Tag Archives: dalits

Dalit History Month – Reverend Dr. Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar

Today in Dalit History, we honor the Reverend Dr Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar, a Dalit spiritual leader whose struggle and contributions have revolutionized the Church’s approach to religion, gender, caste and sexuality.

Dr. Evangeline grew up in a family of 8 children raised single-handedly by her father following the early demise of her mother. Her father was a key influence in her life, planting the seeds of Dalit consciousness and Dalit spirituality in her young mind. He encouraged her to dream big and transcend the boundaries drawn by caste and gender.

Walking the path of his lessons, young Evangeline, at 21, found herself the only girl in her divinity class. On the day of her interview, she was asked, “Why did you choose theological education as your option, when you know that the Church does not ordain women to be priests?” Evangeline’s answer challenged this logic of impossibility: “Perhaps, I will come back to teach in this College!”. And she did. Evangeline came back to teach in the same college where she gained that critical perspective.

In 2006, when the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India made an amendment to let women into their ministry, Evangeline became the first woman to hold office as the Vice President. Evangeline recalls the different painful glass ceilings that had to be shattered during that climb in life. She was told, “Evangeline, you may have secured the prestigious award for being the outstanding student of your theology class, but what will we, the male pastors do, if women opt for ministry and take away our jobs in the church? Women have enough work to do at home!”

In her attempts to revolutionize the church’s relationship to gender, she asserts that the acceptance of body and sexuality is key to faith in God. Her fiery sermons ask why it is so difficult to find acceptance for effeminacy. She asks that we break free from the understanding of women’s bodies as polluting, leaking, bleeding and sexual. She says that the image of God as cis, male, and one who condones racism, sexism, classism, casteism and ethnocentrism has damaged not only the oppressed peoples’ self-esteem but has seriously curbed our communities’ larger possibility for liberation. Her ideas have stood tall and have shook the status quo of both church and caste patriarchal society.

Today the Reverend Dr. Evangeline continues to be a theological juggernaut. She teaches at the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, South Carolina and focuses on building a network of struggle and resistance between Dalits and other people of color.

Reverend Dr Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar


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Dalit History Month – Remembering the genocide of Dalits at Marichjhapi in West Bengal

Today in Dalit History, we defiantly tell the genocide of Dalits at Marichjhapi in West Bengal. The events involved The Namashudras, Who at that time were a politically powerful Dalit community. It was Because of the Namashudras, under the leadership of Jogendranath Mandal, that ensured the election of Dr.Ambedkar from the Bengal province to the Constituent Assembly. Their firm allyship with the Muslims formed a vote-bloc that deeply threatened the Hindu upper-caste opposition in Bengal.

After partition their Power was threatened for their Ancestral home was in East Bengal and in the newly formed Pakistan many were pressured to Leave. In the face of increasing religious violence Many sold everything they had to escape into West Bengal. However Once in India, the State of West Bengal controlled by Upper caste Communists shuttled the Namashudras into deplorable state work camps.The Namashudras protested, organized and 30,000 of these refugees reached a compromise resettlement area in Marichjhapi in the Sundarbans, a marshy mangrove forest. Over the course of a couple of months they finally restablished a viable beginning to a thriving community.

This was when the real violence began. The Communist and Upper caste State forces of Bengal, under the guise of protecting the local tiger population, sent in forces who began encircling the island, tear-gassing villages, burning down huts, sinking boats, and destroying fisheries, wells and farms. Scholars Estimate Thousands were Murdered, Tortured, and RapeD and yet there are no records because of the complete blackout of Media Coverage. Survivors However, report the indiscriminate dumping of Masses of dead bodies in tiger territories to be eaten and into the rivers until the smells were unbearable and the entire ecosystem was destroyed.

The press, upper-caste Bengali academics, and the communist governments of Bengal continue to shroud the massacres at Marichjhapi in darkness. The Government Officials involved have never been reported to the international courts. police and state perpetrators have been retained and promoted. But the survivors Will not be silenced. They assert the killings amount to nothing less than genocide of the Namashudra community. Today we remember their sacrifice and stand with the NamaShudra community in their demands for justice.

