Analysis

Naked Social Discrimination in Hinduism

I’m groping for suitable words to condemn the news that the Madurai police have booked the son of a priest for making an 11-year-old Dalit boy carry footwear on his head after the latter passed through a non-Dalit street (Pune Mirror, June 8).

If there’s a religion that treats human beings worse than animals, it’s Hinduism. The social hierarchy in Hinduism is palpably prevalent and the discrimination is still in vogue.

Dalit woman burnt by upper caste neighbours

That this reprehensible mentality persists even in the 21st century, imagine how awful it was in the olden times? No wonder, so many Dalits and untouchables embraced Islam and Christianity just to be treated as human beings and not as animals.

Historian Ramesh Chandra Majumdar of Dacca University wrote that, ‘The history of Bangladeshi Muslims is an account of Hindu upper castes’ ill-treatment of marginalised classes which later converted to Islam to bypass the abject humiliation being heaped upon them’.

Why did Dalits accept Buddhism en masse under Dr B R Ambedkar in 1954 at Nagpur? Why did Dalits in many parts of the country accept Christianity? Most of the converted Christians at Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, Jagdalpur and Bastar in (MP), Jharsuguda, Kyonjhargadh and Balangir in Orissa had Dalit ancestors who were ostracised and pushed to the outskirts of the cities and villages by the upper caste Hindus. Christianity and Islam gave them at least a semblance of respectability as human beings. 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 June 2013 on page no. 11

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