Bahujan Students' Front (BSF) on HCU Elections

 

Bahujan Students' Front (BSF)

The recently concluded HCUSU elections generated a lot of discussion and debate both in social media and offline as well. Innumerable questions were raised and allegations were made against the Bahujan Students' Front-UoH in particular and United Front for Social Justice (UFSJ) in general. In this pamphlet, Bahujan Students' Front (BSF) would like to tell why it went as an alliance partner in UFSJ. Who was it that actually diluted the unity of oppressed communities? We would like to make the campus community aware of the hegemony of 'Congress Chamchas' who call themselves Ambedkarites.

This election (2016) was very significant as it was the first election in the aftermath of the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula and the struggle that still continues. BSF felt that this was the right time for all oppressed communities and organisations representing the former in the UoH campus to forge an alliance and send the strongest message to Brahminical forces in the campus and the country at large. With this in mind, BSF formed an election coordination committee of its own to mobilize support from all organizations representing marginalized communities. BSF representatives first initiated negotiation with representatives of Ambedkar Students' Association (ASA) in forming the larger unity of the oppressed (UDA). The response from ASA was that forging an alliance of all oppressed communities (UDA) was risky when other forces are strong, cases are pending against students and creation of three panels would give mileage to ABVP. Thus BSF's proposal of UDA formation was neglected by ASA. Further the formation of a grand alliance of all organizations which were uncompromisingly engaged in Justice for Rohith struggle was emphasized by ASA.

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Project Heartland

 

Pratik Parmar

Project Heartland captures the struggle of people from marginalised communities mainly Dalits in Gujarat. It shows the courage and determination of Dalit women and men to assert for their rights despite all odds. By capturing these stories of struggle, Project Heartland wants these brave people to be known, recognised and be seen as inspiration to others.

 

 In this YouTube mini series, we shall bring out different stories from the heartland of Gujarat which nobody tells.

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Why Oppressed Unity Inside and Outside the Campuses

 

Purnachandra Naik & Vinod Kumar

In this country, all the oppressed communities have been victims of the oppressive Brahmanical fascist religio-cultural hegemony. The inequality and oppression of the marginalised communities is sanctioned by the Brahminical religious scriptures. And the Sangh Parivar (RSS, BJP, ABVP) make a concealed yet concerted attempt to perpetuate and reinforce the religio-cultural hegemony over the oppressed communities. It has realised that it will have to devise new and more devious ways to tackle the traditionally subjugated people who have been asserting themselves.

fencing universities

The discourse of dignity and rights coupled with resistance and assertion on the ground by the oppressed communities has threatened the very existence of the Sangh Parivar. The following secret document circulated among its Shakas gives a glimpse into the agendas and inner workings of the Sangh brigade. The RSS secret circular no. 411 reads:

2- Scheduled Castes and other backward classes are to be recruited to the party so as to increase the volunteers to fight against the Ambedkarites and Mussalmans.

5- Hindutva should be preached with a vengeance among the physicians and pharmacists so that with their help, time-expired and spurious medicines might be distributed amongst the Schedule Castes, Mussalmans and Schedule tribes.

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Poetry and Parochialism in Kerala: Sugathakumari opens a Pandora’s Box

 

Umar. N

skyThe Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, in his customary impish fashion rephrases Heidegger's oft-quoted dictum that 'language is the house of being' as 'language is the torture-house of being.' For him there is no genocide without poetry. Sugathakumari, a major Malayalam poet, and winner of Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award, Ezhuthachan Puraskaram, and the Padma Shri, has been known for her support for extreme formations of all hues, including the RSS. Recently, a newspaper carried in its weekly roundup of quotable quips, one of hers, which was: ''the biggest problem Kerala faces today is perhaps the excessive migration of workers from other states. It will lead us to a cultural disaster. We can in no way form a cultural rapport with these people who come here to work. Most of them are not just from educationally backward backgrounds, but also from criminal ones. They may eventually turn locals by marrying and settling down here.'' The quote originally occurred in an interview with the poet carried by the Onam-special issue of the right-wing affiliated daily 'Janmabhoomi,' where she discusses various social ills plaguing Kerala, with Leela Menon, the editor of 'Janmabhoomi.'

This has led to outrage in the social media sphere and elsewhere with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan himself taking up cudgels, suggesting in a Facebook post that the number of Keralites who work abroad is almost commensurate with the number of non-Keralite workers in Kerala and hence a little understanding would go a long way. He also cited a statistic released by Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation(GIFT) which says that in 2013 there were 25 lakh non-Keralites working in Kerala in various capacities. He goes on to cite health and housing schemes that state and union governments have undertaken for the welfare of migrant labourers. But that was the dry statement of facts by a dogmatic communist. What irked many, and rightly so, was Sugathakumari's stature as one of the most celebrated Malayalam poets of all time.

