Dalit Social Activitists

Amalprava Das
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Amalprava Das
Born 12 November 1911
DibrugarhAssam, India
Occupation Social worker
Known for Social service
Parent(s) Hare Krishna Das
Hema Prabha Das
Awards Padma Shri

Amalprava Das, also known as Amal Prabha Das, was an Indian social worker, Gandhian and the founder of Kasturba Ashram at Sarania Hills, Assam, a self help group for women and their economic upliftment and Guwahati Yubak Sevadal, a non governmental organization working for the social development of harijans. The Government of India honoured her in 1954, with the award of Padma Shri, the fourth highest Indian civilian award for her contributions to the society, placing her among the first recipients of the award. A recipient of the 1981 Jamnalal Bajaj Award, Das was honoured again by the Government of India with the second highest civilian award of Padma Vibhushan which she declined to accept.(Wikipedia)


Amal Prabha Das was a reformer and Gandhian who along with her mother, Hemaprabha Das, set up a Sabarmati-style ashram in the Sarania Hills near Guwahati.

Amal Prabha was the child of Hema Prabha and Hare Krishna Das. In 1934, Gandhi visited Assam and stayed at her parents’ house. Amal Prabha got to see his work at close quarters and this inspired her to walk the path of service. In 1927 she was denied admission to Cotton College as she was a girl; ironically this same college was later to offer her a job but she declined. She travelled to Calcutta and studied applied chemistry, becoming the first Assamese woman to get a postgraduate degree. She also studied clinical pathology there.

Having completed her studies, in 1939 along with her mother she visited the Maganbari Centre of Self Development at Wardha to learn about village uplift. The family then set up an ashram on Gandhian lines in Sarania and they began to train local people in handicrafts and small-scale forest-based industries. When Kasturba Gandhi (q.v.) died in 1944, her grieving husband set up the Kasturba Gandhi Memorial Trust and appointed Amal Prabha to supervise its work in the Northeast. The Sarania Hills ashram now became the Kasturba Ashram and Gandhiji stayed there in 1946 and formally inaugurated the Gram Sevika Vidyalaya. Gandhi is said to have commented about Amal Prabha, ‘Yeh ladki chatur hain, kam kar sakti hain,’ (this girl is clever, she can work). The Kasturba Ashram helped set up 21 gram sevika kendras or centre of village uplift in different parts of the region including some in Arunachal Pradesh which are still operational. In 1950 when a devastating earthquake ravaged Assam, hundreds of members of Kasturba Ashram and the gram seva kendras volunteered for relief work. The Kasturba Kalyan Kendra was established at Lakhimpur for people rendered homeless by the earthquake. Amal Prabha also set up the Guwahati Yubak Sevadal with school and college students to fight untouchability. The members of the Ashram also worked in Vinoba Bhave’s bhudaan movement in Dhakuakhana and Dhemaji. The draft of the first Gramdaan Act was prepared by the Kasturba Trust and enacted by the government of Assam. At Guwahati, Mahendra Mohan Lahiri donated land for the Assam Go Seva Samiti. She received the Padma Vibhushan and the Jamnalal Bajaj Award.(http://www.streeshakti.com/bookA.aspx?author=9)
Abhina Aher
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Abhina Aher
Born Abhijeet
19 September 1977
Occupation Trans activist
Nationality Indian

Abhina Aher is an Indian transgender activist who has worked for transgender empowerment. She has worked with organizations such as The Humsafar Trust (Mumbai), Family Health International (FHI), Johns Hopkins University Centre for Communication Programme (CCP) and India HIV/AIDS Alliance. She is also an artist and the founder of Dancing Queens - a dancing group of transgender people. Abhina is also a TedX Speaker and has delivered talks in Delhi and Varanasi. She is currently associated with I-TECH India as Technical Expert, Key Populations. She has more than two decades of experience in the HIV/AIDs sector. She has worked with various communities including men who have sex with men, transgender people, women engaged in sex work, intravenous drug users, and people living with HIV. She was also the programme manager of the Global Fund-supported programme 'Pehchan'.

Personal life

Abhina was born as Abhijeet Aher in a middle class maharashtrian family in Mumbai. Her mother was a trained Kathak dancer and worked for a government organization. She often performed at official functions. Abhina used to observe her keenly and tried to imitate her in private. Her father passed away when she was three-year old. She was raised by her mother singlehandedly and remarried later on.


Aher participates in pride parades and works with national and international organisations to bring change for the trans community of India. She has been or is involved in different capacity with various organisations. She is a HIV consultant on trans issues for Global Action for Trans Equality She is a steering committee member at the International Trans Fund United States. She is a consultant of sexuality and gender projects and a national programme manager of the Pehchan programme at the India HIV/AIDS Alliance. She is involved in Programme in Charge Communication on MARPs, USAID grant at Johns Hopkins University Centre for Communication. She is chair at Asia Pacific Transgender Network Bangkok, Thailand.

Aher is the founder of a transgender dancing group called Dancing Queens. The group aims to use dance and expressions as a medium to break barriers and works on trans advocacy. The group was founded in 2009 and has performed in different cities. In the year 2016, she also founded Tweet Foundation for empowering transgender individuals.

Abhina experiences trouble during travelling when the officials for security at airports are curious about her transgender status. There has been several incidents at international airports where security officials (Both male and female) have refused to check her. She stands firm and explains them and try to sensitise them which is part of advocacy work that she does for the trans community.

Awards and accolades

2014: REX awardee fellowship for her work towards trans empowerment in India.
2017: Global Innovator from Human Rights Campaign
Adv. Rahul Singh
He is fueled by his passion to work for the cause of Dalits and Adivasis. He is an expert on SCs and STs (PoA) Act 1989 and Rules 1995 and carries over a decade of extensive experience in Dalit Human Rights Monitoring, advocacy and lobbying on the implementation of various legislations and policy matters. He is one of the key persons who drafted amendments to the SCs and STs (PoA) Act as amended in 2016, along with the drafting committee formed by NCSPA in 2009 and closely worked with Ministries and National Advisory Council.

He has wide experience in program strategic planning, programme development & design, programme implementation, multi-stakeholder engagement etc. He has researched extensively on violence against Dalits/Adivasis and wrote several books and reports on the implementation of SCs and STs (PoA) Act 1989. His hunger for knowledge and determination to turn information into action has contributed to the organisation over the years. A lawyer by training, he is involved in several strategic human rights litigation on SCs and STs (PoA) Act 1989 for the promotion and protection of Dalit and Adivasi human rights. A native of Delhi he believes mindfulness in the workplace is key to success. He lives his life through his passion to work for the human rights of Dalit/Adivasi.

Amarjit Singh

Mr Amarjit Singh is an ambedkarite activist thinker based in UK who has been involved in anti-caste anti-racist activities for most of his life. He come from a family of activists. He was the editor of the Birmingham University India society’s magazine Bharat in 1976 which ran an article on Dr B R Ambedkar. This was the first time such an article had appeared in a university magazine, in the Diaspora. He organised a conference in Birmingham on the origins of the caste system in 1978. During the 2000s, he ran a website for around 4 years whose purpose was to bring Dalit history to Dalits as well as to fight for an anti-caste legislation in UK as part of the Single Equalities Bill drive. He has also played host to many Dalits activists and scholars from India when they have visited the UK. He has spoken at various venues about the history of the caste system and untouchability in India, including at Bergen University Norway and the World Conference on Untouchability held at Conway Hall. He is also a member of British Association for the Study of South Asia (BASAS), a professionally academic body of scholars interested in the study of South Asia. He is currently attending evening talks and discussions at Radical Anthropology Group (RAG) at the University College London in order to help him find an integrated and holistic theory of origins of caste system based on totemism/tribal endogamy/exogamy practices and the role of indigenous matrilineal to Aryan patrilineal process in the formation of the caste system. Notwithstanding the upper caste arrogance and actual practices of the Marxists in India, he believe that these issues are the missing links between Ambekarism and Marxism on a theoretical plane; something that neither Marx nor Babasaheb had 100% access to in their times. This links also indicate the theoretical organic unity of blood and suffering between Dalits and Adivasis. His research also involves historical Dalit resistance, its successes, failures and lessons.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fg2eZ4jUyw)

Amarjit Singh tells issues which are the missing links between Ambekarism and Marxism on a theoretical plane

Vidya Bhushan Rawat Amarjit Singh is an ambedkarite activist thinker based in UK who has been involved in anti-caste anti-racist activities for most of his life. He come from a family of activists. He was the editor of the Birmingham University India society’s magazine Bharat in 1976 which ran an article on Dr B R …
Amarjit Singh is an ambedkarite activist thinker based in UK who has been involved in anti-caste anti-racist activities for most of his life. He come from a family of activists. He was the editor of the Birmingham University India society’s magazine Bharat in 1976 which ran an article on Dr B R Ambedkar. This was the first time such an article had appeared in a university magazine, in the Diaspora. He organised a conference in Birmingham on the origins of the caste system in 1978. .

During the 2000s, he ran a website for around 4 years whose purpose was to bring Dalit history to Dalits as well as to fight for an anti-caste legislation in UK as part of the Single Equalities Bill drive. He has also played host to many Dalits activists and scholars from India when they have visited the UK

He has spoken at various venues about the history of the caste system and untouchability in India, including at Bergen University Norway and the World Conference on Untouchability held at Conway Hall.

He is also a member of British Association for the Study of South Asia (BASAS), a professionally academic body of scholars interested in the study of South Asia. He is  currently attending evening talks and discussions at Radical Anthropology Group (RAG) at the University College London in order to help him find an integrated and  holistic theory of origins of caste system based on totemism/tribal endogamy/exogamy practices and the role of indigenous matrilineal to Aryan patrilineal process in the formation of the caste system.  Notwithstanding the upper caste arrogance and actual practices of the Marxists in India, he believe that these issues are the missing links between Ambekarism and Marxism on a theoretical plane; something that neither Marx nor Babasaheb had 100% access to in their times. This links also indicate the theoretical organic unity of blood and suffering between Dalits and Adivasis. His research also involves historical Dalit resistance, its successes, failures and lessons.

Ashok Bharti
This leadership is not limited to reservation or atrocities on Dalits, but has a larger development canvas

Ashok Bharti, chairman, All India Ambedkar Mahasabha; and principal advisor, National Confederation of Dalit and Adivasi Organisations talks to Aditi Phadnis on the growing Dalit disenchantment with the ruling party and where does the future of Dalit leadership lie Are you seeing evidence of Dalit disenchantment with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and when did it begin? Certainly, Dalit disenchantment with the BJP is widespread. This disenchantment is not localised or limited to a few states or regions.


Ashok BhartiKabir Chair on Social Conflict

Mr. Ashok Bharti is Chairman, National Confederation of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR), India, and Chairman, International Commission for Dalit Rights, the US. He serves as Kabir Chair on Social Conflict at the IPCS. In his 30-year career, he has advocated the cause of the Dalit people and Dalit rights and has worked towards creating a more inclusive and equitable society. He has served in various positions, such as Co-Chair, Indigenous People International Action Team, Brussels, Belgium; Convenor, Global Task Force on Social Exclusion set up by the Global Call to Action Against Poverty; and Member, Working Groups on Dalits, National Advisory Council, Government of India, among others. He is a recipient of the CARE Millennium Award 2011 for outstanding work on MDGs, CARE Deutschland-Luxemburg, Germany, and the Dalit Ratna Award.
Agniva Lahiri
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Agniva Lahiri
Born 22 August 1979
Died 20 September 2016
Occupation LGBT Social activist
Website People Like Us (PLUS) Kolkata

Agniva Lahiri (22 August 1979 – 20 September 2016) was an Indian LGBT social activist from Kolkata, who was active in promoting the causes of the transgender members of the community. Lahiri founded People Like Us (PLUS) Kolkata, a Non Governmental Organization, in 2001 and served as its executive director. Lahiri was also associated with Network of Asia Pacific Youth as a coordinator for policy research and international advocacy.


Agniva Lahiri was born on 22 August 1979, biologically a male, to a government servant and an economics school teacher, as the youngest of their three children, in Kolkata, India. Lahiri's early schooling was in Ramakrishna Mission Residential School and graduate studies at Asutosh College, Kolkata. Subsequently, Lahiri took master's degree in Bengali Literature from University of Calcutta and another master's degree in Sociology from Nagarjuna University, Kolkata and is pursuing higher studies at University of Melbourne.

The realization that feminine emotions ruled within a biologically male body came to Lahiri at a very early age. This drew a lot of criticism from Lahiri's teachers and fellow students. But the discriminatory treatments did not stop Lahiri from making the decision to accept oneself as the other gender.

Lahiri died on 20 September 2016, reportedly due to liver failure.

Social activism

Agniva Lahiri's social career started with joining a forum called Pratyay, a division of Praajak, a gay support forum started in 1992 on Kolkata. Lahiri also started a newsletter called Pratyay Arshi Nagar, with contributions even from the college faculty. The newsletter later grew to be a newspaper by name, Manashi.

Lahiri's social activism was kickstarted by an incident on 7 December 2003, with the assault by a group of people. Lahiri filed a complaint with the local police who declined to register a formal case against the perpetrators. Lahiri and colleagues persisted and were successful in getting a First Information Report filed.

Lahiri has been involved with the Network of Asia Pacific Youth as a coordinator in the research on sexual culture and its relevance in the area of HIV intervention and prevention program. Lahiri's past associations are with UNICEF ROSA in 2002 on Child welfare, with Gender and AIDS Training Institute (GATI). and with UNFPA as a young researcher.

Lahiri is presently the Executive Director of People Like Us (PLUS) Kolkata which runs a destitute home in Kolkata called Prothoma, offering shelter for the victims of human trafficking and unsafe migration and standing up against the violence meted out to them. The activities have attracted public attention and UNAIDS (United Nations AIDS Program) released a small grant of ₹ 400,000 with which Lahiri organised a forum for transgender people by name, the Indian Network of Male Sex Workers. The forum now has 22 branches in 14 states of India.

People Like Us (PLUS) Kolkata

Agniva Lahiri started the establishment of an organization for transgender people and gender variant men in 2000 and informally started the organization, People Like Us (PLUS) Kolkata in 2001. The organization was registered as an NGO in March 2003. The organization is working as a social forum for the rights of gender variant men and is involved in the HIV and AIDS related activities such as :

counselling, training and rehabilitation
intervention in issues like human trafficking
Father of the first Pasmanda Movement and Freedom Fighter

Faiyaz Ahmad Fyzie
Maulana Ali Hussain "Aasim Bihari" was born on April 15, 1890, in Mohalla Khas Ganj, Bihar Sharif, Nalanda district, Bihar, in a devout but poor Pasmanda weaver family. In 1906, at the young age of 16, he started his career in the Usha organization in Kolkata. While working, he pursued interests in studies and reading. He was active in many types of movements. He quit his job as it was getting restrictive, and for his livelihood he started the work of making beedis. He prepared a team of his beedi worker colleagues who would discuss issues that concerned nation and society. There would also be sharing of writings.
In 1908-09, Maulana Haji Abdul Jabbar of Sheikhpur tried to create a Pasmanda organization which wasn't successful. He felt a deep sense of grief about this. In 1911, after reading "Tarikh-e-Minwal wa Alahu" (History of Weavers), he was prepared completely for the movement. At the age of 22, he started a five year shceme (1912-1917) for educating adults. During this time, whenever he went to his native Bihar Sharif, he would keep make people aware by organising small gatherings.

In 1914 , at the young age of 24 years old, he started a Society called "Bazm-E-Adab"(Chamber of Literature) that started a library under its aegis, in his native location of Khasganj, Bihar Sharif in Nalanda district. In 1918, a study centre called "Darul Muzakra"(House of Conversation) was established in Kolkata, where labourers and others used to gather in the evening to discuss writings and contemporary issues - these meetings would sometimes go on all through the night.

In 1919, after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai and Maulana Azad were arrested. Aasim Bihari then started a nationwide postal protest for the release of those leaders, in which people from all the districts, towns in the entire country sent about 1.5 lakh letters and telegrams to the Viceroy and Queen Victoria. This campaign was eventually successful, and all the freedom fighters were freed from jail.

In 1920, in Tanti Bagh, Kolkata, he created the organisation "Jamiatul Mominin" (Party of the Righteous), whose first conference was held on March 10, 1920, in which Maulana Azad also delivered a speech.

In April 1921, he started the tradition of the wall written newspaper "Al-Momin" (The Righteous) in which text was written on large sheet of paper and stuck on a wall, so that more people could read. This style became very famous.

On 10 December 1921, a convention was held in Tanti Bagh, Kolkata, in which Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Jauhar, Maulana Azad etc., participated. In this convention, about 20 thousand people took part.

Gandhiji on behalf of the Congress party proposed to donate a huge amount of one lakh rupees to the organization, with some conditions. But Aasim Bihari, at the very beginning of the agitation, considering it better to keep the organization away from any kind of political compulsion and surrender, refused to accept the amount of one lakh, a big financial assistance, which was highly needed by the organization.

From 1923, the wall newspaper Diwari Momin began to be published as a magazine Al-Momin.
In the beginning of 1922, with the intention of giving an all-India look to the organization, he started a tour of villages and towns, beginning from Bihar.

On July 9, 1923, a local meeting of the organization (Jamiatul Mominin) was held at Madrasa Moinul Islam, Sohdih, Bihar Sharif, in Nalanda district, Bihar. On the same day his son Kamruddin, whose age was only 6 months and 19 days, died. But the passion of bringing society into the mainstream was such that he reached the venue on time and delivered a powerful speech for one hour.

In these constant struggles and travels, he had to face many troubles as well as financial difficulties. Many of the times had to deal with hunger issues too. At the same time, his daughter Baarka was born in the house, but the whole family was drowning in debt and hunger for long.

During this time in Patna, Arya Samajis defeated the Muslim Ulemas (Clerics) in debate as nobody was able to answer their questions. When this was reported to the Maulana, he then took a loan from a friend for travel fare. He carried roasted corn in his bag and reached Patna. There he defeated the Arya Samajis in such a manner, by his logic and arguments, that they had to flee. A regional level conference was convened in Bihar Sharif on 3-4 June 1922, after nearly six months of rigorous travel.

It was difficult to arrange for the expenditure of the conference and the funds collected were not sufficient. The date of the conference was getting closer. In such a situation, Maulana requested his mother to lend the money and jewellery that he had kept aside for his younger brother's wedding. He hoped that more funds would be arranged as the date of the Conference got closer. Unfortunately, not enough funds could be collected. He felt despair and even after being invited for the wedding, he didn't attend it and left the house, out of guilt. He could not even dare to be a part of it.

In the will of God, I have surrendered my being

His wish is my wish, what He wills shall happen

All such setbacks, however never affected his passion.

In spite of all the troubles, anxieties and frequent travels, he never missed studying newspapers, magazines and books in addition to writing articles and daily diaries. This study was not limited to education, or knowledge of only social or political activities, but he wanted to research science, literature and historical facts and reach their roots. In certain instances, he would not hesitate to write letters to the writers of famous newspapers and magazines of that time.

In August, 1924, the foundation of a core committee called 'Majlis-e-Misak' (Chamber of Covenant), was laid down for the solidarity of selected, dedicated people.

On July 6, 1925, 'Majlis-e-Misak' (Chamber of Covenant), started publishing a fortnightly magazine named Al-Ikram (The Respect), so that the movement could be further strengthened.
The "Bihar Weavers' Association" was formed to organize and strengthen the weaving work, and its branches were opened in other cities of the country, including Kolkata. After creating an organization in Bihar in 1927, Maulana turned to Uttar Pradesh. He visited Gorakhpur, Banaras, Allahabad, Moradabad, Lakhimpur-Kheri and other districts and created quite a stir. After UP, the organization was set up in Delhi, Punjab area too.

On April 18, 1928, the first All India level grand conference was held in Kolkata, in which thousands of people participated. In March 1929, the second All India Conference was held in Allahabad, third in October 1931 in Delhi, fourth in Lahore, and fifth on November 5, 1932, in Gaya. In the Gaya conference, the Women's Wing of the organization also came into existence.

Similarly in Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Delhi, Nagpur and Patna, State Conferences were organized.
In this way, the organization was established in places like Mumbai, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Chennai, and even in countries like Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Burma and hence Jamiautul Mominin (Momin Conference) became an international organization. In 1938, there were nearly 2000 branches of the organization in India as well as abroad.

A weekly magazine called 'Momin Gazette' from Kanpur also started to be published. Keeping himself behind the scenes in the organization and pushing others forward, Aasim Bihari never made himself the President of the organization. Only after many requests of the people, he kept himself confined to the post of General Secretary only.

When the organization's work increased a lot, and the Maulana did not have the opportunity of doing hard labor to raise his livelihood and family -- in such a situation, the organization fixed a very modest amount to be paid to him every month, but unfortunately that was also not paid to him many times.
Wherever the branches of Momin Conference were opened, small meetings were held continuously, and education and employment counseling centres and libraries wwere also established.

From the beginning, Maulana tried to ensure that Pasmanda castes other than the Ansari caste, were also made aware, active and organized. For this, he used to include people, leaders and organizations of other Pasmanda castes in every conference, their contributions in the Momin Gazette were also given equal space.

Meanwhile, the news of his brother's severe illness reached him and he was told "Come soon, he can die anytime". But the Maulana couldn't go home due to frequent tours. Even when his brother died, he could not even go for the funeral.

In the election of the Interim Government in 1935-36, the candidates of the Momin Conference also won a good number of votes across the entire country. As a result, a large number people also realized the power of the Pasmanda movement. This is where the movement began to witness opposition.

Already in the mainstream politics, the upper caste Ashraf Muslim class started defaming the Momin Conference and its leaders, by employing different types of allegations, religious fatwas, writings, magazines. In fact, they even made a song called 'Zulaah Naama', that indulged in the character assassination of the weaver caste as a whole and was also published.
During the campaign in Kanpur, a Pasmanda activist named Abdullah was murdered. Usually, Maulana's speech used to be about two to three hours. But on September 13, 1938, his five hour speech in Kannauj and the speech in Kolkata in October 25, 1934, that lasted a whole night became landmarks in human history, setting an unprecedented record.

The Maulana played an active role in the Quit India Movement. In the year 1940, he organized a protest in Delhi against the partition of the country, in which about forty thousand Pasmanda people participated.

In the elections of 1946, some candidates of the Jamiatul Momin (Momin Conference) were successful and many of them won against candidates of the Muslim League.

In 1947, after the storm of the partition of the country, he revived the Pasmanda movement with full rigor. The Momin Gazette was republished in Allahabad and Bihar Sharif.

The failng health of the Maulana started influencing his untiring hard work, travels. But he was determined to revive the tradition of Hazrat Ayyub Ansari (the Companion of Prophet Muhammad) . When he reached Allahabad, he did not have the strength to even walk a step. Even in such a condition, he was busy in the preparations for the Conference of the Jamiatul Momineen in UP State, and kept guiding people.

But Allah had taken from him whatever work he could. On the evening of December 5,1953, he suffered a sudden heart stroke and there was trouble in breathing; the pain and uneasiness of the heart grew, his face became sweaty, he fainted. Around two o'clock at night, he found himself in the lap of his son, Haroon AAasim. With a gesture he indicated his head be rested on the ground so that he could offer himself to Allah's favor and demand forgiveness for his sins. In these circumstances, on Dec 6, 1953, on a Saturday, in Haji Kamruddin's house, in Atala, Allahabad, he breathed his last.

In his forty years of vigorous and active life, the Maulana did nothing for himself, and where was the opportunity to do it? But if he wanted, he could have gathered many material things for himself and his family. But he never gave attention to this aspect. The Maulana kept lighting the homes of others throughout his life but he did not try to illuminate his own house with a small lamp.

Acknowledgement: I would like to thank Professor Ahmad Sajjad who has written the 700 page biography of Aasim Bihari titled Banda-e-Momin Ka Hath (The Hand of a Righteous Person) and guided me in telephonic and direct conversations.

Faiyaz Ahmed Fyzie is a freelance author and is working as a Research Associate in the Ministry of AYUSH. The English translation is done by Vinay Shende, who is an Ambedkarite working in the Corporate Sector.

Annie Namala

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Annie Namala
Occupation Education activist

Annie Namala is an Indian social activist and has been working for dalit rights. She is the director of Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion. She is a vocal voice in the fight of untouchable movement. She was appointed as a member of the National Advisory Council for the implementation of the RTE act in 2010.


Annie Namala also worked with Solidarity Group for Children Against Discrimination and Exclusion (SGCADE).

Ayesha Rubina
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ayesha Rubina
Born 3 May 1969

Nationality India
Alma mater Osmani University
Occupation politician

Ayesha Rubina (عائشہ روبینہ; born 1969) is a corporator of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), educationist, social entrepreneur, social worker and former co-opted member of (GHMC). She is noted for being instrumental in planning a first-of-its-kind park for special needs people in India. She provides special education to children with special needs. She actively takes part in social debates and local issues. She is based in HyderabadIndia.


Ayesha did her schooling from Holy Mary Girls High School and earned three degrees from Osmania University. She has master's degree in social work, and post graduate diploma in early childhood education and teaching from Osmania University. She had been awarded gold medal for scoring highest marks in M.A. English from Osmania University.

Social & volunteer work

She is a professional social worker with a Master of Social Work. In recognition of her services in the field of education and social work, Ayesha was nominated to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation as a co-opted member. In this role, she has contributed by laying out the first ward development plan, played a prominent role in planning a park for special needs persons, and initiated livelihood training for over 8,000 youth.

Ayesha has helped set up 10 schools for the underprivileged that cater to the educational needs of more than 4500 children. She also runs a school for kids with special needs. She has been in the top eight of The Times of India's "Lead India" initiative and a participant of the prestigious International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) of the U.S Department of State. As an Advisory Committee member, she is associated with a Center for Social Sciences, a network of people and organizations engaged in community based services through education and social services.

Greens Special School

It is one of its kind schools that give education to children with special needs. This school provides free education to special kids. It offers medical therapies, and aims to rehabilitate & integrate these children into the mainstream. The special school is Ayesha’s pet project, and it is run by Ayesha Education Society.

Views on Girl’s Education

Being an activist who works in the area of girls' education, Ayesha believes that the role of economically independent women has become even more challenging nowadays. She criticizes modern society for merry-making and feeling comfortable when a woman goes out to earn, but expecting her to first deliver her 'traditional' duties efficiently. She also worked towards establishing e-libraries in the city. She said that the number of students in Hyderabad's Old City area is increasing day-by-day, and education has become a priority. Therefore, libraries are need there.

Political affiliation

Ayesha is a known figure in Hyderabad's political circles for her social work and activism for public welfare. In April 2014, a press report quoted All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) supremo Asaduddin Owaisi as saying that his party is forming its Shoba-e-Khwateen (Women’s Wing). The same report noted that Ayesha was tipped to be joint convener of Women’s Wing.

International conferences/programs

Asia-Pacific Cities Summit: In 2013, Ayesha represented the Mayor of Hyderabad in the Asia-Pacific Cities Summit held in Taiwan where she presented a paper on "Trans-City Business Coalitions" and "Local Informal Economies".

International Visitor Leadership Program: She is an alumnus of U.S. Department of State's premier leadership exchange programme - International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).


Greens Special School Managing Trustee
Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Co-opted Member
Genesis High School Managing Director
Bharathi Vidyalaya Founder
Center for Social Sciences Advisory Committee Member
OSE Group of Schools Managing Director (Honorary)
Special Olympics Trustee
Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) Member and Ex-coordinator, AP
A.P. Welfare Association for Mentally Challenged Executive Committee Member
Sarojni Naidu Vanita Mahavidyalaya Alumni Association President
Holy Mary Girls High School Alumni Association President

Awards & recognition

1. Pearl of Hyderabad by JCI Hyderabad: Ayesha was awarded the title 'Pearl of Hyderabad' by local chapter of Junior Chamber International (JCI), a non-political and non-sectarian youth service organization.

2. IVLP (International Visitor Leadership Program) - U.S. Department of State: An alumnus of U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). Ayesha represented India and was one among the 19 participants from various countries of the world. She visited 4 states- Washington D.C, Florida, Texas & California.

3. Lead India by The Times of India: Represented the city of Hyderabad in the Times of India's 'Lead India'- a nationwide talent hunt for the next generation of political leaders for India. Finished in the Final 8 of the nationwide competition.

4. Young Achiever Award by Rotary Club, Hyderabad.

5. Gold Medalist in M.A. (Masters in English) at Sarojni Naidu Vanitha Mahavidyalaya.
The story of Dalit icon Ashamma from Andhra Pradesh, another Neeraja Banot winner, a socially-marginalized woman who has been fighting for her rightful place in society, too follows along the same line.

Ashamma was a ‘jogini’ or a sex worker in Karni village. Frustrated by this she decided to stand up for her dignity and self respect and joined the Andhra Pradesh Mahila Samatha Society and was influenced by them to live a new life. She helped other women who were forced into sexual favours by men, through this Society.

In such a situation, it takes an amalgamation of self-confidence, self- efficacy, determination, and empathy to build up a strong and inextinguishable fire of resilience. A research by University of Minnesota, 2010 by Suniya Luthar and Edward Zigler, indicates that during the early childhood years, it is important for children to have good quality of care and opportunities for learning, adequate nutrition and community support for families.  A research finding showed that one reason for this could be Empathy. The National Council on Family Relations, 1995 conducted a study which explored the relationship between empathy and parenting strategy choices . Results showed that empathy was negatively related to the use of negative and ignoring parenting strategies.

At 35 years of age, Ashamma has nothing to share with the world expect tears. She comes from Karni village in Mehbubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh, where women belonging to the lower caste are considered objects of entertainment. Ashamma was made to undergo the jogini ritual when she was seven years old. As per this custom, she was married off to the village deity. Recalls Ashamma, "Since the day of the initiation, I have not lived with dignity. I became available for all the men who inhabited Karni. They would ask me for sexual favours and I, as a jogini, was expected to please them. My trauma began even when I had not attained puberty."
At 11, Ashamma attained puberty. As soon as the news spread, men hounded her all the more. She was forced to sleep with countless people, some of whom were much older than her. Still in her teens, Ashamma delivered a girl child. "I bore the child from the man I loved, but he did not marry me. Later, I escaped from the village," she says. But all the time she was reminded that she was a jogini and should not act like a pativrata.

During those days the Andhra Pradesh Mahila Samatha Society was running sanghams in villages. These forums voiced the concerns of sexually exploited women. When Ashamma heard the views of its leaders, she was impressed. She swore to fight against the baseless custom of jogini.

In 1997, Ashamma became the head of the sangham which operated in Karni. As the leader of the forum, she discouraged the practice of jogini. Her mission revolved around thwarting the attempts of villagers to initiate young girls into this evil practice. She still remembers how hard she had to fight in order to save a nine-year-old girl in her village from becoming a jogini. The police had refused to help her and no one in the village was prepared to cooperate with her. But Ashamma sat in protest until she succeeded in preventing the initiation ceremony.

The two courageous women -Alice Garg from Jaipur and Ashamma from Andhra Pradesh were awarded for their services to society in Chandigarh on April 28. The award money comprised Rs 1.5 lakh each. The commitment of these women to their respective cause was evident from the fact that both of them donated a part of the huge sum to their respective societies. Ashamma kept Rs 50,000 for her child and donated the rest to her sangham. Alice donated the money to Rustamji Trust which is dedicated to the amelioration of the plight of the poor.

by D . kasur
Anuradha Ramanan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anuradha Ramanan
Born 29 June 1947
ThanjavurMadras Presidency, British India
Died 16 May 2010 (aged 62)
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

social activist
Period 1977—2010

Anuradha Ramanan (29 June 1947 – 16 May 2010) was a Tamil writer, artist and a social activist. She is survived by two daughters Smt. Sudha Ramanan and Smt. Subha Ramanan. Both of them live with their families in the United States of America.


Anuradha was born in 1947 in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. Her grandfather R. Balasubramaniam was an actor who inspired Anuradha to become a writer. Anuradha started her career as an artist before making several unsuccessful attempts to get a job with popular magazines.This prompted her to join Mangai, a Tamil magazine after the editor found her writings very interesting. Anuradha's literary career started in 1977 while working for the magazine. She also revealed the sexual harresment allegations about Jayendra Saraswathi.

Apart from her literary contributions, she was well known for her "anti-divorce counselling" work. In a career that spanned over 30 years, Anuradha wrote nearly 800 novels and 1,230 short stories. Her works were mainly centered on family and everyday happenings. One of her early works Sirai, won a gold medal for the best short story from Ananda Vikatan. It was adapted into a film of the same name. Following this, her other novels Kootu PuzhukkalOru Malarin Payanam and Oru Veedu Iruvasal were adapted into films in various languages such as Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. Oru Veedu Iru Vasal, directed by Balachander won the National Film Award for Best Film on Other Social Issues in 1991. The 1988 Telugu film Oka Baarya Katha based on her work won five Nandi Awards. In addition to films, many of her stories such as Archanai Pookal, Paasam and Kanakanden Thozhi have been adapted into television serials. She was awarded a gold medal by M. G. Ramachandran, the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.


Anuradha died of cardiac arrest on 16 May 2010 at the age of 62 in Chennai. She was married to Ramanan and has two daughters.


Sexual harassment allegations against Jayendra Saraswati

Anuradha Ramanan said she was subjected to sexual harresment by Jayendra Saraswati when she met back in 1992, when she was taken to negotiate the release of the spiritual magazine "Amma" by the muth. Anuradha Ramanan has charged Saraswathi of making sexual advances. He said that during their first meeting, he spoke about the proposed journal and offered to make her its editor, Ramanan agreed to the offer. During their final meeting, she said, he began using indecent language, and when she looked up from the notebook, the woman who took me to him was in a sexually intimate position with him. She said that the Saraswathi "approached" her, and when she objected, the other woman tried to persuade her of her "good fortune." When she left the place, the Shankaracharya allegedly asserted that she keep her mouth shut.

Ramanan said that she had met a woman police officer who was close to her to lodge a complaint, but did not do so because she feared for the future of her daughters. She reported that an attempted murder had been made against her. She said a truck hit her car in which she was travelling and a further attempt was made on her life when she was admitted to the hospital. On December 2004, she said she would have met with the same fate as that of Sankarraman if she had made the disclosure 12 years ago when the alleged incident took place.
Absalom Jones
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Absalom Jones
Born November 7, 1746

Sussex County, Delaware Colony, British Empire
Died February 13, 1818 (aged 71)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Occupation Clergyman (Anglican/Episcopal Church)
Known for Anti-slavery petitioner
Spouse(s) Mary King
Relatives Julian Abele (architect)

Absalom Jones (November 7, 1746 – February 13, 1818) was an African-American abolitionist and clergyman who became prominent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Disappointed at the racial discrimination he experienced in a local Methodist church, he founded the Free African Society with Richard Allen in 1787, a mutual aid society for African Americans in the city. The Free African Society included many people newly freed from slavery after the American Revolutionary War.

In 1794 Jones founded the first black Episcopal congregation, and in 1802, he was the first African American to be ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church of the United States. He is listed on the Episcopal calendar of saints. He is remembered liturgically on the date of his death, February 13, in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as "Absalom Jones, Priest, 1818".

Early life

Absalom Jones was born into slavery in Sussex County, Delaware, in 1746. When he was sixteen, his owner sold him along with his mother and siblings to a neighboring farmer. That year the farmer kept Absalom, but sold his mother and siblings, and moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he became a merchant. Absalom was allowed to attend a school and learned to read and write. While still enslaved by Mr. Wynkoop (who was a vestryman of Christ Church and later St. Peter's), Absalom married Mary King (an enslaved woman owned by S. King, a neighbor to the Wynkoops), on January 4, 1770. Rev. Jacob Duché performed the wedding ceremony.

By 1778 Absalom had purchased his wife's freedom so that their children would be free; he asked for aid by donations and loans. (According to colonial law, children took the status of their mother, so children born to slave women were born enslaved.) Absalom also wrote to his master seeking his own freedom, but was initially denied. In 1784, however, Wynkoop manumitted him, possibly inspired by revolutionary ideals. Absalom took the surname "Jones" as an indication of his American identity.

Methodist Church

Around 1780, a Methodist movement was sweeping through the colonies as part of the Second Great Awakening. It came at a time of revolutionary ferment in the closing period of the American Revolutionary War. The movement was especially popular in New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Methodists had developed in Great Britain as evangelicals within the Church of England. In December 1784, Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury established the Methodist Episcopal Church as a new denomination, separate from the Church of England.

Ministerial career

Pennsylvania abolished slavery and became a free state in the new United States. Jones became a lay minister of the interracial congregation of St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. The Methodist church admitted persons of all races and allowed African Americans to preach. Together with Richard Allen, Jones was one of the first African Americans licensed to preach by the Methodist Episcopal Church.

But members of the church still practiced racial discrimination. In 1792, while at St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church, Absalom Jones and other black members were told that they could not join the rest of the congregation in seating and kneeling on the first floor and instead had to be segregated first sitting against the wall and then in the gallery or balcony. After completing their prayer, Jones and most of the church's black members got up and walked out.
Jones and Allen founded the Free African Society (FAS), first conceived as a non-denominational mutual aid society, to help newly freed slaves in Philadelphia. Jones and Allen later separated, as their religious lives took different directions after 1794 as discussed below. They remained lifelong friends and collaborators.

As 1791 began, Jones started holding religious services at FAS, which the following year became the core of his African Church in Philadelphia. Jones wanted to establish a black congregation independent of white control, while remaining part of the Episcopal Church. After a successful petition, the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, the first black church in Philadelphia, opened its doors on July 17, 1794. Jones was ordained as a deacon in 1795 and as a priest in 1802, became the first African-American priest in the Episcopal Church.

A month after St. Thomas church opened, the Founders and Trustees published "The Causes and Motives for Establishing St. Thomas's African Church of Philadelphia," saying their intent was

to arise out of the dust and shake ourselves, and throw off that servile fear, that the habit of oppression and bondage trained us up in.

Famous for his oratory, Jones helped establish the tradition of anti-slavery sermons on New Year's Day. His sermon for January 1, 1808, the date on which the U.S. Constitution mandated the end of the African slave trade, was called "A Thanksgiving Sermon" and published in pamphlet form. It became famous. Rumors persisted that Jones had supernatural abilities to influence the minds of assembled congregations. White observers failed to recognize his oratory skills, perhaps because they believed rhetoric to be beyond the capabilities of black people. Numerous other African-American leaders were similarly said to have supernatural abilities.

Fugitive Slave Act of 1793

After becoming the first black and freedman to be ordained as a priest, and as the Constitution's deadline for abolition of the slave trade passed, Jones took part in the first group of African Americans to petition the U.S. Congress. Their petition related to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, which they criticized for encouraging cruelty and brutality, as well as supporting the continuing criminal practice of kidnapping free blacks and selling them into slavery. Jones drafted a petition on behalf of four freed slaves and asked Congress to adopt "some remedy for an evil of such magnitude."In 1775, the state of North Carolina had made it illegal to free slaves unless approved by a county court, a provision largely ignored by members of the Society of Friends (Quakers). They not only continued to free their own slaves, but in some cases bought slaves from other men in order to free them. In 1788 the North Carolina legislature passed a law allowing the capture and sale of any former slave who had been freed without court approval, with twenty percent of the sale price going as reward to the person who reported the illegal manumission. Many freed African Americans fled the state to avoid being captured and sold back into slavery.

The petition was presented on 30 January 1797 by U.S. Representative John Swanwick of Pennsylvania. Jones used moral suasion: trying to convince whites that slavery was immoral, offensive to God, and contrary to the nation's ideal. Although U.S. Representative George Thatcher of Massachusetts argued that the petition should be accepted and referred to the Committee on the Fugitive Law, but the House of Representatives declined to accept the petition by a vote of 50 to 33. Jones submitted a similar petition two years later, which was also declined.

African Methodist Episcopal Church

On a parallel path, Richard Allen founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), the first independent black church within the Methodist tradition. He and his followers converted a building and opened on July 29, 1794, as Bethel AME Church. In 1799, Allen was ordained as the first black minister in the Methodist Church by Bishop Francis Asbury. In 1816, Allen gathered other black congregations in the region to create a new and fully independent denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1816, Allen was elected as the AME's first bishop.

Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

Yellow fever repeatedly struck Philadelphia and other coastal cities in the 1790s, until sanitary improvements advocated by Dr. Benjamin Rush were adopted and completed. In the meantime, Allen and Jones assisted Rush in helping people afflicted by the plague, for black people initially were rumored to be immune. Many whites (including most doctors except for Rush and his assistants, some of whom died) fled the city hoping to escape infection. Allen and Jones' corps of black Philadelphians helped nurse the sick, as well as bury the dead. Jones in particular sometimes worked through the night. However, Rush's reliance on bleeding and purging as a medical treatment proved misplaced.

When Mathew Carey published a popular pamphlet accusing Blacks of profiting from nursing sick White citizens, Jones and Allen published a protest pamphlet in response. They described sacrifices that they and members of the Free African Society made for the health of the city. Philadelphia Mayor Matthew Clarkson, who had called upon them for help, publicly recognized that Jones and Allen acted upon their desires to improve the entire community. Jones' responses to the overall crisis strengthened ties between free Blacks and many progressive whites, aiding him later on when he established St. Thomas' Episcopal Church. Almost twenty times more black people helped the plague-struck than did whites, which later proved crucial in helping St. Thomas Church to gain social acceptance.

Death and legacy

Absalom Jones Cenotaph in Eden Cemetery

Jones died on February 13, 1818, in Philadelphia. He was originally interred in the St. Thomas Churchyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His body was relocated to Lebanon Cemetery and then to Eden Cemetery. In 1991, his remains exhumed, cremated and placed in a reliquary in the Absalom Jones altar of the current St. Thomas African Episcopal Church (now located at 6361 Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia). The chapel is named in his honor, as is the church's rectory. A cenotaph was placed at Eden Cemetery in Collingdale, Pennsylvania marking the site of his former grave.

The national Episcopal Church remembers his life and service annually on the anniversary of his death, February 13.
The Diocese of Pennsylvania honors his memory with an annual celebration and award.

Anand Teltumbde

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anand Teltumbde
Anand Teltumbde in 2020
Born 15 July 1950

Nationality Indian

Occupation Professor, writer
Spouse(s) Rama Teltumbde

Anand Teltumbde (born 15 July 1950) is an Indian scholar, writer, and civil rights activist who is a management professor at the Goa Institute of Management. He has written extensively about the caste system in India and has advocated for the rights of Dalits.

Life and career

Teltumbde was born on 15 July 1950 in Rajur, a village in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra state, to a family of Dalit farm labourers. He is the oldest among eight siblings. He is married to Rama Teltumbde who is a granddaughter of B. R. Ambedkar. He earned a mechanical engineering degree from Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology in 1973, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad in 1982 and a PhD from the University of Mumbai in cybernetic modelling in 1993 while working as an executive at Bharat Petroleum. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate (D.Litt) from the Karnataka State Open University.

Teltumbde was an executive at Bharat Petroleum and managing director of Petronet India Limited before becoming an academic. He was a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and later became a senior professor at the Goa Institute of Management. He contributes a column titled "Margin Speak" to Economic and Political Weekly, and has also contributed to OutlookTehelka, and Seminar.


On 29 August 2018, the police raided Teltumbde's home, accusing him of having a connection to the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence and an alleged Maoist plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Teltumbde denied the allegations but his petition was denied by the Bombay High Court. He was granted interim protection from arrest by the High Court, but he was arrested by the Pune police on 3 February 2019 and released later that day.After his release, Teltumbde accused the government of harassment and of attempting to criminalize dissent. In the course of the investigation, various others have been critical of the handling of the case; Supreme Court Justice D Y Chandrachud in September 2018, questioned the biased nature of the investigation by the Maharashtra Police. Others such as counter-terrorism expert and Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management, Ajai Sahni suggested the evidence used against Teltumbde seemed fabricated.

Teltumbde's mobile phone was hacked by Israeli spyware Pegasus through WhatsApp along with over a dozen other activists, lawyers, and journalists in India. Teltumbe had noticed his phone had been "acting up" and was later contacted by Citizen Lab in October 2019.

In February 2019, The Washington Post reported that Teltumbe was arrested as part of "a government crackdown on lawyers and activists" who are critics of Modi. More than 600 scholars and academics issued a joint statement in support of Teltumbde, condemning the government's actions as a "witch-hunt" and demanding an immediate halt to the actions against Teltumbde. In addition, over 150 organizations and intellectuals—including Noam Chomsky and Cornel West—signed a letter to United Nations secretary general António Guterres, describing the charges as "fabricated" and calling for the UN to intervene.

On 16 March 2020, the Supreme Court dismissed Teltumbde's plea for anticipatory bail under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The Court gave Teltumbde and Navlakha three weeks to surrender. On 8 April, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra ordered Teltumbde to surrender to the National Investigation Agency on 14 April. Historians like Romila Thapar condemned the arrest while Amnesty International India expressed its disappointment in light of the UNHCHR guidelines to release all political prisoners due to the COVID-19 pandemic in India.

Selected publications

The Radical in Ambedkar (ed.) (Penguin Random House, New Delhi, 2018) ISBN 978-0670091157
Republic of Caste: Thinking of Equality in the Era of Neoliberalism and Hindutva (Navayana, New Delhi, 2018) ISBN 978-8189059842
Dalits: Past, Present and Future (Routledge, London and New York, 2016) ISBN 978-1138688759
Mahad: The Making of the First Dalit Revolt (Aakar, New Delhi, 2015) ISBN 978-9350023983
The Persistence of Caste (Zed Books, London, 2010) ISBN 9781848134492
Khairlanji: A Strange and Bitter Crop (Navayana, Delhi, 2008) ISBN 978-8189059156
Annihilation of Caste (Ramai, Mumbai, 2005) ISBN 978-9353040772
Hindutva and Dalits: Perspectives for Understanding Communal Praxis (ed.) (Samya, Kolkata, 2005) ISBN 978-8185604756
'Ambedkar' in and for the Post-Ambedkar Dalit Movement (Sugawa, Pune, 1997) ISBN 978-8186182291
Arige Ramaswamy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Arige Ramaswamy, a noted social activist, politician and social reformer.

Arige Ramaswamy
Born 1885

Died 1973

Occupation Political Leader
Social Reformer
Spouse(s) Rajamma (m.1921) Lalitabai (m.1929)

Early life

Born on 1895 in a Mala family to Arige Balayya at Ramankole, Hyderabad State (now SecunderabadAndhra Pradesh). He also worked as ticket collector in Nizam's railways.

He was follower of Achala Siddhanta and also the Brahmo Samaj. He founded Sunitha Bala Samajam and carried out social reform among the Dalits.


He worked along with Bhagya Reddy Varma, S. Venkat Rao and other activists, who organized the Dalits in the early 20th century. Recognising the socio-economic backwardness of Madigas, he formed the Arundhatiya Association for their welfare.

Ramaswamy married a Madiga boy with a Mala girl, which was opposed by Bhagya Reddy Varma and the community members. In 1922, he established Adi Hindu Jathoyonnathi Sabha.

Later, he joined INC and became Joint Secretary in Telangana Congress and been Minister in state govt. He was also associated with "Grandhalaya (library)" movement.

He died on 23 January 1973 at Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
Ayyathan Gopalan
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rao Sahib
Ayyathan Gopalan
Ayyathan Gopalan
Ayyathan Gopalan
3 March 1861

Died 2 May 1948 (aged 87)

Calicut Shanthi Ashram
Resting place Santhi Gardens (Ayathan family cemetry, Calicut)
Nationality Indian
Other names Darsarji, Darsar Sahib


social reformer
Known for Physician, Writing, Philanthropy, Social reform in Kerala

Notable work Bhramodarma malayalam (Bible of bhramosamaj)
Saranjiniparinayam and Susheeladukham (Musical dramas)
Movement Sugunavardhini movement, Brahmo Samaj
Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker

Dr Ajay S. Sekher

Dr Ajay S. Sekher is currently Assistant Professor of English at Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady. He has a Master's degree and PhD (2007) in English from Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala. His doctoral research deals with the representation of caste and gender margins in postcolonial Indian fiction. He has published articles and translations on literature and culture in English and Malayalam in leading journals including The Economic and Political Weekly (2003 & 2006). He has also taught at S S University, Kalady (2004-08) and School of Letters, M G University (2008-09). He has also served as Assistant Professor of English at Government College, Thrissur (2011-12) and Govt College Kasaragod (2010-11). His recent published titles include:

Representing the Margin: Caste and Gender in Indian Fiction. Delhi: Kalpaz/Gyan, 2008.

Writing in the Dark: A Collection of Malayalam Dalit Poetry. Mumbay: Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, 2008. (Translation)

Unknown Subjects: Songs of Poykayil Appachan. Kottayam: PRDS, 2007. (Translation)

Samskaram, Prathinidhanam, Prathirodham: Samskara Rashtreeyathilekkulla Kuripukal. Mavelikara: Fabian, 2009.

Irutile Kali. Pathanamthitta: Prasakti, 2007. (Trans. of Toni Morrison’s Playing in the Dark)

Neelimayeriya Kannukal. Kottayam: D C Books, 2009. (Tans. of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye)

Sahodaran Ayyappan: Towards a Democratic Future. Calicut: Other Books, 2012.

Ajay Sekher is also interested in Photography and Painting. He has done groups shows of painting in Kochi and Kottayam (2008 and 2009).


Memory is often short-lived—we forget more than we remember. The moment we forget, we are seized by a collective amnesia that paves way for homogenous and selective interpretations of history. In Kerala, we have all but forgotten the struggles and rebellions that our people fought only a century ago. We have heard of Narayana Guru, but know little about how he came to be or about the turbulent times in the 19th century, when the caste system and Brahmanism ruled supreme. We forget that there are predecessors and models for Kerala’s modernity and its Renaissance. Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker is a part of that history. The story of the life and struggles of the legendary Velayudha Panicker, or Chekavar, of Arattupuzha (1825–1874) has been kept out of school curricula and the official history by the traditional ruling classes and by the caste hegemonic consensus in Kerala. Recently, however, there has been a renewed interest in the struggle he waged. He fought the violent empire of caste and Hindu Brahmanism in Kerala that still lingers and is assuming fierce proportions with the rise of cultural nationalism in India.

There is a new English novel based on his life, The Leftover, by Dr Rajan Guruvanshy, as well as a recently published historical study in Malayalam by Dalitbandhu N.K. Jose (2017). A foundation was recently formed for the study of Velayudha Panicker’s legacy of ethical and anti-caste resistance. The Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker Foundation (henceforth, AVP) chapter in Kottayam, for example, which is run by Mr S.P.L. Suresh of Manipuzha, conducts annual art competitions every January for school students, to commemorate his birthday. Some of the monuments that keep his memory alive are a community hall, the temple he found in the early 1850s, and the 250-year old Kallissery traditional household. These are all found in his birthplace, Arattupuzha, in the old Karthikappally Taluk of Alappuzha, near Kayamkulam (Pillai 2010).

As early as the beginning of the 1800s, Panicker was building temples, schools, and libraries for Avarna people, including marginalised community members. He was the first Avarna to do this for his people, particularly in Kerala. He was also one of the first persons to fight for equality against caste Hindu violence that dehumanises the lower castes including rampant instances of public humiliation and violation of the modesty of Avarna women. Later by mid-nineteenth century, he carried these struggles forward in the Kayamkulam, Patisery, and Pandalam rebellions. He was the first social revolutionary in Kerala to question the hegemonic restrictions imposed by caste Hindus regarding the Avarna women’s use of breast cloths and gold ornaments. He is the first rebel in the known local minor histories or heterologous narratives to be immortalised for defying and resisting the caste Hindu feudal lords who perpetuated physical and symbolic violence against the Avarnas in south Kerala (Sathyaprakasam 1998:12).

Velayudha Panicker paved the way for the foundation of social reformation and political protest in the early 19th century in southern Kerala. His struggles eventually culminated in the Kerala Renaissance, carried forward in its most ethical articulations by Narayana Guru, Muloor, Asan, and Sahodaran in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In this respect, Panicker began the counter-hegemonic resistance movement of those, marginalised, enslaved, and subjugated by Brahmanism and caste for centuries. He set in motion the egalitarian and ethical democratic reformation of Kerala from below, working with people at the grassroots level. He was the first and most important interventionist to kindle the spark of Kerala modernity among its most downtrodden people. In him, we see action and sacrifice directed powerfully towards the achievement of liberty, equality, and fraternity, which was carried forward later by Narayana Guru, Sahodaran, and others. He also was the first to emphasise investment in cultural and educational capital as being key to achieving liberation and the all-round improvement of human qualities. He provided a model for social activism and liberation politics for all excluded and exploited people around the world.

Unique geographical location and local cultural differences

Arattupuzha literally means ‘the river where the annual ceremonial ritual bath of an ancient shrine is conducted’. Many places have the names Arattupuzha and Arattukadavu (Bathing ghats) in Kerala. Arattu refers to the pally neerattu, or the ‘ritual river-bath of the deity of a pally or vihara (monastery) that marks the end of the annual festival’. Alappuzha is a wetland area sandwiched between the Vembanad and Kayamkulam backwaters. Place names that have survived centuries of invasion, attempts at erasure, and cultural hegemony indicate that there were renowned Buddhist centres in this area for more than a millennium (Alexander 1949). Trikunnapuzha and Thottapally in the north are identified as sites of ancient Buddhist viharas and the possible location of Srimulavasam, the renowned southern seat of the Buddha (Ilamkulam 2001:2; Narayanan 2005:23). Ilamkulam argues that Srimulavasam was taken by the sea in the 12th or 13th century. He cites Atula’s Mushakavamsa (considered to have been written in the 10th century C.E.) which records the donations to this Buddhist shrine made by Malabar rulers like Kolathiris. Ilamkulam also argues that the Paliyam copperplate must be appropriately called the ‘Srimulavasam copperplate’, as historical records indicate that it was donated to the shrine by the Ay King, Vikramaditya Varaguna. It is evident that this region of Kerala, including the Karthikappally, Karunagapally, and Tottapally areas, had established Buddhist centres, which were part of a global civilisation of Buddhism that thrived in this area well into the Middle Ages. Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean trade routes provided the connection to Southeast Asia and the western world.

