“It is your claim to equality which hurts them. They want to maintain the status quo. If you continue to accept your lowly status ungrudgingly, continue to remain dirty, filthy, backward, ignorant, poor and disunited, they will allow you to live in peace. The moment you start to raise your level, the conflict starts “. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
“Who are you? Why did you come here? How dare you take a Parsi name? You scoundrel! You have polluted the Parsi inn!” A dozen angry-looking, tall, sturdy Parsis, each armed with a stick, lined up in front of his room and fired a volley of questions.
His five years of staying in Europe and America had completely wiped out of his mind any consciousness that he was an untouchable, and that an untouchable wherever he went in India was a problem to himself and to others. With great difficulty he managed to find accommodation in a Parsi Inn at Baroda. The whole hall was enveloped in complete darkness. There were no electric lights, nor even oil lamps to relieve the darkness. The idea of returning to the inn to spend the night therein was most terrifying to him, and he used to return to the inn only because he had no other place under the sky to go for rest. But the chirping and flying about of the bats, which had made the hall their home, often distracted his mind and sent cold shivers through him, reminding him of what he was endeavouring to forget, that he was in a strange place under strange conditions. He subdued his grief and anger through the feeling that though it was a dungeon, it was a shelter, and that some shelter was better than no shelter.
Young Bhimrao had gone to Baroda with high hopes. He gave up many offers. He felt that it was his duty was to offer his services first to the Maharaja of Baroda, who had financed his education. And here he was driven to leave Baroda and return to Bombay, after a stay of only eleven days.
In Dr. Ambedkar’s own words, ‘This scene of a dozen Parsis armed with sticks lined up before me in a menacing mood, and myself standing before them with a terrified look imploring for mercy, is a scene which so long a period as eighteen years has not succeeded in fading away. I can even now vividly recall it and never recall it without tears in my eyes. It was then for the first time that I learnt that a person who is an untouchable to a Hindu is also an untouchable to a Parsi’.
Nothing has changed much after 100 years of this incident in the life of Young Bhimrao Ambedkar, who returned to India after studying Barrister at Law at Gray’s Inn, and enrolling at the London School of Economics where he started work on a doctoral thesis.
100 years later, Rohith Vemula, a bright young Scholar and follower of Dr. Ambedkar, Phule, Shahu and Periyar was thrown out of the hostel from Hyderabad Central University along with four other Ph.D. Scholars. Their crime was- following the constitution in letter and spirit. They simply expressed their right to freedom of expression, religion and other fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. Rohith was labelled as Anti-national, Casteist and Extremist.
Rohith was no ordinary student. He was a University topper and got admission to Ph. D under general category and not reserved quota. Though it took a young scholars life to expose the Caste based discrimination in universities and institutes of higher learning, Rohith Vemula is just a tip of Iceberg. There are many more Rohith’s waiting to happen not only in universities but across the institutions, government organisations, Public sector undertakings, Private Companies and even the NGO’s. No place is spared. The Caste hegemony and age old hatred towards the marginalized, the SC-ST’s & Backwards is increasing with every passing day.
When Dr. Ambedkar was called for a written Evidence to the ‘University Reforms Committee’ he stated how the teachings at universities should be. “Teaching should be scientific, detached and impartial in character. A student should learn to distinguish between the matter of fact and mere matter of opinion and should learn to state fairly the position of those to whose practical conclusions he is most stoutly opposed. He should become able to examine a suggested idea, and see what comes of it, before accepting or rejecting it. He should be able to weigh evidence, to follow and criticize argument and put his own value on authorities”. Was Rohith not following exactly what his teacher said long back?
Those who are responsible for Rohith’s death belong to the same school of thought which termed Dr. Ambedkar as Anti-national when he met the Simon commission, when he got the Communal Award which was announced by the British Premier Mac. Donald giving separate electorates to the depressed classes. Dr. Ambedkar received threats to life intimidations, abuses due to his firm stand taken on Gandhi’s fast to oppose the separate electorates for untouchables.
Manu has never raised his head in the manner which we see in the recent times. It is not that he was sleeping during the previous governments, he was very much at work and very silently accomplished his task of eliminating the Outcastes whom he prescribed as not eligible for any kind of learning and education according to his sacred smritis.
Anything by the name ‘Ambedkar’ is still polluting to most of the so called progressive Indian society. A simple greeting of ‘Jai Bhim’ in a public place raises eyebrows of many. Anything by the name ‘Ambedkar’ is a direct threat to their very existence for they know that it is not the Muslims, Christian missionaries or Communists, it is only Ambedkarites who can expose and finish their age old dominance in India.
They know it from beginning and it is not just like that Sardar Patel said “the Congress has not only closed doors but also the windows of the Constituent assembly for Dr. Ambedkar”.
One can just imagine the plight of being a Scheduled Caste-Tribe in India. The discrimination begins in the village where they are still not allowed drinking water from common wells. And anyhow after all the struggle they reach the cities and Universities, the matter becomes even worse. It does not stop here, after one leaves the university and Joins a government or private organisation, the Caste based discrimination continues. He/She is harassed, victimized and side-lined at every point of opportunity and growth.
