When equality is denied everything is denied
On the 13th of March 2017, Muthukrishnan Jeevanathnan also known as Rajini Krish, a Dalit research scholar in JNU committed suicide by hanging himself. His death and his writings when he was alive all speak to the nature of caste based discrimination faced by dalit scholars all over the country in various educational institutes. Despite his articulation we hear a repeated assertion of old tropes of Dalit scholars not being able to ‘cope up’ with the pressure at Universities.
It is only a little over a year after RohithVemula was found hanging in a hostel room in the University of Hyderabad, that now another young student, Muthu, of Jawaharlal Nehru University has been found hanging in a room of a friend. Muthu too struggled to enter esteemed institutions of higher education, far from his native home, with the hope of changing a destiny written by a Brahmanical caste ridden history. He was a cheerful presence at all the protests against Brahmanisim at the University of Hyderabad, but he was primarily focused on getting admission in JNU. Muthu was well aware of the weight of historical deprivation that students like him carried when they entered such institutions. A student of modern Indian history, his efforts appear to have been to make sense of this past, recognise its manifestations and find ways of addressing it. Continue reading
December 10 and 11, 2015 New Delhi
The inspiration for the seminar “Resisting Caste and Patriarchy : Building Alliances” came from an initiative that started in 2013-2014, when members of WSS made a series of visits to villages in several districts of Haryana to investigate reports of sexual assaults and killings of Dalit girls. The team met and interviewed many of the survivors and their families. Intensive discussions with a team of young Dalit lawyers and activists provided additional insights into the situation. In the course of internal discussions that followed, members of WSS tried to articulate the gaps and grey areas in feminist debates on caste and patriarchy, and draw on lessons from the histories of engagement with questions of caste and gender by and within different mass movements and women’s movements.
Seminar report at WSS Seminar Resisting Caste and Patriarchy 10-11th Dec 2015 Final Report
It was obvious that the disappearance of “annihilation of caste” from the agenda of contemporary movements was an inevitable consequence of the marginalisation of Dalit women in political struggles and social processes. Thus, complex issues arising from Dalit women’s labour in various relations of production have been reduced to the question of choice or coercion in sex work, with little exploration of the ways in which caste, class and patriarchy have worked together to exploit and stigmatise dalit women across the spectrum of work and labour relations.
Progressive groups and social movements across the spectrum are struggling with uncertainty and lack of clarity on advancing the agenda of annihilation of caste in the context of changing land and labour relations, neo-liberal capitalism, the appropriation of natural resources, increasing state violence and the dominance of Hindutva. The decision to organise a national seminar around these issues was taken at the WSS annual meeting in Lucknow in 2015.
The main objective of organising this National Seminar on Caste and Patriarchy was to strengthen our dialogues and alliances around Babasaheb Ambedkar’s foundational insight – that the annihilation of caste cannot be fulfilled without the annihilation of patriarchy. The objective was also to explore the question of how our struggles against patriarchy, caste and religious orthodoxy could draw from Ambedkar’s legacy to redefine feminism in the Indian context. Our effort was to create a space to explore and discuss questions around re-framing our perspectives on the intersections of caste and patriarchy with structural inequalities so as to take on the challenge of annihilation of caste.
10-11 DECEMBER 2015
Savitri Bai Phule, Jyotiba Phule, B R Ambedkar and ER Periyar were among the first to show how upper caste maintains its dominance through the structures of marriage and family to uphold Brahmanical hegemony and keep women in a subordinate position. The struggle against patriarchy and religious orthodoxy is yet to draw substantially from this legacy to redefine feminism in the Indian context.
Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) would like to discuss what people’s movements and democratic movements, especially the women’s movement, have to say in relation to the “annihilation of caste” in the context of both work and vision in contemporary times. WSS invites you to this two-day seminar that will be addressed by activists, writers and academics.
Kindly keep yourselves free to attend this seminar as your participation is invaluable to us all in WSS, Delhi. We will send more details very soon.
Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression
On the 22nd of May 2015, IIT Madras derecognized the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC), an independent student body, citing the ‘misuse of privileges given’ as cause, based on an anonymous letter of complaint. These claims were neither verfied nor justified by the Dean’s office, which refused to engage in dialogue with the student body. Instead, when questioned, they changed their reasons to ‘violation of code of conduct’ with no concrete basis to these allegations whatsoever. After much campaigning and media attention, the undemocratic ban has finally been revoked. Below is a statement of solidarity by WSS – for APSC and all other democratic voices that refuse to be silenced. Continue reading