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Dalit History Month - Neglected histories and Untold stories

Dalit History Month

Dalit History Month - Neglected histories and Untold stories

Dalit History Month is a participatory radical history project. Our goal is to share the contributions to history from Dalits around the world. We are a parallel model of scholarship to academic institutions that study Dalits without Dalits in collaborative or lead roles of research. We believe in the power of our stories to change the savarna narrative of our experience as one solely of atrocity into one that is of our own making. Our story may have begun in violence but we continue forward by emphasizing our assertion and resistance. Join the conversation at #Dalithistorymonth on facebook, twitter, and your communities.

January 1st, 0005, FaXian's Writings Provide Evidence of Widespread Untouchability

Beginning of 5th century CE : FaXian, was a Chinese Buddhist monk who travelled by foot all the way from China to India, visiting many sacred Buddhist sites in what are now Xinjiang, China, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and between 399 and 412 to acquire Buddhist scriptures. His journey is described in his important travelogue, A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms, Being an Account by the Chinese Monk Fa-Xian of his Travels in India and Ceylon in Search of the Buddhist Books of Discipline. In his travelogues writes: "The candalas are called sinners. They live isolated from the rest of society, and when the enter a city, they must sound an alarm by striking a piece of wood to warn everyone of their presence and enable the citizens to avoid running into them. The candalas, fishermen, and hunters are the only sellers of animal flesh." These writings confirm that between the origin of the Chaturvarnya (The Four Caste System ) and the time of Fa Hsien's travels and Buddhism, Untouchability had originated and established itself within the subcontinental religion and culture as the fifth group that lay deeply repressed and firmly outside the system. ( Japanese Studies on South Asia, Caste System, Untouchability and the depressed, 1997)
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Jan 1st, 0400 BC, Ekalavya A Adivasi warrior-archer

400BCE-4CE: Eklavaya. The story of Ekalavaya is known to most Dalits. This is the story of an Adivasi warrior-archer whose aim is so sure that the famous Savarna hero of the epic Mahabharata, Arjuna feels that he is unable to duplicate such a feat. Arjuna is so threatened by Ekalavaya that he involves his archery teacher Drona into a treacherous plot.This is the story of Ekalavaya detailed below exactly as it appears in Wendy Doniger's book: The Hindus : "Drona was the Pandava’s archery tutor, and Arjuna was his star pupil. One day a boy named Eklavaya, the son of a tribal Nishada chieftain, came to them. When Drona who knew dharma, refused to accept the son of a Nishada as a pupil, Ekalavaya touched his head to Drona’s feet, went out into the jungle and made a clay image of Drona, to which he paid the respect due to a teacher. He practiced intensely and became a great archer. One day the Pandavas went out hunting with their dog. The dog wandered off, came upon Ekalavaya, and stood their barking at him until the Nishada shot seven arrows almost simultaneously into the dog’s mouth. The dog went whimpering back to the Pandavas, who were amazed and went to find the man who had accomplished this feat. They found him and asked him who he was, and he told them that he was Nishada Ekalavaya, a pupil of Drona’s.They went home, but Arjuna kept thinking about Ekalavaya, and one day he asked Drona why he had a pupil, the son of a Nishada, who was even better archer than he, Arjuna. Drona then resolved to do something about this. He took Arjuna with him to see Ekalavaya, and when he found him, he said to Ekalavaya, “If you are my pupil, pay me my fee right now”. Ekalavaya, delighted said, “Command me, my Guru. There is nothing I will not give my Guru”. Drona replied “Give me your right thumb”. When Ekalavaya heard this terrible speech from Drona he kept his promise. He cut off his thumb and gave it to Drona and after that when the Nishada shot an arrow his fingers were not as quick as before. Arjuna was greatly relieved." Dalit literature however, frequently uses the motif of Ekalavaya as someone who betrayed himself and others. Shashikant Hingonekar has written: " If you had kept your thumb History would have happened somewhat differently But you gave your thumb and history also became theirs. Ekalavaya, since that day they have not even given you a glance. Forgive me, Ekalavaya, I won't be fooled now by their sweet words. My thumb will never be broken"
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January 1st, 1100, Anti-caste struggle by Basaveshwara

One of the first historical anti-caste movements in Karnataka was initiated by Basaveshwara in 12th century A.D. It is also popularly known as the Veerasaiva movement. According to Kancha Illaih the movement led by Basaveshwara entirely changed the philosophical discourse. Caste system and untouchability were the two institutions that the Veerashaiva movement tried to dismantle. Patriarchy, caste and the brahmanic religion as an intertwined system of domination and subjugation was examined closely, and methodically dismissed and replaced with a just system. Led by Basavanna, a new social order based on equality between genders and castes, in both words and deeds was being established. Anubhava Manatapa at Kalyan, played host to the intellectual, spiritual and metaphysical dialectics between diverse people drawn to this radical movement. For a period like that wherein caste system and untouchability were intrinsic Basaveshwara’s movement can be viewed as one of the radical anti-caste movements in the history of Karnataka. The movement not only focussed on caste but also on gender. Basavanna strongly criticised caste system and untouchability. In order to disassociate from his caste he refrained from wearing the sacred thread which is a symbol of caste superiority. The egalitarian principles propagated by him primarily attracted untouchable communities. Many of them belonged to the backward communities like barbers, Sudras who were particularly kept out from the ritualistic discourse by the Brahmins. Like Buddhism the movement was against Brahminism. The philosophy of Basavanna questioned the authority of the priestly castes. The Vachanas (poems) composed during this period raised many questions regarding caste, untouchability, Brahminism etc. Unlike Sanskrit that was unfamiliar to large number of people, Vachanas were composed in comprehensible Kannada. The composition of Vachanas is an epoch in Kannada literature. The Vachanas composed incorporated various aspects of society. Many of the Vachanas strongly condemned caste and untouchability. Through Vacahanas he emphasised the significance the equality and human dignity particularly for those from the downtrodden sections. The Vachanas disapproved the insincerity and hypocrisy of the Brahmins. For instance in one of his Vachanas he says that “if I say I am a Brahmin, Lord Kudala Sangamadeva laughs aloud” Though the movement is mentioned has Veerashaiva movement, it is important to note that Basavanna did not attempt to create a separate caste, instead it was the ‘linga deeksha’ (offering Linga) that was provided to untouchables as a way to include them in the ‘Anubhava Mantapa’ (The hall of spiritual experience.)’ Anubhava Mantapa was a democratic platform created for social discussions and progressive activities. Basavanna recognised the fundamental problem behind the existence of caste and untouchability. The Anubhava Mantapa was a collective attempt that included notable individuals like Akkamahadevi, Allama Prabhu and saints like Channiah and Kakkaih from the untouchable caste. One of the radical steps taken by Basavanna was that he organised an inter-caste marriage between an untouchable groom and a Brahmin bride. In the history of social reform movement the inter-caste marriage organised by Basavanna remains as a remarkable achievement. The adversity against the movement was too hostile that it resulted in political chaos in the Kingdom of Kalayan. The movement led by Basavanna remains subsided in the mainstream social reform movement. However, it is one the commendable movement that revolutionized the twelfth century social order. One can equate the Vachana movement to the Bhakti movement in fact consider it as the very first Bhakti movement of Karnataka, due to its association with the spiritual sphere and it contribution to the literature. However, this particular movement stands different in comparison to the other Bhakti movements. The time period of the movement was such that the very attempt to initiate such a moment was remarkable. The impact of the movement on the society was not alone social but also political. He advocated a political philosophy of representation of the voiceless. At present the followers of Basavanna claim themselves to be Lingayats and form one of the dominant castes in Karnataka. With time, the movement initiated by Basavanna has diverted from its original purpose, the main idea of anti-caste and anti-Brahminism has vanished. Nevertheless it continues to be the foundation of the social reform movements in South India. Basavannas teachings remain as one of the progressive thoughts in the history of reform movements. ( Read More........)

January 1st, 1200 BC, Saint Nandanar

The Tamil Periya Puranam, the great epic is a Tamil poetic account depicting the legendary lives of the sixty-three Nayanars, the canonical Tamil poets compiled during the 12th century. One poem refers to the story of Nandanar, a Pulaiyar, an untouchable. It is said that he used to supply leather for drum and straps, strings for lutes, and various instruments for the worship of God. He was known for his deep devotion to Siva and was longing to visit the Nataraja temple of Chidambaram but feared that his low birth would serve a hindrance to his temple entry . He post-poned his visit daily and for this reason he is also known as Tirrunalaipovvar (“He who will go tomorrow”). One day he gathered enough courage and started out for Chidambaram, and on reaching was overwhelmed by both happiness and despair outside the high wall of the temple. He wasn’t allowed in because of his Caste. On hearing his wails it is written that God himself appeared before the priests and commanded them to light a fire and lead Nandanar into the inner sanctum of the temple. Many Dalits have criticized Nandanar because spiritually he never dared to go beyond the worship of stone idols and for his what is seen as meek begging before Brahmins. However, some see this as an act of courage, since for most Dalits of that time, entering a temple could mean instant murder by the upper castes. He also won for his people – the freedom to sing. Even if he only sang of his pain as a Dalit and his longing for God, still for the first time a Dalit voice was heard of popularly. Nandanar, by the sublime sweetness of his Tamil, compelled Indian society and Indian literature to accept the entrance of a great singer. Read More...................

February 14th, 1377, Birthdate of Guru Ravidass

Ravidass (also Ravidas, Raidas, Rohidas and Ruhidas in eastern India) was a North Indian Guru mystic of the bhakti movement from Ramanandi Sampradaya and one of the direct disciples of Ramananda. He was active in the 15th century CE. Venerated in the region of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh as well as Maharashtra, his devotional songs and verses made a lasting impact upon the bhakti movement. He is often given the honorific Bhagat or Sant. He was a socio-religious reformer, a thinker, a theosophist, a humanist, a poet, a traveller, a pacifist and a spiritual figure. ( Read More..)

January 1st, 1400, Vithoba Sant Chokhamela - Bhakthi Movements

Vithoba Sant Chokhamela was a Marathi poet and a leading figure of the Bhatki Movement. He lived in Mangalvedha near Pandharpur in Maharashtra with his wife Soyara and son Karmamela sometime in the 14th century. ( Read More.....)

February 1st, 1400, Sant Soyarabai

Sant Soyarabai was woman saint of the Bhakti tradition. She belonged to Mahar caste in 14th century Maharashtra, India. She followed her husband Chokhamela who was also a popular saint. She has written vast literature but now only about 62 are known. In her Abhang she mentions herself as Chokha’s Mahari and accuses god for forgetting Untouchables and making life bad. Her most simple lines concern the simple food she gives the god. Her poems describe her devotion towards god and voice against untouchability. As an Untouchable saint she says “The body only can be impure or polluted, but the soul is ever clean, pure knowledge. The body is born unclean and so how can anybody claim to be pure in body? The body is full of pollution. But the pollution of the body remains in the body. The soul is untouched by it.” Annually she travelled at Pandharpur for pilgrimage with her husband. They were harassed by orthodox Brahmins but they never lost faith and peace of mind. ( Read More.....)

March 1st, 1400, Sant Karamamela

Sant Karamamela was a fourteenth-century poet saint from Maharashtra. He was a son of Chokhamela and Soyarabai who belonged Mahar caste. In his Abhangs he accused God for forgetting and how his life was made miserable as a low caste.He rebelled against varna system.There is at least one Buddhist tradition interested in Karamamela, who was a strong and bitter voice, not suffering his social status with content. Kramamela and his family followed the Bhakti movement. Their Abhangs comments on that time, on the way to meditate and God's loves for his devotee. These poems resonate with current Dalit poetry, describing criticism of society and beliefs of religion, disbelief in pure doctrine and pollution, and protest for survival. The abhangs of Karmamela show more bitterness than those of his father Chokamela. You made us low caste. Why don’t you face that fact, Great Lord? Our whole life, leftover food to eat. you should be ashamed of this. You have eaten in our home. How can you deny it? Cokha’s Kamamela asks: Why did you give me life? Are we happy when we’re with you? O Cloud-Dark One, you don't’ know! The low place is our lot, King of Gods! We never get the good sweet food. Its a shameful life here for us, Its a festival bliss for you and misery written on you. Cokha’s Karmamela asks, O God, why is this our fate? (#3-4) ( Maharashtra Government Publication of Tukaram, 1973). ( Read More.....)

January 1st, 1440, Sant Kabir Das

Saint Kabir Das is widely acknowledged as one of the great personality of the Bhakti movement in North India. He is one of the medieval Indian saints of Bhakti and Sufi movement. Saint Kabir’s life was centered around Kashi, also called Banaras (Varanasi). His caste was that of Julaha and from his sayings his caste’s heriditary occupation of weaving. "Pothi Padh Padh Kar Jag Mua, Pandit Bhayo Na Koye Dhai Aakhar Prem Ke, Jo Padhe so Pandit Hoye [By Reading Holy books , none became anymore wise. One who reads the word of Love, only becomes wise]" In fifteenth century, Benaras was the seat of Brahmin orthodoxy andtheir learning center. Brahmins had strong hold on all the spheres of life in this city. Thus Kabir belonging to a low caste of Julaha had to go through immense tough time of preaching his idealogy. Kabir and his followers would gather at one place in the city and meditate. Brahmins ridiculed him for preaching to prostitutes and other low castes. Kabirsatirically denounced Brahmins and thus won hearts of people around him. Kabir through his couplets not only reformed the mindset of common villagers and low caste people but give them self confidence to question Brahmins. Pandit, look in your hear for knowledgeTell me where untouchabilitycame from, since you believe in it.Mix red juice, white juice and air-a body bakes in a bodyAs soon as the eight lotuses are ready, it comes into the world, Then what is untouchable?Eighty -four hundred thousand vesselsdecay into dust, while the potter keeps slapping clay on the wheel, and with a touch cuts each one of.We eat by touching, we wash by touching, from touch the world was borm.So who’s untouched. Asks Kabir.Only he who has no taint of Maya (#41 Sabda of Bijak; translations by Linda Hess and Shukdev Singh) (Buddhism in India, Challenging Brahmanism and Caste, Gail Omvedt, 2003). ( Read More....)

January 1st, 1500 BC, RIGVEDA: Religiously Sanctioning CASTE

1500 – 1100 BCE. Rigveda, 19th hymn of 10th mandala - the Purusha Suktha. The theory of the origin of the universe. " When (the gods) divided Purusha, into how many parts did they cut him up? What was his mouth? What arms (had he)? What (two objects) are said (to have been) his thighs and feet. The Brahmana was his mouth, the Rajanya was made his arms; the being called the Vaishya, he was his thighs; the Shudra sprang from his feet.". This is held to be the sanctioning of Chaturvarnya (The Four Caste System) and a strengthening by declaration of religious divinity, the existing social order. This writing begins the millennia long history of Brahminical oppression and establishes the claim that caste originated with the origin of mankind and was attributable by birth. Source and Translation: Who were the Shudras, Dr. B.R.Ambedkar

December 31st, 1501 BC, WHAT IS CASTE ?

The word “Caste” itself stems from the Spanish and Portuguese “casta”, which means “race, lineage, or breed”. It was applied by white colonials during the 17th century C.E. to refer to the system of social codification they witnessed existing in South Asia. The native terms for Caste are often “varna (Caste group)” and “jati (Caste)”. Each Caste group encompasses within it several individual Castes varying in cultural and social practices, and who are limited from structural power by their placement within the pyramid. Caste apartheid is the system of religiously codified exclusion that was established in Hindu scripture. Hindu origin myths state that different people were created from different parts of God Brahma’s body and were to be ranked hierarchically according to ritual status, purity, and occupation. By this system, everyone at birth, is ranked with a Caste. Crucially, Caste is inherited from the family one is born into and is unalterable throughout that person’s life. There are four main Caste groups. Those at the very top are Brahmins, who have traditionally been priests, scriptural knowledge-keepers and legislators. Below them in status are the Kshatriyas, who were kings and warriors. They are followed by Vaishyas, or the merchant classes. People in these three Caste groups are often referred to as the “upper” Castes. Those at the bottom of the Caste hierarchy are Shudras or traditional peasants. Many Shudras are also termed “Oppressed Castes”. Outside the 4-Caste group structure are people considered lower than the lowest of Castes. They go by the term Dalit (meaning “broken” but “resilient”), formerly known as “untouchables” and the Adivasis, or the indigenous peoples of South Asia. Together these Caste-oppressed groups continue to experience profound injustices including socioeconomic inequalities, usurpation of their land, rights, and brutal violence. The Caste one belongs to can determine your perceived level of ritual purity or pollution and goes on to determine the outcomes of your whole life - from where one can live and die, to what one can eat, what one’s occupation can be, and even who one can marry. The “Untouchables” in particular, are embroiled in a system of Caste apartheid even today. Their experience is made up of segregated ghettos, banned from places of worship, and denied access to schools and other public amenities including water and roads. This entire system is enforced by violence and maintained by one of the oldest, most persistent cultures of impunity throughout South Asia, most notably in India, where despite the contemporary illegality of the system, it has persisted and thrived for 2,500 years.
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January 1st, 1608, Sant Tukaram

Sant Tukaram was born Tukaram Bolhoba Ambile was born in the years around 1608 and lived most of his life in Dehu, a town close to Pune in Mahārāshtra, India. Kumar, Munshi, Kincaid and Parasanisa, consider him to be of the Kunbi Maratha or agricultural tillage caste or vaani. He wrote poems of fierce social criticism. One of his Abhangs has the beginning: "Good you made me a Kunbi, Otherwise I might have died an arrogant hypocrite", and is an attack on Brahmin hypocrisy. An emerging Dalit critique argues that Vithoba was seen as a Bodhisattva and Sant Tukaram saw him as one. Sant Tukaram has explored the traditions of meditation although this is not a Varkari (Vithoba-worshipping) tradition. His life and writings are intensely debated. (Buddhism in India, Challenging Brahmanism and Caste, Gail Omvedt, 2003). ( Read More.....)

December 18th, 1756, Birth of Guru Ghasidas

Guru Ghasidas was born on 18 December 1756 and died at the age of eighty in 1836. He was born in village Girodhpuri 130 kms from Raipur of Chhattisgarh in an untouchable family. Ghasidas was born in a socio-political milieu of misrule, loot and plunder. The Marath the local had started behaving as Kings. Ghasidas underwent the exploitative bitter experiences specific to untouchable communities in the hindu caste-ridden society. From an early age, he started rejecting social inequity and to understand the problems faced by his community and to find solutions, he traveled extensively in that part of India which presently Chhattisgarh state of India. He advocated equal rights for all the untouchable communities. Ghasidas was unlettered like his fellow untouchables. He deeply resented the harsh treatment to his brotherhood, and continued searching for solutions but was unable to find the right answer. In search of the right path he decided to go to Jaganath Puri and on his way at Sarangarh (presently in Chhattisgarh) he attained true knowledge. It is said that he announced Satnam and returned to Giordh.On his return, he stopped working as a farm worker and became engrossed in meditation. After spending six months in Sonakhan forests doing meditation, Ghasidas returned and formulated path-breading principles of a new egalitarian social order. The Satnam Panth (sect) is said to be based on these principles formulated by Ghasidas. They were honest, industrious and have formed a brotherhood calling themselves Satnamis. Satnam means good name by good work Guru Ghasidas through Satnamin principles initiated a socio-religious order, which rejected the premier position of Brahmins and completely demolished the exploitative and hierarchical caste system. This new order was a challenge to the brahminical social order and it treated all human beings as socially equal. According to Satnam Panth, truth is God and there is only one God, which is Nirgun (formless) and Anant (infinite). Ghasidas realised the link between dominance of Brahmins and idol worship and therefore Satnam rejects any form of idol worship. Interestingly, Ghasidas had a holistic vision and felt that systemic reforms to remove social injustice and inequality would remain inadequate and incomplete without reforming the individuals. This underlying principle led to prohibition of liquor for the followers of Satnam Panth. Guru Ghasidas also formulated some principles, which clearly reflect his love for animals and his desire to put an end to cruelty towards animals. It is against the principles of Satnam to use cows for agriculture, to plough the fields after midday and consume non-vegetarian food. Several myths have been built around the legend of Guru Ghasidas in Chhattisgarh. These myths and beliefs attribute supernatural powers to him and stories like his ability to revive the dead, as he did with his wife and son after their death, are widely heard. However the key point is that Guru Ghasidas has been accepted as a visionary social reformer and the high number of Satnam followers is a testimony to this fact. According to the 1901 census there were around 4,00,000 people adhering to the principles of Satnam Panth. The first martyr from Chhattisgarh in the Indian war of Independence of 1857. Veer Narayan Singh, was also deeply influenced by the teachings of Guru Ghasidas. The satnami tradition also lives on in the form of a vast collection of panthi songs, commonly sung by groups during street procession. Many panthi songs vividly described Guru Ghasidas' life. Guru Ghasidas University is a Central University in Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh that was inaugurated on 16 June 1983. A reserve forest named as ‘Sanjay Reserve’ was in undivided Madhya Pradesh. After Madhya Pradesh was divided in 2000, a large part of the then Sanjay National Park went to Chhattisgarh. Chhattisgarh government renamed this forest area, with an area of 1440 km2 falling under its jurisdiction, as Guru Ghasidas National Park in Koirya and Surguja districts.( Read More.......)

January 1st, 1784, Baba Tilka Manjhi

Baba Tilka Manjhi (or Jabra paharia was the first Adivasi (SANTHAL) leader who took up arms against the British in the 1784, around 100 years before Mangal Pandey. He organized the Adivasis to form the liberation group to fight against the resource grabbing and exploitation. ( Read More......

January 1st, 1807, Early Report on the Art of Leather-Making

Leather work is often deemed a Dalit profession because it requires intimate contact with cows, cow flesh and cow hide. It is often seen as a job that is"dirty" or full of pollution by Brahminical points of view. Much like the other aspects of Dalit life, the art of leather work often goes uncelebrated. A 19th century colonial report on the intricacy and skill required in the art of the leather work of Madigas is presented here as follows: "Leather is tanned here by a class of people esteemed of very low caste and called Madigaru. To dress the rawhides of sheep or goats, the Madigaru in the first place wash them clean, and then rub each with a fourth part of a kind of soft paste, made of 6 Dudas weight of milky juice of the Yecuda (Asclepias gigantean), and about 6 Dudus weight (2 456/1000 ounces) of salt (muriate of soda), and twelve Dudus weight of Ragy Sanguty, or pudding of the Cynosurus coracanus (o), with a sufficient quantity of water. The paste is rubbed on the hairy side, and the skins are then exposed for three days to the sun, after which they are washed with water, beating them well on a stone, as is usual in this country. This takes off the hair. Then powder 2 Seers (1 213/1000 lb.) Arulay Myrobalens, and put them and one skin into a pot with 3 or 4 Seers measure of hot water, where it is to remain for three days. The skin is then to be washed and dried. This tanned skin is dyed black as follows: take of old iron, and of the dross of iron forges, each a handful; of plantain and lime skins, each five or six; put them into a pot with some Ragy kanji, or decoction of Ragy, and let them stand for eight days. Then rub the liquor on the skins, which immediately become black. These skins may be dyed red by the following process: Take of ungarbled Lac 2 Dudus weight (about 13 drams), of Suja cara, or fine soda, 1 Dudu weight, and of Lodu bark 2 Dudus weight. Having taken the sticks from the Lac, and powdered the soda and bark boil them all together in a Seer of water (68 5/8 cubical inches) for 1½ hour. Rub the skin, after it has been freed from the hair as before mentioned, with this decoction; and then put it into the pot with the Myrobalens and water for three days. This is a good colour, and for many purposes the skins are well dressed." (Francis Buchanan 1807. A journey from Madras through the countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar)

March 11th, 1811, Shri Hari Chand Thakur

Shri Hari Chand Thakur was a great social reformer born in NamaSudra Community in Bengal. Harichand received little formal education. After completing his initial schooling in a pathshala, he attended school for only a few months. He then started spending his time with shepherds and cowboys and roamed with them from one place to another. He started changing from this time. He was loved by all of his friends for his physical beauty, naivete, love for music and philanthropic attitude. He could also sing bhajan (devotional songs). He cultivated the Matua Sect (The Matua community primarily consists of Dalits (mainly Namasudra). The Matua believe that male and female are equal. They discourage early marriage. Widow remarriage is allowed. They refer to their religious teachers as ‘gonsai;’ both men and women can be gonsai.They follow the teachings of Shri Hari chand and Gurchand Thakur) whose principles were: (1) No necessity of entering the temples of higher castes for the purpose of worship, (2) Discarding Brahmin priest for any ceremony, (3) Worship on Shri Hari, (4) Not to worship idols and not to visit pilgrimage centres of Hindus and (5) Maintain good moral conduct and lead an ideal family life. The sect became popular in East Bengal (now a part of Bangladesh) and he led the untouchability movement called the Chandal movement in India.

January 1st, 1818, The Battle of Bhima Koregaon

The Battle of Koregaon took place on January 1, 1818, at the banks of the river Bhima in Koregaon, northwest of Pune, India. There a small force of 500 Mahar soldiers of the 2nd Battalion 1st Regiment of the Bombay Native Light Infantry in the British Army fought valiantly against the most brutal Indian state of that times – The Brahmin Peshwa rulers of Pune, Maharashtra. For Mahar soldiers, this was a battle for their self-respect, dignity, and against the supremacy of Manusmriti as the Peshwa rulers oppressed the Mahars, making them hang a pot around their neck to spit and tie a broom around their waist to sweep away their 'impure' footsteps. These 500 Mahar soldiers defeated the Peshwa army of more than 30,000 in just one day. Their victory against such a mighty force is unparallelled in all of Indian history. ( Read More.................

April 11th, 1827, Jyotirao Phule

Jyotirao Govindrao Phule was born in Satara district of Maharastra state in India in a family belonging to Mali caste [shudra varna of Hindu religion] perceived to be inferior. His father, Govindrao, was a vegetable vendor. His mother died when he was nine months old. He was married at the age of 12 to Savirti Bai. His intelligence was recognised by a Muslim and a Christian neighbor, who persuaded his father to allow Jyotirao to attend the local Scottish Mission’s High School, which he completed in 1847. In 1848, he along with his wife started a school for girls in Pune– the first ever formal school for girls in India. In 1873, Jyotiba Phule formed the Satya Shodhak Samaj (Society of Seekers of Truth). The purpose of the organization was to liberate the people of lower-strata from the suppression of the ortodox. Mahatma Phule was publicly conferred the title of Mahatma on 11 May 1888. He was termed as “Martin Luther King of India” by his biographer Dhananjay Keer. Phule was one of the three spiritual mentors of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the Father of Indian Constitution. ( Read More

November 22nd, 1830, Jhalkaribai

Jhalkaribai (November 22, 1830 – 1858) was the legendary Dalit woman warrior who played an important role in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 during the battle of Jhansi. She was a soldier in the women's army of Queen Laxmibai of Jhansi. Born into a poor Dalit family, she started her career as an ordinary soldier in Laxmibai's army, but rose to a position of advising the queen in vital decisions. During the rebellion, at the height of the battle of fort of Jhansi, she disguised herself as the queen and fought on the front to let the queen escape safely out of the fort. ( Read More.....)

January 3rd, 1831, Savitribai Phule

Savitribai Phule was a great feminist social reformer of her time. She fought against the totalitarianism of caste and other social evils in India. She was born in Naigaon in Sattarra district. She played an equal partner to Mahatma Jyotibai Phule in declaring war against and Brahminism. Though she was formerly uneducated, she was motivated by Jyotibai to study. Later she became the first female teacher of India in the school she started with her husband. She was a poet and wrote a poem in her collection of poems : Kavya Phule in 1854. " Title: Go, Get education. Go, Get Education Be self-reliant, be industrious Work, gather wisdom and riches, All gets lost without knowledge We become animal without wisdom, Sit idle no more, go, get education End misery of the oppressed and forsaken, You’ve got a golden chance to learn So learn and break the chains of caste. Throw away the Brahman’s scriptures fast. – Poem by Savitribai Phule (More poems at Poems by Savitribai Phule). Apart from setting up the first ever school for women in India, Savitribai started a women's association called Mahila Seva Mandal as early as 1852. The association worked for raising women's consciousness about their human rights and other social issues. Being a woman, she easily recognised the double downtroddenness of most women as she saw the gender question in relation to caste and brahmanic patriarchy. She engaged herself at various levels to address women-specific problems. She campaigned against victimisation of widows. She advocated and encouraged widow remarriage. She canvassed against infanticide of'illegitimate' children. She opened a home to rehabilitate such children. Her own home became a sanctuary for deserted women and orphaned children. She went on to organise a successful barbers' strike against the prevailing practice of shaving of widows' heads. She did all this taking grave personal risks. Many of these misogynistic practices have now receded in the background. But in her time, they tormented and destroyed countless women. Maligned, humiliated, and attacked for challenging the anti-women practices, Savitribai's struggle encouraged and inspired a whole generation of outstanding campaigners for gender justice in Maharashtra — Dr Anandi Bai Gopal Joshi, Pandita Ramabai, Tarabai Shinde, Ramabai Ranade, and many others have been inspired by her efforts. A unique spiritual vision sustained and animated Savitribai's life and struggle. A deeply devout and compassionate person, she drew inspiration and strength from the benevolence of a higher power. Her belief in a higher power, however, led her to wage a war against discriminatory brahmanic gods. She despised caste-obsessed brahmanic religion and its rituals, but she was a great admirer of many moral and ennobling tenets of other religions. At the heart of her religiosity were compassion and a sacred morality that bound the individual with society. ( Read More.....)

May 20th, 1845, K. Ayothidhasar (editor of Oru Paisa Tamilan) Born in Chennai

Iyothee Thass or Pandit C. Ayodhya Dasa (Tamil: அயோத்தி தாசர்) (May 20, 1845 – 1914) was a practitioner of Siddha medicine who is regarded as a pioneer of the Dravidian Movement. He also founded the Punchmar Mahajana Sabha in 1891 along with Rettaimalai Srinivasan.

January 1st, 1846, Rev Rathnam John

Adi Dravidar from Madras thousand lights area. Completed School Education. He wanted to belong to a more egalitarian religion like Christianity and get out of Hinduism. Baptized in 1877. Started a Magazine named Dravidar Pandian 1885 to publish cases if atrocities and grievances of the Depressed Classes. Estabished a Model School in 1886 in Thousand Lights area in Madras

January 28th, 1853, First Infanticide Prohibition Home Started by Savitribai Phule

There were a large number of widows in the Pune City and the nearby villages, including adolescents and young girls. These widows were boycotted publicly and with meger financial support they were clandestine subjects to sexual exploitation. They happened to be pregnant due to lack of contraceptives or other measures. So they had to be victimized for the reason for which they had not been responsible. Women had to lose their life due to unhealthy ways of abortion. Many newborns were been killed after delivery by widows to avoid social ostracism. Many a times they had to leave their home. On 28 January 1853: Savitribai started a shelter for such women – infanticide prohibition home – the first of its kind in India. In this shelter widows could give birth to their children and leave them there. Sixty six women gave birth to their children in that shelter up to 1873.This was a great historical work that Savitribai did at that time – in the dark ages. Later on this shelter started working as a hospital. Savitribai did not remain as one who served to widows but she went further in this regard. She adopted a child from a Brahmin widow (Kashibai) and thereby gave a message to the progressive people of the society. This adopted child was named Yashwant Rao who later became a doctor.

