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.
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.
She explained that unlike in the past where bossing around and beating Dalit peasants was the norm, the feudalism present in modern day functions in subtle ways. Dalits neither own land nor get access to good education. As a result, they end up becoming dependent on lords and feudals to sustain themselves. In the words of Dr. Surepally, who is a Dalit herself, “When a few of us get education and a job people think that we are out of the caste discriminatory torments but the ground reality is even being a professor or teacher I don’t get a house for rent. Even if i have millions of rupees I can’t buy a apartment or house in the real estate market or in villas as my background check will reveal what caste I belong to and right away they refuse to sell to me”.
Furthermore, she said her team had conducted a small study to analyze the caste system in this era of rapid development, and found out that a few dominant castes own everything from industry and agriculture to real estate businesses and politics. The caste system is the single most factor that plays a major role as research by Dr. Surepally’s team clearly found that in all levels of businesses that are controlled by these dominant castes, they employ people of the same caste as that of the employer. The caste gets consolidated, empowered and adapts to the modern way of production system, and they own and control print, digital, and electronic media, as well as economics and politics.
As you read Dr. Ambedkar you start questioning this oppressive system. However, they do not like anyone questioning them, whether they be the elite class, the ruling class, communists, or leftists. Nonetheless, left radical revolutionaries have always stood by us and supported our causes. Dr. Surepally states that if a conflict involves a land struggle in which somebody has grabbed a Dalit’s land, they will come for the struggle and support the Dalit, but they do not want to talk about the caste oppression. However, if a conflict revolved around a caste killing, they will say “this is your case go and fight. We don’t fight for you”.
Dr. Surepally continues revealing that in Universities, they have reduced the number of seats for PhD students, increased the tuition, and raised the standards so high that it has become a barrier for the marginalized. But the system is asking you to study for a PhD on Hindu Rashtra and Rama’s birthplace. They are trying to control and dictate what you study or research, what you eat, and how you dress etc. Dr. SurepalIy says “I write about the plight of the people as I work on the ground witnessing the worst experiences of the working class people, especially the thousands of stranded migrant workers, and the sufferings of daily wage earners who lost their livelihood because of this COVID-19 lockdown and have to starve. They are communalizing the corona virus spread in an attempt to polarize the people on religious lines and brew hatred. They have filed cases against me to threaten and stifle the voices of the voiceless. The present regime ruthlessly crushes the democratic voices and has thrown many social activists behind the bars. Critics are labeled as urban nexals and anti-nationalists”.
Dr. Surepally concluded, “At the very least, we are able to take our struggle to the mainstream media because of the modern technologies.”
[Via Elancheran T.S.]