September 16, 2010
Dalit are a 200-million-strong group of people struggling to break free of the centuries-old chains of subjugation, discrimination and persecution. Dalit Freedom Network is doing a great job toward the goal of the emancipation of the Dalit in India and, worldwide. I am proud of being a member of Dalit Freedom Network. DFN has a physical presence in the field and it's substantive, productive efforts hold the promise of an emancipated future for the Dalit. Following is the article I mentioned above. Indian Middle Class Crushes Dalit, Poor Posted: May 4, 2009 Mon 06:40 pm Views: 625 Interacts: 6 India Crushes Dalit, Poor A Middle Class Conspiracy Syed F. Hussaini After gaining independence, the Indian middle class worked hard to keep the poor and the untouchable what they were: Poor and untouchable. It was a conscious, deliberate, premeditated, well-thought-after, well-planned and effectively-executed successful effort to stop the transition of the poor and the untouchable into the middle class of the independent India. The Indian middle class was, and is, obsessed with the caste system. It is not just the Hindus but followers of almost all the religions in India who can not swallow and digest the idea of an untouchable standing next to them as an equal. The Indian middle class is a peculiar one in the sense that despite being educated and apparently liberal, it carries a colossal hangover from its religious caste system and in many ways is rigidly conservative. It lives in perpetual denial, constant self-deception and a black-hole of lies. Caught in the crossfire of two entirely different cultures, two different languages and two different explanations of the concept of the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, the English-speaking member of the Indian middle class simply refuses to discuss the injustices of the Indian society. He would rather talk about the flaws in the Western societies than talk about the untouchable and their misery. It is a matter of belief. A touchable comes in physical contact with an untouchable and the touchable's dharam would go bhrisht. That means he would lose his religion. Now, he would have to go through a long and expensive ritual to cleanse himself and still live with the traumatic memory of that disgusting and terrifying experience of touching an untouchable. It does not matter how rich an untouchable becomes. A touchable can not drink from the glass an untouchable drank from. The touchable can not even touch the glass used by an untouchable. From now on, it is exclusively that untouchable's glass. Well, other untouchables can use it. The touchable who do not want to lose a glass may choose to pour water on the shallow cup the untouchable would make by putting his two palms together to drink water from it. The untouchable can not sit next to the touchable in the class. For that purpose, the crusade of the middle-class Indian begins at the gates of the school. Do not let the untouchable enroll at the school. For that purpose, keep the untouchable hungry. A hungry man does not think of school. He thinks of food and food only. Just keeping the untouchable hungry is not enough. He should live in filth; generally in a secluded ghetto outside the town or the village surrounded by the sewage water coming out of the homes of the good people. The stench of the raw sewage is what the untouchable belongs to. It is a great tool to keep the untouchable's mind numb and the will completely shattered. The caste system does something strange to the members of the society practicing it. They take it for granted. It is accepted as destiny or, fate, by both the untouchable and the touchable. When it comes to the issues related to the untouchable, it makes the touchable cruel, callous, insensitive and outright heartless. It renders the untouchable spiritless, hopeless, timid, shy, submissive, defeated, resigned to fact, fearful and devoid of any initiative on top of being hungry, half naked and illiterate. There are codes, oral and written, social, cultural and religious, about how to keep the untouchable in check. Do not give an untouchable more than 10 ounces of coarse grain like barley or millet a day. He can not and should not eat wheat. Wheat is for the people of the higher caste. It is ordained. The untouchable can not and should not eat butter oil unless he wants to fry some poisonous seeds in butter oil and eat them. It is ordained. If an untouchable lays his eyes on gold, he should be blinded. It is ordained. If an untouchable hears the sacred words of the Vedas, molten lead should be poured into his ears. It is ordained. The good people of India defecate in the privacy of toilets set by the outer walls of their homes. The concrete or, red brick commodes collect the human refuse which stays there until the next morning when the shit-man or the shit-woman comes in to collect it in a bucket and hauls it away. This was a caste created exclusively to provide this ugly service for the Indian society may be a thousand or more years ago. It would certainly need an imagination to guess what brutality and cunning would have been employed by the then fabled ruling classes of the beautiful, majestic India to relegate a whole group of people to such a low social status for generations to