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Capitalism and Hindu caste system.....
by Saima Alvi
05 June 2002 18:34 UTC
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Capitalism and Hindu caste system 
By M. Abul Fazl

THE RSS's "fear" of the Muslims, invoked in all its
rallies, cannot refer to the Muslims of present day
India. It is a sort of undefined, ever-present menace
weighing upon the Hindu homeland, like the idea of the
Jew for the Nazis. 

The influence of the Hindu communal ideology is not
confined to the organizations like the RSS, which own
it explicitly. It has adherents in the secular
Congress and the socialist parties too. Even some of
the self-avowed Marxists, like Sankritayan, were not
free from its influence. 

Bimal Prasad says that Golwalkar's book on Hindu
racism carried a preface by M.S. Aney, who was, at the
time, a member of the Congress Working Committee and
had been its president. Even after he had left the
Congress, he was invited as a special guest to the
AICC meeting in 1939, which was to decide upon the
Congress' policy towards war. 

Prasad adds, "...this was by no means a solitary
example of persons with marked Hindu nationalist
bearings walking into and out of Congress leadership
according to their convenience. Lajpat Rai and Madan
Mohan Malaviya were other illustrious examples." (Ibid

The RSS has created a number of front organizations,
like Bajrang Dal, the street fighters and its female
version, the Durga Vahini, and the Vishva Hindu
Parishad, which is the alliance of the Brahmin and the
petite bourgeoisie (bania) etc. Actually, it is the
petite bourgeoisie, which has given the VHP a mass
character, as it did to the Nazis. 

The political wing of the RSS was Jan Sangh, which
evolved into the Bharatya Janata Party. It presented a
moderate political programme in order to attract
broader electoral support but succeeded electorally
only by appealing to the most primitive sentiments of
the Hindus over the Babri Masjid issue. 

The contradiction that was mentioned above i.e. that
between capitalism and caste system, arises from the
peculiar development of the Indian society under
British colonialism. The British super-imposed
capitalism upon the traditional society in India. They
did not transform the Indian society integrally. As a
result, the share of the labour power in the
traditional sector is determined by non-economic

This peculiarity is possible because of the existence
of the caste system wherein the three upper castes
combine against the Shudras. But this non-economic
origin of distribution, in turn, preserves the castes.
Part of the extra surplus thus squeezed from the
Shudras is passed by the traditional sector to the
modern one. Moreover, traditional sector maintains the
labour power both before its employment by the modern
sector and after its redundancy. The modern sector
thus has a stake in the continuation of the status quo
in the traditional sector. 

Caste is not a class, as one cannot leave or join it.
But it does act as a determinant in the distribution
of income, at least outside the modern sector. A
Shudra would be paid less than a member of an upper
caste for similar work. The work of public hygiene is
assigned exclusively to the Shudras. Being unpleasant,
the remuneration in it should be relatively high. But
it is kept very low by purely non-economic means. 

On the other hand, the industrial and commercial
bourgeoisie wants a modern labour market with full
labour mobility. That threatens to weaken the caste
system. This is resented by the "educated" middle
class as it would also alter the present system of
redistribution. The middle class maintains the status
quo by persuading the Shudras that their woes are due
to the competition from the Muslim workers in the
labour market and the Muslims in general, who are
enemies of all Hindus. 

The Hindu commercial petite bourgeoisie also competes
with its Muslim counterpart in exploiting the
independent Muslim artisan, who working under the
putting out system, suffers from a high rate of

Lastly, the manpower expelled from agriculture by the
spread of capitalist farming and finding itself
unemployed or under-employed in the towns falls easy
prey to the RSS propaganda and is recruited in the
street fighting Bajrang Dal. 

The on-going pogrom in Gujrat - and pogrom it is,
being state organized, was to be expected. The Gujrat
Muslim traders had historically been ahead and
wealthier than the Hindu bourgeoisie. They had been
pushed back after independence but were again becoming

Whenever the Muslims reach a certain level of
prosperity anywhere in India, the RSS organizes an
assault upon them, in which there is more emphasis on
destroying them economically than physically. Of
course, when the lower castes, joining the melee, do
some killing, raping and burning, they are not
stopped. Better their resentment find vent against the
Muslims than against their real oppressors, the Hindu
upper castes. And rape has again been used as a
political weapon and as a weapon of terror, having
been accompanied by special brutality. 

These pogroms have brought to light all the elements
of the RSS organization and all the facets of its
ideology. The Hindu shop-keepers led the attacking
mobs both in the towns and the villages. The lower
caste people were then encouraged to loot the Muslims
shops and homes. The material benefit thus accruing to
them from the persecution of the Muslims becomes an
instrument of their alliance with the upper castes.
The grande-bourgeoisie may not want the anarchy to be
prolonged but whenever communal tension rises the
industrial militancy drops. 

Of course, the street fighters of the RSS are
basically mobsters, good at killing the unarmed and
women and children, specially when backed by the
police. They cannot stand up to organized state forces
if the state chooses to use them. But as long as the
state leadership and the lower grade state
functionaries are themselves prone to the RSS
propaganda, it is hard to see an end to pogroms. 

Even so, we should not forget that the Muslims are
able to survive in India because the overwhelming
majority of Indians, ordinary people from all classes,
are opposed to this ideology and the conduct of the
RSS and other fascistic organizations. The poison
being spread by the fascists is combated and resisted
by this decent majority. And it is for them to
overcome this anti-human element which has arisen in

Posted from http://www.dawn.com/weekly/encounter/encounter.htm

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