Evolving humanity, emerging worlds
Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013
Caste, community and class identities of Dalits in a global context
Location Roscoe 1.009
Date and Start Time 08 Aug, 2013 at 09:00
This panel examines plurality of identities among Dalits in the context of modernity, class mobility, urbanization and globalization.
The papers in this panel primarily focus on how the Dalits have sourced various social, economic and political resources from the dissenting peripheries and marginal cultural traditions of Bhakti, Buddhist and socio-religious reform movements to construct a new community identity, reconstruct a cultural history, invent a liberation ideology. From a subjugated position of 'outcastes' in the caste hierarchy, the contemporary Dalits have deployed various mobility strategies to overcome caste inequality and oppression to achieve social, economic mobility and political power. A multipronged approach of social and economic mobility through modern education and employment facilitated the identity assertion and thereby resulted in creation of politico-cultural iliberation ideology that gained a global visibility and essentially defines the Dalits today.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Dalit Identity and its Economic, Cultural and Political Contexts
This paper focuses on changing contexts and articulations of Dalit identity historically.
Dalit identity is an outcome of various socio-cultural, economic and political developments. Articulations of Dalit identity both segmentary as well as wholistic have emerged in a political identity of Dalits today. A historical accounting of its varied usages reveals the political foregrounding that dominated the economic and cultural contexts of marginality.
The contemporary understanding of Dalit identity is essentially a political present with an equal emphasis on cultural and economic pasts and futures. Thus an analysis of Dalit identity requires focusing on Dalits as a cultural 'community', an economic 'class' and political 'formation'.
The Separate Telangana Movement and The Role of Subaltern Classes
This paper tries to focus on the participation of subalterns in separate Telangana state movement, focusing on the critical role played by them and the various forms of their participation.
The separate Telangana movement, after a decade of relentless struggle, has picked up momentum once again under the leadership of TRS (Telangana Rastra Samithi). Prior to that, several groups, individuals and opinion makers tried to mobilize and create the consciousness among the masses towards the formation of separate Telangana state. After the formation of TRS, the movement has become more strengthened as it got political support and active participation of activists, writers, singers, students, intellectuals, etc.
It is, in fact, the enormous participation of subaltern classes in the movement through writings, songs and invoking the powerful folk tradition made the movement more democratic and inclusive. The students and youth from various universities in Telangana particularly are from the subaltern classes, in fact, a vast majority of them are from Dalit, tribal and OBC communities; having a certain ideological background; and are active participants of the Dalit movement. This overwhelming participation of the subalterns made the leaders of the movement to incorporate their preference of achieving a democratic Telangana state not merely the territorial state and further it made the political parties to come up with a pro-Dalit, minority and OBC manifesto in their political campaign. In fact it is the participation of subalterns further ensured the democratic culture within the movement and created a consciousness among the Dalits about their democratic rights, decency, dignity, equality and fraternity, which are enshrined in the UDHR and Indian constitution. Thus, it is argued that the movement is able to influence the state primarily because there is a space to get people's consent from the region by participating in the elections and take part in the people's agitations.
The paper argues that the political parties representing the separate Telangana demand made use of this space and thereby coordinated with other organizations and activists. Thus, the paper tries to assess the development agenda of political parties to develop the Dalits and other subaltern classes in a separate state.
'Caste, community and cultural identities of Dalits in Karnataka'
The present paper tries to capture the modern angst of Dalits as a community who took upon themselves to steer a different path towards modernity in India. It tries to draw the Karnataka experience of Dalit communities to show that the massive movement of Dalits advocated a cultural revolution.
The multifarious effects of the cultural process of 'modernisation' in India could be seen in its diverse communities. The effects of this process need not be assumed as symmetrical. For, the Dalits in India had been at the receiving end of the cultural process of modernisation in India and specifically in Karnataka.
Therefore the present paper tries to capture this modern angst of Dalits as a community who took upon themselves to steer a different path towards modernity in India. Caste system in India shapes the social, economic and political life of all communities in India. The classical 'Indian village' was the social universe in which the value frame and social structure of caste was reproduced. The Indian translation of this classical model of evolutionary change, it was expected that the processes of industrial development and urbanization were expected to weaken the traditional frames and give way to secular, class-like, associational groupings based on individual interests and identity. In other words, caste was to disappear and disintegrate on its own, without any direct political or developmental intervention.
