Dalit scholar Narendra Jadhav, who was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the Modi government, earlier this year, is "seriously contemplating" tabling a bill which would outlaw surnames in an attempt to create a casteless society.
"I am seriously contemplating bringing a private member's bill in Rajya Sabha in the near future. It will be effective," Jadhav told The Times of India. "Unlike in case of Blacks and Whites, you cannot physically distinguish castes. So, the name becomes important. It should be made obligatory to drop family name."
Jadhav, who also worked in Sonia Gandhi's National Advisory Council, and is the author of several books on Dalit icon B.R.. Ambedkar, told TOI that dropping family names would be a "giant step" in creating a casteless, merit-based society.
Jadhav is speaking against the backdrop of rising atrocities against Dalits in the country, including the flogging of four men from their community by cow vigilantes in Gujarat, which has sparked outrage all across the country.
Over the weekend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke out against cow vigilantes and persecution of Dalits. "I would like to tell these people that if you have any problem, if you have to attack, attack me. Stop attacking my Dalit brethren. If you have to shoot, shoot me, but not my Dalit brothers. This game should stop," he said.
Last month, former Speaker of Lok Sabha Meira Kumar, daughter of the late Dalit leader Jagjivan Ram, also suggested that Indians should give up their surnames if they are "really sincere" about caste equality.
"Please give up your surnames. Would you be able to do that? That shows your caste. That shows you still carry caste in your mind," she said.
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