“Lost rights are never regained by begging and by appeals to the conscience of the usurpers but by relentless struggle.”
– Dr. BR Ambedkar
The biggest example of a relentless struggle in the contemporary political scenario in India is the anti-CAA/NRC/NPR movement. It’s historic for several reasons. This movement stands tall in history and shall be remembered as the collective and united struggle of the people.
The course of the article is divided into three phases. We shall begin by a critical analysis of the CAA and All India NRC as a project of Hindutva. This will highlight that while being anti- muslim, CAA and NRC is clearly anti-Dalit Bahujan at the same time. If we look at the new law solely through the angle of communalism then the dalit perspective is unjustly adjusted within the binaries of Hindu and Muslim. This will only lead to the Hinduisation of Dalits and will be a blunder because the struggle against CAA–NRIC (National Register of Indian Citizen) is one where Dalit-Bahujans stand distinctively in solidarity with the other marginalized.
The second phase is closely linked to the first one as it highlights the opponents of the struggle against CAA and All India NRC. Lastly, I shall emphasize why as a Dalit women student I am proud of the historical movement that I am a part of.
While the ruling government wants to impose Manusmriti through All India NRC, the methods to curb protest against them are similar to the model of caste system. Any diversion from caste system is dealt violently because the caste system is a system of violence. Following the same pattern , violence is instrumentally being used in highly disproportionate manner to suppress voices against the NRIC.
For centuries, knowledge was the monopoly of the Brahmanical system of education. Dalits and adivasis were kept out of it. Collecting and keeping records were possible only for those who could afford it not only through monetary capital but also social capital. This ‘lack’ has passed on from generations to generation of the marginalized. As a result the very process of identification of citizenship through “documents ” is not only anti- Muslim but also anti-Dalit and anti- poor.
But is such a form of Hindu nationalism even suitable for a country like India with it’s innumerable forms of diversity? Was this what our freedom fighters fought for? One needs to understand that nationalism in the West was starkly different from the nationalism that emerged here as a result of anti-colonial struggle. European nationalism was imperial from it’s inception where expansion of the empire was considered to be a part of nationalism. In the Indian context, Hindu nationalism is clearly running along the imperialist lines.
The western nations expanded by conquering territories but the Hindu nationalists while having the same intentions are using a different technique to expand. Instead of conquering the territory (because they are unable to do so physically) they are trying to conquer the populations. They are aggressively trying to bring back together the Hindus while clearly demarcating the “other” as Muslims. Their idea of Hindu Rashtra is not limited to India alone but also neighbouring countries from where non-Muslim population needs to be brought back.
The argument given by these ‘right -wingers’ that it is the backward and Dalits who are being given citizenship through CAA is flawed. This is because the marginalized knows that once the Hindu-Rashtra is constructed then there would be no Hindu Rashtra but there will be a “ Rashtra of Caste ” based on Manusmriti. Dalits and Adivasis know their place in the so called Hindu-Rashtra and hence reject it.
Today when the government is laying down the projects of Hindutva, one needs to see the entire idea of CAA and NRIC as a fight between Manusmriti and Babasaheb’s Constitution. The two new exclusionary policies are surely affecting the Muslims, North-East, women, trans community and Dalit -Adivasis. But the effect on all of this comes as a result of an attempt by the RSS and BJP to sideline the Constitution and replace it with Manusmriti.
It systematically lays down the structure of the society where the Brahmins, Kshatriyas , Vaishyas, Shudras and the out -casted live in a hierarchical manner. Clearly they place people of religion other than Hindus out of it while keeping the Dalits and women at the lowest rank. CAA and NRIC does the same work in the modern age of the so- called administrative policy making. While the Constitution on the other hand prohibits any discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste or sex. It further gives freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion and protects the interest of minorities. The Constitution of India is a mosaic where all the hitherto marginalized sections by the Manusmriti have been given freedom.
Shlokas of Manusmriti treated non -Aryans, Dalits and women inhumanly. Articles of Constitution give rights to all. Because the fight is to save the Constitution , hence this revolution is being led by those who are marginalized by the Manusmriti. Sangh will be dethroned by the women, muslims and dalits of the country.
As a dalit women student, the anti- CAA /NRIC movement is a ray of hope and liberation as well at different levels. When I see the masses coming out against the imposition of Manusmriti, I feel that the rigid caste system and it’s perpetrators gets to know that people are fighting against the root cause of oppression. The cause of oppression of Dalits is being challenged across the nation today in a united manner. As a woman I am proud to see how the entire movement has become historical since it’s being led by women.
This is movement where Savitri Bai and Fatima are being remembered everyday as an inspiration. For the first time in history of independent India we are witnessing an extremely different Republic Day where Radhika Vemula (Rohith Vemula’s mother ) and Saira Bano (Junaid’s mother) hoisted the national flag.
Women from the university to the community are fearlessly fighting for their as well as the constitutional rights of all. Shaheen Bagh is no more just a place, but has become a synonym for resistance. Since I fought the Delhi University Student Union Elections, I learnt that student politics can show a direction which even parliamentarians have failed to show. Students have led the contemporary movement and lived to what Ambedkar said, “Educate, Agitate, Organise”.
(Damni Kain is a Student Activist from Delhi University)