Friday, November 18, 2005

The TAO of Ambedkarite Buddhism-1

I see reality almost clearly as it really is and as it can be. I have a fair understanding of the laws of cause and effect and the role of the human mind in shaping personal, social and environmental destiny. I am a reasonably well-read, self-aware balanced individual. I have some insight into what constitutes a good human life and am quite at peace with myself as I am and the universe as it is. I am constantly trying to get rid of the bad qualities in me and to improve the good qualities in me. My thoughts have grown out of me like branches, leaves and flowers grow out of trees. As I have purified myself and continue to purify myself, my thoughts have changed and continue to change. These thoughts drive my speech and my actions.

In these pages, I seek to communicate some of my understanding of the theory and practice of the true path I consciously chose, follow and which has benefitted me immensely.

I said true path just like the chinese Tao. To me the true path is a statement of a true way of life. There may be only one true way of life or there may be many true ways of life. I see debate about whether there is one or more true ways as less important than walking on any one way. The true way of life is difficult to communicate and train someone in, since it is not codifiable enough to communicate. Such tacit knowledge and skill is useful and needs to be learnt, but they are difficult to teach. So the best that a teacher can do is to show the path and provide motivation for walking on the path. The learner has to struggle and learn the path.

The path is found by pioneers. Organized religion is a social attempt to sustain the knowledge of this true way of life found by pioneers of a particular community through codification in theories and motivation/communication to further generations through books and speeches and through providing role models in the form of a priest/bhikku-like sangha. In this sense organised religions are human attempts to create composite sustainable repository of the knowledge of the true path. I follow Ambedkarite Buddhism, but I am not specifically for or against any organized religion. Different people may find different organized religions (in the above sense) easier to understand and follow. Buddhism was a statement of a true way of life, which got codified and led to the formulation of an organized religion. Unfortunately like all compound realities, organized religions over time either hide the true way of life behind ritual and beliefs thereby obscuring its visible value to living individuals or totally lose the true way of life through incremental misunderstandings. Today there are so many versions of Buddhism, that it has become difficult to discern which is the right way. If there is a true way of life or if there are multiple true ways of life, then they are the common property of humanity.

Any partitioned true way of life which claims different means and ends for each partition of humanity and offers unverifiable reconciliation of the means and ends of the partitions is likely to be a less useful way of life, because the world is so interconnected and changes so continuously that the partitions on which such ways of life are organized may change dramatically in small periods of time. Such partitioned true ways of life may be aimed to justify partitions of humanity through creation/sustenance of beliefs and practices over time to meet selfish goals of individuals and communities. In India the common example is the case of the dalit community, which is structurally (through beliefs and practices) oppressed with religious sanction. A similar attempt was made by Nazis agains jews.

While it may be best that humans switch to religions which do not advocate partitioned true ways of life, those who choose not to do so must atleast remain constantly mindful that their religion is not used by selfish individuals and communities to justify creation and sustenance of structures of exploitation, violence and violation separating partitions of humanity. Else one day they may find themselves party to direct or indirect crimes against humanity itself.

This said, I will hereon refrain from speaking anything outside Ambedkarite buddhism unless I explicitly write a separate heading.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The role of social work and professional work in the Dalit movement

Some dalit social workers project dalit professionals as selfish people who are "running after money". They ask how and why the professionals can "run after money" sitting in their AC rooms, when most of their dalit brothers live and die in misery. These social workers want dalit professionals to "leave their AC rooms" and come and work in the fields among the poor dalits. This has caused a lot of guilt among young dalit professionals. Some dalit professionals have started personally and directly getting involved in social work putting their professional careers at risk. Their careers may not grow as well as they would have if these youngsters would have focused on their careers and merely financed and remotely guided the social work. But the youngsters and the social workers who have driven them down this path claim that these youngsters are no longer "running after money" and that makes them better Ambedkarites than those who continue to "run after money". I am going to try again to explain here, how and why young dalits should not do this and explain alternative paths ahead for young dalit professionals.

A dalit professional, who lives a balanced and morally upright life, exceling in his chosen profession, contributing more money and less time to social causes is fully in harmony with the ideal householder described by the Buddha and Dr. Ambedkar. Most dalit professionals are already making large personal, famility and community level sacrifices to prove themselves, create wealth and earn prestige for their families and community. These sacrifices are large because, in the abscence of pre-existing social and community networks in the professions, alit professionals already have to work harder than their non-dalit peers to achieve the same level of professional success. Their sacrifices are not visible and easily measurable in money terms, but this does not mean that the value of their sacrifices is low. And in particular, one has to know ones value, else like the case of the man who dropped the goat he was carrying, when convinced by four people that he was carrying a dog, our youngsters might stop believing in the transformative value of the knowledge and skills they have and satisfy themselves with a lower level of token transformation, namely social work. The han's does not need and should not seek certificates from the bagala, because the bagala just does not know, because he is not a hans. In my view as a pioneering private sector dalit professional, the value of the sacrifices of dalit professionals is atleast as much as the value of the sacrifice of full time social workers, who have sacrificed monetary pursuits for social causes. In fact, I think that because success in social work is easier for dalits today, the value of such success is low. And because there are few top level dalit professionals (in IT, Medicine, Law, Accounting, etc) and businessmen, the value of success in professions and business is higher from the dalit movements point of view.

Since talented youngsters capable of rising to the top levels are becoming partial-focus professionals, it is only fair to expect that we are now unlikely to see dalit CEO and dalit businessmen in a hurry. Despite Dr. Ambedkars advice to move towards cities, our young professionals are joining the social workers in going to villages to serve people, more like the advice of Gandhi. At a time when we need more role models of successful moneyed professionals to inspire our youngsters, our youngsters are getting convinced of a Gandhian life-style and Gandhian social service. Despite leaving a large concrete monument to his views on this topic in the form of his own house, Dr. Ambedkar is used to justify a Gandhi style social service centred movement by people claiming to be deep Ambedkarites. Coming at a time, when we badly need our professionals and businessmen to stand on their own legs, compete in the markets and create wealth for the community so that we can invest in our own destinies, it is a strategic, tragic and suicidal error for the movement. Considering the expected decline in the supply of talented dalit professionals, this error is happening at a totally inopportune time. Sadly there are points of time, where one can only let people know ones sincere views and then leave it to them to understand and modify their own views, words and actions.

The true problem of the community is that it is too poor and that investment without strings to reduce its poverty is unlikely to arrive from non-dalits or foreigners. The pune pact sealed the political path and the only paths for liberation are economic activity based on intellectual and dhamma capital. But our young dalit professionals are running away from this true challenge faced by the community, under the guise of social service. They want to run two-penny-rebellions in the villages and slums, by organising poor people ---- for what and how --- they have no answer. They claim that they are working for education of children. But why does one need to be an engineer to focus on social service is unknown. Why can't engineers and managers focus on mastering their respective professions and excel at them, while financing and guiding social service by better trained focused social work professionals. If some of these youngsters had political ambitions and that drives them, do they not know that the pune pact makes their efforts totally wasteful in terms of bringing about any meaningful change through the political mechanism?

Social service involves spending money raised through donations. It assumes that there are donors. In the absence of wealth in the community, such wealth is usual taken from outside the dalit community and is likely to have strings attached to it. So wealth creation to ensure sustenance of social workers and social service needs to happen. So successful professionals and entrepreneurs are required. So social workers must not do anything to discourage the pursuit of professional and business success by our dalit professionals and enterpreners. The continuing behaviour of dalit social workers of questioning the contribution of professionals and entrepreneurs from the dalit community is totally misguided and harmful to the dalit movement. In fact, the dog-in-the-manger behaviour of dalit social workers is the height of misguidance to young dalit professional and entrepreneurs. At a time when such youngsters should be working towards proving themselves in their professions and businesses, some youngsters are setting out on social work at the cost of their core capabilities. Ideally the social service experts should carry out the social service and the professionals and entereprenuers should only finance and provide direction/guidance for spending the money, based on their professional and business skills.

Finally social work is a token approach to social change and hardly classifies as revolution. If youngsters really want to change things in a revolutionary way, they should join the private sector and do hard work, rather than social work. They should prove themselves, earn a lot and donate a lot and have successful professional careers respected by everyone and be good role models for young dalits. Some of them like IITians have done in silicon valley, should start their own companies, compete with Tata's within the constitution and succeed.

Let us start the real revolution.

--- Edited views of Prerna Tambay, my wife

I admire and appreciate the commitment and sacrifice of people who are into social work. The chains of poverty and unemployment are still howering on our heads like vultures. It's time to break these chains. Everybody in a big or small way must try to contribute for theupliftment of our needy people. With due respect to all our social workers, social work needs money and large funds to increase "social work" and to invest in increasing the wealth of the community through building sustainable income generating assets (including companies). Those who are capable of contributing in that form should take the opportunity to contribute in that way.

I am in the profession of teaching. Is teaching not social work?Are there any set definition for social work? Let social workers not make others guilty wastefully to pamper their own egos. Do your own work. Don't spend your time finding fault/guilt with others.Our community needs to be self-reliant. Only when ones earn more than ones needs, can one donate for social good. If every one wereto seek money from others for own-need + social-good, then who will give. Currently those who get money from foreign buddhists seem to be dis-respecting the small amounts of money that our dalit community can donate. Such disrespect is harmful for the dalit movement. It will hardly make us a self-reliant community. Even in small dalit groups, we have differences on so primary things. Really are we doing the right things to strengthen the forward motion of the dalit movement? Lets try to benefit from each others strengths rather than finding fault/guiltwith each other.