January 1st, 1857, UdaDevi- Dalit Virangani

The dalit women heroes of the 1857 Rebellion have become symbols of dalit assertion and pride. Such a legendary character who is claimed to have played a significant role in 1857 Rebellion alongside BegumHazrat Mahal of Lucknow and who has become the icon of the Pasi community, but whose aura encompasses all the Dalit castes, is Udadevi. There British forces met desperate resistance of rebels who fortified the position. In the sanguineous battle that followed, over 2,000 rebels and many soldiers lost their lives in hand-to-hand combat. After the British overran Sikandarbag, an officer noted that many of the British casualties had bullet wounds indicating steep, downward trajectory. Suspecting that a sniper remained hidden in the pipal tree, British officers fired at the tree and dislodged a rebel who fell to the ground with a thud, dead. Further investigation revealed that the rebel was, infact, a low-caste woman named Udadevi Pasi, who had donned men’s clothing to participate in the uprising. Uda Devi is said to have been born in the village Ujriaon of Lucknow, and was married to Makka Pasi. She became an associate of Begum Hazrat Mahal, and formed a women’s army with herself as the commander. Her husband became a martyr in the battle at Chinhat and Uda decided to take revenge. When the British attacked Sikandar Bagh in Lucknow under Campbell, he was faced with an army of Dalit women: At this point Uda Devi is said to have climbed over a pipal tree and shot dead, according to some accounts 32 and some 36, With constant evocation, these names have inscribed in popular Dalit memories. Every year near the statue of Uda Devi at Sikandar Bagh on 16 November, the stated day of her martyrdom. ( Read More.....)

September 24th, 1873, Satyashodhak Samaj Established

Satyashodhak Samaj is a religion established by Jyotirao Phule on on this day. This was started as a group whose main aim was to liberate the social shudra and untouchable castes from exploitation and oppression. The tenets of this idealogy were as follows. 1.The Satyashodhak Samaj is founded by some wise Shudra men to the Shudra people from long sustained slavery executed by Brahmans such as Bhats, Joshi priests and others. 2. The Satyashodhak Samaj aimed to spread education among the Shudras to make them aware of their rights and to get them out of influence of the sacred books that were made by the Brahmans for their own survival. 3.The ideology of Satyashodhak Samaj, based on Phule's ideological frame work which urged to unite all Shudra, Ati- Shudra masses, Satyashodhak ideology rejected all kinds of Brahman domination and exploitation on the basis of religion and all religious sources of inequality. This was the most radical content of the Satya Shodhak ideology, which was the heart of non-Brahman movement'. 4. Revolting against Brahmanical culture, Satyashodhak ideology dreamed to establish ideal society based on some principles as follows: 5. Faith on one God (creator) 6. Rejection of any kind of intermediary between God and Man. 7. Rejection of caste system and the basic four folded Varna division of society and believing on that man's supremacy is determined by his qualities and not by his caste or.8. Faith on equality, freedom and brotherhood. (Caste, Conflict, and Ideology: Mahatma Jotirao Phule and Low Caste Protest in Nineteenth-Century Western India By Rosalind O'Hanlon) ( Read More.....)

September 24th, 1873, Vaikom Satyagraha

Vaikom Satyagraha (1924–25) was a satyagraha (movement) in Travancore, India (now part of Kerala) against untouchability in Hindu society. The movement was centered at the Shiva temple at Vaikom, near Kottayam.The Satyagraha aimed at securing freedom of movement for all sections of society through the public roads leading to the Sri Mahadevar Temple at Vaikom. The 85th anniversary of the Satyagraha was celebrated on the 26th of November 2010. The temple entry movement was started in Travancore by Mr.T.K. Madhavan who pressed the matter before the 15th session of the Sree Moolam Popular Assembly on 1919 and his efforts culminated in the legal success of Vaikom Satyagraha which opened the Vaikom temple roads to untouchables in 1925.' Five years after the Vaikom Satyagraha there was no organised attempt for the removal of temple entry problem. It was in 1931 that the issue of temple entry to unapproachable castes was revived in Kerala by Sri.K. Kelappan under the auspices of Kerala Congress Committee.

December 25th, 1873, First Priestless Marriage by Savitribai Phule

The first marriage without a priest was arranged by Savitribai Phule under the aegis of Satyshodhak Samaj (The Truth Seekers Society). This was an important event against the Brahmin Social Order. The first report of the Samaj proudly notes that Savitribai was the inspiration behind this revolutionary initiative of a constructive revolt to reject centuries old religious traditions. The marriage of Radha, daughter of Savitribai’s friend Baju Bai Gyanoba Nimbankar and activist Sitram Jabaji Aalhat was the first Satyashodhakí marriage. Savitribai herself bore all the expenses on this historic occasion. The Satyashodhak marriage required the bridegroom to take an oath of giving education and equal rights to women. Savitribai had made Radha stay in the Phule household even before the marriage took place – which was another revolutionary step during those times.(Source: Book Savitri bai Phule First Memorial Lecture 2008 – Dr. T Sundaraman, National Council of Education Research and Training) ( Read More.....)

June 26th, 1874, Birthdate of Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj

Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj implemented one of the most early affirmative action policies (Provided 50% Reservation in his state, on 26 July 1902) Revolutionary Legal Reforms.On July 26, 1902,Shahu Maharaj declared reservations in the Kolhapur state for all the people who were for generations banned from education, that is, all people who are not brahmans, Parsis, Shenvis and Prabhus, the advanced castes who were already in education and other fields. He appealed for caste-free India and abolition of untouchability. Pioneer of Student Hostel Movement for Bahujan Samaj. De-recognized Brahmanical supremacy and Religious bureaucracy of Brahmins. Greatest supporter and sympathizer of Dr. Ambedkar movement. The Pillar of Social Democracy. ( Read More.....)

November 15th, 1875, Birsa Munda - Jai Adivasi

“Our land is blowing away as the dust blows away in the storm”-Dharti Aba Birsa Munda Birsa Munda (1875–1900) was a tribal leader and a folk hero, belonging to the Munda tribe who was behind the Millenarian movement that rose in the tribal belt of modern day Bihar, and Jharkhand during the British Raj, in the late 19th century making him an important figure in the history of the Indian independence movement.Birsa was born at Bamba in a suburb of Ranchi (Bihar) on Thursday 15 November 1875. He was named after the day of his birth according to the Munda custom. Mundas called him Dharati Aba, the father of the earth. He advised people to not to obey the magistrates and the landlords and to boycott the ‘beth begari sytem’. He spoke against unlawful land acquisition and tried to unite his people against the diabolic exploitative triad of zamindars, foreigner and traders.The Mundas were galvanized into martial fury and carried out their revolts with great courage and determination. The results were, however, the same whenever the tribal fought the mighty British: they were crushed. Birsa was captured, released and finally recaptured after his forces suffered a terrible crushing by the British army in 1900. With his death, the Birsa movement slipped into oblivion but he had succeeded in giving them a solidarity which was missing before. Though Birsa was dead but his purpose was not defeated. Just after the movement, the Government passed the Commutation Act of 1897 and then it was decided to start survey and settlement in 1901. The Mundari Khuntkatti right was recognized and finally the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act (Act-VI of 1908) came into being. Birsa Munda – the great Dharati Aba shines as the first tribal martyr who fought for the independence of the country. ( Read More.....)

March 6th, 1878, Babaji Palwankar Shivram

Babaji Palwankar Shivram was an Indian cricketer who was one of the most successful Dalit players for the Hindus cricket team in the Bombay Quadrangular competition. He was the brother of cricketer and social leader Palwankar Baloo and Palwankar Vithal, who became the first Dalit to captain the Hindus team.

February 18th, 1879, Birthdate of Kisan Faguji Bansod

Kisan Faguji Bansod was born on 18th Feb 1879 at village Mohapa near Nagpur in Maharashtra. He belonged to Mahar caste. He passed teacher training but turned to social service. In order to organize the dalits, he founded the Sanmarg Bodhak Asprushya Samaj at Nagpur in 1901, which became popular throughout the Vidarbha region. He started the journal NIrashrit Hind Nagarik in 1910; Vital Vidhvansak in 1913; Majur Patrika in 1918; and Chokha Mela during 1931 - 36. He started one press at Pachpawali, Nagpur in 1910. His wife Tulsibai Bansod assisted him in the press work. He wrote a book in marathi named Shri Sant Chokhamela Charitra in the year 1942. He wrote two plays named Chokhamela and Satyashodhak Jalsa. He composed many poems, which aimed to inspire dalits to protest against traditionalism. He died of cancer at the age of 67, on 10 October 1946, in Nagpur.

June 17th, 1883, Birthdate of M.C. Rajah

Rao Bahadur Mylai Chinna Thambi Pillai Rajah and was a Dalit politician, social and political activist from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.He entered politics after graduation and was the leader of Dalits in the Justice party. However, he quit the party in 1923 over the party's treatment of Dalits and allied with B. R. Ambedkar before separating. Rajah died in 1943. In his heyday, Rajah was considered to be a person equal in stature to Ambedkar. Rajah along with Ambedkar and Rettamalai Srinivasan represented the Dalits at the Second Round Table Conference in London.

January 14th, 1886, Mangu Ran Muggowal

Born in Punjab in 1886, Muggowal, like other members of the Ghadar Party, immigrated to the U.S. for economic reasons and became involved in the freedom struggle following a realization of racism and discrimination in the foreign land. Members of the Ghadar Party believed their sufferings were the result of slavery back home and resolved to fight against imperialism. A person like Muggowal endured double discrimination for being a person of colour and a Dalit. Being born in a so called low caste “untouchable” family, he began facing caste-based discrimination during childhood. He faced segregation at school and suffered physical abuse for defying caste laws. Thankfully, the Ghadar Party believed in secularism and kept religion and politics apart, yet he faced such prejudice even in the U.S. Muggowal not only worked for the Ghadar newsletter but also went to Java to help in collecting and sending arms to India. He escaped near death sentence at the hands of the British allies. Thinking that he had died, his family remarried his widow to his brother. On coming back to India he was disillusioned by the continued oppression of the Dalits, who were considered untouchables by the orthodox Hindus and Sikhs. He was partly upset with the popular leaders of the freedom struggle who failed to address the issue of casteism. He resigned from the Ghadar Party in order to mobilize Dalits against systemic caste-based discrimination and eventually launched the Ad-Dharmi movement in Punjab. He believed that without bringing social revolution first it was impossible to bring real freedom in India. The Ghadar Party assured him full support in his struggle against caste oppression. But since his movement was in conflict with the interest of the freedom struggle, his cause was not dear to the popular leadership of India. Rather, Muggowal was branded as a tool of the British Empire that was playing a divide and rule game to prolong its rule in India. Whereas the British Empire was happy to give concessions to the Dalits, leaders like Muggowal felt deceived by the mainstream nationalist leaders of India. Despite such differences, it goes to the credit of Muggowal that he did not support a religion-based partition of India in 1947.

August 21st, 1889, Birthdate of Sahodaran Ayyappan

Sahodaran Ayyappan (21 August 1889 – 6 March 1968) was a social reformer, thinker, journalist, and politician of Kerala, India. He was one of the outspoken followers of Sree Narayana Guru.

April 14th, 1891, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

While to the most of the country and the world, Dr. B. R Ambedkar is known as the architect of the Indian constitution, a social reformer, and an eminent jurist; his contribution as an economist, as an advocate of women’s rights; as a writer, an educationist, and a philosopher is also equally important. In this capacity he is not only a Dalit icon but a true revolutionary and is recognized as a founding father of independent India. Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was born at the 14th child of his family on April 14th, 1891 into Mahar family. Discovered by a Maharaja Sayaji Rao he received a full scholarship and went on to study at the Elphinstone College, Mumbai in 1908. From there he was one of the first Indian to study abroad and he went to the United States to pursue economics at the Columbia University. Later, he became a professor of political economy at the Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics. In 1920, he went to London to get his Bar-at-Law at Gray's Inn for Law. On 8 June, 1927, he was awarded a Doctorate by the University of Columbia. From 1920 to 1930, he also published a series of newspapers namely Mook Nayak (The Silent Hero), Bahishkrit Bharat (Exiled India), Samata (equality), and Janata (People) Upon his return to India he faced vicious caste discrimination with top employers refusing to hiring him. Thus began Dr. Ambedkar’s relentless struggle for equality for Dalits. He had a multi-pronged strategy: First eradicate illiteracy, then focus on the economic upliftment while also using non-violent struggle against visible symbols of casteism, like denial of entry into temples and drawing water from public wells and tanks. He later added to this strategy the powerful call for Dalits to leave Hinduism for Buddhism. Leading to one of the largest mass conversion in world in Nagpur where over 600,000 Dalits joined Him in becoming Buddhist. His focus on Dalit Liberation often put him at odds with Gandhi and it was due to Ambedkar that Gandhi eventually shifted his draconian position on caste. Ambedkar’s leadership in the idependence movement ensured Dalits were at the table in the crucial Round Table conferences that led to the formation of the Indian State. While disappoined at the refusal of separate Indian electorates, it was his advocacy that led to the reservation system that helped provide affirmative action to Dalits and Adivasis in government and public institutions. In the wake of his legacy this post is a call to read and learn more from this Dalit Giant. He leaves behind a rich treasury of speeches and almost forty books that are still relevant today. In fact his seminal text Annihilation of Caste is available for free everywhere around the world. In his honor we leave you with his exhortation to educate, agitate, and organize. And of course the Dalit salutation which is a honorary reference back to him. ( Read More.....)

September 28th, 1895, Gurram Jashuva

Gurram Jashuva (or G Joshua) : Dalit poet and writer from Andhra Pradesh, Jashuva initially worked as primary school teacher. He then worked as Telugu producer in All India Radio, Madras between 1946-1960. His work "Gabbilam" is best known. It is an interpretation of Kalidasa's Megha Sandesam. But it is not a yaksha using the cloud as a messenger to convey his longing to his loved one, instead, it is a hunger and poverty stricken individual requesting a bat visiting him from a nearby Siva temple, to convey his prayers to God. He muses at the irony of his situation, where a bat is allowed inside a temple but not a human being! He cautions the bat to convey his message to Siva as it hangs from the roof close to his ear, at a time when the priest is not around.

February 24th, 1901, Birthdate of Jagannathan Shivashanmugam Pillai

Jagannathan Shivashanmugam Pillai (February 24, 1901 – February 17, 1975) was an Indian politician of the Indian National Congress. In 1938, he became the first Dalit mayor of Madras. He also served as the first speaker of the Madras Legislative Assembly since India's independence. Shivashanmugam died on February 17, 1975 at the age of 73.

January 6th, 1904, Birthdate of Babu L.N. Hardas

Hardas Laxmanrao Nagrale, (1904–1939), popularly known as Babu L.N. Hardas was a Dalit leader and social reformer in India. He was an ardent follower of Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar and was pioneer of the practice of exchanging the greeting Jai Bhim amongst the Dalits. He was also a prominent labour leader in the Central Province and was the general secretary of the Independent Labour Party in the province. Babu Hardas born in a Mahar family at Kamthi on January 6, 1904. His father , Laxmanrao Nagrale, was a clerk in the Railway Department. Babu Hardas passed his matriculation from Patwardhan High School, Nagpur. He also studied Sanskrit from Swami Brahmanand of Arya Samaj at Nagpur. Consistent with the social customs of that time, he married at a very early age of 16 with Sahubai in 1920. His life was full of events as he worked to create social awareness in his brethren for all of his life. Babu Hardas started his social activities pretty early in his life. At the age of 17, he started a weekly Maharatha from Nagpur with a view of spreading social awareness in the Dalits. He tried to organize the Mahar community by founding the Mahar Samaj organization in 1922. He also formed one Mahar Samaj Pathak, a voluntary corps group, to organize the disorganized Mahar youth to protect the Dalits against the atrocities. He opened a Mahila Ashram in order to imparting training to Dalit women in daily activities. Also, in order to avoid exploitation of beedi workers, he started the beedi work on cooperative basis, which became very successful in the area.Babu Hardas as a strong opponent of irrational and superstitious customs of the society. He strongly opposed to the sub-caste barriers amongst the depressed classes. He arranged community dinners and invited to all people of depressed classes divided in various sub-castes. Such community dinners were arranged each year on the death anniversary of Sant Chokhamela, a great 14th-century saint from Mahar community. He was against idol worship. He organized a meeting of his brethren in 1927 at Ramtek under the presidency of Kisan Faguji Bansod. At this meeting, Babu Hardas exhorted his people to start idol worship at the temple of Ramtek and stop bathing in the dirty Ambada tank there. However, he sent a group of his followers under the leadership of Shankar Mukunda Bele to participate in the Kalaram Temple Entry Satyagraha led by Dr. Ambedkar on March 2, 1930. He argued that this was against inequality and not to worship idols. Babu Hardas was also a strong advocate of education to Dalits. He himself had completed matriculation, which was a rare thing for the Dalits in those days. He started night schools at Kamthi in 1927 at the behest of the Mahar community. There were 86 boys and 22 girls learning in his school at a time. He also started one Sant Chokhamela Library at Kamthi around the same time. At a very early age of 35, he fell sick with tuberculosis and died of tuberculosis on January 12, 1939.

January 29th, 1904, Birthdate of Mahapran Jogendernath Mandal

Mahapran Jogendernath Mandal was the leader of Scheduled Caste communities in Bengal, born in an untouchable Namasudra family. He was the son of Ramdayal Mandal and Sandhyadebi. He passed his B.A examination in 1932 from B.M College located in Barisal then he joined Calcutta Law College and passed the Law examination in 1934. He was the member of Bengal Legislative Assembly 1937 from the Bakarganj North-East General Rural Constituency. Subsequently, he developed political connections with Dr Ambedkar and also entered into a political alliance with the Muslim League. Jogendranath was appointed as the Minister for Co-operative Credit and Rural Indebtedness. In the meantime, he founded the Bengal branch of the All India Scheduled Castes Federation (AISCF). He joined Suhrawardy Ministry as the Law, Pull Worker and Construction of House Minister in 1946. Towards the end of 1946, Jogendranath almost single-handed ensured the election of Dr Ambedkar from Bengal to the Constituent Assembly. On the eve of the partition of India Jogendranath Mandal supported Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Sarat Chandra Bose and others for a United Bengal. With Mountbatten’s announcement of the partition plan on 3 June 1947, however, he lent support for Pakistan. He was one of the central and leading Founding Fathers of modern state of Pakistan.

December 26th, 1904, ANNAI MEENAMBAL SIVARAJ

Annai Meenambal Sivaraj as born to Mr. V.G. Vasudevapillai and Meenakshi. Annai's father was famous among the Adi-Dravida Leaders, who became the first elected person to the corporation of Madras from the aboriginal community. For a long time he was a member to the assembly of Tamilnadu. Annai is known to be India's first Dalit woman leader. She was the first woman president of South India Scheduled Class Federation. She gave the title “PERIYAR” to E.V.RAMASWAMY at the Schedule Caste Federation Women’s Conference held at Madras, in 1944. She also presided over the All India Schedule Castes Federation Women’s conference held at Bombay, on May 6th, 1945 where she gave a powerful speech advocating for the role of education. She exhorted the women audience to actively take part in the social upliftment of the community, educate their children, and struggle to liberate themselves from untouchability, casteism and oppression.

April 5th, 1908, Jagjivan Ram (Babuji)

Jagjivan Ram (5 April 1908 – 6 July 1986), known popularly as Babuji, was an Indian independence activist and politician from Bihar. He belonged to the Chamar caste and was a leader of the Dalit (Untouchable) community. He was instrumental in foundation of the All-India Depressed Classes League, an organisation dedicated to attaining equality for untouchables, in 1935 and was elected to Bihar Legislative Assembly in 1937, when he also organised a rural labour movement. In 1946, he became the youngest minister in Jawaharlal Nehru's interim government, the first cabinet of India as a Labour Minister and also a member of Constituent Assembly of India, where he ensured that social justice was enshrined in the Constitution. He went on serve as a minister for more than forty years as a member of Indian National Congress (INC). Most importantly, he was the Defence Minister of India during the Indo-Pak war of 1971, which resulted in the formation of Bangladesh. He also made great contributions to the Green Revolution in India and modernising Indian agriculture during his two tenures as Union Agriculture Minister, especially during the 1974 drought when he was asked to hold the additional portfolio to tide over the food crisis. Though he supported Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during the Emergency (1975–77), he left Congress in 1977 and joined the Janata Party alliance, along with his Congress for Democracy. He later served as the Deputy Prime Minister of India (1977–79), then in 1980, he formed Congress.


Dakshayani Velayudhan was an Indian parliamentarian and leader of the Depressed Classes. Belonging to the Pulaya community, she was among the first generation of people to be educated from the community. She holds several distinctions including becoming the first woman from her community to wear an upper cloth, the first Dalit woman graduate in India, a science graduate, a member of the Cochin Legislative Council and of being the only Dalit woman member of the Constituent Assembly of India. Dakshayani was born in the Mulavukad village of the Kanayannur taluka of Ernakulam district in 1912. She completed her B.A. in 1935 and went on to complete her teachers' training course from the Madras University three years later. Her studies were supported by scholarships from the government of the Cochin State. From 1935 to 1945 she worked as a teacher at the Government High Schools in Trichur and Tripunithura. Dakshayani belonged to the Pulaya community and was the younger sister of the social reformer and legislator K. P. Vallon. She was also related to K R Narayanan who later became the President of India. In 1945 Dakshayani was nominated to the Cochin Legislative Council by the government of the State. She was elected to the Constituent Assembly of India by the Council in 1946. From 1946-1952 she served as a member of the Constituent Assembly and the Provisional Parliament of India. In Parliament she took special interest in the matters of education especially that of the Scheduled Castes. Although a Gandhian, Dakshayani sided with B R Ambedkar on many issues relating to the Scheduled Castes during the Constituent Assembly debates. She agreed with Ambedkar giving up the demand for separate electorates arguing instead for 'moral safeguards' and the immediate removal of their social disabilities.

February 2nd, 1915, Death of Subedar Major Ramji Maloji Sakpal

Death of Subedar Major Ramji Maloji Sakpal, father of Dr. Ambedkar

January 1st, 1917, First Adi-Andhra Mahajana Sabha

In the 1920s and 1930s, militant Dalits were thoroughly rejecting both the “Panchama”(The Fifth, referring to their position outside the caste system) and the “Harijan” (Children of God) identities and organizing themselves all over the south by the non-Aryan themes of the Dravidian movement. They began to identify themselves as the “original sons of the soil” as Adi-Dravidians, Adi-Andhras and Adi-Karnatakas. The swell of these movements led to the pivotal First Adi-Andhra Mahajana Sabha launching Dravidian and Anti-caste movements that continued on until the 1930’s.

Jan 1st, 1920 - Dec 31st, 1931, The Adi Movements

1920's-1930's: Many Dalit, Bahujan, and Adivasi activists of the 1920s, organizing as non-Brahmans and Dalits, were drawn to an anti-caste, anti-Brahman, even anti-Hindu ideology akin to the philosophy that Phule had formulated. Few outside of Maharashtra had heard of Phule, yet these movements were so pervasive that it is clear these themes struck a deep mass resonance everywhere. During this time, the Non-Brahman movements in Maharastra and Tamil Nadu, as well as the Dalit movements arising in places as distant as Punjab and Karnataka, all began to argue in terms of the Aryan conquest and Brahman exploitation through religion. Even the names of most of the Dalit movements - Adi-Dharm in Punjab, Adi-Hindu in U.P. and Hyderabad, Adi-Dravida, Adi-Andhra and Adi-Karnataka in South India - indicated a common claim to being original inhabitants.

January 31st, 1920, Ambedkar Started the Mooknayak Newspaper

Chatrapati Shahuji Maharaj had donated Rs 2500 as seed money to start Mooknayak (Leader of the Dumb). This Marathi weekly paper championed the causes of the depressed classes. Shri Nandra Bhatkar was the editor, later Shri Dyander Gholap was the editor. Dr. Ambedkar wrote in the first issue of this paper dated 31 January 1920 the following: “The hindu society is like a tower of many stories. It has neither a ladder nor a door to go out. And therefore there is no way to interchange stories. Those who are born on a particular storey die in that storey. Even if the lowest storey person is worthy deserving to be promoted to upper storey he cannot move to that level. And if the person in the upper storey is most unworthy and undeserving still he cannot be pushed down…. A Society which believes that God exists even in inanimate things, also says that people who are a part of that very society should not be touched!

February 10th, 1920, Rajamani Devi

Rajamani Devi was an early Dalit woman leader who emerged from the Mala community during the Adi movements in Andhra. She became the Joint Secretary of the Schedule Caste Federation, Hyderabad on 16th July 1944. She was latered named the President of the Women Section of SCF. She won a seat to the Hyderabad Legislative Asembly on the SCF ticket at the first general elections held in 1952.

May 30th, 1920, First All India Conference of the Depressed Classes

The First All India Conference of the Depressed Classes was held at Nagpur on 30-31 May and 1 June 1920. It was Presided over by Chatrapati Shahuji Maharaj, and Dr. Ambedkar was among the main speaker in the conference. The conference was attended by delegates from all over India.

August 1st, 1920, Annabhau Sathe

Annabhau Sathe was born on 1 August 1920 in the village of Wategaon near Sangli in a family belonging to the a Dalit Mang community. Annabhau Sathe was denied education due to his caste. His brother Shankarbhau recounts in his biography of Sathe, titled "Majhe Bhau Annabhau", that the family members worked as laborers at the site of Kalyan tunnel when it was being constructed. Despite lack of formal education, Sathe wrote in Marathi 35 novels, one among which was Fakira (1959). Fakira, which is currently in its 19th edition, received a state government award in 1961. There are 15 collections of Sathe's short stories. A large number of his short stories have been translated into many Indian and as many as 27 non-Indian languages. Besides novels and short stories, Sathe wrote a play - a travelogue on Russia, 12 screenplays, and 10 ballads --Marathi. To generate social awareness, he organized stage performances of powade and tamasha, ethnic dances chiefly performed by women, which are popular in rural Maharashtra. He produced 14 tamasha shows. In the late 1940s, the then Home Minister of the Bombay state government Morarji Desai had banned tamasha shows, but Sathe courageously defied the ban by renaming them as lokanatya. People in Maharashtra conferred the epithet lok shahir on Sathe.On the issue of a postage stamp of Anna Bhau Sathe at Chembur, Mumbai minister Pramod Mahajan called Anna as a saint of Maharashtra.

January 14th, 1921, Cheramar Maha JanSabha Founded

The Cheramar Maha JanSabha was founded in Kerala by Pampady John Joseph. He was of the view that the caste name ‘Pulaya’ was disgraceful as it denoted pollution, therefore, he named it Cheramar which means ‘son of the soil’ of Kerala. The Cheramar Maha JanSabha attracted the converts and non-converts towards it. The Jansabha was founded to protest against the traditional attitude and customs of the caste Hindus and caste Hindu converts. In Cheramar Mahajan Sabha, caste Christians as well as untouchable Hindus were allowed to be the members. It gave a new awakening to the untouchables in Kerala.

February 15th, 1923, Birthdate of Sathyavani Muthu

Sathyavani Muthu was an Indian politician and an influential dalit leader. She was a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu, Rajya Sabha member and Union Minister. She began her political career as a member of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, began her own party, Thazhthapattor Munnetra Kazhagam and later joined the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.She was a member of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) since its beginning in 1949. In 1953, she was arrested for leading the DMK's protests against the Kula Kalvi Thittam. During 1959-58, she was the propaganda secretary of the party. She also served as the editor of the magazine Annai. She contested assembly elections from Perambur and Ulundurpet constituencies in all assembly elections between 1957 and 1977 and 1984. She won three times from Perambur constituency as an Independent candidate in 1957 election, as a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidate in 1967, and 1971 elections. She lost the 1962 election from Perambur and 1977 election from Ulundurpet constituency.

March 1st, 1923, Shantabai Kamble

Shantabai Krushnaji Kamble is a Marathi writer and Dalit activist. She was born into a Mahar Dalit family on March 1, 1923, in Mahud, Solapur. Shantabai Kamble's Majya Jalmachi Chittarkatha was published as a complete book in 1986 but was also presented to readers and television audiences in serial form named as Najuka through the early 1980s, and is considered the first autobiographical narrative by Dalit woman writer. This book is included in the University of Mumbai's syllabus.

July 20th, 1924, Bahishkrit Hitakrini Sabha Founded

JULY 20, 1924: Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha was established by Dr. B.R.Ambedkar in Damodar Hall of Mumbai, as the central organization for bringing about a new socio-political awareness among Dalit by removing the difficulties facing Dalits, and placing Dalit grievances before the Indian government. The founding principles of the Sabha were "Educate, Agitate and Organize”. ( Read More.....)

March 1st 1925, Self-Respect Movement Begins

MARCH 1, 1925: Periyar E.V. Ramaswami launched the Self-Respect Movement in Tamil Nadu on March 1, 1925. The main tenets of the Self-Respect Movement in society were the following: Equality for all, no matter the caste, income level or gender of the person. In fact he encouraged the end to attachments of caste, religion, varna, and country with every human being acting according to reason, understanding, desire, and perspective. A key focus of this movement was Periyar's determination to fight the inequalities ingrained in the caste system and religious practices. He fought passionately on the theme of liberating the society from the baneful social superstitious practices perpetrated in the name of Hindu dharma and karma. The movement was extremely influential not just in Tamil Nadu, but grew to influence national leaders like B.R. Ambedkar and the Indian freedome movement. It eventuall spread a overseas in countries with large Tamil populations, such as Malaysia and Singapore. Among Singapore Indians, groups like the Tamil Reform Association, and leaders like Thamizhavel G. Sarangapani were prominent in promoting the principles of the Self-Respect Movement among the local Tamil population through schools and publications. A number of political parties in Tamil Nadu, such as Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) owe their origins to the Self-respect movement.
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January 15th, 1926, Kasaba Jadhav, India's First Olympic Medalist

Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav was widely known as 'Pocket Dynamo'. He was born in Goleshwar Tal Village in Karad Tashil of district Satara, Maharashtra in a poor Maratha family. His nick name was Anna. He was independent India's first individual Olympic medalist when he won the freestyle wrestling bronze medal at the 1952 Helsinki Games. For nearly half a century, his would remain the only individual medal for India at the Olympics until Leander Paes won a bronze in 1996. Hailing from a wrestling background, Jadhav was an ardent fan of sports, mainly wrestling, kabaddi, running, swimming and others. His father, a wrestler himself taught Jadhav about the sport and despite being the youngest in the family he managed to grasp the game and outclassed everyone. Wrestlers from Karad (around 75 kms from Kolhapur) and far flung places used to participate in wrestling events at Kolhapur under the Royal patronage of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj. Gradually he began emerging as undisputed wrestler in the area and soon was competing in national events.Jadhav was fleet footed, which made him different from other wrestlers of his time. English coach Rees Gardner saw this trait in him and trained him prior to 1948 Olympic games. In the 1948 London Olympics, he participated in the flyweight category finishing sixth. Four years later, before the selection for Helsinki Olympics, Jadhav alleged that nepotism among officials prevented him from getting selected for the Olympics. According to him, they intentionally gave him one point less than the eventual winner at the Madras Nationals, and this ruled him out of the Olympics. He did not bow down to corrupt officialdom and appealed to Maharaja of Patiala seeking justice. Fortunately the Maharaja of Patiala who loved sports, saw his point, and arranged his entry in Olympic trials where he floored his opponent and won an entry in the Olympics. Now Jadhav faced his next set of problems. He had to arrange money for his travel to Helsinki. Even the principal of Kolhapur's Rajaram college, Mr. Khardekar, mortgaged his house for a sum of Rs. 7,000 to pay for his travelling cost. Local shopkeepers from his village Goleshwar, in Karad taluka Satara district presented him with groceries and other items of use. At Helsinki, Jadhav had to fight seven bouts in all in the 52 kg freestyle event. In the first five, he met opponents from Europe and the Gulf countries and took barely five minutes to dispose them off. In the sixth round, his opponent was the famed Shonachi Ishi of Japan. Ishi's novelty of the ankle hold surprised Jadhav, but when he counterattacked, Ishi attempted rolling fouls which were penalised giving Jadhav a win. Unfortunately his next bout was soon after this sapping bout. This was officially not permissible, but since there was no Indian official to lodge an official protest, he had to face this bout within less than half an hour of this bout with Ishi. The tired Jadhav took on his next opponent, Manod Bekov of Russia. It is believed that had Jadhav not been tired from his previous bout, he would have defeated Bekov in no time, but tired as he was, he was beaten by Bekov and had to settle for a bronze.Despite his loss, his was a unique achievement in India. Yet like most talented individuals in developing countries, he was largely forgotten. There was no fanfare from his return to Helsinki. No newspaper interviews, no television. Television in fact was not born in India then! There was however a small felicitation for him at Mumbai's Shivaji Mandir auditorium in Dadar, Mumbai. Interestingly there was also a cavalcade of 101 bullock carts from Karad to his village. Instead of being heaped with rewards, Jadhav had to fight an exhibition soon on return to raise funds to help Khardekar pay off the mortgage loan raised for him. After this glorious moment he slid into oblivion and despite serving Inspector in the state police of Maharashtra he died living in poverty – almost certainly a broken man – on 14 August 1984 in a road accident. Ultimately, Government of India realized her forgotten hero and made a remarkable stadium in Delhi for wrestling and honored it by naming it as K D Jadhav stadium. This stadium is at par with the best in the world.

