Saturday, October 28, 2017

Only Baptism By Cleansing Blue Fire...,


countercurrents |  Gandhi was a so called "high caste". High castes represent a small minority in India, some 10-15% of the population, yet dominate Indian society in much the same way whites ruled South Africa during the official period of Apartheid. Dalits often use the phrase Apartheid in India when speaking about their problems.
 
The Indian Constitution was authored by Gandhi's main critic and political opponent, Dr.Ambedkar, for whom our journal is named and the first Dalit in history to receive an education (if you have never heard of Dr. Ambedkar I would urge you to try and keep an open mind about what I am saying for it is a bit like me talking to you about the founding of the USA when you have never heard of Thomas Jefferson).

Most readers are familiar with Gandhi's great hunger strike against the so called Poona Pact in 1933. The matter which Gandhi was protesting, nearly unto death at that, was the inclusion in the draft Indian Constitution, proposed by the British, that reserved the right of Dalits to elect their own leaders. Dr. Ambedkar, with his degree in Law from Cambridge, had been choosen by the British to write the new constitution for India. Having spent his life overcoming caste based discrimination, Dr. Ambedkar had come to the conclusion that the only way Dalits could improve their lives is if they had the exclusive right to vote for their leaders, that a portion or reserved section of all elected positions were only for Dalits and only Dalits could vote for these reserved positions.

Gandhi was determined to prevent this and went on hunger strike to change this article in the draft constitution. After many communal riots, where tens of thousands of Dalits were slaughtered, and with a leap in such violence predicted if Gandhi died, Dr. Ambedkar agreed, with Gandhi on his death bed, to give up the Dalits right to exclusively elect their own leaders and Gandhi ended his hunger strike.Later, on his own death bed, Dr. Ambedkar would say this was the biggest mistake in his life, that if he had to do it all over again, he would have refused to give up Dalit only representation, even if it meant Gandhi's death. 

As history has shown, life for the overwhelming majority of Dalits in India has changed little since the arrival of Indian independence over 50 years ago. The laws written into the Indian Constitution by Dr. Ambedkar, many patterned after the laws introduced into the former Confederate or slave states in the USA during reconstruction after the Civil War to protect the freed black Americans, have never been enforced by the high caste dominated Indian court system and legislatures. A tiny fraction of the "quotas" or reservations for Dalits in education and government jobs have been filled. Dalits are still discriminated against in all aspect of life in India's 650,000 villages despite laws specifically outlawing such acts. Dalits are the victims of economic embargos, denial of basic human rights such as access to drinking water, use of public facilities and education and even entry to Hindu temples.

To this day, most Indians still believe, and this includes a majority of Dalits, that Dalits are being punished by God for sins in a previous life. Under the religious codes of Hinduism, a Dalits only hope is to be a good servant of the high castes and upon death and rebirth they will be reincarnated a high caste. This is called varna in Sanskrit, the language of the original Aryans who imposed Hinduism on India beginning some 3,500 years ago. Interestingly, the word "varna" translates literally into the word "color" from Sanskrit.

This is one of the golden rules of Dalit liberation, that varna means color, and that Hinduism is a form of racially based oppression and as such is the equivalent of Apartheid in India. Dalits feel that if they had the right to elect their own leaders they would have been able to start challenging the domination of the high castes in Indian society and would have begun the long walk to freedom so to speak. They blame Gandhi and his hunger strike for preventing this. So there it is, in as few words as possible, why in todays India the leaders of India's Dalits hate M.K. Gandhi.