Long Live the Legacy of Comrade Vemula Rohith Chakravarthy : Statement by New Socialist Initiative (NSI)

Guest Post : Statement by New Socialist Initiative( NSI)
Comrade Rohith, we pay our deepest respects to you. We share your concerns. With you and like you we think that Systemic revolutions and great social transformations should go hand in hand. Rohith we fully agree with you that unless the oppressed are armed with scientific knowledge and rationality, revolution and emancipation remain elusive.
New Socialist Initiative pays its respects to Comrade Rohith Vemula, PhD scholar and student leader of University of Hyderabad. Rohith is not just a name of a scholar today. It has become a battle cry against the saffronisation of Indian education system. Rohith is the name of the relentless struggle against the upper caste domination in the institutions of higher education. Rohith has become a symbol of revolt against the decadence of our civilisation. Yes, Rohith committed suicide, killed himself, but not in desperation, not in fruitless vengeance. As his last words amply show, he seemed to be making a political and philosophical statement on the order of the things in this country, on the despicable manuvadi practices raising their ugly heads in the university campuses, on fascist targeting of Muslim minority community, on the rising intolerance and irrationality in our society.

Rohith may be born a Dalit, but reducing him to just his Dalit identity is gross injustice to this profound thinker, and relentless fighter who dreamt of a society free from all forms of exploitation and oppression. Yes, Rohith consistently called himself a dalit Marxist. He was committed to a Marxist worldview that is inspired by the emancipatory ideas of Baba Saheb Ambedkar. Rohith was a rare combination of critical thinking and militant political activism. Rohith understood that Revolution, social emancipation and scientific temper go hand in hand. He displayed the qualities of a fine leader in making by his persuasive arguments as well as by uncompromising struggles, by his ability to lead both discussions and movements in creative ways. Rohith was not a timid person. He challenged the powers- that- be on a daily basis, he bravely confronted the goonda gangs of fascist ABVP. He never hid his contempt towards the brahminical upper caste idiocy, likewise he never failed in defending the rights of the oppressed , of Dalits, of Women, of Adivasis or of Muslim minorities.
Because of the anti-brahminical, anti-fascist stands taken by Comrade Rohith and his Comrades of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) on various issues including the death sentences of Afjal Guru and Yakub Memon, the right wing Administration of University of Hyderabad (UoH) and fascist ABVP methodically targeted them. Since the BJP’s ascendance to power in centre, both the university administration and ABVP started attacking ASA with a long term goal of completely destroying the organisation which stood like a strong wall against the attempts of saffronisation of UoH. Without understanding this background, it is difficult to know why Dalit PhD scholars were expelled from hostels and how they are sleeping under a open sky as a protest and finally why Rohith had resorted to this extreme and unacceptable form of protest.
At a personal level Comrade Rohith was a brilliant scholar interested in cosmology and wanted to become a science writer like Carl Sagan. He was concerned about the social conditions and cultural traits that are making humans lose their humanness and touch with nature. He was seriously concerned about the dangerously raising levels of toxic irrationality of our society. He wanted to work on these issues. Rohith was such a wonderful human being who, in the midst of a fierce political battle with university administration and in the turmoil erupting from a personal existentialist angst, could maintain his calm and could think about human condition.
We think that the best way to remember Rohith is to intensify the struggle against:
  • the saffronisation of Education,
  • inhuman caste system and its various ugly forms of oppression and discrimination,
  • the religious fundamentalism and obscurantism
  • against bigotry and superstition
  • against the horrors of capitalism
New Socialist Initiative will endeavour to take forward the unfulfilled dreams of comrade Rohith. We resolve to carry forward Rohith’s unfinished dream about spreading science and rationality among the oppressed people.
In deep anguish over his sad death and in solidarity with all his comrades, friends and loved ones, we pay our tribute to comrade Rohith. Long Live comrade Rohith.
We demand :
1. Punish all the culprits responsible for Rohith’s death.
2. Preserve the autonomy and climate of intellectual freedom in the campuses.
3. Meet all the demands of the Joint Action Committee.

