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Dalit History Month

 

Paari. chelian

 Black Americans have protested the slavery and racism thrust on them by the Whites through many forums including those of Black literature and politics. One such forum is Black History Month. They announced and celebrate February as Black History Month to redeem their racial history that has been side-lined so far. February is an important month in Black history - this is the month in which people like Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and W.E.B. Du Bois, who fought against the system of slavery, were born. The big corporate houses and the American government also celebrate Black History Month. Stamps to honour leading members of the Black community are issued in this time.

dalit_history

Using the celebrations of Black History Month as an example, Dalits announced and celebrate April as Dalit History Month to redeem the history of the struggles for social emancipation and political service of Dalit leaders who have been ignored and deliberately forgotten, to write about this history and take it to the people through various media. Towards redeeming for research the histories that were hidden, twisted and re-written vengefully by the Brahmin and middle-castes, pamphlets and books are published and conferences organised as part of the Dalit History Month celebrations every April. It is most appropriate to observe this in April, the month that the revolutionary Ambedkar was born. He remains the most important symbol for Dalit people in the struggle against untouchability and caste.

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The Polyphony of Dalit Criticism in Malayalam

Dr Ajay Sekher

The contemporary critical practice that evolves within the Dalit writing in Malayalam is vibrant with a variety of voices and divergent perspectives. There is an increased presence of people from all walks of life cutting across age, gender and community here. The diversity and difference that exist in the socio cultural life of the marginalized also get reflected in their intellectual and cultural interventions.

We have intellectuals engaging with historiography, literary and cultural criticism, social and political commentary, activist propaganda and other modes of critical enquiry. Though they differ in various issues and points of view the ideological underpinning is the social justice and democracy paradigm embedded in the works of Dr Ambedkar. The significance of Ambekar is that the democratic movement he led was a historic act for regaining the voice and agency of the subaltern in India silenced and crushed for many millennia (Omvedt). It was a radical attempt to break “the silences of centuries that brood over the history of invasion and colonization” as Toni Morrison puts it while looking at the history of racism in her Afro American context (Morrison).

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Why We Oppose Arvind Kejriwal & Anna Hazare

Why We Oppose Arvind Kejriwal (Anna Hazare) in JNU

--Students Against Anna Team

[A few days ago, Arvind Kejriwal, leader of the Jan Lokpal movement and also a mentor of some anti-reservation outfits, faced some tough questions from students at JNU when he tried to address a gathering there. As expected, none of the mainstream papers or channels tried to elicit the students' views, lend space to their voices. The whole event was only barely covered, except for a scattered report or two, like this one in Aaj Tak, the Hindi channel, there was not much else. Obviously, Brahminical media wants to play down any dissent against the casteist 'India Against Corruption' led Jan Lokpal movement. In this pamphlet, progressive, anti-caste students from JNU explain their opposition-- Round Table India]

dowry_rates_copy• We want a corruption free society but not at the cost of Parliamentary Democracy. Janlokpal bill poses serious challenges to parliamentary democracy, and there is no alternative to parliamentary democracy. If elected leaders are corrupt, they can be held responsible for their actions, as they are answerable to the people who vote for them. On the other hand, Janlokpal is not responsible or answerable to anyone, so how can one guarantee that Janlokpal would not be corrupt? Will the members of Janlokpal come from heaven or will they be angels?

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On Yanadis, committed activism and a successful land struggle

 

Karthik Navayan

 

I don't know

Whether it is athiesm or animism

But I am the Adi Dalit

Who first excommunicated Brahmanvad.

