The quest for leading the positive mindset against caste prejudices
Alyque Padamasee Meets Dalit Activists
Ad Guru Alyque Padamsee’s mantra is ‘Positive Only’
A meeting of Dalit Activists from across different states (Annexure) was held at Mr Aleque Padamsee’s Mumbai residence on 20th June, 2015. He has been in search of those victims from amongst the rank of Dalits who became warrior and finally won the battle against injustice and discrimination. And with them and their resources, Aleque want to realize his dream of bringing about a change in the mindset of dominant society building upon the resources of casteism for its sinister motive. In other words, the Aleque was focused on contextualizing his understanding of the subject so as to engage himself with Dalits for a positive change in the society.
The deliberations in the meeting, therefore, revolving around the idea of culturingpositivity in the overall situation, brought forth the experiences of participants. The contours of contradictions enmeshed in day-to-day life of the countryside were duly unfolded:
- Cow-worship is prerogative of caste people, but as long as it is alive. After the death, ‘impurity’ come into being and, therefore, only ‘impure’ people – the Dalits – are commissioned to lift the carcass.
- Dalits build the temples and wells, without inflicting impurity. Once their job is done, the same structures becomes susceptible to impurity by their use.
- Culturally, Dalits are not Hindus. They have their own ways of observing festivals and articulating their beliefs. But state see them as ‘Hindus’.
- Untouchability continues to be a fixture of caste society despite penal provisions against its practice. It is not very rare to find a tea-shop in the countryside using different glasses for Dalit customers, which they themselves have to clean. School is another place of this inhuman practice.
- The education system lacks the vision of building a just and egalitarian society and amuses itself with carrying forward the agenda skill development.
None of these could deter his goal. He was determined to ‘influence’ the so called mainstream society (the notion he vehemently rejects). Here he positioned himself as a man of influence – as one who has christened success and successes. Citing the example of US government, which went to the extent of sending troops in the event of denial of schooling to black children by the state governor, the ad-gurushared his discomfort with the lackadaisical approach of Indian state towards casteism and untouchability.
But, despite all odds, he was hopeful of changing the society – bringing about a change in the mindset of the people, including the victims of caste-based injustices, by building upon the positive resources in the society: There are icons like Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan do not carry any tag of their religious identity, despite the fact of prevalence and influence of communalism.
No amount of legislative efforts, according to the Aleque, can bring about this change. For the change needs the change of hearts. Neither could it be achieved by communication campaigns like those against smoking, drinking etc.
He was critical about archaic institutions like Khap Panchayats in strengthening the casteist mindsets. But, appreciated the bearing of sports, cricket for instance, in bringing about social cohesion. The case of Mumbai riots (1993) was brought in the reckoning.
Aleque Padmasee was essentially particular about his quest for identifying Dalit heroes so as to be able to elevate them to the level national icons. Accordingly, the need of developing database on great achievers among Dalits in the fields of science, technology, sports etc. to realize this thrust was highlighted. Besides, all the participants agreed to develop a pool of success stories through cooperative efforts.
Summing together, the emerging mantra was: ‘Positive Only’.
List of participants
- Alyque Padamsee (Mumbai)
- Chandra Shekhar (Karnataka)
- Pradeep Moore (Maharashtra)
- Kalpana Sanawane (Delhi)
- Santosh Samal (Orissa)
- Arun Khote (Uttar Pradesh)
Report by Arun Khote, PMARC