This post is a part of #JaatiNahiAdhikaar, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz with National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights & Safai Karamchari Andolan, to demand implementation of scholarships in higher education for SC/ST students, and to end the practice of manual scavenging. Click here to find out more.
This post is a part of JaatiNahiAdhikaar, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz with National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights & Safai Karamchari Andolan, to demand implementation of scholarships in higher education for SC/ST students, and to end the practice of manual scavenging. Click here to find out more.
Trigger warning: Mentions of suicide
Today, people in the Dalit and Adivasi communities are rising in thousands. Now, they are more assertive and more cohesive about who they are. They are much more aware of their rights and significantly they are ready to break the sealing of Brahmanical hegemony from their life, from their society. After 2000 years of a Brahmanical prison of religion, injustice, prejudice, stigma and mental slavery, they are now freeing themselves. And, this is a very clear sign that Brahmanical hegemony is dying somewhere in the corner.
Right from the beginning, Baba Saheb strongly believed that all citizens are essentially required to be educated for the actual growth and development of any nation or community. He believed that education is the only power that can cut the shackles of discrimination and poverty.
His trust in education was so firm that he gave education the first place in his famous slogan “educate, agitate and organised.” For him, true education meant to understand society, awaken self-consciousness, fight for self-esteem and most importantly, payback to the community. Now, it seems like all these dreams of Ambedkar’s are fertile.
Over the last decade, we have seen tremendous mobility in the field of education. Many students belonging to oppressed communities are able to get into each and every premier institution and university in India and many more abroad.
Even though this university space is not free from discrimination and humiliation. Rohit Vemula, Payal Tadvi and many more are examples of those who faced severe discrimination and later chose to end their lives. In our Brahmanical system, Dalit and Adivasi students dying by suicide and dropping out from University are quite familiar instances, and this is the reason behind the lower proportion of representation in higher education today.
Those students who died by suicide remain heroes and an inspiration for the next generation. Because they resisted this Manubadi system like revolutionaries and created their own history; they challenged the system operated by so-called upper caste people and stood firm as they faced threats and tried hard to uproot the Brahmanical hegemony.
The institutional killing of Rohit Vemula did not go in vain but raised thousands of more ‘Ambedkarites’ in every university space and our Ambedkarite social movement was boosted to new heights. In a country like India, the life of the oppressed community is not easy.
You have to battle for everything, from food, shelter and clothes to rights, justice and equality. You get nothing without a battle. And this battle is not about power or glory but this battle is all about self-esteem, identity, rights and dignity. This battle is about justice and liberty. A battle against mental slavery.
Today, people from the Dalit community are responsible, serious, dutiful to their existence. They are constantly thriving to reach new milestones. After challenging the social and economic conditions, forthwith moving in the direction of politics.
A trend of politics, which is based on morale, ethics and social justice, a politics which is based on Philosophy, of Dr B.R Ambedkar. Politics, which annihilate the caste system and gender inequality.
ASA (Ambedkarite Student Association) from TISS, Mumbai and BAPSA (Birsha, Phule, Ambedkar Students Association) from JNU, Delhi are two student organisations that propagate the Ambedkar philosophy in their student politics in University spaces. Why? Because like other political wings in university spaces, they do not belong to any mainstream political party, but they emerge from the Ambedkarite social movement.
The 2019 student election result from Tata Institute of Social Science Mumbai was significant for the Dalit community. A Dalit boy from the Tapra Barmer, a remote village of Rajasthan came to Mumbai to Pursue his MA in Water Policy and Governance at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and he succeeded in winning the President seat of Tata Institute of Social Science with a huge majority.
This is a great achievement for our community. This victory was not just a student election, but a victory against Brahmanism and their hegemony. Clearly, he is creating a new swell in the existing discourse.
It will be apt to end with an immortal quote by BR Ambedkar which goes thus. “Men are mortal. So are ideas. An idea needs propagation as much as a plant needs watering. Otherwise, both will wither and die”.
So, as long as we live, Baba Saheb will remain, and we will work together to glorify his name till justice prevails, till Brahmanism dies and till the inequality vanishes. That idea of Dalit empowerment, which is only found in lip service even after 60 years of independence, is today an idea whose time has come, an idea that needs to be propagated by each one of us, cutting across political affiliations so as to ensure for future generations, ‘Dalit’, does not mean oppressed or marginalised, but empowered and enriched.