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Essence of freedom: What independence means to dalits of India

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By Kanika Rangray

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.
   -Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister’s first speech to an “independent India”

india-flag-300x183This 68th year of Independence, we celebrate the day when our country became a democratic republic. Remembering that this day is a gift to us by those martyrs who happily sacrificed themselves for a brighter and independent future of the people of India.

It is on this day that we need to contemplate, are we truly independent. Does this independence belong to all of us equally? Has this independence spread its wings to the lower strata of our society, to the Dalits of India?

The Dalits of India

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

When we talk about the dalits in India, it would be extremely negligent if Dr. B. R. Ambedkar is not mentioned. The first law minister of “independent India” and the principal architect of the Indian Constitution, Ambedkar also belonged to a Dalit caste. This in itself is a mirror of how knowledge, talent and success do not limit itself to the boundaries of caste. Then why does mentality limit itself so, naming a particular section or community in the society as “untouchables” or dalits.

Dalits, or Scheduled Castes (SC) as they are called legally, are a mixed population, consisting of groups across South Asia. They speak a variety of languages and practice various religions. According to the 2011 census, 16.6 percent of the Indian population belong in the SC category.

According to a 2014 report to the Ministry of Minority Affairs by Amitabh Kundu, 33.8 percent of SC population in rural India and 21.8 percent in urban areas, were living below the poverty line in 2011-12.

Education

Talking about education, a 2014 report by The IndiaGoverns Research Institute says that dalits constitute nearly half of primary school dropouts. They are given scholarships only if they are able to provide photographs of their family members working in traditional occupations.

Among state schools, 88 percent discriminated against dalit children, while 79 percent made dalit students sit at the back of the classrooms. This is not all, in 79 percent of the schools, dalit children are forbidden from touching mid-day meals; in 35 percent schools, they’re expected to sit separately at lunch, and in 28 percent they are required to eat with specially marked plates. The discrimination does not end here. In high schools, higher caste students are more than often advised to not acquaint themselves with the dalits.

The report also revealed about incidents of dalit teachers and professors being discriminated against and harassed by authorities, upper caste colleagues, and not to mention by upper caste students as well in different education institutes of India.

Health

Old_man_near_Jaura,_M.P.,_IndiaThe discrimination against SCs has also penetrated in the health sector. Medical field workers do not visit 65 percent of dalit settlements, 47 percent are not allowed entry into ration depots, 64 percent are given less grains than non-dalits, and 52 percent are given grain from a distance.

Crime

In an atmosphere where discrimination against dalits penetrates too deep; it is not exactly surprising to note that this particular caste or community is also an easy target of crime. Every 18 minutes, a dalit becomes the target of a crime—three women raped every day, 13 murdered every week, 27 atrocities every day, six kidnapped every week.

In order to curb crime against dalits, the Indian government introduced the 1989 Prevention of Atrocities Act (POA). It denoted specific crimes against dalits as “atrocities” and created reciprocal punishment for the same. The list of atrocities included humiliations such as the forced consumption of noxious substances, forced labour, denial of access to water and other public amenities, and sexual abuse among others. The Act permitted Special Courts to try POA cases; it called upon states with high level of caste violence to appoint qualified officers to monitor and maintain law and order.

But unfortunately, the implementation of this act has been very poor. Only two states created the above mentioned special courts, and there was a marked resistance and unwillingness in policemen to register offences under the act.

Politics

Lotshampa_refugees_in_Beldangi_CampPrejudices against dalits have also entered in the political system of the country. There are anti-dalit groups like the extremist militia Ranvir Sena, run by upper-caste landlords in Bihar. The group is against equal treatment of dalits and has resorted to violence. Looking at it as compensation, the government of India treats this group as a terrorist organisation. Political parties look upon the dalit community as vote banks, which they need to gather to win elections, the community whose support and trust they wish to win before the opposition party is able to do so.

From above facts, it is clear that politicians have degraded the Indian citizen to vote banks, simply because they belong to that section of the society which is counted among the minorities.

In Sanskrit, the word ‘dalit’ means suppressed, smashed, broken to pieces.

This 69th Independence day, this 68th year of independence celebration, and all that a dalit can say: We are still dalit, still broken, still suppressed.

Even so, the dalit community can still light a candle of hope by remembering one of Dr. Ambedkar’s statements:

“My final words of advice to you are educate, agitate and organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is a battle of freedom. It is a battle for the reclamation of human personality.”

The dalits can in the true sense of word celebrate Independence Day, on that eve when there would no longer be a system—legal or social—which would look down upon them or pity them because they are dalits; by all means when they are no longer dalits.

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JNU Ideologues are Spewing hate in the name of Dissent and nurturing Anti-India ideologies

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JNU
JNU has become den for left politics. VOA
  • By Amit Srivastava

Sep 16, 2017: With the help of media propaganda and public opinion manufacturers, JNU has become an epitome of left politics – Viciously nurturing the anti-India ideologies and placing them into state establishment through their sympathizers.

They hate a lot of things that are Indian or having Indian identities. Their perpetual anathema is cleverly placed with covert name of ‘dissent’. It would be interesting to know, how they instill a failed and violent ideology like Marxism through inroads of hate.

