Yogi’s Dawat at the Dalit’s Jughiya
“In India, there are castes. The castes are anti-national. In the first place because they bring about separation in social life. They are anti-national also because they generate jealousy and antipathy between caste and caste. But we must overcome all these difficulties if we wish to become a nation in reality. For fraternity can be a fact only when there is a nation. Without fraternity, equality and liberty will be no deeper than coats of paint”.
– Ambedkar’s last speech in the Constituent Assembly on November 25th,1949.
Varnashrama and its categorization of people lead to the rise of the notion of “Purity” and “Pollution,” which is the center of Caste institutions that limit the relation of “roti and beti” and treat certain people as the purest (Brahmins) and some polluted (Dalits). It has killed public opinion; as Ambedkar says, “Caste has killed the public’s spirit, Caste has destroyed the sense of the public. Caste has made public opinion impossible.” It instead leads to the “Otherization” of certain people based on this notion, and they remain unheard and untouched for centuries. Although they remain invisible, their identity as Dalits changed as voters suddenly became mainstream and socially inclusive. The only festival in which Dalits are cordially invited is an Election, not to represent themselves but to establish the Myth of Equality. The roti but not beti relationship is only shown during political seasons. Nowadays, it has become prominent, as Pat Caplan observes how dining spaces beyond the confines of the domestic sphere become spaces of commensality and sociality, and Arjun Appadurai’s idea how consumption practices signify the structures within the social order and act as the semiotic instrument of Hindu notions of rank and distance.
Recently Yogi attended khichdi bhoj at the home of party worker Amrit Lal Bharti in the city’s Jughiya Gate area, a Dalit-dominated slum 10 kilometers from the Gorakhnath Math that the chief minister heads. Similarly, Congress highlighted some days back Rahul Gandhi’s visits to Dalit homes, eating with the families and staying the night. This created debate in the political realm. Many political parties and leaders had different opinions on this political food act; for instance, Manjhi said that “people who ate in a Dalit family’s house snatched our piece of food away from us. When the elections come, many leaders of different political parties will go to Dalits and tribal families to eat food. They are responsible for the development part of Dalits and tribal people in the country,” On the contrary, Yoginath thanks Bharti for khichdi Sahabhoj, he promoted the BJP’s motto of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas.’ Yogi also said that people understand the difference between Samajik Nyay And Samajik Shoshan (Social justice and social exploitation).
In India, where the notion of khane se pyar badhta hai, is prominent here, “continuous struggle against brahminical hegemony” was something that everyone sidelined, be it the politics of food, where the food practices are inherently political whether they are politicized or not, or the location itself. For instance, when the news about Yogi’s Dawat was highlighted, nobody talked about the jhugi where these Dalit-dominated people actually live; as Gopal spoke about, “the very location of the Dalit become an object of contempt and contamination by the urban base of a caste Elite.”
Do we know the reality of that locality? Do people get khichdi and this kind of glory in their lives every day? We were not bothered about that; all we both had was Yogi’s Dawat at the Dalit place. Dalit activists across India have questioned the dominant hierarchies of food politics and the impression that lower caste groups are laboring to a point or are helplessly mired within a futile and divisive politics of identity. As Moggallan Bharti has rightly pointed out, “Dalit Identity reflects a concern for self-imaging and self-recognition of an individual or community that has been historically socially and culturally excluded by the dominant classes of the society,” here also who gained whatt, is the critical question? Yogi gain the glorification of him as the savior or good-natured for Dalit, Bharti got fame through his own party. Still, I am more concerned about what that Dalit-dominated jhugis got, or the Dalit people of that region, or in Uttar Pradesh as a whole. Does this Dawat remain in their lives every day, or just till this election season and will come again next festival of Makar Sankranti or season of election.
