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Arun Kumar


Thoughts and opinion on this or any other articles can be shared with Ambedkartimes.com and comments are always appreciated towards but Ambedkartimes.com/Editor does not have the same opinions as others. The views expressed in the articles/news published in the site www.ambedkartimes.com are that of their writers, and it is not implied that Prem Kumar Chumber, Editor / www.ambedkartimes.com endorses them. Prem K. Chumber

A DREAM FINALLY COMING TRUE –
AN INTERNATIONAL MEMORIAL TO
DR. BABASAHEB AMBEDKAR IN LONDON

After tense months of delays, on 26 August 2015 the Government of Maharashtra exchanged contracts on 10 King Henry’s Road, NW3. This house, located near Primrose Hill in north London, was where Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar lodged in 1921-22.  Dr Ambedkar (14 April 1891 – 6 December 1956), popularly known as Babasaheb, was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who inspired the Modern Buddhist Movement and campaigned against social discrimination against Untouchables (Dalits), women and labour. He was Independent India's first law minister and the principal architect of the Constitution of India.
Ms Santosh Dass, MBE, President of the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK, comments,

“I am delighted that Mr Raj Kumar Badole, Minister for Social Justice and Special Assistance at Government of Maharashtra, via the High Commission of India in London, has exchanged contracts on 10 King Henry’s Road, NW3.
This follows my proposal to GOM in September 2014 that the house be bought by GOM and turned into an educational and cultural centre. Generations of Indians in the UK and visitors studying, interested or inspired by Dr Ambedkar’s key roles in furthering social justice, human rights and equal treatment issues will be able to visit. He is a figure on par with William Wilberforce and Dr Martin Luther King. Additionally, its five bedrooms could be used as accommodation for Indian students from Dalit backgrounds while doing post-graduate studies in the UK.
FABO UK has a long history with this site. As part of the celebration of the centenary of Dr Ambedkar’s birth, organised under the auspices of FABO UK, English Heritage in 1991 recognised its historic significance and installed a ‘blue plaque’ on the exterior of the property with the words “DR BHIMRAO RAMJI AMBEDKAR 1891-1956 Indian Crusader for Social Justice lived here 1921-22”.

Whilst in this house Dr Ambedkar enriched his academic studies and strengthened his resolve to challenge the impact of the Caste System and British Rule in India. It was also during this time that India’s Government was struggling with the falling value of the Indian Rupee – the backdrop to his thesis The Problem of the Rupee: Its origin and its solution.

There is a lot of work to do on the house before it can be opened to visitors.

We look forward to working with GOM and the High Commission in London in the months and years to come to ensure that this cultural and political heritage site is put to uses of which Dr Ambedkar would approve.

FABO UK would like to take this opportunity to thank the following key people in India and the GOM for their tireless and unflinching enthusiasm and support in making our vision a reality: Mr Raj Kumar Badole, GOM’s Minister for Social Justice and Special Assistance, His Excellency, Mr Ranjan Mathai, High Commissioner of India in London, and his team, Mr Vinod Tawade, GOM’s Minister of, Higher & Technical Education and Cultural Affairs,  Mr R K Giakwad IAS (Indian Administrative Services), Ex-Secretary & Commissioner Social Justice Department, Mr Ramdas Athwale, MP, Padma Shri Kalpana Saroj, and Mr Ramesh Katke, Deputy Registrar GOM.
Notes to Editors
 
Contact Ms Santosh Dass 0044 7902 806342 for more information or press interviews

FABOUK estimated the house would cost GBP 4 million. This includes the current asking price for the property as advertised at GBP 3.1 million;   Stamp Duty; legal costs, house insurance costs, and the necessary renovations to the property.
FABO UK
In the UK there are a number of organisations with a common interest in following the teachings of Dr Ambedkar and traditions of Buddhism. FABO, UK with its Head Office in Southall, West London, was formed in 1985 as a central UK body to strengthen these organisations’ loose or informal associations. It is a voluntary and non-profit making organisation. FABO UK has a number of objectives. One key one is to propagate the teachings of Dr Ambedkar and Lord Buddha. Over the years the numbers of organisations with a common interest that have joined FABO UK have fluctuated yet grown. FABO UK is run by an elected Executive Team. The current President of FABO UK of Ms Santosh Dass, MBE took up the position September 2013.
The joint General Secretaries are Mr Arun Kumar and Mr Gautam Chakravarty.
Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK
Buddha Vihara   12 Featherstone Road Southall West London MIDDX UB2 5AA

E: cgautam@ambedkar.org.uk    U: www.ambedkar.org.uk    Tel: +44 7956 918053

Ambedkartimes.com takes pride in congratulating the “Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organizations UK” (FABO UK) on this great achievement. Prem Chumber

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com August 27, 2015

AMBEDKAR MEMORIAL IN LONDON COMES TO REALITY

A three member delegation of the government of Maharashtra (GOM) including Minister for Social Justice and Special Assistance, Raj Kumar Badole, Minister of State, Dilip Kamble and Principal Secretary Ujjwal Uke visited London from 23rd to 28 April to hold talks with the Indian High Commissioner (IHC), solicitors and evaluators to finalise the purchase of the house 10 King Henrys Road, in North London where Dr Ambedkar stayed during his studies at the London School of Economics during 1921-22.

Proposal to buy this house and turn into a memorial to Dr Ambedkar, his life and works was submitted by the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK (FABO UK).   It was proposed to convert the property into a cultural and educational centre that generations of Indians in the UK and visitors interested or inspired by Dr Ambedkar’s key roles in furthering social justice, human rights and equal treatment issues could visit.

After visiting the house, the delegation had discussions with the Indian High Commission officials and the solicitor firm to complete the legal formalities. 

On Monday, 27 April,  a meeting with the members of Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK (FABO UK) represented by Ram Pal Rahi, Vice President, Arun Kumar, General Secretary, Gautam Chakravarty, Joint Secretary  and Mr. Pritam Lal, First Secretary IHC took place at India House.  Arun Kumar thanked Mr Badole and the Maharashtra government for accepting the proposal of FABO UK to purchase the property and turn into an Ambedkar memorial. He further added that the timely decision taken by the Social Justice Minister had saved the house slipping to another buyer. In his response, Mr Badole said “The government of Maharashtra has accepted FABO UK’s recommendations.  We have appointed two companies to conduct the valuation process of the house and the entire process is likely to be completed by the end of May. We are committed to buy the house and we will buy it.”  Talking on the historicity of the house, Gautam Chakravarty said, “It took us 20 years to seek the necessary permission to install the memorial outside 10 King Henrys Road and eventually the ‘blue plaque’ was installed by English Heritage on 6 December 1991.”

Ambedkar Chair: The minister also initiated talks for a chair in Ambedkar’s name at London School of Economics (LSE) where Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had studied, linking it with two new scholarships for Indian students. Mr Badole also broke the good news that “LSE has positively replied to our proposal and informally agreed to set up a Chair in the name of Dr Ambedkar and scholarships for Indian students. I have asked the LSE to send a former proposal for the chair and the running costs. The government of Maharashtra will provide the funds. ”

FABO UK officials visited the property along with the surveyor and Mr. R.K. Gaikwad IAS Retired (former Commissioner for Social Welfare). Mr Gaikwad is a staunch Ambedkarite who lobbied the GOM in Mumbai on behalf of FABO UK.

Ms Santosh Dass, MBE, President of FABO UK said: “I am delighted that Mr Raj Kumar Badole, Minister for Social Justice and Special Assistance in the Government of Maharashtra has finally made arrangements to secure Dr Ambedkar's former residence in north London. This follows my proposal to the former Chief Minister of the GOM on 1 September 2014. There are many committed followers of Dr Ambedkar including Mr C Gautam and Mr Arun Kumar in the UK and Mr R K Gaikwad and Mr Ramesh Katke in India who have worked tirelessly since last September to make our vision a reality.
I am also delighted that my proposal for Ambedkar scholarship at LSE for which we were working on since 2014 has also been accepted.    

It is important to inspire young Dalits to fulfill their potential around the world. 10 King Henry’s Road will house a number of students from Dalit background who come to study in the UK and also be a focal point in the West to spread Dr Ambedkar’s message about equality, human rights and social justice. For untold generations of people to come, 10 King Henry’s Road will become a place of pilgrimage for people around the globe inspired by the fractious history of civil rights, the potential successes of social activism and, of course, Dr Ambedkar's legacy. "

On the last leg of his itinerary, Mr Badole visited Ambedkar Hall in southall and had an open meeting with the followers and admirers of Dr Ambedkar.  He appreciated FABO UK’s work and hoped to work together in future to develop the Ambedkar Memorial in London. He also met scholarship holder students from Maharashtra and listened to their grievances.

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com May 10, 2015

CASTE PREJUDICE
HAS BECOME GLOBAL

An upper-caste Gujarati family who ran a grocery shop in the US wanted to know the name of the Indian sitting next to them in a private van in Pennsylvania. When his name did not reveal his caste, they probed further and asked for his surname. He said he was South Indian and didn't have a surname. 

"I told them I knew why they were asking me these questions. They wanted to know my caste," says Sakya, who told them he was dalit. Over the next few days they sat as far away from him as possible while travelling together. Sakya, a PhD in history, says he has never faced any racial discrimination from white Americans; it's his own countrymen that have discriminated against him.

Education qualifications do little to erase the caste biases that Indians carry with them. A recent survey by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and the University of Maryland, US revealed that one in four Indians continue to practise untouchability in some form in their homes.

It's the same story across continents. The National Post writes of how, for dalits of Canada's British Columbia, the barbs are subtle. "They come in seemingly innocuous questions about your family village or last name...They show up in careless conversation, among friends, behind closed doors. A messy house is referred to as a chamar house."

Indian immigrant Kamlesh Ahir told the newspaper: "It doesn't matter if we are a doctor, teacher, because we belong to the lower castes.... They think we are bulls-t. We are zero....I'm in Canada ... But the bulls-t castes are still here. We live it every day."

"When Hindus move to other countries, the caste system transmigrates with them. Wherever Indians migrate to America, they build temples. They also export a Brahmin priest to perform the rituals in the temple. In this way the same structure repeats itself," says noted dalit scholar Kancha Ilaiah.
While New Jersey has one of the largest Hindu temples in the US, dalit entrepreneur Deelip Mhaske, a prominent member of the Indian community, is never invited to any cultural or religious Hindu function such as Diwali and Holi.

"The dalit gurdwara in Burnaby (British Columbia) was founded in 1982 after dalit worshippers felt unwelcome in an upper-caste gurdwara," writes Cheryl Chan in Canada's National Post. Chan points out the irony of the fact that Sikhism does not officially have a caste system.

A year ago, the British parliament officially outlawed caste discrimination. A UK government study had found evidence of caste-based discrimination at the workplace, in the delivery of services and in the education system. Coventry, a city in Central England, saw one of the most degrading cases of caste discrimination. "An elderly dalit lady was receiving home care from the city council, which would send a council worker to her house to bathe her. One of the council workers happened to be an Indian of a higher caste. When she discovered the lady was dalit, she refused to give her a bath," recalls Lekh Pall, an activist with the Anti-discrimination Alliance.

People often hide their identity as dalits as they do not want to be discriminated against, says Dr Sushant Godghate, a doctorate in engineering who lives in Japan. "I had an Indian colleague in Japan who I knew to be Buddhist (dalit convert). When I asked him if he would like to take part in the Ambedkarite movement in Japan he refused, saying he was not from the community," says Godghate.

Recently an upper-caste Hindu in an office in Japan overheard a dalit colleague talking of organizing protests over the brutal murder of three members of a dalit family in Maharashtra last month, an incident reminiscent of the Khairlanji killings. The dalit colleague says he and the upper-caste Hindu co-worker would earlier hang out together, but after this incident, the upper-caste colleague began to avoid him. 
Recent protests in New York over the killings in Maharashtra saw several other groups join in, from African American church groups to Arab artists. However, upper-caste Indians were conspicuous by their absence. 

In a paper on Australia's South Asian diaspora, Deakin University researcher Amit Sarwal argues that "despite the modern nature of South Asian diaspora in Australia and despite the egalitarian nature of Australia and even if caste as an institution cannot be practiced publicly or caste consciousness has not survived, this consciousness has very subtly merged into class consciousness and a demonstration of social status in relation to others. The 'others' being those who do not belong to the same jati, linguistic group and economical level..." 

When an upper-caste Indian who has grown up in a deeply hierarchical society leaves India, he wants someone to dominate, says Chandra Bhan Prasad, mentor at the Dalit India Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "Africans in Durban say Indians treat them worse than whites do. For them, blacks are like dalits. But in countries like the US, where they have no one else to suppress, they turn on dalits," says Prasad.
http://m.timesofindia.com/home/stoi/deep-focus/Prejudice-even-in-pardes/articleshow/45322711.cms

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com November 30, 2014

TURNING DR. AMBEDKAR’S FORMER LODGINGS IN LONDON INTO
A MEMORIAL FOR THE REMARKABLE MAN AND CRUSADER FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

   


Arun Kumar

   

Ms Santosh Dass, MBE, President Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK said: “I am delighted that the Government of Maharashtra has supported the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK’s initiative to purchase the house where Dr Ambedkar lodged whist he was studying at the London School of Economics. We are still awaiting official confirmation.

English Heritage has already recognised the historicity of 10 King Henrys Road, NW3 by installing a  ‘blue plaque’ on the property. This was unveiled in December 1991 by Roy Hattersley MP, the then Deputy Leader of Labour Party. In this house where he lodged, Dr Ambedkar enriched his academic studies and strengthened his resolve to challenge the impact of the Caste System and British Rule in India.

Dr. Ambedkar left a huge body of writings spanning forty years that cover a range of subjects, amongst them, history, economics, anthropology, politics, philosophy and law. These writings are proof-positive of his prowess, his intellectual rigour and his clarity of thought that must be shared with present and future generations.

There is a long way to go. If our initiative is successful, the property will be turned into a memorial to Dr. Ambedkar, his life and works. The house will be a cultural and educational center that generations of Indians in the UK and visitors interested or inspired by Dr. Ambedkar’s key roles in furthering social justice, human rights and equal treatment issues can visit. The bedrooms would be ideal for some students from Dalit background from India who complete their post graduate education in the UK and visitors to London as part of Dr. Ambedkar missions worldwide.

FABOUK would like to take this opportunity to thank the following key people in India and the Government of Maharashtra for their tireless and unflinching enthusiasm and support in making our vision a reality: Dr. Nitin Raut- Cabinet Minister Government of Maharashtra (GOM), Mr. R K Gaikwad IAS (Indian Administrative services),  Ex Secretary & Commissioner Social Justice Department,  Mr. Ramesh Katke Deputy Registrar GOM, Dr Vijay Kadam, Social Activist, Mr. Siddharth Kharat Private Sectary to Dr. Raut, Mr. Lalit Khobragade Officer on Special Duty to Minister.

Arun Kumar
General Secretary,
Federation of Ambedkarite & Buddhist Organisations, UK (FABOUK)

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com September 15, 2014

INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATIONS IN LONDON


The annual celebration of India's Independence Day took place on 24 August at the Indian Gymkhana Club in West London. The event was organised by the Indian High Commission. Thousands of people from various communities participated. The event included the annual raising of the India flag by the Mr. Ranjan Mathai, India’s High Commissioner to London and live music and dance entertainment. There were also about 50 stalls hosted various organisations - some of them providing refreshments and food and others advertising their products. India House had invited the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK (FABOUK) to host a stall at the event. FABOUK and the Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford, had a large stall and displayed Dr Ambedkar and Buddhist literature and portraits of Dr Ambedkar.  Hundreds of people visited the stall and over 300 copies of a Dr Ambedkar souvenir were given to interested visitors.   Mr. Ranjan Mathai along with senior India House officials also visited the stall and appreciated the display.

One of the visitors remarked that in his view the Dr Ambedkar stall was one of the best and most educative. A documentary film director, Christine Booth from the Pacifica Films also visited the stall and showed a keen interest in Dr Ambedkar. She talked at length about the contribution of Dr Ambedkar to the human rights issues, gender equality and the revival of Buddhism. Ranjit Boadh, Harbans Virdee, Mr.  & Mrs Pirthi Kaeley and Arun Kumar managed the stalls.

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com August 30, 2014

CASTE DEBATE IN
WESTMINSTER HALLJULY 9, 2014

A special
report by

Arun Kumar

(General Secretary)
Federation of Ambedkarite &
Buddhist Organizations UK 

Please find attached the transcript of yesterday’s debate in the house of Commons on Caste Discrimination in the UK sponsored by Adam Holloway MP for Gravesham. The  Minister’s  response in the Parliament has no real answer to the question about the unnecessary delays to the consultation and implementation of the caste legislation.

Our thanks goes to the MPs who participated in the debate especially to Adam Holloway who secured the debate on the delay to the implementation of legislation on caste discrimination.

It appears that we have a long way to go to achieve our objective and we must get prepared for this battle.

CASTE DISCRIMINATION

4.42 pm

Mr. Adam Holloway (Gravesham) (Con): It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Dr. McCrea, and I thank the Minister for allowing me to ruin her afternoon. I am sure she had other things that she would have preferred to be doing.

Why are we having this debate? I went to the Brandon Street Gurdwara in Gravesend a few months ago, and I was amazed by the strength of feeling over a petition on caste discrimination. Since then, I have been around the country with my hon. Friend the Member for Witham (Priti Patel), who is the Prime Minister’s diaspora champion, and I visited Leicester, Southall and the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Richard Fuller). I did not realize that quite so many people in the UK suffer because of “traditional”—if that is the right word—caste systems originating in south Asia.

According to a survey on one of these castes, published by the Anti-Caste Discrimination Alliance, 58% of Dalits—that is to say the untouchables, the Chamars, or whatever else people want to call them—believe they face discrimination because of their caste. Much more interestingly, 80% believe that the police would not understand caste discrimination if it was reported to them. Some Dalits are being ignored for promotion. They are victims of humiliation or harassment and sometimes they face being fired.

So is there a form of hidden apartheid within our shores? After some brave and necessary moves by our Home Secretary to outlaw such things as forced marriage, can we really continue to excuse ourselves for not putting people who practice this casteism on the wrong side of the law?

There has been a timeline to this. In November 2009, the Anti-Caste Discrimination Alliance published its report, “Hidden Apartheid—Voice of the Community”, highlighting lower-caste experiences of caste discrimination. Between April 2009 and April 2010, during parliamentary debates on the Equality Bill, Dalit organizations sought to persuade parliamentarians to include caste as a new protected characteristic.

On 1 October 2010, the Equality Act 2010 came into force. The caste power found in section 9(5)(a) of the Act allows amendment by ministerial order

“to provide for caste to be an aspect of race”.

In December 2010—I am halfway through these dates now, by the way—an independent research report asked for by the last Government was published by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. It suggested that caste discrimination and harassment were falling outside the Act. The coalitions Government are still considering that report.

In August 2011, Amardeep and Vijay Begraj, a married couple—he had been working in a solicitor’s firm as a manager, and she had been working as a solicitor—came before the courts. The argument was that he, and I think she, as well, had been fired because their union, being from different castes, had not been approved of. The Home Secretary then publicly considered whether to add the caste system to the equality law.

9 July 2014: Column 135WH

Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood) (Con): Many of my constituents attend the Gurdwara in Gravesend to which my hon. Friend referred, but more still are members of the Ravidassia community in Strood.

Dr. William McCrea (in the Chair): Order. Two Members are standing.

Mr. Holloway: I was so interested in what my hon. Friend was saying—that is what happened there. I am sorry, Dr. McCrea.

Mark Reckless: My understanding was that the Government had given a commitment that it would bring in this order, so why has it not happened?

Mr. Holloway: The Government will tell us in a moment, which is part of the reason why I have called this debate.

On 1 March, the Minister present made a statement. She announced that the Government were thinking of taking an educational approach to this and would use Talk for a Change. However, the NIESR criticized that, saying that it only raises awareness and does not assist people being discriminated against by their employer, nor by such things as day care centres.

The Government then asked the Equality and Human Rights Commission to review and make recommendations. In April 2013, the Minister was asked to sign the ministerial order and on 29 July, the Government published their caste discrimination legislation timetable. It will run up to and beyond the 2015 general election. On 5 February, the Begraj tribunal was abandoned, because the judge recused herself when she was told by a third party that a witness in the case had had their home smashed up by an unknown group. On 28 February, the EHRC published its two reports on the matter and called on the Government to add in the necessary protections on caste.

Let me just give a brief outline of caste in the UK. According to the 2011 census, about 4.5 million in this country are of south Asian origin. Of those, about 20% are from the untouchables, the Chamars, the Dalit community—I think it is about 860,000 people.

What is the Hindu caste system? Who are these 1 million Dalits in the UK and where do they fit in? Imagine a pyramid and at the very top, there are the gods, and then there are four castes. The top caste, the elite, are the Brahmins; these are the people who traditionally were the priests. Then there are the Kshatriyas; they are just below the Brahmins and were traditionally the warriors and the kings. Below them, there are the Vaishyas, who were the merchants and the farmers. Below them, at the bottom, there are the Shudras, who were the servants. Below even them, by this narrative, right at the very bottom—sometimes not even included in pretty pyramids like the one I have here in my notes—are the Dalits. They are known to some as the handlers of filth, or the untouchables.

This really is happening in the UK. After lunch, we were looking on Twitter. People can have a look themselves. They should look for “Brahmin for life”, “Jat for life” and “Brahmin boys look out for each other”. There are even dating websites. There is nothing wrong with that, but what about www.brahminmatrimony.com or this from www.asiansinglesolution.com? X is an

9 July 2014: Column 136WH

“Attractive, down to earth, caring, Hindu Brahmin girl with strong values and morals”.

As previously mentioned, 80% of the Dalits in the survey said that they did not believe that the police would understand if caste-based discrimination was reported to them.

Richard Fuller (Bedford) (Con): I am very pleased that my hon. Friend called for this debate. Does he share my concern at what I would characterize as the nonchalant, “Who cares?” ignorance of discrimination being pursued by the current Government’s policy in this regard? Somehow they believe that the discrimination that he has just spoken about will magically end at the workplace—that somehow because there is discrimination protection outside, we do not need to have any protections inside the workplace. Does he not think that that is nonchalant?

Mr. Holloway: I will come on to that, and I know that the work that the Minister is doing also applies to it.

There has been recent court action. There was the successful case of Tirkey v. Chandok, in which the claim for caste discrimination was allowed. However, these are just what I think are called first instance decisions and are not binding. According to Swan Turton Solicitors, there was a conflicting ruling in an earlier case, Naveed v. Aslam, in which the tribunal rejected any claims for caste discrimination. It was stated that the reason was that the Government still had not exercised their power to amend section 9(5)(a) of the 2010 Act.

The simple fact is that at present, if a person in the UK is harassed because of their caste in places of employment or education or where they receive public services such as health and social care, there is no legislation in place to protect them. Let us not overstate this, but in the past few weeks I have repeatedly come upon people who have said, for example, that they feel like they are looked down on by members of what would be traditional castes. People have told me of their disapproval of inter-caste marriage. I have heard anecdotes about some people not having had the choice of marrying the person whom they would like to marry. I have even heard about people who have not felt welcome at certain places of worship.

Gareth Johnson (Dartford) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing the debate. I know that he is very well respected in the south Asian community in his constituency, which neighbours mine. Will he comment on what I have found? I do not know whether my experience is similar to his own. I am talking about just how shocking the caste system and discrimination within it can be. We see classism existing in every community, but this goes way beyond that to create a great deal of friction between different groups of people. Most concerns come from within those communities themselves.

Mr Holloway: That is a great point. What my hon. Friend is talking about is the fact that in our areas we have a lot of Sikhs, and of course among the central tenets of the Sikh faith are tolerance, equality and so on. I know that the Sikhs, certainly on our shared patch, are working on it, but this occurs far more widely across the south Asian communities in our country.

9 July 2014: Column 137WH

What is the reason for saying that we need some sort of legislation? It is as I have suggested. In the area of employment, there is the example of a manager of a bus company in, I think, Southampton who had to deal with a demand from someone that his shifts be changed so that he would not have to work with someone of a lower caste. Twenty per cent. of Dalits felt that they had been informally excluded from social events, informal networks and so on.

In the area of health, the Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance reported a few cases. One related to an elderly woman who was being looked after. Her carer, who was from a “higher” caste, found an icon indicating that the person she was looking after was from a lower caste, and the son of the bedbound woman found that his mother had not been washed for a number of days. We have had examples of physiotherapists refusing to treat people of lower caste. In the area of marriage, we have heard of the Begraj case. We have heard of people feeling unable to marry outside their caste.

What could legislation do? It could send the message that castes have never existed in Britain and really should not. It would protect people in workplaces, schools, hospitals and so on.

The Government’s commitment on these issues has been welcomed by victims of caste discrimination and forms just one part of the wider reforms being put forward. The Home Secretary has outlawed forced marriages, which are, as she rightly put it,

“a tragedy for each and every victim”.

Female genital mutilation is also illegal in this country. I am not sure, therefore, that we can necessarily use the argument that we might upset certain people in the south Asian community.

I forewarned the Minister of these three questions. First, the Government have published a timetable for caste discrimination legislation. Why does it run up to and beyond the 2015 general election? Secondly, will the Government involve the relevant groups and communities in their preparation of the public consultation document? It would be very good to see the involvement of some of those groups in that consultation. Finally, in plain English, when will the consultation document be published; does the Minister expect any further delays?

Dr. William McCrea (in the Chair): The Minister will start her winding-up speech at the latest at two minutes past 5. She will have 10 minutes in which to wind up the debate.

4.56 pm

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): I will be very brief so that the Minister will have plenty of time to reply. First, I pay enormous tribute to the hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr Holloway) for securing this debate, for the way in which he has spoken on this subject today and for his willingness to grant me a few minutes of his time. I am very grateful for that.

I am one of the trustees of the Dalit Solidarity Network and a member of the all-party group for Dalits, the chair of which is Bishop Harries, a Member of the House of Lords. Together with the director of the Dalit Solidarity Network, Meena Varma, I have been to the

9 July 2014: Column 138WH
United Nations in Geneva to raise issues of Dalit discrimination in India and many other places, but also, clearly, in this country.

I will briefly put on the record the enormity of the situation. Around the world, 260 million people are Dalits —scheduled castes. They suffer grievous discrimination, terrible poverty, appalling levels of crime committed against them and, in most of India and Nepal and other places, appalling standards of living. Every week, 13 Dalit people in India are murdered. Five Dalit homes are repossessed every week. Three women are raped every day. Eleven Dalits are beaten every day. A crime is committed against Dalit people every 11 minutes in India.

The Ambedkar constitution is an excellent document. Dr Ambedkar was himself a Dalit. It absolutely outlaws discrimination and has some provision for protected employment for people of the scheduled castes. It is a very effective document, but raising these matters with the Indian Government or the Indian high commission is extremely difficult; they are quite resistant to having good discussions about it.

As the hon. Gentleman pointed out, discrimination also exists in this country. There are roughly 1 million Dalit people in Britain. As a result of both the case that he brought up, which was one that we raised in Geneva at the UN Human Rights Council, and the debates that took place in advance of the Equality Act 2010, we are in a situation in which we are relying on the Government now to introduce regulation to put it on the face of the law in this country that it would be illegal to discriminate on the basis of caste.

In getting to this position, the Government of the day in 2010, the then Labour Government, with my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) as the Minister leading on the Bill, accepted an amendment put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) that required the Government to undertake research on caste discrimination in this country. That research demonstrated clearly that there is serious discrimination, and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said, in terms, that the British Government had an obligation to introduce the legislation. The Minister, I am sure, will tell us that consultations are taking place. I agree with consultations; everything should be consulted on, but there should be a limit to the time in which that is done. I am very disappointed that, at the moment, the introduction of the regulation will take us past the end of this Parliament and into the next Parliament. I would like to see something done in this Parliament and I hope that the Minister will give us good news on that.