It is in this context the paper tries to draw the Karnataka experience of Dalit communities to show that their struggle against the practice of untouchability mobilized itself into a massive movement of Dalits that advocated a cultural revolution. It was to the credit of Dalit and progressive writers like Dr. Siddalingaiah, the Padmasree Awardee Devanur Mahadeva and hosts of others who definitely carved out a different path of liberation. This unraveled the dynamics of caste in the modern civil society that claimed secularist democracy in India. Therefore, the Dalit movement contested and resisted the caste ideology that gave way towards reimagining their community identities in a different way.
The Dombo: an Ethnographic study of a Dalit Community in South Odisha
The purpose of this paper is to analyse the contemporary economic, political, social and cultural characters of the Dombo a Scheduled Caste in South Odisha.
In Odisha the numbers of Scheduled Castes are ninety-three (93), out of ninety-three the Dombo is the third largest group among the scheduled castes in Odisha. The bulk of their population is concentrated in the south part of Odisha comprising, districts of Undivided Koraput and Kalahandi. In these localities, they have been known as weavers, drum beater and messengers. In the feudal society and during the British rule, the Dombos served as village watchmen (Gramarakhi or Choukidar). There were a Choukidar or Gramarakhi in every village and his duties were to control the village at night, report the cases of death, birth, suicide homicide and other law and order problems occurring in the village at the nearest police station carry messages of birth death etc. of upper caste to their relatives, disposed of carcasses of cattle and attend the dignitaries and visiting officials. He used to announce any news concerning the public by the beat of drums and assist the Gauntia or village headmen in matters of revenue collection and day to day administration of the village affairs. The Gramarakhi or Choukidar was an important person at the village level in the feudal administration.
They are surviving representatives 'one of the indigenous people of India' Being outcaste, they are never allowed to live within a village, but have their own little hamlet adjoining a village proper, inhabited by people of various upper caste. They also work as professional pipers and drummers and are employed as musicians in marriage ceremonies.
Intervening on behalf of the Present Caste Equality Struggle: Reworking History and Myth in Contemporary Plays
The theatre as an aesthetic and social process responds to the contemporary happenings of the society and it turn moulded by it. Caste, a birth centred social hierarchy, that is in place in India has also evoked several struggles in the contemporary times to eradicate the system. Literature has produced enormous works in relation to caste politics in the form of poetry, novels, short stories, autobiographies, articles, criticism, plays etc. Several progressive thinkers and writers have tried, in their works, to unearth, from an unconventional approach, the dehumanized practices and have given a new dimension to the thinking on caste. The Kannada theatre/literature has also engaged itself with this phenomenon of caste and struggle against it. Kuvempu in his ‘Shudratapasvi’, P.Lankesh in his ‘Sankranti,’ Girish Karnad in his ‘Taledanda’ and H.S. Shivaprakash in ‘Mahachaitra’ have countered the traditional caste politics by rereading the history and literature. As a result the outcastes, the untouchables, the cornered people have come came to the center of writing/stage. Once neglected and unsung heroes have attained prominence in their plays.
This paper tries to bring in how these playwrights have incorporated the theme of caste politics in their plays. Kuvempu,in his play, which is a reworking of a story from Ramayana, asserts that every individual is entitled to meditate (study) irrespective of caste, P.Lankesh in his 'Sankranti' depicts the picture of how the untouchables are being manipulated by the upper caste people, Girish Karnad in his 'Taledanda' pictures the brutal killing of the people who tried to bring in equality in the society and H.S. Shivaprakash in 'Mahachaitra' describes the way the Sharanas try to protect their lives with help of weapons which is against their practice of non-violence.
Patriarchy, Caste and Urbanization: Locating Women of Scavenging Caste in India
This paper explores the pattern of social mobility among womenfolk of scavenging caste in the context of growing urbanization in India. Further the paper tries to emphasize on two issues of special concern regarding the status of women from scavenging caste i.e. the gendered division of labour that expose women to specific forms of untouchability and sexual oppression in the unorganized sector.
