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Thoughts of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar On India’s National Security      Dr. Vijay S. Khare
RSS threat to Dalit Christians & Muslims    Dr. John Dayal

AAJA SOCHLE…    Nageswara Rao Thamanam Chittibabu Padavala

Whither Went Sovereignty? Debated

The Legend of Tejinder Singh Sibia

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Martin Luther King Jr.
109TH CONGRESS OF USA CONDEMNED MOHANDAS GANDHI AND HIS RACISM
http://congress-of-usa-condemned-mohandas-gandhi-his-racism/

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Pali shown
the door in Buddha’s Land



http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2013/11/24/pali-shown-the-door-in-buddhas-land/
The Un­ion Pub­lic Serv­ice Com­mis­sion (UPSC) of In­dia re­cent­ly re­moved the an­cient Pali lan­guage from the list of pre­scri­bed op­tion­al lan­guag­es of the main en­trance ex­ami­na­tion of the In­di­an Ad­min­is­tra­tive Serv­ice (IAS), al­so com­mon­ly known as the In­di­an Civ­il Serv­ice. This came as a shock­ing move to many, as Pali is con­sid­ered as the sec­ond pop­u­lar lan­guage amongst IAS can­di­dates.  How­ev­er dur­ing the tur­bu­lence which oc­cur­red fol­low­ing this in­ci­dent, pro­fes­sors and teach­ers spe­cial­is­ing in the Pali lan­guage in In­dia learnt that Pali which is in­dig­e­nous to the In­di­an sub­con­ti­nent and the lan­guage in which Bud­dha dis­closed the Dham­ma (which is al­so the lan­guage of the Bud­dhist Can­on) Pali has not been rec­og­nised as an In­di­an clas­si­cal and na­tion­al lan­guage. This promp­ted many Bud­dhists liv­ing around the world to sad­ly ac­cuse the In­di­an Gov­ern­ment of giv­ing step-moth­er­ly treat­ment to the Bud­dha’s lan­guage in his own coun­try.
Pro­fes­sor and Head of the De­part­ment of Pali and Bud­dhist Stud­ies in Ba­nares Sid­dharth Singh ad­dress­ing a me­dia brief­ing on this mat­ter in Co­lom­bo last week said this ac­tion dis­cri­mi­na­ted Bud­dhists in In­dia on both re­li­gious and eth­nic grounds.
” Re­mov­al of Pali is a great dam­age to Bud­dhist stud­ies and the un­der­stand­ing of Bud­dhism in Bud­dha’s moth­er­land. Pali is the foun­da­tion to un­der­stand­ing Bud­dhism. So this move of the In­di­an gov­ern­ment should be op­posed “

“The sen­ti­ments of the Bud­dhists in In­dia have been hurt through this act. We wrote to the In­di­an Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh, to the lead­er of the op­po­si­tion and to the mem­bers of the Ra­jya and Lok Sab­ha about this great in­jus­tice. But so far they have not giv­en any rea­son or a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the re­mov­al of Pali from the In­di­an civ­il serv­ice ex­ami­na­tion. Re­mov­al of Pali is a great dam­age to Bud­dhist stud­ies and the un­der­stand­ing of Bud­dhism in Bud­dha’s moth­er­land. Pali is the foun­da­tion to un­der­stand­ing Bud­dhism. So this move of the In­di­an gov­ern­ment should be op­posed,” Singh said.

“  I be­lieve this act is an ef­fort to take venge­ance from the Sched­uled Caste peo­ple and stop the spread­ing of Bud­dhism in In­dia. To­day In­dia is talk­ing about the hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions of Sri Lan­ka. But how can they criti­cise Sri Lan­ka, when they them­selves are vi­o­lat­ing the hu­man rights of the Bud­dhist com­mun­i­ty liv­ing in In­dia?  “
He fur­ther ex­plained that this move of the In­di­an gov­ern­ment could re­sult in In­dia los­ing in­ter­na­tion­al re­la­tions with the Bud­dhist na­tions around the world and that dur­ing his stay in Sri Lan­ka he plan­ned to hand a mem­o­ran­dum to the In­di­an High Com­mis­sion­er in Sri Lan­ka about this mat­ter who he ex­pects would com­mu­ni­cate the mes­sage to the In­di­an gov­ern­ment.
“We wrote to the In­di­an Prime Min­is­ter Man Mohan Singh, to the lead­er of the op­po­si­tion and to the mem­bers of the Ra­jya and Lok Sab­ha about this great in­jus­tice. But so far they have not giv­en any rea­son or a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the re­mov­al of Pali from the In­di­an civ­il serv­ice ex­ami­na­tion “

Com­ment­ing on the con­se­quen­ces of re­mov­ing Pali from the In­di­an civ­il serv­ice ex­ami­na­tion Singh said the de-list­ing of Pali may pre­vent can­di­dates con­ver­sant in Pali (who are Bud­dhists in In­dia) from sit­ting for the ex­am and join­ing the In­di­an civ­il serv­ice. He said this would al­so cause the In­di­an ad­min­is­tra­tion in­clud­ing its for­eign serv­ice to be man­ned by of­fi­cers ig­no­rant of Pali, while Bud­dhists liv­ing in In­dia would lose the state pa­tron­age they have had and the pres­er­va­tion of its few shrines and monu­ments would come to an end.
“By the re­mov­al of Pali from the list of ‘ap­proved sub­jects’, the UPSC has open­ly vio­la­ted the pro­vi­sions of the Con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia (which they had sworn to up­hold); re­mov­al of Pali con­sti­tutes vi­o­la­tion of fun­da­men­tal rights of mi­nor­i­ties (Bud­dhists less than 0.79% in In­dia) and the less priv­i­leged ‘sched­uled castes and sched­uled tribes’ pro­tec­ted by the con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia. The UPSC has vio­la­ted In­di­an citi­zens’ fun­da­men­tal rights on the ‘right to equal­i­ty’ that con­sti­tute ‘dis­crim­i­na­tion on grounds of re­li­gion’ vi­o­lat­ing Ar­ti­cle-16, ‘equal­i­ty of op­por­tu­ni­ty in mat­ters of pub­lic em­ploy­ment’ un­der the In­di­an Con­sti­tu­tion. De-list­ing of Pali has in­fringed the In­di­an Con­sti­tu­tion un­der ‘di­rec­tive prin­ci­ples of state pol­i­cy (ar­ti­cle 46) which states that ‘pro­mo­tion of ed­u­ca­tion­al and eco­nom­ic in­ter­ests of sched­uled castes, sched­uled tribes and oth­er weak­er sec­tions in the so­ci­ety would be pro­tec­ted from so­cial in­jus­tice and all forms of ex­ploi­ta­tion. Ar­ti­cle-335 claims of Sched­uled Castes and Sched­uled Tribes to serv­ices posts. There is al­so pro­vi­sion for mak­ing claims against the UPSC to the “Na­tion­al Com­mis­sion for the Sched­uled Castes and Sched­uled Tribes” un­der the spe­cial pro­vi­sions re­lat­ing to cer­tain classes,” Singh said.
Ja­thi­ka He­la Ur­u­maya (JHU) Par­lia­men­tar­i­an Ven. Athur­a­liye Ra­tha­na Thera who was al­so pres­ent at this press con­fer­ence said that this move of the In­di­an gov­ern­ment was a vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights against the Sched­uled Caste peo­ple liv­ing in In­dia.
“I be­lieve this act is an ef­fort to take venge­ance from the Sched­uled Caste peo­ple and stop the spread­ing of Bud­dhism in In­dia. To­day In­dia is talk­ing about the hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions of Sri Lan­ka. But how can they criti­cise Sri Lan­ka, when they them­selves are vi­o­lat­ing the hu­man rights of the Bud­dhist com­mun­i­ty liv­ing in In­dia? This is a Brah­mic Caste act based on the re­gres­sive Brah­mic ideol­o­gy of In­dia,” Ra­tha­na Thera said.
Mean­while when the Dai­ly Mir­ror con­tac­ted the Sri Lan­kan For­eign Min­is­try about this is­sue, sour­ces said they were yet to re­ceive com­pre­hen­sive in­for­ma­tion on this mat­ter.   It is sad that many peo­ple to­day con­sid­er Pali a ‘dead lan­guage’ when the ear­li­est ex­tant Bud­dhist scrip­tures are writ­ten in Pali. It was the lan­guage the Bud­dha used to dis­sem­i­nate the Dham­ma on which the whole of the Bud­dhist civ­i­li­za­tion is foun­ded. Our coun­try to­day re­mains a na­tion where sev­er­al mil­lions of Bud­dhists re­side.
To­day Bud­dhism is not on­ly a re­li­gion, but it has turned in­to a way of life. To­day the Bud­dha’s Dham­ma (which is in Pali) is not on­ly chan­ted in a rit­ual con­text by Bud­dhists all over the world, but it is al­so prac­ticed and lived in their day-to-day lives. So if Pali is a ‘dead lan­guage’ and ‘out­da­ted’ in to­day’s so­ci­ety as many con­sid­er it to be, then how come so many peo­ple around the world to­day live by this lan­guage?
Pix by War­u­na Wan­niar­ach­chi
http://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/172-opinion/36388-pali-shown-the-door-in-buddhas-land-.html
FREE ONLINE E-Nālanda Research and Practice UNIVERSITY
ART OF GIVING
68 With aroused effort to attain the highest, with a mind not sticky and lazy,
Thoroughly given up and with firm endeavour, fare alone like the single horned rhinoceros.

CLASSICAL PALI
68. âraddhaviriyo paramatthapattiyà
Alãnacitto akusãtavutti,
Daëhanikkamo thàma khalåpapanno
Eko care khaggavisàõakappo.

Pali is a classical language now the TIPITAKA is being translated to 74 languages. And all these automatically become classical.
The Brahmins right from time immemorial oppose anything they feel will affect their interest. Now it is true that majority of the educated and others started moving back to Buddhism the original religion of Jambudvipa and one fine day again it will become a majority religion and PRABUDDHA BHARATH will become reality because of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Kanshi Ram and Ms Mayawati. This is not tolerated by the brahmins hence the path followed by the Buddhist is correct.
Now is all that you have.
Throw out Congress from power and do not allow BJP to come back. Support BSP to acquire the Master Key to distribute the wealth of the Country equally among all sections of the society for their welfare, happiness and peace and also to enable them to attain eternal Bliss as their final goal. That is the only hope of the nation.
Lankaweb

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com , November 24, 2013

The iconic activist
November 29, 2010 8:29:03 PM

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Ambedkarite Bhagwan Das no more but his legacy lives on

The passing away of veteran Ambedkarite scholar Bhagwan Das on November 18 at his residence in Delhi is the closure of a great chapter in the contemporary Dalit movement. He was a close associate of Dr BR Ambedkar and lived a life of a true follower of Baba Saheb. I had the opportunity to meet him on several occasions and vouch that I remained highly impressed and in awe with his simplicity and the library of knowledge that he had on Ambedkar’s work and writing. It is, therefore, no exaggeration to term him as an encyclopedia of Ambedkarism. Scholars and activists would visit his home daily to listen to his experiences and advise on various issues concerning them, particularly the issues of Scheduled Castes. He was not a rebel rouser but proved through his meticulous writings that he was more concerned and his views were immensely important to the growth of the Ambedkar movement. Those narratives and documented work on the life and mission of Ambedkar are an inalienable part of the Dalit movement.

Born on April 23, 1927 in Simla Cantt in a sweeper family, Bhagwan Das had a remarkable journey. In 1943, Baba Saheb Ambedkar visited Simla as the Labour member of the Viceroy’s Council. Members of the Scheduled Caste Federation went to meet him. It was time for young Bhagwan Das to make an effort to meet the man who his father termed as ‘Ummedkar’, a man of hope for the untouchables. He waited for three to four hours to meet Ambedkar. Finally, he was able to meet him, who inquired about him and ‘what did he want’. Bhagwan Das narrated his story to Ambedkar and within 15 days, young Bhagwan got an appointment letter from the labour division for the post of a clerk. He got frustrated with the intrigue inside the department and left the job. He then applied for job in the Royal Indian Force where he served for several years, but could not continue as it was difficult to keep away from family and due to the low wages.

He came back to Delhi and joined CAG office at the Kapurthala House. In Delhi, he came in touch with Shiv Dayal Singh Chaurasia who was a member of the Backward Classes Commission. As a member of the commission, Chaurasia had written a dissenting note in which he was helped by Bhagwan Das. When Baba Saheb Ambedkar saw him and his command over the English language, he asked him to assist him in his work, despite the fact that Nanak Chand Rattu was already assisting him. But Ambedkar always respected intellect and hard work and that is what he found in Bhagwan Das.

Much before the Maharashtra Government could publish volumes of Ambedkar’s writing, it was Bhagwan Das who decided to bring out these important volumes in the form of “Thus Spake Ambedkar”. It is remarkable to see these well edited volumes which delight us with Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s sharp analytical mind.

It was a great opportunity for me to have heard his counseling on various occasions. For me, just an association with Dr Ambedkar made him a legend. He had tremendous knowledge about different castes and their issues. Undoubtedly, after Dr Ambedkar, he was the one of the most read persons in the community who spoke on contemporary issues with great command and conviction of ideas. Though, he was most concerned about the schedule castes in general, yet often he spoke about the marginalisation of ‘Bhangis’.

Unfortunately, the usage of the term Bhangi made him unpopular among many of his own folk who started using Balmiki as their surnames under the sanskritisation process. His book Main Bhangi Hoon became popular yet the community leaders never ever thought of involving him in their issues. He referred to Baba Saheb and his support to the cause of scavengers in Punjab. According to him, it was the bhangis who invited Baba Saheb to Punjab and facilitated him for his work.

Bhagwan Das represented the cause of untouchables at various international forums. He could eloquently speak on the Burakomin community of Japan as well as untouchable sin in Pakistan and Bangladesh in the same breathe.

Today, the issue of the Dalits is an international thing and many people are claiming to take credit for that. Yet the path-breaking ground work was done by Bhagwan Das, as there were not many civil society organisations taking interests in the Dalit cause that time.

Posted on December 2, 2010
SUCCESS STORY:
AN INTERVIEW WITH

ABHAY XAXA
Ambedkartimes started a new column “Success Stories or any Achievements” and recently we updated Gursharan Bains’s achievement and now we are sharing about Mr. Abhay Xaxa forwaded by Mr. Anoop Kumar ('This interview was published in www.scststudents.org"). Once again if any one would like to share their stories or achievements with us, please e-mail us and we would be happy to share it on the website. Thank you.
Takshila Chumber
Abhay Xaxa, age 34, born and brought up in Jashpur District of Chhattisgarh, is a researcher-activist based in Delhi. He is currently with Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, working on the status report of Adivasi in India after completing his post graduation in Anthropology from University of Sussex. At the very young age, Abhay became part of the Adivasi movement and in this interview he shares his struggle, vision and dreams towards the empowerment of his community.

I am from a village called Chitkawine from the state of Chhattisgarh. Both my parents were first graduates from our community. My father was in the law profession and later went on to become one of the first Adivasi Judges in the state of Madhya Pradesh. However, he lost his position as a Judge and was terminated. After this we were left with nothing and had to come back to our ancestral land and start from the scratch.

My mother discontinued her studies and had to take care of household chores. I also had to leave my studies for some time. But now both my brother and I are law graduates. Both my sisters are well educated and are into teaching profession. My brother has become a Judge just last year.

How old were you when your father had to leave his position as Judge?

This happened in 1990. I was in IX std, whereas my younger brother was in Vth std and sister was studying in 1st standard so we were all quite young when this happened.

What about your schooling? Where did you do your Matric and Intermediate from?

I studied in Loyola Higher Secondary School, Kunkuri; an old missionary school. This was known as ‘Adivasi’ school as around 90% of the students were from tribal background. Then I went to do my B.Com from Rani Durgavati University, Jabalpur (MP) as this city is one of centres for higher education in MP.

I had to choose commerce stream due to some funny assumptions of my school that forced students to take admission in Sciences if they score relatively high and Arts was for ‘lesser’ beings. I was interested in Arts subject and wanted to pursue my higher education in that stream. However, I got 65 % in my Matric and therefore the school authorities refused to give me admission in Arts (laughs). Then I had to choose commerce for my Intermediate as I was not much interested to do sciences.

During this period, you were quite involved with the students’ politics?

Yes I was quite involved as I got the opportunity to stay in Adivasi hostel that was simmering with Adivasi consciousness and many of my friends, seniors were quite active there. We had our own Adivasi students’ union which took up discrimination cases against tribal students quite seriously.

From my second year onwards I took a deep plunge in working for the group and mobilising Adivasi students on different issues. We also worked very well as pressure group and never hesitated to protest and gheroed even the District Collector who used to delay our scholarship grants.

Apart from the students’ issues, we were also engaged with the larger issues like the monopoly and economic exploitation done by outsiders mostly non-Adivasi businessmen and money lenders. You might not even have an idea how exploitative they are. They openly cheat our people and maintain strong stranglehold on our people.

And with their money power, they also manipulate all the politicians and district administration very easily. Most of the Adivasi household are at their mercy. During our group meetings, we used to discuss and visualise on how to intervene in such scenario. How to face these money lenders and businessmen who are exploiting our people?

What motivated you to participate actively with the Adivasi students group?

I think one of the reasons was high dropout rates of my fellow Adivasi students. Since my early school days, I witnessed my friends, many of them much talented and studious, leaving their studies one by one. The only reason being their poverty. They started working in agricultural fields but most of them used to migrate to big towns in search for jobs to be able to feed their families back home.

To be able to continue studies and stay in Adivasi hostel, they just needed to give 100 kg of rice and 20 kg of pulses per year but that too they could not afford. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to complete my studies, though with some breaks in between due to finances. I think this issue created a deep impact in my mind and I was always very conscious about this and as I grow up I started looking for the answers.

Also my father losing his job as a judge was something that has huge impact on all my family members. We had to come back to our ancestral place and suddenly my family was not even in position to pay for my schools. But above that my father’s long and lonely battle against the system remains deep rooted in my psyche.

What actually happened with your father? How did he lose his job as a Judge?

As I mentioned earlier, my father was one of the first Adivasi Judge of Madhya Pradesh and was about to get promoted to the High Court when few of his ‘upper’ caste subordinates conspired and got him suspended on flimsy grounds. He was a very hard working man and this was such a huge shock for him and all of us.

He fought against these charges for the next 12 years in different courts but lost the case and was terminated from the judicial services. No one from the legal fraternity came to his support and he was left alone fighting and finally losing the battle. At that time this issue did not seem to us as one of discrimination and prejudice against a fellow colleague who was also an Adivasi but more of personal vendetta of few individuals.

But with times, I realised what had actually happened to my father. Perhaps they were not used to see an Adivasi occupying a high seat, perhaps this was the only mistake my father had committed – to become a judge despite his Adivasi background.

By the time, I reached college I was very angry and bitter against the injustice that happened at personal level and could see the same happening to our entire community in different forms. Therefore, it was but natural that I joined the Adivasi students’ movement.

However, I must say that despite going through this very rough phase in life, with father’s court trials and all, we were still in better position as compared to majority of Adivasi students. My problems are nothing compared to what they face.

Thanks so much for sharing this Abhay. What were the precise issues your students’ group took up while you were actively involved there?

During my first year of college only, I was selected as one of the official members of Adivasi Student Union. Most of the issues we used to take up were related to the practical needs of our students.

We fought for issues like proper implementation of government schemes for Adivasi students so as to prevent the dropout rates like scholarships, allotment of kerosene oil for our students, to run local study centres, to run discussion groups to strategise for empowerment of our communities and fought with administration on any case of discrimination against Adivasi students.

Then there were some larger issues that we have to deal like the infiltration of RSS in our area. You know, the district of Jashpur is called the laboratory of Vanvashi Kalyan Ashram which is a subsidiary body of RSS. This was set up with the sole intention of drawing the Adivasi into Hindu fold and to communally polarise Adivasis as there is a strong presence of Adivasi Christians in this area. As an Adivasi student group, we tried to resist them but we had to pay a huge price.

What happened?

One of our group members and a fellow student John Kerketta was dragged out of his home, while he was in his village on a holiday, by 200 RSS goons and after beating him mercilessly, they lynched him in front of everyone. This was in the year 1994. This was shocking for all of us. We tried to organise ourselves for justice.

We decided to circulate pamphlets and mobilise more people, make them aware that such a thing has happened. Then we wrote our demand about how the case might be investigated, about proper compensation, about bringing killers to task and tried to circulate them. But by that time the environment had become so vicious and difficult that we could not even campaign.

We could not even distribute the pamphlets there but we went to Jashpur and other nearby areas and distributed the pamphlets. The next 3-4 months were very tough for us and all of us were shocked by the brutality of the act and also of our helplessness to ensure justice. This incident forced us to start analysing about these issues, how to prevent them in future and why such things happen to our people only.

The students group was also very much concerned about the economic exploitation of the Adivasis by outsiders and moneylenders. You see, all these issues are quite interlinked and cannot be fought unless our community becomes strong in every sense.

What were the strategies/initiatives your group came out?

Apart from education, economic factors are one of the most important one for empowerment of any community. One way to challenge the non-Adivasi hegemony and the economic exploitation done by baniyas and other outsiders is to run a parallel economy and compete with them. I thought why not to put my theoretical commerce knowledge into practice.

We came to know about SC/ST Finance Co-operation being set up in Madhya Pradesh then. It was giving loans for setting up business for SC/ST. There was a scheme under which one has to pay a down payment of 25000/- and get a commander jeep as taxi. Since I had some idea of commerce, I knew accounts; I decided to take the thought of economic empowerment into action. I was just 22 years then.

We went to the SC/ST Finance Co-operation, raised 25,000 Rs through loans at much higher interest rate than bank and applied there. After some lobbying, we did get a Commander Jeep as taxi. One of my friends volunteered to become a driver.

We took that to Kunkuri, one of the tehsil in Jashpur district where there were 40 jeeps already plying as taxi and controlled by people from non-Adivasi background, almost all from Hindu baniya background. They used to cheat us big time and I know of an Adivasi family that had to sell their land to be able to pay for taking one of their family members to a hospital in Ranchi. All these were our money, which they were earning and then using that against us . But our people had no options other than to go to these baniyas.

Within 2-3 months after plying our own taxi we started flourishing and became the market leader as we charged correctly without cheating our people. All the village elders came to know about our taxi and started hiring us. This news spread far and wide and 16 of our youth came and joined us. We had formed a union and our business became much stronger.

In the 8th month we bought another second hand jeep but the best was when five of our community people brought their own vehicle and put it under our agency. They realised that this was the only way to prove our worth before the hegemony of non-Adivasi businessmen.

Within one year, our group was able to support many of our young boys and girls to start small businesses like vegetable vendors and stationery shops. The whole idea was to groom the young Adivasi entrepreneurs. It was not only the issue of profit making and economics but a sense of solidarity; an issue of justice was also involved in it.

Then came politics. When we start business, politics can’t be far behind.

So your group participated in electoral politics too?

As I mentioned, the dominance and exploitation against Adivasis is all pervasive. It is through the money power only that we get manipulated even in the political sphere. Then there was lot of harassment from the local police. They used to come and ask for ‘hafta’ otherwise they used to threaten us of arresting us for selling illegal liquor. We understood that you can’t do business without politics and politics without business.

So, we thought that we need our people in politics too. One of our teacher expressed his desire to fight the election (panchayat election), a very prestigious post. Our group of entrepreneurs promised to back his candidature. So we went to village after village for campaigning with our jeeps. And for the first time the Adivasi leader defeated a non-Adivasi candidate. When the results came, that day I cried like anything. It was such an amazing feeling. We had pushed out limits and emptied our pockets to be able to savour this feeling. This happened in 1996.

However this excitement was too short-lived as within no time we witnessed that our leader sold himself to the same baniya candidate against whom we fought so hard and won. This was one very cruel lesson that we had at a relatively young age. Later I came to know that our candidate got manipulated as he had taken a loan of Rs 5000 from that baniya and was not able to repay back even after many years.

In between, what happened to your studies?

It was only after this incident that I thought to go back to my studies which I had been neglecting for so long. Also I was too much engrossed in the politics and could not concentrate on the agency which was then managed by some of my friends who probably were not so experienced and we suffered huge losses. Our taxi met with an accident, the reason is still unknown.

Also this election news gained too much prominence and brought big political players like Ajit Jogi who was then Rajya Sabha member and was raising the demand for Adivasi CM in Madhya Pradesh. He came to our village and declared that he would fight the next Lok Sabha elections from there. He even met our youngsters and interacted with them.

I also started getting lot of political offers, even from established national political groups like Congress for the seat of MLA. All these were very tempting offers but I somehow declined them as I knew I would become a puppet in other’s hands. I knew, I would be used and abused like anything. I knew it as I saw our candidate changing within 24 hours of his getting elected.

That was the time I thought to go back to my studies. I cleared my B.Com with IInd division and then joined a law college at Jabalpur as a part time student. Now I could see the importance of education as a tool of our emancipation which didn’t even occur to me earlier.

After completing your graduation, why did you choose to go for part time law course not the regular one?

My immediate needs were about my own livelihood and security and also one needs to equip oneself well. This world is not simple, it is very much complex. You need to learn the tricks to survive as a young Adivasi activist. For the next three years, I worked with local organisations that were dealing with Adivasi empowerment and development while simultaneously carrying on my studies for Law.

This was the time when Chhattisgarh was created out of MP (year 2000). By that time I completed my Law course and I saw lot of scope to work effectively in the newly emerged Chhattisgarh.

How much you scored in Law?

I cleared LLB with good second Division.

What were your plans then?

I saw lot of scope in Raipur (the capital of the new Chhattisgarh state) to work for the interventions in state policies, to prepare documents and do advocacy. I thought this was the right time for any Adivasi group to influence the policy makers.

So we formed a group called CART - Chhattisgarh Research Team, in Raipur. Due to my past experiences of grassroots, I was able to analyse the policy impacts and also lobby for the need of many concrete measures. In the meantime, we were able to rejuvenate our group once again under Young Adivasi Entrepreneurs and started replicating our previous work.

Our group again fought panchayat elections. At present 8 of our group members are sarpanchs of their village panchayats and many have become small entrepreneurs. It is such a nice feeling to see young Adivasis growing in different fields including mainstream politics.

What is the present situation there in the area where your group is most active?

Kunkuri, the place from where I hail, is a tehsil in Jashpur district. There I did my studies, later did business and also did politics all in Kunkuri. With the formation of our group, you can see some improvement in the economic situation. There are number of our people who are doing small business and some are engaged in mainstream politics.

Many youth have come up now. But the dominance of non-Adivasis is still very strong and cannot be changed suddenly. We still have to go a very long way against their dominance but they do feel challenged now.

Coming back to your school and college days, most of us, Dalit and Adivasi students have to go through lot of identity crisis. Listening to you, we know this is not the right question to ask to you but still what was it like to be an Adivasi student inside the school and college premises?

During my graduation, I just used to go and give the exams. The college was a general college, hostel was for Adivasis and faculties were all ‘upper’ caste Hindus. After my exams, I never even used to see their faces. So I am not the right person to comment on life inside the college. See, I know, I have seen the problems, which I had tackled and responded in my own way.

But I do still remember my school days and do feel much luckier than my friends who have to leave their education to earn for living. Many of them were more talented than me and would have achieved much more if they got the chances to continue their studies. Whenever I visit my home, I go and meet them. Most of them work in agricultural fields; some have even joined the army as sepoys.

So your question of identity is something for me and will mean something else for them, my friends. I only know that if they had resources, they would have been more prosperous.

Also I feel that it was good for me that I didn’t study in big places like JNU or Delhi University. Coming from my background, when I hear news about JNU or DU, it really scares me. I used to think that such things happen only in Chhattisgarh!

As a student you were engaged in lot of action - economic, political, advocacy, mobilisation, student groups, then how you shifted towards academics and even went abroad for higher studies?

When Chhattisgarh was formed, I came in contact with some mainstream NGOs like Ekta Parishad, Bharat Jan Andolan, Nadi Ghati Morcha. These are groups fighting on the issues of land rights, forest rights, especially for the Adivasis.

This was a completely different world for me – different from the kind of activism that I had done, without any banner, by standing in front of collector offices etc. These are completely professional set-ups. I learnt many things by working with them like how a campaign is planned, how documentations happen, how advocacy is done in a professional manner.

Moreover my past experiences and activities also helped me to understand the political dynamics within these organisations as I had better exposure than most of the activists who were basically outsiders. In meetings people would be surprised when I used to give suggestions, they used to ask how such things come from my mouth!

For that they needed to understand we both did campaigns but these operated in different worlds!

At the end of the day, I learnt that the issues they were raising were ours but the leadership will always remain with non-Adivasis and we will always be foot soldiers. For them it is like business. I was totally against this.

So I tried to shift and during that period, I developed habit of reading pretty well. Then I got couple of research projects to understand the issue of bonded labour in Chhattisgarh and Orissa. That was my first step into academics. Not academics in proper sense, but a kind of action research. This also gave me an opportunity to visit Delhi. This again was a completely new world for me.

During one of such visits to Delhi I came to know about the Ford Foundation’s International Fellowship Programme for scholar activists from some particular states. Just out of curiosity, I filled up the form and applied. My research work on bonded labour was also at the finishing stage.

Fortunately I got selected and was provided full scholarship to do my post-graduation at University of Sussex, UK, in 2007. I choose anthropology as my subject there even without having any background, just in order to know what non-Adivasis have written about us (laughs).

What was your experience at International Ford Fellowship selection process?

They were shocked to see my profile – all this mixture. They asked me you are still exploring and want to study Anthropology? I told them whatever previous education I had, it was not a waste. All fields are used when it is required. In the selection process, I came to interact with so many students and activists from across the country and got to know their stories. It was on average a really good experience.

This was a 10 year programme of Ford, to select students from marginalised background (caste, class and gender wise) and from so called backward regions of the country. That was the 6th year of this programme. The news about the programme took 5 years to reach to Chhattisgarh!

After University of Sussex, you came back to India and joined Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi as a researcher in 2009. What is your plan now? What you are currently working on?

Right now, I am working with IIDS and preparing a status report on Adivasis. This is a comprehensive report that deals with various issues related with Adivasis like what type of discrimination or issues one faces while in government job, what is the status of Adivasi women, how many Adivasis are able to access the basic amenities which are supposed to be their rights. It is coming out to be a big document and has taken a lot of time but has given me a new way to look at Adivasi issues.

Regarding my plans, I thing I will like to share, to put things in perspective. I have seen the articulation of the Dalit movement, their intellectuals, their activists, students group. We need to articulate well. I find that Dalit movement has Babasaheb Ambedkar, Jotiba Phule, who had penned down their thoughts, their struggles. These are now our Bibles and are giving future direction. On the other hand, we, Adivasis have our stories, which have not been documented. We had our leaders but they never wrote down Bibles for us to give directions to Adivasis.

All the stories we hear are from Oxford Graduates and ‘upper’ caste people. That is not our stories. But nothing is too late; we have to write our own stories, about our issues, from our own perspectives. It is better late than never.

One thing I have understood from my own experience, that education is the most important tool for all of us. To whomsoever I have spoken, I tell them to do whatever they can do to continue their education. You don’t know when you would need it.

And then the second thing, which most people from Dalit and Adivasi background may not agree, that you have come till here because you were plain lucky. There are lot of our brothers and sisters who are more intelligent, more hardworking than us are not able to make it just because of their adverse circumstances.

See yourself as an advantaged section of your community. This is like a loan to us which we have to pay back. It is not that you are extra capable, there is someone who is still toiling hard for you and you need to pay back. Don’t forget that nothing in this world comes for free.

Thanks so much Abhay !

[Abhay was one of our speakers at Insight Study Circle Meeting held on 22nd August on 'Opportunities for Dalit and Adivasi Students and World's Premier Educational Instituions'. Kindly read the report of the meeting at our blog www.blog.insightyv.com]

Posted on September 13, 2010
 
WHY SONIA GANDHI NEEDS TO STAND UP AND TAKE CHARGE OF INDIA ’S GRAND OLD PARTY
Leadership - Indian Political System : Prof. Autar Dhesi

BBC News, London Why Sonia Gandhi needs to stand up and take charge of India ’s Grand Old Party At 1:46pm on 04 Sep 2010, Autar Dhesi wrote:

Sonia is an intelligent, sophisticated and reticent person who has adapted well to the Indian way of life, warts and all. She seems to have grasped the finer nuances of working of the Indian political system. It is a remarkable achievement for a person with a European background. The working of the Indian political system is still an enigma to an Indian born citizen like me who lived in England during formative years and is instinctively inclined to look at every economic and non-economic issue through the prism of an English trained economist. I have not been able to adjust to Indian way of doing things. The politics simply puts me off. This was not so in England . I remained an active member of Labour Party for a number of years, and was a founder executive member of Campaign against Racial Discrimination and lobbied successfully for laws against racial discrimination. However, I was actively involved in youth and community development work before I left for England . My work came to notice of the then Chief Minister of Punjab, late Sardar Partap Singh Kairon who sent a message to my father to persuade me not to go abroad. He thought I could very well fit in public life here. But my mind was already made up to study in Europe. So, I can very well understand how difficult it must have been for Sonia to adjust here. She faced all sorts of prejudices with dignity. Nevertheless, Sonia's contribution to Indian democracy during very difficult years would be fully acknowledged by historians.

Postscript

Her behavior manifests deep influence of her antecedents and later life events. Tolerance and compassion for others are ingrained in her bent of mind. Being free from self-inflicted, debilitating, social infirmities. Often an outcome of irrational, anthropological beliefs, she is bound to avoid pitfalls, unlike a few others before her. So Indian Republic is likely to sail through tumultuous waters smoothly in the coming years under her benign influence.
Posted on September 7, 2010

SABH FOUNDATION SUCCESSFULLY ORGANIZED
MIND BLOWING MUSICAL EVENING OF GURDAS MAAN

By Dr. Jasvir Singh Lohan
   

Live concert of Shan-e-Punjab Gurdas Maan was organized successfully at the Five Star William Saroyan Theatre, in Fresno, on August 28, 2010 by the Non-Profit Organization SABH Foundation founded by Dr. Harmesh Kumar, a well-known Clinical Psychologist in California, working in the field of Mental Health for the last 27 Years.

The Legend Gurdas Maan presented his new as well as old songs in such a pleasant mood touching the hearts of every individual present there in the audience. This is the first time in the History of Gurdas Maan shows, that the audience felt the pin-drop silence while enjoying the concert with all the five senses which indicates the maturity, cultural richness and ancient Punjabi wisdom of the audience. Though Gurdas Maan is approaching his 60s but his energy level with internal motivation, positive attitude towards life & enthusiasm during stage performance is remarkable and he transformed the audience into spiritual trance. The cooperation and peaceful environment during the entire program indicate the general acceptance of the Mission of SABH Foundation as well as the Gurdas Maan's performance.

On this occasion, Dr. Harmesh Kumar addressed the audience about the mission, aims and objectives of SABH Foundation and welcomed the VVIPs, VIPs, & General Public at large. He also explained the motive behind this show which was to create general awareness about the needs of South Asians seniors and to establish elderly residential care facility for their wellness and better mental health during their golden years. Keeping in mind the religious, social, economic aspects and need of the hour in mind, SABH Foundation has this dream come true with the help from South Asian communities especially Punjabis.

Mr. Taj Randhawa, Vohra Brothers (Vinney & Vikram Vohra) joined hands together with Dr. Kumar to make this evening a successful and memorable one. Their spirits of working for social cause with countless efforts was very much appreciated by Dr. Kumar and he welcomed them to be members of SABH Foundation Family. Mr. Jaspreet Singh and Ms. Harjot (Ginney) Walia, both attorneys, contributed significantly and worked tirelessly to make this event a great success.

Around 2300 people including youngsters, women, children and elders enjoyed the show and gave there consent to be the part of the mission. Mr. Ashok Bhaura, a famous Journalist, conducted the stage during the show and welcomed Dr. Kumar and Gurdas Maan on the stage and nicely scheduled the Program. He made the evening memorable with his poetic presentation.

At the end, Dr. Kumar honored Mr. Gurdas Maan for his outstanding contribution to humanity and to make this world a peaceful and loving place, giving voice to women, mothers, elderly, and wisdom to youth in his writings and encouraging them to raise their voice against injustice and discrimination in a humane way. Dr Kumar also acknowledged countless efforts of Gurdas Maan for the upliftment of the Punjabi language and culture not only in India but throughout the whole world that made him a positive role model for our community and coming generations. Gurdas Maan’s untiring energy, particularly at this age, Great Spirit, melodious voice and spiritual anchoring would keep on providing everlasting inspiration for all of us and coming generations.

Taj Randhawa, Vohra Brothers (Vinney and Vikram), Jaspreet Singh and Ashok Bhaura were recognized with special thanks and Appreciation Letters for their contribution to make this program a great success. Dr. Kumar also thanked his wife and daughter, Mrs. Kashmir Kumar, Sabrina Kaur along with other special guests who contributed a lot and among them were Dr. Kuldip Thusu and Dr. Kajori Thusu, Dr. Jasbir S. Lohan, Dr. Paramjit Sandhu, Amritpal S Nijjar, Pritam S Pasla, Balraj Brar, Sukhi Gill, , Jai Singh, Charanjeet Batth, Amrit Dhaliwal, , Micky Sra, Ajit Gill of Moga Video, Shiara Dhindsa and Harry & Avtar Gill.

This musical evening has a long lasting effect on the mind, body and souls of Fresno Indo-American community. This is the first ever show by an Indian Artist in Fresno that was well received and was conducted magnificently in the William Saroyan Theatre. In closing, let me share the thoughts of Dr. Kuldip Thusu which he had said, “Great show, it was phenomenal last night, jammed packed and more Saroyan Theater, there was no fight, decent viewing. The guy (Gurdas Maan) rocked for three and half hours non-stop. One of the best Desi performances I have ever seen.” |
Posted on September 3, 2010

 
BHAGWAN DAS AS I KNOW HIM
S. R. Darapuri

I have known Bhagwan Das for the last thirty six years. He was known in Delhi as one of the most learned and dedicated followers of Baba Saheb Ambedkar. I heard him for the first time in the weekly meetings of the Boudha Upasak Sangh in Lakshmi Bai Nagar, New Delhi. Ambedkar Bhavan was the centre of Buddhist activities for some years. Buddhist society of India organized weekly religious meetings. Two Shastries, Mr. Y.C. Shaankranand Shastri and Mr. Sohan Lal Shastri, both product of the Braham Vidyalaya, an Arya Samajist institution of Punjab, were the leaders of the Buddhist movement. They organized these weekly meetings on the pattern of the Arya Samaj meetings. For some reason some differences developed between the two Shastries and they parted company. Mr. Shankranand Shastri along with some of his friends formed the Boudha Upasak Sangha and began to hold weekly meetings in front-yard of one room flat owned by Mr. Rama Rao Bagde, an employee of the Reserve Bank of India. He and his wife devotedly made the preparations, cleaned the floor, provided flowers, incense etc. Mr. Das was one of the prominent speakers in these meetings. He was interested in the unity of Dalits and had tried to bring in many castes like Dhanuks, Khatiks, Balmikis, Helas, Kolis into the movement.

Besides working at grass root level he contributed articles on diverse problems of the Dalits and minorities which were published in the Sarita, Milap, Naya Zamana, Ujala and Bhim Patrika etc. He has good command over English and Urdu. He can read and write in simple Hindi and Punjabi in Gurmukhi script, Bengali which he learnt while serving in the Air force in Bengal and Arakans, he has forgotten.

I have traveled throughout India and know many officers, professors, teachers and leaders belonging to the Scheduled Castes. I believe Mr. Das owns the largest collection of books and journals. He is a voracious reader and spends most of his working hours in reading. He spends good deal of money on purchasing books and journals. In his collection one finds some very rare books written by foreign and India writers. In his files lie many good articles and booklets on diverse subjects which he could not get printed or just forgot about them.

From the talks I had with him, I have come to the conclusion that although he was brought up in a Cantonment near Shimla, the summer capital of India, and the family was well to do, yet he suffered from insults and humiliations owing to his birth in an untouchable family. He is proud of his father who has contributed a great deal in molding his character. He was an admirer of Baba Saheb Ambedkar and very fond of reading newspapers. Study of Ayurveda was his hobby beside reading scriptures of Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism. Mr. Das has inherited love for knowledge from his father.

It seems Mr. Das was influenced by Christianity like most Untouchables of his times. Later on he studied Arya Samajists literature and Koran and other books on Muslim theology. For considerable time he had been reading Marxist literature and also wrote on Marxism. Class character of Communist leaders, however, deterred him. To cap it all he read innersole, Tom Paine, Voltaire, Bernard Shaw and Bertrand Russell. He developed his own ideas about religion before he came in direct touch with Baba Saheb Ambedkar.
He was introduced to Baba Saheb Ambedkar by late Mr. Shiv Dayal Singh Chaurasia, an imminent leader of the Backward Classes who served as a Member in Kaka Kalekar Commission and also as a Member of Rajya Sabha.

Mr. Das had no plan to marry but it was Mr. Chaurasia who got him married to a well educated girl belonging to Dhanuk caste of Lucknow. Mr. Das was sixteen when his father died. He had to brave another calamity. Immediately one month after the death of his father, his house caught fire on the 14th May 1943 and in the evening of that fateful day he was reduced to the level of a pauper. He had to support a large family of six members of his family getting them reasonable high school education and later on they themselves improved their acquisitions and status.

Mr. Das has written many books besides compiling and editing the speeches and writings of Baba sahib Ambedkar long before this work was undertaken by the Government of Maharashtra. He wrote four books on the Sweepers and, Scavengers and a booklet on the Dhobies. His books on Buddhism and caste and the seminar papers which he has presented in the seminars and conferences in India and abroad give an idea how deep is his study and how dedicated he is to the cause of the down-trodden and discriminated against people of the world. If Marx gave a call to the workers of world unite, Das’s call has been Dalits of India Unite, Dalits of Asia Unite. I do not think there is any body who has tried to bring all Dalits of Asia on a common platform and struggle for liberation and for the right to live with dignity. At present Mr. Das have 23 books to his credit. He has three books in hand: Untouchability in Asia, History of Reservation and Balmiki but his failing health and memory are the biggest impediment. He leads a very simple life; eats little, just enough to do the work which he has chosen to do. He is modest and in the words of late Bhadant Anand Kausalyaayan, “You have too much of humility”. He has very strong ascetic tendencies. As a lawyer he works hard when he accepts a brief but choosy about the kind of cases he would like to handle. Avarice is certainly not his weakness. Mr. Das does not have many friends nor does he happily attend social functions. He feels more at home in the libraries or in the company of the intellectuals and people who are working for the upliftment of the oppressed and the discriminated against people.

Mr. Das has visited many countries of the world and addressed public meetings or read papers on Human Rights, discriminated nation, problems of women and disadvantaged people, revival of Buddhism in India. He does not only preach Buddhism but also practices Buddhism.

There are few people in India having vision, courage, intelligence, commitment and dedication to the cause of the deprived and disadvantaged people – Untouchables, indigenous people, other backward classes, unorganized labour, victims of the violation of human rights and women as Mr. Das has. His contribution towards the propagation of ideology of Baba Saheb Ambedkar whether it is appreciated in India or not, officially recognized or not is great and has attracted the attention of scholars and leaders in the sub-continent and abroad. He is by nature quiet and unassuming and avoids publicity. One wishes if there were a few more followers of Baba sahib Ambedkar with the same qualities, commitment, knowledge, courage and character as Mr. Das has the caravan of Baba Saheb would have covered great distance and attained great heights. One wishes he lives longer but those who know him intimately know he lived as he liked and will die according to his wishes. Euthanasia has great attraction for him.
But we do not want to lose him. We wish him a long life.

Posted on August 26, 2010

THE IGNORED REVOLUTIONARIES
HOW THEY CONTRIBUTED TO INDIA’S FREEDOM

B y Kuldip Nayar

It was a long haul, from New Delhi to Sacramento, near San Francisco in the US. Yet, the journey was worth undertaking despite the hazards at my age. It was a pilgrimage. This is the place where half a dozen Sikhs, staunch Marxists, led a contingent of people to India to light the flame of revolution in 1913. The purpose was to free India from bondage. They made two attempts through sea routes, roping in even a few Sikh regiments under the British.

Both times the revolutionaries, known as the Gadhari babas (the elderly revolutionaries), were betrayed by the agents planted within their ranks. The well-known intellectual, Hardyal, who was part of the Gadhar movement, also betrayed the babas and went over to the British side when World War I commenced. Communist leader Sohan Singh Josh, living in India, said that by changing sides, Hardyal brought shame on himself and his past. Barkatullah, also a revolutionary, stood firm on the side of the Ghadarites. His grave is visited by scores of people every day.

The British set up a tribunal to try those who had defied the Empire. Many were hanged with barely a ripple in India. Even today the country hardly knows their sacrifice. Only a few of the revolutionaries like Kartar Singh Sarabha and Sohan Singh Bakan are known in certain areas of Punjab. There is no mention of them in any textbook throughout India.

The labour settled in Canada too charted the Komagata Maru, a Japanese merchant ship, and sailed to India. The ship found no port on the way to Calcutta to berth. They too were butchered by the British. However, the difference between the effort from Canada and that from San Francisco was the difference of ideology.

From Canada a rich Sikh, Gurdip Singh, hired the ship to carry cargo but the Komagata Maru became the focus of revolution because the labour on the ship defied the owner and raised the standard of revolt. Mewa Singh, an unknown local priest, shot William Hopkinson dead in the Vancouver court where he was waiting to denounce the philosophy which the Gadhar Party was trying to expound.

The Komagata Maru incident provided the spark that lit the fire of defiance among the Indians abroad. The Ghadar, the party’s organ, wrote relentlessly to exhort people to revolt. Several thousand men living abroad caught the earliest boat to reach India.

Some five years ago, migrants from India settled in California —Sacramento is its capital — constituted the Gadhar Memorial Committee to organise functions in memory of the Gadhari babas. The committee holds a meeting every year on the second Saturday of July.

I was the main speaker this year. People from different parts of America thronged a big hall and sat through the four-hour-long meeting when half a dozen speakers dilated on the sacrifice and selflessness of the Ghadari babas and wished if India could let its countrymen know how a handful of ordinary men embarked on the task of ousting the British. Among the speakers was the Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.

The Gadhari babas started the struggle from a small building which is there even today in the midst of living quarters of San Francisco. The Government of India has taken over the building and looks after its maintenance. New Delhi needs to spend more on setting up a museum to display things that are associated with the babas. One of their documents, already framed, says that a free India they envisaged would have a federal structure and would be called the United States of India.

The Ghadari babas were among the labourers who went to America and Canada in 1906 from Punjab, largely from the Doaba region. They constituted the Ghadar Party. They brought out a weekly in Urdu, Ghadar, to spread their message. Subsequently, they brought out its Gurmukhi edition. This reminded me of Harijan, launched by Mahatma Gandhi, to guide the national movement for independence.

The Sikhs were the backbone of the Gadhar Party. Gurmukhi was its language and the gurdwara its meeting venue. The party brought Sikhs back into the political mainstream and washed away the stigma on the community for having supported the British in the first national uprising in 1857. The party was secular. In one of the booklets which the Gadhar Party issued had one poem:

No Pundits or Mullahs do we need/ No prayers or litanies we need recite/ These will only scuttle our boat/ Draw the sword; this time to fight/ Though Hindus, Mussalmans and Sikhs we be,/ Sons of Bharat are we still/ Put aside your arguments for another day/ Call of the hour is to kill…

The difference was that the Gadhar Party had no compunction in propagating the use of force while Gandhiji’s faith in non-violence was unshakable. No doubt, he is responsible for winning us Independence, yet the sacrifice of the revolutionaries — Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukh Dev came to the scene later — was not small in importance. They made the British falter in their confidence to rule India.

The Ghadarite committee is preparing to celebrate in 2013 the centenary of the babas’ movement. I wish the Government of India could participate in the celebrations to recall their role. Gandhiji paid a tribute to the bravery of the revolutionaries in his reply to Sukh Dev’s letter. “The writer is not ‘one of many.’ Many do not seek the gallows for political freedom. However condemnable political murder may be, it is not possible to withhold recognition of the love of the country and the courage which inspires such awful deeds. And let us hope that the cult of political assassination is not growing if the Indian experiment succeeds, as it is bound to, the occupation of the political assassin will be gone forever. At any rate, I am working in that faith.”

Revolution has such a cleansing effect that people give up their selfish way of living and adopt a policy that involves all in a battle for egalitarianism. Today’s India has to remember this the most.

Courtesy: The Tribune, Chandigarh, India. Monday, August 9, 2010 (Posted on August 23, 2010 )

ROCK CHURCH SACRAMENTO CELEBRATED MEMORIAL DAY

Sacramento May 31st 2010 was the day packed full of All Together Now. For the Rock Church family this is a familiar theme. The annual all-church picnic was over the top as families enjoyed food, fun and fellowship in an atmosphere nothing short of great. One could look around and from the visitors to the seasoned saints, come away with the knowledge that these people know how to throw a, “party”. From the bounce house and slides to children’s games and candy rain to the baseball and horseshoe tournaments to volleyball and back to food- this was a day full of activity and opportunity, and we were noted that we were not able to find anyone not having fun.

The Rock Church hosts a picnic once a year at Elk Grove Park. Off all of the picnics, this year by far seemed to be the best. Families were spending time together. Kids and squirt guns were in abundance, couples were walking talking and eating together. A good number of Bus friends appeared to be having the times of their lives. There was food aplenty, and the most popular activity was going from set up to set up tasting other goodies. This year, Punjabi Community introduced itself afresh as “Punjabi Christian Fellowship” and joined the fellowship with other members of the church. First time in the history of the church picnic, Punjabi delicacies appeared on the tables. We have heard nothing but wonderful comments about this event. It was very well put together and well organized. Was it well attended? The picnic was set to go from 12.00 PM to 07.00 PM officially but it began around 09.00 AM and lasted unto the sun went down. What a great day for the Rock Church. We look forward to and cannot wait until next year.

Mr. Prem Chumber the Chief Editor, of a Punjabi Newspaper “Ambedkar Times” came to give coverage to the event. He was greeted by Punjabi Pastor Rev Dr Jasjit Singh who introduced Mr. Chumber to Bishop Mr. Nathaniel Wilson, Pastor Myles Young, leaders and members of the church. His dedication to the mission of Ambedkar was highly appreciated. Dr. Ambedkar, known as “Abraham Lincoln of India”, fought for the liberation of Untouchables and restructured the country as Father of the Constitution of India. He defeated the Manuvadi Satanic forces and idol worshippers. He commanded the untouchables to convert to live a life of dignity.

Posted on June 5th, 2010

PASH MARTYRDOM DAY REMEMBRANCE CEREMONY

(Top left) Dr. Amolak Singh speaking , (Top right) Dr. Ronki speaking , (Middle) Prof T.C. Ghai's Book Release Cermony, standing: (left to right): Dr. Ronki Ram, Prof. K.K. Pathak, Prof. T.C. Ghai, Dr. Amolak Singh and Prof Tarsem Sagar, (Bottom left) Dr. Ronki with Prof. T.C Ghai author of Pash's poems translation into English at Talwandi Salem village (Bottom right) Prof. T.C. Ghai with Sant Sandhu, a friend of Pash at their native village on March 23, 2010

Report & Images Ambedkartimes.com Bureau

(Talwandi Salem):- Ambedkartimes.com congratulates Prof. T.C. Ghai for his great efforts in translating entire poetry of Avtar Pash, one of the pioneer revolutionary Punjabi poets who in his very young age became a house-hold name not only in his home state but also in the entire India. In addition, he is equally popular among the wide Punjabi Diasporas. Prof. Ghai’s translation (Pash: A Poet of Impossible Dreams) was released at the Martyrdom day remembrance ceremony at Pash’s native village (Talwandi Salem). At the ceremony, Prof. Ghai dedicated his book to Bha Ji Gursharn, a noted revolutionary activist in the domain of theatre art in the region. Among other recipients of the book at the ceremony were Prof. K.K. Pathak, Dr. Ronki Ram, Prof Tarsem Sagar, Sh. Sant Sandhu and Dr. Amolak Singh. The book is published by Pash Memorial International Trust. Prof. T.C. Ghai (Born 1937) retired from Delhi University as an Associate Professor of English in 2002. He has published two short novels and a Hindi translation of his short stories, Adamboo, originally written in English. He has translated a Punjabi poet, late Dr. Puran Singh Kanwar’s collection of poems, Rattan Di Rut (1984), into Hindi in 2000 and English in 2006.

While speaking at Martyrdom day remembrance ceremony at Pash’ village, Prof Ghai said that “in the premature violent death of Pash the Punjabi poetry has perhaps missed its own Pablo Neruda, or may be someone even greater”. Dr. Ronki Ram said that in contemporary times, the poetry of Pash has become rather more relevant and crucial in dealing with general myopia of free market economy led consumerism, and electronic media’s persistent campaign for festivities and glamour! Dr. Amolak reiterated on the need for pro-people policies which he lamented are nowhere to be seen in the present regime at the state and centre level. On the occasion different theater groups staged revolutionary plays including the famous play Aeh Lahoo Kis da Hai by Bha Ji Gursharn theater group.

Posted on March 24, 2010

THINKING PEACE IN MIDDLE EAST WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA
Prof . Autar
Dhesi

Apr 2010
• In an increasingly interdependent world President Barack Obama's effort to take China on board to restrain Iran is a rational, workable approach. The other major countries in the region like Russia, Pakistan and India should also be involved. In case the situation becomes very serious all of them would be adversely affected. The US has already set a precedent in collective diplomatic approach to handle volatile Israel-Palestine issue. The US, Russia, EEC and UN joined hands for the first time to restrain Israel's unacceptable attitude in the changed situation. I am sure collective approach would also have the desired impact on Iranian public.

• President Obama's surprise visit to Afghanistan is indication of his firm commitment to secure enduring peace in the region. What is more interesting is his forthright message to Afghan President Hamid Karzai to root out corruption in the system and break the nexus between drug trade and militancy. His visit should also boost the morale of forces fighting against militants. His initiative to get the stalled negotiations between Israel and Palestine going also shows his earnestness to secure permanent peace in entire region. His heart and head are at the right place. All the well meaning people of the world should support his efforts.
March 2010.

• What does Obama's visit mean for Afghanistan? 2:20pm on 29 Mar 2010 President Obama's surprise visit to Afghanistan is indication of his firm commitment to secure enduring peace in the region. What is more interesting is his forthright message to Afghan President to root out corruption in the system and break the nexus between drug trade and militancy. His visit should also boost the morale of forces fighting against militants. His initiative to get the stalled negotiations between Israel and Palestine going also shows his earnestness to secure permanent peace in entire region. His heart and head are at the right place. All the well meaning people of the world should support his efforts.

• How will US healthcare reform affect you? 12:34pm on 22 Mar 2010 President Barak Obama has delivered what he promised. He has proved his mettle by resorting to procedural approach to overcome uncalled for opposition to historic health care bill. My hunch was correct when I said in my previous comments that he has no choice but to give up the bipartisan approach and do what has done, rightly so. Its passage in the final form will benefit not only those who had no health cover but other Americans as well. It removes some of the irrationalities in the health care. I particularly feel happy about the outcome as an economist who considers expenditure on health as investment in human capital. Besides benefiting the concerned individuals it has positive effects on the society. The passage of the bill would also add to America's image as a caring society. Heartiest congratulations to President Obama and his colleagues and above all the American people.

• What next for US-Israel relations? 12:20pm on 18 Mar 2010 Israeli provocation could have been avoided in the interest of reaching a lasting agreement on the vexed historical issue. Now it is time for other countries, especially European Union, to back the US initiative. Israel is too closely allied with the US to overlook the latter's concerns for peace in the region. As I wrote in my previous comments, US is the only country that can steer negotiations to some acceptable lasting solution. I am sure Israel fully understands it.

• However, a lot of water has flowed under the London Bridge since then. The field for interplay of nations has undergone drastic changes.
Consequently, rules of the game have also changed. For the first time, the US, Russia, EEC and the United Nations collectively tried restrain Israel's cavalier approach to Palestine issue on March 21, 2010. The world Jewish fraternity is far too intelligent and sophisticated to ignore its implications. 1966
• I was in Israel during summer of 1966 for six weeks as a member of Student Group from Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, London and Leeds.
The study tour was partially financed by an educational trust in London, headed by Labour leader Anthony Greenwood. I joined University
of Surrey later in the year. We were taken around all over the country in two coaches and were given ample opportunities to interact with different sections of the society. The driver of the coach, I was in, was an air force pilot. He gave us informally a good briefing about the security environment. It
was not difficult for us to anticipate some sort of conflict between Israel and the neighboring Arab countries except Lebanon in the near future. At Surrey, I shared my assessment of the situation and of the likely outcome of conflict if it took place with others. To my utter surprise, my assessment turned out to be more accurate than I expected, when conflict actually took place in 1967. After that our teacher of international relations, Dr Otto Pick, encouraged me to share my assessment of some other similar situations in the class. A lot of water has flowed since then. The field for interplay of nations has changed, so have rules of the game. Israel's earlier approach in the changed circumstances is untenable. The world Jewish fraternity is too sophisticated and intelligent to overlook implications of emerging multipolar world.

Posted on April 4, 2010

Prof. Autar Dhesi
PROF. AUTAR DHESI,
Ambedkartimes.com congratulates Prof. Autar Dhesi for his foresight and clear vision
on the deeply debated issue of US Health Care Bill, recently passed in US.
We reproducing his comments published on BBC forum:

 

Added: Friday, 25 December, 2009, 13:34 GMT 13:34 UK
I have a longstanding academic interest in investment in human capital. I found it difficult to understsnd why a progressive US nation lacked a universal health care system as in UK and Canada.One possible reason for this neglect might have been negative influence of insurance lobby..
This also had adverse influence on public policy in many countries.
This is the best official New Year Gift to American people I could think of.
Good luck friends!
Autar Dhesi

01. At 1:51pm on 27 Feb 2010, Autar Dhesi wrote:

Obama has to learn the fine nuances of working of the Congress fast to get things done. I understand that he liked to try bipartisan approach first to get the historic health care bill through. As it does not seem to take him far, he has no choice but to adopt the procedural route. Hope he acts with determination and courage to bring the US at par with other developed countries like Canada, Britain and the European continent in health care

At 12:34pm on 22 Mar 2010, Autar Dhesi wrote:

President Barack Obama has delivered what he promised. He has proved his mettle by resorting to procedural approach to overcome uncalled for opposition to historic health care bill. My hunch was correct when I said in my previous comments that he has no choice but to give up the bipartisan approach and do what has done, rightly so.

Its passage in the final form will benefit not only those who had no health cover but other Americans as well.
It removes some of the irrationalities in the health care.

I particularly feel happy about the outcome as an economist who considers expenditure on health as investment in human capital. Besides benefiting the concerned individuals it has positive effects on the society. The passage of the bill would also add to America's image as a caring society.
Heartiest congratulations to President Obama and his colleagues and above all the American people.

Posted non March 29, 2010 at 0435

 
LOOKING BACK INTO HISTORY
Professor Autar Dhesi

Prime Minister Harold Wilson, like Harold Macmillan, was keen on British entry to EEC. The Leeds Citizen, a Weekly of Leeds Labour Party, brought out a special issue on the topic. Besides PM's article, it included several contributions including that of Foreign Secretary, George Brown. I was also invited to contribute. Everybody, except I, was very optimistic about the outcome of the British application.

I started my piece with a brief outline of an innovative analytical frame to examine the influence of key factors that might determine the outcome. The thrust of my argument was that small countries would welcome Britain with the hope of gaining better space for action. However, Germany's position was difficult. It could not afford to annoy either France or Britain. So my take on this was that it would not oppose as British entry was in its long term interest. It was thought that, with another major player in the game, situation would become very fluid enabling Germany to work for easing post-war restrictions on its policies. But France would not let entry be a cakewalk for Britain. In addition to various economic and geo -political factors, De Gaul's personal emotions would influence him to say no. So conclusion was that there would be a long drawn poker game between Wilson and De Gaul.

However, De Gaul’s veto must been quite a disappointment for Wilson in view of his firm assurance to support independent European defense policy. In hindsight, he probably went a bit overboard inadvertently by contacting the Soviet leadership during his visit to Paris. As a consequence, he came under surveillance of his own intelligence, of which he came to know in his third term as prime minister. On realizing his precarious position in the establishment, he resigned in moral disgust. Some sort of consolation for the lesser beings that this or even worse could happen to anyone despite their moral rectitude. In any case, without commitment to moral rules and institutional safeguards human actions may cause unnecessary harm and suffering.

I put a copy of the article on the notice board in our Hall of Residence across the Thames. When the actual result came, I received a few glances of admiration with curiosity.

Posted on March 19, 2010

TODAY, WANT BUDGET OF HOPE

Dr Pramod Kumar

Union Budget was long on words, short on substance to improve plight of common man. If Punjab Budget too does not throw up any hope for redressal, people shall conclude leaders only talk of Post Graduate Education, Puducherry, have also been reduced.

These illustrations from the central budget underscore a concern that one-third of the country’s population living on less than Rs. 20/- a day shall continue to remain outside the domain of these budgets. Therefore, the major challenge before Punjab budget and its Finance Minister is to address the concerns of people living without means rather than harping on fiscal crisis.

No doubt, most of the states including the central government are facing a fiscal crisis. In other words, the expenditure of the governments is more than the revenue generated. Within increased deficit, public expenditure on social development, needed most by the poor, has been declining in the last 25 years in Punjab. A perusal of the state expenditure pattern on social development makes this point crystal clear. The expenditure on social development in Punjab including health declined from 66 per cent in the early eighties to 40 per cent. And, livelihood needs do not find any reference in the public finance management drive. Why is it then that the expenditure is multiplying while the governments have abdicated their functions to provide employment, public education and health facilities to the people?

Further, the trends in the last 25 years have shown that the expenditure on the salaries of the public sector employees has declined. At least, it would not be fair to blame the government staff for the state’s bad fiscal health. They can, however, be charged for inefficiency and corruption, but for that, requirement is not fiscal fix, but governance fix. Similarly, to improve tax collection in Punjab which is perhaps the lowest amongst the other developed states, the need is to rejuvenate governance.

To be over obsessed with subsidies to agriculture without appreciating the fact that 5 lakh farmers with less than five acres of land will have no choice but to starve in the urban slums. Also, without creating employment alternatives in other sectors of economy, it will be suicidal. There is also an urgent need to rationalise subsidies. Most of the subsidies to the poor are given as doles. To illustrate, the social security programmes like Pensions for old age, widows, destitutes and Shagun are given as doles to a large section of the ‘ineligible’ population.

This has become a practice with successive governments. The wastage is to the extent of Rs. 300 crore i.e. one-third of the total allocation for Pensions.
It would be worthwhile to note as to how far the Finance Minister has increased the share of the capital expenditure. All these years, capital outlay has been compromised to meet the fiscal deficit. Capital outlay is an expenditure that creates assets leading to sustainable growth in the State.

Not only this, it is urgent to increase development expenditure on education, health, family welfare, housing, labour, welfare of dalits, urban development, food and nutrition. Punjab has neglected these areas since 1980s. For example, in 2008-09, Punjab’s social sector spending was around 22 per cent as compared to 36 per cent in Andhra Pradesh, 41 per cent in Bihar, 34 per cent Gujarat and 38 per cent Karnataka.It has become endemic with government to escalate the plan size while the performance on the expenditure side has been dismal. It would be worthwhile to see how far 2009-10 plan was implemented. The practice of non-implementation of the plan makes it difficult to capture government’s priorities and fix consequent accountability.

