Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Dalit Resistance And Violence

in Annihilate Caste — January 6, 2018
From past few days we have been witnessing on our television channels or social media news portals debating over just and unjust forms of protest. But the mootable theme that underlies all these debates and news reporting is how we construe, what is Resistance? And what is Violence? A common dictionary meaning of Resistance is: the act or power of resisting, opposing, or withstanding. The opposition offered by one thing, force, etc., to another. Violence as a term according to dictionary meaning is: an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws.
In a society like ours which is sharply divided between the depressed classes and the oppressor classes, any form of protest, dissent against the dominant classes by the depressed classes will be termed as Violence. During Mahad Satyagraha speech Babasaheb Ambedkar also raised the same argument where he said that:
“We wish to carry on our movement as peaceful as we can. However, our determination to remain non-violent will to a large extent depend upon the attitude of our opponents. We are not the aggressors and our oppressors for generations should accuse us of aggression a strange thing.” (BAWS, Vol-17_1, 64)
Similar, accusations have been labelled upon every form of resistance happening in this country, whether it is the recent Maharashtra bandh call given by the depressed classes under the collective leadership of various progressive organizations led by Babasaheb’s Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar, or whether Bhim Army protests against the burning, loot, and violence over Dalits in Saharanpur, or whether Najeeb’s mother protesting on streets to find her son, or whether Radhika Vemula trying to demand justice for Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder, or whether a 90% disabled man protesting against Operation Greenhunt and loot of natural resources, or whether people protesting against lynching of minorities. All this labelling is done by the ruling class propaganda machinery so that the coercive machinery can crush the Resistance.
Babasaheb Ambedkar was well aware of the nature of the Indian ruling classes and the Colonial British Regime, thus he founded Samata Sainik Dal on 25 November, 1926 with the objective of safeguarding the rights of all oppressed sections of Indian society. He also laid down the rules and regulations of SSD of which few are as follows:
Samata Sainik Dal training shall consist of physical, intellectual and military type. The Samata Sanik Dal shall organise training Camps, Schools, Clubs, Classes, Lectures, Debates, Libraries etc. and such other forms of activities as it may consider expedient from time to time.
I, a member of the Indian (Scheduled Caste) Community, entering the ranks of the Samata Sainik Dal, do hereby take an Oath and solemnly swear to be an honorable, brave, disciplined and resolute fighter in the glorious cause of the emancipation of my class from all oppression, exploitation and slavery.
It is time to understand like Babasaheb Ambedkar did that the state apparatus always protects the ruling classes interest sometimes by direct coercive mechanism and brutal force like in Kashmir, Liberated Zones created by CPI(Maoist), Working class movements like the ban on Mazdoor Sangathan Samiti in Jharkhand, framing democratic rights activists under fabricated charges through its Draconian laws like UAPA, NSA, AFSPA; brutally beating students protesting for their rights in universities all around India. Indirectly, it instigate violence through mainstream political parties goon gangs working under various names like VHP, Bajrang Dal, and other Hindutva factions to indirectly create an atmosphere of terror among the masses. It is like psychological violence perpetrated on the struggling people. The more the ruling classes get repressive economically, socially, culturally and politically that showcase its desperation to pauperize the already depressed population under the garbage dump of economic policies that only and only fulfil the interest of the ruling classes both Indian and their global Imperial masters. This is Violence which is not just coercive, but also structural and inherently systematic. It seems that time is not far when the depressed classes will demolish the headquarters like Babri Masjid was demolished on Ambedkar’s death anniversary. The more the coercive and structural violence, the more strong resistance will be forged.
Therefore, in one of his polemical editorial article Ambedkar in 1940 and nails it on the head saying: If the means of non-violence would suffice to attain an end, then there should be no need to resort to brute force. However, should non-violent means not be sufficient to achieve an end, and if the end would suffer on this account, then only a fool would insist that no other means but non-violence should be adopted…it would indeed be a sin to use brute force as a means to do injustice to someone, but there would be nothing sinful about using brute force to put an end to brute force.

