Delete the Dalit?

 

 Karuppan1

I

On December 6, 2016, I stood at the heart of Shivaji Park in Dadar. Walking in the narrow passages between a couple of hundred stalls selling literature and memorabilia, the banner hanging in front of one, unsettled me. 'Delete the Dalit', it cried out, at the thousands that streamed past it. Over the course of that year, a few friends and I had interviewed founders of the Dalit Panther with the intention of making a series of short films set around the organisation. We decided to go to Mahaparinirvan Diwas to talk to people about the Dalit Panther Project. People had varied responses to the Project. Some expressed satisfaction at our efforts, others lamented the failures of Ambedkarite leaders.

dalit panthers picture

One interaction that made an impression on me, was with a middle-aged man, dressed in formal attire as if he had dropped in on his way to a corporate office. "Why Dalit Panther Project?" he enquired. Unsure what his grievance was with the term Dalit, we informed him that ours was merely a documentation project, and we found no reason to change the name of the Dalit Panther forty odd years after it had been established. Unperturbed, our new friend proceeded to inform us that the term Dalit had been declared 'unconstitutional', allegedly by the Supreme Court. He also felt we discovered, that the term Dalit had a negative connotation, suggesting a sense of inferiority, and should, therefore, be discarded immediately. To his mind, the ideal alternative was Bahujan.

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2017-Year of the Snuff Movie

 

Umar Nizar

umarSnuff films: murder on camera for commercial gain. The world's first conference devoted to the mythology of snuff took place at the University of Bournemouth on a weekend in November 2012, a clear indication of how attitudes have changed in the last two decades: the organizers and a number of the delegates had arrived in academia on the back of fan interests.

 -Kerekes, David. 'A Culture of Change'

Attitudes change. 2017 was a particularly bad year for Bollywood, by the admission of some of its own leading lights. When the first day collection of a movie came to just around five lakh rupees, the alleged reaction of filmmaker Karan Johar was, 'how is that even possible?' as he himself told the audience at Goa's International Film Festival of India in November, 2017.

2017, a lackluster year for Bollywood also saw the rise of regressive quasi-puranic movies like 'Rudramadevi' and 'Bahubali 2 - the Conclusion'. The mainstream Telugu film industry vies to be the most patriarchal in India (which is saying something), where an accomplished actress like Padmapriya can be slapped by a male filmmaker, and with impunity.

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Appeal for Funds: Aided Sector Reservation Agitation Council, Kerala

 

Fund Appeal from AIDED MEKHALA SAMVARANA PRAKSHOBHA SAMITHI (Aided Sector Reservation Agitation Council) Convenor O.P Raveendran

The Aided Mekhala Samvarana Prakshobha Samithi in Kerala has been spearheading various agitations against the one and half century old practice of paying the aided college teachers from the government treasury and to ensure reservation therein for equal opportunity and social justice. The legal battle for implementing reservation as per UGC norms is on for the last 7 years. Though we got a favourable judgement in the year 2015, on the appeal made by SN Trust and NSS we had a setback in the form of a uncostitutional judgement by the division bench of High Court in Dec 22nd, 2017.

As the government has now proclaimed that it would go to the Supreme Court for implementing social justice, it has become imperative for us to approach the Supreme Court for putting foward arguments in favour of the case. For that we need to urgently get 15 lakh rupees. In this context, we request all believers of democracy to donate generously for the cause of ensuring social justice. The total number of staff employed by the Kerala government is 5,11,486. In 2015-16, 200000 (two lakhs) of them, ie. 39 % are in the aided sector. The total number of SC/ST staff is only 584.

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Documentary on Gail Omvedt-Bharat Patankar: An Appeal for Crowdfunding

 

Somnath Waghamare

I am Somnath Waghamare, a documentary filmmaker and a research scholar at the School of Social Sciences, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Before this, I have worked at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.

I am associated with the anti-caste, progressive and social movement in Maharashtra. I am interested in making documentary films on caste and gender issues. I have already made two documentary films. My first film was "I am not a witch", on the problem of witch-hunting in Maharashtra. It is the story of an old tribal woman from Nandurbar, Maharashtra, who was accused of being a witch and faced social boycott.

somanth gailomvedt

My second film is "The Battle of Bhima Koregaon: An Unending Journey", on the great history of the Dalit community and of the so-called untouchable Mahar Regiment who fought and defeated the crony Brahmanical rule of the Peshwas in the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in 1818. Despite the importance of the battle, Brahminical historians and the media ignored its history for decades. When violence broke out at Bhima Koregaon in January this year, the battle came into public debate for the first time. At that time, my film became an important source for people to understand the battle's history.

