By Dr. Amrik Singh
NEW YORK (TIP): A few months after her speech in University of Kerala accusing Mahatma Gandhi for propagating and rationalizing caste violence, Booker Prizewinning author Arundhati Roy joined in a Panel Discussion at Presidential Ballroom of Columbia University New York on October 12, 2014, the very place where Dr. B. R. Ambedkar rose to be one of the most eminent personalities produced in 250 year history of the institution. Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sikh Foundation USA (BRASF), a non-profit organization hosted the event in its campaign to correctly represent Dr. Ambedkar’s legacy.
To some India may be at the crossroads of a major social crisis, but to radical right wing Hindus, it is a golden period of ascendancy of Varna Ashram Dharma. Based on relationships of graded inequality and ironically considered a synthetic factor in constituting a Vedic Aryan state, the supporters of caste system following Narendra Modi’s coronation arrogate an uninterrupted right on the body and soul of the “Sudra” and the “Untouchables.”
The devious form of overt apartheid and covert racism as the Varna Ashram Dharma is for those at the receiving end, how has it escaped the scrutiny of the global civil society was mainly at the heart of the panel discussion. Dr. Manisha Bangar, a renowned activist of All India Backward and Minorities Communities Employees’ Federation (BAMCEF) and Mulnivasi Sangh, and Dr. Amrik Singh of California State University Sacramento were other panelists. Dr. Harpreet Singh, a research scholar at Harvard University USA moderated the discussion.
Dr. Lewis Baldwin of Vanderbilt University, Tennessee was scheduled to join the panel, but couldn’t due to a tragedy in his family. Dr. Bangar pointed out that a line of Hindu intellectuals is perpetually engaged in creating a homogenous image of Hinduism that only put a cover on unspeakable atrocities and brutalities against the lower sections of society. More zealots among Hindu thinkers dreamed of resurgence of Vedic civilization ; Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dwarka Nath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Dayanand used principles of pollution and purity as constituting factor for valorizing Varna Ashram Dharma or the caste system.
Dr. Amrik Singh dwelled on how the caste system became a strategic meeting point for Hindu intellectuals and the British imperialists whose main goals were to suppress the interests of the backward classes and religious minorities. Dr. Harpreet Singh raised many questions that engaged panelists in a thought provoking debate. In three hour long discussion, the panelists argued that how the collaboration of Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishya constitute the superstructure of the Hindu society that relies on securing unlimited entitlements to the upper castes and denying the same to the “Sudra” and the fringe groups.
The introduction specially written for Dr. Ambedkar’s book, Annihilation of Caste, Roy stated that Gandhi blackmailed Ambedkar for signing Poona Pact and forcibly occupied the space at the center of the politics of representation of the “untouchables.” According to Roy Gandhi was the corporate funded NGO who provided passive workforce to industrialists for maximizing their profits, similarly as he had created an ambulance corps of indentured Indians to serve imperial interests of the British in South Africa.
Gandhi’s writing spread across hundred volumes clearly point to his being a radical right wing Hindu, but the failure of academicians in highlighting Gandhi’s casteridden politics led to his deification as Mahatma in spite of the fact that he was rejected five times after being nominated repeatedly for the Nobel Peace Prize. Among those who attended the event were the Film Director Mira Nair, Bill Holland CEO of Counter Strike TV, Chaya Babu of India Abroad, Nirmal Singh president of Shri Guru Ravidas Sabha New York that supported BRASF in organizing the event.
S. Nirmal Singh attended the event along with his entire team. S. Manjit Singh Uppal, a former president of the Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society Stockton, California. BRASF director S. Bhajan Singh Bhinder, BRASF Organizer Nanak Singh Bhatti, and Ashok Bula of BAMCEF supervised all the arrangements. Students and the faculty members who attended the event were mainly from South Asian studies and Law School of Columbia University, Bernard College, New York University, Hofstra Law School, Cornell University, Rutgers University, University of Pennsylvania, South Asian Studies, Columbia University, Hunter College, University of Manitoba, University of Michigan and Temple University.
M.K. Gandhi was a Corporate Funded NGO: Arundhati Roy
By Dr. Amrik Singh