Tag Archives: Dalits of Europe

9th January in Dalit History – Dr. Ambedkar at the fourth sitting of Round Table Conference in London


9 January 1930: Leadership cannot be imposed, it must be accepted by those on whose behalf it is claimed – Dr. Ambedkar

Janta newspaper reported the following: ‘The greatest presumption on Gandhi’s part at the Round Table Conference was that he claimed that he represented the depressed classes and not Dr. Ambedkar…. Leadership cannot be imposed, it must be accepted by those on whose behalf it is claimed.’

9 January 1931: Dr. Ambedkar at the fourth sitting of Round Table Conference in London, recommended transfer of police powers from minister to the Governor in times of imposition of emergency[1]  

Dr. Ambedkar at the Round Table Conference

Dr. Ambedkar at the Round Table Conference

This was the fourth sitting of Round Table Conference in London on the sub-committee No VII where the Police Act was being deliberated.

Mr. Zafrullah Khan : If I may add just this. Perhaps the members of this Committee are not all aware that both the Federal Structure Sub-Committee and the Joint Sub-Committee set up by Sub-Committees Nos. I and II have suggested quite a large number of enactments on comparatively unimportant subjects to be placed in that list under Section 80(3)(h)„ and if we put the Police Act under that it will not contravene any principles whatever.

Dr. Ambedkar: I am in general agreement with Mr. Zafrullah Khan. The reason why the Police Act is not placed in the Schedule today is that the subject is a reserved subject, therefore as a matter of fact the Government of India has a complete control over the Department of Law and Order; and when the Department of Law and Order comes to be transferred the position will be altogether different. I think it will be necessary to consider whether we should not at least for the transitional period, consider the necessity of certain safeguards at least for keeping such as they exist at the present time.  I personally am in favour of the suggestion that is Police Act should be included in the Schedule which requires today the previous sanction of the Governor-General or the Government of India. There is another point to which I should like to draw your attention with respect to the question of the Police and the Department  of Law and Order, a point which I raised also in the Provincial Constitution Sub-Committee. This question has been considered, of course, from the standpoint of the responsibility of the future Provincial (State) Governments.  It seems to me that this question has also to be considered from the standpoint of the different minorities in the Provinces and the emergency occasions which may arise on occasions of communal trouble and such other emergencies.  It seems to me that it is indeed a great safeguard for the minorities in the different Provinces to know which officer belonging to what community is going to administer law and order in that particular locality when a communal riot has taken place.  We are all aware that all Police Officers are accused of partiality and of showing favour to one community or the other.  There may not be sufficient justification for that accusation; but there maybe cases when there may be abundant justification for the partiality of the officers operating law and order in those particular localities. It seems to me that it is very necessary in the interests of the protection of the minorities that the transfer and posting of Police Officers should not be, at least in times of emergency, in the hands of Ministers. It may be that a Minister who may have a communal majority in the Province may on any particular occasion shift a Police Officer who may not favour the particular community to which he belongs.

Mr. Zafarullah Khan : Ordinarily the Inspector-General does it.

Dr. Ambedkar : I know that in the Bombay Presidency a great row was created on account of the transfer of Police Officers. I do not know whether it was done under the Inspectorof Police or by the Officer in charge; but I think that is a great safeguard which it is necessary to provide for in the future Constitution of India.  My specific proposal is this, that in cases of emergency, as a riot or communal trouble takes place, the Governor should have over-riding powers over the Minister in different localities with regard to the Police.

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6th January in Dalit History – Reservation for all Dalits & Dr. Amedkar’s dream of university unfulfilled


6 January 1929: First All Assam Depressed Classes Conference

The conference was presided by Senapati Sonadhar Das. The conference raised the demand for separate electorate for the Depressed Classes[1]. Due to conspicuous presence of tribal population there was no severe form of untouchablity in Assam. Therefore, the dalit movement was not so strong. The movement in that state was more under the influence of Congress party than that of the Scheduled Castes Federation.[2]

 

6 January 1939: Dr. Ambedkar addressed a big meeting of agriculturists at Mahad (Raigad district of Maharashtra) where he impressed upon the audience that the Congress Ministry had failed to mitigate their woes[3].

