It was a solidarity protest against atrocities on Dalits in Gujarat and other parts of the country. Numerous organisations came. Jantar Mantar, during the session of Parliament, was crowded as usual with diverse group. On the left hand side of our protest was the MRPS, the biggest organisation representing Madiga community in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Madigas are one of the biggest among the scheduled Castes in Andhra Telangana. Their protest at Jantar Mantar started from July 17th and will continue till 10th or 11th of August.Every day several people come under different banners for demanding categorisation of reservation which means sub quota for them. As we started speaking, they made their microphone at much more high decibel which made it virtually difficult to listen. After some time, a Member of Parliament came and he requested us to reduce our volume. We stopped our programme for 10-15 minutes to allow the MP to speak. After he left, their noise agains started.
At our forums were the talks of Dalit-OBC-Aadivasi unity to fight against brahmanical onslaught. Everybody spoke against Hindutva and same stereotyped which we have been hearing for nearly three-four decades decade. Manuwad, brahminwaad and we are not Hindus and so on.
If we have a look at Jantar Mantar just for a few days, diverse groups are sitting on protests and a majority of them are ‘inclusion’ of their castes either in the reservation list or give them separate quota. When Madigas came to Delhi for their demands, would the Malas ( the biggest and most powerful among Dalit communities in Andhra Telangana) was having their own sitting terming ‘categorisation’ as an attempt to ‘divide’ the community.
Now my question was simple. Why couldn’t the Malas and Madigas joined the protest against atrocities on Dalits when many people had turned up from different parts of the country. We all condemn Hindutva and we are going to poll in Uttar Pradesh which are do and die battle for us to save this democracy. Who should we ask people vote in Uttar Pradesh ?
It is easier to have one tone of crying atop of your voice against Brahmanism but that is a clever ploy of many who do not want to peep into our own manipulations and surrender to brahmanical forces.
The thing is that it is easier to bring ‘revolution’ inside JNU where we think our world but the same people when they go to their own communities become different. The battle lines are in India’s villages where each community except for most marginalised, has its own privileges which they don’t want to do away with or share with the Dalits and aadivasis. Caste identities are so powerful and ‘intellectuals’ are here to justify all the crookedness of their leaders.
The problem is that we are not interested to introspect, to learn from our mistakes as we feel we dont make any. We feel that just crying against brahmanism will solve our problems. Well, that is not going to do that. Malas are politically intelligent and so are Madigas, at least their ‘political leaders’ and their ‘intellectuals’ so what stops them coming together and resolve the issues. It is not an issue at one place but in each state one power community is at the loggerheads with other as the blame game goes ‘they have grabbed all the quota’. At the time when the government have virtually close door for jobs, our politicians gives it a ‘gift’ to communities. Each community is asking for quota but none of the leader is fighting as why government privatising railways, airlines, public sectors. None is asking why teachers are not being appointed, and education is not being given enough grants. The problems are multiple and we are just responding in very fragmented way. The health services are out of bound for people and the government is talking of ‘insurance’. These are all attempt to keep us in good ‘humour’ and not address the basic issues of right to education, health and housing.
The thing is that Telangana facing a big protest in a few regions where Mallana Sagar Irrigation Project is going to submerge very large number of villages which will definitely include Dalits. It means the protesters in Delhi will lose ‘nothing’. It shows that our political protest are revolved around reservation and nothing beyond. It means that we are ready to fight against our own without sitting and discussing and therefore giving everyone an opportunity to use or misuse. The biggest victims of these bloody ‘developmental’ projects are Dalits, peasantry OBCs, and aadivasis and keeping quiet on an issue which threaten to displace millions and uproot them from their native place itself is a crime but we see criminal silence. We are told ‘we dont have any stake in it’. It is disturbing.
When the people can not join a protest in the heart of Delhi in the name of atrocities on Dalits and focus on honking on your caste identities then we must understand that the real battle in India is castes which are over 5000 and each caste has its own perception. What ever political identity we give in our discourse, at the end of the day, caste is a double edged sword. It may benefit some people politically but marginalise others further. Political class has benefited at the cost of its people. Beware who want to further divide people. yes, there are diverse group, diverse identities and their issues which need to be resolved but definitely political leaders enjoy these differences to ensure that a movement remain fragmented.
The moot question remain. How do you create an alternative ? How do you bring communities together and make a programme and more over, are you really interested in bringing them together? And it cant happen in symbolism, not by ‘proving’ who can shout more but by bringing them together on a socio-political programme of common interest, resolving the minor contradictions among communities and ensuring their participation in all your political, social and cultural programmes. It is important to acknowledge diversity and trying to create a monolith to counter the other ‘monolith’ will be futile, will never succeed, The success will come through a pragmatic Common Minimum workable programme and a social-political coalition and not through eccentric non political approach. Politics never succeed on exclusivity but ensuring wider participation of communities. We hope people will understand it and ensure this for upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections which are a challenge for all of us.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social and human rights activist. He blogs at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com twitter @freetohumanity Email: firstname.lastname@example.org