14TH NOVEMBER, 2017
Ambedkar Lecture Series-10
MASTER AND SLAVES
Youtube video link Ambedkar Lecture Series: Master and Slaves
BSG had its Ambedkar Lecture Series of the November month on topic Master and Slaves: Rethinking “What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables” (1945), by Dr. Dilip M. Menon, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.
The talk looked critically at this statement of Ambedkar’s opposition to the politics of nationalism as embodied in the Indian National Congress and Gandhi. It is an excoriation of the bad faith represented by the nationalist policy of transforming the struggle for recognition by untouchables in India from a political strategy of separation into a guided one under the nationalist umbrella. Apart from a critique of ameliorative politics, Ambedkar offers a rejoinder to Gandhi’s fast of 1930 which put paid to the idea of separate electorates for untouchables as a guarantee of political equality. The epigraph to the book from Thucydides, “It may be your interest to be our masters, but how can it be ours to be your slaves”, introduces a radical reframing of the relation between nationalist leaders and the untouchables.
Summary from the talk:
Ambedkar Lecture Series for November included a talk by Prof. Dilip M. Menon, Director, Center for Indian studies in Africa, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. He focused his talk on ‘Master and Slaves’ using the analogy for Gandhi and Untouchables. He explored the ideology of Dr. Ambedkar as seeking fraternity vis-à-vis Gandhi who valued his reputation more as the savior of untouchables. While the ‘humiliating railway experience’ of Gandhi in South Africa is well advertised, Ambedkar’s struggle and humiliation is ‘normalized’. This itself speaks to caste dynamics of historians and selective writing of history. Discussing, Dr. Ambedkar’s text, What Gandhi and Congress have done to Untouchables?, Menon maintained that Ambedkar writes about what they have done ‘to’ the untouchables not ‘for’ the untouchables since their contribution to the community is not positive but indeed harmful. While Gandhi maintained that the question of caste was religious, it was oxymoronic on his part that untouchables existed in Hinduism through exclusion. Ambedkar advocated for direct action and social mobilization apart from the Constitution which he saw existing in the liberal framework of democracy wherefore law was inadequate to create fraternity. The idea of fraternity or ‘Maitri’ comes from Buddhism which itself emerged from rebellion against Brahminical forces to begin with. The lecture shed light on various myths around Gandhi as a tall leader who dwarfs in the magnanimity of Ambedkar’s justified presence in the Indian politico-social scene. By bringing forth an alternative narrative of the harm done by Gandhi’s regressive ideology for the untouchables as compared to Dr. Ambedkar who envisioned a society based on liberty, equality, and fraternity, Menon concluded that Ambedkar needs to be read in various gestures to get a grasp of his scholarship and vision.
7TH-8TH OCTOBER, 2017
Student Workshop 2017
You might have attended or heard about the Students Workshop 2017 organized by GEN-Global Empower Network, the US Ambedkarites Collective, on Saturday Oct 7th 2017 in NJ that received an overwhelming response, especially from our students in India who joined online and sat throughout the night for attending the entire workshop. At the conclusion of the workshop one of the feedbacks we received from both mentors and students alike is that we want to expand the students-mentor initiative across India, across disciplines for higher studies both in India and abroad.
5TH OCTOBER, 2017
Ambedkar Lecture Series-9
PLURALISM AND THE POST-MINORITY CONDITION
BSG had its Ambedkar Lecture Series of the October month on topic “Pluralism and the Post-Minority Condition” at Harvard University. Speaker of the lecture series will be Mr. Khalid Anis Ansari.
Khalid Anis Ansari is a Director, Dr. Ambedkar Centre for Exclusion Studies & Transformative Action (ACESTA), Glocal University, India. He works in the field of social and cultural theory and is interested in grassroots organizing, scholarly interventions to publicize the history of resistance movements, and the social and political aspirations of subordinated caste Pasmanda Muslims. He was awarded the HIVOS PhD Fellowship—Pluralism Knowledge Programme (2010-2013) for his doctoral work on caste movements among Indian Muslims with the University of Humanistic Studies (UvH), Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Summary from the talk:
Dr. Khalid Anis Ansari enlightened the group about aspects of discrimination within the Muslim community. ‘Minority politics has failed Pasmanda community’, he said explaining that although 85 percent of Muslims in India are from Pasmanda (or Dalit) community, they face economic and social violence at the hands of ‘upper-caste’ Muslims. He emphasized that Pasmanda Muslims are grossly underrepresented in parliament and do not have any attention directed towards them as Muslims are grouped together as a minority. Although caste system is not ‘supposed’ to exist in Islam, segregation in mosques and graveyards is a common occurrence in India which shows that caste transcends religion. The ‘Pasmanda movement’ led by many scholars such as Ali Anwar embraces the identity of Pasmada group and is trying to raise awareness about the ‘fake’ minority narrative of upper caste Muslims. The movement stands to advocate for Pasmanda Muslims in relation to issues of personal law, reservation and electoral politics, as well as demands of legal action against physical violence on the community. The lecture highlighted the need for scholarship among other religious groups which face caste-based discrimination as a culture of harm.
