The India Post, Chandigarh, 28th February, 2009 : The national seminar on Dalit Social Mobility, concluded with the screening of a documentary based on the field survey that the noted Dalit Rights advocate Chandra Bhan has done in two districts of Uttar Pradesh.
There were three sessions on the concluding day. It began with Prof Rawat’s study of the Chamars of UP, which basically draws from his forthcoming book “A new history of untouchability”. He noted the social and cultural mobilization of the Dalits in UP can be traced back to the early decades of the 20th century. Their main quest was to assert their cultural and social equality and not social mobility. Prof Satish Sharma, focused on the problem of caste based inequalities in the context of Punjab with reference to the role played by the Arya Samaj. A paradoxical mobile immobile situation arises as a result where the ex-untouchables are brought back into the Hindu fold and yet not given their due as the activities of the Arya Samaj benefitted caste Hindus more. Questioning the existing models of conversion and sanskritisation used to make sense of Dalit mobility, Dr Ronki Ram put forward an alternate agenda. He said that the existing models are unable to explain dalit mobility in Punjab and showed how the Ad-dharam movement was different from both. These findings were based on his long-term engagement with the subject over the past many years.
In the second session, Dr Mujibur Rehman made a very fascinating presentation on the missing Ambedkar among Indian Muslims. He brought to light the plight of Muslim dalits and how they had been completely ignored. Dr Himanshu Roy and
Dr. Bhupinder Yadav also presented papers in this session.
In the concluding session, Afroz Alam, Utkarsh and Mogallan Bharati focussed on the issue of dalit mobility and mobilization in UP. Ramesh Nayak study looked at the issue of social mobility among safai karamcharis.. All panels were followed by an intense discussion session in which students, researchers and teachers from the university and many colleges in Punjab participated according to Prof. Ronki Ram, Chairperson, Dept. of Political Science.