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TRIPURA’S DALIT SOCIAL & EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION (TDSEDF)

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About

WHO IS A DALIT ?

Dalit is not a new word. Apparently it was used in 1930‟s as a Hindi and Marathi translation of „Depressed Classes‟, the term the British used for what are now called the Dr.AMBEDKAR choose the term „Broken man‟ as English translation Dalits in his paper- “The Untouchables” in 1948.The Dalit Panthers revived the term „Dalit‟ and include in it the scheduled tribes in 1973 in their manifesto.

India’s caste system assigns individuals a certain hierarchical status according to Hindu beliefs. Traditionally, there are four principal castes (divided into many sub-categories) and one category of people who fall outside the caste system—the Dalits. As members of the lowest rank of Indian society, Dalits face discrimination at almost every level: from access to education and medical facilities to restrictions on where they can live and what jobs they can have.

Within the Dalit community, there are many divisions into sub-castes. Dalits are divided into leather workers, street sweepers, cobblers, agricultural workers, and manual “scavengers”. The latter group, considered the lowest of the low and officially estimated at one million, traditionally are responsible for digging village graves, disposing of dead animals, and cleaning human excreta. Approximately three-quarters of the Dalit workforce are in the agricultural sector of the economy. A majority of the country’s forty million people who are bonded laborers are Dalits. These jobs rarely provide enough income for Dalits to feed their families or to send their children to school. As a result, many Dalits are impoverished, uneducated, and illiterate.

Dalits have been oppressed, culturally subjugated, and politically marginalized. The principals of untouchability and “purity and pollution” dictate what Dalits are and are not allowed to do ,where they are and are not allowed to live, go, or sit; who they can and cannot give water to, eat with, or marry; extending into the minutia of all aspects of daily life.

Dalit, meaning "oppressed" in Sanskrit and "broken/scattered" in Hindi, is a term mostly used for the castes in India that have been subjected to untouchability. Dalits were excluded from the four-fold varna system of Hinduism and were seen as forming a fifth varna, also known by the name of Panchama. Dalits now profess various religious beliefs, including Buddhism, Christianity and Sikhism.

The term Dalit was in use as a translation for the British Raj census classification of Depressed Classes prior to 1935. It was popularized by the economist and reformer B. R. Ambedkar (1891–1956), himself a Dalit, and in the 1970s its use was invigorated when it was adopted by the Dalit Panthers activities group. India’s National Commission for Scheduled Castes considers official use of Dalits as a label to be "unconstitutional" because modern legislation prefers Scheduled Castes; however, some sources say that Dalit has encompassed more communities than the official term of Scheduled Castes and is sometimes used to refer to all of India’s oppressed peoples.

INDIAN SOCIALISM

Socialism in India is a political movement founded early in the 20th century, as a part of the broader Indian independence movementagainst the colonial British Raj. It grew quickly in popularity as it espoused the causes of India’s farmers and Labourers against the Zamindars, princely class and landed gentry. Socialism shaped the principle economic and social policies of the Indian government after independence until the early 1990s, when India moved towards a more market-based economy. However, it remains a potent influence on Indian politics, with a large number of national and regional political parties espousing democratic socialism.

The COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA was established in 1921, but socialism as an ideology gained a nationwide appeal after it was endorsed by nationalist leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose. Radical socialists were amongst the first to call for outright Indian independence from Britain. Under Nehru, the INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS ,India’s largest political party, adopted socialism as an ideology for socio-economic policies in 1936. Radical socialists and communists also engineered the Tebhaga movement of farmers in Bengal against the landed gentry. However, mainstream Indian socialism connected itself with Gandhism and adopted peaceful struggle instead of class warfare.

After India’s independence in 1947, the Indian government under prime ministers Nehru and Indira Gandhi oversaw land reform and the nationalization of major industries and the banking sector. Independently, activists Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayanworked for peaceful land re distribution under the Sarvodaya movement, where landlords granted land to farm workers out of their own free will. In the 1960s, the Communist Party of India formed India’s first democratically elected communist government when it won elections in the states of Kerala and later West Bengal. However, when a global recession began in the late 1970s, economic stagnation, chronic shortages and state inefficiency left many disillusioned with state socialism. In the late 1980s and 1990s, India’s government began to systematically liberalise the Indian economy by pursuing privatisation, aiming to attract foreign investment. Nevertheless, the Congress party continues to espouse some socialist causes, and other major parties such as the Communists, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and several others openly espouse socialism.