22ND SEPTEMBER, 2017
Ambedkar Lecture Series-8
CASTE, MEDIA AND DIVERSITY
BSG had its September month Ambedkar Lecture Series on the topic “Caste, Media and Diversity” at Harvard University. Speaker of the lecture series was Mr. Sudipto Mondal, a writer and journalist who is one of few dalits to break into the top echelons of India’s highly casteist english media. He visited U.S. in connection with his upcoming book. Sudipto shared precepts from his book with the group. He weaved a poignant and heart-warming tale of struggle of our young Dalit icon, Rohith Vemula which has shaped the contemporary anti-caste struggle in many ways. The connections and social movements after Rohith’s institutional murder including Jignesh Mewani’s role in boycotting cow skinning in Gujarat and student resistance in universities was discussed. It was followed by a lively discussion among the author and audience about resistance within classrooms and his own struggle within the casteist media groups. The lecture highlighted another aspect of caste discrimination within Indian society and emphasized on the values of resistance to hold fast Ambedkarite struggle in India.
20TH AUGUST, 2017
Ambedkar Lecture Series-7
DISCUSSION WITH ENTREPRENEUR AND DALIT ACTIVIST
Mrs. Kamala Hemchuri, is a prominent Dalit women activist. She has been a very active civil society leader in the country changing lives of Dalit youth through education. By equipping hundreds of Dalit youths with skills and competency required for a self-sustained and dignified life, PDRC (www.pdrc.org.np) has carved a distinct niche for itself amidst a number of organizations working in the field of education and competency development.
Summary form the discussion:
Kamala Hemchuri, a Dalit activist and entrepreneur from Nepal joined Boston Study Group for ‘Ambedkar Lecture Series’ for August. She is President of ‘Professional Development and Research Center (PDRC)’, an organization working to empower Dalit youth in Kathmandu, Nepal. She was joined by Reemya from New Jersy, who herself has worked for PDRC for many years. She has recently translated Dr Ambedkar’s iconic text ‘Annihilation of Caste’ in Nepali language and published it. Dalits in Nepal have actually not read Dr. Ambedkar due to inaccessibility of language. She believes that unless the masses are educated about the ideas to break caste, they will not be able to emancipate themselves. She has gifted one copy of her book to Boston Study Group. She is now in the process of translating ‘Who are Untouchables’ into Nepali as well.
Post introductions and a hearty lunch, Kamalaji explained about the Dalit context in Nepal. While constitution of Nepal was being drafted, representation of Dalits was a constant issue they faced. She explained how even after agreement of certain affirmative action policies, Dalit rights were being violated. Eventually, certain representation of Dalits was included in the constitution after constant struggle. She emphasized that there is a huge gap between political movement and cultural movement in support of Dalits in Nepal, which is not very different from India.
Sharing some statistics, Kamalaji mentioned that according to Government of Nepal there are only 13% Dalits while in actual (as per many surveys by other agencies) there are 20% Dalits in Nepal who amount to about 6 million people. Of these more than 50% live under poverty line. Dalit female literacy rate is only 24% and school drop-out rate for Dalits is very high. Amidst this, there are very minimal efforts being taken by government for improving their lives, socially as well as economically. She believes that education is the key.
PDRC has been working to empower Dalit youth by providing them career exposure and mentoring them for various career choices. Thousands of Dalit youth in Nepal have benefitted by associating themselves with PDRC as they become doctors, engineers, lawyers and civil servants. PDRC has recently registered a branch in Baltimore as a 501 (c) organization in order to raise funds for Nepal chapter. Many students are now interested in studying abroad but do not have any guidance for this. Apart from scholarships, these young minds need nurturing and help to navigate the education system here. This is expected to be a collaboration point between PDRC and Boston Study Group.
It was requested by Kamalaji for Boston Study Group to be engaged in this effort to provide mentoring support for Dalit youth from Nepal who do not know much about the higher education sector in U.S. Boston Study Group has affirmed that they would be more than happy to collaborate with PDRC in this effort and will provide handholding support to Dalit youth from Nepal for preparing them to study abroad. However it is essential to have mentors and a lead role from Nepali counterparts in this effort. Kamalaji has assured that she will identify and introduce Boston Study Group members to other Nepali Dalits who want to collaborate for mentoring Dalit youth from Nepal. This seems like a new beginning for Boston Study Group to engage in cross-country collaboration for improving access and mentoring support to young minds who want to break free from the chains of caste. Jai Bhim!
