Skip to main content

Why even if Dalit becomes Prime Minister, untouchability in India will not end

Former IPS officer Darapuri 
By Siddharth Modi*
The caste system in India is the oldest surviving social hierarchy. India is as much a caste-based country as it is an agriculture-based country. The whole societal structure is based on castes and class – dating back to the four varnas system, i.e. the Brahmins (priests), the Kshatriyas (soldiers), the Vaisyas (traders) and the Shudras (labourers). A fifth category that falls outside the varna system is that of the untouchables or the Dalits.
The varna system in the present has further been divided into thousands of castes of which the Dalits are the most oppressed and marginalized. The caste system has not developed because of the division of labour but the division of labourer. The occupations have been divided based on castes, and today they have been monopolized.
Let’s say, if a lower caste person wants to start a tea stall, she/he will face much larger difficulties in comparison to a high caste person. In various places at tea stalls, we see, there are two different sets of glasses for the lower and higher caste people. In villages around Jhansi, even today lower caste people have to take off their shoes when they pass off the houses of higher caste people.
We discussed the caste system in India with Sarwan Ram Darapuri (78 years) who comes from Jalandhar district of Punjab and is a 1972 batch IPS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre. Post his retirement in 2003; he worked actively on the issues related to human rights, Dalit rights, RTI, Forest Rights Act etc. He is currently the state president of Mazdoor Kisan Manch, founder member of Dr Ambedkar Mahasabha and the national spokesperson of All India Peoples Front.
Darapuri cited various instances that highlight the oppression and discrimination faced by the Dalits and lower caste people. During his posting as an IPS officer in Gorakhpur, he experienced this problem for the first time as he mentions that during his visit some people were sitting on the ground and some were sitting on the benches. He was told that those sitting on the ground are from lower castes. This is an irony; as the institutions that are supposed to bring an end to the problem are themselves practising it.
Post his retirement, he came across a case from Hardoi district in Uttar Pradesh related to land ownership. During the 1970s a Dalit family was given land, but they were not allowed to occupy or cultivate on this land because of the exploitations from local people. He intervened and sat on dharnas with the victim family, and after 34 years of oppression, they got their rightful land.
Darapuri, 1972 batch UP cadre IPS officer, has been actively working on issues related to human rights, Dalit rights, RTI, Forest Rights Act
Another issue was of a village where the newly elected Gram Pradhan was from the Dalit community, but he could not take his office. He could not work as per his duties as the previous Pradhan who was a non-Dalit didn’t hand over the registers and overall charge to him. Mr Darapuri and other activists intervened and fought for the rights of the Dalit Pradhan.
In 2018, he came across a typical case of casteism in Lucknow. Based on an order issued by the Supreme Court, the state governments had to ensure that people from socially backward castes are hired to cook mid-day meals in schools for children to eradicate caste-based discrimination.
In a school, 70 out of the 76 enrolled students refused to eat the meal as a Dalit woman prepared it. The parents of the children also protested against the lower caste woman for cooking food for their children. Darapuri demanded a probe in this incident and fought against the exploitation faced by the Dalit woman.
Based on his experience, he mentions that a very small effort is required to bring a change and the society should come forward to resolve the issues related to caste-based discrimination or any other form of discrimination based on gender, colour, creed, sexual orientation etc.
 For long, we have seen that education is being vouched as the way to eradicate this issue. But it needs to be augmented with experiences related to social transformation as the society cannot be changed without bringing up social equality.
In India, Dalit politics and the Dalit movements have long been limited to saving reservations in government jobs and the victory of Dalit leaders has been considered the success of Dalit politics. It is no misnomer to say that even if a Dalit becomes a Prime Minister, the Dalits cannot be uplifted easily.
The benefits will be passed on only to the Dalit leaders who will get political power and the Dalit labourers, and landless farmers will continue to face the oppression and never-ending poverty. Therefore, Dalit politics and activists must be transformed so that they work in the direction of safeguarding the rights of the lower caste people.
---
*Management student at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Lack of welfare schemes, BSF curbs force West Bengal farmers to migrate far away

Counteview Desk  In a representation to the National Human Rights Commission chairperson, a senior West Bengal based activist has complained that villagers living near the border with Bangladesh are forced to migrate to as far away as Mumbai and Kerala because of lack of government sensitivity towards their welfare in original villages. Giving specific instances, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), said, if the Border Security Force (BSF) had not put any restriction on agricultural activities, and if villages had properly implemented welfare schemes, these people would never migrate to other States. Text: I want to attract your immediate attention to the inhumane condition of the migrated workers of Gobra village, Swarupnagar Block in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal to seek your urgent intervention to protect the rights of these people. Gobra is a village situated near the Indo-Bangladesh Border where the border fencing is about 500 meters i