The Supreme Court which heard the case demanding the transfer of the disputed land to the very criminals who demolished it in a well-planned crime using the fig-leaf of a cover that it was constructed by demolishing an existing temple, is so much penetrated by the RSS men or terrorized by them that it did not face any difficulty to get it done. Similarly, the Special Court which heard the case against the RSS/BJP leaders who led the RSS hooligans to demolish the more than five century old Babri Masjid acquitted all of them claiming there are no witnesses for a crime committed in day light in front of more than a lakh military to local militia, more civilians of Ayodhya and tens of millions of people who saw it through TV channels. And, as per the Manusmrithi rules, the PM of India along with th RSS Pramukh conducted the Bhoomipuja for the Ram temple being constructed in the disputed land where the Babri Masjid stood, throwing out the secular principles enshrined in India’s Constitution.
All these happened within a year after Modi won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections with a bigger majority. All these horrific developments reminds all democratic forces and the affected people about the barbaric way the Babri Masjid was demolished in a well-planned conspiracy of RSS leaders at the culmination of a bloody campaign with a Rathyathra by L K Advani. If a large number of people died and the Muslim minority was subjected to all forms of suppression and lynching, presently it is open fascist offensive destroying all democratic values in the society. The CPI(ML) Red Star severely condemns the demolition of the Babri Masjid, and the intensifying saffronization of all walks of life subjecting the minority and oppressed dalits and Adivasis to all sorts of attacks, including public lynching and gang rapes and murder of dalit women. It also condemns the Supreme Court order handing over the disputed land entirely to the RSS and the Special Court’s order releasing all the criminal leaders responsible for the planned demolition of Babri Masjid. CPI(ML) Red Star calls for observing 6th December as Black Day, and for further intensifying the ongoing campaign against Manuvadi Hindutva, the theoretical base of RSS neo-fascism.
CPI(ML) Red Star.
Campaign Against Manuvadi Hindutva, Theoretical Base of RSS Neo-Fascism!
When the whole country faces virtually an economic collapse, the neo-fascist RSS representing the most reactionary section of the neo-liberal/corporate forces has launched a counter-revolutionary offensive, aggressively reviving its Manuvadi Brahmainical past through the 8th century AD Sankara model barbarous actions under Modi-Yogi rule. At this juncture the importance of the Campaign against Manuvadi Hindutva, its theoretical base by CPI(ML) Red Star and various mass organizations has increased manifold. The webinars we organized and all other programs organized by various party committees and Mass organizations are getting good response. Many revolutionary intellectuals along with progressive forces and dalit, Adivasi organizations who have recognized the importance of theoretically exposing the true neo-fascist colour of RSS, which is masquerade as a cultural organization, but indulge in most reactionary socio-political, economic activities through its Parivar, have come forward to support it. This has provided impetus to this movement.
When the capitalist imperialist global finance capital system is confronting its worst ever crisis, it is propping up the most reactionary sections of neo-liberal corporate forces to salvage it from total collapse. It is in a desperate effort for its survival. It props up a Trump in US, a Bolsanaro in Brazil, a Modi in India, dozens of neo-fascist rulers across the world as part of unleashing an ultra-right counter-revolutionary offensive, desperately using the religious fundamentalist forces and their decadent values as their theoretical base. One of its worst models is RSS, which is the biggest and most powerful fascist force in the world.
In 2013, when almost a contest for leadership in the BJP on the eve of the LS elections looked certain, Modi with his Gujarat model pogrom was selected and Advani had to step down, as the Ambani-Adani led corporate forces vehemently campaigned and as RSS agreed to elevate him. The RSS project was damn clear. Capture majority for NDA at any cost in the elections. Once in power move very fast to open the economy totally to native and multinational neo-liberal/corporate forces. At the same time, enlarge the Gujarat model pogroms at all India level to spread the politics of hatred and Islamophobia, revive the Manuvadi Brahmanical Hindutva wave to create a majoritarian support base, reviving the past glory when Manu Smriti was in practice, with the Aryan elite, the Savarnas, totally dominated the Un-Aryans, the Shudras and Ati-Shudras most savagely. The Manu Smriti dictates that they have no right to own property, or have education, but to serve the Savarnas all through their life so that they may get Punar-janma as Savarnas! The Brahmins demanded that even the first use of their women after their puberty, in order to sanitize the impure wombs of these impure patriarchal slaves. Based on Manu Smriti the Brahmin, Kshatriya elite made rules and customs in all regions of occupied Indian sub-continent accordingly. As this Hindurashtra of Aryans was challenged by Gautama Buddha, Charvakas and Lokayats, for almost millennia, they were weakened. In the 8thcentury AD, Sankara led Brahmanical goons along with the foot soldiers they had recruited from the lowest sections of society by threatening these enslaved souls with God’s curse if they do not obey, a revivalist murderous war attacking the thousands of Buddhist monasteries and centres of learning, was unleashed burning them down and massacring tens of thousands of Bhikkus.
Presently, what we are witnessing is a re-enactment of Adi-Snakara’s murderous revivalist war of aggression by RSS neo-fascist forces. As India faces economic collapse, RSS Neo-fascism revives the Manuvadi Brahmainical past through another Sankara model action through Modi-Yogi rule. They incite the Savarna goons to re-establish their old rights over the dalits and their women, or women in general, as they have no right to equality under patriarchy. What we see in Hathras and other places with RSS becoming the dominant neo-fascist power dominating all fields is a planned move to re-enact what happened in the 8th century using the same old weapons, the majoritarian Hindutva claims and Manu Smriti as the constitution of Hindurashtra. It is RSS in place of Sankara, using the same weapons, like neo-liberal/corporate economic policies in place of Chanakya’s arthasasthra.
The challenge before us is: should we surrender before this Brahmanical Manuvadi aggression, or resist with all our might uniting all toiling masses and oppressed classes and sections trampled underneath their feet by these revivalist forces. The first phase of the campaign we have launched saluting Bhagat Singh on his birthday, targeting the Manuvadi Hindutva, the theoretical base of RSS neo-fascism, is the new beginning of the struggle to end not just the neo-liberal/corporate rule of Modi, but the RSS neo-fascism in its entirety. Let us carry forward the campaign with revolutionary spirit and vision. n
Manu and His Law:
A Marxist Perspective
understanding Manusmriti today from Marxist perspective is to some extent difficult and at the same time necessary. It is not difficult to understand that why it is necessary. Since the beginning of the so-called independent India, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [RSS] has been continuously upholding Manusmriti as the true Indian constitution rejecting any other attempts to establish any kind of modern ideas. As a result they denied upholding Indian constitution which was moreover produced by a constituent assembly headed by their arch-rival B.R. Ambedkar. Although Ambedkar himself was not satisfied with the constitution, finally however, it has become a product of Ambedkar in the eyes of the dalit forces who consider him as their highest leader. But, why Ambedkar was not happy with the constitution? It was because he was compelled to produce it under strict guidance of the liberal bourgeoisie of the country and actually it reflected their will, against which Ambedkar fought a prolonged battle. However, it does not mean that the constitution has nothing progressive. In fact, in spite of a bitter struggle with Congress for a long time Ambedkar agreed to head the constituent assembly for taking a chance to infuse some of the rights of the oppressed. Apart from that many positive elements were introduced by the liberal bourgeoisie also, although it remains in the main as the class-will of the bourgeoisie.
Now, after seventy years of its inception the Indian constitution is facing a real danger of abandonment with the rise of RSS and its political wing BJP in the state power with a strong fascist background. For many times RSS leaders have declared that Manusmriti must be brought in action in place of the present Indian constitution. Like their “Hidurashtra” slogan it is also not an empty threat. However, most of the people of our country do not know what exactly Manusmriti is and why the democratic people must oppose every attempt to impose this kind of system of law on the modern life. Therefore, it has become necessary to understand and discuss Manu’s system.
A systematic study on Indian history was never taken up in hand by the Communist Party in India. The party was broken several times and new parties came up. However, no Communist Party did this extremely essential job so far. Therefore, it is to some extent difficult today to start the job afresh. Manu wrote a huge book with 2684 verses covering entire socio-political life. A thorough evaluation and a verse to verse critique is not possible at present stage of our research, however, a general understanding is absolutely necessary at this political juncture. Keeping this requirement in mind, the following brief submission is presented.
Manu and His Time
Manusmriti is ascribed to some Manu Swayambhu who according to Brahmanistic mythology was the son of Brahma and progenitor of humankind. Like many other ancient Indian personalities Manu is also a debated personality. Using same name for different persons at the different epochs of the history was a popular Brahmanistic trick to confuse the people. Side by side mixing history with mythology [itihasa and puranas] was also a known trick of them in order to impose a divine character on the personalities and occurrences. As a result it has become difficult to fathom the exact time of a particular literature and its writer. The historical background has also become blurred in this process. It is exactly the thing which is intended by the Brahmanistic scholars as they want to portray the personalities as timeless. An added problem which the ancient Indian texts have that in most of the cases massive interpolation took place from the latter writers and thus made it more problematic to understand the actual time. Facing all these difficulties the European scholars reached in this conclusion that the exact date of Manu was difficult to measure. However, it can be safely said that in between 200 BCE to 200 CE Manu appeared in the scene with his system of law.
Ambedkar did not agree with this conclusion. He was the man who made a thorough analysis of Manusmriti and tried to understand proper historical chronology from anti-brahmanistic perspective. He correctly said that the author of Manusmriti was not any Manu Swayambhu. In every pages of Manusmriti, the name “Bhrigu” is signed. However, Bhrigu is a family name. Citing Naradasmriti Ambedkar said that the actual name of the author of Manusmriti was Sumati Bhargava. He was contemporary of Pushyamitra Sunga.
Background of Emergence of Manusmriti
Introducing Manusmriti in Indian socio-political life was a clear indication of Brahmanistic upsurge. The ancient communist society in the early Vedic period was broken long ago. However, in India class division took a unique form which is called varna-caste division. The Aryan society was divided into four varnas, i.e., Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Shudra. This division was introduced first time in the Rig Veda. However, it should be noted that like all other major Indian literature at pre-script Vedic time the Rig Veda also was composed through a long time. By this time, the society did not remain same; it changed. Thus in a single text these changes were duly reflected. The Rig Veda is a magnificent example of this peculiarity. Thus in the Rig Veda while we find a strong communist approach and the conception that all human are equal, in the same text we see how a division among the people was suggested. The scholars correctly pointed out that this proposal of division among the humans [Aryans] was later interpolation when the actual society was broken into classes according to the natural societal law.
If we consider the time of the beginning of later Vedic period as BCE 1000 and the time of Manu as BCE 200, then there was at least a time gap of eight hundred years. This timeframe of eight hundred years was a transitional period in Indian history. Crucial changes in technology, stiff and prolonged struggles between revolution and counter-revolution, starting of urbanization, introducing script in Vedic language and gradual consolidation of power by the Brahmanistic ruling classes in spite of a strong presence of its opposite marked this era. It is impossible for a person to realize the actual significance of the emergence of Manu and Manusmriti without understanding this remarkable and extremely important historical epoch.
