated with truth and justice. Assuming the role of interpreter of
our ‘great tradition’ Gandhi takes the liberty of developing his own
normative framework on the basis of tradition.
Ambedkar, on the other hand, was in search of the ideology of
exploitation. He felt that tradition was this ideology. Injustice based
on caste could not have continued unless it was legitimised by
tradition. He also believed that the tradition of Hindu society was
predominated by brahminical interests. As such, he could not ignore the
role of tradition in situating caste as a moral code of Hindu society.
This prompted Ambedkar to take a critical view of the entire Hindu
(brahminical) tradition. It is also possible that Ambedkar realised the
role of tradition in the contemporary context. All reform was stalled
throughout the 19th century in the name of ‘our great tradition’ and its
correctness. Thus, it was not tradition but forces upholding tradition
that must have made Ambedkar a staunch critic of tradition. Yet did he
really forsake tradition in its entirety? Much of Ambedkar’s critical
attack on tradition was either directed against glorification of
brahminical tradition. It is possible to argue that Ambedkar was engaged
in demolishing the tradition of brahminism and rejected the vedic
ideological tradition. But he was not rejecting all traditions or else
how could he search in that same tradition the path of the dhamma? Nor
was he opposed to liberating traditions in the form of different sects.
He was complaining against a lack of adequate emancipatory space within
the traditional framework.
Tradition in an unequal society will always be caught between
crossfire. Inequality will be cogently placed as part of tradition and
tradition will be glorified as ‘anadi’, ‘sanatan’ and infallible. The
same heritage will be sought to be condemned for all sins of the
society. Gandhi, sensing the emotional power of tradition, appropriated
it in order to save it from chauvinist glorifications. But even an
appropriation of tradition requires a strong critique. Such critique is a
constant reminder that tradition may have the potential of aligning
with forces which perpetuate inequality. An all-round criticism of
tradition further sensitises us to the fact that in many cases tradition
actually gives credence to the system of exploitation. In other words,
the supporters of inequality are always comfortable under the aegis of
tradition. Thus, appropriation of tradition and employing it for
purposes of building a just society requires a strong will to reject
large parts of tradition and situating tradition in a different context
from the one historically associated with it. In this sense, Ambedkars
critical assessment of tradition provides a useful counterpoint to the
Gandhian attempt of appropriating tradition. And the Gandhian project
too, does not presuppose an uncritical appropriation of all tradition.
Meeting Ground
In a very general sense both Gandhi and Ambedkar strived to visualise a
community based on justice and fraternity. The Gandhian discourse
identities the elements of community in the form of love, non-violence,
dignity of human life and dignity of physical labour and a
non-exploitative process of production symbolised by rejection of greed.
From the vantage point of this vision of the community, Gandhian
discourse makes an assessment of colonial and capitalist reality. It
develops a trenchant critique of modernity. The Ambedkarian discourse
unfolds in a different manner. It commences from the critical evaluation
of Indian social reality. Therefore, it concentrates on Hindu social
order, its religious ideology and Hindu tradition. Thus, Ambedkar’s
discourse takes the form of critique of Hindu religion and society.
Ambedkar was constantly aware of the need to situate this critique on a
solid basis of communitarian vision. Although liberty, equality and
fraternity beckoned him constantly, Ambedkar transcends liberalism and
socialism to finally arrive at the conception of the dhamma.
The difference in the structures of their discourses notwithstanding,
Gandhi and Ambedkar thus came to share similar visions. Both believed
that social transformation could come about only by social action.
Therefore, they relied heavily on mobilising people against injustice.
Social action perceived by Gandhi and Ambedkar was democratic; it was in
the form of popular struggles. Gandhi many times appeared to be
favouring compromises and avoiding ‘conflict’. Ambedkar, too, is seen by
many (even his followers) as a supporter of non-agitational politics.
But the core of their politics as well as their position on social
action leave us in no doubt that Gandhi and Ambedkar not only pursued
popular struggles but they valued struggles as essential and enriching.
They did not visualise removal of injustice without struggles and
without popular participation. Further, Gandhi and Ambedkar would have
no difficulty in agreeing upon the value of non-violence.
The discourses of Gandhi and Ambedkar respect the materiality of human
life. Fulfilment of material needs, and a stable and enriched material
