1. Dalits are right: Enough is enough, says P Chidambaram

Dalits are right: Enough is enough, says P Chidambaram

On July 11, 2016, a video of cow vigilantes mercilessly beating up seven Dalit men for skinning a dead cow in Una district, Gujarat, came to light. In protest against the incident, many Dalits have refused to handle cow carcasses.

By: | Updated: August 28, 2016 7:20 AM
GST Bill, chidambaram GSt, chidambaram GST debate, GST bill today, gst bill today news, gst bill in rajya sabha The gau rakshaks should be happy, but they are not. Non-Dalits, presumably including gau rakshaks, have retaliated with more violence against Dalits—this time for not picking up cow carcasses—in Samter (August 16), Bhavra (August 20) and Rajkot (August 24), all in Gujarat. (Reuters)

On July 11, 2016, a video of cow vigilantes mercilessly beating up seven Dalit men for skinning a dead cow in Una district, Gujarat, came to light. In protest against the incident, many Dalits have refused to handle cow carcasses.

The gau rakshaks should be happy, but they are not. Non-Dalits, presumably including gau rakshaks, have retaliated with more violence against Dalits—this time for not picking up cow carcasses—in Samter (August 16), Bhavra (August 20) and Rajkot (August 24), all in Gujarat.

Herein lies the Dalit dilemma—he is damned if he does and he is damned if he doesn’t.

The bane of Hindu society is varna, the four-tier arrangement said to be sanctified by the scriptures. The arrangement encompassed the majority and assigned them places, but it also excluded a large number. The excluded were the outcasts or the untouchables.

Inequality by birth was the basis of the arrangement. That inequality stayed with you throughout your life. Violence against Dalits is the punishment for disobeying the rules of the arrangement. Rohith Vemula summed it up: “My birth is my fatal accident.”

The Dalit mobilisation

The Dalits have decided that enough is enough. They have decided to mobilise.

The scale of social mobilisation of Dalits in Gujarat and Maharashtra, and to some extent in other parts of the country, has not been seen in recent times.

Although much of the media is not covering them, massive rallies and marches are being held. There is palpable anger in the community because of the sense of impunity with which they are being subjected to violence in certain parts of the country.

According to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, in 2015, Gujarat reported the highest crime rate against Dalits, followed by Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

Dalits are angry about the hollowness of the current hyper-nationalism where everything about India is called great and every criticism is labelled as anti-national.

They are angry about the way the Una incident and other such incidents are being dismissed as isolated or as conspiracies. It is noteworthy that the boycott of cow carcasses, the rallies and the marches have happened through social, not political, mobilisation.

After a long period of silence, the Prime Minister spoke on August 6.

He said, “I get so angry at those who are into the gau rakshak business… I have seen that some people are into crimes all night and wear the garb of gau rakshaks in the day.”

The very next day, at a rally, he said, “You can shoot me rather than target the Dalits.” This is a strange statement for a Prime Minister: he should use the enormous powers of his office to punish the perpetrators of violence.

Change agonisingly slow

Change is taking place, but it is agonisingly slow. In urban areas, where economic and professional identities usually take precedence, and in parts of India where social movements have brought about change, a majority of Hindus do not feel passionate about the caste order.

Many Hindus may still prefer marriages within the caste, but have friends among Dalits. Many may express angst about the reservation system, but do not begrudge the limited preference to Dalits in educational institutions and in some jobs.

However, there is a section of Hindu society that continues to look back with nostalgia at the days of caste domination. Many of them have read a sign of approval in the BJP’s victory in 2014.

The cow vigilantes are the latest manifestation of centuries of a supremacist ideology.

The flurry of bans on cow slaughter and beef consumption, and the aggressive majoritarian narrative, have given them fresh wind.

Few people saw the casteist agenda more clearly than Dr Ambedkar and ‘Periyar’ EV Ramasamy. Both were pessimistic about the reformation of Hindu society.

Dr Ambedkar did not think that Dalits could find dignity within the fold of the Hindu religion and urged them to convert to Buddhism.

Periyar’s way was atheism and rationalism. The third way is reform of the Hindu social order and accelerating the trends that will usher in a new social order—education, industrialisation, urbanisation, communication and technological advance.

The constitutional goal

For the Hindu hyper-nationalists, the idea of a ‘Hindu’ nation is superior to the idea of a constitutional democratic republic. They will sweep the pains of caste history under the carpet.

They think that to uphold the idea of a ‘Hindu’ nation it is necessary to underplay its flaws and hide the price that is paid by millions of Dalits and the minorities.

On the other hand, the Constitution-makers did not deny the existence of these problems: they acknowledged the prevalence of caste differences and discrimination and formulated what they believed would be intermediate solutions, such as reservation for the Scheduled Castes and rights of minorities.

The real focus of the Constitution is to secure a set of natural rights that every Indian should enjoy, irrespective of the historical injustices. It is to make caste, religion and gender irrelevant to citizenship and citizens’ rights.

The project of creating this sense of equal citizenship is still a work-in-progress in this vast and complex land. Hindu hyper-nationalism, which is a form of majoritarianism, is at odds with the constitutional project.

The conflict is playing out, in an increasingly violent manner, before our eyes.

The consequences of a long-drawn conflict will be terrible for the country and its progress toward the goal of a peaceful and prosperous nation.

