Why the Dalits of Maharashtra were so angry?

16/01/2011

In the month of 50th Death Anniversary of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar the nation is witnessing a sudden and sporadic militant protests of Dalits in Maharashtra. Firstly, they demonstrated their deep anger against the heinous killing of a Dalit Family in Khairlangi village, and, recently, on last Thursday the Dalits of Maharashtra again come out on the streets to protest against the felonious act of desecration of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s statue which took place at Kanpur. On both the events, the protests were spontaneous, unorganized and without any concrete political intervention. And on both the occasions, it has invoked divergent responses by Media, Intellectuals and the State. The need of the hour is to take a deep look into the churning of Dalit Movement in India , instead of focusing on mere sporadic events. Responding over the recent protest, the Maharashtra government portrayed the protest as a Naxalite design, thus enabling itself to use coercive force against Dalit Activits and social groups. Secondly, the media wanted to project both the protests as a deliberate political game in which the opposition only wanted to fuel this fire to capitalize the Dalit votes in forth coming elections. Further criticizing the people’s uproar, Media labeled them as lumpen elements whose only desire is to destruct the state property. Some observers criticized the Dalit political leadership of Maharashtra (especially Republican Party of India), arguing that it is their failure which is responsible for the decline of the Dalit movement and for such a degraded and chaotic situation in the state. Another aspect which is coming in picture is about the caste conflict among the high and low castes, arguing that Maharashtra is no different from any other state and caste atrocities and discrimination against Dalits has also become a norm here.

In all these observations there is no response to why then even in such adverse socio-political conditions and against a casteist and coercive State, Dalits throughout Maharashtra came out openly on streets and protested in such large numbers. Cases of rape, murder, discrimination and violation of human rights against Dalits are rampant and have become a norm in India. Why then such kinds of protests or demonstrations do not happen in other parts of the country where the political consciousness and Dalit leadership is comparatively better than Maharashtra? Why did only the Dalits in Maharashtra agitate with such fury and not in Uttar Pradesh or in Madhya Pradesh where the Dalit population is comparatively higher than that of Maharashtra? (The Dalit Population in Maharashtra is mere 10.2% compare to 24% in Uttar Pradesh) What is the difference between the Dalits of Maharashtra and the Dalits in the rest of the country? In Maharashtra the Dalits represent a robust socio-cultural identity and a relatively dignified social position which creates strong communitarian bond. They represent an uncompromising socio-political ideology and a social consciousness to build an ideal society because of which they are in the forefront of struggle against every kind of adversity against them.
The assertion of Dalits in every part of the country has to meet the castiest Brahmanical onslaught. The upper caste, even after fifty-six years of modern democracy, in India has failed to accept the fact that the Dalits are humans. Their mind is not ready to accept that the people who till yesterday were untouchables and their slaves, today are sharing corridors of power, are coming forward into the field of education and progressing equally with them. They see it as the breakdown of their age old caste superiority, rich tradition and attack over the Brahmanical social values. The only way to stop the progress of Dalits is perpetuating caste violence and naked atrocities against them. Considering them to be poor and in minority, they believe that the Dalits will never rise to avenge themselves and will desist to compare themselves with the upper castes. In the light of such observations, Maharashtra is no exception. The political, social, cultural and economic progress of the Dalits has witnessed a reactionary attack by the upper castes here as well. But here, against every act of injustice on caste lines, the Dalit masses react with a heroic militancy and show a strong and committed zeal to ensure justice against caste oppressions.

Firstly, in Maharashtra, the Dalits’ Conversion to Buddhism has created a unique psychological and cultural space for them on which an independent assertion of their moral and historic identity is under construction. Here the Dalits have produced a vibrant and cohesive social atmosphere by adopting Buddhist moral values, symbols and socio-cultural practices in their day-to-day life against unscientific and obscurantist Hindu rituals. Buddhist identity is not only helpful in creating an alternative culture but it has also provided a sense of moral community committed to the ethos of liberty, equality and fraternity. The recent celebration of Golden Jubilee of Buddhist conversion witnessed an assembly of more than fifteen lakh people at Nagpur in a single day. In all such gatherings, Dalits took initiatives voluntarily in organizing the events and has consciously rejected any politicization of their cultural symbols even by Dalit parties. Independently the Dalit masses have established an alternative social and culture ethos over the doctrine of Navayana Buddhism which is responsible for a proud and spirited identity among them.