March 13th, 1927, Samta Sainik Dal (Soldiers for Equality) Founded

Samata Sainik Dal (Army of Soldiers for Equality or Party of the Fighters for Equality) is a social organisation founded by B. R. Ambedkar in 1927 with the objective of safeguarding the rights of all oppressed sections of Indian society.

March 20th, 1927, Mahad Satyagraha by Ambedkar

MARCH 20 1927: The Mahad Satyagraha was a satyagraha (a nonviolent act of resistance) led by B. R. Ambedkar to allow Dalits to use the water in a public tank in Mahad, Maharastra. Previous to this Upper castes would not allow Dalits to use this water for fear of them “spiritually polluting” the tank. His Dalit liberation organization, Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha, arranged a conference on March 19-20 1927 in Mahad, in which over a thousand people gathered together. At the end of the conference, they marched to the Chavdar Tale, the main tank of the town, and they drank water from the tank. A riot broke out soon after a rumour that Ambedkar and his followers were next planning to enter a Hindu temple in the town. Later the caste Hindus purified the tank by performing puja, argued that Dalits had indeed polluted the tank by taking water from it. Ambedkar decided to hold a second conference in Mahad on December 26-27 1927, but Caste Hindus filed a case against him stating that the tank was private property. He could not continue his satyagraha as the case was now under judicial consideration and therefore prohibited from public discussion elsewhere. In his final act of protest he burnt the Manusmriti, the casteist and mysognist Hindu law book, on December 25, in protest. Ten years later In December 1937, the Bombay High Court finally ruled that Dalits have the right to use water from the tank. In honor of this achievement Dalits observe March 20th as Social Empowerment day in India His Dalit liberation organization, Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha, arranged a conference on March 19-20 1927 in Mahad, in which over a thousand people gathered together. At the end of the conference, they marched to the Chavdar Tale, the main tank of the town, and they drank water from the tank. A riot broke out soon after a rumour that Ambedkar and his followers were next planning to enter a Hindu temple in the town. Later the caste Hindus purified the tank by performing puja, argued that Dalits had indeed polluted the tank by taking water from it. Ambedkar decided to hold a second conference in Mahad on December 26-27 1927, but caste Hindus filed a case against him that tank as a private property. He could not continue his satyagraha as the case was now under judicial consideration and therefore prohibited from public discussion elsewhere. In his final act of protest he burnt the Manusmriti, the casteist and mysognist Hindu law book, on December 25, as a protest. Ten years later In December 1937, the Bombay High Court finally ruled that Dalits have the right to use water from the tank. In honor of this achievement This day Dalits observe March 20th as Social Empowerment day in India. ( Read More.....)

June 27th, 1927, Birthdate of Dominic Jeeva

Dominic Jeeva is a prominent minority Sri Lankan Tamil author and literary figure from Sri Lanka. A dalit, Dominic Jeeva was for a period of time forgotten as a writer. He first became known to non-Tamil speaking readers after a review of his book Pathukai, a collection of short stories.

December 25th, 1927, Manusmriti Dahan Din

DECEMBER 25, 1927: On this day in 1927 the Manusmriti. the casteist and misogynist Hindu Book of Laws, was publicly burned by Dr. Ambedkar, during the "Maha-Sangharsha" campaign of the Mahad Satyagraha. This was an important milestone in the Dalit struggle against Brahmanism. For it was directly naming on the foundational Hindu texts as the cause of the caste system, and in burning the text the participants rejected both Hinduism and the caste system. The event was well planned with Ambedkar arriving to the location by boat in caste there was a bus boycott prevent the party to arrived. The land for the Manusmriti burning was given by a Muslim ally, Mr. Fattekhan, who offered up his private property. The organizers brought all their own supplies of food, water or anything else could be bought so that nothing could be stopped. Then a pit was built that was six inches deep and one and half foot square was dug in, and filled with sandle wood pieces. On its four corners, poles were erected, bearing banners on three sides. The banners announced that this was a crematorium for the Manusmruti and that in burning it we would both destroy Untouchability and Bury Brahmanism. After a powerful speech by Amdekars several volunteers then took a vow of five items. 1. I do not believe on Chaturvarna based on birth. 2. I do not believe in caste distinctions. 3. I believe that untouchability is an anathema on Hinduism and I will honestly try my best to completely destroy it. 4. Considering that there is inequality, I will not follow any restrictions about food and drink among the least of all Hindus. 5. I believe that untouchables must have equal rights in temples, water sources, schools and other amenities. At this point at 9 p.m., the book of Manusmruti was burned at the hands of Bapusahib Sahastrabuddhe and another five six dalit sadhus. There was a strong reaction in Brahmanical press, Ambedkar was called "Bheemaasura" by one paper. Dr. Ambedkar then went into his arguments for the burning of Manusmruti in various articles. He ridiculed those people that they have not read the Manusmruti, and declared that, “We as Dalits will never accept it. For those who say it is an outdated booklet so why give importance to it, he invited attention to atrocities on Dalits and said, these are because Hindus are following this book. And he then further asked, “If it is outdated, how does it matter to you if somebody burns it.: For those who enquire, what is achieved by dalits by burning it, he retorted, what M. Gandhi achieved by burning foreign clothes, what was achieved by burning "Dnyana-prakash" which published about marriage of Khan-Malini, what was achieved by those who burned Miss Mayo's book "Mother India" in New York, what was achieved by boycotting Simon Commission formed to frame political reforms? These were the forms of registering the protests, so was ours against Manusmruti. He further declared, that if unfortunately, this burning of Manusmruti does not result in destruction of "Brahmanya", we will have to either burn the "brahmanya-grast" people (i.e. affected by brahmanism), or renounce Hinduism. ( Read More.....)

December 26th, 1927, Adi-Hindu Conference and Procession in Allahabad

25,000 dalits, led by Swami Achuhtanand and G A Gavai took a procession in Allahabad city as part of Adi-Hindu movement’s conference. The Adi-Hindu movement was a movement for dalit identity. It considered dalits as a non-aryan race that were subjected to harsh and uneven legal system of caste Hindus or Ayrans. The procession went through Allahabad cisit with 25,000 dalits led by Swami Achhutanand and G A Gavai in motorcards, followed by phaetons, buggies, andtongas (two-wheeled carriages); protestors carrying banners and flags; andbhajan-mandlis (singers) singing songs of the ancient glory of the Adi-Hindus.

December 27th, 1927, Dr. Ambedkar Addresses the First Official Gathering of Dalit Women

This was the third day of the Mahad Conference (at Raigad district, Maharashtra) to realize right of depressed classes to fetch water from Chavdar tank - a public tank. At 10 P M the Conference wound up its proceedings by expressing its gratitude to the Reception Committee and thanking the delegates and its sympathizers. Immediately after conclusion of the Conference, Dr. Ambedkar addressed a meeting of about 3000 women of the Depressed Classes, the first meeting of its kind in modern India. This was also unique occasion when the women folk of the Depressed Classes showed signs of a stirring. Dr. Ambedkar spoke to them in a simple homely manner. He said: “Never regard yourselves as untouchables. Live a clean life. Never mind if your dress is full of patches, but see that it is clean. None can restrict your freedom in the choice of your garments and in the use of the metal for ornaments .Attend more to the cultivation of the mind and the spirit of self –help.’’ Then with a little fall in his voice he said: “But do not feed in any case your spouse and sons ti they are drunkards. Send your children to schools. Education is as necessary for females as it is for males. If you know how to read and write, there would be much progress. As you are, so your children will be. Mold their lives in a virtuous way. For sons should be such as would make a mark in this world.” To the surprise of all, the women left early in the morning with a wonderful change in the fashion of their sarees as ordained by their great leader, guide and uncrowned king. Thus the Mahad struggle ended. The end of the epoch was sounded by Dr. Ambedkar’s declaration of human rights of equality and by the India National Congress, which at its Madaras session, during the same week, declared “the goal of the Indian people to be complete National Independence.” The first declaration related to social independence, and the second to political independence. It was a good and great coincidence - a sign of India’s conscious efforts at a revaluation of social and political equality!

January 1st, 1928, P. K. Rosy

P.K Rosy holds the distinction of being the first heroine and the first Dalit heroine of Malayalam cinema. Most accounts of her life and work are not based on actual meetings with her as she passed away in 1988 and was never acclaimed or even acknowledged during her lifetime. However, her extraordinary life, when examined is full of instances courage, struggle and passion. Before she was discovered by the director of her film, she was already a member of folk theatre groups and had experience acting in Tamil dramas in A Dalit art form called Kaakarashi. In 1928, she was "discovered" by the director J.C Daniel and given the role of an upper caste (Nair) woman in the movie Vigathakumaran (The Lost Child). When the movie was released, members of the Nair community were enraged to see a Dalit woman portray a Nair woman. Upper caste riots ensued. They vandalized the theatre, tore down the movie screen and proceeded to hunt down Rosy. They burned down her house but she managed to escape the angry crowd. Reports state that she fled in a lorry that was headed to Tamil Nadu, married the lorry driver and lived her life quietly in Tamil Nadu. Whatever the case, her abilities and her Pioneering work as an actress in a caste feudo-patriarchal society must be celebrated. Only 5 years after her film was destroyed and she chased away from Kerala, upper caste women safely began acting in Malayalam films without any objection or attack. this means more than ever that we must keep the memory of P.K.Rosy's talented and powerful Dalit womanhood alive.

September 20th, 1928, Death of Narayana Guru

Narayana Guru (ca. 1854–1928), also known was Dalit sant, sadhu and social reformer of India. He was born into an Ezhava family, in an era when people from that community and other communities that were regarded as Avarna faced much social injustice in the caste-ridden society of Kerala. Gurudevan, as he was known by his followers, led a reform movement in Kerala, rejected casteism and promoted new values of spiritual freedom and social equality. Rabindranath Tagore is reported to have said that "I have never come across one who is spiritually greater than Swami Narayana Guru or a person who is at par with him in spiritual attainment" after meeting Narayana Guru at his ashram in Sivagiri in November 1922. On 21 August 1967, India Post honoured him by issuing a commemorative postage stamp of denomination 15 nP. In 2009, the Government of Kerala recommended to the Union Government that Daiva Dasakam, a prayer song written by Narayana Guru, be adopted as the national prayer song. The International Center for Sree Narayana Guru Studies was established in 2005. Numerous other institutions, particularly those operated by the SNDP, are named after him.

December 23rd, 1929, Periyar Visits Malaya Tamils Conference

Periyar inaugurated the Tamils Conference convened by the Tamils Reformatory Sangam, at Ipoh which is the capital city of Perak State of Malaysia. In 1929, Singapore’s leading reformist A.C. Suppiah along with his friends G.G. Sarangapany, K.Thamotharan and, K.Ramalingam made preparations to bring Thanthai Periyar to Malaya to take part in the All-Malaya Tamil Conference. A total of RM20,000 was raised for this conference. In 1929, RM20,000 is considered a large sum and raising this was a mammoth task as most of the Tamil community are laborers with meager income. However, there was another group working behind the scenes to prevent Thanthai Periyar from visiting Malaya by labeling him as an atheist. K. Narasima Iyangran, a Brahmin, wrote in the Tamil Nesan that Thanthai Periyar is an atheist and his visit to Malaya will cause a major unrest and therefore should be sent back to Tamil Nadu. The same sentiment was echoed by several other Tamil newspapers and by those who oppose Thanthai Periyar’s self-respect ideology. They distributed leaflets throughout Penang boycotting Thanthai Periyar. When the ship ‘Rajula’ harbored at the Penang port, Thanthai Periyar and his aides were barred from leaving the ship by this group of Tamils.After hearing news that there are groups protesting Thanthai Periyar’s visit to Malaya, the Perak Tamil Reform Association's committee members, G. Sarangapany from Singapore, A.C. Suppiah and, Govindasamy met the British authorities and assured them that the committee will assume full responsibility, should there be any untoward incident due to Thanthai Periyar’s speeches. With the help of the British authorities Thanthai Periyar was allowed to leave the ship on 10 December 1929 and continued with his tour in Malaya.Thanthai Periyar subsequently, officiate the Perak Tamil Reform Associations conference in Ipoh and spoke for three hours touching on a variety of topics ranging from blind beliefs, caste, social justice and rationalism. Unperturbed by the opposition, Thanthai Periyar continued with his tour and spoke at functions specially arranged for him throughout Malaya from Penang to Singapore, Thanthai Periyar spoke at 29 public rallies in Ipoh, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Prai, Kuala Kangsar, Taiping Muar, Johor Baru, Batu Pahat, Malacca, Tampin, Kuala Kubu, Tanjong Malim, Sungai Siput, Sunai Petani, Telok Intan and Kampar before leaving to India.“Why suffer the throes of casteism in a land where everyone has the chance to be the master of his own destiny?” he had asked. “Forge ahead. Seek education. Strive for economic strength. That’s all that matters.” Thanthai Periyar’s speeches brought some changes among Tamils who were suppressed by their caste and those who were working for the British as coolies. Self-respect movements were established throughout Malaya to reform the Tamils. Thanthai Periyar’s visit to Malaya in 1929 created strong reformist impulses which led to the formation of Adi Dravidar Sangam in 1929 in Batu Pahat and Johor Bahru, Tamilar Sirthirutha Sangam (Tamil Self-Respect Association) in 1930, Pan Malaysian Dravidian Association and eventually Malaysian Dravidian Association in 1946. Magazines, newspapers and journals such as “Kudiarasu”, “Viduthalai”, “Puratchi”, and “Pagutharivu” published by Thanthai Periyar’s Self-Respect Movement in Tamilnadu were imported in large scale. Thanthai Periyar’s visit further led to publication of 5 Tamil and English newspapers namely Munnetram, Sirthirutham, Tamil Murasu, Reform and Indian Daily Mail. Reform and Indian Daily Mail was published in English. In Singapore, G. Sarangapany propagated Thanthai Periyar’s principles through all the above newspapers. Periyar’s visit to Malaya in 1929, led to proliferation of Tamil associations, dedicated to religious and social reform associations which were often led by teachers and journalists. The writings of C.N. Annadurai, Kalaingar M. Karunanidhi and other leaders from Dravidar Kazhagam also emancipated self-respect thoughts among the Tamils in Malaysia and contributed to the formation of self-respect associations. ( Read More.....)

January 9th, 1930, Janta Newspaper Report on Gandhi and Leadership

Janta newspaper reported that: 'The greatest presumption on Gandhi's part at the Round Table Conference (first) was that he claimed that he represented the depressed classes and not Dr. Ambedkar…. Leadership cannot be imposed, it must be accepted by those on whose behalf it is claimed.’

March 2nd, 1930, Kalaram Mandir Satyagraha

The Nashik Kalaram temple started under B.K (Dadasaheb) Gaikwad's direction. Dr. Ambedkar addressed the conference the next day after the procession. Source: Dr. Ambedkar and the Significance of His Movement. ( Read More.....)

July 17th, 1930, Baburao Bagul

Baburao Bagul was a Marathi writer from Maharashtra, India; a pioneer of modern literature in Marathi and an important figure in the Indian short story during late 20th century, when it experienced a radical departure from the past, with the advent of Dalit writers such as him.He is most known for his works such as, "Jevha Mi Jaat Chorli" (1963), " Maran Swasta Hot Ahe" (1969), "Sahitya Ajache Kranti Vigyan", "Sud" (1970), and "Ambedkar Bharat". Baburao Ramaji Bagul was born in Nashik in 1930. After high school education, he did various manual jobs until 1968. While doing so, he published several stories in magazines, which started getting attention from Marathi readers. Eventually in 1963, came his first collection of stories, Jevha Mi Jat Chorali (जेव्हा मी जात चोरली) (When I had Concealed My Caste), it created a stir in Marathi literature with its passionate depiction of a crude society and thus brought in new momentum to Modern Marathi literature in Marathi; today it is seen by many critics as the epic of the down throdden, and was later made into a film by actor-director Vinay Apte.He followed it up with a collection of poems, Akar (Shape) (1967), which gave immediate visibility, but it was his second collection of short stories Maran Swasta Hot Ahe (Death is Getting Cheaper) (1969), which cemented his position as an important enlightened voice of his generation. The collection is now considered an important landmark in Dalit writing in India and in 1970 he was awarded the 'Harinarayan Apte Award' by the Government of Maharashtra.After 1968, he became a full-time writer of literature which continued to deal with the lives of marginalized Down Throdden people in Maharashtra. His fictional writing gave graphic accounts of the lives of that class of people. The thoughts of Karl Marx, Jyotiba Phule, and Babasaheb Ambedkar had an influence on Bagul's mind. He soon became an important radical thinker of the Dalit movement, and published a major ideologue of the Panther, Manifesto of Panther, in 1972. In the same year he presided over the 'Modern Literary Conference' held at Mahad. Over the years his stories taught future Dalit writers to give creative rendition to their autobiographical narratives.He died on 26 March 2008 at Nashik, and was survived by his wife, two sons, two daughters.

November 30th, 1930, NYT Article: "Prince and Outcaste at Dinner in London"

Charles A. Selden wrote an article in New York Times titled "Prince and Outcast at Dinner in London," based on an interview with Dr. Ambedkar. The article was the on the from page and first news of the day. Dr. Ambedkar is quoted in the article as saying: “ "The plight of our 43,000,000 depressed people is not the problem of India alone. It should be international, for it affects the economic and social welfare of the entire world, and it is a case for the League of Nations just as slavery or the drug traffic is. 'Untouchability' is far worse than slavery, for the latter may be abolished by statute. It will take more than a law to remove this stigma from the people of India. Nothing less than the aroused opinion of the world can do it.”

January 1st, 1931, Hyderabad Census Report on Adi-Hindu Identity Discussion (Adi- Movements)

It reports, “ A controversy recently raged in the press as to whether Adi-Hindus are Hindus. While the caste Hindus maintained a discrete silence, two opposing sections of Adi-Hindus entered the arena. The Adi-Dravida Educational League argued that, judged by the history, philosophy and civilization of the Adi-Dravidas, the real aborigines of the Deccan, the Depressed Classes are a community entirely separate and distinct from the followers of the Vedic religion called Hinduism. The League’s contention was that Hinduism is not the ancestral religion of the aborigines of Hindusthan; that the non-Vedic communities of India object to being called “Hindu” because of their inherited abhorrence of the doctrines of the Manusmriti and like scriptures, who have distinguished themselves from caste Hindus for centuries past, that the Vedic religion which the Aryans brought in the wake of their invasion was actively practiced upon the non-Vedic Aborigines, and that the aborigines, coming under the influence of the Hindus, gradually and half-consciously adopted Hindu ideas and prejudices. A section of the Adi-Hindus emphatically repudiated the above arguments in a statement in the press and deplored the tendency of the Adi-Dravida Educational League to seek to impose an invidious distinction. The concepts of God, the mode of worship, the system of rituals and code of customs and the manner of dress and the way of life of the socially depressed classes and way of life of the socially depressed classes are identical to that of caste Hindus, and therefore, they maintain that religiously adi-Hindus are Hindus.” This was a clear posing of the autonomy-integration dichotomy in terms of religious-cultural identities. (Dalits and the Democratic Revolution. Dr. Ambedkar and the Dalit Movement in Colonial India, Gail Omvedt, 1994)

February 4th, 1933, Dr. Ambedkar Refuses to Support Temple Entry Bill

Gandhi requested Dr. Ambedkar to lend his support to Dr. Subbarayan’s Temple entry Bill and that of Ranga Iyer-when both met on 4th Feb. 1934 at Yeravada Prison. Dr. Ambedkar declined in person, and later issued a statement on 14th Feb, 1933. He outlined the impracticability of the bill, crticised it for not making Untouchability illegal and outlined why he would not prefer just temple entry.

January 1st, 1934, Dashrath Manjhi

Dashrath Manjhi (c. 1934 – 17 August 2007) was born into a poor labourer family in Gehlaur village, near Gaya in Bihar, India. He is known as "Mountain Man" for carving a path through a mountain in the Gehlour hills so that his village could have easier access to medical attention after his wife died from a lack thereof. In 1959, Dashrath Majhi's wife, Falguni Devi, was injured and needed immediate medical attention. Unfortunately, the nearest town with a doctor was located 70 km away, as he had to travel around the treacherous Gehlour mountain hills; as a result, his wife died from the lack of timely medical treatment. In hopes of potentially limiting or preventing the outcome that he and his wife suffered, Dashrath committed himself to manually producing a shorter route, which eventually shortened the travelling distance between the Atri and Wazirganj blocks of Gaya town from 55 km to 15 km. ( Read More.....)

March 15th, 1934, Matadin Bhangi's Question Seeds the Indian Rebellion of 1857

Matadin Bhangi is claimed to be the father of the 1857 rebellion. There was a factory in Barrackpore where cartridges were manufactured, and many of the workers in the factory belonged to the untouchable communities. One day one of the workers felt thirsty and he asked a soldier for a mug of water. That soldier was Mangal Pandey. Mangal Pandey, a Brahmin by caste, refused to take water from him because the worker was an untouchable. This was very humiliating for the worker who retorted: " You claim to be a highly respectable Brahmin, but the cartridges which you bite with your teeth and insert into your guns, are all greased with the fat of cows and pigs. What happens to your caste and religion then? Curse on your Brahminism." This worker was Matadin Bhangi, who was later arrested and charged for treason against the British. In certain narratives, Matadin Bhangi is presented as a moving force behind the revolt. During a time when upper caste soldiers refused to hand a glass of water to the untouchables although they bit cartridges rubbed with cow fats, they question and criticise heirarchical structures of caste in which untouchables are not allowed to go near upper caste persons because of their low birth and ritual dirtiness. Dalits celebrate the memory of Matadin Bhangi and his contribution to the nationalist movement int many ways. Many songs have been composed in his honor that are sung in rallies and functions, both cultural and political.

March 15th, 1934, Birthdate of Kanshi Ram

Kanshi Ram (15 March 1934 – 9 October 2006) was an Indian politician and social reformer who worked for the upliftment and political mobilisation of the Dalits, the untouchable groups at the bottom of India's caste system. Towards this end, Kanshi Ram founded Dalit Shoshit Sangharsh Samiti (DS 4), the All India Backward and Minority Communities Employees' Federation (BAMCEF) in 1971 and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in 1984. He succeded leadership of the BSP to his protégé Mayawati who has served four terms as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Kanshi Ram was born to Bishan Kaur and Hari Singh in Ravidassia (Ad-Dharmi/Mulnivasi) Sikh community of the Scheduled Caste group, which is the largest group in Punjab, at Pirthipur Bunga village, Khawaspur in Rupnagar district of Punjab. Kanshi Ram's father, who was to some extent literate, made sure that all his children were educated. Kanshi Ram had two brothers and four sisters, out of them all, he was the eldest and most highly educated with a BSc degree. He completed his Bachelor's degree in Science (B.Sc) from the Government College at Ropar affiliated to The Panjab University. After completing his graduation, Kanshi Ram joined the Department of Defence Production and took up the position of scientific assistant. This was in Pune in 1958. ( Read More.....)

August 1st, 1935, The Government of India Act

Act legislated by the British government giving Indians limited roles in the provincial and central legislatures in order to appease growing demands for greater role in government. This act also dealth with the issue of reservation for the "Depressed Classes". This act brought into use the term "Scheduled Castes" and defined ther term as "castes, races or tribes or groups within castes races or tribes being castes, races and tribes, parts or groups which appear to His Majesty-in-Council to correspond to the classes of persons formerly known as the "Sepressed Class" as His-Majesty-in-Council may specify." At this time, seats reserved were within the Council of State, British India; Total Membership 156. Scheduled castes -7. Central Assembly 250. Scheduled Castes 19.These castes were included within the government published Scheduled Castes Order, 1936. This document was a list or schedule of castes throughout the British administered provinces. The complete list of castes and tribes were laer made as The Constitution Scheduled Castes Order, 1950 and The Constitution Scheduled Tribes Order, 1950 (Lost People: An Analysis of Indian Poverty By Krupakar Pralhad Wasnik)

October 13th, 1935, Yeola Declaration

Historical Yeola Conversion Conference held under the Presidentship of Dr. Ambedkar at Yeola Dist., Nasik. He exhorted the Depressed Classes to leave Hinduism and embrace another religion. He declared: ‘I was born as a Hindu but I will not die as a Hindu’.

January 1st, 1936, The Father of Dalit Theology - Arvind P. Nirmal

This was the birthyear of Arvind P. Nirmal (1936–1995), the father of Dalit Christian theology and a member of the Church of North India. He questioned the Christian conversion of the upper castes, especially the Brahmin. As the originator of Dalit Theology, in a radical departure from the norm, he drew on the concept of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53 to identify Jesus himself as a Dalit – "a waiter, a dhobi, and bhangi." and that Christian theology should therefore reflect Dalit concerns. In 1981, he delivered the compelling address entitled “Towards a Shudra Theology” in which Nirmal criticized Brahminic dominance of Christian theology in India. Nirmal was also critical of the Marxist element within South American liberation theology. He taught at the Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute in Madras and later at Union Theological College in Bangalore. At Gurukul, he was also the Dean of the Department of Dalit Theology

May 15th, 1936, The First Publication of The Annihilation of Caste

This was an undelivered speech written in 1936 by B. R. Ambedkar, The speech was prepared as the presidential address for the annual conference of a Hindu reformist group Jat-Pat Todak Mandal, on the ill effects of caste in Hindu society. After his invitation to speak at the conference was withdrawn due to the address's "unbearable" content, Ambedkar self-published 1,500 copies of the speech in May 1936. This text s considered seminal in not only informing the contemporary anti-caste psyche but also to evolving socipolitical Dalit-Bahujan strategies

January 5th, 1942, Founding of Dera Sach Khand by Devotees of Guru Ravidass

Dera Sach Khand is a religious social organization based in the village of Ballan near Jalandhar, Punjab, India. It was founded by devotees of Guru Ravidass.

Jul 17th, 1942 - Jul 20th, 1942, Founding of the Scheduled Castes Federation

The All-India Scheduled Castes Federation was founded by Dr. Ambedkar in a national convention of the scheduled castes held at Nagpur and led by Rao Bahadur N.Shivraj, a renowned Dalit leader from Madras. An executive body of All India SCF was elected in the convention. Rao Bahadur N. Shivraj was elected as President and P.N.Rajbhoj from Bombay was elected as general secretary. The convention passed the following resolutions; 1) Cripps proposals to secure full Indian cooperation with the British goverment during World War II were condemned as they failed to consider the interests of the dalits. 2) The separate identity of the dalits be recognised. 3) Special provision should be made in the budgets of respective provinces for the higher education of the untouchables. 4) The untouchables should get adequate representation in the central and provincial ministries. 5) Certain seats should be reserved in the government services. 6) The untouchables should get representation in the legislatures and local self-governments in proportion to their population. 7) Their representatives should be elected by separate electorate. 8) There should be provision in the constitution for the separate settlements of the Scheduled castes. 9) They should be given arable uncultivated land for their livelihood. The role played by SCF in politico-legal activities is of great importance: it could enlist the participation of the Scheduled castes in politics, it was spread over almost all parts of the country, and it tried to aggregate the interests of the SC’s and to protect them. In Oct. 1943, the central assembly passed a resolution moved by Pyrelal Kureel Talib, SCF member, for the removal of restrictions on the untouchables in the military forces against holding post of officers. However, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar himself desired to wind up the SCF and establish a new party, the Republican party of India (RPI) which could be able to associate with all the depressed class people and work as a strong opposition party to the ruling Congress and strive for the success of democracy.

July 20th, 1942, Sulochanabai Dongre Presided Over the 2nd Session of the All India Depressed Classes Women's Coneference.

She was a fearless leader in the All India Depressed classes Women Congress. She presided over the 2nd session of All India Depressed classes women’s conference held at Nagpur on July 20, 1942.

January 18th, 1943, Dr. Ambedkar's Lecture on "Ranade, Gandhi, and Jinnah"

Dr. Ambedkar delivered the lecture on “Ranade, Gandhi and Jinnah” on the occasion of 101st birthday celebration of Ranade in Gokhale Memorial Hall, Pune. Some highlights of the lecture include: “Entrenched behind the plaudits of the Press, the spirit of domination exhibited by these two Great Men (Gandhi and Jinnah) has transgressed all limits. By their domination they have demoralised their followers and demoralized politics. By their domination they have made half their followers fools and the other half hypocrites. In establishing their supremacy they have taken the aid of “big business” and money magnates. For the first time in our country, money is taking the field as an organised power…… Politics in the hands of these two Great Men have become a competition in extravaganza. If Mr. Gandhi is known as Mahatma, Mr. Jinnah must be known as Qaid-i-Azim. If Gandhi has the Congress, Mr. Jinnah must have the Muslim League…. The session of the Congress must be followed by a session of the League…. If the Congress passes a Resolution of 17,000 words, the Muslim League’s Resolution must exceed it by at least a thousand words…. Jinnah insists that Gandhi should admit that he is a Hindu. Gandhi insists that Jinnah should admit that he is one of the leaders of the Muslims…. Neither will consider a solution of the problems which is not eternal. Between them Indian politics has become “frozen,” to use a well-known Banking phrase, and no political action is possible.”

January 23rd, 1945, Birthdate of P.L. Punia

Panna Lal Punia, usually known as P. L. Punia, is an Indian politician and Member of the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh since 2014. He was member of the Lok Sabha from 2009 to 2014 and represented Barabanki (Lok Sabha constituency). He is a Dalit leader of the Indian National Congress party. He is also Chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and as such sits ex officio on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). In July 2012, Punia appeared in the popular TV show Satyamev Jayate, hosted by Bollywood star Aamir Khan, to raise awareness of discrimination against scheduled castes.

January 16th, 1946, Hindu - Mahar Riots

JANUARY 16, 1946: In the wake of the growing tensions of the Poona Act of 1932, and the fight around separate electorates for Dalits and Savarnas, Ambedkar took his contest to the Nagpur polls. He attempted to have a Dalit candidate be elected onto the reserved seat by only Dalit votes. The Congress party was dead set against a win in such a matter and instead positioned their own Dalit candidate even if he was illiterate or an absolute non-entity simply to defeat Ambedkar and his candidate. This political struggle was echoed in the streets. Where increasing Hindu atrocities were mounting against the increasing concious Dalit Mahar community. When a group of Dominant caste Hindus attacked a Mahar settlement, Mahars en masse fought back. They defended themselves with sticks, stones and daggers against the OBC ``Hindus'' provoked by nationalist propaganda to see the Ambedkarites as traitors. The Dalits not only defended themselves, they drove Gandhi himself off a stage in 1941 when some self-designated ``Harijans'' tried to organise his rally.

