Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Obama and Mayawati: a Comparison in Contrast

Obama and Mayawati: a Comparison in Contrast
It will be apt to mention in the beginning that a comparison between Obama and Mayawati is not very appropriate because there is a world of difference between their personalities and deeds. But some over enthusiastic followers of Mayawati have started comparing them and are spreading the dictum that "if Obama can do it why cannot she?" They have started projecting her as the future Prime Minister of India. As such it becomes necessary to make an attempt to make a comparison between Obama and Mayawati.
The first point of comparison between Obama and Mayawati is their social background. Obama is an African-American. His father was black and his mother was white. Mayawati's both parents are dalits. But it is pertinent to note that during his electioneering he nowhere used his black identity to influence his voters. Throughout his election campaign he spoke about his policies and plans whereas in the case of Mayawati she has never spoken about her policies and plans. On the other hand her dalit identity is the starting point of her politics for emotional exploitation of dalits.
The second point of comparison between Obama and Mayawati is their ability to mobilize fund for the party. Obama through small contributions raised a party fund to the tune of $650 millions but he deposited it in the party fund account and used it for electioneering. Mayawati also raised her property to the tune of Rs. 520 millions up to 2007 and further added Rs. 600 millions during 2007-08. But she did not deposit this amount in party fund account. Rather she deposited it in her personal and her family member's accounts. There are also allegations of selling MLA's and MP's tickets at election time at competitive rates. It is worth mentioning that CBI has already prepared a charge sheet against her for amassing personal property worth Rs. 300 millions beyond her known sources of income.
The third point of comparison between Obama and Mayawati concerns their policies and plans. As we know Obama fought the election on the plank of " America needs CHANGE " and has won it with this promise. He has promised to take America out of financial crises and reduce unemployment. AS regards Mayawti she has never made any promise to solve any public problem. In fact she does not have any such plan or program to solve the public problems like poverty, unemployment, lack of health infrastructure, drinking water, housing and illiteracy etc.
The fourth point of comparison between Obama and Mayawati is their pursuit of political power. Obama has been elected as the most powerful President of the oldest democracy of the world. Mayawati has also been elected for the fourth time as the Chief Minister of the most populous state (Uttar Pardesh) of India. Obama has promised to use the political power for solving the problems facing the U.S. people whereas Mayawati has been accused of using it for self aggrandizement. Dr. Ambedkar had remarked that political power should be used for social progress. But Mayawati lacks such inclination even in the case of dalits who are her prime constituency. As a result of it the dalits of U.P. continue to be behind the dalits of all other states of India except that of Bihar and Orissa. In spite of her occupying the Chief Ministership for the fourth time U.P. continues to suffer from under industrialization and over all backwardness. As such she can be held responsible for the backwardness of U.P. as well as that of U.P.dalits to a good extent. According to one study U.P. has suffered regression during the last decade. It is noticeable that Mayawati has been in power since 1995 with some breaks in between.
The next point of comparison between Obama and Mayawati can be in respect of psychological impact of their victory on their voters. In case of Obama his victory has exhilarated Blacks, Minorities and Whites also to good extent. In case of Mayawati dalits excluding intellectual section thereof and muscleman and moneyed men of higher castes are only exhilarated because the latter are especially the main beneficiaries of her position. Dalits have only the psychological satisfaction of having a Chief Minister of their own caste. They are totally deprived of all the material gains of power on account of corrupt and inefficient administration being run by Mayawati. Minorities, mainly the Muslims are highly skeptical about Mayawati because in her pursuit of political power she can make alliance with their staunch opponent and a communal party like B.J.P. as she had done thrice in the past.
From a brief comparison between Obama and Mayawati it becomes evident that it is not very appropriate because there is a world of difference between their personalities and deeds. Rather it can be said to be a comparison in contrast. Even then if admirers of Mayawati are so anxious to make a comparison they should look for qualities like a vision, an urge for change, impeccable integrity and inclination to use political power for social progresses as exemplified in Obama. They must display mental honesty and proper courage to criticize her for her personal greed to amass wealth, lack of vision and unprincipled pursuit of power. She may also be dissuaded from wasting public money in creating memorials and installing her own statues in an effort to immortalize her. People are immortalized by their noble deeds and not by their statues. Dr. Ambedkar is the shining example of it. Actually dalits need a leader like Ambedkar but Mayawati comes no where near him.
Obama is to be judged in the near future but Mayawati has already been judged.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Untouchability in rural Punjab
Despite having the largest proportion of scheduled caste population in India, Punjab has rarely been seen as a relevant case for conceptualisation of the caste system and the changes taking place therein. Though some aspects of caste in Punjab have been studied, there has virtually been no detailed empirical documentation of the practice of untouchability in rural Punjab. Based on an extensive field-study, this paper provides a broad mapping of the prevailing caste relations and the practice of untouchability in rural Punjab. The study focuses specifically on the process of change, particularly in the context of agrarian transformations that the Punjab countryside has experienced in the wake of the success of green revolution technology. The paper also argues that the processes of change could be meaningfully captured through the categories of ‘dissociation’, ‘distancing’ and ‘autonomy’.

Surinder S Jodhka
Along with ‘village communities’ and ‘joint family’, ‘caste’ has often been viewed as a defining feature of ‘traditional social order’ of India. Though it was only in the Hindu religious philosophy that the practice of caste was formally justified, social relations, as the popular sociological understanding of Indian society goes, were organised hierarchically almost everywhere in the subcontinent.1 The Christians, the Muslims and the Sikhs all practised caste even when their religions decried it.2 This was believed to be the case particularly in rural India where caste differentiation was seen to be required for the working of the agrarian economy3 and for the social integration of the village community.4 Even conversions of ex-untouchables to another faith did not make any difference to the material relations of production or the social structure of jajmani system.
Caste and untouchability have also been much-studied subjects in the Indian social sciences. Social anthropologists and sociologists have in particular been preoccupied with understanding its various aspects and theorising its origin/essence. However, though caste has remained a popular subject, the paradigm within which it is studied has undergone many significant changes over the years. Against the social anthropological common sense that saw it as a feature of the traditional social structure of India and expected it to decline with progress of the modernisation process, more recent studies of caste look at it as a dynamic force, which, though weakened over the last five decades of developmental experience in certain respects, has grown stronger in some others. Caste has, in some crucial senses seen a ‘revival’.5 Though not everyone agrees on the possible social and political implications of its revival, caste, and the issues related to it are certainly recognised as persistent and important today by almost everyone. The forms of its manifestation have indeed changed. Today caste is talked more in terms of politics and lesser as an aspect of social and cultural life of the Indian people.
Perhaps the two most important things that have happened over the last century are (a) a legal de-recognition of the practice and (b) a near complete change in the consciousness of those at the receiving end of the hierarchical system. Dalits have almost everywhere become much more assertive about their human and political rights [Mendelsohn and Vicziany 1998:1]. Whatever might have been the case in the past, there would be very few among the ex-untouchables today who would regard themselves as impure or justify their low status on grounds of their misconduct in some previous life, a ‘fact of nature’ [Charsley and Karanth 1998]. Today they ‘all aspire to more comfortable material circumstances; all demand more dignity’ [Deliege 1999:1999]. This however has not necessarily resulted in an alleviation of their social conditions. Some scholars have argued that while ideologically caste has considerably weakened and the older forms of untouchability are receding, atrocities committed on dalits by the local dominant castes have in fact increased [Beteille 2000a; Shah 2001].
Caste and the Regional Context
The dominant trend in much of the literature on caste has been to look at it in unitary terms, a system present everywhere in India and, more or less, in similar forms. Not much attention has been paid to the historical specificities and material conditions of the different regional contexts. The mainstream theories of caste, for example, have almost unanimously worked with a varna model of hierarchy, which places brahmins at the top and untouchables at the bottom.6
However, a considerable amount of regional variations exists in the manner in which social relations among different groups of castes have historically evolved. As is widely known, there are different sets of caste groups in different regions and ‘the preoccupation with purity and pollution was not equally marked in every part of the country’ [Beteille 2000b:172]. The specific historical trajectory, the patterns of politico-economic changes experienced during the post-independence period and the composition of different ethnic communities determine the actual working of caste relations in a given region.
Even if regional variations were recognised, not every region/sub-region has been empirically studied in similar details. Much of the literature on caste and untouchability has, for example, come from western and southern India or in the north, from the Uttar Pradesh. On the other end, despite it having the largest proportion of scheduled caste population in the Indian federation, Punjab has not been very widely studied for understanding caste. While we have some literature available on the nature of changes experienced in caste relations in Punjab over the last four or five decades, or on the dalit social movements,7 the Punjab experience has so far not been seen to be of any relevance for conceptualisation of the caste system and changes taking place therein. There has virtually been no detailed empirical documentation of the practice of untouchability in rural Punjab.
Based on an extensive field-study of 51 villages selected from the three sub-regions of Punjab and interviews with 683 individual respondents, this paper provides a broad mapping of the prevailing caste relations and the practice of untouchability in rural Punjab.8 Given that the field-study was completed in 2001, its focus is more on the current state of affairs, namely, the process of change, particularly in the context of agrarian transformations that the Punjab countryside has experienced in the wake of the success of green revolution technology.
Caste in Punjab: A Historical Overview9
Though anthropologists have never viewed Punjab as a useful ‘representative case’ for understanding the ‘essence’ of caste, the caste question in Punjab has some very interesting features.
As mentioned above, of all Indian states, Punjab has the highest proportion of scheduled caste population. The proportion of scheduled castes in the total population of the state was 28.3 per cent in 1991, much higher than the all-India average of around 16 per cent.10 Given that the scheduled caste population is growing at a rate higher than the rest, their population is likely to have touched the 30 per cent mark by now (the 2001 Census figures on the subject are not yet available). Being relatively less urbanised than the other caste groups, their proportions are obviously higher in the rural areas of the state. There would be many villages in Punjab where the population of scheduled castes would exceed 50 per cent.
The scheduled castes of Punjab are made-up of 37 different communities. However, a large majority of them belong to two castes, traditionally known as ‘chamars’ and ‘chuhras’. Though they are currently registered under diverse names (such as Ad Dharmis and Ramdasis in case of chamars and mazhabis, balmikis in case of chuhras), together they make up for around three-fourths of the entire dalit population of the state. The smaller groups among them have been relatively less mobilised and more disadvantaged. It was with the intention of targeting development schemes for such groups that the Punjab government has recently identified 13 communities as ‘depressed scheduled castes’. Together they account for only 11 per cent of the total scheduled caste population. Among these 13 castes, seven are the ‘de-notified tribes’ or the ‘vimukat jatis’. Since they followed a nomadic way of life, the colonial administration had branded them as ‘vagrant and criminal tribes’. After independence, they were initially called ‘ex-criminal tribes’ but later they were designated as the ‘de-notified tribes’ [Jodhka 2000; Kumar and Kumar 1996].
Punjab is also one of the few states of India where the Hindus, who constitute more than 80 per cent of India’s total population, are in a minority. As per the 1991 Census, Hindus constituted only around 35 per cent of the total population of Punjab. The Sikhs were around 63 per cent and the rest were Muslims and Christians. Another important aspect of the demographic composition of religious communities in the Punjab is their uneven rural-urban distribution. Despite being in a minority at the state level, the Hindus overwhelmingly dominate urban Punjab while the Sikhs are concentrated more in rural areas, where in some districts they make up to nearly 90 per cent of the total rural population.
More interestingly, despite being non-Hindus, the ‘low caste’ Sikhs have the distinction of being included in the list of the scheduled castes, a status that was not granted to their counterparts in other minority communities, namely, the Muslims and Christians. Even neo-Buddhist converts had been included in the list only from 1991. In his classic study of untouchability, I P Desai had pointed out that dalit conversions to Islam or Christianity did not make any difference to their status at the local level because the dominant upper-caste Hindus continued to treat them as before [Desai 1976]. In the case of Punjab, however, not only a section of dalits follow Sikhism but a large majority of the dominant groups in the village are also Sikhs for whom the practice of caste has no religious justification.
Not only does Sikhism not legitimise the practice of untouchability, its proponents claim that one of its fundamental missions has been to build a caste free society. However, the Sikh movement’s opposition to the prevailing brahmanical world-view was primarily ideological. The material base of caste system, the prevailing structures of agrarian relations in a rural society where caste divisions had become important functional prerequisites for the working of the agrarian economy, remained relatively unaltered.
Socially and economically also Punjab has been a dynamic region. The success of green revolution technology during the 1960s and 1970s made it economically the most advanced state of the Indian union. The region has also been witness to many social movements, including some against untouchability. Beginning with the Sikh gurus who preached against the practice of caste, the state has witnessed several reformist and radical mobilisations. Apart from the reformist movements of the Hindus and the Sikhs during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, colonial Punjab also saw some autonomous mobilisations by dalits. The famous ‘Ad Dharam’ movement initiated by Mangoo Ram during the 1920s successfully mobilised a large majority of chamars of the Doaba region and played an important role in transforming their social status and identity [Juergensmeyer 1988].
Available literature on the subject also tends to suggest a somewhat lesser hold of caste on the social relationships of the region. Perhaps the most important feature of caste in Punjab is the considerably weak position of brahmins and a near complete lack of brhmanical literary tradition in Punjab. The traditional education in Punjab was imparted mostly by Muslim mullahs in the mosques or by Sikh ‘granthis’ in the gurudwaras [Tandon 1966]. The leading religious traditions of the region have been Islam and Sikhism.11 Historically the problem of untouchability has consequently been less severe here. This is also reflected in some of the available literature on the region.
Reporting on the problems of ‘low castes’ in the province, one of the colonial administrators viewed it more in terms of politico-economic disabilities rather than in terms of their being ‘untouchables’, as was the case with the rest of India. A colonial government report of the 1920s observed:
It would be misleading to attach too great importance to the existence of caste in the Punjab…Not only is it the case that the brahmin has no practical pre-eminence among Hindus, but as between ‘caste’ and ‘non-caste’ Hindus the distinction is not so strongly marked as to create the political problem found elsewhere in India.12
Some of the western observers went to the extent of saying that the Punjab was a ‘notable exception’ to the caste system in India [O’Malley in Nayar 1966:20].
Some anthropologists have also made similar claims and have argued that caste inequalities in the region were much lesser than elsewhere in India [Saberwal 1976; Pettigrew 1975]. However, the elements of purity and impurity have not been found to be completely missing in rural Punjab [Hershman 1981; H Singh 1977].
Some studies have also pointed to the important changes experienced in attitudes towards caste during the last century with the rise of the Sikh identity movement. The insistence of Sikh reformers on distancing the ‘community’ from Hinduism also meant a formal de-recognition and campaign against caste by the new Sikh institutions, such as the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC). These mobilisations also had some impact at the ground level where, for example, legal recognition to weddings through Sikh rituals (Anand Karaj), made the village brahmin priest redundant. Unlike the brahmins, Sikh priests could be from any caste [I P Singh 1975].
Although untouchability has apparently been less of a problem in Punjab, the scheduled caste population of the region has been comparatively more vulnerable in the economic structure of the village. Their ownership of agricultural land is among the lowest in the country.13
Untouchability in Rural Punjab
Perhaps the most important fact about caste has been its emphasis on social segregation and ritual purity/pollution. There were minute rules with regard to what sorts of food or drink could be accepted by a person and from what castes. Segregation of individual castes or groups of castes in the village was the most obvious mark of civic privileges and disabilities. There were also restrictions on the kind of work an individual could do. Each caste was expected to consider a particular occupation as its legitimate calling. The prevailing ideology of caste discouraged individual choice of occupation, even employing coercion, if required, as a means to keep the system of occupational hierarchy going.
Though some may argue that ‘untouchability was still thoroughly alive today’ [Diliege 1999:3], over the last century or so the system of caste hierarchy, its forms and manifestations, have indeed undergone considerable change. In his classic study on the subject in the 1970s in Gujarat, I P Desai had observed that with the process of modernisation and development even in rural areas a new ‘public sphere’ of social interaction had emerged where the practice of untouchability was quite low. The norm of caste and untouchability had begun to be violated in the economic or occupational sphere as well. This included seating arrangements in schools, travelling in buses and the postal services. However, when it came to traditional relations that included the domestic and religious life of the people, untouchability was highly practised [Desai 1976].
Nearly 25 years later, when Ghanshyam Shah visited the villages of Gujarat again with a similar set of questions, he found that with the exception of admission of ‘untouchables’ into temples and houses of the upper castes as well as access to barbers’ services, the practice had significantly declined in most areas of everyday life. However, it was only in the ‘public sphere’ that untouchability had considerably declined. It continued to be practised, albeit with lesser intensity, in other spheres of life. These included access to a common source of water (20 per cent), entry to shops (20 per cent), working together with upper caste workers on the farm (25 per cent) and seating arrangements in the panchayats (26 per cent) [Shah 2000].
Extending the classification used by Desai and Shah, the field data being presented here is divided into three sub-categories. The first section presents case studies and perceptions relating to the practice of untouchability/discrimination in, what can loosely be called, the ‘private sphere’ and the sphere of those relations that were traditionally governed by the framework of ‘jajmani’ relations. The second section focuses on untouchability in everyday social and economic life in rural Punjab. These include those spheres of relations that were not necessarily governed by the caste system but were influenced by the values of untouchability. The third category relates to modern institutions, which have traditionally not been part of the rural life and are, at least in principle, ‘caste-free’.
Social Ecology of the Village
As per the traditional norms governing life in rural Punjab, dalit settlements were to be located on the side where the sun sets (‘lahindey passe’, as it is called in Punjabi). This norm has perhaps never been very strictly followed here. There were several villages where dalit houses have traditionally not been located on the west. However, in a majority of the villages, dalit houses were indeed constructed on the outskirts of the main village settlement.
More important are perhaps the changes experienced in the housing patterns over the last two or three decades. The growing population and a continual expansion of residential areas have, to some extent, diluted the old settlement structure of the village. As the newly prosperous upper castes make newer and bigger houses on the peripheries of the village, dalit settlements do not remain as isolated as before. In fact, all categories of villagers have constructed new houses on the peripheries.
There were also some interesting cases where upwardly mobile dalits had purchased houses in upper caste localities from those who had left the village for towns or had immigrated to the west. This has happened particularly in the Doaba region. Of the 51 villages studied as many as four villages had some manner of ‘mixed housing’ (three in Doaba and one in Malwa region). Interestingly, there was little resistance from the neighbouring upper caste residents to dalits buying houses in their localities.
Providing housing to the dalits has been an important component of developmental schemes meant for the upliftment of dalits. A good number of villages in Punjab have such schemes working, under which residential quarters were built for dalits. These schemes are obviously welcomed by dalits simply for the reason that many of them find it very difficult to build houses on their own. However, most of these housing schemes are located at a distance from the village. Since the houses under this scheme are allotted exclusively to dalits, it reinforced their segregation from the main village. Being located at a distance from the village, these settlements also lacked in certain amenities that were accessible to those living within the village. Some did not even have working electricity connections. Or, in some cases where such amenities had been provided, the back-up service was quite unsatisfactory.
The housing structure directly influenced the daily life of different communities in the village. Segregated settlements imposed restrictions on social interactions. For example, in such villages dalit and upper caste children played separately. However, it was not so everywhere. As per our overall assessment, of the 51 villages studied, such restrictions were ‘strictly’ observed in 15 villages. In another eight villages such restrictions were observed to ‘a lesser degree’. In rest of the villages, dalit and upper caste children often played together.
Unclean Occupations
Involvement of dalits with ‘unclean occupations’ has often been viewed as the primary reason for the practice of untouchability. Dealing with dead cattle, scavenging and other occupations that were considered polluting in the Hindu culture were left to be done by the dalits. Though not all dalits would have ever been employed in the ‘callings’ of their castes, every caste group was identified with a specific ‘polluting occupation’. Many radical changes have taken place with regard to the involvement of dalits with such occupations.
First of all, large majorities of dalits have consciously dissociated themselves from their traditional occupations. Only a small number of them (from less than 5 to a maximum of 10 per cent) would still be involved in such occupations. There are also castewise variations. The chamars (including Ad Dharmis and Ramdasis) have almost completely moved away from their traditional occupation of dealing with dead cattle. They have even begun to distance themselves from agriculture and seek such employment that would not involve any relation with the locally dominant caste.
Who then does the work that was traditionally done by the dalits, viz, scavenging or picking-up the dead cattle?
Interestingly, some of these occupations are no longer identified with any specific caste group in rural Punjab. For example, picking up of dead cattle has become a completely commercialised enterprise. The village panchayat generally gives the work on contract to an individual contractor, who could even be from another villages or a nearby town. They would typically employ a few workers (not necessarily local dalits) who work on the dead cattle in the village carcass. Birds and dogs eat up much of the meat. The skin and the bones have a lucrative market. Most of those involved in this ‘business’ are quite well off and are often seen with envy even by the upper castes.
There has also been some degree of commercialisation of other dalit or ‘jajmani’ occupations. Barbers, carpenters, blacksmiths, all now have shops. Along with commercialisation, a process of ‘dissociation of caste and occupation’ is also underway. There are many among dalits who work as barbers. They, however, do not work the way barbers use to in the traditional structure of jajmani relations. Most of them have set-up small outlets, often near the village bus stop. Some dalits have also taken-up the job of carpenters, particularly in villages where the traditional carpenters have left for the towns.
The only ‘unclean occupations’ where a degree of continuity exists is that of scavenging. Though a large majority of those involved with scavenging work are the balmikis and mazhabis (earlier known as chuhras), the castes with which it was traditionally identified, only a few families from these castes actually worked as scavengers.
Even in scavenging, the traditional structure of jajmani relations has almost completely changed. The cleaning of drains and toilets or sweeping of the houses is mostly done on commercial basis. In most villages a scavenger is employed for an individual street. Each household in the street pays a fixed sum to the scavenger on a monthly basis (the current going rate was Rs 10 per household). Interestingly, in some cases, rather than in their own village the scavengers preferred working in the neighbouring village. This was obviously done to avoid any element of familiarity and patronage of the traditional variety being invoked by the households they served.
A large majority of dalits in Punjab have traditionally been employed in agriculture, mostly as labourers. Some of them also worked on a long-term basis with the landowning jats. Though the traditional variety of attached labour, such as ‘sajhis’ and ‘siris’ have given way to more formalised relations, working on long-term basis with farmers still leads to relations of dependency and unfreedom. dalits obviously did not like getting into such arrangements. In the Doaba region where dalit mobility has been more pronounced than elsewhere in the state, very few of them worked as attached labourers. Of the 13 villages studied from Doaba, none of the dalits worked as attached labourer in as many as eight villages. However, Malwa still had many who were working as attached labourers. Of the 26 villages studied, 21 had dalits working as attached labourers (ranging from 5 to 50 in each village).
However, on the whole the process of occupational diversification was quite pronounced everywhere. Wherever they could afford to do so, dalits had stopped working regularly on land under the dominant caste farmers. In the villages of Doaba, for example, we were frequently told that much of the labour work is done by migrants and that the local dalits did not want to work on land. They only performed seasonal labour and rest of the year preferred going to work in the town or bringing work home. The most popular work that dalits of Doaba did while living in the village was rope-making. These ropes were woven for the urban markets and were sold through a middleman who also supplied them with the raw materials required for the ropes.
Entry into Upper Castes Houses
As mentioned above restrictions on dalit’s entry into the upper caste houses has been one of the most strictly observed practices in most parts of rural India. Such restrictions are hardly in existence in rural Punjab today. Only 4 per cent of the dalit respondents and 1 per cent of the upper caste respondents felt that untouchability was observed with regard to dalits entering into houses of the upper castes. As shown in Table 1 a large majority of respondents across caste groups felt that such restrictions were not practised any longer. Table 1: Perceptions on Dalits’ Entry into the Houses of Upper Castes
Categories Untouchability not practised Practised Not Overtly Total

