Thursday, October 23, 2008

A voice against Social Exclusion, Religious Marginalization and Communal Fascism

NAFRE Jan Andolan (National Alliance for Fundamental Right to Education - People's Movement), had organized an All India consultation on 'Social exclusion, Religious marginalization and communal fascism' at Bangalore from 13th October, till 15th October, 08.

The purpose of this consultation is to examine in detail the historical origin, machination of the politics of Social Exclusion and Religious Marginalization. As an outcome, NAFRE – Jan Andolan has come out with a declaration on this topic.

The socio-economic, cultural relation in the Indian sub-continent has undergone a sea-change in the post-independence era in favour of the rich and the powerful. While the Indian economy said to be doing very well – the people are not – particularly the marginalized! The simple reason is that the basic structure and discriminatory character of the Indian society remains unchanged. As a result, vast majority of the marginalized communities are excluded from access to power and resources and are denied their full rights as human beings.

The phenomena of social exclusion, religious marginalization and communal fascism have emerged as serious challenge to all those who are struggling to create an egalitarian society. Debate and discussion on inequalities itself is diminishing in the society today. In fact, more effort goes into rationalizing inequalities than in discussing how equality might be achieved.

In order to facilitate a serious public debate and to bring the issue of Social Exclusion to the centre stage, NAFRE Jan Andholan had organized a 3 day All India Consultation at Bangalore from 13th-15th October 2008. The intent was to bring communities and activists together to re-affirm the faith in building an egalitarian society and collectively evolve an agenda to work toward social and economic equality.

The three day consultation witnessed participation from NAFRE representatives as well as resource persons well versed in the field - Eknath Awad, Prof. Kancha Ilaiah Braj Ranjan Mani, Aloysius, Mohammad Siraz, Cynthia Stephen, to name a few.

Inaugurating the consultation, Eknath Awad, Convener, BHA (Baal Haq Abhiyaan) made a fervent appeal to the participants not to look at the manifestations in the society, but the root causes of inequalities. The country is confronted with lack of alternate political model and emphasized that the victims of caste, religious, gender discriminations should come together to challenge the existing social order.

In his key note speech, Prof. Kancha Ilaiah, author of several books and columnists in several dailies, analyzed the atrocities and violences – particularly against the minorities in Orissa, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh observed that the Indian society is in the midst of a civil war-like situation and every one need to be prepared for the same and said that without a civil war, true freedom, independence and equality is not possible. There is no social democracy (all men/women are equal) in Hindu religion. Annihilation of Hinduism, rejection of Sanskrit-based vernacular languages is pre-conditions for the war. He suggested that state funded, quality education would lead to rational thinking and eventually will lead to establishing a just society.

Braj Ranjan Mani
, author analyzed how Brahminism established oppressive and discriminatory knowledge system in Indian society, which he termed it as 'knowledge based violence'. The dominant class later consolidated themselves in power and had the power to 'produce and reproduce knowledge'. He also pointed out that the historical construct is antithetical to the marginalized community perspective. The need of the hour is to work towards bringing 'Emancipatory Education', or Egalitarian Education' to challenge the dominant construct.

Aloysius, a well-known author
spoke on Nation, Nationalism, Caste and Hinduism highlighted that the Indian polity is fundamentally 'Brahminical'. He pointed out the Brahminical mind-set that was existing at the time of the Independence movement. The leadership looked at the Independence movement from a culture/nationalist view, rather than from viewing it from the perspective of political representation and equal rights for citizens. The Hindu mindset further reinforced the belief 'men are born differently and therefore should be treated differently' and this was consciously constructed as the modern ideology. Without equal citizenship, one can not call India as a nation.

Mohammad Siraz, Writer
and an Activist analyzed Indian history and pointed out how history has been brahminized and distorted in favour of the Hindu majority and at the same time portraying the indigenous converts (minorities) as 'invaders, outsiders'. He also said that India is not a nation; it is a multi-nation and is in the process of evolving as a nation. Brahminical mindset of – identifying sources or power and appropriating power' need to be challenged.

Senior Advocate and Social Activist Mohan Kumar analyzed the current situation in the pretext of Brahmanism and Imperialism in the realm of Communalism in Orissa and Karnataka

Anton Gomes
, Coastal activist spoke of how the fishing community in the Indian coastal is completely excluded due to Indian politics and the impact of CMZ on the livelihood of the fishing community.

, Tribal activist discussed about the denial of rights to adivasis and the issue of displacement and its impact on the community.

Arun Kumar
spoke about the impact of Brahmanism and Imperialism on education and how it has permeated into the education system. He discussed how the impact must be seen In terms of class room interactions, teacher training, syllabi, curricula etc.

The consultation was concluded with a declaration that lays emphasis on the belief that it is necessary to establish a democratic society based on the culture of Justice, Equality, Liberty and Fraternity, as envisioned by Buddha, Mahatma Jyothi Rao Phule E.V.R.Peryaar, and Baba saheb Ambedkar. The declaration analyses how hegemonic ideology is born out of the segregation of society into various unequal social groups with graded inequalities and functions through structured institutions like Caste, Patriarchy, Religion and Nation State. It also recognizes the value of indigenous cultural streams and how they have promoted the Dignity of Individuals and Community and belief in non-exploitative and non-hegemonic cultural fabric for thousands of years. It further analyses the institutions of family, caste, religion, culture, politics where women from various social strata are subjugated to different levels of discrimination. It identifies that the sectarian politics and its culture of intolerance have already played havoc, more so in the post-independence period by unleashing communal tensions, wars where loss of life and blood shedding has seriously broken the canvass of cultural harmony resulting in communal fascism. It also recognises the fact that today development policies like SEZ, CMZ, all round privatization have further marginalized and excluded the historically disadvantaged communities, and imposed acute conditions of human existence (malnutrition, suicide and hunger deaths), livelihood crisis, deprived human development, forced migration, large scale displacement, etc. All of this also has an impact on children and the future of a truly egalitarian society lies in the holistic growth of our children by creating a just and secure environment for them.

The declaration finally recalls the struggles that innumerable leaders like Jyothiba Phule, Narayanguru, Ayothidas Pandithar, Periyar EVR, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Paditha.Ramabai, Rettamalai Srinivasan, have waged for the emancipation of the indigenous people of this country. With this declaration the concludes with members resolving to re-dedicate themselves to take forward the struggle of the indigenous communities and to bring an end all forms of domination, oppression, exploitation and to achieve human liberation.

Dr. Lenin
is executive committee member of Voice of People(VOP),which is allinace member of NAFRE for UP state
Dr. Lenin (Ashoka Fellow and 2007 Gwanju Human Rights Awardee)
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