బౌద్ధ ధర్మం స్వీకరించిన సమయంలో డాక్టర్ బి.ఆర్. అంబేద్కర్ చేసిన ప్రసంగ పాఠం…..1 == All Buddhists and guests:
Thoughtful people perhaps may find it difficult to accept the order [literally place: stan] of the Buddhist conversion ceremony taken and given on this spot yesterday and this morning. In their opinion, and in mine also, yesterday’s program should have been today, and today’s yesterday. It is necessary to inquire: why have we taken this work on ourselves? What is the necessity? What will come from it? Only if we gain understanding will the foundation of our work be strong. We should have gained this understanding before the act itself. But some things simply happen spontaneously. This ceremony, it is true, has happened as we desired. Therefore changing the day doesn’t really spoil anything.
2 == Why was Nagpur chosen?
Many people ask me why Nagpur was decided upon for this work. Why didn’t the conversion take place in some other city? Some people say that because the great batallion of the R.S.S. was here in Nagpur, we took the meeting to this city in order to lay them flat. This is completely untrue. This program was not brought here to Nagpur because of that. Our work is so great that even one minute in a lifetime cannot be wasted. I don’t have enough time to make an ill omen for others by scratching my nose!
3 == The Nag People’s “Nag”-pur
The reason for choosing this city is different. Those who read Buddhist history will come to know that in India, if anyone spread Buddhism, it was the Nag people. The Nag people were fearful enemies of the Aryans. A Fierce and fighting war went on between the Aryans and non-Aryans. Examples of the harassment of the Nags by the Aryan people are found in the Puranas. Agasti Muni helped only one Nag man to escape from that. We spring from that man. Those Nag people who endured so much suffering wanted some great man to raise them up. They met that great man in Gautam Buddha. The Nag people spread the teaching of Buagwan Buddha all over India. Thus we are like Nag people.It seems that the Nag people lived chiefly in Nagpur and the surrounding country. So they call this city Nagpur, meaning city of Nags. About 27 miles from here the Nag Nadi river flows. Of course the name of the river comes from the people living here. In the middle of the Nag habitation runs the Nag Nadi. This is the main reason for choosing this place. Nagpur was chosen because of this. In this matter, there is no question of a lie to provoke someone. This is not such a mental twist. The reason of the R.S.S. did not even come into my mind, and no one should take that explanation as true.
4 == The opponents’ useless cry
Perhaps one could oppose [this choice] for other reasons. I have not chosen this place just out of opposition, I tell you. This work that I began was criticized by various people and newspapers. The criticism of some people is hard. In their opinion, I was leading my poor helpless Untouchable people astray. They say, “Today those who are Untouchables will remain Untouchables, and those rights gained for the Untouchables will be destroyed,” and some people among us are bewildered. To the unlearned people among us, they say, “Go by the traditional path” [pagdandi (Hindi), “footpath,” suggests that the Mahars should use an inferior path]. On some of the old and young among us, they may be influential. If doubt has been created in the minds of people because of this, it is our duty to remove that doubt; and to turn back that doubt is to strengthen the foundation of our movement.
5 == The propaganda at that time inKesari
Earlier we people had had a movement against eating meat. The touchables thought a bolt of lightning had hit them. They should drink living buffalo’s milk; but, when that buffalo died, we should carry that dead cow on our shoulders. Wasn’t this a strange practice? We tell them, if your old woman died, then why not give her to us? If you ought to give us your dead cow, then you ought to give us your old woman also, shouldn’t you? At that time, some man wrote inKesari that in certain villages every year fifty cattle die, so that five hundred rupees can be earned from their hide, horns, hooves, meat, bones, and tail. Leaving aside the matter of meat, these people will be deprived of all that profit, so the letter appeared in Kesari. Really speaking, what was the necessity of giving an answer to his propaganda? But our people used to feel that if our lord [Babasaheb] does not give an answer to this thing, then what does the lord do at all?
6 == The profits of dead animals’ hide, horns, hooves
Once I went to a meeting at Sangamner. An arrangement for eating in the evening after the meeting had been made. At that time a note was sent me by a Kesari reporter, and he asked me, “Say, you tell your people not to remove dead cattle [from the village]! Look at their poverty. No sari and blouse for their wives, no food for them, no fields for them. When their circumstances are so difficult, why do you say, throw away the 500-rupee profit every year from hide, hoof, and meat? Is this not a loss for your people?”
7 == “You remove the dead cattle and take the profit!”
I said: We will answer you. Shall I answer here on the veranda, or in a meeting? It is good if this critical question comes before people. I asked the gentleman, “Is this all you have to say, or is there more?” The gentleman said, “Whatever I have asked you, answer that much.” I asked that man, “How many children and dependents do you have”? He said, “I have five sons and my brother has five or six children children also.” I said, “Then your family is large. You and your relations should certainly remove the dead cattle from the village and get that 500-rupee profit. Besides that, every year I myself will give you 500 rupees on top of that. Whatever will become of my people, whether they will get food and clothing or not, this is my affair and I will look after it. But are you putting aside such a successful thing? Why do you not take it on? If we do the work and get the profit, won’t there be a profit if you do it? Why don’t you remove the dead cattle?”
8 == “Become Mahars and get reserved seats!”
Yesterday a Brahmin boy came to me and asked, “In Parliament and the Assemblies, your people have been given reserved places. Why are you giving those up?” I said to him, “You become a Mahar and fill that place in Parliament and the Assemblies. If there is a service vacant, then that place fills in no time. How many applications from Brahmins and others come for that place! As places in service are filled in that way, why don’t you Brahmin people, as Mahars, fill those reserved seats?”
9 == Honor is dear, profit is not dear
If we have suffered a loss, why do youweep? This is my question to them.Truly it means honor is dear to mankind; profit is not dear. A woman of good qualities and good behavior knows that there is profit in prostitution. There is a locality of prostitutes in our Bombay. When those women get up at eight in the morning, they order breakfast from a nearby hotel and say (Dr. Ambedkar at this time, giving an imitiation in a different voice, said): “Suleman, you bring a pound of bread and a plate of minced meat.” That Suleman brings it. Besides, he brings tea, bread, cake, and other things. But my depressed-class sisters do not even get ordinary chutney-bhakri. However, they live with dignity. They live piously.
10 == Leave aside childishness; be mature
We are fighting for honor. We are getting ready to lead mankind to perfection. For this, we are ready to do any sacrifice necessary. These newspaper people (turning toward them) have pestered me for the last forty years.How much criticism have they given me, even up to this day! I say to them, however: Think! Today, leave aside immature speech; use mature speech.
11 == We will certainly get our rights again
If we accept Buddhism, even then I will get political rights. I am absolutely sure of this (Cries of “Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar” and loud clapping). I cannot say what will happen on my death. Much important work must be done for this movement. What will happen because we have accepted Buddhism? If difficulties come, then how can they be removed? What strategy, what preparations should be made? –To all this I have given much thought. My bag of tricks is full of all kinds of things. How it got to be full, I know very well. I myself got those rights for my people. The one who got those rights in the first place will be able to get them again. I myself am the giver of those rights and concessions, and I will get those concessions again, I am sure. At least for the present, you should continue to have faith in me. I will prove that there is no truth in the opposing propaganda.
12 == Delivered from hell
I am surprised at only one thing. Much discussion has been going on everywhere. But not even one man has asked me, “Why did you accept Buddhism?” Putting aside all other religions, why was this religion accepted? In any movement to change religion, this is the main question. When one makes a change of religion, one has to test: which religion [should we take]? Why should we take it? The movement to leave the Hindu religion was taken in hand by us in 1955, when a resolution was made in Yeola. “Even though I was born in the Hindu religion, I will not die in the Hindu religion” –this oath I made earlier; yesterday I proved it true. I am happy; I am ecstatic! I have left hell –this is how I feel. I do not want any blind followers. Those who come into the Buddhist religion should come with understanding; they should consciously accept that religion.
13 == Karl Marx’s sect and we
Religion is a very necessary thing for the progress of mankind. I know that a sect has appeared because of the writings of Karl Marx. According to their creed, religion means nothing at all. Religion is not important to them. They get a breakfast in the morning of bread, cream, butter, chicken legs, etc.; they get undisturbed sleep; they get to see movies; and that’s all there is. This is their philosophy. I am not of that opinion. My father was poor, and therefore we did not get comforts of that kind. No one has ever lived a life as hard as mine! How hard a man’s life can be without happiness and comforts, that I know. I agree that an economic elevation movement is necessary. I am not against that movement. Man must progress economically.
