Mahad Satyagraha was a satyagraha led by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on 20 March 1927 to allow untouchables to use water in a public tank in Mahad (currently in Kolba district), Maharasthra, India. The day (20 March) observed as Social Empowerment day in India.
Tag Archives: Dr B R Ambedkar
Dalit Global Conference on Defending Dalit Rights – March 19-21, 2015 – Trinity Washington University in NE Washington, DC (USA). Several notable activists and thought leaders in the realm of human rights, including Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and Dr. Cornel West, are declaring solidarity with Dalits, and helping bring greater attention to their plight by participating with the conference and call-to-action event planned for Saturday, March 21 at 12noon in front of the White House.
PRESS RELEASE: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/03/prweb12560019.htm
REGISTER HERE: http://bit.ly/1yfIdad
(Excerpted from Chapters 11 to 14 of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s 1948 work The Untouchables: Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables?)
The Census Returns [of 1910] show that the meat of the dead cow forms the chief item of food consumed by communities which are generally classified as untouchable communities. No Hindu community, however low, will touch cow’s flesh. On the other hand, there is no community which is really an Untouchable community which has not something to do with the dead cow. Some eat her flesh, some remove the skin, some manufacture articles out of her skin and bones.
Check also – Few Posters against Beef Ban.
From the survey of the Census Commissioner, it is well established that Untouchables eat beef. The question however is: Has beef-eating any relation to the origin of Untouchability? Or is it merely an incident in the economic life of the Untouchables? Can we say that the Broken Men to be treated as Untouchables because they ate beef? There need be no hesitation in returning an affirmative answer to this question. No other answer is consistent with facts as we know them.
In the first place, we have the fact that the Untouchables or the main communities which compose them eat the dead cow and those who eat the dead cow are tainted with untouchability and no others. The co-relation between untouchability and the use of the dead cow is so great and so close that the thesis that it is the root of untouchability seems to be incontrovertible. In the second place if there is anything that separates the Untouchables from the Hindus, it is beef-eating. Even a superficial view of the food taboos of the Hindus will show that there are two taboos regarding food which serve as dividing lines. There is one taboo against meat-eating. It divides Hindus into vegetarians and flesh eaters. There is another taboo which is against beef eating. It divides Hindus into those who eat cow’s flesh and those who do not. From the point of view of untouchability the first dividing line is of no importance. But the second is. For it completely marks off the Touchables from the Untouchables. The Touchables whether they are vegetarians or flesh-eaters are united in their objection to eat cow’s flesh. As against them stand the Untouchables who eat cow’s flesh without compunction and as a matter of course and habit.
In this context it is not far-fetched to suggest that those who have a nausea against beef-eating should treat those who eat beef as Untouchables.
There is really no necessity to enter upon any speculation as to whether beef-eating was or was not the principal reason for the rise of Untouchability. This new theory receives support from the Hindu Shastras. The Veda Vyas Smriti contains the following verse which specifies the communities which are included in the category of Antyajas and the reasons why they were so included
L.12-13 “The Charmakars (Cobbler), the Bhatta (Soldier), the Bhilla, the Rajaka (washerman), the Puskara, the Nata (actor), the Vrata, the Meda, the Chandala, the Dasa, the Svapaka, and the Kolika- these are known as Antyajas as well as others who eat cow’s flesh.”
Generally speaking, the Smritikars never care to explain the why and the how of their dogmas. But this case is exception. For in this case, Veda Vyas does explain the cause of untouchability. The clause “as well as others who eat cow’s flesh” is very important. It shows that the Smritikars knew that the origin of untouchability is to be found in the eating of beef. The dictum of Veda Vyas must close the argument. It comes, so to say, straight from the horse’s mouth and what is important is that it is also rational for it accords with facts as we know them.
The new approach in the search for the origin of Untouchability has brought to the surface two sources of the origin of Untouchability. One is the general atmosphere of scorn and contempt spread by the Brahmins against those who were Buddhists and the second is the habit of beef-eating kept on by the Broken Men. As has been said the first circumstance could not be sufficient to account for stigma of Untouchability attaching itself to the Broken Men. For the scorn and contempt for Buddhists spread by the Brahmins was too general and affected all Buddhists and not merely the Broken Men. The reason why Broken Men only became Untouchables was because in addition to being Buddhists they retained their habit of beef-eating which gave additional ground for offence to the Brahmins to carry their new-found love and reverence to the cow to its logical conclusion. We may therefore conclude that the Broken Men were exposed to scorn and contempt on the ground that they were Buddhists, and the main cause of their Untouchability was beef-eating.
The theory of beef-eating as the cause of untouchability also gives rise to many questions. Critics are sure to ask: What is the cause of the nausea which the Hindus have against beef-eating? Were the Hindus always opposed to beef-eating? If not, why did they develop such a nausea against it? Were the Untouchables given to beef-eating from the very start? Why did they not give up beef-eating when it was abandoned by the Hindus? Were the Untouchables always Untouchables? If there was a time when the Untouchables were not Untouchables even though they ate beef why should beef-eating give rise to Untouchability at a later-stage? If the Hindus were eating beef, when did they give it up? If Untouchability is a reflex of the nausea of the Hindus against beef-eating, how long after the Hindus had given up beef-eating did Untouchability come into being?….
DID THE HINDUS NEVER EAT BEEF?
TO the question whether the Hindus ever ate beef, every Touchable Hindu, whether he is a Brahmin or a non-Brahmin, will say ‘no, never’. In a certain sense, he is right. From times no Hindu has eaten beef. If this is all that the Touchable Hindu wants to convey by his answer there need be no quarrel over it. But when the learned Brahmins argue that the Hindus not only never ate beef but they always held the cow to be sacred and were always opposed to the killing of the cow, it is impossible to accept their view.
Budget cuts to affect education, health and women’s development most. Dr. Ambedkar had asked governments to spend most on education and health but shame on government for ignoring these two important areas! Seems like government doesn’t want to educate people because then they will start demanding their rights. We strongly condemn such a sick mentality of government.
New Delhi: Pursuing unabashedly and openly a pro-corporate policy, the Modi Budget outlines a stark vision of an India that sharply limits budgetary allocations to millions of its poorest and neediest citizens, the Dalits and Adivasis, said the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) – Dalit Arthik Adhikar Andolan (DAAA).
Also check - Dalits/Adivasis ignored in union budget 2015
The Budget has severely fallen short on its fiscal promises and takes away 57% per cent of state money meant for welfare schemes for Dalits and Adivasis. “Where are the ‘achhe din,'”asks an agitated aam aurat.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to whip the budget into shape and make the economy fairer for Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalized sections, unfortunately, his words have not translated into action,” says NCDHR General Secretary Paul Divakar.
The Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP) and the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP), the most important budgetary components for Dalits and Tribals initiated in 1979, became necessary as Dalits and Tribals were continuously denied their adequate share of government funds essentially required for their development.
This year, Dalits have been allocated only Rs 30,850 crore, while the allocation is only Rs 19,980 crore for Adivasis. However, as per the SCSP/TSP Guidelines, the SCs should be allocated 16.6% of the Plan Outlay, which amounts to Rs 77,236 crore towards SCSP and the STs should be allocated 8.6% of the Plan Outlay, which amounts to Rs 40,014 crore towards TSP. Dalits, therefore, have been denied a total of 61% of the due amount under the SCSP, and 53% has been denied to Adivasis under TSP.
When compared to 2014-15 allocations , SCSP allocation was Rs 43,208 crore and TSP allocation was Rs 26,714 crore, this year’s allocation has declined and is anti-SC and anti-ST.
None can deny the truth that Dalits and Adivasis have been the backbone of economic growth through their sheer contribution to agriculture and infrastructure development in this country. However, it is for all to see that they are paid far below the minimum wage; their health indicators such as infant and maternal mortality rates and the rate of anaemia is very high when compared to the non-SC/ST population.
It is not only ironic but a cruel stroke that the Government instead of protecting them and promoting their development has grossly reduced spending on their welfare. Where is the money going? The answer is not far to seek – it is going to the corporates with a reduction in corporate tax from 30% to 25%.
From the gender perspective, the Budget spells doom for SC/ST women, as it earmarks practically nothing for them. Out of the total allocation of Rs 30850 crore under the SCSP, the allocation for women specific schemes is a meager sum of Rs 73.70 crore – which amounts to 0.23% only! Are Dalit and Adivasi women not in the gamut of ‘SabkaVikas’? The scenario is much the same when one looks at the Budget allocation under TSP — a paltry sum of Rs 40 crore ie 0.20% only! The only small streak of hope is the allocation of Rs 50 crore for SC Girls’ Hostel! It is also very shocking to note that despite a wave of atrocities against Dalit and Adivasi women, the government turns a blind eye by not earmarking any allocation to Dalit and Adivasi women in the Nirbhaya fund which has an additional fund of Rs 1,000 crore.
