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July 25, 2006

Interactive Justice Blog


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India's Civilization Blindness
Calling all faiths and all Castes to abolish the caste system and the Dalit nightmare

A friend of mine recently wrote about the Dalit issue on her blog. The proponents of Brahmanism launched a scathing attack on her because she was Western and because they presumed she was a Muslim or a Christian or a leftist.

A long-term refined strategy of Brahmanism has been to 1) attack any outside voice against caste discrimination and the Dalit issue as outside interference; 2) attack racism in the West; 3) say that the outside voice has a conversion agenda; and 4) engage in violence against Dalits and those involved in the emancipation of the Dalits.

(It is interesting to note that when my friends and I supported the Dalit revolt and conversions to Buddhism in November 2001, we were attacked by the forces of Brahmanism, as well as some sections of Christianity. Why is it that these forces find it difficult to accept that there are an increasing number of concerned people around the world who want to end the Dalit nightmare by seeing the caste system abolished because it is wrong, evil and destructive?)

Unfortunately for Brahmanism, the forces of global communication and the power of the worldwide web will not allow the Dalit nightmare to remain hidden. This far-reaching problem becomes quickly evident through a simple survey of India’s newspapers and the numerous daily accounts of atrocities against the Dalits in one part of the country or another.

The discrimination against the Dalits and the problem of the caste system is ‘India’s Civilization Blindness’. V.S. Naipaul called India a wounded civilization. Yes, India is a great civilization, but has been deeply wounded for a long time because of the blatantly discriminatory and oppressive caste system. The caste system infects most of India’s religions. It has stolen the sense of worth, self-esteem and dignity of labor from a vast majority of people. The notion of ‘holy’ and ‘unholy’ labor or higher or lower jobs according to a person’s birth background has deteriorated many a developmental vision and program in India. This wounding is the only explanation as to why India has not achieved its true potential and greatness in the modern world.

Brahmanism’s many attempts to sanctify this spiritually-sanctioned racism are no longer acceptable. It is like the ‘Western Civilization Blindness’ of Colonialism which carried on during many centuries in many different parts of the world. Western Colonialism continues albeit in new clothes. Caste discrimination continues both in its old clothes and in its new garb. To accept that the criminal justice system in India has largely failed to give social justice to the oppressed and marginalized communities is to acknowledge that various governments in a free, democratic India have lacked the will to enforce social justice as one of the highest priorities in Indian civil life. It is only at election time and because of the need for votes that politicians repeatedly make renewed commitments to social justice.

There is one way to end the Dalit nightmare and eliminate the caste system – Get people of all faiths and all castes to work towards its complete abolishment. It may take many decades, but it must be done. Here is why:

1. The discrimination and exploitation of one group of human beings by another is morally wrong and evil. Caste exploitation and its inhuman discrimination have gone on for too long – more than 2,000 years! Dalit discrimination and caste discrimination carries on wherever Indians have immigrated. The 500,000 Dalits in the UK have put out a report on discrimination within the British Indian community against them. Dalit discrimination by other Indians happens in New York, Vancouver, Fiji, Africa and a host of other places. Ask the Dalits in these various foreign lands. Their religious identities do not matter. Dalit-Christians in America face discrimination from upper caste Indian Christians in America. Indian temples overseas do not have Dalits as priests just as the Brahmin-dominated India-based temples prohibit Dalits from the priesthood. Canadian Dalits also speak of caste bias in the Indian community. The case of the Canadian upper caste mother who had her (upper caste) daughter and (Dalit) son-in-law killed because of their mixed caste marriage is still fresh in everyone’s memory.

2. How can any Indian tolerate the existence of millions of bonded child laborers, most coming from Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) backgrounds, broadly classified by Ambedkar as belonging to the oppressed sections, and today carrying the tag of Dalits? While the Indian Government denies the existence of child laborers and bonded child laborers, one need only go to towns like Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, and the hinterland of states like Bihar and Orissa to see the true picture.

