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Dalit Battles

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  • Shaji John K
    Dalit Battles [ MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2003 12:01:40 AM ] Celebrated Hollywood director Roland Joffe s new venture, The Invaders , has met with an unlikely critic.
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 1, 2003
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      Dalit Battles

      [ MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2003 12:01:40 AM ]

      Celebrated Hollywood director Roland Joffe's new venture, 'The
      Invaders', has met with an unlikely critic. The $40-million project,
      an Indian version of 'Braveheart' with the first Anglo-Maratha war as
      its plot, would tell the story of the defeat of the English at the
      hands of the Marathas. But Raja Sekhar Vundru, editor of 'Dalit
      Millennium' and the moving force behind the Bhopal Declaration,
      tells Rajesh Ramachandran that the movie would inadvertently distort
      another facet of the war — the martial role of Dalits in pre-
      independent India:

      What is your apprehension about the proposed film?

      References to the Anglo-Maratha war usually conjure up images of a
      horde of White men fighting the native Marathas. But the truth is,
      the British conquered India with an army composed mostly of Indians.
      The men who fought for the British against the Maratha rulers were
      Mahars, a community of untouchables from present-day Maharashtra.
      Ambedkar was a Mahar and the son of a subedar major, the highest
      rank that Indians could hold those days in the East India Com-pany's
      army. The central theme of the proposed film apparently is the lone
      battle the Marathas won against the British — the battle of Wadagaon.
      And herein lies the problem. Because it was the Mahars in the British
      army who defeated the Marathas in the battle of Koregaon in 1818.
      This last Anglo-Maratha battle conclusively established British rule
      in western India and completed the Company's territorial conquest of
      the country.

      But how does the Koregaon battle take away the significance of the
      earlier battle at Wadagaon?

      Simply because Wadagaon was just one of a series of battles which
      involved Indians on both sides, and which was subsumed by the defeat
      of Koregaon. In that sense, the Anglo-Maratha wars did not end in the
      victory of aliens over natives. Had it been a real Braveheart-like
      situation where one ethnic army clashed with another, there would
      have been no issue at all. Also, the Battle of Wadagaon pales into
      insignificance if you consider that it was a 50,000 strong Maratha
      army that defeated 2,600 men of the British army.

      Why were the Mahars not part of the Maratha army?

      The Mahars were a vital component in Chhatrapati Shivaji's army. He
      deployed 'low caste' Ramoshis, Mahars and Mangs in his infantry and
      naval forces. The latter helped him establish his empire. In fact,
      the British did much the same while establishing their empire. After
      Shivaji's death in 1680, the Peshwa rulers oppressed the Mahars,
      making them hang a pot around their neck to spit and tie a broom
      around their waist to sweep away their 'impure' footsteps. This
      social oppression and exclusion led the Mahars to serve the British
      army and even made them reliable soldiers against the Peshwa rule.
      The British recognised the valour and loyalty of the Mahars and
      recruited them in such large numbers that they became the biggest
      caste group in the colonial army and marine forces. During World War
      I a separate regiment, 111 Mahar, was raised by the British to fight
      overseas.

      How far did this loyalty to the British help the Dalits?

      Ambedkar belonged to a family of fighters. Apart from his father
      Ramji Sakpal, his maternal grandfather and six uncles were all
      subedar majors in the British army. The military training and
      contact helped them in terms of acquiring English education and
      modern outlook and, in turn, the desire to break free from social
      shackles.

      But the British ditched the untouchables when the 1858 Peel
      Commission on army reorganisation refused to recognise them as a
      martial race. By 1893, the recruitment of untouchables in the army
      was completely stopped. Even the 111 Mahar regiment, raised in 1918,
      was disbanded in 1922, despite its exploits in the North West
      Frontier and Mesopotamia. Due to Ambedkar's insistence and the
      exigencies of World War II, the British recruited another Mahar
      regiment in 1940. (Former chief of army staff V K Krishna Rao
      belonged to this regiment.)

      The Bengal army under Robert Clive, which won the battle of Plassey,
      was largely composed of Dushads. According to Ambedkar it was the
      Bombay army of Mahars and the Madras army of Pariahs that saved the
      British during the Mutiny. But the British soon succumbed to the
      prejudice against lower castes. As a result, when the native sahibs
      entered the officers' mess for the first time, the descendents of
      Dalit heroes of Koregaon and Plassey were relegated to the NCO mess.

      How come this history of Dalit valour has completely disappeared
      from public consciousness?