This year the allocations have also declined in the education sector (Ministry of Human Resource Development) to Rs 10194.7 crore under the SCSP and Rs 5486.44 crore under TSP. Allocation in the critical Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for SC/STs has been reduced from Rs 1904.78 crore to Rs 1599 crore. Retrogressive allocations are also seen in the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid Day Meal Scheme and in Higher education for SCs and STs.
The Modi Govt. has really missed the boat to reach out to the Dalits and Adivasis! Though this Budget could have been used to give real relief to struggling families facing assaults, atrocities, discrimination, poor health, lack of education and unemployment, no concrete measure has been taken to improve their condition.
Source – NCDHR
Siddharth Vihar, the boys’ hostel in Mumbai that was once the site of important political and cultural activity within the Dalit community, has been demolished. Here’s why the demolition means so much more.
February 9, 2015. The 90-odd residents of Wadala’s Siddharth Vihar boys’ hostel – mostly poor Dalit and “lower” caste students from rural Maharashtra – were busy preparing for the upcoming examination season. Around 10am, their studies were interrupted by a group of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials and beat policemen, who asked them to assemble outside the building. Once the students had been herded downstairs, the officials locked the hostel gates. Within ten minutes, the demolition started. The doors and internal walls were the first to go, to ensure that the four-story structure could not be re-occupied. In one stroke, the students were rendered shelterless. With nowhere to go, many are still camped out in the hostel compound.
In another part of the city, the Maharashtra state government is finalizing plans to buy a 2,050sq ft, three-story bungalow in London for Rs 30 crore. This is the house Dalit icon Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar stayed in while studying at the London School of Economics in 1921-1922. The government, with one eye firmly fixed on the Dalit vote in the upcoming local body elections, wants to convert the bungalow into an Ambedkar memorial. On February 18, the cash-strapped government announces that it will dip into the funds allocated to the Mahatma Phule Magasvargiya Vikas Mahamandal – a state-owned corporation whose objective is to help people from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities by offering training and financial assistance so they can be self-employed – to pay Rs 3 crore to a UK-based solicitor to close the deal.
The contrasting responses to these two cases reflect the larger tragedy of contemporary Dalit politics in Maharashtra, where tokenism and symbolism have taken the place of concrete efforts towards the upliftment of the Dalit masses. The state government, which is spending Rs 30 crore on an Ambedkar memorial in another country, did not even notice when an important part of Ambedkar’s legacy was lost forever. Over its 51-year history, Siddharth Vihar occupied a unique role in the struggle for Dalit emancipation in Maharashtra. It was an incubator for Dalit radicals and intellectuals, producing some of the biggest names in Dalit politics, literature, music and theater. And yet there were no public statements on its demise, no long paeans in newspaper columns.
The silence of Dalit leaders on the hostel’s demolition is especially striking. Take, for example,Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader Prakash Ambedkar, who is BR Ambedkar’s grandson. He is a vocal supporter of the London memorial. But we haven’t heard a peep from him about Siddharth Vihar, even though he’s involved in a power struggle within the People’s Education Society (PES), the organization that managed the hostel. Nor has there been any statement from his rival Ramdas Athawale of the Republican Party of India (Athawale), who built his political career while at the hostel, and was still living in one of Siddharth Vihar’s dingy rooms when he became a cabinet minister in Sharad Pawar’s 1990 government.
But not everyone is silent. Revolutionary balladeer Sambhaji Bhagat, who stayed at the hostel from 1979-1994, called the day of the demolition a terrible day for the Ambedkarite movement. “This was Babasaheb [Ambedkar]’s dream,” he says, anger palpable even over the phone. “And it was that dream that was torn down.”
In many ways, Siddharth Vihar’s story is linked to that of the Ambedkarite movement. This story begins in 1945, when Ambedkar established PES in order to provide access to education for fellow members of the Dalit community – who had been denied access to education for millennia – as well as people from other underprivileged sections of society. To this end, PES set up schools and colleges all over the country, including Mumbai. Aware of the challenges rural Dalit students faced in coming to a big city, Ambedkar set the plans for Siddharth Vihar in motion. In the meantime, his own residence Rajgriha functioned as a hostel for “lower” caste students.
In 1964, eight years after Ambedkar passed away, Siddharth Vihar’s construction was finally finished. “[Ambedkar] had ensured that the hostel had all the facilities students would need – in every room there were tables, lamps, etc,” says Bhagat. “It was better than most of the government hostels in Mumbai at the time.”
Also Watch – Dr. B. R. Ambedkar at Columbia University