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Shame, Not In Doha But In India

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

23 December, 2006

As the year 2006 is coming to an end, there is time for introspection and many issues, which need our attention. The media said that it represented people and campaigned for them to get justice particularly to the like of 'Jessica Lal'. Some others say that they fought for Priyadarshini Mattu and so on. Of course, the same media did not have time to report on Kharilanji. And it report only to report how violent Dalits have turned and why our police remain mute to them. This, they suggest, that, in this country, barring the caste Hindus, all other are using the 'liberty', freedom and 'democracy' as a ransom. ' Poor' caste Hindus are the most tortured soul who every one can cry that's why the website of our secular newspapers and secular channels have so much filth and rubbish dump together for every other than the caste Hindus. They vent their frustration through these channels and their websites.


While Sibu Soren deservingly gets no sympathy in the middle classes and the judge send him to jail immediately, Sanjay Dutt, Navjot Siddhu gets not only bail but also very warm good wishes of their upper caste well wishers. TV channels regularly show how Sanju Baba is going to the temple and the TADA judge has been extending his bails. The red tika over the forehead of Sanjay Dutt gets longer and longer day-by-day. None of them reports that Jharkhand's adivasis feel betrayed after Soren's trial.

I am not here to fight for Sibu Soren who, like many others, might have got corrupted and became victim of his own politics, yet the issue here is larger. The judgments and the analysis of the issues should be based on crime committed and not on who committed the crime. Unfortunately, in India, it is not important to have committed the crime but who committed the crime. Vaidkiki Hinsa Hinsa na Bhavati, as said in the holy texts that violence perpetrated by Brahmins is not violence. One does not know what does that exactly mean. Sibu's Brahmin secretary was allegedly blackmailing him but after the verdict every one of the Jha family became an expert on 'politics' 'cleanliness' and 'honesty' to demand that every politicians like Lalu, Paswan, and Mayawati (often this is the selective upper caste categorization) be hanged. If Jha were alive, I am sure his family would have demanded same punishment for him to be party with a notorious political leader? No, that is not the case.

Recently, on a trip to eastern Uttar-Pradesh, I had an interaction with my coach mates in the train who happened to be from an influential upper caste family of UP-Bihar suggesting that Priyadarshini Mattu was of bad character. I asked them how did they find that she was of a bad character and who was Santosh Singh to punish her? The matter is clear, caste loyalties matter in this country. We become honest if the judgment comes according to our caste/religion or regional interest otherwise abuses the courts if we disagree.

Attitudinal Difference

Yet, amidst all this, I still remember Gladly Stains and now surely Sabrina Lal, younger sister of Jessica Lal, who valiantly fought for her sister. Both the women have shown extremely mature tendencies without any prejudices. Both clearly said that they do not want death penalty for the ghastly crime, which committed against their nearest and dearest ones. Unlike the other cases here we saw the brave women taking things courageously and talking sensibly. We have seen the cases of Jha's family and other cases of the soldiers who sacrificed their life to save the attack on Parliament. The family women returned the medal in their honour given by the government under the political pressure of another loudmouth from Punajb, Manindrajeet Singh Bitta, who himself was a victim of terror attack during his Congress days. Bitta' these days organizes rallies for Bharat mata and want every terrorist to be hanged to save Bharat mata. They tried to influence the simple process of the court by suggesting that all the accused be immediately hanged. Why should not an accused have a right to the legal aid to defend him/her. The issue is easily communalized as all the accuse that the Hindutva want to hanged are 'dissenters', they are simply not upper caste Hindus. Let them demand death sentence for all those upper caste Hindus who are waiting in Tihar Jails for charges of rapes, murders and everything, which are equally criminal if not less. Let them also demand death penalty for all those who various commission have charged as responsible for murders, mayhem and pogroms of Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians since 1947 in various cities and villages. Violence against any Indian community or individual is a crime and must not go unpunished. But what is the reaction? Modi is our pride. Uma Bharati and Rithambhara our best spokesperson. Mr Lal Krishna Advani still cherishes the dream to be the prime minister without facing any criminal charges for demolition of the mosque. Murli Monohar Joshi still wants to fulfill his agenda to brahmanise India's school textbooks. Therefore, when Gladly Stains and Sabrina Lal talks against death penalty despite their enormous personal loss, it makes a lot of sense. It reflects our upbringing and our sense of commitment for the society.

