Dalit politics

  • Before independence, they were led by some prominent anti-hindu British agents (Ambedkar, Periyar) [htm , IMG, FB].
  • Cultural orientations
    • Mangled discourse
      • “Hinduism is a synthesis of indigenous tribal practices and belief systems and grew bottom-up, incorporating the numerous pagan practices of Dalits and tribal communities over millennia. … However, the distorted academic & public discourse created an impression that Hinduism is synonymous to Brahmanism (unlike the distinction, which even Ambedkar made), caste-system is a religious system and that Dalits are not Hindus.” SW15.
    • As a holdover from the early days, we see in many cases an undue influence of the Christian church, and anti-hinduism.
      • “Buddhism was promoted as well but failed to find serious takers outside Mahars of Maharashtra.” SW15.
    • Growth of the consciousness of the ‘Hindu unity’ in the modern sense i.e., Hindutva
      • Reimagination of Hinduism
        • “So, the anti-Hinduism propaganda had an effect but an effect, which was quite opposite to what was intended. It enabled Dalits to reject the upper-caste supremacy and instead re-imagine and re-create their own space within the Hindu fold. … Most of the Dalits happily remained attached to their Hindu traditions, rituals and festivals. What happened instead was the decline of ritual power & legitimacy of the upper castes, especially Brahmins. In truth, resentment has always been more against the ‘existing’ caste-system, discrimination and caste inequalities rather than against mythological constructs and ancient scriptures.” SW15.
      • Erosion of caste antagonism
        • “Moreover, for the section of Dalits which benefited from reservations, rising wealth, and opportunities in the post-reform period, caste discrimination is increasingly not the dominant reality of the everyday life. This has reduced the caste antagonism and consequently the space of anti-Hinduism rhetoric.” SW15.
      • Sanskritization
        • “Sanskritization due to works done by several Hindu & Hindutva organisations like opening of temples to Dalits, imparting scriptural knowledge, performing yagna and other sanskara for Dalits, training Dalit priests, anti-caste advocacy etc”SW15.e
      • Ritual changes
        • “Perhaps the best example would be of many Dalits mentioning their ‘vansa’/clan name or sub-caste during Sankalpa (where one is supposed to speak aloud his name and lineage) while performing religious rituals or puja in temples instead of Gotra (male lineage from mostly Brahmin ancient Rishis) and being accepted as such by the mostly Brahmin priests.” SW15.
      • Threat of Islamist aggression
        • “Apart from the faux construct of Dalits and upper caste being permanent political foes, Dalit-Muslim unity is another imaginary construct. In fact, Dalits have always been the first and worst victim of riots and Islamic violence across the country. We have recently seen the religious persecution of Dalits by Muslims in Kanth, repeated rioting against Dalits in West Bengal, Trilokpuri in Delhi, religious persecution of Dalits in Pakistan and Bangladesh, etc. … It is astonishing to note that the same people, who assert day in and day out that Dalits are ‘not’ Hindus, immediately dump the Dalits in case of Dalit-Muslim clash by dubbing Dalits as ‘majoritarian Hindu fascists’ or the ‘foot soldiers’.” SW15.
  • Reservation boost.
    • “Reservation, in essence, played the same role of capital accumulation for Dalits, which the state power and bureaucratic-socialist system played for the forward castes in the post-Independent India.” SW15.
      • “And since, in a closely linked Indian society the benefits of success is not confined to the ‘individual’ alone but has spin-offs for the larger family and ‘biraadaari’, the actual impact of job reservation has been far wider than what is normally acknowledged.” … “The new generation of Dalit leadership, which emerged in the 80s, was mainly drawn from the class of government employees and officials. In fact, the BSP movement in U.P was envisioned and led by the Dalits who were beneficiaries of the reservations and were able to command real resources, substantial enough to be transformed into political capital.” SW15.
    • “Moreover, now the next generation of Dalits is increasingly diversifying out of government sector and into the private sector and business.” SW15.
  • Independent dalit assertion in politics
    • Early congress support.
      • “Congress also acted as guarantor of some modicum of safety and protection for Dalits, peppered with welfare policies. In fact, the breakdown of the Congress system saw a sharp increase in anti-Dalit violence in the 70s.” SW15.
    • “In short, Dalits are no longer hesitant to collaborate and work with other castes for their respective political goals and this time it is not the old Congress structure with Dalits as the mute, subservient partners.” SW15.
    • Fissures
      • “political success of Dalit politics also meant that fissures began to emerge in the Dalit camp as more and more Dalit castes were politicised and empowered. They started demanding a share in the power and questioning the dominance of the vanguard Dalit castes (usually the more numerous and resourceful ones).” SW15.

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