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A Life Lived Well, and Lessons Thereof

Braj Ranjan Mani


phule_savitri

Jotirao Phule, and his wife Savitribai, declared war on brahmanic-casteist culture and religion. This Maharashtrian couple presented the first major anti-caste ideology and led a mass activism against the ascriptive norms and values. Their distinct brand of socio-cultural radicalism was based on uniting all the oppressed, whom they would call stree-shudra-atishudra. (Literally, stree means women, shudra is productive servile caste at the bottom of the caste hierarchy, and atishudra means ‘those beyond the shudras’, earlier despised as outcastes, or untouchables. 
In contemporary language, shudras and ati-shudras are other backward classes and dalits, respectively. But the Phules included in their notion of the oppressed, other marginalised groups as well such as adivasis and Muslims.)

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Sub-Castes within the SC/ST

 

Dr. K. Jamanadas

(First published in Dalit Voice in March 2000)

dr. k. jamanadasThis has reference to the article on rivalry of subcastes Madigas and Malas among the SCs, and a frank debate welcomed by our editor (Dalit Voice, vol.15, no.21).  Our editor has welcomed the rivalry among the subcastes in these words: "There is nothing to be ashamed of or worried about the inter-Dalit bickering. Rather this should be welcomed." This attitude is quite in keeping with his old known notion that if you could strengthen each jati and make them strong enough to demand their rightful share according to their population from the 'evil' jati people (to use the phraseology of Annamalai), then the system of jatis will crash. Unfortunately I beg to defer with him. Some time back Bojja Tharakam from Hyderabad had argued that it is against Ambedkarite principles to think of strengthening any jatis. I fully agree and endorse his view. Dr. Ambedkar had specifically advocated that the process of abolition of castes must not start with abolition of subcastes. He averred that if the process stops at that level, we will end up by strengthening the caste system. What applies to subcastes equally applies to castes within the SC/ST group. Annihilation of castes was what Dr. Ambedkar wanted. It could only be achieved through social amalgamation by inter caste marriages, and to promote that the sanction behind the sastras must end. This was what was intended.

Your contention is that, when castes, individually, become strong enough, will fight with BSO and get their rightful number of positions, and thereby reduce the power of BSO. Unfortunately this does not happen in practice. When Ambedkar said educate, agitate and organize, he meant agitate against BSO oppressors. We took it to mean struggle amongst ourselves. We fight amongst ourselves for every thing and we beg for favors from others. We have become subservient dummy stooges of others, popularly termed 'chamchas'. Though we do not have enough strength to get elected in Parliament, we rush to the feet of men in power, and that too individually and separately,ignoring the so called unity, and beg for a berth in ministry for self and get kicked out. All our self respect vanishes that time. This is the state of affairs. How do you expect that such a people will be able to fight with the oppressors for the rights of masses, they can only beg for self prosperity. First we have to increase our strength, then and then alone we can bargain. Power is something that cannot be obtained by begging, begging only begets petty alms.

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Kanshi Ram: Champion of the poor

 

Kanshi Ram-

Kanshi Ram will be remembered as someone who almost completely changed the rules of Indian politics over the last two decades. Few political analysts would disagree that his unique brand of social engineering and organisational skills succeeded in uniting India's low caste Dalit community into a formidable political force in several states.

 

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Kanshi Ram [1934 - 2006] Kanshi Ram - founder of Bahujan Samaj Party

Kanshi Ram - founder of Bahujan Samaj Party

Kanshi Ram was born to Bishan Kaur and Hari Singh at Khawapur village in Ropar district of Punjab. After completing his Bachelor's degree in Science (B.Sc) from the Government College at Ropar affiliated to The Punjab University he joined the offices of Defense Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), in Kirkee, through a reserved quota for Scheduled Caste. Kanshi Ram was born in cobbler caste, which is included in the GOI SC list.

 

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