Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Students Struggles of Hyderbad Central University: Emergence of Dalit Politics

             

Prof. P. Kesava Kumar, University of Delhi, Delhi 

 

The University is a modern public space. The students struggles of Hyderabad central universitity has changed the very charecter of this public space.Especially the struggles of Dalit students took the lead in alternative democratic politics of the nation from the time of pro mandal agitation to recent Rohit struggle. With the Rohit struggle, the Amedkarite politics of university has not captured the imagination of the nation but also got acceptance from alternative politics to casteist hindutva politics. From 2000 to till time, the campus dalit politics has not only consolidated its base but also got appeal to other non-dalit students, even to the muslim students. With the rise of hindutva politics, dalit student politics were targetted.  Dalit stuents were retaliating  the dominant casteist forces in all possible ways. As a result Dalit politics of the  nation has not only revitalized but also emerged as the only viable alternative against fascist hindutva forces.This note trace out  the  student politics from late eighties to early 2000.
 TheTill the eighties, the entry of Dalits into the University was minimal. From the eighties onwards, there is a visibility of Dalit students in the University. The entry of students from lower caste groups is possible only because of the reservations in educational institutions. Mostly, they are confined to the Social Sciences and the Humanities. There is a serious debate begun in academic circles about the lowering of academic standards in higher education. For the Dalits, it is a new experience in the University. They are usually confronted with the existing academic and cultural environment of the University, which is new for them. On the other side, Upper Caste students feel threatened with the very entry of Dalit students. There is a strong feeling prevailing among these students that Dalit students are grabbing their opportunities in the name of reservations without having any ‘merit’ or taking any effort towards it. As a result, one can see a serious confrontation between the students from lower caste groups and upper caste groups in the context of competition for resources and opportunities. This can be seen in the agitations around the implementation of Mandal commission recommendation for ensuring the reservations for OBCs in government jobs. This created almost a polarization of Indian society in the lines of caste. Mandal issue was a turning point in Indian politics. The inherent contradictions on the issue of caste came into public debates. This episode influenced the civil society in general and University campuses in particular. A serious politicization began in the Universities and students became conscious of their castes, rather pretend to be ignorant of caste.

To understand the Mandal and Post-Mandal politics in a public space like the University, the developments in the University of Hyderabad and the political assertion of Dalit students in the University for a decade may provide some insights. This University produced many Dalit writers and scholars in contemporary times. This University is known for its immediate response to the political happenings of India, rather any other University in Nineties. Dalit politics outside the campus particularly influenced the University.

University of Hyderabad as a central university came into existence in the late seventies in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. It was established as per the six-point formula intended to concede to the demands of Jai Andhra movement. It was assumed that the University may provide opportunities for higher education to people from all regions of A.P. since another university in Hyderabad, Osmania University, predominantly catered to the needs of the Telangana region. At present, the University has been able to attract students from all over India, though the majority of them are from A.P. The location of the University assumes importance, as A.P. has been known for intense political struggles like the Naxalite movement and contemporary Dalit and women struggles. Students of the neighbouring Osmania University had gone to villages to participate in rural-peasant struggles in Telengana in the eighties. That was the atmosphere surrounding the University at the time of its inception.  But the University of Hyderabad has been immune to all those political influences throughout the eighties.

While conceiving the idea of that University, the underlying premise was primarily to promote excellence in the field of Sciences, and it was followed by Social Sciences and then the Humanities. Semester system was introduced and retained till now to monitor the performance of the students closely. Teachers have been given total autonomy in the matters relating to curriculum, teaching and evaluation. The medium of entrance examination is only English. These things heavily influence the social composition of the University and the retention of students from relatively disadvantageous social background. But precisely this has become essential to the identity the University advertises to enhance its reputation. Throughout its career, the University had a significant number of students from the elite and upper middle class back ground. This University fulfilled the upper caste, middle class dream of studying in an island of excellence where pursuit of knowledge is to promote one’s career alone. Majority of University teachers come from elite social backgrounds who have studied in ‘prestigious’ institutions. But they do carry notions of unbridled academic pursuit as short cut to serve the developmental needs of the society. Everything else appears to disturb this middle class aesthetic of calm, pleasant campus devoid of ‘dirty’ politics. Everything seemed to be ‘fine’ in those early days.

Till late eighties, students used to organize around their classroom. His/her department or batch, marked the student. One is identified by the names of few individuals visible in public. Disadvantages associated with particular social background like one’s caste, economic position, rural/urban and cultural (un) skills associated with them were never openly talked about. They were pushed under carpet and made beautiful by the cosmetic liberal environment. Dissent was limited to private murmurs. Collective activity was centred around picnics, fresher’s and farewell parties. The idea of discomfort over elite ways of life were partly expressed in terms of particular depts or groups; For instance, English dept. students had the image of being hip/arrogant. In those days, the enrolment of Dalit students into P.G. courses was minimal. Most of the Dalit students used to drop out of their courses as soon as their first semester got over, as they were not given with the required percentage of marks. Of course, the drop out rate used to vary from department to department. Students from the Dalit community didn’t have any other option, except to exit from the University. It was rare to find Dalit students with 50% of marks in those days. It was accepted as one’s fate, which cannot be changed by conscious human effort. The enrolment of Dalit students into research was almost negligible since the rule of reservation was not followed in case of admission into research programmes.

Things started changing by the end of eighties. There had emerged a class of students from the Dalit communities whose parents had been employed in small government jobs. This can be mentioned as the product of efforts of Christian missionaries and welfare policies of the postcolonial government. These students were able to study in some of the good colleges located in the developed coastal region of the State. They had entered into the campus by the late eighties. This phenomenon has become regular and irreversible.
Break through in the political situation of the campus came up with the announcement of Mandal commission recommendations providing 27% of reservations in employment for OBCs. This has resulted in nationwide hysteria among the upper castes who went protesting against the government move. Upper caste students within the campus also joined/led the mobilization with the active participation of women. University of Hyderabad’s upper caste students spearheaded the anti-Mandal commission forum (A.M.C.F.) at the state level in Andhra Pradesh.  They came up with the articulation that these(OBC/Dalit) students would breed inefficiency in governmental institutions. For instance, bridges built by them are bound to collapse and if they become doctors, they will surely end up killing the patients as they are necessarily inefficient. As a consequence the country will go to dogs. Aren’t there many poor people within upper castes? Why not economic criteria? Aren’t we all human beings? These were basically the arguments against reservations on the basis caste. They do describe OBC/Dalit students as inefficient and at the same time they staunchly refute the idea of reservation on the basis of caste. How can you blame us for something, which our forefathers have done? Any way we are not practicing untouchability. That was the attitude of upper castes on campus as well as all over the country.

