Moral University Convocation

A few years back, a predominant Scheduled Caste (SC) group and organisation at the University of Hyderabad Campus begun to perceive me as a threat to their ‘Caste and Organisation’. As a result, they started to brand me as an ‘Anti-Dalit’ and propagated in such a manner to a few Non-Telugu Dalits, who begun to believe the same.

I came to know about this process and incident a bit late.

On one day, a Non-Telugu SC Doctoral Research Scholar from Political Science started to behave with me in an unusual manner, due to this believed (mis)belief as an ‘anti-Dalit’, without expressing the same in full-fledged form.

Surprisingly, on another midnight, we both encountered each other while walking on the University Campus. This gentleman was thoroughly drunken. As a result, he was able to open his feeling against me as ‘anti-Dalit’, albeit in a little polite manner. But, I was able to guess the sense.

The result was – at length discussion, deliberation, debate, explanation followed. Even then, there was no change in his mindset.

After returning to my hostel room – I pondered over about this guy’s perception towards me and more. At last, I felt pity for his inability to understand ‘what constitutes Political Discourse – why and how’, even after having highest qualification in the academic discipline and exposure to a particular Political Society and System for more than a decade!!??

As a final moral resort, I conducted ‘Moral Reserve University Convocation’ in my heart as Chancellor of the University and repealed his awarded academic qualification in the Political Science discipline for his inability to sustain scientific temper in the pursuit of the Subject!!

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Search for Better Identity and Dilemma’s of Ex-Untouchables – II

This blog post is a continuation post to one my previous post titled ‘Search for Better Identity and Dilemma’s of Ex-Untouchables’.

III

The sustained movement and activism of Madiga’s had a widespread impact on various caste organizations, especially upon the Mala’s. Due to the predominant projection and recognized assertion of the Madiga’s; a few Mala organizations and individuals have been in a dilemma on which name they should organize, project and conduct their activities. For long, various Mala organizations have been successful in the name of Ambedkar, SC/ST Employees, Dalit, etc. But, the continued successful activism of Madiga’s pushed a few sections of Mala’s into a dilemma. As a result, a few organizations have started to emerge, organize, assert and project on the name of Mala, in-addition to existing Mala’s predominance in the shade of Ambedkar, SC/ST, Dalit, etc. One of the dilemma’s of Mala’s on which name to continue resulted in the inauguration of All Mala Students’ Association (AMSA) on April 10, 2013 at Hyderabad. Mala students at various educational institutions were grouped under organizations titled on ‘Ambedkar/SC/Dalit’, etc. But, Madiga students were grouped under Madgia Students’ Front (MSF). The successful continuation of Madiga’s under MSF made a few Mala groups to get united under direct caste name Mala; as a result organizations like AMSA emerged or emerging. As of now, AMSA is not widespread and popular on educational institutions. We have to wait and observe how AMSA discourse may get rooted.

On a personal front, I’ve come to know about a few Mala organizations and individuals difficulty to organize, project and conduct on a name other than ‘Mala’. At the University of Hyderabad, the Mala’s are well organized and well carried out under Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA), since 1993. The birth of AMSA made a few Mala students’ at the University of Hyderabad to ponder over the option of abandoning ASA and get united under AMSA. But, as of now, the ASA leadership rejected such a thought, taking into consideration various parameters peculiar to the University of Hyderabad and their required role at this institution, particularly as part of the annual University Students’ Union elections, etc.

Though the Madiga’s were well organized on the name of ‘Madiga’ in various walks of life like employees, students, etc., at times, as per my personal observation, a few Madiga’s too faced and faces a dilemma on which name to organize, conduct and project? A person is known to me, whom I shall pseudo as ‘X’. This ‘X’ had the wish to organize Madiga’s under one platform. But, after prudent self-deliberation he avoided to name his organization after ‘Madiga’, instead chose the word ‘Dalit…’, while naming. In his view, at a certain point, the name ‘Madiga’ will diminish the prospects and limits one’s conduct in various spheres of activity. Thus, in his view, even Madiga’s, like Mala’s should organize, conduct and be successful under the name of ‘Dalit’, instead of Madiga!!

In another case, this too, as per my silent personal observation of a person whom I shall pseudo as ‘Y’, had done considerable academic research on Madiga’s and his name became popular. This ‘Y’ was jubilant for his acquired fame due to his academic inclination towards Madiga literature and its production. But then, on a few occasions, ‘Y’ too wished to be diplomatic in avoiding his well identified public reference towards creation of literature for Madiga’s!!

IV

While these kind of diplomatic dilemmas are taking place among various sections of Ex-Untouchables, like the Madiga’s and Mala’s; there were also a few success stories of these castes and individuals, which they achieved due to their assertion on caste name. One such instance was shared with me by a person at Guntur, whom I shall pseudo as ‘Z’. This ‘Z’ was well educated and was in the service sector for livelihood. In due course of his life, ‘Z’ got an opportunity, due to reservation policy, to get associated with a major political party, through an established popular leader of the region. This opportunity knocked him through his wife. He fielded his wife to contest in the elections and was successful in getting his wife elected. After his wife got elected, ‘Z’ became a pseudo to his wife’s political power in certain sense and occasions, albeit in both recognizable and unrecognizable forms and events. Due to association with politics and political power ‘Z’ started to change his way of livelihood. Based on political power contacts and influence he emerged as a contractor.

