Skip to main content

Top Dalit rights activist to Xavier's NGO: Annihilation of caste "can't be fought" by invoking caste names

By Our Representative
In a controversial commentary on St Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad, in the eye of storm for a recent “saffron” attack on an NGO run on its campus (click HERE), a well-known Dalit rights activist has recalled how those running the college decades ago were responsible for perpetuating caste discrimination, yet the discriminatory mindset has not disappeared even today.
Goons who attacked the NGO, reportedly associated with organizations of the two main political parties, BJP and the Congress, stoned windows and broke flower plots of the office of the NGO, Human Development Research Centre (HDRC), called Behavioral Science Centre (BSC) till recently.
Reason: The NGO had put up an ad saying that those from the unreserved category would be preferred for a cleaner’s post. What provided food to the attackers was, it mentioned names the “preferred” castes – Brahmins, Rajputs, Banias, Pathans, Syeds, Syrian Christians, etc.
Taking strong objection to this, Dalit right activist Martin Macwan says, the BSC was set up for with the idea of “annihilation of caste”, regretting, even today, “45 years after it was founded, it believes through written words that in its own campus segregation of its employees must remain on the basis of ‘caste’.”
Recalling in this context how Gandhi fought caste by cleaning up not just his own toilet, but also “of hundreds others during the first Congress session”, Macwan says, even the pioneer of anti-manual scavenging practices in Gujarat and India was Mama Fadke, a Brahmin from Maharashtra.
An undergraduate student at Xavier’s, Macwan was associated with BSC during the NGO’s formative year after it was founded in 1977. Founder of Gujarat’s premier Dalit rights group Navsarjan Trust, he currently runs Dalit Shakti Kendra, a residential training centre for youth.
Going into the past of St Xavier’s College, Macwan says, it has had “a long association with the caste system.” Thus, on being set up in mid-1950s, “Dalit students, including those converted to Christianity, did not find a place in the college hostel. They would stay on the first floor of the old canteen.”
“Food was brought to them from the mess after ‘others’ had finished their meal. This led to protest by some progressive priests, including one of the founders of BSC”, he says, adding, “Dalit students were finally allotted three rooms in the hostel, exclusively reserved for them.”
“Those orthodox Hindus who blame Christian missionaries for conversion must thank this church institution for supporting and perpetuating caste system”, Macwan observes, adding, one should also not forget that caste discrimination has been a part of India’s established church, too.
Giving the example of ‘Syrian Christian’, which the ad mentions as among those to be preferred, Macwan says, “Historically, ‘Syrian Christians’ uphold that they were the first to be converted, that they were all ‘Brahmins’, that they were converted by none other then St Thomas, an apostle of Jesus Christ.”
“While Hindus did not allow people branded as ‘untouchable’ then (even today at many places) in temples for fear of pollution, the missionaries adopted a ‘progressive’ system in the church”, Macwan says, adding, in churches fathers would tie “a rope in the church to separate ‘touchable’ and ‘untouchable’ Christians!”
“They even maintained separate churches for two set of Christians and, of course, burial grounds”, he says, adding, “I visited a separate church for Dalit Christians in the Communist heartland Kerala, situated just 50 metres away across the road from a church exclusively for non-Dalit Christians.”
Pointing out that this was one of the contributory factors for the progressive ideological discourse, ‘liberation theology’, Macwan says, while there is no caste system in Bible or Quran, converted “untouchables” become victims become victims of caste even after they become Christians and Muslims.

Comments

rathod harish said…
Maru nam rathod haresh che hu amreli ni navjivan hospital ma kam ane hu Dalit chu me 1 makan lidhu che pan tya mari cast na lidhe reva javatu nathi cast vishe galu aape ane dhamkave che 2 varsh thi tya jai nathi sakatu

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…