He said that the Premier Kher (Pirme Minister of Bombay) was simply a figure head; and he described the other Ministers of the Provincial Government as dogs at the door of Sardar Patel. Referring to the boastful statement of Sardar Patel, which he had made at a reception given to Kher in Gujarat, to the effect that they welcomed Kher as a devotee of Gandhi and not as Premier Kher, otherwise thet would have sent him back unceremoniously, Dr. Ambedkar said that he would wreak vengeance on Patel for this dire insult inflicted upon a Maharashtrian. If Patel dared insult him in this manner, he added, he would thrash him. This was no a soliloquy; this was a public speech! It was a natural outburst of anger sprung from a strong mind which was consitenet with its contempt for the Congress leaders’ rude mentality, and determinied to show its superiority.

The above outburst is also a sequale to the immediate past incidents. In September 1938, the Industrial Disputes Bill was taken up by the Bombay Legislative Assembly. Dr. Ambedkar and Jamnadas Mehta opposed the Bill tooth and nail. Ambedkar described Bill as bad, bloody and bloodthirsty inasmuch as it made a strike under certain circumstances illegal and affected the right of the labourer to strike. Ambedkar stated that according to him strike was a civil wrong and not a crime, and making a man serve against his will was nothing less than making him a slave. He continued that the Bill ought to have been called ‘the Worker’ “Civil Liberties Suspension Act”. Ambedkar then teased the Government by saying that it was a Government, which claimed to be elected on labour votes; but it did not stand by its election pledges. It was a democracy, he added, that was enslaving the working class, and therefore it was a mockery of democracy. But the Congress Ministry was determined to pass the Bill, which they ultimately did despite massive rally at Kamgar Maidan (on 6 & 7 November) and strike (on 7 November) were organized by Independent Labour Party. Also on 25 December, Swami Sahajanand, the Peasant leader from Uttar Pradesh, saw Dr. Ambedkar at his residence in Bombay and had a talk with him about the labour problem in Bombay and the agrarian reforms in general. He tried to persuade Ambedkar to join the Congress to form a united front against imperialism.

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6 January 1940: Periyar met Dr. Ambedkar in Mumbai[4]

By 10.00 a.m, Periyar arrived at Dadar station with his colleagues (Justice T. A. V. Nathan, P. Balasubramaniam – Editor of Sunday observer, the mouth piece of Justice Party, C. A. Annadurai, the General Secretary of Justice Party, T. P. S. Ponnappan and C. Panjatcharam). He was given a reception and taken by a decorated coach fitted with two white horses! Evening, he met Dr. Ambedkar and latter took the former to his residence. Both discussed on various social and political issues from 9.00 to 10.30 p.m.

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Prima Primissima Award nomination for Derdak Tibor (Jai Bhim Network, Hungary), please Vote and Support


UntitledI am pleased to share with all of you the great news that Derdak Tibor, Director of Jai Bhim Network, has been nominated for Prima Primissima Award under Public Education and Education category. Prima Primissima Award is prestigious award in Hungary and it is a great moment for all of us who believe in the ideology of BabaSaheb Ambedkar and especially for those who have wholehearted supported Jai Bhim Network, Hungary and its activities all these years. It shows how dedicated Jai Bhim Network team in Hungary is for the cause of social equality.

The voting for the award is open and you can vote by sending a simple text message (sms) from your mobile.

Here is how to vote –

Type on your mobile – 13

And send it to +36707077000

Simple! Sms won’t charge you much. One can send/vote sms as many times as one wants but one sms per hour only, i.e. if you want to send again please send it after one hour only. Voting is open till December 4th , 2014, so please vote as many times as you can.