Secondly, the socio-political ideology of Dalit Movement in Maharashtra is based on the teachings Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, which negates Brahmanical domination and proposes a revolutionary transformation of social order. The Dalits social, cultural and political groups are numerously scattered and there is no possibility of their unification on one platform but it has hardly affected over the commitment of the Dalit masses to the philosophical doctrine of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. They do not need any political patron to represent or to protect them. Here the Dalits without any political interest and plan are relentlessly fighting for their rights, dignity and self-respect and never allowed them to fall prey to the violent political designs of extremists (Naxalites), even at the heights of provocations. Their matured sensitivity and strong belief in constitutional set up gives them strength and courage to fight uncompromisingly against Brahmanical forces. Dalits here have also till date rejected the “Mission” of some professional politicians of the country, as these leaders are so much engulfed in the matrix of number games that the moral responsibility of political activism to fight Brahmanical casteism has died in favor of pragmatism and half hearted console to the victims of caste atrocities. The Dalits of course do not have any faith in the upper caste elite led political parties which, incident after incident of atrocities have only shown seer insensitivity towards the victims and always tried to protect the culprits. This autonomous and independent political assertion of the Maharashtra’s Dalits is significant because of their militant and non compromising attitude. This passionate zeal provides them an impetus to recognize their role not as an arbitrator in the field of power but as the vanguards of Ambedkarite mission.

Thirdly, in Maharashtra, Ambedkar and later Dalit Panther Movement have established certain basic principles, values and ideals which negate the narrow power centric opportunistic electoral arithmetic of popular caste politics and give a revolutionary élan for the total emancipation from every kind of social, economic, cultural and political oppressions. They understood that the goal of Dalit emancipation cannot be achieved with a narrow perspective of political maneuverings, but an organic total transformation of the society can be achieved only through relentless and militant struggles of the people to annihilate the caste system. The Dalit masses even in all the adverse conditions have candidly maintained their autonomous and independent position and upheld the ideological doctrines of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar to achieve their revolutionary goals.

Even in other parts of the country where because of strong identity politics, some Dalit political parties have played a significant role in developing the political consciousness of Dalit masses, they lack such cohesive and vibrant social churning which is evident among Dalits of Maharashtra. We believe that in Maharashtra, the main concern is not gaining political power but the idea of social revolution has dominant over the psyche of Dalit masses.

Under these concerns, the Dalits of Maharashtra has given a revolutionary elan arguing that achieving a vibrant social revolution through consistent struggle of people is inevitable to materialize the ideal goal of political revolution. The recent street protests in Maharashtra therefore should be seen under the larger perspective of growing Dalit consciousness, self-respect and commitment to revolutionary ideals and not only as a reaction to one or another incident of caste atrocities.

Harish S. Wankhede
Lecturer, Political Science
Ramlal Anand College (E), Delhi University, New Delhi

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crtsy: http://dalitperspectivejnu.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2006-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2007-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=12

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Upper castes in remote area of Uttar Pradesh object to Angrezi Devi

05/12/2010

A Dalit-dominated hamlet in remote area of Uttar Pradesh (UP) is on the radar of top officials of the Mayawati administration nowadays. At the crux of their interest is a new goddess ‘Angrezi Devi’.

Construction of a temple consecrated to this goddess of English is in full swing in Jang Bahadur Ganj village of Lakhimpur Kheri district. But tension has already begun to simmer over this unique campaign to popularise English and modern education among Dalits. Upper castes feel this is the first step towards conversion of Dalits to Christianity. They also feel worshipping ‘Angrezi Devi’ is an insult to Hindu goddesses.

