I have always been enthralled by the dynamic words of former American First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Intriguing and inspiring, right? But, what if the orthodox shackles of society suppress the audacity to dream? What if the ominous glare of patriarchal mindset harrows the very hope for the future? What if the existing social hierarchies are rekindled to form the basis of our utopian country that is at liberty to dream?
That would certainly be the ideal sought after nation globally. Unfortunately, the principles adorn the constitutional pages impeccably boasting of the legacy of the 74th Independence day but doesn’t have the guts to allow its citizens indiscriminately, unbiasedly and impartially to truly believe in the beauty of their tear-torn dreams.
Yes, Articles 14 to 18 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the Right to Equality to every citizen of India irrespective of caste, creed, religion, sex or place of birth. But is the forced subjugation of the Dalit women to delve into the vicious cycle of manual scavenging a reciprocation of this equity? Do the unheard cries of Dalit children who were burned to death in Faridabad strike the chords of our boisterous democracy? Why are these reverberations of utter psychological shallowness conveniently veiled by the mainstream media under the garb of interviews by celebrities and only the surging COVID-19 numbers in the present scenario?
Let me bring the picture into the limelight. Today’s news isn’t only about the COVID-19 cases and related deaths, rising mortality rates and potential vaccines. The crux of the issue is much deeper than that. It’s also about the humiliation and precarious existence that Dalits are subjected to by sheer dint of their “inherited caste”.
It’s also about the scorn and discrimination young teens of the lower caste communities of our stratified society encounter at every turn of their lives. It’s also about the decades of stereotyped identities tailor-made by the higher castes to sustain the futile and redundant caste hierarchy even in the twenty-first century. Manual scavenging is outlawed, yet it’s a humiliating reality for millions of Dalits.
What young Indians need is an open perspective, devoid of ingrained notions, to perceive the social structure from a neutral outlook, where surnames are not an identity to be gauged and caste is no longer a criterion for assessment. This broad spectrum of ideas must not be vitiated by the conservative agendas and vote-bank politics but prioritised as national goals for their comprehensive exclusion into the mainstream of the Indian society.
After encompassing almost seven and a half decades of independence, it’s highly satirical if this Atma Nirbhar India fails to nullify its deeply entrenched casteist rhetoric to indeed hold up its democratic yarns of the world’s largest democracy. With the pandemic and the new education policy crippling India’s distraught economy, it’s high time to ensure that our peripheral communities are not pushed beyond the periphery to replicate the abyss of its colonial past that it so proudly shuns now because history is greatly dexterous in repeating itself.