The ancient communist society of early Vedic period stood on insufficiency of means of livelihood. As the production started to grow and surplus production appeared in place of scarcity, the communist society began to crumble. The Aryans were nomadic and pastoral people who did not have any knowledge of agriculture. However, gradually they learned the art from the vanquished non-Aryan people and started to settle in villages. Around the year of BCE 800 iron was discovered. This discovery introduced a huge transformation of agricultural technology which finally caused massive surplus production. As a result the class division in the society started to be stronger in every passing day. Urbanization was started. The centre of the ruling classes was shifted in the cities. The early political organizations of the Aryans like Sabha and Samiti were replaced by the state machine. State system emerged. However, in the initial years of state system there two kinds of states appeared. One type was called republic and another was monarchy. The republic system tried to maintain the legacy of early communistic society, and thus it was based on one kind of parliamentary system. Eminent Marxist historian Romila Thapar showed in the republics the members of the parliament were called ‘raja’. Therefore, in the republican system the post ‘raja’ was subject to election and it was no way similar to a monarch in the system of monarchy.
By the time of around BCE 500 the main political centre of Aryavatra was shifted further east and sixteen prominent states were formed which were called ‘sorasha mahajanapadas’ [sixteen great lands]. Magadha [at present Bihar] was the centre of these sixteen lands. Magadha was a Monarchy. There were eight mahajanapadas which had monarchical system and remaining eight were republics. The political conflict between republic and monarchy in sixteen mahajanapadas gave birth of an ideological and philosophical counter-movement against Brahmanism which was called Shramanic movement.
The word ‘Brahmanism’ did not come from Brahmin, rather the opposite was the case. The particular group of Aryans who composed the Vedas was known as Tritsyu-Bharata clan who used to call themselves as ‘Brahmanas’. In the Rig Veda many times this term was used in place of “Arya”, as these Veda-composers had to fight other Aryan groups apart from non-Aryans. Therefore, it should be noted that the Vedas were not the sacred text of all Aryan groups. Those were composed and upheld by a particular group of Aryans who became victorious in prolonged battle against other Aryan groups and non-Aryans in order to dominate the upper side of the country. This Aryan group called themselves as ‘Brahmanas’. Therefore, Vedic culture was Brahmanichal culture which faced a terrific opposition from a large section inside the Aryan people in the form of Shramanic movement.
By the time of sixteen mahajanapadas the Shramanic movement was concentrated in the republics while the Brahmanichal movement became stronger in the Monarchies. Since the varna-division was de facto the class division in ancient India, the system of four-varnas was strictly maintained in the Monarchies. On the other hand the four-varnas system was not at all maintained in the republics as the distinction among the varnas was not clear in the republics. Vaishali, one of the republics, was ruled by the Lichchavis or Vajjis who were not considered as ‘rajanyas’ or kshatriyas. Shakya was another republic which was dominated by the Kshatriyas, however, these Kshatriyas including their ‘rajas’ were engaged in agricultural work and economic activities which supposed to be performed by the Vaisyas. Therefore, it was extremely natural for republics to give birth of a movement like Shramanic movement. Gautama, the Buddha came from the Shakya clan and Buddhism eventually became the leader of Shramanic movement. The entire Aryavatra was divided between Brahmanic and Shramanic movements and witnessed a fierce prolonged battle.
B.R. Ambedkar identified the emergence of Buddhism as the greatest revolution in ancient India. He even compared this revolution with the great French revolution of modern era. Ambedkar’s observation cannot be taken as an exaggeration. In the republics surplus sharing among the people was much more equal and income disparity was much less due to the near absence of four-varnas system. On the other hand in the monarchies varna division, i.e., the class division was taking more and more sharp and consequently surplus sharing became extremely unequal. As a result the Shramanic movement started to be popular among the masses in the monarchies which finally compelled Bimbhisara, the King of Magadha, to become a disciple of Gautama, the Buddha. Soma, the daughter of the main priest of Bimbhisara became one of the greatest leaders in Buddhist samgha. Thus, the political centre of Aryavatra went out of Brahmanistic control. Very soon the Brahmanistic forces struck back. Bimbhisara was killed by his son Ajhathasatru and the throne of Magadha was re-captured by Brahmanist forces. However, the Brahmanistic control over Magadha did not last long as Ajhathastru finally surrendered to Gautama. Magadha became Shramanic. However, it does not mean Magadha became a republic. Monarchy continued but the dominance of Brahmanichal forces was significantly curtailed and more surplus wealth started to flow downwards through increasing public works and other services. The emergence of Mauryan Empire at BCE 323, few hundred years later of Buddha’s demise marked the heyday of Shramanism in Magadha.
Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of Mauryan Empire was a Jain. His grandson Ashoka Priyadarshi became a Buddhist after infamous Kalinga war. The Indian civilization before starting of the Common Era reached at its zenith at the time of Ashoka the Great. For many reasons Mauryan Empire must be considered as most modern rule in ancient India. The first instance of writing can be found at the time of Ashoka in his famous Rock Edicts. Script was introduced. For the first time a secular state was born, although the rulers were Sramanic. This was a unique character of Sramanism which was evident in Gautama’s advices to his disciples regarding ideal administration. Economic activities reached at the highest point as Shramanism was always in favour of “Shram”, i.e, labour and consequently Vaisyas and Shudras, the people of productive activities were the main support base of Shramanism. The dominance of the Brahmin-Kshatriya combine vanished. International and national trade reached at its peak in the time of Ashoka. Brahmanism was against economic activities from very beginning. War and plunder were main tools of Brahmanism to accumulate wealth. Therefore, when the fetter of Brahmanism was overthrown, prosperity began to be achieved through economic means which in return strengthened the control of the Vaisya-Shudra combine over the state power. Ashoka sent many religious delegations to the neighbouring countries which were followed by the traders. Almost whole ancient Bharata became united under Mauryan kingdom. The development in science, art, medicine and other fields was amazing. All the achievements of Mauryan rule were basically the achievements of Shramanism.
Mauryan rule was overthrown through a coup d’etat organized by the Brahmins.
Manu and His Counter-Revolution
The last Mauryan King Brihadratha was killed by his own commander-in-chief Pushyamitra Sunga in BCE 184 through a massive coup d’ etat. The Sungas were Brahmin. The name Sunga was of considerable antiquity which occurs in the Vamsa Brahmana, Asvalayana-srautasutra and in the grammar of Panini. The association of the Sungas in those Vedic literatures with ancient priestly families and most interestingly with the Bhrigues shows undoubtedly that they were not only Brahmins but also had a family connection with the Bhrigues. Manusmriti was also written by the Bhrigues and it is already said that Ambedkar cited Naradasmriti to prove that the name of the writer of Manusmriti was Suamati Bhargava.
While considering the emergence of Buddhism was the greatest revolution in ancient India, Ambedkar clearly declared the emergence of Manusmriti as the counter-revolution. And here again, his observation cannot be taken as an exaggeration.
Manu wrote a smriti-book which meant he wrote law. At that time many smriti-texts were produced. These smriti-books were basically Brahmanistic literature and most of them declared fullest conformity with the Vedas. The Vedas were called Shruti. The Vedas were sacred text but not law. However, at a certain point of time the Brahmanistic rulers felt the necessity of a new kind of literature which would provide the society a penal system. Thus the smriti-books started to appear in the scene and Manusmriti was most familiar and accepted out of them. This Shruti-Smriti combine was the spiritual weapon of Brahmanism in order to consolidate their rule over the people.
Mauryan Empire basically stood on the Kautilyan system. It should be noted that Kautilya did not compose any smriti-text. The name of his magnum opus is Arthasastra which clearly denotes that he wrote a “sastra”, a branch of knowledge. However, the Sunga dynasty for the first time in the Indian history stood on a smriti-book, Manusmriti. The relation between the Sungas and Manusmriti is a debatable issue as no direct evidence is available to either support or reject the theorem. However, the close connection the Bhrigues had with Manusmriti and the Sunga dynasty both, makes us believe that a relation between the Sungas and Manusmriti is far more logical. Ambedkar apprehended that Manusmriti was written under direct instruction of Pushyamitra Sunga though he could not give any evidence in favor of his apprehension.
Irrespective of the fact that Pushyamitra Sunga instructed to write Manusmriti or not this is an unalterable fact that the emergence of Manusmriti was basically a counter-revolution. Thus a new system was born.
Strict Implementation of Varna-Division
Although the Varna-division was introduced much before Manusmriti it remained mostly in theoretical plane and never implemented strictly in practical life. Moreover, according to some interpretations the varna-division was based on qualities of a person. However, Manusmriti unequivocally declared that since the Brahmins were originated from the mouth of the Purusha they were superior to all human beings. This was the first time a text on law code which was most accepted and renowned clearly declared the superiority of the Brahmins.
Whatever exists in the world is, the property of the Brahmana, on account of the excellence of his origin the Brahmin is, indeed, entitled to all. [Manu: 1.100]
Here it should be noted that Manu not only declared the superiority of the Brahmins but he also connected the assertion with the claim that the Brahmins were the real owners of everything in the world and thus the sole claimant of surplus value. Hereby Manu also rejected the Kshatriya’s claim of ownership over the land, Vaishya’s claim of ownership over his own wealth and Shudra’s claim of ownership over the fruits of his own labour.
Therefore, The Brahmana eats but his own food, wears but his own apparel, bestows but his own in alms; other mortals subsist through the benevolence of the Brahmana. [Manu: 1.101]
Thus, Manu subordinated everyone to the Brahmins and elevated them as the sole ruler of the state. Therefore, Manu rejected the idea that one of the important tasks of the Kshtriyas according to the previous interpretation was to rule the land. So Manu said:
The Kshtriya he commanded to protect the people, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifices, to study [the Veda], and to abstain from attaching himself to sensual pleasures. [Manu: 1. 89]
Here, Manu had carefully chosen the word “protect” [rakhshanam], not “rule”.
Regarding the tasks of the Vaisyas Manu said: The Vaisya to tend cattle, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifices, to study [the Veda], to trade, to lend money, and to cultivate land. [Manu: 1. 90]
The Vaisyas were to produce wealth, however, we have already seen that according to Manu they were not the owner of the wealth.
And for the Shudras: One occupation only the lord prescribed to the Sudra, to serve meekly even these three castes. [Manu: 1. 91]
Manu emphasized that the Shudras must serve the other three varnas without any complain. Therefore, he not only put them in subjugation, however, closed the avenue to even complain against it as well.
Manu’s dicta on the Shudras came in a stark contrast of the Mauryan Empire as the Mauryas came from the so called lower varnas, most probably Shudra. Although the Buddhist and Jain sources claim Chandragupta came from a Kshatriya family. However, we must note that from the time of Shishunaga dynasty to Mauryan dynasty all the rulers of Magadha came from so called lower varnas. Manu erected a great wall in front of the Shudras in order to prevent them having any kind of political power as well as economic independence.
Manu knew that the knowledge was one of the important sources of dominance. So he preserved the right to impart knowledge exclusively for the Brahmins.
To Brahmanas he assigned teaching and studying [the Veda], sacrificing for their own benefit and for others, giving and accepting [of alms]. [Manu: 1. 88]
Manu once again clearly said that it is only Brahmin’s task to teach others, not of other two twice-born varnas, i.e., Kshatriyas or Vaisyas in Chapter X.
Let the three twice-born castes [varna], discharging their [prescribed] duties, study [the Veda]; but among them the Brahmana [alone] shall teach it, not the other two; that is an established rule. [Manu 10.1]
And the Brahmins must not teach the Vedas, i.e., any kind of knowledge to the Shudras. He even must not recite the Vedas in front of a Shudra.
Let him no recite [the texts] indistinctly, nor in the presence of Sudras; nor let him, if in the latter part of the night he is tired with reciting the Veda, go again to sleep. [Manu: 4. 99]
Manu gave a list of the Brahmins who would not be allowed in any kind of religious matters including:
He who teaches for a stipulated fee and he who is taught on that condition, he who instructs Sudra pupils and he whose teacher is a Sudra, he who speaks rudely, the son of an adulteress, and the son of a widow,.. [Manu: 3.156]
According to Manusmriti the Brahmins only should teach and they must not teach the Shudras.
