The Dalit Factor – Me and My Dalit Friend
As a follower of Sanatan Dharma I cannot accept caste system as NO Vedic Scriptures support it. But today’s reality: India thrives upon caste. Everybody says caste system is evil, but ALL political leaders directly or indirectly practices or promotes it.
Dalits face a social stigma developed through centuries old suppression and exploitation. They were constantly subjected to egregious violence and dehumanizing labour (such as manual scavenging).
My friend Ashok was from a poor Dalit family. His parents were daily-wages contract labourers in paddy farms. His life situation was terrible. The living itself was so miserable for him. The entire family used to go sleep with empty stomach most of the days… They faced extreme starvation, even beyond our imagination. Sometimes, they fill their stomach drinking dirty pond water and go to sleep. Mostly, they consume only boiled roots or tapioca. He used to say his youngest sister (2 year old) keep on crying throughout the night out of hunger. However, he needs not pay college fees and he gets a small stipend.
The society had stamped him with an identity – Dalit. The public won’t allow him to grow beyond this caste identity. Some rude boys from the so-called upper caste behaved such a way that Ashok should be felt ashamed of his caste. Most of the students neglected him. He didn’t have much social exposure. He had inferiority complex and conflicts in his mind. He would feel hurt very easily.
His situation made me feel very sad. We were good friends. He would tell me about his family and village.
Incidentally, let me tell you about our other two college mates. Sunil (not original name, he is a top politician now, hence do not want to tarnish his image) used to come by car (remember – during those times, only one or two people in a Taluk would own a car). His father was a spirit baron. But Sunil was not paying fees. He was getting ‘poor-aid fund’, a subsidy from the government because of his caste tag – OBC (other backward community) category. Another boy, Martin Joseph, again OBC, was also getting all these benefits. Martin’s father owned seafood Export Company. Incidentally his car driver was a poor Brahmin, whose son couldn’t go to college for lack of funds!
Clearly, the reservation (quota) based on caste/religion was not distributed evenly or properly then (30 years ago). I don’t know current situation, but given the political map of India, it should have moved from bad to worse. The quota was confined to the upper class or creamy layer among every reserved caste and religion. Hence, the benefits really didn’t reach the much needy Dalits, tribal and Scheduled Tribes.
Some of the upper caste boys hated Ashok. I used to tell them: “You can hate government’s reservation policies, which were implemented in a wrong way. Do not hate those poor guys who avail the benefit…”
Ashok was very much interested in politics as a path to uplift his community and help people in his caste. But I always maintained that any organized movement will end up in corruption and exploitation. “Indian political parties would define your existence ONLY in terms of caste and NOT as a human being. They utilize caste system for gaining votes in the election and would never uplift any.” I told him.
“The student wing of Marxist Party had asked me to join them,” one day he said, “They talk about equality…”
“I doubt it.” Even today I am doubtful. For instance, among the 15 Politburo members of CPM, there is not even a single Dalit. The party that was formed in 1925 didn’t promote a single Dalit to Politburo. How can a Dalit expect justice from them?
Those days Indira Congress [or Congress (I), offshoot of Indian National Congress] (or today’s Sonia Congress) was talking big on socialism. “Its student wing invited me to join,” he said.
I told him: “The party’s relation with “Gandhism” is confined to love for “Gandhi-Some” (The ‘Something’ that comes with Gandhi’s head – currency notes!). This breakout Congress outfit (founded in 1978) had only one backward non-white community leader – Seetaram Kesari – who had been insulted and bowed out.”
“What about RSS?” he asked, “Can I join ABVP, the student wing of Jana Sangh (today’s BJP)?”
“RSS claims they promote only patriotism. Theoretically, its base is Hindutva (Hindus as a whole), so it is against caste-system. Hence it cannot promote any individual caste or support you on caste basis. The moment any Sangh parivar organization supports a specific caste, the entire party will collapse.” I said.
The Janata Parties of Bihar, Samajvadi Parties of UP, Dravidian Parties of Tamil Nadu and all other offshoots of Congress also do not have much Dalits among them. Most of them are caste based political parties. They run the parties as proprietary (family run) mafia companies which do not have any ethical base to talk about Dalits.
And, statistically speaking, Dalits were/are more tortured in North India where Socialist parties are in power!
The contract workers in the business of religious conversion were pestering him. He said: “My relatives changed the religion for new identity. But they face discrimination and cruel exploitation much more than in Hinduism. They would only consider us as untouchables Dalits only and play dirty politics, that’s all.”
Once Ashok said: “The ‘progressive leftist secular movement’ plans to burn Hindu Scriptures such as Manusmriti and Bhagvad Gita in public. They asked me to join that revolution.”
“Will that solve the caste problem in India? Nobody has ever read or understands those scriptures. A pseudo-intellect, who is in the payroll of anti-Indians, called for burning books. So you are going to burn your ancestral wisdom!” I told him. He didn’t seem quite convinced.
I told him: “Ashok, you have got an opportunity to study in college, many in your community do not even go to school. I know all odds are against you. But the India government is providing you quota, reservation and other subsidies. Make the best use of it. Please focus on your studies and try to get a job. Then you can help your family, friends and relatives – that’s how you need to uplift your community. Any violent path will end up in chaos. You have a responsibility to the country that invests in you a lot.”
