Whither Dalit Emancipation
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Whither Dalit Emancipation book
During the first half of the last century, the Dalit movement had many significant accomplishments under the leadership of Dr Ambedkar. The most significant one was its successful transition from the traditional religio-social sphere to the modern political arena, which provided it with far more possibilities than before. One of the earliest outcomes was in terms of the Dalit castes being coalesced and frozen into an administrative category of scheduled castes, snapping their ritualistic cord from the Hindu religion. It provided them the requisite identity to secure tactical gains. They secured many of them during the colonial times: separate electorates which however had to be given up under pressure from Gandhi in exchange for more number of reserved seats, reservations in public employment and educational institutions and the principle that they were an ‘exceptional people’ deserving exceptional provisions from the state as well as the society. These gains could be leveraged to leapfrog towards the strategic goal of annihilation of castes. If these very policies had been imaginatively formulated, putting the onus for having such an exceptional policy squarely on to the larger society on account of its own disability in treating its members equal, it would have motivated the society to overcome its disability so as to do away the need for the policy, and it could have led us towards annihilation of castes. The developments had thus brought the goal well within sight but the opportunity was willfully squandered.