My family is in the forefront of peaceful social revolution. My husband Pratap is a sincere Ambedkarite struggling hard to carve a niche in the corporate sector? Many dalits from the government and public sector as well as social workers do not even try to understand the unique perspective, predicaments and contribution of people like him, while beating their loud social contribution drums. My family's peaceful social revolution requires working daily in the company of the oppressor, mastering one's anger, taking 2 rupees and delivering 40 rupees worth of work to force the oppressor to realize the errors of his ways and to reform himself. It requires being a good employee, a good citizen, whom no one can easily find faults with. It requires accepting that others may be favored unfairly at times, because the system's legacy is currently against you. It requires not leaving ones hard work and good behavior, despite efforts of the system to discourage you. It requires behaving likethe heroes of "jo jeeta wahi sikandar" and "on the waterfront". It requires more than two-penny rebellions outside the market-place. I have worked with Shikshana Prasaraka Mandali Pune's WelingkarInstitute of Management Development and Research for a long time in this manner and through hard efforts became "head of the department of human resource management" at this institute, despite the prejudice against our folks. It is my sheer hard work and independent contribution which helped me to come to UK.

My research work on "Diversity and AffirmativeAction" is as important as the work of any social worker to the dalit movement. It is a direct emulation of Dr. Ambedkar himself. Every one has their own unique competence. I am leveraging my talents to the highest capacity for the movement in my own way. After my MBA I had very high paying job offers but I chose to be a Management teacher. I call this as proof of my socially responsible behaviour and my direct contribution to society. By being a teacher I had lot of freedom to do my social service and was not dependent on external sources of funding for my social work. I teach and groom and mentor students, who go and perform "peaceful social revolution" in the industry, because I inculcate good values in them. My special efforts and interest in grooming students of our community to become equally competent are well know and much appreciated by senior management of the Institute. I prefer to continue my social service in the way I havebeen doing it already. Nobody has any authority to certify other people's social service and contributions. Social workers should refrain from this "certification" business that they sometimes get into.

Social workers of high credentials and credibility in the community should try to understand the peaceful social revolution being carried out by families like mine. We work where there is organized oppression, in the real battle grounds of the modern world, rather than in the nooks and crannies, away from the cities, where social workers focus.

Violence against Injustice in Buddhism

Every war that was fought was once a thought that someone thought
If he/she had not thought that thought then they would not have fought
--- Pratap Tambay and Shahnawaz Alam

The Buddha is almost made to sound synonymous with non-violence. But the buddhist ideal of non-violence is mid-way between the extreme violent injustice of the hindu religion (untouchability, sati and animal sacrifices in yagnas) and the extreme impractical non-violence of the jain religion. I quote

--- Excerpt from TBAHD (The Buddha and His Dhamma - by Dr. B.R.Ambedkar) begins

The Buddha was against violence. But he was also in favour of justice andwhere justice required he permitted the use of force. This is well illustrated in his dialogue with Sinha Senapati the Commander-in-Chief of Vaishali. Sinha having come to know that the Buddha preached Ahimsa went tohim and asked:"The Bhagvan preaches Ahimsa. Does the Bhagvan preach an offender to begiven freedom from punishment? Does the Bhagvan preach that we should not goto war to save our wives, our children and our wealth? Should we suffer atthe hands of criminals in the name of Ahimsa.?"" Does the Tathagata prohibit all war even when it is in the interest ofTruth and Justice?"Buddha replied. You have wrongly understood what I have been preaching. Anoffender must be punished and an innocent man must be freed. It is not afault of the Magistrate if he punishes an offender. The cause of punishmentis the fault of the offender. The Magistrate who inflicts the punishment isonly carrying out the law. He does not become stained with Ahimsa. A man who fights for justice and safety cannot be accused of Ahimsa. If all the meansof maintaining peace have failed then the responsibility for Himsa falls onhim who starts war. One must never surrender to evil powers. War there maybe. But it must not be for selfish ends...."

--- Excerpt from TBAHD (The Buddha and His Dhamma - by Dr. B.R.Ambedkar) ends

So the true way of ending war is to fight and win the war with own mind, to reduce ones bad qualities and improve ones qualities in the mind, so that the skillful thoughts, speech and action generated by the mind prevent wars outside.

Mindfulness and money

I and Prerna liked book by D. Kulananda and D. Mahaprabha (Dominic Houlder) called "mindfulness and money". It was gifted by Dhammachari Manidhamma of TBMSG. It is a "how-to" manual for the position of money inhuman life. The buddha clearly is in favor of accumulating wealth by sheela-filled means and then managing the money well. "Islamic investing"is so restrictive, while financial complexity of the funding instruments used by ancient buddhist monastries is quite high. Clearly buddhist way of managing money in human life is more comprehensive and less restrictive in scope and depth.

At this point of time in the dalit movement, I think we must encourage and support our young people in taking and managing risk in their careers and enterprises to create more and more wealth for themselves and then to leverage this wealth to make themselves more happy in dhammic ways. Usually the latter requires spending ones money on causes which make other people sustainably happy. After all, unless others are happy, can one really be sustainably happy? My favorite page in "mindfullness and money" was about the money ofa miser. He hoards and does not enjoy it, nor does he allow othersto enjoy it. The page clearly tells us to "earn and enjoy" money and not merely "earn and hoard". Donation is not enjoyment if one is not mature in dhamma. But if you are a good buddhist, then donation is an enjoyment and the book tells you how to handle donations. And one need not only donate, one can behave as a trustee and create/operate various services using one's own money.I find buddhism supportive of "dhamma asoka", the wealthy politician and "anathapindika", the rich investment banker among other ideals. I strongly recommend "mindfullness and money" to young buddhists to get a more comprehensive perspective on how to deal with money in their lives.

Make more money, not less.

In "siddhartha" by nobel prize winning Herman Hesse, the hero goes from monk to householder to not-exactly-a-monk-but-quite-a-monk. One of my other favorites is "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" by Richard Bach. I have gifted copies of these books along with "7 habits ofhighly effective people" to many youngsters and "lost" individuals. I strongly recommend all these books.

It is possible to get addicted to almost anything and everything is not the only culprit. It is also possible to have anythingand everything ... and yet not be addicted. Excess service of othersat cost of service to self is unskillful, much like excess service of self at the cost of service to others. Dwell unattached to sensesamong all the sense-objects and do not run away from anything including money. Stay and fight to win your-self with dhamma as the raft.Money is one of the more tangible measures of the relevance of the actions of individuals to the community.

We must (as a community) not run away from money. We must master the process of making money and use money for dhammic social or economic entrepreneurs. Dhamma isparticularly useful to take and manage risk in one's personal andprofessional life. Use Dhamma to grow personally and professionally. More dhamma means more money, more peace, etc. till one is sated. Each one's equilibrium may vary. Dr. Ambedkar gave us this Alladin's lamp. Polish your lamp (be a lamp unto yourself) and use it to derive personal and professional benefits and growth.

The Tao of Ambedkarite Buddhism-2

The followers of Dr. Ambedkar have made him and Buddha into Gods and worship them more or less like the Hindus, albeit using a slightly different prayer. So the casual observer may think that there is little tranformative value in Ambedkarite Buddhism and that little has changed among dalits who practice it. But this is not true. The social manifestation of Ambedkarite Buddhism is more due to the low education of its practitioners and due to the hold of hindu doctrines, beliefs and practices on them. As education rises among the dalits, educated dalits are discovering the revolutionary value of Ambedkarite buddhism and manifesting it in their own lives and leading the way in changing the social life of the followers of Ambedkarite Buddhism and significantly impacting the surrounding social reality.

The TAO of Ambedkarite Buddhism-2

My grandmother belonged to the family and native village of Dr. Ambedkar, namely Ambavde. My father too spent the early years of his life in that village, before moving to Mumbai. So I am related to Dr. Ambedkar on my fathers side. My grandfather belonged to the family and native village of Ghanashyam Talwatkar (nee Krishnaji Bhikaji Tambay), who translated Dr. Ambedkars book, The Buddha And His Dhamma (TBAHD) into marathi. My wife is related to Subhadar Sawadkar, a key colleague of Dr. Ambedkar on her mothers side and her father ghost-translated TBAHD on behalf od Mr. Ghanashyam Talwatkar. Essentially I am a bonafide Ambedkarite who understands the reason why he wanted dalits to become buddhists and agree thoroughly with it. I have read and reflected a lot on this choice and remain eternally grateful to him for making it.

My father was an orphan when the mass conversions took place and so I am not buddhist on paper yet. My father never formally converted us later, since that would have cost us the facility of reservations, which I have benefitted from. He led a confused religious life, practicing a lot of hindu ritual, which performing all life cycle ceremonies in the Buddhist manner. So I was brought up in a confused manner, like I am sure many other dalits are brought up in. While my father was alive, it never occured to me to deviate from the confused religious practices of the family. I had'nt explored buddhism adequately. But when my father expired (in 1999), as per his request we donated his body to medicine and did not perform any rituals, neither hindu, nor buddhist. But due to pressure from the community, I had to perform the Jal-dan-vidhi ceremony. The turmoil that I went through in those days in implementing my fathers last wishes against the misunderstandings of the community about me, my father and our family made me realize that I now had to decide how I was going to live henceforth. So I read a lot and thought a lot and started on my journey of exploration of buddhism. I did not like buddhism practiced by many of my relatives, since the focus was on ritual and it did not seem to adequately show a logical path to salvation. I got married to a buddhist girl according to buddhist ritual. Her family is buddhist in practice, unlike the confused, mixed-up manner in which my family had practiced buddhism. Among other reasons, I selected her since she had done Vipassana course from Igatpuri 7 times. I had heard about the course and thought that anyone who could do such a difficult course 7 times must be a very pure person. I did my first course of Vipassana, with my wifes recommendation (she being a veteran student). It taught me the meaning of the many prayers that I had muttered many times. I also understood the theory of buddhism through this course and learnt how to practice it. Buddhism appealed to my heart as well as my brain, since it shows a logical path to salvation.

After this, I embarked on a path to reconcile my practice with Dr. Ambedkars book, The Buddha And His Dhamma (TBAHD hereon), which has taken me almost 3 years. I am now confident that I am now comfortable that I understand TBAHD as Dr. Ambedkar intended it to be understood and that I find no contradiction between it and my own practice and reading (albeit limited) of ancient buddhism and modern science. My practice has deepened and the benefits of Dhamma have accrued. I am a far better and peaceful person than the person who embarked on the path of buddhism. And the practice of Dhamma has helped improve my life at personal, family, social, professional level in tangible measurable manners.
Dalit Capital

Request for expression of interest in investing funds in venture capital company focused on the needs of 250 million dalits in India

I am a interested in launching a venture capital company which will invest in ventures of interest to the dalits in India. Dalits are currently on or ouside the fringes of mainstream Indian markets. They represent a large potential market, an opportunity for trustworthy commercially viable intemediaries which can enable them to integrate into the mainstream Indian markets. I am looking for funds from sources sensitive to such possibilities related to 250 million dalits accross India.

The main focus of the fund will be on developing a value chain of ventures which process dalit human capital and deploy it in the Call-centre, IT, ITO and BPO job market. The value chain will select candidates from among graduate dalits, provide them appropriate intensive vocational training and enable them to find jobs in the Call-centre, IT, ITO, BPO industry. The present value chains are discriminating at the input stage (since many dalits are not able to finance their chains processing cost) and at the output stage (since most dalits do not have social networks which can help them in finding gainful employment, even if they are equal or better than their peers). So the main focus will be on financing placement agencies, training and related finance companies and enabling them to work in tandem.

Some of the other types of ventures that will be financed will be as follows

A. Trusted intermediaries can improve the access of dalit entrepreneurs to financial services, including venture capital, project finance and working capital finance to launch viable projects. Individual dalits are also potential customers for educational finance, consumer finance including car, equipment, home loans and credit cards, etc. Non-dalit intermediaries are poor at measuring and managing the project and credit risk of proposals from dalit communities, since they do not adequately understand the drivers of the project and credit risk, which are different from mainstream. Due to this there is a discrimination risk premium available to those intermediaries who are better equipped at measuring and managing the credit risk of these communities.

B. Similarly dealerships and franchises of products and services which are or relevance to dalits due to their locations or socio-economic needs are currently owned mostly by non-dalits. Enabling dalits to manage the last mile in distribution and sourcing chains can create differential competitive advantage with respect to selling products and services to dalit individuals and communities accross India. This kind of trusted intermediaries will be able to provide better customer service, better credit-risk-measurement-and-management and increased brand loyalty.

C. Intermediaries providing investment/tax advisory and execution services to dalits need to have trusted relationships with dalits. Many dalits cannot buy the costly seat in the marketplace needed to provide this kind of services and hence have to depend on non-dalit providers of these services. The non-dalits providers are rarely aware of the unique treatments available to dalit individuals and firms under Indian law and hence are not able to provide good service to dalits. We aim to fund intermediaries, which can fill this gap in the market.

I have the relevant knowledge, experience and contacts in all the relevant entities to successfully create and manage the aforementioned venture capital company. I am primarily looking for funds at this point of time. So if you can provide funds and/or have suggestions/comments related to how I can find funds, I would like to hear from you at

Buddhism and role of educated dalits: S.N.Goenka

With respect to the KEY question raised and my own turmoil on these matters, I wish to bring the following points to your notice.1. Goenkaji teaches a particular technique of meditation to peopleof all religions. The technique has been useful to many people(including me) in many ways. I follow that meditation technique andintend to continue doing so. I do not think that it in anywayconflicts with my committment to social engineering. I fail to seehow improving myself at a personal level can hurt social engineering.2. I am not willing to accept Goenkaji as a leader in the work ofsocial engineering, since social engineering requires competenciesand commitments of a different nature. Moreover I find the questionsuperfluous, since I am not aware of his interest in leading me onthe social engineering path.3. I have realized that my confusion is not about Mr. Goenka, butmore about relevance and importance of Buddhism (esp. its practice assuggested by Dr. Ambedkar) in the future of the Ambedkarite movement.I would prefer that we focus on this point first. Focusing on Mr.Goenka is a waste of our precious time.5. I have read Dr. Ambedkars writing. I understand the context inwhich he made the choice of Buddhism. I am committed to Buddhism dueto that and my personal exploration of religions. Yet, religion, likemarriage to me is a very personal choice. Dr. Ambedkar too was notrigid about this. After all he did marry a Brahmin in his later life.6. Even during Dr. Ambedkar's life, Buddha had been assimilated intothe their pantheon by the hindus. So what VHP does is VHP's problem?The attempts of other communities to accomodate us do not concern me.There are enough among us focusing on how and whether we should reactto such attempts. I am more interested in the question "where do WEwant to go from here". I feel that our common vision of the future isinadequately articulated.7. Regarding "negotiating" with "leaders of brahmanism", the electionprocess, the legal system, the growing confidence and capabilities ofour people are carrying that out. These forces unleased by Dr.Ambedkar are transforming our nation. Large scale negotiating pointsbetween communities like the Pune pact are scarce. It is the dailystruggle that every dalit (whether he/she is a wage labourer or acorporate executive) undergoes, which will distinguish as well asintegrate us into India as equals.8. The job of people like us is to understand the socio-politicalreality and explain it to folks who are getting misguided. We need toequip Dalits to understand the strategic imperatives of our timeswhich impact their day to day life. And correct understanding ofthese strategic imperatives cannot happen without open debate. Itshard to believe that there only a few supermen among us who know allthe answers at all points of time...
"Dalit Capital" and "Ambedkar Institute of Social Capital"

Hello All,I want to see us launch a NBFC named "Dalit Capital". We can issue securities to public and use the raised money to fund ventures ofinterest to Dalits. Some such ventures could include1. Launching a management institute named "Ambedkar institute ofSocial Capital" close to MumbaiHaving our own postgraduate study and research institutions hasbecome important due toa. Decay in existing dalit educational institutionsb. Need to have a legitimate credible academic voice which canparticipate in relevant debates of relevancec. Provide opportunity for our youngsters to get high qualityeducation through "educational loans" floated by "Dalit Capital"d. Need to fund research of relevance to Dalits2. Give long term loans to entrepreneurs among Dalits directly and/orgive seed funding and help in getting later stage funding forventures floated by Dalits3. Operate merchant/investment banking services with focus on helpingDalits to make public/rights issues of financial securities to raisecapital4. Provide financial planning and investment consultancy services toDalits5. Help Dalits in getting least cost loans from various financialcompanies6. Provide brokerage services for trading financial securities on NSEand/or BSE7. Provide hire-purchase and leasing services to Dalits8. Setup a "placement services company" to help Dalits to findgainful employmentI would like to understand your views about the practicality of theseideas. I guess I would like to understand your views about how muchcapital you would individually want to invest in a company like this.I have been reading a lot the last few days about how to launchcompanies. Unfortunately launching Banks requires 200 crore to startwith and then one has to have 100 crore more in one more year. Sothat seems impractical right now. So I think NBFC is the place tostart.Making a public issue of the NBFC may have some issues. But I think Iknow how to get around them...Let me knowRegardsPratap

Need for dalit thought leaders

We need thought leaders who can penetrate the exploitative logic ofthe shroud which engulfs the disadvantaged commmunities. These peopleneed to define and defend social justice using the appropriateeconomic, pyschological, sociological theories and empiricalevidence. Our current problem that is that we are not able to expressour agonies and are dependent on the "Amartya Sens" of the world forespousing our causes as a byproduct of their clinical academicpersuits. The sufferers are silent. No ex-sufferer becomes anacademic and explains the causes of the sufferings. Buddha did thatfor the suffering common to all human beings. We need Buddha's whocome out of their socio-economic suffering and help evolve techniquesto improve the social order. May a million Buddhas bloom.From my reading of recent economic writings, "social justice" is highon the publicly projected high priority list of many institutions andis a hot topic in economic theory.E.g: We must evaluate Amartya Sen and then support him to the hilt bypointing out problems in his theories. We must learn to use economictheory to plan and drive our struggles
Why "States and Minorities" Essay by Dr. Ambedkar is not enough

I was able to refresh myself on States and Minorities.Some observations
1. Dr. Ambedkar and Mr. Nehru were both the creation of the dominantthought streams of their generations in terms about their viewabout "state socialism".
2. "States and minorities" talks about state socialism withparliamentary democracy and justifies it. As all of us are aware, thedrivers of this nation changed course since 1980. The dominant visionand rhetoric now is of controlled capitalism (capitalism with humanface et al). I am not defending the latter or criticizing the former.The legitimacy to the latter is derived from the electoral and theconstitutional framework and is real. The global experience isagainst the former, with all the votaries of State socialism (esp.Russia and China) incorporating some or the other capitalisticmeasures.
3. "States and minorities" reduces private sector to the minimum.Globally nations are coming round to the thinking that governmentsshould not be in business...

The role of the state in the day to daylife of individuals is decreasing. "States and minorities" does predict that the private employer becomes the driver of individuallives in this case. The issues that crop up when this happens atvarious levels have not been discussed in detail in "States andminorities", since they were not as relevant during Dr. Ambedkarsgeneration. As you can understand, given my exposure to employment inIndias private sector, I face issues. These issues may be lessemotional than the denial of basic rights of rural poor dalits. Butthey are relevant to the eventual integration of dalits into theIndian mainstream. My only source for my problems is the protectiveframework put in place for minorities in US. This is not to say thatUS has all the solutions for my problems. US is ahead of us in theirthinking on these issues. In India, dalits are getting addicted togovernment and public sector and not venturing enough into theprivate sector, which is the place where social power is movingincreasingly. Where are the dalit entrepreneurs? My IDBIdalit friend tells me that if dalits want to raise big money, thenthey should hide their identities. These hidden barriers toactualizing the potential of dalit entrepreneurship have'nt beenaddressed enough by anyone yet. The problems of the dalits, who workin the private sector without the protective cover of the governmentare not discussed. Because they now have enough to eat, wear, live,their issues of self-respect, identity, discrimination are notdiscussed enough.4. To summarise, "States and Minorities" needs to be supplementedwith details about "States, Private sector enterprises andMinorities", since world over (and increasingly in India), privatesector enteprises are dominating the economy.5. Study of history is not a problem. The only issue is that ourintellectuals are pre-occupied with it and unwilling to apply theirminds to the newer emerging issues. Intellectuals have the role ofunderstanding the emerging development and help steer the communitythrough it. Excessive focus on the past can create consensus aboutthe past among dalits. That is useful. But it is more important anddirectly relevant (in an electoral sense) to build consensus amongdalits about how to respond to the altered (and altering) reality.RegardsPratap Tambay

Outsourcing and Dalit Human Capital

Discussions about the future of outsourcing to India paintdoom scenarios of how outsourcing can move away to lower costcountries. In India we have to bring the poor into the IT revolutiontaking place. That will prevent potential erosion of India'scompetitiveness. For thiswe need an action plan including

1. Better penetration of educational services and services to financethe education from primary level to the appropriate level ofeducation required for participating in the ecosystem

2. Affirmative action to drive the inclusion of disadvantagedmillions in the rain of outsourcing. This could be facilitatedthrough economic incentives like tax breaks based on disclosures ofcomposition of employees.

