An Year Of Continued Denial Of Justice For Rohith Vemula

januaryphotoAn Year Of Continued Denial Of Justice For Rohith Vemula

Caste Based Discrimination Must End Now In Educational Institutions Towards Equitable Democratic Spaces 

Hyderabad / New Delhi, January 17th 2016 : It’s a year since Rohith Vemula gave up his life in the struggle against caste discrimination and Brahminical prejudices and practices dominating spaces of Higher education in the country. His death caused a major uproar in the country and gave strength to students coming forward resisting the same and to various ongoing agitations across the country in different universities. His words still continue to haunt and remind us of the complex social structures and deep fissures and inherent inequality in the society. He said, “… the value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing…. My birth is my fatal accident….

If we look back, nothing seems to have changed in last year, Najeeb Ahmed remains missing from JNU for more than two months; eleven students remain suspended for raising voice against the administration and teachers are facing action too for supporting students and their voices; in another central university in Hyderabad, EFLU, five Dalit students have been suspended for raising issues of caste based discrimination; in BHU seven students have been rusticated for demanding 24×7 library facilities; women students continue to face restrictive measures across the country in various universities; and the doors for commercialization of the higher education is being opened through the allowing of corporate investments and the dismal status of the primary and secondary education in the country shows no signs of improvement. The rise and growth of ABVP is being supported and facilitated by the government in Centre and State and the agenda of saffornisation of the education and educational institutions is gaining strength everyday. However, the year has also seen an increase in resistance from the progressive forces and students community at large, and Rohith’s sacrifice has united the students community from various varsities resisting the discrimination and brahminical prejudices and practices.

Our collective struggle for #JusticeForRohith remains unfulfilled since past one year as none of the culprits have been punished and in fact government appointed committees continue to peddle lies and half truth about Rohith’s caste and what happened preceding to his death. These are not going to deter the students and Dalits community in their resolve for an equal space within the university campuses and in the society at large. The heightened consciousness and realization today has helped coming together of the students community, dalit struggles and other identity and issue based struggles together to work for annihilation of caste and fight the caste based discrimination. The hidden discrimination in the ‘merit’ based institutions of the higher education, media, other professional bodies, civil society spaces, are constantly being exposed and challenged.

Government on its own part have done and reacted with violence, vengeance and vilification of the struggle and bestowing of rewards on the perpetrators. In HCU, Radhika Vemula, Rohit’s mother, till date hasn’t been able to visit the ‘Rohith Smarak’ inside the campus; Rohith’s friends continue to be persecuted;  and on the other hand VC Prof Appa Rao was recently felicitated. These practices are similar to what’s happening in other universities. Smriti Irani, former minister of HRD was shunted to another Ministry but that hasn’t changed the nefarious design of those in the power. We condemn every such attempt of this government and vow to continue fighting along with others.

We want to reiterate our support for the call of enactment of the ‘Rohith Act’ for ending caste based discrimination within the educational institutions and fasten the investigation into the circumstances which led to his suicide and punish those responsible for it.

National Team of Advisors, Convenors and Special Invitees of NAPM

NAPM : Advisors and Special Invitees

Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy,  Prafulla Samantara, Binayak Sen, Sandeep Pandey, Sudhir Vombatkere, Gabriele Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan, CR Neelakandan, Anand Mazgaonkar,  P. Chennaiah, Ramakrishnam Raju,  Sister Celia,  Suniti S R, Gautam Bandopadhyay, Anjali Bharadwaj, Kavita Srivastava, Arundhati Dhuru, Kaladas Dahariya.

National Conveners : 2016-2018

Amitava Mitra, West Bengal; Arul Doss, Tamil Nadu; Ashish Ranjan, Bihar; Dayamani Barla, Jharkhand; Dr. Sunilam, Madhya Pradesh; Faisal Khan, NCR & Haryana; Kailash Meena, Rajasthan; Krishnakant, Gujarat; Lingraj Azad, Orissa; Madhuresh Kumar, Delhi; Manesh Gupta, Uttar Pradesh; Mahendra Yadav, Bihar; Meera Sanghamitra, Telangana; Nanhu Prasad, Delhi; Rajendra Ravi, Delhi; Richa Singh, Uttar Pradesh; Sister  Dorothy, Bihar; Suhas Kolhekar, Mahasrashtra; Vilayodi Venugopal, Kerala; Vimal Bhai, Uttarakhand.

