'Urgent need for Dalits to change their attitude'

'Urgent need for Dalits to change their attitude'

“Prejudice is omnipresent in India and African-American colonies central to the question of caste and race. There is abuse and exploitation which is not even articulated or archived in history as many say that this is common and there are no records to define these incidents as history. Word of mouth and sense of power reveals the true picture what in India is referred to as untouchability,” said Pandey at a seminar titled Un-archived Histories: Reflections on the struggle against caste and race in India and the US.

Pandey, currently a professor at America’s Emory University, gave the example of Balwant Singh, a Dalit IAS officer, who was demoted in 1964 for retaliating against discrimination in society.

He was asked to shut up and not behave like a  Tehsildar. He described this as a reflection on how Dalits have not been able to come out of their shell and consider themselves equal members of the Indian society.

Nigers in the African-American colonies share a similar belief. “They still refer to each other as blacks and whites. If blacks move one notch above to the status of a middle class member and shift to a better society where whites also reside, the whites move away from that area. This is still prevalent in these colonies,” he said.

Mahesh Rangarajan, director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, added that the story of discrimination will always be a part of any society till people change their attitude and shed “all complexes”.

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