Amidst these ocean-oriented contexts and connections, Arattupuzha constitutes an island paradise, a lagoon-like formation between the sea and the lake. It is a long sandy strip of land between the Arabian Sea and the backwaters of southern Kerala near Kayamkulam. Arattupuzha, in the old Karthikappally Taluk of Alappuzha, lies between Trikkunnapuzha and Valiazheekal. Now, a new bridge connects it to Kayamkulam in the east as well. It is separated from the mainland by Kayamkulam Kayal (backwaters) on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. It is a land of unique natural and cultural features that dates back to ancient times. The egalitarian spirit of enlightenment still survives in the region.

Sramana cultural legacies and distinct genealogies indicated in toponymy

The ancient history of Kerala’s people survives in family and place names, despite violent conquests and erasures, or Sanskritisation. Even after centuries of elitist alterations and tampering, almost all place and family names have their origins and etymologies in Tamil and Pali (the ancient language of Theravada Buddhism). Studies in toponymy and onomastics indicate that name endings ‘pally’ and chery[i]—abundant even today—originated in ancient Pali and Tamil languages (Valath 1991). Non-Hindus in South India use the word ‘pally’ (denoting a vihara, or basati, a Jain vestige) in South India to mark their holy places of worship and communion. The word pallykkoodam, for school, has the same origin. ‘Chery’ was originally a Buddhist monastery, and later, the term came to denote ‘the dwelling place of Avarnas’[ii]. Place names like Karthikappally, Perumpally, and Dhanapally indicate that there were many ancient sramanapallys (Buddhist viharas or shrines) in the region. Buddhism survived well into the 13th or 14th centuries in this wetland area. Its marshes isolated it from the Brahmanical conquest of central Kerala that began in the 7th century, which had, by the early Middle Ages, extended to large parts of the rest of what is now Kerala. That Buddhism in the Mahayana form survived until as late as the 16th century in some smaller areas like Vaikom, Kilirur, and Nilamperur, can be attributed to the Chera prince, Pallyvanar II. There are several popular legends about this and P. C. Alexander, S. N. Sadasivan and the present author have extensively written on it.

A collusion of priests and militia resulted in the capture of these ancient pallys in the Middle Ages, and their conversion into Hindu Brahmanical Kshetras (temples). Purity-pollution rules and the institutionalised practice of untouchability were imposed. The still-surviving architecture of these ancient shrines and old households in Kerala is identical to the Buddhist architecture in China, Japan, and Korea, indicating its close connections and past linkages through various schools of Buddhism such as Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. The Kallissery Nalukettu (traditional Kerala household with four wings and a central yard) that still exists in Mangalam, Arattupuzha, is a prime example. It may be observed that an ettukettu (eightfold structure), has numerical analogies related to the ‘eightfold path and four noble truths’ of the teachings of Buddha. It was built 250 years ago by Perumal Chekor, the grandfather of Velayudhan. The place name ‘Mangalam’ also has Buddhist connections through the ‘Mahamangala Sutta’. The Ilamko epic Silapatikaram on Kannaki also refers to her as a patini or mangala devi as enshrined in the Mangala Devi Kottam (temple) which is in Kumily, in the Western Ghats. There are numerous places in South India and Sri Lanka that have ‘mangalam’ in their names.

Sramanapallys, and the communities they were a part of, survived in isolated wetland areas of Kerala even after the conquests of Brahmanic forces in the 8th and 9th centuries, specifically in the Vembanad, Kayamkulam, Ashtamudi, and Sasthamkotta backwaters. The significance of the number eight in Ashtamudi also suggests a reference to the ‘eightfold path’. There are other linguistic references in Kerala connected to the significance of the number eight (ettu in Malayalam), such as ettum-pottum or ettinte-pani, It is also remarkable to observe that Sramana traditions in the corrupted and disguised form of Chathan worship also survived in the western part of the Thrissur Kole wetlands. Peringottukara and its Kanady Madom are cases in point. The same Chathan Seva (worship of Chathan) is happening in Kattumadam Mana in a Brahmanical way in Vannerinadu, in the north, on the southern banks of the river Nila. It may also be remembered that the Sanskrit text, Tantra Samuchayam, was written by Chennas Nambutiripad in Vannerinadu in the 16th century, to assimilate the Tantric cults related to Vajrayana, which was still flourishing in the region in the late Middle Ages.

Hegemonic invasions and appropriations

It should also be noted that Tantric practices are integrated more deeply into the Nambutiri Brahmanism of Kerala than in any other region in India. The temple system is controlled by the Brahmanic priestocracy, including the Tantris, Mel, and Kizh Santis, which indicates that they were Vajrayanis and Mahayanis in the past. The meaning of the caste name ‘Nambutiri’ refers to one whose faith (nambu) has shifted, in this case from Buddhism to Brahmanism. This is perhaps why they are considered to be ‘lower’ Brahmans by the Brahmans of North India, and why the Nambutiris are identical in appearance to Keralites with Avarna or Buddhist lineages. In their house names as well, Pali root words like ‘pally’ and ‘chery’ are abundant. These families were related to Avarna households through kinship or ritual-pollution linkages, and through the traditional sacred laundry system of vannatimatu. The Azhvanchery Brahman lord (tampran) was given the position of supreme leader of Brahmanism in Kerala, as he was the first Buddhist scholar to convert to Vedic Brahmanism in northern Kerala. Even so, ‘chery’ remains part of his household name, retaining the reference to ‘the abode of the Buddhist monks’ earlier, and ‘Avarna’ later.

Naga deities in the sacred groves of households to the south west of Kallissery are another indication of the antiquity of those families. According to local people, there were four such groves that no longer exist. Animism and nature worship were encouraged by Buddhist nuns and monks who created these sangha aramas (sacred groves), for eco-cultural conservation among the common people. There is an old folk saying dating from Asokan conservationist culture, that if you disturb the kavu (grove), then the kulam (pond) will dry up. After embracing Buddhism, Asoka the Great, who ruled in the 3rd century BC, instituted an ethical administration, which encouraged a culture of environmental conservation supported by official policy.

Exclusion and survival in the margins

During the Middle Ages, followers of Buddhism and Jainism were pushed to the eastern frontiers of Kerala, and into the highest elevations of the Western Ghats. They were forced into these areas by Brahmanism and its subservient Sudra henchmen, which together were called the Savarna (caste Hindus). This was the elitist and hegemonic culture of Kerala that is a product of the infamous ‘sexual colonies’, and of the nocturnal alliance called sambandham that gave birth to the manipravalam wedlock-culture and writing (Ilamkulam 2001). Achankovil, Sabarimala, and Anamalai Sramana settlements are relics of these ravaged cultures that are now being Hinduised.

The very place name Arattupuzha is associated with Perumpally, which lies to its south. ‘Arattupuzha’ refers to the annual celebration in the pally called arattu, which is still retained by Savarna Hinduised temples, as is the annual ritual of pally vetta.[xi] The huge river or puzha here was used for the ritual bathing ceremony of the deity of Perumpally, which literally means ‘large Buddhist shrine’.

Because of their historic struggles with Brahmanism, caste, and its subservient henchmen, the Kallissery Ezhava household in Arattupuzha produced generations of warriors who were well-trained in martial arts, such as kalaripayattu, medical practices like Ayurveda, and astrology. They were also well-versed in Sanskrit, and some members of that household, including the grandfather of Velayudha (Kalliseril Perumal Chekor) were experts in even the ‘tulunadan’ style of kalari (Vasavapanicker 1980:12)[xii]. It is evident that they were associated with the protection of the Perumpally here, and even after the Savarna conquests, they preserved some of their self-defence practices and were able to effectively resist Savarna aggression and violence in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The retention of kallu or kall (stone) in the name of the household is also evidence of a connection with Sramana, as kallu is associated with those place names with affixes like ‘Kottam’ or ‘Vattam’ or ‘Kuti’—all referring to the ancient stone-based architecture introduced by the Sramana sages in Kerala. Examples of this are Kallil, Pappinivattom, and Kuttippuram (Valath 1991).

Fighting back and fighting caste in 19th century Kerala

Recently, there has been a renewed interest in his struggle against the violent empire of caste and Hindu Brahmanism that still linger and have assumed fierce proportions. A foundation was formed recently to study his ethical and anti-caste resistance legacy. A community hall, the temple founded by him, and the Kallissery household are some of the monuments that still preserve his memory in his birthplace, Arattupuzha.

The Sramana people of South Kerala—later known as Avarnas, or untouchables under Hindu Brahmanism because of their Sramana ancestry—were severely oppressed in the early Middle Ages by the invading Brahmanical conquests that were carried out by the Sudra militias. The Bahujans, or Buddhist people, were caught—literally—between the devil and the deep sea. In this context, we may also remember Boddhi Dharma (‘Damo’ or ‘Tamo’ in many parts of the world), who fled to China in the 6th century (when Brahmanism came south into the Pallava and Chera kingdoms), and there performed ‘kalari’ as kung fu in the Shaolin Temple. The Tamils celebrate him as a Pallava prince from Kanchi. Some Dalit artists and activists in Kerala also claim that he is a Chera prince from Vanchi or Muziris or Kodungallur. Thus, it is clear that the self-defence practices of kalari, Kung Fu, taekwondo, and karate have a common Buddhist origin that dates to Asokan times.

Multilateral and cultural resistance

Velayudha Chekavar established a brotherhood of sociocultural activists made up of young men from the untouchable community of Arattupuzha (Jose 2017; Sathyaprakasam1998:12). He established a troupe and school called ‘kaliyogam’ or ‘kalari’, which trained young Avarnas to perform Kathakali—something that they were officially prohibited from doing. This lasted till his death and produced many artists from the untouchable community. Sudras furiously protested Kathakali performances by untouchable youths and tried unsuccessfully to ban them, but Panicker went on to help Avarnas in Changanassery and Kottayam to establish their own kaliyogams, or clubs, in their localities (Gopan 2006; Sathyaprakasam 1998:13). In his doctoral dissertation, C. Gopan elaborates on the involvement of Panicker with the Chakasery Ezhava household, and the successful staging of Kathakali performances in places near Kottayam in the mid-19th century. Panicker and his sons, along with friends from various Dalit Bahujan communities, performed on stage, refuting caste taboos and customs, and thereby, infuriating the caste henchmen who unleashed a series of physical and legal battles against them. According to the caste Hindu men, Panicker and his followers were Sudras, and the Ezhavas were Chandals or Avarnas—untouchables. According to them, it was against the Varnasramadharma tradition to allow Avarnas to perform the roles of the gods of Hindu Sanatana Dharma on stage before the ceremonial lamp, wearing ornaments and the divine crown.

Velayudha Panicker also supported the most marginalised communities—now known as Dalits—by running night schools and kalaris for them (Jose 2017). His institutions were open to all sections of society. He also supported them by assisting them with building new huts and renewing old thatches. This interest in members of the lowest social strata later influenced Avarna poets like Muloor to compose his well-known Pulavrithangal, which portrayed the life and struggles of Dalits (Sathyaprakasam 1998:13). Narayana Guru’s model for the housing and education of Dalit children in his ashrams (refuge) was deeply influenced by the earlier fraternal groups established by Arattupuzha. Social change and conversion was in the air in Nanjinad in the mid-19th century, soon after the missionary intervention in south Travancore, in relation to the breast cloth controversy and the Channar revolt; Panicker spread the word of sociocultural change among the people and prompted Avarna women to cover their breasts with cloths in public. In the Kayamkulam Market, when an Avarna woman was stripped and humiliated by Nair men, Panicker and his followers retaliated immediately with counter attacks (Sekher 2017; Sathyaprakasam 1998:13).

The Sudra lords who carried out the heinous crime of violating women’s modesty in public were sentenced to death and executed immediately. This shocked the Savarna hegemony around Kayamkulam and ended it forever. Panicker distributed breast cloths to Avarna women to wear in public, and from then on, no agent of Brahmanism dared to touch any Avarna women in and around Kayamkulam (Jose 2017; Sathyaprakasam 1998:13).

Freedom, fraternity, and equality

To add to this terror treatment, Panicker told the Avarnas (Dalit Bahujans) not to work for the Savarna upper castes. The Nair feudal lords were brought to their knees by this labour refusal. They publicly apologised before the humiliated Avarna woman, and only then did Panicker withdraw his labour strike. During this time, he gave food and minimum wages to thousands of agricultural labourers in the region (Sathyaprakasam 1998:14). Clearly, such early labour strikes must have influenced later Dalit leaders like Ayyankali to organise protest strikes for educational rights. According to several reports in Satyaprakasm and Dalitbandhu in Pandalam Market, too, this was repeated. Panicker made and distributed at least 1,000 gold nose rings among Avarna women in Pandalam and asked them to wear them in public. No Nair lord dared touch them. This historic episode is known as the Mukuti Struggle.

Velayudha Panicker also practised inter-caste dining. He enjoyed inter-caste meals with Dalits—mostly Pulayas and Parayas—of his region, which was a shocking thing to do in early 19th century Kerala (Sathyaprakasam 1998:15). Sahodaran Ayyappan, who organised the first documented inter-caste dining in the history of Kerala at Cherai in 1917, must have been inspired by the oral history on Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker and his practice of this same radically subversive act almost a century before and a few hundred miles south (Sekher 2012).

Selfless sacrifice and multiple ethical legacies

A henchman sent by the caste Hindu lords assassinated Panicker as he slept in his boat in the Kayamkulam Kayal near Perumpally. He was 49 years old. It is believed that Topiyitta Kittan, a new convert to Islam, was probably hired by the Brahmanical ruling class to carry out this heinous act. He had been an employee of Chekavar but had been fired on account of fraud at the Kallissery estate. The caste Hindu forces were able to make him channel his resentment into committing this murder. We may also remember the popular local narratives on the encounter between the ‘Robin Hood of Kerala’, Kayamkulam Kochunni, and Panicker. According to this story, when the former tried to kill Panicker in his sleep, he suddenly woke and caught Kochunni red-handed, but then spared his life. Chekavar showed that clemency and generosity because he was aware that Kochunni was also an Avarna and from a Buddhist lineage, even though he was a Muslim. He also knew that it was the caste Hindu forces behind this assassination attempt, and thus spared his brother’s life. Arattupuzha was assassinated in a criminal act by Brahmanical agents. However, the spirit of resistance and rebellion against hegemony was born and the cause of social justice and human rights lives on. The agenda of radical revolution, and democratic cultural politics and struggle unleashed by this immortal activist against the caste and Savarna Brahmanic hegemony of Kerala was unique, contemporary, and way ahead of its time.

His activism was based on concrete socio-political intervention and change. He also stressed the importance of art and culture in emancipation. His practice of kalari martial arts, Ayurveda, astrology, and Kathakali articulate the significance of representation, cultural politics, and cultural capital in his struggle for equity and justice. His mode of temple installations reinforces the spiritual quests, needs, and awakening of the masses on ethical and spiritual planes.

His local institution buildings, including schools and libraries, embody the primacy of welfare governance and constitutional frameworks. His counter-resistance and physical revolts reinforce the social and material mobility of the subaltern. He offers an inspiring example to social activists, radical reformers, and cultural policy planners, as well as to people in governance and social activists. He has inspired generations of social reformers, philosophers, spiritual leaders, cultural activists, and democratic fighters, and remains a source of inspiration for future democratic struggles in and around Kerala.

Martyrdom and iconic status in anti-caste early renaissance struggles

The moment you alight at Mangalam, in Arattupuzha, the small but beautiful temple, surrounded by white sand, and the community hall erected in the memory of Velayudha Panicker, will catch your eye. There is a huge banyan tree at the bus stop, situated between the road and the Arabian Sea, and plenty of peepal trees around the temple. The lotus pond, and another pond with green water plants, are cool and soothing. Unfortunately, however, the temple is now under renovation and the original simplicity, accessibility, and openness are giving way to closed caste Hindu models.

The temple in Mangalam was founded by Panicker in early 1851. In 1856, he built one more temple in Cheruvaranam, near Chertalai. Kandiyur Matatil Viswanadhan Gurukkal, a Virasaiva Tantri, performed the consecration for him. He allowed all people, irrespective of caste, creed, or gender, to enter and worship in these temples. It is important to note that this happened almost three decades before Narayana Guru’s Aruvippuram installation of 1888[xv]. Narayana Guru received his education at the Varanapally household on the eastern banks of Kayamkulam Kayal (where Panicker found his wife, Velumbi). He was clearly aware of the socio-spiritual and anti-caste legacy of Velayudha Panicker. N.K. Jose observes that Narayana Guru had even gone twice to meet Chekavar during his educational years at Varanapally and Kummanpally in Kayamkulam, but was unsuccessful. It is notable that Narayana Guru received his basic primary education from the Kudipallykoodam system in Kerala, which is a clear relic of Buddhist pallys and pallykoodams. Kudi and pura also refer to the earliest Buddhist settlements. Chattambi Swamikal, Narayana Guru’s elder contemporary, also received his primary education at Pettayil Raman Pilla Asan’s kudipallykoodam and kalari near Trivandrum. Despite being the son of a Brahman, he was denied the Sanskritic Gurukula entry along with Brahman Unnis (boys) because he was accused of having a Sudra mother.

As an early 19th century activist and interventionist against caste and Brahmanism, Panicker tried to acquire the cultural and symbolic capital monopolised by Savarnas—temple worship, education, learning, arts like Kathakali, and religious ritual practices including temple rituals. That is why during the 1840s and 1850s he travelled extensively along the western coast of India, to Vaikom, Guruvayoor, and even up to Goa. He disguised himself as a Brahman to enter Brahmanical temples there, and find out the subtle nuances and cultural distinctions of Brahmanical tantric worship. After a great deal of observation and study, he composed a simple and egalitarian ritual and performed his own idol installations in south Kerala in the 1850s. This observation and critical appropriation by Panicker could not be rejected as mere Sanskritisation and imitation. It is something beyond cultural mimicry, having greater historic reasons, political goals, and strategic essentialism. These current Hindu temples were all Buddhist shrines and pallys or viharas that had been modified into Brahmanical ones after the Middle Ages through hegemonic appropriations, Saiva-Vaishnava devotional frenzy, the alliance of priests and militia, and cheating of the people (Ilamkulam 2001; Alexander 1949; Gopalakrishnan 2008). After the takeover, the original owners were cast away as untouchables and even ‘un-seeables’. They were even violently killed for coming near the old shrines, as in the 1806 Dalavakulam massacre at Vaikom Shrine, which was one of the last Mahayana pallys to be converted in the mid-16th century.

Spiritual and cultural politics and strategies for the people

Legend has it that Brahmanical henchmen chased Panicker even up to Cherthala, from Guruvayoor, on finding out that he was an Avarna or untouchable Ezhava. He travelled by traditional boat (with paddles), by horse, and by elephant during his expeditions and explorations along the south coast. Because of this, local people still cherish his memory and talk about him as a saviour, martyr, and ethical fighter for human dignity and rights. He was indeed a martyr. Through various kinds of struggles against caste Hindu hegemony, he worked tirelessly for the liberation of his community and that of similar Avarna communities in his region who had Buddhist genealogies of writing, learning and resistance. His historic struggle in 1867, against the Edapally prince for the freedom of movement, is a true forerunner of Ayyankali’s Villuvandi struggles in the 1890s.

Mr Raveendran, who runs a hotel near the temple at Mangalam, has a portrait of Panicker on the wall, and is articulate about his legacy. People in the locality still remember the primary school and small library founded by Panicker in Arattupuzha in the early 1850s. Though these pioneering institutions vanished after Panicker’s assassination, the memories and emancipating spirit are still with the local people. A library, established in 1924, is named after Asan near the temple and the Kallissery household that still survives.

Greater cultural legacies and shared history

The Kallissery Nalukettu, made of teak by his grandfather Perumal Chekor in the 17th century, has survived the ravages of time, although some parts are demolished and in decay. The government should take immediate steps to protect this historic monument and preserve it for posterity as a museum of cultural history, social justice, and human rights in Kerala. It should be developed into a local museum of the Kerala Renaissance and modernity.

The surrounding government schools, temple, ponds, library, community hall, and Kallissery household should be transformed into a cultural complex and become part of the shared heritage of Arattupuzha, Alappuzha, and Kerala in general. The ancient household and the associated monuments of this legendary fighter of caste could form an appropriate memorial for the Kerala Renaissance as well. Archaeological studies and excavations on this narrow land bridge, which includes Thottapally, Trikunnapuzha, Arattupuzha, and Perumpally, may also reveal vital treasures related to Kerala’s Buddhist past and its world connections. Trikunnapuzha is the historical site of a world renowned vihara called Srimulavasam (Ilamkulam 2001; Narayanan 2005). The government should initiate a ‘Srimulavasam cultural project’—in the manner of the Muziris heritage project—to locate and conserve this ecologically and culturally sensitive landscape. This would attract the world’s attention and enhance support for Buddhist countries in Southeast Asia.


 Chery is originally the monastic settlement of Buddhists and later from the middle ages after Hinduization, it denotes the settlements and slums of Avarnas or untouchables outside the Chaturvarnya who had Buddhist lineages.

 Historians like Ilamkulam and Valath have suggested this notion on many occasions. It is also in the common parlance used in Kerala. Lamasery or the abode of the Lamas is an example in English, originally from Tibetan. Lamas are Tibetan Vajrayana monks.

 The Mangala Sutta is a discourse (Pali: sutta) of the Buddha on the subject of 'blessings' (mangala, also translated as 'good omen' or 'auspices' or 'good fortune'.

 Kannaki is a legendary Tamil woman who forms the central character of the Tamil epic Silapathikaram (100-300 AD).

Patini is a virtuous wife figure, Mangaladevi is a Buddhist and Jain auspicious deity having affiliations with Mahamaya or Tara or the Jain Yakshis.

 Cheran Chenguttuvan, the king of ancient Tamilakam, had erected the temple for Kannaki around 2000 years back at Vannathiparai and called it 'Kannagi Kottam' or 'Mangaladevi Kannagi temple' and performed regular pujas.

These are commonly used phrases that gives various meanings to the number eight, all derived from the 8fold paths or Ashtangamarga of the Buddha.

Chathan a corrupt Hinduized form of Sasta or Boddhisatva of Buddhism.

 Peringottukara is a village in the western coastal side of India, located in the western side of the Thrissur District which is one of the 14 districts of Kerala. The famous Chathan seva temples are located in Peringottukara, such as Peringottukara Devasthanam, Avanangattu Kalari, Kanadi Madom.

Followers of Vajrayana and Mahayana Buddhist traditions respectively.

 The ritual hunt in a Pally and now in a Hindu temple as part of annual festival.

Related to Tulunad the northern most tip of Kerala above Kasaragod bordering with south Karnataka up to Konkan.

 I have visited Arattupuzha on many occasions since May 19, 2011, and have seen mementos of this great 19th century anti-caste crusader. I have longed to visit since I began my doctoral dissertation on caste and marginality in Kerala and India. These places are rich with the history of resistance by culturally and economically marginalised people against caste, Brahmanism, and the Savarna hegemonic elitist culture of Kerala. Mr K.K. Kunnath, playwright and local historian from Perumpally, south of Arattapuzha, spoke to me in May, 2001, about the anti-caste legacy of Velayudha Panicker.

 In recent times, another narrative has been created by caste Hindu forces and elite pundits, claiming that Muslim men humiliated the Ezhava women in Kayamkulam Market. This version is strategically deployed by caste Hindu spokespersons to create a schism between Ezhavas and Muslims. If these large Other Backward Caste (OBC) groups form an alliance, it will be the end of the Brahman-Sudra caste Hindu alliance in Kerala. Through such cunning narratives, the caste Hindu hegemony achieves two things—to absolve itself of the historical heinous crime, and to thrust it upon the ‘demonised other’ of the Muslim ‘terrorist’ or ‘anti-social’. This is an easily available communal strategy to orchestrate this kind of divide and rule over the Avarnas and minorities. The same tactics were used by caste Hindu lords to assassinate Arattupuzha, using a newly converted Muslim called Topiyitta Kittan (the Kittan who wore a skullcap). Such an act can instigate a communal feud and the real perpetrators would go unrecognised.
Arun Ferreira

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Arun Ferreira is an Indian activist. He was arrested in 2007 for alleged links to the Indian Naxalite movement and spent five years in prison before he was acquitted in 2012. He began a career as a criminal lawyer defending political prisoners. He was arrested again in August 2018 and is currently lodged in Taloja prison along with other accused of the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence.

Early life

Ferreira’s career and interests in social activism were strongly influenced by his close relationship with his family, specifically his uncle, Father Raymond D’Silva, who was also a liberation theologist. As a member of the All-India Catholic University Students’ Association, he began to explore the strong social sinfulness of the millions of impoverished people and why there is so much poverty while at the same time india is abundant in resources. D’Silva taught many Catholic youths about the strong social imbalances between the wealthy, and the impoverished. Ferreira was raised hearing about the unequal distribution of resources and the rich who always remained in control.

Ferreira’s attended St Xaviers College in early 1990s and as a student, he took a large part in an organization called Cheshire home, assisting in reading to blind children and orphans.. Arun also became interested in liberation theology, and then grew to express his thoughts about liberation overpowering theology, and soon adopted a more radical view of politics and the rights that human beings should be given and graduated in 1993 from St. Xavier.

After graduating, Ferreira worked in favor of the slum-dwellers and squatters of Mumbai, where he became involved in helping slum rehabilitation at Dindoshi where he worked for the relocation of slums from Colaba to Goregaon.


Ferreira attended St Xaviers College in Mumbai. During his time there, he was known to aid the annual blood donation drive by sketching caricatures for those who donated blood.

From 2014 to 2016, he attended Siddharth Law College and received his degree in law.


He moved to Chandrapur in 2001 until 2006 when along with Arun Bhelke, he started the Deshbhakti Yuva Manch to recruit more youths for the banned outfit, Communist Party of India (Maoist). Arun was horrified at the brutal killings of four members of a dalit family on September 29, 2006 in Khairlanji village (Bhandara district) and the police and government’s attempt at a coverup. Arun was active in the post-Khairlanji protests — the protesters’ endeavour was to hasten the emergence of an uncompromising leadership among the dalits, and to find support for the dalit cause among the underprivileged kunbis, marathas and “other backward classes”. He was also organising students in Chandrapur, some of whom (of the Deshbakth Yuva Sanghatan) have since been persecuted by the police.As reported by the Chandrapur superintendent of police, Cherring Dorje, Ferreira used to run a government banned organisation named Vidyarthi Pragati Sangathana in Mumbai. The Vidyarthi Pragati Sanghatana is a student organisation that took many struggles and campaigns for the rights of students and other oppressed sections. With his VPS comrades, Arun Ferreira hoped to transform a class- and caste-ridden country into a more just and equitable one. He was a big part of the organisation’s decision-making process, fighting for the democratisation of student councils in the various colleges, cultivating student-worker and student-peasant solidarity, the latter, buttressed by its “go-to-the-village”campaigns.

He was arrested in his late 30s on May 8, 2007 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on charges of sedition and spent four years and eight months at the Nagpur jail. Here he began to draw and these sketches marked the beginning of Ferreira’s book Colours of the Cage (Aleph).

In 2008, Arun Ferreira started a hunger strike along with other imprisoned activists. Over the course of his sentence, Arun Ferreira had 11 cases filed against him under the UAPA and the Arms Act.

After his acquittal in 2011, Ferreira completed his degree from Siddharth Law College and began working as a lawyer in December 2016. He then became a part of the ‘Indian Association of People’s Lawyers’ and the ‘Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights’. IAPL was created to gather lawyers involved in the legal support of collective struggles for people’s rights and in situations of gross rights violations. The main objective of the CPDR has been to educate people on their democratic rights as provided in the Constitution of India and struggle against violation of civil rights by the state as well as civil society elements. Arun Ferreira carried out social work with an NGO, Naujawan Bharat Sabha, which was a left-wing Indian association that sought to foment revolution against the British Raj, (the rule by the British Crown in the Indian subcontinent), by gathering together worker and peasant youths. This social work was deemed “covert Naxalite activity” which was cause for more charges. Arun works to protect rights of minorities and is critical of the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Arun stated in a 2015 interview that there has been in increase in attacks on Christians and Muslims since Modi came to power. He believes the government is responsible for anti-minority propaganda and stirring feelings of hate towards minorities.

2007 arrest and imprisonment

Ferreira was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and imprisoned in 2007. He spent four years and eight months in Nagpur jail as a political under trial. He was kept in solitary confinement. During this time, he took up cartooning again. All of his charges were dropped in September 2011 only for him to be arrested again in 2012. He was released on 4 January 2012 with the dropping of all his charges. His lawyer at the time was Surendra Gadling.

On his release, he published a book on his experiences in prison, titled Colours of the Cage. In his book, he detailed his own experiences of torture and solitude, the life of prisoners, and the policies that govern them. In his memoir, he recounted many instances of the harsh nature of the Nagpur jail and the harsh questioning tactics used by the police. While Ferreira was being questioned, not only was he interrogated by the local Nagpur police, he was questions by officers from the Anti-Naxal cell he was placed in along with the Anti-Terrorism Squad, the Intelligence Bureau and even the Special Intelligence Bureau of Andhra Pradesh. He was interrogated for ten days. After all preliminary interrogation techniques failed, he was transported to a Hospital where the government authorized sodium pentothal to be used for Ferreira’s narco-analysis where he was questioned while under the influence of the drug. This ensured that the forensic scientists and psychologists could get true answers about Ferreira’s background as an activist. While in jail, the Nagpur Police continued to carry out searches in Ferreira’s residence and spread the news that he was a high-ranking leader of the banned Communist Party of India and he was responsible for spreading violence around the country. Ferreira denies any news about spreading violence and harming citizens. On 29 January 2014, he was acquitted of all charges .

2018 arrest

In August 2018, Ferreira was again arrested for connections to organizing “Elgaar Parishad”, an event that marks the 200th year of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018. The Battle of Bhima Koregaon is controversial in India with right-wing groups claiming that it was a battle between British and Indian rulers and left-wing groups claiming that the battle was a victory against caste-based oppression. The event was violent and allegedly, the police had uncovered a letter that included plans to assassinate the Prime Minister. Currently, Ferreira is under house arrest with policeman posted in his complex after the Supreme Court intervened in the arrest. His arrest was part of a multi-city operation by the Pune Police, in which they also arrested Sudha BharadwajVaravara RaoVernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha, and raided the residences of Anand TeltumbdeFr Stan Lourduswamy SJ and K. Satyanarayana.

Aruna Kori
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Minister of Women and Culture Development
In office
15 March 2012 – 19 March 2017
Constituency Bilhaur, kanpur
Personal details
Born 15 March 1973
Nationality Indian
Political party Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohiya) (2019-present)
Samajwadi Party (before 2019)
Spouse(s) Umesh Chandra Kori
Residence Sahdullapur, PAC road kanpurUttar Pradesh
Profession Politician

Aruna Kori (born 15 March 1973) is an Indian politician and social Worker. She represented to Bilhaur constituency as MLA by Samajwadi Party. And she was also the Minister of Women Welfare and Culture of Government of Uttar Pradesh,
Early life and education

A leader of Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party, Kori started his career at Samajwadi Party and She is the first woman to be Uttar Pradesh Minister of Women and Child development. She has been elected first time as a Member of member of legislative assembly from Bilhaur, kanpur. She is the Uttar Pradesh youngest Women Minister.
Political life

 Arun Kumari Kori, 39, was the only woman minister in the council of 48 ministers of Uttar Pradesh. She is being entrusted with the portfolios of women welfare and culture.

However, there is a confusion regarding her name. She was sworn in as Aruna Kori, not Arun Kumari Kori, her correct name. "Actually my name was entered there as Aruna Kumari and even during oath taking ceremony it was mentioned as Aruna Kumari, which is why I signed and took oath as Aruna Kumari," says Arun Kumari Kori.

It's not only about her name. Even there is a confusion regarding her age. While contesting elections in 2007, she declared her age as 35 in her affidavit to the election commission. While in 2012 she mentioned her age as 38. Clearing this confusion she said, "My date of birth is 11th March 1973. Somebody wrongly wrote my age as 35 in the affidavit in 2007."

Who is to blame for this? No points for guessing. That's where the controversy ends as of now. Here starts the fairy tale of Arun Kumari Kori.

Being a Dalit and a young female face of the Samajwadi Party, she perfectly fits the bill. Samajwadi Party, undergoing change, decided to induct her in the ministerial council of young Akhilesh Yadav, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. Akhilesh himself is just 38.

Though she is very young but she could very well be called a veteran in politics. She fought election a year before Akhilesh fought his first election. At the age of 26, she was a Samajwadi Party candidate from Ghatampur in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections. She almost caused an upset losing election by only 105 votes. She was defeated by Bahujan Samajwadi Party's heavyweight Pyare Lal Sankhwar. She got 1,56,477 votes. Pyare Lal Sankhwar got 1,56,582 votes.

To put it in perspective, Akhilesh fought his first election in 2000. He became an MP when he contested a by-election in Kannauj - a seat vacated by his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav. He has been the Kannauj MP since. Now even he has to vacate this seat very soon.

It was a good start to Arun Kumari's political career. Considering she just graduated in MA (Sociology) in 1996 from Kanpur University and within three years she was about to win a Lok Sabha seat, couldn't be called a bad start in any sense. She attributes her entry into politics to her father-in-law, Buddha Chandra.

"My father-in-law retired as DIG and joined Samajwadi Party. He was made a MLC and also a minister. He is the one who brought me into politics," says Arun Kumari.

In 2002, she was given a SP ticket to contest Assembly elections in 2002 from Bhognipur, a reserved seat from Kanpur Dehat. She came out with flying colours. She defeated her closest rival Nirmala Sankhwar of BSP by a margin of almost 10 thousand votes.

However, in 2007, she could not hold on to her seat. She was defeated by Raghunath Prasad of BSP by only 3,096 votes. She got 33,733 votes. Raghunath Prasad got 36,829 votes. Samajwadi Party also fared badly. They could win only 80 seats, a complete turnaround of fortune. In 2002 they had won 143 seats.

Come 2012, Arun did what she was supposed to do. Riding an anti-Mayawati wave, she won from Bilhaur, a reserved seat (SC) from Kanpur Dehat, by a handsome margin. She got 87,804 votes. Her nearest rival Kamlesh Chandra Diwakar of BSP got 71,747 votes.

Being only a second time MLA, she was not expected to be a minister this time. But her selection was done more in order to appease communities and caste equations than in keeping with Akhilesh's youth image, it seems.

She knows that a lot is expected of her. "I am feeling very good. Being the only woman minister, I will try to raise issues regarding women," she said.

She is one of those politicians who have no criminal record against her. She has assets worth Rs 59 lakhs (as declared in her affidavit), a sum considered modest these days for a politician.
Ashok Row Kavi

Photo Source: UAA Safezon/Facebook

Dubbed as the father of India’s gay community, Ashok Row Kavi has been at the forefront of Indian gay rights movement since the 1980s. The 69-year-old began his career in journalism in 1974 with The Indian Express. In his early years, he found it difficult to deal with his sexuality and joined the Ramakrishna Mission as a monk. A senior Hindu monk encouraged him to leave the monastery and engage in activism to explore and express his identity freely. Ashok founded India’s first gay magazine, Bombay Dost in 1990. He has been a representative at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam and was among the first people to speak openly about gays and gay rights in India. His coming out interview was published in Savvy magazine in 1986 and led to a huge uproar. He has worked constantly towards providing a platform for active participation of homosexuals in public life in the country. Currently, he is the founder-chairperson of Humsafar Trust, an LGBT and health organization that works towards legalizing homosexuality, gender awareness, and sexual minorities outreach.

From Wikipedia
Ashok Row Kavi (Amma)
Ashok Row Kavi
Born 1 June 1947, Mumbai, India
Occupation Writer and LGBT activist


He was born in Mumbai on 1 June 1947. He graduated with honours in Chemistry from the University of Bombay. Later, he dropped out of engineering college. Due to his early difficulty in dealing with his homosexuality, he enrolled as a Hindu monk in the Ramakrishna Mission and studied theology.[2] Encouraged by a senior monk, he left the monastery to freely explore and express his homosexuality. He has also studied at the International Institute for Journalism.


In a journalism career spanning 18 years, he worked in various newspapers and magazines, including India's largest circulated newspaper Malayala Manorama (as Western India Bureau-Chief), Sunday Mail and The Daily. For six years he was also senior reporter covering Science and Technology in The Indian Express group of newspapers. His career as a journalist began in 1974 with The Indian Express and was the chief reporter with The Free Press Journal from 1984 to 1989.

In 1971, he started Debonair, with friend Anthony Van Braband and later in 1990, he founded Bombay Dost, India's first gay magazine. He was a representative at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam and served as chairman of the Second International Congress on AIDS.

Although he retired from journalism in 1990, he has worked at providing a formal platform for homosexuals to become actively involved in public life and institutions through media, advocacy, co-operation and community-building. Row Kavi was the first person to openly talk about homosexuality and gay rights in India. His first coming out interview appeared in Savvy magazine in 1986. His mother, Shobha Row Kavi, also gave an interview to the same magazine; it was the first time that a mother spoke about her son's homosexuality to the Indian media.


At the present, he is founder-chairperson of the Humsafar Trust, an LGBT rights and health services NGO, which also agitates for the legal emancipation of homosexuality in India. The trust's work comprises community work, outreach into the gay and MSM groups, advocacy on gender and sexuality issues concerning sexual minorities and research into sexuality and gender issues. Besides running several intervention programmes (funded by national and international organisations and private donors) for HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections in Mumbai and Goa, Row Kavi and the trust have been lobbying with policy making bodies as well as supporting similar upcoming groups across the country.

In 1998, Row Kavi received a fellowship to design model questionnaires in the MSM sector at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS), University of California, San Francisco. Row Kavi has been a participant in various international and national fora, including the ICAAPs and the International HIV/AIDS Conferences, where he has made at least five oral presentations. As head of Humsafar, he has also organised the first 'Looking into the Next Millennium' conference of 32 MSM NGOs in Mumbai in May 2001 and co-organized the first ILGA-Asia conference in Mumbai in October 2002.

Row Kavi has been a regular contributor to newspapers, magazines and journals around the world, on homosexuality, gay rights and issues around HIV/AIDS. He is an active supporter of organisations like the Gay Bombay a LGBT social organisation in Mumbai.

Row Kavi is also NGO representative, Executive Committee, Mumbai District AIDS Control Society (MDACS); member, Technical Resource Group, Targeted Interventions, National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO); visiting faculty at Mumbai's Tata Institute of Social Sciences, the department of Clinical Psychology of the University of Mumbai, Nirmala Niketan, and the International Institute of Population Studies.

Row Kavi has been listed among India's Seven Most Influential Gay & Lesbian individuals by Pink Pages magazine.

In September 2017 India Times listed Kavi as one of the 11 Human Rights Activists Whose Life Mission Is To Provide Others with a Dignified Life


In 1995 on the Nikki Tonight show hosted by Nikki Bedi, Row Kavi related a story about how he had, in his youth, had a letter published in a magazine in which he described Mahatma Gandhi as a "bastard bania". The STAR TV show was widely criticised and considered irresponsible for broadcasting the story and it resulted in the cancellation of the show. Nikki Bedi and Row Kavi would soon make a public apology as well.
Allama Prabhu
From Wikipedia

Born : Early 12th century
Balligavi, Shimoga district, Karnataka, India

Died : 12th or 13th century

Religion : Hinduism

Sect : Lingayat-Shaivism of Hinduism

Known for
Virasaiva/Sharana movement

Poet, social reformer, philosopher

Allama Prabhu used poetry, now part of Vachana Sahitya literature, to criticise rituals and social conventions, to breakdown social barriers and to emphasize moral values and devotional worship of Shiva. It is well accepted that though Basavanna was the inspiration behind the Lingayath movement and earned the honorific "elder brother" (anna) at the "mansion of experience" (Anubhava Mantapa), Allama was the real guru who presided over it.

Allama Prabhu (Kannada: ಅಲ್ಲಮ ಪ್ರಭು) was a 12th-century mystic-saint and Vachana poet (called Vachanakara) of the Kannada language, propagating the unitary consciousness of Self and Shiva.Allama Prabhu is one of the celebrated poets and the patron saint of the Lingayata movement that reshaped medieval Karnataka society and popular Kannada literature. He is included among the "Trinity of Lingayathism", along with Basavanna, the founder of the movement, and Akka Mahadevi, the most prominent woman poet.

According to the scholars K. A. Nilakanta Sastri and Joseph T. Shipley, Vachana literature comprises pithy pieces of poetic prose in easy to understand, yet compelling Kannada language. The scholar E. P. Rice characterises Vachana poems as brief parallelistic allusive poems, each ending with one of the popular local names of the god Shiva and preaching the common folk detachment from worldly pleasures and adherence to devotion to the god Shiva (Shiva Bhakti).


The biographical details of Allama Prabhu that can be historically verified are scanty, and much that is known about him is from hagiographic legends. Some details of the early life of Allama are available in the writings of noted Hoysala poet Harihara, while other accounts are generally considered legendary. Allama Prabhu was born in Shimoga district of Karnataka, India, in the 12th century, to Sujnani and Nirashankara. He was a contemporary of the other famous Lingayat devotee-poets (sharanas), Basavanna and Akka Mahadevi. According to Harihara's biography of Allama, the earliest account of the saint's life, he was a temple drummer in modern Shivamogga district, Karnataka state, India. He came from a family of temple performers, was himself an expert at playing a type of drum called maddale, and his father was a dance teacher.

Allama Prabhu married a dancer named Kamalathe, but she died prematurely. The grief-stricken Allama wandered aimlessly, arriving at a cave temple, where he met the saint Animisayya (or Animisha, "the open eyed one"). The saint gave him a linga icon, blessed him with knowledge on god, and, Allama was enlightened and transformed into a seeker of spirituality. Allama's pen name, (ankita or mudra), Guheshvara the god who stays with every one in the heart cave (also spelt Guheswara or Guhesvara, lit, "Lord of the caves"), which he used in most of his poems is said to be a celebration of his experience in the cave temple.

Allama Prabhu spread his message with songs, playing a lyre as he wandered from place to place. Most of his compositions were spontaneous and in vernacular language, but some were written in Sandhya Bhasha (a code filled language of secret doctrines understood by Yogi Sidhas), a riddle-filled questions-packed poetry in the Vedic and Upanishadic tradition.

Allama died in Kadalivana near Srishila (Andhra Pradesh), and legend has it that he "became one with the linga".


Allama Prabhu's poetic style has been described as mystic and cryptic, rich in paradoxes and inversions (bedagu mode), staunchly against any form of symbolism, occult powers (siddhis) and their acquisition, temple worship, conventional systems and ritualistic practices, and even critical of fellow Veerashaiva devotees and poets. However, all his poems are non-sectarian and some of them even use straight forward language. About 1,300 hymns are attributed to him.

According to the Kannada scholar Shiva Prakash, Allama's poems are more akin to the Koans (riddles) in the Japanese Zen tradition, and have the effect of awakening the senses out of complacency. Critic Joseph Shipley simply categorises Allama's poems as those of a "perfect Jnani" ("saint"). Some of Allama's poems are known to question and probe the absolute rejection of the temporal by fellow Veerashaiva devotees–even Basavanna was not spared. A poem of his mocks at Akka Mahadevi for covering her nudity with tresses, while flaunting it to the world at the same time, in an act of rejection of pleasures. The scholar Basavaraju compiled 1321 extant poems of Allama Prabhu in his work Allamana Vachana Chandrike (1960). These poems are known to cover an entire range, from devotion to final union with God.

The poems give little information about Allama's early life and worldly experiences before enlightenment. In the words of the scholar Ramanujan, to a saint like Allama, "the butterfly has no memory of the caterpillar". His wisdom is reflected in his poems–only a small portion of which are on the devotee aspect (bhakta, poems 64–112). More than half of the poems dwell on the later phase (sthala) in the life of a saint, most are about union with god and of realization (aikya, poems 606–1321). His poems use the phrase "Lord of the caves" or "Guheswara" to refer to Shiva, and this practice states Subramanian is because Allama Prabhu received his enlightenment in a cave temple.

I saw the fragrance fleeing, when the bee came,

What a wonder!

I saw intellect fleeing, when the heart came.

I saw the temple fleeing, when God came.

— Allama Prabhu, Shiva Prakash 1997, pp. 179–180

The tiger-headed deer, the deer-headed tiger,

Joined at the waist.

Look, another came to chew close by

When the trunk with no head grazes dry leaves,

Look, all vanishes, O Guheswara.

— Allama Prabhu in Bedagu mode, Shiva Prakash 1997, p. 180

If the mountain feels cold, what will they cover it with?

If the fields are naked, what will they clothe them with?

If the devotee is wordly, what will they compare him with?

O! Lord of the caves!

— Allama Prabhu, Subramanian 2005, p. 219

Look here, the legs are two wheels;

the body is a wagon, full of things

Five men drive the wagon

and one man is not like another.

Unless you ride it in full knowledge of its ways

the axle will break

O Lord of Caves!

— Allama Prabhu, Ramanujan 1973, p. 149

Virasaiva and the vachanakaras

Allama was devoted to the worship of Shiva. He used his vachanas to spread Lingayathism, which is monotheistic and nondualistic, and has a strong egalitarian message. Its philosophy and practice is presented in the Panchacaras, five codes of conduct, and the Shatsthala, six phases or steps toward unity with Shiva. For the vacanakaras(Vachana poets), "first-hand 'seeing' was more important to their poetry than theological formulations." Nevertheless, the Shatsthala system provides a narrative structure to the vachanas, portraying a progress toward the union with Shiva. Later anthologies, with the notable exception of the Shoonya Sampadane, followed this scheme in their arrangement of the vachanas.

Although Allama Prabhu and the Vacanas have been qualified as bhakti poets, D.R. Nagaraj notes that Allama Prabhu was not a bhakti poet. Nagaraj explains that Allama's "insistence on opaque and mysterious modes of metaphor is in stark contrast with the emotionally transparent model of bhakti."

Social concerns

Allama Prabhu used poetry, now part of Vachana Sahitya literature, to criticise rituals and social conventions, to breakdown social barriers and to emphasize moral values and devotional worship of Shiva. The vacanakaras, of which Allama was a prominent spokesman, rejected both the 'great' traditions of Vedic religion and the 'little' local traditions, and questioned and ridiculed "classical belief systems, social customs and superstitions, image worship, the caste system, the Vedic ritual of yajna, as well as local sacrifices of lambs and goats."

During the fifteenth century Virashaiva priests consolidated the Virashaiva lore, over-emphasizing the theological and meta-physical aspects, and ignoring the socio-political aspects. The Shoonya Sampadane is a result of this consolidation, which is "a far cry from the socio-political pre-occupations of the twelfth-century movement."

Philosophy and religiosity

Allama Prabhu propagated the unitary consciousness of Self and Shiva, using poetry to express this unity. The vachanakaras regarded language as a limited means to express "the unitive experience of truth." Yet, the vachanas are seen as an expression of the Divine when, in Allama's words,

All Language is the essence of beyond of one knows oneself. All language is ignorance if one is unaware of oneself.

Allama's poetry and spirituality is "intensely personal and experimental," and the vachanas in general "bear [...] a highly complex relationship to other schools," which makes it very difficult to trace and establish exact influences and independent developments. Nevertheless, Allama's philosophy is described as monism and also as non-dualism ("advaita"). He de-emphasized the need to perfect difficult feats of Yogaand emphasized overcoming the boundaries between relative and absolute knowledge, between devotee and guru (teacher). He used his poetry to teach others, voicing a spirituality that is Nirguna (without attributes, qualities), yet uses Saguna devotionalism in order to metaphorically express what is inexpressible:

Without the duality – mind and mere bone,

For him who has merged his own Self with the Lord,

All actions are actions of linga alone.

With mind given rest from its usual toil,

For him who has merged his own Self with the Lord,

All thoughts of attainment his knowledge be spoil.

Himself into Self having joined with great yoke,

For him there's no dual, no unity broke,

O Lord of the Caves!

— Allama Prabhu, Translated by R Blake Michael

Writings on Allama Prabhu

Allama Prabhu was the protagonist of some important writings in the Kannada language. The Vijayanagara poet, Chamarasa, wrote Prabhulingalile (1430) in the court of King Deva Raya II, giving an account of the life and teachings of Allama Prabhu. In this work, Allama is considered an incarnation of the Hindu god Ganapati, and Parvati, the consort of the god Shiva, takes the form of the princess of Banavasi to test his detachment from the material world. So popular was the work, that the king had it translated into Tamil and Telugu languages. Later, translations were made into Sanskrit and Marathi languages.

With the intent of re-kindling the spirit of the 12th century, the Sunyasampadane("Achievement of nothingness" or "The mystical zero"), a famous anthology of Vachanapoems and Veerashaiva philosophy was compiled during the Vijayanagara era. It was compiled in four versions starting with the anthologist Shivaganaprasadi Mahadevaiah in c. 1400. Other versions by Halage Arya (1500), Siddhalingayati (1560) and Siddaveerannodaya (1570) are considered refinements. With Allama as its central figure, these anthologies give a vivid account of his interaction, in the form of dialogues, with contemporary saints and devotees. The quality of the work is considered very high.One of his work was translated in to Tamil by Karpanai Kalangiyam Sivaprakasa Swamigal as "Prabhu Linga Leelai".
Amit Jethwa
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Amit Jethwa
Amit Jethwa
Born 31 December 1975

Khambha, Gujarat
Died 20 July 2010 (aged 34)

High Court complex, Ahmedabad
Nationality Indian
Other names Amit Jethava
Education D.Pharm, B.A., LLb
Known for Environmentalism
Children Arjun Jethva

Bhikhubhai Jethva(Batawala) (father)

Amit Jethwa (also Amit Jethava) (1975 – 20 July 2010) was an Indian environmentalist and social worker, active in the Gir Forest area near Junagadh, Gujarat. He had filed several court cases against illegal mining in the protected area, naming, Dinu Solanki as one of the respondents. On 20 July 2010 he was shot dead by two assailants on a motorbike. In Sept 2012, the Gujarat High Court, severely criticized investigations by the Gujarat police who had "given a clean chit" to Solanki, despite arresting his nephew; the court ordered the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) to take up the case. In November 2013, CBI arrested BJP MP Dinu Solanki in connection with having ordered the murder.On 11 July 2019, Dinu Solanki and his nephew Shiva Solanki were convicted for the murder.


As the president of the Gir Nature Youth Club at Khambha, Amit Jethwa had been active in fighting against encroachment of forests and poaching. He was also instrumental in the five-year jail term of Bollywood actor Salman Khan for shooting an endangered Chinkara deer, a case that concluded after being pursued by activists for eight years. He also highlighted the use of a Chinkara deer in a scene in the movie Lagaan and opposed a Bhuj court decision which stayed an inquiry against the actor-director Aamir Khan.

He campaigned vigorously against corruption among officers of the Indian Forest Service, and opposed malafide application of article 356 of the. In 2007, he drew attention to the mysterious deaths of lions in Gir Forest including three that were shot within a few hundred meters of the Babariya forest guard outpost. Claiming that "Such a thing cannot be possible without support of some forest officials", Jethwa sought the suspension of an IFS officer. The incident ultimately led to the uncovering of a large lion poaching gang. He later campaigned against shifting of lions to the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. His efforts were often blocked by forest officials by charging him with offenses such as photographing a dead lion and trespassing.

In 2007, Jethwa contested the state assembly elections, but lost.

In 2008, Jethwa pursued the Right to Information Act for addressing grievances, and conducted workshops on the procedure to file requests under RTI to prevent corrupt practices and other mal-administration.

In 2010, Jethwa had filed a PIL petition questioning the state government's "inaction" over the appointment of a Lokayukta. The high court directed the government to appoint a Lokayukta. Jethwa had spearheaded the campaign against rising case pendency in the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) due to lack of commissioners. It was on his petition that the HC directed the state government to complete the appointments within a stipulated time. He again came to the rescue of thousands of RTI users by filing a writ petition in the HC and made the government accept Indian Postal Order (IPO) as one of the modes of payment to deposit fees while filing of RTI applications.

Investigations against illegal mining lobby

Since 2008, Jethwa had filed six requests under the Right to Information Act, probing the activities of an illegal mining lobby operating in the protected forest area just outside the Gir Forest National Park. At the time, Jethwa was badly beaten up by goons, allegedly from Solanki's party.

In mid-2010, he filed a Public interest litigation in the Gujarat High Court, citing evidence found, and naming local BJP politician Dinu Solanki and several relatives, for involvement in the illegal mining in the Gir Forest. He sought directives from the court for stopping power supply to all such mining centers.

In June 2010, a raid was conducted by the police and geology departments, and a number of mining equipment were seized. However, the equipment was subsequently stolen back. Dinu Bhai was issued a show-cause notice for imposing a penalty of RS 4.1 million on him.

Since BJP was the ruling party in the state, he appealed that the matter be investigated by an independent ombudsman or Lokayukta, a constitutional position that had been lying vacant in Gujarat since 2003. He had recently moved court to seek a judicial order to the state government to fill this post.


On 20 July, shortly after the case against Solanki was filed, Jethwa had gone to meet his lawyer near the Gujarat High court in Ahmedabad. As he was leaving the Satyamev complex, two assailants on a motorcycle shot him at close range with a country-made pistol. Despite being injured, he apparently tried to detain the assailants. Though they were able to get away, he was able to grab a kurta (long shirt) worn by one of the murderers; this had a laundry tag leading to Junagadh.[A police car was parked outside the court, and two policemen came out on hearing the single gunshot but failed to pursue the criminals, who escaped on foot.

Jethwa's family has alleged that he was under constant threat from Dinu Solanki for interfering with the powerful and illegal mining lobby in Saurashtra. At one point Solanki threatened him in front of a large gathering at a meeting in Kodinar, the area Solanki hails from. Jethwa had recently filed an affidavit at the Kodinar police station seeking protection and stating that he would be killed by Solanki. His father recently received a threatening phone call from Dinu Solanki.

A number of civil bodies and NGOs held a vigil in Ahmedabad on 21 July, seeking an independent investigation.