                                                  
Anti-Mandal commission forum (AMCF) from the University has become prominent in many of the activities conducted against Mandal commission report in Hyderabad. This has precipitated a strong feeling of hurt, indignity and insult prominently among the Dalit students and a few OBC students. There was a sense of hurt as Dalit students were referred in derogatory terms in AMCF articulations. As a response to AMCF, a few students had pasted poems by progressive writers in defence of reservations. (Janachaitany Vedika’s poems and Varavara Rao’s Dejavu ) on the walls. Then, the students from Dalit communities at the centre and a few OBC and sympathetic progressive students among the upper caste together formed an organization, Progressive Students Forum (PSF). Prior to this, there was an informal discussion on naming the organization, whether SC,ST and BC Students Welfare Association or some other name. The Dalit students began programmes of protest against AMCF. Dalit students took it as a point to attend the classes when AMCF called for boycott of classes. AMCF students had regular programmes in the city of Hyderabad like dharnas, shoe polishing, sweeping roads etc. to prove that they would be “reduced” to doing menial jobs if Mandal commission recommendations were implemented.  The University authorities supposed to be neutral, provided them with buses to go to the city comfortably. That was pointed out and made public by the PSF. There was an encounter between a huge procession of democratic organizations of the state and few AMCF students who hijacked a bus to go for a dharna. The AMCF students shouted slogans against the people in procession. People in procession had come to the bus and gave few blows to AMCF students in bus. The AMCF in the University alleged that goons hired by the PSF had resorted to violence. At that time, the Union minister P. Upendra visited the campus on an official function. Students of AMCF tried to disrupt the meeting and entered into a fierce verbal confrontation with him. PSF students intervened and defended the government’s decision. After a few days, the PSF called for a University bandh. Dalit students sat at the main gates of the University to block the entry into and exit from the University. Then AMCF students came and just walked over Dalit students. Dalit students confronted them forcefully. University declared vacation immediately in order to diffuse the crisis.

That can be mentioned as the first instance of direct confrontation between the Dalit students and others (AMCF) in an otherwise peaceful campus. It had become clear and open to the campus, who is who. The silence was broken by the upper caste students and timely responded by the Dalit students. There had emerged a kind of polarization between the Dalits and others. Despite of this polarization, there have been few upper caste individuals, who were with the PSF and actively participated in it. This polarisation had made explicit the deeply ingrained attitudes of upper castes towards Dalits. It has caused semantic rapture and radically changed meanings associated with Dalits. There was a tendency to indicate SC/ STs with PSF in informal conversation. Immediately after the vacation, whatever happened during Mandal agitation period was thrown into the realm of the private of the upper castes, it was never again discussed in public so enthusiastically. But the spectre of PSF continued to haunt them. PSF formed in the context continued to take up various academic and socio-political issues. It has given a sense of confidence to Dalits to be comfortable in campus and to express one’s problems and demand for resolving them. This atmosphere helped to raise several questions relating to inbuilt biases within the academic system.

With the active emergence of the PSF, Students’ Union of the University lost its importance. Students’ Union is an elected body and supposed to represent all the students. The students union is was the sole authority on matters relating to students. The emergence of separate category PSF made students union irrelevant as PSF thought that they will represent themselves separately. The space of discussion and debate is also taken up by PSF by its innumerable public meetings. So the Students Union became hallow and left to perform only functions like organizing orchestras on occasion of freshers parties, arranging buses to city on the occasion of UGC NET and civil services examinations etc.

On the other hand, PSF began to question the casteist biases built into notions of academic standards and merit. They took up instances of students who were not passed or those who had got less mark. They have highlighted how Dalit students had been excluded from classroom interaction and active student-teacher relationship because of the implicit ease and comfort in their relationship among upper caste teachers and students. This was made possible for the upper castes with their English accent, body language and cultural skills. This has resulted in a severe exclusion and isolation from classroom. As a result, Dalits were considered as students unfit to be students in this ‘prestigious’ university. This process of exclusion and finally awarding grades was made an issue by PSF. This was articulated as one of the important discriminations in academic institutions on the basis of caste. PSF submitted memorandums to authorities, issued pamphlets on these cases and talked to various departments.

PSF was born and had grown in quite a turbulent time in Indian politics. It was bound to negotiate and cope with the various challenges that have come to the forefront during and after Mandal commission agitation. One is the growing communalization of Indian society centred on Babri Masjid demolition. The second one is liberalization and privatisation of the economy and its associated evil impact on the education sector. Thirdly, proliferation of politics based on identities (caste, gender, region, religion, language etc) The campus witnessed endless debates and discussions over communalisation and privatisation issues during that period with education in the central focus. PSF tried to build opinion against the Dunkel proposals through pamphleteering and public discussion. At the time of the Tsundur massacre of Dalits (1991), PSF collected relief to the tune of 80,000 rupees and went over there to stand with the victims of massacre. In the PSF initiated discussions, the then public intellectuals associated with civil liberties and radical left used to participate. The practice of pasting pamphlets on walls has become regular from then onwards. There was never an idea of leaders representing the organization while speaking to authorities. Almost all the members of the organization used to go at once at the time of speaking to authorities. Thus, there was no secrecy and no idea of particular leader heading the organization. PSF has contested elections to the Students’ Union once on its banner. That was the only instance of students contesting elections on behalf of the organization. One of its contestants won as general secretary. During the elections, upper caste groups conducted negative campaign against PSF. The nature of campaign was vilifying. PSF. PSF was blamed for politicising the campus. They were marked as hate categories by branding them as ‘SCs’, ‘Naxalites’, ‘trouble makers’, ‘ violent people’ etc. Strong animosity was built against the PSF. In that situation, one of the members of the PSF spontaneously reacted and thrashed two people who were active in the hate campaign against the PSF. Then the entire campus reacted by moving in hundreds, shouting slogans like down with the gooodaism of PSF. These kinds of mobilizations were quite new to the campus. These kind of isolated instances by Dalits were blown beyond proportions and students asked for rustication or some form of stern punishment. Upper castes demanded for the banning of the organization as well. This is how the upper castes repeatedly responded to isolated instances. Authorities have taken this support as an opportunity to demolish the organization and to silence its political voice. Following this, two important members of the PSF were denied seats in the Ph.D. programme. While protesting this, the authorities deployed the police outside the V.C’s chamber and created terror among the students.
      
By this time, there had already emerged a separate voice of women. A group of women came together to form an organization, Women Students Forum (WSF). This forum mainly comprised students from the English department belonging to other states than AP. They were more vocal, convent educated, urban-based, middle class, independent and confident. They have basically taken up issues of sexual harassment and made explicit the silence surrounding issues relating to women in a situation of apparently joyful life. They have faced lot of negative campaigning with unsigned posters and by actively circulating rumours about them. Once some of the members of WSF were sent pornographic mails, apparently to threaten them and dissuade them from activism. These kinds of techniques with fresh innovations are still followed to dissuade women from activism. Campus had been hostile to issues of women. They haven’t got any kind of support from authorities while facing hostile campaigns. They have brought in patriarchy into the campus political discourse as a critical conceptual tool. There had been a tendency to tie PSF and WSF together by the general public as both were dissenting groups in campus. In some of the issues WSF and PSF worked together.

