NewsIndiaTimes - page 26

News India Times
August 26, 2016
Special Report
– that’s all you need to know
Continued from page 24
in 1794, and used to formulate
the Hindu law by the colonial
government” Dr. Muni
Subramani, an Indian-
American neuroscientist and
clinical neurophysiologist, said.
Subramani, who is a Buddhist
from the Dalit community,
however, admitted that such
violence and atrocities general-
ly do not often take place in
major metropolitan cities.
Within a few years after inde-
pendence, India had earmarked
for Dalits and other disadvan-
taged castes about 23 percent of
government jobs and seats in
public universities to amelio-
rate their condition. The reser-
vations apply today to many
more groups accounting for
about 50 percent of such jobs
and seats. But such measures
have not led to change in mind-
set, or led to a society where all
are viewed as equal.
A telling example of the state
of affairs in India was the case
earlier this year of Rohith
Vemula, a 26-year-old Ph.D.
student from the Dalit commu-
nity at the University of
Hyderabad, who committed
suicide because of persistent
caste discrimination although
he was a brilliant scholar.
Vemula left a suicide note in
which he wrote: “The value of a
man was reduced to his imme-
diate identity and nearest possi-
bility. To a vote. To a number. To
a thing. Never was a man treat-
ed as a mind.”
Subramani said that while
there is no doubt that aggres-
sive campaigns by the likes of
the RSS and VHP about “Hindu
superiority” have fanned anti-
Dalit sentiment, there are more
fundamental reasons for such
traditional bias against Dalits in
the minds of upper caste
“I think over centuries, gen-
erations after generations of
upper caste Hindus have been
taught to look down upon
Dalits as inferior human beings,
whose touch and spoil the lives
of a Brahmin, or an upper caste
person. Thus, it is difficult for
them to treat a Dalit as a nor-
mal, regular person,”
Subramani, who spent several
years in research at University
of Connecticut and Yale, said in
an interview.
“Such bias is deeply
ingrained in their beliefs and
attitudes. It’s in their brain.
From a medial-scientific per-
spective, the problems lie in the
minds and brains of people
who have these anti-Dalit
beliefs inculcated in them by
generations of upper caste
Hindus, and reinforced and
passed on from father-to-son
for centuries. I think both
heredity and social environ-
ment are to be blamed,”
Subramani said.
By a Staff Writer
ne of the reasons why the
Dalits show little or no
interest at all in celebrat-
ing India’s Independence Day,
some observers say, is that there
has hardly been any recognition
of the community’s contribution
to India’s freedom struggle.
But the whether this is
acknowledged or not, the fact
remains that the community took
part in the struggle for independ-
ence as much as any other com-
munity in India did.
“Textbooks on history of India
hardly mention the contribution
of Dalits and they will like you to
believe that every fight, every
battle was fought by the upper
caste Hindus and that the Dalits
were just bystanders. But this is
not case. The reason one does
not find mention about them in
history books is because modern
history have been rewritten in
India, wiping off references to the
lower castes and their contribu-
tions,” said Dr. Muni Subramani,
an Indian-American neuroscien-
tist and clinical neurophysiolo-
He said that during the period
of British rule, India saw the
rebellions by several lower caste
people, mainly the tribes people,
including the Halba rebellion
(1774-79), the Bhil rebellion
(1822–1857) and the Gond rebel-
lion in Adilabad (1860), among
“Maharashtra had Dalit-only
troops that had fought for the
independence. In fact, in every
state of India there were Dalits
and tribes people, or indigenous
people who had fought alongside
Hindus against the British rule,
and although few history books
mention about them, their sto-
ries have survived in oral tradi-
tions and have been documented
in some cases,” Subramani said.
“The only reason people do
not know about them is because
they were never allowed to get
their place in history. So, if today
the Dalits do not want to cele-
brate India’s independence day,
there are many reasons behind
Contribution To
India’s Freedom
Struggle Is
“The only reason
people do not know
about them is
because they were
never allowed
to get their place
in history...”
A Muslim man waves an Indian flag during a march to celebrate India’s Independence Day in Ahmedabad,
India, August 15.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left,
wearing turban, greets school
children after addressing the nation
from the historic Red Fort during
Independence Day celebrations in
Delhi, August 15. Left, participants
share a moment after performing at
a cultural program during India’s
Independence Day celebrations in
Ajmer, Rajasthan, Aug.15.
Below, Indian paramilitary
soldiers march at a parade during
country's Independence Day
celebrations in Agartala, Aug. 15.
India At 70
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