Harnessing Counter-Culture to Construct Identity

 

Workshop Report on
'Harnessing Counter-Culture to Construct Identity: Mapping Dalit Cultural Heritage in Contemporary India',
7-8 December, 2012, Convened by Ronki Ram

Ronki Ram

1. The topic and the goal

The workshop entitled Harnessing Counter-Culture to Construct Identity: Mapping Dalit Cultural heritage in Contemporary India was organized by International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) and Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), Leiden, The Netherlands at Lipsius, Cleveringaplaats 1, Leiden on December 7-8, 2012. The workshop focused on the emergence of Dalit cultural heritage as a counter-culture to the mainstream culture of upper/dominant castes social set-up and world view. If any social institution or phenomenon that can be singled out to boldly mark the centrality of the Indian society, caste qualifies to be the foremost one. Anti caste movement has a long history in India. It was further radicalized by the emergence of Dalit movement with the entry of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar into the highly contested political domain of the colonial and post colonial India. Dalit movement adopted various strategies in its tirade against social exclusion and made concerted efforts for the emancipation and empowerment of the socially excluded sections of the society.

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National Dalit and Adivasi Women's Congress

Call For Delegates

National Dalit and Adivasi Women's Congress

Organized by
Tata Institue of Social Sciences
Centre for Social Justice and Governance
in Collaboration with
Insight Foundation, Delhi
supported by
Dalit & Tribal Social Work International Forum
Venue: Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai Campus
Date: 15 – 16 February, 2013

Concept Note

What does it mean to be a Dalit woman, an Adivasi woman? At this conference, which is conceptualized, organized and co-ordinated by Dalit and Adivasi women , we frame these fundamental questions along with questions of the community and society at large. We examine the categories of Tribe, Caste and Gender from the viewpoints of Dalit and Adivasi women – a natural extension is to interrogate their intersections with each other and with other categories. We aim to contextualize our historical and continuing assertions against all forms of oppression and place them within a framework of social movements; as women leaders, participants and coordinators engaged in a process of social action.

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Fact finding team's report on Dharmapuri caste pillage

 

[Report translated from Tamil by Ratna Mala]

Dharmapuri violence: Caste rage, devastation and looting

Report of the Fact Finding team - consisting of Gambeeran, Yakkan, Yazhan Aadhi, K. Umadevi, Sridhar Kannan and Neerai Mahendran - on Dharmapuri caste pillage.

"My friends' mothers scolded in foul language and provoked them to set ablaze the cheri people's houses; my school mates burnt my house. The prize certificate which I got for the oratory competition was burnt. I witnessed the whole mess from that backyard. Now, how can I go to the same school"
-Vishali (name changed), ninth standard student, Anna Nagar, a survivor.


On November 7, 2012, the Dalit colonies of Natham, Anna Nagar and Kondampatti in Dharmapuri Panchayat were looted and burnt by a mob of casteist Vanniyars (an OBC caste). More than 250 houses were destroyed badly and and made unfit for living. The newspapers have reported this incident as a caste conflict with the burning of two or three huts. This is entirely absurd. This is not a caste conflict. But it is a planned attack of the dominant caste. A mob of 1000 Vanniyar casteists entered the villages with heavy weapons and petrol bombs when there were none to challenge them. They chased away the innocent women and children and looted and burnt their houses.

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European Parliament adopts historic resolution on Dalits

 

International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) Press release

A strongly worded resolution on caste discrimination in India was debated and adopted today by the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The Parliament condemned the high number of atrocities committed against Dalits in India and the Indian government's insufficient action on the issue of caste discrimination.

Copenhagen (IDSN), 13 December 2012 -- The European Parliament (EP) today sent a strong message of solidarity to millions of victims of caste discrimination in India and urged the country's authorities to live up to their pledges to end this serious human rights problem and ensure protection of Dalits and other vulnerable groups.

While acknowledging that significant work had already been done to eradicate caste discrimination in India, the EP expressed its deep concern over the continued human rights violations against Dalits; condemned the high number of atrocities committed against them; and deplored the non-intervention by state actors such as the police in acts of communal violence against Dalits.

Expressing its deep concern about the inhuman practice of manual scavenging, the EP urged the Government of India to amend and enforce the law banning this practice.

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Fresh Bout of Caste Violence within Muslims in Allahpur

 

(This is the English version of the press-note circulated by the All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (AIPMM). Translated by Khalid Anis Ansari)

apur 1

In a village in Bihar's East Champaran district the lives of the poor Muslims belonging to backward castes has been under continuous threat from the dominant caste Muslims for the last seven years. The recent incident happened on the night of December 7 2012 when a handicapped and poor person named Akbar Ali was brutally attacked and his limbs broken by the henchmen of the dominant Muslim castes. After having assumed that he was dead they subsequently threw him on the roadside and left the site. Akbar Ali has been hospitalized in a private hospital in Motihari where his life now hangs in the balance.

~

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Demand for an open PhD admission notification in University of Hyderabad

 

Letter (dated 8th November, 2012) from the 'Joint Action Committee for the Protection of Reservation' to the Vice-Chancellor, University of Hyderabad

[Via Arun Asokan]

(Please read this article 'Non-Implementation of Reservation policy in University of Hyderabad: A Report' published on 27th November, 2012, for comprehensive information on the implementation of quotas in the university)

~

To
Prof. Ramakrishna Ramaswamy
The Vice-Chancellor Hyderabad
University of Hyderabad

Respected Sir,

Sub: Request to announce an open PhD admission notice in the month of December, reg.

With reference to the letter, addressed to the VC by the Students' Union 2011-2012 (Dt. 22-08-2012) which brought to our notice the lapses designed in the implementation of reservation policy at University of Hyderabad for the academic year 2012-13; we would like to state that there has been a serious deterrent and foul play in implementing the constitutional guarantee for higher education to the depressed classes namely SC/ST/OBC/PH/DP/North-Eastern states and Union Territories Quota.

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Second phase of violence in Assam: Update from NCHRO

 

Press Release

Guwahati, 30-11-2012.

Following the news reports about the second phase of violence and the continuance of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps for over five months in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) areas, a team of National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO) visited the places and met the affected people, some authorities and concerned citizens with a view to collect the facts regarding. The team, consisting of NCHRO National Secretary Reny Aline, Executive Members Prof. A. Marx, G.Sugumaran And Assam State Committee Member Ansari visited at least 14 camps in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts in BTAD areas. The team met the IDPs there, took stock of the real conditions of the camps, both recognized and unrecognized. The team also met the Gossaigaon SDO Vinod Seshan IAS, the Bijni Police Station OC Aditya Deori, Goalpara MLA Monowar Hussain and some Intellectuals, academicians and HR activists from various social groups.

The team is moved at the sub human conditions in which the IDPs are now kept in the temporary shelters without any basic amenities necessary for a human being to survive. Most of the camps are situated in godowns, school buildings, river banks, paddy fields and drainage areas. In the winter season they are living without clothes suited to endure the cold and chilly climate. Most of them are farmers and they already lost one crop. Due to the lack of trauma counseling and proper medical assistance people are suffering from diseases and dying here and there. We have collected information about at least four deaths in the camps. The team is much worried to see hundreds of children loosing their education and playing and helping their parents in their daily works. We emphatically state that such a situation is a violation of Article 15 and 21 of the constitution which guarantees right to life and protection against discrimination on the basis of caste, religion etc. The IDPs are entitled according to UN guiding principles to proper security, food, shelter, medical aid etc.

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