Fire Of Ambedkar Haunts tem, Not the Narratives of Discrimination
0 comments | by W Brawat
Aamir Khan has done which none could have done so far in the mainstream communication world. That untouchability and not caste system came in for a discussion in the discourse needs to be appreciated, though the efforts were half-hearted to say the least. The one part of the celebrity culture is that we get the visibility with them and you can communicate to a vast audience, which may be sympathetic to Aamir Khan when he wipes his tears but not necessarily to the people who narrated their stories.
With one Justice Dharmadhikari who proudly proclaimed his brahminical antecedent and Shankaracharya connection, Aamir’s show reflected the direction of it. Of course, we all know at the end of the day, it is funded by Ambanis who are its philanthropic partners, and one is sure that Ambanis and many like them will never be interested to abolish the caste system even when they can look down upon untouchability.The show could be termed as a liberal attempt to discuss untouchability and caste system within the Gandhian frame work, where Hinduism remains untouched and caste system is projected not to be a part of it, at least in the discourse. But is it possible that we discuss caste system, untouchability and discrimination without touching the dehumanizing brahminical values?
The issue of Indian apartheid remains unexplored if we start it from freedom movement and link the history of the fight against the rights of Dalits from Gandhi struggle in South Africa; that will be a complete negation of the history of social justice in India. It is unambiguously clear that Gandhi’s struggle in South Arica was not at all against caste system. In fact, Dalits consider Gandhi as the biggest block in their fundamental right when he took illogical stand against Ambedkar on the separate electorate issues. But it is not that people were unhappy with Gandhi on the separate electorate issues only.
There were fundamental differences between Ambedkar and Gandhi, and that needs to be explored and exposed. It will show where Ambedkar stood and what Gandhi really stands for and can an India be built on his conservative principles of caste hierarchy which he so proudly supported. The fact is that Gandhi was not ready to condemn Shastras, as according to him they were God’s word and said that challenging them would amount to blasphemy. Ambedkar had suggested that if there were certain texts in our Shastras that violated basic principle of human dignity and equality, those should be deleted. Gandhi suggested that a person who did not believe inShastras could not be a Hindu and it would be better that he converted to some other religion.
The differences between them did not end with the Shastra debate. For Ambedkar, caste could not be eliminated unless we respected individual and attacked the root of the very edifice which promoted it. He said that Hinduism was nothing but a castle of caste, hence when everyone demanded abolition of caste system, it would clearly mean abolition of Hinduism. Was anyone ready for that? Gandhi’s great Indian villages never attracted Ambedkar, who found them den of casteism, corruption and feudalism.
The first war against caste system was started by Buddha and since then there has been a revolutionary history of the Dalit movement in India. Phule, Periyar, Ayyankali, Srinarayanguru, Sahuji Maharaj, Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Kanshiram and many more came on the Indian horizon and kept the flag of Dalit dignity flying.
The entire battle against caste system was not just to ask for a few charities of the upper castes but to work for equal participation in political structure; and that history cannot be ignored. The fact is that Aamir has brought the issue in very similarity with the same upper caste hypocrisy of “they too are your brothers” and “you should love them too”. The issue of manual scavenging was relegated to a few small clips from India untouched. The entire framework of the program was relegated to issues but not the reason behind them; verily, the struggle for dignity and its historic evidences before us mandate that the biggest revolution in India be called ‘Ambedkar revolution’. It is visible in the form of continuous Dalit assertion against discrimination, injustice and atrocities on them.
Aamir Khan lives in Mumbai and he should not forget how the Dalits gather at Chaitya bhumi on December 6th and April 14th. He can see the sheer number of people thronging on their own from different parts of the country to pay their tribute to the man who is their sole liberator and emancipator. If Aamir wants to see the change in India society, he must have tried to take footage from Nagpur that every year millions of people gather to pay their homage to Baba Saheb Ambedkar on Dhammachakra Pravartan Diwas, the day he embraced Buddhism with nearly half a million of his followers.
