By- Pani Haq Samiti

The inclusion of the word Socialist in the Preamble to the Constitution indicates how deeply embedded socialist values are in the philosophies that shaped our country. The term ‘Socialist’ implies social and economic equality. Social equality translates to equal status and opportunities. Economic equality means that it is the onus of the government to ensure equal distribution of resources and a decent standard of living for all citizens.

Today is also the death anniversary of Jyotiba Phule, one of India’s most impactful social reformers. His revolutionary ideologies, especially around water, can still be used as a template by governments today. He pressed on the importance of the availability of water for domestic and irrigation purposes for farmers. He demanded that the British Government make committed budgetary allocations to fulfill this purpose. At the time, the British had taken huge loans from European parties to build canals and the cost of these canals was being recovered by charging पाणीपट्टी (water tax) in high proportions from the farmers.

An act that is popularly remembered even today is of him opening up his household water tank to members of depressed classes. This happened in 1868, but it would be an explosive act even today, which tells us so much about the lack of progression in our society and our laws. The idea of making water a resource available to everyone is socialist at heart. Our constitution also upholds this idea.

Jyotiba stressed on the importance of dismantling the caste system and was against the evils that Brahminism perpetrated on the lower castes. Today, the same evils manifest in other insidious forms – the most common themes include the non provision of water to people based on their economic background, caste, community and status as adivasis.

Indian courts have accepted the Public Trust Doctrine as a part of the common law which places the responsibility of protecting and distributing natural resources like water, forests, air amongst the general public and does not permit their use for private ownership or commercial purposes. In 2009, when the Pani Haq Samiti went by the name Mumbai Paani, an iconic struggle against water privatisation was brought to a victorious close. (Read more – https://bit.ly/2OsSVse)

We seem to be moving more towards a reality where the forces for privatising piped water are becoming more and more powerful. We must remember the values of our Constitution and draw power from the ideology of Jyotiba Phule. The most effective way to do this is by coming together to resist and fight back.

Remembering Jyotiba Phule

The inclusion of the word Socialist in the Preamble to the Constitution indicates how deeply embedded socialist values are in the philosophies that shaped our country. The term ‘Socialist’ implies social and economic equality. Social equality translates to equal status and opportunities. Economic equality means that it is the onus of the government to ensure equal distribution of resources and a decent standard of living for all citizens.

Today is also the death anniversary of Jyotiba Phule, one of India’s most impactful social reformers. His revolutionary ideologies, especially around water, can still be used as a template by governments today. He pressed on the importance of the availability of water for domestic and irrigation purposes for farmers. He demanded that the British Government make committed budgetary allocations to fulfill this purpose. At the time, the British had taken huge loans from European parties to build canals and the cost of these canals was being recovered by charging पाणीपट्टी (water tax) in high proportions from the farmers.

An act that is popularly remembered even today is of him opening up his household water tank to members of depressed classes. This happened in 1868, but it would be an explosive act even today, which tells us so much about the lack of progression in our society and our laws. The idea of making water a resource available to everyone is socialist at heart. Our constitution also upholds this idea.

Jyotiba stressed on the importance of dismantling the caste system and was against the evils that Brahminism perpetrated on the lower castes. Today, the same evils manifest in other insidious forms – the most common themes include the non provision of water to people based on their economic background, caste, community and status as adivasis.

Indian courts have accepted the Public Trust Doctrine as a part of the common law which places the responsibility of protecting and distributing natural resources like water, forests, air amongst the general public and does not permit their use for private ownership or commercial purposes. In 2009, when the Pani Haq Samiti went by the name Mumbai Paani, an iconic struggle against water privatisation was brought to a victorious close. (Read more – https://bit.ly/2OsSVse)

We seem to be moving more towards a reality where the forces for privatising piped water are becoming more and more powerful. We must remember the values of our Constitution and draw power from the ideology of Jyotiba Phule. The most effective way to do this is by coming together to resist and fight back.

Photo by Vishal Jadhav

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