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Presidency University engages with Dr. Ambedkar


Ekalavya Ravidas

The historic Hindu College of Calcutta, later named as Presidency College and currently known as Presidency University, has conventionally been an academic space almost exclusively occupied by the upper caste Hindus. The minorities of India, particularly those who are now known as SCs, STs, and OBCs and those who constitute 85% of India’s population, had a tough time entering, establishing, and asserting themselves in this so-called liberal educational space. This explains why almost all the big names associated with Presidency College are either Brahmins or upper caste Hindus. Even the historic Bengal Renaissance, which some famous Presidencians were a part of, quite systematically excluded the question of caste-based marginalization in Bengal.

Meghnad Saha, the legendary physicist who hailed from a Sudra background, faced discrimination related to interdining in Presidency’s Eden Hindu Hostel as he faced restrictions on social intermixing at the then Presidency College. The untouchables of India, now known as the Scheduled Castes, were, however, not allowed to cross the threshold of this predominantly Hindu institution for over a century and a half. Arguably, the greatest damage to Bengal was done by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) who ruled the state for 34 years. The CPIM had a stronghold over Presidency College and the stakeholders at Presidency continued promoting an urban Brahminical ideology masqueraded as progressive leftism. The CPIM leaders and Presidency ideologues completely ignored the caste question, violently resisted caste-based reservation, and ensured that nobody could use the vocabulary of caste discrimination in their protests against institutional oppression. Issues concerning gender, religion, and class received some attention but nobody debated caste within the premises of Presidency. This implies that almost all political movements organized by the students or alumni of Presidency College were inevitably trapped in a Brahminical consciousness. They simply failed to see the world with the eyes of a caste-subaltern.

presidency university

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Do ideas of Phule-Shahu-Ambedkar matter anymore?

 

Shailesh Narwade

Jayanti, for many, is merely a celebration of the birth anniversaries of socio-political thinkers who were instrumental in bringing social change of which our generation is a beneficiary. Some people see it as an occasion to eulogize and recollect the contributions of these great leaders. Though these modes of celebrating and remembering these icons are necessary, is it really sufficient to take their caravan ahead and ensure the change that these icons envisaged?

Jayanti Title Poster

Marathi feature film 'Jayanti', taking the example of Ambedkar Jayanti, poses this uncomfortable but important question and makes an attempt to find an answer. Through a carefully crafted confluence of the ideas of various social icons, the film depicts the transformation of the protagonist from a misguided Bahujan youth to a socially responsible citizen and a role model in the contemporary socio-political context.

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Online classes and accessibility: ASA TISS report

 

Ambedkarite Students' Association, TISS (Mumbai)

Ambedkarite Students' Association TISS released a report about online classes
(A detailed report on how accessible the online class system is to the students.)

24-07-2020

On 18th July 2020, Ambedkarite Students' Association, TISS Mumbai, has released a report on the newly proposed online-class method by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in the face of the given pandemic situation. This report has been sent to the TISS Administration seeking measures to get the education more accessible.

A mail received from the TISS Administration on the 22nd of June 2020 notified the current students of TISS that the upcoming semester would be conducted through online mode. Across India, the internet penetration is merely 36% and only 13% of households own laptops or desktops. Considering the deep and wide digital divide in the country, Ambedkarite Students' Association, TISS Mumbai conducted an independent study on the accessibility and availability of the internet. The report is based on the responses of current TISS students belonging to various MA and M.Phil programmes. The responses have been presented graphically in the report here.

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A reply to Mr Katju

 

Archana Sigh & Arvind

archana singhMr Markandey Katju in an article for FirstPost worried about the cause of Scheduled Castes, saying reservations are psychological crutches for them and the caste system is perpetuated by reservations. He wrote this article in reply to the article of Kailash Jeengar, Asst Professor of Law, Campus Law Centre, Delhi University, titled The Supreme Court must note that reservation is a fundamental right which was published in The Wire.

Katju's article reminds us of a quote by Dr Babasabeb Ambedkar where he said: “How can the Brahmins afford to be Voltaires? A Voltaire among the Brahmins would be a positive danger to the maintenance of a civilization which is contrived to maintain Brahmin supremacy.”

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Can Guns Save the Oppressed in India?


Himanshu Patil

himanshu patilChotelal Diwakar and his son Sunil went out for a walk around noon. Little did they know that the walk would be their last. The Samajwadi Party leader and his son were shot later that day over a dispute related to the construction of a road which allegedly crossed through the fields owned by the upper castes. Earlier this year a Dalit youth in Nagaur, Rajasthan, was beaten and humiliated for alleged theft of INR 500. A screwdriver was inserted in his anus and the video of this act was circulated on the internet. According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India over 4 Dalit women are raped every day.

For centuries now the Dalits have been at the receiving end of atrocities and the situation has only worsened under the Bhartiya Janata Party. Although crimes against Dalits is not a novel phenomenon. It is deeply rooted in Brahminism and the caste system of the Indian society.

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We and our Nationhood Ill-defined: Let's Redefine & Reclaim it

 

Amit Kumar

amit kumar public orgOn the morning of 8th July 2020, the nation woke up to the news of vandalism[1] on Rajgruha, the residence of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in Mumbai. Like most of the news related to him, this story may also have been shoved under the carpet as a city crime, merely. However, there is a need to analyse the attack and its implications for our own good and see the real rot making the whole nation stink. There seems to be no reason why it should be seen in separation from the other changes taking place in context of the nation. There is an alternative view which sees this act of vandalism as an attack, rather a terrorist attack on Indian nationalism. Let us analyse.

What is a nation? In the modern sense, a nation is a collection of people who have a FEELING OF UNITY based on various factors like shared history, socio-cultural heritage, language and value commitments; which develops their shared vision and desire to live together as a community with mutual respect and dignity; generally in shared geography; giving rise to a nation-state or the desire thereof. This can be reduced to the definition that a nation is a conscious identity held by the people based on the feeling of unity. The much celebrated motto of Indian nationhood is "Unity in Diversity": all the more explicit evidence of a nation's most essential ingredient (unity of course).

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Rajgruha Stands Tall

 

Rahul Bhise, Somnath Waghmare & Pranjali Kureel

Rajgruha, a custom made bulding in Mumbai which Babasaheb built to house his impeccable collection of books and where he lived many years is a very special monument for Ambedkarites. Now a museum it attracts large number of vistors from all age groups. This iconic site was vandalized by an unidentified man on the evening of 7th July, 2020 which lead to condemnation from followers of Babasaheb everywhere. This film created by Rahul Bhise, Somnath Waghmare and Pranjali Kureel takes you to Rajgruha and also talks about the recent vandalism incident that happened there.

 

Rajgruha Footage : Somnath Waghmare

Twitter Research : Pranjali Kureel

Edit/Script/Voiceover : Rahul Bhise

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