Dalit University: do we need it?

 

Vikas Bagde

vikas bagdeEducation is the only asset our community has had historically ~ Dr. B R. Ambedkar

Telangana government recently announced its decision to start a university exclusively for dalits. Now no dalit students will face discrimination in 'reputed' universities, there is a university exclusively for dalits, go there and you will not face any discrimination. Don't go to established universities; the government cannot assure your safety. Actually they don't want to protect us against any atrocities and discrimination. It's simply like: go to spaces given to you and don't intrude into ours.

There was the time when caste hindus denied education to us and several of our ancestors were even brutally murdered only for demanding the renaming of a university. Despite the fact that this university was built on the land donated by Dr. Ambedkar. Telangana government's move to start the new university definitely shows the strength our people acquired over the years through relentless and invisible struggle.

We should celebrate this success.

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The beautiful feeling of falling in love with a Bahujan Ambedkarite

 

Priya

This is not going to be a long write-up, the sole purpose of writing this is to share the beautiful revolutionary feeling that we derive when we have fallen in love or have driven support from another Ambedkarite.

yasala balaiah painting

That moment when I read that person’s name in the book that I took from him to read on Babasaheb and women’s struggle, words won’t be enough to express how close I feel I am to him. Love that we share for Babasaheb is the best connection I have felt in my life. Those long talks, in small meeting after many days that we have, on bahujan politics gives me the strength to never give up and continue the struggle and keep improving my understanding of many things.

As a dalit woman from Bihar, the only thing that I could afford to care was to do well in studies and achieve something to be able to give back to my people, to acquire some knowledge and power to be able to affect the brahmanical system in as strong a way as possible. Little did I know that this politics of mine is also equally emotional, and never did I ever think that this struggle, which started with my taking birth in a dhobi community till I die, will be so empowering when I will be able to form an association with other Ambedkarites.

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The Hollowness of Noisy Bodies and a misplaced sense of student politics

 

Nasima Islam

nasima islam 1Through this brief venture of mine, I would like to address a crucial issue that covers one of the most significant problems of contemporary student politics in India. Given the kind of political climate we are encountering these days, student politics in India is perhaps the only domain of political optimism that we can look forward to today. But are all forms of existing student mobilisations sacrosanct? Of course not. It is beclouded with so many problems inside and out. Even the students believing in the progressive left ideologies are dispersed along nuanced ideological differences. The issue I am going to address in this article, however, is the lopsided direction that has mired student politics and how it now runs the risk of diverting into non-productive outcomes as its energies are misplaced and wrongly channelized. The phenomenon that triggered me to write this piece is the latest symposium in Jadavpur University that was arranged by a study circle group of some of my friends to celebrate the 50th year of Naxalbari movement.

Imagine you are a dalitised Muslim wo/man from a village (whose name even the google map cannot track) belonging from the non-creamy layer of the status quo of a feudal, capitalist, (pseudo)democracy under the present regime with all its saffron agenda. Further, imagine that all your life you have studied in institutions located in rural or semi-urban areas where rarely any kind of academic gesture out of the classroom was encouraged and most of the faculty used to love to rush home as soon as the classes were over. Now there is a token of surprise added to this series of images I am going to offer.

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Unpartitioned Nostalgia: Memories of the Ruling Class

 

Akshay Pathak

Continued from here.

#70yearson, a global campaign to remember the tragedy of 1947, might soon be trending on social media. Meanwhile, if you Google 'partition of India', the search engine blasts you with image after image of hordes of human bodies - living, dead, half-dead, in caravans, walking through ruins, hanging from trains. All of that interspersed with portraits and images of Nehru, Gandhi, Jinnah - men and women in flawless clothes, rosy cheeks and dimpled chins. Of late I have been wondering about how Google, besides providing us with an access to our day-to-day, also shapes our memory of past events.

Memories, and a certain memorializing, especially for those drunk on power, can easily turn into hallucinations. Analysing the present or speculating on the future often requires one to nestle cosily with an imagined past – a past that is not entirely fictional, but purposefully reconstituted.

partition margaret

(Image: Margaret Bourke-White and Lee Eitingon in India, 1947)

So when 'experts' with their global reach repeatedly call for saving history from being 'forgotten', needing it to be memorialized and museumized, the curious ought to get curious-er. I began with Google to link back to the previous piece in the series and also to link to how we imagine our lives today.

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How has the Indian Constitution moved towards Hitler's German Constitution?

 

S. Kumar

Many political analysts have compared Indian PM Narendra Modi's style with that of German autocrat Adolf Hitler. However, this article has very little to do with the comparison of the two well known powerful leaders separated by different eras. The main intent of this article is to compare the Laws of the present-day Indian system and Laws in Germany during the time of Adolf Hitler resulting in the discontent and disturbance in the society.

The purpose of the article is that both India and Germany before Modi and Hitler respectively had a democratic constitution, but both of them later evolved as an autocratic use of Constitution, with amendments.

Germany was a democratic country before Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor (equivalent to PM) of Germany. Hitler was neither a monarch nor did he acquire power through a coup. His autocratic rule was legally implemented. India is also celebrated as world's largest democracy.

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Barbaric Acts: Civilized Nationalists?

 

Rajunayak Vislavath

raju nayakThis is in response to a recent Facebook video that went viral. What you see in the video is that of a Dalit student getting brutally beaten up by upper caste students. In the beginning, it was not clear where it happened but after a couple of days, people came to know that it happened in Muzaffarpur, in the state of Bihar in India. It happened in a Kendriya Vidyalaya (a school run by the central government of India). The boy who is getting beaten up is a student of 12th standard. When the television channel NDTV asked him about it, he replied: "You see, I am a Dalit and so doing well in the examinations or academics, which brings me praise at home, earns me humiliation and abuse in my classroom," the boy said in his letter to NDTV. (The content of the letter is posted on the last page of this article.) This incident raises many questions such as whether the Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes (SC/STs) have enough space in India to excel in the field in which they prefer to be or they need to be like as they were in olden days.

Based on several incidents like the one narrated above, it seems that a dubious idea of nationalism associated with upper caste Hindu identity is on the rise. Long-term activism by leaders of lower caste people such as Savitri Bai Phule and Baba Saheb Ambedkar was partly successful in making marginal sections coming to schools, colleges, and universities. Scholars from marginal communities started writing and, as a result, challenging the dominant narrative of their experience and their perspective. This has become an indigestible narrative for extreme nationalists who believe in caste-based hierarchies.

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Some of us will have to fight all our lives: Anoop Kumar

 

Anoop Kumar

(This is the transcipt of his speech at the celebrations of the 126th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Babasaheb Amebdkar in Ras Al Khaimah organised by Ambedkar International Mission, UAE, on 21st April, 2017. It was translated from Hindi by Abhishek Juneja)

anoopJai Bhim. I am very happy to be among you all. I have come to UAE for the first time and you have invited me with a lot of love, for which I am very grateful. Especially to Kashi Sir, who is not present here today. I have heard a lot about his work and about the work that AIM does. Even though I have never met Raju Kamble Sir, I have known him too for a very long time. AIM has also been providing support to students, for which I would like to thank you all.

Today, I would like to talk a little about education. As you have just seen on the screen, my work revolves around our students and ensuring all ways possible to provide the best education to them. At the same time, we try to involve them in the Ambedkarite movement as much as possible. We have been working on this for a very long time.

Like Sir had mentioned in his introduction, I am basically from Uttar Pradesh. I come from a family where Babasaheb found little mention in everyday affairs, so I come from a background, a caste that does not have a history of being in the Ambedkarite movement. Even though I come from a Scheduled Caste family, it is our great misfortune that in my caste Babasaheb isn't cherished as much as he is in other Schedules castes. I was the first person from my family who got to know Babasaheb and who stepped into the Movement. Therefore, I feel very fortunate to be standing here today in front of you.

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Dalit is a Political Currency

 

Jadumani Mahanand

jadumanillionThe present presidential candidate nominations shows how "Dalit as a subject" has become an instrument of power for the upper caste political parties. About a decade ago, Gail Omvedt observed that Dalit assertion is a democratic upsurge in Indian society. This emphasis on electoral democracy only sidelined the Dalit movement. And evidently, in contrast, Dalits still remain to be a struggling mass. Hardly any justice is served through the state mechanism regarding caste atrocities. Liz Mathew has reported in the Indian Express about "The Dalit Push"– the politicization of Dalit by the upper caste parties in order to secure their own interests. This is apparent in the political vision of BJP. Dalit inclusion in the party is merely a number so as to appeal to the Dalit community to procure votes. This further creates a divide within the Dalit community. I argue here that "Dalit has become a political currency" - to be used, misused and reused in Indian Politics. The question that needs to be addressed here is why is there so much emphasis on Dalit?

