General Studies 1
- Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
- Social empowerment
General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Dalit Capitalism: Is it the Way to Emancipation? (Part-II)
Summary of previous article [Dalit Capitalism: Is it the Way to Emancipation? (Part-I)]
The NDA government, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has placed high bet on rapid industrialization and ‘Dalit Capitalism’ (Dalits engagement with capital) for the advancement of Dalits.
Programmes and initiatives such as –
- Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana
- Venture Capital Fund scheme
- Stand Up India initiative
has been tailored to support Dalits turn into capitalists, with an expectation that it could empower and emancipate Dalits.
- e. Engagement with capital, or what they call ‘Dalit Capitalism’, will make dalits better off and increase their economic well-being and make them less dependent on upper castes for employment.
- It aims to emancipate them from the shackles of poverty and as wage labourers of upper castes and intends to prepare them to become potential capitalists who in turn will employ other dalits.
However, we tried to analyze in contrasting manner – “whether Dalit Capitalism is the best bet to emancipate Dalits”.
There is a paradox situation – “whether Economic progress could guarantee a strong India or an emphasis on social justice was needed for everyone from Dalits to tribals”.
We had analyzed Dalits relation with regard to caste and labour . Now we shall discuss about market and dalits.
Market and Dalits
Market gives rise to spontaneous identities. But markets, after all, exist within a societal context.
Caste and community links play a role in various aspects of the Indian market, from securing capital to integration into supply chains.
Certain individuals or groups having particular characteristics based on race, caste, gender and sexual orientation are treated differently and are denied opportunities to contribute efficiently to production.
The neo-classical school of economics views ‘caste as a pre-modern social identity that discourages competition and believes the markets will undermine these stagnant identities which in turn will ensure equilibrium in the market’.
The fundamental assumption that the market relies on is that every individual is ‘rational’ i.e. unbiased and without any prejudice while interacting or transacting with others and this enables equilibrium of highest level.
However, in India this logic is quite different. In India, every individual carries his social identity such as caste first, and then identifies his counterparts consciously, based on ‘caste consciousness’, to transact business, in most cases.
So the principle of rationality which forms the basis of market interactions is violated when it comes to productivity which does not reach its equilibrium, considered the marker of ideal functioning of any market.
Capital, Caste and Accumulation
Capital does not discriminate individuals along their identities; it is some individuals who (mostly from dominant groups in society), having accumulated capital over generations by exploiting labour and other means of production, that appropriate and acquire the dominant role in societies.
Babasaheb had strongly believed that ‘acquiring and consolidating political power would be the first key to emancipate dalits from all forms of social odds’.
But after the Mahaparinirvan of Babasaheb, dalits failed to consolidate their political power and split into many groups which reduced their political significance at the national level.
It also provided opportunity for other political parties to appropriate Babasaheb and to assimilate dalits for narrow political gains.
Access to capital is multi-layered and exclusionary
Therefore, the access to capital for dalits is multi-layered and exclusionary in its nature. Dalits are largely dependent on various social assistance programmes of the government. For this assistance they are required to open accounts in banks now, and this is being portrayed as dalits’ access to capital having improved.
The additional layer of exclusion becomes evident when the dalit formally approaches these financial institutions to set up a business or an industrial venture and expresses his wish to start production with a view to generate surplus. These institutions are dominated by upper castes and perceive dalits as incapable of doing business.
They even go to the extent of demoralizing the budding entrepreneur and create multiple constraints for the dalit person to access credit. In contrast, upper castes enjoy privileged social or business networks which are established over a long period of time and thus easily access the capital required in pursuit of surplus.
The Modi government has bet on Dalit empowerment via the market in the form of its Stand Up India initiative, launched earlier this year.
Stand Up India initiative — is a scheme for encouraging greenfield enterprises by SC/ST and female entrepreneurs by facilitating bank loans between Rs.10 lakh and Rs.1 crore, along with supplementary measures.
