ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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False Hope

I can appreciate the point your editorial (“Marginalisation, Memory and Monuments”, EPW, 5 November 2011) made about the dalit rejection of the politics of paternalistic benevolence and social reform, and that should be. However, I am not sure whether one can expect support for this cause from a mother who cannot nourish her newborn baby but feeds her infant intoxicants so that she can do wage labour without being disturbed; whether young bonded labour at brick-kilns will appreciate this new constructed Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal?

Before rebuking the bourgeoisie’s culture we should check whether a bourgeois group is emerging within the dalit communities themselves. If this is the case, then it could be argued that the construction of the Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal or similar acts are themselves a part of bourgeois culture. Then we should be wary of falling into the trap of praising these as part of dalit culture. Our energy then has to prepare the weakest dalits so that wellestablished dalits can be prevented from living off them. If we cannot ensure this then, I suspect, the poorest dalits will not be able to improve their conditions. This is not just my imagination, rather history is witness to capitalist movements against feudalism where peasants and slaves participated, but after victory all the fruits were taken away by the bourgeoisie. The construction of Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal are a part of bourgeois culture and we need not fall into that trap. Rather we have to search for things and acts within dalit culture which can make us feel proud.

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