The Temple entry Stunts

It is this sensibility that the upper caste Hindus needs to learn. Their do not touchism, as Vivekananda said, would destroy them in ultimate term. I know news channel proudly displayed the report of Dalits entry in a Rajasthan temple. These entries were also made many years back by some other 'reformers' also. Ambedkar fought for the rights of Dalits to enter into Kalaram temple in Pune. The result of Ambedkar's struggle for temple entry is well known to us. Ambedkar himself rejected the temple entry plan and instead went on to redefine Dalit culture and values.

But, there is another aspect of the temple entry issue. Despite our disagreement, one would like to ask, does a person who wishes to enter into it, and has a right to enter the temple or not. It is shocking that thousands of upper castes in Orissa sat on a protest against the alleged entry of Dalits in the temple, which according to them had defiled the temple. Orissa, off late, has been in news for not only Kalinganagar, but also for, 'technoseavy' chief minister Naveen Patnaik, should feel shame of it. More shocking were the Dalits who were still adamant to go to the temple despite such humiliation. Why should not they understand that finally they are not Hindus and never Hindus and when Dr Ambedkar redefined a new way of life for them, it was after much consideration and facing all such troubles, which they are doing. But when the Dalits were adamant to enter the temple, the state government of Navin Patnaik comes out with a formula to allow the Dalits to have the darshan through newly created windows. Is this a justice system, which prevails in our society where one kind of people do not want others to even access the 'god'. That is the Hindu way of life, who continues to live in utter denial mode as if such things do not happen. But finally, good sense prevailed to the Dalit groups in Orissa and they have decided to embrace the path shown by Dr Ambedkar. Our formula is simple. If you do not want me in your temple, I would discover my own. Why should I go and bang my head where the outcome is humiliating? Temple entry movements will never help the Dalits. It is an attempt to trap then in the crooked brahmanical structure. It is time for the Hindus to reform themselves or perish. They have no right to call themselves as civilized people.

Physically challenged as dissenters

Respect for dissent is not part of our system. And it not just dissents with the opinion who we hate. Dissenters in India are all those who look different too in their outlook and physique. Looking different is itself a disability in India. Hence, a physically challenged person is also a dissenter and if the person is a woman then the case is gone. The acceptability is nearly impossible. The colour is another dissenter. Obviously, in our circle of friends we would not allow colour women to enter and enjoy. And if that happen to be of African origin then the Indians bias and superiority complex comes very handy. So colour and physical disability are visible hence they are targeted at the very outset. Next come the caste disability. As long as your caste is not known fine but when it is known we sense a threat and disbelief. In the villages, which are India's heart, every one knows every ones caste and hence the segregation is open and complete. In the cities, caste based elite club are flourishing so you are being told greatness of the caste. Who will demolish caste to demolish the Hinduism?

Amidst all this, there is another category of people who have no fault of them and yet face trauma when things get out in open about them. It pains why an entirely private issue becomes subject of public scrutiny in such a merciless way. Yes, the issue of Santhi Soundarajan, the woman athlete who won us silver at Doha Asiad, has been deprived of her silver-medal for failing the 'gender' test. One may not know what exactly is gender test but surely a poor village girl Santhi has not manipulated like the nasty IPS officer of Orissa (ex IG Panda) to behave unusually as a woman. She has been born a girl child in a very poor family. How many of poor girls have this access to health and medication and luxury to go to a doctor to get checked related to their sexual issues and body development. We all know and as report suggests that she hails from a very poor background who had been working very hard to achieve her goal. Her parents are still wageworkers. Definitely Santhi is either a Dalit or comes from the most backward community in Tamilnadu. I would definitely appreciate the gesture of Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi who went ahead and distributed a cheque of Rs 15 lakh to Santhi despite all the noises being made.

