Articles

Why Should Dalit-Bahujans and Adivasis Do Research?

 

Yashwant Zagade

yashwant zagadeDuring my masters programme, after class one day, I was having tea with my classmates. We were discussing about the research topic for our masters programme. An upper caste friend of mine expressed interest in working on the plight of Dalits. My other Dalit friend responded by asking, "Why don't you rather study your own caste? Why can't you see your caste as a subject of research?"

This discussion forced me to think seriously and reflect critically on research, research topics, and their politics. Sometime later, I read an article by Gopal Guru, 'How Egalitarian are the Social Sciences in India?' It further opened my eyes to the politics of doing research.

My journey in search of truth had landed me in Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Mumbai, for a masters programme in Social Work, with specialisation in Dalit and Tribal Studies. Here, I took the first lessons in doing research. Before TISS, I was working as a full-time activist in a Left-oriented people's movement. I joined TISS thinking that I would go back to the field after completing the masters programme. But the first day of my masters programme began with an emphasis on the importance of doing research in bringing social change. This idea was new to me and my background as an activist did not allow me to take this idea seriously. But later, the entire academic culture of TISS and my faculty in particular: bodhi s.r, Alex Akhup and Suryakant Waghmore, influenced me to take up research seriously. As a result, I decided to continue with my higher studies in the field of research. We had to do compulsory research during our masters, which I did, but I was not happy with my efforts and desperately wanted to continue in research in order to do better. With this thought, I took admission for the integrated M.Phil-PhD programme.

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Differentiating the Hindi subject: Bhojpuri experience

 

Asha Singh

asha singh 1Questions of linguistic autonomy and annihilation of caste-gender oppressions are crucial for the struggles of an emerging Bahujan public sphere in Bhojpuri speaking regions. Ali Anwar, the Pasmanda Muslim Parliamentarian from the Bhojpuri region has often been in the forefront of asserting Bhojpuri autonomy in the Parliament.

Within the Bhojpuri public sphere, Hindi is conceived either as a ‘colonizer’ or as a ‘nationalist’. These conceptions are often informed by the caste location and ideology of the conceiver. K.D. Upadhyaya, one of the foremost Bhojpuri socio-linguist, framed Bhojpuri as a language which would only strengthen the National Hindi. On the other hand, Bhojpuri has been also conceptualized as a language displaced by Hindi colonization. The latter view is gaining ground and strength. In this context, the Dravidian Movement does provide a historical and strategic text to further elaborate this position.

In such an exercise, it would become important to historically trace how Hindi was utilized by the native colonial elite in the so-called ‘Hindi’ heartland. The Vernacular Education Commissions of the late 19th century provides evidence of how the Brahmanical elite of Bihar (part of Bengal presidency) perceived Bhojpuri. George Grierson deposed that the upper castes of the region perceived Bhojpuri as a language of the ‘Doms and Dusadhs’ (lowered-castes) and thus incapable of greatness. On the other hand, Grierson held Bhojpuri and other Bihari languages as the gateway to the East and even categorized them separately. He even proposed the possibility of a common grammar for these languages.

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Castes of Cricket in India

 

Rajesh Komath

This short write-up is motivated by the recent discussions in social media on the demand for reservations in Indian cricket team, put forward by the Union Minister for Social Justice Shri. Ramdas Athawale. The Minister's thrust of the demand was that the national cricket body BCCI should provide reservations to SC and ST sportspersons to provide equal opportunity in the international sport. He argued that "perhaps reservation to SC, ST persons in the team would have ensured better performance". As the minister for social justice, he also affirmed that his party would vote for a move to implement reservation in cricket for SCs and STs, if the Central government comes with a similar bill in the Parliament.

baloo palwankar

Baloo Palwankar

On July 2nd, a few newspapers and online magazines carried the news both positively and negatively. The positive headlines carried were 'Ramdas Athawale calls for reservations for SC, ST in Indian cricket team' (Hindustan Times, July 1, 2017) 'Ramdas Athawale demands reservations for SCs, STs in Indian cricket team' (The New Indian Express, July 2, 2017). However, 'Union Minister Ramdas Athawale Now Wants Reservations For SC, ST in Team India! What On Earth Is He Thinking?' (Indiatimes, July 2, 2017, Sports) connotes the negative attitude of the media. The emphasis on 'now wants' might be due to the Minister's earlier demand for separate Vidarbha state.

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Why did Dalit become the mascot for the caste system?

 

Gaurav Somwanshi

gaurav2

 This piece is in continuation with its previous part, the fourth question in a series of seven, but it can be read independently too. This is going to be the longest question to attempt an answer.  

4. You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger.” ~ James Baldwin1

Before we take up the question, let us look at how one engages with one’s own identity of belonging to an oppressed background, and though I speak from a personal angle I hope it will be relatable. My own assertion of who I am, and also a rejection of who I am not, takes place in response to the strains of casteism around me. Let’s look at two such strains.

In the first case, there will be a constant onslaught by the caste society of who they think I am, like an “SC with no merit”, and this is most readily relatable when your surrounding society is orthodox upper-caste. In such instances, rejection of what they say I am is my assertion. In the second case, the situation isn’t so different when your surrounding is liberal upper-caste. In this second strain of casteism, as I became more vocal on caste, there was a constant downpouring of “we’re all humans”, and an acknowledgment of my social location will be denied. Past is past, they’ll tell me. This happens because a major part of the Brahminical ploy has been to erase the history while keeping everything else intact, and as Kuffir wrote, Indian history is such a colossal crime because by depriving the Dalit-Bahujans of any past, it steals their future too. So, quite often, we find ourselves alienated in our own country, as Babasaheb spoke to Gandhi, Gandhiji, I have no homeland2. And not knowing how much we have been and still are been wronged and robbed off, we tend to locate any problem or incapacity within ourselves, in our abilities, in our own capacity to be humans. In such instances, the assertion of one’s social location is paramount to rejecting the caste-society’s erasure of you.

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Bahujan students' language and education

 

Tejas Harad

tejas haradWe don't have to take special efforts to learn the language that's spoken in our homes. Going to a school is not a precondition for a person to learn to speak and understand a particular language. But if one wishes to learn reading and writing, there is no option but to go to school. Our school system lays a stress on reading and writing. A student's evaluation depends on a great deal on how well that student can read and write. Because if one wants to score good marks, a student has to read textbooks and write well in the examination. Therefore language becomes a crucial factor in education.

My mother tongue is Marathi and I also studied in Marathi medium school till 10th standard. But the Marathi I spoke at home, and the Marathi of the textbooks were not the same. Our dialect does not have the letter ळ (ḷa). In our dialect the word Kamaḷa (कमळ) is spoken as Kamala (कमल), Śhāḷā (शाळा) as śhālā (शाला) and bāḷa (बाळ) as bālā (बाला). The letter ṇa (ण) also doesn't exist in our dialect. Therefore, phaṇasa (फणस) becomes phanasa (फनस) and bāṇa (बाण) becomes bāna (बान). I learned to pronounce the letter ळ by third–fourth standard. But by the time I learned to make the distinction between न (na) and ण, I was already in 9th standard. Some of my classmates never learned these extra letters. They probably did not even feel the need to. As with letters, it's the same with some words. In my dialect lagna (लग्न) is lagīna (लगीन), rakta (रक्त) is ragata (रगत) and vihīra (विहीर) is ira (इर). Since the local dialect didn't exactly match the textbook language, students faced a lot of problems.

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