14 == Buffalo, bull, and man
But I note an important difference in this matter. There is a difference between buffalo, bull, and man. Buffalo and bull must have fodder daily. Man also must have food. But between the two the difference is this: the buffalo and bull have no mind; man has, along with his body, a mind. Both have to be cared for. The mind should be developed. The mind should become cultured, and that culture has to be developed. I want no sort of relationships with people from a country where it is said that there is no connection between man and his cultured mind except for his body. I do not need any such relationship. Just as a man’s body should be healthy, the mind also should be cultured.
15 == The origin of energy [utsah] is a cultured mind
Why is there illness in man’s body or mind? The reasons are, either there is bodily pain, or there is no energy in the mind. If there is no energy in the mind, then there will be no progress! Why is there no energy there? The first reason is this: man is kept down in such a fashion that he does not get an opportunity to come up, or he has no hope of climbing. At that time, can he be ambitious? He is a diseased person. A man who gets the fruit of his own work will be energetic. Otherwise, in school, if the teacher begins to say, “Hey, who is this? Is this a Mahar? And will this wretched Mahar pass with a first class? Why does he want first class? Stay in your fourth class! To get into first class is Brahmins’ work!” –in these circumstances, how can that child be ambitious? What will be his progress? The place of creation of energy is the mind. The person whose body and mind are healthy, who is courageous, who feels that he will overcome all circumstances, in that kind of person energy will be created, and that kind of person alone excels. In the Hindu religion, such an extraordinary philosophy is found in the writings that one can’t get any sense of possible achievement at all. If a man is left for a thousand years in poor circumstances, discarded, made hopeless, then at the most they will have no more ambition than to fill their stomachs with a minor job. What else can happen? There must be a big clerk to secure the protection of these little clerks.
16 == I put on a langoti and got my education
Man’s spirit is created in the mind. You know the owner of the mill. He appoints a manager over the mill, and through the manager the work in the mill gets done. These mill owners have a few bad habits. The culture of their minds has not been developed. We had to think actively with our minds, so we started a movement. At that time education was started. I put on a langoti [the scantiest possible Indian garment] and began my education. In school I did not even get drinking water. How many days dragged by without water! Also in Bombay, even at Elphinstone College, conditions were the same. If the atmosphere is like this, how will different conditions be created? Only clerks will be created.
17 == Hindu, Mussalman, and we
When I was on the Executive Council at Delhi, Lord Linlithgow was Viceroy. I told him, “You spend the normal budget, and in addition you pay three lakhs of rupees for Aligarh University for education for the Moslems.” Then Linlithgow said, “Write out a memo about that and bring it in.” Accordingly, I wrote a memorandum. That memorandum is still with me. European people were very sympathetic. They accepted what I said. But the hitch was that they didn’t know what to spend the money on. They thought, our girls are not educated: education should be given to them, their boarding should be arranged, and the money should be spent on that. But if our girls were to be educated and taught to cook different foods, where at home was the material to make those same dishes? What was the end result of their education? The government spent the proper amounts on other things, but the amount for education was not spent.
18 == Men sitting on the pinnacle of the palace
So I went one day to Linlithgow and said, concerning the expense of education, “If you will not get angry, I want to ask a question. I am equal to fifty [high school] graduates, am I not?” He had to agree to that. Then I asked, “What is the reason?” He said, “I don’t know the reason.” I said, “My learning is so great that I could sit on the pinnacle of the palace. I want such men. Because– from the top, one can survey everything. If our people are to be protected, then such sharp-eyed, able men should be created. What can a mere clerk do?” Immediately my words convinced Linlithgow, and that year sixteen students were sent to England for higher education. If those sixteen, some came out raw and some mature, just as some water jugs are half-baked and some are finished… leave aside the consequences. Later Rajagopalacarya cancelled this plan for higher education.
19 == A thousand years of hopeless conditions
In this country, the situation is such that we can be kept in a hopeless state for a thousand years. As long as such conditions prevail, it is not possible to begin to produce ambition to progress. We have not been able to do anything about it by staying in the Hindu religion. The Chaturvarna is found inManusmriti. The hierarchy of the Chaturvarna is very dangerous for the progress of mankind. It is written in theManusmriti that Shudras should do only menial services. Why should they have education? The Brahmin should get education, the Kshatriya should take up arms, the Vaishya should do business, the Shudra should serve– who can disrupt this precise arrangement? There is profit in it for the people of the Brahmin, Kshatriya, and Vaishya castes. What of the Shudra? Can any ambition develop in the lower castes? The Chaturvarna system was not created haphazardly. It is not just a popular custom. It is religion.
20 == Chaturvarna, Gandhi, and bad religion
There is no equality in the Hindu religion. One time when I went to see Gandhi, he said, “I respect Chaturvarna.” I said, “Mahatmas like you respect the Chaturvarna, but just what is this Chaturvarna? (Dr. Ambedkar stretched out his hand horizontally, and then turned it over, so the four fingers were in vertical order.) Is this Chaturvarna up or down? Who created the Chaturvarna, and who will end it?” Gandhi did not answer the question. And what could he say? Those people who destroyed us will also be destroyed because of this religion. I do not accuse this Hindu religion without reason. Because of the Hindu religion, no one can progress. That religion is only a destructive religion.
21 == If we were allowed to use arms…
Why did our country go under the domination of another? In Europe, there were wars until 1945. Whenever a soldier was killed, a recruit took his place. No one said, “We have won the war” [before it was won]. In our country, everything is different. If Kshatriyas are killed, we are doomed. If we had been allowed to bear arms, this country would not have gone into slavery. No one would have been able to conquer this country.
22 == Progress will come only through the Buddhist religion
Remaining in the Hindu religion will bring no kind of progress to anyone. For some, the hierarchy of the Hindu religion brings profits; this is true for the superior classes and castes. But what of the others? If a Brahmin woman delivers a child, from then on her vision is on any high court judge’s place which might fall vacant. If one of our sweeper women is brought to bed, her vision turns toward the place of a sweeper. Such strange arrangements the Hindu religious class system has made. What improvements can come from this system? Progress can come only in the Buddhist religion.
23 == Buddha’s message on equality
In the Buddhist religion, 75% of the Bhikkhus were Brahmin; 25% were Shudra and others. But Bhagvan said, “O Bhikkhus, you have come from different countries and castes. Rivers flow separately in their own countries, but do not remain distinct when they meet in the sea. They become one and the same. The Buddhist brotherhood of monks is like the sea. In this Sangha all are equal. It is impossible to know Ganga water from Mahandi water after both have merged in the sea. In that way, after coming into the Buddhist Sangha, your caste goes, and all people are equal. Only one great man spoke of equality, and that great man is Bhagvan Buddha.
24 == Mine is a great responsibility
Some people say, “Why did you take so much time to get converted? What have you been doing all these days?” This question is important. The task of teaching religious understanding is not easy. It is not the work of one man. An understanding of the task will come to any man who thinks about religion. No man in the world has as much responsibility as I. If I get a long enough life, I will finish my appointed task. (Cries of “Long live Dr. Babasaheb!”)
25 ==As Mahar Buddhists, don’t defame us
“If the Mahars become Buddhists, then what will happen?” Some people will speak this way. They should not, I tell them. It will bring calamity upon them. The superior and wealthy class will not feel the necessity of religion. Among them, those having offices have a bungalow to live in, servants to do all the work; they have money and wealth and respect. Men of that sort have no reason to give thought to religion, or to be anxious about it.
26 == Religion is necessary for the poor
For the poor, religion is a necessity. Religion is necessary for people in distress. The poor man lives on hope. ‘Hope!’ [in English]. The source of life is hope. If this hope is destroyed, then how will life go on? Religion makes one hopeful, and to those in pain, to the poor, it gives a message: “Don’t be afraid; life will be hopeful, it will be.” So poor and distressed mankind clings to religion.
27 == What does the history of the Christian religion tell?
At the time the Christian religion entered Europe, the condition of Rome and the neighboring countries was one of utter distress. People didn’t get enough to eat. A simple dish of rice and pulao was distributed to poor people [to keep them alive]. At that time, who became the followers of Christ? Poor, miserable people only. In Europe, all poor and inferior people became Christians. This Christian religion is for beggars, Gibbon has written. How this Christian religion became the religion of all Europe, Gibbon is not alive today to tell us. If he were alive today, he would be required to answer that question.
28 == The world respects only the Buddha
Some people will say, “This Buddhist religion is a religion for Mahars and Mangs.” Brahmins used to say, “Hey, you!” [Bho Gautam] to Bhagvan. Brahmins thus spoke slightingly of the Buddha. But if they take their images to a foreign country to sell them, they will find not many images of Ram, Krishna, Shankar will be sold. But if they take images of the Buddha, not a single image would be left. (Loud clapping.) There has been enough talk by the Brahmins about India. They should show their worth outside! Only one name is proclaimed throughout the world, and that name is “Buddha.” How can the Buddhist religion be stopped from spreading?