life are seen by both as forming the basis of human activity. Therefore,
they would not deny the legitimacy of the goal of providing material
basis to society. Moreover, Gandhi and Ambedkar have a striking
similarity in their views on morality. They believe moral values to be
eternal and necessary for co-ordinating material social life.
At the root of this similarity is the common conception of secular
religion. This conception rejected all rituals, bypassed the question of
existence of god and other world, and brought morality to the
centre-stage of discussion of religion. It is not a mere coincidence
that both Gandhi and Ambedkar should be treated as heretic by religious
orthodoxies of Hinduism and Buddhism, respectively. Both claim that
religion and scriptures need to be understood in the light of conscience
and morality. Wherever scriptures contradict conscience, religion
demands that conscience should be followed. In this sense they were
sceptical not only about scriptures, but ‘priestly authorities’ deciding
the meaning of scriptures. This view cut at the root of any notion of
an organised, closed religion. Gandhi and Ambedkar shift religion from
the realm of metaphysics and situate it onto the terrain of secular
matters such as truth, compassion, love, conscience, social
responsibility and enlightened sense of morality. Understood thus,
Gandhi’s sanatan dharma and Ambedkar’s dhamma do not confine to
individual and private pursuits of good life but operate as the moral
framework for social action. Religion becomes secular and part of the
‘public’ sphere. When the so-called religious people were busy counting
numbers, Gandhi and Ambedkar tried to turn religiosity of common man
into a force for social transformation.
Struggle for truth and non-violence has to incorporate caste struggle
because caste is a structure of violence and injustice. Just as Gandhi
denounces the satanic culture of the west, Gandhism can be a
denunciation of caste-based injustice. Gandhi does not forbid the use of
soul-force against the satanic tendencies in one’s own society. If
contemporary Gandhism fights shy of caste struggles, it has lost the
core of Gandhi’s discourse. The restrictive interpretation of Gandhi
will have to be rejected in favour of a creative interpretation.
Non-recognition of categories like shudra-atishudra does not form the
core of Gandhism. In fact, use of a term like ‘daridranarayan’
presupposes readiness to understand social reality on the basis of
exploitative relations. Therefore, political mapping of social forces on
caste basis can be incorporated into Gandhian discourse. Gandhi’s
strong rejection of religious authority behind untouchability, his later
views on intercaste marriage, his non- orthodox interpretation on varna
in early years and loss of interest in varna in later years, and the
constant exhortation to become ‘shudra’, – to engage in physical labour –
all point to the possibility that caste question can form legitimate
concern of the Gandhian discourse. It should be of some interest that
Gandhi does not eulogise the ‘trivarniks’ or their roles while
constantly upholding dignity of labour. His sanatan dharma is
characteristically uninfluenced by brahminism.
Similarly, Ambedkar’s position on capitalism and modernity can be
extended and reinterpreted. He located the primary source of
exploitation in the caste system in the Indian context. But he never
disputed the exploitative character of capitalism. His espousal of
socialism (eg, Independent Labour Party) and state socialism apart, he
tended to take the view that concentration of wealth and exploitation
gave rise to ‘dukkha’, His conception of dhamma makes it clear that
Ambedkar made a distinction between material well-being and insatiable
lust. This is the ground on which critique of modernist life can be
figured within his discourse. It is true that Ambedkar’s rejection of
tradition and traditional life-style appears to be modernistic. But it
must be conceded that Ambedkar had to take into consideration immediate
interests of untouchables. Thus, his plea to move to cities need not be
understood as a modernist project. Also, Gandhi’s espousal of village
life should not be seen as justification of existing village life.
Grounding Ambedkar’s interpretation in his conception of dhamma can open
up the possibility of bridging the distance between Gandhi and
The discourses of Gandhi and Ambedkar were not antithetical. Therefore,
it is possible to think in terms of common concerns and potential
grounds for dialogue between the two discourses. Further, both Gandhi
and Ambedkar were concerned with the question of emancipation. As such, a
broadening of the scope of their discourses is all the more essential.
As mentioned earlier, at the present moment, legitimacy of emancipatory
project is being challenged. The dominant discourse today tends to
underplay the caste question and legitimises capitalism. In contrast the
movements of social transformation appear to be fragmented or stagnant.
The theoretical strength required to meet this challenge can be gained
partly by building bridges between the two rich discourses of our times.

