'I Have a Dream' for Dalits of India

Pardeep Attri

(Pardeep had penned down this inspiring dream for the new year, but it is equally appropriate for the Republic Day-- Round Table India)

There is no nation of Indians in the real sense of the world; it is yet to be created. In believing we are a nation, we are cherishing a great delusion. How can people divided into thousand of castes be a nation? The sooner we realize that we are not yet a nation, in a social and psychological sense of the world, the better for us. – Dr B R Ambedkar.

As all of us welcome the year 2012 and greet each other with open arms, I visualise a dream. I have always said that I am a dreamer. Yes, I do have a dream, a dream (Begumpura) like the one that Guru Ravidas saw about 650 years ago for everyone, or like the dream (Utopia) that nourished Dr Ambedkar or I have a dream like the one Martin Luther King Jr. saw for the blacks of America. Here is my dream for Dalits of India, almost along the same lines as the dreams Guru Ravidas, Dr Ambedkar, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others saw for a better world.

republic_day_pardeep

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Analyzing the ‘OBC-Minority’ Sub-Quota

 

Khalid Anis Ansari

[I]

The recent announcement of a 4.5% sub-quota for backward sections within minorities in the overall Central OBC quota by the UPA government on 22nd December, 2011 in the wake of elections in five states, including the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, has drawn in a number of reactions, some valid and others not. Even though the media has often presented the sub-quota as one for the Minorities, or in extreme cases a quota for Muslims by default, thereby providing wind to the wings of the votaries of a hegemonic bipolar politics (Congress vs. BJP) revolving on a secularism-communalism axis, there can be nothing further from the truth. As we know a number of backward caste groups from the minority sections were already included in the Central OBC list and were availing the benefits of reservations from 1993 onwards. What the UPA government has done is to club together all these already recognized and enlisted backward caste groups within minorities (especially, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs) into a 4.5% sub-quota, thereby by default reserving the remaining 22.5% for OBCs within the majority community (Ministry of Minority Affairs 2011). While this move has been received with much speculation by the intended beneficiaries so far, it has also met a number of criticisms from the BJP and a few other OBC groups. There are broadly two aspects to this debate: one, the policy (or technical) dimension, and, two, the political dimension. But before I take up these two aspects, an indicative description of the larger transformations in Indian democracy would be helpful in making sense of this recent move by the Congress Party.

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Caste atrocity in Lathor: Over 50 Dalit homes burnt by upper castes

 

Jadumanilion Boudha & Dhammachari Ratnakumar

An incident involving a small boy led to horrific caste violence in Lathor, Balangir district of Odisha, leaving 50 Dalit families homeless and destitute. On January 22, 2012, at around 3.00pm, Ganesh Suna, a 9th class dalit boy went to a shop to buy a new shirt, which he wore over the shirt he was already wearing. After he left the shop, the shopkeepers Bharat Meher and his brother Daya Meher, called him back and accused him of being a thief and beat him. When the boy was returning home helplessly, he met an old man Gouranga Suna and told him about the incident. Gouranga Suna asked the shopkeepers: why did you beat the boy? If he has stolen the shirt we can pay the money for that but you should not have beaten him. But, the shopkeepers did not listen to him and instead beat the old man (Gouranga Suna) too with their footwear. The old man reported to his family members, and then 4-5 youth from the Dalit community went to the shop and fought with them. These are the facts as they occurred at the beginning of the incident. And this set of events seems to have fueled the feeling of hatred of the upper castes (Savarna) against the Dalits (Asavarna).

lathor_22

In reaction to this incident, the upper castes took advantage of being in a heavy majority over the Dalit minority, and attacked the Dalits with their weapons, sticks, and muscle power. Because the Dalit were in a minority, they could not face the violent force of the upper caste mob. So they tried to save themselves from this brutal violence and ran way from their homes. Some Dalit men went into the forest, some went to the nearest villages and some women saved themselves in other untouchable Ghasia Vasti (Scavenger colonies).

lathor_21

In this way, the upper castes created terror among the Dalits. The violent upper caste mob even looted gold ornaments and expensive materials from the Dalit homes. They burnt all the certificates of the students and other kinds of valuable documents. At the same time, they abused all the Dalit women with derogatory language. The upper caste traders, like Marwadi Agrawals, even distributed liquor and petrol freely to burn the Dalit houses. Meanwhile, some Dalits tried to register an F.I.R., in the Lathor police station, but the police refused to register the case and were unable to handle the catastrophic situation. The violence in the wake of the incident became very serious, and so uncontrollable that no one was able to stop the upper castes; the mob even beat up a local news reporter of Kanak TV and threatened the Dharitri reporter, Bhubaneswar Barik. The upper caste mob marched on the roads and blocked all traffic; they burnt tyres on the road and dug up the road so that all vehicles and communication towards Lathor was stopped.

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Buddhism and Politics in Uttar Pradesh: Recent Developments (Part II)

 

Shiv Shankar Das

( Continued from here)

shiv_shankar_das_copyThe promotion of Buddhist cultural symbols in public sphere by Mayawati led government is driven by the following three strong factors.

