The fourth Dr R M Pal memorial lecture delivered by eminent Ambedkarite activist and author Mr Bhanwar Meghwanshi threw serious questions as why the caste does not disappear from India. Jaati in India is a nation, he said, echoing a statement long ago coined by V T Rajasekar, whose book : Caste as nations, was published years ago.
Meghwanshi is the voice of Ambedkarite movement blamed not only Brahmanical
system for it but also questioned those who are mobilizing people in the name
of caste and keep their mouth shut when their castes misdeeds are questioned.
He was categorical as how can we keep silent if the atrocities on Dalits are
done by the middle castes. Should we just keep silent on such issues of
violence on the Dalits just we are to make a political alliance with that
‘caste’. He did not believe that
removing surnames, inter-dining or temple entry would solve any issue of the
caste. He gave example of Bhutan where
the government of that country decided a unique experiment of putting different
surnames to each members of the family and therefore the concept of caste superiority
in that country seize to exists. Bhutan is a small country but in the Human
Happiness Index, it is the numero Uno for several years and country’s social
environ is responsible for that. Annihilation of caste must become the
agenda of Ambedkarite if we have to create an egalitarian society. Bhanwar
Meghwanshi also felt honoured to be speaking in Memory of Dr R M Pal who was
associated with PUCL for years and edited the bulletin for a decade. He was
shocked that though he was also part of Rajasthan PUCL but never knew about him
which was really sad.
Bhanwar Meghwanshi and his eloquent lecture, the chair of the session well
known author and educationist Prof Mohan Shrotriya explained in
detail the source of caste system and why it is important that all the myths
and symbols of caste superiority which also spread superstition must be
rejected if we wish to progress. He felt that the left forces failed in India
because they did not address the caste question. The fight against caste
system should not be confined to it but must join battle in fight
against superstition as well as communalism. He also reminded people that it is
the voice of reason which will challenge orthodoxy and was their main target.
The murders of Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Gauri Lankesh were because they
spoke against superstitions and discrimination.
activist Sujatha Surepally spoke about the growing atmosphere of intolerance in
her state of Telangana for which many laid down their lives. Today, Dalits face
the biggest violence and they cannot even raise their voice against injustice
meted out to them. She referred to various cases filed against her just because
she stood with the people seeking justice. Young boys and girls are being
killed because they are daring to marry beyond their castes but state is not
providing justice to them. ‘I used to think that state only oppress those who
pick up guns but last few years have shown that the biggest fear of the
government is from its critique and those who are writing fearlessly. This is
the saddest part.
the event, Vidya Bhushan Rawat, founder of Social Development Foundation,
informed that this was the fourth lecture in the memory of Dr R M Pal after his
death in October 2015. The first one was addressed by Prof Shamsul Islam on the
growth of communal fascist forces in India.
The second was a panel discussion on the issue of discrimination against
Dalits which included Dr Surepally Sujatha, Dr Goldy M George, Mr Manas Jena
and Shri P L Mimroth. The 2018 lecture was delivered by Prof Chaman Lal.
spoke of his association with Dr R M Pal and his contribution in strengthening
the human rights movement in India and bringing the caste discrimination issue
to the forefront of the mainstream human rights bodies who abhorred to speak
about the subject for long. He also was the first person in the human rights
circle who not only wanted to focus on state accountability on human rights
violation but also societies particularly in our part of the world where state is
bullied by society and social order remain the biggest violator of the human
rights of the people.
Bhushan Rawat said that India is a hugely diverse country with different
language, cultures, food habits and festivals but the only commonality among
Indians is their sense of ‘glory’ of their castes, untouchability and
oppression of the Dalits and women.
Indians take their caste along with them and suffer from the hatred in
their belly even if they enjoy the liberal values of the West by living in so
many years in USA, Canada, UK and Europe. Sadly, even in Africa, Indians live
in their caste order which is a disgrace as well as shameful. As long as caste
discrimination and untouchability exists in India, all talks of great civilization
and trillion-dollar economy will remain humbug and superficial, he said.
A number of
participants raised various questions. Some suggested to remove surnames, other
wanted to avail literature of Dr Ambedkar, Joti ba Phule and other
revolutionaries of Bahujan Samaj. Some spoke of Bhagat Singh and many about the
inability to remove caste by the constitution. The panellist tried to explain
many things but one day is too small to address the huge issue. We hope Bhanwar
ji and Mohan ji will write about this in details in the coming days. I will
also share my ideas on the issue in the coming days.
It was great that the gathering had participants from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha.
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