आज दलित इतिहास माह के दिन हम डट के कहानी कहते हैं पश्चिम बंगाल के मरीछझापी जिले में हुए दलितों के नरसंहार की। घटनाकर्म में वह नमशूद्र समाज जुड़ा हुआ है जो उस समय एक शक्तिशाली दलित समाज था. इस समाज ने ही जोगेंद्रनाथ मंडल के नेतृत्व में डॉ आंबेडकर को बंगाल राज्य से चुनाव जिताया.

बटवारे के बाद उनकी ताक़त खतरे में पद गयी क्योंकि उनका मूल पूर्व बंगाल में जो अब पाकिस्तान का हिस्सा बन चूका था और उन पर देश छोड़ने के लिए दबाव डाल रहा था. धार्मिक हिंसा के चलते बहुत सारो ने अपना सब कुछ बेचकर पश्चिम बंगाल की ओर अपने कदम बढाए। लेकिन भारत में पहुँचने के बाद उच्छ जाती के वामपंथियों ने इन् लोगो को बेहद दर्दनाक कैंपो में काम करने के लिए जमा दिया. दो-तीन महीनों में इस समाज ने फिर से अपना जीवन स्थायी कर लिया.

यही समय था जब असली हिंसा उभर कर आई. शेर बचाने के बहाने, बंगाल के उच्छ जातीय वामपंथी शक्तियों ने इस समाज का घेराव सिपाहियों से किया. तथा उन्होंने गाँवों में अश्रु-गैस फेंका, बस्तियों को जलाया, नाव डुबो दिए, मच्छी व्यापार को नष्ट किया। वविद्वानों का कहना है की हज़ारों की मृत्यु , बहुत लोगो का शारीरिक उत्पीड़न और बलात्कार हुआ. फिर भी इस घटना का कहीं भी कोई नाम-ओ-निशाँ नहीं तथा मीडिया में इस विषय को पूरी तरह दबा दिया गया है. जो लोग बच गए कहते हैं की बहुत सारे शव जंगल में शेर के भोजन के लिए छोड़ दिए गए, और कुछ शव नदी में फेंके गए. इस सब से जो बधबू उमड़ उठा वह बर्दाश्त से बाहर था और पूरे वातावरण को नष्ट कर चूका था.

पत्रकार, उच्छ जाती के बंगाली विद्वान, और बंगाल के वामपंथी सरकार आज भी इस घटना पर पर्दा दाल रहे हैं. सरकारी कर्मचारी जो इस नरसंहार में जुड़े हुए थे कभी अंतर्राष्ट्रीय अदालत में पेश नहीं किये गए. पुलिस और सरकारी अपराधी सरकार से जुड़े रहे और प्रोन्नति करते गए. लेकिन जो जीवित रहे वह चुप बैठने वाले नहीं हैं. वह इस बात का दावा करते हैं की इस मात्रा के हत्या को नरसंहार ही समझना चाहिए. आज हम इस नमशूद्र समाज के बलिदान को नमन करते हैं और उनके न्याय के इस लड़ाई में उनके साथ खड़े रहने का संकल्प लेते हैं. जय भीम!

Dalit History Month - Remembering the genocide of Dalits at Marichjhapi in West Bengal

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Dalit History Month – Remembering Advocate Eknath Awad

Today in Dalit History we remember Advocate Eknath Awad, who is also known as “Jija” fondly, (meaning “the respected”). he was born in Maharashtra on 19th January 1956 in a Potraj (Mang) family. Potraj is an oppressive profession assigned to some Dalit castes. They grow long dreadlocks, smear vermillion on their forehead, wear a multi-coloured cloth around the waist and a whip in hand, whip themselves as they dance.

