By Dr. Rahul Kumar
It is a matter of pride for the Indians that the United Nations including the University of British Columbia declared 14th April as “International Equality Day”. All over the world, Ambedkarites, and Buddhists are celebrating 130th birth celebration of Vishaw Guru Baba Sahib Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Ambedakrites & Buddhists, nationally and internationally, have organized function virtually as well as physically to celebrate the birth anniversary of Baba Saheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.
Nationally, the members of Ambedkar Mission Society Punjab, in association with Dr.Ambedkar Bhawan Trust (ABT) & Samata Sainik Dal, Punjab unit Shri Baldev Raj Bhardwaj, Sudesh Kalyan took special permission from the local administration and organized the birth celebration function physically while following the standard operating procedures (SOPs) during the pandemic of Coronavirus. The prominent speakers at the functions were: Dr. Jagmohan Singh (Nephew of Shahid Bhagat Singh), Shri Lahori Ram Balley, Editor Bheem Patrika, Prof. GC Kaul, trustee Ambedkar Bhawan Trust, Jalandhar, Shri Jaswinder Waryana- President All India Samata Sainik Dal, Punjab unit. A book entitled: “Dr. Ambedkar De Mahan Karaj” was also released on this occasion. OUTLOOK magazine has published a special issue on this occasion and listed 20 Dalits who lit the light. Shri Lahori Ram Balley, Editor Bheem Patrika, who had the opportunity to meet & work with Baba Saheb, is one of them.
Internationally, the members- Mr. Anand Balley, Mr.Major Mal, Mr. Mathura Mehay, Dr. Raj Narnaware, Prof. Arun Kumar Gautum, Mr. Nikal, Mrs. & Mr. Chanchal, Mr. Paramjit Kainth, Mrs.Sujata & Mr. Mohinder Sallan under the banner of Pan – Canada, a platform of Ambedakrite, Buddhist and Ravidassi organizations organized virtually the birth anniversary celebration. Dalit thinkers, intellectuals across the globe were invited to share their views. Boston Study Group, USA, under the leadership of Rajinder Kumar Badan organized a virtual progamme.
“Educate, Agitate, Organize” is the slogan around which the entire Dalit movement is revolving since 6th December, 1956. Now the time has come for the Dalit Samaj, apart from the celebration of the birth anniversary of Baba Saheb Ambedkar, to assess the journey travelled in terms of accomplishments & disappointments. Any society or culture stands to decay if the members do not make efforts to preserve it. In simple terms, a gardener has to see what a plant needs in order to grow; a gardener has to see how much sunlight is required for the flower or fruit to grow. Similarly, in a constantly changing world, the Dalit Samaj has to see how much task is done given by Baba Saheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar & how much is still left. The day we evaluate this thing, we can make or remake our strategy in order to survive in a competitive world.
As everyone knows that Dr. Ambedkar always emphasized on Education because he knew it very well that the Depressed Classes (now called Dalits) for want of economic resources cannot make social & economic mobility without higher education. In 1929, Dr. Ambedkar appealed to the Government of India to make higher education as cheap to the lower classes as it can possibly be made. The government of India accepted his proposal and introduce a scholarship for the Dalits. Similarly, Dr. Ambedkar also appealed to the Government of India that 33% marks should be made the criteria for eligibility for employment in government services. Dr. Ambedkar`s argument was that the people belonging to the Depressed Classes are not able to afford exorbitant tuition fees to acquire the best education. After 2014 in India, the tuition fees of higher education including government institutions have been raised to 500%. Today, a Dalit student aspiring to become a doctor or engineer from a reputed college or university needs 1 Crore. Even if a Dalit student obtains 90% marks he or she cannot afford such exorbitant fees because of two major reasons, one is due to steep poverty among their parents; the other is the absence of collateral security to be pledged to the bank to take a student loan. Day by day, the drastic cut in government scholarship for higher studies meant for the SCs/STs have added further woes to the critical situation of the Dalits in the education field. In this prevailing situation, where will the Dalits students go? Who will help them to earn higher education? The Dalit activists have to think over it and take up this matter with the government of India.
In his lifetime, Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar launched several public agitations for the rights of the Dalits Dr. Ambedkar was of the view that political power should be used to resolve problems of the people; to empower them so that they can become rulers of the country. Dr. Ambedkar was very clear about his mission and actions. Having observed this, the members of the Depressed Classes thronged to him and participated in the public agitations (Mahad Satayagrah) because they knew it very well that Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar was fighting for their rights. They believed him, they trusted him. In return, Dr. Ambedkar never disappointed them despite his ailing health. They also knew it very well that Dr. Ambedkar would never bow to any High Command of any mainstream political party for his own economic or professional benefit. Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar understood very well the cunning minds of the Brahmins who were making policies & programmes. Dr. Ambedkar being a jurist & visionary knew in advance the impact of these policies and programmes on the life of the Depressed Classes. Knowing this, he planned his strategy. Today.it is unfortunate to know that we find that the majority of the Dalit elected representatives lack vision and guts. The Dalits are losing faith in them because the majority of such representatives are greedy, opportunists and traitors.
One will be surprised to know that former Dalit woman Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh has issued directions to the party workers not to organize public protests. She also restricted herself to issuing public statements on the paper. Despite having political power she watched silently the social & economic deterioration of the Dalits in the state; she watched silently the atrocities on the Dalits; she watched silently the rapes of the poor Dalit girls. The Brahmins took every matter related to the welfare of the Dalits to the court. She kept on filling up her purse. Her party did not bother to hire the best lawyers to fight the cases in the court and get relief for the distressed Dalits.
Udit Raj (earlier in BJP & now in Congress) also termed BSP supremo Mayawati as ‘feudal’ and ‘Manuvadi’ and pointed out that her disdain for Dalits can be understood from the fact that she never allows any Dalit to sit beside her (India TV, July 13, 2014).Union Minister Ram Das Athawale (BJP) demanded 25% reservation should be given to the upper castes ( Hindustan Times 16 April 2018). Late Ram Vilas Paswan demanded 15 % reservation for the upper caste (Financial Express 18 April 2018). Can you expect anything from such Dalit elected representatives?
On this account, the Dalit Samaj is quite a week. The majority of the Dalit leaders have forgotten to organize themselves. They are highly confused people on this earth. Their minds are agitating like a child. For their own economic interests, they can sell themselves or mortgage the Dalit movement to any mainstream political party. Rich, resourceful Dalits are found exploiting poor Dalits in the name of Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar. One will be surprised to know that recently a new Karol Bagh gang has emerged having wealthy, materialistic Dalits on board that collect lakhs of rupees every year on the eve of ‘Jankalyankari Day’. Nobody knows where these funds go. Now the time has come to identify such people. The time has come to close doors to them in order to save the future of the Dalit Samaj. Would you please ponder over it?
No doubt, we have achieved milestones in our journey but our disappointments are numerous. There is an urgent need to invigorate the Dalit movement. For that, we have to pause for some time and do some brain exercise in order to save the Dalit Samaj. Let us sit, hold a discussion, and evaluate our accomplishments & disappointments. Let us not allow greedy, opportunist & traitor to further paralyze the Dalit movement. Today, Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar is asking all of us about the progress of the task he had handed over to us.
The author is Senior Columnist, the Asian Independent UK-