Dalit suffer a form of apartheid
In India the oldest racial group are the adivasis (first settler) or aboriginals, followed by Dravidians, they may have been indigenous to the sub-continent. According to Khuswant Singh it was Dravidians which drove out the aboriginals from the plains into Jungles and mountains. The Aryans inhabit the north India who came to Indian sub-continent from Central Europe and Central Asia.
Dravidians were driven to the south by Aryans. In India there are eight different religions are followed, namely Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Judaism. Hindus are 83 percent followed by Muslim 13 percent, Christians 2.3 percent and Sikhs 2 percent. According to Khuswant Singh the word Hindu does not appear in any of the sacred text of the Hindus. According to Doctor Radhakrishnan, interpreter of Hinduism, that it is a name without any content. Hindu strongly believe in caste system and is divided into four classes.
The classes are, Brahamins (priests and scholars), Kshathriyas (ruler and soldiers), Vaishyas (traders) and Sudras (servant class). According to philosopher Mann, the author of Dharma Shastra, the Brahamin is the lord of all castes, God caused them to proceed from his mouth, arms (Kshatriyas), thighs (Vaisyas) and the feet(Sudras).
Within their four major castes there are 2500 to 3000 sub-castes based upon occupation, geographic locations and there is another class Dalits also known as untouchables and scheduled caste. The mere touch of a Dalit is considered “polluting” to a caste member thus concept of “untouchability” was born. In Sanskrit the word “Dal” means to crack, to open and to split. In Marathi “Dalit” means ground, suppressed, crushed or broken to pieces. The word was first used by Jyotirao Phule in the context of oppression faced by erstwhile untouchables castes of twice born Hindus.
According the Hindu belief they were born untouchables as punishment for misbehavior in previous lives. They are also know a Dasyu, Dasa, Panchama and scheduled caste etc. Doctor Babasheb Ambedkar, a prolific among Dalits who did not trust the upper caste dominated politics therefore made a strong case for separate electorate for Dalits in the 1930s round table conference. On 13 October 1935 Doctor Ambedkar made a historic declaration of his resolve to renounce Hinduism.
He also concluded that the conflict between the touchable and untouchables is of permanent nature and is going to last forever. Doctor Ambedkar believed that only by destroying the caste system could “untouchability” be destroyed. In 1956 after rejecting Hinduism he converted to Buddhism.It was Gandhi who gave untouchables a new name, “Harijan” meaning the children of God. He would wash the feet of Harijans in his ashram. But Kushwant Singh is also of the view “yet he strongly enough, Gandhi obliquely supported the caste system”. According to Gandhi “I regard untouchables as the greatest blot on Hinduism”.
Nehru played an important role in making India a secular democracy and strangely he asked Doctor Ambedkar to draw/prepare Indian constitution. According to article 17 of the constitution of India, the practice of untouchability was abolished as a part of fundamental rights given to each citizen. After independence India’s new constitution identified groups of untouchables as “scheduled castes”. The preamble of Indian constitution proclaim the goals of social justice and equality. Contrary to all this for centuries Dalits are at the receiving end and living a miserable life in the so called shining India and facing centuries of discrimination in all walks of life.
Contrary to all this for centuries Dalits are at the receiving end and living a miserable life in the so called shining India and facing centuries of discrimination in all walks of life
They do the dirtiest job like cleaning sewerage lines, taking away dead animals, tanning leather, removers of human waste, street sweepers, cobblers and also tasks too menial or degrading to be performed. Dalits have suffered public shaming for generation at the hands of upper caste Hindus. Today Dalits are so low in the social hierarchy that they are outside of caste system and considered out castes. An untouchable cannot enter a Hindu temple or be taught or read. They are banned from drawing water from village wells because their touch would taint the water for everyone else.
An untouchable cannot eat in the same room or drink from the same well. Recently a Dalit boy Jitendra was killed for eating in front of upper caste men. Two children from Dalit community were beaten to death in Madhya Pradesh for defecating in public. In another incident in April 2019 a group of upper caste men killed a 21 years Dalit boy because he sat on a chair and ate in their presence at a wedding.
Even their marginalization can be seen in the tsunami in Tamil Nadu. The Dalits were made to suffer worst form of discrimination and humiliation as majority of Dalits were not paid compensation, excluded from make shifit camps. Even Dalits were prevented from drawing water from taps. In 2006 former prime minister Manmohan Singh described untouchability as blot on humanity and acknowledged that despite legal protection caste discrimination still exist throughout India. On 19 April 2005, UN decided to appoint two special representatives to examine the substantial and deep-rooted problem of caste based discrimination in India.
UN directed India government should take immediate steps to implement the recommendations of UN committee that persistent violence and discrimination against Dalits. In 2007 the European Union passed a resolution that found India’s enforcement of law to protect Dalits “grossly inadequate”. Also found that atrocities, illiteracy and inequality of opportunity, continue to blight the lives of India’s Dalits. The resolution called on the Indian government to end caste-based discrimination. Human Right Watch and the centre for Human Rights and Global Justice published a 113 pages report on Dalits. Report found that India systematically failed to up hold its international legal obligation to ensure the fundamental human rights of Dalits despite laws and policies against caste discrimination. Because of continued miseries there is long history of Dalit conversion to other religions like Islam, Buddhism and Christianity.
The India constitution protects Indian citizen right to choose and practice any religions they want, however the BJP enacted anti conversion laws in various states it rules. In 2013 in Gujrat 60000 Dalits converted to Buddhism, the BJP government of Gujrat ordered an investigation and arrested local Dalit leader. Doctor Ambedkar considered Islam the right religion of choice for Dalits before opting for Buddhism. Teachings of Islam are clear and categorical that there is no discrimination towards others as all human beings are equal. In Surah Al-Hujurat in Quran, Allah says “O mankind we have created you male and female and made you into nations and tribes so that you know one another.
The noblest of you in the sight of Allah is best in conduct”. A supremacist mindset gave birth to class distinction among Hindus, according to which superiority of Brahmins was established and all other human beings came to be regarded as inferior and unclean. The Dalits continue to survive under sub human and degrading conditions. They suffer from abuse and violence still Dalits encounter the tragedy of social exclusion and violence. According a report from Fact Checker in, an Indian organization that tracks violence found 90 percent of religion based hate crimes in the last decade occurred after Modi took office.
The Modi government is clearly serving the agenda of RSS rather than following the Indian constitution. The day is not far when all the minorities to include Dalits, Muslims. Christians and Sikhs will jointly start a struggle for rights/independence.
Courtesy : Daily Times