My final point is that it is never popular to stand up for people who have been grievously discriminated against. I am really pleased with the way in which a number of Members have raised the matter today. Discrimination is wrong in any circumstances and against anybody, and people should be treated with dignity and respect. Our purpose today is to get into British law that clear declaration; at the same time, that will give us the moral authority to talk to others about it. I hope that the Minister will agree to introduce regulations quickly. Above all, I hope she will agree to attend a meeting with the members of the all-party group, which I am sure others could also attend, so that we can have a longer discussion about the matter. The time has come to act and not delay.

9 July 2014: Column 139WH

5 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities (Mrs. Helen Grant): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship today, Dr. McCrea. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Holloway) for securing the debate, and I thank other hon. Members who made important contributions.

The Government has always said that there is no place for unlawful discrimination or prejudice in society. That applies to caste-related issues as much as it does to race, religion or belief. My hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) drew attention to instances of caste hostility and prejudice in our society, and I would like to make it clear how much the Government sympathise with people in such situations. The experience of such antagonism and exclusion from one’s own community must be incredibly distressing. My hon. Friend and others have urged the Government to press on with introducing legislation to make caste discrimination unlawful, and that is exactly what we are trying to do.

Many hon. Members will recall caste being debated during deliberations on the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill last year. It was the will of Parliament that a duty be imposed to make caste an aspect of race for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, and we are well aware of that duty. However, we are also aware that during parliamentary debate on this matter, speakers from all the main parties acknowledged that caste was a particularly sensitive and complex area. Some have suggested that caste legislation should be easy to introduce, but that is simply not the case. There are a number of complexities, and there is no general consensus on caste in the UK, even among communities that are most affected by it. Some have campaigned long and hard for the introduction of specific caste-related legislation, but others—who are equally well informed—do not believe that caste discrimination exists and consider that legislation is, therefore, unnecessary. That does not negate the duty on the Government and the votes in Parliament last year, but it means that we need to prepare a consultation document which, as far as possible, commands the confidence of the relevant groups.

In July 2013, we set out our timetable leading up to the introduction of caste legislation. The process was thorough and detailed, and it was designed to ensure that future legislation was fit and proper. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has been helpful in taking the initiative forward. To start the process, the EHRC commissioned some independent research into identifying a possible definition of caste. The research was also to consider which of the current exceptions for race would apply equally to caste, and to identify whether any new caste-specific exceptions should be included in legislation. The research was intended to inform the contents of the Government consultation that was due to be issued in spring 2014. However, although the EHRC duly published its initial research reports in February 2014, two issues arose earlier this year that have had significant implications for the public consultation.

The first was the unanimous agreement that whatever we did, we did not want to entrench people’s identification with a specific caste within society. That is why a review clause was included in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 to allow for future consideration of any caste provisions to make sure that they remain

9 July 2014: Column 140WH
Appropriate and necessary. That clause cannot be exercised until at least five years after the Act comes into force, which it did in May 2013. The EHRC had originally intended to commission a second research phase that would establish much-needed baseline data that could be used as a starting point for consideration of whether caste legislation was doing its job and stopping unlawful discrimination. Unfortunately, on further consideration the EHRC felt that that research would not be possible and that it might be intrusive and ruin good relations in communities. We have discussed those problems with the EHRC and we are now deciding how best to establish baseline data. We are conducting a feasibility study on the matter.

Richard Fuller: Will the Minister give way?

Mrs. Grant: I am sorry, but I have no time and I have got a lot to talk about, so I will push on.

The second issue concerned a recent employment tribunal case, Tirkey v. Chandok, in which the tribunal found that caste already had legislative protection because it is inherently an aspect of the ethnic origins provision of race in the Equality Act. I want to make it clear that the finding of a single employment tribunal does not set any legally binding precedents for other tribunals. However, the decision reopens concerns that have been debated in Parliament about the extent to which the Government must recognize links between domestic equality law and our international obligations, the relationships between those obligations and future provisions covering caste discrimination, and how such provisions might be framed.

We believe that we need to address those two developments—the Tirkey case and the lack of baseline data—as thoroughly as possible for the purpose of the public consultation. We need to assess the feasibility of any further research into caste discrimination, given the limited success that previous researchers have had in producing clear, generally accepted evidence. We also need to assess the consequences if higher courts were to take the view that caste discrimination is already unlawful under the Equality Act, which might call into question the use of further, specific provision. That is why we have announced that the consultation will have to be put back until the autumn.

My hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham has asked me to deal with three questions, which I will go into in a little detail although not in the order that he mentioned them. He asked whether the Government would involve the relevant groups and communities in the preparation of the public consultation document. Many groups have recently had the opportunity to take part in the research commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which was published in the “Caste in Britain” reports. The Government have studied those carefully. I also look forward to the groups responding to the consultation and commenting on our proposals.

Richard Fuller: Will the Minister give way?

Mrs. Grant: No, I will not; I have got very little time.

My hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham asked me to confirm when I expected the consultation document to be published, and whether I expected any further delays. We anticipate that the consultation will happen later in the autumn. I am as anxious as he is to get on with it, and I do not expect any further delays.

9 July 2014: Column 141WH

The final question my hon. Friend asked was about why the timetable goes beyond the general election in May 2015. We set the timetable purely and simply because we felt that that was a sensible amount of time in which to do the job properly. It is a complicated and sensitive matter and we have to be careful. At the end of the day, we want to get it right. The process includes two full public consultations followed by debates on an affirmative order; it will take some time to do that exercise correctly.

I accept that the delay will disappoint certain Members, and others, but our duty to the public is to ensure that any legislation that the Government introduce meets the mandate given to us by Parliament. In this case, we need to ensure that legislation would provide thorough and proper protection for all those who need it and that the ongoing need for and merits of that legislation can be thoroughly and properly evaluated. To do that properly may take a while, but it is essential to get the detail of such important matters right. I hope that hon. Members present, and others, will have the patience to wait until we are able to consult fully later on this year.

9 July 2014: Column 142WH

Richard Fuller: Will the Minister give way?

Mrs. Grant: Yes, I will now, and with pleasure.

Richard Fuller: I am very grateful. If I may, I would like to ask my hon. Friend the Minister a direct question. She has talked through many reasons for delay; if the issue was discrimination based on gender or race, would she personally be as comfortable about the arguments for delay that she has presented today for those suffering discrimination based on caste?

Mrs Grant: All I can say is that I believe that any form of discrimination is absolutely unacceptable and I will seek to deal with it as quickly and effectively as possible. That relates to caste, colour, race or any form of discrimination, because it is abhorrent and I know how much hurt and damage it can cause.

Question put and agreed to.

5.11 pm

Sitting adjourned.

Posted www.ambedkartimes.com on July 10, 2014

GLOBAL PROTEST AGAINST CASTE DISCRIMINATION
(Arun Kumar, Bedford, UK)

21st June, 2014 will be remembered as a historic day in the Dalit history when for the first time NRIs settled in various countries came on streets simultaneously to protest against the caste based discrimination and ill treatment being met to them on the basis of their birth. In solidarity with Dalit organisations across the World, on this very day, a demonstration against caste discrimination took place in front of the 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the British Prime Minister. This was a second demonstration by Dalits held in the month of June. It was organised by the Anti-Caste discrimination Alliance UK and supported by a number of organisations including Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK, Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford, Southall Black Sisters, Indian Workers Association, Sri Guru Ravidass and Bhagwan Valmik Sabhas across UK and several other organisations. The purpose of the protest was to raise awareness with UK Government policy-makers, Parliamentarians, and the Press about the key issues that impact on socially excluded groups like Dalits, atrocities against them including the rape and violence against women and girls in India. It also intended to promote the draft UN Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination based on Work and Descent established by the UN Human Rights Council.

A petition including a joint statement signed by numerous Dalit and non-Dalit organisations demanding the government to implement without further delay the law agreed by Parliament to outlaw Caste-based discrimination in the UK, was handed over to the Prime Minister.  The protesters also asked the British government to use their clout to stop atrocities against Dalits especially caste based rapes and violence against women.

The call for Global action against caste based discrimination was given by the US based organisation, International Commission for Dalit Rights (ICDR) and joined by many cross faith Dalit and non-Dalit   organisations (including those representing Ambedkarites, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Ravidassia and Valmikis). At the same time, the protest events also took place in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles in USA and Toronto in Canada and raised the voice against human rights abuses in India and abroad.
Posted www.ambedkartimes.com on June 27, 2014


Posted www.ambedkartimes.com on June 27, 2014

A special report by
Arun Kumar (General Secretary)
Federation of Ambedkarite & Buddhist Organizations UK 



Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com , June 9, 2014)

A special report on the demonstration organized by the Freedom without Fear Platform and attended by various organizations from all over UK against the daily occurrences of rapes in India. A memorandum was handed over to the Indian High commissioner

Arun Kumar (General Secretary)
Federation of Ambedkarite & Buddhist Organizations UK 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014
Our letter to the Indian Prime Minister to be handed today at the High Commission
Shri Narendra Modi
Prime Minister of India
4th June 2014

Dear Prime Minister

We the undersigned women’s organizations, South Asian community organizations and Dalit and anti-caste discrimination organizations in Britain are writing to you to express our acute concern about the ongoing horrific attacks on Dalit and oppressed caste women and children across India, including most recently, the appalling gang-rape and lynching of two girls aged 14 and 15 in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh, on Wednesday 28th May. Only two months earlier, four teenage Dalit girls aged 13-18 were raped by ‘higher caste’ landowners in Bhagana in Haryana, and the survivors are still fighting for the arrest of the rapists.

We note that: 

  • These caste/gender atrocities are not confined to one state but have been occurring across the country - from Bathani Tola and Bathe in Bihar to Khairlanji and Khadra in Maharashtra.
  • These are taking place with the collusion of the police as recently highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women. In many cases the police themselves are the perpetrators.
  • There has also been collusion by public prosecutors and the judiciary, which has led to acquittals of the guilty.
  • Public figures who have been responsible for rapes and murders of  minority, Dalit and Adivasi women have been rewarded and promoted – two of many examples are Muzaffarnagar-accused Sanjeev Baliyan, now made a central government Minister, and Police Superintendent Ankit Garg awarded for gallantry after supervising the rape and torture of Soni Sori.

We urge you therefore to ensure that:

  • In the Badaun case: The police involved in the rape-murders must be prosecuted: In the FIR lodged by the police, the culprit policemen have been charged only with abetment (120B) whereas they should be named as the accused and 
  • Section 166A (which refers to police and other public servants refusing to do their duties) also should be invoked in the case. The government must take measures to guarantee the security of the families of the victims since police are among the accused.
  • In the Bhagana case: The eviction today from Jantar Mantar of the rape survivors and their families who have been forced to protest in Delhi for many weeks must be stopped. Their demands must immediately be met:  all those named by the survivors must be arrested; the Dalit community in Bhagana must be given land and guaranteed security as is their right; full compensation must be provided to the Bhagana rape survivors.
  • In the cases of the Bathani Tola and Bathe massacres and mass rapes carried out by the Ranvir Sena in Bihar: all those convicted on the evidence of eyewitness survivors have been subsequently acquitted by the Patna High Court. These acquittals must be overturned. The Amir Das Commission investigating the Ranveer Sena which was hastily disbanded before it could make its findings public, must be reinstated.
  • Sanjeev Baliyan who is a main accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots and mass rapes of Muslim women in U.P. (and has continued to break the law, taking out inflammatory victory processions against Prohibitory Orders) must be removed from his post as Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing in the central government immediately.
  • The Atrocities Act which is specifically designed to address caste violence must be applied in all cases of caste/gender violence against SCs and STs.

Yours sincerely,

Sarbjit Johal, Freedom Without Fear Platform
Amrit Wilson, South Asia Solidarity Group
Santosh Dass, Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations (UK)
Ravi Kumar, Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance
Davinder Prasad, British Organisation of People of Asian Origin
Bholi Randhawa, Shri Guru Ravi Dass Mission International (Kanshi TV)
Desraj Bunger, Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha, UK, Europe and Abroad
Satpal Muman, CasteWatch UK
Faquir Chand Sahota, Central Valmik Sabha (UK)
Eugene Culas, Voice of Dalit International
Pastor Raj, Minority Christian International Federation
Baljit Banga, Newham Asian Women’s Project
Pragna Patel, Southall Black Sisters
Sumanta Roy, Imkaan
Anjum Mouj, Rape Crisis England and Wales
Balvinder Saund, Sikh Women's Alliance UK
Shahida Choudhury,Women’s Networking Hub
Posted by Freedom Without Fear Platform at 14:07 No comments:
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Labels: Badaun, Bhagana, Dalit women and girls, gender violence, India
Monday, 2 June 2014
BADAUN-BHAGANA-NEVER AGAIN! DEMAND JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS OF GENDER/CASTE VIOLENCE!
Wednesday 4th June 4.30 - 6.30pm 
Indian High Commission
The Aldwych, London WC2 (nearest tube is Holborn) 

The appalling gang-rape and lynching of two Dalit girls aged 14 and 15 in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh, India on Wednesday 28th May is the latest in a long line of horrific murders and sexual assaults perpetrated on young Dalit women across India recently. Only two months earlier, four teenage Dalit girls aged 13-18 were raped by ‘higher caste’ landowners in Bhagana in Haryana, and the survivors are still fighting for the arrest of the rapists.

Dalit women and girls are facing an onslaught of gender, caste, and class based violence in which the Indian state collaborates. Less than 1% of rape cases of Dalit women by non-Dalits end in conviction. The level of impunity is so total that the perpetrators feel confident to finish off their vile crimes by murdering the victims and leaving their bodies on display. Are the lives of young Dalit women so expendable?

In the Badaun case, the police refused to investigate when the girls’ families reported them missing and even threatened to kill them if they filed a case, and two policemen have now been charged with conspiring with the higher caste rapists. In Bhagana, the courageous survivors and their families have been forced to travel to Delhi and stage an ongoing protest to demand the arrest of the rapists –after the police refused to register cases against the powerful men named by the girls in their testimonies.

Dalit women have been targeted for sexual violence wherever Dalit communities are challenging oppression and exploitation. In Bhagana, the four girls were raped in ‘revenge’ after Dalits demanded that the upper caste controlled village council hand over the land which had been allocated to them by the government, and protested against eviction and harassment. In Bihar, the Ranvir Sena, a landowners’ army aligned with Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, targeted Dalit and Muslim women for horrific violence when the rural poor organized for land and a living wage.

The recent election victory of Narendra Modi and the BJP has further emboldened upper caste and economically powerful rapists. The Brahmanical-patriarchal ideas of the Hindu right, in which Dalit women’s lives have no value, are being combined with intensified neoliberal economic policies which leave Dalits and other exploited and marginalised people even more vulnerable. While Modi tried to reach out to Dalits in his election campaign, his close ally Baba Ramdev’s offensive remarks about Dalit women as the sexual property of upper castes exposed once again the misogynistic casteism of the Hindu right. In the wake of the Badaun case, Modi has condemned the appalling levels of gender violence in opposition-ruled UP, but the fact that he has given a Ministerial post in his government to Sanjeev Baliyan, one of the main accused in the Muzaffarnagar communal violence in UP last year which involved mass rapes of Muslim women, sends out a very different signal.

The last year and a half has seen a powerful movement against gender violence in India. But the Badaun and Bhagana cases painfully underline once again that the struggle continues, and can only succeed if the lethal connections between gender, caste, class and communal violence are recognized and fought.

 Dalit groups and progressive and left women’s groups and students organisations in India are on the streets demanding justice for the victims and survivors of Badaun and Bhagana.
Join the solidarity protest outside the Indian High Commission in London on Wednesday 4th June from 4.30 to 6.30pm.

https://www.facebook.com/events/297949227038552/

Organised by
Freedom Without Fear Platform

Supported by 
Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance; BOPA; CasteWatch UK; Central Valmik Sabha UK; FABOUK; Imkaan, Newham Asian Women’s Project; Rape Crisis England and Wales; South Asia Solidarity Group; Southall Black Sisters; Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha, UK, Europe and Abroad; Shri Guru Ravi Dass Mission International (Kanshi TV); Voice of Dalit International; Women’s Networking Hub
Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com , June 9, 2014)


Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com , June 9, 2014)

FABO UK welcomes the reports Caste in Britain

Dear All,

The Federation of Ambedkarite & Buddhist Organisations UK (FABO UK) welcomes the reports  Caste in Britain by the independent researchers commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights. These reports follow months of stakeholder engagement that included FABO UK's input.  The EHRC has delivered on its commitment to produce the reports. Now the Government needs to meet theirs and issue the promised consultation before the end of March 2014 and finally begin the process (without further unnecessary delay) to implement the law agreed by Parliament in April 2013.
Arun Kumar
General Secretary
Federation of Ambedkarite & Buddhist Organisations UK
(
07909828750)

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com , March 3, 2014)

Fight for Justice
continues -FABO UK

The Annual General Meeting of the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK, took place on Sunday 22 September 2013 at the Ambedkar Centre, 12 Featherstone Road, Southall, Middlesex, West London. Five member organisations - : Dr Ambedkar Memorial Trust, London, Buddha Dhamma Association, Southall, Ambedkar Mission Society Bedford, Punjab Buddhist Society UK, Dr Ambedkar Mission Society Glasgow - participated in the meeting.

The Government’s delay on the implementation of the legislation to outlaw caste discrimination was discussed. The protracted timetable of two years announced by the Government was agreed as nothing more than a mere ploy to stop the implementation of the legislation agreed by Parliament. This clearly signals that the government does not want to see the implementation of the law during its term. The government’s attitude was  strongly condemned. FABO UK will continue to support and participate in the campaign for early implementation of the legislation to outlaw caste discrimination in the UK.

It has been over six decades since independence, but atrocities on Dalits and especially on Dalit women continue to increase day by day. The India Government must ensure fast track courts that deal with cases of rape work to ensure that timely justice is provided to the victims. The legal system in India must also provide justice for victims of caste oppression.

Dr. Ambedkar was one of the greatest advocates of human rights and equality of treatment. He devoted his life and work to provide justice for victims of discrimination. To maintain the legacy of Dr. Ambedkar, participants in the meeting took a pledge to continue to work against inequality and injustice and raise the concerns of the neglected and suppressed people. 

Elections for the key positions in FABO UK were held during the meeting. We are delighted to announce that the following members were elected unanimously under Chairperson of Election Commissioner, Mrs.  Hiroo Parmar:

President: Ms. Santosh Dass MBE, Vice President: Ram Pal Rahi, General Secretary: Arun Kumar, Joint Secretary: C Gautam,
Treasurer: Sohan Lal Gindha, Public Affairs: Gira Ashok Chakravarty

Executive Members:
Mehar Chand Jassal, Mulkh Raj, Harbans  Virdee, Bakshi Birdi, Malind Kaul, Dhanpat Rattu,  Pirthi Kaeley,  Vidya Middha, Chaman  Chahal

Arun Kumar
General Secretary
Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK
Buddha Vihara,12, Featherstone Road, Southall, , Middsex, London UB2 5AA
E: fabo@ambedkar.org.uk U: www.ambedkar.org.uk Tel; Tel: 0044 7956 918053/07909828750
Picture caption: Sitting from left to right: Dhamma Chakravarty, Arun Kumar, Santosh Das, Ram Pal Rahi, Surjit Birdi,
Standing from left to right: C. Gautam, Hukam C Mehmi, Sohan Lal Ginda, Madhav Rao Patil, Bakshi Birdi

First Ambedkar Day celebrated in Africa -
Africa chapter of Ambedkarism (fight against caste system) begins .....
Johannesburg, 24th July, 2013 - Here in South Africa, University of the Witwatersrand, International House Committee organised "Ambedkar-Mandela" day. Seeking the rare occasion of Madela's 95th and Ambedkar's 122nd Birth Anniversary. International House Committee organised the event celebrating the two heroes that fought for the upliftment of the marginalised sections of societies in two parts of the world. This event was an imperative of South-South co operation where the two human rights champions were celebrated.

The event was presided by the Chairperson of the I-House, Mr Suraj Yengde (India), and Treasurer Ms Ntee Mbhele (South Africa). Participants from Europe, Africa, America's and Asia were present in the round table discussion on the issues of Caste and Racism. Everyone shed the light on their experiences in South Africa celebrating Mandela's legacy.
In the Chairperson's address Suraj Yengde provided insights on the India's downtrodden sections of society introducing the atrocious nature of caste system. Comparing with the world's existing discrimination, he stressed caste system in India is world's oldest surviving discrimination. This programme was the first event in Africa that celebrated two champions of human rights introducing Ambedkar's contribution in the fight against discrimination through the caste system. Following the address, there was a question and answer session where participants expressed their interest and curiosity in unveiling the realities of caste system. Ms Chaimae Charifi (Morocco) provided critical insights on the existing discriminatory practices in South Africa.

Programme concluded with exchange of thoughts and the way forward to end the existing discriminatory practices. I-House Committee Secretary Ms Pokuaa Banson (Ghana), Sports Officer Mr Rafael Kalumbu (Namibia), Entertainment Officer Mr Nepo Moloi (SA), and Exchange Student Rep Ms Tamara (Japan) were present.  Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com July 30, 2013
“THE RISING”
HAS FINALLY ARRIVED IN THE UK
Arun Kumar

Shudra: The Rising is a Hindi language period film with subtitles in English set in the Indus Valley Civilization with a storyline based on the beginning of caste system in ancient India. Shudra is based on about 250 million people born Out Castes in Hindu Varna system. They were treated as Unclean & Impure, so much so that nobody ever even touched them or even allowed their shadow to fall on upper caste. They were named differently at different times such as 'DASYU', 'DAS', Chandala, Antyaja, Out Caste, lower Caste and "Shudra- The Untouchable". "Shudra- The Rising" highlights the depth that evil human mind can succumb, to cling on to power and supremacy.
An out caste man 'Shudra' died for want of a sip of water, a child is publicly killed for uttering Holy Mantras, a pregnant woman is forced in the physical submission, a wounded man dies in need of medicine, all for one crime only.....Born in the caste of "Shudra-The Untouchable"
The initial part narrates the invasion of the people of west Asia to India. They were of the Aryan race and they took over the local tribe

Dear Friends,
Much awaited film ‘Shudra- The Rising’ has finally arrived in the UK. Priced at £7.99 (£6.00 plus p & p £1.99). All DVD’s are sent via 1st Class Recorded post. Pack includes one audio and video.
To get the copy: Please pay via bank transfer into the following bank account: Bank: Lloyds TSB, A/c No: 00856609, Sort Code: 30 – 90 – 66, OR Send cheque for the amount of £7.99, payable to:, ‘Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford (UK)’. For further details, please contact:
Pirthi Kaeley: 01234404727, email: p.kaeley28a11@sky.com
Arun Kumar: 07909828750, email: arun.kumar@ntlworld.com
Alternatively you can also buy from eBay on the following link: http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_trksid=p3902.m570.l1313
&_nkw=shudra-the+rising+2012&_sacat=0&_from=R40
tribe and started controlling them. Finally their learned scholar Manu wrote a code book of caste system which turned the local population as the Shudras (lowest of the low), who were imposed with cruel rules in the society. They were suppressed and exploited at every level of their lives by the upper caste people. The film shows various rules imposed on the Shudras such as walking with a bell around their ankles and a long leaf as tail. The film also sheds a light on the struggle by the Shudras.
This film is a must see for everybody who wants to know the history and effect of caste based discrimination on the Indian society.
The proceeds of this film will be given to the Rudraksh Productions for their future project which is again on the bravery of Dalits in ‘The Battle of Koregaon’- a saga of fight between the Mahar soldiers and Peshwas.
Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com , January 21, 2013
*We helped give them (Ad-Dharmies) a better life & made into a Quam. We gave them Gurus to believe in & something to hope for. Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia.*
BABU MANGU RAM MUGOWALIA
A VALIANT HERO OF THE SUPPRESSED

Read special article on Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia's 127th birth anniversary by
O. P. Balley, General Secretary Supreme Council, Shri Guru Ravidass Sabhas, USA
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Vancouver, BC (Canada) celebrating 127th birth anniversary of Babu Mangu Ram
Muggowalia Ji
on SUNDAY, January 20, 2013 at Shri Guru Ravidass Temple, 7271 Gilley Avenue, Burnaby, BC
For more information please contact: Tejpal Gangar (778) 319-5431
SILENCE OVER DALIT RAPE VICTIMS ARE
THEY NOT THE DAUGHTERS OF INDIA?
Arun Kumar
Ambedkar Mission Society,
Bedford, UK

Delhi saw an unprecedented public outrage over the recent cruel gang rape and vicious attack on the 23 year old girl. This incident brought out many people to protest against this heinous crime. This brutal attack must be strongly condemned and perpetrators of this offence severely punished so that no body dare to commit such a crime in future.

Judging the public anger, it appears that no such incident had happened before Delhi rape case. What happened in Delhi is not an exception. Many more cases are hushed up regularly or are not reported. The National Crime Records Bureau records reveal that during 2011 India witnessed 228,650 crimes against women, 24,206 of them of rape and 35,565 of kidnapping and abduction and majority of them were belonging to Dalit communities. Most of the crimes against Dalit women go unnoticed. In the most horrific cases of sex abuse, Dalit women have not only been raped, but mutilated, burned, paraded naked through villages, and even forced to eat human faeces.

Either the people are ignorant or just turn their blind eye to such incidents. Nobody from the so called civil society took notice of those crimes. In spite of all these sex offences against Dalit women, victims do not get even half the response neither from the social organizations nor from the media as was given to Delhi gang rape victim. A rape is a rape and all women deserve the same media attention, same justice, the same mass protests and the same political will.

India’s middle class wears such glasses from where they can only see the crimes committed against the upper castes. Their heart throbs only for their own clan. Women folk from the Dalit communities mean nothing to them. Society must feel guilty and act against atrocities against women irrespective of their caste or class.

Double standards of the upper middle class raise many questions which need answers. Shenali Waduge raises a very valid question, “While rape in any form is abhorred and should be severely punished by all nations what needs to be answered is what makes the recent gang rape by 6 men of a 23 year old on a bus in Delhi any different from the gang rape of a 16 year old Dalit women by 8 men who having taken photos of the crime had circulated it amongst the village leading to her father committing suicide out of shame?”(1) This Dalit girl was raped in September 2012 and Shenali questions why there were no mass protests, no media attention for her or calls to arrest the perpetrators but the recent rape has turned into a mass protest all over India? Can somebody from the civil society answer these questions?

Similarly where were all Indians when Khairlarnji massacre occurred in 2006 when a Dalit family was lynched in Maharashtra? In Khairlanji, on 29 September 2006, 44-year-old Surekha Bhotmange and her daughter Priyanka Bhotmange were stripped, paraded naked, and raped repeatedly. Surekha's sons Roshan and Sudhir were slaughtered. The entire village was involved. The Bhotmanges were Dalits. The Bhotmanges have been forgotten. After all, two Dalits are murdered every day in India. (2) The Indian media didn’t even bother to cover this incident until Dalits in Nagpur came on streets to protest. Unfortunately all India was sleeping as if the Dalit women were not the ‘daughters of India’.

Dalit rape victims in Ajmer district in Rajasthan are waiting for justice for the last seven years. There are 68 reported cases of rape in the district since 2006 but only one accused has been convicted in 2007. Just in the months of September and October, 2012 around 19 Dalit women were raped in Haryana. An 18 year old Dalit girl in Badhshapur village in Patiala committed suicide on December 26, six weeks after being raped by three men as she couldn’t tolerate humiliation and tormenting by police and culprits anymore. Her mother stated that when she went to complain to the police they humiliated the girl with lewd questions. On 5th January, a 16-year-old Dalit girl was abducted, raped and forced to eat some poisonous pesticide by an upper-caste man and dumped outside her house in a village in Faridkot district in Punjab.

