B. R. Ambedkar

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was an Indian economist, politician and social reformer. He was also known as Babasaheb Ambedkar. He campaigned against social discrimination against the lower castes or Dalits of the country. Completing his doctorate from Columbia University and The London School of Economics, he gained reputation as a scholar for his research in economics, law and political science.

In the early phases of his career, he was an economist, professor and lawyer. Towards the later phases, he was actively involved in campaigns for India’s independence. He published journals and advocated for political and social rights for Dalits. He made a significant contribution to the establishment of the state of India. He was the first Minister of Law and Justice of India and the chief architect of the Constitution of India.

He had a Marathi family background and was from the town of Ambadawe in Ratnagiri district of modern-day Maharashtra. Ambedkar was born into a poor Mahar (Dalit caste), who were treated as untouchables and faced a lot of socio-economic discrimination. Although he attended school, Ambedkar and other untouchable children were segregated from the rest of the children and given little attention by teachers. They were not even allowed to sit inside the class. He had to sit on a gunny sack which he took home after school. When they needed to drink water, someone from a higher caste had to pour that water from a height as they were not allowed to touch the water vessel. It was usually the peon who did this for him and on days when the peon was not available, he had to go without water. He had later described this as “No peon, No water” in one of his writings.

During British rule, Ambedkar’s effort for the political representation of the oppressed untouchables of India bore fruit in the 1920s. The colonial state was forced to include two members from among the Dalits in the Round Table Conference in 1930. This eventually led to the framing of the Government of India Act, 1935.

From 1927, Ambedkar launched active movements against untouchability. He began public movements and marches to open up public drinking water resources for all. He led a satyagraha in Mahad to fight for the right of the untouchable community to draw water from the main water tank of the town. He also began a struggle for the right of Dalits to enter Hindu temples. In a conference in1927, Ambedkar publicly condemned the Hindu text Manusmriti (Laws of Manu), for ideologically justifying caste discrimination and “untouchability”. He ceremonially burned copies of the ancient text. On 25th December 1927, he led thousands of followers to burn copies of Manusmrti. Since then 25 December is celebrated as Manusmriti Dahan Din (Manusmriti Burning Day) by Ambedkarites and Dalits.

In 1956, he converted to Buddhism, initiating mass conversions of Dalits which eventually led to the Dalit-Buddhist movement.

A few days after completing his final manuscript ‘The Buddha and His Dhamma’, he died in his sleep on 6 December 1956 at his home in Delhi.

The Casteless Collective

The Casteless Collective is a Chennai based Tamil indie band. The band currently consists of 19 members including Tenma (leader and music producer), singers Muthu, Bala Chandar,  Isaivani,  Arivu and Chellamuthu, Dharani (Dholak), Sarath (Satti), Gautham (Katta molam), Nandan (Parai and Tavil), Manu Krishnan (drums) and Sahib Singh (guitar).  

Formed in the year 2017, the band was started by Pa. Ranjith and Tamil Indie Musician and Composer, Tenma, founder of Madras Records. The band’s name originated from the phrase ‘Jaathi Illadha Tamizhargal’ which was coined by the 19th century anti caste activist C. Iyothee Thass. He was a social activist who urged Dalits across Tamil Nadu to register themselves as Tamils without caste in the first Census in 1871. The band makes music to protest and rebel against the age-old caste-based discrimination and violence. Their songs are political which speaks against the inequalities of the caste system and oppression of women and minorities in Tamil Nadu.  

The leader and music producer of the band, Tenma was preparing to put together a group of indie musical artists for the Madras Indie Collective in 2017 when he got the idea from Pa. Ranjith, of training Gaana musicians for it. They prepared auditions for over 150 applicants and looked for artists who had a socio-political motivation in their lives as well as musical strengths. A mixture of Gaana, hip hop, rap and folk musicians were brought together. About 19 singers were selected for the initial ensemble.    

It has broken caste boundaries by engaging with the current social and political issues in the state. Instead of making music for entertainment alone the band has tried to eradicate discrimination through its music. Their main intention is “to create political awareness through music and art” because “art which makes us question discomfort is beautiful”. The band is a collective without caste which aims to eradicate caste based and religious discrimination through music.  

