Friday, August 21, 2015

LJA and the Dalit question

The Dalit question

We have been describing Lokavidya Samaj as comprised of farmers(kisan), artisans(karigar), tribals(adivasi), women(mahila) and small shopkeepers/traders(vyapari) and this identification/ categorization is in tune with the knowledge-base that each section represents(in the main) in Lokavidya. Large sections of producers , of food and goods/machines of daily/household use, are covered by this categorization.

Farmers(kisan) represent the largest productive (food producing) section of the Samaj. This section would also include fishermen(machuar)(both coastal and inland) by virtue of the fact that they cultivate and gather/harvest food material from water bodies. The nature of this activity gives this section and their knowledge-base a pre-eminent position in the Samaj.

Women(mahila) represent an over-arching category and their their special place in the overall description of the Samaj is due to the specific nature of their knowledge-base.

Karigar Samaj covers all goods producing and service sectors of society, while vyapari covers small shop-keepers/traders -both static and mobile.

The economics of the Samaj are 'laid' down in the local market(staniya bazar) and the practitioners of this economics and concomitant the 'rules' and 'conventions' are the small shop-keepers/ traders (vyapari).

Tribal(adivasi) knowledge is a whole sub-set of Lokavidya, in that it encompasses special types of cultivation suited to jungle/forest regions/hills etc and manufacture of cloth/textiles, utility goods and services(medicine/healthcare/nomadic trade etc).

So, in knowledge terms the description of the Samaj seems correct and adequate. But, with the knowledge-based categorization yet to gain widespread recognition; in common parlence all these sections are socially identified in terms of castes(jatis) and sub-castes(upajatis).

We have, in our description of the Samaj, not overtly included the 'scheduled catses/untouchables' (dalits). This, I feel, has to do with the assumption that, in knowledge terms, dalits are part of the karigar samaj .( Karigar samaj represents both producer and service sections.). It is important to make this point very clear in our public discourses. Dalits are repositories and practitioners of a distinguishable knowledge activity viz. that of 'treating' waste matter to preserve the environment while also producing very useful 'by-products' of such activity eg. Leather and bone goods, implements etc.

[The modern-era reform programme against untouchability (Gandhiji's movement from his Tolstoy farm days to the current Swachch Bharat Abhiyan) was/is based on the belief that anyone can and knows how to treat/handle waste and the movement attempts to get non-dalits to practise dalit activity. Notice that the complementary activity of dalits performing puja was never suggested or thought of in any extensive manner; though from the time of Basveswara to the modern anti-Brahmin movement all such social reform movements have had this aspect as an important part of the movement].

It is therefore important that in forthcoming meetings of Karigar Samaj a concerted effort is made to involve dalits and dalit groups in the discussions and bring the knowledge aspect to the fore- as a basis of unity and reforming the inter-relationships between different sections of Lokavidya Samaj.
It is also important that our demand for equal wages for all labour explicitly covers dalit activity too. The 'dalit question' will find an solution only through the Lokavidya Jan Andolan.

LJA, Hyderabad

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