Justice Katju: Why the Bharat Jodo Yatra will not unite India

Justice Markandey Katju

By Justice Katju-

These days Rahul Gandhi is on a Bharat Jodo Yatra (Unite India March), from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. But will it really unite India, which has numerous religions, castes, races, and languages?

I submit it will not. Here’s why the Bharat Jodo Yatra will not unite India.

Casteism and communalism are feudal forces keeping us divided, and holding up India’s forward movement. So they must be destroyed if India is to progress. But how can they be destroyed?

Under British rule, feudalism prevailed in most parts of India, in the form of the zamindari (landlord) system) and it was the policy of the British to continue it, so that India remains backward and does not emerge as a modern industrial power.

However, after Independence, most Indian states passed zamindari abolition acts, and land was given to the cultivator. To some extent, feudalism was eliminated.

However, the ‘batai’ or ‘batadhari’ (share cropping) system, under which the land owner lets out his agricultural land to the cultivator in return for a share in the crops (usually 50%) still prevails in large parts of India, and is a form of feudalism.

For instance, it is believed that 35% of agricultural land in Bihar is under this system. Other states are no different.

So the feudal economy has been only partially destroyed in India.

Moreover, the system of parliamentary democracy, which India adopted after Independence further entrenches feudalism in the social sphere, as elections in India are largely run on the basis of caste and religious vote banks, polarizing our society.

India therefore is still semi-feudal, and its people still divided on the basis of caste and religion.

I’d like to ask upper caste or OBC Hindus that have joined the Bharat Jodo Yatra, or are supporting it, one simple question: If your daughter falls in love with a Dalit or Muslim boy, will you give your consent for their marriage?

Hardly any will give consent, and most would be horrified. Some may even do ‘honour killing’.

So how can the Bharat Jodo Yatra really unite us? How can a yatra destroy casteism and communalism? Is it not just a gimmick?

India can be unified by the destruction of feudalism in India, and converting India into a modern, highly industrialised country.

How can that be achieved?

This will require a mighty, historic, united people’s struggle over a long period of time. We may consider a few historical examples of countries that were transformed from feudalism to modernism.

In England, it was the struggle between King and Parliament which achieved this. In France, it was the French Revolution of 1789; in Russia it was the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. China had the Chinese Revolution.

We see from these historical examples that people’s struggle for destroying feudal society arise when
(1) There is a severe economic crisis, resulting in massive unemployment, skyrocketing inflation, which causes intolerable sufferings to the masses, or
(2) The country is plunged into a long-drawn war, in which soldiers and civilians are killed.

How will such a people’s struggle happen in India, no one can tell. But it is certainly not by gimmick like the Bharat Jodo Yatra, whose real aim is not to unite India but to bring back to power those unaccustomed to remain out of it, and desperate to get it back and enjoy the loaves of office.

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