“Dalit and International Solidarities” speech was presented at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts at “International Conference on Re-Imaging Religion Caste & social Justice in South Asia” by Dr Laxmi N. Berwa.
“In every country, the intellectual class is the most influential class, if not the governing class. The intellectual class is the class which can foresee, it is the class which can advise and give a lead. In no country does the mass of the people live the life of intelligent thought and action. It is largely imitative and follows the intellectual class. There is no exaggeration in saying that the entire destiny of a country & a group depends upon its intellectual class. If the intellectual class is honest, independent and disinterested, it can be trusted to take the initiative and give a proper lead when a crisis arises. It is true that the intellect by itself is no virtue. It is only a mean and the use if means depends upon the ends which an intellectual person pursues. An intellectual man can be a good man but he may easily be a rogue. Similarly, an intellectual class may be a band of high-souled person, ready to help, ready to emancipate erring humanity or it may easily be a gang of crooks or a body of advocates of a narrow clique from it draws its support.” – Dr B. R. Ambedkar.
In my opinion, the surge of Dalit Diaspora started in mid-1960.
Earliest were in U.K. and Canada which were dominantly Punjabi Dalits from Guru Ravidassi Sect.
Subsequently, in 1970’s these was an upsurge of professional Dalits in America. I came to the USA in June 1971, most of Dalits immigrants to the US were professionals. Doctors, Engineers, and students. Later on the other groups like I.T. groups Academic Group, like students and Maharashtrian Buddhists and from various Dalit groups.
As we get to know each other we started networking i.e. forming Organisations.
Started celebrating Baba Saheb Dr B.R. Ambedkar Birth Anniversaries and his mission, start lobbying on Dalit issues throughout the world especially the violation of Dalits Human rights. Now we have hundreds of Dalits organisations throughout the world. We are working in coordination with Dalits of South Asian background includes Nepali Dalits.
As we are assimilating into the culture of our adopted countries we are starting a coalition with various groups in all major countries on Dalits Human rights issues. A case in point is Anti-caste legislation in the UK but Conservative. Hindus have to derail this in Cameron administration and now working in Prime Minister Theresa May’s government. To do the same, with their heavy lobby presence in the U.K., Conservative Polities.
Here in the U.S., even though US state Department brings an annual report on Human Rights Violations in India which gets one or two days of press attentions after that it ends up in the libraries.
Dalit Diaspora has not yet fully realised its potential to be a spokesperson for Dalits Human Rights. Dalit Diaspora has to work in coordination with other persecuted humanities to achieve our goal of equality, no matter what part of the world we live in.
I am confident that there are many other Human Rights organisations who will be willing to lend their helping hands in the liberation of Dalits from the clutch of Caste Indignation.
Caste is not only a Dalits issue but it has infected every segment of the Indian society. Now it is spreading its fang in the UK. I am not aware in the US but a Nepali Dalit Woman told me that a high caste Nepali will not rent a room to her daughter because she was from Nepali Dalit Community.
We all need to be alert to this menace of caste in US and Canada. Maybe we should form an organisation like “Caste Watch U.S.A.”
Finally, as a reminder, I would like to quote Dr. Ambedkar message to all of us, which now reverberate throughout the word.
“My final words of advice to you are educated, agitate and organise; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side, I do see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is a battle for freedom. It is a battle for reclamation of the human personality. You must abolish your slavery yourselves. Do not depend for its abolition upon God or a superman… Remember that it is not enough that a people are numerically in the majority. They must be always watchful, strong, well-educated and self-respecting to attain and maintain success… We must shape our course and by ourselves.” Dr B. R. Ambedkar.
By – Dr Laxmi N. Berwa from the United States