Saturday, July 16, 2011
Mind your Language By Vidya Bhushan Rawat The feudal caste values of our subcontinent often reflect in our expressions. One of the reasons for the usage of these terminologies is the ‘feeling’ of ‘empowerment’ in our heart. How can a ‘helpless’ or a powerful person shows his empowerment. The powerful can abuse and be violent but a ‘helpless’ has only abuses. And interestingly these abuses get more contemptuous in descending order of our society. It means they are hurled more at the most marginalized and physically weak one. Why should we abuse to the others ? And the answer is provided in the various terminologies of our society which have stereotyped these and justify their aggression or failures in doing so. So, there is a blame game through these abuses and terminologies. Police did not act in Mumbai as it was ‘Napunsak’ i.e. impotent or people saw fellow citizen dying on the street because there was no ‘mard ka bachcha’ ( son of MAN), as if women can not save or have not saved any one. Why is, the non functionality of our governments termed as ‘lame duck’. They call proudly ‘yeh langdi sarkar hai’. How does it feel when a person suffering from physical disability and trying to walk as fast as so-called ‘able’ people do, listens to these ‘macho’ dialogues? Have we tried to understand that? Do the people suffering from physical disability not work efficiently? Can they never be efficient and equal like ‘others’? Often in our political platforms the leaders abuse the government saying ‘yeh sarkar bahri and andhi ho gayee hai’. I don’t know but what that means is that all the men and women who are unable to hear and see are incapable. The other day, I had objection to the terminology of ‘kaladhan’ or ‘black money’ for the illicit or ill-gotten money. Why do we use this terminology? Why is black that bad that all the bad things are linked to it. For me black remains the most beautiful color, a color of change. What will we call to the money obtained by the people whose color are not fare as white skinned. I also maintained that most of this ‘so-called’ black money is actually not owned by the ‘black people’ hence why to defame an entire race. Our society is racist in nature. Not all will realize that what the reason of Mahabharata was. While we all condemn the ‘cheer- haran’ of Draupadi, (if that is a true story), but we should also remember how contemptuously she laughed at Duryodhan when he falls in to pool assuming that a glass floor. And the comment that followed was ‘andhe ka beta agar andha nahee hoga to kya hoga’ (the son of a blind will only be a blind, what else he could be). Actually, this reflects the psychology of Indians. The feeling that we can not change and we must do what we are parents and forefathers have been doing for generations. So, a person whose father was a cobbler must do the same work and not think of change. That is the reason of why people hate reservation because they feel that these children who should have been doing menial work are actually now thinking of coming to power. How can the children of cobblers, goldsmiths, iron smiths, farmers, workers, laborers be allowed to rule the country? What will they bring to us except misfortune? It is this very reason, why our middle classes get very reactive of corruption among Dalits and OBCs. Oh, how have these guys got so much of wealth? Why don’t they go back to the community? But the same questions are not asked as where from Anna Hazare got the money to sit on fast and why were businessmen so concern about ‘corruption’ and were donating handsomely to Baba Ramdev. If the same funds are given by some Christians and Muslims, immediately the question would arise, as why are they interested in our cause? Why can’t we ask the question as why the tax evading class is interested in fighting against corruption? If that fast and crowd was mobilized by Udit Raj, everyone would have been asking where the money has come from. Nobody ask the ‘polite’ upper caste about this. It is assumed that they have it for generations and hence nobody needs to question it. So, the donation to the high quality people is on ‘will’ and for a cause and for the others it is meant for ‘corruption’ and ‘conversion’. One of the biggest comments in our films and political circle is made on the inability or inefficiency of a person or a government is ‘yeh napunsak hai. This is an impotent government. ‘Be man’. What will happen if the government is headed by a woman? So any leader who is involved in all kind of misbehavior is termed as ‘impotent’ as if all the bad deeds and sexual abuse are carried over by the sexually inactive persons. Many sexual scandals of our political leaders are getting exposed these days. Should we call them ‘impotent’ or sexually pervert? It not that just physicality matters in our society. Gender and caste abuses are often part of our discourse. It is shocking to see them being used by the caste Hindus. Some of them are often used by even the ‘so-called’ revolutionaries to score a point and degrade some one’s caste. These are part of our rural culture and their daily language. Aamir Khan’s Bosedeeke is nothing but justifying these stereotype where abuses are hurled at regular basis on gender basis (most of the indigenous abuses are caste and gender biased) and cowardliness and betrayal are related to particular communities. Most of our idioms and local sayings are actually based on deep gender and caste prejudices. These idioms are nothing but glorification of our false caste pride and promote macho values which are anti woman. You can always find dialogues of Hindi films saying ‘are koi mard ka bachcha jo mujhse bhide.’ (Is there any son of a MAN who can fight me?. Often the ‘Mard’ i.e. MAN word has used in the bollywood films to degrade woman and promote patriarchical values. I do not think if there is any English equivalent to this word except MAN with a big ego in heart. This has virtually degenerated our entire system. In the 21st century India, the empowerment of communities and societies will happen through a change in our culture and not through guns and bombs. We all know society can not change over night but at least those who claim for it, work for it and want to change it must change themselves. For a healthy society we need a healthy vocabulary and not rhetoric based on prejudices towards the marginalized and physically challenged people.
