What can a ‘sincere’ Dalit do?

Pardeep Attri

My final words of advice to you are Educate, Agitate and Organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is a battle for freedom. It is a battle for the reclamation of the human personality - Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.

editor_ambedkar

On my last article, "What can a 'sincere' upper caste person do?", I received many emails, most of them labelling me as casteist, asking me what a Dalit should do? I have heard these type of questions many a times from my friends, confused with what they should do, how they can contribute, where they should contribute and I suppose these and many questions come to the minds of Dalits who really want to contribute to the community. Though, I am not an expert or maybe not as experienced as many are, but I would try to reply with all my capacity – on things I feel should change immediately. But before that let me make one thing clear: that Dalits usually don't have many options so many of the things that I would be talking about in this article may sound impractical to many Dalits, but still I believe we must do our best. Also, here in this article, I am not talking about our illiterate brothers and sisters but about the highly educated ones, who are pretending to be asleep.

Let me start with Dalit women. When I was researching for my article 'India and Prostitution – My thoughts and experiences' – most of the women working as sex-slaves are from lower castes. Not that I didn't know all these facts but after meeting many people I almost went into depression. On one occasion, I even met the sole survivor of 'Khairlanji killings' and I'll never be able to forget the Khairlanji massacre. In states like Madhya Pradesh almost 100% women working as sex slaves are from the lower castes. Dalit woman is most the disrespected, unprotected, and neglected person in India. We must learn to respect and protect our women. We must believe that if upper caste men demand respect or do 'whatever' to protect their women then we must also do 'everything' to respect and protect our women.

Stop fighting in the name of Dr. Ambedkar- Dalits, in the name of Ambedkar, are fighting to prove that they are the real 'Karva Pullers' of Dr. Ambedkar, but everyone knows that the reality lies somewhere else. Remember what Dr Ambedkar said:

"With great difficulty, I have brought this caravan where it is seen today. Let the caravan march on and further on despite the hurdles, pitfalls and difficulties that may come in its way. If my people, my lieutenants are not able to take the caravan ahead, they should leave it where it is seen today, but in no circumstances they should allow the caravan to go back."

Dalits are divided into countless organisations, societies and parties etc but till now we have not been able to achieve anything remarkable. I agree, we need as many organisations as we can have and neither am I denying the impact these organisations might have been able to make in their own spheres but we must agree we really need one major organisation which will work for Dalits at all India level. When in need we must support every organisation and must forget our differences or petty benefits.

Start a national level newspaper/magazine – as I said above, there are many organisations, societies and parties working for Dalits, the same is true with magazines. Since childhood, I have been reading many magazines published by various Dalit organisations/publishers, and since childhood I have wondered why there can't be a single national level newspaper or magazine? There are about a hundred small Dalit magazines published every month. We always make a noise when Dr. Ambedkar is ranked below Gandhi by some manuwadi newspaper or magazine, but why don't we think bigger and unite all these Dalit magazine publishers and bring out one single magazine? We can do many more things apart from releasing our own ranking.

I am not saying that these existing magazine publishers should stop publishing but I want them to start working on a national level magazine or newspaper along with the existing ones. I believe it would be easy if we can unite at least one magazine publisher from each state and ask them to contribute one article for the national level magazine. In this way, we can easily bring out one national level magazine and challenge the hegemony of manuwadi media. One reason I see behind the defeat of BSP in the last assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh is because no media was established by Behan Mayawati in 5 years; and on the other hand, the corrupt SAD-BJP government of Punjab won the elections because SAD has a stronghold in the media – it started two new channels in Punjab and holds major shares in Punjabi newspapers. So, what are we thinking about or waiting for? Don't tell me we don't have resources or money, if we can operate separately, we surely can operate united.

The book 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', published in 1852 and authored by Harriet Beecher, was the second bestselling book of the 19th century, next only to the Bible. This anti-slavery novel had actually intensified the sectional conflict that finally led to the American civil war and ultimately resulted in the abolition of slavery under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln. The book's impact was so great that it is said that when Abraham Lincoln met author Stowe at the start of the Civil war, he commented, "So this is the little lady who made this big war." Believe it or not, this is the power of the 'pen'. Start writing, write your mind. Start writing whatever comes to your mind and one day you will surely be able to make a difference. Create blogs, prepare e-mail lists, websites, SMS, create videos, do each and everything that you can to raise the Dalit voice. Internet gives us many opportunities to promote Buddhist values, understanding and insights on the global scale. Use Internet wisely. Round Table India is a great initiative, one step towards making people aware and everyone must support the Round Table India team.

You have been stripped off your true history, your culture, and everything. So, what are you afraid of? Dalits weren't Hindus or Dalits didn't use to go to temples. Our festivals, our Gods, our eating habits, our lifestyle and each and everything were different. Who stripped you of all these? Do you have to visit temples to get all these back? I seriously doubt that. How many of us seriously follow the 22 vows administered by Dr. Ambedkar? I feel ashamed when I see many of my Buddhist friends from Maharashtra visiting the Shirdi Sai temple. Whenever I visit my friends' homes, no doubt I always see Dr. Ambedkar's pictures there but along with that I always find some idol or picture of one of the 33 crore fake Gods. And I could never understand why they are not able to come out of slavery or why they could never change their mindset even after 55 years of conversion. Stop visiting temples-- why don't Dalits understand that money donated by you at temples is used against you?And follow the 22 vows administered by Dr. Ambedkar

I can keep on writing on this topic (such as: if you can, teach someone, inspire someone, start a school, start library, start a scholarship for Dalit students, adopt Dalit students etc) but I don't want to make this article long. So, I will end it with a few more final words.

