Excerpt from: BAWS, Vol. 9
“…Nobody will have any quarrel with the abstract principle that nothing should be done whereby the best shall be superseded by one who is only better and the better by one who is merely good and the good by one who is bad…….
But Man is not a mere machine. He is a human being with feelings of sympathy for some and antipathy for others. This is even true of the ‘best’ man. He too is charged with the feelings of class sympathies and class antipathies. Having regard to these considerations the ‘best’ man from the governing class may well turn out to be the worst from the point of view of the servile classes. The difference between the governing classes and the servile classes in the matter of their attitudes towards each other is the same as the attitude a person of one nation has for that of another nation.”
It would be instructive to compare the attitude of the governing class in India with the attitude taken by the governing class in other countries in times of national crisis such as we are passing through in India today. In France, when the Revolution broke out and demanded equality the governing class in France voluntarily came forward to give up its powers and its privileges and to merge itself in the mass of the nation. This is clear from what happened when the States General called. The Commons got 600 representatives while the clergy and the Nobles got 800 each. The question arose how were the 1,200 members to sit, debate and vote. The Commons insisted upon the union of all the three estates in one Chamber and ‘vote by head.’ It was impossible to expect the clergy and the Nobles to accept this position. For it meant the surrender of their most ancient and valuable privileges. Yet a good part of them agreed to the demand of the Commons and gave France a constitution based upon liberty, equality and fraternity.
The attitude of the governing classes in Japan during the period between 1855 to 1870—a period in which the Japanese people were transformed from a feudal society into
a modern nation—was even more patriotic than the attitude of the governing classes in France. As students of Japanese history1 know, there were four classes in Japanese Society (1) The Damiyos, (2) The Samurai, (8) The Hemin or the Common folk and (4) The Eta or the outcastes standing one above the other in an order of graded inequality. At the bottom were the Eta numbering a good many thousands. Above the Eta were the Hemin numbering about 25/83 millions. Over them were the Samurai who numbered about
2 millions and who had the power of life and death over the Hemin. At the apex were the Damiyos or the Feudal Barons who exercised sway over the rest of the three classes and
who numbered only 300. The Damiyos and the Samurai realized that it was impossible to transform this feudal society with its class composition and class rights into a
modem nation with equality of citizenship. Accordingly the Damiyos charged with the spirit of nationalism and anxious not to stand in the way of national unity, came forward to surrender their privileges and to merge themselves
1 See Romance of Japan by James A.B. Scherer.
in the common mass of people. In a memorial submitted to the Emperor on the 5th March 1869 they said:1 “The Place where we live is the Emperor’s land. The food that we eat is grown by the Emperor’s men. How then can we claim any property as our own ? We now reverently offer up our possessions and also our followers (Samurai as well as ‘common folk’) with the prayer that the Emperor will take good measures for rewarding those to whom reward is due, and for fining such as do not deserve reward. Let
imperial orders be issued for altering and remodelling the
territories of the various clans. Let the civil and penal
codes, the military laws down to the rules, for uniforms
and for the construction of engines of war, all proceed from
the Emperor. Let all affairs of the Empire, both great and
small, be referred to him.”
How does the governing class in India compare in this behalf
with the governing class in Japan ? Just the opposite. The
governing class in India has no such intention of making any
sacrifice on the altar of Indian Freedom. Instead of surrendering
its privileges in the name of nationalism, the governing class
in India is using or misusing the slogan of nationalism to
maintain its privileges. Whenever the servile classes ask for
reservations in the Legislatures, in the Executive and in public
services, the governing class raises the cry of ‘nationalism in
danger.’ People are told that if we are to achieve national
freedom, we must maintain national unity, that all questions
regarding reservations in the Legislatures, Executives and the
public services are inimical to national unity and therefore
for anyone interested in national freedom it is a sin to stand
out for such reservations and create dissensions. That is the
attitude of the governing class. It stands in glaring contrast
with that of the governing class in Japan. Far from sacrificing
its privileges for nationalism, it is exploiting nationalism to
The governing class in India does not merely refuse to
surrender its power and authority; it never loses an opportunity
to pour ridicule on the political demands of the servile classes.