Surplus Accumulation and Power Consolidation
Thus the Shudras, the largest section of the people were deprived not only from their right to rule, but from the right of having education and property. It is already said that Manu declared that all properties in the world are basically owned by the Brahmins. If a non-Brahmin has property it should be understood that he owns it due to the benevolence of the Brahmins. However, this ‘benevolence of the Brahmins’ was not shown to the Shudras. Manu was ruthless in this issue.
No collection of wealth must be made by a Sudra, even though he be able [to do it]; for a Sudra who has acquired wealth, gives pain to Brahmanas. [Manu: 10.129]
Manu has advised the other two twice-born varnas to sacrifice their wealth and to give those to the Brahmins. However, the properties of a Shudra can be taken away forcefully.
A Brahmana may confidently seize the goods of [his] Sudra [slave]; for, as that [slave] can have no property, his master may take his possessions. [Manu: 8.417]
Manu’s logic is very clear. The Shudras are slave and a slave must not own any property. At Manu’s time there were slaves, but Manu said if a slave was a Shudra and if his master made him free, even then the slave was not free from servitude. Manu said:
A Sudra, though emancipated by his master, is not released from servitude; since that is innate in him, who can set him from it? [Manu: 8.414]
All Shudras are slaves to the Brahmins whether they are bought or not.
But a Sudra, whether bought or unbought, he may compel to do servile work; for he was created by the Self-existent [Svayambhu] to be the slave of a Brahmana. [Manu: 8.413]
Manu had totally closed the door for the Shudra to revolt or to even oppose the system peacefully. So Manu said:
A once-born man [a Sudra], who insults a twice-born man with gross invective, shall have his tongue cut out; for he is of low origin. [Manu: 8.270]
If he mentions the names and castes [gati] of the [twice-born] with contumely, an iron nail, ten fingers long, shall be thrust red-hot into his mouth. [Manu: 8.271]
If he arrogantly teaches Brahmanas their duty, the king shall cause hot oil to be poured into his mouth and into his ears. [Manu: 8.272]
These dicta of Manu once again came in a stark contrast with the preceding years when many major leaders in the Buddhist Samgha emerged from the so called backward varnas. Upali was one of the closest disciples of Buddha and a fantastic teacher who came from Shudra community. Gautama declared that the Samgha was like an ocean where waters from many rivers poured in, however, after reaching the ocean all waters became sea-water and likewise in the Samgha people from all the varnas came, however, after coming into the Samgha everyone became a monk; varna division was abolished.
Therefore, Ambedkar was absolutely correct when he said that Manusmriti was a counter-revolution against Buddhist revolution in our country. Manusmriti was a counter-revolution against all sorts of progresses and advancements of Indian society.
Who Were the Shudras?
The Shudras were the toiling masses of our country who were the producers of social surplus. Although initially the Vaisyas used to cultivate land, however, gradually they were confined into trade only and cultivation became the task of the Shudras. Ambedkar tried to find the answer that why Brahmanism so mercilessly oppressed the Shudras!
In his famous book “Who were the Shudras?”, Ambedkar went into many important discussions, however, he missed the main point. It was not unnatural for a non-Marxist like Ambedkar. The important thing was that in spite of being a non-Marxist he did a magnificent job in order to understand the Indian history.
What Ambedkar missed was that as the ruler of the country the Brahmin-Kshatriya combine had to oppress the surplus producers ruthlessly in order to snatch the surplus from their hands. Manusmriti was the law by which the Brahmanistic rulers used to extract the social surplus.
Manu for Endogamy
It is absolutely clear that without endogamy the varna-division cannot exist. Before Manu inter-varna marriage was not prohibited. Ambedkar cited examples of some leading characters in Brahmanistic literature who married their partners from other varnas. King Santanu was a Kshatriya but his wife Ganga was a Shudra. His second wife Satyavati was also a Shudra. Satyavati’s first marriage was with Parashara, a Brahmin and their son was famous K.D. Vyasa, according to mythology who composed the Mahabharata and re-arranged The Vedas into four distinct books. Jajati was another important king in Vedic mythology who was a Kshatriya but his first wife Devjani was a Brahmin and his second wife Sharmistha was an Asura, non-Aryan. Jagatkaru was an important sage in Vedic mythology who married Manasa, a Naga, non-Aryan.
However Manu said:
It is declared that a Sudra woman alone [can be] the wife of a Sudra…. [Manu: 3.13]
According to Atri and to [Gautama] the son of Utathya, he who weds a Sudra woman becomes an outcaste, according to Saunaka on the birth of a son, and according to Bhrigu ha who has [male] offspring from a [Sudra female, alone]. [Manu: 3.16]
A Brahmin who takes a Sudra wife to his bed, will [after death] sink into hell; if he begates a child by her, he will lose the rank of a Brahmana. [Manu: 3.17]
Manu on the Women
Manu knew very well that the women were very important social force who could jeopardize his entire plan and proposal of endogamy. So he became absolutely ruthless against them. He declared without hesitation:
It is the nature of women to seduce men in this [world]; for that reason the wise are never unguarded in [the company of] females. [Manu: 2.213]
For women are able to lead astray in [this] world not only a fool, but even a learned man, and [to make] him a slave of desire and anger. [Manu: 2.214]
Manu’s dicta on the women came in a sharp contrast with the preceding years when many major leaders in the Buddhist Samgha were women. We have already told about Soma who was the daughter of the main priest of king Bimbhisara. T.W. Rhys Davids furnished a magnificent example regarding the ideological position of Buddhism on women citing the psychological struggle between a right concept and a wrong concept in form of Soma’s struggle with Mara, the Evil One. One day when Soma was busy in meditation Mara arrived in her mind and said: “The vantage ground the sages may attain, is hard to reach with her two-finger test, woman cannot achieve those distant heights.” It was said that women cook rice for ages but she never understood whether it was boiled or not unless taking out some and press by two fingers. That was the level of women intellect. Soma replied in a verse: “How should our woman’s nature hinder us,/ Whose hearts are firmly set, whose feet mount up/ Unfaltering to those cool heights of Truth,/ In growing knowledge of the Arahat way?/ On every hand the love of pleasure yields,/ Borne down by knowledge and sense of Law,/ And the thick gloom of ignorance is rent/ In twain. Know this, O Evil One! And know/ Thyself, O Death! Found out and worsted!” [Buddhism: Its History and Literatue/ TW Rhys Davids]
Davids told about another lady teacher Sukka in Buddhist Samgha. “Born of a wealthy family in Rajagaha, she became an adherent of the Buddha’s, already in the first year of his public appearance as a teacher, and afterwards studying under another famous lady teacher [the DhammaDina], she was converted and became an Arahat. She then attained to such mastery in exegesis and extemporary exposition that, in her hermitage near Rajagaha, she gave lectures open to the public, and gained great influence for good among the residents in her native city.” [ibid]
People used to say about Sukka: “O child of light, Sukka, by Truth set free/ From cravings dire; firm, self-possessed, serene,/ Bear to the end this thy transient frame;/ For thou hast conquered Mara and his hosts!” [ibid]
The Brahmanistic counter-revolution launched heinous war against women. Manu said:
Women do not care for beauty, nor is their attention fixed on age; [thinking], ‘[It is enough that] he is a man’, they give themselves to the handsome and to the ugly. [Manu: 9.14]
Through their passion for men, through their mutable temper, through their natural heartlessness, they becomes disloyal towards their husbands, however carefully they may be guarded in this [world]. [Manu: 9.15]
[When creating them] Manu allotted to women [a love of their] bed, [of their] seat, and [of] ornament, impure desires, wrath, dishonesty, malice, and bad conduct. [Manu: 9.17]
Day and night woman must be kept in dependence by the males [of] their [families], and, if they attach themselves to sensual enjoyments, they must be kept under one’s control. [Manu: 9.2]
Her father protects [her] in childhood, her husband protects [her] in youth, and her sons protect [her] in old age; a woman is never fit for independence. [Manu: 9.3]
According to Manu’s law women had no right on property because she was never allowed to stay independently and uncontrolled. A wife can be beaten if she commits misconduct. They have no right to study as they are “impure as falsehood” according to Manu. Joining any anti-Vedic sects became forbidden for the women under Manu’s law.
Therefore, it can be seen that all progressiveness which the country achieved in Buddhist India became under huge attack by Brahmanism and the whole society started to be dragged into a dark age. Ambedkar aptly said that Manu’s emergence was a counter-revolution against Buddhist revolution as it was clearly evident that ideologically Manu’s law actually was Mara’s law.
Manusmriti in Modern Days?
Many people think that a law like Manu’s cannot be implemented in modern days. What many BJP leaders demand to replace present constitution by Manusmriti is an empty threat. Actually, belittling the danger of resurgent Brahmanism leads to this type of assurance. One may notice that with BJP coming to the central government in 2014, atrocities on the dalits have increased manifold. Everyday dalits are murdered, dalit women are being raped for. This is only because they belong to so called backward castes. For just sitting on a chair in front of a Thakur or a Brahmin caused murder of dalit man. Riding a horse in marriage ceremony invited the wrath of the upper caste people led to killings. The number of honour killing is increased. Actually Manusmriti is being implemented without naming it. At present demonization of the Muslims is a part of Brahmanist conspiracy to build a Hindurashtra with Manusmriti as its constitution. All hard-earned rights of the working masses are being snatched in the direction to convert the condition of the people as Shudra described in Manusmriti. All these steps are needed for Saffron Corporate Fascism to save the crisis ridden capitalism. Therefore, these steps are not separate from each other, rather parts of an integrated whole of Fascist rule with its own peculiar form in Indian socio-political climate. All revolutionary and democratic forces should join hands against this heinous conspiracy of Brahmanistic ruling force of the country. n
RSS Demands Promulgation of Laws of Manu in Place of Indian Constitution, What is Going to be the Fate of Dalits and Women?
how loyal the RSS is to the Constitution of India can be known by the following statement of Golwalkar which is being reproduced from Bunch of Thoughts which is not only selection of the writings of Golwalkar but also a Bible for the RSS cadres.
“Our Constitution too is just a cumbersome and heterogeneous piecing together of various articles from various Constitutions of Western countries. It has absolutely nothing which can be called our own. Is there a single word of reference in its guiding principles as to what our national mission is and what our keynote in life is?”
In fact, RSS wanted this Constitution to be replaced by Manusmriti or Manu Code or laws of Manu which is known for its derogatory and inhuman references to Sudras, Untouchables and women. The Constituent Assembly of India finalized the Constitution of India on November 26, 1949, RSS was not happy. Its organ, Organiser in an editorial on November 30, 1949, complained: “But in our Constitution there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu’s Laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing.”
By demanding promulgation of laws of Manu in an Independent India RSS was simply following its mentor, philosopher and guide VD Savarkar. According to him, “Manusmriti is that scripture which is most worship-able after Vedas for our Hindu Nation and which from ancient times has become the basis of our culture-customs, thought and practice. This book for centuries has codified the spiritual and divine march of our nation. Even today the rules which are followed by crores of Hindus in their lives and practice are based on Manusmriti. Today Manusmriti is Hindu Law”.
What kind of civilization the RSS and Hindutva camp want to build by enforcing the laws of Manu, can be known by having a glimpse of the laws prescribed by Manu for the lower castes/Untouchables and women. Some of these dehumanizing and degenerate laws, which are presented here, are self-explanatory.
