Tag Archives: Tamil Nadu

Whatever Happened to Struggle Against Untouchability

Untouchability Walls keep rising and falling in Tamil Nadu.

Whatever Happened to Struggle

BR Ambedkar wrote in Annihilation of Caste that “…the world owes much to rebels who would dare to argue in the face of the pontiff and insist that he is not infallible. I do not care about the credit which every progressive society must give to its rebels. I shall be satisfied if I make the Hindus realize that they are the sick men of India, and that their sickness is causing danger to the health and happiness of other Indians.”

In 2008, Uthapuram, a village in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, had made national headlines. It was the year when the Karunanidhi-led DMK state government had taken the initiative to demolish a portion of a thirty-metre wall that had been raised by the dominant Pillaimar community, an OBC caste which had wanted to keep residents of the Devandra Kula Vellalar community, which falls under the Scheduled Caste category, out of the Mariamman temple.

Built in 1989, this wall had become a symbol of segregation based on caste and organisations like Tamil Nadu Anti Untouchability Front, along with other groups and individuals had been conducting agitations to end this discrimination. Finally, the DMK government was forced to take action.

This was perhaps the first time that the rest of India came to know about the prevalence of this pernicious practice in Tamil Nadu. The demolition of the wall was projected as a significant step to move towards caste annihilation.

The recent death of 17 dalits in Mettupalayam wall collapse, in which members of the arunthathiyar dalit caste lost their lives is a reminder of how our celebrations were premature. And that when it comes to caste and its attendant exclusions and discriminations, India still has miles to go.

(Read the full article here https://www.newsclick.in/Whatever-Happened-Struggle-Against-Untouchability)

50 Years Later, Shadow of Keezhvenmani Continues to Hover Over our Republic

December 25, 1968, termed as ‘Black Thursday’, saw the first mass crime against Dalits in independent India, who were fighting for respectable wages under the leadership of the Communist Party.

50 Years Later, the Shadow Keezhvenmani Continues to Hover Over our Republic

Image for representational use only; Image Courtesy : Socialist India

P Srinivasan, a veteran village functionary who cremates the dead had, in an interview done few years ago, described the darkening early morning on December 26, 1968, when the bodies began arriving from Keezhvenmani, a non-descript village in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu.

The village functionary, called Vettiyan, who is nearing 60 now, still remembered the number: “There were 42 corpses in all, horribly burnt and mangled. The stench was awful,” Pointing towards the plot of land where they were cremated, he said “All of them were Dalits, burnt to death in a caste clash. I cremated them on these very grounds.”

Srinivasan, then 23-year-old, shared vivid details of that ‘Black Thursday’ in 1968, a day that has remained etched in his mind.

December 25, 2018, completes 50 years of that ‘Black Thursday in 1968’, which is remembered as the first massacre of Dalits in independent India. The Dalits were martyred while fighting for respectable wages under the leadership of the Communist Party. All of these landless peasants had started to organise themselves into a campaign for higher wages following the increase in agricultural production in the area.

(https://www.newsclick.in/50-years-later-shadow-keezhvenmani-continues-hover-over-our-republic)

Wrought of Iron Until She Was No More – Jayalalithaa’s Passing: Francis Cody

 

This is a guest post by FRANCIS CODY

All who did and most who did not support the Chief Minister are in mourning, in some form or another.  J. Jayalalithaa is no more.  A cinema star-turned-leader, whose determination in the face of massive adversity had won her the titles of ‘Iron Butterfly’ and ‘Revolutionary Leader’, Jayalalithaa captured the imagination as a woman not necessarily of the people, but certainly with the people as a ubiquitous presence and force in political and popular life.  It’s hard to fathom the Tamil landscape with the knowledge that all of those portraits of the leader no longer point back to a living, sentient being.  The outpouring of emotion she commanded in life and now in death never cease to amaze those do not have a feel for how the political and popular affect have been collapsed into one another, for better and for worse.  Without getting into the task of proving the sincerity of sentiment leading some to go so far as to take their own lives in acts of political devotion, or the opposite and equally misguided one of showing that those who participate in public displays of mourning are doing so because of some culture of political ‘sycophancy’ as it is often dubbed, we must shift the terms of debate on the nature of her power while appreciating the massive loss Tamil Nadu has sustained with her passing.

