A few days ago, I watched a film, “Article 15” What do I tell you! In my opinion,this is the best Bollywood movies released till date in 2019 Not only does this movie highlight the reality of issues like casteism, it brings forth real issues in front of you Rather, the story line of this movie is very entertaining, thrilling and suspenseful too In this aeticel, I’d like to show you real issues and reality of the incidents shown in this movie Seeing which is going to shock you at the condition of our country regarding casteism in 2019.
The people who live in cities. Whenever we talk about caste in the urban areas the first thing to click in people’s minds is caste based reservation Whenever the issue of caste is raised, then mostly, the entire discussion revolves around reservation This is the reason that whenever bollywood movies were made By the way, not a lot of movies have been made on casteism in Bollywood But whenever caste was talked about, then issues like reservation were more focussed upon For example, this movie, “Aarakshan” In my opinion, it was a great movie, representing reservation from both the sides But that too, mostly talked about reservation Issues like caste discrimination has not been brought up by a lot of movies.
Reality of Casteism
I won’t give out any movie spoilers or ruin the storyline for you Rather, I’d like to talk about certain specific scenes of the movie For instance, right at the start there was a scene when Aayushman Khurana was passing by a village He stops the car and says that they should buy a bottle of water from the village ahead (They should) buy bottled water The people sitting in his car advise him against doing so because the village was that of lower caste people The water is inside the bottle yet he should not buy it because it would be dirty! You’d think, how’s this possible in reality? The water is bottled. Why should anyone have a problem then? Such things can’t happen for real In reality, this is a news of just two days ago, In Uttar Pradesh, during the times of water crisis, the water tankers that go into the villages of upper caste the lower caste people are not even allowed to touch it Look at this, this is a report from merely two days ago The dalits are not allowed to even touch the handpumps installed in the villages of the upper caste people And this is a situation in the midst of a water crisis, when people are in dire need of water.
There is a scene when a lower class woman narrates that her brother had made food for school children He was employed to do this. But none of the kids in school ate the food The food was thrown away only because the cook was a lower caste person Now, you’d ask whether this is possible for real? This story is indeed the reality This incident is of last year, September, in Uttar Pradesh, the exact same thing happened A lower caste cook had prepared food for children in a government school Only 6 out of the 76 students ate the food. The rest refused to eat. The entire food was thrown away and put to waste Just because the cook belonged to the lower caste Could you imagine, this is the reality of India in 2019? On one hand, people are dying of hunger Uttar Pradesh is a state where people are dying due to malnutrition While on the other hand, food is getting wasted only because a lower caste person cooked it.
There’s another similar scene in the movie when the lower caste people are hit by sticks just because they were stepping inside the temple This is again inspired by real life You need only search on google- “dalit”, “temple” You’d get so many incidents where a dalit or a lower caste person was beaten up for entering a temple This thrashing with sticks in public view is directly inspired by the 2016 Una incident in Gujarat When Dalits were thrashed publicly on camera with sticks just because they were suspected of carrying beef They say reality is stranger than fiction. What’s happening in reality is more surprising when compared to what’s being shown in movies I’s like to tell you about such incidents, which when shown in the movies, or this movie, would make you say that such things can’t happen for real. Its too ridiculous for that On 20th May, 2019, some people belonging to the upper caste killed a 21 year old dalit boy Only because he was sitting on a chair in a wedding and eating with them He was sitting and eating on the chair beside them On 31st May, 2018, a dalit farmer in Gujarat was killed for owning a horse Owning a horse is a matter of privilege. So some people didn’t like this and killed him.
Another critical issue mentioned in the movie was that of manual scavenging Manual scavenging is done by people who go inside sewers to clean them This is a very dangerous thing because a lot of poisonous gases emanate from the sewers and so anyone could die due to lack of oxygen this entails casteism. The majority of people engaged in manual scavenging belong to one specific sub-caste There is a sub-caste even amongst the dalits- “Balmiki”. They are the ones engaged in manual scavenging This is another medium through which casteism is being propagated in our society Manual scavenging was banned in India in 1993 But it continues even today It has been estimated that there are more than 7 lakh manual scavengers in India According to official data, 1 manual scavenger has died every 5 days due to the deadly conditions in the sewers Regarding this, Tamil Nadu is the worst state The highest number of manual scavenging deaths have happened in Tamil Nadu Some states have decided upon ending this To put an end to manual scavenging, machines have been brought in For example, this programme has been started in Delhi.
