Meena Kandasamy is the emerging face of Indian literature. She is from Chennai. She is basically a teacher and teaches college students about the nuances of poetry and literature. She is an established poetess now. Besides she is a social activist, writer, blogger, peace activist and a fine human being with a heart that beats. She likes to describe herself as a woman writer who is obsessed with revolutionary Dr.Ambedkar’s message of caste annihilation. Below it we present one of her article published in Boloji.com.
Doing It Everyday – 4
For fifteen days, wherever they can, the Sangh Parivar proposes to capture a public space in the name of Bharat Mata. Once she is adorned and set-up and the crowd starts tickling in, they begin to explain the objective. They plan to speak of the cruelties heaped on the Hindus. In other words, appeal to the religious sentiment. Now, the majority is portrayed as the victim, the oppressed, the poor-pitiable people. Those who came for worship go back home after hearing sad stories, with heavy hearts and heavier themes of vengeance and violation. What was meant to be a pooja, becomes a fest of Muslim, Christian bashing, a clever attempt to cultivate communal misunderstanding and hatred. Over to September:
6th September 2004 : Srikrishna Jayanthi
18th September 2004 : Vinayaka Chaturthi
19th September 2004 : Rishi Panchami
24th September 2004 : Srimad Vedanta Desikar Nakshatram
25th September 2004 : Vamana Jayanthi
27th September 2004 : Anand Vrat
28th September 2004 : Uma Maheshwara Vrat
Apart from these festivals and fasts that have been meticulously dug up (Most people I know, including a few devout Hindus have personally never heard of Rishi Panchami or Vamana Jayanthi at all—the same is the case with the fasts!), the Vijaya Bharatam prescribes the following festivals to be observed between the day of Vinayaka Chaturthi and the day of immersion of the Ganesh idols: they have also given the prescribed mode of celebrations on these days.
18th September 2004 : Samudhaya Marumalarchi Dinam (Social Renaissance Day)
The pictures of leaders like Doctorji and Guruji who worked for Social Renaissance will be unveiled, speeches on life-incidents of such leaders will be given.
19th September 2004 : Hindu Ezhuchi Dinam (Hindu Resurgence Day)
The picture-unveiling function for, and speeches on, Chatrapathi Shivaji who sowed the seed for Hindu resurgence will take place.
20th September 2004 : Samudhaya Samathuva Dinam (Social Equality Day)
Functions to unveil the photographs of leaders like Dr. Ambedkar, Narayana Guru who worked for social equality. Call couples of the Harijan society and honour them. The Nara Narayana Pooja will take place.
21st September 2004 : Annaiyar Dinam (Mothers’ Day)
Bharata Mata Pooja and Thiruvillaku Pooja will be conducted. Competitions like Kola Poti (Rangoli)—in a way in which there will be female participation—will be conducted and prizes will be given.
22nd September 2004 : Siruvar Sirumiyar Dinam (Small Boys-Small Girls Day)
The photograph of Mahakavi Bharathi will be unveiled. Quiz and drawing competitions will be conducted for the small boys and girls and prizes will be distributed.
23rd September 2004 : Ilaignar Dinam (Youth Day)
Swami Vivekanada’s picture will be unveiled. Several competitions will be organized for the youth and prizes shall be distributed.
24th September 2004 : Suya Vazhipadu Dinam (Self-Worship Day)
The public can themselves worship the Vinayaka idols.
25th September 2004 : Ullur Urvalam (Procession within the city)
On this day, Vinayaka idols will be taken in a procession within the city.
26th September 2004: Visarjanam (Final Procession)
The final procession will take place in every area as planned.
This intermediate celebration which is rooted neither in history, nor in religion extends the spectrum of operation of the Parivar. These new days blatantly reveals the sections whom they want to target: Hindus (apparently), Dalits (who are shoddily called Harijans), Mothers (note that the word is mothers and not women: which explains how the stress is on fertility, marriage and child-bearing credentials, rather than womanhood), Children (who are foisted with gender by being differentiated as small boys, small girls), Youth, in that order. While the cultural appropriation is alarming, so are the non-emancipatory tactics adopted and the deliberate choice of icons. Celebrating Guruji and Doctorji and SomeOtherji might be excused as an ardent display of loyalty. But, selecting Shivaji, the Hindu King of Muslim India, for the Hindu Resurgence Day is demonstrative of the intention of celebration. In the name of speeches, there would be attempts to polarize the communities, heap abuse on the Muslim Rule in India, invent new heights for the Hindu valor and manhood and courage and what-not. It would not end there, but extend to the dreams of a flamboyant, lusty Hindu Rashtra.