July 31st, 1946, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar and W.E.B. DuBois

An interesting record appears in the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois, the prominent African American intellectual and activist, whose archive is housed at the University of Massachusetts. In the 1940s, Ambedkar contacted Du Bois to inquire about the National Negro Congress petition to the U.N., which attempted to secure minority rights through the U.N. council. Ambedkar explained that he had been a "student of the Negro problem," and that "[t]here is so much similarity between the position of the Untouchables in India and of the position of the Negroes in America that the study of the latter is not only natural but necessary." In a letter dated July 31, 1946, Du Bois responded by telling Ambedkar he was familiar with his name, and that he had "every sympathy with the Untouchables of India.

January 22nd, 1947, Constituent Assembly Adopts Resolution

his resolution was moved by Jawaharlal Nehru on 13 December 1946, and adopted by the constiutent assembly on 22 January 1947. The constituent assembly adopted the following resolution. 1.This Constituent Assembly declares its firm and solemn resolve to proclaim India as an Independent Soverign Republic and to draw up for her future governance a Constitution; 2. Wherein the territories that now comprise British India, the territories that now form the Indian States, and such other parts fo India as are outside British India and the States as well as such other territories as are willing to be constituted into the Independent Soverign India, shall be a Union of them all; and 3.Wherein the said territories, whether with their present boundaries or with such others as may be determined by the Constituent Assembly and thereafter according to the law of the Constitution, shall possess and retain the status of autonomous Units, together with residuary powers and exercise all powers and functions of goverrnment and administration, save and except such powers and functions as are vested in or assigned to the Union, or as are inherent or implied in the Union or resulting therefrom; and 4.Wherein all power and authority of the Soverign Independent India, its constituent parts and organs of government, are derived from the people; and 5.Wherein shall be guaranteed and secured to all the people of India justice, social economic and political : equality of status, of opportunity, and before the law; freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association and action, subject to law and public morality; and 6.Wherein adequate safeguards shall be provided for minorities, backward and tribal areas, and depressed and other backward classes; and 7.Whereby shall be maintained the integrity of the territory of the Republic and its soverign rights on land, sea, and air according to justice and the law of civilized nations; and 8.This ancient land attains its righful and honoured placed in the world and make its full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind. ( Read More.....)

January 1st, 1948, The Supreme Court of India Rules in Favor of an Adivasi Woman

The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of four persons for stripping a tribal woman and parading her naked in a Maharashtra village in broad daylight, describing the incident as “shameful, shocking and outrageous”. In the 17-page judgment, the SC has given a thorough research on tribals who constitute about 8 per cent of the population, concluding that they were the original inhabitants of India but were being subjected to injustice since the days of Mahabharat. The court even went to the extent of holding Dronacharya guilty of meting out injustice to Eklavya, a tribal, by extracting his right thumb as ‘guru dakshina’ for teaching archery. “This is a shameful act on the part of Dronacharya. He had not even taught Eklavya, so what right had he to demand guru dakshina,” a Bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra questioned in their verdict. The Bench virtually reprimanded the Maharashtra Government for not filing an appeal seeking enhancement of the punishment, ranging from three months to one year on various counts, awarded by the trial court. “The dishonour of the victim, Nandabai, called for harsher punishment, and we are surprised that the state government did not file any appeal,” the apex court observed in its verdict, dismissing the petition of the accused who had challenged their conviction. [1] K N Kadam, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and the significance of his movement – a chronology book, Pg 70[2] Dhananjay Keer, Dr. Ambedkar: Life and Mission book, pg 298-299[3] R Sedhuraman/TNS, Tribune newspaper

January 1st, 1948, Periyar's View of Birth Control Reported in Kudi Arasu Magazine

Periyar’s view on birth control reported in Kusi Arasu magazine. First of all, whether a woman needs birth-control or not should be entirely woman’s decision… secondly, the objective of birth-control is not to control the growing populance or to advance the economy but to create an environment for women to have rights and decision-making power

January 14th, 1948, Temple Entry Agitation in Gujarat

Five hundred dalit satyagrahis collected at the gate of Swaminarayan Temple in Kalupur, Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The Kalaram Temple Agiation that took place in March 1930 under the able leadership Dr. Ambedkar had inspired the Temple Entry Agitation in Gujarat. The Act passed in the Bombay Legislative Assembly on 11 September 1947, granting entry of dalits in temples was a legal circular, but for the dalits if was a affirmation of dalit identity, For long the dalits had been mocked at by being prohibited from entering temples and participating in pujas, aartis, kathas and receiving Prasad. It was rage against all those symbols that had become the cause of their humiliation that was responsible for the Kalupur Swaminarayan Temple Entry Agitation. The board at the temple gates till 1938 said ‘Only for savarna Hindus’. With the commencement of the satyagrahas, the old board was removed and a new board in its place read: ‘Enrry to this temple is open for devotees of the Swaminarayan sect alone’. Five hundred dalit satyagraphis collected at the gate of the Kalupur Swaminarayan Temple on 14 January 1948 as part of the program of the HArijan Temple Entry Management Committee, established under the Presidentship of Kesahv Vaghela, Muldas Vaishya, Nathabhai Vaghela and Shankarlal Vaghela, only to have the massive gates shut in their face and locked. The news spread like wildfire in the entire city of Ahmadabad and within no time hores of dalits came rushing to the temple. As per a report in the Sandesh newspaper ated 16 Jan 1948: ‘Various bhajan-mandlis have arrived, Harijan women have also joined the Satyagraha. Mills have closed down forever… More than 25,000 people have collected at the Swaminarayan temple.’ The chief priest of the temple, Yagnapurushdas, was successful in obtaining a stay order from the court. This was the frist-ever violent agitation against any place of worship in the history of Gujarat state. The religious heads of other religious sects were also shaken up. Acharya Krishnadas Maharaj of the Vallabha sect in Bombay said, ‘I will fight for the withdrawl of the Temple Entry Act till I live.’ (The temple entry act came into force in 1947 as Bombay Harijan Temple Entry Act). When Gandhi was informed of this sathyagraha, he expressed his said in letter, ‘They (dalits) do not need to fast in front of a temple for thiere is no virtue in the act, but only sin. Everyone should keep away from such sin.’ This agitation was in essence, a campaign for human rights, which is what it would be called today. The agitation was growing in intensity. Jayantibhai Arya, Narsinbhai Makwana, Keshavlal Sonara, Bhagwanbhai Parmar, Khemchand Parmar, Ishwarbhai Arya, Purushotam Vaishya and Ramjibhai Vaghela went on a fast, and with all the dalit mill workers of the Throstle Department joining them the mills came to a standstill. It was reported in Sandesh, ‘The number of people on fast has increased to 85, including 4 women.’ This was the time of biting cold and freezing wind. Gradually the agitation grew so intense that Sandesh said on 16 January 1948: ‘Now even the Bhanhis of Ahmedabad have decided to join the strike, but the threat of the municipal authorities to sanitary workers have compelled them to stay away from the strike.’

February 15th, 1949, Birthdate of Namdheo Dhasal

Namdeo Dhasal was a Dalit poet, writer, and revolutionary who was born on February 15, 1949, in Pur Kanersar village near Pune, India to a butcher's family from Mahar caste. He grew up in poverty, living in 'Golpitha', a red light area in Mumbai, that comes alive in many of his poems.

January 11th, 1950, Ambedkar Spearheads the Hindu Code Bill

After his great triumph in the Constituent Assembly in spearheading the preparation of Constitution of India, Dr. Ambedkar returned to Bombay with a new battle cry, the Hindu Code Bill, which he had revised & submitted to the Constituent Assembly in October 1948. Work on revising & codifying Hindu Law had been ongoing for the last ten years. Dr. Ambedkar transformed parts of the Code Bill relating to joint family & women’s property, and it became a nightmare to most Members of the Select Committee. According to the bill, (1) For the first time, the widow and daughter were awarded the same share of property as the son; (2) for the first time, women were allowed to divorce a cruel or negligent husband; (3) for the first time, the husband was prohibited from taking a second wife; (4) for the first time, a man and woman of different castes could be married under Hindu law; (5) for the first time, a Hindu couple could adopt a child of a different caste. As soon as Dr. Ambedkar touched the Code & became its spokesman intelligentsia all over India was driven into two camps, on one side was Manu & other Dr. Ambedkar. Dr. Ambedkar started the war on 11 January 1950 when he addressed the 2nd session of the Siddharth College Parliament in Bombay. He said that it would be wrong to describe the bill as either radical or revolutionary. He said the bill does not oppose orthodox practices while according sanction to new ways of progress. He said the government must endeavor to prepare a Civil Code for the benefit of the country as a whole and the Hindu Code was a step in that direction. He said it was beneficial from the country’s oneness that the same set of laws should govern Hindu social & religious life. He said the modifications were based on Hindu Shastras & Smritis. On this day, he was presented with a golden casket containing a copy of India’s constitution by the Bombay SC Federation. He said he has been branded as a pro-Muslim & pro-British leader. He hoped that this work would help Hindus to understand him better & show how the accusations hurled at him were untrue.

January 22nd, 1950, Periyar Imprisoned for Publication of "Ponmozhigal" Book

Periyar was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for the publication of his book ‘Ponmozhigal’ (Golden sayings).

January 26th, 1950, The Constitution of India Takes Effect

January 26, 1950: The Constitution of India came into force, ending the British Sovereignty over India. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is the Father of the Constitution of India, and laid the foundation for the world’s biggest and vibrant democracy. In one of the debates on 25 November 1949, a day before the Constituent Assembly adopted the Consitution of India, Dr. Ambedkar said: “On 26th January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics, we will have equality, but in social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man, one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment, else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of democracy which this Constituent Assembly has so laboriously built up. I feel that the constitution is workable, it is flexible and it is strong enough to hold the country together both in peacetime and in wartime. Indeed, if I may say so, if things go wrong under the new Constitution, the reason will not be that we had a bad Constitution. What we will have to say is that Man was vile.” ( Read More.....)

June 30th, 1950, Om Prakash Valmiki

Om Prakash Valmiki was an Indian Dalit writer and poet well known for his autobiography, Joothan, considered a milestone in Dalit literature. He was born at the village of Barla in the Muzzafarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh. He describes his life as an untouchable, or Dalit, in the newly independent India of the 1950s. He asserts that Being a Dalit child, he was tortured and abused everywhere in society. However, he was fortunate enough to be born in a household where everyone loved and cared for him. The support and encouragement he gained from the family enabled him to face the dangers of being a Dalit. Valmiki was always conscious of the importance of studies and he was a bright student. He loved reading and writing. In Joothan, he talks about the discrimination they had to face in the school at different points.He says: “During the examinations we could not drink water from the glass when thirsty. To drink water, we had to cup our hands. The peon would pour water from way high up, lest our hands touch the glass”. "The word Joothan" refers to scraps of food left on a plate, destined for the garbage or animals. Dalits have been forced to accept and eat Joothan for centuries, and the word encapsulates the pain, humiliation, and poverty of a community forced to live at the bottom of India's social pyramid. Valmiki shares his heroic struggle to survive a preordained life of perpetual physical and mental persecution and his transformation into a speaking subject under the influence of the great Dalit political leader, B. R. Ambedkar. In Joothan, he documents the long-silenced and long-denied sufferings of the Dalits and provides a manifesto for the revolutionary transformation of society and human consciousness. Besides his autobiography Joothan (1997) Valmiki published three collections of poetry Sadiyon Ka Santaap(1989) Bas! Bahut Ho Chuka (1997), and Ab Aur Nahin (2009); and two collections of short stories Salaam (2000),and Ghuspethiye (2004). He also wrote Dalit Saahity Ka Saundaryshaastr (2001), and a history of the Valmiki community, Safai Devata (2009), Do Chera(Play). He is quoted as saying "Being called a Hindu is like a gaali (abuse) to me. I use Valmiki as a surname because having one is almost a necessity these days. If you just say Omprakash, it's not enough. People demand a surname as they come from a certain mindset. Caste envelops every aspect of life in India."

September 9th, 1951, Dr. Ambedkar Resigns from Nehru's Cabinet Citing Lack of Support for the Hindu Code Bill

When Ambedkar spearheaded the passing of the Hindu Code Bill, he had initial support from Nehru, who had declared that his government would “stand or fall” with the Hindu Code Bill. The main demands of the bill were: (1) For the first time, the widow and daughter were awarded the same share of property as the son; (2) for the first time, women were allowed to divorce a cruel or negligent husband; (3) for the first time, the husband was prohibited from taking a second wife; (4) for the first time, a man and woman of different castes could be married under Hindu law; (5) for the first time, a Hindu couple could adopt a child of a different caste. A major leader of the movement against this new bill was Swami Karpatri. In speeches in Delhi and elsewhere, he challenged Ambedkar to a public debate on the new Code. To the Law Minister's claim that the Shastras did not really favour polygamy, Swami Karpatri quoted Yagnavalkya: "If the wife is a habitual drunkard, a confirmed invalid, a cunning, a barren or a spendthrift woman, if she is bitter-tongued, if she has only daughters and no son, if she hates her husband, (then) the husband can marry a second wife even while the first is living." The Swami supplied the precise citation for this injunction: the third verse of the third chapter of the third section of Yagnavalkya's Smriti on marriage. He did not, however, tell us whether the injunction also allowed the wife to take another husband if the existing one was a drunkard, bitter-tongued, a spendthrift, etc. There were also some respectable opponents of the new Code, including Rajendra Prasad, who in January 1950 became the President of India. In 1950 and 1951 several attempts were made to get the bill passed, but the opposition was so intense that it had to be dropped. Ambedkar resigned from the Cabinet in disgust, saying that Nehru had not the "earnestness and determination" required to back the bill through to the end.

October 1st, 1951, Ganti Mohana Chandra Balayogi

Ganti Mohana Chandra Balayogi (October 1, 1951 – March 3, 2002) was an Indian lawyer and politician. Growing up in a small village, Balayogi had to travel to Guttenadeevi village for his primary education. He received his Post Graduate in Kakinada and a law degree from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam.

October 5th, 1952, Kancha Ilaiah - Leader and Author of "Why I am Not a Hindu"

Kancha Ilaiah is an Indian activist for Dalit rights and a writer. His books include Why I am not a Hindu, Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution , God As Political Philosopher: Budha's challenge to Brahminism, A Hollow Shell, The State and Repressive Culture, Manatatwam (in Telugu), and Buffalo Nationalism: A Critique of Spiritual Fascism. Kancha Ilaiah was born in the village of Papaiahpet, Warangal district, which was then in the state of Telangana. His family belonged to the sheep-grazing Kuruma Golla caste. His mother exercised a seminal influence on his thinking. She was a strong woman and the leader of her caste against the forest guards. She had allegedly died in one of the confrontations with police, being fatally injured while protesting, when she was 46.Ilaiah has a MA degree in political sciences and a MPhil awarded for his study of land reforms in Andhra Pradesh. He has been a recipient of the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Award and was a Nehru Fellow between 1994-97. While working as an associate professor of political science at Osmania University his employer became concerned about articles he was writing for a local newspaper and advised him not to contribute material that might inflame sectarian discontent or prejudice. Despite this he has continued to grow strong as a Dalit rights leader and activist.

July 27th, 1953, Katti Padma Rao - Poet-Activist

Katti Padma Rao is an Indian poet and dalit activist. Dalit activist and energetic publicist and leader of the Dalit Mahasabha in Telugu speaking land. Katti Padma was born in Etheru, Ponnur Mandal, Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh. His parents, Katti Subba Rao and Manikyamma, belong to a dalit, Mala community. Katti Padma Rao is a Dalit ideologue, Dalit intellectual, facile writer and socio-political activist. He began his career as an academician. He worked as a lecturer in Telugu, PBN College, Ponnur in the year 1975. He went on to serve as lecturer in Sanskrit, Telugu and Vice-Principal in Bhavan Narayana Sanskrit College, Ponnur. He is an erudite scholar in Sanskrit, Telugu, Religion and Sociology. He is the founder General Secretary of Andhra Pradesh Dalit Mahasabha. Dalit Mahasabha is an organization that was established after the massacre of Dalits (Madigas) in Karamchedu village by the Kammas in 1985. This organization mobilized not only the Dalits, but also the Adivasis and the BCs against caste-based atrocities and oppression. Dalit Mahasabha believed that oppressive culture can be changed by replacing it with an alternative Dalit culture, a culture that draws from the Charvaka’s materialism, Buddhist Sangha philosophy and humanism, and thus, recognising fundamental human “equality, fraternity and dignity. Above all these recognitions and achievements he is revered as the champion of human rights by the downtrodden and the honours bestowed on him by the social organizations are countless.

January 1st, 1954, Kotiganahalli Ramaiah - Dalit Cultural Icon from Karnataka

Kotiganahalli Ramaiah is an eminent Dalit poet, playwright, philosopher and cultural activist from Karnataka, India. He is one of the founders of Aadima, an institution that experiments with children's theatre, film, education and caste consciousness. He is named as a Aam Aadmi Party candidate for Kolar Lok Sabha constituency for 2014 Indian general election. Kotiganahalli Ramaiah was born in the village of Kotiganahalli in Kolar district in Karnataka. He quit college, before completing a degree, to join the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti, a political group that spearheaded the struggle against caste discrimination and fought to acquire land rights for the former untouchables castes in Karnataka. He rose to be an instrumental figure in the Dalit Movement where his contribution is most remembered for the numerous songs of resistance and struggles penned by him, some of which were adapted from the political climate of the left movement in Andhra Pradesh, particularly those by the revolutionary poet Gaddar. During this period Ramaiah also worked as a journalist with Lankesh Patrike, Mungaru and Suggi Sangati; and as a screenplay writer for numerous Kannada films and T.V. serials.

May 10th, 1954, Prakash Yashwant Ambedkar

Prakash Yashwant Ambedkar is an Indian politician. He is national leader of a local political party called Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM). He is the grandson of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. He was a member of the 13th Lok Sabha of India. He has twice represented the Lok Sabha constituency of Akola, Maharashtra, India. He has served in both houses of the Indian Parliament. His younger brother Anandraj Ambedkar is also a politician.

December 5th, 1954, Dr. Ambedkar and Periyar Discuss Conversion to Buddhism

Dr. Ambedkar met Periyar in Rangoon during the Third International Buddhist Conference. Dr. Ambedkar revealed that he had decided to convert to Buddhism and urged EVR Periyar to convert too. But, EVR replied that as long as he was in Hinduism, he could criticize it, but when he left, he could not. Therefore, he wanted to be in Hinduism to fight against the tyrannies.

July 4th, 1955, Death of Babaji Palwankar Baloo

He was the first Dalit (Chamar in hindu caste system) to make a significant impact on Indian cricket. He bowled left-arm spin with great accuracy and had the ability to turn the ball both ways and was the nation’s best bowler in 1920’s. He was also a moderately skilled lower-order batsman. Baloo played 33 first class matches, from 1905 to 1920 taking 179 wickets at an average of 15.21. Even though he performed exceedingly well, he was discriminated due to his caste.

December 1st, 1955, Birthdate of P. Sivakami

P.Sivakami, an I.A.S officer of the 1980 group from Tamil Nadu, chose a deliberate exit from significant post mainly to fight atrocities towards Dalits. She joined Bahujan Samaj Party, and contested 2009 parliamentary election but did not win the race. Later she organised the “Samuga Samatuva Padai Party”. "To be Dalit is one thing, to be a feminist is another. In Sivakami's case, she is a Dalit-feminist and "everyone wants to disown you". Something that she has faced and is aware of since the time she started writing stories in Tamil as a high school student. Her repertoire includes four novels, four collections of short stories, one book of non-fiction. She writes columns on land rights for Dalit women and also on political empowerment. She has written, directed and produced a feature film."

January 15th, 1956, Mayawati Kumari

Mayawati Kumari is an Indian politician who served four terms as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP) as head of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which focuses on a platform of social change to improve the welfare of the weakest strata of Indian society — the Bahujans or Dalits, Other Backward Classes, and religious minorities. She was Chief Minister briefly in 1995 and again in 1997, then from 2002 to 2003 and from 2007 to 2012. Mayawati's rise from humble beginnings has been called a "miracle of democracy" by P. V. Narasimha Rao, former Prime Minister of India. In 1993 Mayawati formed a coalition with the Samajwadi Party and became the youngest Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh at that time. She was the first female Dalit Chief Minister in India. In 1997 and in 2002 she was Chief Minister in coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party, the second time for a full term.( Read More.....)

September 1st, 1956, Eknath Awad

Advocate Eknath Awad, who is also known as “Jija” fondly, (meaning “the respected”). he was born in Maharashtra on 19th January 1956 in a Potraj (Mang) family. Potraj is an oppressive profession assigned to some Dalit castes. They grow long dreadlocks, smear vermillion on their forehead, wear a multi-coloured cloth around the waist and a whip in hand, whip themselves as they dance. Eknath’s difficult childhood was steeped in these humiliations of caste, untouchability and poverty. However, Awad was a bright young man, he finished his schooling in village schools and went on to attain his Bachelors of Arts (BA), graduated with a Masters of Arts (MA), Masters in Social Work (MSW) and later LLB. During his time in college, he was exposed to Phule-Ambedkarite ideology. He became an active member of the Dalit Panthers. As a politically empowered Dalit man, he was at the forefront of Namantar (renaming) struggle of Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University that unleashed violence against Dalits of Marathwada affecting more than 25,000 people in Marathwada. His time in this struggle exposed him to the understanding of oppressive structures holding caste-marginalized people hostage. He realized that dalits lived as bonded laborers and as slaves in the fields of dominant castes generation after generation. If they asserted for their rights, upper caste landlords countered with gruesome atrocities. Awad realized that tackling just the issues of human rights was inadequate, these issues had to be complemented with economic and social overhaul. With these things in mind, he established Rural Development Centre (RDC) in 1985 with the vision that reform could be effective only if it was supported by peoples’ movements. In 1990, Manvi Hakka Abhiyan or Campaign for Human Rights (CHR) was born inspired from the struggles of Ambedkar, Phule, Annabhau Sathe, Shahu Maharaj, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. This movement worked to legalize barren land in villages under as property of Dalits. More than 24,607 Dalit families submitted grazing land ownership claims from 1100 villages. Awad’s struggle managed to free more than 70,000 hectares of land. He had a broad vision for Bahujan well-being and worked on not only Dalit rights but the issues of child rights, education, gender justice, conservation and sustainable agriculture in drought-inflicted Marathwada. He advocated for peoples’ to be free of the shackles of caste, patriarchy and superstition. between 1995 and 2012, he started the satyashodhak (truthseekers), debrahminised congregational marriages. in an act of liberation, Along with his thousands of followers in 2006, he also converted to Buddhism in Nagpur. We honour his work and legacy that are celebrated in Maharashtra and nationwide. credit: Nilesh Kumar, First published in Round Table India

October 14th, 1956, Republican Party of India Established

One of the first post-independence parties for Dalits emerging was the Republican Party of India. At the day of his mass conversion to Buddhism at DikshaBhumi, he announced his will to dissolve the Scheduled Caste Federation and form the Republican Party of India. This was the final political vehicle devised by Ambedkar, though its formation in reached fruition only some months after his death. The Republican Party was a transformation of the Scheduled Castes Federation, electorally unsuccessful and also judged to be an inappropriate organisational form for Buddhists who had sloughed off caste by the act of abandoning Hinduism. Almost from the beginning the RPI ran into ideological, organisational, and factional problems. The first major division was between an old guard more deeply rooted in the village world of the majority of Mahars, and a younger and more highly educated leadership that increasingly focussed on the opportunities inherent in urban life and the scheme of compensatory discrimination. This generational conflict was connected to a split between those who saw the future of Mahar politics in terms of broader economic and class struggle - some of these were the older village-based activists - and an emerging leadership less committed to working with caste Hindus and even other Untouchable communities. While Ambedkar himself had been far less concerned with agrarian problems than with broader questions of political and constitutional principle, his stature had been such as to engender loyalty right across Mahar society and thus to blur the divergence of interest within it. After Ambedkar, and in the context of growing social and economic diversity among the Mahars, there was no one who could command this general loyalty. RPI carried its divisions into the election of 1962, and failed to win a single Lok Sabha seat from the new linguistic state of Maharashtra.' It did somewhat better in the State Assembly election of that year, but after that it won only a handful of Assembly seats in Maharashtra. The RPI also put down roots in several States where Ambedkar's influence had been relatively strong - particularly Uttar Pradesh (notably the cities of Agra and Aligarh) and Punjab, but also Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Extraordinarily, the RPI was electorally more successful in Uttar Pradesh than in Maharashtra. Its success in UP was built around a substantial Buddhist politician of Chamar origins, B. P. Maurya, who drew votes away from Congress by engineering a local coalition of Untouchables and Muslims in the city and District of Aligarh. But the inherent instability of this alliance - there had been no historical sympathy between Chamars and Muslims - and the Congress split of 1969 quickly changed the electoral equation for the RPI in Uttar Pradesh. By 1971 B. P. Maurya and his major opponent within the party, Ramji Ram, were both returned to the Lok Sabha under the banner of Indira Gandhi's ostensibly left-orientated branch of the Congress. This was the effective end of the Republican Party as a force in Uttar Pradesh and paved way to the emergence of movements such as the Dalit Panthers. THE UNTOUCHABLES Subordination, Poverty And The State In Modern India By Oliver Mendelsohn & Marika Vicziany

October 14th, 1956, Historic Mass Conversion of Ambedkar and Other Dalits to Buddhism

Ambedkar organised a formal public ceremony for himself and his supporters in Nagpur on 14 October 1956. Accepting the Three Refuges and Five Precepts from a Buddhist monk in the traditional manner, Ambedkar completed his own conversion, along with his wife. He then proceeded to convert some 500,000 of his supporters who were gathered around him. He prescribed the 22 Vows for these converts, after the Three Jewels and Five Precepts. The famous 22 vows are: I shall have no faith in Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh nor shall I worship them. I shall have no faith in Rama and Krishna who are believed to be incarnation of God nor shall I worship them. I shall have no faith in ‘Gauri’, Ganapati and other gods and goddesses of Hindus nor shall I worship them. I do not believe in the incarnation of God. I do not and shall not believe that Lord Buddha was the incarnation of Vishnu. I believe this to be sheer madness and false propaganda. I shall not perform ‘Shraddha’ nor shall I give ‘pind-dan’. I shall not act in a manner violating the principles and teachings of the Buddha. I shall not allow any ceremonies to be performed by Brahmins. I shall believe in the equality of man. I shall endeavour to establish equality. I shall follow the ‘noble eightfold path’ of the Buddha. I shall follow the ‘paramitas’ prescribed by the Buddha. I shall have compassion and loving kindness for all living beings and protect them. I shall not steal. I shall not tell lies. I shall not commit carnal sins. I shall not take intoxicants like liquor, drugs etc. I shall endeavour to follow the noble eightfold path and practise compassion and loving kindness in every day life. I renounce Hinduism which is harmful for humanity and impedes the advancement and development of humanity because it is based on inequality, and adopt Buddhism as my religion. I firmly believe the Dhamma of the Buddha is the only true religion. I believe that I am having a re-birth. I solemnly declare and affirm that I shall hereafter lead my life according to the principles and teachings of the Buddha and his Dhamma.
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January 1st, 1957, Prevention of Social Disabilities Act

The Government of Sri Lanka passed the Prevention of Social Disabilities Act making it an offense to deny access to various public places to persons by reason of their caste. A 1971 amendment imposed stiffer punishments for the commission of offenses under the 1957 act. According to the U.N. Subcommission's working paper: "Initially there were some prosecutions in the North but there was a tendency for the police not to take action against violations. In a celebrated temple-entry case, the Act was challenged as interfering with customs and ancient usages that prohibited defilement of a Hindu temple by the entry of low-caste persons. This argument was rejected by the Supreme Court and Privy Council."

January 1st, 1957, Mass Conversion Drive by Pragyanand

In 1957, Pragyanand held a mass conversion drive in Lucknow for 15,000 lay persons, a mammoth gathering and the biggest in those days in northern India.

January 1st, 1958, Bama - Dalit Novelist and Teacher

Our village is very beautiful." This was the opening line of 'Kurukku', the childhood memoirs written in Tamil by Dalit writer Bama. 'Kurukku', (which in Tamil means the sharp-edged stem of the palmera tree) voiced the joys and sorrows of her people, oppressed by higher castes in India. "We were very poor. I was witness to many instances of violence against Dalits. I also saw the humiliation my grandmother and mother faced in the fields and homes of the landlords. Despite the misery, we had a carefree childhood."In 2001, Lakshmi Holmstorm's English translation of 'Kurukku' won the Crossword Award in India and established Bama as a distinct voice in Indian literature. (Dalits are members of India's most marginalized and oppressed castes.)Bama didn't really plan to be a writer. Born in 1958 as Faustina Mary Fatima Rani (her grandfather had converted to Christianity) in a village called Puthupatti in Tamil Nadu (southern India), her landless ancestors and parents worked as laborers for the landlords. She and her four siblings spent a lot of time playing in the fields. "Sometimes we were cops and robbers, sometimes husband and wife. But my favorite game was kabaddi (a team wrestling game played in many Indian villages). I liked the whole business of challenging, crossing over and vanquishing the opponent," says Bama, recently in New Delhi to attend a writer's meet.Perhaps it was this game which trained Bama to face many challenges in life and come out victorious. Bama's father, who was in the Indian army, was very particular about the children's education. "If he had not joined the army, we would never have had the regular income for education. Education also gave us freedom to get away from the clutches of the landlords and lead our own lives," says Bama.Her brother Raj Gautaman, also a writer, introduced her to the world of books. "I read Tamil writers like Jayakantan, Akhilan, Mani and Parthasarthy. In college I read my favorites - Kahlil Gibran and Rabindranath Tagore. I didn't have many books to read so I read the same ones again and again," she recalls. In college she also wrote poetry. But after college Bama became a schoolteacher and chose to educate very poor girls.Her life took a big turn when at the age of 26 she took the vows to become a nun. This was an attempt to break away from caste bonds and further pursue her goals to help poor Dalit girls. "I felt that at the seminary I would be able to carry forward my work with the poor," she says. But seven years later, in 1992, Bama walked out of the seminary. Her family insisted she get married and settle down. "I had lost everything. I was a stranger to society. I kept lamenting about life and harked back to my happy childhood days in the village," narrates Bama.Struggling to find herself again, Bama followed a friend's advice and started to write her childhood memoirs. She also created her pen name - Bama - a blend of different sounds from her Christian name. She completed the book in six months. This slim volume, a semi-fictional account of the growing awareness of a Dalit, created a stir in literary circles for its uninhibited language and bold vocabulary. "Some critics cried out that a woman should not have used such coarse words. But I wrote the way people speak. I didn't force a literary language on myself," says Bama. Today, at 45, Bama teaches in a primary school in Uthiramerur, near Chennai, capital of Tamil Nadu. Her works, which include two collections of short stories, 'Kissubukkaran' and 'Sangathi', have also been translated into French. Though Bama began by writing about the condition of Dalits in rural India, she now plans to focus on communal clashes.After school, Bama spends most of her time talking to young Dalit women about religion, oppression and social change. She shares her experiences as a student, nun and a writer to encourage them to build something anew.Why did she choose to remain single? "The existing family system would not give me the space I needed to do my kind of work. So I chose to stay single," she explains. "My ambition is to communicate the dreams and aspirations of my people, who have remained on the fringes for centuries in Indian history."

