Sulabh Founder Bindeshwar Pathak Moots "Freedom OF Choosing Own Caste" Model
New Delhi, July 12 (TNA) With an aim to further improve social streamlining ,well known Social reformer and Mentor of Sulabh Sanitation and Social Reform Movement, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak has devised a novel experiment, in which people will have the freedom to choose their own caste, as they have the freedom to change their religion.
While delivering his lecture through Zoom network Dr. Pathak recounted his pathbreaking initiatives through which the age old practice of casteism and inequality have been checked in recent years.
The theme of this webinar was “Earlier Human Scavengers Now Brahmins: A Social Upgradation Programme to Choose One’s own caste”. Several scholars and liberated “Untouchable ladies “ exchanged their experiences .
Dr. Pathak conducted this experiment in the two towns of Rajasthan—Alwar and Tonk—with the women who earlier worked as manual scavengers. He took these women out of the subhuman work of cleaning human excreta and provided them the opportunity to read and write.
To empower and equip them with alternative employment, Dr. Pathak set up a Vocational Training Centre named ‘Nai Disha’ in Alwar and Tonk, where the formerly human scavengers were given basic education and trained in trades such as tailoring clothes, carpet-making, namada handicraft, making pickles and papad, facials and beauty enhancement, etc.
The women, who were earlier, treated worse than dogs, discarded as ‘untouchables’, whose even shadows were to be avoided, now successfully sell their eatables in those houses where they earlier worked as manual scavengers. Earlier, they would earn every month hardly Rs. 200-300, whereas now they earn handsomely and lead a dignified and happy life.
In the same houses where they would earlier enter by backdoors to clean and carry away human excreta, now they freely go to the kitchen to make tea, which they sip with the ladies of the house, and they also do their facials, etc., thus dismantling all social distances.
He helped more than 200 emancipated women scavengers by taking bath in the river Ganga in Varanasi, he helped them enter the Vishwanath temple and offer prayers, he also helped them take auspicious bath on the occasion of Kumbh in Prayag and Ujjain. He helped them sit together and take meal with the people of Brahmin community, and thus he fulfilled the dreams of Gandhi and Ambedkar.
To bolster the morale of these emancipated and resettled women, and in a gesture to show respect and harmony for all religions, he took these women to the Brahma Mandir of Pushkar and to the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer Sharif as well as to the Churches and Gurudwaras in New Delhi, where these people offered their prayers and sought divine blessings for their golden future.
Now these women lead a life like any high-caste people, they joyously celebrate festivals, and they participate with dignity, like other invited guests, in the religious rites and social events being held at the houses of upper-caste people.
In the year 2008, Dr. Pathak took 36 such women to the city of New York, where on the occasion of International Day of Sanitation, they participated in the Fashion Show, held at the headquarters of the United Nations, and they walked the ramp with the internationally celebrated models. They visited the ‘Statue of Liberty’ and declared that they were no longer untouchables!
As a consequence of this campaign aimed at bringing together people of different castes, the people so-called untouchables visit the homes of the so-called upper-caste people on occasions like weddings, and vice versa, and thus they forge a new social bond and happiness with each other.
Dr. Pathak initiated a historic move on October 5, 2016, when he got them draped these women in yellow clothes and proclaimed these women as ‘Brahmins’. They have undergone a change of religion, as they have been invested with the sacred mantras. Now they recite mantras fluently, introducing themselves as knowledgeable and well-versed in rituals. After accepting the Brahmin caste, they now add ‘Sharma’ with their names.
Dr. Pathak was of the view that one can willingly change one’s caste, like one’s religion. He made it clear how this experiment was bringing about a new revolution and how this transformation was increasingly being accepted by the society.