Tag Archives: Dalit History Month

Times of India covered Dr. Ambedkar Caravan among Round Table India, NACDOR, APSC and Dalit Camera


Few months back, Al Jazeera show on Dalit History had mentioned comments from the Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Caravan. Today, Times of India covered about Dr. Ambedkar Caravan. Read from here –

In recent months, racial violence has been foregrounded in the US, with the Charleston incident in which nine black church-goers were gunned down and other incidents of police brutality that are no longer possible to deny. And all of a sudden, Black Twitter has become a preoccupation with the US media, reminding it of its own evasions.

Hashtags around race like #icantbreathe #Blacklivesmatter found their way into many feeds, pushed themselves into wider view, and forced a reckoning. The LA Times recently even assigned a reporter to cover Black Twitter, while acknowledging that “it is so much more complicated than that”.

African-American struggles have inspired and tactically informed anti-caste activism. But could Dalit-Bahujan Twitter exert a similar force, in India?

Take Round Table India, a forum of writers that aims for “an informed Ambedkar age” and sees caste as the primary fissure in Indian society. They aggregate news on politics, society and culture, they comment and critique, and try to be a hub for Dalit-Bahujan voices. ‘Unlike mainstream media, we aren’t casteist – we have many upper castes writing, at least as much as their share in the population,” says Naren Bedide, one of the founders.

It’s only half a joke. The media is scandalously unrepresentative – in 1996, Pioneer journalist B N Uniyal found that he hadn’t met a single Dalit journalist in his entire working life. In 2006, a Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) study found that 90% of the decision-makers at English newspapers and 79% of TV journalists were upper-caste.

In other words, the media frames national events, but does not include most of the nation. It speaks with near-unanimity on IIT’s “standards” when it pushes out Dalit students; it misreports caste-based violence as “farmers’ clashes” or lovers’ quarrels when it reports them at all; and it often misses the real import of events. “When others interpret the world for you, can you change it?” is the question that drives Round Table India. “We don’t have, and don’t expect access in the media. It’s a conscious decision to build spaces of our own,” says Bedide. As he sees it, it is a structural conflict, and one can’t use the tools of savarnas, like mainstream media, to dismantle their edifice of hierarchy.

There are blogs like Atrocities News that wrenched attention to the Khairlanji killings and continue to document caste-based attacks. But there are also blogs with entirely different missions, Facebook and Twitter accounts, mailing lists and Whatsapp groups – and to club them all together as Dalit social media flattens their diversity. Shared Mirror, for instance, is a platform for Dalit poetry, translated and new. Savari, a space by Adivasi, Bahujan and Dalit women, speaks with its own distinctive voice.

There are forums dedicated to history and to challenging narratives and erasures, like Dr Ambedkar’s Caravan, which has over 500 articles so far. In April, activists across the board celebrated Dalit History Month, creatively resisting the attempt to reduce Dalit history solely to one of atrocity. This was, again, a nod to Black History Month. Hashtags like #Dalitlivesmatter are often used to galvanize others.

TOI

Twitter, though, is still a hostile medium, say many of these writers. “It is full of either Internet Hindus or Congressis and left-liberals, there is no understanding of other issues,” says Bedide. Facebook, which nurtures more like-minded groups and longer conversations, is more useful, says Ashok Bharti, chairman of the National Confederation of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR). “If any incident happens anywhere, it is on my Facebook page in five minutes. It’s better than a wire service, though the stories are often raw,” he says.

“Dalits are still untouchable on social media; if I post anything about Dr Ambedkar or Dalit history in a general forum, I get blocked in a few minutes,” says Pardeep Attri of Ambedkar’s Caravan.

Of course, there is no unified Dalit social media, any more than there is a single Dalit politics across the country, fragmented as it is by sub-caste, region, gender, class and ideological preference. And yet, social media offers something new. Dalit Camera, a YouTube channel, records life “from untouchable eyes”. Bathran Ravichandran, who founded it, says that social media, with the many perspectives it offers, has “broadened the views and values” of Dalit activists around the country. Social media only supplements, in a small way, the grassroots work that goes on around the country, he says.