January 1st, 1958 Udit Raj -Bringing Dalit Buddhism to Political Activism

Udit Raj (born as Ram Raj) was born in Ramnagar, Uttar Pradesh into a low caste Khatik (butcher) Hindu family, and studied BA at Allahabad University. He was selected for the Indian Revenue Service in 1988 and served as the Deputy Commissioner, Joint Commissioner and Additionnal Commissioner of Income Tax at New Delhi. He formed Indian Justice Party, The All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations on 2 October 1997 and in 1996 founded the Lord Buddha Club. On 24 November 2003 he declared his resignation from the Indian government service and formed a political party namely Indian Justice Party. He is a prominent dalit political activist working. After his conversion to Buddhism on 4 November 2001, he changed his name from Ram Raj to Udit Raj.He is a strong advocate of increased reservation in India for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. Raj has formed partnerships with Christian organizations including the Indian Social Institute and the All India Christian Council. Raj has worked with prominent Christian leaders such as John Dayal and Ambrose Pinto and with Muslim leaders such as Maulana Mahmood Madani, general secretary of the Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Hind. He is also a member of National Integretion Council (of the Indian Government).On 27 October, 2002 Udit Raj organized a conversion ceremony in which thousands of Dalits 'converted' to Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. He has organized other conversion events including one at Chennai on 6 December, 2002. These conversion activities have been criticized by some journalists and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Raj has always aptly replied to such critisims.Udit Raj is seen on television channels on discussions concerning issues of marginalised. He is also very active in political circles in Delhi.

January 23rd, 1961, Savi Savarkar - Drawing the Struggle

Savi, as he is popularly known had to face the mainstream modern Indian Art and struggled to evolve a space for Dalit art and imagery in the realm of art gallery exhibiting space. He is the first Dalit artist in the country who dared to aestheticise the Dalit themes in the main stream contemporary art practices. It may also be noted that Savi challenged the boundaries of mainstream aesthetics in terms of weaving pictorial signifiers that have altogether a different connotations and defies the hegemony. His works are located in the realm of countering the Brahmanical hegemonic practices by articulating voice for voiceless. Savi Savarkar was born in Nagpur in a locality called Garoba Maidan, a place known for another stronghold of Ambedkar movement in Nagpur. He was brought up in a strong Ambedkarite environment. His immediate society was highly receptive to the new changes that were initiated by Dr. Ambedkar and Savi was no exception to absorb those changes from the very beginning. As a child he had lot of love for his grand-mother Gajabai who often would narrate numerous stories from their own life. However, more than autobiographical account, Gajabai preferred to narrate stories of Dr. Ambedkar’s life. Those stories were added additions like fairy tales transformed into visualized world of Dr. Ambedkar’s life. They had deep impact on Savi’s mind and he began to understand Dr. Ambedkar through the eyes of Gajabai. It served for him the first hand information regarding the quality of life of a Dalit family constantly struggling to live life. Often the colors of Panchashil flags, the blue caps and flags of Republic Party of India caught the imagination Savi Savarkar. He diligently perceived those images as his own heritage. The distinct iconography he developed was an image with sputum pot hanging around neck and a broom behind signifying the untouchable. Savi’s ideas and art emerged through the same common heritage of social struggle.

March 19th, 1963, Reverend Dr. Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar

Reverend Dr Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar, a Dalit spiritual leader whose struggle and contributions have revolutionized the Church’s approach to religion, gender, caste and sexuality. Dr. Evangeline grew up in a family of 8 children raised single-handedly by her father following the early demise of her mother. Her father was a key influence in her life, planting the seeds of Dalit consciousness and Dalit spirituality in her young mind. He encouraged her to dream big and transcend the boundaries drawn by caste and gender. Walking the path of his lessons, young Evangeline, at 21, found herself the only girl in her divinity class. On the day of her interview, she was asked, “Why did you choose theological education as your option, when you know that the Church does not ordain women to be priests?” Evangeline’s answer challenged this logic of impossibility: “Perhaps, I will come back to teach in this College!”. And she did. Evangeline came back to teach in the same college where she gained that critical perspective. In 2006, when the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India made an amendment to let women into their ministry, Evangeline became the first woman to hold office as the Vice President. Evangeline recalls the different painful glass ceilings that had to be shattered during that climb in life. She was told, “Evangeline, you may have secured the prestigious award for being the outstanding student of your theology class, but what will we, the male pastors do, if women opt for ministry and take away our jobs in the church? Women have enough work to do at home!” In her attempts to revolutionize the church’s relationship to gender, she asserts that the acceptance of body and sexuality is key to faith in God. Her fiery sermons ask why it is so difficult to find acceptance for effeminacy. She asks that we break free from the understanding of women’s bodies as polluting, leaking, bleeding and sexual. She says that the image of God as cis, male, and one who condones racism, sexism, classism, casteism and ethnocentrism has damaged not only the oppressed peoples’ self-esteem but has seriously curbed our communities’ larger possibility for liberation. Her ideas have stood tall and have shook the status quo of both church and caste patriarchal society. Today the Reverend Dr. Evangeline continues to be a theological juggernaut. She teaches at the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, South Carolina and focuses on building a network of struggle and resistance between Dalits and other people of color.

August 10th, 1963, Phoolan Devi

Phoolan Devi (1963 – 2001) was born into a traditional boatman class Mallaah family, she was kidnapped by a gang of dacoits. The Gujjar leader of the gang tried to rape her, but she was protected by the deputy leader Vikram, who belonged to her caste. Later, an upper-caste Thakur friend of Vikram killed him, abducted Phoolan, and locked her up in the Behmai village. Phoolan was raped in the village by Thakur men, until she managed to escape after three weeks. Phoolan Devi then formed a gang of Mallahs, which carried out a series of violent robberies in north and central India, mainly targeting upper-caste people. Some say that Phoolan Devi targeted only the upper-caste people and shared the loot with the lower-caste people. Seventeen months after her escape from Behmai, Phoolan returned to the village, to take revenge. On February 14, 1981, her gang massacred twenty-two Thakur men in the village some of whom were involved in her kidnapping or rape. Phoolan Devi later surrendered and served eleven years in prison, after which she became a ran elections. During her election campaign, she was criticized by the women widowed in the Behmai massacre. Kshatriya Swabhimaan Andolan Samanvay Committee (KSASC), a Kshatriya organization, held a statewide campaign to protest against her. She was elected a Member of Parliament twice. On July 25, 2001, Phoolan Devi was shot dead by unknown assassins. Later, a man called Sher Singh Rana confessed to the murder, saying he was avenging the deaths of 22 Kshatriyas at Behmai. ( Read More.....)

October 25th, 1964, Kalekuri Prasad - Rebellion and Poetry

Kalekuri Prasad was one of the great rebel Dalit Telugu poets who came out of the People's War Group and VIRASAM (The Revolutionary Writer's Association). He was not only a writer but a poet, literary critic, musician, translator, and Dalit activist. Touched by the Karamchedu and Tsundur atrocities he wrote the very popular "Karma Boomilo Pusina O Puvva" in 1987. The song became a popular hit when it was included in the Telugu movie, Sri Ramuliah in 1987. He has translated around seventy books (from English) into Telugu introducing international revolutionaries like Che Guevara to the Telugu readers and translating to English Telugu work like Swami Dharma Theertha's "The Menace of Hindu Imperialism". He passed away on May 17, 2013. He wrote : I was Shambhuka in the Treta Yuga Twenty two years ago, my name was Kanchikacherla Kotesu My place of birth is Kilvenmani, Karamchedu, Neerukonda Now Chunduru is the name that cold-blooded feudal brutality Has tattooed on my heart with ploughshares From now on, Chunduru is not a noun but a pronoun Now every heart is a Chunduru, a burning tumour I am the wound of multitudes, the multitude of wounds For generations, an unfree individual in a free country Having been the target Of humiliations, atrocities, rapes and torture I am someone raising his head for a fistful of self-respect In this nation of casteist bigots blinded by wealth I am someone who lives to register life itself as a protest I am someone who dies repeatedly to live Don't call me a victim I am an immortal, I am an immortal, I am an immortal"

July 7th, 1965, Birthdate of Manda Krishna Madiga, leader of MRPS

Manda Krishna Madiga is a Dalit politician and activist fighting for the rights of the madigas. He heads the movement fighting for the rights of the madigas called Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS)The daily experience of caste discrimination, feudal oppression and exploitation of the village life made him to associate with radical movements of the region. His active involvement as a grassroots worker and fighter in the movement helped him to learn the role that he can play in the transformation the unequal society. Later his realization of the limitations of the radical movements which are dominated by dominant castes pushed him to search for the new path of revolutionary agenda and practice. The post-Karamchedu struggles made him to become an active full-time worker and leader in the "Ambedkar Yuvajana Sangam" and "Samatha Sainik Dal" activities across the state against caste atrocities, discrimination and humiliation on Dalits at gross root level.The historical disparities, hierarchy of untouchability, the different trajectories of social life of 62 scheduled castes and monopolization of reservation benefits by few communities (Mala etc.) made Manda Krishna Madiga to start a "Dandora Movement" 7 July 1994, which is popularly known as MRPS (Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi) in order to rationalize (categorize) of SC reservation to reach the lowest of the low within SCs. The contribution of the Dandora movement is a historical in transforming the stigmatized identities of Madigas into self respected Madiga identity. The uncompromised struggle and journey towards dignity and human rights, the new forms of struggles, strategies, forms of protests and consciousness of Madigas across state inspired thousands of activists, writers, artists and made Madiga community to stand by transformative peoples struggles, aspirations and work beyond madiga community in the state in realizing the humanitarian and democratic values across caste and religion. Both Manda Krishna Madiga leadership and MRPS movement since its formation or in 18 years of its history created a ray of new hope for the Madigas in particular and oppressed in general, by overcoming many obstacles, which is a great source of inspiration for the future generation. He added Madiga surname in 1994.

July 3rd, 1966, Durga Sob - Defining Dalit Leadership

Durga Sob was just 10 when she realized she was from the Dalit. She narrates, “I drank from a water pot that other people used, and by sharing this water, I had made it ‘unclean’. I was screamed at and chased away. I told my mother and she said: “God made us Dalit, that’s just the way it is.” It was then I knew the pain of being a Dalit, and had to do something to change things.” Since then, Durga has been a brave and lifelong advocate for the rights of Dalit and Dalit women. The injustices experienced during her childhood in the remote village of Silgadi in western Nepal inspired Durga to found the Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO) to fight against caste and gender discrimination. Education is also denied to many Dalits. Around 80 per cent of Dalit women are illiterate and the first milestone Durga achieved was being admitted to school: “My mother, a wonderful woman, encouraged me, despite everyone saying she was wasting her money.” Despite continual discrimination and bullying, Durga completed school by the age of 16. Realizing that she was equal to her classmates, and again breaking Dalit rank, she started teaching English to other Dalits: ‘I felt it was no good if I were the only one who was educated; I had to educate others. I would bring all the girls to my home and teach them. After this, many went to school and completed their education.’ Moving to Kathmandu when she was 19 years old, Durga started working for ActionAid and was inspired to found FEDO in 1994. The early days were difficult: “We needed seven Dalit women on the board before we could register FEDO and it was hard to find educated and committed Dalit women, because they were so oppressed. Moreover, women in urban areas did not wish to expose themselves as Dalit.” Durga also experienced prejudice from other women activists: ‘High caste women would not accept us and I was routinely excluded.’ Durga was, however, used to chronic discrimination and continued to strive for inclusion: ‘Initially, FEDO was small and focused on informal education and income-generation programmes. We began our work in the Lalitput district and held literacy classes for 50 elderly women. These were successful, so later we focused on formal education, health, sanitation, advocacy and awareness.’ FEDO now works in 50 districts in Nepal and has 50,000 members. Some 3,000 Dalit children were sent to school after FEDO’s school enrolment campaign. In addition, 50 Dalit health workers have been trained, 5,000 women have benefited from microfinance programmes, and 2,000 Dalit women’s groups have been established The current post-war situation in Nepal, as well as being a time of challenge, also represents an opportunity for the community. Following the 2006 Peace Agreement, political parties are currently formulating a new constitution for the country: She says “Up until now, in terms of participation and representation, there have been no Dalit women in positions of power. However, this is changing: 25 Dalit women have been elected as members of the Constituent Assembly and this is one my happiest achievements. The constitution-making process is a unique opportunity to ensure that the constitution will guarantee equality and, for the first time in Nepali history, Dalit women are represented in political processes.” Durga’s pride is palpable: ‘It’s taken 15 years, and it’s still early days, but FEDO has created an environment where Dalit women have started to see themselves as respectable citizens.’ Durga is also the past president of the Dalit NGO Federation (DNF), and from 1998 to May 2002, held the post of member secretary of the National Dalit Commission currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Movement Against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism- Japan (IMADR), co-chairs Asia Dalit Rights Forum (ADRF) and is a member of the executive group of International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN)

January 1st, 1969, Shyamala Gogu

This date represents the birth year of Shyamala Gogu : a Dalit feminist writer, poet, artist and activist in Telangana, India. She was born in Peddemul village in Ranga Reddy district, Telangana. Her father was an agriculturist and cultural artist who inherited one acre of land and managed to buy 8 more acres. Her two brothers were in bonded labor and she worked in vetti (unpaid) labor for the local landlord. Shyamala struggled to overcome social prejudice and poverty and with support from her family and completed her high school and pursued her education further. At school, she got involved in the Progressive Students Organization and later at college worked with several revolutionary leftist fronts. During this time, she became very disillusioned with the faithful replication of caste-based hierarchy within the ranks of these organizations. On realizing that, to some extent, these leftist fronts only disappeared the Dalit identity, without actually alleviating the unique socioeconomic ills that came with it, she began a journey to reclaim her own Dalit identity and actively began working within Dalit-specific movements. She has been deeply influenced by Russian and Chinese revolutionary stories and literature from international women’s' movements and by the autobiography of Savitri Bai Phule, Jyothiba Phule’s Slavery, and Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste. For Shyamala, being a Dalit feminist writer means that self-respect and women's assertion provides a framework to understand and question everything. She believes that the consciousness gained from struggles against caste discrimination is the basis of her own Dalit identity. Shyamala’s acclaimed works include: Nallapoddu: Dalitha Sthreela Sahityam 1921-2002, an Anthology of Dalit Women’s Writings in Telugu language from Andhra Pradesh during 1921-2002. Published in 2003. This text highlights discrimination against Dalits from Dalit womens’ point of view. She is also well known for Nallaregatisallu: Madiga Madiga Upakulala Aadolla Kathalu (Furrows in Black Soil: The Stories of Madiga and Madiga Subcaste Women) published in 2006 and her short stories for Children: Thataki, Madiga Badeyya published as Wada Pillala Kathalu (Dalit Children’s Stories) in 2008.

April 25th, 1969, I.M. Vijayan - Football Player

Inivalappil Mani Vijayan is one of the leading Indian football players of modern times. Vijayan started out as a seller of soda bottles in the Trichur Municipal Stadium, earning 10 paise (0.02 Cents) a bottle. Eventually he was chosen to play for the Kerala Police club and rose to become one of the top names in domestic football. A highly aggressive player, he eventually became the highest earner in Indian club football as well as a regular in the India team. Amongst his achievements in the game Vijayan was crowned Indian Player of the Year in 1992, 1997 and 1999. He also represented the victorious Indian team in the 1999 South Asian Football Federation Cup and scored the fastest international goal in history during the tournament, hitting the net against Bhutan after only 12 seconds. He also finished top scorer in the Afro-Asian Games event held in India in 2003 with four goals. Vijayan's talents attracted interest from clubs in Malaysia and Thailand, although he spent his entire career in India until retirement. Since retiring Vijayan has set a football academy to train young players in his home town. The unmatching story of Vijayan translated into celluloid in 1999. The film, Kalo Harin, was directed by Cherian Joseph. Other members of the team: A. N. Raveendra Das, N. P. Chandrasekharan (Script), N. P. Chandrasekharan (Lirics), K. Raghavan Master (Music) and P. J. Cherian (Cinimatography). This film finds the life of Vijayan as the struggle for existence and expression by a poor Dalit in mordern India. This film won the National Award and the John Abraham Award in 1999. It also attracted mass appeal in Kerala, the home state of Vijayan at that time. Even though a short non feature film, it was exhibited in local theaters through ticket selling. That was a new episode in the history of Malayalam Film Industry. And, the songs of this film, with their folk touch and Dalit vigour, also became hits then.

July 19th, 1969, Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Committee of Great Britain

The first of these diasporic associations was established by dalit immigrants to the United Kingdom. Punjabi immigrants to Wolverton in the English Midlands founded the Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Committee of Great Britain in 1969.141 Three years later in 1972, dalit immigrants established the Bheem Association – later renamed the Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society – in Bedford, England. The 1970s saw the launching of several Ambedkarite associations, including ones in Birmingham, Southhall, and East London.142 In 1985, the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organizations, U.K. (FABO UK) was founded to coordinate the activities of the associations within the U.K. and to advocate for dalits in India. The FABO UK began raising awareness of the conditions facing dalits in India at both the national and international levels, most notably during a series of events from 1989 to 1993 celebrating the birth centenary of Ambedkar. These organizations developed around the figure of Ambedkar, but while memorializing Ambedkar remained a focus of diasporic organizations, as FABO shows, these groups also began to advocate against caste discrimination in India and abroad.

October 2nd, 1969, Birthdate of Rajesh Saraiya

Rajesh Saraiya is an industrialist, and one of India's first Dalit millionaires. Born on 2nd October 1969, Rajesh Saraiya is CEO of the UK-based company Steel Mont, which has a turnover of about $400 million. He has completed an Aeronautical Engineering degree in Ukraine and later started a steel company there. He is active in Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industries. He received the Prawasi Bhartiya award by the President of India in 2012. Rajesh Saraiya has recently been announced as a Padmashree award recipient in 2014 -- a civilian honour for his contribution to industry and culture. He, along with his wife Kasturi Saraiya, have been instrumental in setting up an Indian Cultural center "Sanskriti" in Ukraine. He is first amongst Indians from CIS to receive this honor.

January 1st, 1971, Radhika Vemula

Radhika Vemula, born of Dalit parents, she was adopted by a Shudra couple when she was still a baby. Throughout her life, she experienced several confusing realities; as an adopted child in a non-Dalit home, as a spouse in a turbulent and inter-caste relationship and in her struggle to raise her three children with little support. She managed the economics of her household with tailoring, embroidery, construction and domestic work. There were dire times for the family when it was difficult to pull together three square meals a day. Radhika and the children all worked wage labour jobs on the side but she still encouraged them to come back after their work and read too. She was a mother determined to educate her children and sent all of them to college. Being bright children, they were all admitted into good schools. When both her sons were in college, she made the decision to further her own education. She began a Bachelors of Arts degree through a distance-learning programme offered by Sri Venkateshwara University. So while her children were students furthering themselves, she was too! The family was proud of their extremely intelligent older son Rohith Vemula on his admission into University of Hyderabad (uoH). They also finally experienced some financial breathing room when Rohith began receiving a monthly scholarship at his PhD programme. Radhika and the family were deeply shocked when they discovered that UoH, in association with right-wing Hindu political forces, had institutionally murdered their son and brother. In the hard days that followed, Radhika's deep sense of grief has been seen to be matched only by her incredible resilience and commitment to obtaining justice for her son. Rohith's death, had thrown her right in the eye of a storm. She has been protesting outside in the same location at UoH that Rohith had when he had been unfairly expelled by the administration. She has unflinchingly experienced police brutality along with the other student protesters. She bravely calls out Minister Smriti Irani as one of her son's murderers and refused Prime Minister Narendra Modis's fabricated sympathy. She stands tall, leading her other two children and all the other students fighting for justice at UoH. In a towering act of revolution, on the significant occasion of Babasaheb Ambedkar's 125th birth anniversary, she renounced Hinduism and embraced Buddhism. She affirms that she did so in order to honour the memory of her son and to escape the root of their oppression. In the face of the agonizing loss of her son, the defamation of their family, the breaches of her privacy, the continuous harassment she faces - there is one thing that is clear. Radhika Vemula is never a victim. She is a warrior obliterating every injustice on her path.

April 1st, 1972, Dalit Panthers is Founded

The Dalit Panthers was a social organization founded by Namdeo Dhasal, Raja Dhale, and Arun Kamble in April 1972 in Mumbai. Formed in the state of Maharashtra in the 1970s, they ideologically aligned themselves to the Black Panther movement in the United States.( Read More.....)

January 28th, 1976, Death of Bhikku Jagdish Kashyap

Bhikkhu Jagdish Kashyap was born in 1908 in Ranchi, Bihar (now Jharkhand), India. His birth name was Jagdish Narain, and the name Kashyap was given to him at his bhikkhu ordination in 1933.MA in Sanskrit from Banares Hindu University in 1932. After finishing his MA in Sanskrit from Banares Hindu University in 1932, Bhikkhu Kashyap, desiring to doctoral work in Buddhist philosophy, was advised to study Pāli, and so resolved to go to Sri Lanka. On return to Sarnath, India, he worked for Benares Hindu University to offer courses in Pāli - even occasionally walking the 22 mile journey into Varanasi from Sarnat to officials to start these courses and even taught them from free. During this time Bhikkhu Kashyap took on a young English monk as a student who Later became popular as Sangharakshita and went on to found the Western Buddhist Order (Trailokya Boudh Maha Sangha) in 1968. Kashyap had confided in Sangharakshita who has been quoted.“As he had already confided to me, he was there very much on sufferance. Dominated as it was by orthodox brahmins, the University had not wanted to have a Professor of Pali and Buddhist Philosophy at all, and Kashyap-ji’s appointment had been due to the insistence of the multimillionaire philanthropist Jugal Kishore Birla, a benefactor whose wishes the University could not afford to ignore. But though the University had been forced to appoint a Professor of Pali and Buddhist Philosophy it was not obliged to supply him with pupils. In fact it made it as difficult as possible for him to get any. Under University regulations, no one could take Pali without also taking Sanskrit. In other words Pali and Buddhist Philosophy were actively not allowed to become alternatives to Sanskrit and Hindu Philosophy. One could take Sanskrit and Pali, or only Sanskrit, but under no circumstances could one take only Pali. So effectively did these tactics limit the number of Kashyap-ji’s students that he never had more than three or four, sometimes none at all. For someone as devoted to his subject as he was this was a bitter disappointment. He had accepted the professorship only because he hoped it would enable him to make some contribution to the advancement of Buddhist studies and thus, indirectly, to the cause of Buddhism; but as it became more obvious every year that Pali and Buddhist Philosophy were unwelcome guests at the Benares Hindu University, he had come to the conclusion that he was wasting his time there and he was now thinking of resigning. ”He spent his life translating works from Pali, involved in Ambedkarite movements and spreading the Dhamma to Dalits in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

June 1st, 1977, Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (DSS)

Karnataka Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (DSS) came into existence in June 1977, though it was registered in the year 1974-75. DSS developed and emerged as a grassroots organization when land and caste was a major problem amongst an air of socialist ideologies, Ambedkarite ideologies and Marxist ideologies. They were an academic and an activist group who’s primary issues revolved around People's needs and reservation. Most of the DSS leaders came from a cultural and literary movement. Sri. Devanoor Mahdeva, Prof. Siddalingaiah, Devaiah Harave, Prof. B. Krishnappa. K. Ramaiah, Indudhara Honnapura, Manchaiah, Govindaiah and others played a very important role in the inception. The formative goals of DSS were to 1. Believe in constitutional agitation and non-violence. 2. Establish casteless and classless society. 3. Avoid concentration of wealth. 4. Emancipation of Dalits from cultural, social and economic inequalities. 5. Oppose communalism. 6. Establish a just society based on liberty, equality and fraternity. 7. Carry out self-respect movement. 8. Respect the dignity of women.9. Work for the cause of labour. The Dalit Sangharsha Samiti in Karnataka protested and organized people and have in the forefront of Karnataka politics. They have protested against the naked procession of Dalit Devotees (Bettale Seve) at Chinchansoor, fought against Untouchability in Alaguda village of Bidar District, protested the Inaction of the Police, Anti-Reservationism, police brutality fought for the Hostel Facilities for the Dalit Students, Struggled for the Proper Implementation of Land Reforms and to date continue to be a powerhouse of organizing people and politics in Karnataka.

January 1st, 1978, Marichjhanpi Massacre

We defiantly tell the genocide of Dalits at Marichjhapi in West Bengal. The events involved The Namashudras, Who at that time were a politically powerful Dalit community. It was Because of the Namashudras, under the leadership of Jogendranath Mandal, that ensured the election of Dr.Ambedkar from the Bengal province to the Constituent Assembly. Their firm allyship with the Muslims formed a vote-bloc that deeply threatened the Hindu upper-caste opposition in Bengal. After partition their Power was threatened for their Ancestral home was in East Bengal and in the newly formed Pakistan many were pressured to Leave. In the face of increasing religious violence Many sold everything they had to escape into West Bengal. However Once in India, the State of West Bengal controlled by Upper caste Communists shuttled the Namashudras into deplorable state work camps.The Namashudras protested, organized and 30,000 of these refugees reached a compromise resettlement area in Marichjhapi in the Sundarbans, a marshy mangrove forest. Over the course of a couple of months they finally re-established a viable beginning to a thriving community. This was when the real violence began. The Communist and Upper caste State forces of Bengal, under the guise of protecting the local tiger population, sent in forces who began encircling the island, tear-gassing villages, burning down huts, sinking boats, and destroying fisheries, wells and farms. Scholars Estimate Thousands were Murdered, Tortured, and RapeD and yet there are no records because of the complete blackout of Media Coverage. Survivors However, report the indiscriminate dumping of Masses of dead bodies in tiger territories to be eaten and into the rivers until the smells were unbearable and the entire ecosystem was destroyed. The press, upper-caste Bengali academics, and the communist governments of Bengal continue to shroud the massacres at Marichjhapi in darkness. The Government Officials involved have never been reported to the international courts. police and state perpetrators have been retained and promoted. But the survivors Will not be silenced. They assert the killings amount to nothing less than genocide of the Namashudra community.

January 26th, 1978, Sunil Abhiman Awachar: An inimitable voice in Dalit poetry and painting

Dr. Sunil Abhiman Awachar is well known as a poet and painter, also an assistant professor with the Department of Marathi in University of Mumbai. Meanwhile, he is full time activist in dalit human rights movement. He has published four anthologies of poetry, all in Marathi, that include ‘Global vartamanachya kavita (2008)’ ‘Mi mahasattechya darashi katora gheun ubha rahanaar nahi,’ ‘Bravo! Fox minds of capitalist’ and ‘Poems of the occupied everything’. One of the anthologies of his poems has translated into English as ‘Our world is not for sale’. His poems voice out political statements which demand the social justice. And the language of his poems is the unique blend of local languages in India which are being obscure from people’s imagination: Mahari, Gondi and Banjara. He is also in a pursuit to reinforce and recreate the imaginary in these languages. Sunil’s uniqueness of Art lies in his pre-occupied empiricism of dalit lives that reflects in his poetry as well paintings. Hails from a small village of vidarbha, the region infamous for most numbers of farmer suicides and dalit atrocities like Khairlanji, his artistic is difficult to theorise into any available principles of aesthetic. The subjects of his poems are post-modernists, the characters and themes of his paintings are people who are neglected into consensus as well government’s welfare schemes. Having created discipline of his own, his poems pose a great challenge and argue with oppressor, questions the system of caste in which he states: Those who morphed human being/ For ‘Bread’ into a pet dog/ I will call them criminals of mankind/ I think / Instead of becoming Master’s dog/ Why not have war for the/ Free distribution of ‘Bread’?

April 14th, 1978, Atrocities Against Jatvas

The organization protested the Indian government’s handling of upper caste violence against Jatvas, a Dalit community in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. As part of their celebration of Ambedkar’s birthday, Jatvas in Agra held a parade in which an elephant – an animal associated with the high caste and kings – carried a portrait of Ambedkar. As the parade marched through high caste neighborhoods on April 14, 1978, its participants were hit with stones and bricks. Jatvas retaliated, causing damage to a few small shops. Following the initial clash, leaders of the Jatvas scheduled a silent and peaceful march to protest the insult that had been done to Ambedkar. Another violent clash with members of the police and upper caste ensued, and over the course of the next few days, 303 Jatvas protesters were incarcerated. 143 After a two-week conflagration, the Indian army had to be called in to restore calm. VISION mobilized dalits from across the U.S. and Canada to protest the Indian state’s management of the ordeal. (PURVA MEHTAS THESIS)

June 1st, 1978, VISION founded by Dr. Shobha Singh in the United States

The first association in the United States, Volunteers in the Service of India’s Oppressed and neglected (VISION), was founded in the early 1970s in New York City by Dr. Shobha Singh. Singh was an immigrant from New Delhi who had graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1957 with a Ph.D. in Physics and went on to build an illustrious career at AT&T Bell Laboratories. VISION organized its first demonstration with dalits from across the U.S. and Canada in June, 1978. The demonstration was outside of the United Nations and was planned to coincide with Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s address to the General Assembly for the Special Session on Disarmament. The organization was protesting the Indian government’s handling of upper caste violence against Jatvas, a dalit community in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. As part of their celebration of Ambedkar’s birthday, Jatvas in Agra held a parade in which an elephant – an animal associated with the high caste and kings – carried a portrait of Ambedkar.

August 1st, 1978, National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Established

The first Commission for SCs and STs was set up in August 1978 with Shri Bhola Paswan Shastri as chairman and other four Members. In 1990, The Commission for SCs and STs was renamed as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, a National Level Advisory Body, set up to advise the Government on broad policy issues and levels of development of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The first Commission was constituted in 1992 with Shri S.H. Ramdhan as chairman. The second Commission was constituted in October 1995 with Shri H. Hanumanthappa as chairman. The third Commission was constituted in December 1998 with Shri Dileep Singh Bhuria as the chairman. The fourth Commission was constituted in March 2002 with Dr. Bizay Sonkar Shastri as the Chairperson. Consequent upon the Constitution (Eighty-Ninth Amendment) Act, 2003 the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes has been replaced by (1) National Commission for Scheduled Castes and (2) National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. National Commission for Scheduled Castes: The first National Commission for Scheduled Castes was constituted on 2004 with Suraj Bhan as the Chairperson. The Second National Commission for Scheduled Castes in series was constituted on May 2007 with Buta Singh as the Chairperson. The Third National Commission for Scheduled Castes has been constituted on October 2010 with P.L.Punia as the Chairperson.

November 7th, 1978, Ambedkar Memorial Mission Founded in Canada

In Canada, the Ambedkar Memorial Mission was founded in Vancouver in 1978, but moved to Toronto the next year and was renamed the Ambedkar Mission. VISION and the Ambedkar Mission, together with the assistance of Chennai-based Dalit Liberation Education Trust, successfully persuaded the London-based human rights organization Minority Rights Group to create a working group on untouchability.144 The organization assisted in a conference in 1983 titled “Minority Strategies: Comparative Perspectives on Racism and Untouchability” which was hosted by the City University of New York and Columbia University’s Southern Asian Institute. Papers from the conference were later published as a book, Untouchable! Voices from the Dalit Liberation Movement. 145 A follow-up conference in India was planned, but blocked by the Indian state, which refused to grant visas to the American organizers of the conference.146 In the years that followed, diasporic groups expanded their outreach and helped lay the foundation for a transnational advocacy movement for dalit rights.

December 6th, 1978, BAMCEF Founded

The All India Backward (SC, ST, OBC) And Minority Communities Employees' Federation, known as BAMCEF, is an organization of employees from Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Religious Minority Communities (Muslims, Buddhist, Jain, Sikhs, etc.) in India. The BAMCEF association was launched in 1971, and became a federation in 1973. Mr. Kanshiram collaborated with colleagues Mr. D. K. Khaparde, Ram Khobragade, C.P Thorat, Namdevo Kamble, Mahonar and others to build the initiative. After five years rigorous fieldwork all over India, the "Birth of BAMCEF Convention" was held in Delhi in 1978. The organization was then officially launched as a "Federation" on 6 December 1978 on the anniversary of the death of Dr. Babasaheb B. R. Ambedkar, the Architect of the Indian Constitution.

