Dalit parties have worked to strengthen caste system

Insight's  National Core Group Meeting

The Roundtable team express their deep condolences over the passing away of Bhagwan Das, this morning in New Delhi. His tall legacy as an Ambedkarite and Buddhist will continue to guide our efforts in our struggle against caste.

----------- 

Bhagwan Das, a research associate of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, is best known as compiler and editor of the four volumes of Thus Spoke Ambedkar. He spoke to Prasanna Raghav about his meetings with Ambedkar and the trajectory of Dalit politics in India: 


When did you first meet Ambedkar?

My father, who was politically and socially aware through his readings, was a great admirer of Dr Ambedkar, referring to him as Ummeedkar, the one who brings hope. I used to read every newspaper article about Babasaheb with great interest. When i first went to meet him in Simla in 1943 with a request for a job, i had to wait for seven hours. Impressed with me, he promised me a job and i got my appointment letter in 15 days. 
 

Mahatma Gandhi was also against discrimination of Dalits. How were the two leaders different? 

Gandhi was no friend of untouchables. Though Gandhi sensitised the people of India towards the evils of untouchability, it was only due to Gandhi's fast-unto-death that the right of untouchables to choose their own representatives was snatched away from them in elections. He included and excluded us at the same time. 

What changes have you witnessed in Dalit politics since independence? 

It has deteriorated. In the pre-independence days, Dalit leaders used to be well educated and informed about issues regarding their community and the society as a whole. The movement was vibrant. Unlike today it wasn't only lip service and vote-bank politics. They encouraged untouchables to take up education. For example, Babasaheb started three colleges across Maharashtra and a school in Mumbai. Ambedkar didn't only talk about fight against exploitation but also against the caste system. But today, everybody uses Babasaheb's name only for political gains. No present-day politician can ever come close to following what the great Dalit leader preached. They don't even know about his teachings and principles. No Dalit leader can ever acquire a pan-Indian identity like Ambedkar. And that's why Dalits continue to wallow in poverty and illiteracy. 

Do you think that proliferation of Dalit parties and leaders has changed the course of Indian politics? 

It has certainly, but only for the worse. Instead of abolishing discrimination, Dalit parties have worked to strengthen the caste system, by further driving a wedge between scheduled castes and other groups. Their method of assertion is wrong. Only a few people in the corridors of power have benefited from the ascendancy of some Dalit leaders. For example, a chamar leader will only work for his community since Dalits as a whole are not united. 

Has reservation in jobs, education and legislature helped to improve the lot of Dalits? 

Quota has helped but it has not been implemented properly. Prejudice against us is very strong and officers from our community are still humiliated at the workplace.


Courtesy: TOI, April/15/09

Other Related Articles

Some of us will have to fight all our lives: Anoop Kumar
Thursday, 20 July 2017
  Anoop Kumar (This is the transcipt of his speech at the celebrations of the 126th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Babasaheb Amebdkar in Ras Al Khaimah organised by Ambedkar International... Read More...
Why Ram Nath Kovind, and not L K Advani?
Sunday, 16 July 2017
    Doleswar Bhoi Recently, the Indian National Congress and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) nominated Meira Kumar and Ram Nath Kovind as presidential candidate of India respectively. Both... Read More...
Is GST as important as Human Rights?
Saturday, 01 July 2017
  Mangesh Dahiwale GST has been in operation in France since 1950s. USA does not have the GST regime. Canada have the GST, but accommodated with the regional political system. Malaysia launched... Read More...
The Myth of Tolerant India
Tuesday, 27 June 2017
  Raju Chalwadi The Idea of a Tolerant India is socially constructed by the upper castes and the ruling elites. History demonstrates that those who upheld such idea were most intolerant in their... Read More...
The ‘Dalit’ President and the question of representation
Sunday, 25 June 2017
  Kadhiravan The year was 2009, I was in my final year – under graduation and there happened a week-long orientation towards facing campus placements. In one of the group sessions, a debate on... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

The Battle of Bhima Koregaon: An Unending Journey
Wednesday, 01 February 2017
  Somnath Waghamare I am Somnath Waghamare, a Graduate in Sociology and Post Graduate in Media studies from Sangli, Maharashtra, India. The past few years I have been working... Read More...
Dalit Pastor Attacked Brutally by Hindutva Goons
Tuesday, 14 February 2017
  P Victor Vijay Kumar Pastor Swamy is a low income Dalit Christian based out of Hyderabad. His wife works as a part time teacher in a private school and he is a full-time member of Gideon... Read More...
Nilesh Khandale's short film Ambuj - Drop the pride in your caste
Saturday, 29 April 2017
Gaurav Somwanshi Nilesh Khandale’s debut short movie, ‘Ambuj’ seeks to shed light on some of the most pervasive but less talked about elements of the Indian caste society. Working as an Event... Read More...
On Making a Documentary Film about Bhima Koregaon
Tuesday, 11 April 2017
  Somnath Waghamare Dear friends, Jai Bhim. Finally, my documentary film on Bhima Koregaon has been completed with your kind support. In the last six months of my filmmaking journey, I have had... Read More...
Civic Education for the Oppressed and the Oppressors: How different it should be
Saturday, 01 April 2017
  S Karthikeyan A young 27 years old Muthukrishnan Jeevanantham aka Rajini Krish who was pursuing Ph.D. in Jawarharlal Nehru University (JNU) allegedly committed suicide on Monday, March 14,... Read More...