“Those who are opposing the ‘Angrezi Devi’ temple are either ignorant or are acting at the behest of some vested interests,” says renowned writer on Dalit issues, Dr Chandrabhan Prasad, who is the driving force behind the ingenious initiative. “English education is the primary need of Dalits. We are working on Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar’s inspiration,” he said.

A three-feet high statue of the goddess of English is ready for installation. The statue is designed on the lines of New York’s Statue of Liberty. It holds aloft a pen in one hand and a copy of the Indian Constitution in the other.

But even as Dalits of Jang Bahadur Ganj toil day and night for the proposed inauguration of the new temple by month-end, top officials in Lucknow are a worried lot. “We have been getting reports of tension between Dalits and upper castes over this temple… we only hope this issue doesn’t flare up,” a senior police official said. State intelligence agencies, he added, were keeping a close eye on the situation.

“The upper castes feel this is only a ruse to convert Dalits to Christianity,” he said, adding that a number of people had apprised senior district officials of their objections. “They also see the temple as an attempt to grab land,” the official said.

Because of its Dalit dimension, the “Angrezi Devi” issue is highly sensitive for the Mayawati government. So, no senior official is willing to go on record about the controversy.

Meanwhile, students of the Nalanda Shiksha Niketan, a local Dalit school, have even written a prayer to worship the goddess in English.

The structure of the temple, being built on about 800 square feet of land, is almost complete. Prasad says the temple walls would be adorned with scientific formulae, famous quotes and gems of knowledge from a variety of subjects. However, what remains to be seen is whether this new temple spreads the light of knowledge or the flames of caste conflict.

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report_upper-castes-in-remote-area-of-uttar-pradesh-object-to-angrezi-devi_1464102


Religion: Untouchable Lincoln

17/10/2010

One of the few men who have risen from the malodorous sink which is below the lowest caste of India is Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, No. 1 Untouchable. This plump, cheery, bespectacled man of no caste, whose very shadow would outrage high-caste Hindus, managed to get a good education in Indian Government schools, was staked to courses at the University of London and Columbia University by the highly democratic Gaekwar of Baroda. Dr. Ambedkar is probably the only man alive who ever walked out in a huff from a private audience with the Pope of Rome. His Holiness Pius XI having heard from Dr. Ambedkar about the miseries of Indian outcastes, replied: “My son, it may take three or four centuries to remedy these abuses, be patient.”

Impatient Dr. Ambedkar summoned 10,000 raggle-taggle Untouchables to Nasik near Bombay last autumn, said de liberately: “I had the misfortune of being born with the stigma of Untouchability. But it is not my fault. I will not die a Hindu, for this is in my power. I say to you, abandon Hinduism and adopt any other religion which gives you equality of status and treatment.”

Thereupon the 10,000 adopted a resolution advising India’s Untouchables—some 60,000,000—to desert Hinduism en masse. Then a mob of Untouchables made a mighty bonfire of the most sacred Hindu books they could find. At Lucknow volunteers were solicited to force entry into Hindu temples, from which Untouchables have been barred since time immemorial. At Barabanki 28,000 Untouchables shouted their support of Dr. Ambedkar, laid plans for an All Indian Untouchable Conference. Millions of leaflets bearing Untouchable Ambedkar’s message began fluttering out over India.

To what faith the Untouchables should turn for “equality of status and treatment,” Dr. Ambedkar did not hasten to explain. Since he was reported dallying with Mohammedanism, Christian leaders in India exhibited pious skittishness. Declared the National Christian Council of India: ”The harvest is ripe for the gathering in many quarters and we urge that volunteer bands be sent forth to gather it.”