Insensitivity towards Santhi

Now the question of Santhi's disqualification and the debates in India raises many issues. Whatever, the International Olympic Association or any other responsible body feel about this, there are certain facts very clear. Santhi is not a male. That she qualified other gender tests in another event in Korea. It was also argued that the railways rejected her for job. We must ask on what grounds? Does any one with a third gender has a right to get a job under sports quota or not? Does railways say that she was a male? Was she involved in a doping? So whatever was imposed on her was not a fault of her. What about Martina Navralitova who had been the greatest ever women tennis player but every body knows her sexual preferences? Should she be debarred from being termed as 'Women's Champion' or 'Women's player'? Will the sports authorities allow people like 'Iqbal', though a film character, to be in the cricket team if they come on their own merit, but definitely are not 'complete' man in conventional terms, because hearing impairment?

But here the issues are much bigger than a mere expose. They make you completely outcaste and downgrade you in front of your own eyes. One does not know whether Santhi has been reading newspapers or watching TV or not. If she was not doing any of these things, then I can feel happy for her. Such atrocious news items and question about gender of the person reflect gross insensitivity of those who boss our sports institutions and other who report them. Reporters went on overboard terming ' another shame' for India in Doha', 'Man' or 'woman'etc. One is amazed with such atrocious headlines in newspapers and TV channels. I can only say that having watched almost every channel, it was NDTV, which reported very sensitively on this issue. The other day, one must thank Arnab Goswami of Times Now for initiating a very thought provoking discussion on the issue.

What the issue of Santhi has brought into focus is two things. One the issue of people who claims to be transsexual or the third gender, even though with the pressure of traditional families, many of them live in disgust, contempt and totally isolated, though, I would definitely not like to comment about Santhi's sexuality. Her case is very clear. It is not even her personal choice but very possibly a natural deformity in her case, which might be corrected as doctors suggests. But such a deformity does not make her criminal. Unfortunately the issue has been raised by the high-pitched Indian media, which wanted to highlight the 'efficiency' of Indian officials at the Asiad. In trying to do so they have done immense damage to the personal life of Santhi for no fault of her. This news could have been reported in a much better way keeping with the sensitivity of the issue related to sex particularly when it belong to a woman.

So before I complete this, my disgust and dissatisfaction is not just with the media but also with the Dalit- Bahujan Groups. Why they kept quiet on this issue. Why are human rights and freethinkers silent? These are worrying signs. Should we speak of violation of human rights when it politically correct and keep conspicuously silent when it does not help us. Or it means that ultimately all those who cry against brahmanical hegemony are interested in their own hegemony but not to change the system. Their faith and belief system remain the same, deeply prejudiced against women and all others who look differ and think differ from them.

So when we come close to Year 2006, these things really pains when looking different or thinking different not only ensure as how can we come to the reality that the world is wide, diverse and still we all are the same as the slogan beautifully coined by International Humanist and Ethical Union (All different: All Equal).

I hope that India will grow simultaneously with diversity and dissent in the coming years. How can a nation and a society grow with such scandalous officials and reporters who criminalise the sexual deformity of a person and whose fight for people's right confine to the cases of certain high profile cases of page three parties, and who continue to ignore the bigger issues of dissent and disgust in India and whose ignorant reporters can simply call these dissenters as terrorists or Naxalites, both clearly meant for Muslims and Dalits respectively in the unofficial code of the officials too. We need an India where each one is respected and given equal opportunities go grow, where we sensitise to those also who are not vote banks where we can reach to those also who need food first and lecture later, we need an India which eliminate hunger first, which develop a philosophy of brotherhood for all and not for a selective few. That India, we wait for, the struggle for better life continues and so is the hope of millions who remain hungry and homeless despite 60 years of independence. .

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