Mumbai ,July 22 : Bahujan Ambedkarite intellectual Suraj Yengde, a postdoctoral scholar at the Harvard University and an author of Caste Matters , along with the co-panellists Supriya Gaikwad, Disha Pinki Sheikh, Manjushree Kabade, Bhagyashree Boywad and Ujwala Pallewad had organised a discussion on “Future of Ambedkarite Movement is Secure in Non-Cis, Non-Heteropatriarchal Leadership” (Part 1) on July 22, 2020, which was streamed live on the Dhammachakra Facebook page of Jaipal Gaikwad , famous journalist of Maharashtra who also run the Buddhist website Dhammachakra.com
Suraj Yengde moderated the session by explaining the history of the Yuva Panther, the way Yuva Panther was founded 13 years ago, and how young people have transformed themselves into the Yuva Panther to take the Amedkarite movement ahead. He also illustrated that while the Yuva Panther was emerging, somehow women participation remain invisible therefore it is need of an hour that women leadership should come forward to led the Ambedkarite movement. And the future of the Ambedkar Movement lies in the leadership of women.
Supriya Gaikwad , Activist of Satyashodhak Mahila Aghadi and editor of Elgar, has expressed her view that success of the Ambedkarite movement and the movement for annihilation caste depends on participation of women and leadership of the women in the Ambedkarite movement. She also mentioned that when we look at the history of Ambedkarite movement, we see the participation of women in Babasaheb’s movement were in the lead. Under Babasaheb’s leadership, thousands of women had joined for the annihilation caste movement. Women were also actively participated in the freedom movement along with Gandhiji. In 1925, the communists started a class struggle movement, in that movement women participated and led the struggle.She further said that we can see that all this movement success cannot be possible without the participation of women. Babasaheb Ambedkar had also said that if a movement is to win, then the participation of women is necessary. Supriya Gaikwad highlighted that when you look at all these three movements, you will see that in all this movement, women have for the first time left their traditional way of thinking and participated in the movement. She raised the question that what happened after Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Mahaparinirvana, women are involved in the movement but they do not have the leadership.
Supriya Gaikwad said Kalaram temple movement of 1930 or the movement at Yeola, Dalit women were at led . She further elaborated that there was a movement on the issue of water in Yeola where the upper caste women did not allow Dalit women to fetch water from wells, it was led by Dalit women Sundarbai and Shevantai. When we take the Kalaram temple movement, Ramabai Ambedkar takes the lead along with 500 women, and in different places the movement was always led by women. The women who were leading the movement had social and political maturity. In 1942, Indira Patil an activist of the Scheduled Caste Woman Federation said that if you want to get rid of system of inequality of Hindu Dharma, you have to come out of the house and fight against the inequality. Sulekha Dongre, chairperson of the Scheduled caste Woman Federation Convocation, demanded that women should be represented in local and district level committees.
We have to look at the social system to understand why women were not given leadership even though they were participated in the Ambedkarite movement. When we talk about India, the three discriminatory systems exist i.e capitalism, caste system and the third is the patriarchal system. I think we have made a mistake here in the fight against the caste system that we have not given leadership to women. The caste system is not monolithic, it is linked to capitalism and patriarchy, so the participation of women is essential to fight for the eradication of caste. When we look at the Ambedkarite movement one can see women were participated in the movement but women were not given leadership. Various Dalit thinkers have expressed their views on this. The author “Abramhani Strivad” Abhinaya Kamble says that Dalit women were ideologically strong but they were not given leadership. They was ignored by the people of the Dalit movement. Abhinaya Kamble says that in the Dalit movement women were used as a herd but they were not given leadership, said Supriya Gaikwad.
Supriya Gaikwad further added that after the Dalit Panther different factions were formed, the Republican Party of India and all these fractions were led by men. She has given example of Ramabai Nagar Shooting case (1997)and Khairlanji Case (2006) where many women came forward against the cruelty without any leadership. She urged that Dalit-Adivasi women should be given leadership for successful Ambedkarite movement.
Bhagyashree Boywad , who is doing her post graduate studies at TISS Hyderabad and first dalit woman Chairperson of the TISS (Hyderabad) Student Council , said that women have been participated in the Ambedkarite Movement from the very beginning , women have actively participated in the Ambedkarite Movement and actively raise their issues. “I want to say about Dalit Woman that they are duly oppressed by institution, community and patriarchy among inside. People who are in the state,in decision making, they are the people of the high caste and they think that their views are high views they used to do decision making for all. How much Dalit women suffer does not even click in their mind. Dalit Women are more oppressed due to gender discrimination, social discrimination and due to Patriarchy,” She further added.
Dalit women should be given a space in the Ambedkarite Movement where they can come and share their views, any one should not make the pre-assumption that they are feminists , dalit hatter or dalit male hatter. When we talk about Ambedkarite Movement , we cannot ignore the gender discrimination. Gender discrimination and caste discrimination both are both interlinks. Even though Dalit woman actively participating in the Ambedkarite movement , leadership are not given to them.Talking about any political party even though they are having agenda of Dalit woman empowerment but nowhere leadership is given to the women. Dalit Women are more actively fighting against the casteism, gender inequality, patriarchy, for equal right, and for equal pay. When a Dalit woman writes autobiography, people ignore her saying that it was her personal experience and we cannot connect it to larger body. Talking about giving equal representation to Dalit women, we must give women higher education, give freedom of education, trust political leadership and we should try to make the movement stronger by trusting them.Babasaheb always said that I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieve.The Ambedkarite movement is not only fight against the casteism , it is also the fight against all kind of the injustice, Bhagyashree Boywad added.
Diksha Shaikh, a member of LGBTQIA community and the leader of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) , while sharing view on her association with the Ambedkarite Movement said that because of the Ambedkarite Movement, it changed the way she looked at herself and the society. Speaking further, she said that Namdev Dhasal is one of the few activists in the country who was at the forefront for the rights of the sex workers and transgender people in getting ration card because access to food is a basic human right.
The gender equality movement is the part of Ambedkarism and Ambedkarite movement should also be looked as gender equality movement, and not just the movement against the caste discrimination. If we do so, it will also incorporate the LGBT community. If we look at the Caste system, women of all four Varna i.e Brahmin , Kshatriya , Vaishya and Shudra are suffering from it. Women at the bottom of this Varna system appears to be more suffering from it. Dalit women are exploited many times more than the other high caste women. The LGBT community is more vulnerable compared to Dalit woman. The relation of the Ambedkarite movement to the LGBT community is close because when looking at the diameter of exploitation, the first Dalit woman is seen from the lower side. Only the Dalit movement can understand the pain of LGBT community because Dalit women have faced the social inequality and inequality in opportunity, Shaikh added.
Ujjwala Padalwar, a member of CPM Nanded , said that no movement can be successful without women participation and leadership. As Babasaheb Ambedkar said that “relationship of husband and wife must be like best friends, they should have equal right in the house and both must be open to take decision equally. Movement without women is like building a palace on a mound of mud and it can fall anytime”.
Babasaheb further believed that any movement cannot be successful without women participation. In the Ambedkarite movement, women and men need to come together. The caste system is based on women slavery, women are the gateway to the caste system and if the caste system is to be destroyed then women must come forward. Women should be free and she should be make decision of her life , decision of a leadership and this responsibility belongs to the entire Ambedkarite society and movement. Babasaheb’s first dream was to create a casteless society and if we wanted to create a casteless society then women must first be freed from slavery. Babasaheb also said that if we want to measure the progress of a community then we must measure the progress of women in that community, said Ujjwala Padalwar .
Manjushree Kabade said that women were used to main tain the caste system and women were first enslaved to keep the caste system intact.
The caste system and women slavery are both sides of the same coin and to end the of caste system women slavery must be abolished. If we look at the Ambedkarite movement after Babasaheb, the Dalit Panther had no female leaders and this needs to be considered while building Ambedkarite movement. People who are more oppressed should led the movement and same way women who are more oppressed should be led the movement, Manjushree Kabade added.
From this discussion, one can come to an understanding that there is a need of an hour that Ambedkarite men, women and sexual minorities must come together in order lead the movement ahead. That movement will be led by the non-cis, non heteropatriarchal leadership so that the future Ambedkarite movement can be secured.