Dear SC/ST officers of India, especially from AP,
Please read this article and my humble request for you. Please allow me to take liberty in saying this.
We all know that Mr Obama is coming to India in November. Though I am not a great fan of him, it is the truth that he is the president of the most powerful nation in the world. He is able to influence if he really cares on any matter.
There is an euphoria of his coming to India. Media is agog about it. He is giving interviews of his great impressions of India, Gandhi and what not. How much he knew (or he pretends not know) of Dr Ambedkar, the real hero of the oppressed, the Dalits, and their sufferings. In the history, heroes are always needed for oppressed, not for already powerful.
The real Hero of India is Dr Ambedkar ( if one admits or not) as he struggled all through his life for the most oppressed and got them human dignity after centuries of discrimination - unlike Gandhi who said and never practiced what he preached with 100% commitment. Some may take objection to this statement, but that is the reality. While saying it I don't care what his limitations are as some try to defend.
I strongly feel, Mr Obama has to know more of Dr Ambedkar than Gandhi due to his background.
I don't care where he goes, what he does, and whom he pays homage to. But, I want him to know a bit about Dr Ambedkar and Dalits in this historic and much publicized tour.
I urge officers to see the possibility of meeting him and apprise him of the condition of Dalits. Please present him a good collection of books on Dr Ambedkar and Dalit situation and memorabilia.
Being in power, I feel, it is not impossible for SC/ST officers to have an opportunity with him, if good groundwork is done by the all-India cadre of SC/ST officers. After all, they are indispensable in every place he visits and in every meeting he attends.
I sincerely urge all officers in AP to work with their counter parts in Delhi, Mumbai and other places where he is supposed to visit or stay.
I wish him not to go without knowing much about Dr Ambedkar or Dalits as it was the case of Dr ML King. I do not want him wash his hands later saying that he did not know the real sufferings of Dalits in India during his presidency.
If doesn't care, it will be his fault. If we do not present our case, it will be our fault.
So, urge, again and again, please do something collectively to meet Mr Obama during his visit to India.
I doubt how far online petitions go. When we have a opportunity to present our case in person, why not try it out? If it doesn't work, so be it. Atleast we tried our best.
May I count on you to do something good to the suffering masses?
http://www.newstate sman.com/ blogs/the- staggers/ 2010/10/india- caste-ambedkar- dalits
Being untouchable no longer
Posted by David Griffiths - 28 October 2010 12:36
Increasingly powerful voices in India are calling for a true end to
untouchability and discrimination based on caste.
Every day, Uma walks through the village with her basket to the
communal latrine. Nobody touches her along the way. She has an enamel
toilet in her own home, but she cleans the excrement of others because
this is the job assigned by her caste. This practi
When President Obama visits India next month, it is quite certain that
he will pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, perceived around the world as
one of history's most celebrated symbols of liberation, and a source
of inspiration for the American president himself.
But there are calls within India for Mr Obama to look further than
Gandhi in his homage to Indian heroes. For India's community of 167
million Dalits, once known as 'untouchables' , their true icon is Dr
B.R. Ambedkar. Himself an untouchable, Dr Ambedkar gained doctorates
from Columbia University, where Mr Obama himself was educated, and at
the London School of Economics, before becoming the architect of
independent India's new constitution.
Relatively little-known internationally, Ambedkar has accrued almost
divine status as the focal point for Dalit aspirations. Within India,
Ambedkar appears everywhere. His statues easily outnumber those of
Gandhi. Deep in communities of Dalits, you will hear the greeting,
"jai Bhim", meaning "hail Bhimrao [Ambedkar]". You will see Ambedkar's
portrait in any self-assertive Dalit's home, and his name is spoken
with pride. When the nation marked his fiftieth death anniversary in
2006, over 800,000 Dalits crowded to pay him their respects in Mumbai.
Dalits stress that unlike the Mahatma, Ambedkar challenged the very
existence of the caste system as the basis for discrimination against
Dalits. It is because of Ambedkar, they say, that the oppressed Dalits
play any part in India's political and administrative structures -
albeit a limited part. That is why anti-caste activists are urging Mr
Obama to pay homage to Dr Ambedkar, as a true giant of the cause of
liberation from oppression.
These calls are just one sign of the increasingly powerful
vocalisation of Dalit aspirations for the recognition of their cause,
and for social, economic and cultural equality. Dalit aspirations for
liberation from caste oppression - and it is important to add that
Dalits suffer discrimination in every religious community - are
resonating increasingly loudly around the world. The issue has gained
profile at the UN, with the Committee for the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination having charged the Indian government to bring about
clear improvements in a number of areas. NGOs continue to press
companies investing in India to tailor their corporate social
responsibility (CSR) policies to address the specific challenges of
Two campaigners against caste discrimination, S. Anand and Meena
Kandasamy, visited London last week to highlight the cause, by
speaking at events around a photography exhibition, Being Untouchable.
The exhibition, by Marcus Perkins for CSW, offered a sympathetic
series of portraits of the many different faces of untouchability in
modern India, in a powerful reminder of the tens of millions of
victims among the Dalits whose plight needs to be addressed: the woman
who cleans excrement from a dry latrine because it is her caste job,
the young girl pushed into burning ashes because she walked on a path
reserved for 'high' castes and who may never get justice, the
destitute who may always be excluded from education and opportunities.
Theirs are the stories that truly need to be heard amid the cacophony
of coverage of India's economic boom.
Reading from her deeply moving 2006 poetry collection at the launch
last week, Meena Kandasamy offered a poignant reminder of the depth of
Dalit aspirations for drastic change:
We will rebuild worlds from shattered glass and
remnants of holocausts.
[...] It will begin the way thunder rises in our throats and we
will brandish our slogans with a stormy stress and
succeed to chronicle to convey the last stories
of our lost and scattered lives.
David Griffiths is South Asia team leader at Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
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