For smooth release of funds for the flagship programmes, announcements are made for setting up dedicated funds like Social Security Fund, Municipal Development, Village Development, but these remain largely on paper leading to delayed payment of pension, shagun or other social security schemes. If social sector is not adequately funded and investments are not increased for agriculture and rural sector, consequently, a large population shall remain without jobs, sick and drug addicts. From this kind of situation, it would be wrong to expect demographic dividends, but demographic drags. Punjab is on a downhill journey and it ranked 13th in overall growth rate in GSDP in the country. And, having recognised these facts, if the budget is not throwing up any hope for the redressal, the people shall have no other option but to conclude that to avoid the plunge, the leaders only talk.

Budgets have become a usual exercise in fiscal management. These have been reduced to a political instrument to match the rhetoric of serving the aam admi and promoting the interests of the market. Budgets are long on words and short on ‘substance’ to improve the plight of the common persons. These budgets have not cared to increase the purchasing capacity of the poor, are silent on ensuring food security and have failed to provide quality access to the poor and rural population to social development.

The Central budget has committed itself to restore 9 per cent growth rate, but the same commitment towards social development seems to be missing. The financial allo-cation for Ministry of Education is just 0.72 per cent of GDP which has remained same as compared to 2009-10. This despite the fact on the Right to Education. It is the same story of promising oppor-tunities without providing enabling conditions to avail these. Similarly, the budget allocation for Health Ministry is nominal 0.36 per cent of GDP. The issues relating to maternal and child health, child nutrition and pre-school education have not been adequately addressed in the central budget. Not only this, the whole exercise of gender budgeting has remained on paper. The Allocations for medical education and training have been reduced from Rs. 3,255.94 crore in 2009-10 to Rs. 2,678.84 crore in 2010-11. And, outlay for setting up of super speciality hospitals curtailed by Rs.700 crore forcing people to look for treatment in private hospitals.

(Source: the Hindustan Times March 16, 2010 ) Posted on March 19, 2010

UNDERSTANDING B.R. AMBEDKAR
Harish K. Puri


"Understanding B.R. Ambedkar" by Dr. Harish Puri provides certain parameters for fixing Ambedkar's role in India's unity and integrity. While working with M.K. Gandhi, and J.L. Nehru, Dr. Ambedkar recorded his experiences in his writings. Readers are invited to respond to the portrayal of Baba Sahib Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's personality and contribution by Dr. Harish Puri.

The discussion should follow norms of decency and decorum. A retired professor of Guru Nanak Dev University Amritsar, (Punjab) Dr. Puri headed Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Chair in the Political Science Department. He has authored many books on India's freedom movement.

Editor: Prem Chumber

There is a widespread misunderstanding about B.R. Ambedkar’s ideas and role particularly with regard to the independence and unity of India. Reasons for that are well known. Ambedkar did not join the Indian National Congress-led struggle for independence. In fact he denounced the Congress and opposed the Quit India Movement. He became a member of Viceroy’s Executive Council and was, therefore, accused of loyalty to the British rulers and dubbed as a ‘traitor’. At the Round Table Conference, he pleaded for a separate electrorate and reservations of seats for the minority community of “untouchables”, as for several other minority communities. When that was conceded by the British government in the Communal Award 1932, Ambedkar was accused as an evil genius bent upon dividing the Hindus. Mahatma Gandhi’s fast unto death against the provision pitted the mainstream public opinion against him. He was held guilty of putting Gandhi’s life in danger. His support for Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan was no less galling to many Indian nationalists. The burning of a copy of the Manusmriti, his trenchant criticism of Hindu social system, rejection of Hindu religion and ultimately his conversion to Buddhism along with over a hundred thousand untouchables were regarded as affronts to the Hindu community. Many observers of the Indian political scene today believe that the policy of ‘reservation’ and special concessions to the Scheduled Castes which was later extended by the V.P. Singh government to include Other Backward Classes (OBCs), has been a cause of social divides and instability of the political system. Ambedkar was regarded as the original villain of piece. As a consequence, there has been a controversy regarding his contribution. Not many non-Dalits, cared to understand and appreciate his fundamental contributions to the enrichment of social and political thinking in India

Ambedkar’s distinct contribution to the unity of India lies in two domains. One related to the preparation and adoption of a constitutional framework which could provide for adequate safeguards for the territorial integrity and political unity of India. This was the work for which he was profusely lauded. The second related to a distinct conceptualization of good society and the “unity of the people” in this vast country of multiple diversities and entrenched inequities. Through that he laid the basis for a radical socio-economic change. This was a highly contested domain. He was not alone. He shared with Jawaharlal Nehru a new humane and just social order. But Ambedkar was more skeptical. Perhaps, no other leader was so acutely conscious of the strength and tenacity of the entrenched social forces which were ranged against the agenda of social transformation.

Ambedkar’s social location at the bottom of caste and class hierarchy provided a view of the social reality from below. Those at the higher and top levels, saw the world differently. Gandhi’s experience of social discrimination in South Africa and India shaped his anti racial anti-colonial discourse. The massacre at Jallianwala Bagh in April led him to regard the British rule as ‘satanic’. Ambedkar’s life experience as an ‘untouchable’ determined the direction of his discourse and struggle against the structure and practice of caste oppression. End of caste inequalities and guarantee of just status for minorities were to him the essential conditions of human dignity and unity, more important then political freedom. Others thought differently. However, given the strength of the hegemonic force in the Constituent Assembly, the provision for social transformation was grudgingly and partially included in the constitution. Even the limited agenda was only partially implemented. The society and the polity are apparently more fractured today. But the social and political assertiveness of the earlier downtrodden has the potential for accelerating social change. Appreciation for Ambedkar’s constribution to India’s unity in this respect remains misunderstood and divided along caste-class lines.

Let us now look to his position and what did he actually do in the two domains.Despite his vigorous struggle for separate electorates for ‘untouchables’, he had made one thing very clear to the British at the Round Table Conference: “It is only in a Swaraj Constitution that we stand any chance of getting political power into our own hands, without which we cannot bring salvation to our people”. Mahatma Gandhi told him categorically, when Ambedkar met him for the first time on 14 August, 1931: that “from the reports that have reached me of your work at the Round Table Conference, I know that you are patriot of sterling worth”. Let there be no doubt about Ambedkar’s patriotism. But he was convinced that freedom of the country does not necessarily mean freedom of the people.

As mentioned before his social location made him the only prominent leader of his time to counter-pose a view of Indian reality from below to that of the mainstream political leaders. He was opposed to the Congress conception of nationalism. Professor M.S. Gore has discussed, for example, that there was a clear opposition between Nehru’s and Ambedkar’s points of view on Indian history. Nehru’s viewpoint, as clearly laid out in his Discovery of India, was that there was a definite undercurrent of synthesis and unity in the midst of great diversity. Ambedkar’s, on the other hand, was that India’s was a deeply divided and stratified society with conflicting cultural streams. Nehru’s view reflected the ideology of the mainstream and Ambedkar’s that of ‘minority’ groups. The logic of historical evolution of nationalism points to the fact that nationalism generally reflects the ideology of the emerging ruling class. Since it represents the ideas and interests of the most advanced segment of society, it is basically sectarian. Ambedkar was very clear that blind nationalism could turn out to be dangerously anti-people. It has to be resisted and given a strong social foundation of equality.
It is understandable that during their fight against the British rulers, the “nationalist” ideology emphasized on homogeneity of the people claiming for them a national identity. So they not only de-emphasized internal differences based on class, caste, religion, region, language etc., but also regarded reference to these differences as divisive and anti-national. Ambedkar denied the commonality of interest between Hindus of all castes or Indians of all communities. So he stressed upon legal constitutional safeguards for the untouchables and other minorities. But he knew that mere legal safeguards were not enough. He therefore also advocated that the untouchables must organize and relentlessly agitate for securing their rights of equality and justice.
Whereas to the mainstream nationalist leadership the primary struggle was for political freedom, Ambedkar saw in that kind of freedom the threat of a more arrogant and unhindered domination and ‘oppression’ of the upper caste and upper class, over the lower caste/class strata socially, economically and politically. Under that kind of rule by the hegemonic forces the possibility of social reform for reducing inequity would become even more remote. Therefore, he emphasized upon the urgency of social reform, before political freedom. He became convinced by the middle of 1930s, that even for Gandhi, the first choice was a struggle for freedom rather than for eradication of untouchability. Thus, he could not become a part of the mainstream national struggle.
In his distinctly different struggle, however, he was deeply concerned about strengthening the Indian polity. When the Simon Commission came to India in 1928 to prepare recommendations for new constitutional arrangement including provincial autonomy, the Congress launched a boycott of the Commission. Ambedkar, on the other hand, appeared before it, to present his memorandum and discuss important issues. One of the clear positions he took may be stated. He argued:
While I am anxious to see that there should be established complete provincial autonomy, I am opposed to any change which will in any way weaken the central government or which will impair its national character or obscure its existence in the eyes of the people… My view is that the national government should be so placed as not to appear to stand by virtue of the provincial government.
He thought a strong central government was necessary to safeguard political unity. He then presented very clear-cut recommendations.

That all residuary powers must be with central government;
That central government must have the specific power to coerce a recalcitrant or rebellious province acting in a manner prejudicial to the interest of the country;
That all powers given to a provincial government in case of its non-functioning shall return to the central government;
That the election to the central legislature shall be direct, (Writings and Speeches of Dr. Ambedkar, Vol. II, p.385).

When he was given the task of drafting the constitution, one of his major objectives was safeguarding the unity of India, besides ending of “untouchability” and providing safeguards for Scheduled Castes and minorities. India had been partitioned and about 550 princely states existed with sovereign or semi-sovereign status. Holding India together was a daunting task. The threat to unity was ominous. Ambedkar brought his exceptional legal, constitutional expertise to the building of a framework for unity and pleaded with skill and passion for adoption of his proposals by the Constituent Assembly.
Nine sub-committees had been constituted by the Drafting Committee for dealing with different subjects and preparing drafts. What may appear surprising, the draft constitution by these sub-committees had left Indian princely states as more or less independent entities, having the liberty to frame their own constitution, including provision for their own armies. Dr. Ambedkar was disturbed and angry. He told the Constituent Assembly, “ I regard this as a most retrograde and harmful provision which may lead to the break-up of the unity of India and overthrow of the central government.” He saw to it that there was uniformity between the provinces and the Indian princely states in their relationship to the Centre.
Unity of India, according to him, required both a strong central government and a federal system. He was personally more inclined towards a unitary government. As he told the Constituent Assembly, “What perturbs me greatly is the fact that India has not only once before lost her independence but she lost it by the infidelity and treachery of her own people.” He cited several instances and then raised the question: “Will history repeat itself? Our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost for ever. We must be determined to defend our independence till the last drop of our blood.” (Keer, op.cit)

The central government had to be “a powerful stimulus in the formative period.” Articles 355, 356 and 365 of the present constitution were in essence based on such an arrangement under the Government of India Act 1935. He preferred to use the word “Union” instead of federation. But he was not innocent about the dangers of a very strong central government. “We must resist the tendency to make it stronger”, he said. “It cannot chew more than it can digest. Its strength must be commensurate with its weight. It would be a folly to make it so strong that it may fall by its own weight.” The division of powers between the centre and the states was therefore, necessary. An important central feature of the constitution was that it was made flexible. The strong defence of the parliamentary government for its mechanism of ministerial accountability and of the nominal position of the president pointed to his concern for checks on power.

He was also deeply concerned about the social conditions for political stability in a country as large and diverse as India. Three principles appeared to him to be basic for such stability: associated life; common objectives and free social interaction. Caste system, in particular, was a major obstruction to associated life and free social interaction. It was, as he wrote in his Annihilation of Caste, against the sprit of nationalism. It killed public spirit. A caste society could have no public opinion.

Deprivation of a large section of society from property and education did not only make them servile to the upper strata of society, but also deprived the country of their loyalty and great potential contribution to social and economic development. As he emphasized in the Constituent Assembly, “India as a nation is still in infant stage. We have to go long way in cementing various social forces and binding them emotionally as a nation.” That required development of the social infrastructure of national unity. The provisions in the chapters on Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy were aimed at that. These included abolition of untouchability, rights to liberty and equality for all without discrimination, special provisions of compensatory weightage through reservations of seats in the legislative bodies, for jobs, for education; for building an egalitarian economic system and protection of the rights of the minorities, etc. However, more serious work of radical socio-economic change was yet on the agenda. The obstacles were formidable. A day before the constitution was adopted; he gave a warning as follows: On the 26th of January, 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics, we will have equality and in social and economic life, we will have inequality…. We must remove the contradiction at the earliest possible moment, or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy, which this Assembly has so laboriously built up.

But the social change programme outlined in the Directives to remove the contradiction did not proceed apace. Ambedkar was totally dejected when he saw that Jawaharlal Nehru, despite his tremendous stature and power, failed to ensure legislation of even a part of the Hindu Code Bill. He, therefore, resigned from the cabinet as a protest. But the continued the struggle till this death on 6 December, 1956.

In a private latter to Madhu Limaye, Ram Manohar Lohia stated: “Dr. Ambedkar was to me a great man in Indian politics, and apart from Gandhiji, as great as the greatest of caste Hindus.” His regret was that Ambedkar refused to become a leader of “non-Harijans” and that he was so “bitter and exclusive.” There is little doubt that Ambedkar remained essentially a leader of the Untouchables and his bitterness was nowhere reflected as prominently as in his attitude towards Mahatma Gandhi. Yet, paradoxically, one complemented the other. Both of them had an emanicipatory agenda.
Mahatma Gandhi was awakened to the cause of the removal of untouchability by Ambedkar’s sledge-hammer blow of claiming a minority status for the “Depressed Classes”. But to Gandhi, it was a question of social morality; of building a new moral order. He did not recognize the political nature of the caste divisions which Ambedkar underlined. His strategy was described as that of “molecular transformation and mobilisation”. Perhaps that is why he was instrumental in “tempering of articulate casteist opinion” and making it possible for Ambedkar to achieve what he did through the law of the Constitution in free India. It may be appropriate that instead of the oppositional positioning between the Dalits and Gandhi’s caste Hindu followers, they recognize the complementary contribution of the two and get down to the completion of the unfinished agenda of Ambedkar, Gandhi and Nehru.

* Edited version of Chapter III in G. S Bal (Ed.), Understanding Ambedkar, Ajanta Books International, Delhi, 2000.
** Retired Professor, Dr. B.R.Ambedkar Chair, Department of Political Science, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

Posted on March 04, 2010

Text (summary) of
MAHAN SINGH DHESI ANNUAL LECTURE On GURU GOBIND SINGH: NEED OF A NEW PERSPECTIVE
Organized by Dr. Sukhwant Singh Chairman
DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY GURU NANAK DEV UNIVERSITY AMRITSAR
By Professor J.S. Grewal

The review of historical literature on Guru Gobind Singh covers several generations of scholars. Their works mentioned in the review relate to some of the most important aspects of Guru Gobind Singh’s life and times. We can see our understanding of Guru Gobind Singh improving and expanding. Even when a particular work does not advance our understanding, it brings the issue into sharper focus.

We can see in retrospect that Louis Fenech has misconstrued the passage on the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur in the Bachittar Natak but he does oblige the historian to think about the purpose of the deliberate action of the Guru. In so far as it challenged the coercive policy of the ruler it brought Guru Tegh Bahadur into direct confrontation with the state, making his action a political act. As the most important event in the early life of Guru Gobind Singh, it could affect his whole outlook on life rather deeply. Death in a righteous cause, and for the sovereignty of the Panth, became an essential value for the Khalsa.

A number of scholars have taken interest in the text and compilation of the Adi Granth. This interest has culminated in The Making of Sikh Scripture by Gurinder Singh Mann. His essay mentioned in this review clarifies several issues and highlights the decisive role of Guru Gobind Singh in making the Adi Granth central to the life of the Khalsa, a role that was only dimly perceived earlier.

Debate about the history of the Dasam Granth and the authorship of the works included in it has gone on for a few decades, with a number of scholars participating in or contributing to the debate.We have noticed the views of C. H. Loehlin, W.H. McLeod, Gurtej Singh, Daljeet Singh and Jagjit Singh on the subject of the Dasam Granth. Gurinder Singh Mann has clarifies some of the issues involved on the basis of the evidence of manuscripts, many of which are dated. All this evidence opens a new perspective on contemporary literature which can now be interpreted far better.

Among other things, G.S. Mann has proposed an earlier date for the Sri Gur Sobha and the Parchian Patshahi Dasvin Ki on the basis of manuscripts which carry the dates 1701 and 1709 respectively. The Sri Gur Sobha was begun in 1701 and completed in 1708. The date 1711 generally assigned to it has no support in evidence or logic. The Sri Gur Sobha, written by a Sikh author who had great admiration and veneration for Guru Gobind Singh, acquires a peculiar significance. The Parchian is significant for referring to ‘Guru Granth’ and the official seal of Guru Gobind Singh which bore the same inscription as the one that appears later on the seal used by Banda Bahadur and the coin struck by the Sikhs at Lahore in 1765.

Some of the works included in the Dasam Granth are seen as relevant for gender relations by Doris R. Jakobsh and Nikki-Guninder Kaur Singh in two opposite ways. Both the authors assume that these works were written by Guru Gobind Singh whereas they were composed by court poets. None of these extreme views of gender-relations among the Khalsa makes sense for Mann. He cites other evidence from Sikh cources which is gender-related and presents the female members of Guru’ families in an important light.A great sensitivity and consideration for woman is reflected in the Prem Sumarag. Indeed, the idea of equality was forcefully reinforced by the institution of the Khalsa and pahul was seen as relevant for women too. Consequently, the issue of gender relations in the Khalsa order acquires an exceptional importance.

W. H. McLeod’s hypothsis about rahit and the doctrines of Guru Granth and Guru Panth as products of the eighteenth century stands refuted by his own admission that the Sri Gur Sobha was composed in 1711 (even though this view stands modified by now) and that the Nasihatnama (which contains the raj karega khalsa couplet) was composed only a few years later (even though this view too stands much modified). Mann’s view that not only the Prashan-Uttar but also the Tankhahnama, the Rahitnama of Prahilad Singh, the early section of the Rahitnama of Chaupa Singh, and the Prem Sumarag were compiled before or soon after 1700 carries the implication that the bulk of the Khalsa rahit was normatively in place during the lifetime of Guru Gobind Singh and very little scope was left for any major change later. I have no hesitation in taking this evidence seriously because I have already argued that the Sakhi Rahit Ki as well as the Prem Sumarag and the early portion of the Rahitnama of Chaupa Singh were composed or compiled in the early decades of the eighteenth century.

Evidence for the idea of ‘Guru Granth’ is earlier even than that of the Sri Gur Sobha, according to Mann, and I have argued that the doctrines of Guru Granth and Guru Panth became current together after Guru Gobind Singh’s declaration in 1708. The idea put forth by McLeod that the doctrine of Guru Panth crystallized earlier, stands refuted by the emphasis laid on the doctrine of Guru Granth in The Chaupa Singh Rahit-Nama and Koer Singh’s Gurbilas Pathshahi 10 (which can be placed in the 1750s and not in the early nineteenth century as suggested by some scholars).

On the issue of the identity of the Khalsa, both Harjot Oberoi and Jeevan Deol have emphasized its distinctive character and asserted that this was something altogether new. They minimize the importance of the earlier evidence that supports the idea of a distinctive identity of the Sikhs: the Gurbani, the Janamsakhis, Bhai Gurdas and the Dabistan-i Mazahib. The Khalsa identity became more visible and emphatic than the earlier Sikh identity. The evidence of the Ugradanti on the Khalsa as the ‘third panth’ is interesting. The essential continuity of the earlier Sikh tradition is evident in the realm of ethics as much as in the centrality of the Adi Granth and in some of the markers of identity like the institution of dharmsal. The new markers of identity relate mainly to the realm of politics, directly and indirectly.

Not only the material objects like forts, cannons and light guns, copper plates (tamar pattar’s) as symbols of political patronage, portraits of the Guru, an official seal, a flag and possibly a mint but also illuminated hukamnamas have a direct bearing on the idea of sovereignty. One of the three portraits reproduced by G.S. Mann presents Guru Gobind Singh sitting on the throne with an attendant waving the ceremonial whisk; another portrait shows him hunting a lion. Both the portraits are the work of the masters of the craft. A boyhood portrait acquired from the Patna area is also of excellent quality. Two profusely illuminated hukamnamas of 1698 and 1699, the first addressed to Sikhs ‘in all four coners of the world’, partly served the same political purpose. The convergence of literary and material evidence on the political dimension of the context is perhaps more important than any other aspect precisely because this dimension of the life of Guru Gobind Singh has remained largely neglected.

With all this new information and reorientation of the context, and with a somewhat modified approach to scholarly discussion, it may now be possible for someone to work toward a more authoritative biography of the darvesh-king whose noble exterior was inspired by deep spiritual life than the Guru Gobind Singh by J.S. Grewal and S.S. Bal which has served as a ‘seminal text’ and ‘an authoritative work’ since its first publication in 1967.

Posted on February 22, 2010

SARDAR MAHAN SINGH DHESIANNUAL LECTURE ON GURU GOBIND SINGH:
NEED OF A NEW PERSPECTIVE SARDAR MAHAN SINGH DHESI ANNUAL LECTURE.

By Professor J.S. Grewal
17 February, 2010 Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar


Sardar Mahan Singh Dhesi, a pioneer Punjabi settler in California, spent almost half a century in USA. He lived in California more than half of his life from 1902 to 1945. The annual lecture has been instituted by Dr. Autar Singh Dhesi (91-9815964759), grandson of Sardar Mahan Singh Dhesi and former Professor and Head, Department of Economics of Guru Nanak Dev University.

2010 Sardar Mahan Singh Dhesi Annual Lecture will be delivered by Dr. J.S. Grewal, Professor of Eminence, Centre for Historical Research, Punjabi University, Patiala and former Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar at Guru Nanak Dev University on 17 February, 2010. Dr. Grewal will speak on Guru Gobind Singh: Need of a New Perspective.

With his rich heritage, Sardar Mahan Singh embodied the lofty civilizational values of altruism, charity and compassion for others. All along, he generously contributed to various activities initiated in California for social and educational uplift of rural Punjab. As an illustration of his compassion and concern for the welfare of fellow beings, Sardar Mahan Singh allowed surgeons to remove muscles from one of his legs to repair the limbs of a virtually crippled man from his village. He did this despite forewarnings of the surgeons that he might suffer cruciating pain in his leg later, which he did for his remaining years. Yet, as a token of his magnanimity, he bequeathed a part of his estate to this co-villager. Earlier, he could not bear a young nephew of the beneficiary of his generosity and large heartedness being refused entry to the U.S. as young man’s real uncle was not in a position to furnish the needed surety as per the then prevailing law. Later, he continued to assist the Youngman to complete his study to become a dental surgeon who served in the U.S. armed forces during the World War II. One can go on enumerating such examples of his generosity and altruistic behavior.

Ancestral Background of S. Mahan Singh Dhesi Mahan Singh Dhesi was the eldest son of Dewan Dhesi, 16th direct descendent of Chaus Dhesi who had about 3,500 acres of fertile land under his control in the Manjki area of Jalandhar district. Mahan Singh Dhesi’s mother belonged to an aristocratic family of Jadali near Phagwara, associated with Maharaja Ranjit Singh, later bestowed with the title of Zaildar. Mahan Singh Dhesi was married to the eldest daughter of Bapu Waryam Singh, head man (numbardar) of village Virk, near Phagwara. Mahan Singh Dhesi’s only son, Milkha Singh also inherited the title and property of Bapu Waryam Singh as his adopted son. Milkha Singh Dhesi’s wife belonged to direct descendants’ house of a princely state centred on Phagwara, covering vast tracts of present districts of Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Nawanshehar, and Hoshiarpur. One of the famous rulers of this state was Raja Hakumat Rai. Mahan Singh Dhesi’s only daughter, Kartar Kaur was married to the youngest son of Sardar Bahadur Sardar Chur Singh Zaildar of Cheema Khurd near Nurmahal. Chaus Dhesi had a number of illustrious descendents in the 17th and 18th centuries. The most renowned among them has been Baba Sang (Jodha) Dhesi, a revered Sikh Saint associated with Guru Arjan Dev. He preached universal brotherhood and oneness of mankind. He was 9th direct descendent of Chaus Dhesi.

Thus wrote Bhai Gurdas (Saint Paul of Sikhs) about Baba Ji:
Dhesi Jodh Husang Hai Gobind Gola Haas Milanda Vaar 11, Pauri 23. Jodha Dhesi with Noble Face His Devotee Interacts With Grace

Bhai Sangtu Dhesi was a Commander (General) of Guru Hargobind’s army. Bhai Bakat Dhesi, a writer in the court of Guru Tegh Bahadur, was assigned the duty to record activities of young Guru Gobind Singh. Bhai Bakat Singh Dhesi’s grandson, General Nanu Singh Dhesi (10th descendent of Chaus Dhesi) was a distinguished army commander of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur who decisively defeated the army of ruler of (Sirhind) Fatehgarh Sahib.

Sources: Family Records; Revenue Records, Tehsil Phillour. Published sources complied by Harbhajan Singh Dhesi (093562670267) for his forthcoming book on Dhesis.

Posted on February 15, 2010

THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM IS HOLDING ITS ANNUAL MEETING
IN DAVOS WITH THE THEME “RETHINK, REDESIGN, REBUILD".


Prof. Autar Dhesi & Dr. Ronki Ram’s comments

Dear All
BBC London:
The World Economic Forum is holding its annual meeting in Davos with the theme
"Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild". What issues should participants focus on?

Following are Professor Autar Dhesi's response.
(Added: Thursday, 28 January, 2010, 10:02 GMT 10:02 UK)
The US owes to its citizens and, indeed, the world community to have a well functioning financial system to ensure sustained growth of the world economy. President Obama has rightly focused on the required institutional changes in the US. He should also give lead in working out a strategy for revamping the international economic order in accordance with the emerging needs and aspirations. A strong message should come from Davos in favour of overdue institutional changes at the world level (Autar Dhesi, Chandigarh).
Professor Autar Dhesi


Let us first understand that world financial system we have is the out come of what inspired on the eve of the end of the World War II. at Bretton Woods. The IMF was created to promote international monetary co-operation and amicably resolve the interwar economic imbroglios. World Bank (IBRD) aimed at reconstruction in the war-torn Europe as well as development in the then non-socialist world. GATT, later on, WTO etc. followed the Brettonian logic in their complex financial transactions. The current Obama led US regime is terribly different from the one that gave birth to post WW II international economic order. Mr Obama became US President on the fat promise of CHANGE; that promise must unfold in the international financial realm too in order to reach in its conclusive end. It has to transcend its outmoded power-block thinking. World has to learn anew how to face common challenges, economic, political as well as ecological which are global in their content and form. Such globally common issues are indivisible and they require collective handling. It is in this context that Professor Dhesi’s emphasis on “overdue institutional changes at the world level” assumes critical importance.
Ronki Ram, (Dr.)
Chair, Dept. of Political Science, Panjab University, Chandigarh,
India

Posted on February 03, 2010

SOCIAL INCLUSION IN UK
ARE ETHNIC MINORITIES STILL DISADVANTAGED?

Prof. Autar Dhesi & Dr. Ronki Ram’s comments


Dear All,
Below are Professor Autar Dhesi’s comments on a News item on BBC News London, Published on Saturday, 16 January, 2010. Are ethnic minorities still disadvantaged?

Being black and Asian in the UK no longer mean you will be automatically disadvantaged, Communities Secretary John Denham has said. Do you agree?
(Published: Thursday, 14 January, 2010, 10:33 GMT 10:33 UK)

COMMENTS
[Any observer of socio-economic milieu in Britain would largely agree with John Denham. Ethnic communities certainly enjoy better space than before. As John says a lot more needs to be done. I am sure a prosperous, confident Britain can handle such social irritants with ease. The source of British strength is tolerant, placid social matrix, underpinned by enduring liberal traditions.
These communities can also strengthen the core British values by participating in the mainstream social processes
<Autar Dhesi>


I agree with Professor Dhesi. He surely knows what he is talking about. While living and studying in Britain, he made a notable contribution to community relations, especially through his community work and writings. While in India he did some solid community work in villages of Punjab and proved that through inclusive approach one can overcome ‘ethnic-stereotypes’ and facilitate an egalitarian development in a win-win type situation. On the basis of his rich experiments in the domain of social capital, he wrote intensively on capacity building among ethnic circles and his field-based research has been carried in world-wide reputed academic journals.

With rational, liberal and pragmatic approach to life, Professor Dhesi could easily stride across various social divides effortlessly. The unpleasant experiences due to serious difficulties created by some powerful vested interests could not deflect him from his chosen path of tolerance, goodwill and empathy for others. Any thinking person would take his comments seriously. He was far ahead of his contemporaries in emphasizing ethnic community’s participation in mainstream social processes to ensure rightful place for such varied communities in the British society.
With Best Wishes
Ronki Ram (Dr.), Chairperson, Dept. of Political Science Panjab University Chandigarh (India)
Posted on January 21, 2010

WILL US INTELLIGENCE REVAMP WORK?
Professor Autar Dhesi & Dr. Ronki Ram’s comments

Followings are Professor Autar Dhesi’s comments on: BBC News London
Will US intelligence revamp work?
US President Barack Obama has announced changes to US intelligence gathering
and sharing, to prevent a recurrence of the Christmas Day plane bomb plot. Will it work?

Published on: Saturday, 9 January, 2010, 11:54 GMT 11:54 UK

No gadgetry can substitute sophisticated human intelligence network. The quality of intelligence is contingent on the level of human capital in the network. Yet, the presence of social capital is a necessary facilitator. A society enjoying strong social capital is inclusive and has inbuilt checks against deviant behaviour.

So the key policy issue is to nurture and sustain such checks by strengthening social capital. Recent health policy action is a positive step. Security needs mix of policies.

I think in contemporary time’s security needs to be analyzed in a larger perspective. It is no more merely a physical state-of-affair. It involves different socio-cultural, economic, psychological and even ecological factors in the multi-faceted post-modern world in which we live all. Its equally important dimension is that it can not be pursued in parts; it needs to be operated upon holistically. Security is inter/intra woven. My security is proportionally dependent on the security of the ones among whom I have to move in the individual/domestic domain as well as internationally. Interestingly enough in the contemporary world the demarcations between domestic and international are shrinking very fast. It is difficult to pin-point where “domestic” realm ends and the “international” begin. In such an inter-meshed world security needs to be reviewed afresh.

It is in this context that Prof. Dhesi’s comments deserve critical attention. He emphasized on ‘strong social capital’. I think, what is most engagingly required in today’s security is to invest in the hitherto neglected arena of mutual relationship both at the national and international spheres. My security should not be somebody’s threat! It should be the other way round. Security is mutual; indivisible. It is holistic. Moreover, it should be eco-friendly. Security from natural calamities and disasters lies in pre-emptive measures. Nature should not be seen in we and other equation. So is the social milieu. For a stable security based on sound intra/inter-personal relationship nurturing social capital is prerequisite.

Ronki Ram ( Dr.)
Chairperson, Dept. of Political Science, Panjab University, Chandigarh (India)
Posted on January 16, 2010

DEMOCRACY IN IRAN
PROFESSOR AUTAR DHESI & Dr. RONKI RAM’S REMARKS
Autar Dhesi, Chandigarh.
Dr. Ronki Ram

Cyrus was still being cited in the twenty-first century. In accepting her 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, Shirin Ebadi said:

I am an Iranian. A descendant of Cyrus the Great. The very emperor who proclaimed at the pinnacle of power 2500 years ago that "... he would not reign over the people if they did not wish it." And [he] promised not to force any person to change his religion and faith and guaranteed freedom for all. The Charter of Cyrus the Great is one of the most important documents that should be studied in the history of human rights.

http://www.sfsepehr.com/Photo/images/Iran/Cyrus_II.jpg

Dear All,
Below are Professor Autar Dhesi’s remarks on:
What will bring calm to the violence in Iran?
(BBC News, London)

Added: Monday, 4 January, 2010, 14:05 GMT 14:05 UK

It looks there is no immediate respite for the hapless Iranian people unless the ruling elite realise the inevitability of change. However, the country is in the midst of a slow, long drawn painful process of transition to an open democratic dispensation. So the reformists must continue their struggle for change in a peaceful way.While mobilising the moderate elements within the country, they need to draw on alltheir sinews to muster diplomatic supportfor their cause internationally. Good luck
Autar Dhesi, Chandigarh.

I agree with him. Violence can not be met with violence. Change often faces resistance; violent and otherwise too! However, examples of peaceful transition, though a few, tell us a success story of Human march even in the face of violence. Social transformation by any method short of peace could not sustain for a long. It needs to be raised on a large scale consensus involving all the stake-holders in the social set-up. That requires a thorough spade work. Peaceful method is not a simple devise. It rather requires an extra mile to go. When all dialogue fails violence commence. But still the violence never put an end to the issue over which it escalates. At the most, violence can brush the issue under the carpet, but will not resolve it permanently. To resolve an issue in its real stance, one needs to reach its roots that too along with the perspective of the ‘other’. It is here that conflict resolution has to be peaceful and to be pursued by democratic methods.

Iran has a great civilization on its back. It has all the capacities to emerge victorious of all the challenges on its way. Democratic and peaceful Iran is the need of the region as well the entire world. Let it come to play its long over-due role in bringing peace in this part of the world by first bringing democracy in its domestic set-up by turning it in to an all-inclusive social domain.

Ronki Ram, Chairperson, Dept. of Political Science Panjab University, Chandigarh (India).
Posted on January 13th, 2010

VALUE OF PARENTS...
Sent by "Shashi Paul"

An 80 year old man was sitting on the sofa in his house along with his 45 year’s old highly educated son. Suddenly a crow perched on their window. The Father asked his son, "What is this?" The Son replied "It is a crow". After a few minutes, the Father asked his son the 2nd time, "What is this?" The Son said "Father, I have just now told you "It's a crow". After a little while, the old father again asked his son the 3rd time, what is this?" At this time some ex-pression of irritation was felt in the Son's tone when he said to his father with a rebuff. "It's a crow, a crow". A little after, the Father again asked his son t he 4th time, "What is this?" This time the Son shouted at his father, "Why do you keep asking me the same question again and again, although I have told you so many times 'IT IS A CROW'. Are you not able to understand this?"

A little later the Father went to his room and came back with an old tattered diary, which he had maintained since his son was born. On opening a page, he asked his son to read that page. When the son read it, the following words were written in the diary :- "Today my little son aged three was sitting with me on the sofa, when a crow was sitting on the window. My son asked me 23 times what it was, and I replied to him all 23 times that it was a Crow. I hugged him lovingly each time h e asked me the same question again and again for 23 times. I did not at all feel irritated I rather felt affection for my innocent child". While the little child asked him 23 times "What is this", the Father had felt no irritation in replying to the same question all 23 times and when today the Father asked his Son the same question just 4 times, the Son felt irritated and annoyed.

So.. If your parents attain old age, do not repulse them or look at them as a burden, but speak to them a gracious word; be cool, obedient, humble and kind to them. Be considerate to your parents. From today say this aloud, "I want to see my parents happy forever. They have cared for me ever since I was a little child. They have always showered their selfless love on me..

They crossed all mountains and valleys without seeing the storm and heat to make me a person presentable in the society today". Say a prayer to God, "I will serve my old parents in the BEST way.. I will say all good and kind words to my dear parents, no matter how they behave.

Posted on January 10, 2010

 

ISSUES OF IDENTITY AMONG THE VALMIKIS AND RAVIDASSIS IN BRITAIN :
EGALITARIAN HERMENEUTICS FROM THE GURU GRANTH SAHIB

Dr Opinderjit Kaur Takhar
– Department of Religious Studies,
University of Wolverhampton , England .

Abstract

This paper aims to discuss issues around the often taboo topic of caste in Sikhism. The Guru Granth Sahibji repeatedly reminds its readers of the egalitarian nature of the Sikh faith. A faith which almost promises to eradicate notions of pollution attached to the lower castes. This paper endeavours to unearth the hermeneutics of the Guru Granth Sahibji in order to assess why lower caste members of the Panth felt that their Mazhabi labelling has prevented their equal assimilation into the Sikh Panth. Two such groups in Britain today are the Valmikis and the Ravidasis. The Valmikis, especially praxis at the Coventry Sabha, pose very interesting dialogue as to who a Sikh is. The Sabha is unique in the fact that it houses a copy of the Guru Granth Sahibji alongside that of Valmiki’s Ramayan. This paper attempts to address the root causes of the Valmikis’ and Ravidasis’ emphasis on a distinct identity from Sikhs. Was this move towards religious autonomy politically or socially motivated?

Introduction

The issue of Sikh Identity has raised many insightful debates and forums amongst academics and the Sikh community at large. Two caste based communities – the Ravidasis and Valmikis present interesting perspectives to the role of caste in the Sikh Panth. Indeed, the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahibji allude to the fact that caste discrimination should not be practised by followers of the Gurus. Then why is it that many of the former Punjabi chamars and chuhras have established their distinct identities from both Sikhs and Muslims? Informant testimonies from Valmikis and Ravidasis have been essential in the ethnography employed to enhance my understanding of these respective communities. I strongly believe that the move towards distinction in terms of identity has primarily resulted from the existence of caste in Sikhism. A discussion of this topic immediately raises many paradoxes: on the one hand Sikhs are encouraged to dismiss the practice of caste differences, and yet on the other, marriages continue to be endogamous. In this respect, one could argue that the Sikh Gurus’ emphasis was on removing the social stigma of prejudice associated with caste rather than obliterate it from society altogether. Also, I argue that, on the British scene in particular, the membership of many Gurdwaras is caste based. There are the Jat Gurdwaras, the Ramgharia Gurdwaras and the Bhatra Gurdwaras – to mention a few. Therefore, were the origins of separate Gurdwaras of the Dalit classes going to an inescapable feature of the British diasporan community anyway? A foreword by Jeremy Corbyn MP in a report on the Dalits and caste discrimintion in the United Kingdom , states that he ‘was horrified to realise that caste discrimination has actually been exported to the UK through the Indian Diaspora. The same attitudes of superiority, pollution and separateness appear to be present in South Asian communities now settled in the UK .’

At times conducting research amongst the Sikh, Valmiki and Ravidasi communities can present its own problems. Sometimes informants are very open and talk passionately about their experiences. At other times however, the very taboo subject of caste within the Sikh community and moreso, its prejudice as experienced by the Valmikis and Ravidasis causes some informants to withhold information. To this end, I have examined the egalitarian hermeneutics of the Guru Granth Sahibji and then compared these with actual practice within the British communities of Sikhs, Ravidasis and Valmikis.

Egalitarian ideologies in Gurbani

The mass conversion of the lower castes, in particular the chamars and chuhras, into the Panth from Hinduism was a significant step towards an aspiration to get rid of social (and religious) stigmas associated with the notion of untouchability. The egalitarian teachings of the Guru Granth Sahibji have important implications when discussing Sikh identity. Both the Ravidasis and Valmikis adamantly voice the prejudice they faced from the higher zat Sikhs which thus led to their breaking away from the Panth and seeking social and religious status through their distinct identities as separate from both Hindus and Sikhs. The use of the Guru Granth Sahibji during worship at many Ravidasi centres in Britain is primarily due to the fact that forty-one hymns composed by Ravidas are contained within the Scripture. Ravidasis have alluded to a project currently underway in India whereby the hymns of Guru Ravidas found in the Guru Granth Sahibji and elsewhere will be compiled into one composite volume and this will replace the housing of the Sikh Scripture in many Ravidasi centres. How far this will truly be achieved amongst the more Sikh orientated Ravidasi communities in Britain is yet to be seen. As far as Valmiki centres are concerned, it is primarily the Coventry Temple that houses a copy of the Guru Granth Sahibji. The other centres use the Punjabi Ramayana of Valmiki and/or the Yoga Vasishtha (also believed to have been composed by the Sage Valmiki).

Significantly, the consonance of thought between Ravidas and the bani of Guru Nanak is probably the major factor for the former’s bani being included in the bhagat bani of the Guru Granth Sahibji. My contention is that both men can be regarded as adherents of the Northern Sant tradition. This would explain the synonymy between their banis. Akin to Guru Nanak, Ravidas believed in the freedom of all humankind and taught about the irrelevance of caste distinctions. His followers adamantly voice that: “Guru Ji succeeded in his aims when the Brahmins fell upon his feet after watching his miracles. Even kings and queens became his followers”. The bani of Ravidas, as contained in the Guru Granth Sahibji, is regarded as the most authentic of his compositions by the Ravidasis. Amongst others, substantial compositions by Ravidas are also found in the Pac-vani. It is necessary to examine the teachings of the Gurus that promoted parity between the different castes. After all, it is equality that attracted many lower castes to convert to the apparent egalitarian faith of Sikhism.

The hermeneutics of the Guru Granth Sahibji repeatedly stress the importance of God as being reachable by all human beings, regardless of one’s caste or social background. The importance of bhakti as the universal path to mukti is also accentuated. This was in sharp contrast to the practices prevalent in many Hindu temples where the lower castes were refused entry. Ravidas, in the Guru Granth Sahibji, teaches that:

The Lord fathers no one but him who is in love with Him. (AG 658)

The importance of this loving relationship with God, bhakti, is a salient feature of Sikh teachings. Importantly, it emphasized the universality of all human beings in being able to reach God through unconditional love. It could well be argued, as indicated above, that the similarity between the teachings of Ravidas and the Sikh Gurus was as a result of the influence of the Northern Sant tradition. As McLeod has highlighted, the superiority of one’s caste as taking the individual closer to God was a common rejection of the Sant tradition. In many instances, Ravidas in his works contained in the Guru Granth Sahibji alludes to his association with the Sants, tis therefore, could strengthen the contention that both men belonged to the Northern Sant tradition. On this point, Ravidas writes:

 

The Saints who are Thy body, Thy life-breath, O Lord,

Them, through the Guru-given Wisdom, have I found, O God of gods.

O God of gods, Bless me with the Society of the Saints and with the Joy of

hearing their Word and with their Love. (AG 486)

The egalitarian hermeneutics of the Guru Granth Sahibji gave the lower castes many enticing incentives to join the Panth in masses. The promise of equality for all who entered the Panth must have been very attractive for the lower castes, who were openly discriminated upon by higher caste Hindus. There is no mention of the Harijans or Dalit classes in the Rig Veda, especially in relation to the Hymn of the Purushukta in which the origins of the four classes of Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudra are mentioned. This, to some degree, justified the ancient ill-treatment of the lower castes as being ‘outcastes’ or ‘untouchables’. Basham suggests that the Outcastes were probably of aboriginal tribes which came under the sway of the advancing Aryans. He is of the opinion that the Candalas were the chief group and the term Candala came to be used loosely for many types of Untouchables. Koller is of the opinion that the ‘untouchable was cast out of society, usually for offences against the established dharmas . . .the children of outcastes were automatically outcasts too, and thus their numbers increased’.

Interestingly, Lynch believes that Untouchables were the result of mixed-caste marriages. If we are to accept that the varnas were endogamous, then the offspring of mixed zat marriages would be regarded as being ‘impure’. But then how would a Hindu have accounted for individuals from the epics as being accepted into society as a result of mixed caste marriages? It is well to remember here that in the Mahabharata, Dhritirashtra’s half-brother Vidhur was from a Shudra mother. This apparent contradiction was overcome by the acceptance of the anuloma marriage where the husband was of a higher class than his wife. Whereas the pratiloma marriage, where the wife’s class was higher than the husband’s was always frowned upon. It was against such attitudes that the Sikh Gurus bravely confronted the prejudice of caste based society and endeavoured for all entrants to the Panth to be treated as equals. Their stance on the irrelevance of caste distinctions is perhaps best summarized in the following words from the Guru Granth Sahibji:

Recognise Lord’s light within all and inquire not the caste,

As there is no caste in the next world. (AG 349)

Guru Arjan believed that all castes had equal standing, he taught:

He, who by Guru’s instruction utters the one Name, He gathers the pure glory.
The four castes of warriors, priests, farmers and menials are equal partners

in divine instruction. (AG 747)

Therefore, notions about the higher castes being closer to God were outrightly rejected by the Sikh Gurus through the hymns of equality in the Guru Granth Sahibji and through the development of the Sikh faith in practice.

Caste amongst Sikhs

 

Discrimination based on caste (zat) differences was a feature of Indian society that the Sikh Gurus strongly criticized. A Sikh was instructed to believe in the equality of all fellow human beings. A practice that was exemplified in the lives of the Sikh Guru’s themselves. The creation of the Khalsa itself in 1699 aimed also to promote equality by replacing caste names with ‘Kaur’ and ‘Singh’. With all these rules in place, how ever did the lower caste converts become the mazhabi Sikhs? Why is it that the Jat Sikhs retained their position in the Panth as Jats, the Ramgharia Sikhs remain members of the Ramgharia zat? Caste itself was never intended to be abolished. In theory at least, it was the prejudice and discrimination associated with the caste system that was seen as binding to a Sikh’s spiritual journey. The practice of endogamy ensured and continues to preserve caste distinctions amongst Sikhs. Both the Ravidasis and Valmikis exemplify an outstanding example of the fact that zat identity is a major criterion of Sikh identity itself.

The institution of the langar in all Gurdwaras promotes the very important notion of commensality associated with overcoming prejudice associated with caste distinctions. By encouraging people of all castes to sit and eat together, both Guru Nanak and Guru Amardas were revolting against the Hindu concept of commensality, where members of higher castes would not sit and eat with lower castes in fear of pollution. Singh has strengthened this belief by suggesting that the promotion of inter-caste commensality by the Sikh Gurus was remarkable in obliterating ‘one of the constitutive principles of the caste’. Guru Nanak’s famous story about a rich man, Malik Bhago and a poor man, Lalo, very cleverly illustrates his dislike and discarding of the prejudice associated with accepting food from lower caste individuals. Furthermore, the distribution of karah prasad in the Gurdwara illustrates the Sikh’s acceptance of all, regardless of caste, religion or social background. Additionally, Guru Arjan purposely designed Harmandir Sahib to have four doors of entry, signifying that it was open to all individuals. This was in sharp contrast to many religious places of worship that were unwelcoming to the lower castes. Furthermore, the laying of the foundation stone of Harmandir Sahib by a Muslim Pir by the name of Mian Mir, was further proof that the Sikh faith was for people of all castes and creeds.

The original panj pyare at the creation of the Khalsa in 1699 were all from different castes. They shared amrit from a common bowl: something that would have been alien according to traditional Hindu beliefs about ritual pollution. The eradication of zat names in favour of Singh and Kaur were further steps to illustrate the egalitarian principles of the Panth. Thus, the attraction of undertaking khande-di-pahul must have been extremely attractive and appealing for those lower castes who sought equality in terms of social and religious status. Grewal is of the opinion that: “The Khalsa had a plebain base. If anything, the spirit of equality, brotherhood and fraternization was reinforced by the Khalsa.”

Despite the efforts of the Sikh Gurus towards the equality of all beings, in theory at least, arguably caste prejudice did and continues to be practised within the Panth. Endogamy ensured and continues to ensure that one’s zat is transparent in relation to the marriages of offspring. There is no indication in the Guru Granth Sahibji, or in the practices of the Sikh Gurus themselves to suggest that the intermarrying between zats were acceptable. Speaking from within the Sikh community, I can say that an inter-caste marriage can bring great shame upon a family’s izzat. As remarked earlier, marriages within the Valmiki and Ravidasi communities continue to be endogamous also. The extent of prejudice towards the lower-caste Sikhs is highlighted by McLeod: “Outcastes were prohibited from entering many gurdwaras and the sacred karah prasad was preserved from their contamination.” This is one example amongst many which may have prompted the lower castes to seek equality elsewhere rather than merely on the sidelines of Sikhism and prior to that Hinduism. To this effect, Ghurye alludes to incidences of the severe beatings of chamars by higher caste Sikhs and Hindus. Surely, a God-loving Sikh would not retain notions of prejudice towards his or her fellow Sikhs? After all, is this not what the Gurus strongly denounced as an evil of society? Maybe the situation in practice could have been different had at least one of the Sikh Gurus been from a zat other than the khatri zat. Caste distinctions and prejudice are still very much present in Sikhism today as they were during the development of the Panth in its post Khalsa period. In the words of Khushwant Singh, ‘Sikhism’s crusade against the caste system has only been partially successful.'

Eventually, many movements and individual Mazhabi Sikhs began to show their dissatisfaction as not being regarded as on a par with the higher zats within the Panth. At times, it can be argued whether the treatment of the lower zats was any better than had they remained on the peripheries of Hinduism. Many of the Valmiki and Ravidasi informants I have visited remarked at how they were not allowed to prepare langar or karah prasad in many British Gurdwaras. Maybe it is such examples that caused the lower caste Sikhs to find equality in a complete distinction away from the Panth. A significant number of Ravidasis and Valmikis became so without the medium of Sikhism. This could explain many non-Sikh practices amongst the communities.

 

A distinct identity through the Ad Dharm movement

 

The wider recognition of Ravidas as Guru can be attributed to the fruition of the efforts of the Ad Dharm movement, the leaders and members of which also belonged to what is formerly referred to as the chamar zat. The Ad Dharm movement is instrumental in promoting a distinct identity for the followers of Guru Ravidas. The Ad Dharm movement began to flourish in Punjab in the 1920’s as the promulgator of equal status for the Scheduled Classes. It gained most momentum however, amongst the chamar zat probably due to the fact that the founder of the movement, Mangoo Ram, also belonged to the same zat. The name Ad Dharm was coined from the belief amongst the Scheduled Classes as being the original inhabitants of India , the Adivasis, before the arrival of the Aryans. The Ad Dharm sought a qaumic identity as being distinct from Hindus and Sikhs for the Scheduled Classes. The first meeting of the Ad Dharm movement took place in Jullundar in 1925. To the present day I have seen examples of many Ravidasis referring to themselves as Ad Dharmis.

Politically, the existence of the Arya Samaj had its subsequent effects on the anima of the founders of the AdDharm, most of whom had been educated in schools established by the Arya Samaj. Dayananda Saraswati (the founder of the Samaj) aimed at converting the lower castes back to Hinduism from Sikhism and Buddhism through the rite of shuddi, which in turn would give them certain rights and privileges. The ideal of equality however, was not adhered to in practice by the Arya Samaj although it promoted the ideal of social status through education. Thus, we see here a great deal of discontentment on the part of the Scheduled Classes who were constantly rejected promises of parity in society. The disappointment resulted in the Ad Dharm’s move towards a distinct identity from both Sikhs and Hindus as early as the 1920’s. One very significant custom that was introduced was the wearing of the colour red. Traditionally the adivasis were banned from wearing red due to its exclusive association with the Aryans. The traditional religious symbols of the Khanda and Aum were replaced by the equality term from the Upanishads ‘Soham’ meaning ‘I am That’. The Ad Dharm was as political as it was religious. It aimed at distinction from other groups in India through political power as a distinct nation of the ‘oppressed’ classes. This led to the formation of the All-India Depressed Classes Association and the All-India Depressed Classes Federation. Both organizations aimed at encouraging the Indian National Congress to remove untouchability.

As remarked earlier the efforts of the Ad Dharm gained most momentum amongst the chamar zat. The position of Ravidas was raised to Guru from mere bhagat as he was regarded by the Panth at large. The census of 1931 was to be instrumental in judging the identity of followers of Ravidas, and indeed, individual members of the Scheduled Classes. The census would have a separate identity option for member of the Scheduled Classes rather than simply enumerate them as Hindus, Sikhs or Muslims. The censugst the s returns showed that there were 4178, 789 Ad Dharmis in the Punjab in the 1930’s. The leaders of the movement themselves believe that the numbers could have been much higher had it not resulted in intimidation on individuals from higher caste Sikhs and Hindus. The point to emphasise here is that the developments of a distinct identity from Hindus and Sikhs were being promoted, especially amongst the Ad Dharmi followers of Guru Ravidas. The dissolution of the Ad Dharm was gradually beginning due to an over-involvement in politics. The sentiments however, were embedded in the minds of Ravidasis. Evidently, this is shown in their separate places of worship in many cities of Britain such as London , Birmingham , Wolverhampton , Coventry , Bedford , Oxford and Glasgow .

Ravidasis and Valmikis in Britain

Both the Ravidasi and Valmiki communities in Britain are well established and Punjabi in origin. The hymns of Ravidas are contained in the Guru Granth Sahibji. Ravidas is referred to as Bhagat by the Panth at large. The Valmikis take Valmiki, the alleged author of the Hindu Ramayana, as their Guru. Both the Ravidasi and Valmiki communities are caste-based institutions, made up of the former chamar and chuhra zats. Marriages within both communities remain endogamous.

The main scripture used during worship in many Ravidasi centres in Britain is the Guru Granth Sahibji itself. While it would seem obvious that a place of worship which houses the Guru Granth Sahibji is Sikh orientated, it is well to remember that in this case the hymns of Guru Ravidas, as contained in the Holy Scripture are given prominence during worship. Many Valmiki Sabhas no longer use the Guru Granth Sahibji. Instead they place emphasis on the Valmiki Ramayana and the Yoga Vasistha as the main Scriptural authorities. In these instances, the distinct identity from Sikhs is strongly emphasized amongst the communities. It is pointed out however, that the degree of distinction from Sikhs is more pronounced in some Valmiki and Ravidasi communities moreso than others. There does not seem to be uniformity here amongst all individuals from the two communities. Some individuals actually become quite agitated at the mention of their separation from the Panth and insist that they are Sikhs as much as other followers of the Gurus. On the other hand however, other communities leaders and individuals are adamant that their identity has nothing to do with the Panth – this is even if the informant is a keshdhari!

Many of the practices prevalent in the Valmiki and Ravidasi centres may be regarded as being Sikh in ethos with some additions that make them specifically Valmiki or Ravidasi. The practice of distributing prasad is very important in the Valmiki and Ravidasi centres. This could allude to the principle of equality amongst the followers – something that was not necessarily adhered to in practice upon their mass conversion to Sikhism. The Prasad in the Valmiki Sabhas however, is not always karah prasad. In the majority of Valmiki centres, with the exception of Coventry , it tends to be dried fruit and nuts. The majority of Ravidasi Centres however tend to distribute karah prasad, in line with the practice in Sikh Gurdwaras.

The emphasis on being distinct from Sikhs and Hindus, is best illustrated through the celebrations and practices that take place in the Valmiki and Ravidasi centres. Although diwali and to a lesser degree baisakhi, are marked; it is the celebrations of the birthdays of Guru Valmiki and Guru Ravidasi that are the highlights of the Valmiki and Ravidasi religious calendars respectively. The Southall Ravidasi Sabha celebrates the gurpurb of Guru Ravidas over three days in February by holding the forty-eight hour akhand-path. This is very Sikh orientated. However, the nishan sahib, or rather the chanda as Ravidasis refer to it, is changed on the gurpurb of Guru Ravidas rather than on baisakhi as is the practice in the Panth overall. Here then, the distinction from the Panth is clearly marked. The birth anniversary of Bhagwan Valmik – as he is referred to by the Punjabi Valmikis, is generally celebrated in October. The celebrations generally take the form of special readings from the Ramayana, followed by lectures on the life accounts and stories of the Great Sage Valmiki. There is no marked reading from the Guru Granth Sahibji (where it is present) on this occasion. Generally the whole of the reading of the Ramayana is undertaken as part of the celebrations, this usually takes a week to complete.

The nishan sahibs or chandas of the Valmiki centres are not changed on the birth anniversary of Valmiki, and neither on baisakhi. Instead, the Valmikis have ‘Flag Day’ over different dates in the year – this clearly marks them apart from the Khalsa Panth. Incidentally, it was at the Coventry Valmiki temple where baisakhi is given a special importance and celebrated in a joyous manner by readings from the Guru Granth Sahibji. Diwali is given special prominence amongst the Valmikis due to the origins of the celebration being embedded in the story of Rama and Sita as contained in the Ramayana. Here again, the shift from Sikhism is clearly marked in not associating diwali with the release of the Sixth Guru from Mughal captivation. The case of the Coventry Valmiki temple here again is interesting in terms of their identity. A number of informants at Coventry remarked that they celebrate diwali to commemorate the release of Guru Hargobind from prison.

The recital of ardas to mark the end of service both in the Ravidasi and Valmiki Sabhas is again a focal point to suggest the emphasis on a distinct identity. The Valmiki ardas is as follows:

 

Ardas samey Bhagwan Ji ham hain khade dewar

Hath dekar rakhna, benati baram bar

Man ki mala chalti jaye suwas suwas par nath

Vishay Vikaron se Prabhu rakhna dekar hath .

This can be translated as:

At the time of ardas dear God we are at your doorstep

Keep us always protected, this is our request to you
Help us to continuously devour thee

Keep us protected always.

Ravidasis recite the following ardas to mark the end of service in the Sabha:

Jo boley so nirbhay Shri Guru Ravidass Ji ki jai

This is translated as:

Fearless is the individual who recites the praise of Guru Ravidassji.

The preceding service in both the Valmiki and Ravidasi centres would have highlighted the importance of the teachings of Guru Valmiki and Guru Ravidas respectively. This would have been followed by talks about how the two leaders are exemplars for their followers. Ravidasi centres, since they utilize the Guru Granth Sahibji for the hymns of Guru Ravidas may occasionally have a lecture on the lives of the Sikh Gurus. This would not be the case in the majority of Valmiki centres – many of which are void of any art depicting Sikh history and folklore. Here again, the exception is the Coventry Valmiki temple where one can see art depicting the Gurus and the Rangretia connection to Sikh history. Here, particularly on Sangrand (when the Guru Granth Sahibji is read from) the lecture may concentrate on the lives of the Sikh Gurus. I found that the Bedford Valmiki temple also has a higher number of keshdharis than many of the other Sabhas. Here also, I gained the impression that many community members had no hesitation over claiming that, as followers of Guru Valmiki, they were still members of the Panth overall since they lived by the teachings of the Sikh Gurus also. This however, would seem to contradict the Valmiki code of conduct which states:

Valmiki Mandirs [are] to preach Valmikism only. A Valmiki Mandir must not have any other form of worship except Puja and readings, from the Ramayana and Yoga-Vasistha.

The order of marriage in the Valmiki and Ravidasi Sabhas again is very interesting in terms of the implications that praxis have upon the identities of both communities. As mentioned earlier, marriages within both communities are endogamous. There is generally no inter-marriage between the different Dalit zats. The Sabhas are usually the venues for the marriage ceremony itself. Interestingly, marriages in the Ravidasi community are performed by the couple taking four pheras around the Guru Granth Sahibji itself. However, this should not be interpreted as the community’s emphasis on the Sikh union of the couple. The Guru Granth Sahibji is used solely by the majority of Ravidasi Sabhas because it contains the most authentic works of Guru Ravidas. Importantly, nevertheless, it is the Sikh lavan hymn that is the prompt for the four circumambulations. It remains to be seen whether this practice will be replaced by a specifically Ravidasi orientated one when, and if, the Guru Granth Sahibji is eventually replaced by a composite volume of Ravidas’s works.

There is no uniformity over the marriage ceremony in Valmiki Sabhas. Here the order of service takes on the preference of the committee in charge of the Sabha. One particular wedding I attended was at the Coventry Valmiki Sabha. Since the Guru Granth Sahibji is present here, the couple took four pheras around the palki which houses both the Guru Granth Sahibji and the Ramayana of Valmiki. The Sikh lavan hymn was recited from the Guru Granth Sahibji. Hence, the form of marriage in this case took on a specifically Sikh character. The desires of the Central Valmiki Sabha in Southall is to unify the marriage ceremony across all Sabhas. To date, it has published a pamphlet entiltled: ‘Yoga Vasistha Vich Viyah da Sanklip’, in which the marriage custom in accordance to the Yoga Vasistha is summarized. The Sabha hopes that all Valmki Sabhas will adopt the practices set out in the publication. It does however, have major contentions for the housing of the Guru Granth Sahibji at the Coventry Sabha. Generally, the couple in all Valmiki Sabhas take four pheras around either the Guru Granth Sahibji, the Punjabi Valmiki Ramayana, the Yoga Vasistha or, in the case of the Southall Sabha, a life-size statue of Guru Valmiki. The four pheras, I was told, do not necessarily correspond to the lavan hymn. In the Sabhas that do not read the lavan hymn, the four circumambulations indicate the couple’s respect for their religion, the householder’s life, bearing children, and the wife’s obedience to her husband. The Oxford Sabha aims to have planning permission in order to allow marriages to be performed around the sacred agni. Hence, the move away from a Sikh (and Hindu) identity here is clearly emphasized through the marriage customs in the majority of Valmiki Sabhas in the United Kingdom .

Both the Ravidasi and Valmiki Sabhas play a very important role in the lives of their diaspora communities. Hence, the centres are referred to as Sabhas since they bring the community members together. It is also at the Sabhas that the younger generation of Valmikis and Ravidasis are made aware of their identity. Interestingly, with regard to identity amongst the youngsters, here again it depends on the background of parents and grandparents. When I spoke to some of the youngsters from both communities – there were some marked differences in what their actual perception of their identity is.

Some youngsters had keshdharis in their family, particularly grandparents. For these youngsters their identity was a “type of Sikh that believes in Guru Ravidas/Guru Valmiki”. Some young people remarked that they were neither Hindus nor Sikhs but Valmikis or Ravidasis. The same applied to older informants. Therefore, although the emphasis on distinction is, indeed, promoted through lectures and talks at the Sabhas, the degree to which this is totally adhered to by each and every community member is debatable.

 

The case of the Coventry Valmiki Sabha

 

In terms of identity, the Valmiki Sabha in Coventry raises some very interesting connotations. It is the only Valmiki place of worship in Britain to house both a copy of the Guru Granth Sahibji and Valmiki’s Ramayana side-by-side in the main prayer hall. This has caused unrest from the part of the Central Valmiki Sabha in Southall which insists that this practice should not be taking place within a Valmiki place of worship. It is also one of the Sabhas that proudly exhibits artwork relating to the Rangretia connection to Sikh history. The severed head of Guru Tegh Bahadur was carried by a member of the chuhra zat, Bhai Jaita (also known as Bhai Rangreta) and taken to the young Gobind Das. It was as a witness to Rangreta’s courage in taking the head from the Mughal invaders that the child Gobind, who also became the tenth Sikh Guru, spoke the famous words: ‘Rangreti Guru ki beti’. This event marks a substantial expansion of the Panth by members of the lower zats, especially the chuhras. However, a degree of hypocrisy overshadows the apparent egalitarian nature of the Panth. The distinctiveness of the lower zats within the Panth was salient by the use of the term mazhabi Sikhs for the lower castes. Therefore, how does one define the Coventry community? Are they Sikhs, Hindus or neither? Interestingly, many kesdhari Valmikis are present at the Centre also.

The Coventry temple was the first to be established in 1978 as a Valmiki centre in Britain . However, the first community of Valmikis was established in 1960, in the Bedford house of the late Bhagat Singh. This is also where the first Valmiki programme was held. Bhagat Singh had migrated to Britain from Singapore : there, too, he had been involved in the organization of the Valmiki community of Singapore . A few others worked closely with Bhagat Singh to organize the Valmiki communities in Britain . One of these men was Mr Niku Kalyan, who had migrated from Kenya . I was told that he had already built a Valmiki temple in Kenya before coming to Britain . Others included Mohan Lal Garewal, and Mahendar Lal Kalyan (President of the Bedford temple). Literature for the community at that time was being written by Pandit Bakshi Ram. Having their own places of worship is seen as a milestone by the Valmikis, and Ravidasis; bearing in mind that the lower castes were refused entry to the Hindu temples during Indian history.

