Sunday, November 9, 2014

Satyamev Jayate - Season 3 | Episode 6 | When Masculinity Harms Men

When Masculinity Harms Men
95% of incidents of violence in India are committed by men.
The final episode of Season 3 examines why this is the case and how
deeply-entrenched notions of masculinity affect attitudes towards women. The
episode also helps explain the larger violence we witness in society, be it in
incidents of road rage, ragging or acid attacks. It explores how fixed notions
of masculinity are shaped and how they victimize not only those at the
receiving end, but men themselves as well.

On youtube:

Guest profile:
Dr Lenin Raghuvanshi grew up in Uttar Pradesh where he saw
unequal relationships between men and women, with the men being stronger,
violent and controlling of the women. He chose a different path for himself and
went on to become one of the founding members of People's Vigilance Committee
on Human Rights, a Varanasi-based NGO which works for the upliftment of the
marginalized sections of the society. He is also a Dalit rights activist.
Email: | Website:

How masculinity ends up crippling men, depriving them of
expressing normal human emotions like love, pain and vulnerability is the focus
of this segment. Five men originally from the U.P.-Haryana regions talk about
how they were taught by their own families to suppress their instincts and
conform to a certain stereotype of being male and how this manifested in their

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Satyamev Jayate - Season 3 | Episode 4 | We Recommend | Sickness looms

Gulam Sarvar belongs to a community of weavers in
Benaras who are renowned for weaving Benarasi saris through generations. But
nowadays, the community is receiving attention for another reason: TB.
“Initially I was not feeling hungry, then I started coughing and having fever,”
says Sarvar. “Then I became really weak and was bed-ridden and could not work
anymore.” Gulam was infected with TB.

This is not just the story of Gulam Sarvar. There
are thousands of such weavers who are becoming a victim of this disease. Around
30% of the population is infected with TB. It is easy for the weavers to get
infected because of the dingy spaces they work out of. There is not much light
or fresh air in the rooms where the looms are and the conditions are perfect
for the TB bacteria to come into full form. The dust, the smoke and the fibre
also add to the hazardous mix which brings down their immunity – priming them
for an attack.

Malnutrition is another reason why the weavers'
immunity is low. What worsens the state of the patients is the lack of proper
medical attention and facility. On one hand the government officials are
negligent and the other is the problem of patients going to quacks instead of
trained health professionals. This is aggravated by the poverty of the weavers.
“We take the medication for as long as we can afford it,” says Badarunisha. But
can we afford to leave these weavers to their fate?

Few link of PVCHR initiative on TB:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Asia's most prestigious contemporary art festival begins in South Korea

The Gwangju Biennale, started in September 1995 in the city of Gwangju in the South Jeolla province of South Korea, is Asia's first and most prestigious contemporary art biennale.

Founded in memory of the 1980 civil uprising and the Gwangju Democratisation Movement, the event showcases a global perspective on contemporary art.

Ideas of destruction and renewal lie at the heart of 2014 Gwangju Biennale, one of the world’s best-attended contemporary art festivals. Hosted by the Gwangju Biennale Foundation and the Gwangju Museum of Art, the special project ‘Sweet Dew-since 1980’, is a combination of lectures, exhibitions,and performances. All this is done to create a new platform for discourses on visual cultures.

As a part of this project, the lecture series will seek to analyse the current state of reality in Korea, Asia, Europe, and the United States through testimonies and debates over issues of energy and environmental crises; the spread of neo-liberalism; transformation of the relations between capital, labour, and the arts and the ongoing violence perpetrated by the state and threat to democratic values. This lecture series not only tries to understand our present reality, but also to articulate our desires for the future and form the basis of the forthcoming Gwangju Manifesto.

Open to the public from September 5- November 9, the event has the theme 'Burning down the House'.

The works on exhibition explore subjects that challenge the status quo, including that of labour and gender issues as well as a loss of folklore traditions in Asia’s contemporary commodity culture, according to artistic director Jessica Morgan. The theme is a nod to a song by US. art-rock group the Talking Heads.

I, Lenin Raghuvanshi (Leader of the social Movement for the untouchable people, India), am going to present my paper titled ‘Crisis of democracy and the Caste System in India’ during the International symposium on ‘Globalisation and the Crisis of Democracy’. Similarly the other panelists for the symposium on 19 September are: Young-Suk Lee (Professor of English Language and literature Gwangju University, Korea), Peter Bohmer (Professor of Economics at Evergreen State College, US), Michalis Spourdalakis (Professor of Political Science at University of Athens, Greece), Pyeong-Eok An (Professor of International Relations at Daegue University, Korea), Ken Ishida (Professor of History of International Politics at Chiba University, Japan), Jie-Hyun Lim (Professor of History at Hanyang university, Korea) and Michael Kim (Professor of International Studies at Yonsei University, Korea).

In my paper, I write, “India is a land of diversity with a great and long history populated by many different peoples, from many different origins, and who have many different religious, political and philosophical views. Many abuses are committed against peoples due to their caste or their religion and nature is more and more systematically ransack for privates interests."

The main problems facing the country came from two things. First is the implementation of a ‘culture of impunity based on mind of caste with silence’, which arose from a shared belief that a few can act without being accountable for their actions, be it at the social, economic or political levels. Secondly, the problems arose from the meeting of this cognitive problem with the market democracy and economic globalisation.”

Rabindranath Tagore puts it the right way in Geetanjali:
Where the mind is without fear
and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been
broken up into fragments
by narrow domestic walls; ...
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit; ...
Into that heaven of freedom,
my Father, let my country awake.

