Should we be content with the fact that Dr. Ambedkar has been posthumously awarded the ‘Bharat Ratna’ and that his portrait is hung on the wall of the Parliament? In fact what Dr. Ambedkar desired was the annihilation of Caste, and least his glorification. Has Dr. Ambedkar’s dream fulfilled? The article makes the argument to Re-Imagining The Parliament to annihilate caste via the 1111 campaign.
How long are we going to continue to live with Untouchability? Do the newborn in India have to carry the blot of Untouchability on their identity? In the presence of Untouchability, our great country fails to rise as a single, undivided Nation. Hence, the cries of BHIM, the ‘Bhim Rudan’ are heard in our streets, only if we can lend our ears to listen.
India is fighting against the 3500-year-old caste system. About 3000 Dalit women are raped each year. People practice untouchability but when women are raped, the same practice is discarded. A survey conducted by Navsarjan Trust where more than 98000 respondents across 1569 villages have found that 90.3% villages, Hindu Dalits can’t enter temples. Even the reservations in the political institutions in these villages make Dalits sit on the floor.
Untouchability-Free India by 2047
In 1947, India promised itself the dream. We shall build a Nation on the earth, free of Untouchability to respect the call of almighty mother nature that all living beings are equal. While India became an independent country, the task of Nation building lay ahead. The Indian Constitution with Dr. Ambedkar as the head of the drafting committee articulated this dream in India’s Constitution which promised equality as a fundamental right to all its citizens. Our dream of building an Untouchability-free Nation has turned more than seventy years old. Yet, the wide and deep crack of Untouchability on the face of the largest democracy continues to appear.
In 2020, we decided to promise ourselves a new monument of the Parliament. It is not an ordinary house, nor does it reflect the dream of an individual or the few who possess plenty of gold. Parliament is a house of law and political morality which is owned by every citizen of India. The New house of Parliament, therefore is relevant only if it can fulfill the dream of building an Untouchability-free Nation.
Navsarjan Trust has initiated a campaign. Families from different parts of the Country will contribute a brass article or a utensil. All the brass collected will be melted and minted into a 1111 Milligram diameter coin with the above question engraved and the images of Dr. Ambedkar led Mahad Satyagraha.
1111 stands for:
The Coin will be donated to all the members of the Parliament, to lay the same in the foundation of the new house of Parliament to be constructed of the largest democracy of the world, to remind ourselves of an unfinished promise to abolish Untouchability.
People will also contribute 1 Rupee coin as a contribution for the upcoming Parliament house. After all, the Parliament is the only Political and moral temple of all Indian citizens, which is mandated to protect the rights of all its citizens as enshrined in the India’s Constitution. The Coin and the donation shall be presented to the members of Parliament on 15th August 2022.
This is the program that does not demand any welfare scheme from the Government. There are no rallies, no sit-in programs, no slogans and no call for Bharat Bandh. Neither abuses are showered on anyone. This is the program to strengthen and unify the Nation.
Like the coin of the old woman, India can become a strong unified nation only when it protects the right of every citizen of the country. We appeal to all the people- of different languages, different religions, different regions and from different cultures- to join hands to ensure that India remains 1 country and 1 Nation.
Significance of the coin
A Kingdom announced to construct a Buddha statue in gold. The monks led the campaign of collecting donations. As it was to be a golden statue, everyone donated gold. The artisans designed the mold and poured the melted gold into it. Everyone waited eagerly for the mold to open.
There was grief on everyone’s face to see a crack on the face of Buddha. Was there a mistake in the construction of mold or in pouring the melted gold? Well, the statue was melted once again and poured in the mold but the crack on the face emerged yet again and it repeated for the third time too.
The head priest summoned all the monks with a question: Did anyone of you reject any donation from anyone? The eyes of the youngest monk fell and he fumbled with a shaking voice, ‘an old lady living on the outskirts of our kingdom wanted to donate a tiny copper coin and I thought with all the gold, how will the copper coin match?’
The head priest hurried followed by all the monks to the hut of the old woman and with stretched palm and lowered gaze he humbly said, ‘Mother, without your copper coin, the smile on the face of Lord Buddha will never come’. And with the copper coin in hand, they hurried back.
The coin was melted with all the gold. It was poured in the mold and when it was opened there appeared Buddha with a smile. India gained its identity in the world as the land of Lord Buddha, the teacher who unified and influenced all the religions of the world to an eternal Truth: All Living Beings are created equal by nature.
It is popular Indian cultural tradition to lay a coin in the foundation of every house that we build as a dream that the house will bring peace and prosperity to all who will live in the house. The laying of the coin has a history.
In Memory of Megh Maya
In Gujarat, the tradition dates back to the times of Siddhrajsinh Solanki, the King who dug a mammoth pond to ensure water for his people. The pond was ready but there was a famine for seven years. The legend says that the famine was the result of wrath as the King had laid a lustful eye on a married woman working at the pond and that she killed herself to protect her honor instead of submitting herself to the most powerful man.
The Royal Astrologer found a remedy without naming the cause of the disaster. ‘If only we sacrifice a perfect person with all the 32 qualities embodied, that the water will flow out of the mother earth’.
The search for the perfect person with all 32 qualities of life ended in a young and unmarried man living on the outskirts of the Kingdom, regarded as an Untouchable. His name was Megh Mahya.
Megh Mahya was brought before the King and informed that he had no choice but to sacrifice himself for the good of all. The man demanded promise in return for his sacrifice. ‘Declare my community free of the Untouchability’.
The legend says it was promised and with the blood falling on the mother earth from the slit neck of Megh Mahya, the water-filled the pond. The government of Gujarat has allocated Rs. 3 crores in 2018 for the development of the Megh Mahya memorial. Earlier the money of the MP grant was used to renovate the memorial. The history founds depiction in the famous film, ‘Bhav Ni Bhavai’.
Re-Imagining The Parliament
While this may be considered as a legend, it is a historical fact that in many palatial homes, for their safety, the Dalits were buried in their foundation. This finds a mention in an essay published in ‘Gyanoday’ (1955) written by Mukta Salve who was one of the eight girls who attended the first-ever Dalit-girls-school in 1847 founded by Savitri and Jyotiba Phule.
So, even today in the memory of Megh Mahya, every new house constructed is laid with a coin in the foundation, a symbol of a dream of peace and prosperity for all its dwellers. We need to lay a coin in the foundation of the upcoming Parliament house to ensure that it can truly build India as a democratic Nation, free of Untouchability. With the presence of Untouchability India can not become undivided Nation. We need to recognize the systemic violence and represent this recognition in the temple of Indian Democracy
Bank Details for Indian Donations
|Name of the Bank Account||Navsarjan Trust – General|
|Name of the Bank||Axis Bank Ltd|
|Bank Account number & type of account||Saving Bank Account no. 058010100036193|
|Branch name||Sanand branch [GJ]|
About the Author
Mr Martin Macwan, an eminent Dalit Rights Activist and founder of Navsarjan Trust.
Also Read At:
Why we must annihilate caste to save Indian Democracy | Counterview | April 16, 2021
1111, 1 Country, One Nation: A Call to Action | Hindus for Human Rights | March 24, 2021