During my visits to the Coventry Valmiki Temple , a substantial number of worshippers were adamant to state that there was no difference between them and Sikhs of the Panth. Some of the worshippers actually became quite upset at my questioning over whether they considered themselves as being outside of the Panth, as Valmikis. Interestingly, other worshippers at the centre proudly declared that they were apart from both Hindus and Sikhs and were Valmikis. A small number of worshippers said they were a type of Hindu as followers of the Great Hindu Sage Valmiki. So what does one make of the overall identity of the Coventry Valmiki community? And is it really appropriate to define the boundaries of identity into which the keshdhari Valmikis (and, indeed, keshdhari Ravidasis) can be neatly placed?

On the one hand, the very housing of the Guru Granth Sahibji would indicate that the Coventry Valmiki Sabha is a Sikh place of worship. However, in its contradiction of the Sikh Rehat Maryada, the Sabha also houses the Valmiki Ramayana within the same palki. There is a higher number than elsewhere of keshdharis amongst the Coventry Valmiki community. In my opinion, it is not possible or feasible to provide clear-cut boundaries in which to define all Valmiki followers. They are followers of Guru Valmiki who also follow the principles of Sikhism such as belief in the One Waheguru and the display of the forms of the Khalsa. In the same way that there are very often issues over defining a non-Khalsa Sikh as a ‘Sikh’, in the same way a substantial number of Valmikis would be excluded from a rigid definition if one were to be provided for the community as a whole. The mazhabi Sikh connection at Coventry is further promoted by the proud representation of the Rangretia connection to Sikh history. A number of homes I visited of members of the Coventry community also had pictures of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh in their homes. Additionally, there were also scenes from the Ramayana illustrated in artwork in the same homes.

The celebration of Guru Nanak’s birthday by the Coventry Valmiki Sabha is again an indication of the percentage of mazhabi Sikhs in the community.Is it possible to be both a mazhabi Sikh and a follower of Guru Valmiki? In this case, I would say that individuals concerned have no issue over this. Paradoxically, an informant from the Southall community had remarked that the Sikh Gurus have no real significance for the Valmikis. They are regarded as saints and reformers only. What is clear is that the links with Sikhism, when taking the Valmiki community as a whole, have not been completely severed. The continued connection with Sikhism at the Coventry Valmiki Sabha is best illustrated through the words of its community members:

 

The congregation in Coventry also included a high percentage from Sikhs who chose to stay within Valmiki community and therefore it was decided to allow worship of Guru Granth Sahib along with the Holy Ramayan and Yog Vasisth. Last twenty years in Maharishi Valmiki Temple [Coventry] have seen a perfect harmony between Sikhs and other Valmiki members which cannot be found amongst other Hindus and Sikhs in UK. . . this temple caters for the needs of Sikhs along with Valmikis whereas other temples are only and purely for Valmiki community.

Conclusions

Was the distinction in identity and separate places of worship inevitable among the Ravidasis and Valmikis in following trends amongst other Sikh caste groups? Although the other zats do, indeed, very often have their own caste based Gurdwaras in Britain , they still nevertheless claim to belong to the Panth. Therefore, it could be harsh discrimination from higher caste Sikhs that caused the mazhabi Sikhs to distance themselves from the Panth. Paradoxically, however, many Valmikis and Ravidasis whom I have spoken to are rather hesitant about the emphasis on moving away from a Sikh affiliation. They are well aware nevertheless about the reference to their places of worship as the chamar and chuhra Gurdwaras. This follows on from the fact that many Gurdwaras in Britain are caste based and referred to as the Jat, Bhatra and Ramgharia Gurdwaras.

From within the Valmiki and Ravidasi communities themselves the general consensus has been that bitter treatment by the higher zat Sikhs has led to the former mazhabi Sikhs finding equality through their distinction as Valmikis and Ravidasis. Movements such as the Ad Dharm have been politically influential in enabling the lower zats to gain recognition at a time of political unrest in the Punjab . Although the movement gained most momentum among the former chamars, the other Dalit zats soon followed in the aims towards egalitarianism. Increasingly, the younger generation are made to be aware of their distinction from Sikhs, and Hindus. However, the issue of identity is not so clear-cut. There are still individuals of the Valmiki and Ravidasi community who will refer to themselves as Valmiki Sikhs and Ravidasi Sikhs. This may be due to there being mazhabi Sikhs within the extended or immediate family. The perception of identity among the younger generation especially is interesting. In their study of the Valmiki and Ravidasi communities in Britain , Jackson and Nesbitt highlighted a young child’s view of her religious orientation:

 

I know what culture I am, Hindu, but it’s not as if we’re restricted to Hindu because we believe in Sikhism as well. It’s just one thing really.

This echoes similar views amongst slightly older Ravidasi youngsters. A teenager from the Southall community told me that:

The whole religion of Sikhism is divided by caste, therefore you would only visit the Gurdwara which your caste visits. The caste system also has limitations over whom I can and cannot marry.

The very use of the word ‘Gurdwara’ to describe the place of worship where this young Ravidasi lady visits is interesting. She went on to tell me that her Sabha in Southall is very often referred to as the chamar Gurdwara by others. She herself explicitly told me that she belonged to the chamar zat. On this point, a significant number of older Ravidasi and Valmiki community members did not want to be associated with the Panth at all and adamantly declared that as Valmikis and Ravidasis they are completely distinct from both Sikhs and Hindus. Nevertheless, the existence of many Sikh practices amongst them raises issues over their separation from the Panth. And here again, one is faced with the problems of trying to provide clear-cut boundaries in which to place the whole of the Ravidasi and Valmiki communities.

The Coventry Valmiki Sabha has raised its own argument on defining the religious identity of its community members. Although the Sabha does, indeed, house the Guru Granth Sahibji, it still also places emphasis on reading from the Valmiki Ramayana with the exception of sangrand. Then, of course, there are the significant number of keshdhari Valmiki and Ravidasis. Does their adherence to Khalsa ideals superimpose a Khalsa Sikh identity upon them? Can they be both Valmiki/Ravidasi and Sikh at the same time? The views of the Southall Sabha, which acts as a central administrative unit, shed light on the view that they are unhappy with Coventry ’s housing of the Guru Granth Sahibji. After all, the aim of the Sabhas is to promote distinction from Sikhs rather than assimilation within the Panth. The Guru Granth Sahibji has no importance in any of the Valmiki Sabhas in the United Kingdom other than in Coventry .

I end this paper with the point that Article 25 of the Indian Constitution suggests that Sikhism is not a separate religion. The constitution states that Sikhism is a part of the Hindu religion. Therefore, it is far too early in their development to suggest that the Valmiki’s and Ravidasis are two distinct faiths?

Notes

These terms are regarded as derogatory by the Ravidasis and Valmikis respectively. They are mentioned here merely in terms of their chronological usage.

Dalit Solidarity Network UK Report, July 2006. Commissioned by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, p.3.

The Laws of Manu especially sanction caste distinctions and treatment of the lower castes of Hinduism.

Bharti, B. and Mal, M. (undated) Guru Ravidass Ji: His Life and Teachings, Wolverhampton : Dalit Welfare Association UK, p. 32.

Singh, Gopal (1993 rp of 1960 edn) Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Delhi : World Book Centre, p. 633.

McLeod, W. H. “The Development of the Sikh Panth” in Schomer, K. And McLeod, W. H. (1987) The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India , Delhi : Motilal Banarsidass, p. 230.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib, translator Gopal Singh, p. 481.

Basham, A. L. (1967) The Wonder That was India, London : Sigdwick and Jackson, p. 145.
Koller, J. M. (1982) The Indian Way , New York : Macmillan, p. 73.

Lynch, O. M. (1969) The Politics of Untouchability, Columbia : Columbia University Press, p. 29.

Cole, W. O. (1982) Comparative Religions, England : Blandford, p. 44.

Singh, Manmohan (1996 rp of 1962 edn) Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Amritsar : Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, p. 1164.

Ibid., p. 2437.

Singh, J. (1986) The Sikh Revolution, Delhi : Bahri Publications, p. 204.

Bhatti, S. S. (1992) “The Golden Temple ” in The Sikh Courier, Autumn – Witer 1992, p. 10.

Grewal, J. S. (1998) Contesting Interpretations of the Sikh Tradition, New Delhi : Manohar, p. 205.

McLeod, W. H. (1992 rp of 1989) Who is a Sikh? Oxford : Clarendon Press, p. 69.

Ghurye, G. S. (1994 rp of 1986 edn) Caste and Race in India, Bombay : Popular Prakashan, p. 332.

Singh, Khushwant (1977) A History of the Sikhs: Volume 2, Delhi : Oxford University Press, p. 21.
Juergensmeyer, M. (1982) Religion as Social Vision, California : University of California Press,

p. 71. Ibid ., p. 23. Ibid ., p. 77.
An exception here is the Valmiki Sabha in Coventry , England . The practices of this particular Sabha are highlighted below.
This takes the form of a spiritual dialogue between Lord Rama and the Sage Vasistha. The Yoga Vasistha is believed to have been composed by Valmiki.

Cited from the Valmiki publication: Valmik Jagriti, 3 rd Issue, Southall Valmik Sabha p. 7.

The Rehat Maryada states: “No other book, however holy and readable, is to be installed in a Gurdwara as the Holy Guru Granth Sahib installed”. Amritsar Rehat Maryada (1978) Amritsar : SGPC, p. 6.

Information from a panel of speakers at the Coventry Valmiki Temple .

Jackson, R. And Nesbitt, E. (1993) Hindu Children in Britain , Staffordshire: Trentham Books, p. 28.

Forwarded by Amarjit Chandan UK
Posted on June 28, 2009

Recession Incites Racist Attacks on the Indian Students in Australia

            There have been a growing number of recent attacks on the Indian students in Australia .  For the last year, there were more than 70 such attacks.  In the last two weeks there have been more than 5 attacks.  Most of these attacks have been in the Melbourne area.  One cannot help noticing that recession has something to do with these attacks.

            There are about 400,000 foreign students out of these about 100,000 are Indian students.  Most of the Indian students work to support themselves.  Most of them want to settle in Australia after they finish their studies.  Since last year, when the recession hit Australia , the Australians started perceiving them as people who may threaten their jobs.  The economic crisis is known to sharpen contradictions between the different groups of people.

            The Australian government is denying that the attacks are racially motivated.  It is saying that the Indian students are soft targets and they also carry expensive lap tops and cell phones.  This attracts the attackers who just want to rob them.  Because most of the Indian students work, many times they have to travel alone in the trains at late night.  However, the victims are so severely beaten that they are critically injured and some of them need extensive hospitalizations.  These facts suggest that these attacks are not just motivated to rob them.

            Australia was a penal colony for the British and the criminals were exiled here from England .  Australia has a very strong history of racist immigration policy. Till seventies, only the white people were allowed to be the immigrants.

            Australia has been economically, politically and culturally closely integrated with the West, particularly England .  However, with the decline of the West and the rise of Asia , attitudes started to change.  Australia wanted to economically integrate with the rising Asia .  People started learning Chinese and Japanese languages. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd speaks fluent Chinese.

            Australia was moving towards a multicultural society.  Australia saw Singapore as a very good example of multiculturalism.  During the 2004 Olympics games Australia projected a multicultural image and the Australian aborigines were given a prominent role in the Olympic celebrations.  However, the recession and the economic crisis may be pushing Australia again towards racism and intolerance.  This will be a sad example of regression.

            Historically, many Western capitalist countries have seen racist attacks, particularly during the hard economic times.  We were told that the World is moving towards a global community in this era of globalization.  Globalization is an old wine in a new bottle.  We are seeing same types of racist attacks which we have seen in the past.

            One thing different from the past is the movement in India in support of the students.  We have never seen such movement before.  The Indian government has also put pressure on the Australian government.  The World media has also put the Australian government on the defensive.  Super star Amitab Bachan has refused to accept an honorary degree from the Queensland University of Technology.  We certainly hope that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will live up to his assurances that the Australian government will control the situation and protect all people in Australia .

   Sawraj Singh, M.D. F.I.C.S.

Chairman Washington State Network for Human Rights

Chairman Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice

North Korea and Iran Pose Serious Challenge to America

            The rising tensions in Korea and an increasingly defiant Iran pose a very serious challenge to America .  These two countries not only threaten the regional American interests but can also upset the American global strategy.  South Korea and Japan are very important countries for America to contain the growing influence of China .  These two countries are the only two Asian countries with important military bases and a large number of American troops.

            Two recent events have tremendously raised tensions in the Korean peninsula.  Former President Roh’s suicide and the North Korean nuclear tests and missile tests.  President Roh was the first leftist president Korea ever had and he is also the first Korean leader to commit suicide.  Roh wanted to fundamentally change the conservative and pro American policies of the Korean elite. His election campaign slogan was “Not to kow tow to the USA ”.  He echoed the sentiments of the youth, the ordinary people and the underprivileged people in Korea . It was under Roh’s leadership that China became the number one trading partner of South Korea .

            The rightist pro American military business complex did not like his policies.  The new president reversed Roh’s policies and revived the pro American, anti China , anti Third World and anti people traditional policies.  Roh was moving forward towards the Korean reunification. His policy toward North Korea was called the policy of Sunshine. South Korea was helping the North financially and the contacts between the two were rapidly growing.  However, the current administration has reversed that policy and the tensions between the two Koreas are rising to a point that an armed confrontation has become a distinct possibility.

            Many people in Korea blame the new president for persecuting Roh and his family under the pretext of investigating them for corruption. Because they believe the charges are politically motivated and are responsible for Roh’s suicide. There is great anger among the people and thousands of people are showing support for Roh.

            North Korea has conducted nuclear tests and continues to test its new missiles.  This really puts a lot of pressure on South Korea and Japan , the closest American allies in the region.  North Korea remains defiant to the U.N. and there is very little chance of revival of the six party talks to reduce tensions in the Korean peninsula.   The tensions may escalate and a missile or a nuclear attack by North Korea is not to be completely ruled out.  South Korea and Japan will be too much preoccupied with North Korea and will be unable to do much for containing China .

            Iran is also becoming increasingly defiant and is posing a formidable challenge to Israel , the main American ally in the Middle East . Over the last two decades, Israel has been constantly losing influence in the Middle East .   The Hezbollah defeated Israel in Lebanon and Israel was unable to score a clear victory against the Hamas. Iran has emerged as the leading power in the Middle East and has become the main supporter of the Hezbollah and the Hamas.  Iran has tested missiles which are capable of reaching Israel .  Iran continues to develop its nuclear capability.  Russia and China view Iran as a potential ally against the alliance of America , India and Israel .  The growing influence of the Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan and Pakistan will not only endanger Pakistan but will seriously affect India’s capability of helping with the efforts to contain China.

            Meanwhile China continues to increase its influence.  It just replaced America to become the largest trading partner of Brazil , the most powerful country in South America .  As America will be kept busy by North Korea , Iran and the Islamic fundamentalists, China continues to advance in Asia , Afghanistan and South America .            

Sawraj Singh, M.D. F.I.C.S. Chairman Washington State Network for Human Rights & Chairman Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice

The Victory of Congress,  
a big Setback for the Third Front

Sawraj Singh, M.D. F.I.C.S.
Chairman Washington State Network for Human Rights &
Chairman Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice

   The recent election results in India showed that the emerging trend of an alternative to the two party systems got a major jolt.   The congress party regained the ground lost over the last two decades.  Results were equally shocking for the BJP, the Hindu Nationalists party.  The congress party was also able to attract the minorities who were increasingly disillusioned with it.  Not only the Muslims, the Sikh and the Dalits but even the Maoists helped congress to score an impressive victory which proved all the predictions of a hung parliament wrong.

                The Muslims deserted the Samajwadi party of Mulayam Singh Yadav to come back to the congress’s fold.  After the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the Muslims were not only angry at the BJP who led the movement to demolish the Masjid but were also angry with the congress for not preventing this to happen.  They then started supporting the Samajwadi party.  However, they were frustrated with the party also and came back to their traditional stand of supporting the congress.

                It seems that Mayawati was going to challenge the two party systems with the emergence of Dalits as an independent force.  However, Dalits also decided to return to the traditional fold of congress party thereby weakening the movement toward becoming a nucleus for the third front.  Mayawati has to wait a little longer to emerge as the national leader. Advani, the leader of the BJP lost all chances of become India’s Prime Minister.  The Sikhs even though a small minority, can make a big difference in the outcome of the North Indian states.  Besides Punjab, their traditional stronghold, they can also make a difference in Haryana, Delhi, and some parts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pardesh. 

                The congress promoted Dr Manmohan Singh as the next Prime minister in a big way.  Not only it attracted many Sikh voters but also many other minorities were also attracted towards the congress because Dr.  Manmohan Singh was also perceived by many people as a person capable of leading India out of the present recession.  He also showed restraint in dealing with Pakistan after the Mumbai terror attacks.  Now it has become clear that he did the right thing and India is seeing a stable Pakistan as more of an asset rather than a liability.

                The Maoists also helped the congress to defeat the CPIM in West Bengal.  They attacked the CPIM particularly on the issue of Tata’s plant in Cingaur.  They joined Mamta Banerjee and weakened the CPIM in West Bengal thereby paving the way for the victory of the Trinmool Congress and a major setback for the leftist parties.

                The leftist parties have been always concerned about preventing the BJP from coming into power rather than focusing on developing the “Third Front” as alternative to the two party systems.  The third front is the most compatible with the Indian situation.

Posted on May 20, 2009

AMERICA AND EUROPE DEALING DIFFERENTLY WITH RECESSION
Sawraj Singh, M.D. F.I.C.S.
Chairman Washington State Network for Human Rights & Chairman Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice

            The way America and Europe are dealing with the recession is very different.  Europe has not been affected as badly as America has been.  It is becoming quite clear that in the long run the concepts of a utilitarian capitalist system, a social well fare state and capitalism with human face are superior to the American cut and dry consumerist capitalism.  The Europeans were able to develop much better social protective nets which have helped them to bear the pain of the recession much better than the Americans.

            America has always been dominated by the rightist ideas that the market forces have an inherent strength to handle the ups and downs in the economy and if left alone the market will always correct it self.  Therefore they are always opposed to the government interfering with the markets and people’s lives.  The fall of the Soviet Union and the Eastern block only made such thinkers even stronger in their belief.  President Regan was a champion of this point of view.  President Bush tried to carry this message forward but miserably failed.  The modern state is too complex and moreover globalization has made the present economies so complicated and interdependent and the Regan and Bush approach cannot work.

            Americans have suffered much more than the Europeans during the current recession.  More people lost their jobs, more people have lost their homes and more people have committed suicide or killed their families in America compared to Europe .  Not only have some workers committed suicide but some executives have also done the same.  Many psychiatrists feel that the recession has increased the incidence of suicide.  Far more people have attempted or thought of suicide than who actually committed suicide.

In Europe things are not as bad.  Most of the European states guarantee the basic necessities of their people such as healthcare and education.  The chances of losing one’s job are less than in America and the unemployment benefits are far more generous.

            I predicted many years ago that in the long run Europe will do better than America and Russia will reemerge as a very powerful country.  At that time, there were many who disagreed with these predictions but now even the mainstream American media seems to be in agreement with my concepts.  For example, I saw on MSNBC a comparison between the American and the European workers during the current recession.  The workers in Heidelberg Germany which can be compared to Detroit in America have suffered much less than their equivalents in America .  Both the cities are the automobile hubs for their countries.  The automobile workers in Heidelberg feel that their lives are not too much different than before the recession.  Things are very different in Detroit .  Two out of the three big automobile companies, General Motors and Chrysler are on the verge of bankruptcy with devastating effects on the workers.  Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen are going to survive during the current economic crisis.

            While the Western Europe is doing better economically than America , Russia is making a very big come back militarily.  The May 9th Victory parade in Moscow , celebrating the Russian victory over the Nazis, was very impressive.  It appeared as if Russia has decided to challenge the American military superiority in Europe .  This parade was the biggest show of force after the cold war.  There were more that 9,000 soldiers, more that 100 combat vehicles, Topol intercontinental ballistic missiles and the most modern S-400 defense missiles.  There were also fleets of fighter planes, bombers and the World’s largest cargo planes.

            Russia , together with China might have decided to challenge the West for a Third World war.  They must feel that this is the right time to end the domination of the economically weakened West.  Russia is challenging the American military in Europe and China may start doing the same in Asia .  China has already started challenging America navy near its borders.  After the cold war this is the first time that anybody has challenged the American navy.

            It is becoming quite clear that the American individualism is proving no match for the other countries collective perspective.  Europe is more socialized than America and seems to be doing better than America .  Russia is still more socialized than rest of Europe and continues to regain its lost status.  China has a much bigger collective perspective and appears destined to be the leading country in the twenty first century.

Posted on May 13, 2009

Unstable Nepal Heading to a Civil War

Sawraj Singh, M.D. F.I.C.S.
Chairman Washington State Network for Human Rights &
Chairman Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice

   The Prime Minister Parchanda of Nepal has just resigned and has decided to sit in the opposition.  The Nepali congress party and the United Communist Marxist Leninist party have welcomed the resignation and are in the process of forming a new government.   Without naming India and America , Parchanda left little doubt that this situation was precipitated by their intervention “Foreign intervention”.

            The Nepali congress party and the U.C.M.L are leaning toward India .  Similarly the elite in Nepal are thoroughly pro-India and pro-America.  India and America were never happy with the Maoists coming to power in Nepal because; the Nepali congress party has always been leaning toward India and the West.  It’s concept of Nepal has been more of an India ’s protectorate rather than a truly independent country.  The Maoists on the other hand, wanted Nepal to really become an independent country.

            The Maoists wanted to revise the India – Nepal Friendship Treaty because they felt that this did not treat both countries at equal level.  They even objected to the manner in which the Indian ambassador asked the Prime Minister of Nepal to come to the embassy and sign the treaty.  They considered this act as a historical example of the unequal treatment of Nepal by India .  The Maoists also felt that India was aligned with America in trying to contain China .  The Maoists wanted Nepal to form an independent foreign policy and treat India and China equally.

            The immediate cause for the resignation was related to General Katral, the chief of the Nepalese army.  General Katral was opposed to the integration of the 19,000 Maoist fighters into the Nepalese army.  Parchanda ordered dismissal of General Katral but the President Ram Baran Yadav asked Katral to stay on.  Parchanda felt that this was anti democratic and went against the constitution of Nepal which does not give the right to the President to override decisions taken by the Prime minister because the President is just a ceremonial head and the Prime minister is considered the real representative of the people of Nepal .  Parchanda said that his struggle is against the foreign intervention, for democracy and patriotism.

            It looks like that Nepal will not be able to resolve the present crisis by peaceful means and by the parliamentary politics.  The Maoist army and the regular army have very fundamental differences which cannot be resolved within the present system therefore a civil war appears very likely. 

            The army only agreed to enter into a compromise with the Maoists because it was being miserably beaten.  The army had lost control over most of Nepal and its influence was only limited to the area around Kathmandu , the capital of Nepal .  The Maoists agreed to the present compromise because they felt that when the army will collapse then the Indian army supported by America will invade Nepal and the Maoists did not feel that they had the strength to fight such a war.

            This is not the first time that the communists had to leave when they were in power.  First, it happened in Telengana and then in Kerala where a democratically elected government was dismissed.  The Maoists in Nepal made history when they came to power in the democratically elected government.  However, the present situation in Nepal will convince many Maoists that the concept of a peaceful revolution is not workable.  Mao emphasized that revolutions cannot be brought by peaceful means.  Not only in Nepal but in the entire Indian subcontinent the Maoists will be reading Mao’s thoughts on people’s war again.

Posted on May 07, 2009

Obama Wants the US to Accept The New Global Realities

Sawraj Singh, M.D. F.I.C.S.
Chairman Washington State Network for Human Rights &
Chairman Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice

            After 100 days in the office, President Obama came out very well as far as approval of his policies is concerned.  President Bush left the office with one of the lowest approval ratings, less then 30%.  President Obama has about 70% approval ratings.

            Bush and Obama represent two opposite extremes of philosophy.  President Bush represented views of the extreme right: America is the greatest country in the World.  America is the only superpower in the World.  America is the policeman of the World.  All the countries of the World have to agree with America .  America ’s rich have all the rights to make as much money as they can without worrying for what happens to the poor.  The minorities should have no grievances.  Human rights are only for the other countries and not for America .  America has the right to lecture other countries about democracy and human rights but no country has the right to question America on these issues.    

            Obama does not agree with Bush on all this.  He feels that time has come for America to change the policies which do not work and create more problems for us.  Both the foreign and domestic policies should change.  He knows that America is no longer the only superpower of the World and has to work with the other countries on more or less equal level.  He is willing to listen to the other countries he showed that attitude in Europe and in Latin America .  He got a very different kind of response then Bush there.

            Obama wants to fix the economy which Bush left in shambles.  He is aware that we can be asked to practice what we preach to others such as human rights, democracy and treat fairly all the people regardless of their race, color or national origin.  Most of the Americans agree with Obama that there is need to change.  Still change is not easy and will meet a lot of resistance.  The extreme right segment of the society is opposed to the change.  They only know one principle, America first, right or wrong.  This sounds very patriotic but when we do not accept that the question of right or wrong is the fundamental question then our patriotism cannot be genuine.

            Do we need to fundamentally change our policies or not?  This depends upon whether the global situation has really changed.  The present economic crisis has clearly shown that the engine of the World economy has shifted from America and Europe to China . Whereas, the American and the European economies are expected to shrink further in the year 2009, the Chinese economy is expected to grow more than 8% this year.  The biggest sign of the shift is that Taiwan , the most trusted American ally in Asia has decided to shift its alliance.  Taiwan is now looking at China to help it come out of the present recession. 

For the first time mainland China will be investing in Taiwan .  There will be direct flights from the main land to Taiwan and restrictions on traveling between the two will be released.

            Last year China became the largest trading partner for Latin America .  China has out maneuvered the West from most of the third World, Asia , Africa and Latin America .  China has now more access to their natural resources than the Western countries.  China continues to gain influence in the World Bank and the I.M.F.  China has defeated the encirclement policy of the West.  It has been able to neutralize the Western allies in Asia .  India has been effectively neutralized by a nuclear Pakistan .  Japan and South Korea will be neutralized by a nuclear North Korea and Israel will be neutralized by Iran .

            Obama represents the last hope of accepting changes peacefully.   If America does not want to accept the changing global realities then the only alternative is a Third World war and internal chaos.  Most of the Americans are willing to give Obama a chance to avoid that.

Posted on May 07, 2009

Obama to Change American Policy toward Latin America

Sawraj Singh, M.D. F.I.C.S.
Chairman Washington State Network for Human Rights &
Chairman Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice

            After Europe , Obama seems poised to change American policy toward Latin America .  He emerged as the most popular leader and center of attraction at the summit of the Americas in the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago .  This was quite a contrast to President Bush’s performance at the previous Americas ’ summit.  Hugo Chavez called Bush “Devil”. 

            This time, the Venezuelan President noticed a difference between Bush and Obama calling Obama an intelligent man compared to Bush.

            Even though a joint declaration could not be signed because of the differences over the inclusion of Cuba in the organization, yet every body agreed that the atmosphere at the summit was upbeat.  Even the most vocal critics of the American policies had only praise for President Obama.  President Bush managed to alienate most of the Latin American countries except for Columbia .  However, President Obama’s approach of a dialogue and willingness to understand other’s perspective was very much appreciated.

            President Obama has expressed willingness to hold discussions with the Cuban leaders.  The Cuban leaders have responded very well and they are willing to discuss any matter, including human rights issues.  Fidel Castro also appreciated Obama calling him an intelligent man.  Obama has lifted some restrictions on the Americans visiting Cuba .  However, all these leaders liked the   approach of President Obama.   

            Most of the World is noticing a big difference between President Bush and President Obama.  Bush was probably the most disliked President America ever had.  Bush wanted to maintain America ’s status as the only super power of the World and the policeman of the World.  Most of the World perceived him as blunt, arrogant and ill-informed.  Obama seems to understand that the days        of America being the only super power of the World are over and the World has changed from a uni polar World to a multi power World.     America has to change its policies according to the new global conditions.

            It is also becoming clear that a little change in the policies is not going to do it for America .  A fundamental change from the consumerist capitalism to a utilitarian capitalism and adopting the concept of a welfare state is required.  Without such radical change, America will not be able to come out of the present crisis.

Posted on May 07, 2009

Dr. Sawraj Singh Receives “Humanitarian Physician” Award!!

CONGRATULATIONS TO DR. SAWRAJ SINGH

www.ambedkartimes.com congratulates Dr. Sawraj Singh who was recently awarded with “Humanitarian Physician” award at South East Community Center in Yakima on April 20 th, 2009 . He is a well known international personality who also writes for Ambedkartimes. Once again many many congratulations to Dr. Singh and best of luck for his future. Editor

            The NAACP awarded “Humanitarian Physician” award to Dr. Sawraj Singh in Yakima at the South East Community Center on April 20, 2009 .  This award was given to Dr Sawraj Singh because of his services in the medical field as well as promoting the causes of equality and social justice in the central Washington area.  Dr Sawraj Singh has also promoted the cause of equal access to health care in the central Washington area.

            As a laser surgeon, he has helped to raise the awareness of people about skin cancer, particularly melanoma.  Skin cancer is very prevalent in the central Washington area.  Whereas, lasers are being used in many places for mostly cosmetic purposes, Dr Singh has used laser for mostly medical conditions. He has made his services available to the most deprived segments of population such as people on welfare, Medicare and who do not have medical insurance.

            As the chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and the chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice, Dr Sawraj Singh has promoted the causes of Social Justice, equality, acceptance and tolerance of diversity and multiculturalism.  He has also helped with the efforts to fight racial discrimination in medicine and advanced the cause of equal access to healthcare.

Posted on April 22, 2009

TIME HAS COME TO CHANGE
THE GLOBAL INSTITUTIONS

            With the rapid decline of the West and visible rise of the East, time has come to change the global institutions.  All these institutions were developed in an era when there was unquestionable and unchallenged domination of the West.  Therefore, all the global institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank and the United Nations reflect domination of the West.  With the change in the World situation, these institutions are losing their relevance and becoming ineffective.  These institutions should be changed to reflect the new global realities.

            I have been calling for such a change for the last several years.  However, I was surprised that the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave such a call.  While visiting Brazil and after listening to a bitter complaint from the Brazilian President Lula De Silva that the present global crisis was caused by white people with blue eyes, Brown said that he would support ending a six decade old Western domination of the IMF and the World Bank.  Brown said that voices of the emerging and developing countries have not been heard for a long time.  He said that the next head of the World Bank need not be an American or European.  He said that the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and all the international institutions must change now to meet the new realities.  Brown recognized that emergence of BRIC ( Brazil , Russia , India and China ) as a new power in the recent decades has increased pressure on these institutions to change.  Brown also recognized the growing influence of the Chinese as well as the Gulf States ’ wealth, which have pumped billions into global markets.

            Kevin Rudd, the Australian Prime Minister, said during a recent visit to Washington that time was right to reform the IMF and the World will call on surplus nations such as China , to bolster the IMF’s resources.  Rudd said that voting rights also need to be reformed.  He said that it is unsustainable that Europe has eight times (IMF voting) quota but only 1.7 times the G.D.P.

            Just like the financial institutions, the United Nations should also be changed to reflect the new realities.  The developing countries should have more say in the UN.  So far, the Western countries mostly had their way.  Now the West is losing influence economically as well as militarily.  Therefore, the UN has to be restructured to make it more effective.  Many countries have complained in the past that America has not shown much regard for the World opinion and pretty much did whatever it wanted to do.  Similarly, Israel has not shown much respect for United Nations’ resolutions.  This state of affairs will quickly change because of the change in the balance of power in the World.

            Russia and China have joined their forces to end the Western hegemony.  With Russia joining the East, the balance of power has also tilted to the East.  Recently, both Russia and China have challenged the American dominance in the Seas.  First, China challenged American Naval ship which came close to its coast.  Now, Russia has asserted its claim over the Arctic Ocean in a very big way.  Russia has announced plans to setup a military force to protect its interests in the Arctic .

            Warmer temperatures are making access to the Arctic easier.  This region has huge resources of oil and gas.  It is estimated that it has about 90 billion barrels of oil.  The warmer temperatures have also increased the chances of drilling for this oil.  Russia has put the other countries who claim a stake in the Arctic , such as Canada , Denmark , Norway and the US , on the defensive.  In 2007, a Russian expedition planted a Russian flag on the sea bed beneath the North Pole. 

            The Arctic oil will further enhance Russia ’s control over Europe ’s energy supply.  Already Europe is heavily dependent on the Russian gas.  Together, Russia and China seem determined to end the Western domination and America ’s status as the only Super power of the World.  The global institutions are bound to be effected by these developments.

Sawraj Singh, M.D. F.I.C.S. Chairman Washington State Network for Human Rights Chairman Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice
Posted on April 3, 2009

Dr. Saund & California s History- Social Science Framework & Textbooks

Dalip Singh Saund was born in village Chhajulwadi, Punjab , India , to a Sikh family. He earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Punjab before coming to Berkeley in 1919, for higher education. While at U.C., Berkeley , he earned a master's degree (1922) and a Ph.D. (1924), in mathematics, but could not get a job commensurate with his education. So, initially he worked as a foreman for cotton pickers, and later became a farmer and fertilizer distributor. He was an avid reader of books in the library and was in demand as a public speaker.

Dr Saund helped form the India Association of America and became its first president. During 1940s, Dalip Singh Saund, a Sikh immigrant from India , worked hard to change the law that prevented Asians from becoming U. S. citizens. After a long struggle, the bill introduced by Congresswoman Clare Booth and Congressman Emanuel Celler was passed by the U.S. Congress and was signed by President Harry Truman on July 3, 1946 .

Dr Saund was elected judge ( Justice of the Peace for Westmoreland Township) in Imperial County , but was denied the office because he had not been a citizen for a full year. He was again elected judge the following year and did serve as judge this time. In 1956, he became the first Asia-born American citizen to be elected to the United States Congress. He was Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California 's 29th congressional district until 1963. Congressman from India, 1960, reprinted in 2002, is an extraordinary life story. For additional information, please refer to www.saund.org/dalipsaund

Congressman Saund’s Lasting Contributionshave been recognized as follows.

  1. On Tuesday, July 12, 2005 , President Bush signed into law H.R. 120, designating the facility of the United States Postal Service at 30777 Rancho California Road in Temecula , California , as the " Dalip Singh Saund Post Office Building.”

  2. 2. On November 7, 2007 , Dr. Saund's portrait was unveiled in the Cannon Building of the House of Representatives in Washington , D.C. , as part of a series dedicated to historically important members of the Congress. Major comments made on this occasion follow.
    Congressman Jim McDemott, Washington Democrat, and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans: "We stand before the portrait of a man who stood the test of time and his portrait will inspire people to achieve their dreams. Hon. Saund, a man of humble beginning, rose to fame. He nurtured equality and justice. He was a trail blazer and his sense of purpose flowered when he became the Congressman. His power to make the difference regardless of whether you have turban or brown skin was amazing." Congressman Hon. Robert Brady concluded, " the portrait of Hon: Saund would be a beacon of hope and inspiration for the generations to come."


  3. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Pelosi: "It is truly a historic day. It is my pleasure to welcome to the Capitol of the United States, the People's House, the portrait of the first Asian-American member of Congress, the Honorable Dalip Singh Saund." She described Congressman Saund's life as "the American dream", adding "here was an immigrant from India, who came to this country to further his education and worked hard to build his life and care for his family, despite the discrimination that many Asians faced during the 1920s."
    He helped pave the way for Indian immigration to the United States, which brought in a large number of highly educated and trained technical and professional personnel (See www.america.gov/st/washfile english/2007/November/20071108171728xlrennef0.1429865.html)
    He is a source of inspiration and a worthy role model for over 10 million Americans of Asian origin. Today, Asian Americans seeking political office often invoke his name in their election campaigns.

Dr Saund fully deserves to be included in the History-Social Science Framework and textbooks for California Public Schools

Pictures from http://www.saund.org/dalipsaund/pictures/index.html) Try:  Nanak Singh Nishtar <nanaknishter@gmail.com> I could not find his telephone number. He often writes for WSN.

(Onkar S. Bindra, March 27, 2009; osbindra@yahoo.com)

Posted on March 27, 2009

Press Note:
Book Released

SACH KI BANI: UNIVERSAL MESSAGE
FOR
PEACE

Edited By:
Swaranjeet Singh,
Harvind Kaur Singh
and Kulwant Singh Hundal

Published By:
Institute for Conflict and Peace Studies

CHICAGO: Sach ki Bani: Universal Message for Peace dedicated to the 300th commemorative centenary of enthroning of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, edited by Dr. Swaranjeet Singh, Harvind Kaur Singh and Prof. Kulwant Singh Hundal and published by Institute for Conflict and Peace Studies (IFCAPS) was formally released on March 14 th, 2009. The book releasing ceremony was held in the Business Conference Center of Oakton Community College, Des Plaines . Sach KI Bani: Universal Message for Peace was specially presented to the entire women who had come to the Oakton Community College for the occasion. Guru Granth Sahib accorded unique and honorable status to women and emancipated her from life of slavery and servitude which was the social order of the times when Guru Nanak Dev ji started his mission of universal peace, equality and freedom for all without any distinctions. To highlight and revive the remembrance of that equality SachKi Bani: Universal Message for Peace was presented to all the women present at the event.

Sach Ki Bani: Universal Message for Peace is a collection of 22 in-depth and enlightening papers presenting various perspectives on teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Thirteen papers are in the English and nine papers are in the Panjabi language. Included in the collection are papers from now departed soul of Sirdar Kapur Singh I.C.S., Sardar Gurtej Singh Formar I.A.S, Prof. Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh, Prof. I.J. Singh, Dr. G.S. Bachan, Dr. Ranbir Singh Sandhu, Dr. Raghbir Singh Bains, Dr. Sawraj Singh, Prof. Jaginder Singh Ramdev, Bibi Manjyot Kaur and Bibi SS Ek Ong Kaur Khalsa. Papers written by Dr. Swaranjeet Singh and Prof Kulwant Singh Hundal are both in the English and the Panjabi Language. In the Panjabi section are the papers of Dr. Jaswant Singh Neki, Dr. Gurnam Singh, Prof. Niranjan Singh Dhesi, Dr. Darshan Singh, Prof Bhupinder Singh Khaira, Prof. Tejinder Kaur and Prof. Davinder Singh.

Sach Ki Bani: Universal Message for Peace book releasing ceremony was really unique. There was no special guest or dignitary with high social status to release this book. It was formally presented to all the women by IFCAPS President Sardar Sadhu Singh Rikhiraj and jointly released by all the women. It was a successful effort to highlight the honorable status accorded to the Sikh Women in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Prof. Jagindar Singh Ramdev is a known personality in Chicago for his keen intellect and command of language. In his speech he said, “Papers collected in Sach Ki Bani: Universal Message for Peace add to the beauty of the book and make it very informative and interesting. I have thoroughly studied this book and I recommend that we all read this book; so that, we can give positive and constructive direction to our day to day life. I am really unhappy with our religious organizations that waste huge sums of money on books that distort historical facts and misinterpret essence of our Scripture.”

Dr. Baldev Singh is a well known Sikh intellectual from Chicago land. He urged all to keep on making efforts to remember, imbibe and practise core values of our unique heritage. He said, “ I have been closely associated with the IFCAPS from the very beginning and I had been privy to the information that this wonderful project was underway and I am happy with this effort.” Sardar Gur Singh who has interest in writing and singing Panjabi poetry and is an avid reader of Sikh History and Scriputes said, “I had come across this wonderful collection a few days ago. I have read it with keen interest and have learnt a lot. Vast store of precious knowledge has been encapsulated in this collection. I firmly believe that in future IFCAPS will continue to pursue such valuable ventures.”

Bibi Amarjit Kaur Atwal who is a member of Sikh Religious Society, Palatine and former President of Panjabi Cultural Society (PCS) praised this effort and promised to do what ever she could do to help future IFCAPS projects. Sardar Rajinderbir Singh Mago who is very warm, friendly and social and is always eager and active in community and interfaith activities has been closely associated with IFCAPS projects said, “I have close ties with IFCAPS. I have participated in all the previous activities. Only a while ago we arranged for the screening of Final Solution a documentary by Rakesh Sharma. In my estimation that project was a huge success because such projects create goodwill and understanding amongst various groups. Together we can solve the problems; hence, I urge IFCAPS to keep on making efforts in that direction.”

Dr. Gurdial Singh Basran a person of great compassion who is always keen in promoting community projects said, “I praise this effort and urge IFCAPS to continue such projects in the days to come. I will be there to help in whatever manner I can.” Sardar Kuldeep Singh Makker who is always keen and active in promoting understanding of Sikhism amongst people of other faiths said, “I am really pleased with this effort. It will go a long way to make our unique identity and heritage known to the people of the other faiths. It is a befitting and an enduring tribute to the tercentenary celebration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. It will surely full fill the need of both the English and the Panjabi readers.”

From amongst the youth participants, Sardar Irwinpreet Singh, Sardar Harmeet Singh and Sardar Surinder Singh Grewal all lauded this project and commented that this book will really help the young people in the western hemisphere. Sardar Irwinpreet Singh emotionally emphasised the need to stay connected and help other young people to get connected to the precious heritage of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Sardar Hardial Singh Deol, Bibi Rajinder Kaur Thethi, Sardar Tejinder Singh Thethi, Bibi Navdeep Kaur Sandhu, Dr. Pawitar Singh, Bibi Jasvir Kaur Rani, Bibi Sukhbir Kaur, Sardar Raghvinder Singh Mahal, Bibi Kanwaljeet Kaur Mahal, Sardar Jagtar Singh Bajwa, Bibi Ramnik Kaur Makkar, Bibi Surinder Kaur Sangha, Board Member, Sikh Religious Society, Palatine, Sardar Bhagwan Singh Battu, Bibi Ravinder Kaur Battu, Sardar Davindar Singh, Bibi Inder Kaur, Sardar Matt Singh Dhillon, Sardar Tahil Singh, Sardar Bhupinder Singh Hundal, Bibi Harinder Kaur Hundal, Bibi Amarjit Kaur Hundal, Bibi Mohinder Kaur Hundal, Sardar Sukhmel Singh Atwal, Sardar Sewa Singh Virdi, Sardar Balkar Singh Dhillon, Sardar Mahanbir Singh Brar and many other Chicago residents participated in this event.

The entire ceremony was flawlessly conducted by IFCAPS Executive Secretary Prof. Kulwant Singh Hundal. IFCAPS’s Executive Director Dr. Swaranjeet Singh provided information about the projects undertaken by the organization in the past and highlighted the future projects to be undertaken. Director of Communications Harvind Kaur Singh informed the audience about the functioning of IFCAPS and said this programme of solving problems through dialogue was initiated four years ago. This step was the very first undertaken by any organization till then. In the end Sardar Sadhu Singh Rikhiraj, President IFCAPS, thanked all those who came to participate and grace the occasion.

Posted on March 25, 2009

History Social-Science Framework for California & Sikhs

(For questions and to support the project, contact osbindra@yahoo.com)

Sacramento . March 6, 2009 . History Social Science Framework for California Public Schools provides the guidelines to authors & publishers on what goes into the textbooks, and to school districts, schools and teachers what is to be taught to students. The present (2005) edition of this 249 page document, adopted in 2000, may be seen on the Internet at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/hs/cf/ . It makes no mention of “SIKHS” or “ SIKHISM.

 Currently the Framework is being updated.  Retired Professor, Dr Onkar Singh Bindra has been submitting oral and written suggestions to the California Department of Education (C.D.E.) since January 2008 regarding improvement of the Framework. The Curriculum Framework Evaluation Criteria Committee (C.F.C.C.) of the C.D.E. is now considering suggestions and comments for updating the Framework. Yesterday he submitted a compendium of his suggestion to the C.F.C.C., laying emphasis on inclusion of Sikh Identity & Sikh History in America at the Primary level, Sikhs in world history in the Medieval Period in the 7 th grade and Sikh Religion in the ninth grade elective Survey of World Religions. He also organized the participation of a number of Sikh and non-Sikh intelligentsia in making public comments at the March 4-5 meeting of the C.FC.C.

Besides Dr Bindra, Dr Amrik Singh, who teaches Punjabi and an ethnic studies course, “Sikh Americans and Globalization”, at the California State University Sacramento (C.S.U.S.), and S. Prabhjot Singh Sethi made public comments on March 4.

They pointed out that the nearly 250,000 Sikhs living in California have 57 Gurdwaras and contribute immensely to the socio-economic fabric of the State. However, owing to their turban, the Sikhs are mistaken to be linked to Osama bin Laden and Taliban, and have been easy targets and victims of hate crimes and discrimination.  This is because of lack of awareness about the Sikhs.

 There is need to refer to the following CDE-adopted Supplemental Instructional Materials PBS/KVIE videos, Meet the Sikhs and Sikhs in America, and the coloring book, Boy with Long Hair on pages 39 &44 of the Framework. Sikh pioneers, like Bhagat Singh Thind, a veteran of WWI and Dr. Dalip Singh Saund, first Asia-born American to be elected as a Congressman, deserve to be mentioned on page 50 under “Our Nation’s History.  Further, on page87-88, relating to 7 th grade there is need to include the following historical events that are important to 25 million Sikhs worldwide: founding of the Sikh religion by Guru Nanak (1469-1539), creation of the Khalsa in 1699 by Guru Gobind Singh (1766-1708), Sikh opposition to forced conversion of Hindus to Islam, and rise of Sikh power under Maharaja Ranjit Singh. history of the medieval period in the seventh grade. The need for inclusion of Sikhism in Survey of World Religions elective on page 121 was also stressed.

On March 5, Dr Jeffrey Brodd, Professor in Humanities and Religious Studies Department of C.S.U.S., who has written a World Religions: a Voyage of Discovery for high school students and edited books by Giani Wadhawa Singh Gill, made the following public comments:

  • Teaching of Sikhism is advisable, especially in California for demographic reasons.
  • Inclusion of Sikhism in Survey of World Religions is highly efficacious, due to its uniqueness in embracing both monotheism and mystical approach.
  • Pedagogically, Sikh symbols make it easy to teach; and only a little instruction on symbolism of beard and turban can bring about a healthy reversal of people’s misconceptions about Sikhs.

Mrs. Yvonne Taylor, a teacher with 37 years’ experience, described the 8-years experience of the Modesto City School District of teaching World Religions and World Geography to 9 th grade students as a required course. It covers geographical location, cultural characteristics, historical development, major beliefs and impact of six religions on world historic events. It includes Sikhism; she recommended inclusion of Sikhism in the ninth grade elective, Survey of World Religions.

Kashmir Singh Shahi mentioned that his son was much disturbed when his classmates pointed to his joorha under the patka on his head and asked why he was carrying a tennis ball on his head. He requested for inclusion of materials and activities relating to the uncut hair, patka and turban under the section Developing Awareness of Cultural Diversity on page 39 of the Framework.

Nirvair Singh related the remarkable story of Bhagat Singh Thind, a Sikh pioneer, who enrolled in U.S. Army in 1917 during WWI & was honorably discharged in 1918 when the war ended, but was denied citizenship by the Supreme Court in 1923. He suggested its inclusion in Our Local History (pages 48-51) section of the Framework. Bhai Ram Singh of Fremont Gurdwara made an impassioned appeal for inclusion of history and culture of all groups in California ’s multi-ethnic society, including the Sikhs.

S. Gurprit Singh Hansra mentioned that a high school Sikh student was so perturbed by the prevalent misinformation and misconceptions about the Sikhs that he ended up writing a book about it. He also mentioned the need for covering Sikh history in the 7 th grade history. 

Ravneet Kaur represented the Sikh Coalition, a national organization focusing on civil rights work. Giving reasons for including Sikhi in the “Survey of World Religions” course, she said that they had received over 70 reports of bias-based discrimination suffered by Sikhs in California alone. She distributed to the CFCC 30 testimonials by Sikhs across California on why they think Sikhi should be part of the California History/Social Science Curriculum.She added,“We at the Sikh Coalition believe that the Modesto model should be duplicated throughout California schools, because it’s a much needed resource for decreasing school-bullying of Sikh students and other forms of bias-based discrimination.

Posted on March 25, 2009

Consumerist Capitalism and Racism
Bring Americans’ Health Down

"Sawraj Singh" sawrajsingh@hotmail.com

            The just released report from the Business Roundtable, which represents CEOs of the major companies, showed that in spite of spending two and a half times more per person on healthcare compared to the other advanced countries, Americans are unhealthy compared to the population in those countries.  In 2006 America spent 1928 dollar per capita on health care.  America spends 2.4 trillion dollars a year on health care.

            The United States was 23 points behind the advanced developed countries such as Canada , Japan , Germany , UK and France .  The points were based on life expectancy, death rates, cholesterol level and blood pressure.  The health measures were factored together with costs onto a 100 points scale.  The cost benefit disparity was even higher, 46, when the US was compared with the developing countries such as China , Brazil and India .  It clearly shows that the US is not getting the worth of what it spends on healthcare.

            What are the possible causes for this state of affairs?  I feel that the two major causes are the American consumerist capitalism compared to the utilitarian capitalism of the other countries and racism in the American healthcare system.  In all the other advanced countries the government controls the healthcare where as in America ; the healthcare is controlled by the private monopolies which include hospitals, drug companies, doctors, insurance companies and the attorneys. Each group is trying to take a bigger piece of the pie. There is no one who is concerned about the overall state of the healthcare. 

            Racism is rampant in the healthcare system.  Many studies have shown that the minorities do not get the same care as the white population does.  Even among the white population delivery of healthcare depends upon one’s socio-economic status and the ability to pay.  There are no uniform standards.  Not only the minority patients suffer from discrimination but even the minority healthcare providers are subjected to discrimination and are not judged by the same standards as their white colleagues.  These double standards are sometimes even seen in the medical schools where minority medical students experience different treatment than their white fellow students.

            Many doctors identify themselves with the extreme right republicans.  No wonder, many doctors were ardent supporters of President Bush whose policies spelled disaster for not only America but for the whole World.

            The drug companies are working overtime to keep increasing number of people on their drugs.  The factors such as proper diet, exercise and healthy life styles are rarely emphasized.  The price of drugs is much higher than in the other countries.  Many Americans can buy the same drugs much cheaper in Mexico than the US .  The insurance companies make their decisions primarily based on their own economic interests rather than the interests of the patients. Promoting good concepts in healthcare is not their priority.   

            No where else in the World, the attorneys have so much influence over the medical profession.  Some attorneys have nurses and doctors working for them to go after the other doctors.  The main motivation for them is to squeeze as much money as they can rather than protect the legitimate rights of the patients.  Many American doctors are raised to be arrogant with the feeling that my way is the best way. There is no tolerance for any alternative approach.  Millions of patients in Europe are sent to the alternate healthcare providers by the physicians but many American doctors feel that alternate healthcare is voodoo medicine. All these factors make the American health care more expensive and less efficient. 

Sawraj Singh, M.D. F.I.C.S. Chairman Washington State Network for Human Rights, Chairman Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice

Posted on March 25, 2009

Russia ’s Growing Influence in Latin America

America will no longer remain the only super power of the world.

 Sawraj Singh M.D. F.I.C.S.

            Russia ’s influence continues to grow in America ’s backyard. Russia is going to base its long range bombers in Cuba . Venezuela has offered an island where Russia can base its long range bombers. Last year, two Russian bombers landed in Venezuela . This was the first time a Russian plane landed in the Western hemisphere after the end of the Cold War. This is the first time that Cuba may have a permanent base for the Russian bomber planes.

            It is becoming increasingly clear that as America is getting bogged down with the economic crisis, it is unable to maintain its position as the only superpower of the world; Russia is asserting its power in Europe and Latin America . In 2007, Russia resumed the bomber flights, first time after the end of the Cold War.

            Why does Russia want to project and assert its power in Latin America ? There can be different reasons for this. Russia may think that if America can assert its power on Russia ’s borders, then Russia can also project its power in the American backyard. There is a leftist trend in Latin America . El Salvador has become the latest country to have a leftist president. The leftists and Christians have joined their forces in many Latin American countries. This phenomenon is called Liberation Theology. The net effect of the changes in Latin America is the rise of anti-American feeling. Russia may be seeing a window of opportunity in this situation.

            Russia and China have formed a strategic alliance. Together they are challenging the American influence in the world. It is possible that Russia and China have divided the world into different areas where they want to challenge the American influence. Russia can be challenging the American influence in Europe and Latin America while China can be focusing in Asia and Africa . This is also a possibility that Russia has decided to challenge the military superiority of America and China will challenging the American domination in the economic field.

            Whatever the reasons may be but one thing seems certain: America will no longer remain the only super power of the world. Russia ’s military might and China ’s economic strength together can more than balance the American domination. Today China is helping the American economy by buying the T bills. China is now the largest buyer of the American T bills. If America wants to come out of the present crisis, then it has to recognize that it has to work with the other countries and become a team player. Russia ’s growing influence in Latin America shows that the world is becoming multipolar instead of the unipolar world, which was led by America .

- Sawraj Singh M.D. F.I.C.S.  Chairman, Washington State Network for Human Rights Chairman, Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice

Posted on March 20, 2009


(Prof. Raj Kumar Hans) rajkhans@yahoo.com

LIBERATION PHILOSOPHY OF
GURU GRANTH SAHIB AND DALITS OF PUNJAB

Prof. Raj Kumar Hans, professor of the department of history at Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, ( Gujrat , India ) was recently awarded 2 year fellowship at the Indian Intitute of Advanced Study. He has been with the Maharaja Sayajirao University for 26 years and he has also been working with the Punjabi Dalit for the past 4 years. Ambedkartimes is honored to publish some of his articles on the website and one of them happens to be"Liberation Philosophy of Guru Granth Sahib and Dalits of Punjab".

Editor,
Ambedkartimes Group

The generality of brahmanical subordination of Dalits and the severity of untouchability historically depended on the variation of historical experiences of the regions in the Indian subcontinent as determined by their specific geographical makeup. There is a broad understanding, if not complete consensus, among scholars that the Punjab had witnessed a substantial weakening of brahmanical ideology with the emergence and growing strength of religious egalitarian ideological currents and movements such as Islam and Sikh religion. Hence, the pain of untouchability on Dalits was far les severe than compared to other regions of the subcontinent. 1  The Nath Yogis, Sufi saints and the Sikh gurus, all, worked towards mitigating untouchability in the Punjabi society. Guru Granth Sahib 2  is an inclusive expression of equality and social justice which could be seen as a liberation philosophy 3  that gave a definite stamp of defiance to the oppressive structures and orders of the day. But despite such magnificent efforts, it is to be kept in mind that untouchability was never completely eradicated from the lands of the five rivers; the degree of humiliation and oppression kept changing according to the change in the balance of social forces, which was neither linear nor constant. The resources came to be cornered and controlled by the high castes; lower castes in general and Dalits in particular were excluded from all acquisitions, benefits and surpluses. While the first part of the paper highlights the liberation agenda of Guru Granth Sahib, the second part deals with the historical process where economic and social mechanisms pitched against the religion of liberation to bring back the divisive caste ideas of Brahamanical Hinduism to keep the low castes, especially the dalits in perpetual enthralment.

I

GURU GRANTH SAHIB is the world’s unique text of spiritual wisdom. It comprises the compositions of the six of the ten Sikh Gurus and contributions of 31 saints and sufis of various social-ethnic-religious backgrounds. This makes the Guru Granth the most inclusive and non-sectarian expression of spirituality in history. Spread over 1,450 pages (its 5,894 verses have been minutely set to 31 classical musical  ragas  (tones), Guru Granth Sahib seeks to sever the bondage of 'man-made ideologies and systems of thought' and, instead, activate the dormant connection between each of us and the surrounding phenomena of life - as one "thread of life". Instead of giving a dogmatic or absolutist message it seeks to build up spiritual awareness and searching through a life-long process of living and learning for the most liberating, empowered condition of human life. 4  Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh puts it aptly:

The Guru Granth provided an excellent example of going beyond particular affiliations and loyalties into the universal basis of religion. "There is One Being, Truth Is Its Name" forms the fundamental principle of Sikh scripture. The Sikh vision of the Ultimate encompasses and transcends all space, time, and gender, and cannot be imaged in any specific form.  Such a perception shatters narrow and rigid barriers between peoples and enables an inclusive attitude towards followers from different religious and racial backgrounds. 5

Sikh religion with Guru Granth Sahib has been seen as ‘emancipatory’ by Gurnam Singh. 6  He is aware of ‘particular complications’ in applying the concept of ‘human emancipation’ to critique Sikh scriptures due to its roots in European culture, language and thought (p. 137). He is also aware of the use of alternative concept of ‘liberation philosophy’ via Valerie Kaur’s formulation about Sikhism’s core as ‘materialised liberation ideology’ (p. 140). His dilemma becomes clear in his concluding remarks:

…my journey has made me realise the danger of an uncritical acceptance of the view that Sikhism is indeed a religion whose primary mission, as is often asserted, is to emancipate. This is not to deny the centrality of emancipation to Sikhism, or the integrity of the Gurus’ mission, but to realise that the idea of emancipation itself is contested and multilayered. 7

And Gurnam Singh stresses the need to find new tools to understand the message of GGS. One possible way to reach out to the essence, the core of Gurus’ message is to see it as part of ‘philosophy of liberation’ as propounded by Latin American philosopher Enrique Dussel. Dussel asserts:

Philosophy of liberation is pedagogical activity stemming from a praxis that roots itself in proximity of teacher-pupil, thinker-people. Although pedagogical, it is a praxis conditioned by political (and erotic) praxis. Nevertheless, as pedagogical, its essence is theoretical and speculative. Theoretical action  the poietic intellectual illuminative activity of the philosopher, sets out to discover and expose (in the exposition and risk of the life of the philosopher), in the presence of an entrenched system, all moments of negation and all exteriority lacking justice. For this reason it is an analectical pedagogy of liberation.  That is, it is the magisterium that functions in the name of the poor, the oppressed, the other, the one who like a hostage within the system testifies to the fetishism of its totalization and predicts its death in the liberating action of the dominated. 8

The very word ‘Sikh’ denotes relationship between the Guru (teacher) and Sikh (pupil). And the whole Sikh movement was proximity of thinker-people, an organic relationship between Gurus and people, and at the height of thought, the mergence of the two (aape gur chela). The GGS is magisterial 9  that resists all systems of oppression and injustice especially perpetrated on the poor. As it speaks in the name of the low, the poor, the oppressed, GGS envelops the philosophy of liberation. So much so, that Guru Nanak coming from the upper- caste of Khatris identifies completely with the lowest (dalit) of the Indian social order as he says:

Neechan andar neech jati, Neechi hun ati neech

Nanak tin ke sang sath, Vadian siyon kya rees

Jithe neech sanmalian, Tithe nadr teri bakhshish

(I am the lowest of the low castes; low, absolutely low;

I am with the lowest in companionship, not with the so-called high.

Blessing of god is where the lowly are cared for.) 10

He challenges the Brahmanical dismissal of the low, the untouchable by becoming one with the latter. He destroys the hierarchical systems—social as well as political. To Dussel the “praxis of liberation has been the cause of its unwelcome, its nonacceptance by the system.” 11  The Nanakian philosophy, the liberation philosophy, was unacceptable by the religious and political systems right from the beginning. Hence persecutions: first of Nanak, then Arjun, Teg Bahadur and finally of Gobind Singh. These persecutions were symbolic of subversion of the ‘order’ and ‘law’ that reached its climax in the system’s war against Guru Gobind Singh as Dussel puts it:

Thus when the oppressed who struggles against the death that the system assigns to him begins through the praxis of liberation the struggle for life, novelty erupts in history "beyond" the being of the system. A new philosophy, a positive one, necessarily makes its appearance. The novelty is not original nor primarily philosophical; it is original and primarily historical and real; it is the liberation of the oppressed. It is secondarily a philosophical theory as a strategic "instrument" or weapon of liberation itself. 12

The outcome of such attempts to silence the liberation thought was the eruption of novelty, the ‘weapon of liberation’, the Khalsa. The ‘real’ historical force emerged out of the long gestation of the liberation ‘praxis’ and ‘philosophy’ that not only fully integrated the ‘untouchables’ into the struggle for liberation but succeeded in abolishing the racist practice of untouchability in the Sikh practice. It is another thing that caste and untouchability was to re-enter the body politic of Sikh religion in the changed circumstances of colonial subjugation.

II

No discourse, no story...

No story, none so ever...

To them, who   were not  on the pages of Time [Past]...

To them, who   are not  on the pages of Time [Present]...

To them,

Who would be there in   Future, must be

These are the opening lines of a powerful recent Punjabi story by Maninder Singh Kang. 13  The non-dalit writer uses the technique of dream-sequence where he is tormented by Adi Mata (coming in the form of Kali) who claims to be the creator of this world. She thrusts him to write the story of dalits (chuhras), the children of her ‘Innocent Shiva’, whose story has not been written. He seeks Goddess’ permission to confine his looking back at their story only with the foundation of Amritsar , the city he belongs to and knows better. 14  The fourth Sikh Guru, Ram Das, the founder of the city, is then seen not only accepting the dalits as Sikhs who approached him but also allocating a patch of land to them that came to be known as  Kutti Vehra  (Bitchy Habitation) or  Kasai Vehra  (Butchers’ Colony). The story moves backward and forward in fact and fiction through four centuries emphasising how even after Gurus’ embrace of dalits, the latter continued to be on the margins of Sikhism forcing them to lead a life of wants, squalor, neglect and petty crimes. The story is unusual as it also ends with ‘saar-tatt’ (Essence) as follows:

  • These  chuhras  (Drawads) had lost both of their gods at the time of Adi Mata’s tormenting the writer. The proud people of Harappa carrying the name ‘chuhras’  had been enslaved by the Aryans, their god Shiva was converted into the god of death and Adi Mata into a blood-drinking Kali.
  • They had been living three thousand years of hellish life when Guru Ram Das sheltered them. The Guru was pained when most of the people had left the ‘langar’  when  chuhras  were entertained in the community kitchen.
  • When they were accepted in Islam they were handed over butcher’s knives. The Hindu reformers did not go beyond giving them apparently designations of ‘mahashas’  and ‘harijan’.
  • They were not given audience by the Maharaja [Ranjit Singh] during Sikh rule for which reason Mansa Singh, the then dalit priest of Golden Temple , had shut the doors for his residence within the Harimandir complex.
  • The English gave them bible in one hand and dagger in another. 15

The purpose of bringing the above story is to highlight a discomfort felt by several conscientious Sikhs belonging to upper-castes. This guilt-feeling is reflected in fictional and non-fictional writings that in their religion which had had a glorious past of Gurus’ struggle to abolish ‘caste’ and ‘untouchability’ among the Sikhs, something somewhere had gone wrong with the Sikh praxis. That needs to be reworked if a true face of the Sikh liberation philosophy and practice is to be seen. Only reconstruction of historical reality can take us little closer to the untold story of Sikh religion.

