11 Powerful Artworks That Prove How Dalit Voices Are Rising In India

Posted on September 28, 2016 in Culture-Vulture, Human Rights, Society

By Sourya Majumder:

Over the last year, India has witnessed a vast Dalit uprising across the nation. This uprising, a long time in the making, has challenged the traditional idea of ‘India’ itself. The mass refusal by the Dalit community in Gujarat to clear cow carcasses, and the subsequent Chalo Una movement, might be the latest manifestations of this mass uprising, but they are the culmination of centuries of oppression (and consequent resistance), galvanised by recent events like the institutionalised murder of Rohith Vemula, the mistreatment of SC students by the University of Hyderabad, and the rising threat of violence from self-proclaimed Gau Rakshaks (cow protectors), to name just some of the more visible ones.

The movement comes at a time when the nation is also grappling, perhaps more than ever, with its long legacy of violence against marginalised communities, whether in Kashmir or in Bastar. Figures like Vemula and Jignesh Mevani have emerged as figureheads (but are by no means representative of the entire length and breadth of the movement), while politicians like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, infamous for a history marked with violence against minorities, are being called into question for their complicity in this oppression.

In times of conflict and revolution, art has always risen to the occasion and even contributed to change. Whether it be propaganda films for any number of conflicts, the surrealist movement in the the World Wars, music during the Vietnam war, or political cartoons throughout the ages, art has been an important facilitator of social change.

This Dalit uprising has been no exception, and artists and cartoonists have come out with their own powerful depictions of the movement, the people associated with it, and the events that led to it. Hashtags like #DalitRising and #DalitLivesMatter have helped popularise these posts on social media, creating a powerful statement and a valuable archive. Here is a small gallery of these powerful cartoons.

1. On the University of Hyderabad’s continued Brahminism and oppression of SC students and protesters, following the death of Rohith Vemula.

2. On the Government’s focus on ‘Digital India’ initiatives over violence from cow vigilantes.

3. On the Government’s favourite animal.

4. On Cow Vigilantes stripping and beating four Dalit men for skinning a dead cow

5. On the continued oppression of cow/caste politics and Brahminism.

6. On the suicide/institutionalised murder of Rohith Vemula.

7. On the deeply entrenched casteism in the Indian Education system.

8. On Prime Minister Modi’s ‘appeal’ to Hindu Nationalists that he be shot before his ‘Dalit Brethren’, as a response to rising violence against the community.

9. More on Modi’s feelings of brotherhood.

10. On the rise of Indian University students against the RSS and Hindu Nationalism.

11. On the oppressive, multi-tiered caste hierarchy that fuels Indian Society.

Plagiarised from the book #HatredInTheBelly. Artist- Nidhin Shobana. #Ambedkar #CasteSystem #KadupuloKasi #JaiBhim

A photo posted by Paban Dhababipabada (@zephyr.dust) on