Schedule castes 426 (87.5) 4 (0.8) 57 (11.7) 487 (100)
Backward castes 91 (96.8) 2 (2.1) 1 (1.0) 94 (100)
Upper castes 98 (96.2) 1 (1.0) 3 (2.9) 102 (100)
Total 615 (90.04) 7 (1.02) 58 (8.49) 683 (100)

Apart from some other factors or processes, this has happened because of the significant changes experienced in the life-style of rich farmers of Punjab during the last three decades. Green revolution brought prosperity and provided them with extra income. Though most of the rich farmers of Punjab continue to live in the village, they have all the modern amenities of urban living available in their homes. Their children go to study in the towns and women desire the luxuries of urban living. Many of these households have begun to employ dalit women to help with the domestic chores. At least 10 to 12 dalit women in almost every village of Punjab were regularly employed for domestic help.
They do various kinds of domestic work such as sweeping and swabbing, washing of clothes, and in some cases, even washing the kitchen utensils. As is the case with such employment in towns, dalit women would work in a couple of houses and are typically paid a fixed sum by each household, ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 300 per month, along with some occasional ‘gifts’.
Though the upper caste farmers or their women no longer minded dalit women entering their houses or even the kitchen, only some dalit women are considered fit for such jobs. For example, those who work in the cattle-shed would rarely be considered ‘suitable’ for domestic chores. Only those who keep themselves ‘clean’ are employed for the domestic work. Similarly, in some households, while they were asked to sweep and swab the house and clean the toilets, the upper caste women did not let them enter the kitchen. There were also a few cases where the utensils for serving food to them were kept apart from the utensils used for the upper caste family.
Untouchability and Drinking Water Sources
The source of drinking water has been another area where the upper castes used to be very touchy. Traditionally dalits and upper castes had different sources of drinking water. While all the upper castes (including the backward castes) could take water from the village wells, dalits could never do so. They had to depend exclusively on their own wells.
Much has changed with regard to the access to drinking water. Wells are no longer the primary source of drinking water anywhere in rural Punjab. While in some villages taps have been installed under government-funded programmes, at others hand pumps have replaced wells. This change seems to have completely transformed the attitude of the rural population towards drinking water as a potential arena of caste prejudice. Though the sources of drinking water were as such separate for dalits and the upper castes, there were much lesser restrictions on the access of dalits to the taps and hand pumps used or owned by upper castes. For example, while more than 60 per cent of the total respondents stated that the two categories of castes still had separate sources of drinking water, nearly 84 per cent of the respondents agreed that there was no prohibition on dalits taking water from the sources used by the upper castes (83.2 per cent of dalit and 89 per cent of the backward castes respondents stated so).
However, it may be useful to add here that though dalits could and did access water from the upper caste sources quite regularly, the frequency of upper castes taking water from the sources used by dalits was much lesser, though not completely absent. Only 48 per cent of the respondents agreed that such a practice could be observed in their village.
Dalits and Religious Places
Practice of untouchability has perhaps been most pronounced in the religious sphere. Brahmanical Hinduism imposed restrictions on dalits participation in religious life. They were denied access to the classical religious traditions and scriptures. They could not even learn to read and write. Similarly, they were prohibited from entering the Hindu temples.
Rural Punjab obviously does not fit into this framework. Followers of Sikhism constitute nearly 80 to 90 per cent of the rural population of Punjab. Even among those who are registered as Hindus in the census enumeration, many practise Sikh rituals and visit Sikh gurudwaras. For example the Ad Dharmis of the Doaba region are mostly enumerated as Hindus while in practice they worship the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, partly because it contains the writings of Guru Ravidas, who was a chamar by birth.
Ad Dharam was an anti-caste movement of the chamar dalits of the Doaba region launched during the 1920s and 1930s. The colonial rulers had conceded to their demand for being recognised as a separate religious community[Juergensmeyer 1988]. However after independence, they were included in the list of Hindu scheduled castes and began to be enumerated as such. Though most of them continue to enumerate themselves as Hindus, in practice, they, over the years, have moved closer to Sikhism. Apart from worshiping Guru Granth, the Sikh holy book, they have also begun to follow the Sikh rituals, such as getting married through an Anand Karaj. The primary reason for their attraction towards Sikhism is its explicit anti-caste message.
Similarly, a large number of chuhras (who are called mazhabis) and chamars from other parts of Punjab (who are called ramdasis) converted to the Sikh faith in order to distance themselves from brahmanical Hinduism. Sikhism seems to have worked as an important alternative source of religious symbols for the dalits of Punjab.
Further, it may be relevant to add here that a good number of the religious functionaries of gurudwaras who take care of the holy book (called the ‘granthis’) come from dalit caste groups. Some of them have also risen to positions of power and influence and have become the head granthis and jathedars at the Golden Temple and Akal Takhat, two of the most important seats of the Sikh religion.
However, though at the level of religious principle Sikhism has been anti-caste and has had attraction for the dalits of Punjab, caste prejudices have not been completely absent among the Sikhs. This has been so particularly among the dominant castes of landowning Sikhs of rural Punjab. While in most gurudwaras in Punjab there are no restrictions on dalits entering the local shrines, there are several cases where dalits felt that they are discriminated against by those who control gurudwaras.
As shown in Table 2 nearly 80 per cent of all the respondents felt that there were no restrictions on dalits entering the religious places built and run by the upper castes in rural Punjab. However, there were some interesting castewise variations in their response to the question. While 89 per cent of the upper caste respondents claimed that dalits could enter the upper caste gurudwaras, comparatively lesser number of dalit respondents (76 per cent) felt so.
Table 2: Perceptions on Dalits’ Entry into Upper Castes Gurudwaras
Categories No Practice of Untouchability Practised Some Practice Not Overtly Total
Schedule castes 370 (76.0) 19 (3.9) 81 (16.7) 17 (3.5) 487 (100)
Backward castes 78 (83.0) 3 (3.2) 7 (7.4) 6 (6.4) 94 (100)
Upper castes 91 (89.2) 1 (1.0) 8 (7.9) 2 (2.0) 102 (100)
Total 539 (683) 23 (3.37) 96 (14.06) 25 (3.66) 683 (100)