Some2 members of the governing classes have gone to the length of composing lampoons and parodies in order to make the demand of the servile classes appear absurd and ridiculous. The most colourful of such parodies was the one written by
Dr. R. P. Paranjpe, new Indian High Commissioner for Australia.
It is difficult to understand how so advanced a Liberal like
Dr. Paranjpe should entertain such views.
1 lbid, p. 233.
2 The parody written by Dr. R.P. Paranjpe appeared in a magazine called
Gujarathi Punch for May 1926 under the heading “A Peep into the Future.”
As a specimen of this class of writing by members of the governing class it is
worth perusal. It is a satire based on certain incidents which are imagined tohave occurred under the principle of communal reservations. As the magazine is
not easily available, I reproduce it below :—
‘A Peep Into The Future’
The following extracts are taken from reports of Commissions, records of police
courts cases, judicial trials, Council Proceedings, Administration Reports, etc.,
issued between the year 1930-50 and are published for the exclusive benefit of
the readers of the Gujarati Punch.
Report of the Royal Commission on the Government of India, 1930 :
We have given our closest consideration to the representations made on behalf
of several communities in India. Taking the figures of the last Census as our
basis we can only give an approximate satisfaction to all the claims made before
us, for it is not possible to give an absolutely accurate solution to the problem of
constructing a machinery of Government unless every single person in the country
is made a member thereof, as the numbers of the several communities do not
possess a common measure. We lay down the number 2375 as the fundamental
number in the constitution and this number is divided into parts attached to the
several communities as shown in the schedule attached to our report. The claims
of each community will henceforward be represented by its proper number, and
all appointments, memberships of various bodies, and in fact everything in the
country will be awarded according to the proportion given in the schedule wherever
possible. The Viceroy’s Executive Council will consist of 475 members selected as
far as may be according to one-fifth the numbers belonging to each community
and three members will hold office for one year so that each community will have
attained its exact share of membership in five years. There will be 125 Judges
in each High Court, each judge holding office for one year, though according to
this arrangement, each section will have obtained its exact share only after the
lapse of 19 years. The number of other kinds of appointments will be determined
on the same basis for the accurate adjustment of all claims.
To allow for the proper functioning of all bodies with these numbers as many
existing Government buildings as may be necessary may be pulled down and
rebuilt so as to be of the proper size.
(Notification of the Government of India, 1932)
In accordance with the provisions of the Government of India Act, 1931, His
Majesty the King Emperor has been pleased to appoint the following 475 gentlemen
as members of the Executive Council of the Governor General:
267. Matadin Bamdin (caste Barber) member in charge of the Surgical Branch
of the Medical Department.
372. Allabux Peerbux (Mahomedan Camel driver) in charge of the camel
transport division of the Army Department.
433. Bamaswamy (caste, Andhra Sweeper) in charge of the road cleaning
branch of the P.W.D.
437. Jagannath Bhattacharya (Kulin Brahmin Priest) in charge of the domestic
section of the Registration Department.
* * *
These lampoons and parodies give the impression that the
members of the servile classes are perverse if not idiotic in
making such demands and the governing classes in opposing
the demands of the servile classes are seeking to maintain
in India an efficient body politic by insisting that every place
of power and authority should be filled by none but the best
(Letter to all Local Governments, 1934)
In response to a resolution passed by the Legislative Assembly, with which the
Government of India are in full agreement, I am directed to say that henceforward
every appointment under Government should go by rotation to each community
irrespective of the merits of the applicants.
(Notification in the Bombay Government Gazette, 1934)
The Government of Bombay will proceed to make the following appointments
in December. The applicants for the several appointments should belong to the
castes mentioned against each according to the rotation fixed by Government
Order No. … dated November 30th, 1934.