BJP MP Dinu Solanki arrested

During investigations, the police arrested constable Bahadursinh Wadher and then Pachan Silva, who was allegedly one of the hired killers. Later, on 6 September 2010, they arrested Shiva Solanki, nephew of Dinu Solanki, as the main accused in the case. According to police sources, Shiva had asked constable Bahadursinh to get Amit Jethawa eliminated. "Bahadur then planned the crime and executed it with the help of sharpshooters Shailesh Pandya and Pachan Shiva."

Despite the murder occurring within months of Jethwa's case naming Dinu Solanki, and also the arrest of his nephew, investigations by Gujarat Police crime branch had ruled out any role for Solanki himself. In September 2012, the Gujarat High Court heard an appeal in this matter by Amit Jethwa's father, and severely criticised the investigations by the Gujarat Police. The court commented that the investigations had been "far from fair, independent, bona fide or prompt.", and that Shiva Solanki and Dinu were living in the same joint family, and had very likely had some interactions. In similar cases, the Gujarat Police under the Narendra Modi government has been widely criticised for being extraordinarily politicised. The High Court directed that the case be transferred to the CBI.

In November 2013, Dinu Solanki was arrested by the CBI.


2010 (posthumous) Satish Shetty RTI Gallantry Award from National RTI Forum, a voluntary organisation working in the field of transparency.
2010 (posthumous) special jury award from NDTV environmental awards "the greenies".
2011 (posthumous) The National RTI award.
2011 (posthumous) NDTV Indian of the Year's LIC Unsung Hero of the Year Award with other RTI activists Dattatreya Patil, Vishram Dodiya, Satish Shetty and Vitthal Gite
Annabhau Sathe
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tukaram Bhaurao Sathe
Sathe on a 2002 stamp of India

1 August 1920

Wategaon sangli
Died 18 July 1969 (aged 48)

Nationality Indian
Other names Sahitya-samrat, Lokshahir, Annabhau
Occupation social reformer
Known for Novel writer, poet, film story writer

Notable work Samyukt Maharashtra Movement

Tukaram Bhaurao Sathe (1 August 1920 – 18 July 1969), popularly known as Annabhau Sathe, was a social reformer, folk poet, and writer from Maharashtra, India. Sathe was a Dalit born into the untouchable Mang community, and his upbringing and identity were central to his writing and political activism. Sathe was a Marxist-Ambedkarite mosaic, initially influenced by the communists but he later became an Ambedkarite. He is credited as a founding father of 'Dalit Literature'.

Early life

He was born on 1 August 1920, in Wategaon village, part of present-day Maharashtra's Sangli district, to a family that belonged to the untouchable Matang caste. Members of the caste used to play traditional folk instruments in Tamasha performances.

Annabhau Sathe did not study beyond class four. He migrated from Satara to Bombay, present-day Mumbai, in 1931, on foot, over a period of six months, following a drought in the countryside. In Bombay, Sathe undertook a range of odd jobs.


Sathe wrote 35 novels in the Marathi language. They include Fakira (1959), which is in its 19th edition and received a state government award in 1961. It is an interesting novel which tells the story of the protagonist; the stout young guy, named Fakira, his feat, his crusading for the rights of people of his community in the British Raj and his enmity towards the evil forces in the village. However, the cause from where the story progresses is the religious practice or ritual called 'Jogin' which gives a way to further actions. There are 15 collections of Sathe's short stories, of which a large number have been translated into many Indian and as many as 27 non-Indian languages. Besides novels and short stories, Sathe wrote a play, a travelogue on Russia, 12 screenplays, and 10 ballads in the Marathi powada style.

Sathe's use of folkloric narrative styles like powada and lavani helped popularise and make his work accessible to many communities. In Fakira, Sathe portrays Fakira, the protagonist, revolting against the rural orthodox system and British Raj to save his community from utter starvation. The protagonist and his community are subsequently arrested and tortured by British officers, and Fakira is eventually killed by hanging.

The urban environment of Bombay significantly influenced his writings, which depict it as a dystopian milieu. Aarti Wani describes two of his songs – "Mumbai Chi Lavani" (Song of Bombay) and "Mumbai cha Girni Kamgar" (Bombay's Mill-hand) – as depicting a city that is "rapacious, exploitative, unequal and unjust".


Sathe was initially influenced by communist ideology. Together with writers such as D. N. Gavankar and Amar Shaikh, he was a member of Lal Bawta Kalapathak (Red Flag Cultural Squad), the cultural wing of the Communist Party of India, and a Tamasha theatrical troupe that challenged government thinking. It had been active in the 1940s and, according to Tevia Abrams, was "the most exciting theatrical phenomenon of the 1950s" before communism in India generally fragmented in the aftermath of independence. He was a significant figure also in the Indian People's Theatre Association, which was a cultural wing of the Communist Party of India, and in the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement, which sought the creation of a separate Marathi-speaking state through a linguistic division of the extant Bombay State.

Sathe shifted toward Dalit activism, following the teachings of B. R. Ambedkar, and used his stories to amplify the life experiences of Dalits and workers. In his inaugural speech at the first Dalit Sahitya Sammelan, a literary conference that he founded in Bombay in 1958, he said that "The earth is not balanced on the snake's head but on the strength of Dalit and working-class people," emphasising the importance of Dalit and working-class people in global structures. Unlike most Dalit writers of the period, Sathe's work was influenced by Marxism rather than Buddhism.

He said that "Dalit writers are entailed with the responsibility of liberating and shielding Dalits from the existing worldly and Hindu tortures as the long standing conventional beliefs cannot be destroyed instantly."

Anna Bhau Sathe 2019 stamp of India
Annabhau Sathe statue in Maharashtra

Sathe has become an icon to Dalits, and especially the Mang caste. The Lokshahir Annabhau Sathe Development Corporation was established in 1985 to further the cause of the Mang people, and women in local branches of the Manavi Hakk Abhiyan (Human Rights Campaign, a Mang-Ambedkarite body) organise jayanti (processions) in his name and those of Babasaheb Ambedkar and Savitribai Phule. Political parties, such as the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena alliance, have attempted to appropriate his image as a means of drawing electoral support from the Mangs.

Sathe was commemorated with the issue of a special ₹4 postage stamp by India Post on 1 August 2002. Buildings have also been named after him, including the Lokshahir Annabhau Sathe Smarak in Pune and a flyover in Kurla.
Angela Davis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Not to be confused with Michaela Angela Davis.

Angela Davis
Davis in 2010
Angela Yvonne Davis
January 26, 1944
Education Brandeis University (BA)
Occupation Educator, author, social activist
Employer University of California, Santa Cruz (retired) Emerita
Political party Communist Party USA (1969–1991)
Spouse(s) Hilton Braithwaite (1980–1983)

Angela Davis' Women, Race, & Class in a museum at SUNY Alban
Angela Yvonne Davis (born January 26, 1944) is an American communist, political activist, academic, and author. She emerged as a prominent counterculture activist in the 1960s working with the Communist Party USA, of which she was a member until 1991, and was involved in the Black Panther Party during the Civil Rights Movement.

Davis is a professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in its History of Consciousness Department. She is also a former director of the university's Feminist Studies department. Her research interests are feminism, African-American studiescritical theoryMarxismpopular musicsocial consciousness, and the philosophy and history of punishment and prisons. She co-founded Critical Resistance, an organization working to abolish the prison–industrial complex.

Davis's membership in the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) led California Governor Ronald Reagan in 1969 to attempt to have her barred from teaching at any California university. She supported the governments of the Soviet Bloc for several decades. During the 1980s, she was twice a candidate for Vice President on theCPUSA ticket. She left the party in 1991.

After Davis purchased firearms for personal security guards, those guards used them in the 1970 armed takeover of a Marin County, California, courtroom, in which four people were killed. She was prosecuted for three capital felonies, including conspiracy to murder, but was acquitted of the charges.

Early life

Angela Davis was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Her family lived in the "Dynamite Hill" neighborhood, which was marked in the 1950s by the bombings of houses in an attempt to intimidate and drive out middle-class blacks who had moved there. Davis occasionally spent time on her uncle's farm and with friends in New York City. She had two brothers, Ben and Reginald, and a sister, Fania. Ben played defensive back for the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Davis attended Carrie A. Tuggle School, a segregated black elementary school, and later, Parker Annex, a middle-school branch of Parker High School in Birmingham. During this time, Davis's mother, Sallye Bell Davis, was a national officer and leading organizer of the Southern Negro Youth Congress, an organization influenced by the Communist Party aimed at building alliances among African Americans in the South. Davis grew up surrounded by communist organizers and thinkers, who significantly influenced her intellectual development.

Davis was involved in her church youth group as a child, and attended Sunday school regularly. She attributes much of her political involvement to her involvement with the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. She also participated in the Girl Scouts 1959 national roundup in Colorado. As a Girl Scout, she marched and picketed to protest racial segregation in Birmingham.

By her junior year of high school, Davis had been accepted by an American Friends Service Committee (Quaker) program that placed black students from the South in integrated schools in the North. She chose Elisabeth Irwin High School in Greenwich Village. There she was recruited by a Communist youth group, Advance.

Brandeis University

Davis was awarded a scholarship to Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, where she was one of three black students in her class. She encountered the Frankfurt School philosopher Herbert Marcuse at a rally during the Cuban Missile Crisis and became his student. In a 2007 television interview, Davis said, "Herbert Marcuse taught me that it was possible to be an academic, an activist, a scholar, and a revolutionary." She worked part-time to earn enough money to travel to France and Switzerland and attended the eighth World Festival of Youth and Students in Helsinki. She returned home in 1963 to a Federal Bureau of Investigation interview about her attendance at the Communist-sponsored festival.

During her second year at Brandeis, Davis decided to major in French and continued her intensive study of philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre. She was accepted by the Hamilton College Junior Year in France Program. Classes were initially at Biarritz and later at the Sorbonne. In Paris, she and other students lived with a French family. She was in Biarritz when she learned of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, committed by members of the Ku Klux Klan, in which four black girls were killed. She grieved deeply as she was personally acquainted with the victims.

Nearing completion of her degree in French, Davis realized her major interest was philosophy. She was particularly interested in Marcuse's ideas. On returning to Brandeis, she sat in on his course. Marcuse, she wrote in her autobiography, was approachable and helpful. She began making plans to attend the University of Frankfurt for graduate work in philosophy. In 1965, she graduated magna cum laude, a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

University of Frankfurt

In Germany, with a monthly stipend of $100, she lived first with a German family and later with a group of students in a loft in an old factory. After visiting East Berlin during the annual May Day celebration, she felt that the East German government was dealing better with the residual effects of fascism than were the West Germans. Many of her roommates were active in the radical Socialist German Student Union (SDS), and Davis participated in some SDS actions. Events in the United States, including the formation of the Black Panther Party and the transformation of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to an all-black organization, drew her interest upon her return.

Postgraduate work

Marcuse had moved to a position at the University of California, San Diego, and Davis followed him there after her two years in Frankfurt. On her way back, she stopped in London to attend a conference on "The Dialectics of Liberation." The black contingent at the conference included the Trinidadian-American Stokely Carmichael and the British Michael X. Although moved by Carmichael's rhetoric, Davis was reportedly disappointed by her colleagues' black nationalist sentiments and their rejection of communism as a "white man's thing."

She joined the Che-Lumumba Club, an all-black branch of the Communist Party USA named for international Communist sympathizers and leaders Che Guevara and Patrice Lumumba, of Cuba and the Congo, respectively.

Davis earned a master's degree from the University of California, San Diego, in 1968. She earned a doctorate in philosophy from Humboldt University in East Berlin.

Professor at University of California, Los Angeles, 1969–70

Davis (center, no glasses) enters Royce Hall at UCLA in October 1969 to give her first lecture.

Beginning in 1969, Davis was an acting assistant professor in the philosophy department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Although both Princeton and Swarthmore had tried to recruit her, she opted for UCLA because of its urban location.[20] At that time, she was known as a radical feminist and activist, a member of the Communist Party USA, and an associate of the Black Panther Party.

The Board of Regents of the University of California, urged by then-California Governor Ronald Reagan, fired her from her $10,000 a year post in 1969 because of her membership in the Communist Party. The Board of Regents was censured by the American Association of University Professors for its failure to reappoint Davis after her teaching contract expired.

On October 20, when Judge Jerry Pacht ruled the Regents could not fire Davis solely because of her affiliation with the Communist Party, Davis resumed her post.

The Regents released Davis again, on June 20, 1970, for the "inflammatory language" she had used in four different speeches. The report stated, "We deem particularly offensive such utterances as her statement that the regents 'killed, brutalized (and) murdered' the People's Park demonstrators, and her repeated characterizations of the police as 'pigs'".

Arrest and trial

Davis was a supporter of the Soledad Brothers, three inmates accused of killing a prison guard at Soledad Prison.

On August 7, 1970, heavily armed 17-year-old African-American high-school student Jonathan Jackson, whose brother was George Jackson, one of the three Soledad Brothers, gained control over a courtroom in Marin County, California. He armed the black defendants and took Judge Harold Haley, the prosecutor, and three female jurors as hostages. As Jackson transported the hostages and two black convicts away from the courtroom, the police began shooting at the vehicle. The judge and the three black men were killed in the melee; one of the jurors and the prosecutor were injured. Although the judge was shot in the head with a blast from a shotgun, he also suffered a chest wound from a bullet that may have been fired from outside the van. Evidence during the trial showed that either could have been fatal. Davis had purchased several of the firearms Jackson used in the attack, including the shotgun used to shoot Haley, which she bought at a San Francisco pawn shop two days before the incident. She was also found to have been corresponding with one of the inmates involved.

Protest against the Vietnam War, 1970
As California considers "all persons concerned in the commission of a crime, whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense... principals in any crime so committed", Marin County Superior Court Judge Peter Allen Smith charged Davis with "aggravated kidnapping and first degree murder in the death of Judge Harold Haley" and issued a warrant for her arrest. Hours after the judge issued the warrant on August 14, 1970, a massive attempt to find and arrest Davis began. On August 18, four days after the warrant was issued, the FBI director J. Edgar Hoover listed Davis on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List; she was the third woman and the 309th person to be listed.

Soon after, Davis became a fugitive and fled California. According to her autobiography, during this time she hid in friends' homes and moved at night. On October 13, 1970, FBI agents found her at a Howard Johnson Motor Lodge in New York City. President Richard M. Nixon congratulated the FBI on its "capture of the dangerous terrorist Angela Davis."

On January 5, 1971, Davis appeared at Marin County Superior Court and declared her innocence before the court and nation: "I now declare publicly before the court, before the people of this country that I am innocent of all charges which have been leveled against me by the state of California." John Abtgeneral counsel of the Communist Party USA, was one of the first attorneys to represent Davis for her alleged involvement in the shootings.

While being held in the Women's Detention Center, Davis was initially segregated from other prisoners, in solitary confinement. With the help of her legal team, she obtained a federal court order to get out of the segregated area.

Across the nation, thousands of people began organizing a movement to gain her release. In New York City, black writers formed a committee called the Black People in Defense of Angela Davis. By February 1971 more than 200 local committees in the United States, and 67 in foreign countries, worked to free Davis from prison. John Lennon and Yoko Ono contributed to this campaign with the song "Angela". In 1972, after a 16-month incarceration, the state allowed her release on bail from county jail. On February 23, 1972, Rodger McAfee, a dairy farmer from Fresno, California, paid her $100,000 bail with the help of Steve Sparacino, a wealthy business owner. The United Presbyterian Church paid some of her legal defense expenses.

A defense motion for a change of venue was granted, and the trial was moved to Santa Clara County. On June 4, 1972, after 13 hours of deliberations, the all-white jury returned a verdict of not guilty. The fact that she owned the guns used in the crime was judged insufficient to establish her role in the plot. She was represented by Leo Branton Jr., who hired psychologists to help the defense determine who in the jury pool might favor their arguments, a technique that has since become more common. He hired experts to discredit the reliability of eyewitness accounts.

Representation in other media

The first song released in favor of Davis was "Angela" (1971), written by Italian singer-songwriter and musician Virgilio Savona with his group (Quartetto Cetra). He received some anonymous threats.

The Rolling Stones song "Sweet Black Angel," recorded in 1970 and released on their album Exile on Main Street (1972), is dedicated to Davis. It is one of the band's few overtly political releases.

Bob Dylan's song "George Jackson" (1971) is a tribute to George Jackson, one of the Soledad Brothers and the older brother of Jonathan Jackson, who was killed during an escape attempt from San Quentin.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono recorded their song "Angela" on their album Some Time in New York City (1972) in support, and a small photo of her appears on the album's cover at the bottom-left.

The jazz musician Todd Cochran, also known as Bayete, recorded his song "Free Angela (Thoughts...and all I've got to say)" that same year.

Tribe Records co-founder Phil Ranelin released a song dedicated to Davis, titled "Angela's Dilemma," on Message From The Tribe (1972), a spiritual jazz collectible.

References in other venues
On January 28, 1972, Garrett Brock Trapnell hijacked TWA Flight 2. One of his demands was Davis' release.
Other activities in the 1970s

After her acquittal, Davis went on an international speaking tour in 1972 and included Cuba, where she had previously been received by Fidel Castro in 1969 as a member of a Communist Party delegation. Robert F. Williams, Huey Newton, Stokely Carmichael had also visited there, and Assata Shakur lives there after escaping from U.S. prison. Her reception by Afro-Cubans at a mass rally was so enthusiastic that she was reportedly barely able to speak. Davis perceived Cuba to be a racism-free country, which led her to believe that, "only under socialism could the fight against racism be successfully executed." When she returned to the United States, her socialist leanings increasingly influenced her understanding of race struggles. In 1974, she attended the Second Congress of the Federation of Cuban Women.

Soviet Union

Davis and Valentina Tereshkova, 1972
In 1971 the CIA estimated that five percent of Soviet propaganda efforts were directed towards the Angela Davis campaign. In August 1972, Davis visited the USSR at the invitation of the Central Committee, and received an honorary doctorate from Moscow State University.
On May 1, 1979, she was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union. She visited Moscow later that month to accept the prize, where she praised "the glorious name" of Lenin and the "great October Revolution".

East Germany

Davis and Erich Honecker in GDR, 1972
The East German government organized an extensive campaign on behalf of Davis. In September 1972, Davis visited East Germany, where she met Erich Honecker, received an honorary degree from the University of Leipzig and the Star of People's Friendship from Walter Ulbricht. On September 11 in East Berlin she delivered a speech, "Not Only My Victory", praising the GDR and USSR and denouncing American racism, and visited the Berlin Wall. In 1973 she returned to East Berlin leading the U.S. delegation to the 10th World Festival of Youth and Students.

Jonestown and Peoples Temple

In the mid-1970s, Jim Jones, who developed the cult Peoples Temple, initiated friendships with progressive leaders in the San Francisco area including Dennis Banks of the American Indian Movement AIM and Davis. On September 10, 1977, 14 months before the Temple's mass murder-suicide, Davis spoke via amateur radio telephone "patch" to members of his Peoples Temple living in Jonestown in Guyana. In her statement during the "Six Day Siege", she expressed support for the People's Temple anti-racism efforts and told members there was a conspiracy against them. She said, "when you are attacked, it is because of your progressive stand, and we feel that it is directly an attack against us as well."

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and political prisoners in Socialist countries

In a New York City speech on July 9, 1975, Russian dissident and Nobel Laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn told an AFL-CIO meeting that Davis was derelict in having failed to support prisoners in various socialist countries around the world, given her strong opposition to the US prison system. He claimed a group of Czech prisoners had appealed to Davis for support, which Solzhenitsyn said she had declined. In fact, Jiří Pelikánwrote an open letter asking her to support Czech prisoners, which Davis refused, believing that the Czech prisoners were undermining the Husák government and that Pelikán, in exile in Italy, was attacking his own country. Regarding Czech prisoners being "persecuted by the state", Davis responded "They deserve what they get. Let them remain in prison." Alan Dershowitz, who also asked Davis for support for political prisoners in the USSR, was analogously told "they are all Zionist fascists and opponents of socialism."

Later academic career

Davis was a Professor of Ethnic Studies at the San Francisco State University from at least 1980 to 1984. She was a professor in the History of Consciousness and the Feminist Studies Departments at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Rutgers University from 1991 to 2008. Since then, she has been Distinguished Professor Emerita.

Davis was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Syracuse University in Spring 1992 and October 2010.

In 2014, Davis returned to UCLA as a Regents' Lecturer. She delivered a public lecture on May 8 in Royce Hall, where she had given her first lecture 45 years earlier.

On May 22, 2016, Davis was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in Healing and Social Justice from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco during its 48th annual commencement ceremony.

Political activism and speeches

Davis left the Communist Party in 1991, founding the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. Her group broke from the Communist Party USA because of the latter's support of the Soviet coup attempt of 1991 following the fall of the Soviet Union and tearing down of the Berlin Wall. In 2014, she said she continues to have a relationship with the CPUSA but has not rejoined.

Davis has written several books. A principal focus of her current activism is the state of prisons in the United States. She considers herself an abolitionist, not a "prison reformer." She has referred to the United States prison system as the "prison–industrial complex," aggravated by the establishment of privately owned and run prisons. Davis advocates focusing social efforts on education and building "engaged communities" to solve various social problems now handled through state punishment.

Davis was one of the founders of Critical Resistance, a national grassroots organization dedicated to building a movement to abolish the prison–industrial complex. In recent works, she has argued that the US prison system more closely resembles a new form of slavery than a criminal justice system. According to Davis, between the late 19th century and the mid-20th century, the number of prisons in the United States sharply increased but crime rates continued to fall. She argues that racism in American society during this time was demonstrated by the disproportionate share of the African-American population who were incarcerated. "What is effective or just about this 'justice' system?" she urged people to ask.
Davis has lectured at Rutgers University, San Francisco State University, Stanford UniversitySmith CollegeBryn Mawr CollegeBrown University, Syracuse University, and other schools. As most of her teaching is at the graduate level, she says that she concentrates more on posing questions that encourage development of critical thinking than on imparting knowledge. In 1997, she identified as a lesbian in Out magazine.

As early as 1969, Davis began public speaking engagements. She expressed her opposition to the Vietnam War, racism, sexism, and the prison–industrial complex, and her support of gay rights and other social justice movements. In 1969, she blamed imperialism for the troubles oppressed populations suffer:

We are facing a common enemy and that enemy is Yankee Imperialism, which is killing us both here and abroad. Now I think anyone who would try to separate those struggles, anyone who would say that in order to consolidate an anti-war movement, we have to leave all of these other outlying issues out of the picture, is playing right into the hands of the enemy, she declared.In 2001 she publicly spoke against the war on terror following the 9/11 attacks, continued to criticize the prison–industrial complex, and discussed the broken immigration system. She said that to solve social justice issues, people must "hone their critical skills, develop them and implement them." Later, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she declared that the "horrendous situation in New Orleans" was due to the country's structural racism, capitalism, and imperialism.

Davis at the University of Alberta, March 28, 2006.

Davis opposed the 1995 Million Man March, arguing that the exclusion of women from this event promoted male chauvinism. She said that Louis Farrakhan and other organizers appeared to prefer that women take subordinate roles in society. Together with Kimberlé Crenshaw and others, she formed the African American Agenda 2000, an alliance of Black feminists.

Davis has continued to oppose the death penalty. In 2003, she lectured at Agnes Scott College, a liberal arts women's college in Atlanta, Georgia, on prison reform, minority issues, and the ills of the criminal justice system.

At the University of California, Santa Cruz, Davis participated in a 2004 panel concerning Kevin Cooper. She also spoke in defense of Stanley "Tookie" Williams on panels in 2005 and 2009.

In 2008, Davis was a keynote speaker at Vanderbilt University's conference, "Who Speaks for the Negro?".She has visited Vanderbilt twice since then, most recently to give the Commemorative Murray Lecture on February 25, 2015, on college activism.

On April 16, 2009, she was the keynote speaker at the University of Virginia Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies symposium on The Problem of Punishment: Race, Inequity, and Justice.

On October 31, 2011, Davis spoke at the Philadelphia and Washington Square Occupy Wall Street assemblies. Due to restrictions on electronic amplification, her words were human microphoned. In 2012 Davis was awarded the 2011 Blue Planet Award, an award given for contributions to humanity and the planet.

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

At the 27th Empowering Women of Color Conference in 2012, Davis said she was a vegan. She has called for the release of Rasmea Odeh, associate director at the Arab American Action Network, who was convicted of immigration fraud in relation to hiding her being convicted of murder.

On January 23, 2012, Davis was the Rhode Island School of Design's MLK Celebration Series keynote speaker and 2012 Honoree.

Davis supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

Davis was an honorary co-chair of the January 21, 2017 Women's March on Washington, which occurred the day after President Trump's inauguration. The organizers' decision to make her a featured speaker was criticized from the right by Humberto Fontova and National Review. Libertarian journalist Cathy Young wrote that Davis's "long record of support for political violence in the United States and the worst of human rights abusers abroad" undermined the march.

On January 7, 2019, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) rescinded Davis's Fred ShuttlesworthHuman Rights Award, saying she "does not meet all of the criteria". Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and others cited criticism of Davis's vocal support for Palestinian rights and the movement to boycott Israel. Davis said her loss of the award was "not primarily an attack against me but rather against the very spirit of the indivisibility of justice."[ On January 25, the BCRI reversed its decision and issued a public apology, stating that there should have been more public consultation.

Representation in other media

U2's concert in Soldier Field, Chicago, 2011

In Renato Guttuso's painting The Funerals of Togliatti (1972), Davis is depicted, among other figures of communism, in the left framework, near the author's self-portrait, Elio Vittorini, and Jean-Paul Sartre.

The song "Sweet Black Angel" (1972) by the Rolling Stones was written about Davis as she faced murder charges. Lines include: "She's a sweet black angel, not a gun toting teacher, not a Red lovin' school marm / Ain't someone gonna free her, free de sweet black slave, free de sweet black slave"

In the movie Network (1976), Marlene Warfield's character Laureen Hobbs appears to be modeled on Davis.

In 2018, the British jazz group Sons of Kemet released a song from their album Your Queen Is a Reptile called "My Queen is Angela Davis".

Also in 2018, a cotton T-shirt with Davis’s face on it was featured in Prada’s 2018 collection.

Angami Zapu Phizo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Angami Zapu Phizo
Zapu Phizo
16 May 1913

Died 30 April 1990 (aged 75)

Resting place A. Z. Phizo Memorial, KohimaNagaland
Known for Leader of Naga Nationalist Movement

Angami Zapu Phizo (1913–1990) was a Naga nationalist leader with British Nationality. Under his influence, the Naga National Council asserted the right to self-determination which took the shape of armed resistance after the Indian state imposed the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in 1958. The Naga secessionist groups regard him as the "Father of the Naga Nation".

Early life

Angami Zapu Phizo belonged to the Merhüma khel (clan) of Khonoma Village of Angami Naga tribe. He had collaborated with the Japanese army in Burma.

Political life

As the British were preparing for their withdrawal from India, Phizo separately met the indigenous AssameseGarosKhasisLushaisAborsMishmis and Meiteis leaders in an attempt to convince them to form independent countries of their own, instead of joining the proposed Union of India. However, his efforts failed. On 14 August 1947, one day before India gained its independence, Phizo declared the independence of Naga region.

Phizo's influence in the Naga National Council (NNC) increased in late 1940s, after the NNC secretary Imti Aliba Ao retired from politics for an appointment in the Indian Frontier Administrative Services. Phizo was incarcerated in Calcutta's Presidency Jail in 1948 on charges of stirring trouble in the Indo-Burma borderland. After his release from the jail, he became the fourth president and the main ideologue of the National Naga Council. Phizo became the NNC Chairman in October–November 1949 after defeating Vizar Angami of Zakhama village by a margin of one vote. Under his leadership, the NNC inclined towards seeking secession from India. Phizo urged the Naga people to boycott the Indian elections. He met the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in December 1951 near Tezpur in Assam, in March 1952 at Delhi, and in July 1952 at Dibrugarh. He also met with Jaipal Singh in 1952. He was arrested in Burma for illegal entry.

In September 1954, Phizo formed the "People's Sovereign Republic of Free Nagaland", with the support of Chang chiefs of Tuensang. He also reorganized the NNC setup, as the chances of a peaceful settlement declined.

In 1955, the Angami leaders T. Sakhrie (who had served the secretary of NNC since its inception) and J. B. Jasokie broke off with Phizo at a meeting in the Khonoma village. Phizo got Sakhrie murdered in January 1956. On 22 March 1956 he formed the "Naga Central Government", which was later renamed to "Federal Government of Nagaland" (FGN) in 1959. The new organization had a military wing.

Phizo escaped to East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh) in December 1956, from where he went to London. He continued supporting the secessionist movement in Nagaland, until his death in exile, in London in 1990. He had 11 children. When he escaped from the erstwhile Naga Hills to East Pakistan, he did not have an Indian passport. After acquiring a British passport while in London, the Indian embassy refused to issue him a visa to visit India. Khodao Yanthan said later, "Mr. Phizo was a perfect Naga leader. I don't believe there will be any Naga leader like Mr. Phizo.
Andre Beteille

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Andre Beteille, FBA (born 30 September 1934) is an Indian sociologist and writer. He is particularly well known for his studies of the caste system in South India. He is a Professor of Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics at the University of Delhi where he is Professor Emeritus of Sociology since 2003. He was appointed National Research Professor by the Government of India in 2007. He is a recipient of the Indian civilian honour of the Padma Bhushan.

Presently he is the Chancellor of North Eastern Hill University, Shillong, Meghalaya and formerly of Ashoka University, in India.


Sociology: Essays on Approach and Method, Oxford University Press, 2002.

Antinomies of Society: Essays on Ideologies and Institutions, Oxford University Press, 2000.
Chronicles of Our Time, Penguin Books, 2000.

The Backward Classes in Contemporary India, Oxford University Press, 1992.

Society and Politics in India: Essays in a Comparative Perspective, Athlone Press, 1991 (L.S.E. Monographs in Social Anthropology, no. 63).

The Idea of Natural Inequality and Other Essays, Oxford University Press, 1983 (new, enlarged edition, Oxford University Press, 1987).

Inequality Among Men, Basil Blackwell, 1977 (Italian edition published as La diseguaglianza fra gli uomini, Il Mulino, 1981).

Studies in Agrarian Social Structure, Oxford University Press, 1974.

Six Essays in Comparative Sociology, Oxford University Press, 1974 (enlarged edition published as Essays in Comparative Sociology, Oxford University Press, 1987).

Inequality and Social Change, Oxford University Press, 1972.

Castes: Old and New, Essays in Social Structure and Social Stratification, Asia Publishing House, 1969.

Caste, Class and Power: Changing Patterns of Stratification in a Tanjore Village, University of California Press, 1965.


Government & NGOs (scroll down)

Andre Beteille, social anthropologist, who resigned from the National Committee on World Conference against Racism.

While the government insists that caste-based discrimination is an "internal" matter of India, its detractors point to the need for "globalising" the issue. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) fighting for Dalit rights have charged the government with drawing the saffron curtain over the issue of human rights within the country.

Matters came to a head recently when Andre Beteille, the well-known social anthropologist, resigned from the National Committee on World Conference against Racism (NCWCR), which is preparing a draft to be presented at the Conference. Several other members who are opposed to caste-based discrimination are also apparently troubled by the implications of being part of the committee.

The government has been reiterating the declared objectives of the Conference: reviewing the progress made by the world in the fight against racial discrimination, finding ways and means to ensure better application of existing standards, increasing the awareness of people around the world about racial discrimination, and so on. While agreeing with the necessity of working towards these goals, the NGOs have been demanding the inclusion of caste-based discrimination in the agenda of the Conference. Said Dr. Ambrose Pinto, executive director of the New Delhi-based Indian Social Institute: "The U.N. needs to change the title of the Conference in such a way as to include caste discrimination. The present terminology is Eurocentric and fails to take the reality of caste-based discrimination into account." Agreeing with this view, Martin Macwan, national convener of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, said: "In earlier international forums, notably the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Government of India had successfully taken up the issue of caste-based discrimination. We do not understand why the present government does not want to take up caste-based discrimination. Why is it insisting that caste is an 'internal' matter?"

Dalit rights activists point out that the government's stand undermines India's commitment to numerous international conventions on human rights that it has ratified. They argue that it faces the risk of being exposed as a government that has not seriously addressed the crudest form of discrimination. Such an image, they say, would be detrimental to India's efforts to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

The Ministry of External Affairs, however, remains firm in its opposition to a discussion on caste-based discrimination at the Conference. Inaugurating the first meeting of the NCWCR in New Delhi on February 7, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh said that the government opposed all attempts to dilute the focus of the Conference by ascribing racial connotations to caste. He said: "We are strongly opposed to all such attempts. We must ensure that the Conference does not lose sight of its focus on racism."

Abid Hussein, a member of the NCWCR, said: "Caste-based discrimination and racial discrimination are evils. It is important to eradicate them from society. But it is not fair to take the Conference as the venue for fighting caste-based discrimination. One must remember that it is not a conference on taking up every kind of discrimination prevalent in society."

The intensity of the debate is not surprising. Understanding caste and how it came to be embedded in Indian society is a tough task, which involves the study of its cultural implications if it is seen as a religious phenomenon (Louis Dumont in Homo Hierarchicus) or its materialistic roots if it is analysed as a form of economic exploitation (Dipankar Gupta in "From Varna to Jati: The Indian Caste System from the Asiatic to the Feudal Mode of Production," Journal of Contemporary Asia, Number 10). Dalit rights activists see a similarity between race and caste in that inequality is intergenerationally transmitted in both. Said Pinto: "Prejudice and discrimination are both a part of caste and race. And what is worse is that such prejudice and discrimination are not merely personal but institutional, a part of the structure and process of the whole society. In both caste and race theories, the so-called higher or superior groups take the attitude that their culture is superior to all other cultures and that all the other groups should be judged according to their culture. What is the difference between the claims made by the white race in Europe and the upper castes in India?"

In this context, Beteille says that treating caste as a form of race is "politically mischievous and scientifically nonsensical". Citing the ineffectual attempts made in the past to identify and define race in India, Beteille says, "I am now convinced that identifying the races in the population of India will be an exercise in futility... It is sad but true that many forms of invidious discrimination do prevail in the contemporary world. But to assimilate or even relate them all to 'racial discrimination' will be an act of political and moral irresponsibility. Not content with condemning racism and racial discrimination, the U.N. now wants to take on racialism, racial discrimination and xenophobia and related intolerance. It has in its wisdom decided to expand the meeting on racial discrimination to accommodate exclusion or preference 'based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin'. In doing so it is bound to give a new lease of life to the old and discredited notion of race that was current a hundred years ago." Making his opposition to such an exercise clear, Beteille says: "We cannot throw out the concept of race by the front door when it is being misused for asserting social superiority and bring it again through the back door to misuse it in the cause of the oppressed" ( "Race and Caste", The Hindu, March 10, 2001).

Beteille's arguments drew sharp responses from Dalit rights activists. Some of them took exception to the wording of his article and accused him of raising metaphysical arguments in scientific terms to negate the existence of caste.

Beteille, who has made a significant contribution to the study of caste in India, told Frontline: "There is a tremendous amount of genetic diversity in the Indian population. That does not mean that there are moderately identifiable races in India. Attempts have been made in the past also to divide the Indian population on the basis of race but they have ended in total failure. Thus, there are no satisfactory arguments that race is relevant to India. The argument that there is racial diversity in India falls on its face on these grounds. I agree there is an enormous amount of class- and caste-based discrimination in India but it is wrong to say that there is racial discrimination."

Activists like Macwan agree with Beteille and say that they do not see caste and race as the two sides of the same coin. But, according to them, there is a need to take up the issue of caste-based discrimination at a global forum.

The government has ignored this demand but has stated that the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution will look into the matter. Said Pinto: "The Constitution Review Commission is not a committee of Parliament. How can the government ask it to look into such a sensitive matter?"

Said Macwan: "We will appeal to all Members of Parliament to intervene in the government's decision-making process on such a sensitive issue. The membership of the committee, which is preparing the framework for the World Conference, also needs to be representative. We shall keep on lobbying at international forums to ensure that caste-based discrimination is not ignored at the Durban Conference."

The NGOs see the WCAR as the only acceptable forum to raise the issue of caste discrimination in India. Yogesh Varahade, founder-president of the Ambedkar Centre for Justice and Peace, said: "We will go to Durban to participate and highlight the discrimination based on birth and descent. World history tells us that any system based on any misleading theory for the benefit of the few at the cost of the majority, will not survive too long and is bound to collapse sooner or later."
Arun Krushnaji Kamble

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Arun Krushnaji Kamble
Arun Kamble
Born 14 March 1953

Kargani, Athpadi, Sangli, Maharashtra, India
Died 20 December 2009 (aged 56)

Hyderabad, India
Nationality Indian

Notable work Cultural struggle in Ramayana
Conversion of Dr. B.R.Ambedkar
Epoch Maker Ambedkar
Political party Dalit PantherJanata Dal
Children Aparant Kamble
Ashutosh Kamble

Arun Krushnaji Kamble (14 March 1953 – December 2009) was an Indian Marathi language writer, professor, Politician, and Dalit activist. Arun Kamble, President and one of the founding members of Dalit Panther, worked as a Head of Marathi department at University of Mumbai. He was the National General Secretary of Janata Dal. He took many major decisions in favour of DalitBackward Class and Minorities.

Kamble in early age

Kamble formed Dalit Panther of India as a social organisation alongside Namdeo Dhasal and Raja Dhale in 1976. Later Kamble became the National General Secretary of Janata Dal and worked with former Prime Minister V. P. Singh. He demanded the renaming of Marathwada University to "Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar University". Kamble, a writer, poet and editor, authored many books such as Cultural Struggle in Ramayana, Conversion of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Cheevar, Vaad-Samvad, Yug-Pravartak Ambedkar, Chalvaliche Diwas, and Tarkateerth Ek Vadato-Vyaghyat. He was awarded with many accolades such as "The Prabuddha Ratna Puraskar", Life Time Achievement International Award. Some of his works have been translated into English, German, French, Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Urdu (Dalit Awaaz) and Hindi (Suraj ke Vansh-dhar).


Early days

Arun Kamble and Maisaheb Ambedkar in Dalit Panther days.

Kamble was born on 14 March 1953, in Mahar Dalit family of village-Kargani, Atpadi near Sangli.[citation needed] He was a follower of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as Dr. Ambedkar was an inspiration to him. His mother and father both were School Headmaster in Sangli.[citation needed] His mother Shantabai Kamble and father Krushnaji Kamble have written autobiographies called Majya Jalmachi Chittarkatha and Mi Krushna respectively. His father was a well known personality in Kargani district.


His school days were in Athapadi and Dighanchi at Sangli. He completed B.A. (honors) from Willingdon CollegeDeccan Education SocietySangli in 1974. Later he earned his M.A. from Siddhartha College in 1976 with distinction in "Shodhnibandh ani Shodhnibandhachi Lekhan Paddhati". His major interests were Dalit literature and Ambedkarite Movement.

Academic career

Prof. Arun Kamble in discussion with Former Prime minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi

He joined Dr. Ambedkar College of Commerce and Economics, WadalaMumbai in 1976 as a lecturer of Marathi (1976–1985). Later he joined Kirti College, Dadar (W), Mumbai (1985–1989). In 1990 he joined the University of Mumbai as a "Reader". Until his death he was a PhD Guide in Marathi Department and also was Head of Phule, Shahu Chair in University of Mumbai.

Political and Social career

Kamble was the National President and one of the founding members of Dalit Panther. He was also the National General Secretary of Janata Dal, a member of the National Election Committee – Janata Dal (Parliamentary Board), and in charge of Election Committee of Bihar State. He successfully led the Namantar Andolan of Marathwada University as a president of Dalit Panther.

When the dispute arose on the book 'Riddles in Hinduism' (Appendix, Riddles of Ram & Krishna) authored by Dr. Ambedkar, Kamble led an intellectual fight and a march with Ten Lakh people (January 1987) and the provision for reservation to BuddhistBackward class, and minorities with Prime Minister V. P. Singh. He got promises and assurance to implement the Mandal Commission; Second Backward class Commission, with an immediate effect (1989).

Professor Arun Kamble in conversation with former Prime Minister V.P. Singh.
This picture was taken during the World Conference on Buddha, Phule, Ambedkar's Literature at Kalyan (Maharashtra).

Kamble resigned from Janata Dal on the issue of Dalit president of India. He led a march as a President of Dalit Panther during an Assembly Session at Nagpur on the issue of publishing Dr. Ambedkar's complete body of literature (1979). He later worked as a member of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Charitra Sadhane Publication which was borne by a march.

Kamble worked as an editor for the book Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings & Speeches. Maharashtra Government declared a decision to omit a part from the Appendix (Riddles in Hinduism, 'Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches' Volume 4). For this issue he left the editor's committee and filed a lawsuit in the High Court against the Maharashtra Government.

He inaugurated 'Manusmruti Cremation Conference' at Karur by Dravida Kazhagam, founded by Periyar E. V. Ramasamy (1983). He also inaugurated and led a march to protest against the outrageous behavior on Dalit community at Karamchedu (1987). He led Samajik Nyay Jyoti (Social Justice Flame) with Ram Vilas Paswan from Chundur to New Delhi (1992). He was the Chief Guest at 'All India Dalit Writer's Conference' (October 1987) and worked as a convener of the 'All India Dalit Writer's Association. He inaugurated a Social Gathering of Dalit Literature at Bangalore (1986) and gave a speech at the conference of the Namantar-Mandal (1984). He inaugurated the 9th Marathi Conference at Badoda (1995) and gave a speech at the All India Dalit Liberation conference (6 December 1987). He undertook an editorial work for the periodicals Ambedkar Bharat, Shoonya, and Sangharsh.

Committee undertakings

Kamble worked as a member of National Police Commission and as a committee member for the advisory board of Special Department for Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribes at the University of Mumbai. He was a president of 3rd All India Conference on Dr. Ambedkar's Literature at Wardha and also a president at the World Conference on Buddha, Phule, and Ambedkar Literature at Kalyan ( 23–25 March 2002).

Major works
Poetical works

"Arun Krushnaji Kamble" (1983) Awarded Best Poetry Collection by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad.
Prose works

"Ramayanatil Samskrutik Sangharsh"- (Cultural Struggle in Ramayana)
Ramayanatil Samskruti Sangharsh by Prof. Arun Kamble
"Ramayanma Samskrutik Sangharsh"- Published by Subhash Palekar on 6 December 1993.
"Janata Patratil Lekh"(JanataDr.B.R.Ambedkar, Edited by Arun Kamble − 7 appendices and 47 pages preface) Published by University of Mumbai and Popular Publication, 1993.
"Cheevar"-(Essays on Literature and Culture), Ashay Publication, 1995.
"Yug Pravartak Ambedkar"-(Epoch Making Ambedkar) Ashay Publication, 1995.
"Chalvache Diwas"- (Reminisances of the Agitations), Ashay Publication, 1995.
"Vad Samvad"-(Debate and Dialog) an Intellectual Prose, Pratima Publication – 1996, Pune.
"Dharmantarachi Bheemgarjana" Conversion of Dr. B.R.Ambedkar) – Pratima Publication – 1996, Pune.
"Marathi Intellectual Prose", Edited by Arun Kamble and other, Text prepared for B.A. (University of Mumbai), Pratima Publication, 2003.
"Tarkateerth Laxmanshastri Joshi—Ek Vadatovyaghyat", Critical writing on Laxmanshastri Joshi, Ambedkar Bharat Publication, 1987.


"Priya Adarker" translated a selection of his poems into English under the title Arun Kamble: Arun Krushnaji Kamble, Poems.[6][page needed]
"Modern Indian Poetry" Published by[7][page ne Pritish Nandy.
"An Anthology of Dalit Literature", Edited by Eleanor Zelliot and Mulk Raj Anand.
Poems published on the cover page, Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, Journals of Michigan University, USA 1978 & 1998.
"Some Aspects of Half Social Justice, Krishna Aiyar
From "[Untouchable to Dalit", Eleanor Zelliot (Carleton College, USA), Manohar 2005.
"Poisoned Bread" Edited by Arjun Dangle, Orient Longman and Co. 1992.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mahathma Ayyankali

Born 28 August 1863

Venganoor, ThiruvananthapuramTravancoreBritish India
Died 18 June 1941 (aged 77)

Madras PresidencyBritish India
Spouse(s) Chellamma

Mahatma Ayyankali (also Ayyan Kali) (28 August 1863 – 1941) was a social reformer who worked for the advancement of deprived untouchable people in the princely state of TravancoreBritish India. His efforts influenced many changes that improved the social well-being of those people, who are today often referred to as Dalits..


Mahatma Ayyankali was born on 28 August 1863 in Venganoor, Thiruvananthapuram, Travancore. He was the first of eight children born to Ayyan and Mala, who were members of the Pulayar community of untouchable people. Although the family were relatively well-off compared to other Pulayars, having been given 5 acres (2.0 ha) of land by a grateful landlord, the children were encouraged to adopt the customary occupation of agriculture. Members of the Pulayar community generally were rural slaves at this time.

The region in which Ayyankali lived, which now forms a part of the state of Kerala, was particularly affected by social divisions during his lifetime and was described by Swami Vivekananda as a "mad house" of castes. The Pulayars were regarded as the lowest group of people in the kingdom and they suffered badly from oppressive discrimination, in particular from members of the powerful Nair caste.[6] Robin Jeffrey, a professor specialising in the modern history and politics of India, quotes the wife of a Christian missionary, who wrote in 1860 of the complex social code that

... a Nair can approach but not touch a Namboodiri Brahmin: a Chovan [Ezhava] must remain thirty-six paces off, and a Pulayan slave ninety-six steps distant. A Chovan must remain twelve steps away from a Nair, and a Pulayan sixty-six steps off, and a Parayan some distance farther still. A Syrian Christian may touch a Nair (though this is not allowed in some parts of the country) but the latter may not eat with each other. Pulayans and Parayars, who are the lowest of all, can approach but not touch, much less may they eat with each other.

Suffering from this social injustice caused Ayyankali to join with like-minded Pulayan friends. These young people gathered at the end of their workday to sing and dance to folk music that protested the situation. Some joined him in forming a group that challenged and threatened members of the upper castes whenever an opportunity arose, sometimes attacking them physically. His popularity earned him the names of Urpillai and Moothapullai.

Ayyankali married Chellamma in 1888. The couple had seven children.


Freedom of movement

In 1893, Ayyankali, dressed to provoke in clothing traditionally associated with the Nairs, defied the social conventions that applied to lower castes and untouchables by riding on a road in a bullock cart that he had bought. Both the act of purchase and that of travelling on a road that was traditionally the preserve of the upper castes amounted to a significant challenge. In a similar act of defiance, he entered the marketplace at Nedumangad. These protests, which have been described by Nisar and Kanadasamy as "laying claim to the public space", strengthened resolve among others from the oppressed communities of Travancore, leading to further protest acts elsewhere, such as in Kazhakkoottam. The outcome of continued protest marches, which sometimes turned violent and became known as Chaliyar riots, was that by 1900 the Pulayars had gained the right to use most roads in the state, although they were still barred from those that led to Hindu temples.

Later, in 1904, Ayyankali was inspired on hearing a speech given by the reformist Ayyavu Swamikal. This Hindu sanyasi had been preaching the need to break down caste divisions because he thought that doing so would limit the number of people who were converting from Hinduism to Christianity.[a] A branch of Swamikal's Brahma Nishta Matam organisation was established in that year by Ayyankali and some friends in Venganoor. Ayyankali also drew inspiration from the activities of Narayana Guru, a contemporary social reformer from the Ezhava caste, although the two men differed in their philosophy and the means of turning it into reality. Narayana Guru had attempted to forge an alliance between the Ezhavas and untouchable communities such as the Pulayars but there had been violent opposition to the idea from his brethren and the Pulayars remained voiceless until the emergence of Ayyankali.


Statue of Ayyankali in Kollam

Ayyankali also sought to improve access to education. Some Pulayars had access from around the mid-nineteenth century, mostly through the activities of the Colonial Missionary Society and London Missionary Society. Conversion to Christianity was a prerequisite for attendance at such schools, and there were cases where Pulayars offered to contribute to the cost of supplying teachers for them. However, Ayyankali, who was illiterate, believed that education should be available to all children and this meant that government schools should allow access to untouchables.

The government was already attempting to modernise its approach to social welfare. Several public schools had been opened to untouchable communities after 1895 but the right to primary education was limited in scope. State funding of education became effective in 1904 but even after the government ordered schools to admit these untouchable people in 1907, local officials found ways to refuse it. In that year, helped by the experience gained from organising the Brahma Nishta Mattam, Ayyankali founded the Sadhu Jana Paripalana Sangham (SJPS) (Association for the Protection of the Poor) which campaigned for access to schools and raised funds to set up Pulayar-operated schools in the interim. This attracted support from both Hindus and Christians.

An attempt by Ayyankali to enrol a Pulayar girl in a government school led to violent acts perpetrated by upper castes against the community and eventually to the burning-down of the school building in the village of Ooruttambalam. His response was to organise what may have been the first strike action by agricultural workers in the region, who withdrew their labour from the fields that were owned by the upper castes until the government acceded to a complete removal of restrictions on education.

Ayyankali was also central to the success of the Pulayan challenge against the traditional stricture that prohibited female members of the community from clothing their upper body when in public. Caste Hindus had insisted that the custom was necessary to distinguish the lowly status of untouchable people but during the 19th century their belief had come under increasing attack from various untouchable groups and from Christian missionaries. The Channar revolt, through which the Nadar community were able to overturn the practice in so far as it affected themselves, had happened not long before Ayyankali's birth but the Pulayars remained affected by the discriminatory code until 1915-16.


Ayyankali later became a member of the assembly of Travancore, known as the Sree Moolam Popular Assembly (SMPA) or Praja Sabha.

Contribution and influence in society

The historian P. Sanal Mohan has described Ayyankali as "the most important Dalit leader of modern Kerala". The anniversary of Ayyankali's birth has been celebrated by his descendants and by special interest groups.

Ayya Vaikundar

A Different Revolutionist

Historic Places And Festivals
Ayya established five pathis.
These pathis are pilgrim centrersExplore More

Social Reforms
Ayya Vaikunda Nather stayed
at Swamithoppu and sent his disciples farExplore More

Political Vision
Vaikunda Nather raised
a slogan Unity of Untouchable CommunitiesExplore More

Ayya Vaikundar
A Different Revolutionist and Social Reformer.

Ayya Vaikundar(1809-1851), a great humanist and social thinker, lived in the Princisely Kingdom of Travancore in the early decades of the 19 th Century Kerala, is still remembered as the first well known social reformer in India who critiqued the caste discrimination and religious hierarchy and fought against the practice of untouchability. He is considered as the pioneer of such revolutionary movements in India . Ayya Vaikundar not only preached his views but practicalised among low caste poor people.

His exhortation 'ONE CASTE, ONE RELIGION, ONE CLAN, ONE WORLD, ONE GOD'' is world famous. He was against idol worship . He did not allow the portraitores to draw his figure. No evidence of any picture or any of his human figure are kept to prove his visual identity .So that he still remains as in the form of absolute wisdom.

It has been noticed that if the socio - political thinkers of modern India could have been accepted the vision of AYYA VAIKUNDA NATHAR much earlier , the political dimension of modern India might have attained a value based, qualitative trend in all walks of life. His theory and practice like 'samathva samajam' , 'sama panthi bhojan' , 'thottu namam podunkal' were much enough to cultivate a thought of equality and unity in Indian minds.

Since an ever remembered forefather of Nadar community, the community organization in Kerala Nadar Family Welfare Centre courageously taken an ambitious project to build up a suitable monument which will function as a center for research and studies on AYYA's social vision.

It is our endeavour to begin to search and practice the real thought of AYYA's socio political vision, so that the young generation of our time can create new skies for future India.

I can proudly state that this web site is the first one of its kind on AYYA VAIKUNDA NATHAR from Kerala.

I most humbly present this web site before the patriotic and progressive minded people of the world and invite to unite in the humanist way of AYYA.

By A.S. Ahimohanan

Historical Vaikundar (1809–1851) refers to the life and teachings of the person known as Ayya Vaikundar in Akilathirattu Ammanai, being reconstructed from a historical perspective with reference to various historical sources in contrast to the mythological Akilamic views. Though few events referred to in the mythology have yet to be validated historically, many key events mentioned in Akilam were acknowledged by other contemporary sources.

Ayya Vaikundar was the first to succeed as a social reformer in launching political struggle, social renaissance as well as religious reformation in the country.Vaikundar was the pioneer of the social revolutionaries of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Research scholars regard Vaikundar as a teacher, healer and also a miracle worker] He was also said to be the forerunner of all social reformers of India. He was in the forefront of movements for Human Rights and Social Equality. His teachings also effected many social changes in southern India, resulting in the emergence of a series of social and self-respect movements such as Upper cloth agitation, Temple entry agitation and other movements including those of Narayana GuruChattampi Swamikal, Vallalar and Ayyankali.

Early life

The year as well as the exact date of birth of Vaikundar is a matter of conflict. Various historians place the year of birth as 1809 C.E while as few other sources placed his birth in 1808 C.E. Akilam did not mention any direct reference to the date. But by the time he was taken to Tiruchendur for being cured after he fall sick he was at his 24, for which the exact date is mentioned in Akilam as 20th Masi 1008 M.E which falls on 4 March 1833. The date of birth too is subject to greater conflict. Historians predict various dates from 12 March to 19 April. He has born as the second son to Ponnumadan - Veyilal couple who were working in the farms of the land-lord Poovandar at Sasthankoilvilai.