Red Panther is a Dalit activist

Thursday, 9 November 2017

A Neglected Message from Dr. Ambedkar TO OBCs- Dr. K. Jamanadas
An article was published recently in Marathi local magazine by Suhas Sonwane based on daily Loksatta. The following is a gist of it, translated from Marathi.
Mr. Babasaheb Gawande, the founder president of an Organization of Marathas from Bombay called "Maratha Mandir" was a close friend of Dr. Ambedkar. Mr. Gawande asked Dr. Ambedkar, who was then a Law Minister in Nehru Cabinet in 1947, for a message for the Maratha people to be published in the Souvenir of "Maratha Mandir". Ambedkar declined saying that he had no relation with the Organization or the Marathas, but on persistent insistence, a message was given and published in the souvenir on 23rd March 1947. But unfortunately that special issue is not available in the office of the Organization today. But it was made available by Shri Vijay Survade recently and was undocumented till now.
Dr. Ambedkar said:
"This principle will apply not only to Marathas but all Backward Castes. If they do not wish to be under the thumb of others they should concentrate on two things, one is politics and the other is education."
"One thing I like to impress on you is that the community can live in peace only when it has enough moral but indirect pressure over the rulers. Even if a community is numerically weak, it can keep its pressure over the rulers and create its dominance as is seen by the example of status of present day Brahmins in India. It is essential that such a pressure is maintained, as without it, the aims and policies of the state can not have proper direction, on which depends the development and progress of the state."
"At the same time, it must not be forgotten that education is also important. Not only elementary education but higher education is most essential to keep ahead in competition of communities in their progress."
"Higher education, in my opinion, means that education, which can enable you to occupy the strategically important places in State administration. Brahmins had to face a lot of opposition and obstacles, but they are overcoming these and progressing ahead."
"I can not forget, rather I am sad, that many people do not realize that the Caste system is existing in India for centuries because of inequality and a wide gulf of difference in education, and they have forgotten that it is likely to continue for some centuries to come. This gulf between the education of Brahmins and non-Brahmins will not end just by primary and secondary education. The difference in status between these can only be reduced by higher education. Some non-Brahmins must get highly educated and occupy the strategically important places, which has remained the monopoly of Brahmins since long. I think this is the duty of the State. If the Govt. can not do it, institutions like "Maratha Mandir" must undertake this task."
"I must emphasize one point here that middle class tries to compare itself with the highly educated and well placed and well to do community, whereas lower class all over the world has same fault. The middle class is not as liberal as upper one, and has no ideology as lower one, which makes it enemy of both the classes. The middle class Marathas of Maharashtra also have this fault. They have only two ways out, either to join hands with upper classes and prevent the lower classes from progress, and the other is to join hands with lower classes and both together destroy the upper class power coming against the progress of both. There was a time, they used to be with lower classes, now they seem to be with the upper class. It is for them to decide which way to go. The future of not only Indian masses but also their own future depends upon what decision the Maratha leaders take. As a matter of fact it all should be left to the skill and wisdom of the leaders of Marathas. But there seems to be a lack of such wise leadership among the Marathas."
What he said about Marathas, equally applies to all OBCs, and still holds true after half a century. Dr. Ambedkar wrote much to educate the OBCs. It is only now that OBCs are awakening gradually. It must not be forgotten that the future of this country depends on them.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Messiah and the Testament - Nani Palkhiwala

-Nani Palkhivala

In the year of Dr B R Ambedkar’s centenary, the Supreme Court of India finds itself with the unenviable and monumental task of redefining the rights of the socially backward classes with reference to the Mandal commiission report. Nani Palkhivala pays a tribute to the country’s greatest visionary. Accompanying this are his submissions before the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the Mandal report.
Edwin Markham’s poignant words about the brutalised toiler serve to sum up the condition of the Indian untouchable:
by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes,
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?
Though this dread shape the suffering ages look;
Time’s tragedy is in that aching stoop;
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed,
Plundered, profaned and disinherited,
Cries protest to the Powers that made the world,
A protest that is also prophecy.”

Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was born on 14th April 1891 and died on 6th December, 1956. He was an architect of consummate skill and fidelity who, between 1947 and 1950, designed the structure which “has been reared for immortality, if the work of man may justly aspire to such a title.”
When Beverley Nichols visited India in 1945, he took the opportunity of meeting most of the great figures in Indian public life; and he described Dr Ambedkar as “one of the six brains in India.”
The country owes Dr Ambedkar an immeasurable debt of gratitude which can never be repaid. He strove single-mindedly to bring about the social integration of India, just as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel brought about its political integration.
The most impressionable years of Dr Ambedkar’s life were spent as an untouchable Mahar in conditions tantamount to slavery without society recognizing even its obligation to feed the slave. For the untouchables the harshness of life was so characterised by malnutrition, illiteracy, disease, squalid surroundings, high infant mortality and low life expectancy as to be beneath any reasonable definition of human decency.
Those were bitter memories; but Dr Ambedkar laid them down when India had a rebirth. It was India’s good fortune that Dr Ambedkar became the chairman of the Drafting Committee of Free India’s Republican Constitution. He presided over the group-- the galaxy of talent-- who conceived for the new republic a fundamental law dedicated to justice and liberty; to equality of status and opportunity; and to fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation. Chief Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan (whose centenary was celebrated two years ago) rightly called it “our sublime Constitution.”
Dr Ambedkar was too big a man to harbour any thought of vengeance or vendetta, ill-will or revenge towards those who had been exploiting casteism since time immemorial. He gave India a Constitution which guarantees equality to all as its basic feature, and ensures a truly egalitarian society where no class would be unprivileged, underprivileged or privileged on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, dissent, place of birth or residence.
While Mahatma Gandhi called the untouchables “Harijans”-- children of God-- Dr Ambedkar was convinced that such soothing nomenclature meant nothing. He asked the people not to forget that “whitewashing does not save a dilapidated house. You must pull it down and build anew.” He firmly believed in annihilation of the caste system, and wanted to rid our society of this canker. He drew a sharp distinction “between social reform in the sense of reforms of the Hindu family, and social reform in the sense of the reorganisation and reconstruction of the Hindu society. The former has relation to widow remarriage, child marriage, etc., while the latter related to the abolition of caste.”
Dr Ambedkar’s philosophy was that self-respect and human dignity were of paramount importance in a free republic. As he told his followers two years before his death, “Ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is a battle for freedom. It is a battle for the reclamation of human personality.”
He had an unshakable faith in guaranteed Fundamental Rights. He said in the Constituent Assembly, “The Declaration of the Rights of Man.., has become part and parcel of our mental make-up... These principles have become the salient, immaculate premise of our outlook.”
Democracy and freedom are not synonymous. Adult franchise may merely amount to the right to choose your tyrants. In Lord Hailsham’s words, you may have “Elective Dictatorship.” Hence the conviction shared by several countries about the sovereign virtue of having a Bill of Rights in the Constitution which would guarantee basic human freedom. Even in England, where freedom is bred in the bones of the people, eminent judges like Lord Devlin, Lord Gardiner, Lord Hail- sham, Lord Salmon and Lord Scar- man have advocated the incorporation of a Bill of Rights in British law.
The very purpose of a Bill of Rights is to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials, and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty and equality, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.
To Dr. Ambedkar the unit of society was the individual, never the caste or the village. He wholly disbelieved in the glib claptrap about the glories of the Panchayat Raj and observed: “...these village republics have been the ruination of India. What is the village but a sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow-mindedness and communalism? I am glad that the draft Constitution has discarded the village and adopted the individual as the unit.”
Dr Ambedkar’s great vision enjoined the abolition of casteism in every shape and form, since he was opposed to all divisive forces and aimed at strengthening the impulse of national integration. The ideals of fraternity and equality were the cement with which he wanted to bind together a totally cohesive nation.
The highest tribute we can pay Dr Ambedkar on his centennial is to redouble our efforts to preserve the Constitution which endures as a lasting monument to the man who was one of the noblest sons of India.
It is not a fortuitous accident, but a coincidence, of deep symbolic significance, that the Supreme Court has been called upon to decide, in the centenary year of Dr Ambedkar’s birth, the validity of the Mandal Commission report in the context of the sanctity of the Constitution.
Courtsey: The Illustrated Weekly of India February 23-24, 1991.