Return to which home?

 

Gopal Guru

On October 14, 1956, Babasaheb Ambedkar, along with several hundred thousand "untouchables", embraced Buddhism. The moral and ethical strength of Ambedkar's embrace of Buddhism lies in its cultural and intellectual capacity to sustain among the ex-untouchables a growing association with it. Conversion as a cultural-intellectual movement that took off in October 1956 from Nagpur continues to gain strength. It would be fair to observe that Ambedkar's Buddhism has got a pan-Indian following among certain castes formerly deemed untouchable, such as the Jatava/Chamar from Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, the Malas from Andhra Pradesh, the Parayars from Tamil Nadu, the Adi Karnataka from Karnataka, and a tiny section of Pulayas from Kerala and of course the Mahars and a few Matangs from Maharashtra.

ghar wapsi frontline 1

Dalits worshipping the buffalo before participating in a conversion ceremony at Balmiki Ashram on the occasion of the 112th birth anniversary of Ambedkar, in Chandigarh in April 2003. The converts, mostly scavengers, vowed to worship the buffalo instead of the cow. Photo:PTI

However, scholars of Buddhism have perceived different meanings in Ambedkar's conversion. Some of them locate the primacy of nationalism in the act, while others see it as a decision emerging from Ambedkar's frustration with Hinduism. Still others see the conversion as a personal choice that Ambedkar imposed on millions of untouchables. Arguably, such multiple readings of Ambedkar's conversion, by default, treat Hinduism as the least important factor in Ambedkar's act of conversion to Buddhism. By Ambedkar's own admission, it is Brahmanical Hinduism that provided the major context for the emergence of Buddhist assertion starting from Iyothi Thass and Laxmi Narsu from Tamil Nadu, culminating in Ambedkar's 1956 conversion. Ambedkar held Brahminical Hinduism largely responsible for producing what could be called the withering down impact, particularly on untouchables.

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The Gita and OBCs

 

Kancha Ilaiah

kancha ilaiahNo Shudra-OBC can be a priest either in a Ram temple, a Krishna temple, or a Shiva temple. But he can be the Prime Minister of this country.

Today, when a Shudra-OBC is PM, it's not because of the Gita, but because of Ambedkar's Constitution.

 The Other Backward Classes are a historically oppressed majority in India. All debates on "Hindu nationalism" initiated by the brahminic forces assume that the Other Backward Classes, who constitute the largest social group in India are part of Hinduism. The dalits, Muslims and Christians keep on protesting, but the OBCs do not protest, not even when a senior leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party said recently that the Bhagavad Gita should be made India's "national scripture", replacing the Indian Constitution.

The OBCs voted for Narendra Modi, India's first OBC Prime Minister, in substantial numbers. But they have not got anything substantial from his elevation. Instead, the upper castes particularly brahmins and baniyas have got very visible positions in his ministry, and the baniya industry is booming ever since Mr Modi and Amit Shah took over the state apparatus and the BJP.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj's attempt to bring an act to declare the Bhagavad Gita as India's national scripture, that is, the conscious-keeper of India's government and its people, has far more serious implications than Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti's obnoxious statement.

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Universal rights and universal violations

 

K. G. Balakrishnan

As we mark the 66th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, disclosures of mass human rights violations have highlighted the need for greater accountability

human rights day, kashmiri displaced persons

In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which stands as a beacon for the international community on the standards it should set for the defence and promotion of human rights. The Declaration was drafted over a period of two years on the initiative of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, through members from various nationalities and political backgrounds, including the noted Indian freedom fighter, educator and reformist, Dr. Hansa Jivraj Mehta.

It was in keeping with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Paris Principles that countries across the world, including India, established their respective National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). In India, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was established by The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

Widespread violations

 However, despite this wide array of human rights institutions, there continue to occur throughout the world widespread violations of human rights. There is therefore some sting, but more than a grain of truth in the cynic's lament that "the only thing universal about human rights is their universal violation."

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Tilak Gandhi Golwalkar vs Phule Shahu Ambedkar

 

Dr. K. Jamanadas

(First Published in September 2001)

dr. k. jamanadasGeneral Review

About Bal Gangadhar Tilak, he was a great scholar of Sanskrit. He was a great leader of RADICALS, they used to call themselves "Nationalists" and leaders of whole country. He was called "Lokmanya" meaning "recognized by the people" and was projected as leader of non-brahmins, but in reality, he was the leader of Brahmins alone. He started two news papers. He was jailed by the British for his writings. But he fought against the imperial power. His idea was to capture power from the British and restore it to the Brahmins, as was during Peshava rule. He openly said that non-brahmins need not take education and they do not have to take part in politics. Though he said, he does not like Untouchabilty, he refused to sign a memorandum for its abolition.

"Annihilation of Caste" of Dr. Ambedkar is based on the writings of Tilak. Also "Riddles in Hinduism" deals with his views about Gita. Ambedkar respected his intelligence and knowledge, but disliked his attitude about social reforms. Tilak had threatened to burn the pandal of "Social Conference" and only wanted political reforms and not the social reforms. The following information is drawn from the writings of Dhananjay Keer.

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Diwali and Bali Pratipada

 

Gail Omvedt

Diwali, or the "Festival of Lights," comes in the period after the harvest, as days begin to get shorter. The first day is for honoring cows and buffalos. The second day, in Brahmanic culture, commemorates the killing of Mahisasura: this symbolizes the struggle between "devas" and "asuras." In the legends, both are children of the same mother, but asuras are portrayed as not-human. The asuras represent stable agriculture, the devas represent foraging and herding as means of sustenance. The third day is "Bali Pratipada," the day of king Bali. Brahmanic tradition re-enacts the killing of Bali, the nonBrahmanic tradition remembers Bali and seeks his return. All of these are myths, and they were treated by Phule as myths, Phule used myth and counter-myth. But these days much of the counter-culture treats Bali as if the story represented a real history.

waman effigy

Burning of Waman Effigy at the anniversary of Baliraja Memorial People's Dam

"Ida pida javo, Balica rajya yevo" – let troubles and sorrows go and the kingdom of Bali come! This is the ancient saying of the Marathi peasantry. It remembers Bali Raja as a kingdom of prosperity and happiness,

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For a new paradigm of social justice

 

D. Shyam BabuChandra Bhan Prasad

The central policy challenge for the new government is how to sustain social gains while ensuring that Dalits can participate more meaningfully in the economy, by sharing in the fruits of economic growth while contributing as well

In his address to the nation on Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his intention to "take a solemn pledge of working for... the welfare of the poor, oppressed, Dalits, the exploited and the backward people of our country." We don't know just what precise shape his social justice vision will take in practice, but it is likely to be a mix of traditional approaches, when unavoidable, coupled with a new architecture, when feasible.

When independent India's founding fathers committed themselves to constitutionalism and democracy, they were well aware that democracy was a "top dressing on Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic," as B.R. Ambedkar cogently put it. The rigid and deeply maligned social hierarchies of Indian society meant that a commitment to equality and social justice was hardly a "natural" sentiment.

Survey on Dalit entrepreneurs

Since then, the Indian state has sought to put forth dozens of laws and programmes to attenuate these deep social inequalities and two-thirds of a century after independence, social inequalities in Indian society are a far cry from what they were when the country came into being. But there is a long, long way to go before social justice is a reality for the vast majority of Indians from socially marginalised communities. It is equally clear, however, that the country needs new thinking (nayi soch) on social justice, as the Prime Minister has argued.

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