Mythifying History: A Response to Anand Teltumbde's Reductive Interpretation of Bhima Koregaon

 

Gaurav Somwanshi

gaurav2I'll save the trouble of rhetoric and get straight to the points. Though I'm posting paras and countering them, I'll keep in mind the context too which the author refers to in his article.

 1. Anand Teltumbde: "But when Babasaheb Ambedkar painted the Battle of Bhima Koregaon as the battle of Mahar soldiers against their caste oppression in Peshwa rule, he was creating a pure myth. As myths are required to build movements, he perhaps saw its necessity then. But after a century, when it solidifies into a quasi-history and tends to push Dalits deeper into an identitarian marshland, it should become a worrisome matter."

 The above para is the second one of the article, and the author's point begins from here. Here, again, two things are not just being twisted but also reversed. First, what could have been seen as the excavation of historical fact from under the debris of brahmin-savarna historians' handiwork and a heroic rescue of a long suppressed history, is instead being made a matter of "creating pure myth, and quasi-history".

To do this gymnastic flip, the author depends heavily upon the very history erasing mechanism of the caste empire whose presence he seems to acknowledge, but fails to comprehend.

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Of Brahminism and Everyday Politics

 

Deepika Parya & Sahil Barhate

The presence of caste discrimination in Indian Universities predates independence. The introduction of National Law Schools was necessitated by the dearth of competent legal professionals in the country. However, inaccessibility to these institutions is not only marked by the so-called 'entrance tests' but also the unjust structures that are replicated herein. This piece comes in the wake of multiple students speaking up about incidents of caste related violence across premier National 'Law' Schools. We have attempted to shed light on some of the issues that we as Dalit students of NLU-Delhi have faced.

I. The liberty of Dalit-Bahujan-Adivasi women's assertions

deepika paryaJoining college led me to think of society in a new light. Here, I learned to question injustices. I learned about Privileges and disadvantages owing to one's social identity. My introduction to feminism changed my world-view drastically. Every conversation had to be dissected to address the social issues therein. Unfortunately, even though there is a wide open feminist platform to deliberate upon topics such as sexist songs & sexual harassment, the pervasive liberal brand of feminism has failed to acknowledge the malaise of caste. The activism on campus has been unsuccessful in broaching this issue, leaving a huge hole in the fabric of the social justice it preaches.

I remember my father being proud of me for reasons like my lighter skin tone, language proficiency my convent education granted me, or my relatively higher grades in school. I realised how it was fundamentally dictated by the need to stay clear off caste stereotypes. It is astonishing that factors such as skin complexion and grades become bearers of caste power structures. Lighter skin tone is a trait of the savarna women, primarily. Brahminical patriarchy paints the average Dalit woman as a promiscuous, aggressive woman with foul language who is also inherently dishonest and looks conventionally hideous. These prejudices perhaps come from the fact that Dalit women were forced into Prostitution by Savarna men centuries ago. The savarna male gaze dictates the way women should dress and carry themselves so as to not appear 'unsophisticated' or 'rustic'. Bahujan women have it so deeply internalized that these become the sources of mild pride.

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Social Media and Bahujans: Some Concerns and Reflections

 

Aditi Priya

If we do not struggle
If we do not persist in our struggle
The enemy would finish us with his bayonets
And pointing to our bones he would tell the rest of the world
Look, these are bones of slaves!
Look, these are bones of slaves!!
— A Hindi Couplet

My dear Ambedkarites,

From dawn to dusk, in one form or the other, we are initiating, participating and extending solidarities in various social movements, including the Ambedkarite movement. We wield numerous weapons in challenging the status-quoist Brahminical social order; social media being one of them. Here, I would like to present a few of my observations on social media and how we use this platform.

fb revolution

Social media is bridging gaps and connecting many Ambedkarite activists across the country, which helps us in forming a support group. It won't be an exaggeration if I say that I — like others around me — have managed to gain the confidence to continue my politics in the elite and exclusionary space of Delhi mostly after I got to know about similar struggles of our people through social media. We have also acted together online, even while being miles apart physically, and have shaken the Brahminical agraharas. But the truth is, social media isn't our real battleground.