3. How can any Indian (resident or non-resident) allow the existence of the vast number of young girls and women trafficked in the sex trade in the sub-continent, nearly all of whom also come from the SC/ST communities? India-based cable television channels like NDTV and CNN/IBN have, thankfully, started telling the stories of the horror of girl trafficking.

4. How can the world allow for constant and repeated atrocities against the Dalits in different parts of India on a daily basis? The criminal justice system does not work for the Dalits in the towns, villages and the outlying areas of India. When fewer than 2% of registered cases of atrocities against Dalits ever reach conviction, where should the Dalits run? The Naxalite groups now labeled as ‘terrorist groups’ are filled with young men and women of the depressed castes who have failed to find social, criminal or economic justice. Unleashing the brute power of the State is not the answer to quell their cry for deliverance.

5. The link between the caste system and the oppression of women of all castes is too close for us not to notice. The sheer number of dowry deaths exposed even in major cities like Delhi and Mumbai are a shame to the nation. Dowry deaths, girl trafficking, sexual abuse of women, and other gender-related atrocities are derived directly from the value (or lack of value) given to women within the age-old caste ideology. The Indian Constitution is diametrically opposed to the laws of Manu which codified the value given both to women and people of various castes. Manu’s social system still governs rural India, and it forms the worldview of the educated upper castes which, incidentally, are guilty of a higher percentage of female infanticides than witnessed in the rest of the population.

6. It is in India’s best and long-term interest for caste identity to dissolve, thereby producing one common Indian identity in our pluralistic religious culture. It is in the dissolving of the caste identity within the different religious traditions in which caste discrimination persists (the caste poison has spread into most of the faiths in India), that a much needed religious reform can take place. If any religion is unwilling to reform itself on the caste issue, then the depressed castes have every reason to revolt and exercise their freedom of conscience to embrace a religion which guarantees emancipation and dignity.

7. A successful reformation will level the playing field in India’s developing economy and pluralistic democracy. The exploitation of caste politics and vote bank will meet its own death. The huge caste dispute of recent months over ‘affirmative action’ for the backward castes will also dissolve when all Indians have the same social and economic advantage. Present-day upper caste students are not able to perceive the huge social advantage they have which naturally grants them a significant economic, social and political advantage in the country. It is not acceptable that the minority (5% upper caste Brahmins) continues to enjoy the majority of the educational, economic and political privileges in the nation. The issue they bring of merit is nonsense as the oppressed peoples have never had the same opportunities socially and economically.

8. In the coming together of all creeds and castes to fight for this emancipation, we can deal a death blow to the age-old propaganda of the casteist forces decrying that social and human rights activists are engaged in Dalit Freedom because of a religious agenda, a hate agenda, a conversion agenda or a ‘demean-India’ agenda. The sole motive for the emancipation of the Dalits and the backward peoples must be unconditional love. The goal must be the end of the process of oppression and dehumanization. This is in the best interests of India’s democracy, India’s economy and India’s role in the world.

Posted by klajja at July 25, 2006 05:13 PM

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How can u people even tolerate special quotas? don't u people have shame? not to get positions because of talent but caste?

cheap blood. always remains chep!

Posted by: bhavesh at September 1, 2006 10:48 AM

The whole reservation issue bothers me. Not that I am oposed to it per se. In a country like india where there is a scarcity of quality institutions, reservation leads to a lot of problems and furthers corruption.
The problem is not reservation in itself. the problem is more the misuse of reservation by upper castes who get reservation stauts and avail of education quotas.
On the one hand reservation is needed for dalits to overcome the suffering and backwardness that has been imposed on them. Yet it would be very unfair that middle class indians who are not a part of the caste system have to suffer becasue of a reservation system.
We need to tackle the misue of reservation first before widening the scope.