An anti-national movement framed a cunning, violent, and demonic phrase: “Muslims and Other Backward Castes”. Their idea was to cheat innocent Muslims and backward castes among Hindus so as to create a huge division in Indian soil. The phrase was a catch line to inject hatred among Indians. The intention was not uplifting backward communities or Muslims in India, but to exploit them. If you are a humanist, the phrase would have been “Backward people among ALL”. Sadly, they are still there in many names and many forms.
The makers of that phrase needed martyrs. They want Dalits like Rohit Vemula. We have seen hypocrisy of all political parties when they were queuing like flesh-eating ants recently in Hyderabad when a Dalit student committed suicide and ignoring Dalit killing in Pune. Here also, nobody checks the facts – how many Dalits are in Ambedkar Students Association (ASA)? Why do they use ‘Ambedkar’ legacy? Why do ASA members intimidate Dalits who follow other political ideologies?
Check all organizations that work in the disguise of Dalit supporters. Who funds it? There are lots of organizations in the guise of leftist ideologies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and social services claim to support Dalits. Ask yourself – why do they hail terrorists and separatists? Are they Dalits? Clearly, their intention is using Dalits as front cover for their anti-national activities. Students fall in their trap ruin theirs and others life.
Long ago, I told Ashok NOT to fall for such dirty gimmicks. Even after 70 years of Independence, the situations of Dalits (3-4 generations now) didn’t get better. Who is to blame? How come those ruled India for the last 1000+ years – invaders, British and the Congress (after 1947) offshoot parties – ARE NOT responsible for the status of Dalits?
All of them have found an easy scapegoat to blame. They found the weakest, un-organized and non-violent section. Brahmins! They created a false story of Dalit oppression by Brahmins. They said Dalits are oppressed by Brahmins, giving clean certificate to all others. Nowhere in the history were Brahmins oppressors (See proof: http://udaypai.in/?p=1097). But they blame everything on Brahmins and Brahminism. Anything that is not favourable to them, they label ‘Brahminical’. All problems that India faces because of Brahmins! They bash poor Brahmins. And all brain-washed morons, anti-Indians and animated humanoids still believe that Dalit oppression was due to Brahmanism. They tricked poor Dalits against Brahmin caste and vice versa.
It’s not that they did it out of ignorance. They know the theory of Brahmins oppressing others is 100% false. But it was an easy way-out for political gains. If Brahmins were violent or vote bank, it wouldn’t have happen, they would have turned to others!
Just like 99.99% of Brahmin community members in India, I also have born in a poor family. Ashok had caste advantage. For me, caste was a dis-advantage for studies and job.
But I didn’t blame others. I didn’t develop hatred to other castes. I didn’t burn Vedic literature.
I didn’t challenge constitution of India. I didn’t hail terrorists. I didn’t worship fundamentalists as heroes. I didn’t accuse others of discrimination.
I didn’t join anti-nationals. I haven’t turn into leftist to destroy Indian culture. Instead, I believed, Dharmo rakshati rakshitaha (Dharma protects those who protect it).
Ashok did well in his studies. He had easily got a Centre government job based on reservation quota and left. That was the end of struggles in his life. I lost touch with him.
But, for me, even after studies, the life was all about struggles, miseries and hardships. But that was nothing, considering what my ancestors had been facing for last 600 years. Just because of a 100% false story of Brahmin’s oppression in the past, all doors were shut for me. Nobody had answered to my simple question: “Even if, hypothetically, Brahmin oppression theory was true, how can you brutally punish children for a crime committed by a great great grandfather?” I had faced many distress situations, which would have normally prompted a person to commit suicide. Instead, fighting against all odds, I decided to work hard with determination and devotion.
Dharma came to my rescue and I survived. NOW, I work only for few hours for my livelihood and support my family. The remaining time I could spend to create awareness about our Dharma and Indian cultural heritage. If we are not taking care of our community, society, mother land and its people, who else will? My parents had taught me to pray for the well-being of all.
I met Ashok 20 years ago quite accidently in Mumbai Airport. He is a high ranking central government official then. He said: “Udaya, I am grateful that you supported me during my college time otherwise I would have committed suicide. I left my village long ago and migrated to Gujarat. Hence I created a new identity for me. The backlog of my caste and other miseries won’t haunt me there. I am living happily with my family (wife, three children)”
I felt pity for him. He could have stayed back in his village. He could have helped few more Dalits directing them to avail benefits of reservation, so that they could also come up. Instead, he had chosen an escapist route. He separated himself from his community. He is enjoying the life of elite, thanks to the opportunities he got in the name of his caste. He is now the new upper caste. His children will get reservation, but my children won’t.
The poor Dalits who are wandering in forests and villages for one time food will still be exploited by politicians and wily contractors of the religious conversion business. Poor Dalit woman will be assaulted, raped and exploited in his village. The organized uncouth politicians will continue exploiting them. The forces to destabilize India will use them. The politicians will feed them with wrong inputs to maintain anti-Brahminism.
Every Indian should know – Dalits are also part of the ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (world is one family) – your own blood. If your siblings are struggling and staying backward, it is your duty to protect and support them.
Tail piece: “Na Raajyam na Raajasit Na Dandayo na cha DaandikaHa; Dharmeniva PrajasSarvaa Rakshanti Sma Parasparam”
Neither kingdom nor any king! Neither criminal nor any judge to give the penalty to the criminal! All the people protect each other by the virtue of Dharma. A ‘samaj’ in which each and every individual lives completely up to his/her responsibility.
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