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My aim is to bring equality in this world.

Dr Ambedkar’s idea of India and his legacy


– By Mangesh Dahiwale

Babasaheb loved India. His love is expressed in his service to India. Babasaheb quoted Leo Tolstoy to make the same point: those who love can only serve. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, people follow him and look at him as their source of inspiration. On his 124th birth anniversary, two major political parties are competing to co-opt him. The Indian National Congress declared an yearlong celebration. The RSS, which is the mother of BJP, is publishing “Collector’s issue” on Babasaheb. Ironically, Babasaheb was opposed to their brands of nationalism and their idea of India. The emergence of Babasaheb in the current situation is natural in the way polity of India is conceived in the constitution as democratic republic. In India, “We, the people” are supreme. Who are we in this “we, the people”? The answer to this question is all of us born in this country. We constitute the Indian republic. Well, at least, constitutionally, if not in practice. But this abstract idea that we constitute India is liberating for citizens of this country. The people of India elect their representatives by casting votes every five years. This is a big achievement for Indians to be able to chose who will govern them.

Dr. Ambedkar

Dr. Ambedkar

Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War in United State remarked that constitution will rule whatever is below it and destroy whatever is above it. The constitution gives that power to us. On to this question, Babasaheb directed his entire energy as to who is the ruler of India. He opposed the British Raj. His scathing remarks on exploitation of natives, his analytical criticism of Raj’s social policies, and his objective analysis of British policy are testimonies to his criticism of the British Raj. He didn’t want India to be ruled by the British. To him, it was exploitative and undermining natives of India. He was also opposed to Congress’s brand of India. Since 1937, Indian National Congress came to power in the Central Assembly and majority of the provinces of British India, their rule was similarly exploitative and it was not for “We, the people of India”. Indian National Congress was supported by the capitalists and media even during this period. They won the elections since 1937. The Indians that made Indian National Congress and larger population of Indians they ruled reflected the clear social fact of India. The Indian National Congress was elitist and led by the upper castes, mainly the Brahmans and Banias. This is the reason why Jotiba Phule was opposed to the Indian National Congress. Here lies the importance of Jotiba Phule, who created a platform for the politics of Bahujans. He was the progenitor of the idea of India ruled by the Non-Brahmans and by the current implications not by the axis of Brahmans and Banias.

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Filed under Caste Discrimination, Constitution of India, Dalit History, Dr B R Ambedkar

Dalit History Month – Remembering Purna Malavath and Anand Kumar


Today in Dalit History we focus on Purna Malavath, an Adivasi girl from Telangana, and Anand Kumar, a Dalit boy from Khammam, who in a historic feat for Indian mountaineering became two of the youngest climbers to scale Mount Everest.

13-year old Purna, along with 16-year old Anand, reached the world’s highest peak after an exhausting 52-day expedition up the Tibetan side of the mountain, known to be the most difficult route. On reaching the peak, Purna and Anand unfurled not just India’s flag, but a picture of our leader Dr. B.R Ambedkar. At a time when Dalit children in India are systematically marginalized, excluded, and deprived of educational opportunities, Purna’s and Anand’s victories are truly epic. Their achievement is testament to the potential every Dalit child possesses, and if provided with resources, will accomplish what they aspire to.

Purna

On their victory, Purna said, “The aim of my expedition was to inspire young people and students from my kind of background. For a tribal like me, opportunities are very rare and I was looking for one opportunity where I could prove my caliber”. During tough times of the expedition, Purna narrates that she kept herself motivated, by thinking of her parents, whose words, “you can change your life if you put your mind to it” kept her going.

Check alsoDalit History Month – Jhalkari Bai – A Legendary Dalit Woman Warrior

Purna’s parents are agricultural laborers from Telangana; her co-climber Anand’s father is a cycle mechanic. “My father is my hero. He never once complained about his work at the cycle shop and always encouraged me to work hard, no matter how big or small the task,” says Anand.

The journey for both of them began at the Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions. Purna and Anand was selected from a group of more than 100 students who were sent for training to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling. In preparation for the Everest climb, they trained in the mountains of Darjeeling and Ladakh.

In June 2014, Purna and Anand were recognized for their achievement by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights in association with the All India Dalit Rights Federation, the Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion, AP Bhavan Employees’ Welfare & Cultural Association, and AP Bhavan SC/ST Welfare Association.

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“We believe that if Dalit children are given equal opportunities, they can excel anywhere. They only need support to utilize these opportunities effectively”, said Beena Pallical, National Coordinator for Campaigns, NCDHR. “We dream of an India where every child’s potential is realised so that they can be where Poorna is today. At the top”, added Annie Namala of the Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion.

Please share the information with your friends. Follow the Dalit History Month on Facebook from here and check www.dalithistory.com

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Dalit History Month – Remembering Mahatma Jotiba Phule


Today in Dalit History, in honor of Mahatma Phule Jayanthi, or birthday, we dedicate our post to Jyotirao Phule – an activist, a thinker, and a social revolutionary of the nineteenth century.

While he was not of a Dalit but a Shudra background, his ideals, works and actions have had an invaluable liberatory impact on Dalits.

Born April 11th 1827 before the widespread Adi-movements, Phule was the first to propound caste as a subjugation and oppression on an indigenous peoples by invaders. He stressed that caste was equivalent to slavery, as vicious and brutal as the enslavement of Africans in the Americas and unique in its deception and religious sanction.

Check alsoDalit History Month – Jhalkari Bai – A Legendary Dalit Woman Warrior

Mahatma Jotiba Phule

Mahatma Jotiba Phule

In his revolutionary book, Gulamgiri (Slavery) published in 1873, Jyotirao included a manifesto which amongst other things declared that he was willing to dine with all regardless of their caste, creed or country of origin and that social salvation was to be found only in the education of women and Dalits. This content was deemed extremely controversial at the time and several newspapers blatantly refused to publicize it.

He believed that Dalits were a group of people who had suffered added repression and persecution because they had at one time been actively engaged in fighting invading Brahmanism on the ground. His salvation describes the unity of the Shudras and Adi-Shudras (Dalits) into one exploited mass of people rising up in powerful political unity.

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He and his wife, Savitribai Phule, became pioneers of women’s education in India, and together started the first school for girls on January 1st 1848 at Bhide’s wada in Pune. They also started schools in which they educated both girls and Dalits.

Like most Dalit and anti-caste revolutionaries, he felt a strong need to establish an alternative religion to the one that was oppressing his people. What he began then, lead him to form the Satya Shodhak Samaj (Society of Seekers of Truth) whose main objectives were to liberate the Shudras and Ati Shudras and prevent exploitation by Brahmins within a strong context of gender equality.

His life-long work for equality has recognized when Phule was publicly conferred the title of Mahatma on 11 May 1888 and later termed the “Martin Luther King of India” by his biographer Dhananjay Keer. Dr.Ambedkar proudly declared that Phule was one his three spiritual mentors. His birthday continues to be a celebration all around the world where Dalits honor him for Mahatma Phule Jayanthi.

Read also – Dalit History Month – Jhalkari Bai – A Legendary Dalit Woman Warrior

Please share the information with your friends. Follow the Dalit History Month on Facebook from here and check www.dalithistory.com

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The Greatness of Mahatma Jotiba Phule


An Introduction:

In India, Maharashtra a state with cultural heritage and is also land of social thinkers, social reforms and social revolutionaries who have not only molded and enriched all facets of life of Maharashtra but have also made singular contribution to growth and development of India .In this website of the great social reformer – Mahatma Phule, contempory of KARL MARX, we have the “patria protesta” of the Indian social revolution and the first leader of peasants.

Mahatma Jotiba Phule

Mahatma Jotiba Phule

In those days there was a conflict between the rationalist and the orthodox. His period can, therefore, be a aptly described as the dawn of revolution in the history not only of Maharashtra but of the country as a whole in the various fields like Education, Caste Systems, Agriculture, Economics, Women and widow upliftment , Human Rights, Untouchability ,Social Equality.

Check also – Mahatma Jotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule’s contribution towards women empowerment

MAHATMA JYOTIRAO GOVINDRAO PHULE occupies a unique position among the social reformers of Maharashtra in the nineteenth century. While other reformers concentrated more on reforming the social institutions of family and marriage with special emphasis on the status and rights of women, Jotirao Phule revolted against the unjust caste system under which million of people had suffered for centuries. In particular, he courageously upheld the cause of the untouchables and took up the cudgels for the poorer peasants. He was a militant advocate of their rights. The story of his stormy life is an inspiring saga of a continuous struggle, which he waged relentlessly against the forces of reaction. What was remarkable was his ability to stand up against all kinds of pressure without faltering even once and act always according to his convictions. Though some keen observers of the social scene in Maharashtra like Narayan Mahadeo Parmanand did acknowledge his greatness in his lifetime, it is only in recent decades that there is increasing appreciation of his service and sacrifice in uplifting the masses.

Read also – What Mahatma Jotiba Phule Said

Childhood:

Jotirao Phule was born in 1827. His father, Govindrao was a vegetable vendor at Poona. Originally Jotirao’s family, known as Gorhays, came from Katugan, a village in the Satara district of Maharashtra. His grandfather Shetiba Gorhay settled down in Poona. Since Jotirao’s father and two uncles served as florists under the last of the Peshwas, they came to be known as ‘Phules’. Jotirao’s mother passed away when he was hardly one year old. After completing his primary education, Jotirao had to leave the school and help his father by working on the family’s farm. Jotirao’s marriage was celebrated when he was not even thirteen.

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Dalit History Month – Remembering “Adi Movements”


Today’s ‪Dalit History‬ month post is on the Adi-movements of the 1920’s. For Dalit history, ‘Adi’ ideologies are highly significant as they bear testament to our earliest assertion of equal rights, humanity and citizenship on level with other castes.

By the late 19th century, leaders like the social reformer Jyotirao Phule, had created a powerful anti-caste space, upholding non-Brahmanical thought and presenting the dream of a new egalitarian value system on which to model society on. Soon after, the early 20th century saw several archaeological discoveries being made in Mohenjodaro and Harappa in the North, pointing to the existence of an unexpectedly ancient civilization that was likely much older than Aryan migrations. These discoveries struck a profound chord with Dalits all over the subcontinent, who immediately began to identify as an indigenous population who were conquered and subsequently oppressed by an alien religion. Although, the evidence for Aryan conquests remains contested, these interpretation was so compelling that such “Adi” (Ancient/Old/Original) movements sprung up all over the nation completely independently of each other.

Check alsoDalit History Month – Jhalkari Bai – A Legendary Dalit Woman Warrior

Adi movement

The names of these movements are telling – Ad-Dharm in Punjab, Adi-Hindu in U.P. and Hyderabad, Adi-Dravida, Adi-Andhra and Adi-Karnataka in South India – all indicating a common claim to nativity and original inhabitation.

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The provocative effects of the Adi-movements are best illustrated by an early Maharashtrian pre-Ambedkar Dalit leader, Kisan Faguji Bansode, who warned his caste-Hindu friends in 1909, stating: “The Aryans – your ancestors – conquered us and gave us unbearable harassment. At that time we were your conquest, you treated us worse than slaves and subjected us to any torture you wanted. But now we are no longer your subjects, we have no service relationship with you, we are not your slaves or serfs… We have had enough of the harassment and torture of the Hindus.”

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Special programme on Dr B R Ambedkar by DD News


The-Architect-Of-Modern-India

Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar

 

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Filed under Constitution of India, Documentary, Dr B R Ambedkar, Equal Rights

Dalit History Month – Remembering Shri Guru Ravidas Ji


Today’s ‪‎Dalit History‬ post focuses on Guru ‪Ravidass‬. He represents one of many Dalit saints within our liberatory spiritual traditions who challenge Hinduism and its painful notions of pollution. These thinkers fearlessly explored the existential questions posed by caste apartheid with their counter vision of justice, freedom, and one’s true place in the universe.

Ravidas2

Guru Ravidas

Guru Ravidass was one such towering figure. A Chamar saint, poet, and philosopher, he called himself a ‘tanner now set free’. He was the first to envision an Indian utopia in his song “Begumpura”—a modern casteless, classless, tax-free city without sorrow. This vision was in stark contrast to the dystopia of the Brahmanical Kali Yuga.

Check also I, Ravidas, proclaim all Vedas are worthless.

Emerging from the Bhakti tradition he employed loving devotion as a method of social protest against Untouchability. The path he chose was free from religious rituals and sectarian formalities. It emphasized the dignity of labour and compassion for all. It reflected the democratic and egalitarian traits of his social philosophy. He dared challenging the tyranny of the Brahmin spiritual hegemony by wearing dhoti (cloth wrapped around the waist), the janeue (sacred thread), and tilak (sacred red mark on forehead).

His poetry became one of the main vehicles of his social protest. Written in the vernacular of the common man, he hoped to “provide for a better world and a fight against exploiters, power-holders and oppression going on under the name of religion”.

Check alsoPhotos and what Guru Ravidas Ji said

His spiritual teachings became a catalyst that helped concretize the Dalit cultural space in Punjab as his followers have grown beyond India to the world. The followers of his path, represent a range with some devotees counting themselves as Ravidassi Sikhs, while the vast majority now consider themselves a separate religion from Hinduism and Sikhism. One of the key defining characteristics of Ravidassias is that they must believe that Ravidass is a guru (saint) whereas the Sikhs consider him a merely bhagat (holy person). Ravidassias also have compiled their own holy book of Ravidass’ teachings, the Amritbani Guru Ravidass Ji, and many Ravidassia temples now use this book in place of the Guru Granth Sahib.

Check also – Stop Attacking Dalit Statues and Dalit Pride

Please share the information with your friends. Follow the Dalit History Month on Facebook from here and check www.dalithistory.com

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Rashtrapita Jotiba Phule’s memorial address to the education commission


[Jotiba Phule‘s deposition before the Education Commission in 1881 (also known as the Hunter Commission) is reproduced here from the book, Selected Writings of Jotirao Phule; this extract is recorded between pages 140-145 in Education Commission, Bombay, Vol II, Calcutta, 1884 – Round Table India]

~~~

My experience in educational matters is principally confined to Poona and the surrounding villages. About 25 years ago, the missionaries had established a female school at Poona, but no indigenous school for girls existed at the time. I, therefore, was induced, about the year 1854[1], to establish such a school, and in which I and my wife worked together for many years. After some time I placed this school under the management of a committee of educated natives. Under their auspices two more schools were opened in different parts of the town. A year after the institution of the female schools, I also established an indigenous mixed school for the lower classes, especially the Mahars and Mangs. Two more schools for these classes were subsequently added, Sir Erskine Perry, the president of the late Educational Board, and Mr. Lumsdain, the then Secretary to Government, visited the female schools and were much pleased with the movement set on foot, and presented me with a pair of shawls. I continued to work in them for nearly 9 to 10 years, but owing to circumstances, which it is needless here to detail, I seceded from the work. These female schools still exist, having been made over by the committee to the Educational Department under the management of Mrs. Mitchell. A school for the lower classes, Mahars and Mangs, also exists at the present day, but not in a satisfactory condition. I have also been a teacher for some years in a mission female boarding school. My principal experience was gained in connection with these schools. I devoted some attention also to the primary education available in this Presidency and have had some opportunities of forming an opinion as to the system and personnel employed in the lower schools of the Educational Department. I wrote some years ago a Marathi pamphlet exposing the religious practices of the Brahmins and incidentally among other matters, adverted therein to the present: system of education, which by providing ampler funds for higher education tended to educate Brahmins and the higher classes only, and to leave the masses wallowing in ignorance and poverty. I summarised the views expressed in the book in an English preface attached thereto, portions of which I reproduce here so far as they relate to the present enquiry:

”Perhaps a part of the blame in bringing matters to this crisis maybe justly laid to the credit of the Government. Whatever may have been their motives in providing ampler funds and greater facilities for higher education, and neglecting that of the masses, it will be acknowledged by all that injustice to the latter, this is not as it should be. It is an admitted fact that the greater portion of the revenues of the Indian Empire are derived from the ryot’s labour from the sweat of his brow. The higher and richer classes contribute little or nothing to the state exchequer. A well informed English writer states that our income is derived, not from surplus profits, but from capital; not from luxuries, but from the poorest necessaries. It is the product of sin and tears.”

Check also – Books by Mahatma Jotiba Phule

Mahatma Jotiba Phule

Mahatma Jotiba Phule

”That Government should expend profusely a large portion of revenue thus raised, on the education of the higher classes, for it is these only who take advantage of it, is anything but just or equitable. Their object in patronising this actual high class education appears to be to prepare scholars who, it is thought would in time vend learning without money and without price. If we can inspire, say they, the love of knowledge in the minds of the superior classes, the result will be a higher standard, of morals in the cases of the individuals, a large amount of affection for the British Government, and unconquerable desire to spread among their own countrymen the intellectual blessings which they have received.”

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Dalit History Month – Remembering Madhu Bai Kinnar


Dalit History is vital for understanding tour vibrant parallel culture that defiantly exists next to more conventionally taught Brahmin history for our countries in South Asia.

In this spirit today’s dalit history post honors Madhu Bai Kinnar, the first openly elected Dalit Trans Mayor of India. Madhu made history when elected mayor of Raigarh, Chhattisgarh when she defeated her opponent of the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) by a margin of 4,500 votes.

Check alsoDalit History Month – Jhalkari Bai – A Legendary Dalit Woman Warrior

Madhu Bai Kinnar

Madhu Bai Kinnar

This comes at a time when Transgenders in India face extreme economic, political, social, and cultural exclusion. India’s most recent census yielded the first official count of transgendered citizens at more than 490,000, although Transgender activists in the country estimate this number to be six to seven times higher.

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Before running for Mayor, Madhu Kinnar earned a living by singing and dancing on Howrah to Mumbai trains, collecting money for her performances. Speaking on her victory, she says, “People have shown faith in me. I consider this win as love and blessings of people for me. I’ll put in my best efforts to accomplish their dreams”.

On her campaign, she says, “I have no experience, I’ve never made a public speech, but while campaigning, I went to every household. As is the traditional role of our people, I blessed each one of them for a good life ahead. After that, crowds started gathering near me and people started supporting me.”

Madhu feels that her most important responsibility is towards her community. She believes providing them with jobs in the municipal corporation is a viable option in the right direction.

Read alsoDalit History Month – The Dalit Panthers

Madhu Kinnar’s victory as Mayor comes 9 months after India’s supreme court ruled that transgender people could be legally recognized as gender-neutral, or a ‘third gender’. However, homosexuality remains a criminal offense in India and those caught engaging in sexual acts can be imprisoned.

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Dalit History Month – Remembering Tsundur Massacre


Our Dalit History post for today is on the terrible Tsundur Massacre.

The history of Dalits is haunted by the heartbreaking reality of Caste atrocity. India and the other South Asian countries where Caste is rampant, maintain Caste apartheid through Caste lynchings, massacres, and public rapes and beatings. This violence is a vicious reprisal message to Dalits who challenge caste norms- creating a vicious climate of terror. However the reason we know and remember these crimes, is through the remarkable activism of the survivors and their families.

The Tsundur massacre is an example of one such case. Tsundur (or Chundhur) is a village dominated by the Reddy caste in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh (pop. 5,800). After a series of escalating small caste skirmishes the violence broke out in full force on the morning of August 6th, where police who were colluding with the perpetrator warned Dalits an attack was imminent and asked them to flee to the fields.

Read alsoDalit History Month – The Dalit Panthers

Tsundur Massacre

Tsundur Massacre

They did this to have the Dalits come out into the open so that the 400 dominant Caste villagers who were waiting in the fields and forests, beat the Dalits with iron rods, and stabbed them with daggers and axes. The Reddys then gathered the bodies and packed them into gunny bags and tossed them into the nearby Tungabhadra drain. In all, at least 8 Dalit men were stabbed or beaten to death, and 7 others whom have never been traced are believed dead. The police made no effort to recover the bodies of those killed.

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In the wake of this attack the families and Dalit Movements throughout Andhra Pradesh fought tirelessly to bring these Caste criminals to justice. The first ever special atrocity court was convened onsite to try these perpetrators. However, despite an initial set of convictions, The Supreme Court of India in July 2014 stayed all further proceedings and justice has repeatedly been denied. We salute and honor the memory of the slain and their families who continue to carry on the fight.

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Please share the information with your friends. Follow the Dalit History Month on Facebook from here and check www.dalithistory.com

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