Samata (equality) + Mamata (motherly love) = Samarasta (social harmony)

published on September 8, 2014

Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the contribution of reformers from Kerala like Dalit icon Ayyankali and Sree Narayana Guru and said merely achieving social justice was not enough but there should be social harmony between various sections. He was addressing the 152nd birth anniversary of Ayyankali at a function organised by the Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha (KPMS) that represents the interests of the most oppressed Scheduled Caste community in Kerala.

We have to create systems to end injustice, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday, paying tribute to Ayyankali, the 19th century Dalit reformer from Kerala.

“Mere equality will not do. We have to move a step forward. The final destination is harmony in society. For that we have to have a constantly awakened society.
“To achieve harmony, one has to move together with equality and love for all. We have to take the feeling of self upliftment and that of all coming together to achieve harmony.Till then, harmony in society cannot be achieved,” the Prime Minister said.

“It is this country’s misfortune that for some reason, the contributions of those who had lived for the country has been forgotten,” Modi said. He said had this programme not been organised, many people in the north would not have known who Ayyankali was.

“Mahatma Ayyankali strived for the betterment of the oppressed,” he said. “When he was not given land, he called a meeting on boats,” he said.

He said Mahatma Gandhi was so impressed with the work of Ayyankali that he came to personally meet him. Speaking on the discrimination faced by Dalits, he called for the need to bring in ‘samarasta’ instead of ‘samta’ (equality).

Modi’s emphasis on the contribution of Kerala social reformers from Dalit and backward castes assumes significance as the BJP is trying to trying to make inroads in the state where its vote percentage went up significantly from 6.4 per cent to 10.3 per cent in the Lok Sabha polls.

“While the efforts of social reformers like Ayyankali and Narayana Guru contributed in ending social discrimination in the pre-Independence era in the 19th century, we should be grateful to leaders like BR Ambedkar who ensured that a system is created to give everybody equal rights in society,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister said that the conference organised by Ayyankali in 1913 on the question of upliftment of Dalits was as much a turning point as Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March in 1930.

Modi emphasised that while the country may have achieved equality in terms of providing opportunities to Dalits, there was a need to achieve harmony.

“If we are stuck with only equality, it will not help. For harmony, we will have to make extra efforts,” he said.

Modi said that reformers like Ayyankali and Narayana Guru have contributed immensely towards the upliftment of backward community people in Kerala, where the divisions along social fault lines had also invited an angry reaction from Swami Vivekananda.

The Prime Minister said the coming time is that of a journey to social harmony and achieving that goal was the responsibility of all, politicians, social reformers, teachers, etc. He also praised the efforts of Mahatma Gandhi and Raja Rammohan Roy towards bringing about social change.

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