EMINENT DALIT litterateur Mohan Dass Namishray feels that Dalits could use English as a weapon in their struggle to fight injustice and gain empowerment in today’s globalised world.
The celebrated Dalit writer, who had recently chaired a meeting of Dalit intellectuals where a portrait of ‘Goddess English’ was unveiled in Delhi, said that Macaulay was a messiah for Dalits as he opened the doors of school education for Dalit children despite opposition from Brahmins.
“That is why we celebrated his birthday on October 25 and will continue to do so”, said Namishray, who is on a visit to Bhopal. “Dalits have grown assertive and the scale of protests witnessed in the aftermath of Khairlanji incident in Maharashtra proved that Dalits are no longer going to submit themselves to persecution”.
He further said, “We need to connect with the rest of the world and that is why I personally welcome entry of multi- national companies (MNCs)”. Educated Dalit youths created awareness through Internet towards the rape and killings of members of Bhotmange family in Khairlanji”.
He further said that Dalits need to capture power and own businesses, publishing houses, magazines et al. “Media is doing a good job but it needs to do more follow-up in cases of atrocities on Dalits to ensure that justice is done to the victims”, he said, citing the examples of similar incidents of persecution of Dalits in Bhaumatola and Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh.
Namishray, who is author of 18 books including an autobiography and recipient of many prestigious awards, expressed his concern over the lack of Dalits in Indian media. He said,“Journalists are doing good job but we also need stories from the perspective of a Dalit. Dalit literature has made a great contribution towards creating awareness in Maharashtra.”
He further said, “Comparatively, Dalits are facing much more oppression in northern India, especially Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, owing to continuance of the old Brahminical order and traditions. The main challenge is establishment of a just society and for that the ‘Brahmin arrogance’ has to end”.
“As a Dalit writer I not only write for the 92.5 per cent Indians (excluding the upper castes) but also for the rest and introducing myself as a Dalit writer doesn’t limit my world vision or create any boundaries for my writings”, he said replying to a query whether the tag of Dalit writings creates boundaries for a writer.
On the division amongst political outfits representing the Dalits, Namishray terms it a manifestation of the Dalit angst. Also, some political leaders put personal interest ahead of community’s interest but lot of positive work is going on at the ground level towards making Dalits aware of their rights, says the writer who has written poetry and plays and has highlighted the role of Dalit freedom fighters through his writings. “Dalits need to get themselves educated and be competitive”, he says.
Namishray feels that modern Indian society must learn to respect the feelings, history and culture of Dalits to save the country. (The portrait of ‘Goddess English’ has been painted by Dalit artist Shanti Swaroop Baudh and shows a statue with pen in hand and computer, with map of India in the background)