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.
Hai ladayi yeh ZAAT ki, zaat-o-jamaat ki, Din-o-raat ki, FIRQO mein bate aap ki ✊🏽 HAPPY REPUBLIC DAY 🇮🇳 JAI HIND! P.C – Joint Action Committee for Social Justice -UoH #justiceforrohith #dalitlivesmatter #rohithvemula #dalit #universityofhyderabad #uoh #brahmin #casteism #justice #suicide #hyderabad #republicday #2016
— MANJUL (@MANJULtoons) August 8, 2016
— Shriraj Kesariya (@_shriraj) July 26, 2016
Humanity MUST do better. It broke my heart to learn about the caste system in #India in elementary/middle school. The bird and pieces of information picked up over the years added to the sadness. DALIT LIVES MATTER TOO!!!!! SPREAD THIS WIDE AND FAR! #Alllivesmatter will be true when #Dalitlivesmatter Repost from @guesswhograffiti using @RepostRegramApp –
— Narendra Modi (@OfficeOfModi) August 8, 2016
A photo posted by Paban Dhababipabada (@zephyr.dust) on