29 == Our way is the way of the Buddha
We will go by our path; others should go by their path. We have found a new way. This is a day of hope. This is a way of success, of prosperity. This way is not something new. This path was not brought here from somewhere else. This path is from here, it is purely Indian. The Buddhist religion has been in India for two thousand years. Truly speaking, we regret that we did not become Buddhists before this. The principles spoken by Bhagvan Buddha are immortal. But the Buddha did not make a claim for this, however. There is an opportunity of making changes according to the times. Such open-mindedness is not found in any other religion.
30 == Milinda and Nagasena
The chief reason for the destruction of Buddhism is the Moslem invasion. The Moslems in their onslaught broke and destroyed images. They at first encroached on the Buddhist religion in this way. Fearing the invasion, the Buddhist Bhikkhus disappeared. Some went to Tibet, some went to China, some went wherever they could go. For the protection of religion, laymen are required. In the Northwest Frontier state there was a Greek Raja. His name was Milinda. This king used to hold discussions regularly. Great delight was taken in these discussions. He used to say to the Hindus, whoever is an expert at debate should come to these forums. Many were at a loss for an answer [when they participated]. One time he thought he should have a discussion with Buddhist people; and he said, any Buddhist expert at debate should be brought to him. Therefore Buddhist people asked Nagasena to go: “You should take up the cause of the Buddhists.” Nagasena was learned. He was a Brahmin. The discussion that took place between Nagasena and Milinda is famous throughout the world as a book. That book’s name is Milinda Punha. Milinda asked this question: “Why does religion languish?” Nagasena gave three reasons in his answer.
31 == Three reasons for religious decline
(1) The first reason is that some religion is immature. In that religion, the basic principles have no depth. That makes for a temporal religion, and the religion will hold fast only if it suits the times.
(2) The second reason is that there may be no learned men to spread the religion. If there are none, the religion languishes. Learned men should preach religious wisdom. If the propagandists of a religion are not ready to hold discussion with opponents, the religion will die.
(3) The third reason is this: [if] religion and religious philosophy are only for the learned [, the religion will not survive]. For common ordinary people, there are temples and shrines. They go there and worship supernatural power. [If this is the case, the religion languishes.]
32 == The only generous religion
We should remember these reasons as we take the conversion to Buddhism. No one can say that Buddhist principles are temporal. Even today, two thousand five hundred hears afterwards, all the world respects the principles of Buddhism. In America there are two thousand Buddhist institutions. In England, at an expense of 300,000 rupees a Buddhist temple has been build. Even in Germany there are three or four thousand Buddhist institutions. Buddhist principles are immortal. Nevertheless the buddha did not make the claim that this religion is from God. The Buddha said, “My father was a common man, my mother was a common woman. If you want a religion, then you should take this religion. If this religion suits your mind, then accept it.” Such generosity is not found in any other religion.
33 == The work of Buddhism is to lessen the suffering of the poor
What is the original foundation of Buddhism? Other religions and the Buddhist religion are very different. In other religions, change will not occur, because those religioins tell of a relationship between man and God. Other religions say that god created the world. God created the sky, wind, moon, everything. God did not leave anything left over for us to do. So we should worship God. According to the Christian religion, there is, after death, a Day of Judgment, and all depends on that judgment. There is no place for God and soul in the Buddhist religion. Bhagvan Buddha said there is suffering everywhere in the world. Ninety percent of mankind is distressed by sorrow. Suffering mankind should be freed from sorrow– this is the basic work of Buddhism. What did Karl Marx say that was different from the buddha’s sayings? [However,] what Bhagvan said, he did not say via a crazy, crooked path.
34 == My brothers’ work
Brothers, what I have had to say, I have said. This religion is fully formed in every way. There is no stain on it anywhere. The principles of Hinduism are so peculiarly arranged that it is impossible to create happiness from them. From thousands of years ago until just the other day, not even one man from our society could be a graduate or a learned man. I do not hesitate to tell you that in my school was a sweeper woman. She was Marathi. She would not touch me. My mother used to tell me, “Call a grown-up man ‘Mama’.” I would call the Postman, “Mama.” (Laughter.) In childhood, in school, once I was thirsty. I told the master. The master, for my protection, called a chaprasi and told him to take me to the tap. We went to the tap. The chaprasi then started the tap and I drank water. Usually all during the week at school I did not get to drink water. Later I was given some service as a District Judge. But I did not get stuck with that sort of binding job. Who will do the work of my brothers? This was the problem before me, so I did not get stuck in that bondage.
35 == The burden on your head
Nothing is impossible for me as an individual in this country. The burden [a word meaning a graduated series of pots carried on the head] on your head– the burden of Vaishya, Kshatriya, Brahmin– how that burden will be tumbled down is the true question. It is my duty to give you in all ways knowledge of this religion. By writing a book, I will remove all doubts and suspicions and will try to lead you to a stage of full knowledge. Today at least you should place faith in me.
36 == Regenerate yourself and the world
Your responsibility, however, is great. Your actions should be such that other people will honor and respect you. Do not believe that this religion means we have got stuck with an albatross [a word meaning the burden of a corpse] around our neck. The Indian earth today is of no account, as far as Buddhism is concerned. We should be determined to observe the Buddhist religion in the best way. It should not happen that the Mahar people would bring Buddhism to a low stage. We should make a firm decision. If we accomplish this, then we save ourselves, we save our country– and not only that, but the world also. Why? Because the Buddhist religion will be the savior of the world. As long as the world does not achieve justice, there will be no peace in the world.
37 == Make a decision to give a twentieth part of your earnings
This new way is one of responsibility. We have made some resolutions, have expressed some desires. The young should remember this. They should not become only petty officers for the sake of their stomach. We should make this decision: “I will give at least one-twentieth of my earnings to this work.” I want to take all of you with me. In the first instance, the Tathagat gave initiation to some individuals, and gave them this advice: “Spread this religion.” In that way, Yesha and his forty friends were converted to Buddhism. Yesha was from a wealthy family. Bhagvan said to him, “What is this religion like? It is [in Pali:] ‘for the welfare of many people, for the friendship of many people, for compassion for the world; dhamma is welfare in the beginning, welfare in the middle, conducive to welfare in the end’.” In the conditions of that age, in that way, the Tathagat made ready the way for the spreading of his religion. Now we also must make ready the way [a word meaning mechanism]. After this function, each one should give initiation to each one. Every Buddhist man has the authority to give initiation, this I proclaim. (Applause. In this way Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar finished his two-hour speech.)
This October it will be seven years since Balagopal left us.
The Human Rights Forum is organising a commemorative meet on October 9 (Sunday) from 10 am to 4 pm at the Sundarayya Vignana Kendram, Hyderabad. We invite you to join us in remembering Balagopal on the occasion.
There will be talks on four important, contemporary topics:
Umar Khalid, JNU scholar and an activist with the Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students Organisation (BASO) will talk about “The patriotism of defending difference and dissent”.
Manish Kunjam, national president of Adivasi Mahasabha will speak on “The continuing outrage in Bastar”.
Prof KY Ratnam of the Centre for Ambedkar Studies, University of Hyderabad will reflect upon “Caste discrimination in educational institutions”.
Zamir Ahmed of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) will speak on “Why is Kashmir bleeding again”.
We’ve attached posters and a pamphlet for all the talks to this email for your reference.
We shall be releasing four publications on the day. Written in Telugu, all of them were authored by Balagopal. They are:
• Visthapana –Vidhvamsam (displacement-destruction) — HRF publication.
• Adivasulu : Chattalu- Abhivrudhi (Adivasis: Development and the Law) – Perspectives publication.
• Konni Telangana Vyasalu (A few essays on Telangana) – Matti Mudranalu publications.
• Kashmirpai Balagopal – Hyderabad Book Trust.
and a DVD — Democracy Dialogues — containing a video and audio of Balagopal’s speeches in Telugu – brought out by Article 21 Communications.
A HRF publication titled “Visakhakalo 7va number kalushya hetcharika” will also be released on the occasion.
We have made lunch arrangements for all participants at the venue.
We hope to see you on the 9th..