This week in Zion’s Herald, New England Methodist weekly, appears the first interview with Dr. Ambedkar to be published in the U. S. since he made his Nasik speech. To get it, able Editor Lewis Oliver Hartman went to India, sought out its No. 1 Untouchable, plied him with practical questions. Wrote the editor of Zion’s Herald:

“The [Untouchable] leader was rather critical of Christianity’s constant emphasis upon personal experience at the expense of any wider reference. ‘Why have you not seen the importance of a religion that reaches out into all life and all relationships?’ he asked. Continuing, he declared with deep feeling, ‘If you are going to compromise with evil conditions while you stress personal religion exclusively, I tell you now I am not with you.

. . . . “I pointed out in answer that, so far as the Methodist Episcopal Church was concerned, our watchword was this: ‘Nothing that has to do with human welfare is foreign to Methodism.’ This seemed to please him. . . .” Of Hinduism the man whom Editor Hartman calls “India’s Lincoln” said: “Hinduism is not a religion; it is a disease.”

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,755912-1,00.html#ixzz12bMS89p2

 


Reservation in Private Sector is The Matter of Life and Death

10/10/2010

Two Days’ National Convention of All India Confederation of SC/ST (Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe) Organisations began this morning at Ambedkar Bhavan, New Delhi. Hundreds of national leaders of SC/ST Confederation arrived from all over the countries representing SC/ST Unions and Associations in different Governmental departments and private sectors.

The National Convention was inaugurated with a prayer recited by a Buddhist monk followed by the leaders and participants of the National Convention. The main agenda of the National Convention is “Reservation in private sectors, which is the matter of life and death for SC/ST communities in India.”

 

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In inaugural speech, Dr. Udit Raj says, “Reservation in Private Sector will empower us permanently which will not be less than achieving political power. Without Cultural Revolution and Buddhism, it is difficult to have equality in the society. Reservation in Higher Judiciary and Armed Forces and enactment of Reservation Act is a must. Business is the key to the rule.”

Many government sectors are becoming private sectors in India and private companies are mushrooming, where the employments are given to eligible and educated members of communities and Dalits and oppressed and less educated members do not have much employment opportunities.

National Convention will also addresses the issue of appealing to the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh to arrange an occasion for the US President Barack Obama to pay homage to Dr. B R Ambedkar when he visits India in November this year.

Dr. Udit Raj has been campaigning for Ambedkar Parinirvan Bhoomi, where Dr. B R Ambedkar lived and died to be given the status of Raj Ghat.

All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations (www.scstconfederation.net) is the national body of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Government Employees’ unions founded in October 1997 under the Dynamic leadership of Dr. Udit Raj. The Objective of the Confederation is to restore the original position of the Constitution so that the intent and spirit of the Constitution is maintained. Latter the Confederation expanded with larger partnership with different human rights agencies in national and global level in search total abolition of caste and dalit freedom.

 


