I am Dalit. How are you?

http://www.politeindian.com/blog/2006/10/13/i-am-dalit-how-are-you/

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30 Responses to “I am Dalit. How are you?”

  1. realitycheck Says:

    Watched the full video. I have too many seen similar videos to be moved. This video might open some western eyes, but I already know the plight of Dalits from first hand experience.

    The amazing thing is the plight of Dalits is stolen and looted from them by our bleeding hearts. They dont even know it.

    I challenge someone to go back and re-interview every single Dalit in that video. Ask them if our social justice platforms are doing anything for them. Go ahead, dont be afraid – find out what they think !

    I dont know if it is naivete or malice, but people use their plight as a cover for our social justice programs. This is the greatese bait-and-switch act of the century.

    People want the lowest of the low to be accomodated “outside of existing social justice programs”. While those accomodated within the program are relatively well to do.

    There is absolutely no way any Dalit in that video is going to enter college or be able to compete with higher up SCs.

    The minute someone asks for data and demands the benefits reach the real needy, he is branded as upper caste oppressor.

    In my view, that is a sadder state of affairs than what we see in that video. Many times over.

  2. equilibrium Says:

    All that I can say is India really sucks. That old man speaking about the 4 varnas sucks big time.

    This is one of the main reason for India being laid back, when the rest of the world is moving forward.

    I just cannot watch the whole video.Its really sad.

  3. Adnan Says:

    Once outside cities, these things are common in rural India. In villages its very tough, how can a person escape his caste, class and the lineage in a casteist society. No way. Unless he leaves the villages. That’s why probably BR Ambedkar had asked Dalits to settle in cities where casteism exists but not that blatant.

  4. Jo Says:

    I wanted to become a doctor. But now all my dreams are broken.

    It made my eyes wet man. This video made me sad and angry.

  5. Polite Indian Says:

    equilibrium:
    India does suck in matters like these. And like the old man, there are lot of people who justify the caste system. In fact lot of “forward caste” people in political parties also want to maintain the caste system on an as is basis. It is indeed pathetic.

    Jo
    It is indeed a moving video and I would say preserve your anger. Don’t let it go. Use this anger to bring the change. In our every day life you will come accross many small incidents which will be indicative of the evil caste system. Use your anger to fight it.

    Adnan
    While it is true that the caste system is not that blatantin the cities compared to the rural areas but it is still significant. And in semi urban settings it is even more pronounced. Here is an example of blatant display of caste system in Delhi.

  6. Polite Indian Says:

    realitycheck:

    I can understand your frustration and to some extent I even share it. In fact people should understand that in order for a social justice programme to work it needs to be monitored and its success or failure evaluated. I have seen from your blog that all along you have asked for data and monitoring. It is definitely the right thing to do.

    Now that we are using the caste as the criteria, we don’t have to be subtle about it. We should start the caste based census again. We should have a clear idea of the percentage of population fitting in each category. We should monitor the social justice programme and there should not be any hesitation on anybody’s part to encourage the evaluation of such prorammes.

    I wanted to ask you one another thing. All of us here know, because of the extinsive media coverage, that reservations is one such social justice programe.
    What are the other programmes that exist for the benefit of the dalits? What are the different laws that exist? How far these programmes and laws have been effective or successful. It will be good to know and I think we should make an effort for awareness of such programmes and laws. The first step in that direction is knowledge of the same.
    You(or anybody else) can either reply here or come up with a post of your own. It will be a gret help.

  7. realitycheck Says:

    Polite India,

    Outright Quotas are our primary and most important social justice initiative.

    There are other initiatives too, such as the National Safai Karamcharis Department to rehabilitate the sewer cleaners. They are extended loans to open up other business such as std booths, small shops, etc. There are schemes for housing loans, vocational training programs, hostel facilities, etc. These programs are more like safety-nets or helping-hands. While they may help a bit, they cannot pull them into the mainstream.

    The current situation is really sad because the focus is squarely on the non-beneficiaries (i.e. the forward castes). I say forget about them, they are outside of the system. The focus should be on the beneficiaries. The unit is not huge groups such as ST, SC, or OBC – but individual castes within it. If the Bhangis in the video are not getting anything out of the SC quota due to being overrun by Chamars or some higher up castes, then the system is broken – period. In addition to throwing up videos, it is the duty of everyone to demand a greater transparency and accountability from our quota system. It does not matter if the person demanding it is a beneficiary or non-beneficiary of the system.