Caste functions like a well-knit trade union in almost all organizations in India and the sacred thread which binds them together does not allow anyone without a thread to reach the top positions.
The data already available in public domain gathered through various RTI’s in different organisations and published by various agencies is a testimony to this fact how all top positions in various government departments and educational institutions are occupied by 10-15% of the Savarna Caste Hindus while the majority population i.e. the SC-ST-OBC’s are found nowhere in the top decision making posts.
In a recent Vibrant Gujrat summit, the chief of World Bank Mr Jim Yong Kim cautioned that an enduring “bias” on the basis of Caste and other factors can impede prosperity. “Indian society has an enduring exclusion that is based, among other things, on caste identities. This bias can impede shared prosperity, serving as a basis for discrimination in many spheres, including in employment and other markets, as well as in public services,” he said.
While it is very easy to blame the Oppressors who are duty bound as per their sacred shashtras and smritis , equally responsible for the apartheid are the beneficiaries of the affirmative action policy i.e. Reservations. Most of them are totally indifferent to the plight of their fellow brethren, they never raise voice against injustice, hide their Caste and act as loyal servants to their masters. The irony is many of them are completely hand in glove with the Savarnas and Oppressors for petty personal gains. Dr. Ambedkar called such people ‘Tools and Stooges’ who betray their society.
The carriers of sacred thread must understand that the organizations like ‘ASA’ and ‘APSC’ are an unstoppable phenomenon now. The celebrations of Saviribai Phule and Birsa Munda Jayanti is just a beginning as the real heroes have started arriving on stage. The more they supress, the more ‘Rohiths’ will rise.
Chetan Bhagat in an article in TOI has blamed Caste based reservations for Rohith’s death and all the other campus deaths in India. I see this as nothing more than a case of mental bankruptcy. Nowadays it has become a fashion with the so called elites who are themselves the beneficiaries of the ‘Privileged Castes’ to blame reservations for everything wrong happening in India similarly as they blame Pakistan and Muslims for every act of terror without introspecting what is the root cause for all this. Every Tom Dick and Harry is doing this. The day is not far when even for the acts of nature like Tsunami and floods, Reservation policy would be blamed.
The Savarnas are repeatedly getting frightened by the rising aspirations and assertions of the Bahujans. Dr. Ambedkar warned “Those downtrodden classes are tired of being governed. They are impatient to govern themselves. This urge of self-realisation in the downtrodden must not be allowed to devolve into class struggle or class war. It would lead to the division of the House. That would indeed be a day of disaster”. For, as has been well-said by Abraham Lincoln: “A house divided against cannot stand very long”.
The Prime Minister in Lucknow speaking on death of Rohith said that ‘Ambedkar never complained or lamented’. How can it be? It was Dr. Ambedkar who complained and challenged the caste hegemony of the Brahmins. It was he who protested against the Kalaram Mandir entry Ban for untouchables and right to water which was banned for Untouchables by the Brahmins. Was Rohith not doing the same when he was protesting against the ‘Beef Ban’ a right to eat a particular food or Capital punishment? Was his act Anti-national?
Rohit is gone and with him his dreams, the dream of becoming a writer like Carl Sagan. He could have easily blamed the VC, the M.P who labelled him as him Anti-National and also the HRD minister in his suicide note and landed all of them in Jail but he did not. It was his Compassion for human life that he protested against capital punishment and with the same Compassion like Buddha he pardoned even his enemies, the culprits who compelled him to end his life.
As experience proves, rights are protected not by law but by social and moral conscience of the society. The Indian society badly needs moral conscience. Law can punish a single solitary recalcitrant criminal. It can never operate against the whole body of people who choose to defy it. Social conscience is the only safeguard of all rights, fundamental or non-fundamental.
The ruling class of India must understand that today’s Rohith is tired of being governed, he wants his due share in the resources of this country. They must also see to it that one Rohith has sacrificed his life, but not all will do so. They may think the other way round. The sooner the governing class of India realizes this, the better it is.
Thanks to the rising awareness and social media, the protests for Institutional killing of Rohith are held not only in India, but also in international Universities like Harvard, Boston, and Johannesburg. Rohith’s case has once again proved how ‘ Crony Casteism’ is at work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year with full speed of 4G even before the technology arrived in India.
Dr. Ambedkar through his intelligence, reason and vast knowledge was able to get for the deprived and marginalised, the right to live a dignified life which was denied to them by the sacred Hindu texts. The rising number of his followers from various strata of society is only a testimony to the fact that ‘Ambedkarism’ is an unstoppable phenomena. His followers are using his vast treasure of writings, speeches, quotations, pictures and everything he left behind. The Savarnas could not stop him when he was alive, nether they would succeed in stopping his ideas to spread and his followers.
The message is loud and clear. Don’t mess with the Ambedkarites. The sooner the Oppressors accept this fact and mend their ways the better it is as his followers have time and again proved that ‘Ambedkar Dead is More Dangerous than Ambedkar Alive’.
Written by – Abhay Dongre