Kursi hai tumhara ye janaza to nahin hai
Kuchh kar nahin sakte to uter kyon nahin jaate
- Irtiza Nishat
First of all, I presume that the Dalit MPs have no time to read this article. Secondly if they happen to read this, they would label me as an agent of the Congress or the BJP party. I do not care for these sorts of allegations. I shall always raise the voice of my people whenever I find an opportunity or a platform. I feel that every concerned Dalit should come forward to raise voice of the marginalised Dalits.
Dalit Representation in the Parliament
It is often seen that the Dalits leaders are allured by political parties either for plum posts or financial rewards. The majority of the Dalit leaders are chosen only to exploit the strength of the Dalits in the Dalit populated constituency. Political parties run by Upper Caste Hindus, generally, do not entertain closely the Dalit leaders unless or until he or she religiously follow their ideology and be ready always for causing callous damage to the interests of the Dalits at large. For Example, Chirag Paswan, a Dalit leader from Bihar went to Vaishno Devi to seek her blessings for his film. Such category of Dalit leaders is suitable to national political parties run by Upper Caste Hindus. Since the BJP backed by RSS came into power at the centre, the party has pruned the strength of the Dalits hence they are under-represented in the Parliament of India. Those who are in the BJP are voiceless, powerless and toothless. They cannot dare to even stand closer to Prime Minister Narender Modi. As per Home Minister Amit shah officials tweet in 2022, 52 Dalits Members of Parliament are in the BJP. Despite this, the Dalit Members of Parliament are unable to raise voice against atrocities being committed by Upper Caste Hindus in every state, district or village. The Dalits are subjected to all kinds of humiliations and insults at the hands of the Upper Caste politicians and administrators.
Bharat Ratna Baba Saheb Dr, Bhim Rao Ambedkar, a great son of India, a constitutionalist, a Barrister -at- law, an economist and a sociologist observed that the fight between Dalits and Hindus is social not religious. The oppressed and supressed Dalits are subjected to various kinds of social disabilities. In 1927, Dr. Ambedkar launched Mahad Satyagraha to allow untouchables to use water in a public tank in Mahad, Maharashtra. Dr. Ambedkar was a rebel. Dr. Ambedkar did not bother for any kind of plum post or financial award but kept on fighting the Brahmanical supremacy till his death on 6th December, 1956.
After his death, not a single BJP Dalit member of parliament could dare to stand for the rights of the Dalits. In December 2019, a 20-year -old Dalit boy was beaten in Ahmedabad, Gujarat for sporting a moustache. In Chhatarpur, Madhya Pradesh, stones were thrown at a Dalit groom`s wedding. The curse of discrimination has permeated into the educational institutions without impunity. The Dalit students are committing suicides because of antagonistic attitude towards them. Rohith Vemula in 2016 committed suicide in the hostel of University of Hyderabad. The Hindu press planted knowingly several stories and the case was given different colour.
Even the Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani said that there is no question of an apology from her government in the suicide case of Rohith Vemula. After the BJP came into power at the centre, the ABVP activists are systematically discouraging the Dalit students by using immoral methods in association with Hindu minded teachers and students. At several places in India, the Dalits burnt the copies of Manu Smriti (Dr. Ambedkar burnt in on 25th December, 1927). None of the Dalit MP did so.
Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar wrote, “To the untouchables Hinduism a veritable chamber of horrors. The sanctity and infallibility of the Vedas, Smritis and Shastras, the Iron of law od caste, the heartless law of karma and the senseless law of status by birth are to the Untouchables veritable instruments of torture which Hinduism has forged against the Untouchable” Untouchability is still practised in both rural and urban India by Upper Castes Hindus. According to former UGC chairman Prof, Sukhadeo Thorat, “The caste system in India involves “rank and gradation,” which make “the rights and privileges of higher castes, become the disabilities of the lower castes, particularly the untouchables.” In Himachal Pradesh, according to one study around 129 types of untouchability practices are prevalent. A case in the state is relevant to mention here. In mid-February, a government -run high school in Kullu district segregated its Dalit students and told them to sit outside in a place used for horses during the telecast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s ‘Pariksha Par Charcha’. There are hundreds of such cases of untouchability being practiced by the Upper Caste Hindus across the country. The irony is that there are no systematic and collective efforts by Dalit MPs to fight the curse of Untouchability.
Historically, Dalits have remained landless. Jodhka and Gautam on Dalit entrepreneurship for the Social Exclusion reports: “Despite several positive changes, caste continues to play a role in the urban economy, and for the Dalit entrepreneurs (studied) it was almost always negative. Dalits lacked economic resources, but even when they had economic resources, they were crippled by a lack of social resources.” Almost 100 million Dalits in India – or one third of their total number – continue to live in multidimensional poverty. According to global MPI estimates, five out of every six multidimensionally poor in India belongs to SC& ST. The Dalits are marginalised further by the BJP government by implementing the policy of privatisation. The majority of the industrial units and workplaces are owned and run by Brahmin-Bania.
