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Thursday, October 17, 2013

I want to shoot Ram

“Let us go to village O Jamni
I want to buy a gun…….
Poor Shambuk was meditating
On the Vedas and Ram killed him.
I want to shoot Ram with the Gun
And next I want to kill Drona
Who demanded from Eklavya
His thumb in gurudakshina.”

Excerpts from a poem written by Maheshchandra Pandya published in ‘The Silver Lining’ a collection of translations of Gujarati Dalit poems. The book contains translations of poems of Harish Mangalam, Dalpat Chauhan, Pravin Gadhvi, Raju Solanki, Neerav Patel, SAhil Parmar, Shyam Sadhu, etc.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Eklavyas with thumbs

K. M. sheriff, who won the katha Award for translation in 1993, translates among Malyalam, Gujarati and English. In 1999 his translations of Gujarati dalit poems were published in a book ‘Eklavyas with thumbs.’ It was first of its kind in Gujarati dalit literature. The book represented well known dalit poets like Mangal Rathod, Neerav Patel, Kisan Sosa, Shankar Painter, Pravin Gadhvi, Jayant Parmar, etc.

The year 1981 was the year of great turmoil. Gujarat witnessed anti-reservation movement. RSS and BJP workers were behind the movement. Dalit poets of Gujarat fought against these fascist forces. Dalit poem was the most powerful literary expression of those days. ‘Eklavya with thumbs’ reminds us the unfulfilled struggle against in-just order.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Impact of mobility: bade ka ghost, chhote ka ghost

What is the impact of upward mobility on Dalits? They have changed their names and surnames. They have started living in tenements and apartments, fully furnished, equipped with washing machines and refrigerators, air conditioners and hair conditioners. Their parents used to live in crowded chawls with common roofs and toilets. When they lived in chawls, they used to drink tea made up of jaggery, now they have discarded Jaggery, a symbol of cultural backwardness. In chawls they gluttonously devoured mutton of big animals like cows and bullocks, bade ka ghost. Now, they prefer mutton of sheep and goats, chhote ka ghost. Their language was rude and rustic, heavily influenced by accent of their colloquial dialects. Now, they speak urbanised, sophisticated Gujarati. They have been civilised ready to take on the world. I would not have been saddened if they have stopped here. But, quite disgustingly, they have started building their settlements on lines of their paraganas (not just sub castes), like patanwadas and two eighty twos, like chhedals and chuwals. They were more united in their chawls, the so called hell. Now, in their heaven, they are divided, intentionally and intuitively!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Art of breastfeeding

Manav Sadhana Trust, an NGO celebrated International Breastfeeding Week at Ramapir’s Tekra in Ahmedabad. Ramapir’s Tekra is a big locality where Dalits and other marginalized people live. Trust gathered audience of ‘ready made’ Dalit-Poor women on Tekra, invited prominent pediatricians and these experts lectured these illiterate women on advantages of breastfeeding. The poor women were buried under heaps of advice which could have actually been given to affluent, puppy-loving, women who are desperate to ‘maintain’ their figure and feed their kids on ‘cerelac’.

In fact, poor women have nothing to give their loved ones but their milk. They need healthy food; they need free medical insurance which can protect them against deadly disease. And above all, they need such a chief minister in this state who does not throw Rs. 430 million in dustbin of Supreme Court just to hamper appointment of a Lokayukt. My ‘Poor’ sisters of Ramapir’s Tekra are, unfortunately, not as skillful as chief minister of this state who, without any breast, without any milk have been breastfeeding sixty million people since last ten years….

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

black and dalit

Black can't come from white. White can come from black. That means black was first. Black is supreme and white is depended on black. Genetically, white is recessive. ‘Recessive’ has the same Latin root as ‘recess’, it means retreat of minus. If you were in France, for white you’d say blanc, in Spanish blanco. The English equivalent of blanc or blanco is not white but ‘blank’. The white people constitute a race that is blank- that has lost its pigmentation”.

Aryans were white. The original inhabitants of India were black. Aryans called them Dasyu, Shudra, Anarya, Avarna. The Avarnas were first. Avarna is supreme and Savarna is depended on Avarna. Genetically, Savarna is weak and it can rule only with the help of divine curse. The Aryan gods were white - Indra, Marut, Agni, Ram, etc. later, in the ‘melting pot’ of India, Aryans and Shudras populace mixed giving birth to brown people and their ‘colored’ god – Krishna.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

To global Gujarati diaspora

Ame Gujarati. We use this word often. But do we know what it actually means? It refers to those who are all-inclusive, the sweepers who have been cleaning streets of Lothal and Dholavira, Ashaval and Ahmedabad, since centuries. It refers to those who have been dragging carcasses and digging graves of fellow humans exposing themselves to the most dangerous world of contamination. It refers to those who have been weaving cloths for necked civilizations. It refers to those who have been living in hills and dwelling in forest so that rest of citizenry can live decent life. It refers to those who have been carving sculptures and constructing temples of divine and decorated. It refers to those who have been toiling and tilling and drinking their own perspiration. The list is endless. And if you confine the word ‘Gujarati’ to only those who trade and do business, you are one of those ‘scoundrels’ on earth who cheat everybody in their game of last resort – politics.