Will these banks dominated by upper castes and who perceive dalits as incapable of doing business front up to provide loans, what they essentially consider as risk capital?
Leaving apart the social stigmatization, are banks really ready to provide loans when they are already facing problems such as NPAs?
As a result of this, dalits tend to remain behind, both at the group level and the individual level, which in turn diminishes human capital, constrains effort. This cumulative disadvantage produced through several processes of exclusion forces dalits into further marginalisation and discourages their desire to become a part of the system.
Therefore, can Dalit Capitalism be a Possible Solution?
The defense of dalit capitalism rests on viewing dalits as employers not employees – this is based on the assumption that it will provide equal opportunities and space for prosperity for dalits.
Capitalism by its nature tends to undermine efforts to address the larger social question of equal access to market and non-market systems.
It systematically sets the rules of social relations between different groups in society and reproduces hierarchy based on material wealth. This system primarily focuses on individual gains and privileges the notion of ‘private’ at the cost of larger social gains.
Endorsement of the capitalist system can be a great risk for a majority of dalits and it has bigger costs than benefits for the larger dalit community. Social democracy must be a precondition for capitalism to exist. In the absence of social democracy, imagining ‘Dalit capitalism’ would mean compromising on larger struggles for social emancipation initiated by our great leaders.
Connecting the dots:
- Which is the best possible bet to emancipate Dalits in India – government policies focusing on Dalit capitalism or focus on social assistance programmes? Critically analyze.
- The neo-classical school of economics views ‘caste as a pre-modern social identity that discourages competition and believes the markets will undermine these stagnant identities which in turn will ensure equilibrium in the market’. Critically comment.
- What do you understand by Dalit Capitalism? Can Dalit capitalism empower the community? Critically discuss.
- Dalit entrepreneurs in India often face hurdles and discrimination. What hurdles are faced by them and how can government help them overcome these hurdles? Discuss.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Separation of powers between various organs , dispute redressal mechanisms and institution
- Structure, organization and functioning of Executive and Judiciary
Ending the impasse
- The logjam between Supreme Court of India and Government of India on appointment of higher judiciary judges continues to hurt the regular judicial operations.
- The scrapping of NJAC brought the concept of Memorandum of Procedure back.
- However, it is also facing a standstill as SC and executive are not able to come to a decision.
- Result: 475 seats in the High Courts remain unoccupied
- Such an unprecedented level of vacancies has overloaded the judiciary beyond calculations.
The collegium debate
- The collegium is of five senior-most Supreme Court judges.
- Collegium was formulated as means of appointing judges through SC judgements in 1993 and 1998.
- It provided for a consultative process between the executive and judiciary if the government would return for reconsideration a name sent by the collegium.
- However, the cardinal concept was that court had the final say in appointments of the judges
- The consultation methodology was contained in a Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) formulated in 1999.
The NJAC war
- In April 2015, the government brought in the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, after securing a unanimous vote for its passage in Parliament and some State Assemblies.
- This was seen as government’s efforts to break the judiciary’s monopoly.
- The selection committee included CJI and his two senior-most colleagues and three people from government- Union Law Minister and two “eminent persons” (in whose choice the judiciary had a minority voice).
- The NJAC was not considered as process of appointment inspite of several appointments pending.
- In October 2015, a five-judge constitutional Bench of the court held the NJAC to be unconstitutional
- The Bench then went on to invite public opinion on ways to improve the opaque collegium system of judicial appointments.
MoP was heeded
- The SC in its attempt to make the process more transparent and accountable, it co-opted with government to reformulate the MoP
- In December 2015, the government was permitted to formulate a revised MoP with certain points like
- Eligibility criteria
- Measures for transparency
- Establishment of a Secretariat
- Complaints mechanism
- The MoP is a few page document which required few weeks to cover all the revised points.
- However, it has been eight months now and it is yet to be finalised.