Contrary to assumptions in the prevalent Sikh history texts, dalits’ embrace of Sikhism had been quite early that became quantitatively significant by the close of the 17 th  century. Guru Nanak’s life-long spiritual companion was Mardana, a dalit belonging to Mirasi (minstrel) caste. The very fact that  chamars  who became Sikhs adopted the nomenclature of Ramdasias speaks how they trace their conversion to Guru Ram Das  (1534-1581). Gautam, whose son Bhai Paira has been recognised by Bhai Gurdas as ‘Paira jaat Chandalia’, had become Sikh and was very close to Guru Ramdas while Paira and his brother Paraga left Gazni army and became Sikhs with Guru Arjun Dev. Paira’s son Chaupat Rai (Chaupa Singh) had served four gurus since Guru Har Rai and came to write ‘rahitnama’ at Guru Gobind Singh’s instructions. There were several other dalits who also became very close to  guru-ghar  (the House of Gurus) very early. 16  The family of legendry Bhai Jaita (rechristened as Jeevan Singh by Guru Gobind Singh) also formed close ties with  guru-ghar. His father, Sada Nand, a great musician, had moved closely with Guru Teg Bahadur while Bhai Jaita’s elder brother, Sangta was a bosom friend of child Gobind and they used to live and play together. It was the same Jaita who had overwhelmed young Gobind Rai with emotions when he had presented him the severed head of his father, Guru Tegh Bahadar, brought from Delhi to Kiratpur in 1675. While embracing Jaita, Gobind Singh pronounced ‘Ranghrete Guru ke Bete’ (Ranghrete, the untouchables, are guru’s own sons). Jaita had turned out to be a fearless and daring Sikh warrior who had endeared himself so much to the Tenth Guru that he was declared as the ‘Panjwan Sahibjada’ (Fifth Son) in addition to his own four  sahibjadas. 17  He was killed in a fierce battle with Mughal armies in 1705. Even though he is now given some space in the Sikh iconography, it is hardly known or acknowledged that he was also a scholar poet. 18  He had composed a long poem ‘Sri Gur Katha’ which furnishes an eyewitness account of important events surrounding Guru Gobind Singh. 19

The Ranghretas/Mazhabis had offered numerically critical support in the Guru Gobind Singh’s battles. So much so that by the mid-eighteenth century when amidst sustained persecutions by the Mughals, the Sikhs organised themselves into five  dals  (warrior bands) one of these was of Mazhbi/Ranghreta  dal  under the command of Bir Singh Ranghreta who had 1300-horsemen force. Throughout the 18 th  century the dalit military force played very important role in consolidating the Sikh power. Most of Akali Nihangs 20  were constituted by dalit manpower and they had assumed deadening military power. Even Ranjit Singh used to be careful with them. Though initially he used their power in reducing several places including Srinagar ( Kashmir ), where many dalits stayed put since then, but eventually he reduced their influence, possibly because of the caste factor as the rising Jatts, and he was one of them, could not see dalits wielding that kind of influence. During his rule only, they got constructed ‘Mazhbi Singhan da Bunga’ quite close to ‘Ramgarhia Bunga’, near ‘Dukh Bhanjan Beri’ in Harimandir Sahib Complex in 1826 by raising Rs 21000/. Later on it was demolished and incorporated in the ‘Guru Ramdas Langar’ building. Mazhbis had their  bunga  at Taran Taran Darbar Sahib as well. 21  The kind of status and prestige the dalits came to raise for them in the tumultuous times of the eighteenth century was quite enviable for any upper-caste Sikhs. Hence, concerted efforts were made to reduce them after the establishment of Ranjit Singh’s rule. Thereafter one sees a gradual hold of brahmanical Sanatan Sikhs over religious institutions of Sikhs that they had come to purge the egalitarian traditions of gurus from religion by the last quarter of the nineteenth century in such a way that what started emerging as record then, thanks to the just emerged press, was taken for the entire history of Sikhs though it had clearly been an ‘invented tradition’.

There is no work on Sikh history and tradition in English which has been produced from the dalit history approach 22 . Major historical works by W. H. McLeod, J. S. Grewal, Ganda Singh, Khushwant Singh, Pashaura Singh, Harjot Oberoi, Jagjit Singh, Indu Banga, Gurinder Singh Mann, Jeevan Deol, Arvidpal Singh Mandair and Louis Fenech reflect what Webster call the ‘Sikh history approach’ 23 . Only a few books available, not necessarily by the ‘professional historians’, written in Punjabi could be seen as written from the ‘Dalit Sikh approach’. 24

While Shamsher Singh Ashok, belonging to non-dalit caste, wrote his history of Mazhbis as commissioned by a dalit Sikh K. S. Neiyyer, settled in London, Naranjan Arifi who was a dalit officer in a central government department wrote his 576 pages first volume of the history of Ranghretas after a great deal of research. He gives us a comprehensive account of early joining of Ranghretas/Mazhbis in the Sikh gurus’ ranks at least very clearly from the period of the 6 th  Guru Hargobind. Arifi very diligently filters the dalit information from the Sikh writings since late-17 th  century. In this volume he brings very fascinating details about Ranghretas till mid-19 th  century by giving them names and voices by highlighting their individual and collective participation in the growth of Khalsa.

As long as Sikhs were struggling and sacrificing their lives for the distinct Sikh/Singh identity, the caste distinctions, except of endogamous nature, and untouchability had almost ceased to exist and the eighteenth century period of great upheavals in Punjab could be said to be the best for the consolidation of Gurus’ revolutionary social message when Punjabi dalits played very important role in fighting the Sikh battles not only of survival but of establishment of an independent rule. 25  The dalit reinterpretation of the eighteenth century argues in detail how the rising power of Bir Singh Ranghreta who had become very influential commander was put a stop to by the treachery of the Jatt commanders. According to Naranjan Arfi the Sikhs had succeeded in establishing their independence by early 1760s and some of the commanders aspired for their individual supremacies in different parts which Bir Singh was opposed to in keeping with the Guru’s injunction that the power shall lie in the Panth (the Khalsa collectivity). Charat Singh, father of Ranjit Singh and Baba Aala Singh, founder of Patiala state, hatched a conspiracy to invite Bir Singh from Peshawar to Amritsar , treacherously disarmed Bir Singh’s soldiers that they should not pay obeisance at Darbar Sahib with arms and then slaughtering them inside the sacred place in batches of five in which they were advised to move. They also wounded Bir Singh in such a way that he taken as dead and his body was put in a wooden box and thrown into river Beas . 26  Thereafter Mazbhis were not allowed any commanding position but their military prowess was used under different Misls as subordinates. And after the consolidation of Ranjit Singh’s rule the dalits came to be treated as badly as they were among Hindus.

The caste and untouchability had come to afflict the Sikhs, and afflict them badly in the 19 th-20 th  centuries. There was a slow rise of Sanatan Sikhism, a fine admixture of Brahmanism and Sikhism, in the early nineteenth century which by the close of the century had assumed a vicious form. This is best reflected in an authoritative manual “Khalsa Dharam Sastar’ (1914) of Sanatan Sikhism as quoted below:

From Braman to Nai, including Chhippe and Jhivara, all those belong to the fourfold caste system are not allowed to partake food cooked or touched by outcastes. This implies that just as the four Hindu castes can be polluted by the untouchables, similarly in the Sikh Khalsa religion all persons belonging to the four castes can be polluted too. Those Sikhs who belong to the untouchable groups (like the Mazhbi, Rahita and Ramdasia Sikhs) constitute a separate caste. These untouchable castes do not have the right to proceed beyond the fourth step in Sri Amritsar [at the Golden Temple ]. Members of the high castes should take care not to mix with persons belonging to the lower castes. If someone seeks to do so he forfeits his claim of belonging to the high castes. 27

But such attitudes had already started showing reverse returns. The Sikh Dalits started moving either to Arya Samaj or to Christianity forcing the Sikh reformers to step up efforts to stem the tide. Singh Sabhas had initiated the process and yet the castist attitudes were so deep-seated to make any difference. Press started pushing the cause forcefully. In the editorial entitled “Isaai hon de Karan” (Reasons for becoming Christian) of  Punjab Darpan  of 10 th  October 1917 , the Sikhs were warned to mend their ways:

In the last 8 months 1600 hundred Hindus have become Christians… For this mission, the pastors have relinquished professorships in the Mission colleges as they have also abandoned the comforts of Churches. Compare this with the Sikh community; there are thousands of those baptized Sikhs rendering Gurbani with musical instruments that are called Mazhbis, Ramdasias or Bishth. But high caste Sikhs always oppress these who simply labour for their sustenance…Because these illiterate Sikhs hate them more than they hate Muslims, it is necessary to inspire the Sikh Sardars, Numberdars and Zaildars in the villages to embrace their brethren-in-faith rather than making them the enemies of their religion by rebuking them all the times. 28

The growing anxiety about the virus of untouchability among the educated Sikhs is reflected in most of the community oriented newspapers and magazines. One Sewa Singh BA wrote a letter to  Khalsa  in 1923 under the title ‘One most necessary Duty: for the attention of Chief Khalsa Diwan’ in which he drew attention towards the problem of ‘untouchability’. 29  While referring to Arya Samaj he urged the Diwan to shoulder ‘the improvement of untouchable castes’. We get a graphic picture of the concern in Jagat Singh Pardesi’s news filed from Khashab in Shahpur district. He writes:

Rehatiyas, Mazhbis and Ramdasias in northern Sargodha have become pray to our practicing untouchability. The rest are also not allowed to drink water from wells…it is strange that the Sikhs allow Muslims to draw water from the wells but these  amritdhari  Sikhs with 5 Ks are thrown out. Moving from village to village the writer on asking the Sikh brothers the reason of their hatred answered that (i) their ancestors smoke  hukkas  and ate carrion. (ii) These people carry our garbage on their heads as also they carry away the dead animals. That’s why we hate them…. 30

The  Khalsa  of 24 th  June 1923 published a report on a divan (assembly) about  shudhi  (purification) at Jallianwala bagh held on 21 st  June which was devoted only to discuss the agenda of removal of untouchability. Teja Singh Samundari presided over the session. The report says:

Sardar Dalip Singh, the Secretary of Divan, while introducing the purpose of the divan said that even now Guru Gobind Singh’s baptised Sikhs who are called Ramdasia, Mazhbis and Chuhras, are thrown out of  langars  (community kitchen) and their Prasad is not accepted in the  gurdwaras. That’s why today’s divan is organised to find out remedy of this malaise.

Later on Bhai Mehtab Singh ‘Bir” lamented how due to our indifference hundreds of our so-called untouchable brothers are being swallowed by other religions. He told that 25 Rehatiyas became Aryas in 1903 and after that 10,000 Rehatiyas joined the Arya Samaj. 31

It was not only the Arya Samaj which was targeting the untouchables but also the Christian missionaries. The  Khalsa  of 2 nd  July 1923 reported ‘A Divan in Gurdaspur’ on 27 th  June when thousands of Mazhbis had marched as led by Pastor Gordon Sahib to a big ground to listen to the Christian discourses. Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) had despatched its own band of missionaries to the site to counter the Christians. Interestingly one high caste Sikh, Sardar Khazan Singh was facilitating the Mazhbi Sikhs towards conversion. On observing the Christian enthusiasm, the SGPC monitors sent an SOS telegram to the headquarters. Accordingly Mehtab Singh, Teja Singh, Bhag Singh, Secreatry SGPC, and Bhai Labh Singh, Granthi Darbar Sahib swooped on the Christian conference. They forced time to speak from the organisers and promised the assembled Mazhbis to remove their objections. The next day Gurmukh Singh Musafir extracted time to address the gathering but the audience soon started leaving the venue. The report concludes with a lament:

Dear Khalsaji, this is the reason of Mazhbis’ moving to Christianity. The untouchability that has drowned Hinduism for such a result and you also don’t allow your brothers to touch your wells. Let us learn a lesson and not allow them to be devoured by these vultures…If you want freedom for yourself, free the   others. 32

The Sikhs by that time got so lost in the struggle to liberate gurdwaras that the agenda to liberating the minds from brahminical attitudes was set aside. Moreover, the minds were not ready to accept social equality as reality, otherwise who would work for them for free. No wonder, the helpless situation on this count made Bhai Pratap Singh, Head Granthi of Drabar Sahib to write a treatise on the issue. 33  Besides looking into the theological and practical high points against untouchability in the Sikh tradition, Giani summarises the efforts of SGPC for the removal of untouchability between 1921 and 1933. He highlights that (i) now the membership of the Committee is open to all Sikhs without discrimination of high and low and of caste; (ii) all allowed in the community kitchens of SGPC controlled gurdwaras; and (iii) the so-called untouchable Sikhs are now employed in different services inside the gurdwaras.

What becomes clear is that the efforts to remove untouchability by the Sikh reformers were not just the result of inner calls. A number of factors resulting from objective conditions were making them think if they had to survive as respectable option for the much harangued Dalits. One of these factors was Dr Ambedkar’s powerful moves to see a dignified life for Dalits. In 1936, when Dr Ambedkar was trying to see the religious alternative for Dalits in Sikhism, the Akali papers became more sensitive to the issue. Sardar Amar Singh, Secretary, Shri Guru Singh Sabha Shillong (Assam) wrote two articles on ‘The Need of Sikhi Preaching among the Untouchables and Some Suggestions for That’ in ‘Khalsa Sewak’ 17 th  and 22 nd  March 1936. 34  Master Mota Singh wrote a scathing article ‘Khalsa Brotherhood and Gurdwara Elections: Existence of Caste as the bigger cause of Community’s Death’. On the scenes of elections he wrote rather with anger: “There was vanity, jealousy and ego clashes all around. Vote-seeking agents did not have anything to sell except the commodity of caste. Caste names as Saini, Jutt, Rore(for Aroras), Tarkhan (carpenter), Chamar etc were being used quite derogatorily. How can you expect a social and community reform from Shrimoni Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee whose recruitment is on the caste lines.” 35  In the editorial of ‘Khalsa Sewak’ of 7 th  March 1936, it is mentioned that it is known that Dr Ambedkar has been writing letters to SGPC but the Committee is not replying with any satisfaction. It wrote with sarcasm that “With all this the Sikhs are so indifferent that they would not lag behind boasting of their reforms on paper, it is just a show, but in practice not a single step forward has been made.” 36  The charge was not without substance. All the big talks were just being used for the vested interests of the powerful power brokers. ‘Khalsa Sewak’ reported in its 26 March 1936 edition that a conference was organised at village Bham in Gurdaspur district under the aegis of Baba Jeon Singh Dal where SGPC members had reached and 70 people were baptised. Among several lectures against untouchability, Bhai Teja Singh Akarpuri also spoke forcefully. After the conference, a dalit boy was asked to serve a glass of milk to Teja Singh. He got very angry and said that “I have been insulted for being served milk in Chuhra’s glass.” The fellow retorted: “You say something and do something else.” Teja singh immediately fled the scene. 37  The title of an article ‘Solve the caste Question: Only then the Community can Thrive – No one should commit a mistake of raising the caste issue” by Man Singh Khalsa BA in ‘Khalsa Sewak’ of 12 th  March 1936 speaks for itself.*

The discussion in this section fairly highlights the gravity of situation among Sikhs as for as the question of untouchability is concerned and even in the moderating twentieth century. It has been a structural malaise whether determined by economy or society; the power relations defined the relations of domination and subjugation. The command over resources had been so dear to the high castes and upper classes that they did not want to give any relaxation to the people at their mercy. Demoralising the Dalits by constant insults, humiliations and deprivation ensured almost free labour supply. The Sikh mind was not ready for the egalitarianism to act as an agent of change to thwart its own class interests. So, in the face of mounting pressures in the first half of the 20 th  century, half-hearted measures at the level of rhetoric were shown to be taken but in reality the situation remained as grim for Dalits as it was in the 19 th  century.

As ‘caste’ and its resultant inhuman practice ‘untouchability’ have been the cardinal principle of Brahmanical ideology and the central pillar of social order any individual, organisation or ideology questioning was always seen as enemy and all efforts were made to finish the challenge. Barstow put it pithily:

Hinduism, to its wonderfully assimilative character, had thus reabsorbed a good part of Sikhism, as it had absorbed Buddhism before it, notwithstanding that much of these religions is opposed to caste and the supremacy of the Brahmans.

21   Shamsher Singh Ashok,  Mazhbi Sikhan da Itihas  (History of Mazhbi Sikhs), Amritsar, 2 nd  revised ed. 2001, passim but for Bunga’s information page 171; for detailed accounts see Naranjan Arifi,  Ranghrehtian da Itihas (Adi kal ton 1850 tak), Part I, Amritsar: Literature House 1993, pages 429-65. Bunga was a lodging place.

22   To John C B Webster “The Dalit history approach is based on two assumptions. The first is that of Dalit agency. In this case, Dalit Sikhs move to centre-stage to become the chief actors in and shapers of their own history; the historian will therefore focus upon them, their views, their struggles, their actions. The second is that a conflict model of society, with caste as not the only but the most important contradiction in Indian society, provides the most appropriate paradigm for understanding their history.” See his “The Dalit Sikhs: A History?” in Tony Ballantyne, ed.,  Textures of the Sikh Past: New Historical Perspectives, New Delhi : Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 138

Bhagat Lakshman Singh (1863-1944), a Sikh scholar and intellectual, who  was the newly convert to Sikhism believed that the Sikh creed was ‘Hinduised’ after the establishment of Sikh rule. The high caste Hindus had made advances for reconciliation with the new power and a compromise was effected by which the Sikhs abandoned their ‘revolutionary programme’. Sikhism began to lose its distinct identity. 39  He especially talks of Brahmans’ ‘peculiar aptitude for adapting themselves to changed conditions.’ In the days of Buddhism they had become its Bhikshus only to leave when Buddhism declined. “In more recent times in our own province, when political power passed into the hands of the Sikhs, they did not find it difficult to discard their temples and idols, their  yagyopavit  and other paraphernalia, wore  Keshas  [uncut hair] and  dastars  (turbans) and became custodians of Sikh places of worship and interpreters of Sikh scriptures.” 40

Khushwant Singh is also objective on this central question:

Sikhism did not succeed in breaking the caste system.... The untouchable converted to Sikhism remained an outcaste for purposes of matrimonial alliances... and Sikhs of higher castes refused to eat with untouchable Sikhs and in villages separate wells were provided for them.

Within a hundred years of Guru Gobind Singh’s death, ritual in Sikh gurdwaras was almost like that in Hindu temples, and more often than not was presided over by priests who were usually Hindu rather than Sikh. Sikhs began to wear caste marks; Sikh weddings and funerals followed Hindu patterns; ashes of the dead were carried to the Ganges and offerings were made to ancestors. 41

The dalit voices are more clear and vociferous about ‘caste’ and ‘untouchability’ in Sikhism. Pandit Bakshi Ram who was born in a Balmiki family towards the close of the 19 th  century recalls in his autobiography how untouchability was rampant and how because of this the dalits could neither seek education nor were acceptable for a public service. It was only on his father’s approaching the Lahore court that schools were opened for dalits in 1905. He narrates two incidents from his village how the dalit Sikhs were treated by the dominant Jatt Sikhs. Once, a Rahitia (dalit Sikh) boy on drawing water from the school well was beaten up by the Jatt boys. Another time, when the Rahitia marriage party used the village pond for cleaning their backs in the morning they were thoroughly beaten up by the Jatts. 42  “Untouchability has become deep-rooted in the Jatt-dominated villages. Isn’t practicing caste and untouchability against  gurmat  (Gurus’ message)? In fact the Guru says “Khalsa is my image as I reside in the Khalsa”. 43  Saying that how after Independence the Jatts have come to completely control the politics and economy in Punjab and oppose the dalits’ demands he argues: “If Jatt Sikhs demand higher prices for their produce don’t the labourers have right to demand higher wages? And if the latter struggle for their right the former boycott them. Isn’t it a height of injustice? If Akalis have their  morchas  (pickets) for their demands why can’t dalits exercise their right to raise their demands? 44

Prem Gorkhi, an eminent Punjabi short-story writer, who graduated from a day-labourer to peon to a ‘respectable journalist’, has bitter experiences. He says: “I have seen that if Punjabi writers are intimate friends they also carry deep casteist ideas within... I have close relations from high to the low...they respect as well...I go to everyone’s house, eat and sleep there...but over taking sides on any vital issue, the cobra within would spread its fangs.... There is no drastic change in the caste situation from what it was a hundred year ago...only the ways of untouchability have changed. Today if you eat in the same plate, you also kill the same person—and whom you call dalit today is not a century-old thoughtless, egoless, without identity. He has reached a stage to decide for himself what is of good to him.” 45

Conclusion :

It is not sufficient to view Guru Granth Sahib just as a ‘unique’, ‘inclusive’ and ‘emancipatory’ sacred text. Going beyond these expressions and seeing it as a ‘liberation philosophy’ has potential to see in it the recordings of Indian renaissance as it also incorporates writings of great liberationist saints, viz.  Nāmdev   (1270-1350),  Ravidas (1399-1527),  Kabir (1498-1518), and others, independent of the much valorised the western/European renaissance. The Sikh gurus consolidated the liberation philosophy by socially institutionalising the liberation thoughts, born out of social and political praxis. The caste and varna differences came to be done away with in the institutions of  sangat  (mixed congregation) and  pangat  (eating food,  langar,  sitting in a row without any discrimination) and Guru Granth Sahib was given as a permanent reminder to those liberation thoughts. This provides the scholars an opportunity to delinking the Indian past from the Brahmanised and Eurocentric history. Historically the evolution of Sikh  panth  into an organised religion had paradoxical results. If in its formative stage, it had practical liberating results of integrating dalits into its fold by abolishing untouchability, as an organised ‘religion’ it also slipped into sham ritualism against which gurus had vociferously spoken and fought. The dominant Sikh upper-castes brought back ‘caste’ and untouchability for their own class interests. Even when the Sikh religion came to be salvaged from the danger of being engulfed by the brahmanical leviathan called Hinduism in the last century it still awaits its real renaissance by adhering to the true liberation philosophy of Guru Granth Sahib as the sacred text offers immense possibilities of re-imagining the Indian past and re-visioning its future.

1   See Harish K Puri, ‘Introduction’ in his  Dalits in Regional Context, Jaipur & New Delhi 2004

2   For a scholarly treatment of making of Adi Granth and its journey to Guru Granth Sahib see Gurinder Singh Mann,  The Making of Sikh Scripture, New Delhi , Oxford University Press, 2001

3   This valuable suggestion came from Valerie Kaur in her thoughtful essay “A Liberation Philosophy and Border Thinking” that appeared in Issue No.6, November of  SikhSpectrum.com Monthly. She introduces the Latin American thought as she opens up her essay: “Latin American philosopher Enrique Dussel provides a philosophy of liberation that aims to empower and decolonize marginalized communities. His contemporary, Walter Mignolo, conceptualizes the role of border thinkers, intellectuals who move between dominant and marginalized communities in order to generate a process of intellectual, economic, and social liberation.” She argues that “Latin American and South Asian scholars can understand the development of Sikhism, a Northern Indian religion born in the late 1400s, as a valuable kind of liberation philosophy and an instance of border thinking.”  See SikhSpectrum.com Monthly Issue No. 6, November 2002 available at  http://www.sikhspectrum.com/112002/valerie_k.htm.

4   Jagdeesh Singh, Panthic Weekly,   http://www.panthic.org/news/124/ARTICLE/4395/2008-09-26.html

5   “Gurbani  in English Translating Celestial Poetry” in  Sikh Review, June 2000. Available online at   http://www.sikhreview.org/june2000/heritage.htm   (emphasis in original)

6   “Sikhism’s Emancipatory Discourses: Some Critical Perspectives”, Sikh formations: Religion, Culture, Theory, Vol. 2, No. 2, December 2006, pp. 135-151

7   Ibid. p. 149

8   Enrique Dussel,  Philosophy of Liberation  (translated by Aquilina Martinez and Christine Morkovsky), Orbis Books: Maryknell , New York , 1985, p. 178

9   Mann says it “is treated in such a way as to manifest its royal status within the community. It is always robed in silk or expensive brocade and is displayed on a canopied throne, in a well-lit setting.” Op. cit. p. 133

10   As cited in  Harish K Puri, ‘Scheduled Castes in Sikh Community: A Historical Perspective’,  Economic and Political Weekly,  Vol. 38, No. 26, June 28-July 4, (2003): p. 2694

11   Dussel,  Philosophy of Liberation,  p. 180

12   Enrique Dussel, “Philosophy and Praxis (Provisional Thesis for a Philosophy of Liberation)”, John B Brough et. al. ed.,  Philosophical Knowledge, Catholic University of America , Washington , 1980, 113

13   “Kutti Vehra” in  HUN: Punjabi Sahit te Sabhiachar da Pratinidh, May-August, 2008, pp. 41-68 (translation mine)

14   Ibid. pp. 46-47

15   Ibid, p. 68

16   See Naranjan Arifi’s  Ranghrehtian da Itihas (Adi kal ton 1850 tak), Part I, Amritsar : Literature House 1993, pp. 203-220

17   Recently a renowned Punjabi writer Baldev Singh wrote a long novel  Panjwan Sahibjada  (Chetna Prakashan: Ludhiana , 2005) on Bhai Jaita alias Jeevan Singh.

18   This space became possible because of the dalit assertion in Punjab . One such dalit Sikh, K. S. Neiyyar who had settled in UK, commissioned the writing of history of Mazhbis (erstwhile untouchable Sikhs) to an eminent Punjabi writer and ‘historian’ Samsher Singh Ashok in 1970s and the result was  Mazhbi Sikhan da Itihas, Bhai Chatar Singh Jeevan Singh: Amritsar, 2001, 2 nd  edition (The first edition was perhaps published in 1980 as per ‘introduction’ by ‘Ashok’ dated 2 November 1979). Chapters 5 and 6 (pp.76-89) were devoted to Bhai Jaita/Jeevan Singh where the author also looks into the process of how Ranghretas became Mazhbis. The dalit assertion made the mainstream authors of Sikh tradition have a fresh look at the past and acknowledge the contribution of dalits to the Sikh tradition.

19   This composition “Sri Gur Katha  krit Kavi Baba Jeevan Singh (Bhai Jayata)” is published in Naranjan Arifi’s  Ranghrehtian da Itihas (Adi kal ton 1850 tak), Part I, Amritsar : Literature House 1993, pages 396-424. Baldev Singh also gives this poem at the end of his novel  Panjwan Sahibjada  from 465 to 501pages.

20   Nihang is defined as “‘free from care’, a title of the Akali Sikhs” in  A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West frontier Province, Vol III, 1883, Reprinted by language Department, Punjab, Patiala in 1970, p. 169. According to the Glossary “The sect of the  Akalis  differs essentially from all the other Sikh orders in being a militant organization, corresponding to the Naga or Gosains among the Hindus.” It continues “In their military capacity the Akalis were called Nihang, || or reckless, and played a considerable part in the Sikh history, forming the Shahids or the first of the four dehras.” It further says “Ranjit Singh, after 1823, did much to reduce their power, and the order lost its importance.” Vol III, pp. 9-10

21   Shamsher Singh Ashok,  Mazhbi Sikhan da Itihas  (History of Mazhbi Sikhs), Amritsar, 2 nd  revised ed. 2001, passim but for Bunga’s information page 171; for detailed accounts see Naranjan Arifi,  Ranghrehtian da Itihas (Adi kal ton 1850 tak), Part I, Amritsar: Literature House 1993, pages 429-65. Bunga was a lodging place.

22   To John C B Webster “The Dalit history approach is based on two assumptions. The first is that of Dalit agency. In this case, Dalit Sikhs move to centre-stage to become the chief actors in and shapers of their own history; the historian will therefore focus upon them, their views, their struggles, their actions. The second is that a conflict model of society, with caste as not the only but the most important contradiction in Indian society, provides the most appropriate paradigm for understanding their history.” See his “The Dalit Sikhs: A History?” in Tony Ballantyne, ed.,  Textures of the Sikh Past: New Historical Perspectives, New Delhi : Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 138

23   Ibid., p. 133

24   Some of these are: Giani Udham Singh,  Guru ka Beta: Itihas Shahid Baba Jeevan Singh, Amritsar: Jeevan Lehar, 1968; Hari Singh Nirbhay,  Mazhbi Sikhan di Jaddo-jahad, Amritsar: Baba Jeevan Singh Mazhbi Dal, 1975; Shamsher Singh Ashok,  Mazhbi Sikhan da Itihas  (History of Mazhbi Sikhs), Amritsar, 2 nd  revised ed. 2001; Naranjan Arifi’s  Ranghrehtian da Itihas (Adi kal ton 1850 tak), Part I, Amritsar: Literature House 1993. For general history of dalits of Punjab in the twentieth century see Dr S. L. Virdi,  Punjab da Dalit Itihas  (Dalit History of Punjab ) (1901 ton 2000), Phagwara: Dalit Sahit Academy , Punjab , 2000

25   Jagjit Singh agrees that the Ranghreta/Mazbhis had achieved an eminent place during the ‘Khalsa period’ that lasted 75 years after Guru Gobind Singh’s death. That when warring Sikhs were divided into 5 bands, one was under the command of Bir Singh Ranghreta who was also bestowed standard flag from the Akal Takhat as four others had been. “And, when the revolutionary zeal subsided, the Sikhs from castes, who had previously no hesitation in fraternizing with the Rangretas in the Khalsa Dal, again started discriminating against them in the post-Khalsa period.” See his  The Sikh Revolution: A Perspective View, Delhi : Bahri Publications, 1981, p. 205

26 Ranghrehtian da Itihas (Adi kal ton 1850 tak) , Part I, Amritsar : Literature House, 1993, pp. 432-458

27   Harjot Oberoi,  The Construction of Religious Boundaries, Oxford , OUP, 1994, p. 106

28   Punjab Darpan , 10 October 1917

29   Khalsa,   21 Feb 1923

30   Khalsa   # 96, 2 May 1923

31   Khalsa # 96, 24 June 1923

32   Khalsa # 96, 2 July 1923

33   Bhai Pratap Singh,  Jaat Paat te Chhut-Chhaat sambandhi Gurmat Sidhant  [Gurus’ Principles about Caste System and Untouchability], Amritsar : SGPC, 1933

34   Khalsa Sewak ,

17 and 22 March 1936

35   Khalsa Sewak’, 3 March 1936

36   Khalsa Sewak’, 7 March 1936

37   Khalsa Sewak’, 26 March 1936

38   Barstow ,  The Sikhs, 1928, p. 19

39   J. S. Grewal, Contesting Interpretations of the Sikh Tradition, Delhi : Manohar, 1998, p.71

40   Autobiography, p. 192

41   The Sikhs , pp. 45-46

42   Mera Jeevan Sangarsh, p. 4

43   Ibid. p. 96

44   Ibid. p. 99 45   Prem Gorkhi, “Dhukhdi Dhooni Pharolani Payee” (Searching from Smoldering Ambers) written as a letter to editor Prem Prakash published in the ‘Caste-Community special Issue’ of  Lakeer  (a literary quarterly), # 52, Jan-March 1995, pp. 23-29


The image at: www.iconocast.com

SLUMDOG SHOWS
IT'S WORTH”

Dr. Shura Darapuri
Reader cum Deputy Director, CSSEIP,
Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar University, Lucknow (India)
Email: shuradarapuri@gmail.com

“Slumdog Millionaire” has done it!! It has brought the long awaited eight Oscars to India’s credit. India known to be a “ Third World”, “Developing” nation has proved it, that given an opportunity it is no way less than any other Developed nation.

Success of the film has proved that potential of the country to develop knows no bounds and that the gems of talent lie littered even in the garbage of India, waiting to be picked up. India has proved in many fields be it in archery, shooting, wrestling, hockey, cricket and beauty contest etc. that it never leaves without making its presence felt. This time it has done it in films.

From time immemorial there has been an earnest effort on the part of Indian Directors to win an Oscar. It is now that their prayers have been answered with “Slumdog Millionaire” bagging the best film award and getting eight Oscars.

The award could not be denied even by the worst of judges for many reasons. One: the actors were picked up from the slums; they were given the opportunity to prove themselves in acting. They were actually brought into the mainstream by the Director Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan and they did not fail them at any stage. On the contrary they came up with flying colours which prove that talent is not the preserve of the high born and the privileged. Given the opportunity an underdog can rise to become a millionaire.

The film is also a reflection on the fact that for long, poverty has been theorized, debated in air conditioned Seminar rooms; the time has now arrived to “Act”.

The poor of the country are tired and bored of “distanced” sympathy from the rich and the need of the hour is to extend genuine hand of support so that the poor, excluded sections too get the feel of the “Red Carpet”.

In the history of films and also in the history of India “Slumdog Millionaire” has come as a “Revolution” as the film has successfully carried out its Social Responsibility. It has actually brought the marginalized sections into the mainstream translating their dreams into reality.

Media especially the films can play an important role as far as India is concerned. It has the mass appeal as even an illiterate person knows about Aishwarya Rai getting the Miss World Award. In down South the actors are worshipped like gods. That is how most well known actors confidently join politics. It is important that filmdom should carry its social responsibility by being sensitive to various issues and as in the case of “Slumdog Millionaire” make an effort to translate fiction into reality.

Some of the Bollywood Directors who just confine themselves to depicting of poverty only in terms of showing meagre clothes on the body of female actresses and concentrate on remaking of western films or a films from South, sincerely ought to take lessons from the film “Slumdog Millionaire” which shows sensitivity to the problem and gives solutions also. There should be an ongoing search for talent and depiction of originality. .

Celluloid World has to come on the streets and act for “real.” Similarly, other sectors of the nation should take lessons from the film “Slumdog Millionaire.” So that marginalized groups are given opportunity to join the mainstream to prove their worth and do India proud.

Posted on March 02, 2009

GURU RAVIDASS JAYANTI CELEBRATIONS
IN THE BC’S PARLIAMENT (CANADA)

By Jai Birdi
Victoria:  Members of Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha (Vancouver), Chetna Association of Canada, and Indian Buddhist Society visited BC’s parliament house to witness the celebrations of the 632 nd birth anniversary of Guru Ravidass, a saint and revolutionary of his times who propagated principles of equality, respect, and Begampura- a concept where everyone lives in harmony and have their basic needs met. 

The anniversary in the legislature was arranged by Burnaby-Edmond MLA Raj Chouhan and Bill Basra, president of Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha.  The delegation was first received by leader of the opposition, Carole James, MLA Raj Chouhan, MLA Sue Hamell, MLA Harry Bains, MLA Jagrup Brar, MLA Harry Lalli, and MLA Adrienne Dix who also spoke and reflected on the teachings of Guru Ravidass.  The delegation also met members of the government including MLA Dave Hayer, MLA John Nuraney, Minister Wally Oppal, Minister Ida Chong, and others.

“We must celebrate Guru Ravidass birthday everyday so we can reflect on and practice what Guru Ravidass believed in”, said Chouhan.  Guru Ravidass had a “vision of Begumpura, a city without any sorrows or grief where everyone had their basic needs met. He inspired and touched the lives of rich and poor, religious and secular individuals”, continued Chouhan.

Along the same theme, Carole James, leader of the opposition said, “Guru Ravidass Ji’s teachings for equality, public safety, and removing poverty, are relevant even today and we need to work on improving these for all citizens of this province”.

MLA Chouhan, MLA Dave Hayer, and MLA Raj Chouhan also spoke about the Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha (Vancouver) and teachings of Guru Ravidass. 

“The Sabha propagates the teaching of a guru, Sat Guru Ravidass, who was a visionary in 15th-century India . He openly fought against man-made inequalities such as caste, creed and discrimination against all individuals, while promoting universal love, peace and tolerance”, said Hayer.

MLA John Nuraney also spoke in the legislature and welcomed the delegation.

“I, too, would like to add my welcome to the group from the Guru Ravidass Sabha who is here with us today. It is a group who are loyal and dedicated people who are serving not only their community but a community at large in Burnaby , and I am very proud that they are all here today to be with us in this House”, said Nuraney.

Adding to the celebrations, MLA Raj Chouhan explained to the legislature assembly that under the leadership of the president, Mr. Bill Basra, and trustee Mr. Hukam Chand, the 36-member delegation is here from all over the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and India to celebrate the 632nd birthday of Shri Guru Ravidass.”.

“Guru Ravidass taught spirituality in the 14th century in India , based on emancipation from the oppression of the Indian caste system. He was born in an oppressed community considered untouchable. From childhood itself, Shri Guru Ravidass had spiritual traits and soon came to be known as a highly enlightened saint. He started preaching these spiritual ideas to the rich and poor alike”, continued Chouhan.

“This is indeed a very special day for us to remember and pay respects to Guru Ravidass in the house of legislature- temple of the democracy and I am thankful to Raj Chouhan for organizing the celebrations”, said Basra, “I am also thankful to MLA Dave Hayer and MLA John Nuraney for welcoming the delegates and speaking on Guru Ravidass in the legislature”, continued Basra.

The delegation also included Surinder Ranga, president of Chetna Association of Canada; Sutey Parkash Ahir, general secretary of Indian Buddhist Society of Canada; Nagar Kirtan Cooridnators Lamber Rao and Jai Birdi; Vice president of Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Santokh Jassal; Treasurers Ram Saroop and Paramjit Singh Kainth; Shinda Ahir of Ahir Trucking; Giani Pooran Singh; and, Nachattar Benji, Michael Ghirra, Kamal Jassi, Surinder Sandhu, Surjit Bains, Raj Kumar Mehmi, Chaman Banga, Mohinder Sidhu, Paramjit Mehmi, Kishan Lal Sidhu, Rashpal Bhardwaj, Chandra Bodalia, Harmesh Chumber, Hardev Saroa, Gurbax Dhanda, Davinder Dhami, Malkiat Sohpal, Paramjit Lakha, Amrik Puar, Dilbagh Rai, Amrik Kalsi, Prem Sund, Gurmukh Sidhu and GD Guddu .

Posted on February 20, 2009 (09:45am)

STATEMENT ON SAHIB SHRI GURU RAVIDASS JI
IN THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA ( CANADA )

Statement by MLA Raj Chouhan; February 18 , 2009

The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia

Thank you Mr. Speaker

Earlier today along with many other members and the Leader of the Official Opposition I had the privilege and honour to receive and host a reception for the delegation from Guru Ravidass Sabha, also known as the Gilley Temple in Burnaby .

Under the leadership of President Mr. Bill Basra and trustee Mr. Hukam Chand the 36 member delegation is here from all over the lower mainland, Vancouver Island and India to celebrate the 632 nd birthday of Shri Guru Ravidass.

Guru Ravidass taught spirituality (in the fourteenth century in India ) based on emancipation from the oppression of the Indian caste system. He was born in an oppressed community considered "untouchable".

From childhood itself, Guru Ravidass Ji had spiritual traits and soon came to be known as a highly enlightened saint. He started preaching these spiritual ideas to the rich and poor alike. His popularity increased day by day and soon Kings and Queens of different princely states became his disciples.

He stood for equality for everyone. He raised his voice against racism. He taught the Oneness and omnipresence of God and the only way to MOKSHA is to free the mind from duality.

To pay a true homage to Guru Ravidass we need to celebrate his birthday everyday so that his message of love and equality reaches out to everyone.

Once again please join with me to welcome the members of the Guru Ravidass Sabha and the Gilley Temple to this temple of democracy. 

Statement by MLA Dave Hayer :

D. Hayer: We have in the House some very special delegates and guests from a variety of organizations, including Indian Buddhist Society, the Chetna Association of Canada and Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha in Burnaby.

The Sabha propagates the teaching of a guru, Sat Guru Ravidass, who was a visionary in 15th-century India . He openly fought against man-made inequalities such as caste, creed and discrimination against all individuals, while promoting universal love, peace and tolerance.  

Next month the Sabha will be celebrating the 632nd birthday anniversary of Sat Guru Ravidass, by hosting Nagar Kirtan in the community.

The society is represented here today by its president, Bill Basra, along with more than 30 other delegates and volunteers, including Santokh Jassal, Lamber Rao, Jai Birdi, Ram Saroop Chandharh and Chandra Bodalia, one of the top photographers from our communities. They have been volunteering their time to help the community.  

They met with the opposition and the government side today. Would the House please make them very welcome and thank them for all the hard work they're doing.

Posted on February 20, 2009 (00:33)

Book Review

WHITHER OUR WRITERS IN THE POST – AMBEDKAR ERA?

Book Review By: K.C. Sulekh #503, Sector 15-A Chandigarh -160015

DALIT EMPOWERMENT AFTER DR. B.R. AMBEDKAR

By Dr. Karam Singh Raju (Former IAS)

Hundreds of books on the life and mission of Baba Sahib Ambedkar have been published and are being brought out endlessly, each writer projecting his or her own particular style, penchant and purpose. Being associated with the Ambedkar movement since my boyhood, I am instinctively interested in the Ambedkar literature yearning for an India of Baba Sahib’s dreams in all its philosophical and existential manifestations. I have myself penned forewords and reviews for so many books besides contributing hundreds of articles published in books, magazines, papers souvenirs et al in the service of Ambedkar Mission. I have just come across a book titled ‘Dalit Empowerment after Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’ authored by Dr. Karam Singh Raju (former IAS), who also has to his credit books on Sikh religion, Sikh Gurus, Sikh Philosophy, Guru Ravidas, and Maharishi Valmiki (Ramayana). After reading some of its pages somewhat more closely, I felt compelled to put some of the author’s views and contentions under review.

The book, as the title suggests, was supposed to throw light on the conditions of Dalits then and now and the various projects and measures completed or in progress, undertaken by the government aimed at the upliftment and empowerment of these sections of people. But surprisingly enough, the author instead of critically examining the pace of progress and suggesting some useful tips has, it seems, gone off the track and has chosen to sing paeans in praise of Hindu ‘holy’ scriptures, Hindu gods and Hindu civilization and M. Gandhi too. There are a few articles in the book, no doubt, that really make sense as far as the subject matter is concerned.

The book has one article ‘Gandhi and Ambedkar’ depicting Gandhi as a magnanimous patriarch and Ambedkar just as a small-time politician playing politics at his pleasure. The views of Baba Sahib on `What Congress and Gandhi have done to the untouchables’ are well known the world over. These views are not in the genre of ‘Sharutis’ – heard and passed on, but stand indelibly embodied in numerous of his books and articles which he pursued so selflessly for all his life to infuse a new life into the dead bodies of his people. Baba Saheb had long ago lost all hopes in the sincerity and fair deal of Congress and Gandhi for their treacherous role in his fight for the emancipation of the untouchables. Baba Sahib was blunt therefore, to say that Gandhi was neither earnest nor honest or sincere in dealing with the problems of the untouchables and above all that he was enemy number one of the untouchables. He even called him a bogus Mahatma. What then the author wants to show by inserting such a pejorative passage in the book. To prove that what Baba Saheb wrote and spoke was all trash? The worst part of the story is that exactly in the manner and style of Arun Shourie, the writer has spared no effort to highlight what Gandhi had said on certain occasions and suppress what Baba Saheb did say and act in reaction to Gandhi’s arrogant behaviour.

Now look at the views of the author himself who in his anxiety to prove more loyal than the king, seems to have over-stepped his brief as said earlier also. Referring to Pt. Nehru’s statement on Baba Saheb’s death, the author records, ‘in Nehru’s words, he (Dr. Ambedkar) was a symbol of revolt against the oppressive features of Indian society’ (P.11). By substituting ‘Hindu Society’ (in the original statement) with ‘Indian Society’, the author has not only attempted to water down the intensity of Pt. Nehru’s feelings but has left much to be read into his own credentials as an honest writer. At one place (p.49), he writes ‘Dr. Ambedkar proposed abolition of untouchability. Before him Buddha, Lord Rama, Lord Krishna and scores of other religious heads had attacked the very basis of untouchability and `chaturvarnya’. The question that the author must have to answer is: Did Ambedkar merely propose and did nothing more for the abolition of untouchability? Did `Lords’ Rama and Krishna really attacked the institution of Chaturvarnya and untouchability?

Both the above said Hindu gods are credited with super human powers being omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient and what not. That being the case, the question is: why they remained content with only attacking it and not finishing it altogether if at all they were so serious and so omnipotent? On the contrary, the fact is, far from attacking it, these gods were themselves responsible for creating and perpetuating the cursed chaturvarna dharma to make it as an unalienable part of their faith for ever. Rama as a conscientious protector of the dharma beheaded Shambuka, a `Shudra tapasavi’ in cold blood. His only sin was that he was found guilty of performing penance (tapasya) to gain entry into heaven. This story is not a manufactured one but is authentically recorded in Valmiki Ramayana and retold in Kalidas’s Raghuvansham (5 th century) and also in Bhavbhuti’s Uttar Ram Chritriam. As regards Krishna, leave aside everything else, he himself was, as he claimed, the creator of chaturvarna. Not only that, he went further to permanently fix occupations to each varna to be strictly followed in practice. Blind folded `the hindu society’ has been meticulously observing the caste-rules since centuries past to spell doom to the `low born’.

Next, the author comes out as a committed devotee (see the Caption: Holy Scriptures Command – Devotees’ Commit – a totally unintelligible term - p. 48) in support of Rig Veda, Shankra’s Vedant philosophy and sanctity of the Puranas. He says that chaturvarna is anti-Veda, the hymn entitled Purush Sukta is later – day interpolation whereas Rig Veda does not contain any mention of the chaturvarna, that even the greatest and most authentic Brahmin commentator of Vedas, Shankar had conceded in his book `Manusa Panchaka’ that even a Chandala could become his guru by true realization of God. With a similar quirk of logic, the author goes to equate the teachings of Guru Ravidas a pious saint with those of the Puranas universally admitted as mythological books containing stories entirely supernatural and unbelievable. According to the author both preach that there is no difference between man and God.

Read in its entirety, the book leaves you totally clueless whether to believe Baba Saheb the saviour or the man himself trapped in a mire of confusion and mythological mumbo-jumbo. Must it be repeated again and again to remind this friend as to what Baba Saheb thought and said of the Hindu Shastras, Hindu gods and Hindu Social Order It is really an unpleasant job to recall such edicts from Hindu Shastras as remind us of a dark age and a horrible past for the unfortunate human beings branded untouchables, chandalas or papyoni. With such a painful realization and bitter experience, it was but natural for Baba Saheb to say that (1) Vedas are a worthless set of books, there is no reason either to call them sacred or infallible and this dogma must be destroyed root and branch (Vol. 4, p.8), (2) that the teachings of great Shankracharaya are simply ridiculous. The Shankaracharya says that there is Brahma and this Brahma is real that pervades all and at the same time it upholds all the inequalities of Brahminic society. Only a lunatic could be happy with being the propounder of two such contradictions (Vol.4, p.287), (3) The Puranas as distinguished from itihas (history) occupy an important place in the literature of Brahminism that is devoted to the Hindu deities, their `gathas’ (tales) and their worship (ibid – Chapter 10) telling tales that simply baffle the mind. With the teachings contained in such books in mind, how a man in his senses would believe the canard that these books really preach equality between man and God and through God between man and man. (4) As regards `Lords’ Rama and Krishna, the reader would do well to read the chapter ‘Riddle of Rama and Krishna’ (Vol.4, p. 323) to know how these gods protected, promoted, preserved and pushed forward the institution of chaturvarna or caste system. Bhagwat Gita said to be the sacred gospel of Hindu religion because of Krishna was a book bought out to provide moral support and philosophical justification to the central doctrine of counter revolution namely chaturvarna – the counter revolution that was ushered in after the assassination of Brahdrath the last Buddhist King in 185 B.C. by his Brahmin Commander-in-Chief Pushyamittar when the Buddhist monasteries, the Buddhist monks and the Buddhist missionaries were destroyed most ruthlessly to re-establish Brahmical Social Order. Manu Smriti, Gita, Shankarcharya’s vedant, Mahabharat, Ramanyana and the Puranas are among the most important books that were brought out during this period with the sole aim to destroy the people’s faith in Buddhism and to impose upon them a religion of hate, obscurantism and irrational beliefs called Brahmanism.

In the face of such a voluminous literature on the life and mission of Baba Sahib and so much light having already been shed on the subject, will our friend still continue to live in a make-believe world like the proverbial pigeon shutting his eyes on seeing the cat to think that the danger has been averted ? The persecution of the Scheduled Castes in one form or the other all over the country still continues unabated. But our friend does not like to see it. Why? His assertion in one breath that the chaturnvarna is neither harmful to the SCs nor beneficial to the twice born dwijas and saying in the same breath that tremendous damage has been done by the chaturvarna (p. 51) certainly speaks of either a diseased or a confused mind. Similarly, his extolling the greatness of Baba Saheb and calling him a `messiah’ or god of the poor in the book and at the same time glorifying the teachings of Hindu gods and Brahmanic `holy scriptures is nothing short of making the confusion worse confounded. In other words, it is only an attempt to befool the people or himself.

One thing must be clearly understood that the book released amidst great fanfare, as in this case, by a minister or governor does not automatically raise its status to become a holy book. What is needed to make the book worth while for the readers to benefit is the intellectual honesty and complete dedication to the ideal. The ideals of Baba Sahib cannot be allowed to be fiddled with so lightly and so brazenly. The people are more than awakened and vigilant.

The author has given a clean chit to the Hindu Shastras and hindu gods for their role in creating and perpetuating the chaturvarna or caste system off-shooting therefrom and has put the blame for interpolating the hymn Purush Sukta in the Rig Veda on some later-day Brahmin scholar. But interestingly enough, no Brahmin sage or scholar is known to have raised protest against this mischief much less to weed it out from the `sacred’ scripture. The author appears to have been heavily briefed to dare tread the path where even the angels fear to go.

Posted on January 13, 2009

ASHOK BHARTI
CHAIRMAN OF NACDOR
ADDRESSES UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON HUNGER AND POVERTY

Mr. Ashok Bharti, Chairman of National Confederation of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR), addressed heads of the States ( Prime Ministers and Presidents) on 25th September 2008 in the United Nations General Assembly. He was invited by the Secretary General of United Nations Mr. Ban Ki Moon and the President of the UN General Assembly Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann to address the General Assembly of UN on 'Hunger and Poverty', where Mr. Bharti clearly spoke about the poverty of the Dalits. His official address is presented for Ambedkartimes’s readers.

Honourable Chairperson, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

World is again troubled with run away bankers. They need a bail out package; a package of about a trillion dollars. Governments and their banks have opened their coffers. Probably they will succeed.

But, what about bailing out more than a billion extremely poor and hungry people? What about the promise of point seven percent Overseas Development Assistance? Be fair and just. Give resources to needy and extremely poor, not to the greedy bankers and companies. We demand financial system, aid mechanisms and trade treaties helping the poorest. Rich can take care of themselves. UN and the Governments need to take care of the poor.

Asia is the home to over two-thirds of the world’s poor. It faces uphill task of overcoming extreme hunger and poverty. Whilst parts of East and South East Asia appear on track to achieve MDGs, most of the South Asia is trailing in achieving MDGs. The World is euphemism about high growth rate economy of India and China , conveniently ignores the fact that they together account for 50% of the world’s population living on less than one dollar a day. If Asia does not achieve MDGs, world will not achieve them. Therefore, we shall be clear that Asia is the key to the success of MDGs. It can make or break Millennium Promise.

As an Indian and a Dalit, I am really privileged to have overcome my poverty. But more than 265 million of India’s Dalits – the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are not. They live on less than half-dollar a day. Same is the conditions of more than 116 million Muslims and other poor in India. Majority of them are women.

We live in world where one person dies every three-and-a-half seconds due to hunger-related causes and most of them happen to be children. We also read in news-papers about families committing suicides due to extreme poverty. One-year old girl Amba and two year old boy Satyendra are among those infants, who since May 2008 died due to starvation. It is really shocking that more than 27% of the total Dalit children are severely stunted, 54% chronically malnourished, and three fourth of them are anaemic. Why? Because they are extremely poor and they are socially excluded.

Poverty results in loss of dignity and self-respect. It breeds hopelessness and frustration causing despair, anger and violence. Poverty is a positive threat to democracy and peace. For poor, policies are meaningless, full citizenship a mirage and governance nothing but a big failure.

Our world, which is moving towards space tourism, is it not ironical that people cannot reach a hospital in time? Is it not really a shame that in an era of corporate hospitals and wellness centres, our woman has to deliver babies in forest, pavement or road? We have weapons to blast the earth, but not adequate policies to destroy poverty and hunger? How long would we take to ensure that every child go to school?

Our hope lies in the political will of our leaders and governments. You can make difference to the lives of the poor, hungry and the malnourished. It is the governments who can stand up, take action and deliver the rights to their citizens.

We, therefore, need to remind ourselves that we are the first generation who could eradicate extreme hunger, poverty and deprivation by rejecting racism, casteism and inequity and exclusion.

As a representative of the Dalits and socially excluded, and as the Convenor of Wada Na Todo Abhiyaan, I request you to take action.

We need action! And we need it now!!

A DALIT LEADER IN UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Ashok Bharti B.E. (Elect.), M.E. (Manufacturing Mgmt.) Australia ,

Ashoka Fellow: Chairman, National Confederation of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR)
CONTACT ADDRESS:
M-3/22, Model Town-III, Delhi 110009 INDIA
Phone/Fax: 91-11-27442744 Mobile : 09810918008 E-mail: nacdor@gmail.com

ASHOK BHARTI , born in an extremely poor Dalit (Jatav) family in Delhi on 26th May 1960 . Father was a tailor and mother used to make paper bags to supplement the family income. There were nine members in the family, three sisters and four brothers.

EDUCATION

A first generation learner completed his primary and pre-secondary education in a Municipal Corporation Primary school in Seelampur village of East Delhi . He passed secondary school examination (10 th class) from Kalkaji Government Senior Secondary School , passed his Senior Secondary School Examination from Government Schools in Gandhi Nagar in East Delhi . After passing first year of B.A. (Honours) in Political Science from Hindu College in 1981, he shifted to Delhi College of Engineering of Delhi University and Graduated in Electrical Engineering in 1986. He received Government of India’s National Overseas Scholarship for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and De-Notified Tribes in 1994 and went to Australia in 1996 and specialised in various Advanced Technologies, including Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Aided Manufacturing. He specialised in Strategic Management and Manufacturing Strategies, and obtained degree of Master of Engineering (Manufacturing Management) from the University of South Australia in 1999. Returned to India in December 1999 and began mobilising Dalits for a New Dalit Movement.

LEADERSHIP

  • Invited as Dalit Leader in the First Global Forum on Leadership for Shared Societies organised by the Club Madrid in collaboration with the City of Rotterdam as an expert on India ’s social situation. Met many former Presidents and Prime Ministers of different countries including Mr. Bill Clinton,
  • Invited by the UN Secretary General and the President of UN General Assembly to address High-level Event on Millennium Development Goals in the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2008 at UN Headquarters in New York . His address to the Heads of the Government in the UN General Assembly was widely appreciated.
  • Convenor, Wada Na Todo Abhiyaan , GCAP – India , comprising more than 3000 civil society organisations.
  • Convenor, Global Task Force on Social Exclusion by GCAP and Member of Global Council of GCAP.
  • Founder of World Dignity Forum. Conceptualised World Dignity Forum in April 2003 and organised the first ever World Dignity Forum on 19 th January 2004 in World Social Forum 2004 in Mumbai. World Dignity Forum was attended by more than 8000 participants from more than 100 countries and speakers from 10 countries addressed the gathering.
  • Organised World Dignity March in association with the MST and other organisations on 26 th January 2005 in the street of Porto Alegre , where more than 5000 people participated. Later on this march merged with the World Social Forum March.
  • Conceptualised National Confederation of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR) in 2001 and organised first ever National Conference of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR-I) in 2001. Second National Conference of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR-II) held in December 2007 was inaugurated by the Vice President of the Country and more than 1200 organisations of Dalits from all over India participated. Elected as the Chairman of NACDOR on 8 th December 2007 for the next five years.
  • Member of India Organising Committee of World Social Forum and has also represented the same in the International Council of World Social Forum
  • Board Member, Tehreek-E-Pasmanda Muslim Samaj Trust
  • He also held many important positions:
  • President (International Students) , University of South Australia Students Association (USASA), Australia (January 1998 to December 1998)
  • Member , Academic Board, University of South Australia , Australia ;
  • Chairman, International Students Standing Committee , University of South Australia Students Association (USASA), Australia (January 1998 to December 1998).
  • Vice-President Council of International Students of South Australia (CISSA), Australia (May 1998 to May 1999).
  • In India , he held positions of:
  • General Secretary , Students Association of Delhi College of Engineering, Delhi University , Delhi ,
  • Founder President, MUKTI, a Youth Organisation which was active in Delhi from 1986 to 1992.
  • Founder President, Centre for Alternative Dalit Media (CADAM), a well-known Dalit NGO in Delhi . Chosen by United Nations Volunteer for making an eight-minute documentary on one of its female volunteer in the International year of Volunteer.

AWARDS AND SCHOLARSHIPS

  • Engineers India Limited Fellowship for SC and ST students, 1982
  • Dalit Ratna Award on 28 thApril 2002 by the Dalits of Haryana for his efforts for the empowerment of the Dalits
  • National Overseas Fellowship for Higher Education of Government of India, 1994, which provided him an opportunity to undertake Master of Engineering (Manufacturing Management) in University of South Australia.
  • Ashoka Fellow ( Ashoka Foundation , USA )

COUNTRIES VISITED

India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Britain, Australia, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Brazil, United States of America, the Netherlands

Posted on 29 January 2009

WE NEED A NEW WORLD ORDER
Sawraj Singh, M.D. F.I.C.S.

No country or region can now dominate the entire world.
Relations between the east and the west should now be based upon equality and mutual respect.

Barack Obama was elected as president of America because people wanted a fundamental change. The American policies, particularly the policies of Bush, have miserably failed and have led to a global economic crisis and instability in the world. America has had its worst recession since the great depression of the thirties. This is not just an economic crisis but it is a much more serious crisis which can be called a crisis of the consumerist culture and the world order based upon the traditional capitalist system and its highest stage " Globalization".

 The present globalization is economic-only globalization and completely lacks any ethical aspect. America , the undeclared leader of the present globalization, has not pursued policies which are beneficial for the majority of the world population as well as for the majority of the American people. We can call this a globalization without a global perspective.

If Obama really wants America and the rest of the world to come out of the present crisis, then he has to fundamentally change the American unilateralist policies. The ground reality of the world is that it is no longer a unipolar world led by America and the western domination can not last. Asia , with China in the leading place, has now become the leading region of the world. The world has already become a multi polar world. No country or region can now dominate the entire world. Relations between the east and the west should now be based upon equality and mutual respect.

The global institutions such as the United Nations, World Bank and the international monetary fund should all be revised to reflect the realities of the world. At present all of these institutions are dominated by the west.

The problems between India and Pakistan and the problems of the entire South Asia region can be solved by making a South Asian Economic Alliance on the pattern of the European Union. The Indian subcontinent is a multinational, multicultural, and multi-religious entity bound together by a common civilization and a shared valued system. Therefore, a South Asian Economic Alliance can be stronger than the European Union. Such an alliance can be a great impetus for a new world order based upon the principles of equality, mutual respect, universal concern, and universal welfare.

The present world order lacks a balance between the material and the spiritual aspects of life. In the new world order, there should be a balance between western materialism and eastern spirituality. The west should learn from the eastern wisdom. Guru Granth Sahib is the zenith of the eastern spirituality and philosophy. Guru Granth Sahib advocates love, tolerance, peaceful coexistence, universal concern, universal welfare, and promotes unity in diversity. These are the principles upon which a new world order can be established.

Obama has to change the extreme rightist policies of Bush which are responsible for the present global economic crisis. The American policies should benefit the majority of Americans and not the privileged few, which was happening under the Bush administration. America should stop acting like the only super power in the world and start acting like a member of the global community.

Posted on January 24, 2009

Obama Ready to Talk to Iran

SAWRAJ SINGH MD FICS
CHAIRMAN WASHINGTON TATE NETWORK FOR HUMAN RIGHTS.,
CHAIRMAN CENTRAL WASHING TON COALITION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

            President elect Obama has said that he is willing to talk to Iran .  He said that his administration wants to adopt a new approach towards Iran .  He said that Iran will be one of the biggest challenges for him because not only Iran is helping to spread terrorism by helping the Hezbollah and  the Hamas but also wants to build nuclear weapons which will increase the nuclear race in the middle east.  He said that he is making a new team that will work for establishing peace in the Middle East after he takes over the presidency.

            President Bush was the strongest supporter of Israel . No wonder, Israel has started the present attacks on Gaza during the last days of his presidency.  More that 70% of Americans feel that Bush has done so much damage to America .  Even during his last days he is living up to his reputation of the most unpopular President America ever had.  However, even Bush said that he did not agree with Israel to attack and destroy the nuclear facilities of Iran because such an overt action can be very dangerous and involve the whole Middle East in the war.  Instead, he advocated covert action to discourage Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

            It is becoming clear that Iran is emerging as the leading country in the Middle East .  It was because of the support from Iran that the Hezbollah were able to defeat Israel in Lebanon during the 2006 war.  It is also because of Iran ’s support that Israel is unlikely to meet it’s objectives in Gaza against the Hamas.  Not only Israel will not be able to finish the Hamas but the present attack on the Hamas may help it to win wider recognition among the Arabs and the Muslims.

            Obama has to radically change the domestic and the foreign policies of Bush.  These policies were supported by the extreme rightist, jingoist and the most fanatic elements of the American society.  For Bush, Israel was the closest friend and the Islamic countries, particularly Iran , were the enemies.  By inciting the memory of the crusades, Bush managed to alienate most of the Islamic countries in the World.  Besides Israel , such policies were only supported by the Christian Zionists and the Evangelicals.  These people probably believe in the prophecy about the greater kingdom of Israel as well as Noah’s curse to his son Ham that his next generations will be slaves for the next generations of his other son Shem. Jews are believed to be the descendents of Shem and the Palestinians descendents of Ham.

            Whatever may be the reason but it is quite clear that the American foreign policy is heavily tilted toward Israel and unlike Europe ; America has been unable to follow a balanced policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.  Obama will have to correct this imbalance.  A great power such as America can not tie its policies to a small country such as Israel whose future is so uncertain.  America needs an independent policy in the Middle East and no matter how many disagreements it has with Iran yet it has to recognize the obvious that Iran now holds more cards in the Middle East than any other country. 

            Another zealot and fanatic group that has held the American foreign policy hostage is the anti Castro and the anti communist Cubans in Florida .  They have held on to the belief that after Castro , Cuba will revert back to capitalism and come back to the American fold.  This does not seem to be happening.  These Cubans are the reason that we had the most unpopular President in the history.  Obama has to review and reconsider the American sanctions on Cuba .  Have these sanctions hurt Cuba or America ?

            Besides the above mentioned two bastions of the right, the third bastion of the right is the medical profession.  The insurance companies, the drug companies, the hospitals and some of the doctors have monopolized the medical profession.  While these monopolies and the mal practice attorneys are loading their pockets, millions of Americans continue to lose their health coverage.  The minorities are getting the worst end of the deal.  In spite of spending the highest percentage of the GDP upon healthcare, America continues to lag behind not only all the developed countries but also some of the third World countries in the areas such as infant mortality, maternal mortality and the life expectancy.  Time has come to seriously consider universal healthcare.

Posted on January 17, 2009

CUBA FORGING AHEAD
ON THE PATH OF REVOLUTION

            Cuba celebrated the 50 th anniversary of the revolution. In 1959 Fidel Castro declared victory of the revolution. Together with the spirited revolutionary Che Guevara, they brought socialist revolution to the door steep of the most powerful capitalist country of the world. Cuba is only 90 miles from the Florida coast. Cuba not only became the first socialist country in the western hemisphere but also became a beacon for the oppressed nations and people of Latin America.