Prominent Indian Groups Support Struggle against Rampal Project

Press Release

Prominent Indian Groups Support Struggle against Rampal Project

 January 6, 2017: New Delhi

Prominent people’s movements and other civil society organisations from India today extended their support and solidarity to the struggle against the India supported Rampal power project in Bangladesh, coinciding the Global Day of Protest called by the National Committee to Protect Oil-Gas-Mineral Resources Power and Port, which spearhead the struggle.

Urging the Government of India to withdraw from the project, the statement said, “With India’s NTPC jointly owning the project, BHEL supplying equipments and Indian ExIm Bank providing finances, India’s footprint in this project is too large which has the potential to perpetuate discontent between the two neighbouring countries.”

Signatories of the Letter of Solidarity include, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, National Alliance of People’s Movements, All India Union of Forest Working People, Indian Social Action Forum –  INSAF, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Greenpeace India, Environment Support Group, Bangalore, Matu Jan Sangathan, Uttrakhand and others.

The statement said, “Sundarbans is part of the culture and ethos of both Bangladesh and India, supporting the livelihood of millions and protecting them from natural calamities. Any damage to it either side of the borders will result in monumental disaster.”

While urging the Government of India to withdraw from the project, the groups also urged the government to “extend financial & technical help to its commendable decentralized solar energy program, in line with India’s own commitment to renewables and in spirit of the Paris Agreement.”

Full text of the Letter of Solidarity:

Letter of solidarity to

National Committee to Protect Oil-Gas-Mineral Resources Power and Port, Bangladesh

On the Global Day of Protest for the Sundarbans, January 7, 2017

We, people’s movements and other civil society organisations from India, extend our support and solidarity to the National Committee in their struggle against the Rampal power project and to protect the Sundarbans.

Sundarbans is part of the culture and ethos of both Bangladesh and India, supporting the livelihood of millions and protecting them from natural calamities. Any damage to it either side of the borders will result in monumental disaster.

With India’s NTPC jointly owning the project, BHEL supplying equipments and Indian ExIm Bank providing finances, India’s footprint in this project is too large which has the potential to perpetuate discontent between the two neighbouring countries. India’s pronounced commitment to renewable energy and its investment in coal based Rampal project in such a eco-sensitive terrain do not match. We urge the Government of India to withdraw from this project and extend financial & technical help to its commendable decentralized solar energy program, in line with India’s own commitment to renewables and in spirit of the Paris Agreement.

We commend the sustained non-violent struggle of the National Committee against this disastrous project and extend all support and solidarity to it. We will do all at our disposal to urge the Government of India to withdraw from this project.

Signed by:

1  South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People

2  National Alliance of People’s Movements

3  All India Union of Forest Working People

4  Indian Social Action Forum –  INSAF

5  Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha

6  All India Forum of Forest Movements

7  Mines, Minerals & People

8  North East Peoples Alliance

9  Narmada Bachao Andolan

10           Greenpeace India

11           Environment Support Group, Bangalore

12           Matu Jan Sangathan, Uttrakhand

13           Environics Trust, New Delhi

14           Society for Rural Urban and Tribal Initiative, New Delhi

15           Institute for Democracy and Sustainability, New Delhi

16           Delhi Forum, New Delhi

17           Intercultural Resources, New Delhi

18           Equations, Bangalore

19           Mahan Sangharsh Samiti, Madhya Pradesh

20           Srijan Lokhit Samiti, Madhya Pradesh

21           Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR, Jharkhand

22           Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Gujarat

23           Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan, Gujarat

24           Teeradesha Mahila Vedi, Kerala

25           Indigenous Perspectives, Manipur

26           Manipur Cycle Club, Manipur

27           Public Finance Public Accountability Collective, New Delhi

28           Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai

29           Centre for Financial Accountability, New Delhi

30           The Research Collective, New Delhi

31           Tarini Manchanda, filmmaker

32           Benny Kuruvilla, Researcher, Delhi

33           Kiran Shaheen, New Delhi

Buy Social Movements Calendar online at Gestures

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Uttarakhand High Court orders to evict Van Gujjars from forest

Press Note:

Press Note

 Strategy  meeting with the Van Gujjar community and other forest dependent communities in the light of the Uttarakhand High Court order to evict them  from Corbett to Rajaji National Parks in Uttrakhand. 

4th Jan 2017, Press Club, Dehradun, Uttrakhand

The Van Gujjar community and other traditional forest dwellers in the adjoining villages / areas of Rajaji and Corbett National parks are seething with anger at this 19 December 2016 order of the Uttarkhand High Court by a division bench of the High Court comprising of Hon’ble Justice Rajiv Sharma and Aalok Singh. What began as a case about forest fires, but the judges took it on to a different trajectory and blamed the Van Gujjars for forest fires, calling them enemies of the forest and described them as a community of “encroachers” who need to be summarily thrown out of the forests of Uttarakhand. This raises serious concern on distributive justice system and what needs to be noted that this order comes in the tenth year of the passing of the Special Act of Parliament – Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of ) Forest Rights Act, which was passed in December 2006. The judgement has completely ignored the existence of such a historic Act and has instead advised the government to work out a new National Forest Policy which will ensure displacement of forest dependent communities – whether tribal or other traditional forest dwellers, from the forest areas. The question which immediately arises is why is the higher judiciary advising the government to effectively “kill” the Forest Rights Act. The order also completely ignores an earlier milestone order of the same High Court – 1720/2008, filed by Van Gujjar Kalyan Samity, which ruled that the State Government has to recognize the rights of the Van Gujjar community residing in/along Rajaji National Park area as per FRA 2006 and grant them ownership rights. This order dated 19 December 2016, does not even mention the FRA 2006 or the 2008 High Court order and in fact this order turns the clock backward and essentially talks about strengthening the Forest Department and leaving the entire forest governance in their hands with all avenues of corporate interest further consolidated, something which the current BJP led NDA government is also actively involved in, as it works full time to dilute this historic act to empower tribal and other forest dependent communities, in the interest of corporates. It completely contradicts the letter and spirit of the 2006 FRA which accepted the “historical injustice” on forest dependent communities – something which was perpetrated by this very colonial institution called forest department.

Uttarakhand has one of the worst track records in the implementation of FRA even after ten years of its enactment. It is ironical that in a State which has more than 65% of its total land area under forest cover only one FRA claim has been settled. About 486 claims of Van Gujjar community of Rajaji National Park are gathering dust at the Sub Divisional

 level committee and the community has no clue as to the status of their claim processing. The Gram Sabha elects a Forest rights Committee, which has constitutional validity, has been completely sidetracked in any attempts to file claims under FRA. The Van Gujjars have been trying continuously to get their rights recongnized by launching many struggles and also  either through dialouge  with political parties or their influential leaders or by fighting legal battles to win orders in their favour.

Neither the earlier BJP government nor the current Congress government in Uttarakhand have shown the “political will” to implement this historic act. The gross negligence by governments’ has resulted in continued and increasing harassment, attacks and extortions by the Forest Department  personnel and police on Van Gujjar and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers of the area. Incidents like the uncalled for ransacking of the houses of Noor Jamal  , Jahur Hassan of Andheri and Binj range in Rajaji National Park  in 2008, the demolition of hundreds of settlements(hutments) in Asarodi RNP in the peak winter months of 2008 and the recent repeated attacks on Mohd. Shafi’s settlement in Corbett National Park Area are just a few examples of the anti-social character of the Forest department. As recently as in November 2016, Mohd. Shafi’s house was demolished without any notice and women badly beaten up  by the Forest Department and their police.

Despite there being a Congress government in Uttarakhand, Van Gujjars and Van Tongiyas numbering in thousands have hardly benefitted from rights assured for them in FRA, 2006. It is the same Congress party, when in power along with Left parties, during UPA 1, took initiative in passing this historic Act in 2006 to restore the rights,  ownership to the tribal and other traditional forest dependent communities. But the State governments of the same party are taking a step motherly approach towards this Act. In Himachal Pradesh also the Congress led government has filed a petition to bypass the FRA. When local social movements protested and brought the matter upto the Congress Vice President r Rahul Gandhi that the State government had to backtrack; but they have not yet withdrawn the petition from the court. The local social movements have been protesting this vociferously.

