How People Like Sunita Jatav Make India Beautiful


How people like Sunita Jatav make India beautiful
By Jawed Naqvi
Monday, 27 Sep, 2010


Dalits, who belong to the lowest of castes according to the Indian caste system, listen to a speaker at a rally to mark World Dignity Day, in New Delhi, India. –Photo by AP


Dalits, who belong to the lowest of castes according to the Indian caste system, listen to a speaker at a rally to mark World Dignity Day, in New Delhi, India. –Photo by AP

The fuss about Delhi’s Commonwealth Games is just that: fuss. Heavens will not fall if an athlete finds a stray dog sleeping in his or her bed. Or if a visitor lands in hospital in this season of dengue fever. Or if Delhiites are put to inconvenience for a few days by commuting restrictions that the events logistics demand. These are small box item stories.
Much of the criticism of the event’s shabby handling has been aired by the western media for pretty much the same reason that saw them going to town over a hair in a soup bowl during the spectacular Beijing Olympics. This is not to say that Delhi Commonwealth show in any way comes close to the Beijing extravaganza. A few in the western media enjoy making developing countries like India and China look small.

Their Indian collaborators fare no better. They are evidently embarrassed that “their” fair name has been besmirched in the melee. To them the Commonwealth fiasco has sullied the image of India Shining. It has hurt the pride of their class more than anything involving corruption or ineptness generally. Now we hear the Delhi government has deputed dog-catchers to remove stray animals from around sports complexes and athletes’ residences.

There is far greater, widespread and entrenched corruption that an average Indian has to face on a daily basis than the sordid Commonwealth saga represents. And it starts at the top of the politico-corporate heap. It is foolish to expect the squalor that most people live in in this superpower-in-the-making to be in the news for the upper crust Indian media. That ordinary Indians – as opposed to those flaunted on TV – are a beautiful people who imbue even their suffering with a humane narrative hardly gets mentioned.

What the media have not told us is that 500 metres from the main stadium, under the Lodi Road flyover, live families of street hawkers and beggars. And it is a common sight, particularly late in the night, to see these dispossessed citizens of the country sharing their hard-earned bread with street dogs. Animal rights activists, buoyed by the recent surge in their income, may have identified Maneka Gandhi as their icon. The rest of the country will soon know that it is Sunita Jatav, the Dalit woman from Morena, the upper caste dacoit dominated region of Madhya Pradesh, who really makes India invincible and beautiful.

Sunita’s story was first recounted by historian Romila Thapar on Friday, when the ageing scholar chaired a discussion about the corporate nature and essential prejudices of the media. The main speaker was P. Sainath, author of the ground-breaking book Everybody Loves a Good Drought. Sainath recalled that there was hardly any Dalit journalist in the so-called mainstream media leaving the field open to incestuous prejudices to flourish. Sunita Jatav was subjected to the same prejudice. What was her story? Here’s the BBC version:

“Police in India are investigating claims that a Dalit woman has been ordered to pay compensation to the high-caste owners of a dog she fed.

“The woman says the village council wants her to pay a fine of 15,000 rupees ($330) for feeding the dog, which the owners have now kicked out. They are reported to have said the dog is “untouchable”, but deny being motivated by caste considerations. Although widespread, discrimination against Dalits is an offence in India. Dalits, who make up nearly 20 per cent of the Indian population, say little has changed despite the government enacting various laws banning caste-based discrimination.

“The incident took place in Malikpur village in Morena district in central Madhya Pradesh state. “I made some roti [Indian bread] and took it to my husband who works in a farm. After I had fed him, we had some leftovers which I gave to the dog,” the Dalit woman, Sunita Jatav, said. She said the owner of the dog, Amrutlal Kirari, saw her feeding him. “He got very angry and said ‘You’ve fed my dog, it has become an untouchable now’.”

“Mrs Jatav said Mr Kirari left the dog, a black mongrel called Sheru, tied to a pole outside her house.

“On Monday, the village council met and decided that Sheru had been defiled and hence Mr Kirari should be paid 15,000 rupees as compensation, Mrs Jatav alleged. On Tuesday, she approached the district collector of Morena who ordered an inquiry into the incident. Senior police officer in the area, Baldev Singh, told the BBC that he was investigating the matter. He said Mr Kirari had alleged that after eating the bread, Sheru fell ill.

“Mr Kirari said he abandoned the dog at Mrs Jatav’s house so she could look after it and nurse it back to health, Mr Singh added. Dalits – formerly untouchables – are considered at the bottom of the Hindu caste system. Any discrimination against them is an offence and punishable by law.”

Sunita Jatav’s story captures the unsung Indian who comprises more than 840 million that earn less than 20 rupees a day. In their poverty they are giving. With a range of prejudices stalking them they remain generous. Where Amrutlal Kirari represents the abrasive Indian, who spurs the ascendant polity, Sunita Jatav symbolises the underclass whose pride is not tied to a national flag or political slogans, and who brings to life India’s fabled but relentlessly abused humaneness.

Sainath, a Tamil Brahmin who speaks and campaigns for India’s Dalits, had forwarded me another vignette about the state of play in this realm.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) under the Constitution of free India started functioning from January 26, 1950. The UPSC conducted its first examination to recruit personnel for the IAS and Central Services the same year. The First Report of the UPSC does not mention the number of SC/ST (Dalit/Tribal) candidates. But it discloses that Achyutananda Das was the country’s first Dalit (SC) to make it to the IAS in 1950 itself. He was, in fact, the topper of his batch in the written examination.

Achyutananda Das, from West Bengal, secured 613 out of 1050 marks in written examination whereas N. Krishnan from Madras secured 602. But in the interview, Krishnan secured 260 out of 300 as against 110 by Achyutananda Das. Thus Achyutananda was left miles behind by the upper caste Krishnan due to the latter’s performance in the viva-voce test.

But the case of Aniruddha Dasgupta, also from West Bengal, is both interesting and revealing. The margin of difference of marks between Achyutananda Das and N. Krishnan in written papers being eleven only so in the interview if the latter outstripped the former, there is not much surprise perhaps. But the written and viva-voce marks of Aniruddha Dasgupta in comparison with those of Achyutananda Das raise a number of issues.

Dasgupta secured the highest marks in viva-voce among all successful candidates recommended for appointment to the IAS, IPS, IFS, etc. But it was also he who got the lowest aggregate as well as the lowest average of all those qualified for appointment to the IAS and Allied Services. Further, he scored the lowest marks of all the qualified candidates in General Knowledge.

Dasgupta scored 26.66 per cent in General Knowledge, 47.04 per cent in written aggregate but an astounding 88.33 per cent in Personality Test as against 52.66 per cent, 58.38 per cent and 36.66 per cent respectively scored by Achyutananda Das. The margin of difference of marks between Das and Dasgupta in written examination was as vast as 119. Reduced into percentage, Das was an unbridgeable 11.33 per cent ahead of Dasgupta.

Any candidate strong in General Knowledge is usually expected to face the Selection Board very confidently and to perform competently. Aniruddha Dasgupta’s poorest (26.66 per cent) score amongst all successful candidates in General Knowledge notwithstanding; he must have thrown up the biggest surprise by scoring the highest marks in the interview.

His viva-voce score of 265 which was followed by Krishnan with 260, not only helped him make up the vast gap between him and Achyutananda Das but he left the latter far behind.

In the ultimate count, Krishnan topped; Aniruddha Dasgupta occupied the 22nd position in the merit list and Achyutananda Das was assigned the 48th position. As they lose patience with lingering prejudices, India’s Dalits, like Sunita Jatav, still continue to sanctify a fairer if more elusive interpretation of the idea of India. They know their struggle is Olympian in its challenges and they don’t seem to mind that they don’t have a voice in the mainstream media. They will probably find more compelling ways to press home their point.


Dog cast(e) away after dalit touch- Dog eats Roti fed by Dalit, is expelled by rich owner, village


BHOPAL: A dog’s life couldn’t get worse. A mongrel brought up in an upper caste home in Morena was kicked out after the Rajput family members discovered that their Sheru had eaten a roti from a dalit woman and was now an “untouchable”. Next, Sheru was tied to a pole in the village’s dalit locality. His controversial case is now pending with the district collector, the state police and the Scheduled Caste Atrocities police station in Morena district of north MP. The black cur, of no particular pedigree, was accustomed to the creature comforts in the home of its influential Rajput owners in Manikpur village in Morena. Its master, identified by the police as Rampal Singh, is a rich farmer with local political connections. A week ago Sunita Jatav, a dalit woman, was serving lunch to her farm labourer husband. “There was a ‘roti’ left over from lunch. I saw the dog roaming and fed it the last bread,” Sunita said. “But when Rampal Singh saw me feeding the dog and he grew furious. He yelled: ‘Cobbler woman, how dare you feed my dog with your roti?’ He rebuked me publicly. I kept quiet thinking the matter would end there. But it got worse,” she said. On Monday, Rampal ex-communicated the dog. A village panchayat was called, whi- ch decided that Sheru would now have to live with Sunita and her family because it had become an untouchable. Sunita Jatav was fined Rs 15,000. An outraged Sunita and her brother Nahar Singh Jatav rushed to Sumawali police station. They were directed to take the matter to the SC/ST Atrocities police station in Kalyan. “When we went there, the officer asked us why we fed the dog,” recalls Nahar. “So we went to the DSP in the SC/ST Atrocities department and submitted a memorandum to him, as also to the district collector. But no one has registered our FIR so far. DSP SC/ST Atrocities (Morena), Baldev Singh, recalls, “We got a complaint in which it has been alleged that a dog was declared untouchable and a dalit family fined for feeding it. We are investigating the allegation,” said the officer. Read more: Dog cast(e) away after dalit touch – The Times of India

Dalits are marching ahead in Uttar Pradesh


Are you among those who think record GDP growth has done nothing for dalits ? Think again. A seminal paper, “Rethinking Inequality : Dalits in UP in the Market Reform Era” by Devesh Kapur, CB Prasad, Lant Pritchett and D Shyam Babu, reveals a veritable dalit revolution after 1990 in Uttar Pradesh, long viewed as a sink of caste oppression.

The media remains full of stories of caste oppression, inequalities and lousy economic and social indicators. Without doubt, dalits remain close to the bottom of the income ladder. Nevertheless, the new study reveals huge improvements in economic and social terms, based on questions to capture realities that dalits themselves view as important . The survey covered all dalit households in two blocks in UP, one in the relatively prosperous west (Khurja) and one in the backward east (Bilariaganj), between 1990 and 2008.

The dalit proportion with pucca houses rose from 18.1% to 64.4% in the east and from 38.4% to 94.6% in the west. TV ownership improved from virtually zero to 22.2% and 45% respectively. Cellphone ownership increased from almost nothing to 36.3% and 32.5% respectively.

Fan ownership, curbed by electricity shortages, rose to 36.7% and 61.4% respectively . Bicycle ownership has become ubiquitous , up from 46.6% to 84.1% in the east and from 37.7 to 83.7% in the west.

A motorcycle symbolizes high rural status . Dalit ownership of two-wheelers improved from almost zero to 7.6% and 12.3% respectively. NSS consumption surveys consider purchases only in a short pre-survey period, and so miss durables acquired over the years.

In times of distress, dalits historically mortgaged jewellery to upper caste lenders. The proportion that does so has dropped from 75.8% to 29.3% in the east and from 64.6% to 21.2% in the west.

Dalits have switched from inferior foods (broken rice, jaggery ras) to superior foods (whole rice, pulses, tomatoes). The proportion eating roti-chutney for lunch, socially viewed as low-class food, has fallen from 82% to just 2% and 9% in the two zones. The proportion of kids eating the previous night’s leftovers plummeted from 95.9% to just 16.2% in the east. The proportion eating broken rice fell from 54% to 2.6% in the east, and from 22.7% to 1.1% in the west.

Per capita availability of dal in India has been falling. So it’s heartening that dalits consuming dal are up from 31% to 90% in the east, and from 60.1% to 96.9% in the west. This may be one cause for rising dal prices. Consumption of jaggery ras, usually drunk by the poorest, has collapsed. Meanwhile dalit consumption of packaged salt, elaichi and tomatoes has shot up.

Untouchability in Chennai? Yes, shows survey


CHENNAI: If you ever thought that untouchability is a rural phenomenon, please wait. Caste definitely has its shadow over metropolitan Chennai, where discrimination is prevalent in different forms – both subtle and otherwise, if one were to go by an ongoing survey.

Though many members of the Schedule Castes have migrated to the state capital and some of them have even progressed economically, Dalits still face unique forms of discrimination and atrocities at various levels, according to the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradi cation Front, which is conducting the first of its kind survey to map ‘urban untouchability’.

For instance, a senior government officer was asked to vacate a flat in upscale Anna Nagar after his landlord came to know that the tenant was a Dalit. And that ended their cordiality.

In many uppercaste households, Dalit housemaids are bar red from entering certain parts of the house like kitchen or prayerroom. “Dalits are made to just do the dishes, wash clothes and clean bathrooms,” points out P Sampath, president of the Front.

He says the survey initially carried 36 queries, most of them referring to specific forms of discrimination. But now the questions have gone up to 50, as newer forms of discrimination are repo rted by the people surveyed.

The need for the survey, conducted in 30 specific pockets with dense Dalit population, was felt when the members of the Front visited a few slums to mobilise support for agitations. Basic amenities elude slums because they are mos tly populated by SC members, he adds.

The Front will release the final results with figures and a list of forms of discrimination in a few days. It had earlier done a similar survey in rural Tamil Nadu and identified 85 forms of discrimination and 23 forms of atrocities practised against Dalits.

Obama should pay homage to Ambedkar By Kancha Ilaiah and Joseph D’Souza

We need to learn a few things from the US. There are also things that Americans should learn from us.
When President Barack Obama visits India in November, he is sure to visit Raj Ghat to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi whom he often cites as his inspiration. But the Bahujan communities and minorities would be happy if he also pays homage to Dr B R Ambedkar. This will make his visit a historic event. As such, they are looking forward to Obama’s visit as he symbolises the hope of freedom for oppressed people across the world.

As Obama emerged out of the historic struggles of the blacks in the US, his visit could also inspire the movement for the abolition of caste, the Indian variety of slavery.

Ambedkar is the best historical link between the Indian oppressed communities and also the blacks of America.

As mentioned above, Obama refers to Mahatma Gandhi more than any other US president. But one is not aware whether he knows much about Ambedkar who is generally compared with  Martin Luther King Jr, to whose civil rights movement Obama owes his political birth and growth. This nation considers Ambedkar not only as the father of the constitution but also as the liberator of all oppressed people. Though the ruling classes do see the similarities between Dalit-Bahujan struggles and the black struggles the masses can make out that historical linkages.

Multi-cultural tradition

There are other facets too. The religious minorities also look up to Ambedkar as as he was a Buddhist. Obama, while being a Christian, shares the blood of a Muslim father. If he pays homage to a Buddhist Ambedkar, apart from Mahatma Gandhi, he will be respecting the multi-cultural tradition of India. This will also attract global attention to Ambedkar’s life and thought.

Ambedkar, who took out a civil rights struggle for abolishing caste and untouchability, made the new India possible. Imagine an India that has no dalit/adivasi or minority participation in the administrative, bureaucratic and knowledge structures. Imagine no dalit participation in the higher echelons of the nation in this century. They constitute 16.5 per cent of our population and Obama, as a first black president to visit India, should ideally take note of this.

Let us not forget the fact that Obama’s educational emergence could be traced back to the affirmative action that blacks were given in the context of the civil rights movement of America. Likewise, thanks to the reservation system that  Ambedkar worked to put in place, dalits are now visible in every sphere of life. Jagajjivan Ram could become a deputy prime minister and K R Narayanan the President of India.

Obviously, there are things that we need to learn from the US and there are things that Americans should learn from us. As we know about Abraham Lincoln and Martin King, Americans should also know about both Gandhi and Ambedkar. Obama has done a lot to popularise Gandhi, and he could also do the same for  Ambedkar if he visits Nagapur Deekshabhoomi or other sites linked to Ambedkar.

The Deekshabhoomi does not represent just Ambedkar’s idea of India but also the secular Buddhist tradition of the nation. It is a known fact that Rajghat does not merely represent Mahatma Gandhi alone but the whole range of secular Hindu tradition that he stood for.

India as a nation must also own the Buddhist cultural tradition as Buddha was born, grew up and built his spiritual and social Sangha system here. No other icon than Ambedkar can represent that cultural heritage in the modern period.