Remembering Dr. Ambedkar

09/09/2010
For some years now all the political parties have been celebrating 14 April -Dr. Ambedkar’s birthday – in a big way; for most of them it is a ritual. This year too they performed the ritual.
Some of the major parties indulge in unalloyed hypocrisy in that they do two things simultaneously. One, their think tanks attack Dr. Ambedkar mercilessly; they are very angry that there are more statues of Dr. Ambedkar than that of Gandhiji, and that, too, of a larger size; angry because Dr. Ambedkar is called the father/architect of the Indian Constitution. They are dismissive of the perpetual suffering and unequal status of the depressed section of our population and Dr. Ambedkar’s fight for their right to be human. Two, on 14 April the leaders garland Dr. Ambedkar’ s “over-sized” statues, hail him as the architect of the Constitution and as one who sowed the seeds of social democracy and social equality.
The think tank – the ‘ideologues’ of ‘patriotic’ political formations – shed crocodile tears over Ambedkar’s disagreement with Gandhiji on a number of issues. They, however, conveniently forget what Gandhiji thought of Ambedkar: “If Ambedkar does not break our heads, it is an act of self-restraint on his part. Dr. Ambedkar has had to suffer humiliations and insults which should make any one of us bitter and resentful. Had I been in his place, I would have been as angry. We shall be unfit to gain swaraj so long as we keep in bondage a fifth of the population. In the history of world religions there is perhaps nothing like our treatment of the suppressed classes. Caste Hindu well-wishers of untouchables have no right to speak for them.”
Dr. Ambedkar was a revolutionary, rationalist-humanist, human rights intellectual-activist, a man who looked ahead of his time. He wondered “why the Hindus having traditions of charity and humanity – their regard for animal life -should behave so heartlessly towards their fellow human beings and in such unreasonable ways. The Hindu community is set in the steel frame of the caste system, in which one caste is lower than another in social gradation involving particular privileges, rights, inhibition and disabilities with regard to each caste. This system has created vested interests which depend upon maintaining the inequalities resulting from the system”. He, therefore, “unfurled the banner of equality”. He was not satisfied with the abolition of untouchability only, leaving the caste system along with “the inequalities inherent in the system”. Dr. Ambedkar embraced Buddhism because the Buddhist dharma is based on scientific reasoning, it seeks to achieve human freedom, equality, liberty and fraternity. According to him Buddhism is the only religion which does not sanctify poverty and inequality: nirvana is the way “to remove injustice and inhumanity that man does to man.” Buddha taught “social freedom, intellectual freedom, and political freedom. He taught equality, equality not between man and man only but between man and woman. His concern was to give salvation to man in his life on earth, and not to promise it to him in heaven after he is dead”.
Many progressives whisper that Dr. Ambedkar accepted a cabinet post in Pandit Nehru’s government because he wanted, political, power. Like all political leaders he too wanted power, but unlike most of them he accepted a cabinet post to empower those who have remained depressed and deprived for centuries. But for him the progressive provisions in the Constitution might not have been incorporated. He devoted his whole life to the cause of human rights of the depressed; his mission in life was. to restore human dignity to those who have been victims of an ugly and unjust hierarchical social order which gave rise to injustice and ,inequality. “My hear breaks”, he said, “to see the pitiable sight of your faces and hear your sad voices”. To the Hindus he said. “If you say that Hindu religion is our religion, then your right and ours must be equal. But is this the case?” Dr. Ambedkar fought a relentless battle against this social order and was one of the very few Indian leaders who was forthright, and called a spade a spade: “I hate all injustice, tyranny, pompousness and humbug”. Dr. Ambedkar believed that if he succeeded in his struggle – struggle for a just social order – it will prove a blessing for all Indians, not merely any group or community. He wanted the dominating section of our people to adopt a strong position against the hierarchical social order. Regrettably, not many have taken a position.
Dr. Ambedkar will be remembered for all time to come as the architect of the Indian Constitution, specially for the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles Chapters which, aim at eradicating “all injustice and tyranny” and ushering in social democracy and social equality. He was however, disappointed that the dominating section of our society did not rise to the occasion and did not water the plants that he had planted. Our political rulers have failed Ambedkar and his vision. It is now for human rights groups and grassroots activists to make social democracy and equality a way of life in the absence of which political democracy will always stand on a shaky foundation. (21 April, 2000).
By R. M. Pal



Proud to be a Dalit: A quiet revolution is underway in the Dalit world[Telegraph News Calcutta]

09/09/2010
A quiet revolution is underway in the Dalit world — assertiveness is replacing defensiveness. Many Dalits, buoyed by prosperity, are flaunting their caste on their sleeves and celebrating it in rap and pop albums. Seetha and V. Kumara Swamy look at how Dalits are changing the way the world looks at them
STANDING TALL: Cars with a defiant chamar or chamar da munda scrawled on windshields are common in Jalandhar; (below) P. Nagrare started an engineering college along with other Dalits; (bottom) H. Bhaskar, who set up Kota Tutorials, says he is proud to be a Jatav

Sons of chamars are six feet tall
Riding bikes at the speed of bullets
And making headlines everywhere

Upcoming Punjabi singer Lovely Bhatia’s Chadadh Chamaran Di (Rising Chamars) is a big hit in parts of Punjab. That’s not surprising, for the song is the anthem of the young Dalit.