Details about Gwangju Biennial 2014:

Official patrons:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Ministry of Education, Science and Technology / Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism / Ministry of Security and Public Administration / Korea Customs Service / Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education

Official sponsors:
Gwangju Shinsegae Department Store / Kwangju Bank / Asiana Airlines / Kumho Buslines
Promotional sponsors:
Shinhan Card / Ramada Plaza Gwangju / Holiday Inn Gwangju / Kumho Resort / Gwangju Family Land / Joongwoe Happy Land / SK Planet / Korail / Gwangju Convention & Visitors Bureau / WeMakePrice / Bohae

Artist commissions:
The International Production Fund 2014: Outset USA, Outset England, Outset Netherlands, NEON Organization for Culture and Development, D. Daskalopoulos / PKM Gallery / Fondation Saradar / Naver / Laura Rapp and Jay Smith / Dakis Joannou / Fundació Per Amor a L’Art / Yana and Stephen Peel / Ross Sappenfield / SBS Culture Foundation / National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea / Gallery Koo / Academy of the Arts of the World, Cologne / Maryam Eisler / Fondation Nationale des Arts Graphiques et Plastiques, Paris-France, FNAGP

Institutional support:
Naver Corporation / SAHA Association / British Council / Institut Français / Canada Council for the Arts
National Arts Council Singapore / Japan Foundation / Acción Cultural Española, Gobierno de España / US Embassy Seoul

Links for more information:


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Is this the price for being Musahar?

My name is Harinath Mushahar and I am 50 years old. I am son of Late Shyama Mushahar. I live in Barji village, Post: Nayapur, Police Station: Phulpur, Block: Badagaon, Tehsil: Pindra, District: Varanasi. My wife is Gulabi Mushahar. I had 2 sons, Mulayam, 20 and Subhash, 10, both of them died ten years back due to disease. My daughter, Meena Mushahar, who is 25 year old is married and has children.

Apart from working in the field as a landless labourer, I make leaf plates and sell it for making a living. Suddenly, on February 1988, just 2 days after Basant Panchami, I was sleeping under the thatched roof along with my family members. Just at around 4 a.m. there was a knock at the door, when my wife opened the door, she saw the police. Seeing the police, she started trembling in fear and ran towards me to inform. Without waiting for any response, then 2 policemen barged inside and pounced on me, grabbing my arms wanted to take me to the police station. Then I asked, “Why you are taking me to the police station?” Then, a policeman retorted back, “Keep quite, bastard, would you go or I have to bash you.” Then, my wife pleaded but it fell on deaf ears. When they pulled me outside, then I saw Ramdev Yadav, Rambali, Vikrama Pehlwan, Kanhaiya, Dr. Bhaiyalal telling the police, ‘Arrest Lalman’. Seeing them Lalman was trying to flee. Lalman and I, both of us were taken Phulpur police station.               

The facts are that at around prior to our arrest, at around 11 pm my brother Lalman was asked to pull on the rickshaw. My brother had just come after seeing off her daughter and told, “I am perpetually tired and can’t go.” Then, he retorted back. “I would teach you a lesson.” He went away. On that night there was a theft and we were arrested. After police took us to the lock up, my wife rushed to panchayat pradhan Shiv Babu Yadav for help. He told, “What we can do? There has been theft so police has taken them into custody.”    

Reached Phulpur police station I was wearing a vest, while raining incessant blows with wooden stick, shouted on me, “You have committed theft.” I responded, “No Sahab.” But they never talked beyond merciless beating. Police continued thrashing me for 8 days and pressurised me to fall on their and accept that we had committed the theft. When the police rained blows then I used to shout in pain, but then also they did not stop, till I got drained off. Then, they used to live me like a dead corpse. Many a times, they used to hang me from the ceiling, rained blows continuously blood oozed out from body, and then also they did not stop. One day the police beat me so mercilessly, that I lied comatose and unconscious for hours together. Four policemen were moving over my body and pounding with wooden stick as it seemed they were walking on the field but not over a human being.  While narrating the police’s savagery tears jerks out of my eyes.

There was no one to advocate for us. Whenever any high official visited the police station, police used to hide us. Due to continuous thrashing my fingers were fractured, legs swollen and I was not able to walk. Police used to give us one meal a day, it’s was quite difficult to take food, I used to writhe terribly in pain but then also neither they applied any ointment nor they gave any oral medicine for healing the wounds. The pain was unbearable. The place where I used to sleep, there was an obnoxious stink which kept me awake throughout the night. I was so disturbed when I think about those days in jail I feel awful. That time it seemed that I would not be able to walk alive back to my home.

Day and night, family’s worries used to bother me. I used to think, if my wife visits me in the lock up then she would be upset seeing my condition. On the eighth day I was sent to the jail. Then I stayed there for two and half months, where I was treated. When I was in jail, I became desperate enough to see my wife and children. It always crossed over my mind, what fate had befallen on me and I am suffering for whose sins, is it not that I am facing it for being born as a ‘Mushahar’      

Waiting for my bail I spent two and half months. After being released, I had to appear on the hearing of my case. Sindhora’s Mahender Singh was our advocate. Whatever I could save from my meagre earning by toiling in other’s fields I had to spend on my case. In the day time I was busy in my work and during the night I had to pass through anxious moments thinking that if I am punished then who would shoulder my children’s responsibilities. When I think about it I start perspiring. Day and night I toiled hard and could get my daughter married. Prior to my daughter’s marriage, Subhash died as water filled his stomach and triggered serious ailment.  When we took him to Basni Hospital for his treatment the doctor gave some tablets and told that the stomach water would be released through urine.

Ill-fate had befallen on us as due to impoverished condition my son was deprived of a proper treatment. As medicine vanish from Government hospitals, so my son also left this world. If he would have been alive then he would lend his helping hand in my hour of distress. His face is etched in my mind still I cannot comprehend the fact that he had died. It seems to me that he has gone somewhere soon he would come back but the reality was different. Losing son thereafter getting daughter married had increased my woes. Many a times, it came in my mind if I am punished then what would happen to my daughter, which would help in losing respect and esteem within the community. If a poor man like loses respect and admiration, then everything is lost for him. By one way or the other I could arrange some money and then I got my daughter married. After her marriage, the days passed by appearing in the court for the case.   

