Caste, Patriarchy and the Hindutva Model of Governance
AS the election campaign reaches its crescendo, the strategy of the BJP, led by Narendra Modi, is becoming more and more apparent. It is attempting to create a rainbow alliance of the middle castes and dalits in order to ensure that it reaches the half-way mark and does not need the help of those outside the NDA to make a government at the centre. In order to do this, it is stitching up alliances with prominent OBC and dalit groups. Thus it has inducted a senior dalit leader, Udit Raj, into its ranks and engineered an alliance with the LJP in order to make inroads into dalit votes. These alliances are a crucial step in the attempt to socially engineer a multi-class alliance in crucial states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In order to do this, the Sangh Parivar organisations have adopted diverse strategies so that their plan of social engineering can suit the local political equations. In the process, they have ended up strengthening patriarchal and socially conservative institutions that have historically oppressed the dalits, adivasis and women. This is seen in the developmental strategies of the BJP ruled states and their impact on the most oppressed sections of society.
NEO-LIBERAL MODELS OF
A close look at the models of development promoted by the BJP and their social welfare policies shows that the states of Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh ruled by them are leaders in promotion of corporate capitalism. They also show a certain incompatibility between economic growth and social development. This is largely because Hindutva is itself a socially conservative ideology which works through the existing social institutions. In the BJP ruled states, it is also a close ally of corporate capitalism and is also reinventing itself into a “model of development” that is essentially patriarchal in character and loaded against the working masses and particularly the dalits and the adivasis.
That the character of the social policies of the BJP led state governments is neo-liberal is seen by the fact that the social sector spending is not related to the improvement in the social indicators of these states. The investment patterns of these states since 2008-09 in health and education, that are vital indicators of the development of common people, can be seen from Table I alongside.
Social Sector Expenditures in BJP Ruled States
Source: Reserve Bank of India, State Finances: A Study of Budgets 2013-14, Statements 28, 29 and 34
Table I shows that the social sector expenditures in all BJP ruled states except Chhattisgarh have been declining in the last three years. The level of expenditure is especially significant in Gujarat where it has been consistently lower than the all-India average. At the same time the levels of expenditure in Chhattisgarh are above the national average but both Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh continue to be amongst the least developed states in the country. What is even more telling is the fact that health, education and the measures to combat economic deprivation, which constitute the social development index, have seen a decline in these three states. Therefore the ranking of these states on the social development index has worsened in the last two years. While the ranking of Gujarat has declined by six places (from 7 to 13), Madhya Pradesh has declined by five places (from 14 to 19) and Chhattisgarh by three places (from 13 to 16) on the comparative Social Development Indexes of 2010 and 2012. The disjunction between the economic and social development has been a result of the political need to preserve the upper caste power structures and patriarchal social institutions. This is reflected in the impact of the BJP ruled states on different segments of society.
WOMEN & OPPRESSED
GROUPS LAG BEHIND
An analysis of the social development indicators available from the India Social Development Report 2012 shows that there are growing caste and gender based inequities in the BJP ruled states. Three indicators have been taken in order to analyse the impact of the social welfare measures in these states. These are health, education and economic deprivation. The results, analysed in terms of the relative position of BJP ruled states on the social development index, clearly show that these states are fairly underdeveloped in terms of their processes of social transformation. This is reflected in the uneven impact of the social development processes, as can be seen from Table II alongside.
Gender Based State Rankings on for Individual Social Indicators
Source: India Social Development Report 2012, p 290
Table II shows that the gap between the male and female social development is the highest in Gujarat in education and economic deprivation. As is seen, Gujarat ranks 13 as far as male education is concerned and Chhattisgarh is ranked 14 on the same parameters. But in regard to female education Gujarat is five places lower, at 18, whereas Chhattisgarh is four places lower, indicating a growing inequality between men and women in education. More significantly, Gujarat shows the same or a greater level of inequity as far as economic deprivation is concerned. As far as women are concerned, it is placed at number 15 in economic deprivation, but in the case of male poverty or economic deprivation it is six places higher at number 9. This indicates that women are far worse of then men in terms of economic entitlements. This difference does not exist much in the case of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. What is still starker is the difference between the rankings in health, education and economic deprivation. Chhattisgarh may rank higher in terms of wage rates, employment and other economic indicators, but it lags far behind in terms of education and health. Madhya Pradesh is placed very low on the scale on all the indicators.
The picture is more complicated with respect to the caste and communitarian character of social development. The overall social indicators of these states (Table III alongside) reveal the picture in terms of comparative ranking.
Social Group Based
State Rankings for
Social Development 2012
Source: India Social Development Report 2012, pp 285-87
Table III above shows that the dalits and adivasis lag behind the others in their social development. This is especially seen in Gujarat and Chhattisgarh where the difference in comparative ranking of states for different social groups shows a wide gap between SCs-STs and others. It is clear that in Gujarat the STs are the worst off despite the government’s claim that it has focussed on their development. In Chhattisgarh the relative position of the SCs and STs is quite bad and its gap with others is even wider than in Gujarat, whereas in Madhya Pradesh the overall underdevelopment seems to be much higher than Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.
On a closer analysis of individual indicators like demography (based on mortality and fertility rates, health, education and economic deprivation), we see that the BJP ruled states have focussed far less on health and much more on education and economic deprivation. This is significant because employment and education have been two sectors which have been opened up to both to corporate capital and NGOs as well as to Sangh Parivar organisations. Education helps to provide a trained labour force to the corporate houses and therefore these governments have given over the management of these training institutes and schools to private players. Much of this management is closely aligned with the Sangh Parivar organisations that do ideological training and create the basis for political polarisation. In the same manner this creation of employment opportunities is also done in a strong and direct alliance with big corporate capital. It is therefore not surprising that even a few of the so called achievements of the BJP governments are directly linked with the greater integration of SCs and STs into corporate capitalism, rather than their overall development. It is therefore not surprising that corporate media and capital are pushing hard for Narendra Modi as the prime minister.
The evidence, given above, shows that the BJP model of governance has resulted in the underdevelopment and greater exploitation of the SCs, STs and women. The politics of corporate capital is closely aligned with Hindutva that tries to project itself as a benevolent and all encompassing ideology. But the progressive decline in the progress of the oppressed sections of our society shows that Hindutva is closely linked to the interests of corporate capital. It is therefore clear that the re-election of the BJP led governments is not the result of any real development that has taken place for the exploited classes and social groups, but a result of dangerous political polarisation that is continuously taking place through hegemonic Hindutva forces. It is therefore imperative that the election campaign is used to demystify the real intentions of the Sangh Parivar organisations and stop the BJP in its effort to form the central government.