Dahaad – One more product of political correctness
I find ‘Dahaad’ to be an average politically correct drama, a perfect OTT content for consuming guilt. While it centers around caste, class, and gender abnormalities in society, ‘Dahaad’ also celebrates the new normal embedded in the surplus spectacle. Just like in a corporate capitalist society, there is always pressure to be happy. The desperate search for something extra in marginalised characters is quite common in this so-called “new art” industry. Therefore, a Dalit character either has to be very helpless or extra assertive, always devoid of normalcy.
A Dalit character cannot simply go to work, eat, have sex, reproduce, and enjoy holidays without bothering about society, especially their own community. In this new cultural enlightenment, Dalits always have to perform, either showcasing their vulnerabilities or heroic acts.
‘Dahaad,’ although claiming to bring us closer to social reality, is perceived by me as a regular Hindi drama. I wonder what would happen if the psycho killer in the story were a charming, educated Dalit man who, in his childhood, suffered violence and humiliation at the hands of upper-caste women, leading him to develop hatred and contempt for them. Within this liberal political correctness, such a scenario is almost impossible. Consequently, Dalits always have to be morally upright; they can’t enjoy the power of being evil, and that’s how the Master’s Morality works.
Awakening to Our True Culture: The Role of Buddhism in Ending Oppression and Uniting Humanity
Identity of existence has been the basic and most sought-after conquest of human affairs. The conquest of seeking identity is nothing but the desire to be included in the joys of life through social acceptance. Learning to live in harmony has never been the métier of human existence. People get divided as soon as they have a difference of an idea or opinion. Although humans have the most advanced consciousness, they tend to rerun the monkey wiring. Running towards what’s easy and already established has left the youth with the goal of mere pleasure pursuit. As ignorance is bliss, pleasure without wisdom is a punishment to mankind. Being attracted to the pleasure of the five senses and advocating its worth is a common trend. It can be best advocated when wrapped within words like Sanatan, supreme, and ‘the only,’ where your five senses are addicted to pleasure, and knowledge is kept far away. You are not freed to find your answers, but controlled by fears. There should be meaning in pleasure, or it is an act of ignorance.
Once in a lifetime, every human gets entangled in the concept of God for several reasons. I cannot claim any existence of God nor would ever get entangled in this concept. Waiting for God is waiting for death, but one cannot be an atheist. Being an atheist is also a privilege of the oppressor, which reflects the hierarchy of resourcefulness. Bahujans still lack unity and resources. There are things that can only be learned by the wisdom of gratefulness, love, and friendship. There is no religion greater than the religion of humanity, no system greater than the system of natural justice. Hence, there can be no one greater than the BUDDHA, who takes away your delusion and caresses you with ultimate truth without any discrimination. He didn’t claim he was God and would perform miracles for you. He forbade worshipping and fundamentals that can harm any human’s transcendental abilities.
Buddhism, the path of awakening, where oppressed don’t remain oppressed but end the oppression by taking responsibility, cultivating self-respect, understanding modern as well as traditional principles of Buddhism, which are coherent with the present time and the scientific temperament. Each one is on a mission, thriving together. This is the simplicity and miracle of Buddhism. Buddha gave the ‘eight-fold path,’ which has to be followed by each Bahujan. This is our duty and responsibility before expecting any miracle or searching God by any other means. One has to develop confidence and fearlessness to walk the path and liberate themselves. In order to end oppression, it is essential to strengthen mental and physical skills. As not only the powerful are the oppressors, but those who choose to weaken themselves and not aid the weaker are also equal oppressors. Failing to reach the understanding of the above is failing even before the revival of our true culture, Buddhism. The time has come to use the available resources and strongly unite for the revival of Buddhism, our true glory.
Anika Gautam, Psychology student deciphering Buddha
(Please note that these are the personal views of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Dalit Desk or our organisation.)
How the Removal of the Right to Property as a Fundamental Right Has Exacerbated Caste Injustice in India.
The right to property has always been a contentious issue in India since the time of independence. The Indian Constitution, in its original form, recognized it as a fundamental right. However, the 44th Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1977, removed it from the list of fundamental rights and relegated it to the status of a legal right. This act of injustice was done by the then-Janata Party government.
The right to property, as enshrined in Article 31 of the original Constitution, was considered an essential component of individual freedom and economic liberalism. It guaranteed that no citizen could be deprived of their property except by a procedure established by law, and that compensation had to be paid for the same. This right was considered crucial for the protection of property rights and was seen as a safeguard against arbitrary state action and an act against feudal caste structures.
During the debate on the Constitution (First Amendment) Bill that took place on May 10, 1951, Dr. Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution, strongly defended the insertion of Articles 31A and 31B and the Ninth Schedule in the Constitution. These amendments protected the right of the state to implement land reforms and also made special provisions for the social and educational advancement of the backward classes. In the course of his speech, he elaborated upon his views on land reform policies as formulated in India at the time. He argued that since a majority of Indian farmers did not have the necessary resources, such as capital, livestock, seeds, and irrigation, it was a bad idea to “create peasant proprietors in this country” (BAWS, Vol. 15, pp. 354–5).
The issue of caste in India is intricately linked to the question of property rights. The caste system is a hierarchical social structure that has traditionally determined an individual’s occupation, social status, and access to resources, including property. The lower castes, especially scheduled castes, have historically been denied access to land and property and have been subjected to discrimination and violence.
The right to property was seen as a safeguard against the feudal structure, and it was hoped that it would protect the rights of marginalized communities, especially scheduled castes, who were often denied access to land and property. However, with the removal of the right to property from the list of fundamental rights, the protection afforded to these communities was weakened, and it became easier for the feudal system to acquire their land without adequate compensation or due process.
“In an agricultural country, agriculture can be the main source of living, but this source of earning a living is generally not open to the Untouchables. This is so for a variety of reasons. In the first place, the purchase of land is beyond their means. Secondly, even if an untouchable has the money to purchase land, he has no opportunity to do so. In most parts, the Hindus would resent an untouchable coming forward to purchase land and thereby trying to become the equal of the touchable class of Hindus. Such an act of daring on the part of an Untouchable would not only be frowned upon but might easily invite punishment. In some parts, they are prohibited by law from purchasing land. For instance, in the province of Punjab, there is a law called the Land Alienation Act. This law specifies the communities that can purchase land, and the Untouchables are excluded from the list. The result is that, for the most part, the untouchables are forced to be landless laborers” Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (BAWS, Vol. 5, p. 23)
If speaking of some basic yet largely ignored facts in the country’s politics, then, according to the recent 2011 census, 71% of the scheduled caste population in the farming sector does not own land and works as bonded labor on dominant castes’ farms. The worst-case scenario is in states with histories of feudalism, such as Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, where nearly all SC farmers are agricultural laborers. In most districts, the figure is above 90%. According to the 2015-16 Agricultural Census, scheduled castes have control over only around 9% of the entire land area, which on average amounts to a land holding of 0.78 hectares.
Without land, scheduled caste communities have been forced to do the same old odd jobs that have been attached to their caste for thousands of years by the Hindu codes. This very thing has been the greatest hurdle in the way of the depressed classes’ progress.
Furthermore, the removal of the right to property from the list of fundamental rights has had a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities. The lack of property rights has made it difficult for SCs to access credit, start businesses, or build assets, perpetuating their economic and social marginalization.
The issue of caste and property rights has also been exacerbated by the practice of untouchability, which is highly prevalent in every corner of the world. SCs who own land or property are often subjected to harassment and violence by dominant castes that seek to maintain their social and economic power.
In conclusion, the removal of the right to property from the list of fundamental rights has had a significant impact on the lower castes, especially the scheduled castes, who have historically been denied access to land and property. The lack of property rights has perpetuated their economic and social marginalization, and the practice of untouchability has made it difficult for them to assert their property rights. Therefore, it is essential to address the issue of caste in India and reinstate the right to property as a fundamental right to ensure that marginalized communities are protected from arbitrary state action and discrimination.”