Wednesday, October 26, 2005

rosa parks dies: homage to a brave woman

oct 26th

she's the black woman who stood up for her rights as a human being by refusing to vacate her seat for a white guy.

eventually it led to the landmark brown vs. board of education supreme court ruling outlawing 'separate but equal'.

we need a rosa parks-type symbol to end the endemic state discrimination against hindus in india.


Anonymous said...

we need a rosa parks-type symbol to end the endemic state discrimination against hindus in india.

How abt Uma Bharti?

pennathur said...

Rosa Parks's defiance of segragation in Birmingham's buses did not lead to Brown. It certainly sparked what is now known as the Civil Rights movement and saw the emergence of Dr.King as a mass leader. Brown was a successful class action suit argued by that great jurist thurgood Marshall the first Black appointed to the US Supreme Court. Marshall's activism began earlier than and proceeded independently of King's movement. marshall worked with the NAACP and the NAACP Legal Fund and sought to end segregation throguh the legal system. Juan Williams's biography places Marshall's achievements on a higher plane than King's - which is a matter of opinion of course.
There is much to be done in India and we have a very long way to go. For every Dr.Pathak and the Sulabh Sauchalaya we have 10 Keeripattis and 100 "two tumbler" meal shacks in rural India.

nizhal yoddha said...

details, pennathur. i did not say rosa parks became brown v. board of education.

the point is rosa parks was a symbol, an electrifying one, about injustice. much as, say, the boston tea party, was; the dandi salt march was.

rosa parks was the catalyst that helped a loose coalition of religious blacks, socialist jews and others to coalesce into a powerful moral movement. this led to the climate that allowed a liberal supreme court to rule for civil rights in brown v. board. a conservative court would not have.

civil rights had many leaders, including even the strange ones like malcolm x. and it had many martyrs like goodman, chaney, schwerner, a black and two jews, whose murderer was if i remember indicted this year, fully fifty years after they were killed. (see mississippi burning).

and don't confuse matters by complaining about dalit rights. where was your sensibility when mohammedans murdered 12 dalits last week in mau, up, for playing hanuman songs? where are you when mohammedans in bangladesh regularly torment dalits? how about the oppression of dalit christians by churches which have separate pews? why are you silent about all this?

why is it that a lot of well-meaning people like you can only see dalits being oppressed by other hindus?

let's face it, it's got nothing to do with religion, it's got everything to do with power equations. for instance, in your native tamil nadu as elsewhere, the worst atrocities against dalits are always the handiwork of low OBCs, those just above dalits in the hierarchy. why is that acceptable?

KapiDhwaja said...

Very well said, Rajeev. Hats-off to you.

Anonymous said...

Bullshit it has nothing to do with religion. Dalits are not allowed entry into Hindu temples in large swaths of Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan etc. etc. They even forbade them entry into a Sai Baba temple in Andhra Pradesh. Hinduism has to be reformed. the more people like you around (who claim that 70% of the problem is due to the British) the less likeligood we'll have the radical reforms we need.

Anonymous said...

RSS slams `Hindu hypocrisy and upper caste arrogance'

Press Trust of India
Posted online: Sunday, September 04, 2005 at 1423 hours IST
Updated: Sunday, September 04, 2005 at 1548 hours IST

New Delhi, September 4: In an unusually hard talk, the RSS has
blamed `Hindu hypocrisy and upper caste arrogance' for the recent
arson in Gohana town of Haryana in which several Dalit houses were
set ablaze and even indirectly attacked BJP leaders for not applying
the `soothing balm' on the wounds of the victims.

"Even if we try to view the incident in Gohana, removed from the
political angle, it reflects the hypocrisy of the Hindu society and
the cheapness and arrogance, which goes against national interests,
of the so-called upper castes," Tarun Vijay, editor of RSS mouthpiece
Panchjanya said in a write-up in the latest issue.

Maintaining that the incident was `neither surprising nor new,' he
said the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in Haryana, Punjab,
Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan were victims of `deep rooted
hatred and neglect'.

"The so-called upper castes cover up all their misdeeds overtly and
covertly through their fellow clansmen in the administration and
media. Irrespective of parties and their colours, they are all alike
when it comes to atrocities on the deprived sections," it said.

Referring to the BJP's September 1 decision to send a `fact-finding
team' to Gohana, he said, "the incident took place on August 27. The
houses were set on fire on August 31. The news dominated every
newspaper and television channel but till now, we have not heard of a
single important Hindu political or social leader having visited the
area and applied balm on the wounds of the deprived sections".

Ravi Krishna said...

