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Constitution and Caste

DSS organised a conference on the theme of “Constitution and Caste” on the eve of Republic Day i.e., on 26th January 2017 at Visva Brahmana Conference Hall, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. The chief guest wasK. Praveen Kumar, IAS, Principal Secretary, Disaster and Mitigation Department and other dignitaries on the dais were Prof A. SubrahmanyamRetd. Dean and Professor of Law, Acharya Nagarjuna University, Prof Anji Reddy, Lecturer in Political Science, Acharya Nagarjuna University,Jhansi Geddam, National Convener, DSSandGDVPrakash, National Program Manager of DSS.

Prakash, National Program Manager, DSS:As part of the significant daysthis conference has been organized and as per the prevailing situation it is evident that the governance at the centre and in the state, is not going as per the constitution. Caste and religion have taken over the constitution and the rulers are looking through the lens of caste. Therefore, he has asked the guests to speak on what the constitution says, how the prevailing conditions are and what are the ways forward to ensure that the constitution is implemented in the manner it has to be implemented.

Prof. A. Subrahmanyam, Retd. Dean and Professor of Law, Acharya Nagarjuna University:He pointed that in India, Republic Day is celebrated only as an official function in offices,

educational and other institutions, but no one celebrates in their homes with gaiety. He compared to some other countries, like France, where Independence Day and republic day are celebrated by all people with lot of fun, play and gaiety. He asked the audience to ponder over this. He said that in his opinion, people never felt they had real freedom and that since itwas only a transfer of power, people never felt it was real Independence Day for them. That’s why it remained only an official function and not people’s festival.

Praveen Kumar, IAS, Principal Secretary, Disaster and Mitigation Department:

He said DSS has been resolving many issues concerning land, atrocities and domestic violence. He pointed out that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is a humanist and intellectual, but unfortunately, he is being projected as if he is representative of only Scheduled Castes. He is the architect of the Constitution. He said that People should be aware of disinformation and misinformation. He described it as suppressing truth and manufacturing untruth to brain wash.He explained that, for example it is propagated that Ambedkar took a lot of time to draft the constitution, whereas the truth is that he drafted it in two months but the remaining time was for the debates. He also cited another example, concerning reservations.It is propagated that Ambedkar fought for reservations, while the truth is Ambedkar fought for separate electorates for Dalits and not for reservations.Gandhi went on fast against this demand for separate electorates and it was not conceded. In lieu of separate electorates reservations were guaranteed.

Likewise, it should be remembered that Ambedkar fought for women liberation and pressed for Hindu Code Bill. When the traditionalists opposed the Bill, Ambedkar resigned. Ambedkar attempted reforms for women equality in those days, when the concept of women equality was unknown. Those were the days when people would pelt stones at the person who dared to talk on women equality. One should have guts to speak for women equality and Ambedkar had that guts to press for Hindu Code. Similarly, it was Ambedkar who brought legislation for 8 hours working day. All these reforms of Ambedkar show that he was for everyone and not for any section of people.

He pointed out the false propaganda going on nowadays, about reservations. It is propagated that Scheduled Castes are enjoying reservations and are getting enriched, whereas actually, backlog vacancies are pending to be filled up for the past more than 7 years. Those who talk about reservation benefits to the Dalits are the ones who are enjoying the wealth and natural resources of the country, mines, contracts and fortresses in high-tech city. How many Dalits have share in these properties?

He pointed out another fallacy that is in circulation about farmers(‘ryots’). The farmers are extolled as ‘anna data’, meaning the one who feeds the people. But who is actually toiling on the field? It is the dalit men and women that toil on the land and produce grains, but no body calls him ‘anna data’. All benefits from government like, crop loans, subsides, waiver of loans etc. also go only to the dominant caste rich farmers and the toiling Dalits don’t get a pie. Then he pointed out that it is insulting for Dalits to be placed in a list of castes and be called as scheduled castes.He called upon the dalit women gathering to probe into everything, to study Ambedkar and to know the truth for advancing struggles.

Anji Reddy, Lecturer in Political Science, Acharya Nagarjuna University:

He said that it is not possible for developing the scheduled castes and tribes without additional funds. Apart from regular allocations in the general budget, there is need for allocating additional funds exclusively for the amelioration of the Dalits. The allocation should be proportionate to the population. The law in this regard should be strict. He suggested that the budget allocation should be clearly specified in law instead of giving discretionary powers to the government to pass government orders. If it is law it commands more authenticity than a G.O. He felt that there should be sufficient number of dalit representatives to oversee the implementation of the law instead of government officers, since the officers cannot seriously question the government for deviations.

He lamented that as on today there is no powerful people’s movement to check governmental excesses. He cited the recent demonetisation decision of the government, which caused lot of problems to the poorer sections and adversely affected the economy. Despite its negative effects, there was no people’s movement to question it. Everyone is living with fear psychosis. He called upon the dalit women, to unite and organize and struggle for their rights.

Jhansi Geddam, National Convener, DSS:

She said that January 26th is most important day for us but nobody is bothered about this day. We don’t know what we are; what to do to change our lives; what is the reality; and what

is happening now a days; what is the solution; who will do this; who has to bring the change. She quoted Ambedkar’s quotation about the women,“women should know that they are living in vulnerable situation, then only they start thinking about their situation and solution”. Now a daymost of the political parties or governments are run on caste basis. Most of the politician or government representative will do the works on caste basis only. In general people without any political support, there is no chance for them to gain anything.Whereas, all dominant communities become more powerful economically, socially and politically. At the same time, poor peopleare thrown into more vulnerable conditions day by day. In all these circumstances, dalit women should be aware of the society and gain knowledge and spread knowledge to the community, mainly concentrate on youth. In every village, we have lot of problems like belt shops, drinking water, qualitative education, employment, sexual exploitation, pensions, etc. We all need to wage a united battle to resolve all these issues. We all should feel proud that Ambedkar has given all these rights in the constitution, therefore we need to take forward his ideology as soldiers.

The conference was concluded after the vote of thanks by K Vijaya Kumari, district coordinator of Guntur.

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