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Sabrang
Sabrang
Caste Dalit Bahujan Adivasi

Demolition of caste system essential for the survival of democracy in India  

Vidya Bhushan Rawat 28 Jan 2020

caste

The grand parade and military might reflected at the Rajpath on Republic day are over. The ‘sarkari’ programme always looks like one without any heart. It seems more of an attempt at presenting military power as used to happen in the erstwhile Communist countries. Russia and China still have it, just like many others, but democracies if they are true, don’t hold these parades and have a show of strength. Anyway, it was essential for India to feel good and proud of this. All over the country, Republic Day is basically a 'sarkari' programme with the President and the governors taking salute, march past and a show of military power. Perhaps, in the heart and minds of the old, a country is powerful because of its armed forces. So, the entire nationality discourse now revolves around the armed forces and not human beings. Even the armed forces that comprise of the common men and women of this country know it well that what they need is respect and solidarity for the millions of those fighting and defending our borders in extremely adverse circumstances. 

What is important about this Republic day is that the people have snatched public spaces and for the first time in Indian history, we are actually showing more faith in the Constitution, its Preamble and our republican values. The visuals of Shaheen Bagh where the dashing dadis along with courageous mothers of Rohit Vemula and Najeeb hoisted the national flag in front of a massive crowd easily overshadow any big celebrations of Republic Day. What a sight! These are people who, without any security gazette and no tamasha of 'power' assemble and repose their faith in the Constitution. These visuals make us proud of Indians who have now taken over their republic and its values. The people are not merely those from Shaheen Bagh or Okhla or Muslims but they are people from the nooks and corners of the country who are showing up every day to express their solidarity the country. Any visit to such a site, right from Jamia Millia Islamia to Shaheen Bagh gives one so much of knowledge and understanding of what India's youth, particularly those from the Muslim community think of and what is their idea of India. What is more heart-warming is that a huge number of these youth are young girls and women. A visit to this area is an eye opener and can definitely enhance the understanding of the political crisis and the crisis of credibility of the top leadership of the ruling party. These are Indians, argumentative ones, who share their ideas and thoughts through creative means and they must be appreciated. 

We know how the power works in the 21st century digital age. There is a complete casteist media with deep rooted brahmanical prejudices which has already decided to play to the gallerias of the ruling party and portray all those who disagree with the government and its leadership as anti-national or urban naxals. One may not have a problem with their style of reportage, but them cooking up stories and deliberately pushing people into aggression so that police action become inevitable, is questionable. Take an example of the mischief maker Chaurasia who stood in front of the crowd and asked all those frivolous questions. Can a media person provoke people while reporting from a crowd? If the people ask him or her to leave then is their argument that they belong to the press, a valid argument? It was clear that Chaursia and others in a league similar to his only went to those sites to deliberately create violence and then report of the chaos and anarchy. Casting slurs at people who have been sitting there for over a month, facing the bone-chilling cold of Delhi, with their children, many of them still being breast fed, the likes of Chaurasia only wish to strengthen the prejudices against Muslims and all those who are opposing CAA and NRC. Media watch dogs have become useless as the ruling party has created multiple 'spokespersons' and only want to see lung power. The fact is that people can 'identify' these 'patrakars' from the names on their 'mike' and their 'I' cards. 

And it is not that there is one Shaheen Bagh. There are so many. Political parties have taken a back seat as it is a youth driven protest and they are learning. It is good to know that in Kerala, political parties are just participating and not 'dominating' the discourse. Let these protests provide us a young leadership. Let the youth learn and lead. Don’t allow the para-troopers who want to use this as a selfish opportunity. It is heartening to see the 650 kilometres long human chain in Kerala against this. People are reading Preamble. Faiz would never have imagined that his poetry which is a classic would become a roar to protect democracy in India. Now, ‘Hum Dekhenge’ is travelling across the country and being translated in so many languages, right from Kannada to Malayalam to Bhojpuri and many others. It has become the voice of the protest. 

