Statement by concerned Academics and Public Intellectuals following the Court Sentence on the EFLU Defamation case

 

[via Susie Tharu]

We the undersigned wish to express our grave concern over the fact that five senior students of the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), who were raising the issue of discrimination against SC and ST students in the EFLU's Department of German, have on 13/12/2016 been charged with defamation of a professor and sentenced to six months' imprisonment. Their protests concerned Sreeramulu M, a ST student enrolled in the BA programme of EFLU's German Department. Sreermulu had not been allowed to continue in the programme ostensibly for his failure to maintain grades. The others who have been sentenced are office bearers of associations representing such marginalized students; they were speaking at a Press Meet held on 24/12/2012 after Sreeramulu, who had been trying for several months to be allowed to continue his course and avail remedial classes, went on fast. The defamation case was filed in March 2013. Two SC/ST atrocities complaints filed by Sreeramulu M and again by another student, Ranjan Kumar, in January 2013 are pending with the Police and are yet to be investigated.

munavath sriramulu

Munavath Sriramulu

The countrywide discussion raised through the struggles following Rohith Vemula's death in January 2016 drew public attention to the extent of caste discrimination in our universities. SC, ST, OBC and minority students figure disproportionately in the statistics for failure, drop out, expulsion, rustication and even suicide. Educational institutions and those who run them (teachers and administrators) have been forced to acknowledge that they are implicated in this terrible attrition of young citizens and know they must initiate reforms. Yet, far too little is being done to discuss this evidence, rethink rules, temper teachers' attitudes, reform syllabi or challenge ideas of merit that discriminate against the marginalized. A teacher's job is to help the actual students in the classroom to learn; not to uphold abstract standards of merit. From the courts, the underprivileged expect humane recognition of the inequities of their predicament and wise support for their cause. But what they have received is a demoralizing and intimidating signal.

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Hoping in times of disillusion

 

Trevor Jeyaraj

trev All our efforts towards justice seems like a Sisyphean quest. Rolling one pain over another and trying to overcome the present in an effort to heal the scars of the past is back-breaking, mind-numbing and soul-drowning. We are caught between losing focus when we have a purpose and loosing purpose when we have a hard-earned focus. We tilt continuously between the baggage and hangover of the past and the future's uncertainty while troubleshooting the turmoils that is now. Such hoping and toiling and repeating is arduous than ever. We did not live in the times that were, but in the recess of our spirit, we somehow as underdogs (may) feel that history is coming to a dark, gloomy climax in these times, moments that stare us like demons in our face. This is more a daily ritual, an unavoidable custom, especially for the oppressed sections of the society as every material reality is pitted against 'them' (read: us). I have always been fascinated and driven by the little things in life. What was dear to me was trivial and dated for my friends and siblings but I continued to hope.

Hoping and imagining are childish, for my friends as well as my enemies but I continue to be childish, adamant enough to recover the parts of myself that was lost in the process of 'growing up'. It is this virtue that keeps me believing in justice and letting go of my subtle oppressions as a man. In this piece, I refer to Hoping as a continuous struggle against one's self-pity as much as the striving against others' scorn of our quest for emancipation and not merely a phrasal hope, dry and unused. These are desolate times, of disillusion and hopelessness. This is the rule of the heartless-mediocres and we know that the worst is yet to come, obviously pushing a cliché here. Hoping is contagious and has the power to spread within the oppressed communities and we need it badly for such a time to sustain our personal and collective endeavours whereas death of hopes can be fatal for the arduous journey of individual emancipation and a liberation that is communitarian, a journey that is too personal yet so fondly collective. We have witnessed helplessly and angrily with tears and dreams decimated about the Rohith and the post-Rohith events and the foxy silence of the oppressors who usually pose as liberators, in the case of Delta Meghwal and the year coming to an end where the sheer agony and torment was visible in the tired, inconsolable face of Najeeb's mother.

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The Occasion of Namantar Din!

 

Pradnya Jadhav

~ I have seen you
At the front of the Long March
The end of your sari tucked tightly at the waist
Shouting "Change the name"
Taking the blow of the police stick on your upraised hands
Going to jail with head held high......... ~ Jyoti Lanjewar

Namantar means Renaming. Few decades ago, the word Namantar had galvanized the entire Maharashtra, especially the Marathwada region, as the demand for renaming Marathwada University after Dr. Ambedkar started to evolve. In recent times, renaming places, institutions does not demand rigorous engagement and constant follow up, provided, the suggested name represents the true spirit of nationalism. However, the renaming of Marathwada University took more than 17 years causing severe damages to the lives of Dalits and yet without meeting the actual demand of the movement. The renaming was perhaps replaced by expansion of the previous name. Keeping the word "Marathwada" intact, on 14th January, 1994 the university was named as "Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University".