On 16th April 2002, the Court awarded imprisonment, which distanced me from my family members. On that day I and my brother, Lalman reached the Court in the morning. Our name was called after the Judge occupied his seat. My advocate asked us to stand at the dock. Then, he whispered something on Judge’s ear. At around 2 p.m. the court broke for the lunch and the Judge went away. Filled with fear, I went to the Judge then he told me, “Go I am coming. I trusted him and I came back to my seat.

Post lunch the Judge came. I was seeing towards the door, the advocate was coming or not. I was getting frightened. Court’s reader made an announcement for the post-lunch session. Then the Judge gave the ruling, “Sentenced for 10 years of imprisonment as booked under 382 and 459 IPC and penalty of Rs. 17,000.”

It was shocking for me, my face grew red, and I started sweating. Police took me to Chokaghat jail. After reaching the jail, in the night I could not sleep crossing over my mind how my family members would confront the situation. They did not know that I had been jailed. They were thinking that I might have gone to my sister’s house. Next day, they came to know about my 10 years of imprisonment. Gloom and sadness descended over my home. When they went to the advocate to ask him he just bluffed and told that we had asked to be forgiven so we were sentenced for 10 years of imprisonment. When it was narrated to me it hurt me terribly and started crying.

Some days after staying at Chokaghat jail I was shifted to Central jail. I was kept in No. 1 cell of the second barrack. I was assigned the job of cleaning the barrack and filling up water where the Pakistani prisoners were kept. In the morning my work finished at 10 a.m. and then I had to work from 2 to 5 p.m, which I had to do for two and half years. Where I stayed I had sweep the floor. But the toilet used to stink so badly. That obnoxious smell used to engulf my mind and it was difficult for me to consume food. I used to take just to keep myself alive. Whenever I sat for the meals, I used to think about my family members have they taken their food or not, my arms used to stop and tears fell down from my eyes

After two and half years, at Central jail’s Shivpur farm, 6 jail inmates were assigned the work of farming of 6 acres. Each prisoner had to do ploughing and weeding of an acre. During the cultivation of seasonal vegetables, cereals and food grains, hundreds of prisoners were mobilised. After putting up a hard toil covering whole of the day we were given Rs. 10 as a daily wage. On Sundays, we had to work but we were not paid single paise. When I asked twice why we were not paid wages for the work done on Sundays, then they responded Sundays are holidays so we do not pay. I used to think, are there holidays in jail but I could not ask them out of fear. We used to toil hard for 30 days in the month but 15days were entered in the register and 15 percent from our wages went as commission to the contractor. 

At that time, I used to think ‘what a fate had befallen on me!’ Many a times I cried and laughed on my pathetic conditions. In the jail, I earned through sweat and blood of my hard toil but that’s also being snatched away by others. I was put behind the bars on trumped up charges without committing any crime.

After day’s hard toil, we were served badly roasted chapattis, lentils in which water was proportionately higher, greenstuffs like spinach were fried without oil. I was afflicted by tuberculosis (TB) due to insufficient food and hard toil. Continuously I had to take medicines for 6 months to cue my TB. I was served milk and eggs but couldn’t consume it as health conditions were quite precarious. Coupled with my ailment were anxieties about my family, which was turning me into a physical wreck. Whenever there were rains, I used to think if the thatched roof is leaking then where all the family members are sleeping. Days passed by while working but my nights were sleepless as worries and anxieties filled up my restless mind.

After 6 months of TB treatment, I started working. I used to toil day and night even if sun hovered over my head or in the biting cold. Days, months, and years passed like as if crossing the high peaks of the mountains. It was quite a delightful moment, though quite a shorter one, when family members came to meet me at the jail. After few days, again a desire to meet them grew in me. One day, when my family members came to meet me I handed over Rupees Five Thousand which I earned while working in the jail. Once I passed on Rs. 1,000 and then, Rs. 2,000 but took away Rs. 500 for my personal consumption to purchase soap and oil. In the jail I worked in the field for 7 years.  

In 2009, I asked the police officer, “When I would go home?” Then, his response was that my jail term had finished two months back as I was unable to pay the penalty and tuberculosis I would be released on 2nd February 2011. After his response, I started counting the days and used to think if I had the penalty to pay and not afflicted by tuberculosis then I could have been in home. The days passed by.

2nd February was day of celebration for me. Earlier I had informed my family members. I was besieged by happiness and I did not take any food. The  Superintendent of Police (SP) came and went to the parade. I was waiting for him with bated breath.  I was thinking I would go to my home and village. I would breathe in fresh air liberated from the shackles of bondage. Back home and village I would see it in same condition, when I left. 

Seeing the Superintendent of Police (SP) coming, I rushed to the office, and then he handed over a cheque of Rs. 6,081 and gave me Rs. 500. After being released I briskly walked towards my home. Then, tears jerked through my eyes and it seemed that happiness was all around me. 

Reaching home, I spent the entire night talking to my wife and children. After being jailed, my wife stayed at her sister’s place in Varanasi for two years. For earning a living she carried lanterns or tube lights over her head in wedding ceremonies at night. She made leaf plates to run the household. My son toiled hard to earn Rs. 35 as a daily wage. Listening to their woes I cried incessantly.

Framed in false case I was 9 years away from my family members rotting in the jail. Whenever, they visited me in jail smilingly they met, hiding their woes. They thought if I came to know their difficulties I would be further disturbed. Seeing them I also covered up my gloom. Fearing police framing trumped up case against my son as it happened with me, I sent away my son to Mumbai.

False case was framed against me and jailed for 10 years. I lost 10 years which   won’t come back. What I want that it should not happen with others. I feel that what I narrated to you, it’s happening before my eyes.  
Coming back from the jail, I am no more interested to go any where. After being punished for so many years I started thinking myself as guilty. I think what people might be thinking about me. I am mentally disturbed. Due continuous police beating and the hard toil which I put in jail for years together, there is always terrible pain in my body. 
Testimony derived from testimonial Therapy initiative of People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) and Dignity: Danish Institute against Torture

Friday, June 27, 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014

India: Death threats to human rights defender Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi

Call for Neo Dalit Movement

After that, I will take time to propose a way to change this situation by calling for the creation of a "neo-Dalit" movement – combining shudras and anti-shudras from all regions. I will also try to explain why this popular movement seems to be the best way to remove this "culture of impunity" and how opinion leaders from all communities have a great role to play on this major gathering.