Jai Bhim Anthem (2018), Quota (2018), Magizhchi (2018), Vada Chennai (2018), Thalaiva (2019), Dabba Dabba (2019) are popular singles of the band.

The Casteless Collective had their very first concert on January 2018 in Chennai. It was their first performance in front of more than 4000 people. The 19 members including one female artist, all dressed in identical grey suits gave a wonderful performance. Their cries of “Jai Bhim!” were greeted with thunderous applause. They had not expected such a big enthusiastic crowd and it was a very emotional experience for all of them. This was also because most of the artists came from small backgrounds and they had mostly performed in one or two funeral processions. The instrumentalists who played katte and chatti were really overwhelmed as these instruments were restricted to only funeral events. 

It was not a concert that had people head-banging or jumping to the beat of drums. Instead, the audience listened to the songs with rapt attention. They broke into applause and shouts of agreement whenever the lyrics hit home. The Bhim Rap, a song on BR Ambedkar’s life and work, was met with a very enthusiastic reception. So was the Rap song that condemned honour killings in the name of caste and caste pride which was a major social evil in Tamil Nadu. Another popular track, Madrasin Magizhchi, spoke about the small joys of living in Madras, despite being poor.  

They say that people often ask them about the song lyrics and the stories about their experiences, so a discussion has begun. The band believes that social problems cannot be solved unless it is spoken about. Without discussions around caste-based discrimination one cannot attempt to eradicate the social evil. Their songs have already fulfilled their aim and created a stir among people. We hope that the band achieves greater heights and reaches out to everyone out there who has been a victim of caste discrimination and that it becomes successful in eradicating the malpractices of the system. 

Indian Folk Art

India has always been portrayed as a land of cultural and traditional diversity. Every corner of the country has a distinctive cultural identity which is represented through different art forms. These art forms can be collectively put under the topic of Indian Folk Art. Each region has a different style and pattern of art which is practised by the rural folks. These art forms are colourful, simple and reflect the rich heritage. The country is home to around 2500 tribes and ethnic groups. So every state has a unique and interesting form of folk art.

Previously these were done using natural dyes and mostly used for decorating walls and houses. These forms which still exist today, have undergone many changes through all these years including change of medium, colours and pattern. Here are such art forms which give us a peek into the cultural heritage of different regions of the country.

MADHUBANI

Madhubani, also known as Mithila art, was developed by women of Mithila in Northern Bihar. It is characterised by line drawings, colourful patterns and motives. These were practised for hundreds of years but were discovered in 1934 by a British collonial officer during an inspection after an earthquake on house walls.

PATACHITRA

The word ‘patachitra’ derives from the Sanskrit words patta, meaning canvas and chitra, meaning picture. It is one of the oldest art forms of Odisha. It is done on canvas and portrays simple mythological themes through rich colours and motives. Some of the themes include Thia Badhia – depicting the temple of Jagannath, and Panchamukhi – depicting Lord Ganesh as a five-headed deity.

WARLI

Warli is the name of cultivator tribes belonging to Northern Maharashtra and Gujarat. Though discovered in early seventies, the roots of the art form can be traced back to as early as 10th century A.D. Mostly featuring geometrical shapes, they potray daily life, hunting, fishing and festival scenes. They show a common human figure through a circle and two triangles, which move in circles resembling the circle of life.

RAJASTHANI MINIATURE PAINTING

The art form is introduced by Mughals who brought in persian artists for creating the art. The Mughal emperor Akbar built an atelier for them to promote the artwork. They trained Indian artists who produced it in a new style inspired by the royal lives of Mughals. Eventually the paintings made by these Indian artists came to be known as Rajput or Rajasthani miniature. They are characterized by strong lines and bold colours made from minerals, precious stones, even pure gold and silver.

TANJORE ART

Orijinating in Tanjavore, about 300kms from Chennai, this art form evolved under the rulers of the Chola empire. Characterized by brilliant colour schemes, decorative jewellery with stones and remarkable gold leaf work, these paintings mostly consist themes of gods and goddesses.