15TH JULY, 2017
Dalit and Black Lives Matter Symposium
The Dalit and Black Lives Matter Symposium was co-hosted by Black Lives Matter, Boston and Boston Study Group to explore the dehumanizing caste system in India and the Dalit resistance. This symposium was first of its kind in the world where voices against injustice came together from different national communities. It also looked at the historical linkages of Dalit-Black solidarity from India, South Africa to the Civil Rights Movement and Black Panther Party as well as linkages between the two modern liberation movements.
This symposium consisted of political education, information about current local and transnational work, and imagining greater solidarity.
28TH JUNE, 2017
Ambedkar Lecture Series-6
KARMA AND FIGHT AGAINST INJUSTICE
Boston Study Group presents, Ambedkar lecture series on topic Karma and Fight Against Injustice delivered by venerable Bhante Ananda, Secretary of Maha Bodhi Society (Bangalore, India).
Time: 6pm to 9pm
Venue: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Classroom 56-167 (Whitaker Building), 02139, 21 Ames St., Cambridge, MA 02142
Highlights from the talk:
Intention we produce in our mind is karma. Having intended one performs actions through part, through speech and through mind and whatever action we do that is ‘kamma’ or karma. When we produce intention and we perform the action — it is a force that produces karmic energy that which has capacity give results. We are acting everyday with intention based on ignorance or generosity/wisdom i.e. Wholesome and unwholesome mind.
Without intention actions are not karmas.It is not same as killing a person. Intention is what makes it an action .Kamma is the intention and the action that you perform following the intention.
First verse of Dhammapada –
Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā manoseṭṭhā manomayā
Manasā ce paduṭṭhena bhāsati vā karoti vā
Tato naṃ dukkhamanveti cakkaṃ’va vahato padaṃ.
Mind precede everything. Before everything mind moves. Mind is the greatest thing. It is mind made.
Among the people there exists three kind of views:
1. Predetermination –because of the past kamma
2. Everything is god controlled
3. Whatever happens it is without cause and without reason
Buddha rejected all the above views by saying if everything is fixed where is the thing of changing it for improvement or progress ?We can change the course of life even at the very last moment of our life by doing good.
Injustice is something unpleasant is happening.There are 24 conditions among them, kamma is one. We can change the influences of the past and the present karma.
How are you going to deal with the people who are doing injustice to you? –We should be able to get good things from the people and leave aside the bad things. With compassion and action, you should fix the problem of injustice.
2ND JUNE, 2017
Ambedkar Lecture Series-5
INDIAN CONSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE AND CURRENT CHALLENGES
Boston Study Group presents, Dr Suresh Mane, former Head of Department of Law, University of Mumbai, author of 13 books on various issues spanning constitution, sociology, political ecology of caste and historian of bahujan movement of India. An imminent intellectual of noted calibre Dr Mane will deliberate upon the Constitutional challenges in the age of right wing populism and the comparative prospects of Afro-American and Dalit experiences.
