CAA is driven by hate for Muslims and not genuine love for Hindu refugees. A sincere policy for refugees should be driven by humanism and compassion.  

Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad addresses the crowd at Shaheen Bagh. Photo: PTI

Cow worship is arbitrary and so is our belief in the power of panchgavya, a mixture of cow dung, cow urine, milk, ghee and curd used in Hindu rituals.

Like a Brahmin is considered part god, similarly the cow is considered part holy and part animal. The killer of the cow is always an ‘untouchable’.

Call this myth, belief, ideology or religion, but one cannot ignore the arbitrary nature of this hierarchy. Cow is Brahmin and cow killer is untouchable. So when the speaker of Gujarat assembly recently went on to announce that Brahmins have different DNA and are born to bless others, he was merely laying bare the foundations and arbitrary logic of cow worship.

However, citizenship is an idea is based on the principles of equality and justice and it cannot be arbitrary.

Present protests around the Citizenship Amendment Act have brought to the fore once again the emancipatory potential of our constitution and its centrality in the idea of an inclusive India. One of the significant achievements of our constitution has been the conferment of equality, before law.

All, irrespective of their caste, region, religion, gender or class, are treated equally. Our constitution lays foundations for not merely nationalism but also favours cosmopolitanism by having a religion-region-status blind policy towards citizenship.

Citizenship achieved in this form is far more radical than the arbitrary ideals of caste hierarchy and graded inequality that govern our everyday life. We are a society deeply divided and plagued by several social ills, a country where girl child is seen as a burden, where marriage is governed less by love and more by dowry and caste, where temple entry is reserved for touchable castes and contempt towards castes of ‘lower’ origins is normal, where cow is sacred and the rest are ordinary animals.

In several ways, ours is a closed society bounded by hierarchy and disgust towards the lower, so much so that serving eggs in the mid-day meal for poor children is seen as anti-Indian culture. Nowhere in the world is food consumption hierarchically organised and even countries with majority Muslim populations do not ban pork for non-Muslims.

All such social practices are arbitrary but have meaning due to popular belief in the ideology of caste hierarchy and inequality.

We are mostly a closed society and the only social practice that Hindu society has been open about in postcolonial India is open-defecation. Open defecation, too, is governed by laws of caste, as having a toilet inside a home is seen as polluting and against religion.

While our society is plagued with unfreedoms and social-ills, our constitution in contrast holds hope and works as an instrument of transformation. In being secular, the constitution carries and inspires ideas of global citizenship. Equality before law in the constitution is therefore is a radical achievement for Bahujans.

The constitution is about ethics for a humanist India and it is, in various ways, against the spirit of hierarchy that governs our lives where the Brahmin man and the cow are at the top of this hierarchy.

Artwork at a CAA protest. Photo: © Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee

Bahujan ideologues from Ravidas to Jyotiba Phule had foreseen the problem of equality in Brahmanic culture and its urge to continually exclude populations to celebrate the purity and greatness of upper echelons, particularly Brahmins. The arbitrary nature of Brahmanism makes graded inequality and caste hierarchy thrive in India.

On the other hand, the constitution, by laying foundations of equality and justice along with scientific temper, counters the irrational and freakish nature of pure-caste culture.

The constitution of India is thus victory of Bahujans over the over the arbitrary and nihilistic nature of Manuvadi culture.

The arbitrary nature of CAA in conferring hurried citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh is an insidious attempt to isolate Indian Muslims and to demolish the humanist and egalitarian principles of our constitution.

If USA or countries in Europe or even China were to open its borders for oppressed Hindus, most oppressed Hindus would see that as liberation. Recently Scheduled Caste victims of the Una violence wrote to the President of India seeking deportation to a more equal society.

Who would not want to experience equality like Babasaheb Ambedkar did in New York and London?

The government needs to realise that Hindus oppress several ‘low’ caste Hindus in India, and Muslims in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan may also oppress minority and non-conforming Muslims. To assume Muslim majoritarianism is bad only for non-Muslim minorities reflects the poverty of ideas.

CAA is driven by hate for Muslims and not genuine love for Hindu refugees, a sincere policy for refugees should be driven by humanism and compassion.

Not all decisions of government or the Supreme Court are in the best interest of Bahujans. We witnessed this in the case of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in 2018. The Supreme Court diluted the Act and a few protesting Bahujans were shot at and killed in states ruled by BJP. And in 2019, the Supreme Court recalled its ‘wrong’ judgment on the SC/ST Act.

Similarly, protests across India against CAA are a sign of civility and faith in constitutionalism. Bahujan leaders and masses have done well to register their protest and opposition against CAA.

These protests are not merely to save secularism, but also to challenge the imposition of the arbitrary Manuvadi ideology on the progressive, humanistic and transformative constitution of India.

Courtesy The Wire