Ramayana of Valmiki
Ramayana of Valmiki
Ramayana of Valmiki
The Untouchable (Originally published in 'Kirti' (Punjabi) June 1929)
Our country is in a really bad shape; here strangest questions are asked, the foremost concerns the untouchables, who count 6 crores in population of 30 crores.
For instance :-
Would the contact with an untouchable mean defilement of an upper caste?
Would the gods in the temples, not get angry by the entry of untouchables there?
Would the drinking water of a well not get polluted if the untouchables drew their water from the same well?
UK bill links caste to race, India red-faced
Manoj Mitta, TNN, Mar 31, 2010, 04.17am IST
NEW DELHI: In the first such legislative move anywhere in the world, and much to the embarrassment of India's official position, the British House of Lords has passed a law that treats caste as "an aspect of race".
On March 24, the House of Lords passed the Equality Bill empowering the British government to include "caste" within the definition of "race". This threatens India's much-touted success in keeping caste out of the resolution adopted at the 2001 Durban conference on racism. The provision to outlaw caste discrimination in Britain came in the form of an amendment made by the Lords as a result of intensive lobbying by dalit groups, including followers of Ravidass sect who had suffered a violent attack last year in Austria.
The bill will become a law after the House of Commons passes it. The legislation draws its legitimacy from a recommendation made in 2002 by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) that all member states of the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), including India and the UK, should enact domestic legislation declaring that descent-based discrimination encompassed caste and "analogous systems of inherited status".
This development comes at a time when the Manmohan Singh government is already under pressure before the UN Human Rights Council as the draft principles and guidelines issued by it last year on discrimination based on work and descent recognized caste as a factor. The British legislation may provide impetus for the adoption of those draft principles and guidelines.
Though the bill originally contained no reference to caste, the Gordon Brown government agreed to its inclusion even as it commissioned a research on the nature of the problem that is believed to have come into Britain through the Indian diaspora. A parliamentary committee, while recommending last year that caste be considered as a subset of race, cited specific instances of caste discrimination in Britain.
In one such case, a qualified dalit working in the National Health Service suddenly suffered discrimination at the hands of his supervisor soon after the latter discovered his "low caste" status. The dalit employee was reportedly harassed and suspended from work for a whole year. While a trade union managed to obtain compensation for him, the case highlighted a lacuna in the law to deal with caste discrimination. The Gordon Brown government accepted the amendment tabled by Liberal Democrats subject to the outcome of the research ordered by it on caste discrimination. Baroness Thornton, speaking for the government, told the peers, "We have looked for evidence of caste discrimination and we now think that evidence may exist, which is why we have now commissioned the research."
Lord Avebury, who had tabled the amendment, said he believed that the research would "conclusively prove that caste discrimination does occur in the fields covered by the bill". India's opposition to the linking of caste with race began in 1996, when it tried to free itself of "reporting obligation" under CERD, saying that caste, though perpetuated through descent, was "not based on race".
This is a drastic departure from the position originally taken by India in 1965 while proposing the historic amendment to introduce descent in CERD. It had actually cited its experience with caste as an argument for recognizing all forms of descent-based discrimination.
The Satnami Chamars
There is a city named Begampura; Where pain and sorrow find no place; There is no fear of tribute or tax; There is no sin, nor dread or death.
The story of the Satnami rebellion of 1672 starts with Guru Ravidas (?1373 ?1475) who dreamed of and sang about a Utopian city named Begampura, literally a city without sorrow, which had no exploitation or tribute. The movement of the untouchables led by Ravidas did not come to an end on his death. His pupil, Udho Das or Udhav Das, kept the anti caste tradition alive from where it was passed on to, Birbhan (?1543?1658). By this time the followers were known as the Sadhus or the Sadhs. Since belief in one God (whom they called Sat Nam i.e. true name) was one of the fundamental tenet of their faith they were also called Satnamis. The unitarianism or the belief in one God was a central tenent of the followers of Kabir, Nanak and Ravidas and indeed it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between the hymns of these three. The sect's supposed founder Birbhan was an inhabitant of Brijhisar near Narnaul in the east Punjab near Delhi. The commandments of their sects are contained in their scripture called the Pothi (book). This pothi, equivalent in stature to the Guru Granth Sahib of the Sikhs is written in the ordinry Brajbhasa language in Devanagari script and contained hymns of many saints who opposed the caste system, for example Kabir and Nanak.