3. Reducing the cost of education and improving the accessability ofeducational services by leveraging technology to build nationaleducational grid (like the power grid), which any citizen can pluginto through e-Choupals.

4. Improving the effectiveness of manpower planning and employmentexchanges in the government, public and private sector.I am sure more crisp action plans can be evolved too.

I started thinkingabout this due to a report of Mr. Narayanmurthy's opinions on hiringdalits for Infosys. For higher quality employees, Infosys type companies could build cheaper human capital over period of time,instead of hiring ready (and costly) human capital from the non-dalits.

I fail to understand the economics operating here.Dalit human capital is cheaper in the Indian labor market. The realreason for not hiring dalit techies is not their merit (usually), ithas to do with fitment issues with the dominant culture of the workplace. Nothing new about these issues. Rigoberta Menchu has describedthem in detail.When the cost pressures increase, Infy will no longer have the luxuryto operate with the higher cost of non-Dalit merit. The market forceswill operate eventually.The key thing that the private sector needs to realize that there isan opportunity to leverage the low cost human capital of the dalitsby improving the internal multi-cultural management practices. Ofcourse such attempts may not give as much media value as multi-cultural attempts with Russian and Australian emploees.Basically Narayanmurthy does not want to rock a steady boat, till itsneccessary.

Pratap Tambay

Message to a young Dalit Professional

In the past, dalits used to hide the fact that they were dalits. Nowdalits (and many non-dalits) are queuing up to get themselvescertified as dalits to claim a share of state patronage. So in fact,most of the current generation is very much open (in fact eager) todeclare that they are dalits. No one can officially discriminateagainst them. Babasaheb has ensured that. But "there is still a resistance toacknowledge the fact that the social optima doesnt lie in thediscrimination". We dalits have to show the non-dalits the truth of this by our words and actions and evolve win-winsolutions. This nation needs to travel some more distance to enablethe dalit segment of its population to have access to opportunitiesto reach the very top of this nation in the arts, business andmilitary spheres. But it is making progress, albeit slow. I say thisonly from personal experience.Sceptism, nepotism, back-room politics are common even among non-dalits. So do get disheartened by the sceptics. We dalits have tocontinuously keep proving ourselves. But remember, that keeps us onour toes and makes us stronger if we persevere.I would really love to understand what you mean by wanting your nextgeneration to be "free". Are you not free? Is there some station thatyou cannot achieve if you set your mind to it. Have you even triedyet? Have you given this nation (which let Ambedkar enshrinereservation in the constitution) a chance yet? Unless you are talkingabout the nirwana type of freedom, I wonder what you refer to. Thisparagraph is personally for you only, since I am given to know yourparticular context. People like you are very important. You areplaying the game by the tougher set of rules (non-relaxed standards).The station you acheive in your life will prove for all of us whetherthe nation has made any progress.Regarding the reference to Maslow, I can tell you this. Every humanhas multiple identities. Evolving an integrated identity, which givesmeaning his life is his task in life. This is what the Maslowcategory psychologists say. As one evolves towards such an identity,the importance one assigns to some of ones identities falls away. Thestuff that remains is the real you. E.g. I am a computer scientist, afinance researcher, a dalit and an amateur economist. As I grow as aperson, some of these identities will occupy less of my personalidentity. I will think less and less of them.The final question you ask is the most complex. It takes a life timeto figure it out...:-)

Movies for Dalit Audiences

Mainstream movies made for dalits may not be making economic sensetoday. Some movies allude to dalit issues but do not dare to make thedalit related issues central to the movie. Some movies are art moviesmade for intellectual crowds which win awards but don't make money.People go to Hindi masala movies to get away from their daily pains.They do not go to movie halls to think.With the increase in education in the dalits, movies for them shouldpick up. I expect that hollywood will make movies on dalit issues in10 year time frame.Movies/TV_serials have contributed to changing images of women inIndia and the world. I remember the serial on Oshin, a japaneseentrepeneur a lot. I look forward to "mi ani mazha baap" in ahollywood format. I think that the story has the power to draw in thecrowds and inspire a generation....

Representation beyond first generation and Representation beyond public sector

Due to lack of awareness, implementation, abject poverty, our folkshave still not able to leverage reservations. So reservation forfirst generation beneficiaries in education and entry levelgovernment and/or public sector needs to continue without doubt. Theissues about second generation beneficiaries, reservations inpromotions upto senior levels are more complex. But the need forprotective discrimination for them does not automatically go away. Itjust needs to be handled differently.For the private sector, the same logic of representativenessproviding higher value than efficiency works to some extent. In theprivate sector, women are preferred for marketing jobs related towomens products. The logic easily generalizes to any significantlynumerous segment of the population. Overall in the private sector,the techniques (and related terminology) of increasing dalitparticipation needs to be different.What is happening is our educated people are falling prey to non-dalit thought merchants like Shourie. The reason for this is that ourinternal discussions are still infantile, past-centred and/orutopian. Unable to argue their own cases, in their working lives, theeducated masses succumb to views propagated by the Shouries of theworld. We have to participate in their media and tell them in theirwords, our world view. Till our leaders become media savvy and canhold their own on "Hard-Talk" and similar programmes and blast theopposition on the basis of sheer logic and statistics, the situationwill not change.I guess what I am saying is that we should be careful in whom we callour leaders. People they say get the leaders they deserve...unlessthey learn to choose.

Pratap Tambay

Vipassana and Goenka Buddhism

I returned recently from yet another 10 day Vipassana retreat atIgatpuri. Sometime back, I had requested opinions on thesimilarity/differences between the "sheel-samadhi-pradnya (and Karunaas practiced through metta bhavana)" buddhism, propagated by Mr.Goenka versus the "pradnya-sheel-karuna" buddhism, propagated by Dr.Ambedkar. The question continued to bother me, despite the benefitsfrom the practice of Vipasanna centric buddhism. So this time, Ilistened very carefully. Here are a few observations.1. There is a difference between the two buddhisms. Samadhi is thekey item of difference. Otherwise rest seems same in theory.2. "sheel-samadhi-pradnya (&Karuna)" buddhism (as propagated by Mr.Goenka) does emphasise the hindu linkage of buddhism by quotingsignificantly from the veda's, kabir, nanak, mahavir, et al.3. It is not possible to build a unique religious identity (separatefrom the Hindu's) if one follows Mr. Goenka fully. Vipasannapractitioners risk being categorised as yet another hindu sect overtime due to the "trespassers will be assimilated" aspect of hinduism.Nevertheless, I am happy to inform you all that at a personal level,I have resolved my confusion and made a clear and distinct choice.Despite claiming to practice "pradnya-sheel-karuna" buddhism, I havehardly seen my relatives following the panchsheel. Meanwhile in thefew years that I have partially practiced "sheel-samadhi-pradnya(&Karuna)" buddhism, I have improved in my own eyes as a human being(including following the panchsheel). Getting assimilated by Hinduismdoes not bother me. As long as one follows the path shown by theBuddha and derive benefits from it, it is irrelevant, what I getcalled. I am confident that the path will guide me to contribute mybit to resolve the problems of my brethen.I strongly recommend all of you to try it and decide for yourself.With mettaPratap Tambay

Dalits and Private Sector

Hi All,Here are a few of my points1. Employment is one type of relationship between the dalit communityand the private sector. Dalits as investors, dalits as consumers,dalits as vendors, dalits as partners are other angles to therelationship. Reservations (or Affirmative actions) could be broaderin scope. The private sector needs to build (and/or strengthen) itslinkage with the last man in the queue. Surnames indicating dalitcastes are conspicously absent at most levels (and especially atsenior levels) in all these relationships.2. Reservation is a positive discrimination. Indian private sector iscurrently so retrograde, that even prevention of negativediscrimination would count as progress.3. Glass ceilings exist in private companies, ostensibly due to thedominance of lala companies, where the lala's caste-mates (or gav-wallas) get unfair advantages. In these cases, the lala's need to bemade aware of their interdependence viz the dalit community. Thereare many ways for this. Two wheeler selling lala's indicate theirlack of understanding of their annadata's when they espouse anti-dalit sentiments.4. In public companies, dalits (currently marginal groups) haveto "adjust" to the culture set by the non dalits (currently dominantgroups) in power. So they cannot voice the different perspectivesthat they bring to the table, thereby depriving these companies ofthe value that their differential experience can bring to thecompany. In ICICI, the presence of women at senior level hasinfluenced that company's thinking in many ways, many of which haveyielded significant value to it.5. In my opinion, the current situation is that the dalit community,an outsider to the private sector is lecturing and/or goading theprivate sector to modify/improve itself. A more comprehensiveapproach would includea. Clearly articulate what all we want the private sector to do, whywe want them to do it and who will get what if that is done and whatwill happen if that is not doneb. Collect and share data about whether and which companies are doingthe needful and which are not.c. Dalits need to move into private sector in big way, leveraging theeducational support provided by the state. We need to educate ourpeople about where their long term interests lie.d. Dalits already in private sector need to speak out and be heard.They need to work hard and reach decision making positions and thenmake the strategic decisions which will enable increasedparticipation of dalits in the private sector labor andproduct/service markets. This last item is most important. Dalits arecurrently outside the markets. They need to enter....RegardsPratap Tambay

