Tag Archives: Today in Dalit History

19th June in Dalit History – Foundation of Depressed Class Society by Dr. Ambedkar

19th June in Dalit History – Foundation of Depressed Class Society by Dr. Ambedkar

In the month of June, schools and hostels were opened for untouchables also.


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15th June in Dalit History – Dr. Ambedkar proposed the creation of Election Commission

15 June 1949: Dr. Ambedkar proposed the creation of Election Commission during the constitution debates for article 289, which in the present constitution is article 324.

Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar said[5] : Mr. President, Sir, I move:

 “That for article 289, the following article be substituted:-

289. The superintendence, directions and control of elections to be vested in an election commission.

(1) The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to Parliament and to the Legislature of every State and of elections to the offices of President and Vice-President held under this Constitution, including the appointment of election tribunals for the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with elections to Parliament and to the Legislatures of States shall be vested in a Commission (referred to in this Constitution as the election Commission) to be appointed by the President.

 (2) The Election Commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and such number of other Election Commissioners, if any, as the President may, from time to time appoint, and when any other Election Commissioner is so appointed, the Chief Election Commissioner shall act as the Chairman of the Commission.

(3) Before each general election to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of each State and before the first general election and thereafter before each biennial election to the Legislative Council of each State having such Council, the President shall also appoint after consultation with the Election Commission such Regional Commissioners as he may consider necessary to assist the Election Commission in the performance of the functions conferred on it by clause (1) of this article.

(4) The conditions of service and tenure of office of the Election Commissioners and the Regional Commissioners shall be such as the President may by rule determine:

Provided that the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be removed from the office except in like manner and on the like grounds as a judge of the Supreme Court and the conditions of the service of the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment:

Provided further that any other Election Commissioner or a Regional Commissioner shall not be removed from office except on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner.

(5) The President or the Governor or Ruler of a State shall, when so requested by the Election Commission, make available to the Election Commission or to a Regional Commissioner such staff as may be necessary for the discharge of the functions conferred on the Election Commission by clause (1) of this article.”

Earlier there during the discussions in the Constituent Assembly on 15 June, 1949, there was opposition to the appointment of Election Commissioners by the President. Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena gave an amendment saying the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner should be `subject to confirmation by a two-thirds majority in a joint session of both Houses of Parliament.’ He argued that appointment by the President would really mean appointment by the Government under the decision of the Prime Minister.[6]

Replying to the debate, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar said: “With regard to the question of appointment, I must confess that there is a great deal of force in what my friend, Prof. Saksena, has stated that there is no use of making the tenure of the Election Commissioner a fixed and secure one if there is no provision in the Constitution to prevent either a fool or knave or a person who is likely to be under the thumb of the Executive. My provision – I must admit – does not contain anything to provide against nomination of an unfit person to the post of Chief Election Commissioner or the other Election Commissioners.”

In the end, Dr. Ambedkar gave an amendment that the appointment of the CEC and the EC shall be made by the President `subject to any law made in that behalf by Parliament.’ Article 324 (2) contains this decision of the Constituent Assembly.

15th June

15 June 1952: Dr. Ambedkar forewarns of America’s inclination to Pakistan

Dr. Ambedkar returned to Bombay from America on 14 June after receiving Doctor of Law from Columbia University. The next day i.e. 15 June in an interview to the press he said that it was his impression that the American public was favourably inclined towards Pakistan. On inquiries he was told in America that this happened because Pakistan always took great care in the selection of her foreign representatives and ambassadors while India sent abroad inexperienced men to represent.


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11th June in Dalit History – Ad Dharm Movement was launched by Babu Mangu ram Mugowalia

11-12 June 1926: Ad Dharm Movement was launched by Babu Mangu ram Mugowalia.

Read more about Ad-Dharm Movement from here and Babu Mangu ram Mugowalia from here.