For the Dalits and other ‘lower’ caste sections of the society, their icons of liberation and emancipation are assimilated by the Sangh Parivar. Buddha has been transformed to a Vishnu avatar, Ambedkar to a Hindu-supporter since he didn’t convert to a ‘foreign religion’, Periyar was named the 64th Nayanmar—public figures become public domain, and there’s no stopping their incorporation into the Sangh Parivar’s list. Not just ending with wooing the oppressed sections through the memory of the leaders, the Hindutva forces have come up with the plan of honoring ‘Harijan couples.’ For what? But in a society that tramples upon Dalit interests at will, such a bogus show will ensure an eyewash. This is exhibitionism, plain and simple.
Or take the case of women. ‘Competitions where there will be female participation,’ writes the Vijaya Bharatam and goes on to cite the example of kolam drawing. What does this achieve apart from reiterating the status of women as good housewives in a patriarchal family?
We shall now proceed to analyze how these individual sections—Dalits and Women—are being targeted for conscription by the Sangh Parivar in Tamil Nadu.
Assimilation and co-option of Dalits through Festivals
Unga thalaivan pirandha naalup poster ottavum
Unga oorvalathula dharma adi vangi katavum
Enga mudhugu neenga erum eni aagavum
Naanga irundha padiye irukanama kaalam pooravum…
To paste posters of your leader’s birthday
To get beat up in your processions
Our backs as the ladders for you to climb
Must we remain as we were for the whole of time?
– Poet Inquilab, Naanga Manushangada (We are Humans)
“The massive nature can be gauged from the fact that over half the number of 5,000 Vinayaka idols installed in Chennai were in the slum areas.”
Urban slums are largely Dalit settlements. That is the case in Chennai. And it is such a Dalit bastion which the Sangh Parivar has stormed into. Note the confession of their agenda. Anandhi, in her study of the communalization process in the slums of Triplicane area in Chennai (where the Hindus often attack Muslims during the Vinayaka Chaturthi procession), writes of how the communal organizations concentrate their efforts in mobilizing Dalit slum dwellers “on the basis of a newly constituted pan-Hindu identity and hatred against the Muslims.” She notes that the indoctrinated Dalits were “later used by the RSS to do graffiti, pasting posters, putting up saffron flags and launching hate campaigns against the Muslims.” Inquilab’s revolutionary words, that are quoted above, echo true here.
Fuller notes of how in the Vinayaka Chaturthi processions, “for the appearance of unity” a token dalit flags off the immersion procession in areas as far flung as Triplicane in Chennai and Ramanathapuram in southern Tamil Nadu. Such token exhibitionism of Dalit participation is a credulous attempt to accord them ‘identity.’ After all, even now the BJP is proud to reiterate that it was a Dalit who laid the foundation stone for the Ram temple at Ayodhya. But despite their every measure, they are all the time, consciously aware of an ‘us’ and ‘them’: the caste-Hinduness and the outcaste-ness. Sample the following excerpt from the VHP:
“The only way as we see now is to win the confidence of Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste people through Sewa and Social Equa1ity Programmes and more and more interaction with them on our own. A feeling of oneness has to be created among them. They must realize that they are part and parcel of Viral [sic] Hindu Samaj and that the whole Hindu society is behind them.”
Oneness is not to be created, what is necessary for the VHP is the “feeling of oneness.” The fake feeling, not a real action. Not an unification, but the sensation of oneness. Ahaa! that and the irony of the concept that “the whole Hindu society is behind them.” In fact, a study of society on any development index will show that Dalits are behind everybody else. That part of the meaning rendered useless, does the VHP seek to declare that the whole Hindu society is behind Dalits, in the sense of chasing after them, wooing them, the etceteras? And, as usual, (mis)using them for achieving hideous agendas. Teltumbde in his study of the Hindutva onslaught on Dalits writes,
“In the last Hindutva experiment in Gujarat, the dalits and tribals were used as the foot soldiers of Hindutva brigade in a large number. Many people lamented this unfortunate development but there have been hardly any attempt to understand the causal linkages behind it. Dalits under the shadow of Hindutva is a symptom; there is no use lamenting symptoms. The cause of this drift can be found as much in the peculiarities of the contending politics vis-à-vis the dalits as in the caste ridden civil society that conditions it. While the Hindutva forces are found to strategically co-opt the dalits, the left has effectively denied them space. It is still wont to conduct ostrich like with Brahmanical chanting of the received wisdoms, while the reality passes them by.”
The left despite being everybody’s favorite whipping horse isn’t the only party that needs to be blamed. The regional Dravidian parties aren’t any better, running their shows with token Dalits, and merely ‘using’ Dalits the way the Hindutva does. (In the Tamil Nadu situation the left is a political player with a vote-bank comparatively smaller than the Dalit parties.) The Dravidian movement has consistently sidelined the Dalits, and projected only non-Brahmin, and family interests. The Poona Pact has the drastic effort that Dalits have to remain puppets in the hands of the major parties in order to get elected even in the reserved constituencies.