This current order of the Uttarakhand High Court is a matter of serious concern for all forest dependent communities across the country as this will be a precedent set which could be applied in other National Park, Sanctuaries, Tiger Reserves etc. The Van Gujjar and Van Tongiya and other traditional forest dependent communities around Rajaji and Corbett National Parks are  regrouping to build up a strong movement against this illegal, unjust order. Under the joint initiative of the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), Vanpanchayat Sangharsh Morcha, Van Gujjar Kalyan Samity, Vangram Bhu Adhikar Morcha, Vikalp Social Organisation, Himalayan Niti Abhiyan a meeting is being organized at the Press Club in Dehra Doon on 4 January 2017 to discuss the strategies of countering this nefarious activity of the powers that be and to push for unconditional withdrawal of this unconstitutional order of the Uttarakhand High Court. Three primary demands are :

  1. The State Government of Uttarkhand has to immediately challenge this High Court order by taking appropriate legal steps like a review petition in the High Court.
  2. The State government has to take immediate steps for the effective implementation of FRA in the state and social movements will ensure that the state government is forced to carry out its constitutional responsibility. It must also dialogue with social movements to facilitate effective implementation of FRA in the state.
  3. Social movements will see to it that the issue of Forest Rights becomes an election issue in all State Elections in 2017 and that all political parties take up this issue. Peoples’ movement have already launched their struggle to ensure this happens which will gather momentum in the days to come.

Munnilal  (Vangram bhu adhikar Morcha/AIUFWP)            Tarun Joshi (Vanpanchayat Sangharsh Morcha)                Md. Irshad(Van Gujjar Kalyan Samity)         Mustafa Chopra (Van Gujjar Kalyan Samity )               Guman Singh  (Himalayan Niti Abhiyan)                   Roma  (AIUFWP)    Ashok Chowdhury  (AIUFWP)          Vipin Gairola(Vikalp Social Organisation)                      Avijit Wasi(Vikalp Social Organisation)        

Contact : 9997500638, 99634630520                                                        Date: 4 January 2017.

 प्रेस विज्ञिप्त

उत्तराखंड़ में उच्च न्यायालय द्वारा वनगुजरों एवं अन्य वनाश्रित समुदाय को कार्बेट व राजाजी नेशनल पार्क से बेदखली के सम्बन्ध में जनसंगठनों व् समुदाय की बैठक 

4 जनवरी 2017, देहरादून प्रेस क्लब, इंदिरा मार्किट के पास, देहरादून, उत्तराखंड. 

दिनांक 19/12/2016 को नैनीताल उच्च न्यायालय की न्यायमूर्ति राजीव शर्मा व आलोक सिंह की खंड़पीठ द्वारा कार्बेट व राजाजी नेशनल पार्क से वनगुजरों को वनों से बेदखल करने के आदेश से तमाम वनगुजर एवं वनों में रहने वाले वनाश्रित समुदाय में घोर आक्रोश व्याप्त है। उच्च न्यायालय में वनों में आग को लेकर दायर की गई एक याचिका के तहत तमाम वनगुजर समुदाय को ही वनों का दुश्मन ठहराते हुए उच्च न्यायालय ने जिस तरह से वनगुजरों को अतिक्रमणकारी घोषित किया है व न्यायिक प्रक्रिया पर एक सवालिया निशान लगाती है। गौर तलब है कि यह आदेश एक ऐसे वक्त पर दिया जा रहा है जबकि देश में वनाश्रित समुदाय के साथ हुए ऐतिहासिक अन्याय को समाप्त करने के लिए सन् 2006 में संसद द्वारा ऐतिहासिक विशिष्ट ‘‘ अनुसूचित जनजाति एवं अन्य परम्परागत वनाधिकारों को मान्यता’’ कानून यानि वनाधिकार कानून पारित किया गया है। इस कानून की अनदेखी कर उच्च न्यायालय का यह आदेश जिसमें केन्द्र सरकार से एक नई वननीति को लागू कर वनों में रहने वाले परम्परागत समुदायों को बेदखल करने के सुझाव दिए गए है यह सवाल पैदा करती है कि आखिर उच्च न्यायालय द्वारा संसद के ही अन्य विशिष्ट कानून की पूरी तरह से नज़रअंदाज क्यों किया गया? जबकि इसी न्यायालय द्वारा अनुच्छेद 226 के तहत याचिका संख्या 1720/2008 में वनगुजर कल्याण समिति की एक दायर याचिका पर मा0 उच्च न्यायालय ने राज्य सरकार को राजाजी नेशनल पार्क में वनगुजरों को ‘‘ वनाधिकार कानून 2006’’ के तहत उनके अधिकारों को मान्यता देते हुए उन्हें बसाने की बात कही गई है। लेकिन दिनांक 19/12/2016 के इस आदेश में न ही वनाधिकार कानून का कहीं जिक्र है और न ही उच्च न्यायालय के 2008 के आदेश का जिक्र। इस आदेश के तहत एक बार फिर से वनों को वनविभाग व कम्पनीयों को सौंपने की बात को मजबूत करने की कोशिश की गई है जबकि 2006 में संसद द्वारा वनाश्रित समुदाय के साथ ऐतिहासिक अन्याय की बात को स्वीकारा गया है जो कि उपनिवेशिक वनविभाग द्वारा ही किए गए है।