KALAMEZUTHU

Simmilar to Rangoli and Kolam, this art form originated in Kerala. It mostly consists of the representation of deities like Kali and Lord Ayyappa on temple floors. Natural pigments and powders of mostly 5 colours are used by the makers and the art is done by bare fingers without the use of any tools. The 5 colour shades are made from natural pigments like – rice powder for white, burnt husk for black, turmeric for yellow, a mixture of lime and turmeric for red and the leaves of certain trees for green. Lighted oil lamps brighten the colours in the figures which usually feature anger or other emotions.

Politics and Life

Educating the promises of tomorrow regarding politics in the society.

Human beings are social beings. Being a social being, I strongly believe one’s life has to indulge with politics or politics will definitely cross paths with theirs.

No one is born with full fledged  knowledge about the politics of the world. Knowledge in these matters arise from social interactions, which could and should be nurtured at a young age through healthy mediums.

Hindering the promises of tomorrow in this aspect is no different than digging an immaculate grave for all of us. In all honesty, I’d rather be informed than ignorant!

The very generation that is bound to take over in a decade’s time are often found ignorant and ill- informed about what’s what in this ever evolving world. I don’t advocate upon political affairs being sternly exposed  to such individuals. But rather the mere essence of it will equip them of the basic knowledge required to sustain their life in a society.

Without an apt source for educating them about the order and history of politics and its relevance, these young minds wouldn’t have an authentic source for learning much about it; and will grow up as idealists. 

Easily influenced by the ideals of their acquaintances and their families making them unable to have an identity of their own. 

Being an individual, the need for having a personal understanding and stand has been outright frowned upon at times.

The world is indeed a cruel place, more often than not such unnecessary restrictions  leaves them unaware of the harsh realities of life in a society. Catering to such needs will not only save them from making a laughingstock of themselves but would rather provide for a better tomorrow to one and all. 

With the forward pouncing of most aspects of society- socially, politically and economically; more and more younger individuals are growing unaware of the nuances of the world. Making the need for educating about the same more perennial than ever.

It’ll also aid an individual blossom into a being, fully aware of the concepts of the society and might even strike an interest towards it. Making them the much needed change amongst around the ones who lead a society.

A generation sound with a strong foundation of the workings of the public domain.

Change is the only constant and those who dare to stand in the way shall not prosper. For revolution is impersonal.

INDIAN SCENARIO OF CHILD ABUSE

In a nation wide survey on child abuse across 13 states of India report released in 2007 by Ministry of Women and child development Government of India in which 12447 children participated, more than half, 53.22% subjected to one or more forms of sexual abuse. The age wise distribution showed abuse started at 5,gained momentum 10 years onwards, peaking at 12 to 15 years. In 9 out of 13 states reported higher percentage of sexual abuse in boys as compared to girls, Delhi reporting a figure of 65.64% boys. Children at work faced the highest at 61.61%.Out of the total children interviewed 20.90% were subjected to Severe form including sexual assault. Preadolescent to Adolescent children seemed to be more at risk of suffering Severe form. It was also distributing to note that age 6 to 10 years also face severe form of sexual abuse.

Assam, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar reported maximum sexual abuse. There is no legislation on child physical abuse but its moral duty of all adults to report the abuse and stop further harm to the child.

Child sexual abuse is a Universal problem with grave life long outcomes. Is a complex life experience, not a diagnosis or a disorder. An array of sexual activities is covered by the term CSA.

After the enactment of the new law “Protection of child against sexual offences (POCSO) Act 2012” the concept and management of child sexual abuse (CSA) in India has changed a lot safeguarding best interest of the child in every respect at each step including rehabilitation, compensation and all legal procedure.

This law applies to all persons up to 18 years of age, is gender neutral, gives set of guidelines for all the stakeholders to perform their role as even the maintaining silence to allow sexual abuse to happen to the child is a crime and punishable offence under the law of the land, law of the land does not allow consensual sex to any person under 18 years of age, there is provision of mandatory reporting to the police under the Act.

The first step towards prevention is awareness and save the child from further abuse. Hence, stringent measures should be taken for the prevention and control of this hidden public health issue.

