The difference in being a Babasaheb and a Pandit

 

Tejaswini Tabhane

The following tweet has made all my nerves rebel. I am restless. I am constantly wondering what my identity is. I am not able to digest this hatred. I am surprised how anyone can carry so much hatred in their belly. Many Twitter users, just like me, saw that meme. They moved on, but I am not able to. You may say I am overreacting. But I can't help it. My mind isn't allowing me to stay calm!

babasaheb pandit

We encounter many casteist abuses everyday on social media. The Twitter user who shared this meme is just another Twitter troll who calls himself 'Anpadh (illiterate) Hindu'.

Ironically, via this meme, he abused one of the most educated persons of this country. But how do I forget that this country doesn't value your mind. It asks you your surname before deciding your worth. Many of you will find nothing wrong with the tweet. You will say it is sarcasm and I should 'tolerate' it. I would have tolerated it if it was just a joke. But it isn't. It is a casteist slur. It doesn't come under the provision of freedom of expression. (I just ended one of your defence.) We mock many of our past and present leaders. Nothing new. For a second, imagine if Dr. Ambedkar was any upper caste leader. Many would still criticise him as we criticise other upper caste leaders. But would he be called a 'sweeper'? No. Because this 'job' is assigned only to Dalits. So is that tweet just a joke or a casteist slur? Tell me. Why should I tolerate that? And it's not an abuse towards just one person but to an entire community. Why in a democratic nation, you ask me to be calm over this? Even if I want to be calm, my history won't let me.

Dear @firkiii, and rest of your followers who had a good laugh over the meme, you all must have forgotten this 'joke' at the end of the day and must be waiting for another instance to laugh again. You people do not realise how much it haunts us when you question or make fun of our very existence. (Last week I read an article about the effects of caste on mental health. We must encourage such research.) The replies to that tweet were equally condemnable. Some said 'Dalit (delete) the tweet', some posted very foul language with Dr. Ambedkar's pictures, and the most obvious one, some brought reservations in the discussion. When you question reservations, why don't you recognise how difficult it is for most of us, first generation learners, to get into your 'mainstream'? I am writing this not because you will care a hoot but I want to tell this to you even if you don't want to listen.

Yesterday was 'Pandit' Jawaharlal Nehru's death anniversary. We all know he is one of the most hated men among India's right wing forces. So as usual, they abused him yesterday too and the liberals were in forefront to oppose them. (Ironically, a woman who appreciated the meme had retweeted a tweet that criticised Nehru's abuser.) But they all were silent when it came to defend Babasaheb's image. After one day, the tweet and the account were still active because we aren't protesting like we did in the case of Paresh Rawal abusing Arundhati 'Roy'. This country knows the difference between a 'Pandit' and a 'Babasaheb' very well. And so our outrage is selective. My dear comrades, you are again clueless in this matter. We can't deny that most of our progressive liberals and communists enjoy their caste privilege. So they aren't really worried about 'our' matters unless it suits their interests. But remember, you will regret bypassing the social questions one day. And on that day, your cynicism will be answered in the most befitting way.

All this attempts are just to make us ashamed of our history. But remember, our history is one of oppression and not shame. Lastly to quote Babasaheb, 'We must shape our course ourselves and by ourselves'. I rest here.

Jai Bhim!

~~~

 

Tejaswini Tabhane is a 17-year-old student from Nagpur and a budding Ambedkarite.

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