July 8, 2021 8:10:05 pm
Written by Guru Prakash
The recent changes in the Union Cabinet by the Prime Minister will have far-reaching implications in the context of social justice. This aspect must be highlighted as the political parties who have been doing power politics in the name of social justice have done a great disservice to the cause. They might have started well but are now, sadly, restricted to one family or one community.
Over the years, the contours and the definition of social justice have undergone a paradigm shift. It is no longer about symbolic or ceremonial presence but a more robust, meaningful and result-oriented representation at critical decision-making positions in institutions that matter. “Diversity” as a non-negotiable and permanent feature has been the hallmark of significant institutional structures in the United States since the civil rights movement that was perceived as a moment of “renaissance” in the struggle for equality. In the sphere of art, movies, politics and academics, it is not a mammoth task to notice the element of conscious racial diversity.
This was still a far-fetched dream in India owing to the politics of patronage prescribed and practised by the Congress party. As a matter of convention, the social welfare and labour departments were reserved for leaders from reserved communities — they were never considered as real stakeholders.
It was the Bharatiya Janta Party-led NDA-I that appointed Late GMC Balayogi as the first Dalit Speaker of the Lok Sabha. It was again the BJP that appointed the Late Bangaru Laxman as the national president of the party. There is a mindful effort of cultivating leadership from the communities that have been marginalised in the course of history. Voice is critical for the expression of choice. Therefore, with the expansion of the Cabinet to include a sizeable number of OBCs, SCs and STs, this will be the most socially diverse council of ministers in the history of independent India.
It would not be a mistake to term this also as an effective mix of energy, expertise and experience. From Ashwini Vaishnav, a product of Wharton and Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur to young and dynamic technocrat Rajeev Chandrashekhar to the seven=-time Member of Parliament Virendra Kumar, the Cabinet is indicative of the faith of leadership in both promise and potential. “Harvard and hard work”, as pointed by the Prime Minister, will be reflected in the newly constituted team that is set to embark on the journey of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
It requires a great amount of political will to undertake bold decision-making in public life. However, the creation of a second layer of leadership must be an imperative and a primary prerogative of any political organisation. Memories are still fresh in the minds of the people of India, when a couple of senior journalists in cahoots with lobbyists used to have a say on the allocation of portfolios.
The sanctity of the government was compromised and the vision of the makers of our Constitution contaminated when the will of the people was superseded by the interests of a few in Delhi. This is a lesson for those to whom internal democracy and collective decision making remain a chimaera. The so-called Grand Old Party of India has been without a full-time president for more than two years now. Politics must be about delegation of responsibilities and sharing of power. Considering oneself as the sole repository of wisdom and power is nothing but an institutional defect in a people-led democracy.
The new Cabinet for New India will resonate from Tripura to Tamil Nadu and will reflect the social realities of our country. It will be a force multiplier to the cause of justice and representation. BR Ambedkar, in his lifetime, wanted those from the Depressed Classes to lead the country. The dream of Ambedkar is truly being realised by the Prime Minister by making Dalits relevant stakeholders in the affairs of the nation.
The writer is the National Spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janta Party and Assistant Professor at the Patna University
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