The decade of nineties is known for the autonomous Dalit movement in Andhra Pradesh. It was also the time around which craving for a strong identity had emerged in Dalit politics. In campus, in PSF the markers of distinction were loose. There has always been scope for non-Dalits participating in it. The ideological, political expression was informed by debates. As against this, Dalits came together and started a separate organization for themselves in the year 1994, with membership exclusively being given to students belonging to SCs and STs. It was named after B.R. Ambedkar, i.e., Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Students Association (hereafter ASA). It involved a separate expression of Dalit political and cultural identity. Students of SC and ST communities have strongly involved and participated in this organization and evolved a new collective life. The PSF was weakened with the shift of support of Dalits to ASA.

Around this time, a separate cultural and literary organization named Visphotana had come into existence. It enabled and encouraged students to write poetry and engage in discussions over current trends in Telugu literature like Dalit, feminist and revolutionary literature. It has conducted seminars, poetry-meets and ran wall magazines containing poems of outstanding Telugu writers as well as poems by students. A considerable number of women students also participated in its activities. This organization became the literary articulation of the agony of many Dalit students and produced a good number of writers in Telugu literature in later times. This literary organization filled the vacuum left by the PSF in negotiating the different political identities of campus.

In the mean time, two shocking incidents happened on campus in the year 1995, one was the suicide of a Dalit women student and the other, a rape of an upper caste woman student on campus. These two incidents generated a lot of political debate among the various groups of students. Students mobilized in their struggle against these incidents with their respective political stand.

A Dalit women named Suneetha had committed suicide after being betrayed by an upper caste student who had promised to marry her. People across political spectrums participated in the beginning. Later PSF, ASA and WSF together led the agitation and had gone to the village of the upper caste student and campaigned in the village to boycott the family of the accused. In support of this,they mobilized the local democratic organizations. An enormous amount of debate took place among the organizations involved in the issues. They have analysed the issue varyingly as per one’s perspective as involving caste or gender as the primary analytical category. ASA considered this issue as primarily a caste issue and later a gender issue. Women Students’ forum considered this issue as primarily gender and then caste. PSF considered this as caste, gender and class issue. Whereas other upper castes considered this as a humanistic issue rather than any other.   Visphotana has brought out a booklet containing the poems written on this issue by the students on campus, named as ‘Suneetha Poddunne Posterai Palakristundi’.

Another incident that lead to a lot of political debate happened on August 15, 1995.  That day, some villagers from one of the villages that surround the University, raped a woman student on campus. The campus as a whole was shocked.  All students agitated for the nabbing of the culprits immediately. There were regular meetings on the campus to discuss the future course of agitation on this issue. The important idea that had come up for discussion was that women should be given leadership as it involves intricate matters relating to women’s dignity and since it is a ‘women issue’. There was another view, predominantly from the men - that there should be equal representation of men and women and described it as ‘human issue’. All the campus organizations were actively participating in this struggle. ASA had put as one of its demands an exgratia of two lakh rupees to the rape victim in its pamphlet supporting the agitation. The demand of exgratia created havoc among the upper caste, middle class women of the campus.  They got irritated. They demanded an apology for mentioning a ‘price for women’s dignity’. In that charged atmosphere one of the faculty commented, ‘we are so insensitive to women, let us accept that all men are bastards, including me’. This caused an enormous frustration among men and a big procession took place to attack that faculty member. They demanded that the faculty member should be suspended immediately. The women students as whole came in support of that particular faculty and from men only few individuals of PSF came in protecting the faculty from a mob attack. That led to huge processions and counter processions over this issue. Men and women were totally divided on this issue. There was no talk between men and women even among friends for a few days. The main issue got sidetracked. The point to note here is that the Dalit students of ASA were compelled to turn against women and upper caste men came in support of ASA in the name of ‘men’s pride’. This reveals inbuilt contradictions and possible political alliances in the given context. In the following elections to the Students’ Union a Dalit student got elected with a huge margin (not a member of ASA) against a woman who contested from the PSF banner who lost. The guess is that women didn’t vote to a women candidate even after such a sharp divide.
Let me explain the issues involved and the functioning of ASA. ASA has gradually become the sole representative voice of the Dalit community on campus. The ways of expressing solidarity among Dalit community has assumed new ways. A huge gathering takes place on the occasion of the birth and death anniversaries of Ambedkar every year. This is the spectacle through which the strength of the Dalits is shown in public. A strong network of Dalit students was established in each and every hostel through forming hostel committees and celebrating Ambedkar anniversaries through them. They continue the fight against attitudes of awarding less marks by upper caste teachers, which PSF had done earlier. They have put sustained pressure on the authorities to follow reservations. They demanded seats for Dalit students in research every year as it has become a common practice in selections to leave the seats of SCs and STs vacant.

To strengthen itself, ASA usually projects the PSF, as a Naxalite leaning students organization. It consciously tried to keep Dalit students out of the fold of PSF. Involvement in PSF was seen to be inviting the unnecessary risk of police involvement. This was to confront with the informed political debates from outside ASA. The speakers invited for the functions were Dalit ministers, successful Dalit officers and Dalit leaders like Katti Padma Rao. Other than the celebration meetings of Ambedkar, it organizes meetings to politicise Dalit students. It confines itself to activities related only to the Dalit community. Ideologically, it defines its position assimilating Marxism with Ambedkarism for the liberation of Dalits. The campus witnessed the confrontation of Dalit students of PSF and ASA on many isolated incidents. More than ideological fights, the conflict was to establish its organizational hold on campus. On many occasions, both worked together also. In later days, PSF was slowly disappearing and the individuals of the earlier active members of PSF remained to mediate various Dalit and women groups in crucial times. Whatever the anti Dalit attitude shown by the students of upper caste at PSF were now turned against ASA.

Within Andhra Pradesh, there emerged the Madiga Dandora, a movement which demanded the categorization of SC reservations between Dalit sub-castes, Madigas, along with some other smaller castes as Madigas, are relatively deprived in accessing the benefits of SC reservations. All over the state, there emerged a phenomenon of separate Madiga organizations. In the University of Hyderabad also, the numerically small Madiga community had gone away from ASA and formed themselves into a separate organization named Dalit Students Union (DSU). This organization has been facing problems due to its numerically less number. ASA remained predominantly a Mala organization. Due to mutual hostilities, these communities could not engage in any negotiations with each other. These communities always organized themselves with reference to other community. DSU too organized along the same lines as ASA.  But the difference was that it involved Madiga leaders and employees. If ASA was supporting one group, DSU used to support another group in the students’ elections by bargaining for one small post like the cultural secretary or joint secretary.