  8. Polite Indian Says:

    In general I am for transperancy in any and every govt dept and initiative. The problem is how do you achieve it? What are the means at your disposal to do that? I know RTI recently gives some hope.

    Do you have any ideas how we can achieve more transperancy? The govt. seems to be unwilling to gather any kind of data. So what can one do?

  9. realitycheck Says:

    Polite,

    This is a complex issue. Transparency in ration cards, defence deals, civil contracts, subsidies – are all desired. They however are not the same as transparency in classification for backward classes. One is more fundamental than the other.

    For starters, the social justice programs are by definition a temporary deviation from Article (14) – the right to equality. Nobody has a constitutional right to cheap supplies (ration cards) or incentives (subsidies). You can never build vote banks on these issues because of the flexible nature of the said division.

    If you have time read the Moily committee report (link from my blog). It explains how there is such a lack of data and dramatic regional variation in OBCs. TN has a huge population of OBCs, whereas West Bengal, Assam, Gujarat, Raj have very few OBCs.

    There is hope because the Supreme Court is seized of the matter. Very interesting times ahead, because eventually truth (data) will win. RTI will not help because you cant ask for data that is not available / collected.

  10. Krish Says:

    Yes Polite Indian, we need data to check the success/failure of the social justice system and also to tweak it to work better. However, many upper class people use the very absence of data as a way to demonize the entire social justice system. It is plain hypocrisy and apartheid like. Seeking data for fixing the social justice system is one thing but using the absence of data to denounce social justice system is another. I think Polite Indian is talking about the first one which is noble. But many people in the blogosphere seem to do the latter, which is plain exhibition of upper class supremacy. The society is messed up and everyone in the “non upper class” section needs “help” to compete on par with the upper class people. The lower you go in the social strata, the higher is the need for such an external help. But it doesn’t mean that people in the “not so lower” levels of social strata don’t need any help. Using the lack of data to stop the “help” given to others is not a noble approach. Dalits need the most help but it doesn’t mean people above them don’t need any such help. Just because OBCs oppress Dalits in some places doesn’t mean OBCs don’t deserve any help. OBCs are nowhere near Upper class people in the Social Spectrum. Any segment which cannot compete on par with upper class people due to the past atrocities of the upper class people need help, even if certain groups in the oppressed section are oppressors of dalits. In order to compete in the society, everyone should have the same level of “abilities”. Else it is not competition. If the “abilities” of certain sections are curtailed by the oppression in the past (there is clear scientific proof for this and if anyone denounces science, I have no comments for them), we cannot expect them to compete on par with upper class people.

  11. realitycheck Says:

    >> OBCs are nowhere near Upper class people in the Social Spectrum. >>

    We need data to prevent exactly this type of emotion-loaded sweeping statement.

    OBC is a group quota. You do not get benefits for being an OBC. You get benefits only because the caste you belong to happens to be classified as an OBC. In a resource constrained country like India, incorrect classification will compromise the entire system because each caste has enough candidates to fill all the available seats/jobs several times over.

    This does not mean there is no need for an OBC quota. OBC quota are justified only for communities that are close to SCs socially and educationally. There cannot be a step function for castes on either side of the SC divide.

    The above poster is a classic case of obsession with the forward castes. I say let them (forward castes – not the above poster) go to hell. Their rantings mean nothing because they are not beneficiaries of the quota system. They do however have a right to be impatient because all quotas are only a temporary deviation from the right to equality. The need of the hour is to move the spotlight over the beneficiaries. Dont support or oppose an issue just because you dont like the caste of the people involved – assuming you know what it might be. This is the worst example of casteism.

    You cannot assume everyone who demands data is against all types of social justice. I would venture to say that *only* people who demand data are for true social justice. Those who thwart data are against social justice and have vested interests.

  12. pranay Says:

    However sad this video may be, it is not even the tip of the iceberg. Anyways nice initiative by you to post it. Can I link it in my blog?

  13. Polite Indian Says:

    Sure Pranay, Go ahaed and link it to your blog.

    You are right, this is not even the tip of the iceberg. Pathetic state of affairs in India. Isn’t it?
    I think the root cause of all this is the evil caste system. I think we have to dismantle it somehow. Better sooner than later.

  14. Shivam Says:

    There are a number of govt schemes for the welfare of dalits all over India. Many have been successful. This has been one of the greatest successes of Indian democracy.

    The biggest scheme is reservations. It has created a Dalit middle class. Many amongst those in reserved seats are profiles of social mobility thanks to support from the Indian state. There are across India schools only for Dalit students to counter their marginalisation in open schools. There are institutions, villages, cities named after Ambedkar, thus giving Dalits a sense of pride and helping them overcome the clutches of caste. It is certain that without the Republican state the status of Dalits would have been even worse.

    There’s teh SC/ST Prevention of Atricities Act whose implementation leaves a lot to be desired but it is still effective in preventing a lot of violence against Dalits and bringing perpetrators to book.

  15. Polite Indian Says:

    Krish,
    While it is true that some people would use lack of data as an excuse to derail the social justice programmes, I think such people lack the understanding of social justice alltogether. They have some idea but otherwise they are clueless.

    RealityCheck,
    I am gonna read the report in due time and will comment on your blog.
    And yes no matter what, we do need data.

    Shivam,
    Thanks for the info. Looks like according to both you and realitycheck reservations are our biggest social justice initiative. In that case it becomes all the more crucial to ensure that this doesn’t fail us. It can fail us in many ways i.e. poor policies, poor implementation, poor decisions etc. All the more reason for collecting data and monitoring the progress and success of these programmes.

    BTW, have you heard of cases regarding SC/ST prevention of attoricities act where SC/STs have actually abused it? More like the way the anti dowry laws have been abused by women. The reason I ask because I hear stories about such in my village in UP.

  16. pranay Says:

    The sad and most important thing is not just financial but actual social equality. It doesn’t matter what the job what the salry the most important thing is to rid the Indian society of casteist minds. And that is where a lot of government policies should be directed. Awareness and education. There shouldn’t even be subtle bias.
    Of course easier said than done.

  17. Polite Indian Says:

    Pranay,
    This was one of the points I was trying to make in one discussion some time back.
    I think there are no programmes that tackle the issue from this angle. The policies are aimed towards uplifting the economic status but we need direct policies to change the mindset with which th lower castes are treated. In order to change that we need to have awareness programmes as you mentioned. And these programmes need to be on a large scale.

    But the most important thing is for the dalits to realise what is wrong. They should be aware of their rights, and the programmes run for their benefit. The dalits need to get organized at a national level and literally fight for their rights. The human nature is such that nobody shares unless fought for.
    What is happening is there are few non-dalit organizations who are moved by the plights of the dalits and are doing piecemeal work to alleviate the problem. While that helps in a small way, nothing short of a social revolution can bring about the change that we all desire.

  18. Shivam Says:

    PI, the reservations policy is one of few things that has gone right.

  19. Shivam Says:

    Oh, but of course there are glitches, like SC/ST/OBC seats not being filled because the superiors responsible for hiring are casteist and don’t hire Dalit candididates, even on reserved seats, saying ‘candidate not suitable’.

    BTW, have you heard of cases regarding SC/ST prevention of attoricities act where SC/STs have actually abused it? More like the way the anti dowry laws have been abused by women. The reason I ask because I hear stories about such in my village in UP.

    Every law everywheer in the world is abused, but the reason why you hear this charge most often in the case of anti-dowry and anti-caste laws is because the upper castes / those who demand dowry want to claim victimhood. The truth is that since the police is also dominated by upper castes, the SC/ST prevention of atrocities act is not being implemented. What you are saying is upper caste propaganda.

  20. Polite Indian Says:

    Shivam,
    Thanks for the link. It is sad to see such prejudices in the society and in turn in our institutions of democracy.

    The more I read/think about the issues related to dalits, the more I am convinced that the change can be brought only by dalits themselves. Non dalits who wish to bring about a change need to empower/organize them in a way that they become a force to reckon with.

