By Madhu Chandra
Any Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe when they get the SC/ST status reservation facilities should ask this question, `Who benefits SC/ST status facilities on whose struggle?` Many of the young SC/ST generations, when they enjoy the presidential reservation facilities for underprivileged section of Indian societies, do not realize how and whose struggles, these privileges are provided. It will be very true to our north east India community from SC/ST background and other reserved categories all over the country as well.
The struggle between High caste and oppressed communities of India has reached its crucial juncture. The presidential reservation facilities preserved in Indian Constitution is most precious gift given to Indian oppressed class community. This most precious gift to protect and preserve the underprivileged communities of India has been under attack again and again by high caste minority ruler of the country.
This short write up is attempted to bring awareness among the SC/ST communities, particularly to those who have benefited SC/ST status facility yet failed to realize the importance of joint effort to safe guard of the constitutional right of the provision for Dalit communities.
Who Are Dalits And Dalit-Bahujans?
Three reasons why reintroduction of Dalit is needed at this hour: First, there is strong feeling that the North East Indian Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) are different from the rest of SC/ST of the country. Secondly, there is no difference between SC/ST of North Eastern India with the rest of SC/ST communities in their definition. Thirdly, the north eastern SC/ST communities rarely know the plights of being SC/ST communities in rest of the countries.
Dalit movement has been widely known today all over India. American and European countries started to hear the plights of Dalit atrocities in India. For the first time United Nations heard the issues of Indian Dalits in 2002.
To understand clearly what the Dalit movement is all about, it will be essential to know what the word `Dalit` actually means. After knowing the definition of Dalit, we may fully understand what is happening among the SC/ST communities in Indian villages, towns, cities and forests. This will also help the SC/ST communities in north east India to understand what means to be SC/ST in India society.
Dalit is the very term that Indian SC/ST communities named themselves sometimes in 1960s when SC/ST of Maharashtra protested to leave Hinduism to get liberated from Hindus Caste system. It is derived from Sanskrit word `Dal` meaning for `Oppressed,` `Crushed,` or `Defiled.` Dalits are not included in Hindu`s four Castes – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Shudras developed by Brahmin forces ever since Aryans invented in Indian soils in 1500 BC.
All SC/ST communities in India including the SC/ST communities in north east India are known as Dalit Communities by definition in the way how SC/ST communities are oppressed by Indian`s upper caste communities. To define it in larger term by including Others Backward Classes (OBC), whole low caste and back class communities are politically termed as Dalit-Bahujans (Bahujan means majority) which represent 85% of Indian population.
Brahmins dominated whole Indian society by placing them on top of all castes that also enjoy and control all Temple power and temple economic. The education was designed only for Brahmin societies. Kshatriyas placed in second row of Hindu caste system designated to enjoy and control over authorities and enjoy tax economic collected from whole society under the influences of Brahmins.
Vaisyas placed in third caste row designated to control and enjoy trade economic and power under the influences of their superior Brahmins and Kshatriyas. Shudras placed in fourth caste row designated to serve their three superior Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas. They performed lowest works such as removing the human night waste from upper caste homes. The first three castes are known as UPPER HINDU CASTE and the fourth as low caste.
Where the Dalit communities do falls within Hindu caste structure? Dalits actually does not fall within any of Hindu`s four caste system! Dalits are casteless people because they are not counted as fellow human beings. They are defiled communities. Their shadow on upper caste is considered even defiling. To erase their footsteps they were forced to tight a broom on their backs. Dalits are not to learn Sanskrit, if they happen to hear a Sanskrit phrase, theirs ears are to be poured melted tines. If they happen to remember a Sanskrit phrase, their tongues are supposed to be cut off according to Manu Smriti, the Law of Manu, on which Hindu caste system is built upon.
People hearing the plights of being Dalits will surprise that caste apartheid still happen in twenty first century in far and near corners of Indian societies. In 2002 five Dalits were skinned alive for skinning a death cow. It proved that a death cow is more worth than five Dalits. In 2005, fifty Dalits homes were burnt down in the presence of police forces and district authorities in Gohana 70 km away from Indian capital city – Delhi.
In 2006 March, a Dalit man`s both the hands and leg amputated in Punjab by upper caste when he fought back the gang rapists of his minor daughter. A seven years old girl thrown into burning bush for crime of walking in front of upper caste home in a village close Agra in 2008. Every 18 minutes, a crime is committed against a Dalit, Every day 3 Dalit women are raped, 2 Dalits are murdered & 2 Dalits Houses are burnt in India, 11 Dalits are beaten and every week 13 Dalits are murdered, 5 Dalits home or possessions are burnt, 6 Dalits are kidnapped or abducted. The story like this never cease in daily print and electronic media. Many went unreported injustice.