Dalits and co-option by Hinduism

Hi Mr. Rama,You ask a question, which was never very important in the past to me. But itclearly is very important now. I have become more aware and more true of mydalit identity, since the incident. I guess I learnt my lesson to issuecertificates of liberalism (by being show-piece position holders orotherwise) more carefully.1. Ganesh mandal was the name given to the maharastra mandal, since theGanesh festival was one of the most important activity carried out by themandal. I did not stand for an election. I was popular among the crowd andwas from management department, so friends pushed me and I accepted.2. I am now more careful about similar situations. But I am not in favor ofseparatism. I prefer co-existence with mutual respect. So its not as if Iwill never become Ganesh mandal president again. I will ask questionsbeforehand and make sure that I am satisfied with the credentials before Itake it on. Basically a marginal group like ours does not have the choice ofisolation, since our voice may get lost in the cacophony of the dominantgroup. Whatever forums we can access we must access and keep provingourselves again and again and again till we are no longer marginal. Onlycare we must take is to ensure that we do not compromise our self respect inthe process.Thanks for asking the question. It helped me understand myself better.RegardsPratap Tambay

Dalits in the social life of India

Let me confess that I am a late bloomer as far as dalit ideologygoes. It is possible that I continue to be misguided, despite tryinghard to find the truth and not fooling myself about it. Pleaseenlighten me if you feel that is the case.I am related to Dr. Ambedkar on my fathers side. Some of my relativesare active in RPI. But I did have a mixed religious identity, due tomy upbringing. I studied at IIT as a reserved category student andfaced the usual problems. It left me with an identity crisis. Myexperience at IISc was similar. But my thinking has progressed and Ifeel reconciled with my dalit identity. But I am willing to be rid ofthis illusion, if it is indeed an illusion. Some other points.1. King Ashoka did donate money to non-buddhist religious causes. Iam sure that as king, he must have even presided over some functionsof non buddhists. Buddhism as a religion is not about "my way or thehighway, it is about the middle way". Of course, we cannot burn ourself respect and give respect to others. I did that once and learntmy lesson. I have been more careful since then.2. Rigoberta Menchu, a nobel prize winner has articulated the centralissue faced by many communities like the dalits. I quote (see below)from the one passage I read which inspires my thinking, speech andaction till this day.3. I reiterate, based on the inspiration from Rigoberta and myadmittedly limited knowledge of buddhism and Dr. Ambedkars thoughtthat we cannot afford to isolate ourselves. We have to integrate, wehave to negotiate... So staying away from functions of non dalits isnot good for us. We have to participate. But we have to make surethat we retain our self respect.RegardsPratap

*****************************************************NOBEL Peace Prize winner, Rigoberta Menchu's autobiography, "IRigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala", is set in the 1970s,a period when the native population of the Maya Indians facedgenocide which almost uprooted entire villages. It was during thistime that the Maya Indians began their agitation for land and foundedunions which threatened the rule of the totalitarian and ruthlessgovernment of Efraim Rios Montt. Menchu's book is an account of thisterrible violence, and its publication is largely responsible for theinternational attention to the crime against human freedom whichmight have gone unnoticed because of the remoteness of the highlandsin Guatemala where militarisation and systematic killings were takingplace.Rigoberta Menchu, perhaps the most talked about woman in Guatemala,is a leader who had advanced beyond mere reformism. Her concern is tobe oppositional, to be a public intellectual (though she is hardlyliterate) who takes up any issue of injustice, dogma or oppression,particularly the dominance of certain forms of human exploitation soas to develop a politics of resistance. Though Spanish is not hermother tongue, she had to learn the language of the oppressor and useit as a tool against the Spanish imperialist rule backed by the USA.A Quiche Indian, her struggle has been to assert her individualityand cultural autonomy. The supression of the past 500 years led to adetermined revival of the culture, language and faith of the Indiansshe so wholeheartedly represents.Having survived the genocide which liquidated hundreds of hercountrymen, she tells her fascinating and sad story about hersuppressed history and the fundamental questions about the identityof her race. It is a work of great humanity, poignancy and couragegiving the account of the dreadful moments when her 16-year-oldbrother, Petrocinio, was burnt alive in front of family members andthe weeks of agony her mother went through before the army left herto die. Menchu proclaims her allegiance to her ethnic group, devotingher life to overthrowing the relations of dominance and exclusionwhich characterise internal colonialism.In her writings she takes up issues of difference and marginality,and looks intensely to the future when her people would finally livein a world that no longer rests on European hegemony. Sheemphatically maintains that we in the Third World inhabit thestructures of violence and violation. Ours is the dilemma of themarginal, incapable to an extent of a radical critique of thedominant. Either we have to re-identify our culture and integratewith the dominant or we risk our political survival.Very realistically she presents some of these risks which avulnerable and economically and militarily backward race faces; themore vulnerable the position, the more one has to negotiate. Menchuhas created a demand for a dialogue, and not, as Gayatri Spivaksays, "a neutral dialogue which essentially results in the death ofhistory". Menchu refuses to be defined by negation and exclusion.Her story is deeply moving because what she has to say is simple andtrue. It is not a fictional but a real world that she creates thatconstantly questions metropolitan cultures and all this is sincerelywoven into the first-person narrative. It is a cry for therestoration of humanism and in particular the classical value ofharmony. Menchu's voice is one the people around the world are ableto hear, especially because it is full of triumph, sadness andsensitivity. She tells her story well with the art which concealsart, so that a series of narratives becomes a complex exploration ofthe meaning of the history of exploitation.Speaking for all Indians of Latin America, she has succeeded inunmasking their historical reality. She traces the meaning of therhetoric of nationalism to her own life, the history of the land andthe inhuman treatment of the natives. Needless to say, rhetoric thatconcerns issues of wider consequence are often sincere in the veryarticulation, a fact often misunderstood by short-sighted andconformist critics of capitalist development and the inevitablechange that goes with it. Menchu's story is about slavery andsuffering through history, and its sheer authenticity demandsworldwide attention.Rigoberta Menchu's work and personal history are not external to eachother, but have an inter-connection, always suggesting a fresh rangeof investigation. Her autobiographical novel should be read inconjunction with works such as Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" orTyeb Salih's "Season of Migration in the North", which "write back"to the cultural assumptions and modes of representation of westernhistory. At the top of her agenda is the study of de-colonisationwithin which she and her people begin to recognise the centrality ofviolence in European culture and the brutalisation of the ThirdWorld. She does not view her people as objects of history, but assubjects forced to sacrifice all for the reconstruction of a new andindependent nation.And ironically, her appeal is to the old European ideology ofnationalism towards which she and her people endeavour to channeltheir energy. Like the Martiniquean poet Aime Cesaire or the Trinidad-born British author C.L.R. James, her work is based on studies ofdomination and control, made from the standpoint of a struggle forindependence and fundamental human rights. The result of such effortsis the upsurge of unprecedented opportunities for the oppressed whoare imperceptibly moving into positions of power. It is only lastyear that the Commission for Historical Clarification issued itsreport describing the government's act "racist" and highlightingthe "massacre, scorched-earth operations, forced disappearances andexecutions of Mayan authorities, leaders and spiritual guides". Thisindicates the attempt to destroy the "social base of the guerrillas"as well as the cultural values that ensured cohesion and collectiveaction in Guatemalan society.Menchu's sister aptly remarked at a rally held recently inGuatemala, "A revolutionary isn't born out of something good, he isborn out of wretchedness and bitterness." The revolutionaries likeMenchu are the avengers of death and their race cannot beextinguished "while there is light in the morning star". They have nopersonal needs while their countrymen live in horrifying conditions.But there will be a time when, "we'll all be happy perhaps not withnice houses but at least we won't see our land running with blood andsweat".Such politics are not learnt at school. Like Menchu one has toturn "One's own experience into something which is common to a wholepeople", to "rise and demand" (in the words of Miguel AngeloAstureas) so that "the universe will bear your hope". And in thisspirit Menchu continues to "speak truth to power" in spite of thedeath threats and telephone harassment she and her friends in theMenchu Foundation have been victim to in the last few months.She holds the government of Alfonso Portillo responsible forthis "climate of terror" and has warned the powerful leaders ofGuatemala that she would never retreat from her defence of humanrights and a universal set of concerns, all of them relating toemancipation, including revisionist attitudes to history and culture.Her voice shall always seek connections with her culture and hercommunity to contest the dehumanising effects of dictatorships. Thiscapacity for resistance is the most significant location of the humanagency of colonised peoples.Menchu's humanism is not homogenising so much as liberational andoppositional, not embedded in any theoretical paradigm so much asbeing located in a historically bound category.*****************************************************---