The tale of sexual abuse doesn’t end here. In an article in Counter-currents, Cynthia Stephen quotes a Dalit girl from a village in Tamil Nadu as saying “There is no girl in our lane who has not been coerced or raped by the dominant caste men when they go to the fields to fetch water or for work.”(3) Men from the dominant castes threaten the Dalits with dire consequences if they dare complain to the police. Sexual violence against Dalit women is a systemic way of enforcing status quo of the Dalits. Rape is often used as a tool for political and social subjugation of Dalit women. Rural areas are full of such incidents. Vast majority of crimes against Dalit women are not reported owing to fear of social exclusion and threats to personal safety and security. Every village in India has such tales to narrate.

Instead the leaders such as RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat give us lesson on Indian culture and advocates that gang rapes and sexual abuses happen only in urban areas as a result of Western influence and not in rural areas. If this Hindu ideologue tries to preach us about ancient Hindu culture, he must feel ashamed of Davdassi system in South India where girls as young as 6 years old become “brides of gods” and are raped by men of higher castes in temples. Young women are also later forced into prostitution through this system. Violent atrocities occur regularly in the names of tradition and religion. When are we going to get rid of hypocrisy? Other holy man blamed girl for the rape as she didn’t beg enough for mercy. Women are placed on the pedestals and are worshiped daily. On the other hand, the same women are treated as toys to play with and discard them when they are not needed. There is a plenty of evidence in Hindu scriptures where women’s low status is justified. The verses from the scriptures are still recited where cattle, drums and women are considered worthy of beating. That is why Dr. Ambedkar publically burnt down Manusmrity, a manifestation of inequality and cruelty towards women, and condemned other scriptures which contain humiliating strictures against women. Women don’t want the status of goddesses but need equal treatment and respect.

Unprecedented outcry and coverage surrounding the recent Delhi gang rape has forced the government to act fast. They have set up a fast track court for a quick trial and also a commission to bring changes in the law to deal with rape cases. They are positive steps to pacify the feelings of general public but one should not have high expectations from the politicians, police and administrators. As a result of the high profile rape case in Delhi, it is expected that police would be more vigilant and conscious and act promptly. But right under their nose another women was raped on 6th January, 2013 and her body was dumped in Noida, suburb of Delhi.

Of course there are flaws in the laws relating to rapes and other offences against women. But what is worst that even the existing laws are not implemented fairly and speedily. Speaking on the merits of the constitution, the architect of the Indian constitution, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar stated, “I feel, however good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot. However bad a Constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it, happen to be a good lot. The working of a Constitution does not depend wholly upon the nature of the Constitution”. Same principle implies to the existing legislation on sexual abuse. The problem lies in the lack of political will to implement laws. It doesn’t matter how good laws are made to prevent sexual offences, it depends upon the law enforcing agencies how quickly the offender is caught and prosecuted. So far the laws have done little to change the attitudes and are often ignored.

The ground reality is that politicians, administrators, police and even judiciary collude with each other and offender gets free to offend again. Justice Ashok Ganguli, retired judge, Supreme Court of India, himself admitted on national Television that judiciary didn’t treat women with dignity. The cases pertaining to sexual violence are delayed for 10-15 years. Justice delayed is justice denied. In majority of cases, the kith and kens or supporters of politicians and bureaucrats are involved in such cases. That is why police don’t dare to take action against those culprits. Even they, themselves, face criminal charges pertaining to sexual offences. According to the National Election Watch (NEW) and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), in last election there were 260 contesting candidates from various political parties who were charged under different sections of Indian penal Code for crimes against women such as outraging modesty of a woman, assault, insulting the modesty of a woman etc. What justice is expected from these people? Such politicians should be named and shamed in public, expelled from the political parties and debarred from the public office

What we need is the overhaul of administration and police. Coupled with tough laws, it is essential that an intensive training is imparted to the officers dealing with the atrocities on women. Only women police officers should be deployed to handle such cases where victim feels free to lodge the complaint. They need an easy access to the police. Fast track courts are important to deal with all sexual offences so that victim is given justice in a specific time limit. Most importantly, Indians must change their mind set and treat women with respect and give them equal status irrespective of class or caste. It is only possible if every member of the society feels responsibility and is sincere to treat women with respect and dignity. Mere lip service won’t help. One must be bold enough like Dr. Ambedkar to condemn, if needed, the religious dogmas which preach hatreds against women.

References:
1. Shenali Waduge, ‘Rape In India: Why Are There No Mass Protests For Raped Dalit Women’ Eurasia Review on 28th December, 2012,
2. Anand Teltumbde, 'Khairlanji - A strange and bitter crop'
3. Cynthia Stephen, ‘Feminism And Dalit Women In India’
Countercurrents.org,16 November, 2009
Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com (January 12, 2013)

RAVIDASSIA RELIGION
A Historic Milestone in Creating a Separate Identity

Arun Kumar, Bedford, UK

The Census of the United Kingdom known as the 2011 Census took place on 27th March. 2011. Much awaited results of this Census were published on 10th December, 2012 which proved to be a milestone in the history of the Ravidassia community in the UK. For the first time ever, Ravidassia is listed as an independent religion distinct from other religions. Though the followers of Shri Guru Ravidass Ji migrated to UK in thousands, they were not recognized as a separate community. They were considered either a part of Hindus or Sikhs and were nonexistent in the official records. The Department for Communities and Local Government bases its funding decisions on population estimates. The census reports are used to assist the planning and allocation of resources, policy-making and decision-making. As Ravidassia community was missing from the records, there was no funding available for the benefit and development of their community. Now the United Kingdom became the first country in the World to recognize Ravidassia religion as a separate entity. Census results show that eleven thousand people declared them as Ravidassia. Jubilant Rai Karra, campaigner for Ravidassia Religion stated, “The figures are not great but it is a beginning. As the media was not in their favor, it was difficult to convey the message of Census to the Ravidassia community. We put across this message through the word of mouth, leaflets and the road shows in the Shri Guru Ravidass Guru Ghars (Religious places). Now Ravidassia community has its own media ‘Kanshi Radio’, ‘Kanshi TV’ and newspapers, more and more people are becoming aware of their identify. UK will show a way to the Ravidassia community living in various countries to assert their identity and be counted.” The campaigners are hopeful that numbers of Ravidassia community will spurt up in many folds in the next census in UK.

Ravidassia religion is deeply rooted in the Ad-Dharm movement started by Ghadri Baba Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia in 1920s. The main objectives of the Ad Dharm movement were to carve out an independent identity for the untouchables. Ad-Dharm appealed to many people and various Dalit communities including Valmikis also joined this movement. In spite of all types of pressures and hardships, the Ad Dharmis succeeded in registering “Ad Dharm” as a separate religion for the lower castes in Punjab in the 1931 census. Even the British government in India recognised “Ad-Dharam” as a separate religion.

From 1920 to 1946, it played a significant role to mobilize the masses and bring consciousness amongst the down trodden people of Punjab. Unfortunately due to factionalism, its influence was greatly reduced. As Ad-Dharm was dominated by the Chamars, Valmikis parted away from this movement and it ended up the religion of just one caste group- Chamars. Ultimately emergence of Dr. Ambedkar’s Scheduled Caste Federation and Republican Party of India absorbed this movement and virtually lost its impact on Punjab’s social and political scene.

In spite of its decline, the spirit of separate identity remained buzzing. The followers of Shri Guru Ravidass Ji preferred to call themselves Ad-Dharmi or Ravidassi. The booklet “Ad-Dharma” –The way of Guru Ravidass Ji’ published jointly by Wolverhampton Multi-cultural Education Service and Shri Guru Ravidass Dharmik Sabha, Wolverhampton, UK, explains the religious beliefs, customs at the time of birth, marriage, death etc and the way of life of Ad-Dharmis. This booklet is produced for the benefit of teachers, students and those who are not familiar with Ad-Dharmis. In introduction, it says that Ad-Dharm means first faith, original religion or basic religion with deep roots in India. It also says, “Ad-Dharmis are also known as Ravidassis because they honour Sahib Shri Guru Ravidass Ji as their foremost thinker and spiritual leader. They are neither Hindus nor Sikhs. They share many beliefs with Sikhs and some with Hindus but they are a distinct movement.” According to ‘Religions in the UK – A Multi-Faith Directory’, published by the Derby University, “Ravidassis who are settled in the UK strictly follow the teachings and philosophy of Shri Guru Ravidass Ji and worship Guru Granth Sahib since forty one hymns composed by Shri Guru Ravidass are included within it” It reflects that Ravidassis worship Guru Granth Sahib not out of devotion but because hymns of Guru Ravidass are included in it. Though they worship Sikh scripture, but they are not prepared to call themselves Sikhs. Ravidassia’s religious places are called either Bhavans or Temples instead of Gurudwaras. Quami Nishaan Sahib (symbol on the Ravidassia flag) HAR was adopted by Guru Ravidass Sadhu Sampardai Society in consultation with Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha UK and other organisations in India and abroad and was registered vide Reg. No. A-48-807-co dated 6th March, 1987. This Nishaan Sahib is hoisted at most of the Ravidass Bhavans/Temples. They also greet each other with ‘Jai Gurudev’, ‘Dhan Gurudev’.

Caste related incidents in Punjab especially Talhan incident and assassination of Sant Rama Nand compelled the followers of Shri Guru Ravidass Ji part away from Sikhism. . To avoid further bloodshed on the name of religious code of conduct (Maryada), Dera Sach Khand Ballan declared “Amrit Bani- Shri Guru Ravidass Ji Maharaj” as their religious scripture. Though their forefathers such as Sahib Shri Guru Ravidass Ji, Ghadri Baba Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar struggled whole their lives to eradicate caste divisions, polarisation on caste basis appears to be right opposite to their teachings. It would have been better if a common name such as “Ad-Dharm” was given to the new religion where everybody irrespective of his/her caste felt comfortable to join.

Now Ravidassia religion has become the religion of one caste (Chamar) and the people from other castes will be reluctant to join this newly formed religion. It may take some time for the followers of Shri Guru Ravidass Ji in Punjab to change their mindset and adopt this new identity. But its popularity is increasing in the other states of India and more and more people are opting for this new alternative. It appears that in the coming years, this religion will become a force to reckon with and become a solid pressure group for their empowerment. Another big time campaigner and one of the founders of Ravidassia separate identity, Gurdev Lagah said, “We may have some reservations the way this religion was declared, but now it is done and we must support it.” Sensing the feelings of young and old, it appears that more and more people will support and follow this new identity. The supporters of Ravidassia community in the UK, Kanshi Radio and Kanshi Television which are heard and seen in 57 countries will also facilitate to mobilise the rank and file to join this new emerging religion.
Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com (December 28, 2012)

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
CONDEMNS ATROCITIES ON DALITS

(Arun Kumar, Bedford, UK)

Indian authorities have so far been able to hide the caste problem under the carpet and always denied the caste based discrimination. Recently Dalits have become more vocal and exposed the false propaganda of the government. They are voicing their concerns at the international forums. Consequently the caste issue is no longer hidden from the outside World.

On December, 13, European Parliament in Strasbourg debated caste discrimination in India and adopted a strongly worded resolution to condemn the continued human rights violations, increasing number of atrocities committed against Dalits and the Indian Government’s inability to take a firm action against the culprits. European Parliament also deplored the non-intervention by police in acts of violence against Dalits.
Acknowledging the significant efforts to make legislation to eradicate caste based discrimination, Parliament urged the Indian authorities at federal, state and local level to honour their pledges and implement and amend if needed existing legislation particularly the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Atrocities Act in order to protect Dalits from caste oppression. European Parliament also urged the EU’s and the Member States’ representations in India to include the issue of caste discrimination in their dialogues with the Indian authorities, and to prioritise programmes addressing caste discrimination, including in education, and programmes

Following is the full text of resolution passed by the European Parliament Caste discrimination in India
PE502.571European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2012 on caste discrimination in India (2012/2909(RSP))

The European Parliament,
– having regard to its previous resolutions, in particular that of 1 February 2007 on the human rights situation of the Dalits in India and those on the Annual Reports on Human Rights in the World, notably that of 18 April 2012 ,
– having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
– having regard to the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and to its General Recommendations XXIV, as ratified by India,
– having regard to the government proposal put forward by Mukul Vasnik, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, on ‘The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill, 2012’, presented to the Indian Parliament on 3 September 2012,
– having regard to the statement of 19 October 2009 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and her appeal to UN member states to endorse the draft UN Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination on Discrimination based on Work and Descent,
– having regard to the recommendations arising from the UN Special Procedures and UN treaty bodies, as well as to those in the two Universal Periodic Reviews on India of 10 April 2008 and 24 May 2012,
– having regard to the recommendations of 9 July 2012 of the UN Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on India,
– having regard to the deep concern expressed on 6 February 2012 by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders regarding the situation of Dalit activists in India,
– having regard to the ongoing Maila Mukti Yatra, the nationwide march of thousands of people for the eradication of manual scavenging which between 30 November 2011 and 31 January 2012 crossed 18 of India’s states,
– having regard to the EU-India thematic dialogue on human rights,
– having regard to Articles 2 and 3(5) of the Treaty on European Union,
– having regard to Rules 122(5) and 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas India has made enormous economic progress, and as one of the BRICS countries now plays an important role in world politics; whereas, however, caste discrimination continues to be widespread and persistent;
B. whereas India’s Constitution grants its citizens equal status, and discrimination based on caste and untouchability is deemed illegal in its Articles 15 and 17; whereas Dalits have served in the highest political functions; whereas India has laws and regulations intended to protect Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, such as the 1976 Protection of Civil Rights Act and the 1989 Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act; whereas Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made several strong statements about prioritising combating violence against Dalits;
C. whereas, despite these efforts, an estimated 170 million Dalits and indigenous Adivasi in India continue to suffer from severe forms of social exclusion; whereas the ILO estimates that the overwhelming majority of bonded labour victims in the country are from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes;
D. whereas manual scavenging, despite being legally banned, continues to be widespread, with hundreds of thousands of almost exclusively female Dalits performing this form of servitude, Indian Railways being the largest single employer of manual scavengers;
E. whereas Dalit and Adivasi women are the poorest of the poor in India, face multiple discrimination on the basis of caste and gender, are frequently subjected to gross violations of their physical integrity, including sexual abuse with impunity by members of dominant castes, and are socially excluded and economically exploited, with a literacy rate of only 24 %;
F. whereas according to estimates the vast majority of crimes against Dalit women are not reported owing to fear of social ostracism and threats to personal safety and security; whereas in one particular case in Haryana state a 16-year-old Dalit girl was gang-raped in the village of Dabra (Hisar district) on 9 September 2012; whereas her father committed suicide after discovering what had happened and the police only decided to take belated action when faced with mass protests;
G. whereas on 20 November 2012, in Dharmapuri (Tamil Nadu state), a mob of approximately 1 000 people from higher castes looted and torched at least 268 houses in Dalit communities, with no intervention from the police officers present;
H. whereas the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005 lacks effective implementation, and whereas the pervasive prejudice against women in the police, the legal system, the medical establishment and the political class impedes the dispensing of justice;
I. whereas the conviction rate under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act continues to be very low, providing no deterrent against crimes;
J. whereas, according to various local and international sources, between 100 000 and 200 000 girls – the majority of them Dalits – are allegedly trapped in bonded labour in spinning mills in Tamil Nadu which supply yarn to factories that produce garments for western brands;
1. Acknowledges the efforts at federal, state, regional and local level in India to eradicate caste discrimination; applauds, furthermore, the clear stance against caste discrimination taken by many Indian politicians, Indian media, NGOs and other public opinion makers at every level of society;
2. Remains, however, alarmed at the persistently large number of reported and unreported atrocities and widespread untouchability practices, notably manual scavenging;
3. Urges the Indian authorities at federal, state, regional and local level to honour their pledges and to implement or, if necessary, amend the existing legislation, notably the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, in order to effectively protect Dalits and other vulnerable groups in society;
4. Underlines, particularly, the need for victims to be able to safely register their cases with the police and judicial authorities, as well as for serious follow-up by the police and judiciary of reported atrocities and other cases of discrimination;
5. Calls on the Indian Parliament to act on its plans to pass a new Bill prohibiting employment of manual scavengers and securing their rehabilitation, and on the Indian Government to take the necessary measures for its immediate enforcement;
6. Calls on the Indian authorities to repeal those provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulations) Act which do not conform to international standards and potentially undermine the work of NGOs, including Dalit organisations and other organisations representing disadvantaged groups in Indian society, by impeding them from receiving funds from international donors;
7. Calls on the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission (HR/VP), the EU Special Representative on Human Rights, and the EU Member States to develop an EU policy on caste discrimination and to endorse the draft UN Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination based on Work and Descent in the UN Human Rights Council;
8. Welcomes the Union Cabinet's approval in September 2012 of the Child & Adolescent Labour (Prohibition) Act, banning employment of children below 14 years across all sectors and below 18 years for hazardous sectors; calls on the Government of India to take effective implementing measures in order to rapidly reduce what is still one of the highest number of working children in the world and to introduce legislation for a full ban on child labour in accordance with the International Labour Organisation guidelines;
9. Calls on the EU’s and the Member States’ representations in India to include the issue of caste discrimination in their dialogues with the Indian authorities, and to prioritise programmes addressing caste discrimination, including in education, and programmes with particular focus on women and girls; expects future EU cooperation with India to be assessed as to how it would affect caste discrimination;
10. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to India’s Prime Minister, India’s Minister for Law and Justice, India’s Home Minister, India’s Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, the Council, the HR/VP, the Commission, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the EU Member States, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, the Secretary-General of the UN and the President of the UN General Assembly.

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com (December 18, 2012)


www.deshdoaba.com link http://www.deshdoaba.com/new/***
Poona Pact and Beyond (Arun Kumar, Bedford, UK)

September 24th is a very significant day in the history of Dalit movement. It is the day when after thousands of years of slavery, an agreement between the representatives of the indigenous people of India and the ruling Aryan class was signed to give legitimate representation and share to the members of Depressed Classes. After successful argument in the Round Table Conferences, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was able to convince the British government for a separate electorate for the Untouchables by which they were to elect their own representatives in the Lok Sabha and the provincial legislative assemblies as similar provisions were already available for the other minorities, including Muslims, Christians, Anglo Indians and Sikhs. But Gandhi bitterly opposed this award and began fast unto death. A huge pressure was put on Dr. Ambedkar to change his mind. The people of Depressed Classes (Dalits) were being threatened. Had Gandhi died as a result of fast, there would have been a huge bloodshed. To avert the danger to the lives of his people, Ambedkar withdrew his demand of separate electorate and an agreement was reached at Yerwada Central Jail, Poona on 24th September, 1932. Now this agreement is popularly known as Poona Pact. This Pact was incorporated in the government of India Act 1935 and later on in the Constitution of Independent India.

Dr. Ambedkar was never happy with this agreement. He complained of blackmail by Gandhi as he was forced to sign the pact under the impact of coercive fast. Ambedkar denounced it the very next day expressing his views, “The untouchables were sad. They had every reason to be sad.” He kept denouncing it till the end of his life in 1956. He denounced it in private discussions, public meetings, relevant writings, in fact on all the occasions that demanded denunciation. Commenting upon Gandhi’s fast, he said “There was nothing noble in the fast. It was a foul and filthy act. The fast was not for the benefit of the Untouchables. It was against them and was the worst form of coercion against helpless people to give up the constitutional safeguards of which they had been possessed under the Prime Minister’s Award and agree to live on the mercy of the Hindus. It was a vile and wicked act. How can the untouchables regard such a man as honest and sincere?” Ambedkar was well aware of the loss suffered by the Schedules Castes by losing separate electorate. He made clear, “If the Poona Pact increased the quota of seats for the untouchables it took away the right to the double vote given to them by the communal award. This increase in seats can never be deemed to be a compensation for the loss of the double vote. The second vote given by the Communal award was a priceless privilege. Its value as a political weapon was beyond reckoning.”
The Joint Electorate is a form in which the Hindus get the right to nominate a member of Scheduled Caste to set nominally as a representative of the Scheduled castes but really as a tool of the Hindus. There a sizeable number of Dalit MLAs and MPs, most of them feared they would not get re-elected if they aggressively raise their voices against Dalit oppression. Though we have got constituencies reserved for Dalits, it is unfortunate that those who act like rubber stamps, without aggressively opposing any oppression, are being preferred by caste forces. Babu Kanshi Ram explained this phenomenon in his much acclaimed book, ‘The Chamacha Age’ in which he says that Poona Pact has produced stooges not the real representatives of Bahujans.

It is true that Poona Pact lacks the spirit of proper and real representation, but it cannot be denied that it played a vital role in transforming the economic and social conditions of Scheduled Castes/Tribes. Today whatever the progress is seen in their conditions, Poona Pact is a contributory factor. The policy of reservation has helped Dalits to achieve high positions. Mr. K.R. Naryanan became the President of India, highest office in India. K.G. Balakrishanan served as the Chief Justice of India, Meera Kumar as Speaker of Lok Sabha, Ms. Mayawati as a Chief Minister of Uttar Pardesh, India’s biggest and most populous state. There are numerous administrative officers in Central and state governments which was unimaginable without the Poona Pact. Enlightened government employees helped political leadership. Prime example is Babu Kanshi Ram who was able to organize them and his leadership emerged as a result of Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF). Even the emerging middle class in the Dalit communities is a consequence of Poona Pact. The government employees are giving their children a good quality education. Consequently they either get good employment or start their own small businesses which help them to improve the economic condition of their families which raise their social status in the society.

With the introduction of privatisation, liberalisation, globalisation and disinvestments, many government industries and public sector undertakings have already been sold off. As a result, thousands of jobs in the public sector have been lost. The technology has also reduced the job market. Privatisation has an adverse effect on Dalits. There is no clause for reservation being added into the disinvestment deals struck between the government and the private sector. It is a clear subversion of caste-based reservation and keep the Dalits away from jobs. Reservation in the government service is not only the way for empowerment; Dalits must think and act beyond that. It doesn’t matter how much we oppose globalisation and privatisation, it is going to stay in future and we will have to adjust ourselves into the new system. We have to change our strategy and adapt ourselves accordingly. In the latest study, 97% of executives or board members in the listed companies belong to the upper castes. Private companies are either owned or managed by the family members or a particular caste group, Dalits have no chance to get opportunity in those positions.

Educated Dalit intellectuals are beginning to realise that Dalits will have no place in the market economy. To find a new strategy to overcome this situation, in January 2002, a Dalit conference was held in Bhopal. Over 300 Dalit intellectuals unanimously adopted the Bhopal Declaration containing 21 points identifying the area of intervention for uplifting of Scheduled Castes/Tribes and their participation in the public and private sector. On 26th January 2002, in his Republic Day address to the nation, the then President of India, Mr. K.R. Narayanan endorsed this declaration, which generated a serious debate throughout the country. The concept of diversity came into forefront for the first time. The main theme of the Bhopal Declaration is that there must be an equal participation of all sections of the society in the activities of all key institutions be it governance, education, institutions and trade. Every government and private organisation must implement Supplier Diversity from socially disadvantaged businesses and Dealership Diversity in all goods and services. The reservation must be compulsory in the private and corporate sector in the same proportion as in the public sector and in the government institutions and develop the capacities and skills of Dalits to help them cope up with the demands of these different sectors.

To accelerate this momentum, another International Dalit Conference took place in Vancouver, Canada on 16-18 May 2003. Endorsing the Bhopal Declaration, the Conference asked for rightful and proportionate share of Dalits in India’s national institutions, wealth and capital. The community should have equitable access to means of production and economic empowerment. Because of the Bhopal and Vancouver Declarations, the reservations to Dalits in the private sector were given prominence in the minimum common programme of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) but unfortunately it remained in the manifesto. Most of the industry houses opposed and gave emphasis on quality education to Dalits so that they are able to compete with others. But Dalit intellectuals such as Chander Bhan Parsad, Mr. D. Shyam Babu and others were also stressing upon the need to implement contract/suppliers/dealership diversity, giving surplus land to landless labourers and diversity into educational institutions. Some of the Dalit entrepreneurs came together and established their own Dalit Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI). On the demand of DCCI the Central government decided that all ministries would make 4% of their annual purchase from micro, small and medium enterprises run by SCs/STs. Dalit activists believe that mandatory purchases from Dalit units would boost entrepreneurship among poor classes with assured state clientele and without the fear of competition from entrenched businessmen.

Dalits are well under represented in the main stream media. There is hardly any recognisable Dalit face on television, films or in English national newspapers. Poona Pact has helped in many ways but there is lot to be done to alleviate poverty, eradicate caste and set up society based on equality, liberty, fraternity and equal justice-the dream of Babashaeb Ambedkar. Dalits must give importance to education, organising themselves and struggle for their rights. Unfortunately, a lot of Dalits give first priority for organising and hence jump into the process of organising themselves at the cost of their education. This will impact the growth of the community. Education should be the top priority for them.
Since the introduction of Indian Constitution, a number of amendments are made for the empowerment of Dalits, but these provisions are never implemented. It is only possible if Dalit representative capture the temple of power, Parliament and state assemblies and enforce laws enshrined in the constitution. Poona Pact has served its purpose and now it is our duty to work beyond that.

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com , September 24, 201

VOTE FOR
DR.B.R AMBEDKAR &
SAHIB KANSHI RAM JI

Jaibhim All,
Currently a survey is being conducted by IBN Lokmat news channel about Greatest Indian after Mahatma Gandhi who is the most influential, iconic & inspirational and has impacted the society.

Hence my humble request to all of you that please votes for our legendary heroes DR. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Babu Kanshi Ram Ji.
You can vote Ambedkar on this no. 08082891002 and Babu Kanshi Ram Ji on 08082891006 by giving misses call. You can vote maximum ten Indians. But don’t miss our icons.

You'll receive following SMS if you able to vote successfully. "Thank you. Your vote has been registered for Dr.B.R.Ambedkar. You can also vote on face book. For complete list visit: TheGreatestIndian.in". Please spread this information to your contacts. Thanks.
With kindest regards,
Arun kumar
(Posted on June 11, 2012)

AMBEDKARITE MOVEMENT
IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
Arun Kumar,
Joint Secretary, Federation of Ambedkarites & Buddhist Organisations, UK.

(The installation of bronze busts of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar in London School of
Economics and Columbia University in New York means that the world renowned
educational institutes on both sides of the Atlantic which contributed towards the
nurture and growth of Dr. Ambedkar’s prodigious intellectual skills and scholarly
acumen now have memorials to one of the greatest figures of modern India.)


Ambedkar connection with the United Kingdom goes back to 1920s when he came to London to study in the London School of Economics. Perhaps he was the first Indian to acquire a Doctorate of Science in Economics from this world renowned institution. Later on as Labour Minister, he sent many students for higher studies to London. Whether anybody stayed back or not is not known. The history of Ambedkarite movement could be traced back to early fifties when Dalit pioneers started arriving in the UK. They began to celebrate Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar’s birth anniversaries. As those early pioneers were influenced by Dr. Ambedkar’s Buddhist conversion, they established Bhartiya Buddhist Society. In 1964, Barrister Khobragade, General Secretary, Republican Party of India (RPI) was invited. In his presence, Republican Group of Great Britain was set up to support Republican Party of India. The members of this group continued to propagate Dr. Ambedkar’s ideals by inviting Republican leaders and arranging number of conferences and functions. With the split of RPI, this group also disintegrated.

The followers of Dr. Ambedkar wanted to carry on Dr. Ambedkar’s message of equality, liberty, fraternity and equal justice. As majority of migrants were from the Punjab origin and were settled in the midlands, they set up Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Committee of Great Britain, Wolverhampton in 1969. This committee opened Buddha Vihara in 1976. As a large Buddhist community emerged in Wolverhampton, a purpose built Buddha Vihara and Dr. Ambedkar Community Centre was opened in 1991 to commemorate the Ambedkar Birth Centenary. In 2003, an Ambedkar Museum was added to this community centre in which important memorabilia such as Dr. Ambedkar’s glasses, a fountain pen and suit etc were placed. These items were donated by Late Nanak Chand Rattu, the personal secretary of Dr. Ambedkar.