DIVISION OF SOCIETY

B.RAmbedkar and Hindu social order origin and development of the Hindu caste system are examined in the light of religion and history Hindu caste system hits the very spirit of social justice and comes in the way of the scheme and constitution equality, caste creed, religion, sex and place of B.R.Ambedkar rigid Hindu caste system and caste system and division of society on caste considerations in the best relevant B.R.Ambedkar social ideology his best in the Indian society.1 The term ‘Society’ is used of different contexts to identify the gatherings of various people. Indian society is one of such usages. It means the people of India. Similarly it is often used to refer the people who are following a particular religion. Hindu society, Christian society and Muslim society are such usages. Hinduism is the major religion of India. Nearly 85% of Indians are the followers of Hinduism. It has survived through the ages of history. Its historic records date back to over four thousand years. It had reached a stage of civilization which had continued its unbroken course until the present day. Further, it has stood the stress and strain of more than four or five millenniums of spiritual thought and experience. B.R.Ambedkaar life indeed in the long drawn political carver for independence, he played social political and constitutional role soon after his educational career, he partiespated in the mashed satyagraha for the socio economies uplift of the harijans. He gained prommence on account of his dynamic social ideology ‘war’ against Untouchables ideas on land reforms and last but not the least him participation in the national movement.

BRAHMIN TO DALIT

The INDIAN Brahmin-Dalit interaction has been initiated by Swami Vishvesha Theertha of Pejawar Matha, Udupi. Once a leading light of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, he has also been campaigning on the dangers that Hinduism, the Sanatana Dharma, is facing through conversions. Though proselytisation is not unique to the so-called monotheistic faiths, and Hinduism too has engaged in conversions (See, “A natural process of transformation,” The Hindu, November 7, 2008), the belief is widespread that Hinduism is peculiarly vulnerable because it is a non-proselytising faith, unlike Christianity and Islam, seen as engaged in a systematic campaign to draw people away from the Hindu fold. To counter conversions of Dalits into Christianity or Islam, Swami Vishvesha Theertha has undertaken such walkabouts in Dalit villages, more accurately described by their residents as ‘holegeri’s ; meaning localities inhabited by the holeya, the word itself meaning something that is dirty, besmirched, telling more about the reality of everyday life and experience of Dalits than these symbolic walkabouts.

Clearly, among traditional Hindu religious leaders there is awareness that the practice of untouchability is damaging the faith, driving Dalits away, and some alarm over its implications. Dalits who may (or may not) have at one time passively accepted the practice as part of the natural ordering of caste hierarchies of the VARNASHRAMA DHARMA , have been restive for generations. Along with several non-Brahmin castes, Dalits too are now establishing the so-called JATI MATHS , headed by persons of their kind, bearing all the outward symbols and accoutrements of the heads of traditional BRAHMIN MATHS. Superficially, perhaps even in a fundamental sense, these maths have appropriated all the visible symbols and the essential evils of Brahminism in practice. According to one scholar, there are at least a hundred such non-Brahmin mathas in Karnataka, most of which came up in the post-Emergency political MANTHA of the State.

However, the correctives being applied, like demonstrative walkabouts by Brahmin leaders in areas one shunned as literally dirty and polluting , and by Dalit leaders in areas formally barred to Dalits, or the washing of the feet of a Dalit guru by Brahmins, are driven by a fundamentally flawed perspective that sees untouchability as sine. Thus the symbolic atoning by those who provided the ideology, the ‘upper’ caste Hindus like Brahmins — for it was the Brahmins who wrote the texts. These attempts to weld a common Dalit-Brahmin platform, united in symbolic acts of unity and togetherness, also make those Dalits who are going along with such a compact complicit in their historic diminishment and exclusion.