January 1st, 1979, Mandal Commission Established

The decision of the Janata Party Government with Mr. Morarji Desai as PM to set up a second backward classes commission was made official by the President on January 1, 1979. The commission popularly known as the Mandal Commission, its chairman being B. P. Mandal. The Commission's final report was submitted in December 1980, and has generated a furious controversy. The groups attacked the Mandal Commission for adopting caste as the criteria for determining social and educational backwardness, but this charge is ill-founded. The Commission, after a thorough scientific investigation and the help of experts from various disciplines, has identified 11 indicators to determine social backwardness. These indicators are social, educational and economic, The 11 indicators and actual criteria used by the commission are: SOCIAL: Castes/classes considered as socially backward by others. Castes/classes which mainly depend on manual labour for their livelihood. Castes/classes where the percentage of married women below 17 is 25% above the state average in rural areas and 10% in urban areas; and that of married men is 10% and 5% above the state average in rural and urban areas respectively. Castes/classes where participation of females in work is at least 25% above the state average. EDUCATIONAL: Castes/classes where the number of children in the age group of 5 to 15 years who never attended school is at least 25% above the state average. Castes/classes where the rate of student drop-out in the age group of 5-15 years is at least 25% above the state average. Castes/classes amongst whom the proportion of matriculates is at least 25% below the state average ECONOMIC: Castes/classes where the average value of family assets is at least 25% below the state average. Castes/classes where the number of families living in kachcha houses is at least 25 % above the state average. Castes/classes where the source of drinking water is beyond half a kilometer for more than 50% of the households. Castes/classes where the number of the house-holds having taken a consumption loan is at least 25% above the state average.

April 1st, 1981, “Towards a Shudra Theology” Shakes the Church

The event that if said to have originated the strand of Dalit theology is Arvind P. Nirmal’s address entitled “Towards a Shudra Theology” to the Carey Society of the United Theological College, Bangalore, in April 1981. It was a clarion call to the Dalits, to shun theological passivity and to reformulate authentic theological reflection through Dalit category. Though Nirmal didn’t use the term Dalit in his address, it provided a strong foundation for the Dalit Theology. It marked a clear shift in the direction of Indian Christian theology in the line of Dalit theology that he postulated was not simply gaining of the rights, the reservations or privileges, but the realization of the “image of God” as a Dalit. In other words, nothing less than liberation from the status of untouchables to elevation to the status of the children of God.

January 1st, 1982, The Twice-Alienated: Culture of Dalit Christians - Kothapalli Wilson

Kothapalli Wilson’s work, The Twice-Alienated: Culture of Dalit Christians, marked a clear shift in the direction of Indian Christian theology in the line of Dalit theology. He was the first to use the term Dalit in conjunction with theology. Wilson was especially critical of the ‘salvation theology’ of the Christian missions which he argued promoted ‘psychological dependency, political passivity and communal exclusiveness among Dalit Christians’. Calling Christianity a culturally renascent movement committed to humanization, Wilson called for a shift from its supernatural and heavenly concern to involvement in humanizing struggles. Though Wilson did not construct a Dalit theology, his critic of the salvation theological model of the existing theologies from a Dalit liberative perspective is very relevant for Dalit theologians.

April 16th, 1982, Bhagwan Gawai Becomes Chairman and Managing Director for Saurabh Energy DMCC

Bhagwan Gawai becomes chairman and managing director for Saurabh Energy DMCC.

August 31st, 1982, Dr. Berwa Testifies on Dalit Human Rights at the UN

Dr. Laxmi Berwa testified to the UN Sub-commission on Human Rights. He began his speech thus: "Today is a big day in the history of millions of Untouchables, when their concern is raised in a world body like the United Nations Human Rights Sub-commission. Many of you who are not familiar with the Indian caste system must be wondering who these Untouchables are. As one of them I would like to tell you what it is like to be an Untouchable in India." The Indian official in Geneva reminded Dr Berwa and the UN that 'it is an internal matter'. The then prime minister, Indira Gandhi, told Berwa's US-based organisation (VISION - Volunteers in Service to India's Oppressed and Neglected) that "It does not help for those who are living in affluence abroad to comment on situations about which they have no knowledge". (qtd. in "Untouchable! Voices of the Dalit Liberation Movement Joshi, 137) (Editorial, Indian Express, 7 October, 1982)

April 14th, 1984, Bahujan Samaj Party Founded

The ideology of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is "Social Transformation and Economic Emancipation" of the "Bahujan Samaj", which is comprised of the Scheduled Castes (SCs), the Scheduled Tribes (STs), the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Religious Minorities such as Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Buddhists. These people groups accounts for over 85 percent of the country's total population. Manyawar Kanshi Ram Ji founded the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), with the help of his associates, on April 14, 1984. For many years while he enjoyed good health, he prepared the "Bahujan Samaj" to secure the "master key" of political power, which opens all the avenues for social and economic development. However, being a diabetic and host of other serious ailments, his health did not permit him to lead an active political life for too long. On December 15, 2001, Manyawar Kanshi Ram Ji, while addressing a mammoth rally of the BSP at the Lakshman Mela Ground in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh on the banks of the river Gomti, declared Kumari (Miss) Mayawati Ji, then the lone Vice-President of the Party, as his only political heir and successor.( Read More.....)

December 1st, 1985, Pro-Reservation Rally

DECEMBER 1, 1985: The Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF), Dalit Shoshit Sangharsh Samiti (DS-4) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) mobilized a pro-reservation movement to counter the challenges of upper-caste anti-reservation agitations. In the preceding years, prominent anti-reservation agitations had occurred in the states of Maharashtra (in connection with anti-Namantar agitations), Gujarat and Bihar. The BAMCEF, DS-4 and BSP held symposiums and rallies across India, as well as a three week demonstration in Delhi during the winter session of parliament. A nation-wide movement was considered necessary because the first three decades of the Indian state had been characterized by the systematic undermining of the reservation policy.

February 5th, 1988, Dalit Demonstration in Support of "Riddles in Hinduism"

With the death centenary of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and the birth centenary of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar due in 1990-91, the state government of Maharashtra had begun the project of publishing the complete works of both. As part of this project, in October 1987, it brought out a volume that contained Dr. Ambedkar's hitherto unpublished work, "Riddles in Hinduism" (volume no 4). In this, he made a rational and dispassionate analysis, from the standpoint of social justice, of the life stories of Hindu deities. The work also had a section (appendix 1) which was called "the Riddle of Ram and Krishna". The Shiv Sena party in Maharashtra pounced on "Riddles", branded it as an intolerable insult to Hindu religion and Hindu deities and demanded a ban on its publication. It held a huge demonstration in Mumbai on 15 January 1988 and began disturbances all over the state, abusing Dr. Ambedkar and widening caste-communal divisions. It was only after an even larger counter-demonstration by all Dalit groups that was led by Prakash Ambedkar (grandson of Dr. Ambedkar) on 5 February 1988 that the publication could further proceed with a note from Government that it does not concur with the views expressed in the chapter on Ram and Krishna.

January 30th, 1989, Rohith Vemula

ROHITH VEMULA was a research scholar at the University of Hyderabad (UoH). In Life he inspired through his activism and in the wake of his institutional murder has now come to symbolize Dalit Bahujan and adivasi revolution in India. Rohith and 4 other students of the Ambedkar Student Association (ASA) were suspended after a state-influenced and biased hearing by the administration that was set-up to investigate clashes between ASA and the right-wing student group Ahkil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). The ABVP members with their deep connections to political heads in the state were able to snake their grievances up to high level offices. Acting under state influence, from none less than the head of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), Smriti Irani herself, Vice Chancellor (VC), Dr.Appa Rao Podile, meted out harsh suspensions to Rohith and 4 other ASA students - all Dalit. The terms of the suspension included blocked access to hostels, facilities and fellowships. In protest, Rohith and his friends camped outside the hostel in an area they termed “Velivada” (Dalit ghetto). At the time of Rohith’s death he had been denied over 6 months of fellowship, had been suffered outside in the middle of winter, and faced huge academic and personal losses. Rohith was driven to suicide in January 2016. He left behind a poignant suicide note that proclaimed his love for science, the stars and nature. He wrote, “The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of stardust.” The loss of a brilliant, sensitive young Dalit man , shocked and enraged the campus, the nation and the world. Students and citizens broke in protest! They called #JusticeforRohith in their slogans and highlighted the fact that marginalized students experience so much casteism in campus that 80% student suicides all over the nation are Dalit or Adivasi. Protesters, including, Rohith’s mother, Radhika Vemula, called for the enacting of a Rohith Act to protect marginalized students on campus. Their voices resulted in the arrest of Vice Chancellor Appa Rao. However, the struggle is ongoing as the Appa Rao, who was arrested under the non-bailable SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act has freely returned to campus less than 2 months after Rohith’s passing. Peacefully protesting students at UoH were then subjected to extreme police brutality. We honor the spirit of Rohith Vemula, our revolutionary brother. We raise our fists in a show of solidarity for all marginalized students’ in their ongoing fight and salute the spirit of Radhika Vemula, the strong Dalit mother, who is continuing to fight for justice for her son. #JUSTICE FOR ROHITH

September 11th, 1989, The SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act

The SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act was enacted on 11th September 1989 with stringent provisions that extend to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The purpose of this act was to help the social inclusion of Dalits into an Indian society and deem untouchability illegal with punishment provided for such offenses.( Read More.....)

November 29th, 1989, Yuvraj Walmiki - Representing Indian Hockey

Yuvaraj Balmiki is an Indian professional field hockey player from Maharashtra. He was a member of 2011 Asian Men's Hockey Champions Trophy winning Indian team. Yuvraj was born to a Balmiki family originally from Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh. He spent his childhood in the Mumbai slums. Yuvraj Walmiki could not be a part of the Indian team at the 2012 London Olympics after incurring an injury during the qualifying tournament. He has been playing in the second division German league for the club TG Frankenthal since 2010, emerging as the top scorer during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.In the auction of the inaugural Hockey India League, Walmiki was bought by the Delhi franchise for USD 18,500 with his base price being USD 9,250. The Delhi team was named Delhi Waveriders.

January 1st, 1990, Pasmanda Movements of the 90s and Beyond

We bring to forefront a contemporary anti-caste struggle of Dalitbahujan Muslims in India –the Pasmanda Movement. “Pasmanda” is a Persian term meaning “oppressed” in and encompasses those who make up more than 80% of the total Muslim population in India – Dalit and backward castes Muslims. The Pasmanda ideology first took shape as a social movement in the 1990s in the state of Bihar. It challenged the authenticity of a monolithic Muslim identity in India by underscoring the existence of three Muslim caste-groups; Ashraf (upper castes), Ajlaf (middle castes) and Arzal (lower castes). It asserted that although Islam does not recognize hierarchy based on birth, in practice, caste has persisted within these communities for centuries. The realities of the low caste Muslims like Julahas (weavers) and Lalbegi (scavengers), existence of caste-based endogamy and the Ashraf domination in Muslim religious forums and leadership were beginning to be seen as unacceptable. Pasmandas demanded the political space, discourse and power that had been historically denied to them. With the formation of two key organizations; the All-India United Muslim Morcha in 1993 and then the All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz in 1998, the Pasmanda movement was ready to break Ashraf hegemony. The main goal of these organizations was the constitutional recognition of affirmative action for Pasmanda communities . Under the Government of India Act of 1935, a list or schedule was drawn up of castes that were recognized as extremely backward. These castes had both Hindu as well as Muslim members and provisions were made for their collective socioeconomic upliftment. However, in 1950 a presidential order was passed according to which these special benefits would be available only to those Scheduled Castes who professed to be Hindu. With one stroke of the pen, non-Hindu Scheduled Castes were henceforth denied the benefits that the 1935 Government of India act had provided for them. The work done by the Pasmanda movement has quickly spread from Bihar and has so far convinced the assemblies of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh have all passed resolution supporting the demand for inclusion of Christian and Muslim Dalits among Scheduled Castes. Although anti-caste struggles are not new to the Muslim communities in India, the Pasmanda movement is working with a rapidly shifting political landscape. Its has expanded its resolutions from affirmative action advocacy to forming socio-political alliances with other Bahujan communities as well as extending support to labor and strengthening the policy framework for Pasmanda women.

May 21st, 1990, 65th Amendment Act Includes Dalit Buddhists in Scheduled Caste Order

The Constitution of India guaranteed rights to representation in legislatures, higher education and public employment for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. However, the Constitutional Order 1950 restricted the definition of the category Scheduled Castes to individuals belonging to Hindu or Sikh religious communities. In this way, Dalits undertaking religious conversion were excluded from the category of Scheduled Caste and denied access to reservation quotas. The removal of this restriction was a key issue around which the Republican Party of India mobilized. After decades of struggle, Dalit Buddhists were recognized as Scheduled Caste. This achievement coincided with the birth centenary of Dr. Ambedkar.

August 7th, 1990, Government of India Reserves Posts for OBCs

National Front Government (Government of India) decided to reserve 27 percent posts for Other Backward Classes under the Central Government and public undertakings. The decision was based on Mandal Commission report. The then Prime Minister of India, V P Singh, stated in both the Houses of Parliament: ‘I am happy to announce in this August House a momentous decision of social justice that my government has taken regarding the socially an educationally backward classes on the basis of the Mandal Commission report. Members are aware that the Constitution which we gave to ourselves 40 years ago envisages that socially and educationally backward classes be identified, their difficulties removed and their conditions improved in terms of Article 340(1) read with Article 14(4) as well as Article 16(4). It is a negation of the basic structure of our Constitution that till now this requirement was not fulfilled. The Second Backward Classes Commission under the chairmanship of B P Mandal which was appointed on 1 January 1979, submitted its report on 31 December 1980. In accordance with our commitment before the people we included this in our Action Plan. After examining various aspects of it, I am glad to announce that my government has taken the following decisions on the Mandal Commission’s Report. In order to avail ourselves of the benefit of the long experience of a number of States in preparing lists of socially and educationally backward classes and in order to ensure harmonious and quick implementation, we have decided to adopt, in the first phase, the cases common to both the Mandal list as well as the State lists. The percentage of reservation for the socially and educationally backward classes will be 27 percent. This reservation will be applicable to services under the Government of India and public undertakings.’ The Prime Minister further said: ‘Members are aware that on 14 April at the official function organized to celebrate the birthday of Bharat Ratna Baba Saheb B R Ambedkar at the Ambedkar Stadium, I announced the commencement of the Ambedkar Centenary Year and designated it as the ‘Year of Social Justice’. We have taken a number of measures of social justice pertaining to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and other weaker sections like removal of injustice done to neo-Buddhists, vesting of Constitutional status and substantial powers in the National Commission for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, according due but long delayed honours to Ambedkar, and so on. The present decisions are in the same line and belong the tradition of this government’s dedication to the cause of the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, socially and educationally backward classes and other weaker sections’. [1] E.V. Ramasami, Periyar, Word of Freedom, Ideas of a Nation book, pg 21 - 25[2] D C Ahir, The legacy of Dr. Ambedkar (Bharat Ratna), book p 61[3] Shriram Mahaeshwari, The Mandal Commission and Mandalisation: A Critique book. Pg 18, 27 - 29

August 6th 1991, Tsunder Massacre

Reddys caught the fleeing Dalits, beat them with iron rods, and killed them with daggers and axes. They then packed some of the bodies in gunny bags and dumped them in the Tungabhadra drain and irrigation canal. The final tally of deaths could not be clearly ascertained immediately, as most of the bodies were thrown in the canal, but at least eight Dalits are murdered in the heinous manner and many more injured in what could be described as an unparalled case of brutality.’ (Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee, 1991)

April 1st 1992, Home Ownership for Tea Plantation Tamils

Thousands of tea plantation workers hoped to become home owners for the first time in their history. The promise of ownership was given by the CWC, which is backing the government's June privatization initiative of the state-owned estates. To immigrant Indian laborers, for generations home was just the linerooms, built in one long line, where whole families were crowded into one single room. Of the nearly 1 million plantation laborers, an estimated 700,000 are members of the Ceylon Workers' Congress. The tea industry has been hit by a severe drought, leading to a 30% decrease in production.

January 1st, 1994, Feminist Dalit Organization - Nepal , FEDO

The Feminist Dalit Organization (FEDO) was founded in 1994 by a group of courageous and conscious Dalit women working for Dalit women’s rights and their empowerment in different spheres. It is headed by its founding President Durga Sob, who has been a life-long advocate for Dalit rights and co-chairs the Asia Dalit Rights Forum. Since its inception, FEDO has been able to achieve significant impact for improving the lives and representation of Dalit women in the state mechanism. Initially, it was small and focused on informal education and income-generation programmes. They began their work in Lalitput district and held literacy classes for 50 elderly women. These were successful, and eventually introduced new programmes focused on formal education, health, sanitation, advocacy and awareness. FEDO is now a full-fledged internationally-acclaimed NGO operational in 56 districts with the network of over 50,000 Dalit women organized into 2000 Dalit women groups. They take a participatory approach to development, and their programs assess the needs of local communities in in order to increase the community members' ownership of the project. FEDO has rigorously pressured the Government of Nepal to recognize Dalit issues as important issues whose solutions need to be incorporated in both policy and practice. FEDO spearheaded the lobbying and advocacy for the election of 25 Dalit women who were the first Dalit women to get elected to the Nepalese Constituent Assembly. They continue to help Dalit women get elected to Village Development Committees, School Management Committees, and Forest User Groups. FEDO is currently strongly pushing for the inclusion of fair rights and protections in the future Constitution of Nepal. FEDO has been awarded the "Tulashi Mehar Samaj Sewa" prize by the Social Welfare Council for the best Nepalese NGO. The FEDO charter states: “ Dalits make up 13-20% of the total population of Nepal and Dalit women who make up half of that have been socially humiliated, devoid of economic access, deprived of education and are without political representation for generations. Therefore, Dalit women continue to be exploited by the traditional feudalistic state. Realizing these facts, we appeal that during the restructuring of the state, representation of Dalit women be guaranteed in all bodies of the state, for social justice, to guarantee the rights of women, for ending impunity and for proportional representation of Dalit women in the state structure. We also declare that our struggle will continue until our demands are met.”

January 14th, 1994, Namantar Din

Namantar means name change and andolan means social movement. The Namantar Andolan was a 16-year-long Dalit campaign to rename Marathwada University in recognition of B. R. Ambedkar (27 July 1978 - 14 January 1994). On 14 January each year, the followers of Ambedkar throng the university. This day is celebrated by political parties and organizations that are based on Ambedkar’s thinking. Many people visit the university to celebrate the Namvistar Din, so political parties arrange their rallies traditionally. The University building and gate is decorated with lights. Many people visit the Buddhist caves on this occasion. Women greet each other by applying Nil (Indigo colour powder). This day is celebrated in other educational institutes other than Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University as well.

June 7th, 1994, Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi (MRPS) Formed

In the history Scheduled Castes for social justice in India, the Madiga Movement has a long legacy. This movement became dynamic when Manda Krishna Madiga started Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi (Organisation to Fight for Madiga Reservation). MRPS is the only organisation in India's history to be conceived for the liberation of a single caste called the Madigas, a caste mostly from Andhra Pradesh. Along with Malas, the Madigas form the largest segment of what is considered to be the Dalit castes of Andhra. They are also found in north India, known as Chamars in Hindus and Ravidas or Raidas in Sikhs. Now with modern society and “affirmative action" the Madigas are rising rapidly, though not to the extent some other scheduled castes are. This has led to a curious rivalry between the scheduled castes' communities for government benefits. The 95 lakh SC population in the State of Andhra Pradesh is divided into as many as 59 castes, with the Madigas forming 47 percent and the Malas 36 percent. However, the benefits of reservation in the past five decades have gone largely in favour of the Malas. Historical factors are responsible for the overwhelming development of the Malas: they are largely concentrated in the previously British-ruled coastal districts, and benefited from the Christian missionaries who reached the area about 250 years ago. These missions raised their educational standards, leading to development in the fields of education and employment. The Malas competed with the upper castes in all spheres, be it employment or politics; and it was but natural that they could edge out other weaker SC castes in job quotas. On the other hand, the Madigas are largely confined to drought-prone Telangana and Rayalaseema, and were no match for the Malas in literacy level or political participation, and were left behind even in the race for the benefits of reservation. The Madigas continue to suffer: “while the Malas were trying to compete with the developed Kammas and Reddys, the Madigas were not even in a position to compete with the Malas.” The MRPS, formed with a sizable section of former Naxalites in 1994, decided to mount pressure on the Government until its demands were met, taking the concept of social justice to its logical end. MRPS was established in the Eedumudi village of Naguluppdu Mandalam of Prakasham District in Andhra Pradesh, on 7th June 1994 - incidentally on the birth day of Sri Manda Krishna Madiga. About 20 youth of the Madiga community joined together at 8.00 P.M. and took an oath to work for the betterment of the Madigas, and to request the Government to attain the benefits provided to the Madigas. MRPS has become a Self-respect Moment of the Madigas, and its founder, Sri Manda Krishna Madiga, has become the champion of the Madigas; he pulls the people more than any leader in the State of Andhra Pradesh. The Madigas are two and half crore populations in South India, and Sri Manda Krishna Madiga says that the SC reservation is to be sub-categorised in order to make available the fruits of reservations for all those who are included in the list of Scheduled Castes. In order to spread the aim and goal of MRPS, the committee members initially toured the whole district of Ongole and formed the distinct committees.

August 25th, 1994, First MRPS Meeting

The first meeting in Ongole was conducted on 25th August 1994 with five thousand people. Subsequently the MRPS conducted a series of meeting covering the major towns of Andhra Pradesh.

September 16th, 1994, Dalit Welfare Organisation Established

The Dalit Welfare Organisation (DWO), established in 1994 and registered in the office of District Administration in Kathmandu on 16 September 1994, is a member-based, movement-oriented non government organisation (NGO) of Dalit activists and is one of the largest Dalit human rights NGOs in Nepal. DWO is working to eliminate caste based discrimination and untouchability in Nepal through two principle approaches: through media advocacy and through its development programme.

January 1st, 1995, People's Watch India Founded

People's Watch is an Indian Human Rights NGO founded by a group of social activists in 1995 and is based in Madurai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Mr. Henri Tiphagne is the founder and executive director. From 1995-98, People's Watch (A Program Unit of the Centre for Promotion of Social Concerns) concentrated its activities on monitoring of human rights violations. This was the mandate of its governing body and the Program Advisory Board, however, it was soon realized that monitoring alone was insufficient. In 1998, People's Watch began legal intervention on behalf of victims, and by 2000, this work had grown and more field monitoring associates were hired at both zonal and regional levels. By 2001, People's Watch was working in 11 areas of Tamil Nadu. Soon after, the need to launch a full-fledged Campaign for Human Rights became clear, and this was followed soon afterward by the realization that victim rehabilitation was also essential. Monitoring, intervention and even winning compensation from the courts was not enough for those who had survived torture, abuse and imprisonment. They desperately needed medical, psychological and vocational help as well. Preceding the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education, People's Watch began a vigorous training and education program.

May 31st, 1995, MRPS Rally Ongole

A rally and public meeting of approximately 70,000 people was conducted in Ongole town. The first meeting of the MRPS was conducted on 31st May 1995 in Ongole town. The President of the MRPS, Manda Krishna Madiga was the Chief Speaker, and Sri P. Krupakar Madiga, President of the MRPS unit, Ongole District presided over the meeting.

September 28th, 1995, MRPS Rally Visakhapatnam

Rally and public meeting of 40,000 people

January 6th, 1996, Privatization of Tea and Rubber Estates

The government was proceeding with its program to privatize the country's tea and rubber estates. The Ceylon Workers' Congress (CWC) was threatening to launch a strike to press for changes in the program's wage structure.

July 11th, 1996, Ranvir Sena Slaughters Dalits in Bathani Tola

21 Dalits were slaughtered by the Ranvir Sena in Bathani Tola, Bhojpur in Bihar in 11 July 1996. Among the dead were 11 women, six children and three infants. Ranvir Sena mob killed Women and Children in particular as per the design so as to demolish any future resistance which they foresaw. On 17 April 2012, the Patna High Court acquitted 23 men convicted of the murders. A Division Bench of judges Navneeti Prasad Singh and Ashwani Kumar Singh cited “defective evidence” to acquit all of them. The next day, the Bihar State SC/ST Welfare Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi stated that the NDA-led Govt (under Nitish Kumar) has decided to move to Supreme court challenging the Patna HC Order.

January 1st, 1997, Dalit Murasu was Started

It was the birth centenary celebrations of Dr B R Ambedkar in the year 1991 that gave hope of a resurgence of the Dalit liberation struggle. The decade 1990-2000 witnessed a great resurgence in Dalit literature and art. In the final years of that decade Dalit Murasu, a magazine exclusively for Dalits, came out. Dalit Murasu, was started by Punitha Pandiyan, a Dalit activist turned journalist, in 1997. For 16 years it acted as a mouthpiece for Dalits.After its arrival, mainstream magazines in Tamil Nadu started to provide space for Dalit writing and ideology in field reporting, works of fiction and non-fiction. Due to a financial crisis the magazine was suspended in April 2012 but, almost a year later, is to be published from May 2013. It was the only magazine that spoke for Dalits after Oru Paisa Thamizhan, published by Pandit Iyothee Thas, a renowned Dalit activist of the 1880’s.

June 6th, 1997, MRPS Second Rally in Hyderabad

In Hyderabad, 10 Lakhs people rally and hold public meeting.

July 11th, 1997, Ambedkar Statue Desecrated in Ramabai

On 11 July 1997, a statue of B.R. Ambedkar in the Dalit colony of Ramabai was desecrated by unknown individuals. An initially peaceful protest was fired on by the police, killing ten people, including a bystander who had not been involved in the protests. Later in the day, 26 people were injured when the police carried out a lathi charge against the protests. Commentators suggested that the arbitrarily violent response from the police had been the result of caste based prejudice, as the leader of the team stood accused in multiple cases involving caste-based discrimination.

July 25th, 1997, K R Narayanan Becomes First Dalit President of India

He was the first dalit President and was in office until 25 July 2002. President Narayanan in his speeches consistently sought to remind the nation of its duties and obligations towards the Dalits and Adivasis, the minorities, and the poor and downtrodden. He called the nation's attention to various recalcitrant social ills and evils, such as atrocities against women and children, caste discrimination and the ingrained attitudes it nurtured, abuse of the environment and public utilities, corruption and lack of accountability in the delivery of public services, religious fundamentalism, advertisement-driven consumerism, and flouting of human rights, and lamented the absence of public concern, political debate, and civic action to address them. Drawing from the experiences of his own home state Kerala, he pointed out that education was at the root of human and economic development. He hoped that the establishment would not fear the awakening of the masses through education, and spoke of the need to have faith in the people. President Narayanan spoke on various occasions on the condition of the Dalits, Adivasis, and other backward sections of society, and the various iniquities they faced (often in defiance of law), such as denial of civic amenities, ostracism, harassment and violence (particularly against women), and displacement by ill-conceived development projects. He felt that the policy of reservations for the backward sections in education and the public sector had remained unfulfilled due to administrative distortions and narrow interpretations, and needed to be implemented with renewed vigour and sincerity; apprehensive of what he described as a counter-revolution among some privileged sections seeking to reverse progressive policies, he reminded the nation that these benefits were not charity, but had been provided by way of human rights and social justice to sections constituting a large portion of the population and contributing to the economy as landless agricultural labourers and industrial workers. In his 2002 Republic day address, he drew attention to the Bhopal Declaration on the Dalit and Adivasi agenda for the 21st century and spoke of the necessity of the private sector adopting policies to promote equitable representation of the backward sections in their enterprises. In a governmental note on higher judicial appointments (which leaked to the press in January 1999), he observed that eligible persons from the backward sections were available and that their under-representation or non-representation was not justifiable; K. G. Balakrishnan, a Dalit, was elevated to the Supreme court on 8 June 2000, the fourth such instance, and the only one since 1989. He felt that Ambedkar's exhortation to "educate, organise, agitate" continued to be relevant; with the Dalits forming a quarter of the population in a democracy with universal adult franchise, he felt that the ultimate destiny of the backward sections lay in the hands of the backward sections themselves, organised socially and politically. When the Australian missionary and social worker Graham Staines and his two minor sons were burned alive on 22 January 1999, President Narayanan condemned it as a barbarous crime belonging to the world's inventory of black deeds. Towards the end of his Presidency, communal riots broke out in Gujarat (February 2002). President Narayanan was deeply pained and anguished, and described it as a grave crisis of the society and the nation; he called it the duty of every Indian to strive to restore peace and thus preserve and strengthen the foundations of the state and the tradition of tolerance. He did not stand the election for a second Presidential term due to the lack of support from the ruling government. After the demission of Presidential office, he lent his support to alternative globalisation movements like the World Social Forum. After he had left the Presidency, and after the Vajpayee government had been voted out of power in the general elections of May 2004, in an interview on the third anniversary of the riots (in February 2005), he said; There was governmental and administrative support for the communal riots in Gujarat. I gave several letters to Prime Minister Vajpayee in this regard on this issue. I met him personally and talked to him directly. But Vajpayee did not do anything effective. I requested him to send the army to Gujarat and suppress the riots. The military was sent, but they were not given powers to shoot. If the military was given powers to shoot at the perpetrators of violence, recurrence of tragedies in Gujarat could have been avoided. However, both the state(the Narendra Modi government) and central government did not do so. I feel there was a conspiracy involving the state and central governments behind the Gujarat riots. He also stated that constitutional limits on his powers had prevented him from doing anything further. Throughout his Presidency, Narayanan adopted the policy of not visiting places of worship or godmen/godwomen; he is the only President to have followed this practice.

February 2nd, 1998, Strike by Plantation workers begin in Sri Lanka

The Ceylon Workers' Congress (CWC) lead a strike of half a million tea and rubber plantation workers. They were seeking a 26.5% wage increase while management has offered 12% plus variable bonuses. The government was helping to mediate. Some 18 of 23 state-owned plantations have been privatized

October 1st, 1998, Formation of NCDHR

In October 1998, seventy-eight Dalit activists and human rights activists from across India, concerned about the frequent atrocities and the blatant lack of implementation of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, met in Bangalore to discuss a program of action. They were anguished that though India had been independent 50 years, and in spite of Constitutional and International commitments to the contrary, the prevalence of “untouchability” continued unabated in many parts of the country. In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they called for an urgent national campaign to highlight Dalit Human Rights and to uphold that “Dalit Rights are Human Rights”. Two national consultations were held on the formation of NCDHR during October and November 1998. Over 220 academics, activists, dalit movements, human rights organizations and dalit organizations participated in these consultations. A national level committee and 10 state level committees were formed, thereby initiating NCDHR.

March 1st, 2000, Kambalapalli Massacre

In March 2000, seven Dalits were burnt alive by the dominant Vokkaligas in Kolar district in the state of Karnataka. The Vokkaliga community are majorly a land owning feudal caste. In Karnataka the Vokkaliga dominance particularly in rural areas has placed the Dalits at the periphery. Landlessness among Dalits has further increased their dependency on land owning communities like that of Vokkaligas. The Kambalapalli massacre took place after a skirmish between Vokkaligas and Dalits. The gruesome killings were the result of a cumulative build-up of tension between the Vokkaliga and the increasingly aware Dalit communities in the region. "The immediate provocation was an altercation between two Dalit youth and a (Vokkaliga) man over the use of a certain stretch of road. Following this a mob of Vokkaligas attacked a group of Dalits who had returned after filing a police complaint. The houses of a Dalit and his neighbour were burnt. Among the seven Dalits who died were a woman and her two sons and daughter. Despite of strong resistance from various Dalit organisations The Karnataka High Court acquitted all 46 accused on the ground of lack of evidence.