-- from the Telugu poem 'Yanadonni' by G.V. Ratnakar.

~~~

ay_8_copy

In 2006, Thupakula Munemma, a Yanadi tribeswoman in Nellore district, received a parcel from the local Revenue Divisional Officer through post. Munemma was an activist of ARD, or Association for Rural Development, a social service organization based in Gudur of SPS Nellore District where the population of Yanadi tribe is large. ARD worked in the area of child rights and development, and mainstreamed several orphan children who were found on the streets and railway stations, by providing them with education and health facilities.

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Mind over Savanur

 

Kuffir

If India were a country of 18 crores, instead of 118 crores or so, all the excitement in the media would make more sense. A panelist on a TV debate on the Union Budget, for instance, expresses warm approval of a particular proposal, saying: 'infrastructure would help the poor more than subsidies in the long run'.

scarecrowThere are several presumptions impelling that little outburst: one, the poor don't want infrastructure, or don't understand its value or are shortsighted or hold all of those attitudes, opinions. Two, the poor want sops and handouts, and therefore are lazy and suffer from a weak work ethic. Three, infrastructure is meant for everyone, even if it is a games village worth 60,000 crore rupees in Delhi which starts crumbling down even as it is being built. Four, subsidies are for exclusively the poor, and most of them don't go to the non-poor.

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The Death of Merit: Failure of India's Premier Educational Institutions

Gurinder Singh Azad

Is it embedded hatred within elite institutes and their students and faculty against reserved category students, or it is merely coincidence, that of the students committing suicide in the premier institutes of this nation, the number belonging to the reserved category students is much higher?

ekalavya_doctor

Once again, it is AIIMS that finds itself in the news. On 3 March, Anil Kumar Meena, a tribal student from Baran, Rajasthan, hung himself in hostel No. 6 in the AIIMS campus. The eldest amongst his siblings, Anil Kumar, was the son of a poor farmer. He scored 75% in Class XII and got second rank in the AIIMS entrance examination. However, his dream of becoming a doctor could not succeed in the unsupportive ambience of AIIMS. Anil, despite qualifying in all the basic criteria for admission, endured a torrid time at AIIMS, facing humiliation because he had a Hindi-medium education and belonged to the reserved category. Backed into a corner by circumstance, this was his last revolt against the arrogance of AIIMS, one in which he gave up his life.

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Dalit Feminism

M. Swathy Margaret

(First Published in Insight Youth Voices magazine in 2005)

I am a Dalit-middle-class, University educated, Telugu speaking Dalit-Christian-Woman. All these identities have a role in the way I perceive myself and the worlds I inhabit. I, as a Dalit woman, primarily write for Dalit women to uphold our interests. This statement of mine is necessary because if we do not define ourselves for ourselves, we will be defined by others – for their use and to our detriment. This voice is not representative of all Dalit women. However, I know that my voice is important because it is the voice of a socially denigrated category, suppressed and silenced.

dalit_women_dalit_movement

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AIIMS: A Death Trap for Aspiring Reserved Category Students

Gurinder Singh Azad

[Gurinder Singh Azad, of the Dalit & Adivasi Students' Portal, was involved in the Death of Merit campaign against caste discrimination and suicides of Dalit, Adivasi students in India's premier educational institutions. The tragic death of Anil Kumar Meena, a tribal student from a marginalized background, in AIIMS brings back memories of the suspicious death, which was never fully investigated, of Dr Balmukund Bharti two years ago, also at AIIMS. Balmukund's death (please watch the testimonies of Dr Bharti's family on the circumstances, engineered in AIIMS, that brought about his death) had come three years after the Thorat Committee, appointed expressly to look into caste discimination in AIIMS had submitted its report. If the powers that be had bothered to seriously look into what the report said and worked on its recommendations Dr Bharti's death could have been avoided (please read what the Death of Merit campaign had discovered about 'Who killed Dr Balmukund Bharti in AIIMS?') and so could Anil Kumar Meena's death, perhaps.

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What is wrong with Bhagvad Gita? (Part III)

 

Rahul Bhalerao

Continued from here.

rahul_bhalerao_copy_copy_copyTo the question 'what do Karma and Guna exactly mean according to Gita?' a generic and philosophical meaning is proffered as the answer. According to this response, Karma is any act or deed, be it good or bad, which in turn produces good Karma or bad Karma respectively. But, irrespective of the best philosophical arguments one makes, based on one's own convenient interpretations, the subject dealt with in the Gita remains independent of those interpretations.

