From Victimhood to Power: Dalit Mahila Swabhiman Yatra at Hyderabad

 

Pradnya Jadhav

pradnya-jadhav 1Dalit women's battle to survive with dignity and security is extremely challenging. Dalit Mahila Swabhiman Yatra has been initiated by All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM) as an attempt to bring to the notice the realities of Dalit women; it is a quest for justice. It is a broad set of coordinated actions against caste-based sexual violence. We confront perpetrators, stage mass protests and expose the culture of impunity perpetuated by individuals and social institutions. The violence against Dalit women involves not only perpetrators from upper caste communities but also practices of state institutions at large whose justice and support system have failed. The Dalit Mahila Swabhiman Yatra has been actively engaged in interacting at multiple levels to address this state of affairs. This article is an account of the process of Dalit Mahila Swabhiman Yatra and an event organized at Hyderabad Central University and English and Foreign Languages University where we reported back on the Yatra.

The first phase of Dalit Mahila Swabhiman Yatra was organized in February 2014 and covered various districts in Haryana, Bihar and Orissa. We emphasized on the silence around the issues of Dalit women who have been under constant threats and are facing physical, sexual and mental assaults, who are being victimized by the dominant caste Hindu forces who violate their rights to access resources and snatch away their opportunities and means to survive.

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Academic Untouchability: The Dalit Woman Experience

 

Praveena Thaali

praveena thaaliThe academic sphere is generally seen as a space for knowledge creation. However, it can be argued that there is Brahminical hegemony over knowledge which is knowingly or unknowingly reflected in the academia. What kind of knowledge is being produced and by whom? This issue has to be debated seriously. There are few studies that talk about issues of caste discrimination in higher education that focus only on the human rights perspective. Unfortunately, these studies hardly talk about the deliberate exclusion of Dalits from the realm of knowledge production. Certainly, it is a question of human rights, but there are deeper yet-to-be discussed problems underneath.

The studies on Dalits and other subalterns have received huge academic attention in recent times. In fact 'Dalits' remain the subjects for study while the academic contributions by Dalit students are often considered non-academic. This is not surprising because the Brahminical knowledge dominance operates in academics through its language elitism, and a particular style of articulation and use of jargon which is considered essential for scholarly articulation. Despite being in terrible situations, it is demanded of Dalit women to 'prove' their scholarship with engagements within this exclusive framework. African American women scholars have theorized their experience in academics which deepened their assertions and articulated it in a political manner. For example, Patricia Hill Collins* explains how the black women in academia struggle against the notions of "black women inferiority" in the US. In fact, they find ways to do intellectual work that challenges injustice. But even the preliminary attempts by Dalit women scholars at academic engagement are often disrupted by the academic elitism prevalent in India. Studies are yet to come out on the experiences of Dalit women in the academic sphere. The Dalit-woman question is not merely an issue of inclusion or protection. It is also an issue of citizenship too. But the elite academics seem to believe that they are special category which needs special preference. They consider the Dalit-woman question as an 'issue of category' which can be settled through soft dialogues and debates.

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Beyond the Fairy Tales of India

 

Braj Ranjan Mani

Braj R ManiThere is little awareness about a more or less institutionalised arrangement of normalising, if not glorifying, the oppressive past from which the privileged continue to derive profit and pleasure. Invented histories, myth-making, and armoury of stereotypes merge to create convenient narratives and myths which masquerade as the history of India. The suppressed stories fester the lies and keep the people away from the oppressive reality. That is why, history and culture should be debrahmanised—reconstructed—by the subjugated majority, with the understanding that 'the master's tools will not bring down the master's house'.

 It is no secret that there are intellectual weapons in the arsenal of the oppressors of the world—in theology, in philosophy, in social sciences. Their function is to conceal systemic violence or injustice in order to maintain the established power and cultural equilibrium. Even fair-minded intellectuals who come from the top of the social pyramid (in which the many are miserable at the bottom) take safety in academic subterfuge. A social psychology made worse by inherited traditions of classicism, cultural conservatism, and obfuscatory religiosity does not allow the pandits to see the obvious. For example, even a cursory familiarity with the ancient brahmanic texts leaves little doubt that the Itihasa–Purana and Dharmashastras were written by the enemies of dalit-bahujans who were stigmatised as shudras and atishudras. The shudra (the debased caste of servants) was so constructed by the historical power of brahmanism. But the scholars who spend a life-time in researching the past remain forever blind to this reality, and the historical truth of upper-caste violence, both social and ideological. Their scholarship somehow never comes to grasp the point that brahmanical forms of knowledge were critical in the establishment and maintenance of caste. The pattern does not change when we move forward to the history of modern India. A benign amnesia shrouds the conservative and anti-dalit-bahujan strands of Indian nationalism, which permits academic and popular projections of the essentially upper-caste leaders such as Gandhi, Nehru and Tilak-Savarkar as non-partisan leaders.