March 1st, 2000, International Dalit Solidarity Network is Founded

MARCH 1, 2000: Together with the advocacy of Dalit leaders in India, the work of the activists in the diaspora led to the formal establishment of the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) in March 2000. Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, the IDSN, together with national-level organizations in India and eight state-level networks in Europe, has been critical to the creation of a “vibrant and increasingly dense transnational advocacy network.” The IDSN has helped increase the visibility of Dalit issues through targeted media activism and lobbied states and international institutions. The formation of the IDSN also represented a shift in how the problems facing Dalits were framed internationally; in the past, religious and development organizations had focused on the various problems that India’s poor faced such as illiteracy and forced labor. The IDSN instead argued for “an approach that frames the Dalits’ many problems in comprehensive terms as outgrowths of caste-based discrimination endemic to Indian society.

April 14th, 2000, Dalit Adivasi Bahujan Minority Students Association Founded

The immediate beginnings of this organization can be traced to the rustication of ten Dalit students in HCU, in 2001. Following this, the then CIEFL awoke to discussions of caste. Also, at the city level, the bitter experience of the rustication led to the formation of Hyderabad Dalit Students’ Collective (HDSC). In our university, the months following the rustication saw the formation of Dalit Bahujan and Minority Students Association (DBMSA)

November 4th, 2001, Mass Dalit Conversion to Buddhism

A prominent Indian Navayana Buddhist leader and political activist, Udit Raj, organised a large mass conversion on 4 November 2001, where he gave the 22 vows, but the event met with active opposition from the government.

December 10th, 2001, NACDOR Founded

DECEMBER 10, 2001:Initiated by Centre for Alternative Dalit Media (CADAM), National Confederation of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR) was launched in a three-day National Conference of Dalit Organisations held December 8-10, 2001 in New Delhi. This first ever National Conference of Dalit Organisations launched the Self Help Movement of the Dalits. NACDOR has adopted a program enlarging the Dalit Agenda, incorporating socio-economic and political issues. National Confederation of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR) is the apex body of Dalit Organisations in India. NACDOR is committed to an inclusive, progressive, secular, democratic and non-sectarian society. While firmly believing in equality, social justice and equal dignity for all, NACDOR promotes democracy, human rights, sustainable development and peace and reconciliation with the perspective of the socially excluded Dalits.

December 18th, 2001, Inauguration of Deekshabhoomi

Deekshabhoomi (Marathi: दीक्षाभूमि) is a sacred monument of Buddhism at the place where the architect of the Indian Constitution, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, went back to Buddhism along with his about 500,000 followers on 14 October 1956. Ambedkar's return to Buddhism is still an important matter for many in India. Deekshabhoomi is situated in Nagpur, Maharashtra, a location regarded as a pilgrimage center of Buddhism in India. Millions of pilgrims visit Deekshabhoomi every year, especially on Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din (Mass Conversion Ceremony Day) and 14 October, the memorial day when Dr. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism here. Now, the biggest stupa in Asia is erected in his memory at this divine point. Deeksha literally means 'act of ordaining', Bhoomi means the 'ground'. So, literally Deekshabhoomi means the ground where people got ordained as Buddhist.This religious mass conversion at one place was first ever in the history. Deekshabhoomi is one of the two places of great importance in the life of Dr.Ambedkar, another being Chaitya Bhoomi at Mumbai.

Jan 12th, 2002 - Jan 13th, 2002, Bhopal Conference in Madhya Pradesh

JANUARY 12-13, 2002: The conference was held at Bhopal in the Hindi Belt state of Madhya Pradesh, India. Its purpose was to address issues relating to improvement in the circumstances of the economically- and socially-deprived Dalit and Tribal communities of the state. The immediate outcome was the Bhopal Declaration, which included a Dalit Agenda that has been described by Sudha Pai as "... a new effort to address the problems faced by Dalits and Tribals in keeping with liberalisation and the emergence of a competitive market economy." The results significantly influenced the policies of the then Chief Minister, Digvijay Singh, and caused the state to experience a markedly different style of Dalit politics to that which was typical in the neighbouring Belt areas, such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

June 1st, 2002, Dalit Consultation to India's 10th Five Year Plan

JUNE 1, 2002: NACDOR, in association with CADAM, organised a Consultation on the Approach Paper of the 10th Five Year Plan and submitted a memorandum highlighting the complete marginalisation of the Dalits in the 10th Five Year Plan. The consultation exposed how Dalits were getting a raw deal in Development Planning since Independence. The Consultation and the press release issued got noticed by the Government, who clarified that the interests of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes would be protected.

June 1st, 2003, Uprising Against the Jatt Sikh Landlords in Talhan

In 2003, the Talhan village Gurudwara endured a bitter dispute between Jatt Sikh and Chamars. The Chamars came out in force and confronted the Randhawa and Bains Jatt Sikh Landlords, who refused to give the Chamars a share on the governing committee of a shrine dedicated to Shaheed Baba Nihal Singh. Though Dalits form more than 60 percent of Talhan’s 5,000-strong population, local ‘traditions’ ensured that they were denied a seat on the committee. The landlords, in league with radical Sikh organisations and the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, attempted to keep out the Dalits by razing the Shrine overnight and constructing a gurdwara on it, but the Dalit quest for a say in the governing committee did not end. Chanan Ram Pal, President of the Talhan Dalit Action Committee, stated: "We fought a war for swabhimaan (self-respect). The teachings of Guru Ravidas and the access to modern education inculcated in us this desire. We are an economically independent community, many of our people are nris who send money from Dubai, the West, etc. Here, we do not work for landlords, we are self-employed. Like any other caste, we too are the offspring of Punjab. We drink its water, we live on its food. We are as good as anybody."

Dec 5th, 2003 - Jan 16th, 2004 World Social Forum Mumbai

Originally the World Social Forum (WSF) had been convened as an alternative to The World Economic Forum in Davos. Hosted for three years in Puerte Allegre, Brazil, the World Social Forum Mumbai was the first time it was held outside of Latin America. It marked the growing momentum of activists around the world who believed in the WSF slogan that “Another World is Possible” and that the WSF was the place to make those alternatives real.

January 1st, 2004, Two Dalit Youth Killed for Winning Cricket Matches

Two young dalits were killed by some upper caste Rajputs charging them of theft in a village near Saharanpur. The young men indulge in friendly cricket matches with a few hundred rupees at stake. But at times the scene gets ugly if lower caste village (Santagarh’s) boys win. In the last three cricket matches Santagarh trounced Hasanpur. During the last match there were heated arguments, scuffles broke out and there were minor injuries on both sides. Injuries healed but grudges survived.h

February 19th, 2004, 89th Amendment of the Constitution Establishes NCST

With the 89th Amendment, The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes has been set up under Article 338A to oversee the implementation of various safeguards provided to Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution. By this amendment, the previous National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely - (i) the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), and (ii) the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST). The First commission constituted on 2004 with Kunwar singh as the chairperson. The second commission constituted on 2007 with Urmila Singh as the Chairperson. The third Commission constituted on 2010 with Rameshwar Oraon as the Chairperson.

July 1st, 2004, CasteWatchUK was Founded

It was formally launched in July 2004 and registered as a Charity with the Charity Commission in February 2005. Building on the momentum created by the BBC Radio 4 programme broadcast in April and again in May 2003 entitled ‘Caste Divide in Britain, CasteWatchUK has been in the forefront in raising awareness of Caste based Discrimination occurring in the UK.

December 1st, 2004, Formation of ICDR

DECEMBER 1, 2004:, with the leadership of DB Sagar, Dalit NGO Federation (DNF-Nepal) organized an International Consultation on Caste-based Discrimination in Kathmandu, Nepal, in association with 16 major international organizations (including the UK’s Department for International Development, Danish International Development Agency, and the United Nations). The landmark outcome of the consultation was the Kathmandu Dalit Declaration, and an innovative idea to form ICDR as an international mechanism that would strengthen the Dalit movement. In addition, the World Conference of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance 2001 provided an opportunity to crystallize Dalits and Pro-Dalit leaders/activists, and strengthen the voice of Dalits at the international level. This conference brought together Dalit leaders and activists to explore an international mechanism that would bring Dalit and Pro-Dalits leaders together to share and develop comprehensive strategic programs and policies.

December 5th, 2004, World Dignity Day: International Day of Socially Excluded

The Social Movements International Network/ World Assembly of Social Movements, in association dalit movements and mass organisations in India, gave a call in 2004 to observe 5 December as International Day of Dalits’ Struggle and World Dignity Day. 5th December being the eve of the death anniversary of Dr B. R. Ambedkar – the father of India’s Constitution, Dalits in India began to observe this as the World Dignity Day – International Day of Socially Excluded. This day reminds us of the relentless struggles by Dr Ambedkar for the Dignity of the Dalits and other socially excluded and marginalized sections of our society.On this day in 1955 in United States of America, Rev. Martin Luther King Junior launched his historic movement to boycotting segregationist bus system that humiliated Blacks everyday in Montgomery. On 6th December in 1992, rightwing fundamentalists demolished the Babri Mosque in Uttar Pradesh challenging the secular traditions of the country and hence the World Dignity Day also reminds us the struggle for secularism and communal harmony. Since 2004, on this day there worldwide demonstrations in many countries by social movements and action groups who like to express their support and solidarity to dalit struggle as well as to the broader struggle against all forms of discrimination and exclusion through candle light procession, solidarity marches, human chains and media campaigns. It is a day of diverse, demonstrative activities that contribute to strengthen the dreams and aspirations, hopes and struggles of Indian Dalits, Adivasis, workers, along with Africans, Latin Americans, Afro-Americans, religious minorities and indigenous populations, physically challenged and HIV and AIDS victims. Various social movements and mass organizations of the world assembled at the World Social Forum 2004, Mumbai, India. After the World Social Forum, Dalit organizations, organizations of workers, women, Adivasis, Muslims, and other marginals, and mass movements of India came together to discuss strategies and plans for action against social exclusion, neo-liberal policies and religious fundamentalisms. The World Dignity Forum, a forum against casteism, racism, other forms of discriminations and exclusions, that roots itself amidst the Indian Dalits and Dalit organizations and which was officially launched in the World Social Forum 2004, channelised this process. All elaborated a common action agenda. 5th December -- the Day of Peoples’ Dignity Rally in Delhi -- is an important part of this common agenda.

December 5th, 2004, Dalit Dignity Rally

DECEMBER 5, 2004: More than 50,000 people gathered and had a huge Dalit Dignity Rally at the Ram Lila Grounds. Grass root leaders of Dalits from all over India participated in the programme and resolved to have this Dalit Dignity Rally annually.

December 6th, 2004, Resolution on Muslim Dalit Quota Passed

The Samajwadi Party-sponsored resolution, which demanded Constitutional amendment to provide reservations to Dalit Muslims and Christians in government jobs, was passed in Vidhan Sabha.

December 6th, 2004, Musahar Demand Day

DECEMBER 6. 2004: More than 5,000 Musahars organised Mushar Mang Diwas (Mushar Demand Day) and they marched to the Parliament to press for their demands.

January 12th, 2006, Ruth Manorama Received the Right to Livelihood Award

Ruth Manorama is a Dalit woman born in 1952 in Madras. Her parents escaped the worst consequences of being Dalits by becoming Christians. In 1975 Manorama took a Master's degree in social work from the University of Madras and has trained in both the community organisation methods of Saul D'Alinsky and the conscientisation methods of Paolo Freire. In 2001 Manorama was granted an honorary doctorate "for the distinguished contribution made to church and society" by the Academy of Ecumenical Indian Theology and Church Administration. Manorama's working life has been spent on organisation building, mobilisation of people and advocacy on behalf of Dalit women through a large number of organisations. She is: General Secretary of Women's Voice, founded in 1985, to work with women in slums, struggling for land, shelter and survival rights of the urban poor. President of the National Alliance of Women, set up following the Fourth World Conference of Women in Beijing in 1995 to monitor government performance on its various commitments to women and lobby for change. Joint Secretary of the Christian Dalit Liberation Movement, formed in the 1980s to mobilise Christian Dalits for affirmative action. Secretary of the Karnataka State Slum Dwellers Federation. Secretary for organisation building of the National Centre for Labour, an apex organisation of unorganised labour in India. President of the National Federation of Dalit Women (NFDW), set up in 1995. In addition, she has a number of regional and international roles (Asian Women's Human Rights Council, International Women's Rights Action Watch - Asia - Pacific, Sisters' Network). She has also been a member of the Karnataka State Planning Board, the State Commission for Women, the Task Force on Women's Empowerment of the Government of India and a number of other state and national bodies.

Jan 16th, 2006 - Jan 21st, 2006, Emergence of the Asia Dalit Rights Forum

The idea of ADRF as a collective platform of Dalit rights protagonists emerged during the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India in 2004. This idea was consolidated in the events for Dalit Rights activists from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the India Social Forum, Delhi in 2006. Greater clarity of perspective emerged as Dalit rights activists again came together at the Karachi Social Forum, Pakistan in 2007.

October 1st, 2006, Dalits Convert to Buddhism

Across India this month, thousands of Hindus from the former Untouchable castes are converting to Buddhism in protest at the continuing discrimination they face. Mass conversion ceremonies are being held throughout the month, from Delhi in the north, to Hyderabad in the south. Organisers are claiming that more than 100,000 people have already converted.

October 14th, 2006, Mass Conversion in Gulbarga City

Hundreds of people embraced Buddhism at a colourful function in Gulbarga city on Saturday. Bhante Bodhi Dhamma, senior Boudha Bhikshu of Japan, conducted the 'deeksha' ceremony, and those who embraced Buddhism took an oath before him. During the oath-taking, the converts swore that they would not believe in Hindu gods, and stop worshipping them, and also not follow the Hindu belief that Buddha is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Apart from this, they also took oath not to lie, steal, smoke and drink alcohol. Mallikarjun Kharge presided over the swearing-in ceremony and former Union minister Srinivas Prasad was the chief guest. National vice-president of RPI Shivram Mogha, senior dalit leader Vithal Dodmani are among those who embraced Buddhism. Kharge told reporters that he worshipped Buddha but did not plan to embrace Buddhism. "In future, anything might happen," he said. Srinivas Prasad, who was the chief guest of Dhamma Chakra Suvarna Mahotsava and Boudha Dhamma Deeksha programme, said that Dr B.R.Ambedkar was a great spiritual leader rather than a political leader. Because of his vision, people belonging to the Dalit community were enjoying high posts nowadays, he said.

November 1st, 2006, Sachar Committee Report

According to the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Act, 1990, Scheduled Castes can only belong to Hindu or Sikh or Buddhist religions.There is no religion bar in case of Scheduled Tribes. The Sachar Committee report of 2006 revealed that scheduled castes and tribes of India are not limited to the religion of Hinduism. The 61st round Survey of the NSSO found that 90% of the Buddhists, one-third of the Sikhs, and one-third of the Christians in India belonged to the notified scheduled castes or tribes of the Constitution.

Nov 20th, 2006 - Nov 21st, 2006 Hague Declaration on the Human Rights and Dignity of Dalit Women

"WE, the participants of the Hague Conference on Dalit Women’s Rights, held in The Hague on 20 and 21 November 2006, after deliberating upon the issues of discrimination, violence and impunity against Dalit women, adopt this Declaration on the Human Rights and Dignity of Dalit Women."

Nov 20th, 2006 - Nov 21st, 2006, Hague International Conference on Dalit Women's Rights

International Conference on Dalit Women's Rights, where delibereration attendees adopted a declaration on the Human Rights and Dignity of Dalit Women in South Asia. This gathering was historic as it brought Dalit Women Leaders from Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka to give testimonies of violence and exclusion. More importantly the delegates developed a key advocacy and strategic declaration aimed at being the blueprint for the next phase of the Dalit Women's Movement.

December 18th, 2006, European Parliament Hearing

Hearing on "The Situation of the Dalits in India" at the European Parliament in Brussels.

May 5th, 2007, Thorat Committee Report on Caste Discrimination in AIIMS

In September 2006 the Government of India established a committee to investigate caste-based discrimination and harassment of SC/ST students at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Headed by Professor Sukhdeo Thorat, the Committee’s Report exposed the casteist violence that shaped all aspects of student life for Dalit students at AIIMS, from differential and humiliating treatment by professors, segregation in hostels and verbal and physical abuse by “general category” students. This report was the first of its kind in independent India, challenging the ongoing denials about the prevalence of caste-based discrimination in institutions of higher education.

May 24th, 2007, Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability Crime Elimination and Punishment Act Adopted by Nepal's Parliament

The Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability Crime Elimination and Punishment Act, which was adopted unanimously by Nepal’s Interim Parliament on May 24, prohibits the practices of ‘untouchability’ both in the public and private sphere.

May 28th, 2007, Mass Conversion of Dalits to Buddhism 50 Years Later

Tens of thousands gathered at Mahalaxmi Race Course in Mumbai on Sunday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar's conversion to Buddhism. More than 1 lakh Dalits and tribal Hindus embraced the Buddhist faith in what is considered the largest mass conversion in the country.

February 17th, 2008, Ilavazhagi Wins World Carrom Championship

India’s I. Ilavazhagi bagged her maiden women’s title in the fifth World Carrom Championship at Palais Des Festivals, Cannes, France. Ilavazhagi, who won the National title recently in Chennai, had overcome the former World champion Rashmi Kumari in straight games in the semifinal. The daughter of a daily wage-earner, Ilavazhagi has been struggling to make both ends meet. Players from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh, USA, United Kingdom, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Switzerland and France participated in the championships. The Tamil Nadu Government also presented a cheque for Rs ten lakh shortly after. Ilavazhagi has won 37 medals and has been junior champion since 1998.

February 27th, 2009, Arunthathiyar Internal Reservation Act Passed

The Tamil Nadu Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a bill for reservation of three percent seats to Arunthathiyars in educational institutions, including private educational institutions, in the State. There will also be reservations for appointments or posts in the services under the State in Tamil Nadu within the 18 percent reservation for Scheduled Castes. Arunthathiyars, along with Chakkiliyars and a few other sub-castes, belong to the lowest strata of the caste-based social hierarchy and are the worst sufferers of untouchability, often sufferring atrocities and discrimination at the hands of other dominant Dalits. They have been called the “Dalits within Dalits”. The traditional occupation of Arunthathiyars is making leather goods, and they have played a notable role as makers and menders of kamalai, a leather bag used to draw water from wells to irrigate dryland. A significant number of them have been engaged in agriculture-related activities too. Arunthathiyars and Chakkiliyars had been included in the list of S.C.s, who are entitled to 18 percent reservation in education and employment and reservation in political positions. Together, the two communities account for about 15.5 lakh (13.1 per cent) of the Dalit population (1.18 crore) in Tamil Nadu. Dalits account for 19 per cent of the State’s total population (6.2 crore), according to the 2001 Census. Among Dalits, the literacy rate of Arunthathiyars is 53.7 per cent and that of Chakkiliyars is 50.9 percent. The corresponding figures for others are Paraiyars 65.9, Adi Dravidars 65.3 and Pallars 65. The overall Dalit literacy rate is 63.2 percent against the State’s 73.5 percent. The dropout rates among Arunthathiyar and Chakkiliyar children after the primary level are much higher than in Adi Dravidar, Pallar and Paraiyar communities. The representatives of various political parties and social forums representing the Scheduled Castes have requested the State Government to consider providing a special provision for reservation for the group of Arunthathiyars within the reservation provided for the Scheduled Castes as they are in the lowest rung in social and educational fronts in society. The one-man committee headed by Justice M S Janarthanam considered the issue of providing reservation for Arunthathiyars, within the quota of reservation for Scheduled Castes. The committee has submitted its report to the State Government. The report revealed that the representation of Arunthathiyars, with regard to admissions in educational institutions, professional or otherwise, is rather minimal and the educational opportunities are also knocked away by the upper crust of the hierarchy of castes from among the Scheduled Castes. The term ‘Arunthathiyar’ includes not just Arunthathiyars, but also Chakkiliyan, Madari, Madiga, Pagadai, Thoti and Adi Andhra. On passing of the Act , many dominant Dalit leaders, like N.M Kamble called it “unconstitutional”. However, a large number of Arunthathiyars also staged a protest demonstration to condemn Kamble and some Dalit outfits which objected to the Arunthathiyar Reservation Act.

April 6th, 2009, MEIRA KUMAR - First Dalit Woman Speaker

Meira Kumar is an Dalit politician and a five time Member of Parliament. She was elected unopposed as the first Dalit woman Speaker of Lok Sabha and served from 2009 to 2014. She is a lawyer and a former diplomat. Prior to being a member of the 15th Lok Sabha, she has been elected earlier to the 8th, 11th, 12th and 14th Lok Sabha. She served as a Cabinet Minister in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment of Manmohan Singh's Congress led Government (2004–2009). Meira Kumar was born in Patna, Bihar to the former Deputy Prime Minister and prominent Dalit leader Babu Jagjivan Ram and a freedom fighter, Indrani Devi. She went to Welham Girls School, Dehradun and Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls' Public School, Jaipur.She studied at Banasthali Vidyapith for a short duration. She did her M.A, L.L.B, Educated at Indraprastha College and Miranda House, Delhi University.An honorary doctorate was conferred upon her by Banasthali Vidyapith in 2010.

July 1st, 2009, Dalit Writer Urmila Pawar Published "The Weave of My Life", Her Autobiography

Urmila Pawar (b. 1945) received an MA from the University of Bombay ,and for many years worked in the department of labor welfare for the government of Maharashtra. She is the author of two acclaimed short story collections, Sahava Bot and Chauthi Bhint, and, with Meenakshi Moon, coauthored a book on the role of women in the Dalit movement. She is also a former actor of radical Marathi theater and a playwright.Maya Pandit is pro-vice chancellor of the English and Foreign Language University, Hyderabad. She is an experienced translator of women's writings from Marathi and an activist in the women's movement and alternative theater.Wandana Sonalkar teaches economics at Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, Maharashtra, and is director of their Women's Studies Centre. She has also translated and written a comprehensive introduction to Urmila Pawar and Meenakshi Moon's Amhihi Itihaas Ghadavila on the participation of women in the Ambedkar movement. Aaidan her autobiography written in Marathi has been translated into English and titled as The Weave of My Life: A Dalit Woman’s Memoirs. In her foreword to the English translation, Wandana Sonalkar writes that the title of the book The Weave is a metaphor of the writing technique employed by Pawar, "the lives of different members of her family, her husband's family, her neighbours and classmates, are woven together in a narrative that gradually reveals different aspects of the everyday life of Dalits, the manifold ways in which caste asserts itself and grinds them down".

January 6th, 2010, Public Interest Litigation for Dalit Reservations Filed by AICF

Public interest litigation from the All India Christian Federation (AICF) was filed with the Supreme Court of India seeking reservations for all Dalits irrespective of their religious faith.The PIL (WP Civil # 579/2009) sought reservation for converted Dalits of all faiths on the same footing as extended to Scheduled Castes following Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.A Bench comprising Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Justice B. S. Chauhan issued a notice to the Ministry of Social Justice and Ministry of Minority Affairs for its response on the implementation of the recommendation of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM) headed by former Chief Justice of India Rangnath Misra.Senior advocate K. K. Venugopal and D. Vidyanandam submitted the recent statement by Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid that the report of NCRLM was not made public and there was a difference between the manifesto of Congress party and the recommendation by the Commission was an attempt to defeat the claims of converts.Mr. Venugopal said the Centre had referred the NCRLM report to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes which also supported the reported recommendation for 15 per cent (10 per cent for Muslims and 5 per cent for others) reservation without disturbing 50 per cent ceiling set by the Supreme Court.The PIL said paragraph three of the Presidential order of 1950 under Article 341 of the Constitution, which empowers the President to specify Scheduled Castes, was coming in the way of extending the benefits of reservation to Dalit converts and was upheld by the NCRLM’s seven-member committee. It sought striking down of paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 on the grounds that it is ultra vires of the Constitution. The NCRLM has prepared its report after visiting various states and among the terms of reference was to examine whether the Scheduled Caste converts suffer from social disabilities like untouchability even after embracing Christianity. The Ranganath Mishra Commission earlier declared that non-inclusion of Dalit Christians and Muslims in the SC ambit was a discrimination based on religion and goes against the Constitution of India.After a brief hearing, the Bench tagged the petition with other PILs on the issue which has been pending since 2004.The Centre had in January 2008 told the apex court that it would study the report of Misra commission which examined the issue of granting Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians for extending benefits of reservation to them.The NGO had also submitted that it was the right time that the court should strike down the order requiring all Dalits to belong to a particular religion if they were to avail the SC reservation benefits as it goes beyond the mandate of Article 341(1) and violates the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.All India United Christians Movement for Equal Rights, had said the Congress Government had in 1996 brought a Bill in Lok Sabha to amend para three of the “Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950” for extending reservation benefits to Dalit Christians. There are about 20 million dalit Christians.The PIL had claimed social standings of Dalits even after converting to Christianity has not changed and they have to face discrimination in churches also.The demand for granting Scheduled Castes status to the Dalit Christians has been opposed in several quarters, including the SC/ST Commission which contended that they cannot enjoy two rights - that is of minority and SCs.Citing a 2005 ruling of the apex court, in which it was said even if a tribal converted to Christianity, he or she could still avail reservation benefits as his/her status as ST remained unchanged, PIL had said the same law should be applicable to Dalits after their conversion. [1] Bhakta Das, A Glimpse of Scheduled Castes in Assam, book p 26. 1986[2] Kshirsagar R K, Dalit Movement in India and Its Leaders, 1857-1956, book page 384-385. 1994[3] Dhananjay Keer, Dr. Ambedkar: Life and Mission book, Pg 318[4] K V Ramakrishna Rao, The Historic Meeting of Ambedkar, Jinnah and Periyar, A paper presented during the 21st session of South Indian History Congress held at Madurai Kamaraj University from 18 to 20 January 2001 and published in the proceedings, pp.128-136[5] Nitin Brahme, Pune Mirror, Newspaper dated 4 August 2011[6] The Hindu, Newspaper

September 29th, 2010, Samajik Parivarthan Yatra for Eradication of Manual Scavenging.

Samajik Parivarthan Yatra, a strategic programme of Bus Yatra started from five different corners of India, and traversed through several districts in 20 states, finally culminating in New Delhi with a large rally. The demands of the yatra included the following: - An official apology from the Government of India for violating the human dignity and human rights Safai Karmcharis for over 3 thousand years. - Eradicate Manual Scavenging - Demolish Dry Latrines - Implement the 1993 Act Strictly. - Punish Violators of the Act 1993 - Punish Dry Latrine Owners and all those who forced safai karmacharis for cleaning shit under the SC/ST Atrocity Prohibition Act 1989. - Rehabilitation Package 1) Release Immediate relief of Rs. 10,000 for safai karmacharis 2) Provide minimum 5 Lac rupees to safai karmacharis to take up dignified occupations. 3) Provide 5 Acre fertile land to safai karmacharis for dignified livelihood 4) Give Antyodaya Card to safai karmacharis 5) Provide houses to safai karmacharis 6) Provide special pension for single safai karmachari women. 7) Provide special pension for aged safai karmacharis 8) Provide free education with monthly scholarship to all safai karmachari children for as many generations as their parents had worked as safai karmacharis. 9) Provide job oriented technical education with residential facility and Job placements to the dependent youth of safai karmacharis . 10) Provide support for dignified livelihood to safai karmachari women in accordance with their choice of livelihood schemes. 11) Register the assets created for safai karmachari women in their name only.

January 1st, 2011, Dalit Camera: Through Un-Touchable Eyes

Dalit Camera is an attempt at a historical documentation of the realities of life in India "through the eyes of the untouchable". It was founded by Bathran Ravichandran, a doctoral student of English at the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) in Hyderabad, the state capital of Andhra Pradesh. The channel run by 23-member team equipped with four video cameras boasts some 3,727 subscribers. Some of its videos have been viewed more than 50,000 times. Mr Ravichandran comes from the "manual scavenging" caste. He was the first from his caste in his district in Tamil Nadu in southern India to receive higher education. He says he began recording video footage of atrocities against Dalits after 20 students attacked him on the university campus. "The incident really changed my life," Mr Ravichandran said. He says Dalit movements and atrocities against them did not receive any exposure in the mainstream media, so through Dalit Camera he decided to "give them a voice on the internet". Since its launch in 2011, the YouTube channel has begun to gain traction outside of Andhra Pradesh. It has already gained popularity in Kerala and West Bengal and is also harnessing a growing following in others states as well as internationally. And in their own words “"Dalit Camera: Through Un-Touchable Eyes" captures narratives, public meetings, songs, talks, discussion on Dalits. It is largely run by students and their expenses are mostly met by themselves. At present our people work in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Calcutta. Although we have people in other places we or they don’t have cameras to capture. We would be happy if someone comes forward and supports us. We also need volunteers who can translate videos from Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi to English. Those interested do write to us at

January 22nd, 2011, Dalit Families Boycotted in Rampar Village

The dominant castes ordered boycott of 15 dalit families in Rampar village of Surendranagar district of Gujarat. Showing courage and aptitude in the face of adversity, 15 Dalit families in Rampar village have set a shining example by setting up their own economy against all odds. When the dominant castes, angry over the “untouchables” entering the village temple for the first time in their lives, ordered boycott of the 15 families on January 22, little did they realise that the Dalits would close ranks and fight back unitedly. In the process, the latter proved that they were not dependent on the higher castes and could easily survive the pariah handicap.

April 23rd, 2011, The Death of Merit – Caste Kills Dalit and Adivasi Students in Top Colleges

This documentary (in three parts) represents a series of efforts to document caste-based discrimination prevalent in Indian higher education system resulting in large number of suicides of Dalit students in the Indian campuses and is based on the testimonies of parents, friends and other relatives. It asks “When a student from the lowest strata of society fights against all odds to prove her merit and reach the best educational institutions in India, are those institutions proving themselves meritorious enough to recognize her worth, to accommodate, let alone nurture her aspirations? When a Dalit or Adivasi student becomes an engineer, doctor, business graduate or scientist, it should be a cause of pride for not just the family or the community but for the entire nation. Instead, why do our nation and its educational institutions reward their merit with discrimination, humiliation, violence and death?”

