Narendra Modi fast is farce

18/09/2011

It is disappointing and shameful the way BJP and some of its allies have exhibited their support for Narendra Modi’s fast for ‘atma shuddhi’ and ‘sadbhavna’. Gujarat Congress leader Shankar Singh Vaghela has also gone on fast though without much notice of the media. Vaghela comes from the Hindutva background and understand very well the tricks of the game. Those who have read the Supreme Court order know it well that it has given instruction to authorities to file cases as per the SIT report. There is every option for the people to again go the court and seek justice if the local authorities in Gujarat again try to subvert justice. However, the issue here is much bigger and the way the entire game is being played, it has wider political repercussions too and need political understanding of the entire game.

While every political party is free to go for its political campaign and can approach any community in India, however there are a few questions before that. In a democratic society there is no space for fasting which is nothing but an act of blackmail and side tracking the real issues. Therefore political battles have to be fought politically and not through apolitical blackmails. Fasting is nothing but re-imposition of the brahmanical values on India. Right from the period of Gandhi all the symbols adopted and exhibited for fasting are brahmanical and widely open to interpretation without saying directly. The war cries during these fasts are so loud that any one who oppose them genuinely face threat of physical intimidation. So, the non violent fasts are actually more violent than the physical violence as they expose your vulnerability.

Anyone who has seen the ‘progress’ and ‘peace’ in Gujarat can vouch for Narendra Modi. Gujarat is a very prosperous state and there is little doubt about that. But this is also a fact that it was so much before Narendra Modi as dominant Gujaratis are business mind and they have succeeded in their business world over. But has the business mind in Gujarat really brought a change in the ‘mindset’ of common Gujarati which Narendra Modi and others in the Sangh Parivar boast so much? Can we say that Gujarat is a state which has no discrimination and every body live in peace? Yes, because the Gujarat which Narendra Modi boast and develop actually is a Gujarat of Varna Vyavastha, of caste system and none of them have the courage to stand against that. If we ask these questions and make a checklist then the reality would exactly the opposite. Are inter caste marriages common in Gujarat and the answer is a big no. Similarly, we all know the fate of people marrying beyond their religious identity. So what has changed in Gujrat Mr Modi? Yes, all the Babas, and Sadhus are more popular than ever in Gujarat. The sas-bahus idiocies are too popular in Gujarat and therefore bollywood jump in that market.

If you compare Gujarat with Punjab then the differences will be sharp. Gujarati’s are businessmen but by heart not as open as the Sikhs. Sikhs also prospered and traveled world over like Gujaratis have much wider community sense than Gujaratis. They have also developed business and entrepreneurship. But see the difference. The progress in Punjab is over all and inclusive while in Gujarat it is exclusive and those living in margins are still living the same way. Today, the Dalits in Punjab whether it is the Mazhabis or Ravidasis are much better and liberated than their counterparts in Gujarat. Go to any Dalit basti in Gujarat particularly the Valmikis and you can hear the story of the racial prejudices in Gujarat.  In Punjab too they face discrimination against the vary tenants of Guru Granth Saheb yet Dalits retaliate in Punjab. They have their own Gurudwaras and strong community leadership has emerged.

Gujarat is not just Anand, Ahmedabad, Baroda or Surat. Gujarat is also Kheda, Porbandar, Kutchch and other tribal regions. Ask those regions about the changes and you will realize it.

Narendra Modi claims that there were no communal riots in Gujarat since 2002. Yes, there could not have been as the entire state machinery was used so much against the minorities that their life became hell and economy totally collapsed. It take time to rebuild in a state where a complete economic embargo was put on Muslims and Christians. Don’t we know that before the Muslim became direct target of the Hindutva brigade, it were the Christians, their churches and institutions that came under sharp attack from the Hindutva gangs who had clearly got state patronage.