            Today, fifty years after the revolution, the zeal and spirit of the revolution remain well and alive. The American hopes that after Castro’s departure, Cuba will revert back to its status of a play land for the play boys, has been shattered. Cuba refuses to become a center of prostitution, gambling and drugs which it was before the revolution. Instead, Cuba has decided to continue forging ahead on the path of revolution.

            Cuba had its set backs, the biggest were when the Soviet Union collapsed. In spite of the set backs, the achievements of the revolution are very impressive. Cuba has excelled in two fields which are the most essential aspects for any society; education and healthcare. Cuba has made available quality education for not only its own citizens but also for many people of Latin America. Cuba’s achievements in the field of healthcare are equally impressive. All the citizens are provided with proper healthcare. Cuba’s infant mortality and maternal mortality rates are one of the lowest in the world, even better than many developed countries. Cuba remains almost free of the AIDS epidemic.

            The quality of health of the people is also reflected in the brilliant performance of the Cuban athletes in the events such as the Olympics. A tiny nation is able to compete with the large and powerful nations on almost equal footing.

            Cuba continues to promote an alternate socialist model of development. Cuba remains a center of defiance to the hegemonic and imperialist policies. Cuba is playing an active role in converting the present unipolar world into a multipolar world by helping with the emergence of an independent power center in South America. Cuba’s message is echoing in several other South American countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.

            Florida become a gathering place for the anti Castro, anti communist and the extreme rightist Cubans. Thanks to these Cubans, America had its most unpopular president in history, George Bush. Not only these Cubans imposed this president but also incited hegemonic and jingoist policies. However, even in the Cuban community in Florida, attitudes are changing. A majority of the Cubans in Florida now want the sanctions on Cuba lifted.

            Cuba has developed close relations with China and is rebuilding its relations with Russia. Last year, Hu Jin Tao, the Chinese president and Medvedev, the Russian president, both visited Cuba. President elect Obama should strongly consider lifting the sanctions on Cuba. It is high time that American policy should not be hold hostage by the die hard anti Castro and anti communist zealots, jingoists and fanatics.

 

SAWRAJ SINGH MD FICS
CHAIRMAN WASHINGTON STATE NETWORK FOR HUMAN RIGHTS., CHAIRMAN CENTRAL WASHING TON COALITION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

Posted on January 09, 2009

ISRAEL UNLIKELY TO ACHIEVE ITS OBJECTIVES

            Israel launched the attack on Gaza with several objectives. However, it is unlikely to achieve its objectives and the war may further radicalize the region with Israel and the moderate Arabs becoming the biggest losers in the long run.

            Israel’s major objective was to avenge the defeat of 2006 against the Hezbollah in Lebanon. Many people in the world, including many in Israel itself, felt that Israel lost to the Hezbollah. This time, Israel wants to secure a clear victory against the Hamas. Israel wants to regain the status of the leading power in the Middle East. The victory in the war can also be used by the Israeli leaders to boost their chances in the upcoming elections.

            Another reason to start the war could be to sharpen the divisions between the radical and moderate Arabs, and eventually to isolate the radicals, such as Hamas, Iran, and Syria, and to strengthen the moderates such as pro-Western Egypt. This will be similar to supporting the Fatah against the Hamas.

            Still another reason can be to stop President-elect Obama from starting a dialogue with Iran. Obama had indicated during his election campaign that he would like to open a dialogue with Iran. Israel is very concerned about Iran becoming stronger and eventually acquiring nuclear weapons. The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has given strong statements against Israel. Iran is getting sophisticated weaponry from Russia. Israel wanted to attack Iran and destroy its nuclear capabilities as it did in Iraq. However, attacking Iran can be very dangerous for Israel because Iran now has missiles which can reach any part of Israel. Iran is bound to launch a counter attack.

            Some people feel that because Israel is unable to attack Iran at this time, it is using Hamas to vent its anger and frustration. However, attacking Hamas will only increase the influence of Iran in the region. Iran has emerged as a major supporter of Hamas as it became the biggest supporter of the Hezbollah. The alliance of Syria and Iran is becoming stronger with every Israeli attack on the Arabs. Iran, a non-Arab country, is being accepted more and more by the Arabs in the region as the leading regional power. Iran is appealing to them as Islamic countries rather than Arab countries. Iran is making the Palestinian cause as an Islamic cause rather than an Arab cause. This helps to broaden support for Palestinians.

            The moderate Arabs are going to be the biggest losers. Ironically, Israel is strengthening its enemies and weakening its friends. Egypt, the traditional leading Arab country, is losing prestige in the Arab world in a big way. Many Arabs are very angry with Egypt and are calling it an American puppet and a supporter of Israel. Even Egyptian flags have been burned by some Arab demonstrators. Egypt continues to lose prestige in the Arab world. Gamal Abdel Nasser was the most influential leader the Arabs ever had. After Nasser, Anwar al-Sadat continued to be an important leader even though many Arabs hated him for being an American lackey. For his pro-American policies, he was assassinated. Hosni Mubarak has become very insignificant. He has neither regional influence nor any global importance. This attack is going to further reduce his standing.

            Israel has vowed that it will finish Hamas as an effective fighting force. This is unlikely to happen. Actually, Hamas is going to gain in the long run because it will gain more sympathy and acceptance from the Arabs. Hamas is going to move closer to the Syria-Iran-Hezbollah axis. In the long run, Israel’s attack on Gaza will change this trilateral alliance into a quadrilateral alliance.

SAWRAJ SINGH MD FICS
CHAIRMAN WASHINGTON STATE NETWORK FOR HUMAN RIGHTS., CHAIRMAN CENTRAL WASHING TON COALITION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

Posted on January 09, 2009

HISTORIC TRIUMPH
A MARVELLOUS REALITY OF OUR ANCESTORS

(CRUCIAL HUMAN RIGHT WAR AT BHIMA-KORAGAON ON 01.01.1818.-- WATERLOO OF NAZI PESHVAS)

"History is always one-sided account of the academic historians," said by Napoleon (Ref: Best selling book, "Da Vinci Code" penned by Dan Brown). As such, we ought to read our marvelous ancestor's histories which will give us "another side of account of our factual histories".

Penned by C.C.HADKE


"Those who forget history of their own; never create history": Dr. Ambedkar. Therefore it is necessary to remember our warrior ancestors from time to time. On remembering; we get indication of our existence and self respect too. Our ancestors were very obedient and brave people. They have shown their immense bravery whenever they got opportunity. It is said, "If you want to see what the man he is; place him in authority". Indeed! They were loyal people, their very important virtue was patience, loyalty and to face any circumstance bravely without any complaint In Marathi, there is a popular proverb " Hota Jiva mhanun wachla Shiva" i.e. As Jiva (Shudra) was there, Shiva (King Shivaji) could survive. The excerpts of the history are as such: Jiva disguised as Shivaji to save life of his master, the real king Shivaji from enemy at a certain crucial guerrilla war. Subsequently, when enemy came to know the fact, Jiva was killed by the enemy and saved the precious life of his master - king Shivaji .Thus Jiva who hailed from barber caste had shown a great loyalty by his sacrifice on behest of his master. Such many evidences are available in history. But alas! we don't  know due to lack of underground/hidden knowledge; because BSO (Brahminical Social Order ) never reveal  such truths of history in academic text books. Hence we must keep our curiosity alive and habit of reading additional, other than what is being taught by the existing educational systems which are run by the BSO in this country. It is said, “Repeat 99 times lie; at 100th count the lie becomes truth", is main strategy of BSO which helps them to put the slaves to enjoy their slaveries. It is rightly stated by Pope, "Those who do not have ability to think, they treat all the happiness in only entertainment". As such, in order to have fore-vision, it is essential to develop habit of reading histories of our ancestors, our books, periodicals etc., than sitting in front of TV (Idiot Box) and wasting our precious life time.


Really, it is very sad part of us that no trace is made available; is regrettable and astonishing. It is evident that BSO fear and try hard to suppress truth so that people as a whole should not know their black background history. If anything written in those days must have either been destroyed or distorted by treating as vicious show of our ancestors. The evidences indicate that our brave ancestors always used to revolt against injustice for ages.
 
 Obviously, there is no doubt that BSO destroyed marvelous history of Mahars in pre-independence period. Yet, some traces of this history is as follows: Ref.: Times of India, dated 31/03/03, article under caption 'Dalit battles' an interview of Raja Sedhar Vundru, Editor of 'Dalit Millennium' with Rajesh Ramachandran on intentionally forgotten war of Bhima-Koregaon which was enriched with the martial role of Dalits in pre-independent India.. A question was put up as follows: How come this Bhima-Koregaon history of Dalit valour has completely disappeared from public consciousness? Answer.--According to one scolar, the British erected a monument in 1821 as a tribute by the valour and loyalty of the Mahars after the battle of Koregaon. This cenotaph had the names of 22 Mahar soldiers who fell in action. In fact in the Battle of Koregaon, the British force of 774 men, of which at least half were Mahars, fought non-stop without food and water to defeat the Peshwa's army of 25,000 cavalry and 8,000 infantry. There is a great deal of research going on into this lost history of Dalit valour and martial spirit.


 Ref.: Marathi book  'Nagvawnshiyanno Tumch Asmita Geli Kuthe?' i.e. Erstwhile Nagawanshi— Mahar! Where did did your valour and martial spirit go? author Shriniwas Bhalerao has reveal what had actually happened in the incredible war, is as follows.:
 Ref : P-10 :----It was a great opportunity, ( though very difficult) came to Mahars to retaliate with Peshwas for their discrimination in every walk of life, by way of their (Peshva's) hypocrisy, selfishness, religion, god. Mahars were totally suffocated with harassment in Peshwa regime. Their pride was annihilated and consequently British who were fighting with Peshwa, co-incidentally brought opportunity to Mahars to retaliate with Peshwas . This fact cannot be ignored. British had started employing Mahars in their military in large number everywhere in Maharashtra. This is because of their martial and fighting qualities. They were dedicated, loyal and honest whosoever task assigned to them. On the contrary, in Peshwa reign, Mahars were so badly ill-treated that had no parallel example in the history of any place of the world and at any time. Some selfish people, vested interests used comment on this war that, what did Mahars achieve by fighting with their own country- men? So moot question is---- Can anybody enslave his own country-men? Can anybody molest his own country-men's women? Can anybody leave his or her own countrymen without food and water? Can anybody prohibit his own country-men brothers?  Can anybody observe untouchabilities with his own country -men brothers and sisters? If such kind of maltreatment meted out, then who the hell would become brothers and sisters in this country during Peshwa regime? On the contrary, the British had given good treatment justice, goodwill, enquired about personal, domestic difficulties, given homely treatment without caste discrimination. Having been so, there was no reason why had not the British liked by the Mahars?
 One British messengers all the way came from Poona and reached  HQ Shirur-Camp with an important messages and handed over Lieutenant Colonel Filsman. In this letter Colonel Barton stated that there was acute shortage of forces for security of Poona, hence he should send his armour with immediate effect. Filsman thought how to handle the situation. Which armed forces to be deployed?


 II Bajirao Peshwa was eager to capture Poona from British, for he had marched ahead with his huge army, reached 'Chakan' and stationed there to chalk out strategy. Yet British army with another squad under leadership of General Smith was chasing after Peshwa army from opposite end.


. Indeed, it was a crucial juncture and Herculean task before Filsman. There was a bad need of forces with proven outstanding qualities to get rid of enemy Peshwas having vast well equipped army or 25,000 to 30,000. After weighing/foreseeing situation of imminient do or die war, Filsman's mind flashed with an idea. He thought of the best option i.e. it was to deploy the most dedicated, determined, dare deviled and loyal battalion i.e. Bombay Infantry First Regiment's Second Battalion. This Battalion comprised of 500 Mahar soldiers, 250 Horseriders24 British officers and gunners having 205 small guns/Tof arms and ammunition. Caption Stanton was leader of the battalion. Caption Stanton ordered his battalion to attack enemy. It was a plan terrain of Bhima-Koregaon. As such, it was a direct fight, no guerrilla tactics. Peshwa's army comprised of 25000 soldiers, 5000 horse-riders, whereas British army was of mere 500 Mahar soldiers, 300 horse riders and 5 British officers. It was indeed do or die war for Mahars for retaliation, hence spirit was at their pinnacle height, there was no fear of death in Mahar soldiers. The fight last for one day and one night continuously. One soldier was fighting with 40 soldier of enemy Peshwa. Looking to grave situation of war, Captain Stanton ordered to surrender his army and declared themselves defeated. On knowing this, Mahar soldiers who were ceaselessly fighting with enemy, got furious at Caption Stanton and shouted, "Sir!, please do not think to go back at any rate, do not get afraid, this Mahar soldiers will fight till last breath. We shall not leave this war place till last enemy and till last bullet." Captain Stanton was pleased see so. He again freshly order to attacked the enemy i.e. last enemy and last bullet. Consequently, Mahar soldiers had inspiration and started fighting with double cheer. The Peshwa's army discouraged with this development. The war was continued whole night. Mahar soldiers were fighting as if death was afraid of them. In course of the war, Commander-in-Chief of Peshwa army Bapu Gokhale's son Govind Baba was killed and he got the news. He was totally discouraged. He cried and terribly shouted with pain by taking his son's dead body on his laps. He completely lost his mental balance. As such, he ordered his force to get back to Fulgaon where Bajirao Peshwa II was camped. Mahar soldiers chased the enemy till the enemy crossed the Bhima River. Thus British won the incredible battle.


It may be recalled about the Commander-in –Chief Bapu Gokhale. (Ref. : Maratha Jaga Hotoy. i.e. Maratha being awaken.(Latest Marathi Book) that to become Commander-in-Chief of the army, he was compelled to offer his tin-aged daughter to Bajirao Peshva for fortifying his physical lust.  It was so common in Peshwa regime that in order to achieve power, position, blessings one had to appease Peshva with something, especially offering of his young sisters, daughters and women irrespective of qualities to handle the position or power. Having been so, Commander-in-Chief of Peshwa's army Bapu Gokhale (Brahmin) was incompetent person as he had no basic qualities required for the post, because he had had this post not through his fighting qualities/skills; but through bribing or such other offerings for achieving blessings from the Peshwa king. In autocracy (king rule) king is like a lion and people (Praja) are like lambs. As such, lion has full liberty to eat any lamb. So, Peshwas were so merciless that they spread havoc over people and for their illegitimate acts, they used to authenticate their illegitimate acts into legitimate acts by way of their evil-cum-orthodox prone with lack of scientific approach, logic, cause and effect relationship, scriptures Ramayana, Mahabharata, Manusmruti, Vedas and other such vested interest scriptures. Other than Brahmins, had no mercy at all in their regime. Their philosophy based on superior Caste/Race which they used to make nonstop propaganda so as to enable them to authenticate on people's mind. Obviously, the propaganda were well adhered to their religious scriptures which were only for their benefit and so tactfully written by Brahmins only. But Brahmins do not accept that these scriptures were not written by them and their ancestors, but by god. It is utter false. "Repeat 99 times a lie, then at the 100th count, the lie becomes truth." So is this case.


If we see the history of Peshwa regime, we find Peshwas had snatched ready made kingdom of Shudra King Shivaji who had so labouriously built up by means of  his loyal people who all hail from Bahujan Samaj. Of course, Mahar community was among the military force of the King Shivaji. Peshwas are seen involved perennially in wine, women, all kind of luxuries, entertainment. They had princely life. They were excellent orators, expert manipulators for their selfishness. Basically they were timid. They could not bear physical onslaught, physically weak as they were indulged in luxurious life perennially. They were too much busy in worshipping gods, religious ceremonies, Yajna, Satyanarayan Pooja, receiving donation (dakshina) from people. They established fear of god in people's mind, spread blind beliefs in name of god. Thus they manage to stop thinking power of people. They admired their-selves and their community relentlessly and boosted like anything. Though it was not true at all they had full political power, being they (Peshwas) were rulers. But, basically they hailed from profession of receiving offerings (Dakshina) being Brahmins. So their attitude of receiving Dakshina had not changed, though they were rulers. Consequently, they did not bother quality of person while appointing responsible post, viz. Commander in Chief of armed forces post was offered to incompetent person Baapu Gokhale in lieu of offering his tin-aged daughter to Peshwa. They had huge army and were in apprehension that they wont be able to get defeated at any circumstance. So was their ego and over-confidence which ultimately attributed to their waterloo.


I would like to state an important incidence that had happened during 1934. Government had ordered to investigate about Nana Phadnavis's life. So, a delegation went to his house. A vital evidence's piece of paper was found, containing the list of women to whom Nana Phadnavis had extra-marital relationship. A delegate having pro-Peshva mind, had eaten and swallowed the paper. With this, the very important evidence was destroyed. Thus the curtain on evil deeds of Nana Phadnavis was closed for ever. There are such kinds of evidences available in Indian history, that BSO had either destroyed Bahujan's marvelous history or distorted in various spell of time, because authority of education was confined to Brahmins only for ages. So it was Brahmin to decide to whom to project better and to whom not, disregard with the fact. Brahmins were to decide, whether it is fact or not , of course it was vested interest oriented  So is the case of Bhima-Koregaon war during 1818 where Mahars martial spirit was not projected by BSO. So it is our Bahujan's duty to read the history of our marvelous ancestors and bring the same before people.


 Here I recall once again about golden chapter of Indian history and harmony of various communities including Muslims and Mahars at crucial war time with excellent and professional teamwork of Indian forces in war of Wadgaon that won against the British forces during 1779. That time Mahars were fought under the leadership of Mahadaji Shinde, against the British. Mahar soldiers had played key role and won the war against British. Indeed, it is seen in pre-independence history of India that whenever Mahars fought either in favour of British or Maratha the side was found won. i.e. At Wadgaon Maratha won and at Bhima-Koregaon British won. It was sure that without Mahar victory was not possible, so was the equation in those days. So was their martial, do or die spirit on war place, never think of leaving war place despite all odds, defying Commander-in-Chief during war at crucial junction by disobeying order to weapon down. There is no doubt that innumerable events, (which never came into light as BSO had suppressed their chapter of marvelous history, their loyalty for nation, though they were maltreated during Peshwa regime. Had Peshwas been treated them fraternally, harmoniously with justice, without paying heed to their evil scriptures (evil to Mahar and entire Bahujans in India), they (Peshvas) would have named respectfully, and perhaps, they would have remain invincible as against British forces. So I dare say that the evil scriptures made they egoist, overconfident, compel them making dissociation with fighting communities and association with worthless people by offering highly responsible posts which ultimately lead them to their own waterloo.


Ref. Special issue "Bharatiya Janata" (Marathi) on Bhima-Koregaon war, dated 1/1/2000:-- In decisive do or die war, 500 Mahars and 300 Arabs (mostly horse riders) including a few others made waterloo i.e. demolished Peshva's huge and 40 times well equipped army of 30,000 soldiers and with this, they annihilated Nazi Peshva's long standing ego by teaching lesson, "100 days are of goldsmith; but one day is of blacksmith" . Indeed! it is incredible, if any one just imagine as this was the fact not fictions like Ramayana and Mahabharata (the brain washing cock and bull stories far off from authenticity being prescribed not to be inquired about, simply shut the door of mind by keeping away from inquiry as these stories are regarded as divine and final thoughts imposed on  us by BSO). Dr. Ambedkar as a journalist-cum-rationalist, had questioned to astrologists in "Muk Nayak" that, did they all 500 Mahars belong to " Lion-zodiac sign (Raashi)" who had won the battle of Bhima-Koregaon war ?  Well, I would confidently say, "Certainly not". Rather, I would say, the man with his strong will, what he wants to be,  he achieves that position today or in future with his ceaseless struggle by defeating circumstances in way of his life, and not by wishes of hypocrite astrologers who impose their wishes over ignorant as well as elite (read matrimonial columns in every Sunday in Times of India, so-called elites asking for production of Horoscope details) people and fear them with evil  planets which are more than crores of mile from the earth, and nothing to do with man's life on the earth. Astrology is witchcraft of astrologers, as rightly stated by Periyar Ramaswami Naicker in his book "Periyar on astrology". Also in similar way it is stated by Wrengler R.P. Parajape, "So far, it has not been proved any effect on man's life by Horoscope/Astrology. There is no relation between movement of planets and life of man on the earth". Dr Ambedkar gave a rational thought, " As far as nature is concerned, man is free." This thought is too an eye-opener enough if any wise individual  thinks deeply, meaning of this line what Dr. Ambedkar meant to say.


During 1817 relation in between Peshvas an British were culminated badly. As such, Bajirao Peshva II and British had no option but to go for war. The British had requested battalion consisting of brave Mahar community at Mumbai, for help. Consequently, the battalion understood and foresaw the war was imminent. Having been so, the battalion Commander Shiknak with his foresight in welfare of his people, at that crucial juncture played very important diplomatic role. That is, he met Peshva at Shirur, and made his stand clear. He said to Peshva, “I and my battalion nevertheless interested to fight in favour of British. However, if our battalion fight against British (of course from your side), and won the British, what will be the position of our people in your kingdom and in army?” But the Peshva instead of accessing the alarming situation of the country i.e. his kingdom, he got furious and immediately told that whatever prescribed in "Manusmriti" would be applicable to you i.e. Shudras. Such was the mad decision of Peshva. I like to tell the people so-called today's "Patriots”, they must learn and see in their within that, are they not thinking on line of Peshva in actual in this age? This was the turning point that, Peshva was more interested in saving his "Manusmriti" than that of the nation i.e. his kingdom.

The commander Shiknak thought deeply and finally decided to vote for human rights which were denied to them under prescription of Varnashram Dharma of Manusmriti for ages. Eventually, this was the opportunity for retaliating although they were exceptionally small in numbers; yet their zeal for do or die was extreme in a hope for better and respectful life for them and for generations to come. That is, they decided to fight in favour of British. This was their prudent decision in their opinion. This decision was not merely against prevailing situation of mental slavery; but physical and financial also , i. e. for their very existence with self respect and teach lesson to the  Nazi Peshvas who had been ill-treating them in every sphere of life . They decided to opt hazard once than perennial fear of Peshvas at that crucial juncture. Famous Burke's quote is that a dispute can be resolved/settled by three ways i.e. 1) One party has to surrender to wishes of another. 2) By amicable solution (pact) 3) by war. (However exception is--Rule by Kindness. e.g.: Emperor Ashoka the Great). After having failed 2), the commander Shiknak had no option but to go for 3) i.e. war.  I feel necessary here to recall an interesting episode in foreign history. That is, in the history of negotiations for preventing the partition of Ireland, Redmond (majority's leader) said to Carson, "Ask for any safeguards you like for the Protestants minority, but let us have a United Ireland". Carson's (minority's leader) reply was, "Damn your safeguards we don't want to be ruled by you". In comparison to this, Nazi Peshvas (rulers) did not have even courtesy during nation's crisis like foresighted Redmond, though Shiknak (Mahar's leader) could not even think to say like Carson i.e. "Damn your safeguards, we don't want to be ruled by you". Simply, Shiknak had asked for a little i.e. humanitarian treatment and usual job with self-respect from Peshvas. As such, any individual can realise how Nazi Peshvas were allergic towards depressed class people which was attributed to Varnashram Dharma of Manusmriti. This kind of inhuman treatment (untouchability) has no parallel in history of any country at any period  (e.g.: 1) Depressed class people had to tie a broom at back side for auto cleaning the path on which they walked and earthen pot had to be hanged around neck for spitting. 2) During 1803, a famine was occurred in Peshvas Kindom, people starved and requested food grain stuff from kingdom's main food store, but the store was opened by Nazi Peshvas for Brahmins only and rests were left to die. Similar other countless incidences must have been there of which no record is available because education right was with the rulers- Brahmins as prescribed in Manusmriti. An eminent philosopher "Pascal" has rightly quoted, “Man has committed innumerable sins without any obstacle with support of religion than any other means. This is reality in history Therefore, Dr. Ambedkar used to say, " Poona is the locality of dacoits".


The Shudra King (as per prescription of Manusmriti) Shivaji established Free State with his skill and immense bravery with dedicated 12 different group of Shudras and others. One of the brave castes was Mahar. But, subsequently cunning Nazi Peshvas (Brahmins) were able to success in converting the free state of Shivaji into "Nazi Peshvai". Even at verge of fag end of Peshvas kingdom, the Mahars had intended to fight in favour of Peshvas though former were ill-treated and victimised by the latter. This was due to their immense loyalty to nation, ignoring the past for sake of freedom of nation, though the nation was Peshva's kingdom. But Nazi Peshvas were egoist and overconfident that they won’t be defeated and above all, preservation of Manu-Dharma was the supreme factor to them. As such, I opine that Peshva's Manusmiti and other Hindu holy scriptures prescribing Varnashram Dharma along with their (Peshvas) egos had caused their waterloo in Bhima-Koregaon war. This case is similar to a famous scientist Madam Mary Curie (radium woman) invented a metal "radium". Interestingly, radium itself caused her death subsequently, due to emission of dangerous alpha, beta and gamma rays with which she ought to live quite often for scientific experiments, and as such, ultimately radium spoiled her body. So was the case of Hindu scriptures and Brahmin Nazi Peshvas that they loved their poisonous scriptures which caused their waterloo ultimately. In light of this, indeed! I would say that those religious scriptures based on weak fundamentals will cause downfall of preachers/followers sooner or later, because people cannot be fooled all the times and all the ages. Furthermore, it is just like a building based on weak foundation causes its whole destruction. I would like to question to this generation people, the citizens of India that the Mahars had fought in favour of British was not a proud thing; but why such dilemma had occurred, which compelled Mahars to do so?, is a moot question which we all have to think deeply in order to build up strong nation for ages to come. As such, we Indian need the living philosophy which leads all of us to facts of life, perennial humanism and compassion without trogen horse (deception) in our middle and not the speculative philosophy which leads us to anything supernatural and the invisible (non-existing) legendary world  and ultimately to trogen horse (deception).

In memory of the great triumph British built up " Victory Tower” engraving names of our ancestors who lost their lives in this first ever battle for Human rights. It is a glaring fact in the history of mankind teaches that no society can rule over another society for ever, because latter would always remain in opportunity to retaliate on former, is inevitable. British Government engraved the victory note including names of our ancestors who had sacrificed their lives. Also in memory of the victory, the note engraved, is:"One of the proudest triumphs of British army in the east.”British came to India. They gave humanitarian treatment to depressed class people, inquired about their grievances with homely manner. As such, obviously the depressed class people had attracted towards British immensely. British used to visit this place 1st day of every year to pay tribute to the Victory Tower during initial years after this war. Dr. Ambedkar always thought why should not we visit this place and pay tribute to our brave ancestors? During 1926 British Government banned recruitment to depressed class in army and police along with dismissing existing people of depressed class on ground of economical condition. In view of this, next year i.e. during 1927 Dr. Ambedkar launched an agitation against the British government for this injustice by arranging a massive rally at this Victory Tower. Lacs of people assembled here from various destinations to participate in this massive rally. Dr. Ambedkar had made aware to British government of sacrifices of the ancestors who caused to lay foundation of British Empire in India. On the contrary, depressed class was getting bad treatment in reign of British. So, Dr. Ambedkar had appealed British government not to betray sacrifices of our ancestors. Since then, Bhima-Koregaon became a pilgrim place of depressed class people. Samata Sainik Dal (founded by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar) compulsorily used to visit and pay tribute to The Victory Tower every year.


British were outsiders, yet they built up this memorial " Victory Tower". But it is surprised to note that why so-called superior class do not keep such type of gentle heart and treat depressed class brother in humanitarian manner though they talk too much on patriotism relentlessly , but their action in social life is different. Adith Karwell stated, "  'Patriotism' means not mere love shown to map of the country; but love between man to man in fraternal sense irrespective of caste, creed, race and etc.". In light of this, I opine that superior class's patriotism is merely remembrance to neutral item i.e. "Map of India" rather than anything, as their real social life is quite different vis-à-vis depressed class people which attributed to "Manusmriti" and other Hindu scriptures...” I also visited and paid tribute to our miraculously brave ancestors on 1st day of this millennium year. I found people more than a lakh people had visited from different parts of India to celebrate New Year day by remembering our ancestors. My eyes became tearful on watching old guys were literally weeping at this place while paying their rich tribute. Such was the sentimental atmosphere prevailed there. I earnestly appeal to our reader, especially to youngsters that they must visit to this place on 1st January instead of indulging mad overnight show of Happy New Year. Our saviour and master Dr. B.R. Ambedkar used to visit this place without fail. Bhima-Koregaon is situated on the bank of Bhima River, 30 Kms. away from Poona towards Ahmednagar.


In conclusion, I like to state about an experience of, one of the patriots, Mr. Chaphekar who had experienced such kind of incidence in his life. He closely observed the social life in India that upper caste people unnecessarily hated depressed class people as latter did not take part in freedom of India. Rather, latter were interested in achieving their human rights and working for ancillary movements. According to Mr. Chaphekar, latter were not wrong, on their part vis-à-vis human right movement. He expressed regretfully, "If we Indian do not treat our depressed class brother equally, sympathetically as a human being, what is use of our endeavours to make India free?  For whom we are going to achieve independence?" Indeed! His statement in his autobiography is still today existing as a glaring reality in social life. The glaring reality in regretful words of Dr. Ambedkar. i.e. After having failed that Hinduism could not be revised, he stated , " Hitherto we were knowing that untouchability/ casteism  was stigma on Hinduism; but we have now confirmed that the stigma is not on Hinduism ; but the stigma is on our physical body , stamped by Hinduism." (Ref: - Ambedkar Ani Karl Marx: Author- Dr. Rao Saheb Kasbe.)
 
Bibliography: - 1) Marathi Journal "Bhartiya Janata". Shourya Din Special Issue dated 1/1/2000 at Bhima-Koregaon Pilgrim. 2) Marathi Book " Ambedkar Ani Karl Marx : Dr. Rao Saheb Kasbe. 3) Dr. Ambedkar's speech in the Constituent Assembly, while presenting the first draft of the Constitution of India, on 4th Nov. 1948. 4) Autobiography of Dr. D.R. Jatava. 5) Marathi book  'Nagvawnshiyanno Tumch Asmita Geli Kuthe?' i.e. Erstwhile Nagawanshi— Mahar! Where did did your valour and martial spirit go?, author Shriniwas Bhalerao 6) Times of India, dated 31/03/03, article under caption 'Dalit battles' an interview of Raja Sedhar Vundru, Editor of 'Dalit Millennium' with Rajesh Ramachandran on intentionally forgotten war of Bhima-Koregaon


JAI BHIM!
Penned by C.C.HADKE 

Posted on January 2, 2008

THE MAHAR REGIMENT AND ITS SUCCESS

Mangesh Dahiwale

This article was forwarded by Dr. Rahul and written by brother Mangesh Dahiwale, highlighting the significance of Bhima Koregaon. Dr Ambedkar used to visit the Bhima Koregaon (near Pune) every year to pay tributes to the soldiers of Mahar Regiment who defeated the Brahmin Peshawas. We should take inspirations from our history. Editor

On 1st January 1818, 500 men of the 2nd Battalion 1st Regiment of the Bombay Native Light Infantry along with 250 cavalrymen and 24 cannon defeated 20,000 horsemen and 8,000 foot soldiers of the Peshwa Army. This is famous as the Battle of Koregaon. To commemorate this victory, a pillar was constructed, which decorates the Mahar Regiment and its success.

The Battle of Koregaon is not the sole battle in which the untouchables fought, but in all the major battles they took part defeating the casteist and inhuman regimes. Thus playing a very important role in achieving the national unity under one political power. The bravery of the untouchable solders and their fighting spirit is well noted in the historical documents and needs no myths or invented stories to prove that they have been martial races. The strange policy of the British led to de-marginalization of these castes. Dr. Ambedkar when he became a member of Defence Advisory Committee made efforts to not only restore the glory of the past, but promoted recruitment of the untouchables.

In free India, it is very important for people from all castes and creeds to get involved in the national defence and military needs to be thoroughly secular. However the recent events have been telling a very pathetic story of involvement of the military personnel in terrorist activities, in stead of defending the people, they are becoming killers of their own citizens.

 The valiant activities of our forefather needs proper documentation. Babasaheb was planning to write a book on history of Army in India. He might have some noble intention in his mind as he never wrote what was not useful to people. It is a fascinating area in which our scholars should look into, some of them have already started and a few papes are available on the internet too.

The first Black regiment, 54th Massachusetts infantry, though they could not win the battle at Port Hudson, has become a symbol of Black power. They not only crushed the white arrogance, but also fought in the Civil war centering around Slavery. This battle took place May 13, 1863, and history noted that the prejudice still lingered on and whites sneered at the Blacks. Much has been written now on this aspect of Black history, even a full length movie, Glory, starring best actors of the Black community. We have a long way to go before we start showcasing our heroism which has not only a glorious history, but power to smash all the stereotyping of our community.

Let us vow to follow in the footsteps of our forefathers, to fight for self respect and humanity!!

Posted on January 1, 2008

Year 2008: The End of the Traditional Capitalism in Sight
*Sawraj Singh M.D. F.I.C.S.

             The year 2008 has clearly shown us that the traditional consumerist capitalism is facing the worst crisis since its inception. It has become obvious that mere reforms cannot save the system but a fundamental change is needed. America had become the undeclared leader of the traditional consumerist capitalism since Europe, the birthplace of capitalism, abandoned the traditional consumerist capitalism a long time ago. The present economic-only globalization that completely lacks any ethical aspect, was the final extension of the American consumerist capitalism. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, America became confident that its supremacy in the world was guaranteed, but the year 2008 has shown that the illusion of America’s final triumph was just a perception and not reality. The major events of the year 2008 are all pointing in the direction that not only are the days of America as the only superpower of the world numbered, but the traditional consumerist capitalism is on the verge of collapse.

            The global economic crisis: This is the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the thirties.  However, this crisis is much deeper than the Great Depression. The Great Depression was primarily a crisis of the American economy, but the present crisis is global and is the crisis of the traditional capitalist system itself. It raises questions whether the system has lost its relevance and has become outdated. Without a fundamental and radical change, there is no hope of coming out of this crisis. The old unipolar world will be replaced by a multipolar world and instead of the western domination of the last two centuries; Asia will become the leading region of the world.

Barack Obama ’s victory: Obama’s victory represents a willingness of America to consider a radical change. President Bush was a champion of the traditional consumerist capitalism. His utter failure has convinced many Americans that his rightist policies of sticking to traditional capitalism will neither work for America nor for the world because the time has come to basically change these policies. Obama was elected because many Americans feel that he is the one who can change these policies. Will Obama be able to bring the needed change? It is not easy to answer this question at this time. However, he was elected because people believe that he is capable of bringing the change. The future depends upon the American ruling class; whether they want a peaceful transition or want to put up a last fight before they accept the change.

            Beijing Olympics : The Beijing Olympics were very different than any other Olympics ever held. They sent a clear message that the era of western domination is over and the twenty-first century is “ Asia’s Century.” By winning more gold medals than America, the Chinese gave the world a clear message that China will shortly replace America as the most powerful country of the world.

            Russia ’s Rise: The year 2008 showed that whereas the American influence is declining in the world, the Russian influence has started rising. Russia’s quick victory in Georgia, Russia’s joint naval exercises with Venezuela, Russia’s growing relation with Iran, Russia’s installation of a new missile system close to the borders of Poland and the Czech Republic, Russian ships crossing the Panama Canal, and Russia’s revival of its alliance with Cuba all represent the rise of the Russian influence in the world.

            Maoists come to power in Nepal : Maoists created history by coming to power in the Hindu Kingdom of Nepal. This is the first time that the communists have come to power in a country by democratic means. The net result of this victory will be a relative gain of the Chinese influence in South Asia at the expense of the American and the Indian influence.

            Terrorist attack on Mumbai: The terrorist attack on Mumbai can play a very significant role in the shift of the balance of power in the world. If the American ruling class chooses to go for a third world war instead of a peaceful change, than it will encourage India to attack Pakistan. This conflict has the potential for escalation to a third world war that will be fought in Pakistan and Afghanistan. America, India, Israel, and the other western capitalist countries will be on one side and the Islamic world, Russia, China, and a majority of the third world countries on the other side. Unlike the first or second world war, the third world war will more than likely give the final blow to the old world capitalist system.

            Cuba remains Socialist: America was counting on Cuba reverting to capitalism with the departure of Fidel Castro. However, it has become clear that Cuba has chosen to remain socialist long after Fidel Castro is gone. Cuba has developed close relations with China and has revived its relations with Russia. Cuba remains the most vocal opponent of the American policies in South America. Cuba remains committed to oppose the western capitalist model of development.

            The year 2008 has shown that the days of the traditional consumerist capitalism and the western domination are numbered. The only thing that will be decided is that if the transition to a new system will be a peaceful change or will there be a third world war. A peaceful transition will be the best thing that can happen at this time. Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs, represents the highest evolved form of eastern philosophy and spirituality. It has a concept of an alternate model of development to the western capitalistic model of development. Guru Granth Sahib advocates a true global community based upon the principles of universal concern and universal well being as an alternative to the present capitalistic globalization that lacks any ethical perspective.

*Chairman, WashingtonState Network for Human Rights, Chairman, Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice

Posted on December 31, 2008

Afghanistan : America's Last Stand
Sawraj Singh M.D. F.I.C.S.*

There is an almost consensus in America that the Iraq war is lost. Afghanistan is the next and probably the last stop. If America meets a similar fate in Afghanistan , then the game is over. America is no longer the only superpower in the world and the world has become multipolar instead of the present unipolar world.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the days of America ’s reign as the only superpower of the world are numbered. Will America ’s fate be similar to the other superpower, the Soviet Union and will it receive the last fatal blow in Afghanistan as did the Soviet Union ? The answer to both these questions seems yes. It almost looks like a classic Greek tragedy that fate is taking America to Afghanistan in a big way.

            There seems to be a general consensus in America that the time has come to take a last stand against the Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan . President Karzai also looks like a character from a classic Greek tragedy. His name means “One who is under debt” in Punjabi. He is in a perpetual state of melancholy as if he knows his tragic end. He has cried a few times before the reporters.

            President Bush got a welcome with shoes in Iraq . Throwing shoes at someone is considered the ultimate humiliation. However, these shoes were not from just one reporter, but represented the prevailing feeling of the majority of Iraqis. The people of Iraq have given a clear message about how they feel about Bush and America . The journalist became an instant hero and thousands of people protested by burning the American flag. The message is clear that America is not welcome in Iraq and should leave as soon as possible. The Iraq war is lost.

            There is an almost consensus in America that the Iraq war is lost. Afghanistan is the next and probably the last stop. If America meets a similar fate in Afghanistan , then the game is over. America is no longer the only superpower in the world and the world has become multipolar instead of the present unipolar world.

            America wants all of its friends such as India , Israel , and the European countries to come to its help in the last stand. On one side will be America and all of its friends, and on the other side will be the Islamic fundamentalists supported by the majority of the Muslims of the world. No Islamic country can side with America in this confrontation .America has alienated all of the Islamic countries of the world.

            Is this war going to be a war between the Christians, Jews, and Hindus on one side and the Muslims on the other side? Absolutely not. The vast majority of the Christian countries of the third world will not support America . Russia, a Christian country, is very likely to support the other side. Nepal , the only Hindu country in the world ( India is a secular country according to the Indian constitution), will not support America or India against the Islamic countries.

            At this stage, the American defeat in Afghanistan looks as certain as turned out in Iraq . However, the role played by Russia and China can determine the pace of the defeat. Afghanistan is surrounded by Iran on the west and Pakistan on the east. If Russia supports Iran , and China supports Pakistan , then the American defeat in Afghanistan can be a quick defeat. However, if Russia and China decide to stay neutral, then the defeat can be very slow, taking several years. This is the only uncertain element in the equation.

*Chairman, Washington State Network for Human Rights & Chairman, Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice

Posted on December 23, 2008

BUDDHISM: BEYOND THE DALIT SHADOW

By Adv. Rahul Gade. LL.M, USA

FEW WORDS ABOUT ADV. RAHUL GADE

Mr. Rahul Gade, (LL.M., USA.) is a law professional from India. He has completed his law graduation from University of Mumbai where he studied in Siddharth Law College. This college was built by Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar with a vision to produce top quality lawyers dedicated to the Dalit empowerment. Mr. Rahul Gadeis proud that he studied there.

While studying in the USA for Masters of Law (LL.M), he met Mr. Michael Thevar, a Dalit entrepreneur and visionary who inspired him to join his cause to pay back to the community. Mr. Michael Thevar is the founder of Omni Development Relief Fund (ODRF), a non-profit organization in Philadelphia (USA) for which he volunteered. The ODRF team believes in creative human developmental processes that create more favorable conditions for entire reclamation of human personality and escapes different barriers.


Prem Chumber
Editor: Ambedkartimes.com


For more information about ODRF and Mr. Rahul Gade please visit the website below. http://odrfsangha.blogspot.com/

I intend to challenge the strongly held notions about Buddhists being considered as dalits. To identify oneself as Dalit Buddhist inevitably tends to distort the vision of Dr Ambedkar, who acknowledged the prominence of Buddhist philosophy not only to Dalits but also to the entire nation to cast away the ignominy of the Hindu Caste system. I personally believe that Dalit and Buddhist are not synonyms they are in fact antonyms since dalits are defined as spiritually broken people with low esteem while a practitioner Buddhist would at least be spiritually strong if not materialistically. Buddhist and Dalit can be related only in the sense that the former overcomes the later to reclaim the human personality. I do believe that Buddhism is the light that has cut across the darkness of dalits in India. Buddhism is spirit that has overcome the Dalit shadow. Buddhism is the hope for the broken Dalit. If the past has been Dalit the future has to be Buddhist, anything lower would be less than honoring full human potential.

"Dalit" is a resurgent word that has kept alive the struggle raised and fought by those who are deviously deprived from being treated as human. The word "Dalit' itself seems to be evoked in late 30's and connotes the large-scale dehumanization of a massive group of individuals for centuries by Hindu religious creed. The point is not about the etymology of word "Dalit" but what it stands for, and realistically speaking they are 'people belonging to lower castes, who under the Hindu code were obliged to live lives unworthiness from birth to death'. I don't intend to go into details since my point is not why they are Dalit? but why they stayed Dalit?

Two important aspects are revealed while analyzing the question why the marginalized people find it difficult to change the Dalit status quo and fully embrace Buddhism; those are economical conditions and political quagmire. Nevertheless, in my opinion the overreaching reason is that dalits have failed to understand Dr. Ambedkar's philosophy of, "to educate, to unite and to agitate". The Dalit intelligentsias in past and in present have yet to fulfill expectation of Dr Ambedkar. Elite and educated dalits, and Buddhists alike share responsibility for, failing to advance the soc-economic condition of the underprivileged dalits. At worst they have actually aggravated (or compounded) the situation by acting in ways, which in hind side will be judged as being for shortsighted political and economical gains.

So who are the spellbound dalits? In plain language it is that part of Dalit population that symbolizes the intellectual class, who finds it difficult to overcome the Dalit curse. These spellbound dalits as well as pro-Dalit intellectuals who propose to bring Hindu social reform are in fact trapped into the vicious circle of condoning the caste discrimination from within the caste system and being part and parcel of the Hindu system itself proved their efforts impotent. Dr. Ambedkar made it clear in no uncertain terms that "None should misunderstand the object of our movement as being Hindu social reform." However, it seems some elite Dalits in unwary upbeat mood perhaps for self-serving reasons, naively aim to reform the Hindu religion. This can only waste community strength and resources. It is unequivocally true that Dalit exists in the society and suffers daily caste humiliation; however I fail to see how the responsibility of intellectual dalits is served by supporting the fight against caste horror from within the caste system. I challenge them to understand that Dr. Ambedkar's action of conversion to Buddhism was the culmination of an intellectual and emotional integrity that they would do well to emulate. History shows that it's not worth our precious lifetime to indulge in sanitization of an established religion that proposes caste discrimination and implicitly practices it in the modern world. Dalit intellectuals should use the community strength and property to build a formidable (post Hindu) Buddhist Sangha to face challenges towards Dalit empowerment.

The principal legacy that Dr Ambedkar left for the betterment of dalits and the country as a whole is the renaissance of Buddhism. Dr. Ambedkar realized that mass conversion of dalits to Buddhism would be revolutionary for his followers. To follow the Buddhist doctrines and practice would not be easy for the converts: it differs from Hinduism and challenges its every aspect. The worst fear that Dr. Ambedkar contemplated and which today stands a true prophecy, that either the converted dalits may contaminate Buddhism by continuing to follow the Hindu deities and rituals, or may fail to understand the essence of Buddhism. To safeguard from this eventuality Dr. Ambedkar proclaimed the twenty-two vows that need to be strictly practiced integral to Buddhism.

Dr. Ambedkar as a father of his people built a bridge for the future of dalits to help them reclaim human dignity. The refusal to accept the dehumanized treatment integral to Hindu religion culminated in his embracing of the Buddhist religion and having dissociated himself from Hindu religion. To quote Dr. Ambedkar, "In every country the intellectual class is the most influential class" and therefore the Dalit intellectuals were trusted to carry forward the battle for reclamation of human personality. But today the beleaguered Dalit finds no solace in the midst of its own intellectual class due to inherently low self-esteem of its intelligentsia. Moreover, the Dalit intellectual's finds it hard to overcome the Dalit obsession that leads them to emphasis from every platform their forbidden Dalit identity. There is scant respect to the life intended for them by their savior Dr. Ambedkar, as embodied by Buddhism. Unfortunately, those Dalit intellectuals and Buddhists who have succeeded to overcome the Dalit spell have yielded to economic and political gains and failed to influence their brethren positively. No wonder that the young Dalit generation presently can find no influential role model even a distance closer than Dr. Ambedkar.

In the 21st century the growth and development of any community gains momentum from the consistent influx of dedication, and determination by those who work for community prosperity, which is both material and spiritual. The Dalit obsession has so far succeeded in hampering the potential of aspiring Dalit youth to meet the challenges of life. This is evident from the lack of eminent professionals in the educational field, successful businessmen's, and astute politicians. Even the freedom gained by conversion to Buddhism is in most cases if not all is impaired by the Dalit obsession. Dalit or Buddhist, no matter how successful he/she becomes will fail to achieve the zenith as long as he/she relates somewhere to the ghost of caste discrimination. It is essential to adhere to the twenty-two vows given by Dr. Ambedkar if we desire to defeat the Dalit obsession and come out of the Dalit shadow. Success in life and the betterment of self and community will follow. Having gone beyond the Dalit shadow, if we try to understand and follow the Buddhist doctrine we will be putting life into the legacy of Dr. Ambedkar's war cry:- be educated, be united and agitate.

In conclusion, a coherent Sangha of Buddhist practitioner with a social welfare outlook has the potential to be a savior of the nation- a far cry from languishing dalits lost in the midst of caste politics and pollution. WE SELF PROCLAIMED BUDDHISTS, since the DECLARATION OF our INDEPENDENCE from the Hindu religious slavery by the great leader DR. BABASAHEB AMBEDKAR, ON 14 OCTOBER, 1956 need to SOLEMNLY VOW to BE JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY RESPONSIBLE to OVERCOME THE GHOST OF CASTE DISCRIMINATION and move forward TOWARDS HOPE, and PROSPERITY along with our Dalit brethrens in converting to Buddhism uphold the legacy of our great leader who taught us that "WITH TRUTH ON OUR SIDE THERE IS NOTHING TO FEAR ABOUT". Sadhu!

Posted on December 20, 2008

WILL SOUTH ASIA BECOME THE ARENA FOR THE THIRD WORLD WAR?

Dr. Sawraj Singh M.D.F.I.C.S.

            There are some trends which seem to be emerging after the terrorist attacks on Mumbai.  The biggest trend is a close alliance between America and India .  The Congress party is gaining influence at the expense of the BJP.  America and India are mulling an attack on Pakistan as a part of the movement against terrorism.  One of the reasons for Obama’s victory was that he wants to withdraw the American forces from Iraq and fight a decisive battle against Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan and Afghanistan .  Bush was extremely unpopular in Europe , therefore in the event of an attack on Iran , as he advocated as a part of his “ Axis of Evil” theory, Europe would not have helped him.  However, Obama can expect help from Europe in the event that he starts a major war in Pakistan and Afghanistan .

            What can Pakistan do if it is attacked by India with the support of America ?  It can take two steps: the first, launch a nuclear attack on India .  The second, withdraw its forces from the border with Afghanistan , thereby giving a free hand to the Islamic fundamentalists to launch an attack on America .  The American intelligence agencies recently released a report stating that a biological or a nuclear attack on America is very likely and the attack can come from Pakistan .

            Some people may say that Pakistan ’s threat to use a nuclear bomb is an empty threat.  However, Nawaz Sharif, the former Prime minister of Pakistan , while releasing his book in London , said that General Musharraf had given orders to launch a nuclear attack on India and only a last minute intervention by him ( Prime minister) stopped the attack.  In the event of an attack by India and America , not only the Pakistan government can decide to withdraw its forces from the border with Afghanistan , but can actually form a united front with the Islamic fundamentalists.

            Another possibility can be that America attacks and destroys the nuclear facilities of Pakistan and then India launches a military attack on the ground.

            Ultimately it will depend upon China , if the conflict can escalate into a third world war.  If China decides to support Pakistan all the way, then it can give Pakistan nuclear and other heavy weapons which Pakistan will not hesitate to use.

            China has other options to inflict a very serious damage to America and to put tremendous pressure on India .  China can arm the Taliban in Afghanistan .  In such an event, the fate of the American and NATO forces will not be any different than the fate of the Soviet forces.  It was the defeat of the Soviet forces in Afghanistan which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union .  A major defeat for America and NATO in Afghanistan can have disastrous consequences for America and the West.  The Chinese support for Prince Norodom Sihanouk in Cambodia led to the American defeat in Cambodia and also hastened the American defeat in Vietnam .

            China can support the Maoists in Nepal in a big way that cannot only tilt the balance of power in Nepal ; but also through the Nepalese Maoists, China can support the Naxalites in India .  China can also support the separatist movements in India , particularly in the Northeast.  The combined rise of the Islamic fundamentalists, Naxalites, and the separatist movements in the Northeast can bog down India so that it will become very difficult for India to engage in a big war outside its borders.

            India should very seriously consider the long term consequences of a big war in South Asia .  In the long run, India has more to lose if the area becomes unstable because India is the leading power in the region.  India should first exhaust all diplomatic means to work with Pakistan to find an amicable solution to the problem.  In any event, India should consult Russia and China before agreeing to join America in launching an attack on Pakistan .

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on December 10, 2008

INDIA SHOULD REVIVE SECULARISM AND NON ALIGNMENT

Dr. Sawraj Singh M.D.F.I.C.S.

            In view of the increasing number of terrorist attacks, India should review its domestic and foreign policies. India is a multinational, multicultural, and multireligious country bound together by a common civilization and a shared value system. The underlying principle of unity in India has always been “Unity in Diversity.” Shri Guru Granth Sahib, the zenith of Indian philosophy, spirituality, and value system, has strongly advocated the principle of unity in diversity.

            The Indian concept of secularism is based upon the principles of tolerance and respect for different religions. This concept is different than the Western concept of secularism that primarily evolved from the conflict between the modern state and the church. Therefore, the Indian concept of secularism can be considered positive secularism that promotes harmony, unity, and peaceful coexistence; whereas the Western concept of secularism can be considered negative secularism because it has increased differences and sharpened contradictions between different religions, cultures, and nations.

            We can clearly see in India that the British deliberately promoted conflict between different groups of people who had been living peacefully together for many centuries. This phenomenon was called “Divide and Rule.” Ultimately, this policy led to the partition of India and the largest and worst interreligious conflict India has ever seen.

            In today’s world, the so-called “secular West” is pitted against Islam. Some people think that this is a conflict between Christianity and Islam. However, the conflict is not between these two major religions of the world, but is between the consumerist West and Islam. The Pope has repeatedly made it clear that there is no conflict between Christianity and Islam. The Christian countries of Latin America are coming closer to the Islamic third world countries and moving away from the Christian western countries.

            India’s policy of secularism and non-alignment was compatible with the fundamental principles of Indian philosophy and value system. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, India gradually moved away from its traditional non-alignment and started tilting towards the West. By aligning with the West, India has been drawn into an anti-Islamic alliance.

            The perception that India is pro-Western and anti-Islamic is the fundamental cause for the rise of religious fanaticism in India. The Islamic fundamentalists see India aligned with America and Israel, their main enemies. However, the rise of Islamic fanaticism promotes retaliatory Hindu fanaticism. This vicious cycle can only be broken by India reviving its secular and non-aligned policies. Countries such as Russia and China are now seen as neutral in the conflict between the West and Islam, and also represent true secular forces in the world. A trilateral alliance of Russia, China, and India can not only promote peace in the world, but can also increase stability and tranquility in India.

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com
Posted on December 09, 2008

BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTIONSTILL INSPIRES THE RUSSIANS
By Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S

The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution was probably one of the most important events of the modern history.  It not only shook up the Western imperialists in Europe and America , but also inspired many oppressed people in the World to liberate themselves from the clutches of the Western imperialism.  Ultimately this Revolution was responsible for the beginning of the decline of the Western domination of the World.

As the Western imperialism continued its decline, there was a renewed interest in Marxism and the other revolutionary movements.  Sales of the Das Capital, the classical work of Marx, have grown and have risen so much that the publishers in Germany are trying to catch up with the demand.

The present economic crisis of the Western imperialism and its established institutions has further increased interest in Marxism and other revolutionary philosophies.  This trend can also be seen in Russia where there is a visible interest in the history of Bolshevik revolution as well as a rise in the anti western sentiment.  

Thousands of young and old communists marched through the Red square to celebrate the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. An opinion survey showed that compared to 2005, 9% more people remember the Bolshevik revolution in Russia . Many people remember the Bolshevik revolution as the October revolution, even though it falls in November.  The reason for this is that Russia at that time had an old calendar and according to that calendar it was still October when the revolution started.

The Russian government is encouraging the Russians to be proud of their historical achievements.  Until 1991, Bolshevik revolution was the most important national holiday.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of pro western forces in Russia , the Russian government tried everything to suppress the revolutionary legacy of Russia and they wanted to toe the western imperialist line.

However, Putin changed the pro western trend in Russia .  Putin has promoted Russian nationalism. He declared November 4 as a national holiday.  After the Russian revolution, the Russian leaders could not properly address the issue of Russian Nationalism.  There was a tendency towards Russian National chauvinism.  Stalin tried to address the issue in his writing “Marxism and National Question”.  This was too little and too late.  The non Russian nations and Nationalities in the Soviet Union were mostly alienated from the system.  Ultimately the western imperialists exploited the contradictions between the people to bring the Soviet Union down.

In today’s environment the Russian nationalism can play a positive role in freeing the world from western imperialistic domination.  The memory of the great Bolshevik revolution can not only revive Russian nationalism but can also give hope to the other nations and people of the World that the days of the western imperialist domination are numbered and the world is moving towards a multi polar World.

Posted on November 26, 2008

THE AUDACITY OF HOPE

Shobhan Saxena

Courtesy: Times of India

Hope is a tricky word. It never guarantees anything, but it makes the world go round. Hope was the only possession of the skinny lad with dark skin and a funny name, starting with B, when he arrived in New York, wondering if America had a place for him, too. During his years at Columbia, as he majored in political science, the young man learnt a few important lessons from some American greats. Emerson taught him that “consistency is a virtue of an ass”. From Abe Lincoln, he learnt that freedom is worth dying for.

As he pored over history books, he became sad and angry. And he came out of the campus craving for Change — not just for himself but for his people who hadn't been free as long as he could remember. The name of this man was Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, and the year was 1913. Barack Obama came out of the same university with the same degree 70 years later, with the same mantra on his lips: Change.

As he gets ready to assume the most powerful office on this planet, a few sceptics are wondering if Obama is a product of the Black movement for civil rights. To be fair, he has never claimed that legacy. He is not the son of a descendant of those Africans who were abducted from their land and sold as slaves in the New World, where they shed sweat as whips lashed and bloodied their skin.

Obama might have avoided invoking names like Malcolm X in his stump speeches for practical reasons, but the blacks see him continuing the lineage of King, X & Company. But, they aren’t the only ones who look up to him; the Dalits of India, too, see Obama as a symbol of Black Power, a phenomenon they closely identify with. After all, America’s black movement has had a great influence on the Dalits’ fight for their rights.

So impressed was Ambedkar with Lincoln that when he launched a political party for Dalits, he called it the Republican Party of India — his tribute to Lincoln, the GOP leader who fought for ending slavery in the US. “Like Dalits in India, the blacks in US also faced discrimination in public transport, schools and jobs. When Ambedkar saw this, he could empathise with them and he supported their struggle,” says Chandrabhan Prasad, Dalit activist and writer. “Even after he came back to India, Ambedkar kept following the black movement in the US.”

The fifties were feverish — for blacks in the US and Dalits in India. Fired up by the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr, the blacks began to believe that being born in America didn't make them American. So, they began to fight for their rights. In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery. In 1956, King began to walk for the freedom of his people. In 1963, more than 200,000 people joined King’s March on Washington and listened to his “ I Have a Dream” speech with tears in their eyes. In India, Ambedkar closely followed the King’s moves and led more than 500,000 Dalits to take refuge in Buddhism in 1956.

During the next couple of decades, the blacks and the Dalits moved on parallel tracks, often influencing and guiding each other. As Dalits veered towards Buddhism, many blacks moved to Islam or erected their own churches; the word Negro — a symbol of slavery — was replaced by Black. The Dalits too dumped the term Harijan “as a symbol of Gandhi's upper caste politics”. As Dalits got some benefits of reservation, black Americans too fought for affirmative action and got it in 1965. In 1970, when Dalit Panther was founded by Namdev Dhassal, it was inspired by Black Panthers.

“Because both the communities see themselves as oppressed, there has always been mutual identification and influence between the blacks and Dalits,” says Gail Omvedt, an American scholar who has spent decades in India, researching the caste system.

Although race and caste are not the same thing, in practice they are very similar — both discriminate on the basis of birth. This week, as politics went beyond race in the US, triggering a wave of hope across the world, the obvious question being asked is: “Will India get its Obama anytime in the near future?” Though Omvedt feels UP chief minister Mayawati could be the one, K P Singh, who teaches sociology at University of Washington, Seattle, is not so hopeful.

“I think the Dalit leaders in India are not capable of doing this because they believe in political slavery to their respective parties, not the community. Most Dalit leaders except Ambedkar have betrayed the Dalits. Currently, all political leaders are busy fulfilling their ambitions and achieving their personal growth, but the Dalit community as a whole is left behind unrepresented and unheard,” says Singh, who is one of the young and educated Dalits trying to link and inspire the Dalit movement with the Afro-American movement.

The inspiration has always been there. Now, thanks to Obama’s campaign and victory, there is a buzz about India’s next leader. “I don't think that the Indian elite is going to put a Dalit at the top just like that, but they will be under a moral pressure to do so, particularly when the Dalits are all fired up with Obama’s ‘yes we can’ slogan,” says Prasad.

Going by the parallel trajectory of the two movements, it shouldn’t be surprising if India, too, launches a leader like Obama. “He did not project himself as a product of the black movement, but the people, particularly the African-Americans, saw him that way. That’s important,” says Omvedt. With a wide range of leaders claiming to be true inheritors of Ambedkar’s legacy, the competition may be tough, but the Obama victory has done them a great favour: it has destroyed a myth and shattered a barrier between them and the future.

As far as the Indian elite are concerned, they seem to be more comfortable with the status quo. “When the whole world was celebrating the change in the US, our leaders, led by the Gandhi family, were busy partying at the coronation of a king in the last kingdom of South Asia,” says a Dalit leader of the Congress.

The Dalits seem to be following Malcolm X’s words that “the future belongs to those who prepare for it today”. And now, with the great hope generated by Obama, the answer may be already blowing in the wind. It may just be a hope, but it will keep the Dalits going till they find their own Obama.

Posted on November 26, 2008

DR. SUKHDEV SINGH
RETIRED V.C. OF PAU PASSED AWAY


Dr. Onkar Singh Bindra*

Dr. Sukhdev Singh, who served the Punjab Agriculture University as its Vice-Chancellor, passed away on November 23, 2008 at his Kitchlew Nagar home in Ludhiana. He was born on Nov. 1, 1919 , in a farming family of village Dumna of Ropar district, Punjab. He had a firm grip over the problems of the farming community and endeavored for its uplift. Through his dedicated work he played a major role in the development of agriculture and has left an indelible mark in the history of agricultural development in India. 

After obtaining a B.Sc. (Agriculture) degree from the Punjab Agriculture College, Lyallpur, he started as a Research Assistant in Agriculture Department of Punjab in 1941. He soon became Assistant Agronomist (Sugarcane) and then Economic Botanist (Sugarcane) from 1959 to 1966. His work led to the development of sugarcane varieties COJ 64 and COJ 1148, which occupied more than 80% of the total area under sugarcane in the Punjab.  COJ 64 had the highest yield level and sugar recovery in Northern India.

He earned his PhD from Louisiana State University, USA in 1966. After serving briefly as Professor and Head, Department of Plant Breeding of PAU and served as PAU’S Director of Research (1967-1974). He served the Indian Council of Agriculture Research in New Delhi as Deputy Director-General (Crop Science) from 1974 to 1979.  During this period, he also served on the Board of Directors of the International Rice Research Institute in Manila, Philippines.  He served as Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, Jabalpur (MP) for 2.5 years before coming back in 1981 to his home State as Vice-Chancellor of the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, where he served until retirement in 1990. During his Vice-chancellorship of PAU, he served on the Board of Directors of National Seeds Corporation, State Farms Corporation and International Rice Research Institute, Manila . 

As Vice-Chancellor of PAU, he brought significant improvement: replacement of trimester system with semester system, introduction of several job-oriented courses, and encouragement of horsemanship by establishing a unit of Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC), and providing maximum facilities for student activities.  He initiated a number of research projects of national and international importance and encouraged the scientists to excel. He advocated the doctrine of Aql Nal Wah Te Raj ke khah (plough wisely to have plenty) and promoted the farming literature among farmers. He added a number of new buildings in PAU, including a faculty club/guest house, filling a long-felt need.

Dr. Sukhdev Singh served as President of the Association of Indian Agricultural Universities, as President of Association of Indian Universities, and as member of the Executive Committee of Association of Commonwealth Universities, and represented Indian agricultural scientists in 23 countries. He was soft spoken; cool headed, very accommodating, and God fearing. He always supported all genuine demands and strived for the welfare of Punjab farmers. This great son of the Punjab will be missed by a lot of people.

Posted on November 25, 2008
=====================
Dr. Onkar Singh Bindra*, Ph.D. (U.C. Berkeley)
Formerly Head of Entomology Dept., Punjab Agriculture Univ., Ludhiana, India; Retd Entomologist, Food & Agric. Organization of United Nations;
Ex-Board Member, Renaissance Society, Calif. State Univ., Sacramento; Trustee Sikh Temple, Sacramento. Ph. (916) 858-2650

TRIBUTE TO DR. SUKHDEV SINGH
RETIRED V.C. OF PUNJAB AGRICULTURE UNIVERSITY LUDHIANA

By: C.L.CHUMBER@GMAIL.COM

"Dr. Sukhdev Singh Ji belonged to the same village Dumna District Ropar ( Punjab ) which produced late s. Baldev Singh Ji first ever defence minister of independent India and S. Ravi Inder Singh, ex speaker, the Punjab legislative assembly who is now the president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (1920 AD). Sahib Kanshi Ram projected S. Ravi Inder Singh as the BSP candidate for the chief minister ship in the Punjab assembly election 2002 AD.