In 1972, Bheem Association came into existence in Bedford. Later on the name of this Association was changed to Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford. It played a pivotal role in highlighting the plight of Dalits at international level. It sponsored Late Bhagwan Das to give testimony in the 36th Session of the United Nations Commission on Prevention of Discrimination of Minorities held at Geneva in August 1983. It also gifted a bronze bust of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar to the people of Vancouver, which was displayed for exhibition in the International Dalit Conference in Vancouver on May 18th 2003. This precious gift was accepted by the Simon Frasier University in Vancouver, and was installed on 14th October 2004.

A number of organisations on the name of Dr. Ambedkar and Lord Buddha surfaced in various towns. Ambedkar International Mission, East London, Ambedkar Memorial Trust, London, Buddha Dhamma Association, Southall, Ambedkar Buddhist Organisation, Birmingham, Ambedkar Mission Society, Glasgow are some of the organisations working to promote Dr. Ambedkar’s thought throughout the United Kingdom and the World. Numerous Ambedkar Centres and Buddha Viharas were also opened. Though these organisations were doing an excellent work in their respective towns, there was no coordination and collective effort to propagate Ambedkar ideology. To coordinate between various Ambedkarite groups, Ambedkar Buddhist Council, UK (ABC, UK) was formed in 1982. For a wider participation from various groups, the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations, UK (FABO, UK) was formed under the Chairmanship of Late Sohan Lal Shastri who visited UK in 1985. The main objective of the Federation was to coordinate, cooperate and formulate a centralised collective effort not only to promote Babasaheb but also to become a voice of the down trodden people of India. The attention of the world had to be drawn to the continuing oppression of Dalits in India and the campaign for their human rights. It thus is a unified front for Ambedkarite, Buddhist and Dalit activists to raise the concerns at a national and international level. Strength can only come through unity and organisation. Part of the motivation for this organisation in Britain was the awareness on the part of its founders that those Indians now living abroad have a moral obligation to maintain active connections with their homeland.

At the approach of Ambedkar Centenary year, FABO, UK set up Ambedkar Centenary Celebration Committee, UK (ACCC, UK) and launched it at the House of Commons in April 1989. Due to some dedicated Ambedkarites, the Centenary Celebration became a great success, which lasted altogether for four years. Prior to the Centenary Year, Dr. Ambedkar’s life and mission were not widely known in the UK. The activities undertaken by the Centenary Committee ensured that the attention of the public, media and prominent figures in political life was drawn to Babasaheb’s vital contribution to the protection of human rights, modern India and the significance of his movement in the modern world. These events comprised exhibitions, seminars, lectures and cultural programmes. Several interviews and talks were given on TV and radio. Good coverage of all events and the meaning of the Centenary Celebration were secured in the media. The committee was asked to appear on television to highlight the problems of the downtrodden in India. Articles and write-ups appeared in several newspapers, both the ethnic minority and the British press. TV programmes such as ‘In the Footsteps of Ambedkar’, ‘Caste at Birth’, ‘Its My Belief’, ‘Encounter’ and ‘The world This week’, all examined the issue of untouchability in India and its legacy abroad; all brought wider attention to these issues and portrayed Dr. Ambedkar’s concept of a just society . FABO, UK helped Late Kenneth Griffith to make a documentary film on Dr. Ambedkar, which was shown on BBC 2 television on 12th October, 1996. During the shooting of Dr. Jabbar Patel’s film ‘Babasaheb Ambedkar’, the Federation helped the crew by providing accommodation and transport. Some of the members took time off from their work and spent ten days with the crew to help them.

Two grand functions took place at the House of Commons and the Royal Commonwealth Society, with many VIP guests; a prestigious function was also organised at Gray’s Inn (where Babasaheb was called to the Bar). On 14th April, a bronze bust of Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar was installed in the London School of Economics (LSE) from where he obtained the degree of D Sc (Eco). On February 19, 1997, a function was arranged to plant an Indian Beans Tree (Calalpa Bignoides) in the walks at Gray’s Inn, Holborn, London WC1, in remembrance of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the presence of the Treasure of the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn, Hon. Judge Esyr Lewis QC, the Rt. Hon. Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Chief Justice of England and other distinguished legal luminaries. The Committee published four souvenirs in magazine format, which were acclaimed internationally by Scholars for their contribution to a deeper understanding of Dr. Ambedkar’s work. The Federation was also asked to present a paper on Ambedkar’s movement at a UNESCO Conference in Paris.

A commemorative plaque was installed at 10 King Henry Road, Hampstead, London, the house where Dr. Ambedkar lived during his time of study in London in 1921-1922.The FABO, UK arranges every year a peace walk from 10 King Henry's Road to LSE, Houghton St, London, WC2A 2AD on 6th December to remind how Dr Ambedkar used to walk from his residence to LSE covering a long distance.
A bronze bust of Babasaheb was also installed at the Indian High Commission in London. Chief Eleazar Chakwuemeka Anayaoku, then Commonwealth Secretary General did the unveiling of the bronze bust at the India House where Late Michael Foot, a former leader of Labour Party was also present. He termed Ambedkar as ‘a giant amongst (political) giants’. On April, 1995, a statue of Dr. Ambedkar was unveiled under the auspices of the Federation in an Adivasi tribal remote area at Valod, District Surat in Gujarat State. The statue was unveiled by the Vice President, Mr. K.R. Narayanan before a gathering of over 10.000 people.

On October 24, 1995, another bust of Dr. Ambedkar was presented to the Columbia University, New York where Dr. Ambedkar studied. This installation of bust means that the world renowned educational institutes on both sides of the Atlantic which contributed towards the nurture and growth of Dr. Ambedkar’s prodigious intellectual skills and scholarly acumen now have memorials to one of the greatest figures of modern India.

For many years, numerous groups from UK are campaigning to bring caste into the ambit of British law. To oppose this campaign, the Hindu Council, UK issued a detailed report ‘The caste System’ denying the prevalence of caste existence and its impact on society. They also claimed that the caste system was nothing to do with Hindu religion and in fact it was an invention of the foreign rulers i.e. British and Muslims. In response to this report, Late Chanan Chahal, President of FABO, UK issued a counter report ‘The Evil of Caste –The caste System as the largest systemic Violation of Human Rights in today’s World.’ This report was published and released jointly by the Federation of Ambedkarite & Buddhist Organisations, UK (FABO, UK) and the Dalit Solidarity Network UK (DSN, UK) in the House of Commons on 19th January 2009. This report was extensively quoted in the study launched by the British Government Equalities office and published by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). The report accepted the existence of caste discrimination and is lying on the table of minister for its acceptance.

The members of FABO, UK didn’t confine their activities to UK only but also went to attend various seminars and conferences in numerous countries to carry out Dr. Ambedkar’s message of human dignity.
The annual event of the commemoration of April 14 (the date of Babasaheb’s birth) continues to be celebrated by the Federation at a location in the heart of London and a garlanding ceremony at the portrait and bust statue of Dr. Ambedkar in the Ambedkar Hall at the High Commission of India.

With the hard work of Late Shekhar Bagul and Dr. P.L. Ganvir, the Department of History and Economic History has set up an annual Ambedkar Memorial Lecture at the Manchester Metropolitan University. To make necessary arrangements for this lecture, Ambedkar Memorial Committee was also established. Every year an eminent person is invited to give lecture. On this day, an exhibition of the work of Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar is also displayed.

Ambedkarites in the UK established Punjab Buddhist Society, UK to build a monumental Buddha Vihara in Punjab on the 50th Golden Jubilee of the great conversion by Dr. Ambedkar. They built Takshila Maha Buddha Vihara at Ludhiana at the cost of over two crores of rupees. This Buddha Vihara is functioning successfully as a Buddhist Training Centre. It is one of the biggest Buddha Viharas in the northern India.

Dalit Solidarity Network (DSN, UK), Voice of International (VODI), Caste Watch UK and Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance, UK (ACDA, UK) are other organisations working for the cause of victims of caste oppression. DSN, UK is one of the major organisations which is engaged in exposing the caste based discrimination (CBD) in India, UK and other countries and also working towards their empowerment. They have been able to solicit the support of many MPs, unions and church leaders. They are working in collaboration with the International Dalit Solidarity Network based in Demark. They have endorsed Ambedkar Principles based on the employment laws accepted by UN to give proper representation to Dalits in various sectors. These principles were framed by International Dalit Solidarity Network, Denmark. VODI, UK is also raising the concerns of downtrodden people of India and proposing to start some development work. Caste Watch UK and ACDA, UK are established with the one objective to bring caste based discrimination under British law. All these organisations don’t consider themselves Ambedkarites but they cannot ignore Ambedkar’s contribution towards elimination of caste and his work to impart them with equal social, economic, religious and political freedom.

Contribution of Dr. Ambedkar to eradicate CBD and his work to improve the conditions of oppressed people are being recognised in academic and political circles not only in India but also all over the World. On the demand of Dalit network Netherlands, on 30th June, 2011, Dutch Parliament adopted a motion by two third majorities requesting the Minister of Foreign Affairs to continue an active approach to combat CBD and improving the position of over 250 million Dalits in south Asian countries. It was also requested to raise issue on the European Union, UN organisations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Parliament was further asked to accept Ambedkar Principles as an integral part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy of Dutch and the European companies including in the supply chain who are active in the countries where CBD is practised.

During 1980s, many Punjabis migrated to various countries in Europe and majority of them settled in Germany. They formed Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society of Europe with headquarters in Frankfurt. They celebrate Dr. Ambedkar’s birthday in various countries of Europe such as Italy, France, Portugal and Spain.

Ambedkar movement is getting stronger in the Roma community (derogatory referred to as gypsies across Europe) of Hungary. This movement is spearheaded by Derdak Tibor, a sociologist and a former member of Hungarian Parliament and the Roma leader, Orsos Janos. They both visited Maharashtra in 2005 and were quite inspired by the social transformation of Dr. Ambedkar and his work amongst Dalits and now they are trying to deploy Ambedkarite ideas in their struggle for equal rights for the Roma community. They founded Jai Bheem Network, embraced Buddhism and opened three schools named after Dr. Ambedkar in Sajjokaza, Ozd and Hegymeg for Roma children. (Report in The Hindu, 22nd November, 2009). Now they run four institutions in small villages near Miskolc, North East Hungary providing primary and secondary and vocational courses. Dr. Ambedkar Gymnasium is run in the Barsod County and is a special needs secondary school having 400 students; most of them come from extremely poor Roma community. All these Ambedkar institutions are run with the help from Hungarian state, Buddhist community and private funding. Mr. Orsos Janos travels all over Europe to talk on Roma issues and the effect of Ambedkar ideology on the Roma community.

Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar was closely associated with USA through Columbia University from where he earned his masters degree in 1915 and his PhD in Economics in 1928. In 1952, Columbia University conferred on him with an honorary degree Doctorate of Law. Later on a bronze bust of Dr. Ambedkar was donated to the university by the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisation, UK. This bust had been installed in the Lehman Library at the School of International and public Affairs and the pedestal was donated by the Ambedkarites of New York and New Jersey. In USA, Ambedkar movement came into lime light during late 70s and early 80s when an organisation called VISION (Volunteers in Service of India’s Oppressed and Neglected) demonstrated against the atrocities on untouchables during late Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s (then Prime Minister) visit to USA. Many newspapers flashed this news all over USA and UK. In 1981, On behalf of this organisation, Dr. Laxmi Berwa became the first person to give testimony in the UN Human Rights Commission in regard to the plight of untouchables and violation of their human rights. Ambedkar Centre for Justice and Peace (ACJP) was founded in the USA in 1991 by Yogesh Varhade. ACJP is a global organisation with its headquarters at Mumbai and at Kingston, Pennsylvania, USA. Mr. Varhade is a Global President. ACJP played a significant role to highlight the issue of downtrodden and neglected people of India at the international arena. They participated in many conferences and raised this issue in the various UN bodies. On 24th November, 2006, ACJP protested against the killings of Dalits in India and presented a memorandum to the Ambassador at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations and to the office of the UN Security General’s office. Raju Kambe is a staunch Ambedkarite and always in the forefront to carry on Babasaheb’s caravan. He was greatly instrumental in organising first Dalit International Convention in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur and again he was one of the major organisers of Second International Ambedkar Convention held in December, 2011.

Prem Kumar Chumber runs "Ambedkar Times" from Antelope, California both monthly newspapers in English and in Punjabi and on line as well. From its name, it reflects that the editor gives more prominence to Ambedkar thought. These papers have helped to make the people aware about the contribution of Dr. Ambedkar to provide equal rights to the suppressed and neglected people of the society. (Recently he started on April 13, 2012 an other news paper in Punjabi named “DESH DOABA” ).

Before the US President’s visit to India in November, 2010, Dalits from all over the World and particularly from USA reminded Barack Obama regarding the position of Dalits in India and the man behind to ameliorate their conditions. Keeping in view the feelings of millions of Dalits, President Barack Obama, in his address to the Indian Parliament made a statement "We believe that no matter who you are or where you come from, every person can fulfil their God-given potential, just as a Dalit like Dr. Ambedkar could lift himself up and pen the words of the constitution that protects the rights of all Indians,"

Based in Vancouver, Chetna Association of Canada is a secular organisation representing the people from all walks of society but mainly from Dalit communities. This organisation has raised the profile of Dalit issues through seminars, public talks and screening films. The highlight of their work is International Dalit Conference held in Vancouver in 2003 which discussed the reasons for the backwardness of Dalits and the ways and means for their empowerment. In this conference, a bronze bust donated by Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford, UK was displayed and later on installed in the Simon Frazer University, Vancouver. Recently a talk is in progress to name a 40 seat hall in the university on the name of Dr. Ambedkar. They continue celebrating Dr. Ambedkar’s birth anniversary every year. Recently they celebrated 30 years of Ambedkarism in Canada. Dr. Ambedkar International Coordination Association of Canada has also been established in Vancouver. This association helps the needy Dalit children in education in India.

Based in Toronto, Indian Buddhist Society of Canada is entirely based on the Ambedkar Buddhism. Its members are spread all over the country. Anand Bali runs e-paper, Bheem Patrika from Toronto. Recently he visited UK to solicit support to build Ambedkar Centre and has set up Buddh Vihar Dr. Ambedkar Community Centre 328 Passmore Av, Unit 20 Scarborough, Ont MIV-5J5. Raju Kamble’s presence in Calgary gave an impetus to Ambedkar movement and many programmes were organised in memory of Dr. Ambedkar.

Indians have been able to sweep the problem of caste prejudice under the carpet. But with globalisation and modern technological advancement in communication, no issue could be kept hidden for long time. Keeping in view the nature of caste discrimination, Mandrika Rupa, a film maker from New Zeeland made a documentary, ‘Hidden Apartheid’ in which she depicted Dr. Ambedkar as a champion fighting for the cause of the suppressed and neglected people.

With the increasing popularity of Ambedkar and his movement, he is becoming a World phenomenon. Sensing the interest people showing in the liberation movement of Ambedkar, soon he will be considered one of the leading icons who fought for equality, liberty, fraternity, equal opportunity and equal justice and his name will be mentioned along with Martin Luther King Junior and Nelson Mandela.


“Author is a human rights activist, follower of Dr. Ambedkar involved in his movement in UK since 1977, had served in number of organisations in various capacities. Currently he is General Secretary of Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedfortd and Joint Secretary of FABO, UK”.
Posted on June 6, 2012

AMBEDKAR BIRTH CELEBRATIONS
- A SHOW OF UNITY

Arun Kumar
(Bedford, UK)

On 20th May, 121st birth anniversary of Dr. Bheem Rao Ambedkar was celebrated jointly by all the Dalit organisations namely Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha and Bhagwan Valmik Sabha, Bedford at Sri Guru Ravidass community Centre, Bedford. These three organisations are organising such functions for a number of years and workedcollectively to include caste based discrimination in the British law. They have set up a precedent for others to work together for a common cause leaving the issues behind on which the opinions differ. In his welcome address, Mr. Om Parkash Bagha congratulated everybody for coming together on one platform and hoped that in future such programmes would continued to be organised. The function opened with two minutes silence in memory of a staunch Ambedkarite, late Mr. Mehar Singh Dhariwal who passed away in January this year.

In his opening remarks, Arun Kumar expressed satisfaction over the emergence of Dalit media such as ‘The Punjab Telegraph’, ‘Samaj Weekly’, ‘Kanshi Radio’ and ‘Kanshi Television’ to voice their concerns. The main media never bothered to cover Dalit stories. Similarly in USA, Ambedkartimes and Desh Doabarun by Prem Chumber are also playing a very positive role in bringing awareness amongst Dalits and others to buid a society on the basis of dreams of our forefathers. To expose the false conception that there is no caste based discrimination in the state of Punjab, a hard hitting documentary film ‘Caste Violence and Slavery in Modern Punjab’ made by Mr. Pirthi Kaeley and Arun Kumar of Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford was screened in which horrendous atrocities on Dalits were shown.

Dr. Raj Chand, Chairman of Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance, UK gave a presentation on the latest situation on the campaign to include caste based discrimination in the British legal system. Ho told that in spite of recommendations from their own report and also UN human Rights, the British government is reluctant to accept the recommendations and trigger Article 9(5) A of the Equality Act, 2010. Referring to the report ‘Evil of Caste’ by late Mr. Chanan Chahal, Mr. C. Gautam, General Secretary, Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations, UK (FABO, UK) saidthat FABO, UK not only campaigned against caste discrimination but also supported other organisations to include in the British Law and promised to continue to do so in future. He also mentioned about the proposal to have International Dalit Conference in London for which delegates from USA, Malaysia met in the Ambedkar Hall in West London and are meeting again in Paris to mobilise the support for the conference.

Mr. Sat Paul, Cultural Secretary, Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha, Bedford suggested that it was a time to have a mutual understanding to stand against the injustice and eradicate inequality. That would be the biggest tribute to Dr. Ambedkar who devoted whole of his life to that cause. Mr. Ajit Jakhu, Director of Kanshi Radio stated that it is broadcast in 53 countries on sky television. He promised that Dalit issues would be given priority and all are welcome to participate in discussions on radio. He hoped that Kanshi Radio would be able to create unity amongst various Dalit communities. Mr. Lekh Pal raised the question of Adivasi people who are falsely branded as Maoist and being killed.

Mrs. Nirmala Chahal wife of late Mr. Chanan Chahal pledged that she would continue to contribute to the mission of Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar. Poetry was recited by Mr. Ram Pal Rahi, President, Punjab Buddhist Society, UK. Tributes to Dr. Ambedkar were also paid by Mr Rattan Lal Sampla, Harbans Virdee and Harbhajan Singh. Mrs. Santosh Gill from Bhagwan Valmik Sabha, Bedford, Giani Kuldip Singh, Amrik Singh and Balbir Singh from Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha, Mr. K.L. Chand and Raj Manak entertained with their melodies. Programme concluded with vote of thanks from Mr. Tarsem Kalyan, President, Bhagwan Valmik Sabha, Bedford. The event was broadcast live by the Kanshi Radio. To continue to show the strength of unity, it was decided to organise an eye camp jointly by three organisations in one of the remote area of Punjab.
Posted on June 7, 2012

MISSING FROM THE INDIAN NEWSROOM
Robin Jeffrey
Opinion>> Lead, The Hindu, April 09, 2012
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article3294285.ece?homepage=true
The media's failure to recruit Dalits is a betrayal of the constitutional guarantees of equality and fraternity.

There were almost none in 1992, and there are almost none today: Dalits in the newsrooms of India's media organisations. Stories from the lives of close to 25 per cent of Indians (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) are unlikely to be known — much less broadcast or written about.

Unless, of course, the stories are about squalor and violence. An analyst once summed up the treatment of African-American and Hispanic issues in the American media: such people “rarely travel, eat or get married,” if all you knew about them was what you learned from the media.

Is it a calamity that Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are almost completely absent from newspapers and television? Of course it is. It's a calamity for at least three reasons.
First, it means that the Constitution is not being lived up to. The Constitution promises “equality” and “fraternity.” There's something deficient about “equality” if a quarter of the population is missing from the Fourth Estate. And it's hard to fraternise — to practise fraternity — with people who aren't there.

Second, a fitting presence in newsrooms, and the varied coverage that it brings, mitigates the resentment of people who are ignored and discriminated against. Recognition of tribulations and achievements combats discrimination. And if meaningful changes do not happen, resentment will bubble up destructively — as it already does in areas of Maoist influence in eastern India. Constant, probing stories about the triumphs and agonies of people on the margins help to effect remedies and turn barriers into bridges.

A section overlooked
Third, genuine media people, who believe in the old New York Times tag about ferreting out “all the news that's fit to print,” can never be satisfied with producing a newspaper, a magazine or a bulletin that robotically overlooks a quarter of the population (except when there's violence and squalor of course). Grizzled city editors (city editors are always grizzled) used to pose a single question to self-satisfied reporters at the end of the day: “What REALLY happened out there today, boys and girls?” It ought to flash in lights in every newsroom.

The Dalit absence from the media has been focussed on sporadically since 1996. That's when Kenneth J. Cooper, the Washington Post correspondent, himself an African-American, tried to find a Dalit media person in New Delhi. Cooper wrote about his failure to do so, and B.N. Uniyal publicised Cooper's inquiries in the Pioneer. “Suddenly, I realised,” Uniyal wrote, “that in all the 30 years I had worked as a journalist I had never met a fellow journalist who was a Dalit; no, not one.”

Not a single SC, ST
Nothing had changed by the time I published India's Newspaper Revolution in 2000. Nothing had changed by 2006 when a survey on the 10th anniversary of the Cooper-Uniyal inquiry found not a single SC or ST among more than 300 media decision-makers. And nothing much had changed a year ago when the Tamil journalist, J. Balasubramaniam, wrote a personal account in the Economic and Political Weekly.

Kenneth Cooper, now a media consultant and editor based in Boston, began a distinguished career on the St Louis American, an African-American daily that was commercially successful. If there are similarities between the plight of African-Americans in the past (and present) and Dalits today, then why are there no Dalit-oriented media voices like Ebony or Essence magazines or the old St Louis American or Chicago Defender?
Part of the answer lies in the fact that Dalits lack advantages that Black America enjoyed (though “enjoy” is hardly the right word) even in the 1920s. Most important was a black middle class of shop-owners and professionals. Such people could buy advertisements and put up capital to back a publication. Black America worked in a single language, English, and had networks of churches and their pastors who provided respected leaders, education and connections. Martin Luther King was one of many. Black America was also less divided internally: caste among African Americans was not a problem, though skin tone may have been.

If you're inclined to say, “Good journalists, regardless of caste, cover stories objectively” or “Quotas and reservations are the bane of modern India — only ability counts,” consider the nationalist experience. Did the old elites who confronted British rule feel they were satisfactorily represented in The Statesman and the Times of India? They didn't. And The Hindu, Amrita Bazar Patrika, the Hindustan Times, Young India and many others were the result. Babasaheb Ambedkar said it well: “with the press in hand it [is] easy to manufacture great men.”

What might be done to put a Dalit presence into media? Two suggestions. Neither an answer, but both worth considering.

Two suggestions
To begin with, the Editors' Guild could commit itself to carrying out an annual census of newsroom diversity of the kind that the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) began in 1978. In that year, “people of colour” were 4 per cent of people in U.S. newsrooms, though they were close to 30 per cent of the American population. The target was to reach more than 20 per cent by 2000. They missed the target. In 2011, “minorities” were about 13 per cent of American newsrooms, though they constituted 36 per cent of the U.S. population. (That includes African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asians). The new ASNE target date has been set to 2020.

Such targets in India would be difficult. (Targets, remember. Not “reservations” or “quotas”). Caste is so raw and sensitive. But if major organisations took a lead in conducting and publishing an annual audit of diversity, and included women and Muslims in such an audit, an embarrassment factor would kick in. Lesser organisations might feel obliged to follow or be singled out for ridicule.

A middle class is growing slowly among people at the bottom of India's pyramid (BOIP). People near the bottom, most of whom are Dalits, need a publication that looks at the world from their perspective — bottom up, not top down. A BOIP middle-class needs a first-class publication — an Ebony or an Essence, two of the glossy magazines of Black America that report achievements as well as outrages.

Classy & different
A slick, view-from-below magazine (English and Hindi) would cover stories from the margins in ways that people at the margins would recognise. And its journalism could be so compelling that others would want to read it for its classiness and its difference. In a tiny, budget-conscious way, the Dalit-focussed publisher, Navayana, already tries to do this in the book trade.

Such a publication would need to be run by a trust, and some of the capital would need to come from a Dalit middle-class itself. But the corpus of the trust could be built from donations from people-of-goodwill from all backgrounds and from one-off contributions from governments. Rs. 100 crore would make a realistic target — a mere $20 million, the cost of a couple of mid-priced battle-tanks or a small slice of 2G spectrum.

What about television? For about a year-and-a-half before I first came to India in 1967, I wrote a daily television column for a small-town newspaper in western Canada. I watched a lot of U.S. and Canadian television. There were no Black people on TV. When I came back to North America in 1970, Flip Wilson, an African-American comedian, had a popular TV show. Something dramatic had happened. Thirty-eight years later, the U.S. elected a Black President.

Are there any Dalits anchoring a programme or going regularly to camera on a major Indian television channel? My contacts tell me there aren't. It will be a big moment when that changes — and a daunting burden on the person who breaks that barrier.

Achieving “equality” and “fraternity” in India may be harder even than the path that African Americans have had to follow. There are more divisions, fewer resources and huge disparities. But until there is diversity on television screens and printed pages, the promises of the Constitution will be unfulfilled, unthinking prejudice will persist and simmering resentment will grow. Media diversity is a matter of national self-interest as well as justice.

(Robin Jeffrey is Visiting Research Professor, Institute of South Asian Studies and Asia Research Institute National University of Singapore. The article is based on the Rajendra Mathur Memorial Lecture delivered in New Delhi on 31 March, 2012.)