Will our ruling class ensure that Obama at least lays a garland on the statue of Ambedkar in parliament premises? Such a deviation from protocol will respond to the changing needs of the nation and will be positive and desirable.

Obama was keen to learn about the plight of the untouchables during his student years. And interestingly, both he and  Ambedkar were educated at Columbia University. It could also turn out to be an occasion for the country to come to terms with the caste and untouchability problem in the international arena. The stance of denial taken by the Indian government in the United Nations had done some damage.

But things are changing. Manmohan Singh is our first prime minister to admit the caste problem and Rahul Gandhi, took the British foreign minister to a dalit village in 2009 and Bill Gates to a Musahar dalit village in Bihar. Rahul Gandhi’s recent statement that casteism is worse than racism shows that old attitudes are changing.

Let this government take one more step in the right direction by taking Obama to Deekshabhoomi. Let America know that India, too, is a mature nation grappling with its strengths and weaknesses.

Meena Kandasamy: Angry Young Women Are Labelled Hysterics


When Meena Kandasamy speaks about the contemporary issues of her native India, she incisively reveals the societal assumptions that assign specific roles to people based on caste or gender. When she turns her attention to the past, she deconstructs the heroes. She uses her poetry like a scalpel to dismantle stereotypes.

In 2009, Kandasamy came to Pittsburgh to read at City of Asylum/Pittsburgh’s Jazz Poetry Concert. Since then, Sampsonia Way has followed the career of this 26-year-old poet, translator, and creative writer.

Kandasamy’s work articulates the voice of the Dalits, the people at the lowest rung of India’s ancient caste system. Despite the fact that the Indian constitution abolished this system, the Dalits still face widespread discrimination.

Kandasamy recently finished her second book of poetry, Ms. Militancy to be published by Navayana Press in November. In this collection, she retells Hindu and Tamil myths from a feminist and anti-caste perspective.

In this interview she calls herself “an angry young woman,” attacks academic language, and relates how she has faced harassment from people who feel attacked by her writing.

In a recent interview with Sampsonia Way writer Horacio Horacio Castellanos Moya said, “if you have some kind of sensibility towards injustice, you know what rage is.” Your poems have huge doses of rage. How do you deal with anger when you are writing?

I am an angry young woman. The world has not seen enough of our kind, while we have had plenty of angry young men. Angry young men working among the people are killed early; angry young men becoming artists spend a lifetime in anonymity; and savvy angry young men turn into politicians and all the revolution inside them simply fizzles out.

However, society will not let angry young women exist, we will be labelled hysterics. As women, we are indoctrinated merely to accept our situation and be grateful for all the things we have. As women, we are told that it is bad behavior to be angry, we are told that we have to change ourselves because we cannot change the system. Those of us who refuse to comply are the shrews whom everyone loves to hate.

In all this social conditioning, we tend to forget that anger is only a reaction to something outside of oneself, a reaction to an oppressive system. I write as an angry young woman, even as it requires all my artistic skill to maintain that rage and to let it reflect in my writings.

Why did you choose poetry as your sword against discrimination?

Poetry is not caught up within larger structures that pressure you to adopt a certain set of practices while you present your ideas in the way that academic language is. Despite being an academic myself, I dread academia’s ultra-intellectualizing. Perhaps academic jargon does contribute a lot to philosophy—to late-night conversations in air-conditioned rooms with plenty of red wine and Swiss cheese. I can fake that routine, trust me, I pull it of like a real pro. Sometimes, I even subject myself to that horror for pure, wicked pleasure. But is it the language to speak of the oppressed? Is it the language in which any victim would speak?

However, you are a Ph.D. candidate in linguistics and English literature and recently completed your dissertation. How do you deal with academic language?

I often die a death within myself when I am asked to theorize my struggle and present it to scholars. In my mind, this image plays: I am an abused naked woman, I am through trauma, and I go around with a begging bowl. I am not pleading. I am not even fighting at this stage. I am out there collecting words, fancy words in a foreign tongue that I must reproduce in order to be heard, in order for my circumstance to be understood. The same thing happens when you are working with human rights organizations, with NGOs, and with lobby groups.

What kind of language should be used?

Whether it is the Dalits in India or the Tamils in Sri Lanka, there is immense discrimination, there is daily violence, there are unbearable tragedies. But to get people to hear, to get the international community to even blink in our direction, we have to learn a jargon-laden language that they will understand. We have to use a pacifist language that does not point and blame, a passive language that forces your eyes to become mere video-capture devices, a pointless language of emotionicide, a carefully-constructed language that pushes you into a paralysis. Consequently, we languish as a society.

So, do you see your poetry as the antithesis of this paralysis?

Yes. Poetry, it is raw. It is real. It is full of jagged edges. My poetry is naked, my poetry is in tears, my poetry screams in anger, my poetry writhes in pain. My poetry smells of blood, my poetry salutes sacrifice. My poetry speaks like my people, my poetry speaks for my people.

In the poem “Nailed” you write, “Men are afraid of any woman who makes poetry and dangerous portents.” How have men and members of the other groups you criticize responded to your work?

There are men who take great interest in writing obscene emails to me, but their lack of imagination makes for rather depressing reading. Others say that I am “terrorizing” the caste-Hindus with my writing. Very often I know that this anger is because of the political, anti-caste stand I adopt.

When I wrote an article attacking the anti-Muslim hatred in the novelist V. S. Naipaul’s writings, someone wrote, “Is Meena Kandasamy your pedophile prophet’s preteen wife?” on an internet forum. I bring on extreme emotions in people. I have been called all kinds of names. There are hate-mongers who write to me saying that they will come to my city and finish off my career.

It sounds like criticism has turned into threats.

Increasingly, the criticism has also become personal and malicious as well. There is a new breed of moral police who attack me for my writings. There was a woman who said that I write about my body as a way to garner male-attention and she blamed men who posted comments on my Facebook status updates. Sometimes, hatred can provide a lot of amusement!

Being a writer has made me blind and totally brazen. My family and friends are afraid for me. I have been stalked to my hotel and received anonymous threats. At times like that, I am a little scared. I later console myself and gain confidence with the fact that any physical attack on me will only draw more attention and garner a larger audience for my protest against caste discrimination and other issues.

In your poem “Mohandas Karamchand” you wrote to Gandhi: “Don’t ever act like a holy saint. / we can see through you, impure you. / Remember, how you dealt with your poor wife. / But, they wrote your books, they made your life.” What happened when you published this poem?

I was both cheered and reprimanded. To talk solely about the harassment I faced is to portray only one side of the story. Dalits welcomed the poem, Communists welcomed the poem, Muslims welcomed the poem and, above all, most women appreciated the poem. They could never come to term with Ghandi’s sexual experiments (which included sleeping next to naked young women to ‘test’ his vows of celibacy), or how hard he was on his wife, Kasturba. Gandhi supported the revival of the varnashrama dharma (the caste system’s insistence of people only working in their traditional occupations), and he used techniques of blackmail to prevent Dalits from attaining political autonomy and the right to govern themselves.

Sylvia Plath’s poem “Daddy” influenced me a great deal. When I saw what she had done, I thought, “Well, there’s a figure I would like to take on too.” Even today, it is my most popular (although no longer the most controversial) poem. The best thing about poetry is that it opens up space for discussion, a space for a critical revaluation.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, “Freedom of speech and expression in India is balanced precariously between the ever-present threat of direct, physical attacks from both security forces and social vigilante groups on the one hand, and the reassurance of protection from higher judicial authorities on the other. But the scales seem tipped in favor of the former.” How would you describe freedom of expression in India?

I am proud of quite a few things about my country. One is its constitution, which enshrines the right to freedom of expression for instance. But, is there a thriving freedom of expression? Of course not.

Films are regularly and brutally censored for their politics. Women poets are attacked when they write about sexuality by the so-called moral police. Tamil leaders are jailed when they speak of the right to self-determination and human rights for their people. The state labels them as “secessionists” and says they are a threat to national integrity. The state routinely criminalizes Muslim, Dalit, and Adivasi [indigenous people of India] leaders because they challenge the oppressive system. Journalists have been taken in for questioning and some end up being killed in ‘fake encounters’ by the state. As Indians, we are not totally shocked because our neighboring countries do much worse.