The problem with such gestures is that the practice of untouchability was not so much a sin as a calculated crime, part of a social structure constructed by those who controlled the resources to facilitate the accumulation of surplus and profits in the process of material production. However, it is easier and more comfortable to everyone, even some of the victims of that crime, to give untouchability the sin of being a ‘sin, for acceptance of moral culpability costs nothing. If, on the other hand, one were to see the practice as a calculated crime for which one has to eventually pay, those who have perpetrated such crimes could, under a proper system of justice, be sent to prison.

CASTE SYSTEM

The caste system in India is the paradigmatic ethnographic example of caste. It has origins in ancient India, and was transformed by various ruling elites in medieval, early-modern, and modern India, especially the Mughal Empire and the British Raj. It is today the basis of educational and job Reservations in India. It consists of two different concepts, varna and jati, which may be regarded as different levels of analysis of this system.

The caste system as it exists today is thought to be the result of developments during the collapse of the Mughal era and the British colonial regime in India. The collapse of the Mughal era saw the rise of powerful men who associated themselves with kings, priests and ascetics, affirming the regal and martial form of the caste ideal, and it also reshaped many apparently casteless social groups into differentiated caste communities. The British Raj furthered this development, making rigid caste organisation a central mechanism of administration.Between 1860 and 1920, the British segregated Indians by caste, granting administrative jobs and senior appointments only to the upper castes. Social unrest during the 1920s led to a change in this policy.From then on, the colonial administration began a policy of positive discrimination by reserving a certain percentage of government jobs for the lower castes.

Caste-based differences have also been practised in other regions and religions in the Indian subcontinent like Nepalese Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.It has been challenged by many reformist Hindu movements, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity,and also by present-day Indian Buddhism.

New developments took place after India achieved independence, when the policy of caste-based reservation of jobs was formalised with lists of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Since 1950, the country has enacted many laws and social initiatives to protect and improve the socioeconomic conditions of its lower caste population. These caste classifications for college admission quotas, job reservations and other affirmative action initiatives, according to the Supreme Court of India, are based on heredity and are not changeable. Discrimination against lower castes is illegal in India under Article 15 of its constitution, and India tracks violence against Dalits nationwide.

SC/ST & UNTOUCHABILITY

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are various officially designated groups of historically disadvantaged people in India. The terms are recognised in the Constitution of India and the various groups are designated in one or other of the categories. For much of the period of British rule in the Indian subcontinent, they were known as the Depressed Classes. The combined percentage of people in scheduled castes and scheduled tribes is essentially the official percentage of people in the lowest part of Indian society. In modern literature, the Scheduled Castes/Tribes are sometimes referred to as untouchables, in Tamil Nadu they are referred as Adi Dravida or Paraiyar; and in other states mostly referred as Dalits. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes comprise about 16.6 % and 8.6 %, respectively, of India s population (according to the 2011 census). The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 lists 1,108 castes across 29 states in its First Schedule, and the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 lists 744 tribes across 22 states in its First Schedule. Since the independence of India, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were given Reservation status, guaranteeing political representation. The Constitution lays down the general principles of positive discrimination for SCs and STs.

UNTOUCHABILITY

Charmashilpee ( Chamar ) is a Dalit sub-caste mainly found in the such as Punjab , Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh , Bihar Assam WESTBENGAL TRIPURA and other states the traditional occupation is leather-working and tanning. Charmashilpee is a second largest caste in india and most highly influential group among schedule castes. Traditionally their social status was very poor due to the rigidity of the Indian caste system, however in modern days they are one of the most progressive castes in India. Charmashilpee have a population of over 50 million. The most politically and socially influential Charmashilpee are from the state of Punjab , where they form 11% of the population with Dalits comprising 27% of the population. Charmashilpee denotes profession but nowadays misunderstood with caste. The castes which were involved in leather work in past ( before independence )were termed as Charmashilpee in general. Charmashilpee in Rajasthan can only be identified in the districts adjoining to the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The districts of Bikaner, Shriganganagar,Hanumangarh, Churu, Jhunjhunu, Alwar, Bharatpur and Dhaulpur are inhabited by Chamars..Now a days.Raigar (leather tanners ) and Mochi (Shoe-makers) are other two predominant castes related with leather profession.

