We have to write our own stories: Abhay Xaxa

 

Neel Kranti Media

(First published in the Dalit and Adivasi Students' Portal as 'Abhay Xaxa: A Role Model Par Excellence' in 2010)

Abhay_Xaxa_copy_copy

Abhay Xaxa, age 34, born and brought up in Jashpur District of Chhattisgarh, is a researcher-activist based in Delhi. He is currently with the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, working on the status report of Adivasis in India after completing his post graduation in Anthropology from University of Sussex. At a very young age, Abhay became part of the Adivasi movement and in this interview he shares his struggles, vision and dreams towards the empowerment of his community.

Please tell our readers about your background.

I am from a village called Chitkawine from the state of Chhattisgarh. Both my parents were first graduates from our community. My father was in the law profession and later went on to become one of the first Adivasi Judges in the state of Madhya Pradesh. However, he lost his position as a Judge and was terminated. After this we were left with nothing and had to come back to our ancestral land and start from the scratch.

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Campaign for Reservation, Social Justice, and Democracy

Alliance For Social Justice & Students For Social Justice

In a society divided along religious, caste, linguistic, and regional lines, the most efficient way for a dominant segment to perpetuate its hegemony is to keep the subaltern from getting educated. History as well as mythology illustrates this, as seen in the stories of Shambook, Ekalavya, and Manusmriti's prescription to pour molten lead in the ears of a Shudra who dares to hear the Veda. In order to bring about a balance in our society, the Constitution of India has provided for Reservation to SC, ST, and OBC in admission and employment. However, our Universities, which are dominated by upper caste lobbies with their own vested interests, violate the norms of reservation wherever possible and do injustice to SC, ST, OBC students.

In the University of Delhi, discrimination against SC/ST students starts right from the registration process for admission. Just a look at the "Bulletin of Information" makes the height of discrimination evident. While the General Category is given an 80 page glossy "Bulletin of Information" (which has all the relevant information and also a detailed map of Delhi with the Colleges marked in it), SC/ST students are given a shoddily printed eight page bulletin which doesn't have most of the useful information. Other glaring instances of discrimination are: (i) lack of online facility for registration, which forces SC/ST students to physically come down to Delhi with originals of their certificates and mark sheets even to obtain the registration form, (ii) the limited number of choices of subjects and colleges available in the registration form (compared to the unlimited choice available for general students), and (iii) the unavailability of the option to transfer to a College or Course of their choice after taking admission.

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Law, Society and Dalits in India - Part 2

Karthik Navayan

Continued from here.

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The Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

Article 17 of Indian Constitution seeks to abolish 'untouchability' and its practice in any form is forbidden. It is basically a "statement of principle" that needs to be made operational with the apparent objective to remove humiliation and multifaceted harassments meted to the Dalits and to ensure their fundamental and socio-economic, political, and cultural rights.

Even after 5 years of the implementation of the constitution, when there was no change in the status of untouchability in the country, then the rulers recognised the necessity of a separate legislation and brought in the Untouchability (offences) Act 1955. But the act did not define what the crime is.

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'Khaps should be named as terrorists'

 

Ravi Chandran

Continued from here.

(This is the second part of the excerpts of the interview with Paul Divakar, conducted by Ravi Chandran of Dalit Camera: Through Un-touchable Eyes)

 

 

Paul Divakar: The one thing that stands out among the northern states is the lack of Dalit social movements and their assertion. If you look at the south, right from Ayyankali in Kerala, you have Periyar in Tamil Nadu, you have several Dalit leaders who have taken up this cause in Andhra and recently, there is Dalit Mahasabha for the last twenty years. And there are a whole range of – right from Karamchedu and Chunduru – social movements that had come up from the Dalit community. (The situation in the south) is way different. In Karnataka also, you have Dalit Sangharsh Samiti which had taken up (social movements). Of course, the Dalit Panthers movement in Maharashtra, and we also know that Babasaheb's movement had, to a large extent, touched below the Vindhyas.

Look at Maharashtra, you look at all southern states, somehow northern states have not had the benefit of the social movements, especially from the Dalit point of view. The JP movement, which was of a different nature – more for democracy – you had some religious social movements. The Ravidassia movement, Kabir and people like that. Probably these are the main social movements. Arya Samaj, which had brought in broad liberal reforms like widow remarriage and things like that.

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Dalit women activists on Haryana

Minakshee Rode

This article highlights the viewpoints of dalit activists who are on the ground meeting rape survivors and their families in Haryana. This article will be regularly updated as we gather more information.

Nearly a month after a Dalit girl was raped and her father committed suicide in Hisar village after Haryana Police failed to arrest any of the accused, allegedly all members of the upper caste, a fact-finding committee of the All-India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch noted that though the accused were later arrested after pressure from the general public, the immediate fall-out of incident has been "the fear that has set into the minds of Dalit parents and girls living in the area."

The foremost concern expressed by dalit women activists has been about the survivors, and to find ways of creating support structures to provide individual counseling, legal and economic aid to them.

Giving details about the findings of the committee at a press conference here on Friday, Manch member Asha Kowtal said: "It is surprising that though all the accused were know bad elements, they were not under the police radar. The arrest of the accused was a result of strong protests by Dalit and women's groups of the village, who refused to cremate the body of the victim's father till the accused were arrested. Worse, the Dalits of the village still live under fear. The relatives of the rape survivor said that after the incident many people had stopped sending their daughters to school even in the village and the older girls to college in Hisar."

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Rape has been the favourite weapon of the dominant castes: Paul Divakar

 

Ravi Chandran

Paul Divakar, of National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), talked to Ravi Chandran of Dalit Camera: Through Un-touchable Eyes in Hyderabad recently. The first part of the excerpts of the interview are produced below:    

Dalit Camera: Sir, could you speak about the recent spate of rapes, in Haryana?

