'Being a Dalit in India is like being a buffalo,’ says Kancha Ilaiah

Kancha was in conversation with journalist Gauridasan Nair at the Kerala Literature Festival in Kozhikode on ‘Being a Dalit in India’.
'Being a Dalit in India is like being a buffalo,’ says Kancha Ilaiah
'Being a Dalit in India is like being a buffalo,’ says Kancha Ilaiah
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Being a Dalit in India now is not like it was earlier, there is a planned attack on Dalits, activist-writer Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd has said.

“Being a Dalit is like being a buffalo in India. Most of the milk to consume comes from the buffaloes, but it is not treated at par or worshipped as a cow. It is the same predicament of Dalits, as they are the most productive. Dalits mean creativity and productivity, but they are not even allowed to enter a temple. They should fight against this in alliance with other backward classes. The most tragic part of a nation of this size, a country with a huge population, is that OBCs don’t have a philosopher of the size of Ambedkar,” he said.

Kancha was in conversation with journalist Gauridasan Nair at the Kerala Literature Festival in Kozhikode on ‘Being a Dalit in India’. Kancha even called upon the lower castes to aim for something big like being the President of the United States rather than fighting in the country for a few acres of land. 

“Aim big, the rest won’t be of any use in the long term,” he said. 

He even said that Dalits should stop cultivating, constructing roads and cleaning work. "Let the Baniyas and Brahmins do all that. If not, let the nation starve, let it be unclean. Who will bring in Swachh Bharat, if Dalits won’t do cleaning? Look at Kerala, no other people except Dalits are doing road work or hotel work here and hence the society is going towards Brahminism, the workforce comes from outside the state,” he said. 

He believes that it’s good that BJP is ruling the country, or else caste wouldn’t have been debated. “Without discussing it, how can it be exposed and not discussing caste is not good for Dalits. The Communists and liberals in the Congress don't allow caste differences to come to the fore. In the name of secularism, they avoid religious discourse ..,” he said.

He continued, “It’s feared that Dalits will destroy the composition of Hinduism. If caste is not discussed, the OBCs or a section of the Shudras will be part of Brahminical culture. Even the English-educated Nairs in Kerala won't question Brahmins.”

Going back to history, “The Sanghas had a voting system, had democracy. But where was democracy in Hinduism?,” he asked. 

Commenting on writer-MP Shashi Tharoor’s latest book Why I am a Hindu, Kancha criticised the book for not having a single Shudra character in it. “There is not a single Shudra character in it. Tharoor doesn't know India at all or Indian productive life. How can god operate without catching fish, or doing such jobs which normally the lower caste people do,” he queried.

Incidentally, Kancha is the author of a book titled Why I am Not a Hindu.  

He further said, “Even for Communists and liberals, what originated in Europe is their theory, not what originated in India. For all Indian philosophers, it’s like there is no credibility. Then how can a Dalit or an OBC become a philosopher. Eat beef to become a philosopher. Dalit is productivity and philosophy. Even in Kerala, which is not like the rest of the country when it comes to the caste system, there are not many from lower castes. At present, Kerala’s Chief Minister is an Ezhava, an OBC. But he hasn’t projected that whereas Modi has projected his OBC background to become the Prime Minister. Next, a Dalit should become the CM of Kerala,” he said.

He said the BJP is more intelligent in using caste to come to power. “The CPI (M) won’t do it.  Tomorrow, let the CPI (M) say that a person from OBC is their PM candidate; they will get 20% OBC vote. If the Left had used the caste theory, they would have come to power by now. Secularism is a status quo, not a transforming force. Why Rahul Gandhi, unlike earlier, now says that he is a Brahmin; to counter the BJP caste politics. Even in RSS, there is a crisis over caste. They haven’t accepted Modi’s OBC theory. There is a conflict between Baniyas and Brahmins in the BJP,” he said. 

He said, “Within three years of BJP rule, four lakh crores of wealth has gone to the corporates. That is social smuggling. Adani in a short time has become the richest.”

He added that reservations in the private sector should also be debated during the rein of the BJP. “Congress and others will manipulate it in the name of secularism. The reservation in the government has come to a standstill.”

“I have been saying all over the country, it should be Kerala versus Gujarat. Kerala model is the best model, Gujarat is the worst model. But those who built the Kerala model, the communists, didn't project it. The question today is of mutual engagement. Ambedkar and Marxism together can present a universal pattern, which can lead people. Unless there is a universal pattern, it won't be accepted globally. Buddhism is ancient Marxism,” he concluded.

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