come. The Hindu caste system is so deeply entrenched in the Indian society and culture that it determines the social behavior of not only the Hindu people but of the followers of other religions, as well. It is not just a Hindu of an upper caste who would feel disgust and utter discomfort by coming in physical contact with an untouchable. A Muslim in Pakistan or Bangladesh feels the same way about coming in physical contact with an untouchable. Raping a dalit woman, however, does not contaminate the religion of a member of an upper caste. In this environment of complete segregation of the untouchable from the rest of the society the members of the upper caste get very uncomfortable with the idea of any emancipation of the untouchable because such an emancipation may lead to a situation where an untouchable may manage to sneak into the world of the privileged caste. An example would be an untouchable becoming rich enough to check into the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai. It would cause a good Hindu or Muslim staying in that hotel enough emotional stress to ruin his day. It would be a very discomforting situation; sharing the same roof with an untouchable, walking the same hallways with the untouchable right behind or in front of him, dining in the same china the untouchable may have used an hour ago. The untouchable would be looking at the pretty women of the higher caste and then there is the ultimate nightmare that one of these women herself might find the rich untouchable attractive enough to go out with him. It is Apocalypse, now. Pundit Jawahirla'l Nehru, the first prime minister of India, was a thoroughbred Brahman and a very intelligent protector of the Indian caste system. He was smart beyond imagination. Through Indian National Congress, the Indian middle class had managed to unite, had become a political force and had realized that the purpose of its dominance and survival in India would be effectively served by democracy. Through democracy, the Indian middle class, after independence in 1947, became the sole ruler of the country gaining complete control over the spending of the union government revenue. At the time of independence, the Indian middle class, represented by the Indian National Congress, was obsessed with a single thought: To take over complete control of the state by eliminating competing quarters of the society and thus becoming the sole power block in the national politics ultimately achieving the objective of keeping the untouchable and the poor utterly subjugated and beneath the upper castes and the rich as long as possible. After independence, the Indian National Congress consciously and successfully curtailed the power and influence of the upper class industrialists, zamindars (feudal lords) and the filthy rich rulers of the princely states. It was a war on three fronts the leadership of the ruling Indian National Congress pursued aggressively and succeeded in achieving the ultimate dominance of the middle class in India. Pundit Nehru attacked the three powerful quarters of the Indian society one after the other, robbed them of their financial resources and rendered them powerless in the first few years after the independence. The industrialists, the maharajahs and the zamindars were neutralized with various laws and policies which would not only make the middle class the unchallenged ruler of the country but would greatly limit the chances of any emancipation of the untouchable and the poor. Nehru remained the prime minister of India for 17 years, till his death. He created the Nehru dynasty. His grandson's widow is the head of the ruling Indian National Congress. His great-grandson is getting in gear to become the prime minister of India. Nehru's untouchable sweeper's great-grandson is busy cleaning the marbled toilets of the Gandhis. Jai Hind. The Zamindari Abolition Act of India eliminated the feudal lords as a class. It was a fairly large class with massive incomes from their large land holdings. With their immense resources and money, these zamindars would have easily secured enough seats in the parliament to become a threat to the rule of the Indian National Congress. It happened so in the neighboring Pakistan, where despite decades of military rule, every election returns the same rich zamindars to the parliament just because the zamindari system was never abolished there. However, in India, this zamindar class lost its lands to the Zamindari Abolition Act and thus their fabulous incomes. To survive, they flocked to the academic institutions, turned technocrats, in some cases bureaucrats and in many cases fled the country. Many of these zamindars were not even that lucky. Some slipped into middle class and some wound up dead poor in due course of time as the money ran out. The annexation of thousands of the princely states into the Indian Union robbed the maharajah and his family of the political influence they may have brought into play in the national or local elections. This was a small but very interesting class. Generally, it was known for its legendary wealth, its storied extravagance and luscious escapades but was also acknowledged for its generosity, philanthropy, sportsmanship and eccentricity. Competing with their British overlords, these maharajahs built hospitals, schools, universities, roadways and sanitation departments in their large and small domains. They would grant scholarships to bright students to go to England or, the U.S. for further studies. One such ruler of a small princely state sent Bhimraj Ramji Sakes, an untouchable, to Columbia University for further studies. The untouchable came home with a doctorate. It was a shame. It was a disgrace. It was infamy. Gandhi did not have a doctorate. Nehru did not have a doctorate. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did not have a doctorate. It is regarded as scandalous in India that a member of one of the lowliest caste gets himself educated better than the national leaders of the higher caste. And it was the doing of that eccentric ruler of that princely state that this misfortune had befallen the upper castes of India. The socialist Pundit Jawahirla'l Nehru's rich barrister father Pundit Motila'l Nehru never gave a dime for the education of any untouchable. Another rajah of another princely state was so impressed with the achievements of this Ph.D. untouchable that he invited him to dinner at his palace. India erupted in an uproar of protest. Now, this story is a study in understanding the Indian mind. It was the rajah's invitation, his palace, his dining chamber, his dining table, his china, his silverware, his food and his guest. What exactly any Indian whomsoever had to do with a dinner between a host and a guest? But then it was an untouchable who was the guest at the high caste rajah's palace. The scripture said don't give the untouchable more than 10 ounces a day of coarse grain to eat. The rajah, by dining with this untouchable, had offended all the good Indians. Nehru had to avenge these multiple insults on behalf of the higher-caste Indian middle class. He had to punish the rajahs, all the rajahs, and he had to punish the insolent untouchable, all the untouchable. Nehru annexed all the princely states into the Indian Union territory. Now, there would be no rajah to send an untouchable to Columbia or, to invite him to dinner. For a while, there would be no untouchable, especially as eminent as this particular one, to criticize and challenge Gandhi, Nehru or, the Indian National Congress for that matter. To punish the Ph. D. untouchable, Nehru robbed him of his credibility among his low-caste people by making him the law minister. Nehru put him on the panel writing the constitution of the newly-independent India. He made this untouchable a member of the Rajia Sabha, the Indian House of Lords. The Ph. D. untouchable, himself, topped it off by marrying a Brahman woman. Co-opting this one arrogant, rebellious and outspoken untouchable and making him a partner in his devious designs, the touchable Nehru punished all the untouchables of India and sealed their fate by confining them to their ghettos for generations to come. The population of the poor has exploded to 825 million at the beginning of 2009 from 200 million at the time of independence. That is a more than four-fold increase in the number of the poor in about 62 years. The shudr, shudra, sudra, untouchable, harijan, dalit, scheduled caste, no matter what they may call them, are approximately 20 per cent of the population of India. Pundit Nehru, after making prime minister, declared that he would pursue a socialistic policy in the country. With this tool, Nehru neutralized the industrialists by severely restricting industrialization through a system of hard to come by permits and by declaring certain sectors of industry off limits to the private sector. Nehru's pseudo-socialist policies were intended to keep the pace of the industrialization of the country at a minimal pace. To attack the industrialist and to contain the untouchable and the poor, Nehru declared himself a socialist and vowed to practice his version of socialism intended solely to stall the industrial development of the country. If the industrialization of the country was left unchecked, it would create too many jobs. It would provide the untouchable and the poor an opportunity to leave their hovels and move to where the industry was. The untouchable and the poor would have a job. They would eat better, live better, learn better and their next generation would then do still better and join the middle class, the sacred middle class of India, represented by the Brahman Pundit Nehru. With Nehru's brand of ill-motived socialism, the industrial development in India, in the private sector, came to a grinding halt. The industrialist was forbidden to set up plants or start operations in various sectors of the Indian economy. Mining, power generation, banking, heavy industry, aircraft manufacturing and many other industries were declared the exclusive domain of the state monopoly. With the independence, the minuscule, but rising industrialist class was straight-jacketed and lost its freedom to do business in the Brahman Nehru's domain. It was a stroke of genius. The industry in the private sector would not generate much jobs. The upper-caste, middle-class bureaucrat running the state-owned factory could easily screen out the untouchable and the poor from getting a job. The untouchable would be hired only to clean the gutters or, as the sweeper at the factory and its workers' colony. He would be