In, VIJAY SONAWANE wrote:> Dear Mr. Pratap Tambay,>> Your postings are revealations to me about you.> What you were doing at IISc.? You must have gone there> after graduation. By the time one finishes graduation,> his/her ideology is settled and one has acquired some> maturity.Ambedkarites are hooked to Phule-ambedkar> philosophy much earlier. In the youth, some of them> are capable of becoming Dalit Panthers.>> I was aghast to read that you were a President of> Ganesh Mandal at IISc. I am sure that you must have> shown your willingness for your Vaishnavization, that> is why you could become the President of the Mandal.I> can not imagine that you were not aware of 22> commandments given by Babasaheb till the time you> became a graduate.>> The way only those who are willing to remain a slave> can be made slave,in the same way, only those who are> willing to tolerate humiliation can be humiliated.> This happnes and will keep happening to every Dalit> who will not not say loudly that I kick BSO, I am not> a Hindu and I observe 22 commanments.>> I remember to have read your bizzare statement on> this forum in connection with Vipassana that you might> not mind being assimilated in Hinduism. ( I am not> able to recollect your statement verbatim). It> indicates that you are still willing to be> Vaishnavized.>> Vijay Sonawane>>>>> > Message: 3> > Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 12:49:57 -0000> > From: "Pratap Tambay" > > Subject: Threat to democracy: Shinde in Pandharpur> >> > Hi All,> >> > The defiant act of the pandharpur clergy, esp.> > coming at a time, when> > Shinde has set the cat among the pigeons (by pushing> > for reservations> > in the private sector) needs to be viewed seriously.> >> > I am neither congresi, nor RPI, nor BSP. I am dalit.> > A dalit brother> > has been disrobed in public. The opposition to> > Shinde's reservation> > agenda is not as easy to argue with, as this> > opposition. While the> > former is more important, the latter is a useful> > opportunity to push> > the dalit world view in the media. Pushing the> > latter will help us in> > the former. So I think that we should speak up and> > do something -> >> === message truncated ===>>>

Dalits and Buddhism

The key problems of the dalits are caused by the exploitativethought, speech and action structures common to the social lifeof communities in India. These structures are expressions of theexploitative social grammar embedded in the hindu scriptures. Thisgrammar looks logical and harmless if interpreted in its descriptivesense. But it has over time morphed into a prescriptive grammar,gained unprecedented legitimacy and drives social life of Indiancommunities hidden under the camouflage of an insiduous value system.This value system is based around the concept that the value of thelife of the tiniest animal to the universe is equal to the value ofthe life of the largest animal in the universe. Here again, thisseems consonant with modern views of the structure of the universeand seems logical and harmless, since it adequately describesreality. The problem again is that over time, this value systemmorphed into a prescriptive value system, whereby individual'ssocial mobility is limited and constrained by birth and death.Due to the above nature of the hindu scriptures, the dalits at thebottom of the structure continue to suffer and those above themmanage not to feel guilty about it. It is clearly in the interest ofthe non dalits to perpetuate the structure. There is little incentivefor them to support rebellion by dalits against the structure. Manyof them are unable to see the complete unfairness of the system atall times, since its not their problem. Non dalits do not have thelooted (by birth) destinies which typifies the dalits. Most have notseen the pain, hunger and powerlessness without recourse which is apermanent feature of dalit lives. Finally the structure has so muchlegitimacy now that most non dalits may never be able to ridthemselves of the unfairness of it all. And since they are not toounhappy with it, their efforts to modify it are aways going to betentative. The are unlikely to initiate a cleanup of their ownscriptures in a hurry.But liberation of the dalit community requires breaking free of thestranglehold of hindu scriptures. In fact it is mandatory. Burningcopies of these spiritures is only symbolic liberation. The rootcause of the problems of the dalits are the very core nature of theHindu religion. So liberation for dalits requires completeabandonment of that religion. It requires burning away all theimpurity in ones mind caused by these scriptures. But this is onlythe first step. The important next step is to inbibe something whichwill provide adequate structure for ones personal and social life.Dr. Ambedkar investigated many such alternatives and chose buddhism.Most people, who sincerely walk on the path that Dr. Ambedkar walkedin investigating alternatives to buddhism and choosing among them areunlikely to arrive at any other choice. Buddhism is a very goodalternative, esp. in the theravadin version, which retains the wordsof the buddha in their pristine purity. The message of the buddha issimple, clear and complete. Dalits are anyway moving towards it. Anyother choice will create problems for the dalits. But that part ofthe story of the relvance of buddhism to Dalits is well documentedand I will not repeat that history here.Till date, the dalit movement has been past focused and limited tosymbolic battles and victories, due to the very stage of thestruggle. But, with the erosion of state power (and reservations) inthe 90's, along with the increase in informedness and increasingpolitical awareness of the masses, the dalits are now ready for anacceleration in the dalit movement. In fact, if the movement does notaccelerate, then the dalit masses, which had started stirring alittle, may go back to sleep. And dalit elite, falling prey to thepropaganda of the hindutva brigade may betray the dalit movement. Therisk of failure may be high, but the risk of inaction is certainlyhigher. The opening provided by the current break from the onslaughtof the hindutva brigate must be capitalized on. We must initiatestrategies to prevent the hindutva brigade from gaining strength.The social, political and economic focus of the dalit movement willnever fully solve the problems of the dalits completely due toreasons discussed above. This is becoming more and more obvious dayby day. Dalits need to break from the past and create their selvesanew. Buddhism is the direct way of doing this. Building self-respectwithout building other-hatred and yet building a self-sufficient andindependent way-of-life is possible easily through full-fledgedadoption of the buddhist religion. I would exhort all dalits toconvert to buddhism if they already have'nt. If they have I wouldrequest them to rededicate themselves to becoming better buddhists inall aspects of their lives. One of the good ways of doing this wouldbe to do a 10 day course at various centres of the Vipassana ResearchInstitute ( per Gail Omvedt's biography, Dr Ambedkar traveled to Burma andrequested the monks there to come and preach in India. They did notcome at that time. But the Vipassana Research Institute owes itsorigin to the monks of Burma. They came late. Perhaps they shouldhave come earlier. But that is less relevant. They are now here.Dalits should queue and benefit from the dhamma in its purest form.Dr. Ambedkar would have certainly wanted it to be that way. Afterallthe most direct resistance against the hindutva brigade is to moveaway from their core - i.e. the hindu religion.With love towards all and malice towards none.RegardsPratap TambayPS: My life will be my answer to the well meaning people who doubt myallegiance to the highest Ambedkarite principles.

The Right Dhamma

The dhamma explained by the buddha is complete in and of itself. Itdoes not need any addition nor does it require anyone to defend it orprove it to anyone. Basically If someone follows it, the dhamma willyield its benefits to that one. If someone follows an impure version,clearly the benefits will be correspondingly reduced, perhaps even tozero. So arguing about dhamma without following it is wasteful ofeveryones time. But two questions that occupy a large part of thedalit buddhist discourse is1. What the right buddhist dhamma2. What the right response of a buddhist should be to theassimilative nature of the hindu religion.These seem important questions to me and so I am expressing myopinion on this elaborately. I do this with deep gratitude to allthose responsible for bringing the dhamma to me and to thoseresponsible for bringing me to the dhamma. Buddha brought this dhammato me. Dr. Ambedkar brought me to this dhamma. Mr. Goenka brought meto his dhamma. I am grateful to them. May my thoughts, which havearisen through my sincere efforts to remove my own (and otherpeoples) confusion help those who have similar confusions.WHAT IS THE RIGHT DHAMMA?Dr. Ambedkar wrote his book on buddha dhamma based on the pali canon.The pali canon is the earliest documented version of the words of thebuddha. In the abscence of a human buddha among us. following thedhamma expressed in the pali canon is the purest practice ofbuddhism. Please note that Dr. Ambedkar was also called abodhisatvva. I have not come accross anyone calling him a buddha.Moreover since the words of the original buddha (Siddhartha Gautama)are still around, it makes better sense to live by them as advised byDr. Ambedkar himself. I cannot imagine Dr. Ambedkar telling me tolive by his words, rather than the Buddha's words. Dr. Ambedkartraveled to Burma during his lifetime (See Gail Omvedt's book) andbeseeched buddhist monks there to come to India and teach the dhamma.Vipassana has come to India from Burma. It so happens that a guycalled Goenka brought it and is teaching it. I got the Dhamma in thetrue sense from this person. The dhamma he teaches does soundslightly different from the dhamma preached by Dr. Ambedkar. But thetrue test of any dhamma ought to be from its benefits. And myexperience has convinced me that the dhamma preached by Mr. Goenka isbasically a purer communication of the dhamma preached by the Buddhahimself.Secondly in the last few months, I have read maharastra andparticularly Mumbais history. Mumbai had Kanheri caves in 1 BC, andMaharastra had many others which were key centres of buddhism.According to the inscriptions at Kanheri, there were arhants stayingthere. Nalasopara was home to another great arhant. I am confidentthat archaeology and history, if conducted properly will establishthe truth of our buddhist heritage. So when I say I am Buddhist, Itrace my heritage to the Buddha himself. Dr. Ambedkar did not choosea new religion for us. He made us aware of what our heritage is. Wedid not become buddhists. We were buddhists, who forgot who we were.He tried hard to return us to who we were. Given a choice thereforebetween Dr. Ambedkar's words and those of the Buddha, the choice isclear to me. Both of them would have agreed with my method ofchoosing. They would have wanted me to choose based on my directexperience. Based on my direct experience, I choose to follow theBuddha in totality. That is what Dr. Ambedkar told us to do, when hetold us to say "Buddham Sharanam Gacchami, Dhammam Sharanam Gacchami,Sangham Sharanam Gacchami". Partial refuge is hypocrisy.I have taken refuge in the buddha and dhamma and multiple sanghas.The benefits of following the dhamma are clear to me. Any otherdhamma is quickly visible to me as a secondary and usually impureversion of this purest of dhammas. The problems with hinduism,christianity and islam are obvious to me, but my dhamma tells me tonot waste my words and rather others realize the folly of their waysthemselves. I would rather influence them with my life and then ifthey want to, they are welcome to the pure dhamma. Since I haveactually taken refuge in the triple gem and because my refuge iscomplete, I do not fear losing my way, My dhamma will protect me.HOW SHOULD ONE RESPOND TO THE ASSIMILATIVE EFFORTS OF HINDUISM?If the hindu's feel that there is some incompleteness in theirreligion and they want to add/modify/delete from their religion, Isee no reason to stop them. I see it as respect shown to buddha'sdhamma. The old vedic dhamma was pathetic, they polished it up (withinspiration from the dhamma preached by the buddha) to create thecurrent hindu dhamma. If they wish to polish their inheritance, thecurrent hindu dhamma, my opposing them, implies my acceptance oftheir religion as something to do with me. I do not grant them thislegitimacy. I am happy with my inheritance, which the Buddha, Dr.Ambedkar and Mr. Goenka have conveyed to me. I do not desire someoneelse's property.If over time, their practice of their religion becomes exactlysimilar to mine then also I do not plan to abandon the pali canon,the direct words of the buddha. If the hindus want to classify me assect no. 1760 among them, I don't care. Correct self perception andthe perception of all my community is more important. I will do mybest to ensure that I will retain my religion and practice it in itspure form. And I am sure that if this is done done correctly, thehindu's will never be able to stop me from practising my religionwhatever labels they may want to use while refering to me any mycommunity. As long as our community does not forget its heritage andidentity as buddhists, it matters little what labels they use.To me, it is not particularly relevant whether hinduism, now (orlater) wants to expand to absorb the Buddha into their pantheon.Their religion needs some wagh-doodh. I don't mind sharing the Buddhawith them, because our key legacy is in the pali canon (i.e. theTriple Gem, the qualities of the buddha, dhamma and sangha) and innothing else. As long as there is no disturbance to following thetheravadin buddhist way of life, any (if any) superstructure built byhindu's around it is irrelevant to the practicing Buddhist. I do notand will not believe in any such superstructure. I will not allowanyone and anything to get added to the version of theravadinbuddhism known to me through the pali canon.If being a pure buddhist (theravadin) as described above is perceivedas getting assimilated into hinduism, I don't really care about beingassimilated into hinduism in the above sense. Please understand thatthe key thing is to practise and retain the practice of the puredhamma in thought, words and action. As long as that remains, and aslong as the pali canon remain, the hindu religion is welcome to spendits time trying to assimilate us. We have the pure dhamma. Instead ofusing it to live good lives, why should we waste our time, trying toinfluence someone else to purify/not_purify their religion?If hindus manage to purify their religion, it need not mean that wewill leave our religion and start following their religion. This iswhat seems to have happened, when the last such confrontation ofthese religions. We failed our religion last time. We need not fightthem. We merely need to make sure that we follow our religion fullyand not mix anything else with it. As long as we do that, there isnothing to fear.
Dalit "sciences"

