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Dalits in Nepal: Politically Manufactured Karma

Dalits in Nepal: Politically Manufactured Karma

The facts on the ground

Suresh Singh

(First published in Insight magazine in 2005)

Dalits are groups of people considered as ritually impure and imagined as living apart from the "mainstream society". This poorly understood community is called untouchables or Dalit, a term borrowed from India. The literal meaning of Dalit in the Nepali dictionary is "the person who is suppressed". An intellectual Dr. Drona Prakash Rasali proposes the word "Karmajan" to refer to, in a more dignified manner, the people of occupational castes in Nepal.

In the context of Nepal, there is no consensus on definitions as well as on the number of Dalit communities. Based on prevailing social practices, the National Dalit Commission identified 22 major castes as Dalit. In 1997, Dalit Vikas Samiti identified 23 various cultural groups as Dalits, and Dalit Ayog (formed in March 2002) forwarded the Bill to the government identifying 28 cultural groups as Dalits in Nepal.

insight_march

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Warning: Ayyankali Ahead!

Ajith Kumar A S

ayyan_2

At Vellayambalam junction in Trivandrum, Ayyankali stands in the centre. We have to circle the Ayyankali square to get to our destinations. The heavy traffic in the junction may not help us to take a passing glance at the statue most of the time. But our politics would. That could never be a glance at all. It is an important place for the Dalits. Most of the processions by Dalit organizations begin from there. It's a great place of inspiration. On Ayyankali Jayanthi, Dalit organizations gather there to celebrate. It seems Ayyankali Jayanthi is just for Dalits who celebrate it. On that day he belongs to Dalits. The progressive Malayalis would always fight caste reservation with all the strength they have but they have no problem with reserving "Ayyankali " for the Dalits that day. Otherwise they would say Ayyankali was a social reformer or renaissance leader of Kerala. They would place Ayyankali at a historical moment constructed as the one that led to a modern Kerala. That is, he is conveniently placed outside the history of modern Kerala. I will be discussing this later in this note. Coming back to the Ayyankali square it is said that this park is going to be removed for road widening. It is an irony that the fighter who fought for the right to access public roads and public space has been considered as an "obstruction" for traveling.

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The Murder of Dalit-Bahujan King Mahabali and the Myth of Onam

James Michael

(For Dalit Camera: Through Un-Touchable Eyes)

onam

Onam is the only national festival of Kerala that has assumed a universal secular character. Other popular festivals like Christmas or Bakrid are closely identified with particular religions like Christianity and Islam. Although many Keralities participate in non-Hindu festivals, Onam assumes its certain universality in terms of its close identification with the 'essence' of Kerala. Onam celebrates the return of the mythical asura king Mahabali who was pushed down to the nether world by Vamana, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Vamana, in the form of a diminutive Brahmin, asks for three paces of land to Bali and grows so huge that the king has to offer his own head for placing Vamana's third step. Mahabali, then, is pushed down to hell from where he is granted return only once a year. It should be remembered that, before the appearance of Vamana, Kerala was seen as a land free of moral ills like lies and deceptions. Anyhow, the 'gift of the land to Brahmin' myth goes well with other 'gift of the land' myths in Kerala like the Parasurama myth. In the Parasurama myth Kerala is founded by sage Parasurama who then proceeds to gift this land to Brahmins.

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Caste isn't efficient or capable

Kuffir

Aakar Patel explains why Brahmins and Vaishyas dominate India's corporate boardrooms:

My view has long been that these are our only two capable castes. It is largely from merit that they dominate.

Pitted against such sheer unabashed racism, the arguments of the Sangh Parivar ideologue Gurumurthy, who has long been an advocate of caste as a 'development vehicle', seem like refreshing, unbiased wisdom. In fact, Gurumurthy's oft repeated paeans to caste based enterprises offer the most efficient refutation of Patel's Two Supercastes theory.

donor_brahmin

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Some 'Non-Meritorious' Reflections: Reservation Policy and Its Side Effects

Anoop Kumar

(This article was first published in INSIGHT in its November 2004 issue on 'Reservations'. Anoop Kumar is one of the founder-members of the magazine)

1. Why India continuously gets outwitted by Pakistan in diplomacy at various international fora? Can any of the readers guess?

No? Let me explain to you.

It is because in Pakistan there is no reservation and hence it is able to produce fine diplomats whereas India, due to reservation, is unable to produce such (diplomats) to defend its interests.

insight_november_2004_copy

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What can a ‘sincere’ Dalit do?

Pardeep Attri

My final words of advice to you are Educate, Agitate and Organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is a battle for freedom. It is a battle for the reclamation of the human personality - Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.

editor_ambedkar

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It's caste policing, not plain 'moral' policing

 

Kuffir

policing_mindset

An article in The Times of India a couple of days ago, titled 'Missing the point on policing the moral police', expresses anger over the fact that instead of commiserating with the victims of the recent attack by Hindutva goons on a private party in a resort in Mangalore 'a section of society is delivering homilies on women and culture'. The writer adds:

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Don't Give Me Red!