The parents and the villagers witnessed some spiritual significance in the face of the child. A naming ceremony was conducted and the name Mudisoodum Perumal (Lord Vishnu with Crown) was suggested by the elders and was accepted by others. Since people of lower castes are not allowed to use the names of God or Rulers the upper classes opposed the move and demanded an immediate name change.Fearing the oppression the child was renamed Muthukutty. There are various accounts as to who suggested the name. While few historians claim that the name Muthukutty, which tones prosaical, was suggested by the officials, others argued that though some officials from the administration were against the name ‘Mudisoodum Perumal’ , they never suggested this alternative. There is another account that while the parents was seeking admission to the child for schooling in a traditional Schools known as Thinnai Palli the teacher refused to enrol the child with the name and he himself changed the name to Muthukutty. Another narration is that the King of Travancore, through his Umbrella bearer, Poovandar, directly ordered to change the name which includes the suffix ‘Perumal’ (Vishnu) to Muthukutty. Other accounts speculates that the villagers themselves adopted the name as per the existing norms as the lower castes of the Travancore has to use differential language and different set of names to signify their differential social status from the upper classes.

Though he disliked rituals and practices he was very religious and prefers simple worship. He was also very revolutionary in his thoughts, idea and acts right from his childhood. He was a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu as he had set a pedestal and offers regular prayers for Vishnu at his residence. He use to meditate regularly during evenings at Marunthuvazh Malai. He well versed in various ancient arts including martial arts, he appears as a multifaceted personality. He was also said to be a very good orator. Though it is not clear whether he advocated a unified society and supported intermingling of various castes and promoted inter-caste marriages. But he strongly propagated for a society totally free from caste discrimination and also worked for the betterment of the downtrodden. He was intensely against the oppressive treatment of the lower classes.


At the age of 17 he married a women Thirumalammal of Puviyoor, Agastheeswaram, who was left alone by her husband. There is also a view that they never get married and that the women only came to serve him in his activities . He continued his early life as a Palmyra Climber and as an Agricultural labourer. At the age of 22 he fall ill.

There is another narrative that at his age of 16, the upper classes, being irritated by the inclusionary views and activities of Vaikundar and his popularity, made several attempts to eliminate him and all of them failed. So they eventually conspired to kill him in by clandestine means. They pretend to be get convinced to his view and pretend to celebrate him and his preachings. They invited him for a banquet at Marunthuvazh Malai. He was served with poison through food. To every bodies wonder he remained unaffected. But that the poison made some effects on him gradually and that the illness is due to the effects of the poison. The severity of illness increased as days passed on. Gradually he was reduced to the bed. He suffered acute pain for more than a year. The whole village was anxious over the suffering of Vaikundar.

The days passed and Vaikundar attained the age of 24. Veyilal, the mother informed that she was instructed by Lord Vishnu that his son will be cured off the illness if he was brought to the festival at Tiruchendur on the 19th of Masi 1008 M.E. The villagers along with his kith and kin began the journey carrying Vaikundar in the cradle to Tiruchendurin the late hours of 15th Masi 1008. M.E. It is vividly clear that Veyilal, the mother of Vaikundar accompanied him. But very few accounts suggest that Thirumalammal and Ponnu Madan is along with him during his journey. Authors Krishna Nathan and Kasi Udhayam made claims that the father and wife of Vaikundar were with Vaikundar on his way to Tiruchendur. On the way they took rest alongside a village well after having their meals. Wondering everybody, Vaikundar, who was until then could not set his foot on the ground, suddenly stepped out of the cradle and started walking swiftly and everybody else followed him. They believed that the dream of Veyilal is coming true. They reached Tiruchendur on 19th Masi 1008 M.E. and took part in the Masi festival at Tiruchendur.

The events surrounding the passage of Vaikundar towards the sea is a matter of conflict. On account propound that, during the late night while everybody except Veyilal were sleeping Vaikundar began walking swiftly towards the sea. Veyilal started to run screaming behind him. The relatives arose and they started running behind Veyilal up to the sea shore and that all of them witness the disappearance of Vaikundar into the sea. Another narrative is that while they are taking a holy dip in the sea they found Vaikundar missing among the crowd and was not traced. Other authors opined that he was carried away by a massive wave on 1 March. Hours afterwards, with no signs of Vaikundar being found anywhere there, everybody else started convincing Veyilal in one way or another to return home. Highly distressed Veyilal decided not to go home without her son and remained weeping on the sea-shore.

After three days on 20th Masi 1008. M.E., the face of Vaikundar was seen rising over the horizon in the early morning hours. Writer Ponnu suggests that Vaikundar took his rebirth during the auspicious occasion of the Mahamaham, suggesting the date of the event on 5 March 1833. Few authors suggest that the relatives also witnessed the event while others maintain that all others except Veyilal went disappointed and that she alone was at the sea-shore after three days. The mother was very much excited to see Vaikundar back. However, the words of Vaikundar, after his advent from the sea shocked her as he proclaimed that he is no longer her son. He also revealed that, “Until the year ‘One thousand and Eight’ you were known to be my mother and now I had born as the son of Narayana for fulfilling the needs of Santror and to rule them forever.”


After making the proclamations, Vaikundar proceeded towards Kanyakumari. There he instructed the people to give-up the rituals and religious ceremonies and reached Poovandanthope . It appears that few incidents in which he was ill-treated happened on the way. On the other hand he was also warmly welcomed at some places. He was also said to have performed miracles at various places through the way As per writer Amalan, Vaikundar stayed at Udangudi on Masi 21 and reached Poovandanthoppe on 22 Masi 1008 M.E. . The news about the Thiruchendur incident spread all around the Villages nearby. After this incident people started calling him devoutly as ‘Ayya’ means Father in Tamil. He also travelled northwards to various parts of Tirunelveli to reveal his arrival. He travelled northwards up to Kadambankulam, through Pillaiyar Kudiyiruppu, AvaraikulamVadakkankulam, and Pambankulam. At Kadambankulam, the northernmost venue to which Vaikundar travelled, today stands one among the rare Nizhal Thangalswhich face geographic north. Vaikundar selected five Seedars. Two among them, Dharma Seedar and Bheeman Seedar were selected before his northwards travel, Arjunan Seedar was identified during the travel while the remaining two of them, Sahadevan Seedar, and Nakulan Seedar were selected after the travel. Though Arjunan Seedar was identified earlier he was selected only afterwards. The episode of his northwards travel was documented in very few sources.

After concluding his travel he returned to Swamithope by December 1833 and commenced his penance by mid January 1834 during the auspicious month of Margazhi. It consists of three phases. The first phase of his penance last for two years from January 1843 to December 1835. The Phase I is named Yuga Thavasu and was intended to abolish the rule of the evil force, Kali and for the subsequent end of Kali Yuga. The Yuga Thavasu is performed in a standing posture within a 6 feet-deep pit. During this phase he use to talk less and believed to have taken no food. The second Phase is dedicated for the elimination of the case based and other discriminations among human communities and for the upliftment of Santror. The second phase too lasted for two years beginning on December 1835 till December 1837. This phase is performed at the ground level in a sitting posture. He took only rice gruel . However, some sources claimed that he took milk and fruits during Phase II .

Phase III of the penance began by January 1838. This last phase is meant for the upliftment of women and for the betterment of his progeny. Phase III is performed by him on a raised pedestal. The last phase too was intended to extend for two complete years but was interrupted by the King of Travancore.


By this time it is believed that so many miracles began to happen around him and people started believing his as their saviour. The news began to spread like wild-fire and thousands of people from every section of the society from the surrounding villages began to visit Swamithope, believing that their grievances be addressed by him. He is believed to have cured various diseases during this period. People witnessed mysterious experience and influence while standing before him Some accounts suggests that attempts were made by the upper classes during this time to dispel his popularity. During this time he also believed to have incinerated the demons and also seized the power of the witchcraftsorcery etc in front of his devotees.

Vaikundar characterised himself as a Mendicant. He was addressed by the worshippers as ‘Narayana Pandaram’. It was during these days he preached several revolutionary ideas which are considered as historically unparalleled. He emphasized the importance of CharityTruth and love and induced these values into the rituals. Most of his teachings and rituals he advocated has both religious and social implications. Historically, the rituals were used or viewed as an attempt to break the inequalities, mainly caste-based, prevailed in the society of the time, and to strengthen and uplift the sociologically downtrodden and ill-treated. Examples of this include the charity on food as 'Anna Dharmam' , physical as well as spiritual cleanliness through Thuvayal Thavasu, eliminating untouchability through Thottunamam, self-respect and courage through headgear, and unifying various castes through Muthirikkinaru. His revolutionary doctrine caused great excitement among the people and prepared them to fight for their rights. (SFSE 48) During this time he also believed to have incinerated the demons and also seized the power of the witchcraftsorcery etc. in front of his devotees.


The teachings of Vaikundar created an excitement among the people and it began to reflect in the socio-religious arena of the 19th century South Travancore and South Tirunelveli. The lower classes began to resist several oppressions all of them until then remained unchallenged. The upper classes viewed this as a challenge against them as they believed that the collapse of the existing system may undermine their social status seriously. Numerous complaints were made before the King of Travancore by the upper classes against Vaikundar and his activities. But the king seems to ignore all of them initially. The issue was brought before the king Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma once again during his Suchindrum visit. Being a staunch believer of the Varna system, it seems hard for the King to believe Vaikundar, whose community was outside the caste-fold, to be the avatar of Narayana. Moreover, the claim made by Vaikundar that himself will rule the world as an undisputed King misled the king. He suspected that Vaikundar was provoking the people and was plotting for a revolt against the Kingdom. Fearing a revolution he sent the armed forces immediately to arrest Vaikundar The large gathering around Vaikundar confronted with the army. Vaikundar refrained them from getting violent and appealed them to pave the way for the forces. The soldiers arrested him and took him to Suchindrum.

At Suchindrum, Vaikundar was brought in front of the king. He, who already had doubts about the divinity of Vaikundar, intended to test his supernatural ability by hiding his ring in his hand and asking him to name it. Vaikundar preferred not to answer and to remain silent The king ordered his imprisonment immediately He was imprisoned in a confinement filled with sewage infested with worms It is also noted by some that he was asked to take alcohol in which various poisonous herbs was mixed up. Miraculously Vaikundar remained unaffected He was imprisoned there for two days. Then the king ordered him to be taken to Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Travancore. The forces proceed towards Thiruvananthapuram through KottarParvathipuramChungankadai and reached Thuckalay. That night he was kept imprisoned at Manalikkara . The next day the soldiers took him to Thiruvananthapuram via Balaramapuram. At Thiruvananthapuram, Vaikundar was jailed at Singarathope open prison. Jubliant followers of Vaikundar accompanied him all through his way and stayed at the prison premises

During his imprisonment period people in large numbers rushed to Singarathope to avail his blessings. Vaikundar was subjected to several severe tribulations and cruel treatments. However, he continued preaching and healing there too. He also said to have performed various miracles at the prison Attempts were also made to burn him in lime kiln and in Chilli go-down. He had overcome all these miraculously. He was finally thrown into the cage of a hungry Tiger in front of the administrators, army staff and public. Contrary to the expectation of the officials the tiger did not jump onto its prey. One of the soldiers tried to prod it with a spear in order to provoke it. The tiger caught hold of the spear and in no time left it abruptly when the other end of the spear ripped the abdomen of a priest and he died on the spot. This event shocked the king as he believed that killing a priest would fetch divine wrath. He ordered the release of Vaikundar immediately upon the condition that he would restrict his activities and preaching only to his caste. Vaikundar not only refused to sign the condition but also refused to accept his release. He tore the royal writ into pieces since his mission was the betterment and equality of all castes. He proclaimed that he would be accepting the release only after the completion imprisonment period.

He remained in jail as a prisoner for the full 3 ¾ months. He was released after 110 days, in the first week of March. These events enhanced the fame of Vaikundar further all over the kingdom. His followers carried him back as a procession and they reached Poovandanthope on 19 Masi 1013 M.E (1 March 1838), a day before the 5th anniversary of his incarnation.

Later life

As the Phase III of his Tavam was disrupted by the King he decided to fulfil the penance. He also directed 700 families to undertake Thuvayal Thavasu, the Washing Penance. They concluded the penance at two Phases. Phase I last for 6 months and was conducted at Vakaippathi and Phase II lasts another 6 months at Muttapathi. By the same time the final phase of Tavam of Vaikundar too completed at Poovandanthope. After the conclusion of the Tavam he consecrated the Muthirikkinaru, historically the first ever well in South India which was allowed to be used by all castes. He was also believed to be received the Second Vinchai from Lord Narayana at Theerthakkarai, Muttapathi. Then he moved westwards to the place which was now known to be as Ambala Pathi.

At Ambalappathi, he portrayed himself as a reigning King under a grand roof similar to the ones in the then Travancore palace. He was also believed to have unified various deighties into himself there by conducting a grand ceremony, Ikanai manam. Afterwards he also laid foundation stones for several Nizhal Thangals throughout South Travancore and South Tirunelvely. He breathed his last in 21 Vaikasi 1026.M.E His ‘Sacred Golden Body’ was interned at Poovandanthope which was now the Palliyarai of Swamithope Pathi.

एलेनर जेलिअट


एलेनर जेलिअट के आंबेडकर

मैक्सिको में अंबेडकर के बारे में सामग्री ढूंढना आसान नहीं था परंतु जो कुछ भी मुझे मिला, उन सबमें मैंने एक समानता पाई। मैंने पाया कि उन सभी में, 1969 में पेन्सिल्वेनिया विश्वविद्यालय में एलेनर जेलिअट के अप्रकाशित पीएचडी शोधप्रबंध, जिसका शीर्षक ‘‘डा.अंबेडकर एंड द महार मूवमेंट’’ था, का कहीं न कहीं हवाला दिया गया था -हेसूस चायरेज 11.6.2016

एलेनर जेलिअट दलित अध्ययन की अग्रिम पंक्ति की विद्वान और अंबेडकर के जीवन और कार्यों की प्रमाणिक विशेषज्ञ थीं। इन विषयों में रूचि रखने वाले मेरे जैसे कई लोगों का अंबेडकर से परिचय उन्हीं के लेखन द्वारा हुआ। जिस समय भारत के बाहर आंबेडकर की कोई पहचान नहीं थी, उस समय उन्होंने अंबेडकर और दलित आन्दोलन पर कई पुस्तकें लिखीं, जिन्होंने दुनिया भर के अध्येताओं और सामाजिक कार्यकर्ताओं पर गहरी छाप छोड़ी।

एलेनर जेलिअट से मेरी व्यक्तिगत मुलाकात कभी नहीं हुई। इसलिए मैं यहाँ उन्हें एक महान मनुष्य और विद्वान – जो वे थीं – के रूप में याद नहीं कर रहा हूँ। मुझे विश्वास है कि अमेरिका के नार्थफील्ड, मिनेसोटा के कार्लटन कॉलेज, जहाँ उन्होंने 30 वर्षों तक अध्यापन किया, के उनके विधार्थी और सहकर्मी इस बारे में मुझसे कहीं बेहतर बता सकेंगे। मेरा लक्ष्य साधारण है। मैं तो केवल उनकी उदारता की एक झलक दिखलाना चाहता हूं और यह बताना चाहता हूँ कि उनके लेखन का मुझ पर क्या प्रभाव पड़ा और उसने मेरे विचारों को आकार देने में कैसे मदद की। मैं यहाँ केवल अपने अनुभव की बात कर रहा हूँ यद्यपि बाद के वर्षों में मैं ऐसे कई व्यक्तियों के संपर्क में आया, जिनका अनुभव मुझसे मिलता-जुलता था और जिन्हें जेलियट ने शोध-कार्य करने के लिए प्रोत्साहित किया था।

सन 2008 के प्रारंभ में मैंने पहली बार एलेनर जेलिअट के बारे में सुना। उस समय मैं मैक्सिको में एमए का विद्यार्थी था और भारत के इतिहास पर काम कर रहा था। गांधी और अछूत प्रथा के संबंध में उनके विचारों और कार्यों के बारे में कुछ समय तक अध्ययन करने के बाद मुझे अंबेडकर के जीवन और उनके लेखन के बारे में पता लगा। मैंने अंबेडकर का नाम इससे पहले कभी नहीं सुना था और इसलिए उनके बारे में जो कुछ भी मुझे उपलब्ध हो सका, वह सब मैंने पढ़ डाला।

जेलिअट के विचारों और उनके कार्य के बारे में जानने के लिए मैंने कुछ शोध किया। मुझे पता चला कि उन्होंने बड़ी संख्या में लेख लिखे हैं, जो कई अलग-अलग सम्पादित ग्रंथों में प्रकाशित हैं।

जेलिअट कि लेखन मुख्यतः तीन बिंदुओं पर केंद्रित था।

1.महाराष्ट्र में अछूत प्रथा के खिलाफ अंबेडकर के संघर्ष। उनका तर्क था कि अंबेडकर ने धर्म को खारिज कर और आधुनिक राजनीतिक साधनों का इस्तेमाल कर इस कुप्रथा के खिलाफ संघर्ष किया।

2.समकालीन अछूत आंदोलन और बौद्ध धम्म व साहित्य से उसका रिश्ता। उन्होंने यह समझने की कोशिश की कि अछूत, बौद्ध धम्म को किस तरह देखते हैं और इस प्रयास के चलते वे दलित मराठी लघुकथाओं और कविताओं की समृद्ध दुनिया में प्रवेश पा सकी।

3.चोखामेला जैसे मध्यकालीन अछूत संत कवियों के गुम हो चुके इतिहास की खोज और जाति-विरोधी विचारों की परंपरा का अध्ययन। मैंने इन लेखों से बहुत कुछ जाना-सीखा परंतु जेलिअट का अप्रकाशित शोध प्रबंध मुझे नहीं मिल सका।

कुछ और खोज करने पर मुझे पता चला कि एलेनर जेलिअट, मिनेसोटा के कार्लटन कालेज से जुड़ी हुईं थीं। उन्होंने 1969 से 1997 तक वहाँ अध्यापन कार्य किया था। परंतु मुझे यह जानकर निराशा हुई कि वे सेवानिवृत्त हो गई हैं। तब तू कार्लटन की वेबसाईट पर दिए गए उनके ईमेल पते पर उन्हें एक संदेश लिख भेजा। मेरे पहले ईमेल में मैंने उन्हें लिखा कि मैं अंबेडकर पर अपना एमए का लघु शोधप्रबंध लिख रहा हूँ और इसके लिए मुझे उनकी पीएचडी थीसिस की आवश्यकता है। मुझे आश्चर्य हुआ जब उनका जवाब कुछ ही घंटों में आ गया। अपने ईमेल में उन्होंने लिखा कि उस शोधप्रबंध को एक छोटे-से दलित प्रकाशन ‘ब्लूमून बुक्स’ ने 1998 में प्रकाशित किया था। उन्होंने मुझे लिखा कि मैं अपना पोस्टल पता उन्हें लिख भेजूं ताकि वे उसकी एक प्रति मुझे भेज सकें।

जब ‘‘आंबेडकर एंड द अनटचेबिल मूवमेंट’’ की प्रति मुझे मिली तब मैंने उन्हें धन्यवाद देते हुए एक ईमेल भेजा। उन्होंने जवाब में लिखा कि वे पुस्तक की सामग्री से तो प्रसन्न हैं परंतु उसका शीर्षक उन्हें बिलकुल नहीं भाता। उनकी शिकायत थी कि अंबेडकर को अछूत आंदोलन का एकमात्र नेता बताना अतिरंजना है। मेरी दृष्टि में यह बहुत बड़ा मुद्दा नहीं था। जैसा कि मैंने अन्यत्र लिखा है, अंबेडकर वह पहले व्यक्ति थे जिन्होंने अछूत प्रथा की अवधारणा को एक राष्ट्रीय राजनैतिक अवधारणा में बदल दिया-एक ऐसी अवधारणा में जो भाषा, पेशे और इतिहास की क्षेत्रीय विभिन्नताओं के बाद भी पूरे देश के दलितों को एक करने में सक्षम थी। परंतु मैं जेलिअट की बात समझ सकता था। वे अंबेडकर के विचारों के प्रभाव पर नहीं लिख रही थीं। उनकी विषयवस्तु आंबेडकर का राजनीतिक आंदोलन था। अंबेडकर की मृत्यु के बाद, उनके एक नायक के रूप में उभरने के महत्व को जेलिअट कम करके नहीं आंक रही थीं वे दरअसल, यह कहना चाह रही थीं कि अंबेडकर के आंदोलन के केंद्र में मुख्यतः पश्चिमी भारत के महार थे। इन मुद्दों के बावजूद हम यह समझ सकते हैं कि जेलिअट ने एक इतनी छोटी-सी अनजान प्रेस को अपनी किताब प्रकाशित करने की इजाजत क्यों दी। उनका दलित आंदोलन से जुड़ाव केवल एक अध्येता बतौर नहीं था। वे इस आंदोलन के प्रति प्रतिबद्ध थीं। वे चाहती थीं कि उनके विचार भारत और अमरीका और मैक्सिको में भी ज्यादा से ज्यादा लोगों तक पहुंचे।

जेलिअट ने ईमेल के ज़रिए बड़े धैर्य से अंबेडकर के बारे में मेरे प्रश्नों का उत्तर दिया। उन्होंने मेरे पीएचडी के विषय में भी रूचि ली और उसके संबंध में अपने विचार व्यक्त किए। उन्होंने मुझे मेहनत करने के लिए प्रोत्साहित किया। उनकी टिप्पणियां और उनसे हुई बातचीत मेरे लिए बहुत उपयोगी सिद्ध हुई और मुझे वह आज भी काम आती है। उनकी पुस्तक मेरे लिए एक खजाना है। जब भी मैं किसी अभिलेखागार में जाता हूं तो वह मेरे साथ होती है और जब भी अंबेडकर के जीवन के संबंध में मुझे कोई संदेह होता है तो वह उसका निवारण करती है। इससे भी महत्वपूर्ण यह है कि उनकी वह उदारता जो उनके ईमेलों से झलकती थी ने मुझे अकादमिक दुनिया में अपने कनिष्ठों से मित्रवत संबंध रखने के महत्व से परिचय करवाया और इससे भी कि कई बार कुछ शब्द या पंक्तियां किसी दूसरे के जीवन के लिए कितनी महत्वपूर्ण हो सकती हैं।

हेसूस चायरेज कैंब्रिज विश्वविद्यालय से इतिहास में पीएचडी हैं। उनका पीएचडी शोधप्रबंध डा.अंबेडकर के राजनीतिक विचारों और अछूत प्रथा की अवधारणा के राजनीतिक निहितार्थों पर केंद्रित है।

from forwardpress

नोट-उपरोक्त लेखन में लेखक द्वारा "दलित" शब्द का प्रयोग किया गया है। साभार सामग्री में संशोधन करने की गुंजाइश नहीं रहती है। अतः उपरोक्त विषय वस्तु में दलित शब्द का प्रयोग होने से मुझे/हमें दलित शब्द का समर्थक न समझा जाए। दलित शब्द फुले-अंबेडकरी विचारधारा के अनुकूल नहीं है। इसके स्थान पर उपयुक्त शब्द अनुसूचित जाति (एस.सी.) है।

Eleanor Zelliot, Dr. Ambedkar’s greatest follower

By Raja Sekhar Vundru

As India and the world celebrated Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary year, Ambedkar scholar Eleanor Zelliot, 89, passed away on June 6 in the US. After Ambedkar’s death in 1956, Zelliot came to India in 1963 as a young historian working on her doctoral thesis on Ambedkar and his movement.

Zelliot was professor of history at Carleton College, Minnesota, but her home was Ambedkar’s world and India. In 1969, when she submitted her PhD at University of Pennsylvania, she was the first scholar to complete a doctoral thesis on Ambedkar. She initially intended to write a political biography of the social reformer and politician. But she went on to study the factors which produced Ambedkar and discovered the way he in turn changed history.

At the time when Zelliot took up studying Ambedkar, most historians were busy with the Indian national movement, the British Raj or the 1857 mutiny. Since then, she never refused arequest from any academic institution, journal or encyclopedia to write on Ambedkar and the Dalit movement. Over the next 26 years, she consistently introduced Ambedkar to western academia so that every scholarly work on caste and politics, religion and politics, Indian political thought and leadership included Ambedkar.

During this period and later, she encouraged scores of scholars from the US and Europe to work on Ambedkar. In 2000, French scholar Christophe Jaffrelot became the first European to produce a work on Ambedkar in French — Dr Ambedkar: Leader of Untouchables and Father of the Indian Constitution.

Understanding the very idea of Ambedkar is the greatest contribution of Zelliot. She studied his leadership, his American experience and its influence on him. By 1972, Zelliot pioneered scholarship on the Dalit movement by diligently analysing and comparing the leadership of Gandhi and Ambedkar. She understood how the Mahars learnt to use the political means to empower themselves and how Buddhism and politics went together.

Studying Ambedkar’s leadership she defined the guiding principles which the Dalit leader consistently followed: only Dalits can understand their problems, only Dalits should lead their movement, and education and politics are means to equality.

Reading Zelliot will grant us the multi-dimensional perspective that is required of Ambedkar, who, today, has become the singular rallying point for Dalits. According to the scholar, Ambedkar, along with Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, shaped 20th century India, which, in turn, has shaped the India we live in today.

Zelliot’s contribution to scholarship, however, goes beyond Ambedkar. She studied the Bhakti saints, women saint-poets and untouchable saints and introduced these historical trends and occurrences for modern historical study. She kept up with the latest happenings in the Dalit movement that included the workings of the Dalit Panthers and Dalit Sahitya and everything in between.

Bahujan Zelliot

Zelliot worked on Marathi Calit literature and joined hands with writer Mulk Raj Anand to produce An Anthology of Dalit Literature in 1992. Most of the Dalit Marathi poetry was translated by her in collaboration with AK Ramanujan, Jayant Karve, Gail Omvedt, Sukhadeo Thorat and Vimal Thorat.

Eleanor’s and Karve’s translation of Keshav Meshram’s Marathi poem, ‘One Day I Cursed That Mother-Fucker God’ is chilling: “One day I cursed that mother-fucker god/ he just laughed shamelessly/ my neighbour — a born-to-pen Brahman — was shocked.”

As well as Namdeo Dhasal’s powerful poem: “While I was writing this/three o’clock struck/ though I want to have a drink/ I don’t feel like drinking./ I only want to sleep peacefully/and tomorrow see no varnas.” Zelliot felt that “others will find [Dalit] poetry as filled with life, as meaningful, as wonderfully and sorrowfully human as I do.”

She was reluctant about publishing her doctoral thesis, as she felt that its title, ‘Dr Ambedkar and the Mahar Movement’, was too restrictive for such an emancipatory movement. But it was finally published in 2004.

Her seminal work, published in 1992, is From Untouchable to Dalit: Essays on Ambedkar’s Movement. Without reading this book, understanding Ambedkar is incomplete. If one wants to understand what India is today, one has to understand Ambedkar. And no one has studied and understood Ambedkar so well than Eleanor Zelliot.

(The writer is an IAS officer)

Inclusive Education to empower minority youth. Thank You Mr. Chair, for giving the floor. I am Ankita, speaking on behalf of Dalit youth in Nepal and also representing Feminist Dalit Organization. Dalit youth in Nepal face many challenges in the education system in Nepal. 1. High Illiteracy and low enrollment rate The educational scenario in Nepal is highly centralized and presents difficulty of access for economically poor and marginalized groups. Despite making education free at the primary level when moving to secondary and tertiary level, there is a very low rate of enrollment. The gross enrollment rate at the primary level for Hill Dalits and Terai Dalits is between 70-90% while at tertiary level it can be as low as 1.2%. Given this scenario, it is hard to retain dalit youth in education due to number of reasons. One of which is due to extreme poverty and having the responsibility to sustain themselves and family. Also, the course of the curriculum does not give space for encouraging the culture of Dalit community. 2. Discriminatory practices against Dalit children in schools The forms of structural discrimination and abuse that Dalit children face is stigmatizing due to which they are often times forced to drop out of school. Teachers and other peer groups belonging from a so called higher caste at school exclude Dalit children- segregating classrooms, excluding them from various both extra and curriculum activities, denying for access to school water supplies and toilets, physically punishing them and also act of favoritism. 3. Multiple forms of discrimination faced by Dalit girls and defined gender roles The extreme poverty in which most of the Dalit families live and defined gender roles force Dalit girls out of school. Dalit girls are overburdened with household works or are married off at an early age. As a result of which they have less opportunity to enroll in formal education. 4. Lack of role model from Dalit community As mentioned earlier only 1.2 percent make to tertiary level and even less pursue higher. From my personal experience, while I was studying masters, I was the only one attending school from Dalit community from a group of 30. The reason for also very low representation is due to the cost of private education in Nepal. Also, many Dalit youth have the frustration and do not seek to pursue for further studies and rather migrate for menial jobs….. 5. Access to water, sanitation and hygiene As the settlements, particularly in rural areas of the Dalit community do not have proper access to toilet facilities, clean drinking water and also medical first-aid. To fetch drinking water they have to cover 5-10 km just for drinking water. This leads to poor hygiene and cleanliness and hence, the school management discourages the children to attend schools. Also there is a pre-conception rooted in the mind of people that a person from Dalit community is unhygienic and polluted hence, cannot be touched. They face discrimination based on it as a result are de-motivated to attend school. Recommendations: The current scenario of education in Nepal is nationally standardized and homogenous and lacks space for local culture and resources. Because the Dalits are traditional occupants, the course that is offered does not promote and protect its usefulness. Dalits are often the crafted skilled artisans- for example; blacksmiths, cobbler, carpenter. So these occupations need to be protected and promoted and seen as a respectful job. Even educated Dalits are less offered in the job market. Therefore, the affirmative and positive action should be promoted to the private sector. The government does provide scholarship- limited within the government schools and colleges, but there is no outreach of the Dalit youths; hence unaware of schemes provided by the government. Hence, the state should bring programs to spread awareness. The state should ensure quality education in governmental schools and subsidize for those willing to study in private schools; provide professional training especially for women and girls to promote leadership. Participation of minority youth in public life. Thank You Mr. Chair, for giving the floor. I am Ankita, speaking on behalf of Dalit youth in Nepal and also representing Feminist Dalit Organization. My friend from Nepal presented the overall scenario where as I would like to present on some key challenges. Dalit youth in Nepal face many challenges in participating in public life. 1. High Illiteracy and low access to education The educational scenario in Nepal is highly centralized and presents difficulty of access for economically poor and marginalized groups. Despite making education free at the primary level when moving to secondary and tertiary level, there is a very low rate of enrollment. The gross enrollment rate at the primary level for Hill Dalits and Terai Dalits is between 70-90% while at tertiary level it can be as low as 1.2%. Given this scenario, it is hard for Dalit youth to attain qualifications and participate in a growing social, economic and cultural scene in Nepal. There are many reasons for this lack of participation. One of which is due to extreme poverty and having the responsibility to sustain themselves and family. The other is the systemic and systematic discrimination widely practiced across Nepal and in all spheres of life. Young Dalit women often suffer from multiple forms of this discrimination and exclusion from public life. 2. Discriminatory practices The forms of structural discrimination and abuse that Dalits face is stigmatizing due to which they are often times forced to drop out of school and work from a young age in order to sustain their families. . Peer groups belonging from a so called higher caste at exclude Dalits segregating them from social events, religious activities including attending marriages. Even in death Dalits are excluded and segregated in separate crematoriums. 3. Multiple forms of discrimination faced by Dalit women and girls and defined gender roles The extreme poverty in which most of the Dalit families live and defined gender roles force Dalit girls out of school. Dalit girls are overburdened with household works or are married off at an early age. Dalit male youth migrate for better opportunities making Dalit women and girls with confined mobility, prone to violence and discrimination. Inter-caste marriage is still one of the main forms areas that are unaccepted by the so called higher caste population. Violence and sexual abuse is often the punishment faced by young Dalit women if they dare to marry out of their caste. 4. Access to housing, water, sanitation and hygiene As the settlements, particularly in rural areas of the Dalit community do not have proper access to toilet facilities, clean drinking water and also medical first-aid. To fetch drinking water they have to cover 5-10 km. Despite the source of water available, they are not allowed to have access, due to the preconception rooted in the mind of people that a person from Dalit community is unhygienic and polluted hence, cannot be touched. This phenomenon also prevents the participation of Dalits in public life. If a Dalit family in a very rural part of Nepal tries to construct a concrete house in the community where Dalits and non-Dalits leave, although separated by some sort of visible line of division, the non-Dalits will not allow this construction because they don't want Dalit communities to be raised above their Untouchable status. Access to job opportunities Dalits in Nepal are traditional occupants and artisans but their job is never given any value. It is always considered as a menial job and not something to be encouraged through introduction of technology and into the mainstream. Because they are not educated they are excluded from the job market and forced to either migrate or work in low paid jobs making them unable to come out of the vicious cycle. In these traditional occupation too, only Dalit men and boys participate and are the ones who have the control of money making Dalit girls and women to remain limited within the household chores therefore, are at very minimum exposed to social, economic, cultural and hence the overall public life. Recommendations: Because the Dalits are steeped in tradition, they are often the crafted skilled artisans- for example; blacksmiths, cobbler, carpenter. So these occupations need to be protected and promoted and seen as a respectful job. Even educated Dalits are less offered in the job market. Therefore, the affirmative and positive action should be promoted to the private sector. The state should ensure quality education and provide professional training especially for women and girls to promote leadership and take control of their lives. The government does provide scholarship- limited within the government schools and colleges, but there is no outreach of the Dalit youths; hence unaware of schemes provided by the government. Hence, the state should bring programs to spread awareness. Dalits need to be protected by full implementation of anti-untouchable legislation. This will not change mind-set over night but over time behavior will change.
Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker

Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker, also known as Kallaseril Velayuthan Panikker, (07/01/1825 – 03/01/1874) was an Ezhava warrior of the 19th century in Kerala, India, who fought against oppression by the upper castes.

Panicker, son of Kallisseri Perumal Chekor of the renowned Kallissery Tharavad lived in the village of Mangalam in Alappuzha district and today has folk-hero status in that area. Stories claim him to have been tall, muscular and fair-skinned, and to have held sway over other local members of the Ezhava caste to which he belonged to and for whom he acted as a protector. Resisting restrictions imposed on him due to his caste, he walked on public roads and demanded that those he protected should do the same. By providing cloth for lower caste women, he also opposed the royal decree that they should not cover the breasts and, the folklore says, killed some upper caste men who attempted to strip the women of the material. Sri Velayudha Panickeris associated with the ACHIPUDAVA Strike in Kayamkulam, and the MOOKKUTHI CHANDHA in Pandalam. He was given the status of Panicken (modified to Panicker by the then Travancore King.

The anthropologists Filippo and Caroline Osella consider him to be a forerunner of Sri Narayana Guru in his desire to challenge the prevailing oppression of the Ezhavas.

A research centre now exists called The Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker Research Foundation and Cultural Centre. The temple which he built near to Managalam and in which he installed a Sivalingam in 1854 still stands.
Asha Kowtal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Asha Kowtal
Nationality Indian
Known for Activist for Dalit women's rights

Asha Kowtal is an activist and expert in the field of Dalit women’s rights. She is currently the General Secretary of the Dalit Women’s Rights movement in India, called the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM), which is part of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights. She is also a convenor and part of the steering committee of WinG-India, a network advancing leadership of women from the north-eastern part of India, and involving Dalit and tribal communities in governance at all levels with the aim of challenging exploitative structures and enabling a society with gender equality.

Professional qualifications

Kowtal holds a master's degree in social work and has held various positions with donor agencies, working in the development sector with a focus on the rights of India’s marginalised women.

Professional career

Under Kowtal's leadership, AIDMAM has organised multiple activities, including a National Tribunal on Justice for Dalit Women, which came out with a report on violence against Dalit women after sittings held on 30 September and 1 October 2013.

Kowtal and AIDMAM have also organised a national conference to discuss the specific needs of Dalit women, titled "Reframing Budgets for Dalit Women in India", training programs on International Human Rights Mechanisms and Dalit women self-respect marches across key Indian states, such as the Dalit Mahila Swabhiman Yatra. She has also organised North American tour as Dalit Women Self Respect March, around 16 cities of north America in 2015.

Asha has been involved in creation of Dalit History Month. Its goal is to share the contributions to history from Dalits around the world.

Kowtal was also a speaker at the UN Women and European Union 'National Conference on Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment' in New Delhi. She also spoke at the April 2014 Women in the World Summit in New York on the mass mobilisation of Dalit women through self-respect marches. She has been a regular speaker at various United Nations events.
Anna Mani
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anna Mani
അന്ന മാണി
Anna Mani
Born 23 August 1918

Died 16 August 2001 (aged 82)

Nationality Indian
Scientific career

Anna Mani (23 August 1918 – 16 August 2001) was an Indian physicist and meteorologist. She retired as the Deputy Director General of the Indian Meteorological Department and further served as a visiting professor at the Raman Research Institute. She made several contributions to the field of meteorological instrumentation, conducted research and published numerous papers on solar radiation, ozone and wind energy measurements.

Early life

Anna Modayil Mani was born in 1918 at Peermade, Kerala to an ancient Syrian Christian family. Her father was a civil engineer and an agnostic. She was the seventh of eight children in her family. During her childhood, she was a voracious reader. She was impressed by the activities of Gandhi during Vaikom satyagraha. Inspired by the nationalist movement, she took to wearing only khadi garments.

The Mani family was a typical upper-class professional household where from childhood the male children were groomed for high-level careers, whereas the daughters were primed for marriage. But Anna Mani would have none of it. Her formative years were spent engrossed in books. By the age of eight, she had read almost all the books in Malayalam at her public library and, by the time she was twelve, all the books in English. On her eighth birthday she declined to accept her family's customary gift of a set of diamond earrings, opting instead for a set of Encyclopædia Britannica. The world of books opened her to new ideas and imbued in her a deep sense of social justice which informed and shaped her life.


She wanted to pursue dancing, but she decided in favour of physics because she liked the subject. In 1939, she graduated from the Pachaiyappas College in Chennai (then Madras), with a B.Sc Honors degree in physics and chemistry. In 1940, she won a scholarship for research in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. In 1945, she went to Imperial College, London to pursue graduate studies in Physics. However, she ended up specialising in meteorological instruments.


After graduating from the Pachai college, she worked under Prof. C V Raman, researching the optical properties of ruby and diamond.[2][5] She authored five research papers and submitted her PhD dissertation, but she was not granted a PhD degree because she did not have a master's degree in physics. After returning to India in 1948, she joined the Meteorological department in Pune. She published numerous research papers on meteorological instrumentation. She was mostly responsible for arranging for meteorological instruments, imported from Britain. By 1953, she had become the head of the division with a 121 men working for her.

Anna Mani wished to make India independent in weather instruments. She standardised the drawings of close to 100 different weather instruments. From 1957-58, she set up a network of stations to measure solar radiation. In Bangalore, she set up a small workshop that manufactured instruments for the purpose of measuring wind speed and solar energy. She worked on the development of an apparatus to measure the ozone. She was made a member of the International Ozone Association. She set up a meteorological observatory and an instrumentation tower at the Thumba rocket launching facility.

Deeply dedicated to her work, Anna Mani never married. She was associated with many scientific organizations such as the Indian National Science Academy, American Meteorological Society, International Solar Energy Society, World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the International Association for Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, etc. In 1987, she was a recipient of the INSA K. R. Ramanathan Medal.

She was transferred to Delhi in 1969 as the Deputy Director General. In 1975, she served as a WMO consultant in Egypt. She retired as the deputy director general of the Indian Meteorological department in 1976.

In 1994 she suffered from a stroke, and died on 16 August 2001 in Thiruvananthapuram.

The World Meteorological Organization remembered her on 100 birth anniversary and published her life profile along with Anna interview. 


1992. Wind Energy Resource Survey in India, vv. 2. xi + 22 pp. Ed. Allied Publ. ISBN 8170233585ISBN 9788170233589
1981. Solar Radiation over India x + 548 pp.
1980. The Handbook for Solar Radiation data for India
Ammu Swaminathan

One of the arrogant inmates in the Vellore jail once called a sanitary worker “Shudrachi” (making her caste as her identity). Ammu, even though belonging to a Nair stood up against this and sternly replied to the inmate,
“I am Shudrachi too. Now say what do you want?”
Born: 1894, India
Died: 1978, Palakkad district

Ammu Swaminathan was an Indian social worker and political activist during the Indian independence movement and also a member of the Constituent Assembly of India.

Ammu never went to school. She received only a rudimentary education at home, to prepare her for married life. After her father’s death, through Sambandam System, she was later married to Dr. Subbarama Swaminadhan.

Under her husband's tutelage, her life transformed and blossomed. She studied, honed her skills and transformed to be one of the prominent faces in the pre-independence struggle of India.

Ammu was very conscious of the arrogance of the upper-caste. By all the means, she constantly tried to unsettle them by standing against it. She was also a member of the committee for drafting the Indian Constitution. ALong with numerous social work, she had a political career and went to Russia (erstwhile USSR), China, USA, and Ethiopia as a goodwill ambassador. She also served as the President of the Bharat Scouts and Guides from 1960 to 1965.
Basanti Devi

She was wife of activist Chittaranjan Das. After Das' arrest in 1921 and death in 1925, she took an active part in various movements and continued with social work post-independence. She received Padma Vibhushan in 1973. (Picture Credit- Alchetron)

Basanti Devi, born on March 23, 1880,and died in the year 1974 was an Indian independence activist during the British rule in India. She was the wife of activist Chittaranjan Das. After Das' arrest in 1921 and death in 1925, she took an active part in various movements and continued with social work post-independence. She received Padma Vibhushan in 1973.

Basanti Devi was born on 23 March 1880 to Baradanath Haldar, a diwan in Assam state under the colonial rule of British. She studied at the Loreto House, Kolkata and married Chittaranjan Das at the age of seventeen.

Subhas Chandra Bose considered Basanti Devi as his adopted mother and after the demise of political guru Chittaranjan Das he used to ask for her advises quite often.

B. Krishnappa

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B. Krishnappa
Born 9 June 1938

Died 30 April 1997 (aged 58)

Nationality Indian

Prof. Basappa Krishnappa (1938–1997) was one of the pioneers of the Dalit literary movement in Kannada and the founder president of Dalit Sangarsha Samiti, the radical Dalit advocacy group. He taught at the Sir M. Vishweshwariah College in Bhadravathi for thirty years before retiring as principal. He is acknowledged as an important literary critic.

Krishnappa was born in Madiga Community, in Harihara, Davangere District to Dasappala Basappa and Chowdamma.


A social revolutionary, Krishnappa's presence is felt in most of the landmark Dalit struggles of Karnataka, especially those aimed at getting land for Dalits and fighting for Dalit women's self-respect.

Literature produced by the satiated and the flabby, who consume antacids to digest their food, who live in multi-storied buildings and commute only by car and airplane, has no appeal for me. For such people, literature is an aesthetic luxury, written to kill time. Protest literature is not written for this Tata-Birla five percent who lead a lavish life. Our engagement today is with the starving, the helpless, those who eat from the wastebins outside hotels, the homeless who live in railway stations, bus stands, those who steal food and clothing and die without a history. Aesthetics is not primary for us. When over 60 per cent of our population live below the poverty line, shedding their blood in fields and factories and rotting in ignorance, anyone who says that he writes for aesthetic pleasure, or for literary values, can only be called irresponsible.

"Dalit Literature" in The Exercise of Freedom: An Introduction to Dalit Writing, Ed. Satyanarayana and Tharu

B. Krishnappa, along with Siddalingaiah and others, was one of the founders of Dalita Sangharsha Samiti.

Bhaurao Gaikwad
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Dadasaheb Gaikwad
Gaikwad on a 2002 stamp of India

In office
In office
Personal details
Bhaurao Krishnaji Gaikwad
15 October 1902
Died 29 December 1971 (aged 69)
Willingdon Hospital, New Delhi
Nationality Indian
Political party Republican Party of India
Spouse(s) Seetabai (m. 1912 – d. 1968)
Geetabai (m. 1921)
Occupation politician
Profession Social activist

Bhaurao Krishnaji Gaikwad (15 October 1902 – 29 December 1971) popularly known as Dadasaheb Gaikwad, was an Indian politician and social worker from Maharashtra. He was founder member of the Republican Party of India and was a member of parliament in both the Lok Sabha (1957 - 1962) and Rajya Sabha (1962 - 1968). He was a close colleague and follower of human rights leader B. R. Ambedkar. The people of Maharashtra honoured him with the sobriquet Karmaveer (King of actions) and the Government of India awarded him with Padma Shri in 1968 for his dedicated service to society.


Gaikwad (right) with Babasaheb Ambedkar (left) at Nashik railway station, November 1945

Gaikwad was born on 15 October 1902 into Mahar family at Ambe village in Dindori tehsil, Nashik district of Maharashtra.


Gaikwad embraced Buddhism at the hands of Babasaheb Ambedkar at DeekshabhoomiNagpur on 14 October 1956. He imparted Buddha Dhamma Diksha to thousands at Chaitya BhoomiMumbai on 7 December 1956.


Government of Maharashtra gives special assistance to socially and economically backward people on his name, Karmaveer Dadasaheb Gaikwad Sabalikaran & Swabhiman Yojana.

The Government of India issued a commemorative stamp in his honour in 2002.
Babytai Kamble

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Baby Kamble (1929-21 April 2012), commonly known as Babytai Kamble, was an Indian activist and writer. She was born into an untouchable caste, Mahar, the largest untouchable community in Maharashtra. She was a well-known Dalit activist and writer who was inspired by B. R. Ambedkar, prominent dalit leader. Kamble and her family converted to Buddhism and remained lifelong practicing Buddhists. In her community, she came to be admired as a writer and was fondly called as Tai (meaning sister). She is widely remembered and loved by the Dalit community for her contributions of powerful literary and activist work. She is one of the earliest women writers from the untouchable communities whose distinctive reflexive style of feminist writing setting her apart from other Dalit writers and upper caste women writers who gaze was limited and reflexivity incarcerated in caste and masculinity.

Kamble is critically acclaimed and known her autobiographical work Jina Amucha, written in Marathi. Feminist scholar Maxine Bernstein was instrumental in encouraging Baby Tai Kamble to publish her writings which Kamble had kept as a secret from her family. Bernstien discovered Kamble interest and her writings in Phaltan where Bernstein was conducting her research. She encouraged and persuaded Baby Tai to publish her writings which soon became one of the best autobiographical accounts on caste, poverty, violence, and triple discrimination faced by Dalit women. This auto-narrative chronicles Baby Tai's life story in precolonial to postcolonial India. It is deeply embedded with two important critical moments in the Indian history: freedom from the British rule and anti-caste movement led by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Thus, Baby Tai's auto-biography is just not personal account of a woman's life history but it is a deeply political and a critical record of the making of the nation from the vantage point of a very precarious social location. Jina Amucha public contribution is it is a nation's biography chronicled from the untouchable woman's point of view. It is also therefore a critical account the nation and its margins: lives of untouchables in a caste Hindu society.

One of the major portions of the book articulates caste and gender discrimination and multilayered violence suffered by Dalit women at the hands of the savarna (upper caste Hindus) and Dalit men. Kamble writes from an untouchable woman's perspective, not deterring from naming patriarchy in the untouchable community nor sparing the internalized patriarchy by Dalit women. This honesty and reflexivity has been largely missing in upper caste women's writings. Kamble also underscores how the caste Hindu women and men treated untouchables with contempt, disgust, and hate. This work became one of the most powerful and poignant auto-biographical writing in Marathi. The book was translated into English titled The Prisons We Broke by Maya Pandit and published by Orient Blackswan.

Baby Tai wrote several articles and poems focused on Dalits and also ran a residential school for children from vulnerable communities. She died on 21 April 2012, aged 82, in PhaltanMaharashtra.

Early life and marriage

Babytai Kamble was born in 1929 to an economically stable family. Her father worked as a labour contractor and her maternal grandfather and grand-uncles worked as butlers for the British.

She went to a girls school which was dominated and run by Brahmins, where she and other Dalit girls were subject to discrimination and segregation. They were made to sit in a corner, separated from other students. She was married at the age of 13 to Kondiba Kamble, after passing the fourth standard. The bride, groom and their families had a marriage ceremony without a Brahmin priest as officiator.

She and her husband began their own business of selling loose grapes. After they started making profits, they included vegetables in their merchandise. Soon after, this business venture expanded into a profitable initiative of selling food and other grocery provisions. Their customers were predominantly from the Mahar community. Babytai and Kondiba had ten children, three of whom died during childhood.


While sitting at the shop counter, Kamble began reading newspapers that were used for packing. It was around this time she began penning her autobiography Jina Amaucha (The Prisons We Broke). She also joined a library and began reading books from there. In her spare time, she would write in notebooks. She chronicled the lives of fellow Dalit women and how they negotiated with patriarchy and caste. Jina Amucha has been translated into various languages.

Kamble was involved in the Dalit movement in Maharashtra. This movement saw mass participation and contribution by women. She was a member of the Mahila Mandal in Phaltan. She started a government approved residential school for children from disadvantaged communities in Nimbure, Maharashtra.

Bant Singh

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bant Singh
Bant Singh

Died : 7 January 2006

Occupation Labour Rights Activist
Organization Mazdoor Mukti Morcha
Political party Aam Aadmi Party

Bant Singh is a Sikh labourer and singer from the Jhabhar village in Mansa district, PunjabIndia, who has emerged as an agricultural labour activist, fighting against the power of the landowner. Described by Amit Sengupta as "an icon of Dalit resistance he has been active in organizing poor, agricultural workers, activism that continues despite a 2006 attack that cost him both of his lower arms and his left leg."

After his minor daughter was raped by some powerful men in 2000, he dared take them to court, a usual occurrence when a Dalit is raped by a non-Dalit, braving threats of violence and attempted bribes. The trial culminated in life sentences for three of the culprits in 2004, "the first time that a Dalit from the region who had complained against upper-caste violence had managed to secure a conviction."

On the evening of 7 January 2006, Bant Singh was returning home through some wheat fields. He had just been campaigning for a national agricultural labour rally to be held in Andhra Pradesh in January. He was suddenly waylaid by a gang of seven men, suspected to be sent by Jaswant and Niranjan Singh, the current and former headmen of his village who have links with the Indian National Congress party. One of them brandished a revolver to prevent any resistance while the other six set upon him with iron rods and axes beating him to a pulp.

He was left for dead, and a phone call was made to Beant Singh, a leading man in Jhabhar, to pick up the dead body. However, Bant Singh was alive, though barely.

He was first taken to civil hospital in Mansa but was not given proper treatment there. Then he was taken to the PGI at Chandigarh, where both lower arms and one leg had to be amputated since gangrene had set in by then, and his kidneys had collapsed due to blood loss. The doctor was eventually suspended for his conduct.

Bant Singh was featured in 'Chords of Change' TV series and in a 2020 Tamil film 'Gypsy'. Died :

जनवरी 2006 में पड़ोस के गांव के ही जमींदारों ने बंत सिंह के दोनों हाथ-पैर काट दिए गए थे. बंत सिंह के साथ ऐसा इसलिए हुआ क्योंकि वह अपनी नाबालिग बेटी से हुए सामूहिक बलात्कार के विरोध में इंसाफ की लड़ाई लड़ रहे थे. उसके बाद झब्बर पंजाब में दलित और किसान आंदोलन की आवाज बनकर उभरे.

बंत सिंह झब्बर

अमित कुमार दुबे / सतेंदर चौहान

पंजाब में दलित आंदोलन की आवाज बन चुके वामपंथी नेता बंत सिंह झब्बर अब आम आदमी पार्टी में शामिल हो गए हैं. रविवार को मनसा में पार्टी एक कार्यक्रम के दौरान पंजाब प्रभारी संजय सिंह की मौजूदगी में झब्बर ने AAP की सदस्यता ग्रहण की. झब्बर इससे पहले सीपीआई (एमएल) के सदस्य थे और लंबे समय से भूमिहीन किसानों और दलितों के हक की लड़ाई लड़ रहे हैं.

'आप' की सदस्यता ग्रहण करते वक्त झब्बर ने कहा कि कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी के नेतृत्व से उन्हें अब कोई उम्मीद नहीं बची है, पार्टी अब बड़े जमींदार के हाथों में जा चुकी है और मैं अब भी गरीब भूमिहीन किसान ही हूं. आम आदमी पार्टी ने बंत सिंह के पार्टी में शामिल होने को एक अच्छा संकेत बताया है.

कौन हैं बंत सिंह झब्बर

जनवरी 2006 में पड़ोस के गांव के ही जमींदारों ने बंत सिंह के दोनों हाथ-पैर काट दिए गए थे. बंत सिंह के साथ ऐसा इसलिए हुआ क्योंकि वह अपनी नाबालिग बेटी से हुए सामूहिक बलात्कार के विरोध में इंसाफ की लड़ाई लड़ रहे थे. साल 2002 में उनकी बेटी के साथ सामूहित बलात्कार किया गया था जिसके बाद बंत सिंह कटे पांव से कोर्ट-कचहरी के चक्कर काटते रहे और आखिर में दोनों को सजा दिलाई. उसके बादबंत सिंह पंजाब में दलित और किसान आंदोलन की आवाज बनकर उभरे.

बंत सिंह पर हमला करने वाले नवदीप सिंह और हरबिंदर सिंह ने भी इसी कार्यक्रम में आम आदमी पार्टी की सदस्यता ग्रहण की. मामले में नवदीप सिंह और उनका सहयोगी सात साल जेल की सजा काट चुके हैं. जब बंत सिंह से इस पर सवाल किया गया तब उन्होंने कहा कि मैंने कभी नहीं सोचा था कि ये दिन भी देखना पड़ेगा. ये बात अलग है कि मेरी बेटी की जिंदगी खराब करने वाले भी अब आम आदमी पार्टी में हैं, लेकिन मैं अपनी लड़ाई जारी रखूंगा.