Human Rights Forum (HRF)
Maanava Hakkula Vedika
our website: http://www.humanrightsforum.org
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🔷🔹🔷 అంబేద్కరిజం – స్టేట్ సోషలిజం 🔷🔹🔷 భారత సమాజంలో తెరముందు కనిపించే ఎన్నో సామాజిక రుగ్మతలకు మూలాలు, తెరవెనుక వేల సంవత్సరాలుగా కొన్ని కుల సమూహాల ఆర్థిక ప్రయోజనాలు, రాజకీయ ఆధిపత్యంతో ముడిపడి ఉన్నాయి. ప్రస్తుతం దేశాన్ని శాసిస్తున్న బ్రాహ్మణ వ్యవస్థ తీరును అర్థం చేసుకోవడానికి కేవలం సామాజిక కోణాన్నే కాకుండా, ఆర్థిక కోణాన్ని కూడా పరిగణించాల్సిన అవసరం ఉంది.. కులనిర్మూలన, రాజకీయ అధికారం ఇత్యాది అంశాలతో పాటు ఆర్థిక – రాజకీయ లక్ష్యాలను నిర్ధేశించే ఉద్దేశంతో బాబాసాహెబ్ ప్రతిపాదించిన “స్టేట్ సోషలిజాన్ని” అధ్యయనం చేయకపోతే “అంబేద్కరిజం” అసమగ్రంగా మిగిలిపోతుందని గుర్తించాలి..
✿ స్టేట్ సోషలిజం – ప్రస్తుత ప్రాముఖ్యత ✿
☞ SC, ST, BCలు సైద్ధాంతిక సారూప్యతతో ఐక్యం అవుతూ రాజకీయ శక్తిగా అవతరించే దిశగా అడుగేస్తున్న ఈ తరుణంలో నిర్థిష్టమైన లక్ష్యాలపై అవగాహన ఏర్పరచుకునేందుకు స్టేట్ సోషలిజం ఉపయోగపడుతుంది..
— ప్రజాస్వామ్య వ్యవస్థలో రాజకీయ అధికారం తాత్కాలికమైనది అనే విషయం గుర్తుంచుకోవాలి., కేవలం రాజకీయ అధికారం సాధించడంతోనే తరతరాల సమస్యలకు పరిష్కారం కాలేవు అనే విషయాన్ని అర్థం చేసుకోవాలి.. కానీ లక్ష్యాలను సాధించేందుకు రాజకీయ అధికారం ఒక ప్రముఖమైన వనరుగా ఉపయోగించుకో గలగాలంటే లక్ష్యాల పట్ల అవగాహన అత్యవసరం..
☞ ఆర్థిక పోరాటాలు – సామాజిక ఉద్యమాల ఉమ్మడి ప్రణాళికను సూచించే, కమ్యూనిస్టు – అంబేద్కరిస్టుల కలయిక మీద చర్చ జరుగుతున్న సమయంలో, అసలు అంబేద్కరిజం అంటే పూర్తి అవగాహన కలిగి ఉండకపోతే, “మళ్ళింపు శక్తుల” కుట్రలకు బలయ్యే ప్రమాదం ఉంది..
— నిజానికి అంబేద్కరిజం అంటే కేవలం సామాజిక అంశాలపై మాత్రమే ఉద్యమం కాదు.. ఆర్థిక అంశాల పట్ల, ఉద్యమ స్వరూపాల పట్ల కమ్యూనిజం కంటే అంబేద్కరిస్టు సిద్ధాంతానికే విస్తృతమైన పరిజ్ఞానం ఉంది.. భారతదేశ ఆర్థిక వ్యవస్థ మీద బాబాసాహెబ్ అంబేద్కర్ చేసినంత అధ్యయనం, చేసినన్ని సూత్రీకరణలూ, ఏ కమ్యూనిస్టు సిద్ధాంతకర్తా చేయలేదనే విషయం కమ్యూనిస్టులు కూడా కాదనలేని నిర్వివాదాంశమే..
— కాబట్టి అంబేద్కరిస్టుకు ఆర్థిక ఉద్యమాల సైద్ధాంతిక నిర్మాణం కోసం కమ్యూనిస్టుల మీద ఆధారపడాల్సిన అవసరం ఏమాత్రం లేకపోగా, భారతీయ సమాజానికి కమ్యూనిజాన్ని అన్వయించుకునేందుకు కమ్యునిస్టులకే అంబేద్కరిస్టు సిద్ధాంతం సహాయం చేయగలదు.. ఏదేమైనా లాల్-నీల్ కలయిక పరస్పర సహకారంతో ముందుకువెళ్ళడం ప్రయోజనకరమే అయినప్పటికీ, కమ్యూనిస్టులతో గత అనుభవాల దృష్ట్యా జాగ్రత్తగా వ్యవహరించడమే మంచిది ..
☞ నయా ఆర్థిక సంస్కరణలలో భాగంగా “లిబరలైజేషన్” “ప్రైవేటైజేషన్”, “గ్లోబలైజేషన్” (LPG) పేరుతో ప్రభుత్వాలను నడుపుతున్న శక్తుల ప్రోద్బలంతో, ప్రభుత్వాలే దళారులుగా వ్యవహరిస్తూ, సంపదలో ప్రజల భాగాన్ని కొన్ని కులాలకు దోచిపెట్టడం జరుగుతుంది.. ఈ సమయంలో 80% బాధితులకు న్యాయం చేసే సమ్మిళిత ప్రగతి సాధించి, ఆర్థిక సమానత్వం నెలకొల్పడానికి స్టేట్ సోషలిజం నిజమైన ప్రత్యామ్నాయం..
✿ స్టేట్ సోషలిజం – నిర్వచనం ✿
— దేశ సంపద, ఆర్థిక సామాజిక వనరులు, పారిపాలనా యంత్రాంగం ఇత్యాది అంశాలు, వ్యక్తుల చేతులలో కాక మొత్తం వ్యవస్థ చేత నడిపించబడుతూ ప్రజాబద్ధంగా ఉండాలని సోషలిజం చెబుతుంది..
— ప్రజాస్వామ్య వ్యవస్థలో, ప్రభుత్వాలు ప్రజల ప్రతినిధులే కాబట్టి పై అంశాలు ప్రభుత్వం ఆధీనంలో వ్యవహరించబడాలి.. దీనినే స్టేట్ సోషలిజంగా నిర్వచించబడినది..
✿ స్టేట్ సోషలిజం – బాబాసాహెబ్ అంబేద్కర్ ఆలోచనా విధానం ✿
☞ బాబాసాహెబ్ 1946లో రాజ్యాంగ పరిషత్తుకు సమర్పించిన “స్టేట్స్ అండ్ మైనారిటీస్”(States and Minorities) మెమొరాండం ద్వారా “స్టేట్ సోషలిజం” ప్రధాన విధానాలను తెలియజెప్పారు..
☞ ఈనాడు “మానవ హక్కులు”గా వ్యవహరించబడుతున్న అంశాలు ఆ రాతప్రతి నుండి గ్రహించినవే.. ప్రజలకు హక్కులు ఇస్తూనే వాటి ఫరిధులు, అవసరమైన విధివిధానాలు నిర్దేశించే అధికారం ప్రభుత్వాలకు ఇవ్వబడింది., అంతే కాక ప్రభుత్వ విధానాలు ప్రాధమిక హక్కులను హరించే క్రమంలో వాటి మీద సుప్రీంకోర్టు అజమాయిషీ కల్పించడం జరిగింది..
☞ సామాజిక దురాచారాలను, రుగ్మతలను తొలగించగలగడం ప్రభుత్వ యంత్రాంగాల ద్వారానే సాధ్యం అని బాబాసాహెబ్ బలంగా నమ్మారు.. ప్రజాస్వామ్యంలో అత్యధిక జనాభా యొక్క ప్రయోజనాల కోసమే ప్రభుత్వాలు నడపబడతాయని భావించారు., కానీ వేల ఏండ్ల బ్రాహ్మణత్వ ప్రభావం అంత తేలికగా పోదని భావించి, దానికి పరిష్కారంగా సోషలిస్టు భావనలు ప్రభుత్వాల, చట్టాల ఫరిధికి వదలకుండా రాజ్యాంగబద్ధం చేసే ప్రయత్నం చేసారు..
☞ వేలయేండ్లుగా సంపద హక్కు నిరాకరించబడి, నిరంతరం దోపిడీకి పీడనకూ గురైన ప్రజలకు సంపదలో సమన్యాయం చేయకుండా కేవలం ఓటుహక్కు కల్పించడంతో ఒరిగేదేమీ లేదని బాబాసాహెబ్ అభిప్రాయ పడ్డారు.. స్టేట్ సోషలిజం ద్వారా సంపద, వనరులలో సమానమైన వాటాను, న్యాయమైన హక్కుగా కల్పించేందుకు రాజ్యాంగ రచన ద్వారా కృషి చేసే ఆలోచన చేసారు.. ఆయన చేసిన సూచనలు కొన్ని ..