8 thoughts on “Long Live the Legacy of Comrade Vemula Rohith Chakravarthy : Statement by New Socialist Initiative (NSI)

  1. Rohith Vemula’s death deserves to be mourned with anguish .It must send out a message for deeper understanding of the Dalit issues.Though there are many Dalit scholars who have tried to delve into the problem yet a lot needs to be done.in this field.Nobody can claim finality for his or her analysis.Perhaps a scientific analysis is yet to come.There are various remedies suggested by eminent sociologists also but somehow all have failed to show any tangible results so far.There are many political parties also which claim to represent the Dalits exclusively but they too have failed to do anything substantial for the eradication of the problems faced by Dalits in their daily lives.Even Dr. B.R.Ambedkar did not provide any concrete action plan for Dalits’ emancipation although he did call for the annihilation of caste. A much more critical approach is needed by all those who are committed to root out the social system which created Dalits at the first instance and also to stop its further perpetuation

  2. The issue of Dalit emancipation is complicated. I have been following the dalit issue on pages like this for quite some years now. As a non-Dalit, my observations are as follows:

    1. Social excommunication of Dalits are stark realities of India. That said, it is widespread in certain swathes of rural India and it is not in other places. The phenomenon involves restricting access to any resource that has chances of improving quality of lives.

    2. Economic exploitation of Dalits (and Dalits alone, because they are so) is far infrequent than the above. This was once a very common practice. A slew of factors caused this to come down, such as unavailability of manpower, advent of cheaper technologies, low returns on division of labour (scope economies)

    3. Social exploitation of Dalits by non-upper caste, OBC even certain SC communities. Even within Dalits, exploitation of Dalits-by-a-whisker (such as Namasudra) and Maha-Dalits. The nature and mode of exploitation are exactly the same as Pt.1. Therefore, studies have shown that the nature and mode are a part of overall archetype rooted in the economic access to resources.

    4. All of the above, are not restricted to Hindu Dalits, but gets extended to Muslims, Bauddh, Sikh and Christian Dalits as well. The denominations of exploiter and exploited is relevant in the subtext but not in the larger context.

    Given these, let us look at the Dalit politics (or the lack of it) in India.

    The aim of politics is to gather support, build momentum and get the changes done for their constituents. Given the demographics of India, more so in urban India, I would say that there is an organic growth in the non-Dalit support base for the cause. They are articulate, intelligent, savvy and liberal in their outlook. But they are not leftists. And most of them are observing Hindus (whatever that term means). Within Dalits too, especially those who reaped the benefits of reservation, very similar characteristics as non-Dalits. This is the new normal. They are the future administrators of India.

    I can tell you what doesn’t work for them. The negative leftist politics doesn’t work, using minority card every time doesn’t work, mixing Dalit issue with Muslim issues (which are also very important) doesn’t work, selective dismissal of every Hindu customs and beliefs doesn’t work, Terror-has-no-religion-but-Hindu-terror-is-growing doesn’t work, revisionist and selective evaluation of their saints with today’s frameworks doesn’t work and using caste card where it is not relevant doesn’t work. Therefore, the need of Dalit politics of the day are quite simple actually:
    1. Take up issues that are relevant to Dalits, because they are so. Be brutally objective about it. Grow local, regional and national support base that is seen as pro-India and not castigating it. Use social media and commercial electronic media well and truthfully. Be factual, transparent. Demand the same transparency from the opposing parties. Appeal to the human bonds and emotions that are inherent to all humanity. And stick to the issue and grow a huge support swell. It will be genuine. The opposition will take notice and will be forced to rectify. Do not use violence, at all, at all times.

    2. Move away from political parties. Of all hues. Red-Saffron-Green-Blue, everyone. They are opportunists and are seen as same.

    3. Revere Ambedkar, but don’t vilify others. It is in bad taste. Especially when you know that they were product of their times and specific milieu. Even Ambedkar was, even though I regard him as almost the greatest mind that India has ever produced.

    Now that I am finished with my rant, I am ready to take your retorts. Soak me.

  3. I agree to intensify the struggle against:

    the saffronisation of Education,

    inhuman caste system and its various ugly forms of oppression and discrimination,

    the religious fundamentalism and obscurantism

    against bigotry and superstition

    against the horrors of capitalism and also agree to the demand :
    1. Punish all the culprits responsible for Rohith’s death.
    2. Preserve the autonomy and climate of intellectual freedom in the campuses.
    3. Meet all the demands of the Joint Action Committee.

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