Gujarat is very unfortunate in many way. Unfortunate because the cocktail of corporate and religion is working wonder in Gujarat. The powerful upper castes in Gujarat are more than ever powerful. They have migrated abroad. The condition of Dalits and tribal is so bad that none of them have power to stand up at the moment. Most of them have either state government jobs or at maximum private jobs owned by Patels, Sidhis and Jains whose political sympathies with Hindutva are well known to be described here. The Dalits even if they want to revolt may not be able to do so under the grave economic pressure. That has happened in a very systematic way. Whenever the Dalits organize their rallies and programme, their activities are watched and observed and later they are isolated. The economic dependency has hampered their movement for a different political understanding other than the upper caste parties of Congress and BJP. Muslims in Gujarat seems not to have any other option than switching their loyalty here and there as their condition is the worst.

Modi’s supporters are proposing Gujarat model for development. One does not know in which world they love. Can Gujarat be really called a developed state? A good state for investment and a better governed state are two different dynamics. If Gujarat is so good that every international company are vying to be here then why the Gujaratis living in Africa, Europe and Americas come back to their original land and restrengthen it. Why they still need to go abroad to earn much.

Gujarat riots were engineered to break the backbone of Muslim business. It is the basic tendency of the Hindutva protagonists to engineer riots where the Muslims had a sizeable business presence and the result from various communal riots reflect that. The isolation of Muslims in Gujarat was complete. If peace comes at the cost of leaving in submission and subjugation then Modi and his fanatic friends must understand that it will not be. Injustice anywhere is a threat to peace. If people are unable to get justice in the political set up then obviously it breed communalism on both the sides.

Today, Narendra Modi condemns communalism and caste-ism. He blames the policy of appeasement in the past sixty years. The fact is that India has been ruled by the upper caste upper elite during all these years Mr. Modi. And if he means that Indian state has appeased Muslims and given some thing special then Modi must understand that Muslims face the worst form of discrimination in the government jobs and private corporations. Even taking a house on rent is difficult to get and finally the person has to find the ‘Muslim’ locality’. Such ghettosiation helps the communal politicians and their leaders as the more the communication gap between the two communities the bigger the business of these loud mouths who shout at each other posing a threat from the opposing sides.

There is no denying the fact that India need to move forward. And for it the shortsighted policies must go. For this, the tamasha of fasting must stop. All these fast are meant against some one. Most of these fast are done by the caste Hindus to regain and retain their leadership and stop the others from gaining any right. Gandhi’s fast against untouchability was a betrayal to Ambedkar’s struggle for social justice and Dalits which he so valiantly fought. Anna’s fast looked intimidating to the Dalits, OBCs, and Muslims of India. Now Modi is fasting to cleanse himself while Congress too is fasting.

The political battles are to be fought politically but when the politics is just an adjustment and calculation then we can expect anything sincere from the political class which has become expert in saying things according to its convenience.

In the Gujarat University campus, sharing platform with Modi were various political leaders. Modi say ‘ India is run through constitution’, now this is another statement. Why any one has to host tricolor in India or say Vandemataram. While Modi’s supporters have not started following Anna, but such tactics are clear enough in projecting one particular community or people who disagree as traitors. When you say that India is run through constitution, it is because you want to communicate that you have been exonerated by the highest court of the land which is absolutely farcical. The Supreme Court’s Judgment has not exonerated Modi. In fact, Supreme Court must take a suo moto cognigence of such blatant lies and misinterpretations of its order.

We all know the agenda of the Hindutva protagonists. Most of them do not have faith in the constitution of India. Modi feel that the past 60 years India appeased to different castes and religion. Modi hate castes because it is obstructing his way. May be true because he is not a powerful Patel of Gujarat and at the initial phase the Patel lobby had actually tried to overthrow him.