Posted on April 09, 201
Dear Editor,
We must congratulate Mr. Robin Jeffrey for raising this vital issue of lack of Dalit representation in the mainstream media.
In USA, American Society of Newspaper Editors took a decision in 1978 to raise the minorities’ representations from a pathetic 3.95% to the same level as their share in the population. The papers started special programmes such as scholarships, ethnic and racial censuses, training schemes and job fairs to recruit historically disadvantage minority groups. Today two thirds of all newspapers with circulation 100,000 plus draw 15-20% of their journalists from racial linguistics minorities like blacks and Hispanics. Thus, 16.2% of the New York Times, 19.5% of Washington Post, 18.7% of Los Angeles Times and 17.1% of Wall Street Journal’s staff belong to such minorities.
In the Western countries, the spirit of diversity is taken seriously and it has become a part of Corporate Responsibility. But in India this spirit is missing. That is why Dalits hardly find a place in the business, educational institutions and media. In his article, ‘In Search of a Dalit Journalist’, Mr. B.N. Unigal states that there is not a single Dalit journalist in the English language press from the population of well over 250 million Dalits (Dalit Diary). Mr. Chandra Bhan Prasad, a Dalit writer is right when he says “In the US you have black billionaires, industrialists, black film stars, black professors. In India, university professorships are closed to us. We don’t have one millionaire. There is neither one Dalit newspaper editor nor a newscaster.” The caste intelligentsia, which controls media and public institutions, doesn’t find it necessary to examine the reasons for not given due representations to these people. What Mr. Robin Jeffery has stated now Dalits are crying since 2003. First in January 2002 Bhopal Declaration, Dalit intellectuals wanted an equal participation of all sections of the society in the activities of all key institutions be it governance, education, institutions media or trade.
To further these objectives, another International Dalit Conference took place in Vancouver, Canada on 16-18 May 2003. Endorsing the Bhopal Declaration, the Conference asked for rightful and proportionate share of Dalits in India’s national institutions, wealth, capital and media. It was for the first time Dalits demanded to begin a proper and concrete time bound programme to include diversity in companies’ mission statements and implement them. Whether the people realise or not, Vancouver Conference became a path breakings step for the empowerment of Dalits. But unfortunately no newspaper establishment in India has come up with the American style idea to give representation to Dalits. Dalits need to keep up the pressure on the government make diversity mandatory in the media. If they don’t must lose government grants and advertisements.
Arun Kumar
My final words of advice to you are educate, agitate and organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is battle for freedom. It is the battle of reclamation of human personality.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
63RD INDIA’S REPUBLIC DAY CELEBRATIONS
(Report by Arun Kumar, Joint Secretary, FABO UK)
India’ 63rd Republic Day was celebrated at Ambedkar Hall, Southall by the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations, UK on 29th January, 2012. Mayor of London Borough of Ealing , Councilor John Gallagher, Southall M P, Mr. Virendra Sharma, Satpal Muman, Chairman Caste Watch UK, Harbans Balli, Guru Ravidass Supreme council, UK, Fr. Khushi representing Holi Trinity Church and VODI, Maria Dass of Southall Ambedkarites Forum, Sina Mani, President, British Organisation of the People of the Inidan origin (Bopio), Madhavrao Patil, President of Dr Ambedkar Memorial Trust and K. Sucha, President, Bahujan Samaj Party Supporters, Southall participated and addressed in the function. Among other distinguished guests were Faqir Chand Virdee, Santosh Dass, MBE and Dr Jagdish M Kaushal. Shailendra Khairnar presented his one of art work to the local Mayor.

The function began with one minute silence in the memory of a staunch Ambedkarite, Mr. Mehar Singh Dhariwal of Dr. Ambedkar Mission society, Bedford who passed away on 29th January.

C. Gautam, General Secretary, FABO, UK said that in India Republic Day is celebrated with great pump and show but on this occasion people often forget the contribution made by Dr. Ambedkar to frame this document. Mr. Virendra Sharma, MP termed the India constitution one of the best in the World which has kept India together. He suggested that there was a lot to be done to ameliorate the conditions of the unprivileged people. Constitution provides all provisions but they needed implementation. Sinna Mani accused Brahmanism for all ills of India. Until or unless caste is eradicated, inequality will remain. Satpal Muman explained that India’s constitution was a unique and not a copy of other constitutions. He further stated that Babasaheb believed in equality, liberty, fraternity and equal justice and he made all of them the pillars of democracy in India.

A short film on the importance of 26th January and Dr. Ambedkar’s vision to make India a great nation was also shown. This film was made especially for this occasion by Pirthi Kaeley and Arun Kumar of Dr. Ambedkar Mission society, Bedford.

The programme was anchored by C. Gautam, General Secretary of FABO UK and vote of thanks proposed by Bakshi Birdi, President, Buddha Dhamma Association, Southall.

The vegetarian lunch was provided by Shri Guru Ravidass Supreme Council UK.
Kanshi Television did full coverage of the event and it will be shown on the Venus channel-805 in near future.
Posted on February 2, 2012
MR. MEHAR SINGH DHARIWAL PASSED AWAY
Ambedkartimes.com sends its condolence to the Dhariwal family, relatives and friends on their biggest loss. Prem Chumber

Dear All,
With heavy heart and great sorrow, I am to inform all of you that Mr. Mehar Singh Dhariwal passed away suddenly on 29th January, 2012 aged 62 years. His sudden and untimely demise has left the entire community in a state of shock. He was one of the founding fathers of Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford and remained active till his last breath. He served the Mission Society in various capacities and was always in forefront to organise Society’s functions. He was also a leading member of the Punjab Buddhist Society, UK and helped to build Takshila Maha Buddha Vihara, Ludhiana (Punjab).

He was well respected in whole of the community. He was regular visitor to the Peace Pagoda at Milton Keynes. Mehar Singh and his family always had food stall to provide refreshments to the devotees at the annual ceremony of the Peace Pagoda since its opening about 32 years ago. He played a prominent role in spreading Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar and Lord Buddha’s message throughout UK and India. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten. He survived his wife, three sons and three grandsons. Our deepest sympathy goes to the family.
Arun Kumar, Dr Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford.
Posted at www.ambedkartimes.com on January 31, 2012

HUNDREDS CONVERTED TO BUDDHISM IN PUNJAB
Arun Kumar,
Bedford, UK

The Ambedkarite people in India celebrate the festival of Ashok Vijaya Dashmi, since the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka is believed to have converted to Buddhism on this day. Also Dr. Ambedkar had converted to Buddhism on this day at Deekshabhoomi, Nagpur in1956, which fell on October 14 in that year.

Nowadays Ashoka Vijaya Dashmi is being celebrated all over India by the followers of Dr. Baba Sahib Ambedkar. The grand festival and congregation is held at Nagpur, Maharashtra, where millions of people gather to remember the Dhamma-Chakra Pravartan done by D. Ambedkar and to celebrate Ashoka Vijaya Dashmi

Ambedkarite people celebrate it by organizing community celebrations, with speeches and entertainment programme containing Buddhist theme followed by meals. Similar programme was organised on 6th October at Takshila Maha Buddha Vihara Ludhiana, Punjab. The highlight of this programme was a conversion to Buddhism by over 500 followers of Dr. Ambedkar. The converts were given forms to fill in that they were converting to Buddhism with their own free will under no coercion from anybody. Twenty two oaths given by Baba Sahib Dr. Ambedkar were administered by Mr. Ram Pal Rahi, President, Punjab Buddhist Society, UK. Well over 4000 people attended the function. This programme was arranged by the Ambedkar Sena Registered, Punjab in cooperation with Takshila Vihara Trust, Punjab Buddhist Society, UK and Punjab. Mr. Ram Pal Rahi, President, Punjab Buddhist Society, UK presided over the function and Mr. H.L. Virdee was a chief guest. Mr. and Mrs. Bihari Middha, Mr. and Mrs Dhanpat Rattu Mr. Rattan Lal Sampla, and Mr. Chaman Lal Chahal, all from UK attended the function. Representatives from Vishav Boudh Sangh, Punjab, Dr. Ambedkar Naujauvan Dal, Ludhiana, Budhha Ankur Bheem Joyti Smiti, Ludhiana, Sanghmita Budh Vihar Parbandhak Committee, Phagwara, Ambedkarite International Coordination Society, Canada also participated. Bhikkhu Devindra from Lucknow and Bhikku Bodhi Palo from Mahahrashtra specially came for this function.

It must be reminded that Takshila Maha Buddha Vihara, Ludhiana is the biggest and first of its kind in Punjab constructed with the cost of over two crores of rupees by the followers of Baba Sahib Dr. Ambedkar in India and abroad under the guidance of Bhante Chandrabodhi and Punjab Buddhist Society, UK. This Vihara is named after the great ancient Buddhist city Takshila (now in Pakistan) where World’s first university existed in which students came from various parts of the World to study in different disciplines. Takshila Maha Buddha Vihara, Ludhiana is in fact a Bhikkhu Training Centre (Seema) where Bhikkhus would be trained and sent to other states especially northern parts of India.

Function opened with the welcome speech by the head monk from Takshila, Bikkhu Prigya Bodhi representing Bhikkhu Karjkar Shakha followed by the Buddhist prayers. He narrated that Maharaja Ashok converted to Buddhism on that very day with great fanfare. Later on the Hindus copied that festival and attached to slaying of Ravana by Rama. He appealed to the people to celebrate this day as a Buddhist day not as a victory of Rama over Ravana. Mr. H.L.Virdee explained that Buddhism was an ancient religion belonging to our forefathers. To embrace Buddhism is just going back to our own religion leaving behind all false philosophy, rituals and ceremonies which made us poor. Narrating the background of Takshila Maha Buddha Vihara, Mr. Ram Pal Rahi said, “Many people have contributed to build this monumental place and want to see this place a centre of Buddhism not only in the state Punjab but also in whole of Northern India. The followers of Dr, Ambedkar must take this place to such a glory that whenever somebody visits Punjab, he or she must make a point to see Takshila as they used to do in ancient times.” He appealed to people to make more contributions so that incomplete work is completed.

Mr. Rajinder Kumar, General Secretary, Ambedkar Sena Registered Punjab, assured that there would be more such programmes in future. To achieve a political power, the Cultural Revolution is must. He further stated that the mind set of the people of Punjab got to be changed by making them realised the cause of their sufferings. Bhante Jagatanand and Bhante Chandrakirti gave Buddha talk in Punjabi. Mr. Sanjeev Kumar Advocate, Pawan Kumar and R.L. Boudh also spoke. Mr. Sohan Sehjal recited poetry from his new book. A Punjabi book ‘Buddh di Gatha’ written by Mr. Sohan Sehjal and published by Mr. Ram Pal Rahi was released on this auspicious occasion. Mr. Simran Kaler made a documentary film on the history of Takshila and revival of Buddhism in Punjab.

Mrs. Nirmala Chahal and Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford provided food in memory of late Mr. Chanan Chahal, a prominent Ambedkarite from UK whose services for Ambedkartie movement and Takshila Maha Buddha Vihara can never be forgotten. Posted on November 8, 2011

UPA GOVT SET TO MAKE 4% OF ITS YEARLY BUY FROM DALIT-RUN FIRMS

Sidhartha & Subodh Ghildiyal, TNN | Sep 12, 2011, 02.02AM IST
NEW DELHI: The Centre is set to make it compulsory that 4% of its annual purchases be made from units run by dalits and tribals, in what will be its strongest bait for classes which hold the key to political battles at the Centre and states.

The 4% purchase quota proposal from ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) is part of the policy that 20% of government procurement be done from MSMEs.

Preferential procurement has been an early poll promise of UPA and its delivery after seven years in power is set to be seen through the prism of Uttar Pradesh elections where Congress is vying with dalit czarina Mayawati to recapture some political space after decades in the wilderness.

Activists believe that mandatory purchases from dalit units would boost entrepreneurship among poor classes with assured state clientele and without the fear of competition from entrenched businessmen. The demand gained ground in the new economy where job quota was shown to have limitations of reach.

The quantum of business available for dalit entrepreneurs may be big. An OECD estimate had suggested that government purchases amounted to 30% of GDP, thereby making business of Rs 94,000 crore available for dalit units. But even by the lower estimate based on Centre's spending pattern, Rs 25,000 crore may be available to units set up and run by SCs and STs.

This year, the Centre budgeted to spend around Rs 12.5 lakh crore, of which defence spending and interest payments add up to Rs 5 lakh crore while subsidies are estimated at Rs 1.4 lakh crore. So, procurement by MSMEs would be around Rs 1.2 lakh crore.

It is not a small figure going by Centre's first tentative steps after years of reluctance in the face of strong lobbying. A sub-committee of the cabinet committee on dalit affairs in UPA-1 had recommended that 30% of government purchases be made from SCs/STs. The inspiration for purchase quota comes from Digvijay Singh regime in MP where it formed part of state policy after Bhopal declaration.

The move, at once part of affirmative action plan, is bound to attract attention of social justice observers. For Congress, it would be a way to blunt the criticism among SCs/STs after failing to extend the frontiers of job reservation to private sector as promised in UPA-1. Its proposal for 5% quota in private enterprises which availed government funding met with lukewarm response and has been put in deep freeze.

If enacted now, Congress could use it as a weapon to contrast its achievement with the work done by Mayawati regime for dalits, a segment Rahul Gandhi has been trying hard to woo from its first choice BSP. Congress needs big ticket decisions to back its chances in April polls in UP and is working hard on a clutch of measures including a new land acquisition bill.
Dr.Rajesh Paswan, Ph.D. (JNU)
Associate Professor and Head, Dept. of Post Graduate Studies and Research in Hindi, N.R.E.C.College Khurja U.P.203131

Posted on September 13, 2011 (Forwarded by Arun Kumar UK

AARAKSHAN-A SOLUTION FOR EQUALITY
By: Arun Kumar, Bedford, UK

Bollywood film ‘Aarakshan” is very much in the news these days. ‘Aarakshan’ means reservation in Hindi – the affirmative action for Dalits (Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and other Backward Castes) in government jobs and educational institutions. For the first time this issue has been discussed openly in the popular cinema where the film maker has tried to address the concerns of the people opposing reservation.

The government policy of reservation had always been Controversial. Voices against this policy had been raised time to time. But media always played with the emotions of the people and gave one sided story i.e. against reservation to stir up public opinion to stop reservation in government jobs and education. The objective of reservation was to narrow down the gap between socially and economically backward classes and the upper castes enjoying monopoly in social and economic fields. Even after 64 years of independence, the gap still exists and rather becoming wider. It must be reminded that Reservation is not what the members of Dalits, who represent 25% of Indian population demanded. It was a demand for a separate electorate under the leadership of Baba Saheb Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar advocated in the Round table Conferences in London and accepted by the British Government. Mahatma Gandhi opposed Bhim Rao Ambedkar and went to fast unto death against separate electorate. To save the life of Mahatma Gandhi, an agreement was signed in Poona in 1932 which is known as Poona Pact, 1932 and present policy of reservation came into existence.

With the globalisation and privatisation, the government jobs became scarce and the unemployment increased. As it was difficult to get into government jobs, students turned to professional qualifications. As there was a monopoly of upper castes in the premier institutions for professional courses, entry of Dalits threatened their domination and upper castes turned against reservation.
Past experience reflects that media always sided with upper castes in regard to the government policy of affirmative action. This time media again created a big hype. Obviously Dalits were suspicious about the motives behind this film and started opposing its showing. The state governments got so much scared that some of them prohibited its exhibition in the cinemas fearing tension in the society. Even Mr. K.R. Punia, National Commission for Scheduled Caste asked to show the film before its release.

On the contrary there is nothing wrong with the contents of the film and all suspicions are baseless. This film ‘Aarakshan’ deals with the issue of merit, social inequality and commercialisation of education and explains how Dalit students are systematically harassed and discriminated by reminding them of their social status. Commercialisation of education is further preventing the brilliant Dalit students to get into these institutions. This fact is further elaborated when one of the characters in the film says in a sarcastic way that Dalits would be able to get into these institutions on the basis of reservation but how could they pay the capitation, tuition and other fees.

The film is a befitting reply to those who oppose the reservation on the basis of merit; capability, equality etc. The film gives a clear message that the objective of equality can only be accomplished, if socially and economically backward people are given extra help and it is only possible through affirmative action. It promotes equality in the society. The film must be shown tax free so that most of the people watch it and understand the real reason for reservation. Everybody should watch this film and make their own minds but it is a must for non-Dalits as it sheds more light on the necessity of reservation to eliminate inequality. The dialogues spoken by a Dalit (hero of the film) are quite appropriate to expose false notion of merit and capability.
The director of the film, Mr. Prakash Jha and his team must be congratulated for taking this bold step to make such a film on contemporary issue that has remained untouched so far. Posted on August 18, 2011

BABA SAHIB DR. AMBEDKAR
BIRTH DAY CELEBRATED AT BEDFORD
Report :

Arun
Kumar, Bedford

On Sunday 29th May, 120th birth anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar was jointly celebrated by Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford, Sri Guru Ravidas Sabha Bedford and Bhagwan Valmik Sabha Bedford at Bedford. From the last few years these organisations are trying to bring all communities on one platform so that in future they are able to work on common issues. Due to this initiative, a large number of people from various communities from all over the country came to pay tributes to Babasaheb Dr Ambedkar. The theme of this event was caste based discrimination.

Mr. Om Parkash, President of Sri Guru Ravidas Sabha Bedford welcomed all guests and opened the function. Paying tribute to Dr. Ambedkar, Mr. Sat Paul stated, “The dream of Dr. Ambedkar would be only fulfilled when the castes are abolished. Racial discrimination in the West and apartheid in South Africa have been abolished, now the caste needs to be eradicated.” Inspired from the ideals of Dr. Ambedkar, many organisations campaigned to include caste discrimination in the British legislation. Dr. Raj Chand, vice President, Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance gave a presentation on the history and the current situation of the Equality Act. He explained that now the government’s own survey confirmed the existence of caste discrimination in the UK but Government seems to be reluctant to accept the findings of the report. He stressed on the need for solidarity and keep on campaigning until the objective is achieved. He congratulated Bedford organisations for setting an example in that direction.

Councillor Mohamed Yasin, Speaker of the Bedford Borough Council was surprised to know the greatness of Dr. Ambedkar. He said, “Being born into an oppressed community, to become a first Law Minister of independent India and write its constitution was a marvellous achievement. Dr. Ambedkar didn’t use his education for himself but the whole community. That is what makes him unique amongst others. To create a fair society based on his ideals would be a true tribute to him.”

Quoting from Prof. S.K. Thorat’s report on caste discrimination in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, Mr. Arun Kumar explained that though various provisions to outlaw caste discrimination were made in the Indian constitution, but they have become only show case for the outer World. A film ‘Death of Merit’ was shown where Dalit students in the premier institutes were tortured and discriminated in such a way that they are forced to commit suicides and this trend is increasing day by day. Dalits are systematically discouraged to enter into higher education. This film was well received.

Mr. Ram Murti Suman, President of Federation of Ambedkarite & Buddhist Organisations, UK stated, “True Ambedkarism is to fight against caste and until or unless caste is there, discrimination would remain. Ambedkarites in the UK have been campaigning against caste discrimination for the last the forty years but people have just begun to realise the effect of castes. I am happy that message has gone through. Barriers need to be broken.” The Chief Guest, Mr. Vidya Bhushan Ravat, a Human rights campaigner, film maker and Ambedkarite writer termed Ambedkarism as a concept to unite people not to divide. He referred to a new concept not only in UP but also in all India of portraying an icon from a caste and worshipping him or her. He further stated that, “By doing so they are strengthening caste and Brahmanism. Instead of uniting they are getting divided which is a very disturbing development and that concept is an anti Ambedkarism. He travelled various countries. People talk about civil rights movement and King Martin Luther Junior but not many know about Ambedkar. It is our duty especially NRIs to make aware the people of the World about the contribution he made to uplift the oppressed people. He advised that Dalits must not depend upon on government jobs only. They should become entrepreneurs and start businesses. They should be in all fields. On positive note, he suggested to celebrate our achievements. Due to Dr. Ambedkar’s efforts, Dalits are now at high positions in all fields but a lot to be done. Talking on land grab movement, he said that Dalits’ land had already been grabbed on the name of development.

Dr. Diepisiye Kuku, a sociologist from America who spent several years at Delhi University talked about his experiences as a black American and the civil rights movement in USA. He compared the civil rights movement with the Dalit movement. He was shocked to see the agitation by doctors with brooms in their hands against reservation in medical institutes in Delhi. The doctors were suggesting that if Dalits became doctors, only cleaning jobs would be left for upper castes. He said that this type of attitude from upper castes reminded him about the treatment of black people meted out by the white people in America. R.L. Sampla, Dharm Pal Nahar, Mrs. Raj Dhariwal, Mrs. Nirmala Chahal and many others spoke on the occasions. Sat Paul, Sam Kalyan and Arun Kumar conducted the programme. A ladies group from Bhagwan Valmik Sabha, Gianni Gurmit Singh and group from Sri Guru Ravidas Sabha, and Mr. K.L. Chand recited missionary songs and entertained the audience. Posted on June 1, 2011
Please click here for report in Punjabi : http://ambedkartimes.org/

BABASEVAK SHEKHAR BAGUL PASSED AWAY
We are very saddened to learn today that Babasevak Shekhar Bagul passed away in the morning of 21st December in Manchester. He was 75. He was not only very staunch follower of Babasaheb, but also a pioneer of the Indian Buddhist movement in the UK. Before moving to Manchester he was on high position for sometime with British Council in London.

With the hard work and dedication of Mr. Shekhur Bagul, Department of History and economic History, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK has set up the Ambedkar Memorial Committee at the Manchester Metropolitan University. An Ambedkar Memorial Lecture in the university takes place every year and an eminent person for this lecture is invited. On this occasion, an exhibition of books and photographs on the life and mission of Dr Ambedkar is also organized. We have lost a truly dedicated disciple of Lord Buddha and mission of Babasaheb Ambedkar. His detailed obituary will be followed after his funeral. Funeral details will be followed shortly.

Further details: Ven. Bhikkhu Tejwant, Punjab Buddhist Society, UK, Tel - 01902 656665, pbs_2004@yahoo.co.uk
C Gautam: Tel - 07956 918053. 07877 273815, cgautam@ambedkar.org
C. Gautam, General Secretary, Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations, UK
Buddha Vihara, 12, Featherstone Road, Southall, Middx. UB2 5AA
E: fabo@ambedkar.org.uk, Tel: 0044 7956 918053 Posted on December 28, 201

FEDERATION OF AMBEDKARITE & BUDDHIST ORGANISATIONS - UK
NEWS RELEASE: Caste based discrimination confirmed by an independent research commissioned by Government Equalities Office

Equality Act 2010 doesn’t cover Caste based discrimination (CBD) but contains a provision that, ‘by order of a Minister, case may be treated as an aspect of race’. The Government commissioned research in 2010 through National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) to identify whether caste discrimination and harassment exists in relation to aspects covered by the Equality Act 2010. After extensive study and interviews, NIESR and Government Equalities Office have come up with a report ‘Caste discrimination and harassment in Great Britain’ published on 16 December 2010 in which existence of CBD in the UK is officially confirmed. We welcome this eagerly awaited report.

In its conclusion, the report says, “The study found evidence of caste discrimination and harassment in Britain in areas relevant to the Equality Act 2010, namely in work and the provision of services. It also found evidence of caste discrimination and harassment in other areas, namely education (pupil against pupil bullying), voluntary work (dismissal), worship and religion and public behaviour (harassment in public places). The consequences of these could be severe for the victims”. That is what we had been campaigning for the last 35 years and finally our argument has been accepted. Federation of Ambedkarite & Buddhist Organisations UK (FABO, UK) highlighted this problem many times especially in its report ‘The Evil of Caste : The Caste System as the Largest Systemic Violation of Human Rights in Today’s World’ by late Chanan Chahal released in the House of Commons on 21st January, 2009. This report has been extensively quoted in the study published by Government Equalities Office. Now we appeal to the British government to accept the findings of NIESR’s report and include CBD in the British law so that legal protection is provided to the victims of caste discrimination and they stop suffering silently.

We are greatly thankful to many Members of Parliament, Lords, academics, NIESR team, various organisations especially Dalit Solidarity Network, UK, Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance, UK, Caste Watch UK, Voice of Dalit International, UK who gave their valuable support and time to campaign against CBD. The victims of caste deserve our deep appreciation for coming forward to give their testimony before the NIESR’s team without which this achievement was impossible.

Arun Kumar (Joint Secretary)
Federation of Ambedkarite & Buddhist Organisations, UK,
Buddha Vihara, 12, Featherstone Road, Southall, Middx. UB2 5AA, E: fabo@ambedkar.org.uk, Tel: 0044 7956 918053 18th December, 2010
Posted on 18th December, 2010

Dear Editor (Ambedkartimes.com),
I learnt about the Parinirvana of Shri Bhagwan Dass. Our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and the community. Shri Bhagwan Dass was a scholar and intellectual not only of the dalits but also the society at large. His contribution in carrying forward the Mission of Dr. Ambedkar was great. May God grant peace to the departed soul.
(Ramesh Chander), Ambassador of India to Belarus Posted on November 20, 2010

Dear Editor (Ambedkartimes.com),
S
hri Bhagwan Das was very dear to all of us. I personally learnt a lot from close interaction with him. He was a great Ambedkarite who had the honour to know and meet Baba Sahib Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in person. He was the first true Ambedkarite who published the speeches of Dr. Ambedkar in the late 1960s from Bheem Patrika in Jalandhar. In teaming up with another legendry Ambedkarite from Punjab, Shri L.R. Balley, Shri Bhagwan Das pioneered the sincere cause of publishing Ambedkar literature in a big way in English as well as vernacular. He devoted his entire life for the cause of the upliftment of the socially excluded sections of the Indian society. His passing away is rally an irreparable loss for all of us never to be filled up. However, he would always be with us through his seminal works on Dalit literature that he had produced over his life-long persistent intellectual efforts and grass-roots activism. I empathise with you, your family and all the fellow Ambedkarites.
Ronki Ram (Dr.)
Chairperson, Dept. of Political Science, Panjab University, Chandigarh
Posted on November 18, 2010
SHRI BHAGWAN DAS IS NO MORE.
He will live among us through his works for the Mission

Ambedkartimes.com condoles the death of Shri Bhagwan Das, a legendary Ambedkarite, who deeply spread the mission and philosophy of Baba Sahib Dr. B.R. Ambedkar especially in Punjab and in whole India in general. He was the pioneered in publishing the speeches of Baba Sahib Dr. Ambedkar under the title Thus Spoke Ambedkar in four volumes at a time when there was no literature available on Baba Sahib’s views. He was a renowned scholar of Urdu and Hindi as well. He wrote extensively in Hindi too.

Shri Bhagwan Das was the founder member of the World Conference on Religion and Peace (India Chapter) with its headquarters in New York and Geneva. He was also the Director, Asian Centre for Human Rights; member of the Governing Board and Executive Committee of Asian Conference on Religion and Peace having its headquarters at Tokyo; and President of the Dalit Solidarity Programme. He remained active in his endeavours towards the mission up till his last breath.
Ambedkartimes.com pays floral tributes to the legendary Ambedkarite. His inspiration will always be with us to achieve the mission.
Prem Kumar Chumber
Editor-in-Chief (Ambedkartimes.com)
Posted on November 18, 2010

MR. BHAGWAN DASS OUR GUIDE & MENTOR

By Arun Kumar

Hearing the news of the passing away of Mr. Bhagwan Das Ji, a wave of shock spread through out the Ambedkarite movement in the UK. He had a special relationship with the UK people. I feel privileged to see and meet Mr. Bhagwan Das. I had read most of his books especially his ‘Thus Spoke Ambedkar’ series. I was greatly impressed and influenced by his writings. I had an opportunity to meet Mr. Bhagwan Das in 1983 for the first time when he visited UK on the invitation of Dr. Ambedkar Mission society, Bedford. This Society had a long association with Mr. Das. Some of the NRIs in Bedford set up an organisation called Bheem Association in 1969. Due changing circumstances and to connect with the mainstream Ambedkarite movement, Mr. Bhagwan Das suggested to change the name. Hence Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford came into existence.

Mr. Bhagwan Das was one of the few Ambedkarite scholars involved in highlighting the plight of Dalits at international level. He was one of the founder members of the World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP). He attended many sessions of the (WCRP) held in Kenya, Japan, Malaysia, USA and many other countries. Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford was a part of most of his ventures in one way or the other. He gave testimony in the 36th Session of the United Nations Commission on Prevention of Discrimination of Minorities held at Geneva in August 1983 on behalf of Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford and many other organisations from India and abroad. Before going to Geneva, he stayed with us about one week. At that time he was staying with late Mr. Chanan Chahal. I used to spend every evening with him.

While preparing his testimony, Mr. Das said that it would be nice if a few copies of his testimony are made for distribution to the delegates. It would leave a long lasting impact. At that time there was no facility of modern computers and photocopying. We bought an old type cyclostyle copier. Mr. Dass typed his speech on stencils and we made copies. We all finished this work about 2 O’clock in the morning. Over hundred copies were made which Mr. Das took with him to Geneva

After this testimony, the Indian Muslim, Sikh and Hindu delegates turned against him and conspired to omit his name from the next session of WCRP to be held in Nairobi, Kenya. Mr. Das asked us to write to the Secretary General of WCRP and explained the situation. A letter was written to the Secretary General, Dr. Homer A. Jack and request was made for inclusion of Mr. Das in the delegation list as he was the only voice of the voiceless people in India. Dr. Jack was a genuine person. He thanked the Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford for letting him know the conspiracy and assured us that Mr. Das would attend the conference. Das Sahib was invited as an ‘expert on the Asian Affairs’. All Indian delegates kept a distance from him. Indian High Commissioner in Nairobi invited all Indian delegates for dinner but boycotted Mr. Das. Bhagwan Dass ji told me later on that boycott incident went in his favour as delegates from other countries came to know the truth and Mr. Das became a regular invitee to the future conferences. Since then we were in regular contact with each other.

