Apart from not touching untouchables or not eating with them, there was no feeling in the masses that they (Dalits) were separate from us.
The best analogy of the Dalits are blacks in the American South. If you won’t touch, eat or sleep with someone how can you claim any sort of kinship or connection to them?
Let’s not also forget that they were the ones who handled excrements and corpses (I could be wrong about the latter).
As my Kashmiri activist friends said the Indian state has a “territorialist” view of Kashmir in that the land not its inhabitants are vital.
The commentator above is exhibiting the same “territorial” nationalism; the Dalits belong not because they do but rather they are a part of the all-important landmass.
In some ways Pakistan is exactly opposite since we are nation rooted in a sense of “peoplehood” as evidenced by the Muhajir migration. We don’t have the Taj, Delhi or Lucknow but they are more ours since we have an intensely spiritual (and ancestral) kinship to those lost locations.
We are watching the film Kesari by Akshay Kumar. This is where Sikh collaborators, serving the British, were holding off the Afghan attack. The Hinditva tones of the film (we are only twenty minutes in) are breath-taking and I’m shocked to see Dharma Productions backing this (Hiroo Johar was in the credits).
However one scene that took my breath away was when Akshay Kumar is moaning about freedom after being humiliated by his British officer. He tells his colleague that “first we were conquered by the Mughals, then by the British but I thirst for freedom.”
I was shocked and frankly a bit horrified. Good luck to this Brave New India where historical revision is now par for the course.