These protests have a shown us that it is the Constitution which alone will protect us but I am still afraid that we still have not made constitutional morality as our social morality and our cultural morality. Right now, we are seeking refuge in the constitution because we know it alone will protect us but the real strength of these protests and learning will be when each one of us will say that now onwards, we leave our religious moralities in our home and agree to disagree in a democratic way. Will India leave caste supremacy? Will these meetings result in annihilation of caste, the dream which Baba Saheb had for all of us when he envisioned the idea of India, a prabuddha bharat, an enlightened India where we respect individuals and their choices, don’t kill our children just because they love to someone not from their community, where we have right to speech and we are not frightened by criticism, where we do not kill people for eating food of their choice. Will we be able to shed our contradictions? 

Will the Hindus, Muslims, Christians and others make the constitution their most 'holy' book or after the battle is over, we all go into our shells and start doing what we are best at - back to believing in our caste superiority and not allow any dissenting voices in our communities, not allow women to speak up openly or walk openly in the name of customs and traditions? 

If Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh are our heroes, then we must be prepared to challenge the historical wrongs and question the religious morality along with religious texts and scriptures. The India that Ambedkar, Phule, Periyar and Bhagat Singh dreamed of can only come about when religious leadership is eradicated, when the youth of the country question wrongs, where women are allowed to participate in public life and where the mind is absolutely free from fear and the head is held high, as Tagore said in his immortal words. Let us work towards that India where leadership is a collective and represents the vast and diverse communities that we have and people do not live in deep rooted caste prejudices. 

These protests have brought back the spirit of our combined efforts to protect the idea of a secular socialist republic of India. The youth and the women have given us hope with an inspiring struggle and their fight. Let us move forward now to democratise our society and cultural spaces as a political democracy will never succeed as long as we have caste supremacists dominating our social and cultural spaces. Demolition of the caste system, therefore, becomes more important for survival of our democracy and to achieve that, it is imperative for all the oppressed from various structures of caste, class, religion, gender, region to join hands and reach beyond their immediate identities. 

Demolition of caste system essential for the survival of democracy in India  

caste

The grand parade and military might reflected at the Rajpath on Republic day are over. The ‘sarkari’ programme always looks like one without any heart. It seems more of an attempt at presenting military power as used to happen in the erstwhile Communist countries. Russia and China still have it, just like many others, but democracies if they are true, don’t hold these parades and have a show of strength. Anyway, it was essential for India to feel good and proud of this. All over the country, Republic Day is basically a 'sarkari' programme with the President and the governors taking salute, march past and a show of military power. Perhaps, in the heart and minds of the old, a country is powerful because of its armed forces. So, the entire nationality discourse now revolves around the armed forces and not human beings. Even the armed forces that comprise of the common men and women of this country know it well that what they need is respect and solidarity for the millions of those fighting and defending our borders in extremely adverse circumstances. 

What is important about this Republic day is that the people have snatched public spaces and for the first time in Indian history, we are actually showing more faith in the Constitution, its Preamble and our republican values. The visuals of Shaheen Bagh where the dashing dadis along with courageous mothers of Rohit Vemula and Najeeb hoisted the national flag in front of a massive crowd easily overshadow any big celebrations of Republic Day. What a sight! These are people who, without any security gazette and no tamasha of 'power' assemble and repose their faith in the Constitution. These visuals make us proud of Indians who have now taken over their republic and its values. The people are not merely those from Shaheen Bagh or Okhla or Muslims but they are people from the nooks and corners of the country who are showing up every day to express their solidarity the country. Any visit to such a site, right from Jamia Millia Islamia to Shaheen Bagh gives one so much of knowledge and understanding of what India's youth, particularly those from the Muslim community think of and what is their idea of India. What is more heart-warming is that a huge number of these youth are young girls and women. A visit to this area is an eye opener and can definitely enhance the understanding of the political crisis and the crisis of credibility of the top leadership of the ruling party. These are Indians, argumentative ones, who share their ideas and thoughts through creative means and they must be appreciated. 