One interesting thing about this movie is that they have attempted to show the other side too For instance, there is a scene in the movie which shows a subtle criticism of the SC/ST Act Schedule Caste Schedule Tribe Atrocities Act If you’re not aware, there was a lot of controversy last year related to this act When the Supreme Court had brought certain changes in the act and the government tried to undo them The issue, basically is that it is extremely easy to arrest people under this act If any atrocities are committed against the scheduled caste and scheduled tribes, for the purpose of which this act was passed, hence it becomes easy to punish such a person A lot of cases have come forth when this law has been misused by the people of the lower castes against the people of the upper castes Supreme court had inserted a section within this act which stated that the person being accused of committing atrocities against the people of the lower caste Before arresting and lodging an FIR against the accused, an inquiry should be conducted to confirm whether he has actually done it or not Our government does not want this section to remain within this act The government wants the act to remain unmodified.
So you can see how difficult it is to balance this On one hand we see alot of cases where lower caste people are killed and lynched with regard to these things On the other hand we see how easy it is to arrest people under the SC/ST act And this act is also being misused So it is very difficult to balance both But this movie indulged in subtle criticism in the sense that Aayushman Khurana asked everyone their castes A character then pointed out that doing this could get him jailed under the SC/ST act.
Anti Brahman ACT
On the other hand, there have been ongoing protests against this movie with some people demanding a ban In some cities like Kanpur, its screening was stalled Because some Brahman groups feel that this movie is anti Brahman In fact, I’ve read some facebook posts. A lot of people have also posted on the social media that this movie is anti-Hindu Don’t know how this happened, but it has become a fashion nowadays.
You must have noticed that in today’s time if anybody says anything or raises a voice against something, you could talk upon any issue Some people would get angry and declare you anti national and anti-Hindu Time and again these people have called me anti Hindu on certain things One day I’d stated that Ramayan and Mahabharat are mere stories There’s no scientific proof that they existed for real Some people got enraged at this and called me anti- Hindu Interestingly, some people find this movie anti Brahman but they do not realise that the main hero of this movie is a Brahman himself When the hero of the movie is Brahman, how can you find this movie anti- Brahman.
Above all, think about it. According to this logic, the story of Ramayana would also be anti-Hindu because Raavan in it is a Brahman A Brahman was made a villain. And Raavan loses in the Ramayana So, the entire Ramayana would be anti-Brahman and anti-Hindu This logic falls flat Such people, I think, are extremely casteist who have a problem within when issues of casteism are raised It is essential to change their casteist mindset The tendency to drag caste and faith in every issue It is essential to change this And this is an issue that has been raised time and again in the movie which makes us all aware regarding this.
In reality, to solve issues like casteism would require an introspection This is an issue which can be solved only when people bring changes within themselves Making new laws, statutes and acts is not a permanent solution to this No matter how many laws you make, they might be misused and on the other hand, the law would also not be properly implemented if the people in the senior positions are casteist beforehand This matter has also been shown in the movie that what if the police officers themselves are casteist.
Look within your life and observe whether you impart equal treatment to everybody in your life Whether you consider every person to be equal Because you’d be surprised at how some things are casteist. We don’t even realize until that is pinpointed at One good example of this is this picture that went viral a few months back In it, a family is sitting on the seats of a Delhi metro while their maid sits on the floor Now, there was a lot of controversy regarding the actual reason behind the maid sitting on the floor But no matter what the reason is Sometimes it also happens that some lower caste people prefer sitting on the floor owing to their habits There could be any reason. But it is necessary to bring everyone on the same level You must have observed a lot of incidents in daily life that are similar to this metro incident It is very essential to put a stop to such practices You might yourself be doing this at times in real life, unknowingly It is mandatory to bring this equality and treat everyone equally Think about it.