The abuser can be of any age, gender and socio – economic class, at times can be a family member. Sexual abuse may not be necessarily penetration, force, pain, or even touching. Most sexual abusers know the child they abuse.

World wide reports have indicated boys are equally abused as girls and have suggested that protective shield should be provided not only to the girls but also to the boys right since they are born. Children can be sexually abused even by their lawful guardians.

New Media And Reporting Gender Based Violence

Trigger Warning: Mention of Rape and Sexual Assault

New Media has also changed the style of journalism, such as the rise of online journalism, where facts, information, and reports are produced and distributed through the internet. News in the New Media era is enabled to spread more widely and rapidly. News content is now enriched by lots of digital elements such as images, embed videos, comment box. These elements make the information presented becomes more attractive. One of the salient characters of online journalism is its dependency on speed in delivering information. When we talk about the emerging trends in media, we cannot afford to overlook the role of online media in changing the scenario in the context of women’s issues. The content that the online media produces reflects the pattern of value the society. The prevailing attitude of society gets revealed through the way subjects dealing with women are treated by the media (Arpita Sharma, 2012). 

Media has the choice of acting as both, a protagonist and as a perpetrator-it can either reinforce the gender-based discrimination by portraying sensational and stereotypical images of women or it can provide balanced reportage that empowers women and not degrades them while exposing acts of gender-based violence. Rape cases and sexual assault cases are not a recent trend in the society but sensitive reportage and wide coverage by media while also bringing these issues forefront are relatively very new. 

Gender-based violence or GBV is violence that is directed against a person because of their gender. Both women and men experience GBV but the majority of victims are women and girls. GBV and violence against women are terms that are synonymous as it is widely acknowledged that most gender-based violence is inflicted on women and girls, by men. The issue of GBV reaches every corner of the world. The numbers of women and girls affected by this problem are shocking. According to the World Health Organization’s data from 2013, one in every three women has been beaten, compelled into sex or are abused. One in five women is sexually abused as a child, according to a 2014 report.

In coverage of GVB, several stereotypes are often perpetuated by the new media. These include that rape is similar to sex, that the assailant is motivated by female lust, that the assailant is perverted, crazy or a monster, that the woman provokes rape or assault, and that only women are only victims. Scholars have found that these stereotypes and myths are pervasive in media coverage of rape and assault cases. Not only the language and the framing of the headlines but also the visuals used in the articles regarding GVB play an important role in the general perception of these issues.

In Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media (UNESCO, 2012), under Category B- Gender Portrayal In Media Content, B1.5- Strategic Objective 5 states the indicators for the coverage of gender-based violence. Three of them are-

  1. Use of non-judgmental language, distinguishing between consensual sexual activity and criminal acts, and taking care not to blame the victim/survivor for the crime 

2. Use of the term ‘survivor’ rather than ‘victim’ unless the violence-affected person uses the latter term or has not survived 

3. Use of background information and statistics to present gender-based violence as a societal problem rather than as an individual, personal tragedy 

Terms such as ‘victim’ or ‘survivor’ are often used to describe individuals who undergo these experiences. The term ‘victim’ reiterates feelings of helplessness and lack of female agency, while the term survivor connotes a sense of strength and resilience. However, the affected person should have a say in what to refer them as. The ‘victim’ terminology limits individual self-agency and identity. It is important to note that experiences of violence do not define the individual, but rather are a piece of a larger self-identity. Such labels focus on experiences of violence and presuppose an individual’s inability to change or undergo any personal development to transform their identity into a peaceful, empowered personality. 

Images of sexual violence in the media often depicts women as covering their face, being silenced by looming hands, teary faces, large shadows near the woman, are some of the visual examples. These images not only fuel the stereotypes of women as helpless and weak, but also these images are also extremely triggering for the survivors of sexual assault and rape. 

When media reports women who have been assaulted or raped as nothing but victims, society can disengage and fail to take the issue as a broader societal issue and fail to take responsibility for any individual or group action to change it. It is crucial then for journalists to report on GBV in an informed way and to have a good theoretical understanding of the roots of these gender based violence’s and what needs to change in society. Otherwise, they can do harm by perpetuating patriarchal stereotypes and falsehoods. 

