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On the Proposed “Ambedkar Memorial Lecture” at IIT Bombay: Statement of Ambedkarite Students Collective (ASC)
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On the Proposed “Ambedkar Memorial Lecture” at IIT Bombay: Statement of Ambedkarite Students Collective (ASC)

IIT-Mumbai

 

Ambedkarite Students Collective (ASC)

Context

An announcement was made recently for the “first” Ambedkar Memorial Lecture (AML) by IIT Bombay based group called Ambedkar Phule Periyar Study Circle (APPSC) and it is now necessary to speak of the problematic politics of this Brahminical-Left-oriented group on the planned event. We are a group of Dalit-Bahujan students/researchers, the Ambedkarite Students Collective (ASC), that has tried to engage with the issue of caste and other social inequalities since last year in the campus through public talks, discussion, and movie screenings on such issues. At the same time, we were already underway in organizing the AML in IITB to engage in crucial issues pertaining to discrimination based on caste, gender and other marginalized groups.

IIT-Mumbai

Brahminical-Left Groups and their Political Bankruptcy

The idea of having an AML was shared by a few of us in a meeting with APPSC and the objective was to critically engage through an Ambedkarite perspective on the problems of discrimination in higher education. However, the APPSC opposed this idea of AML and argued that the memorial lecture should be named after Aniket Ambhore, a 22-year-old Dalit B. Tech. student who was compelled to end his life on September 2014 by the casteist humiliation he faced for taking admission in “reserved category”. We objected to APPSC’s subtle politics of “leveraging” a Dalit victim’s name for political gain, on the pretense of being an Ambedkarite group while undermining the same–a typical trait of mushrooming Brahminical-Left groups in Indian universities. In a meeting attended by both groups, we decided to separate and form a new group ASC with one of our major plans to organize AML in IITB. Contrary to us, the APPSC members had stated that they will organize a memorial lecture named after Aniket despite the issues we raised.

To our utter surprise, a few days back, the APPSC informed us that they have already planned for AML in this month, and had already decided on inviting Justice (retired) J. Chelameswar to speak on Indian constitution. This process was done without even consulting or involving us. Clearly, this is not only a serious act of hijacking the plan of AML (what ASC had stated as its major aim in the campus), but also an example of how Brahminical-Left groups like APPSC use Ambedkar’s name while undermining/invisiblising the broad Ambedkarite thought.

We strongly criticise this act of ethical and political bankruptcy of the IIT B’s Brahmanical-Left group APPSC for:

● The betrayal by capturing the idea of organising AML and using it for creating political ground, as since last semester it has failed to engage effectively with the campus issues.
● The pretense of being an Ambedkarite group, but undermining the same as reflected in the choice of lecture topic and speaker in their proposed AML which is in no case related to the project of annihilation of caste
● Using other Ambedkarite non-teaching staff associations for “logistical purpose”, that is, for getting an easy route to book a hall for lecture and other resources.

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