— ముఖ్యమైన, నిర్ణయాత్మక పరిశ్రమలు ప్రభుత్వ ఆధీనంలోనే నడవాలి.. ప్రాముఖ్యత లేని పరిశ్రమలు కూడా ప్రభుత్వ ఆధ్వర్యంలో గానీ లేక ప్రభుత్వం అజమాయిషీ గల సంస్థల ద్వారా కాని నడపాలి..
— భీమా రంగం మీద పూర్తి ప్రభుత్వ అజమాయిషీ కలిగి ఉండి, అది సమాజంలో అట్టడుగు స్థాయి ప్రజల వరకూ ప్రయోజనాలు విస్తరించ గలిగే విధమైన సమర్థత కలిగి ఉండాలి..
— వ్యవసాయంపై ప్రభుత్వం పూర్తిగా బాధ్యత తీసుకోవాలి.. వ్యవసాయ భూమిని యూనిట్లుగా చేసి, ఉమ్మడి సహకార ప్రణాళికను రూపొందించి.. కుల మత వర్ణాలకు అతీతంగా యూనిట్లు కేటాయించాలి..
— ప్రభుత్వం వ్యవసాయానికి కావలసిన సౌకర్యాలు సమకూర్చే బాధ్యత తీసుకోవాలి.. మొత్తం వ్యవహారంలో ప్రభుత్వం ముఖ్య పాత్ర పోషించాలి..
– ఈ పద్ధతి వలన భూస్వాములు ఉండరు, కౌలుదారులూ ఉండరు, భూమిలేని రైతు కూలీలు ఉండరు.. కాబట్టి కష్టానికి తగిన ప్రతిఫలం శ్రామికులకే దక్కుతుందని బాబాసాహెబ్ అభిప్రాయం వ్యక్తం చేసారు..
బాబాసాహెబ్ ప్రతిపాదనలను వల్లభాయ్ పటేల్, జె.బి కృపలానీ అంగీకరించకపోవడంతో నెహ్రూ రాజేంద్రప్రసాద్ లకు కలగజేసుకోవలసిందిగా బాబాసాహెబ్ కోరగా వారు కూడా కొన్ని అంశాలను మాత్రమే ఆమోదించడం జరిగింది..
✿ స్టేట్ సోషలిజం – మార్క్సిజం – వ్యత్యాసాలు ✿
1. మార్క్సిజం ముఖ్యంగా వర్గ పోరాటాలనే గుర్తిస్తుంది., ప్రభుత్వ యంత్రాంగాలైన పాలన వ్యవస్థ, రాజకీయ నాయకులు, పోలీసు వంటివన్నీ పెట్టుబడిదారీవర్గాల సహచరులుగానే గుర్తిస్తుంది.. కాబట్టి ప్రభుత్వాలను కూడా వర్గశత్రువుగా భావిస్తుంది,, ప్రభుత్వ వ్యవస్థ అంతాన్నే కోరుకుంటుంది., అంతిమంగా ఒక నియంత ఆధ్వర్యంలో, ప్రభుత్వ యంత్రాంగాల అజమాయిషీ లేని శ్రామికుల అధికార స్థాపనకు పూనుకుంటుంది..
— స్టేట్ సోషలిజం ప్రజాస్వామ్యాన్ని కోరుకుంటుంది., సామాజిక రుగ్మతలు, ఆర్థిక వ్యత్యాసాలు దూరం చేయగలిగేందుకు ప్రభుత్వాల అవసరాన్ని గుర్తిస్తుంది., కాబట్టి ప్రభుత్వ వ్యవస్థ అంతం కావాలని కోరుకోదు., సోషలిజాన్ని అమలు చేసే బాధ్యత ప్రభుత్వం మీద ఉంచుతుంది..
2. సామాజిక మార్పు, శ్రామిక వర్గాలకు న్యాయం రక్తపాతం ద్వారానే సాధ్యం అని కమ్యూనిజం నమ్మితే, శ్రామికుల బాధితుల కలయికతో ప్రజాస్వామ్య బద్ధంగా ప్రభుత్వాల ఏర్పాటు ద్వారా చట్టాల రూపకల్పన ద్వారానే మార్పు సాధ్యం అని స్టేట్ సోషలిజం ప్రవచిస్తుంది..
3. అధికార వికేంద్రీకరణ జరిగి బలహీన పాలనా యంత్రాంగాలు ఏర్పడడం వలన ప్రజలు శక్తివంతులౌతారని కమ్యూనిజం నమ్ముతుంది.. ఎం.ఎన్.రాయ్ వంటివారైతే ర్యాడికల్ డెమక్రసీ పేరుతో కేంద్ర ప్రభుత్వాలు పూర్తిగా నిర్విర్యం అయ్యి, బలమైన స్థానిక పాలనా వ్యవస్థలు ప్రజల కమిటీల రూపంలో రావాలని వాదిస్తాడు.. ఇవన్నీ భారతదేశన్ని నిర్విర్య పరిచేవే., స్థానికంగా ఆర్థికంగా బలమైన కులాల చేతుల్లో పెత్తనం పెట్టే సిద్ధాంతాలే., గాంధీ కూడా ఇదే వాదాన్ని “గ్రామ స్వరాజ్యా”ల పేరుతో ప్రతిపాదించాడు.. ఇప్పటి ఖాఫ్ పంచాయితీల ఆగడాలు చూస్తే ఇవి ఎంత ప్రమాదకరమైన ప్రతిపాదనలో అర్థం అవ్వాలి..
— బాబాసాహెబ్ సూత్రీకరణ, అధికార కేంద్రీకరణ ద్వారా బలమైన కేంద్రాలను తయారు చేస్తూనే, స్టేట్ సోషలిజాన్ని నియతృత్వం ద్వారా కాకుండా ప్రజాస్వామ్యం ద్వారా అమలు చేయడం వలన వికేంద్రీకరణకు అవకాశం ఇచ్చి రెండింటినీ సమతుల్యం చేయవచ్చుని నిర్వచించింది
✌☞ పై విషయాలు గమనిస్తే భారతదేశ సామాజిక భౌగోళిక, భౌతిక పరిస్థితులకు మార్క్సిజం కంటే స్టేట్ సోషలిజమే సరైనదని అర్థం అవుతుంది..
✿ స్టేట్ సోషలిజం – అంబేద్కరిస్టు ఉద్యమ సంఘాల పాత్ర ✿
☆ అంబేద్కరిస్టు సంస్థలు సామాజిక అంశాలతో పాటు అంబేద్కర్ ఆలోచనా విధానం నుండి ఆర్ధిక – రాజకీయ సూత్రాలను కూడా విస్తృతంగా అధ్యయనం చేసి, భవిష్యత్తు ప్రణాళికలు రూపొందించుకోవాల్సి ఉంది..
☆ లక్ష్యాల నిర్దేశంలో “స్టేట్ సోషలిజం” ప్రాముఖ్యత గుర్తించకపోతే పూర్తి స్థాయి విజయం సాధించలేమని గమనించాలి..
☆ సామాజిక ఉద్యమాలను పూర్తి స్థాయిలో నిర్వహించకుండా రాజకీయ ఉద్యమాల వైపు పయనించే విషయంలో సైద్ధాంతిక తప్పిదాలకు తావు లేకండా, ఉద్యమాల దిశానిర్దేశం కోసం బాబాసాహెబ్ సిద్ధాంతాల సహాయం తీసుకోవడంలో నిర్లక్ష్యం వహించకూడదు..
☆ అంబేద్కరిస్టు సంస్థలు పరస్పర సహకారంతో ఒక ఉమ్మడి ప్రణాళిక రూపొందించుకుంటే మరింత ఉపయోగకరం..
Who’s Bojja Tharakam? New generation may search on Google, but he do not have a Wikipedia page. But if you want to know about him, ask Karamchedu Dalit massacre victims, Tsunduru Dalit massacre victims, so many others. The rape victims, victims of state violence, victims of atrocities. Each one victim will tell the story of Bojja Tharakam equivalent to thousands pages of Wikipedia. He was a great promise for marginalised communities of telugu states. A lawyer, who roared against atrocities on Dalits, a leader, poet, orator, activist and a democratic partner of a great author Vijaya Bharathi. Son of another great leader and Dr.B.R.Ambedkar contemporary Bojja Appalaswamy. I should reveal it here. Bojja Tharakam was only one lawyer who asked Dalit victims who are facing rapes and killings everyday to retaliate against the perpetrators and assured that he will fight their cases and free them.Salutes Bojja Tharakam sir! Jai Bhim! Rest in power! We will continue the struggle!