Detailed discussions with individual dalits and group interviews in different villages revealed that though dalits were never really stopped from entering gurudwaras built and managed by the local upper castes, there were several cases where dalits reported to have been discriminated against and felt that they were not treated at par with their counterparts from the upper castes.
During a group discussion with dalits in a village of Firozepur district we were told that the upper caste Sikhs did not really appreciate their participation in the daily activities of the local gurudwara. The dalits felt that through subtle and not so subtle messages, they were told to stay away. Their children were asked to come for the ‘langar’ (food served in the gurudwaras) after everyone else had finished eating. In another village in Mukatsar district dalits reported that they are often asked to sit in separate queues for the langar. While the gurudwara management formally invites all the others, dalits were not even informed about the special programmes and festivities. A frequent complaint was related to their not being allowed to participate in the cooking and serving of the langar.
In another village of the same district, the mazhabis and meghs (the local dalit castes) reported that they were often told to sit outside the main door of the gurudwara and were served langar only after the upper caste jats had finished eating. The dalits in the village had for that reason stopped going to the local gurudwara. Even on special occasions, such as religious festivals, they preferred to stay at home and have their private celebrations. In another case, a few dalit women reported that the upper caste boys often treated them differently while serving langar. They, for instance, avoided touching their plates while serving them food.
Dalits have worked out their own ways and strategies of resisting this kind of discrimination. The most popular strategy of resistance has been to construct separate places of worship for themselves. In most villages, dalits have built their own gurudwaras. As revealed in Table 3, of the 51 villages studied, dalits had separate gurudwaras in as many as 41 villages. In fact there were some villages where they had more than one gurudwara.
Table 3: Regionwise Number of Villages with Separate Dalit Gurudwaras
Region None One Two Total
Majha 1 11 - 12
Doaba 3 9 1 13
Malwa 6 17 2 26
Total 10 37 3 51
In most cases dalits built separate gurudwaras to assert their autonomy and avoid the humiliation they felt in the gurudwaras run by the local upper castes. In a village of Gurdaspur district, for example, the mazhabis are devout Sikhs. They regularly visited the village gurudwara. But they could never sit along with the upper caste jats. Rarely would they be encouraged to distribute langar or ‘prasad’. As soon as they could mobilise resources, they built their own gurudwara.
Similarly, a dalit of a village near Phagwara in Kapurthala district told us:
There used to be only one gurudwara in the village. The local jats always thought that it was their gurudwara because they were the ones who had financed its building. We used to visit the gurudwara but they never liked it. They would not let us cook langar. So when we could mobilise some resources, we decided to build our own gurudwara in our own basti.
In another village of Nawanshahir district, dalits felt offended and insulted when some members of the dominant castes in the village gurudwara stopped their women from cooking langar. Their first response was to completely stop going to the gurudwara. Gradually they mobilised money and built a separate gurudwara of their own.
Construction of separate gurudwaras by dalits have, however, never been met with any resistance either from the dominant castes in the village or from the religious establishment of the Sikh community. Apart from the Sikh holy book, the dalit gurudwaras, particularly of the Ad Dharmis and other categories of chamars, would invariably also have a picture of Guru Ravidas. In one of the villages of Doaba, along with the picture of Guru Ravidas, the local Ad Dharmi Gurudwara even had a picture of Sant Balmiki. The local Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) activists thought that keeping Sant Balmiki’s picture would help in forging solidarity with the other major dalit caste in the village, the balmikis or chuhras. As per Hindu mythology, Sant Balmiki too belonged to the same caste community.
However, though the upper castes did not mind dalits constructing their own gurudwaras, some dalits reported that the jats and other upper caste Sikhs did not show for their gurudwaras the kind of reverence they showed for their own. For example, even when the dalit gurudwara was closer, the jats would prefer visiting their own gurudwara. Or when an upper caste family in the village needed to bring the Sikh holy book home for some special occasion, rarely would they take it from the dalit gurudwara, even when it was convenient to do so.
However, in some villages the dalits told us that though they had constructed separate gurudwaras for asserting their autonomy, many from the upper castes had lately started visiting these gurudwaras as well. Hence, they too visited the gurudwaras of the upper castes and no longer felt any sense of discrimination or untouchability.
Untouchability in Hindu Religious Institutions
Though there are very few Hindu temples in Punjab villages, the practice of untouchability is much greater there. We asked a dalit woman in a village near Patiala if she also visited the Shiv Ji Temple located in the village. ‘They do not like even our going anywhere near the compound wall of their temple. Why would we be going there?’, she responded. Apparently a couple of years back a few dalit children were chased out of the temple complex during a festival and this had offended the local dalits.
In another village of the same district, a Hindu saint called Moni Baba performed ‘yajna’ every year in the month of December. This yajna was supposed to be for the general welfare of the village. The Baba also organised ‘Bhandara’ (a kind of langar where food is served free to the devotees) for a couple of days during the yajna. He obviously got donations from the villagers. However, he did not accept donations from dalits. Chanan Ram, a mazhabi, told us that when he went to donate 10 litres of milk last December, it was not accepted and he was asked to take it back.
Caste distinctions were also observed quite openly during the Bhandara. The building where the food was served was divided into two parts with a wall, one for the upper castes and the other for the dalits.
However, in most parts of Punjab, dalits have distanced themselves from brahmanical Hinduism and have either moved to Sikhism or they have their own saints and gurus who are themselves from dalit background.
Provision of Services
Perhaps the most radical change has taken place with regard to access to the barber’s service. The barbers practised virtually no untouchability. As mentioned above, most of the barbers in rural Punjab were in fact themselves from dalit castes, chamars or balmikis. Like most other service providers, barbers no longer worked in the traditional framework of ‘jajmani’ relations. Their services have become commodified and commercialised
However, very few dalits needed barbers’ service in Punjab. The ‘keshadhari’ Sikhs anyway did not need them and others mostly cut their hair themselves.
In case of tailors also the situation was quite similar. Some dalits did feel that the tailors in the village practised untouchability towards them but in most cases they either did not experience untouchability or had their own tailors from within their own castes.
Some amount of untouchability was practised with regard to the services of the local potters. Nearly 6 per cent of the dalits and 14.7 per cent of the upper caste respondents reported that dalits in their village had problem with getting pots from the local potters. However, not all the dalits had such an experience as an overwhelming number of them reported that they had no problem getting their supply of pots. More importantly, most dalits no longer took pots from the local potters. They either used plastic buckets or metal vessels or simply bought pots from the nearby market.
Perhaps the most visible division between the upper castes and dalits was with regard to the cremation grounds. Most of the villages have conventionally had separate cremation grounds for the upper castes and dalits. Nearly two-thirds of the villages had separate cremation grounds for upper castes and dalits. In their perceptions also nearly half the respondents reported that caste-segregation continued to be in practice with regard to the cremation ground.
Though there were some villages that had only one cremation ground where every one cremated their dead, the upper caste generally did not like dalits using the village (upper caste) cremation ground. Interestingly, dalits too preferred having their separate cremation grounds. In fact there were several cases where dalits complained that they have to use the common cremation ground because the land being used for cremating their dead had been encroached upon by the dominant landowners in the village.
Untouchability in Daily Social and Economic Life
The available literature on the subject suggests that untouchability is practised most vigorously in the ‘private sphere’ and in relation to religious institutions. As discussed above, there has been a considerable degree of erosion with regard to the practice of untouchability in these spheres in the rural Punjab.
Caste, however, has been an overarching institution and influenced almost every aspect of life in rural India. Though not as pronounced as in the ‘private sphere’ untouchability was practised against dalit castes in many other spheres of social and economic life as well. These included carrying of the caste prejudice to the market-oriented exchange relations or imposing restrictions on dalits’ use of the village public space.
The local markets in rural Punjab have become nearly free of caste prejudice. dalits could easily enter the village shops run by the upper castes and buy things from them without any experience of untouchability whatsoever. In fact, some dalits have also opened shops in the villages. However, most of their shops are either located in dalit localities or on the main road, near the village bus shelter, where there is a certain degree of anonymity. Importantly, dalits were not the only ones who patronised these shops. Their shops were also visited by the upper castes, albeit, less frequently.
Some of the dalit shopkeepers reported that given the choice some members of the upper castes in the village would avoid visiting their shop. One of the Malwa villages, for example, had a single flour mill being run by a dalit. Though a majority of the villagers belonging to all castes got their wheat powdered from this ‘chakki’, there were some upper castes that preferred going to the neighbouring village to get their wheat powdered. The obvious reason for this was their caste prejudice.
Similarly, there was no evidence of untouchability with regard to the labour market. Most of the manual labour in Punjab villages was done by dalits. They were employed by all categories of villagers for jobs on farms or house construction. However, the upper castes did, in some cases, avoid working alongside the dalits, particularly if the work involved coming into physical contact with dalits. Nearly 15 per cent of dalits and 26 per cent of the upper castes reported that untouchability was practised against dalits when working together involving physical contact.
Dalits’ Access to Village Streets
There were virtually no cases of overt discrimination/ untouchability or any kind of restrictions on dalits’ access to the common public space in the village. None of the respondents reported about any kind of restrictions being imposed on dalits on their passing through the road and streets of the village. Dalits could also take their processions through the village streets and walk with fanfare at the time of marriages or other festive occasions. Similarly, there were no restrictions on their wearing goggles or new clothes and shoes. They could also walk through the village streets with an umbrella and could ride bicycles through the village streets. In fact some of them also owned motorcycles and scooters and no restrictions were imposed on their using these vehicles. Dalits were also not required to take permission from their upper caste patrons while fixing weddings in their families.
Perhaps the most pronounced practice of untouchability/discrimination against dalits happens during the festivals and village feasts. It is rather interesting to note that nearly 19 per cent of dalit respondents and as many as 37 per cent of the upper caste respondent reported that dalits were openly discriminated against during the village festivals. Less than half of all the respondents reported in unambiguous terms that untouchability was practised against dalits during such occasions. In a majority of the cases untouchability was practised, overtly or not so overtly (Table 4).
Table 4: Perception on Practice of Untouchability During Village Festivals
Categories Not Practised Practised Some Experience Not Overtly Total
Schedule Castes 238 (48.9) 91 (18.7) 108 (22.2) 50 (10.3) 487 (100)
Backward castes 51 (54.3) 7 (7.4) 26 (27.6) 10 (10.7) 94 (100)
Upper castes 38 (37.3) 38 (37.3) 12 (11.7) 14 (13.7) 102 (100)
Total 327 (47.87) 136 (19.91) 146 (21.37) 74 (10.83) 683 (100)

This discrimination took various forms. dalits, for example, could not participate on equal terms in celebrations of local festivals unless they organised these celebrations on their own in their gurudwaras or dharamshalas (community centres). However, not in every village of Punjab do dalits have their own establishments.
Perhaps the most obvious occasion when dalits are discriminated against in village festivities is during the serving of food. As was reported above about the langar, dalits would often be asked to wait until every one else had eaten and left. Only 37.6 per cent of dalit respondents and 43 per cent of the upper caste respondents reported that no untouchability was practised with regard to serving of food to dalits during village festivities.
Though not so pronounced, there were also reports of using separate utensils for the dalits during festivals or village feasts. Nearly 12 per cent of dalits and 22 per cent of the upper caste respondents reported that separate utensils were used for dalits during the village feasts that were organised by the upper castes. In a village in the Verka block of Amritsar, though dalits were invited by the upper caste jats for weddings in their families, they were served food and snacks on separate tables.
Even otherwise dalits and upper castes rarely ate together. As discussed above, though restrictions on dalits entering the houses of upper castes have been considerably relaxed, restrictions on eating together continued. As such also, dalits and upper castes did not interact so closely that they would visit each other’s houses for lunches or dinners on a regular basis.
Untouchability in Modern/Secular Institutions
Apart from the continued practice of untouchability in the private sphere and the everyday social and economic life, the system of caste hierarchy and its ideology of purity and impurity has also percolated into the new ‘caste free’ institutions. For example, unlike the traditional Hindu system of education, the modern institutions of learning are not supposed to discriminate on the basis of caste or gender. In fact, secular education has been a vehicle of dalit mobility.
However, given the nature of the institution of caste, these too could not always escape being influenced by past values. Schools, public distribution system (PDS) outlets, post offices, milk cooperatives, panchayats or modern hospitals could all discriminate against dalits.
As was reported by studies of Gujarat by Desai and Shah, with the exception of seating arrangements and functioning of panchayats, the practice of untouchability was much lesser in these spheres of social life.
Dalits experienced no untouchability while accessing services of post office, PDS or the local cooperatives. They could also visit the local health care centres without any problem. However, they did have complains about the working of the public distribution system. In a village of Patiala district they told us that more than the poor dalits the upper caste Rajputs had yellow cards which made them eligible for subsidised purchases from PDS outlets. Rajputs were the ones who benefited more from the PDS. They also complained about the attitude of health care staff towards dalit patients, whose behaviour reflected an element of caste prejudice against them. Even some of the upper caste respondent felt that the health care staff in the local hospital/primary health centre discriminated against dalits, overtly or ‘to some-extent’. However, when it came to visiting dalit houses during medical emergencies, fewer complained about discrimination. More than 95 per cent of the dalit reported that doctors did not discriminate against them during emergencies and visited their houses without any hesitation.
Dalits and the Police
Police force is the face of the modern state that an average person encounters in his/her everyday life. In the new legislative system where untouchability is a crime, the role of the police and its accessibility to dalits is very critical. The police are the custodians of the law.
Though in most cases dalits did not feel intimidated by the police and there were no restrictions on their entry into the police station, not everyone felt comfortable going to the local thana. Nearly 13 per cent of the dalit respondents felt constrained in reporting any cases of discrimination to the police. At times, they are made to sit separately, away from the upper castes, and mostly on the floor. But in a large majority of cases, dalits did not feel discriminated against in the police stations.
Dalits and School Education
From a dalit perspective, introduction of the modern secular education was one of the most important changes introduced by the British colonial rulers. Unlike the traditional education in the Hindu society, the modern secular education – schools, colleges and universities – are, in principle, open to everyone. However, it is mostly the upper castes and the rich who have taken to modern education and who continue to dominate these institutions. Thanks to the growing awareness about the uses of education among them and the official policy of keeping some posts reserved for the members of the scheduled castes, some dalits too have been able to acquire education. Some of them have also become schoolteachers.
What was the experience of dalits in the schools of rural Punjab?
By and large, the practice of untouchability was not very visible in village schools. Rarely were dalit children made to sit separately. However, not everything was fine with these institutions. As shown in Table 5, though in nearly 75 per cent of the cases, the upper caste and dalit children interacted with each other without any problem and drank water from the same source, there were more than 20 per cent cases where distinctions were observed, overtly or subtly. dalit teachers in the schools too felt that they were not completely accepted by their upper caste colleagues. They tended to interact more with other dalit teachers.
Table 5: Perceptions on Upper Caste and Dalit Students Sitting and Eating Together, Drinking Water from Common Source in Schools
Categories Untouchability Not Practised Practised Some Practise NA Total
Schedule castes 389 (79.9) 61 (12.5) 30 (6.1) 7 (1.4) 487 (100)
Backward castes 58 (61.7) 16 (17.0) 15 (16.0) 5 (5.3) 94 (100)
Upper castes 67 (65.7) 33 (32.4) 2 (2.0) 102 (100)
Total 514 (75.25) 110 (16.11) 47 (6.88) 12 (1.75) 683 (100)

More than untouchability, perhaps, the problem was with the quality of education being imparted in the government-run village schools. The number of teachers employed was normally lesser than required. Even those employed did not take their work very seriously. Rarely do the rural schools have enough infrastructure in terms of rooms, laboratories and furniture required for proper functioning of the school. As a consequence, more ambitious and well-to-do parents have started sending their children to urban schools. One could also notice mushrooming of private schools, mostly at the nursery and primary level of teaching in some of the villages. The main attraction of these schools is that they claim to carry out teaching in ‘English medium’. However, they charge fees while the government schools are virtually free. Only the landed upper caste and better-off families could afford to send their children to these schools.
This withdrawal of upper castes from the government-run schools has had a further negative impact on the quality of education in these schools. In some of the villages, the government schools have begun to be called dalit or harijan schools. Since the influential upper castes do not send their children to the government school, there is little interest among them to demand for the improvement in standards of teaching in the local schools.
In a village of Amritsar district, a dalit student of class VIII told us that out of 37 children in his class, only four were jats. Rest were all dalits or from other ‘backward castes’. In the neighbouring district of Gurdaspur, the head mistress of the government-run village primary school had a similar story to tell. Of the 108 students in her school, only around 14 or 15 came from families of the landowning jats. The rest were mostly dalits. The village also had an ‘anganwadi’ for young children (a creche), which had around 70 young kids. They all came from dalit or backward caste families. None of the jat families sent their children to the local anganwadi.
Dalits and the Panchayats
Introduction of local level political institutions based on the principle of universal adult franchise and representative democracy has had far reaching implications for rural power structure. Like other institutions of Indian political democracy, panchayats too have seats reserved for scheduled castes, both at the level of ordinary membership and sarpanches (the presidents). Given their population in the Punjab countryside, some dalits could get elected as sarpaches even on ‘open’ seats. Of the 51 villages surveyed, as many as 17 currently had a dalit sarpanch and another six had them in the past. Of the 17 dalit sarpanches currently in office, nearly half were women. They could become sarpanches primarily because the seats were reserved for dalit women. There were another six villages where dalits had been sarpanches in the past. In the rest of the 28 villages, no dalit has ever been a sarpanch. The number of dalit panchsas (ordinary members) varied from one to five, depending on the size of the village and the panchayats.
This democratisation of the local political institutions has made a lot of difference to the dalits. It has given them a sense of dignity and the power to bargain. Universal adult franchise has forced the upper/dominant castes to recognise the value of dalit votes. Their being able to get elected as sarpanches also forced the members of the upper castes to renegotiate their relationship with them. dalits have become an important ally for everyone in the factional politics of the village.
However, despite these radical changes in the rural power structure, caste related structures of domination have not completely disappeared from everyday life in the village. Nor have the dalits become empowered everywhere. For example, some dalits still felt the compulsion of standing up in the presence of an elderly upper caste person. As revealed in Table 6, in nearly 16 per cent of the cases dalits felt such compulsion.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the data given in Table 6 is the castewise variation in responses to the question. While 14 per cent of dalits and 13 per cent of the backward caste respondents reported that such a practice existed, as many as 29.4 per cent of the upper/dominant caste respondents responded positively to the question. This obviously reflects that while the dominant castes would still wish that such a practice continued, the old ideology of patronage and loyalty has been much eroded from the minds of the dalits and ‘backward’ castes.
Table 6: Perception on Compulsion for Dalits to Stand Up in the Presence of Upper Castes Persons
Categories No Compulsion Feel Compulsion Only occasionally Total
Schedule castes 408 (83.8) 68 (14.0) 11 (3.3) 487 (100)
Backward castes 77 (81.9) 13 (13.8) 4 (4.3) 94 (100)
Upper castes 72 (70.6) 30 (29.4) - 102 (100)
Total 557 (81.55) 111 (16.25) 15 (2.19) 683 (100)

Dalits are also not treated equally in the panchayat buildings. Nearly 43 per cent of the dalit respondents felt that the dominant castes did not welcome their going to the panchayat buildings. These buildings are seen as upper caste community centres. In many villages dalits have built separate community centres of their own. Though to a significantly lesser degree, some discrimination is also practised in the seating arrangements during panchayat meetings. In some villages, dalit members were reportedly made to sit separately from upper caste members. However, virtually no untouchability is practised during the election process. For example, there was no practise of making separate queues of dalits for voting in the village panchayat elections.
Group discussions with dalit and some personal interviews with dalit sarpanches further reinforced the point that caste continues to be an important player in the rural power structure. Though they have been able to get elected as panchas and sarpanches, power in the village still lay with the dominant castes. In most cases dalits could contest and win elections to the village panchayats because they had the support and patronage of some members of the dominant castes. Even where the post was reserved, the dominant castes often had a say in deciding who amongst the dalits should contest. ‘The jats would not allow any other dalits to contest elections’ was the response of one dalit.
Further, when elected, they are not always given the respect due to them. Their opinions in the village panchayat meetings did not carry as much weight as it would in case of the dominant caste sarpanch. Ordinary members have even lesser say. Jat/upper caste sarpanches did not even let them speak during the meetings and when they were able to say something, rarely were their views taken seriously. The jats also disliked visiting the house of a dalit sarpanch unless they urgently needed his/her favours. In most villages, the upper castes strongly resented the reservations of seats for dalits in the village panchayats.
In some cases even when a dalit became sarpanch, the real power remained with the landowning jat whose faction had supported his/her candidature. In a village of Amritsar district, for example, a dalit called Surat Singh could get elected because the local jats did not let any other dalit contest elections. Reportedly, the upper caste jats got their nomination forms rejected with connivance of the officials. Surat Singh was allowed to contest because the jats were sure that they would be able to manipulate him. Such sarpanches obviously do nothing for the welfare of their own communities. By the time their term is over, they become so unpopular with the members of their own caste that if they wish to pursue a political career they have to depend almost solely on their patron jats.
In another case in a village of Gurdaspur district, we were told by some dalits that the local jats launched a campaign against a dalit women sarpanch and got her suspended on charge of appropriation of panchayat money. In place of her a jat appointed himself as the sarpanch even when the seat in the village was reserved for a dalit woman. In still another case in the Nawanshahir district, the local organising committee did not even care to invite the village sarpanch when the then union sports minister, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, visited the village for a sports meet. dalits complained that he was not invited because the sarpanch was a dalit.