Before 93rd amendment for OBC quota in higher education, JNU had very progressive admission policy with weightage number for backward districts, castes and also for women. Though these deprivation points still exist, but since half of admission is done on caste lines, these points are less relevant now. Owing to its admission policy and standard entrance exam, JNU has been providing excellent higher education opportunity for the students from remote rural areas at par with metro educated students.

Ironically, left parties with help of communist faculty members also exploit this opportunity as they get fresh cadres who could easily get disconnected caused by the language difficulties, cultural shock and administrative difficulties. A person with deeply rooted Indian value system won’t accept valueless violent ideology of Marx. Brainwashing such person is not easy. Hence the process of indoctrination begins with very first day of admission at JNU.

Earlier, admission process in JNU was cumbersome and lengthy. Comrades used to catch new comers in the name of admission assistance. Now, this opportunity is lost as there is single window admission process is adopted by JNU administration. Another step to trap the new comers is artificial scarcity of hostel. You are on their mercy of ‘these seniors’ who offer you to stay with them. And sometimes 6-7 students stay in 10-by-15 hostel rooms. More freshers in one comrade’s room means more problem, hence more opportunity to brainwash them.

First stage of abomination start with inciting new-comers to hate individuals including hating own self. This hate is designed to suit the social conflict theory of communism. If you are a general category student, you must hate yourself for being born in ‘upper caste’ and must accept it wholeheartedly than only you would be ‘ready’ to abuse political opponents on caste line.

If you are from OBC-SC-ST and Minority, you must hate those ‘upper caste’ guys living with you in the same campus, no matter they’re even poorer or more deprived than you. Irrespective of rationality and humanity, you must hate them; because they’re born in bourgeoisie castes, and you should assume yourself as proletariat, even if you are richer and dominate than most of them. This hate is mandatory. Selective crimes are extrapolated to justify it. Incidents like Khailanji, where Dalits were burned alive, are used to consolidate this hate. But details of culprits are purposefully hidden and ignored as they don’t belong to ‘general caste’ and this may derail the hate direction.

Minority students have to hate Hindu co-students as per the conditioning of the leftist mentors. Hindus are blamed for their all problems. OBC-SC-STs are encouraged to hate Hinduism too. If there are complacent with it, they’re encouraged to shun Hinduism and accept more exploitative Islam, Christianity or atheism. At same time, Muslims and Christians students are encouraged to be more religious and fanatic for their respective faith. This is why JNU communists encourage Islamic or Christian festivals but gets reprimanded if students celebrate Hindu festivals in the campus.

This abhorrence has another intense level of inculcation. Female students from remotely rural areas are too attached with their families. Girls won’t be a good ‘recruiting’, ‘facilitating’ and a devoted comrade, until they respect family system and existing social ethics of the society. Hence, they’re taught that they’re the master of their own body. Their vagina belongs to them and their father has no right to say with whom they shall sleep. This typical teaching is very crucial and preached through woman comrades in very delicate ways by living with them, fanaticizing with them with instilling a false sense of empowerment and freedom among them… only to sexually exploit them for own leaders or an allurement for the new recruits.

JNU’s left ideologues are not limited to a close campus. Congress governments have been giving them important posts in order to devise new divide-and-rule policies. After debacle of 2014, these master-less Maoists of JNU are left with no one to support. Their political existence was long gone.  Post General Elections 2014, they engineered several caste-riots, devouring state-funding and abusing the same state. Unfortunately, they failed into it too.

Within JNU, they opened another sister concern named ‘BAPSA’ – an organization that not only abuse Hinduism on daily basis, but also abuse the students who belong to Brahmin or ‘Savarn’ castes. The right to live with dignity for these ‘savarn caste’ students is violated by BAPSA and left-relict in name of Social Justice. Ironically, JNU administration allows such caste abuses in name of sociological studies. Much grave violation of thousands of students’ fundamental right to live with dignity is violated every day.

However, these avant-garde social terrorists still think that they can potentially harm the ruling BJP party by taking Bhimrao Ambedkar’s name. Now a days, Student wing of Naxalites, DSU used ‘Jai Bhim’ along with ‘Lal Salam’ in order to immunize itself from the responsibility of offending content it circulate within JNU campus. It is high time for Ministry of Human Resource Development and JNU administration to stop the violation of personal dignity of students. We must not allow the abuses and exploitations just for the sake of intellectual pleasure and useless showoff of tiny campus victory.

Amit can be reached at Twitter @amisri


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

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“Ants Among Elephants” by Indian-Origin Author Sujatha Gidla is Creating Waves in the US

Interview with Sujatha Gidla, who recently wrote a memoir capturing the life of Dalit community in India

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Dalit Women protesting against exploitation
Dalit Women protesting against exploitation. Wikimedia
  • Many instances of discrimination and humiliation that she and her family were customarily subjected to
  • This Independence was not real independence, it was only transfer of power
  • Caste-based discrimination is uniquely cruel

New York, USA, August 27, 2017:  The nation has just celebrated Independence Day with great pomp and fervor but does this special occasion evoke similar sentiments among the Dalits living in the country? No, contends an Indian-origin author Sujatha Gidla, who was born an “untouchable” and is now creating waves in US literary circles with a provocative memoir capturing the life of her community in India.