It is a great opportunity for all of us to support and encourage the people behind Jai Bhim Network, Hungary so that they keep on spreading the ideology of BabaSaheb. Award money will go to Dr. Ambedkar school’s activities and recognition will help Jai Bhim Network to spread the message of BabaSaheb. Dr. Ambedkar High schools are Hungary’s largest educational institutions for Roma children. We can’t afford to turn our backs on such a successful initiative – to educated and give ‘Dalits of Europe’ a sense of pride. It is our duty to support and encourage Jai Bhim Network team so please vote and spread this message to your friends and groups.

Those who don’t know about Jai Bhim Network, here is brief about Jai Bhim Network and its activities –

Jai Bhim Network is group of people working in Hungary on the ideas of BabaSaheb Ambedkar and Lord Buddha. Since 2007, Jai Bhim Network has expanded its roots deep into the Hungarian society via opening many new Dr. Ambedkar High schools and Jai Bhim Network has purchased a new house (named White House) to teach Roma students and carry out various social functions. With the help The Corporate Body of the Buddha Education Foundation, Taipei (Taiwan) Jai Bhim Network has published a Buddhist Puja book – Telihold. Every year they celebrate BabaSaheb’s Birth anniversary and Dhamma Chakka Parivartan Din. Dr. Ambedkar High School is a kind of second chance schools, which offer the opportunity of obtaining an education in the poorest villages in Hungary, torn communities of living, especially for young Roma. With the help of Jai Bhim Network Romas are able to stand against the daily whips of village life and Network has given millions hopes to these unprivileged Romas through education and social integration program, all such measures were ignored by governments and many others. Jai Bhim Network is working and drawing inspiration from many other Buddhist religious bodies from different countries and especially Dalits of India.

In my recent visit (September, 2014) to Dr. Ambedkar High School, Sajokaza, I found that they have now amazing Buddhist Meditation Centre!

More about Jai Bhim Network, you can find at http://www.ambedkar.eu/ or http://www.jaibhim.hu/ or from my article in The Hindu newspaper at http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/article662028.ece

More information about the Prima Primissima Award at

http://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prima_Primissima_d%C3%ADj (the link is in Hungarian but you can use google translator to convert it to English)

Please vote and spread the message.

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Please visit www.refuge.hu and support Jai Bhim Network, Hungary


Few days’ back, as I wrote on the Jai Bhim Network (Hungary) and new church law prohibiting Jai Bhim Network from its activities. Jai Bhim Network has launched new website http://www.refuge.hu/ to appeal Buddhists, well-wishers and guards of freedom around the world to support Jai Bhim Network, Hungary.

Please visit the link http://www.refuge.hu/ and support Jai Bhim Network.

Dr Ambedkar in Hungary – Activities of Jai Bhim Network, Hungary

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Church Law and the Future of Jai Bhim Network in Hungary


It’s almost been two years to my visit (23rd Sept to 20th Oct 2009) to the Sajókaza (Hungary) and since then I’ve been in constant contact with my friends – Anikó Szegedi, Derdák Tibor, Kalanyos Laszlo and Katlin Bodori – from Hungary. This article is in continuation to my previous articles – Babasaheb Ambedkar and ‘the Dalits of Europe’, Reclaiming Human Dignity: The Protest and Gypsy Stereotypes, Celebrating Dhamma Chakka Parivartan Diwas in Hungary, and Ambedkar in Hungary – which I wrote while staying at Sajókaza.

Few Updates from the Jai Bhim Network, Hungary

Since 2009, Jai Bhim Network has expanded its roots deep into the Hungarian society via opening new schools at Alsózsolca (about 60 students), Mágocs and Sáta (elementary school about 20km from Sajókaza) and Jai Bhim Network has purchased a new house (named White House) to teach Roma students and carry out various social functions. With the help of Bharat Wankhede (the guy who accompanied me on the visit) and The Corporate Body of the Buddha Education Foundation, Taipei (Taiwan) Jai Bhim Network has published a Buddhist Puja book – Telihold. Kubu (the guy I mentioned few times in my earlier articles) will graduate in Physics in few years. Benu (the guy whose speech on Roma rights at Heroes Square (Budapest) was simply amazing.) has joined job at Budapest and he is continuing his activities with Jai Bhim Network from Budapest. Katlin Bodori left for completing her master’s degree. Many new teachers are hired and few completed their tenure successfully – enriching Roma students’ lives and their own lives with wonderful experiences.