There has always been a stereotype created of Dalits by the upper castes.  This time, the round had come to ASA. ASA has made attempts to take part in the various activities of the University or to actively participate in the affairs of the University. For instance, they wanted to participate as mess secretaries in hostel messes. They want to participate in orchestra by dancing.  They were otherwise left out of all the programmes. They wanted to make their presence more visible. When they participated as mess secretaries, they were projected as corrupt. Anybody can be corrupt, but projecting it as the character of the community lead to a situation of hostility and confrontation. When they participated in the University functions like orchestra, they were projected as troublemakers and creators of terror. There are other stereotypes in circulation as scholarship holders swallowing govt. money etc. They are also portrayed as violent people. These stereotypes cannot be changed without public articulation. The major problem of the campus Dalit politics is that when one articulates the problem of Dalits in public they are bound to be stereotyped, ridiculed and made to be defeated in a deeply entrenched casteist society. There was no other possible way to convince the public except to thrash and scold out of hopelessness and bitterness. This is again branded as violence and the entire community is depicted as violent. It appears that there is no possibility of going beyond this in the near future. It needs a deep politicisation from both sides. For Dalits, language (English skills) and sophistication is always a problem to express themselves for their genuine justified positions in the public space of University.


The upper caste students do not need any organization or agitation since their interests are always safeguarded by the University system. The nexus between students-teachers-administration of upper caste is very strong. The whole system is totally dominated by them. So, their interests are taken care of by this dominant system. They project themselves as ‘against politics’ and ‘only for academics’. The imagined threat from the Dalit students too is not ruled out. After the AMCF, there was no organization formed for upper caste students, though spontaneously they responded in many issues in the name of ‘students’. In late nineties, there were efforts from the upper castes to start organizations. ‘Discovery’ and ‘Bermuda’ are such organizations and which later formed as ABVP. Both ‘Discovery’ and ‘Bermuda’ doesn’t have any formal structures. They propagate and circulate stereotypes about Dalits and women through secret posters. Especially the ‘Bermuda’ publishes secret, vulgar posters particularly aimed at womens’ activities. These stereotypes are actively propagated in their informal conversations. They never come in public. But ‘Discovery’ group organizes public seminars with figures like Arun Shourie, Gurumurthy of Swadeshi Jagaran Munch etc. Discovery has also been organizing RSS sakhas in campus. These two groups are active mobilisers and leaders whenever there is a procession against Dalits. They used to mobilize upper caste vote and also played a crucial role in choosing candidates from the upper caste side. They have also developed a strategy to place Dalit, Muslim or women candidates loyal to the Hindutva ideology to nullify the claims of these actual groups articulating on behalf of them. With the Hindutva forces in power, they created an atmosphere to formally begin a branch of the pro-Hindutva,  upper caste ABVP in campus. Both upper caste students and the administration had by then picked up courage to confront and negate Dalit students  on campus.  This happened in the early years of this decade. 

Apart from this, University Discussion Forum (UDF), a liberal upper caste organization, with leanings towards the CPI (M) is active on campus and had managed to win the Students Union elections. Though progressive, its strength lies in deliberately keeping away from ASA, otherwise it will lose its upper caste base.

On 13th January 2002, ten Dalit research scholars of ASA were rusticated from University of Hyderabad for allegedly beating the chief warden and another warden. The rustication of students was unprecedented either in this University or any other Universities of the country. This has once again shown the vulnerable situation of Dalits even in a modern liberal institution like the University. This has invited protests from Dalits and other democratic forces all over the country. This incident is a culminating point for Dalit politics over a period of a decade in the University of Hyderabad. It provides an occasion to retrospectively look at the complex and torturous journey of Dalit politics spanning over more than a decade in an elite University.
 
In course of time, the campus is aligned in the lines of United Democratic Alliance (ASA, DSU, Women’s Collective, United Students Forum, collectively known as UDA), UDF and ABVP at the time of the Students’ Union general elections of 2005. UDF panel got elected over UDA and marginalized ABVP. The successive defeats of ABVP made them to install the portrait of Vivekananda in hostels (as a propaganda measure), which became a point of controversy. ABVP justified this as an honour to a national youth leader. The other organizations UDA and UDF oppose this as an issue of ABVP’s effort to communalisation of campus. Vivekanada was considered as a symbol of Hindutva appropriated by Hindu communal forces. ASA has taken a stand that Vivekananda should be opposed as a Brahminical ideologue who supported the caste system.  The undercurrent of struggle over symbols is an act of political assertion of social groups of the campus. The ABVP poses a question logically, when the portrait of Ambedkar is allowed, why not Vivekananda? All these reflect the struggles at a symbolic level between the students of progressive, lower caste and upper castes.      


The entry of the Dalits into the space of the University not just built a more creative space within the political atmosphere of the University.  It has actually reshaped the intellectual output from the Social Sciences and Humanities departments.  Though the upper caste teachers/scholars repeatedly blame the Dalits for “bringing down” the academic standards, the truth is that, the insistent intellectual questioning by Dalit scholars have actually redefined these very disciplines.  University of Hyderabad, in that sense, is a pioneering institution that has created many ground breaking dissertations from the nascent Dalit scholarship.  It has been quite a fertile ground for production of a thriving Dalit intelligentia, both women and men who are still actively contributing to the literary, cultural, and scholarly fields.  The University students and alumni very often provide the political leadership for Dalit struggles in AP.  
   
                   

  

Friday, June 17, 2016

An Overview of Contemporary Telugu Poetry

An Overview of Contemporary Telugu Poetry
P. Kesava Kumar
 Professor in Philosophy, Delhi University, Delhi

Telugu society has always been a land of struggles. These struggles have naturally had their impact on the Telugu literary production. In intellectual realm, the contradictions of the society are opened up and articulated through literature. The class struggles are followed by the identity politics. The last quarter of the century has witnessed the movements that have mobilized women, dalits, Muslims, and the people of Telangana for a democratic and human society. These new social movements have been critical about organized struggles and philosophies of both traditionalism and Marxism. In fact, the new social movements are well articulated through literature. This new literature has changed the ideological landscape of literature.  The language, idiom, style and aesthetics have been refreshed and redefined in much more concretely. This new literature has set the agenda of politics of change. Poetry becomes a medium for the emerging new intellectuals of Telugu society to express their anger and social aspirations in contesting the dominance and hegemony. The Contemporary Telugu poetry of feminist, dalit, and Muslim is fully committed to their own social experience and celebrated the dignity, self-respect and pride. The literature has been much closer to life.
Against Feudalism: Progressive Literature
In Telugu society, the progressive literature (Abhyudhava and Viplava) inspired by the Marxism has set the standards and canons of literature. It is a revolt against the ‘classical literature’ (Sampradaya sahityam) and romantic literature (Bhava Kavitvam) of 1920-1940. The progressive literature took new turn in 1970s by identifying with ongoing revolutionary struggles. The revolutionary literature (Viplva samityam) has had its mark till 1980s. The poets rebelled against the ideology of fascism, feudalism and capitalism in support of new democracy and socialism.   The progressive poetry mostly revolved around the themes of ‘humanism’, ‘revolution’ and ‘classless society’ (rythu coolie rajyam). The poet, Sri Sri is the iconic figure of this tradition. Apart from progressive literature, we too find different streams of Telugu poetry such as Anubhuthi(Experiential) and  digambara (Nude). However, in all these literary traditions, the writers and readers were mostly drawn from the category of the upper caste middle class male. The entire literary discourse is centred on either abstract human being or class by erosive of cultural markers such as caste, gender, religion and region. From 1980s onwards with the rise of conscious intellectuals from the lower castes and women exposed the shallowness of the ‘modernity’ and ‘progressiveness’ adopted by the literary world. In this process, they not only questioned the canons of literature but also dismissed the celebrated Telugu progressive modernists.
                                                                 
Feminist Poetry against Patriarchy 
From 1985 onwards, feminist poetry came as a strong dissenting voice against patriarchal structure that mainly responsible for oppression and exploitation of women. By 1990, feminist poetry has established as a different genre of Telugu literature. Feminist poetry is a frontal attack on stereotype images of women, sexuality, gender discrimination and male domination. Private space such as home, kitchen becomes public discourse. Through the literary craft, the feminist writers punctured the myth of body, pativravytam (chastity), motherhood and domestic labour and argued for freedom. The tales of unconcerned personal life   got political articulation through this poetry. Neelimeghalu (Blue clouds, 1993), Gurichoosi Pade Pata are the earlier collective anthologies of feminist poetry. Jayaprabha (Yuddhonmukhamga(1986), Vaamanudi Moodo Paadam (1988), Ikkada Kurisina Varsham Ekkadi Meghanidi (1991) and Yasodharaa Yee Vagapemduke (1993), Kondepudi Nirmala (Nadileche Gayalu, Hrudayaniki Bahuvachanam), Vimala (Adavi Vuppongina Ratri)  Volga, Vasanta Kannabiran, Mahe Jabeen, Patibandla Rajini, Ghantasala Nirmala, Revathi Devi, Silololitha, S.Jaya, K. Geetha, Savitri, Mokkapati Sumathi , Mandavarapu Hymavathi, Ravulapalli Suneetha, K.Varalakshmi, B.Padmavathi, Challapalli Swaroopa Rani (Mankena Poovu), M. M. Vinodini, Jupaka Subhadra, Jelli Indira are among the prominent feminist poets of Telugu literary world. The feminist poetry rebelled against the prejudiced social rules in male dominated society: The movement I am told/ it will burn me,/I want to embrace the sun. /Just once... That’s how I am. /I always want to do/What’s prohibited (Mahe Jabeen, Physical Geography).They retaliated  against the sexist outlook of society by asserting themselves: Looks/From two eyes/dart like needles/roam freely on lumps of flesh…..A day shall come/when women in this country have/thorns/not only in their eyes/but all over their bodies  (Jayaprabha,  Choopulu(Gaze)). Dalit women poets came as internal critics of feminist poetry by bringing into the issue of caste oppression faced by dalit women along gender discrimination. As dalit feminist writer says: When has my life been truly mine/In the home male arrogance/sets my cheek stinging/while in the street caste arrogance/splits the other cheek open (Challapalli Swaroopa Rani, Mankena Poovu)
Dalit Poetry for fistful of Self-Respect   
Dalit literary movement came in the backdrop of dalit struggles against caste atrocities, especially against the Karamchedu (1985) and Chunduru massacres (1991).  The quest for the search of their own Dalit identity makes dalit poets to broaden the literary horizons. They declared that we will write about ourselves. Ideologically they confronted with both Brahmanism and alternative ideologies such as Marxism. They opened up the issue of caste as primary social reality and penned for casteless society. The condemned symbols and life styles are converted into symbols of protest. They performed the poetry by invoking the collective social memory. They introduced the dalit language to the Telugu public against textual and sanskritised Telugu.
The early 1990s poetry anthologies, Chikkanavvutunna Pata (Thickening Song, 1995), Dalit Manifesto (1995), Padunekkina Pata (Sharpened Song, 1996) are set the tone for dalit poetry. At this historical juncture debated: Who is dalit? What constitutes dalit literature? This controversy resolved in course of time by considering whatever is written by the Dalits with their conscious social experience is only qualified to be Dalit literature. Ambedkarism becomes the ideology of dalit literature.
Dalit movement has produced many promising young poets. Dalit leaders have become poets. Madduri Nagesh Babu((Veliwada,(Untouchable Locality,1997), Meerevutlu?(What People Are You?,1998), Rachabanda(Village Square,1997), Naraloka Prarthana ( A Prayer of This World, 2002), Vidi Aakasam(A Separate Sky,1999)), Kalekuri Prasad, Pydi Teresh Babu ((Alpapeedanam(Depression in the Ocean,1999)), Hindu Maha Samudram(The Great Hindu ocean,1999), Nenu Naa Vintalamari Prapamcham (Me and My world of Wonders,2007), Satish Chander (Panchama Vedam( The Fifth Veda, 1995)), Kathi Padma Rao(( Nallakaluva (Black Lotus,1996 ) Bhhomi Bhasha, Kattelamopu)), Bojja Tarakam((Nadiputtina Gonthuka (The Voice that gave Birth to the River, 1983), K.G.Satyamurthy alias Sivasagar (Nadustunna Charitra, The Ongoing History,2004), Gaddar (Gaddar Patalu), Gorati Venkanna, Masterjee, Yendluri Sudhakar ((Varthamanam,   The Present,1985, Vargeekaranam(Categorization)),Sikhamani ((Chilaka Koyya (The Wooden Hanger, 1993), Nagappagari Sunderraju (Chandala Chatimpu), Vemula Yellaiah, Challapalliswarooparani (Manankena Poovu), Salandra, Sambhuka, Thullamalli Wilson Sudhakar, M M Vinodini, Joopaka Subhadra, Darla Venkateswara Rao         ( Dalita Tatvikudu), G.V.Ratnkar (Matti Palaka), P.C Ramulu, Juluri Gowrisankar, Prasada Murthy.

