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Equal Rights And Opportunities

By Nishikant Waghmare

05 November, 2007

"An India in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country, in whose making they have an effective voice, an India in which there shall be no high class and low class of people, an India in which all communities shall live in perfect harmony"
-Mahatma Gandhi.

In a country, where everybody is supposed to have equal rights and opportunities, where as every day we read in news papers that " Dalits are denied right to Food: Report today's DNA Mumbai November 3, 2007 page13,I am sorry to state that every day there is some News Item or TV channel report on dalits atrocity, when we the people of India as a civil society will change our mindset and treat all human beings as equal and give them dignity.

A Nation of more than 1.15 Billion People, where Untouchables(Dalits)are treated as animals, they have no right despites policies for social inclusiveness and equality, those belonging to the upper castes are still at the top of the social order and the dalits are at the bottom of the heap, With disparity and their right to food, water, education, temple entry, many Dalit families are facing starvation in India.

Globalisation has brought nations closer. It has triggered IT revolution, racism is a new social issue the world has come to debate. Slowly the issue of caste too will become just as debatable. India will soon emerge as a formidable world economic power, applauded and celebrated, the country will also have become a subject of social auditing.

Although the practice of "Untouchability" was abolished in 1950, it remains and is very much alive in India. The caste system in India is over 2,000 years old and is tied with the religion of Hinduism, so it is not going down easy. India has one of the world's largest democracies but the "Untouchables" do not generally feel that they have been given fair treatment.

There is no nation on earth that Human beings are treated as animal due to practice of caste system. This way we cannot develop as a Nation if there is no social peace, justice and social economic. Our civil society as a whole with a problem of inequality and oppression faced by a Dalits the most vulnerable section of our society. India cannot truly prosper and progress unless these issues are addressed with justice.

Our UPA Government's Common Minimum Programme wish to give Humane Face to underprivileged people of India and better life to all citizens by 2020. . Independence India @ 60Dr.Manmohan Singh, became the first sitting Indian Prime Minister to openly acknowledge the parallel between the practice of "Untouchability" and the Crime of Apartheid you described. "Untouchability is not just Social Discrimination; it is a Blot on Humanity."

Why the upper castes are not interested in giving up caste? Because caste (jati) helps him to exploit his fellowmen better — as it has a theological sanction under the Hindu religion. If the law of the jungle is that a strong animal shall devour the weak (otherwise called laissez faire or the survival of the fittest), in the jungle of Hinduism this law has the blessings of its sacred scriptures. That is why in India wealth is getting accumulated in the bands of top 10% to 15% of the upper castes and the rest are getting pauperised. And yet there is no public debate on the merits of caste anywhere, not even among our university eggheads.

If any body raises caste issue in any "intellectual seminars" such a fellow is dubbed biased, prejudiced if not a nuisance-monger–and laughed at. Every avenue of debate–media., public platform—is in the hands of the upper castes who gained a lot by holding on to caste. So we can't expect this upper caste nation to put a dagger into its own stomach. That means the future is gloomy.

Ambedkar answered this long time ago. He said that the Hindu society was incapable of producing a Voltaire. Caste, it is claimed is being pushed into the political arena. But by claiming that caste and race are two different things (they are as every student of sociology knows - but casteism is akin to racism - and this is what is being denied by implication) the Indian anthropologists have voluntarily jumped into the political arena.

Unfortunately what Ambedkar said many years ago is still true even today.

Babasaheb was also the first person in India to tell the world that untouchability is part of the caste system. And caste is the foundation on which Hindu religion stands. So all those persons like Vivekananda, Gandhi etc., who wanted to reform Hinduism, failed because Hinduism is not amenable to reform. One cannot reform Hinduism keeping intact the caste. If you touch caste, the whole edifice of Hinduism collapses, because Hinduism is nothing but caste. Gandhi failed because he wanted to abolish untouchability keeping caste as it is. Caste is an extension of untouchability with one Hindu caste (jati) being untouchable to the other. In Karnataka, there is a sub-caste (Satanis) among Brahmins which is treated as untouchable by the rest of Brahmins –forming the apex of the caste pyramid.

Gandhi knew this but did not like to put his hand into this beehive because he knew the bees will bite him all over. He wanted to reform Hinduism without touching the privileges that caste confers on its title-holder.

Ambedkar, was the first person in India to point out these unpleasant facts. That is why he became the most hated person in India, while Gandhi was elevated as Mahatma. We leave it to history to pronounce its judgment on Untouchability, therefore, is not confined exclusively to the Untouchable (Dalits).

In India there are approximately 280 million Dalits. This means that nearly 28% of the population is Dalit. It also means that in a country, where everybody is supposed to have equal rights and opportunities, one out of 4 persons is condemned to be Untouchable. "You can't do much about your family you are born into. You can do something about your own educational qualifications but you can't change your family. And if that is going to be held against people, it is going to be a long road indeed."

In general one can say that being a Brahmin means that you are more privileged. This can imply having a good education and, accordingly, a more powerful position in the society. Being born as a Dalit you will be less well off and because of less education you will have a less good job. In daily life there are a lot of consequences of being a Dalit .

United States Congressman Christopher Smith, said that for all the progress India has made over the years, it was highly regrettable that the lot of these 'untouchables' remained in such a terrible state as they continued to be victimised under the yoke of a shameful caste system.

Dalits are poor, deprived and socially backward. Poor means that they do not have access to enough food, health care, housing and/or clothing (which means that their physiological and safety needs are not fulfilled). They also do not have access to education and employment. With deprived we would like to underline the injustice they face in every days life. Officially, everybody in India has the same rights and duties, but the practice is different. Social backwardness, lack of access to food, education and health care keeps them in bondage of the upper castes.

The reason for the success of India's multicultural society is that there is no glass ceiling. Everyone, whatever his religion or language, can aspire to the topmost position. Thus, India today has a Hindu President, a Muslim Vice-President, a Sikh Prime Minister, a untouchable Chief Justice of India and a Christian as the President of the ruling Congress Party.

The human history will forever remember Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar as the emancipator if the millions of downtrodden people languishing for centuries in ignorance and all-pervasive destitution. It was Dr.Ambedkar whose singular and relentless fight against the oppression and exploitation bred by the age-old caste system and untouchability that became the source of inspiration to millions of his followers world-over and showed them the path of liberation.

"I have never claimed to be a universal leader of suffering humanity. The problem of the untouchables is quite enough for my slender strength. I do not say that other causes are not equally noble. But knowing that life is short, one can only serve one cause and I have never aspired to do more than serve the Untouchables." Bodhisattva Babasaheb Dr. B.R.Ambedkar.

I (author) would like to see in near future "My One wish in life [is] that during my Lifetime [the] Caste System from Indian society must go and all humans are treated as one." One Human family.

"If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive ..." - Eleonora Duse

Create A Global Wave of Compassion!

Wisdom and compassion – The way forward!

May Peace Prevail on Earth!

With Much Love,

NISHIKANT WAGHMARE [email protected]

Director-Asia & Pacific -Airline Ambassador UN NGO

Peace Representative- The World Peace Prayer Society UN NGO

22 Rajnigandha, Juhu Scheme, Mumbai-40004,Cell: 9820228023. November3, 2007.



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