At a village, when ‘Z’ was undertaking contract works, a Kamma youth approached ‘Z’ energetically and in an assertive arrogant manner and questioned to which caste does ‘Z’ belong? The reply of ‘Z’ as ‘Madiga caste’ brought jitters in Kamma guy, who left the spot immediately in a quick way.

The predominant behavior of Kamma youth in a few villages, town, and cities of Coastal Andhra Pradesh is a well-recognized subject. For that matter, Coastal Andhra Pradesh is well known for the assertion of a few dominant castes like Kamma, Kapu, etc.

In the present case, spreading of jitters in Kamma youth instead of continuing to discriminate the Madiga ‘Z’ is a success of the Madiga movement since 1990’s. The Kamma youth, in this case, realized how he can’t discriminate Madiga ‘Z’ anymore!! Madiga’s lacked this kind of assertive dignity when they were silently grouped under SC category. The assertion of Madiga’s under various forms and for various causes made castes like Kamma’s to reconsider and reorient their modes of behavior and discriminative grounds.

Thus, all this indicates that the levels of stigma and approaches to discriminative grounds are undergoing drastic changes due to varying forms of caste assertion of Ex-Untouchables.

Perhaps, this kind of case studies could establish in relation to other communities, like the Mala’s, how they are also facing reduced forms of discrimination, due to assertion on caste lines.

Search for Better Identity and Dilemma’s of Ex-Untouchables

In the study of Indian History, there are contested interpretations over the genealogy of ‘Untouchability’, even among scholars. Well recognized scholar B R Ambedkar too tried to delve into this question and observed that Untouchable section must have emerged in the middle of Indian history. In his view, those who refused to give up beef-eating should have become untouchables. As per the Hindutva section arguments/scholarship/propagation Untouchable category emerged after Muslim rulers’ invasion of India!! ‘Saints’ like Gandhi gave ‘Harijan’ as a better referral name to the Untouchables. Revolutionary Social Reformer Jyotibha Phule coined the word ‘Atishudra’. Thus, all this indicates that various sections, persons, organizations have their own set of ideas and visions towards ‘Untouchables’.

There are a few scholars who still feel that the birth of Untouchability in the Indian Context is not yet properly established. This section of academics appreciates Ambedkar’s attempts to trace the birth of Untouchability. But they feel, yet further attempts can and should be made to trace out the birth of Untouchability. While all this is at scholarly level, at ‘dalit movement’ level, the Dalits also seems to be not well satisfied with their  construction of identity. The search for better construction and understanding of Untouchable’s identity has been undergoing various modes of changes; such changes are based on social imaginary, evolving nature of culture, politics, etc. Untouchable’s are highly heterogeneous in nature. The features and background to their heterogeneity depend on various factors like region, history, social imaginary, etc.

The practice of Untouchability is abolished in India by the Indian Constitution. This is a Constitutional and legal provision. Even then, there were instances of proven proofs and evidences of practice. As practice of Untouchability became Constitutionally and legally difficult; this practice started to reinvent other shadow forms of discrimination. The Constitutional and legal abolition of ‘Untouchability’, made to refer this practice and section as ‘Ex-Untouchables’. 

For legal and administrative purposes the Untouchables were regarded as ‘Depressed Classes’ during the British India regime. A much better word ‘Scheduled Castes’ (SC) was coined by the 1935 Government of India Act. Since then the word ‘SC’ was widely regarded and was well accepted. When compared to the word ‘Untouchables’, the next two chosen phrases ‘Depressed Classes’ and ‘SC’ were slightly better. But, mainstream people’s stigma towards these two phrases as synonymous to Ex-Untouchables continued.

Without bothering about the mainstream society, the Untouchables too had their ideas and visions about their identity. Some section of untouchables started and continued to construct their identity as a synonym for the name of ‘Ambedkar’. This process began when Ambedkar was alive. The Mahar’s and Mala’s of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh (including present day Telangana) come under this category. Another section started to coin and popular the word ‘Dalit’. The word ‘Dalit’ gained popular societal acceptance. The popularity of the word ‘dalit’, made even the Constitutional and legal word ‘SC’ usage limited. Anyhow, all is up to certain level.

II

There is extreme another level of assertion among Ex-Untouchables. This assertion was from the Madiga’s of erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh, before bifurcation in 2014 as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Madiga’s started to argue that only a Caste’s identity can better represent that caste group. By putting forward this argument, the Madiga’s attempted to downgrade the Constitutional and legal word ‘SC’ and popular word ‘Dalit’. This resulted in extreme level of recognising ‘caste identities’. 