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Encountering Ambedkar In Hungary


The Romas, a discriminated minority in Hungary, turn to Ambedkar and Buddhism in their quest for dignity and equality. Pardeep Attri journeys to Sajókaza and Budapest to find out how the Dalits and Romas connect.

Lost rights are never regained by appeals to the conscience of the usurpers, but by relentless struggle.
— Dr B. R. Ambedkar

On 14 April 2008, when Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s birthday was being commemorated across India, I got an email from an unknown person – Derdák Tibor from Hungary – appreciating my article, “Schools, Toilets or Temples?”which he had read on an e-group. My article had lamented that “at every street corner we have built temples, but not toilets or schools.” Tibor said he was a sociologist, and a former member of the Hungarian Parliament now working for the Roma community (derogatorily referred to as Gypsies across Europe). This was the beginning of endless emails we exchanged. While I gradually learnt about the lives of and the problems faced by the Roma community in Hungary, I explained to him the conditions of Dalits in India.

Also ReadDr. Ambedkar in America and Dr. Ambedkar in Germany 

What intrigued me was Derdák Tibor said that he and another Roma leader, Orsós János, had been inspired by the philosophy of social transformation of Dr Ambedkar and his work among the Dalits, and that they were now trying to deploy Ambedkarite ideas in their struggle for equal rights for the Roma community. How and why Ambedkar? Tibor had chanced upon a book on Babasaheb in Paris and a new world opened up. He immediately could see the similarities between the discrimination faced by Dalits in India and Romas in Europe.

A fight against injustice: Romas protesting at Heroes Square in Budapest.

A fight against injustice: Romas protesting at Heroes Square in Budapest.

Romas/‘Gypsies’ are normally considered to be “members of nomadic people of Europe with dark skin” with a worldwide population of about 12 million, originally from North India. With their 8 million population in Europe, they constitute one of the biggest minority blocks in European countries and have a history of being constantly opposed, refused, discriminated, persecuted and stigmatized by white Europeans. Constituting about 7 per cent of the total population, they are Hungary’s biggest minority group.

After discovering Ambedkar, Tibor and other Roma activists interacted with Friends of World Buddhist Order (FWBO), a group that has been working with Ambedkarite Buddhists in India for years now. This resulted in a visit to Maharashtra by Tibor and János in 2005 and 2007. They felt a deep connection with the Dalits of India and with Dr Ambedkar’s emancipatory agenda. After returning to Hungary, they made sustained efforts to bond with the Dalit movement. In 2007, they founded the Jai Bhim Network, embraced Buddhism and opened three high schools named after Dr Ambedkar in Sajókaza, Ózd and Hegymeg for Roma children in Hungary.

The Jai Bhim Network believes that “even a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” One of the activities of the Network is to invite young Dalit activists to Hungary and provide them with opportunities to interact with the Roma community. Recently, I was part of one such three-member delegation and lived with the Roma community in the village Sajókaza for almost a month.

Life in Sajókaza

On 24 September 2009, I reached Budapest and we were quite nervous, as this was our first ever visit abroad. Szabolcs Vicze from Jai Bhim Netwrok received us at the airport and in no time, we felt completely at ease and started interacting as if we had known each other for years. We bonded instantly though we lived thousands of miles apart.

One the same night, we reached village Sajókaza, where the Jai Bhim Network carries out most of its activities such as educating the Romas and bringing them into the mainstream. Sajókaza is a beautiful village about 30 km northeast of Miskolc. The big fields around the village reminded me of the villages of Punjab. It has a population of about 3,300 people, half of them Romas. The majority of the Romas live on the outskirts of the village in ghettos, forced into a lifestyle entirely different from the other Hungarians of the village. In their neighbourhood, there is no tap water, no street lighting and no sewage disposal. A few meters away, in the adjoining non-Roma streets, all these basic amenities are provided.

