15.1.10

Excrement and Advertising

A Dalit has alleged that some “high caste Christians’’ forced him to eat human excreta. Sadayandi told the Batalagundu police that over 10 people stopped him on January 7 and asked if he was unaware of the “order’’ that Dalits should not walk with chappals in their street. “One of them suggested that I should be fed human excreta. Immediately, another person brought the excreta in a stick and thrust it into my mouth,’’ he alleged. They also applied it on his face, he said. “In fact, unable to bear the shame, I wanted to commit suicide. But my relatives stopped me,’’ he said.


Thus far the high-caste/Dalit debate has centred on Hindus. The high-caste Christian angle is a bit difficult to digest, but not implausible.

Christianity, like other religions, does have its hierarchies. Many Dalits have left the mainstream Hindu fold and we aligned themselves with other faiths. Christianity is a huge attraction for several reasons, not least of all the missionary appeal. However, for the true-blue Christians this ‘immigration’ could prove to be not quite in order and they might recoil at the thought of bad blood. We are talking about Tamil Nadu, which is conservative in many ways, and it includes the religiosity of its practitioners from every stream.

Are the Christians mimicking an age-old caste system from another faith?

One of the accused has denied the charge. Is he right? Why do I even ask? That itself reveals my stereotypes of this being a bit unusual. At a political level, however, it could have been set up. Human cruelty is universal but this high-caste business is not so ingrained in Christianity as it is in Hinduism or the Shia-Sunni divide is in Islam.

I also say this because the wearing of footwear is not prohibited even inside churches and there has never been any issue about that. Are we talking about ghettoes here?

Whoever does it, there must be very stringent action taken. We are really excluding people not only from opportunities but also public space that no one has proprietary right over.

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It is unfortunate that in the regional fight, even when a party like the Shiv Sena has a valid point it has to cow down.

The BMC wanted to feature Sachin Tendulkar in its ‘Save-Water Campaign’; The Shiv Sena opposed it as it did any celebrity endorsement.
Think about it and it will make sense. It is possible that they already have a grouse against Sachin. It is possible to ask whether they would have the same stand had it been Nana Patekar or even Balasaheb himself. But forget these hypothetical queries for the moment.

We have celebrities advertising high-end products and public service campaigns that require an objective nudging, like polio or eye donation. Water is a huge problem and its dimensions are beyond just individuals sitting before the telly or in cinema halls and taking a break to see this promo. It does not work.

Water is not a commodity to buy or something we can give away. It is a necessity that is in severe short supply for people who have to wait in queues to fill up buckets. So, who is supposed to be saving?

After the hullabaloo, the SS has decided to go ahead and use Sachin along with a slum-dweller. I hope he will address his types to save water for the other’s types. That is the reality. The wastage occurs in big places – industrial houses, hotels, massive fountains, bungalows, and careless usage in apartment blocks.

The last time they talked about the 24 hour water stoppage, I remember we had filled up very available bucket and empty vessel and the water was running in taps. Even if one tried using up the stored water, it became difficult and one ended up using more just to make the vessel available.

There has to be more done at the level of the municipality. The discussion ought not to be about Sachin and whether he should or not feature in the ad. I go for not because people will just watch him and the slum-dweller and say ‘Aaila’ with awe…and that’s about it. What happens to all the drenching and enjoying themselves images of cricketers? We really aren’t looking for a Marie Antoinette moment, are we?

3 comments:

  1. The Sena is muscle flexing again. Tendulkar is an easy target. Indians do get taken in by celebrities so this just might work!

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  2. Farzana,
    In response to your statement :
    "Are the Christians mimicking an age-old caste system from another faith?"
    Well, so strong is our Caste system that Christians and Muslims both have already done it. So , in a perverse way Caste system is truly faith agnostic. :-)
    Cheers,
    Mahesh.

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  3. Ameya:

    This was not to justify the SS at all. Tendulkar in fact is not as easy target because there are other Marathi maanus considerations. Celeb endorsements work for some products; this is a larger issue.

    Mahesh:

    Haha, true. It means that Christians and Muslims are not only being appeased, they are also sponging off ancient culture :)

    PS: Just wanted to make sure you did not take my comment about 'ah so communal' on the 'Battle for religion' post amiss. It was said in jest.

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