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Bloody untouchable: Stories of an assertive Ambedkarite Dalit - Part 2

 

Sanjay Patil

swapnil jadhavSo long as you do not achieve social liberty, whatever freedom is provided by the law is of no avail to you.
~ Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

I was truly humbled by the response my last RTI article elicited. I will not be lying if I say that I had written many articles over the last two odd years - which could have been part 2, 3 ... after my first article, but after writing articles I used to delete them as the feeling of helplessness about things I wrote in the article were too strong to digest.

However, if I stay mum and be a witness to what is happening around me and do not express it - for others (Dalit or non-Dalit) to read I will be doing a great disservice to being an educated Dalit, it will be akin to failing to live up to what Ambedkar wanted educated Dalits to be. Hence, I will write; albeit with a pen name to pre-empt the discrimination I will face for the rest of my life, especially in the professional world. I am well aware the way I was targeted by a few on social media and in general discourse and during one company interview; I might be targeted again.

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Koregaon, Ambedkar and the Grammar of Anarchy

 

Amit Kumar

amit kumarIndian TV news media fully drenched with orgasmic nationalism seems hell bent on demonizing the alleged rioters in the form of large crowds who call themselves Amedkarites, the followers of Ambedkar, on the roads of various cities in Maharashtra especially Mumbai. The genuine question is: "Are the followers of Ambedkar following Ambedkar?" Ambedkar the chief draftsman of Indian Constitution is a mystical figure for the so-called mainstream of Indian citizenry and arouses a deep feeling of ambivalence if not that of abhorrence in those who, paradoxically, happen to enjoy the protection of the Constitution. Ambedkar happens to be one of the most misunderstood leaders of the Indian Freedom Struggle.

Gandhi and Ambedkar are often compared on various counts; however, the use of peaceful means is almost exclusively ascribed to Gandhi and his followers while Ambedkar is very rarely if ever mentioned for his use of non-violence. Let us try to understand what Ambedkar would have thought of the Koregaon incident and his action thereon. But let's first have a very brief introduction of Ambedkar's actions and views on similar issues.

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The Double Dhamaka of being a Brahmin Revolutionary

 

Rajesh Rajamani

Rajesh Rajamani newRecently, when 'Kabali' director Pa Ranjith introduced 'The Casteless Collective', an initiative that attempts to politicize and mainstream 'Gaana' music (considered to be a musical form of the oppressed), he was accused of bringing caste into art. Popular Tamil singer Srinivas from the Iyengar community rubbished the initiative on his social media account and termed it 'pseudo' and 'pointless'. He wanted Pa Ranjith to talk about caste elsewhere and not bring it to music. News 7, a Tamil news channel went on to carry a debate titled "Is Pa Ranjith forcing caste into art?" On the other hand, when another Iyengar TM Krishna initiated the Uroor-Olcott Kuppam Marghazi Vizha in 2015, an effort that took Carnatic music to a fisher-folk village, he was hailed across various quarters for making music transcend caste barriers. (Because, why not?)

Unsurprisingly, caste seems to work this way. Even the privilege to remain casteless is only made available to Savarnas. Which is why in spite of all the half-baked things that TM Krishna says, writes and does, he is going to be thrust on us as a revolutionary. Whenever one remarks something critical about TM Krishna's 'radical' initiatives, it is always met with responses that claim "But hey, he is at least doing something. So we can't completely reject him!" or the even more boring, "Do you know how many Brahmins hate him for the radical things he is doing?" (A big yawn.)

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Bhima-Koregaon is History not a Myth: A Rejoinder to Teltumbde’s Lie

 

Ratnesh Katulkar

ratneshAnand Teltumbde in a recent article claimed that the Dalits' role in the legendary Bhima Koregaon battle is just a myth. But it is promoted well by the Dalits, including Dr Ambedkar. While leveling this charge Teltumbde, however, doesn't present any evidence to support his argument. His approach in this statement was similar to the approach of one biased brahmanic-Marxist Ramvilas Sharma, who in one of his books, 'Gandhi, Ambedkar and Lohia Aur Itihas ki Samasyaein', challenged the existence of the caste system and untouchability in medieval India by saying that if King Sayajirao Gaikwad of Baroda helped Ambedkar in getting his higher studies abroad, how could the caste system and untouchability still exist at that time. Sharma's second argument is 'if it is expected that the Gaikwads of Baroda were themselves Sudras then how could the caste system exist.' Thus based on these two stupid comments he argues, that both the statements together or independently suggest that there was no caste system or untouchability in India, the way it is presented today1.

