Only if Dalits can build bridges among the oppressed classes across castes, then we can expect Dalits to have a future, hoped Dalit activist Anand Teltumbde, while talking to Aksheev Thakur and Aknisree Karthik on the sidelines of Bangalore Literature Festival. Here are the excerpts of that interview.
What is the future of Dalit politics?
After the death of Dr Ambedkar, Dalit politics has lost its coherence. Dalits moved to the then ruling party Congress, while some remained with the Republican Party of India. But Dalit politics is not in sync with the issues faced by the Dalits. Now, it is nothing but chanting Dr Ambedkar’s name and aligning with other leading political parties, while compromising on Dalit interests and ideals.
Activists, especially those in Maharashtra, seem to be scared of fighting for Dalit rights as some of them were arrested by the BJP-led government in that state…
There has not been a real fight for Dalits. Dalit Panthers did not survive at all as it split over “Ambedkarism”. The BJP does not project itself to be anti-Dalit in public, but it has always been against the Dalits. Their actions are a clear proof of this. They have all the resources to fabricate cases and fix people. Such oppression should be fought for a better India.
According to you, are Dalits getting quality education? Has reservation helped Dalits?
All anti-caste reforms, including Dr Ambedkar and Jyothiba Phule’s, have stressed on the need for quality education. Even countries like Ethiopia have a better education system than India. Here people, including the Dalits, believe that it is enough if children are given English education. There are not many Dalits who have made it to premier institutions, like IIT, IIM etc. despite reservations.
Is the BJP trying to appropriate Dr Ambedkar by pitching Dalit vs Dalit?
There is no pitching of Dalit vs Dalit. But appropriation is the brainchild of Congress and the BJP has only used it to climb up the ladder.