    The current programmes run by NGOs is intended only to help them with some of their needs but will not do much good in the long run. Someone needs to arouse that fighting spirit in them to fight for their rights. Fight for what is right. Without a visible fight for it, I don’t think anything will change. Small programmes here and there will take centuires to bring about any change.

    BTW, Do you know of any such effort going on at the grass roots level?
    Is there a repository of NGOs working for the betterment of the Dalits? Maybe there should be an effort to bring maximum NGOs in one umbrella to provide them number strength if not anything else?
    Is there any effort in the Media? I mean are there visible people in the media taking up this cause?

  21. Shivam Says:

    Polite Indian: Yes, the most important thing is that Dalits should fight for their rights, and the biggest NGO effort towards making them do so is called the Ambedkarite movement, and sections of it, like the BSP in UP, have been very successful.

    There are so many hundreds of NGO efforts for Dalits. If you want to volunteer / donate / know more about them, the best place to begin would be Delhi based organisations like NCDHR and NACDOR or the Dalit Foundation.

  22. Visakha Kawasaki Says:

    Having just spent another 3 weeks in Maharashtra, visiting Indian Buddhist communities, I feel heartened by the self-respect, equality and brother/sisterhood witnessed 50 years after Dr. Ambedkar embraced Buddhism. He believed that would be the answer, and ultimately it may be so. Certainly Buddhists (and Jains) are not Hindus. Within Buddhist communities, the caste mentality can be wiped out but it will take time, education, committment, and many more dedicated monks and nuns to teach and lead.

    With metta,

  23. Polite Indian Says:

    Visakha,
    It is good to hear that the converts to Buddhism are getting the desired respected and equality.

    But at the same time, I don’t think the caste-mentality within the Buddhist communities can be removed that easily. For the same reason it cannot be done within the Hindu community. The fact the Buddhism has been penetrated by casteism is symptomatic of a problem that cannot be solved by conversion.

  24. silkboard Says:

    PI – we got to dismantle this caste system. But how exactly I wonder.

    I think reservations at primary school level is one way. Right to education would be another.

    Basically, we need “equal opportunities” for all – in real sense. That can certainly be done in govt institutions, may be not in religious ones (temples, people’s minds).

    If we can touch upon and enforce a more modern “minimum wage” law, that will help too. But our govt thinks we aren’t mature enough yet for labor reforms.

  25. Polite Indian Says:

    silkboard,

    I have been thinking about this for a while now. There doesn’t seem to be any clear formula to dismantle the caste system. I am hoping to write a post on this in the coming days.

    But yes, primary education is key and labor reforms are also needed but our implementation of our laws is so pathetic and makes you wonder how much they will help.

    The fact is we face problems on multiple fronts and they are so interlinked that we have to attack almost all of them at the same time. This needs a strong desire and the will to do it. Unfortunately this is seriously lacking in India at present.

  26. SecularProgressive Says:

    Being from the uppercaste, I feel terrible for the plight of the people in the video, I am really shaken by the things which my forefathers are partly responsible for. I cant really do anything thats a fact and it frustrates me and everyone who really understands. The guilt is still there.

    But I only feel that we should bring some grass roots organizations to bring some unity and tell them we are all the same.

    A movie like swades can give a good message.

    A country can progress only when it recognizes all citizens are equal.

  27. SecularProgressive Says:

    The problem I see in India is there no job equality.

    They treat some jobs as inferior and some jobs as superior. That is the problem.

    The Congress (The party I hate most) motto is Roti Kapada makaan.

    These can be achieved only by putting:
    I think a minimum wage and class equality bill should be brought in the parliament.

    And finally we have to indoctrinate (I know the word is very strong) kids from a younger age with class equality from kindergarten itself.

    The first 10 years of their literature schooling should contain on stories that bring equality.

    This will definitely achieve the gist of our discussion.

    Any criticism is welcomed.

  28. Polite Indian Says:

    Secular Progressive,

    All what you say is correct.

    You raise very good points regarding minimum wage, class equality in schools and job equality.

    Only if the politicians were to rise above caste politics and actually do something.

  29. kureela Says:

    Dear Brothers,If you want to see real India in film then go http://www.ambedkar.org.on this web site you will find more documentry about dalits in which you will see the real picture of dalits in India.


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