Letters to the editor

By: | Published: January 23, 2016 12:09 AM

Rohith Vemula’s suicide

Rohith Vemula’s suicide
Perhaps it is a strange quirk of fate that Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s death has coincided with the commemoration of Dalit icon and arguably India’s greatest social revolutionary Dr BR Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary. It has convulsed the nation and brought the caste question to the top of the country’s political agenda. It is bound to cast its shadow over the Republic Day celebrations. It must be made clear right at the outset that caste is ‘sanctified apartheid’ and its significance in existential terms cannot be overstated. The Dalits are the lowest of the low in the hierarchy and are vulnerable to attacks. The grip of caste on the hidebound Indian society is so strong that many Dalits find it easier to accept their lot than rebel against their low status. Any attempt on their part to assert their basic human rights invites an angry backlash from upper castes. Breaking unwritten caste rules results in terrible retribution. Dalit youth Elavarazan and Gokul Raj had to pay with their lives for daring to cross caste lines. The Dalits continue to be victims of “negative freedom”—the theoretical right to do what, in practice they cannot afford to do. BJP’s deification of Ambedkar does not sit comfortably with its disdain for Dalits. Where the saffron party stands on the caste question needs no magnifying glass to see. BJP cannot go against its grain and support the annihilation of caste for the simple reason that it will end the upper caste dominance in politics, business, civil service, media and other realms. What view the Dalit electorate must take of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nonchalance about the surge of caste-based violence since his assumption of power? The unabated atrocities against the Dalits do more damage to the BJP than it cares to admit.
G David Milton
Maruthancode (Tamil Nadu)

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