I would add that I am writing this article because I believe that many problems that India faces today are linked together and therefore cannot be separated, both in understanding and resolution. For that reason, I believe that the most effective way to resolve them is to address the problem in a comprehensive approach that takes into account the political, economic and sociological and seeks solutions which take care of those different "linked problems", based on a popular movement.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The need of the hour is to create new dynamics and debate within India: Lenin Raghuvanshi

We had a strong Dalit movement before formation of RSS in 1925. We have saints like Kabeer, Raidas who were an epitome of our syncretic, plural and tolerant Indian culture. Hindutva has nothing to do with Hindu religion per se. The Hindutva ideology was a manifestation of British colonialism. The greatest ideologue of RSS Guru Golwalkar himself advised RSS cadres not to fight against the British occupation. They have an expansionist ideology. On one hand they are exploiting the dalits and on the other they are attacking other nationalities. They are even unhappy with me as I am fighting against casteism that forms a fundamental feature of their ideology. But the unfortunate part of the whole matter is that now major political parties are influenced by Hindutva ideology.

Prominent Activist and Co-Founder Peoples Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), Lenin Raghuvanshi in a conversation with Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander, about his early life, influences, work, Hindutva and future plans
Tell us something about yourself?
I was born in plural family. Each member was different from another, yet they lived under one roof. My Grandfather was Gandhian, but there was contrast in him as he was a socialist and atheist too. My grandmother was religious. My father initially joined RSS, but Grandmother told him that the uniform black cap of RSS is anti-Hindu. Then my dad became a communist, but he is still religious. There was always an ideological tussle going on between my grandparents and parents. My Grandfather wanted me to be a Gandhian and my Father wanted me to become a communist. Hence this tussle gave me an exposure to varied shades of opinion since my childhood. Later on I self studied various philosophies, ideologies and religions, and five great people influenced my life and thoughts particularly and they include Prophet Jesus (pbuh), Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Karl Marx, Buddha and Dr.B.R Ambedkar. I grew up in the Eastern part of Uttar Pradesh (U.P) that has nationalist links with mainstream India. Though in certain parts of U.P, RSS and Congress type mentality also prevails. But I envisage that we create different nations within India, as India has the potential for tolerating many sub Nations.
What is your educational background?
I studied Indian Medicine system at a Gurukul Kangri in Haridwar.
Keeping in view your professional education background, how were you inclined towards activism?
As I stated earlier that my father wanted me to become a full time Communist Party worker, but I wasn’t inclined to it whole heartedly. In 1989, I joined United Nations Youth Organization and started my activism with that. In 1993 I came to head its U.P chapter. In the same year we started Bachpan Bachao Aandulan (Movement for saving childhood). During that movement, I witnessed that there were no child laborers from upper caste people. Meanwhile I also got married in 1992, and my spouse also helped me in my activism and believed in my work.
So when and what reasons led to the establishment of Peoples Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR)?
In 1996, I along with my wife Shruti founded the PVCHR. It is a community based organization, to break the closed, feudal hierarchies of conservative slums and villages by building up local institutions and supporting them with a high profile and active human rights network.  The caste based violence, exploitation of poorer sections of the society and the marginalization of Dalits and Adivasis led to the establishment of PVCHR.

What kind of activities does PVCHR engage with?
We work against the Caste system and the structural prejudice associated with it. We work for the reconciliation among communities. We are also working for making the environment conducive for Truth and Reconciliation. We are initiating a discussion about democracy and human rights in the cow belt. Presently we have more than fifty thousand members and in more than four hundred villages we are carrying out our activities.
So did your efforts help in bringing any Positive change?
Yes, there is a lot of change in more than two hundred villages. Since 2000 there has been no communal violence in Banaras, heart of the cow belt. Many religious leaders have united against Hindutva Fascism. The Mushar community has become confident and an indigenous leadership has evolved among them. 2/3rd Dalits, Muslims and OBCs are elected members in Governing Board of PVCHR from 2010.
Do you face any threats or intimidation regarding your work?
Yes the threats and intimidation tactics are very common, both by State and Non State actors.
Is PVCHRs particular focus presently on torture victims?
Yes, we are strongly focusing on the victims of torture. Since 2008 we are using Testimonial Therapy developed by PVCHR and Danish Organization Research and Rehabilitation center for Torture Victims (RCT) for the survivors of torture, in order to make them overcome the aftermath trauma associated with torture. Our testimonial Therapy model are using by partners of RCT in Srilanka, Cambodia and Philippines.
You have been talking and writing about what you call as the “Culture of Impunity” as prevalent in India. What does this Culture of Impunity mean?
Peace without Justice and suffering in silence is culture of impunity. Our constitution is modern but the rules are colonial. The Police Act 1861, can be a reference point. It was implemented by the British in India after the 1857 mutiny. It was anti India in its connotations and stature, but still there has been no change in it despite the fact that British left India in 1947.
So how to Fight and Resist against this culture of impunity?
The culture of impunity breaks humans. During the freedom struggle Muslims were fighting alongside with other communities, but where are they now? This culture of impunity has wrecked much harm and is responsible for numerous atrocities against minorities, dalits and adivasis. It helps the guilty, culprits and perpetuators of these atrocities go scot free. We still have draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) imposed on various parts of India, where the security forces have committed grave human rights abuses because of this blanket culture of impunity. We must educate, organize and agitate against this culture of impunity. We must be able to provide Psycho-Social support to the victims. Then there is a need to create debate about this culture of impunity. For Justice to be established we need to tell the truth and put up the facts before the people.
What is your opinion about the Hindutva fascism and their suppression of minorities?
We had a strong Dalit movement before formation of RSS in 1925. We have saints like Kabeer, Raidas who were an epitome of our syncretic, plural and tolerant Indian culture. Hindutva has nothing to do with Hindu religion per se. The Hindutva ideology was a manifestation of British colonialism. The greatest ideologue of RSS Guru Golwalkar himself advised RSS cadres not to fight against the British occupation. They have an expansionist ideology. On one hand they are exploiting the dalits and on the other they are attacking other nationalities. They are even unhappy with me as I am fighting against casteism that forms a fundamental feature of their ideology. But the unfortunate part of the whole matter is that now major political parties are influenced by Hindutva ideology.
You have also been writing that caste based structural biases and violence is embedded in our system. How do you explain the same?
During childhood days my grandma used to tell me, not to eat while facing south, neither sleep keeping your legs in the direction. Elderly in the village said not to visit southern quarter of the village. Since childhood I used to wonder what the secret of this word ‘Dakhkhin Tola’ (south ghetto) is.
As I grew up, started reading, started social activism, fought for the rights of bonded labours and traveled across the globe then I realized that in the south of every village there is South Africa (a Dalit quarter ) as ‘culture of silence’.
The silence imposed by draconian suppression sanctified by religious rituals of the Upper Caste was such that the outside world knew little about this colossal cruelty. Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer, former Judge, Supreme Court of India described the plight of the Dalits in the following words, “Courts to them are alien, laws their enemy and human justice their despair.”

