Sunday, May 6, 2018

Social Inter-Mingling with Dalits

Social Inter-Mingling with Dalits

Indian ethos, mythology and tradition are replete with stories like Sudama-Krishna kinship and Bheelani - Rama sharing of berries (Ber). Even one of the “Sakhis” of Guru Ravidass revealed that when upper-castes refused to sit and eat with Guruji, he agreed to sit separately and eat but it so happened that when they started eating, Guru Ravidass was found sitting and eating with each one of the Upper-caste guests. The Sikh Gurus started the tradition of “Langar, Pangat and Sangat” to register the concept of equality and
brotherhood.  But in spite of all these lofty tales and ideals, untouchability, caste system, ill-treatment of dalits remained a fact of life and living in India. The constitutional provisions to abolish untouchability and caste system and subsequent legislations to prevent atrocities and suppression of socially marginalized sections of the society and to introduce socio-economic-political empowerment of dalits could not make a big dent in the entrenched social evils of graded inequality even after more than 70 years of independence since 1947. It is a matter of great disappointment and concern. The vision of our forefathers, in contemporary times, like Mahatma Gandhi who tried to address the issues of untouchability and caste system by transforming the society by voluntary conduct of magnanimity and embracing of under-privileged and marginalized by the so called upper strata of the society. This approach could not catch up and did not succeed in bringing the desired results in the centuries old social milieu.  Babasaheb Ambedkar handled and addressed the issues from a different and more pragmatic angle. Besides constitutional provisions and safeguards, he pleaded and urged the dalits to stand-up and join the main stream of the society as equal stakeholders on the basis of his dictum “Educate, Agitate and Organise”. Dr. Ambedkar also warned that the political democracy which we had established in the constitution will have no meaning if the political democracy was not transformed into social and economic democracy. Again, as the voluntary approach of Mahatma Gandhi, this constitutional approach also could not bring in the desired results. The social and cultural organizations of the upper crust of the society like, inter alia, RSS and its affiliates, SGPC of Sikhs could not deliver on ground and remained confined to lip service only to take on the issues of discrimination on the basis of caste and ill-treatment of dalits inflicted by the upper castes head on. The caste system and graded inequality is so deep-rooted in the society that it is very difficult to change the social psyche and mindset. The process of empowerment and affirmative action, though slow, is the only option. Social and cultural organizations like the RSS, SGPC, Deras and Sects like Radha Swami Dera Beas,
Nirankaris, Hindu Maths, Swamis, Jain Munis and other religious Gurus that are the clergy class among others should face the challenge of caste and social discrimination head on. The dangers are too potent to be ignored. The warnings of Dr. Ambedkar clearly expressed in his last speech in the constituent Assembly should wake us up before we put our country and independence into jeopardy. 

Inter-dining and inter-marriages, to my mind, should be encouraged as a potent social and civil remedy to address the issues of inclusivity and cohesiveness in the society. The on-going ‘Tamasha’ of visiting the dalit households, eating and staying with them is a mere farce which should be stopped forthwith. It is an ill-conceived idea to encash the so called “dalit vote banks”. I may add hastily that educated and awakened dalits no more like this gimmickry.  Some Dharam Gurus - I have recently heard Swami
Ramdev - are trying to justify the ‘Varn Vyavastha’ of Manu while criticizing and disowning the caste system and untouchability.  He said in one of his recent explanations that the ‘Head (Brahmin)’, in our daily social conduct, always bowed to the ‘Feet (Shudra)’ and not the other way round. I think it is a clear attempt to justify the dictums of Manu by other means. Mahatma Gandhi also tried this superfluous and lopsided thinking but without desired results. The real question and challenge remains whether, in the Hindu Varn Vyavastha, one can become a Brahmin or Shudra by his/her attainment and conduct or not. The answer is no. Brahmins are born and Shudras are born. What Swami Ramdev is trying is to maintain the status-quo which is dangerous.

Much more needs to be done. I conclude by quoting from the famous book of Babasaheb Ambedkar “Annihilation of Caste” which would set the issue in its perspective, “The real remedy for breaking Caste is inter-marriage. Nothing else will serve as the solvent of Caste. Your Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal has adopted this line of attack. It is a direct and frontal attack, and I congratulate you upon a collect diagnosis and more upon your having shown the courage to tell the Hindus what is really wrong with them. Political tyranny is nothing compared to social tyranny and a reformer, who defies society, is a much more courageous man than a politician, who defies Government. You are right in holding that Caste will
cease to be an operative farce only when inter-dining and inter-marriage have become matters of common course. You have located the source of the disease. But is your prescription the right prescription for the disease? Ask yourselves this question; why is it that a large majority of Hindus do not inter-dine and do not inter-marry? Why is it that your cause is not popular? There can be only one answer to this question and it is that inter-dining and inter-marriage are repugnant to the beliefs and dogmas which the Hindus regard as sacred. Caste is not a physical object like a wall of bricks or a line of barbed wire which prevents the Hindus from co-mingling and which has, therefore, to be pulled down. Caste is a notion; it is a state of the mind. The destruction of Caste does not therefore mean the destruction of a physical barrier. It means a notional change.” He further said, “Criticizing and ridiculing people for not inter-dining or inter-marrying or occasionally holding inter-caste dinners and celebrating inter-caste marriages, is a futile method of achieving the desired end. The real remedy is to destroy the belief in the sanctity of the Shastra’s.”

मसजिद तो बना दी सब्ब भर में, इमां की हरारत वालों ने;
मन अपना पुराण पापी है, बरसों से नमाज़ी बन सका !
इक़बाल बड़ा उपदेशक है, मन बातों से मोह लेता है;
गुफ़्तार का तो यह गाज़ी बना, किरदार का गाज़ी बन सका !


  1. Its a beautiful article on what ails Indian Society, particularly with regards to the effect of caste system. I congratulate Ramesh Saheb for his clear & unambiguous views as to how to deal with this menace.

  2. thanks joginderpalji. i count on you. regards.