Posted by: Brett at September 15, 2006 02:11 AM

The only reason caste system is still there is because dalits still claim they are dalits. All they have to do is ignore the columns on the form where it says caste.
Second your interview to chicago radio is despicable. You just want to get a pat on the back from a white man. You sold your soul to the devil. you were full of it when you talked. Every point you told was to get sympathy from the "WHITE" man.
Talking your same point, if 70% of india is dalits and lower castes then how are they the "minority?". Your whole point is stupid. Why dont "Dalit" themselves stand in election. Oh wait. They do. But they still dont care about their brothers. It is just absolutely ridiculous to think brahmins are putting down dalits. If dalits are the majority then how are they being put down. It is just a state of mind. All the dalits have to do is stand up strong and talk back.
And your point about not being allowed is ridiculous. How people know what caste they are from. Nobody know who is of what caste. You were just lying.

You think white people are not racists. Have you read about the macaca incident. At the end of the day you are still a macaca, a joke to the white man.
Support Indians not white people.

Posted by: ame at September 28, 2006 10:19 PM

The comments given above the caste that dalits are talking about is not their choice. It hs been imposed upon them by micro minority upper caste Indians.

Now the issue of reservation is most hated by micro minority upper caste Indians, because the reservation does help in bringing up the dalits the India's low caste people to come up in life.

Oppossing the Indian Govertment's move to reservation for dalits is the clear sign of their desire and will power to keep the dalits still under oppresssion.

The equality among the inequality Indian society, reservation is like special provision for under privilege people to come up for equality with people who are already privileged.

Posted by: M. Chandra at October 8, 2006 05:28 PM

I found your blog via google by accident and have to admit that youve a really interesting blog :-)
Just saved your feed in my reader, have a nice day :)

Posted by: Florian at January 29, 2007 08:18 AM

My dear Bhavesh,
If you were one of the children who has to be fed from the left overs in the rat holes for your very survival, you will not be talking about special quota, shame and cheap blood. If the Dalits had the perseverance to demand for a separate Dalitstan (as mooted by the British) just like the Pakistan before independence, no Dalit would be begging to you for special quota today. From President to the priest everyone would have been a Dalit in their own nation. They gave a massive nation to you (with the trust that the provisions in the constitution would guarantee them social justice and real freedom) only to be resented and discriminated against eternally by the likes of you. Cheap blood? Who?

Posted by: Lura Maru at February 17, 2007 01:00 AM

Please read these comments to know how important it is to stop the reservations and get rid of the caste system.

”We are the only nation in the world, where people fight to be called backward rather than forward.”
- Narayan Murthy

“India is ready to discuss racism as long as it is in other countries, but not caste in its own backyard.”
- Dipankar Gupta, professor of sociology , J.N.U. New Delhi

”In place of appealing for removal and abolishing this old curse on India, all the Indians have been shamelessly accepting the caste system imposed upon by their Religion. People are fighting against the reservation quota. Is there a single sensible person who wants to fight against the caste system which is the main reason for the quota ? ”
- Damien Rebello

Caste conscious lunatics and live in this lunatic asylum, of course against our will, and ‘blessed’ with an eternal curse of associating with the insane. The Indian caste system is pointedly diabolical. It is a real curse.
- Swami Vivekananda

Year 2006 : Indian newspapers carry daily stories of atrocities against Dalits or young couples being killed, sometimes by their own families, for daring to fall in love with someone from another caste. The caste based communities in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have militants to terminate people belonging to the other caste. In spite of all this the Indians think that they are making progress.
- from DailyNews U.K.

Nobody is saying that the caste system should be praised, for it has indeed degenerated India’s self-pride.
- Francois Gautier

Without question, caste system is the curse for India, and it has humiliated millions through the ages. Caste is India’s sorrow, the apartheid that makes Indians hang their heads in shame. Caste serves as the prime reason for conversions even today.
- Barbara Crossette

So you see to what extent this disgraceful caste system has taken us? Our political parties trade on it, our governments use it, our police connive at it. There is a nexus of criminals, police and government, as everybody knows, and we suffer.
- Shri Parthasarathi

India’s real curse lies in the fact that, 57 years after Independence, people continue not only to face daily injustices, but they can be murdered, raped and viciously humiliated merely because they have tried to break out of the caste trap to assert their rights as equal beings.
- (Human Rights Report)

Posted by: Rashmi Sharma at March 12, 2007 08:34 PM

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