Yes, Gita does talk at length about good Karma, bad Karma, past Karma etc.; but it certainly does not use the term 'Karma' in a generic form throughout. This is why I said that defenders do not give a holistic picture while justifying Gita. Let us see what Gita says immediately after its declaration on the forming of the four-fold Varna system in verse 4.13:

From 4.14 onwards, Krishna goes on to explain what he means by Karma:

Chapter 4, Verse 15:

"Evam jnaatwaa kritam karma poorvair api mumukshubhih|

Kuru karmaiva tasmaat twam poorvaih poorvataram kritam||"

"Having known this, the ancient seekers after freedom also performed actions; therefore, do thou perform actions as did the ancients in days of yore."

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What is wrong with Bhagvad Gita? (Part II)

Rahul Bhalerao

Continued from here.

rahul_bhalerao_copyComing back to the justifications given by the supporters of Gita, one finds that they are merely based on a few ambiguous individual verses scattered around the Gita. They certainly lack the holistic understanding and message that Gita preaches; let alone the interpretations that have evolved in practice since the period of Gita. More significantly, what these theoretical interpretations display is the ignorance of the nature of the Caste system in everyday practice that has existed for thousands of years.

While one can make a hundred attempts at justifying that Caste as per the Gita is based on Karma alone and it is only meant for the good of society, but it would be a grave mistake to ignore the practical nature of Caste, which is based solely on birth for thousands of years, along with fixity of professions, disallowing of inter-dining and inter-marriages. Caste has not produced any good results for a large majority of the Indian society. It would be foolish to think that the wrong interpretations of a supposedly great text were only opportunistic and coincidental. To take a holistic look at what Gita really preaches, and what justifications its proponents give to its glorification of violence and caste, let us start by asking a few questions:

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What is wrong with Bhagvad Gita?

 

Rahul Bhalerao

rahul_bhalerao_copy_copyRecent controversies, both local and international, have sparked a series of discussions and debates in media and social networks about the Hindu holy book Bhagvad Gita. When the Karnataka Education minister decided to saffronize the education system by proposing Gita teachings to be made compulsory, the left, liberal and secular voices attacked the BJP for mixing secular education with religious propaganda.

On the other hand, when Russia decided to ban the holy book on the premise of its justifications for violence, the saffron parties found support in the same left, liberal and secular voices pitching against the Russian controversy, making it a national issue in the Parliament over cultural pride. So how is it that the book that is entitled to one faith is also accepted as the core of cultural values of the entire nation?

How is it that Hinduism, which can hardly be considered as one faith, a homage to hundreds of contradicting spiritual theories, a collection of traditions and rituals that are so exclusively different for each community, caste and region, with a bunch of religious texts including Vedas, Shastras, Puranas, Smritis, each one declaring themselves undisputable, unquestionable and still exhibiting contradictions both within and among themselves, has revered Bhagvad Gita which is only one section of the epic Mahabharata which had a singular purpose of justifying war, to be the one book that is the essence of the entire religion? And more than the one religion, why is it now being showcased as the essence of the entire Indian culture?

The proponents of Hinduism do not criticize one book in favor of the other. They do not even try to highlight the differences between these texts. What they really do is to interpret them in order to highlight how everything in them is highly spiritual, how they contain high moral values, how they are equivalent and coherent with the theories of modern science and how they alone propose solutions that are good for individuals and society at large. 

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'We will do a Chunduru on you!'

Desecration of Ambedkar statues: Truth is the first casualty (Part II)

Continued from here

a_press

In this concluding part on the issue of desecration of Dr Ambedkar's statues in Andhra Pradesh, G Jhansi, of Dalit Sthree Sakthi,  maps for us the morphing forms of atrocities on dalit assertions. In her analytical narrative of the complex caste politics that sustains such horrendous acts, she brings to us the powerful message of 'We'll do a Chunduru now', the message of the Dalits who waged long, heroic battles against the perpetrators of organized killing and violence in places like Chunduru, Karamchedu, Pippara, Padirikuppam in the eighties and nineties, for justice. Symbolizing the Dalits' resolve, tenacity and conviction in the Ambedkarite path of confronting caste oppression.

~~~

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