Madiga’s firmly believed and thought that the shadow of SC/Dalit, etc words has become a well-protected umbrella for the protection and perpetuation of ‘predominant castes within Untouchables’, like the Mala’s. The primary conflict of Madiga’s with Mala’s lied at: Mala’s cornering lion’s share of 15% of SC reservation. As a result, the Madiga’s started to demand sub-categorisation of 15% SC reservation, brining equal parity among all the castes of SC’s utilisation of reservation. To this demand of Madiga’s – the Mala’s started to object and argued that sub-classification of  SC reservation is anti Ambedkariate stand and politics, which is equal to dividing dalits. This created potential rift between the two communities. But, ultimately, the principles and philosophy advocated by the Madiga movement gained precedence. And, almost all the major political parties started to support the demand of Madiga movement.

During the whole process of Madiga’s  movement for the Sub-Categorisation of the SC reservation; the Madiga’s started to argue that their caste name ‘Madiga’ itself can better represent about their identity, and this is same to any other caste group, like the Mala’s.  Any overshadowing of real caste character was seen as a perpetuation of the ‘predominant’ among their ‘SC category’, by the Madiga’s. 

As of now, the Madiga’s argument seems to be appropriate. We have to observe how other changes may occur in this discourse. But, as per my personal observation, even a few Madiga’s appears to be in a dilemma to use direct caste name as an identity, on a few occasions. I will try to address the dilemma of Madiga’s in another post.

Interview to The Hindu over Beef Controversy at HCU

The Hindu New daily News Correspondent Ms Nikhila Henry covered extensively the Beef Festival Controversy at the Osmania University during 2012 and 2015. As part this coverage she interacted with me too over the past Beef controversy at the University of Hyderabad (i.e., Hyderabad Central University – HCU) during 2006-2008 and quoted me in an article over this Beef Controversies at the Hyderabad Universities.

The article is as follows;

The Hindu over Osmania University Beef Row

Telangana Vidhyarthi Vedia (TVV) Stand During 2015 Students’ Union Election

The Telangna Vidhyarthi Vedia (TVV), University of Hyderabad unit has cleared its political stand by extending its support to the SFI-DSU-TSF led coalition as part of the 2015 University Students’ Union Election. In this respect, the following poster in both English and Telugu versions were released by TVV.

TVV UoH, 2015
TVV UoH, 2015
TVV against Hindutva Forces for 2015 UoH SU
TVV against Hindutva Forces for 2015 UoH SU

As per the above poster it was observed by TVV that in-order to combat the increasing Hindutva presence and its threat in the educational institutions across the country specifically and in the society in general – it is extending support to the Left-Dalit-Tribal alliance as part of the University of Hyderabad’s scheduled Students’ Union election.

University of Hyderabad 2015 Students’ Union Elections Campaign

The University of Hyderabad (UoH) Students’ Union Elections for the academic year 2015-2016 consists of the following prominent panels from ABVP, SFI-TSF-DSU-TVV, and UDA Panel consisting of ASA-NSUI-OBCA.

The detailed particulars of these panels are as follows:

ABVP 2015 SU Election
ABVP 2015 SU Election
SFI TSF DSU TVV Panel
SFI TSF DSU TVV Panel

SFI-TSF-DSU-TVV is a new alliance. SFI (stands as Students’ Federation of India), TSF (Tribal Students’ Forum), Dalit Students’ Union (DSU) & TVV (Telangana Vidarthi Vedika).

It was expected to some extent that the SFI-ASA alliance may work out. But, SFI seemed to have abandoned such an idea and seems to conceived this alliance. For DSU getting place in alliance after a long haul is a re-beginning. And, it is a very surprise step to see a place to the TVV in this alliance. Perhaps this could be the first to TVV to have a place in an alliance or in elections on the Campus.

UDA Panel for UoH 2015 SU Election
UDA Panel for UoH 2015 SU Election

Amebdkar Students’ Association (ASA) seems to the prime backbone to this alliance. Surprisingly, though this panel claimed BSF too as part of this alliance – BSF denied such campaign. Please see the below poster released by BSF against UDA panel. For the first time OBCA (Other Backward Classes Association) seems to have extended unanimous support to this panel. OBCA came into existence during last academic year on the Campus.

BSF on 2015 SU Elections
BSF on 2015 SU Elections

DSU Organised a Conference on ‘Student Organizations and Conflicting Ideologies’

The Dalit Students’ Union (DSU), University of Hyderabad organised a Conference on the ‘Student Organisations and Conflicting Ideologies’, as part of its fifteenth anniversary celebrations during the academic year 2011-2012 on February 24, 2012 at School of Humanities Auditorium, University of Hyderabad. Mr L M Lyngdoh, Former Chief Election Commissioner of India was the Chief Guest. The Session was Chaired by Mr Sareen Chatla, Assistant Professor, Department of Film Studies, English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad. Various student organisation leaders took formal participation and presented their organisation’s version of ‘Ideology’.

This was a grand success event during this academic year.

Please see the below poster for full details of the event.

Poster for DSU Conference on Student Organisations