Look at Sri Lanka for example, it has one of the worst records of assassinating, abducting, incarcerating members of the media or anyone who decides to expose human rights abuses or the genocide of the Tamils. So, as Indians, we perhaps draw comfort from the fact that things are much worse elsewhere even as we fight hard to not to lose freedom of expression.


ಪೂನಾ ಒಪ್ಪಂದ- ಸತ್ಯ ಎಲ್ಲೆಡೆಗೆ

ರಾಮ ಕೃಷ್ಣ ಗಾಂಧಿ ಬುದ್ಧ ಹುಟ್ಟಿದಂತ ದೇಶವೇಂದು ಸಂತೋಷದಿ ಹೇಳುವೆ_ಇದು ಜನಪ್ರಿಯ ಚಿತ್ರವೊಂದರ ಜನಪ್ರಿಯ ಹಾಡು.  ರಾಮಕೃಷ್ಣ ಪುರಾಣದ ಪಾತ್ರಗಳಾದ್ದರಿಂದ ಅವರ ಅಗತ್ಯತೆಯನ್ನು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಸ್ತಾಪಿಸಲು ಹೋಗುತ್ತಿಲ್ಲ. ಅದೇ ಗಾಂಧಿ ಬುದ್ಧ? ಎಲ್ಲಿಯ ಗಾಂಧಿ? ಎಲ್ಲಿಯ ಬುದ್ಧ?  ಏಕೆಂದರೆ ಬಹುಜನ ಹಿತಾಯ, ಬಹುಜನ ಸುಖಾಯಎಂದ ಬುದ್ಧ ಎಲ್ಲಿ? ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ಹಕ್ಕುಗಳನ್ನು ಪ್ರಾಣವನ್ನೇ ಪಣವಾಗಿಟ್ಟು ವಿರೋಧಿಸಿದ ಗಾಂಧಿ ಎಲ್ಲಿ?
1932 ಸೆಪ್ಟೆಂಬರ್ 24ರ ಪೂನಾ ಒಪ್ಪಂದ, ಮತ್ತದರ ಸಂಬಧಿತ ಘಟನಾವಳಿಗಳು  ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರನ್ನು ಅಕ್ಷರಶಃ ಬೆತ್ತಲುಗೊಳಿಸುತ್ತವೆ! ತಮ್ಮ ಹೀನ ತಂತ್ರಗಳ ಮೂಲಕ ಶೋಷಿತ ಜನಸಮುದಾಯದ ಹಕ್ಕುಗಳಿಗೆ ಬೆಂಕಿಯಿಡಲು ಯತ್ನಿಸಿದ ಆವರ ನಯವಂಚಕತನವನ್ನು ಬಟಾಬಯಲುಗೊಳಿಸುತ್ತವೆ.
ನಿಜ, ಇಡೀ ದೇಶವೆ ಮಹಾತ್ಮರೆಂದು ಕರೆಯುವ ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರಪಿತ ಎಂದು ಗೌರವಿಸುವ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಯೊಬ್ಬರ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಕೇವಲವಾಗಿ ಬರೆಯುವುದು ಅಷ್ಟು ಸುಲಭದ ಮಾತಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೆ ಸತ್ಯ ಎಲ್ಲೆಡೆಗೆ ಹಂಚಬೇಕೆಂದಾಗ , ಆ ಸತ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ಸೂಕ್ತ ಸಾಕ್ಷಿ ಇರುವಾಗ ಭಯವೇಕೆ? ಅಂಜಿಕೆಏಕೆ? ಅಳುಕೇಕೆ? ಅದರಲ್ಲೂ ಸಕರ್ಾರಿ ಮುದ್ರಿತ ಸಾಕ್ಷಿ ಇರುವಾಗ? ಕನರ್ಾಟಕ ಸಕರ್ಾರದ ಕನ್ನಡ ಮತ್ತು ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತಿ ಇಲಾಖೆ ಪ್ರಕಟಿಸಿರುವ ಬಾಬಾಸಾಹೇಬ್ ಡಾ.ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ ಬರಹಗಳು ಮತ್ತು ಭಾಷಣಗಳು  ಕೃತಿ ಸರಣಿಯ  9ನೇ ಸಂಪುಟದ  ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ಮತ್ತು ಗಾಂಧಿ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರಿಗಾಗಿ ಮಾಡಿರುವುದೇನು? ಕೃತಿ ಅಂತಹ ಗಟ್ಟಿಸಾಕ್ಷಿಯಾಗಿ ಮಹಾತ್ಮಗಾಂಧಿಯವರ ಇಬ್ಬಗೆಯ ನೀತಿಯನ್ನು ಅಕ್ಷರಶಃ ಬಯಲಿಗೆಳೆಯುತ್ತದೆ. ಮಹಾತ್ಮ ಗಾಂಧಿಯವರನ್ನು ಹೀಗೆ ಬಯಲಿಗೆಳೆಯುವುದರ ಹಿಂದೆ  ಪೂವರ್ಾಗ್ರಹ ಪೀಡಿತ ಮನಸ್ಸಾಗಲೀ   ಯಾವುದೋ ದುರುದ್ದೇಶವಾಗಲೀ ಇಲ್ಲ. ಬದಲಿಗೆ ಸತ್ಯವನ್ನು ತಿಳಿಸುವ ಆ ಮೂಲಕ  ಶೋಷಿತರ ಏಳಿಗೆಗ ಐತಿಹಾಸಿಕವಾಗಿ ಅಡ್ಡಿಯಾದ ಕಹಿ ಘಟನೆಯನ್ನು ದಾಖಲಿಸುವುದಷ್ಟೆ ಇಲ್ಲಿಯ ಉದ್ದೇಶ.
ಇರಲಿ, ಪೂನಾ ಒಪ್ಪಂದ ಹಾಗೆಂದರೇನು ಎಂದು ತಿಳಿಯುವುದಕ್ಕೆ ಮೊದಲು  ಆ ಒಪ್ಪಂದಕ್ಕೆ ಕಾರಣವಾದ ಕೆಲವು ಘಟನೆಗಳತ್ತ  ಕಣ್ಣಾಯಿಸುವುದು ಸೂಕ್ತ. ಏಕೆಂದರೆ  ಅಂತಹ ಘಟನೆಗಳು ಮತ್ತು ಆ ಘಟನೆಗಳ ಉಪಕ್ರಮವಾಗಿ ರೂಪುಗೊಂಡದ್ದೆ ಈ ಒಪ್ಪಂದ.
1930 ರ ನವೆಂಬರ್ ತಿಂಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಬ್ರಿಟಿಷ್ ಭಾರತದಲ್ಲಿ ಸಾಂವಿಧಾನಿಕ ಬೆಳವಣಿಗೆಗಳನ್ನು ಪರಿಷ್ಕರಿಸಲು ಲಂಡನ್ನಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಧಾನಿ ರ್ಯಾಮ್ಸೆ ಮ್ಯಾಕ್ ದೊನಾಲ್ಡ್ರ ಅಧ್ಯಕ್ಷತೆಯಲ್ಲಿ  ಮೊದಲನೆಯ ದುಂಡುಮೇಜಿನ ಸಭೆ ನಡೆಯಿತು. ಸಭೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ಪ್ರತಿನಿಧಿಗಳಾಗಿದ್ದ ಡಾ. ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ರವರು ಸಮಾನ ಪೌರತ್ವ, ಸಮಾನತೆಯ ಹಕ್ಕು, ಶಾಸಕಾಂಗಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಾತಿನಿಧ್ಯ, ಉದ್ಯೋಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಮೀಸಲಾತಿ ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ಬೇಡಿಕೆಗಳನ್ನೊಳಗೊಂಡ ಜ್ಞಾಪನ ಪತ್ರವೊಂದನ್ನು ದುಂಡುಮೇಜಿನ ಸಭೆಯ ಬಹುಮುಖ್ಯ ಸಮಿತಿಯಾದ ಅಲ್ಪಸಂಖ್ಯಾತರ ಸಮಿತಿಗೆ  ಸಲ್ಲಿಸಿದರು. ಸಭೆಯು ಮುಕ್ತಾಯವಾಗುವ ಮುನ್ನ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರರ ಬೇಡಿಕೆಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ  ಸಹಮತ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಪಡಿಸಿತು. ಒಂದರ್ಥದಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಥಮ ದುಂಡುಮೇಜಿನ ಸಭೆ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ  ಒಂದು ರೀತಿಯ ನೈತಿಕ ಜಯವನ್ನು ತಂದುಕೊಟ್ಟತು. ಏಕೆಂದರೆ ಈ ಸಭೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಪ್ರಥಮವಾಗಿ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರು ಬೇರೆ ಅಲ್ಪಸಂಖ್ಯಾತರ ರೀತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ  ಪ್ರತ್ಯೇಕ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಮತ್ತು ಸಾಂವಿಧಾನಿಕ ಹಕ್ಕು ಪಡೆಯಲು ಅರ್ಹರಾಗಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಎಂಬ ತೀಮರ್ಾನ ವ್ಯಕ್ತವಾಯಿತು. ಹಾಗೆಯೇ ಇದು ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರರಿಗೆ ಸಿಕ್ಕ ಪ್ರಥಮ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಯಶಸ್ಸು ಕೂಡ ಆಗಿತ್ತು.
