Tonight with Moeed Pirzada: Modi’s Challenges beyond Kashmir: Are Dalits Hindus?

Are Dalits Hindus? Challenges for Narendra Modi Government extend beyond the muslim insurgency in Kashmir. With elections in UP and Gujarat expected within few weeks angry Dalits constitute a new morning challenge for Naredndra Modi’s hold on power.

Almost 300 million people are categorized as scheduled classes and scheduled tribes.But in this discussion, Anchor, Moeed Pirzada, illustrates with the help of video clips from the historical interviews of Dr. Ambedkar, Dalit’s first prominent leader, and lecture of Arundhati Roy at Columbia University that neither Dalits consider themselves Hindus nor the upper castes – Brahmin & Kashtriya – had considered them part of the Varna system. Dalits existed below and beyond the traditional caste system. It was only with the turn of 20th century, when British had started introducing a new political system in India based on the numerical strength of communities that Hindu leadership decided to bring Dalits forcibly into the fold of Hinduism. Its an interesting discussion with political ramification. Especially when we learn that BJP’s Rath-Yatra of 1990 to support VHP and Sanghparivar was in fact partly a reaction to PM VP Singh implemtnign the Mandal Commission that had recommended 27% quota in educational institutions and government jobs for the scheduled castes (read mostly Dalits). BJP saw this as threat to its base. A campaign against Babri Mosque and soon against Muslims was seen as very helpful to unite all kinds of Hindus under one banner. But the electoral alliance which BJP initiated with the Dalit communities in 1990’s is now fracturing under the pressure of recent events. Congress and AAP of Arvind Kejriwal are trying to capitalize on these fault lines. Modi’s vitriolic agenda against Pakistan is thus not only to divert attention away from the tragedy in Kashmir but also to use ‘politics of fear and hate’ to win elections in UP and Gujrat.