You can be imprisoned, under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, for using the word chamar — a term for a scheduled caste community that traditionally worked with leather — as an abuse.

In parts of Punjab, though, rap and pop albums celebrating the chamar identity are the new rage. Cars and scooters sporting a defiant chamar or Chamaran da Munda (son of a chamar) stickers are a common sight in Jalandhar.

“When I was young, I feared saying that I was a chamar, thinking that my colleagues would look down upon me. But now I say that I am proud to be a chamar,” says Sriram Prakash who, after retirement from the Punjab police, has been working with a Dalit religious group, the Ravidasias.

It isn’t just in Punjab. Agra’s Harsh Bhaskar, 32, who set up the multi-city Kota Tutorials and the Edify Institute of Management and Technology, outside Agra, declares he is “proud” to be a Jatav. J.S. Phulia, who runs a Delhi-based shipping and logisitics firm, says: “We don’t want to be servile.”

Alongside atrocities by upper castes in villages and discrimination in the work place, another chapter is being written in the Dalit story — assertion is replacing defensiveness. In Punjab, the assertion is in your face; in other parts of the country, it is quieter, but palpable.

“Dalits are sick of taunts about their poverty, their so-called unclean habits and their dependence on reservations for education and jobs,” says Dalit writer and activist Chandrabhan Prasad. “They want to change these impressions.”

What is more, Dalit entrepreneurs are expanding, and even have their own apex body — the Pune-based Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Dicci), which has over 400 members.

Dalits are also setting up schools and colleges — often as an avenue for helping the community. Pradeep Nagrare, secretary of the Nagpur-based Nagarjuna Institute of Engineering Technology and Management , says the idea for the institute, where 60 per cent of students are Dalits, came from the Babasaheb Ambedkar National Association of Engineers, a group of scheduled caste engineers. “If we have to take Babasaheb Ambedkar’s mission forward, it can only be through education,” he says.

Dalit movements seeking to change lives have taken various forms, says S.S. Jodhka, professor of sociology at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Political mobilisation saw the rise of the Bahujan Samaj Party, human right struggles focused on atrocities and discrimination while socio-economic development dealt with education and business. Religious movements have ranged from Dalits embracing Buddhism to the recent Ravidasia assertion in Punjab, spearheaded by followers of Ravidas, a 15th century saint who belonged to the chamar community.

The hub of the Ravidasia movement is Dera Sachkhand, near Jalandhar. A huge Ravidas temple is being built in Jalandhar, young men sport T-shirts and headbands with the Hari symbol of the Ravidasia community. Dalits in Punjab — Sikhs and non-Sikhs — are being encouraged to list Ravidasia as their religion in the 2011 census.

The movement grew as a reaction to years of discrimination. Dalits, who tilled the fields of Jat Sikhs, were not allowed inside the latter’s gurdwaras. So small gurdwaras mainly for Dalits cropped up. “The Jats of Punjab have been asserting their identity for long; it’s our turn now,” says Manohar Lal Mehey, an industrialist who proudly displays the Ravidasia symbol on his Mitsubishi Lancer. The movement got a fillip after the killing of a sect leader by upper caste Sikhs in Vienna, Austria, last year led to widespread violence.

The trigger wasn’t so specific in the case of Dalit entrepreneurship, which is mainly a post-1990s phenomenon. The shrinking government sector, after liberalisation was launched, reduced regular job opportunities. Simultaneously, as companies began outsourcing activities to become more competitive, avenues opened up for non-business communities.

Phulia, for instance, started as a typist at a logistics firm in Delhi but now runs a Rs 4-crore company. The son of a foreman in the Haryana state electricity board started Signet Freight Express Pvt. Ltd in 2004 with Rs 900 from his savings and Rs 12 lakh borrowed from friends and relatives.

He remembers how a colleague in an office where he once worked asked him his caste. “When I said I was a chamar, he thought I was joking. Why should I joke, I asked? Why can’t I be a chamar?”

