Bridging the social gap in our country

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There is a growing tendency amongst non-Dalits to debunk the movements and leadership of the Dalits. This is certainly not what Ambedkar had envisaged

April 14 is the birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar. The entire nation celebrates this day whole-heartedly. People gather in huge numbers and one can hardly find a corner in the country where this day is not celebrated. The celebration goes on for more than a week. The organisers are normally Dalits or Government officials. Though such events create awareness but they often miss the importance of this day. The question often asked is whether Ambedkar worked only for Dalits? The work done by Ambedkar, for women empowerment, were never limited to women community from the Dalits or the tribal community. Non-Dalits and tribals often participate in such event as guests.

If Ambedkar was alive today, he would have focused on imbibing ideologies than indulge in such celebrations. Throughout the year, we celebrate birth anniversaries and death anniversaries of great personalities like that of Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose etc. Other than this, seminars and meetings are organised which discuss about their ideologies and contributions. Baring a few exceptions, there are hardly any event which are organised for Ambedkar. Even the share of space provided to Ambedkar in literature and syllabus is much smaller than his contribution and stature.

Dalit thinkers and writers have often argued as to why they should participate in anniversaries, meetings and seminars of others, when non-Dalits do not participate in celebrations for Ambedkar, Jyotirao Phule, Sahuji Maharaj etc. They have even questioned, as to why they should invite scholars and thinkers of those communities who do not celebrate their leaders. Why a Dalit or a tribal is not invited as speaker or guest to celebrate the anniversary of a brahmin, a kshatriya or a vaishyas leader? 

Non-Dalit speakers come to share their views on Ambedkar and even instruct the Dalits to follow Ambedkar’s teachings. Ideally, it should be the other way around. Non-Dalits should be made aware of Ambedkar's principles. It is as important for non-Dalits and tribals to understand the ideas of Ambedkar as it is for the Dalits. Discrimination will end only when non-dalit and non-tribal communities start understanding Ambedkar.

Thoughts of Ambedkar are important not only for Dalit upliftment, but also for nation-building purposes. Caste binding in our country is much more than binding of religion. These caste ridden division did not break even during the heydays of our country. This is the prime reason why so many invaders succeeded in ruling over us. Even today, caste unity is much bigger than religion-based unity. Even when there is religion-based unity, the founding stone is laid on caste. In every way, the chain binding caste and dividing society never gets effected.

However, it looks like breaking the chains of caste is not possible in the near future. Therefore, it will be a smart move that non-Dalit and tribal communities start celebrating the political leaders, great personalities and thinkers of the Dalit community. This will send a positive message among the Dalit community and will help break the chains of caste division. If such positive measures are not taken, there will be caste-based division of great personalities in two or three decades.

During the 1970s and the 1980s, it was never expected that the Dalits would form political parties on the basis of caste. If equal participation would have been given to the Dalits since freedom, the fight for social equality would never have taken such a huge shape. It is visible nowadays among the Dalit youths that they want to study and read about thinkers and leaders from their community only. Even on social media, the separation of thoughts and thinkers is quite visible. There is a sense of negativity among the youths as to why non-Dalits and tribals follow and appreciate the ideas of Dalit thinkers and leaders. Now is the right time that the non-Dalit community should start accepting Dalit leaders and thinkers as one of their own. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has keenly understood this developing trend. Therefore, he never fails to appreciate the contribution of Ambedkar, wherever he finds such an opportunity. I believe this should form part of discussions at other places also.

(The writer is a Lok Sabha MP of the BJP)

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