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Janlokpal bill: a brahmanic and patriarchal script

 

Anu Ramdas

The Jan Lokpal bill is under 35 pages. The creators of this document successfully manufactured a 'revolution' out of this. The corporate media sold it as such, and some academics called it a 'movement'.

Media and academia largely did not comment on the contents of the document. Their preoccupation was with the leaders on the dais and the people on the Ramlila grounds.

In a caste ordered, rigidly patriarchal society like ours, exclusion of dalitbahujan men and women is the default status when socio-political changes are framed by upper-caste, male-dominated power groups, such as Kejriwal's team. Unless contested, this group of unelected civil society actors will not concede their male and caste privileges. Hence all their formulations have to be meticulously examined for their apparent and hidden biases against women and non-dominant castes.

vishnu-narada-lokpal

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What does Dr.Ambedkar say about the Bhagvat Gita?

 

Kuffir

As the court in the Siberian town of Tomsk deliberates on whether the Bhagvat Gita is 'extremist' literature, the Indian government and parliament seem to have forgotten their own sanctimonious injunction of 'non-inteference in the internal affairs of other countries' (used traditionally to defend such obnoxious pratices as 'untouchability' and 'caste discrimination') to pressurise the Russian goverment to subvert due legal process and somehow persuade the Tomskians to find the Gita non-extremist. And as expected, Indian mainstream media, which has often gone to extreme lengths to protect its exclusive upper caste character, is now going into an overdrive finding men and mantras to defend the Gita. But what was not expected was certain views of Dr.Ambedkar, quoted out of context, being cited to defend, obliquely, the philosophy of the Gita, in at least one popular internet magazine. Which is very disturbing, considering Dr. Ambedkar had clearly called the Gita 'counter-revolutionary'. It is also worth noting that it is the same magazine which had earlier tried to label Dr. Ambedkar's economic philosophy as monetarist, and as supporting free markets.

ambedkar in library

 

What does Dr. Ambedkar say about the Bhagvat Gita? He specifically talks about the Gita in one unfinished chapter of his book 'Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India' (Chapter 9, of Part III, which you can find online here, at Ambedkar.org). The Chapter is called 'Essays on the Bhagwat Gita : Philosophic Defence of Counter-Revolution: Krishna and His Gita'. In the introductory part of the chapter, he quotes various modern scholars' views on the Gita, their thoughts on its 'contradictions' and 'inconsistencies'. In the excerpt published below, Babasaheb outlines his core arguments. The excerpt has been arranged to resemble an interview, but this interview never happened. 

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Killings in the name of witchcraft

Karthik Navayan

[A February, 2010 article in Oneworld South Asia gives us an idea about the scale of the problem of 'witch-hunting' in rural India: 'Statistics on witch-hunting crimes compiled by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) are a cause of concern. The NCRB reported that in 2007, 177 cases of witchcraft-related murders were reported from the above mentioned states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Orissa). Jharkhand had the dubious distinction of reporting 50 witchcraft- related murders, followed by Andhra Pradesh with 33; Haryana at 30; Orissa with 28; Madhya Pradesh with 14, Chhattisgarh with 8 and Gujarat with only one reported case.' 

Other news reports say: 'Between 2001 and 2008, 452 women were killed in Jharkhand, according to a report by an NGO, Association for Social and Human Activities'

As with all other instances of atrocities, obviously, what is being recorded by activists, noticed by officialdom and reported in the mainstream media represents only a mere tiny fragment of what's actually happening. Karthik Navayan, who has studied a few cases of witch-hunting in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh, shares his thoughts on the issue in this article-- Round Table India]

dalit_woman_activist_copy_copy

Not just a legislation - Political will is needed to fight it

We know people are killed in the name of factions, and 'encounters', but the number of people branded and killed as sorcerers is also of a similar scale. Literacy doesn't seem to make a difference to people's thinking: not only the illiterate but even the educated encourage belief in such superstitions. As society itself is producing this kind of 'sorcerers', the very society must put an end to such superstitious beliefs. 

Dr. Ambedkar had said, the villages in our country are full of illiteracy, foolishness, and factions. The atmosphere in village society hasn't been conducive for change right from Ambedkar's time. Some people in the villages are exploiting the beliefs of the common people in the notions of devils, mantras etc. The notion of god itself is the root of all superstition. So first of all, we have to strike at this root and only then will we be able to remove all such superstitions.

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For a popular movement against caste discrimination

Milon Das

We live in one of the poorest countries of the world. From a geographical perspective, Bangladesh is located within the Indian sub-continent. And here, since a very long time, the caste system has engulfed all venues of life. Many think that Bangladesh being predominantly a Muslim country caste discrimination does not apply to it. This thought however is highly mistaken. Even in a Muslim country like Bangladesh caste discrimination is pervasive, having infiltrated the texture of culture and thus having become common practice in every religious community, Christians included. Because of caste discrimination, in the sub-continent, so called outcaste people are deprived of their human dignity and rights. Even at present hundreds of millions of people are considered lesser human beings simply because of their work and low birth status.

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Caste through Democracy part-II

Prabin Dhangada Majhi

Even the staunchest supporters of reservation flinch at the question of rich SC/ST students hogging the quota.The following discussion, on a request from fellow blogger Yayavar, assumes we have a similar understanding of the reservation policy which I have outlined previously. So I'll build up on that, and in case we differ, we need to resolve that before we get into the nitty-gritty like this one.