  Continue reading Wrought of Iron Until She Was No More – Jayalalithaa’s Passing: Francis Cody

Folk Singer Kovan Lampoons Jayalalitha’s Promise

Kovan, the Dalit-activist poet and singer and member of a revolutionary organisation PALA (People’s Arts And Literary Association), from Trichy district in Tamil Nadu, has been in the news lately. One of his anti-Jayalalitha songs earned him the ire of the state government, which slapped a Sedition case against him in December 2015.

In this video sent to us by Vinavu Thalam, Kovan lampoons Jayalalitha’s promise of “step by step prohibition” as “peg by peg de-addiction”!

Seduce the gullible voters with false promise/ File sedition cases against those who fight/ This is her game/ The game of a cheat/

In Chennai slang, “Bongu” means, a Cheat! She is the AMMA of all cheats!

On Community Profiling

New York Police Department (NYPD) is in the news again for wrong reasons. It’s campaign to carry photos of citizens with its officers via Twitter backfired,as users flooded the hashtag with photos decrying alleged police brutality.

Not sometime ago it had to disband its Demographic Unit, which was engaged in spying on Muslim neighborhoods, infiltrating groups and eavesdropping on conversations across the northeastern United States, in the years following the Sept. 11 attacks. It had to finally admit that this secret Demographics Unit failed to yield a single terrorism investigation or even a single lead. Senior police officers of the department had to confess that the police gathered information on people even when there was no evidence of wrongdoing, simply because of their ethnicity and native language.

It may be added here that Adam Goldman, a journalist who with the help of his colleague Matt Apuzzo first broke this story about New York Police Department’s Muslim Spy Programme in a series of articles they wrote for Associated Press for which they were rewarded with Pulitzer Price.

Interestingly it was quite a coincidence that when the world at large was discussing how NYPD tried to stigmatise a community and terrorise a people, reports about the ‘informer-cop nexus behind Islamic Fundamentalism in Tamil Nadu’. Continue reading On Community Profiling

Manmohan Singh says ‘No’ to CHOGM 2013, with a whimper: Anonymous

An Anonymous Guest Post

So, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will not be attending CHOGM 2013 in Colombo after all. Many sections of Indian political and civil society, in Tamil Nadu in particular, will no doubt welcome this. But in reality, far from packing a punch this decision comes more as a whimper. If media reports are to be believed the PM’s letter to Rajapakse “does not talk about the reasons for Dr. Singh skipping the meet”. Muddled and last minute as it has been, far from demonstrating intent the decision actually betrays a singular lack of it, leaving India with little by way of leverage while doing its credibility no good. The PM’s absence will not be comfortable for Rajapakse but in the manner it has come it will in fact cost him little or at least much less than it would have if Delhi had made this decision count politically. But then the United Progressive Alliance is too busy dealing with its own rising electoral insecurities to care for India’s strategic interests let alone the human rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Continue reading Manmohan Singh says ‘No’ to CHOGM 2013, with a whimper: Anonymous

‘After falling in love, I saw the reality of caste’: E. Ilavarasan

Dalit youth E. ILAVARASAN, whose marriage to a Vanniyar girl had resulted in caste violence in Tamil Nadu last year, was found dead on a railway track yesterday. Given below is an interview Ilavarasan gave to KAVIN MALAR and was published in the Tamil edition of India Today magazine. This translation is by PRAKASH VENKATESAN.

ilavarasan_divya-350_070513040519

Did you realise you were going to be in the headlines in TN when you got married?

No. Certainly not. I thought ours would be just like any other marriage. Divya thought so too. We thought they (Divya’s parents) would be angry initially but can be eventually reconciled. We simply did not expect these things would happen. I now can really understand the horrendous nature of caste and the heinous things it is capable of after falling in love.

Why do you think Divya is suddenly saying now that she wants to go with her mother? Continue reading ‘After falling in love, I saw the reality of caste’: E. Ilavarasan