बंत सिंह के संघर्षों पर निरुपमा दत्त ने ‘द बैल्ड ऑफ बंत सिंह’के नाम से एक किताब भी लिखी थी जो 21 जनवरी 2015 को जयपुर लिटरेचर फेस्टिवल में रिलीज की गई.
January 1st, 1100
Anti-caste struggle by Basaveshwara

One of the first historical anti-caste movements in Karnataka was initiated by Basaveshwara in 12th century A.D. It is also popularly known as the Veerasaiva movement. According to Kancha Illaih the movement led by Basaveshwara entirely changed the philosophical discourse. Caste system and untouchability were the two institutions that the Veerashaiva movement tried to dismantle. Patriarchy, caste and the brahmanic religion as an intertwined system of domination and subjugation was examined closely, and methodically dismissed and replaced with a just system. Led by Basavanna, a new social order based on equality between genders and castes, in both words and deeds was being established. Anubhava Manatapa at Kalyan, played host to the intellectual, spiritual and metaphysical dialectics between diverse people drawn to this radical movement. For a period like that wherein caste system and untouchability were intrinsic Basaveshwara’s movement can be viewed as one of the radical anti-caste movements in the history of Karnataka. The movement not only focussed on caste but also on gender. Basavanna strongly criticised caste system and untouchability. In order to disassociate from his caste he refrained from wearing the sacred thread which is a symbol of caste superiority. The egalitarian principles propagated by him primarily attracted untouchable communities. Many of them belonged to the backward communities like barbers, Sudras who were particularly kept out from the ritualistic discourse by the Brahmins. Like Buddhism the movement was against Brahminism. The philosophy of Basavanna questioned the authority of the priestly castes. The Vachanas (poems) composed during this period raised many questions regarding caste, untouchability, Brahminism etc. Unlike Sanskrit that was unfamiliar to large number of people, Vachanas were composed in comprehensible Kannada. The composition of Vachanas is an epoch in Kannada literature. The Vachanas composed incorporated various aspects of society. Many of the Vachanas strongly condemned caste and untouchability. Through Vacahanas he emphasised the significance the equality and human dignity particularly for those from the downtrodden sections. The Vachanas disapproved the insincerity and hypocrisy of the Brahmins. For instance in one of his Vachanas he says that “if I say I am a Brahmin, Lord Kudala Sangamadeva laughs aloud” Though the movement is mentioned has Veerashaiva movement, it is important to note that Basavanna did not attempt to create a separate caste, instead it was the ‘linga deeksha’ (offering Linga) that was provided to untouchables as a way to include them in the ‘Anubhava Mantapa’ (The hall of spiritual experience.)’ Anubhava Mantapa was a democratic platform created for social discussions and progressive activities. Basavanna recognised the fundamental problem behind the existence of caste and untouchability. The Anubhava Mantapa was a collective attempt that included notable individuals like Akkamahadevi, Allama Prabhu and saints like Channiah and Kakkaih from the untouchable caste. One of the radical steps taken by Basavanna was that he organised an inter-caste marriage between an untouchable groom and a Brahmin bride. In the history of social reform movement the inter-caste marriage organised by Basavanna remains as a remarkable achievement. The adversity against the movement was too hostile that it resulted in political chaos in the Kingdom of Kalayan. The movement led by Basavanna remains subsided in the mainstream social reform movement. However, it is one the commendable movement that revolutionized the twelfth century social order. One can equate the Vachana movement to the Bhakti movement in fact consider it as the very first Bhakti movement of Karnataka, due to its association with the spiritual sphere and it contribution to the literature. However, this particular movement stands different in comparison to the other Bhakti movements. The time period of the movement was such that the very attempt to initiate such a moment was remarkable. The impact of the movement on the society was not alone social but also political. He advocated a political philosophy of representation of the voiceless. At present the followers of Basavanna claim themselves to be Lingayats and form one of the dominant castes in Karnataka. With time, the movement initiated by Basavanna has diverted from its original purpose, the main idea of anti-caste and anti-Brahminism has vanished. Nevertheless it continues to be the foundation of the social reform movements in South India. Basavannas teachings remain as one of the progressive thoughts in the history of reform movements.
SectLingayatism (Sharana)

ParentsMadalambike, Madiraja
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Keshava Pillai
28 December 1901

Died 3 July 1990 (aged 88)
Nationality Indian

Social reformer
Spouse(s) V. K. Karthiyayini Amma
Children HridayakumariSugathakumari, Sujatha

Kunjan Pillai
Janaki Pillai

Bodheswaran (28 December 1901 – 3 July 1990), (also known as Bodheswarananda), was an Indian independence activist, social reformer and a poet of Malayalam literature. He was known for his nationalistic poems such as Keralaganam and for his involvement in social movements like Vaikom Satyagraha and other related events which led to the Temple Entry Proclamation of 1936.


Bodheswaran, né Keshava Pillai, was born on 28 December 1901 in Neyyattinkara, in Travancore (in the present day ThiruvananthapuramKerala, India) to Champayil Veettil Kunjan Pillai and Thazhamangalam Janaki Pillai.

Influenced by the thoughts of Swami Vivekananda from an early age, he left his studies to visit the social and religious reformer Narayana Guru with whom he stayed for about two years. Subsequently, he travelled throughout India and during a visit to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, he assumed the name of Bodheswarananda. It was during these travels, he met several Sannyasins and Indian independence activists; he also had the opportunity to attend the public meetings of Mahatma Gandhi and Motilal Nehru.

Bodheswaran was married to V. K. Karthiyayini Amma, a professor of Sanskrit in the Government Sanskrit College, Thiruvananthapuram. The couple had three daughters, HridayakumariSugathakumari and Sujatha, all the three being noted writers. He died on 3 July 1990, at the age of 88.

With Chattampi Swamikal and Narayana Guru

On his return to Kerala, Bodheswaran was advised by Narayana Guru to meet Chattampi Swamikal, who was known to have been a major influence in his life. Thereafter, he kept his association with Swamikal, while getting involved the Indian freedom struggle and made several public speeches which were saide to have attracted large crowds. After a short spell during which he favoured the Arya Samaj movement, he got involved in the Vaikom Satyagraha and other related events until the Temple Entry Proclamation of 1936. He also became a member of the Indian National Congress and changed his name once more, to Bodheswaran.

After Indian independence Bodheswaran gradually withdrew from active politics, although he remained a Congressman until his death. He lectured and wrote on the subject of Swamikal, his belief as quoted by Nair and Devi is that Swamikal was "an embodiment of perfect knowledge".

Legacy and honours

Bodheswaran was known for his poems reflecting nationalistic fervour during his involvement in the Indian independence movement which included Keralaganam, a popular patriotic song of the times. He published six books which, besides poetry anthologies, include a compilation of his speeches. He attempted to write a comprehensive world history covering the period up to World War I but could not complete it. Suprabhatham, a amagazine he founded, also had only a short life.

The Government of India honoured him with the Thamra Patra (Copper Plaque) for his contributions to the Indian independence movement. His birth centenary was celebrated in 2002 when K. R. Narayanan, the then president of India, inaugurated Bodheshwaran Foundation, an eponymous organization, for propagating his ideals. Keralaganam, his patriotic song, was declared as the cultural song of Kerala in 2014.
Bhagya Amma

Bhagya Amma, a Madiga Dalit woman and former ‘devadasi’ (temple slave), has found economic self-reliance by rearing goats in the Nagenhalli village in the Southwest Indian state of Karnataka.
Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

BELLARY, India, Apr 21 2015 (IPS) - HuligeAmma, a Dalit woman in her mid-forties, bends over a sewing machine, carefully running the needle over the hem of a shirt. Sitting nearby is Roopa, her 22-year-old daughter, who reads an amusing message on her cell phone and laughs heartily.

The pair leads a simple yet contented life – they subsist on half a dollar a day, stitch their own clothes and participate in schemes to educate their community in the Bellary district of the Southwest Indian state of Karnataka.

But not so very long ago, both women were slaves. They have fought an exhausting battle to get to where they are today, pushing against two evils that lurk in this mineral-rich state: the practice of sexual slavery in Hindu temples, and forced labour in the illegal mines that dot Bellary District, home to 25 percent of India’s iron ore reserves.

Finally free of the yoke of dual-slavery, they are determined to preserve their hard-won existence, humble though it may be.

Still, they will never forget the wretchedness that once defined their daily lives, nor the entrenched religious and economic systems in India that paved the way for their destitution and bondage.

From the temple to the open-pit mine

“Walk into any Dalit home in this region and you will not meet a single woman or child who has never worked in a mine as a ‘coolie’ (labourer)." -- Manjula, a former mine-worker turned anti-slavery activist from the Mariyammanahalli village in the Indian state of Karnatake

“I was 12 years old when my parents offered me to the Goddess Yellamma [worshipped in the Hindu pantheon as the ‘goddess of the fallen’], and told me I was now a ‘devadasi’,” HuligeAmma tells IPS.“I had no idea what it meant. All I knew was that I would not marry a man because I now belonged to the Goddess.”

While her initial impressions were not far from the truth, HuligeAmma could not have known then, as an innocent adolescent, what horrors her years of servitude would hold.

The devadasi tradition – the practice of dedicating predominantly lower-caste girls to serve a particular deity or temple – has a centuries-long history in South India.

While these women once occupied a high status in society, the fall of Indian kingdoms to British rule rendered temples penniless and left many devadasis without the structures that had once supported them.

Pushed into poverty but unable to find other work, bound as they were to the gods, devadasis in many states across India’s southern belt essentially became prostitutes, resulting in the government issuing a ban on the entire system of temple slavery in 1988.

Still, the practice continues and as women like HuligeAmma will testify, it remains as degrading and brutal as it was in the 1980s.

She tells IPS that as she grew older a stream of men would visit her in the night, demanding sexual favours. Powerless to refuse, she gave birth to five children by five different men – none of whom assumed any responsibility for her or the child.

After the last child was born, driven nearly mad with hunger and despair, HuligeAmma broke away from the temple and fled to Hospet, a town close to the World Heritage site of Hampi in northern Karnataka.

It did not take her long to find work in an open-cast mine, one of dozens of similar, illicit units that operated throughout the district from 2004 to 2011.

For six years, from dawn until dusk, HuligeAmma extracted iron ore by using a hammer to create holes in the open pit through which the iron could be ‘blasted’ out.

She was unaware at the time that this back-breaking labour constituted the nucleus of a massive illegal mining operation in Karnataka state, that saw the extraction and export of 29.2 million tonnes of iron ore between 2006 and 2011.

All she knew was that she and Roopa, who worked alongside her as a child labourer, earned no more than 50 rupees apiece (about 0.7 dollars) each day.

One of hundreds of illegal open-pit iron ore mines in the Bellary District in India that operated with impunity until a 2011 ban put a stop to the practice. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

In a bid to crack down on the criminal trade, police often raided the mines and arrested the workers, who had to pay bribes of 200-300 rupees (roughly four to six dollars) to secure their release.

In a strange echo of the devadasi system, this cycle kept them indebted to the mine operators.

In 2009, when she could no longer tolerate the crushing workload or the constant sexual advances from fellow workers, contractors and truckers, who saw the former temple slave as ‘fair game’, HuligeAmma threw herself on the mercy of a local non-governmental organisation, Sakhi Trust, which has proved instrumental in lifting both her and her daughter out of the abyss.

Today all her children are back in school and Roopa works as a youth coordinator with Sakhi Trust. They live in Nagenhalli, a Dalit village where HuligeAmma works as a seamstress, teaching dressmaking skills to young girls in the community.

Caste: India’s most unsustainable system

The story may have ended happily for HuligeAmma and Roopa, but for many of India’s roughly 200 million Dalits, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.Once considered ‘untouchables’ in the Indian caste system, Dalits – literally, ‘the broken’ – are a diverse and divided group, encompassing everyone from so-called ‘casteless’ communities to other marginalised peoples.

Under this vast umbrella exists a further hierarchy, with some communities, like the Madiga Dalits (sometimes called ‘scavengers’), often discriminated against by their kin.

Historically, Madigas have made shoes, cleaned drains and skinned animals – tasks considered beneath the dignity of all other groups in Hindu society.

Most of the devadasis in South India hail from this community, according to Bhagya Lakshmi, social activist and director of the Sakhi Trust. In Karnataka alone, there are an estimated 23,000 temple slaves, of which over 90 percent are Dalit women.

Lakshmi, who has worked alongside the Madiga people for nearly two decades, tells IPS that Madiga women grow up knowing little else besides oppression and discrimination.

The devadasi system, she adds, is nothing more than institutionalised, caste-based violence, which sets Dalit women on a course that almost guarantees further exploitation, including unpaid labour or unequal wages.

For instance, even in an illegal mine, a non-Dalit worker gets between 350 and 400 rupees (between five and six dollars) a day, while a Dalit is paid no more than 100 rupees, reveals MinjAmma, a Madiga woman who worked in a mine for seven years.

Yet it is Dalit women who made up the bulk of the labourers entrapped in the massive iron trade.

“Walk into any Dalit home in this region and you will not meet a single woman or child who has never worked in a mine as a ‘coolie’ (labourer),” Manjula, a former mine-worker turned anti-slavery activist from the Mariyammanahalli village in Bellary District, tells IPS.

Herself the daughter and granddaughter of devadasis, who spent her childhood years working in a mine, Manjula believes the systems of forced labour and temple slavery are connected in a matrix of exploitation across India’s southern states, a linkage that is deepened further by the caste system.

She, like most official sources, is unclear on the exact number of Dalits forced into the iron ore extraction racket, but is confident that it ran into “several thousands”.

Destroying lives, and livelihoods

Annually, India accounts for seven percent of global iron ore production, and ranks fourth in terms of the quantity produced after Brazil, China and Australia. Every year, India produces about 281 million tonnes of iron ore, according to a 2011 Supreme Court report.

Karnataka is home to over 9,000 million tonnes of India’s total estimated reserves of 25.2 billion tonnes of iron ore, making it a crucial player in the country’s export industry.

Bellary District alone houses an estimated 1,000 million tonnes of iron ore reserves. Between April 2006 and July 2010, 228 unlicensed miners exported 29.2 million tonnes of iron ore, causing the state losses worth 16 million dollars.

With a population of 2.5 million people relying primarily on agriculture, fisheries and livestock farming for their livelihoods, Bellary District has suffered significant environmental impacts from illicit mining operations.

Groundwater supplies have been poisoned, with sources in and around mining areas showing high iron and manganese content, as well as an excessive concentration of fluoride – all of which are the enemies of farming families who live off the land.

Research suggests that 9.93 percent of the region’s 68,234 hectares of forests have been lost in the mining boom, while the dust generated through the processes of excavating, blasting and grading iron has coated vegetation in surrounding areas in a thick film of particulate matter, stifling photosynthesis.

Although the Supreme Court ordered the cessation of all unregistered mining activity in 2011, following an extensive report on the environmental, economic and social impacts, rich industrialists continue to flout the law.

Still, an official ban has made it easier to crack down on the practice. Today, from the ashes of two crumbling systems – unlawful mining operations and religiously sanctioned sexual abuse – some of India’s poorest women are pointing the way towards a sustainable future.

From servitude to self-reliance

Their first order of business is to educate themselves and their children, secure alternative livelihoods and deal with the basic issue of sanitation – currently, there is just one toilet for every 90 people in the Bellary District.

Dalit women and their children, including young boys, are working together to end the system of ‘temple slavery’ in the Southwest Indian state of Karnataka. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

The literacy rate among Dalit communities in South India has been found to be as low as 10 percent in some areas, but Madiga women are making a massive push to turn the tide. With the help of the Sakhi Trust, 600 Dalit girls who might have missed out on schooling altogether have been enrolled since 2011.

Today, Lakshmi Devi Harijana, hailing from the village of Danapura, has become the first Madiga woman in the region to teach in a college, while a further 25 women from her village have earned their university degrees.

To them, these changes are nothing short of revolutionary.

While some have chosen to travel the road of intellectual advancement, others are turning back to simple skills like sewing and animal husbandry.

BhagyaAmma, once an exploited temple slave who also worked in an illegal mine for several years, is today rearing two goats that she bought for the sum of 100 dollars.

She tells IPS she will sell them at the market during the holy festival of Eid al-Adha – a sacrificial feast for which a lamb is slaughtered and shared among family, neighbours and the poor – for 190 dollars.

It is a small profit, but she says it is enough for her basic needs.

Although the government promised the women of Bellary District close to 30 billion rupees (about 475 million dollars) for a rehabilitation programme to undo the damages of illegal mining, the official coffers remain empty.

“We have received applications from local women seeking funds to build individual toilets, but we have not received any money or any instructions regarding the mining rehabilitation fund,” Mohammed Muneer, commissioner of the Hospet Municipality in Bellary District, tells IPS.

Not content to wait around, the women are mobilising their own community-based, which allocates 15,000 rupees (about 230 dollars) on a rolling basis for families to build small toilets, so that women and children will not be at the mercy of sexual predators.

Also in the pipeline are biogas and rainwater harvesting facilities.

As Manjula says, “We want to build small models of economic sustainability. We don’t want to depend on anyone – not a single person, not even the government.”

Edited by Kanya D’Almeida

Basawon Singh
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Basawon Singh on a 2000 stamp of India

Basawon Singh or Basawan Singh also known as Basawon Sinha, (23 March 1909 – 7 April 1989) was an Indian independence activist and a campaigner for the rights of the underprivileged, industrial labourers and agricultural workers.

He spent a total of 18 and a half years in prisons in British India as a consequence of his support for independence and he was committed to democratic socialism.

Along with Yogendra Shukla, he was a founder member of the Congress Socialist Party in Bihar. Among his revolutionary colleagues and friends he was called Lambad because of being very tall.

Early life

Basawon Singh was born in a poor farming family in Jamalpur (Subhai), Hajipur on 23 March 1909. An only son, he lost his father at the age of eight. He had come from a small farmer's family. At the age of ten he ran off to Hajipur to see and hear Mahatma Gandhi. A brilliant student, he secured scholarships in both primary and middle schools. Thereafter he joined Dighi High School. He used to teach older boys for food and lodging. His mother sold a bamboo every month for two rupees to meet his other school expenses.

Singh passed Matriculation Examination with a high first division in 1926 and began studies at G. B. B. College.


During last two years of school Singh came in close contact with revolutionaries, with Yogendra Shukla, the head of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA), as his mentor. Soon after joining the HSRA in 1925, Singh was rusticated from G. B. B. College, thus ending his formal education. He was subsequently involved with Bihar Vidyapeeth]] at Sadakat Ashram in Patna, where he undertook intensive military training with a small group of youths.

Singh absconded in 1929 after the Lahore Conspiracy Case. He was co-accused in the Bhusawal, Kakori, Tirhut and Deluaha conspiracy cases. He carried on the movement along with Chandrashekhar Azad and Keshab Chakravarty. He was sentenced to seven years in prison but escaped from Bankipore Central jail in June 1930 after three days. He was re-arrested and sent to Bhagalpur Central Jail.

While at Bhagalpur, Singh undertook a fast unto death as a protest against what he thought were the prevailing inhuman conditions in jail. On the 12th day of the fast he was moved to Gaya Central Jail and kept in solitary confinement. Soon he was shifted to the jail's hospital. All efforts of forced feeding him failed, Sir Ganesh Dutt, the then minister of Bihar, asked Singh's mother, Daulat Kher, to attend to urge him to give up his fast. When she attended, on the 50th day of the fast, she blessed him.

People waited daily at the jail gate to receive Singh's body should he die. All political prisoners in the jail were also on fast for the last few days in solidarity with him but on the 58th day he broke his fast after being informed by Gandhi that his demands had been met. He was released from jail in June 1936 because of his poor health but the city act[clarification needed] was imposed on him to restrict his movement. He violated the restrictions and was again arrested.

Singh studied subjects such as history, geography, political science, philosophy, social sciences and natural sciences during his imprisonments. He had a photographic memory.

Politics and trade union work

Singh was active in the trades union movement from 1936 until his death in 1989. He joined the Congress Socialist Party in December 1936 and was appointed its labour secretary. He established trade unions in the coal fields, sugar mills, mica mines and railways of Bihar. He formed Japla labour union in 1937, Baulia Labour union in 1937, organised the workers of Jamalpur Workshop along with Shivnath Bannerjee, formed the Gaya cotton and Jute Mill Labour Union, formed the Tata Collieries Labour Association along with Subhas Chandra Bose and went on to become the latter organisation's president when Bose left India in 1941. He organised coal workers of Talcher with close co-ordination and support of Dukhabandhu Mishra (founder member of HMS union in Talcher coalfields), Rajgangpur (Orissa) and Satna (MP); established Mica Workers Union, Gomia Labour Union (Explosives), later these unions affiliated to HMS. He was active in AIRF from 1936, president of OT Railway Union from Agra to Nefa and NE Railway Mazdoor Union.

He was rearrested in April 1937 along with Jayaprakash Narayan, Benipuri and others in Patna for "unconstitutional" works for six months. During the Second World War he was the first man in Bihar to be arrested under Defence of India Ordinance on 26 January 1940 in Husainabad, Palamu and released after eighteen months. During the Quit India Movement, after the interception of Jayaprakash Narayan's Deoli letter addressed to him, he went underground in 1941 and went to Afghanistan to collect firearms and ammunition. He attended the Bombay AICC session (9 August 1942) and conducted the movement from the underground. He was held in Delhi on 8 January 1943 to be freed only on 3 April 1946 after which he continued his nationalist and trade union work.

Trade union movement

With Shibnath Bannerjee he worked very hard to form the railway men's union from 1936 onwards. He unionized the workers of Japla, Baulia, and Dalmianagar in ShahabadGayaJamshedpur and Kanda; of the coalfields of JhariaHazaribaghKumardhubi; workers of Patna CityJamalpur; the sugar factory workers of Harinagar and Marhawra; the workers of Talcher and Rajgangpur in Orissa; and Satna in the Central Provinces.

Subsequent to the Second World War, the trade union movement gained urgency and strength on account of the untiring efforts of Basawon Singh. He organised the workers on various fields such as sugar, coal, cement, mica, explosives, aluminium, iron and steel industries, railways, post-offices and banks, etc. He was one of the founders of the Hind Mazdoor Sabha, and its president at the state and central levels.

Basawon Singh was actively involved with the All India Railwaymen's Federation since 1936 onwards. He was the President of the Oudh Tirhoot (O.T.) Railway Union and the North East Railway Mazdoor Union for several years and since 1946 the Vice-President (acting President because Subhas Chandra Bose was the President and he had escaped from India by then) of the All-India Railwaymen's Federation.

Dalmianagar and 30 Days' Fast Unto Death

Before independence Basawon Singh worked in the trade union movement with unabated zeal for the cause of democratic socialism, because trade unionism was one of the major factors for social change and social justice. Early in October 1938, he was arrested in Dalmianagar under Section 107 of C.P.C. with 6 other leaders for his regular meetings and organising an intensive strike of about 2400 men. In the course of the trade union movement, this prominent socialist leader often resorted to the Gandhian method of fasting to protest against the injustice meted out to workers. On 12 January 1949 he was arrested in Dalmianagar under the Bihar Maintenance of Public Order Act and he was released at the end of March. Afterwards he undertook hunger strike for 30 days in Dalmianagar for the cause of workers. Prime Minister of IndiaJawaharlal Nehru and his friend and socialist colleague Jayaprakash Narayan intervened and Rajendra Prasad became the arbitrator, only then Basawon Babu broke his fast on the 31st day.

Second World War and Quit India Movement

Subsequent to the making of India a participant in the Second World War, the Congress Ministry in Bihar headed by Krishna Singh tendered resignation on 31 October 1939. Singh was the first Bihari who observed the Independence Day on 26 January 1940 by taking out an unlicensed procession and delivering an anti-war speech at Japla. Consequently, a warrant was issued by the Deputy Commissioner of Palamau. A case was instituted against him under the Defence of India Rules for an objectionable speech delivered at Japla. He was convicted at Daltonganj and sentenced to suffer 18 months rigorous imprisonment under the Defence of India Rules. He was kept in the T. Cell of the Hazaribagh Central Jail while Narayan was arrested on 18 February 1940. Narayan and other socialist leaders, including Ganga Sharan Singh, were kept in different cells. Basawon Singh was released in July 1941.

Basawon Singh played a highly remarkable and inspiring role in the historic Quit India Movement. It is worthy to note that on 12 April 1942, he addressed the Palamau District Political Conference attended by thousands of people including a large number of tribal people mostly consisting of Kherwars and Kisans. In the next week he delivered a highly inspiring speech with Reasat Karim of Dehri in the conference of Socialist group of Kisan Sabha held on 18 and 19 April 1942 at Patepur in Muzaffarpur which was presided over by Abdul Hayat Chand of Patna. On the eve of the August Rebellion, Singh was blacklisted in Group "A" as Labour, Socialist and Terrorist Leader, classification I with Deep Narayan SinghRambriksh Benipuri, Narayan Prasad Verma, Bir Chand Patel and other leaders of Muzaffarpur District by the colonial government of Bihar Province. He went underground and organised his guerilla band of freedom fighters in the dense forest of Palamau. The fiery activities of this socialist leader encouraged the escape of six socialist leaders, namely Shukla, Narayan, Pandit Ramnandan Mishra, Suraj Narayan Singh, Shaligram Singh, Gulab Chand Gupta and Gulali Sonar from Hazaribagh Central Jail on Diwali night on 9 November 1942. Narayan was willing to meet with Singh to spell out the programme to overthrow the British Raj through armed struggle.

Singh was again rounded up in Delhi on 7 January 1943. He was incarcerated in cross-bars and fetters in the condemned cells of the Red Fort dungeons, Delhi Jail, and BankipurGayaBhagalpur and Hazaribagh Central Jail. He was released in April 1947 subsequent to the formation of the Congress Ministry in Bihar headed by Krishna Singh on 2 April 1946.

In independent India

He was a member of the National Executive of the Socialist Party. He is the founder of HMS (Hind Mazdoor Sabha), one of the six national federations affiliated to the Socialists. He was held for Gomia strike in 1965 fighting for the rights of workers.

Socialist leadership

In February 1948, the Congress Socialist Party delinked itself from the Congress. Singh was a prominent leader of Socialist Party until its merger with other political parties to form the Janata Party and its government in Bihar as well as in India in 1977. He was a member of the national executive of the Socialist Party from 1939 till 1977 and for many years as its state President.[5]

He won from Dehri-on-Sone in the first General Elections of 1952 and became an important opposition leader from 1952 until 1962. He was a Member of legislative Council from 1962–68. He became one of the most powerful Cabinet Ministers (Cabinet Minister of Labour, Planning and Industry) in the 1967 Coalition Government. During the Emergency of 1975 he stayed underground for 20 months conducting the movement and his wife was jailed under MISA as a potential "threat" to the Government.

In 1977 he was elected from Dehri-on-Sone and again becomes the Cabinet Minister for Labour, Planning and Industry in the Janata Party government in the state. He died on 7 April 1989.

His wife Kamala Sinha, a grandniece of Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mukherjee was also an Indian politician and diplomat. She was twice elected to the Rajya Sabha from 1990 to 2000, and later served as Ambassador to Suriname and Barbados. She also became the first woman Union Minister of State (MoS) for external affairs in the cabinet of I. K. Gujral.

Travels abroad

Basawon Singh had broad knowledge and was known for his scholarship among the Indian Independence Movement activists. He represented the country on various occasions. For the first time he paid a visit to Rangoon in 1950. In 1951, he was a delegate to the First Asian Socialist Conference held at Rangoon. In 1954, he went to China and he led the Indian Delegation to participate in the May Day Celebration. In 1956, he represented the Hind Mazdoor Sabha in the annual conference of the Japan Trade Union at Domei. In the same year, he went to the Soviet Union and led the Indian Delegation to participate in the May Day Celebration. He visited the United States in 1984 on the invitation of the American Federation of Labour Congress of Industrial Workers Organization.


The Government of India issued a commemorative stamp in his name on 23 March 2000. There is an indoor stadium named Basawan Singh Indoor Stadium in the city of Hajipur in Bihar.
Beena Pallical


Beena Pallical is currently the General Secretary of Dalit Arthik

Adhikar Andolan, co-ordinates the National Coalition of SCP TSPLegislation and Executive Director, South Asia Dalit Women’s Economic Empowerment Program of Asia Dalit Rights Forum.

She has been with NCDHR for the last seven years, working on the Dalit Economic Rights, with a special focus on Dalit women’s economic rights.She has been passionately working towards policy changes within Central and State governments for the development of Dalit and Adivasi community. Has been demanding for inclusion of Dalit Women in the policy formulation. Her main focus of work continues to be on Economic Justice and specifically looking at Gender equity and equality. She has led many campaigns in the last seven years and has trained several Dalit & Adivasi Women and men on Budget rights. She contributed to the overall work of Dalit Rights in NCDHR and participated in several national and international seminars representing the voices of Dalits and Adivasis and advocating stronger policy measures with effective implementation. She feels that if she were not a Human Rights Activist she would be dancing her way to glory!!!!

Beena Pallical is the Executive Director at the Asia Dalit Rights Forum and the current Manager of a programme seeking to strengthen Dalit Women’s Economic Rights across South Asia1. The Dalit community in this region is still considered the lowest of the historical castes and suffers widespread discrimination, despite recent legislation and initiatives. Within the community, the specific problem of women’s economic empowerment has received little attention, but is now the focus of a two-year programme funded by UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality.

What are the fundamental challenges facing Dalit women?

Across Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, there are around 201 million Dalit men, women and children. The caste system divides society into four layers, but the Dalits are outside those layers, at the bottom of the heap, considered fit only for the dirty jobs such as cleaning latrines and sewers, or skinning animals for leather. They are known as “Untouchables”.

It is a problem of intergenerational poverty. If the women are engaged in manual scavenging, then their children will get into the same trade once they reach 10 or 12 years old. It is hard to break out of these activities if you are the son or daughter of a scavenger.

As a Dalit myself, according to the system people from other castes cannot touch me or eat with me. I cannot use the same tap as the dominant castes, because we are considered to be polluted. This is still in place in several parts of South Asia, especially in rural areas. But it can also take other forms, including in urban areas, for example when people refuse to rent a house to me, or with me, or even from me.

Also, Dalits have restricted access to services across the region, whether those are health services, clean drinking water or education.

What polices and campaigns are already in place?

There are good policies in place, for example in India and Nepal, but the implementation is not there2. In Sri Lanka, they don’t even recognize the Dalits as a community or social category. In particular the large number of Dalit women3 in the tea and rubber plantations work without the protection of any specific policies or recognition of their particular vulnerability.

The Fund for Gender Equality has been supporting the Dalit women’s economic empowerment programme in South Asia since 2016. In Bangladesh over the past two years we have seen the creation of Dalit rights groups, and we have been able for the first time to push for Dalit women to sit at the same table with policy makers. This has really created an impact. Other groups in Nepal, Sri Lanka and India are also working on the ground with Dalit women, as part of the Asia Dalit Rights Forum.

What needs to happen at policy level?

This is a key part of leaving no one behind, as per the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also important to focus on the intersection of different marginalizations, for Dalits as much as anyone else. Imagine a Dalit woman who is transgender and also disabled, that is at least a triple marginalization.

Unless these concerns are kept at the core of policy drafting, I don’t think we will be able to reach this agenda by 2030. There has been a certain invisibilization, so to say, of this problem by policy makers as well as by society.

Do the Dalits recognize their own rights?

That is a very good question. I think that, as a Dalit community, because we have not had any rights for the longest time, we sometimes fail to claim them. Also, some efforts in recent years to assert ourselves have led to economic reprisals and physical violence.

But we have started realizing that we are seeking nothing more than our due share of services and opportunities. We are not asking for charity. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that every Dalit woman and man has access to services, education, health, etc.

How h the Fund for Gender Equality changed the lives of Dalit men, women and children?

The support of UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality arrived at a critical time, when no other agency recognized the need in South Asia for a programme to empower Dalit women economically. There had been several programmes on violence, but even without violence we need money to build houses and for education.

The Fund has brought this issue to the forefront of Dalit women’s rights and I think this support has been essential. We have now a group of 15 to 20 women, who would never be able to sit with policy makers or go over budgets, who today are sitting at the same table and arguing and putting their points across.

Of course, the sustainability going forwards will remain a challenge, but at least we have this group of women who have realized that these rights are important, and we need to take this forward!

Baby Kamble

Baby Kamble (1929-2012) was an Indian activist and writer. She was born into an untouchable caste, Mahar, one of the largest untouchable communities in Maharashtra. She was a well-known Dalit activist and writer who was inspired by B. R. Ambedkar. Kamble and her family converted to Buddhism and remained lifelong practicing Buddhists. In her community, she came to be admired as a writer and was fondly called as Tai (meaning sister). She is widely remembered and loved by the Dalit community for her contributions of powerful literary and activist work. She is one of the earliest women writers from the untouchable communities whose distinctive reflexive style of feminist writing setting her apart from other Dalit writers and upper caste women writers (Ramteke,n.d) who gaze was limited and reflexivity incarcerated in caste and masculinity.

Kamble is critically acclaimed and known her autobiographical work Jina Amucha, written in Marathi. Feminist scholar Maxine Bernstein was instrumental in encouraging Baby Tai Kamble to publish her writings which Kamble had kept as a secret from her family. Bernstien discovered Kamble interest and her writings in Phaltan where Bernstein was conducting her research. She encouraged and persuaded Baby Tai to publish her writings which soon became one of the best autobiographical accounts on caste, poverty, violence, and triple discrimination faced by Dalit women. This auto-narrative chronicles Baby Tai's life story in precolonial to postcolonial India. It is deeply embedded with two important critical moments in the Indian history: freedom from the British rule and anti-caste movement led by Dr.B.R.Ambedkar. Thus, Baby Tai's auto-biography is just not personal account of a woman's life history but it is a deeply political and a critical record of the making of the nation from the vantage point of a very precarious social location. Jina Amucha public contribution is it is a nation's biography chronicled from the untouchable woman's point of view. It is also therefore a critical account the nation and its margins: lives of untouchables in a caste Hindu society.

One of the major portions of the book articulates caste and gender discrimination and multilayered violence suffered by Dalit women at the hands of the savarna (caste Hindus) and Dalit men. Kamble writes from an untouchable woman's perspective, not deterring from naming patriarchy in the untouchable community nor sparing the internalized patriarchy by Dalit women. This honesty and reflexivity has been largely missing in upper caste women's writings. Kamble also underscores how the caste Hindu women and men treated untouchables with contempt, disgust, and hate. This work became one of the most powerful and poignant auto-biographical writing in Marathi. The book was translated into English titled The Prisons We Broke by Maya Pandit and published by Orient Blackswan.

Baby Tai wrote several articles and poems focused on Dalits and also ran a residential school for children from vulnerable communities. She died on 21 April 2012, aged 82, in PhaltanMaharashtra.

Early life and marriage

Babytai Kamble was born in 1929 to an economically stable family. Her father worked as a labour contractor and her maternal grandfather and grand-uncles worked as butlers for the British.
She went to a girls school which was dominated and run by Brahmins, where she and other Dalit girls were subject to discrimination and segregation. They were made to sit in a corner, separated from other students. She was married at the age of 13 to Kondiba Kamble, after passing the fourth standard. The bride, groom and their families had a marriage ceremony without a Brahmin priest as officiator.

She and her husband began their own business of selling loose grapes. After they started making profits, they included vegetables in their merchandise. Soon after, this business venture expanded into a profitable initiative of selling food and other grocery provisions. Their customers were predominantly from the Mahar community. Babytai and Kondiba had ten children, three of whom died during childhood.


While sitting at the shop counter, Kamble began reading newspapers that were used for packing. It was around this time she began penning her autobiography Jina Amaucha (The Prisons We Broke). She also joined a library and began reading books from there. In her spare time, she would write in notebooks. She chronicled the lives of fellow Dalit women and how they negotiated with patriarchy and caste. Jina Amucha has been translated into various languages.

Kamble was involved in the Dalit movement in Maharashtra. This movement saw mass participation and contribution by women. She was a member of the Mahila Mandal in Phaltan. She started a government approved residential school for children from disadvantaged communities in Nimbure, Maharashtra.

Baby Kamble, affectionately known as Babytai Kamble once older, is best known as a Dalit activist and writer. She penned Jina Amacha (The Prisons We Broke), a vivid narration of her (as well as many other Dalit women’s) lived experiences. The book was translated into several languages. Babytai also wrote several poems and articles delineating Dalit lives and ran an ashram for children from vulnerable communities.

Babytai Kamble passed away on 21 April 2012, at the age of 82. Her words, firmly rooted in Ambedkarite ideology, have continued to inspire Dalit activists to this day, urging them to look beyond the individual to the community in the struggle for freedom and equality.

Early life

Babytai Kamble was born in 1929, to a relatively affluent family. Her maternal grandfather and grand-uncles had worked as butlers for British officers. In her book, Babytai recalls the tale of her birth: her mother had lost three daughters in quick succession and Babytai was given up for dead too when she fell ill and lost consciousness.

A pit was dug for her in the village, but her mother insisted on keeping the ‘dead’ baby in her lap all night until Babytai finally regained consciousness. Those around her sang bhajansand prayed to god that entire night. Her miraculous ‘rebirth’ was attributed to a godman and the powers of faith. Babytai wonders how many children were dug alive in pits due to the lack of medical facilities and faith in godmen.

Her father was a labour contractor who worked on the Mumbadevi Temple in Bombay as well as a milk dairy in Pune owned by the central government. He did very well for himself and was also incredibly generous, sometimes to a fault, spending his money on feeding his labourers until the Britishers paid their wages.

From him, she learned that one need only earn enough money to feed one’s stomach and not one’s greed and that the true earning was one’s good deeds. However, her mother was never allowed outside the house. Babytai’s grandmother, Sitavahini, had led the revolution against eating dead cattle meat.

Because her father travelled a lot, Babytai and her mother lived with her maternal grandparents, in Veergaon, western Maharashtra. The village (including Babytai’s family) was inhabited by the Mahar community, the same community to which Ambedkar belonged. The entire village was, in her words, “decorated with eternal poverty“. Babytai Kamble treated every household as part of her own family and was on friendly terms with the entire community.


The age of marriage for women in the Mahar community was seven to ten years old. Babytai was accordingly married off very young, after which she ran a provisions store with her husband, taking on the duty in the mornings when he went to buy fresh supplies for the store.

This was Babytai’s first brush with literature: as she wrapped the groceries people bought from the store in a newspaper. She slowly started writing her own narration and therefore the community’s. But she was very careful to keep this writing hidden from her husband and most of her relatives for twenty years.

The pathbreaker with a pen

Image Credit: Goodreads

One of the major reasons why Babytai’s writing was path-breaking is because there had been many chronicles of Dalit lives written before her time, but there wasn’t much literature on Dalit women. Her book gave us one of the first critiques of twofold patriarchy – an experience of Dalit women’s lives recognizing their dual oppression: by gender and caste.

Babytai Kamble recounts in detail the reproductive labour of Dalit women. After giving birth, the woman’s stomach would be tied and she would require soft food to line her stomach. But there was no soft grain to be found, despite Mahar women putting out a call in the village for soft food. Women would then often have to swallow the hard jowar for the pain in the stomach.

They would return to their maternal homes to have their first child. Often there would not be enough cloth to stem the flow of blood after childbirth. Many women died in childbirth or after it, so women continued to have children until menopause to ensure at least two to three surviving children.

Babytai also recounts in great detail the influence of Ambedkar. As per casteist and religious diktats, all Dalits had to bow in front of Savarnas as they traveled in the villages. When young married women did not follow this custom, the offended Savarna men would shout at the Mahars loudly in the village square, questioning how the Mahars could possibly deign to get so high and mighty.

The girl’s father-in-law and other male elders would profusely apologize. Then they would come back to their own houses and shout at the girl asking if she wanted the entire community to be let down. Their mothers-in-law and other neighbours would also join in.

When women went into the villages to sell firewood and grass, Brahmin women buying it from them would sit on their shoulder-high sit-outs (the architecture of the houses was designed to maintain caste hierarchy and exclude Dalits) and haggle for the lowest prices. Once this was done, they would shout at the women to carefully inspect the product to ensure no hair or thread belonging to the sellers was left on it, lest it “polluted” the entire Brahmin household. Once this was done, the Brahmin women would throw a few paisatheir way as payment, without coming near them.

Once Dalit children started attending school, there were inevitable clashes between them and Savarna children, with several exchanges of harsh words against Ambedkar and Gandhi from either side. Dalit children were segregated in school, while fighting Savarna children at the school tap for water as the Savarnas tried to block their access and teachers placing Dalit children at the back, far away from the blackboard.

Image Credit: Friends 4 Education
Babytai urges her community to remember the lessons from Ambedkarite struggles. She decries those who take to temples and idol worship and encourages remembering Dalit struggles of the past and the way of life before Dr Ambedkar. Her words have immense relevance today as we see the continued prevalence of pernicious caste practices.


Bojja Tharakam

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bojja Tharakam
Born 27 June 1939

Died 16 September 2016 (aged 77)

Hyderabad, India
Nationality Indian
Political party Schedule caste student federation, President Republican Party of India
Spouse(s) Vijaya Bharati
Children Dr. Mahita, Rahul Bojja (IAS)

Bojja Tharakam (27 June 1939 – 16 September 2016) was a well-known poet, writer, social and political activist and a senior human rights advocate in India. Tharakam was a committed lawyer in the Andhra Pradesh State High Court, fighting against the problems that Dalits have had to confront.

Early age

Bojja Tarakam was born in Kandikuppa village of East Godavari district to his parents Appalaswamy and Mavullamma. His father, Bojja Appalaswamy, was one of the SCF leaders in coastal Andhra and was elected twice to the legislative Assembly from Amalapuram constituency in East Godavari district, in 1951 and 1955.

Chundur Massacre/Tsunduru massacre (1991)

He was senior public prosecutor Tsunduru massacre case in the Andhra Pradesh High Court. During an interview with Dalit Camera he said that the judgment in the Tsundur case was biased, illogical and casteist to protect their Reddy caste people. The reasoning given by the high court is contrary to all principles of criminal jurisprudence and appreciation of evidence. The trial court which gave the first judgment had elaborately discussed the evidence, the entire evidence, and come to a conclusion which is unassailable. But unfortunately the high court, throwing all the norms and canons of justice to the winds, gave a very unscientific reasoning, which is unknown to criminal jurisprudence, and acquitted all the accused. [This is opinion, not fact.]

He was a human rights activist and stood specially for the rights of Dalits. He also filed case against the encounters by police in Supreme court and demanded that these officers should be booked and the probe should be set up for them. He won the case in Supreme Court of India.

Karamchedu (17 July 1985)

He resigned from the High Court as a sign of protest in 1984 against the attacks on Dalits in Karamchedu in Prakasam district of AP.

He founded AP Dalita Maha Sabha. He worked all his life to spread the ideas of Dr B R Ambedkar in the society especially among the youths.


He died on 16 september 2016 at his residence in Hyderabad after battling with cancer for 3 years .


Mahad:The March That's Launch Everyday in 2018 published by The Shared Mirror Publishing House, Hyderabad.
(Poem) Naalage Godavari (Godavari is Like Me) in 2000.
Brezil Prajala Bhuporatam (The Brazilian's fight for the Land) in 2003 (published by Janapada Vignana Kendram, Hyderabad).
Newspaper run by him is Neela Zenda from Andra Pradesh.
Major Works "Police arestuceseta 'caste-category', 'ground-plow-mudeddulu' 'Panchatantra' (novel)," the born-throat '
B.Shyam Shundar

B. Shyam Sunder
Tara Sing with B.Shyam Shundar

Born 21 December 1908
Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Died 19 May 1975 (aged 66)
Resting place Hyderabad
Nationality Indian
Education B.A.LLB.
Occupation lawyer
Organization Bhim Sena
Title Quied-e-Pushthkhome
Movement Eradication of Untouchability,
Awards Khusro-e-Deccan

B. Shyam Sunder (21 December 1908 – 19 May 1975) was born in Aurangabad district in Maharashtra State, India. His father was B. Manicham, a railway employee, and his mother Sudha Bai and had one younger sister. He was a political thinker, jurist, prolific writer, parliamentarian and a revolutionary leader. In 1937, he founded the Dalit-Muslim unity movement at Parbhani in Aurangabad, Maharashtra and urged his people to join hands with Muslims. He was a legislator representing Andhra Pradesh and Mysore State.

In 1956, he established the "All India Federal Association of Minorities" at Hyderabad and finally organised a movement for Bahujans in 1968 at Lucknow district in Uttar Pradesh State and formally declared that Minorities slogan "India is ours." He inaugurated 'Bhim Sena', a voluntary corps force, at Gulbarga in Karnataka State which later spread to all parts of India. V. T. Rajshekar an eminent Dalit scholar, writer and editor Dalit Voice credited him as Father of Dalits Movements in India.

Early life and education

Shyam Sunder was born on 21 December 1908 into Mala family at Aurangabad Cantt., Aurangabad district, Maharashtra, which was then part of the Nizam of Hyderabads princely state. He completed his early schooling at Aurangabad. He was greatly moved by caste ill-feelings and practice of untouchability, his agitated mind took him to Buddha's Ajanta Caves to seek solace. When his family moved to Hyderabad, he enrolled in the Osmania University, graduating in Political Science, Economics and went on to earn a law degree. He could speak Urdu, English and Marathi. He was popular among the student community and he was elected Senate and Syndicate member of the Osmania University. He entered active politics and joined the student wing of Depressed Classes Association; he was chosen as General Secretary and later became its President in 1947.

Political career

He practiced law briefly and joined the Swadeshi movement under the leadership of Smt Sarojini Naidu and served as its General Secretary to Andhra Pradesh. He was elected the President of Literary Society of Hyderabad. He accepted the membership of Exhibition Society to Hyderabad. He was elected unopposed from Graduate Constituency, to Hyderabad Legislative Assembly and later served as its Deputy Speaker.

He was a part of the Nizam's delegation to UNO. Sri PR Venkat Swamy, who authored Our Struggle for Emancipation, says "the entry of Shyam Sunder is a red day in the history of Depressed Class Movement" and mentions he was fondly addressed as Queid-e-Pusthakhome [Leader of Depressed Class]. The Nizam of Hyderabad conferred Khusro-e-Deccan, highest civilian award, on Shyam Sunder for his yeoman service. Rajsheker VT editor Dalit Voice, an eminent Dalit writer, gives a graphic picture of Shyam Sunder and achievement of Bhim Sena.

Missions of life

Shyam Sunder was a social-political and ideological leader of the Mool Bharathis the during pre- and post-independence period. He was able to alleviate the conscience of his brethren by making them realise they are not Untouchable but the Mool Bharathis of India; they are born Buddhist and builders of Harappan civilization and heir apparent to rule this land. He strove hard to provide education facilities and fought for land reforms for his brethren. He spearheaded a movement to federate Minorities and Bahujans to fight for their legitimate constitutional rights.

We are not Hindus, we are born Buddhist

Hinduism has a practice of "untouchability", wherein certain people are Untouchable. The Father of Nation, Sri Mahatma Gandhi, fondly said they are Harijan, meaning sons of God. The Constitution of India declared they are Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and Human Right activists say they are Dalit. Shyam Sunder, from the beginning of his political career, bluntly refuted this, saying "We are not Hindus, we have nothing to do with the Hindu caste system, yet we have been included among them by them and for them." and wisely said that Caste system is to them by them and for them.

Dalit-Muslim unity movement

Change! Change swiftly; if you do not change now you will never change!" said Shyam Sunder at the "All India Depressed Classes Association" Conference on 30–31 May 1941 at Parbhani in Aurangabad District held under his Presidency. He laid the foundation for Dalit-Muslim Unity Movement. It was decided in the conference that the untouchables should abandon all the traditional activities and get themselves freed from untouchability and caste system. He read sixty-four pages printed presidential address known as Khutbe-e-Sadarat and asked his people to raise a banner of militant revolt against caste system and join hands with the Muslims. He was a fiery pro-Muslim leader.[9] It turned out to be a social-cultural movement and has contributed to the sociology of development.[10] He was the apostle of Dalit-Muslim unity movement in India. Sheetal Markan's Blog it has contributed for political awareness between both communities. Indeed, it is a great document in the history of untouchables movement, he in detailed elucidated the history of Mool Bharathis, Indus valley civilization; a Dravidian civilization, Advent of Aryans in India; Origin of caste system, are Mool Bharthis are adherent of Hinduism, and Aryans (Brhamins) usurpation of power from Mool Bharathis.

Contribution to education

In 1932, His Highness the Nizam of Hyderabad set up the "One Crore Scheduled Caste Welfare Fund". Shyam Sunder was a trustee member for three years. To avoid caste ill-feeling among students, the trust opened Madarsa-e-Pushthkhome schools, residential hostels and to combat school dropout, it distributed monthly scholarships and even clothes to the students. This kind of education scheme was not found elsewhere in India. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar started the People's Educational Society at Aurangabad; aforementioned trust gave twelve 1.2 million rupees as a grant and the Nizam of Hyderabad personally gave two hundred acres of land to the Society. With these donations, Milind College, the first PES institution at Aurangabad, was established. Shyam Sunder served as Executive Council Member to the Society from 1964-66.

Land Reforms

Shyam Sunder realised that land alone could bring a qualitative-quantitative change in the lives of his brethren. PR Venkat Swamy recalls that he organized a mammoth rally of landless peasants at Hyderabad. He demanded land reforms from Nizam's State government, asking his followers to encroach on government-held "Gairan" land and even surplus lands of landed gentry. Dalits occupying agricultural lands belonging to the Government and privately held properties were first noticed in this part of India. He proposed many amendments to land reform bills in the Karnataka Assembly and his contributions are hailed. But the feudal mentality were stumbling blocks for successful land reform; thus, he went to the extent of demanding a Mool Bharathi State 'Dalitastan'.

Address to the UN Security Council

He was part of the Nizam's delegation to the UN Security Council. He is the first post-independent untouchables leader who addressed the UN security council. He, as a sole representative of the 9 million Depressed class people, formed a part of the delegation took advantage of his presence among the representative of world nations. He gave the Security Council a clear picture of the embittered strife between groups and inhuman conditions of the suppressed masses of independent India. His comparison of the pathetic plight of the depressed Classes of India to the segregation of Negros in the United States created an indelible impression in the world diplomatic parlors. He was given a place of honour everywhere, as the true representative of sixty millions "untouchables", "Unapproachable", "Unseeable" and "Unshadowable" people.

The Indian governments Operation Polo wherein the Nizam signed an accession treaty with government occurred, and Shyam Sunder cut short his European tour and returned to India. He was kept under house arrest at his sisters house in Pune and later freed. He renewed his political activities and contested the first General Election from Chanchal Guda constituency from Hyderabad, which he lost. He was later elected to Mysore Legislative Assembly from Bhalki constituency in Bidar district. In 1962 he contested for an Assembly seat from Aland constituency in Gulbarga district, and Lok Sabha seat from Bidar district, but lost both elections. After the demise of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia he became the president of Praja Socialist Party.

Minorities Movement

With the blessings of Sardar Master Tara Singh, on 13 October 1956 Shyam Sunder formed "All India Federal Association of Minorities" at Hyderabad. Shyam Sunder also wrote the pamphlet Federation is a must for Indian Minorities;[14] his demands for Minorities included enforcement of their Constitutional rights, preservation of culture, electoral reforms, and even nationalisation of Administration Problems of India Minorities. His main objectives were to undertake a nationwide educative campaign in favor of secularism, to ensure that minorities were not denied their constitutional rights, and a fair deal in recruitment for civil and military appointments and admissions to educational and technical institutions. Articles 29 and 30 of the constitution of India (part III) were implemented in letters as well as in spirit so far as the minorities are concerned. He warned minorities that "the alternative before the minorities is federate or face a lingering death.". National Integration and Problems of Minorities" He specifically suggests safeguards such as effective representation of minorities in Parliament and Legislature, safety of their life and culture and re iterates the re-organisation of states and further he says prejudice and discrimination against minorities hurts the country more than its victims.

Four Immediate Needs of 12 Crore Suppressed Human beings in India

On 26 January 1968, a conference of "All India Scheduled Caste Federation" conference was held at Nanded District in Maharashtra State under the Presidency of Shyam Sunder. He thundered that the practice of Apartheid is a racial one and untouchability is religious in nature. The "ghetto apartheid" has been operation for three thousand years in India in spite of India's Constitutional provisions for Scheduled Caste has made no differences in the practice of untouchability and they are living in burning furnace and conference also decided to co-ordinate all political parties.

The federation put forth Four Demands: Separate settlement, separate election for them, establishment of a separate University at Milind college in Aurangabad or Siddharth College at Bombay and lastly, form an education trust funded by the government of India.The conference also demanded that the Marthawada University should be named after B. R. Ambedkar

Bhim Sena

He created Bhim Sena, a voluntary corps force, on 29 April,1968 in Gulbarga district in Karnataka on the seventy-seventh anniversary of the birth of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.[citation needed] He gave Ambedkars name to Bhim Sena is a self-defense movement based on truth and non-violence.It repulsed the caste Hindus atrocities on the untouchables. A militant force comprised about 2,00,000 Dalits. The movement was revolt against Hindu caste system. Shyam Sunder wished to create Dalitastan, a country for Untouchables, and desired an alliance between the Dalits, the Muslims and the Untouchables. For this reason, Bhim Sena became popular. The Bhim Sena movement was a caste struggle rather than a class struggle, to confront Hindus militarily. The main objectives of Bhim Sena were three-fold: twenty-five percent villages to be surrendered to them, a separate electorate, and separate elections and a separate University for them.


Bhim Sena should be organised on a district wise basis. The Flag of the Bhim Sena will be blue. In the centre there will be a white shining sun in which there will be likeness of the plough, the hammer and the arrow in red colour representing peasants, workers and the traves. The plough also indicates that the Scheduled Castes are the principal producers of food, the hammer indicates that they are the power behind all industrial activities, while the arrow shows that it is they who once ruled India. powers Self-defence is our main object, subsidiary activities like Prepare for census and election work, The Legal Aid Committee, Adult education.

Father of Bahujans Movement

Shyam Sunder held a conference concerning Scheduled Caste, Minorities, Backward Classes and other Minorities Convention at Lucknow district in Uttar Pradesh on 12 and 13 October 1968. Periyar E. V. Ramasamy, Dr. Fareedi, Bhante Bhadat, and Anand Kausalyayan attended. In his Presidential address he put forth several demands. He demanded remodeling of para military forces, division of bigger states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra and Bihar into two or more states. He advocated that Minorities should be treated as corporate entities and be given autonomy to conduct their affairs. With one voice it declared the aqhliyataoun ka Nara Hindustan hamara. "From the platform of this convention, held in Lucknow noted for its refined composite Hindustani culture. I call upon the oppressed minority’s f the great land to wake up and unite; I warn them that if they do not, they would be annihilated one by one, group by group and section by section. And declare that united they constitute the majority and have the natural right to play an effective role in guiding the destination of the land of their birth and I conclude by expressing on my own behalf and on behalf of this convention our profound devotion to our mother land Ahliyataouna ka nara Hindustan Hamara.In fact, this movement at Lucknow was a precursor to the Bahujan movement started by Sri Kanshi Ram.

