D.C. Ahir: A Legend in Buddhist and Ambedkar Studies


Shiv Shankar Das

dc_1Diwan Chand Ahir (28 Feb, 1928 – 12 July, 2012), a great researcher on Buddhism and Dr. Ambedkar who published 72 books, would be always remembered among the academicians and researchers all over the world. His association with Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar left a great impact on him and his works. He has many awards to his credit. The Government of Sri Lanka conferred on him the honour of 'Buddha Sasanajyoti' on 19th January, 2003. On 26th January, 2010, he was awarded 'Samyak Prakashan Sahitya Samman 2010' for his remarkable contribution to literature by Samyak Prakashan, Delhi. On 30th November, 2001, the Mahabodhi Society of India (Sarnath) conferred on him the honorary title of 'Bauddha Sahitya Shiromani'. As he has passed away on 12th July, 2012, it would be a rich tribute to him to remember his life, events, writings and other valuable contributions. To commorate him, this article is divided into the following six parts:

  • Interview with him, conducted by myself and Prof. Timothy Fitzgerald,
  • Hiis life sketch,
  • His sssociation with Babsaheb Dr. Ambedkar,
  • Towards Buddhism,
  • His writings
  • His participation in Seminars & conferences.


Stop Attacking Dalit Statues and Dalit Pride


Pardeep Attri

If you want to destroy a society, destroy its history and the society will get destroyed automaticallyDr. Ambedkar.

On 26th July, a statue of Behan Mayawati was broken in Lucknow; a day later, three statues of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar were broken in Azamgarh and on 30th July, another statue of Dr. Ambedkar was vandalised in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. All this is not new and has been happening to Dalit leaders' statues, Dalit idols or icons, Dalit places and Dalit history since ages. Numerous Dalit saints/gurus were killed - such as Sant Chakardhar, Sant Namdev, Sant Tukaram, Guru Ravidas, Sant Chokhamela; people even tried to kill Mahatma Jyotiba Phule & Shahuji Maharaj. Dalit history has been maligned and distorted since ages. Historians are supposed to be free from fear, to be sincere, open minded, open hearted truth seekers & also courageous enough to show the truth at any cost. But it is the misfortune of Dalits of India that historians have shown a distorted picture & never showed truth to the people. Being Dalit, we have been taught to hate ourselves, we have been taught that Dalits' don't have any history; we have been taught Dalits can't do any good. Who taught you all this? Upper caste people did.



Is Judiciary Biased Against Adivasis?

Gladson Dungdung

On 15 July, 2012, in the afternoon, the weather was cool, the sky was cloudy and it was drizzling. Hundreds of Adivasis of Nagri village entered into the central hall of the Birsa Agriculture University, Ranchi, with the single point agenda to get back their agricultural lands, which had been captured by the State with the power of the Gun. In fact the Birsa Agriculture University was also built on their land after snatching it from their ancestors. They have been resisting the forceful and illegal land acquisition because the present government has been attempting to grab rest of their land in the name of growth and development. They are well aware that if they surrender their land in front of the Gun, they'll become landless, homeless and helpless. Their survival, identity and existence will vanish. Therefore, they were there to attend a meeting called by the "High Power Committee" constituted by the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Arjun Munda, on the basis of an order of the Jharkhand High Court, which states that the Government should resolve the land row of Nagri within a week otherwise the court will directly deal with the land owners.



Dalit Camera: Past Achievements, Principles and an Appeal


Dalit Camera: Past Achievements, Principles and an Appeal to Contribute


Ravi Chandran, Dalit Camera Team

One year ago, a Dalit (Arunthathiyar) woman Panchayat President was brutally attacked. She did a remarkable job in her Panchayat as a Panchayat President. This was the fourth Dalit Panchayat President who was attacked. She is the only one to survive. The entire Arunthathiyar movement was protesting. I also wanted to contribute to the protest, so I made a documentary [Check the link: Ms.Krishnaveni, Panchayat President, Victim of Caste system]. That was the beginning of what is today known as Dalit Camera.

One of the great Dalit leaders, Mr. Pasupathi Pandian, was brutally murdered in Tamil Nadu. Many Dalits leaders, irrespective of their sub-caste, remarked that Pasupathi Pandian was one among the very few who talked about equality for all. Despite such a widely shared opinion, there are no videos of that great leader to tell us his views (despite which however, I have to say, his contribution to Dalits in Tamil Nadu can never be erased from history). His brief life history can be read in the following link 'I am not a slave and don't make me a slave'- Annan Pasupathi Pandian, a tribute.



Historian of the Lions

Karthik Navayan

'Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter' an African saying tells you. This is the age when indigenous tribes and castes are rewriting their histories. This is the age when new historians, digging deep into the raging conflagrations of untouchability and humiliations of their pasts, are posing new challenges to contemporary historians by formulating their own history.


What is the history of the indigenous communities who are now recognized as poor, untouchable and mere voters eagerly looking forward to the announcement of various schemes by the government? If we go back 400-500 years, shall we find them in the same state as they are in now? Were their lives the same? The so called eminent contemporary historians have no satisfactory answers to the many questions raised by the indigenous communities. This reveals the hollowness of our current educational establishment, of the research efforts in the knowledge producing institutions. It lays bare the undemocratic nature of the educational system in the country.


What can a ‘sincere’ upper caste person do?

Pardeep Attri

It's just like when you've got some coffee that's too black, which means it's too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won't even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep – Malcolm X.