The caste system continues to determine political, social, and economic lives of a billion people in South Asia. The caste system, straddling across the scrawny shoulders of the Untouchables, is like that Old man in Tolstoy’s story, who has all the sympathy for the poor bearer and would like to do anything but to get off his shoulder. The most significant aspect of caste is its ability to resurface without a trace of remorse on the part of the perpetrator. It is like that chemical addiction which once had makes you vulnerable to its guiles forever.
American modern conservative thinker Edmund Burke says correctly about India many years before, “In that Country the law of religion, the laws of the land, and the law of honour, are all united and consolidated in one, and bind a man eternally to the rule of what is called his caste.”
Traditional political system and  Hindu fascist forces are trying hard to maintain the old system of the power game. Money and muscle power, together with political string-pulling, often result in denial of justice for the hapless ‘have-nots’, especially the Dalits (untouchables), ravaged by poverty and illiteracy.
Atrocities and extortion on the Dalits, fake encounters, refusal to register complaints against the well-heeled, arbitrary arrests on false charges, illegal detention and custodial deaths are in commonplace.
In the absence of a modern social audit system, the keepers of the law often unleash a ‘police raj’, especially in rural India. A crippled National Human Rights Commission and its state subsidiaries with limited recommendatory control and a dysfunctional Legal Aid System depict a gloomy picture indeed.
Ironically, even after having shed the colonial yoke, its legacy continues in the administrative framework of our independent India marked with widespread corruption which has rendered many government-sponsored schemes in rural India a failure.
You have also written that Indian police has learnt the tactic of Community Punishment from caste system. How can these two be related?
You can witness this fact in India. If an upper caste person commits a crime, if ever he is punished, he will bear it solitarily. But if a lower caste person commits any crime the whole community will be punished for one man’s deeds. The Police have learnt community punishment from casteism. Also see how the Caste and Class structures are reinforced by the state machinery. Why are the regiments named on caste and class denominations like Rajputana, Dogra etc, whereas such amalgamations are contradictory to the constitution?
The Police atrocities against common people particularly the marginalized sections of society are growing with each passing day. What are the reasons responsible for that?
Police is the prime executive for the protection of Human Rights of common people. But in India the mindset of Police as inculcated by 1861 Police Act is synonymous to the British period when the Police saw all Indians as enemies. Even after Freedom Indian police witnesses citizens as its enemies. Hence the police reforms are must. We also need representation of minorities and marginalized sections of society in the police in order to change its outlook, bias and perception about them.
In most cases where the Police is found guilty of committing atrocities against the innocent civilians, we witness that they usually go scot free, while the innocent continue to suffer?
The prevalent culture of impunity is responsible for the guilty policemen going scot free. In Crpc and AFSPA the police and army have got the legal impunity that makes their persecution or punishment impossible.  We want to amend and remove these draconian laws. Armed Forces Special Power ordnance was imposed by the British colonial administration to crush the Quit India Movement that started in 1942, but even after Freedom Indian State implemented more draconian law as Armed Forces Special Power Act(AFSPA). Indian State is still not ready to pass the Anti Torture Bill. How can in such an environment you hope for policemen to be punished. These black laws create problems for National integration. We need to fight the mindset that is obstructing the amendment or revocation of these draconian laws, under the veil of National interests and sovereignty.
The growing corporatization is having severe ramifications on Nation Building and integrity. How can we resist this onslaught?
We need to strength the Neo Dalit movement. Neo-dalit campaign is against politics of division, exploitation and hatred with an alternative of unity of broken masses on base of reconciliation, democracy, secularism and non violence. First unity is unity against caste system, a historical system of exclusion i.e. unity among the lower castes people that have been suppressed since centuries with the progressive anti-caste people born in upper caste. This will be first of its kind unity, which will not be against any person born in to upper caste communities neither against any religion. Second unity is unity among minorities and communities who suffered with communal fascism, those who believe in communal harmony and people with secular values against neo-fascism. Unity of all poor from all communities against the suffering with neo-liberal policy is the third kind of unity. Fighting against neoliberal policy is not against democratic capitalism for people. Since those broken with different kinds of suppression and exclusion means dalit therefore these three kinds of unities is base of impart the neo-dalit movement. These three need to join hands and unitedly fight against the menace of corporatization based on exclusion, anti-people and anti-environment norms. We are opposing the corporatization whereas attacking cultural imperialism too, and trying to build pressure on Government through people demand for more budget on social structure such as education, health etc . If we will not fight against corporatization, they will make the country and people slave to their corporate goals.
Given your busy activist schedule, how do you balance that with your personal family life and its demands?
My wife Shruti is also an activist, while our son Kabeer is an independent child. We still live together in a joint family and I visit my parents when I find time.
So what are the future plans of PVCHR?
We are going to work in Kashmir, not for political negotiations or for solving Kashmir issue. We want to meet the victims and survivors of torture. We want to ask for pardons for the atrocities committed by the Indian State, and start reconciliation with people of Kashmir. We also want to offer psychological support to the victims of torture through Testimonial Therapy.
Any message for people?
The people must believe in themselves. The need of the hour is to create new dynamics and debate within India. The people musty make alliances with Dalits, Anti-Hindutva Movement and other marginalized people. The debate about Kashmir must be initiated within Indian particularly the cow belt, and it is obligatory on Kashmiris to change the mindset of the inhabitants of cow belt as far as Kashmir and other issues are concerned.
Lenin Raghuvanshi can be reached at
Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander is Writer-Activist based in Srinagar, Kashmir and can be reached at

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Indian activist: Narendra Modi and Arwind Kejriwal, as dangerous as "Hitler and Mussolini"

Indian activist: Narendra Modi and Arwind Kejriwal, as dangerous as "Hitler and Mussolini"

by Nirmala Carvalho
For Lenin Raghuvanshi, activist for development of Dalits , Modi (BJP Hindu nationalist party ) and Kejriwal (AAP, anti-corruption party) " are trying to destroy the pluralistic fabric of Varanasi from different political positions". The two leaders have chosen to run for election in city.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


A report on suicide and malnutrition among weavers in Varanasi was prepared by the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights in collaboration with ActionAid, an international anti-poverty agency. It said that about 175 weavers fell prey to financial hardships since 2002. The Economic Survey (2009-10) estimates that over 50 per cent weavers’ children are malnourished. There is a high prevalence of TB, particularly multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). The survey also said that while the human development index of India is steadily improving, weavers and their children in Varanasi continue to die either by committing suicide or succumbing to malnutrition.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Call for a neo-Dalit movement to overthrow feudalism, neo-fascism and neo-liberalism through a popular action

Call for a neo-Dalit movement to overthrow feudalism, neo-fascism and neo-liberalism through a popular action
                                    Ben Duboc ( Mr.Benoit Dubocquet)

India is a beautiful country, land of diversity and land of great and long history populated by many different peoples, from many different origins, and who have many different religious, political and philosophical views. This cultural mix in the long term and the amazing natural diversity made India one of the richest countries of the world. But India seems incapable to enjoy this wealth with wisdom. Many abuses are committed against peoples due to their caste or their religion and nature is more and more systematically ransack for privates interests. In that context, I would like to propose an explanation of the causes of this situation in order to suggest subsequently a way to improve the situation for all, and more particularly for the most marginalized.

According to me, the mains problems facing the country came from two thinks: the implementation of a "culture of impunity" - which is a sharing believe that few can act without be accountable for their actions – at the social, economic and political level, and the meet of this cognitive problem with a context of market democracy and economic globalisation. This explanation will try to explain how the combination of those two factors – cognitive and contextual – allow the rise of a neo-fascism state – an authoritarian state which want to make one country with one nation – and the implementation of an aggressive neo-liberal capitalism – which perpetuate social and economic injustice.  By this way, we will see how the neo-fascist Hindutva project is use to perpetuate caste domination and allow the Indian leaders to realize profit by selling the country to national and international companies, and we will understand how this economic deregulation marginalized lower castes and therefore, strengthening social division on castes.

After that, I will take time to propose a way to change this situation by calling for the creation of a "neo-Dalit" movement – combining shudras and ati-shudras from all regions. I will also try to explain why this popular movement seems to be the best way to remove this "culture of impunity" and how opinion leaders from all communities have a great role to play on this major gathering.
I would add that I am writing this article because I believe that many problems that face India today are linked together and therefore cannot be separate both in understanding and resolution. For that reason, I believe that the most effective way to resolve them is to address the problem in a comprehensive approach that takes into account the political, economic and sociological and seek to solutions which take care about those different "linked problems" and based on a popular movement.

A multidisciplinary approach to a better understanding of the actors and factors:
India has one of the highest GDP rates of the world. As a "developing economy" in a global world-wide economy, the country tries more and more to insert themself on the international market for goods and capital. This amazing economic growth is beautifully accompanied by the establishment of democracy, and seems made India as a paradise under construction. But this lovely frontage is hiding many inappropriate practices such as poverty, brutality and nature destruction. Let's begin this round trip of those practices by a little bit of economic policy.
We can describe Indian economic policy as a conversion to the neo-liberalism religion with a brutal "shut up" ritualization. On one hand, politicians use India as a reservoir of raw materials. They allows big corporation to rape nature, and destroyed a fragile ecosystem who's allow rural peoples to live since the down of live, and they sell all the national key infrastructure – such as water, electricity, health, telecommunication, transport, education, natural resources – to privates companies in order to make money through corrupt practices. This privatization process of state and land is also strongly encouraged by neo-liberalist global institutions – as the World Bank, the international monetary funds, etc.

In the other hand, such practices of piracy again People – who is dispossesses of the wealth of his country by political and economic leaders - are allows by authoritarian and violent measures that government takes again peoples who trying to mutiny again this spoliation. Police is using torture, army is sending against citizens who is supposed to defender and hazardous legislation which makes both of them safe from any penalty for the violation of human rights are enacted – as the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which is as much used against terrorists than against peoples who attempt to peacefully criticize these policies. During that time, other legal texts are enacted to protect and attract multinational companies in order to provide to them fiscal and legal advantages on a very broad definition of what we call the "free market"– as the Nuclear Civil Liability Bill which limits liabilities of Transnational companies (TNC) for nuclear industrial disaster!

By this way, Indian leaders try to create a good "investment climate" for big corporation, allow them to play their dangerous economic game with all the right and no duties, and with a few and controlled popular contestation. So India is a beautiful dream for TNC and a daily nightmare for rural and urban workers. Furthermore, we should understand that this situation is dangerous, not only because this seems to foreshadow the establishment of an authoritarian regime which allow brutal political repression with impunity, but also because this political impunity is put in place  alongside with the implementation of an economic policy of corporates impunity.
But this political and economic culture of impunity cannot only be fully understand by the opening of Indian market to the international one or by the corruptive practices that plague public and private institutions. Behind those external factors, there is a cognitive reason which is also very important to understand such behaviors among actors. I want to talk about the caste system.

Indian society has lived for hundreds of years on a strict and rigid social hierarchy based on the Brahmanism stream within Hinduism. The caste system - which so many peoples see wrongly as concomitant to Hinduism – is a social organisation of society which allows upper caste to do whatever they want – including mental and physical tortures - to lower castes and women, who are considered as inferior. Those last ones have just to accept this supremacy theoretically founded by gods but actually righting by human to implement an unequal political regime. This believe created a cognitive complex of inferiority and superiority – respectively for the lower and the upper castes – which allowed the implementation of a national culture of caste and social impunity, itself perpetuate by a culture of silence created by fear, pain and lack of self-esteem of the lower casts.

But the story doesn't stop here, because all those "cultures of impunity" which allow a minority group to govern and exploit the majority of the peoples can be partly questioned by civil society organisations and protest movement who want to reverse this cognitive and social pyramid or, at least, flatten it. For those reasons, power holders use many means to divide lowers castes majority and divert them from the key issues that face India - through communitarianism hatred – and ensure their freedom of act as leaders - by enact draconian laws to so-called protect peoples from communitarianism terrorism act that they contribute to create themself.

So, politics impunity and economic impunity are two side of the same social impunity coin. Social activists and lower castes who want defend their right and critics the system are beating by the police and the army without any respect for their humanity, while neo-liberalism allows upper castes and big corporation to make profit with all impunity, because peoples fighting each other for religion issues or because they do not dare to attack the Brahmanism power.
In this division process of the poorest majority, those who try to keep their power use classical methods in order to conserve their social position. They know that hate call for hate. This is a universal law. And when government leaders begin to feed communal hatred between their own citizens and practice authoritarian political repression, we can qualified it as a "neo-fascist" state because he implement a national culture of hatred against difference, and love – or at least blind respect – for  authority.

As an example, we can take the case of the chief minister of Gujarat who calls for genocide again Muslim community in 2002 to revenge the death of 53 Hindu who are burned alive on a railway coach in still unclear circumstance. To achieve his bloodies aim; Nerendra Modi used violence rhetoric of hate in the media in order to stigmatized Muslim and victimized Hindu. And it is well knows that victimization feeling is the best way to create genocider which, as terrorist, feed their murder-craziness with the blood of the martyr and the blindness of hatred fascist ideologies – as Hindutva project or Islamic communalism  one. Mr. Modi was next hailed as a hero by RSS and re-elected in Gujarat. Then, in 2009, this genocider was awarded by Ratan Tata (from Tata Group) and Mukesh Ambani (from Relience Industries) and received from them the Gujurat Garima award for the development of his policies – which at same times endorsed him for prime minister in national elections.

What does this example means? Just that some political leaders have an interest to create divisions on society in order to conserve their power? Or maybe just that the true aim of the Hindutva project is to divide peoples in order to allow traditional power holder – upper casts – to keep ruling the country and keep easily running their business with economic leaders?  Or just that those who promote genocide and mass-killing can do it with impunity and that there are actually reward for this?!?
Actually, This example highlight well that neo-fascism and authoritarian Hindutva project which feed communal hatred and divide the poorest majority of the society is also promoted by economic leaders in order to hide the implementation of an economic policy of impunity, which is supposed to make India as an attractive country for foreign investments and enrich both politic and economic leaders.
So, we can say that all those political repression, police torture, bureaucratic corruption, economic exploitation of human and nature, and rigid hierarchy of social domination are allow as much by the implantation of those social, political and economic cognitive cultures of impunity than by external factor such "the dangerous cross-currents of neo-liberal capitalism and communal neo-fascism"[i]. As much by the actors cognition than by the contextual factors.(Life Cycle Chart as annexure 1 as attached).

The creation of a popular protest movement through the reformulation of a political identity:
We have seen that all those problems which look apparently different are actually linked together. We will see now that this multiplicity of causes can be overcome together by creating a unity process. A People's one.

What is the best way to fight again a neo-fascist politics of casts and communities division? Unity. Which kind of unity can we create to fight against caste system – which is the origin of social division and cultures of impunity – and neo-liberalism – that increase the gap between have and have-not and deprives many people of the benefit of natural resources? A union of lower's castes. I mean a union of lower caste from all religions, because misery doesn't matters of theologies. A union between shudras and ati-shudras, or between dalits and ati-dalits, and a union with Muslim lower casts and other marginalized peoples. A movement of the poor and the abused people for breaking the economic exploitation and the silence culture of caste torture is another unity. A movement is against Brahmanism and caste system, but not again Hinduism and upper-caste. A movement is against neo-liberalism capitalism, not against democratic capitalism based on rule of law and pluralism.
I want to propose this unity today because I think that this is the best way to fight against this culture of impunity and because I don't think that change will come from peoples who benefit of this system. So, structural change can only come from the bottom of the social pyramid. I propose to call this movement: "neo-Dalit", because this is the Dalit community who has suffering most of all for this entire situation and because this name is already synonym of political struggle created by Baba Saheb Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar.