Don't tell me that all this is impossible to be done. When you are ready to die at the  warfront fighting with unknown persons, what happens to you when you have to fight with the known enemy? What happens to Dalits when their own mothers and sisters are stripped naked in the streets and in broad daylight? Doesn't your blood boil with anger? Unite. Take time out of your busy lives, encourage others in their strife, encourage Dalit students for higher studies & create such a system which will give legal and financial aid to Dalits. More importantly, take time to listen to what they have to say, share positive thoughts, give them confidence, and bring the best out of you. You surely can make a difference. If you can't do any of the above, don't do anything, just read what Dr. Ambedkar said, read the rich history of Dalit ideals. Selfless devotion, dedication with enthusiasm and an assertive mass movement will lay the foundation of the Dalit movement.

~~~

Pardeep Attri blogs here.

Image courtesy: ambedkar.org 

Other Related Articles

Ram Nath Kovind is not a Dalit, Dalit is a Spring of Political Consciousness
Tuesday, 20 June 2017
  Saidalavi P.C. The propaganda minister in Nazi Germany, Joseph Goebbels was so sharp in his thinking that we have come to quote his famous aphorism regarding the plausibility of a lie being... Read More...
'The Manu Smriti mafia still haunts us': A speech by a Pakistani Dalit Rights Leader
Thursday, 15 June 2017
  Surendar Valasai Probably the first comprehensive political statement for Dalit rights in Pakistan framed in the vocabulary of Dalitism was given in 2007 by Surendar Valasai, who is now the... Read More...
Babasaheb’s Statue Vandalized: Bengal’s Realm of Caste maliciousness
Wednesday, 14 June 2017
   Pinak Banik On the midnight of 29th May, a marble bust of Babasaheb Ambedkar was found disfigured. This statue was installed 17 years ago inside the Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Sishu Uddyan... Read More...
Oppose the scrapping of financial aid to SC, ST students in TISS
Wednesday, 14 June 2017
    Statement Against the arbitrary note by Registrar (TISS) deciding to discontinue DH and Hostel to eligible GoI-PMS SC/ST students "Lack of education leads to lack of wisdom, which leads... Read More...
An Appeal by Adivasi Dalit Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh
Tuesday, 13 June 2017
  Adivasi Dalit Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Appeal by Adivasi Dalit Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Raigarh13 June 2017 Dear friends in Media and Civil Society, Displacement without consent is a crime!... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

The Death of a Historian in Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
Sunday, 19 March 2017
  Jitendra Suna Speech made at the protest by BAPSA on 16th March, 2017 against the Institutional Murder of Muthukrishnan (Rajini Krish) I am Jitendra Suna, and I am from a remote village named... Read More...
I Will Not Exit Your House Without Letting You Know That I am a Dalit
Thursday, 02 March 2017
  Riya Singh Yes, I am assertive. Assertive of my caste identity. It is not a 'fashion statement' trust me, it takes a lot of courage and training of your own self to be this assertive. You... Read More...
On the Anxieties surrounding Dalit Muslim Unity
Friday, 17 February 2017
  Ambedkar Reading Group Delhi University  Recently we saw the coming together of Dalits and Muslims at the ground level, against a common enemy - the Hindu, Brahminical State and Culture -... Read More...
Interview with Prof Vivek Kumar on the Bahujan Movement
Monday, 13 March 2017
  Round Table India In this episode of the Ambedkar Age series, Round Table India talks to Prof Vivek Kumar, Professor, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences,... Read More...
Brahmin Feminism sans Brahmin Patriarch
Monday, 06 February 2017
  Kanika S It has almost become common sense that feminism has been shaped exclusively by a class of women that came from Brahmin-Savarna castes in India, to the extent that even trashy... Read More...

Recent Articles in Hindi

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

  संजय जोठे  इस देश में भेदभाव और शोषण से भरी परम्पराओं का विरोध करने वाले अनेक विचारक और क्रांतिकारी हुए हैं जिनके बारे में हमें बार-बार पढ़ना और समझना चाहिए. दुर्भाग्य से इस देश के शोषक वर्गों के षड्यंत्र के कारण इन क्रांतिकारियों का जीवन परिचय और समग्र कर्तृत्व छुपाकर रखा जाता है. हमारी अनेकों पीढियां इसी षड्यंत्र में जीती आयीं हैं. किसी देश के उद्भट विचारकों और क्रान्तिकारियों को इस...

Read more

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

(कृष्ण की लोक लुभावन छवि का पुनर्पाठ!)मानुषी आखिर ये मिथकीय कहानियां किस तरह की परवरिश और शिक्षा देती हैं, जहां पुरुषों को सारे अधिकार हैं, चाहे वह स्त्री को अपमानित करे या दंडित, उसे स्त्री पलट कर कुछ नहीं कहती। फिर आज हम रोना रोते हैं कि हमारे बच्चे इतने हिंसक और कुंठित क्यों हो रहे हैं। सारा दोष हम इंटरनेट और टेलीविजन को देकर मुक्त होना चाहते हैं। जबकि स्त्री...

Read more

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

संजय जोठे धर्म जो काम शास्त्र लिखकर करता है वही काम राष्ट्र अब फ़िल्में और विडिओ गेम्स बनाकर बनाकर करते हैं. इसी के साथ सुविधाभोगी पीढ़ी को मौत से बचाने के लिए टेक्नालाजी पर भयानक खर्च भी करना पड़ता है ताकि दूर बैठकर ही देशों का सफाया किया जा सके, और यही असल में उस तथाकथित “स्पेस रिसर्च” और “अक्षय ऊर्जा की खोज” की मूल प्रेरणा है, यूं तो सबको...

Read more