How can it happen that you discuss the entire issue of caste discrimination and untouchability and Dr Ambedkar’s name does not come for mention even for a single minute? Come on Aamir, leave your biases one side and read the history of Dalit movement in India. There is no need to study it from a parochial view point, as if you are doing a great favor to the community.
We know well that after a few days, the country will come back to normalcy. The Dalits are reminded of their caste as mentioned by Stalin in the show, every time when they assert for their place in dignified positions. Why a particular community be engaged in the work of manual scavenging? Why there are no messages by the Ministry of social justice or so-called charitable organizations with huge funds on the national televisions. Why is this issue not national and does not get that kind of importance which it should have got? The amount of time we give to bring one child from the pit is more than 100 times the issue of caste system or untouchability is discussed on the national media. None carried a campaign against this.
There is no anger among our youth for equality for all; they are the very people people, consider affirmative action (reservation) for Dalits in government services as violation of their human rights. Shamefully, that they have not yet understood international laws for preferential treatment to communities. It is essential to democratize our mindset to understand that each human being is equal and should get an opportunity. Rather than feeling great for diverse background people coming to our academic and other elite institutions, attempts have been made to isolate the Dalits everywhere and encourage ghettoes for political purposes.
The casteist minds of our youngsters are revealed when they fight till their death against the rights given to the Dalits by the constitution of India. How can we discuss these issues if we are unable to discuss the issue threadbare? Won’t the society grow and hatred reduces if we admit our mistakes or may be the mistakes committed by our forefathers. But when we are not ready to accept that there is a social disorder existing in our society, that the root cause is our feudal cultural values and that our religious morality justifies discrimination based on our birth, little can change.
When Dharmadhikari is presented as a ‘great’ Brahmin by Aamir Khan at the show, then it clearly reflected that he was doing it with great reluctance as there was no need for us to listen to his ‘brahminical’ arrogance for so long. There was nothing that he could offer to the audience. There are hundreds of people who could have been invited and spoken about the issue even from the born upper castes working with Dalits. The sad part of the episode was the attempt to hide the root of untouchability and caste system. We all want manual scavenging to end and definitely stand with brother Bezwada Wilson and appreciate his call that Dalits do not need your ‘pity’ but need your anger against this system which has allowed the continuation of this.
It is not that we just have negativity everywhere. There are thousands of success stories where people fought against casteism. Riding on horse for marriage is a copy of brahminical system and similar to fighting for temple entry which perhaps no Ambedkarite would appreciate. As an individual the right to do things is justified but in a broader framework of cultural alternative, there is a need to get out of that mindset and reject that culture of subjugating pomp and show outrightly.
Delhi University and many of its elite colleges including Minority institutions have betrayed the cause of Dalits and OBC students when they have clandestinely de-reserved many of the seats for the general category students. At the highest learning institutions of the country, the Dalit students have face discrimination and it is not that they have not brought these glaring mistakes and omissions to the notice of authorities but when the institutions are based on the ideals of ‘Dronacharyas’ then there is bound to be racial discrimination every where.
Aamir should start reading history of social justice and religious bigotry in India so that next time when he produces an episode, he is equipped with greater information about the subject. However, he must be thanked for at least attempting to address the issue (even though half heartedly); yet the fact is it did not pierce the heart of nation. It was an attempt to clean your soul from the guilty feeling. It will not resolve the crisis, which lies in caste system and its deliberated legitimacy through brahminical scriptures.
Unless a healthy debate is started on the national television, radios and our newspapers, India would continue to persecute the victims of caste hatred and divine violence where Khap Panchayats would always dominate over individuals – reminding us of our caste identities and completely rejecting our constitutional rights. Is India ready to become a modern nation of 21stcentury or does she still want to live in the primitive tyrannical Brahminical structure where everyone is ghettoized in his own suffocating gas chamber called as caste? Choice is ours.