Shankaranand Shastri, (r. Babasaheb Ambedkar Research Institute, New Delhi)

We are supposed to be a free and a sovereign country since 1947. The Constitution has conferred upon us the right to freedom of speech, expression, profession, assembly, ta form associations or unions, to move freely throughout India, But the same freedom is denied to the “have nots” in the country by the “haves”. The ruling class is working against the letter and spirit of our Constitution. The tiller of the land is still the victim of exploitation by the landlords, Feudalism is continuing. Big landlords are undisturbed. The State and the Central Govt have enacted laws to abolish landlordism and feudalism but big landlords continue.

During the pre-independence days “foreign rule” was blamed for all our ills, exploitation and violence. But whom can we blame now for all our ills? There are 1,150 members in Parliament and State Assemblies who are duly elected through adult franchise. Besides, there are ministers, deputy ministers in the Central as well as in the State Cabinets who belong to the SCST communities.

There is a Commissioner of SC/STs appointed by the President of India to look after the welfare of these people. It has ‘branches all over India. The framer of our Constitution, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, empowered the Commissioner with unlimited powers. But Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, and the Ministry of Home Affairs slashed these powers.

Slavery in India: Slavery was abolished in 1833 by the British but un-touch ability which is the worst form of slavery is kept alive for the benefit of upper castes. What is the use of this SC/ST Commissioner except to deceive our people?

There is a Parliamentary Committee on the Welfare of SC/STs consisting of members of both the Houses. It has powers to deal with all tyrants and submit report to Parliament. But the Committee has proved useless, Basumatrai its Chairman, told newsmen at Mangalore (July 3, 1974) that hardly 25% of the money spent reached the SC?STs while the rest was spent on administrative purposes. With all the millions and millions of rupees spent on SC/STs since 40 years of “independence” the plight of our people is going from bad to worse.

Role of RPI: The Republican ¢ Party of India was established to work not only for the welfare of SC/STs but also for the Backward Castes. This came into existence as a result of the last wish of Babasaheb on Oct 3, 1957 at Nagpur to replace the Scheduled Castes Federation of India. But soon the leaders of RPI were bought over and the RPI got divided into three factions (Gaikwad, Kamble and Khobragade). Honest workers like Jate Barrister B.D. Khobragade and others did uphold the cause of the community but they are an exception. Our own party RPI has failed to fight for our people.

Hundreds of SC/ST welfare associations have sprung up all ‘over India to work for our community. Educational Institutions also came up in plenty. The literacy went up among our people. Thousands of graduates, postgraduates are still coming out of various universities. Still, we lack in collective leadership and constant guidance. We find lots of selfless, devoted people among our workers, but we spend most of our time fighting among ourselves rather than fight our common oppressor (“How to stop this dog eating dog?”

In every State there is a Civil Rights Protection Cell headed by a Dy. Inspector General of Police to protect the human rights of SC/STs. But our people continue to be killed and their little property destroyed.

Amnesty strictures: In spite of all these protective measures and Constitutional safeguards, looting, raping and murder of SC/STs continue. DV has started a separate column, “Violation of human rights in India” and even the Amnesty International has passed severe strictures on the violence on SC/STs. But our upper caste rulers are unperturbed.

In Bihar, the police themselves committed violence on these innocent ones. Sixteen Dalits were gunned down for demanding more daily wages in Jahanabad (Bihar). In Rajasthan, a statue of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was defaced in broad daylight because the upper castes could not tolerate its installation. Even a harmless resolution to rename Marathwada University after Dr. Ambedkar by the Maharashtra legislature was met with a caste war on the Marathwada Dalits. Dr. Ambedkar’s historic book, Riddles in Hinduism was burt.

Any sacrifice by our people is not valued but devalued. There is no drinking water in Dalit villages. They have to drink filthy water. The govt. has been spending crores of rupees to dig wells but all in vain. The money allotted is always squandered or diverted to other projects or never spent. Reservations to Govt. jobs are not implemented. The list is too long to be narrated here.

Mystery in Census figures: In Orissa, tribal girls are sold to sex hungry landlords. In Manipur, Assam and Meghalaya, the condition ‘of our people is not better than in other States. (For details read Shyam Sunder’s book, They Burn, Dalit Shahitya Academy, 1987, Rs 15).

There is reservation in Govt services since 1943. This was introduced by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar himself to improve our lot and to provide some source of livelihood. The population of all castes and communities as per census figures has gone up but the population of SC/STs has ceased to grow. This is a mystery and miracle. Look at the upper caste conspiracy. In census, the population of our people is calculated in such a manner that it is being shown that family planning is a big success only among our people.

It is true that SC/STs get jobs through reservations but their entry into the services is not welcomed. An atmosphere of hatred is created around them. They are ridiculed as “Govt Brahmins.” Not because they are not qualified or suitable for the jobs, otherwise they would not have been selected by the Union Public Service Commission or the State PSCs. Upper castes simply don’t like our people sitting in their offices. This hatred is part of their religion. So much so every office in India is divided into “reserved officials” and “no reserved officials”. A battle is going on between the two. This has resulted in creating an inferiority complex in our officers. Our honest and hardworking of ficers are arrested by plotting bribery charges. Their “confidential records” are spoiled just on the eve of promotions. Recently, an officer of the State Trading Corporation ‘was arrested on a false charge of taking a bribe. In Bihar, a railway officer noted for his honesty was arrested on a trumped up bribe charge. His case is pending in local courts.

Vinoba’s frauds: Distribution of lands to SG/STs is a big joke. All the barren and useless land is allotted to them on paper only. But fertile land is given to upper caste landlords; Sarvodaya Samaj under the late Vinoba Bhave had played have with the lives of Dalits in Bhoodan land distribution.

The Elayaperumal Committee and several such committee reports probing the conditions of SC/STs are thrown to wastepaper basket. The Union Home Ministry places an annual report before Parliament at each budget session. The Commissioner of SC/STs is also giving an annual report to Parliament on violence on SC/ST’s. The same if discussed in both the Houses of Parliament and assurances are given by the Govt every year but after that nothing comes out.

Killed by Kindness: In other words, I dare say in the historical words of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar that “we are being killed by, kindness.” The entire pious talk shave not put an end to the brutalities and injustice; this is proving more dangerous as our people are becoming more and more complacent. They are more dependent on this so called display of kindness and false promises. This has to be resisted and fought tooth and nail.

How to end it? What are the ways and means? One school of thought is that it cannot be ended until the victims of this “kindness” they raise in revolt. The victims are not able to revolt because they have no strength or self-confidence which has to be created within them. It was Dr. Ambedkar who for the first time created and sowed the seeds of self-confidence, self-reliance, self-respect in our people.

Role of Kanshi Ram: Bahujan Samaj Party of India has been doing excellent work by creating awareness among SC/ST/BCs and minorities under the able leadership of Kanshi Ram. Once our people know the value of their votes they will capture the power. This party fought three byelections: in the Hindi belt, i.e., Bijnore, Hardwar and Allahabad, where it succeeded in breaking the myth of the “vote bank”. All the political parties headed by upper castes are worried over Kanshi Ram’s capacity to end the brahminical control over the country. The BSP Challenge of mobilizing SC/ST/BCs and minorities in the electoral battle is one way of fighting for our human rights,

The other way of meeting the upper caste violence is to organize a body of devoted soldiers who can sacrifice their life in self-defense. In other words there should be a flying squad of devoted workers.

We can set up a central office in Delhi with its branches in the State capitals to collect details of the atrocities, analyses and publish them so that our people know the truth and the truth shall free them. (Pending this, details may be sent to the Dalit Voice for publication).

Donate money: Capturing of power is essential for our success. There is hardly any political awakening among SC/STs today. To do this part of the work every earning member must donate a little bit of his income to our SC/ST organizations engaged in conscientising our people.

Creating religious unity under the banner of Buddism is important to unite all our energies. We will have no moral right to criticize the upper caste rulers as long as we follow their religion of Hinduism. Many of our people remain as ‘Hindus’ and yet criticize Hinduism. It was Bahasaheb who united nearly 60 sub castes into one caste, i.e., ‘Scheduled Castes Tribes. This unity can be maintained only if we follow strictly the principles of Buddism. So long as the upper caste gods are there in our houses we can make no progress.

Food grains shop: We must also encourage our people to participate in industry and business by starting finance corporations to give loans to all those who are interested in business. To begin with, we can at least set up our own food grain/ provision shops in our areas instead of buying it from upper caste shops. In USA, Blacks have their own Black industry and business.

In the 1920’s Dr. Ambedkar founded the Samata Sainik Dal in the old Bombay State to protect our people from upper caste violence. This had branches all over India but it became inactive with the disintegration of the RPI. SSD has to be revived.

(The author, 75, is a Kannada Dalit and Buddhist scholar, “Wanted a probe into Dr. B.R. Ambedkar death,” DV edit Nov, 1, 1987 is based on his interview. Shastri lived in Dalhi during the last days of Babasaheb and took his body to Bombay. Shastri now lives in a suburby of Delhi and runs a research Centre on Babasaheb. His “Memories of Babasaheb,” waiting for publication is expected to be a startling book. A great admirer of DY, the author poures out his agony in the above article—

(Courtesy: Dalit Voice) Editor.)

Article extracted from this publication >> October 28, 1988