given the smallest company-built single-room quarter at the farthest end of the workers' colony. His job would be the lowest-paid position in the company. The untouchable would not be hired to be a helper at the plant or as the office boy, the next two entry-level, lowest-paid jobs. These jobs would go to the upper-caste poor. The upper-caste bureaucrat occupying the office of the general manager of the state-owned factory could not even think of being served a cup of tea by an untouchable office boy. It would be a sin. It would be sacrilege. For that general manager, it would be plain disgusting. The industrialist, at his privately-owned factory, would not have cared much about the feelings of his caste-conscious managers or, workers. He would have hired any labor as long as it came cheap. The industrialist would have hired the most-competent, the most-skilled, the most-experienced labor even if it was the untouchable. Not that the filthy rich industrialist was a liberal hippie but that he himself was safe in his mansion and away from that untouchable. He did not care if his pious managers lost their religion by drinking tea served by an untouchable. By limiting the industrialization of India, Nehru not only effectively stopped the industrialist class from expanding and ever becoming a political threat to the dominance of the middle class, but he also eliminated the chances of the untouchable and the poor of ever coming out of the ghetto. Nehru's stroke of genius made sure the untouchable remained the untouchable despite the constitutional guarantees the Ph.D. untouchable member of the constitution panel had managed to insert into the document. The curbs on the private-sector industry were to remain so until 1991 when the the Indian middle class realized that it needed private-sector industrialization to provide jobs to its children who were coming of age and for whom the ill-performing public-sector industry did not have enough jobs. By now, the number of the miserable untouchable and the poor in India had risen so much that a slight change in the numbers would not alter the ratio if a few untouchable and the poor got a few jobs at the private-sector industry. The political dominance of the middle class was firm. Its control over the spending of the union government revenue was to remain unchallenged the way it was in the beginning. Through indirect taxation, the Indian union collected immense amounts of revenue every year. This money was meant to be spent on national development not on the development of any particular class. At independence, more than half the population lived below the poverty line. These poor included the untouchables, as well. This vast lot was spread across India in tiny villages, small and large towns and big cities. They needed clean drinking water, basic health care, public toilets, sanitation networks, sewerage systems with sewage water treatment plants, schools, roads and the protection of the law against persecution from the rich and the upper caste. They were not going to get any of these amenities at the scale the union government was collecting the revenue. The clever middle-class leadership of the Indian National Congress was not going to lend a hand to these wretched creatures come out of the gutter they lived in. Nehru and his cohorts found ways to squander this huge pile of national money so that it did not benefit the poor and the untouchable in any way, whatsoever. A bogeyman of security threat was created by the Indian leadership and a huge chunk of the national budget went to the so-called national defense. Adjusted for inflation, over 62 years, close to two trillion dollars were wasted to build the armed forces of a country which was crumbling from within and where the majority of the population sustained life-long malnutrition. The poor and the untouchable could not benefit from these two trillion dollars. Through the quarter-master general, all the military supply contracts wound up in the hands of the middle-class businessman. The big-time weapons-purchase programs were handled by the top politicians who got their cut anyway. To stop the flow of the union revenue toward the poor and the untouchable, the Indian leadership launched laughable projects. Nuclear technology, nuclear-weapons technology, rocket technology. The members of the middle class again landed good jobs at these government projects and the poor went without clean drinking water in a country chasing heavy water. Nobody could dare criticize the national defense expenditure. It would amount to treason. The poor and the untouchable did not know what exactly the words nuclear reactor, nuclear weapon and space rocket meant. The poor did not know that these lofty projects were invented to work as dams to stop the national revenue from reaching them. With growling stomachs these ignorant poor clapped and cheered when the radio announced that India had tested a nuclear weapon and went to bed hungry quiet. The Indian industrialist has made a comeback and is busy buying the politicians like chicken by the crate. The Dalit and the poor, too, are destined to win over the criminal Indian middle class. chowk.com
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MY ROLE:Volunteer & I wrote an article about the problems the Dalit face.