Ajith Kumar A S

ajith_kumar_copyGoing straight into the matter, let me confirm that this note is my response to Anand Teltumbde's article "It's Not Red Vs Blue" published in Outlook ( Aug 20, 2012). I am sure that it is not a comprehensive critique of the article. But rather I will be sharing some questions that came up in my mind while I read that article. The article seems to be an invitation to both dalits and the left for a creative engagement. The title says "It's Not Red Vs Blue". And the explanation of the title is "Ambedkar was more about class than caste, but the Left won't see it that way". I think the problem starts there or I would rather say, it is the first thing that started troubling me. Is he trying to say that the only way Marxists and dalits can come together is by reducing Dr Ambedkar's politics into class? And that the merging of caste into class, the "master category", that an alliance is possible? If he means that, I feel, this article is a call to the dalits to give up the caste question and merge into class. I felt from the beginning to the end of the article that it tries to convince that Ambedkar was talking more about class than caste so that dalits can move on to Marxism and that Marxists can appropriate Ambedkar.

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Will Sikh Leaders install Hindu Gods in the Golden Temple?


Pardeep Attri

The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history, Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. The world around it will forget even faster. The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. - Milan Kundera.

punjab_hindutva

In the month June 2012, the Government of Punjab announced that it will set up a 'cow memorial' at a factory site in Joga town, Mansa District, where recovery of cow carcasses had sparked off riots. And a day after announcing a 'cow memorial', the Badal Government further announced it will constitute a 'cow commission'  to 'prevent cruelties against the holy animal'. Mr. Badal even made a visit to the factory where cow slaughter was supposedly taking place and instructed the DGP to look into the cases of cow slaughter with interest and thoroughly. Mr. Badal and his party members didn't even have the time to pay a visit to the blanket factory at Jalandhar which collapsed in April 2012 and which left more than 10 people dead and 100s badly injured. Not even a single statement came in favor of dead or injured in the one of worst factory accidents of Punjab's history. Was it because people working at that factory were poor and their lives were not as important as the lives of cows? And recently, when a madman at a Wisconsin Sikh Gurdwara killed 6 people, Mr. Badal, CM of Punjab, decided to visit Wisconsin! Isn't it strange that when in his home state, thousands Dalits are being tortured and when the crime rate against Dalits is going up day by day, he decided to visit Wisconsin to comfort Sikhs of Wisconsin? Is it because these people living abroad finance him and support his party during the election time and the poor Dalits don't have as much money to donate? So Dalit voices are left unheard.

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Wherever Dalits assert themselves, there is a massacre!

 

Ravi Chandran

All the atrocities committed on Dalits are a result of Dalit assertion. This was also exposed on the intellectual level recently, when some Dalits theorized on the Ambedkar cartoon and the non-Dalit intellectuals joined hands for an all out war against them; in this too they found a few amenable Dalit intellectuals to pamper. The 'pampered' Dalits are a serious problem for the Dalit movement at the grassroots level. Take the case of Khairlanji, where the Inspector, Doctor were all Dalits but still the doctor's report and the FIR, which was not registered according to the law, were manipulated. The present case of violence in Lakshmipeta throws a serious challenge to the Dalit movement in contemporary politics. Mr. Sudarshan, the Sub-Inspector of the area, is a Dalit (Mala); the Circle Inspector Mr. Shashibhushan is a Dalit; Additional DSP Sagar is Mala; DSP Mr. Bala Mani belongs to a Scheduled Tribe;  on top of all, Mr. Kondru Murali, Dalit (Mala) MLA of the constituency, is also the Health Minister in the present Congress government. Though all these people were there, still Dalits in that region were murdered brutally. This article focuses on the background of the attack and the politics of a few Dalit organizations whose stand seems to be aligned with the state government.

lakshimpeta_vijayawada

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Well done Mary Kom!

(The impact of Mary Kom's bronze, and what it means for the North East)

Kima

A few hours ago, Mary Kom lost her semi finals bout against home team's Nicola Adams. I was here at home in Khar West, Mumbai, watching the match with my friends Akshay, Syed, Param, Pooja and Ajay. We actually set the alarm on our phones for 6pm so that we that we wouldn't miss the fight. In fact we didn't miss a single fight of hers this Olympics 2012.

She lost, but all of us were bloody proud of her.

mary-flag

I was especially proud of her because she's from the North East.

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Mockery of Reservation at the University of Delhi

Academic Forum for Social Justice

The University of Delhi is a fully funded Central University established under an Act of Parliament. As per the provisions of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admissions) Act of 2006 (CEI Act), the University should reserve its seats as follows: 15% for Scheduled Castes, 7.5% for Scheduled Tribes, and 27% for Other Backward Classes. However, what is practiced in the University is a systematic denial of seats to the students belonging to the reserved categories. The University has been given huge amounts as grants to provide reservation, but the seats of the reserved categories are systematically diverted to the General Category.

The following data obtained through the Right to Information Act (Original Application No. 1208 of 2012) by the Academic Forum for Social Justice, an organization of the teachers of the University, is, to say the least, shocking. Just in the year 2011, the University left vacant more than 6000 seats earmarked for the reserved categories. At the same time, there is gross over admission in the General Category. The following table is based on the information given by the University (Reply No. Info/OA/1208/ 2012/6198, dated 31 July 2012):

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