Someone someday, centuries ago; noticed how a certain class of people were continuously harassed and enslaved by a historically stronger section of the country. Even a poor-but-strong-section did this to those enslaved, later termed ‘Dalits’. At one point, they were called ‘untouchables’ / ‘achooth’ in Hindi, and they really were not even touched. Not just them, but even the objects that they touched were deemed unusable or untouchable by the higher sections. Both classes, higher and lower; eventually spread out equally across the land as is the rule of demography, and the higher class continued to NOT share any natural / artificial resources with the lower class; which meant the higher class became the default owners. This brutality was extended to even kids and oldies.
Neither someone nor someday, nor centuries ago; but I noticed recently how this class of people struggled out of times. Pre-modern India setup several schemes to include this category of people and their generations; into government jobs, government schools etc., because as we know the norm of private entities is – they are not into charity so they might not always agree to a fixed intake of employees from the lower classes alone though none in India’s recent corporate history ever denied jobs on grounds of low-class. Today, our Dalit children are seen partying at Hard Rock Cafe (or are economically capable enough for it), getting bright jobs, settling abroad, rising above their oppressors, getting admissions to best schools, not using all of government-supported reservations meant for their entry into social fields etc.
They lifted their heads from darkness to light, by the works of a well known Indian lawyer from the Independence era; who goes by the name of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. Each Dalit house has his photo framed and hung on the walls at homes. Majority of Indian slums continue to be a stronghold of Dalits. They no longer tolerate denial of rights or social discrimination against them. Yes, they do go violent and ransack public property (like others), but for reasons more specific to their interests:
1. One of them was killed because s/he was a Dalit.
2. Dr. Ambedkar shown in bad light.
Their population in cities ensure that 14th April is a total shut down for them. Like many others, they also do not care about the hassles of their celebrations to the others. Last night I was thinking of not smoking the 3rd cigarette. Like every night I convinced myself it’s time to sleep. After closing my eyes I was beginning to see irrelevant events or images; that’s when I heard crackers bursting and wild-revelling on bikes going on full throttle by engine and honks both. I checked the time and it was 00:00 hours. Crazy as I never cease to be, I thought it was the birthday of that hot Punjabi chick who stays 2 floors above me. Maybe her local and bold admirers wanted to show her some love this way. Then I wondered if it was the local politician’s birthday. Or did India qualify for FIFA WC? Or India won some match? Or Pakistan lost one? Was Dawood Ibrahim caught? Something crawled like Google spider around the threads of my historic memories, and I recollected that 14th April is but the birthday of Dr. Ambedkar. I always remembered it because of these loud nuisance-oriented celebrations.
With the downturn of crimes against low caste people, some who converted to Christianity as a humane unforced outcome of Catholic missionaries; the higher class of Indian societies today continue to accept the rise of Dalits. Represented by several leaders, this community is a class apart from class and it would be in the common interest of India that her citizens quit viewing the rise of Dalits as a threat or injury to ancient egos. Governments at all levels still reserve X% of college seats, government jobs etc. to enable the entry of Dalits into the system; in the fear that even though the Dalits can do without these reservations but then the prevalent conditions that ailed Dalits might start happening again i.e. classes considered higher in society not by financial terms, will start oppressing them.
I end with my salute to the man who changed a lot for India. Happy Birthday to Late Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. If any of the readers celebrate this day publicly, here’s my request to not imitate the others who revel in celebrations on streets in a way that mocks traffic rules, public peace etc; and to observe Buddhism in its realest ways. May the nation one day be so united that nobody sees or knows the difference between a Dalit and a non-Dalit. Amen to it.