Friday, July 01, 2011
A certificate course in racism By Vidya Bhushan Rawat Several years ago, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, in New Delhi became the heart of ‘agitation’ against discrimination in government services. The Hindu students of medical sciences there were perturbed as why the shudras and ati shudras were getting into this institution which was the sole preserve of the high caste Hindus. The media gave lot of stories of them and the ‘poor’ doctors forgot their basic duty of looking after the patience. Instead they were raising slogan for ‘equality’ and started an organisation called ‘Youth for Equality’. Interestingly, these youth for equality do not know the meaning of equality. Equality for them is only possible when we maintain the varna dharma which is based on ‘purity’ of ‘soul’ and ‘merit’ of human being. To strengthen their point they say that they are not against ‘poor’. That the basis of reservation should be ‘economic’ and not ‘ caste’. Unfortunately, the basis of reservation is the social identity of the person and not economic but even for a moment we accept their argument even then it will go to the same people who are getting due to their caste. Anyway, this ‘youth of equality’ was nothing but a tool to maintain the status quo ante and suppress the voices of the Dalits and OBCs. Unfortunately, OBCs are unable to even fight their battle so Dalits took up the lead and also became target of insinuation by the caste forces. OBCs reserved their energy to hit the Dalits in the villages which they are quite expert in and providing fodder to Hindutva’s street thugs against Muslims. The issue of reservation in India has always been burning heart of our friends for years. Unfortunately, none of them raise their voice against the reservation for Brahmins who control our temples and ashrams and which is absolutely birth based, as well as reservation for manual scavengers who hail from a particular community. We still have not been able to eliminate the manual scavenging. Those champions of equality actually usually protest in the street sweeping and polishing shoes which means that if they are not there in the AIIMS, they would have to do such work which is not meant for them. Our students feel it the same way. That cleaning, sweeping, scavenging, farming are not their work. It is the duty for those which is prescribed by Lord Manu. Therefore none should be surprised what IIT Delhi is proposing in terms of ‘educating’ the Dalit students. It is simply following what AIIMS student started several years back. We all know its director Indrasen has been notoriously writing against reservation and has filed a case in the Supreme Court related to OBC quota. Indian Institute of Technology is a brand name world over for high quality technical education. Unfortunately, these institutions surviving on the extraordinary budget of the government do not provide people who have not only quality and ability but also a commitment to India. Today, these institutions have become den of the forces who look down upon anything which reflect diversity of India and fair play. The issue of reservations of seats for Scheduled Castes and other groups like the Scheduled Tribe and OBCs has been powerfully resisted by the IITians of different hues in the name of merit. One can not ignore the fact that merit is important in our life but the basic point is how do you estimate merit? Is there any criterion which can judge merit in India which suffers from Dronacharya syndrome and where academics are turning worst than the former Guru of Mahabharata who created all kind of obstacles for Eklavya, a tribal boy, to become numerouno archer of the world? One does not need to repeat this mythological story as how Dronacharya in his attempt to foil the hard work of Eklavya used his devotion to him as a tool to promote his favourite Arjuna as the number one archer of the world, asked Eklavya to offer him his thumb. So, one can not believe in such teachers for evaluating the merit of those who they feel suffer from inferiority. These are the academics who have not been able to clean their mind and heart. The issue of reservation has to be seen in wider context of respecting diversity of communities at all the level of our academic institutions and governance structure. Unfortunately, it seems, that the caste Hindus feel that merit and nationalism is their domain and therefore they have got the fundamental right to rule and lord over the country. It is an unfortunate situation. Definitely one of the issue is that every one want to be part of these institutions and hence government must increase the strength also but that apart a diverse country like India can not survive if our places of learning do not have space for the vast variety of ethnic, linguistic, religious and caste groups in these institutions. In the absence of the presence of these groups, we only create stereotypes about them. It is more than shocking to hear the circular of IIT Delhi for the Dalit-OBC students to learn etiquettes and manners. What does it mean? Do the students hailing from these categories suffer from cultural inadequacies? Can we really call it like that? What are the learned professors of our IITs going to teach to these students? Why are such classes necessary for the Dalits, tribal and OBCs only? Why the University and these ‘meritorious’ institutions not offer these classes of manners and etiquettes for the so-called upper caste Hindus too. IITs and other such institutions have been domain of caste based discrimination in India. The Dalit students and the students from OBC community face discrimination at every phase right from their admission till evaluation. The female students opting for Ph.Ds often face the sexual harassment. Many of these students were compelled to commit suicide. The dirt in India’s academic world need to be cleaned and it is only possible with diverse participation these institutions. Today, these institutions have high level of nepotism and corruption which is not exposed so far. The links matter a lot in India and particularly in bureaucracy and academics. Better assignment, good postings and wonderful evaluation are hallmark of our wonder world. In such a scenario when these institutions want special training to learn etiquette for the Dalits and OBCs then we have to seriously think of the merit of these teachers and other academic staff. It clearly envisage that the Dalit and others who are not really caste Hindus suffer from lack of etiquettes and hence need to be ‘educated’ for that too. Should we call it a new ‘sansrktisation’ process where students may be asked to condemn themselves rather than questioning the wrong? Indians grow in their caste and have never allowed developing linkages and friendship beyond their caste. The beyond caste friendship is just due to some compulsion otherwise we would not be happy in exploring that. When you grow up in hearing things about the glories of your caste and contempt of others, you only develop a false notion about others. Our academic institutions actually suffer from that as they were educating just one kind of people there. They should understand that thousands of Dalit OBC students are now challenging the status quo and coming up with flying colors. If they do not know, I would like to emphasize that 10 years down the line, the maximum competition and merit would come from the Dalit students. So the education sector is witnessing the biggest change and that is the participation of Dalit-OBC-tribal students and Universities, colleges and other academic institutions need to understand that. It is not scenario of 1980s when they would say that in the absence of ‘eligible’ students they recruited the ‘others’. Today, there is no dearth of students from these communities who have come up and performed much better than others. Hence the institutions have to prepare them to face new realities and not re-impose their outdated caste mind on the young mind. They do not realize that they are living in 21st century and for this they need 21st century ideas. On the one side we want to claim that we have highly talented young minds coming from these ‘prestigious’ institutions but the darker side is that they are churning pathetic caste mindsets who have nothing to with India and mostly who are looking for greener pastures. IITs and academics should come out of their isolated megalomaniac world and face the realities of the 21st century where their act may be pursued as violation of fundamental rights of individuals. They need to learn from the world that there are UN Declaration of human rights and India is signatory to all this. They should also know the political changes in the country. These teachers are a shame to India who suffers from Dronacharya syndrome. In today’s world Dronacharya would not only have been suspended from the job but would have faced prosecution in the court of the law. One sincerely hope that the decision of Delhi IIT and any other institution will be taken back otherwise it will amount to racial and caste based discrimination and the director or Vice chancellor of such institutions must be prosecuted for that. Those champions of ‘merit’ who oppose reservation for Dalits and OBCs keep mum on when their friends buy seats in the technical institutions. They pay money and get admission abroad too. None of them ever raised a slogan against private colleges which levy huge capitation fees or when they can buy ticket for anything by just paying a few bucks extra. Issue of merit is often repeated and Dalit-OBC-Muslim question can not be related to that. It is the question of share in power structure. If the government is so afraid, then we will need more AMUs, more Jamias and more the likes that for the Dalits and OBCs too. If the caste based discrimination against them continue, there is nothing wrong in demanding special universities for each segments of our society. We have seen how the students are bringing fictitious certificates of different categories to get admission in the university and we have plenty of information related to that in the past also. The only point, I wish to make is that the student do not know what to do for the admission. It is there ‘meritorious’ teachers who must have told them to get these fake certificates. What could be the ‘merit’ of these goons who are ready throw away lakhs of rupees to get admission into these ‘prestigious’ colleges. It would be better to rename AIIMS as All India Institute of Manuwadi Studies which actually would really reflect the nature of the institution. Already, we have the statue of Manu inside the campus of Jaipur High Court and nobody dare to remove that. It would be good to install these statues at other places such as IITs and AIIMS so that people world over could know what is the importance of this man Manu. In fact, government of India, should also help strengthen Manuwad all over the country by printing original Manu smriti in all the languages of India so that people could know why Manu excites so much to our academic institutions and IITs.