The Pioneer May 11, 2003
How often do Dalit scholars, politicians, social activists, officers, entrepreneurs and NRIs assemble under one roof? To my knowledge, never. The scholars, writers and poets active in Dalit movements tend to believe that, barring them, everybody else is useless, serving their individual greed. Dalit politicians tend to believe Dalit scholars are a hopeless bunch of chest beaters, unknowing of what is happening at the grassroot level. Dalit bureaucrats tend to believe they know everything, and therefore all others must surrender their thinking abilities over to them, if at all something new must happen in the Dalit movement. Dalit entrepreneurs, however small they may be as a group, tend to believe everybody is after their money, and money alone. Dalit social activists tend to believe they are the most authentic flagbearers of the Ambedkarian resolve, but largely ignored. The only point of consensus among the above groups is their stand against Dalit bureaucrats, for everybody is united in hating them. A large part of the Dalit genius, time, and resources is wasted in mutual distrust, mutual leg pulling, and mutual one upmanship against each other. I can hardly recollect one occasion where representative faces from all the above groups sat together under one roof, to deliberate on the crises the community is confronted with today. While all the above streams are passionately Ambedkarite, generally honest, and dedicated to the cause of Dalit emancipation, they are not always very focussed. Dalit scholars often fail to understand the constraints of India's parliamentary democracy, where most Dalit representatives are elected from a majority non-Dalit electorate. Dalit politicians, rooted to their business of politics, are often ignorant of the intellectual discourses taking place in contemporary India. So are the other groups, all living in their own self-constructed worlds of freedom and freedom struggles.
I have come across Dalit politicians with a profound grip on the dynamics of Indian society. I know many Dalit scholars, largely wordless, but extraordinarily great strategists. There are Dalit bureaucrats who could put many a Dalit scholar to shame in terms of their scholarly depth, and there are Dalit professionals who could be described as model Dalit activists. Dr LN Berwa is one such example. And there are a number of Dalit activists who could coin slogans to help lead all streams of Dalit movements. The BSP activists are masters of that. And there are Dalit entrepreneurs who not only fund Dalit movements, but who could also be substituted as ideologues. But there has been hardly any initiative to bring all shades, all streams of the Dalit movement under one roof, where all can mutually enrich all, all mutually believe in all, together unleashing a new Dalit movement.