Karthik Navayan Battula
UNTOUCHABILITY AND THE UNTOUCHABLES
Testimony given by Bhagwan Das, Chairman, All India Samata Sainik Dal, and Ambedkar Mission society. In the 36th Session of Commission on Human rights Sub-Commission on Prevention Of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, held at Geneva in August 1983
I am grateful to the chairman of the sub-committee for granting me an opportunity to present the case of the Untouchables living in India and the neighbouring countries who came under the influence of Hindu religion and culture. I am giving this testimony on behalf of Secretary General (Dr. Homer A. Jack) World Conference on religion and Peace (WCRP). I also speak on behalf of various Untouchables and Buddhist organisations of India namely All India Samata Sainik Dal (Volunteers for equality) an organisation founded by Dr. Bheem Rao Ambedkar, Indian Buddhist council, Ambedkar Mission Society. Ambedkar Mission Incorporated (Canada) and Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford, UK.
I take this opportunity to mention here that WCRP in its first conference held at Kyoto, Japan in 1970 discussed the problem of discrimination including the practice of untouchability. In its third conference held at Princeton (USA) the problem of the Untouchables in India and Burakumin of Japan was discussed and mentioned in the declaration. In the Asian Conference of Religion and Peace (II) held at New Delhi the problem of Untouchability and discrimination against the Buddhist converts was taken up and recommendations made in the declaration issued at the end of conference. Human rights Commission of ACRP decided to set up an office at New Delhi and an office is now functioning at New Delhi with the help of the Japanese Committee of WCRP under the title Asian Centre for Human Rights.
Untouchability is a phenomenon peculiar to Hinduism and it is an integral part of their religion. It took birth in India and it’s from India that this abominable practice spread to other religions and countries. No religion in India is free from this contamination; not even those who loudly preach from house tops the fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man.
Hindu society is divided vertically and horizontally on the basis of caste. Christianity and Islam have allowed caste to exist in their society. Lower caste Christians especially in Southern states of India are meted out discriminatory treatment in the matter of burial in the cemeteries, appointment of parishnors, priests etc., and matrimony. Upper caste Christians seldom marry a girl from the lower caste Christians. Islamic society is also modelled on the pattern of Hindu society. It is divide into three or four groups namely ‘Ashraf’ upper caste, Moghuls, Turks Afghans etc., ‘Ajalaf’ converts from upper castes of Hindus and at the lowest rung of ladders sit the lowly ‘Arzal’, butchers, tanners, shoemakers, sweepers. scavengers etc.
Sikhs who claim to be more progressive and egalitarian but unfortunately even they have not been able to keep their society free from caste system and untouchability. Even in a country like Britain they rigidly follow caste system and practise untouchability and discrimination against the Untouchables (Ramdaasia and Mazhbis) living in England. A ‘jat’ Sikh shuns the company of the Untouchables and avoids going to the pubs patronised by the Balmikis and Ravidasis-two untouchable castes of Punjab. An upper caste Sikh (Jat, Khatri, Arora,-trading communities of Punjab never misses an opportunity if he can offend an Untouchable by referring to his caste.
Untouchables in various countries
Nepal is predominantly Hindu state and 89% people either return their religion as Hinduism or are registered as Hindus in the census. Barely 7% of the Nepalese are Buddhists. Proselytization is prohibited. Hindu society is divided into as many as 59 castes and several artisan and other castes such as Paura (sweepers and scavengers), Damais (smiths), Sarakis (leather workers) goldsmiths in hilly regions are treated as Untouchables. Even though there is free education, very few among those castes can take the benefit owing to the practice of untouchability. In the Nepalese Panjyat (Panchyat) not more than one or two members of this community can get elected owing to the deep rooted prejudices against these people whose only fault is that perform useful duties. Their exact number is not known because unlike India Nepal census reports don not register caste. Owing to the fear of dominating upper castes Hindus, even Buddhists avoid contact with the Untouchables in Nepal. These communities suffer from numerous disabilities arising from untouchability. So far as I have been able to ascertain they have not been able to organise themselves for struggling against discrimination. Those who can in contact with these people were mulcted by the authorities and only paying the fine and performing some ceremonies they could be readmitted in the society.
Pakistan with 97% of its population owning Islam as their religion is divided into numerous castes, tribes etc., Hindus constitute about 2% of the population and are listed as caste Hindus (296,837) and Scheduled Castes (603,369). Scheduled Castes is the statutory title given under the government of India Act 1935 to the Untouchables. Most of them earn their livelihood as sweepers, scavengers, cobblers, weavers, etc.. Muslims also treat them as Untouchables like Hindus throughout the World. Pakistan also has a Christian population numbering about 908,000. Christians are divided into three groups, Europeans and Anglo-Pakistanis, Eurasians like Goanese, converts from upper castes of Hindus and Muslims and people belonging to upper stratum of society. At the bottom sit the most despised sweepers and scavengers who are known as ‘Christian Punjabis Sweepers’ (CPS). They are the descendents of the members of Chuhra community, traditional sweepers, who embraced Christianity to escape the tyranny of Hinduism and the stigma of untouchability but the partitioning of the country compelled them to revert to the traditional occupation of sweeping and scavenging. Although they are economically better than the rural workers so far as the wages are concerned but they are compelled to live in segregated localities and are treated as untouchables. Like their counterparts in India, CPS are the most despised people in Pakistan. They suffer from numerous disabilities arising from untouchability.
Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist (population 8,537,000, 67.3%) with Hindu constituting the second largest religious group (2,239,000) divided into clean and unclean castes. Among the Sinhalese, Goyigama is the highest caste and those engaged in occupations like butchers, drum-beaters. Toddy tappers, sweeping, etc. are considered ‘hina jati hina sippi’ people. Discrimination in the matter of marriage is practised among the Sinhalese. Siame Nikaya, a Buddhist sect does not admit the members of the lower castes as Bhikkhus but the other two Nikayas admit men belonging to the lower castes if they desire to join the order. But among the Tamilians, caste system is rigidly followed and untouchability practised in the Jaffana area which is predominantly Hindu (Tamalian). Society is divided into two major groups, namely clean castes and unclean castes. Among the unclean castes are included Palla (potter), Seneer (weaver), Parriyar, Kadaiyan (lime burner), Chikkalyan (leather worker and sweeper), Vunnan (washer man) and Thurumba etc. Upper castes (Vellala, Brahmin, Chetty etc.) treat them as Untouchables. Present conflict has temporarily obliterated the differences but after the trouble has subsided caste feelings revive.
Bangla Desh is predominantly Muslim (80%) with 4,926,448 (20%0 Hindus divided into two groups namely caste Hindus (Brahmin, Kayasthas, Baidyas etc.) and Namoshudras, Kaibartas, Hadis, Moschis, etc.). Many of the Muslims are converts from among the Untouchables and Buddhists. Yet discriminatory treatment is meted out to the untouchables in Bangla Desh. Our informants have stated that the Hindus of upper castes are treated as equals but the lower castes are discriminated in the matter of housing, employment etc.
All these countries were part of greater India until 1947 and were influenced by Hindu religion in the matter of rituals and customs.
Untouchability in India
Untouchability has not been defined by the sociologist or the legislators. At the time of discussion on ‘Untouchability Offences Act’ in Parliament when a question was raised about definition, the law minister said, ‘There is no need to define untouchability. Everybody knows it’. He was trying to avoid definition but he was telling the truth that everybody knows whom to avoid, whom to persecute. Untouchability is deeply embedded in the minds of Hindus and regulates their behaviour with other people. Stratification of society and restrictions on inter-marriage between different classes or groups are not unknown in other societies or cultures but to use the words of Dr. G.S. Ghurye, a renowned sociologist, “Hindu system is unique only in this that it alone classified some groups as untouchable and unapproachable.” Other religious groups only copied them. Since Hindus treated the scavengers, sweepers, cobblers, basket makers, weavers etc. as untouchables, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs also treated them as lowly, despised, degraded people. Since untouchability had religious sanction behind it, all efforts made by social reformers failed. Hindus avoided the discussion and foreigners did not want to take up the cause of the untouchables for fear of antagonising the Hindus. They were also taken in by the propaganda carried out by the followers of Gandhiji. Dr. Ambedkar had rightly observed, “The old orthodox Hindu doesn’t think that there is anything wrong in the observance of untouchability. To him it is normal, natural thing. As such it neither calls for expiation nor explanation. The new modern Hindu realises the wrong but he is ashamed to discuss it in public for fear of letting the foreigner know that Hindu civilisation can be guilty of such a vicious and infamous system or social code as evidenced by untouchability.”