ದುರಂತವೆಂದರೆ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರರ ಈ ಯಶಸ್ಸು ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ಸಿಗರ ಕೆಂಗಣ್ಣಿಗೆ ಗುರಿಯಾಯಿತು. ಹೀಗಾಗಿ ಎಲ್ಲಿ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರರ ಬೇಡಿಕೆಗಳು ಕಾನೂನಾಗಿ ರೂಪಿತವಾಗುತ್ತದೋ ಎಂದು ಆತಂಕಗೊಂಡ, ಮೊದಲ ದುಂಡು ಮೇಜಿನ ಸಭೆಗೆ ಕಾರಣಾಂತರಗಳಿಂದ ಗೈರಾಗಿದ್ದ ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ಸಿಗರು ಎರಡನೇ ದುಂಡುಮೇಜಿನ ಸಭೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಪಾಲ್ಗೊಳ್ಳಲು ನಿರ್ಧರಿಸಿ ಮಹಾತ್ಮಗಾಂದಿಯವರನ್ನು ತನ್ನ ಪ್ರತಿನಿಧಿಯಾಗಿ ಕಳುಹಿಸಿತು.
ಅಚ್ಚರಿಯೆಂದರೆ ಯಾವ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರನ್ನು ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ಪರ ಎಂದು ಬಿಂಬಿಸಲಾಗಿತ್ತೊ ಅದೇ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರು ಎರಡನೇ ದುಂಡುಮೇಜಿನ  ಸಭೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಅದೇ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ವಿರುದ್ಧ ನಿಂತರು! ಇದು ಯಾವ ಪರಿ ಎಂದರೆ ಸ್ವತಃ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ರವರೇ ಇದು ಶ್ರೀ ಗಾಂಧಿ ಮತ್ತು ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ಸು ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ವಿರುದ್ಧ ಸಾರಿದ  ಸಮರವಾಗಿತ್ತು ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಾರೆ! ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಯೇನೆಂದರೆ ಗಾಂಧಿ ಮತ್ತು ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ಸಿಗರು  ಹಾಗೇಕೆ ಮಾಡಿದರು?  ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ವಿರುದ್ಧ ಸಮರ ಸಾರುವ ಅಗತ್ಯವಾದರೂ ಏನಿತ್ತು? ಇದು ಸವಣರ್ೀಯ ಹಿಂದುಗಳು ಒಟ್ಟಾಗಿ  ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ಹಕ್ಕುಗಳನ್ನು ತುಳಿಯುವ ಹೀನ ಕೃತ್ಯವಾಗಿತ್ತೇ? ಮತ್ತು ಅಂತಹ ಕೃತ್ಯದ ನೇತೃತ್ವವನ್ನು ಸ್ವತಃ ಮಹಾತ್ಮಗಾಂಧಿಯವರೇ  ವಹಿಸಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದರೆ? ಮುಂದಿನ ಮಾತುಗಳು ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಸಾಕ್ಷಿ ಒದಗಿಸುತ್ತವೆ. ನವೆಂಬರ್ 13 1931 ರಂದು ದುಂಡುಮೇಜಿನ ಸಭೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾತನಾಡಿದ ಮಹಾತ್ಮಗಾಂಧಿಯವರ  ಆ ಮಾತುಗಳು ಒಂದರ್ಥದಲಿ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ಹೆಣದ ಮೇಲೆ ಹೊಡೆದ ಕೊನೆಯ ಮೊಳೆಗಳಂತೆ  ಕಂಡರೂ ಅಚ್ಚರಿ ಇಲ್ಲ! ಗಾಂಧಿಯವರ ಅಂದಿನ ಮನಸ್ಥಿತಿಯನ್ನು ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರರ ಮಾತುಗಳಲ್ಲೇ ಹೇಳುವುದಾದರೆ ಶ್ರೀ ಗಾಂಧಿಯವರು ಆವೇಶ ಭರಿತರಾಗಿದ್ದರು. ಈ ಅಲ್ಪಸಂಖ್ಯಾತರ (ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರು, ಮುಸಲ್ಮಾನರು, ಕ್ರೈಸ್ತರು, ಸಿಖ್ಖರು, ಆಂಗ್ಲೋಇಂಡಿಯನ್ನರು) ಒಡಂಬಡಿಕೆಯನ್ನು  ಸಿದ್ದ ಪಡಿಸುವುದರಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾಗವಹಿಸಿದ ಪ್ರತಿಯೊಬ್ಬರ ಮೇಲೂ ಅವರು ಹರಿ ಹಾಯ್ದರು. ಅದರಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ಅವರು ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಪ್ರತ್ಯೇಕ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಹಕ್ಕನ್ನು  ನೀಡುವುದನ್ನು ಉಗ್ರವಾಗಿ ಪ್ರತಿಭಟಿಸಿದರು! ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಾರೆ.
ಅಂದಹಾಗೆ ಸಭೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಆಕ್ರೋಶಗೊಂಡ  ಗಾಂಧಿಯವರು ಮಾತನಾಡುತ್ತಾ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ಪರವಾಗಿ ಮುಂದಿಡಲಾದ  ಈ ಬೇಡಿಕೆ (ಪ್ರತ್ಯೇಕ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಹಕ್ಕು) ನನ್ನನ್ನು ನಿರ್ದಯವಾಗಿ ಇರಿದಂತಿದೆ!  ಬೇಕಾದರೆ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರು ಇಸ್ಲಾಂ ಧರ್ಮಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋಗಲಿ, ಕ್ರೈಸ್ತ ಧರ್ಮವನ್ನಾದರೂ ಸೇರಲಿ, ನನ್ನದೇನು ಅಭ್ಯಂತರವಿಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೆ ಅವರಿಗೆ  ಪ್ರತ್ಯೇಕ ಮತದಾನ ಪದ್ಧತಿ ನೀಡುವುದನ್ನು ಖಂಡತುಂಡವಾಗಿ ವಿರೋಧಿಸುತ್ತೇನೆ ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಇದು ಯಾವ ಪರಿ ಎಂದರೆ ಭಾರತಕ್ಕೆ ಸ್ವಾತಂತ್ರ್ಯ ಕೊಡದಿದ್ದರೂ ಪರವಾಗಿಲ್ಲ  ಅಸ್ಫೃಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಪ್ರತ್ಯೇಕ ಮತದಾನ ಪದ್ಧತಿ ಕೊಡುವುದು ಮಾತ್ರ ಬೇಡ. ಹಾಗೇನಾದರೂ  ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಪ್ರತ್ಯೇಕ ಮತದಾನ ಪದ್ಧತಿ ಮತು ಮೀಸಲಾತಿ ಕೊಟ್ಟಿದ್ದೇ ಆದರೆ ಅದನ್ನು ನನ್ನ ಪ್ರಾಣವನ್ನೇ ಪಣವಾಗಿಟ್ಟು ವಿರೋಧಿಸುವೆ ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಾರೆ. ತಮ್ಮ ಈ ವಿರೋಧಕ್ಕೆ  ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರು  ಕೊಡುವ ಕಾರಣವಾದರೂ ಎನು? ಇದರಿಂದ ಹಿಂದೂ ಧರ್ಮದ ವಿಭಜನೆ ಯಾಗುತ್ತದೆ ಎಂದು!
ಯಾರನ್ನು ಮಹಾತ್ಮ ಎನ್ನಲಾಗುತ್ತಿತ್ತೋ, ಯಾರನ್ನು ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ಉದ್ಧಾರಕ ಎನ್ನಲಾಗುತ್ತಿತ್ತೋ ಅಂತಹವರಿಂದ ಹೊರಟ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯೋದ್ಧಾರದ ಮಾತುಗಳಿವು! ಹಾಗೇನಾದರೂ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರ ಮಾತೇ ಅಂತಿಮ ತೀಪರ್ು ಎನ್ನುವ ಹಾಗಿದ್ದರೆ ಆವತ್ತೆ  ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ಹಣೆಬರಹ ಏನೆಂದು ತೀಮರ್ಾನವಾಗಿರುತ್ತಿತ್ತು! ಆದರೆ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರ ಆ ರೋಷದ  ಮಾತುಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಅಷ್ಟಾಗಿ ತಲೆಕೆಡಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳದ ಸಭೆ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಅವರ ನ್ಯಾಯಬದ್ಧ ಹಕ್ಕುಗಳನ್ನು ನೀಡುವುದರ ಪರ ಇದ್ದಂತ್ತಿತು.್ತ ಅಲ್ಲದೇ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ಮೊದಲನೇ ಶತೃ ಸಾಕ್ಷಾತ್ ಗಾಂಧಿಜಿಯವರೇ ಎಂದು ಇಡೀ ಸಭೆಗೆ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿತಿಳಿದು ಹೋಯಿತು. ತಾನು ನೀಡುವ  ತೀಪರ್ಿಗೆ ಎಲ್ಲರೂ ಬದ್ಧ ರಾಗಿರಬೇಕೆಂದು ಒಪ್ಪಿಗೆ ಪಡೆದು ಎಲ್ಲರಿಂದಲೂ ಸಹಿ ಹಾಕಿಸಿಕೊಂಡ ಬ್ರಿಟಿಷ್ ಪ್ರಧಾನಿಯವರು ಎಲ್ಲರನ್ನು ಭಾರತಕ್ಕೆ ವಾಪಸ್ ಕಳುಹಿಸಿದರು.
ಇತ್ತ ಭಾರತಕ್ಕೆ ವಾಪಸ್ ಬಂದ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರು ಸುಮ್ಮನೆ ಕೂರಲಿಲ್ಲ್ಲ. ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ಬೇಡಿಕೆಗಳ ಪರ ನಿಂತಿದ್ದ ಮುಸಲ್ಮಾನರನ್ನು ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ವಿರುದ್ಧ ಎತ್ತಿಕಟ್ಟಲು ಯತ್ನಿಸಿದರು. ಆದರೆ ಪ್ರತಿಫಲ ಶೂನ್ಯವಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಇದನ್ನು ಸ್ವತಃ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ರವರೇ ಮುಸಲ್ಮಾನರು ಈ ಐತಿಹಾಸಿಕ ಪಿತೂರಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾಗಿಗಳಾಗಲು ನಿರಾಕರಸಿದ್ದರಿಂದ  ಈ ಯೋಜನೆ ವಿಫಲಗೊಂಡಿತು ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಾರೆ.
ಒಟ್ಟಾರೆ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರಿಂದ ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಯಾದ ಈ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಗೊಂದಲಗಳ ನಡುವೆ ಆಗಸ್ಟ್ 17 1932 ರಂದು ಬ್ರಿಟಿಷ್ ಪ್ರಧಾನಿ ರ್ಯಾಮ್ಸೆ ಮ್ಯಾಕ್  ಡೊನಾಲ್ಡ್ ಐತಿಹಾಸಿಕ ಕೋಮುವಾರು ತೀಪರ್ು ಪ್ರಕಟಿಸಿದರು. ಅದರಲ್ಲಿ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ರವರು ಕೇಳಿದ್ದ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ನ್ಯಾಯಬದ್ಧ ಬೇಡಿಕೆಗಳನ್ನು( ಪ್ರತ್ಯೇಕ ಮತದಾನ ಪದ್ಧತಿ, ಉದ್ಯೋಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಮೀಸಲಾತಿ, ಸಮಾನ ನಾಗರೀಕ ಹಕ್ಕು ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ) ಈಡೇರಿಸಲಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಹಾಗೇಯೇ ಹಿಂದೂ ಧರ್ಮ  ವಿಭಜನೆಯಾಗುತ್ತದೆಎಂಬ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರ ಆತಂಕವನ್ನು ದೂರಗೊಳಿಸಲು ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಎರಡು ಓಟು ಹಾಕುವ ಹಕ್ಕು ನೀಡಲಾಯಿತು! ಒಂದು ಓಟನ್ನು ತಮ್ಮವರು ಮಾತ್ರ ಸ್ಪಧರ್ಿಸುವ ಹಾಗೇ ತಾವೊಬ್ಬರೇ ಮಾತ್ರ ಮತ ಚಲಾಯಿಸುವ ಪ್ರತ್ಯೇಕ ಮತಕ್ಷೇತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ ಚಲಾಯಿಸಲು, ಮತ್ತೊಂದನ್ನು ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯ ಕ್ಷೇತ್ರದ ಅಭ್ಯಥರ್ಿಗಳ ಪರ ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯ ಮತ ಕ್ಷೇತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ ಚಲಾಯಿಸಲು ಅವಕಾಶ ನೀಡಲಾಯಿತು.  ಒಂದರ್ಥದಲಿ ಅಸ್ಪೃ ಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ನೀಡಲಾದ  ಈ ಎರಡು ಓಟು ಹಾಕುವ ಹಕ್ಕು ಶತಮಾನಗಳಿಂದ ನೊಂದವರಿಗೆ ಅಮೃತ ಸಿಕ್ಕ ಹಾಗೆ ಆಗಿತ್ತು.
ಒಟ್ಟಿನಲಿ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರರ ನ್ಯಾಯಬದ್ಧವಾದ, ತರ್ಕಬದ್ಧವಾದ ಬೇಡಿಕೆ ಮತ್ತು ಆ ಬೇಡಿಕೆಗೆ ಪೂರಕವಾಗಿ ಬ್ರಿಟಿಷ್ ಪ್ರಧಾನಿಯವರ ಬುದ್ಧಿವಂತಿಕೆಯ ತೀಮರ್ಾನ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯತೆಯ ಸಮಸ್ಯೆಯನ್ನು ಒಮ್ಮೆಲೆ ಕೊನೆಗಾಣಿಸುವ ಸದಾಶಯವನ್ನು ಇಡೀ ಭಾರತದಾದ್ಯಂತ ಬಿತ್ತಿತು.
ಆದರೆ? ಯಾವ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರನ್ನು ತಾವು  ಶತಮಾನಗಳಿಂದ ಶೋಷಿಸಿದ್ದೇವೆಯೋ ಅಂತಹ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಒಮ್ಮೆಲೇ ಅಮೃತ ಸಿಗುವುದನ್ನು ಯಾರು ತಾನೆ ಸಹಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಾರೆ? ಅದೂ ಸಾಕ್ಷಾತ್ ಮಹಾತ್ಮ ಗಾಂಧೀಜೀಯವರೆ ಆ ಗುಂಪಿನ ನಾಯಕರಾಗಿರುವಾಗ? ಅಲ್ಲದೆ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ನೀಡಲಾಗುವ ಅಂತಹ ಯಾವುದೇ ಸೌಲಭ್ಯವನ್ನು ನನ್ನ ಪ್ರಾಣವನ್ನೇ ಪಣವಾಗಿಟ್ಟು ವಿರೋಧಿಸುವೆ ಎಂದು ಅವರು ಮೊದಲೇ ತಿಳಿಸಿರುವಾಗ? ಅಕ್ಷರಶಃ ನಿಜ. ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯುವರು  ತಮ್ಮ ಆ ತೀಮರ್ಾನಕ್ಕ ಬದ್ಧ ರಾದರು. ಅಂತಹ ಬದ್ಧತೆಯ (ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರನ್ನು ತುಳಿಯುವ)  ಕಾರಣದಿಂದಲೇ ಸೆಪ್ಟೆಂಬರ್ 20 1932 ರಂದು  ಪೂನಾದ ಯರವಾಡ ಜೈಲಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಅಮರಣಾಂತ ಉಪವಾಸ  ಸತ್ಯಾಗ್ರಹ ಕುಳಿತರು. ಇದುವರೆಗೂ ತಾವು ಕೈಗೊಂಡಿದ್ದ 21 ಉಪವಾಸಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಒಮ್ಮೆಯೂ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ಪರ ಉಪವಾಸ ಕೈಗೊಳ್ಳದ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರು ಪ್ರಪ್ರಥಮವಾಗಿ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ವಿರುದ್ಧವೇ ಉಪವಾಸ ಪ್ರಾರಂಭಿಸಿದ್ದರು!
ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರ ಈ ಹೇಯ ಉಪವಾಸವನ್ನು ಅವರ ಶಿಷ್ಯನೊಬ್ಬ ಐತಿಹಾಸಿಕ ಮಹಾನ್ ಉಪವಾಸ ವೆಂದು ಬಣ್ಣಿಸಿದ! ಇಂತಹ ಈ ಬಣ್ಣನೆಗೆ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ ರವರ ಪ್ರತಿಕ್ರಿಯೆ ಹೀಗಿತ್ತು ಅದರಲ್ಲಿ ಐತಿಹಾಸಿಕ ಮಹತ್ತು ಏನಿದೆಯೋ ನಾನರಿಯೆ. ಈ ಕ್ರಿಯೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಶೌರ್ಯವೇನು ಇರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ನಿಜವಾದ ಅರ್ಥದಲ್ಲಿ ಅದು ಹೇಡಿಯ ಕೃತ್ಯವಾಗಿತ್ತು,. ಅದು ಕೇವಲ ದುಸ್ಸಾಹಸವೇ ಆಗಿತ್ತು. ತನ್ನ ಅಮರಣಾಂತ ಉಪವಾಸಕ್ಕೆ  ಬ್ರಿಟಿಷ್ ಸರಕಾರವೂ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರೂ ಗಢಗಢ ನಡುಗಿ ನೆಲಕಚ್ಚುವರೆಂದೂ, ತಮಗೆ ಅವರೆಲ್ಲ ಶರಣಾಗಿ ಬರುವರೆಂದೂ ಶ್ರೀಮಾನ್ ಗಾಂಧಿಯವರು ನಂಬಿದ್ದರು. ಆದರೆ ಅವರು (ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರು ಮತ್ತು ಬ್ರಿಟಿಷರು) ಧೃಡವಾಗಿಯೇ ಉಳಿದು  ಗಾಂಧಿಯವರನ್ನು ಪರೀಕ್ಷಿಸಬಯಸಿದರು. ಒಂದರ್ಥದಲಿ ಗಾಂಧಿಯವರ ಪರೀಕ್ಷೆಯೂ ಆಯಿತು!  ತಾನು ಹೊಂಚಿದ ಉಪಾಯ ಅತಿಯಾಯಿತೆಂದು ಗಾಂಧಿಯವರಿಗೆ ಮನವರಿಕೆಯಾದಾಗ  ಅವರ ಶೂರತನವು ಸೋರಿಹೋಗಿತ್ತು. ಅಸ್ಪಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ನೀಡಿರುವ  ಸೌಲಭ್ಯವನ್ನು ಹಿಂತೆಗೆಸಿ  ಅವರನ್ನು ಯಾವುದೇ ಸಹಾಯವಿಲ್ಲದ, ಯಾವುದೇ ಹಕ್ಕುಗಳಿಲ್ಲದ ನಿಕೃಷ್ಟರನ್ನಾಗಿ ಮಾಡುವವರೆಗೂ ನನ್ನ ಉಪವಾಸ ಮುಂದುವರೆಯುತ್ತದೆ ಎಂದು  ಪ್ರಾರಂಭವಾದ ಅವರ ಸತ್ಯಾಗ್ರಹ  ಕಡೆಗೆ ನನ್ನ ಜೀವ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಕೈಯಲ್ಲಿದೆ. ನನ್ನನ್ನು ಬದುಕಿಸಿ ಎಂದು ನನ್ನನ್ನು ಬೇಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವವರೆಗೆ ತಲುಪಿತು!  ಒಪ್ಪಂದಕ್ಕೆ ಸಹಿಹಾಕಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಅವರು ತುಂಬಾ ಹಪಹಪಿಸತೊಡಗಿದರು.  ಪೂನಾ ಒಪ್ಪಂದಕ್ಕೆ ಸಹಿಯಾಗದೆ ಬ್ರಿಟಿಷ್ ಪ್ರಧಾನಿಯವರ ಕೋಮುವಾರು ತೀಪರ್ು ರದ್ಧಾಗುತ್ತಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ.  ಪ್ರಾರಂಭದಲ್ಲಿ  ಶ್ರೀಮಾನ್ ಗಾಂಧಿಯವರು ಒತ್ತಾಯಿಸಿದ್ದು ಇದನ್ನೆ. ಹಾಗೆಯೇ ಕೋಮುವಾರು ತೀಪರ್ಿಗೆ ಪರ್ಯಾಯವಾಗಿ ಒಪ್ಪಂದದಲ್ಲಿ ಸೂಕ್ತ ಸಾಂವಿಧಾನಿಕ ರಕ್ಷಣೆಯನ್ನು ಸೇರಿಸಲಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಹೀಗಿದ್ದರೂ ಒಪ್ಪಂದಕ್ಕೆ ಸಹಿಮಾಡಲು ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರು ತೋರಿಸಿದ ಅವಸರ ಒಬ್ಬ ಧೈರ್ಯಗುಂದಿದ  ನಾಯಕ ತಮ್ಮ ಮಯರ್ಾದೆಯನ್ನು ಎಲ್ಲಕಿಂತ ಹೆಚ್ಚಾಗಿ ತಮ್ಮ ಪ್ರಾಣವನ್ನು ಉಳಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಪರದಾಡಿದ ರೀತಿಯಂತಿತ್ತು!
ಅಂದಹಾಗೆ ಶ್ರೀಮಾನ್ ಗಾಂಧಿಯವರ ಉಪವಾಸ ಕ್ರಿಯೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಶ್ರೇಷ್ಟವಾದುದು ಏನೂ ಇರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಅದೊಂದು ಕೀಳು ಹೊಲಸು ಕ್ರಿಯೆಯಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಅದು ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ಒಳಿತಾಗಿರದೆ ಅವರ ಅವನತಿಯ ಉದ್ದೇಶ ಹೊಂದಿತ್ತು.  ಅಸಾಹಯಕ ಜನರ ಮೇಲೆ ನಡೆಸಿದ ಅಧಮ್ಯ ದೌರ್ಜನ್ಯ ಅದಾಗಿತ್ತು.   ಬ್ರಿಟಿಷ್ ಪ್ರಧಾನಮಂತ್ರಿ ಅಸ್ಪಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ  ನೀಡಲು ಉದ್ದೇಶಿಸಿದ್ದ ಸಾಂವಿಧಾನಿಕ ಸೌಲಭ್ಯಗಳನ್ನು ಕಿತ್ತುಕೊಂಡು, ಸವಣರ್ೀಯರ ಆಳ್ವಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ  ಅಸ್ಪಶ್ಯರನ್ನು ಗುಲಾಮರನ್ನಾಗಿಸುವ ಉದ್ದೇಶಹೊಂದಿದ್ದ ಅಮರಣಾಂತ ಉಪವಾಸ ಅದಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಅದು ನೀಚ ಹಾಗು ದುಷ್ಟ ಕ್ರಿಯೆಯಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಇಂತಹ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಗಳನ್ನು ಪ್ರಾಮಾಣಿಕರೆಂದೂ, ನಂಬಲರ್ಹ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಗಳೆಂದೂ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರು ಹೇಗೆ ಹೇಳಲು ಸಾಧ್ಯ?