After I wrote the last article on Untouchability & Satyamev Jayate, I got an email asking me - so do I think no upper caste person does any good for Dalits? It is a perfect time for this question. I had wanted to write on the same topic for some time now as there was a discussion going on in a forum on almost the same topic – do organisations owned/run by upper caste people really do any work for Dalits?



Marichjhapi and the Revenge of Bengali Bhadralok

(First published in Insight blog in 2009)

Anoop Kumar, Ajay Hela and Nilesh Kumar


Exactly 30 years ago, Dalits, in West Bengal, came to realize the true nature of Indian state that is being dominated, in every sense, by a tiny section of population but at a great personal cost. It was in 1979, when thousands of Dalits, refugees from East Bengal (now Bangladesh) lost their lives at Marichjhapi, in Sunderbans, for their dream of resettling in the region which they considered part of their motherland.

Marichjhapi is just once incident in the tragic tale of one of the most powerful Dalit Community-Namashudras of Bengal - who first became the victim of Hindu-Muslim communalism during the partition and later became the victims of their castes in independent India.


Who Owns The “Country”?

Ajith Kumar A S

ajith_kumarWhile having tea at local tea shops around Trivandrum city I have seen lot of workers, may be from Bengal, Orissa or Bihar. They (A problem- No other terms to use other than "they") would be very active having tea, snacks, talking to each other, talking to the shopkeeper, laughing, talking on phone. For many years I have been seeing this. They have been a part of our city life and the economic process. There are many shops that sustain/depend on the migrant workers. They keep a strong connection with their relatives. We hear them talking on phone with their relatives and family in their languages unfamiliar to us. They do have relatives, families, places they have grown up in, places to return. "We" do have relatives working in different places and we do keep close relations with them. What makes migrant workers from the "north" different or how do they "disturb" or become a threat for "us"? The question would be who owns what is known as Kerala?


“Two glass system” in a Central University: The unseen ways of caste discrimination

Hany Babu

hany_babuThe University of Delhi, which is the biggest central university of our country, ranked above all the other central universities, and situated in the urban space of the national capital, would, as per typical (read upper-caste, middle-class, urban) responses, not be the kind of place where there can be much relevance to caste, or caste based discrimination. Caste based problems, such people might say, exist only in remote villages these days. Not surprisingly, you are likely to find more people at this University who have an antipathy towards caste-based reservation. Thus, most of the revolutionary intellectuals and academicians who occupy the space of this university talk extensively about the attack by the imperialist and neo-colonial forces on the university space, but very rarely would you see them getting engaged in issues related to caste or reservation. Moreover, the government has the reservation policy and they have been getting students (in whatsoever numerical fraction) from these "categories." But how many know about the second-class treatment meted out to the candidates from SC/ST categories who try to secure admission in this world-class university?


Untouchability and Satyamev Jayate

Pardeep Attri

Few days back, I watched the episode "Untouchability – Dignity For All" on the Satyamev Jayate show on 8th July, 2012. Many people rated it as a 'great' show but I don't accept it as a 'great' show. It was just another show made with the intention of earning profits and TRP. There was nothing on the show which common public didn't know apart from the clippings from Stalin K's documentary – India Untouched. (And if you are a bit conscious on human rights, you would have already seen that documentary!) We all know Dalit students face discrimination; Dalit couples are killed because of inter-caste marriages, who doesn't know that caste remarks are not uncommon in India? (Read "I have a Dream" for more detail, describing where Dalits face discrimination and what a Dalit dreams about.) 


The episode started with the heart touching story of Dr. Kaushal Panwar, professor at Delhi University. She spoke about her upbringing and the caste discrimination she faced during her childhood and during her student life. Her life story is no different from that of most of the Dalits in India. Discrimination that Dr. Kaushal faced at JNU is of no surprise because even today Dalit students are murdered in professional colleges due to caste discrimination.


Unpacking 'Fulminations': Caste and Patriarchy


Continued from here.

Anu Ramdas

Hira Bansode in her poem Ghulam ('Slave') writes:

hira_bansode_copy_copyWhere a woman in her youth is dried up by tradition

she is confined all her life like a stunted tree

she remains in the shadow of someone else's light

In that country a woman is still a slave


'We have seen Dalit intellectuals fulminate rightly against an unmarked and global feminism, and now it seems important that they examine their own complicity with the violent politics of caste patriarchy and masculinity' - V Geetha.

The above quote is also from the same article in The Hindu to which I refer, in 'My Man'. This statement about dalit intellectuals commenting on feminism is surely backed by solid evidence, given that it is being made to the national audience of this newspaper. So where exactly have these dalit intellectuals made these 'fulminations'? Who are they? What are the citations? If this author is referring to dalit intellectuals' interventions in Indian languages, one wonders why such texts have not been translated and made available, as the English-reading audience of this newspaper is being referred to the existence of this discourse?


The Reservation Debate and the Hypocritical Misuse of Article 335

Devi Dayal

"Article 335 of our constitution states that the claims of the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes shall be taken into consideration, consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration, in the making of appointments to services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State"

There is no doubt that it is necessary to maintain efficiency in administration to achieve the best performance in every aspect to give the necessary thrust for the progress of our country. Since its inception, the topic of reservation is highly debated and these debates have resulted in the general perception that performance of our country has been hampered only due to reservation. Further advancing the debate to the next level many 'intellectuals' have concluded that inefficiency in administration arises only due to reservation for S.C. & S.T. This version uses the support of Article 335.



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