An Appeal to UNO

He sought the UNO’s intervention[23] to form separate country for untouchables, and appealed for a plebiscite to elucidate the desires of members of the Scheduled Caste in regards to remaining in Hinduism, and similarly in his book They Burn.[24] In his book They Burn he says "The United Nations organisation and The Charter on Human Rights does provide some remedy for millions and millions of human beings. who are thus condemned to the inhuman and barbarous condition peculiar to the Untouchables of India numbering one hundred and sixty Millions. Article 13 (B) and 55 (C) of the United Nations Charter deserve study by all champions of the exploited and the downtrodden The possibility of invoking Article 36-2- of the Statue of The International Court of Justice needs to be studied by all friends of the oppressed"

The Mool Bharathi B. Shyam Sunder Memorial Society was formed after the death of Shyam Sunder. The society has published his books and assists research students in various universities.

Books by B. Shyam Sunder
Mool Bharathis
They Burn: the 16,00,00,000 untouchables of India
The four immediate needs of twelve crores suppresses human beings in India : resolutions passed unanimously
Veda Mecum for Mool Bharatis
Bhim Sena kya Chahati hai (Urdu)
Problems of Scheduled Caste
Harijans and General Elections
Neo-Buddhist Claims as Scheduled Caste
The Plight of Scheduled Caste in India Petition to Lok Sabha
National Integration and Problems of Indian Minorities
Danger Ahead for Minorities let us Unite and Face them
Federation is a Must for Indian Minorities
Problems of Indian Minorities
On Bahujans
Presidential Address Uttar Pradesh Minorities and Backward Classes Convention (English, Urdu and Hindi)
Khutebe-e-Sadarat, Parbhani Presidential Address in (Urdu)
Deeksha (Hindi, Urdu and English)
Bhoodevataon ka Manifesto (Hindi, Kannada and Urdu)
Educational conference at Hyderabad (Urdu)
Zionist Plot to Dominate the World
Today's Muslims are Tomorrows Harijans
Interview to Meherab Urdu Digest
On Hinduism
Bhudevataon ka Manifesto (Hindi and Kannada)
UDHR Must be Honored in India
The Menace of the Dragon

Babu L. N. Hardas

Hardas Laxmanrao Nagrale (6th January 1904– 12th January 1939), popularly known as Babu L.N. Hardas.was a Dalit leader and social reformer in India. He was an ardent follower of Dr. Ambedkar and was pioneer of the practice of exchanging the greeting Jai Bhim amongst the Dalits. He was also a prominent labour leader in the Central Province and was the general secretary of the Independent Labour Party in the province.

Babu Hardas started his social activities pretty early in his life. At the age of 17, he started a weekly Maharatha from Nagpur with a view of spreading social awareness in the Dalits. He tried to organize the Mahar community by founding the Mahar Samaj organization in 1922. He also formed one Mahar Samaj Pathak, a voluntary corps group, to organize the disorganized Mahar youth to protect the Dalits against the atrocities. He opened a Mahila Ashram in order to imparting training to Dalit women in daily activities. Also, in order to avoid exploitation of beedi workers, he started the beedi work on cooperative basis, which became very successful in the area.

Babu Hardas as a strong opponent of irrational and superstitious customs of the society. He strongly opposed to the sub-caste barriers amongst the depressed classes. He arranged community dinners and invited to all people of depressed classes divided in various sub-castes.

Babu Hardas was also a strong advocate of education to Dalits. He himself had completed matriculation, which was a rare thing for the Dalits in those days. He started night schools at Kamthi in 1927 at the behest of the Mahar community. There were 86 boys and 22 girls learning in his school at a time. He also started one Sant Chokhamela Library at Kamthi around the same time.

Babu Hardas was a prolific writer and mostly used his writing skills for creating social awareness in the depressed classes. He penned a book Mandal Mahatme in 1924 to create awareness amongst the people against the evils in society. He distributed free copies of this book among the people. This book created a significant impact on the people and the Dalit people in the area stopped watching and enjoying plays based on Hindu gods. He also wrote a play Veer Balak (Brave Child) and staged it to create a new wave of awareness among the people. He wrote and published Songs of the Market and Songs of the Hearth. His articles were also published in Weekly Janta, which was edited by Dr. Ambedkar.

Hardas met Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in 1928 for the first time. Though he started his social activities long back, his political career get a push with this meeting. In the same year, Dr. Ambedkar requested him to give his witness in front of Simon Commission. Later in year 1930-31, with regards to the Second Round Table Conference, when question arose about the real leadership of untouchables, Hardas sent a telegram to Ramsay MacDonald, the then prime minister of the United Kingdom, that Dr. Ambedkar is the real leader of untouchables and not Mahatma Gandhi. He also created an opinion about this in different parts of the country and sent a total of 32 telegrams to Mr. McDonald by various untouchable leaders. Like Dr. B.R. Ambekdar, Babu Hardas wanted greater participation of the depressed classes in the legislative assemblies. He appealed the governor of Central Provinces and Berar to nominate members among the depressed classes to the legislative council, district local boards, and municipalities. He was among the main organizers of Conference of the Depressed Classes at Nagpur on August 8, 1930 presided over by Dr. Ambedkar. This conference passed the resolution to have separate electorates for the depressed classes. This conference formed All India Depressed Classes Federation and Babu Hardas was elected as a joint secretary of the federation. The second conference of All India Depressed Classes was held at Kamthi on May 7, 1932 and Babu Hardas was the president of its reception committee. At this meeting, he was elected as a secretary of the national body of the federation.

Babu Hardas became secretary of CP and Berar branch of Independent Labour Party (ILP) in 1936. He fought the assembly elections in 1937 from Nagpur-Kamthi constituency and won. Moon gives an interesting account of how Babu Hardas won the election against a wealthy Indian National Congress candidate from the constituency. Babu Hardas was even forced, with the help of local goons, to take back his candidacy.

In 1938, he was also nominated as the president of the CP and Berar branch of ILP. In 1939, he fell sick of tuberculosis and his political career came to an abrupt end by his death on January 12, 1939. Unanimous resolution for Mahavidarbha was passed in 1938 during his time . He is Lion of Vidarbha . He was native and son of soil.

Babu Hardas left a significant impact on the depressed classes even after his death. Moon (2001) notes that “Just as a comet appears, bringing light throughout the sky, and then vanishing in instant, so it happened with Hardas.” The greeting phrase Jai Bhim coined by him has become a general term of greeting amongst the Dalits in India. It is also a formal greeting phrase of Bahujan Samaj Party, a prominent Dalit-based party in India. Besides all his contribution to the uplift of the depressed classes, Babu Hardas is still honoured as the pioneer of Jai Bhim.

Source – Wikipedia

Birth : 6 February 1895, Nadia district, West Bengal, India

Death : 11 May 1915, Ambala, Ambala district, Haryana, India (aged 20 years)


Basanta Kumar Biswas (6 February 1895 – 11 May 1915) was an Indian pro-independence activist involved in the Jugantar group who, in December 1912, is believed to have bombed the Viceroy's Parade in what came to be known as the Delhi-Lahore Conspiracy. He was initiated into revolutionary movement by Jugantar leaders Amarendranath Chattopadhyaya and Rash Behari Bose.

Early life:

Basanta Kumar Biswas was born on 6 February 1895 at Poragacha in Nadia district of West Bengal, to Matilal and Kunjabala Biswas. He belongs to the family of freedom fighter Digamabar Biswas, an active leader of the Indigo revolt (or Nilbidroha) and freedom fighter Manmathnath Biswas. He started his schooling at his village and then he moved to M. I. School in nearby village Madhavpur with his cousin Manmathnath Biswas. M.I school was established by social reformer and freedom fighter Gagan Chadra Biswas. In 1906, Basanta was moved to Muragacha school. Khirodh Chandra Ganguly was principal in Muragacha school. Under his guidance Basanta started his journey of freedom fight. Later he was recruited by Rash Behari Bose and trained in arms and bombs. Rash Behari Bose often called him Bishe Das.

Revolutionary activities

On 23 December 1912, Biswas, disguised as a woman, threw a bomb at Lord Charles Hardinge, who was riding with his wife on an elephant during a procession at Chandni Chawak, Delhi. Hardinge escaped with flesh wounds, but his Mahout was killed in the attack. But the authors of the deed remained obscure for many months despite the state’s intense investigation, and lucrative reward. Biswas was arrested on 26 February 1914 in Poragachha, Nadia while he went to perform the last rites for his father. The trial, which came to be called the Delhi-Lahore Conspiracy Case, began on 23 May 1914 in Delhi, and Basanta was found guilty on 5 October and sentenced to life imprisonment. Three other men were condemned to death at the same trial: Amir Charid, Abadh Behari, and Balmokand.

However, the Government was eager to have the death penalty imposed so an appeal was formulated at Lahore High Court and the records held at Ambala Central Jail were tampered with to show that Biswas was two years older than he really was to impute legal responsibility for his offence. The Crown won its appeal and Biswas was sentenced to be hanged.

Basanta Kumar Biswas was hanged on 11 May 1915 at Ambala Central Jail in Punjab aged twenty and became one of the youngest people to be executed during the Indian revolutionary struggles during the 20th century.

There is a statue of Basanta Biswas established by Rasbihari Basu in a park of Tokyo, Japan. Another statue is situated infront of Rabindra Bhawan, Krishnanagar, Nadia. On the request of Sankariswar Dutta of Gobrapota Subhendu Memorial Seva Pratisthan the Loka Sabha Speaker Meera Kumar has installed a photo of Basanta Kumar at the Museum of the Indian Parliament. Ujjal Biswas, an Indian politician and the present Minister for Technical Education in the Government of West Bengal belongs to the family of Basanta Biswas.
B. Krishnappa
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Prof. B. Krishnappa (1938–1997) was born in Madiga Community, in Harihara,Davangere District.His father name is Dasappala Basappa and mother Chowdamma.His family was his strength.he is a pioneer of the Dalit literary movement in Kannada and the founder president of Dalit Sangarsha Samiti, the radical Dalit advocacy group. He taught at the Sir M. Vishweshwariah College in Bhadravathi for thirty years before retiring as principal. He is acknowledged as an important literary critic.

B. Krishnappa was a pioneer of the Dalit literary movement in Kannada and the founder president of Dalit Sangarsha Samiti, the radical Dalit advocacy group. He taught at the Sir M. Vishweshwariah College in Bhadravathi for thirty years before retiring as principal. He is acknowledged as an important literary critic.A social revolutionary Krishnappa's presence is felt in most of the landmark Dalit struggles of Karnataka, especially those aimed at getting land for Dalits and fighting for Dalit women's self-respect.B. Krishnappa, along with Siddalingaiah and others, was one of the founders of Dalita Sangharsha Samiti.

A social revolutionary Krishnappa's presence is felt in most of the landmark Dalit struggles of Karnataka, especially those aimed at getting land for Dalits and fighting for Dalit women's self-respect.

Literature produced by the satiated and the flabby, who consume antacids to digest their food, who live in multi-storied buildings and commute only by car and airplane, has no appeal for me. For such people, literature is an aesthetic luxury, written to kill time. Protest literature is not written for this Tata-Birla five percent who lead a lavish life. Our engagement today is with the starving, the helpless, those who eat from the wastebins outside hotels, the homeless who live in railway stations, bus stands, those who steal food and clothing and die without a history. Aesthetics is not primary for us. When over 60 per cent of our population live below the poverty line, shedding their blood in fields and factories and rotting in ignorance, anyone who says that he writes for aesthetic pleasure, or for literary values, can only be called irresponsible.

"Dalit Literature" in The Exercise of Freedom: An Introduction to Dalit Writing, Ed. Satyanarayana and Tharu

B. Krishnappa, along with Siddalingaiah and others, was one of the founders of Dalita Sangharsha Samiti.
Booker Taliaferro Washington
From Wikipedia

Booker T. Washington in 1905

Booker Taliaferro Washington
April 5, 1856

Died November 14, 1915 (aged 59)

Resting place Tuskegee University
Occupation Educator, author, and African American civil rights leader
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Fannie N. Smith
(1882–1884, her death)
(1886–1889, her death)
(1893–1915, his death)
Children 3

Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an American educator, author, orator, and adviser to several presidents of the United States. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African American community and of the contemporary black elite. Washington was from the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants. They were newly oppressed in the South by disenfranchisement and the Jim Crow discriminatory laws enacted in the post-Reconstruction Southern states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Washington was a key proponent of African-American businesses and one of the founders of the National Negro Business League. His base was the Tuskegee Institute, a historically black college he founded in Tuskegee, Alabama. As lynchings in the South reached a peak in 1895, Washington gave a speech, known as the "Atlanta compromise", which brought him national fame. He called for black progress through education and entrepreneurship, rather than trying to challenge directly the Jim Crow segregation and the disenfranchisement of black voters in the South.

Washington mobilized a nationwide coalition of middle-class blacks, church leaders, and white philanthropists and politicians, with a long-term goal of building the community's economic strength and pride by a focus on self-help and schooling. With his own contributions to the black community, Washington was a supporter of racial uplift, but secretly he also supported court challenges to segregation and to restrictions on voter registration.

Black activists in the North, led by W. E. B. Du Bois, at first supported the Atlanta compromise, but later disagreed and opted to set up the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to work for political change. They tried with limited success to challenge Washington's political machine for leadership in the black community, but built wider networks among white allies in the North. Decades after Washington's death in 1915, the civil rights movement of the 1950s took a more active and progressive approach, which was also based on new grassroots organizations based in the South, such as Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Washington mastered the nuances of the political arena in the late 19th century, which enabled him to manipulate the media, raise money, develop strategy, network, push, reward friends, and distribute funds, while punishing those who opposed his plans for uplifting blacks. His long-term goal was to end the disenfranchisement of the vast majority of African Americans, who then still lived in the South. His legacy has been very controversial to the civil rights community, of which he was an important leader before 1915. After his death, he came under heavy criticism for accommodationism to white supremacy. However, a more balanced view of his very wide range of activities has appeared since the late 20th century. As of 2010, the most recent studies, "defend and celebrate his accomplishments, legacy, and leadership".


In 1856, Washington was born into slavery in Virginia as the son of Jane, an African-American slave. After emancipation, she moved the family to West Virginia to join her husband Washington Ferguson. West Virginia had seceded from Virginia and joined the Union as a free state during the Civil War. As a young man, Booker T. Washington worked his way through Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (a historically black college, now Hampton University) and attended college at Wayland Seminary (now Virginia Union University).

In 1881, the young Washington was named as the first leader of the new Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, founded for the higher education of blacks. He developed the college from the ground up, enlisting students in construction of buildings, from classrooms to dormitories. Work at the college was considered fundamental to students' larger education. They maintained a large farm to be essentially self-supporting, rearing animals and cultivating needed produce. Washington continued to expand the school. He attained national prominence for his Atlanta Address of 1895, which attracted the attention of politicians and the public. He became a popular spokesperson for African-American citizens. He built a nationwide network of supporters in many black communities, with black ministers, educators, and businessmen composing his core supporters. Washington played a dominant role in black politics, winning wide support in the black community of the South and among more liberal whites (especially rich Northern whites). He gained access to top national leaders in politics, philanthropy and education. Washington's efforts included cooperating with white people and enlisting the support of wealthy philanthropists. Washington had asserted that the surest way for blacks to gain equal social rights was to demonstrate "industry, thrift, intelligence and property".

Beginning in 1912, he built a relationship with philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, the owner of Sears Roebuck, who served on the board of trustees for the rest of his life and made substantial donations to Tuskegee. In addition, they collaborated on a pilot program for Tuskegee architects to design six model schools that could be built for African-American students in rural areas of the South. These were historically underfunded by the state and local governments. Given their success in 1913 and 1914, Rosenwald established the Rosenwald Foundation in 1917 to support the schools effort. It expanded improving or providing rural schools by giving matching funds to communities that committed to operate the schools and provided funds for construction and maintenance, with cooperation of white public school boards required. Nearly 5,000 new, small rural schools were built to improve education for blacks throughout the South, most after Washington's death in 1915.

Northern critics called Washington's widespread and powerful organization the "Tuskegee Machine". After 1909, Washington was criticized by the leaders of the new NAACP, especially W. E. B. Du Bois, who demanded a stronger tone of protest in order to advance the civil rights agenda. Washington replied that confrontation would lead to disaster for the outnumbered blacks in society, and that cooperation with supportive whites was the only way to overcome pervasive racism in the long run. At the same time, he secretly funded litigation for civil rights cases, such as challenges to Southern constitutions and laws that had disenfranchised blacks across the South since the turn of the century. African Americans were still strongly affiliated with the Republican Party, and Washington was on close terms with national Republican Party leaders. He was often asked for political advice by presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

In addition to his contributions in education, Washington wrote 14 books; his autobiography, Up from Slavery, first published in 1901, is still widely read today. During a difficult period of transition, he did much to improve the working relationship between the races. His work greatly helped blacks to achieve education, financial power, and understanding of the U.S. legal system. This contributed to blacks' attaining the skills to create and support the civil rights movement, leading to the passage in the later 20th century of important federal civil rights laws.

Early life
Washington early in his career

Booker was born into slavery to Jane, an enslaved African-American woman on the plantation of James Burroughs in southwest Virginia, near Hale's Ford in Franklin County. He never knew the day, month, and year of his birth (although evidence emerged after his death that he was born on April 5, 1856.) Nor did he ever know his father, said to be a white man who resided on a neighboring plantation. The man played no financial or emotional role in Washington's life

From his earliest years, Washington was known simply as "Booker", with no middle or surname, in the practice of the time. His mother, her relatives and his siblings struggled with the demands of slavery. He later wrote:

I cannot recall a single instance during my childhood or early boyhood when our entire family sat down to the table together, and God's blessing was asked, and the family ate a meal in a civilized manner. On the plantation in Virginia, and even later, meals were gotten to the children very much as dumb animals get theirs. It was a piece of bread here and a scrap of meat there. It was a cup of milk at one time and some potatoes at another.

When he was nine, Booker and his family in Virginia gained freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation as US troops occupied their region. Booker was thrilled by the formal day of their emancipation in early 1865:

As the great day drew nearer, there was more singing in the slave quarters than usual. It was bolder, had more ring, and lasted later into the night. Most of the verses of the plantation songs had some reference to freedom... Some man who seemed to be a stranger (a United States officer, I presume) made a little speech and then read a rather long paper—the Emancipation Proclamation, I think. After the reading we were told that we were all free, and could go when and where we pleased. My mother, who was standing by my side, leaned over and kissed her children, while tears of joy ran down her cheeks. She explained to us what it all meant, that this was the day for which she had been so long praying, but fearing that she would never live to see.

After emancipation Jane took her family to the free state of West Virginia to join her husband Washington Ferguson, who had escaped from slavery during the war and settled there. The illiterate boy Booker began to painstakingly teach himself to read and attended school for the first time.

At school, Booker was asked for a surname for registration. He took the family name of Washington, after his stepfather. Still later he learned from his mother that she had originally given him the name "Booker Taliaferro" at the time of his birth, but his second name was not used by the master Upon learning of his original name, Washington immediately readopted it as his own, and became known as Booker Taliaferro Washington for the rest of his life.
Higher education

Washington worked in salt furnaces and coal mines in West Virginia for several years to earn money. He made his way east to Hampton Institute, a school established in Virginia to educate freedmen and their descendants, where he also worked to pay for his studies. He later attended Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C. in 1878.

Tuskegee Institute
The Oaks – Booker T. Washington's house at Tuskegee University
A history class conducted at the Tuskegee Institute in 1902

In 1881, the Hampton Institute president Samuel C. Armstrong recommended Washington, then age 25, to become the first leader of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (later Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University), the new normal school (teachers' college) in Alabama. The new school opened on July 4, 1881, initially using a room donated by Butler Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church.

The next year, Washington purchased a former plantation to be developed as the permanent site of the campus. Under his direction, his students literally built their own school: making bricks, constructing classrooms, barns and outbuildings; and growing their own crops and raising livestock; both for learning and to provide for most of the basic necessities. Both men and women had to learn trades as well as academics. The Tuskegee faculty used all the activities to teach the students basic skills to take back to their mostly rural black communities throughout the South. The main goal was not to produce farmers and tradesmen, but teachers of farming and trades who could teach in the new lower schools and colleges for blacks across the South. The school expanded over the decades, adding programs and departments, to become the present-day Tuskegee University.

The Oaks, "a large comfortable home," was built on campus for Washington and his family. They moved into the house in 1900. Washington lived there until his death in 1915. His widow, Margaret, lived at The Oaks until her death in 1925.

Later career

Washington led Tuskegee for more than 30 years after becoming its leader. As he developed it, adding to both the curriculum and the facilities on the campus, he became a prominent national leader among African Americans, with considerable influence with wealthy white philanthropists and politicians.

Washington expressed his vision for his race through the school. He believed that by providing needed skills to society, African Americans would play their part, leading to acceptance by white Americans. He believed that blacks would eventually gain full participation in society by acting as responsible, reliable American citizens. Shortly after the Spanish–American War, President William McKinley and most of his cabinet visited Booker Washington. By his death in 1915, Tuskegee had grown to encompass more than 100 well-equipped buildings, roughly 1,500 students, 200 faculty members teaching 38 trades and professions, and an endowment of approximately $2 million.

Washington helped develop other schools and colleges. In 1891 he lobbied the West Virginia legislature to locate the newly authorized West Virginia Colored Institute (today West Virginia State University) in the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia near Charleston. He visited the campus often and spoke at its first commencement exercise.

Washington was a dominant figure of the African-American community, then still overwhelmingly based in the South, from 1890 to his death in 1915. His Atlanta Address of 1895 received national attention. He was considered as a popular spokesman for African-American citizens. Representing the last generation of black leaders born into slavery, Washington was generally perceived as a supporter of education for freedmen and their descendants in the post-Reconstruction, Jim Crow-era South. He stressed basic education and training in manual and domestic labor trades because he thought these represented the skills needed in what was still a rural economy.

Throughout the final twenty years of his life, he maintained his standing through a nationwide network of supporters including black educators, ministers, editors, and businessmen, especially those who supported his views on social and educational issues for blacks. He also gained access to top national white leaders in politics, philanthropy and education, raised large sums, was consulted on race issues, and was awarded honorary degrees from Harvard University in 1896 and Dartmouth College in 1901.

Late in his career, Washington was criticized by civil rights leader and NAACP founder W. E. B. Du Bois. Du Bois and his supporters opposed the Atlanta Address as the "Atlanta Compromise", because it suggested that African Americans should work for, and submit to, white political rule. Du Bois insisted on full civil rights, due process of law, and increased political representation for African Americans which, he believed, could only be achieved through activism and higher education for African-Americans. He believed that "the talented Tenth" would lead the race. Du Bois labeled Washington, "the Great Accommodator." Washington responded that confrontation could lead to disaster for the outnumbered blacks, and that cooperation with supportive whites was the only way to overcome racism in the long run.

While promoting moderation, Washington contributed secretly and substantially to mounting legal challenges activist African Americans launched against segregation and disenfranchisement of blacks. In his public role, he believed he could achieve more by skillful accommodation to the social realities of the age of segregation

Washington's work on education helped him enlist both the moral and substantial financial support of many major white philanthropists. He became a friend of such self-made men as Standard Oil magnate Henry Huttleston Rogers; Sears, Roebuck and Company President Julius Rosenwald; and George Eastman, inventor of roll film, founder of Eastman Kodak, and developer of a major part of the photography industry. These individuals and many other wealthy men and women funded his causes, including Hampton and Tuskegee institutes.

He also gave lectures to raise money for the school. On January 23, 1906, he lectured at Carnegie Hall in New York in the Tuskegee Institute Silver Anniversary Lecture. He spoke along with great orators of the day, including Mark TwainJoseph Hodges Choate, and Robert Curtis Ogden; it was the start of a capital campaign to raise $1,800,000 for the school.

The schools which Washington supported were founded primarily to produce teachers, as education was critical for the black community following emancipation. Freedmen strongly supported literacy and education as the keys to their future. When graduates returned to their largely impoverished rural southern communities, they still found few schools and educational resources, as the white-dominated state legislatures consistently underfunded black schools in their segregated system.

To address those needs, in the 20th century Washington enlisted his philanthropic network to create matching funds programs to stimulate construction of numerous rural public schools for black children in the South. Working especially with Julius Rosenwald from Chicago, Washington had Tuskegee architects develop model school designs. The Rosenwald Fund helped support the construction and operation of more than 5,000 schools and related resources for the education of blacks throughout the South in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The local schools were a source of communal pride; African-American families gave labor, land and money to them, to give their children more chances in an environment of poverty and segregation. A major part of Washington's legacy, the model rural schools continued to be constructed into the 1930s, with matching funds for communities from the Rosenwald Fund.

Washington also contributed to the Progressive Era by forming the National Negro Business League. It encouraged entrepreneurship among black businessmen, establishing a national network.

His autobiography, Up from Slavery, first published in 1901, is still widely read in the early 21st century.

Marriages and children
Booker T. Washington with his third wife Margaret and two sons, Ernest, left and Booker T., Jr., right

Washington was married three times. In his autobiography Up from Slavery, he gave all three of his wives credit for their contributions at Tuskegee. His first wife Fannie N. Smith was from Malden, West Virginia, the same Kanawha River Valley town where Washington had lived from age nine to sixteen. He maintained ties there all his life, and Smith was a student of his when he taught in Malden. He helped her gain entrance into the Hampton Institute. Washington and Smith were married in the summer of 1882, a year after he became principal there. They had one child, Portia M. Washington, born in 1883. Fannie died in May 1884.

In 1885 the widower Washington married again, to Olivia A. Davidson (1854–1889). Born free in Virginia to a free woman of color and a father who had been freed from slavery, she moved with her family to the free state of Ohio, where she attended common schools. Davidson later studied at Hampton Institute and went North to study at the Massachusetts State Normal School at Framingham. She taught in Mississippi and Tennessee before going to Tuskegee to work as a teacher. Washington recruited Davidson to Tuskegee, and promoted her to vice-principal. They had two sons, Booker T. Washington Jr. and Ernest Davidson Washington, before she died in 1889.

In 1893 Washington married Margaret James Murray. She was from Mississippi and had graduated from Fisk University, a historically black college. They had no children together, but she helped rear Washington's three children. Murray outlived Washington and died in 1925.
Politics and the Atlanta compromise

The opening of Booker T. Washington's "Atlanta compromise" speech to the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition

Washington circa 1895, by Frances Benjamin Johnston

Washington's 1895 Atlanta Exposition address was viewed as a "revolutionary moment" by both African Americans and whites across the country. At the time W. E. B. Du Bois supported him, but they grew apart as Du Bois sought more action to remedy disfranchisement and improve educational opportunities for blacks. After their falling out, Du Bois and his supporters referred to Washington's speech as the "Atlanta Compromise" to express their criticism that Washington was too accommodating to white interests.

Washington advocated a "go slow" approach to avoid a harsh white backlash. He has been criticized for encouraging many youths in the South to accept sacrifices of potential political power, civil rights, and higher education. Washington believed that African Americans should "concentrate all their energies on industrial education, and accumulation of wealth, and the conciliation of the South". He valued the "industrial" education, as it provided critical skills for the jobs then available to the majority of African Americans at the time, as most lived in the South, which was overwhelmingly rural and agricultural. He thought these skills would lay the foundation for the creation of stability that the African-American community required in order to move forward. He believed that in the long term, "blacks would eventually gain full participation in society by showing themselves to be responsible, reliable American citizens". His approach advocated for an initial step toward equal rights, rather than full equality under the law, gaining economic power to back up black demands for political equality in the future. He believed that such achievements would prove to the deeply prejudiced white America that African Americans were not "'naturally' stupid and incompetent".

Washington giving a speech at Carnegie Hall in New York City, 1909

Well-educated blacks in the North lived in a different society and advocated a different approach, in part due to their perception of wider opportunities. Du Bois wanted blacks to have the same "classical" liberal arts education as upper-class whites did along with voting rights and civic equality. The latter two had been ostensibly granted since 1870 by constitutional amendments after the Civil War. He believed that an elite, which he called the Talented Tenth, would advance to lead the race to a wider variety of occupations. Du Bois and Washington were divided in part by differences in treatment of African Americans in the North versus the South; although both groups suffered discrimination, the mass of blacks in the South were far more constrained by legal segregation and disenfranchisement, which totally excluded most from the political process and system. Many in the North objected to being 'led', and authoritatively spoken for, by a Southern accommodationist strategy which they considered to have been "imposed on them [Southern blacks] primarily by Southern whites".

Historian Clarence Earl Walker wrote that, for white Southerners,

Free black people were 'matter out of place'. Their emancipation was an affront to southern white freedom. Booker T. Washington did not understand that his program was perceived as subversive of a natural order in which black people were to remain forever subordinate or unfree.

Both Washington and Du Bois sought to define the best means post-Civil War to improve the conditions of the African-American community through education.

Blacks were solidly Republican in this period, having gained emancipation and suffrage with President Lincoln and his party. Fellow Republican President Ulysses S. Grant defended African Americans' newly won freedom and civil rights in the South by passing laws and using federal force to suppress the Ku Klux Klan, which had committed violence against blacks for years to suppress voting and discourage education. After Federal troops left in 1877 at the end of the Reconstruction era, many paramilitary groups worked to suppress black voting by violence. From 1890 to 1908 Southern states disenfranchised most blacks and many poor whites through constitutional amendments and statutes that created barriers to voter registration and voting. Such devices as poll taxes and subjective literacy tests sharply reduced the number of blacks in voting rolls. By the late nineteenth century, Southern white Democrats defeated some biracial Populist-Republican coalitions and regained power in the state legislatures of the former Confederacy; they passed laws establishing racial segregation and Jim Crow. In the border states and North, blacks continued to exercise the vote; the well-established Maryland African-American community defeated attempts there to disfranchise them.

Washington worked and socialized with many national white politicians and industry leaders. He developed the ability to persuade wealthy whites, many of them self-made men, to donate money to black causes by appealing to their values. He argued that the surest way for blacks to gain equal social rights was to demonstrate "industry, thrift, intelligence and property". He believed these were key to improved conditions for African Americans in the United States. Because African Americans had recently been emancipated and most lived in a hostile environment, Washington believed they could not expect too much at once. He said, "I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed."

Along with Du Bois, Washington partly organized the "Negro exhibition" at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, where photos of Hampton Institute's black students were displayed. These were taken by his friend Frances Benjamin Johnston. The exhibition demonstrated African Americans' positive contributions to United States' society.

Washington privately contributed substantial funds for legal challenges to segregation and disfranchisement, such as the case of Giles v. Harris, which was heard before the United States Supreme Court in 1903. Even when such challenges were won at the Supreme Court, southern states quickly responded with new laws to accomplish the same ends, for instance, adding "grandfather clauses" that covered whites and not blacks in order to prevent blacks from voting.

Wealthy friends and benefactors
Washington's wealthy friends included Andrew Carnegie and Robert Curtis Ogden, seen here in 1906 while visiting Tuskegee Institute.

State and local governments historically underfunded black schools, although they were ostensibly providing "separate but equal" segregated facilities. White philanthropists strongly supported education financially. Washington encouraged them and directed millions of their money to projects all across the South that Washington thought best reflected his self-help philosophy. Washington associated with the richest and most powerful businessmen and politicians of the era. He was seen as a spokesperson for African Americans and became a conduit for funding educational programs.

His contacts included such diverse and well-known entrepreneurs and philanthropists as Andrew CarnegieWilliam Howard TaftJohn D. RockefellerHenry Huttleston RogersGeorge EastmanJulius RosenwaldRobert Curtis OgdenCollis Potter Huntington, and William Henry Baldwin Jr.. The latter donated large sums of money to agencies such as the Jeanes and Slater Funds. As a result, countless small rural schools were established through Washington's efforts, under programs that continued many years after his death. Along with rich white men, the black communities helped their communities directly by donating time, money, and labor to schools to match the funds required.

A representative case of an exceptional relationship was Washington's friendship with millionaire industrialist and financier Henry H. Rogers (1840–1909). Henry Rogers was a self-made man, who had risen from a modest working-class family to become a principal officer of Standard Oil, and one of the richest men in the United States. Around 1894 Rogers heard Washington speak at Madison Square Garden. The next day he contacted Washington and requested a meeting, during which Washington later recounted that he was told that Rogers "was surprised that no one had 'passed the hat' after the speech".[citation needed] The meeting began a close relationship that extended over a period of 15 years. Although Washington and the very-private Rogers were seen as friends, the true depth and scope of their relationship was not publicly revealed until after Rogers' sudden death of a stroke in May 1909. Washington was a frequent guest at Rogers' New York office, his Fairhaven, Massachusetts summer home, and aboard his steam yacht Kanawha.

A few weeks later Washington went on a previously planned speaking tour along the newly completed Virginian Railway, a $40-million enterprise that had been built almost entirely from Rogers' personal fortune. As Washington rode in the late financier's private railroad car, Dixie, he stopped and made speeches at many locations. His companions later recounted that he had been warmly welcomed by both black and white citizens at each stop.

Washington revealed that Rogers had been quietly funding operations of 65 small country schools for African Americans, and had given substantial sums of money to support Tuskegee and Hampton institutes. He also noted that Rogers had encouraged programs with matching funds requirements so the recipients had a stake in the outcome.

Anna T. Jeanes

In 1907 Philadelphia Quaker Anna T. Jeanes (1822–1907) donated one million dollars to Washington for elementary schools for black children in the South. Her contributions and those of Henry Rogers and others funded schools in many poor communities.

Julius Rosenwald

Julius Rosenwald (1862–1932) was another self-made wealthy man with whom Washington found common ground. By 1908 Rosenwald, son of an immigrant clothier, had become part-owner and president of Sears, Roebuck and Company in Chicago. Rosenwald was a philanthropist who was deeply concerned about the poor state of African-American education, especially in the segregated Southern states, where their schools were underfunded.

In 1912 Rosenwald was asked to serve on the Board of Directors of Tuskegee Institute, a position he held for the remainder of his life. Rosenwald endowed Tuskegee so that Washington could spend less time fundraising and more managing the school. Later in 1912 Rosenwald provided funds to Tuskegee for a pilot program to build six new small schools in rural Alabama. They were designed, constructed and opened in 1913 and 1914, and overseen by Tuskegee architects and staff; the model proved successful.

After Washington died in 1915, Rosenwald established the Rosenwald Fund in 1917, primarily to serve African-American students in rural areas throughout the South. The school building program was one of its largest programs. Using the architectural model plans developed by professors at Tuskegee Institute, the Rosenwald Fund spent over $4 million to help build 4,977 schools, 217 teachers' homes, and 163 shop buildings in 883 counties in 15 states, from Maryland to Texas. The Rosenwald Fund made matching grants, requiring community support, cooperation from the white school boards, and local fundraising. Black communities raised more than $4.7 million to aid the construction and sometimes donated land and labor; essentially they taxed themselves twice to do so. These schools became informally known as Rosenwald Schools. But the philanthropist did not want them to be named for him, as they belonged to their communities. By his death in 1932, these newer facilities could accommodate one third of all African-American children in Southern U.S. schools.

Up from Slavery to the White House
Booker Washington and Theodore Roosevelt at Tuskegee Institute, 1905

Washington's long-term adviser, Timothy Thomas Fortune (1856–1928), was a respected African-American economist and editor of The New York Age, the most widely read newspaper in the black community within the United States. He was the ghost-writer and editor of Washington's first autobiography, The Story of My Life and Work. Washington published five books during his lifetime with the aid of ghost-writers Timothy Fortune, Max Bennett Thrasher and Robert E. Park.

They included compilations of speeches and essays:
The Story of My Life and Work (1900)
The Story of the Negro: The Rise of the Race from Slavery (2 vol 1909)
My Larger Education (1911)
The Man Farthest Down (1912)

In an effort to inspire the "commercial, agricultural, educational, and industrial advancement" of African Americans, Washington founded the National Negro Business League (NNBL) in 1900.

When Washington's second autobiography, Up from Slavery, was published in 1901, it became a bestseller and had a major effect on the African-American community, its friends and allies. In October 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Washington to dine with him and his family at the White House.[58] Although Republican presidents had met privately with black leaders, this was the first highly publicized social occasion when an African American was invited there on equal terms by the president. Democratic Party politicians from the South, including future governor of Mississippi James K. Vardaman and Senator Benjamin Tillman of South Carolina, indulged in racist personal attacks when they learned of the invitation. Both used the derogatory term for African Americans in their statements.

Vardaman described the White House as

so saturated with the odor of the nigger that the rats have taken refuge in the stable, and declared "I am just as much opposed to Booker T. Washington as a voter as I am to the cocoanut-headed, chocolate-colored typical little coon who blacks my shoes every morning. Neither is fit to perform the supreme function of citizenship."

Tillman said, "The action of President Roosevelt in entertaining that nigger will necessitate our killing a thousand niggers in the South before they will learn their place again."

Ladislaus Hengelmüller von Hengervár, the Austro-Hungarian ambassador to the United States, who was visiting the White House on the same day, said he found a rabbit's foot in Washington's coat pocket when he mistakenly put on the coat. The Washington Post described it as "the left hind foot of a graveyard rabbit, killed in the dark of the moon". The Detroit Journal quipped the next day, "The Austrian ambassador may have made off with Booker T. Washington's coat at the White House, but he'd have a bad time trying to fill his shoes."

Booker T. Washington's coffin being carried to grave site.

Despite his extensive travels and widespread work, Washington continued as principal of Tuskegee. Washington's health was deteriorating rapidly in 1915; he collapsed in New York City and was diagnosed by two different doctors as having Bright's disease, related to kidney diseases. Told he only had a few days left to live, Washington expressed a desire to die at Tuskegee. He boarded a train and arrived in Tuskegee shortly after midnight on November 14, 1915. He died a few hours later at the age of 59. His funeral was held on November 17, 1915 in the Tuskegee Institute Chapel and it was attended by nearly 8,000 people. He was buried nearby in the Tuskegee University Campus Cemetery.

At the time he was thought to have died by congestive heart failure, aggravated by overwork. In March 2006, his descendants permitted examination of medical records: these showed he had hypertension, with a blood pressure more than twice normal, confirming what had long been suspected.

At Washington's death, Tuskegee's endowment was close to $2 million. Washington's greatest life's work, the education of blacks in the South, was well underway and expanding.

Honors and memorials

For his contributions to American society, Washington was granted an honorary master's degree from Harvard University in 1896, followed by an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth College.

At the center of Tuskegee University, the Booker T. Washington Monument was dedicated in 1922. Called Lifting the Veil, the monument has an inscription reading:

He lifted the veil of ignorance from his people and pointed the way to progress through education and industry.

In 1934 Robert Russa Moton, Washington's successor as president of Tuskegee University, arranged an air tour for two African-American aviators. Afterward the plane was renamed as the Booker T. Washington.
Booker T. Washington was honored on a Commemorative U.S. Postage stamp, issue of 1940.

On April 7, 1940, Washington became the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp

In 1942, the liberty ship Booker T. Washington was named in his honor, the first major oceangoing vessel to be named after an African American. The ship was christened by noted singer Marian Anderson.

In 1946, he was honored on the first coin to feature an African American, the Booker T. Washington Memorial Half Dollar, which was minted by the United States until 1951.

On April 5, 1956, the hundredth anniversary of Washington's birth, the house where he was born in Franklin County, Virginia, was designated as the Booker T. Washington National Monument.

state park in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was named in his honor, as was a bridge spanning the Hampton River adjacent to his alma materHampton University.

In 1984 Hampton University dedicated a Booker T. Washington Memorial on campus near the historic Emancipation Oak, establishing, in the words of the University, "a relationship between one of America's great educators and social activists, and the symbol of Black achievement in education".

Numerous high schoolsmiddle schools and elementary schools across the United States have been named after Booker T. Washington.

In 2000, West Virginia State University (WVSU; then West Va. State College), in cooperation with other organizations including the Booker T. Washington Association, established the Booker T. Washington Institute, to honor Washington's boyhood home, the old town of Malden, and Washington's ideals.

On October 19, 2009, WVSU dedicated a monument to Booker T. Washington. The event took place at WVSU's Booker T. Washington Park in Malden, West Virginia. The monument also honors the families of African ancestry who lived in Old Malden in the early 20th century and who knew and encouraged Washington. Special guest speakers at the event included West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III, Malden attorney Larry L. Rowe, and the president of WVSU. Musical selections were provided by the WVSU "Marching Swarm".

At the end of the 2008 presidential election, the defeated Republican candidate Senator John McCain recalled the stir caused a century before when President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to the White House. McCain noted the evident progress in the country with the election of Democratic Senator Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States.

Sculpture of Booker T. Washington at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

The historiography on Booker T. Washington has varied dramatically. After his death, he came under heavy criticism in the civil rights community for accommodationism to white supremacy. However, since the late 20th century, a more balanced view of his very wide range of activities has appeared. As of 2010, the most recent studies, "defend and celebrate his accomplishments, legacy, and leadership".

Washington was held in high regard by business-oriented conservatives, both white and black. Historian Eric Foner argues that the freedom movement of the late nineteenth century changed directions so as to align with America's new economic and intellectual framework. Black leaders emphasized economic self-help and individual advancement into the middle class as a more fruitful strategy than political agitation. There was emphasis on education and literacy throughout the period after the Civil War. Washington's famous Atlanta speech of 1895 marked this transition, as it called on blacks to develop their farms, their industrial skills, and their entrepreneurship as the next stage in emerging from slavery.

By this time, Mississippi had passed a new constitution, and other southern states were following suit, or using electoral laws to raise barriers to voter registration; they completed disenfranchisement of blacks at the turn of the 20th century to maintain white supremacy. But at the same time, Washington secretly arranged to fund numerous legal challenges to such voting restrictions and segregation, which he believed was the way they had to be attacked.

Washington repudiated the historic abolitionist emphasis on unceasing agitation for full equality, advising blacks that it was counterproductive to fight segregation at that point. Foner concludes that Washington's strong support in the black community was rooted in its widespread realization that, given their legal and political realities, frontal assaults on white supremacy were impossible, and the best way forward was to concentrate on building up their economic and social structures inside segregated communities. Historian C. Vann Woodward in 1951 wrote of Washington, "The businessman's gospel of free enterprise, competition, and laissez faire never had a more loyal exponent."

Historians since the late 20th century have been divided in their characterization of Washington: some describe him as a visionary capable of "read[ing] minds with the skill of a master psychologist," who expertly played the political game in 19th-century Washington by its own rules. Others say he was a self-serving, crafty narcissist who threatened and punished those in the way of his personal interests, traveled with an entourage, and spent much time fundraising, signing autographs, and giving flowery patriotic speeches with much flag waving — acts more indicative of an artful political boss than an altruistic civil rights leader.

People called Washington the "Wizard of Tuskegee" because of his highly developed political skills, and his creation of a nationwide political machine based on the black middle class, white philanthropy, and Republican Party support. Opponents called this network the "Tuskegee Machine". Washington maintained control because of his ability to gain support of numerous groups, including influential whites and black business, educational and religious communities nationwide. He advised on the use of financial donations from philanthropists, and avoided antagonizing white Southerners with his accommodation to the political realities of the age of Jim Crow segregation.

The Tuskegee machine collapsed rapidly after Washington's death. He was the charismatic leader who held it all together, with the aid of Emmett Jay Scott. But the trustees replaced Scott, and the elaborate system fell apart. Critics in the 1920s to 1960s, especially those connected with the NAACP, ridiculed Tuskegee as a producer of a class of submissive black laborers. Since the late 20th century historians have given much more favorable view, emphasizing the school's illustrious faculty and the progressive black movements, institutions and leaders in education, politics, architecture, medicine and other professions it produced who worked hard in communities across the United States, and indeed worldwide across the African Diaspora. Deborah Morowski points out that Tuskegee's curriculum served to help students achieve a sense of personal and collective efficacy. She concludes:The social studies curriculum provided an opportunity for the uplift of African Americans at time when these opportunities were few and far between for black youth. The curriculum provided inspiration for African Americans to advance their standing in society, to change the view of southern whites toward the value of blacks, and ultimately, to advance racial equality, At a time when most Blacks were poor farmers in the South, and were ignored by the national Black leadership, Washington's Tuskegee made their needs a high priority. They lobbied for government funds, and especially from philanthropies that enabled the Institute to provide model farming techniques, advanced training, and organizational skills. These included Annual Negro Conferences, the Tuskegee Experiment Station, the Agricultural Short Course, the Farmers' Institutes, the Farmers' County Fairs, the Movable School, and numerous pamphlets and feature stories sent free to the South's black newspapers.

Washington took the lead in promoting educational uplift for the African Diaspora, often with funding from the Phelps Stokes Fund or in collaboration with foreign sources, such as the German government.


Washington's first daughter by Fannie, Portia Marshall Washington (1883–1978), was a trained pianist who married Tuskegee educator and architect William Sidney Pittman in 1900. They had three children. Pittman faced several difficulties in trying to build his practice while his wife built her musical profession. After he assaulted their daughter Fannie in the midst of an argument, Portia took Fannie and left Pittman.

She resettled at Tuskegee. She was removed from the faculty in 1939 because she did not have an academic degree, but she opened her own piano teaching practice for a few years. After retiring in 1944 at the age of 61, she dedicated her efforts in the 1940s to memorializing her father. She succeeded in getting her father's bust placed in the Hall of Fame in New York, a 50-cent coin minted with his image, and his Virginia birthplace being declared a National MonumentPortia Washington Pittman died on February 26, 1978, in Washington, D.C.

Booker Jr. (1887–1945) married Nettie Blair Hancock (1887–1972). Their daughter, Nettie Hancock Washington (1917–1982), became a teacher and taught at a high school in Washington, D.C. for twenty years. She married physician Frederick Douglass III (1913–1942), a great-grandson of Frederick Douglass, the famed abolitionist and orator. Nettie and Frederick's daughter, Nettie Washington Douglass, and her son, Kenneth Morris, co-founded the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, an anti-sex trafficking organization.

Representation in other media

Washington and his family's visit to the White House was dramatized as the subject of an opera, A Guest of Honor, by Scott Joplin, noted African-American composer. It was first produced in 1903.
E. L. Doctorow's 1975 novel Ragtime features a fictional version of Washington trying to negotiate the surrender of an African-American musician who is threatening to blow up the Pierpont Morgan Library. The role was played by Moses Gunn in the 1981 film adaptation.[citation needed]
Washington was portrayed by Roger Guenveur Smith in the 2020 Netflix miniseries Self Made, based on the life of Madame C. J. Walker.


Up from Slavery – 1901
Tuskegee & Its People (editor) – 1905

B. D. Khobragade
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

B. D. Khobragade
Khobragade 2009 stamp of India

In office
17 December 1969 – 2 April 1972
Preceded by Violet Alva
Succeeded by Godey Murahari
In office
3 April 1958 – 2 April 1984
Personal details
Born 25 September 1925
Died 23 April 1984 (aged 58)
Political party • Republican Party of India

Social activist

Bhaurao Dewaji Khobragade (25 September 1925 – 9 April 1984), commonly known as Rajabhau Khobragade, was an Indian barristerAmbedkarite social activist and politician. He was a member of the Rajya Sabha of the Parliament of India at various times from 1958 to 1984. He was Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha from 1969 to 1972. Khobragade was an Ambedkarite and leader of Republican Party of India (RPI). He hails fom Mahar (Scheduled Caste) community and, in 1956 he got converted into Buddhism along with B. R. Ambedkar, the father of the Indian Constitution.

Khobragade had his early education at Jubilee High School, Chandrapur. He then went on to clear the Inter Science exam from Nagpur Science College in 1943 and B.A. exam from Morris College, Nagpur in 1945. On the advice of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, he went to London to study [law] in 1950. He was one of the 16 students Dr. Ambedkar sent to London to study but was an exception as he went to London bearing his own expenses and the rest were scholarship students.

The Republican Party of India (Khobragade) is a political party in India, a splinter group of the Republican Party of India and named for its leader, B. D. Khobragade.


Indian Post issued a stamp dedicated to Khobragade in 2009.

Bāhila was an Arab tribe based in Najd (central Arabia). Part of the tribe was settled and part of it was semi-nomadic. The Bahila was first mentioned during the early years of Islam, in the mid-7th century. During that time, many Bahila tribesmen migrated to Syria and Basra. Many of those who went to Syria later moved to Khurasan as part of the Umayyad garrison there. As a sub-tribe of Qays, they fought alongside the Qaysi coalition against the Yamani tribes during the Umayyad era. The scholar al-Asma'i and the general Qutayba ibn Muslim both belonged to the tribe. The Bahila were last mentioned in the 10th century.


According to W. Caskel, the genealogy of the Bahila "is somewhat complicated". The namesake of the tribe, Bahila, was a wife of Malik ibn A'sur ibn Sa'd ibn Qays, and after the latter's death, was married to Malik's brother Ma'n. Bahila mothered one son from Malik and two sons from Ma'n, and was also the foster mother of ten other sons of Ma'n (the foster sons came from two other mothers). Caskel describes this genealogy as a series of "artifices", which were familiar to the Arab genealogists, though the "accumulation" of such artifices with the origins of the Bahila was "remarkable". Among the sons of Bahila who later fathered large clans were Qutayba, Wa'il, Ji'awa and Awd. The Qutayba and Wa'il were the largest sub-tribes of the Bahila and both were engaged in a rivalry for supremacy over the Bahila.

Map of Bata'ih region (in orange) of the lower Euphrates

The Bahila's original homeland was called Sūd Bāhila or Sawād Bāhila. It was situated in the Najd (central Arabia). The tribe's settlements, including al-Quway', Idhnayn Shammal, Hufayra and Juzayla, were located on either side of the route between Mecca and the area corresponding with modern-day Riyadh. The Ji'awa clan of Bahila lived further west at the foot of the al-Jidd mountains. They were the northern neighbors of the Banu Ghani, another tribe that descended from A'sur ibn Sa'd ibn Qays. The Bahila were partly settled and partly semi-nomadic. They lived under the protection of the Banu Kilab and Banu Ka'b, sub-tribes of the Banu 'Amir. There is scant reference to the Bahila in the pre-Islamic period. Among these references were the slaying of a warrior from the tribe named al-Muntashir, and a battle involving the tribe. Both episodes occurred shortly before the emergence of Islam in Arabia in the 610s.

According to Caskel, "The history of the [Bahila] tribe becomes clear for the first time under Islam." In the 630s, part of the Bahila migrated from Arabia to Syria and to the vicinity of Basra.They formed part of the early Muslim army, and Bahila tribesmen from Syria were part of the Arab garrison in Khurasan. As members of the Qays, the Bahila took part in the revenge-driven battles between the Qays and Yaman coalitions in the years following the rout of the Qays at the Battle of Marj Rahit in 684. A second major exodus of Bahila tribesmen from Arabia occurred in the early to mid-9th century. Around that time, the Bahila's Arabian territories were largely overrun by the Banu Numayr, a sub-tribe of the Banu 'Amir. The Bahila migrants entered the lower Euphrates region, first in the vicinity of al-Hufayr near Basra and from there into the sandy al-Taff tract on the southern border of the Bata'ih marshes. After 837, these Bahila tribesmen settled in the Bata'ih itself, where in 871 they were attacked by Abbasid troops on their way to suppress the Zanj Rebellion. Consequently, the Bahila allied with the Zanj. Afterward nothing is heard of the Bahila.


Caskel writes that the "Bahila developed an abundance of talents of all kinds". A companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, Abu Umamah, hailed from the tribe. Two brothers from the tribe, Salman ibn Rabi'ah and Abd al-Rahman ibn Rabi'ah, both served as generals under caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar in the 630s–640s. In the early 8th century, a member of the Bahila, Qutayba ibn Muslim, was appointed the Umayyad governor of Khurasan and was a key general in the Muslim conquest of Transoxiana. The tribe also produced al-Asma'i, the well-known philologist.
Bhagya Reddy Varma

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bhagya Reddy Varma
Born 22 May 1888

Died 18 February 1939 (aged 50)

Occupation Educational Activist
Social Reformer
Modern Thinker
Deccan Revolution Leader
Spouse(s) Madare Ragmamba

Bhagya Reddy Varma (22 May 1888 – 18 Feb 1939) was an Indian political leader, social reformer and activist. He fought against untouchability in Hyderabad State. He also fought for abolition of Jogini and Devdasi systems.

Early life

Reddy was born in Mala caste to Madari Venkaiah and Julia Ragmamba in the Princely State of Hyderabad.


Inspired by Jyotirao Phule, he raised his voice against discrimination by upper castes. Eventually, he also established the Adi Hindu ("Original Hindu"), a social organisation, to bring awareness in the dalits. He formed a group called Jagan Mitra Mandali in 1906, which involved Dalits and Malas, and started telling stories by 'Hari Katha' (popular folklore). In year 1910, he started to educate dalit children from his own expense and in a short span of time he able to run 25 centres with 2000 students.

1911 Adi Hindu social services started
1912 promoted Buddhism

In 1917, in a conference at Vijayawada town, 'Pratam Andhra - Adi Hindu' meeting was held. In same year, Bhagya Reddy Verma's speech attracted much to M.K Gandhi's attention at 'Akhila Bharata Hindu' Round Table Conference in Calcutta. In 1919 a meeting held with Jangamulu, Dasulu, Mulnavasi, for the Adi Hindu beneficial program. The purpose of this event was to resolve the internal issues in the Dalit community, he even insisted the panchayat court system to be rebuilt. The first Adi Hindu conference was held in 1921 in Hyderabad led by T.J.Papanna.

In 1925, in a conference led by N.M.R. Mukund Reddy has been officially allotted to him as chief head who led this meeting to successfully. In same year, the Adi Hindu Hand Skills Exhibition was held to showcase the Dalits skills. Bhagya Reddy also campaigned on many social issues, e.g - Child Marriage, Black Magic, Women Education, Alcohol prohibition etc. His work was spread to neighboring states Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra, from their some well known people joined and followed the revolution.

