Kanpur: Prof Ramachandra Guha is a historian and Gandhian of great standing, and I have often written to him expressing my appreciation of his writings. I also share some of my writings with him. However, I was deeply dismayed by his article under reply. For the benefit of those who may not have read it, let me quote from the same.
Guha begins by referring to Deenabandhu C.F. Andrews, after whom the forecourt of St Stephen’s College, Delhi, is named. Guha joined there in 1974, some 60 years after Andrews left. He admits that in his time most of those who had joined the College were there to use the Stephanian badge as a launching pad for careers in MNCs or the IAS.
At that time the College was not “contaminated by the prejudices of race, religion, caste or class.” Just 5 percent of the students were Christian. He decries the “Fifty Percent Judgement” of the Supreme Court in 1992 “allowing minority aided institutions to admit up to 50 percent students from the founding community.”
Guha then makes an alarming allegation that the College is now divided between Christian and non-Christian students and faculty! He further alleges that Christians are admitted with “substantially lower cut offs.” He avers that “Christians are far more privileged than dalits or adivasis.”
He bemoans “the lopsided reservation policy” resulting in an influx of wealthy and privileged Syria
Over the last two decades, I have identified myself with the adivasi people and their struggle for a life of dignity and self respect. As a writer, I have tried to analyse the different issues they face. In this process, I have clearly expressed my dissent over several policies and laws enacted by the government in the light of the Indian constitution. I have questioned the validity, legality and justness of several steps taken by the government and the ruling class.
As for the Pathalgadi issue, I have asked the question, “Why are adivasis doing this?” I believe it is because they have been exploited and oppressed beyond tolerance. The rich minerals which are excavated in their land have enriched outsider industrialists and businessmen and impoverished the adivasi people to the extent that people have died of starvation. They have had no share in what is produced.
Some of the questions I have raised are:
1) I have questioned the non-implementation of the 5th Schedule of the constitution, Article 244 (1), which clearly stipulates that a ‘tribes advisory council’ (TAC), composed solely of members from the adivasi community, will advise the governor of the state about any and everything concerning the protection, well-being and development of the adivasi people in the state.
The governor is the constitutional custodian of the adivasi people and he/she can make laws on his/her own an
John Milton, the great poet, after his blindness, wrote in one of his sonnets to Oliver Cromwell, the legendary English military and political leader,“…peace hath her victories No less renown’d than war….”It was exactly these words that came to my mind at the Cardinal’s House on the 23rd May afternoon, when,with a heavy heart, I paid my last obeisance to the smiling, sleeping Rev. Fr Joseph Kuncharath. His life was ever peaceful, and faultless, as said in the Bhagavad Gita: “Those who dedicate their actions to God, abandoning all attachment, remain untouched by sin, just as a lotus leaf is untouched by water.”Wherever he served – be it at Palarivattom, where he constructed the new simple, but elegant St Martin De Porres Church, without giving room for any complaint, whatsoever, or at the Our Lady of Velankanni Mata Nagar Church, Gandhi Nagar, where he performed with ease and equanimity the arduous task of managing a prestigious educational institution – humility was his hallmark.He was exceptionally courteous to everyone and extremely helpful to anyone in need. He left a lasting imprint on whomever he chanced to meet. The cosmic presence of God in his soul was ever writ large on his graceful, radiant face.Fully conscious was he of his declining health. But that did not deter this karmayogi from continuing his good work, wherever he was, actively participating in every spiritual, family and social event.Just as his life, his death,