Chandamama Morality

Chandrabhan Prasad does an uncool somersault towards the end of his column. Just when you felt Mayawati deserved a place not just among the great social revolutionaries, but also in Madame Tussads wax museums, he flips like a trickster.

So why this chaste beating and all-round condemnation on Maya´s monuments? While two-facedness of the mainstream society is rather well known, the question remains, who advised Mayawati to put up her own statues? Maya in stones has robbed the living Maya off the moral mandate the UP society her accorded on her. What a monumental mistake.

It is easier to label Chandrabhan Prasad a saffron stooge, or S. Anand a caste-hindu after all (criticism to Anand in next post to keep this one short). I often do that. But nobody would waste one’s hard-earned credibility appearing overly credulous supporter of Mayawati/BSP, at least no one whose commercial viability depends on it. That strange self-righteousness is also reflected by people who consider themselves thoughtful participants of Dalit movements and extend moral support to BSP. So, instead of asking, “How can we extend (moral) support to (immoral/ridiculous/immodest) act of installing her own statues” we- the people of Chandamama morality – should ask, “is this really such a ridiculous/immoral/immodest thing?”

  • In every ceremony of laying a foundation stone or inauguration, the invited guest, almost always a caste-hindu, unveils a plaque that bears his/her own name- in bold, gold and most important letters.
  • There are at least two departments in IIT, Bombay, which were set up with the help of two alumni –caste hindus of course, which bears their own name. The students who pass out will bear their name throughout their lives, even when these two benevolent alumi cease to contribute both to their lives and to the departments. There must be thousands of such examples.
  • Many of the celebrities run foundations of some sorts of their own name.
  • There are numerous legends, stories, purans, where the gods themselves order the kings/queens/common people to build their statues and temples, in dreams or through the Brahmins.

I could go on. No one ever questioned these large scale self-promotion. Was it because the magnified proximal utility of the projects, where they stood a chance – however minuscule, – to be benefited, makes the immodesty invisible? What is wrong, if Mayawati wants to be remembered, for creating those monuments, not to mention the credibility to Indian democracy she brought, not in letters carved in stones but in statues. To me this uneasiness is very Brahminical, a moral set up by them, exemplified by them, which no one is allowed to break. We Dalit must let it go. It’s time to quit Chandamama.

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Backstory of Statues

It is rather insipid, the incessant attack on Statues and Memorials, the newspapers telling us how many hundreds of crores are spent, as if the money is stashed away in the infamous “swiss banks”; how the CM’s pet projects never end, as if bridges and roads come up overnight in India-they rather go down; how the workers are paid minimum wage, as if there is a concept of ethical-structure/buildings in India; how some labourers died, thats serious i agree. The chattering class didnt just object the grand statues in lucknow because of the expenses, but also to the proliferation of blue jacket and glasses clad, constitution carrying Ambedkar statues all over India. This can mislead you, as to what are they really opposed to. I have tried to answer it in the light of BSP’s political strategy in this new blog Round Table.

But Chidambaram’s criticism was repugnant. To Chidambaram, I have this to say,

“Since no one will do it for a dalit, we got to blow our own trumpets. Since dalits don’t want to go to temples, we want to create our own pilgrim centers. Since this country hasn’t produced many wealthy dalit businessman and industrialists, we will use govt. money.”

And I am making a list of shamefuls in Indian politics.

Whitewashing Caste Atrocities

“It is better a 100 guilty persons should escape than one innocent person should suffer”

This anonymous quote (often wrongly attributed to Gandhi) in no way presents the belief of Indian judicial system. But it is an euphemistic representation of the non-existent ‘culture of tolerance’ and/or righteousness in India. Viewed from the perspective of caste conflict, where Dalits are always at the receiving end, this translates into “better 100 perpetrators of atrocity walk free, no caste-hindu should be punished”. Kheirlanji is but just one such case.

Thats the only way I can think of not saying the entire system is not-casteist. In Kheirlanji case there were 46 people arrested, 11 charge-sheeted, 2 got life sentence, 6 got death penalty. This is a process of elimination, which also filtered out two serious charges, ” caste atrocity” and “rape”.

The court can claim lack of evidence, the CBI can’t, the public prosecutor can’t !! Be it sloppy investigation, perfunctory persecution or a caste-blind court, the truth is that “women don’t just get killed, not even in a war”. And when it comes to families being lynched where a mob participates as if it were a festival of sorts, the victims are always Dalits (OK, sometimes christians and muslims). The perpetrators’ caste can be anything, as long as they rank theirs higher. That is their trump card to acquittal. It is amazing to look into the data. Only 5% cases reach court !! That means 95% cases, a dalit lodges an FIR under SC/ST POA only to find that the her perpetrators pay her a ‘courtesy visit’ with their new-found impunity (or at least roam scotfree). Of the 5% the conviction rate is an abysmal 15.71 % (against a general i.e IPC rate of 40%). That makes the actual conviction rate less than 1 % !!! [link]. That was in 2001-2002. However, NCRB shows the cargesheeting rate (i.e the rate at which a registered complaint reaches court) is 91.3 % (SC) and 95.9 % (ST), and the conviction rate 27.8 % (SC) and 28 % (ST). [link]. That suggests a huge number of atrocities go unreported.