Caste has often been seen as a unified system that worked in more or less, similar ways everywhere in India. The popular discourses, as also ‘mainstream’ sociological writings, tended to emphasis on the underlying cultural/ideological consensus across castes on its governing normative order [Dumont 1971; Moffatt 1979]. Despite many criticisms of these theories and the available empirical evidence from the field that contradicted such claims, theories such as that of Dumont continue to dominate the discourses on caste [Gupta 2000:3].
Whatever might have been the case in the past or elsewhere in the subcontinent, it certainly does not apply to contemporary rural Punjab. Dalits of Punjab see no virtues in the hierarchical structures of caste. As Deliege (1999) points out, they all aspire to better material conditions and a dignified life.
For a large majority of dalits living in rural Punjab, caste has only been a disabling structure. Thanks to the various social movements and the processes of economic development, they no longer have to encounter overt untouchability in their everyday life. They have also been investing in accumulating symbolic resources that help them lead a life of self-respect and dignity.
At the structural and political level, the changes taking place in the institutions of caste and untouchability in contemporary rural Punjab could perhaps be captured through categories of ‘dissociation, distancing and autonomy’. These have also been used as strategies of social and cultural assertion by the dalits in rural Punjab.
With a near complete decline of jajmani relations, the traditional association of castes with certain specific occupations does not seem to hold good for rural Punjab any longer. As discussed above, some of the traditional ‘unclean’ occupations, like picking-up of the dead cattle, have become commercialised. Though most of the villages in Punjab still have carcasses, the work of picking-up the dead cattle was mostly done on contractual basis. Even when some of them were still engaged in their traditional occupations, they no longer work in the framework of jajmani ties.
Perhaps more than the idea of pollution, the subordination of dalits in rural Punjab was institutionalised through the prevailing structures of agrarian relations. Being landless, they had to almost completely depend on the landowning castes for employment and other economic needs. While working on the land continues to be the most important source of employment for a large majority of them, they have also, and quite consciously, begun trying to move away from agricultural labour. Their attempts at distancing from agricultural labour are perhaps more because of their acute dislike of the dependency relationship with the farmer than for the nature of work itself.
However, such a distancing is possible only where alternative sources of employment become available to them. The opening of the village economy and its growing linkage to towns has made it physically possible for them to look out for other sources of employment, and many of them have been doing precisely that. However, it is not an easily available option to all.
As Lynch had observed, under conditions of change caste does not necessarily disintegrate into some other type of social group [Lynch 1969:203]. dalits in rural Punjab do not necessarily want to forget their caste identities. However, they do want to be treated with dignity and self-respect. For living a life of dignity, they need their own autonomous cultural resources. The traditional Hindu social order prohibited them from acquiring such resources. They were not allowed entry into temples and centres of learning. The Sikh religion does not advocate discrimination against any caste or creed. However, in practice, Sikhs belonging to the landowning dominant castes have not shed all their prejudices against the dalits. While dalits would be allowed entry into the village gurudwaras, they would not be permitted to cook or serve langar.
Wherever, they could mobilise resources, the dalits of Punjab have tried to construct their own gurudwaras and other local level institutions in order to attain a certain degree of cultural autonomy from the dominant castes.
Notwithstanding the changes experienced in almost all spheres of life, the continuities are not yet insignificant. Rural Punjab has not forgotten caste. While it is true that in most cases, caste-based prejudice against dalits has considerably declined, only rarely did we find it completely missing.
[The data presented in this paper was collected during the field-study for a broader project on the subject that was funded by ActionAid India. The field-work was completed with help from a Phillaur based NGO, Volunteers for Social Justice. My thanks are due to Jai Singh, Joginder Pal and Dharminder Singh for their help. Several sessions of discussions with Mathew Charien and Adil Ali of were extremely useful.
The writing of the paper was completed during my stay at the Department of Rural Sociology, University of Wisconsin. I am grateful to Professor Gary Green for inviting me to a visiting position. I also express my gratitude to Sneha Sudha Komath who read an earlier draft of this paper and gave useful comments. Usual disclaimers apply.]
1 It was not only the colonial administrators and ethnographers who constructed India in such unitary terms. The nationalist leadership also viewed social structure of the ‘traditional India’ on similar lines. Nehru, for example, wrote in his Discovery of India: …the old Indian social structure which has so powerfully influenced our people….was based on three concepts: the autonomous village community; caste; and the joint family system [Nehru 1946:244]. Similarly, social anthropologists who carried out a large number of ‘village-studies’ during the 1950s and 1960 worked with the assumption that the Indian villages were the same everywhere (for a critical survey of village studies, see Jodhka 1998).
2 See, fir example, H Singh (1977); Desai (1976).
3 Beteille articulates this point well when he writes: “The traditional structure of the Indian village not merely tolerated but required the presence of untouchables for both economic and ritual reasons. There had to be in every group of villages, if not in every village, labourers to do the hard physical work in the fields as well as scavengers, flayers and tanners to insulate the community from pollution” (2000b:171-72).
4 For a critical survey of social anthropological studies of Indian villages see Jodhka (1998).
5 See, for example edited volume by Srinivas (1996), published in the backdrop of the anti-Mandal agitation and was titled as Caste: Its Twentieth Century Avatara.
6 Though they disagree in many ways, Dumont and Srinivas operate with a notion of hierarchy that is assumed to works for the whole of India.
7 See for example, Singh, I P 1975; 1977; Singh, H 1977; McLeod 1996; Saberwal 1973; 1976; Sharma 1985; Juergensmeyer 1988; Kumar and Kumar 1996; Judge 1997; Abbi and Singh 1997; Jodhka 2000.
8 Fieldwork for the study was carried-out during July-October 2001. Punjab has three folk sub-regions, Majha, Malwa and Doaba. The geographical area of the Malwa sub-region is nearly half of the total area of the state. Keeping the proportion of the dalit population (the highest and the lowest) in mind, districts, blocks and eventually village were selected for the study. Of the 51 villages selected for the study, 12 were from Majha, 13 from Doaba and 26 from Malwa. Individual respondents were chosen randomly from different caste groups, giving more representation to dalits for the obvious reasons.
9 Discussion in this section is based on an earlier paper of mine [Jodhka 2000].
10 One possible explanation for such a high concentration of the scheduled castes in the region could perhaps be extrapolated from Delige’s observation where quoting Gough, he observes that dalits were generally more concentrated in fertile areas [Delige 1999:6]. Given that it was located with two rivers, Doaba would have always been a fertile region.
11 Demographically also the followers of Islam were in majority in the region until the partition of Punjab in 1947. The Sikhs, though in minority, had been the ruling community until the British extended their rule to Punjab in the middle of the 19th century.
12 Great Britain Indian Statutory Commission, Memorandum Submitted by the Government of Punjab (1930) as in Nayar 1966:20.
13 Unlike in some other states, the scheduled castes of Punjab rarely worked as cultivating peasants on their own holdings. As per the official figures, only 0.4 per cent of all the land holdings occupying 0.72 per cent of the total cultivated area in the state were being cultivated by the scheduled castes. This was in stark contrast to some other states where despite the proportionate number of scheduled castes being lesser in the total population, the number of those cultivating land was much higher. In Uttar Pradesh, for example, the scheduled castes, consisting of 21.06 per cent of the total population, held as many as 24.5 per cent of the land holding occupying 14.31 per cent of the total cultivated land in the state. Similarly in Bihar and West Bengal, they cultivated 12.11 and 10.89 per cent of the total land holdings respectively. Similarly, as against the all India average of 25.44 per cent, only 4.80 per cent of the main workers among the scheduled castes in Punjab were employed as cultivators as per the 1991 figures. This percentage was as high as 42.63 per cent for Uttar Pradesh and 67.67 per cent for Himachal Pradesh (Statistical Abstract, Punjab 1999:206-07)
Explanation for such a low incidence of land ownership and cultivation among the scheduled caste could perhaps be traced to the colonial policies. The most critical in this context was perhaps the passing of the Punjab Alienation of Land Act in 1901, which clubbed the dalits with the “non-agriculturists” castes. Consequently, they were legally not allowed to own agricultural land. The act seemed to have been passed keeping in view the interests of the dominant land owning castes exclusively. Even though a large majority of the dalits worked on land as labourers, and in some cases also as tenants and owner cultivators, the 1901 Act would have obviously made them dispossess their holdings [Prasad 2000:35-37].
Source: Econnomic and Political Weekly

The Ideology of a Political Religion
The following statement is from the detailed research thesis carried out by an American research scientist from Berkley, University of California, America, on the life of the Untouchables and a quest for equal rights under the British Rule in India. A memorandum was presented to the British establishment Sir Simon Commission by the movement leaders. A leader of 2 Million Untouchables, Mangoo Ram Maguhwal, started the movement known as Ad-dhran, on his return from America where he was a member of the Gadar Party

1st Indian edition 1988 “RELIGIOUS REBELS IN PANJAB” By Mark Juergensmeyers "Religious as a Social vision the movement against Untouchabillity in the 20th century Panjab."
The author of these pages would like to thank Mr. Juergensmeyers for the use of his work.
Mangoo Ram address his masses
We are original people of country, and our religion is Ad Dharm. The Hinndu Qaum came from outside and enslaved us. When the original sound from the conch was sounded, all brothers came together- Chamars, Chuhra, Sainis, Bhanjre, Bhil, and all the Untouchables – to make their problems, known. Brothers there are seventy Million of us listed as Hindu’s, separate us, and make us free. We trusted the Hindu’s but they turned out to be traitors. Brothers the time has come: wake the government is listening to our crises. Centuries have passed,, but we were asleep, brothers. Look at the lines that Manu has written they lived Shepard’s and hunters and had to no sense of communal identities (Qaum)

People of the world considered our land as the crown of success, and paid tribute to our achievements and us. They respected and bowed down to our Kings. There was no enemy, no foe, no fear of foreign invaders, and no signs of internal dissension-------during this time of our great achievement. But when the Aryans came and destroyed it all scattering and subjugating the original people.

There were many wars – six Hundred years of fighting – and then the Aryans defeated our ancestors the local inhabitants. Our forefathers, the inhabitants of our glorious motherland, were pushed back in to the Jungle and into the mountains. Some of them stayed and asked for mercy; they were enslaved.

In the beginning when nature created the human beings, there was no discrimination. There was no difference
And no quarrels especially; there were any such concepts as high as or low castes. God (Ishvar) was meditating; all was in harmony. Everyone believed in one Dharm (Religious Truth) which nature had given him or her through intellect and knowledge; this Dharm was Ad Dharm. Nature gave birth to these original people in the valleys of the original mountains – the Himalayas.

Later on the Adi (the original people) spread out. Some migrated to mountains, others to Plaines. As their numbers increased, so did the search for better places. Some lived in the caves, the mountains and the Plaines central Asia and the Caucasian mountains. Some groups settled in Europe. Some groups came back to the original land, after some time and known as Aryans. There was another group, which didn’t go to the Caucasian mountains or central Asia, but settled in the plains near the original mountains, in the original land, these people are the original people.

Dalitts under the British Rule in India

In many ways the enlightened British ideals for India was more appealing to theAd Dharm than Gandhi and company.

Hope from God and help from the King
A request to the British Establishment By Ad Dharm Leader Mr Mangoo Ram Mughowal Distt Hoshiarpur Panjab India
India should not be given independence until the Untouchables are freed and equal other wise it would be a disgrace to the British Rule.

I beg your Excellency to consider about the Untouchables pitiable conditions and allow them to settle in some uncultivated piece of Land, which they will cultivate and thus relieve them from severe clutches of the cruel. They will be most thankful to your Excellency and pray for the prosperity of the benign Governor through out the lives. God has certainly helped the Ad Dharmmis for when we were at the lowest pit of degration, God sent to us Lord Mont more the Governor of Panjab so kind and loving ruler, all the right s and
Hope we are being given is due to this angel of mercy of the Pannjab, we pray earnestly for his long life.

Religious as a social vision: The movement against untouhability in 20th Century of Punjab
The following memorandum was delivered to the Governor of Punjab, Sir Simon Commission

The proceedings, principals, and over –all activities, from January- 1926-30th April1926

Published 15th May, 1931 by Kishan Steam Press, Railway Rd

In Bharat (India) one quarter of the population is Achut (Untouchables), who have been enslaved by the high caste Hindus for the last 5,000 years. These poor people been dethroned from their political and religious status to such an extent that their souls have been crushed --- crushed so hard that they have lost their hasti, Identity,, or selfhood. If you reflect upon these people and their conditions, you will realize everyone knows about it, even little children, all over the world. The shed light on their beginning is like re-chewing old food. The historians have written tones of book about them, enough books to fill London. We are not concerned about the historical origins of the Achuts, we should put the Achuts on the path of progress rather then telling them their past and inflame the Achut into a Jihad (Holy war) against any Qaum, (Community). That would be twice as bad as Untouchability. That is why we do not join those organizations, which wants to do away with Achut and the whole system of the lower castes; these movements would mislead the Achut into obliteration.

The fact of the matter is that before the British all other groups ruling Hindustan (India) mistreated the Achut. The present plight and population of the Achut are due to these invaders treatment of the Achut. The Achut are the descendants of the original people: they are the original children of Dharm-Khand (Paradise) and the mother land and were living a peaceful and spiritual life in their own land, when they were attacked and slaughtered with a double edge sword by the bloodthirsty invaders. However as kabir has said whoever cuts someone else’s throat, will some day have his own throat cut

Today having been slaughtered with nature’s double –edged sword, the slayers are now lying along with their victims; because now they are under the of a government which has taken practical steps to crush the old order. But it is so well entrenched that no power in the world can shake it. As Guru Nanak ji said, he does whatever is done,, there in the hands of us human beings.

Anyone with an inclination to oppress the Achutt has gotten, is getting, and will get his punishment from Qidrat kamila(Nature Perfect) It is our belief that all creatures are created by parm-atma ( The Universal) Soul ), and if the strong oppress the weak. Then let the task of punishment in the hands of Ishvar(God) and we should go about our work. Unfortunately the proud people of the high castes are miles away from these ideals.

For this reason there have not been any significant achievements by the organization, which claimed to assist the Achut. The problems of the Achut cannot be understood by the high caste Hindu’s so the Achut lies in the same miserable conditions as before.
Facts do not:
Antaj Udhar
Patat Udhar
Achut Udhar
Dayanand Dalat Udhars

These organizations run by high caste Hind’s. They collect the money like beggars but then spend it for themselves. They do not spend money ffor the Achut. 99% of the Achut people do not even know the names of these organizations. But if you read their reports, they give exaggerated claimed of their achievements. The truth is that these organizations are compassed of selfish people.

P. 3
The Achut have three powers.
Qaumiat (nation hood, or communal pride)
Mazhab (religion)
Majlis (organization)

These powers are what every body wants. Whenever they can these generous reform groups try to destroy these powers so that the Achut will be absorbed into them. The Ad Dharm Mandal, which was founded in 119225 as a collective organization from all Achut in the Panjab has been actively opposing all these selfish organizations. This Mandal is the protector and defender of these three powers. It has a concrete program. These high caste Achut organizations that simply shed crocodile tears over the Achut, have tried to destroy the ad dharma Mandal. They have seduced and bribed some of our prcharaks. But the Ad Dharam Mandal’s for roots go too deeply: this cannot shake us.

Example, a deputation was sent in 1928 to Simon, Royal commission. Another deputation was sent to His Excellency, Sir Geoffrey Fitzroy de Montmorency, KCIE, KCVOC, BEMA, ICS, Governor of Panjab, Lahor, in Jullunder, 12th October 1929. This day may be marked as the birthday of Achut; for we were recognized as human. We received rights we never had before: we got 8~ quota for legislative seats from the legislative assembly of India, and from many provincial assemblies. The local government also has recommended lO7~. The round table con­ference also mentions the need for the rights of the Achfit. The Education Department has also provided many facilities and has been very helpful.

All these items are facts, not exaggerated claims on paper. These are resolutions, which have been passed, and regulations, which have been put into effect. The day is not far away when the British government will, implement these plans.

P. 5
In addition to the political aspect of Ad Dharm Mandal, Jullundur, which has been very successful, there is even a greater emphasis on social reform. The religious and organizational status of the Achut has been raised due to our efforts. For example, we are getting education for Achut children. As one wise man of the Punjab put it, “Ad Dharm has performed miracles beyond imagination.” To us, no talk is worthwhile without action. We are not interested in simply collecting money, the way the others are doing. They collect money for their own luxuries, for their own names. Our principle is solely humanitarian. As someone has said, “it is only the struggle for humanity’s improvement, which is worth the pain of having been cre­ated.” And as Sri Guru Ravi Däas-Ji has said, in one of his kathans “for the spirit of sympathy, the whole body is created.”