Mass conversion of Untouchables to Christianity and Islam and growing importance of number in the politics of India coupled with criticism of Hindu society by Western writers, sociologists, travellers etc., led Hindus to introduce certain changes in their social system. While they wanted to remove untouchability, they did not want Hinduism and caste system to suffer in any way because Hinduism is sustained by caste system. If caste system goes, Hinduism cannot survive for long. On the other hand Hindus have developed a vested interest in Untouchability and caste system. More than 75% population of India is illiterate and people sincerely believe that caste is god-made and there is no hope or scope for change. Any laws made by man are interference in the God’s work. Hindu law makers had made elaborate laws and rules to keep Untouchables in degraded condition perpetually. Economic measures were adopted to perpetuate degradation, segregation and poverty. Laws were framed and strictly enforced to keep them divided, dispirited, poor, ignorant, illiterate and physically weak. They were not allowed to acquire wealth; higher interest was charged on loans; good, wholesome, nutritious food proscribed so that they may not grow strong. Right to bear arms was denied so they may never revolt. Low wages and excessive work was prescribed so they may have no leisure. Identity marks and symbols were prescribed so that even by mistake pure Hindus may not eat ot drink with them. This system was rigidly followed by the Hindus for centuries. Even Muslims did not disturb it. British especially after the sepoy mutiny of 1857 for fear of antagonising the Hindus tried to maintain those laws and enforce them through courts of law.
Progressive Western educated Hindus however felt uneasy and promised to bring about changes after attaining independence. Accordingly provisions were incorporated in the constitution abolishing untouchability and certain ameliorative provisions such as reservation in legislature, services of Union Government and states, educational institutions etc. Untouchables were subjected to some inhuman laws like forced labour in rural area. A provision to abolish slavery of this kind was made in the constitution but the law was enacted in 1976. Millions of Rupees were provided for the economic upliftment of the Untouchables in the Five Year Plans.
In spite of these laws the Untouchables suffer from numerous disabilities especially in smaller towns and villages of India. Untouchables don not have well in thousands of villages and upper caste people do not allow them to dig wells. Untouchables have to beg for water from a distance lest their shadow should pollute the upper caste Hindus. Sometime the water pipes are laid and stopped a few yards short of the Untouchable locality. The present writer struggled for seven years to get a public hydrant installed in a village of Himachal Pradesh while every Minister or even the Chief Minister announced that water had been provided.
If the Untouchables demand higher wages in villages, the caste Hindus pour filth or kerosene in the wells so as to starve them of water. Untouchability is widely practised. A mild and harmless law which was neither educative nor awarded deterrent punishment was enacted in 1955 under the title ‘Untouchable Offences Act, 1955’. This proved to be ineffective. This law was amended and passed as Protection of Civil Liberties Act 1976 containing a provision of minimum punishment. Owing to illiteracy of Untouchables majority of whom live in the rural areas, very few cases are reported and a very small number reaches the courts of law. Untouchability in worst form is practised in the Hindi region but the largest number of cases is registered in the state where the Scheduled castes people are awakened and better organised.
Of all the countries where untouchability is practised India has the best of laws and the most generous provisions in her constitution. British had introduced quota system with a view to giving share in administration to all religious groups and other minorities. Untouchables were however denied a share on the plea that there were no educated men available. Through the efforts of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar undisputed leader of the Untouchables ‘reservation in services’ was introduced in respect of the Untouchables also in 1943 during the vicerolty of Lord Linlithgow. Later o provision was made in respect of the Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes but reservation in favour of other minorities was abolished. During the early years there was little resistance because very few qualified people were available to fill up the reserved seats. Resistance was offered by non-implementation of government orders, or by declaring that suitable candidate was not available or if available ‘not found suitable’ and also through courts of law by filing writ petition. Since 1974 organise resistance is being offered by the upper caste employees who have enjoying monopoly of all government jobs. Private sector does not employ the Scheduled Caste people, excepting in the lowly, low paid and degrading situations. Table below gives some idea of the success in the part of the opponents of the reservation:
Reservation given in
Class 1 = 4.95% Class 11 = 8.54%
Class 111=13.44% Class 1V = 19.46%
Discriminatory treatment is being meted out to the Scheduled Caste people in the matter of recognition of their unions on the plea that it is the policy of the government that ‘communal’ organisations of employees will not be recognised. On the other hand organisations of the Hindu employees who are opposed to the reservation have the support and blessing of administration as well as the political parties, especially of those who have their base among the middle classes of Hindus.
Scheduled Castes (statutory title of the Untouchables) is an artificially created minority under the constitution. Names of castes can be deleted or added by the president. Pressure is mounting now through press to delete the names of more awakened and better organised castes. Majority of the Untouchables (about 76%) live in 568,000 villages of India. In some places they are allotted land by the government. Dr. Ambedkar demanded nationalisation of land with collectivisation of allotment on cooperative basis. The government favoured the creation of small holdings and peasant proprietors. Fragmentation of land is non-productive but the untouchable farmers who never owned land because of the laws prohibiting possession of land in some states desire to own land. The landholding dominating upper castes do everything possible in their means to obstruct distribution of land. Even if land is allotted, the upper caste landlords do not allow the Untouchables to take the fruit of their labour. If Untouchables demand higher wages or even the minimum wages prescribed by the Government, the upper caste landlords indulge in murders, torture, arson. Rape etc. to terrorise the poor ignorant untouchables. Thousands of men are employed as bonded labourers and kept away from the cities, police etc. Hundreds of women are forced into superstition by exploiting their ignorance, poverty and superstitious beliefs and sold into the brothels of Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Kanpur and Delhi.
Untouchables are becoming increasingly convinced that the Hindus hate them not because they perform unpleasant duties but because their religion teaches them to hate certain castes. Many embraced Christianity and Islam. Dr. Ambedkar who saw no hope of Hinduism reforming itself exhorted his people to renounce Hinduism and embrace Buddhism which he had revived in 1956. Millions of people responded to his call and embraced Buddhism. Government of India immediately issued order that if an Untouchable renounce Hinduism and embrace any religion other than Sikhism he will become disentitled to concessions and grants allowed to the Scheduled Castes. When a few hundred Untouchables in Madras embraced Islam because the Hindus harassed and humiliated them and did not allow them even to wear shoes or loin cloth which went below the knee cap, Hindu militant organisations turned riotous and burnt the huts of Untouchables and molested their women. Even Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi forgetting that she was the head of a secular government showed concern and delivered speeches discouraging the conversion of Untouchables. Some states have enacted laws making conversion difficult. Those renouncing Hinduism have to obtain a certificate from the Magistrate that the person desiring conversion to Islam or Christianity is doing it voluntarily. Police is dominated by the upper landholding castes of Hindus and is generally hostile towards the Untouchables. Indian Penal code contains certain provisions under which police have power to arrest and detain a person if he has no ostentatious means of livelihood. This in a country where majority of the people have no employment, house or shelter of any kind. Police abuses its powers especially against the Untouchables and many people are killed or incapacitated through torture in police custody.
Hinduism have closed the doors of armed forces to the Untouchables for ever. Untouchables were admitted to the armed forces of Islam after embracing Islam which many did. During early decades of their rule, British recruited Untouchables in their armies but after sometime they began to close the doors especially in central India and Bengal under pressure from the high castes of Hindus. They introduced the pernicious theory of ‘martial races and non-martial races’. Later on they disbanded the Untouchable armies and raise class regiments recruiting men belonging to upper castes. Indian government has not completely abolished the class regiments and has officially removed the ban on recruitment. But Government have not taken any measure to change the mode of recruitment. Recruiting officers, mostly belonging to peasant castes owing to to deep rooted prejudices based on caste and their medical; officers invariably ask a man’s caste and reject him on medical grounds. Untouchables have little share in army (0.44% in officers cadre and 10.62% in other ranks), 7.63% in other ranks of navy and 0.156% in officers cadre and 2.568% in other ranks.
Untouchables have the equal right to vote and contest elections. 79 seats are reserved in the House of the People (Lok Sabha) out of the total number of 542. Out of a total strength of 3997 members in the state legislatures and Union Territories 540 belong to the Scheduled Castes. On paper the number appears to be very impressive but owing to the election system of the country it is the majority community which elects the representatives of the candidates. In the rural areas the Untouchables can not exercise their right to vote freely and independently. Very often police protection has to be provided. After the election heavy price has to be paid tb the Untouchables if the members of higher castes owning land feel that they did not get the support of the support of the Untouchables.