Gujarat may be having a high growth rates but Gujarat’s Dalits and Adivasis too want Gujarati’s to leave their caste mind. The narrowness of Gujarat’s caste mindset can not be matched to openness in Punjab which a Dalit can feel. And in Punjab the Dalits too retaliate and react if they are under assault. We can not expect that in Gujarat at the moment. The openness that the Muslims have in Uttar-Pradesh and Bihar is much bigger than the peace of Gujarat. The blending of Muslims in the Ganga Jamuni culture is tremendous and despite all problems they too can retaliate when time comes. If Modi say that there were no curfew in Gujarat it is because the social ostracisation of marginalized communities in Gujarat completed with Modi. Along with Modi all the Gujaratis should atone for their caste mind. Gujarati’s want to enjoy liberty and freedom elsewhere but they do not want to give the same in their own state Mr Modi. So, these tamasha being oraganised in Gujarat will serve little purpose.

The problem of Gujarat is multifold. The oppression and control of the poor of Gujarat is complete. They will revolt against the elite of Gujarat who have Modi as their hero. That day is not far over. The so-called governance will then crumble. As far as the media is concern, the least say about them is the best. They were the most fascinating observer of YSR Rajshekar Reddy, the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and today they can see YSR and his corrupt regime. So, Modi is good for them as he serves their interest. Let us ask a question to Modi what radical changes has he made in the lives of a common Gujarati? What is the standard of an ordinary road transport bus of Gujarat? Is it a better transport service than Rajasthan or Haryana? What about the college education in Gujarat? Is it providing better research than others? Yes, Gujarat is have business mind and that is why they can claim to have an IIM in Ahemdabad and one for the rural development in Anand. But what about the common education in school? What about the Panchayats in Gujarat?

Finally, Mr Modi, so many people were arrested under POTA in Gujrat, particularly in Godhra. I have visited those families and seen their pain. Old, young, visually impaired, we have seen people virtually living in deep dejection and isolation. How will they get justices who are in jail without any trial? How will people react if so many people without trials are in your jails on the one side while on the other side those who should have been behind the bar, are enjoying the fruits of power.

Yes, Mr Modi, caste was not discovered sixty years ago. It is a heritage that you feel proud. All those rishis, munis, sadhus and sanyasis that you bring on your stage and shout Bharat Mata ki Jaya are afraid of caste. They know it better that today thank to constitution of India these people are now standing up and reacting. Yes, Ambedkar’s constitution have given them power, understanding that in democracy number matters and it is here all the good friends of Narendra Modi are afraid of. Not of Modi but so-called opponents are also afraid of that weapon as the real threat to India according to them, does not come from Pakistan but the assertion of Dalit Bahujan. It is actually this feeling which is disturbing India’s ruling elite whether it is Kapil Sibol or Chidambaram or Jayalalitha-Advani and Modi. In this historic war, Muslims are simply becoming the tool to be used. They have to decide which side of the war are they on. It is not a war between Congress or BJP. It is actually a war between India’s minority upper caste elite and those who have suffered India caste based hidden apartheid. The power elite in India is desperate at the moment and looking for some savior such as Anna Hazare or Narendra Modi. Fortunately, India is such a diverse and huge country that despite all the propaganda material at their disposal they know it well, things are not that simple which our news channels want us to believe. Yes, India’s poor understand all these forces much better than those who make their opinion through TV channels. This desperation will not work. The upper caste upper elite in India need to believe in democratic set up and not try to subvert it through desperate means as end of democracy will only open caste anarchy in India. Let us not allow India to go the Afghanistan way by such short sighted policies of ignoring important division and genuinely addressing those issues. For the sake of a few leaders, a country’s unity cannot be put on stake. Coming days are more challenging for India as we need to see whether the perpetrators of crime will be punished as per law of the land or will they use this opportunity to take power in their own hands in the name of people’s verdict by creating hysterical situation and total polarization on religious line. The idea of India is under the threat.

http://nvonews.com/2011/09/17/narendra-modi-fast-is-farce/comment-page-1/


HINDUTVA

02/11/2010

HINDUTVA (Hindu-Nazism) is a nationalist political philosophy that was defined primarily by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966), President of the ABHM (Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha = All India Hindu Assembly), along with K B Hedgewar & M S Golwalkar (1st & 2nd RSS chiefs), who were all enthusiastic admirers of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”:

– “From the Indus to the Himalayas, from the Himalayas to Tibet, from Tibet to Burma and from Burma to the Southern and Western seas run the lines of the boundaries of our Land.”, V D Savarkar, ABHM 21st Session, 1939;

– “The foreign races in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment – not even citizen’s rights.”, M S Golwalkar, 2nd RSS chief (1940-1973), 1938;

– “…if we Hindus in India grow stronger in time these Moslem friends of the league type will have to play the part of German-Jews … India must be a Hindu land, reserved for the Hindus.”, V D Savarkar, ABHM 20th Session, 1938;

– “…the Indian Mahommedans, Jews, Christians, Parsees, etc. are excluded from claiming themselves as Hindus”, V D Savarkar, ABHM 19th Session, 1937;

– “The RSS’ only aim is to polarise the Indian masses on communal lines, wherever possible in order to awaken a dormant Hindi nationalism”, K B Hedgewar, 1st RSS chief (1925-40);

– “All Hindutva opponents will get the death sentence”, Praveen Togadia, VHP secretary-general, Dec. 2002;

ORGANIZATIONS that champion Hindutva/Hindu-Nazism are known as the Sangh Parivar (Sangh Family) & include:

– the ABHM political party;

– the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) political party which is an offshoot of ABHM;

– the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh = National Volunteers’ Organisation) within India itself which was founded in 1925 by V D Savarkar’s deputy K B Hedgewar;

– the Rashtra Sevika Samiti (= National Women Voluteers’ Committee) which is the RSS’s women’s wing;

– the HSS (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh = Hindu Volunteers’ Organisation) which is the RSS’s main international wing;

– the ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad = All India Students’ Council) which is the RSS’s youth wing for students;

– the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad = World Hindu Council) which is an RSS-inspired Indian & international wing;

– the Durga Vahini (= Army of Durga) which is the VHP’s women’s wing;

– the Dharma Raksha Manch (= Religion Protection Forum) which is the VHP’s new wing for Hindu priests, holy men & “saints”;

– the HSC (Hindu Students’ Council) which is the VHP’s youth wing for students in the USA & Canada;

– the Bajrang Dal (= [Hanuman’s] Monkey Brigade) which is the VHP’s youth wing;

– even more extreme Hindu-Nazi organizations include Shiv Sena, Sri Ram Sena, Rahtriya Hindu Sena, Rashtra Raksha Sene, Hindu Munnani, Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu JanaJagruti Samiti.

Hindutva/Hindu-Nazi organizations claim it as a right, & indeed a duty, to impose their ideology throughout “Akhand Bharat”/”Akhand Hindustan” (i.e. “Undivided India” including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal & Bhutan, but not Myanmar/Burma). This would mean the forced conversion or expulsion or elimination of over 450 million non-Hindus in the region.

NOTORIOUS contemporary Hindutva/Hindu-Nazis include:

– Bal Thackeray (1926-), founder and chief of the Shiv Sena, who has called for the rise of Hindu terrorism & a Hitler-like dictatorship in India;

– K S Sudarshan (1931-), sarsanghachalak (appointed leader) of the RSS, who has said Muslm, Christian & Communist activities in India “must be curbed with an iron hand”;

– Narendra Modi (1950-), BJP Chief Minister of Gujarat & probable future president of the BJP, who has been implicated in the 2002 Gujurat violence that killed more than 1,000 people, injured about 2,500 & displaced about 150,000;

– Praveen Togadia (1957-), International General Secretary of the VHP, who has threatened death to opponents of Hindutva;

– Pramod Muthalik (1963-), founder of the Sri Ram Sena, Rahtriya Hindu Sena & Rashtra Raksha Sene, who claims to have over 1,100 Hindu suicide attackers in training.