Upper Caste Hindus since the beginning of Reservation for the socially and economically Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has been implemented by the Constitution of India, they are against it. Upper Caste Hindus tried their hard to end Reservation but the constitution of India protects it. RSS has been anti-reservation organisation. Mohan Bhagwat, chief of RSS said, “that there should be open hearted debate pertaining to reservation given to SCs/STs/OBCs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is silent on this issue. It is alleged that the BJP has been fuelling the anti-reservation sentiment among the castes that are outside the Reservation. The RSS is definitely preparing the ground to abrogate Reservation. In social media it is being circulated that the BJP if comes into power in 2024, the party would abrogate Reservation completely in 2029. Hindus are thrilled to read such kind of news in the social media. It is a fact that the RSS cells across the country are behind annihilating Reservation systematically. On the other hand, the Dalit MPs in the Parliament are enjoying the perks. Not a single Dalit MPs has roadmap for stopping the financially and religiously powerful RSS that is bent of destroying Reservation.
National Commission for SC
National Commission for Scheduled Caste is a government body whose chairman is appointed for 05 years. It is a political post and the chairman is always at the mercy of the central government.
As per the constitution, the Commission has to submit annual report to the President of India. Vijay Sample (SC), former chairman of NCSC at that time in his forwarding letter to the President, Ram Nath Kovind wrote, “that the major handicap in the proper functioning of this commission remains the shortage of manpower.” The BJP government at the centre has made this commission toothless and powerless and manpower deficient.
NCSC in its report of 2109 submitted some glaring cases of atrocities across the country. In 2018-2109, Dealt with 55729 individual cases1 of deprivation of rights / other grievances and disposed off 4286 cases. In 2019-2020, 12036 cases were received in 2019-20 (upto 31.01.2020), and disposed off 6359 cases upto. The closing balance of pending cases is 57180 as on 31 January 2020. Atrocities against Scheduled Castes: 40801 cases of crimes against SCs were reported in 2016, this has increased to 43203 cases in 2017 and 42793 in 2018. Uttar Pradesh (11,444 cases in 2017 and 11924 cases in 2018) reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes accounting for 26.5% and 27.90% respectively of the cases followed by Bihar with 15.6% and 16.5% respectively (6747 cases in 2017 and 7061 cases in 2018) ,M.P. with 13.6% and 11.1% (5,892 cases in 2017 and 4753 cases in 2018) Rajasthan ( 4238 cases i.e 9.8% in 2017 and 4607 cases ie 10.8 % in 2018) , AP and Odisha ( 1969 cases each i.e 4.6%) during 2017 and Maharashtra with 1974 cases i.e 4.6% in 2018. False Certificate: The Commission has been receiving complaints 5 regarding non -Scheduled Caste persons who have obtained service on basis of fake caste certificates thus, depriving the genuine Scheduled Castes.
Dilution of SC/ST Act
The Prevention of Atrocities (Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes) Act 1989 (“Act”) is aimed at countering the multifarious ways in which caste discrimination is played out. The Act is a criminal law that punishes caste-based atrocities against the members of SCs/STs by Upper Caste Hindus. Despite a stringent law, the conviction rates under the Act are tremendously low and there is a great delay in the investigation of the cases. The Supreme Court in March 2020 passed a judgment that diluted the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The judgment was passed under the pretext of protecting innocent persons from being booked under false cases, thereby preventing the misuse of the law. The BJP/RSS is using judicial system to further dilute the SC/ST ACT but the Dalit MPs have not come forward to protect the SC/ST ACT. Those Dalits MPs who are in the BJP are silent.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar once noted, “when law enforcement agency- the police and judiciary does not seem to be free from caste prejudice, expecting the law to ensure justice to victims of caste crime is rather an impractical solution to a perennial problem.” Therefore, unless there is a transformative shift in the understanding of caste-based discrimination, doors to access justice as envisaged by the Indian Constitution will remain a distant dream.
The situation in terms of poverty, unemployment, discrimination is volatile for the Dalits under the ruling of the BJP/RSS. The defenceless, helpless and marginalised Dalits are getting further economically and socially weak, their own representatives are silent. They are unable to protect the laws meant for the protection of the Dalits but to talk about empowerment of the Dalits. I leave a question to the Dalits: Who will protect? Every Dalit should ponder over it and accordingly the Dalits should choose the Dalit candidate in 2024.
Dr. Rahul Kumar, PhD in sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi (India). He is an independent journalist and researcher. His area of interest encompasses domestic and foreign policy, diplomacy and international relations. The views expressed in this article are personal.
 Moon Vasant (Ed.) (1991), Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, Government of Maharashtra, vol,9, p.296.