Violation in Villages
Scheduled castes in the rural areas demand land, better wages, right to wear dress according to their liking, assert the rights granted under the constitution. Hindus on the hand want to maintain status quo in all fields. Tensions arise and often result in confrontation. Landlords have raised armies of trained men released from army and police to terrorise the Untouchables landless labourers. Police protects the strong against the poor. Government through its machinery and religious policies strengthens casteism and superstition because it helps the ruling classes. Leaders of struggle are picked up and either involved in false criminal cases or murdered by the police in encounters. Men, women and children have been massacred and burnt alive whenever they put up resistance against oppression. Men have been killed for offering Ganges water in a shrine. A man was killed in Aligarh (UP) for affixing the word Chauhan to his name. Women’s toes were crushed for wearing rings. Man was killed for twirling moustaches. In Meenakshipuram where mass conversion to Islam took place, men were not allowed to sit beside the upper caste men in the state buses, nor allowed to walk through the streets; women were punished for wearing sandals. In Kafalta 11 persons were done to death for crime of riding a horse in marriage procession and for using palanquin. The incidents of violence in the villages have been showing an upward trend for the last five years:
Year No. of incidents of atrocities
Recent figures are not available but the Home Minister Mr. N.R. Laskar during the last session stated that the number was showing an increase but during the Monsoon session of last week, he said that number of incidents has fallen considerably. Figures furnished by the Government do not represent the fact. These represent only a tip of the iceberg because many of the cases remain unreported. Untouchables feel very insecure owing to the growing resentment against the declared policies and programmes of the government which are very rarely accompanied by implementation. Bureaucracy is being blamed for non-implementation but is the government which lacks the political will to take action against those who flout the government authority.
This weakness is evident from the fact that even a simple and harmless demand by the Scheduled caste legislators in the Parliament to have a portrait installed in the Central Hall of Parliament where Dr. Ambedkar played a very important and historical role both as a member of the Executive Councillor in the Viceroys Executive Council (1942-46) and as first Law Minister and Chairman of the Constitution Drafting committee (1947-51). Government have been resisting this demand on some pretext or the other. Similarly in recognition of the great services rendered by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the field of education a unanimous decision was taken in the Maharashtra Assembly to change the name of Marathawada University to Ambedkar University. This university came into existence chiefly owing to the establishment of three colleges by Dr. Ambedkar in the most backward region of Marathawada of Maharashtra. Orthodox Hindus in the region felt offended and instigated the illiterate and ignorant villagers that now ‘Ambedkar’ an Untouchable will enter your houses in the form of degrees and diploma certificates and you will have to repeat his name. As a result many houses of Buddhist converts were looted. Women molested, old men insulted, buildings demolished or set on fire and some people killed. Hundreds of men were forced to leave their villages and seek shelter in the towns, railway platforms, footpaths etc. Government could not implement its decision and the oppressor won the field. Untouchables and Buddhists continue the agitation with unshaken determination.
In spite of the that Indian Constitution has the most liberal provision, Government have failed to implement its own declared programmes and policies for the removal of untouchability and upliftment of the deprived and disadvantaged section of society. Prejudices can not be removed merely through legislation. Religious policy of the government is discriminatory and is based in favour of Hinduism and Sikhism and prejudicial to the religions like Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. Government in accord with the wishes of the orthodox Hindus has used coercive measures to check the conversion of Untouchables to Buddhism lest they should unite and organise themselves for struggle. Present policy of the government appears to be based on the tenets of Hinduism. Methods may have changed but the aim of the Hindu law makers and religious leaders have not changed. Anything which the untouchables consider good for then is vehemently resisted and opposed. Whatever goes to make them week, dispirited, disunited and dependent is encouraged.
- A commission should be set up to investigate and submit a report on the practice of Untouchability in the countries wherever it is practised.
- Action should be taken against countries and institutions who encourage this practice an the name of religion and custom.
- Government should be asked to eliminate discrimination against the despised and segregated groups in the matter of freedom of religion.
- To set up a commission to monitor the activities of government and religious groups in the countries where untouchability is practised.
- Governments of the countries where the Hindus and Sikhs have migrated and practise untouchability and discrimination against the Untouchables should be approached to enact laws to discourage this practice.
- A separate office should be set up to receive cases of untouchability and disability and the states concerned should be asked to report what measures they have taken to eliminate discrimination in their respective countries.
We, the Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance, Asian Rationalists, AWAAZ South Asia Network, Bhagwan Valmik Mandirs (Bedford, Birmingham, Coventry, Oxford, Southall, Wolverhampton), Dr Ambedkar Buddhist organisation Birmingham UK, Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK, IndiaMattersUK, India Workers Association GB, Indian Scheduled Caste Welfare Association UK, Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha (Bedford, Derby), Shri Guru Ravidass Cultural Association Darlaston, The Monitoring Group, strongly condemn the increasing violence against Dalits and minorities in India.
We also condemn the rise in the so-called ‘cow vigilantism’ in a country paradoxically the top exporter of beef in the world1, the rise in ‘Hindu nationalism’ and the failure of the authorities to provide legal justice and redress to victims and to eradicate Caste-based discrimination. We stand in solidarity with protests in Una, Gujarat and around the world including the UK and the USA against these rising atrocities.
Today we have submitted a Joint Statement to the UK Government asking them to call on the Government of India to take stern action against the perpetrators and prosecute government and police officials responsible for aiding and abetting these criminals, and to implement the laws that outlaw Untouchablity and the laws aimed at helping uplift Dalits and Scheduled Tribes.
We have also submitted a Joint Statement to the United Nations High Commissioner (UN HC) for Human Rights and UN Secretary General, asking them to intervene and send a team immediately to investigate the situation on the ground in Una, Gujarat and look into Caste-based discrimination in India. Both Navi Pillay2 the previous UN HC, and the current HC, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein have both highlighted the need to tackle Caste-based inequality3.
Our specific calls to the Government of India are that they must:
- Take swift and robust action against the dominant caste perpetrators violating the human rights of Dalits and minorities
- Conduct an open and transparent investigation under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 and prosecute those Government and police officials who are found to have aided and abetted criminals
iii. Robustly implement the Special Courts and Exclusive Special Courts mandated in the SC ST Act, 2015 for speedy trials
- Take swift action to deal with the unacceptable shortage of judges that is impacting negatively on access to justice 4
- Fully implement the Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP) and the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) and discharge the allocation of funds due to Dalits for their upliftment. Ensure there is full transparency and accountability in the expenditure of the funds that is not only focused on ‘survival’ schemes like food, hostels etc, but also allocated for skill development for modern jobs that will help the social and economic mobility of Dalits and Scheduled Tribes.
Notes to Editors: More background information on next page.
Contact Santosh Dass, 00447902806342 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
On 11 July, four Dalit men were partly stripped, tied to a car and subjected to what was nothing short of a public flogging captured on film by cow vigilantes for skinning a dead cow in Una, Gujarat. This raised memories of historical accounts of public floggings of Black slaves in America. In Gujarat and other states in India, the Dalit community involved in traditional jobs are now being targeted by the dominant caste groups under the guise of cow protection and Hindu nationalism. Caste apartheid and economic factors already force Dalits into descent-based occupations that include cleaning of the dead animal carcasses, tanning of leather, bonded labour and manual scavenging. When Dalits assert their human rights to an education or to better jobs, the dominant caste groups are finding new ways to terrorize them including public floggings, harassing families, rape and punishment rape, stripping Dalit women and parading them naked in the streets, and social exclusion in villages5. PhD student Rohit Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad this January is but one of most prominent of many examples.
The Government promises of uplifting the Dalits and Scheduled Castes by way of a legally mandated Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP) and the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) funds are failing. According to the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), only a third of the already truncated funds are allocated to Dalits and SCs – ‘Two thirds are non-targeted and notional allocations ‘retro-budgeting’ i.e. funds spent on some scheme that covers the whole population and then claims are made that that it must have benefited dalits and adivasis too.’6 The RSS and Hindutva extremists have free reign under successive Governments but visibly more so under the current Indian Government, threatening secularism in India and promoting an unhealthy form of nationalism. The fundamental right to choose one’s faith, what one eats or wears, who one marries and the freedom of speech are rapidly being eroded. The Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen at this June’s Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK’s Conference summed up the political environment in India. He said “one issue that keeps coming up in India is people being branded as anti-national for not toeing a particular line” “I would say Caste is anti-national because it ‘divides the nation.”7 There is clear evidence that atrocities against Dalits continue to increase. According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan have reported the highest rates against Scheduled Castes show an almost 40% increase of crime against Dalits all over India between 2011 and 2014.8 In 2015, Gujarat reported the highest crime rate against Dalits up a staggering 163.3% (6,655 cases) followed by Chhattisgarh at 91.9% (3,008 cases). UP reported the most number of cases of crime against Dalits at 8,946. Sexual assaults against women and rape are top crimes against scheduled castes. It’s a form of control society that is honour-based. These crime figures are just the tip of the iceberg. Many crimes are not reported. Many that are reported to the authorities are not processed by officials and the police. As a result they do not feature in the official records. We will continue to monitor such atrocities and demand justice for the victims of Caste oppression.