In 1930 in an historical speech he announced to take the dalit issues to the British notice in the upcoming All India Round Table Conference at Lucknow in the same year. He supposes to send Dr.B.R Ambedkar to lead the group. The agenda was to recognize the Dalits as Adi Hindu rather than untouchables, Mala or Madiga.

In 1931, the Nizam government has come forward to agree the demands of Reddy, and registered the dalits as Adi Hindus in the general elections. Nizam Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII praised Reddy for his social work, and recognised it with an award. Later, the Nizam appointed Varma as the chief adviser to his government. Adi Hindu Bhavan at Chadarghat, Hyderabad been the platform for many revolutionary meetings. It is said that he has given nearly 3,348 speeches.

Bhagya Memorial Girls High School at Esamia Bazar, Koti, Hyderabad, Telangana, which he started in 1913 is still functioning.

Devadasi Movement

Reddy had launched a movement against devadasi pratha, forcing the Nizam to declare it a crime.

During the Telangana Movement in 2017, the students of Telangana region renamed the G. M. C. Balayogi Athletic Stadium at Gachibowli as Bhagya Reddy Varma Stadium.


Arya Samaj in 1913 organised a function to honour him with the title Varma.

Bhagwan Das

Round Table India - In Conversation With Mr Bhagwan Das
A Legendry Ambedkarite

By S.R.Darapuri

Mr. Bhagwan Das was born in an Untouchable family at Jutogh Cantonment, Simla (Himachal Pradesh), India on 23 April 1927. He served in the Royal Indian Air Force during World War II and after demobilisation served in different capacities in various departments of Government of India at Saharanpur, Simla and Delhi. He did M.A. in History (Punjab University) and LL.B from Delhi University. He did research on the ‘Indianisation of the Audit Department from 1840-1915'. He has been contributing articles and short stories to various papers and journals published in India.

His father Mr. Ram Ditta was fond of reading newspapers and a great admirer of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Inspired and encouraged by his father, Mr. Das worked with Mr. T. R. Baidwan of Simla who was the most prominent leader of the Untouchables in Simla Hills, and joined the Scheduled Castes Federation at the tender age of 16. Since then he has been actively associated with the Ambedkarin movement and has done a great deal to promote the ideas of Babasaheb Ambedkar and to unite and uplift the downtrodden not only of India but also of other countries of Asia. Mr. Das is associated with many organisations of lawyers, Buddhists, Scheduled Castes and Minorities in India. He was General Secretary, United Lawyers Association, Supreme Court, New Delhi; General Secretary, Bouddh Upasak Sangh, New Delhi; Founder Chairman, Ambedkar Mission Society which has branches in many parts of the world; Revived Samata Sainik Dal (Vounteers for Equality) founded by Dr. Ambedkar in 1926-27; Regional Secretary (North). Indian Buddhist Council; Founder, Society for the Protection of Non-Smokers; Founder President of Society for Promoting Buddhist Knowledge; edited Samata Sainik Sandesh (English) 1980-1990.He was also the main person behind publication of “Bheem Patrika” an Urdu and the Hindi magazine published from Jullundar (Punjab).

His mother tongue is Urdu. He learnt English from class 7 th . His command over English and his British accent compelled many to label him as a “Black English Man.” He is Adib Fazel in Persian. He can speak and write in Hindi and Punjabi. Just like Dr. Ambedkar he was not allowed to read Hindi and he had to take up Persian at school. His knowledge about Dr. Ambedkar, Buddhism, Hindu Castes, Religion and many more subjects is so vast and thorough that he is often marked as a “Moving Encyclopaedia.” He is very modest and simple which made Bhadant Anand Kaushlayan to remark, “You are so humble.”

He was married to Ramabai (Lucknow) on 9 February, 1957 through the mediation of Shiv Dayal Singh Chaurasia who was a member of the Parliament. He has one son Rahul and two daughters Zoya and Shura. He became a Buddhist in 1957. His devotion to Ambedkarian movement is very high and he is known as a True Ambedkarite.

He remained in close contact with Dr. Ambedkar at Delhi from 1942 till his death. He also adopted Buddhism in 1956 when Dr, Ambedkar launched his Buddhist Conversion Movement on 14 th October, 1956. He has written his autobiography which has been published as “In the Pursuit of Ambedkar” in English and :”Baba ke Charnon me”in Hindi. A documentary film on his life has also been prepared by S. Anand of Navyana.

Mr. Das has been associated with the ‘Peace Movement' since the end of World War II, in which he served on the Eastern Front with the Royal Air Force (RAF) under South East Asia Command. He is one of the founder members of the World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP) (India) and has participated in the Conferences held in Kyoto, Japan, 1970; Princeton USA (1979); Seoul, Korea (1986); Nairobi. Kenya (1984) and Melbourne Australia (1989). He was appointed Director, Asian Centre for Human Rights (Asian Conference on Religion and Peace) in 1980 and continued to serve in this capacity till 2004 monitoring the news of violation of human rights in Asian countries and organising camps for training of human ‘ rights workers, speaking and writing for the cause.

Mr. Das was invited to deliver a lecture on ‘Discrimination by the Peace University, Tokyo (1980) and also addressed several meetings organised by the Burakuminsof Japan. He gave testimony before the United Nations in regard to the plight o Untouchables in South Asia, in the meeting of Sub-Committee on Human Rights held at Geneva, Switzerland in August, 1983. He visited England in 1975, 1983, 1988, 1990 and 1991 in connection with lectures and seminars. He participated in the seminar held in ‘Hull University in 1990 as a representative of the Ambedkar Centenary Celebration Committee, UK and also a seminar on Human Rights in India held at London University, School of Asian and Oriental Studies in February 1991.

He was invited to deliver Ambedkar Memorial Lectures in Milind Mahavidyalya, Aurangahad (1970); Marathwada University (1983); Nagpur University, PWS College, Nagpur; Ambedkar College, Chanderpur and Amrraoti University in 1990.

Mr. Das also visited Nepal (1980 and 1990); Pakistan (1989); Thailand (1988); Singapore (1989) and Canada (1979) to study the problems f deprived and disadvantaged members of society, women and children. Delivered lectures in Wisconsin University (USA) 1979 and North- field College (USA) on Caste in contemporary India. He was invited to give lectures on Dr Ambedkar at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Moscow in June, 1990.

Mr. Das practices law in the Supreme Court of India. With a view to improve the professional competence of and helping upcoming advocates belonging to Untouchable and indigenous groups he founded Ambedkar Mission Lawyers Association and Legal Aid Society in 1989. He was General Secretary of ‘Professions for People', an organisation founded in Delhi to elevate professional standards.

Mr. Das was invited to preside at the Dalit and Buddhist Writers Conference held at Akola in 1989 and is closely associated with various organisations of Dalit Writers.

Mr. Das has written more than five hundred articles, papers for seminars, short stories for various newspapers and journals. His papers on ‘Revival of Buddhism'; ‘Some problems of minorities in India'; ‘Reservation in Public Services' have been published in Social Action brought out by Indian Social Institute, New Delhi and Delhi University Buddhist Department. He has written many papers on Reservation and Representative Bureaucracy, Discrimination against the Dalits in Public Services and Minorities etc. His short stories were published in Sarita (Urdu), Naya zamana (Urdu), Milap (Urdu, Bheem Patrika (Urdu and Hindi). He has edited “Slavery and Untouchability'9incomplete book written by Baba Saheb Ambedkar). He also edited “Untouchable Soldiers- Mazhbi and Mahar” written M.A. Thesis by Ardith Basham, an American Scholar. He has also written about Dalit politics under the title “Dalit Rajniti aur Sanghathan.”(Dalit Politics and Organisations)

He was a member for the ‘Committee for evolving new strategies for the development of Scheduled Castes and Tribes - VIII Plan' set up by the Government of India and also a member of Ambedkar Centenary Committee of the Government of India. Mr. Das has written many books in Urdu, English and Hindi on Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar; Untouchables; Scavengers and Sweepers; Human Rightsl Discrimination etc. Prominent among them are Thus Spoke Ambedkar (Vol I to IV Ed) a pioneer work; Ambedkar on Gandhi and Gandhism (Ed); Ambedkar Ek Parichey Ek Sandesh (Hindi); Main Bhangi hoon(Hindi), the story of an Indian sweeper told in the first- person (this book has been translated into Punjabi, Kannada and Marathi and German); Valmiki aur Bhangi Jatian (Hindi); Valmiki (Hindi); Dhobi (Hindi), Revival of Buddhism in India and Role of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar; Dr. Ambedkae Ek Parichay Ek Sandesh; Dr. Ambedkar aur Bhangi Jatiya and Bharat me Bauddh Dhamm ka punrjagran tatha samasyayen. He has translated into Urdu former President of the USA Lyndon Johnson's book ‘My. Hope for America'; Dr Ambedkar's ‘Ranade, Gandhi and Jinnah'in to Urdu; besides editing Bhadant Anand Kaushalyayan's ‘Gita ki Buddhivadi Samiksha.'

Other books in hand are “Reservation and Representative Bureaucracy in India”; “Untouchables in the Indian Army (Mahar, Mazhbi, Chuhra, Pariahs, Mangs, Dhanuks, Dusadhs, Chamars, Kolis, Bheels)”; “Mandal Commission and the Future of Backward Classes”; “Twenty-Two Oaths of Buddhism and Conversion”; “Balmiki; Ravidassis and Balmikis of Northern India”; “Buddhism and Marxism” and “Ambedkar as a Religious Leader.”

Mr. Das has toured almost the whole of India to study the problems of Hindu-Muslim riots, religious conflicts, atrocities committed on the Untouchables and tribal people, with the group ‘Threat to Diversity', ‘Swaraj Mukti Morcha and as Chairman, Samata Sainik Dal.” He is also the founder President of “Dalit Solidarity People”, an organisation aiming at uniting Hindu Dalits, Dalit Christians, Sikh Dalits, Muslim Dalits and Burakumins of Japan and Korea. Like Marx his slogan was “Dalits of the World Unite.”

Mr Bhagwan Das has been a storehouse of insight and information, his residence at Delhi has been a mandatory stopover for many renowned scholars like Eleanor Zelliot, Mark Juergensmeyer,Owen lynch, Marc Gallanter, RK Kshirsagar, Sukhadeo Thorat down to younger scholars like Vijay Prashad,Nicolas Jaoul and Maren Bellwinkel-Schempp.

We were expecting much more from Mr. Bhagwan Das but he suddenly left us on 18.11.2010. We can pay a true homage to him only by following in his footsteps.

S.R.Darapuri I.P.S.(Retd)


Anti-caste struggle by Basaveshwara

One of the first historical anti-caste movements in Karnataka was initiated by Basaveshwara in 12th century A.D. It is also popularly known as the Veerasaiva movement. According to Kancha Illaih the movement led by Basaveshwara entirely changed the philosophical discourse. Caste system and untouchability were the two institutions that the Veerashaiva movement tried to dismantle. Patriarchy, caste and the brahmanic religion as an intertwined system of domination and subjugation was examined closely, and methodically dismissed and replaced with a just system. Led by Basavanna, a new social order based on equality between genders and castes, in both words and deeds was being established. Anubhava Manatapa at Kalyan, played host to the intellectual, spiritual and metaphysical dialectics between diverse people drawn to this radical movement. For a period like that wherein caste system and untouchability were intrinsic Basaveshwara’s movement can be viewed as one of the radical anti-caste movements in the history of Karnataka. The movement not only focussed on caste but also on gender. Basavanna strongly criticised caste system and untouchability. In order to disassociate from his caste he refrained from wearing the sacred thread which is a symbol of caste superiority. The egalitarian principles propagated by him primarily attracted untouchable communities. Many of them belonged to the backward communities like barbers, Sudras who were particularly kept out from the ritualistic discourse by the Brahmins. Like Buddhism the movement was against Brahminism. The philosophy of Basavanna questioned the authority of the priestly castes. The Vachanas (poems) composed during this period raised many questions regarding caste, untouchability, Brahminism etc. Unlike Sanskrit that was unfamiliar to large number of people, Vachanas were composed in comprehensible Kannada. The composition of Vachanas is an epoch in Kannada literature. The Vachanas composed incorporated various aspects of society. Many of the Vachanas strongly condemned caste and untouchability. Through Vacahanas he emphasised the significance the equality and human dignity particularly for those from the downtrodden sections. The Vachanas disapproved the insincerity and hypocrisy of the Brahmins. For instance in one of his Vachanas he says that “if I say I am a Brahmin, Lord Kudala Sangamadeva laughs aloud” Though the movement is mentioned has Veerashaiva movement, it is important to note that Basavanna did not attempt to create a separate caste, instead it was the ‘linga deeksha’ (offering Linga) that was provided to untouchables as a way to include them in the ‘Anubhava Mantapa’ (The hall of spiritual experience.)’ Anubhava Mantapa was a democratic platform created for social discussions and progressive activities. Basavanna recognised the fundamental problem behind the existence of caste and untouchability. The Anubhava Mantapa was a collective attempt that included notable individuals like Akkamahadevi, Allama Prabhu and saints like Channiah and Kakkaih from the untouchable caste. One of the radical steps taken by Basavanna was that he organised an inter-caste marriage between an untouchable groom and a Brahmin bride. In the history of social reform movement the inter-caste marriage organised by Basavanna remains as a remarkable achievement. The adversity against the movement was too hostile that it resulted in political chaos in the Kingdom of Kalayan. The movement led by Basavanna remains subsided in the mainstream social reform movement. However, it is one the commendable movement that revolutionized the twelfth century social order. One can equate the Vachana movement to the Bhakti movement in fact consider it as the very first Bhakti movement of Karnataka, due to its association with the spiritual sphere and it contribution to the literature. However, this particular movement stands different in comparison to the other Bhakti movements. The time period of the movement was such that the very attempt to initiate such a moment was remarkable. The impact of the movement on the society was not alone social but also political. He advocated a political philosophy of representation of the voiceless. At present the followers of Basavanna claim themselves to be Lingayats and form one of the dominant castes in Karnataka. With time, the movement initiated by Basavanna has diverted from its original purpose, the main idea of anti-caste and anti-Brahminism has vanished. Nevertheless it continues to be the foundation of the social reform movements in South India. Basavannas teachings remain as one of the progressive thoughts in the history of reform movements.

- A visionary of total revolution

*Dr. Basavaraj Sadar

It is evident that the seeds of modern concepts of ‘sarvodaya’ and ‘total revolution’ were sowed in Karnataka, during twelfth century itself by the great revolutionary-Basaveshwara. His practical approach and act of establishment of ‘Kalyana Rajya’ (Welfare state) brought a new status and position for all the citizens of the society, irrespective of class, caste creed and sex. Thus the main aim of Vachana (poetry) movement, led by Basaveshwara was welfare of all. He proclaimed this as- “Sakala jeevatmarige lesu”(welfare of all).

Being a born progressive activist, Basaveshwara revolted against all the social evils of the traditionalistic society and brought a drastic change in various facets. We often talk about the human rights in this twenty-first century, but these human rights were being enjoyed by Sharanas (Citizens of welfare society) during 12th century itself, because of the Socialistic and Democratic approach of Basavanna .

Basaveshwara was born in Bagevadi ( of undivided Bijapur district in Karnataka) during 1131 AD. His father was Madarasa and Madalambike was his mother. They belonged to Brahmin community. As a religious tradition, he was initiated with the holy thread ‘janivara’ in Upanayana, (thread ceremony) at the early age of eight years. Basavanna revolted against this tradition, cut threw his janivara, left home and went to Kudalasangama from where he was educated in all respects.

In the later stage, he went to Kalyana, where the Kalchuri king Bijjala (1157-1167, AD) was ruling. Because of his highly intellectual personality, he was appointed as a karanika (Accountant) in the initial stage, in the court of king Bijjala and later he became the Prime minister of Bijjala after proving his administrative ability.

At this stage, Basaveshwara looked around the socio-economic status of the then society, where most of the static, superstitious and anti-social elements were ruling. There was much gap between haves and have- nots and rich people were harassing the poor. Untouchability was rampant and sex discrimination made the lives of women very pathetic. Basavanna revolted against all these evils and he himself started practicing the socialistic norms to bring about drastic change in the society. Hence, he became the guiding path to others in bringing the change. He scripted his practical experiences in a novel form of literature called –Vachana (poetry). This innovative literary form is the main contribution of “Sharanas” through which they expressed their revolutionary and reformist ideology in a very simple Kannada language.

First of all Basavanna tried to change the concept of Temple which was the main centre of various types of harassments. Priests and rich people were exploiting the common folk in the name of God and temple. Thus he tried to convince the society about the real god and temple, which are within and with us only. In one of his vachana he says-

Rich build temples for shiva

What can I a poor man do?

My legs are the pillars

My body is temple

My head makes the golden cupola

Oh, Lord kudala sangama

The standing will perish

The moving will stay on.

By saying so, Basaveshwara gave two important and innovative concepts called “ Sthavara ’’and “Jangama’’, the meaning of which is “Static’’ and ‘’Dynamic’’- respectively. Both of these concepts are the main foundation stones of the revolutionary ideology of Basavanna. By ridiculing the physical structure of temple and God; which are perishable, Basavanna gave a new dimension to the human body and soul (inner spirit), by which the self respect of all human beings was boosted.

The firm and final goal of Basavanna was to establish a democratic set up of society. Hence he fought against all types of inequalities which were existing in the rigid society at that time. He raised his voice against untouchability, which was in practice since ages. He not only mingled and mixed with untouchables but also ate food with them at their homes. This gave a new courage to the downtrodden community to come forward along with others. Likewise Basavanna brought the women folk to the forefront of the society and gave them courage to sit along with men and to express their inner feelings along with pains. Anubhavamantapa, which was established by him was a common forum for all, including downtrodden, untouchables and women to discuss about the prevailing problems of socio, economic and political strata including religious and spiritual principles along with personal problems. Hence it was an open platform for all those activists who involved themselves in bringing a radical change in the contemporary society. Thus Anubhavamantapa was the first and foremost Parliament of India, where Sharanas sat together and discussed about the socialistic principles of a Democratic set up. All those discussions of Sharanas were written in the form of Vachanas and they form a dynamic type of constitution where Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are the prominent principles which are aiming towards social justice and progress.

Basaveshwara gave two more very important socio-economic principles. They are- “Kayaka” (Work-Divine work) and “Dasoha” (Distrubution-Equal distribution). According to this, every individual of the society should take up the job of his choice and perform it with all sincerity. There is no discrimination in vocations. All members of the society are labourers (Kayakajeevigalu). Some may be intellectual labourers and others may be manual labourers. Even the Guru and Jangama, who were treated as the superiors of the society also, must work. Kayaka is not mere a work, but it is the way of realising God. It teaches the concept of dignity of labour. Ultimately the Work is worship. Even the Kayaka is equated with kailasa- The Heaven. This concept gave a new movement and people of all walks of the society started loving their work and involved them self in society building task without any feeling of class, caste and sex discrimination.

Kayaka must be followed by an accurate income. The income should not be more or less. There must be an equal income for equal work. The worker (Kayakajeevi) may lead his day-today life by his hard earned income. But he should not preserve the money or property for tomorrow. He must utilise the surplus money for the society and poors. This concept is called –“Dasoha”. Thus by advocating this principle, Basaveshwara gave the concept of equal distribution of wealth to the society. Hence, Kayaka and Dasoha are the major dynamic policies, which were given by Basavanna to the field of economics.

His contribution to the judiciary is also noteworthy. All the social and democratic principles of Basavanna are based on the legal provisions of the Sharana constitution. For an example we may see one of his vachana-

Do not steel, do not kill, and do not utter lies

Do not lose your temper, do not detest others

Do not glorify yourself, do not blame others

This alone is purity within

This alone is purity without

And this alone is the way to please our lord


This vachana of Basavanna, which has been written in 12th century itself, is highlighting the principles of Indian penal code of our present constitution.

Basaveshwara fought against all the evils of the society which were coming in the way of progress. His aim was to give a movement to the stagnated society. Hence he involved the people of all walks of the society in his movement, including women. His intention was to bring a total change in the static world. This clearly indicates that he was a visionary of a total revolution.

There are many preachers, revolutionaries, reformists, socialists, political thinkers, economists, humanists and so on in this world. But Basaveshwra was one combination of all these. Hence he is regarded as one of the greatest human being of the entire world. Mahatma Gandhi says- “It has not been possible for me to practice principles of Basaveshwara which he taught 800 years ago and which he also practiced. I have adopted few of them; I am yet to a seeker in this aspect and not an accomplished one. Eradication of untouchability & dignity of labour were among his core concepts one does not find even shade of castism in him. Had he lived during our times, he would have been a saint worthy of worship. If his followers practice his precepts you could uplift not just Bharat but the world.” -Yes, Basaveshwara was a universal human being, with the vision of Vishvodaya.

*Dr. Basavaraj Sadar is a Retd. Station Director of AIR, Bangaluru. The views expressed are personal.

Bhikaji Sambhaji Gaikwad
– Martyr of the Mahad Satyagraha

On March 20, 1927, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar led the Mahad satyagraha – for drinking water from the Cavdar tank at Mahad. It can be said that Mahad Satyagraha was the beginning of the political as well as social career of Dr Ambedkar

Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar in his book ‘Essays on Untouchables and Untouchability’, Chapter 2, titled – ‘The Revolt of the Untouchables notes, the procession in form of fours marched past and went to the Chawdar tank, and the Untouchables for the first time drank the water. Soon the Hindus, realising what had happened, went into the frenzy and committed all sorts of atrocities upon the Untouchables who had dared to pollute the water.

If there was no violence from so-called upper castes during Mahad Satyagraha, some say, the event would have been forgotten within a few days. So-called upper castes started vandalising the Dalits’ properties and started beating those who were participating in the Mahad Satyagraha. Stones were thrown by so-called upper castes on Dr Ambedkar and his close associates also. Many Dalits were injured during the Mahad Satyagraha, one among them was Bhikaji Sambhaji Gaikwad.

Bhikaji Sambhaji Gaikwad was the son of Sambhaji Tukaram Gaikwad alias Dadasaheb Gaikwad. Sambhaji Tukaram Gaikwad played a vital role in organising Mahad Satyagraha and was chairman of the reception committee at Mahad.

Bhikaji Sambhaji Gaikwad got inspired from his father and he led the youth organisation. He was the first president of the Bahishkrit Aikya Sanwardhak Mahar Samajseva Sangh, which was formed 10th August 1926. Bhikaji was a bold organiser in his own style and had a personality that could inspire others. He travelled to villages and cities to get support for Mahad Satyagraha and also recorded pitiable situation of Dalits in the various places. He toured Kokan, visiting Ratnagiri, Chiplun, Kolaba, Thane and Mumbai so tell people about the Mahad Satyagraha and raise support for the important event.

When so-called upper castes attacked Dalits participating in the Mahad Satyagraha, after Dalits had touched the water, Bhikaji Sambhaji Gaikwad was in the forefront to protect others. In this violence, Bhikaji Sambhaji Gaikwad suffered serious injuries to his head. But undaunted, he continued to conduct organisational work under the auspices of the Bahishkrit Aikya Sanwardhak Mahar Samajseva Sangh.

Gail Omvedt in her book ‘Building the Ambedkar Revolution: Sambhaji Tukaram Gaikwad and the Kokan Dalits’ (2011) notes, excessive labour in his already precarious condition caused his injuries to worsen, Bhikaji succumbed to his injury and passed away on January 5, 1929. He was only 26 years old.

Gail Omvedt goes on to record Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s words of grief, at his cremation – ‘Dadasaheb, don’t believe that Bhikaji has gone. Believe that Bhimrao has gone and Bhikaji in my form stands before you!’.

[Source, Gail Omvedt ‘Building the Ambedkar Revolution: Sambhaji Tukaram Gaikwad and the Kokan Dalits’ ’ (2011)]
Bass Reeves

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bass Reeves
Born July 1838

Crawford County, Arkansas, United States
Died January 12, 1910 (aged 71)

Muskogee, Oklahoma, United States
Occupation Deputy U.S. Marshal, MPD Police Officer
Nellie Jennie (m. 1864–1896)

Winnie Sumter (m. 1900–1910)
Children Robert, Lula, Sally, Benjamin, Newland, Harriet, Homer, Edgar, George, Alice, Bass Jr.

Bass Reeves (July 1838 – January 12, 1910) was the first black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi River. He worked mostly in Arkansas and the Oklahoma Territory. During his long career, he was credited with arresting more than 3,000 felons. He shot and killed 14 people in self-defense.

Early life

Reeves in 1907

Bass Reeves was born into slavery in Crawford County, Arkansas, in 1838. He was named after his grandfather, Bass Washington. Reeves and his family were slaves of Arkansas state legislator William Steele Reeves. When Bass was eight (about 1846), William Reeves moved to Grayson County, Texas, near Sherman in the Peters Colony. Bass Reeves may have served William Steele Reeves's son, Colonel George R. Reeves, who was a sheriff and legislator in Texas, and a one-time Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives until his death from rabies in 1882.

When the American Civil War began, George Reeves, Bass’ owner, joined the Confederate Army, taking Bass with him. It is unclear how, and exactly when, Bass Reeves left his owner, but at some point during the Civil War he gained his freedom. One account recalls how Bass Reeves and his owner had an altercation over a card game. Reeves severely beat his owner, and fled to the Indian Territory where he lived as a fugitive slave among the Cherokee, Creeks and Seminoles. Bass stayed in the Indian Territories and learned their languages until he was freed by the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery, in 1865.

As a freedman, Reeves moved to Arkansas and farmed near Van Buren. He married Nellie Jennie from Texas, with whom he had 11 children.


Reeves and his family farmed until 1875, when Isaac Parker was appointed federal judge for the Indian Territory. Parker appointed James F. Fagan as U.S. marshal, directing him to hire 200 deputy U.S. marshals. Fagan had heard about Reeves, who knew the Indian Territory and could speak several Indian languages. He recruited him as a deputy; Reeves was the first black deputy to serve west of the Mississippi River. Reeves was assigned as a deputy U.S. marshal for the Western District of Arkansas, which had responsibility also for the Indian Territory. He served there until 1893. That year he transferred to the Eastern District of Texas in Paris, Texas, for a short while. In 1897, he was transferred again, serving at the Muskogee Federal Court in the Indian Territory.

Reeves worked for 32 years as a federal peace officer in the Indian Territory, and became one of Judge Parker's most valued deputies. Reeves brought in some of the most dangerous criminals of the time, but was never wounded, despite having his hat and belt shot off on separate occasions.

In addition to being a marksman with a rifle and pistol, Reeves developed superior detective skills during his long career. When he retired in 1907, Reeves claimed to have arrested over 3,000 felons. He is said to have shot and killed 14 outlaws to defend his life.

Once, he had to arrest his own son for murder. One of his sons, Bennie Reeves, was charged with the murder of his wife. Deputy Marshal Reeves was disturbed and shaken by the incident, but allegedly demanded the responsibility of bringing Bennie to justice. Bennie was eventually tracked and captured, tried, and convicted. He served his time in Fort Leavenworth in Kansas before being released, and reportedly lived the rest of his life as a responsible and model citizen.

When Oklahoma became a state in 1907, Bass Reeves, then 68, became an officer of the Muskogee Police Department. He served for two years before he became ill and retired.
Personal life and final years

Reeves was himself once charged with murdering a posse cook. At his trial before Judge Parker, Reeves was represented by former United States Attorney W.H.H. Clayton, who was a colleague and friend. Reeves was acquitted.

Reeves's health began to fail further after retiring. He died of Bright's disease (nephritis) on January 12, 1910.

He was a great-uncle of Paul L. Brady, who became the first black man appointed as a federal administrative law judge in 1972.


In 2011, the US-62 Bridge, which spans the Arkansas River between Muskogee and Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, was renamed the Bass Reeves Memorial Bridge.

In May 2012, a bronze statue of Reeves by Oklahoma sculptor Harold Holden was erected in Pendergraft Park in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

In 2013, he was inducted into the Texas Trail of Fame.

Reeves figures prominently in an episode of How It's Made, in which a Bass Reeves limited-edition collectors' figurine is shown in various stages of the production process.

In "The Murder of Jesse James", an episode of the television series Timeless (season one, episode 12), Bass Reeves is portrayed by Colman Domingo.

Reeves was a featured subject of the Drunk History episode "Oklahoma" in which he was portrayed by Jaleel White.

In "Everybody Knows", a season two episode of the television series Wynonna Earp, Reeves is portrayed by Adrian Holmes.

Bass Reeves figures into the plot of The Royal Family 2nd season episode "Greenleaf".


Bass Reeves, a 2010 fictionalized account of Reeves's life and career, stars James A. House in the titular role.

In They Die by Dawn (2013), Bass Reeves is portrayed by Harry Lennix.

A miniseries based on Burton's 2006 biography (and co-produced by Morgan Freeman) is reportedly under development by HBO.

As of April 2018, Amazon Studios is developing a biopic of Reeves with the script and direction helmed by Chloé Zhao.


A stage play about Reeves entitled Cowboy by Layon Gray will debut in 2019 in New York City and at the 2019 National Black Theatre Festival.


Bass Reeves is a character in the miniature wargame Wild West Exodus.
Bass Reeves is a playable character in the board game Western Legends.
Bass Reeves served as the inspiration for Sheriff Freeman in Red Dead Redemption 2.
Bass Reeves served as the inspiration for Cornelius Basse in the miniature wargame Malifaux.
B. C. Kamble
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

B. C. Kamble

Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
In office
Member of Bombay Legislative Assembly
In office
Editor of Janata
In office
Editor of Prabuddha Bharat
In office
Editor of Republic
In office
Personal details
Born 15 July 1919
Palus, Tasgaon taluka, Sangli District, Maharashtra, India
Died 6 November 2006 (aged 87)[1]
Nationality Indian
Political party Scheduled Caste Federation
Republican Party of India
Republican Party of India (Kamble)
Father Chandrasen Kamble
Residence Mumbai, Maharashtra
Education Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Laws
Alma mater Talak High School, Karad
Fergusson CollegePune
Profession Advocate, politician, writer, social worker

Bapu Chandrasen Kamble (15 July 1919 – 6 November 2006), commonly known as B. C. Kamble, was an Indian politician, writer, editor, jurist, and social activist. He is also an Ambedkarite thinker, translator and biographer. Kamble is the leader of Republican Party of India (Kamble). He is from Maharashtra. He have written a Marathi biography of B. R. Ambedkar called "Samagra Ambedkar Charitra" (Vol. 1–24).

Kamble helped Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar while drafting the Constitution of India. For nearly 50 years after Ambedkar's death, Kamble led the Republican Party of India. After the death of Babasaheb, there was a split in the Republican Party of India. He is the president of a group, Republican Party of India (Kamble).

Journalism and educational career

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar started a Satyagraha demanding the cancellation of the Poona Pact in Pune on 18 July 1946, because the Cabinet Mission to India rejected the independent political existence of untouchables in 1946. This is called 'Pune Satyagraha'. For support this Satyagraha, student Kamble wrote an article Dalit Satyagrahinchi Kaifiyat (the Pleading of the Dalit Satyagrahies) in Kirloskar, a leading journal at that time. This article was published in the November 1946 issue of 'Kirloskar'. After that, Ambedkar himself read the article and appointed him as editor of Janata weekly. From 1948 to 1954, Kamble served as the editor of the Janata weekly. From 1956 to 1958, he served as the editor of the Prabuddha Bharat weekly. From 1959 to 1975, he served as the editor of the Republic weekly. The Janata and the Prabuddha Bharat were started by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. Kamble followed Ambedkar. Due to the influence of Ambedkar, he converted to Buddhism in 1956. During 1956–57, he served as a Professor of Constitutional Law in Siddharth College of Law, Mumbai

Political career

In 1952 Bombay Legislative Assembly election, Kamble was the MLA of the Scheduled Caste Federation party in the Bombay Legislative Assembly from 1952 to 1957. During this time, he fought alone on the issue of "Samyukta Maharashtra" (United Maharashtra) in the legislature. He was twice a member of the Republican Party of India in the Lok Sabha from 1957 to 1962 and 1977 to 1979. In the parliament, he opposed the Emergency and 44th Amendment of the constitution. He was a wise and learned leader of the Republican Party of India.


List of following Books written by B. C. Kamble:
Samagra Ambedkar Charitra (Vol. 1–24)
Asprushya Mulche Kon Ani Te Asprushya Kase Banale? (Marathi translation of The Untouchables: Who Were They are Why The Become Untouchables)
Aikyach Ka?
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkaranche Akherche Sansadiy Vichar (Last thoughts of Dr. Ambedkar on Parliamentary Affairs)
Raja Milindche Prashna (Questions of kind Milind)
Legislature Vs. High Court
Thoughts on 44th Constitution Amendment Bill
Dr. Ambedkar on Indian Constitution
Questions of King Milind
Tripitak (Volume Nos. 1 to 4)
Dr. Ambedkar as Parliamentarian
'Last thoughts of Dr. Ambedkar on Parliamentary Affairs
Uprooting the famine
Bhagat Chhajju Ram
भगत छज्जू राम

Today is the Death Anniversary of Late Bhagat Chhajju Ram Ji, who left this mortal World on this day 22.05.1989. Born on 07.03. 1907, he lived and served the humanity particularly in J&K state as Hon'ble member Praja Sabha before 1947; MLA R.S. Pura; MLA Bishanah; Hon'ble Cabinet Minister; MLC; President, Pradesh Congress Committee Jammu & Kashmir.
Popularly known as "रियासती गाँधी", he followed the Gandhian Philosophy throughout his life, lived a simple life and always believed in simple living and high thinking.

He was eldest of the three siblings: one brother and one sister. He lost his father when he was a young boy and had to quit his studies in 8th class to take care of the younger siblings at the tender age of 14 years. He learnt the vocation of tailoring to feed them and his mother. He was studying in Lahore when his father died. Later on, he started a cloth shop in R S Pura in which Lala Karam Chand Arora whom he invited to join as a partner. It was necessitated with his growing involvement with social awakening programmes.

He started his social journey from Arya Samaj.He had joined the Arya Samaj in Lahore and was working in Jammu in close liasion with Lal Hans Raj Mahajan ( of famous Mahajan Sports of Jalandhar , then at Lahore). Arya Samaj Movement especially against UNTOUCHABILITY and CASTEISM owes much to Bhagat Sahib. He lead the Arya Samaj in cohesing the society to rid it of the social evils existing in the sociaety particularly Hindus. He was instrumental in establishing Ary Samaj at R S Pura and Arya Samaj Mandir at Shastri Nagar (Gandhi Nagar).

On Socio-Political Front, he started his journey by forming MEGH MANDAL which primarily worked among the the huge majority of Megh community in Jammu and surrounding areas for their social and political amelioration and emancipation. He used to hold social gathering delivering lectures and exhorting people for education, Popularly known as"Yag" community kitchen was usually organised on such assemblies.

A voracious and interestingly wonderful speaker, he was. His speeches were a mount of wits to which people listened passionately with pin drop silence and heart full laughter.

He was a staunch follower of Kabir Sahib and established Kabir Kalyan Kendra at Jhiri Kahnachak as an excellent centre for social development. He had founded a social magazine "KABIR SANDESH" to spread the teachings of Kabir Sahib. He was the ideologue and patron of the Sant Kabir movement in J&K and patronised the organisation of ever first Kabir Sabha Bishnah in 1980.

He was the the campaign manager of election of Mufti Mohmmad Sayyad as MLA from R S Pura, who won ever from Jammu in1986.

He was a Friend, Philosopher and Guide.

He had established a trust " Bhagat Chhajju Ram Trust " for social service especially for the sick, destitute and infirm to whom mrdicines were distributed every month.

He did not own a house, have a fast conveyance like car all his life and lived in rented accommodation. Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah the then H'ble Chief Minister knowing that Bhagat chhajju Ram did not a house allot a govt. accommodation to him till he survives.

We remember him from the core of heart and pay our homage.

Contributed by:
Sh. Ashok Bhagat
14-C, Shastri Nagar
Barun Biswas
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Barun Biswas
Born 12 September 1972

Sutia, West Bengal, India
Died 15 July 2012 (aged 39)

Sutia, West Bengal, India
Cause of death Murdered (shot)
Nationality Indian
Occupation School teacher, social activist
Known for Protester against the gang rapes in Sutia, West Bengal.

Barun Biswas (12 September 1972 – 15 July 2012) was a Bengali school teacher and a social activist in Sutia, West BengalIndia. In 2000, he co-founded "Sutia Gonodhorshon Pratibad Mancha", an organisation which protested against a local criminal gang, who were using gang-rape to terrorise the people of Sutia. Biswas was murdered on 5 July 2012. In 2013, a Bengali film Proloy was made, based on his life and fight.

Life and career

Biswas was born on 12 September 1972 in Sutia, North 24 Parganas district, West Bengal. His parents, Gita Biswas and Jagadish Biswas, migrated from Faridpur, Bangladesh after the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War to Acharipara, Panchpota, in North 24 Parganas. His father worked as a labourer during the day and sang for a local theatre group at night to pay for his children's education.

Barun Biswas attended Panchpota Bharadanga High School. He completed his schooling at Gobardanga Khantura High School. He received his B.A. in Bengali from Gobardanga Hindu College, his master's degree from Calcutta University, and his BEd from B.T. College, New Barrackpore.

After his education, Biswas passed the West Bengal School Service exam, and chose a career in social work and education. In 1998, he started his career as a school teacher at Mitra Institution (Main) of Kolkata, where he worked till his death. He was also an active member of Panchpota Sashadanga Sarada Seba Sangha.

Ichhamati river and water

In 2000, Biswas started a campaign for the construction of a canal to check flooding of the Ichamati and Jamuna rivers. The rivers were causing widespread flooding in Sutia, BongaonSwarupnagar, and Gaighata. Biswas drew up a blueprint for the canal. Though initially his plan met with little enthusiasm from local leaders, the government later built the canal. Later, he was involved in the fight against gangs who were illegally blocking and diverting the Ichamati river for their businesses, causing floods in the village area.

2000—2012: Anti-rape activism

Sutia and neighbouring villages were engulfed by a criminal gang during the late 1990s and early 2000s. From 2000—2002, 33 rapes (official figure, actual figure may have been much more) and around a dozen murders were committed in Sutia. Biswas formed a group of villagers to fight crime and to demand arrests. In 2000, at age 28, he co-founded "Sutia Gonodhorshon Pratibad Mancha". The organisation started to hold public meetings to protest the rapes. During such a meeting, Biswas said:

If we can't protect our daughters, sisters, wives and mothers, then we shouldn't be living in a civilized society. If we lack the courage to take on the rapists, we deserve more severe punishment than they do.... So come and join us to protect the honour of our women.

Biswas' group helped rape victims give reports to the police that led to arrests of the gang members, including the leader of the gangs, Sushanta Choudhury. Biswas also counselled the raped women.


I am a proud mother who has lost her son. Barun, my youngest, never went on the backfoot despite knowing there was a threat to his life. Till the day Pratibadi Mancha (a social service organization set up set by Barun) raises its voice against all atrocities, my son will remain immortal. Bengali: Barun chilo, Barun ache, Barun thakbe (Barun was, Barun is, and Barun will be)

At 7:20 pm on 5 July 2012, when returning from Kolkata, Biswas was shot from behind in a parking lot outside the Gobardanga railway station. Subsequently, police from Habra, Gaighata, and Gopal Nagar arrested five men with ties to the Sutia gang. This included the alleged hired killer, Sumanta Debnath, alias Fotke, Debashish Sarkar, Bishwajit Biswas, and Raju Sarkar, most of whom were local students. The alleged assassin reportedly confessed to the police that he was contracted by gang leader Sushanta Choudhury, who was serving life imprisonment in Dum Dum Central Jail.


In 2011 a teleserial named Proloy Asche was launched by Sananda TV loosely based on the life of Barun Biswas In August 2013, a Bengali film called Proloy was made on the life of Biswas. Actor Parambrata Chatterjee portrayed the role of Barun Biswas.

In the 2013 Durga Puja, Panchpota Avijan Sangha Durga Puja Committee used Biswas' life and struggle as their puja's festive theme. They also named their puja platform Barun Mancha (Barun platform). Manobendra Biswas, joint secretary of the puja committee told—

Barun's mamabari (maternal house) was in Sutia Panchpota and he had spent his childhood here. When Sutia was virtually ruled by rapists and criminals, he started a movement to help villagers fight the reign of terror through Sutia Pratibadi Mancha... Durga Puja marks the victory of Durga over Mahishasura and Barun's fight epitomizes the victory of good over evil.
Balaji Sampath
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Balaji Sampath
Born 17 January 1973
Chennai, India
Nationality Indian
Alma mater IIT Madras,
Occupation Founder and Secretary, AID India & CEO of Ahaguru

Study and Enjoy

Balaji Sampath (born 17 January 1973) is an Indian educationist, social activist, the founder and secretary of a non-profit Organization, Association for India's DevelopmentIndia chapter, an India-based NGO that carries out science teaching and primary school programs for children to aid their educational development.

AidIndia trains teachers in government schools with the goal of improving the quality of teaching, especially for science and mathematics by using innovative techniques and devising educational aids . The mission of AidIndia is to empower socially disadvantaged and often forgotten sections of the society through socio-economic development programs, education, providing micro credit, and imparting training in the areas of health, human rights and utilization of resources for income generation.

Balaji is also the founder and CEO of Ahaguru. A pioneer education start-up in online coaching that engages in providing training courses on different subjects online. Balaji has written many science books for primary and higher level education to explain very complex concepts in a simple and easy to understand language for students.

Personal life

Balaji was born in Chennai, India on 17 January 1973 into a family where both of his parents were government workers. Because his parents were often transferred to different locations for their government jobs, as a child Balaji was exposed to a number of schools across India. But one thing remained constant: his problem understanding scientific subjects because of ineffective teaching. Early in life, he devised his own system of analysis and arriving at solutions.


Balaji appeared for IIT JEE and obtained All India Rank 4 in 1990, considered one of the most competitive exams in India. He completed his B.Tech degree in Electrical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Madras in 1994, and his doctorate in Electronics and communication Engineering from University of Maryland, College Park.


Balaji started his career as a volunteer for AID United States chapter from 1994 while he was doing his doctorate.After completing his PhD degree, he returned to India to work full-time on social issues in 1997 and founded AID India. He worked with the Centre for Ecology and Rural Development and the Peoples Science Movement on Health and Education Programs. Balaji organized Peoples Health assembly campaign in 2000 at a national level and began campaigning for better public education and access to healthcare, especially in rural areas.
In 2011, Balaji started Ahaguru.com, an online education portal to enhance science and math learning and problem-solving skills of middle and high school students. Yahoo! News said: "This education startup, www.AhaGuru.com, a pioneer in online coaching, provides training courses completely online. From CBSE to NEET and JEE Advanced, it covers physics, chemistry and math courses from class 7 to 12.Their best seller is the full year course, which is modelled like a classroom with an expert teacher explaining the key concepts and showing how to solve different types of questions.". In 2021 his ahaguru platform became a very big hit, he is also known to be a predicter of future, with his ahaguru developing online from 2013 itself


IIT Madras Distinguished Alumnus Award 2012.
Times of India Social Impact Award for AID, 2011 from Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh in 2011.
Ashoka Fellowship for innovative work on Science Education.
Lemelson Inventor Certificate for Science Education.
MIT Indus Technovator's Award 2005 for Village Libraries and Science Education.
Rotary Distinguished Service Award by the Rotary Club of Madras South.
Pratham USA Achievement Award 2006 for improving reading skills in Tamil Nadu.
Association for India's Development JS Fellowship, 1998.
All India Rank 4 in the IIT JEE, 1990.
Bhanwari Devi
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bhanwari Devi

Bhanwari Devi (also spelled Bahveri Devi) is an Indian social-worker from Bhateri, Rajasthan, who was gang raped in 1992 by men angered by her efforts to prevent a child marriage in their family. Her subsequent treatment by the police, and court acquittal of the accused, attracted widespread national and international media attention, and became a landmark episode in India's women's rights movement..

Bhanwari Devi
Born 1951/1952
Nationality Indian
Known for Vishaka Judgement
Awards Neerja Bhanot Memorial Award for her "extraordinary courage, conviction and commitment"


Bhanwari is a woman belonging to a caste kumhar (potter) family and living in Bhateri, a village in the Indian state of Rajasthan, located 55 kilometres (34 mi) from Jaipur, the state's capital. Most people of the village belonged to the Gurjar community of milkmen, which is higher in the caste hierarchy than Bhanwari's. In the 1990s and even now child marriages are common in the village, and the caste system is dominant. Bhanwari was married to Mohan Lal Prajapat when she was around five or six years old and her husband eight or nine, before coming to live in Bhateri while still in her early teens. They have four children together; two daughters and two sons: the eldest daughter has not been educated; two sons, who live in Jaipur, do menial jobs, while the youngest daughter Rameshwari graduated with Bachelor of Education degree and teaches English language in a school.

As a saathin

In 1985, Bhanwari Devi became a saathin ("friend"), a grassroots worker employed as part of the Women's Development Project (WDP) run by the Government of Rajasthan. As part of her job, she took up issues related to land, water, literacy, health, Public Distribution System, and payment of minimum wages at famine relief works. In 1987, she took up a major issue of the attempted rape of a woman from a neighbouring village. All of these activities had the full support of the members of her village. However, in 1992, Bhanwari found herself alienated, when she took up the issue of child marriage which is still widely practiced in India despite being illegal.

Bhanwari's intervention

In 1992, the state government of Rajasthan decided to launch a campaign against child marriage during the fortnight preceding the festival of Akha Teej, which is considered an auspicious date for marriages. Many child marriages take place during this festival. WDP members were tasked with convincing local villagers not to conduct child marriages, a task that Bhanwari took up, along with prachetas and members of the District Women's Development Agency (DWDA). The campaign was largely ignored by the villagers and faced disapproval from local leaders, including the village headman or pradhan.

One family which had arranged such a marriage was that of Ram Karan Gurjar, who had planned to marry off his nine-month-old daughter.[5] Bhanwari made attempts to persuade the family against carrying out their wedding plans. Since many Gujar families seemed determined to go ahead with child marriages, the Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) and the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) started making rounds of the village. On 5 May, the day of Akha Teej, the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and SDO went to Bhateri village to stop the marriage of Ram Karan Gurjar's infant daughter. While they succeeded in preventing the marriage from taking place on the day of Akha Teej, the marriage took place at 2 a.m. the next day. No police action was taken against this. However, the villagers associated the police visits with Bhanwari Devi's efforts. This resulted in social and economic boycott of Bhanwari and her family. The villagers stopped selling milk to the family or buying the earthen pots they made. Bhanwari was forced to leave her job when her employer was roughed up, while her husband was beaten up by another Gujar.

The gang rape

According to Bhanwari Devi, at dusk on 22 September 1992, while her husband and she were working in their field, five men from the dominant and affluent Gurjar caste from her village attacked her husband with sticks, leaving him unconscious. In her complaint with the police she named the five men: brothers Ram Sukh Gujjar, Gyarsa Gujjar and Ram Karan Gujjar, the latter whose daughter's child marriage she attempted to stop, and their uncle Badri Gujjar, along with one Shravan Sharma. She claimed that while Ram Sukh held her, Badri and Gyarsa took turns in raping her. She added that the rape occurred shortly after the said incident happened. The accused of Gurjar caste were arrested and tried in the court, but they were backed by the local MLA, Dhanraj Meena. Meena hired a lawyer called Purohit to defend the accused.

Police and medical procedures

Bhanwari reported the incident to Rasila Sharma, the pracheta (block-level worker), who took her to the Bassi police station to lodge a First Information Report (FIR). The FIR was lodged after surmounting police scepticism and indifference, a phenomenon several rape complainants have faced in the Indian context. Scholar Savitri Goonesekere notes that all across South Asia, police are reluctant to record rape cases and show callousness and indifference towards women with complaints of rape. At the police station, Bhanwari was asked to deposit her "lehanga" (long skirt) as evidence. She had to cover herself with her husband's blood-stained saafa (turban) and walk 3 km to the nearest saathin's village Kherpuria, at about 1 a.m. in the night.

This indifference continued at the Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Bassi, where the male doctor refused to medically examine Bhanwari, while no female doctor was present. The PHC doctor referred her to Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Hospital in Jaipur, but wrote in his referral that she was being sent for a test "confirming the age of the victim."

The Medical Jurist at Jaipur refused to conduct any tests without orders from a Magistrate; the Magistrate refused to give the orders until the next day, as it was past his working hours.[13] As a result, the vaginal swab was taken more than 48 hours after the alleged rape, although Indian law requires this to be done within 24 hours. Her scratches and bruises were not recorded, and her complaints of physical discomfort were ignored.

Media coverage

On 25 September 1992, the Rajasthan Patrika, a major local newspaper, carried a small news item stating that a woman from Bhateri village had registered an FIR in Bassi thana (police station) alleging gang rape Following this, a number of local Hindi dailies as well as national dailies reported the incident. On 2 October, the Rajasthan Patrika carried an editorial article Kroor Hadsa ("Brutal Incident") condemning the incident. Soon after this, many Jaipur-based women's groups and other social organizations began making inquiries about it. However, Bhanwari Devi was accused of fabricating the entire incident by the alleged rapists and their supporters, and faced public humiliation in her village. Bhanwari Devi refused monetary compensation to discourage such allegations.

The court case
Summary of evidence

The summary of evidence in the court case stated that:
The semen of five different men were indeed found in Bhanwari's vaginal swab and upon her lehenga (long skirt)
There was not even a single match between any of these five semen traces and the semen of any of the five accused (including two who she had accused of raping her and three whom she had accused of pinning her down).
Bhanwari's husband's semen was not found in the vaginal swab (none of the five semen traces were his).

District court judgment

In its verdict on 15 November 1995, the district and sessions court in Jaipur dismissed the case and acquitted all the five accused. Five judges were changed, and it was the sixth judge who ruled that the accused were not guilty, stating inter alia that Bhanwari's husband couldn't have passively watched his wife being gang-raped.

Under pressure from women's groups, the State Government decided to appeal against the judgment. The judgement led to a nationwide campaign for justice for Bhanwari Devi. However, by 2007, 15 years after the incident, the Rajasthan High Court held only one hearing on the case and two of the accused were dead.

Criticism of the judgment

Women's activists were critical of some of the judicial remarks made in the case. The judgment stated in passing that Bhanwari's husband couldn't have passively watched his wife being gang-raped. This was taken as prejudice and bias by the women's groups. The accused included an uncle-nephew pair, and the judge said that a middle-aged man from an Indian village could not possibly have participated in a gang rape in the presence of his own nephew.


A state MLA belonging to the Bharatiya Janata PartyKanhaiya Lal Meena, organised a victory rally in the state capital Jaipur for the five accused who were now declared not guilty, and the women's wing of his political party attended the rally to call Bhanwari a liar.

Social boycott

Bhanwari and her family were ostracized by villagers in Bhateri and by members of her own caste living elsewhere. When her mother died, her brothers and others did not allow her to participate in the funeral. Following this incident, Bhanwari handed over to them the sum of ₹25,000 which she had received from Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. Her brothers spent this money on organizing a Kumhar caste panchayat, where people were asked to accept her back into the community. In spite of this effort, her acceptance in the community remained nominal and her son Mukesh had a difficult time finding a family willing to give their daughter in marriage to him.

The New Indian Express journalist Sukhmani Singh interviewed Bhanwari in 2001 and reported: "Feisty, outspoken, innately hospitable, she openly expressed her resentment against both the women's groups and the government, all of whom have been fiercely guarding her like their pet mannequin all these many years." He reported that she was "weary, resigned and bitter" after all these years. He also reported that Bhanwari wanted to leave Bhateri, but couldn't afford to do so. Her sole source of income was a buffalo, as her two bighas of land had become unproductive due to three years of drought. Most of the money that she received as part of the Neerja Bhanot Memorial Award in 1994 was locked away in a trust to aid women.

Official honours

Bhanwari received honours both nationally and internationally. She was invited to be a part of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. In 1994, she was awarded the Neerja Bhanot Memorial Award carrying ₹1 lakh cash prize, for her "extraordinary courage, conviction and commitment".

In 2002, the then-Chief Minister of RajasthanAshok Gehlot, allotted a residential plot to Bhanwari Devi and announced a grant of ₹40,000 for construction of a house on the plot. He also sanctioned an additional amount ₹10,000 for the education of her son.


Bhanwari's case shaped the women's movement in India. The Bhanwari case is said by some to have encouraged more rape victims to prosecute their rapists.

By 2007, the average age of the first-time mother in Rajasthan had gone up to 16.5 years. This change was brought about by the efforts of women's groups, catalyzed by the Bhanwari case.

The Vishaka judgment

Women's activists and lawyers have propagated the view that Bhanwari attracted the ire of her rapists solely on the basis of her work. A number of groups which championed the latter view filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court of India, under the collective platform of Vishakha. The petition, filed by Vishakha and four other women's organizations in Rajasthan against the State of Rajasthan and the Union of India, resulted in what are popularly known as the Vishakha Guidelines. The judgment of August 1997 provided the basic definitions of sexual harassment at the workplace and provided guidelines to deal with it. It is seen as a significant legal victory for women's groups in India.

In films

In 2000, Jag Mundhra released a film, Bawandar, based on Bhanwari's story.

Bant Singh

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Bant Singh
Bant Singh Jhabbar at World Book Fair, New Delhi (2019) (04) (cropped).jpg
Bant Singh

Died        :          7 January 2006 

OccupationLabour Rights Activist
OrganizationMazdoor Mukti Morcha
Political partyAam Aadmi Party

Bant Singh is a Sikh labourer and singer from the Jhabhar village in Mansa district, PunjabIndia, who has emerged as an agricultural labour activist, fighting against the power of the landowner. Described by Amit Sengupta as "an icon of Dalit resistance he has been active in organizing poor, agricultural workers, activism that continues despite a 2006 attack that cost him both of his lower arms and his left leg."