Any ordinary student of history or a lay Dalit activist could easily understand the bluff and the stupidity of Ramvilas Sharma's above comments but despite this and much other wrong analysis, Sharma is a favorite author of Hindi's renowned publishers. Similar is the case of Teltumbde, who is famous for his biased rhetoric and his illogical comments but is a beloved author of mainstream media. It is even strange that though Teltumbde always opposes reservation for SCs and STs, but the famous journal Economic & Political Weekly reserves a column 'Margin Speak' exclusively for him!

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As I witnessed Bhima-Koregoan

 

Sharda Navale

prachi navaleThe Vijay Sthamb (Victory Pillar) at Bhima Koregaon, is a symbol of pride and self-esteem for Bahujan Samaj. It’s the source of inspiration for many. To pay homage and respect to the ancestors and great martyr soldiers of the Bhima Koregaon Battle and also to participate in ‘Rajya-sthariya Bouddha Sahitya Sammelan’ (State-level Buddha Literature Convention) held at Sanaswadi, other poets and I along with activists were present at Bhima Koregaon for two days namely 31.12.2017 – 01.01.2018

On 01.01.2018, an armed mob violently attacked Bhima Koregaon, Shikrapur, Sanaswadi, Perne and brought these villages to halt. Peaceful and un-armed Bahujan who gathered at Bhima Koregaon, to pay homage, were cowardly attacked by casteists mobs in which many vehicles were damaged, and several people were injured and bleeding. The roads were blocked, and right from morning they forcefully closed shops in order to deprive gathered people of food or water. People from buildings nearby were pelting stones and bottles. Even you must have seen news and videos of the same.

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Bhima-Koregaon, Maharashtra-wide updates

 

Bhima-Koregaon 2018 statewide updates

Round Table India is documenting the ongoing large-scale combing operations and arrests of young men from dalit communities in an atmosphere of near complete mainstream media blackout. 

Updates from Aurangabad

Criminal cases have been lodged against 7500 over the issue of stone pelting and rioting. 3000 have been booked under section 307. In CIDCO Police station alone cases against 6000 persons have been booked, says the following newspaper report. 

bhima cidco

Source: Sanjwarta Bureau, Aurangabad, 4th Jan 2018   

All across Maharashtra the authorities and mainstream media have neither confirmed the number of arrests, the number held nor rebutted the figures emerging in social media and local newspapers, few of them reporting as high as 20,000 persons being taken in. 

In Aurangabad, Round Table India's writers attest to the police action and extensive combing operations and arrests, some have been released while there is little known about the others.

When a group of women was going to Kranti Chowk to protest against Bhima Koregaon violence they were stopped and were asked to return. Then one old lady was seen confronting the police asking them 'what did they do in Bhima Koregaon?' All the women were reluctant to leave and that's when Police fired in the air. This was reported in the mainstream quoting the police version "Senior police officers said it was disturbing that women were spotted participating and pelting stones" whereas unarmed men and women who had gathered to protest were surrounded by armed police, lathi charged and taken into custody. 

Bhima cidco women

Aurangabad Police Commissioner, Yashasvi Yadav (of Muzzafarnagar riots fame), said that if "I had been in office during the combing operation in Aurangabad, I would have fractured 50 people at least. I would have shown them what police means."

Harsul central jail capacity is 800, activists believe a large number of arrested people were crammed here and rest were sent to nearby taluka jails. The open air jail in nearby Paithan has a capacity of 700 plus. Leaving the question wide open to imagine the state in which the protestors and the systematically targeted youth from dalit communities have been kept during the last week. This scale of civil rights violations of so many people is going bear heavily on dalit movements for a long time to come. 

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Battle of Bhima Koregaon, Mahar Legacy and Contemporary Politics


Nitin Dhaktode

nitin daktodeIt is  to rvieting to witness the 'Akhil Bhartiya Brahman Mahasangh (ABBM) and Udaysinh Peshwa, a descendant of the Peshwas, ask the Pune police to deny permission for the Shaniwar Wada ('Elgar Parishad')event. Despite the fact that permission was granted by the Pune Municipal Corporation and Police Department, the Brahmanical organisations submitted their application to Mrs. Mukta Tilak, Mayor of the Pune Municipal Corporation (BJP) and Police Commissioner, Pune. Mrs. Mukta Tilak is known for her anti-reservation views and belongs to the family of Bal Gangadhar Tilak who was a strong opponent of Mahatma Phule and Dr. Ambedkar's anti-caste ideology.