In the third world countries in general and India in particular, with the on going procees of urbanization, women irrespective of caste and class form a sizeable proportation of those who migrate from rural to urban areas in the hope of better livelihood options and life opportunities. But very soon these women especially those belonging to the scheduled caste find out that urban living / working conditions are inhuman, debasing and hostile and often permeated with the three axis of marginalization namely, patriarchy, caste discrimination and capitalist culture. They bear the brunt of the ongoing transformation of traditional structures of the society as well as an overall encompassing consumerist culture on the pretext of urbanization forcing women to be part of the unorganized sector resulting in a regime of insecure tenure and forced eviction.
This paper maps out the interplay between caste, gender and urbanization and tries to locate the Scheduled Caste women manual scavenger in the context of urbanization. Further, it analyses as to how it enlarges or restricts the mobility and agency of women in general and women manual scavengers in particular. It provides insights into the ways in which the trio of caste system, patriarchy and capitalism operate together and continue to marginalize women in the urban sphere.
The triple burdened
This paper will present the pathetic condition of the lower caste women of india. The upper caste women are suppressed by only their men in the society but the women of the lower caste women are suppressed by the men of upper caste, the women of upper caste and the men of their own community.
Caste system has divided India. Discriminations are there in other places like racial discrimination or rich and poor but this discimination is totally different from them here human beings are not treated as human beings even animals are shown affection but not the people of the low caste.This discrimination is so skin deep that even today its impact can be seen especially the women of the low caste. If a women of high caste is raped or humiliated this becomes a news and debates take place but daily every one hour a women from the low caste is raped but no one talks about it. She is punished if a upper caste boy loves her there are many such sufferings of the indian low caste women which i want to project in this conference were the august gathering can ponder over this issue and know about the pathetic condition of this women.
Emergence of a New Political Aspiration and Social Change: A Case of BSP Politics and Its Impact on Dalit Women in Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh
This paper will try to study the linkages of gender and traditional social structure and role of politics in altering their position in the context of BSP politics of social change in Uttar Pradesh.
Modern political institution has played a great role in redefining the social structure of the society. To recognize the subaltern's role and their empowerment is going to bring in the real essence of modern institutions. To examine the traditional order like caste in India is a remarkable parameter to locate the role of modern political institution. The subaltern position can be understood by studying the situation of dalit women in UP.
Post 1991 era has witnessed many series of changes in socio-economic structure of the Indian society. There were also many drastic changes which were happening in the subaltern politics. In Uttar Pradesh the emergence of BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) has created a new space for the marginalized sections of the society. It has given new politico-ideological structure for the aspiration of the people who were at the lower strata of the society. Identifying the power politics of the society and its bases within the state would definitely ensure the dalit women to enjoy a new type of political aspiration thereby creating their own space within the society. In this connection this paper is going to understand the role of a political party and its agenda in the transformation of the society.
The paper will mainly focus on the situation of women in Pratapgarh district, which is well known for their backwardness and feudal structure of society. Accordingly the paper will try to study the linkages of gender and traditional social structure and role of politics in altering their position. It will also try the impact of socio-political order existing in India which is governed by the old principal of Hindu ideological base and the need to locate the role of modern institution in transforming the caste-based traditional institutions. The central aim of the study is to focus on the modern institutional role and their capacity to transform the social position of dalit women.
Situating Dalits in Urbanizing India: The Dilemma of Segregation-Discrimination and Desegregation
In the proposed paper, spatiality and socio-spatial aspects of the caste, particularly the Dalits, is the primary focus. The aim of the paper is to trace the trajectory of socio-spatial segregation of Dalits in the contours of urbanizing India. The paper proposes that there is an involuntary socio-spatial compartmentalization in the urbanizing India that functions through the institution of caste. Combined with various socio-cultural and economic factors, socio-spatial segregation of Dalits in Indian society leads to exclusion and marginalization.
Graded inequality, spatial organization and hierarchical access to various societal and natural resources is a distinctive feature of Indian society which is based on the caste system. There are several contexts, arenas and structures in which disadvantages of caste discrimination are internalized and articulated in the formal and informal structures of the nation and its cultures. The processes of industrialization and urbanization have definitely contributed to the growth of slums and ghettos in India but the salient feature of socio-spatial segregation in India is its linkage to caste system. The main objective is to trace out the socio-spatial segregational patterns of Dalits in the urban population and to see the socio-spatial relations of the Dalits to their neighborhood. In the context of caste system associated with strong socio-spatial segregation, the paper tries to delineate the extent to which the urbanization process strengthens the desegregation or segregation and discrimination to Dalits.
Rural Development and its Exclusive Approach towards Dalits in India
This paper focuses on the exclusion of dalits in the developmental process in India.
The proposed paper deals with the questions of exclusion of dalits in development process in rural India. Rural India constitutes 70 percent of population where dalits are marginalized and excluded in the development process and bears the brunt of caste prejudices day in and day out. Nearly 70 per cent of the dalit farmers are marginal farmers and 50 percent of the dalit population lives below poverty line. Most of the dalits are landless labourers and around 60 per cent of the dalits are still illiterate. Economic upliftment of this section still remains a major challenge before the Indian state. The success of popular participation involves structural problems in India.
Caste stratification has left the dalits not only economically backward but also socially vulnerable. This social milieu acts as an obstacle in ensuring participation of dalits in developmental activities. Participation for dalits at present means following the upper and dominant castes blindly, without questioning them. The rural development strategy/plans so far have lead to vertical mobility in the society and increase in social inequality. Keeping in mind the rise in rural poverty and the need to control fiscal deficits, the rural development plans here onwards should try to largely focus on the development of the dalits and other historically marginalised sections. However, the whole developmental process, as the paper proposes, has also added displacement, discrimination, disparity and deprivation. Efforts have to be made to understand and incorporate the problems and sufferings of dalits while framing rural development strategies.
Contingency of Identities: A Paradox of Dalit Identity and Struggle for Social Justice
This paper aims at providing a critical evaluation of the paradox of Dalit Identity and the struggle for social justice. Paper will also attempt to understand what is the ontological basis for such Identity and how to address injustice through.
The obvious accepted fact is that society is a dynamic phenomena. So there are no fixed identities, one may have multiple and fluid identities. But in the case of identities manifested in the political realm has to be understood differently. This paper aims to focus on the trajectory of Dalit Identity and its ramifications. Dalit Identity has emerged as a recent social phenomena in contemporary political discourse. Politics of Dalit Identity, with the outfit of social justice, has mobilized the socially marginalized and outcast people to carve out the political space in order to reclaim their due rights and gains. Here lies the paradox of Dalit Identity and Social Justice. It is obvious fact that one has to claim one's due gains on the basis of certain identity but if identity gets immortalized, it throws away the weight it has gained in political discourse. I would like to argue that certain social identities are necessary to claim their due in unequal and hierarchical society but it also becomes the logical impediment as to revert it to its originary point. This paper will focus on the debates in detail and try to look forward a way ahead.
Assessing the Role of AGVY as a Developmental initiative in Promoting Equity and Social Justice: A study of selected Ambedkar villages of Uttar Pradesh
The paper is based on assessing the role of AGVY in promoting equity and social justice among the Dalits of selected Ambedkar villages of Sonbhadra District, Uttar Pradesh.
The state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) is one of the largest states and also has the highest number of scheduled caste population in the country. The government of UP with its social justice approach has come up with an exemplary development initiative for the upliftment of Dalits called Ambedkar Gram Vikas Yojana (AGVY) by providing them with better infrastructure. This paper focuses on AGVY as a development initiative and explores whether there has been improvement in socio-economic and health status of Dalit women as a result of AGVY. The paper is based on exploring the following questions:
1- What is the socio-economic background of Dalit women in the study area?
2- Has AGVY played any role in promoting equity and social justice? If yes, to what extent?
3- Has AGVY played any positive role in achieving and/or promoting equity in health and education?
The paper is based on a micro level study conducted in two selected Ambedkar villages (by using composite index) of Sonbhadra District, Uttar Pradesh during the year 2010. For the purpose of interview, a total of 90 Dalit Women were selected by purposive sampling. Data was collected by using in-depth interviews, case-studies, group-discussions and observations. The study shows that after the implementation of the AGVY in both the villages, there has been significant improvement in the living condition, communication, electricity, sanitation and education.However, intra caste disparities were observed among the Dalits of selected villages.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.