वैसे भी उत्तराखंड़ एक ऐसा प्रदेश है जहां पर वनाधिकार कानून को लागू होने के दस वर्ष बाद भी अभी तक कानून को प्रभावी ढंग से लागू नहीं किया गया है। प्रदेश के कुल भूभाग के 65ः वनों से आच्छादित होने के बावजूद यह प्रदेश पूरे देश में वनाधिकार कानून को लागू करने में सबसे पीछे है जहां केवल एक ही दावा ही निस्तारित किया गया है। राजाजी पार्क के ही लगभग 486 दावे अभी तक उपखंड़ समिति में लम्बित पड़े हैं व इनकी क्या स्थिति इस के बारे में अभी तक वनगुजरों को किसी भी प्रकार की जानकारी नहीं दी गई है। इस कानून को लागू करने की ग्राम सभा की इकाई ग्राम स्तरीय वनाधिकार समिति जो कि एक संवैधानिक इकाई है, को किसी प्रकार की मान्यता ही नहीं दी गई है। इस कानून को लागू कराने के लिए वनगुजरों तमाम प्रयास किए गए व किए जा रहे हैं, चाहे वो राजनैतिक रूप से सरकारों पर दबाव डालना हो या फिर न्यायालय में दौड़ लगा कर अपने पक्ष में आदेश लेना। लेकिन उत्तराखंड में  न ही पूर्व में भाजपा सरकार और न ही मौजूदा कांग्रेस सरकार इस कानून को लागू कराने में राजनैतिक इच्छा दिखा रही है। वहीं केन्द्र की भाजपा सरकार द्वारा भी इस कानून की पूरी तरह से उपेक्षा की जा रही है।  कानून की सरकार की इस उपेक्षा की भारी कीमत वनगुजरों को उठानी पड़ रही है, आए दिन उनपर वनविभाग व पुलिस द्वारा उत्पीड़न किया जाता है। राजाजी के अंधेरी व बींज के जहुर हसन और नूरआलम के डेरों को बेरहमी से 2008 में उजाड़ना व लूटपाट करना, आसारोड़ी के ही सैंकड़ों डेरों को 2008 ही में सर्दी के मौसम में बेदखल करना और वहीं कार्बेट नेशनल पार्क के मो0 शफी के डेरे को कई बार उजाड़ना शामिल है। अभी नवम्बर माह में ही मो0 शफी के डेरे पर वनविभाग एवं पुलिस द्वारा डेरे पर उपस्थित महिलाओं पर हमला किया गया व उनका डेरा बिना किसी नोटिस के उजाड़ा गया।

प्रदेश में काग्रेस की सरकार होने के बावजूद भी वनाधिकार कानून और वनगुजरों एवं सैंकड़ों वनटांगीया, गोठ व खत्ते गांव जो वनग्राम की श्रेणी में आते हैं वह इस कानून के लाभ से वंचित हैं। गौर तलब है कि कांगेस सरकार द्वारा ही सन् 2006 में इस कानून को वनाश्रित समुदाय को उनके वनाधिकारों और भौमिक अधिकारों को मान्यता देने के लिए यह कानून पारित किया गया था। लेकिन इसी राजनैतिक दल की सरकारें राज्यों में इस कानून के प्रति सौतेला व्यवहार कर रही है। जैसे कि फिलहाल हिमाचल प्रदेश में भी सरकार द्वारा वनाधिकार कानून को निरस्त करने की एक याचिका दायर की गई। जब वहां के जनसंगठनों द्वारा जनांदोलन किया गया व कांग्रेस पार्टी के शीर्ष नेतृत्व राहुल गांधी तक यह बात पहुंचायी तब हिमाचल प्रदेश की सरकार को पीछे हटना पड़ा। लेकिन उक्त याचिका अभी भी न्यायालय में वापिस नहीं ली गई है। इस संदर्भ में वहां पर भी जनाआदंोलन ज़ारी है। उत्तराखंड़ में उच्च न्यायालय का यह रूख वनाश्रित समुदाय के लिए एक विशेष खतरा है जिसका पूर ज़ोर रूप से विरोध करने के लिए वनगुजर, वनग्राम समुदाय एवं अन्य वनाश्रित समुदाय व्यापक रूप से गोलबंद हो रहे हैं।