In short, the founding of the Ad Dharm Mandal is for humanitarian purposes, and to fill our duty to humanity. We carry the banner of the downtrodden people; and we devote out entire lives to the cause, so that future generations may follow in our footsteps, and follow the cause, a cause that has long been neglected. We have neglected this report for the sole reason of explaining our purposes. So if people ask, “who are these people? Where did they ca from? What are they doing?” they will be able to know. As someone has said, “those who are truthful do not shout about it; the. Truth alone is witness to their achievements •“

P 6

SECTION 1. The Rise and Fall Of the Ad Dharm.

Nature (Qodrat Kamila) created human beings from Adi (the original source] at the time that it reated all beings in the earth. The knowledge of karm-dharum(moral behavior] was also given to them at that time by nature. Nature made humans superior to animals. But among humans, all were equal.

In the beginning when nature created the human beings, there was no discrimination. There was no difference
And no quarrels. Especially, there were no such concepts as high as or low castes. God (Ishvar) was meditating; all was in harmony. Everyone believed in one Dharm (Religious Truth) which nature had given him or her through intellect and knowledge; this Dharm was Ad Dharm. Nature gave birth to these original people in the valleys of the original mountain’s – the Himalayas.

Later on the Adi (the original people) spread out. Some migrated to mountains, others to Plaines. As their numbers increased, so did the search for better places. Some lived in the caves, the mountains and the Plaines central Asia and the Caucasian mountains. Some groups settled in Europe. Some groups came back to the original land, after some time and known as Aryans. There was another group, which didn’t go to the Caucasian mountains or central Asia, but settled in the plains near the original mountains, in the original land, these people are the original people.

P 7
Before the Aryans, our forefathers had great success in such fields as industry, arts, and science, liberal. Arts physical and spiri­tual arts In brief they were the most civilized people, when other peoples in the world at that time knew nothing of civilization or of science. Our people excelled in knowledge but in those places where the rivers of knowledge are flowing today, those people were primitive. The other people lived in trees, cave, ate bark and leaves and had no spiritual life. They lived as shepherds and hunters, and had no sense of qaum (nationhood]. This was their condition when the original land--Hindustan...was at the peak of civilization. Peoples of the world considered our land as the crown of success, and paid tribute to our achievements and us. They res­pected and bowed down to our kings. There was no enemy, no foe, no fear of foreign invaders and no signs of internal dissention. As great Kabir has said, in one of his kathano (sayings]: “First, God created his light, and from that, every human being was created.”

During this time of our great achievement, the Aryans heard about the original land’s civilization, and they came there. They learned the art of fighting from the local inhabitants; and then turned against them. There were many wars. 600 years of fighting. And then the Aryans finally defeated our ancestors, the local inhabi­tants. Our forefathers, the inhabitants of our glorious motherland, were pushed back into the jungle, and into mountains. Some of them stayed, and asked for mercy; they were enslaved. We do not regret that our forefathers were defeated, for in the future, this country was invaded many times, and the invaders were victorious.

Our forefathers were not only enslaved; they were mistreated. The victors acted like conquerors. The Aryan government practiced so much cruelty and injustice that the original people forgot their awn hasti (identity]. Whatever signs of their glory remained, was destroyed. The Aryans exaggerated their own achievements, and the achievements of the local inhabitants were tossed into the dust.

P 8
In this period of time, Manü-ji was born. Manu made some regu­lations fatwah) and imposed them on the original people. For example, it was he who started the idea of discrimination, about how different people are to be treated differently. Aryans, to enslave the local people, adopted such principles of injustice as values. Books were written to teach humiliation, and taught in the schools as text­books. Every means for humiliation was used.

From that time onwards, hundreds of governments have come and gone, but the original people are still not free. From then on, Hindu Aryans still suppressed the original people. Not a single Hindu Aryan has shown the correct path of freedom to these suppressed and oppressed people. On the contrary, each generation was worse than the one before. The condition of the original people went from bad to worse. They followed the. Rules of Manu-bhagvan (God Mania].

Finally, Nature decided to change the conditions of these poor people. After the Hindu Aryan rule, which was tyrannical, unjust and discriminatory, the age of Islam came. They destroyed the unjust Aryan Hindu control, and ended Manu’s
a philosophy. They became Sympthizers. Rather then tyrants. They tried their best to get rid of discrimi­nation--this caste system. But unfortunately, Hinduism affected Islam and it too became the prey of discrimination.

P 9
After the rise and fall of Islamic government, the flag of British rule began waving in this country. Why they took power, they tried to end the tyranny of injustice, and lay the foundations of peace. At about the same time, there was a Sikh government in the Punjab. But it did not last very long, because of their tyranny. The people would rather have the rule of the British than the Sikhs.

After the British government was established, the Hindu Aryans and the Sikhs did not change their attitudes. They continued to dis­criminate against people on the basis of so-called “high caste” and “low caste.” They continued to trap people in the case of discrimi­nation. At this time, Christianity came to India. Christianity tried to attract all Qaum, and especially the low castes, because the Achuts are an orphan-kind of people.

P 10
Swami Dayanand saw the progress of Christianity and considered it a threat to Hinduism. He realized that Christianity was digging a hole in the foundation of Hinduism, which would destroy the whole buildings of Hinduism. The swami tried to think of a way to keep the Achut in Hinduism. The swami had to face much resentment but other by other upper caste Hindu’s in trying to do this, and they did not succeed in his purpose. Swami was intelligent, far –sighted and a true patriot of the Hindu mat (religion). He realized that there was not a Hindu government, which could keep the Achut under Hindu power. So he founded an organization called Arya Smaj; its sole purpose was to bring all of the Hindu organization together, so that the Achut would not leave their faith. They used many false fronts to keep the foundation of the Hindu caste system together.

Many other organizations were established. Preaching was done; Societies were formed and the whole movement of shuddhi (recon version) was started. They tried everything to obliterate the Achut. They seduced thousands of Achuts in the net of Shuddhi. They made allsorts of hypocritical arguments – which Achut was over; there was no discrimination. The poor Achut was trapped again by the Hindu Aryan, just like falling into the clutches of elephants’ teeth. In fact the Hindu Aryans were still followers of Manu, full of discrimination. The Achut realized these Hindu Aryans trapped them.
So they wanted organization of their own. The Achut themselves started taking interest in their own welfare; they did not trust the high the high caste Hindu. Organizations were made; societies were formed. They chose their own Gurus.

So in the beginning of 1925, a society was formed with the name, Ad Dharm: Rishi Balmik, Ravi Dass, Maharaj Kabir , Bhagwan Sat Guru Nam Dev were named as leaders. The first meeting was held in the village of Mughowal , Thana Mahalpur , Tehsil Gahrshankar , Hoshiarpur district , on 11-12 June, 1926, under the chairmanship of Sriman Babu Mangoo Ram. All section people of Punjab attended the meeting. All Achuts attended: Chuhrae, Chamar , Ravidasia , Sansi , Bhanjre , Ghadhilia , Burr , Julahae , Megh , Chambar , Kabirpanthi , Mahashae , Dom , Jatiyae. Also, other respectable people in ddition to Achut , from other quam: Christians , Sikhs , Muslims , Arya Samaj , Sanatani’s. With all groups present, it was a great success.

Representatives of the Achut presented their positions eloquently and loudly. They exposed and told about all the hypocritical religions [mazhab]. The representatives of societies of the other religions criticized strongly the Ad Dharmis. After a lot of debate and argument, as inspired by the teachings of Rishi Balmik, Ravi Dass, Kabir, and Nam Dev, it was decided that the Achut should be called “Ad Dharm”

The society took the name “Ad Dharm” from this day. Everyone praised the decision; they shook the heavens with cheers. It seemed as if an old tree had come alive, or as if an old flower had burst into bloom. From this day, a completely downtrodden quam began calling itself Ad Dharm.

One hundred distinguished committee members were appointed, and JulIundur was chosen as the headquarters. The full name: “Ad [harm Mandal of Punjab, Jullundur City.”

The Resolutions gassed at Mughowäl:

I. a . We declare to the government and all the Achat brother­hood, that the Ad Dharm Mandal. is formed.
b. Our greeting: “Jai Guru Dcv”
c. Our faith (Itqad) is according to the sayings of Sri Guru Ad Prakigh Asankh Deep Granth.
d. Our sacred word is “Soham .“

2. The founders of our religion are Rishi VaImik, Guru Ravidas Maharaj kabir, and Bhagwan Sat Guru Nam Dev. And the Naam of the Granth (scriptures] of the founder has been established as Ad Prakaah.

3. This conference represents all districts of? Punjab, and it appeals to all Achüt in Punjab to call themselves only Ad Dharmis.

P 12
4. All, the Achut brotherhood should forget about caste and quarrels, and get along together. They should not fight with each other. Rather, all. Achut should start eating together, and have social relations with each other. They should practice kan-pan together (eating/drinking together).

5 • If some other qaum attacks an Ad Dharmi, the Ad Dharmis should defend each other.

6. All. Ad Dharmis should follow the Rishimanis, the Gurus, the Bhagats, the Mahatma all the great religious leaders. True worshipers of these saints will not believe in idol worship, the caste-system, or superior and inferior practi­ces.

7. All girls and boys of the Achut brotherhood should have com­pulsory primary education.

8. The Granths and Sashtra, which show Achut as slaves should be boycotted. To follow such books is a mortal sin.

9. It is legal to eat with Ad Dharmis. Others should eat from Ad Dharmis’ hands. And Ad Dharmis should be willing to eat with those who are also willing.

10. The Minister of Education, Panjab Government, Lahore, should give special scholarships and education for Achut children. We cannot bear the expenses of our children due to our poverty.

P 13
Our children should be taken care of by the Government since private schools do not help us, or encourage the admission of our children. We should get grants that others get. And special schools ‘should be set up for Achut.

12. We are agriculturalists. We know our work well; but we are not paid enough in agriculture. Rural wages. We cannot take care of our families properly. Vacant lands should be given to the Achut qaum.

13. Agriculturalists from the Achut class should be treated equally by the Government to other qauui, especially in Lyallpur,Shekhupura, Sargoda, Montgomery, and Multon. En these districts, there should be more land for Ach6t, more employment.

14. Achut should be able to own the houses where they live, the term rayatnämma and similar terms, should be eliminated. (Rayat Namma) was the term used for servant/ Master, similar to Jajman / Kamin). Achut should not be included in the land transfer Act.
P 14

15. We are not Hindus. We strongly request the government not to list us as such. Our faith is not Hindu, but Ad Dharm. We are not a part of Hinduism, and Hindus are not a part of us.

16. Ad Dharm should be listed separately in the census, and in other ways be given rights equal to Hindu.

17. We want proper representation on municipal councils, dis­trict councils, Legislative Assembly, police and military, and in every other department. We should get separate representation for officers as well.

18. India should not be given swaraj until the Achut are free and equal. Otherwise, it would be a disgrace to the British rule.

19 • The Dayanand Dalat Udhãr Mandal, Hoshiirpur; Patat Udhar Mandal, Antaj Udhir Mandal, Achut Udhär Mandal, Lahore Achut-­they do not represent Achut. They are simply used by upper castes for their own power. 997~ of the Achut have never heard. Of these organizations. They have been formed by the upper castes for their own interests, and the government should be aware of it. The government should not consider these people g~ our representatives.

P 15
20. Red color i~ the symbol of the Ad Dharm. It Ls the color of the original inhabitants; the Aryans took it and pro­hibited Achut from wearing it. We request the government to allow us to wear red colors; we are going to have it; for this is our rightful color.

21. Those sastras, like Manusamiti, which treat Achut as slaves, should be banned and removed. These books have been obsta­cles in our progress.

22. The city of Jullundur has been chosen as the headquarters, and the government is notified to send any announcements, important documents and correspondence for us to the Ad Dharm Handel, Jullundur City.

23. This conference assures the government that we Achut are the well-wishers and true patriots of the English govern­ment. We have been, we are, and we will in the future, remain loyal well-wishers of the government.

24. All Ad Dbarmis should act on these principles and it is their duty to ask their Ad Dharmi brothers to also follow them.

25. The government of Punjab should issue strict warnings to all the branches of government that no one has the right to use Achut people without any wage., or to utilize their services without money payment.

(End of the 25 resolutions passed at the first Ad Dharmi conference, held in Jullundur, 1926.)

P 16
After this conference, many conferences were held. Memorable especially were those at Adatnpur, Jullundur district. They also passed similar resolutions. In November 1926, the Ad Dharm Mandel, Punjab, opened an office in the city of Jullundur, where all the con­ferences of all the districts of Punjab were called, and similar reso­lutions were passed, unanimously. Also, the conferences made sugges­tions for running the Mandal permanently. A newspaper was initiated:
it was called “Adi Denka.” This is the official newspaper of Ad Dharm

To get financial aid, we appealed to all, the organizations and societies in India; but unfortunately, with the exception of the

Jat Path Thorak Mandal,
Lahore, no other organization encouraged us or helped us. We are very grateful to the JPTM for their encourage­ment. But our workers and administrators did not consider it fair to get their money, because we wanted to stand on our own feet.

Five hundred members were appointed as the administrative com­mittee for all the provinces of Punjab, and the names of these members are as follows:

(On pages 16-30 of the Report, each of the 500 hundred names are listed, by village and district. For the sake of brevity, these names are not listed here. The numbers of names, by district, are as follows:]

Hoshiärpur. • . .176 Siälkot. . . . 1
Jul lundur• . .120 Lähore • . 2
LyalLpur. • . • 90 Kangça • . • . 42
Sheikapurä. • .. 1.2 Patiila., State. 1
Ferozepur• . . 1.3 Bikaneer State 2
Ludhiinä. • . • 14 Kapflrthall State 15
Sargoda• . . 15 Bahawalpur State 2
Montgomery. • •. 18 Kapoorthala State . 4
Gurdäspur• • . 14 Melerkotla State 2
MultIn. • . . 10 AmbaIa . 2
Hissär. . • . B 5 Dalhousie. 3
ICarnil. •• . . I Gujrat • . . . 3
Guj ranwäla • . . 2

P 30
En addition to the Punjab, there are members in:
Dehra Dun

Also, members from foreign countries:

New Zealand
Russia etc.
P 214
We are the original people of this country, and our Mazhab [religion] is Ad Dharm. The Hindu qaum came from outside and enslaved us. When the näd [the original sound from the conch I was sounded, all the brothers came together--Chamar, chuhrae, sainsi, Bhanjre, Bhil, all the Achüt~--to make their problems known. Brothers, there are seven crores, 70 Millions of us who are listed as Hindus--separate us, and make us free. We trusted the Hindus, but they turned out to be traitors, brothers. The time has come, wake up; the government is listening to our cries, brothers. Centuries have passed, but we were asleep, brothers. Look at the lines that Manü has written, but he is a murderer. There. Was a time when we ruled India, and we are the children of kings, brothers. We are the real people of India, brothers, and the land used to be ours. The Hindus came from Iran, and destroyed our qauin. They became the owners, and then called us for­eigners, disinheriting seven crores, 70 Millions of people. They turned us into khäna (nomads) they destroyed our history, brothers. The Hindus rewrote our history, brothers. There is hope from God (bhagwan] and help from the king [Badshah]. Send members to the councils and start the qaum anew, brothers. Come together to form a better life.15

Other Ad Dharm versions of the myth of origin emphasize the in­herent Superiority of the Achut qaum over the upper caste qaum. In the beginning, there was a paradise somewhere in North India, in which the original inhabitants [the “Adi”] lived in pleasant equality:
“In the beginning, when nature created human beings, there was no discrimination. There were no differences, and no quarrels. Especially, there were no such concepts as high or low caste. God (Ishwar] was meditating; all was in harmony.

According to the Ad Dharm cosmology, some of these original people (who were the ancestors of the present-day Achut) early mi­grated to Europe, where they became the Aryans, who later would in­vade India and become the higher castes. These Aryans were vastly ignorant and boorish folk: “These people were primitive. They lived in trees, cave, ate bark arid leaves, and had no spiritual life. They lived as shepherds and hunters, and had no sense of qaum [nationhood]. 17

Meanwhile, the present-day Achut were at the height of civiliza­tion, in the plains of Northern India:
“Peoples of the world considered our land as the crown of success, and paid tribute to us and our achievements. They respected and bowed down to our kings. There was no enemy, no foe, no fear of foreign invaders, and no signs of inter­nal dissention . . . during this time of our great achievement.”18

But then the Aryans came and destroyed the civilization, scat­tered and subjugated the original people:

There were many wars – six Hundred years of fighting – and then the Aryans defeated our ancestors the local inhabitants. Our forefathers, the inhabitants of our glorious motherland, were pushed back in to the Jungle and into the mounnntains. Some of them stayed and asked for mercy; they were enslaved.19



First Annual Conference 11-12 June Sunday-Monday 1927 We are the original people of this country, and our mazhab (religion] is Ad Dharm. The Hindu qaum came from outside and enslaved us.

