Two years back, Rohith Vemula set the world on fire. The letter that he left behind after his departure from the world of mortals was read, reread, analyzed, re-analyzed, thought, rethought, and was widely circulated. What Rohith set in motion is the wheel of his own volition: the volition that sought freedom from all manmade identities, freedom from all manmade structures that oppress humanity, freedom from all wants and hunger that eats the vital of living human beings, freedom from all that is ugly and evil. Rohith affected many lives when he was alive, but more in his death. His death is not a death of some man who was frustrated with life, his death was like sounding the death knell of all the oppressive structures.
The caste system and its worst form of oppression, the practice of untouchability, have killed many youths for centuries and it is continuing to kill the innocent youths. The caste system reduces a human being to an atomized entity and if that atomization continues to the extreme end creates the unprecedented loss of life and society. The caste system is not only anti-individual, it is deeply anti-social. The psychological impact of the caste system on the lower classes in the caste system is mutilation of their human-hood and destruction of their human personality. That is why the full reclamation of the humanity in the form of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar liberates them from the forced rape of their person by the inhuman caste system.
The battle for liberation and reclamation of the human personality that began with the great beings who sought to destroy the inhuman structure of the caste evolved into creating great people like Rohith Vemula. The possibilities opened up by the young activists and leaders throughout India is unprecedented. In the history of the world, so many people fired up with so much energy and so much commitment is rare. In my small interaction with youths throughout India, the confidence, the knowledge, and the ability to communicate among the Ambedkarite youths are evident. The way the youths mobilized throughout Indian universities and universities abroad is the guarantee of the future progress and enlightenment.
There is no college, no university, no educational institute, no company, no institution of the government where the people are not asserting their humanity and what belongs to them: their dignity and their self-respect. It is also increasingly evident that these youths are ready to break any regional, linguistic, caste, and gender barriers. The frozen barriers of the castes are thawing to produce the harmonious river of transformation. Once that social power is built by breaking the barriers between the people, the caste system will see its death. The unity and solidarity which comes through the feeling of community and feeling of the sense of belonging to each other in this great stride against the inhuman caste system is the ultimate enemy of the caste system. The caste divides, the community unites.
This is what Rohith taught us, to think beyond and live beyond, the reductionist caste structures, inhuman systems of segregation that try to confine our universal unique existence to serve the interests of a few. In thinking like him, in being like him, we realize that we belong to the universe, and not to any caste, creed, religion, and place.
Long Live The Memory of Rohith Vemula!
Author – Mangesh Dahiwale, Human Rights Activist