Dalits’ motto to claim accounting of their history and freedom at any cost

The debate of whether or not to declare oneself as a “Dalit” or whether or not to use the word “Dalit” continues.  The debate is primarily based on the visualization of the word from a status-quoist’s perspective that favors a ‘degrading’ meaning to bring a feeling of shamefulness among those referred by the word. However, those fighting for a change against the status-quo for social justice see it differently in that the word actually refers to a historical segment of those people who were victimized through manifold oppressions in Nepal by the society and the state for centuries. Carrying on with a historical meaning, the word carries weight to put tremendous pressure on the perpetrators of oppression, who should have necessarily realized that historical injustice has occurred. Once this realized from heart and mind, the perpetrators would not venture repeating that historical injustice. This, in turn, provides a platform of identity for those affected by the historical injustice. So, the actual debate is underpinned in whether to have a distinct identity or simply try to be diluted in the mainstream population as incognito, though the latter remains no longer as the option given that all other ethnic groups, irrespective of being majority or minority, are currently voicing for their  ethnic identity and self-determination.

There are many ways an ethnic identity can be expressed. I would like to bring up one example of expressing an identity of nationality from a case in Canada.

180px-Coat_of_arms_of_Québec_svg 200px-Quebec_1992_license_plate

The Coat of Arms and all motor vehicle number plates in the Canadian province of Quebec bear the Motto of Quebec, “Je Me Souviens” in French (translated as “I do remember” in English).  This verse was originally written and carved in Quebec’s Provincial Parliament building by the building architect Eugène-Étienne Taché in 1883. This three word motto, “Je me souviens” in their simple economy of expression is said to mean “Yes, we remember. We remember the past and its lessons, the past and its misfortunes, the past and its glories” is considered worth more than the most eloquent speeches”. Wikipedia mentions that in 1955, the historian Mason Wade added his opinion by writing: “When the French Canadian says “Je me souviens”, he not only remembers the days of New France but also the fact that he belongs to a conquered people”. For quite some time after realizing the meaning of this motto “Je Me Souviens”, I have been looking for a parallel motto for the most oppressed people of Nepal, known as “Dalits”. Now, I have come across the verse by Aahuti in his Gahungoro Afrikaa, his poetry collection, saying, “I claim the accounting of humiliated history. At any cost I claim freedom.” In this verse, Aahuti has been direct in his expression, but to be candid this is what we all want. It is high time we use the word “Dalit” directed towards the meaning and intention of this verse as a motto to claim Dalit rights through accounting of the history of their misfortunes and claiming freedom at any cost. In this way, even the ill-intentioned one will not dare demeaning Dalits.

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