The earlier generation, he says, felt “inferior” because it didn’t know its history. “Now people are aware that a scholar such as Sant Ravidas was from our community, that our tradition is also rich. So there is pride in our caste,” says Phulia, whose three children study at a public school in Gurgaon.

Many young Dalits see business as a way of proving to themselves and the world that they are capable of earning a living with dignity as well as generating employment for others.

In a March 2010 study, Dalits in Business: Self-employed Scheduled Castes in North-West India, Jodhka found 80 per cent of the people he surveyed were in the 20-40 age group and most were first generation entrepreneurs.

Reservation in education and jobs has given a leg up to the community. But there is a reluctance to continue depending on quotas. “Reservations created a neo-middle class,” says Jodhka. “The children of those sections, who have grown up proud in middle class localities, are uncomfortable with parents wanting benefits based on quotas.”

Devanand Londhe, the son of a retired soldier who worked as a farm labourer and a watchman, studied civil engineering in Kolhapur University as a quota student. After graduating, he refused to register himself with the employment exchange. He worked as a consultant at various international organisations and then set up an export-oriented unit once he had enough money. “Yes, reservations are still important for many, but a lot of young people want to make it on their own,” he says.

Help has also come from the prosperous Dalit non resident Indians (NRIs). The Ravidasias were among the first communities to migrate to the West, points out Ronki Ram, reader, political science department, Panjab University. The deras, the sect’s sprawling complexes, have largely been funded by NRI Dalits. The diaspora has also helped spread the message of Dalit capitalism. “Dalit entrepreneurs say they want connections, not concessions,” says Prasad.

Dicci, says founder-chairman Milind Kamble, was set up in 2005 because mainstream business chambers couldn’t understand the problems Dalits faced. Dalits, he stresses, need communication and marketing skills as well as networking opportunities. So, in early June, Kamble and Prasad arranged for 10 Dalit entrepreneurs to make presentations to Tata Motors on how they could be part of the automobile major’s supply chain.

There is a frank acknowledgment that Dalits will have to look out for their own — 42 per cent of the respondents in Jodhka’s study admitted that they faced discrimination in business (63 per cent said they faced it in their personal lives). “We feel discriminated as Dalits even today,” says Nagrare.

But Bhaskar has a different take. “Failures always look for excuses. If I have not succeeded in something, I will look within myself for weaknesses. I will not blame my caste.”

Sushil Kumar, a school dropout who is now the managing director of Ghaziabad-based Simlex Engineers Pvt. Ltd, agrees. “We as a community are victims of discrimination even today, but I don’t believe in looking back. I know that I can make a difference and I am trying it here.”

Could the multiple strands of Dalit movements come together and help the community realise its potential? And give rise to more Bhaskars who refuse to be burdened by their caste? “I don’t want to prove anything to anyone,” he says. “I just want to look at myself with respect when I see myself in the mirror.”

Crtsy: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100905/jsp/7days/story_12898243.jsp


ROLE OF CASTE IN THE INDIAN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SECTOR

23/07/2010

THE ROLE OF CASTE IN THE INDIAN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SECTOR

Survey of Indian Information Technology Professionals

Hello. My name is Dr. Marilyn Fernandez, Professor of Sociology at Santa Clara University in California, U.S.A. I am conducting a study of professionals who work in Indian information technology companies. I would very much appreciate it if you would answer all of the following questions below. Please remember that there are neither right nor wrong answers to these questions. Please respond based on your experiences. Your honest responses would be greatly appreciated.

Your responses will be kept confidential and anonymous and will be presented only in the aggregate. This data will become the basis for a book that I’m writing. Thank you for your help in this project. If you have any questions, I can be reached at mfernandez@scu.edu

Please go to www.scu.edu/survey/?s=260 where you will find the survey. Your password is ITSURVEY (IN CAPS).  It will take you approximately 20 minutes to complete the survey. Thank you, again, for sharing your work experiences with me.