Caste of Great Financial Crimes in India

J Reghu

Lalu Prasad Yadav, Gautam Adani, A Raja | Photo: PTI, AP, Mathrubhumi

What is the caste of corruption in India? We should ask this question as the nation is grappling with two related phenomena. On the one hand, there are massive corruptions taking place and on the other hand the media is either reluctant or afraid to report these sufficiently. The case in point is the unfolding Adani scam, where many in the media are defending Adani. But soon, the arbitrary and legally murky status of the PM Cares fund also will come under greater exposure.

As most people know, Adani belongs to the Baniya caste (Vaishya) from Gujarat. The Ambanis are also Gujarati Baniyas. The dependence of major political parties on these two corporate families alone should worry most Indian citizens. Because India is still a union of states, but the majority of investments and state funds are directed towards just one state of India, Gujarat. Most major corporations, media houses, private educational enterprises, and industries in India are owned by the Baniyas. But we never hear as much about these facts in anti-corruption debates.

Gautam Adani | Photo: PTI

The most celebrated upper caste academic living in India, Ashis Nandy, said in 2013 that most of the corrupt belong to the lower strata of society. His statement should be read in full. "It is a fact that most of the corrupt come from OBCs and Scheduled Castes and now increasingly the Scheduled Tribes. I will give an example. One of the states with the least amount of corruption is the state of West Bengal when the CPI(M) was there. And I must draw attention to the fact that in the last 100 years, nobody from OBC, SC and ST has come anywhere near to power. It is an absolutely clean state. " This perception was created a long time ago and it still continues, that the lower caste majority, who have been kept away from political power for thousands of years, are 'genetically' corrupt, as caste is something one inherits through birth. Caste is said to carry heritable properties called 'gunas'. At the extremes, for the Brahmins this 'Guna' is truthfulness and at the bottom for the Chandalas it is filth. Nandy modified the old Guna theory, and added that corruption is a Guna specific to the lower caste majority, and therefore they should never be in governing positions in any institutions.

Ashish Nandy | Photo: Mathrubhumi

This prejudice is so rooted today that it can be exposed only through unquestionable statistics. It is not surprising that Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Baniyas who are less than 6per cent of India's total population have been systematically and consistently looting and pillaging the wealth of the 94per cent of the OBC, Dalit, Bahujan people in India. Unfortunately they are clever enough to shift the charge of theft and looting on to Bahujan leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav, Andimuthu Raja and Mayawati and they were all sent to jail. When Lalu Prasad Yadav languished in jail for many years, the former Bihar chief minister, Jaganatha Mishra, a Brahmin, got acquitted in the same case.

Former BJP national president Bangaru Lakshman | Photo: UNI

Bangaru Lakshman, the only Dalit, who rose to the presidency of BJP, was caught on camera during a sting operation done by Tehelka, receiving a kickback of mere one lakh rupees, in 2001. He was dismissed, condemned, ostracised and sent to jail, later received bail on health grounds and died as an accused. But when Dilip Singh Judeo (upper caste, from a royal family, and BJP Member of Parliament) was caught receiving Rs 9 lakh, he was easily rehabilitated in the party and allowed to contest again in the Parliament election. India's highly biassed media is notoriously prejudiced against the low caste political leaders and Dalit-Bahujans as if they were genetically prone to corruption. A Raja and Kanimozhi, OBC leaders, were acquitted after languishing for several months in jail. Madhu Koda, Shibu Shoren, both tribals, Mayawati, a Dalit leader, Lalu Prasad Yadav an OBC leader, have all undergone unjustifiable trial proceedings.

Dalit-Bahujans are inherently unable to participate in large scale financial scams because they have neither the social capital nor the networks with highly powerful political centres, banks and money lending institutions. Since the Dalit-Bahujan majority had been denied access to social capital and networks of power and wealth, such a 'habitus' which 'empowers' them to get involved in such massive frauds threatening the whole nation, couldn't have been passed down to the present generations of Dalit-Bahujans. On the other hand, what is normal for an upper caste Gujarati is dangerously abnormal to the rest of India and the entire humanity.

Even a cursory study of the statistics of corruption proves the irrefutable truth about Indian politics - all the resources of India have been reserved for and appropriated by the upper caste minority (the 6 per cent) for pillage and ravaging. The theatre of religious polarisation and rackets of debates about financial corruption are meant for only one thing, to pull a blindfold over the eyes of the lower caste majority while their resources are being looted by the upper castes.

Lalu Prasad Yadav | Photo: ANI

India's criminal justice system and police are ignominiously prejudiced against Dalit-Bahujans and Muslims. The Death Penalty Research Project at the National Law University, Delhi, reports that over 80 percent of prisoners on death row are Dalits, backward castes and Muslims. Of the total death row prisoners of 279, 24-25 per cent, 20.7 per cent, are from SC-STs and Muslims respectively. In Kerala, 14 out of 15 death row prisoners are from lower castes. In Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Jharkhand, the percentage of lower caste death row prisoners is 88.9 per cent, 80 per cent, 78.9 per cent, 75 per cent, 75 per cent 76.9 per cent, 75 per cent respectively.

In the prisons, these people have given representation exceeding their share in the population. In Maharashtra, out of the total jail inmates, 32.4 per cent are Muslims, while their population share is only 10.6 per cent. In Gujarat, Muslims' jail representation (25 per cent) is around three times their total population (9 per cent). In Delhi, the Muslim population is 11.7 per cent, whereas 29 per cent of jail inmates are Muslims.

The percentage of Dalits, backward castes and Muslims in Indian jails is far larger than their share in government services, universities, IITs, IIMs, medical and engineering colleges, judiciary, legislative councils, media, business etc. Though the Dalit-Bahujans and Muslims have been systematically marginalised from the domains of real life, the criminal judicial system should be 'praised' for their 'compassion' and 'generosity' for accommodating them in the jails.

The Death Penalty Report observes that, "India's systemic reality is that the criminal justice system works differently for different people." The Report continues, "The police behave very differently in its dealings with a lower caste person as opposed to the village pradhan or a richer person." For example, in Bihar, in one case, upper caste men were arrested for the massacre of Dalits and in another case, Dalits were arrested for the massacre of upper castes. Both cases were dealt with differently. Dalits were tried and sentenced to death under the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention Act) but not the upper caste, who were acquitted eventually for lack of evidence. For similar offences with similar kinds of evidence, Dalits arrested in connection with the Bara massacre continue to be on death row, but those arrested for the Laxmanpur-Bathe massacre have been acquitted by the Patna High Court.

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