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Time to destroy the stereotypes about Dalit occupations


Anurag Minus Verma

anurag minus vermaRecently many of us have seen/read news about a few Indians thanking sanitation workers (read Dalits) with flowers for combating the corona pandemic on the streets. Such rare gestures look pleasant but this doesn’t change the fact that these are mere gestures1. It is no surprise that in these emergency times, many Dalits are out there and fighting the battle. The same community that is the most inhumanely treated in India.

I even heard a comment a few days ago at my apartment building that “We must thank these ‘lower castes’ who are taking care of sanitation issues in these tough times.“

Such comments are welcome but I wondered if we have a misconception that the contribution of Dalits in India is limited to cleaning the dirt of society. Are we ignorant of the variety of occupations that Dalits are/were masters of?

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Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s 129th Birth Anniversary Commemoration

 

Ambedkar King Study Circle

On Thursday April 16, 2020, the Ambedkar King Study Circle located in California, also known as AKSC, commemorated the 129th birthday of Babasaheb Dr. B.R Ambedkar. Due to the the COVID-19 virus outbreak and the nationwide shelter in place in order to prevent the spread, AKSC decided to commemorate the event through an online video conference call.

sujatha surepally aksc

Mr. Selva coordinated the program, and the chief guest speaker was Dr. Sujatha Surepally, the head of the Department of Sociology at Satavahana University Karimnagar, Telangana, India. Dr. Surepally addressed the gathering on the topic "Indian Contradiction: Socially Feudal and Economically Digital, What needs to be done". She began by pointing out that we cannot separate economic and social feudalism from one another as they are intertwined, and they are present in every aspect of life in India. "When did we have Capitalism in India?" she wondered while pondering over the long history of production systems in India.

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Covid-19: Bhilwara Model, Breaking the myth of merit


Neeraj Bunkar

neeraj bunker 2020While the whole world is fighting with the Corona pandemic, India too has not been able to keep itself out of its grasp. On January 30th, 2020, the first case in India was reported in Kerala. The number rose to 3 by the February 5th, when some students returned to India from China’s Wuhan. Later, we saw the first death due to corona in India, on 12th March. It was a 76-year-old returnee from Saudi Arabia. Such has been the rise in the numbers of the corona patients that almost all the Indian states are now affected. This exponential rise could be gauged from the fact that from nearly 100 infected patients on 15th March, the number went up to about 1000 on 28th March, then almost 2000 and 3000 by 2nd April and 4th April respectively. And the latest, by 11th April, the number rose to 6565 in the country. The death toll had risen to 239 as I write this article; the numbers are still increasing.

In the Bhilwara region of Rajasthan state, the 1st corona patient was reported on 19th March. With 5 more cases on the very next day i.e. 20th March, the District Collector Rajendra Bhatt of Bhilwara district authority ordered curfew with immediate effect. What started with one infected Doctor of a private hospital, through the staff, the virus spread in the district, after which the said hospital was sealed immediately.

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Islamophobia and Incarceration


Shahdab Perumal

shahdab perumalIslamophobia hovers around the 'anxiety of Muslim violence'. This anxiety of Muslim violence constantly reproduces Islamophobia. It enables rigorous scrutiny of Muslim everyday life and political control of Muslims. The central question the author explores through this article is how this anxiety of Muslim violence warrants sedition charges on Muslims, with special reference to the Panayikulam case.

The judgment of the Kerala High Court in the Panayikulam case, overruling the conviction judgment of NIA Court, marks an important gaze into the realm of discourses regarding terrorism in India. An attentive look into the anti-terror law cases reveals that government charged people with anti-terror laws following a ‘terror attack’. The significance of the Panayikulam case is that the government charged anti-terror law without a ‘terror attack’, which marks a paradigmatic shift in the discourse of terrorism in India.

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Introducing Sanghamitra, Business Incubator

 

Sundeep Pattem

On the joyous occasion of Babasaheb's 129th birthday, we are very excited to announce a new venture:

sanghamitra business incubator

Sanghamitra is a business incubator that aims to engage the creative energies of local communities in building socially conscious business practices and products. We are motivated to build local self-sufficiency via rooted knowledge, entrepreneurship, and apprenticeship. What follows is a sketch of our motivations and initial experiences. We welcome friends who have similar interests to explore working with us (online store: https://sanghamitra.store/, contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ).

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Why and How the Government Fails to Remove Caste-Based Manual Scavenging in India!


Ajay Rahulwad

ajay rahulwadIntroduction

Manual scavenging is a caste-ridden occupation done by manual scavengers, workers who clean human excreta manually, meaning, with hands. If one would want to understand why these workers have to do this job, one has to look at its genesis in the caste-based occupational stratification in India. It is said that, “All Dalits are not manual scavengers, but almost all manual scavengers are Dalit.” This indicates that the profession is restricted to only Dalits, and not assigned to any other group.

Outside the 'Chaturvarna’ system, there remains a group pf castes called the ‘Ati-Shudras’. Today the term for this group has been politically changed into ‘Dalits’. Dalits as a social group were formerly known as untouchables and majority of them own neither own land nor have been given any alternative occupational opportunity. They have been forced to engage in this unclean profession. That is why one can see in India that all the unclean work is carried out by Dalits. In this context, one could get an exact meaning behind Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s observation that the “Caste System is not merely a division of labour. It is also a division of labourers..”

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From Farm to Food: Distress of a Haryana–based Farmer during Coronavirus Lockdown


Lochan Sharma & Manish Kumar Sharma

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a novel coronavirus, spreading primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes and is not an air borne disease, clarified WHO recently. On March 11, 2020, ‘deeply concerned’ World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of coronavirus as ‘pandemic’, pushing the threat beyond a global health emergency. With more than 1.1 million coronavirus cases across the globe, and 61,144 (as reported on April 04, 2020) death cases until date, international, national and state governments are taking respective stringent measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

Governments across the globe have initiated a lockdown until a perpetual improvement is discerned in the number of new cases. The Indian government, shutting down all major industries, commercial and private establishments, has enforced similar restrictions and a full-fledged lockdown. However, essential services such as groceries, banks, ATMs, gas stations, telecommunications, fire services, healthcare and e-commerce remain operational. Statements from the finance minister, Britannia industries, railway ministry and economists are quite relieving but uncertainty undertones their assurances. Occurring in the crucial phase of the harvest season, the lockdown will inevitably affect agriculture sector drastically and subsequently influence lives of people dependent on agriculture and farming activities.

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