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Dalits can demand equality in socio-religious beliefs, not economic equality
Dr. Ambedkar, the ultimate icon for Dalits, had commented that the political equality is meaningless without social and economic equalities.

The Noble laureate in literature, V S Naipual wrote on his Facebook page: "The world is what it is; men who are nothing who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it."
Mr. Naipaul has also written in his famous book, India: A Million Mutinies Now: “To awaken to history was to cease to live instinctively. It was to begin to see oneself and one’s group the way the outside world saw one, and it was to know a kind of rage. India was now full of rage. There had been a general awakening.”

The four times UP Chief Minister, and a major Dalit icon at present, Mayawati, used to shout slogans like this in '90s: ‘Tilak, taraju aur talwar maro inko joote char’, meaning that let all twice born as per Hindu laws be damned. Sure, she and her party no longer utter such a jibe against the upper caste Hindus.

Let us take each comment separately.

Political equality being meaningless is certainly not true. Universal adult suffrage is the most important thing a state can provide to its people and that is there since India became a republic. In India; it is foolish to believe in social equality; in fact it would never come. Consumption and integration increases the inequalities, particularly in hierarchical societies like India. Indians since pre-historic and ancient times show the widest distributions in skill, potential, capacity, color, income etc.

As far as economic equality is concerned it cannot come anywhere even after destroying all the wealth. This is particularly true for India. Homogeneity of race and culture, narrow distributions of variables and parameters, a robust expansive independent economy and a very strong military are what it makes people to be quasi-equal economically.

The US does not have the first two and the rest don’t have at least the three. India has none. Therefore, the dreams about economic equality should be kept aside. Sure, the growth must be as equitable and inclusive as possible but the important thing is that growth should be there. Higher taxation cannot again make people economically equal and definitely not in India. Such attempts could lead to higher predation in India.

Mr. Naipual, when he talks about minnows and banality on his Facebook account, certainly does not talk exclusive about outcastes and downtrodden but it does apply to them. Mr. Naipaul in his book published in early nineties calls Dalits paying tributes to their icon Dr. Ambedkar a mutiny and it appears he is objecting to it. It certainly is not a mutiny but is just a readjustment to changing consciousness. But if one looks at Indian politics the weakest sections have become the most vocal people politically.

With the advent of social websites the things are changing and many people are trying to universalize theories. The voices of unprivileged and underprivileged are being heard with more sincerity than ever before. But Mr. Naipaul is correct that the voices of those who don't matter should not matter much except while participating in democratic process. On their part, the governments and other institutions should provide subsidies to the needy. But that is all. Most certainly in India! What Mr. Naipaul is saying is the opinion of Right but definitely not that of the Left. The Left is not the savior of downtrodden but it wants to contain and limit the influence of the Right. This has to do with the fact that earth's population is in excess to what would have been normal.

As far as identity-awareness becoming a rage is concerned, it is not really a rage provided people have evolved themselves. If a society does not skip its steps of evolution then identity-expression is not kind of a rage that Mr. Naipaul is describing. But yes, India since its modern inception is a hugely importing society. It does not understand caste and caste-system. It analyzes the inequalities from Western ‘homogeneous’ point-of-view and terms all of them as unfair and bad.

As far as Dalits’ rage is concerned one can rationalize it. The fact is that only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. Those who had faced caste apartheid and discrimination in the past would oppose continuation of such system in modern times. But then nobody in India would share beyond a point his and her private possessions and private space.

Ms. Mayawati’s comment damming all upper caste Hindus in ’80s and ’90s just reflect that she does not understand Indian history correctly. And there are many more like her in Indian politics; in her party and in other parties. In order to understand Hindus and Hinduism in ancient time one has to understand the distributions.

Like today, distributions used to vary very wide in ancient and medieval India, particularly in color and skills. Some five millennia back nobody should expect that one would hybridize beyond a point when one fully knows as per the then knowledge that such mixing and hybridization would be a loss to him and her if they were privileged people. While the fact is that upper castes were responsible for the caste-apartheid towards outcastes and lower castes, the equal fact is that upper castes never tried to kill them and subjugate them beyond a point. They were the leftovers. On a brighter note the caste system is responsible for such a big India and such a vast Hindu majority numerically.

But it does not mean that the outcastes should not have any grievances and that they should not be demanding. The fact is that suppression and discrimination of any kind is bad in the modern times. But what could be done for Dalits? They can never demand economic equality but some kind of equality in social-religious beliefs may be warranted and just. There are many temples in India, which do not allow entry to outcastes. Socially also, majority of them are not equal in relative and absolute sense.

The fact is that if upper caste Hindus don’t listen to some demands of inclusiveness in socio-religious matters then Hinduism may face problems in future. The point is not social identity but economic empowerment. As the lower strata in social class move economically upwards it would demand more participation in all fields. Moreover, Sanatana Dharma implies Dharma since eons till eons. This gets more strengthened by Krishna promising his constant incarnation in India in the Gita. Therefore, new incarnations and its offshoots both are permissible in Hinduism.

As long as the future incarnation is Rama everything is fine, as he understands the state most among the Hindu pantheon. But another Hinduism offshoot is very dangerous thing for Hindus, as it would weaken Hindus numerically. Any downsizing of Hindus’ relative population is dangerous to the stability of the subcontinent and beyond.

The job of India is to offer alternative to Islamist-Communist ideology, which is present from West Asia to Far East except with the other possible exceptions of Israel, South Korea, Singapore and Japan. Strategically, India’s job is to contain authoritarian China in its East and monolithic Pakistan in its West. But all the proper functioning of India requires a significant Hindu majority numerically just like proper functioning of the World requires White-dominance of the West. Therefore, before Hindus get divided across all the boards again, the upper castes should show more flexibility and a move towards meaningful change.

Overall, Dalits are good people and even after so much discrimination for whatever reasons they have remained Hindus and theist. In the end a quote from Mr. Naipaul would be appropriate: “It is wrong to have an ideal view of the world. That’s where the mischief starts. That’s where everything starts unraveling…”

 

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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