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Dhammachakra Pravartan Day: The Psychological Impact of Conversion

 

Dhamma Darshan Nigam

 

Dhamma DarshanAt the historical Yeola conference, in Nasik district, on 13th October 1935, Dr. Ambedkar exhorted the Depressed Classes to leave Hinduism and embrace another religion. He declared: 'I was born as a Hindu but I will not die as a Hindu'. And finally on 14th and 15th October 1956 Ambedkar converted into Buddhism with millions of followers. Other than Buddhist teachings, Ambedkar gave 22 oaths to his followers which were a combination: of confirmation of Buddhism and rejection of Hinduism. With the conversion Ambedkar had provided depressed classes a formal citizenship. Ambedkar had also said that he found his philosophy of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’ in Buddhism, not French revolution. 

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Manu Joseph's Serious Men: A tale of two brahmins

 

Chanchal Kumar

chanchal kumarManu Joseph's award-winning debut novel has been lauded for breaking away from the norm in its depiction of the dalit male character as an intelligent but cunning person. In the words of the author, Ayyan Mani is an "exceptional" individual who is "a freak, in a way" (Joseph 2010). While historically, dalits have mostly been represented in mainstream literature as docile, sympathetic beings, Joseph tries to give Ayyan Mani, who is an important figure in the novel, agency and self-awareness.

The criticism available on "Serious Men" mostly centers around the dalit character as the protagonist but it can be argued that Arvind Acharya, the brahmin scientist in the novel, is an equally important part of the narrative. The essay will continue with this basic premise since it will provide the primary objective of the argument, namely that the novel, in its attempt to humanise dalits, further stigmatizes them. This paper, firstly, through a comparison of how the brahmin Arvind Acharya and Dalit Ayyan Mani are portrayed, will attempt to prove how the process of "discursive discrimination" (Boréus 2006) takes shape. Next, it will try to show how the novel is actually about a tussle between two brahmins: Arvind Acharya and Jana Nambodri and the Dalit character and his world is there just to satiate the author's (and savarna readers') voyeuristic gaze.

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Investing in Payback

 

Dr. Sireesha Patibandla & Dr. Jas Simran Kehal

shireesha p and jas kehalGurpreet (name changed), a Dalit girl from a poor family in Punjab scores more than 99% in class XII exams and a national daily catapults her into limelight. There is social media frenzy at her achievement and a lawyer from Delhi, acting as a Good Samaritan, channelizes his contacts and lakhs of rupees are poured into her personal account to facilitate further studies.

When all seems to be set for her admission at Delhi University, the poor Dalit family breaks all contact with the lawyer and instead gets her admitted at a local Govt. college. They plan to spend that donations on building their house rather than the child's career. Eventually, all the philanthropy goes down the drain and donors are left heavy-hearted.

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Hathras Tragedy: Recurring Shame of India

 

Swapnil Dhanraj

swapnil dhanrajThe rhetoric of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao has failed once again in Uttar Pradesh. Manisha Valmiki, a young Dalit girl succumbed to her injuries in Delhi on 29th of September. May be her disappearance will not have any impact on the national consciousness of this country. However, it is not an off-incident. It highlights the unending repression of Dalits and undissolved caste arrogance of the dominant caste communities in India today. The caste governing ethos of Indian society has always created havoc in the lives of Dalits and marginalised communities. The brutal killing of Manisha Valmiki in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras town does not only represent an untoward incident of atrocity, but also a gradual and systemic genocide of Dalits in India.

Though the Indian constitution ensured the safety and rights of the marginalised communities, they have only witnessed a pool of blood and ashes in their social and political lives. Uttar Pradesh has always remained the epicentre of atrocities against Dalits and marginalised communities. Most importantly, the atrocities against Dalit women in the state of UP have given repeated signals to the Indian state and the civil society to wake up from their slumbers. But unfortunately, only a handful of people could understand the barbarity of this crime.

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Mahamanav's Brahminisation Gatha

 

Satyashodhak

Satyashodhak The mischief done by the Brahmin scholars to historical research is obvious. The Brahmin scholar has a two-fold interest in the maintenance of the sanctity of this literature. In the first place, being the production of his forefathers, his filial duty leads him to defend it even at the cost of truth. In the second place as it supports the privileges of the Brahmins, he is careful not to do anything that would undermine its authority. The necessity of upholding the system by which he knows he stands to profit , as well as of upholding the prestige of its forefathers as the founders of the system, acts as a silent, immaculate premise which is ever present in the mind of the Brahmin scholar and prevents him from reaching or preaching the truth. That is why one finds so little that is original in the field of historical research by Brahmin scholars unless it be a matter of fixing dates or tracing genealogies.~ Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar in ‘Who were the Shudras’.

The serial “Mahamanavachi Gauravgatha” in Marathi, on Dr B.R. Ambedkar has been running successfully for the past one year since 18th of May, 2019 and has recently completed 300 episodes. It seems to have gained popularity with the high TRP ratings for the show. It all seems very rosy and emancipatory, but once we look deeper you will find major issues with it.

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Did Savarkar believe in and promote untouchability?

 

Harishchandra Sukhdeve 

 

sukhdeve

 

“… When these Mahar ‘untouchable’ folk coming from Sanatan Hindu majority villages go back to their villages now after embracing Buddhism at Nagpur will they be considered ‘touchables’ only because they have now embraced Buddhism? It is impossible.” 

 

This is a quote from his article published on 30 October, 1956 within a fortnight after conversion of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar to Buddhism. It is clear from this quote [from his article below] that as late as 1956 Savarkar not only believed, but even promoted untouchability and hatred for the ‘untouchables’, the Shudras or the present day Bahujans of the Varna dharma. His bitterness is not just against the converted Buddhists of those days but also against those ‘Mahars’ who were in the 'Hindu' fold. He believes them to be ‘untouchables’ which, as he insists, cannot be done away by their conversion to Buddhism. 

 

Is Savarkar’s Hindutva for all or only for Vedics?

 

Savarkar is now increasingly thrust upon our throats by the ruling party BJP eulogizing him as a great freedom fighter, the Swatantrya Veer. He is also being presented as a ‘victim’ for not being conferred a Bharat Ratna for all these years. It was even an issue for BJP in the recent Maharashtra state assembly elections! 

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Lineage and Caste in Islam

 

Shafiullah Anis

 

(Round Table India and SAVARI have been hosting a series of online talks by activists and thinkers on issues of importance to the Bahujan. This is the transcript of Shafiullah Anis' talk on June Aug 1st, 2020)

 

The reason we are discussing this topic is because there is a perception and a kind of unanimity that the caste system among Muslims, especially in the subcontinent, is just a case of imitation of the Hindu caste system. This idea I believe needs to be evaluated and interrogated in detail. On the very same topic I had written a short note on round table India which was titled, “Is Islamic caste system entirely a Hindu influence?”. This talk can be put into the same series of the discussions. Today, I will be talking about the idea of “lineage”  and the value given to the lineage in Muslim societies and in scriptures, which later on became caste system in Indian sub-continent. 

 

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The Real Remedy for Breaking Caste

 

Dhamma Darshan Nigam

 

Dhamma DarshanI am convinced that the real remedy is inter-marriage. Fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin, and unless this feeling of kinship, of being kindred, becomes paramount, the separatist feeling—the feeling of being aliens—created by Caste will not vanish. Among the Hindus, inter-marriage must necessarily be a factor of greater force in social life than it need be in the life of the non-Hindus. Where society is already well-knit by other ties, marriage is an ordinary incident of life. But where society is cut asunder, marriage as a binding force becomes a matter of urgent necessity. The real remedy for breaking Caste is intermarriage. Nothing else will serve as the solvent of Caste.”    Dr Ambedkar

 

This statement of Babasaheb Ambedkar is often quoted whenever there is a discussion about inter-caste marriage. But it seems like the discussion on inter-caste marriage has just stopped at this statement and the issue of marriage. Nothing is discussed about what else Babasaheb said, other than this statement on inter-caste marriage, about the cultural life that is lived further between two married individuals from different caste backgrounds. Inter-caste marriage by itself is an indicator of weakening of caste, but shouldn’t cultural practices followed between those two individuals also be another indicator? 

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The Journey of School Education for Bahujan and Impact of NEP 2020

 

Naaz Khair  

Naaz kThe National Education Policy, 2020 (NEP2020) has been approved by the Union Cabinet as of 29th July, 2020. The National Education Policies of 1968, 1986 and Plan of Action of 1992 preceded NEP 2020. Prior to 1976, education was a state subject. Questions have been raised as to why NEP 2020 was not presented and discussed in the Parliament (media reports).

 

The National Education Policies of 1968 and 1986 (modified in 1992) were based on the Kothari Commission Report of 1966. NEP 2020 draws much less on the Kothari Commission report. Post-Independence, the Kothari Commission was constituted to look at the question of reconstruction of India’s educational system in order to transform India into a modern democratic and socialistic society. The British imperialist system of education could no longer hold in India. What has been the journey of school education for Bahujan pre NEP 2020? Lets us begin with the Kothari Commission report followed by the two NEPs that have preceded NEP 2020. The term Bahujan has been explained a little later in the article.

 

Kothari Commission Report- An overview of the school education section

 

The Kothari Commission found that the existing educational system had given rise to a huge population of educated un-employed. Further that, “the under-privileged sections have a very small and disproportionate share in existing facilities in spite of the unrestricted admissions”. 

 

The Commission observed that the educated did not want to take up ‘work’ considered primarily, ‘manual’ in nature. It said in society a distinction was made between education and work, wherein traditional occupations were considered ‘primitive’ and involving work drudgery (Comment: It appears, the fact that these occupations practised by Bahujan masses and interdependent on each other fostered social integration, self-reliance, concern for biodiversity and the environment, and informed a vibrant culture was lost on the Commission). 

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“Mannu”: A documentary turns Munnar upside down

 

Srutheesh Kannadi

Munnar has always been a place of attraction for tourists around the world because of the presence of the Western Ghats, climate and other geographical distinctiveness. The location plays a decisive role in maintaining the financial stability of the tourism industry of Kerala. Along with Alappuzha, Munnar also has a substantial contribution in glorifying Kerala tourism with the fantasy tagline “Gods own country”. The picture of Munnar, which is portrayed by the media and state, always drives us into the middle class/upper-middle class imaginations of beauty and nature. The place attracts visitors from the mainland using the glorified phrase “Kashmir of the South” and also for various reasons as promoted by the tourism industry.

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For the perfect progressive recipe, skip caste, sprinkle Dalit swadanusaar: Gaurav Somwanshi

 

Gaurav Somwanshi

gaurav 2020(Round Table India and SAVARI have been hosting a series of online talks by activists and thinkers on issues of importance to the Bahujan. This is the transcript of Gaurav Somwanshi's talk on June 21st, 2020)

Whatever I'm going to talk about today is primarily built upon the articles that I wrote, back in September 2016-17. Of course, I've built upon many other things, but the core has remained more or less the same. In fact, I’ll be quoting most of them directly.

So those articles were written in the aftermath of what was happening regarding the Rohith Vemula institutional murder case. Because many different kinds of reactions were popping up, but there was a certain kind of trend in them. And so that was one trigger. The second was the readiness of the mainstream to welcome the word Dalit or any other questions on caste. I remember when I was a child, I hardly ever heard that word, other than in my own family, when there was the talk of the autobiographies; but nowhere outside. But then later on, it became more ubiquitous.

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Reality of sanitation workers in India: Caste, Stigma and historical injustice

 

Dhamma Darshan Nigam

Dhamma DarshanThe reality about the life of sanitation workers is not just about unsafe working and living conditions, irregular and minimum wages, and their health conditions and exploitation by their contractors. The reality is deep down more about the caste system and acceptance by the society that one group of people is best fit to clean their excreta, and that the service which is essential to them – people providing service remain completely nonessential. The reality is as concurrent, as historically social and cultural. And the solution also has to be found both ways. 

 

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