Paul Divakar: Rape is the most heinous form of crime, and normally used as a tool of both patriarchy and caste. Whenever you want to put people in place, whenever you want to quell any assertion, whenever you want to teach a Dalit, or a community to behave themselves, (it has been) the mode the dominant castes have used in India. Primarily hitting against women, and hitting through sexual assault.

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Law, Society and Dalits in India

Karthik Navayan

law_society_dalits

Society in India

A society should be a humane society; the pre-requisite of a society is that the groups of people constituting it should be related to each other through persistent relations. But in Indian society, people are not only unrelated to each other but also hate each other, and the castes belonging to the lower strata are not even left with the freedom that certain animals enjoy. The caste system in India denies human status to its fellow beings and treats them worse than animals. We can see that some animals like cows, pigs are given godly status whereas the so-called untouchables are denied entry not only into temples but also denied the right to even walk on the common paths. The saga especially of the downtrodden castes and the women belonging to these castes is highly deplorable. But still we call Indian society a 'society'?

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The ‘Dirt’ in The Dirty Picture: Caste, Gender and Silk Smitha - Part 2

Jenny Rowena

Jenny_2

Continued from here.

My only preparation was to constantly tell myself that I love my body. And I was going to use it as a tool to get what I wanted in life and I was not going to be apologetic about it. So that was what Silk is for me. Therefore there is a certain innocence and yet she is who she is. She is this sexual animal, she is almost bestial in her sexuality.

Vidya Balan, in an interview given to CNBC program Beautiful People[1]

I identify with Silk to the extent that I also enjoy and celebrate my body. But it was amazing how she never used her head and never let anyone see the other side. It was always about the body and she was very unapologetic about it.

Vidya Balan quoted in Hindustan Times[2]

Vidya Balan's highly objectionable remarks are surely part of an attempt to separate her upper caste, heroine self from the 'deviant' and subaltern vamphood of Silk Smitha.

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Casteless Academe, Name-calling Dalits? Part 2

Anu Ramdas

Continued from here

'But you came with a mind as large as the sky to my pocket size house

I thought you had ripped out all those caste things

You came bridging the chasm that divides us

Truly, friend I was really happy

With the naïve devotion of Shabari I arranged the food on your plate

But the moment you looked at the plate your face changed

With a smirk you said: Oh my—do you serve chutney koshimbir this way?

You still don’t know how to serve food

Truly, you folks will never improve
I was ashamed, really ashamed

My hand which had just touched the sky was knocked
 down

I was silent
'

~Hira Bansode

There might be a claim that not all conversations and spaces are prone to incivility. But 'how' they happen is key to understanding the dynamics of caste and patriarchy. Here I am not only talking about communication that flows explicitly along power relations, such as between employer and employee (both in unorganized and organized sectors), but also those that happen between people in 'power-neutral' or 'polite' spaces.

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Casteless Academe, Name-calling Dalits?

Anu Ramdas

Adivasi, dalit and lower shudra women are more often co-workers in the fields, kilns, mines, factories and neighborhoods than co-learners and professionals in institutions and organizations. The reverse is true for women belonging to upper castes. Majority of women are caught in manual occupations and only a tiny section of women get to be professionals. This lends itself to interrogation in many ways and depending on which end it is proceeding from, solutions will or will not emerge.

To delve into why labor remains rigidly divided among South Asian women, there must exist a sense of injustice at this division of labor. There has to be a deeply felt need to flatten this imbalance of opportunities between castes, occupations and women. Does anyone benefit from prolonging the status quo? Who is likely to engage with this question with a sense of urgency? Whose realities are scarred by this state of affairs? Whose realities will remain undisturbed even as they intellectually engage with this? 

paddy_1

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Exactly whose sentiments are hurt by beef and pork? Part 2

 

Continued from here.

Ravi Chandran

As we saw earlier, beef was made an issue associated with only Muslims. Read the constituent assembly debate on banning cow slaughter--

Seth Govind Das in his speech he says: 

...The Muslims should come forward to make it clear that their religion does not compulsorily enjoin on them the slaughter of the cow.[13]

progressive_brahmin

 

Using beef to seclude Muslims

If we look at the Muslim rulers-- such as Akbar, Aurangzeb, Humayun-- all of them were against cow slaughter, but still the Hindu militants pointed at Muslims, and they continue to do the same now.

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Unite and Fight for the Democratic Right to Choice of Food

[The 'Committee for Democratic Right to Choice of Food' (CDRCF) on the restraints imposed on the Beef and Pork festival in JNU and the crackdown by the administration on the students-- Round Table India]

CDRCF

Friends, we condemn the crackdown by the JNU Administration on students who voiced their opinion for the availability of food that is in tune with different cultures of this country. First it was the suspension order of Anoop Singh Patel and then notices issued to Anand, Abhay and Kusum. The administration hand in glove with the conservative forces is hell-bent on stifling voices who want to initiate debate and discussion against the Brahminic-hegemonic food culture imposed on the campus. Few questions one needs to ponder over. What does 'Unity in Diversity mean?' Does the diversity principle warrant people, who are not in tune with Brahminical traditions, to be second-class citizens, uprooted from their cultures? Time and again people from ethnically diverse backgrounds are the ones who are forced to part with their culture and spaces. Democracy at first means respect for diverse opinions and mutual respect for each other's positions. But in the present Brahminical forces controlled institutions - be it the educational institutes, media, police forces or for that matter 'higher judiciary' – democracy is the privilege of the 'twice-born,' the rest have no say whatsoever.

varaha_avatar

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