Laws of Manu Concerning Dalits/ Untouchables
- For the sake of the prosperity of the worlds (the divine one) caused the Brahmana, the Kshatriya, the Vaisya, and the Sudra to proceed from his mouth, his arm, his thighs and his feet. (I/31)
- One occupation only the lord prescribed to the Sudras, to serve meekly even these (other) three castes. (I/91)
- Once-born man (a Sudra), who insults a twice-born man with gross invective, shall have his tongue cut out; for he is of low origin. (VIII/270)
- If he mentions the names and castes (jati) of the (twice-born) with contumely, an iron nail, ten fingers long, shall be thrust red-hot into his mouth. (VIII/271)
5- If he arrogantly teaches Brahmanas their duty, the king shall cause hot oil to be poured into his mouth and into his ears. (VIII/272)
- With whatever limb a man of a low caste does hurt to (a man of the three) highest (castes), even that limb shall be cut off; that is the teaching of Manu. (VIII/279)
- He who raises his hand or a stick, shall have his hand cut off; he who in anger kicks with his foot, shall have his foot cut off. (VIII/280)
- A low-caste man who tries to place himself on the same seat with a man of a high caste, shall be branded on his hip and be banished, or (the king) shall cause his buttock to be gashed. (VIII/281)
As per the Manu Code if Sudras are to be given most stringent punishments for even petty violations/actions, the same Code of Manu is very lenient towards Brahmins. Shloka 380 in Chapter VIII bestowing profound love on Brahmins decrees: “Let him never slay a Brahmana, though he have committed all (possible) crimes; let him banish such an (offender), leaving all his property (to him) and (his body) unhurt.”
For RSS Casteism is synonymous with Hindu Nation.
Faith of RSS brass in Manusmriti, naturally, leads them to believe in Casteism too. For RSS Casteism is the essence of Hindu Nationalism. Golwalkar did not mince words in declaring that Casteism was synonymous with the Hindu Nation. According to him, the Hindu people are none else but, “The Hindu People, they said, is the Virat Purusha, the Almighty manifesting Himself. Though they did not use the word ‘Hindu’, it is clear from the following description of the Almighty in Purusha Sukta wherein it is stated that the sun & the moon are His eyes, the stars and the skies are created from his nabhi [navel] and Brahmin is the head, Kshatriya the hands, Vaishya the thighs and Shudra the feet. [Italics as per the original text] This means that the people who have this fourfold arrangement, i.e., the Hindu People, is [sic] our God. This supreme vision of Godhead is the very core of our concept of ‘nation’ and has permeated our thinking and given rise to various unique concepts of our cultural heritage.”
Laws of Manu Concerning Women
- Day and night woman must be kept in dependence by the males (of) their (families), and, if they attach themselves to sensual enjoyments, they must be kept under one’s control. (IX/2)
- Her father protects (her) in childhood, her husband protects (her) in youth, and her sons protect (her) in old age; a woman is never fit for independence. (IX/3)
- Women must particularly be guarded against evil inclinations, however trifling (they may appear); for, if they are not guarded, they will bring sorrow on two families. (IX/5)
- Considering that the highest duty of all castes, even weak husbands (must) strive to guard their wives. (IX/6)
- No man can completely guard women by force; but they can be guarded by the employment of the (following) expedients:
- Let the (husband) employ his (wife) in the collection and expenditure of his wealth, in keeping (everything) clean, in (the fulfilment of) religious duties, in the preparation of his food, and in looking after the household utensils.
- Women, confined in the house under trustworthy and obedient servants, are not (well) guarded; but those who of their own accord keep guard over themselves, are well guarded. (IX/12)
- Women do not care for beauty, nor is their attention fixed on age; (thinking), ‘(It is enough that) he is a man,’ they give themselves to the handsome and to the ugly. (IX/14)
- Through their passion for men, through their mutable temper, through their natural heartlessness, they become disloyal towards their husbands, however carefully they may be guarded in this (world). (IX/15)
- (When creating them) Manu allotted to women (a love of their) bed, (of their) seat and (of) ornament, impure desires, wrath, dishonesty, malice, and bad conduct. (IX/17)
- For women no (sacramental) rite (is performed) with sacred texts, thus the law is settled; women (who are) destitute of strength and destitute of (the knowledge of) Vedic texts, (are as impure as) falsehood (itself), that is a fixed rule. (IX/18)
Reproduced parts of Manu Code above need no further elaboration and commentary. They are too glaringly venomous, fascist and degenerated against Untouchables who are referred to as Sudras by Manu. Perhaps this was the reason that the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche who contributed immensely to the growth of totalitarian ideas in Europe in the 20th century, fell in love with this work.
With the rise of Hindutva politics in the Hindi heartland there is a flood of low-priced editions of Manusmriti. In one of such editions by one of the biggest publishers of pocket books in Hindi, the back cover has the following glorification of Manusmriti: “The Manusmriti is the oldest social system of the world which establishes constitution and justice. Largely the social and judicial systems of today’s India are modelled after this book. It is an essential book for each family, organization and society.”
Such publishers remain unconcerned about the poison and hatred, which Manusmriti contains and conveys against the Sudras/Untouchables and women. There seems to be an inherent relationship between the mass publication of such books (with increasing violence against the lower castes and women in the country) and the rise of the Hindu Right. It is high time that Nation realizes that the RSS and Hindu Right’s dream of recreating the golden past is fraught with terrible dangers. Whatever it may be saying about the Muslims and Christians posing dangers as minorities it may end up depriving the Hindu Dalits and all women of all their human rights. Their love for the scriptures like Manusmriti only underlines the fact that the real targets are the Dalits and women of the Hindu society.
The story does not end with Manusmriti. The RSS book stores stock and sale titles like How to lead a Household Life by Swami Ramsukhdas which openly preach violence. This title is part of low priced anti-woman literature published by Geeta Press. Here is a glimpse from this book which is in the question-answer form and available in English, Hindi and other regional Indian languages.
“Question: - What should the wife do if her husband beats her and troubles her?
Answer: - The wife should think that she is paying her debt of her previous life and thus her sins are being destroyed and she is becoming pure. When her parents come to know this, they can take her to their own house because they have not given their daughter training to face this sort of bad behaviour.
Question: - What should she do if her parents don’t take her to their own house?
Answer: - Under such circumstances what can the helpless wife do? She should reap the fruit of her past actions. She should patiently bear the beatings of her husband. By bearing them she will be freed from her sins and it is possible that her husband may start loving her.” There is blatant preaching in favour of the inhuman Sati as we will see in the following:
“Question: - Is ‘Sati Pratha’ (viz., the tradition of the wife being cremated with the dead body of the husband on the funeral pyre) proper or improper?
Answer: - A wife’s cremation with the dead body of her husband on the funeral pyre is not a tradition. She, in whose mind truth and enthusiasm come, burns even without fire and she does not suffer any pain while she burns. This is not a tradition that she should do so, but this is her truth, righteousness and faith in scriptural decorum.”
It is to be noted here that a copy of Manusmriti was burnt as a protest in the presence of Dr. BR Ambedkar during historic Mahad agitation in December, 1927. n
The Status Of Women As
Depicted By Manu
Hirday N Patwari
The Manusmriti also known as Manav Dharam Shastra, is the earliest metrical work on Brahminical Dharma in Hinduism. According to Hindu mythology, the Manusmriti is the word of Brahma, and it is classified as the most authoritative statement on Dharma .The scripture consists of 2690 verses, divided into 12 chapters. It is presumed that the actual human author of this compilation used the eponym ‘Manu’, which has led the text to be associated by Hindus with the first human being and the first king in the Indian tradition.
Although no details of this eponymous author’s life are known, it is likely that he belonged to a conservative Brahman class somewhere in Northern India. Hindu apologists consider the Manusmriti as the divine code of conduct and, accordingly, the status of women as depicted in the text has been interpreted as Hindu divine law. While defending Manusmriti as divine code of conduct for all including women, apologists often quote the verse: “yatrnaryastopojyantay, ramantaytatrdevta[3/56](where women are provided place of honor, gods are pleased and reside there in that household), but they deliberately forget all those verses that are full of prejudice, hatred and discrimination against women. Here are some of the ‘celebrated’ derogatory comments about women in the Manusmriti :
- “Swabhavevnarinam …” – 2/213. It is the nature of women to seduce men in this world; for that reason the wise are never unguarded in the company of females.
- “Avidvamsamlam…” – 2/214. Women, true to their class character, are capable of leading astray men in this world, not only a fool but even a learned and wise man. Both become slaves of desire.
- “Matra swastra …” – 2/215. Wise people should avoid sitting alone with one’s mother, daughter or sister. Since carnal desire is always strong, it can lead to temptation.
- “Naudwahay…” – 3/8. One should not marry women who has have reddish hair, redundant parts of body [such as 6 fingers], one who is often sick, one without hair or having excessive hair and one who has red eyes.
- “Nrakshvraksh …” – 3/9. One should not marry women whose names are similar to constellations, trees, rivers, those from a low caste, mountains, birds, snakes, slaves or those whose names inspires terror.
- “Yasto na bhavet …” – 3/10. Wise men should not marry women who do not have a brother and whose parents are not socially well known.
- “Uchayangh…” – 3/11. Wise men should marry only women who are free from bodily defects, with beautiful names, grace/gait like an elephant, moderate hair on the head and body, soft limbs and small teeth.
- “Shudr-aivbharya…” – 3/12.Brahman men can marry Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaish and even Shudra women but Shudra men can marry only Shudra women.
- “Na Brahman kshatriya..” – 3/14. Although Brahman, Kshatriya and Vaish men have been allowed inter-caste marriages, even in distress they should not marry Shudra women.
- “Heenjatistriyam…” – 3/15. When twice born [dwij=Brahman, Kshatriya and Vaish] men in their folly marry low caste Shudra women, they are responsible for the degradation of their whole family. Accordingly, their children adopt all the demerits of the Shudra caste.
- “Shudramshaynam…” – 3/17. A Brahman who marries a Shudra woman, degrades himself and his whole family ,becomes morally degenerated , loses Brahman status and his children too attain status of shudra.
- “Daivpitrya…” – 3/18. The offerings made by such a person at the time of established rituals are neither accepted by God nor by the departed soul; guests also refuse to have meals with him and he is bound to go to hell after death.
- “Chandalash …” – 3/240. Food offered and served to Brahman after Shradh ritual should not be seen by a chandal, a pig, a cock,a dog, and a menstruating women.
- “Na ashniyat…” – 4/43. A Brahman, true defender of his class, should not have his meals in the company of his wife and even avoid looking at her. Furthermore, he should not look towards her when she is having her meals or when she sneezes/yawns.
- “Na ajyanti…” – 4/44. A Brahman in order to preserve his energy and intellect, must not look at women who applies collyrium to her eyes, one who is massaging her nude body or one who is delivering a child.
- “Mrshyanti…” – 4/217. One should not accept meals from a woman who has extra marital relations; nor from a family exclusively dominated/managed by women or a family whose 10 days of impurity because of death have not passed.
- “Balyava…” – 5/150. A female child, young woman or old woman is not supposed to work independently even at her place of residence.
- “Balyepitorvashay…” – 5/151. Girls are supposed to be in the custody of their father when they are children, women must be under the custody of their husband when married and under the custody of her son as widows. In no circumstances is she allowed to assert herself independently.
- “Asheela kamvrto…” – 5/157. Men may be lacking virtue, be sexual perverts, immoral and devoid of any good qualities, and yet women must constantly worship and serve their husbands.