IN U.P. CHARMASHILPEE are being called Jatav, Kureels,Dohrey,Dhusia etc. Jatavs are mainly concentrated in the Western part of U.P and also in Delhi and Haryana.Famous freedom fighter Banke Charmashilpee was also from Village Kurarpur, Dist. Jaunpur ,Uttar Pradesh.This Brave Revolutionary laid down his life for the country and was hanged by britishers for his active role in freedom struggle of 1857.

We are All Charmashilpee ," NO Muchi or Chamars"

“We are used to being beaten up,” older and more experienced, says. “Our fathers and grandfathers have seen much suffering. But the big halla of beating us up for skinning cows is the most unfair thing that could happen. This has been our work, for centuries. Who else will skin a dead cow or buffalo? Who else is called when a buffalo or goat, or even a dog or cat dies in the village. Every sarpanch (Pradhan) has our mobile numbers to summon us to remove carrion. All these years, if we refused to do this work they would beat us. I’ve heard of a Dalit man who was a headmaster in the city but when he came to the village, the durbars threatened him. ‘You can become a teacher or headmaster in the city. But here you are a Chamar. And if we tell you to pick up a dead dog, you will obey.” “So if we didn’t pick up dead animals they would beat us. Now, they order us to pick up dead cows and buffaloes. And the Gau Rakshaks stop us and beat us up.”

“Everything is about money. They try to squeeze money out of us. If you can pay as much as they demand, they will let you go. But if we constantly pay the bribes, how can we survive? Jains, Hindus, OBC shepherds all call us. When we take the animal they say ‘Dharm Dhan ke liya kooch Do‘ (give us something for wealth and prosperity). We have to put our hands in our pockets and give them money. They will sprinkle water on it to avoid pollution from us Chamars, but they will take our money.”

They continue to educate me. “Some cows have a certain stone in the gall bladder, I think. We call it ‘Gorochana‘. It fetches five to seven thousand rupees. It’s used in Ayurvedic Medicine …” You will laugh. “ Baba Ramdev, uses it in his medicines. One Death cow fetches thousands of rupees. They use the chamrha for shoes, bags, belts, upholstery of expensive car seats, leather sofas etc. The horns are used for ornamental purposes. The hair is used to make expensive brushes. The hooves are exported. The bones are powdered and exported for bone china abroad and to vegetarian Rajasthan for expensive pottery.” Mochi (Hindu)

The Mochi are a Hindu caste, found mainly in North India. They are the traditional shoemakers . Historically, the community was involved in the manufacture of protective leather dresses for soldiers, and the community are closely associated with the Rajput community. They share Gotra names with the Rajput community.

Present circumstances:-The Muchi are involved in the manufacture of leather shoes. The community have a traditional caste council, as is common among many North Indian artisan communities. This caste council acts as an instrument of social control, by punishing those who contravene community norms. Each caste council is headed by a Choudhary, a position that tends to be hereditary. The Mochi live in multi-caste villages, but occupy their own distinct quarters.

Mochi (Muslim)

Mochi are a community, found in North India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They are the traditional shoemakers. They are mainly chamars, who chose Islam as their religion during mid 14th to 16th century AD. The community was also involved in the manufacture of protective leather dresses for soldiers and as such were closely associated with army. The word Muchi is derived from the Sanskrit Mochika , meaning a cobbler. Traditionally, the Muchi was the cobbler and shoemaker of village India.

The Muslim Mochi in Uttar Pradesh are further divided into biradaris, which theoretically descend from a common ancestor. Marriages are preferred within the biradari, with the Mochi practising both cross cousin and parallel cousin marriages. Major Mochi clans include Bagri, Barwar, Bargujar, Gaur, Jadon, Jat and Shaikh. The Mochi are found in multi-caste villages, occupying their own distinct quarters. Each settlement contains a biradari pamchayat or caste council, which acts as an instrument of social control, as well as dealing with intra community disputes. The Mochi have also set up the Uttar Pradesh Muslim Mochi Sangh, which acts as a community lobbying organization. They have now been granted Other Backward Classes status, which allows them to access a number of affirmative actions schemes by the Government of India.