Having studied at IISc, despite missing my PhD, I still love academicrigor and appreciate its value. The value of the dissenting voice isvery high in academics. The laws of majority do not work in suchmatters of the truth. Enabling the dissenting voice in the group topresent its difference of opinion is a mark of high culture. Tilldate, this group has shown similar culture. If local/global academicsis not in agreement and the academic sincerely believes that the viewhe/she holds has high value, then it is his/her responsiblity toself/discipline/humanity to struggle and enable the value of thatdifferent view to enrich the life of the community that he/she ispart of. It is sub-optimal and cowardice to run away from thestruggle. It is the struggle which enriches the community.Most social sciences (Anthropology, Sociology, Economics)are "positive". This means that they create theories which are usefulto explain social reality as it is. The "correctness" of thesetheories is measured by the scientists in terms of their utility toexplain social reality. Most social science theories do not have anypre-conceived notions about how societies should be. Theories whichhave such notions are said to have "normative" elements.Criticising "positive" theories, based on ones "normative"inclinations is not good academics.If dalit sociologists are finding it difficult to publish theiracademically rigorous work criticising mainstream work, I have'ntheard of it yet. Its possible that I am not part of the rightcircles. But then, I have'nt come accross any significant critique ofsanskritization (and similar potentially anti dalit theories) yet inbook/research_paper form, which are fora available to all. Are theretoo few dalit academics or are they not good enough to publish in thepremier western journals? Except for Kancha Illiah's dalitizationconcept I have'nt come accoss a single fresh perspective in a longtime.(see I keep coming accross is hatred spewing demagogues in variousshapes and forms. Even if they are sincere, their means prevent themfrom the goals they want to achieve. They don't care about not beingclear about what they are saying. They do not take responsibility forthe explicit and implicit meanings of their words and the damagessuch meanings cause. They don't even care about verifying theirtheories or about the presence/absence of proof form theories ofothers.I am not excited about dalit academics on the fringes of the regularacademics, since they risk degenerating into such demagogues. Atbest, "dalit academics" can be a station, it cannot be a destination.It sounds ominously similar to the dalit "wadi" on the fringes of thevillage wadis.With love, trust and hope

Strategy for the Dalit Movement

I had written an article about the need for the dalit movement tofocus on renaisannce at individual, family and community level,rather than political. I am trying here to describe how that, overtime, can impact/merge into dalit politics.The Dalit movement is significantly constrained by the limitationsimposed by the Pune pact. The Pune pact does this by ensuring thatdalit politicians cannot get elected without the support of nondalits. Given the geographic distribution of the dalit population,dalits can hope to come to power in only a few states. Moreover giventheir predominantly rural presence, with the concomitant illiteracy,limited organizability, poor communicability, etc, there has beennoticable lack of a pan-india mass level nature to the movement.Despite the efforts of multiple dalit parties (RPI, BSP, et al),dalit politics continues to be marginal and matters only at thefringes. It is only due to the intense fragmentation in the votingpattern in the past decade, that dalit political strength has becomevisible. However I predict that the growing political strength is nowhitting the natural barriers imposed by the pune pact and thescattered nature (geographical and socio-religious) of the dalitpopulation.In this context, I think that the strategy of the dalit movementought to be to hit the metros. Anyway, the rural poor has been movingtowards the cities. In the abscence of any significant property inthe rural areas, the pull of the cities pull dalits first into thecities. So the dalit parties should focus on the cities first. Thecities allow the dalit population more freedom to pursue variousvocations and derive subsistence from them. Violations of theirfreedoms are also more noticable due to the sensation seeking media'spresence. Most importantly, their presence in cities allows thepolitics of the cities to be driven by their numbers. This ishappening in Mumbai. I am not proposing something. These things arealready happening. I am merely saying that we should capitalize onthese visible trends. Wasting precious money on pursuing upliftmentthrough political power in rural areas is poor strategy. The dalitmovement should focus on cities.1. We should attract dalits into cities and help them settle down2. Dalits in cities should be organized and energized with Ambedkarithought and religious renaisannce. Dalit community institutions whichembody the social ideals of the dalit movement will drive this.3. Dalits should win economic power in the cities and over time usethat power to influence the politics and participate in it. Anywaythe cities are creating the wealth with which India is shining. Sothis is feasible, since we would then be representing the money bags.4. We should work hard to ensure that the dalits coming intothe cities get to experience the freedoms that were denied to them inthe villages. This can be both a driver and an output of (2)Its time to move from outside the market/village/city to inside themarket/village/city. "Challo Dilli" should be mapped to ChalloMumbai, Challo Chennai and Challo Kokkata, Challo Bangalore. We canleave the upper castes in the villages. Most dalits do not own anysignificant property in the villages anyway. In the cities, no nondalit should be able to win elections in cities without being fullyacceptable in terms of his/her alignment with dalit friendly policies.This can turn the perverse logic of the pune pact on its head andspeed up the dalit movement.
Reservations and "learned helplessness"

I cannot be sure about the reservations bit, but affirmative actionin the private sector is certainly not a red herring. Most dalits(including the ones you mentioned) are resigned to their fates sincethe systemic inequity is too difficult for them to fight alone. I seereservations/affirmative_actions as providing a path for them to comeout of this "learned helplessness". If one's school friend of similarclass and caste breaks out of the "cirle of common fate", thelikelihood of one pushing ones progeny (if not self) to do the sameincreases dramatically.Reservations in the government and public sector have madeuntouchability less of a stigma and less of a deterrent to acheivingone's potential in economic and social terms.I see your argument as similar to that advanced by the Gandhi toAmbedkar regarding the relative importance of dalit emancipation andIndian independence. Clearly the response is similar.I do not deny that the social awakening, educational reform methodsare required. But IMHO, support to those who dare to struggle (asagainst those who succumb to the socialized "learned helplessness")against the system to make something of themselves is more urgent.Moreover strengthening them will accelerate the process ofemanicipation as described above.

