Flaunting noble intentions, nurturing caste privilege - Part 2

Asha Kowtal

asha savariIn August 2013, Kaafi, our sister from Jind Haryana was on her way to write her final exams and qualify to be a teacher. She was kidnapped, raped and murdered. Her dream to be a teacher and her aspirations to contribute to her family, her community and to this nation were shattered.

 

We did not have the ‘privilege’ to even mourn her loss as we continued to protest and demand for justice. She became a source of strength to the many young activists who are taking forward the caravan for annihilation of caste.

 

Today, as I sat amongst the crowds at Jantar Mantar, I remembered Kaafi and Rohith, both young Dalit students who lost their lives in tragic circumstances. To me, they will always remain stars who will be the guiding light in the anti-caste struggle. They are not mere icons, but a significant part of our history of resilience against the monster of caste. Our children will read about them as their ancestors who inspired the movement to keep growing and challenging the caste hegemony in this country.

 

But, today, I am once again gripped with fear.

 

Because our history is being distorted even before it is fully formed. Right before our eyes. Anti-caste slogans are being merged with or replaced with slogans for right to dissent, free speech and everything else! Rohith and scores of our young people are being projected as icons for some other larger (mysterious) cause. Our fight is against caste which Dr. Ambedkar termed as anti-national. How is it possible to create a discourse on nationalism when we are a people deeply divided on the basis of caste?

chalo delhi

I was dumbstruck and horrified as I sat and listened to several savarna speakers at the Delhi Chalo Protest at Jantar Mantar. One of the savarna leftist madam, referred to Rohith’s amma as the true ‘Bharat Mata’! She further went on to say that all the Dalit mothers in this country are the true mothers of this nation. The amazing ease with which she wielded her caste privilege to make such a statement was amusing to say the least. How conveniently she forgot the centuries of privilege that her community have maintained by safeguarding their bloodline, their knowledge and assets.  

 

My jaw dropped several times as I heard loud Jai Bhim slogans from savarna speakers who repeatedly kept using the term ‘Hindustan’ during their speeches! They are exposing their foolishness and insulting the name of Babasaheb Ambedkar.

 

We heard several critiques of Modi-model of development and RSS bashing without a real analysis of the savarna castes consolidation that happened across the globe; without which this Government would never be a reality for us today. Caste privilege offers an easy and seamless way to project oneself as ‘progressive’ without acknowledging the historical wrongs committed against those oppressed by caste.

 

Another savarna speaker expressed her amazement at the beautiful multi-coloured flags visible at the protest. It seems her heart was filled with joy and she hoped that this will signify a new tri-colour for this nation! I wondered if her caste privilege ever allowed her to think about the fact that discrimination, untouchability, caste atrocities and exclusion makes us writhe with agony. Thinking of a new tri-colour for this country which was never ours … is perhaps not something that communities denied of agency are thinking of at the moment!

 

Aahh .. the politics of colour and again I’m so thankful that I love blue!

 

Speeches also included apologies to Rohith’s amma. It seemed like they were invoking a collective apology from everybody and I sat there thinking about her very noble intention. How do they plan to apologise for the hundreds of my people who are brutally attacked, raped and butchered every day in this country? Is it possible to un-pack centuries of privilege enjoyed by their ancestors at the cost of the lives of my people?

 

Clarion calls for a revolution were made by speaker after speaker from the dais today. It reminded me of the words of Babasaheb Ambedkar - whether before or after the revolution, the question of caste needs to be grappled with. In other words, he clearly said,  turn in any direction you like, caste is the monster that crosses your path. You cannot have political reform, you cannot have economic reform, unless you kill this monster.

 

Without the doubt the movement needs solidarity. But blatant manipulative appropriation in the name of solidarity needs to be exposed and challenged. Its time to create innovative counter models of real transformation for the community.

 

In conclusion, an excerpt from Dr. Ambedkar’s seminal text - Annihilation of Caste -

 

“. . . But they are not to be found even as camp-followers in the army raised to break down the barricades of Caste. Is there any hope of the Brahmins ever taking up a lead in the future in this matter? I say no.”

 

Decades later . . . don't we all still say no?

 

#jaibhim

Asha Kowtal is the General Secretary of the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch. (AIDMAM).

Other Related Articles

Dr. Khatumal Jeewan on the Rise of Meghwars in local Politics of lower Sindh
Saturday, 25 March 2017
  Dr Khatumal Jeewan Dr Khatumal Jeewan (Khatu) is the most celebrated Dalit leader of Pakistan. He has been senator, four times MNA (Member of National Assembly)  and two times MPA (Member... Read More...
Slaves of Manu
Friday, 24 March 2017
  Nitin Dhaktode Some peopleBorn in the socially marginalised community,Forget their rootsSpend their life practising slaveryThe bootlickers of the oppressor casteOppressors from Right, Left,... Read More...
Vayalar Rebellion: A Rethought
Thursday, 23 March 2017
  Anilkumar PV There is no other grand claim about history as that of Hegel's inimitable remark: "God is God only in so far as he knows himself." It was Marx who liberated thought from the... Read More...
"I don't have much belief in the system": Actor Vinayakan talks to the Media
Thursday, 23 March 2017
  Rakesh Ram S Vinayakan, a Dalit actor from Kerala, began his career as a dancer and has been an actor for more than 20 years now in Malayalam and other south Indian movies. Initially he played... Read More...
Interview with Dr Manisha Bangar on Current Issues & the Mulnivasi Bahujan movement
Wednesday, 22 March 2017
  Round Table India In this episode of the Ambedkar Age series, Round Table India talks to Dr Manisha Bangar, Vice President, BAMCEF. In the interview, Dr Manisha Bangar talks about a wide... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Parched and Feminism: Are All Women's Stories the Same?
Wednesday, 19 October 2016
  Asha Singh In the past few days, I have noticed that a few of my Dalit-Bahujan friends are engaged in an uncritical celebration of Leena Yadav's feature film titled 'Parched'. I would like to... Read More...
Who’s your Perfect Dalit Woman?
Tuesday, 04 October 2016
  Christina Thomas Dhanaraj "The oppressor is solidary with the oppressed only when he stops regarding the oppressed as an abstract category and sees them as persons who have been unjustly dealt... Read More...
Presenting Angela Davis, the Savarna Style
Wednesday, 21 December 2016
  Sukanya Shantha On Friday, a friend and I walked into a movie hall to watch an American romantic musical, La La Land. Enticed by the cinematic beauty and the dreamy two hours spent in the... Read More...
In the name of the Nation: Historicizing Caste in Indian Universities
Thursday, 01 December 2016
  Nidhin Shobhana In the name of the Nation: Historicizing Caste in Indian Universities (with special reference to Jawaharlal Nehru University) Setting up the Stage The 'idea' of a... Read More...
Wherever Caste exists in the World, Ambedkar and Marx will remain Irreconcilable
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
  Dr Manisha Bangar NVP BAMCEF In India, and wherever in the world Caste exists, Ambedkar and Marx will remain Irreconcilable. Starting from the happenings in Hyderabad Central University in... 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