Eknath’s difficult childhood was steeped in these humiliations of caste, untouchability and poverty. However, Awad was a bright young man, he finished his schooling in village schools and went on to attain his Bachelors of Arts (BA), graduated with a Masters of Arts (MA), Masters in Social Work (MSW) and later LLB.

During his time in college, he was exposed to Phule-Ambedkarite ideology. He became an active member of the Dalit Panthers. As a politically empowered Dalit man, he was at the forefront of Namantar (renaming) struggle of Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University that unleashed violence against Dalits of Marathwada affecting more than 25,000 people in Marathwada.

His time in this struggle exposed him to the understanding of oppressive structures holding caste-marginalized people hostage. He realized that dalits lived as bonded laborers and as slaves in the fields of dominant castes generation after generation. If they asserted for their rights, upper caste landlords countered with gruesome atrocities. Awad realized that tackling just the issues of human rights was inadequate, these issues had to be complemented with economic and social overhaul. With these things in mind, he established Rural Development Centre (RDC) in 1985 with the vision that reform could be effective only if it was supported by peoples’ movements. In 1990, Manvi Hakka Abhiyan or Campaign for Human Rights (CHR) was born inspired from the struggles of Ambedkar, Phule, Annabhau Sathe, Shahu Maharaj, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. This movement worked to legalize barren land in villages under as property of Dalits. More than 24,607 Dalit families submitted grazing land ownership claims from 1100 villages. Awad’s struggle managed to free more than 70,000 hectares of land.

He had a broad vision for Bahujan well-being and worked on not only Dalit rights but the issues of child rights, education, gender justice, conservation and sustainable agriculture in drought-inflicted Marathwada. He advocated for peoples’ to be free of the shackles of caste, patriarchy and superstition. between 1995 and 2012, he started the satyashodhak (truthseekers), debrahminised congregational marriages. in an act of liberation, Along with his thousands of followers in 2006, he also converted to Buddhism in Nagpur.

We honour his work and legacy that are celebrated in Maharashtra and nationwide.

Credit – Nilesh Kumar First published in Round Table India

Advocate Eknath Awad

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The Pasmanda Movement – Bihar and Beyond

Today in Dalit History we bring to forefront a contemporary anti-caste struggle of Dalitbahujan Muslims in India –the Pasmanda Movement. “Pasmanda” is a Persian term meaning “oppressed” in and encompasses those who make up more than 80% of the total Muslim population in India – Dalit and backward castes Muslims.

The Pasmanda ideology first took shape as a social movement in the 1990s in the state of Bihar. It challenged the authenticity of a monolithic Muslim identity in India by underscoring the existence of three Muslim caste-groups; Ashraf (upper castes), Ajlaf (middle castes) and Arzal (lower castes).

It asserted that although Islam does not recognize hierarchy based on birth, in practice, caste has persisted within these communities for centuries. The realities of the low caste Muslims like Julahas (weavers) and Lalbegi (scavengers), existence of caste-based endogamy and the Ashraf domination in Muslim religious forums and leadership were beginning to be seen as unacceptable. Pasmandas demanded the political space, discourse and power that had been historically denied to them.

With the formation of two key organizations; the All-India United Muslim Morcha in 1993 and then the All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz in 1998, the Pasmanda movement was ready to break Ashraf hegemony. The main goal of these organizations was the constitutional recognition of affirmative action for Pasmanda communities .

Under the Government of India Act of 1935, a list or schedule was drawn up of castes that were recognized as extremely backward. These castes had both Hindu as well as Muslim members and provisions were made for their collective socioeconomic upliftment. However, in 1950 a presidential order was passed according to which these special benefits would be available only to those Scheduled Castes who professed to be Hindu. With one stroke of the pen, non-Hindu Scheduled Castes were henceforth denied the benefits that the 1935 Government of India act had provided for them.

The work done by the Pasmanda movement has quickly spread from Bihar and has so far convinced the assemblies of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh have all passed resolution supporting the demand for inclusion of Christian and Muslim Dalits among Scheduled Castes.

