The Dalits & the Neo-Dalits

The word Dalit means the oppressed. It is employed as a sociological terms to refer to the last segment of society in stratification. Some societies have class, others caste to address these segments. In India it referred to the fourth “varna” or segment engaged on all kinds of menial work or labour intensive activities. They rendered the most valuable and critical services to society, but came to be oppressed economically, socially and politically. There are no records to indicate how it turned out to be so, but warring kingdoms might have made some contribution by making the vanquished people slaves or “daas” and getting menial work from them, besides subjecting them to humiliation of all kinds. Such humiliation must have gradually acquired the proportions of oppression in due course. India’s foreign trade too might have contributed to some extent by way of imported labour from partner countries which were poor, undeveloped or difficult terrains. These populations must have suffered discrimination due to demographic reasons once they settled down in India. Aren’t the expatriates in America or England or Australia and other countries not “second rate citizens” after all? Such discrimination is subtle and hence never admitted. But hasn’t 9/11 changed attitudes and more sophisticated profiling of individuals, groups or nationalities? Only words change in the name of modernity not the core considerations. It would instantly become clear if the neo-Dalits of upcoming urban conglomerates of India are put to intensive scrutiny.

The term Dalit/Oppressed comes in to existence only if there is someone to do the Dalan or oppression. In other words the oppressor and the oppressed or the Dalit and the Dalankaari (also Damankaari), are antonyms. While the sociological stratification in existence in India before 1950 has come to an end after coming in to force of the Constitution of India, the number of real Dalits or oppressed has gone up drastically due to rigging of the democratic governance. What was sought to be established was a vibrant democratic government, but what has come into actual practice is nothing more than plutocracy. Under this new form of governance called plutocracy, India has been formally divided in to two categories officially:  the aam aadmi or the ordinary and the privileged class or the VIP.  The aam aadmi falls in to the category of the neo-dalit, for he suffers all kinds of discrimination in day to life. For enforcing his right, he must either buy the requisite government provided service or fight a case in the court of law. These rights flow to the non-neodalit in the ordinary course and even extend to misappropriation of the rights of the aam aadmi under the moniker of “privileges”. Such privileges  defined another category of people in the pre-constitutional democratic India: khaas aadmi or the special  people. The term instantly established the monarchy form of governance that was in practice in ancient India, medieval India ruled by the Hindus and the Muslims, and the British India. The chain of Raja, Maharaja, Nawab, Rai Saheb etc is a living testimony to that format. When the constitution came in force in 1950, these Raja, Maharaja and Nawabs assured privy purses and privileges under the treaties of accession to the union of India and surrendering their territorial and governing rights to India, which is a union of states.

India was under the spell of “socialism” in the initial period. The communist party wielded enormous influence on the aam aadmi and the educated individuals, who were fed on a rich diet of anti-rich, anti-wealthy, anti-Royalty, anti-landlord and anti-Establishment sentiments. The India of 1950 was more than 90% poor, backward and depressed society. The reforms in economic, social, political or judicial sectors were yet to begin; their visible results had to wait for several years. No government could achieve everything in a short span of 5 years and realise all the dreams woven in the constitution of India. The situation was bound to be exploited by the political parties, and they did their job rather successfully. They posed themselves as the champions of the aam aadmi or the poor people and painted the establishment subservient to the interests of the privileged few of the kind of rich or the Royals. Sustained attack on the privileges granted to the ex-Princes under solemn treaty arrangements were aimed at abolishing the privy purses. The constitution was amended, privy purses and privileges were abolished; though a few continue to enjoy the titles etc. and others manage to celebrate their coronations in the august presence of the Chief Ministers or Ministers and wangle invitations from the Prime Minister and the President of India addressed to His Highness the….saheb of… etc. The glamour of royalty has cast the magic of grandeur and privilege somewhat late on the political class in India post 1970 when the privy purses were abolished. The enlightened politician has quietly stepped in to the shoes of these privileged beings and learnt to behave like them. Once the hollowness of the old royalty donned on the new class of politicians, they suddenly realized that the powers of the princes (Rajas, Maharajas, Nawabs) were all their now. The ruler and the ruled changed places. But it takes more than changing places to function royal. So all the privileges enjoyed by the royals first came to the politicians without the sanction of the law, but as time passed, lawfully. Today the politician is a more powerful and privileged royal than the old ones. He is now fully in the act f oppression of Daman, in the rural as well as the urban India equally. He espouses the cause of the aam aadmi, but skins the aam aadmi more than the medieval royals!

The neo-Dalit that the aam aadmi has been converted in to is allured, seduced, bought, intimidated and tricked in to submission by the new oppressor in various ways by denying or depriving ordinary rights of roti (bread) kapada (clothing), sadak (roads), bijli (electricity), paani (drinking water),  school education, hospitalization, and now even burial. Every public service or facility is available on payment basis for the aam aadmi, unless he has entered into a loyalty bond with the politician. Such loyalties are a sure doom of the aam aadmi, who ends up as a performer of some crime for the political patron, such as drug pushing. The cost of elections and maintaining an army of followers costs the politicians an enormous amount of money- something that is not possible to be recouped in any lawful manner. Hence the new age crimes like money laundering, drugs, trafficking, organ trade, escort services, terror, espionage or political violence, are sustained by enticing the gullible amongst the aam aadmi to act for the political master. Trapped once, such a person can hardly escape the long arm of the law or the politician, as both claim to serve them only! Urban growth increases the demand for electricity, good roads, drinking water, schools, hospitals, police stations, local transport services, market and other infrastructure. The people beg for it and the politician promises to arrange for it. The process seems to be easy but lingers from election to election. In the meantime demographic growth in such areas becomes unmanageable, leading to civil unrest, strife and riots. The neo-royalty is supremely happy to witness such disturbed situations and the only relief it provides is words, clichés and platitudes. People peace, money, living standards suffers the worst kind of Dalan or oppression. These are not only the socially determined Dalits or oppressed, but a new kind of modern Dalits, who belong to all segments of the society. I would call them the Chaturvarna  Dalits or oppressed of all the four categories or segment of society viz.; Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Shudra.

The machinations and tools of oppression include the old ones, further refined, upgraded and enriched by new technology and tools. Rapes, murders, arrests are more common now a days than they were in the old times. Atrocities are harsher than they were earlier.  Even the sufferers of oppression in the past have taken to the new breed of oppression in the rural and urban areas. They have turned more aggressive than their counterparts. They have no qualms of conscience in mounting atrocities on the aam aadmi placed similarly as they themselves. They were expected to bring about change in the living conditions of the oppressed. They have chosen to help themselves only. Their rhetoric against the fate of the oppressed is thoroughly empty noise. They have not respected even their spouses or marriage and have either abandoned their legally wedded wife for someone better looking. They might gloat about a lower caste politician marrying a Brahmin woman, but there is no written record of a single upper caste Dalit marrying a woman from the lowest in the ladder such as those castes called “Bhangi or Harijan” caste. It is so depressing to find that no devoted civil servant from the Dalit sections of society has ever shown any interest even in lending his/her services to the Safai Karamchari Ayog or the Safai Karamchari Finance & Development Corporation, unless the Ministry of Personnel, Department of Personnel, working under the Prime Minister, dumps some neo Dalit there.

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