Brahmanical groups have expressed their opposition to 'Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan' (Campaign for the Celebration of Bhima Koregaon Victory) starting with the 'Elgar Parishad' on 31st December 2017 at Shaniwar Wada and the paying of tribute to Vijay Stambh (Victory Pillar) at Bhima Koregaon 30Km away from the Shaniwar Wada on 1st January 2018. Shaniwar Wada, the Peshwa's Mahal (House), is the place where the programme is being organised. The slogan of the organisers is: "Fight Against the Modern Peshwai"! The Peshwai is known for its brutality towards the formerly untouchable and Shudra communities.

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The Great Gamble: Dr Ambedkar on Parliamentary Democracy (With transcript of his 1953 BBC interview)

 

Prameya M

Why did parliamentary democracy collapse so easily in Italy, Germany and Russia? Why did it not collapse so easily in England and the U.S.A? To my mind, there is only one answer. It is that there was a greater degree of economic and social democracy in the latter countries than existed in the former. Social and economic democracy are the tissues and fiber of a political democracy. The tougher the tissue and the fiber, the greater the strength of the body. ~ Dr. B.R Ambedkar1

dr-br-ambedkar seated

This year, 6th December 2017 marked the 61st Death Anniversary of Dr. B.R Ambedkar and a few days back (probably on 7th of December 2017) a video was released by BBC. The video is an interview of Ambedkar where he answered questions about the fate of parliamentary democracy in India. Many of us are aware that on several occasions he has wrestled with the idea of democracy in general and parliamentary democracy in particular. He firmly believed that "Parliamentary System of Government is much more than Government by discussion" and its successful working depends on two important aspects 1) Opposition 2) Free and fair elections. A "functional opposition" is important for a "free political life" without which democracy cannot sustain and "free and fair elections" ensure a peaceful transfer of power from "one section of the community to the other".

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नितीन आगे हत्याकांड - खर्डा येथे नितीन च्या पालकांशी साधलेला संवाद

 

Bhagyesha Kurane

नितीन आगे हत्यांकाड प्रकरणी पुण्यातील काही विद्यार्थ्यांनी खर्डा या गावाला  भेट दिली व नितीनच्या आई वडिलांशी या घटने संदर्भात संवाद साधला.ह्या हत्यांकाडाचा तपास एकूणच कशाप्रकारे झाला, आरोपी निर्दोष होण्यामागील काय कारणे  होती, सरकारची भूमिका, इत्यादी बाबी जाणून घेण्याचा प्रयत्न केला. दलित हत्यांकाडाच्या केसेस हाताळत असताना सरकारी अनास्था कशाप्रकारे कार्यरत असते हे त्यांच्याशी केलेल्या संवादात अतिशय तीव्रतेने स्पष्ट होते.

एक अशिक्षित माय-बाप आजवर आपल्या मुलाच्या शिक्षणासाठी संघर्ष करत होते.पण येथील जातीयवादी व्यवस्थेने त्यांच्या मुलाला शिक्षण घेण्यापासून रोखले आणि जातीय हीनतेच्या भावनेतून त्याचा  खून केला. आज तेच माय बाप इतर कोणत्याही मुलामुलीवर ही वेळ येऊ नये म्हणून लढत आहेत, ते ही सनदशीर मार्गाने. नितीन च्या कुटुंबियांशी केलेला हा सर्व संवाद मुलाखत स्वरूपात आम्ही आपल्या समोर मांडत आहोत.

nitin family2

 प्रश्न - आपले मूळ गाव कोणते व खर्डा या गावात आपण किती वर्षे वास्तव्य करत आहात ?

उत्तर- राजू आगे (नितीन चे वडील) –आमचे मूळ गाव बीड जिल्ह्यातील धनजरवडा हे आहे.आम्ही यापूर्वी खर्डा पासून तीन किलो मीटरवर असणाऱ्या वाडीवर रहात होतो. पण गेली पंधरा वर्षापासून आम्ही खर्डा येथे राहात आहोत.

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