I have recently read ‘Khushwantnama – The Lessons of my Life’ of Khushwant Singh. Khushwant Singh (98) India’s best known writer and columnist. The book is worth reading. I quote just one assertion from the Chapter ‘The State of the Nation’ of the book. It does not require any explanation.
Of all the stigmas that disfigure the fair face of Mother India, the worst is the caste system which inflicts unspeakable indignities on lower castes designated Harijans, Dalits or Bahujans. It is sinful, and more so since we have not been able to wipe out the stigma to this day.
However, the things have begun to change. The four people who played major roles in bringing about some change are Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Babu Jagjivan Ram, Kanshi Ram and Mayawati. Of these four, Dr. Ambedkar was the messiah. He never forgave Gandhi for granting the lower castes only reservation of seats and not a separate electorate. He played a key role in drawing up the Constitution of India and was later law minister in Nehru’s cabinet. Disgusted with the social framework of caste hierarchy, Ambedkar exhorted his followers to opt for another religion and persuaded his community of Mahars to convert en masse to Buddhism. He remains the most respected icon of the Dalits and one of the greatest Indians.
I like Khuswant’s honesty and his columns.