Of course, create a sense of belonging to an imagined political inter-caste community may seem impossible, as in the caste structure of society is old and perfectly integrated into the everyday life and that this change of identity require a sacrifice from both of those castes and communities. The Shudras must learn to deny their right of lord (feudal) on ati-Shudras if they want to break free of their upper castes masters. On the other hand, the extended reformulation of the term "Dalit" also requires an ati-Sundra sacrifice, as these take away the monopoly of the first identity that they recognizes as legitimate, from the first name that they accept to name themselves and which is synonym of their own political fight. The first name that their use with a little bit of pride.

This integration problem is even greater when we try to include in this movement the "old" - but actually still ​​- lower caste who converted to Islam or the oppress Christian and tribal populations.

Because of all those difficulties, we have to well understand and emphasis the sameness among those different social groups. First, we should make them understand that they are both castes slaved and aliened by the upper casts. There are a majority who is rule by a minority in a country who is theoretically become a democracy more than sixty year ago. Second, we should show them that main economic resources and power are hold by the upper castes, and that there is no sense to fight between each other's or give a positive answer to communitarianism hatred because such behaviors will not implement neo-Dalit lives conditions.

I talk about the classical example of the landless Dalit who is fighting with a poor Shudra owner because the Dalit cow damages the Shudra field for food. During that time, the rich upper caste – landlord of a hug superficies where are often exploited Shudras and ati-Shudras – has not to deal with this kind of problems, because the caste mentality allow him to beat lower casts in all impunity, because lower castes have internalized this brutal domination that they now regard as normal and because the upper castes have police in their pocket. In this kind of situation, we should explain to the Dalit and the Shudra that this conflict situation is the result of their marginalize situation that they share together due to the caste mind. We should show to them that they sharing a common problem which require a unity response.

By this way, a united movement of protest of this poorest majority will have enough power to fight – in a non-violent way – again the rich minority who have seen from too much time as "un-attackable", against religious leaders who feed hatred between communities or divided lower castes, and against others corrupt officials who believe that they can racked and abuse of poor peoples with impunity because they don't have money to enforce their right in a corrupt political regime.
Because the "divide for better ruler" politics is become an institution in the country: what better answer than a unification process of lower castes from all religions can we give to create a unified social movement again Brahmanism caste system, communitarianism neo-fascism and capitalism neo-liberal.

A union of lower castes against the castes alienation, a union of religions against communitarianism, a union of the poor against neo-liberalism are three fights lead by one community, the neo-Dalits.

But what about the means of our fight? How such social movement of unity can emerge? On which kind of struggle should it lead? These questions are important and needs to be asked.

The creation of a neo-Dalit political party doesn't seem to be the right choice. Political party who want defend the poor are not going to raise enough money to play the election games and leaders who will be involving in the institutional game have good chance to be socialize to the corruptive rules of those institutions. The risk is that see them takes some distance with the people that they are supposed to defender or, worst, playing the democratic game only for their own profit – as Mayawati Kumari (BSP Dalit leader) who made hidden alliance with RSS (Dalit – Brahmin social engineering, not attacks against caste system) because she expect to run for prime minister election. Another way seems to be preferable.

I think that it is better to promote a reconciliation movement between lowers casts and religious communities in the grass-roots level in order to create contact between those who was speared for a long by communitarianism and Brahmanism. Connection and meeting are the best way to fight again dangerous prejudices that lead to community's hatred and reverse the process of division between lower castes. But it is clear that this unification will not appear "like that" and that we need, first of all, to create a hug and strong network among all the civil society organizations who fight separately for the Shudras, ati-Shudras, Muslim, Christian, worker class, farmer, etc. Because the best way is to achieve this union and create a neo-Dalit social movement of protest begin by coordinated actions lead by a shared interpretation of our common problems.

For this reason, this present call is destined to all Suhdras and ati-Shudras, to all organisations who fighting for the respect of human right, to all progressive peoples – whatever her/his caste, religion, sex or social class – who want to reverse this process of state-privatization, abuses of natural resources and division of society through hatred spiral feed by communitarianism, feudalism and patriarchal-ism implement by the Brahmanism caste system and his Hindutva project.

But one question remains: what is the best way to bring together different social groups? I think that this process should begin by a closer link between opinion leaders and others representative of those groups. This idea has nothing new. Few times after India independence, Gandhi-ji has already show use that it is possible to put a term to communalism fight by a non-violent way. I talk about what peoples called "the miracle of Calcutta". Gandhi-ji was able to engage a disarm process of all gang of the city, but was not satisfy by this victory. He demanded more. He asks to the leaders of Muslim and Hindu communities to give promise that they will keep peace between them. And, ho "Miracle", Calcutta and his areas had never more knowing any communitarianism riots.
This history shows us how it is possible to create peace between communities and how opinion leaders have a great role to play in such process. For that reason, the creation of a neo-Dalit movement can't only begin with an approximation of the elites. We should organise much more meeting with all those communities representatives in order to make them work together and learn to know betters each other's. By this way, they will probably learn that they protect different communities which deal with different problems but which sufferings from the same culture of impunity and neo-liberal alienation.

On the grass-roots level, we should broke the silence wall and enhance self-esteem of the lower castes in order to give them back their dignity and make them actors of their own change. Moreover, we should work to bring the communities together by creating some "sharing public space" for Shudras and Dalit, and for Hindu and Muslim. This last point is important, because most of the socialization processes seem to happen on the streets – where every communities and castes are together but remain speared in different district or sidewalk – and place of worship – where ati-Sudras remain only tolerated by the others castes.

So, to resume my proposition, I want to emphasis three ways that the neo-Dalit movement should take in order to improve their political, economic and social situation. First, we can fight again political repression impunity by legal process. Many Human rights organisations are already fighting in this way in order to transform the Brahmanism "rule of lord" by making them respect the "rule of law". Second, the social impunity should be defeat by changing cognitive weakness which made some peoples victim of their inferiority complex and other peoples tormentor due to their superiority complex. We need to created commons forums for neo-Dalit in order to break the wall of silence which leads to the acceptation of this situation and to launch a speech process which will teach them that they are equal and they are sharing commons interest.”