The first question I would ask is, does it-with the rich SC/ST getting in through quota-meet the objective of the reservation policy- a mechanism which ensures adequate representation from all sections of the society in a democracy?

jrf_creamy_layer

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Caste through Democracy part-I

Prabin Dhangada Majhi

We must begin with an education in democracy. Without assuming democracy can be of just one form and can be summed up only thus, let's define it as a process where all citizens participate in decision making and are influenced, equally. Because, most large democracies are representative democracies following an aggregation of choices/voices/votes, representation is crucial to uphold equality. It is just a form of governance to begin with, it does not do away with pre-existing social groupings and social hierarchies. So it seeks to dismantle the later, at least in the functioning of the democracy.

voice_of_voiceless

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Dalit woman leader not allowed to lead

Translation by Lavanya Raj Bharathi 


An atrocity such as this continues unstopped, only in Tamilnadu. This atrocity is yet another example for how caste inequalities run strong and deep in the state's soil, like the roots of the Banyan.

On Wednesday, the Kayaththar panchayat (near Kovilpatti) committee meeting took place in the panchayat committee office. The announcements for the meeting were carried out according to the rules and regulations of the local administration. Based on these rules, the Collector, the Planning Officer, the MP, MLA, District Panchayat President, Assistant Director of Rural development, Panchayat Officer, District Development Officer, members of the committee, Press and Television media personnel, were all informed of the meeting.

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The Touch of Ambedkar (part II)

by Thamburaj Dharmaraj 

(Continued from The Touch of Ambedkar (Part I))

The shadow puppeteers’ mother tongue is not Tamil.  Among themselves they speak a remote dialect of Marathi, which is their only communicative medium.  To interact with others they use Tamil language.  They claim their caste identity as ‘Mandikar’.  The names of men of this community have the suffix ‘Rao’ while names of women have ‘Bai’.

They retell a popular migration tale regarding their arrival in Tamilnadu from the present day Maharashtra way back during the reign of King Saraboji of Tanjore.  Their oral records recounts a tale about their migration with the regiments of the king.  Such stories of affiliation with the state and power for their community give them immense pleasure.  Moreover they strongly believed that their community’s existence was solely to sing and spread the story of Rama. 

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The Touch of Ambedkar (part I)

by Thamburaj Dharmaraj 

The assignment is of performing the story of Ambedkar in a folk art form, shadow puppetry.  Shadow puppet theatre is widely held in the southern districts of Tamilnadu.  Though it is prevalent in most of the South Asian countries it is habitually getting ostracized in the villages and performance opportunity is on the decline for the past fifteen years.  As most of the puppeteers have deserted the tradition of performance and turned into migrant laborers wandering in the cities, the history of puppeteers who survive in Tamilnadu is absorbing.

The puppeteers of Tamilnadu

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Campaign for Pasmanda Revolution

[This document elucidates the political programme of the Shoshit Samaj Dal, which is working chiefly to promote the cause of social justice, with specific emphasis on representation for the pasmanda sections, dalits and backward castes, among Muslims- Round Table India]

Translation by Khalid Anis Ansari

 

Shoshit Samaj Dal

Campaign for Pasmanda Revolution

 

Everyone utters what is written in the gospels, I utter what I see with my eyes!!!

~Baba Kabir

If we have to put an end to communalism, the idea of two-nation theory should be buried. RSS and Jana Sangh are the largest banner bearers of Jinnah's two-nation theory in this country. So I have been emphasising on the matter that all parties, functioning on communal ground, should be legally banned whether these are RSS, Jana Sangh, Jamaat-e-Islami or Muslim League. But I do not think that mere legal ban on communal parties will solve the problem....a country-wide movement is needed along with ban on communal parties.

~Fakhr-e-Qaum Abdul Qaiyum Ansari

Ninety out of hundred are the oppressed, Ninety is our share,

The rule of ten over ninety will have to go, will have to go!!!

~Amar Shaheed Jagdeo Prasad Kushwaha

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'Palimpsest of Ethnic Fundamentalism'

by Madhuri Xalxo

[In his letter declining the Gandhi Foundation award, Dr Binayak Sen refers to the protest against the award nomination, and Madhuri Xalxo responds to it- Round Table India]

"The original citation of the Gandhi International Peace Award when it came, was a surprise, as I on my own had never claimed to be a representative of the tribal people of India. However, I had always proudly claimed the heritage of a vernacular and indigenous life-world that was egalitarian and sustainable, and since the awarding body was free to make its own ascription, I humbly accepted the responsibility being put on me. I was fully aware that there could be many views about my fitness to undertake such a task, but it never occurred to me that my ethnic identity, in that I was not ethnically a member of the tribal people of India, would stand in my way.

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Durga ka Mithak aur Bahujan Sangharsh ki Gatha: a documentary

'The myth of Durga and the saga of Bahujan resistance'

Bahujan Films

This short documentary (posted at the end of this note) named 'Durga ka Mithak aur Bahujan Sangharsh ki Yatra' has its genesis in the OBC students of the country's premier university, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, asserting their right to redefine the brahminical religious texts that portrays the brahminical hegemony of 'upper' castes in the Indian society.

These students believe that the so called Hindu gods and goddess and the festivals surrounding their myths are nothing but the history of 'upper' castes domination over the indigenous population of the country – SC, ST and OBCs and therefore the time has come to re-interpret these texts with Bahujan perspective.

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