Dalit poets protested against the social practice of untouchability and raised their voice for fistful for self-respect: ‘I am still a prohibited human being/Mine is an expelled breath/ ..The moment he left a mark of prohibition on my face/My race/Was gradually murdered   (Yendluri Sudhakar, The Present).  I’m the wound of the people, a communion of wounds./For ages, a slave in a free country,/subject to insult, atrocity, rape, torture,/someone raising his head for a fistful of self respect./My very existence in this nation, drunk on caste and wealth,/is a protest( Kalekuri Prasad, For a Fistful of Self-respect). The poets constructed the counter history against the figures of Brahminical mythology by invoking alternative symbols like Ekalavya, Sambuka (Siva Sagar, Nadustunna Charitra). From the stubs of those thumbs there now sprout nibs of steel/ to write history anew. ((Sikhamani, Vade Asuddha Manavudu (That Fellow is the unclean Human being, 1984)). Dalit poetry is determined against brahmanical history and their writing is committed in demanding the citizenship and social justice which is denied for generations: In this Country we want a piece of land/These clouds has to be vanished/These walls must be collapsed/…I want real citizenship/will you give it?...I want a touch/I want you to shake my hand with your heart (Madduri Nagesh Babu, What do I want?). They further cautioned the nation that without the labour of dalit communities, this country could not flourish. With pride they declared that this nation was produced out of their labour ( Juluri Gowri Shankar,. Padamudralu,( Foot Prints)).

Sharpening of Identity Politics: Madiga, Muslim and Telangana Poetry

With the assertion of new identities such as Madiga, Muslim and Telangana , the terrain of Telugu literature too has changed remarkably. Dalit literature too has undergone significant transformation with further assertion of social constituents of dalit category by 2000s. Madiga poetry (Madiga Chaitanyam), Bahujana Poetry (Ventade Kalalu , Poetry of Backward Castes) are further democratised the dalit poetry. Muslim poetry has emerged as a new literary genre after the Gujarat massacre with the poetry anthology, Jala Jala.  With the demolition of Babri Masjid , Muslim community has  been pushed to  insecurity and terrified further with Gujarat massacre. In the context of self insulation of community, Telugu Muslim poetry opened up the ongoing anger and uncertainty of Muslim community through poetry.  As Reflecting on this situation : Long before I was born/my name was listed among traitors….Yes, my birthmark is me/my existence, my citizenship/It’s my ancestral property/inherited from the earth/the sky, the air/the surroundings I live in/ It’s a wound that never heals( Khadar Mohiuddin, Puttumacha (Birthmark,1991)). The Muslim poets through their poetry not only depicted the insecurity and ill-treatment of the community and narrated the tale of social economic backwardness of the community.  Skybaba ( Jaljala (Ed), 1998), Khaza (Fatwa), Shajahana (Nakhab), Anwar (Aja (Ed.) ), Iqbal chand (Black Voice, 1995), Khasim Shaik, Afsar (Valasa (Migration)), Yakoob (Sarihaddu Rekha (Borderline)), Haneef, Mahe Jabeeen are some of the prominent poets of Muslim poetry.
Telangana poetry has been established in the backdrop of struggle for separate Telangana state. This poetry is a celebration of the pride of Telangana and its culture against the exploitation of this region. The aspirations for Telangana people were well articulated through the cultural and literary forms. Dalit, Bahujan, Muslim and Women writers and cultural performers played a key role in Telangana literature. The dalit performer poets Gaddar, Gorati Venkanna, and Andesree culturally set the political tone of separate Telangana. At present Telugu poetry is at crossroads looking at the democratic path to move ahead. 
                                                                                               

Saturday, June 13, 2015


        Madras: New Cinema of Dalit Genre

                                     Prof.P. Kesava Kumar 




Pa. Ranjith’s film Madras is a unique film in the history of Tamil Cinema and creating new genre of films. This is both realistic and political cinema that captures the life of slums of the city. In other words, it is a filming of rhythm of everyday life and struggles of dalits of the city that includes joy, struggle, violence, politics and love. There are many reviews about the film that appraising the life of slum (Housing board) of North Chennai for its crude realistic narration. The film is explicit in bringing the identity of the characters and their social locations rather keeping obscure as the case with popular cinema but nobody wants speak in these realistic terms. This is political film of dalits searching for their own space in otherwise dominated by Dravidian parties. The political space of dalits is not given. For this they have to struggle to negotiate with existing space to create a space of their own. The control over the wall, symbolizes the power in public sphere. This is an ordinary love story having the backdrop of politics, violence, emotions and poverty. Altogether, it is Pa. Ranjith’s well crafted commercial, realistic and political dalit cinema.
 



This film is unique in many ways in the film history of Indian cinema in general and Tamil cinema in Particular. This is a political cinema that differs with the political genre of Mani Ratnam, Shankar and Ramagopal  Verma as it revolves around the urban slum dwelling dalit youth. It is realistic and politically sensitive apart from a regular love story. We can feel this difference in every frame of the film, of its music, dialect and body language. The film sutured with dalit grammar. The film depicts the life of Vyasarapadi   Huda colony of f North Chennai, which is the hub of dalits. The film consciously worked out that Vyasarpadi (North Chennai) is not a home of gangsters as generally viewed from outside but people with political spirit. The film revolves in the backdrop of conflicts of Dravidian politics in the city. But presents the search of political space of dalits within larger politics and also make an effort to have their own autonomous political space.  The contestation of the power is symbolically seen through the undercurrent theme of the film, that is, struggle for wall. The wall is used as metaphor in this film.  Every dalit struggles of the city culminated in the claims of political articulation through an assertion of ‘This wall is ours’. The wall is used for political writing. It also reflects not only visibility of the dalits in public space but also control over that space. The hero represents the urban educated (software engineer) youth from this locality but not alienated from the roots of everyday life of Dalit colony in the city. He was caught in the political conflict and he wants to leave for the political aspirations of the community in that locality. He believes that friendship means not only sharing the ambitions of one’s own life but politics too. The girl he loves is politically active than him. She is a daughter of   Ambedkarite and also involves in struggles. Her role presented as an active heroine rather a glamorous doll. We can feel the ruggedness of urban dalit life very much reflected in the film, weather it is foot ball, music or dance. ‘The Blue boys’ of the film reminds   the Afro American music. The character Johnny (mentally disturbed) was effectively used as symbol of political satire of slum dwelling against wretched earth. The love and sex of Mary and Anbu was as natural as their son Ronaldo.  The dalit hero of this Untouchable spring firmly believes that we are not born to die but also have to live with pride, if necessary by eliminating our enemies. Madras is a new cinema of dalit genre proved even commercially successful. Indian Cinema has to move in their direction, there is no other way.