I agree with Anonymous. Even though I hate the muslim treatment of Hindus, we have to clean our own house first. The treatment of dalits by upper caste hindus (not necessarily brahmins) has been apalling.
For a change why don't we collectively admit that hinduism has to change and caste based feelings has to die, as it serves no purpose now. Instead it divides us.
And BTW I am a brahmin.

Anonymous said...

Ravi Krishna,

Are you a brahmin by birth or by deed? If by birth, there is no such thing in any Hindu text. If by deed, tell us how have you spent your time in pursuit of Brahman to be called a brahim.

What keesp the caste going? It is the acknowledge of it by the state and sense of entitlements that it bestows to belong to one caste or another?

pennathur said...

Who was that guy who said, "Keralam oru pranthaspitri aanum," Forgive my lousy Malayalam. That's the spirit one needs.

As for Rosa Parks and Brown I refer you to Juan Williams's bio of Marshall.

These are two strands - the legal and the mass action movement - of the many that brought about the end of segregation in the US and are significant in their own ways. It does not serve the interest of scholarship or even accuracy to twine them together.

We have a come a long way in India but we have an even longer path ahead. The sooner we put these oppressive practices behind us the better.

If Hindu society is resistant to reforming itself Hindus shdn't complain when others do it for them.

If a non-white like me can breakfast in Jackson, MS barely 40 years after the enactment of civil rights legislation, shdn't pulic discrimination end tomorrow?

Check out

pennathur said...

I am not the first Hindu to be critical of obscurantism. Reform and change succeeds most when it is internal. Would you accuse that great savant who toured Kerala of being just another "well meaning Hindu" ignoring other instances of oppression?

Anonymous said...


Now how many dalit and minority PMs and Presidents have India elected in our 50 years versus US which has yet to put one on a Presidental ticket? Or women for that matter. Mind you this is what 225 years after US indepenence?

Issues aren't Hindus complaining because of some a Dalit here or there feels oppressed. It's because when it come oppression, hindus, muslims, christians all are oppressed in on form or the other. It's only that some seek recourse in foreign nations while other Indians are slog it out within the democratic framework of India to bring forth the reforms.

Reforms for Dalits (or for any community) will have to come within. Missionary or mullah or some brahmin or for that matter some US Congressmen deliver it like some Christmas present. Though the mirage of the same might be comforting to the oppressed mass and surely profitable for their leaders.

I don't see a Hindu society resistant to reforming or laid any impdiments towards the progress of reforms. As far as I can see currently the President is a Muslim, Prime Minister a Sikh, Army chief a Sikh, President of ruling party a Christian, richest Indian in India a muslim. Can Hindus claim credit for these? Surely not, but they why would you lump all social evils on Hindus, right?
Isn't this a Michigan based group whose primary goal is to have a upanayana for every dalit? Not that I have anything against these bunch but they have in past turned hostile when I asked them as to why they are gloating over Kanchi seers arrest despite the fact Kanchi seer did a lot for dalits.

pennathur said...

I have not read any such thing about NavyaShastra. Read this letter, it is interesting.

Anonymous said...

From Gurumurthy


DarkStorm said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DarkStorm said...

>> Can Hindus claim credit for these? Surely not, but they why would you lump all social evils on Hindus, right?

Reminds me of the Hindu rate of growth.

Well, dont you know, Hindus are to blame for everything wrong in this country, since our dear Nehrujee thought so, that Hinduism is an impediment to growth. He sought to blame his failure and his socialist ideas on Hinduism. So you would see statements like Hindu rate of growth. He did not realize that it was his marxist ideas and pseudo-secularism that failed us, not Hinduism.

I am really thankful that JRD Tata was around, otherwise we would have gone the Soviet way - widespread gloom, no progress, no incentive for anyone to perform and innovate. I am not defending capitalism, but there has to be a mix of the two. JRD Tata was one who had that vision.

Balls to the person who said christists dont worship the idol of Jesus in the church. Do you think we worship the stone then ??

DarkStorm said...

REally nice one. The gurumurthy article. Wonderful. Plain simple logical. Somehow we cannot explain, put in words, why should we believe in our culture. Of course, it must make sense. We are labelled right-wing and called Nazi at the drop of the hat. (Randhir, Godwins law makes some sense, though I am not sure I get it right).

pennathur said...