In such scenario, when the court criticizes out-of-court reactions (of dropping ‘rape and ‘POA’ charges) saying, ‘do such people know the law and evidences’ [link], I can only laugh. We know the Truth, do you ?

A Festival of Dalit Art and Culture

..a two-day long programme (On March 15th and 16th) is being celebrated in Delhi at Constitution Club Lawn, Rafi Marg, New Delhi. Here is the schedule.

DAY ONE: 15TH MARCH

TIMINGS ACTIVITY

2:00 PM to 5:30 PM GODNA Art Exhibition

5:30 PM Inauguration of Utsava by

Chief Guest, Smt. Shiela Dixit

Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi

6:00 PM Commencement of the Cultural Evening:

Opening Address by the Chairperson,

Mr. Martin Macwan

6:15 PM to 6:45 PM Folk Dance by REDS – Karnataka Cultural Group

6:45 PM to 7:15 PM Sufiyana Performance by Mehar Chand Mastana by

Punjab Cultural Group

7:15 PM to 7:45 PM Dhobiya Dance Performance by

Uttar Pradesh Cultural Group

7:45 PM to 8:15 PM ‘Bhavai’ Performance on “Mahavir Meghmaya” by

Gujarat Cultural Group

8:15 PM to 8:45 PM Performance by Dalit women Theatre group by

Andhra Pradesh Cultural Group

8:50 PM to 9:20 PM ‘Gigatham’ Performance by Vizthugal Tamil Nadu

Cultural Group

DAY TWO: 16TH MARCH

12:00 AM to 5:30 PM GODNA Art Exhibition

5:30 PM Valedictory Function: Chief Guest

Dr. Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission

5:45 PM to 6:15 PM Kalbeliya Dance Performance by

Rajasthan Cultural Group

6:15 PM to 6:45 PM ‘Bhoomigeetham’ Performance by Navchetana –

Kerala Cultural Group

6:45 PM to 7:15 PM Folk Dance by Jharkhand Cultural Group

7:15 PM to 7:45 PM Play “Yaad Karo Qurbani” by Apna Theatre –

Uttar Pradesh Culutral Group

7:45 PM to 8:15 PM Ghumra Dance Performance by Orissa Cultural Group

8:15 to 8:30 ‘Powda’ Performance by Maharashtra Cultural Group

8:30 PM to 9:00 PM Folk Dance by Chhattisgarh Cultural Group

9:10 PM Closing of the Event

P.S- Ghumra Dance is a folk dance of Kalahandhi. I grew up watching that dance every year twice. Once in the afternoon of Nuakhai, the harvest festival that actually now comes much before harvest and once during Dussehra, when Ghumra competitions are held, a kind of tournament that goes on all night long.

Technically, the music instrument is called Ghumra. It is a earthen pot with slender long neck. And sound is produced by beating the membrane that covers the mouth. It is tied to each dancers waist and reaches upto their chest, so he can play it synchronising with the dance. The dancers are handsomely dressed up, with glittering stuff and all, but the most important is the headgear. It is a typical Pagdi, that has lots of peacock feathers perched on it. The dancers can easily glide through the streets to houses from houses singing and beating Ghumra, as they dance in two lines, usually both singing romantic songs to each other-now mostly the Krisna-Radha type. Its a all male dance, now. Sometimes, there would be a lead singer, and a drummer-actually called Domb-baja, ostensibly named after the Domb caste or a dholakia-the guy who carries the two-headed indian drum, that is a bit tapering towards both sides from the center.

Mahaparinirvan Divas

(Warning : Long article)

Before Ambedkarism, I had slowly thought myself into denouncing rituals, when I was much younger, then I became an “atheist”. That makes it difficult to accept or perform rituals, or adorn my walls with photos of Buddha and Ambedkar, do Vipasana when ambedkarism is becoming synonymous with Buddhism. That, again, might be one of the reasons I have not gone to pay homage to Babasaheb in last five years but religiously participated in last three marathons (actually half-marathons).

Then on 5th Dec this year, I received a call from one of my highschool classmates. “Some 25 of us from our village have come to chaitya bhoomi. 15 of us, from from our caste only”. I was surprised, and happy too. Last time I interacted with the dalits of my village, mostly people of my caste, they had not found any appeal in Ambedkar yet. That I count as a failure of my father. He was a man proud of many things. He was a radical Ambedkarite, and would go any length to foment Ambedkarism. And our village neither had a statue of Ambedkar, nor did celebrate April 14th, nor anyone discussed about it, except probably my father. Its not difficult to see why ? But this essay is not about that.

So 5th of Dec. was a sleepless night for me. I kept thinking of the unseen forces that made the transformation possible. Also I made some plans to introduce some important people to the visitors, from Bombay and from different places from Orissa. Educate, agitate and Organise, thats the motto isn’t it !! Continue reading