125th Birth Anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar Observed in Tripura
EVEN after 69 years of independence, caste and creed discrimination strongly exists in India. Successive rulers were optimistic that this social evil would be eliminated with gradual modernisation, industrialisation and urbanisation etc. But that did not happen because feudalism which has nexus with ruling classes, is very much keen to keep the people divided on caste and creed lines. This evil feature has extended its long hand to our economic sector also, said Brinda Karat, Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M) at a seminar in Agartala on July 12. Brinda Karat was addressing a state level seminar held on the occasion of the 125th birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar at Rabindra Shatabarshiki Bhavan, Agartala. The seminar was organised by Tripura state unit of the Scheduled Caste Coordination Committee, an affiliate organisation of the Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch. The topic of the seminar was “India Today and the Relevance of Dr B R Ambedkar” and it was presided over by Ratan Bhowmik, president of the SC Coordination Committee, and minister in charge of the Scheduled Caste Welfare Department. Apart from Brinda Karat, other speakers in the seminar were Bijan Dhar, state secretary of CPI(M), Sudhan Das, secretary, Scheduled Caste Coordination Committee. Explaining the caste system in India as a social curse on the large section of the people for the benefit of a section of dominant upper caste people, Brinda Karat said, this evil system was used by the vested interests to economically exploit the dalit masses. In some places, it was seen that the surplus value on which the capitalist system stands on, was more aggressively extracted from the dalit workers, who were deprived of 15 to 40 percent wage because they belong to dalit community. In other words, it can be explained as a tool of the vested interests to keep the working force divided as we see at present in the era of neo-liberal economic system. Dr B R Ambedkar was a pioneer who strongly voiced for equal rights and against economic exploitation of the dalit people. Hence, so long as the curse of the caste system exists in Indian society, relevance of Dr B R Ambedkar shall remain alive, Brinda Karat asserted and added that only the communists are sincerely struggling to end this social evil and ensure equality – social, political and economic – for all sections of people. Severely criticising the approach of the BJP and the Congress parties towards Dr B R Ambedkar, Brinda said, the Congress did not do justice to the struggle for the emancipation of dalit people and for social reforms, led by Ambedkar. In the second session of the Constituent Assembly, Brinda informed, the representatives of the landlords and native kings had raised demands for provision of reservations for them in the Constitution. It was supported by the members representing the Congress and Hindu Mahasabha. But it was rejected by the majority opinion. One person, one vote was the main theme of the democratic system. Can every person enjoy this democratic right equally amidst social repression and wide economic unevenness, she asked. Referring to the present drive of the BJP and the RSS to highjack Dr Ambedkar’s legacy, Brinda said, to further their parochial objectives, they are trying to saffronise Ambedkar who, all his life, fought against the regressive social norms of Hinduism. Explaining the all India perspective of dalit movement, Brinda Karat said, we would take lessons from the life and legacy of Dr Ambedkar and advance the social reform movement in the coming days. At the same time, Brinda Karat warned against the so-called dalit champions who are advocating identity politics in the name of serving the dalit cause. They compromise with capitalism which tends to weaken the unity of the entire working class and thus stab the struggle of the dalit masses in the back. CPI(M) state secretary Bijan Dhar in his address said, one cannot witness untouchability and dalit repression in Tripura, Kerala and West Bengal where the democratic movement is stronger. Though it is legally banned, it bitterly exists in many other states. We must try to rally the democratic masses including the upper caste people to uproot this social evil from the country. The BJP government at the centre is out to snatch away the constitutional rights of the dalit people and impose regressive social norms as laid down in Manu Samhita in the society. Brinda Karat also addressed two other conventions, one, a convention of tribal women at Jampaijala and other a state level women’s convention at Rabindra Shatabarshiki Bhavan, Agartala on July 13. In both the conventions, she highly appreciated the performance of the Left Front government and the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District council (TAADC) in the state in uplifting the tribal masses, socially, economically and culturally and protecting women’s rights in the state. In Jampaijala, she exposed the so-called Gujarat model which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is boasting of. In Gujarat, the minorities are not at all safe. There is no programme for tribal welfare in Gujarat. Only 22 percent of the applicants got land-patta under Forest Right Act and most of those patta-lands are being grabbed by the corporate companies. No woman in Gujarat was given land-patta under the FRA. Sex ratio is abnormally low in Gujarat because of rampant female foeticide. The workers have no trade union right in Gujarat. This Gujarat model is practically a corporate model, sbnhBrinda Karat asserted. In Agartala, elaborating the present situation, Brinda Karat said, it is not a fact that Narendra Modi himself is steering the country. The remote control is in the hands of the RSS which does not believe in equal rights – a basic concept of democracy. Explaining the position of the women in the present socio-economic situation, Brinda Karat said, crimes against women are increasing throughout the country. Murder, rape, gang-rape, under-age marriage, dowry deaths, and dowry violence on women, honour-killing, defamatory comments against women made by political party leaders, indecent exhibition of women’s body parts in commercial advertisements etc have posed a danger to the democratic rights of the women. So far as women’s rights are concerned, Brinda Karat said, Tripura is the model in the country in providing equality, independence, social security to the women. Tripura is pursuing an alternative policy of development which is praised by many renowned people of the country. Naturally, Tripura has become an eyesore to the ruling powers. To depict this alternative policy as unsustainable, the BJP began depriving the state of its due, particularly in allocation of funds for MGNREGA scheme. Inspite of many limitations and adversities, movements of Tripura women shall lead and inspire the women’s movement in the whole country, Karat hoped. Central Committee member Rama Das also addressed the Agartala convention.