Also read – Dalit History Month – Remembering “Adi Movements”

11 and 12 June 1926: Ad Dharm movement of Punjab, a pioneer Dalit movement of North India, made public its ideology and plan-of-action for the empowerment of the downtrodden at its first mammoth conference at village Mugowal of District Hoshiarpur of Punjab.

Ad Dharm movement was founded by Babu Mangoo Ram Mugowalia. Late in 1925, after his return to the Punjab, Mangoo Ram began teaching in a primary school in his home village of Mugowal, a school which Mangoo Ram claims he named the Ad Dharm School. It was in that school, on 11 and 12 June 1926, that Mangoo Ram convened a meeting that formally launched the Ad Dharm movement. Mangoo Ram was elected its first president, a title he retained for the duration of the movement. On November 1926, when the Ad Dharm organisation opened an office in the city of Jullundhar where Mangoo Ram took up residence there, where he remained until he became active in politics in the 1940s, at which point he moved to the town of Hoshiarpur.

The movement laid stress on distinct Dalit identity independent of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. To achieve that the Ad Dharm movement aimed at relocating the indigenous religion of Dalits and to get it registered as their official religion in the state. In no time this historic movement became a Dalit mass struggle for their separate Dalit identity

With the active supports of the all sections of the community, the Ad Dharm movement succeeded in getting Ad Dharm religion registered for the Census in 1931. At that time about five lakhs members of the community got them recorded as Ad Dharmi. It was perhaps for the first time in the neglected / unrecorded history of the Dalits in India that Scheduled Castes in Punjab declared themselves as belonging to an indigenous non-Aryan religion totally different from that of all the mainstream religions of the region. Not only that, the movement even contested the first provincial election of 1937 and returned with the community candidates from 7 out of 8 reserved constituencies in Punjab. That was also the first great success of the Dalits in Punjab towards their march to gain political power: the proverbial Master Key.

This is in fact what the Dalits of Punjab should have continued with if they were willing to come into power on their own in the state where they are in largest numbers in comparison to rest of the entire country. Sahib Kanshi Ram did his level best to pick up the thread from where Babu Mangoo Ram Mugowalia had left. But that bore fruits in UP and Punjab is yet to replicate the same. Doing that would be a true tribute to Babu Mangoo Ram Mugowalia and Sahib Kanshi Ram Ji and to the Historic Ad Dharm movement in Punjab.

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11th June in Dalit History – Mahatma Jyotiba Phule wrote letter to the conference of Marathi authors

11 June 1885: Dyanodaya newspaper published letter by Mahatma Jyotiba Phule to the conference of Marathi authors.

The second annual Marathi literary conference was held on 24 May 1885 in the Sarvajanik Hall in Pune (Maharasthra), under the president ship of Krishnashastri Rajwade, and attended by nearly 300 litterateurs. Justice M G Ranade, the organizer of the conference wrote to Mahatma Jyotiba Phule requesting him to participate in the plenary session. Mahatma did not. But he sent a reply to Ranade, Some 43 letters from those who could not attend were read out among which Mahatma Jyotiba Phule’s letter came first. Mahatma’s letter clearly expressed his ideology in short, succinct words. Hitherto a discussion on the problems of the poor had rarely been awarded an important place in Marathi literature.[1] The letter was subsequently published in Dyanodaya newspaper of 11 June 1885. The letter is as follows:

Dear Sir,

I acknowledge the receipt of your letter regarding the proposed conference of the (Marathi) authors and I was delighted to receive your request that I should participate in this conference. But then esteemed sir, the conferences and the books of those who refuse to think of human rights generally, who do not concede them to others and going by their behavior are unlikely to concede them in future, cannot make sense to us, they cannot concur with what we are trying to say in our books. The reason is that their ancestors, with the view to taking revenge on us, included in their pseudo-religious texts an account of how they turned us into slaves and thus gave our enslavement religious authority. Their dated and decadent texts are witness to this phenomenon. These upper-caste authors who are forever miles away from reality and who can only make ceremonial and meaningless speeches in big meetings can never understand what we the shudras and atishudras have to suffer and what calamities we have to undergo. All this is not entirely unknown to the high-caste founders of various conferences and organizations. They pretend to be modernists as long as they are in the service of the British government. The moment they retire and claim their pensions, they get into their brahmanical touch-me-not attire, become caste chauvinists, incorrigible idol worshippers and, what is worse, treat the shudras and atishudras as lowly and contemptible. If they happen to be in their touch-me-not ritual dress they would not even touch paper notes as if that were a blasphemy! How can these Arya brahmans improve the lot of this unfortunate land? Be that as it may. We shudras do not any longer wish to trust these people and their specious and dishonest stories, for they cheat us and eat off our labor. In a word, we shudras have nothing to gain by mixing with such people. We must think about our situation and how we should relate to these upper-caste people. If these leaders of men are genuinely interested in unifying all people they must address themselves to the discovery of the root of eternal love of all human beings. Let them discover it and may be formulate and publish it as a text. Otherwise to turn a blind eye to the divisions among the human beings at this hour is simply futile. Of course, they are free to do what they like. I would nevertheless be thankful if my short letter is placed before your conference for consideration. In any case accept the salute of this old man.

Your friend

Jotirao. G. Phule.  

This is another example of how Phule always related to all problems keeping in mind what in his view was the main contradiction in contemporary society. His use of this kind of language would certainly have shocked the contemporary brahmins.

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29th May in Dalit History – Dr. Ambedkar with the Simon Commission

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on behalf of the Bahishkrita Hitakarini Sabha (Depressed Classes Institute of Bombay) raised issues concerning the state of education of the Depressed Classes in the Bombay presidency in front of Simon Commission (Indian Statutory Commission) on 29th May 1928 at Damodar Hall Parel, Bombay.

Dr. Ambedkar

Dr. Ambedkar

Full text of the same is available here.

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22nd May in Dalit History – Birth anniversary of Bhagya Reddy Varma (Madari Bhagaiah)

Remember Bhagya Reddy Varma (May 22, 1888 – July 2, 1950) the “Father of Dalit Movement in Andhra Pradesh” on his birth anniversary. His original name was Madari Bhagaiah and he was founder of Adi Hindu Movement in Andhra Pradesh. Bhagya Reddy Varma was born in a Dalit, Mala caste family in the princely Hyderabad State to Madari Venkaiah.

Bhagya Reddy Varma

Bhagya Reddy Varma

Bhagya Reddy Varma founded around 26 schools in around Hyderabad region for Dalits. He established Dalit panchayat courts to settle disputes among dalits. He chaired All India conference of Schedules castes held at Lucknow on 27, 28 December 1930, to support send delegation to Round Table conference. Babasaheb Ambedkar was present in this meeting.

In 1906, he started Jagan Mitra Mandali to educate Dalits through popular folklore. Mandali worked on the social consciousness among untouchables. Later in 1911, he founded Manya Sangham, which tried to create awareness among untouchables through literature and lectures.

Bhagya Reddy Varma had launched a movement against devadasi system, forcing the Nizam to declare it a crime.


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20th May in Dalit History – Birth Anniversary of Iyothee Thass – Great Social reformer and Buddhist Scholar

Lest We forget – Iyothee Thass (1845 – 1914)


Iyothee Thass was an intellectual and social critic of 19 – 20 century Tamilnadu. In the primordial collective consciousness of the Dravidians he sensed the Buddhist values of equality and compassion. Working them out he severely criticized the brahminic hegemony that brought in estrangement and caste division among the people. Though a man of secular credentials he upheld the ethico-rational sensitivity that genuine religion can cultivate in promoting justice, righteousness and truthfulness. In this paper a brief attempt is made to construct the reformistic work which done by Iyothee Thass Pandithar.


Who is Iyothee Thass?