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A suggestion for Behenji

 

Dipankar Kamble

dipankar kamble 1aJust a suggestion!

Caution: This suggestion is just a view and analysis of an amateur Ambedkarite.

I am not a great political analyst; this suggestion just struck my mind when I was sitting idly in the canteen. And I don't even know how much relevance it holds.

On 18th July 2017, Mayawati (Behenji) resigned from the upper house (Rajya Sabha) with all self-respect because she was not allowed to speak on atrocities on Dalits -- I really appreciate this. So here's a small suggestion for Behenji, though I don't expect that it will be fulfilled. BSP was the third largest party in the 2014 elections according to the votes it mobilised, which was around 4.15% of total votes polled, but was not able to win a single seat in Lok Sabha.

So if Behenji is planning to contest for Lok Sabha she should contest from Nagpur to send the message to the whole nation that Nagpur has a rich Dalit political legacy, much more stronger than the heritage of the rightist organisations. If she contests from Nagpur, the Sangh will expend all its power, from head to toe, to ensure Mayawati's defeat. And to counter the opposition of the Sangh, every Dalit will exert all their energies to get Mayawati elected. In this situation, India will encounter a great election.

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Fighting peripheralization: The Dalit movement against a Hindu caste-wall in Kerala

 

T T Sreekumar

The Dalit land rights movement in Vadayambady, Kerala, against a 'Caste Wall' built by a Hindu temple run by the upper caste Nair Shudras and their organization called Nair Service Society (NSS) is one movement that need to be reckoned for its close relationship with the trajectories of the socio-political and economic history of anti-caste struggles in the region. The wall has been built around a playground that has been customarily used as common property by the Dalit communities living in the scheduled caste colonies surrounding the temple. An upper caste temple in the vicinity of the colonies itself is a testimony to the history of opportunistic land grabbing in the name of religion.

vadayambady caste wall

The temple is of a very recent origin and is built on a piece of land owned by a Nair who used to hold evening prayers there until his death. The NSS first acquired this private land, built the temple there and later clandestinely obtained the title deed for the revenue land lying adjacent to it, customarily used as common property by Dalits living in the colonies surrounding the land. Last year the temple began to deny entry to Dalits into the playground claiming ownership rights. When this move was challenged by the local Dalit community, the NSS, in complicity with the revenue authorities built a stone wall preventing the entry of Dalits into the filed. The local Dalit community which has been traditionally the users of the land symbolically pulled down part of the wall and started an agitation to reclaim their customary rights. The agitation resulted in unprecedented police brutality, the framing of false cases and arrests and torture of activists and also of reporters whom the police suspected of being sympathetic to the cause of the struggle. The ruling CPIM dispensation has unleashed a regime of terror and intimidation against the Dalit population who are determined to fight and expose the coercive tactics of the upper castes and terrorization by the state police.

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Brahmin-Baniya Nexus Through a Subaltern Lens: Review of Akhila Naik's Bheda

 

Sayali Z

It is your claim to equality which hurts them. They want to maintain the status quo. If you continue to accept your lowly status ungrudgingly, continue to remain dirty, filthy, backward, ignorant, poor and disunited, they will allow you to live in peace. The moment you start to raise your level, the conflict starts. ~ Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar

bheda

 Akhila Naik's debut novel - Bheda is a story of Dalit assertion and the violent conflict that ensues as a result of this assertion. It traces the story of how Dalits organize themselves, raise their voice and fight against a Brahminical system heavily stacked against them. In a simple yet sharp and powerful language, the novel presents its readers with deep insights into many of the socio-political failings in contemporary Odisha, in particular, and India, in general. Be it the rise of RSS, the increasing violence against Dalits or the rampant economic and social inequality, all of it can be traced to the one ugly giant called Brahmanism. The book cuts through the gimmick frequently peddled by progressive Brahmans that 'their' Hinduism is different from the violent Hindutva.

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