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Caste, Gender, and the Feasibility of Education: The Case of Apu and Dhania

 

Tuhin Bhattacharjee

"If you wish to bring about a breach in the system, then you have got to apply the dynamite to the Vedas and the Shastras, which deny any part to reason; to the Vedas and Shastras, which deny any part to morality. You must destroy the religion of the shrutis and the smritis. Nothing else will avail."

 – B. R. Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste

tuhinIn a crucial scene in Satyajit Ray's 1955 film Pather Panchali, we see the young Apu, slate in hand, being instructed in writing by his father Harihar, who is probably occupied with writing his own play for the village festival. In the same room, but at a distance, Apu's elder sister Durga's hair is being plaited by their mother Sarbajaya, as they softly converse about the impending marriage of a friend of Durga's. All this while their old widowed aunt Indir Thakrun is seated outside the room, busy with her thread and needle. The traditional demarcations of gender are perfectly in place here. The two males are engaged in writing, while the women are involved in their daily 'feminine' chores. In an earlier scene, we had seen Apu in the village patshala where the local grocer teaches his all-male class and runs his business simultaneously. Ray subtly hints at the gender discrimination by showing a girl, of about the same age as Apu, arriving to buy grocery for her home, and stealing a furtive glance at the boys taking lessons.

Besides gender, this rural space is also charged with the traditional signifiers of caste. Both Harihar and the schoolmaster wear the 'sacred thread' across their chest – as markers of their upper caste, Brahmin status – and we hear about Harihar officiating as priest in rich families of the neighbouring villages. Growing up in such an environment, Apu could not but be aware of his identity as a male Brahmin that entitles him to the kind of education denied both to women and the lower castes in pre-independence India.

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Manchester Launch of Hatred in the belly: Politics behind the appropriation of Dr. Ambedkar’s Writings

 

Manchester Launch

of

Hatred in the Belly: Politics behind the appropriation of Dr. Ambedkar's writings

by

Ambedkar Age Collective

hatred in the belly first prints of cover3When: 6 – 8pm, 6th October 2016

Where: Samuel Alexander A201, The University of Manchester,

Oxford Rd, Manchester

Talks, Readings and Discussion

Chair: Rubina Jasani

Speakers: Anu Ramdas, Kuffir Nalgundwar, Gaurav Somwanshi, Sruthi Herbert, Sridhar Gowda, Kavita Bhanot

Hatred in the Belly published by The Shared Mirror is the powerful response by a number of Dalit-Bahujan writers to Arundhati Roy's 'much-needed-introduction' to Ambedkar's Annihilation of Caste, published by Navayana Press in 2014, and by Verso Press in the UK. While focussing on Arundhati Roy-Navayana's project as a 'case study' of sorts, the book is an important and timely intervention that unpacks the wider politics of the appropriation of Ambedkar and Ambedkar 's writings by brahmin/upper caste 'progressives'. One of the important books of the 21st century, Hatred in the Belly raises important questions of representation, self-assertion and the damaging effects of an elite left and celebrity activism upon people's movements and struggles.

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Are the Hindutva leaders ready to debate the state of Dalits?

 

Abhay Kumar

abhay kumarWith the UP Assembly Elections (2017) drawing closer, the Hindutva leaders have started shedding tears for Dalits. Weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement in which he said that one may attack him but not his Dalit brothers, BJP National Executive Member Sanjay Paswan wrote an opinion piece in The Indian Express ('Vote Bank To Thought Bank', September 6, 2016) and praised the policies of the Modi Government for Dalits, blaming the progressive sections for politicising the Dalit question.

Showering his praise for Modi, former National President of BJP Scheduled Castes Morcha and Dalit face of the saffron party Paswan said that 'The current prime minister came from a humble background. He is aware of the pain, agony, challenges, deprivations and everyday there at a socially disadvantaged person faces in the rural set-up.'

In order to woo Dalits and Backwards, Hindutva leaders often mention Modi's "humble" social background. In the past, BJP President Amit Shah claimed that the BJP gave the country the first OBC PM in Modi. Even during the General Election campaign 2014 and after, Modi himself mentioned his caste identity. Paswan's article operated within the same trope.

Does one's social background matter? Yes it does. I see force in the argument in support of representation and diversity. Yet, I do not think that that one's "humble" social background, excluding all other factors, makes him infallible, as Paswan seemed to argue. One should not forget that a large number of Dalit leaders were deployed by the high-caste Hindus to confront Babasaheb Ambedkar. Bahujan leader Kanshi Ram rightly called such people chamchas (stooges) who played in the hands of the high caste Hindus.

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