By Madhu Chandra
Socio-cultural religious revolution versus socio-economic educational revolution is what the nation is witnessing now in Uttar Pradesh. Mayawati – the Dalit Chief Minister has brought socio-cultural and religious revolution within her state in last five years. State capital city Lucknow looks like an ancient Buddhist monastery city today. This socio-cultural and religious revolution has moved toward National Capital Region (NCR) as well, where she has inaugurated National Dalit Prena (Inspiration) Sthal (Place) – a park worth of Rs 685 crores (US$ 150 million) on October 14, 2011, marking the 55th Anniversary of Bhim Rao Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism.
With this, two symbolic icons stand on Yamuna river bank right in National Capital Region. Akshardham temple begun building in 2000 and completed in 2005 is a symbolic of Brahmanism – a dominion sect of religious society while National Dalit Prena Sthal a neo symbolic of Dalits – oppressed people, formally known as untouchable. Both iconic symbols lay on same side of Yamuna river bank on east, hardly 5 KM away from each other.
Akshardham temple built during Bharatiya Janta Party regime and National Dalit Prena Sthal during Bahujan Samajwadi Party. Earlier is headed by Brahmin political party while the latter by Dalits.
Akshardham means the eternal, divine abode of the supreme god, the abode of eternal values and virtues of Akshar as defined in the Vedas and Upanishads where divine bhakti, purity and peace forever pervades accordingly Brahminical philosophies. It has become a tourist spot and promotes the socio-cultural religion of Brahmanism.
National Dalit Prena Sthal though inaugurated is yet to open for public. Hopefully it will become another tourist spot soon and millions of unanswered question will be arise by seeing least known iconic statues erected within the park. The statue of Bhim Rao Ambedkar, the architecture of Indian Constitution, a Dalit icon, who fought against untouchability and left Hinduism by embracing Buddhism on October 14, 1956 at Nagpur along with over 50,000 followers from same communities. It was a symbolic exodus from Hinduism to Buddhism to get rid of casteism. Ever since then, the day is observed.
Must also be noted the spot chosen for India’s first Grand Prix Formula One race scheduled on October 30 at Greater Noida. Interestingly, Mayawati named it “Buddha International Circuit.” Wonder why “Buddha” while most of the spots, events and awards are chosen in Aryan names.
The park also has many other statues like Mahatma Jyothi Rao Phule, Kanshi Ram, who brought resurgence of Dalit politic, the mentor of Mayawati and her own. Perhaps, these symbolic statues will tell to the world about caste system, caste taboo and apartheid faced by 250 million Dalits in India.
Dalit-Bahujan activist Kancha Ilaiah debates in book “Post Hindu India” that caste is like a cancer that will kill the religion itself. He predicts that socio-cultural and religious revolution will arise against dominion caste and a neo India will emerge which will be of Post Hindu. The question is, “Will it really happen?” It will be worth to do an analysis on resurgences taking place in Uttar Pradesh.
It took 3000 years for Brahmanism to make whole India into a Hindu land but Mayawati reverted Lucknow into a city that looks like an ancient Buddhist monastery city just in last five years and now with a symbolic setup of National Dalit Prena Sthal at Noida within National Capital Region.. Such reversion might able to do away with the man make system to oppress another human being.
Mayawati faces the challenges between the socio-cultural, religious and political revolution versus socio-economic, educational and development revolution! She has been criticised for investing Rs 685 crores in Noida Park by neglecting socio-economic, educational and health care challenges within her state. She defended that it was just 1% of her government budget.
What should prioritise, whether on Socio-cultural religious changes or socio-economic and educational development, is the question debated in national forums. Kancha Ilaiah defends in NDTV channel that it is important to deal historically. “Historically, India has been Brahmanised through socio-cultural and religious establishment and it should in responded in same manner,” says Kancha Ilaiah.
However, both are important equally. One without another, the emancipation of Dalits and the dream of caste free society will remain next to impossible. I do not agree with those who realise the importance of socio-economic and educational development yet deny the importance of socio-cultural, religious and political resurgence.
Madhu Chandra is a research scholar and social activist based in New Delhi. He works as Regional Secretary of All India Christian Council (www.indianchristians.in) and Spokesperson of North East Support Centre & Helpline (www.nehelpline.net).