There aren’t many luminaries who’ve been part of our nationwide conscience like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and B R Ambedkar have been. Amongst them, Ambedkar stands out due to his background, and the deeply entrenched caste system that he fought in opposition to.
Ambedkar was by no means a sectional hero; he was, and has been, a common icon of liberty, equality, and fraternity. All political events—from the Left to Proper—think about Ambedkar a champion of the marginalised, disadvantaged, and dispossessed. Deep-rooted caste hierarchies, which had been an unpleasant reality throughout his time, stay a actuality even immediately, although many would argue that with elevated urbanisation and free market, caste has weakened to an incredible extent.
The Covid-19 pandemic makes Ambedkar’s beliefs and teachings particularly related due to the large push to the concept of “social distancing”.
“Social distancing” has been related to Hindu orthodoxy for lengthy. Purity and air pollution had been thought-about an integral a part of the standard, inflexible caste system. With a renewed thrust on “social distancing”, are we, unwittingly, endorsing an unequal social order?
All the Indian political spectrum—the Left, Congress, BSP, BJP, and newer gamers like Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan and Jignesh Mevani—swear by Ambedkar’s beliefs, and discuss his contributions on his start and demise anniversary. Nevertheless, we hardly ever have a good time the day when his all-important undelivered speech Annihilation of Caste was revealed.
Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste greatest explains what’s improper with the Hindu caste system, and what must be finished to create an equal social order.
Ambedkar believed that to make a democratic and equal Hindu social order, we have to vigorously encourage inter-caste eating and inter-caste marriages. And we have to query, nay disown, the non secular texts that sanction social discrimination.
The BSP, based by Kanshi Ram, has typically accused the Congress and the BJP of being manuvadi. In its prime, BSP painted Uttar Pradesh blue with a whole bunch of Ambedkar statues—symbolising Dalit satisfaction. It, nevertheless, by no means championed social change, content material because it was with political empowerment. The newbies, together with Azad, and Mevani, take up Dalit causes, however are but to seek out their ft.
The Left has by no means actually addressed the problem of caste and caste discrimination, in earnest. Have a look at the composition of CPM politburo, as a living proof. Belatedly, some pupil teams are experimenting with mixing Ambedkarite and Left philosophies.
The Congress, historically an umbrella get together, was dwelling to all castes and communities, however critics say that the Dalits within the get together had been by no means groomed to be rulers. As a substitute, the traditional patron-client association was at all times at play within the Congress. Little surprise then that with the ascension of the BSP in UP, there was a near-total shift of Congress’s Dalit help base within the state.
Within the BJP, now the pivot of the political system, the association was qualitatively completely different. The Ram Janmabhoomi motion of the early 1990s sought to create a unified Hindu identification. A Dalit laying the inspiration stone of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya was touted to have an incredible symbolic worth.
At the moment, the BJP claims to have the most important illustration of Dalit MPs. Beneath Narendra Modi, the BJP has discovered favour with the OBCs, and sections of Dalits, along with its conventional higher caste vote.
What has the BJP, nevertheless, finished for the Dalits? A celebration that’s basically Hindu-first (whereas selling sabka saath, sabka vikas) owes to Dalits to create a democratic social order.
A Dalit President and Ambedkar memorials might have symbolic values, but it surely’s time to maneuver ahead and ship tangibles. Selling “social distancing”, (as an alternative of say, “bodily distancing”) truly, is perhaps a step backwards.
Admittedly, social change can’t be enforced and can’t be within the area of the federal government alone. It’s right here that the position of the RSS, a social organisation, turns into essential. The RSS believes in a “Hindu India”, and can be identified to run a “samrasta” (unity / oneness) marketing campaign.
However, clearly, far more must be finished.
Can this start by making Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste a obligatory studying in our academic establishments? Can PM Modi use certainly one of his Mann ki Baat classes to attraction to all to place an finish to birth-based caste-based discrimination? In these Covid instances, can we put out an attraction to take care of “bodily distancing” as an alternative of “social distancing”?
Inter-caste marriages have to be promoted massive time, and an attraction from the PM can solely be the place to begin. Dalit cooks in faculties serving mid-day meals might be one other place to begin—selling the concept of inter-dining. Dalit monks have to be inspired. The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, in a pilot venture, has educated Dalit monks. Patna’s well-known Mahavir Temple has a Dalit priest. Possibly the upcoming Ram Temple at Ayodhya, too, ought to have a Dalit priest.
Rajya Sabha member Narendra Jadhav as soon as advised that dropping of surnames/household names might be one other strategy to struggle caste. Dalit entrepreneurship, which has already gathered momentum with fora like DICCI, must be inspired much more.
Whereas India unitedly fights the Covid-19 pandemic, it wants to make sure that the Indians are equal on this unity. Ambedkar—and his Annihilation of Caste—is one good place to begin.
(Ambedkar revealed Annihilation of Caste on Could 15, 1936)
(Suman Okay Jha, a JNU alumnus, is a former journalist. He tweets at @skjsumankjha. Views expressed are private.)
— to www.outlookindia.com