Others are skeptical of the reach and representativeness of social media Dalit voices. Political analyst and activist Anand Teltumbde describes them as “a small fraction of Dalits, who just talk to each other”. According to him, a sharpened sense of caste and sub-caste identity makes it harder to make common cause with others, and only props up their elite adversaries.

Meanwhile, groups like NACDOR prefer to engage with mainstream media and institutions, and use social media for direct access and advocacy. So does the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle (APSC) at IIT Madras, which has a vocal social media presence. Akhil Bharathan of APSC thinks that caste, as an all-encompassing framework of oppression, also compels one outwards, to think of gender, class, and minority justice, and to form alliances. While these voices may now be a “counterpublic”, drowned out in the din of powerful interest groups, the “ultimate aim is to be the public,” says Bharathan.

Source – TOI

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Why Dalit History Matters


This article was first posted at Round Table India.

If you want to destroy a society, destroy its History and the society will get destroyed automatically – Dr. Ambedkar

Dalit History Month

Dalit History Month

Nobody till now has questioned winners; neither will anyone in the future ask them, how have they won? Fiction is “generally accepted falsehood” or “non factual literature”, whereas the History is “systematic continuous record of events”. Dalit history has been maligned and distorted since ages. Historians ought to be freeless, sincere, open minded, open hearted, truth seeking & also courageous to show the truth at any cost but it is the misfortune of the Dalits of India that historians have always presented a distorted picture & never showed the truth to the people. Being Dalit, we have been taught to hate ourselves, we have been taught that Dalits’ don’t have any history; we have been taught Dalits can’t do any good. Who taught you all this? The upper castes did. Hence, almost everyone confuses history with fiction & historians have made people blind, deaf & dumb – have disabled people from thinking rationally. Historians have made us believe and worship fictitious characters such as Krishna and Rama.

A few years ago, the Punjab School Education Board came up with a 4th standard book in which Guru Ravidas was shown worshiping King Rama and Sita. But in reality, Guru Ravidas was against idol worship and he never worshiped any of these two deities. Not only this, the names of Guru Ravidas’ parents, his date of birth and even the Guru’s name were wrongly published! Further, it was taught to us that Guru Ravidas was a disciple of Ramanand but nowhere in Guru Ravidas’ bani (teachings) will you find Ramanand’s name mentioned even though the names of other saints such as Saint Kabir, Saint Namdev etc., are mentioned in his bani. A few days back, Mohan Bhagwat from RSS was claiming that Dr. Ambedkar believed in RSS’ ideology!

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Dalit History Month – Remembering Jogendra Nath Mandal


Today in ‪‎Dalit History‬ we focus on the powerful legacy of freedom fighter Jogendra Nath Mandal. His crucial role in the founding of India and Pakistan came from his strategic position as the significant Namashudra leader of United Bengal.

As the Indian subcontinent was moving towards independence, Dr. B.R Ambedkar and the Congress Party of India clashed bitterly over the rights and representation of scheduled castes. Ambedkar was an unyielding critic of the Congress party’s positions on many issues, which he believed were not in the interest of the scheduled castes. Thus when members were being elected to the Indian Constituent Assembly, the Congress party in Bombay saw to it that Dr. Ambedkar was not elected. However, Jogendra Nath Mandal, who had been nominated from Jaisur and Kulna (undivided Bengal), sacrificed his seat to Dr. Ambedkar so that he could become part of the 296 member constituent Assembly. In doing so, Mandal ensured there was at least one Dalit present in the drafting committee of the Indian constitution.

Jogendra Nath Mandal

Jogendra Nath Mandal

As a leader of the Namashudras, Mandal found common cause with the Muslim League, in their demand for Pakistan. His reasons were, “First the economic interests of Muslims in Bengal were generally identical with those of the Scheduled Castes…and secondly that the Scheduled Castes and the Muslims were both educationally backward.” He hoped that in Pakistan, Dalits would be equal, as freedom from the oppression of Caste Hindu landlords and moneylenders would cease. For M.A. Jinnah, the 1st leader of ‘Pakistan’ had assured them freedom to practice any religion; In his speech of August 11, 1947 he said, “You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” Thus on August 15,1947 Mandal became a member and a temporary chairman of Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly, and agreed to serve as the Minister for Law and Labour. He also served as the second minister of commonwealth and Kashmir affairs.

