Monday, July 25, 2005

'New' social movements in Karnataka

Following on from comments after an earlier post, this story of the launch of a new movement for social and political justice may be of interest. Titled AHIND (Alphasankhyakaru, Hindulidavaru and Dalitaru), the movement's inaugural event was organised under the auspices of the Karnataka Federation of the Minorities, Backward Classes and Dalits - an organisation formed by politicians cutting across political lines. The report indicates that the convention may have been intended to project Siddaramaiah (Dy. CM, Karnataka) as an icon of the backward classes in the ongoing tussle between himself and former PM Deve Gowda (mannina maga of snoring fame). Interestingly in his speech, Siddaramaiah seems to have mentioned the examples of Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav in UP and Lalu Prasad in Bihar, arguing that they could not have come to power but for unity in the ranks of minorities, Dalits and backward classes.

This was essentially what Jotiba Phule and Ambedkar were trying to bring about. Ambedkar: 'It is obvious that these three classes (dalits, shudras and tribals) are naturally allies. There is every ground for them to combine for the destruction of the Hindu social order. But they have not...the result is that there is nobody to join the Untouchable in his struggle. He is completely isolated. Not only is he isolated he is opposed by the very classes who ought to be his natural allies.' (from Gail Omvedt, Reinventing Revolution, p. 51)

(Note the lack of scare quotes around backward - suggesting that this is now a term appropriated from government legalese by the players themselves? Not sure...)

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