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Real Daughters of India

 

Daisy Katta

An interview with Dr. Sujata Vishwasrao Athawale, Professor and Dalit Activist, Amravati, Vidarbha, Maharashtra. 

Dr. Sujata Vishwasrao Athawale is a Dalit women's rights activist who has been working with rural Vidarbha's Dalit, Adivasi, Nomadic and Denotified Tribal and Muslim women for the last two decades. On the occasion of International Woman's Day, Dr. Sujata Athawale propounded that Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim, Nomadic and Denotified tribal women are the real daughters of India but their social conditions are very critical and this is an issue which needs special attention.

dr sujata athawale

Dr. Athawale runs an NGO called Urja in Amravati and has also established Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Education Society which works towards educating marginalised women.

Q. How are the conditions of Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim, Nomadic and Denotified Tribal women in India?

Sujata AthawaleThe situations of these women are extremely critical because even now these women are struggling. They do not get paid despite the painstaking labour they do. They are still under the vicious circle of money lenders. They are still struggling for their basic needs. For these Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim, Nomadic and Denotified Tribal women education is still a distant dream.

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Holi - A Festival To Commemorate Bahujan Burning

 

Dr. K. Jamanadas

Holi - What is it and how did it originate?

It is well known that Holi forms one of the important festivals among the Hindus. It is supposed to be festival of Shudras, and is one of the three most important ones in India, the others being Dasera and Diwali. The Dasera is in honour of killing of Ravana and Divali is in honour of killing of Narakasur and noted pesant king Bali. The purpose of Holi, indirectly, is concerned with killing of Hiranyakashyap. The important elements of the festival of Holi are as follows:-

1. A pyre is burnt.
2. Abuses are showered on people, and other obscenities are observed. Dirt, mud etc., is smeared.
3. Festivities are indulged in to celebrate the victory.

 Traditional Account

The puranas give an account of Holika burning. The traditional story is that a powerful King Hiranya Kashyapu sent his sister Holika to kill his ten year old only son Prahlad, as he was worshipping Barhmnic god Vishnu against his wishes. Holika had a cloth which could resist burning. She sits with Pralhad on a pyre. The wind blows wrapping Pralhad with the cloth and Holika is burnrd to death. Holi is supposed to be celebrated to commomorate this event.

Purpose of writing puranas

Dr. Ambedkar avers that "This literature arose during the period subsequent to the triumph of Brahmins under the leadership of Pushyamitra" (p.257 W&S vol.3) Original authors were non-brahmin sutas, but later they were ousted by brahmins who made monopoly of it. At that time they were finally edited and extra new subjects, apart from five traditional ones, were incorporated. [W&S vol 3, p.255]. But if you consider the fact that the majority of people were only allowed to know either by reading or hearing, and mostly by hearing, only these so called scriptures and nothing else, it becomes evident that the purpose of these books was rather more for false appeasement rather than information or enlightenment, let alone their progress and liberation, so that they don't aim and strive for any higher literature. The real purpose of Puranas was to misled the dalitbahujan masses regarding their aspirations to knowledge, to curb down their desire for more information and limit their desires to their paltry needs. BSO has always done that and even now, we see that. An example of Gandhi admonishing the savarna leaders for accepting Agnibhoj, an untouchable in the Congress ministry by saying that this will increase the aspirations of these lowly born harijans is well known.

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Saving Modi’s Image, BJP’s Way

 

Vivek Kumar

vivek kumarBJP is very, very weak in Delhi elections? This can be proved on the basis of the fact that it has inducted individuals who do not have any party experience and who have crossed over from other political parties. Kiran Bedi has no political experience. However she has been declared as CM candidate in place of seasoned BJP functionary Harsh Vardhan. Vinod Kumar Binny had contested elections of Delhi in 2013 from AAP and was thrown out from AAP has been given BJP ticket to contest again in this Vidhan Sabha election. Krishna Tirath, a former Congress Central Minister who lost MP election, is contesting on BJP ticket.

What is happening? Where is ideology of BJP - CHAL aur CHARITRA, both have changed. There is no ideology, there is no morality and there is no discipline in the party. This is the character of our leading national party. Your means also define your goals. What will happen to our nation?

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