 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ambedkar's Conception of Equality



Ambedkar’s Conception of Equality 


                                                            Dr. P. Kesava Kumar

Equality is a central concept in a political thought. Equality is an egalitarian principle. Historically, the demand for equality has its justification on many grounds. It came to forefront as the moral or rational critique of society. Sullivan viewed the idea of equality as fundamental value of life. Human history witnessed many struggles against existing inequalities. Equality presupposes the democracy. The political thinkers recognized that formal equality of citizenship is not enough for substantial and meaningful life. Dahl defines democracy in terms of substantial equality in political resources. Barber argues that democracy is the politics of equality. Robert Post too argues that democracy requires that persons be treated equally insofar as they are autonomous participants in the process of self government. Democracy requires an equality of democratic agency. At the same time democracy and equality are mutually reinforcing and mutually antagonistic. At root, a deep theoretical tension exists between democracy and various notions of distributive justice that seek to protect the moral equality of citizens. Insofar as democracy is a form of government committed to self-determination, democracy must also encompass self-determination about the meaning of the moral equality of citizens. Democracy is an ideal for human beings because it is the only form of society which at once depends upon and provides for the organization of free communication. It demands equality, because it is only as equals that men can communicate; it values the individual, because it is only the individual in his difference from others who has anything to communicate to them, and because it is only the freely communicating individual who is fully rational and the source of creativity. John Dewey has said that shared experience is the greatest of human goods. Like all moral goods, it is at once an end in itself and a necessary condition for the realization of all other goods. Equality as a moral ideal is crucial for realization of democratic political value, especially in a society where inequalities are internalized.



The philosophers visualized egalitarian society based on their conception of equality. In eighteenth century the intellectual scheme explains that the existing inequalities are experienced as an intolerable burden and struggles for equality develops. Society generates unfreedom and inequalities of power, status and wealth, thus destroys the natural state of freedom and equality. Locke came with a theory of natural rights. Thinkers of social contract, Locke and Rousseau believed that individual surrendered his/her natural freedom and equality to the state for the sake of economic cooperation and physical safety. Individualism, with its claim for equality and freedom is later historical phenomenon. The thinking of social contract assumes that the accomplishment of common purposes necessitates the voluntary surrender of primary, natural equality and freedom to social inequalities. This ideological scheme underlies most modern thinking about equality and inequality. Against the rigid and hierarchical social structures and its inbuilt inequalities emerged equalitarianism, individualism and libertarianism as an egalitarian value system. They began as a phenomenon of change. The premodern societies characterized with unfreedom, inequality, suppression and restriction of individuals. These restrictions were presumed to be rooted in divine, or natural, order and not viewed as oppressive. When reason is applied to this order, the hierarchy requires rational legitimation and justification. It must appear to conform to principles of justice. In premodern times, such justification was based on ascription: differentials of power, status and wealth were derived from inherent characteristics such as ancestry, birth or caste; people were privileged or underprivileged be-cause of what they were and not for what they accomplished. The modern Western industrial society replaced ascription by achievement: differences were justified by the degree to which different individuals attained social goals and values. Ascriptive aristocracy was replaced by a meritocracy wherein merit consisted of achieving that which society valued most. Hierarchies based on ascription are also more rigid, whereas those based on achievement allow up-wards, and downwards, mobility; one can never change what one is, but one can change one's social position by achievement and performance. Achievement replacing ascription as the legitimizing principle went hand in hand with a class struggle. Achievement replacing ascription as the legitimizing principle went hand in hand with a class struggle. The bourgeoisie, in its struggle with the aristocracy in England and with the Ancient regime in France, attacked the traditional ascriptive inequalities through their demand for liberty and equality. The ideal of equality had the socio-historical function of attacking the existing inequalities, but it led, in turn, to new inequalities based on achievement. Achievement of economic success gradually replaced ascriptive salvation; economic performance became the source of individual worth. It is important to understand that this transition from an ascriptive to an achievement-oriented society took place hand in hand with the emergence of capitalism.

There is a long tradition of combining the values of individualism with equality. One of the doctrines associated with individualism is the natural sovereignty of each person. We are not born masters and servants, rulers and ruled. All are born free; no one may claim natural authority over another. Individualism is a doctrine which emphasizes the dignity and worth of each individual; Egalitarianism is powerfully represented in recent moral and political philosophy. John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, and Thomas Nagel have defended views that count as egalitarian. An egalitarian theory might be based on an appeal to equality itself as a moral ideal.



Like virtue theorists such as Kant, Ambedkar considers man as an end himself/herself and used as instrument of means. Ambedkar endorses the Beard view of equality expressed in Freedom in Political Thought. Equality has differently understood in applying for human societies in comparison with mathematical notion of equality. Equality has to be understood with the fundamental characteristics that are common to humanity. These characteristics may be named as primordial qualities or biological necessities. As a matter of emphasis one may point out inequalities in physical strength, in artistic skill, in material wealth, or in mental capacity. But it remain fact that fundamental characteristics appear in all human beings. Their nature and manifestations are summed up in a phrase ‘moral equality’. By emphasizing on moral equality Ambedkar is critical about the supporters of inequality, who argues that in physical strength, talents, and wealth, human beings are not equal. No rational exponent of moral equality has even disputed the existence of obvious inequalities among human beings, even when he has pointed out inequalities, which may be ascribed to tyranny or institutional prescriptions. The Declaration of Independence does not assert that all men are equal; it proclaims that they are ‘created’' equal. Ambedkar holds that in essence the phrase ' moral equality ' asserts in ethical value, a belief to be sustained, and recognition of rights to be respected. Its validity cannot be demonstrated as a problem in mathematics can be demonstrated. It is asserted against inequalities in physical strength, talents, industry, and wealth. It denied that superior physical strength has a moral right to kill, eat, or oppress human beings merely because it is superior. To talents and wealth, the ideal of moral equality makes a similar denial of right. And indeed few can imagine themselves to have superior physical strength, talents and wealth will withhold from inferiors all moral rights… A society without any respect for human personalities is a band of robbers.

The objections to equality may be sound and one may have to admit that all men are not equal. But what of that? Equality may be a fiction but nonetheless one must accept it as the governing principle. A. man's power is dependent upon (1) physical heredity, (2) social inheritance or endowment in the form of parental care, education, accumulation of scientific knowledge, everything which enables him to be more efficient than the savage, and finally, (3) on his own efforts. In all these three respects men are undoubtedly unequal. But the question is, shall we treat them as unequal because they are unequal? This is a question which the opponents of equality must answer. From the standpoint of the individualist it may be just to treat men unequally so far as their efforts are unequal. It may be desirable to give as much incentive as possible to the full development of every one's powers. But what would happen if men were treated unequally as they are, in the first two respects? It is obvious that those individuals also in whose favour there is birth, education, family name, business connections and inherited wealth would be selected in the race. But selection under such circumstances would not be a selection of the able. It would be the selection of the privileged. The reason therefore, which forces that in the third respect we should treat men unequally demands that in the first two respects we should treat men as equally as possible. On the other hand it can be urged that if it is good for the social body to get the most out of its members, it can get most out of them only by making them equal as far as possible at the very start of the race. That is e reason why we cannot escape equality. This position reminds the Rawl’s theory of equal opportunity. According to John Rawls justice is the first virtue of social institution. Rawls affirms an Equal Liberty Principle that guarantees equal basic or constitutional liberties for all citizens and a Difference Principle that requires inequalities in the distribution of certain social and economic benefits, the primary social goods, to be set so that the long-term holdings of primary social goods are maximized for the citizens whose holdings are least. The Fair Equality of Opportunity Principle holds that social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity. In other words, institutions should be arranged so that any two persons with the same native talent and the same ambition should have the same prospects of success in the competition for positions of advantage that distribute primary social goods. The combination between egalitarianism and justification of inequalities was achieved by the idea of equality of opportunity. It contains an element of equalitarianism; everybody is supposed to begin at the same starting line; but the inequalities that emerge in the competitive struggle are accepted. The idea of equality of opportunity makes possible the representation of the resulting unequal income distribution as just: because of initial equality, the resulting inequalities are supposedly based on merit. The idea of equality of opportunity can serve its purpose to justify existing inequalities only if one believes every-one has an equal start and accepts the resulting inequalities as meritorious. Both beliefs are open to grave doubts. There are obvious flaws in the assumption of an equal start; differences in environment, background, education and other factors distribute the chances very unevenly, indeed.



