Hatred in the belly

 

Dalit Camera: Through Un-Touchable Eyes

Joopaka Subhadra, poet, writer, and women's rights activist, was one of the key speakers at the 'Democratic Debate on Appropriation of Ambedkar's Writings' held on April 10, 2014, in Hyderabad. The following text features her intervention at the debate.

180 pages. When I read that, what I felt was, she had been hoarding up a heap of all kinds of news stories. Is there such a need? She talks about Malala, in the very beginning, and so on. Instead of talking about matters related to annihilation of caste, her efforts actually increase the intensity of pain caused by caste. Our pain. Only if you are an untouchable will you understand that pain.

'Don't come close to me, stay away'. When they pour drinking water for you from a distance saying, stay away! That pain is of many kinds. In the villages, it is direct, naked, in cities, it is polished, clothed. In the villages, you've 'chaakali' (dhobi) doctors and 'mangali' (barber) teachers. Whether they are doctors or teachers, whatever they might be, for them there is only caste.

This pain.... She is not a Christian, she's a Brahmin. Her father is a Brahmin, mother is a Syrian Christian. What does she say, 'why should I not write?' Please write, but write by trying to understand these pains, engage with these pains. But..don't write to trivialise and humiliate our pains.

When we look at this book, as soon as I saw the image on the cover I was very surprised. When the excerpts appeared in Andhra Jyothy. I have never seen Ambedkar's image like this. You'll understand what kind of hatred they nurse in their bellies when you look at this picture. You will understand clearly when you look at this picture!

Amebdkar's pictures evoke in us the image of a very sophisticated, well-groomed person, wearing neat spectacles and smart suits. That is the kind of impressive images of Ambedkar we are used to seeing. From where did they find this image for the book cover? Nobody has seen this image; don't remember seeing such an image ever, from my childhood till now. I haven't ever seen it. Where does this photograph come from?

Where did they find this photo, a photo that we could not find, how did they find it? Who gave it to them? There are so many posters, so many books, and so many photos in Maharashtra, all across the entire country. We see only his inspiring photos, smart suits, beautiful books. When he is perceived in this manner, how did they create this drawing, from which photo did they get this? Even his facial expression evokes helplessness.

Does Ambedkar look pathetic? He exudes intelligence. Ambedkar's face exudes enormous dignity, intelligence, self-confidence and inner strength. His face gives all those impressions. In such a scenario, how did they find this one, where did they scour and choose this one? How much hatred they must have in their bellies to pick this one and print? This picture itself is enough evidence of that! When I saw it in Andhra Jyothy itself I wondered, from where did they get this photo? It was right then that I understood (about the hatred).

Further she asks, why should we not write? Amma write, Ayya write. Tell the whole world about the caste system in this country. Write about caste discrimination, tell the whole world, but, engage with the pain, empathize with it and then talk about it. Talk about the intensity of the pain. Instead, the pain is trivialized, humilated and conveyed sarcastically. This is not the way it has to be conveyed, this is not the way the world should know about our pain. This is for us to articulate.

If the publisher had asked one of us, we would have written. Why has she been asked to write about annihilation of caste? It does not matter how big an intellectual she is, as Ilaiah said, it is not easy to grasp caste. And how does one talk about 'untouchability'? Only when one is an untouchable can one talk about it.

She says, 'didn't Ambedkar write on the Indian nation, as the chairman, didn't he draft the Constitution that applies to every citizen? Like that, I am also writing.' Please look at this, can anyone talk like this? She should understand the pain. What if we spoke in the same way?

Further, she seems to say, I wrote about bomb blasts, wrote about dams, about globalization, am I a bomb technician? Am I a politician? I am not, but I still wrote (on those topics) and no one questioned me then. Why am I being questioned for this? Did we say anything about Ambedkar, he worked on the Constitution, on religions, on Hinduism, on Muslims, on Marxism; he wrote about the caste system in the whole country, about all castes, did we question him? Did we say, you're not one of us and therefore you can't write? Didn't we accept Ambedkar then?

book cover for rt

Is your situation and ours the same? Did we ever walk on the same path? Did we eat in one home? Is your food and mine the same? Are your clothes and mine the same? She says Dalits didn't wear clothes. Manu himself said, Dalits should not wear clothes...They should not wear gold, should use only iron ornaments. Who are you to tell us our history now?