We know how the power works in the 21st century digital age. There is a complete casteist media with deep rooted brahmanical prejudices which has already decided to play to the gallerias of the ruling party and portray all those who disagree with the government and its leadership as anti-national or urban naxals. One may not have a problem with their style of reportage, but them cooking up stories and deliberately pushing people into aggression so that police action become inevitable, is questionable. Take an example of the mischief maker Chaurasia who stood in front of the crowd and asked all those frivolous questions. Can a media person provoke people while reporting from a crowd? If the people ask him or her to leave then is their argument that they belong to the press, a valid argument? It was clear that Chaursia and others in a league similar to his only went to those sites to deliberately create violence and then report of the chaos and anarchy. Casting slurs at people who have been sitting there for over a month, facing the bone-chilling cold of Delhi, with their children, many of them still being breast fed, the likes of Chaurasia only wish to strengthen the prejudices against Muslims and all those who are opposing CAA and NRC. Media watch dogs have become useless as the ruling party has created multiple 'spokespersons' and only want to see lung power. The fact is that people can 'identify' these 'patrakars' from the names on their 'mike' and their 'I' cards. 

And it is not that there is one Shaheen Bagh. There are so many. Political parties have taken a back seat as it is a youth driven protest and they are learning. It is good to know that in Kerala, political parties are just participating and not 'dominating' the discourse. Let these protests provide us a young leadership. Let the youth learn and lead. Don’t allow the para-troopers who want to use this as a selfish opportunity. It is heartening to see the 650 kilometres long human chain in Kerala against this. People are reading Preamble. Faiz would never have imagined that his poetry which is a classic would become a roar to protect democracy in India. Now, ‘Hum Dekhenge’ is travelling across the country and being translated in so many languages, right from Kannada to Malayalam to Bhojpuri and many others. It has become the voice of the protest. 

These protests have a shown us that it is the Constitution which alone will protect us but I am still afraid that we still have not made constitutional morality as our social morality and our cultural morality. Right now, we are seeking refuge in the constitution because we know it alone will protect us but the real strength of these protests and learning will be when each one of us will say that now onwards, we leave our religious moralities in our home and agree to disagree in a democratic way. Will India leave caste supremacy? Will these meetings result in annihilation of caste, the dream which Baba Saheb had for all of us when he envisioned the idea of India, a prabuddha bharat, an enlightened India where we respect individuals and their choices, don’t kill our children just because they love to someone not from their community, where we have right to speech and we are not frightened by criticism, where we do not kill people for eating food of their choice. Will we be able to shed our contradictions? 

Will the Hindus, Muslims, Christians and others make the constitution their most 'holy' book or after the battle is over, we all go into our shells and start doing what we are best at - back to believing in our caste superiority and not allow any dissenting voices in our communities, not allow women to speak up openly or walk openly in the name of customs and traditions? 

If Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh are our heroes, then we must be prepared to challenge the historical wrongs and question the religious morality along with religious texts and scriptures. The India that Ambedkar, Phule, Periyar and Bhagat Singh dreamed of can only come about when religious leadership is eradicated, when the youth of the country question wrongs, where women are allowed to participate in public life and where the mind is absolutely free from fear and the head is held high, as Tagore said in his immortal words. Let us work towards that India where leadership is a collective and represents the vast and diverse communities that we have and people do not live in deep rooted caste prejudices. 

These protests have brought back the spirit of our combined efforts to protect the idea of a secular socialist republic of India. The youth and the women have given us hope with an inspiring struggle and their fight. Let us move forward now to democratise our society and cultural spaces as a political democracy will never succeed as long as we have caste supremacists dominating our social and cultural spaces. Demolition of the caste system, therefore, becomes more important for survival of our democracy and to achieve that, it is imperative for all the oppressed from various structures of caste, class, religion, gender, region to join hands and reach beyond their immediate identities. 

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