1. The Ideology of Kanshi Ram (1934-2006): Cultural Change is a Durable Change

Kanshi Ram's ideology to emancipate the Bahujan Samaj is very important to understand the present nexus between Buddhism and politics. He defines three ways to emancipate the Bahujan Samaj, viz. 1. social action (awakening to induce arousal which is a short term solution), 2. political action (to strengthen an independent political party for 85% people of the country, the dalit-soshit sections, which would be a long term solution) and 3. cultural changes and control (a durable solution by which anti-caste culture should be promoted by the dalit-soshit people)12. In his own words: 'to usher in the  Bright Age, will be the toughest task before us, before this generation or even before the coming generations. It will need a complete cultural change and an altogether different control (controlled by the victims of the present system). Only such thing can bring about a durable solution.'13

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"I am not a slave and don't make me a slave"- Annan Pasupathi Pandian, a tribute

 

Ravi Chandran

(With editorial suggestions from Kuffir)

pasupathi_pandiyan_copy

This article is an attempt to bring together information about the Dalit revolutionary leader Pasupathi Pandian, who was brutally murdered a couple of days ago (January 10, 2012). Since only bits and pieces of news material is available on him, I tried to gather some information from the internet and by talking to a few Arunthathiyar friends. Most of the news reports refer to him as a reputed Dalit leader, however, a few Dalit leaders reject that claim and say he was just a rowdy. This is a small attempt from my side to throw some light on Mr. Pasupathi Pandian's life from an Arunthathiyar perspective.

Every individual has a history which is influenced mostly by the society surrounding him/her. Therefore it is very important to construct or look at a person's history-- where he lived, what he saw and experienced.

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Buddhism and Politics in Uttar Pradesh: Recent Developments

 

Shiv Shankar Das

shiv_shankar_das

Abstract: The present research note highlights the relationship and the reasons behind the association between the lower caste politics and Buddhism in Uttar Pradesh, the most populated state in India next only to China, United States, Brazil and Russia. There are three reasons behind this association. First, the currently ruling Bahujan Samaj Party's founder Kanshi Ram's ideology of cultural change, secondly, the vision of lower castes' champion Dr. B. R. Ambedkar to make the country as a Prabudh Bharat (Buddhist India), and thirdly the compatible and advantageous growth rate of Buddhist community in the state due to conversion of lower castes.

Since a long period, the image of Uttar Pradesh has been that of a backward or 'sick state' in terms of economic and social development. Few developments indicates that it has started to take a new twist, as recently the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) credited the economic growth of Uttar Pradesh as on par with even the most developed states such as Gujarat, and others.1 Many vital economic parameters indicate the promising face of Uttar Pradesh. The planning ministry revealed that UP was among five states which had higher growth rates than their 11th Plan (2007-12) targets. Its GDP grew at 7.28% as against a target of 6.10%.2 In 2011, it was also awarded “best performing state in agriculture” by the Union Government. The state was rated as the best performing state in food grain production, clocking 47.138 million ton during 2010-11 and was given a cash prize of Rs. 2 crore, along with a trophy and a citation.3

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Of Laws, Cows and People’s Mutinies: Will the beef ban in BJP-ruled states fuel a new Mutiny?

 

Cynthia Stephen

The Gau-Vansh Vadh Pratishedh (Sanshodhan) Vidheyak (Prohibition of slaughter of cow-progeny Bill) just passed in Madhya Pradesh empowers the government to prosecute any person found slaughtering a cow or even transporting the calf for the purpose of slaughter. Anyone found guilty of this act would face seven years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of Rs 5000.

cow_judge_copyIn March 2010, the Karnataka assembly passed the The Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2010 by voice vote after uproarious scenes, and a four-hour acrimonious debate. All sections of the opposition were against the bill, which caused much consternation in Karnataka. One of the largest popular mobilizations in recent years was held in the Tasker Town grounds in March 2010 by a broad cross-section of progressives, minority groups and farmer's groups to protest the bill just as it was being discussed. It was passed by both houses but has not become law as the Governor has sent it for Presidential assent. According to the Deccan Herald, the bill prohibits slaughter of cattle, sale, usage and possession of beef, puts restriction on transport of cattle and also prohibits sale, purchase or disposal of cattle for slaughter. The offence is punishable with imprisonment not less than one year which may extend up to seven years or a fine between Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 or both; second and subsequent offence would attract a fine of not less than Rs 50,000 up to Rs one lakh along with imprisonment penalty.

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4.5 Percent OBC Religious Minority Sub-quota: A Disservice To Secular Nationalism

 

Ashok Yadav

01. Overwhelming majority of population who have been discriminated against and oppressed on the basis of their caste identity since time immemorial and the history of bloody religious conflicts before, during and after independence in 1947 make social justice and secularism the two pillars on which the entire democratic structure of our country rests. In fact, social justice and secularism are twin concepts which can be separated from each other only by putting at risk the democratic polity. The action of communal forces to take out rath yatra after decision to implement Mandal commission recommendation by V P Singh government highlights hostility of communalism against social justice. The action of the then Bihar Chief Minister to arrest the rath yatri and resultant consolidation of his politics of social justice further highlights the interdependence of social justice and secularism and the support these two principles provide to our democratic polity.

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Janlokpal bill: a brahmanic and patriarchal script (part 2)

Anu Ramdas 

Continued from here

Myth making traditions are uncannily similar in wars and movements of the dominant classes, even before the enemy has been clearly identified, weapons get fashioned. That the JLB is a weapon against the national 'enemy' is very clear. But who is this enemy? In other words, who are the corrupt against whom this massive weapon is to be deployed?

hazare-hanuman

It is much easier to find the corrupt in the JLB than finding out what the authors mean by corruption. We meet the enemy on page 7. The corrupt here are neither the ones who are stripping our forests and ravaging the earth for ores, nor the forces that perpetually underpay and exploit women and the working classes, not those who keep significant numbers of citizens undernourished, starved, unsheltered, unclothed, deprived of basic rights and services, not those who make our stomachs churn with ostentatious 9 nine day wedding bashes, and definitely not the mafia and criminal gangs cited earlier. It turns out this document's creators have identified one category of workers: The public servants!

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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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