Born on 20 May 1845, Thass’s original name was Kaathavarayan. His grandfather had served as a butler to Lord Arlington. Kaathavarayan gained expertise in Tamil literature, philosophy, Siddha and had good knowledge of English, Sanskrit and Pali. After organizing the tribal people in the Nilgris in the 1870s, he established the Advaidananda Sabha in 1876. He launched a magazine called ‘Dravida Pandian’ along with Rev. John Rathinam in 1885. He issued a statement in 1886 announcing that the so-called untouchables’ are not Hindus. He established the Dravida Mahajana Sabha in 1891 and during the very first Census urged the so-called untouchables to register themselves as casteless Dravidians. This in fact makes Tamil Dalits the true descendents of the anti-Brahmin legacy which is today claimed by non-Brahmin non-Dalits. Iyothee Thass’s meeting with Olcott was a turning point not only in his life but also for the Tamil Dalit movement. In many ways, Thass was a forerunner of Dr B.R. Ambedkar.

Check also – 5th May in Dalit History – Death Anniversary of Iyothee Thass 

Iyothee Thass and Buddhism

He led a delegation of prominent Dalits to Olcott and pleaded for his help in reestablishing Tamil Buddhism. With Olcott’s help Thass visited Sri Lanka and got diksha from Bikkhu Sumangala Nayake. On his return, he established the Sakya Buddhist Society in Chennai with branches in many places including Karnataka. Returning from his sacred pilgrimage to Colombo, Iyothee Thass issued a pamphlet in Tamil, entitled, Buddha: The light without distinction of day and night. In this, he systematically stated his project “Tamil Buddhism” a brief statement of Sakya Buddha’s life was followed by an exploratory survey of the Tamil epical-ethical literary tradition to explain the past glory, the fall and the present degradation of the Tamil lower caste and the antagonism between Brahmins and Sakya –Valluva (Parayar) Tamils; the emancipatory future for the original Tamils was sought to be projected as the modern rediscovery of the earlier Buddhist traditions through construction of Buddhist Temples, maintenance of Buddhist medical halls, Buddhist college, Buddhist young men association, celebration of Buddha’s birthday anniversaries and establishment of Buddhist charity fund to feed the poor. The pamphlet closed with an appeal to join these effort by singing the apprehend forms. The coming together of the initial group to implement project Tamil Buddhism was, thus, based on a common understanding of a collective-historical rationale and a social consensus in the modern sense of the term. However, not all the founding members of the society took ‘pancha silam’ and became Buddhist. The Sakya Buddhist society started its activities in 1898 with religious meetings on Sundays, semi-public lectures on socio-religious issues by learned men of all faiths and confessions and conversions to Buddhism that is, taking of pancha silam and enrolling as members, though in small numbers, yet continuously. Soon the Sakya Buddhists were recognized as an independent entity by other international Buddhist bodies and a flow of visitors, monks and lay people started and increased with passing years. Writing about those early years, Iyothee Thass says: “lectures are delivered every week in the hall of the society in addition to the occasional lectures delivered here and there in the city of Madras. Thus a great interest is aroused in the minds of people in the life and teaching of our Lord Buddha. And not a few have been the conversion to the faith of the master… Some 260 Buddhist visitors, bhikkus and lay men and women from Holland, china, Japan, Burma, Ceylon, Siam, Singapore, Chittagong, Benares, Calcutta, Bodh Gaya and other places have called and stayed here on different occasions”.

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21st April (2010) in Dalit History – Mirchpur Dalits Killings

A perpetual war is going on every-day in every village between the Hindus and the Untouchables. —Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

Mirchpur, a village in district Hissar of Haryana. On the morning of 21 April, 2010, 18 Dalit homes were torched and 2 Dalits—17-year old Suman and her 60-year old father Tara Chand—were burnt alive. It was pre-planned attack on the Dalits by Jat community and police didn’t help Dalits at all. Khap panchayats supported Jats that led Dalits to leave the villages.

Mirchpur Dalits Killings

Mirchpur Dalits Killings

On 24th September, 2011 Delhi court held only 15 of the 97 people guilty of various criminal acts. It is shameful that rest of the people got away without any punishment. Justice was denied to Dalits once again.

Read more about the incident from here, here and here.

Watch a short documentary on the same incident.

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