Although anti-caste struggles are not new to the Muslim communities in India, the Pasmanda movement is working with a rapidly shifting political landscape. Its has expanded its resolutions from affirmative action advocacy to forming socio-political alliances with other Bahujan communities as well as extending support to labor and strengthening the policy framework for Pasmanda women.

The Pasmanda Movement

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Challenges faced by Dr. Ambedkar to write the Constitution of India

Written by – Ashwin Jangam

Indians today are governed by two different ideologies. Their political ideal set in the preamble of the Constitution affirms a life of liberty, equality and fraternity. Their social ideal embodied in their religion denies them. ~Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Every year on 26 January, we celebrate Constitution Day, also known as Samvidhan Divas, in India in honor of Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the Architect of the Indian constitution.

Constitution Drafting Committee

Dr. Ambedkar

Dr. Ambedkar

India obtained independence on 15 August 1947 as a constitutional monarchy with George VI as Head of State and the Earl of Mountbatten as its Governor-General. The country, though, did not yet had a constitution; instead, its laws were based on the modified colonial Government of India Act of 1935. On 29 August 1947, a resolution was passed by the Constituent Assembly to appoint a Drafting Committee with seven members, including Dr. Ambedkar, for preparing a draft of the Constitution of independent India. It is said that when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel asked Sir Guor Jennings, an internationally-known constitutional expert of that time to draft the Constitution of India, he responded, “Why are you looking outside of India when you have within India an outstanding legal and constitutional expert in Dr. Ambedkar who ought to be entrusted with the role which you so badly need and which he so richly and rightly deserves?”

Committee Membership

Then Law Minister Dr. Ambedkar was appointed the Chairman of the Drafting Committee on 28 August 1947 because of his educational qualifications and deep knowledge, great command of the English language, and expertise in articulating the subject. Other members of the Drafting Committee were N. Goipalswami, Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyas, K.M. Munshi, Saijio Mola Saadulla, N. Madhava Rao and D.P. Khaitan.

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Member Responsibilities

The workload of drafting the Constitution of India fell entirely on Dr. Ambedkar and required his full effort and concentration. The other members of the Constitution Committee did not participate for various reasons. Some resigned, some were in ill health, some were busy with political work in their respective States, some were traveling abroad, and so on. It is generally agreed that Dr. Ambedkar was the sole author of the Constitution of India. We Indians owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Ambedkar for such a perfect Constitution which is still in effect after 60 years of Indian Independence.

In his self-evaluation of his work, Dr. Ambedkar told the Assembly, “I do not want to say how good or bad is the Constitution. I feel that it is as much good as bad. It will be bad in the end when the ruling people/party are bad. It will be good in the end when the ruling people/party are good.”

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Dr. Ambedkar on Muslims/Islam, he wasn’t anti-Muslim

Did you know? Dr. Ambedkar had supported Muslim demands such as partition of Kashmir and separate electorate for Muslims. Dr. Ambedkar was a true democrat, he respected the right to self-determination of people. He supported Muslim demands of partition of Kashmir.

Dr. Ambedkar’s Bahishkrit Bharat newspaper (15 March 1929) exhorts people to convert to Islam if they are willing to change their religion. It is only after the in depth studies of various religions vis-à-vis his goals that he decided on Buddha’s Dhamma. It is purely mischievous to say that Dr. Ambedkar was against Muslims.

Did you know? Dr. Ambedkar wasn’t anti-Muslim. Bahishkrit Bharat, newspaper started by Dr. Ambedkar used to publish articles on Islam. Articles on Islam by Maharashtrian reformer Lokhitawadi were serialized over a number of issues in newspaper started by Dr. Ambedkar. If Dr. Ambedkar had been against Islam or Muslims,he wouldn’t have spared so much of valuable space of his paper on them. Dr Ambedkar was certainly impressed by the egalitarian principles of Islam.

– Excerpts from Anand Teltumbde’s book Ambedkar on Muslims (2003)

Sanghis are lying as usual. Dr. Ambedkar wasn’t anti-Muslim. How can a democratic person hate anyone?