Venue: Classroom located near Kendall redline station (MIT),
डॉ. आंबेडकर की प्रतिमा का अनावरण अमरीका की ब्राण्डेयस यूनिवर्सिटी लाइब्रेरी में जाती-व्यवस्था पर तीसरी वार्षिकी कॉनफेरेन्स में बीएसजी की भागेदारी और आंबेडकर जयंती के अनुष्ठान का आयोजन
Youtube video link Short Recap of BSG participation @ Brandeis Conference 2017
अमरीका के बॉस्टन नगर के निकट स्थित विश्वविद्यालय ब्राण्डेयस यूनिवर्सिटी में जाती-व्यवस्था एवं वर्णभेद पर आयोजित तीसरा वार्षिक सम्मलेन संपन्न हुआ जिसमें बॉस्टन स्टडी ग्रुप (बीएसजी) की महत्वपूर्ण भागेदारी रही | डॉ. बी.आर.अम्बेडकर की १२६वीं जयंती के अवसर पर उनकी प्रतिमा की स्थापना व अनावरण का समारोह बी एस जी के सौजन्य से संपन्न हुआ | इस मूर्ति स्थापना से ब्राण्डेयस यूनिवर्सिटी अमरीका में केवल दूसरी ऐसी संस्थान होगी जहाँ डॉ. अम्बेडकर की प्रतिमा मौजूद होगी – इससे पहले उनकी मातृ शिक्षा-संस्था (एल्मा मेटर) , न्यू यॉर्क शहर की कोलंबिया यूनिवर्सिटी में उनकी प्रतिमा की स्थापना १९९५ में हुई थी |
कांफ्रेंस की शुरुआत करते हुए ब्राण्डेयस यूनिवर्सिटी के प्रेजिडेंट रोनाल्ड लेबोविट्ज़ ने कहा की जाती-व्यवस्था एक मानवाधिकार का अहम् मुद्दा है जिससे निपटना अतिआवश्यक है | उन्होंने कांफ्रेंस में बीएसजी की भूमिका की प्रसंशा की | इस अवसर पर भारत के जवाहरलाल नेहरू विश्वविद्यालय के पूर्व प्राध्यापक व अर्थशास्त्री सुखादेव थोराट, हार्वर्ड विश्वविद्यालय के प्रोफेसर कॉर्नेल वेस्ट के साथ कई अन्य शिक्षक, विद्यार्थी और अम्बेडकरवादी भी उपस्थित थे |
प्रतिमा की स्थापना विश्वविद्यालय की गोल्डफार्ब मुख्य लाइब्रेरी में २९ अप्रैल को शाम ५:३० बजे हुई और इस अवसर पर विश्विद्यालय की एक मुख्या पदाधिकारी (प्रोवोस्ट), लीसा लिंच, प्रस्तुत थीं | साथ-साथ देश-विदेश से शैक्षिक और अम्बेडकरवादी शुभचिंतकों ने भी भारी संख्या में हिस्सा लिया|
बीएसजी ने इस कॉनफेरेन्स में तीन चर्चा-गोष्ठी भी आयोजित करीं – एक दलित पितृसत्ता पर, दूसरी धर्म में जाती-विरोधी परिकल्पना पर और तीसरी दलित एवं अंतर्राष्ट्रीय एकता पर | इनमें विभिन्न विद्वानों और समाजसेवकों ने अपने मत रखे |
डॉ. अम्बेडकर की १२६वीं जयंती पर एक रंगारंग सांस्कृतिक कार्यक्रम, सुरताल, का भी २९ अप्रैल की संध्या को बीएसजी ने आयोजन किया | इसमें प्रसिद्ध शास्त्रीय गायक पंडित सुधाकर चह्वाण ने अत्यंत मधुर राग एवं अम्बेडकरीय रचनाएँ पेश करीं | बाल कलाकार स्वदीप कांबले ने एक प्रभावशाली अम्बेडकरवादी कृति पढ़ी | इस मौके पर रीमा रोशन लाल और प्रिया रोशन लाल बहनों की जोड़ी ने डॉ. आंबेडकर की जीवनी और अम्बेडकरवादी विचारों पर अत्यंत खूबसूरत चित्रकला का प्रदर्शन किया |
बीएसजी इस मौके पर डॉ. शोभा सिंह, डॉ. लक्ष्मी बैरवा, (स्वर्गीय) डॉ.ओमर खालिदी और सुश्री थेनमोरि सौंदरराजन को जाती-व्यवस्था के उन्मूलन के संघर्ष में महत्त्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभाने के लिए सम्मानित करेगी | जाती-व्यवस्था का विषय बीएसजी के लिए एक अहम् विषय है और वह उस पर अन्य कई गुटों के साथ एकजुट हो कर संघर्ष कर रही है |
Unveiling Ceremony of Dr. Ambedkar’s Bust at Library of Brandeis University
Brandeis University has accepted Boston Study Group’s donation of Dr Babasaheb’s bust and has agreed to install it in Library of Brandeis University during the 3rd Annual International Conference on “Unfinished Legacy of Dr. Ambedkar”. This will be second University in USA after Columbia to have Babasaheb’s bust and we believe this will be historic moment for our generation who could not witness installation of Babasaheb’s bust in Columbia University.You all are cordialy invited for this ceremony and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Jayanthi celebration on 29th April 2017.Venue: 415 South Street, Waltham, MA 02454, USA
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“Surtaal” – A Tribute to the Life and Legacy of Dr. Ambedkar
28TH-30TH APRIL, 2017
3rd Annual International Conference on the Unfinished Legacy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
Boston Study Group is honored to be a part of the historic 3rd Annual International Conference on the Unfinished Legacy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to be held at Brandeis University, Boston, Massachusetts from April 28 – April 30, 2017. The theme of the conference is Re-imagining Religion, Caste, and Social Justice in South Asia. The initial deadline for submission is March 3rd, 2017. Extensions may be granted in some circumstances. More details are available here: https://heller.brandeis.edu/gds/28th-april-conference/call-for-papers.html.