What Are The SC/SC Status Benefits?
SC/ST known today as Dalit communities in India was known as `Depressed Class` and `Untouchable` by British before independent. In 1937, for first time, the British termed `Depressed Class` or `Untouchable` as Scheduled Caste and Tribe. Special consideration for their social, economical and educational uplift was considered even before the independent of India.
After Independent, in framing of Indian constitution through initiatives of Dr. Bim Rao Ambedkar gave special provision for SC/ST communities and the Presidential Order of SC/ST was listed in 1950. SC/ST status benefits was not the original demand of Dalits, it was optional choice at Pune Pact on September 24, 1932 after Mahatma Gandhi opposed separate electorate for Dalits demanded by Ambedkar and granted by British round table at London.
Majority of SC/ST communities of North East India see SC/ST status facilities in the terms of employment and educational reservation privileges. The SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Acts 1989 amended in 1995 seem to be not fully understood by SC/ST communities of north east Indian which is much beyond educational and employment provisions. Special Acts under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Acts 1995 has been provided to prevent atrocities against SC/ST communities anywhere of the country. The provision given to any SC/ST communities includes some of the followings:
Special provision of employment in Central and state sectors, educational provisions by seat reservation and monetary helps, SC/ST land protections, Atrocity prevention Acts and remedies to the victimized SC/ST communities such as legal punishments, compensations etc. (SC/ST Prevention of Atrocity Acts 1995 is available in concern offices)
Who Struggles For SC/ST And Who Benefits It?
Many SC/ST communities take the SC/ST Status beneficiaries for granted that it naturally came itself to be included in Indian Constitution. It is included in Indian Constitution not without somebody struggling for that. Dr. Bim Rao Ambedkar was one of many who struggle for SC/ST communities in India and many others after him. For the service Ambedkar has done for Indian SC/ST society, he could have been equally given the father of Nation as it is given to Mahatma Gandhi.
Therefore, in this short write up, a question is being asked `Who benefits SC/ST status facilities provided in Indian Constitution on who have struggled?` Those who get the SC/ST status benefits must realize the need of helping those who are involved in the struggle to ensure SC/ST cause.
Differences between Being SC and ST!
Scheduled Caste communities are at the receiving end of Hindu caste system. They are considered to be part of Hindu Caste system but upper caste did not allow them to worship their gods in the same temples, they are considered defiled. They are socially, economically, educationally, politically oppressed. The freedom to choose their faith and religions is denied. The movement they convert to any other faiths and religions different from Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism, they are denied all the Presidential Order of SC status facilities.
Scheduled Tribes are little bit different in the nature they are oppressed. They suffer educational, economic and developmental backwardness for being geographically far away in forests. ST communities are not oppressed like SC when they change their faiths and religions. They are given the ST status benefits even if they convert to other religions different from Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism.
Scheduled Caste origins converted to other faith and religions different from Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism are fighting for their birth, fundamental and constitutional rights to enjoy SC status even after conversion. ST communities will need to realize that their same brothers and sisters of SC communities, who are oppressed under the same stigma of Hindu caste system, need the constitutional rights to be included in presidential order list of SC/ST 1950 even after their conversion to any of their choice.
What is the SC/ST Situation in India?
There is huge lie against SC/ST from general and upper caste communities that reservation provided to SC/ST communities has not done any good to them. It is open fact that without SC/ST status provision provided in Indian Constitution and reservation facilities, SC/ST communities could never have come up to what they are today. If the reservation facility provided to SC/ST today are denied then they will pushed back to what they were before.
Mushrooming of Private sectors is another great challenge for SC/ST because once all the governmental sectors converted into Private Sectors, they will not be any post left for SC/ST communities because, the Private Sectors do not have the reservation system in employment. Mushrooming of Private sectors may not be able to stop from it`s ever growth.
However there can be one possible hope for SC/ST that legally and politically challenges the private sectors to provide reservation for SC/ST communities, which is deadly protested by Private Sector owners. All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations (www.scstconfederation.net) headed by former IRS officer Dr. Udit Raj and many others have been campaigning for private sector reservation. A national campaign demanding to enact private sector reservation is called on November 29, 2010 at Jantar Mantar by All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations.
Although SC/ST communities do not realize who struggled for very benefits of SC/ST, there is a group of people like Dr. Bim Rao Ambedkar and his followers who still struggle to ensure SC/ST status benefits. Educated and empowered SC/ST often forgets their SC/ST brothers and sisters who are still in the need of help for their total liberation from caste oppression.
SC/ST status beneficiaries must be guarded even after mushrooming of private sector. It is high call from SC communities to ST communities to stand united especially constitutional denial of SC status facilities when they are converted to other faiths and religions different from Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism.