Annihilators of caste and political prisoners and the vexatious momentum that engulfs both.
Early last week, as I fixed myself a warm relatively stronger cup of coffee I sat down to watch a documentary by Ava DuVernay called ‘13th ’ which spoke of the 13th Amendment of the American Constitution. As I watched the film for the first time this year, I couldn’t help but whole-heartedly ally with Angela Davis.
Angela’s bit was shot in an abandoned, decaying railway station in Oakland, California. The angle was low giving her a majestic frame and holding her in a spot of the woman of an era. Rightly so, Angela Yvonne Davis was a revolutionary who played an active role as a prison reformer, a social and human rights activist and an abolitionist. Davis spoke against racism in a time when Black Pride was the talk of the town and was detained numerous times for her involvements in protests that ultimately culminated into a mass parade. Davis found herself in the depths of reforming prison policies when she was wrongly accused for the involvement in a murder and abduction by three men of the Soledad Prison for her simple possession of guns, which was found in the living room wardrobes of almost every American household.
It’s safe to say that she inspired a movement in spite of being labelled as armed and dangerous and acquiring a well-secured place in the FBI’s list of the top 10 wanted fugitives. Watching ‘13th ’ and later watching Shola Lynch’s documentary film ‘Free Angela and Other Political Prisoners’ gave me a sense of forebode that enunciated on the truth that prevailed not only in America and the West, but also in our own country, India. I found relevance owing to the current curious case of Gautam Navlakha and primarily, Anand Teltumbe. 69-year old Teltumbde was accused of having links with extreme-left Maoist rebels and plotting the assassination of PM Narendra Modi with the context of the Bhima Koregaon attacks that took place in 2018.
A simplified version would be summarised as a conflict between the Dalits and the upper caste community of Bhima Koregaon of the Pune district. Govind Gopal Mahar was a Dalit who fished for Sambhaji Maharaj’s body, son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, from the Bhima river to perform the last rites irrespective of the constant disagreeing din that was created by the British Army. The Govind Gopal Mahar Memorial was desecrated on the 1st of January 2018 during a congregation which marked the 200th year of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. It led to a riot between the Mahars and the upper caste of the district which led to the death of 28-year old Rahul Patangale.
Being booked under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities and [Prevention] Act) has proved to be a little easier than anticipated simply because it claims anti-establishment affirmations as inflammatory and derogatory. Journalists and activists have inevitably become scapegoats to what looks like a heist on the general well-being of religion, the economy and well, the people.
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in his undelivered speech, Annihilation of Caste, said “Social reform in India has few friends and many critics.” Ambedkar was to read out his 120 page speech at the Annual Conference of the Jat- Pat- Todak Mandal (Arya Samaj’s anti-caste wing) at Lahore but the event was however, cancelled. Hindus were not very ecstatic with Ambedkar presiding over a paramount conference and was therefore scrapped. What Ambedkar emphasised with renewed vigour and a certain kind of vexation was the fact that political reform is given utmost primacy and precedence when with a clearly failing social system, social reformation was what required unprecedented attention.
Parties of Social Conference (subsidiary wing of the INC) which was a social reform wing and the Congress itself, a political wing, predominantly worked their way in shaping Ambedkar’s mindset. Congress won owing to its large Hindu majority and their animosity for the Dalits and unwillingness to bring about alteration to the already existing social reforms.
Ancient Roman Patricians (aristocrat) and Plebians (common man) was what Ambedkar exemplified his readers with, with the Patricians being our upper classes and Plebians being the lower. In turn, caste victims itself to something known as the imitation theory where the lower strata of society imitates consumption pattern of the upper strata, deep down believing in an improvement curve for their living. The Pathare Prabhus and Sonars of
Maharashtra imitated the Brahmins to be get a whiff of privilege and the Brahmins were not necessarily happy with this infiltration. We see the same today when we give a separate steel plate to our house-helps with they join us once a while for lunch.
Socialism is not about a class looking down on another but it’s about whether the spectator minds it. A revolution for socialism calls for more than just a belief in equality.
Caste system breathes and functions on the division of labour. But it failed to realize that it also facilitated the division of labourers and the compartmentalization of men, women and children born with the same colour of blood flowing through their veins. It hierarchized what was left of socialist principles and gave birth to a stringent segregation of honour and self-respect.
Protesting protestors end up in black and white stripes because of a clear felling of dissented voices which emerge from behind barricades, lathis, tear gas bombs and water canons. It comes as no surprise when headlines shout out in bold about peaceful protestors getting lathi-charged and student unions disintegrated by their opposition.
What do you suppose we call this procedure? Do we call this suppression of the voices of dissent? Or do we call this the scrapping away of an idealistic stupid socialist monologue? That’s where our political inclinations lie.
Along with the growth of rampant poverty in society, there is also an unprecedented growth in the upheaval which is inadvertently caused by the onset of establishing false promises. There’s always been a difference between the have and the have nots which signs the form that says socialism is a failed model in a country like India.
What happened at Bhima Koregaon in 1818 as well as in 2018 was a result of why socialist principles need to be implemented in a capitalist India. But again, privilege has made it easier to brush what’s happening to a migrant labourer as a pity and well, I’m privileged and he’s not and that’s just the way of life.
So do we abandon socialism because it’s failing in a country of 1.38 billion or do abandon this fight for equality because socialism has proved to be a failed model? Equality is not a myth.
It all boils down to a breach of freedom of expression, freedom of speech and the myth of radicalization of men and women who voice out what they stand for in front of thousands. Politics has always been a dirty game, it takes one to know one. And we all are guilty.