Tuesday, September 18, 2012
For some time I wanted to write about the Dalit politics in General, however while reading a recent article in EPW, forced me to write as a response to the article. Dalit Political Imagination and Replication in Contemporary Tamil Nadu (EPW, Sep 8,2012)The article generally focuses on the contemporary dalit movements, excluding Arunthathiyar movements in Tamil Nadu. While framing the politics of Dalit movement the article also keeps a strong critique over the Dravidian movements and it says Caste politics continues but because of the Dravidian parties. The article elaborates the way the mainstream parites (AIADMK, DMK) manipulates schemes to woo the voters in large and also it critiques these movement for going opposition to the Periyar’s ideology. The writes seems to have a soft corner to the left movement, however with a critique on the face value of their approach on caste questions. Later part of the article talks about an alliance with the left movement, who atleast have a common agenda. In between the article the writers also take a critical position of the Dalit movements. This point was only to show that they are aware of the critique on Dalit movements in Tamil Nadu. Dalit movements in India and Tamil Nadu in particular have not seen a greater change of caste of approach of oppression in the contemporary by the Savarnas. Many talk about Melavalavu also the writer points out this and say after a major assertion of Dalit movement in this incident, as a result we don’t find such mass killings. I remember in recent discussion with Duddu Prabhakar of Kula Nirmulana Porata Samithi, that the upper caste or Caste hindus have been changing its way of approach in suppressing Dalit community. These days we would rarely find exclusively upper castes killing dalits rather they use dalits to kill or take their support or the state. The Paramagudi incident is an important factor to this context of using the state to kill Dalits. Dalits have been historically taking few points of Dr. Ambedkar, which suits them here and there and justify their unjust activities through the same argument. In this the important point we come across the inter-caste marriage and the electoral power. Apart from this Dr.Ambedkar’s ideology prevails only in his books. Even the educated masses don’t care to take his other points seriously. The major problem in the article I find the caste question. We should remember that let it be Dalits, OBC, Adivasis, Muslims, whomever is dominant in that particular region or politics tries to suppress the other. In Tamil Nadu there are so many incidents where fellow Dalit (arunthathiyar) women are raped and the community is treated as untouchables by the fellow ‘dalits’. This I feel a serious blunder the educated dalits and its leaders have been avoiding off. There must be a serious debate on this topic. It is the same reason Caste which prevails among dalits. And we can understand more clearly in G.Aloysius writing that the upper caste, OBC’s movements were largely replicating the dominant rule of Varna system during the nationalist discourse, as a way towards domination. At present I would also argue that it continues to Dalit movements too. While Thirumavalavan is waiting for an alliance with Vanniyars (OBCs) but he may not expect or even the educated dalits may not try to bring the Sub-Caste dalits under one platform. The criticizim on OBC’s especially in Tamil Nadu politics is unjust in my understanding. Because I feel there is no serious engagement with OBC’s, academically. After so many years of education we still find a large number of Dalits used by Upper caste against dalits, it is an act of ignorance. The OBC’s have been recently provided reservation policy and a strong critical engagement with this community is needed rather just terming them as a dominant force. I feel the educated Dalits are more ‘castists’, take the case of universities, in which universities that all sub-caste dalits see each other equally. When are the dalit academicians and activists going to address such issues. Also electoral politics without an ideology is nothing but building a house at the seashore. The writers say that in recent clash between two dalit groups(pallar and Pariyar) near Madurai, CPM played the mediating role in the clash. I feel sorry state of dalit politics because its not only one place where different dalit sub-caste have fight there are many, which don’t come to our notices. And the way Arunthathiyars treated by Pallars, and Pariyars is as castist as those the Pariyars accuse off. Why cant the leaders and educated class among the dalits go for a campaign of inner-caste marriages among dalits, and tell every sub caste that we are equal. But sadly every dalit movement wants to portray their own icon and discuss only theirs as the writers in the article did. I only see why arunthathiyar politics is completely neglected by these writers. It also became fashion for many to criticize Dravidian movement and Periyar, its true they deserve it. But if we look into the entire country, dalit movement in Tamil Nadu has a unique character, i.e you cannot find arunthathiyars, or any other dalit movement associated with hindutuva. Its because of Periyar’s legacy, however I don’t reject that Hindutva is present as in any other state. At last I wanted to end it with saying that if Dr. Ambedkar Cartoon witnessed a massive dalit movement, its because every dalit saw him as their figure, but still dalits don’t see lakshmipeta victims one among them, or Bathani Thola victims or Soni Sori one among them. This is one of the serious challenges dalit movement, activist, academicians have to address.