There was a time when all the Romas of the village were employed in the nearby mines but now almost all of them are unemployed and live on a monthly dole from the government. During our stay, it became evident that the Romas suffer as much everyday discrimination as Dalits do. There are three churches in Sajókaza, but not even a single Roma visits them. It immediately reminded me of the Hindu temples in India where our entry, though guaranteed in law, is prohibited in practice.

The foremost hurdle in the education of Romas in Hungary is the segregation of Roma children, who are forced to sit in separate classes. They attend different schools/classes in dilapidated buildings without basic amenities, whereas Hungarian children attend regular, fully equipped schools. Tibor says there were separate cups and plates for Roma students till ten years ago. Roma children grow up constantly dehumanized, humiliated, persecuted and rejected. Roma children are declared ‘mentally challenged’ and are sent to special schools; so much that about 90 per cent of special school students in Hungary are said to be from this community. Segregation is not limited to schools. In 2003, the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) conducted field research in Hungary and documented 44 cases of so-called “Gypsy rooms”—segregated maternity wards.

Persistent stereotypes

Stereotypes are potent tools of hatred. And the Romas suffer form the worst kind of stereotyping by the whites. The ‘Gypsies’, for the average white European, are necessarily cheaters, beggars, thieves, pickpockets, nomads, people who live in dirty conditions and don’t like to work. It is believed by non-Romas that the Romas cut their forefingers so that they could easily pick pockets. It is also believed that ‘Roma’ children wear long clothes so that they could hide the chickens they steal from white farmers’ homes. These prejudices are thriving today.

Most websites that promote tourism in Europe today offer gratuitous advice to be wary of ‘Gypsies’. One site, under the heading ‘Personal security in Rome’, says: “Gypsy children could surround you, and shamelessly start robbing your belongings, taking advantage of your surprise. They would then pass the belongings to older gypsy women…” Here’s Leif Pettersen, who describes himself as a Lonely Planet author: “Pickpockets are to certain parts of Romania like a wino is to a Bartles and James tanker accident. Unfortunately, more often than not, the offenders are gypsies. Many locals in Romania and Moldova will tell you that gypsies are all beggars and criminals.”

The image of ‘Romas’ being thieves is so strong that they are the first to be rounded up by the police if there is a crime in the neighborhood. Most often they become easy victims of police inefficiency and are brutalized just for being Roma. Despite the odds – with only 0.3% of Romas holding a college or university degree – many Romas have excelled, such as the painter Mara Oláh; the second Roma member of European Union, Lívia Járóka; author Menyhért Lakatos; and the 1972 Olympic boxing champion Gyorgy Gedo.

One of the most horrific stories I heard white Hungarians cook up was about pregnant ‘Gypsy’ women. A 3 September 2009 report from the website, http://www.hungarianambiance.com, claims “Gypsy families induce oxygen deficiency in their newborns to make them mentally retarded; this is to get more child support payments.” In September, Oszkar Molnar, the Mayor of Edeleny in Northeast Hungary, accused Roma women in his town of intentionally harming their unborn babies in order to secure extra child benefits. The Equal Opportunity Authority issued sanctions against Oszkar Molnar, a representative of main opposition party Fidesz, but he has vowed to launch a legal appeal against the Authority.

On 11 October 2009, about 1,500 Romas gathered at Heroes Square in Budapest to protest Mayor Molnar’s views, and to demonstrate against segregation in schools and discrimination in everyday life. One slogan caught my attention: “A child’s head is not a pot that has to be filled, but a torch that needs to be ignited.” Says Orsós János, president of Jai Bhim Network, “There are many people who are deeply critical of us, even hate us. After our turn to Ambedkarite Buddhism, people ask, ‘Are these gypsies real Buddhists? How can you teach Buddhism to gypsies?’ What we are doing is quite strange in Europe, where Buddhism is largely the leisure hobby of the middle classes. But it is easy to answer them: they don’t offer effective secondary education for Gypsies, and we do! Whatever people say, we just carry on with our work.”

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