Muzaffarnagar Riots Perils of a Patronage Democracy

Clientelistic politics is fuelling the current
upsurge of communal violence in Uttar Pradesh. When the channels that
provide access to state resources are organised around social divisions,
the potential power-shifts that elections bring about provide ample
motivation for political elites as well as common voters to mobilise.

Ward Berenschot (ward.berenschot@gmail.com)
is a political scientist and author of Riot Politics: Hindu-Muslim
Violence and the Indian State (Columbia University Press/Rupa
Publications, 2013).

The recent upsurge of communal violence in Uttar Pradesh (UP) has
allayed hopes that India’s economic growth would gradually put an end to
a long history of Hindu-Muslim strife. Since 7 September 2013 at least
52 people (15 Hindus and 37 Muslims) have died and 50,000 people were
displaced around the town of Muzaffarnagar. Subsequently about 30
children have frozen to death due to the appalling conditions in the
refugee camps where thousands are still staying out of fear of returning
to their ransacked homes.

The immediate trigger had been a dispute over, apparently, the
stalking of a girl. This dispute led to the death of the alleged
stalker, a Muslim, and two family members of the girl, Hindu Jat
farmers. In this region Muslims have been working the field of Jat
farmers for generations, but this interdependence did not prevent
politicians from both communities to react to the incident with
incendiary speeches. As the UP government wavered in its response and
community mobilisation got underway, a gruesome spectacle of mass
violence enfolded. The Muzaffarnagar riots have been the largest
outburst since the 2002 violence in Gujarat, but it is by no means an
isolated incident: after the Samajwadi Party (SP) under Akhilesh Yadav
came to power in UP in March 2012, the police has counted 39 outbursts
communal riots (Rai 2013).

To explain this upsurge, we need to go beyond the usual political
incriminations and look at the nature of UP’s political arena instead.
Sure enough, there are plenty of reasons to blame political strategising
for the violence. Ahead of the 2014 general elections, Bharatiya
J­anata Party (BJP) badly needs to recover lost ground in UP. BJP
leaders like Sangeet Som seem to have taken to this task by inciting
violence and circulating fake videos. He and other BJP leaders have been
vitiating the atmosphere with a­ngry speeches during a large maha­panchayat
meeting of the Jat community on 7 September 2013. Their militant
d­efence of the Jat community seems a calculated attempt to solidify
Hindu support.

Similarly, there are good reasons to suspect that the wavering
response of Yadav’s government have been guided by the need to maintain
the support of UP’s Muslim community, so crucial for SP’s electoral
victory in the 2012 state elections. This might explain the perceived
bias of the police against the Jat community, the release of Muslim
suspects and the transferring of police officials who arrested these
suspects. Because of these observations it has been argued that the
recent violence is the ­result of an implicit “deal” between the BJP and
SP, intended to polarise society along communal line (see Centre for
Policy Analysis 2013; Rao et al 2013). Intense polarisation might serve
to weaken the mobilisational capacity of competing political parties
like Bahujan ­Samaj Party (BSP) and Congress.

Such political machinations are a recurring element of reporting on
communal riots and they also figure prominently in academic explanations
for India’s Hindu-Muslim violence. They are, however, unsatisfying on
two accounts: firstly, such a focus on the strategies of political
elites leaves unexplained why common villagers – who do not share the
same political interests – could be instigated to participate in the
violence. And secondly, the observation that politicians can benefit
from the resulting social polarisation begs the question: what is it
about India’s political arena that makes social polarisation such a
profitable ­political strategy?

After a year-long period of fieldwork on the organisation behind
Gujarat’s 2002 violence, I feel that the answer to these questions lies
in the dependence of particularly poorer citizens on patronage networks
to gain access to state institutions. Such an analysis is not meant to
refute political explanations for violence, nor does it exonerate
individuals of their responsibility for stoking communal embers. But it
might help to understand why they do so.

Patronage networks are exchange networks: through these channels
political elites mobilise (electoral) support – votes and campaign
support, but also campaign budgets – while compensating their supporters
by providing them with access to state resources such as jobs, public
services or business contracts. The widespread dependence of citizens on
such patronage networks is strengthened by a largely self-enforcing
mechanism: as citizens reward politicians for providing them with access
to state resources, political success is largely premised on developing
control over the functioning of state bureaucracies, which in turn
reinforces the dependence of voters on political mediation. It is
because of this entrenched political meddling in the functioning of
state bureaucracies that India has been called a “patronage democracy”.

Infrastructure for Violence

So what does this dependence on p­atro­nage networks have to do with
the violence that engulfs a community after a relatively small incident
such as eve-teasing? A focus on the functioning of these patronage
networks yield two important mechanisms of how and why a patronage
democracy engenders – under certain conditions – communal violence. One
mechanism is related to the actual organisation of violence, the other
to the political exploitation of social identities.

First, the organisation of violence. A recurring element in studies
on the “groundwork” of UP’s politics are descriptions of how political
parties are ­using their control over the distribution of state
researchers to attract and reward voters (Chandra 2004). Such
clientelistic strategies require effective networks: informal links
between local (community) leaders, political workers and state officials
are necessary to ­ensure that efforts to distribute state ­resources –
jobs, public services, government contracts, etc – will indeed be
reciprocated by voters at the time of elections.

Furthermore, clientelistic strategies lead to the politicisation of
state bureau­cracies. The inability of police officials in UP to arrest
politically well-­connected criminals – yielding perceptions of a
“goonda raj” – is just one visible effect of the control that
politicians wield over the bureaucracy. As a result, for less-privileged
citizens the access to, say, a secure land title, a government job or a
loan is not based on one’s individual rights as citizens but rather the
result of the negotiations and exchanges of ­favours with political
intermediaries (Jeffrey 2002).

In this way clientelistic electoral strategies are generating
widespread patronage networks that, at times of communal tensions, can
serve as the infrastructure for the mobilisation of mobs and the
­organisation of violence. Not just party members or local strongmen but
also criminal actors, state officials, businessmen and police officers
derive at least a part of their livelihood from the (business)
opportunities and state resources that can be obtained through political
connections. Such benefits give these actors various incentives to
nurture their contacts with politicians and influential bureaucrats.
These incentives make the instigation of violence possible: the capacity
of political actors to mobilise large mobs, distribute weapons, and
prevent police intervention is related to the rewards that individuals
at lower levels in the clientelistic pyramid can reap by performing
favours for their patrons.

Police, Goondas, Leaders

Take, for example, the failure of police officials to stem the
violence and the ­accusations that minister Azam Khan ­ordered the
transfer of police officials and a district magistrate for arresting
Muslims. For police officials maintaining good relations with
politicians serves to streamline a steady stream of bribes. By crossing
politicians, by for example, attempting to prevent violence, police
officials risk being transferred to “punishment postings”. Given the
considerable bribe they often had to pay to secure a good posting, such a
transfer would imply a serious financial risk. As a result of this
dependency on political ­patrons the police force cannot function as a
bulwark against the instigation of ethnic violence; the control of
politicians over the postings of police officers undermines the capacity
and willingness of individual officers to function as custodians of the

A similar argument can be made about another important type of
contributors to communal violence: local criminals or goondas. Patronage
channels need individuals known for their capacity for violence, not
only for the (campaign) money that their illegal activities bring in,
but also because of the need for “muscle power” to establish local
authority to provide protection in the absence of a fully sovereign
police force. For their part, local goondas face strong
incentives to attach themselves to political patrons, since their
livelihoods – extortion, gambling, illegal trade, etc – ­often depends
on political contacts to ward off police intervention. As a result
political actors dispose of a lot of “muscle power” that can be asked to
take the lead during outbursts of violence.

A third group of contributors are community leaders. Local leaders
come in various forms and sizes, but a recurring aspect of local
leadership is that it is bound with a capacity to “get things done”, i
e, to deal with state institutions on behalf of their community members
(Krishna 2007). For ambitious indivi­duals, the development of ties with
influential power holders can thus hardly be avoided – which makes them
and their community vulnerable to political manipulation. In a similar
manner one can analyse the local popularity of militant organisations
like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or the Rashtriya Swayam­sevak Sangh
(RSS). Their appeal is not just based on ideology or the invocation of a
shared enemy. Their popularity is also related to the way these
organisations are integrated into local patronage channels and,
consequently, the capacity of these organisations to provide followers
with a government job, a business opportunity or preferential treatment
by the police.

In short: the networks involved in the instigation and perpetration
of violence are not just “institutionalised riot ­systems” (Brass 2003),
they are patronage networks. Their capacity to instigate violence is
related to their capacity to provide access to state resources.

Patronage and Identity Politics

A second important mechanism linking the daily machinations of a
patronage democracy to outbursts of violence concerns identity politics.
It is often commented that India’s pervasive identity politics stems
from the usefulness of ­social identities to mobilise electoral support.
A focus on the intricacies of ­clientelistic exchanges can help
understand why this is so.