We encourage Ambedkarite students, student leaders, researchers, and faculty to consider submitting an abstract. Members from BSG or from Brandeis University can guide you through the application process. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
22ND MARCH, 2017
Ambedkar Lecture Series-4
BSG has organized its this month lecture series with honorable Dr. Y. B. Satyanarayana. He is author of “My Father Balliah”, a well-known academician and champion of the Dalit cause.
Venue: Harvard University, CGIS Building South S050, 1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge MA 02138, USA
24TH FEBRUARY, 2017
Ambedkar Lecture Series-3
BSG Monthly Lecture Series in Honor of Black History Month presents Black and Dalit Liberation: Lessons for Today
A conversation with Mimi Jones, Civil Rights Leader & Prof. Tony Van Der Meer, Africana Studies, UMass Boston.Friday, Feb 24, 6:30 pm | UMass Boston 2110, University Hall, 2nd Floor | 100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125
Internationalism was a hallmark of the Black Power movement. It included engagement and identification with third world movements. A little known impact is the formation of the Dalit Panthers in urban Western India in 1970 to fight caste oppression. Currently well over half a billion people in India are victims of the caste system, with at least 270 million designated by dominant ideology as ‘untouchable’.
The parallels between ‘racial’ and caste oppression extend to on-going lynching and sexual violence, resurgence of supremacist ideology, cultural hegemony, escalating accumulation of economic power, and lack representation at all levels of power. On the flip side, both movements suffer/ed from serious deficiencies including the pitfalls of ‘charismatic masculinity‘, oppressive behavior, relegation of the lessons of feminism, and an inability to build long-term, equitable, sustainable, and autonomous mass movements.
Mimi Jones and Tony Van Der Meer will share their insights on movement building – past and present, and reflect on lessons and pitfalls from the past. We will also explore themes of solidarity building between the Black and Dalit movements and implications for future organizing.
Mimi Jones, long time Roxbury resident and community activist, was on the front line in the Civil Rights Movement as a youth. As a teenager during the height of the Movement in the 1960’s, she pursued and engaged in direct action to confront and challenge racism, segregation and discrimination. She was involved in a myriad of grassroots organizing and social and political campaigns waged by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
Professor Van Der Meer is the former Chairman of the Black Political Task Force of Boston. Professor Van Der Meer’s area of research is focused on African diaspora religion and culture and its image in the mass media. He is a specialist in Community Economic Development and Urban Politics.
30TH SEPTEMBER, 2016
Ambedkar Lecture Series-2
In the Ambedkar lecture series segment was a talk by fervent Dalit rights activists and student leaders from New Delhi Sanghapali Aruna Lokhitakshi. Ms Sanghapali spoke on the topic “The role of Dalit women in movement building” offering historical and contemporary glimpses of contribution of the Dalit women in social and civil rights movement. Reporting on the activities of her organization, BAPSA (Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association) Ms Sanghpali offered insights on the university campus student alliances of Dalitbahujan student groups.
Ms Sanghapali’s talk highlighted the issues of appropriation of Indian left organizations to suppress the identity-based politics of Dalitbahujan students. This talk highlighted on-going student activism in the wake of Dalit student suicide Rohith Vemula.
16TH SEPTEMBER, 2016
Ambedkar Lecture Series-1
The Ambedkar Lecture Series at Harvard University kick started with inaugural lecture by prominent Dalit rights activist Manjula Pradeep. Ms Pradeep is a noted human rights figure on the global scene. Her talk explored various facets of osocial justice movements in India and in Gujarat. Her organization, Navsarjan Trust of which she is the first elected Dalit female executive director, has been an active agent in airing the grievances of the conditions of Dalits and Tribal communities in India. Ms Pradeep emphasized the importance of Dalit women’s leadership in the human rights struggle. Ms Pradeep is a fierce fighter who is a well-known leader of the Dalit rights movement nationally and internationally.
Her talk was followed by screening of a movie “No More Now” that featured Ms Pradeep and her activism around women empowerment. Participants from south Asia solidarity alliances in Greater Boston area, Michigan and New York area were present in the audience.
15th October, 2016
60th Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din
Boston Study group invites you to celebrate Dhamma Chakra pravartan Din on 15th October, 2016 at Cranston, Rhode from 11am onwards.
10th September, 2016
One day Students’ workshop was organized for new students with Ambedkar International Mission, USA (AIM) group at Columbia university, NY on 10th September, 2016. This workshop covered various topics from academics to pay back to society mission. Academic and professional experiences were shared by graduated students and professionals respectively to make aware new students about US culture.