(Namantar Shahid Smarak, Nagpur)

Namantar Shahid Smarak Nagpur

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Myth making in India: The story of Teachers’ Day

 

Amar Khade

amar khadeTeachers' Day is celebrated across many Nations to pay respect and appreciate the works done by Teachers in shaping the next generation citizens. Different Nations celebrate Teachers' Day in accordance with their local socio-politico-cultural setup. International Teachers' Day is celebrated on 5th October every year. Nearly 100 countries with Membership with UNESCO celebrate International Teacher's Day on that day.

Some facts about Teachers' Day celebration in different countries:

In Brunei, Teachers' Day is celebrated as mark of respect for the Late Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien on his birthday i.e. September 23rd. He is considered as the "Architect of Modern Brunei" for his contributions in the field of education. He reformed the education system in Brunei by introducing nominal fees for attending schools, thus making education in Brunei accessible even to the poorest people. He also offered religious scholarships to students for continuing their higher education abroad. The teachers in Brunei receive "Congratulations" on 23rd September as a part of Teachers' Day celebration.

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Dalit MPhil Scholar Attacked by SFI Hooligans at MG University Kottayam

 

C Ahamed Fayiz

vivek letterA Dalit MPhil scholar has been brutally assaulted by SFI activists at Mahathma Gandhi University, Kottayam Campus. Vivek Kumaran from Kalady, who is a research student at School of Gandhian Thoughts was violently attacked and is now admitted at the surgical section of Kottayam Medical College, said Gandhi Nagar SI M.G Arun. The incident happened at Pallana hostel inside the university premises at 11.45 PM yesterday according to the statement given by Vivek to the police.

Vivek was attacked for being active in Ambedkar Students Movement (ASA, MGU) recently formed by a group of students in the campus, which provoked SFI. "A four member group lead by SFI campus unit secretary forcefully entered into the room last night.They had some deadly weapons with them including Iron rod. The group shouted that Will you dare to stand up against SFI, cruelly beat him with Iron rod and also vandalized his room" says the statement.

They also abused Vivek with casteist statements and threatened to kill if he dared to complaint against them according to the statement. Vivek , who became unconscious by their brutal physical and mental torture was admitted in the hospital with the help of some students residing next to his room.

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Returning to Om Puri starrers 'Aakrosh' and 'Sadgati'

 

Kshirod Nag

kshirod nagIn general perception, Om Puri is not only regarded as an exception in the commercial cinema of Bollywood but also praised for his portrayals, which supposedly speak out the social realities of the times. Two of the celebrated portrayals performed by him are Layanya Bhiku in "Aakrosh" and Dukhi in "Sadgati", representing the plight and agony of Tribals and Dalits respectively.

Aakrosh (1981), talks about the exploitation of the (Marxian notion of) "have-not" class, the tribals in the movie. Two important observations in the movie: (1) a tribal named Bhiku is so much disappointed of the exploitative system, he is not even able to speak out his disappointments in public, rather he chooses to vent his anger by killing his own dear ones; (2) the public prosecutor, who is a tribal himself (played by Amrish Puri) does not understand the "reality" of the incident and is trying to prosecute "his" fellow man, Bhiku. On the other hand, Bhaskar Kulkarni (played by Naseeruddin Shah) a Brahmin lawyer, is determined to rescue the innocent Bhiku from the faulty judicial process.

Sadgati (1982) narrates a story of caste prejudice where a Dalit named Dukhi is suffering from the Brahminical exploitation of labour. The suffering of Dukhi ends in his death, as an effect of incessant service to the social elite - a punditji, in this instance. Later on, the pundit realises his arrogance and the movie ends.

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The Indian Aparhtheid: A Conference on Caste, Intersectionality, and Education in 21st Century India

 

Law And Society Committee, NLSIU

law society

Conference organized by the Law and Society Committee, National Law School of India University in collaboration with Centre for Social Justice and UN Women.

The impact that caste has on people's lives is real and far-reaching. However, caste is, at present, a subject that is greatly misunderstood by a largely savarna academia which approaches the caste question with preformed assumptions regarding the very identity of the oppressed. This arises from the commodification of the 'dalit'-ness of the movement, failing to realize that caste is not a singular identity but is compounded by all other existing vulnerabilities based on class, gender, and sexuality. It is not surprising then, that the academic discourse on caste fails to accommodate its ever-growing manifestations in the contemporary world. The intersectionality between caste, untouchability and other vulnerability factors occupies a space in academic discourse which is highly disproportionate to its impact and implications.

The result is that academic production on the subject is rendered paradoxical and reductive: while it is ever-growing, it fails to reach the lowest rung; the oppressed within the oppressed. Caste is not just the Indian apartheid, but is also India's hidden apartheid. This conference seeks to abandon the monolithic lens with which the subject has hitherto been approached, and paint a fresher, and more accurate picture of the real extent of vulnerability in India.

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