HYDERABAD: In my view the Dalit bahujans of India should say “’Bheem Bhoomi Ki Jai” as a slogan of their nationalism.

As everybody knows Bheem refers to Dr.B.R. Ambedkar and Bhoomi to Land.

It must be understood that till Ambedkar arrived on the national scene the Dalit bahujans ( SC/ST/OBCs) could not get any space in education, employment and governance. It is also a known fact that the land of this country became productive and fruitful because of the physical and mental labour of the Dalit bahujan masses.

The slogan ‘’Bharat Mata Ki Jai’’ does not reflect the aspirations of these masses but threatens to submerge their identity yet again. This is so because the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s slogan “Bharat Mata ki Jai” is not a non-political and value neutral slogan. And carries serious implications for the future of the Dalit bahujan masses. The SC/ST/OBCs, who are shouting this slogan are thinking that it is only targeted against the Muslim population of India. They are totally mistaken. Though they are pretending to control the Muslims of India the real set back with such communal agendas will be to the Dalit bahujans.

The Dalit bahujans did not get any education till the British opened schools in India. The first educated Shudra was Mahatma Phule who got educated in the 1840s that too only up to 7th grade in a Scottish school. The first Shudra woman to learn letters was Savitribai Phule, and she was taught by her husband. In fact, whenever the brahminic forces found Shudras, or “untouchables” reading and writing severe punishments were given to them. In other words till Phule arrived on the scene in the 19th century the Dalit bahujan men and women had no educational rights and the right to own equal amount of property with that of upper castes. That is the reason why Ambedkar asked them to follow Buddha.

During the freedom struggle the Indian National Congress propagated slogans like “Vande Mataram’’ and “Jai Hind”. But the slogan ‘’Bharat Mata Ki Jai’’ was not very popular at that time because the role of the RSS in the anti-British struggle was not at all significant. In fact more Muslims participated in the freedom struggle than members of the RSS. The ‘Vande Mataram’ song of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee also became controversial as the original song had many retributive lines against Muslims. Hence its shortened version got adopted as a prayer song apart from ‘’Jana gana Mana’’ written by Rabindranath Tagore.

The reference to Mataram in Bankim Chandra’s slogan was to Goddess Durga of Bengal region. The Saraswatha Brahmins of Maharashtra did not accept that slogan because they were not worshippers of Durga. Hence they coined their own slogan “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. Subhas Chandra Bose a Kayastha leader from Bengal did not agree with both the slogans hence he coined the slogan ‘Jai Hind’’. This became the main slogan of every Congress leader. Therefore, all the Congress leaders even now give the slogan Jai Hind at the end of their speech. Even the every 15th August Red Fort speech of every Prime Minister ends with the slogan ‘Jai Hind’. Obviously the mood of the RSS/BJP indicates that they will change this slogan now.

There are a number of SC/ST/OBC leaders, who actively participate in anti-Muslim campaigns. Though those who are in the Sangh structure are more active in such campaigns, such forces are there in many political parties, including Congress, and other regional parties. In the recent past several Dalit activists and leaders joined the BJP and are assisting them in several ways to advance the hate campaign. But in my view the Hindutva forces cannot harm the Muslims as much as they can harm the Dalit bahujan masses of India with these agendas. The beef ban campaign of RSS affected the poor Dalits and Tribals more than Muslims.

The Indian Muslims as a community have a global support base. If the Muslims are attacked in a visible manner it will become an international issue. Even then they are being attacked, of course. The Dalit bahujans of India have no global support base. Neither the Modi Government nor leaders like US presidential candidate Donald Trump, even if at all he comes to power, can easily subdue the Muslim community of the world. The Muslims of the world have the experience and strength of fighting mighty forces like the USSR and also USA in many parts of the world. But if the Dalit bahujans lose the present democratic opportunity their status will slip back into medievalism. The Sangh Parivar forces seem to be moving in that direction of undermining and negating the Dalit bahujan progress.

The RSS in its recent conference at Nagpur also took a decision that certain aspects of reservations should be reviewed, along with the decision that every Indian must be forced to give the slogan “ Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. In ancient period similar decisions by the brahminic forces pushed Indian civil society into caste hierarchies. At a time when the reservation policy is helping create a level playing role they want to review it. Prime Minister Modi has denied this now, but it does seem that under current strategy the Bharat Mata Ki Jai slogan will be used as a vote bank consolidator, and a second term in office will result in the removal of reservations.

The politics of slogan deceptivity is not modern, even in the ancient period the brahminic forces formulated their slogans of hegemony and control. For example, for a long time in pre-Buddhist period they gave a slogan ‘Brahmin Hitaya Brahmin Sukhaya’. They explained that slogan as a slogan of knowledge ( as if Brahm =knowledge), advancement of society and also the well being of knowledgeable people. But in practice they saw to it that it empowered the upper castes.

After Gautam Buddha established the Sangha system he gave the slogan ‘’Bahujan Hitaya Bahujan Sukhaya’’. It meant exactly what the Jeremy Bentham’s slogan of ‘greatest happiness of greatest number’ signifies.During King Ashoka several Dalits and Shudras moved into the Buddhist fold because of that welfarist slogan. As Ambedkar rightly assessed in subsequent years Buddhism was driven out of India and that welfare ideology was set aside.

Unfortunately the Indian Muslims scholars and politicians did not study the negative role of Brahminism in postulating theories and slogans to the detriment of the very indigenous masses—SC/ST/OBCs. They only speak for themselves. That is because they too have a tunneled view of history—history of only the Muslim rulers and later.

The major struggle in India is not Hindus Vs Muslims. It is actually the Dalit bahujans versus Brahminic forces. Once this battle settles, within the framework of democracy and the Indian Constitution, full religious rights of even Muslims and Christians could be realized. In the modern period, Ambedkar, like Gautam Buddha in the ancient period, expanded the scope of that struggle. Hence we must say Bheem Bhoomi Ki Jai.

(The writer is a well known scholar, and author of ‘Buffalo Nationalism’ and other books)