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


Dalitizing History: A New Paradigm in South Asia


Chinnaiah Jangam

[Reviewed by Chinnaiah Jangam (Wagner College), Bhagavan, Manu; Feldhaus, Anne, eds., Claiming Power from Below: Dalits and the Subaltern Question in India. H-Asia, H-Net Reviews. December, 2009.]

Over the last two decades, the South Asian landscape has experienced a resurgence of untouchable voices challenging the dominant social, economic, political, cultural, and epistemological structures, and questioning the traditional mechanisms of oppression. Even though Indian society and its traditional institutional structures have been critically interrogated throughout its history, the perspectives from the most oppressed sections of the society, like the untouchables (Dalits), did not form a part of mainstream intellectual discourses and analyses.

Historically, criticisms of caste, gender, and other oppression and exploitation are as old as the institutions themselves--a fact that has often been discounted or glossed over by the dominant, largely Brahmanical, canon. Read More To a certain extent, the colonial (modernist) intervention provided a distinct ideological and institutional framework for the oppressed, like the Dalits and women, to contest their subordination and oppression, one in which the most oppressed sections of society envisioned anti-caste egalitarian ideas and strove to build an alternative world free of exploitation and inhumanity. However, the mainstream writings focusing on colonial and postcolonial South Asia did not integrate Dalit visions and their articulations as part of the South Asian experience of colonialism and modernity. Because of their own social location and ideological limitations, even many caste Hindu scholars refused to accept and dwell on caste-based oppression and exploitation.


Why Dalits in West Bengal are on protest


Manohar Mouli Biswas

(First published in World Prout Assembly site in August 2007)

Dalits are perhaps by their birth communist in nature. They are born in the graded inequality of the society and as a result what happens they have to face the lot of sufferings in their daily life. They are by birth poor, illiterate and landless labours of the soil. These toiling masses very easily become followers of the communist party and they sometimes become the active members also. While they become active members they have to undergo certain limitations. What are those limitations? They are used to actively work amongst the Dalits and Adibasis. Dalits are used to convince and persuade more and more Dalits and Adibasis. The people at home and abroad may know this fact that the Indian communists did not any time talk of the Cultural Revolution in India. Why? The answer of this question is very simple. The socialism, if anytime it is planned to be set up in the caste-divided society of graded inequality like India, needs the pre-occurrence of the Cultural Revolution and this Cultural Revolution should have the single point agenda. What is this agenda of the pre-occurrence? It is nothing but the annihilation of the caste system of the society for which Dr. Ambedkar advocated to the modernizers of the society.

manohar mouli biswas

After thirty years of leftists' rule in West Bengal the inequality has vigorously been sharpened in the field of economy, education and health-care. It is seen to vigorously increase in the field employment opportunities in particular. Are not all these against the ideology of communism? Who cares for? History speaks that the thought of communism was brought into India by Mr. M. N. Roy and his other associates who mostly all were Brahmins and at that time living in Russia. From the initial stage of its spread in India and very particularly in West Bengal it is seen to be in the hands of the Brahmins as leaders and the total control is, by hook or by crook, maintained by the social hierarchy. In West Bengal while the history repeats the same path resultantly whatever the benefits have come in West Bengal out of the land-reforms, reforms of education, reforms of health-cares, job-opportunities etc. have gone of its larger shares to the social hierarchies. Whatever the shares the Dalits and the religious minorities have got are very less in comparison to their population and definitely in violation of their constitutional rights.


Karthik Navayan: A Scholar. An Activist. A Role Model


Dalit and Adivasi Students' Portal

karthik navayan(First published in the 'Dalit and Adivasi Students' Portal' in 2010)

Advocate Karthik Navayan, age 33, is one of our mentors for law students. Based in Hyderabad, he is an activist-scholar who is instrumental in organising various campaigns on the issues of Dalit students, child labour, land rights and caste-atrocities and has authored two books on the above issues. In this interview, he is sharing with us his life struggle and his ideals that kept him motivated to not only excel in studies but also to contribute towards the empowerment of our community.


Please tell us about your background.

I am from a village Morriguda, in Adilabad district of Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh. Both my parents are agricultural labourers. We are five brothers and sisters. My elder brother is an activist whereas two younger brothers and sister are still studying.

What about your schooling?

I did my schooling from a government school in Telugu medium, living in Scheduled Caste Welfare Hostel, not very far from my village

How did you get admission in this SC welfare hostel?

SC welfare hostel is run by state government and provides residential facilities for our students at very minimum expenses. There were many Dalit families in the village that had sent their kids to this hostel as they were unable to bear the expenditure of their studies. Probably my father came to know about this through them and decided to admit me and my elder brother together. I was in the 2nd std then.