1. Chief Engineer for Irrigation (Sind) : Kunbi from North Kanara.
2. Professor of Sanskrit, Elphinstone College, Bombay : Baluchi Pathan
3. Commandant of His Excellency’s Bodyguard: Marwari from North Gujarat.
4. Consulting Architect to Government: Wadari (wandering gypsy) from
5. Director of Islamic culture : Karhada Brahmin.
6. Professor of Anatomy : (Grant Medical College) Mahomedan Butcher.
7. Superintendent of Yeravda Jail: Ghantichor.
8. Two organizers of prohibition : Dharala (Kaira District Bhil) (Panch
(Report of a Case from the High Court, 1935)
A.B. (caste Teli) was charged with the cold- blooded murder of his father while
he was asleep. The judge summing up against the accused, the jury brought in
a verdict of guilty. Before passing sentence the judge asked the pleader for the
accused if he had to say anything. The pleader, Mr. Bomanji, said he agreed
with the verdict but that according to Law the accused could not be sentenced
at all, much less sentenced to death, as during the current year seven Telia
had already been convicted and sentenced two of them with death, that several
other communities had not yet reached their quota of convictions as given in the
Government of India Act, while the Telia had already reached theirs. His Lordship
accepted the contention of the defence pleader and acquitted the accused.
(Extract from the ‘Indian Daily Mail’, 1936)
Annaji Ramchandra (Chitpavan Brahmin) was found wandering in the streets
of Poona with a long knife attacking whomsoever he met. When brought up
before the Magistrate he was shown by the police to have been recently let off
from the Mental Hospital. The Superintendent of the Hospital in his evidence
said that Annaji had been in the hospital as a dangerous insane for three years,
but as there was the quota for the Chitpavanas and as the inmates belonging
to other communities had not finished their year-quotas he could not keep man available. Nobody will have any quarrel with the abstract
principle that nothing should be done whereby the best shall
be superseded by one who is only better and the better by one
who is merely good and the good by one who is bad. But the
argument completely fails to carry conviction when in practice
one finds that having regard to the historical circumstances
of India every time the ‘best man’ is chosen he turns out
to be a man from the governing class. This may be alright
from the point of view of the governing class. But can it be
alright from the point of view of the servile class ? Could ‘best’
German be the ‘best’ for the French ? Could the ‘best’ Turk
be ‘best’ for the Greeks ? Could the ‘best’ Pole be regarded
him any longer and show any special favouritism to the Chitpavans and he
had therefore let him off according to Government Order No. … in the Medical
Department. The Magistrate ordered Annaji to be discharged.
(Extract from the Report of the Administration of Jails in the Bombay
In spite of every precaution the numbers in the jails did not correspond to
the quotas fixed for each community. The Superintendent had already asked for
instructions from Government with a view to remedying the discrepancy.
Resolution of Government: Government view with serious displeasure this grave
dereliction of duty on the part of the I.G. of prisons. Immediate steps should be
taken to arrest and put in jail as many members of the various communities
as are required to bring their quotas up to the proper level. If enough persons
required cannot be caught, a sufficient number of inmates should be let off to
bring down all to the same level.
(Proceedings of the Legislative Council, 1940)
Mr. Chennappa asked: Has the attention of Government been called to the
fact that class list of the recent M.A. Examination in Pali do not show the proper
quota for mang-garudis ?
The Hon. Mr. Damu Shroff (Minister of Education) : The University Registrar
reports that no candidate from among Mang-garudis offered himself for examination.
Mr. Chennappa : Will Government be pleased to stop this examination until
such a candidate offers himself and if the University disobeys the order of
Government to take away the University grant and amend the University Act ?
The Hon. Member: Government will be pleased to consider the suggestion
(Extract from ‘The Times of India,’ 1942)
The Coroner Mr. ….. was suddenly called last evening to inquire into the
death of Ramji Sonu at the J.J. Hospital as the result of a surgical operation.