Chamar & Muchi are two of the untouchable communities, or Dalita, who are now classified as a Scheduled Caste under modern India’s system of positive discrimination. As untouchables, they were traditionally considered outside the Hindu ritual ranking system of castes known as Varna . They are found mainly in the northern states ,West Bengal &Tripura of India . But this Position / Status no found in the Tripura. It is clear by CPI(M) & Dalit Father Kavi Anil Sarkar. Chamar & Muchi are Changing, Now We are CHARMASHILPEE in Tripura. Thanks Govt. of Tripura.

RESERVATION SYSTEM

The system of reservation in India comprises a series of affirmative action measures, such as reserving access to seats in the various legislatures, to government jobs, and to enrollment in higher educational institutions. The societal inequality in India is represented by the grossly inadequate representation of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Castes in employment and education due to historic, societal and cultural reasons. The reservation nourishes the historically disadvantaged castes and tribes, listed as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes by the Government of India. The reservation is undertaken to address the historic oppression, inequality and discrimination faced by those communities and to give these communities a place. It is intended to realize the promise of equality enshrined in the Constitution. However, there has been a serious debate about reservation. The Constitution prohibits untouchability under its Article 17, and obligates the state to make special provision for the betterment of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, also questions whether such special provisions of reservation would not be considered discriminatory, as it would encourage caste-discrimination and caste based politics.

Over the years, the categories for affirmative action have been expanded beyond the lists of Scheduled castes and tribes to include a special category of Other Backward Classes(OBC). Consideration has also been given to economically backward within the community itself in providing reservations. Reservation is governed by constitutional laws, statutory laws, and local rules and regulations. The Scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC), and in some states Backward Classes among Muslims under a category called BC(M), are the primary beneficiaries of the reservation policies under the Constitution – with the objective of ensuring a level playing field. However, in the recent years there have been complete Reservation Exclusion Agitations among some of the other general section of population due to a notion of denying them the access to full opportunity in the nation.

Dalits should give up reservations voluntarily, let upper caste enjoy it now.

The Scheduled Caste & Tribes in India have enjoyed the so called “reservation” benefits. Some of the members of the community have progressed economically to a very well of status. Most are yet to upgrade their economic situations. Even the ones who progressed economically, the benefits are limited to the family only, and may not even benefit the next generation. While in a normal discourse with an average Indian, irrespective of caste/class/region, one may observe an understanding the citizens is that reservation is intended to uplift the “poor” i.e. SC, ST, NT, etc. and help them progress economically. This is completely untrue. This is the fundamental flaw in most peoples understanding of reservation.

Reservations were intended for SOCIAL acceptance and social elevation of the SC, ST, NT… etc. Reservation is NOT an economic welfare scheme of the government. For economic development, of the poor (without identity of caste), there were many schemes, some still working and most about to die thanks to the neo economic policies of government. In recent past, the PDS (Public Distribution Network) was very strong and is still in some states. This is an example of helping the poor to feed. The MGNEGRA is another example of livelihood scheme for poor ( not limited to SC ST..etc) Mid Day meal scheme feds school children irrespective of their castes. A closer look at most of the welfare schemes since Independence we see they were intended and directed towards poverty eradication or uplifting the poor. I studied in a private aided school (1988-1998) and my secondary fees per month were Rs. 5 for class 5, Rs 6 for class 6… Rs 10 for class 10. This fee structure was not based on caste. The SC ST had even this small amount waived off.

Today, 70 yrs post-independence, we are at a state where the dominant communities are demanding reservations. If they do a careful study of the last 70 yrs of reservations for the SC ST..etc they would never be demanding reservations. Post New Economic Policies and opening of the markets, reservations are shrinking. Government sector is outsourcing work and hence the new entities are out of the ambit of reservation. Reservations are limited only to government agencies, hence the total number of jobs with reservation benefits have been declining.