Anonymous - The President/PM one;

You are making some very risky comparisons - risky because shd a thorough analysis be done you will be proven very wrong. The integration of women and minorities into Government and the private sector in the US is way beyond many large nations and certainly much better than India's. There hasn't been a woman or minority President in the US, but do you know how many women are Governors today? Check out the Board of GE for its diversity. In academics scinces as well as the humanities there are several women in positions of leadership. Yale and MIT Iinm are both heded by women now. I am suggesting that India discriminates actively against its women and Dalits. But I don;t think we can pat ourselves on our backs for what we have achieved. While the creamy layers of society in India may be egalitarian and open to the rise of talented people; it is a tough grind getting there to the starting line. It is an uneven record and can be bettered by smart and concerted action. And to some extent all sections of society in India come up against the glass ceiling in professional life. Many top professionals like Rajat Gupta or Indira Nooyi wouldn't have made it to these levels had they lived and worked in India. The lack of opportunities and a dead still economy thanks to Nehruvian Socialism is though only part of the problem.

Let's take some small things. Do we have a Prevention of Discrimination in Housing Opportunities Act in India? In many cities in the South (especially Madras NVs can't rent houses easily). How's that for a start? While India may have reams of legislation a lot more change and reform has to happen at the grassroots. Dr.Ambedkar rightly argues that for a vibrant and harmonious society it is not enough to have equality and liberty for too much of the one will extinguish the other. It is fraternity, which he describes as parallel to the idea of Maitri, that brings people together. Since somebody here has talked of the Kanchi Sankaracharya here's something to think about. What if Jayendra Sarasvati had been a guru of the Dalits - not a problem because a sanyasi has no caste or any other form of attachment - what would have been the response of society to his arrest?

mitra said...

I think its a bit late in the day to tackle the "Dalit problem"

I dont know about S.India, but atleast in the North, Dalits have established their distictive identity.

Unlike OBCs, Dalits have developed an intellectual core, and have also hijacked several icons: Ambedkar, Jyotiba phule and even Valmiki - who can say Valmiki was a SC. Dalits are keen to have a seperate identity and are no longer interested in the process of Sanskritization, as the OBCs are. After coming of Mayawati, there has been a paradigm shift in Dalit politics; Dalits no longer want to act as vote banks; they have created their own party and want to capture power with support of other groups. Dalits will not be interested in Upanayan ceremony etc.

Most Dalits take Manusmriti very seriously. Many claim that they are not really Hindu - because Manu describes only four Varnas and they dont belong to any. In such a situation, and in times of political setback, extremist fringes emerge. Many extremist groups are already pushing for caste to be recognized as racism. And it is only a matter of time. Dalit politics has taken a momentum of its own now.

Anonymous said...

pffrrrrttttrrrrr... that was mitrrr.. farting.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Mitra. Dalits, like most social outgroups, do not want to constantly rage against the machine, they just want to BELONG and be accepted. They have not converted out in mass numbers. If caste Hindus wont even allow them to purchase property in colonies in Delhi, or shun any buildings with a large number of Dalit families, (as frequently happens) then that gives room and scope to politicians to manipulate. Don't confound politics and sloganeering with the average aspirations.

mitra said...

Anonymous said:
" I disagree with Mitra. Dalits, like most social outgroups, do not want to constantly rage against the machine"

You may be right as far as the individual Dalit is concerned. But unfortunately, the agenda for a group is always set by its politicians and extremist fringes.

DarkStorm said...

>> Many top professionals like Rajat Gupta or Indira Nooyi wouldn't have made it to these levels had they lived and worked in India

I dont know how come Indira nooyi got to the top. I have read that news report about Indira, the one in which she was accused of comparing the US to the middle finger, and other senseless bullshit. Guess too much pepsi and Lays has filled her head with gas.

In her interviews, she does not come across as someone with depth. She seems very much dumb, given her statements and that news report.

Can anyone shed more light. I dont know much about it. But that is what she shows herself to be.

Anonymous said...

I think Mitra and Pennathur raise some valid cancers.Yes, we do not have the likes of Ramanuja today, but we need the present day Gurus like Swami Dayananda saraswathi to campaign against castes, castism,discrimination on the basis of birth and most importantly encourage the erstwhile upper classes to open their hearts and pass on the culture (one aspect would be our music..)to all. Also, we need to be bold enough to admit that not all our sasthras make sense.We do not know who made these and who tweaked it to their vested interest - we do not need to. Burden of bad history lies everywhere ,in every culture and in every country..Let us emulate america in the legal sense.But we need to do better - we need to further this acceptance - we need to return to the ideals of our soceity - Place compassion above anything any religion has to offer..
We Hindus have suffered much damage over centuries..Our advesaries have attacked our weaknesses and that is good. Let us correct those,even if it means disagreeing and dropping a few couplets from the most revered scriptures (there are such non sensical stuff in every religion).
Defending our culture does ot have to mean defending our weaknesses.Let us acknowledge those and try to correct those without ever giving up..
Problem does not lie in Hinduism..Problem lies in our intolerance to valid criticism..

--Srini (i forgot my PW)

Anonymous said...

Meant to type concerns..Cancer is not what I meant--Srini