In 1988, Federation of Ambedkarite & Buddhist Organisations UK had a preliminary meeting to celebrate Ambedkar Birth Centenary in the UK. Mr. Bhagwan Das was also present in this meeting. The meeting was held under his Chairmanship. On his initiative, an organisation ‘International Ambedkar Institute, UK’ was set up to take Ambedkar thought in the premier institutes in the UK and do some research work. Renowned actor and film maker, late Kenneth Griffiths was elected as a Chairman who later on made a documentary film on Baba Sahib Ambedkar. During this visit, Das Sahib came to Bedford where he was interviewed by the BBC Radio, Bedfordshire and Chiltern Radio. I requested the BBC presenter for a copy of his interview. He was kind enough to send me the original recording of his interview.

During the Ambedkar Birth Centenary years, Mr. Das visited UK several times. Most of the time, he stayed with Mr. M.S. Bahal and Mr. C. Gautam as all Centenary Celebration activities were in and around London area. They took him around. He took part in many conferences and seminars. He addressed the gathering at the inaugural function of Ambedkar Birth Centenary at the commonwealth Hall, the Royal Commonwealth Society on 14th April 1990. Again he gave a talk at the Great Hall of Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn on 21st February 1991. As I was a part of the Centenary Celebration Committee, UK, I often met him in every function. During his visits, he always spared some time for us and came to Bedford.

As a President of Dalit Solidarity Programme (DSP), he was invited to give talk in Edinburgh University in Scotland. He gave a presentation by showing a short film narrating the history and present conditions of Dalits. Because of a long distance from Bedford and the paucity of time, he was unable to come to Bedford. Instead late Mr. Chanan Chahal, Mr. Dhanpat Rattu, Mr. Satpal Paul and I went to see him.

Once discussing about globalisation and privatisation, he clarified that our people are more adversely affected than others. He gave an example that our people were employed as sweepers in the municipalities. With this new mantra of privatisation the sweepers were being made redundant. Before this privatisation, they had permanent employment with all benefits of a government employee such as job security, health benefits, holidays, pensions etc. Their children had a scope for education. But now the contractor is a ‘sharma’, ‘verma’ or ‘gupta’ who employ the same people on daily wages with no security of work, no pension, and no health benefit. In this situation, children help their parents to earn their livelihood and drop out from schools. Similarly the people who were engaged in the leather work had also lost out. All benefits are taken by contractors but the work was still done by scheduled castes and tribes. . As contractors are from higher castes good jobs go to higher castes and our people end up with old menial jobs.

Last time I saw him about three four years ago at his Munirka residence at Delhi. Dr. Gurcharn Singh from Delhi was with me. We spent about two hours with him. He enquired about all friends and the movement in the UK. He was as enthusiastic as he used to be about 20-30 years ago. But I could see his failing health.

With his demise, we have lost our guide and mentor. I will always treasure his memories in my heart. He will always be missed but never forgotten. I am attaching his testimony given in the UN in 1983. His vies and facts are as relevant today as they were 27 years ago.
Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com (November 28, 2010)

UNTOUCHABILITY AND THE UNTOUCHABLES

Testimony given by Bhagwan Das, Chairman,
All India Samata Sainik Dal, and Ambedkar Mission society

In the 36th Session of Commission on Human rights Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, held at Geneva in
August 1983
I am grateful to the chairman of the sub-committee for granting me an opportunity to present the case of the Untouchables living in India and the neighbouring countries who came under the influence of Hindu religion and culture. I am giving this testimony on behalf of Secretary General (Dr. Homer A. Jack) World Conference on religion and Peace (WCRP). I also speak on behalf of various Untouchables and Buddhist organisations of India namely All India Samata Sainik Dal (Volunteers for equality) an organisation founded by Dr. Bheem Rao Ambedkar, Indian Buddhist council, Ambedkar Mission Society. Ambedkar Mission Incorporated (Canada) and Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford, UK.

I take this opportunity to mention here that WCRP in its first conference held at Kyoto, Japan in 1970 discussed the problem of discrimination including the practice of untouchability. In its third conference held at Princeton (USA) the problem of the Untouchables in India and Burakumin of Japan was discussed and mentioned in the declaration. In the Asian Conference of Religion and Peace (II) held at New Delhi the problem of Untouchability and discrimination against the Buddhist converts was taken up and recommendations made in the declaration issued at the end of conference. Human rights Commission of ACRP decided to set up an office at New Delhi and an office is now functioning at New Delhi with the help of the Japanese Committee of WCRP under the title Asian Centre for Human Rights.

Untouchability is a phenomenon peculiar to Hinduism and it is an integral part of their religion. It took birth in India and it’s from India that this abominable practice spread to other religions and countries. No religion in India is free from this contamination; not even those who loudly preach from house tops the fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man.

Hindu society is divided vertically and horizontally on the basis of caste. Christianity and Islam have allowed caste to exist in their society. Lower caste Christians especially in Southern states of India are meted out discriminatory treatment in the matter of burial in the cemeteries, appointment of parishnors, priests etc., and matrimony. Upper caste Christians seldom marry a girl from the lower caste Christians. Islamic society is also modelled on the pattern of Hindu society. It is divide into three or four groups namely ‘Ashraf’ upper caste, Moghuls, Turks Afghans etc., ‘Ajalaf’ converts from upper castes of Hindus and at the lowest rung of ladders sit the lowly ‘Arzal’, butchers, tanners, shoemakers, sweepers. scavengers etc.
Sikhs who claim to be more progressive and egalitarian but unfortunately even they have not been able to keep their society free from caste system and untouchability. Even in a country like Britain they rigidly follow caste system and practise untouchability and discrimination against the Untouchables (Ramdaasia and Mazhbis) living in England. A ‘jat’ Sikh shuns the company of the Untouchables and avoids going to the pubs patronised by the Balmikis and Ravidasis-two untouchable castes of Punjab. An upper caste Sikh (Jat, Khatri, Arora,-trading communities of Punjab never misses an opportunity if he can offend an Untouchable by referring to his caste.


Untouchables in various countries

Nepal

Nepal is predominantly Hindu state and 89% people either return their religion as Hinduism or are registered as Hindus in the census. Barely 7% of the Nepalese are Buddhists. Proselytization is prohibited. Hindu society is divided into as many as 59 castes and several artisan and other castes such as Paura (sweepers and scavengers), Damais (smiths), Sarakis (leather workers) goldsmiths in hilly regions are treated as Untouchables. Even though there is free education, very few among those castes can take the benefit owing to the practice of untouchability. In the Nepalese Panjyat (Panchyat) not more than one or two members of this community can get elected owing to the deep rooted prejudices against these people whose only fault is that perform useful duties. Their exact number is not known because unlike India Nepal census reports don not register caste. Owing to the fear of dominating upper castes Hindus, even Buddhists avoid contact with the Untouchables in Nepal. These communities suffer from numerous disabilities arising from untouchability. So far as I have been able to ascertain they have not been able to organise themselves for struggling against discrimination. Those who can in contact with these people were mulcted by the authorities and only paying the fine and performing some ceremonies they could be readmitted in the society.

Pakistan

Pakistan with 97% of its population owning Islam as their religion is divided into numerous castes, tribes etc., Hindus constitute about 2% of the population and are listed as caste Hindus (296,837) and Scheduled Castes (603,369). Scheduled Castes is the statutory title given under the government of India Act 1935 to the Untouchables. Most of them earn their livelihood as sweepers, scavengers, cobblers, weavers, etc.. Muslims also treat them as Untouchables like Hindus throughout the World. Pakistan also has a Christian population numbering about 908,000. Christians are divided into three groups, Europeans and Anglo-Pakistanis, Eurasians like Goanese, converts from upper castes of Hindus and Muslims and people belonging to upper stratum of society. At the bottom sit the most despised sweepers and scavengers who are known as ‘Christian Punjabis Sweepers’ (CPS). They are the descendents of the members of Chuhra community, traditional sweepers, who embraced Christianity to escape the tyranny of Hinduism and the stigma of untouchability but the partitioning of the country compelled them to revert to the traditional occupation of sweeping and scavenging. Although they are economically better than the rural workers so far as the wages are concerned but they are compelled to live in segregated localities and are treated as untouchables. Like their counterparts in India, CPS are the most despised people in Pakistan. They suffer from numerous disabilities arising from untouchability.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist (population 8,537,000, 67.3%) with Hindu constituting the second largest religious group (2,239,000) divided into clean and unclean castes. Among the Sinhalese, Goyigama is the highest caste and those engaged in occupations like butchers, drum-beaters. Toddy tappers, sweeping, etc. are considered ‘hina jati hina sippi’ people. Discrimination in the matter of marriage is practised among the Sinhalese. Siame Nikaya, a Buddhist sect does not admit the members of the lower castes as Bhikkhus but the other two Nikayas admit men belonging to the lower castes if they desire to join the order. But among the Tamilians, caste system is rigidly followed and untouchability practised in the Jaffana area which is predominantly Hindu (Tamalian). Society is divided into two major groups, namely clean castes and unclean castes. Among the unclean castes are included Palla (potter), Seneer (weaver), Parriyar, Kadaiyan (lime burner), Chikkalyan (leather worker and sweeper), Vunnan (washer man) and Thurumba etc. Upper castes (Vellala, Brahmin, Chetty etc.) treat them as Untouchables. Present conflict has temporarily obliterated the differences but after the trouble has subsided caste feelings revive.

Bangla Desh

Bangla Desh is predominantly Muslim (80%) with 4,926,448 (20%0 Hindus divided into two groups namely caste Hindus (Brahmin, Kayasthas, Baidyas etc.) and Namoshudras, Kaibartas, Hadis, Moschis, etc.). Many of the Muslims are converts from among the Untouchables and Buddhists. Yet discriminatory treatment is meted out to the untouchables in Bangla Desh. Our informants have stated that the Hindus of upper castes are treated as equals but the lower castes are discriminated in the matter of housing, employment etc.

All these countries were part of greater India until 1947 and were influenced by Hindu religion in the matter of rituals and customs.


Untouchability in India

Untouchability has not been defined by the sociologist or the legislators. At the time of discussion on ‘Untouchability Offences Act’ in Parliament when a question was raised about definition, the law minister said, ‘There is no need to define untouchability. Everybody knows it’. He was trying to avoid definition but he was telling the truth that everybody knows whom to avoid, whom to persecute. Untouchability is deeply embedded in the minds of Hindus and regulates their behaviour with other people. Stratification of society and restrictions on inter-marriage between different classes or groups are not unknown in other societies or cultures but to use the words of Dr. G.S. Ghurye, a renowned sociologist, “Hindu system is unique only in this that it alone classified some groups as untouchable and unapproachable.” Other religious groups only copied them. Since Hindus treated the scavengers, sweepers, cobblers, basket makers, weavers etc. as untouchables, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs also treated them as lowly, despised, degraded people. Since untouchability had religious sanction behind it, all efforts made by social reformers failed. Hindus avoided the discussion and foreigners did not want to take up the cause of the untouchables for fear of antagonising the Hindus. They were also taken in by the propaganda carried out by the followers of Gandhiji. Dr. Ambedkar had rightly observed, “The old orthodox Hindu doesn’t think that there is anything wrong in the observance of untouchability. To him it is normal, natural thing. As such it neither calls for expiation nor explanation. The new modern Hindu realises the wrong but he is ashamed to discuss it in public for fear of letting the foreigner know that Hindu civilisation can be guilty of such a vicious and infamous system or social code as evidenced by untouchability.”

Mass conversion of Untouchables to Christianity and Islam and growing importance of number in the politics of India coupled with criticism of Hindu society by Western writers, sociologists, travellers etc., led Hindus to introduce certain changes in their social system. While they wanted to remove untouchability, they did not want Hinduism and caste system to suffer in any way because Hinduism is sustained by caste system. If caste system goes, Hinduism cannot survive for long. On the other hand Hindus have developed a vested interest in Untouchability and caste system. More than 75% population of India is illiterate and people sincerely believe that caste is god-made and there is no hope or scope for change. Any laws made by man are interference in the God’s work. Hindu law makers had made elaborate laws and rules to keep Untouchables in degraded condition perpetually. Economic measures were adopted to perpetuate degradation, segregation and poverty. Laws were framed and strictly enforced to keep them divided, dispirited, poor, ignorant, illiterate and physically weak. They were not allowed to acquire wealth; higher interest was charged on loans; good, wholesome, nutritious food proscribed so that they may not grow strong. Right to bear arms was denied so they may never revolt. Low wages and excessive work was prescribed so they may have no leisure. Identity marks and symbols were prescribed so that even by mistake pure Hindus may not eat ot drink with them. This system was rigidly followed by the Hindus for centuries. Even Muslims did not disturb it. British especially after the sepoy mutiny of 1857 for fear of antagonising the Hindus tried to maintain those laws and enforce them through courts of law.

Progressive Western educated Hindus however felt uneasy and promised to bring about changes after attaining independence. Accordingly provisions were incorporated in the constitution abolishing untouchability and certain ameliorative provisions such as reservation in legislature, services of Union Government and states, educational institutions etc. Untouchables were subjected to some inhuman laws like forced labour in rural area. A provision to abolish slavery of this kind was made in the constitution but the law was enacted in 1976. Millions of Rupees were provided for the economic upliftment of the Untouchables in the Five Year Plans.

In spite of these laws the Untouchables suffer from numerous disabilities especially in smaller towns and villages of India. Untouchables don not have well in thousands of villages and upper caste people do not allow them to dig wells. Untouchables have to beg for water from a distance lest their shadow should pollute the upper caste Hindus. Sometime the water pipes are laid and stopped a few yards short of the Untouchable locality. The present writer struggled for seven years to get a public hydrant installed in a village of Himachal Pradesh while every Minister or even the Chief Minister announced that water had been provided.

If the Untouchables demand higher wages in villages, the caste Hindus pour filth or kerosene in the wells so as to starve them of water. Untouchability is widely practised. A mild and harmless law which was neither educative nor awarded deterrent punishment was enacted in 1955 under the title ‘Untouchable Offences Act, 1955’. This proved to be ineffective. This law was amended and passed as Protection of Civil Liberties Act 1976 containing a provision of minimum punishment. Owing to illiteracy of Untouchables majority of whom live in the rural areas, very few cases are reported and a very small number reaches the courts of law. Untouchability in worst form is practised in the Hindi region but the largest number of cases is registered in the state where the Scheduled castes people are awakened and better organised.

Of all the countries where untouchability is practised India has the best of laws and the most generous provisions in her constitution. British had introduced quota system with a view to giving share in administration to all religious groups and other minorities. Untouchables were however denied a share on the plea that there were no educated men available. Through the efforts of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar undisputed leader of the Untouchables ‘reservation in services’ was introduced in respect of the Untouchables also in 1943 during the vicerolty of Lord Linlithgow. Later o provision was made in respect of the Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes but reservation in favour of other minorities was abolished. During the early years there was little resistance because very few qualified people were available to fill up the reserved seats. Resistance was offered by non-implementation of government orders, or by declaring that suitable candidate was not available or if available ‘not found suitable’ and also through courts of law by filing writ petition. Since 1974 organise resistance is being offered by the upper caste employees who have enjoying monopoly of all government jobs. Private sector does not employ the Scheduled Caste people, excepting in the lowly, low paid and degrading situations. Table below gives some idea of the success in the part of the opponents of the reservation:

Quota Reserved

15%

Reservation given in

Class 1 = 4.95% Class 11 = 8.54%
Class 111=13.44% Class 1V = 19.46%

Discriminatory treatment is being meted out to the Scheduled Caste people in the matter of recognition of their unions on the plea that it is the policy of the government that ‘communal’ organisations of employees will not be recognised. On the other hand organisations of the Hindu employees who are opposed to the reservation have the support and blessing of administration as well as the political parties, especially of those who have their base among the middle classes of Hindus.

Scheduled Castes (statutory title of the Untouchables) is an artificially created minority under the constitution. Names of castes can be deleted or added by the president. Pressure is mounting now through press to delete the names of more awakened and better organised castes. Majority of the Untouchables (about 76%) live in 568,000 villages of India. In some places they are allotted land by the government. Dr. Ambedkar demanded nationalisation of land with collectivisation of allotment on cooperative basis. The government favoured the creation of small holdings and peasant proprietors. Fragmentation of land is non-productive but the untouchable farmers who never owned land because of the laws prohibiting possession of land in some states desire to own land. The landholding dominating upper castes do everything possible in their means to obstruct distribution of land. Even if land is allotted, the upper caste landlords do not allow the Untouchables to take the fruit of their labour. If Untouchables demand higher wages or even the minimum wages prescribed by the Government, the upper caste landlords indulge in murders, torture, arson. Rape etc. to terrorise the poor ignorant untouchables. Thousands of men are employed as bonded labourers and kept away from the cities, police etc. Hundreds of women are forced into superstition by exploiting their ignorance, poverty and superstitious beliefs and sold into the brothels of Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Kanpur and Delhi.

Untouchables are becoming increasingly convinced that the Hindus hate them not because they perform unpleasant duties but because their religion teaches them to hate certain castes. Many embraced Christianity and Islam. Dr. Ambedkar who saw no hope of Hinduism reforming itself exhorted his people to renounce Hinduism and embrace Buddhism which he had revived in 1956. Millions of people responded to his call and embraced Buddhism. Government of India immediately issued order that if an Untouchable renounce Hinduism and embrace any religion other than Sikhism he will become disentitled to concessions and grants allowed to the Scheduled Castes. When a few hundred Untouchables in Madras embraced Islam because the Hindus harassed and humiliated them and did not allow them even to wear shoes or loin cloth which went below the knee cap, Hindu militant organisations turned riotous and burnt the huts of Untouchables and molested their women. Even Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi forgetting that she was the head of a secular government showed concern and delivered speeches discouraging the conversion of Untouchables. Some states have enacted laws making conversion difficult. Those renouncing Hinduism have to obtain a certificate from the Magistrate that the person desiring conversion to Islam or Christianity is doing it voluntarily. Police is dominated by the upper landholding castes of Hindus and is generally hostile towards the Untouchables. Indian Penal code contains certain provisions under which police have power to arrest and detain a person if he has no ostentatious means of livelihood. This in a country where majority of the people have no employment, house or shelter of any kind. Police abuses its powers especially against the Untouchables and many people are killed or incapacitated through torture in police custody.

Hinduism have closed the doors of armed forces to the Untouchables for ever. Untouchables were admitted to the armed forces of Islam after embracing Islam which many did. During early decades of their rule, British recruited Untouchables in their armies but after sometime they began to close the doors especially in central India and Bengal under pressure from the high castes of Hindus. They introduced the pernicious theory of ‘martial races and non-martial races’. Later on they disbanded the Untouchable armies and raise class regiments recruiting men belonging to upper castes. Indian government has not completely abolished the class regiments and has officially removed the ban on recruitment. But Government have not taken any measure to change the mode of recruitment. Recruiting officers, mostly belonging to peasant castes owing to to deep rooted prejudices based on caste and their medical; officers invariably ask a man’s caste and reject him on medical grounds. Untouchables have little share in army (0.44% in officers cadre and 10.62% in other ranks), 7.63% in other ranks of navy and 0.156% in officers cadre and 2.568% in other ranks.

Untouchables have the equal right to vote and contest elections. 79 seats are reserved in the House of the People (Lok Sabha) out of the total number of 542. Out of a total strength of 3997 members in the state legislatures and Union Territories 540 belong to the Scheduled Castes. On paper the number appears to be very impressive but owing to the election system of the country it is the majority community which elects the representatives of the candidates. In the rural areas the Untouchables can not exercise their right to vote freely and independently. Very often police protection has to be provided. After the election heavy price has to be paid tb the Untouchables if the members of higher castes owning land feel that they did not get the support of the support of the Untouchables.

Violation in Villages

Scheduled castes in the rural areas demand land, better wages, right to wear dress according to their liking, assert the rights granted under the constitution. Hindus on the hand want to maintain status quo in all fields. Tensions arise and often result in confrontation. Landlords have raised armies of trained men released from army and police to terrorise the Untouchables landless labourers. Police protects the strong against the poor. Government through its machinery and religious policies strengthens casteism and superstition because it helps the ruling classes. Leaders of struggle are picked up and either involved in false criminal cases or murdered by the police in encounters. Men, women and children have been massacred and burnt alive whenever they put up resistance against oppression. Men have been killed for offering Ganges water in a shrine. A man was killed in Aligarh (UP) for affixing the word Chauhan to his name. Women’s toes were crushed for wearing rings. Man was killed for twirling moustaches. In Meenakshipuram where mass conversion to Islam took place, men were not allowed to sit beside the upper caste men in the state buses, nor allowed to walk through the streets; women were punished for wearing sandals. In Kafalta 11 persons were done to death for crime of riding a horse in marriage procession and for using palanquin. The incidents of violence in the villages have been showing an upward trend for the last five years:

Year No. of incidents of atrocities
1976 6197
1977 10,879
1978 15,055
1979 15,070
1980 13,341

Recent figures are not available but the Home Minister Mr. N.R. Laskar during the last session stated that the number was showing an increase but during the Monsoon session of last week, he said that number of incidents has fallen considerably. Figures furnished by the Government do not represent the fact. These represent only a tip of the iceberg because many of the cases remain unreported. Untouchables feel very insecure owing to the growing resentment against the declared policies and programmes of the government which are very rarely accompanied by implementation. Bureaucracy is being blamed for non-implementation but is the government which lacks the political will to take action against those who flout the government authority.

This weakness is evident from the fact that even a simple and harmless demand by the Scheduled caste legislators in the Parliament to have a portrait installed in the Central Hall of Parliament where Dr. Ambedkar played a very important and historical role both as a member of the Executive Councillor in the Viceroys Executive Council (1942-46) and as first Law Minister and Chairman of the Constitution Drafting committee (1947-51). Government have been resisting this demand on some pretext or the other. Similarly in recognition of the great services rendered by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the field of education a unanimous decision was taken in the Maharashtra Assembly to change the name of Marathawada University to Ambedkar University. This university came into existence chiefly owing to the establishment of three colleges by Dr. Ambedkar in the most backward region of Marathawada of Maharashtra. Orthodox Hindus in the region felt offended and instigated the illiterate and ignorant villagers that now ‘Ambedkar’ an Untouchable will enter your houses in the form of degrees and diploma certificates and you will have to repeat his name. As a result many houses of Buddhist converts were looted. Women molested, old men insulted, buildings demolished or set on fire and some people killed. Hundreds of men were forced to leave their villages and seek shelter in the towns, railway platforms, footpaths etc. Government could not implement its decision and the oppressor won the field. Untouchables and Buddhists continue the agitation with unshaken determination.

In spite of the that Indian Constitution has the most liberal provision, Government have failed to implement its own declared programmes and policies for the removal of untouchability and upliftment of the deprived and disadvantaged section of society. Prejudices can not be removed merely through legislation. Religious policy of the government is discriminatory and is based in favour of Hinduism and Sikhism and prejudicial to the religions like Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. Government in accord with the wishes of the orthodox Hindus has used coercive measures to check the conversion of Untouchables to Buddhism lest they should unite and organise themselves for struggle. Present policy of the government appears to be based on the tenets of Hinduism. Methods may have changed but the aim of the Hindu law makers and religious leaders have not changed. Anything which the untouchables consider good for then is vehemently resisted and opposed. Whatever goes to make them week, dispirited, disunited and dependent is encouraged.

Proposals

1. A commission should be set up to investigate and submit a report on the practice of Untouchability in the countries wherever it is practised.
2. Action should be taken against countries and institutions who encourage this practice an the name of religion and custom.
3. Government should be asked to eliminate discrimination against the despised and segregated groups in the matter of freedom of religion.
4. To set up a commission to monitor the activities of government and religious groups in the countries where untouchability is practised.
5. Governments of the countries where the Hindus and Sikhs have migrated and practise untouchability and discrimination against the Untouchables should be approached to enact laws to discourage this practice.
6. A separate office should be set up to receive cases of untouchability and disability and the states concerned should be asked to report what measures they have taken to eliminate discrimination in their respective countries. Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com (November 28, 2010)

GLOWING TRIBUTES
PAID TO LATE CHANAN CHAHAL
Arun kumar

Last year on 7th August, one of the prominent exponents of Ambedkarite movement, Mr. Chanan Chahal left us for ever. In his memory a function was organised to pay him tributes on 5th September 2010 at Brickllin Community Centre, Wolverhampton. Six members of Sangha plus large numbers of close his friends, associates and his family members from North Wales, Scotland, Bedford, Birmingham, London and other cities were present in this memorial gathering.

Programme started with lighting the candle by Mrs. Nirmal Chahal, wife of late Chanan Chahal and by giving five precepts by most Ven. Phramaha Samboon Siddhiyano

Speaking on the contribution of Chanan Chahal to the Ambedkar movement in particular and to the society as a whole, Mr. Arun Kumar stated that he started his social work from Bedford. First he established Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha, Bedford and later on Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford. He was one of the founding members of the Federation of Ambedkarite & Buddhist Organisations, UK and Punjab Buddhist Society, UK. He played a major part in establishing Takshilla Maha Buddha Vihara, Ludhiana. Late Mr. Chanan Chahal worked all his life for the cause of unprivileged people and travelled all over the World to spread Ambedkarite and Buddhist thought. He attended many seminars, conferences and other functions to highlight the problem of downtrodden people of India. He will always be remembered. Giving introduction about the film ' A Cherished memories of Chanan Chahal,’ he said that that was a small tribute to a great man. His contribution is a larger than life which can not be depicted in a short film. He requested everybody to provide visual and written material on Chanan so that a proper film is made. This film was made by Arun Kumar and Mr. Pirthi Kaeley from Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford. Mr. Kaeley worked very hard and made such a great film in short period of time. By doing this, in actual fact he has preserved the history of Ambedkar movement in the UK. Everybody appreciated this film.

A message from his Mr. Harmesh Jassal from Punjab was read in which he mentioned that Chanan was a self made man who dedicated whole of his to the Ambedkar mission.

Describing his experiences and association with Chanan, Mr. C. Gautam said that Chanan Chahal as a President of Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations, UK took Baba Sahib’s mission to great height which must be maintained. His last work ‘Evil of Caste’ will be helpful to the researchers. Nobody will be able to take his place. A great vacuum has been created which can never be fulfilled. Remembering Chanan, one of his close friends, Mr. Chaman Chahal termed him a true and dependable friend who always stood by whatever he committed to do. He told that most of the time they travelled together. On this occasion, he sang a very emotional song.

Mr. Jassal, Mr. Harbans Virdee, Mr. Balwant Saroya, Mr. Manohar Birdi, Mr. Rattan Lal Sampla and many others also paid warm tributes to late Chanan Chahal.

Thanking everybody for attending the function, Mr. Ram Pal Rahi, President Punjab Buddhist Society, UK stated that Chanan has left a legacy to work hard for the mission. Everybody must rededicate to work wholeheartedly like Chanan. That will be the biggest tribute to him. He also said that to keep his memory alive two books, ‘Pritam Kav’ by late Pritam Ramdaspuri and ‘Soch NU Sijda’ by Sohan Sehjal are dedicated to our late friend Chanan.

