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Create Dalit Economy the way Dalit Sahitya was created: Chandra Bhan Prasad

 

Chandra Bhan Prasad and Pushpendra Johar in a discussion: this is a part of the series of interviews, talks, articles that SAVARI and Round Table India are trying to put together to gather the Bahujan perspective on the Coronavirus pandemic.

This is the second part of the discussion; the first part is here

Pushpendra: We saw those videos on our smart phones, on our laptops and you talked about your own uncles and father. You said they had to flee Burma in 1941 when the war (world war 2) was going on and the Axis powers were pushed back by the Chamar regiment. What do these emerging videos of thousands and thousands of labourers, workers evoke in you personally? Also, have things changed for the underclass?

cbp

CBP: My father..they were four brothers and two of them reached Burma in 1930 and both joined railways as labourers. My father joined them in 1939, just before the beginning of the war. And when the Japanese army supported by Hitler entered Burma, the Government of India announced that those migrant workers should now go back to their homes because enemy forces might take over Burma. So my father, my two uncles, one aunty with her baby, they left Burma and reached my home in Azamgarh with so many stories..that they walked for so many miles, they took truck for some distance, they took train, they took bus, they took this and that.

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The dignity of the underclass is the first casualty: Chandra Bhan Prasad

 

Chandra Bhan Prasad and Pushpendra Johar in a discussion: this is a part of the series of interviews, talks, articles that SAVARI and Round Table India are trying to put together to gather the Bahujan perspective on the Coronavirus pandemic.

 Date: 17 April 2020

Pushpendra Johar: Welcome to the discussion. I would like to start by going back to the day when the Prime Minister announced lockdown in the country; when we were going to have Janata Curfew, scheduled for 22nd March and we saw how things developed thereafter. On the day of Janata Curfew people were banging utensils, thalis (metal/steel plates) and what not. You have been quite critical of the whole practice, you did not mince words in criticising it, saying that this was anti-science, the whole act of thali-banging and conch blowing etc. This then led to cracker burning and lamp lighting. If we look at the acts of clapping and burning lamps, these were copied from different cultural contexts in Europe where they were clapping in their balconies to appreciate the medical staff and also celebrating human spirit after loss of so many lives. What do you make of such practices as enacted in India?

cbp

Chandra Bhan Prasad: There is a Hindu festival in North India, and in the Hindi belt in particular, when on one day in a year women bang thalis, not thalis exactly but some other tool that is used to clean wheat flour. They bang that thing, take a round of the village and go and throw it in some pond. This is called daliddar bhagao, chase away all the evils in the family, in the village. So the Prime Minister must have had this feedback that let's make this a cultural or religious kind of a thing, give it that dimension where women will bang thalis to chase away this virus and hence they become part of this in a very religious manner. That's why I was very upset because I stood in the balcony and I saw people banging thalis with plenty of happiness writ large on their faces.

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Black Independence Day

 

Raja Dhale

(In an interview first published in the Marathi journal Khel, Raja Dhale (1940-2019) recounted the history behind his surname ‘Dhale’: soldiers that were historically the standard bearers and advance guards at forts. True to this personal history, Raja Dhale stood at the vanguard of the Dalit consciousness and articulation in Maharashtra in its post-independence evolution. On August 15, 1972, the Marathi magazine Sadhana carried Dhale’s explosive essay ‘Kala Svatantryadin’, which entrenched him, and the Dalit Panthers, in Maharashtra’s imagination. Challenging the hypocrisy of Indian society for not ending violence against Dalits, Dhale wrote, ‘They aren’t our brothers. They aren’t our compatriots. Are we outsiders?’. Under the current political climate where the Indian state is snatching away the meagre rights remaining with the oppressed sections like we saw with Kashmir and the revocation of article 370, it would perhaps be poignant to revisit Raja Dhale’s voice from forty seven years ago.)

1

The punctual but peaceful and relaxed city of Mumbai has been witnessing certain events and goings on. Truth be told, the times are changing, in Mumbai. For instance, student movements are descending upon the streets and taking the form of protests, marches and blockades. The anger of the students is taking real shape. A decision has been made to observe the silver jubilee of the independence day as a black day.

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Community Struggles Towards Democracy – Part 2


KK Kochu

kk kochu profile1Sri Moolam Praja Sabha

Among the princely states of British India, it was in Mysore that the first regional representative body was formed. In Travancore, the legislative council came into existence on 15th August 1888, during the rule of Sri Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma (1885-1924). The council consisted of six official members and two unofficial members. The Diwan was the chairman. The council was formed with the objective of gaining public validation for governance hitherto vested with the king and enforced through the Diwan. Although the council had no public representation as seen in the modern periods, the membership count was later increased to eleven. Six of them were Brahmins. In 1898, the number of members was again raised with eight being the minimum number of members and fifteen being the maximum. In 1921, the membership was raised to fifty members. Twenty eight of them were to be elected members. The members had rights, although restricted, to vote in the financial discussions of the budget, to present proposals, to raise sub questions and to move adjournment motions. The right to vote was limited to those who paid land revenue of not less than five rupees, those who were university graduates and those who paid employment tax in the municipality.

The Sri Moolam Praja Sabha was formed in 1903 while retaining the legislative council. Those who were above eighteen and paid tax of hundred rupees or had an annual income of six thousand rupees were members. Plantation owners and merchants were also members of the Sabha. There were sixty five members representing thirty one taluks. The majority of them were land owning Nairs. There were also others - eight Syrian Christians, eight Brahmins, seven foreign Brahmins and six members each from Kshatriyas, Ezhavas, Channars and Protestant Christians. The Praja Sabha was hence constituted with representatives from upper castes and affluent communities.

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Community Struggles Towards Democracy - Part 1


KK Kochu

kk kochu profile1Democracy, according to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, is not just an order of governance, but it is a way of living. Unsegregated living with sense of unity and sharing of acquired experiences is necessary in order to achieve such a state. He has said that it is impossible to achieve such a state in a society socially divided by caste system. So, the entire population, irrespective of the savarna-avarna divide, has to be mobilized in our social and political struggle for democracy.

Indian Imagination

Dr. Ambedkar’s concept of democracy was not modelled from western political experiences of the same. He speaks of this in a speech he gave for All India Radio (AIR) in 1956. It is rooted in the historical experiences of India starting from the time of Buddhism. In ascending path, caste gives you nobility, and in descending path, it imposes contempt. Fraternity is inevitable to break this Chinese wall found nowhere else in the world. Sree Narayana Guru also supported this thought when he said ‘all are brothers’. That is why it is criminal to negate the inherent equality of different social groups.

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Peace and inclusive development

 

Dr. Gail Omvedt

Peace in the world has two main terrains. Peace at the level of the nation and at the level of the world. Both affect each other depending upon the nature of the disturbance to the peace which is created on these terrains. Peace had been the constant feature for millions of years of existence of the human society. Before the emergence of rudimentary states and that of women's subordination there did not exist anything like the standing army or anything representing organised violence. Following women's subordinaton there came into existence caste, class, race, community based exploitation along with the gender exploitation. These forms of exploitative relations consolidated the state as an instrument of the organised violence. Exploitative relations and the state as an instrument of organised violence are therefore, two main sources which violate the peaceful nature of human society.

gail omvedt 1

Exploitative society and its state also prevent the inclusive development of humans because these kinds of societies cannot but exclude majority of the humans from the process of development by exploiting them and accumulating products of their labour in the hands of a few individuals. They not only do this exclusion but also expropriate natural resources and pollute them. They destroy healthy exchange of matter between humans and nature disturbing ecological balance at world level. This gives rise to the violation of peaceful relations between humans and humans as well as between humans and nature.

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