When the Näd (the original sound from the conch) was sounded, all the brothers came together--chamar:, chuhrae, sainsi, Bhanjre, bhil, all the Achüt--to make their problems known. Brothers, there are seven Crores(70 Millions) of us who are listed as Hindus--separate us, and wake us free. We trusted the Hindus, but they turned out to be traitors, brothers. The time has come, wake up; the government is listening to our cries, brothers. Centuries have passed, but we were asleep, brothers. Look at the lines that Manu has written, but he is a murderer. There was a time when we ruled India, and we are the children of kings, brothers. We are the real people of India, brothers, and the land used to be ours. The Hindus came from Iran, and destroyed our qaum. They became the foreigners, and then called us foreigners, disinheriting seven Crores (70 Millions) f people. They turned us into khana badosh [nomad) They destroy our history brothers. The Hindus rewrote our history, brothers. There is hope from God [bhagwan] and help from the king [bãdshah]. Send members to the councils and start the qaum anew, brothers. Come together to form a better life. Destroy the matters of caste and creed, brothers. We have a generous government above brothers, so get, and us together and save the Ad Dharin qautn. Those who are murdering us will not listen to our complaints. Brothers, get together and pray to Bhagwmn rGodJ that the British rule may be eternal. Other than the government, no one has helped us, throughout the ages. A new successor to the throne (wait-shed] La about to visit us, and he is coming specifically to listen to the complaints of the people. They are coming to give us our rights, so we should be thankful.

Mangoo Rain and chand are requesting that the dissatisfaction and grumbling will be dispelled.

Do not call yourselves Hindus brothers you are all Ad Dharm.
Possession of Mangoo Ram of Garhshankar, Hoshilrpur district Punjab, who kindly allowed me to photograph it. The text, of the original is in the form of poetry, and is written in Punjabi language, Gurmukhi script. It was translated with the cooperation of Mr. Surjit Singh Guraya.J

The Ad Dharm myth continues the story beyond the arrival of the Aryans and the destruction of the original people’s civilization. The original people (the Achut) were subjugated with “so much cruelty and injustice” that they “forgot their own identity i”hasti” ,,21 From there, the story pauses briefly to denounce Manu (the legendary codifier of Hindu law), and moves swiftly into the present period. Not without surprise, we discover that those Aryan’s modern descen­dants are doing to the descendants of the original people much what they have done before. There is merit awarded to the British govern­ment and the Mogul government, who attempted to help the original people. Christianity is also viewed with favor, at least obliquely, in that they challenged the control of the Aryan Hindu: “Christianity tried to attract all qaum, and especially the low castes, because the Achüt are orphan kind of peop1e - - - Swami Bayanand realized that Christianity was digging a hole in the foundation of Hinduism which would destroy the whole building.

By Sir John Marshali, Director-General of Archaeology in India, might well have been an incentive for the myth constructions of the Ad Dharm leaders: “Of what race or races were the authors of this Indus civi­lization, and what was their religion In the present state of our knowledge only the vaguest answers to either question can be returned. The skeletal remains . . . comprised the pre-Aryan Dravidians of India as well as many other peoples.

“Big cities with teeming populations like Harappa and Mohenjo­daro could never have existed save in an agricultural country which was producing its own food on a large scale . . . there are strong reasons for inferring that the rainfall in Sind and the Western Punjab was ‘hen substantially heavier than it Ls now.

“The paucity of weapons at both Harappa and Mohenjo-daro is surprising.
“It is a foregone conclusion that this great civilization of the Indus must have made itself felt far to the East as veil as to the West.”

[Sir John Marshall, “India of 5,000 Years Ago, Part Two,” in the Tribune, Lahore, vol. XLVIII, no. 30, February 5, 1928, p. 5.1 ____

P 53

Ad Dharmis on the Way to Progress.
Since the Betting U~ of the’ Ad Dharm Mandal of Punjab in Jullundur City, much progress has been made. There have been meetings held and resolutions made all, over the Punjab; the attendance has been in the thousands. Especially in Hoshiärpur district and tehsil Desuä, the people were most active in arranging the conferences. The people of teshil Desuä mostly met the expenses of this organization.

In the last five years, at least 1,500 conferences were arranged. The result of these Ls that the AD religion in known by everyone and it is now possible for people to eat and socialite together. Social reform has made progress--especially in marriage ceremonies, cleanli­ness, hygienic preparation of food, and in education.. At least 50,000. AD children are getting education in various schools. We want to thank the Education Minister from our hearts. Because of our count­less requests, he paid attention, and granted free concessions for school tuition up to the primary level (grade LV). After the (grade IV) only half-fee. Scholarships will be Rs. 5 more than for other minority peoples (Rs. 13/month rather than Rs. 8/month). Also they pay Ad Dharamis Achut teachers will be 25/ month rather than 20 month.
We thank the officers, especially those of Jullundur Division, for this act of kindness. They have treated us with great respect; but we especially want to thank Mr. Chaudhri Sadrudin Khan, former inspec­tor and ex-headmaster of Normal Schools, for in one year he had a special class of 40 AD students, who are now teachers. The AD nation will always be grateful to him, even the little AD children will sing his praises.

Couplet: If I had as many tongues in my body as hair, I could not thank you enough.
P 54
God has certainly helped the Ad Dharmis, for when we were at the lowest pit of degradation, God sent to us Lord Montmore, the Governor of Punjab, so kind and Loving a ruler. Alt the tights and hope we are being given is due to this angel of mercy which God has sent to us, in the form of the Governor of Punjab.

We pray earnestly for his long life. Untouchability and the caste system, and the eating taboos, were a gift of the Brähmans’ God; we hope to send that gift right back to them. “We hope to become free and united.”

We hope that eating taboos will be removed, and this ghost of Untouchability will be sunk along with the Nehru Report, in the River Rävi. AU Untouchables will look at each other’s as caste brothers, and share each other’s misery; and among Bilmikis, Rivi. Dissis, Kabir­panthis there is no discrimination of any kind.

P 55-57

The Proof of Sympathy.
There are people who, for. Thousands of years have been exploit­ing the Untouchable people economically and socially, and preventing them from taking their rightful place in society. When our nation (qaum) found this out, we tried to pull our people up, and those other people put stones in our path. They tried to stop a running train. They used all kinds of tricks. They will take money and subscrip­tions for so-called Untouchable reform movements, but instead, they take the money and fill their own bellies without doing anything for us. To give an example, during the census count, if anyone even mentioned the word Ad Dharmi, they wouldn’t let us. These people say they are our brothers, but they treat us like eats and dogs. Especi­ally the Akali Jatt Sikh people would start making trouble for us during the census, if we started saying we were Ad Dharmis. They would trap us in our houses with thorny branches placed in out doors; they wouldn’t let us go to the wells for water. They wouldn’t let us buy goods from shops. They called us names, harassed us; and wouldn’t let our cattle out to feed. Our young daughters out on the roads were raped and insulted. Sometimes they burned our houses, looted and plundered. Wouldn’t give us wages for six months to a year. They took our cattle. They threw straw into our houses, ignited it, tried to burn us alive; and wouldn’t let us drink the dirty water From the village pond. Sound the ponds, there will, be Sikh volun­teers to guard the dirty pond. Without reason, they would have trumped up legal charges, and threaten us with guns, pistols, swords, etc. Our children were starving without food or water, but these upper class people had no mercy. Their fathers would go to the jungal and cut grass for food; then the Sikh volunteers would break our cooking utensils.

But in spite of all this harassment during the census taking, the Ad Dharmi people still broadcast their message. The Such Patwä­ris (village registrars), obeying the orders of the capitalists, would register us as Sikhs regardless of what we said. Some Mohaui~’eãn people, however, helped us, especially Dr. Peroz-ud-din Ahed, Presi­dent of “Hamdard Hindu Injamin Admadiya” [The Ahmadiya’s Hindu-Sympa­thizers Organization], of Kith Garh, Batilä, Sheikapura, Ludhiinä, Lyaupur, Gurdispur, and Jullundur.

P 58
Dangers to the Ad Dharm Movement
At the present, the Ad Dharm movement is faced with many dangers, which may be harmful to the Mandal. For example:
1. Dayanand Dalat Udhär, Hoshiarpur
2. Patat Udhar
3. Antaj Udhar
4. Achut Udhir, and other mandals.
They are trying to delude people and side-track their interests. To get money for themselves, they beg from the people. There is a say­ing, “don’t be afraid of the bad man, but be afraid of his bad deeds.” Therefore, we oppose the bad character and dishonest of these organi­zations, which present a threat to us. These organizations have taught many of our workers to work against their own consciences. Also, there are workers who use the name of Ad [harm Mandal, but take the money for them. This is the second danger.

The third dan5er is the attacks on the Ad Dharm Mandal, Jullundur, by workers and prachãrak of other organizations. The Ad Dharm Mandal is the only true representative of the Achiit, but since its inception it has been subject to these attacks, through writings and speeches. They have tried to stop our movement, and have been attempting t* woo away our innocent pracharak with fancy promises of green gardens and beautiful songs. Those people who were bragging about Achüt reform have been proven dishonest; they are actually fortifying the wall of Hindu prejudice. En the guise of helping the Achut they are only helping themselves. There is no more truth in their claims than there is fragrance in a paper flower. The Achut will no longer con­sider any of these Mandals as their representatives. Those Achut who were deluded, have now left those movements and are joining the Ad Dharm movement by the thousands.

P 60
The fourth danger--the greatest danger of all--is in the villages where the pure Hindu and Sikhs make it difficult for the Achut to keep his own hasti (identity]. In the olden times, the Ad Dharmi people were dependent upon them, and so considered themselves Hindus and Sikhs. The Ad Dharmi people were victims of the Hindus’ and Sikhs’ greed. Now, it is the age of freedom and light, and the Ad Dharmis have realized their mistake. So instead of being exploited by them, the Achut try to establish their own identity, as in the last census, when they chose to be described as Ad Dharmi rather than as Sikhs and Hindus. As a reprisal, shameful and degrading treatment has been meted. Out to the Ad Dharmis, which may be a forerunner of a permanent danger. Therefore, the Hindus and the Sikh pose the greatest threat to us, and in the future, they viii continue to try to crush our movement.

P 61

The Present Demands of the Ad Dharm Mandal
1. We request to the present government to establish Ad Dharm as separate from Hindus.
Ad Dharmis are not Hindus. Hindus have tricked our people; so in the past censuses, they let themselves be described as Hindus and Sikhs, which is completely wrong. Hindu mazhab [religion) and Ad Dharm mazhab [religion] are absolutely separate.

2. During the present census taking, those villages dominated by Hindus and Sikhs forced Ad Dharmis to claim that they were Hindus and Sikhs, even when the Ad Dharmis protested. This should be inves­tigated; and the census should be revised to indicate the correct number. In those cases where “Chuhra” or “Chamar” were listed in­stead of “Ad Dharmi,” or in those cases where the caste was listed as Ad Dharmi but the religion was listed as Hindu, the correct list­ing shou1d be only Ad Dharmi

3. Since the beginning of the present census taking, the news­papers have mentioned the harassment of the Hindus and Sikhs against the Ad Dharmis. These reports should be investigated.

4. From ancient times until now, the Ad Dharm qaum [people] were: zariat peshã [land cultivators]; but after they lost their rule their dealings have been with the zamindir [land owners]. But actu­ally, Ad Dharmi is zariat peshä, and should be listed as such in the Land Exchange Act by government action. We should be treated as a separate qaum, and receive special arrangements for land ownership.
P 62

5. The Ad Dharm people are among the most loyal people of India, and should be given the right of citizenship and property. The houses that they have been living in, from ancient times, should be considered their own houses. The Ad Dharm people, from ancient times have been victims of unemployment. Without Sarmäya (capital], they could not be capi­talists. Therefore the Ad Dharmis have been poor, and have not had the strength to face Sikhs, Hindus, and others with means. We have no land, so we request that the land measured as 15 million cultivable acres, which is lying unused in the hands of the Punjab government, should be given to Ad Dharm people under the same conditions that land is given to other people.

In the army and the police, the rights given to others
“There were many wars. Six hundred years of fighting. And then the Aryans finally defeated our ancestors, the local inhabitants. Our forefathers, the inhabitants of our glori­ous motherland, were pushed back into the jungle, and into the mountains. Some of them stayed, and asked for mercy; they were enslaved.”19

The similarities between this story, and some archaeologists’ suggestions about what happened to the pre-Aryan Harappan civiliza­tion jYi N5~’f!h !mJLi Lu 1700 D.C., are more than striking.20 In fact, the whole “Adi” myth may well have been inspired and informed t~ y the scholarly theories on the Harappan Civilization, which were rife at the time. Sir John Marshall discovered the site of Harappi in 1921, in Montgomery district of the Punjab. Perhaps it is only coincidence that the Ad Dharm and the other Adi movements began soon after that, and that nearby Lyallpur district became one of the strongest bases of support for the Ad Dharm movement. None­theless, the newspapers of the Punjab were full of speculation about the I[arappan findings during the early 1920’s, and the question * Remains open. The original announcement of the Harappan finds is promirif”Itly published in the Lahore Tribune, vol. XLI, September, 1921. The Mohenjo-daro excavations were also exciting news. A full-page article Should also be given to the Ad Dharmis. Direct conviction as officers, and responsible posts should be given to us. And just as other qaum has had regiments named in their honor, we should have an army or police regiment named after us, under Ad Dharmi leadership.

8. Even though on the railway board, we have representation, it has not been in proportion to the percentage of our people to the population, as is the case with other people. So we should be given more positions, not just tokenism.

[p. 63)
9. In municipalities, district boards, and other such depart­ments, other qautn have received proportionate representation. We also should receive that.

10. In the next election, in all, municipalities and the dis­trict boards, and assemblies, we should receive 187. Representation.

11. In Normal Schools, those Ad Dharmi boys who graduate with good qualifications and degrees, ought to be guaranteed positions. Ad Dharmi boys ought to feel proud of their achievements, and that they are helping their qaum.

12 As long as India’s weak minorities--especially Ad Dharmis and the Mohenjo-daro people--are not given full representation, and there is no guarantee of their proper treatment, there should be no change in the central government.

13. Along with Hindus, Mohamadans, Sikhs, Jews, Parole, Christians, Buddhists, and Jams, we the Ad Dharmi should be classi­fied as a separate religion.

14. We inform the Punjab Government Labor Board that the Ad Dharmi are the laboring class people, and that because of the com­pletely unjustified agitation about swaraj (Independence, we are even more unemployed. We request the government to think of us as laboring class people, and get us work.

[p. 64)

15. In Hindu schools, our children are being ignored or are forced to learn Hindu ideas. They are treated with so much hatred; they have to leave the school. So we request the government to give us separate schools so we. do not have to put up with this harassment. If a government inspector comes to these schools and says something good about an Ad Dharml child, or if a teacher says something good about an Ad Dharmi child, there is hatred towards that child. We have received many cases of bad Hindu and Sikh treatment of our chil­dren. We need separate schools so that our children can learn about their background; these schools should have Ad Dharmi administrators and teachers, so that our children are properly taken care of.

P 627
16. In some villages bigär (slave labor) is forced from Ad Dharmis; this should be investigated and that activity stopped.

17. There are no Ad Dharmis represented on the village panchäyäts, so we should boycott those decisions. We ought to be represented, in proportion to our population. These panchlylts have no status, and we are not under obligation to obey them.

18. In those villages where Hindus and Sikhs are in power, we want to find out how many Ad Dharmis have been forced to give their religion as Hindus and Sikhs. Also these poor people are having trouble in surviving, receiving torture, etc., afraid of life and property. The government should make arrangements for where they can live.

19. There are organizations, which use the name of Untouchables, but actually exploit them. Primarily Dayanani Dälät Udhar Mandal, Hoshiärpur; Antaj Udhär; Patat Udhär; Achüt Udhar Mandal, Lahore; and others. These are some of the names that these organizations are taking; they use catchy names and attract funds, but actually they are exploiting the people. Sometimes they may buUd a •ch~gI. Qi dLg s u~11, kuI: they are interested in ttieir own people, not the Ad Dharmi people. The government ought to intervene and investigate these Mandals, these jamayat (organizations], to see whether the organiza­tions actually do what they say they do, so that this sort of trickery might be ended. We are the only true representatives of the Achut qaum [people]. These other jamayat [groups] are dis-uniting and mis­leading our people.

20. It is true that the children of the Ad Dharm qaum (people] do not pay any tuition up to Primary (grade IV), but after that they have to pay half tuition. That is too much for Borne families. The government ought to be generous in granting scholarships, so our boys can stand on their own feet and compete with the Hindus, Sikhs, and others on an equal basis.

[p. 66)

21. In India, especially Punjab, we Ad iJharmLs are weak in edu­cation compared to the other qaum (peoples], therefore any system of joint electorates would be very harmful, because we would not have a sense of fair play. So we request the government to abolish joint electorates, which are impractical, and establish separate electorates.

22. Our qauuu mostly works with leather. All over Hindustan [India], we tan hides and prepare raw leather, but we do not make any more from it • the word chamar comes from two words-- ‘chaniri” meaning leather, and ‘kir’ meaning to make. So we request the government, if they have need of shoes and boots for their army, police, and industry, and if they want the best kind of leather, they should come directly

P 628
To us the Ad Dharm Mandal of Jullundur City and not deal with some medium. The government will, save money and gets better quality leather.
Further, they ought to remember that leather comes from our labor, and we who work with leather ought to get the benefit of it.

23. For imdad-bahmi [cooperative help], there are many banks; but especially in the villages, these banks are only for those people who have land, which we do not. So we want banks opened for our advantage also.

24. For bail, we ought to get the same rights as others. We are not given bail. Hindus and Sikhs will not give us bail. For this reason some of our small businesses have had to close, without bail. It should be possible for one Ad Dharmi to guarantee bail for another Ad Dharmi. We should not have to go to a Hindu or Sikh to bail. us out.

25. Our people are industrious and industrial.. We till, weave, and make leather. We should not be called “criminal minorities.” We should not be put in the category of jaräyam peshä (criminals],

26. The Ad Dharmi qaum people have suffered from unjust professional taxes Levied by the district board and the municipalities. It was done on behalf of the village landlords and the other officials. In none of these offices were Ad Dharmis represented. Since Ad Dharmi people are not represented on any of these boards, no tax of any kind should be levied. Moreover, the Ad Dharmi people are too poor to pay it.

27. Anything regarding the Ad Dharmi qaum (people--letters, mail, and documents--should be addressed to: Ad Dharm Mandal Jultundur City This is the only Mandal. (Organization] which is the true representative of the Ad Dharm cause. It has been there for the last six years.

The Expenses of Ad Dharm Mandal.
People have been asking questions about where the Ad Dharm Mandal gets its operating expenses. Most people see~n to accept the idea that it comes from an illegal. Source, otherwise, we would not get the money to stand on our feet. They think someone must be help­ing us.

So, we should explain clearly, without a doubt, that the Mandal supports itself. The workers of the mandal go from house to house, village to village, collecting the money from the Achut barädari [brotherhood].

The Mandal volunteers from the beginning have never accepted money from any society or any government. In the future, they will continue to keep it that way. But, regardless of what we say, we know that in the minds of Hindus and Sikhs, the idea persists that we get our money from the government. This is a blatant lie. As a matter of fact, these Hindus think that the Mohauedans founded by the government--or the Ad Dharm.

There is a famous saying, “he who is a thief thinks everyone is a thief.” These proud, selfish upper caste people ought to look in their own back yards; they have been mistreating the Ad Dharmis for centuries and are not willing to admit it. If the Ad Dharmis are separating themselves from the upper castes, it is only the fault of the bad treatment of the Hindus and the Sikhs. The world is changing; they do not realize that we are trying to change ourselves with the world. Everybody else is fighting for freedom, why shouldn’t we? Why are the upper castes so envious and jealous of our progress? The Hindus and Sikhs just want us to be their faithful and loyal dogs. We tell them in ringing clear terms: neither government, Mohamdans or Christians have any influence in our movement. We are simply asserting ourselves. We see the speed at which thik’gs are changing in the world today, so we simply ask for our rights. We are askin8 the 5QverQuoIIL to give US the rights were given to other minor­ities of India.

So at this point no qaum [people) or mazhab [religious group] ought to raise objections. People like the Ad Dharmis are trying to improve themselves through their own efforts. Everyone ought to feel happy about this.

There is a managing committee of 600 members. They bring in the money by themselves, or from their brothers at the meetings. We keep account of all income and expenses.

Those People Who Took Refuge In Ad Dharm:

The numbers of other Quams (peoples], which have joined us, are as follows:
Jam - 2
Brähman - 20
Arya Samij - 5,000
Sikhs - 350,000
Christianity - 2,000
Mohaumnedan - 10

An Account of Income and Expenditure of the Ad Dharm Mandal. Punlab Jullundur City.
Closely identified as the author of the Ramayana to be very strongly linked to Chuhra solidarity; the Ri.shi became, instead, a symbol of assimilation. Harijan identity in the Congress and proletariat unity in the Marxist movements is too closely touched with upper-caste alignment to be strong bases for Scheduled Caste solidarity strategies; but they provide a sense of solidarity nonetheless.

In summary, the strategy of solidarity has been successful in the following ways:

a. Numerically. About two million Punjab Scheduled CasteMembers have been involved in the movements, a third of the total

Number of Scheduied Gagt~ m~he,~a.
b. through organization. Village-level workers have been particularly effective, as have newspapers, in giving a Punjab­wide consciousness of caste unity.The numbers of participants in the movements are approximately as follows. The figures are from the height of the movements’ strength, regardless of date. Figures for Christianity and Ad Dharm are from the censuses, adjusted for non-census followers; other figures have been computed from the movements’ records (Radhasoami, Arya Samaj, Ambedkar, Congress, CPI/cPI-M), and by approximation (Valmiki, middle class).
Christianity (inc. West Punjab) 600,000 Ad Dharm 1,000,000 Ambedkar movements 10,000 Radhasoami 200,000 Arya Samaj 10,000 Valmiki Sabha 100,000 Congress (KaUjan wing) 10,000 CPI/CPI-M 10,000 Middle class 10,000
TOTAL 1,950,000
Alignment The major issue in assessing this strategy is whether the Scheduled Castes aligned with useful parties, and how tangible were the benefits. This strategy assumes a society in which there is conflict; and in which the strategic goals are those of reform. To the Scheduled Castes, the perceived conflict was among the dominant elements in society, the reform was toward more egalitarian economic, social, and political structures.
The British, while they were around, were favored subjects for alignment. The benefits were considerable, and tangible. The army, the government institutions, the missionary schools and hospitals, all offered the possibilities of employment with­out much concerrn about caste Illusionary causation offered other benefits. Individuals aligned themselves with the British; Christianity, as a Scheduled Caste movement, was the most obvious group effort at alignment to secure the more tangible benefits, as well as to seek the total social and spiritual alternative, which Christianity provided.
Alignment with the British was done also in more subtle ways, for more subtle benefits. The Ad I3harm ‘s friendship with the British, and that of Ambedkar, provided several advantages to the Scheduled Castes: a) the British gave them protection to organize, through police, the legal system, and the umbrella security of a government free from the local systems of social control; b) alignment with British gave the Scheduled Castes some leverage against the upper castes, by asserting their independence from upper caste control, and demonstrating that the lower castes

Variation Percentage
1891. 1911 1921 1911-21
Saint worshipers 345, 318 139, 573 -59.6
Dadu Panthi. 7,314 11,324 386 70.8
Gugapir 35,344 4,859 1,812 -62.7
Kabir Panthi 108, 951 89,254 46,505 -47.9
Kalu Panthi 85,400 36,406 21,257 - 41.6
Namabansl. 972 5,471 + 462.9
Pakuji 6,226 5,347 -14.1
Panj piria 77,685 27,363 -64.8
Rai Dasia 106, 770 27,158 -74.6
Ram Raya 52,458 2,001 201 -90.0
Sewak Darya 948 19, 821 4,073 -79.5

Sects of low castes 981,311 14,424 -6.8
BALMIKI 315,674 221,104 -30.0
Lalbegi 466,172 449,991 -3.5
Ramdasia 349,242 199,465 239,99 +20.3
Balashahi --------- 3,330 +100.0

Reform sects 130,195 239,890 +84.3
Arya 100,783 223,153 121.4
Brahmo 700 305 -56.4
Dev Dharm 3,094 3,597 -16.3
Nanak Panthi 21,756 9,723 -55.3
Radhasawami 3,862 3,112 -19.4
Sikh sects
Mazhabi 4,058 726 2,305 +217.5
Ram Dasia
(Keshdharis) 20,863 8,106 10,568 +30.4
Radhasawami 424 378 -10.8
Ram Dasia 1,752 2,206 209
(Sahajdharis: 1,752 2,206 209 -90.5
Sikh Raidasias)
Source:1921. Census, Punjab, Vol. XX, chap. IV, pp. 180-81, and 1891 Census, Punjab, Vol. XIX, chap. IV, pp. 100 ff.

P 597
A Note about This Translation:
The following report was translated from the original, written in Urdu script, and containing a polyglot vocabulary of Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and English. The translation was prepared in cooperation with Mr. Surjit Singh Goraya and Mr. Hassan Hamdani; I accept res­ponsibility for the final English version, and any mistakes, which may be contained herein. Mr. L.R. Bailey of Jullundur City, Punjab, made the original copy of this report available to me from his personal library; I wish to express my great appreciation to Mr. Bailey for his kind cooperation. To my knowledge, there are no other existing copies of this report available, either in public or private libraries.

This translation is rather fluid; it was made with the inten­tion of keeping the spirit and meaning of the original report intact, while rendering it in easily understandable English. Some words do not translate easily. Where words are difficult to translate, we have maintained the original word, with our recommended English Translation in bracket.. The interesting term 10qauun,” is usually translated as “people,” although it might reasonably also be trans­lated as “nation,” “religious community,” or even “ethnic group.” “Achut,” when used to describe the concept of religious impurity, is translated as “Untouchable,” without reference to the original word; the original word is used, however, when the word refers to the Achuit as a people, as in the “Achflt qaum.” “India” sometimes is “Bharat,” sometimes “Hlindustan.” There are several words used for religion; we distinguish between “maahab” and “dharm,” and leave in the original other philosophic or special concepts, which might be open to interpretation. In romanization of the original terms and personal names, we have attempted to be as simple as possible. We use lines to distin­guish between a short “a” and a long “i, “. And between a short “u” and a long “ii.” In some cases, dots underneath a consonant indicate that it is retroflex, or that there is an aspirated “s.” For some personal names, we have retained the individual’s preference for romanized spelling; Mangoo Ram, for example, prefers his name spelled that way. Similarly, certain other proper names are spelled in customary fashion; Punjab, for example, rather than Panj~b, and Ad Dharm rather than Rd Dharm.

Page numbers in brackets indicate the page in the original re­port, with the title page preceding page 1. There have been no significant omissions from this translation of the Ad Dharm Report--the only exceptions are two lists of names omitted for the sake of brevity. This is also true, curiously, among many of those members scheduled Castes who have left India and attempted to make r fortunes abroad. Especially around 1940, when an enthusiastic follower of Dr. Ambedkar became the Punjab government official in charge of issuing passports, there was a stampede for

And among certain sub-castes of (Chamars from the Jullundur Area. Perhaps as many as 50,000 Scheduled Caste members
Live in England, especially in the Wolver Hampton (Birmingham) Middlesex (London) areas. However, there are perhaps 200,000
Caste Punjabis mostly Sikh living in the same area, whom also have come from the Jullundur area of the Punjab. migrated against by the British, the Sikhs pass the disfavor The Scheduled Castes who prescient their own pubs which are mocked as “Chamar pubs” by the Sikhs. It was in next of casteisrn in England that the new Ad Dharma arose 0; the disappointment with the failure of separatism’s Ic goal gave rise to a renewed movement for identity and it. In summary, the strategy of separatism has been successfully in its failure. The disillusionment over the impose­ of real detachment from the old identities and the old incident, which I learned about through interviews, is Described in chapter VI of this study.

Figures (207. of the total Indian population in the U.K.) related from information supplied by the Office of the High Commissioner in Birmingham, and from estimates of those Caste leaders whom I interviewed in England in July 1971. For its genre, no group in the Punjab can equal Radhasoami. In stature And following. Only Nirankari comes close, and Nirankari, associated With Sikhism, is an atypical case?

Almost half of Radhasoami’s followers are from Scheduled Castes, by the present guru’s own estimate; 103 and although they may have been accepted into the movement, absolute equality comes slowly. The single Scheduled Caste member on the 11-member Trust Committee is also a Member of Pariiament--Sadhu Ram, the former Ad Dharmi, Ambed­karite, and Congressman--who cannot justly be considered a ghetto Untouchable. The majority of the Scheduled Caste member’s living at the Dera is servants. The langar, or dining hail, is a special Problem; until five years ago, separate dining halls were maintained for upper castes and lower castes. The fact that the Radhasoami’s organization does show preference, not along overt caste lines, but toward the rich and success­ful, and this has the de facto effect of restricting poorer Sched­uled Castes, not unlike the way the Northerners in the United States unwittingly discriminate against American Blacks. The President of the Trust Committee is the Rani of a former princely state in Gwalior, and the members of the Committee are distinguished government of facials or businessmen, over half of whom do not live in the Punjab, where the majority of the followers reside; the cost of a place in the Dera starts at Rs. 8,800 (or at the very cheapest, a few old 106 places sell for Rs. 3,500), much beyond the means of the average Scheduled Caste member. So from the standpoint of wealth and privi­lege, the Radhasoami Dera is not a very egalitarian place at all. Nonetheless, involvement in Radhasoami is a new phenomenon for West End Road, Soutball, which was known, pejoratively, as the “Chamarwali pub” because of the nature of its clientele. Fights broke out between the Sikhs and the Chamars, in factories and pubs; there have even been allegations of killings related to caste tension. The British did not seem to notice these matters; they discriminated against all of the Indians equally. The Scheduled Castes, in turn, seemed indifferent to the British attitudes; Chamars had grown up with the experience of caste and racial prejudice. But the Sikhs were genuinely irritated, and took their irritation out on each other and on the Chamars. The Sikhs separated into varying rival camps; there were the Amritsar Jats and the Doab Jats and the Malwa Jats from Ludbiana, each with their own Gurdwaras.

The artisan caste Sikhs had their separate Gurdwaras as well; one for the Ramgarhias Carpenter caste and another for the Bharteas But the Chamars felt that they were not welcome within any of the Sikh Gurdwaras The Scheduled Castes came to Britain expecting to find life dif­ferent, in some way, and were not pleased with the Sikhs’ attitudes towards them. The Chamars earned as much as the British occasionally placed the Sikhs, sometimes more; and them as foremen over Sikh work crews, to the great disdain of the Sikhs. The Sikhs tried to explain to the British factory supervisors about the dic­tates of custom; and the Chamars responded, in at least one of these instances, with a lawsuit against the Sikhs.’26

The Scheduled Castes acted more bravely in Britain than in the Punjab, perhaps because they felt that their caste community in Britain was placed into a new context of competition against the Closely-knit and compatible leadership team, and with an ideology which clearly emphasized the distinctive separateness of the Achut qaum. There were organizational gains to be made by this purifica­tion process, but some losses as veil--they may have alienated an important segment of Scheduled Caste leadership, and boxed in their strategic options for compromise and coalition in the future.

2. Securinz an identity. 1929-1931: the zreat census.
Having settled, for the time, the identity issue, the Ad Dharm proceeded into the busiest couple years of its history. The confer­ences and demonstrations came fast; and, as we have previously noted, the organization made its greatest expansion during this time, with the establishment of a dozen branch organizations. It was a time of treat political activity in the Punjab, with the various British government commissions forming the foci for communal politics and government appeals; as we shall soon see, the Ad Dharm was in the midst of that, as well. But the event that loomed the largest in the Byes of the Ad Dharm Leaders were the census of 1931: “our big trial.”~ The census was a big trial for the Ad Dharm for several reasons: recognition by the census would imply a certain legitimacy for the Ad Dharm, in the eyes of the upper castes, as well as for the Ad Dharm followers; a large census tabulation would prove their numerical strength, or, conversely, betray it; and perhaps most important, a sizable number of people recording themselves as “Ad Dharm” would indicate that Mangoo Ram and his Jullundur team had considerable control over the Masses, and thus enhance considerably the leadership’ Importance and ability to negotiate effectively with government and the other movements. Earlier, Msngoo Ram had mentioned three inherent powers of the poor: quiet (communal pride), mazhab (religion), and majlia (organization). The census returns could indicate maui. in a big way; thus the census was an indicator or power, and potentially a creator of power as well.

On October 10, 1929, the Ad Dharm leaders brought before the Government the notion of having Ad Dharm listed as a separate reli­gion on the census. The suggestion was accepted, to the great sus­picion of many upper caste observers, who felt that the Government had its own reasons for wanting to support fissiparous tendencies on the part of the Untouchables. In the Census Report of 1931, the Government states explicitly that it included the Ad Dharm only at k. ~ a~ hi and the Ad Dharin Mandal; “The Punjab Ad-Dharm Handal had petitioned the Punjab Gov­ernment before the census operations started in 1930, re­presenting that the depressed classes should be permitted to return Ad-Dharmi as their religion at the time of the census as they were the aborigines of India and ~uhi1a the Hindus kept them at a respectable distance they did not believe in the Hindu religion. The President of the Pun­jab Ad-Dharm Mandel was informed that a clause was being provided in the Census Code requiring that persons return­ing their religion as Ad-Dharm would be recorded as Achut27

Even if the government had reasons of its own for listing the Ad Dharm in the census rolls, the demand for separate census recog­nition had been an original one for the Ad Dharm, and lay close to the rationale for their existence. At the first Ad Dharm conference, these resolutions were passed:

“We are not Hindus. We strongly request the government not to list us as such. Our faith is not Hindu, but Ad Dharm. We are not a part of Hinduism, and Hindus are not a part of us. The Ad Dharmi should be listed separately in the census, and in other ways be given rights equal to Hindu.”28

With the acceptance of Ad Dharm on the census lists as a bona fide religious community, the first hurdle had been traversed. It was then necessary to make good the implications of that recognition, by insuring a massive number of respondents claiming Ad Dharm, in­deed, as. Their natal religion. This took much doing. In fact, the great build-up of Ad Dharm as an organization--the branch offices and the scores of workers in the villages--developed at this time precisely for the purpose of maintaining a good showing at the cen­sus. One of the few resources of the poor i.e their sheer numbers; and Ad Dharm was determined to turn that resource into a form of power.

