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Community Struggles Towards Democracy – Part 2


KK Kochu

kk kochu profile1Sri Moolam Praja Sabha

Among the princely states of British India, it was in Mysore that the first regional representative body was formed. In Travancore, the legislative council came into existence on 15th August 1888, during the rule of Sri Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma (1885-1924). The council consisted of six official members and two unofficial members. The Diwan was the chairman. The council was formed with the objective of gaining public validation for governance hitherto vested with the king and enforced through the Diwan. Although the council had no public representation as seen in the modern periods, the membership count was later increased to eleven. Six of them were Brahmins. In 1898, the number of members was again raised with eight being the minimum number of members and fifteen being the maximum. In 1921, the membership was raised to fifty members. Twenty eight of them were to be elected members. The members had rights, although restricted, to vote in the financial discussions of the budget, to present proposals, to raise sub questions and to move adjournment motions. The right to vote was limited to those who paid land revenue of not less than five rupees, those who were university graduates and those who paid employment tax in the municipality.

The Sri Moolam Praja Sabha was formed in 1903 while retaining the legislative council. Those who were above eighteen and paid tax of hundred rupees or had an annual income of six thousand rupees were members. Plantation owners and merchants were also members of the Sabha. There were sixty five members representing thirty one taluks. The majority of them were land owning Nairs. There were also others - eight Syrian Christians, eight Brahmins, seven foreign Brahmins and six members each from Kshatriyas, Ezhavas, Channars and Protestant Christians. The Praja Sabha was hence constituted with representatives from upper castes and affluent communities.

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Dear society, I have questions for you!

 

Shivani Waldekar

Shivani WaldekarMy dear society, do you know that I heard the word 'society' for the first time when I was in 11th standard when one of the teachers who loved me a lot taught us one day the valuable words of Maclver and Page, "Society is the web of Relationships.' Back then, I didn't have the lens to think on it critically, but today, when I go through the same definition I realise that if society is the web of relations, then the relations are with whom? I arrived at the answer that society is a web of relationships, and the interconnected relations with all living beings—animals as well as human beings. But today I see people don't live with each other in a healthy manner, let alone with animals. It may be that they are showing care about animals but they don't care about people. We people are not honest and truthful in our relationships. In the relationships with our mother, father, sister, brother, teacher, friend or stranger, we are either honest or we are diplomatic.

Before I heard about the word 'society', I used to confuse it with 'people'. My father used to talk about it—they said, what people say, what people think etc. Actually, what he was trying to tell me indirectly was about people who are in society or the society where people lived. If society is the web of humans' interrelations with each other then, their relations with each other should be ideal, loving and caring. At that time, I felt how beautiful and kind society is, but today, I have developed a dilemma about it. At this very young age and the very beginning of life, I feel like the society is so ridiculous. It maybe because at only 22 years of age, I have undergone much and tried to overcome it.

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Community Struggles Towards Democracy - Part 1


KK Kochu

kk kochu profile1Democracy, according to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, is not just an order of governance, but it is a way of living. Unsegregated living with sense of unity and sharing of acquired experiences is necessary in order to achieve such a state. He has said that it is impossible to achieve such a state in a society socially divided by caste system. So, the entire population, irrespective of the savarna-avarna divide, has to be mobilized in our social and political struggle for democracy.

Indian Imagination

Dr. Ambedkar’s concept of democracy was not modelled from western political experiences of the same. He speaks of this in a speech he gave for All India Radio (AIR) in 1956. It is rooted in the historical experiences of India starting from the time of Buddhism. In ascending path, caste gives you nobility, and in descending path, it imposes contempt. Fraternity is inevitable to break this Chinese wall found nowhere else in the world. Sree Narayana Guru also supported this thought when he said ‘all are brothers’. That is why it is criminal to negate the inherent equality of different social groups.

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Ambedkarite Movement after Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and contribution of Bahujan Women

 

Sheetal Kamble

sheetal kamble(The text of her speech 'Ambedkarite Movement after Dr. Babashaeb Ambedkar and the contribution of Dalit-Bahujan Women' at IIT Mumbai. It was the Second Lecture in 'The Savitribai Phule – Fatima Sheikh Lecture Series' and was organized by Ambedkarite Students Collective, IIT Mumbai on 18th April, 2019.)

I would like to thank the Ambedkarite Students Collective (ASC), IIT Mumbai for inviting me to talk for the Savitribai Phule-Fatima Shaikh Lecture Series. Today's topic is Dalit Bahujan women's contribution in the Ambedkarite movement after Dr. Ambedkar. It is an honor for me to be on the same panel as Mr J. V. Pawar (Founder member of the Dalit Panther).

Before getting to know the contribution of Dalit Bahujan women in the Ambedkarite movement, we must understand who they are and what they have been doing in the Indian village. The Dalit women or former untouchable women have a long history of resistance in the village. In Maharashtra, the Dalit women's literature is scattered in magazines, newspaper articles, essays, and books. A number of Dalit women's autobiographies written and published in Marathi language have been later on translated into English.

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Peace and inclusive development

 

Dr. Gail Omvedt

Peace in the world has two main terrains. Peace at the level of the nation and at the level of the world. Both affect each other depending upon the nature of the disturbance to the peace which is created on these terrains. Peace had been the constant feature for millions of years of existence of the human society. Before the emergence of rudimentary states and that of women's subordination there did not exist anything like the standing army or anything representing organised violence. Following women's subordinaton there came into existence caste, class, race, community based exploitation along with the gender exploitation. These forms of exploitative relations consolidated the state as an instrument of the organised violence. Exploitative relations and the state as an instrument of organised violence are therefore, two main sources which violate the peaceful nature of human society.

gail omvedt 1

Exploitative society and its state also prevent the inclusive development of humans because these kinds of societies cannot but exclude majority of the humans from the process of development by exploiting them and accumulating products of their labour in the hands of a few individuals. They not only do this exclusion but also expropriate natural resources and pollute them. They destroy healthy exchange of matter between humans and nature disturbing ecological balance at world level. This gives rise to the violation of peaceful relations between humans and humans as well as between humans and nature.

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Modern Historiography fits Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Indian Nationalistic Perspective

 

Jaspal Singh Sidhu

Jaspal Singh Sidhu"That history always has a purpose.

That history is always about power.

That history is never innocent but always ideological."

~ Keith Jenkins, 'Rethinking of History', Routledge Classics.

Of late, a majority of historians including those subscribing to the Left ideology have attempted to portray Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a 19th century sovereign king in South Asia with Lahore as his seat of power as a SECULAR ruler respecting and supporting all the religions. At the instance of central government they sought to highlight empathically secularism of the Sikh ruler in the modern context, particularly in 1980s when the Sikhs were politically restive in Punjab and were up in arms against the centralized New Delhi regime. A statue of the Maharaja was installed in Delhi and a flyover named after him. Commemorating the Maharaja's 'secular credentials', a seminar was officially organized where historians applauded the ruler for his bountiful offerings to the Hindu temples, restoration of the demolished mosques besides building of historical Sikh shrines.

The Maharaja was much admired for giving eminent places of power to Muslims, Hindus and some Europeans along with the Sikhs in his Lahore Durbar and raising of an Army composed of people from all faiths, castes and creed. And the portrayal of the Maharaja in Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru—that highlights more his liberal outlook rather than his distinction as a Sikh ruler-- came in for a special mention: "Ranjit Singh was remarkably humane at a time when India and the world seethed with callousness and inhumanity. He built up a kingdom and a powerful army, and yet he disliked bloodshed. He abolished the death sentence for every crime, however heinous it might be, when in England even petty pilferers had to face death."

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