Until recently, Sujatha Gidla was just another New Yorker, working as a conductor on the City Subway. But her recent memoir, “Ants among Elephants: : An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India”, which not only details her memories of growing up as a Dalit woman in India but also lists the many instances of “discrimination and humiliation” that she and her family were customarily subjected to, has thrust her into the limelight.

On how she responds to special occasions like Independence Day, the author said that, as children, they would admire iconic figures like Gandhi and Nehru, and celebrate the day but things changed gradually as they become more aware.

ALSO READ: Religious minorities, Dalits face discrimination in India: A report by US Commission on International Religious Freedom

“When I joined the RSU (Radical Students Union) we were told that (this) Independence was not real independence, that it was only transfer of power. And now we don’t feel anything because we are not made to feel that we are Indians like other Indians.

“It is the same thing in the universities where I studied. I don’t have that pride of my alma mater because we were not treated as equals. None of us have that pride, not even my mother,” Gidla told IANS in an email interview from New York.

The author further quipped that, by and large, “this is not independence” for members of her community.

“There have been many types of discrimination in various parts of the world. As far as I know, caste discrimination is uniquely cruel. There is racism in America, but I will never compare it with caste and rather say that caste is much worse.

“I will also say this: Blacks here are murdered, they have been lynched. But I have never read about another place where untouchables are fed excreta, made to drink urine and paraded naked. Even under slavery, the slave owners took care to feed their slaves in order to keep them fit to work. Untouchables in India never even had that,” Gidla said.

Sujatha Gidla reiterated that untouchability is neither a religious nor a cultural problem. It is rather a social problem and that there has to be “some sort of fundamental change”; otherwise the Dalits will “continue to suffer”.

Elaborating on the “suffering” that she repeatedly mentions in the book, Gidla said most Dalits in India, particularly those trying to fight against the caste system, live under constant duress due to verbal attacks and the threat of physical violence.

“Our neighbors in India have been actively trying to kick my mom out of her apartment. Her (upper) caste colleagues hate the fact that her daughter wrote a successful book.”

“That is the irony; we cannot even celebrate the publication of the book because we are afraid that it will make people around us unhappy. Even fellow untouchables are not posting it on social media for fear of being exposed to their colleagues and (upper) caste friends as untouchables,” she elaborated.

Also Read: Dr. Kallol Guha: Anglophonic Education will not uplift Dalits

Gidla’s grandparents converted to Christianity at the onset of the 20th century and were educated at Canadian missionary schools. She too, with the help of Canadian missionaries, studied physics at the Regional Engineering College in Warangal, in what is Telangana today. She was also a researcher in applied physics at IIT-Madras.

Gidla initially worked as a developer in software design, then moved to banking but lost her job in 2009 during the economic crisis. Finally, she took up the job of a conductor at the New York Subway.

This book, Gidla said, initially began as an investigation into the caste system but finally took the shape of a memoir as her family members also enriched its pages with their personal experiences and reflections.

So what would bring “freedom” in the true sense to Gidla and her family, as also to over 300 million Dalits in India?

“True freedom is equal access to everything in society -education, jobs, etc. When that is achieved, the prejudices will begin to disappear, but only gradually, not instantaneously. Without having equal access to economic betterment all these words about caste being an evil practice or we should treat untouchables with respect are meaningless,” she maintained.

The book has been published in the US by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan publishers, and is yet to hit the Indian market. (IANS)

 

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Unprecedented Moment in History: Niagara Falls in Canada Lit Up in Tricolor on Independence Day

The iconic Niagara Falls, which marks the international border between the United States and Canada lit up in tricolour

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Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls lit up in tricolor. Twitter

New Delhi, Aug 18, 2017: Canada’s fascinating waterfalls, the Niagara falls on August 15 brightened in saffron, white and green to celebrate the 71st Independence Day of India.

The world’s most astonishing waterfalls appeared even more spectacular as the Indian tri colours irradiated.

Vikas Swarup, the former spokesperson of the MEA and currently the High Commissioner of India to Canada shared the bewitching moment through his twitter handle. Swarup on Wednesday took to Twitter and shared a post along with a picture.

 

Dinesh Bhatia, Consulate General of India in Toronto also shared the video of the striking view of Niagara falls via his twitter account.

 

 

Bhatia also shared another twitter post with several photos of the beautiful sight in which he wrote:

 

This is the unprecedented moment in the history that the iconic Niagara Falls, which marks the international border between the United States and Canada illuminated in tricolour.

An exciting point about this imposing moment that has now been observed in history is that the man behind colouring the wonder beauty is an Indian from Kerala.

According to TOI, Sibu Nair who works as an administrator at the University of Buffalo, New York is the impelling force behind this initiative. On August 11, he asserted, “Niagara waterfalls will be illuminated in the colours of the Indian national flag on August 15 for 15 minutes, from 10-10.15 pm, New York time. We are very much excited about it.”


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.