Function closed with the Dhamma Talk by Ven. Chander Bodhi and Blessings by Most Ven. Sangha. Mr C. Gautam and Mr. Arun Kumar conducted the programme very effectively.
A photo exhibition on the life of Mr. Chanan Chahal was also displayed
Posted on September 14, 2010

DOCO HIGHLIGHTS HIDDEN CASTE DISCRIMINATION

By Bernadette Rae
1:39 PM Saturday Jul 17, 2010 http://www.nzherald.co.nz/

Mandrika
Rupa.
Photo /
Martin
Sykes.

The world has long turned a blind eye to the planet's most monumental abuse of individual human rights perpetrated in India by its caste system. Murders, rapes and arson are frequently committed there with no fear of punishment because the crimes are only against Dalits, or "Untouchables".
The world also rarely stops to question the fact that in the largest of all "democracies", 75 per cent of top government positions are filled by Brahmins, the caste at the apex of India's strictly hierarchical social order.
Casteism was made illegal in India's constitution, in 1949. But in practice it remains firmly and often violently entrenched. Now it is being exported to the West.

Even in egalitarian New Zealand, the discriminatory practices of ancient India are flourishing and there are people here whose lives are blighted daily by the Dalit/Untouchable label. "The Indian community is my community, I am part of it, I live in it - and I see it," says Mandrika Rupa, film-maker turned political and social commentator.

Her latest work, Hidden Apartheid: A Report on Caste Discrimination, is a 70-minute documentary, five years in the making and featuring research done in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand as well as her native India.
It will have its first showing tomorrow at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London, before an audience of interviewees in the film, groups such as Castewatch UK and other anti-caste advocates, human rights organisations and politicians who have been working on England's Single Equality Bill.
Those fighting casteism in Britain hope that the bill will eventually include caste as a category alongside gender, race, sex and disability.
Rupa, a former social worker both in New Zealand and Britain, has seen casteism at work in shops, places of worship, institutions of all kinds and in politics, eating places and universities in the west.

"Arranged marriages which are epitomised by caste identity are still the norm," she says. "Just look at the advertisements for marriage partners."
She recently observed two women in an Indian emporium in Auckland being asked their caste and then being treated off-handedly and offered only inferior goods by the shop assistant. Rupa intervened.

"Or an Indian woman working in a bank might be promoted to supervisor, on merit, only to find other workers who consider themselves of superior cast refusing to operate under her," she says.

Recently on a film set in New Zealand, an Indian actress brought her own "girl servant" and was physically abusing her. The New Zealand crew witnessing this were traumatised and did not know how to intervene. The film documents ongoing caste conflicts throughout the West and highlights the struggle of those fighting it. Although caste-based discrimination is being challenged in Britain through legislation, there are no such moves in New Zealand, Australia or the United States.

The documentary also examines in lucid detail how caste originated in Indian society, how it became entrenched in social practices and how its practice has spread to all large Indian communities in the West, while remaining invisible to those outside those communities.

It highlights how the Manu Smriti, the legal text of ancient India written by Brahmin scholars thousands of years ago, is still viewed as God's own word, and quoted to justify Brahmin superiority and ownership. It discusses the impact of karma, a concept used to explain a poor situation in life as the result of misdeeds in a previous existence. "According to Manu all women are 'Untouchables'," says Rupa. "So the traditional laws of India control women as well as poor people and these vicious social codes are having a resurgence today, under the name of culture, even though they are often illegal."

After its London debut, Hidden Apartheid, directed and produced by Rupa with New Zealand company Attar Films, will be shown on the international film festival circuit and at a private showing in New York, before being released for commercial distribution.

There are no immediate plans for its screening in New Zealand but more information and a trailer can be found at www.hiddenapartheid-themovie.com.
By Bernadette Rae
1. Indian films jump the great divide
Be part of the news. Send pics, video and tips to nzherald.

Courtesy: Forwarded by Arun Kumar from UK Posted on July 18, 2010

BABA SAHIB DR. AMBEDKAR'S BIRTH DAY CELEBRATION

My final word of advice to you is Educate, Organize and Agitate, have faith in yourself. With justice on our side, I do not see how we can lose battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For our’s is battle not for wealth or for power. It is battle for the reclamation of the human personality. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha, Bedford, Bhagwan Valmik Sabha, Bedford and Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford have jointly arranged a function to commemorate the 119th birth anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar on Sunday, 9TH May, 2010 from 2pm to 5pm.

Speakers: Various activists are invited to speak on the life and contribution of Dr. Ambedkar.

Venue: Sri Guru Ravidass Community Centre (Function Hall) Guru Ravidass Lane, Ashburnham Road, Bedford. MK40 1ED Tel 01234 359681

Entertainment: Gurmail Singh & Amrik Palahi (FOOD WILL BE SERVED ALL ARE WELCOME)

SRI GURU RAVIDASS SABHA, BEDFORD, BHAGWAN VALMIK SABHA, BEDFORD,
DR. AMBEDKAR MISSION SOCIETY, BEDFORD

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: Sat Paul, 07814471324, Sam Kalyan 01234 401226, Arun Kumar, 01234 312976,

Dear Editor,
I take an opportunity to inform you that Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford, Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha, Bedford and Bhagwan Vakmik Sabha Bedford have jointly arranged a function to commemorate the 119th birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on Sunday, 9th May, 2010 from 2pm to 5pm at Sri Guru Ravidass Community Centre (Function Hall), Guru Ravidass Lane, Ashburnham Rod Bedford, MK42 1ED. Tel 01234 359681

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was a great crusader for social justice, champion of human rights and the father of the Indian constitution. He was a true democrat and enshrined four pillars of democracy, equality, liberty, fraternity and equal justice in the constitution. He will always be remembered for his contribution to improve the conditions of the down trodden and give equal status to the people who were considered low and inferior under the caste hierarchy. Today millions of people all over the World are getting inspiration from his ideals and fighting against discrimination based on gender, caste, colour, birth, age race and religion.

Caste is no more an Indian problem. It has become a global phenomenon. It has spread to the other parts of the World wherever the people from Indian sub continent have moved. Even the Western democratic countries like Great Britain are infested with this disease. That is why the victims of caste discrimination had been lobbying the British government to include this in the Equality Bill. The government has supported the amendment and agreed to incorporate it in the Bill. For this purpose, the Government has commissioned more research to find out the extent of caste discrimination. Ambedkar Birth Anniversary is an appropriate occasion to discuss caste discrimination and its consequences in modern times and work to eradicate all sorts of prejudices. To find ways and means to work towards creating a fair society based on equality liberty and fraternity will be a great tribute to Dr. Ambedkar.

Everybody is welcome to participate in this function. Free vegetarian food will be served with the courtesy of Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha, Bedford.
Yours Sincerely,

Jai Gurudev Ji,
This is video made by Austria Government after the Vienna attack .
http://tvthek.orf.at/programs/1366-Orientierung/episodes/1269265-Orientierung/1269457-Ankunft-in-der----Stretch-Limo-----Neues-heiliges-Buch-der-indischen-Ravidasis
Forwarded by Ravinder Birdi and posted at www.ambedkartimes.com on Apr 1, 2010
UK BILL LINKS CASTE TO RACE, INDIA RED-FACED
 

Times of India
UK BILL LINKS CASTE TO RACE, INDIA RED-FACED
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/UK-bill-links-caste-to-race-India-red-faced/articleshow/5745108.cms
Manoj Mitta, TNN, Mar 31, 2010, 04.17am IST


NEW DELHI:
In the first such legislative move anywhere in the world, and much to the embarrassment of India's official position, the British House of Lords has passed a law that treats caste as "an aspect of race".

On March 24, the House of Lords passed the Equality Bill empowering the British government to include "caste" within the definition of "race". This threatens India's much-touted success in keeping caste out of the resolution adopted at the 2001 Durban conference on racism. The provision to outlaw caste discrimination in Britain came in the form of an amendment made by the Lords as a result of intensive lobbying by Dalit groups, including followers of Ravidass sect who had suffered a violent attack last year in Austria.

The bill will become a law after the House of Commons passes it. The legislation draws its legitimacy from a recommendation made in 2002 by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) that all member states of the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), including India and the UK, should enact domestic legislation declaring that descent-based discrimination encompassed caste and "analogous systems of inherited status".

This development comes at a time when the Manmohan Singh government is already under pressure before the UN Human Rights Council as the draft principles and guidelines issued by it last year on discrimination based on work and descent recognized caste as a factor. The British legislation may provide impetus for the adoption of those draft principles and guidelines.

Though the bill originally contained no reference to caste, the Gordon Brown government agreed to its inclusion even as it commissioned a research on the nature of the problem that is believed to have come into Britain through the Indian Diaspora. A parliamentary committee, while recommending last year that caste be considered as a subset of race, cited specific instances of caste discrimination in Britain.

In one such case, a qualified Dalit working in the National Health Service suddenly suffered discrimination at the hands of his supervisor soon after the latter discovered his "low caste" status. The Dalit employee was reportedly harassed and suspended from work for a whole year. While a trade union managed to obtain compensation for him, the case highlighted a lacuna in the law to deal with caste discrimination. The Gordon Brown government accepted the amendment tabled by Liberal Democrats subject to the outcome of the research ordered by it on caste discrimination. Baroness Thornton, speaking for the government, told the peers, "We have looked for evidence of caste discrimination and we now think that evidence may exist, which is why we have now commissioned the research."

Lord Amesbury, who had tabled the amendment, said he believed that the research would "conclusively prove that caste discrimination does occur in the fields covered by the bill". India's opposition to the linking of caste with race began in 1996, when it tried to free itself of "reporting obligation" under CERD, saying that caste, though perpetuated through descent, was "not based on race".
This is a drastic departure from the position originally taken by India in 1965 while proposing the historic amendment to introduce descent in CERD. It had actually cited its experience with caste as an argument for recognizing all forms of descent-based discrimination.

Zee News Forwarded by Mr. Arun Kumar UK Posted on March 31, 2010

DALIT WRITERS-UNTOUCHABLE PREJUDICE

Untouchable, maybe. But no longer unread.
Omprakash Valmiki, born into India's lowest social group,
the Dalits -- known widely as "untouchables" -- says he was the first member of his family to "ever see the inside of a school building."

For 40 years he has worked for the Ministry of Defense in Dehradun -- but by night the bureaucrat was doggedly composing poems and fiction. And when Mr. Valmiki came to the 2010 Jaipur Literary Festival to participate in a series of panels meant to recognize the importance of so-called Dalit literature, he drew larger crowds than many of the internationally known authors there. He was mobbed for autographs, and his works -- which include the Hindi-language autobiographical novel "Joothan: A Dalit's Life," published in English translation in the U.S. by Columbia University Press -- were among the first to sell out at the festival bookshop. (The English translation also appears with the subtitle "An Untouchable' s Life.")

"What we're doing is creating a new history of India that's not in the textbooks," the soft-spoken, bespectacled 60-year-old says of the growing movement of Dalit writers. "To support their superiority, the majority invokes so many ancient myths. So we must create myths of our own."

The results are striking a popular chord -- far beyond a community that is mostly illiterate -- with readers both in India and abroad. Recent hits include "Untouchables: My Family's Triumphant Journey Out of the Caste System in Modern India," by Narendra Jadhav, who rose from poverty to become vice chancellor of the University of Pune; it was published in the West by the University of California Press.

"Not only have their books attracted a mass audience, but they are profoundly impacting the political landscape," says Christophe Jaffrelot, director of France's Center for International Studies and Research and an authority on the Dalits. He points to Mayawati Kumar, a Dalit who has become chief minister of India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, as leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Prof. Jaffrelot says the wide appeal of Dalit works lies in their being "very personal and intimate, dealing with the inner world of an individual in conflict with how society views them," while the work of Brahmin writers can come off as remote and abstract.

"We are drawing on a body of practical experience that we've gained through all the things we have made, the crafts, the carving, the carpentry, the textiles," says Mr. Valmiki. "Very little that you see in India was made by Brahmins -- and everything carries the touch of those they call untouchable. "

Direct protest is the message of much Dalit literature. In one poem, Mr. Valmiki cries out, "What would you do? /If you/ Have to swim against the current/ To open the doors of pain/ And do battle with hunger/ If you/ Are denied in your own land/ Made slave labor/Stripped of your rights/ The pages of your glorious history/Torn to shreds/And thrown away/What would you do?"

The most outspoken, and political, of the Dalit writers is Kancha Ilaiah, whose 1996 manifesto "Why I Am Not A Hindu" made him the target of death threats. Given to provocative claims like "while the Greeks were producing Plato and Aristotle, all the Hindus created was the Kama Sutra -- a book that teaches what the animals already know," Mr. Ilaiah argues that a caste system like that of Hinduism is "spiritual fascism" that can't survive in these global times. (Millions of Dalits are estimated to have converted, mostly to Buddhism, but also to Islam and the appeals of Christian missionaries. )

Mr. Ilaiah, 57, credits Dalit creative writers with "building a new image for ourselves" much as pioneering African-American writers did for a people so recently enslaved. "In ending our 3,000-year slavery, the greatest vehicle for our liberation has been the English language."

Access to English-language schools has been a major advance for Dalits, though the group continues to suffer severe discrimination -- including in education -- more than 60 years after caste divisions were outlawed by India's constitution. (That founding document is the work of B.R. Ambedkar, an untouchable with degrees from Columbia who is viewed as the group's heroic role model.)

"How can we take the constitution seriously?" asks Mr. Valmiki. "There are still at least 1.3 million of us condemned to a scavenger class sent out each day to collect human feces -- and their main employer is the Indian government."

"Though we may be one-quarter of the population," says P. Sivakami, a leading feminist voice among Dalits, "we are rarely represented in the mainstream media, in television or movies. In the past, we've only carried names like 'baby,' been portrayed as drunks or sexually lascivious, grateful to get molested by a master."

While she worked for years as a senior civil servant, including a stretch with the Indian tourist office in Tokyo, Ms. Sivakami says she always "wanted to be a creative writer...the most noble job, where words can generate consciousness. " In 1988 she produced her first novel, "Grip of Change," which was also the first Dalit novel written in Tamil. (Translated by the author, it was published in English in 2006.)

"It's not easy when nothing prepares you for the situation of your own inferiority, " says Ms. Sivakami, one of 13 offspring of an illiterate mother and a father who had only a third-grade education -- but who rose to become a local legislator. Ms. Sivakami left the civil service in 2008 to enter politics and last month established the Party for Social Equity, plumping for everything from tribal to transgender rights. "The caste system," she says, "is a kind of evil spirit that has to be fought off."

In the fight, there are new allies such as young S. Anand, who in 2003 founded Navayana, a publishing house whose books deal with "caste from an anticaste perspective, " and include many by Dalit writers.

Mr. Ilaiah believes there will be more writers to come. "We have already had our Martin Luther King," he says, referring to Ambedkar, author of the constitution. "But we've yet to bring forth our Obama."

This article forwarded by Mr. Arun Kumar UK (Posted on March 01, 2010)
http://online. wsj.com/article/ SB12670336010875 1027.

Joint Statement by organisations listed overleaf calling on the Government
to provide protection for victims and future victims of Caste Discrimination in the UK.

Over 200 years ago William Wilberforce described what he called “the cruel shackles” of the Caste system as, “a detestable expedient ... a system at war with truth and nature”. On 8 October 2009, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, issued a strong call to end Caste Discrimination “the time has come to eradicate the shameful concept of Caste” and calling on the international community to come together “as it did when it helped put an end to apartheid”. The Caste system has been imported into the UK with the Asian Diaspora and the associated Caste Discrimination affects citizens in ways beyond personal choices and social interaction and occurs in employment, education and in the provision of goods, facilities and services. At present, if someone is discriminated against or harassed because of their Caste in places of employment, education or if they are in receipt of public services like health and social care for example, there is no legislation in place in the UK to protect them. This lack of legal protection and prevention of Caste-based Discrimination is not consistent with other forms of legal protection against Discrimination in the UK

Evidence of Caste Discrimination in the form of case studies and testimonies have been presented to Government by a number of organisations since 2004 in the UK including the Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance (ACDA), Dalit Solidarity Network UK, CasteWatchUK, the Federation of Ambedkarites and Buddhists Organisations UK, Voice of Dalit International, British Asian Christian Council, Shri Guru Valmik Sabha International, Central Valmik Sabha International and the Association for Community Cohesion. More recently, the report `Hidden Apartheid – Voice of the Community – Caste and Caste Discrimination in the UK’ November 2009 by the ACDA in collaboration with Professor Stephen Whittle OBE , Professor of Equalities Law University of Manchester and Dr Roger Green, Centre for Community Research, University of Hertfordshire has
been presented to Government. This study in which over 300 people participated provides the clear evidence that is required by Government.

If Caste Discrimination is not treated in the same way as other forms of unacceptable discrimination in the UK, it will continue to flourish because it will have been left unchecked. In the long term this would hinder the creation of the much fairer and cohesive society to which the Government says it is committed.


We call on the Government to treat Caste Discrimination like it does other forms of unacceptable Discrimination and include an amendment clause in the Equality Bill 2009 to provide protection for victims (or possible victims) of Caste Discrimination in the UK.

11 January 2010

Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance (ACDA)
Anti Slavery International
Association for Community Cohesion (ACC)
British Asian Christian Council
CasteWatchUK (CWUK)
Dalit Solidarity Network UK (DSN UK)
Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK (FABO-UK)
Bhagwan Valmik Sabha, Bedford
Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford
Indian Workers Association (GB)
Asian Rationalist Society, Britain
Anti Land Grab and Forced Displacement of People
Voice of Dalit International UK (VODI-UK)
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha UK (SGRS-UK) and is the voice for all Shri Guru Ravidass Temples in the UK:
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Coventry Shri Guru Ravidass Temple (Foleshill),
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Darlaston, Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha East Ham,
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Bedford, Ravidassia Centre, Hitchin
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Derby Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Birmingham
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Southall Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Leicester
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Luton Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Walsall
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Glasgow Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Wolverhampton
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Strood Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Dartford
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Southampton Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Bradford
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Northampton Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Darlaston
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Hounslow

Posted on January 24, 2010

FEDERATION OF AMBEDKARITE AND BUDDHIST ORGANISATIONS – UK
12, Featherstone Road , Southall, Middlesex , UB2 5AA ,
Tel: 01234312976 Mobile : 07714324223 Email: fabo@ambedkar.orf.uk

Press Release

Response to the report ‘Caste System’ by the HCUK

Single Equality Bill soon to be presented in the Parliament for discussion, is designed to outlaw discriminations based on colour, race, religion, gender and age. Various organisations in the UK are campaigning to include Caste based discrimination into the Single Equality Bill. But the Hindu Council UK produced a report to oppose its inclusion in the bill. The contents of the Hindu Council UK (HCUK) report are nothing but a travesty of facts, misleading and full of inaccuracies. Whenever somebody starts talking about discrimination based on caste, Indians particularly Hindus become defensive and tend to sweep this problem under the carpet and accuse others for giving bad name to India as a whole and to the Hindus particularly. That is exactly what happened with the Hindu Council UK report. Rather than condemning this evil and work to eradicate it, Hindus are cleverly defending it and accusing some of the organisations and individuals for either getting financial aid on the name of caste or converting Dalits to other religions. The report has been produced to exploit and take advantage of British ignorance about Caste origins and its evil practices to divert their attention from including the caste based discrimination in the Single Equality Bill.

India is perhaps the only country where a section of society is considered inherently so low and inferior that their mere touch pollutes others. Consequently they are forced to live outside the villages. Caste has become like a water-tight compartment from which neither anybody is able to escape nor enters into it. One is born into a particular caste; he/she will die in it. There is no way the castes could be exchanged. One born as an Untouchable will die as an Untouchable. It doesn’t matter how much wealth or status one has acquired in life, he/she will be looked down upon with contempt. Because of the religious sanction behind it, Hindus are following the tenets of caste, a graded inequality as a matter of their religious duty. For thousand of years, the notion of high and low, inferior and superior has been ingrained into their psyche. But Dr. Sharma has ascribed the ill-effects of caste discrimination to the British Raj and the various invasions and foreign rules in India , forgetting that the origin of Caste lies in the Hindu scriptures like Rig Veda, Gita, Ramayana & Manu Simiriti, which pre-date all foreign rules.

Caste is an institutionalised social discrimination. It doesn’t exist only in Indian subcontinent but has become a global problem. Unfortunately this evil system has also crept into the British society and is being spread rapidly. People from the Indian sub continent, who live in large numbers in the UK , practice the caste system. Caste is often advertised in the Asian periodicals for matrimonial purposes. Marriages are arranged in their own caste and sometimes they lead to forced marriages. The stigma and pressures attached to inter-caste marriages has given rise to suicidal tendency and other psychological illnesses. Either one or both involved in inter-Caste relationship are often subjected to verbal abuse and violence from other family members. Most of the religious places are cropping up on the caste basis. Caste is glorified in the popular music. CBD takes place by calling names such as ‘Choora’ and ‘Chamar’. These words are as derogatory as somebody calling ‘Neggar’. These names are traditionally associated with scavenging and leather which are considered low and dirty in the Hindu society. Though caste discrimination is wide spread amongst the Asian community, people are not coming forward to tell their stories in case they are looked down upon by others and lose respect. There are many caste Indians who firmly believe that their intelligence is inherited genetically via caste superiority. Caste is very much ‘alive and kicking’ within the Asian Diaspora. But the Hindu Council UK refuses to accept the reality and claim there is no such thing in the UK .

In the Hindu Council UK (HCUK) report, Dr. Sharma has carefully selected a few isolated verses from the Hindu scriptures to justify his argument regarding the division of society. He implies that ‘chaturvarna’, (other name of caste) was not a bad thing at all . Doing this he justifies the division of society based on caste. The author mischieviously overlooked hunderds of verses which condemn Dalits to their lowely status and directs the followers to keep them in that order. The report totally refuses to accept the ground reality and ignores their sufferings being inflicted from

centuries and contradicts respected works done by various human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Anti Slavery Movement, Minority Rights Groups etc.

Because of globalisation and advancement in media, no body is able to hide suppression for a long time. The Hindus, who have been successful in hiding this problem from the outside World for such a long time, today stand naked and exposed. In desperation they have produced an inaccurate and false report to oppose the inclusion of caste based discrimination in the forthcoming Single Equality Bill. If they are sincere in their efforts to oppose caste prejudice, they should be in the forefront for its inclusion in the bill so that this evil doesn’t spread and is nipped in the bud. Instead they have chosen to attack those organisations and individuals who are raising their voice against this menace. Clearly it reflects that they want to keep status quo and are not very keen to eradicate inequality based on caste.

To counter the misinformation and fallacy of their argument Mr. Chanan Chahal’s response Evil of Caste’ is a detailed examination of Hindu Scriptures and every point raised is rebutted and discussed.

The doctrine of Hindu Karma maintains that whatever deeds are done in this life will be rewarded in the next life. Therefore to be saved from inferior rebirth, one has to follow one’s caste dharma (duties). The sacred literature provides ample evidence that respect for caste duty is one’s primary obligation. For instance, a Dalit’s hope of rebirth into higher caste lays in his perfect obedience of his caste duties and accept life time servitude of higher Castes.

The Hindu Council has chosen the path of being economical with truth. If they are a little sympathetic to Dalits and oppose caste discrimination, they should have made a public apology for the historical injustices done to the Dalits. The former British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair has apologised for the British role in Slavery. Sadly, Hindu Council lacks intellectual honesty. Hiding behind a religious sentences or pointing fingers at others does not change the ground reality. Every Hindu has to be open about caste and understand what this has done to Indian culture, history and image and reputation and moreover to 150 million Dalits. Blaming foreigners for caste is nothing new. It is a discredited claim straight from the fundamentalist Hindutva school of thought.

Hindu Council’s deceptive attention is further exposed when they published a fabricated Statement from the Shri Valmik Sabha Southall. It is an unrepresentative view of the community and therefore they are guilty of manipulation. The actual statement from the said organisation has been reproduced in Mr. Chahal’s response for reader’s examination. The desperate attempt exposes HCUK and clearly shows the level they are prepared to go to stop the issue of caste being raised

Asians are making their mark in education, health, social services and industry where they have risen to a place of authority. In their managerial roles, they will be in a position to hire and fire and will be able to exert a lot of influence in matter of recruitment and promotions. That is the area where the Caste prejudice becomes so destructive and Dalits need protection from legal system. That is why there is a need to include caste in the Single Equality Bill.

Arun Kumar
On behalf of Federation of Ambedkarites & Buddhist Organisations, UK

Posted on January 23, 2009

GURU RAVIDASS
AN ADVOCATE OF HUMAN RIGHTS

(Arun Kumar, Bedford , UK )

Guru Ravidass was one of the most celebrated saints of his time. In various states, he was known by different names such as Raidas, Ruhidas, Ruidas, Rohidas, Rohitas, and Ramdas etc. His following was not restricted to a particular place or caste but kings and queens; princes and princesses of various states were also his disciples. It reflects that he had his following all over India from the diverse sections of society. As he was revered by one and all in all over India, it is but natural that he must have written more than forty one hymns contained in the Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib. There is a lot of material scattered here and there in various books which needs to be compiled in one book and made available to the younger generation for their studies. Unfortunately in India a person is not judged from his/her deeds but from his/her birth. Had Guru Ravidass been born in a so called high caste, he would have been worshipped in every Hindu house hold and was equated with the status of their other gods. As he came from an Untouchable family, nobody bothered to record the events in his life and preserve his writings. Now it has become very difficult to find authenticated literature on his life. Whatever the literature is found, it has been camouflaged by Brahmanism full of miracles which one finds difficult to believe.

Commenting upon the miracles attributed to Guru Nanak Dev Ji, in his book ‘Param Manukh’, Gurbaksh Singh Preetlarhi, writes that Guru Nanak is respected and adored today not because of his miracles but because of his teachings to remove miseries of mankind by working against the social evils. Same is true to Sri Guru Ravidass Ji.

Guru Ravidass was born in late 14 th century and died in the late 15 th century. The exact dates of birth and death are not agreed by all historians. In a matter of fact these dates are insignificant to ascertain the importance of his philosophy and actual work he done for the whole of humanity. The dates are only important to know the economic, political and social system of the period in which he had gone through and influenced his life.

During this period a great conflict between Hindus and Muslims were going on. With the invasion of Muslims and indifferent attitude of Hindus, the influence of Buddhism declined drastically. Buddha’s teachings of equality, liberty and toleration disappeared. Hindu society was badly divided into castes. From time immemorial, Hindus were already divided into four castes- priestly caste (Brahmins), warrior class (kshatryas), traders (Vaishya) and servants (Shudras). Theory of Varna dharma Shastra propounded by the Vedas and later on sanctioned by other Hindu scriptures took a firm foothold in the society. But by the medieval period, the fifth caste of Untouchables had already been established. These were the people considered inherently so low and inferior that their mere shadow was polluting caste Hindus. So they were not allowed to walk or sit along caste Hindus. They were not permitted to enter into a temple and prey to God. As the education was provided in the religious places, the doors for religious and any other educational activity were virtually shut for them. Profitable professions were prohibited and they were entrusted with only menial work from where they were not able to earn any profit to improve their lives. Cleaning latrines and work associated with leather were considered dirty and polluting and such professions were assigned to them. Because of this type of hatred by the caste Hindus, the Untouchables were forced to live outside the villages doing menial work and depending upon these exploiting castes.

There is a saying if you want to kill a community, kill their self respect and it will vanish. That was what exactly happened to the lower castes. Whole of the society was riddled with idle worship and false ceremonies and rituals which were further degrading and enslaving the downtrodden and worsening their economic well being. If somebody dared to cross over to the task which was not prescribed to their caste was punished severely. Even in Ramayana, a Dalit Shambuk was beheaded by Rama himself for defying the code of caste as he started worshiping God. Similarly in Mahabharata the right hand thumb of Eklavya was cut as he was indulging in archery which was the profession of warrior caste. 