Website: pchidambaram.in


  1. A
    ananth narayan
    Sep 2, 2016 at 1:25 pm
    This guy is a thorn. He did take India backward and during his tenure as FM, the Congis had nobody else, he undid everything good done by BJP. Typical arrogant person like Congy minsters he did more harm to majority and emboldened terrorists.
    1. Rajashekhar Aradhya
      Sep 25, 2016 at 11:18 am
      Chidambaram is worst than a dalit. Nothing is done in his period. Kept them as in educated for votes.
      1. C
        Oct 20, 2016 at 1:54 pm
        In the present time no one make diffrences in dalits and higher cast . Only thing is politics who makes differences in dalit and higher cast and only congress makes difference in dalit and higher cast . They make conspiracy to divide the society and wants to enjoy the post and money . Can a congressies will tell this dalit will be our prime minister and this Muslim will be our prime minister? Because only they want power in his own hand by dividing the society and community.
        1. R
          Aug 29, 2016 at 12:41 am
          Yea, enough with congress regimes playing politics for votes
          1. Bhagavath B S
            Oct 9, 2016 at 6:57 am
            your party leader is an italian,why cant u keep a dalit as congress president,
            1. Bhagavath B S
              Oct 12, 2016 at 8:15 am
              1. Bhagavath B S
                Sep 10, 2016 at 9:50 pm
                he is out dated morom, coming in media telling something with out meaning, last 70 years congress ruled india, why still dalit are suffering,he will not blame the looters party, but blame BJP why?
                1. B
                  B K
                  Oct 20, 2016 at 3:12 am
                  The rigged MP P chidambaram and the master of financial scam is now again on dirty politics on Dalits. The Nehru family congress party kept Dalits under their feet, did not allow caste people to develop with others and now playing again the same dirty politics so that they can again get power to loot country exchequer.
                  1. R
                    Aug 28, 2016 at 5:39 pm
                    oh now that hat your party is in opposition sudden love for dalits what has your party done for them in last 60 years
                    1. S
                      Oct 10, 2016 at 7:42 am
                      Congress has been repeatedly tried to weaken the Hindu community and their rule of 65 years is the cause of all that sudden love for Dalits. What did he do when he was home and finance minister?The congress is send decays and wants attention. Why are they using rahul like Rajiv, whay dont the senior leaders lead and not fool the party and nation.
                      1. Valerian Menezes
                        Nov 3, 2016 at 2:41 pm
                        A good article. Enlightening. The situation prevalent in the country today is a sad affair. Hope the consutional privileges given to weaker and powerless section will prevail.
                        1. V
                          Nov 2, 2016 at 6:29 pm
                          After a series of scam & shameless defending son in law, how can somehave a right to talk about morals
                          1. k
                            Oct 8, 2016 at 8:12 am
                            can he define a"DALIT".as per the consution.are they superhumans or humans as everybody?
                            1. C
                              Chinnasamy. M.
                              Aug 28, 2016 at 6:53 am
                              Well written, thought provoking.
                              1. D
                                dev lukum
                                Sep 19, 2016 at 5:13 pm
                                A same congress strategy Divide and RULE
                                1. Narasimha Prakash
                                  Sep 26, 2016 at 11:55 am
                                  If there are lakhs of them in every state even today after 67 after Independence, it is the rulers of this period who have kept them in that condition. Chidambaram, please stop talking non s e n se. Introspect and you will know why they have remained as dalits. If you think you can come back to power by using them, it means that you are using the same old tricks.
                                  1. K
                                    Sep 29, 2016 at 8:09 pm
                                    Chidambram you and your congress kept them other poor so Donkey like Rahul gi can become a leader and all other congress leaders and their supporters can loot poor Indian again. why can't you congresses shut up or we shut up you people once for all, so India can progress. You and your son's are also involved in health scam.
                                    1. J
                                      Sep 23, 2016 at 6:33 am
                                      his shop has been closed, hence he is trying to sell Dalit agenda for getting into power & Politics again.....People knows very well, what they have given to dalit in last 60 years of congress rule.
                                      1. P
                                        Oct 14, 2016 at 10:40 am
                                        Chidambaram views should be taken as pinch of salt as he representing a party which is know for mive corruption & brought disrespect to Country. The only thing they have pursued is to treat hi family like a undeclared Monarch of Republic of India.
                                        1. P
                                          Oct 14, 2016 at 10:31 am
                                          it is good that Rahul hi have great lawyers advisors like Chidambaram/ Kapil Sibal / Salman Khurshid & pol advisors like ManiShankar Ayer/ Ahmed Patel/ Digvijay Singh etc. I pray to God Rahul keep them as advisors till 2019 General Election so that it brings Cong doomsday much earlier than expected. Country should be thankful to these great gentleman that on their advise Andhra Pradesh split was done which completely weeded out Cong from that State. Same thing they are pursing the case for Cong in Pan India Level.... GREAT GOING KEEP THE PACE MR. CHIDAMBARAM PLEASE APPOINT BARKHA DUTT & SAGARAIKA GHOSH AS YOUR POLTICAL ADVISORS
                                          1. R
                                            Oct 18, 2016 at 12:24 pm
                                            Educated people,shame on us to use unparliamentry word.fighting like uneducated s.
                                            1. Load More Comments

                                            Go to Top