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Sources: http://www.hindustanglobe.com/?page_id=324


RSS organisations linked to terror activities: Pranab

02/11/2010

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Congress-claims-proof-says-RSS-involved-in-terror/Article1-621037.aspx


Terrorism and Hindus not related to each other: Bhagwat

27/10/2010

 

NEW DELHI Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has taken a strong exception to the use of the term ‘saffron or Hindu terror’ and said terrorism and Hindus cannot be related to each other. Addressing the annual Dussehra rally here, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said, “Terrorism and Hindus are the oxymoron and can never be related to each other. This was an attempt to weaken strength of the Hindus in India and at the same time to appease the Muslims.”
A handful of incidents involving Hindus were reported and for that to blame the entire Hindu community was improper and unjust, Bhagwat said. Bharatiya Janata Party national president, Nitin Gadkari was also present at the occasion. PTI
BJP’s Nitin Gadkari at the RSS rally
http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Archive&Source=Page&Skin=pastissues2&BaseHref=MMIR/2010/10/18&PageLabel=12&EntityId=Ar01203&ViewMode=HTML&GZ=T

 

 


Hindutva group upstages ‘humorous play’

27/10/2010
Publication: The Times Of India Mumbai; Date: Oct 21, 2010; Section: Times City; Page: 4

Hindutva group upstages ‘humorous play’

 

Suprateek Chatterjee TNN

Mumbai: The self-proclaimed sentinels of Hindu pride are at it again. A comic play centred on a village Ramlila was recently taken off stage after a protest by a Hindutva group for ostensibly showing Ram and Sita in poor light.

‘Raavan Leela’, which debuted in Mumbai in August, is a lighthearted play about a traditional village Ramlila gone wrong. It depicts a situation wherein the actor playing Raavan refuses to die in the end over financial disagreements with the organizer. “It is a slightly exaggerated version of the Ramlila that happens in small towns and villages. Actors are often untrained, female roles are sometimes played by men and things go wrong on stage. That is all we have tried to portray in a humorous manner,” says Om Katare, director of the play and founder of theatre group Yatri.

Though critically praised, the play did not find admirers in the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, which claimed that it offends Hindu sentiments. On September 5, around 15 members of the group protested against the staging of ‘Raavan Leela’ at the Mysore Association Auditorium in Matunga (E). “They demanded that we cancel the show,” said Madhu Sudan, manager of the auditorium.

Narendra Surve, chief karyakarta of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, said, “This play shows our great epic Ramayana in poor light. It has distorted portrayals of our deities which will mislead young people who come to watch this play. Also, the characters use bad language against each other; Raavan’s character calls Ram ‘kambakht’, for example.”

Following the protest, Katare and Sudan say, the group led by Surve threatened to damage auditorium property should there be another show of the play. The members of the Hindutva group also tried to lodge a police complaint at Matunga police station, which was dismissed. “As the play was cleared by the censors, the police did not need to take any action,” said Sunil Deshmukh, senior inspector, Matunga police station.

Rattled by the dustup, the auditorium has cancelled future shows of the play. “We have no objections against anything in the play, but we would rather not invite trouble,” said Sudan.

Katare said, “I’ve tried initiating a dialogue about what exactly they find objectionable so that we can edit it out. But they’ve refused, calling our entire play obscene.”

Well-known theatre personality Mahesh Dattani, whose play ‘Sara’ was targeted by Hindu right-wingers for being based on the life of Pakistani poet Sara Shagufta a few months ago, said: “This is a very dangerous trend because plays are softer targets than, say, films. Even if we use legal recourse, the problem is that these guys work on muscle power and police protection isn’t always possible. Theatre groups and artistes need to join hands against such extra-constitutional censorship.”

FINAL ACT: ’Raavan Leela’, a light-hearted play, was taken off stage by an auditorium after receiving threats from a Hindutva group

 

http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=VE9JTS8yMDEwLzEwLzIxI0FyMDA0MDI%3D

 


Not just Hindu raj, Ambedkar opposed every argument for Partition as well

22/10/2010

Amid the heat generated by the Muslim League’s Lahore resolution on Pakistan and the extreme reactions across the subcontinent, the sole dispassionate voice was that of Dr B.R. Ambedkar. Pakistan or Partition of India (1940), his full-length book, became a reference treatise for all those engaged with the issue, including the main dramatis persona, M.A. Jinnah. For others, however, it remained unduly controversial. For Ambedkar, Muslims were not the worst victims of the Hindu society. They had a better deal compared to the untouchables. The book was such that any casual or motivated reader could easily pick up stray pieces to support his own hypothesis. Hence, many distortions are in vogue but the commonplace impression is that Ambedkar supported Partition. On the contrary, he demolished all arguments for the creation of Pakistan. Admitting the communal antagonism between Hindus and Muslims, he demonstrated that it could not be a valid reason for a partition of the country. With examples of Canada, South Africa and Switzerland, where antagonistic communities lived amicably under a single Constitution, he dismissed the inevitability of Pakistan merely on the grounds of a communal divide. The two-nation theory as the basis for Pakistan was also refuted by Ambedkar. While noting that Muslims were advancing from the state of community to that of a nation, he contended that it did not necessarily constitute the basis for Pakistan. Even if the Muslims were assumed to be a nation, it did not warrant a Pakistan since India had not yet lost its ‘organic filaments’. While admitting that India too was not a nation, he disagreed with those including Jinnah who thought that India could not become one. Those who argued for Partition, he wrote, were guided by colonialist writers who emphasised differences between people and ignored the forces that bound them together. Ambedkar also thought the Muslim apprehension that Swaraj would become a Hindu raj untenable because the Muslims had already reconciled to living in the more rabid Hindu raj sustained by Hindu princes against whom the Muslim League had never raised any objection. He did not see much substance in the political objection of the Muslims that Hindu society was undemocratic simply because they were not its worst victims. The Muslims, he observed, enjoyed a much better deal compared to people from the untouchable castes. While he was skeptical about the innate imperialist characteristics of Hinduism creating accommodative conditions for the peaceful coexistence of minorities, he did not spare the Muslims for their own minority communalism. For him, the abolition of parties like the Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha and formation of a mixed party of Hindus and Muslims was the only effective way of burying the ghost of Hindu raj. He did not perceive much difficulty in the formation of such a party based on the material conditions of the majority. In fact, such political unity was achieved between 1920 and 1937 when in most provinces the Muslims, non-Brahmins and depressed classes worked as a team under the Montague-Chelmsford Reforms. Having dispelled the validity of the Muslims’ misgiving that they would be persecuted under Hindu raj, Ambedkar did not rule out the possibility of the emergence of the latter when he prophetically declared: “If Hindu raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt be the greatest calamity for this country. No matter what the Hindus say, Hinduism is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. It is incompatible with democracy. Hindu raj must be prevented at any cost.” Ambedkar struck at the root of the Muslim argument that the creation of Pakistan would solve the communal problem. He termed the Muslim League’s Pakistan scheme a political perversion because instead of solving the problem of minority Muslims, it made them more vulnerable and favoured the majority Muslims who did not need or deserve it. Pakistan was unnecessary for Muslims in areas where they were a majority and worse than useless for Muslims where they were a minority. On December 15, 1946, in his maiden speech in the Constituent Assembly, he hoped that some day the light would dawn upon Muslims and “they, too, would begin to think that a united India was better for everybody.” Secularism and democracy were the sole basis of coexistence. In the crowd of small and big villains of the Partition drama, Ambedkar stands out as the only hero, a true statesman.

Courtesy: 




Ambedkar In The Times Of Hindutva: S. Anand

25/07/2010

Five dalits are lynched by a Hindu mob. Their alleged crime: skinning a cow. The reporters and analysts who express shock and outrage do not go beyond stating that the dalits were doing what they have been traditionally doing: selling the dead cow’s hide to make a living.