Sadly, his time in Pakistan was not peaceful as he could not stop the increasing violence against Dalits in the country. First, his demand to have two more Dalit members as ministers was also ignored by Liaquat Ali Khan, then Prime minister of Pakistan. Second, he countered the proposed Objectives Resolution that defined Pakistan, an Islamic state, which disregarded the rights of ethnic and religious minorities. Later in October 1950, he resigned and went to Calcutta (now Kolkata) in independent India.

Mandal later tried to enter the Indian political sphere in 1967 but failed in his attempt as he was one of the founding members of Pakistan. He contested in the Barasat constituency in the year 1967 and was defeated. Jogendra Nath Mandal died on 5 October 1968 at the age of 64 years in Bangaon in the state of West Bengal, India.

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Al Jazeera Show on Dalit History Month – India’s ‘untouchables’ reclaim the past


In case you missed last night Al Jazeera Show on India’s untouchables reclaiming the past with Dalit History Month, here is the recording of the same. Please watch and share it with your friends.

Comments from the Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Caravan was also shown in the show. Here is the snapshot of the comment.

Comment on Al Jazeera Show

Comment on Al Jazeera Show

 

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22nd April in Dalit History – Death anniversary of Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia – Founder of Ad-Dharmi Movement


Mangoo Ram was born on January 14, 1886 , in village Mugowal, Hoshiarpur district, where this father,Harman Dass, had left the traditional Chamar caste occupation of training and preparing hides and attempting to sell tanned hides commercially. Mangoo Ram’s mother, Atri, died when Mangoo Ram was three, so the father began to depend heavily on his sons – Mangoo and an older and a younger brother for assistance. Because the leather trade required some facility in English, Mangoo Ram’s father was forced to rely on literate members of upper castes to read sales orders and other instructions to him. In payment for their reading instructions for an hour, he would have to do a day of crude labour. For that reason, Mangoo Ram’s father was eager to have his son receive an early education.

When Mangoo Ram was seven, he was taught by a village Sadhu (Saint) and soon after attended a variety of schools in the Mugowal area (Tehsil Mahilpur of district Hoshiarpur). He also attended school in a village near Dehra Dun , where his older brother has settled. In most of the schools, Mangoo Ram was the only Scheduled Caste student. He sat at the back of the class, or even in a separate room, and listed through the open door. When he attended high school in Bajwara, he was forced to stay outside the building and listen to the classes through the windows. Once when he came inside during a heaving hailstorm, the Braham teacher beat him and put all the classroom furniture, which he had “polluted” by his presence, outside in the rain to be literally and ritually washed clean. Nonetheless, Mangoo Ram was a good student: he placed third in his class in primary school. But whereas the other good students were encouraged to become patwaris (village record-keeper) or to seek higher education, Mango Ram was encouraged to leave school and help his father at a more proper “Chamar task”. In 1905, he did quit school; he married, and for three years helped his father develop their leather trade into a thriving business.

Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia

Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia

In 1909 America as in the air. Scores of upper caste farmers from Mangoo Ram’s area of Hoshiarpur had gone to the United States , and those who had not gone were talking about it. Mangoo Ram decided to go also. He persuaded his father that it would be good for the business – he would send money back from America – and his father responded by giving him some savings from the family business. Amid assurances from some of the local Zamindars (“landowners”) and two Chamar friends set off for the new world.2

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Dalit History Month – Inspirational Living Smile Vidya


Today in Dalit History we honor the inspirational Living Smile Vidya. An activist, actress and author, Living Smile Vidya has transformed trans politics in India through the fearlessness of her work in all of her creative mediums.

Born into an Arunthathiyar community, Living Smile Vidya writes poignantly of her journey to be recognized as a woman in her breakthrough biography “I am Vidya”, India’s first transgender autobiography. The book outlines her struggles with gender realization as a transwoman in her teenage years, her traumatic gender reassignment surgery, and her turbulent journey with her family. Originally written in Tamil it has now been translated into English, Malayalam, Kannada and Marathi and is taught in colleges throughout South India. In addition to the book, a critically-acclaimed Kannada film, “Naanu Avanalla, Avalu (I am not he, I am her)” adapted her story and has won mwon 2 National Awards and a Sahitya Acakemi Award.

