Tag Archives: dalits
There have been so many debates on Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan.But to which extent it is working? And what is the situation of the people who actually clean India? This episode follows the story of Kiran bhai, who is fighting for the rights of scavengers. He himself has worked as a sweeper and understands the pain and plight of the scavengers personally. Know more about him and the situation of the scavengers of the region in which Kiran bhai is working.
A tribute to the Great Revolutionary and True Inheritor of Dr Ambedkar’s Legacy: Bahujan Nayak Manyawar Kanshiram
” I will never get married,
I will never acquire any property,
I will never visit my home,
I will devote and dedicate the rest
of my life to achieve the goals
of Phule -Ambedkar movement”
These pledges remind the work of Manywar Kanshiram Sahib who is remembered in the history of India as a True leader of Bahujan Samaj. The journey of Kanshi Ram and his movement of socio-cultural revolution and economic emancipation of Bahujan Samaj started way back in 1964. Kanshi Ram, the eldest son of Mr. Hari Singh, resident of Khawaspur village of Punjab’s Roper district, was born on 15th March, 1934, in a Sikh family belonging to the Ramdasia Community. After qualifying the examination conducted by the Defense Science and Research Development Organization, he moved to Pune in Maharashtra and joined the Explosive Research and Development Laboratory at Kirkee, where he was exposed to the bad breath of Hindu social order i.e. atrocious caste system. In the ordinance factory, where Kanshi Ram was working, the management cancelled the holidays of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Jayanti and Buddha Jayanti and instead granted Tilak Jayanti holiday and an additional holiday during Diwali festival. As a reaction to this, not the Ambedkarites from Maharashtra but a Scheduled Caste Mr. Dina Bhana, from Rajasthan, protested against the cancellation of these two holidays. Dina Bhana’s protest resulted in his suspension. By this atrocious act, agitated Kanshi Ram fought the legal battle for Dina Bhana.
As a result, not only was Dina Bhana reinstated but the holidays were also restored. The unjust and casteist act on the part of management resulted in a new awakening in Kanshi Ram, as he did not properly realize the casteist divisions in his youth in Punjab. Thereafter Kanshi Ram studied the literature of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, the biggest destroyer of Brahmanism after Buddha, Jotiba Phule and Periyar. Dr. Ambedkar’s Monumental work, “Annihilation of Castes” influenced Kanshi Ram tremendously. In one night he read the book three times which created not only an impact on Kanshi Ram, but shaped his thinking and future course of actions. Beside Dr. Ambedkar’s writings, Mr. Kanshi Ram found the path of further movement in Dr. Ambedkar’s plan for political action. On 24th September 1944, at Madras, with an absolute clarity Dr. Babasaheb declared the political goal of his struggle. Addressing the large followers he said, “Understand our ultimate goal. Our ultimate goal is to become the rulers of this country. Write this goal on the walls of your houses so that you will not forget. Our struggle is not for the few jobs and concessions but we have a larger goal to achieve. That goal is to become the rulers of the land.” Accordingly the agenda of political power was pursued constantly by Dr. Babasaheb in his further programmes. On 4thOctober, 1945, in the Working Committee meeting of All India Scheduled Castes Federation again he elaborately stressed on the political power and said, “Politics should be the life-blood of the Scheduled Castes.” Since politics of Congress party, the mouthpiece of the dominant castes was detrimental to the very existence and interests of backward class people, Babasaheb tried to form a broad – base movement of all the victims of Brahmanism.
What does Jai Bhim mean to you? Let us know in the comments!
This episode tells the story of Shantuben from Hajipar village. Shantuben’s family is the only Dalit family in entire village. Shantuben’s struggle and fight against the system expose the caste based discrimination in Indian administration system.
Today in Dalit History we celebrate the strength and resilience of a Dalit woman, Radhika Vemula. Born of Dalit parents, she was adopted by a Shudra couple when she was still a baby. Throughout her life, she experienced several confusing realities; as an adopted child in a non-Dalit home, as a spouse in a turbulent and inter-caste relationship and in her struggle to raise her three children with little support.
