Shit, shit, shit! Oh shit everywhere! It has not hit the walls. It has splashed and splattered all over, on the face, on the hands and on the bodies of Dalits who are paid to clean others' shit with their bare hands.
We hardly noticed the Anti-Shit Bill that was passed in the Lok Sabha only two weeks ago. According to the new Bill as presented in the report of The Hindu on 08 September 2013, those who employ people in Manual scavenging should be put in jail.
It is a non-bailable offence. I have read reports that quite a few municipalities in Gujarat
officially employ Dalits for manual scavenging for a paltry sum of even Rs.150/- as monthly salary. Hold your nose. It might stink under your nose. Not the shit. But even the fact that they are paid as low as these by government agencies!
Why single out Gujarat. That is unjust boy. It is all over India except some ‘noble’ states. Indians, as you know are much cleverer than the proverbial ostrich. We not only bury our head under the earth in order not to see truths but we even change our textbooks in educational institutions in order to show the wrong side of India.
Showing the right side may stink the world
to death. Raise the issue of untouchability, atrocity, Dalit rape, manual scavenging at any forum or with individuals in high positions, pat comes the reply: “Oh, it was there some centuries ago. Don’t come to me with all such bullshit. Speak of what exists now.”
And such people are the ones who have been vested with the power to change these age-old practices of slavery in India. Hide it. Do not look at it. Let it stink. Who cares? I close the doors and windows of my house so that the stink does not enter my house. Wah, India Wah!
But then the Bill for the abolition of manual scavenging was passed in the Indian Parliament not centuries ago. It was passed this month. An open acknowledgement that India still has much shit to clean! There may be still some hope left.
But then just have a look at this typical reaction. It is reported today in the news. “Oh, everyday I receive at least 500 complaints of rape. Can I look into every complaint?” Allegedly such words have come from the Chief Minister of Delhi
who happens to be a woman too.
What else should a Chief Minister do if she cannot stop rape in her state? asks a friend of mine on Facebook
. This is the truth of India. Such callousness about everything that happens to others! As long as it does not happen to me and my children, it is their karma.
The million-dollar question then is this. Does the practice of scooping shit with bare hands by Dalits stop by passing a Bill in the Parliament? That is the beauty of Indian governance. We shall pass Bills, Acts and Laws. But nothing can work against the social practice of caste. That is quite a shit that India has to bear for generations to come.
The Constitution of India banned untouchability. But we are living with rampant practices of untouchability day in and day out. In 1989, it was found that atrocity on Dalits was perpetuated unabated. Bring another Act, the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act of 1989. Has India stopped atrocity on Dalits even now? The more educated India becomes the more increase of such things we see.
With education it must be recognized that Dalits are also getting the trickle down of education. They gather a little bit of courage to fight. The stereotype reaction of the educated class is to increase the tempo of atrocity only ‘to teach Dalits a fitting lesson'. Don’t be aghast. I know the language. I lead a Dalit Movement that deals with this shit almost everyday.
“Oh, he must be more cultured. He should refine his language. Why is he talking of shit all the time?” Words heard among South African Indians way back in 1996.
No wonder that the master of the house became so emotional that he ran upstairs in his house and brought a leather painting of Nelson Mandela as a gift to us in appreciation of our work. But then hearing of it in words that were used by the dominant caste fellows was unpalatable. Their eardrums would break into millions of pieces.
“Oh Mr. Raj, you are so negative. This is our country and we should not deride it so much. We are doing our best to mitigate such obnoxious practices. Be more positive.” Such soothing words come immediately after the denial of the existence of such abhorrence under our nose.
“Yes, I am trying my best sir. But how fast can I get rid of the scar the society has created by forcing me to scoop your piss and shit in my bare hands. I am not from the manual scavenging community but it is enough that I am a Dalit.”
Millions of my brothers and sisters are living with such scars all over their personality and we are expected to become equal citizens of India. “Who is preventing you from being equal? You have every right to educate yourselves and compete with us. We are not preventing you.”
Stereotyped response from a caste mentality that stands positively against affirmative action to repair the damage done to the Dalits for millennia together. The society does not want to own up its collective responsibility.
‘The past is a bloody shit. The future is illusion. Let us live in the present.’ Yes, we shall stop clamoring for reservation the moment you stop practicing caste and untouchability. This is your present. You stop it now. We shall have semblances of equality.
And remember this is not anything new in India, I mean the enacting of laws and passing of Bills. In 1993 there was an Act against Manual Scavenging. Now another Bill is heaped over it so that no one may see the Act. We do Act. But we do not want others to see. Therefore, we bring a bill to cover the Act, eh?
Minister for Social Justice Kumari Selja has clearly stated in the Parliament that the Act of 1993 was not effective. But she has not spelled out what would make the present Bill more effective than the Act of 1993.
“Despite prohibition of manual scavenging, the practice is still prevalent... This dehumanizing practice is inconsistent with the right to live with dignity,” Ms. Selja said. Courageous woman paying open lip service! Her profession of determination was immediately negated by many members of the Parliament negating a few strong amendments suggested by the Dalit MP, D. Raja of CPI.
The passing of the Bill in the Parliament on 07 September is a laudable step as a consequence of many years of struggles by many of our friends. But if the society at large believes that Dalits are born to clean their shit, what can any government do unless it is a revolutionary government. Well, well, many in the government are true representatives of such skewed thinking themselves. How will they ever dare to change?
Does this explain why India is still stinking to the core? Go to any public toilet in India, you can see their caste mindset spread out for you in many of these public places. Does this explain why we spit all over our country? Does this explain why we piss in public places in full glare of passers by?
Well, law can only be an ass when the culture of the country is turning a blind eye to stark realities. India needs not one total revolution but many cultural revolutions. With the type of caste forces at the helm of affairs such eventuality will be hard to come.