There are two chief objectives of the article “Equality a Delusion” by Mr. Chandrabhan Prasad, in Dalit Diary- regular column in The Pioneer. First, to advise Dalits against the struggle for equality and to tell them to placate themselves with equal opportunity instead and second to keep the communist thoughts out of Dalit minds.
There is a subtle difference between “equality” and “equal opportunity”. For example, In a hindu society a Khatriya may have all the opportunities available to him because he wielded wealth and power but according to sastra dictum he is supposed to pay respect to all brahmins, young or old. To give another more familiar example, between two siblings in a traditional Indian family, with every opportunities shared equally (to maximum possible extent anywhere sharing could be equal is between siblings) the elder is supposed to be respected and looked up. These are the conditions where equal opportunity exists for participating groups or individuals but equality does not..
And this is exactly what, Chandrabhan Prasad advocates. He wants the caste-based hierarchy to linger on, while Dalits demand for equal opportunity- economic, educational and so on. He wants Dalits to be another group among the caste-hindus-just like baniyas, kayasthas and so on- who see nothing wrong in accepting bhramhins, as a superior group as long as they got a fair share in the cake. Now, if you agree to such safeguard is your discretion, but I would take you the fallacy of such proposition soon.
It might be inconspicuous in this article but Chandrabhan Prasad is a die-hard anti-communist. He has even gone on to interpret comrade as kam-read( Kam-a hindi word meaning less and Read-as well read meaning educated.) He has seen Equality as a communist principle even in this article. He talks about the omnipresence of class structure, even within the dalits, and asks a quasi-philosophical, besides the point, question- “how is the class-ridden people going to ask for classless society” ?
According to the Dalit Dairy, Dalits’ aspiration for equality was a delusion and Dalits had become or would soon be “notional vagabonds and “pessimistic”.
What is the notion of equality for Dalits?? Dalits need not step out of their living rooms to articulate it. They can pull out the very first volume of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches and read it aloud for you from Annihilation of Caste. It is summed up in a single paragraph here. I think, this notion of equality is not contradicted in any other volumes of his. This is straightforward acknowledgment of differences and disparities among individuals and reasons for equality as a governing principle, not to obstruct individual development but to provide an equitable incentive for growth.
Do you have any objection to such notion of equality?? One cant. Mr. Prasad’s likening of Dalit’s Equality as that of Russian and East-European countries’ is a deliberate mix-up, to make it ambiguous. Dalit movement is not Communist movement; it has hardly ever aligned with the latter. If Dalit’s notion of Equality is comprehended, there could be only one reason to object to it.
That would be To Retain Dalits Into Hinduism. Hinduism accorded subordinate status to every other castes except Brahmins. It is the sole reason, Dalits seeking equal social status, are leading exodus to more egalitarian religion, Buddhism. This is the equality Dalit movement have been chasing so far, which cannot by itself guarantee “equal opportunity”. So to stop them from doing so, offer “equal opportunity”.
Here is his wonder potion.
Equal opportunity——> Notion of Equality——–>Ideology of Equality
I see this, ‘as a stay in Hinduism, strive for economic upliftment asking for more and more concessions for the ‘Bosses’ and when your kind has a rich poor ratio as that of the Caste-hindus, a notion fo equality will emerge within yourself and the them. Then you all will be equal someday’. Are there other ‘logical social processes’??
Equal opportunity is a policy endeavor, a responsibility of the state which claims itself democratic towards its citizen, to provide every citizen avenues to achieve his/her potential. I wonder, why this cannot be part of (had not it been??) Dalit movement without foregoing the strive for Equality in Society.
And I wish, Mr. Prasad understood the folly.