Friday, September 12, 2014

Dalits – A sleeping tiger


Yet another wonders of democracy is fast appearing on the political firmament of India. Dalits remained a neglected and marginalized segment of the society in India. With the efforts of many social reformers in the past and political crusaders like Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker in the contemporary times, particularly after the independence and the democratic polity under the constitution, the fate of the suffering humanity took a turn for the better. Political weight of Dalits was clearly established in the process of elections and otherwise. The resultant economic and social empowerment of dalits in the overall process of development and progress of the country also contributed positively to the cause of dalits and made then aware of their rights and space in the governance of the country. The political movement of Babu Kanshi Ram and the leaders like K.R. Narayanan, Jagjivan Ram, Mayawati and others further consolidated the position. The current position has reached a stage where it is not easy to ignore the dalit community any more. The political and social leadership fully understand that dalits are a sleeping tiger. Some of them intend to awake the tiger and some of them think it fit to let it sleep depending on the agenda. The great game is in the making.

RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat releasing the books of Vijay Sonkar Shastri
I wrote earlier in my blog that Ambedkar’s acceptability is increasing by the day in the last two decades. Earlier both the Congress Party and Jan Sangh/BJP and other Hindu outfits were allergic to the name of Ambedkar. The Hindu intellectuals like Arun Shourie and Sudhendra Kulkarni tried their best to down size Ambedkar but could not sell themselves in the fast changing scenario owing to the inherit strength of the dalit community.  No political force in India can afford to ignore the community now. Efforts are being made to placate the community by owning their leadership including Kanshi Ram. Of late, RSS has taken a renewed agenda to bring along the dalit communities. Chief of RSS, Mohan Bhagwat last week released books written by a BJP leader Vijay Sonkar Shastri on the three prominent  dalit castes and said that it was not Hindus who treated dalits badly and pushed them to margins but the Muslim  and British rulers. Ashok Singhal of Vishav Hindu Parisad also came out with a similar theory. They showed interest in bring the dalits to the Hindu fold and recognized their identity with the Hindus. PM Narendra Modi further reinforced the new agenda. He spoke at a function in New Delhi to observe the anniversary of social reformer and dalit icon of the south, Ayyankali. PM Modi said “Equality among dalits and forward classes is not enough. There has to be a sense of compassion and brotherhood as well.” 

कुफर टूटा खुदा खुदा कर के !

The situation is changing and changing fast. It is up to the dalit communities now as to what they want. Do they want their due share in the economic and political structures of the country or they want to remain marginalized and degraded? Does the tiger still wants to sleep or get up and roar.

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