In this interview, central secretariat member of the Dalit Human Rights Movement, Seleena Prakkanam talks about struggles and leadership and caste issues. Seleena Prakkanam represents a new generation of women
political leaders from the dalit and adivasi communities who have
entered politics through oppositional civil social activism largely
outside formal politics in Kerala. She entered public life
as the leader of a local self-help group (SHG), a part of the
Kudumbashree, the statewide network of women’s SHGs created
by the State Poverty Eradication Mission.
The responses from artists who call themselves Dalits point out that 'one has to be a Dalit to do Dalit art'. There are others using Dalit themes and issues in their art. They would not come under the category called 'Dalit art'. Similarly, counter questions like what about the art of those who belong to the Dalit category but his/her work of art is devoted to conventional themes which have little or nothing to do with the Dalit experience? Critical questions have been engaged here to identify aspects of experience and ideological wishes of the Dalits who wish to portray certain themes or aspects in their own way.
Gagan Sethi is quite an imposing personality, with a deep baritone that almost always means business. Starting off as a student at St. Xavier's, Sethi initially worked with the Behavioral Science Center, a unit of St. Xavier's that was working with Dalit farmers. Remembering his early days, Sethi smiles and shakes his head dismissively. “I was this young boy from Delhi, experiencing the concept of un-touchability for the first time.”
Kanshi Ram: Champion of the poor
Kanshi Ram will be remembered as someone who almost completely changed the rules of Indian politics over the last two decades. Few political analysts would disagree that his unique brand of social engineering and organisational skills succeeded in uniting India's low caste Dalit community into a formidable political force in several states. In the process he built a new constituency for himself and his Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Even his political enemies - including those who suffered from the emergence of the BSP - acknowledge that politics in substantial parts of northern India can never been the same again.
The first quarter of the twentieth century could be noted as a significant transformation period for the untouchable communities all over south India and particularly in Andhra where they encountered the Aryan Hindu scripture- based society. The "Non-Aryan Theory had been developed and sought a new place in society. They applied the concept of ‘Adi’ to represent their own communities, the term Adi indicates as the ‘First Born’ or ‘Original Inhabitants’ of that region or the original sons of the soil. In other words, the prefix, Adi denoted that they were vanquished by the Aryan nomads.
Education is always a must and essential for Dalits. My education was like a battle. I had to fight for it, in fact. Since, though I am a girl, my parents gave my education greater importance than that was given to my brothers. So, my brothers had to work hard so as to earn the money and spend the same on my education. It was only with the help of my entire family including my brothers that I had completed my intermediate studies withstanding all hardship. Including lot of hurdles and immense societal pressure, that was all there, pestering and forcing my father to give up sending me to college studies only for the reason that we are Dalits.
Jotiba Phule is hailed as the father of the depressed castes and non-Brahmins movements in south India, for he was the first Indian leader to start a movement for the removal of the social and economic ills of the lower castes suffered for ages. Phule endeavoured to secure social equality and social justice for the depressed castes of Maharashtra such as the Mahar, Mang, Dhed and Chamar who occupied the lowest social status in the Hindu social hierarchy.
Sri Narayana Guru was a great social reformer. He fought against caste and untouchability. He resented all meaningless customs and practices which stood very much in the way of economic and moral progress of the Ilavas of south India. He uncompromising stood against casteism, and the bold messages he gave to his followers, resulted in a social transformation of long-standing effect, particularly in the state of Kerala.
Meet India's first Dalit billionaire Rajesh Saraiya might be a name that is not known to many but for the people of his community, he is their superhero. Rajesh is India's first Dalit billionaire. "People have to change from inside. They have to change their ideology, their mentality and look around the world for what is happening. There are so many
'I was one of India's unclean Dalits ... now I am a millionaire' Mr Pippal, 60, owns a hospital, a shoe factory, a car dealership and a publishing company. He has six cars. He lives in a maze of linked apartments in a quiet if dusty neighbourhood of high walls and wrought-iron gates. As far back as he can remember, people told Hari Kishan Pippal that he was unclean, with a filthiness that had tainted his family for centuries. Teachers forced him to sit apart from other students. Employers sometimes did not bother to pay him.