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Dalit: Towards The Search For
Alternative Strategies

By Rajkumar

19 January, 2010

This paper argues for the need for some strategies that suits the emerging scenario in the given context of democratic space available in the Indian and the mass psychology. I try to portrait a frame of analysis for this argument which needs further debate and refinement at various circles and level.

1. State repression can be fought legally in a given democratic space at any levels. However, non-state-repression unleashed upon one community by another can not be fought so easily, as the former enjoys a silent and subtle approval and sanction so called majority community. This trend is explicitly reflected at various instances. To illustrate few: When Indira Gandhi was assassinated there was a systematic attack on the Sikh community. This undemocratic violence was then legitimised by statements such as ‘when big trees falls earth shakes’. The pogroms in Gujarat, anti-Bihari violence in Maharashtra, fall in the same category. Salwa Judam mode of repression is one of the indicators of institutionalisation of the non-state-repression.

2. In India, indeed, there is a very thin line between the state repression and the non-state repression. While the former faces many limitations and constraints due to international human rights instruments and the constitutional frame-work, the later constantly attempts to grab whatever available spaces and factors (such as cultural unification, nationalistic sentiments, revitalisation of the symbols/codes of manuvadhi caste system, mass communication medias, bureaucracy, juries prudence, expanding the support base beyond borders and seas) to augment and expand it.

3. The above process of augmentation & consolidation of non-state-repression could be understood through various instances in this country; let us have a look at a set of two instances. One: The 73rd Amendment and the PRI movement that followed have been a hot topic of the ruling elite citing it as a greater step forward in expanding the democracy in India. This faulty propaganda had been later exposed to the whole world that was one of the world’s most stupid conceptions, when the world came to know that the elected local Dalits had been prevented by the local dominant caste groups from ascending to the chair. This ‘(un)democratic reality’ sustained for a long period, and neither the Honourable juris prudence nor the governance system of state apparatus could do anything. Neither there has been any organised country level agitation against this by the body of civil society. This reality is the clear pointer of the fact that there is a very close, invisible and organic linkage between the state repression and the non-state repression systems. Now let us see the second instance: This took place in Karnataka state in December 2009. Mr. K.H.Muniyappa is a Dalit, and a Member of Parliament and Central Railway Minister of States. He also enjoys the credit of being elected as an MP from his constituency for five consecutive terms, as a Congress party candidate. He holds every right to have a surprise visit to any of the railway stations to review and monitor various renovation and expansion projects going on. When he was engaged in such a visit in one such railway stations in Bangalore, a local MLA who belongs to a regional dominant community in the state got agitated on the grounds that the Central Railway Minister had violated the protocol! The issue allegedly was that the local MLA had not been informed about the visit as the railway station was located in his constituency. The poor Dalit Minister of the Centre faced the wrath… he was chased out from the railway station vicinity by local thugs, who belong to none other than the same political party. These two instances expose one single truth that the dictum of the majoritarian - repressive culture is getting shaped so fast as a de facto framework for governance system; it can on the one hand block the constitutional rights entitled for the Dalit by negating/violating all sort of protocols, norms and democratic principles, and on the other hand humiliate a high-profiled person if he/she is a Dalit with the disguise of protecting the official protocol. There is a silent blessing for this on the part of the mass psychology in this country. This is the dangerous sign of the growth of the perilous design.

4. Manuvadhi lobby perpetrates this perilous design, corporate sponsor it, the section of hidden-manuvadhi silently approve it, secular civil groups murmur over it, and subaltern secular protagonist lack to understand this intrinsic dynamics, and finally the subalterns bear it. I prefer to identify this trend as, the ‘hidden-representation of non-state repression’. This hidden representation is a wider level phenomenon in India, which is organically inherent in Manuvadhi culture, and is invisible for which the Dalits and Adivasis are the major victims in India. At least in the case of Adivsi there is some security mechanisms such as 5th Schedule. Whereas for Dalits even what is available is accommodative mechanism to get co-opted into the system which is actively engaged in twining state repression and non-state repression, and forced to remain as silent spectators.

5. The subtle twining of state-repression and non-state repression is the underlying socio-political processes in India. This meticulous twining is carried out by all possible ways by using all potential factors as pointer out earlier. This trend is further speeded up in the neo-liberal casino economy which India is subscribed to, as the global and Indian corporate have found out that this twining-mode pays them multiple dividends - gaining greater access to and control over human/natural resources, consolidating their position in policy making processes and augmenting their control over governance systems. Consequently this lead into unbridled appropriation of human/natural resources for capital accumulation. Those who have ample knowledge and well-versed skills in this twining-business make leap-frog strides. It is indisputable fact that US is professionally carrying-on this twining-business at global level for their imperialist expansion. They succeeded in victimising the Muslim community and other progressive countries by way of branding them ‘the axis of evil’. The world started believing it and there is a silent consensus for the mass killing. The UN body being reduced into simple impotent and mere spectator body of this atrocity is the reflection of this reality. The same pattern is being efficiently taken forward in India.

6. The expansion and taking this perilous trend forward, clearly depend on thinning the line between state-repression and non-state repression. Salwa Judam is nothing but the epitome of this thinning/twining business. More the thinning greater the expansion. There is an urgent need for the Human Rights defenders in India to re-strategize their intervention on this perspective rather then investing their valuable resources on the western mode of rights-defending. Already National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) has rightly paved way in that direction. That effort needs greater consolidation at national level integrating and drawing potential actors and resources.

7. The narrowing down of the gap between state-repression and non-state repression (or twining them subtly) not only leads towards expansion of virtual imperialist market economy but also buttressing some sort of institutional sustainability to the obfuscate design. The pace in which the amorphous system becoming overt in India is a dangerous factor. I consider it is right time that groups particularly the subaltern and pro-subaltern forces take cognizance of this factor while designing their strategies. The next step forward for such forces mainly relies on having a critical understanding of this trend.

Rajkumar accompanies peoples' organisations and groups in voluntary sectors. He recently founded Black Basin - a forum for rights based intervention in water sector in south India. [email protected]

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