The bone of contention
- If the government rejects a candidate on the ground of national security or public interest, then such rejection is binding on the court.
- This means that the executive will have the last word whenever this reason is invoked.
- The court is not willing to relent as it is against its judgement of supremacy of collegium
- The government was given the permission to draft the MoP.
- It took this opportunity to sit at par with judiciary at the deciding table and also exclude judiciary in name of national security or public interest.
- The existing MoP does not deal with the “last word” issue as judiciary was the sole appointer
- This has led the government to bring into foray its executive reach.
- The government is invoking principle of national security and public interest in a matter of appointment judges recommended by the Apex Court of India.
The government’s position
- The government believes that it has no role in stalling the judicial appointments
- It pointed out that NJAC was already in place on December 2014 after ratification by at least 20 States and on receiving Presidential assent.
- At this point the NJAC had replaced the Collegium because the Supreme Court had never stayed the new law.
- The government had even started the process of appointment of two eminent jurists into the Commission.
- But the efforts were cut short when the then Chief Justice H.L. Dattu refused to be part of a high-level committee, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in order to select two eminent persons for the NJAC
- According to government, it made an attempt in January 2016 to initiate to “re-start” the judicial appointments process by urging the CJI to immediately resume filling judicial vacancies and not wait till MoP for appointment of judges was drafted by the government and finalised in consultation with the judges.
New MoP draft
- As per government, it has been judicially directed to re-draw the MoP to widen the zone of consideration, make it more broad-based and usher in transparency
- In order to implement the “widen the zone of consideration” direction, latest MoP draft wants all Supreme Court and High Court judges to be able to recommend names to their respective collegiums.
- Chief Ministers should have right to recommend names to the respective High Court collegiums
- Include top law officers of the Centre and the States. Attorney General should be allowed to recommend the names of judges to the Supreme Court at the Centre and Advocate-General of States to their respective State High Courts.
- It has a mechanism for an elaborate vetting process of names recommended for High Court judgeship through appraisal committees
- The appraisal committees to be made up of sitting or retired judges, jurists and academicians.
- The appointments to these appraisal committees would be made by the Chief Justice of the High Court
- These High Court committees would screen the names of the candidates, their backgrounds and the number of cases they have argued as lawyers etc. before forwarding them to the High Court collegium.
- Once the High Court collegium clears certain names, they would be sent to a similar appraisal committee at the Supreme Court.
- This apex-level committee would again sift through the names before they are finally referred to the SC collegium.
- According to government, the two-fold vetting process – one by the respective High Court appraisal committee and then by the Supreme Court committee – would ensure transparency in judicial appointments.
- The draft asks the judiciary to fix an age for High Court judgeship and make it “non-flexible.”
- The mechanism for redressing complaints against judges to remain within the judiciary.
- The draft is currently with CJI and awaiting the judges’ approval.
- MoP has never delayed the judicial appointments process.
- 52 judicial appointments to various High Courts have already been made till August 2016.
- 10 additional High Court judges have been confirmed.
- 4 SC judges have been appointed and 9 HC Chief Justices have been confirmed.
- There has been 28 transfers of High Court judges.
- Names of 250 judges are in various stages of being cleared for appointment as High Court judges.
The CJI has been vocal in appeals, remonstrations and rebukes but it does not seem to have desired effect.
The impasse between judiciary and government cannot go on indefinitely. The issue has to be dealt directly
- Attorney General can take the lead in meeting both sides, formulating and reformulating proposals.
- The Law Minister can engage with the judges.
- The Prime Minister forwards the olive branch to invite the Chief Justice and senior judges for a discussion.
- The President can take proactive role in bringing heads of two institutions together
- If all the methods once tried and not unsuccessful or not tried, the SC can consider recalling its order permitting the government to draft the revised MoP and undertake the task itself.
Connecting the dots:
- Constant struggle between judiciary and executive is enhancing the public woes who demand justice. Critically evaluate the problems faced by common man due to elite tussle.
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