“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running and robbing the country. That’s our problem.”
– Howard Zinn, Failure to Quit
Three month old Babu who is affectionately called Yuvraj also is not in a position to read the changes in his mother’s face nor can comprehend why everyone in the family has suddenly started looking tense these days. For the kid the world remains the same, but for his family members it has rather changed a lot.
Continue reading Human Rights Defenders As Petty Swindlers: It is all Maya
“Do you eat piglets?” he asked as our car moved through the long road from Lucknow, via Barabanki, Faizabad, Akbarpur towards Azamgarh. “We can have roast piglets and whiskey when we end our day’s work” This was our ‘tour sponsor’, Chandra Bhan Prasad, well known now as the maverick intellectual who celebrates capitalism, consumption and globalization and who was the first to advocate a Dalit-Brahmin alliance against the Sudra (OBC) castes. Thus it was to be. We were to spend our first night in the poorvanchal on 4 June 2008, eating and drinking.
When we arrived at his village at about 8 pm, it was dark. All of Uttar Pradesh only has electricity for about seven or eight hours every day. And this was a village. That too, the dakkhin tola (the generic name for the Dalit settlement, given that, by and large, it is supposed to be situated at the southern end of the village). But true to the line that Prasad has been trying to convince us of for sometime now – and which actually occasioned this trip – within minutes, the generator started purring and the place lit up. We were in front of a fairly large pucca building that happens to be Prasad’s family house. The preparations were soon made for the feast that was awaiting us – the cooler was put on and other arrangements were made. Prasad has been at pains to underline to us, over and over again, that over the last twenty years, hunger and humiliation have disappeared from the lives of the Dalits in this area. Not that they are not poor and oppressed any more. But their lives have changed decisively.
Continue reading Flight to Freedom: Travel Through Dalit Villages