When access to public services is shaped by political intercession
rather than policy provisions, candidates do not need to convince voters
of the effectiveness or reasonableness of policy proposals. They need
to find ways to credibly convey the promise that after elections they
will be willing to devote time and energy to solve their problems.
Social identities provide useful means to convey this promise. A shared
social identity – whether in terms of caste, regional background or
religion – provides a candidate with the (symbolic) arguments to
convince voters that he will be “their man” and empathises with their
needs. The different identity dimensions among the electorate are
instruments for politicians to make these promises more convincing.
Through the use of different identity symbols, and through the
invocation of antagonisms between voters, politicians can convey their
most important message: after the elections I will be more helpful to
you than other candidates.

Furthermore, a clientelistic political arena generates important
incentives for political leaders, their clients as well as brokers to
structure their clientelistic exchanges along the lines of social
divisions such as religion or caste. As both voters and politicians
exchange political support for access to state resources, ethnicity
provides them with a very useful tool to do so. A shared caste
background of candidates gives voters some reassurance that an elected
candidate will actually be of help after the elections to deal with
state institutions. For politicians the invocation of identity symbols
provides them with a useful means to convey a credible promise to the
electorate that they will be more helpful to the voter then the opposing
political party.

And for brokers – the local leaders and “fixers” who mediate the
interaction bet­ween politician and voters – their leadership of a
community can be used to reassure politicians of their capacity to
deliver a large number of votes. As politicians need to use their
limited resources efficiently, they prefer to deal with brokers who
possess authority over a large number of voters. In the absence of
strong civil society organisations (like trade unions, cooperatives,
business organisations), brokers can invoke their membership of a
community to reassure politicians of their capacity to deliver a large
number of votes. After elections, this membership is again invoked to
pressurise politicians into delivering the promised public resources.

Community Mobilisation

This imperative to organise election campaigns around us-them
divisions stimulates politicians to engage in attempts to manipulate the
importance that voters attach to different identity dimensions. While,
for example, the BJP target a religious divide, BSP, Congress and SP
particularly target caste-divisions. As political campaigns are thus
organised around different identity dimensions – caste, religion as well
as class and region – electoral success depends to a certain extent on
heightening the public awareness of one such dimension at the expense of
other dimensions.

Campaign speeches of politicians can often be interpreted as attempts
to manipulate this salience of “their” identity dimension. Outbursts of
communal violence serve this purpose very effectively: by polarising
society along a religious divide, such violence hinders the mobilisation
efforts of parties who target caste divisions. A patronage democracy
thus stimulates a constant manipulation of the importance that people
attach to different dimensions of their social identities.

The process of invoking social divisions to facilitate clientelistic
exchanges has the important side effect of associating the membership of
a community to the access to (state) resources. As the contacts and
solidarity that these networks offered proved essential to secure
education, healthcare or security, the impression is generated that the
election of someone from another community to a key position would form a
real threat to one’s well-being and one’s chances to succeed in life.
When the networks that provide access to state resources become
organised around social divisions, the potential power-shifts that
elections bring about, thus provide ample moti­vation for not only
elites but also their f­ollowers to mobilise.

In this way one could interpret the remark of a Jat farmer from
Muzaffarnagar that, “There will be no peace until the balance of power
is sorted out” (Jha 2013). This remark is not just about community
honour. As Muslim votes have helped the SP to come to power in UP, their
access to state institutions, particularly the police, has improved.
This increased closeness to state authorities yields not only material
benefits, but also symbolically shifts perceptions of power and
superiority between com­munities. Take this quotation from a Meerut
resident: “This government has been trying to show itself as pro-Muslim.
As a result, young and irresponsible groups among Muslims too race
about on mobikes, violate traffic signals and, when stopped, stick their
mobiles on the ears of the policeman and put a local leader on the
line, frightening the cop” (Chishti 2013).

Such community-based shifts in access to state institutions create
tensions. In this way the fragmented and versatile nature of local
patronage channels can help explain the current upsurge in violence in
UP. The national elections in 2014 are creating tension in UP not only
because Narendra Modi’s candidacy is bringing Muslim-Hindu divisions to
the fore, but also because these elections provide an occasion for local
communities to rally against (or defend) uneven access to state