Dr. Ambedkar on Islam Dr. Ambedkar on Muslim Dr. Ambedkar on muslims and islam Dr. Ambedkar on Muslims

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First Dr. Ambedkar statue installed at the heart of Europe – Hungary!

On 14th April, 2016, at Dr. Ambedkar School in Sajokaza, Hungary, Dr. Ambedkar’s statue was installed by Jai Bhim Network.

Jai Bhim Network is inspired by Dr. Ambedkar and is running many schools for the untouchables of Europe – Roma people. Jai Bhim Network started to work in 2006 and has been able to establish itself as a leader in raising the Roma students’ issues. All this has become possible because of the whole Jai Bhim Network team working day and night at Sajokaza. Read alsoDr. Ambedkar in Hungary 

Dr. Ambedkar’s statue in Hungary – at the heart of Europe – is first in the central Europe.

Jai Bhim Network celebrates Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti every year. Hungarian media cover the event. Here are a few pictures from the celebration and pictures of the statue.

Dr. Ambedkar's statue at Sajokaza, Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar Statue at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti Celebration at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti Celebration at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti Celebration at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti Celebration at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti Celebration at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti Celebration at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti Celebration at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti Celebration at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti Celebration at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar School at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar School at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar School at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar School at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar School at Hungary

Director of Jai Bhim Network – Derdak Tibor

Dr. Ambedkar School at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar School at Hungary

Dr. Ambedkar at Hungary

Indian Ambassador to Hungary


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Canada’s Prime Minister apologized for Komagata Maru, when will Sikh Jathedars apologize for Jallianwala Bagh massacre?

Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, on 11th April 2016 said, “next month, I will rise in the House to offer an apology to Sikhs for the Komagata Maru incident.” Komagata Maru was ship that sailed from Hong Kong to Vancouver in 1914, carrying 376 people, mostly Sikhs, were denied entry to Canada. Ship had to return to Calcutta, where a few people were shot dead by British and rest were jailed.

So, almost 100 years later, Prime Minister of Canada has offered apology.

World War – I ended in November 1918 and people from Punjab who fought in that war (mostly from lower castes) came back to homes. They decided to pay homage, say thanks, offer prayers at Golden Temple, Amritsar for keeping them alive at World War-I. These lower caste people were stopped by Sikh Jathedars (clergy) from entering the Golden Temple.

Golden Temple

As described by Dalit writer, Gurnam Singh Muktsar, to protest this inhuman behavior and not letting lower castes to enter Golden Temple, lower castes (Dalits) decided to gather at Jallianwala Bagh and stage a protest against caste discrimination.

Sikh Jathedars could not digest that Dalits organising protests for equal rights. At that time, head of Golden Temple was Giani Arur Singh, grandfather of Simranjit Singh Mann who is president of the Shiromani Akali Dal. 

Jallianwala Bagh Memorial , Amritsar

Jallianwala Bagh Memorial , Amritsar

On 13th April, 1919 when Dalits were protesting against the inhuman behavior of Sikh leaders, on the directions of Jathedar Arur Singh, General O’Dwyer opened fire on people who were protesting at Jallianwala Bagh. In Jallianwala Bagh massacre thousands of people died.

Later, Jathedar Arur Singh invited General O’Dwyer to Golden Temple and honored him not only with Siropa but also offered him Turban and Kirpan. Jathedars even declared him a true Sikh despite O’Dwyer being a smoker! (In Sikhism smoking isn’t allowed.)

Since then, every year people gather at Jallianwala Bagh and Sikh leaders give lengthy speeches. It’s almost 100 years since Jallianwala Bagh massacre, where 1000s of lower caste people were butchered. No apology has even been issued from Golden Temple management nor a decision to honor General O’Dwyer been revoked. Sikhs are happy with Canada’s Prime Minister apologizing for Komagata Maru. I would ask when Sikh Jathedars (Golden Temple Management) will apologize for Jallianwala Bagh massacre?


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