- “Na aststrinam…” – 5/158. Women have no divine right to perform any religious ritual, nor make vows or observe a fast. Her only duty is to obey and please her husband and she will for that reason alone be exalted in heaven.
- “Kamam to…” – 5/160. At her pleasure [after the death of her husband], let her emaciate her body by living only on pure flowers, roots of vegetables and fruits. She must not even mention the name of any other men after her husband has died.
- “Vyabhacharay…” – 5/167. Any women violating duty and code of conduct towards her husband, is disgraced and becomes a patient of leprosy. After death, she enters womb of Jackal.
- “Kanyambhajanti…” – 8/364. In case women enjoy sex with a man from a higher caste, the act is not punishable. But on the contrary, if women enjoy sex with lower caste men, she is to be punished and kept in isolation.
- “Utmamsevmansto…” – 8/365. In case a man from a lower caste enjoys sex with a woman from a higher caste, the person in question is to be awarded the death sentence. And if a person satisfies his carnal desire with women of his own caste, he should be asked to pay compensation to the women’s faith.
- “Ya to kanya…” – 8/369. In case a woman tears the membrane [hymen] of her Vagina, she shall instantly have her head shaved or two fingers cut off and made to ride on Donkey.
- “Bhartaram…” – 8/370. In case a women, proud of the greatness of her excellence or her relatives, violates her duty towards her husband, the King shall arrange to have her thrown before dogs at a public place.
- “Pita rakhshati…” – 9/3. Since women are not capable of living independently, she is to be kept under the custody of her father as child, under her husband as a woman and under her son as widow.
- “Imam hi sarw…” – 9/6. It is the duty of all husbands to exert total control over their wives. Even physically weak husbands must strive to control their wives.
- “Patibharyam …” – 9/8. The husband, after the conception of his wife, becomes the embryo and is born again of her. This explains why women are called Jaya.
- “Panamdurjan…” – 9/13. Consuming liquor, association with wicked persons, separation from her husband, rambling around, sleeping for unreasonable hours and dwelling -are six demerits of women.
- “Naitarupam…” – 9/14. Such women are not loyal and have extra marital relations with men without consideration for their age.
- “Poonshchalya…” 9/15. Because of their passion for men, immutable temper and natural heartlessness, they are not loyal to their husbands.
- “Na astistrinam…” – 9/18. While performing namkarm and jatkarm, Vedic mantras are not to be recited by women, because women are lacking in strength and knowledge of Vedic texts. Women are impure and represent falsehood.
- “Devra…sapinda…” – 9/58. On failure to produce offspring with her husband, she may obtain offspring by cohabitation with her brother-in-law [devar] or with some other relative [sapinda] on her in-law’s side.
- “Vidwayam…” – 9/60. He who is appointed to cohabit with a widow shall approach her at night, be anointed with clarified butter and silently beget one son, but by no means a second one.
- “Yathavidy…” – 9/70. In accordance with established law, the sister-in-law [bhabhi] must be clad in white garments; with pure intent her brother-in-law [devar] will cohabitate with her until she conceives.
- “Ati kramay…” – 9/77. Any women who disobey orders of her lethargic, alcoholic and diseased husband shall be deserted for three months and be deprived of her ornaments.
- “Vandyashtamay…” – 9/80. A barren wife may be superseded in the 8th year; she whose children die may be superseded in the 10th year and she who bears only daughters may be superseded in the 11th year; but she who is quarrelsome may be superseded without delay.
- “Trinsha…” – 9/93. In case of any problem in performing religious rites, males between the age of 24 and 30 should marry a female between the age of 8 and 12.
- “Yambrahmansto…” – 9/177. In case a Brahman man marries Shudra woman, their son will be called ‘Parshav’ or ‘Shudra’ because his social existence is like a dead body. n
Why Caste Persists,
And How to End It
Ambedkar’s understanding was the polar opposite to what the Hindutva ideologues are arguing today. Ambedkar was for the abolition of caste while Hindutva ideologues want to retain and perpetuate the caste system, shrewdly disguised in a new language as Samajik Samrasta (Social Harmony)
Why, nearly seven decades after Independence and adoption of Indian Constitution, the caste system and the injustices inherent in it, including inequality, marginalization and oppression, persist is something we need to ponder. Two points that need to be taken seriously are, one, the roots of caste system and two, the material base of caste system. This is what will help us to chalk out strategies to eradicate this system.
Caste System: Origins
According to Ambedkar, caste system arises from religion. He said, “Caste is the natural outcome of certain religious beliefs which have the sanction of the Shastras, which are believed to contain the command of divinely inspired sages who were endowed with a supernatural wisdom and whose commands, therefore, cannot be disobeyed without committing a sin.”
Therefore, he calls for divorcing of the Shastras from Hinduism. He said, “You must take the stand that Buddha took. You must take the stand which Guru Nanak took. You must not only discard the Shastras, you must deny their authority, as did Buddha and Nanak.” He further wrote, “I have, therefore, no hesitation in saying that such a religion must be destroyed, and I say there is nothing irreligious in working for the destruction of such a religion. Indeed I hold that it is your bounden duty to tear off the mask, to remove the misrepresentation that is caused by misnaming the Law as Religion. This is an essential step for you. Once you clear the minds of the people of this misconception, and enable them to realize that what you are told is Religious is not Religion, but that it is really Law, you will be in a position to urge its amendment or abolition.” This explains to us the deeper alliance of these scriptures and the dharm gurus (clergy) upholding them and perpetuating the system of social hierarchy that is part of the Indian feudal social structure.
Buddha responded to the caste system and his message spread far and wide. His teachings were later countered by the formulations around those of Manusmriti. Further evolution of feudal society and the division of labour put the seal on the system. There was ideological opposition to this structure from the Bhakti saints in medieval period. Saints opposed this inequality in the name of religion. However, Brahmanical Hinduism and its scriptures continued to be the bulwark for the perpetuation of caste system.
The process of significant change in the social system begins with the coming of British. Education and industrialization helped free people from the clutches of caste slavery. The social changes began, albeit slowly. Phule’s efforts to encourage Dalits to take to modern education and jobs in the cities proved significant in challenging the caste system. This social transition ran parallel to the freedom movement.
The issues of eradication of caste were linked to the abolition of landlordism and Brahmanism. Landlordism and Brahmanism go hand in hand. The colonial powers were not interested in abolishing landlordism; rather, they built on this exploitative system to fulfil their own plunder project. This is unlike many other countries where industrialization did away with feudal system.
During this period, many social movements picked up further. Inspired by the ideals of equality the “non-Brahman” movement took on the caste-based hierarchy and feudal-brahmanical forces in the 1920s, in the Nagpur region of today’s Maharashtra. In 1920, ordinary people were being encouraged to take part in the Non-Cooperation Movement. A section of the elite perceived these movements as a major threat to the prevailing social hierarchies, including the caste system. They began to view these changes as detrimental to their social interests and their hegemony. “Hinduism is in danger”, they would say. Faced with this twin opposition to the hegemony of the landlords and Brahmins, some elites of Hindu society formed Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925.
The ideology propounded by RSS was the continuation of Savarkar’s Hindutva ideology aiming at a Hindu nation. Savarkar picked up on caste hierarchy in Aryan society and took it further. “Manusmriti is that scripture which is most worshippable after the Vedas for our Hindu Nation and which from ancient times has become the basis of our culture, customs, thought and practice. This book for centuries has codified the spiritual and divine march of our nation… Today Manusmriti is the Hindu law”. Just to remind you, it was the same book that Ambedkar burnt.
Hindutva and Ambedkar
Ambedkar’s understanding was the polar opposite to what the Hindutva ideologues are arguing today. Ambedkar was for the abolition of caste while Hindutva ideologues want to retain and perpetuate the caste system, shrewdly disguised in a new language, as Samajik Samrasta (Social Harmony). The process of social transformation that began in the 19th century picked up speed after Independence as the reach of industrialization and education in society became wider and deeper in society. Its results became obvious when Dalit-OBCs started leading social movements and they could be ignored no longer.
On the other hand, the polarization of the middle class (Brahmin, Bania) and rich peasants started taking place all over the country from around 1980. The trigger was the issue of reservations for the lower castes. This is what gave rise to caste violence directed against the lower castes. These anti-reservation agitations played a key role in consolidating the base of communal politics (Hindutva) involving the upper castes and upwardly mobile middle classes. The RSS and its affiliates (Sangh Parivar) led these upper-caste onslaughts.
Affirmative Action Versus Identity Politics
The issue of affirmative action became an irritant for the affluent upper castes. The upper castes struck back in the form of anti-reservation riots. In Gujarat, for example, the educated middle classes, mainly the Brahmans, Banias and Patidars, rose up against reservations. The clashes between savarnas and the Dalits in the industrial periphery of Ahmedabad gradually degenerated into a caste war that spread to the other towns and districts of Gujarat. In many villages in North and central Gujarat where land-owning Patidars were dominant, Dalit settlements were burnt.
Caste tension resurfaced in 1985 in the form of the second anti-reservation agitation. Later, in 1990, with V.P. Singh implementing Mandal Commission’s recommendations (1990), the resolve of Hindutva politics to oppose affirmative action took the form of Advani’s Rath yatra.
Hindutva, coordinated by the Sangh Parivar, came to occupy national politics. This has a base among certain sections of society that are opposed to equality among castes. “The Hindutva nationalist movement has always been known for upper-caste, Brahmanical character. The Hindutva ideology relies on an organic view of society, where the castes are seen as the harmonious limbs of the same body.” The strategy of the Sangh Parivar is to divert the attention from these caste issues by talking identity. This is a multipronged strategy. There has been political attempt at mass mobilization to divert attention from core social issues. At another level, the local branches of the RSS have focused on attracting Hindus who valued this ethos, either because they belong to the upper castes or because they want to emulate them. The technique of “conversion” of the lower-caste people to Hindutva relies on the same logic as what M.N.Srinivas called “Sanskritization”.
The leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership, initially drawn mainly from the upper castes, realized the need to expand its social base to achieve electoral success. The Sangh Parivar changed its strategy in the mid-Eighties. From attacking Dalit-OBCs, they went on to co-opting them socially and culturally. They even succeeded in making Dalits and Adivasis the foot soldiers of Hindutva in campaigns like the Babri Masjid demolition, Gujarat carnage and Kandhamal violence. Yatras, campaigns and religious symbols were used to rope them in. Advani’s Rath Yatra saw pitched battles between Dalits and Muslims.
Adivasis and Dalits
The process was replicated at different points in time. RSS “successfully” created a rift between the Hindus and the Christians among Adivasis. Because social reforms were not penetrative enough, modern institutions and values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity remained weak and at places Hindutva, by default, provided the much-needed identity to the Dalit-OBCs. This became evident in the wake of the implementation of the Mandal commission’s recommendations. Atal Bihari Vajpayee succinctly captured Sangh Parivar’s response to the Mandal commission. He stated that they have brought up Kamandal (religion-based issues) in response to Mandal (symbolizing the aspirations of Dalit-OBCs).
Later, by using clever strategies, the Sangh Parivar was also able to provide upward mobility to a section of Dalits who were aspiring for a better place within Hindu society. Gradually, the ire against Dalits and OBCs was replaced by anger against Muslims and Christians. Anand Teltumde points out that Hindutva politics has dislodged untouchability, poverty, inequality and discrimination from among the central concerns of Dalits. “Along with this, Hindutva seeks to replace the concepts of rights and dignity enshrined in Indian Constitution with the notion of obligations inherent in Brahmanism. They don’t even remotely relate to the inhuman conditions in which the Dalits live or express an iota of remorse for the social oppression that they themselves caused.” Teltumde further points out that Dalits and Adivasis are brainwashed, “in the name of Hindu unity”, to becoming foot soldiers in enforcing the Hindutva agenda.