The Part was not lost on the other major religious communities
of the Punjab. What Macgoo Ram might stand to gain through the cen­sus would be partially at the expense of the Sikhs and Hindus, for it would be from their communities that the Untouchable names be lost. For the Sikhs and Hindus, also, the census was a form of power, since the communal seats in government councils were based, in part, by the numbers of persons listed as members of the respec­tive religious communities. Thus, the bush beating of the Ad Dharm workers during the census polling in 1930 was not looked upon with kindness or detachment by the upper castes. This account, in the Ad Dharm Rei,ort, indicates the violence and tension of the period:

“During the census count, if anyone even mentioned the word Ad Dbarmi, they wouldn’t let us. These people say they are out brothers, but they treat us like cats and dogs. Especi­ally the Akali Sikh people would start making trouble for Us during the census, if we started saying we were Ad Dharmis. They would trap us in our houses with thorny branches placed in our doors; they wouldn’t let us go to the wells for water. They wouldn’t let us buy goods from shops. They called us names, harassed us; and wouldn’t let our cattle out to feed. Our young daughters out on the roads were raped and insulted. Sometimes they burned our houses, looted and plundered. Wouldn’t give us wages for six months to a year. They took our cattle. They threw straw into our houses, ignited it, tried to burn us alive; and wouldn’t let us drink the dirty water from the village pond. Around the ponds, there mould is a Sikh volunteer to guard the dirty pond. Without reason, they would have trumped up legal charges, and threaten us with guns, pistols, swords, etc. Our children were starving without food or water, but these upper class people had no mercy. Their fathers would go to the jangle. [Wastelands] and cut grass for food; then the volunteers would break our cooking utensils. But in spite of all of this harassment during the census-taking, the Ad Dharmi people still broadcast their message.”29

As the Ad Dharm Report clearly indicates, the Sikhs seemed to take the threat from the Achut more seriously than the Hindus. Ac­cording to one witness, “the Hindus were treating the Sikh a badly, by taking some of their people into Hindu census rolls, so the Sikhs

Ad Dharm Indicate the violence and tension of the period:
During the census operations, in early 1931, an incident at Nankana Sahib, the Sikh shrine at the birthplace of Guru Nanak, exacerbated the already dreadful relations between the Ad Dharmis and the Sikhs. The Ad Dharmis were holding a rally to encourage people to list their religion as Ad Dharm, and to mourn the death of several Achut who had been killed by upper caste Sikhs at that site. The such alleg­edly broke up the rally by destroying the kitchen where the meals For the rally were being prepared, throwing the hot rice at the participants, and beating up several of the Ad Dharmis. In other Places, two Ad Dhartmis were killed because they encouraged people to record their religion as Ad Dharm. on the census. These Incidents Were widely publicized by the Ad Dharm, as a way of dramatizing their plight, and urging the importance of the Scheduled Castes recording Ad Dharm as their religion. As one participant stated it:

“Recording our religion as Ad Dharm Lu the census was an act of great sacrifice.”33

The Ad Dharmis did, however, persevere • the census period may have been the high watermark of Ad Dharm spirit and popularity. Ad Dharm workers would go from village to village, urging the Achut to go to the census recorders with red armbands and turbans. This song summarizes the spirit: “Leave the bickering behind, and tie your turban red we do not have to record any qaum other than our over So, Ad Dharmi, be strong. The effort was amazingly effective. The final total of Ad Dharmis reported in the 1931 Puujab Census was 418,789.~~ That num­ber was roughly equal to the numbers of Christians in the Punjab; and Christianity had been converting Punjab Untouchables for over fifty years, whereas Mangoo Ram matched them in only five. In Jul­lundur district, eighty percent of the Scheduled Castes reported themselves as Ad Dharmi, and in Hoshiarpur the figure was almost as high. A half dozen other districts registered at least half of their Scheduled Caste population as Ad Dharm~ and there were high percen­tages in many other districts (a quick summary of the returns is revealed in the statistics and map included earlier in chapters). The census report, under the heading, “Revolt of the Untouchables­ Described the victory as follows:

“There has been in the last few years a movement among the untouchable classes to organize themselves as a separate community in order to consolidate their position, and many of them have returned themselves, particularly in the cen­tral districts, Jullundur and Hoshiatpur, as Ad-Dharmi or the followers of Ad-Dharmis, meaning the ancient or original religion of Hinduatan.”36

Elsewhere, the census report, under the heading “A 5ev Religion,” Mentions Ad Dharm thusly:

“The most notable feature of the present census from the standpoint of return of religion has been the adoption of the term ‘Ad-Dharmi’ by numerous Chamaru end Chuhras and other untouchables.”3 7

The total number of Ad Dharmis, compared with the total popula­tion of the entire Punjab, was not overwhelming, however. The per­centage was only about 1.5 percent, perhaps only a tenth of the total numbers of Scheduled Castes in the Punjab. The Ad Dharm leaders claimed that the widespread intimidation against those wanting to record themselves as Ad Dharmi prohibited more names from being com­piled. According to the Ad Dharm Report:

“PurLn5 ~e proven~ c~u-takiu~1 those villages domi­nated by Hindus and akfls forced Ad Dharmis cc claim that they were Hindu and Sikh, even when the Ad Dharmis pro­tested. This should be investigated; and the census should be revised to indicate the correct number. In those cases where “Chuhre” or “Chamar” were listed as Ad Dharmi. But the religion wan listed as Hindu the correct listing should be only Ad Dharmi.”38

Independent newspapers, and the Census Report itself, also con­curred with the allegations of intimidation against the Scheduled Castes during the census recording. There was also a rumor that the village patwaris (record keepers) and other census takers simply ignored the Scheduled Castes response to the questions, and put down whatever they wished. Consequently, many Ad Dharm leaders felt that the actual number of those who wanted to record their names as Ad Dbarm may have been at least four times that of the actual tabu­lation--two million instead of less than a half million.4’ And they may veil have been right. “In the army and the police, the rights given to others should also be given to the Ad Dharmis . . . Just as other qaum have had regiments named in their honor, we should have an army or police regiment named after us, under Ad Dharmi leadership •‘t46

c. Economic demands. These demands ranged from general requests to relieve unemployment, to this very specific request, directed to the government:

“If they have need of shoes and boots for their army, police, and industry, and if they want the best kind of leather, they should come directly to us, the Ad Dharm Mandal of Jullundur City, and not deal with some medium; the government will save money and get better quality leather “47

A more typical economic request, however, and perhaps a bit more thoughtful one, is contained in these excerpts from a letter of Man­goo Ram to the Governor of Punjab, written in English:

“I beg your Excellency to consider about (the Untouchables’] pitiable conditions and allow them to settle in some un­cultivated pi~n~ of land, which they will cultivate, and Thus relieve them from the severe clutches of the cruel. They will be most thankful to Your Excellency and pray for the prosperity of the benign Government through out their lives.

“For Your Excellency’s information I beg to add that I have already submitted such reports to the local author­ities concerned but in-vain, because the authorities are also high class people or the application is not forwarded by the sub-ordinates who also belong to the same community.

“I shall be highly obliged for the kind act, which Your Excellency will under-take in case of these poverty stricken people.”48

Educational demands. In general, there were requests for more schools, reserved seats for Scheduled Caste children, and special
Scholarships to allow the children to attend school. One demand went *a bit further, however and requested separate schools:
A comparison between the Ad Dharm’s arguments for separate education, and the recent demands for separate ethnic studies depart­ments in American colleges, is interesting. “In Hindu schools, our children are being ignored or are forced to learn Hindu ideas. They are treated with so much hatred; they have to leave the school. So we request the government to give us separate schools so we do not have to put up with this harassment. If a government inspector comes to these schools and says something good about an Ad Dharmi child, or if a teacher says something good about an Ad Dharmi child, there is hatred towards that child. We have received many cases of bad Hindu and Sikh treatment of our children. We need separate schools so that our children can learn about their background; these schools should have Ad Dharmi administrators and teachers, so that our children are prop­erly taken care of.”49

i.e. Demands for general social reform. These demands called for an end to “bigar” (forced labor),50 and for the government to no longer regard the Scheduled Castes as “castes,” but as “the laboring class.”51 There were also miscellaneous demands against harassment, prejudice, and the like.

Some of these demands appeared to have been met. Or more accu­rately, the conditions to which Mangoo Ram referred were alleviated, and Mangoo Ram took credit for having prompted government into the change. The government recognition of the demand for Ad Dharm’ s listing on the census was obviously something for which Mangoo Rem could, indeed, take some credit. But the Ad Dharm for Scheduled Caste positions in government councils and government jobs may, or may not, has influenced the government’s increased allowances. The case of education is similarly uncertain. Nonetheless, Mangoo Ram was quick to announce victory at each government concession:

“At least 50,000 Ad Dharm children are getting education in various schools. We want to thank the Education Minister from our hearts. Because of our countless requests, he paid attention, and granted free concessions for school tuition up to the primary level (grade IV). After the grade IV only half-fee. Scholarships will be rs 5 more than for other minority peoples (rs 13/month rather than rs 8/month). Also, the pay of Ad Dharm teachers will be rs 25/month rather than rs 20/month. We thank the officers, especially those of Jullundur division, for this act of kindness. They have treated us with great respect; but we especially want to thank Mr. Chaudhri Sadrudin 1Qian, former inspector and ex-headmaster of Normal Schools, for in one year he had a special class of forty Ad Dharm students, who are now teachers. The Ad Dharm qaum will always be grateful to him; even the little Ad Dharm chil­dren will sing his praises:
If I had as many tongues in my body as hair,
I could not thank you enough.”52

The demands were formulated at the mass conferences and rallies of the Ad Dharm movement, and presented to the government by Mangoo Rem and the other leaders in special delegations~ The occasion of government commissions and public hearings also presented an oppor­tunity to air grievances and present demands. As N.G. Barrier has noted, these commission hearings were political events in India; they stirred communal and parochial interests, by presenting a forum for their hearings.53

Perhaps the most significant of the commission hearin5u were those of the Simon Commission, in 1928. The Indian Statutory Com­mission, called “The Simon Commission,” after Sir John Simon, the chairman, was the British government’s attempt to inquire into the workings of the Government of India Act of 1919, to see whether the patterns of diarchy, communal representation and the like, were satisfactory. It was touted as the forerunner to even more sweeping reforms, and the emergence of semi-autonomy for the Indian gov­ernment; but because only British were on the Commission, the Indian National Congress and other nation­alist elements boycotted the hear­ings.

On February 24 - 27, 1928, on the eve of the hearings, there was a meeting of the “All India Depressed Classes Conference” in

Especially those of Jullundur division, for this act of kindness. They have treated us with great respect; but we especially want to thank Mr. Chaudhri Sadrudin Than, former inspector and ex-headmaster of Normal Schools, for in one year he had a special class of forty Ad Dharm students, who are now teachers. The Ad Dharm qaum will always be grateful to him; even the little Ad Dharmi chil­dren will sing his praises:
If I had as many tongues in my body as hair,
I could not thank you enough.”52

The demands were formulated at the mass conferences and rallies the Ad Dharm movement, and presented to the government by Mangoo in and the other leaders in special delegations~ The occasion of lenient commissions and public hearings also presented an opportunity to air grievances and present demands. As N.G. Barrier has said, these commission hearings were political events in India; they feared communal and parochial interests, by presenting a forum for their hearings.53

Perhaps the most significant of the commission hearings were Simon Commission, in 1928. The Indian Statutory Corrosion, called “The Simon Commission,” after Sir John Simon, the Birman, was the British government’s attempt to inquire into the markings of the Government of India Act of 1919, to see whether the terns of diarchy, communal representation and the like, were satisfactory. It was touted as the forerunner to even more sweep reforms, and the emergence of semi-autonomy for the Indian government; but because only British were on the Commission, the hearings were boycotted by the Indian National Congress and other nation’s elements.

On February 24 - 27, 1928, on the eve of the hearings, there s a meeting of the “All India Depressed Classes Conference” in the newspapers at the time, but they did attract the attention of some of the upper caste organizations. A member of the Indian National Congress remembers the appearance of the Ad Dharmis in Lahore during the Simon Commission hearings with some disdain:

“There we were with our big procession, chanting ‘Simon Commission Murdabad,t* and there was Mangoo Ram with his procession, chanting ‘Simon Commission Zindabad. i*~ 62

According to the Ad Dharm Report.. Mangoo Rain and the delegation presented a list of demands to the Simon Commission in “written form and in speeches.”63 In fact, the Ad Dharin delegation even printed their memorandum in three languages (English, Urdu and Gurmukhi), in two editions, by the thousands of copies. Considering all this effort, and the obvious importance to which the Ad Dharin regarded the event, it seems to be something of a pity that there is no indi cation whatsoever that the Ad Dharm delegation actually met the Com­mission. The official record of the hearings has printed in full, the Memoranda and discussion of those delegations appearing before the Commission, but the Ad Dharm is not one of them. This is all the more curious in light of the fact that groups similar to the Ad Dharm appeared before the Connection in other parts of India- -Bombay, Lucknow, and Madras, for examples. But not Punjab. There was apparently some display of unhappiness over the ab­sence of any Scheduled Caste delegation at the Lahore hearings of the Simon Commission. The newspapers report a Sunder Singh com­plaining about the matter; the reply from the Commission was that time was short, and since M.C. Rajah was on the central committee,

“Destroy the Simon Commission,” and “Long live the Simon Corn mission,” respectively. Sort earlier described, plead for support of the Ad Dharin’s argument for qaum status, and assurances that, as quid pro guo, there would be Ad Dharin support for the crown. The Ad Dharm made it quite clear that they were prepared to sup­port the government to embarrassing lengths. The arrival of a new British officer to the Punjab would be the occasion for Ad Dharm Messages of welcome and support. The praise of some British offi­cials was almost religious:

“God has certainly helped the Ad Dharmis, for when we were at the lowest pit of degradation, God sent to us Lord Montmore, the Governor of Punjab, so kind and loving a ruler. All the rights and hope we are being given is due to this angel of mercy, which God has sent to us, in the form of the Governor of the Punjab. We pray earnestly for his long life.”76

Support of the British apparently had a double logic: on one hand, there were direct and positive benefits to be gained by govern­ment policy. And, on the other hand, the government could be used to assert the Achut’s independence from the dominance of the upper castes. The government also had something to gain from supporting the Ad Dharm; for it maintained a loyal community, the Achut, while at the same time keeping that communality from being aligned with a hostile one--the nationalist upper castes.

The Ad Dharm for several reasons, therefore, opposed the Congress movement. Congress was anti-British; and the British had become Ad Dharm’ a friend. Moreover, Congress was dominated by upper caste Hindus, whom the Ad Dharm feared would use whatever power they might accrue in order to dominate the Achut even more. In other words, the Ad Dharm did not want independence, if independence meant government by the upper caste Hindus; they would rather take their chances with the British. The ~Lp!i ~Reoi.t said as much: pushing and shoving; one thing lead to another, and before the day had ended, the Ad Dharmis had broken up the heavy kilns for making salt, beaten up some of the Congressmen, and stolen some of the pots and kettles.83

That incident was perhaps the most violent, but there were other occasions on which the Ad Dharm would appear as obstacles to the goals of Congress. Their response to Nehru’s call for the abol­ishment of separate electorates for all but Muslims, in 1928, is summed up in this statement:

“We hope that . . . the ghost of Untouchability will be sunk, along with the Nehru Report, in the River

During the Round Table Conferences in London in 1930 to 1932, Mangoo Ran sent telegrams to Dr. Ambedkar pledging the Ad Dharm’s support. And when the Round Table Conference talks collapsed in disagreement over separate electorates for the Untouchables7 the Ad Dharm strongly supported Dr. Ambedkar’s position against Gandhi.

Gandhi’s response to the attempt to impose a system of separate electorates for the Untouchable community was as dramatic as it was strong. Gandhi vowed to “fast unto death,” and began, in September 20, 1932, his “epic fast. Perhaps for the first time in India, a crisis of national proportions was centered upon the plight of the Untouchables. As one historian overstated the situation, “it threw the country into a state of alarm, consternation and confusion.

Gandhi’s position was, no doubt, sincerely maintained in the best interest of the Untouchables; he felt that separate electorates would prolong the division of society into caste and Scheduled Caste. Some Scheduled Caste leaders, including the venerable M.C. Rajah, sided.