Agriculture is the largest employer, and there is no reservation. Small scale units, shops, factories etc employ a vast number of people, and there is no reservation. So the total number of jobs open for reservation is highly limited and this is narrowing the mind-set of the SC ST to focus only on these jobs and not think beyond. Most SC ST after completion of their graduation spend a large amount of family resource and their productive years in competitive exams, as they have reservation benefit. But the number of such jobs being limited, the youth spend multiple years to study for such entrance exams. In all these years they are a liability to the family and also do not earn as they are preparing for the exams. The probability to get a job is less and total number of years invested is high. While their upper caste friends, knowing that they won’t get through, focus on other employment opportunities and get going in life, a step ahead for sure. Had there been no reservations, the oppressed class youth would also look out of the box and find employment in various other domains, not limited to government jobs. While the upper caste cry of seats in colleges (Engineering, Medical etc) They fail to demand more colleges, if there are more colleges the need for reservations shall never arise. Its simple demand supply logic. Currently in Maharashtra, many engineering colleges are shutting down and in recent past no one is complaining of Seats as most do not want to get into engineering. The total number of seats has been higher than the applications received, hence a student has 100% chance to get an engineering seat, if student is ready to relocate or choose a different college. If the same argument is extended to IIT ( i.e. have more IIT’s) most candidates would get through.

Privatisation of education has also been a turning point. No one is challenging another form of reservation i.e. Management Quota. Where in the seat in a medical/engineering college is “reserved” on the basis of “Donation” to the college. There is no debate on merit of such students, most of them shall never seek employment as they already have their business empire set and ready to be inherited.

If today the SC ST.. etc demand the government to revoke reservations, it shall help them look beyond. The best practice could be the Youths themselves accept, there are no reservations, and work towards their goals in life. This shall install a sense of pride in them and community at large. No one shall be critical of them, for coming from reserved quota.

Casteism shall not be eliminated by reservations, but a uppercaste with a reserved seat shall feel inferior to his SC ST counterpart in an open seat. The idea is not to be dominant but accommodative. This shall somewhere bring the idea of level playing and social acceptance to the minds of the upper caste. Wonder how they will accept something which the SC ST has left (hopefully).

At 70 yrs post-independence, we as a nation have not progressed to blur the lines of caste, reservation has strengthened them. The long term objective is annihilation of caste and this will never be achieved as long as reservation exists. Today if the “Reserved Category” give up reservations, they shall come out more strongly than they are able to with the tag of reservation.

I also wish the dominant upper caste rethink as to what exactly they want, reservation in limited jobs or more jobs where there is no need for reservation. Education in limited colleges or more colleges where there wont be need for reservation.

If both castes decide collectively to work towards annihilation of caste, there shall never be need for reservation.

CASTE POLITICS

Economic inequality seems to be related to the influence of inherited social-economic stratification. A 1995 study notes that the caste system in India is a system of exploitation of poor low-ranking groups by more prosperous high-ranking groups.

A report published in 2001 note that in India 36.3% of people own no land at all, 60.6% own about 15% of the land, with a very wealthy 3.1% owning 15% of the land. A study by Haque reports that India contains both the largest number of rural poor, and the largest number of landless households on the planet. Haque also reports that over 90 % of both scheduled castes (low-ranking groups) and all other castes (high-ranking groups) either do not own land or own land area capable of producing less than $1000 per year of food and income per household. However, over 99 % of India’s farms are less than 10 hectares, and 99.9 % of the farms are less than 20 hectares, regardless of the farmer or landowners caste. Indian government has, in addition, vigorously pursued Agricultural land ceiling laws which prohibit anyone from owning land greater than mandated limits. India has used this law to forcibly acquire land from some, then redistribute tens of millions of acres to the landless and poor of the low-caste. Haque suggests that Indian lawmakers need to reform and modernise the nation’s land laws and rely less on blind adherence to land ceilings and tenancy reform.

In a 2011 study, Aiyar too notes that such qualitative theories of economic exploitation and consequent land redistribution within India between 1950 and 1990 had no effect on the quality of life and poverty reduction. Instead, economic reforms since the 1990s and resultant opportunities for non-agricultural jobs have reduced poverty and increased per capita income for all segments of Indian society.