She further says, about Gandhi, can we say, only Gujarati banias should write about Gandhi? Gandhi has to be owned by everyone, right? She claims, the Hindu society in India doesn't know how Gandhi suppressed Ambedkar, I am revealing that, as no one else has done it. She says this very proudly. Who does not know this? Everyone knows how Gandhi suppressed Ambedkar.

If we look at the introduction, talking of annihilation of caste, she doesn't speak of what should the country do, what should the Dalits do, what should all these castes do? She says low is privileged as compared with the lower. Meaning everyone is benefiting from the caste system, no one wants the system to go. But for us, it has to go.

This caste has to go, it is because of caste that we have become slaves. It is because of caste that we sweep the roads, it is because of caste that we have to do manual scavenging. It is because of caste that we are denied education; it is because of caste that we don't have jobs; it is because of caste, we don't have civil rights.

All of this is experienced by us. We suffer. Whatever may be your knowledge, you could be the fifth ranking intellectual in the world, but in India, it is clear that you don't have the knowledge to grasp caste and tell the world about it. Arundhati Roy does not have it because she's not a Dalit, as she herself says: I am a Brahmin, my father is a Brahmin.

'My mother is a Syrian Christian', she says. Syrian Christian means Brahmin. So what she is declaring is, anyone can write. I have worked a lot for dalit movements, I have the right. I worked to write about the nature of Indian society, have worked in movements, even I want caste to go. Another thing that she says, people have written, they will write, we will write, more people will write, what I have written is correct.

All that is fine, but her mode of engaging with the subject is not good. It seems to express cruel sympathy. When she talks about Ambedkar, this cruel sympathy comes through. This, we don't want. This kind of sympathy we don't need. Caste has to go, work with the dalit intellectuals, the pain has to be expressed through them in their own voices. And the intellectual resources to combat caste, to annihilate caste have to be developed.

So, I came here to share my views, I am grateful for this opportunity. Brother (Karthik Navayan) had said, there is limited time for speakers, I have kept to that. But there is a lot to talk, there is a need to talk until caste is annihilated (laughs). This is a saga that won't end until caste does. To my friends who organized this, thank you, Jai Bhim.

[Transcribed by Anu Ramdas]

~~~

 

Joopaka Subhadra, is a Telugu poet, writer and activist based in Hyderabad. 'Ayyayyo Dammakka' is her collection of poetry. 'Raayakka manyam' is her collection of short stories.

Other Related Articles

Justice Karnan: A man caught up in the whirlwind of ideals
Saturday, 24 June 2017
  Dharmaraj Kumar I have been thinking of whether to write something to pursue the so-called 'curious case of Justice Karnan'- the title that flooded the mainstream media and finally brought... Read More...
Why RSS can’t accept even a Sanghi SC/ST/OBC Judge?
Friday, 23 June 2017
  S Kumar Nomination of Mr. Ram Nath Kovind for the presidential position has again brought the caste politics to the forefront of Indian politics. While a Brahmin appointment like the outgoing... Read More...
आर्य आक्रमण और भारत के पतन और अपेक्षित उत्थान के प्रश्न
Thursday, 22 June 2017
  संजय जोठे (Sanjay Jothe) अभी एक महत्वपूर्ण जेनेटिक रिसर्च सामने आई है जो आर्य... Read More...
Why the Sangh needs Ram Nath Kovind
Wednesday, 21 June 2017
  Mangesh Dahiwale The President of India is a ceremonial post. It is often compared with the "rubber stamp". But as the head of state, it is also a prestigious post. The orders are issued in... Read More...
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...

Recent Popular Articles

Index of Articles in Features
Sunday, 07 May 2017
  2016 ~ Uniform Civil Code & Ashrafiya obsession with Triple Talaq by Ayaz Ahmad ~ Maratha Kranti (Muk) Morcha: When will Maratha women cross the threshold? by Sandhya Gawali ~... Read More...
Fight against the Misogyny & Casteism of 'Best Indian Memes for Creamy Teens', FB page
Friday, 06 January 2017
  Vinay Shende "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... Read More...
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...
Gangrape and Murder of a 16 year old Dalit girl in Sendurai, Tamil Nadu
Saturday, 21 January 2017
  (A condensed translation, by Trevor Jeyaraj, of Mr. Venpura Saravanan's Facebook post in Tamil ) N (16), daughter of Rajendran R of Sendurai taluk in Ariyalur district, Tamil Nadu, who... Read More...
Brahminical Patriarchy and Social Media
Friday, 27 January 2017
 Bhagyesha Kurane Social media has become an integral part of our lives these days. There are various notions prevalent about whether one should use social media, and if at all it is to be used,... 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