Dr. Sukhdev Singh took charge as the first ever vice- chancellor of the Punjab agriculture university in Ludhiana, Punjab, India on 6th November, 1976. During the emergency days, he was removed from the post after 24 days. He again took charge as vice- chancellor 22nd November, 1981 till his retirement in 1989 AD.

when we planned to publish the first ever souvenir on Gadhrite Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia, founder of the Adi Dharam Mandal on his 99th birth anniversary on 14th January, 1985, we requested him to send us a message for the souvenir. We were very happy to receive his message which was as below: -” This is the original message from Dr. Sukhdev Singh which was sent on December 19 th, 1984.

Dr. Sukhdev Singh
Vice Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana

Contact: Office: 32794, Resi: 32795, Gram: AGRIVARSITY, D.O. No. VC/84/51A/5394 ( 19 th Dec, 1984 )

Message

Dear C. L. Chumber,

“I am glad to know that the Ad-Dharam Mandal is celebrating the 99 th Birth Anniversary of its founder Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia which falls on 14 th Jan, 1985 . Late Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia had a singular contribution in upbringing the down-trodden people which constitute 25 percent of total population of India , through his philosophy of creating a casteless society. This is the basic requirement for establishing a Secular India where the ‘Humanitarianism’ should flourish which is preached by every religion whether in East or West.

I am certain that with continued and dedicated efforts of the Ad-Dharam Mandal, the mission of Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia will soar to great height”.

Sd-
(SUKHDEV SINGH)
Vice Chancellor
Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana
 

Dr. Sukhdev Singh had a very deep knowledge of the Indian social revolutionaries! Dr. Manjit Singh Kang , vice-chancellor , the Punjab Agriculture University Ludhiana , Dr. Sardara Singh Johal , ex vice chancellor , the Punjabi University Patiala and professor Gurbhajan Singh Gill in their condolence messages described this loss irreparable .

Dr. Sukhdev Singh Ji will be remembered forever for his contributions for the agriculture progress in India . We salute the departed soul and commit to follow his path of honesty and dedication towards the human beings. We will not let him die in our memories!

Posted on November 25, 2008 

AMERICA NEEDS A FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE

By Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S
Dr. Sawraj Singh is a prominent writer throughout the international news papers and headlines. He is also the Chairman of Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. Ambedkartime.com is pleased to publish some of Dr. Sawraj Singh's articles. : Editor

Senator Obama has created history by becoming the first non white President of America. He has to now bring fundamental change in the American domestic and foreign policies. Health care and education should have equal access to all. Europe and the rest of the World have high hopes from Obama to change the American foreign policy.

America has created history by electing the first non white and the first black as the president. Barack Obama personifies multiculturalism. America has finally accepted its multicultural reality. However, the main reason Obama is elected president is the America’s desire for change. He got the votes of the majority of the youth, the minorities and the women, the segments of the society who want change. The deep economic crisis has forced the people to look for the change. However, to come out of the present crisis, America needs a fundamental change from its present consumerist capitalism.

There are four different types of capitalist systems in the World;

  • American consumerist capitalism
  • European utilitarian capitalism
  • Indian bureaucratic capitalism
  • Chinese socialist controlled capitalism

If we compare the trends in these countries, one fact becomes obvious that the degree of social awareness determines the degree of efficiency of the system.

Compared to the European utilitarian capitalism that is based upon the concept of a social welfare state, the American consumerist capitalism has proved far less efficient. American economic crisis is much deeper than that of Europe. Europe is also managing the crisis much better than America.

Compared to the Indian bureaucratic capitalism, which is a legacy of the British colonialism, the Chinese socialist controlled capitalism has worked much better for the majority of the population. When I talk about efficiency of the system, I mean how the system has worked for the majority of the population.

The American and the Indian systems have not worked well for the majority of the population. They have polarized the society. They have widened the gap between the haves and have nots. The upper strata of the societies have benefited at the expense of the bottom majorities.

India has the fastest growing number of billionaires yet a growing number of people are being deprived from the most basic necessities of life. Forty percent of the children are living in poverty and are under nourished while the real estate in the Indian cities is skyrocketing yet millions are joining the ranks of the homeless.

Compared to Europe, America has been unable to provide the basic requirements such as health care and education for a very large section of the population. More than 45 million Americans have no health care coverage and many more have inadequate coverage. Whereas, the college and post graduate education is free in most of Europe, more than 90% of the American college and post graduate students have to take loans to pay for their education.

The American foreign policy has been based upon arrogance and going alone rather than consulting with the allies and the World community. America is being perceived as a stubborn policeman of the World.

The Chinese have been able to lift the basic standard of living for the majority of their population, particularly after 1978. By 2020, the vast majority of the Chinese population will have a standard of living comparable to the developed countries. By 2049, China will become a complete social welfare rate.

Senator Obama has created history by becoming the first non white President of America. He has to now bring fundamental change in the American domestic and foreign policies. Health care and education should have equal access to all. Europe and the rest of the World have high hopes from Obama to change the American foreign policy. He should reassure Europe and the rest of the World that he is not going to ignore them while making decisions which affect the rest of the World. It is high time that America abandons the consumerist capitalism and accepts the concept of a Welfare state.

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on November 24, 2008

CHRISTIAN RALLY DEMANDS JUSTICE, SECURITY

A
press
statement
released on

November 20,
2008 to the Media

by

Dr. John Dayal

Chamdigarh:- Thousands fear they may havd to usher in a second Christmas as refugees in Orissa forests Christians of Chandigarh and surrounding districts of Punjab and Haryana rallied in their thousands in the “City Beautiful” on Thursday demanding security and justice for their community in Orissa and Karnataka, the worst hit in the fundamentalist violence through several months of the year 2008.

“Over 50,000 Christian men, women and children of Kandhamal fear they will celebrate Christmas 2008 as refugees hiding for their lives in the forests of Kandhamal district in Orissa, in ill-kept refugee camps in the state or as internally displaced persons seeking safety and a livelihood in various cities of the country. They remain hounded by memories of Christmas 2007 which 1,000 of them spent in the forests after the first attacks,” speakers including National Integration Council member Dr. John Dayal, All India Christian Council National Secretary Dr. Sam Paul and Chandigarh-Simla Catholic diocese administrator Fr Thomas told the rally.

The Christian march and mass rally addressed a Memorandum to the President of India through the Governors of Punjab and Haryana and the Chief Administrator of the Union Territory of Chandigarh. The Memorandum cautioned that while the situation was comparatively peaceful in these the two states and the Union territory, reports had started coming in of communal gangs terrorizing Home Churches and small congregations in small towns.

The situation in Orissa, Karnataka Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh, however, continued to be terrible despite assurances by Central and state governments. In Orissa and other states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata party, the police forces and the subordinate criminal justice apparatus had been heavily infiltrated by the communal ideology of the Sangh Parivar. The result was that the police was a mute bystander and often an active participant in attacks on Christian houses of worship and gatherings, and assaults on priests. This state of impunity must end There also have been many cases of sexual violence. Cases were often not registered, and tragically, it was the victim Christians who ended up facing the wrath of the government. A hate campaign continues unabated in the media and on the streets, targeting Christians and their faith, questioning their patriotism and stigmatizing their religious personnel.

The Memorandum quoted figures compiled by the All India Christian Council: the states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttaranchal have been severely affected. In Orissa, over 4,500 houses have been burnt and 300 villages purged of all Christians in the worst case of “ethnic cleansing” in Independent India. Over 50,000 are homeless, ten thousand of them in government
camps. We have the names of Sixty dead and close to Ninety men are still reported missing and may be dead in the forest. Independent probes have spoken of clandestine disposal of bodies. School children are without education, babies without infant food, and families without warm clothes in the cold hill tract.

The government must immediately crack down on hate campaigns and ensure justice. The Anti Communal Violence Bill, which was initially rejected by civil society because it was lopsided, must be immediately revised and brought into force, by an Ordinance if necessary after consulting all minority communities, the Memorandum said.

The Centre must use Constitutional provisions to ensure that State governments implement guarantees of freedom of faith and protection of the homes, places of worship, and livelihood the religious minorities. At present, criminal gangs are roaming free. Central forces that have been sent to Orissa, for instance, have not been able to rescue those in the forests for want of effective coordination with the state machinery.

There is also little justice in the relief, rehabilitation and compensation procedures. The victims of Orissa have been given a pittance. Even the victims of December 2007 violence have not been able to build their houses. Churches, burnt down by communal forces, must be rebuilt at State expense. The governments and the aggressors cannot evade their culpability and responsibility. The Church cannot continue to rebuild places of worship only to see them demolished and burnt by criminal gangs of a particular ideology, the Memorandum said.

The rally also affirmed the demand by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, the National Council of Churches in India and the All India Christian Council that the Central Bureau of Investigation probe major cases, including that of the rape of a Catholic Nun in Kandhamal in August 2008.

Justice to the Christian community cannot be complete without accepting the just demands of the Dalit Christians for Scheduled Caste Status at par with their brethren in the Sikh, Buddhist and Hindu faiths, the Memorandum said. The sixty year old struggle for a fair deal, supported by several National Commissions, appeals to the basic tenets of Equality and Affirmative Action enshrined in the Constitution of India, the Memorandum added.

Posted on November 21, 2008

Obama and Mayawati: a Comparison in Contrast
S. R. Darapuri

It will be apt to mention in the beginning that a comparison between Obama and Mayawati is not very appropriate because there is a world of difference between their personalities and deeds. But some over enthusiastic followers of Mayawati have started comparing them and are spreading the dictum that "if Obama can do it why cannot she?" They have started projecting her as the future Prime Minister of India. As such it becomes necessary to make an attempt to make a comparison between Obama and Mayawati.

The first point of comparison between Obama and Mayawati is their social background. Obama is an African-American. His father was black and his mother was white. Mayawati's both parents are dalits. But it is pertinent to note that during his electioneering he nowhere used his black identity to influence his voters. Throughout his election campaign he spoke about his policies and plans whereas in the case of Mayawati she has never spoken about her policies and plans. On the other hand her dalit identity is the starting point of her politics for emotional exploitation of dalits.

The second point of comparison between Obama and Mayawati is their ability to mobilize fund for the party. Obama through small contributions raised a party fund to the tune of $650 millions but he deposited it in the party fund account and used it for electioneering. Mayawati also raised her property to the tune of Rs. 520 millions up to 2007 and further added Rs. 600 millions during 2007-08. But she did not deposit this amount in party fund account. Rather she deposited it in her personal and her family member's accounts. There are also allegations of selling MLA's and MP's tickets at election time at competitive rates. It is worth mentioning that CBI has already prepared a charge sheet against her for amassing personal property worth Rs. 300 millions beyond her known sources of income.

The third point of comparison between Obama and Mayawati concerns their policies and plans. As we know Obama fought the election on the plank of "Need of change for America" and has won it with this promise. He has promised to take America out of financial crises and reduce unemployment. AS regards Mayawti she has never made any promise to solve any public problem. In fact she does not have any such plan or program to solve the public problems like poverty, unemployment, lack of health infrastructure, drinking water, housing and illiteracy etc.

The fourth point of comparison between Obama and Mayawati is their pursuit of political power. Obama has been elected as the most powerful President of the oldest democracy of the world. Mayawati has also been elected for the fourth time as the Chief Minister of the most populous state (Uttar Pardesh) of India. Obama has promised to use the political power for solving the problems facing the U.S. people whereas Mayawati has been accused of using it for self aggrandizement. Dr. Ambedkar had remarked that political power should be used for social progress. But Mayawati lacks such inclination even in the case of dalits who are her prime constituency. As a result of it the dalits of U.P. continue to be behind the dalits of all other states of India except that of Bihar and Orissa. In spite of her occupying the Chief Ministership for the fourth time U.P. continues to suffer from under industrialization and over all backwardness. As such she can be held responsible for the backwardness of U.P. as well as that of U.P.dalits to a good extent. According to one study U.P. has suffered regression during the last decade. It is noticeable that Mayawati has been in power since 1995 with some breaks in between.

The next point of comparison between Obama and Mayawati can be in respect of psychological impact of their victory on their voters. In case of Obama his victory has exhilarated Blacks, Minorities and Whites also to good extent. In case of Mayawati dalits excluding intellectual section thereof and muscleman and moneyed men of higher castes are only exhilarated because the latter are especially the main beneficiaries of her position. Dalits have only the psychological satisfaction of having a Chief Minister of their own caste. They are totally deprived of all the material gains of power on account of corrupt and inefficient administration being run by Mayawati. Minorities, mainly the Muslims are highly skeptical about Mayawati because in her pursuit of political power she can make alliance with their staunch opponent and a communal party like B.J.P. as she had done thrice in the past.

From a brief comparison between Obama and Mayawati it becomes evident that it is not very appropriate because there is a world of difference between their personalities and deeds. Rather it can be said to be a comparison in contrast. Even then if admirers of Mayawati are so anxious to make a comparison they should look for qualities like a vision, an urge for change, impeccable integrity and inclination to use political power for social progresses as exemplified in Obama. They must display mental honesty and proper courage to criticize her for her personal greed to amass wealth, lack of vision and unprincipled pursuit of power. She may also be dissuaded from wasting public money in creating memorials and installing her own statues in an effort to immortalize her. People are immortalized by their noble deeds and not by their statue. Obama is to be judged in the near future but Mayawati has already been judged.

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on November 17, 2008

Arms for Scheduled Caste People
By Late I.D. Pawar, Distt. & Session Judge (Retd.)

Atrocities on the weaker sections of the nation have become an integral part of the broad-based discriminatory scheme of the Hindu social order. The source of this gruesome victimization of Scheduled Castes can easily be traced to the Hindu Shastras, and there can hardly be two opinions about it.

Not a day passes when we do not experience or hear about blood-curdling and heart-rending brutalities being committed by the Hindus on the Scheduled Castes all over the country. Shameless molestation of innocent girls and women, mindless roasting alive, and gunning down of men and women, young and old, setting fire to their houses and razing them to the ground, and their social boycott, on flimsy excuses, have become the order of the day. Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat, to name only a few states, are notorious for perpetrating the most heinous and inhuman crimes on the defenseless people. It is an atrocious sin against humanity. Administrations of the concerned states have, wittingly and sometimes unwittingly failed woefully to stem the tide of violence. And bring the beastly criminals guilty of the offences to book. It is clear that the attitude of state governments towards the Scheduled Castes is. To say the least, lukewarm if not hostile. The only hope, even though a dim one, that still lurks lies with the Centre but the Centre must possess sufficient powers to bridle the states. Experience has shown beyond any doubt that for the safety and progress of the Scheduled Castes and other minorities two things are a must: one, parliamentary system of government based on universal and adult suffrage ; two, strong Centre. State governments should not be allowed a free hand in dealing with the affairs of the Scheduled Castes according to their own whims. They are generally swayed by narrow considerations of caste, parochialism and vested interests. The administration at the Centre Is expected to be capable of taking a fair view of the matter.

The society to which we have the misfortune to belong presents a strange phenomenon. It is like a vast expanse of a tangled jungle infested with ferocious beasts, devils and vam­pires. Reason and human considerations are an anathema to this social system. Atrocities on Scheduled Castes are committed not because they are poor but because of caste arrogance deep-rooted prejudices against them. Here is a society where the law of the jungle reigns supreme. How long can parsons even with a semblance of self-respect keep clinging to the apron strings of inhumanity prevailing in this jumble of people is awfully suffocating.

In view of such alarming happenings in the country the question of supply of arms to the suffering Scheduled Caste people assumes great importance. This question has been the Subject of discussion and controversy both in Parliament and in the public so far the opinion against the proposal, however, seems to have had an upper hand for reasons which cannot stand the test of impartial scrutiny. Providing arms to the Scheduled Castes who are empty-handed and defenseless against Caste aggression is the real and effective measure a putting new life into them and affording them the direly needed protection. At the same time this will act as a strong deterrent to the head-strong and confirmed aggressors. Denial of arm for self-defence would be I tantamount to denying them the right of self-preservation which is everybody's birth right.

The apprehension that the arms supplied to the Schedule Castes are eventually I likely to pass into the hands of the.' anti-social and undesirable elements and that it will also' aggravate caste tensions, stems from the fear which is more imaginary than real. This is a wrong thinking. The victims of caste arrogance will rather worship the weapons as their protectors and saviors. As stated above these weapons will serve as deterrent to the potential evil minded elements and thus help!' contain caste tensions. The criminals get emboldened when they find their victims helpless and defenseless. They will think I hundred times before embarking on their reckless adventures if they know they would be paid in the same coin.

It is further argued that giving protection to the scheduled castes is the duty of the government. This plea is nothing more than a cruel joke. It is common knowledge that the police which is expected, rather duty bound to protect and safeguard the honour and lives of these people, consists of non scheduled caste animus. Again the police make its appearance on the scene of the crime only after the ghastly drama has already been enacted and the miscreants had made good their escape at their sweet leisure. The only function of the police seems to be to remove the dead bodies of the victims of the caste ridden zealots and send them to the mortuaries for post-mortem Examination. It should also be remembered that it is not always possible to have prior information of the impending crime, not to mention the indifference of the police. How then to protect these people?

The main function of 1he concerned administration also seems to be to proclaim loudly that "the government is fully determined to maintain law and order at all costs", adding that "the situation is well under control". These ceremonial declar­ations are faithfully repeated every time an aggression takes place. Evidently it is, in the main, a hollow and meaningless exercise meant to hoodwink the public.

The faint suggestion of disarming the known and unknown or potential anti-Scheduled Caste elements is neither practicable nor purposeful, because a hue and cry is sure to be raised by the power hungry leaders of all hues to foil the attempt as they consider the criminal segments of society as their vote-banks. It is an open secret that a sizeable number of these leaders including many in the administration are hand-in-glove with the anti­social elements. Even if it be assumed for a moment that the licensed and some of the unlicensed arms can be withdrawn, it will be of no material consequence as illegal country-made arms of all sorts are easily available and in any number. Even smuggled arms are not difficult to obtain.

Keeping all the aspects of the problem in view, the result-oriented remedy that can with real advantage be applied to counter the terrible humiliations and brutalities to which the Scheduled Castes are being subjected. Is to. Equip them with necessary arms and also to give them training in the handling and use of these weapons, this is the way haw the demoralizing and dehumanizing lamb and-Wolf relationship between the untouchables and the Hindus can be extirpated. In the absence of such measures the one way traffic in butchery of the innocent and hapless people is bound to continue to the great shame of civilized people.

The adds are really heavy. On the one hand are deprived and disinherited people who are completely empty handed, while on the other are organized gangs of hardened and notorious criminals armed to the teeth with all kinds of deadly weapons, aided and abetted by big guns wielding influence. Ignoring or side-tracking the burning issue that is crying for solution is not only unjust and unwise but is full of potential dangers as it is bound to boomerang one day, and that day may not be far away.

Courtesy: The Discovery of Identity by Mr. C. L. Chumber

Posted on November 02, 2008

Khairlanji Massacre:
Charter of Demands from the Citizens 

The Khairlanji Massacre of 2006 brought out ugly facts of the caste based discrimination and violence. During the trial the caste angle was brought into the notice of the Honourable Judge. The Khairlanji massacre is the straightforward and clear case of caste atrocity. There are special provisions under the Prevention of Atrocities Act. This act is not supposed to act as a safeguard but enforces the constitutional mandate abolition of untouchability. Four members of the Bhotmange Family were brutally killed, but what happened before the killings will even put the barbarians in shame. It was the maniac mob that stripped the women naked and paraded them. Though the honourable court has ruled out the molestation of women, the simple fact that the bodies were found naked should be enough to attract the provisions of outraging the modesty of mother and her only daughter.

Priyanka, the brightest child, had a dream to live a better world and her dream was shattered by the caste minded people. The murder of the family by the mob is not just a murder, but it is plot masterminded and preplanned. The fact that the murders did not take place due to forced circumstances, but by the preplanning should be suffice enough to show that there was some underlying intention. The underlying intention became obvious when the perpetrators heaped caste abuse when the most horrific incidence that sent shock waves throughout India and the world.
 
What followed after the incidence is a classic case of defunct Police administration, corrupt politicians & government officials colluding together and utter silence of the media in the beginning. The justice machine moved only when the activists and civil society responded. The media not only intervened positively afterwards, but the debates and discussion on the atrocities and caste discrimination began on the national level. This is a very positive development and the highest official, the Prime Minister, acknowledged the fact of the hidden apartheid in India.  

And what was done by the civil right activists, media and conscious citizens of India was undone by the Judicial inactivism. The Khairlanji Massacre case should not only have made Judiciary more active, but also proactive role in safegurading the rights of the discriminated communities in India. The Parliament have made laws to protect the discriminated communities and the Judiciary is unmaking those laws.
The common citizens of India have right not only to condemn the laws which takes away their human rights, which are the foundation of our country, but they have also right to defend the rights that are flowing from the Constitution of India. In India, the constitution is supreme and the Judiciary must act in accordance with the law of the land.  


We, the undersigned members of Indian Republic, are outraged to learn that caste Hindus, through their predecessors in interest in power, played a role in perpetuating enslavement and untouchability of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes for 3000 years.  
 
According to various reports of government of India and other research many Caste Hindus are accused of benefiting from: propagating untouchability, torturing Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe to keep them enslaved, stealing their labor, raping their women, and treating them like inhuman. All of this was done for social-economic and political gain of caste Hindus.  
 
The protective actions on part of government are insufficient to ensure justice and human treatment of SC/ST community in free India. We expect strong and sincere efforts by the government in power for establishing justice, liberty, equality, and freedom to all its citizen.  We believe that all citizen of Indian Nation are equal before law and before government. India is boasting high about its economic boom and also periodically we stand as a nation for the rights of humanity and peace. Eg. Recent protest against China saying they are violating the rights of Tibetans, but what about our own people who are treated less than animal in the free country.

 
Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe population is still struggling to overcome the vestiges of caste — discrimination in housing, employment, education, economic development opportunities, and healthcare opportunities, to name a few.  


The caste pride, social-economic status of few people is valued at the cost of killing, raping, and trafficking Scheduled Caste/Tribes women, men and children. We demand that India as nation and Maharashtra State has to take up responsibility for historical crimes against humanity.  
 
We urge that strong and immediate action must be taken with public apology for crime of caste and untouchability. In addition we as a citizen of this country demand reparation for this age old slavery and untouchability.  
Demands:

  • Police:
    • Representation of SC/ST officer- preferably women SC/ST officer with good record must be placed at each police station that is empowered to register the case under SC/ST POA Act 1989.
    • Equal representation of SC/ST on each Police officers rank.
    • 1/3 of the police higher administration must represent SC/ST officers and they must not be transferred on random basis.
    • Every forth subsequent state DGP must be from SC/ST community
    • According to Supreme Court apex directive on police reform, each state must set up State Security Commission. The State Security Commission will be chaired by the state Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister with a Director General of Police as its secretary. A leader of Opposition as well as a woman and another non- government member will also serve on the panel. Two third of the member of the commission must be from SC/ST communities.
Judiciary
  • Representation of SC/ST  judges and lawyers in public prosecution
  • The cases where Caste based violence and or violence/crime against SC/ST  occurs must be tabled before judges  bench with adequate representation of SC/ST.
Doctors
  • Qualified and independent doctors preferably women from SC/ST community
  • Regular training
As form of reparation and restitution of 3000 years old untouchability against SC population, Government of Maharashtra/Government of India must apologize and a Comprehensive decent Urban resettlement must be planned of the rural SC population who are under threat or vulnerable to the attacks from caste Hindus. SC ST POA ACT- must be strengthened with comprehensive amendments to include all above points Responsible Media Establishment of Caste Monitoring Commission (unlike SC ST commission) with substantial powers to initiate, monitor, research, and coordinate welfare projects, violent/non violent atrocity cases, anti-discrimination policies in rural/urban labor & employment issues, and other issues related to violation of human rights of SC/ST. District level participatory committee of government and dedicated NGOs lead by SC/ST  communities
  • These NGOs must be engaged at city-village level  administrative and municipal activities/projects
Establishment of 24 hours toll free help line for antidiscrimination acts with strong linkages to the caste monitoring commission. Periodic Comprehensive Need based Training program in coordination with dedicated SC/ST lead NGOs for doctors, police, judicial officers, media personnel, government executives , and for all other concerned machineries. Special budget allocation for all above activities along with transparency with NGOs/peoples representatives
  • We also demand that the following Recommendations from Government of Maharashtra Report after the Khairlanji Massacre should be complied with:

i)  Adequate police protection should be immediately provided to Shri Bhaiyalal Bhotmange, Shri Siddharth Gajbhiye, Shri Rajan Gajbhiye, their relatives and the other Scheduled Caste families of Khairlanji and Dusala villages. 

ii)  Similar police protection be provided to all the witnesses of the incident. 
iii)  In view of a serious neglect of duty by the district administration and police in handling the  Khairlanji incidence, and consequent loss of people's trust in the State machinery, the CBI investigation should be started immediately, and a charge sheet be filled within stipulated time period. 
iv)  A charge-sheet be filed within the stipulated time pried. The aspect of deliberated destruction/omission of  evidence should  be specifically looked into by the investigating agency, and accordingly investigation should be carried out and charges should be fixed on the concerned. 
v)  It is not enough to merely transfer / suspend the officers guilty of neglect of duty in handling the incident.  Such officers should be made co- accused in the criminal proceedings, and an enquiry should also be initiated against them under the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989. The officers found guilty should be denied all service benefits including pension, gratuity, etc. 
vi)  The medical registration and qualifications of the medical officers including Civil Surgeon who have  committed serious neglect in the post-mortem of Khairlanji victims should be immediately cancelled, and Bhotmange Waiting for Justice they should be subjected to similar penal procedure as the other officers guilty of neglect of duty. 
vii)  Shri Pankaj Gupta, Special Inspector General of Police, Nagpur has made a premature and irresponsible public statement that the Khairlanji incident did not involve  rape on female victims.  It is learnt from the public that Shri Pankaj Gupta accepted a bribe from the interested elements to make such a statement. Similarly, it took 14 days for Shri Gupta to visit Khairlanji, which takes just about an hour's journey to reach from Nagpur. All these matters are extremely serious and hence a discrete confidential enquiry should be initiated against Shri Pankaj Gupta in order to investigate the above matters. 
viii)  A special investigation into the sequence of events including landline and mobile phone calls made, secrete meetings held in and out of the village prior to the incident especially between September, 3 and September, 29 should be conducted with a view to uncover the roots of an organized conspiracy to allow the Khairlanji massacre. 
ix)  The Government should make  it mandatory for the concerned Superintendent of Police and Special Inspector General of Police (Range) as well as Inspector General of Police (PCR) to visit every location of atrocities within 24 hours of incident, and report directly to the Home Department on the visit. The Director General of Police should also visit the location depending on the gravity of the incident. 
x)  Even after handing over of investigation to CBI nothing prevents the Director General of Police from visiting Khairlanji. This will send the right signal to the police machinery  across the State at all levels, and will ensure proper assistance of Police Department to CBI in further investigation. xi)  The decision of handing over the Khairlanji investigation to CID and subsequently to CBI was taken at the highest levels of State Government only in the wake of pressing demands and violent demonstrations by Buddhists and Dalits to this effect. Ideally, the State Government should have proactively established a dialogue with all the important stakeholders in this matter, and initiated the necessary response  suo moto. Such proactive measures need to be taken at the Government level even now. 
xii)  The Vigilance Committee at the State level must meet once in a quarter to constantly review the status of atrocities and should regularly take the appropriate corrective measures. Similarly, the district level Vigilance Committee must meet every month. 
xiii)  Khairlanji incident triggered a lot  of social commotion and protests. Many a protestors have been taken into custody and are subjected to further proceedings. The provisions under which they have been booked should be examined by an independent authority, and fast track courts be established for deciding these cases. 
xiv)  Henceforth, if atrocities indicate the possibility of sexual assault and rape then the following care should  be taken while conducting post- mortem :
a.  The post-mortem must be done by a sufficiently senior, qualified and experienced doctor along with a lady doctor;
b.  Careful examination of genitals of victim along with proper samples of Vaginal Swab, Rectal Swab, Pubic Hair, Nail Clippings of both hands, Blood, etc., be carried out in presence of a qualified lady witness. The samples should be sealed in presence of the lady witness. c.  Photographs of the naked bodies  of victims should be taken for further reference during investigations as the bodies decompose and perish rapidly. 
v)  A Mobile Investigation Van fully equipped with life-saving devices, medicines, and trained doctors and nurses along with senior police personnel should be dispatched to  the concerned location within two hours of reporting of an atrocity. 
vi)  A Standing Committee at the Divisional Level consisting of medico- legal experts, retired judges, retired police officers with proven integrity and character, NGOs, etc., should be constituted to oversee all the aspects of investigation including collection of evidences and witnesses, preparation of charge-sheets, presentation of the case by public prosecutor, etc. 
vii)  The Government should immediately cause to undertake through a neutral agency a survey of all the villages in the State to identify / detect villages  observing untouchability in any form. In order to ensure that no village henceforth indulges in discrimination against Dalits  in any form, a policy decision
needs to be taken at the Government level that any village observing untouchability in any  form shoud not be given any grant by the Government. The Village Panchayat body should be immediately superceded after the incident. The Member of Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti from the concerned area will be suspended immediately after the preliminary investigation establishes commission of offence. 
viii)  In case of reporting of discrimination or atrocities in a village, the village level / local level administrative functionaries such as Talathi, Health Worker, Anganwadi Worker, Gramsevak, Police Sub Inspector, Police Patil, Beat Constable, etc., should also be suspended immediately.
The action taken on the elected representatives and officials should be widely announced and publicized to  send the right signal to the State machinery. The survey should also identify villages with a very small number of Dalit households (within five) and a history of atrocities / communal tensions. The Dalit families from all such village should be rehabilitated along urban fringes with proper provision of schools, water supply, playgrounds and such other amenities as per the State Rehabilitation Law and Policy. Bhandara district can be the starting point for this exercise to be carried out under the Special Component Plan. All disputes around Dalit lands, properties, wages, jobs, loans, etc.,should be proactively tracked and monitored personally by Tehsildar /Sub-divisional Officer under supervision of Collector, and necessarypreventive measures should be taken to prevent the culmination of such disputes into atrocities.   Special Dalit-Vasti-Registers should be maintained for all Dalit settlements across the State, and a system of GIS-based monitoring of such settlements should be evolved  and made available at all the Deserted Hut Collectorates. The Registers should  be regularly updated every six months. 
iii)  Dalit-Vasti-Registers should also include data on a set of objective indicators reflecting latent conditions for atrocities in a village, thus serving as an 'Early Warning System' for taking preventive / preemptive action against a possible outbreak of atrocities. The data should be collected by NGOs or such  other stakeholders not part of the formal administration  system. However, once the data is in place the administration should be held responsible  for the necessary vigilance and preventive steps. 
iv)  Relevant sections of CRPC should be invoked and amended suitably if required, to fix the responsibility of reporting of atrocities / indications of possible atrocities in concerned jurisdictions on the elected representatives such as Sarpanch / Panchayat members, Municipal Councilors, etc. In case the atrocities break out  then these non-officials should be held responsible for their failure in early reporting. 
v)  A 24-hour help-line should be started with the help of NGOs in each district to facilitate emergency response to the incidents of atrocities so as to prevent and minimize the loss of life, property and dignity of the vulnerable section of the society. A special scheme in this regard should be designed and implemented though the Social Welfare Department and Human Rights Commission with  the participation of suitable agencies. Bhotmange's Hut Surrounding xxvi)  A Handbook on Atrocities containing detailed guidelines on the corrective and preventive actions  to be taken by the concerned authorities under the PoA, Act, 1989  be prepared and issued by the Government for ready reference of the administration machinery. 
xxvii) A special Committee should be constituted to evaluate the status of implementation of PoA Act, 1989 in the State of Maharashtra, and possible areas of amendment of the Act (if any) be identified and acted upon by the Government. 
xxviii)  The Committee should also focus on the long-standing issue of 'Low Rate of Conviction' in the cases of atrocities. The necessary action to set up Special Courts as provided in the PoA Act should be taken immediately. 
xxix) Atrocities against SC / ST are often more heinous than terrorist acts. Further, atrocities are often a deliberate and planned way of terrorizing the SC / ST populations, which constitute about 22% of the total national population, i.e., about 250 million persons. Hence  atrocities should be viewed and dealt with on par with terrorism. Provisions of stringent Acts to control organized crime such as POTA, etc., may be extended to such atrocities. 
xxx)  The Section 4 of PoA Act, 1989 should be made cognizable. 
xxxi)  As per Section13 (2) of PoA Act, 1989 adequate representation of SC /ST should be ensured in the police force. 
xxxii) The Nodal Officer under PoA Act, 1989 should be further empowered, and should be provided with definite execution machinery for effectively delivering his responsibilities. The Nodal Officer should also be authorized to write on a plane sheet of paper the confidential reports of the Collector, Superintendent of Police, Special Inspector General of Police (Range) and Inspector General of Police (PCR), which would ultimately be a part of their Annual Confidential Report.   

xxxiii)  A State-wide campaign of training should be initiated for all concerned authorities, functionaries and other stakeholders on the issue of atrocities, and the corrective-preventive measures to be taken in
coordination by all of them. This exercise should be taken up by the Social Welfare Department immediately. 
xxxiv) Similarly, a State-wide awareness campaign should be initiated to sensitize the public at large about the issue of atrocities. An effective use of television, radio, print media, cable networks, e-mail / internet, etc., be made to disseminate the public messages on this issue. A clear message should be sent through media that the villages / groups / persons committing atrocities on SC  / ST will be dealt with very severely. 
xxxv) A special section on atrocities should be included in the school curriculum and text-books under history / civics / social service, etc, and accordingly the teachers also should be given a special training on Equity and Social Justice issues. 

xxxvi) A State Action Plan for eradication of atrocities should be prepared and announced by the State Government through participation of NGOs, activists, social workers, legal-constitutional experts, government and private agencies, etc. A social movement towards achieving social justice and solidarity should be initiated through participation of NGOs and civil society organizations. Through such a movement cutting across all sections of society a common forum such as 'Samajik Samata Sangh' could be created for addressing the  social evils such as untouchability, discrimination and atrocities.

Visit http://atrocitynews.wordpress.com/ Forwarded By Pradip Bansode and M S Bahal

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on September 27, 2008

Historical Decision on Historical Day Poona Pact Khairlanji Dalit Killers Sentenced to Death

Dr. S. L. Virdi Advocate

September 24th, 2008 has gone to red letter day in the history of India when Maharashtra ’s Bhandara District and Sessions Court awarded death penalty to six persons and two others were sentenced to life imprisonment, who were found guilty of brutally assaulting and murdering four members of a Dalit family on September 29, 2006.

Brief history of the episode is that a Dalit, Bhaiyalal owned some land in village Khairlanji which was not liked by the upper caste killers. This was the basic reason behind the Khairlanji Carnage.

This episode not only sent shock waves across India, but also triggered one of the worst riots in the Maharashtra State. A train was set on fire and Dalit rage simmered all over India.

Following public outcry, the government handed over the investigation to the CBI. The trial began in May 2007 and lasted over a year during which 36 witnesses were examined, including four eyewitnesses and the eight convicts were held guilty of murder.

In spite of threats to his life, Bhaiyalal Bhootmange, the key witness who lost his wife, daughter and two sons, one of whom was blind, in the massacre, stood firm and fought for justice. The government has provided a job for him and a house on compassionate grounds, but he wants all the accused, including the three persons who have been acquitted, to be punished.

It is pertinent to mention here that t he war waged by Dr. Baba Sahib Ambedkar with Gandhi for Separate Electorate was also ended on 24 th September, 1932 with Poona Pact which was a historical fight for securing constitutional rights to Scheduled castes and Dalits. Through this fight, Dr. Ambedkar secured Constitutional recognition and an honorable place for the Scheduled Castes and Dalits in the ensuring government of India Act, 1935.

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on September 27, 2008

Genesis of Terrorism
Raghbir Singh Dhillon*

Sikh ideology stands for universal brotherhood and love for the achievement of which people have to lead life in accordance with the natural laws, known as hukm in the Sikh lore, which govern the whole universe. Fear is ingrained in the humans since time immemorial because of their multifarious weaknesses on account of sheer ignorance. Psychological fear was later planted in them by the priests who misinterpreted natural happenings and related them to their bad luck. Taking advantage of these fear psychosis despots and other powers with the help of their coteries including priests used religion to keep it embedded in their minds through karam kands, whims, administrative means and armed forces so as to incapacitate them from rising against their exploitative methods. In view of the growing unrest in the masses this system was replaced in the 19 th century by controlled monarchy. When the unrest became more wide spread system of adult suffrage was introduced whereby the poor people are now allured to enjoy the ‘right’ to decide and choose which elite political group of exploiting people should rule them. In this system common man has no chance to ever become the master of his welfare. Some of the people with humble background do get elected no doubt, but their reins are in the hands of some elite group who finance their election. They pull their reins in the direction they want with the result they also, in due course, start swimming in the same pool of corruption. We have seen cycle and rickshaw users soon becoming proud owners of cars, properties and of other means after winning elections. They use such political phraseology in election manifestos which illiterate people fail to understand. Elite groups of the communal majority with minor political differences succeed in forming the government with the help of their like-minded groups or some regional parties and forget the promises made to the people who have now come to realize this reality after many election processes since independence. Formation of UPA ( United Progressive Alliance of Congress) and NDA (National Democratic Alliance of BJP etc.) and Akali-BJP combination in Punjab with communal majority pulling the shots are classic examples. Such governments have always passed laws like TADA, POTA and Armed Forces Act for Disturbed Areas to frighten the persons whenever they rise to demand their rights. Object of all these Governments has always been to keep the masses under their thumb for exploiting their labour for the benefit of only a few while the majority suffers.

Under the garb of such pseudo-democratic system minorities and poor of other sections suffer in respect of their political rights, culture, education, language, economic progress, and religious liberty because the judicial set up, economic and administrative policies of such Governments which though claim to be by the people and of the people, are actually never for the people and are for the benefit of elite groups only. Agitations by the underprivileged classes for demands which go against the interest of the elite classes are ruthlessly suppressed. To debar their success in elections and also to scuttle their agitations the ruling groups arouse communal passions too so that they should not make united front against them to save their interests which are ignored or side tracked and brushed aside by sheer majority. Thus minorities and other poor start losing confidence in the electoral process. They then feel forced to adopt violent methods to achieve their genuine rights denied by the Government.

Birth of terrorism is due to regional dissatisfaction also where a region feels that the yardstick of administration applied to it is different from the one applied to other regions as in the case of Punjab , J&K and North Eastern States . Discriminatory refusal to demarcate states on linguistic basis and unfair distribution of river waters ignoring the Riparian Laws resulted in violent agitations in Punjab and other parts. India is a federal republic as per Constitution. And when Akalis wanted to have more powers for Punjab as a federal unit and started Dharam Yudh in 1982 entire Sikh community including defence officers, bureaucrats, political and religious leaders was painted as seditious, terrorists and was degraded in the eyes of other Indians. This campaign of tarnishing their image continued during and after Operation Blue Star scars of which would ever remain fresh in their hearts. Efforts were made to dub the community as such in foreign lands too. To sow the seed of dissent in the Sikh community some selfish of them were helped by dubious means to get majority in the elections after Operation Blue Star and form Government to suppress the Sikhs through their stooges. People know it and it needs no repetition. Such methods are always used by the ruling groups to keep the poor and the minorities divided on communal lines as well to continue their economic exploitation. They also try to demoralize the religious minorities with a view to force them to merge their identifying religious thoughts with the majority community. Due to the discriminatory policies of the federal Government agitation for Telengana is going on since pre-partition days. So is the case in J&K, North Eastern States and Naxalite affected belt spread over Maharashtra , Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh and Bihar . A woman by the name of Charmila is on fast unto death in the armed forces custody in a Command Hospital in Assam with forced feeding for the last 5 years besides many others languishing in different jails.

World events show that the very rulers dubbing some people as terrorists were put behind bars when the people’s rule came. Russian example is before us. If we look at the happenings in the 20th century in India alone, Indian leaders like Gandhi and Nehru who in the eyes of nationalist Indians were heroes were terrorists in the eyes of the British Government. So was Shaheed Bhagat Singh in the eyes of Gandhi and the people of his thinking who branded Subhash Chander Bose also as a protagonist of terror-inspiring activities. Nehru put his freedom fighter colleague Sheikh Abdula of Jammu and Kashmir in jail because he pleaded the cause of the people of his State which could not go down his communal throat. On the other hand politicians, government servants, industrialists, businessmen and other influential persons who conceal income to save tax, do not return loans to the government and banks, siphon of people’s money through stock scams, avoid payment of sales tax, excise and custom duties , adopt dubious means for the purchase of imports resulting into Bofors, Fertilizer and Tehlka like scams, not only undermine the national security by their espionage activities but spoil the economy of the State also. They deserve to be treated as anti-national and terrorists but because of their political clout or otherwise corrupt practices they escape any action.

Deprived groups perforce become terrorists when their genuine demands are not accepted through peaceful means. State terrorism violates natural laws and human rights .

Sikh ideology is based on love and debars exploitation of any kind. " hku prwieAw nwnkw, ausu sUAr ausu gwie]" To wage struggle for the establishment of a peaceful society Guru Nanak Dev says, "jau qau pRym Kylx kw cwau isru Dir qlI glI myrI Awau]" so that it is not staved with the fear of death. It was he who charged Babur with the words, "pwp kI jMJ lY kwblhu DwieAw jorI mMgY dwnu vy lwlo]", and said,"jy skqw skqy kau mwry qw min rosu n hoeI] skqw sIhu mwry pY vgY KsmY sw pursweI]" and further condemned the government functionaries saying, " hrxw bwjW qy iskdwrW,eynw piVHAw nwau]PWDI lgI jwiq Phwiein AgY nwhI Qwau]….rwjy sIh mukdm kuqy]jwie jgwiein bYTy suqy]". Sikhs are born independent to live by the maxim "jy jIvY, piq lQI jwie] sBu hrwm jyqw ikCu Kwie]" As a result of such teachings Sikhs shattered the tyrannical Moghal rule, did not submit to interference in their religion by any Government, opposed emergency tooth and nail in 1975 and are still impatient to have their full say in the land of their Gurus for living a dignified life.

Time has come for the poor irrespective of any caste, creed or belief to stand up against their exploitation by any group as they had risen in the period of Sikh ascendancy of Banda Singh Bahadur’s time in the early 18th century which conferred on them the right to decide their own destiny. They served the masses in the real sense of Sikhism at that time.

* 981-446-5012 Email: raghbirsinghdhillon@yahoo.com

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on September 15, 2008

40% OF SC/ST FACULTY POSTS IN THE CENTRAL UNIVERSITIES LYING VACANTMohan Lal Phillauria (91-988-840-5888)

It has been reported by Sh Rahi Gaikwad in the daily HINDU [Dated 31.08.2008] published from the Chennai that even after four decades of reservation, over 40% of SC/ST posts in the central universities are lying vacant in the 19 central universities. Out of the total number of 4887 posts sanctioned by the UGC, there are only 629 SC/ST lecturers belonging to scheduled castes/Tribes. This leaves a backlog of 471 as per the data available for the year 2007-08 sourced from the UGC under the right to information Act.


The poorest record is of the Benars Hindu University Varanasi where out of 155 SC Lecturers posts and 74 ST posts only 86 and 24 have been filled. Being a minority institution, the Muslim Aligarh University is exempt from the reservation .But there is no SC/ST lecturer in the Institution inspite of the listed requirement of 193 faculty members from the SC/ST quota. According to the union govt. rules, the % of reservation in central Universities is 22.5%for SCs and 15% for STs Extrapon of the data based on these figures shows that the SC/STs still remains poorly represented in higher education. With 629 SC/ST lecturers, their representation is only12.08%, bay below the 22.5% mark out of the 4887 posts sanctioned in the central universities. The UGC has failed to ensure the effective implementation of the reservation policy in the central universities and grantee institutions which are deemed -to- be universities states the UGC guidelines documents. Readers and Professors.


As you move up the cadre, from Lecture to the Reader and professor you will see that the number of SC/STs starts dwindling sharply. Majority of the universities have zero SC/ST Readers and Professors.16 out of the 19 central universities have no SC Professors and 17 have no ST Professors. Part of the reason could that till recently reservation was applicable only at the entry level post of lecturer. It did not apply to the promotions and for higher posts. he UGC guidelines of 2006 mandated 22.5% reservation for readers and  Professors as well. But two years later, the hiatus remains intact. Not much has changed in the past few years, despite the awareness among authorities of the dismal implementation of the quota. "I AM NOT SURPRISED, "says Prof. R.K. Kale from the Jawahar Lal Nehru University New Delhi who himself has questioned in the academic journal The University News, the feckless implementation in the central Universities.”It is a very slow process" he admits, although with a note of assurance that the UGC is taking keen interest in overseeing strict implementation of the reservation policy.


Data from the State Universities and the colleges affiliated to them opens yet an other can of Worms. State Universities follows State level figures. UGC figures for 53 State Universities shows a backlog of 50%. Quite a few of them do not SC/ST lecturer. Let alone Professors and Readers. While academics admit that the posts lying vacant are a cause for concern, none of the authorities, at the centre or at individual college level has any punitive power. Although the UGC claims to have upped the ante, the absence of clear deadlines complex procedures, bureaucratic apathy and above all entrenched casteist Attitude make enough path ways for circumventing the law with impunity. At present  a number of qualified SC/ST teachers , even from the  remote  towns are batteling with the  system against the  unjust  contract  based appointments, abrupt  termination  orders and  unfounded  rejections by the Interview panel while denial of  opportunities continuous. In this scenario, the usual refrain of candidates no available or the candidates not suitable rings hollow.

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on September 03,, 2008

DALITS & DALIT LEADERSHIP

MOHAN LAL PHILLAURIA

It is a fact that the Maharashtra  state is at the top so far the awareness among the Dalits is concerned. I congratulate Mr. Rakshit Sonawane for his excellent contribution the reality show and reality check. It may be because the reasons that Mahatma Phule was born in Maharashtra who along with his wife Savitry Bai did a commendable job in the field of education and particularly for women in general. Thereafter Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj made provision for reservation and economically supported the deserving cases. It was an historical event that Dr. Ambedkar was also from Maharashtra . It was during his time that he only led the Satyagrahas for access to water in Mahad and an entry to the temple in Nasik . It was very unfortunate that Dr. Ambedkar died on 6th.December 1956 and thereafter there was a big gap of his followers.


It was only the Mr. Kanshi Ram who translated the ideology of Dr . Ambedkar started with his BAMCEF factor during the year1980 onward. Later on Mr. Kanshi Ram converted BAMCEF into BSP presently headed by Miss Mayawati now the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. She has been accepted and recognised leader of the Dalits in the India . Though Mr. Kanshi Ram was born in Panjab but he has started his struggle path from Pune and the got success in Uttar Pradesh. In Punjab he has got good followings in the very beginning but later on the entire team of the followers dispersed during his lifetime. In Punjab one BSP is headed by Mr. Devi Dass Nahar and other BSP is headed By Avtar Singh Karimpuri . There are other factions BSPs formed by the family members of Mr. Kanshi Ram . Thus as on date there is not even a single leader in Punjab like Ram Dass Athawle in Maharashtra whereas there is lot of scope in Punjab of emergence of Dalit Leadership. There is a total division of Dalit population and Dalit leadership the result is obvious and inspite of the capacity of the rulers the dalits are the slaves of the non dalits.


Mahatma Phule has written one book 'GHULAMGIRI'. In Maharashtra this book was published by the Maharashtra Govt. It is a govt. publication. Sh. Ashwani Kumar Balachaur has translated this book into Punjabi which is yet to publish, but one chapter of the book was published in the daily SPOKESMAN [a daily Punjabi news paper and is not liked by the present govt.]The chapter pertains to the lord Parsu Ram. The very next day the representatives of the Hindus have attacked the office of the Newspaper and has registered a case against the Newspaper and the Translator. T translator is a Dalit and is an intelligent enough who understand the Ambedkar philosophy. The translator is totally isolated and the Dalit leaders are sleeping. It is a question when one book is published by the Maharashtra Government Then how it is objectionable in the state Punjab when it is translated into Punjabi. Punjab Govt. has recently decided to adopt Punjabi and to perform all the function in Punjabi. But, what is wrong in translating the one Govt. publication by some intellectual No Dalit leadership has come forward to pursue this matter Dalits are harassed on daily basis. Dalit women are raped if there is Khairlanji massacre in Maharashtra there was a Talhan episode in Punjab . There was Jhabar episode in Mansa District, where Bant Singh has lost both his arms in a fight and earlier his daughter was raped.


Maharashtra and the Punjab are the prosper states which are the native states of Dr. Ambedkar and Mr. Kanshi Ram. There fore the other states expecting more from these states. In Punjab the Dalits are more than 33%, the dalits are militants for other castes and creeds of the state. The Dalits of the state have to have followed the path shown by Dr. Ambedkar. It can only be either by the party of the Dalits exclusively or by the DALIT leaders in the other parties like BJP, COMMUNISTS OR CONGRESS. Intellectuals from the Dalits in Punjab are also sitting silently. There are number of IAS, IPS retired officers, who are passing their times and are not paying their attention to the issues as was expected by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar from these officers who have enjoyed their life by way of reservation. There is no doubt that the dalits of the Punjab  as on date are leaderless. It is the moral duty of the thinkers and the responsible intellectuals of the Dalit communities to be one. If they are one they can rule over the state like UP.

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on August 30, 2008

SURVEY OF THE SOCIAL PROFILE
OF THE KEY DECISION MAKERS IN THE NATIONAL MEDIA
By: Anil Chamaria (Freelance Journalist),
Jitendra Kumar (Independent Researcher) , Yogendra Yadav (Senior Fellow) , CSDS

KEY FINDINGS

  • India's 'national' media lacks social diversity, it does not reflect the country's social profile
  • Hindu upper caste men dominate the media. They are about 8 % of India's population but among the key decision makers of the national media their share is as high as 71 %.
  • Gender bias rules: only 17 % of the key decision makers are women. Their representation is better in the English Electronic media (32 %).
  • Media's caste profile is equally unrepresentative. 'Twice born' Hindus (dwijas comprising Brahmins, Kayasthas, Rajputs, Vaishyas and Khatris) are about 16 % of India's population, but they are about 86 % among the key media decision makers in this survey. Brahmins (including Bhumihars and Tyagis) alone constitute 49% of the key media personnel.
  • Dalits and adivasis are conspicuous by their absence among the decision makers. Not even one of the 315 key decision makers belonged to the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes.
  • The proportion of OBCs is abysmally low among the key decision makers in the national media: they are only 4 % compared to their population of around 43% in the country.
  • Muslims are severely under-represented in the national media: they are only 3 % among the key decision makers, compared to 13.4% in the country's population.
  • Christians are proportionately represented in the media (mainly in the English media): their share is about 4 per cent compared to their population share of 2.3 %
  • Social groups that suffer 'double disadvantage' are also nearly absent among the key decision makers: there are no women among the few OBC decision makers and negligible backwards among the Muslims and Christians.
  • These findings are based on a survey of the social background of 315 key decision makers from 37 'national' media organizations (up to 10 key decision makers from each organisation) based in Delhi. The survey was carried out by volunteers of Media Study Group between 30 May and 3 June 2006.
  • The survey was designed and executed by Anil Chamaria, Feelance Journalist, and Jitendra Kumar, Independent Researcher, from Media Study Group and Yogendra Yadav, Senior Fellow, CSDS.

Survey methodology:

For this survey 40 ‘national’ media organizations located in Delhi were identified. These included all the major news papers, news magazines, radio channels, television channels and news agencies that could be said to have a national spread. Of this information could be obtained about 37 organizations. For this purpose different publications or channels of the same media house have been treated as different organisations.

 

For each of these organizations we sought information on the top 10 ‘key decision makers’ who matter in deciding the news and editorial policy of the organization. For each of these persons thus identified, information was collected on their social profile in terms of their gender, age, religion, caste/community, mother tongue and state of domicile. The information was available for 315 key decision makers. This was gathered by a group of volunteers of the Media Study Group. Since the information was gathered not by face-to-face interview but by speaking to colleagues and other informants, the data here may contain some errors.

SUMMARY TABLES

Gender Profile

 

Men

Women

Print Hindi

86 %

14 %

Print English

84 %

16 %

Electronic Hindi

89 %

11 %

Electronic English

68 %

32 %

All

83 %

17 %

Religious profile

 

Hindu

Muslim

Christian

Sikh

Share in India’s population

81 %

13 %

2 %

2 %

Print Hindi

97 %

2 %

0 %

0

Print English

90 %

3 %

4 %

0

Electronic Hindi

90 %

6 %

1 %

0

Electronic English

85 %

0 %

13 %

2 %

All

90 %

3 %

4 %

1 %

Caste-community profile

 

Brahmin

Kayastha

Vaishya/

Jain

Rajput

Khatri

Non dwija upper caste

OBC

Print Hindi

59 %

9 %

11 %

8 %

5 %

0 %

8 %

Print English

44 %

18 %

5 %

1 %

17 %

5 %

1 %

Electronic Hindi

49 %

13 %

8 %

14 %

4 %

0%

4 %

Electronic English

52 %

13 %

2 %

4 %

4 %

4 %

4 %

All

49 %

14 %

7 %

7 %

9 %

2 %

4 %

Caste-Community profile compared to population share

Caste/community group

Share in India’s population

Share in key media personnel

 

 

 

‘Twice born’ Hindus (Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, others)

16 %

85 %

‘Intermediary’ Hindu castes (Jat, Reddy, Maratha, Patel, etc.)

8 %

3 %

Hindu OBC

34 %

4 %

Muslim

13 %

4 %

Christian

2 %

3 %

Sikhs

2 %

1 %

SC

16 %

0 %

ST

8 %

0 %

Note: Figures for population share are based on Census of India 2001 and estimates generated by National Election Study 2004 of CSDS.

Share of Hindu upper caste men

Share in population

8 %

Share in key decision makers in the media

71 %

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

(Forwarded by Mr. Balbir Madhopuri) Posted on August 24, 2008


Minority politics in India Role and Impact of Christians in Punjab Politics

Dr. Emanual Nahar
Sr. Lecture, Political Science DCS Panjab University Chandigarh
Mobile No. 09815974293, Ph. No. 0172-2726868(R)

This study is confined to the problems of Indian Christians and more particularly to the Christian minority in Punjab. Regarding the History of the Christianity in India as well as in the Punjab, the various studies and traditions show that the history of Christians in India data back to Apostle St. Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ who not only visited South India but also came to Takshila in Northern India. This study shows that there is also historical evidence of Christian settlement in Kerala. It is also believed that traders from East Syria and Persia settled in Malabar and brought the traditions of the Church founded by St. Thomas with them the year 52 A.D. is now accepted of St. Thomas at Malabar in India.

This study in mainly related with an expansion of Christianity in Punjab. The Christian faith spread in Punjab virtually through conversion of the downtrodden people of the society by the missionaries. They were great by successful among the lower, deprived and depressed caste of the Punjab Society. They set up many educational and medical institutions and various places of Punjab.

They opened mission stations, Churches and hospitals. Most of these mission stations and school were supervised by a missionary. The Primary purpose of the missionaries who came to Punjab in the nineteenth century was evangelism. They preached the Gospal in town, villages and Basti and distributed sacred scripture among the people. Many outstanding educational institutions were established to develop the western education in the English language. They also worked only in those areas where the Dalit and depressed classes were neglected. So in the Punjab the missionaries were known mayhap of the downtrodden people. They tried to elevate the neglected classes to high social position.

The major focus of this study is to identify the socio-economic and Political conditions of the Christian community in Punjab. Inspite of their conversion to Christianity, they have suffered a serious discrimination, this study shows that Christian in Punjab converted from the down-trodden classes and adopted the Christian religion. After this they continued to face discrimination. Firstly, along with dalits in general, and secondly, on the basis of religion. Although their conversions to Christianity was a protest against the obnoxious caste system and though they had joined the Church seeking liberation and solace in the new community. A change of religion has not cleaned their scar. The Church has not only failed to fulfill their expectations but even discriminated against them.

After conversion to Christianity they have lost the right to reservation in government jobs. In the Majha region, they are always under debt and under the control of landlord class. A large majority of rural Christian of Majha region have deplorable conditions. Socio-economic problems have compelled them to work in the landlord fields. They are exploited socially and economically by the upper class and landlords. About 70 percent Christian have low economic status and 98 percent are landless and remained socially separated and still attached with old traditions of the previous caste. All these the facts shows that conversion to Christians has not brought a big Change in socio-economic, social status of the community especially in Majha region of the Punjab.

Their Dalit Christians caste origin is continuing to haunt them and is depriving them of equal rights even in the new religious structural to which they have converted. After independence, the state extended various benefits to the SC/ST for their welfare. How much of these benefits are extended to the Dalits Christians. They have to feel that they are blatantly ignored and denied state benefits.

Today, Christians are facing socio-economic problems. Their problems in general are an integral part of the overall Dalit problems in this country. They have a feeling that there is a violation of their constitutional rights. Discrimination against Dalit Christians in the matter of employment, promotion in public services, economic benefits and facilities in education is becoming the policy of the state. In general the state discriminates against their institutions in granting aid. The state government has imposed many limitations to prevent minority schools from appointing their own teachers.

This study in the nature of an essay in the political culture and political behaviour it relies exclusively on combination of historical/ empirical/case study methods. The study depends on the primary, secondary and field investigation sources. For the issue on the Christian participation in electoral political processes, data was collected through the survey and interview methods.

The Political participation, political activities and political understanding of the community were assessed by their general understanding of the political process prevailing in the country. Their openness to political activities, their capacity to organize themselves for any political expression in the total political frame work of the state politics. Three religions Majha, Malwa and Doaba (20 villages) rural and urban have been selected for comparative study to observe the socio-economic status and political participation to community.

  • The study analysis the major problems of Christians in India and shows that community bears a stigma imprinted by history and suffers from what is termed as ‘symbolic violence’.
  • The major problem faced by the Churches is the right propagates their religion and undertakes social, economic activities in India. It is always alleged by the some groups that the missionaries indulge in conversions in India by providing different type of facilities to the depressed classes.
  • The rural Christians population is mostly dependent on the landlords for their daily needs. Rural indebtedness which is a serious problem of the people in general has a serious impact on the socio-economic backwardness like Dalit Christians on limited borrowing for crossing to their capacity is a routine feature of the community. It is fact that lack of institutional credit facilities affected their social life particularly in case of labourers and also gives birth to bounded labour.

The study also analysis in the agrarian society of the Punjab that, the status, conditions, prestige and power of any community or caste or groups is determined by the possession of land, the traditional socio-economic set up was based on agricultural productivity and customary relationship upon all other villages and claimed their serious under the relationship which were called Jajmani relationship.

In the Punjab, the land holders maintained their economic power and social superiority over the Dalits by keeping them at a law economic level at rural level. But the new generation and educated from the dalits do not like to work in the field of landlord. They have crossed the limitations of landlords. They like to work near urban area. Migrated labour from UP, Bihar is taking occupation of dalits at village level. Such type of labour is preferred by landlords because it is cheaper.

The study shows, about 38.33 percent of the respondents from all the regions claimed there is change of the socio-economic status of the Christians. On the other side about 56.23 percent of the respondents refused to accept that there is no any type of change after adoption of Christianity in the Punjab. Conversions to Christianity have not bought a big change in their social status. The study shows a majority of the urban Christian of Majha, Malwa and Doaba that is 19.45 percent are in the higher status. In Doaba region Christian have better position. About 50-41 percent are in the low socio-economic status from the different regions. .

In urban areas occupation rigidity is of a different variety. They are doing jobs in missions, hospitals and educational institutions, government and semi-government departments or doing their own private business. On the other side, socio-cultural and economic conditions of the community differ from region to region and conspicuously and also from rural to urban areas. In general social status of the community is comparatively low as compared to other communities than the rest of the classes particularly in the boarder Majha region of the Punjab.

It is believed that the Indian Christian community was given a better treatment by the British government. Although they were granted identity in general and special representation provisions for religious, minorities were extended through the government of India Act of 1919 and 1935 but that is not much evidence that proper representation was given to Christian community along with other minorities. Secondly, they feel that they are being blatantly ignored and denied state benefits by the b^ Congress and Akali Dal in Punjab.

This study also analysis that Dalit Christians were betrayed by their own community leaders like H.C. Mookerjee, Raj Kumar and Amrit Kaur. They made recommendation to give up all special privileges which are given to Indian Christians. Dalit Christians have to feeling that the few upper caste leaders betrayed the million Christians have Dalit background.

In 1956 and 1990 Parliament amended the presidential order to extend reservation facilities to Dalit Sikhs and Buddhists on the basis of religion. So, it is continuing discrimination against the dalits Christians. It is discrimination on religious grounds and violation of articles 14-15 and 25 of the Indian constitutions which guarantee freedom and justice to all people.

It does not mean Indian democratic state is not providing any protection to minorities in India. Indian constitution recognizes religious minorities and different articles and provisions have been made for all the sections of the society. The drafting committed formulated the various general and specific provisions into many articles and placed them in Part XIV under the title Special Provision Relation to Minorities. The general provisions which are enjoyed by both majority and minority equally are called general provisions. The greatest safeguard for the religious minorities in a multi-religious society is that the secular state acts as a guardian of the religious minorities and treats all religion equally.

Economic backwardness and lower social background of the Dalit Christians give them little or no scope in the political arena which is a highly caste ridden and dominate society in Punjab. Although casteism in its primitive form is fast disappearing in urban and slowly in rural areas, but it is manifested now through other ways. Today, caste has become a political entity. Political leadership and active involvement in political process seem to be controlled by/economically stronger communities. It is difficult for economically backward Christians to make progress in Punjab politics. They are considered as negligible vote bank by the political parties. Basically, community lack ‘social pull’ which is essential in the political field. The Christians too is most parts of the Punjab suffer from the same disability.

The lack of cohesion is another important reason which has been responsible for hindering the Christian community from better participation in Political life in the Punjab. There are some problems:

1. The Christians community is scattered over a wide area of the state.

2. Group ism within local churches / missions.

3. There is no unity between the religious and lay leaders

4. Various denominations are not helpful to make the standing in the politics. Due to these problems, Christian’s community has no proper organization or political party. Neither individual lay leader nor a religious leader of community took an initiative or make effort to organize the community to lead the Christians on political path.

This study also analysis that Dalit Christians in Punjab are rarely found in active politics. There are a few Christians who are members of village Panchayats or town where there is considerable population of the Christians are elected automatically as community representatives. Although the community has not been in a position to win any election of Vidhan Sabha or Lok Sabha but they are a deciding factor about 15 Legislative Assembles and two Lok Sabha's seats. But they have no any political value in the village affairs. They study shows that Christians are very rare in political parties. Only an active and educated Christians have the awareness about the membership. Actually, at the rural level, majority of the Dalit Christians are attached with landlord and political leaders not with political parties. Secondly, their socio-economic conditions do not allow them for/active participation in Punjab politics. These-miserable conditions have much to do with the character of their active political activities. It does not seem to have affected their general political participation much.

This study shows indicates that all the regions of the Punjab, 90.83 percent in Majha, 90.00 percent in Malwa, and 95.00 percent in Doaba against of the Christian have active participation during the Panchayat/MC election. This study shows that it is not only a new trend among the Dalit Christians voters in Punjab but it is also through out the country. Economic status and participation in election process seem to be directly related. High income groups Christians are more interested in an active politics.

But one important finding during the survey time with regards to the voting behaviour of Dalit Christians in that, while the regular voters represented mostly lower education and economic levels. They were not concerned with party, ideology and manifesto. They were more concerned with groups of the landlords in the village. In the urban, Christians always vote on the basis of the party also prefer candidate's character, policy, programme, agenda performance, quality and integrity. Majority of the Christians were attached with congress party. With the passage of time, Christian voters shifting from Congress (I) party to other political parties. The reason is only that party could not fulfill the expectation of the community and shifting from congress and opted for alternatives behaviour they could find them. This change of allegiance is guided by the secular concern to assert in the power structure in order to gain benefits that may accrue from it, than by mere parochial interests. This has led them to search for alternatives as they are no longer prepared to accept for role of passive voter-supporters in the overall environment of subjugation and sub­ordination.

It has also been observed (1952-2007) from the results of various elections, that Christians are ' not influenced by communal and religious considerations in the exercise of their vote for example in 1977, 1985 and 1997 elections many Christians candidates contested the elections as an independents. They supported the Akali Dal and Janata Party alliance in 1977. In 1985, during the Longowal wave, Akali Dal managed to get the Christians support from many constituencies of Gurdaspur and Amritsar in Malwa region of the Punjab.

The Socio-Economic hierarchy of the upper caste and landlords in the Political institutions

This study deals with profession, property land and income of the community. Most of the Christians are unskilled and agricultural labours. They do not possess any land and property and do not fall in the higher group. They are not in a position to contest election and hierarchy of upper class an landlords in the political institutions do not allow them for active political participation in Punjab politics. After 1967, in Punjab the Sikh Community has made its dominance in congress as well as Akali Dal in the Punjab politics. This study shows Jat Sikhs have virtual monopoly over the political power in the state. The scope of minorities entirely depends upon the Sikh leaders.

The main findings and observation of the study:

  • Conversion to Christianity has not brought about a big change in the social status of Christians. In spite of their conversion of Christianity.
  • It is a fact that some selfish Christian priests use religion as instrument for collection money from the western countries by showing the social work and poverty in India. It is also fact that some independent groups and Churches is using social service as an instrument for making conversion in India.
  • Christians are suffering from stigmatized identity of their having remained untouchables, foreigners and powerless communities, secondly; dominating cultural and tradition of other caste, religious and groups of majority always impose its own culture and values in the powerless communities, the social identity and social relationship are determined by powerful majority rather than by minority norms and values.
  • It is also a fact that in the agrarian society of the Punjab state, the status, conditions, prestige and power of any community or caste or groups is determined by the possessions of land, the traditional socio-economic set up.
  • It is fact, that the economic backwardness of the Dalit Christians of Punjab is aggravated by social disabilities and lack of political influence.
  • In Punjab, socio-economic backwardness does not seem to have directly affected the general political participation. But this has greatly affected the entry of Christians interactive political involvement in Punjab.
  • The socio-economic hierarchy of the landlords and Jat Sikhs in the political institutions like Vidhan Sabha, Lok Sabha, Village Panchayat corporations, boards and cooperative societies are the principle means through which the landlords and upper caste deprive the dalits of the fruits of their labour.

In the conclusion, the disadvantage of socio-economic backwardness has certainly altered their political aspirations and often denied them opportunities of entering into an active political life. In Punjab the Christians community in minority and is economically poor, political powerless, socially depressed and needy in general. Politically, they are considered as negligible vote bank by political parties like congress or Akali Dal. Both parties are playing teachers to capture voters through various menas. The community’s limited participation in electoral has increased their bargaining power. A more complete and an active participation can change the political scenario of Punjab especially in Majha region, if they organize themselves politically. There is a need to educate their political rights. They also need to understand the political strategy and attitudes of Political parties and politics of upper caste in particular.

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on August 24, 2008

The Saga of Abhinav Bindra
Written by Dr. Amrik Singh from Sacramento

His gold came like the rainfall in a parched land. He struck the chord that lilted hearts of a billion Indians. He shot near perfect in the bull's eye. Many a foot rose in unison to the beat of the drum. He had done it! The history recorded it as the first Solo Olympic Gold of Independent India. Punjab at the crest again figured in our discourses. He practiced his best shots in Zirkpur (Mohali) Punjab. The small town in the outskirts of Chandigarh struggled for a legal recognition due to the Chandigarh Periphery Act. The beleaguered residents now feel, it is almost over because an auspicious star has risen in its skies. It is a time for celebrations. No mean looks, no rivalry, no politics, no bad word can obscure the golden shine. Abhinav created a heartthrob in millions who are capable of striking the gold mine, but may not be lucky to be on the roster.  Will Abhinav be their leader in Gold tally?

Yes, if the bad shooters in politics won't make him their prized victim. If we ring them out and ring in those who aim at the bull's-eye, India could be the nation of performers as a replacement for manipulators.  Abhinav appears to beckon us to take pride in what is best in us and ignore all that provokes the worst.

 At the time Abhinav in Beijing was concentrating on 'shooting good shots', his parents were offering prayers in Sector 8 Gurdwara in Chandigarh. A few hours later, their wish was granted. Abhinav had no idea of making the history. His goal was to 'shoot well and shoot aggressively.'

Abhinav's earlier recognitions paved the way for his ace achievement in Beijing. Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal wasted no time in announcing 10 millions Rupees for 'the Son of Punjab.' The windfall of wealth continues to come in his way.  The saga of Abhinav Bindra's success will create a desire in millions of youths to go his way. But they need parents like Bindra’s. If government of India plays the parental role for the ones who are promising but poor, hundred years of alienation will sure end announcing the dawn of a new era.

 Posted on August 15, 2008

  The Sovereignty of Demagogues and the Akal Takht

Written by Dr. Amrik Singh from Sacramento
 

The way Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti was packed off raises serious questions about the functioning of the parliament of Sikhs.  Supreme sacrifices of Sikhs to get this body had even fired up the freedom movement in 1925. The architects of SGPC had great expectations of saving Sikhs from anarchy by providing far-sighted leadership. The miserable failure of SGPC in providing a good management now compels attention of the community. Over the years, it has not developed any long lasting institution that the future generation may take pride in. It has not risen above bickering of its members which become major stories in the media every other day. . It is deeply mired in controversies, crises and climaxes. Democratically elected SGPC members have been underperforming their role by giving free access to demagogues to temper with the religious affairs.

The heavy politicization of SGPC has created a situation of religious neglect of the very people it was supposed to serve. Instead of spreading Guru's word for uplifting the lower classes, SGPC has contributed in shoving them off to the fold of Deras for solace. The politicization process has promoted elitist attitudes confining the democratic body to only privileged classes. To keep their hold on to the reins, they have adopted all divisive agendas that Gurus stood against like a rock. Indeed, SGPC has touched its lowest ebb.

The blame squarely falls on Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for the present mess. He has donned all powers of an undisputed demagogue who can appoint anybody to the office of SGPC president and the august seat of the historical Akal Takht. His will can immobilize SGPC members to mere nobodies. SGPC president has to check with his Pasha on regular basis about his loyalty not to the Office of the SGPC but to his godfather. Such charges though have been making rounds for long, the arbitrary removal of the Jathedar has proved beyond doubt that the Sovereign Seat of the Akal Takht is subordinated to the pleasure of the dictator.

Badal has given a lot of ammunition to anti-Sikh forces to play havoc with Sikhs' future. There is no use blaming excommunicated editor of Spokesman and his gang for showing disrespect to the institution of Akal Takht, when Badal has done it ten times worse than any adversary of the Akal Takht. He has joined the bandwagon of Joginder Singh who will now decide which Granth to read and which not. His hands became stronger as the removal of Jathedar has been matched with the installation of Captain Amrinder Singh at the heart of Punjab Congress party. Whatever reasons might have compelled Badal to take this decision, but the Vedanti controversy will affect him politically a great deal. Capt. Amrinder Singh's clout both in  Dera Sauda and Delhi Akali Dal is an open secret. Earlier, Captain tried to stage a coup in SGPC during his term as CM of Punjab. Vedanti controversy now has undoubtedly proved auspicious for projecting him as the future leader of Punjab.  

Centralizing all powers of SGPC, a democratically elected body, by S. PS Badal is in direct contradiction to his personal belief in federalism and decentralization of powers. Badal is nationally well known for more rights to States, and recently he vehemently countered Union Home Minister Shiv Raj Patil's proposal for the establishment of a Central Agency to monitor terrorist threats. The veteran Akali leader should have practiced his beliefs in SGPC where his clout ran uninterruptedly. Even a little allegiance to his own Anandpur Sahib Resolution would have made him devise an honorable way to dispense with the services of a Jathedar who did his best to negotiate the controversies despite his (Badal's) unethical pressure.  

The institution of Akal Takht remains embroiled in political controversies because no due process or procedures have been developed to run its affairs, meetings with other Takhts' representatives, and SGPC house committees to deal with historical, sociological and cinematic representation of Sikhs in text books and films. It doesn't appear SGPC is sensitive to maintain religious heritage by restoring historical sites, maintaining relics of Sikhs' past and saving rare manuscripts of Sikhs' enterprise. The result is the mess we are in today.  

Insiders say there is a nagging fear of inviting enlightened Sikhs to work with the SGPC. The cadre that has been enjoying power through manipulations feels threatened when any innovations are suggested to cope with the technological and corporate culture. The tendency of SGPC to confine pious resources to a few is identical with ancient Brahmanical traditions that denied access of knowledge to the commoners. Neglect of lower castes by the mainstream leadership points a finger in that direction. Divisive mindset in such circumstances reigns supreme contradicting the philosophy of Sikh Gurus.  

SGPC over the years could have become a laboratory of refined democratic values, had it adopted rational approach to cultivate culture of value-based consensus among SGPC members to solve problems Sikhs face from day to day. The diminution of SGPC members to mere puppets has barred any progress in Sikh affairs. Members should have been given greater role in sorting controversies than burdening priests with the controversial decisions. The critics too should share the blame as they shirked to go in stronghold of Sikh voters.

The Akal Takht and other Takhts are symbolic of moral authority. These institutions maybe used only for a symbolic acceptance of decisions reached in SGPC house or committees. The procedure maybe developed after a series of discussions, debates and deliberations that will save the institution of Akal Takht or its Jathedar from mockery of its detractors. If any decision becomes debatable, it will be the responsibility of the committees, not of the Jathedars who are now merely symbolic heads. In case of extreme religious importance, these heads may return controversial proposal to the house for incorporating suggestions. But this will be entirely up to the house to review and explain decisions made under the seal of Akal Takht.

SGPC may seek opinions of Sikh Diaspora on vital issues and ask representatives to work with committees for value-based decisions. The procedure for dissenting views should be adopted so that no bitter memories are left. The right to differ should be encouraged instead of suppressing it.

The process of appointing Akal Takht Jathedar should start at least one year before the actual appointment. The nominee should face the SGPC house, other Takhts, Sikh bodies and answer questions of members across party lines. The nominee should have track record of immaculate service and vast knowledge of Gurbani and Sikh history. The way the nominee handles questions in the house will make clear how the Jathedar will best symbolize the tradition of Sikhs' aspirations. Diaspora too can arrange a session with the nominees through internet for answers of their questions.

These suggestions are just to set the ball rolling. If the SGPC still won't wake up, the demagogues like Parkash Singh Badal or Capt. Amrinder Singh or Sarnas, or Joginders or Dera Chiefs will keep embarrassing Sikhs. The responsibility of all the mess will be of SGPC for abdicating its fundamental role in spreading Guru's word to the oppressed members of the society.

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on August 11, 2008

The Tragedy of Ishmeet Singh: Amul Star Voice of India

Dr. Amrik Singh, Sacramento

The heartrending story of nineteen year old Ishmeet Singh, winner of ‘Amul Star Voice of India’ on November 24, 2007 sent parents in a traumatic condition. Barely nine months of wonder after the rare recognition ended in a tragedy that created pathos in all who had set great hopes of glory. A soft spoken turbaned young Sikh, Ishmeet had no airs of his celebrity status. His death by drowning in the swimming pool of a resort near Male, the capital of Maldives , aroused immediate suspicion of the family. The only son of Gurpinder Singh Sodhi of Ludhiana , Punjab , Ishmeet was down to earth in his life style.

The contradicting details of death by naively entering into deeper end of the pool, crying for help that was mistaken by other singers merely as teasing, and dying immediately before those singers discovered it was too late appear unbelievable. BBC reported the statement of a member of the hotel staff that said he dived straight into the deep end of the swimming pool and ran into difficulties. Circumstantial evidence that slowly trickled after the tragedy indicates suspicion of a criminal conspiracy. The preliminary investigations should have started right after the tragic news. Statements of the hotel staff, the event company managers and all those who company officers communicated with before leaving for Maldives should have been recorded without parents demanding it.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has written to Prime Minister demanding inquiry of Ishmeet’s death, but no action has been taken so far. It is true that Ishmeet had no enemies as he was friendly and respectful to all, but when parents expressed their suspicion of a foul play it should have been honored right away. On examining his body, Ishmeet’s uncle was very upset to see black mark on the Ishmeet’s forehead, injury marks on his chest and the swollen face.

Legendary Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsale were among those who mourned his death. Punjab government provided the state funeral to the budding star. His fans all over the world expressed heart felt sorrows. Sikhs of Pakistan held special prayers in historical Nankana Sahib.

An institute of Excellence in Music will be set up to commemorate the voice of Star of India. But all this won’t be enough, if circumstances of his death remain mysterious. Let the truth prevail.

Posted on August 08, 2008

The Fourth Dimension of the Indian Republic
Dr. Amrik Singh ( writes from Sacramento)

A typical government consists of three branches-the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, but India has the fourth branch as well. The framers of the Indian constitution could not visualize that the fourth branch will sprout to acquire its most dominant form. The country’s intelligence system has outgrown into the fourth organ of the government.

It has acquired gigantic powers that can force other three domains to toe its line. It derives its extra-constitutional authority by waving extreme version of patriotism and impending dangers to freedom. Having exclusive access to devious secrets, it overrides all other wings and even goes to the extent of playing McCarthyism to clear the path for its relentless march.

The fourth wing operates through the agency of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. It invests its energies most in the executive and makes it cross the constitutional boundaries at times. It can immobilize the judiciary and even interpret law for it. It can maneuver the parliament members to do their duties towards the nation-state. Though by definition, India being a multicultural country, cannot subscribe to the concept of the nation-state, the fourth wing however has all historical, sociological and psychological reasoning to justify its agenda and force the government to implement it. As a matter of fact, the country’s intelligence system is supposed to remain subordinated to the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature, but in the Indian context, it has become a colossal machine superimposed on three wings of the government. In sixty years of its functioning, it has established its independent credentials to be fairly considered as the fourth wing of the government. For our analysis we can name it as “Meta-surveillance.”

Hence, the government of India (Executive) in complicity with the fourth division, ‘Meta-surveillance’ exercises more authority than is granted to it by the constitution of India . Supreme Court (Judiciary) in most cases instead of protecting the constitution becomes an extended instrument of the arbitrary, ruthless and bigoted policies of the executive. Parliament (legislature) acts only to prop up the executive regardless of the fact, whether it follows the laws of the land or not. Parliament makes only those laws that are required by the executive to continue its unlimited power. The absolute authority enjoyed by the executive can make or mar any individuals, groups, institutions, state administrations and social organizations.

The intermediary role of the nation’s intelligence between the executive, judiciary and legislature requires a serious review of the intellectuals, lawyers, social activists and conscientious leaders. It has grown into a monolithic institution beyond the control of either wing of the government. It thrives on parading fears of the unknown to the republic of India , defense of the country, borders, individual life of leaders, and its functionaries. Sources reveal it receives huge unaccounted funds that it employs to inflict extrajudicial damage to the ones who are inimical to its interests. The Executive has strategic convenience to commit to the Meta-surveillance’s despotic authority and in return the Executive takes upon itself to run its affairs. In most western democracies, the intelligence is answerable to the legislature. The entire system is put under the scanner of lawmakers. The representatives of people discourage and openly question intelligence agencies’ extra-constitutional overtures.

The government of India ’s recent ban on former spies to write books exemplifies how the fourth wing functions. Apprehending that the former spies can expose Meta-surveillance’s antidemocratic actions, it has become instrumental in making the government pass controversial gag orders. The stance of M. K. Dhar, the former joint director of IB who wrote books about the inner-functioning of intelligence unnerved the administrators of ‘Meta-surveillance’; they lobbied to pass gag orders against former spies in a deceitful way. To muzzle former spies’ reflective observations in writing books, an amendment has been enforced in Central Services and Pension Rules. Government by agreeing to take unconstitutional step has bowed to the unrestrained supremacy of the fourth sector now known as ‘Meta-surveillance’

Meta-surveillance traces its origin to the colonial policies of the British Rule. It inherited a highly developed system of social engineering by playing one group against the other. It will promote ethnic, caste-related, religious, racial and regional identities not for the integration but for the division of people. British ruled over India for about two centuries through these divisive policies. But when Meta-surveillance provided extra-judicial strategies to the modern political parties, they couldn’t deny the secretive benefits. Meta-surveillance honed its skills with the four decades of Congress rule. It was due to its alliance with the Congress that it cut short regime of non-congress governments. But now it has spread its wings to take any party under its extra-constitutional umbrella.

Meta-surveillance can create atmosphere in which dastardly crimes not only look less painful but also necessary for the imagined nation state. Millions of crimes in the shape of communal riots were absorbed because Meta-surveillance is continuously at the ideological work to shape up imagined national consciousness. Killings of Sikhs, Muslims and Christians in the backdrop of imagined national consciousness look entirely unimportant to the three main wings of government; only because Meta-surveillance has created such an euphoria. That is why Politicians like Narendra Modi and Bal Thackeray successfully evade the constitutional scrutiny.

In the recent nuclear imbroglio, Meta-surveillance is engaged in creating circumstances for the passage of the US deal. The CBI’s affidavit in the Supreme Court for prosecuting UP Chief Minister Ms. Mayawati in 2003 Taj Corridor case maybe the result of a bargain with Samajwadi leader Mulayam Singh Yadav for support on the floor of the house. Grilling of Sumedh Singh Saini in disappearance of IAS officer’s son by CBI and then his getting relief in the Supreme Court all speak of politicization of criminal justice of the country. The dangling of sword (CBI charge-sheet) on the head of Gurmeet Ram Rahim on the one hand, and not arresting him and providing him Z Plus security on the other all may be to keep him as an instrument of convenience.

Meta-surveillance is a free floating ruthless force that makes unscrupulous allies for its mission. It can make a coalition of criminals, gang rapists, molesters, drug addicts first by entangling them in cases, then promising them security so that they may render dark services. Political parties accept their usefulness for the obvious benefits at the poll.

Meta-surveillance became a force to reckon with because majority of elected officials shed their responsibility due to either ignorance of the constitution or lack of initiatives. The enormous development made during the last sixty years remained lopsided. Millions of slum dwellers, Dalits, farmers, and laborers continue to live in extreme inhuman conditions. Meta-surveillance maybe accused of distracting politicians’ attention from policy making that could have made citizens relish the fruit of freedom.

Asian countries with Buddhist background developed in a different way. Japan and China recorded a massive development the fruits of which have trickled down to the lowest of the lows. They subordinated their surveillance to the goals they wanted to achieve. But India subordinated its executive, legislature and judiciary to the undeclared agenda of the Meta-surveillance. The largest democracy is woefully trapped in its colonial past and voracious hunger of politicians. The decadence has touched the new pinnacle of injustice, exploitation and violations of human rights. The brand of politicians we see on the horizons belies any hope of resurgence. Who will bell the cat, then?

© Copyright

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on July 16, 2008

Education in Punjab – A Dream!!
Pardeep ( pardeepattri@yahoo.co.in)

All the schools I visited in Punjab, I saw many slogans written on the walls of schools that” Vidya Bechari Ta Par-upkari” means “Education is for welfare/improvement”, “Vidya – 3 rd ankh” means “Education - 3 rd eye” etc. But the condition of education in Punjab is like drowning Titanic ship. Education has become business & not for opening 3 rd eye or for welfare.

2lakh 33thousand students of 8 th class failed in 2007 & the much more tragedy of education system was that many (about 2lakh) of those failed students didn’t take admission again & dropped studies. Same results came this year also. What about the future of all these, what prosper lives all of these students will lead, nobody cares. The results of this year would have been different if all had given little bit intension to this issue.

Another stunning report showed that about 280 students were denied admission to medical colleges in Punjab just because they weren’t able to give the fees which are touching all times high!! What a shame on all Punjabis (one of the richest people of India!!) & Indians that such things are happening when people claiming India Shinning!!

A year back there was a report that not more than 4% student go up to university level, this all is the condition of the state which has been selected No. 1 state by India Today consecutive 3 times!! Punjab Govt. can give Rs. 13000 crores for free electricity to the landlord farmers but on the name on education, Govt. is bankrupt!!

Inappropriate schemes

Decreasing rate of children in Govt. schools is just because inappropriate education schemes, not proper facilities & increasing number of private schools (shops to earn money!!). Thou Govt. teachers are highly educated but teachers are engaged in many other works, like mid day meal, Sarav Shiksha Abhiyan, polls, surveys, etc. They don’t get enough time for teaching even thou they wants to teach.

Teachers are not available from last 15-20 years in many schools of Punjab; schools are running without teachers, without buildings under the shadow of trees, then how something good one can expect? Govt. thinks education is not a profitable business, so no Govt. is ready to recruit teachers or recruited for Rs. 5000, how well teachers will teach in such cases? There is shortage of about 25,000 teachers & 1200 principals in the Govt. schools where only & only lower caste poor students study.

Schools where teachers are not available, students of those areas are now pushed 100 years backward, that why Punjabis are becoming superstitious, living with confusion that Punjab is the best state!! If such conditions continued to prevail for few more years the monopoly of Punjab being one of the best state in all respects will finished & future will be on roads.

Poor students don’t get much encouragement, it’s also not like that only Govt. or teachers are responsible for low education in Punjab; parents & students are also equally responsible. Student just remains 7-8 hour in school rest of time parents have to take care for their best education. 

New methods of teaching those attracts student towards studying should be implemented & “Khel Khel Me Padyai” (studying while playing) methods should be introduced. Govt., teachers, students & parents all have to cooperate so as ship of education don’t sink in Punjab.

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on July 12, 2008

The Reservation Debate
Special Report by Jai Birdi


 
Vancouver:- In response to the Reservation Debate in India , Chetna Association of Canada hosted a seminar on June 7, 2008 and facilitated a discussion from Canadian South Asian perspective. Various guest speakers provided their perspectives on the merit of reservation policy and the progress (or a lack of) made for the betterment of Dalits in India . Contributors to this debate included Gurpreet Singh (Radio India ), Surinder Ranga (President of Chetna Association), Gurmit Sathi, (General Secretary of Chetna Association of Canada), Ajmer Rode (writer, activist and board member), Om Parkash ( Dr. Ambedkar Society, Nawan Shehar), Swami Ram Bharti, Surjeet Bains, and others. The program was facilitated by Paramjit Kainth (Asst. Secretary) and Jai Birdi (Vice President) of Chetna Association of Canada.

Following is summary of the discussion and the resolutions passed at the seminar:
 
1. It was acknowledged that the reservation policy in India has benefited a lot of people to move ahead and make a contribution to the development of India.

 2. The proportion of Scheduled castes in class III and IV is well above the quota of 16 per cent and in class I and II, the proportion is around 8–12 per cent. So, the middle and the lower middle class that we see today from the Dalit community are because of reservation. With no reservation, the entry of these people in government services would have been doubtful.
 
3. There is a need to focus on education and skill-building capacity of the Dalits across India . It is estimated that only 10 per cent of the Indian labour force is skilful.
 
4. While the practice of untouchability is legally banned, episodes of caste-based discrimination continue to occur in India .
 
5. Indian Government’s decision of 2006 and the ruling of the Indian Supreme Court in April 2008 restore faith in Indian democracy; the Supreme Court's decision to add 27% reservation for the Other Backward Castes (OBC) is commendable.
 
6. Living in a global village is now a reality and the flow of multi-national corporations is occurring across the globe at a very rapid pace. However, there is a growing concern that the Multi-National Corporations (MNC’s) often do not carry out their social responsibilities as effectively as they may do in their native countries. Therefore, it is important to exert influence among these MNC’s to accept their social responsibilities and increase opportunities for all citizens of India to access education and training so they can participate in the business environment and contribute more effectively to the development of the economy.
 
7. As pointed out last year by Narendra Jadhav, Vice Chancellor of Pune University, there has been “no national policy on education since 1986 and government spending was only 3.66 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), when it should be 6 per cent.” Access to quality education in India is becoming increasing limited especially for the Dalits. Therefore Indian Government and the MNC’s need to allocate further resources and ensure economically and socially disadvantaged students have the same access to educational opportunities as do the privileged students.

In addition to the discussion on the reservation in India , Chetna Association paid tributes to Dr. Ambedkar EV Ramaswami Periyar and Gadhari Baba Babu Mangoo Ram for their contribution to the formation of affirmative action programs in India .  Baba Mangoo Ram Mugowalia was honored by installing his painting at the Dr. Ambedkar Library at Guru Ravidass Community Center in Burnaby .  The painting was made by the Surrey-based artist Shital Anmol whose paintings are installed at the City of Burnaby , Consulate General of India, Delta Hospital , and other prominent institutions.  Baba Mangoo Ram’s sons who are also living in Canada were also invited and honored during the seminar.

According to Gurpreet Singh, Gadhari Babeys had a vision of egalitarian society where everyone is treated with equality and dignity.  “Had India live up to the vision of Gadhari Babeys, there would have been greater equality and less need for reservation in India ”, said Singh.  “For as long as certain communities have unfair disadvantages, the need for affirmative actions will continue”, continued Singh.

Chetna Association thanks Gurpreet Singh, OP Lakha, Tej Paul Gangar, Surinder Gangar, Lachman Birdi, Bill Basra, Hari Dass Gangar, Prem Kumar Chumber (www. ambedkartimes.com & www.ambedkartimes.org), Gurdeep Birdi, and all others for contributing to the success of this seminar and to paying tributes to India’s greatest contributors.

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com (June 16, 2008)

BRAHMINS AND THEIR IMPACT ON CHRISTIANTY

AN ANALYSIS BY: CHAMAN LAL

 

Brahmins & Brahmanism - the basic history

It would be difficult to assess the impact of Brahmins on Christianity before knowing about the species called Brahmins themselves and their inherent basic instincts. Many of the Brahmin historians write about themselves that their forefathers came to India i.e. Bharat around 1500 BC from Middle East as nomadic tribes and called themselves as Aryans (noble people) belonging to Aryan race. These Aryan tribes brought with them the concept of inequality and superiority with them in heritage. So they divided themselves into three classes known as Brahmins, ksatriyas and vaishyas as per their designated profession in which Brahmin works as priestly class having authority on Brahmin religion and having authority to impart knowledge to others, ksatriyas as warrior and ruler class, and vaishyas as trader class. In these three classes Brahmins declared them as supreme and the later two classes as inferior to them and make them bound to follow their instructions in every walk of life right from birth to death which they later institutionalized these practices on the name of Brahmin religion. Later on when they moved on to India they happened to confront the Moolnivasi tribes of India and somehow by conspiracy or by other ill means they defeated them and collectively kept these aborigines of India into fourth Varna known as ‘Shudra’. Brahmins assigned the duty of shudras as servicing to upper three classes with no fundamental, educational and monetary rights. This unequal and vertical division of society is known as ‘ Varna system’ in Brahminical religion where each class is superior then its lower class except shudra class. Later on they further disintegrated shudra class into ‘shudras’ (touchables) and ‘ati-shudras’. This ‘ati-shudra’ class consists of scheduled castes (untouchables) and scheduled tribes (adivasi) collectively known as ‘SC/ST’ category as on date. As per the population statistics of India, Brahmins are 3 %, ksatriyas are 7%, vaishyas are 5%, shudras are 57%, SC/ST are 25% (18% SC& 7% STs) and rest 3% are migratory flocks (original Muslims, Huns etc. ). As far as the statistics of religious population of India is concerned, these minority religious populations have been converted from these four classes of Brahminical Varna system.

Brahmins – their basic instincts

As far as the ideology of Brahmins i.e. Brahmanism is concerned inequality is inbuilt into it and since inequality is closely related to injustice, injustice and other sorts of inhuman disparities are institutionalized into their religion. Superiority is Brahmins obsession and truthfulness is beyond their scope of imagination. So as a matter of his self made faith he practices inequality, partiality, untouchability and other diabolic disparities towards human being specially those to moolnivasi (aborigines) of India. And as moolnivasi of India forms a large chunk (85%) of Indian population, all the Bahujan Moolnivasi whether they are Hindu or are part of any minority religion of India now, they are the common severe victims of Brahmanism. Brahmins are the species which can not live on the surface of equality, fraternity, justice and brotherhood. Inequality is the prerequisite for Brahmins to exist. Brahmins are so obsessed with inequality that in a process to control bahujan moolnivasi for a long time, they have never focused their minds in constructive areas of mankind development but to invent myriads type of inequalities for moolnivasi Bahujan Samaj.

Brahmins are a set of social virus which inflicts the whole society in which it live, move the whole society to have beliefs such as blind faiths, superstitions and make them to practice inequality as part of the religious instructions. In fifth century before Christ Moolnivasi’s forefather, Buddha had developed a vaccine for this social virus and he had been successfully able to format the whole of the Asian society on the basis of fundamental virtues of mankind and brought them under the umbrella of Buddhism which guaranties everybody equality, fraternity, brotherhood and justice by and large. Around for eight hundred years after Buddha, this so called Brahmin social virus have been dormant in the history and waited for the opportunity to come in the history to flourish his basic instincts. Somehow this virus has resurfaced in the history with the more violent and rigorous inequality as the virus further disintegrated service class i.e. Shudraclass among almost 6647 castes. This further division of Shudra Varna among castes was a conscious and planned strategy of Brahmins for making Moolnivasi Bahujan Samaj permanently slave. This was also a tactful attempt of Brahmins of dividing Shudras among unequal castes with total ban on their right to have education and property. After a long period of time these Shudra folks due to lack of literacy have forget their heritage and started practicing inequality among themselves making them world’s worst kind of mentally controlled slaves. In the odd days of Brahminical counter revolution Brahmins forcefully made Shudra to have faith in Brahminical ideology; those who have denied got murdered. Some of them practicing Buddhism fled to Indian unapproachable peripheries where Buddhist traditions are still alive in various forms. A section of Shudras who believed in Moolnivasi Bahujan’s natural religion i.e. Buddhism never adhered to Brahminical ideology and fled to mountains and started living there. These tribes who are segregated now are called ‘ST’ i.e. ‘Scheduled Tribes’ and are given equal constitutional safeguards in Indian Constitution by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as to ‘Scheduled castes’ i.e. ‘SC’. The ‘Scheduled Caste’ section of the Shudra folks totally denied Brahmanism to accept, that is why they have been dubbed as untouchables by Brahmanical ideologues that ceased their basic human rights. A section of Shudras who compromised with Brahmins to save their property and lands adhered to Brahmanical ideology at the cost of their self respect. This section of induced Brahmanical Shudras as on date are classified as ‘BC’, OBC’, ‘MBC’s and has become the forefront wall to protect Brahmanism because of lack of their lost heritage due to ban on their literacy by Brahmanism. Later on Moolnivasi’s forefathers had to struggle hard to reunite Shudra folks but with the little bit of successes. In the current time Phule - Ambedkarite movement carried over by BAMCEF is in the process to permanently zap this Brahmanical social virus from the historical timeline.

Brahmins as a carrier of history never forget their heritage

Brahmins as progenitor of Brahmanical religion assigned themselves the work of imparting education to others and the performer of all kind of religious rituals. As a matter of their profession Brahmins have not forgot their identity and their heritage through the ages. Though the Shudras as a matter of total seclusion from literacy, misplaced both their identity and heritage. So whenever in the history any non Brahmanical political powers happened to come in India, Brahmins adopted that change and quietly kept on nurturing their basic instincts and preserved their heritage. Whenever they sense an opportunity in the history they further flourished with their preserved basic instincts and heritage. A Brahmin is a synonym of inequality, and a Brahmin remains a Brahmin irrespective of his conversion to other non Brahmanical ideologies. A Brahmin converts to other ideologies with their basic instincts with them.

Genetic ancestry of Brahmins

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com (April 01, 2008)

 

SUPREME COURT NOTICE TO ORISSA GOVT ON RELIEF TO CHRISTIAN VICTIMS OF SANGH VIOLENCE

Dr. John Dayal

Member: National Integration Council Government of India and National President: All India Catholic Union (Founded 1919), Secretary General: All India Christian Council (Founded 1999), President: United Christian Action, Delhi (Founded 1992)



New Delhi:- The Supreme Court of India has issued notice to the Government of Orissa and the District Collector of Kandhamal in a Special Leave Petition filed by the Human Rights Law Network and CLA on behalf of Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack Bhubaneswar.

The Supreme Court effectively stays the operation of an order by the District Collector of Kandhamal through which he banned Church relief to victims of the Christmas Week Sangh Parivar violence on Dalit and Tribal Christians of the central Orissa district. Over 100 churches, convents and seminaries were burnt, hundreds of houses destroyed and a
homeless 3,500 Christians forced into refugee camps after three days of burning and looting by Sangh gangs from 24th to 17th December 2008 .

Even now thousands of refugees are in the camps, devoid of decent good, clothes sand Medicare. The initial efforts of the church to bring relief to the refugees were thwarted when the Orissa High Court at Cuttack refused to stay the Collector's order. The All India Christians Council later filed a public interest writ petition and a Division bench headed by the Orissa Chief justice put a stay on the operation of the Collector's order. A small stream of assistance has now started to reach the Christian refugees who spent their Christmas in the forests, the Lenten season in refugee camps and Easter celebrations with bad government rations for food and illness in the camps.

.Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, who also heads the Human Rights Law Network, appeared in the matter. CLA lawyer members Mr. Manoj George, Ms. Lansinglu Rongmei, Mr. Vipin Benjamin, Mr. Pramod Singh, Mr. Alex Joseph, Sr. Mary Scaria, Mr. Rajiv Rufus and Ms. Tehmina Arora were also present in court.

The All India Christian Council, the All India Catholic Union and other Christian groups had earlier met the State Governor, Chief Minister and the Prime Minister and Home Minister of India requesting them to allow aid to the victims of the violence.

Narrating the events, the HRLN writ said the terror was so extreme that hundreds of families even to this day are hiding in the jungles for fear of being attacked. It said the approach of the State Administration as well as the Police appears to indicate that the communal organizations have the support of the State. Those participating in the brutal assaults are yet to be arrested and many of those arrested have been released on bail. In
many cases the victims themselves have been arrested in counter cases to deter the victims from pursuing the prosecution of the assailants.

The government is strangely silent and utterly inactive on this issue. No rehabilitation or relief policy has been announced. In very few cases compensation has been paid upto a maximum of Rs. 10,000. The conditions in these camps were appalling. Out of 3 camps some form of relief were provided only in 2 camps. Then out of 3 camps, 2 were closed. The condition in the remaining camp is awful without proper food, drinking water of medicines. 2 persons died in the relief camp due to lack of medical attention on 15 January 2008 .

As far as the provision of grain is concerned, a fraction of the persons affected were provided with grain as a one time measure and this grain supply has now been discontinued. In short the relief of the government appears to be at a standstill.

At the same time the communal elements are freely moving in the district, terrorizing the victims.

When the Church sought to reconstruct the churches and the houses that were destroyed, to their surprise they were prevented from doing so. Not only was that prevented from providing relief supplies to the victims. In fact the Collector made an order dated 11 January 2008 , which barred the archbishop from bringing relief's to his
community.

HRLN's writ said the State is inactive. The police are siding with the assailants. The communal elements are roaming free. And the victims are in a most pathetic state. In the Hon'ble High Court, the State Government took the side of the communal elements and suggested to the court that if relief work was carried out for the victims ill feelings would be created. Nothing could be further from the truth. To say that some persons would be upset because victims of a communal riot were getting relief is quite irrational to say the least, HRLN said. And if communal elements are upset because relief is being provided to the victims it is the duty of the State Government to keep such communal elements under control rather than use them to prevent relief reaching the victim community.

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com (April 20, 2008)

Recently a press release was issued by Hindu Council UK condemning the inclusion of caste in the latest Single Equality Bill which is being presented in the British Parliament. They have also claimed that there is no caste prevalent in the British Asian community and caste system was started by the foreign rulers in India . Federation of Ambedkarites & Buddhist Organisations, UK called a meeting in which members and representatives of various Ravidassi and Valmiki Communities were present. They jointly issued a press release "Response to the report ‘Caste System’ by the Hindu Council UK"

Forwarded by Mr. Arun Kumar UK (Prem Kumar Chumber, Editor:www.ambedkartimes.com)

Response to the report

‘Caste System’ by the Hindu Council UK

To provide a befitting response to HCUK’s misleading report on Caste Discrimination titled: ‘Caste System’ by Dr. Raj Pandit Sharma, a meeting was held at Ambedkar Centre, Southall , United Kingdom on Sunday 2nd March 2007 . It was attended by members of Valmiki Community, Ravidassi Community, Indian Christians and Indian Buddhists.

To oppose the forthcoming Single Equality Bill in British Parliament and the likely inclusion of caste based discrimination within it has triggered this unprecedented alarm among the Hindu fundamentalists. To nip the efforts of progressive British Members of

Parliament in the bud they have waged shameless onslaught on them and leveled baseless allegations of conversion of marginalized victims of Hindu caste discrimination onto Christianity and other religions.

Their very report has been so very prejudiced and full of absurdities that they have forgotten that the issues they have raised were effectively countered and dispelled by none other than the Architect of Indian Constitution, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar during his lifetime. It is the meek effort of HCUK to sell its ideas to the western world hoping that they would be digested without verification and scrutiny. Thanks to the Government of Maharashtra’s ( India ) initiative in publishing the writings and speeches of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar which are available on Ambedkar.org website wherein every point raised in

HCUK’s report has already been countered effectively and successfully. In their report, they have even gone ahead and produced a document in the name of Valmiki Sabha Southall which supposedly has endorsed HCUK’s view. By doing so, HCUK has exposed itself and its policy of ‘divide and rule’.

We would neither like to name nor shame the Hindu Council for producing this document as it has given us an opportunity to present the facts straight across to the British media to settle the age-old scores against the heinous practices of the caste ridden Hindu religion which has kept 250 million Indians away from enjoying basic human rights. The report has ascribed the ill-effects of caste discrimination existing in India unfortunately to British Raj and the various invasions and foreign rules in India forgetting that the basic scriptures of Hindu religion like Rig-Veda; Gita & Manusmiriti pre-date all foreign rules.

It was really not essential for them to have come out with a 30 page document as it could be reduced to not more than 3 pages; since it only projects their apprehensions on the proposed Single Equality Bill in the British parliament which could have far reaching impact of having its place in European Parliament and further in the United Nations as well. This is not only concerns Hindu Council UK but also the Hindu bureaucracy in the

Indian Government which has been consistently denying the caste discrimination existing in India to the enquiries made by United Nations. Caste has always been projected as the ‘internal’ and ‘cultural’ aspects of Hindu society; thus evading international scrutiny and examination.

Caste discrimination has neither been compared with apartheid by British MP’s nor by any other international communities but it has been unequivocally expressed by the present Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh on December 27, 2006 . The HCUK report has mentioned this fact without mentioning the Prime Minister’s name. HCUK shouldn’t really have gone for mudslinging against various organizations such as Dalit Solidarity Network UK and Caste Watch UK as these organizations have beyond doubt been instrumental in providing voice to 250 million people discriminated on the basis of caste in the Indian sub continent and in the UK . The HCUK having lived in this civilized country could have frankly accepted the responsibility of Hindu religion for the inhuman creation of caste system and been apologetic about its role in this practice. The meeting at Ambedkar Centre, Southall has constituted a committee which would carry out research and will come out with a full report in due course of time. This full report would inform the world once and for all unambiguously the nefarious designs of spreading disinformation and hiding facts that Hindu Council UK has employed.

UK government should in fact take an initiative and have implementation of the General recommendation XXIX of The United Nations CERD’s (Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) in order to prohibit and eliminate Caste discrimination effectively. This should be in furtherance of its commitment to elimination of slavery 200 years ago.

We take this opportunity to inform British Parliamentarians that let the good sense prevail in supporting our cause to include caste discrimination in the forthcoming Single Equality Bill.

Contact: ·

Chanan Chahal, President, F.A.B.O. , UK . Phone: 01745582703, Email: cchahal@talktalk.net ·

M. S. Bahal, Phone: 07714324223, Email: msbahal@hotmail.com

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com (April 01, 2008)

The Legend of Tejinder Singh Sibia

(From left to right) Mr. Tejinder Sibia, Mr. Tejinder Sibia with his wife Manjit Kaur Sibia and Tejinder Sibia is seen with Hon. Dave Jones - Assembly member, State of California IVQACC picnic August 2007.

By Dr. Amrik Singh from Sacramento

Email: amrik15@msn.com

Isabel Garcia, 73, was expecting a phone call from Tejinder Singh Sibia (Ted Sibia) when she noticed his obituary in Sacramento Bee on March 9, 2008. “I hated him to go and leave us profoundly shocked.” Daughter of Mr. Memel Singh, a Punjabi Pioneer who came to the US in 1906, and Isabel Singh Garcia acknowledged that she was rich with history because “Ted restored our Mexican Punjabi identity to us and researched on the narrative of the lost race. I am afraid the new generation of Punjabis isn’t interested in us any more.” Mrs. Garcia regretted that Ted didn’t live to see the museum to honor Punjabi pioneers in Sutter County. Sibia was advisor to Punjabi American Heritage Society that according to Dr. Jasbir Singh Kang is in the fourth of five phases of Museum’s completion.Tejinder Sibia will be known as one of the stalwarts who modeled core values of Punjabi culture during his most rewarding career in the US. A strong gathering of more than 400 in North Sacramento Funeral Home at El Camino and at Sikh Gurdwara, West Sacramento on March 9, 2008 was unanimous in recognizing Mr. Tejinder Sibia’s monumental contribution in enhancing historical, cultural and linguistic awareness of Punjabis in American society. He loved his circle of friends as much as he loved his family. He touched hearts of young men and women who looked upon him as their mentor and perennial source of inspiration. As a boss, he is remembered as the most benevolent, approachable and entertaining. Irwin Weintraub ( Brooklyn, NY) reminisces the time at Virginia Tech during 1973-77 as “blessed to have Ted as my supervisor.” Charlie Priore ( Kengon, MN) recalls Mr. Sibia during 1980-84 at UC Davis, “His wisdom and mentoring have followed me all of my many years after leaving.” Similar messages have been recorded by David Washburn and Carrie Rushby (Cascade, ID) who happened to work under Ted’s supervision. Mr. Sibia migrated to the US in 1960 after graduating from PAU Ludhiana. Born in August, 1937 in Killa Raipur, Ted seemed to have imbibed the spirit of sportsmanship in the serene environments of his village, known as the site of historic rural Olympics. He worked hard to earn master's degrees in horticulture at Kansas State University and library science at Emporia State University in Kansas . Mr. Sibia headed Shield Library, Research Unit of Biology and Agriculture at the University of California , Davis . Community events were vital source of his high-spiritedness. One month before his death, on February 3, 2008, Ted made sure that he didn’t miss honoring of Dr. David Hosley, Emeritus President and General Manager of PBS/KVIE TV Channel 6 for the production of “Sikhs in America .” The picture of the event at Gurdwara West Sacramento was taken by him and widely published in various newspapers. His article “Immortal Komagata Maru” in Pioneer Asian Immigration to the Pacific Coast throws light on his profound psychological bonding with Punjabi pioneers who in spite of unbearable sufferings kept the flame of India ’s freedom burning. His website www.sikhpioneers.org makes accessible to researchers rare documents of historical importance. How he collected artifacts from now isolated Mexican Punjabi families, is subject of another story. As a member of Kohinoor Club, Mr. Sibia was an asset to the institution. Mr. Sibia supported efforts of the community to introduce Sikh history in California school textbooks. He often accompanied Dr. Onkar Singh Bindra for lobbying to introduce teaching of Punjabi in schools and colleges. Ted was instrumental in starting Punjabi at Sacramento City College. Dr. Jasbir Singh Kang remembered that Mr. Sibia was the first to organize cultural events under the banner of Punjabi Cultural society in 1970-80. Mrs. Manjit Sibia wife of Mr. Sibia said that he established liaison with Asians like Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese to build a senior center for the community. He loved counseling young boys and girls to make them proud of their identities. Sukh Chain Singh one of his closest friends shared with the community his last meeting with Ted that touched everybody’s heart. Mr. Singh told that his last wish was that since he had had a wonderful life and enjoyed love and gratitude of his friends, he wanted that his funeral and memorial service (Bhog) should take place on the same day. Tejinder didn’t want his friends to put to any inconvenience. He got ready for his death the way he would get ready with a smile for attending social events. Ted appeared to be fully in control of events that were related with his last rites.

Revised & re-posted on www.ambedkartimes.com ( March 26, 2008 )Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com ( March 22, 2008 )

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Tejinder S. Sibia indeed was the soul of the community. The Sacramento Bee’s Guestbook for Ted Sibia reminds us how high his stature in the community was. The Guestbook will remain online for a year. http://www.legacy.com/SacBee/GB/GuestbookView.aspx?PersonId=105255676 The entry by young Riars is one of heartfelt ovations to Mr Tejinder Singh Sibia’s legendary life lived for others.

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Ode to Uncle Ji


To the heavens you must depart, leaving behind broken hearts;
Lost is now a husband, father, and good friend, he stayed strong until the end
A proud member of our community, who lived life with so much glee
A smile on his face with his infamous "Hey!" would spread laughter without delay
A punctual man, always on time, a man of his word, a man who was kind.
His life was once shattered with the loss of his son;
He picked up the pieces and was able to continue on.
Despite the burden, hardship and strife
He had a wonderful passion for life.

Navi, Navreen, Junior Riar (Antelope, CA)

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com ( March 22, 2008 )

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MR. SIBIA WAS GREAT PERSONALITY

Dear Editor Ji,

Jai Gurdev! Mr. Sibia was a great personality. His service to the community will be remembered for long time. In year, 2004 Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha ( Vancouver ) organized a function dedicated to Babu Mangoo Ram Muggowalia Ji. After visiting the site, http://www.sikhpioneers.org/famous.html, I noticed that something was missing there. That was Babu Mangoo Ram Muggowalia's name from that site. I e-mailed Mr. Sibia and requested him to include Babu Mangoo Ram MuggowaliaJi's name and write something about him. In a day or two, he had that information on the site and he had informed by e-mail. Mr. Sibia will be greatly missed.

Tej Pal Gangar Muggowalia (Canada)

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com ( March 24, 2008 )

 

 

Whither Went Sovereignty?” Debated


 


Dr. Amrik Singh (From
Sacramento , California )

Indian Government‘s Blue Start operation created a turmoil in Sikhs’ relationship with the Indian nation state. If 9/11 attack on twin towers rocked the whole world especially the western , in the same way Indian military raid on Harmandir Sahib(Golden Temple) precipitated an upheaval in Sikhs’ socio-political world. These were the views expressed by Ajmer Singh author of two books on the twentieth century polity of the Sikhs. While defending his argument in his famous book “Whither went Sovereignty?” the author Ajmer Singh asserted that June, 1984 was a defining chapter in the history of the estranged community. Sikh Information Center arranged a discussion on his books in the new conference hall of West Sacramento Sikh Gurudwara on 12 January 2008 . About a hundred members of the community and dozens of intellectuals took part in the discussion and debated the position taken by the author...

Dwelling on two Sikh holocausts and four invasions on Harmandir Sahib in eighteenth century, Ajmer distinguished Blue Star relatively as a highly organized incursion to devastate the whole community. According to the author, it has become necessary to analyze the situation after Blue Star as it has been eating into the vitals of the community. The failure to do so by Sikh intelligentsia, opines Mr. Singh, has created a sense of uncertainty, confusion and divisiveness. Giving an analogy of primaries for the US presidential election, he said that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tear droplets could be both interpreted as her pain for the country or merely a pretext to win the election. Similarly, he welcomed different interpretations of his arguments ruling out the singularity of opinions.

The paradigmatic shift produced by June, 1984 will render conceptual structures of previous knowledge as redundant. The author emphatically asserted that Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale stood by what he preached. His insistence on shaping Sikh identity raised awareness among Sikhs for a life of freedom and dignity. The resounding victory of Congress in parliamentary election in 1985 was predicated on what happened in Amritsar . The Indian nation acquired a new Hindutva identity by making Sikhs as scapegoats. Multi-national character of the Indian state was compromised.

Ajmer Singh upheld that Sikhs are a separate nation. Though it cannot be denied that they mostly came from Hindus, however, they are a generation apart in their beliefs. The strength of Hindu Varna system can never be the backbone of Sikh theological view. Brahminical attitude may be tolerant, yet when challenged, can unleash violence. Sikhs have a right to differ with the mainstream Hindu thought and seek their emancipation from its subjugating structures.

Ajmer Singh said that there is a hidden genocidal impulse in the Hindu belief system and congratulated the Sikh community for rejecting it. He pointed out that when Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale had slightly hinted at direct action, even then the majority of Sikhs used restraint and did not participate in any civil strife. After the assassination of Indira Gandhi while Sikhs were targeted in Delhi and other cities, Sikhs in Punjab did not fight in streets. However, he regretted that Sikhs became instruments of evil design during partition riots. Ajmer Singh expressed his horror had Sikh militancy succeeded in wresting power as disorganized and devoid of Sikh vision it had been.

In the ensuing discussion, Baldev Singh who often writes for www.Sikhspectrum.com, applauded Ajmer Singh for holding on to his arguments. Wadhava Singh argued that Sikhs were being attacked indirectly through the agency of people like Gurmeet Ram Rahim. Gurdial Singh argued that Sikhs would remain a part of Hindus so long they believed in caste system. The curse of the caste would reverse any progress made by them. He pointed out to the deterioration in morals. He was, however, skeptical about any improvement in the near future. While answering questions raised by the audience, Ajmer Singh asked why no Dalit was ever allowed to contest from a general quota seat? Sikhs should have created such examples to get rid of the century old caste system. Dr. Amrik Singh referred to some of the questions raised by Dr. Jaspal Singh in his review of Ajmer Singh’s books. He also commented that Sikhs had not yet fully understood the colonialism that was mainly responsible for subjugating them. In the modern times, they have to grasp the process of globalization and their transnational identity to fully integrate into the postmodern societies. Sarbjit Singh sought clarifications on Sikhs’ observance of caste system and their failure to extricate themselves from its morass. Gurbakshish Singh of “India Spices” also raised interesting questions. Bhajan Singh Bhinder conducted the stage very well.

The audience vehemently cheered the speakers and showed their appreciation for a lively discussion.

West Sacramento Gurudwara President Balbir Singh Dhillon, Revered Wadhawa Singh Gill, trustee Dr. Onkar Singh Bindra and Mrs. Bindra, Dr. Pargat Singh Hundal, S. Kuldeep Singh, Er. Jatinder Singh Hundal, Bhai Ranjit Singh and associates were some of the prominent personalities among the audience.

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com ( January 18, 2008 )

 

Women Respect Day: Savitri Bai Phule's birthday

IN REMEMBRANCE

National Women Respect Day


Savitri Bai Phule

Krantijyoti Savitri Bai Phule was born on 3rd January 1831 in OBC Mali (gardener) caste in Pune (Maharashtra). She was the real ideal of liberation for Indian women. She was the first female teacher, educationist, poet and the foremost emancipator of women in Indian History. She had written five books which reflected her humanitarian approach against patriarchal caste system. She was the first modern Indian woman who destroyed traditional and patriarchal brahminical social-order.

Adopting teaching as a social duty, the champion Krantijyoti Savitri Bai Phule continued to impart education not only to attract us towards rational education but also to emancipate from brahminical mental slavery. As we know that Indian society has been governed for hundred years ago by Manusmiriti, Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagwad Geeta etc. The so called scriptures which consider women as outcaste, source of sorrow, disgusted, as a selling-goods, and gateway of hell. In Rig-Veda, woman is considered as dukh ki khaan (source of sorrow), in Mahabharata women were used to keep as a stake in gamble as Pandva’s did their wife Dhropdi, in Ramayana the so called Maryada Purshyottam Ram kicked out his pregnant wife Sita from his palace, and in Bhagwad Geeta, self claimed God Krishna comments on women as calling them narak ka dwar (gateway of hell). Thus, these brahmanical texts made the women condition worst than Shudras. According to Manusmiriti, when women began to pursue education by breaking brahmnical social order (Caste System) that would be Kaliyuga (the Degraded Era)

First, in the mid 19th century Savitri Bai Phule implicit this conspiracy of suppression and politics of sidelining women from the education that was in reality to continue their mental slavery. Against hosts of odds she boldly attacked the stronghold of the so called brahmins, who prevented others from having access to all the avenues of knowledge. She denounced them as cheats and hypocrites. She organized the untouchables and women to lead the Anti-caste movement with the help of her husband Rastrapita Jotirao Phule. In 1851, she opened a first school for the untouchables and women in Indian history with the principle to educate all of them. Getting annoyed from her efforts for women liberation, so called high caste Hindus ostracized and demolished her house at once. With her husband, she revolted against the priesthood hegemony and brahmanical system (Caste System) of supremacy with a deep sense of commitment in all spheres of life. Her activities were not confined to education alone; she also strived to emancipate women from the evils of the society like satipratha, child marriage etc and supported widow remarriages and inter-caste marriages. At that time, these all women problems were facing by upper caste women. Even it was problem of Brahmin women, Savitri Bai Phule fought for their liberation. Moreover, on that time Brahmin widow’s pregnancy became the major problem in Brahmin community itself which was against caste system, therefore she established “the House for Illegitimate Children and their Mothers” which shows her humanitarian approach towards all human beings.

Distortion of Real History by Manuvadi Writers: On this memorable Women Respect Day which is celebrated in memory of Savitri Bai Phule’s birthday is not recognized by patriarchal mind set people and its government in India. This insincerity is not odd for Bahujan masses as we know that history is always written by them who are in power; the real players are kept always as subject of darkness and un-recognition in the ruling literature. It is ironical that this Manuvadi society never accepts the contribution of backward class women in Indian society. It can be said that all literature and history is nothing but documents of so called heroic saga of patriarchal greed and brahmanical values because there has not been mentioned the contribution of Backward Class Women like Savitribai Phule, Jhalkaribai, Ahilyabai Holkar and Uda Devi etc. These reactionaries never remember revolutionary role of Savitri Bai Phule who dared to break patriarchal caste system. In this Manuvadi society, the history of Bahujans (who are real claimant of power in democracy) is being shadowed deliberately. This is all well planned to suppress women and backward communities to prevent any awareness of education among them and make them hegemonies easily in absence of power of knowledge. Here, it is our duty to follow our greatest ancestor Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar’s guideline in which he said "those who forget history, they cannot create history." So, for us the clear guideline is to dig out hidden history to debunk the face of Manuvadi writers in general and historians in particular of ruling class to build the confidence and self respect among the Bahujan masses.

In Indian history, Savitri Bai Phule is the biggest ideal female character to be followed by the Bahujan. It is the conspiracy of Manuvadi ideal to keep the contribution of Savitri Bai Phule under the carpet so that the Bahujan masses should not get enlightened and remain as mental slaves by worshipping unqualified Saraswati as a source of education. If it is not so, where she had studied? Why did Saraswati never speak even about the need to give education to women? How is it that the so called source of education is she an illiterate woman! In real sense, the contribution of Saraswati vidhya ki devi (goddess of education) is nothing, and what an unfortunate! That our educated student community follows it blindly!!! Even in last year so called Leftist, Rightist and other brahmnical organization celebrated 1857 mutiny on grand level and they focused on Jhashiki Lakshimibai because she was so called upper caste but they don’t want to remember Savitri Bai Phule. As well as they used to celebrate Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan’s birth day as ‘Teachers Day’ who favored Varna and Caste system but these so called progressive ideologists don’t celebrate Savitribai’s birth day who was the first female teacher and opened first women school.

Krantijyoti Savitri Bai Phule understood well the importance of education, usually stressed priority of the women education (including Brahmin women) rather than others because women can liberate two families firstly in which she is brought up and secondly, after marriage in the family she goes to. From her work, one can comprehend that she was true and practical in her deeds, not merely rhetoric like present chatter box feminist intellectuals who speak a lot but do nothing. Her husband Jotirao Phule created an example at his home by educating her and opened a girls' school in August 1848. Due to his revolutionary step, no teacher dared to work in this school. In such circumstance, Rastrapita Phule asked his wife to teach the girls in this school. Many times stones, brickbats, and dungs were thrown at her but she kept on teaching them. She used to carry two Saris with her, when she was on her way to teach in the school because people used to throw dung on her. Seeing the growing awareness among Bahujans, reactionary Brahmin leaders like B G Tilak, Vishnushastri Chiplunkar, and other so called nationalist leaders became angry and began a vicious campaign against them, but Savitri Bai and Jotirao Phule damned it and continued with their work to achieve the goal of casteless society.

Thus, Savitri Bai and Jotirao Phule’s caravan was later run by their great successor Babasaheb Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar. His efforts to liberate women can be seen in many provisions incorporated in Indian Constitution and his struggle to pass Hindu Code Bill in 1951 in Indian parliament to bring women in the various fields which were shattered by the Congress Party’s manuwadi parliamentarians and other manuvadi mindset citizens.

It was the efforts of Savitri Bai Phule, the women are now getting opportunity to participate in various field. Even in 21st century women are still struggling against patriarchical caste system to achieve their natural rights. Thus, it is need of modern era to follow the path of Savitri Bai to create a casteless society where men and women would be equal.

Thus, with this message we salute the greatest Krantijyoti!

Jai Bhim! Jai Bharat!

Dated: 3rd January 2008, JNU, New Delhi-67

Yours in Mission
Kshipra, Monika, Kanchan, Poonam, Pragati, Shivshankar, Santosh, Ajay, Chunnu, Amardeep, Jaideep, Naresh, Ravi, D.R.Gautam, Vijay and many others.

Posted on January 10, 2008


 

Sikhs, Swamis, Students and Spies
The India lobby in the United States, 1900-1946.

By Harold A. Gould
460 pp. Sage Publications.

Book Review by


Dr. Amrik Singh (Sacramento California)

Harold A Gould’s book, Sikhs, Swamis, Students, And Spies: The India Lobby in the United States 1900-1946 is a landmark study of pioneers’ quest for freedom, love and justice both in lands of their birth and the lands they bowed to make green. Their contribution, according to Gould, will remain exceptional in the annals of history. Their dream of undivided India, though, could not become a reality due to the inept handling, yet their extraordinary role in becoming catalytic agent of change would alter our perception. Gould focuses on 1900-1946 period to dig out the truth behind the British’s eviction from India. His narrative flows uninterrupted through out 460 pages, mainly because he avoids hot spots of controversies for a more authentic account. Unlike most post-independence Indian historians, Gould constructs a comprehensive image of Ghadrites in championing the cause of freedom. Obstacles in the way to attain citizenship roused their ire creating a response that ironically advanced the cause of civil rights on both sides of the globe.

The author clearly explains how a small community of not more than 5000-6000 in 1910-20, had originally conceived a dream of claiming their country from clutches of the colonialists. In their monumental efforts, they struggled on behalf of then 260 million Indians who were being magnetized and mesmerized with glamour and glitz of colonial lifestyles. Pioneers’ lobbying efforts promoted the cause of freedom in American media, academia, and the society. The armed incursion of revolutionaries, though, suffered many jolts as British intelligence had made deep inroads into the very heart of Ghadr, however, it fueled the imagination of Indians to explore possibilities of free India. The title of the book, in fact, is a quip of Lala Hardyal who used it to categorize Indians in America as Sikhs, Swamis, Students and spies; it is so apt and apposite to the subject matter that it holds readers’ interest until the end.

The main plot revolves round Ambassador William Phillips’s assignment to India and his highly confidential report on British Raj’s hollowness and callousness in suppressing the voice of freedom and jeopardizing ongoing war efforts. Through his private report, Phillips urged the President Franklin D. Roosevelt to take action against the British in view of the common agenda adopted by allies in World War II. Since the lobbyists had sympathizers in the US state department, the confidential letter to the President found its way in the most popular column of the Washington Post. Drew Pearson’s “The Washington Merry-Go-Round” created a rift right in the middle of World War II. Who had leaked the information to the press? Gould reveals the name for the first time in the book under review.

The book has been dedicated to Professor I. Crane (1922-97) whose name is linked for the first time to the greatest mystery in the state department leakage case of 1943 to one of the columnists of the Washington Post. This disclosure hit hard at the British’s orchestrated campaign of constructing myths in America about benevolence of the British Raj. J.J. Singh, who was known as ‘one-man lobby’ and a genius of public relations among his American sympathizers, had worked hard to advertise Indian freedom movement. The author comments that firebrand leader like Lala Har Dyal though provided organizational support initially, yet could not manage to run the affairs for long due to British operatives’ threat. However the recruits mostly Sikhs, some Hindus and Muslims as well stood trial and some achieved martyrdom as wages for their allegiance. Professor Crane says about Sikhs: “They were all patriots and wanted India to be free, but they also wanted American citizenship.”

The intertwined motif of ending discrimination on the basis of race made pioneers willing partners in fight to the finish. The struggle for freedom starting in 1900 in North America continued with the same fervor though different routes had to be followed for achieving results. After the First World War, Punjabi pioneers’ influence looked unstoppable as they had 122,000 acreage in their possessions. Immigration & Naturalization Services’ decision to challenge the verdict of a district court in the US Supreme Court won support of Anglo Americans as a deterrent measure. Their main angst was pioneers’ unquenchable thirst for agricultural lands. The British Raj succeeded in convincing US government to try in court of law all revolutionaries for conspiring an armed incursion with money pumped by imperial Germany. The trials, according to Gould, were a media circus. “It lasted 155 days; cost the US government $450, 000 and the British government 2.5 million. The amount the British spent is obviously a measure of how threatening they believed Ghadr, in concert with the German enemy, had become.” In trials, the British had a motive for using American media for stereotyping ‘Hindoos’ as people of violent and criminal bent of mind. The phenomenal amount of dollar spending to suppress a small group of radicals through infiltration on the one hand and to egg on non-violent movement involving a larger population was the only course left to sidetrack barrels of guns from faces of Raj’s custodians.

In the 47 years of journey, Ghadr pioneers and their friends continued financial, moral and nationalistic support to the lobbyists. The median income of Indian Americans in 2005 is over $60.000 per annum, according to Gould, higher than any other minority group. Sufferings and energies of Sohan Singh Bhakna, Har Dayal, Taraknath Das, Syud Hossain, Anup Singh, Sridharani, JJ Singh, the Sikh leaders on the Pacific Coast, and so many others like Professor Robert Crane made it possible. The tenacity of their purpose and steady financial support won a badge of American citizenship when President Harry S. Truman signed ‘Celler-Luce Bill’ on July 2, 1946. The relief applied to all people of the Indian subcontinent. Gould emphasizes that isolating Ghadr from the latter-day campaigns will result in belittling its historical role. Gould opines, “The intellectuals were especially crucial in developing the various organizations that promoted political awareness and provided framework for collective action. Ghadr was a classic manifestation of this fateful conjecture, as were the organizations that followed, such as the Friends for Freedom of India, the India League of America, the Indian Chamber of Commerce of America, and the National Committee for Indian Freedom, the India Welfare League, etc.”

The armed invasion for liberation fantasized by Ghadrites may look a mere figment of imagination today, but for British intelligence it was a big plot to single out and dispatch white people from India. The interception of a ship, Henry S loaded with 5000 pistols at the sea was though a major success of the British intelligence, yet it spread panic among whites. The great enthusiasm of revolutionaries had stunned the ruling minority of India. The intelligence planned to create a counter political movement that might be not only culturally savvy and socially well-liked, but also damaging to the radicals. The double edged sword fashioned by master minds of the British intelligence both worked to decimate the influence of radicals in India as well as in the US. The main goal of underground operatives was to send early signals of an impending uprising.
Lobbyists’ efforts definitely increased American intervention in forcing the British to leave India. The President Harry S. Truman’s declaration of citizenship to Indians in 1946, in fact, was the precursor to India’s liberation in 1947. It is a different matter though colonialism continued in post-independent era in different indigenous forms. This could have been the only reason that Indian successive governments became apathetic to the demand of erecting a commemorative structure for Ghadr martyrs.

Sage Publication has done a good job except for errors in Professor l. Crane’s year of birth. Readers won’t know which one is right— 1920, 1922 and 1927.

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com (December 20, 2007)

 

AAJA SOCHLE…

Nageswara Rao Thamanam
Chittibabu Padavala

Media representations and intellectual responses to the controversy around a line in the title track of movie Aaja Nachle have been short-sighted and narrow-minded. The haste with which the Media hushed up the matter and precluded the possible and necessary discussion was partly due to its inability to differentiate this particular dispute from the generalized atmosphere of intolerance ever since Hindutva turned main stream in Indian politics. Media chose to consider the matter closed as soon as the filmmakers apologized and offered to remove the objected stanza and the UP government lifted the ban on the movie. None of the notorious faults of Media - sensationalism, superficiality, preference to profit over ethics, unprofessionalism etc - seem to have influenced the Media's unanimous abortive act of silencing. It is also surprising that none of the TV channels used the opportunity to show the much hyped re-appearance of Madhuri Dixit ad nauseam - the way it exploited the controversies involving Rakhi Sawant or Shilpa Shetty for prurient ends. None of the mainstream English dailies deemed it worth publishing an editorial or analytical essay on this matter. No other usual arguments we are accustomed to hear and read whenever claims are made about the hurt feelings, sentiments or sensibilities of a section or a community appeared either on TV or in news papers. None defended the freedom of artistic expression of the lyricist nor did anybody denounce the objected lines. Apologies rendered by the individuals responsible for the line or by the censor board are also vague to say the least, yet further questioning is not allowed in the media. The apologies simply said that they did not mean to hurt anybody and if anybody's feelings were hurt they would apologize for 'it.' It appears as though they were apologizing for somebody else getting hurt and not because they were in anyway responsible for that. It is an absurd gesture of apologizing for somebody else's actions or feelings. It is not a simple case of a clueless fumbling of the responsible persons in the face of an unexpected crisis. They were apologizing for their lines being objected not because they agree that they were objectionable. The inability or unwillingness to address the agitators as Dalits or Dalit organizations is noteworthy. Even when Dalit organizations could succeed in making their objections heard and responded to, they could not be spoken to in their specificity. The Dalits were, once again, reduced to a faceless "anybody." Anyway, everybody including Mayawati appeared to be in a hurry to silence the matter.

What is surprising in this is the complete lack of interest on everybody's part in the content and meaning of the disputed lines, except, of course, agitating Dalit organizations. Not even the Mayawati's government and a handful of state governments that followed her example said anything about the meaning of the disputed lines of the lyric. It is not that the meaning or depiction of a disputed artwork is important to understand the conflict; quite the contrary is true in most of the cases. The lyric says that there was anarchy because even a person of cobbler-caste origin was claiming that he was from goldsmith-caste. Insult is obvious enough. You don't have to be a mochi to see the indecency or at least bad taste in this attempted native humor. We all have seen how TV channels thoughtlessly showed the paintings by Chandra Mohan and earlier M.F. Hussein and how such presentation of "facts" or "causes" actually strengthened the case of the Hindutva goons rather than exposing them. Inexplicably, in this case, Media behaved differently. Ironically enough, both Mayawati and the other state governments that banned the film echoed what the lyric- though in a different register- said: it was a question of 'order,' they were banning the movie, the state governments claimed, to prevent 'law and order' problem. Perhaps, Mayawati government was sensible or shrewd enough to say only this much to avoid legal complications or prevent moviemaker to move the court. But nothing should have stopped Media from analyzing this dispute. Usual assertions like: 'I don't like that particular writer's or painter's work but I defend his or her right to write or paint' were simply not heard in this dispute. On the contrary, what happened was: I don't know nor I want to know what wrong I have done but I apologize for it. It is not just because a business of millions was at stake. One way of reading the quickness and thoughtlessness with which apologies were offered was to see it as a result of correct appreciation of the intolerant atmosphere in which if the grievance-claims are allowed to be baseless, so be apologies to them. We argue that our public sphere does not have to be seen as a jungle raj yet and in fact we have a very promising antidote in the form of lower-caste assertion. The culture of subjectivization, privatization and fragmentation of sensibilities could that renders the need for public debate, objective verification and contestation unnecessary could be defeated by a new cultural revolution whose seeds could be found in the aborted discussion on the lines of film song in a commercial movie.

First, we need to de-contextualize the controversy and then re-contextualize it. The immediate precedents to the controversy around Aaaja Nachle, the repeated attacks and persecution of Tasleema Nasrin and Hindutva's attacks on various forms of free speech and expression are neither similar nor connected to the objection Dalit organizations raised against a line in this song. While the other cases of purported wounded feelings were claims based on religion, Dalits' objection is self-evidently secular and in fact, anti-religious. What Piyush Misra wrote is well within the framework of Hinduism and actually it mildly, humorously mentions what Gita and other sacred texts insist on much more blatantly. In protesting the lyric, Dalits are fighting against the dogmas of both religion and caste. It should have been seen as a great opportunity for enlightenment but was suppressed by media and intelligentsia as an embarrassment.

This may raise the objection that giving enough or excessive importance to the Dalit objection, however justified it may be, only adds to the list of alarmingly proliferating claims of hurt sensibilities and thus constitute a danger to free thought and expression. It is our contention that the opposite is true and that this controversy opens up a new potential and possibility for permanently silencing some of the most successful techniques of Hindutva and greatly enriches our unfinished project of enlightenment. One of them is the seemingly invincible strategy of Hindutva (and other communalist) propaganda and attention-grabbing through a collapse of fields. They expose a secluded sphere like art-world with its protected codes and values of acceptability to the public gaze and force a public comment building on thus generated shock among the public. Whenever they argue against an artwork (avant-garde art or some passages from a novel) they are bound to win the sympathy of the people. Governments are not only accepting such arguments but also making such claims themselves- Narendra Modi and Buddhadeb being recent examples. How to fight such (none) argument? Definitely not by counter-arguments alone!

Imagine a situation where Dalits agitating against public celebration of Rama on the grounds that the killer of Shambuka can't be venerable or opposing any act of veneration of gita because it humiliates the "lower" castes. Such a situation would surely increase tensions and conflicts. But it seems to us that our society needs to painstakingly go through the whole process of reestablishing the principle of co-existence of multiple, incompatible and conflicting beliefs- including their expression. It is only in this way the all too frequently forgotten fact that we are all legally bound by the constitution and not by any other texts, however sacred believers may deem them to be and should a conflict arise the constitution must have the final say.
Similar counter-move could be discerned in the lower-caste assertion against the communal claims about the past injustices. It is only with Dalits talking about the injustices they suffered, the Hindutva would be forced to shun another of its standard technique of collapsing the past and present. If media unilaterally and unanimously did not suppress the debate on the disputed song it would have started a veritable cultural revolution in our public sphere. It would have encouraged Dalits and other victims of Hinduism to point many more insults and exclusions naturalized in our language, symbols, traditions and even our ideals. It would have forced the entire public discourse to unlearn most of it and rebuild a new public language. This might at first glance appear like a recipe for multiplication of violence rather than a way to mitigate the "competing intolerances." But, is there any better alternative to defeat the potential formation of a Hindutva majority, which alone could perpetrate genocides and probably unleash a nuclear war.

Given the near inevitable Lower-Caste march to political power across many parts of the country, we require a viable and sensible cultural counter-part to such a political change. This alone could allow us confront the unavoidable emporia of lower-caste capture of political power and emerge from it with least damage and sacrifices: a sad truth of our default democracy is an inverted political culture where stable access to rights is available only to those who enjoy them as privileges or in a limited way, by virtue of being unavailable to or outside of the infrastructural or bio-political reach of the state. Not placing or developing a cultural apparatus to symbolically enact the already-started transfer, transformation and take-over of political power is left with only one means to convince itself and others of its empowerment: violence. It is here we could sense two dangers of most potent kind. A new gulf between powers is emerging instead of a separation of powers between the political and cultural, with the attending mutual suspicion. With the cultural and representational realms refusing to come out of their self-righteous solipsism and newly empowering sections suspecting the cultural and representational spheres as something to be defeated or neglected rather than won over, this mutual distrust may lead to a reciprocal impoverishment resulting in conflicting infirmities of a powerless culture and cultureless power. One desirable solution to this impending crisis is the emergence of a plethora of alternatives and a corresponding revamp of our cultural and representational sphere. But what is being attempted by the timed out but not yet abdicated or dethroned cultural forces is suicidal. They are evermore frantically holding fast to their old ways. It could safeguard its decencies only by purging itself of some of the inhuman suppressions it is based on. The death warrant to dialogue is to refuse to listen to the hitherto silenced suffering and grievances in the initial phase of their assertion of empowerment. Those not tasted the fruits of dialogue and argument may not continue to valorize the communicative rationality even after assuming the power. Second danger is the over use of a peripheral form of power, media, to ethno-centric propaganda. It is going to backfire in unpredictable ways. Power is not just functional or rather it has cultural functions too. If the only option for the lower castes to assert themselves in the representational and cultural fields is to translate everything into the prevailing dominant code, it surely fails for the simple reason that self-negation can't be a workable mode of assertion. Media utterly failed to see all of it if it bothered to reflect on what kinds of changes are necessary in the wake of ongoing restructuring the political power. Instead, the Media Dalitized the caste, communalized the idea of Dalit, ignored or suppressed a budding cultural criticism, viewed it as a problem and not as a potential solution, privatized and subjectivized the very issue of dignity.

It did not occur to any channel or news paper to ask the filmmakers or intellectuals what they thought about the controversial stanza. Much deeper malady that made all of these omissions or diversions possible was the dominant and Left-sponsored conception of the communal. It typically sees both religion and caste as essentially similar. To be sure, they have identical features but not functions are potentials. Religion and caste could both turn fascist. But, Hindu religion alone could be mobilized to establish a fascist system in India, as Nehru clearly saw it. So far the most recalcitrant hurdle to Hindutuva has been the so-called casteist forces in India. To be sure, both forms of social bonding- caste and religion- are essentially irrational and therefore similar. But, only religion could forge a majority in our polity while caste is inherently immune from that danger.

The reality of caste is to be honestly recognized, acknowledged and squarely confronted rather than continuing with hypocritical denial or naïvely believing in 'disappearing' the caste by not seeing it. We further argue that we should blunt the deadly force of caste by trivializing it through overuse. However, it is likely that the media and film industry would draw the wrong conclusion from this controversy with its spill-over effects on the whole of public discourse: avoiding any mention of caste at all. This only helps support or fail to critique the perpetuation of caste based oppression, atrocities, discrimination and exclusion. What is needed is a sensitization towards caste not the sanitization of it from popular culture. Confronting an issue involves the risk of erring by and in handling it. Unwillingness to take the risk of talking about caste and also being open to criticism and correction is surely cowardice at best and arrogance at worst. Unless the cultural and intellectual corollary to the process of 'the mochis coming to power' is systematically organized, the reversals in the political field are not going to mark much civilization advance.

So far, the attitude towards Dalit expression on the part of the state, media and intelligentsia is one of what we call, a "stigmatizing concession." If at all the dominant cultural and political forces are willing to accept or allow something to what Dalits want or do, they do it by naming and framing it in a demeaning way. We have seen the sleight of hand by which rights of Dalits were degraded as acts and policies of charity through the mediating term of Welfare even before much comprehensive attack on all forms of welfare began with the Liberalization. Similarly, when Dalits (shamefully, only Dalits) object to an insult it is reduced to a concession in the face of threats of violence. Here is a curious reversal: the very act of conceding is simultaneously a degradation of the same. Allowing and granting a state of affairs is deprived here the dignity of becoming reality and acquire naturality but permanently locked up in the framework of an oddity or a compulsion.

In this case, listening to Dalit organizations effectively reduced to appeasing a claimed hurt of a perceived insult. With these double disclaimers, the possibility of opposing an act of insult without being hurt is criminally lost. You can oppose an act of public insult without being hurt because you believe that there is certain decorum to public discourse. Not many actions and expressions are worthy of our emotional responses. We deem them beneath our dignity to feel insulted by them but still we must oppose them. Nearly every atheist outraged when Babri Masjid was brought down and argues for restoring it not because her religious sentiments were hurt. We do so not on the grounds of our wounded feelings or sentiments but to sustain the decency of the public sphere. Getting hurt at somebody's gestures still constitutes certain granting of seriousness to their acts or words. Not all of them deserve this dignity yet we can and must oppose when they vitiate the public domain. This crucial distinction is necessary to de-psychologies the grievances and put them back to the scrutiny of public reason through dialogic procedure. This is why Dalits and the Left should take up the critique of the scandalous lines in this film song this issue as part of larger cultural agenda. Otherwise, it would look odd that in a country where an atrocity against Dalits is perpetrated for every 18 minutes and 3 Dalit women are raped every day, we are writing an article on a deleted line in a film song!

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com (December 13, 2007)

 


Dr. P. D. Satya Pal and
Dr. Manisha Bangar’s first visit to USA

Shaheed Maharishi Shambook was remembered first time in the USA

Sacramento- (Ambedkartimes.com News Bureau):- Dr. P. D. Satya Pal (Member CEC BAMCEF) and Dr. Manisha Bangar (President Mulnivasi Mahila Wing BAMCEF India) delivered guest lectures on the movements of liberation in the Indian Society by lord Buddha and Babasaheb Ambedkar at the Dhammachakka Parivartan celebrations conducted by Ambedkar International mission inc., USA on 27th October, 2007 at the crown of India Hall, Plainsborough, New Jersey. The focus of the deliberations is on how Lord Buddha and Babasaheb operationalised their movements of liberating the Bahujan Samaj towards attaining their human personality which was reduced to sub human level by the Brahminical ideology. The critical problem of “colonization of mind”, in other words, mental slavery of the Brahmanism is analyzed and the solution put forward by our fore fathers of social revolution is explained. Radical awareness and conscious mindfulness of the Bahujans only will liberate them and will lead to the establishment of Democratic social order on 28th Oct. at Munroe, New Jersey. BAMCEF cadre camp was held at the Residence of the Mr. Milind and 38 people attended the cadre camp in which the aims and objects of Dr. Ambedkar movement, its present position and the Roll of Bamcef in continuing the movement of all fore father in the social reconstruction are discussed. On 3rd Nov., 2007 lectures by Dr. Satya Paul and Dr. Manisha Bangar at MIT, Massachusetts Tang Building, Boston. The topics of discussion are 60 years of Democratic India, the state of Mulnivasi and caste dynamics in education and judiciary in India. Participants include professors from India and South Asia teaching at MIT. Students and researcher scholars from India elaborate interactive session was held after the lectures.

On 4rth, Nov, 07 these two speakers gave their presentation at Shri Guru Ravidass Temple, New York. The library established by Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha in on the name of Dr. Ambedkar. Question/Answer session was held in which many participants actively expressed their views and later on 10th, Nov, 07 Bamcef cadre camp was held at San Jose, California. The venue is the Town Hall Capitol. The cadre camp was organized by Mr. Ram Kumar, and conducted by Dr. Satya Paul in which 22 were participants joined.

On 11th Nov, 07 a meeting was held at www.ambedkartimes.com office of Mr. Prem Kumar Chumber in Antelope, California (USA) and 22 people joined the meeting which was conducted by Dr. Satya Paul. The cadre camp was organized by Mr. M. R. Paul (International coordinator of Bamcef) & Mr. Prem Kumar Chumber (Editor of www.ambedkartimes.com). In the meeting there were questions/answers regarding the ideology and present position of the Dr. Ambedkar movement in India. Also there was questions on the political situation in India especially the ruling of BSP in U.P. whether High Castes friendship in politics with Bahujan Samaj a fruitful phenomenon or a damaging value for down trodden society.

Twenty two people actively participated this meeting. Most of them were ambedkarties. Finally, first time in the USA, they all tributed to Shaheed Maharishi Shambook for his sacrifice for downtrodden people at that time among he was born.

Posted on November 15, 2007

 

BAMCEF’s
National Convention will be held in New Delhi
From 27th - 30th December 2007

Jai Bhim! Jai Mulnivasi!

I request you all to make it possible to attend this convention. BAMCEF conventions are an integral part of BAMCEF activity. Conventions have been culturized in Bamcef with a specific purpose, because BAMCEF is functioning for 'results 'and not for the mere sake of 'functioning'.

The National convention which is usually held in the last week of December is attended by 7000-8000 activists and other delegates. Stress is laid on participation from all the districts where Bamcef has initiated its activities for the first time in that particular year.

The convention is the platform from where the functionaries : 1) take review of the past activities 2) plan the activities for the next year 3) declare the activities for the next year - esp intensive campaigns to be undertaken.

It is also the time when new enterants in the organisation get the visual impression of the range of activities that BAMCEF is doing nationwide. For many bahujans it is astonishing see a largely attended non-political meeting .Many are impressed with the discipline and decorum maintained in the entire proccedings while others are enchanted by the vast scholarship that addresses them from the platform.

Minds harbouring the thoughts that SC, ST, OBC, Muslims, Sikhs cannot come on a common platform are amazed to see many caste groups staying together for 4-5 days,not responding to the call of political leaders ,but to the call of their own conviction .Those that are disillusioned with our leadership, the impassivity & apathetic, indifferant attitude of the educated and the financially empowered bahujans , they after attending the delibrations feel reinvigorated ,enthusiastic and confidant that the Mulniwasi Bahujans are capable enough to run the movement to regain their self respect ,dignity and rights without any external help and without begging or prostrating in front of the same adversaries who are working overtime to enslave us.

It is through these conventions that BAMCEF has been able to create a social conciousness in the educated and elite class of the Mulniwasi Bahujan Samaj, not by criticising them but by vibrating their emotions and compelling them to introspect what they should do and what they are doing.Whether they are fulfilling the responsibility that comes upon them by virtue of having recieved the maximum benefits from the struggle of Jyotirao Phule, Babasaheb Ambedkar , Periyar, Narayan Guru, Chatrapati Shahu and other great men from the Mulniwasi Samaj.

By setting the example of selfless dedicated work the BAMCEF functionaries have been able to motivate thousands of workers throught the country.Most of the workers are not financially strong still they are working without expecting and without getting absolutely anything, no berths ,no seats ,no liasions ,no political gains, no remuneration . Infact all without exception are sacrificing their time ,own hard earned money, careers, family time, entertainment ,personal leisure activities to work towards the common goal of social cultural revolution.And this they are doing for years together. It is not a hobby or a post retirement engagement for them; it is most important part of their life for them.

Creating such human resources to propogate and preserve the Phule Ambedkarite Ideology has been the biggest achievement of BAMCEF. Ideology and thoughts cannot survive without continous propogation, and without Ideology Movement cannot survive. Our adversary in this country i.e the upper castes today does not fights with us with swords as it did in the time from1000 BC to 1000 AD but even though 60 years have lapsed eversince the Constitution has come into bieng , - still they have been successful in enslaving us comprehensively . Why? , because our battle is an ideological battle, it has always been an ideological fight. From time to time the armaments have changed.Because they use ideology as a weapon and attack our minds which paralyses us thoroughly, converting us into mental slaves.A Slavery which is worse than physical slavery because it motivates the slave not only to uphold their slavery but also to enjoy it. We see many such examples in the society.In almost all the realms that touch our lives.

Babasaheb said" Ideology cannot preserve itself.So to preserve you have to propogate. As a plant needs fertilizer, water for its growth so does idelogy”By educating the people in social education which is not taught in any curriculum of this country Bamcef is empowering the Mulniwasi Bahujans with relevant information. For, right and relevant information gives knowledge and in our country where the media is totally skewed in its operation, this knowledge that we impart is POWER.

Also through its many off shoot wings i.e Bamcef Teachers Sangh, Bamcef Pensioners Sangh, Bamcef Doctors Engg, Lawyers Sangh, Mulniwasi Kamgar Sangh, Mulniwasi Sangh (youth and student), and Mulniwasi Mahila Sangh, Bamcef is making an effort to reach out to all the sections of our society and plan action based programmes in future depending upon the strength created.

I once again implore all of you to read the entire programme sheet and to participate in the convention and be a part of all our future activities.
Thanking you.
Dr. Manisha Bangar

Thus resolved Babasaheb Ambedkar- "It is my solemn vow to die in the service and cause of those downtrodden people among whom I was born, I was bought up and I am living."...

Posted on November 16, 2007


Thoughts of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
On India’s National Security

Dr. Vijay S. Khare (Msc. PhD)
Reader, Department of Defence and Strategic Studies
Coordinator, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Studies Centre
University of Pune, Pune-411007(India)
Dr. Vijay S. Khare’s Phone add
Phone- 91-20- 25696701 (Resi.), 91-9423210314 (Mobile)

 

Introduction:

As we have entered in the 21st century, hence it is necessary to re-examine our strategic perspectives that bounded our thinking on our national security. The cold war is over and the world seems to be dominated by single power the United States. The existing global power status quo may remain for some time in the foreseeable future. Though some of the major global actor like China, Russia and France would prefer a multi-polar world in the international security environment. India too shares this view. India has declared itself a nuclear weapons state. India has been moving out of the system of centralized planed economy, therefore the private sector playing a dominant role and occupying the commanding heights towards an increasingly market oriented one. This has radically changed circumstances call for a review of our definition of national security and defense. Earlier security was defined in terms of threats to our sovereignty and territorial integrity and defence in terms of our capabilities to counter them. (K. Subramanyam, 2000: P.1221)

In the post-cold war paradigm of comprehensive and inclusive security, the threat agenda is now perceived to increasingly encompasses removal of economic disparity gap, development of common values, democratic functioning of state apparatus for protection of human rights, socio-political and economic justice to achieve the objective of coherent society for effective functioning of a viable state. And that would be primary referent object for national security. Today, India is democratic but socially pre-modern where the social and economic rights of individual have yet to be adequately assured. The national security discourse is focused on limited terms, i.e. internal security, external security, foreign policy and military power. The articulation of social security needs have been left to the socially concerned, whose voice is not heard in the security arena. (Koithara Varghese, 1999: P.22)

In modern India the concept of national security ought to be located in the interest of human welfare and national power. To maintain our territorial integrity and the protection of state sovereignty our social fabrics needs to be stronger. As referred by K. Subramanyam in his well-accepted definition of national security, is that we should achieve the status of egalitarian society. That can derive enough strength and moral to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity. The improvement and development of human conditions is at least as important as achievements in the international stage. The security discourse in India is dominated by the aspiration of the elites and the co-opted middle classes, who have elitist approach. In India internal component of security is important, as is the external. The current emphasis on military security and lopsided rapid economic development has generated grounds for rethinking of the concept of national security. Has any increase in sophisticated Military superiority in terms of more sophisticated weaponry development solved any national and international problems? Has the lopsided rapid economic development served the purpose of ensuring a standard of living for the well being of every citizen?

The security perspectives of our national leaders is specifically adhoc and dominated by the external pressure such perspective seems to be compulsion arise due to temporary conditions, rather than directed towards definite long term objective. Therefore, a temporary and immediate measure adopted to protect our-self from the external threats seems to be burdensome i.e. Kargil operation.

Current debate on the national security largely revolves around India’s defence expenditures, nuclear proliferation military capability, but in reality fundamental security of the nation is for the nations prosperity and sustainability, that lies in a social development, food security, Nutrition security, Health security, and basic education security. Present day national security problems, especially for developing countries like India are a result of issues of cross border, terrorism, Trans-border solidarity, lower gross domestic products, Un-balanced market economy, social disparities, communalism, violation of human rights etc. which were traditionally kept out of national security discourse.

Traditional concept of national security is considered synonymous with national defence but changes took place in international security environment. We should adopt broad concept of national security i.e. “The preservation of the core values critical to the nation state from external and internal threats”. National security in a wider sense encompasses the economic, Industrial and Technological progress, the cohesiveness of the socio-cultural structures, the resilience and stability of the political system and the efficacy of diplomacy. The Indian approach to the question of national security should not be structured in the same framework as that of western countries.

Indian approach towards national security revolves around two fundamental diversions, one, the recognition that any conflict situation the roots of conflict need to be tackled; and two the need to resolve conflict without violence. The first is a long-term perspective and includes social, Political and economic aspects of any conflict and second more short-term view that looks at the means of pacific settlement of disputes.

Today internal challenges to the state have shown its pervasiveness in different parts of the world. It is argued that threats emanate domestically from different groups compelling for power in a political system where consensus is often totally absent. For example, Yugoslavia, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Congo and Sri Lanka are some of states where particularly the ethno-religious and political rivalries have significant ramifications and as several levels they have fused with international crisis. In general these internal disturbances have resulted in blurring the divide between domestic and international policy.

In the age of globalization experiences at global and national level would suggest that internal challenges to national security be rooted in problems of political identity, socio-economic grievances, lack of legitimacy of state and individuals. The fundamental challenge before us today is how to introduce the domestic challenges before the state for broadening the agenda of national security.

Above description on the concept of national security in respect of India indicates considerations of following aspects, which can provide more resistance power to observe any blow of territorial disintegration and social disharmony. The aspects should be - (1) Core values of India i.e. Democracy, sovergnity, status of egalitarian society (2) Measures to build the strong country i.e Horizontal and Vertical integration of our country.

Horizontal integration is based on :-
Territorial democracy, Balance of centre state relations, Management of natural resources based on the principle that nation state as a cohisive unit and curbing perocial tendency of localised politics. (i.e. Mineral resources, water resources, power resources)

Vertical integration is based on :-
(1) Management of redistribution of goods and services to all sections of the society (centralised modern facilities, allocation of central funds etc.)
(2) Eradication of caste, creed, discrimination based on religion and faith for the purpose of developing India in to a cohisive society.

In the post-cold war era the paradigm shift in the dimension of national security gives more importance to non-military aspect rather than military aspect. The economic security and economic capability of a country will determine the ability of the country to overcome the economic threats posed by the internatinal community. The contribution of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar in respect of building India into a strong country i.e. politically, economically, socially is siminal. A study of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s security related policies would provide an alternative policy option for our national security.
The concept of national security is multi-dimensional concept.

It encompasses socio-political, Military, economic and cultural dimensions. In the multi-polar world, the national security is not merely a military related matter alone, it is also related to socio-economic development of the nation state as a whole which derives power to contain external threats. If a nation state is well developed and if it remains coherent then it can play important role in international power politics. It is generally believed that national security is the concern of defence forces alone. However , after the collapse of Soviet union the global balance of power has undergone a change and so has the concept of national security also change. In this paper , I find that non-Military dimension of national security also contribute inhance its power and diplomatic manuverability to protect its interests abroad, and attainment of political and economic growth and stability within the country. If a nation-state enjoys internal stability and peace, it provide better atmosphere for socio-economic development and well being of its citizens, then the nation state could be able to tackle external threats better way with consideration of change in the nature of war and national security a nation-state has to pay more attention to develop its inner straight i.e. national integration, social assimilation, economic development and political stability with healthy law and order. These dimensions of national security demands definite prudent national policies to attain the objective of the nation builiding.

To make India and her people strong Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar worked very hard before independence and after independence, to provide prudent policies for nation-building. Policies for national assimilation and integration, Policies for the regional integration, Policies for social integration, Policies for the political stability, Defence policies, Policies for external security and foreign relation. These policies for smooth functioning and better assimilation. Policy of one state one language and not one language and one state policy for language based division of state to avoid regionalism and to achive horizontal integration of India, policy of social integration for uplifting of down trodden for vertical integration of India, along with many hints on economic strategy to make india as a strong and egalitarian society capable enough to face the external challenges. Therefore importance of this policies for nation-building and developing india in to secured India has enormous importance to us.

The international system has undergone fundamental change since the end of the cold war. At the same time former notions of military security has been replaced with internal threats of militant, nationalistic movements and the social costs of economic globalization. There are some fundamental contradictions in the strategic interest of India; this has particularly made the non military dimensions of security the major factor affecting the security problems in India.

The fundamental shift in security perceptions that has been observe in recent decades is the transition from Military threats to non military threats include ethnic cleansing, violation of human right, religious fanaticism secessionist, activities etc.

Today our nation is so engrossed with terrorism, separatism, communalism, provincialism, nepotism, poverty, corruption, unemployment, dearness and inequality that very stream of development has been hindered. It was been effecting the thinking of citizens so much so that the anti-national forces are becoming mare active than loyal forces. That is why there is great danger to the India’s national security. For unity and security of India Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar propounded various Strategic/security thoughts and suggested policies to the government of India, but government of India could not adopted his policies. That point of view we must analyzed what are consequences on contemporary problems of India’s national security.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar is remembered in India with great pride and honour. His progressive and influential personality was multifaceted. He played a vital role in building a strong nation state. His life and philosophy are a document of his struggle for human right. He laid great stress on the three principles of equality, liberty and fraternity. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar wanted to change and revolutionize the society with his ideals.

There are three major strategic/security thoughts of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar which are directly related to contemporary problems of India’s national security.

1. Defence policy:

2. Policies for external security and foreign relation:

3. Policies for regional integration:

1. Defence policy:

The core objective of India’s Defence policy is to defend the territory, sovereignty and freedom of the country. Defence policy in a wider sense, would encompass the economic, industrial and technological base as capability analysis. The stability to the socio-cultural and political system as the operative dimension, and the relevance of diplomacy for the determination of national security. However Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had visualized various issues for India’s security problem through his various writings, speeches and thoughts. He had considered Defence and security issues through the conceptual lenses of development of nation. He propounded various strategic aspects for Defence and security point of view following are two strategic aspects.

1. India needs the second capital:

2. Compulsory military education:

1. India needs the second capital:


Since the departure of the British India had only one capital and that is New Delhi before the British, India has always had two capitals. During the Mughals period, India had Delhi as one capital and Srinagar in Kashmir as another capital. When the British came they too had two capitals, one was Calcutta and another was Simla. Even when they left Calcutta for Delhi they retained Simla as their summer capital. According to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar strategic thoughts Delhi is vulnerable place. It is within bombing distance of the neighboring countries. Although India is trying to live in peace with its neighbors it cannot be assumed that Indian will not have to face war sometime or other and if war comes, the government of India will have to leave Delhi and find another place for its location. Which the place to which the government of India can migrate? A place that one can think of is Calcutta. But Calcutta is also within bombing distance from Tibet or China. Although India and China today are friends, how long the friendship would last no one can definitely say? The possibility of conflict between India and China remains .In that point of view Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar rejected Calcutta as another capital. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar also rejected Bombay as second capital because our Indian Navy is too poor to protect the central government. If it comes down to Bombay Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar suggested south preferably in the city of Hyderabad. Hyderabad fulfills all the requirements of a capital for India; Hyderabad is equidistant to all states. From the Defence point of view it would give safety to the central government. It would give satisfaction to the south Indian people that their government is some times with them. The government may remain in Delhi during winter months and during other months it can stay in Hyderabad.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar also given following table for proving relevance and strategic aspects from given table:
PLACE FROM DELHI FROM HYDRABAD
To Bombay 798 miles 440 miles
To Calcutta 868 miles 715 miles
To Madras 1198 miles 330 miles
To Patiala 124 miles 990 miles
To Chandigarh 180 miles 1045 miles
To Lucknow 275 miles 770 miles
(Source- Govt. of Maharashtra 1979 vol. I P-171)

2. Compulsory Military Education:

The constitutional commitments to the Universalization of primary school education and to equality of opportunities for education are motivated by the conviction the schooling is a basic human right. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar advocated that compulsory education for all children’s up to the age of 14 and he also advocated compulsory military education for youth within certain age group.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had vision if we made compulsory military education for Indian youth then it would create new work culture for overall development of India. Military education should not base on any religion and any fundamental ideology. Due to military education awareness among youth generation would be increased and they would attract towards contemporary problems of National and International security.
Consequences:

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar provided prudent thoughts / policy/ideas about Defence matter but government of India not adopted his ideas/policy. Following are some consequences, which are directly related to contemporary problems of India’s national security.

1) India is the only country which shares disputed land borders with two-nuclear armed neighbors that have a long record of close strategic collaboration.

2) If India would have second capital at Hyderabad than strategic or administrative result would be different.

3) Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was an interested militarization program for youth and to make military education compulsory for become strong nation state. But government of India not adopted his thoughts / ideas/ policy

Today lacks of compulsory military education, among Indian Youth, they are not aware about security or strategic issue. When Cargill episode had happen while nation aware about nationalism and Defence forces. If government adopted compulsory military education after the independence may be result would be different.

4) Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar propounded policies there is need to interaction between bureaucrats and Defence personals. Have clear and precisely Defence and security doctrine but unfortunately, after 55 years of independence there is no clear doctrine and aim and objectives of Defence policy now it is need to understand strategic thoughts of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.

2. Policies for external security and foreign Relation:

The principal objective of India’s foreign policy has been the establishment of friendly relations, co-operation in economic, socio-cultural and other areas, building common security consensus among neighbors and prevention of interference from extra regional powers. Yet the quality of her relationship varies in a background of highly complex and variables bilateral relationships. A country’s foreign policy changes according to the needs of the changing world situation and the country’s own requirements. This applies equally to India’s foreign policy. With the end of the cold war and the consolidation of a new era of globalization Indian foreign policy has entered a period of deep uncertainty. From Independence to till date Indian foreign policy shaped by six persons i.e. soldier, diplomat, bureaucrat politician, policy oriented academic, and journalist. This six persons every where talk about with their traditional preoccupations with external threats and their emphases on strong military power and skilful diplomacy to which will be added strong concern with greater economic strength for the country. The new goals emerged after collapse of former Soviet Union i.e. Social cohesion, human security. On traditional security, sustainable development, ecological problem the maintenance and strengthening of political liberty, the continuous movements towards a more egalitarian democratization elimination of external threats. The rise and growing strength of transnational economic agents, mechanism and Institution i.e. WTO, IMF, WB and international money markets with their astronomical levels of financial capital floes in central to the consolidation of neo-liberal economic system. The Indian state in its foreign policy will have to pay more attention than ever before to how it will intervene in the developing institutions of this global neo-liberal regime.

However Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar advocated ideas/policies for India’s foreign policy with broad dimensions but government of India not adopted his policies which are relevant to global neo-liberal regime and contemporary problems of India’s national security. Following are suggestions by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar for India’s foreign policy:
a) Geographical factor:
b) Co-existence:
c) SEATO:
d) Panchsheel:
e) Kashmir:

a) Geographical factor:

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had highlighted that “one must not forget that in the foreign policy of a country the geographical factor is the one of important factors. Each country foreign policy must vary foreign policy must vary with its geographical location in relation to the factor with which its dealing” (Parliament Debate! 954, PP.469-83)

B) Co-existence:

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar considered the adoption of the principle of co-existence is not quite proper for India, especially in view of our close geographical proximity to the communist countries. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar explain co-existence, “can communism and free democracy work together? Can they live together them? The theory, at any rate, seems to me utterly absurd for communism is like a forest fire, it goes on burning and consuming is like a forest fire, it goes on consuming anything and everything that comes in its way”. (Govt. Maharashtra 1997, P.878)

c) SEATO:

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar explaining his views on the strategic positions the country. Ambedkar stated that India had been completely encircled on one side by Pakistan and on the other by the Muslim countries. The barrier between Egypt and England had been removed by the handing over of the Suez Canal. “There might be very little difficulty in the Muslim countries joining with Pakistan and forming a block. On this side by allowing the Chinese to take possession of Lhasa, the Prime Minister had practically helped the Chinese to bring China close to the Indian border” Ambedkar complained. (Bharill Chandra, 1977, P.111).

Ambedkar’s political forecast about aggression on Indian came to be true. He had said that if Indian were not exposed to aggression right then, it would definitely be exposed to aggression in the future.

d) Panchsheel:

Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar was totally disagreeing with the Tibet treaty and the principles of PANCHSHEEL by the Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He said that, “I am somewhat surprised that the Prime Minister should take this Panchsheel seriously, the Panchsheel, as you sir know it well, is the essential part of the Buddhist religion and if Mr. Mao had any faith in the Panchsheel he certainly would treat the Buddhist in his own country in a very different way. There is no room for Panchsheel in politics and secondly, not in the politics of communist country”. The communist countries have to well-known principles on which they always act on is that morality is always in a flux. There is no morality. Today morality is not tomorrow’s morality you can keep your word in accordance with the morality of today and you can break your word with equal justification tomorrows because tomorrows morality will be different. (Moon Vasant, 1997, P.882).

e) Kashmir:

The state of Jammu and Kashmir comprised province, the small state of Poonch, the Gilgit agency in North West, including Hunza and Nagar, and Ladakh and Balistan town of Kashmir, comprising the above constituent units, covered an area of 83, 25,859 miles. The area of the state and its longitude and latitude vary, though in a minor way in old records and documents. It was inhabitant of Buddhists, Hindu, Muslims and Sikhs. It was predominantly a Muslim inhabitant area (Nath Birbal, 1998, P.9). Kashmir has an ancient history shows that Kashmir came under the rule of Ashoka the great who founded the city of Srinagar the discovery of Buddhist relics and edicts has led historians to conclude that Ashoka was the original founder of Srinagar.

As per the Indian Independence act, the state of Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to India voluntarily because of ideological convergence between the freedom fighters of India and those of Jammu and Kashmir. Top Pakistani leaders tried to do their best to woo the people of Kashmir but, represented by eminent leadership, they decided to link their destiny with India. We have fought a war in 1947 because Pakistan aggressed and wanted to grab Kashmir by force. However their efforts were frustrated. But, before we could clear the aggressor from the entire territory of Jammu and Kashmir a cease-fire had come in and about 1/3rd of the territory or so remained in the hands of Pakistan. (Rao Krishna K.V., 1996, P.194). Concurrently, when, we took up the issue with United Nations, after protracted discussion, two resolutions were passed which were accepted by both sides. And these envisaged certain vacate the aggression after the fulfilling this precondition, India was to reduce her forces and after that was achieved, a plebiscite was to be held under the auspices of the United Nations. However, since Pakistan did not vacate aggression till this day and has built up forces main-fold, compared with what she had on 1st January 1949 at the time of the cease fire the other two steps could not be implemented i.e. India reducing her forced and a plebiscite under the auspicious of the United Nations. But despite that, Pakistan keeps harping on the issue of self-determination or plebiscite. Although the UN resolutions were not implemented. India took steps to hold elections to a constituent assembly. Then the assembly drew up a constitution and based on the rest of country. The state of Jammu and Kashmir is the only state, which has a constitution of its own, and this derived from a special dispensation made in the National constitution under Article 370. Pakistan was not reconciled to this situation and therefore, aggressed twice more in 1965 and 1971, and again on both these occasions, her efforts were totally frustrated by India and the people of the state. At the end of each of these wars, we had agreements. Now once Pakistan got back her territories and provinces, she forget all about these agreements from 1971 to till date Pakistan started proxy war with India in May 1998 India and Pakistan became Nuclear weapons state.

In February 1999 Lahore declaration signed by the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan (Akbar M. K., 1999, P.61). After few months Cargill happen. Cargill did not happen overnight. It was a result of Pakistan’s increasing audacity over the years which largely flowed from India’s unwillingness to take the bull by its horns and give a befitting military response (Rajeev Sharma, 1999, P.15).

However Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had his own vision regarding Kashmir problem. When he given statement for his resignation he had explain various issues which was retaliated to security matter He did not agree with India’s foreign policy and stand taken by government of India regarding Kashmir issues.

He said, “Our quarrel with Pakistan is a part of our foreign policy about which I feels deeply dissatisfied. There are two grounds which have disturbed our relation with Pakistan- one is Kashmir and the other is the condition of our people in west Bengal. I felt that we should be more deeply concerned with East Bengal where the condition of our people seems from all the newspapers intolerable than with Kashmir. Not withstanding this we have been staking our all on the Kashmir issue. Even then I feel that we have been fighting on an unreal issue. The issue on which we are fighting most of the time is who is in the right and who is in the wrong. The real issue to my mind is not who is in right but what is right. Taking that to be the main question, my view has always been that the right solution is to partition Kashmir. Give the Hindu and Buddhist part to India and the Muslim part to Pakistan as we did in the case of India. We are really not concerned with the Muslim part of Kashmir. It is a matter between the Muslims of Kashmir and Pakistan. They may decide the issue as they like or if you like dividing it into three parts, the cease fire zone, the valley and the Jammu-Ladakh region and have a plebiscite only in the valley. What I am afraid of is that in the proposed plebiscite, which is to be an overall plebiscite, the Hindu and Buddhist of Kashmir are likely to be dragged into Pakistan against their wishes and we may have to face the same problems as we are facing today in East Bengal. (Govt. of Maharastra.1995.P.1332-22)

After evaluation of India’s foreign policy we can learn what are drawbacks in foreign policy and how government of India adopted foreign policy and what policies were suggested by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar but adopted by government there are followings are consequences on India’s national security

Consequences:

1) India’s foreign policy has been facing continuous adverse criticism, because without well defined a geographical factor and national interest, India humiliated by China 1962. Today China claims 90.000 sq. kms. of territory in India’s eastern sector in Arunachal Pradesh. In addition it is in occupation of 38,000 sq. kms. of territory in Ladakh including Aksai chin 1000 sq. kms of Pok west of Karakoram pass given by Pakistan 30 Sq. kms. Wong Dong in Arunachal Pradesh and 40 Sq. kms. of Barahati grazing grounds in Uttar Pradesh (Madhok V.K.1998.P.11)

2.) Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar the Chinese possession of Tibet he accused the government of helping the Chinese to bring their border down to the Indian border, because government allowed the Chinese to take possession of Lhasa. Due to this mistake Chinese to take occupation of Tibet in 1950 which removed the buffer state between the two giants. The 1998 Indian nuclear tests calling China bigger potential threats than Pakistan.

3) Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, “If you want parliamentary government, you must be friendly with the countries which are trying to defend this form of rule against attack”. We took distance from U.S.A. from independence. But today changes in geo-economic position to geostrategies and geopolitics we are trying to maintain well relation with U.S.A.

4) According to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar he wanted to protect his country and make her prepared for war He argued that there is no place for ‘Panchsheel’ in international politics only remain national interest due to lack of vision India’s defense expenditure Was only 2% of GNP from 1947 to 1962.

4) Due to Kashmir problem we had three wars with Pakistan and arm race have been increase in South Asia.

5) Due to Kashmir problem thousands of jawan and officers were killed at Kashmir

6) Due to Kashmir problem today Kashmir peoples demanding greater autonomy although Jammu and Kashmir already has sufficient autonomy.

7) Due to Kashmir problem Pakistan consider that Kashmir is the unfinished business of partition and is the core dispute between the countries

8) Due to Kashmir problem burden on Indian economy has been increased.

9) South Asia becomes nuclear flashpoint.

Recently some section of society demanding trifurcations of Jammu and Kashmir where as Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had given solution on Jammu and Kashmir by partition of Jammu and Kashmir. But unfortunately Government of India not adopted Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar policies related to security matter. Some of the leaders consider as he was only leader of depressed class and chief architect of Indian constitution although he was great strategic thinker, Security experts and he propounded prudent policies for external security and foreign relation but government of India not adopted his policies from independence it is right time to think and analyzed

Suggested policies of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and adopt his policies for overall development, unity and security of India.
3. Policies for the regional integration:
India is land of many diversities its population has crossed almost one billion, People speaks different languages; each has its distinctive script and literary traditions and is spoken in dozens of dialects. In addition there are seven major religions are practiced. Each has several sects. Besides this there are several tribal belief systems. The majority of the Indian population is Hindu (82%) but the populations following the other faiths are large enough to be politically and culturally significant.

Geographically, the country consists of three natural regions: the north, the Deccan and the south, demarcated by major a river that flows from west to east across the peninsula. Within each of this region history and geography have combined to create smaller linguistically, and politically defined domains with district identities. Over time, these identities have crystallized as boundaries of language and dialect, distinctive patterns of behavior, dress, craft, folklore, and traditions in literature, music, architecture and often traceable to the first centuries after Christ
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had suggested policy for regional integration. He had vision as how to integrate such vast diverse population. He suggested smaller states for administrative purpose and official language of every province shall be the same as the official language of the central government He argued that the main advantages of the scheme of linguistic provinces would make democracy work better than it would mix provinces. A linguistic province produces what democracy needs, namely social homogeneity now the homogeneity of people depends there having belief in a common origin. In the possession of a common language and literature in their pride in a common historic tradition, community of social customs etc

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar statement on the formation of linguistic states that came as a critique of the report of the states Reorganization Commission. What the commission has created, according to him, is not a mere disparity between the states by leading U.P. and Bihar as they are but adding to them a new bigger Madhya Pradesh with Rajasthan. It creates a new political problem of the consolidated Hindi speaking North versus the Balkanized south. Considering the vast cultural differences between the two sectors and the apprehensions of dominance of the north articulated by the leaders of India’s of the south. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar predicts the threats to India’s unity and security. He observes that the commission should have follows the principle of One State One Language and not One language One State but unfortunately government of India not adopted his suggested policies.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar favors formation of uni-lingual states as against multilingual states for the very sound reasons that the former fosters the fellow felling which is the foundation of a stable and democratic state, while the latter with its enforced juxtaposition of two different linguistic groups leads to faction fights for leadership and discrimination in administration factors which are incompatible with democracy. His support for uni-lingual states is however qualified by the condition that its official language shall be Hindi and until India becomes fit for this purpose, English shall continue. He foresees the danger of a unilingual state developing an independent nationality in its regional language is raised to the status of official language. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar remedy is to equal representation of the state in the central legislature irrespective of their area and population. In smaller state the proportion of majority to minority which in India is not political but communal and unchangeable decreases and the danger of the majority practicing tyranny over the minority is also minimized. The Indian state has successfully managed cultural diversity over a 50 year period in which the country’s population crossed one billion many group, identities were strengthened through electoral process, Political awareness increased with economic development. Today some section of society argued the larger Indian states needs to be divided into smaller, more culturally homogeneous units, which will be more responsive to popular needs to provide better administration. India represents a plural society in which a variety of ethnic linguistic and religious groups co-exist in terms of varying co-operation and competition. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, while moving the draft constitution in the constituent assembly said that the form of constitution was federal. His concept of federalism meant that the state was a federation in peacetime, but unitary in emergency. He remarked that the constitution establishes a dual policy with the union at the Center and the states at the periphery. Each endowed with sovereign powers to be exercised in the fields assigned to them by the constitution. (Rao Shiva, 1968, P.422)

Consequences:

Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar suggested various policies for regional integration but government of India not adopted his suggested policies therefore following are consequences, which are directly related to contemporary problem of India’s national security.

a. Misuse of Article 356:
Impositions of president rule in the political party in the Center try to pressurize the state government. Some political parties have political interest for using Article 356. From 1950 to 2002 near about 100 times central government used Article 356 for the political interest. Some extent there was such situation to used article 356 but when we critical analyzed the presidential rule imposed on the state we can find out that there was a political interest to used article 356 in a particular state. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar suggested article 356 is a “a dead letter”, (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. IX, P.177) he said: “ if at all they are brought into operation, I hope the president who is endowed with those powers will take proper precautions before actually suspending the administration of the provinces. I hope the first thing he will do would be to issue a mere warning to a province that has erred that things were not happening in the way in which they were intended to happen in the constitution. If that warning fails, the second thing for him to do will be order an election allowing the people of the province to settle matters by themselves. It is only when these two remedies fail that he would resort to this article” (CAD, Vol. IX, P.177). The purpose of article 356, thus expounded so clearly in the constituent assembly by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar must be surely in mind before exercising such power. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was always of the view that the president as a constitutional head acts on the advice of the council of ministers. Even so, he retains the right to warm against abuse of power and the duty to prevent it if he can.

From 1950 to 2002 there were mass dissolution of State Assemblies following to the Lok Sabha election in 1977 and 1980. In 13 cases the State Ministries were dismissed even though they commanded the majority in the assembly. The Supreme Court had invalidated the dismissal of the Bommai Ministry on April 21, 1989. When the Chief Minister claiming majority support from the assembly, was ready to face the assembly. Today each state fears from center and does not have any guarantee about there stability. According to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Article 356 Ambedkar is provision for regional integration and unity of India. Whenever emergency situation occurred president act and use Article 356 is last measure. But it is unfortunate thing our political leader used Article 356 for political purpose.

b. Regional Disparity:
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar thought on linguistic states certainly helps us to understand the cause behind the growing regional aspiration in various states and among the leaders from the south. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar rightly pointed out that reorganization commission would create a new political problem of the consolidated Hindi speaking North versus the balkanized south. Further he prefers to small states which will meet the efficient administration and special needs of the different area. It will also satisfy their sentiments.

Today India is facing serious internal challenges to national security Emergence of regional parties at center government is good sign for national integration but at the same time it would create problem for development. Due to regional disparity in industrial and agricultural field regional political party also take regional bias view for development. For example Cavery water dispute, Maharashtra-Karnataka Border dispute, Economic and Technology disparity among states, Language differences, North Vs. South etc. It is right to adopt suggested policies Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.

However, the experience of the constitution in the last five decades has given themselves the constitution, in the area of Center-state relation and consequently led some political parties and leaders to agitate and re-agitate to consider and reconsider the existing constitutional scheme in the area of Center state relation. Recently various demands came from regional party like, National conference from Kashmir and Alkali Dal (Badal) president for declaring India a commonwealth of autonomous states with full right to the constituent units to pursue and promote their regional, ethnic, and religious identities. (Times of India, December 1991) The threat of late chief minister of Orisa Mr. Biju Patnaik that he would not hesitate to follow the suit of Assam and Punjab, if the state financial autonomy is not going to be re-considered (Indian express, January 11, 1992) and the statement of Ms. Jayalalitha, the former chief minister of Tamilnadu, over the Cavery water dispute, that unless the central government discharges its responsibility in the best interest of federation, the fabric of the constitution and unity of our nation could be destroyed ( Times of India, August 6, 1992) clearly shows that emerging febrile symptoms that are being developed on the fabric of the Indian constitution beyond doubt.

Hence, it is right time to ask ourselves where we have gone wrong. Is it with the constitution? Answer to this question may be given in the context of some important issues like imposition of president’s rule in the state, demand for more fiscal autonomy, and regional disparities discussed in the from time to time. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar suggested strong Center and autonomous state form unity integrity and security of the nation state, his policies may help us to steer through the present contemporary problems of India’s national security and guide us for the regional integration.

Conclusion:
Higher bureaucratic class person largely shapes perceptions about national security in India regarding both its internal and external dimension. It is necessary to rethink on concept of national security and consider social development and human security approach in the matter of national security. During the last five decades India has undoubtedly made economic progress, but the rate of progress has been well below that of most developing countries. It is necessary to change basic policy related overall development of nation state and adopt suggested policies by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar those are component of national security. National security obviously has to be planned in a holistic framework, with close integration between military and non-military interests. India’s Policy makers will have to pay increased attention to non-military dimensions of national security. India can enjoy no security without building economic power, social integration regional integration, political stability, addressing its long-term energy vulnerability, protecting it’s environment, developing its water resources, more efficiently, achieving demographic stability, boosting farm produce and attaining true food self-sufficiency, and practicing sustainable development. India’s national security planning has to deal with underdevelopment, population pressure, and uncontrolled urbanization, refugee floes from economically more undeveloped neighbours such as Bangladesh, limited natural resources and ecological degradation. Some natural resources such as water have already endangered conflicts among Indian states and India, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

As part of the holistic approach, it needs to be recognized that national security is much more than defence policy. The defence of India means the defence of its national interest. More importantly, the country has not only to defend its vital interest it has to forcefully promote those interests. National security demands integrated planning and co-ordinated use of India’s political, military, diplomatic, and scientific resources to advance its core interests.

Globalization has increased the need for harmonizing India’s defence, foreign, economic, social, technology, and internal security policies with each other and with overall national strategy. Human resource development is also an important component of national security in an era of rapid technological progress.

India cannot begin to secure its future unless various policies and programmes are unified in a harmonious national vision. A comprehensive approach to national security demands that the nation strengthen both its military and non-military power.



References:
1. Subramanyam K., “Self-Reliant Defence and Indian Industry”, Strategic Analysis, Vol. XXIV, Issue No. 7, October 2000, pp. 1221-1234.
2. Koithara Varghese, “Society, state, and security the Indian Experience”, Sage Publication New Delhi, 1999.
3. Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, “Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, Vol. 1, Year 1979, Mumbai.
4. Rajya Sabha Debates, 20th August 1954.
5. Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, “Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, Vol. 15, Year 1997, Mumbai.
6. Bharill Chandra, “Social and political ideas of B.R. Ambedkar” Aalekh Publishers, Jaipur, 1977.
7. Nath, Birbal: “Kashmir the Nuclear flash point”, Manas Publication, New Delhi, 1998.
8. Rao Krishna K.V., “Peace and Democracy”, Department of information Jammu and Kashmir Government, 1996.
9. Akbar M. K., “Kargil cross Border terrorism”, Mittal Publication, New Delhi, 1999.
10. Sharma Rajeev, “Pak proxy war A story of ISI, Bin Laden and Kargil” Kaveri Books, New Delhi, 1999.
11. Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, “Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, Vol. 14, Year 1995, Mumbai.
12. Madhok V. K., “Re-powering National Security”, Aditya Prakashana, Mumbai, 1998.
13. Rao Shiva, “The Framing of India’s Constitution: A Study”, The Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi, 1968.
14. Constituent Assembly Debates CAD, Vol. IX.
15. The Times of India (Mumbai)
16. Indian Express (Mumbai)

 

RSS threat to Dalit Christians & Muslims

Concern at coercion and threats in the Resolution adopted by
The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh against full rights for Dalit Christians, Muslims

Dr. John Dayal (Member)
National Integration Council Government of India

In democratic India, even the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the bigoted, xenophobic and hyper nationalist founder of the Bharatiya Janata Party, has the right to take a political position on various issues, but the Supreme Court of India, the Union Government and the Election commission must take note of the threatening tone of resolutions recently adopted by its executive committee in their annual meeting. These resolutions not only challenges constitutional guarantees to the minorities, but are specially targeted at Christians and Muslims to instill fear and terror in the two communities. The resolution also seeks to blackmail and coerce the Government of India by saying there will be "serious consequences" if the rights of the Dalit Christians and Muslims, taken away the nefarious Presidential Order of 1950, are restored. The RSS also threats on thin legal ice when it charges the minorities with "brazenness" in moving the Supreme Court of India for the restoration of their rights, a demand which have been supported by the National Commission for Religious and Linguistics Minorities headed by former Chief justice of India Rangnath Misra. The Supreme Court is hearing a bunch of writ petitions by Dalit groups on the issue. The next hearing is scheduled for later in November.

Every law abiding citizen and organization, including the Government, must condemn this arrogant attack on the right of aggrieved people to seek redress in the highest court in the land. Not context with its vitriolic against the minority communities and their leadership, the RSS goes further in creating a confrontation between Dalits espousing various faiths.

The BJP is contesting elections in Gujarat and Himachal and its resolutions go against the letter and spirit of the Code imposed by the Election Commission. I hope the Chief Election Commissioner and other Commissioners will take Suo Moto cognisance of the RSS resolutions. The following is the text of the RSS resolution against rights for Dalit Christians]

The Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal takes strong exception to the recommendation of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM) popularly known as Justice Rangnath Mishra Commission that the Scheduled Caste status must be "completely delinked from religion" and "all those groups and classes among the Muslims and Christians should also be covered by the Scheduled Castes net". What is more intriguing is the Commission's effort to project its recommendations as consistent with the "letter and spirit of the constitutional provisions".

The ABKM is of the view that, in reality, these recommendations are against the basic spirit of the Constitution and in negation of all the efforts of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar who struggled relentlessly in his personal and public life to reform the Hindu society. Besides, these recommendations are also an aggression on the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and a major impediment to their uplift.

The ABKM feels that the Commission has failed to take note of the fact that the framers of our Constitution, after prolonged deliberations, concluded that caste system is a part only of Hindu society and hence the reservations offered to the Scheduled Castes must be confined to Hindus only. The ABKM also wants to remind that the Church leadership, with an eye to increasing their numbers, has been vigorously campaigning for the inclusion of the converts into the Scheduled Castes purview which was steadfastly resisted by all the right-thinking leaders during the making of the Constitution as well as in the last six decades.

The ABKM decries the brazenness of the petitioners, who have gone to the Supreme Court with the demand of inclusion of the Christian converts in the Scheduled Castes category, with the contention that "the Dalits remain Dalits even after converting to Christianity". Christianity claims that there is no caste system in it. It is a matter of shame that the Church leaders, in their greed for harvesting a few more souls, have no qualms in endorsing the petitioners' contention which is against the proclaimed basic tenets of Christianity.

The ABKM reiterates that the demand for the converts to be treated on par with the Scheduled Castes is against the provisions of the Constitution since only castes, races or tribes can be deemed to be Scheduled Castes under Article 341 of the Constitution.

The ABKM cautions the government that any effort to implement the recommendations of the NCRLM, which are against the Constitution, is fraud with serious consequences. It calls upon the government not to succumb to the pressure tactics of the Church lobby in politics and outside and to stand steadfast on the path carved out by the leaders of the country in the last several decades by rejecting outright the demand for inclusion of such converts into the Scheduled Castes category.

The ABKM is of the considered opinion that the Church leadership is indulging in this duplicitous contention with the conspiracy to encourage mass conversions from the Scheduled Castes. It is clear that the reservations, if extended to the converts, would be considerably eaten up by the converts thus pushing the already backward Scheduled Castes into further backwardness.

The ABKM appeals to the countrymen in general and the Scheduled Caste brethren in particular to resist any move by the vote-hungry politicians in that direction which is going to be detrimental to the welfare of the Scheduled Castes. The ABKM calls upon all the swayamsevaks to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our Scheduled Caste brethren in their efforts to safeguard the interests of the community.

Posted on November 16, 2007

 
Church leaders urge Prime Minister
To ensure safety of Christians in Orissa

Over 30 churches, Institutions destroyed in Christmas violence, many injured
as Hindutva extremists go on the rampage, fire on people in tribal belt

Dr. John Dayal

[The following is the text of the memorandum submitted by Dr John Dayal, Member: National Integration Council, Government of India, on behalf of the All India Catholic Union (Founded 1919), the All India Christian Council (Founded 1999), and the President: United Christian Action, Delhi (Founded 1992). Dr Dayal was member of the Church delegation, together with Archbishop Vincent Concessao, Dr Richard Howell, and Dr Dominick Emmanuel, which was meeting Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on the Orissa issue.] Christmas 2007, 25-26 December 26, 2007

------------------------------

Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
New Delhi

Re: Appeal for immediate action to prevent massacre of Christians in the Tribal Phulbani region of Orissa, and desecration of Churches in the state. There must be no repeat of Gujarat's Dangs area violence on Christmas 1998.

Dear Prime Minister

I bring to you and your government Greetings of Christmas from the All India Catholic Union, representing the 1.6 crore [16 million] Catholic laity in the country, and the All India Christian Council, whose membership includes 3,000 Independent churches, Human rights organisations and Institutions.

It is, however, with a heavy heart that I also bring to you our collective apprehensions and fear that the current atrocities against Christians in the tribal area of Phoolbani in the State of Orissa is fast exploding into the type of violence we saw in the Dangs district of Gujarat during Christmas 1998. The official apathy, the police indifference and the freedom allowed to marauding bands of Hindutva fanatics and armed thugs in Gujarat has been repeated in Orissa in what is a planned conspiracy against the Church and our faith.

Spokesman of communal groups are coming on television and in the Print media to announce they will not tolerate the presence of Christians in the trial areas of Orissa. The threat of continuing and escalating violence, the targeting of Church leaders and the concerted attack on institution prove that the conspiracy has been planned over a period
of time, with meticulous mobilization. This would not have been possible without the complicity of the official machinery, and the backing of powerful political groups.

Unless immediate and urgent action is taken, we fear that the situation in Orissa will deteriorate and will lead to much suffering for our people, as also for the common men, women and children of the tribal areas, the poorest of the poor.

The main aggression is from the Kui Janakalyan Samiti. This organization had declared bandh on 25th and 26th December 2007 in order to press for their demands. But Christians feel that it was only ploy used against Christians in order to: a) Disturb their Christmas celebration, the important feast of Christians; it is even a National holiday. b) Instead of conducting bandh they have unleashed a reign of terror, destroying institutions, intimidating Christians and forcing them to go out of their homes. c) Their entire attention is on driving away Christians from the region.

We narrate for you, in brief, the course of events and the volume of
violence:

INSTITUTIONS ATTACKED SO FAR

PARISH CHURCH VILLAGE CHURCHES: Balliguda, Bodagan-Balliguda, Balliguda town, Kamapada – Balliuda, Pobingia, Mandipanka- Godapur, Baminigam, Jhinjirguda- Bamunigam, Ulipadaro – Bamunigam, Goborkutty-Kattingia, Kulpakia- Nuagam, 3 more village church

CONVENTS PRESBYTERY: Balliguda, Balliguda, Pobingia, Pobingia, Phulbani, Bamunigam, Bamunigam

HOSTELS: Pobingia 2, Balliguda 2, Bamunigam 2, Minor Seminary (Balliguda), Vocational Training Centre (Balliguda) In addition, offices such as those of World Vision have also been destroyed.

The course of violence so far is:

24/12/07: Trouble began at Bamunigaon village when a Christmas pandal was attacked with guns, injuring three persons. On 25th December, church building at Bamunigaon has been attacked and damaged. The Catholic Church at Baliguda a sub-divisional headquarters town, was suddenly attacked by mob and vandalised, ransacked and damaged very badly. The Computer Institute was attacked and completely destroyed. Ambulance Van set on fire.

25/12/07: CNI Church attacked and damaged at Baliguda... World Vision ADP Office at Daringbadi was attacked and vandalised. Two Jeep and motor bikes set on fire. Police Station at Tikabali a Block headquarters was surrounded by the mob and two police jeeps set on fire. Two churches in Chakapadu area were attacked while church service was going on and people chased out and beaten up. Meals prepared for Christmas feast was trampled.

No church service was allowed to conduct in Phulbani the District headquarters of Kondhmal district, despite the presence of District Collector and Superintendent of Police. The district administration said they could go ahead to conduct church service at their own risk. Chandballi Baptist Church in Balasore district was attacked while Christmas Service was going on and people were chased out and beaten up.
Towards evening heavy fighting between Christians and Hindu fundamentalist group erupted in Barakhama area, near Baliguda town.

Our efforts to get the government of Orissa to expeditiously contain the violence, arrest the culprits and restore the confidence of the poor tribal and Dalit Christian community in the have met with a phlegmatic bureaucratic response.

While the Christian leadership has been appealing for peace and harmony, aggressive religious fundamentalist elements or local ashrams and political organisations have a run of field, and are openly threatening the Church.

We appeal to the Central government to impress on the Government of Orissa t ensures that there is ample police protection given to the Christian community, its personnel, and insitutions in the state.



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