Markandey
Bharat kaise judega ?
Markandey Katju 23 Dec 2022

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

I submit it will not, and wish to give my reasons.

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

Under British rule feudalism prevailed in most parts of India, in the form of the zamindari system ( landlordism ), and it was the British policy to continue it, so that India remains backward and does not emerge as a modern industrial power ( like the China of today ). However, after Independence in 1947 most Indian states passed zamindari abolition acts, and land was given to the cultivator. So to some extent feudalism was destroyed after Independence.

However, the ‘batai’ or ‘batadhari’ ( share cropping ) system, under which the land owner lets out his agricultural land to the cultivator in return for a share in the crops ( usually 50% ) still prevails in large parts of India, and is a form of feudalism. For instance, it is believed that 35% of agricultural land in Bihar is under this system.
Similar is the situation in many other states

So the feudal economy has not been totally destroyed in India, but only partially. Moreover, the system of parliamentary democracy which India adopted after Independence further entrenches feudalism in the social sphere, as elections in India are largely run on the basis of caste and religious vote banks. Our elections further polarize society on caste and communal basis.

So India, while not totally feudal, is still semi feudal, and its people still divided on the basis of caste and religion.
I would like to ask those upper caste or OBC Hindus who have joined the Bharat Jodo Yatra, or are supporting it, one simple question : if your daughter falls in love with a Dalit or Muslim boy, will you give your consent for their marriage ? Hardly any will give their consent, and most would even be horrified by the idea. Some may even do ‘honour killing’. So how can the Bharat Jodo Yatra really unite us ? How can a yatra destroy casteism and communalism ?  Is it not just a gimmick ?

India can really be unified by destruction of feudalism in India, and converting India into a modern, highly industrialised country. But how can that be achieved ? I submit that this will require a mighty historical united people’s struggle over a long period of time.

We may consider a few historical examples of countries which were transformed from feudalism to modernism.
In England it was the struggle between King and Parliament which achieved this, in France it was the French Revolution of 1789, in Russia it was the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, and in China it was the Chinese Revolution.

We see from these historical examples that people’s struggle for destroying feudal society arise
(1) when there is a severe economic crisis, resulting in massive unemployment, skyrocketing inflation, etc, which causes intolerable sufferings to the masses, or
(2) when the country is plunged into a long drawn war, in which millions of soldiers are killed, and civilians too are in dire straights, suffering hunger, price inflation, etc

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

By Justice Markandey Katju, former Judge, Indian Supreme Court
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