India’s Fall From Ambedkar Jal Satyagraha to Indra Meghwal

Indra Meghwal, a nine year old third norm student of a Saraswati Vidya Mandir in Jalore in Rajasthan was beaten by his teacher on July 20. This boy’s “crime” was Drink water from A Ship apparently “reserved” for his teacher, an upper caste man. This is how Indra’s parents and classmates portrayed the events led to his Death after a fruitless search for medical care. Now her fight for justice has begun, for aAnother interpretation of the day’s events is that Indra was beaten after an argument with a schoolmate. Be that as it may, the boy died after being beaten, and at a time of increasing caste atrocities. reports of separation of students and discrimination based on original identity are certainly not uncommon.

In India’s recent history, which we recall as we celebrate 75 years of independence, the movements to end untouchability and universal access to public drinking water ran side by side. Both movements have traveled widely and passed through many unique phases. Mahatma Jotirao Phule’s efforts revolved around facilitating access to education for Dalit children, which Hindu scriptures specifically forbid. Ambedkar was among all social reformers who strove for material justice for the oppressed classes. On August 4, 1923, the Bombay Legislative Council opened state-funded schools, water springs, dharamshalas, courts and dispensaries for the former “untouchables”.

After the historic decision, on March 19, 1927, Ambedkar marched to the Mahad Chavdar Talab, a Water tank to drink water with a large group from supporters. The party was beaten up and the tank was “cleansed” from the members of the elite castes who opposed them. But Ambedkar’s movement caught on and people became aware of the discrimination Dalits. In 1930, Ambedkar sought access to the Kalaram Temple in Nashik and again faced strong opposition from the elite castes. In 1930 the situation was even more challenging as the Hindu Mahasabha had emerged, as had the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS in 1925. It is noteworthy that none of the organizations supported Ambedkar’s fight for equality, although Mahatma Gandhi took on the Cause of the eradication of untouchability in 1933.

In due course, the second chief of the RSS, or Sarsanghchalak, MS Golwalkar, has openly upheld the Varna caste system in his book We or Our Nationhood Defined. So does Deendayal Upadhyay, another prominent Hindutva ideologue. Whose Idea of ​​supporting “integral humanism”.s caste hierarchies. Indeed, the struggle to eradicate the barbaric practice of untouchability and exclusion of Dalits began since Ambedkar, but its pace has been excruciatingly slow. The Jalore tragedy is the most blatant form of this inertia towards reform.

Atrocities against the Dalits hold up a mirror to Company. They prove that despite decades of efforts, discrimination and exclusion persist, even in their most severe form. Despite strict laws, practices in India continue to demean Dalits and they travel abroad with non-resident Indians. The anti-Dalit atrocity laws are very pertinent, however apparently not effective. After incidents like Jalore, tThey only seem to exist on paper. Data compiled by National Confederation of Dalit and Adivasi Organizations (NACDOR) chair Ashok Bharti, based on figures extracted from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) annual reports from 1991 to 2020, shows that there are more than seven lakh were atrocities against Dalits in those years. Around 38,000 Dalit women have been raped over the past two decades. More than five atrocities per hour have occurred against Dalits over the past five years. It is therefore appropriate to ask whether law enforcement is working as it should.

Importantly, too, the emphasis on “our culture” that is the hallmark of right-wing politics needs to be re-examined. Culture is indeed a valuable aspect of human existence. But what part of a culture we embrace is essential to the outcome we get. Do we choose to follow the Buddha and Kabir of our culture who spoke of substantive equality? Or do we choose to follow the culture that represents the school where young Indra studied? At his school, he reportedly faced the wrath of a teacher who is also of the same caste.

The practices in the Vidya Bharati school chain – their imposition of a culture of Brahmanism on young students – also need to be questioned. Why aren’t the values ​​taught by bhakti saints and social reformers like Jotirao Phule and Ambedkar instead of the so-called “values” these schools teach? In fact, Phule and Ambedkar have struggled against Brahmanic oppression all their lives. The question is what, if anything, is said about these figures and about Gandhi in these schools. Gandhi opposed the vile practice of untouchability, which is forbidden in India and yet persists, and proposed India as a mosaic of religious and regional identities. Indeed, the influence of Ambedkar led Gandhi to give due importance to the struggle against Varna or caste-based inequalities and untouchability.

Several aspects of the Jalore tragedy are highlighted, but what is ignored is that the school is part of the Saraswati Vidya Mandir network, a large and growing organization that has spread deep into the Indian school system. They claim to focus on shiksha or education and the teaching of sanskars, which is more difficult to translate. Roughly speaking, Sanskar means ordination. In the Indian context it is another name for the establishment of Brahmanic norms.

Vidya Bharati has been in charge of the Sarswati Vidya Mandir school chain since 1952. During the Janata Party’s rule, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the former Avatar of the BJP, was part of the ruling Combine. BJP leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani were in the ministry and Vidya Bharati became a formal organization back then, in 1977-78. By entering the formal education sector, it was given the opportunity to disseminate and implement its norms students. Today, are These schools work tacitly to promote the values ​​of a mythical golden past and emphasize caste and gender hierarchyYes? She already make up 2% of schools in India.

Vidya Bharati falsely proclaims that every developed nation prioritizes the education of their children in the faith and culture, while india, the “Land of Dharma” is unfortunate not to have such an injunction. Conflicting societal trends cloud the current situation. On the one hand, there is excellent lip service to Ambedkar’s thoughts and values. On the other hand, chains like the schools of Vidya Bharati focus on sanskaras that have deep roots in varna, jati, and hence untouchability.

We don’t know if the Jalore tragedy is an isolated incident in such schools or if there is a pattern behind it. However, the teacher who hit the child was responsible for spreading the organization’s sanskaras among the enrolled students. We all know that the RSS has attempted to woo non-elitist communities within the Hindutva community. In fact, they have had some success. Incidents like Jalore, however, remind us of the deep rot in such institutions. We must look within why Indra had to die and change our school pattern to take responsibility and that those who have suffered for centuries will never be tormented again.

The author is a human rights activist and used to teach at IIT Bombay. The views are personal.

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