Friday, December 11, 2009

[ZESTCaste] How Long Casteism?

How Long Casteism?

By Garda Ghista

10 December, 2009
World Prout Assembly

Hyderbad, India: The Times of India on December 7 reported that Dalits
in Gujarat are banned from Hindu temples. Yet, they are Hindu, isn't
it? If they are banned from their own Hindu temples, then why on earth
should they remain Hindus? Better they become Buddhist, Christian or
Muslim. Tragically, even by converting to one of these other
religions, they remain Dalits. We have here in India such a thing as
Dalit Christians and upper caste Christians. Is it not mad? If I tell
this to friends back in America, their jaws will drop in disbelief.

In a study conducted by the Ahmedabad-based Navsarjan Trust in
conjunction with the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at
University of Notre Dame, Indiana, Dartmouth College at the University
of Michigan and the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Social Justice and
Human rights, Wash. D.C., covering 98,000 Dalits from 1,655 villages
in Gujarat, 97 percent of respondents say they do not feel able to
enter a Hindu temple. Ninety-five years ago Gandhi invited a Dalit to
his ashram and immediately others stayed away and donations dried up.
Did nothing change in 95 years? Even at satsangs and kathas Dalits are
not permitted to sit on couches and chairs with the upper castes. No
one tells them. It is just understood. The same study documents 99
different forms of untouchability still practiced in Indian villages.
According to retired JNU Professor Ghanshyan Shah, Dalits face
untouchability primarily in religious affairs. In fact, Hinduism is
the origin of the caste system.

Another form of untouchability continues in Gujarat specifically,
which is that Dalits have to drink tea in separate cups from the upper
castes.. The non-Dalits keep a separate tea cup for Dalits outside
their house. This outrage has been continuing for centuries, it seems,
the only difference being that earlier the cups were made of clay and
today they are made of steel. If it is in public, Dalits are given tea
in disposable cups, while non-Dalits get tea in ceramic cups. Dalit
women are not allowed to touch the vegetables at the bazaar. The
vegetable man will see what she wants, then he throws them into the
hollow of her saree. There's more. Some higher caste people will tell
you that not once in their life did they shake hands with a Dalit

The same census tells us that Dalit children are shamed at mid-day
meals by being forced to eat separately. Children from higher castes
avoid taking lunch with Dalits. Dalit children are banned from
participating in any school cultural events. The Valmiki untouchable
caste children are made to clean the school toilets. What is appalling
is that adults, millions of them all over India, from the higher
castes, will claim that there is no more casteism in India. Yet, if
any of the above instances happened in America, you can be sure that
parents would be filing law suits against the school. Not only that,
they would win in court and receive millions of dollars in damages. In
certain ways, such as dropping depleted uranium weapons and weapons
from manless drones on defenseless, helpless villagers, America is
certainly an uncivilized country. But what do we call this kind of
discrimination found in India today? It is just like the racism of the
early 20th century in America, where blacks were marching on the
streets of Mississippi and Alabama for justice and whites were busy
declaring that racism doesn't exist in America. So in this regard,
India is no different than America was 80 years ago.

Recently Tehelka magazine published news telling about a new Dalit
organization in Kerala called Dalit Human Rights Movement (DHRM).
According to the report, they were holding regular study circles at
which they would sit and discuss all the teachings of Dr. Ambedkar.
The goal was to raise social and political consciousness among Dalits.
Suddenly on September 29th the Kerala police arrested scores of DHRM
members and many others have gone underground. The police claim that
the DHRM members have terrorist links. But what is the reality? We
don't know for sure. But we do know that any time an oppressed segment
of the population tries to stand on its feet and demand dignity, the
forces in power, the forces that keep them oppressed, immediately
trounce on them and crush them until they are once again fearful and
silent. But for those who long for a just society, a society based on
social equality, it is most painful to listen to their silence. On
this issue, the propounder of Neohumanism, Shrii Prabhat Ranjan
Sarkar, says:

"Feelings of differentiation are a great impediment in the spiritual
practice for the Infinite. The feeling that a particular person is a
Muslim, another a Hindu, yet another a Brahmin-caste, and the fourth a
capitalist, are mean thoughts. When every living being is a
manifestation of the Supreme Consciousness, how can you know yourself
without shedding these differentiating feelings?"

After centuries of casteism in India, still we have millions here who
feel superior to others based on their caste alone. They may be
scoundrels and thieves, they may be corrupt to the core. But the only
thing that matters here is the name, which indicates the caste. It is
a mad country, this India. Then those higher castes proceed to inflict
all sorts of indignities and sufferings on the lower castes. Yet is it
not comical? Because if we stop to reflect a bit on biological and
anthropological facts, we are bound to admit that all of us originated
from monkeys. All of us, higher castes, lower castes, Dalits,
Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Americans, Germans – all of us evolved
from monkeys. So then, for those who have studied a bit of biology in
their school days, is it not mad that they place so much importance on
caste? Do we have Brahmin monkeys and Dalit monkeys then? The actual
commonalities of human beings are that all have the same biological,
instinctive traits of love and affection, pleasure and pain, hunger
and thirst. Realizing these commonalities that cross all oceans, all
national borders, we should consider that the time has come to
relegate caste to the history museum.

Why is there no discussion in our mainstream media about something
called social synthesis, about people from all walks of life coming
together and feeling close to one another? It is time now that we view
each person as a flower in a garden full of hundreds of varieties of
flowers, all forming a one gloriously beautiful bouquet. Those who
love humanity should be publicly encouraging these flowers, some
vastly different in appearance or race or sect, to mix freely with one
another, and above all to marry and merge, so that those who are
adamant to remain only with their own caste will become helpless to
find their own caste due to huge numbers of intermarriages and
children becoming casteless. We should welcome a future in India where
racial and sectarian injustice becomes an unknown entity, where
microscopic differences between human beings will no longer be
noticed, and where only one family is recognized, called the human
family. Let us again recall the words of Shrii Prabhat R. Sarkar:

"The subterranean flow of love and affection exists in all hearts
alike. Every person cries out in pain, everyone feels pleasure when
there are occasions of joy and happiness. Maybe in different
geographical, cultural, social and other environments, the lifestyle
of different human groups may vary; maybe, a few special psychic
traits in those groups may assert themselves, but fundamentally, their
mental existences flow along the same channels of ideas and
consciousness. Containing the same cosmic momentum and under the same
cosmic inspiration, they all have set out for a tryst with the same

Garda Ghista is a freelance journalist and founding president of the
World Prout Assembly, an organization dedicated to transferring
economic power from corporations to the common people and to fighting
injustice in every sphere of life. She can be reached at


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