4 जनवरी 2017 को देहरादून के प्रेस कल्ब में अखिल भारतीय वनजन श्रमजीवी यूनियन, वनपंचायत संघर्ष मोर्चा, वनगुजर कल्याण समिति, विकल्प सामाजिक संगठन व हिमालयन नीति अभियान के संयुक्त नेतृत्व में इस उच्च न्यायालय आदेश के विरोध में आगामी रणनीति को तय करने के लिए विशाल सभा बुलाई गई है। इस बैठक में संयुक्त रूप से राजनैतिक एवं कानूनी संघर्ष की रणनीति बनाई जाएगी। जो कि निम्नलिखित मुददों पर आधारित होगी –

  1. उच्च न्यायालय के 2016 के आदेश पर सरकार द्वारा उच्च न्यायालय में रिवयू याचिका दायर की जाए व इस आदेश की वापसी सुनिश्चित कराई जाए।
  1. सरकार को वनाधिकार कानून को प्रभावी ढंग से लागू करने के लिए जनसंगठनों एवं जनांदोलनों द्वारा बाध्य किया जाएगा ताकि वनाश्रित समुदाय के मानवाधिकार सुरक्षित रहें व वे सम्मानजनक नागरिक की तरह अपना जीवन व्यतीत करें। सरकार जनसंगठनों की बैठक करें व इस कानून को लागू करने के लिए कारगर कदम उठाए।
  1. 2017 के विधान सभा चुनाव में सभी राजनैतिक दलों द्वारा वनाधिकार के मुददे को प्रमुख मुददा बनाया जाए चूंकि उत्तराखंड़ की सामाजिक व आर्थिक जीवन शैली वनों पर आधारित है। जनसंगठनों द्वारा वनाधिकार के मुददे को चुनावी अभियान का मुददा बनाया जाएगा। इस संदर्भ में जनांदोलन की शुरूआत हो चुकी है।

मुन्नीलाल     तरूण जोशी     मो0 ईशाद   मुुस्तफा चोपड़ा     गुमान सिंह    अशोक चैधरी   रोमा विपिन गैरोला   अविजीत वासी

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Social Movements Calendar 2017 – Released

Social Movements Calendar 2017 – Dalit struggles in India – a compilation of Dalit struggles over the last 100 years has been released along with a powerful companion Resource Book.

Suggested Contribution for the Calendar: Rs. 100/- and the Resource Book: Rs. 100/-. Postage/Courier Charges extra. We accept Paytm. For orders and further query: Please write to: ihpindia@gmail.com

Social Movements Calendar 2017

Coming Soon!!!

 

Rising from the Margins….. Dalit Struggles in India… Social Movements Calendar

and a Resource book on Dalit Struggles

A vast collection of ……………

Protests, Rallys, Dharnas, Hungerstrikes, Hartal, Judicial Interventions, Custodial torture, Police atrocities, Murders, Rape of Dalit women and girls, Massacre of Dalits ……….. …. compilation of events over the last two hundred years ………..

icr-dalit-calendar-poster

Africa-India Solidarity Forum – Report

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Africa-India Solidarity Forum Meeting
Africa-India Solidarity Forum Meeting

AFRICA-INDIA SOLIDARITY FORUM

INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUE

Held on 10 JUNE, 2016 at Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi

REPORT

The Africa-India Solidarity Forum initiated by Intercultural Resources held its first Intercultural Dialogue on 10th June, 2016 at Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi. The meeting was called to draw attention to the spate of racial attacks on the citizens of the African nationalities residing in Delhi and other parts of the country. The meeting was attended by a large number of university students, activists, scholars, and diplomats from India as well as representatives from African communities living in the NCR.

The concept note on Africa-India Solidarity Forum highlighted the shared plurality and diversity that characterized the two regions as well as the historical socio-cultural and economic ties have with one another which reflect the connectivity and closeness that the regions share. The note also emphasized the common struggles against colonial rule as well as the platform of the non-aligned movement which “bound us together in our struggle for a different kind of destiny where our countries would experience genuine sovereignty and our peoples social justice and equality in the comity of nations”. Simultaneously, the current reality of neo-liberal policies and globalizing economies has also brought forth the question of a developmental agenda based on rights along with an inclusive platform for social justice.