Hidden and public dalits

Dalitness - hidden and public dalits

Look monkey, are you one of those typical educated dalit hiding inthe cement jungle?Does anyone know this guy? I am unable to understand why he cannottell us more about himself.> 1. It perpetuates untouchability. For every seat, every job,> every vacancy out there you have to reveal your caste when youapply.> With large personal databases being deployed coupled with> surveillance cameras, our lot will be picked of from a distance. We> wouldn't even know that we were avoided/bypassed.I understand your point 1. Your fear sounds familiar. I know otherswith similar fear. Please understand that in marathi they say "jijaat nahi ti jaat" - caste is defined by its capability to neverleave you. Even if you manage to hide today, it will come out someday. And how long can one live in hiding. And would'nt that life beless than normal. Are'nt we out to remove the stigma that castebrings. Hiding it will not remove it. It will divide us into publicdalits and hidden dalits, making each weaker in their respectivehours of need. We have to make "dalitness" improve in publicperception and not deny a unavoidable part of ourselves. Everyone hasa caste. If a few more people top IIT departments, a few more becomerespected rich and/or powerful, "dalitness" will become morelike "fatness" or "darkness" rather than being the permanent painthat it currently is.A key point about reservation (jobs and education) an is that it doesnot have to mean discounted entry (in principle). E.g. if we findthat Tamil Iyengar Brahmins are scarce in "psychiatry" profession andwe implement reservations and discounted fees to correct the anomaly,then it is safe to predict that the entry marks for those admitted tothose seats will be at a premium to those admitted outside thiscategory. The reason for this is that the best TamBrahms willcertainly go for it, since fees will be less. And they will never beembarrassed about it. Then why should we be embarrassed.Another key point about reservations is that they give you discountedmarks at entry. But I am not aware of any universityawarding "reserved category" degree certificates. If they weredecrease the quality of their output, then reservations in educationcould be questionable.Are you aware of any "untouchability"?. I have'nt seen any. I work ina private sector company at a senior level. My boss and many of mycolleagues know about my dalitness. We rarely discuss it. It hashardly impacted my job or career till now. I have seen nepotism andmuch other bullshit that goes on among corporates irrespective ofdalitness. Ones dalit identity is not actually as much as a burden asyou make it out to be. AND MOST importantly, suppose if you get areserved job. It basically means that you have to work harder toprove yourself. I have attended Microsoft interviews. I have afeeling (unconfirmed) that they have begun "affirmative action". Thefirst job is always difficult to land for dalits, who do not have thesocial network that most non dalits have. Reservations help incorrecting that imbalance.> 2. Once you do get a job through reservations, everybody in the> office knows and you'll never get promoted. Is it surprising that> most of our officer remain at lower grade positions?For many of those who get reserved jobs, the lower grade positionitself is holy manna, given the other options. If you speak about nondeserving reservation beneficiaries, they perhaps deserve theirfates. In case you speak about deserving dalit beneficiaries, IT ISTHE BATTLE THAT THEY HAVE TO FIGHT WITH THEIR LIVES. By theirprofessional performances and achievements, they have to ensure thatthey deserve and get to higher positions, through the nepotism,prejudice, hatred and all other corporate bullshit. Some of us aredoing it and truly its not that hard. I have found that much of thisfear you express is not well-founded.I am not in favor of reservations in promotions. I am in favor ofaffirmative actions just like those in place for women around theworld. The glass ceilings will break if we stress them. Our job is tostress them with our work and personal lives.> 3. It is a divisive issue. Since only a minority of the whole> population benefits from the quota regime, the people left out have> another class of "have-nots" to envy/hate."Quota regimes" are ubiquitous. They are not visible in many cases.They are socially acceptable in many others. We have a democracyhere. Let the "have nots" vote it out. Till date the generalpopulation has not pressurised the politicians to abolish it. Allsaid and done, that decides it in a democracy.> 4. Fundamentally, making any kinds of determinations on> untouchability is wrong. Compromising in this fashion makes us the> kind of people that will keep compromising whenever there is anyiota> of benefit to reach. One of the things I admire about Ambedkar was> his integrity: he never compromised his principles, his morals orhis> people.Unless you are talking about well educated and reasonably well-offpeople like us using reservations, I just dont know what you meanhere. I wonder how Dr. Ambedkar comes in though. If you are talkingabout PLU using reservations, I agree.If you speak about dalits in general using reservations as acompromise, I wonder whether you are aware of the day-to-dayrealities of their dalit lives. Reservation is a social supportmechanism.You seem to question its neccessity without discussing any meaningfulalternatives. Such discussion on abstract principles is not useful.Lets avoid it.> In replies to my posts people have felt necessary to point out that> they have personally benefited from Reservations. I don't disputeit.> Just don't forget that there is a price to be paid for that benefit.There is a price. Please note that I could have stayed hidden likemany others. My life is an attempt to try find the exact price. Andtill date, I find that the price is nothing compared to the benefits,if one overcomes the "good samaritan risk" you mention.

Dalits and politics

Ambedkar, Indigenous people and the low importance of politics by itself

If I recall correctly the UN celebrated one past year (1991?) as the year ofindigenous peoples. I remember noticing that somewhere after that year, theusage of the word Mulnivasi became popular.Indigenous people(s) around the world have been subjugated and demeanedconsciously and (later) unconsciously by invaders from other areas. This istrue all around the world.If Babasaheb's views are not relevant to subjugated people around the world,criticising "mulnivasi" makes sense. But Babasaheb's views provide a generalframework for understanding the problems of subjugated people everywhere andfor solving them through shika, sanghatit vha, sangharsh kara version ofnavayana buddhism. Limiting the applicability of Babasahebs viewsgeographically and ethnically is to deny him his rightful place in history.Please note that this does not mean that I support BSP and/or BAMCEF.Sometimes the power of an idea takes flotsam to great highs. I remember thatHitler came to power leveraging the social situation skillfully. As of rightnow, the dictatorial version of BSP we see is not too different, except forits totally feudal behaviors and attitudes as against the fascists. BSP'sintellectual arm (BAMCEF) has been struggling to evolve an ideology whichmakes sense. But their current and future influence over BSP is suspect.Moreover they seem to be more located in the vernacular inward looking dalittradition, unlike the Chandrabhan prasads, Narendra Jadhavs and Babasahebsof the world.But as many others have said, we don't seem to have much to choose from."Mulnivasi" defines "non-mulnivasi" - a transgressor with the objective oftrouncing him/her in the elections. Perhaps it might help in uniting thosewho are "mulnivasi". But due to the scatteredness and sparseness of dalitpopulations, those who come to power will hardly solve the exploitationproblem, due to their lack of enlightenment. They will become anotherdominant caste...unwilling/unable to leave their feudal ways and thinking. IDONT SEE ANY OTHER LONG TERM OUTCOME OF DALIT(-FRIENDLY) POLITICS AS ITCURRENTLY IS. This has been happening and will keep happening, till all ofus understand Babasahebs message inference that the real way is Navayana and(education, organization, agitation). POLITICS WILL NEVER SOLVE OUR REALPROBLEMS IN ANY REAL WAY.The higher need for socio-religious awakening is clear to me and some amongus. Sadly, I expect a large audience for the social awakening seminar, whilethere was hardly any intellectual presence at Shyam Tagade's correspondingreligio-social session. Till most of us realize why Babasaheb placedreligion above politics in his prescription for dalits in Independent India,more people will attend purely social awakening seminars to discuss somepast centric theories/events/ethnic_identities that many Indians are notaware of and of which there are minimal proofs/definitions.Can we invite Mr. Shyam Tagade to share his views (as reflected in his book)with us at the seminar on fulfilling Mr. Babasaheb Ambedkars views of socialawakening through Navayana Buddhism?With apologies to any Aryans and/or Nagas reading this, lets talk about thefuture at the seminar.

Dhamma is my Bhimrao

Dhamma is my Bhimrao

Over the last few years, I have come round to the view that practicingbuddhism in its "buddha and his dhamma" definition is the only right pathforward. I am also convinced that doing so will ensure pursuit of education,organization and agitation within the framework of "buddha and his dhamma".So pacticing and spreading buddhism (as defined in Buddha and his Dhamma) isthe core proactive social work required. For this I continue to seek atleastone Bhikku, who rigorously follows the vinaya rules, fully understands theimplications of the views expressed in "buddha and his dhamma" and fullyagrees and propagates them. Unfortunately I am yet to find such abhikku/bhikkuni.Many of us are eager to help and find such a Bhikku. Till such a Bhikkuarises, let us preserve our clear understanding and resources amidst thecacophony. Dhamma will ensure that we get the opportunity to give wholesomedana to such a bhikku.

True Dalit Rebellion

True Dalit Rebellion

Sakya clearly has Ambedkarite values and understands deeply the issues. Iwas trying to point out the dangers of intellectuals pushing wrong values.Some folk keep criticising my position of keeping "jai bhim bolo, kahin bhichalo" at home, while going to office. I see the mixing of personal andprofessional as dangerous to dalits. Since this is illustrated in the sadevents related to the Tsunami, I am looking for opinions.I want dalits to rebel through excellence in their professions, rather thanthrough token "jai bhim" behaviors in work places. It is wastefuldistraction at best and at worst can lead to propagation of wrong valuesamond dalits and might even encourage majority reactions like the recent sadevents.Of course I am perfectly fine with ethnically located personal livesorganized around practices like saying "jai bhim" to each other.

Dalit Identity

Dalit Identity

I am not for hiding identity in professional life, but for notharping/emphasising it over the professional identity. In all therelevant formal documents, or in any appropriate personal situationsoccuring in office, it is important to represent our personalidentities correctly. E.g. sometimes coffee table politicaldiscussions and in my case one of the group discussions in anemployment selection process explicitly focussed on a topic relatedto caste. In such case, we certainly should represent ourcommunities, since everyone is representing theirs. Secondly I seeno harm in personalizing our office spaces with other ethnicidentities, other than inviting unwelcome pre-judice, since it isnot intrusive.In this matter, I merely advise the younger lot that till they arewell established in their professional careers, this kind of overemphasis, may lead to prejudice and hidden conscious or unconsciousaction against you, since it says that you want people to see youfirst as a dalit and then as a professional. And since you want themto see you that way, they will see you value the profession lessanyway, so will feel justified in acting against you. So my myadvice is to do this ... once you are better established in yourprofessional careers.That said, it is very important for the well establishedprofessionals from our community to be very open in broadcastingtheir identities in professional places without being intrusive inany way. The above method (personalizing work space) is one of thebest method if it suits the person. It is only if they are fullycomfortable with themselves and yet are well admired professionalsthat we would have laid the foundation of lasting changes inperceptions. But even these well established professional folkshould act first as professionals and then as per their ethnicidentities. The hippocratic oath of doctors is a case in point. Itis only by "correctly" managing our total identities that we canimprove the perception of our dalit identities. Even if we hadidentities which could not be hidden, the point remains that inmulti-cultural situations, work ethics demands putting theprofessional common-ness before the individual ethnic differences.I carry around notebooks with Buddha on it, myself and willcertainly use any good computer wall paper containing buddhisticons. Since I do not have a stable workspace, I cannot personalizeit. While I have'nt done it yet, I guess, based on my learnings fromthis discussion, I will personalize my workspace to show case myidentity non intrusively, since I am now a well establishedprofessional. BTW, having become a vegetarian and having a namecommon among brahmins, people ask me at professional lunches,whether I am a brahmin. I enjoy telling them at such times that I ama buddhist. And if they poke further, I have told them more. SoSantosh et al, I see where you folks are coming from and actually domyself behave that way. I will certainly increase my own behavior inthis manner. But lets not be intrusive and lets not insist thateveryone should do it all the time. Doing it rightly is important toensure that it is safe and non-intrusive and has the right effect.If anyone has good computer wall paper, please share them. Goodbuddhist email signatures also seem ok, since email is kind-of lessintrusive than phone calls or actual conversation. So any greatbuddhist email signatures are also welcome.