Chalo Thiruvananthapuram Article Series – Part 1
Democracy is a total world view that human kind could attain through ideological discourses. But the root cause to the problems that we are entangled in lies in the fact that in contemporary India, not only the fundamental values of democracy are rejected, but the majority is holding firmly the invisible world of Caste-Varna laws where there is no place for human prestige, fraternity, imagination of equality. 2500 years before when Greeks have given form to different Political theories, in India Buddha had already propagated similar philosophies which were of utmost significance. The humane culture with philosophical basis which he had raised by urging equality between Man and Man was written along with the praxis of political ideology. His powerful reasoning, accurate and in depth logic and above all his fervent love towards humans were capable of constructing a democratic society. But when we say that democracy was born in Greek Civilization States, Greek philosopher Aristotle was a person who accepted Slavery. When history convinces us of the fact that women and slaves didn't have freedom in Greece, we become cognizant that Buddha is a great personality given by India to the world.
That was not just because of presenting a Religious Ideology that was against the Priestly Religion, but also by accepting the Shudra rule which were borne during the period of Varna system and creating a distinctive constitution through emperor Ashoka. In modern India through Dr. B.R Ambedkar a democratic constitution with participation of untouchables was created and through that all types of racial dominance were defeated by putting forward representative democracy. While discussing on the contemporary political relevance of Buddha, Kancha Ilaiah observes "In China the People's Democratic Revolution led by Mao was by imbibing the thoughts of Confucius, similar to which in India Dr. B R Ambedkar's entry into Buddhism also had a special political significance." KK Kochu observes in Dalit Thiricharivukal Bhoomi Malayalam "The contemporary relevance of Buddha's thought project is not only because it interprets secularism at a different level, but also that it is linked with subaltern politics. Just like economic reforms, it brings about social reforms and liberates the individual from the past. This makes self-determination possible in democracy.
Self-determination becomes possible for an individual or a community not only when the existing power relationships are rejected through the spirit of knowledge and realization of history, but also when the existing power relationships have begun to be deconstructed and reconstructed. Dr. Ambedkar was a great personality who had contributed to India a massive theoretical world which encompasses all sections of Indian society with the marginalized population at the forefront. We know that when the knowledge production spaces in India had taken over and realized the political model envisaged by Ambedkar, it was a huge blow to the consciousness of the Indian Manuvadi Life. The brahmanical consciousness which feared dissent at all times reacted not through ideological struggle but by pricing the life of 5 Ambedkarite dalit students. Hence the Indian State had a direct share in the crime of Hyderabad Central University research student Rohith's death.
It is a realization that "Rohith was murdered" and Indian democracy is in the dock in the harsh trials of this realization. The trials are not ending, it is not ending with Una, Udupi, Malkangiri, Attapadi, Chengara, Arippa, EFLU, Nattakom, Kottayam, Najeeb, Nadi, Kamal Chavara and Jishnu. As Ambedkar said in the 1930s, it is the Savarnas who need to be reformed because this is about knowledge and not animosity. That is why even a Law academy principal who doesn't have minimum social literacy becomes ineligible to live in a democratic country. It's just a dish of vazhappindi thoran (dish made of the stem of banana tree) to the ancestral house of culturelessness of Appa Rao and Meenakshi Reddy.
But on the path of the Indian democracy, a new world model is being seen. It is seen through Ambedkar Students Association, Asmita yatra, and when it reaches till Chalo Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala a political process is underway which addresses the precise and broad based contents of social democracy and human freedom. Beyond the fact that landlessness is the result of the continuing Brahmanical Power structure, the younger generation have realized that landlessness is also a human rights issue and have undertaken the task of co-existence of diversities and deconstruction of the social structure through social engineering. This is not just a hope but the aim of those who want social justice because the voice for human rights from the side of justice is raised not from far distance but from one's own heart.
Article originally published in Malayalam magazine Sanghaditha, received via Nidhin Sowjanya
Sathy Angamali is a Dalit Activist and Poet.