Challenges Ahead: Eradicating Caste
Today, the major obstacle to eradication of the caste system comes from a politics that is based on caste inequality. That is Hindutva, which is a politics based on Brahmanical Hinduism and which has dominated political discourse over the past three decades. The struggle against caste system and the struggle against Hindutva politics mean almost the same thing.
What we need to do is to fight against Brahmanism-based politics, led by the Sangh Parivar. The word “politics” here is not being used in the narrow sense of electoral politics; we have to see the totality of social movements. The erosion of rational thought, the undermining of scientific temper, the promotion of blind faith, narrow religiosity, the mushrooming of Godmen – all this feeds the rise of the Hindu right wing.
There is also a need to address anti-Dalit atrocities, as well as the rights of the weaker section of society – their right to employment, education, food and health. The widening gulf between the haves and have-nots has to be narrowed through socio-economic policies. A society free enough for one to choose one’s partner, leading to inter-caste marriages, is key to abolishing the caste system and the psychology that accompanies it.
The cultural and literary movements form the social foundation for political changes. Many writers and scholars are working towards strengthening these movements. This is what we need to value and uphold. Sectarianism pushes society backwards. That is what an alliance of progressive forces in the country needs to oppose. n
 Ambedkar, ‘Annihilation of Caste’, Writings and Speeches, Government of Maharashtra, 1987, Volume 1
 VD Savarkar, ‘Women in Manusmriti’, in Savarkar Samagra (A collection of Savarkar’s writings in Hindi), Prabhat, New Delhi, 2002,
 Christophe Jaffrelot, Hindu Nationalism, Penguin, Delhi, 1993,
 Srinivas, 1995:7 quoted in Jaffrelot, ‘The Rise of OBCs in North India’, OUP 2010, Delhi
 Teltumde, Ambedkar on Muslims: Myths and Facts, VAK Mumbai
Launch Campaign Against Manuvadi Hindutva, Theoretical Base of RSS Neo-Fascism!
Organize Campaign from 28th September, Shahid Bhagat Singh Birthday, to 25th December, When Manusmriti Was Burnt at Nagpur in 1927 by Women, Dalits, and Other Oppressed Sections Under the Leadership of Dr. Ambedkar!
Compatriots, friends and comrades!
Presently we are witnessing all round intensification of corporate loot using the cover of Covid-19 making tens of millions jobless and extremely pauperized. Along with this, the fascist offensive of RSS parivar is intensifying. Fascism has always emerged and developed as an outcome of the extreme intensification of the internal contradictions under the rule of finance capital. Presently, fascism has broken out as RSS fascism in our country on the Hindutva Manuvadi theoretical basis. When the contradictions in the capitalist imperialist countries as well as in all other countries ruled by their junior partners have sharpened and has led to a severe internal crisis which cannot be resolved through normal methods of surplus value extraction from both internal and external sources, the ruling corporate classes elevate the fascist forces to power.
What happened in India? As the hitherto main ruling class party, the Congress, could not resolve the crisis during its decade long UPA rule, the openly fascist RSS/BJP was elevated to power under the leadership of Modi in 2014. Following this the working class and all oppressed classes and sections have come under the consequences of the economic crisis intensified further by the Covid19 pandemic under the corporate fascist rule of Modi led by RSS fascism.
Already, the struggle against it has started emerging and developing in various forms in different areas. Spontaneous movements of youth and students have also started. It is the task of the revolutionary left forces to unite with all struggling forces, so that the Modi government can be increasingly challenged in the streets. At the same time, the Modi government led by RSS/BJP is using the increasing threat from the Covid19 pandemic, jingoism whipped up using India-China border standoff etc to divert the attention of the people from their immediate problems. It is also resorting to intensifying saffronization of all fields of life as well as the state machinery for it. The 5th August Bhoomi Puja for Ram temple, and the kar-seva by thousands of RSS men are also used to expand the majoritarian Hindutva aura around it. The soft Hindutva line of Congress and most of the opposition parties is in effect helping BJP in this.
Though these opposition parties and the Left Front parties led by CPI(M) are politically campaigning against the suppression of all political dissent and transferring all burden of the economic crisis and the pandemic crisis over the masses, they do not attack the Hindutva theoretical base of the RSS. Only a small section of revolutionary intellectuals and revolutionary left forces are attacking the Hindutva Manuvadi fascist line of RSS/BJP. So, if the RSS is not weakened and defeated by attacking its theoretical base, consistently through uninterrupted campaigns, through ideological, cultural attacks on its Brahmanical, Manuvadi Hindutva line, along with the struggles in other fields, this theoretical root of the corporate fascist rule cannot be destroyed.
So, the CC calls for mobilizing a powerful all round campaign, taking lessons from the experience of the renaissance movement, and the hitherto theoretical struggle against the RSS and its ideology, and in continuation to these. As a new beginning, the Central Committee has called for an All India campaign from 28th September, the birth day of Shahid Bhagat Singh, to 25th December, the 93rd anniversary of burning of Manusmriti in 1927 before a large mobilization of women, dalits and other oppressed sections, under the leadership of Dr. Ambedkar, soon after the formation of RSS in 1925 with Manusmriti as its theoretical base. Its anniversary is observed as the Women’s Liberation Day every year. While the Party is launching such a campaign of great significance uniting with the mass organizations active among women, youth, students, and cultural field, and the Caste Annihilation Movement, the CC calls for active efforts to bring organizations of dalits, Adivasis and other oppressed peoples also in this platform. This theoretical offensive against RSS should target Manusmriti, Bunch of Thoughts, Savarkar’s writings, and all basic documents of RSS. To make this campaign successful, all out efforts should be made to ensure participation of the revolutionary intellectuals who have made significant contribution in exposing the theoretical base of RSS through their articles and campaigns already.
Presently, not only Congress and other ruling class parties, but BSP like organizations which had campaigned against Manusmriti once, are also compromising with the ruling ideas of ruling RSS/BJP. While the liberal bourgeois intellectuals have more or less become the supporters of RSS parivar, the CPI(M) intellectuals are also writing about ‘positive things’ in Ramayana, Gita, Manusmriti, Anand Math etc. Many so-called left intellectuals are even compromising with saffron forces. So, launching a theoretical offensive against the fascist ideology of RSS will help to expose these opportunist positions; It will help to launch an uncompromising ideological struggle against the ideology of RSS based on Marxist-Leninist positions; and it shall inspire the new generation of youth and students to study more about RSS ideology, and the Marxist theory which paves the way for launching class struggle in all fields, including the fields of theory and revolutionary practice, with an all-embracing, comprehensive perspective, and advancing to the social change which shall herald the creation of a casteless, genuinely secular democratic and egalitarian society.
The Central Committee of the CPI(ML) Red Star appeals to all progressive, democratic, struggling forces who aspire for the overthrow of all forces of reaction, and creation of a new society with the annihilation all inequalities based on gender, race, caste etc and with socialist orientation to actively participate in this campaign.
Read the booklet in PDF: CAMPAIGN AGAINST MANUVADI HINDUTVA, THEORETICAL BASE OF RSS NEO-FASCISM!
The spread of Corona Virus in India has been on the upswing despite the measures undertaken by the state. In most parts of India the suffering has been immense. The central Government took up the issue of Covid 19, with great amount of delay. From early February WHO started warning the Governments all around about the impending dangers of the pandemic. That time Indian Government was busy in organizing ‘Namaste Trump’ and the ruling party at Centre was busy with the operation Kamal to overthrow the Congress Government in MP. As The Janata Curfew was declared on 22nnd March and total lockdown on 24th March, the issue started being taken up seriously. To shirk the responsibility of the state, it found a very convenient target. The Tabligi Jamaat’s (TJ) seminar (13-15 March) in Markaz Nijamuddin was blamed for the spread of Corona by the Government and then by the media. Definitely some lapses must have occurred in organizing of the seminar at this time, and a large assembly taking place during a pandemic is inexcusable at one level.
At the same time thousands of people had come to India for the event ‘Namaste Trump’. Nearly two lakh people were exposed to this event. The Temples and Mutt congregations were going on. The TJ people had come to India with due permissions and screenings at airports. Despite all this the move to blame them for spreading Corona just exemplified the mind set and political manoeuvre of the Government. Demonising Tablighis was to target the whole Muslim Community of country.
The Godi (Lap) Media (or Communal media) went hysteric in proclaiming that Tablighis were deliberately spreading the disease as per the plan. This is their ‘Corona Jihad’ and they are preparing ‘Corona Bomb’ in Markaz, which is at stone’s throw from the police station of the area! The reach of this section of media is astounding. It got picked up and ‘Muslims are deliberately spreading the disease’ became part of the ‘common social understanding’. The impact on the social life was instant. Muslim truck drivers at places had to run away to escape the mobs. The Muslim vegetable vendors were beaten up at places and not permitted in many housing colonies.
After some of these Tablighis were quarantined and admitted to hospitals, it was a heyday for the fake news makers. What started doing rounds was that these Tablighis are making obscene gestures to nurses, are spitting, and are moving in the wards without clothes. All this gave grist to the mill of Islamophobia, already peaking in India. Police promptly went into action and cases were launched against the Tablighis who had come from abroad. The cases filed were under various clauses related to violation of VISA rules, spreading the epidemic, and also preaching Islam.
In couple of judgments on the issue, the role of media and police has come from scathing criticism. The blatant falsehood of FIR’s and the propaganda of section of Media stand exposed. In its judgement the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High court, the observation of the court are remarkably reflecting of the state of affairs of the attitude of police and media towards Muslims. The High Court clearly stated that the action against Tablighis is an attempt to find the scapegoat for the Covid 19. It observes, “, “A political Government tries to find the scapegoat when there is pandemic or calamity and the circumstances show that there is probability that these foreigners were chosen to make them scapegoats. The aforesaid circumstances and the latest figures of infection in India show that such action against present petitioners should not have been taken.” And further critiquing the media, the Court observes, “There was big propaganda in print media and electronic media against the foreigners who had come to Markaz Delhi and an attempt was made to create a picture that these foreigners were responsible for spreading covid-19 virus in India. There was virtually persecution against these foreigners.”
The judgment should go down as a case study of the attitude of state (police) and media towards its religious minorities in the country as those Muslims who came from aboard for seminars or touring the country were harassed to no end. The Court states, “This action indirectly gave warning to Indian Muslims that action in any form and for anything can be taken against Muslims. It was indicated that even for keeping contact with Muslims of other countries, action will be taken against them. Thus, there is smell of malice to the action taken against these foreigners and Muslim for their alleged activities. The circumstances like malice are important consideration when relief is claimed of quashing of F.I.R. and the case itself.”
Incidentally as Covid 19 shows us that those who matter and those who spread information are totally biased and look for scapegoats among Muslims, it also shows that there are some who are treated as Holy Cows. In the recent Delhi violence most of those who have been targeted are those who were active in protests against Government in anti CAA-NRC agitations. Those who gave provocative speeches, Desh Ke Gaddaron ko, (Anurag Thakur), There are rapist amongst those participating in the protests (Parvesh Varma) and ‘We will dislodge them physically (Kapil Mishra), are very much moving around while those who talked of peaceful protests are under the scanner.