India: A country of a billion dreams and flaws.

India a country representing diversity in it’s name and everything for which it stands for. The world’s biggest democracy, seventh largest country in terms of area and one of the biggest military power in the whole world with Indian nationals and persons of Indian origin excelling in each and every field around the world. But what about it’s status as economy and a country with some stance around the world. Well as we know there will always be two sides to the same coin so we can definitely say this that in this era the golden peacock named India is somehow chained with a leash due to which it is unable to reach it’s horizons and limits which it once touched as that epitome of a success and prosperity in the history of mankind. So let’s talk about those leashes first as such to be honest there are many and we all know about them but we still ignore them as ranging from brain drain to corruption to heavy imports to reservation and lack of so called attachment to ones mother land. Let’s start with brain drain and the education system of India well as the whole world knows that India is the biggest producer of a lot of brilliant minds who are present in these centuries for example Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella, Dhivya Suryadevara, Indra Nooyi to vikram Seth and and many more if you are all wondering why are these people are here that’s because these people are all the result of brain drain caused by India’s callousness for it’s ginormous talent which is getting neglected or supplied to other countries. So if you are wondering what leads to this brain drain there are a lot of things which leads to brain drain starting from reservations to lack of diversity in the employment sector and the massive lacking of celebration of real talent in academics or other category ranging from sports to artistry to what not, as Indian Education only cares about the so called science student or in a better manner a student who is good in mathematics as in here we never get a choice to choose of which line we wanna pursue as students or aspirants but generally chosen by our teachers, relatives or in worst case by our neighbors or the so called ,”mohale wale aunty”. Secondly is the lack of creativity and the admiration of differences at the school level too which creates a lot of dilemma in a students mind and added to that the discrimination on the basis of gender doesn’t help at all. After this comes the fleeting issues of corruption and lack of dedication towards the country as citizen or not, still living here or not living here it doesn’t matter this soil is responsible for granting us the soul with which we stand up and go to live our life everyday so we should always dedicate some parts of us towards the betterment of this country at all times. Next comes the biggest issue of economy . India is such a massive country with such a massive population that every country’s main goal is to export to India as we all know it’s the biggest open market and as we all know we love buying things non Indian don’t we, as nobody likes to support a local deep fried business but everybody supports KFC then again after all the things China has done to us there are around crores and crores of people who still use tik tok in India and also brag about there Xiaomi or Realme smart phones that also the youth mass that’s something which we should change because it’s not only a streak of shame on us but on our whole subcontinent. Then the massive presence of militant patriarchy and lack of understanding of what westernisation actually means as we to be developed right now we need to get rid of everything we once thought is right for me or you and start thinking about whats right for us. So as we being sons and daughter of that mother India living here or not it doesn’t matter but we should try making this small changes because a bigger change comes with a beginning of an act which defines our motive and aim. So as that being said, “change starts with you” so let’s do it not for us but for anybody in this world who was proud or who is proud or a least can be proud to say that he is of Indian origin. Jai hind.

Women in Indian Society

Through mythology and religious texts

Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of male as the primary authority is central. It refers to a system where men have authority over women, children and property. As an institution of male rule and privilege, patriarchy is dependent on female subordination. Historically, it has manifested itself in the social, legal, political, and economic institutions of different cultures. Literally meaning ‘rule of fathers’(Ferguson, 1048), the term ‘patriarchy’ was initially used to refer to autocratic rule by the male head of a family. However, in modem times, it more generally refers to social system in which power is primarily held by adult men. 

Majority of religions have contributed their bit to perpetuate patriarchal norms. With such beliefs instilled into cultural mindset, women scarcely stand a chance of gaining strength in this male-dominated world. Patriarchy is also manifest in family traditions and gets reinforced through practices such as women adopting the surname of their husbands and children too carrying their father’s last name. 