The note called for urgent measures to stem the tide of deterioration in relations with Africans, to build bridges between cultures and communities and to further dialogue between the peoples of our countries, while at the same time ensuring that safety and security of all migrant populations.

  1. T. George welcomed the participants and outlined the purpose of the meeting along with an idea of Intercultural Resources and its activities.

The meeting was chaired by Dr. Indu Agnihotri, Director of Centre for Women’s Development Studies who began by referring to the present day context wherein global structures and power played a role.

 The key note speaker, Prof.  Achin Vanaik spoke about the need for analyzing racism and its various manifestations and its close connection with politics and power structures of global capitalism. He pointed out that Zionism was not so much anti-Arab as it was anti-Palestine. The manifestations of racism, i.e.,  skin colour racism has  characterised everyday life in Indian society and could be traced to the ‘Aryan’ and non-Aryan divide and  its theorization which finally culminated in the theory of the ‘divine race’ and its close connection with casteism, though casteism was a much more complex phenomenon. But both were social constructs and ideologies that essentialised the diverse and complex structures of society. These were basically ideologies which supported existing power structures.  He also referred to the close relationship between casteism and sexism, though he pointed out that the issue of sexism was far more complex, beginning from the intimate realm of the family to more institutionalized realms of society.  The manifestations of racism were complex and could take various forms; he pointed out that while skin colour racism may be absent but racism is most often   institutionalised.  It was necessary examine the links between these various exclusionary ideologies to the power structures that support them. He also referred to the Islamophobia that was speaking across the world.

Zaharuddeen Mohammad, spokesperson of the Association of the African Students in India spoke of the historical ties that have characterised Africa and India and spoke of the number of students who have been attracted to India for the opportunities it offers for higher education. But regrettably, they have had in recent years experiences of racial attacks.  He thanked the Forum for taking up the issue and offered the cooperation of the Association for future activities of the Forum.

Dr. Muniza Khan, registrar of the Gandhian Institute of Studies, scholar and activist spoke on behalf of the Saanjha Sanskriti Manch, Banaras. She mentioned the composite culture that characterizes Banaras and its people and gave instances of so many foreigners who have made Banaras their home. However, this was being undermined in multiple ways. She expressed her support for the Forum and its activities.

Ibrahim Djidi Adam, a student from Libya spoke emotionally of the kind of racial abuse that the many students and businessmen had of late begun   to experience in India along with the stereotyping of all Africans as drug peddlers and as those who practice cannibalism.  Women were particularly targeted as loose and promiscuous and indulging in prostitution. He also pointed out that there were many Indians who were friends.   He also hoped that the formation of such forums would help Africans feel more secure.

Dr. Fabian, former Ambassador to Italy spoke of the xenophobia that was sweeping across the world.  He expressed his solidarity and support for the Forum.

Suhas Borkar, Convener of the Working Group on Alternative Strategies dwelt on the manner in which the fabric of pluralism was being undermined and a process of ‘othering’ was at work even in Indian society wherein Dalits and people from the Northeast India were also targets of such exclusionary ideologies.  He expressed his solidarity and support for the Forum and its activities.

Seema Mustafa, well known journalist and activist, pointed out that the racial attacks against the Africans in recent times is a manifestation of the phenomenon of intolerance that is sweeping across society. There is an overall process of othering that is at work and that is being consciously promoted; at different points of time, different groups were being targeted, whether it is Dalits, Northeastern peoples, minorities or women. There is a need therefore to confront the various forms of exclusionary ideologies and practices. She offered her support for the activities of the Forum.

Mukesh Kulariya of the JNUSU spoke about the spread of various forms of communal and narrow ideologies and also of corporate fascism. He expressed the solidarity of the JNUSU and full support for the Forum in its activities.

Dr. Ashwini Kumar, a well known academic form Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai  spoke the need to redefine capitalism and also to understand xenophobia and the politics around it, if we need to confront it.

Dr. Agnihotri, the chairperson suggested that the activities of Forum should also include inviting African women to share their experiences while living in India.

Dr, Vasanthi Raman stated that a small steering committee would be formed and would meet soon to discuss the activities of the Africa-India Solidarity Forum.