Similar attitude was also observed in the series of bomb blasts, which shook the country between 2006-2008. Just one example will suffice, in the aftermath of Makkah Masjid blast (Hyderabad) scores of Muslim youth were arrested right away. They were released again by Court for the lack of any credible evidence. In Malegaon blast case ditto, one of the accused in the blast Pragya Thakur is on bail and has become the law maker. In practice what is ruling is the biased attitude, targeting some for their religion and exonerating others, again for their belonging to a particular religion!
(On August 31, a Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra approved the decision by electricity regulators to grant Adani Power “compensatory tariffs” amounting to Rs 8,000 crore for electricity generated at its power plant in Rajasthan. The verdict, just before Justice Mishra’s retirement on September 2, is the seventh judgment since the beginning of 2019 in which benches headed by him have ruled in favour of Adani group of companies.)
Bengaluru/Gurugram: On August 31, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Kumar Mishra, that included Justices Vineet Saran and M R Shah, ruled in favour of a company in the Adani group in a dispute with public sector power distribution companies in Rajasthan. The verdict, issued three days before Justice Mishra retired from the court on September 2, has granted Adani Power Rajasthan Limited (APRL) – which owns a 1,320 megawatt capacity thermal power station in Kawai, Baran district – “compensatory tariffs” worth over Rs 5,000 crore and penalties and interest payments of nearly Rs 3,000 crore.
This “price” of Rs 8,000 crore will be borne by electricity consumers in the cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Ajmer. This is the seventh verdict in favour of Adani group companies issued by benches headed by Justice Mishra since the beginning of 2019.
The verdict was on petitions by power distribution companies (discoms) of the three cities, and a separate petition by the All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF), a representative body of employees of public sector power companies, against a September 2019 verdict of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL). Agreeing with the APTEL’s contention that APRL had suffered on account of a “change in law” for which it was owed compensation, the Supreme Court bench rejected the arguments made in appeal by the discoms and AIPEF.
The court held that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the government of Rajasthan providing an “assurance” that it would “facilitate” allocation of coal mined domestically as fuel supply for Adani’s power plant in Kawai, constituted the basis for power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed by the Adani group company with the Rajasthan discoms in 2010. This was despite those PPAs having been signed on the basis of APRL bidding successfully in a competitive auction, which it qualified to participate in on the basis of a coal supply agreement (CSA) it signed with its sister company, Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL), for coal imported from Indonesia.
Subsequently, the failure of the power plant to secure a coal allocation from the government constituted a “change in law,” the court held. This, coupled with the fact that in 2011 the price of coal imported from Indonesia had risen significantly above the levels agreed upon in the CSA that qualified APRL to participate in the auction, entitled the company to “compensatory tariffs,” the Supreme Court ruled.
Domestic or Imported Coal?
The case before the apex court depended on answers to two important questions.
In 2009, the Rajasthan discoms conducted an auction in which private power producers were invited to participate and present bids to win the right to sell electricity to the state. In order to qualify to participate in the auction, the private power generation companies needed to have in place CSAs – either a domestic coal linkage that would supply enough coal for the entire lifetime of the PPAs or a CSA for imported coal that would supply at least half of the fuel requirement for the first five years of the PPAs.
At the time the auction was announced, with requests for proposals being circulated, in February 2009, the Adani group company was in the process of setting up its power plant at Kawai, but did not have any CSA. While in a MoU signed by the government of Rajasthan with AEL in March 2008, the government had assured its support to the project in facilitating it to obtain a domestic coal linkage, this did not constitute a concrete agreement that would qualify it to participate in the auction.
While preparing its bid, in June 2009, APRL wrote to the Rajasthan government seeking its support under the terms of the MoU for securing a coal linkage, requesting either the allocation of excess coal from existing coal mines owned by the state government, including the Parsa East Kente Basan mine in Chhattisgarh, which another Adani group company was contracted to mine, or to support its application for allotment of a captive coal block to the Union government.
However, without a CSA guaranteeing its coal supply, APRL would not qualify to bid in the auction. Hence, in June 2009, it executed a CSA with group company, AEL, for supply of coal imported from Indonesia for the Kawai project. In addition, APRL also applied for a long-term coal linkage contract to the Union Ministry of Coal in July 2009. With this CSA for imported coal in place, APRL submitted its bid in the auction, attaching the agreement to its bid.
It was because of this agreement that APRL’s bid was considered in the first place during the auction. Having qualified, the Rajasthan government sought a clarification from APRL regarding the evaluation of its bid. APRL clarified that it intended to “use domestic coal as well as imported coal.” Pointing to the CSA, it said: “A duly executed Fuel Supply Agreement for more than 50% of the coal requirement for a period of 5 years has been submitted along with this bid.”
The company added: “…we have also submitted with the bid a MoU executed between the GoR (government of Rajasthan) and AEL wherein...the state has assured in making its efforts to facilitate in getting coal linkage/block or coal from any other source for the power project.”
Hence, APRL stated that “we (will) meet the fuel requirement on the basis of imported coal tie-up,” adding: “… we are sure to get domestic fuel tie-up with the support of the GoR. In view of this we submit that our bid should be evaluated on the basis of Domestic Coal tie-up. We undertake that payment considering domestic coal escalations will be acceptable to us during the term of the PPA (power purchase agreement).”
However, once its bid qualified and was evaluated by the discoms, APRL cancelled its CSA with AEL on June 10, 2009. The agreement had been used only to qualify for the auction.
APRL’s bid was the lowest and it won a contract to supply electricity to the state discoms from its 1,320 megawatt (MW) capacity Kawai power project. A letter of intent (LoI) was issued to APRL by the discoms on December 17, 2009, which stated the following: “Your offer to provide 1,200 MW power at the rates mentioned at Annexure-1 and escalations thereof on domestic coal is based on your commitment that the above rates would be applicable even in case of coal requirement being met by you by way of back up arrangement with imported coal.”
This meant that even if APRL were to use imported coal under its CSA with AEL, the tariff would be calculated based on the prices of domestic coal. This LoI was “unconditionally accepted” by APRL.
Terms of Power Purchase Agreement
However, the PPA that was signed the following month, on January 28, 2010, did not reflect the same terms. While it noted that the fuel supply arrangement for the PPA was based on the supply of domestic coal with a fallback support arrangement of imported coal for five years, it dropped the language clarifying that the tariff would be calculated against domestic coal prices, irrespective of the source of the coal – imported or domestic.
Given this sequence of facts, the first question before the Supreme Court was whether the bid was based on domestic coal or imported coal. The APTEL and the Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission (RERC) that had ruled on the dispute before it, had both held that the bid was indeed based on domestic coal.
While the discoms, represented by senior advocate C Aryama Sundaram argued that though the bid was evaluated based on a domestic coal linkage, no such linkage was actually in place, and it was the CSA for imported coal that was a fallback option for supplying 50% of the coal required by the power plant for the first five years that qualified APRL’s bid. In fact, the CSA had been for 61% of the coal requirement. Accordingly, the discoms argued that if any compensation has to be claimed, it could only arise on the remaining 39% of the domestic coal that APRL had said it would use for the project during the first five years, if this was the subject of a change in law.
Senior advocate and Congress party leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Adani group company, meanwhile, argued that the CSA was only a qualifying document, and had no bearing on the tariff which was determined entirely against domestic coal. The entire bid was premised and accepted on domestic coal, and hence was affected by a “change in law” when the government failed to provide the promised coal linkage, and therefore APRL was entitled to compensation, he argued.
The Arun Mishra-led bench came down on the side of the Adani group company, ruling that the bid was based entirely on domestic coal.
Padamjit Singh, the convenor of the AIPEF, in an interview to Newsclick said this was the result of a “self-goal” by the Rajasthan discoms: “The Rajasthan discoms took the precaution to put a condition in the LoI that regardless of whether Adani Power were to use foreign or domestic coal it will be paid power tariffs determined according to domestic coal prices. This is recorded in the Supreme Court order as well. But the problem arose because this condition was not put in the PPA.”
Singh asked that “if Adani Power was awarded the contract under a certain understanding, why was that condition not put in the PPA, when it was such a critically important condition?” He said this condition was the basis on which the PPA was awarded.
“Adani had accepted the LoI unconditionally, so there would have been no way to challenge it if the discoms had put it in the PPA and the matter would have rested right there,” the AIPEF convenor pointed out, adding: “This was where the Rajasthan discoms lost the game. It was a self-goal. It was a huge blunder, or perhaps the discom officials were arm-twisted. There is no reasonable explanation.”
Libbying by Rajasthan Governement
The second significant issue before the Supreme Court was whether, having assured APRL in its MoU with the Rajasthan government that it would facilitate it to acquire a coal linkage, did APRL face a “change in law” when it failed to do so until 2018? Under the terms of the PPA, “change in law” is one of the conditions that enables either party to seek a tariff revision.
This question too, ultimately was decided by a “self-goal” by the Rajasthan discoms.
In August 2007, a LoI was issued by the Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Udpadan Nigam Limited (RRVUNL) in favour of AEL to develop the Parsa East and Kente Basan (PEKB) coal block located in northern Chhattisgarh. The LoI stipulated that the coal could be utilised at the discretion of the Rajasthan government for new upcoming thermal power projects.
In March 2008, a MoU was signed between the Rajasthan government and AEL for the latter to set up a coal-based thermal power generation project in Kawai that also stipulated that the state government assured its support to the project in ensuring allotment of a coal linkage. Between May and June 2008, AEL wrote to the Rajasthan government six times, requesting that it consider allotment of coal from the PEKB coal mine, which was already being developed. With no such allotment forthcoming, at the end of August 2008, AEL requested the state government to apply to the Ministry of Coal for a coal block to be allocated to the Kawai project for the development of a captive coal mine.
In July 2009, when it was preparing to file its bid in the auction for the right to sell power to the discoms, AEL applied for a coal linkage to the government. It did so under the terms of the National Coal Distribution Policy of 2007, under which projects approved by a Standing Linkage Committee of the government would receive 100% of its coal from the public sector Coal India Limited (CIL).
By the beginning of 2010, APRL had PPAs in place with the Rajasthan discoms, but no coal linkage yet. At this stage, APRL once again wrote to the Rajasthan government seeking allocation of a captive coal block for its Kawai project. It further requested the state government to execute a fuel supply agreement between RRVUNL (which had discretionary authority over the use of coal from the PEKB coal mine) and itself. Starting in January 2011, the Rajasthan government lobbied the Union government to seek the allocation of a coal block for the Kawai power project.
In a previous article for NewsClick, the authors of this article have described this process in detail:
The Rajasthan government wrote to the Ministry of Coal in January 2011 requesting it to allocate coal blocks identified by the government in Chhattisgarh to meet the coal requirements for various power projects in the state, including the one at Kawai. Receiving no response for over a year, in February 2012, the state government wrote to the Central government again, this time to both the Ministry of Coal and Ministry of Power, requesting that the Kawai project be considered at par with other power projects in the Central government’s 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12), despite the project being part of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17).
In response, the Ministry of Power responded that the project was part of the Twelfth Plan and would be considered for implementation in due course. Meanwhile, the ministry suggested that the government of Rajasthan examine the possibility of increasing the mining capacity in coal blocks already allocated to it in Chhattisgarh and allocate coal for the Kawai project from these blocks.
At the same time, in February 2012, the Standing Linkage Committee decided that no new fuel supply agreements (FSAs) would be signed by CIL owing to a shortage of coal.
The Rajasthan government wrote back in November 2012 that there was not enough surplus coal in its allocated coal blocks allegedly without attempting to revise the quantity of coal it was recovering from those mines. In effect, the Rajasthan government, after having committed itself to securing domestic coal for the Kawai project, and after being asked by both APRL and the Central government to supply coal from its own coal mines in Chhattisgarh, was refusing to do so.
