Oppression of “Ashoots” & “Aadvasis” continues after 50 years of Independence
Way forward suggested by late Dr Ambedkar
A booklet by the Dharam Parchar Committee of the SGPC has been republished by The Sikh Missionary Society UK. The title is, “Bharat de pashday vargo! Apnay bhavekh de sabandh vich phir vichaar karo”. (“Disadvantaged communities of India! Reconsider your future”)
While “pashday” also means “backward” or those who have not been able to keep abreast of progress due to own fault or lack of effort, that would not be true. Given the right opportunities and environment, the same people who have migrated to Western countries are doing well in all fields. (Note: For that reason, the debate about Caste legislation to define and entrench “caste” in UK law is misplaced because the true struggle is not in the UK. It is in caste-dominated India.)
Millions do not have the same opportunities in life because the playing field is not even. The whole socio-economic Indian system is weighted in favour of the higher castes. It is for that reason that the egalitarian Sikhi of Guru Nanak Sahib is the path of those who align themselves with the “lowest of the low”. Yet, Guru Gobind Singh promised, “I shall make kings of these gareeb (downtrodden) Sikhs.” The Khalsa provide a level playing field for all and was victorious over the combined forces of oppression led by the bigoted Mughal and the so called “high castes” of the Brahmanic system.
The author of the booklet mentioned above is Nand Kishore. Dr Ambedkar had recommended that the only solution for the downtrodden disadvantaged Indian groups was to change their religion to one which, at least ideologically, did not recognize caste. Otherwise, regardless of religion the whole Indian social system is riddled with caste divisions. Nevertheless, ideological equality sanctioned by religion, does give a foundation for equality, especially when it also sanctions armed defence of human dignity as a last resort.
The miri-piri Sikhi of Guru Nanak, given the final form by Guru Gobind Singh as the Khalsa Panth, is that path for the so called dalits, ashoots and the aadvasis (tribal or “original” Indians). Nand Kishore mentions the great historical achievements of the small Indian Sikh community to date. He visualizes the massive advances which are possible with millions of Indians becoming Sikhs in Indian provinces.
Nand Kishore exposes the hypocrisy of Mahatma Gandhi when he shuddered at the thought of millions of the so called “low caste” Indians converting to “shastardhari” Khalsa prepared to defend their human dignity in the Indian states. He also mentions the hesitation of the great scholar and leader of downtrodden classes, Dr Ambedkar, at a critical juncture in Indian history. Sikh leaders too share the blame for missed opportunities as mentioned by Sirdar Kapur Singh in “Saachi Sakhi”.
Yet, it is never too late. Adoption of Sikhi continues to be an option for millions of disadvantaged Indians .
(“Bharat de pashday vargo!….” by Nand Kishore is available free of charge from the Sikh Missionary Society UK, Southall. Tel: 020 8574 1902.)
Gurmukh Singh OBE