Game Against Dalits
By Dr. Bizay Sonkar Shastri
And Suresh Varghese
Dr. Bizay Sonkar Shastri,
a former Member of parliament who is currently Chairman of the National
Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes spoke with Suresh
Varghese of Indian Currents
How do you assess the
clashes between Dalits and Jat Sikhs in Talhan village of Jalandhar
We intervened in this issue
two months before the violence erupted. It was a very serious matter
a social boycott had been imposed by the Jat Sikhs on the Dalits,
who constitute 70 per cent of the population of that village. According
to our Constitution, such discrimination should not be allowed. At that
time, one of the members of our commission and the police DIG went to
the village and studied the developments. We issued instructions, including
the urgent withdrawal of the social boycott, to the state authorities,
but the Punjab government didnt implement it. Then we called the
chief secretary of Punjab as also the social development commissioner
on 28th May and inquired to them what actions they had taken so far
to restore normal life in the village. They again promised us that within
15 days they would implement the commissions recommendations to
create a conducive atmosphere. I told them the situation in Talhan was
very dangerous, and unless strong action was taken, the worst would
happen. My fears have come true.
The Punjab government failed
to measure the gravity of the situation. I wanted to visit the spot
but the state government informed us that they could not provide necessary
security arrangements for our visit. But the very same administration
is giving protection and security to the visiting Congress leaders.
It is a wonderful argument! It is a political game against Dalits.
Even if the Dalits acquired
economic stability, they do not get the social acceptance, especially
in religious matters
Social recognition is a matter
of a mindset. It reflects the attitude of a society towards a particular
community. But our SC/ST political leaders are creating a divide in
the society. They are presenting things on casteist lines. This polarisation
will not help the Dalits to integrate into the social mainstream. Without
social harmony we can gain nothing. Remember that the SC/STs are 30
crores in India; more than the American population. If they remain backward,
or away from the mainstream of development, the nation will never achieve
As a result of our reservation
system, SC/STs are slowly progressing in education, parliamentary participation,
government services and related jobs. But in industries and business,
their participation is totally nil. Ninety percent of the SC/ STs are
landless. So you can imagine their contribution to the productive sectors
of our country. At the level of economic empowerment, the SC/STs should
get more attention in this competitive world.
Will society permit learned
priests or pandits of a Dalits or OBCs background to perform pooja in
It reflects the conservative
mindset of our society. These practices are not based on Vedas. There
is no such restriction for Sudras to perform rituals in
worship places. Vedas do not prescribe a social system based on Varnas.
Vyas, a Sudra, collected all these Vedas. Apart from the four main branched
of Vedas, there are 1151 sub branches. In 1997 there was a Vedic conference
held in the Prayag in Uttar Pradesh, and experts from 700 branches of
When I was in Parliament,
I raised one question in March 1999:why cant we get the copyright
of Vedas which contain abundant knowledge of universe and life? Many
parliamentarians laughed at me. But it is very shocking news that four
months back a German got a copyright on the Vedas. I can point out a
number of Vedic scholars, from the Dalit community. There was a time
in ancient history that the Brahmins came to Sudras to gain knowledge.
But today Sudras are forced to carry dead animals; it is our destiny.
Two Sudras, Ved Vyas and
Valmiki, created two legendary figures of our life Krishna and
Ram. This is the contribution of Sudras to Hindu philosophy and culture.
Entire Atharva Veda is written by Sudras. In Manusmrithi there is a
mention that Sudra cannot read Vedas. If a Sudra can collect and codify
all Vedas and write the full text of Atharva Veda, why cant he
go through these scriptures? These are all some fictitious logs inserted
into the Manusmrithi later.
In the post liberalization
era, government jobs and protected jobs are shrinking rapidly, adversely
affecting the SCs
No doubt, through privatisation,
government-service opportunity is decreasing. But reservations can be
continued in the private sector also. In private sector too, government
may provide free land or infrastructure to the entrepreneurs and a number
of laws are also applicable to them. Government control is still there.
Then why dont they implement reservation policy also?
SC/ST youths should come
forward to start small scale industries, cottage industries and business
shops because it will give more impetus to their social and economic