Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dalits - Injustice and Anger

Dalits have been wronged for centuries by Bharat. Therefore it is hardly surprising if current dalits like me have a vehement anger against this past (and measurably current injustice) in Indian social life. Caste is not vestigeal yet, it is still a living reality with a substantial hold on the minds and affairs of Indians, inside and outside India.

The horror of making unequals out of equals happened in Bharat. India has corrected this on paper in the constitution, but the concomitant change at social, economic and political level has not happened yet in measurable manner. When I ask for 5 things in Bharat that dalits can reasonably be proud of, I get no answer. When I ask for 5 public dalits at senior levels in corporate private sector India, I do not get answers. The latter reflects the reality that either there are no dalits at senior levels in corporate private sector in India, or they have to hide their identities to stay there, both of which imply that substantial change in social norms and values is yet to happen.

In the face of injustice, one can blame oneself and be quiet, like dalits did for multiple generations resulting in others blaming them resulting in a vicious circle which degraded the self-esteem of dalits and their esteem in the eyes of others. This has happened over generations and is visible even today. As the shackles of manuvad are finally broken, dalits feeling angry about injustice is a very positive emotion - they are breaking out of the vicious circle of low-esteem. It is a sign that things are improving. Of course anger which is not actualised into respective action leading to an improvement in the angry person, his surroundings, his relationships with other people is likely to lead to frustration and despair. The rising anger needs channels to meaningfully confront social norms and values, so that the latter can change, triggering large and stable social change, that is needed for India to move ahead. It is only when both parties feel "I am ok, you are ok", that they can together say "now, lets move on". Till one party genuinely feels that there is still a lot that is "not ok" with the other party, exhortations to move on are insensitive and presumptive at the least and insulting at the worst.

Forcibly erasing the anger that dalits like me feel is not possible. Social coercion on people like me to adjust to the anger at a personal level, since it is burning me sounds like good advice from well meaning friends. But "maziya sathi na maza petnya cha sohala" - a la Suresh Bhat. Burning in righteous anger (because it is against injustice) is purifying and enriching - making me virtuous. I burn so that there is light so that those close to me can see the data I show and purge their lives and circles of the vice of caste. It is the unwillingness of my so-called friends that bugs me. I am happy to be "atta deep bhav" (be an lamp of virtue to myself) or even be an island to myself. Being in a majority of one (in terms of truth and virtue) is more acceptable to me than to be in the company of huge number of so-called friends who are not understanding of truth and virtue. I am better off alone focused on my personal life on the task I have chosen for my life. No one knows whether I will succeed in my task and whether it will make a difference. But that does not bother me. I will plod on.