I went into the synonyms of the word dalit (oppressed) and found so many different meanings like, afflicted, harassed, beaten down, maltreated, persecuted, subjugated, suppressed, tormented, tortured, trampled, abused, crushed, troubled, tyrannised etc. Basically they were “untouchable” people of an era. Wikipedia has put them lower than the shudras. Now dalits have embraced various religions like Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism etc. My goodness the burden of the words is too heavy. Do we have such atrocities being carried out on our people still?
Why after 70 years a dalit is still a dalit. One dalit is the President’s of India, one gave us the constitution, some became Chief Ministers, and some of them are MPs and members of the legislative assemblies. Quite a few of them are part of the Indian Bureaucracy. We have doctors, lawyers, engineers, police forces yet that word is attached to them. Many of them adorn uniform as part of the Armed Forces; thank God we don’t have any such differentiation.
I have served in various regions of India and I did not find any untouchable people. Yes, I met poor people and often shared a meal and shook hands with them. I did see illiterate people but with deep knowledge of the weather, terrain and life in general. I saw areas where tap water and electricity were unheard of. I served in areas where means to commute was only walking. I did see areas where there was no health care at all. Yes people were sturdy and healthy due to their life style. If you ask them how many camels or yaks do they have they used to quote in hundreds? Multiply it with a cost of the animals; they will be richer than many crorepatis by miles. They were super rich from their hearts.
Hasn’t India marched into the 21st century? I can understand that caste divides are there, mostly so in the minds of my and a generation prior to mine. This too shall have no meaning soon. I wish we could follow what we do in the armed forces that whatever trade you belong to you are soldiers first. Religion, caste creed doesn’t matter. The focus is on the enemy and the aim is to defeat him at any cost. Who cooks, who cleans, who serves, who fires and who drives does not matter. Everyone is a combatant, everyone has to fight. It is a team that matters. Enemy bullet is not selective; it pierces everyone in its path. The blood which spills is of the same colour irrespective of its group. The same blood is given to save life without asking which caste or creed the donor belonged to. It is precious so don’t let it spill on the roads unnecessarily.
Our society is all mixed up with divisions which are self created. If the people of the lower rung of the society do not want to raise their standards then who is responsible for it? I know everyone wants to be rich and fast. Everyone wants a job, which is highly paid with only perks & maximum privileges. Everyone wants VIP treatment by getting reservations for self and all the next generations. No one wants to walk the talk. Very few do it and reach great heights but still want to be attached to that word for more gains. Sad but true.
The age relaxations, the percentage reductions for qualifications, the lowering of physical standards for a certain category of people will lead this country into dark ages. The deserving will be left out and the undeserving will rule the roost. The PM too sold tea but is the head of our state, we proudly acknowledge. Tea vending was a phase, how he worked hard to reach this position is what matters. The President of India today, is also from an untouchable caste I am told. Well, his credentials and hard work made him a Governor and now the President. Isn’t it a matter of pride and honour?
If the old definition still applies to PM & the President then they should not even shake hands as they are untouchables or dalits. What I say is, let us remove this word dalit completely. Every human being is a creation of God, some have lesser opportunities, agreed, give them special attention, give them equal education and let them prove themselves. May be after a few generations their progenies would be better than the best. Let us be Indians and not divided into ST, SC, Dalit, shoshit, vanchit, peerit, etc. We need to change the way we think. We have to think we are Indians first. We need to unhook ourselves from the word Dalit and pave our own way.
Let us move away from untouchability to touching lives that make a difference. Too much of reservations have actually ruined the fabric of this country. When will this stigma of gradation of humans in India be eradicated? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis