Mayawati, statues and three types of 'political' Indians

-- Bodhi DSR ( via Anoop Kumar)

There are three types of ‘political Indians at this juncture in history - 

- the politically sophisticated, 

- the politically unsophisticated

- and the politically apolitical. 

Each of these ‘tribes’ have their own take on the statues built by Mayawati. 

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An Open Letter to Dr. Udit Raj

 

by Khalid Anis Ansari

 

This is a response to Dr. Udit Raj’s (President, Indian Justice Party) note "Rather Upper Castes are nearer to Muslim than Dalits (untouchables)". For the convenience of readers the full text of the note has been reproduced at the end of this letter.
 
[I]
 
Dear Dr. Udit Raj,
 
 
Many greetings!
 
 
 
First of all let me thank you for these interesting observations emerging from your own social experience as a political worker. But I think there is a need to go beyond a few individual cases and reflect on this as a collective social phenomenon as well. To begin with I find it slightly discomforting when a mass worker like you especially focuses on the marital transactions between Muslim and Hindu elite and fails to grasp the upper caste content of the ‘Muslims’ in this equation. Let me candidly point out that all the ‘Muslims’ you mentioned in your write-up are upper-caste ashraf Muslims, which form only 15% of the Indian Muslim population. And, the kind of transactions you talk here between upper caste Hindus and Muslims is not recent but has a history going back to medieval India. Whom did Akbar marry (Jodhabai, a Rajput)? Who were the navratnas in Akbar’s court (Birbal, a Brahmin)? Which were the spiritual books that Dara Shikoh (Aurungzeb’s brother) translated into Persian (Upanishads)? What I want to stress is that these kinds of transactions (spiritual, material and marital) between Muslim and Hindu elites is not surprising, but is and has been a persistent feature of Indian life. Let me quote from one of Masood Falahi’s interviews, a young scholar who is working on caste within Indian Muslims:

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The sorry state of OBC reservation in DU - Note by Academic Forum

by Hany Babu 

The Academic Forum for Social Justice – a form of OBC teachers of the University of Delhi – strongly condemns the arbitrary and insensitive way in which high cut-off marks have been announced for students from OBC category for admission to the undergraduate programme in the constituent colleges of the University. By declaring such high cut  off marks, the colleges are not only making a mockery of reservation, but are also unambiguously proclaiming that they have no intention of filling up the seats with OBC candidates. In spite of the fact that more than 55% of the OBC seats in the University could not be filled by OBC candidates in the year 2010-’11, only one or two colleges have been willing to give 10% relaxation in marks for OBC candidates. A prestigious college of the North Campus has fixed 98% as the cut off for OBC candidates for its BCom Honours programme. Such anti-reservation stand is not at all surprising given the fact that the University has gone for appeal against a High Court judgment which declared that “OBC candidates to avail of reservation provided for them in the CEI Act are not required to, in admission test or in the eligibility exam secure marks within the bandwidth of 10% below the cut-off marks of the last candidate admitted in the General (Unreserved) category”.

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With Thirumavalan, Meena and Samya(now Stree-Samya)

by Malarvizhi Jayanth 

We call for all those who support democracy and free speech to express solidarity with Thirumavalavan, Meena Kandasamy and Samya (now Stree-Samya).

Kathavarayan and Madurai Veeran are among the gods who are acknowledged to be Dalit and are worshipped by many castes. Clearly, in the oral history of the people, the gods have castes and these castes are not determined by who worships them.

 

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"Only ash knows the experience of burning": An Interview with Dalit Writer Jai Prakash Kardam

 

 Dr. Jai Prakash Kardam, a prolific Hindi Dalit writer, was born in a poor Dalit family in Ghaziabad, UP. India. He worked as an un-skilled labourer in construction and factories. He worked in different capacities in State/central govt./ Bank, and in Central Secretariat official Language Service (Govt. of India) as Deputy Director. At present, he is the Second Secretary in the High Commission of India in Mauritius. He has been editing an annual magazine Dalit Sahitya (Varshiki) since 1999. As many as 15 research works for M.Phil / Ph.D. have so far been completed on him and some are going on in different Universities in India and abroad. This major Dalit writer talks to Dr. Nilanshu Kumar Agarwal about several issues of Dalit literature in a detailed and pedantic interview.

jai prakash kardam

Dr. Nilanshu Kumar Agarwal: Dalit Literature unfolds the seething discontent of the Dalits towards their age-old exploitation by the upper caste people. In a way, this branch of literature is a volcano of protest against the highly irrelevant and insignificant evil custom of untouchability. The dragon of untouchability has entered the sub-conscious/ unconscious layers of Indian psyche. It can not be easily eliminated. Dalit Literature may, in the long run, help in eradicating this caste-bias from the Indian mind. To be very honest, this literature of the marginalized has carved a niche for itself in Indian Literature. Where does this literature stand right now? What is its future? What should be done to promote it more? Your suggestions, please.