Five dalits are lynched by a Hindu mob. Their alleged crime: skinning a cow. The reporters and analysts who express shock and outrage do not go beyond stating that the dalits were doing what they have been traditionally doing: selling the dead cow’s hide to make a living. There are few who want to explore the historical relationship between the cow, the brahmin and the origins of untouchability.

The caste Hindu common sense is that eating beef is a taboo for the Hindus. The common sense also takes untouchability for granted, as something sanatan (permanent, eternal). For the Hindus, the cow is sacred. And what is daubed with sacredness is beyond the pale of argument. Then what about those who eat beef, the dalits? Are they Hindus? When did they start eating beef? Why did the brahmins for whom every day was probably a beef-steak day in the vedic period give up beef and meat altogether?

In 1948 Bhim Rao Ambedkar sought some serious answers to these and other questions, answers which have been neglected by the mainstream academia and intelligentsia. Here, we present the answers that Ambedkar sought in a context where at one end (Tamil Nadu) dalits today are being forced to eat shit and drink urine, and at another (Haryana) dalits are being forced to pay with their lives for doing what they have been condemned to do – eat the meat of the dead cow and use its skin for making leather products.

(In Thinniam, a village in the Tiruchi district of Tamil Nadu, on May 21 two dalits were forced to eat dried human shit when they insisted on the right to a house for which they had paid money to the caste Hindu village panchayat president. The news was under-reported. Within a few months a dalit in Nilakottai, Dindigul district, was forced to drink urine in public. At the other extreme the hindutva lobby is delighted to get cow-urine therapy patented in the US.)

Even Ambedkar would not have visualised such a scenario. He records several crimes against dalits but not ones where they were forced to eat shit or lynched for skinning a dead cow. His investigations into the origins of untouchability bear a lot of significance on how we understand what happened in Jhajjar or in Thinniam. In the preface to his work The Untouchables: Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables? — from where we have excerpted much of what is featured here – he dwells at length on why brahmins and caste Hindus have neglected this area of research:

“Notwithstanding the attitude of the Brahmin scholars, I must pursue the task I have undertaken. For the origin of these classes is a subject which still awaits investigation … That the Hindus should not have undertaken such an investigation is perfectly understandable. The old orthodox Hindu does not think that there is anything wrong in the observance of untouchability. To him it is a normal and natural thing. As such it neither calls for expiation nor explanation. The new modern Hindu realises the wrong. But he is ashamed to discuss it in public for fear of letting the foreigner know that Hindu Civilisation can be guilty of such a vicious and infamous system or social code as evidenced by Untouchability…

“This book may, therefore, be taken as a pioneer attempt in the exploration of a field so completely neglected by everybody. The book, if I may say so, deals not only with every aspect of the main question set out for inquiry, namely, the origin of Untouchability, but it also deals with almost all questions connected with it. Some of the questions are such that very few people are even aware of them; and those who are aware of them are puzzled by them and do not know how to answer them. To mention only a few, the book deals with such questions as:

“Why do the Untouchables live outside the village? Why did beef-eating give rise to Untouchability? Did the Hindus never eat beef? Why did non-Brahmins give up beef-eating? What made the Brahmins become vegetarians, etc. To each one of these, the book suggests an answer. It may be that the answers given in the book to these questions are not all-embracing. Nonetheless it will be found that the book points to a new way of looking at old things.”

That Ambedkar’s work did not get the attention and the follow-up it deserved is something he seems to have anticipated. He wrote in the same preface:

“If any non-Brahmin were to make such an attempt the Brahmin scholars would engage in a conspiracy of silence, take no notice of him, condemn him outright on some flimsy grounds or dub his work useless. As a writer engaged in the exposition of the Brahmanic literature I have been a victim of such mean tricks.”

And today, as we seek to correct this historical neglect – which partly makes us responsible for what happened in Jhajjar and Thinniam – we can only hope that reading Ambedkar will offer us a way to understand and fight not only the fundamentalism of the obvious kind around us (in the form of VHP/ RSS/ BJP), but also the fundamentalism in us.

OUTLOOK, WEB | OCT 22, 2002