Narinder Jakhu: I want to motivate our students to join Universities


Dalit and Adivasi Students' Portal

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

Narinder Jakhu, age 31, is pursuing his PhD at Department of Political Science, Punjab University, Chandigarh and is also teaching there as a guest faculty. He is a JRF scholar working on the issue of Dalit Assertion, Mobility and Atrocities in Haryana.  Apart from his academics, he is passionately involved in mobilizing and creating various support systems for Dalit students in the campus as the President of Ambedkar Students Association, Punjab University.


Please tell our readers about your background.

I am from a village name Shakarpura that lies in Tohana tehsil of district Fatehabad, Haryana. I belong to a family of leather tanners that brings dead cattle from village and then produce leather from their skin and sell it in the market.  My father studied till primary and mother is illiterate.

I have three sisters – all younger than me.  The eldest among them is now married and could not study much. But both my second and third sisters are now pursuing graduation. One of them has completed her diploma in polytechnic too.

What has been your educational background?

I have quite a diverse background. I completed my 10th with 46% marks and then chose Commerce stream to do my 10+2. But I took Computer Application as one of the majors for my B.A. at DAV College (Nakodar, Punjab) along with History, Political Science, English and Punjabi. Then I joined Punjabi University, Chandigarh for my Post Graduation in Political Science and later completed my Mphil there too. Currently I am pursuing my PhD in the same department.


Dalit parties have worked to strengthen caste system

Insight's  National Core Group Meeting

The Roundtable team express their deep condolences over the passing away of Bhagwan Das, this morning in New Delhi. His tall legacy as an Ambedkarite and Buddhist will continue to guide our efforts in our struggle against caste.


Bhagwan Das, a research associate of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, is best known as compiler and editor of the four volumes of Thus Spoke Ambedkar. He spoke to Prasanna Raghav about his meetings with Ambedkar and the trajectory of Dalit politics in India: 


In Conversation With Mr Bhagwan Das


 The Roundtable team express their deep condolences over the passing away of Bhagwan Das, this morning in New Delhi. His tall legacy as an Ambedkarite and Buddhist will continue to guide our efforts in our struggle against caste. 


[Mr Bhagwan Das is one of the most reputed scholar on Ambedkarism and the issue of Human Rights of Scheduled Castes. Widely traveled, Mr Bhagwan Das has spoken at various national & international platforms on the conditions of Dalits in India and what is the best way of their emancipation. In freewheeling conversation with Vidya Bhushan Rawat, he speak of the state of Dalit movement as well as political parties in India.--Vidya Bhushan Rawat.]


Please tell us about your childhood? Being son of a sweeper, what hurdles and obstacles you faced with and how did your father react to them? 


Fragrance of Peace: Irom Sarmila

Zubaan BooksA collection of Irom Sarmila's poems, translated into English from Meiteilon. Published on the tenth anniversary of Sarmila's hunger fast for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, a draconian law that allows the army unfettered powers in areas that are considered politically "sensitive" or "disturbed".

All proceeds from the sale of this book will go towards supporting Sarmila's campaign.


Dr. Jitendra Jatav: Our Students Must Become More Ambitious

Dr. Jitendra Kumar Jatav is currently working as Wildlife Veterinary Officer in Madhav National Park, Shivpuri. He is a well known wildlife expert and wildlife rescuer and has been nominated for many national and state level awards for wildlife conservation. He has also featured in many documentaries on International Wildlife TV channels.

Dr. Jatav, could you please tell us about your back ground?

I was born in Gwalior district, MP in 1973. My father is working as an artist in state’s Agriculture Department. My mother is a house wife and we are one sister and three brothers. Sister got married just after her higher secondary whereas both my brothers are polytechnic diploma holders and work in private firms.


Quota for SCs in private sector demanded

HYDERABAD: The National Commission for Scheduled Caste (NCSC) will pursue the long-pending issue of providing reservation to SCs in private sector with the Centre, commission chairman P L Punia said on Wednesday.


States diverting funds meant for Dalits’ welfare

The Delhi government may have invited sharp criticism over the diversion of R744 crore funds meant for Scheduled Castes’ — or Dalits’ — welfare to the Commonwealth Games over five years, but many states have routinely been guilty of flouting norms when it comes to earmarking funds for Dalits.


Sathyam Babu and Ayesha Meera Nyaya Porata Committee’s first meeting will be held on 14th Sept.


Karthik Navayan 

The first meeting of 'Sathyam Babu and Ayesha Meera Nyaya Porata Committee' (formed by Dalit, Muslim, Human Rights and other people’s organizations to achieve justice for both victims) will be held on September 14th in the Progressive Media Services premises, Hyderaguda, Hyderabad at 3 p.m. 

Ayesha Meera, a B. Pharmacy student was raped and brutally murdered on the night of 27th December, 2007, in a private Women’s Hostel in Ibrahimpatnam, Kothur2 (Village and Mandal) of Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh.