February 23, 2020
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Manu Reigns Yet

Manu Reigns Yet
WITH the rise of the backward classes and Dalits as a major political force in the country, one would have thought that the Manuvadi philosophy which guides the Varna system, would have been long abandoned by our rulers. But Manu still appears to be the reigning deity at least in one section of South Block, the imposing building on Raisina Hill which houses the Prime Minister's Office. The ceiling of one of the waiting rooms on the second floor is adorned with a series of paintings depicting the caste system with all its biases. There is the sage-like brahmin, teaching children undoubtedly belonging to upper-caste families; the kshatriya on his throne surrounded by courtiers; the vaishya engaged in business; and the sudra looking utterly miserable. Will H.D.Deve Gowda, now that he controls South Block, have the painting erased? A bureaucrat is willing to bet that the Prime Minister will not touch the painting, for it also depicts the four ashrams recommended by our forefathers. Since the ashram system advocates sanyas for septuagenarians, is that a hint to his Congress rival, P.V. Narasimha Rao?

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