India's Journey to Becoming a Republic and the Challenges of Caste Discrimination

India's Republic Day and the Ongoing Struggle Against Caste Discrimination
Image- Nepalnews
Image- Nepalnews

New Delhi- On November 26, 1949, our Constituent Assembly enacted the Indian Constitution, and that same day, many of its provisions went into effect. Nevertheless, as January 26 is Republic Day, the entire constitution went into force on that day in 1950. The Indian Declaration of Independence was declared by Congress in 1929. After much sacrifice on the part of our politicians, we became the republic in India.

First, in Plato's foundational work "Republic," the word "republic" was used to refer to a state headed by a philosopher king devoid of a family or property. He dedicated his entire life to serving the state. Another definition of the term may be "republic," which denotes a state in which the people pick its leader. All states, with the exception of monarchs, refer to themselves as republics. Even so, not all republics guarantee human equality, liberty, brotherhood, love, peace, wealth, or acknowledgement.

The excellent book "Why Nations Fail" was written in 2012 by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson. They maintained that a country's policies determine whether it succeeds or fails. Like the USA, UK, Germany, and Italy, a country that has been implementing inclusive economic, political, and social policies will grow into a powerful nation. In his book, they describe the example of Zimbabwe.

Image- Nepalnews
Constitution Month Special: The Common Man's Role Via Telegrams, Letters & Pamphlets in Constitution-Making!

In January 2000, the country where the national lottery was run by the Zimbabwe Banking Corporation (Zimbank), a bank that was partially controlled by the state. All customers who maintained $5,000 or more in Zimbabwean dollars in their accounts as of December 1999 were eligible to enter the drawing. Z$ 100,000 was the lottery prize. But the most unexpected revelation was that it was won by the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, who had controlled the country since 1980 by way or by crook—mostly with an iron fist. He had earned five times the nation's yearly per capita income from the lottery. Zimbank asserted that Mr. Mugabe's name was selected from a pool of thousands of qualified clients, nevertheless. The lottery ticket was simply one more example of the exploitative institutions that exist in Zimbabwe. This may be referred to as corruption, but it was only an illustration of an exclusive system.

Still, India is undoubtedly headed in the right direction. Data shows that since 2014, 25 crore people have been pulled out of multidimensional poverty. PM Narendra Modi just lately that the poor, young people, women, and farmers make up the four largest castes in his opinion. It demonstrates his disbelief in the caste system. The Dalits of India are among the most marginalized and underappreciated groups in Hindu culture due to their caste identification.

Because of the Brahmanic story, Manu was the first legislator to write the Manusmriti for law and order even before the Constitution, but it was not founded on the ideals of equality, liberty, and fraternity. If someone were to attempt to lessen the state of equality in India, they would discover that it does not exist because [Indian] society is split into four grading categories: Brahmin (priests, teachers, and intellectuals), Kshatriya (warriors, kings, administrators), Vaishya (farmers, traders, and intellectuals), Shudras (who assist Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas), and Untouchables (of all four grading categories). Former untouchables (Dalits) were seen as being in the basement level, while Brahmins were on the top floor.

Image- Nepalnews
Rajasthan Police's Proactive Steps to Safeguard Dalit Grooms Riding Horses in Wedding Processions

The popular textbooks portray caste as an ancient Indian system that originated from Hinduism, which is the major religion in the country. Hinduism emphasized the importance of varna, karma, and dharma, as expressed in the Manusmriti. Babasaheb believed that the Manusmriti was a Bible of enslavement for the untouchables but a charter of rights for the higher caste. On December 25, 1927, he demanded that copies of the book be burned in public, claiming that Manusmriti offered a theoretical foundation for discriminating against Dalits.

Babasaheb referred to the Indian constitution as the Dalit people's charter of rights. Because the preamble of the Indian constitution opens with the wonderful words "WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA," which represent equal status to all Indians regardless of their religion, caste, color, or gender identity, Babasaheb dubbed the document the charter of rights for Dalits. The nation's unity, integrity, and respect for human dignity are all guaranteed by its preamble, along with social, economic, and political fairness. India is a SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC And REPUBLIC, according to the constitution.

Image- Nepalnews
Sanitation Workers Shave Heads and Conduct Symbolic Funeral for Delhi CM, Leading to Police Intervention

The Republic stated that the people would vote to elect their ruler, not the wombs. Draupadi Murmu, our esteemed President of India, is a tribal person today. Prior to her, two of our presidents, Kocheril Raman Narayanan (1997–2002) and Ram Nath Kovind (2017–2022), were descended from Dalits. It demonstrates that Dalits have been receiving respect and acknowledgement. The Indian Constitution is what makes all of this possible. In my opinion, the largest barrier to brotherhood in India has been caste. However, "Untouchability" is outlawed under Article 17 of the Constitution, and any attempt to practice it now is illegal and subject to legal penalties. Ambedkar referred to Article 32 as the "soul" of the Constitution since it grants the ability to petition the Supreme Court for protection of basic rights.

Nevertheless, according to the National Crime Record Bureau (2019), there are thirteen Dalit murders, five Dalit house fires, six Dalit kidnappings or abductions, and twenty-one Dalit rapes every week.

Image- Nepalnews
Students at Allahabad University Find 'Healing' through Marginalized History!

In the NCRB Report " Crime in India for 2022" , Uttar Pradesh topped the list of states with crimes against Dalits as the state reported 15,368 crimes against the Scheduled Castes, which accounts for roughly 28% of the crimes committed against the scheduled castes across the country as total 57,428 crimes were committed against Dalits in 2022, all over India higher than 50,744 in 2021 and 50,202 in 2020. While Madhya Pradesh recorded the largest number of crimes against the Scheduled Tribes for three years running: from 2020 to 2022.  At 15,368 cases the state registered more than 40 cases of atrocities against Dalits daily.

Dalits are also incensed over the fact that the judiciary is made up of members of a small number of castes or families, and that all ragpickers and sanitation workers are inevitably from the same caste. Another issue is global economic disparity, which has been rising steadily since 2020, according to an Oxfam study (2024) that revealed that although over five billion people have become poorer, the wealth of the wealthiest individuals has doubled. The report has issued a warning, stating that if present trends continue, the goal of eradicating poverty will remain a pipe dream. India is moving toward being a casteless society, even if it is not yet there.

The Author Dr. Krishan Kumar is a scholar based in Haryana specializing in Dalits and Marginalized Studies, with a focus on social inclusive policies. He is currently engaged in research related to caste issues.

Also Read-

Image- Nepalnews
Constitution Month Special: Architects of the Indian Constitution; Understanding the Roles and Contributions of Key Figures
Image- Nepalnews
[Dalit History Month Special] India's First On-Campus Constitution Park: A Living Monument Commemorating Baba Saheb Ambedkar's Arduous Journey in Drafting the Indian Constitution
Image- Nepalnews
[Dalit History Month Special] Fostering Dalit Consciousness: Dr. BR Ambedkar’s Role in Combating Caste Discrimination

You can also join our WhatsApp group to get premium and selected news of The Mooknayak on WhatsApp. Click here to join the WhatsApp group.

The Mooknayak English - Voice Of The Voiceless