Smile Vidya

Beyond her writing, Living Smile Vidya is also an accomplished actress. She was the first full-time trans theatre actress, and her acting to date includes 20 performances with 9 eminent theatre directors. She also made the leap from theater to film acting in short films and documentaries. Her performances have tackled the changing face of masculinity and the ongoing exploitation of Dalit women, while addressing humanity and peace in relation to gender and political space. For her substantial body of performance work, the British Council for excellence in Theatre awarded her the Charles Wallace India Trust scholarship in 2013.

The tcenter of her creativity though is her activism. Living Smile Vidya through her own painful experience, speaks out against the violence that occurs to her community when trans people are stigmatized and forced to beg or do sex work to survive. She fought that sentence; and was one of the first trans people to work in a professional setting as a banker. With this win, she continued to fight for the recognition of her community by being the first trans person to have her chosen gender identity reflected in her passport.

Living Smile Vidya continues to fight for trans affirmative action that reflects the intersectionality of their identities under caste patriarchy. She asserts that the unique trauma of growing up a trans creates an emotional, social and economic space that must be addressed on its own. This is a new frontier for her activism; as she was one of the five transgender people, who, last November, had approached the Madras High Court demanding a 3% reservation under a new category, mirroring those for people with disabilities. She asserts that affirmative action is vital to this journey: “When parents see a transgender child, they think of begging or sex work as their future. How will they accept their own children if these are their only options?”

To her leadership, courage, beauty, and a powerful truth, we salute Living Smile Vidya! Jai Bhim!

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 Dalit Women’s Declaration


Today, in Dalit History we explore the Dalit Women’s Declaration at the Hague. In March 2006, After international advocacy that began as early as 1996, over 200 gathered at the historic Hague Conference on Dalit Women’s Rights, which led to the drafting of the Hague Declaration on Human Rights and Dignity of Dalit Women.This gathering was led by Dalit women’s organizations and was a clarion call to action to the international community.

Dalit Women’s Declaration at the Hague

Dalit Women’s Declaration at the Hague

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Dalit women are one of the largest socially segregated groups in the world and make up more than 2% of the world’s population. In addition to their poverty is the grief of caste-based sexual violence, and the harrowing reality is that over 67% of Dalit women have faced some form of sexual violence.

This declaration was a watershed moment; for the conference brought Dalit Women leaders from Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka to give testimonies of violence and exclusion. More importantly, the delegates developed a key advocacy and strategic declaration aimed at being the blueprint for the next phase of the Dalit Women’s Movement.

This included a plan of action to incorporate Dalit women’s issues into several UN documents including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and treaties, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, as well as the convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

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

The Hague declaration also called on South Asian governments to fully support Dalit Women in their assertion, and to ensure Dalit women and girls were brought on par with the general population in terms of overall development within a period of 5 years. And beyond implementing the rule of law, to end the culture of impunity. Finally, the Declaration also called upon the international community to undertake and support this in possible measure.This blueprint compelling vision is still relevant today and is a snapshot of history into the rise of the international Dalit women’s movement.

Read the declaration and the report here.

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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When Dr. Ambedkar topped on Google Search and Twitter Trends


On 14th April, 2015 Dr. Ambedkar’s birthday was celebrated all over the world. Google dedicated doodle on Dr. Ambedkar its homepage and same was displayed in 7 countries across three continents – Argentina, Chile, India, Ireland, Peru, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Around the mid day, Dr. B R Ambedkar and #AmbedkarJayanti were on the 1st and 4th position with 500000+ and 20000+ searches on Google India search.  

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And by the end of the day, Dr. B R Ambedkar search on Google finished on 1st position with more than 1000000+ searches! 

Topped the google search

Almost same was observed on Twitter, where #AmbedkarJayanti and #AmbedkarLegacy both were getting many tweets. #AmbedkarJayanti was trending on Twitter India for 12+ hours. 

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Thanks to all those people who made all this possible. Keep on sharing and spreading the information and knowledge.

P.S. – Follow me on Twitter at @Silent_Steps

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