These were the conditions when Guru Ravidass was born. He not only witnessed the social system very closely but was also a victim of this cruel system as well. He was greatly influenced by such environment. He was touched by inhuman conditions of his people. His conscious did not allow him to flow with tide. Right from his childhood, he started to feel a craving for equality and began to rebel against the prevailing social system. He wanted to do something and didn’t want to be a silent spectator. He endeavored to bring consciousness amongst his people and encourage them to fight for equality. He also wanted to change the mind set of caste Hindus so that they start treating the unprivileged people as par with others.

Brahmins were the custodians of Hindu religion and regulating the society. To demolish the hold of Brahmins, Guru Ravidass started challenging them by imitating their life styles. First thing he did was to dress like Brahmins and began worshiping God. He stated that God is not somebody’s property. He started condemning idle worship instead he worshiped his tools of work. He dressed like them not because he believed in their philosophy but to show that an untouchable has the same right of worship and dress as others. Outraged by the violation of caste duties, Hindus complained against him to the king. The king summoned him to the court and asked for his explanation about his views on idle worship. He stated that his piece of stone where he mended shoes for his family’s livelihood was more useful than their stone idles. Service of mankind irrespective of their caste is more important than indulging in rituals and ceremonies. When asked about his defiance to wear dress and sacred thread, he made a small cut to his shoulder. Pointing at the flow of blood, he advocated that if his blood was not different from others, then how come he was different. Clothes, dresses, rituals and ceremonies were all man made not by God. If God didn’t create an untouchable different from others, why he was treated differently? He told the king that he always wore the sacred thread of truthfulness, honesty, equality, liberty, fraternity and equal justice. The false philosophy of Brahmanism got exposed. Convinced by his argument, the king let him free and himself started following his path of truthfulness. Clearly Guru Ravidass advocated freedom to profess any religion, freedom of speech and freedom of choice to wear clothing of one’s choice. Freedom is everybody’s birth right and he/she should not be stopped to enjoy it.

Encouraged by the outcome of the court case, Guru Ravidass began spreading the message of love and peace more vigorously and people were following him everywhere he went. Following his popularity, Hindu priests wanted to discredit him by giving him bribe. They offered him a philosopher’s stone (Paras which turns everything to gold when touched) telling him that they didn’t want to see him a poor person. But Guru Ravidass declined their offer. Even then they left that stone with him. After sometimes they came to see if Guru Ravidass had taken that stone or not. But to their astonishment, Guru Ravidass was still mending shoes and living in that hut. Enquiring about his poverty and cause of not taking the philosopher’s stone, Guru Ravidass explained that he believed in the dignity of labour. Instead of depending upon others, he advocated self reliance by self help. No work was good or bad. It was the people who made them so. He preferred to earn his livelihood by fair and honest means rather than indulging in nefarious activities as the Brahmins were doing. Similarly when Dr. Ambedkar was offered millions of Rupees by various religious leaders and asked him to convert to their religions, he flatly refused to accept their offer and told them, “Our struggle is not for wealth or for power. Our struggle is for freedom. Our’s is a struggle for the reclamation of Human personality’.

Guru Ravidass reminded people that they should know that nobody loves a slave. He termed slavery as a sin. He tried to awaken them and make them realize about the cause of their sufferings. They were suffering not because of their past deeds but because they were forced to lead a life of slaves. Guru Ravidass knew that self realization always leads to change. That was the only way to remove the stigma of Untouchability which was another name of slavery.

Self realization comes through education. Guru Ravidass firmly believed that without education one’s faculty of rational thinking is lost. To make right decisions education is must. He advised his followers to gain education if they want to progress in their lives. That is why Dr. Ambedkar declared that education is the only key to success and progress.

Guru Ravidass was not only fighting for the rights of his people but also developed a philosophy of a welfare state. Marx propounded such theory of socialism only in the late19th century and most of the underdeveloped countries tried to establish socialism. Even the capitalist countries did not escape from this philosophy and started working towards creating welfare states by providing people with health care facilities and adequately housing the homeless. Guru Ravidass wanted to establish such society in the medieval period. In one of his hymns, he talks about Begumpura meaning a state where all people live happily without sufferings. Everybody has a house to live in and food to eat. They are not burdened with heavy taxes. In that very state, there is nobody high and low, rich and poor and everybody lives in peace and harmony with equal rights. It shows that Guru Ravidass was a philosopher with a vision to reform the society based on the socialistic pattern.

In actual fact, Guru Ravidass’ whole life is a manifestation of struggle to gain the basic human rights of equality, liberty and fraternity and equal justice. He lived and suffered at the hands of high castes to set up a fare society and also died for the suppressed people so that they were able to live with dignity. Now we will have to see whether the dream of Guru Ravidass is fulfilled. In spite of many centuries have passed by, the Dalits are facing the same fate. Though many laws and regulations have been enacted to remove the caste discriminations, the conditions of Dalits have remained same. A recent study conducted by Dr. Sukhdeo Thorat, Chairman, University Grants Commission, government of India, on the status of Dalits especially on the prevalence of Untouchability practices in the rural India, covering 565 villages in 11 States, found that

Public health workers refused to visit Dalit homes in 33% of villages, Dalits were prevented from entering police stations in 27.6% of villages, Dalit children had to sit separately while eating in 37.8% of government schools, Dalits did not get mail delivered to their homes in 23.5% of villages, Dalits were denied access to water sources in 48.4% of villages because of Segregation and untouchability practices. Police statistics averaged over the past 5 years show that 13 Dalits are murdered, 5 Dalits' homes or possessions are burnt and 6 Dalits are kidnapped or abducted every week, 3 Dalit women are raped every day, 11 Dalits are beaten every day A crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes. 70% of the Rural Dalits are Land less Dalits are in majority in migrating for want of Job Displacement affects Dalits mostly than other caste groups. (Bheem Patrika Dated March 2007)

Today there are millions of Guru Ravidass’ followers who are engaged in propagating his teachings and philosophy. They are competing with each other to build big temples and other monuments on his name but hardly give any thought for the empowerment of these people. In spite of big bank balances, they do not consider appropriate to spare some amount on the campaign against the atrocities committed on these unfortunate people. These religious places could have been used as a platform to raise the voice again injustice. To put Guru Ravidass Ji on a pedestal and worship could be a beneficial for mental satisfaction but no way to improve the conditions of the downtrodden people. Longer this situation goes on harder it is becoming to succeed and have our self respect, dignity and restored.

Posted onwww.ambedkartimes.com ( February 20, 2008 )


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PRIVATISATION AND DALIT

For the last 50 years, Indian economy has swung like a pendulum back and forth between liberalization and socialism due to numerous politico-economic and social pressures. Under enormous pressure of debts, deficits, IMF and globalization, India has embraced market economy. Hence in the last decade multinationals corporations have invested in India and thereby Indiahas gradually come under global influence. The means of production, corporate governance, labour and corporate practices are changing as more organizations are delivering to their stakeholders a good healthy dividend.

With the collapse of communism, the western countries projected globalization as an alternative to centralized bureaucratic control and state dominated economies. Globalisation is supposedly to bring greater prosperity, peace, ecological balance and reduction in poverty. Instead of gaining public trust and democratic accountability, globalization has led to widening the gap between rich and poor. The minorities like Dalits have become more marginalized. Globalisation has enriched the upper castes that have taken advantage due to relevant skills and access to education whilst Dalits have become impoverished. Globalisation has led to disillusionment and discontentment. SC/STs have found their livelihood destroyed. Whilst corporate sector has created jobs in India

With the introduction of privatisation, liberalisation, globalisation and disinvestments, many government industries and public sector undertakings have already been sold off. As a result, thousands of jobs in the public sector have been lost. It is reported that in the Central Secretariat in Delhi, 60,000 posts particularly at lower levels have been abolished during the year 2003-4 and about 200,000 jobs all around country have been erased (1). Even the cleaning jobs in the local municipal committees have been contracted out to the contractors. The permanent jobs have been converted into temporary and the workers are left on the mercy of contractors. but the main beneficiaries have been the upper castes. 'Globalisation has clearly made wealthy elite wealthier. It has increased greed of the elite and strong desire to hang on to power. Time has come to devise a new strategy to make Dalits partners in the corporate sector. Failure will only result in further widening of gap between rich and poor.

According to the Economic Survey 1999-2000, employment in public sector by industry is 1941 crores (19410 millions), which means that by a rough estimate, there are more than 40 lakhs (4 millions) SC/ST employees. In the government and public sector, especially banks, SC/ST employees are actually less than the prescribed 15% reservation. The percentage of SCs in group A and B services stands at 10.15 and 12.57 percent respectively. In public sector banks in the officers’ cadre, the representation of SCs was 11.11% (2). Freed from their obligation to fulfil mandated quotas, privatised Public Sector Undertakings and banks are bound to register fall in the relative strength of Dalits. And even if their jobs are as secure or insecure as any other employee in a privatise firm is, the company can selectively lay of SC/ST staff without fear of violating any reservation policy. Again the promotion prospects of these employees will be diminished. Privatisation will lead to erosion and ultimately the end of reservation in the public sector. There is no clause for reservation being added into the disinvestment deals struck between the government and the private sector. Not to insert such clause into these deals is to subvert caste-based reservation and keep the Dalits away from jobs and also transfer the national assets in the hands of high castes.

It doesn’t matter how much we oppose globalisation and privatisation, it is going to stay in future and we will have to live with it. We have to change our strategy and adapt ourselves accordingly. We must find ways and means to absorb our Dalit brothers and sisters into these MNCs (multinational Corporations). Business is facing challenging time worldwide. It is no longer enough to simply employ people make profit and pay taxes. Companies are now expected to act responsibly, be accountable and benefit society as a whole. Corporate social responsibility may sound new to the underdeveloped countries but it is an old concept in Western World. The business has responsibility to itself, to its customers, workers, shareholders and community as whole.

The growth of the global economy has seen benefits across the World but also increasing public concern about business activities and decline in trust. At the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in September 2002, there was as much focus on business as on poverty and the environment. As WSSD recognised, partnership between business, government and civil society, there is a need to tackle inequalities and deprivation across the country. The business must be encouraged to tackle social exclusion and racism based on descent and build stronger society (3).

The multinational Companies (MNCs) have also started realising that how a company’s response to local needs results into a tremendous impact on its business and public perception of the company. Due to rapid expansion of consumerism, consumer is also becoming increasingly aware and is constantly evaluating company’s products and performance through human rights context. The companies are beginning to listen to the people for their local needs to maintain their reputation. Realising their corporate responsibility and integrity, the multinationals have started promoting diversity through education, training and minority advancement programmes.

In the UK, food supply provides some good example of corporate social responsibility. The Fair Trade group aims to give better deal to Third World producers. More than 300 retail products, ranging from coffee to fresh fruits, carry the fair trade mark in the UK. Leading super markets such as the Coop and Tesco, either stock Fairtrade brands or ensure their own brands are sourced from Fairtrade producers. Equal opportunity policy is enforced very strictly (4). To win the confidence of black and ethnic minorities, British police have started recruiting their staff from these groups and from the last few years a number of police officers are seen on the streets. Similarly BBC and other broadcasting companies started recruiting newsreaders, presenters and actors from black and ethnic minorities. Any company, which doesn’t employ people from blacks and ethnic minorities, is considered as a racist and no company whether big or small wants this sort of stigma attached to it.

In USA, American Society of Newspaper Editors took a decision in 1978 to raise the minorities’ representations from a pathetic 3.95% to the same level as their share in the population. The papers started special programmes such as scholarships, ethnic and racial censuses, training schemes and job fairs to recruit historically disadvantage minority groups. Today two thirds of all newspapers with circulation 100,000 plus draw 15-20% of their journalists from racial linguistics minorities like blacks and Hispanics. Thus, 16.2% of the New York Times, 19.5% of Washington Post, 18.7% of Los Angeles Times and 17.1% of Wall Street Journal’s staff belong to such minorities (5). Similarly Ford Motor Company largely focuses on recruiting the best of minorities, training and teaching them the best of techniques through exhaustive dealer education programmes in order to ensure the best of minorities have the capability to compete nationally as well globally. The company also grants scholarships to the students to get involved with the company. In 1999, Ford Motor Company prides itself for purchasing record $3.3 billions in goods and services from business that are run by the minorities. IBM has 15% of its staff drawn from the minorities. Over third of the faculty of Harvard Medical School belongs to such group. Microsoft and McDonald’s have made diversity an essential part of their business identity (6).

By contrast, Dalits and Adivasis (23% 0f the population) have abysmally low representation: just 7.1% in factories, 3.1% in construction, 4.1% in trade, 3% in transport and 3.4% in domestic industry(7). It is clear that the Indian business doesn’t give any importance to corporate responsibility and lack the spirit of diversity. Here Dalit is presumed useless, unworthy, incompetent, unintelligent, unmeritorious and unsuitable, until proven otherwise. That is why he doesn’t find any place in the business, educational institutions and media. In his article, ‘In Search of a Dalit Journalist’, Mr. B.N. Unigal states that there is not a single Dalit journalist in the English language press from the population of well over 250 million Dalits (8). Mr. Chandra Bhan Prasad, a Dalit writer is right when he says “In the US you have black billionaires, industrialists, black film stars, black professors. In India, university professorships are closed to us. We don’t have one millionaire. There is neither one Dalit newspaper editor nor a newscaster.”(9). The caste intelligentsia, which controls media and public institutions, doesn’t find it necessary to examine the reasons for not given due representations to these people. Perhaps they think that the law of ‘Karma’ governs them. They are in privileged positions because of their past deeds (Karmas). So they cannot do anything to change the lives of Dalits as they are suffering because of their past deeds as well.

Dalit educated elite is beginning to feel the heat of privatisation. They know that with this new phenomenon, the Dalits will have no place in the market economy. To find a new strategy to overcome this situation, in January 2002, a Dalit conference was held in Bhopal. Over 300 Dalit intellectuals unanimously accepted the Bhopal Declaration containing 21 points identifying the area of intervention for uplifment of Scheduled Castes/Tribes and their participation in the public and private sector. On 26th January 2002, in his Republic Day address to the nation, the then President of India, Mr. K.R. Narayanan endorsed this declaration, which generated a serious debate throughout the country. The concept of diversity came into forefront for the first time. The main theme of the Bhopal Declaration is that there must be an equal participation of all sections of the society in the activities of all key institutions be it governance, education, institutions and trade. Every government and private organisation must implement Supplier Diversity from socially disadvantaged businesses and Dealership Diversity in all goods and services. The reservation must be compulsory in the private and corporate sector in the same proportion as in the public sector and in the government institutions and develop the capacities and skills of Dalits to help them cope up with the demands of these different sectors.

To further these objectives, another International Dalit Conference took place in Vancouver, Canada on 16-18 May 2003. Endorsing the Bhopal Declaration, the Conference asked for rightful and proportionate share of Dalits in India’s national institutions, wealth and capital. The community should have equitable access to means of production and economic empowerment.

Though the Congress Party accepted the Bhopal Declaration and the reservations to Dalits in the private sector was given prominence in the minimum common programme of United Progressive Alliance (UPA), but so far they haven’t done anything to fulfil their promise. It appears that the Congress Party has deliberately diverted people’s attention from Bhopal and Vancouver Declarations. They are talking of labour market reservations and employment in certain sector of the private economy. There is no discussion over capital market, land market and government contracts to the Dalits. They have taken up just a one issue for reservations but what about contract/suppliers/dealership diversity? What about giving surplus land to landless labourers? What about diversity into educational institutions?

Even reservation in the private sector hasn’t received a positive response from businesses. The UPA government’s common minimum programme talks about evolving a consensus on the issue. The Prime Minister had meeting with industrialists on 4th December 2004 in which this issue was raised. All of them were opposed to this idea and only agreed to contribute toward education. Recently Rahul Bajaj threatened to shift business out of Maharashtra if the state government did not rescind its orders on reservations in the private sector (Times of India, 8/9/04). Confederation of Indian Industry chief Mr. Anand Mahindra welcomes a dialogue but says that reservation without merit may have distorting effects on the industry. In another word, he is parroting again about the age-old excuse of merit. Everybody knows that in private sector, jobs are hardly advertised. The people are recruited on the basis of birth not worth, family lineage, contacts, recommendations, loyalty and political influence. The Indian industry is run and controlled by the upper caste feudals who have no compassion for the poor.

The issue of providing reservation to the Dalits in the private sector seems to have taken a backseat. During Maharashtra elections, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh raised the issue. This matter was widely responded and discussed. The Government formed a Group of Ministers on the subject under the chairmanship of Sharad Pawar with Ramvilas Paswan and Lalu Prasad Yadav its members. Now the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh constituted a committee of ministers on Dalit affairs to supervise programmes being run by various ministries and departments for welfare of Dalits. The committee would consolidate the funding and implementation of schemes to improve effectiveness and identify areas needing attention. The committee has been set up because despite a large amounts being allocated to a number of programmes, the outcome has not been fruitful (10).

Now the government has itself admitted that the welfare programmes have not been very affective and successful. If the Prime Minister is really sincere, instead of this ministerial committee, he should form a Diversity Cell in the Prime Minister’s office and start implementing diversity programme immediately. All the contracts to various companies should go through the Prime Minister making sure that Dalits get their fare share in contracts. Rather than spending money on welfare schemes, involve them in businesses so that they are able to look after themselves. The Government should also set up a separate ministry for Diversification independent from the Ministry of Welfare and Empowerment. The Digvijay Singh government in Madhya Pardesh initiated a scheme to award one third of all purchases/contracts to the Dalits. The central government should also start such programmes at least in central government departments. All the governmental and private sector enterprises must provide data to the ministry to make sure that Dalits are given an equal opportunity in the hiring process. It also means that governmental and private business contracts should be cleared through the Ministry of Diversification to make sure that Dalits have shares equal to others (11). It is said that charity begins from home. The government should show the way to the private businesses. Rather than giving them reservation, give them power to run their own businesses. It will benefit not only a few educated people also semi literate people as well resulting more employment amongst the weaker section of society. This new ministry must set targets to achieve diversity agenda. This includes employment of Dalits in government and private sector and all educational institutions.

The ministry should also bear responsibility of training and teaching Dalits the best of techniques

Through exhaustive dealer/supplier-educational programmes in order to ensure that Dalits have the capability to compete nationally and globally. Dalit students should also be encouraged and financed to get involved in the business. All the private businesses, which are refusing to implement diversity programme, should be liable to be barred from government concessions such as subsidies, grants, loans and other income tax benefits. The companies, which implement this programme, should be benefited with tax rebates and other incentives.

To implement the diversity programme, it is essential that we have some data of the Dalit professionals, suppliers, dealers etc., otherwise these companies can easily say that they are unable to find the suitable persons. To eradicate this problem, there must be some sort of Dalit Recruitment Agency with branches in every state, which will collect the data of Dalit professionals i.e. scientists, computer engineers, lawyers, doctors, suppliers, dealers etc. The recruiting public/ private company or government departments would write to the Dalit Agency for providing the potential job seeker, supplier or dealer with relevant business and qualifications. If we have data, the agency can write to eligible persons. The person who gets job or contract for supply or dealership through the Dalit agency will have to pay a small amount to agency so that its running costs are met. Initially it will be difficult to collect data but when the agency start working, the potential job seekers or contractors will be registering their names themselves with the Dalit Agency. That way the companies can’t make excuse that they can’t find suitable persons for the jobs and also we will be able to have network of Dalit professionals and businessmen. This Agency can be run easily with no profit and no loss basis. The government can also take an initiative to open such agency under the Ministry of Diversification. But it must be ensured that this agency be run and operated by Dalit officials only. This agency must publish its annual report to show how many people registered with the company and how many people got jobs through this agency. Dalit Beopar mandal is a positive sign to implement this programme. We don’t need talks and dialogues with any business tycoons but we need action. Now let us see how far the government goes to empower Dalits.

References:

(1) P. Vishnumurti, Janamitra, 4/01/04
(2) Disinvestment will end reservations An article by Rajesh Ramachandran and Akshaya Mukul, the Times of India News Desk, published in the souvenir on Dr. Ambedkar’s birth anniversary in 2002 from Jallandhar.
(3) Corporate Social Responsibility A British Government update published by the Department of Trade & Industry in May 2004
(4) Corporate Social Responsibility Friends, (a magazine for the members of the Communications Workers Friendly Society) Autumn 2004 issue.
(5) The Praful Bidwai Column, dated 21/8/2004

HYPERLINK http://countercurrents.org/dalit-bidwai210804.htm
(6) The Vancouver Vision on Diversity International Dalit Conference, Vancouver, 2003
(7) Mr. P. Vishnumurti, Janmitra, 4/01/2004
(8) The Pioneer, Dalit Diary (Vol-1) by Chandra Bhan Prasad
(9) The Observer, 3 October 2004).
(10) The Indian Express, 8 March 2005
(11) Dr. K. P. Singh,
What Dalits Expect from the congress led Government? Dalit International Newsletter, October 2004

Note: This article on Privatisation & Dalits was written by Mr. Arun Kumar a year ago.

POSTED ON JUNE 11, 2007



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EMPOWERMENT OF DALITS

Dr. Ambedkar is by far the greatest figure ever born to the Dalit community. He has become a household name in every nook and corner of India. His influence and prestige continue to grow everyday. Today he is recognised as a great figure of modern India. The statues of Dr. Ambedkar are erected just about everywhere, thousands of walls are decorated with his portraits and his writings are quoted in most of the speeches delivered by prominent politicians and scholars. All political parties include him among figures of national importance.

Dr. Ambedkar is being transformed into a saintly figure. On his birthdays, politicians and his followers garland his statues and portraits. The politician use beautiful words in praise of Dr. Ambedkar to please his followers and to keep their vote bank intact. They announce various schemes which are never implemented and most of the time they gather dust in the office files. To celebrate his birthday is becoming an annual ritual. But he himself was an ‘idle breaker’ not ‘idle worshiper’. He was also against hero worship. Commenting upon hero worship, he said, “Bhakti in religion may be road to salvation of the soul. But in politics, it is sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship” (1). Let us not put Dr. Ambedkar on a pedestal and start worshiping him.

Dr. Ambedkar’s life should provide an example as well as an inspiration to all those who constitute the have-nots and downtrodden in the World and tell them that no bar based on caste, colour, race or religion can come in the way of an individual who is determined to go up. He believed in action and used every opportunity, every talent and every minute that was available to him to accomplish his ideals. His life was a relentless struggle against injustice and oppression. His birthday is a reminder to us about his sacrifice to improve the conditions of neglected and suppressed people of India. He is as much relevant today as he was in his own life time.

His each and every word will keep on imparting guidance not only to Dalits but to all Indians. While presenting the draft constitution in the Constituent Assembly on 25th November, 1949, Dr. Ambedkar warned the nation, “On January 26, 1950, we will have equality in politics and inequality in social and economic life. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest moment, or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy…” (2).

Even after more than half century of Independence, we haven’t learnt any lesson. Socially Indians are still divided into low and high. Loyalty to caste has increased. Dalits are discriminated on the basis of their caste. The situation is worsening day by day. According to a report by the Human Rights Watch some 160 million people live in a precarious existence shunned by much of society because of their ranks as untouchables. Dalits are discriminated, against, denied access to land, forced to work in deploring conditions and routinely abused and even killed. Dalit women are frequently victim of sexual abuse and paraded naked in the streets for petty crimes. Between 1994 and 1996, 98349 cases were registered with police nationwide as crimes and atrocities against Dalits. A further 1660 were for murder, 2814 for rape and 13671 for grievous hurt (3). The National Crime Records Bureau of India in its report says that 23742were committed against Dalits in the year 2000. Of these 6617 were atrocities and 666 were denial of civil rights. There were 3,298 cases of attack, 1034 cases of rape, 486 of murder, 260 of arson, 242 of kidnapping and abduction and 93 of robbery. Every day the incidents of atrocities can be found in various newspapers. But what the Indian are doing about it. Just flick the newspapers, feel sorry for the unfortunates and forget.

It is often boasted that the government of India and state governments have started numerous schemes to uplift the conditions of Dalits. But in actual fact the state as well as central government don’t take any interest to implement these plans. For example, the union government provided Rs.50lacs to help the victims of caste oppression but Punjab government didn’t spent a penny out of this fund. Again an amount of Rs.54crores and 34lacs was sanctioned in the budget for year 2003-4, out which only Rs.35crores and 6lacs were spent. Similarly the communist government in West Bengal spent only 40% of the amount given by the central government (4). During 1980, the schemes started for the welfare Dalits have either been finished or the budget provision for these plans has been reduced to the extent that they are not benefiting to anybody. Provision of Rs.16crores to provide hostels to the students of Scheduled Tribes by the Government of India has ceased during the budget of 2004-5. A provision of Rs.40crores was made during year 2003-4 for the welfare and rehabilitation of manual scavengers, but during the year 2004-5, the amount was reduced to Rs.20crores (5)

So far economic conditions are concerned; reservation in the government jobs has not been fulfilled as proportional to their population. With the privatisation, liberalisation and globalisation, the government jobs are disappearing. A rough estimation shows that for every 10 Dalits retiring from Government, only two are getting in. At this rate 80 per cent of the Dalits will have been thrown out of the Government jobs by 2033 (6). As there is no reservation in the private sector, there is no scope of Dalits getting jobs in the private sector. There are 250 millions Dalits in India which make nearly one fourth of all population. But their share in the market economy is negligible. Dalits in Punjab constitute a higher proportion of the population (28.3%) than the India average; they cultivate only 0.4% of all landholdings, occupying 0.72% of the total cultivated area in the state (7).They have 7.1% share in factories, 3.1% in construction, 4.1% in trade, 3% in transport and 3.4% in domestic industry (8).That is why majority of Dalits still live below poverty line. The current trend is that poor is becoming poorer and rich richer. Dalits will be further marginalised.

Because of the disparity between rich and poor, people especially Dalits are getting frustrated and alienated from the rest of the society. They have stopped believing the politicians and democratic system. That is why violent movements such as Dalit Panthers of India, Naxlite movement in Andhra Parades, Maoist movement in Bihar and Jharkhand are cropping up. If the gap between rich and poor is not bridged, there is a danger of caste warfare. The Indians must heed Dr. Ambedkar’s warning and do something to bring about equality in social and economic life of the people. Otherwise India will surely be heading towards disaster.

After Bhopal and Vancouver Dalit Conferences, the issue of reservation in the private sector has become a national agenda. By starting debate on reservations in private sector, Congress government has deliberately diverted the people’s attention from the recommendations of both Bhopal and Vancouver Declarations. Recently the working group set up by the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh has given its verdict that reservation in the private sector without constitutional amendment is not possible. This issue has been sidelined. There are 121 Dalit MPs. If all reserved MPs and MLAs cooperate with each other, the government of India will be forced to bring this amendment in the Parliament. But they have become deaf and dumb to please their masters. They are concerned only about their own positions.

We should not be contended with mere reservation in private sector but we must also push for the implementation of supplier and dealership diversity in all goods and services for socially disadvantaged businesses. We must not stop until our goal of share in land, trade, industry and market is achieved. To bring social and economic equality in the society, empowerment of Dalits is essential. If we are able to achieve even a little in this direction, it will be a real tribute to Dr. Ambedkar.

References:

1. Thus Spoke Ambedkar Vol. II, Bhagwan Das.
2. Ibid
3. Broken People, Caste Violence against India’s “Untouchables”, Human Rights Watch, New York
4. Nanak Chand Rattu, Dr. Ambedkar’s Last Days and his last words, An article published in the Ambedkar Centenary Celebrations souvenir Vol 11, Published by the Ambedkar Centenary Celebrations Committee, UK
5. Bheem Patrika, September, 2004
6. Weekly Begum Pura Shaher, 5th September, 2005
7. Chander Bhan Prasad, Step Backward, The Pioneer, 6/11/05
8. Dr. Ronki Ram, Untouchability in India with a difference, Asian survey, November/December 04
9. Vishnumuriti, Janmitra, dated 4 January, 2004

 

POSTED ON JUNE 9TH, 2007



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