Sujatha Surepalli: We Can Become the Powerful Majority

The only way in front of us is to recognize the common enemy and unite all forces of anti-caste, anti-class, and pro-democracy voices.

On 15th August, Prime Minister Modi talked about One Nation, One India (One Religion is silent perhaps). This  is against the spirit of the Indian constitution, and it should caution all of us.

India is going through a difficult phase now. We have to look at India after and before the Modi era. We have lost many intellectual, brave personalities like Gauri Lankesh, who not only questioned religion, but also wrote, fought single-handedly, and touched on core issues which are not spoken about in the present day.

Today Hindutva has spread across all sections of society. By gaining political power, Hindutva forces are trying to either co-opt the people who are different or kill them.  Economic onslaught makes people helpless and forces them join hands with local bodies which are completely saffronized. Demonetization and GST killed almost all middle and lower sections of the society by helping the rich. Pulwama and surgical strikes paved the way for political gain. This led to the inhumane decision of occupying Kashmir and abrogating Article 370. The silence of the majority of people is very scary. This is not the original character of India.

We used to feel proud of this country not because of its so-called ‘Unity in Diversity’ but its ‘plurality’, that plurality that we understood and lived, which is enshrined in the constitution. The visionary and the leader of human rights, Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar experimented all his life with theories, concepts of liberty, equality, freedom. For the majority of people, Indians Constitution is the only support that can protect them from dominant Hindu Cultural practices.

Now India is incomplete without talking about caste. The growing atrocities on Dalits are not only confined to rural, uneducated, and poor Dalits. Rohith Vemula’s brutal murder (we will not call it a suicide) in HCU and Perumalla Pranay who was killed for marrying a Vaishya caste girl, proved that educated youth who are well aware of politics can be killed if they touch upon the issue of caste. Dalits are raising their voices for the voiceless and so became the target for State forces. There is a major crisis within social and democratic movements with the arrest of Bhim Army leader Chandra Seker Azad and the arrests of activists, writers, lawyers, and teachers in Bhima Koregaon. We all need to think seriously about this. Dalits and minorities are not only targeted through the cow but also chantings of Jai Shriram. We have witnessed the killings of Ansari, Jarkhand as well in the recent past.

When we talk about Telangana, known as the land of movements and struggles of culture, religious diversity, self-respect movements, after achieving statehood, the repression of people is multi-faceted. People have been arrested just for posting on social media, and third-degree punishment has been slapped on many innocent students and activists. The BJP is slowly capturing the political space, which was an impossible task till recently. In name, all political parties espouse the same principles against, class, caste and gender.

Now the state of Telangana is completely toeing the line set by Modi Sarkar, by encouraging multinational companies, strengthening the  armed forces, and oppressing voices that are different from the norm. One main concern is the privatization of natural resources, opening the gates for Uranium mining, and selling government land on the pretext of generating income. After five years, one full term of TRS failed to fulfill its promises, familial and feudal rule pushing the state into acute poverty. The education sector is being completely ignored, health and employment policies have taken a back seat. Overall, Central and State Governments are following the same strategy: arresting activists, killing innocents, spreading Hindutva.

The only way in front of us is to recognize the common enemy and unite all forces of anti-caste, anti-class, and pro-democracy voices. Every progressive section in this country is under attack. If we all come together, and cease to fight over small ideological issues, we can become the powerful majority section, play the role of opposition parties and protect people from the dangers that are to come. For this, we have to make use all mediums, forums, and reach out to everyone possible. Gauri Lankesh was killed perhaps because she was a lonely voice. If we all raise our voices and stand, no one will be killed in the future.

Sujatha Surepally is an activist and academician. She has actively participated in struggles against caste and gender disparity as well as Adivasis rights, environmental issues, natural resources and Telengana. She hold a Masters in Sociology and has done her Ph.D on Dalit Women’s Empowerment. She has been teaching Sociology for over 13 years.

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