ಒಟ್ಟಿನಲಿ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರು ನಬಂಬಲನರ್ಹ ಎಂಬುದು ಇಡೀ ಜಗತ್ತಿಗೇ ಗೊತ್ತಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಅವರ ಡಬಲ್ ಗೇಮ್ನ ಹಿಂದಿರುವ ಸತ್ಯ ಇಡೀ ಜಗತ್ತಿಗೇ ಪರಿಚಯವಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಅಂದಹಾಗೆ ಹೇಗಾದರೂ ಮಾಡಿ ಜೀವ ಉಳಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳ ಬೇಕೆಂಬ ಧಾವಂತದಲ್ಲಿ ಗಾಂಧಿಯವರಿದ್ದರೆ ಈ ಸಂಧರ್ಭದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ ರವರ ಮನಸ್ಥಿತಿ ಹೇಗಿತ್ತು? ಅವರ ಮಾತುಗಳಲ್ಲೇ ಹೇಳುವುದಾದರೆ ನನ್ನ ಮಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ಹೇಳುವುದಾದರೆ ಅಂದು ನಾನು ಎದುರಿಸಿದ ಅತ್ಯಂತ ಗಂಭೀರ ಮತ್ತು ಅತೀವ ಉಭಯಸಂಕಟವನ್ನು ಬಹುಶಃ ಯಾರೂ ಎದುರಿಸಿರಲಿಕ್ಕಿಲ್ಲ. ಅದು ದಿಗ್ಭ್ರಮೆಗೊಳಿಸುವಂತಹ ಪ್ರಸಂಗವಾಗಿತ್ತು. ನನಗೆ ಎರಡು ಪರ್ಯಾಯ ಮಾರ್ಗಗಳಿದ್ದು ಅವುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ನಾನು ಒಂದನ್ನು ಅನುಸರಿಸಬೇಕಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಮಾನವೀಯತೆಯ ದೃಷ್ಟಿಯಿಂದ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರನ್ನು ಸಾವಿನ ದವಡೆಯಿಂದ ಪಾರುಮಾಡಬೇಕಾದ ಕರ್ತವ್ಯ ನನ್ನೆದುರಿಗಿತ್ತು, ಅಲ್ಲದೆ ಬ್ರಿಟಿಷ್ ಪ್ರಧಾನಿಯವರು ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಕೊಡಮಾಡಿದ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಹಕ್ಕುಗಳನ್ನು ರಕ್ಷಿಸುವ ಹೊಣೆಯೂ ನನ್ನ ಮೇಲಿತ್ತು. ಕಡೆಗೆ ನಾನು ಮಾನವೀಯತೆಯ ಕರೆಗೆ ಓಗೊಟ್ಟೆ! ಶ್ರೀಮಾನ್ ಗಾಂಧಿಯವರಿಗೆ ಒಪ್ಪಿಗೆಯಾಗುವಂತೆ ಕೋಮುವಾರು ತೀಪರ್ಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾಪರ್ಾಡುಮಾಡಲು ಒಪ್ಪಿಕೊಂಡೆ. ಈ ಒಪ್ಪಂದವನ್ನೆ ಪೂನಾ ಒಪ್ಪಂದ ಎಂದು ಕರೆಯಲಾಗಿದೆ.
ಹೀಗೆ ಗಾಂಧಿಜಿಯವರ ಪ್ರಾಣವನ್ನು ಉಳಿಸಲು ತನ್ನ ಜನರ ಹಿತವನ್ನೇ ಬಲಿಕೊಟ್ಟು  ಡಾ. ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ರವರು 1932 ಸೆಪ್ಟೆಂಬರ್  24 ರಂದು ಪೂನಾ ಒಪ್ಪಂದಕ್ಕೆ  ಸಹಿಹಾಕಿದರು.
ನೆನಪಿರಲಿ, ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿ ಮತ್ತು ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ರವರ ನಡುವೆ ನಡೆದ  ಈ ಒಪ್ಪಂದ ಕೂಡ ಅಂತರಾಷ್ಟೀಯ ಒಪ್ಪಂದವಾಗಿತ್ತು! ಖ್ಯಾತ ಚಿಂತಕ ವಿ.ಟಿ. ರಾಜಶೇಖರ್ ಜಾತಿಯನ್ನು ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರದೊಳಗಿನ ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರ ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಾರೆ ಈ ಪ್ರಕಾರ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರು ಸವರ್ಣ ಹಿಂದೂ ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರದ ಪ್ರತಿನಿಧಿಯಾದರೆ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ರವರು ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯ ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರದ ಪ್ರತಿನಿಧಿಯಾಗಿದ್ದರು!
ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರೇನೋ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಹೋರಾಟದ ಕಾರಣಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಅದಾಗಲೇ ಮಹಾತ್ಮ ಎನಿಸಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದರು. ಆದರೆ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್? ನಿಸ್ಸಂಶಯವಾಗಿ ಈ ಒಪ್ಪಂದದ ನಂತರ ಅವರು ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ಪ್ರಶ್ನಾತೀತ ನಾಯಕನಾಗಿ ಹೊರಹೊಮ್ಮಿದರು.  ಮಹಾತ್ಮ ಗಾಧಿಜಿಯವರೇ ತಮ್ಮ ನೈಜ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿತ್ವವನ್ನು ಪ್ರದರ್ಶನಕಿಟ್ಟು ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರ ವಿರುದ್ಧವೇ ಉಪವಾಸ ಕೂರಬೇಕಾದ ಸಂಧಿಗ್ಧ ಸಂಧರ್ಭ ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಸಿದ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರರ ತಂತ್ರ ಜಗತ್ತಿನಾದ್ತದ್ಯಂತ ಪ್ರಸಂಶೆಗೆ ಒಳಗಾಯಿತು.
ಇರಲಿ, ಈ ಒಪ್ಪಂದದಿಂದ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ದಕ್ಕಿದ್ದಾದ್ದರೂ ಎನು? ಕೋಮುವಾರು ತೀಪರ್ಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಸ್ತಾಪಿಸಿದ್ದ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಸಮಾನ ನಾಗರೀಕ  ಹಕ್ಕುಗಳನ್ನು ನೀಡುವ , ಸಕರ್ಾರಿ ಉದ್ಯೋಗಗಳಲ್ಲಿ  ಮೀಸಲಾತಿ ನೀಡುವ ತೀಮರ್ಾನಗಳನ್ನು  ಈ ಒಪ್ಪಂದ ಉಳಿಸಿಕೊಂಡಿತ್ತು. ಹಾಗೆಯೇ  ಮೀಸಲು ಕ್ಷೇತ್ರಗಳು ಕೂಡ ದೊರಕಿತ್ತು. ಕೊರತೆ ಏನೆಂದರೆ ಅಸ್ಫೃಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ನೀಡಲಾಗಿದ್ದ ಆ ಪವಿತ್ರ ಎರಡು ಓಟು ಹಾಕುವ ಹಾಗು ಪ್ರತ್ಯೇಕ ಮತದಾನ ಪದ್ಧತಿಯನ್ನು ಕಿತ್ತುಕೊಳ್ಳಲಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಅಮೃತ ಸಮಾನವಾಗಿದ್ದ ಇವು ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಧಕ್ಕದಂತೆ ತಡೆಯುವಲ್ಲಿ ಗಾಂಧಿಯವರು ನಡೆಸಿದ ಆ ಉಪವಾಸ ಸತ್ಯಾಗ್ರಹ ಯಶಸ್ವಿಯಾಗಿತ್ತು.
ಒಂದಂತು ನಿಜ, ಬಾಯಲ್ಲಿ ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯೋದ್ಧಾರದ ಮಂತ್ರ, ಬಗಲಲ್ಲಿ ಅವರನ್ನು ಸದೆಬಡಿಯಲು ದೊಣ್ಣೆ ಹಿಡಿಯುವ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರ ತಂತ್ರ ಪೂನಾ ಒಪ್ಪಂದದ ಮೂಲಕ ಬೀದಿಗೆ ಬಂದಿತ್ತು. ಅವರ ಈ ತಂತ್ರವನ್ನು ನೋಡಿಯೇ ಅಂಬೇಡ್ಕರ್ರವರು ಅವರನ್ನು ಯಶಸ್ವಿ ನಯವಂಚಕ ಎಂದಿರುವುದು. ಹೀಗಿರುವಾಗ ಅವರು ಅಂದರೆ ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರು ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಮಹಾತ್ಮ ಹೇಗಾಗುತ್ತಾರೆ? ಬೇಕಿದ್ದರೆ ಅವರು ಸವರ್ಣ ಹಿಂದೂಗಳ ಲೋಕದ ಮಹಾತ್ಮರಾಗಬಹುದು . ಅಸ್ಪೃಶ್ಯ ಲೋಕಕ್ಕಂತೂ ಖಂಡಿತ ಅಲ್ಲ!
ರಘೋತ್ತಮ ಹೊ. ಬ.
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