Thereafter, the Rajasthan government escalated its lobbying in New Delhi. On November 26, 2012, a letter was sent by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to the Ministries of Coal and Power requesting ad hoc allocations of coal, as the Kawai power plant was due to commence operations. The Rajasthan government wrote another letter to the Planning Commission in January 2013. In December 2012, the Kawai power plant started operating on imported Indonesian coal on a “test” basis, and was synchronised with the state’s power grid in August 2013.
In February 2013, APRL wrote to the discoms stating that the Rajasthan government’s persistent attempts to secure a domestic coal linkage had failed and that since the plant was running on Indonesian coal, the prices of which had surged following the implementation of a new law by the Indonesian government, it would require a revision of tariff to compensate the private company for its higher costs due to use of imported coal.
With no domestic coal linkage in place, in April 2013, with the scheduled supply of power due to begin, APRL approached RERC with a petition seeking a hike in electricity tariff over what had been fixed, based on its bid in the competitive auction in 2010.
After this, in May 2013 the government decided to change the National Coal Distribution Policy (NCDP), that was notified in July 2013. In this amended policy, CIL would supply a portion of the fuel requirements of power plants which were yet to secure coal linkages, and supply the remainder by importing coal, which the power generators could also import for themselves.
Change in Lasw?
The question before the court was, whether this inability of APRL to secure a domestic coal linkage constituted a change in law. But reviewing the arguments and counter arguments would be futile because, in an affidavit submitted to the RERC by the discoms, months before the Ashok Gehlot led Congress government in Rajasthan demitted office in December 2013, the discoms admitted that it did agree that a change in law had indeed taken place!
“This was a suicidal admission,” said Singh. “This was quoted everywhere – from the RERC to the APTEL to the Supreme Court as well – and it has been exploited to the hilt.”
He added: “There was a swing of opinion or attitude somewhere mid-way in the case. It was like a friendly match and the government in Rajasthan appeared to be inclined to favour Adani Power and did not take a hard line against giving them any kind of concession. But somehow later on, they seem to have woken up and decided to contest it tooth and nail. But that changeover came too late. And by then they had already scored a number of self-goals.”
(Mis-)Using Energy Watchdog Judgment
With the admission by the discoms, the judgment draws on the so-called “Energy Watchdog” judgment of the Supreme Court of April 2017. In that case, also a demand for compensatory tariffs by an Adani-owned power plant – its Mundra power plant which supplies power to Gujarat, and several other states – the Supreme Court had ruled that it was entitled to limited compensation on account of change in law, because it already had a CSA in place with CIL, which was modified by the amended NCDP of 2013.
However, in the same judgment issued by a bench comprising Justices Rohinton Nariman and Pinaki Chandra Ghosh, the Supreme Court had also elucidated a fundamental principle: “The price payable for the supply of coal is entirely for the person who sets up the power plant to bear...it is clear that an unexpected rise in the price of coal will not absolve the generating companies from performing their part of the contract for the very good reason that when they submitted their bids, this was a risk they knowingly took...the risk of supplying electricity at the tariff indicated was upon the generating company.”
The present judgment draws from the Energy Watchdog judgment in its understanding of change in law, while appearing to ignore the above principle. Despite not having been a CSA in place, the verdict by the Justice Arun Mishra-led bench held that the MoU between the Government of Rajasthan and APRL was sufficient to fulfil the basis for holding that APRL had suffered a change in law.
Over Invoicing of Coal?
A Third Issue, that had been raised by the AIPEF, was that of allegations of over-invoicing of coal imported from Indonesia, that have been raised against 40 Indian companies including companies in the Adani group by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the investigation arm of India’s customs authorities under the Ministry of Finance.
The DRI has alleged that companies in the Adani group, among other private and public sector companies, had artificially inflated the prices of imported coal by manipulating invoices and valuations. Additionally, it had alleged, the illicit gains thus made were being parked in offshore tax haven jurisdictions.
Specifically with regard to its investigations into the Adani group, the DRI is in a legal battle at the Supreme Court over Adani’s attempts to block its investigation. In 2018, the DRI had sent Letters Rogatory to Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates seeking the support of the courts in those countries to obtain banking and other documents it required for its investigation into the Adani group’s import of coal from Indonesia. The Adani group sought to quash these letters rogatory, first in the courts in Singapore, and having failed there, at the Bombay High Court. The Bombay High Court had in 2019 ruled in Adani’s favour and quashed the letters rogatory, which the DRI is currently appealing before the Supreme Court. In January of this year, the Supreme Court stayed the High Court’s order as it heard the case.
The Justice Arun Mishra-led bench refused to entertain the issue. Noting that the AIPEF’s counsel, Prashant Bhushan, had sought to bring the matter to the court’s attention, the verdict reads “we are of the opinion that until and unless there is a finding recorded by the competent court as to invoicing, the submission cannot be accepted.”
Impact of Judgement
The one count on which the Supreme Court’s verdict has given a minor relief to the discoms is on the interest rate payable on the compensatory tariffs due, calculated back to the beginning of the supply of electricity from the plant in 2013. While the Adani group company had sought an interest rate of 2% more than the SABR interest rate (Stochastic Alpha Beta Rho, a measure used in banking and finance), the Supreme Court’s verdict has capped it at 9%.
AIPEF’s Singh explained what this meant in quantitative terms: “As a result of this judgment, the discoms will face an immediate financial burden. The original claim which was allowed by the APTEL – 50% of which was paid after an interim order – was around Rs 5,130 crore. On that, Adani Power Rajasthan has claimed interest of around Rs 3,000 crore. The Supreme Court's judgment has not modified the original claim at all, but has said that the interest rate can be slightly reduced. So the interest would be marginally reduced. In the judgment, it has been said it should not exceed 9% while Adani had sought an interest rate 2% higher than the SABR rate. In total, the amount would still approach Rs 8,000 crore.”
Why CPI(ML) Red Star has called for a countrywide people’s offensive against Fascist Hindutva onslaughts led by RSS, attacking its Manuvadi theoretical base now? The historic significance of it can be understood when an evaluation of the present critical national and international situation is made. Though, the neo-fascists Trump, Modi, Boslonaro and others like them pooh-poohed Covid19 pandemic till February, what is the situation after 7 months? The number of Covid patients in US is racing to 1o million and dead to 3 lakhs, percentage to population wise, Brazil is just behind it. Soon India is going to surpass US in the number of Covid 19 patients, reaching the first place! In the early days, US, China and all imperialists along with their junior partners first talked about containing Covid fast, now talking about co-existing with it, and return to “Business as usual”. But the economy is contracting everywhere and collapsing in many countries, posing the greatest ever challenge faced by the capitalist imperialist economic system.
All of them are planning how to overcome it. Firstly, take away all the benefits so far won by the working class, and subject them to worst ever loot, throwing out many more to the streets swelling the number of jobless and impoverished toiling and oppressed masses. Along with it intensify the plunder of nature more ruthlessly, which is already destroying the eco-system and bio-diversity. Even when the ‘hitherto greatest power in the world’, US imperialism is standing helpless before Covid19 and the raging wild fires in California and Oregon, when whole humanity is paralyzed by the pandemic, they refuse to accept all these have anything to do with ecology, and drag us to ecological catastrophe. While doing so, the imperialists are destroying what is left of the capitalist democracy ushered in by the French revolution and other revolutions. Trump is arrogantly declaring that if he is defeated in the November elections he may not transfer power! Xi Jinping and Putin have extended their terms in power indefinitely. And disciples of Mussolini and Hitler are growing in strength in Europe. So, the capitalist imperialist system is on the mad path of frenziedly speeding up neoliberal, corporate rule leading the humanity to the path of destruction, the extinction of human species, with or without another world war. The only alternative before the working class and oppressed people of the world is to get mobilized, fight against the reactionary ideologies serving as the base of the neo-fascist forces emerging in different countries, and overthrowing the imperialist system and their junior partners from power, moving forward to realize the blossoming of democracy and socialism.
Our national situation is not basically different. As the Covid19 pandemic is spreading fast, the private hospital mafia is on a looting spree, the poor are dying in ever larger numbers, economy is contracting fast, with the threat of a collapse looming large, more production units are closed down, many more are jobless, vast majority of people are in a desperate situation. The repeated intrusion of Modi government taking away all federal rights of the states on the one hand and brutal suppression of al dissent on the other threatens the very unity of the country. But Modi government is unconcerned. It is in a hurriedly imposing the RSS agenda of Hindurashtra. There are rumours of bringing the presidential system and the first presidential election in 2022. To facilitate it, the neoliberal/corporate reforms are taken to their peak, Krishna Janmabhumi campaign in Mathura and other divisive, hate politics projects are going to be speeded up, along with open flouting of Constitution as happened on 5th August at Ayodhya when PM Modi did Bhoomi Puja for Ram temple along with RSS chief, and the manner in which the bills for corporatization of agriculture, for taking away all workers’ rights etc were passed violating all parliamentary rules! It is Manusmriti, which RSS wants should be India’s constitution, in action.
Still, the parliamentary opposition is taking “business as usual! They are still thinking 2004 can be repeated, when BJP led Vajpayee government was defeated and Congress led UPA could take over. They have no alternative to put forward, they are still following their policies and practice which facilitated BJP’s ascendance to power. Still they do not recognize RSS neo-fascism is in power through Modi, or even if anyone accept it , not taking any moves to combat it. They are satisfied with contending with BJP in the parliamentary sphere taking soft Hindutva as well as national chauvinist line. Same is the case with CPI(M) led Left Front parties. Not only they helped the saffron forces to grow up many times by allying with them, still they do not recognize RSS/BJP is the main danger all over the country, besides following soft Hindutva line. So, they also do not recognize the need for all out attack on the theoretical base of neo-fascist RSS. It is in this fertile soil RSS has grown very fast using the hegemony Brahmanical forces in all fields, and the political Hindutva has become the ruling ideology, in theory and practice in the society.
Recognizing the gravity of the situation, some of the revolutionary intellectuals have taken up the study of Manusmriti, the main theoretical source of RSS as well as the writings of Dr. Munje who acted as an adviser to Hegdewar, the founder of RSS in 1925, and the writings of Savarkar, Golwalkar and others. These writings, the reports in RSS organ, Organizer, and present developments show how it has become the strongest fascist organization in the world. Along with this, under Modi, India is made a strong ally of US led Asia-Pacific Axis which is playing a major role as the US weapon against China, in its contention with it for world hegemony. Even the India-China standoff on the border issue also is internationalized as a result.
It is in this context, CPI(ML) Red Star has called for Launching Countrywide Campaign Against Manuvadi Hindutva, the Theoretical Base of RSS Neo-Fascism! As the first phase of this, a Campaign is organized from 28th September, Shahid Bhagat Singh birthday, to 25th December, when Manusmriti was burnt in 1927 as part of the Mahad struggle by women, dalits, and other oppressed sections under the leadership of Dr. Ambedkar, challenging the danger posed by the formation of RSS in 1925 with Manusmriti as its main theoretical guideline. Since, this struggle was not carried forward, learning from the experience of the anti-fascist struggles of last century and according to the present situation, RSS could develop in to such a powerful position. We appeal to all revolutionary forces, all organizations of dalits, Adivasis, oppressed classes and sections, progressive democratic forces and revolutionary intellectuals, the youth and students to join this campaign to expose, weaken and throw out RSS from hegemonic positions at the realm of thought and political power