Dr. Tanu Pandav (Caste Barber) deposed that he had conducted the operation.
He wished to open an abscess in the abdomen but his knife pierced the heart
and the patient expired. Asked whether he had ever carried out any operation
of this nature before, he said that he was appointed as the principal surgeon to
the hospital only one day before as it was then the turn of his community and
that he had never held a surgical instrument in his hand before except a razor
for shaving. The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure.
‘best’ by the Jews ? There can hardly be any doubt as to the
correct answer to these questions. Class qualifications can
never be ignored. Man is not a mere machine. He is a human
being with feelings of sympathy for some and antipathy for
others. This is even true of the ‘best’ man. He too is charged
with the feelings of class sympathies and class antipathies.
Having regard to these considerations the ‘best’ man from the
governing class may well turn out to be the worst from the
point of view of the servile classes. The difference between
the governing classes and the servile classes in the matter of
their attitudes towards each other is the same as the attitude
a person of one nation has for that of another nation. Persons
of the governing class in parodying the demands of the servile
classes seem to forget that the difference between the governing
class and the servile class in India is of the same nature as
the difference between French and Germans, Turks and Greeks
or Poles and Jews and the reasons why one will not tolerate
the government of the other although it may be of the ‘best’
men are the same in both cases.
The governing class in their attempt to ridicule the demand
also forget by what means it has built up their power. Let
them refer to their own Manu Smriti and they will find that
the ways they got their power were very much the same as the
imaginary resolutions suggested by Dr. Paranjpe. A reference to
Manu Smriti will show that the view that Brahmins, the chief
and the leading element in the governing class, acquired their
political power not by force of intellect—intellect is nobody’s
monopoly—but by sheer communalism. According to the Laws
Manu Smriti the post of the Purohit, King’s Chaplain and
Lord Chancellor, the posts of the Chief Justice and Judges
of the High Court and the posts of Ministers to the Crown
were all reserved for the Brahmins. Even for the post of the
Commander-in-Chief the Brahmin was recommended as a
fit and a proper person though it was not in terms reserved
for him. All the strategic posts having been reserved for the
Brahmins it goes without saying that all ministerial posts
came to be reserved for the Brahmins. This is not all. The
Brahmin was not content with reserving places of profit
and power for his class. He knew that mere reservation will
not do. He must prevent rivals shooting up from other non-
Brahmin communities equally qualified to hold the posts and agitate and blow up the system of reservations.
In addition to reserving all executive posts in the State for Brahmins a
law was made whereby education was made the monopoly and
privilege of Brahmins. As has already been pointed out the law
made it a crime for the Shudra, i.e. the lower orders of Hindu
Society to acquire learning, the infringement of which was
followed by not only heavy but cruel and inhuman punishment
such as cutting the tongue of the criminal and filling his ear
with hot molten lead. Congressmen cannot escape by saying
that these privileges no longer exist. They must admit that
while the privileges have gone the advantages derived from
their continuance over several centuries have remained. Nor
can Congressmen honestly turn down the demands of the
servile classes as Communalism knowing full well that a worst
form of communalism had been the recognized means adopted
by the Brahmins for acquiring power and that if the servile
classes are to-day driven to ask for safeguards it is because
the Brahmins in order to maintain their privileges passed
laws which made it a crime for them to acquire learning
or property. Surely what the servile classes are demanding
is not half so bad as was done by the Brahmins for their
own aggrandisement and for the perpetuation of their own
In the light of what has been said, it will be found that
the Fight for Freedom led by the governing class is, from the
point of view of the servile classes, a selfish, if not a sham,
struggle. The freedom which the governing class in India is
struggling for is freedom to rule the servile classes. What it
wants is the freedom for the master race to rule the subject
race which is nothing but the Nazi or Nietzschean doctrine of
freedom for superman to rule the common man.
DR. BABASAHEB AMBEDKAR WRITINGS AND SPEECHES , Vol. 9, Edited by Vasant Moon, Pages 225-231