Dr. Jai Prakash Kardam: Dalit literature has become the central point of the Indian literature now. It has created an important discourse, which has raised the burning questions related to the problems of the Dalits and made the society awakened about it. In spite of the fact that there are so many writers, critics etc. who still do not accept or recognize Dalit literature, it has increasingly acquired the space in the world of literature. Today Dalit literature is included in the syllabi at under-graduate and post graduation level and a large number of research works have been done and are being done in different universities in India and abroad. In fact, Dalit literature has broken the silence and non-livingness of the literature and made it living and progressive. Considering the journey of Dalit literature by now, it can be said that the future of this literature is very bright. 

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Memoirs of a Public Intellectual: Siddalingaiah

Review Article by Chandan Gowda  “Ooru-Kéri: An Autobiography,” by Siddalingaiah. Translated from Kannada by S.R.Ramakrishna, published by Sahitya Akademi, 2003. 115 pages1 Rs.60.

 

Siddalingaiah is a rare figure in contemporary India. A writer, poet, folklorist, academic, founder of Dalit Sangarsha Samhiti and former member of the Karnataka Legislative Council, Siddalingaiah is an exemplary public intellectual. First published in 1996, his autobiography has already been translated into Tamil. It is fortunate that he has become accessible to an English audience at least now.   The autobiography presents, in capsule form, events from Siddalingaiah’s childhood to the start of his adult career. Dates are absent in this book; they do not matter for this meditative autobiography.  Siddalingaiah was born to a poor Dalit family near Magadi in Karnataka. Fortunate in having helpful relatives, his family moved to the Srirampura slum in Bangalore when he had finished his second standard in school.  He soon developed an interest in studies and also became known for his oratory in high school. His unforgettable miniature sketches of his family relations, his hostel, his friends, his schoolteachers and the various characters in the slum are suffused with light-hearted wit and moral seriousness. Siddalingaiah’s wit holds us in splits while also reminding us of the absurdity of social hierarchies.  

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List of Dalit students committing suicide in last four years in India’s premier institutions

 

by thedeathofmerit 

Here is the list of the Dalit students who have committed suicide in last four years. This is by no means an exhaustive list but covers only those cases which we were able to document and where parents and relatives have raised their voices and had accused the institutions of caste discrimination against their children that led to their suicides.

We are sure that the actual numbers of Dalit students committing suicide in country’s premier institutions in last four years will be much higher.

• M. Shrikant, final year, B.Tech, IIT Bombay, 1st Jan 07

• Ajay S. Chandra, integrated PhD, Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc), Bangalore – 26 Aug, 07

• Jaspreet Singh, final year MBBS, Government Medical College, Chandigarh, 27 Jan 08.

• Senthil Kumar, PHD, School of Physics, University of Hyderabad – 23 Feb 08

 Prashant Kureel, first year, B.Tech, IIT Kanpur, 19 April, 08

• G. Suman, final year, M.Tech, IIT Kanpur, 2nd Jan, 09

• Ankita Veghda, first year, BSc Nursing, Singhi Institute of Nursing, Ahmedabad, 20 April, 09

• D Syam Kumar, first year B.Tech, Sarojini Institute of Engineering and Technology, Vijayawada, 13 Aug, 09

• S. Amravathi, national level young woman boxer, Centre of Excellence, Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, 4th Nov, 09

• Bandi Anusha, B.Com final year, Villa Mary College, Hyderabad, 5th Nov, 09

• Pushpanjali Poorty, first year, MBA, Visvesvaraiah Technological University, Bangalore, 30th Jan, 10

• Sushil Kumar Chaudhary, final year MBBS, Chattrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University (formerly KGMC), Lucknow, 31 Jan, 10.

• Balmukund Bharti, final year MBBS, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, 3rd March, 10

• JK Ramesh, second year, BSc, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, 1st July, 10

• Madhuri Sale, final year B.Tech, IIT Kanpur, 17th November, 10

• G. Varalakshmi, B.Tech first year, Vignan Engineering College, Hyderabad, 30 Jan, 2011

• Manish Kumar, IIIrd Year B.Tech, IIT Roorkee, 13 Feb, 11

• Linesh Mohan Gawle, PhD, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, 16 April, 11

 

Read the discussion here.

Our Demands

by thedeathofmerit

alt

 The large number of suicides by Dalit students in Indian educational system, especially in premier science and professional colleges and universities, are a mere pointer towards the widespread prevalence of various forms of caste-discrimination and humiliations that our students have to undergo on a regular basis while pursuing their higher education.

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Echoes of stillborn histories

by thedeathofmerit admin

What can we learn from this documentary, ’The Death of Merit’?

Bal Mukund Bharti was determined to become a doctor. And his teachers were also very determined: ‘you’ll never pass MBBS’, they told him.

Bal Mukund didn’t give up, nor did his family. Father, mother, married sister, uncle, aunt– they were all determined to support him in his ardent journey, which was steadily converted into an uphill struggle by AIIMS, to become a doctor. They scraped, pooled together whatever meagre resources they could to send him to AIIMS.

Uncle says they invested everything they earned in his education. Sister who made only 2,500 rupees a month helped whenever father, who worked in a job which sometimes made him wait 3 long months for wages, couldn’t. It wasn’t a small dream; if realized, it could have become a source of hope and pride for many more people outside the immediate family.

As Bal Mukund’s proud father says, ‘he was the first one from our community to become a doctor in fifty years!’. Bal Mukund’s intelligence and superior scholastic record instilled that kind of confidence in the family, stoked such high hopes.

Imagine: the first doctor from a community in fifty years, or in two millennia, possibly. Also imagine Rakesh Sharma or Kalpana Chawla, people of the ‘wrong’ race, being told by the Russians or the Americans: ‘you’ll never go into space’.

But AIIMS was determined it would see Bal Mukund only as a ‘harijan’, as a person from the ‘wrong’ caste. Imagine history being snuffed out in the womb. That shouldn’t be very difficult to imagine if you step two years back into history and think of Senthil Kumar of the University of Hyderabad. 

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‘The Death of Merit’: A Documentary

 

On Suicides of Dalit Students in India’s Premier Educational Institutions

Linesh Mohan Gawle, a second year PhD student from National Institute of Immunology (NII), New Delhi, committed suicide in his hostel room on 16 April 2011. He belonged to a Dalit family from Dindori Tehsil in Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh).

Linesh’s suicide is just one more addition in the growing list of Dalit students committing suicides in the country’s educational institutions, especially that of sciences and professional courses in recent times.  Most of these institutions are considered to be ‘top class’ and have ‘All India character’.

The number of students committing suicides in Indian campuses is in itself a big cause of worry for our society and points towards lacunae in our higher education system, proving it to be completely feudal and insensitive towards the students to say the least.

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Dr. Suryakant Waghmore: Subalterns have a role in making of civil society

 

Dalit and Adivasi Students' Portal

suryakant waghmore(First published in the 'Dalit and Adivasi Students' Portal' in 2010)

Dr Suryakant Waghmore is an Assistant Professor, Centre for Social Justice and Governance, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai. He has been recently awarded with his Doctorate degree from University of Edinburgh, Scotland where he was studying as one of the recipients of prestigious Commonwealth Scholarships.

In this interview, Dr Waghmore shares about the scholarship, opportunities for Dalit and Adivasi Students for higher education abroad together with his area of research - Caste, Civility and Civil Society in India.

~

First of all, let us congratulate you for the Doctorate degree that has been recently awarded to you at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, in Sociology.

Thanks.

You were a recipient of the prestigious Commonwealth Scholarship while pursuing your PhD there. Can you please tell our readers about this scholarship?

Commonwealth scholarship is an annual scheme made available to all Commonwealth countries by the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission. The India programme is managed jointly by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU, UK); Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India and the British Council.

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The Black and White of Life

"I had neither kith nor kin

Only as much ground as I walked upon

The shelter of shops

And the free muncipal pavement, always open

As I moved through this rootless life given to me.. "

-- Narayan Gangaram Surve, My University

Read more...

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