There is considerable ambiguity about the status of women in Indian society. Some sacred texts accord them an exalted status by stating that gods live where women are worshipped. In her various manifestations as Mother Goddess, namely Durga, Kali, Chandi, woman is believed to represent power or Shakti, and evoke both fear and reverence. She can protect and at the same time can also wreak vengeance. If pleased, she can fulfil every wish, but when annoyed, she can unleash unimaginable terror. Male gods at times find themselves helpless before her and cannot dare to intervene especially when she has decided to act as power incarnate. Most of her attributes are believed to be embedded in every woman. However, there is yet another profile of woman established by religious writings and folklore wherein she is believed to be fickle and fragile. She is represented as sensuous, tempting, given to falsehood, folly, greed, impurity, and also thoughtless action. She is also regarded as the root of all evil. It is because of her supposedly inconsistent character that she has to be kept under strict control. Being fragile, she needs protection at all stages of her life, for instance, in childhood by her father, in youth by her husband, and in old age, after the husband’s death, by her sons. As evident, these two images are contradictory. 

The patrilineal Hindu society expects a woman to have certain virtues, chastity being one of them. Before marriage, a woman is not allowed to think of any man in sexual terms. Secondly, she has to be a devout wife—the notion of Pati-Parmeshwar or ‘husband as God’ reigning supreme in the popular mindset. Women observe several fasts to ensure that they get the same husband life after life. Such fasts also include prayers for the long life of the husband, so that the wife does not have to undergo the ‘sufferings’ of widowhood. The infertility of a woman is considered a curse as in patrilineal groups she is expected to produce a son to continue the patriarchal lineage. 

Rammohan Roy stands out as the figure who took a firm stand against the practice of Sati. Sati was the custom through which a woman was condemned and pressurised by society to sacrifice her life by dying alongside her husband on his funeral pyre. Lata Mani in her book ‘Contentious Traditions- The Debate on Sati in Colonial India’, highlights that sati was not about whether the Vedic scriptures prescribed such self-immolation nor was it about the individual women’s wishes and desires. Rather, it was a part of the traditional behaviour that Indian women had internalised within themselves. Many of them saw it as an essential part of the ‘·’duty” expected from them as a good wife – to sacrifice her life in order that her husband could gain ultimate salvation. 

According to Hindu mythology, the Manusmriti is the word of Brahma, and it is classified as the most authoritative statement on Dharma. Manusmriti is considered as the divine code of conduct. Laws of Manu insist that since women by their very nature are disloyal they should be made dependent on men. The husband should be constantly worshipped as a God, which symbolized that man is a lord, master, owner, or provider and women were the subordinates. It legitimizes that a woman should never be made independent, as a daughter she should be under the surveillance of her father, as a wife of her husband and as a widow of her son (Chakravarti, 2006). While defending Manusmiriti, apologists often quote the verse: “yatr naryasto pojyantay, ramantay tatr devta”  that is “where women are provided place of honor, gods are pleased and reside there in that household”, but they deliberately forget the verses that are full of prejudice and hatred against women. 

These texts justify a woman’s inferior status in society. Each of these verses shows how the Brahmanical ideology reduces the character of a woman to the number of sexual partners she has, and her purpose as child-bearers. The obsession with knowing the lineage of offspring, virginity and the narrow definition of character led to the imposition of restrictions on women and artificially stunted their status. And much of this continues till today.

We celebrate Dussehra to mark the victory of ‘Good over Evil’, Navratri in the honour of nine Goddesses, Durga’s victory over the buffalo demon and worshiping Lakshmi on Diwali, we are decked up in festivities and celebrations. But do we really celebrate them? To find the answer to that question, you need to look no further than mythology and religious scriptures. It’s a clear indicator of what the fabric of society, its structure and norms would be like.  

The implementation of patriarchal norms and values depend to a great extent on the strength and weakness of control mechanisms. For instance, articulation of patriarchal values and the prescription of norms through religious texts command natural observance. At times, family honour is protected by wife-beating. It is all too visible in the lower classes, but also persists in upper strata of society. Even after six decades of independence, one frequently reads of bride burning and dowry deaths. Other forms of violence are: heaping indignities on the wife and her relations by the in-laws, making her do physical work beyond her capacity, failing to provide her adequate nutrition, and even torturing her mentally on several pretexts. Even highly educated and well-placed women are amenable to such maltreatment.