After his minor daughter was raped by some powerful men in 2000, he dared take them to court, a usual occurrence when a Dalit is raped by a non-Dalit, braving threats of violence and attempted bribes. The trial culminated in life sentences for three of the culprits in 2004, "the first time that a Dalit from the region who had complained against upper-caste violence had managed to secure a conviction."

On the evening of 7 January 2006, Bant Singh was returning home through some wheat fields. He had just been campaigning for a national agricultural labour rally to be held in Andhra Pradesh in January. He was suddenly waylaid by a gang of seven men, suspected to be sent by Jaswant and Niranjan Singh, the current and former headmen of his village who have links with the Indian National Congress party. One of them brandished a revolver to prevent any resistance while the other six set upon him with iron rods and axes beating him to a pulp.

He was left for dead, and a phone call was made to Beant Singh, a leading man in Jhabhar, to pick up the dead body. However, Bant Singh was alive, though barely.

He was first taken to civil hospital in Mansa but was not given proper treatment there. Then he was taken to the PGI at Chandigarh, where both lower arms and one leg had to be amputated since gangrene had set in by then, and his kidneys had collapsed due to blood loss. The doctor was eventually suspended for his conduct.

Bant Singh was featured in 'Chords of Change' TV series and in a 2020 Tamil film 'Gypsy'. Died : 

जनवरी 2006 में पड़ोस के गांव के ही जमींदारों ने बंत सिंह के दोनों हाथ-पैर काट दिए गए थे. बंत सिंह के साथ ऐसा इसलिए हुआ क्योंकि वह अपनी नाबालिग बेटी से हुए सामूहिक बलात्कार के विरोध में इंसाफ की लड़ाई लड़ रहे थे. उसके बाद झब्बर पंजाब में दलित और किसान आंदोलन की आवाज बनकर उभरे.

बंत सिंह झब्बरबंत सिंह झब्बर

पंजाब में दलित आंदोलन की आवाज बन चुके वामपंथी नेता बंत सिंह झब्बर अब आम आदमी पार्टी में शामिल हो गए हैं. रविवार को मनसा में पार्टी एक कार्यक्रम के दौरान पंजाब प्रभारी संजय सिंह की मौजूदगी में झब्बर ने AAP की सदस्यता ग्रहण की. झब्बर इससे पहले सीपीआई (एमएल) के सदस्य थे और लंबे समय से भूमिहीन किसानों और दलितों के हक की लड़ाई लड़ रहे हैं.

'आप' की सदस्यता ग्रहण करते वक्त झब्बर ने कहा कि कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी के नेतृत्व से उन्हें अब कोई उम्मीद नहीं बची है, पार्टी अब बड़े जमींदार के हाथों में जा चुकी है और मैं अब भी गरीब भूमिहीन किसान ही हूं. आम आदमी पार्टी ने बंत सिंह के पार्टी में शामिल होने को एक अच्छा संकेत बताया है.

कौन हैं बंत सिंह झब्बर

जनवरी 2006 में पड़ोस के गांव के ही जमींदारों ने बंत सिंह के दोनों हाथ-पैर काट दिए गए थे. बंत सिंह के साथ ऐसा इसलिए हुआ क्योंकि वह अपनी नाबालिग बेटी से हुए सामूहिक बलात्कार के विरोध में इंसाफ की लड़ाई लड़ रहे थे. साल 2002 में उनकी बेटी के साथ सामूहित बलात्कार किया गया था जिसके बाद बंत सिंह कटे पांव से कोर्ट-कचहरी के चक्कर काटते रहे और आखिर में दोनों को सजा दिलाई. उसके बादबंत सिंह पंजाब में दलित और किसान आंदोलन की आवाज बनकर उभरे.

बंत सिंह पर हमला करने वाले नवदीप सिंह और हरबिंदर सिंह ने भी इसी कार्यक्रम में आम आदमी पार्टी की सदस्यता ग्रहण की. मामले में नवदीप सिंह और उनका सहयोगी सात साल जेल की सजा काट चुके हैं. जब बंत सिंह से इस पर सवाल किया गया तब उन्होंने कहा कि मैंने कभी नहीं सोचा था कि ये दिन भी देखना पड़ेगा. ये बात अलग है कि मेरी बेटी की जिंदगी खराब करने वाले भी अब आम आदमी पार्टी में हैं, लेकिन मैं अपनी लड़ाई जारी रखूंगा.

बंत सिंह के संघर्षों पर निरुपमा दत्त ने ‘द बैल्ड ऑफ बंत सिंह’के नाम से एक किताब भी लिखी थी जो 21 जनवरी 2015 को जयपुर लिटरेचर फेस्टिवल में रिलीज की गई.

Bezwada Wilson
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bezwada Wilson (2017)

Bezwada Wilson (born 1966) is an Indian activist and one of the founders and National Convenor of the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), an Indian human rights organization that has been campaigning for the eradication of manual scavenging, the construction, operation and employment of manual scavengers which has been illegal in India since 1993. His work at SKA, a community-driven movement, has been recognized by the Ashoka Foundation which has nominated him a Senior Fellow. On 27 July 2016, he was honoured with the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

Early life

Bezwada was born in 1966 in the Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) in Karnataka in Southern India. He is the youngest child of Bezwada Rachel and Bezwada Yacob, both belonging to the manual scavenging community.

His father began working for the township in 1935 as a safai karamchari, also called a manual scavenger, manually removing excreta from dry toilets. He attempted to find other manual labor but was unsuccessful. His eldest brother also worked as a manual scavenger in the Indian railways for four years and then ten years in KGF Gold mines township.

Bezwada went to upper primary school in Andhra Pradesh and stayed in the hostel for Scheduled Castes. He went to high school and intermediate in Kolar and Hyderabad. When he realized his parents' true occupation, he contemplated suicide.

Bezwada graduated in Political Science from Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad, and was involved in community service, especially youth programs. He saw that many children dropped out of school and then took up scavenging. He believed that if he helped the children complete school and take vocational training they could keep away from scavenging.

Campaign against manual scavenging

In 1986, Bezwada began his fight to end manual scavenging. The first hurdle in his fight was at home; his parents and relatives said he should not focus his life on something that always existed. It was over years that they came to accept that he was dedicating his life to helping eradicate manual scavenging. Too many people within the community were ashamed to even admit manual scavenging existed or that they did it. Bezwada began breaking the silence.

Bezwada also began a letter-writing campaign, contacting the KGF authorities, the minister, and chief minister of Karnataka, the prime minister, and newspapers, but they remained largely unacknowledged.

In 1993, the Parliament enacted the ‘Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act in 1993',[5] which banned the construction of dry latrines and outlawed the practice of manual scavenging. Despite the ban, the practice of manual scavenging continues across India.

Bezwada took photographs of dry latrines and manual scavenging in KGF and sent it to P.A.K. Shettigar, the then managing director of KGF, threatening action under the Act. An emergency meeting was called to convert dry latrines into water-seal latrines and transfer all scavengers to non-scavenging jobs. However, it was only when photographs were published in a 1994 article in the Deccan Herald, resulting in embarrassing questions in Parliament, that the Karnataka government was forced to acknowledge that manual scavenging continued to be a problem.

Bezwada then worked for two years to organize manual scavengers in Karnataka. A platform, the Campaign Against Manual Scavenging (CAMS), was formed. This oversaw the conversion of dry latrines into flush toilets and rehabilitation of those who were engaged in manual scavenging.

Wilson moved to Andhra Pradesh and began working with Paul Diwakar, a leading Dalit activist, and S. R. Sankaran, a retired Indian Administrative Officer. In 2001 the Andhra Pradesh government agreed to a total survey of the state to identify manual scavengers and dry latrines for liberation and rehabilitation. Bezwada prepared the survey format, where volunteers photographed and documented each manual scavenger and dry latrine.

Safai Karmachari Andolan

In 1994, Bezwada helped found Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) along with S. R. Sankaran and Paul Diwakar. SKA's goal is to end the practice of manual scavenging and help those engaged in it find dignified work. SKA trains teams to work towards the elimination of manual scavenging in various Indian states. SKA initially worked on the state level, until 2003 when Bezwada and four other team members moved to Delhi to launch the Safai Karmachari Andolan nationwide.

In 2003, Bezwada and the SKA initiated the filing of a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of India. SKA and 18 other civil society organizations, manual scavengers, and individuals signed the affidavit as litigants naming all states and government departments of Railways, Defence, Judiciary, and Education as violators of the Manual Scavenging Prohibition Act.

The PIL was a major step in the efforts to abolish manual scavenging. All the states and central ministries were forced to address the issue of manual scavenging. The Supreme Court gave strict orders that the Chief Secretaries of States and Heads of Departments of the central ministries should appear before the court for the case hearings. To date, there have been 23 hearings and in the state of Haryana, for the first time, in 2010 the act was enforced and 16 members were taken into custody for violating the law and employing manual scavengers.

By 2007, the SKA felt the struggle was going too slow. The legal process had put the onus on the victims to prove manual scavenging existed. So they launched Action 2010, by which they vowed to end manual scavenging by 2010 by simply asking those engaged in the practice to leave the practice and find alternative work.

The liberation of safai karmacharis became an important issue during the planning of the 12th Five Year Plan of India in 2010. Bezwada met with parliamentarians, ministers, and national advisory members during this time and submitted systematic documentation of manual scavenging across the country.

In 2009, Bezwada was elected an Ashoka Senior Fellow for human rights.

In October 2010, the head of the National Advisory CouncilSonia Gandhi, wrote to the Prime Minister's office declaring manual scavenging as a national shame and to address its abolition with the utmost urgency and priority. The NAC resolved to see that manual scavenging was over by 2012. Task forces were formed by the government of India for a new survey of the entire country, rehabilitation, amendment of the law to make it stricter, and demolition of dry latrines.

The Planning Commission of India constituted a sub-group on safai karmacharis with Bezwada as its convenor. The sub-group has submitted its report.

(Image Courtesy: Youth Ki Awaaz)
Bhau Panchbhai

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bhau Panchabhai (1 March 1944 - 21Jan 2016) was an Indian Marathi language poet, writer, and Ambedkarite-Dalit activist. He is best known for his first poetry collection Hunkaar Vadaalnche (हुंकार वादळांचे) for which he was awarded by the Government of Maharashtra for the best poetry collection of 1989. His poetry is considered as a prototype of Ambedkarite poetry and is translated in various languages including English. He lived in Nagpur and worked as a lawyer. He was awarded Laxmibai Ingole, Kavya Puruskar by the Laxmibai Ingole Foundation Amravati in 2015 for his contribution to Ambedkarite literature.
Ambedkarite Activist & writings

He was active in the Ambedkarite movement and Panthers of India.

Writings -(A)poetry collection
Hunkaar Vaadalaanche ( हुंकार वादळांचे) 1989
Nikharyaanchyaa Raangolyaa (निखाऱ्यांच्या रांगोळ्या) 2004
Abhanganchya Thingya (अभंगांच्या ठिणग्या) 2014
Spandanpisara (स्पंदनपिसारा) 2014
Aakantgandha (आकांतगंधा)Being Released Shortly(B) LALIT LEKH
Jakhamancha Ajintha (जखमांचा अजिंठा) 1992(C) VAICHARIK LEKH
Samajkranti (समाजक्रांती) 1992
Sultanahmet, Fatih - İstanbul - Turkey
GPS : 41°00'29.0"N 28°58'35.8"E / 41.008056, 28.976611

Cevri Kalfa, a slave girl who saved Sultan Mahmud II's life and was awarded for her bravery and loyalty and appointed hazinedar usta, the chief treasurer of the imperial Harem, which was the second most important position in the hierarchy. The building is one of the earliest modern school buildings in Istanbul. It was built by Sultan Mahmud II in the imperial style, in honour of the concubine Cevri Kalfa, who had rescued and carried him to safety during the events known as Alemdar Incident.

Protestors who stormed the Ottoman palace in 1808 and killed Sultan Selim III also wanted to kill Sultan Mahmut II. The prince was saved from the hands of the protestors by one of the women of the palace, Georgian Cevri Kalfa. She first hid him in her room, and then used her own body to shield him from the shooting protestors. She used ashes from a fire to try and distance the angry protestors from her room.

At that point two other palace officials, Anber and Isa Ağa, came to her assistance, rescuing the prince from the palace. Sultan Mahmut II received a knife wound to his arm, but at least he lived. When Mahmud II becomes sultan, he appointed Georgian Cevri Kalf as “hazinedarbaşı” (an office on par with that of being a vizier), and she stayed on for good.

When Cevri Hanım died, in 1819, Mahmud II had her buried alongside the grave of his mother and ordered a fountain and a primary school built in her name. The school in Sultanahmet was built by Sultan Mahmud II in 1839 as a gift of thanks to Cevri Kalfa, a slave girl from his Harem, who saved his life during an uprising of the Janissaries before he was a sultan.

Cevri Kalfa Sibyan Mektebi (Ottoman elementary school) was build in 1819 by Sultan Mahmut II in the loving memory of Cevri Kalfa Cevri Kalfa is the person that saved Sultan Mahmut’s live in 1808, when rebelstried to enter the harem after a death firman (imperial order) ruled by the Bab-ı Ali jurisdiction. Build with an empirical stylethis ottoman elementary school is the biggest one in Istanbul.

It has been used as an elementary school, art school for girls, vocational school specialized inprinting, courthouse and as a modern primary school. It was the largest primary school of its time in Istanbul and became a girl’s only school in 1858, a printing school in 1930 and reinstated as a primary school in 1945.


In 1985 it was donated to the Turkish Literature Foundation (Türk Edebiyat Vakfı) and in 2009 underwent full restoration. There is an attractive fountain built into the outside wall that forms an essential part of the main building.

Turkish people love deserts, coffee and tea. Yes, there’re lot of cafes offering this perfect trilogy but only a few are as historical as Edebiyat Kıraathanesi. This cafe used to be a school, Cevri Kalfa Sıbyan Mektebi, back in Ottoman Era. It was reborn four years ago when Ahmet Kabaklı, the founder of Turkish Literature Foundation, decided to open a cafe where writers, literature critics and book worms can come together and exchange their ideas while sipping their coffee or tea enjoy delicious desserts.

At the cafe, there’s a small souvenir corner. Also, there are two libraries. Today it houses The Turkish Literature Foundation and an inviting branch of the Hafız Mustafa pastry shop that has been in business since 1864.
Chodagam Ammanna Raja - activitist
Cynthia Stephen

On Brahminism, patriarchy in politics — and the need for change

"We have our governments which have been fooling us for 25 years on the issue of reservations for women in governance," says Stephen.

DSP Palanisamy said that the police had so far managed to keep things under control by settling differences between warring religious groups, however, on Sunday, the incident went out of hands.

Young leaders of a nascent group of middle-class Dalits think and act differently from veteran leaders when it comes to the violence they face.

MeToo: The NGO Sector Systematically Silences Dalit, Tribal and Bahujan Voices

While the nation is in the #MeToo movement's grip, it is the voices of non-Dalit women that are being heard and amplified.

All the media time and reams of newsprint documenting the various #MeToo revelations in India will not make up for the decades of silence imposed upon women and girls who were subject to sexual harassment at home, at work and in educational institutions.

Civil society groups have been at the forefront of social change in the area of gender and NGOs have been important stakeholders. Needless to say, there have been black sheep in the NGO sector as well, just as there are in the rest of society. Mari Marcel Thekaekara accused one well-known NGO activist in an article.

Even though I cannot claim that I was at the receiving end of sexual harassment, I can surely say that I paid a heavy personal price for speaking up against sexist and misogynist behaviour in some of the places I worked. Also, one needs to see this in the light of the subtle and not-so-subtle casteism one encounters in the sector.

As NGO work shed its focus on volunteerism and began to acquire “professionalism” in the wake of globalisation in the 1990s, there was an influx of foreign funding agencies which increased the need for professional social workers whose curricula needed project and financial management skills more than people’s issues, development and policy analysis, which used to be the forte of social workers during the 70s and 80s.

I joined the sector as a communications person in the 80s, during an exciting period. But much of this euphoria was because of my innocence – or ignorance, as it could be called. Over the years, I became experienced and of course moved up the ladder, a little slowed down by motherhood, which happened at a critical time career-wise, and by other personal setbacks.

So when, in 2004, I successfully passed an interview and written test for my first post as a director in an NGO, I was thrilled and excited by the challenging work and its scope, ideal for me, a multi-tasker and polymath. It was also the first job I had been able to land which was in line with my training, experience and skills. I often wondered at this, because peers who entered the field around the same time as I, with less training and capacities, had become directors much before me and drew double or triple of my salary. I had often attended interviews for senior positions and was shortlisted, but almost always found someone else being preferred.

Caste-based discrimination

I thought that this could be due to prejudice due to colour (I’m quite dark-complexioned), or religion – my name says it all – or even because I was South Indian – most NGO national offices are located in New Delhi. I’ve lived and worked there and can speak very fluent Hindi, travelled all over India, but still… it took sometime for me to realise that it wasn’t just colour, language or religion that was responsible for being overlooked for senior positions in NGOs. It was something that I hadn’t known about myself. I had Dalit ancestry.

Somehow, people in the sector – correctly – gauged that I was of Dalit stock. Therefore, my excellent writing, speaking and management skills were less important than the fact that maybe two or three generations ago, my forebears were probably “untouchables”, engaged in (maybe) unclean occupations and the hint of that taint was enough to keep me from being selected for any position of leadership or decision-making.

Suffice it to say that the reason I got my first post as a director was probably because I was a Dalit. The NGO was expected by the funders to show that it had programme staff from the target groups to execute the work.

Boardrooms of NGOs are complicit in enabling exploitative behaviour. Representative image. Credit: CIPE

Eventually, this assignment turned out to be very brief. Just ten months later, I lost the job despite excelling at it and having a good working relationship with the team and staff.

I was summarily terminated in the space of a day for asking the president of the board to tell the executive director of the organisation to stop having affairs with junior women staff during office time and in office space.

He failed to do his duty and instead took the side of the director. This board member now heads a national level organisation. (I fought a case in a labour court against my dismissal for several years and failed to win. I have still not got any of the money from my provident fund account because the executive director vindictively hasn’t signed and forward my application.)

The executive director continued, with his compliant board members and international funders, to run the NGO for several years, and provided an ecosystem for more women to be exploited, not only by him but by other board members and senior male staff. It gives me no joy to report that eventually, his alcohol abuse and financial profligacy caught up with him and funders withdrew after much damage was done.

The groupings withing NGOs

If just some women in male-headed NGOs speak up about their experiences, we’d have another long list of serial abusers who take advantage of the power their capacity to raise funds gives them over their staff. In fact, it is one of the reasons for civil society groups in Tamil Nadu to be clustered into two camps – one which includes NGOs headed by males and another made up of NGOs headed by women as well as autonomous women’s groups. Though there is issue-based solidarity among these camps, the NGO grouping in TN is almost exclusively based on gender.

The other divide is caste. Dalits have their own groups, the majority of them headed by men, many of them church-funded. Though there are several small poorly resourced ones headed by Dalit women, those which receive substantial foreign funding are headed by men and women from the privileged castes. (I am not comfortable using the term savarna even though it has become common these days, since I believe that as it refers to the varna, or caste, and means “with caste” – as opposed to avarna – or caste-less untouchables, and it reifies, reinforces and even legitimises caste hierarchies. This is my personal opinion.)

Be that as it may, the reality of the privileged castes dominating the leadership and decision making powers in NGOs with the field workers almost invariably made up of Dalits, Adivasis and some of the less resourced backward classes, only reflects the larger societal realities. Even though lip service used to be paid to empowering women or Dalits and especially Dalit women, the fact was – and is – that their positions in NGOs and movements continue to be marginalised and disempowered, even exploitative.

I say this with full responsibility. Even in many organisations led by Dalit women, there are hierarchies based on other considerations like kinship, language and region, though their solidarity does transcend these divisions in the larger picture.

One of the issues that #MeToo has raised is whether, if at all, Dalit women are part of the campaign, and whether Dalit women were reluctant to name their oppressors, and if so, why. We found that the percentage of convictions of those accused of harassing Dalit women is abysmal, since, as researchers found, police refused to file cases if Dalit women tried to complain against their tormentors. The police did not believe the women.

I shared my story on Facebook recently and the response was unexpectedly supportive and warm. Many of my friends knew the identity of the people involved and several asked me to name the persons. I refused because it might bring harm to many women who worked there but were not targets. Also the executive director’s fall from grace is complete and there’s nothing more pathetic than a discredited patriarch. I can’t bring myself to kick someone when they are down.

Bhanwari Devi’s case was responsible for the framing of Vishakha guidelines. Credit: Wikipedia

I seriously considered naming the board president, the man who failed to do his job and is enjoying the consequences of that sycophancy, who chose male solidarity and love for money and position and threw me under the bus. Not just him, but the whole craven bunch of so-called board members. This person is in a position of leadership at a national level organisation. However, as reliable opinion holds that he was not known to be involved in inappropriate relationships with women, I have decided not to reveal his name. However, this should not to give him a clean chit for ethical behaviour, as it is well known that his hands are not clean where money is concerned.

Information was shared by others, not by me, to the funders of the organisation where I worked about the various wrongdoings of the executive director and the board members. But as far as I know, they did nothing to intervene at the time or maybe they chose to believe his lies and nobody asked me for my side of the story. Was it because I was seen as a Dalit woman and therefore one whose opinion did not matter?

So the institutional failure of the board and the funders are even more culpable for allowing the executive director to continue with his abuse of money, institutional, sexual and social power, especially over the project beneficiaries and staff from disadvantaged backgrounds. All this while enabling him to project an image of being a champion of the poor, Dalits, women, tribals and the environment.

Structural and institutional failures

Who will answer for these structural failures?

To return to the #MeToo issue, there are two general perceptions: that the people involved are mostly from the privileged groups and Dalit women are not speaking up against their oppressors.

The first one is undoubtedly true and even the media is seen taking sides which are convenient, allowing institutional voices to emerge from within the establishment, and where all the actors are from privileged sections. The media, the NGOs, feminist/women’s movement, the police and the judiciary are all complicit in the silencing and eliding of Dalit and adivasi women even though in reality, these women put up the greatest resistance to injustice.

The famous anti-arrack movement in Andhra Pradesh in the 90s, which even brought a state government down, was headed by Rosamma, a Dalit woman. Mathura, whose courageously fought for justice in the Supreme Court against her custodial rape in the 70s, was an Adivasi girl. Bhanwari Devi, a Dalit woman, was raped for reporting an instance of child marriage to the authorities, which was her job. Her infructuous fight for justice resulted in the framing of Vishakha guidelines to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace and the passing of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act.

When Surekha Bhootmange and her daughter were brutalised and killed by a mob in Khairlanji in 2006, there was hardly any reportage, nor did the police register an FIR till there was unprecedented agitations by Dalit youth. In contrast, the Nirbhaya case prompted protests all over the country and even internationally.

All this shows that even to this day, the resistance of the marginalised continues to be silenced, ignored and minimised by all sections of the mainstream, including the media, civil society, judiciary and government.
When will the voices and struggles of the Dalit, Adivasi, Bahujan women find a space in the mainstream? Will #MeToo be more of the same?
Cynthia Stephen is an independent journalist, activist and social policy researcher.
Dr. C. Parvathamma

the First Dalit Woman Sociologist!

Today in Dalit history, we fondly remember Dr. C. Parvathamma, the first Dalit woman sociologist in India who won multiple prestigious awards such as the Rajyothsava Award (1990), Gargi Award (1999) and Nadoja Award (2005) for her contributions to sociological research. She was awarded a doctorate at the Victoria University in Manchester (now known as University of Manchester) under the supervision of Max Gluckman, a pioneer in social anthropology. Dr. Parvathamma’s scholarship includes 70 research articles and 11 books which had policy level impact. Besides, she occupied several leadership positions in academia, including the Chair of the Department of Sociology in Mangalore University when a Postgraduate Degree in Social Work was introduced in 1977–78, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Mysore where she played a central role in building the Department of Sociology and a member of the first governing body of ICSSR besides her membership in several other committees (Kumar, 2007). She retired from Mysore University in 1988 but continued her work by establishing the Centre for Research in Rural and Tribal Development in Mysore (Kumar, 2007).

Dr. Parvathamma made several valuable contributions to the study of the status of scheduled castes and tribes, of the anti-caste movement, Veerasaivism, while also critiquing Brahminical scholarship that misrepresented caste. She was a contemporary of M.N.Srinivas, a Brahmin sociologist, whose writings she thoroughly critiqued. She points out, “Srinivas’s point of view is that of a south Indian Brahmin and it is important to understand how it influences his work. One senses that the theoretical ideal of Brahmin superiority is basic to his subjectivism.” Talking about his lack of critique of Brahminism, she says, “The brotherhood of mankind and compassion upheld by the major religions of the world may have gone wrong in practice, but the sense of brotherhood does not find a place in Brahminical Hinduism.” (Parvathamma, 1978). Yet, the Brahminical writings on caste by M.N.Srinivas are cited several times more than C. Parvathamma’s writings in the academia, showing how Brahminism operates in the academia.

In Prof. Vivek Kumar’s memoir of Dr. Parvathamma giving a speech at a conference, he quotes her as saying, “If this nation needs one Gandhi then it needs thousands of Ambedkar to break free from the age-old tyrannical Hindu social order.” Prof. Vivek Kumar also talks about the discrimination Dr. Parvathamma faced in spite of the education she attained and the positions she occupied that “she could not find rented accommodation in Mysore after completing her PhD and becoming a lecturer at Mysore University.”

We are proud of her academic achievements and want to applaud her valuable contributions to sociology and policy on caste. We celebrate her resistance and success in the academia that was never a space meant for Dalit women. We dedicate this post to all the Dalit-Bahujan women who fight for space in violence academic departments around India. Jai bhim and Jai savitri to Dr. Parvathamma and all women who demand the right to build knowledge for our people!
C. V. Kunhiraman
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
C. V. Kunhiraman
Born February 6, 1871

Died April 10, 1949 (aged 78)
Occupation Social reformer
Known for

Spouse(s) Kunjikkavu

K. Damodaran (son)
Vasanthi (daughter)
C. Kesavan (son-in-law)
Parent(s) Velayudhan

by which time he had passed the lawyers' examination and resigned from the school in 1913 to take up the career of a lawyer by practicing at the Magistrate Court at Paravur. In between, he founded Kerala Kaumudi daily in 1911 and later, he shifted his base to Kollam, after quitting his career as a lawyer, resuscitated Kerala Kaumudi daily in 1920 with the assistance of his son, K. Sukumaran. His early journalistic articles were published in Sujananadini, run by Paravoor Kesavan Asan , where he became a sub-editor in due course and wrote poems and articles, mostly on social affairs.

Kunhiraman was married to Kunjikkavu and the couple had two sons, K. Sukumaran and K.Damodaran and a daughter, Vasanthi, who was married to C. Kesavan, former chief minister of Travancore-Cochin. He died on April 10, 1949, at the age of 78.

Kerala Kaumudi

To launch a newspaper of his own was his all time-dream. In 1911, C.V. launched Kerala Kaumudi as a weekly newspaper. He was the proprietor - editor, printer, publisher and even the proofreader! Started in 1911, in Mayyanad, it had grown over the years as one of the most influential dailies in Malayalam with 9 editions from ThiruvananthapuramKollamAlappuzhaPathanamthittaKottayamKochiThrissurKozhikode and Kannur.

Other journalistic contributions

Kunhiraman was also the editor of Malayalarajyam, Navajeevan, Kathamalika, Yukthivadi, Navasakthi and Vivekodayam. He had the rare distinction in Malayalam journalism being the founder of Kerala Kaumudi and founder editor of Malayalarajyam. He had been on the editorial board of Malayala Rajyam, Navajeevan, Navasakthi, Malayala ManoramaBhashaposhini, Kathamalika, Vivekodayam and Yuktivadi.

Literary contributions

Kunhiraman's oeuvre comprises 14 books, covering the genres of novel, short story, poetry, biography and other works including the condensed versions of Mahabharata and Ramayana, of which Valmiki Ramayanam, a prose rendering of the epic, was his first work to come out in print, in 1901, followed by Vyasabharatam, Panchavadi and other works. This include four novels, a short story anthropology, a book of poetry and his reminiscences of Kumaran Asan.
Social activities

Kunhiraman was a close associate of Narayana Guru and an active participant in the intellectual and social activities of Sivagiri Mutt. He was one of the leaders of the Vaikom Satyagraha, a social protest against untouchability, centred around the Shiva temple at Vaikom during 1924–25. He continued to be a part of the agitation which resulted in the Temple Entry Proclamation of 1936. He was a part of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam and served as its general secretary during 1928–29 and 1931–32. He started a school for low caste Hindus at Vellamanal, Mayyanad, Quilon and became its headmaster. He was also a member of the Sree Moolam Popular Assembly.


C. V. Kunhiraman Foundation, an eponymous organization which had O. N. V. Kurup as the founder chairman,[15] have instituted an annual award, C. V. Kunhiraman Literary Award, to recognize excellence in Malayalam literature and M. Sukumaran, the writer, and Sugathakumari, the noted poet, feature among the recipients of the award which carries a purse of ₹ 10,001, a citation and a statuette designed by noted artists, B. D. Dathan.


Oru Noottandinu Munpu (short stories)]
Shree karthikodayam (poetry)
Panchavadi (novel)
Ragaparinamam (novel)
Sreekovil (novel)
Somanathan (novel)
Njan (memoirs)
Asan Smaranakal (biography)
Valmiki Ramayanam (condensed prose)
Vysabharatham (condensed prose)
Sree Narayana Smruthi (reminiscences)
Thiruvithamkoor Ezhava Rashtriya Mahasabha Adhyaksha Prasangam (speech)
Unniyarcha, Oru Pdanam (essay)
Chekavar (essay)
Carlota (rebel leader)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A map illustrating the province of Matanzas, where Carlota's memorial site is held.

Carlota Lucumí, also known as La Negra Carlota (died March 1844) was an African-born enslaved Cuban woman of Yoruba origin. Carlota was known as one of the leaders of the slave rebellion at the Triunvirato plantation in Matanzas, Cuba during the Year of the Lash in 1843-1844. Carlota led the slave uprising of the sugar mill "Triunvirato" in the province of Matanzas, Cuba on November 5, 1843. Her memory has also been utilized throughout history by the Cuban government in connection to 20th century political goals, most notably Operación Carlota, or Cuba's intervention in Angola in 1974. Little is actually known about the life of Carlota due to the difficulty and availability of sources in archives (Finch 88). Scholars of Afro-Cuban history have grappled with the dearth of reliable sources that document slaves' lives, and the ability of written documents to accurately encompass the reality of slave life. Slave testimonies obtained under investigations after rebellions provide most of the information surrounding Carlota and her contemporaries, making it difficult to construct a complete understanding of her involvement in the 1843 slave rebellion, much less a detailed biography. She is considered significant by scholars due to her role as a woman in an otherwise male-dominated sphere of slave revolt, as well as the way her memory has been employed in the public sphere in Cuba. Carlota and the uprising at Triunvirato plantation are honored as part of the UNESCO Slave Route Project through a sculpture at the Triunvirato plantation, which has since been turned into a memorial and museum.

Biography and importance

Carlota is perhaps the most famous historical actor in the Triunvirato rebellion. She is known for her leadership in the Triunvirato slave rebellion alongside Eduardo, Narciso, and Felipe Lucumí, and Manuel Gangá. However, little is known about her life outside of her involvement in the rebellion. She was an African-born Lucumí woman, but the date of her birth is unclear. She died in battle at the end of the brief revolt after it had spread to the San Rafael plantation. The Triunvirato rebellion was the last in a series of slave uprisings known as La Escalera in Cuba in 1843 and 1844, which resulted in a violent wave of repression against enslaved people and free people of color by the Spanish colonial government and other whites.

According to scholarship on the topic, Carlota played a role in the Triunvirato rebellion by spreading it from the Triunvirato plantation to the neighboring Acaná plantation by garnering the support of masses of slaves, reaching a total of five plantations by the end of the revolt. Other slaves knew her at the time for her violent attack on the overseer's daughter, which was brought up throughout many of the slave testimonies collected after the rebellion. Several Cuban scholars have categorized her as a martyr who died in the fight for freedom, and whose memory has been mobilized to show slave revolts as a natural precursor to the Cuban socialist revolution of 1959.

Carlota and another slave, Firmina, were two women among a number of men who organized and executed the slave revolt at the Triunvirato plantation. Scholars have generally characterized slave insurrection as a heavily masculine and violent affair. Enslaved women such as Carlota and Firmina disrupt the idea of slave rebellion as being only organized and carried out by men. At the time, most other representations of slave women were usually traitorous or sexualized. By serving as a leader, and eventually being conceptualized in the 20th century as a martyr of the Triunvirato rebellion, Carlota became symbolized in Cuban memory as a strong woman who would eventually come to represent ideas of Cubanness and revolution.

Triunvirato rebellion

The Triunvirato rebellion was one in a series of slave uprisings throughout Cuba in 1843. It was characterized by massive violence against white overseers and plantation owners, as well as immense property damage. The series of uprisings of which Triunvirato was a part is known as La Escalera, meaning ladder in Spanish. Its name derives from the most notable form of torture inflicted on slaves and free people of color during the wave of repression that followed the violent end of the rebellion. The Triunvirato rebellion, as well as La Escalera more broadly, are important to Cuban history in that they marked the peak of white fear of slave uprising and the end of a streak of slave revolts throughout the first half of the 19th century that wouldn't pick up again until the start of Cuba’s independence movement against Spain in 1868.

Shifting imperial and economic conditions in Cuba in the first half of the nineteenth century fomented a wave of slave rebellions in the 1830s and 40s. Historians differ on where they locate the cause of the slave uprisings of the first half of the 19th century. Some cite the intensification of plantation style farming, increasing numbers of enslaved people trafficked to Cuba during the era, and the spread of rebellious news and ideology among people of color on the island as the main drivers behind the organization and execution of La Escalera. Other historians have emphasized the impact of the neighboring Caribbean island of Haiti’s independence movement and abolition of slavery, which served to intensify plantation-style sugar production in Cuba as well as spread revolutionary ideas to people on the island. Still others draw a direct line between earlier Cuban slave revolts of the century, like the 1812 Aponte rebellion led by José Antonio Aponte. It is impossible to know exactly what conditions led to the slave revolts that constituted La Escalera, but the wave of violence and repression that followed was indisputable.

The way in which La Escalera has been written about since its occurrence is wrought with controversy. Many understood it as a massive conspiracy by the Cuban government to justify the repression inflicted upon people of color at the time, with no actual slave resistance efforts taking place. This served to erase any knowledge of slave movement for freedom. However, part of La Escalera and the ensuing repression's significance came from their inspiring new rebellious groups to form throughout the century in Cuba.

Methodological difficulties

A majority of the information gleaned about La Escalera and Carlota's role in inciting slave rebellion come from slave testimonies and other archival records. Historians have pointed out the issue in utilizing certain information found in the archive, particularly slave testimonies, as fact. Historian Aisha Finch points out the irony in trying to understand the experiences of enslaved people who suffered immense oppression and violence through the writings and records of those people who inflicted said violence. Usually, slave testimonies were taken during times of intense repression, under hierarchical (if not violent) power relations between colonial officials and slaves. Slaves frequently deployed strategic answers for survival, which then had to be taken down by a mediator with undoubtedly different goals and biases than the person whose testimony was being written. Finch refers to documents created by white officials at the time as “fictitious” due to their deeply biased and violent nature. However, authors and historians have worked to read archival documents critically to understand a more nuanced perspective of biased material to complete a narrative of slave agency and insurrection.

In many scholarly analyses of La Escalera, Carlota is only mentioned briefly or left out entirely. For example, in Cuban historian José Luciano Franco's analysis of the Triunvirato rebellion, Carlota takes a backseat to the male leaders of the revolt. Similarly, in other texts on the rebellion like Ricardo Vazquez's Triunvirato – Historia de un Rincon Azucarero de Cuba and Manuel Barcia’s Seeds of Insurrection, Carlota is barely mentioned. While it is impossible to know exactly why Carlota’s impact has only been taken up by a relatively small number of scholars, her absence can serve to reify the traditional view of slave rebellion as a particularly masculine affair. The most common reference to Carlota throughout the literature is Cuba’s intervention in Angola, named after her as Operación Carlota. Additionally, testimonies of women and about women are scant in the archive. Due to Carlota’s sparse mentions and perhaps misrepresentation in the archive, as well as her absence from secondary sources, it is difficult to understand a holistic picture of her life and specific role in La Escalera.

The memory of Carlota

Long after Carlota’s death in the aftermath of the Triunvirato rebellion, her memory was mobilized by the post-revolutionary Cuban state. Cuba’s intervention in Angola in 1974 to aid in its independence struggle was named after the rebel slave woman, in an event known as Operación Carlota. Historian Myra Ann Houser and others have illuminated how Fidel Castro and his revolutionary government capitalized on Cuba’s enslaved and rebellious past to further their political aims. A key tenet of this line of thinking was Castro’s ideology of the oppressed rising up to defeat the oppressor, as enslaved people had done in Cuba throughout the 19th century. This attitude is exemplified in Cuban historian José Luciano Franco’s analysis of the Triunvirato rebellion, where he explicitly calls the slaves that incited rebellion in the 19th century “precursors” to the 1959 revolution. Franco cites Fidel Castro's own speeches linking Cuba's slave past to his revolutionary aims. This conceptualization of history as dialectical materialism characterized Castro's vision for Cuba and the thinking behind his revolutionary ideology, painting the United States as the ultimate imperial power and oppressor, and nations like Cuba and Angola as the oppressed rising up against it.

Using the name of an African-born Cuban slave woman in an intervention in Africa was no coincidence, either. Castro built upon this connection to show Cuba's intervention in Angola as a sort of homecoming, or vengeance, of the Afro-descendant population in Cuba. The revolutionary government mobilized this “claim to roots” in justifying its intervention in the African nation. The government tapped into its enslaved and rebellious past to highlight it as a natural precursor to the 1959 socialist revolution, and the continuous revolutionary spirit of 20th century Cuba. Castro's ability to do this rested on the particular conceptualization of race relations in Cuba at the time, which emphasized Cubanidad, or Cubanness, over racial identity. Ideas of nation-building took precedence over racial divisions, allowing Castro to conceptualize Cuba's African past as affecting all of its citizens equally in the 20th century, and thus justifying a “return” to Angola in the 1970s. By connecting the 19th century slave struggle for freedom, Cuba's 20th century fight against Western neocolonialism, and Africa's 20th century fight for independence, Carlota's memory proved a useful tool to advance Cuban revolutionary ideals.

Aside from Operación Carlota in Angola, Carlota came back onto the scene of public memory through UNESCO’s Slave Route Project. A memorial was erected in 1991 at the Triunvirato plantation where the rebellion took place, commemorating rebel slave leadership. The memory site at Triunvirato, according to the Cuban newspaper Granma, was erected to honor Carlota and the legacy Cuban slaves have had on Cuban society and culture today. The Slave Route Project is intended “to break the silence surrounding the slave trade and slavery that have concerned all continents and caused the great upheavals that have shaped our modern societies”. The project's goals are to better illuminate the history of slavery, understand what global transformations came from its legacies, and contribute to an international culture of peace.

In 2015, the Triunvirato memory site was used as the location to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Operación Carlota. This illuminates how Carlota's image in Cuban memory is intimately linked to the nation's intervention in Africa. In another Granma article, the aforementioned mobilization of Carlota's memory in the Cuban public sphere is reified – Carlota is exalted, and again referred to as a “precursor” to the socialist revolution of 1959. Carlota remains solidified in Cuban public memory as an embodiment of Cuban revolutionary ideals.
Chuni Kotal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chuni Kotal was a Dalit Adivasi of Lodha Shabar tribe, a Scheduled Tribes of India, who in 1985 became the first woman graduate among the Lodha Shabars.

Her death through suicide on 16 August 1992, after years of harassment by officials, united the Lodha Shabar community in a big way. Eventually her story was highlighted by noted writer-activist Mahasweta Devi in her book in Bengali, Byadhkhanda in (1994), ( The Book of the Hunter (2002))


Born in 1965, in village Gohaldihi, in Paschim Medinipur districtWest Bengal, into a poor Lodha family with 3 brothers and 3 sisters, Chuni Kotal survived a childhood of impoverishment to become the first woman from a 'primitive' tribe to complete High School. Thereafter, she got her first job as a Lodha Social worker in 1983 at Jhargram ITDP office, surveying local villages.

Eventually she graduated in anthropology from Vidyasagar University, in 1985. Two years after graduating, she was appointed as a Hostel superintendent at 'Rani Shiromoni SC and ST Girls' Hostel' at Medinipur, here again she had to face the social stigma attached with her tribe.

Trouble really began for her when she joined the Masters course (MSc) at the local Vidyasagar University. Here she was allegedly discriminated against university administrators, who refused to give her the requisite pass grades, despite her having fulfilled the criteria, who opined that a low-born person coming from a "criminal tribe", a Denotified tribe of India, hence did not have the social privilege and pre-ordained destiny to study "higher discourse" like the social sciences.[5] In 1991, after losing two years at the course, she complained, and a high level enquiry commission was set up by the state Education minister to no avail, once the fact that she belonged to a former criminal tribe came to light.


On 14 August 1992, frustrated by years casteist and racist harassment at Medinipur, she left Medinipur and went to meet her husband, Manmatha Savar, who had been working at Railway workshop at Kharagpur. They had known each other since 1981 and later married in 1990 through a court marriage; Manmatha was a high school graduate himself. It was here that she committed suicide on 16 August 1992, at the age of 27.

Her death became the focal point of immense political, human rights and social controversy in the media in West Bengal, and eastern India, where the discourse is traditionally Brahmin-Baniya dominated. However, her death did not receive the attention of Indian American social science professors as it did among Western social scientists who were studying the Indian caste system, like Professor Nicholas B. Dirks at Columbia University and Professor Jan Breman at the University of Amsterdam.

Upon her death, Bangla Dalit Sahitya Sanstha, Kolkata, organized a mass movement through different seminars and street corners, street play protesting against university teachers, on the street of Kolkata Since 1993, it organizes the Annual Chuni Kotal Memorial Lecture in Kolkata every year. Later a motivational video film has been produced on her life story by Department of Education, Govt. of India
C. K. Janu
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chekot Karian Janu

Chekot Karian Janu in 2012
Born 1970

Nationality Indian
Known for Sit-in Strike (2001)
Muthanga incident (2003)
Aralam Protests

Ck Janu (born 1970) is an Indian social activist.She is also the leader of Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha, a social movement that has been agitating since 2001 for redistribution of land to the landless tribal people in Kerala. The movement has positioned itself under the aegis of the Dalit-Adivasi Action Council. In 2016, she announced a new political party, Janathipahya Rashtriya Sabha, and contested the 2016 Kerala assembly polls in alliance with BJP, as a part of NDA from Sultanbathery unsuccessfully. The JRS left the NDA in 2018.


Janu was born in chekot, near Mananthavady, a tribal village, in Wayanad to poor tribal parents from Ravula community, called Adiya due to their historical background, one of the several tribal groups in Kerala who used to be indentured labourers. Adiya literally means slave and are mostly landless agricultural labourers. She did not have any formal education but learned to read and write through a literacy campaign that was conducted in Wayanad.

Janu started her career as a domestic servant at a local school teacher's house, at the age of seven, and spent five years there. By the age of 13, she started working as a labourer for a daily wage of Indian Rupess 2 (3.5 US cents). Later, she learned tailoring and started a small shop, which had to be closed down due to financial constraints.

C K Janu was influenced by her uncle P K Kalan, a member of Communist Party of India (Marxist), and became a part of the left party.. She became an activist through Kerala State Karshaka Thozhilali Union (KSKTU), associated with the Communist Party of India in the 1970s, who led a tribal uprising in Tirunelli forest in Wyanad, and speaking out from personal experience soon became identified as the voice of tribal people. She worked as a campaigner for the Union until 1987 when she quit the party, disillusioned because she felt the party was less interested in the cause of the tribal people.She then embarked on a tribal tour to understand their problems and to mobilise them for struggle.

The Unfinished Story of CK Janu

An autobiography, a small book consisting of only 56 pages, 'Janu: The Life Story of CK Janu, was published in Malayalam by DC Books in 2003. The book was later translated into English by N Ravi Shankar under the name, Mother Forest: The Unfinished Story of CK Janu.

Personal life

C K Janu is a single mother. The tribal leader adopted a three-year-old daughter from Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh and named her as C K Janaki. The mother and daughter stay at Panavally with Janu's mother and sister.
Chakali Ilamma
A Revolutionary Bahujan Woman

By Sanjeev Gumpenapalli

Telangana was made vulnerable with brutal colonial exploitation and the power dynamics of the regional feudal Kings. The Nizam of Hyderabad was no different than the white British men who terrorised and perpetuated utter violence in the region.

While violence was perpetrated in different forms and layers, women had been the easiest prey to state capitalist interests. But some women stood tall and valiant enough to dismantle the occupation by the British and Nizam governments. One among them was a Bahujan working-class woman Chakali Ilamma.

Chakali Ilamma is a revolutionary woman freedom fighter who took part and paved the way for women in the Telangana Armed Struggle. She fought for her land and set a platform for the oppressed to rise against the ruling class domination and occupation of land. She is one of the first women to dismantle the supremacy of the feudal lords of Telangana and has inspired various women to fight for their land and dignity.

Early life and marriage

Chityala Ilamma, commonly known as Chakali Ilamma, was born into a Bahujan family whose caste was Rajaka. They were known as Chakali in the Telangana region. This valiant freedom fighter was born on September 10, 1919 in Krishnapuram Village of Warangal District. Her family earned their daily bread only through their occupation assigned by the caste structure.

They served the upper caste feudal lords by washing their clothes. Her caste has become her surname as an empowering assertion. Carrying the caste in her surname is carrying her history of slavery which always indicated a history of bravery and celebration of her intolerance for upper caste feudalism. She thus asserted the history of violence that her community had to face by upper castes.

Chakali Ilamma was married off as a child to Chityala Narasaiah. They had five children. Since the couple lived in an economically backward condition, they had to continue with their caste occupation for their livelihood – they served the upper castes.

But Ilamma was determined to defy the slavery perpetuated by upper caste feudal lords and wanted to own land on which she could earn her bread. But she and her family had to go through a lot of hardship. The story of Chakali Ilamma reflects how land was monopolised by upper caste feudal lords and her story is the celebration of a Bahujan woman’s resistance.

Rebellion of her kind

Chakali Ilamma’s fight was not exclusive of feudalism but it is of gender equality and equality within women. She questioned and stood against upper caste women who equally perpetuated caste and class slavery by commanding the lower caste women to address them as Dora (addressed to the upper caste feudal landlord which reminds the oppressed about their inferiority in class and caste structures).

She was one of the first to question upper caste women’s supremacy and identified that caste and class plays a major role in every frame of life within gender. It is safe to consider Chakali Ilamma’s struggle as a study of intersectional feminism as well.

That Chakali Ilamma fought for land and food is a common notion, but she also fought for women. Not only did her struggle target upper caste feudal lords, but also masculinities that are ingrained in the mechanisms of violence. She has been constantly challenging the toxic masculinity of upper caste feudalism. She fought against mobs of men who always tried to assault her when trying to grab land from her.

Those were the times when resources including land were monopolised and in the stranglehold of few powerful, upper caste feudal lords. They grabbed lands from the lower strata of people. This had even lead to many struggles by the exploited. Bloodshed, gang rapes, sexual assault and institutional harassment were common then.

But Chakali Ilamma was determined to take 40 acres of land for Lease from Kondala Rao, a Landlord and she started to cultivate it. This came as a shock to the upper caste feudal landlords and the Nizam Government. This came as an insult because a Bahujan woman owned land.

The Patwari (a government official who keeps records regarding the ownership of land), Veeramaneni Seshagiri tried to coerce Ilamma to give up her work on her land and work in his land along with her family, which is a form of slavery. But she refused and denied his command.

While Ilamma was already a member of the Andhra Mahasabha (An organisation in erstwhile Hyderabad state of India who along with the CPI, launched the Telangana Movement), she was aware of the strategy that the landlords would come up with. They tried to grab her land through persistent physical attacks and trying to cut her crop away. Chakali Ilamma told them, “This is my land. This is my crop. Who is this Dora to take away my land and crop? It is only possible for you when I die”.

A Bahujan woman saying it to their face was a very brave move. This anguished them the most. On knowing that Chakali Ilamma joined the Communist Party of India, Visnoor Deshmukh (a ruler of a certain territory in Hyderabad state who is entitled to a portion of collected tax who is also a DORA) Ramachandra Reddy filed a false case against Chakali Ilamma and her family and got her husband and sons arrested.

But Ilamma was able to take this atrocious act by the Deshmukh to court in which the verdict came in favour of her. He then falsely used his power to transfer Ilamma’s land in his name and asked his servants to collect all the crop from Ilamma’s Land. But Ilamma, with the help of the Andhra Sabha members, had already cut the crop and hid it safely. She even had the land transferred back to her name.

But the suppression did not stop. The Deshmukh wanted to deprive her economically. He passed an order to burn her house down. The Patwari’s servants physically attacked her husband and gang-raped her Daughter. It is all sponsored by the Nizam Government. It was all with the support of the state, for the state has been an oppressor from its origins.

Chakali Ilamma took up pestles to show her anger and rage against the Dora. She destroyed the Patwari’s house and set up a cornfield on the same land. By doing so, she exhibited the power of the oppressed. She did not just set up a cornfield but a long-lasting symbol of resistance. It is a symbol of a Bahujan woman’s struggle. It is the historic symbol of the fight against slavery.

With Ilamma’s sheer courage and fight, CPI was able to attack the landlords and they redistributed the crop and wealth to the oppressed. It is Chakali Ilamma who made this happen. Her constructive struggle and idea of anti-slavery paved the path for justice. She lost her husband, who was brutally attacked by Dora.

She has been one of the greatest and most inspiring leaders of The Telangana Armed Rebellion in 1947. She took up arms to dismantle the atrocities of the then Nizam Government in connivance with British Imperialism. Chakali Ilamma’s rebellion inspired many women to stand strong to protect their lands from the Nizam‘s Army and landlords while still facing threats of sexual assault and their husbands being killed. Paving the way for the next generation and creating revolutionary communities, Chakali Ilamma passed away on September 10, 1985.
Chityala Ailamma
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Chityala Ailamma
Chakali Illama Statue

Personal details

Born : 26/09/1895
Krishnapuram village,Rayapaarthi, Warangal, Telangana

Died : 10/09/1985 (aged 90)
Palakurthi, Warangal, Telangana

Children : 4 sons 1 daughter

Chityala Ailamma,(Telugu: చాకలి ఐలమ్మ,Tamil: சாக்கிலி இல்லமா) or Chakali Ailamma (1895–1985) was an Indian revolutionary leader during the Telangana Rebellion. Her act of defiance against Zamindar Ramachandra Reddy, known as Visnoor Deshmukh, to cultivate her land became an inspiration for many during the rebellion against the feudal lords of the Telangana region.

Early life

Chityala Ailamma was born at Krishnapuram village in Rayaparthi mandal Warangal district, Telangana State, India. She belongs to Rajaka caste.


Chityala Ailamma was an activist and joined the Andhra Mahasabha as well as the Communist Party. She worked actively against the Nizam government and her house was the center for activities conducted against the feudal land lords who collaborated with the Nizam.

Personal life

Chityala Ailamma was married to Chityala Narsaiah and had four sons and one daughter.
Choudhary Sadhu Ram

Sadhu Ram later known as Choudhary Sadhu Ram Mastere, a Punjabi Dalit leader was born to a well known (Chamar) Shri Jawahar Mal of Village Domeli in Kapurthala in January 1909. As a child Sadhu Ram was admitted in the Khalasa High School Domeli. On achieving adulthood Shri Sadhu Ram established his good business. From the very childhood Sadhu Ram decided to work for the welfare of his community. The condition of the Dalits in those days was no good and majority of them worked as farm labour for Land holders at minimum wages. These poor Dalits were under age-old debt of the local Banias (Business men and money lenders). Poverty, illiteracy and hate were forced upon them by manmade religious norms. So Sadhu Ram decided to dedicate his life to remove these manmade miseries and free his brethren from the centuries old slur.

Later he prefixed his surname as “Choudhary” meaning village headman, landlord, Local leader, Chieftain or foreman. He worked with Mangoram Magowalia for establishment of Ad-Dharam in 1926. To put this movement on the firm footing its aims and objectives were to establish a separate religious identity for untouchables other than Hindus on the Philosophy of Dalit Saints particularly Guru Ravidas. Discrimination on account of castes was discarded saying it was manmade as God created every one equal. Sikh way of worship was adopted declaring following of the Hindu religious books likes Shastri, Spiritless, Prams and Vedas as sin. Jai Guru Dev was adopted as a wish for greeting. Later he broke away from Ad Dharma and joined Dr.Ambedkar’s movement SCF.

Again Master Sadhu Ram broke away from SCF and joined Indian National Congress in 1946. He met Babu Jagjivan Ram, who was a prominent Congress leader with nearness to Mahatma Gandhi. Babu Jagjivan Ram and other Dalit leaders had established in 1935, a pro-Congress Dalit organization named “All India Depressed Classes League”. Master Sadhu Ram joined this organization and was made convener of PEPSU State in 1954. Master Sadhu Ram was nominated by Congress Party in 1952 for General Election to contest his first election from Phagwara (G and SC) constituency for the PEPSU Legislative Assembly and got elected. He was made Deputy Home Minister for PEPSU. This opened the destiny doors for Master Sadhu Ram. In the second general elections held in 1957 he got elected in Lok Sabha from Jallandhar (G and SC) constituency. He got elected in 1962, 1967 and1971 for the Lok Sabha from Phillaur (R) constituency. Master Sadhu Ram continued serving in different capacities till he expired on 1st August, 1975. He shall be long remembered for his good work for the welfare of his people. Although he broke away from Dr. Ambedkar politically, but he continued to keep his ideals as his guide.

Chaudhary Sadhu Ram
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chaudhary Sadhu Ram, is an Indian politician and five-times Member of Parliament.

Chaudhary Sadhu Ram