Essentially, a Dalit is someone who counters the Hindu Philosophy, who fights against the caste system, so his/her participation in the hegemonic party becomes very crucial. The Dalit community is further divided into Mahars, Chamars, Kolis, Pasis, Balmikis etc., - although not equal in their gradation, they have a similar experience of caste discrimination based on their caste location sanctified by Hindu religion. In this context, it is important to note that BJP is unable to politicize the Mahars, Chamars or the Malas in vast numbers as compared to other Dalit sub-castes. It is observed that in Maharashtra, the Mahars support Congress; in Andhra Pradesh, the Malas support Congress; in Uttar Pradesh the Chamars (and a few other Dalit communities) support BSP. But evidently, BJP is increasingly successful in mobilizing Dalits by targeting the smaller castes of the Dalit community. This appropriation is a selective method not without intent: as persuading the assertive Dalit communities like Chamar, Mahar or Mala is difficult, the smaller sub-castes become an easy approach. This indicates that Dalit movement has not reached the smaller and less empowered sub-castes. This is the reason why Mangs of Maharashtra; Kolis, Pasis, Valmikis in Uttar Pradesh; Keunt (fisherman) in Odisha and other Dalit communities still remain under the Hindu fold.

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What is going right in the Dalit vs Dalit debate?

 

Shiveshwar Kundu 

shiveshwar kundu.1One of the promises of modern and secular politics is to do justice in society. For settling any vexed question of politics in a society, first, it is imperative to deal with the procedural part of the question then its substantive part will automatically come into the scene. Here procedural part means, framing some principle or procedures through which justice could be delivered through liberal institutions. Michael Sandel argues 'To ask whether a society is just is to ask how it distributes the things we prize—income and wealth, duties and rights, powers and opportunities, offices and honors'. Precisely, Justice is about giving everyone their due!

There is no dispute in the fact that Dalits, women, minorities, LGBTQ communities are always subdued, their voices are always crushed in a caste, patriarchal, and Hindu society like India. These sections of the society were never treated with universal moral values like justice, equality, and self-respect. It was only when dialogue was forced on the tradition in the form of colonialism (Gopal Guru), Indian society began to deal with this question in order to save its pride or let's say arrogance to show the world that we also believe in the universal language of justice, equality etc. One could argue along the lines that out of all the exploitation and discrimination that colonial state unleashed, nevertheless it happened to be a blessing in disguise in some aspects.

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Why Ram Nath Kovind, and not L K Advani?

 

 

Doleswar Bhoi

DoleswarRecently, the Indian National Congress and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) nominated Meira Kumar and Ram Nath Kovind as presidential candidate of India respectively. Both Meira Kumar and Ram Nath Kovind belong to the Dalit Community. The Dalit community refers to the lower castes in the socio-economic, political and cultural discourses of Indian Caste Hindu society. Gandhi glorified them as "Harijan", a term Ambedkar vehemently condemned. It was the British government that categorized them as the "Scheduled Castes". The same was done in the case of the Scheduled Tribes. The Dalits constitute around 20 percent of the country's population. They still face caste-based discrimination, hatred, and prejudice and bias on a daily basis, something that often cripples their confidence and creates a feeling in their mind that they are reduced to "second-grade" citizens.

So far 13 people have served as the president of India. The next will be the 14th president of India. Here some questions arise as to who were the former presidents of India? Which states did they belong to? What were their caste and religion? The list of Presidents of India has been explained below Table-1 with the name of former presidents and the states they belong to. The table illustrates that there is only one president who belonged to the Dalit community; one woman president and three presidents belonging to the Muslim community. In other words, there have been five/six people belonging to marginalized (SC, women and religious minorities) sections of society, who became presidents of India. Also till now, there has been no president from the Scheduled Tribes. In this context, the present article tries to understand the reason behind the nomination of a Dalit, Ram Nath Kovind, instead of choosing a senior leader and personality of BJP like L. K. Advani or others for the presidential post.

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The Rise of Modi: Historical Knowledge in Popular Memory

 

Mukesh Kumar

Past and Present: Inherent Contradictions in Psycho-Historical-Political Philosophy in India

mukesh kumarHistory repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce
~ Karl Marx (2008 :15)

In Indian political history, very few people have achieved such huge success in such a short span of time as prime minister Modi. It would be the height of intellectual laziness to simply brand him a mascot of fascist forces, Hindutva brigade, and nationalistic mindset. More than his pro-development stance, his image is tainted by many controversies. How an image marred with serious accusations finds easy acceptance in the public psyche is the main theme of this paper. Specifically, what role do historical characters and dominating narratives around them play in building a legitimate perception around such public figures? There are deeply entrenched characters in our history and society that help and legitimise the rise of a public figure into an invincible political mammoth psychologically.

The rise of Narendra Modi is the rise of a public spirit historically represented through characters like King Asoka, Maharana Pratap, and Mahatma Gandhi and their perceptions in our mindset. These characters reflect the huge oxymoronic hypocritical nature of mainstream Indian perspective. After killing one hundred thousand people at Kalinga war Asoka preached non-violence afterwards, Maharana Pratap never won a war against emperor Akbar yet remains victorious in our mind than ever before, and Gandhi was Mahatma to the extent that untouchability allegedly miraculously ended in upper caste hearts.

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