<SiteLock

Dalit parties have worked to strengthen caste system

Insight's  National Core Group Meeting

The Roundtable team express their deep condolences over the passing away of Bhagwan Das, this morning in New Delhi. His tall legacy as an Ambedkarite and Buddhist will continue to guide our efforts in our struggle against caste.

----------- 

Bhagwan Das, a research associate of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, is best known as compiler and editor of the four volumes of Thus Spoke Ambedkar. He spoke to Prasanna Raghav about his meetings with Ambedkar and the trajectory of Dalit politics in India: 


When did you first meet Ambedkar?

My father, who was politically and socially aware through his readings, was a great admirer of Dr Ambedkar, referring to him as Ummeedkar, the one who brings hope. I used to read every newspaper article about Babasaheb with great interest. When i first went to meet him in Simla in 1943 with a request for a job, i had to wait for seven hours. Impressed with me, he promised me a job and i got my appointment letter in 15 days. 
 

Mahatma Gandhi was also against discrimination of Dalits. How were the two leaders different? 

Gandhi was no friend of untouchables. Though Gandhi sensitised the people of India towards the evils of untouchability, it was only due to Gandhi's fast-unto-death that the right of untouchables to choose their own representatives was snatched away from them in elections. He included and excluded us at the same time. 

What changes have you witnessed in Dalit politics since independence? 

It has deteriorated. In the pre-independence days, Dalit leaders used to be well educated and informed about issues regarding their community and the society as a whole. The movement was vibrant. Unlike today it wasn't only lip service and vote-bank politics. They encouraged untouchables to take up education. For example, Babasaheb started three colleges across Maharashtra and a school in Mumbai. Ambedkar didn't only talk about fight against exploitation but also against the caste system. But today, everybody uses Babasaheb's name only for political gains. No present-day politician can ever come close to following what the great Dalit leader preached. They don't even know about his teachings and principles. No Dalit leader can ever acquire a pan-Indian identity like Ambedkar. And that's why Dalits continue to wallow in poverty and illiteracy. 

Do you think that proliferation of Dalit parties and leaders has changed the course of Indian politics? 

It has certainly, but only for the worse. Instead of abolishing discrimination, Dalit parties have worked to strengthen the caste system, by further driving a wedge between scheduled castes and other groups. Their method of assertion is wrong. Only a few people in the corridors of power have benefited from the ascendancy of some Dalit leaders. For example, a chamar leader will only work for his community since Dalits as a whole are not united. 

Has reservation in jobs, education and legislature helped to improve the lot of Dalits? 

Quota has helped but it has not been implemented properly. Prejudice against us is very strong and officers from our community are still humiliated at the workplace.


Courtesy: TOI, April/15/09

Other Related Articles

A Tribute to a liberated AdiDravida Christian
Tuesday, 19 October 2021
 D. Albert, S.J. [JC Anthony was born in colonial India into an impoverished AdiDravida family. His father was a cook in the British cantonment. He worked in the Indian Air Force of independent... Read More...
Rosa Parks: How It all Started
Monday, 18 October 2021
  Rosa Parks & Jim Haskins (Excerpt from the book 'Rosa Parks: My Story')  One evening in early December 1955 I was sitting in the front seat of the colored section of a bus in... Read More...
Buddha and caste system
Wednesday, 13 October 2021
  Bhikku U. Dhammaratana There are some writers who try to depict the Buddha, the Enlightened One, as the teacher of Nibbana who had nothing to do with the affairs of the contemporary society.... Read More...
How mainstream feminism has failed Dalit women
Tuesday, 12 October 2021
  Anamika Kumari As long as there is casteism in this country, no other '-ism' would ever stand a chance to flourish. This country follows the rule of 'brahminism' and thus follows every other... Read More...
The many shades of Saheb Kanshiram
Saturday, 09 October 2021
  Gurinder Azad Once Kanshi Ram Saheb was going somewhere with his colleagues in a car. His health was a bit bad. A colleague, probably wanting to please Saheb, asked 'Saheb, tell me, what do... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Casteism in City Colleges and Classrooms
Saturday, 29 May 2021
Aarushi Punia It is a common myth perpetrated by upper caste faculty, students, politicians, and media that caste superiority and casteism is exercised amongst uneducated people in the villages, and... Read More...
Govt. of India should send One Lakh SC ST youths abroad for Higher Education
Monday, 21 June 2021
  Anshul Kumar Men sitting on the pinnacle of the palace "So, I went one day to Linlithgow and said, concerning the expense of education, "If you will not get angry, I want to ask a question. I... Read More...
Understanding Cultural and Social Capital of Savarnas
Thursday, 29 April 2021
Pranav Jeevan P Why is the assertion of Bahujans branded as identity politics based on caste, but the savarna assertions are termed as “culture”, “tradition” and “merit”? The dominance of... Read More...
Conceiving a New Public: Ambedkar on Universities
Saturday, 26 June 2021
Asha Singh & Nidhin Donald Dr. B.R. Ambedkar conceptualizes education as a ‘vital need’ which helps us fight notions of ‘inescapable fate’ or ‘ascriptions of caste or religion’. He... Read More...
Outlook magazine's duplicity
Saturday, 22 May 2021
JS Vinay Recently, there was a controversy when the Outlook magazine released an issue with a cover story on “50 Dalits remaking India”. [1] Many anti-caste activists raised questions about the... Read More...