Ambedkar poses certain questions: Does the Hindu social order recognise the individual? Does it recognize his distinctiveness his moral responsibility? Does it recognise him as an end in himself, as a subject not merely of disabilities but also of rights even against the State? The Hindu social order does not recognise the individual as a centre of social purpose. For the Hindu social order is based primarily on class or Varna and not on individuals. In the Hindu social order, there is no room for individual merit and no consideration of individual justice. If the individual has a privilege it is not because it is due to him personally. The privilege goes with the class and if he is found to enjoy it, it is because he belongs to that class. The disability is the disability imposed upon the class and if he is found to be labouring under it, it is because he belongs to that class. It refuses to recognise that men no matter how profoundly they differ as individuals in capacity and character, are equally entitled as human beings to consideration and respect wellbeing of a society. The Hindu social order is reared on three principles. Among these the first and foremost is the principle of graded inequality. The second principle on which the Hindu social order is founded is that of fixate of occupations for each class and continuance there of by heredity. The third principle on which the Hindu social order is founded is the fixation of people within their respective classes. The hindu social order is based on graded inequality. This scheme has designed and protected to maintain social inequality. The Hindu social order leaves no choice to the individual. It fixes his occupation. It fixes his status. All that remains for the individual to do is to conform him self to these regulations. Ambedkar observed that the principle of graded inequality has been carried into the economic field. ‘From each according to his ability; to each according to his need’ is not the principle of Hindu social order. The principle of the Hindu social order is: From each according to his need. To each according to his nobility. Every side of social life is protected against the danger of equality.



Ambedkar concludes that inequality is the soul of Hinduism. Inequality is the official doctrine of Brahmanism and the suppression of the lower classes aspiring to equality has been looked upon by them and carried out by them, without remorse as their bounded duty. For in Hinduism inequality is a religious doctrine adopted and conscientiously preached as a sacred dogma. Inequality for the Hindus is a divinely prescribed way of life as a religious doctrine and as a prescribed way of life, it has become incarnate in Hindu Society and is shaped and moulded by it in its thoughts and in its doings. In the Philosophy of Hinduism the interests of the common man as well as of society are denied, suppressed and sacrificed to the interest of this class of Supermen. The Brahmin or the Superman of the Hindu social order was entitled to certain privileges.



Man must grow materially as well as spiritually. Society has been aiming to lay a new foundation was summarised by the French Revolution in three words, Fraternity, Liberty and Equality. The French Revolution was welcomed because of this slogan. It failed to produce equality. We welcome the Russian Revolution because it aims to produce equality. But it cannot be too much emphasised that in producing equality society cannot afford to sacrifice fraternity or liberty. Equality will be of no value without fraternity or liberty. It seems that the three can coexist only if one follows the way of the Buddha. Communism can give one but not all.

For Ambedkar, the source for equality lies in dhamma of Budhism in his work Budha and his Dhamma .Dhamma to be a sadhamma must promote equality between man and man. Religion must uphold equality otherwise it is not worth having. The religion is better which promotes the happiness of others simultaneously with the happiness of oneself and tolerates no oppression. The religion of the Buddha is perfect justice springing from a man's own meritorious disposition.



Hinduism is inimical to equality, antagonistic to liberty and opposed to fraternity. According to Ambedkar, justice has always evoked ideas of equality, of proportion of compensation. Equity signifies equality. Rules and regulations, right and righteousness are concerned with equality in value. If all men are equal, then all men are of the same essence, and the common essence entitles them of the same fundamental rights and equal liberty… in short justice is another name of liberty, equality and fraternity.

For Ambedkar, the roots of democracy lie not in the government but in social relations. In social relations are hierarchical, inequal, oppressive and exploitative in caste society. He maintains that the preconditions for the success of democracy are that there must not be glaring inequalities in society and there must be statutory provisions to mitigate the sufferings and safeguard the interests of the oppressed. The society must be based on the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity in order to ensure social endosmosis. Therefore, Dr. Ambedkar, while speaking on “conditions precedent for the successful working of Democracy”, in Poona, emphasized that, “The first condition which I think is a condition precedent for the successful working of democracy is that there must be no glaring inequities in the society. There must not be an oppressed class. There must not be a suppressed class. There must not be a class which has got the entire privileges ad a class which has got all the burdens to carry. Such a thing, such a division, such an organization of society has within itself the germs of a bloody revolution and perhaps it would be impossible for democracy to cure them.”According to him, economic inequalities are inherent in the capitalist economy which makes political equality assured by democracy worthless. Thus, according to Ambedkar, the failure to recognize that political democracy cannot succeed where there is no social and economic democracy has vitiated parliamentary democracy.

Ambedkar maintained that though “parliament democracy developed a passion for liberty, it never made a nodding acquaintance with equality. It failed to realize the significance of equality and did not even endeavor to strike a balance between liberty and equality, with the result that liberty swallowed equality and left a progeny of inequalities”

“A political democracy without an economic and social democracy is an invitation to trouble and danger”. Social democracy alone can assure to the masses the right to liberty, equality and fraternity. So, democracy is not only a form of government but a way of life through which social justice can be established.

Ambedkar firmly believed that political democracy cannot succeed without social and economic democracy. In his concept of democracy, he opined that political democracy is not an end in itself, but the most powerful means to achieve the social and economic ideals in society. Associated life is consensual expression of shared experience, aspirations and values.

This is to conclude that Ambedkar has not only philosophically conceptualized the concept of equality and also demanded and fought for equality. He has negotiated with western theories of equality from Indian social context. Like social contract thinkers Locke and Rousseau argues that by virtue of human beings, he/she has certain inalienable natural rights. All human beings are equal. He further carried with Kant by considering human beings are end in themselves and not used as a means. He upholds the notion of universal rationality that upholds the morality and dignity. Like in the west, Ambedkar too argues for individualism against orthodox religion and demands to recognize the worth and merit of the individual. He too combines the individualism with a sense of equality and freedom.