To make their voices heard, Dalits need to protest 365 days a year
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To make their voices heard, Dalits need to protest 365 days a year

Unless the constituency demands their fair share and refuses to bow down, the State order is going patronise a stepfatherly treatment to the Dalits

analysis Updated: Apr 12, 2018 12:29 IST
Dalits,India,Social Media
Members of various student organisations express solidarity with the Dalit Student Rohith Vemula. Unless Dalits move away from the personality of victimhood and assert a responsive strategy, their life will be doomed to failure and untimely death. (Hindustan Times)

There is a growing crisis of faith among Dalits regarding their rights in a country marked by social, juridical, economic, and political injustices. It is in this light that we must debate the raison d’être of Dalit domicile in a country under a Brahmin-Baniya supremacy. Every action of the caste society against Dalits brings their very their existence into question. This is manifested through the restriction of Dalits from ownership of land, industries and resources. Repeated ostracisation, mass violence, lynching, and intimidation are inflicted on Dalit minds and bodies to remind them of their non-belonging in India’s caste society.

The nation as an abstract consciousness is used by the ruling castes to deny all opportunities to the Dalits. Nationalism is used as an ambush strategy to hit the Dalits hard. There is a physical and institutional marginalisation of the Dalits. Cancelling of scholarships, incremental increases in fees to prevent Dalits from entering the citadels of educational institutes, non-fulfilment of reservation policies and overlooking the sub-component plan in the Budget presents to us a dismal picture for Dalits.

The current situation in India is oppressive and unbearable for the Dalit constituency. Social media is toxic and is reflective of an Indian society addicted to the ugly messages on Twitter feeds. Every Dalit, tribal and minority assertion is taken as an affront. Trolls are the new lynch mobs on social media.

The landownership for the community is the lowest in the country. Only 9.23% land is owned by Dalits, according to the NSSO Household Ownership and Operational Holdings in India. Dalits have to become much more fierce in their demand for land. Since they don’t own land, they have no place to call their own. Because of this caste India becomes a confused space to articulate genuine critical conversations around Dalit existence.

Dalits needs to amplify the voices of reparation that remain unpaid. The radical demands which stir a practical output would put the oppressor in defensive mode. Unless the Dalit constituency demands its fair share and refuses to bow down, the State order is going continue with its stepmotherly treatment towards the Dalits. The issues of class, gender, religion, sexuality, colonialism and xenophobia have to go along with the contestations of caste violence.

The Dalits need to devise new strategies and move out of their imposed caste margins. Otherwise, their struggle will remain confined to fighting the caste order embedded in the caste system by further pushing themselves into deep-caste caves.

Dalits need to take the situation into their own hands. They need to form local groups to defend their rights and push for justice. Such groups could be legally-educated and politically-informed. Youth cadre need to push for solid unification and raise the issue of dignity in rural-urban geographies.

An action needs to be responded to with an action. The courts time and again have shown to the Dalit community that they are the victims and will continue to do so as long as the Brahminical structures are in operation. Unless Dalits move away from the personality of victimhood and formulate a responsive strategy, their lives will be doomed to failure. They need to revisit their tendency of begging for justice.

Dalits need to protest 365 days a year in the neo-liberal Brahminical state. In the sagacious words of Malcolm X, “Let the black man speak his mind so that the white man really knows how he feels... Once you put the facts on the table, it’s possible to arrive at a solution.” The Dalits need to record their dissent and disapproval without which their democratic existence will cease to be.

Suraj Yengde is with the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard and a W.E.B. Du Bois Nonresident Fellow.

The views expressed are personal

First Published: Apr 12, 2018 12:29 IST