Head of the Department of Political Science, Ghanaur College, Punjabi University, Patiala
Caste conflict is peculiar to the Indian society since ages. Even after social, cultural, scientific and technological advancements, it remains to be as dominant as in the times before. Rohith Vemula, a dalit student, whose journey from poverty and hardships to that of a doctoral student of a prestigious university, ended being a victim of caste based discrimination. In another Gujrat Una case, some dalits were beaten publically on suspicions of cow slaughter. Issues raised by them in the state wide protest staged in reaction to this incident shows that it’s as rampant as ages before.
Recently, a Dalit girl named Monika narrated her story as a victim of caste discrimination in a seminar organized by University College, Ghanaur near Patiala, Punjab. Monika belongs to the same college. She narrated her journey from working lowely jobs in jatt houses (upper and dominant class in Punjab) to being a college student with hopes of getting admission to university this year. Her story uncovers the discrimination rooted in social, economic, religious and political structure of the Punjabi society. It makes one peep into the Punjabi culture.
Her mother and father have to work hard to make both ends meet. Her father works as agricultural servant and her mother scrapped up cow dung to earn a pittance. Once in her school, everyone was asked about their parents’ profession. When she told that both her father and mother work as a servants for jatt families, some of her classmates started looking down upon her. When all her elder sisters got married, it was her turn to go with her mother to help her in her work. This young school-going girl noticed how her mother had to bear hard core discrimination. She wasn’t allowed to take off from work even for a single day. Ladies of the jatt family called her mother “baardichoodi”, a derogatory remark in feudal language. Her mother was made to realize, time and again, that she is poor and it’s their duty to obey their orders.
One day, a jatt boy tried to make unusual sexual advances towards the young dalit girl. When she told her mother about it, her mother advised her to keep mum otherwise the people of the family would blame her instead.
From class sixth to twelfth she used to cover her study expenses with scholarship money she got every month from the school board. After she passed twelfth class, she asked her parents to continue her study further. They denied. But the denial by her parents couldn’t shake her determination. She started working as a daily wage labourer to collect money for further study. Finally, she got admission in the college and she is in her third year of college today.
She claimed that her college seminars, especially the ones organized by the Political Science Society, have been eye-openers for her. As persons of stature from diverse backgrounds are invited to share their experiences. They share their personal life experiences- stories of their sufferings, of their struggles and above all how they extended their vision to speak for the common cause for the emancipation of whole society. According to them, only this emancipation from our limited vision could bring changes in our lives and in that of many others like us. This has strengthened her will to stand up against all odds and to carry forward her dreams of being a voice for the thousands silenced or unheard.