She managed the economics of her household with tailoring, embroidery, construction and domestic work. There were dire times for the family when it was difficult to pull together three square meals a day. Radhika and the children all worked wage labour jobs on the side but she still encouraged them to come back after their work and read too. She was a mother determined to educate her children and sent all of them to college.
Being bright children, they were all admitted into good schools. When both her sons were in college, she made the decision to further her own education. She began a Bachelors of Arts degree through a distance-learning programme offered by Sri Venkateshwara University. So while her children were students furthering themselves, she was too!
The family was proud of their exremely intelligent older son Rohith Vemula on his admission into University of Hyderabad (uoH). They also finally experienced some financial breathing room when Rohith began receiving a monthly scholarship at his PhD programme. Radhika and the family were deeply shocked when they discovered that UoH, in association with right-wing Hindu political forces, had institutionally murdered their son and brother.
In the hard days that followed, Radhika’s deep sense of grief has been seen to be matched only by her incredible resilience and commitment to obtaining justice for her son. Rohith’s death, had thrown her right in the eye of a storm. She has been protesting outside in the same location at UoH that Rohith had when he had been unfairly expelled by the administration. She has unflinchingly experienced police brutality along with the other student protestors. She bravely calls out Minister Smriti Irani as one of her son’s murderers and refused Prime Minister Narendra Modis’s fabricated sympathy. She stands tall, leading her other two children and all the other students fighting for justice at UoH. In a towering act of revolution, on the significant occassion of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary, she renounced Hinduism and embraced Buddhism. She affirms that she did so in order to honour the memory of her son and to escape the root of their oppression.
In the face of the agonizing loss of her son, the defamation of their family, the breaches of her privacy, the continuous harassment she faces – there is one thing that is clear. Radhika Vemula is never a victim. She is a warrior obliterating every injustice on her path. We mourn with her and we honour the fierceness of a Dalit mother. Power to her struggle. Jaibhim!
On 29th November 2015, three young queer Dalits changed the face the Delhi queer pride. Dhrubo Jyoti, a journalist, Akhil Khang, a lawyer and Dhiren Borisa, a doctoral student, held up beautiful signs that they had painted. The signs summarized in three powerful words, ” Dalit, Queer, Proud”. In one extraordinary moment, both their Dalit and the Queer identities were visibilized and celebrated. Their assertion also dealt a blow to upper caste hegemony over Queer spaces like the Delhi Pride.
In reality, poor and especially trans and genderqueer Dalitbahujan contributions surpass upper caste efforts at queer liberation. They are the ones who create queer communities, protest enmasse and bear the brunt of the beatings, torture, rape and murders by society and the state. The criminalizing of the lives of queer folks through oppressive acts like the Section 377 (colonial anti-homosexuality law) also disproportionately affects poor, queer Dalitbahujan individuals, who cannot afford the price of privacy or rely on sex work for a living.
The prides in major cities however, had become reflective of upper caste queer activism whose proponents have strived to create “caste-less” spaces to dissociate queerness from caste. In Dhrubo’s pride speech, he states his reply to an upper caste individual asking him why Dalits felt the need to “bring caste into everything”. Dhrubo replies ” We bring caste up because caste is everywhere and in my everything, Caste is in my shirt, Caste is in my pant, Caste is in my sex, Caste is in my being and Caste is in every part of you too!” Together, their compelling Pride statement affirmed that the invisibilization of caste, erased Dalitbahujan struggles, history and identity
Their statement was not met without hostility. The majority of dominant castes accused them of derailing conversations of queerness with caste, but they made clear their position was one that was not posing to ease upper caste fragility but one that would help nurture inclusion.
They continue to engage by being conscious of their own privileges, by being a part of the interrogation of power structures and by opposing the prevailing silence around caste and queerness that shames Dalit queer folk into silence.
Today in Dalit History, we honor the energy of these three resolute young individuals and celebrate both their queerness and their Dalitness as they continue to enlighten us and make us proud!