Tuesday, September 21, 2010

[ZESTCaste] ‘Untouchability wasn’t so much a sin as a crime’


'Untouchability wasn't so much a sin as a crime'
By churumuri
M.S. Prabhakara, longtime northeast and South Africa correspondent of
The Hindu, on the ongoing Brahmin-Dalit interaction in Karnataka:

"[The] demonstrative walkabouts by Brahmin leaders in areas one
shunned as literally dirty and polluting , and by Dalit leaders in
areas formally barred to Dalits, or the washing of the feet of a Dalit
guru by Brahmins, are driven by a fundamentally flawed perspective
that sees untouchability as a 'sin.' Thus the symbolic atoning by
those who provided the ideology, the 'upper' caste Hindus like
Brahmins — for it was the Brahmins who wrote the texts.

"These attempts to weld a common Dalit-Brahmin platform, united in
symbolic acts of unity and togetherness, also make those Dalits who
are going along with such a compact complicit in their historic
diminishment and exclusion.

"The problem with such gestures is that the practice of untouchability
was not so much a sin as a calculated crime, part of a social
structure constructed by those who controlled the resources to
facilitate the accumulation of surplus and profits in the process of
material production. However, it is easier and more comfortable to
everyone, even some of the victims of that crime, to give
untouchability the spin of being a 'sin,' for acceptance of moral
culpability costs nothing.

"If, on the other hand, one were to see the practice as a calculated
crime for which one has to eventually pay, those who have perpetrated
such crimes could, under a proper system of justice, be sent to

Read the full article: Untouchability: a sin and a crime:


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