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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Is there any glimmer of hope for the Dalit in India?

In India, a cow is more respectable than a Dalit. Fanatic Hindus have demanded that a cow should be treated as a citizen.

On India’s Republic Day, some farmers climbed up ramparts of the Red Fort and hoisted the Khalsa flag. Some BJP workers took the opportunity to label the farmers’ “traitors”.  A section of the media projected Rakesh as a retired constable. Disgusted at the vilification campaign, even Capt (Red) Amarinder Singh had to condemn police violence during the Republic Day march and the mud-slinging.  Fearing police action, some groups of farmers beelined back to their villages. Seeing the thinning crowd, the farmers’ leader Rakesh burst into tears and made an impassioned appeal to the farmers to stay back.

The tearful appeal galvanized the protesters. Not only the farmers but also students and people from all walks of life surged to join the protesting farmers  (Rakesh Tikait call rallies not just farmers but students too, Indian Express,  January 30, 2021).  The protest, earlier galvanized by the Bhim Sena chief’s participation, further widened in scope. It truly became the All-India Oppressed People’s Movement.

Read more: How did the farmers’ protests turn into an oppressed peoples’ Movement in India

Dalits or Harijans

Ambedkar, chairman of India’s constituent assembly called the low-caste community; he himself belonged to, Dalit, Sanskrit word which means “broken”. In everyday usage, it is synonymous with “downtrodden”. The British preferred to call them “oppressed”. Gandhi felt that the word “Dalit” had a pejorative undertone, if not altogether an affront to the “Dalit” community’s sentiments. So he ‘lovingly ‘called them “(children of God).

Hindu society divides people into Brahmans, Kshatriya, Visya, and Shudra. Jati is used to denote the different divisions of a varna. Thus there are jatis like Namasudra, Rajbangsi, Paundra, Hadi, Dom, Nadar, Mahar, Mang, and Chamar among the Sudras including the Atisudas (that is those who are untouchable). Accordingly, Tipsily Jati and Tipsily Janajati are used for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes respectively.

Read more: Farmers Protest in India: The Beginning of a ‘Sikh Spring’

Why persecution of the Dalit is institutionalized

Though India is nominally (de jure) a secular republic, the people practically act upon the Hindu law code as explained in Manusmriti. This code prescribes monitoring by the community and punishment for violation of caste codes, such as ex-communication, a social and economic boycott of the Shudras or Dalits, and other violent forms. Thus the community acts as a police force.

The Manusmriti prescribes heinous punishments such as flogging, slitting of the tongue, thrusting of an iron rod or hot oil into the mouth and ears, severing limbs, slit on buttocks, lips to be gashed, urinating into the mouth and ears, severing limbs, slit on buttocks, lips to gashed, urinating on part of the body, cutting of hands, the death penalty, corporal punishment, cutting the offending part of the body and destruction of property, burning on a fire shave with urine and so on to the untouchables or Dalits for violation of the caste code.

Read more: Farmers’ protest is defined not by waywardness of the few, but…

BJP erects Manu’s statue in front of Rajasthan high court

The BJP did so as it regards him as the father of the religionized legal code of caste inequality. He commands religious adherence as a symbol of justice. The Dalit community staged several protests against the erection of the statue, but to no avail.

Dalit is notorious for disrespecting cows. But, when a cow dies, high caste Hindus ask him to dispose of it off. In India, a cow is more respectable than a Dalit. Fanatic Hindus have demanded that a cow should be treated as a citizen.

Judge Mahesh Chandra Sharma of the Rajasthan high court talked in detail about the benefits of cows in his 193-page judgment. His judgment, a mélange of scriptures and law, glistens with hijinks like ‘Peacocks Don’t Have Sex’, ‘Cow is a Surgeon’, ‘a complete pharmacy’, and Cow is a ‘National Animal’.

Read more: Op-ed: Will a more informed citizenry nibble the bait of Hindu…

The Peacock feather

The judge says in his verdict: “Nepal is a Hindu nation and has declared cows as national animals. India is a predominantly agricultural country based on animal rearing. As per Article 48 and 51A (g) it is expected from the state government that they should take action to get a legal entity for cows in this country.” Later, in an interview with CNN-News18, the judge said, “The peacock is a lifelong brahmachari (celibate). He never has sex with the peahen. The peahen pecks on the tears of the peacock to get pregnant. That’s how she gives birth to a peacock or a peahen.

This is why Lord Krishna also wears the peacock feather. This is why the peacock feather is used by sadhus.” The judge revealed that when Lord Krishna came to earth, he brought down a cow with him to Vrindavan. And he knew that the cow could suffice for doctors and surgeons because cow’s milk is medicinal in nature, and cures all kinds of ailments (except insanity).

The judge’s reflections are not the first-ever ‘scientifically inaccurate and outright asinine’ outbursts.

Read more: Op-ed: Internationalization of Kashmir is India’s biggest weakness

Earlier, Rajasthan education minister Vasudev Devnani proudly proclaimed, defying all boundaries of human knowledge about mammals, that the holy cow is the only animal that inhales as well as exhales oxygen.  Speaking at the Hingonia Goshala during an event organized by the Akshay Patra foundation on January 14, the minister said, “Gai ekmatra prani hai jo oxygen grahan karta hai, aur oxygen hi  chhodta hai  (The cow is the only animal that takes in oxygen  and also releases oxygen).” “It increases religiousness and piousness. This is what makes cow’s milk so important”.

It is repugnant to common sense that cow milk alone could cure malaria, dengue, smallpox, Ebola, and AIDS.

The farmers’ movement may engulf the whole society. However, it remains to be seen whether upper castes would shed their religious fads against Dalits.

Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been writing freelance for over five decades. He has served the federal and provincial governments of Pakistan for 39 years. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies and magazines at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is the author of eight e-books including The Myth of Accession. He knows many languages including French and Arabic. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.