July 18th, 2011, Economic Times Article on Bhagwan Gawai

The Economic Times reported the following: Bhagwan Gawai: From slum boy to millionaire, a true global citizen MUMBAI: BNP Paribas in Paris, one of the world's largest banking groups, is mindful when it transacts with Bhagwan Gawai, a small customer, but with considerable potential. The bank recently extended a $50 million line of credit to his business group. Gawai, who as a young lad, worked on construction sites, alongside his illiterate mother and brothers, is now truly a global citizen. As an itinerant businessman, trading in petroleum products, petrochemicals and commodities, his interests straddle the globe. He led an itinerant life earlier too. But back then, he was constrained to do so, as his family moved from one construction site to the other, hauling gravel or laying bricks, raising Mumbai's factories and plush houses.Eventually, the family settled down at a sprawling slum, Hanuman Nagar, an address that continues to resonate in his life, for the family still retains the shanty. "When we migrated from Buldana in rural Maharashtra to Mumbai, we lived and worked at the site that is now the Mahindra & Mahindra plant in Kandivali," recalls 52-year-old Gawai, now Chairman and CEO of Saurabh Energy DMCC, his trading bridgehead in Dubai. Through the previous decade, his company, established in a joint venture with an Arab partner, recorded a peak turnover of $400 million. In 2008-09, when his partner wound up his numerous businesses following a death in the family, Gawai launched Saurabh Energy, at the Jumeirah Lake Towers Free Zone, on his own. He, however, had to start all over again, beginning with securing registrations from oil companies like Shell, BP and the Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC). Gawai buys petroleum products like naphtha, petrol, diesel, bitumen, furnace and base oils from them for onward sales. Today, his firm has a turnover of $20 million. "In a couple of years, I will gather the same momentum as before," he says. This innate confidence in himself and his abilities, and a perennial urge to seek challenges, has brought Gawai to where he is today. "He always wanted to test his talents, in newer ways," recalls Dilip Rumde, chief manager at the Girguam branch of the Bank of India in Mumbai, and a first mentor of sorts to Gawai.When Gawai was studying in Mumbai's Siddharth College, he worked with Rumde at a small electroplating unit as a part-time accounts assistant. Gawai's early years in a job were quite uneventful. "I got my first proper job, as a clerk with L&T, after appearing for a written test," he says, implying that merit was the sole criterion for his selection. After some prodding, he concedes his first big job break came on the strength of reservations for scheduled castes (SCs), when he was appointed officer-trainee with HPCL, the public sector oilmarketing company, in 1982. Talent alone wouldn't have sufficed. At HPCL, his talent was recognised. But soon, the pitfalls of a public sector work ethic overwhelmed him, as he hit a glass ceiling in growth. Gawai attributes this to caste prejudices — subtle, subterranean, never overtly articulated. While affirmative-action policies enabled him to secure entry in a government owned company, the absence of a mentoring, nurturing culture in the PSU stymied his progress and aspirations. He then passed through a difficult phase, both in the office and at home. His marriage to a woman of a better economic standing than his, turned turbulent. His friends suggested it was about time he relocated from the slum; tear himself from the past. "Although he never wanted to live separately from his mother and brothers, his move to the HPCL housing colony with his wife saved the day," recalls Rumde. Workplace, however, continued to provide little succour. "My immediate seniors gave me good grades during appraisals," says Gawai. "But when my papers moved to the human resources department, they were always tampered with." It prompted him to file a court case to secure his promotion, which he eventually won. By then, in disgust, he had decided to move on. Moving on in 1991, he took three months leave of absence to explore a job offer from Caltex, the petroleum major, in the Gulf. Although unsure, he quit HPCL and moved to Bahrain. It changed his life. In the late-nineties, the Dubai government was keen to set up a diversified energy company and refinery. By then, Gawai was well known in oil circles. ENOC was eventually incorporated. Gawai joined as its fourth employee, entrusted with the task of sourcing all feedstock for the refinery. The salary was good: 50,000 dirhams a month. An Arab businessman, from whom he often hired ships to move feedstock, goaded him. He was willing to be his partner. In 2003, Gawai turned businessman. "In the very first year, we hit a turnover of $80 million," he says with pride. His clients now come from West Asia, parts of Europe, even Singapore and the Far East. His network began to expand. Gawai now has interests in chemicals, biofuels, marine engineering, logistics, telecom and BPOs, through equity holdings in a raft of companies. Through all of this, as he reaped profits, rose in status and privilege, he never forgot his roots. His two daughters and son are as grounded as he is. Gawai has been instrumental in bringing together a group of over 30 Dalit achievers from across the world. He is coaxing them to invest, bit by bit, in sound projects through a holding company that they have formed: Maitreya Developers. "He is very transparent in his dealings, and would like people to participate in and benefit from his growth," says Satish Mapara of the Dubai based Globe Apex Management Consultants. "There is a degree of innocence in him, which sometimes works to his detriment." He has seen the rise of Gawai from close quarters since the mid-nineties. He now wants to diversify into coal. Saurabh Resources, incorporated in Labuan, Malaysia, recently acquired an interest in a coal mine in Indonesia, the world's largest exporter of thermal coal. [1] Tarkateertha Laxmanshastri Josh, Jotirao Phule book, p 31[2]

Dec 16th, 2011 - Dec 18th, 2011, First National Dalit Trade Fair

DICCI’s India’s first national level DICCI Trade Fair organized at Mumbai’s famous Bandra-Kurla Complex has entered into the consciousness of the aspiring Dalit middle class. Post December 16-18, the DICCI headquarters at Pune is getting messages from all over India. With Godrej Group and TATA Sons the main supporting partners, the mega event was a huge success drawing attention of media at home and abroad. Dalit Entrepreneurs from all across India displayed their products. While we are still in early stage in our campaign, what we witnessed at the DICCI Trade Fair on December 16-18 is only a fraction of Dalit Entrepreneurs who are making their mark in the Indian economy. The DICCI is yet to enter Central and East India, and we have just entered south. Within few years we hope to host only those Dalits who would be paying a minimum of Rs. 50 Million in taxes to the State. What amazed guests and visitors alike is the fact that many Dalits are into hard core manufacturing creating heavy duty engineering goods, including machines that produce goods. About half a dozen Dalit entrepreneurs, all first timers in businesses who have operations abroad as well, came in. We have identified many Dalits who are doing so well in health and hospitality sector. Few Dalits have succeeded even in IT industry. Another flash point of the event was that the Trade Fair attracted a large number of Dalit intellectuals, Civil Servants and activists from all over India.

August 8th, 2012, Mary Kom

On the eve of International Indigenous Peoples Day, Mary Kom from Tribal Manipur became India’ first woman boxer to win a medal at the Olympics. Moments after referee David Llaurado raised Nicola Adams’ left arm to signal her victory in a semifinal bout of the 51 kg women's flyweight boxing event in the London Olympics on Wednesday, Manipur was plunged in darkness. Literally and metaphorically. Punching above her weight, the North Eastern State’s — and India’s — favourite daughter, Mary Kom had just lost the chance to advance to the final of the competition, losing 6-11 to the younger and taller Briton. Manipur normally gets electricity for just a few hours a day but the authorities kept the grid running long enough to allow Mary's fans to watch the match live. Seconds after she lost, the lights went out. Friends and relatives who had gathered at the five-time world champion's village, Langol, in Imphal West, bore her defeat to a quick-footed opponent with a heavy heart, although they put up a brave face. Mary's father Tonpa, who had travelled all the way from his village Kangathei to watch the match with friends and family in Imphal became emotional. But he soon recovered, saying, “What has happened has happened. I am sad that she lost the silver, but am very, very happy that she won the bronze.” On the streets of Manipur, men, women and children wore their feelings on their faces. For, the ones that had gathered in front of television screens seemed to have been certain in their minds that they would be celebrating a famous win for their champion pugilist. Mary Kom's entry into the Olympics united the Nagas, Meiteis and Kukis of Manipur who swept aside their political differences and collectively prayed for her victory, says Worngam Siro, a Tangkhul Naga who runs a retail shop in the city. “All of us feel very proud because such a talented boxer has achieved so much from our small State. All the Koms and Kukis and Meiteis are my brethren because we are the same,” he said. This was Mary's second loss to Nicola. The Manipuri mother of two had earlier lost to her in the quarterfinals of the last world championship in a tournament that was the qualifying event for the Olympics. Even though Mary is a five-time world champion in the 45 kg, 46 kg and 48 kg categories, she had to fight well above her weight at the Olympics in the 51 kg (flyweight) event and she had had to train specifically for the higher weight category. “Whether she lost or won, does not matter. But she has put Manipur on the map of the world, and we are extremely proud of her,” said Satyananda Meitei, one of her fans. “This is a game and such things happen,” said another fan with tears in his eyes. Despite formidable odds, Mary worked hard to reach this far. “But all is not lost, there will be a next time,” said Satyananda. Ibomcha Singh, who coached Mary, said she had reached thus far through dedication, determination and discipline.

September 18th, 2012, Dalit Woman becomes Sarpanch in Rajasthan

Four kilometers from the famous village of Tilonia is Harmada. A land of freedom fighters, Harmada today has a Dalit woman sarpanch -- Nauroti. This plucky woman had earned a name in the region for her struggle against injustice long before she was elected to this post a few years back. As she walks towards you, bare foot and clad in a simple, inexpensive sari, Nauroti is a picture of humility but the moment you start talking to her you know that she is no ordinary woman and no ordinary sarpanch either. Nauroti was born in an extremely poor Dalit family in Kishangarh district of Rajasthan and had to work on a road construction site for a living as a stone cutter. But despite the toil, she and many fellow labourers were not paid full wages on the pretext that they had not performed work according to the wages. It was like putting salt on fresh wounds, she felt. Nauroti raised her voice against this injustice, mobilised labourers and became the voice of the agitation. Finally they got justice when their case was taken to a court by an NGO. That was more than three decades ago. From then till now, Nauroti has continued her unrelenting battle for empowerment of the marginalised and her journey from a stone cutter in Puharu village to a sarpanch of Gram Panchayat in Harmada is the story of unflinching courage and impeccable honesty in the face of every adversity. It was in the early 1980s that she joined the barefoot college in Tilonia founded by Bunker Roy. What made her stand apart from other women was her boldness, her ability to learn fast and above all the leadership qualities she displayed when she mobilised the construction workers. She became a voice for women’s empowerment and would travel to villages in the region and educate them about their rights. She also joined adult literacy classes and later learnt to work on computers. Later, she trained many other women who had never gone to school like her. She has also had the chance to go to the US and China to spread her work and message.

October 2nd, 2012, P.Dhanapal Named Assembly Speaker Nominee:

The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Tuesday named Deputy Speaker P. Dhanapal (61) as its nominee for the post of Assembly Speaker, paving the way for a Dalit to become Speaker after a gap of 50 years. The election to the post of Speaker will be held on October 10 following the resignation of D. Jayakumar on September 29. The first Dalit Speaker in the State was J. Sivashanmugam Pillai, who held the post from 1946 to 1955.

October 5th, 2012, Venture Capitalist Fund to Promote Dalit Business Launched

A venture capital fund, dedicated to promoting Dalit entrepreneurs, has been registered by market regulator Sebi, paving the way for creation of a corpus to support businesses owned by people from the Scheduled Castes. The Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry or DICCI's venture capital fund can now raise funds from both private entities and government's financial institutions, bringing to fruition the idea that was first discussed in January 2011. Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia had then offered a group of Dalit entrepreneurs led by DICCI chairman Milind Kamble that the government would match every rupee put in by the chamber with 3.

November 7th, 2012, Protest Mob Torches Houses in Natham

On November 7, 2012, over 200 houses were torched in Natham, old and new Kondampatti and Annanagar Dalit colonies in Dharmapuri district, Tamil Nadu. When a Vanniyar girl from Sellankottai village, and a Dalit boy, from the neighbouring Dalit colony of Natham, fled due to parental opposition to get married, a caste panchayat held on the morning of November 7 by leaders from both communities ruled that the girl be returned to her family. Distraught at her decision to stay with her husband, her father, who worked at a cooperative bank, allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself. The discovery of his body later that day is said to have provoked a 1,500-strong mob to rampage through Natham and two smaller Dalit settlements, Kondampatti and Anna Nagar, where it set ablaze over 200 houses, damaged at least 50 others, and allegedly looted valuables and cash worth lakhs of rupees. The mob rampaged for four hours and was brought under control after arrest of 90 men and an additional deployment of 1000 policemen.

June 26th, 2013, VC Fund for Dalit Entrepreneurship

A venture capital fund, registered with the SEBI, has been floated to help promote entrepreneurship among Scheduled Castes and to facilitate establishment of units by such underprivileged entrepreneurs, according to Ravi Kumar Narra, president, Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, AP chapter.

September 7th, 2013, Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill

A Bill seeking to prohibit employment of individuals as manual scavengers by prescribing stringent punishment, including imprisonment up to five years, was passed by Parliament. The Bill has a wider scope for higher penalties than what was provided under the 1993 Act. Offences under the Bill are cognisable and non-bailable and may be tried summarily. Moving the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill, 2013 in the Upper House, Minister for Social Justice Kumari Selja said the earlier Act did not prove very effective. Under the new law, each occupier of an insanitary latrine is responsible for converting or demolishing it at his own cost. If he fails to do so, the local authority will convert the latrine and recover the cost from him. Each local authority, cantonment board and railway authority are responsible for surveying insanitary latrines within their jurisdiction.

October 10th, 2013, European Parliament Resolution of Caste-based Discrimination

The European Parliament debated – and then adopted – a resolution on caste discrimination, calling on the EU to strengthen its policy on the issue. The resolution had been prepared by the Committee on Development (DEVE), which unanimously approved the draft resolution on 17 September.

October 19th, 2013, A Film in the Works about the Great Nangeli

A FILM IN THE WORKS ABOUT THE GREAT NANGELI OF KERALA. Nangeli was a dalit woman who lived in the early 19th century at Cherthala in the erstwhile princely state of Travancore in India. She questioned the breast tax system existed during that time, by which women of lower caste required to pay tax to cover their bosom in public. She refused to uncover her bosom and pay tax. When the pravathiyar (village officer) of Travancore asked her to pay tax, she chopped off her breasts and presented them in a plantain leaf to him.[1] She died the same day evening due to loss of blood. Her husband jumped into her pyre and committed suicide. Following the death of Nangeli, the breast tax system was annulled in Travancore. The place she lived came to be known later as Mulachiparambu (meaning land of the breasted woman).[1] Novelist Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai's grandson Raj Nair announced a Malayalam movie titled Mulachi (meaning breasted woman) based on Nangeli's story. It is reported that he is in talks with Angelina Jolie to do the lead role in the movie.

January 27th, 2014, Americans Declare Empathy with Dalits at US Congress Event

Descendants of prominent African American families, who led the civil rights movement, presented a Declaration of Empathy to the US congress. The declaration appeals to all Americans to stand in solidarity with the Dalits of South Asia to fight caste discrimination and caste-based slavery.

April 9th, 2014, Women in The World Summit in New York

Dalit women ignite the audience: “Even if no one else recognizes us as human, we will shout it from the rooftops. … The shame is not on the women, the shame is on India,” said US Dalit woman filmmaker Thenmozhi Soundararajan in the talk she gave together with Asha Kowtal from AIDMAM, at the high profile Women in The World Summit in New York**. Uma Thurman introduced the talk by playing the part of a Dalit woman rape victim and NBC anchor Cynthia McFadden moderated the discussion.

May 2nd, 2014, US Resolution to Condemn Untouchability Introduced to the House of Representatives

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced a resolution "Condemning Dalit untouchability" and "the practice of birth-descent discrimination against Dalit people." The resolution is a follow up to her involvement several months ago with a Dalit empathy event co-organized by the Dalit Freedom Network.

May 25th, 2014, Purna Malavath and Anand Kumar scaled Mount Everest

In a historic feat for Indian mountaineering, 13-year-old Malavath Purna today became the youngest female climber to scale the Mount Everest. Purna was accompanied by Sadhanapalli Anand Kumar (16), a Class IX student from the Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh, and completed the feat this morning. Anand and Purna are both students of Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Educational Society. “They climbed Everest at 6 am today after a 52-day long expedition,” he said. “Purna created a record by becoming by youngest girl to climb the Everest,” he said. The duo were selected among about 150 children who were initially chosen for adventure sports as part of the society’s initiative to promote excellence in the students of the society, he said. Twenty of them were sent to a prestigious mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling for training and nine among them weresent on expedition to Indo-China border earlier.

November 22nd, 2014, Launching of Asia Dalit Rights Forum (ADRF) at PSAARC

The Asia Dalit Rights Forum (ADRF) was launched at the People’s SAARC in Kathmandu in November. The mission of the forum is to eradicate caste-based discrimination and atrocities, and ensure equality and equal rights in South Asia. Various workshops and rallies were held from 22-24 November and the forum was a roaring success. On 25 November, the Asia Dalit Rights Forum (ADRF), a platform of civil society organizations in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka working for the empowerment and emancipation of communities subjected to discrimination based on work and descent (caste), and the Asian Parliamentarian’s Forum on Dalit Concerns (APFDC) held an international conference against the background of the SAARC. The conference saw the participation of 33 Members of Parliament from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, besides Dalit human rights organizations and other human rights representatives. All participants extended their strong support to the Parliamentarian’s Forum as well as ADRF. The parliamentarians pledged and committed to address the issue of caste-based discrimination with their respective governments.

January 5th, 2015, Madhu Bai Kinnar gets elected as Mayor

Madhu Nai Kinnar , a Dalit transwoman independent candidate, defeated her opponent from prime minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) by more than 4,500 votes to be elected mayor of Raigarh, in the central state of Chhattisgarh, on Sunday. Kinnar, 35, is Dalit. Before running for mayor, she earned a living by singing and dancing on Howrah to Mumbai trains, collecting money for her performances. She only stopped when asked to represent her community. “People have shown faith in me. I consider this win as love and blessings of people for me. I’ll put in my best efforts to accomplish their dreams,” said Kinnar after her win. Footage showed her celebrating with supporters, who decorated her with colourful floral garlands. The victory marks a milestone for the LGBT community. Kinnar’s election comes nine months after India’s supreme court ruled that transgender people could be legally recognised as gender-neutral, or a ‘third gender’. Six months ago, Padmini Prakashi, was hired as India’s first transgender news anchor. However, homosexuality remains a criminal offence in India and those caught engaging in sexual acts can be imprisoned. "I only spent Rs 60,000-70,000 (£600-700) from my earnings during my campaign, said Kinnar, whose former name was Naresh Chauhan. “It was the public support that encouraged me to enter the poll fray for the first time and because of their support only, I emerged as the winner.” But critics have attributed the win to widespread disillusionment with the BJP party. "It is not Madhu Kinnar’s victory, but it’s a loss of BJP," said Raigarh district Congress President Narendra Negi. Kinnar isn’t India's first transgender mayor - but she is the first to be expected to remain in the post. According to the Telegraph of India two previously successful candidates were removed by the courts because their seats had been 'reserved for women'.

January 25th, 2015, Women's Congress at Sulthanbathery, Kerala

State Adivasi, Women’s Congress at Sulthanbathery (Wayanad), Kerala: “Our demands, therefore, should focus on the Right to Planning, Right to Development, Right to Resources, equitable access to basic healthcare, equal participation in the planning process, all based on the Principle of non-discrimination. We need to have schemes relating to agriculture, education, and preservation of our culture and livelihood. It has to be noted that all the Adivasi communities cannot be treated as one entity or as a homogeneous group. Each community has its own particular issues which need to be taken into consideration. So the needs of each community can vary, but we need to demand land for the landless, schools and opportunities for higher education for our children, proper housing and healthcare and pensions.” – Beena Pallical

February 13th, 2015, Collaboration Between DICCI and Tata Projects

Tata Projects and the industry body Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Dicci), with the support of Telangana government, would set up water purifying systems by following a social enterprise business model.

February 15th, 2015, Trade Expo by DICCI

The Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI)'s impressive show on the opening day of its fourth industrial and trade expo being held here in Hyderabad. Over 3,000 delegates across 14 states are taking part in the three-day event while more than 300 Dalit entrepreneurs, mostly vendors to big companies like Mahindras and Tatas, are show casing their products in the exposition, according to the organisers.

February 23rd, 2015, Chithralekha

Chithralekha was born into a pulaya family, a Dalit caste in Kerala. Chithralekha’s husband Shreeshkanth is a Thiyya (an OBC caste). Both his family and the dominant Left party (CPM) structure were against Shreeshkanth marrying Chithralekha as she is a Dalit. In their attempt to make a better living, they resorted to what many Dalitbahujans of moffusil towns easily choose: an auto-rickshaw. The auto-rickshaw was bought in Chithralekha’s name in October 2004 under the Prime Minister Rojagar Yojana (PMRY) and she decided to drive it herself. Chithralekha also decided to operate from within the ambit of the Payyannur college stand itself. Payyannur is a busy town which has witnessed some of the most glorious moments in the communist and Naxal struggles against human oppression. In January 2005, she was given the card and she started driving the auto. However, her fellow drivers (mainly from the OBC caste) started creating problems just within one week of her public career on the city roads. In spite of harassment, Chithralekha turned out to be a competent driver and became very popular with her customers, especially women. The male auto-drivers gave a counter complaint against her saying that she drinks, uses drugs and parks the vehicle near college in vacant places implying that she is a sex-worker. The auto-drivers and the left cadres were so enraged against her for taking the matter to the police that she was again verbally abused at the auto station and Rameshan even tried to run over Chithralekha with his auto. However, she escaped the attack but sustained minor injuries and had to be hospitalized. From then on Chithralekha has been fighting the CITU/CPM in Kannur. She has been attacked, beaten up and even arrested many times. Her auto has been destroyed many times. She however holds out against all these attacks along with her husband and still drives her auto in Edattu, though she is socially ostracized and can hardly make her ends meet. On February 23rd 2015, she ended a 122 day-and-night strike in front of the Kannur Secretariat. This was after the Chief Minister assured her in writing that she would be compensated with a piece of land in Kannur and that all the false cases against her and husband would be withdrawn She says ”Everyone has to see how in spite of having no resources I am struggling hard to bring up my children and to give them an education. It is not me who is to blame. It is the people who are attacking me in this cruel manner who are to be punished. If you keep blaming me like this, it is only to hide the criminal acts that are happening. The people against whom I have registered cases have to be punished. The society should also understand my situation and stand by me in my struggle against CITU/ CPM. This is what I have to say.”

March 15th, 2015, Ongoing Struggle to Have a Dalit Chief Minister in Karnataka

Janandolana for Dalit Chief Minister, a conglomeration of 50 groups representing various Dalit communities, demanded the Congress high command to replace Chief Minister Siddaramaiah with a Dalit candidate. Addressing a media conference at Reporters’ Guild here on Sunday, K. Shivaram and N. Murthy, the leaders of the Janandolana, alleged that the Dalits had been systematically kept out of power even 68 years after the Independence. They also blamed Congress for using Dalit and minority communities as its vote-bank and depriving them of enjoying power. “Lingayat leaders ruled the state as Chief Ministers for 23 years, Vakkaliga leaders for 18 years, Brahman leaders for 8.5 years. The leaders of other numerically smaller communities could also become chief ministers. However, the leaders of Dalit and minority communities which are relatively bigger in terms of numerical size have not assumed power as chief minister owing largely to systematic conspiracies,” N Murthy charged. K. Shivaram, former IAS officer and leader of Chalavadi Mahasabha, alleged that Dalit leaders were systematically sidelined and deprived of Chief Minister post despite they led Congress to power in many assembly polls. “There are many able leaders in Dalit community, such as Mallikarjun Kharge, G. Parameshwar, K.H. Muniyappa, Motamma, Anjaneya, who can efficiently lead the state as Chief Minister on the path of development. Our campaign is not for any one particular leader. We want the Congress high command to choose any one Dalit leader for the post,” he clarified. MARCH TO NEW DELHI: The leaders announced that over 10,000 Dalits would march to Delhi for pressurising the Congress high command to make a Dalit leader chief minister of Karnataka. “If our demand is ignored, all Dalit groups will work against Congress right away in all coming elections. We will ensure that Congress will be reduced to politically irrelevant as Aam Aadmi Party uprooted its base in Delhi,” Murhty warned.

Mar 19th, 2015 - Mar 21st, 2015, First Global Conference on Dalit Rights

The International Commission for Dalit Rights (ICDR) and the Global Conference Organizing Committee (GCOC), a host of participating universities, foundations, along with Dalit and Amebedakarite organizations from the USA, Canada, Europe, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other caste-affected countries, are pleased to announce the forthcoming 1st Global Conference on Defending Dalit Rights. The conference is set to occur on the campus of Trinity Washington University in northeast Washington, D.C., just blocks away from the U.S. Capitol Building, on March 19-21, 2015.

November 29th, 2015, Dalit, Queer and Proud at Delhi Pride

On 29th November 2015, three young queer Dalits changed the face the Delhi queer pride. Dhrubo Jyoti, a journalist, Akhil Khang, a lawyer and Dhiren Borisa, a doctoral student, held up beautiful signs that they had painted. The signs summarized in three powerful words, " Dalit, Queer, Proud". In one extraordinary moment, both their Dalit and the Queer identities were visibilized and celebrated.Their assertion also dealt a blow to upper caste hegemony over Queer spaces like the Delhi Pride. In reality, poor and especially trans and genderqueer Dalitbahujan contributions surpass upper caste efforts at queer liberation. They are the ones who create queer communities, protest enmasse and bear the brunt of the beatings, torture, rape and murders by society and the state. The criminalizing of the lives of queer folks through oppressive acts like the Section 377 (colonial anti-homosexuality law) also disproportionately affects poor, queer Dalitbahujan individuals, who cannot afford the price of privacy or rely on sex work for a living. The prides in major cities however, had become reflective of upper caste queer activism whose proponents have strived to create "caste-less" spaces to dissociate queerness from caste. In Dhrubo's pride speech, he states his reply to an upper caste individual asking him why Dalits felt the need to "bring caste into everything". Dhrubo replies " We bring caste up because caste is everywhere and in my everything, Caste is in my shirt, Caste is in my pant, Caste is in my sex, Caste is in my being and Caste is in every part of you too!" Together, their compelling Pride statement affirmed that the invisibilization of caste, erased Dalitbahujan struggles, history and identity Their statement was not met without hostility. The majority of dominant castes accused them of derailing conversations of queerness with caste, but they made clear their position was one that was not posing to ease upper caste fragility but one that would help nurture inclusion. They continue to engage by being conscious of their own privileges, by being a part of the interrogation of power structures and by opposing the prevailing silence around caste and queerness that shames Dalit queer folk into silence.

January 17th, 2016, Rohith Vemula

ROHITH VEMULA was a research scholar at the University of Hyderabad (UoH). In Life he inspired through his activism and in the wake of his institutional murder has now come to symbolize Dalit Bahujan and adivasi revolution in India. months of sparring with ABVP groups on campus led to rohith and 4 other dalit students being unfairly suspended in a casteist hearing by the UOH Administration. Significantly the basis of the student's suspension was the involvement of the Minister of Human developments condemnation that their anti-caste organizing was in fact anti-national. In protest, they camped outside the hostel in an area they termed “Velivada” (Dalit ghetto). The toll of being politically targeted by the administration for his activism and with the increasing burdens of his scholarly and financial loses led to him tragically taking his life. In his poignant note he wrote “The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of stardust.” The loss of a brilliant young man , enraged the campus, the nation and the world. And has created a vibrant new movement asking for the end of caste apartheid and the passing of a Rohith Act to protect marginalized students on campus. #JusticeforRohith

March 29th, 2016, Delta Meghwal

On 29 March 2016, a young Dalit woman, 17 year old Delta Meghwal, was raped and murdered in her college in Nokha, Bikaner in the Western state of Rajasthan.Meghwal's body was found in a water tank of the Jain Adarsh Teacher Training Institute for girls where she was a student. In the First Information Report lodged by her parents it was stated that she called them on March 28 informing them she had been raped by her physical education teacher. It was also reported that she was subjected to caste abuse by her hostel warden who sent her to clean the physical education teacher's room who subsequently raped and killed her. Her death came at the wake of Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder just 2 months before and people were enraged. Delta Meghwal was the daughter of a school teacher and a resident of Trimohi village of Barmer district in Rajasthan. She was named Delta by her father who had named her for the rich and fertile plains envisioning her intelligence and prosperity. Her case has been transferred to the CBI but has still not seen any progress. Her parents and community continue to see no justice.

June 14th, 2016, The California Textbook Battle-Including Caste in the Curriculum

Every six years the State of California’s Board of Education submits its frameworks for History-Social Science, Mathematics, and Science for review to the public. These frameworks then go onto inform textbook publishers who will write to these frameworks. It is a multi-year process with time for the public to comment on the draft frameworks. The process for this round of History-Social Science started in early 2015. During this period, they receive thousands of public comments. State Department of Education liaisons are tasked with reviewing these comments and determining which ones addressed specific suggested changes to the text of the proposed framework. An alliance — led by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), and including the Uberoi Foundation for Religious Studies, Hindu Education Foundation, and the Dharma Civilization Foundation (DCF) have manipulated this process and flattened nuanced understandings of history just to mobilize their supporters. They worked to ensure that Hindu nationalist revisionism already seen in India, extend to California’s history curriculum frameworks. Amongst their edits were those attempting to erase the term ‘Dalit’ and the origins of the caste system in Hinduism; obscure the origins of Sikhs and Ravidassias in resisting caste oppression; claim that ‘ancient India’ is a sufficient term to refer to the entire South Asian subcontinent; and undermine the long-established and syncretic nature of Islam in South Asia. In response to this a group of interfaith, intercaste members of South Asian origin formed The South Asian Histories for All (SAHFA) Coalition. This coalition was heavily represented and led by the Ravidassias of the West Coast, Dalit women and Muslim organizations like the Indian American Muslim Council. They organized for powerful testimonies from 80+ diverse interfaith members carried in front of the State committee and vowed to continue the struggle against Islamophobia, recognition of all South Asian identities, and content that does not reflect the historical record. The outcome of their work was big wins with the California curriculum body accepting edits by scholars of Islam, reaffirming caste has religious basis, allowing for the appropriate use of the term “South Asia” but keeping ‘ancient India’ .

July 18th, 2016, "Your mother? You remove it !" - An Unprecedented Protest in Gujarat

On July 11th 2016, 4 young Dalit men were publicly assaulted and humiliated because they were engaged in performing the only means of livelihood available to them in the Hindu society, which is to skin dead cows for leather at the behest of the oppressor caste cattle owners. Cow vigilants stripped them half naked, assaulted them very brutally with iron rods. With their hands tied behind a car, they were paraded in Una city. Despite extensive laws against such casteism, all of those vigilantes are free. What’s worse, is that these saffron terrorists had the audacity to record the whole horrible physical abuse and share it widely on social media. Following this incident, Dalits in the area, dumped hundreds of dead cows in front of administrative offices across the state and told the officers - “She’s YOUR mother right? You dispose of it. We are not going to do this for you anymore!”. This was an unprecedented protest and assertion from Dalit communities in Gujarat

Aug 1st, 2016 - Aug 15th, 2016, Dalit Asmita Yatra

On July 11th 2016, 4 young Dalit men were publicly assaulted and humiliated because they were engaged in performing the only means of livelihood available to them in the Hindu society, which is to skin dead cows for leather at the behest of the oppressor caste cattle owners. Cow vigilants stripped them half naked, assaulted them very brutally with iron rods. With their hands tied behind a car, they were paraded in Una city. Despite extensive laws against such casteism, all of those vigilantes are free. What’s worse, is that these saffron terrorists had the audacity to record the whole horrible physical abuse and share it widely on social media. Following this incident, Dalits in the area, dumped hundreds of dead cows in front of administrative offices across the state and told the officers - “She’s YOUR mother right? You dispose of it. We are not going to do this for you anymore!”. This was an unprecedented protest and assertion from Dalit communities in Gujarat. Soon after, one of the largest movements against caste occurred. Dalits viewing the Gujarat government as having tried to pit Dalits against Muslims to ensure upper-caste hegemony. As communities that are most affected by cow vigilantism decided to come together to do a 15-day March across the state from Una to Ahmedabad from August 1-15 2016. Despite the constantly threatening upper caste opposition, real retaliatory violence, police firing and other challenges, Dalits and Muslims marched on. The yatra was unique in many ways. It was spontaneous, with a publicly stated non-violent approach. It had no political affiliation. Ordinary people supported it in large numbers, with meetings held in villages en route where local participation was spontaneous. There were no celebrity leaders or speakers. Undertaken on a shoestring budget, it had several groups coming together — trade unions, Dalit Sangharsh Samitis, workers’ unions, youth groups and individuals. Participants came from all over India and Dalit leaders from Punjab, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana joined in.

April 2nd,  2018 Bharat Bandh

The apex court’s verdict is seen as diluting the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, which protects the marginalised communities against discrimination and atrocities. The order has sparked fears that it would lead to increased discrimination against the STs and SCs.
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