      According to one scholar, the British erected a monument in 1821 as a
      tribute to the valour and loyalty of the Mahars after the battle of
      Koregaon. This cenotaph had the names of 22 Mahar soldiers who fell
      in action. In fact, in the Battle of Koregaon, the British force of
      774 men, of which at least half were Mahars, fought non-stop without
      food and water to defeat the Peshwa's army of 25,000 cavalry and
      8,000 infantry. There is a great deal of research going on into this
      lost history of Dalit valour and martial spirit.
    • Shaji John K
      Dalit Battles Celebrated Hollywood director Roland Joffe s new venture, The Invaders , has met with an unlikely critic. The $40-million project, an Indian
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 23, 2004
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        Dalit Battles

        Celebrated Hollywood director Roland Joffe's new venture, 'The
        Invaders', has met with an unlikely critic. The $40-million project,
        an Indian version of 'Braveheart' with the first Anglo-Maratha war
        as its plot, would tell the story of the defeat of the English at
        the hands of the Marathas. But Raja Sekhar Vundru , editor of 'Dalit
        Millennium' and the moving force behind the Bhopal Declaration,
        tells Rajesh Ramachandran that the movie would inadvertently distort
        another facet of the war - the martial role of Dalits in pre-
        independent India:

        http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/41879867.cms



        What is your apprehension about the proposed film?

        References to the Anglo-Maratha war usually conjure up images of a
        horde of White men fighting the native Marathas. But the truth is,
        the British conquered India with an army composed mostly of Indians.
        The men who fought for the British against the Maratha rulers were
        Mahars, a community of untouchables from present-day Maharashtra.
        Ambedkar was a Mahar and the son of a subedar major, the highest
        rank that Indians could hold those days in the East India Com-pany's
        army. The central theme of the proposed film apparently is the lone
        battle the Marathas won against the British ^x the battle of
        Wadagaon. And herein lies the problem. Because it was the Mahars in
        the British army who defeated the Marathas in the battle of Koregaon
        in 1818. This last Anglo-Maratha battle conclusively established
        British rule in western India and completed the Company's
        territorial conquest of the country.

        But how does the Koregaon battle take away the significance of the
        earlier battle at Wadagaon?

        Simply because Wadagaon was just one of a series of battles which
        involved Indians on both sides, and which was subsumed by the defeat
        of Koregaon. In that sense, the Anglo-Maratha wars did not end in
        the victory of aliens over natives. Had it been a real Braveheart-
        like situation where one ethnic army clashed with another, there
        would have been no issue at all. Also, the Battle of Wadagaon pales
        into insignificance if you consider that it was a 50,000 strong
        Maratha army that defeated 2,600 men of the British army.

        Why were the Mahars not part of the Maratha army?

        The Mahars were a vital component in Chhatrapati Shivaji's army. He
        deployed 'low caste' Ramoshis, Mahars and Mangs in his infantry and
        naval forces. The latter helped him establish his empire. In fact,
        the British did much the same while establishing their empire. After
        Shivaji's death in 1680, the Peshwa rulers oppressed the Mahars,
        making them hang a pot around their neck to spit and tie a broom
        around their waist to sweep away their 'impure' footsteps. This
        social oppression and exclusion led the Mahars to serve the British
        army and even made them reliable soldiers against the Peshwa rule.
        The British recognised the valour and loyalty of the Mahars and
        recruited them in such large numbers that they became the biggest
        caste group in the colonial army and marine forces. During World War
        I a separate regiment, 111 Mahar, was raised by the British to fight
        overseas.

        How far did this loyalty to the British help the Dalits?

        Ambedkar belonged to a family of fighters. Apart from his father
        Ramji Sakpal, his maternal grandfather and six uncles were all
        subedar majors in the British army. The military training and
        contact helped them in terms of acquiring English education and
        modern outlook and, in turn, the desire to break free from social
        shackles.

        But the British ditched the untouchables when the 1858 Peel
        Commission on army reorganisation refused to recognise them as a
        martial race. By 1893, the recruitment of untouchables in the army
        was completely stopped. Even the 111 Mahar regiment, raised in 1918,
        was disbanded in 1922, despite its exploits in the North West
        Frontier and Mesopotamia. Due to Ambedkar's insistence and the
        exigencies of World War II, the British recruited another Mahar
        regiment in 1940. (Former chief of army staff V K Krishna Rao
        belonged to this regiment.)

        The Bengal army under Robert Clive, which won the battle of Plassey,
        was largely composed of Dushads. According to Ambedkar it was the
        Bombay army of Mahars and the Madras army of Pariahs that saved the
        British during the Mutiny. But the British soon succumbed to the
        prejudice against lower castes. As a result, when the native sahibs
        entered the officers' mess for the first time, the descendents of
        Dalit heroes of Koregaon and Plassey were relegated to the NCO mess.

        How come this history of Dalit valour has completely disappeared
        from public consciousness?

        According to one scholar, the British erected a monument in 1821 as
        a tribute to the valour and loyalty of the Mahars after the battle
        of Koregaon. This cenotaph had the names of 22 Mahar soldiers who
        fell in action. In fact, in the Battle of Koregaon, the British
        force of 774 men, of which at least half were Mahars, fought non-
        stop without food and water to defeat the Peshwa's army of 25,000
        cavalry and 8,000 infantry. There is a great deal of research going
        on into this lost history of Dalit valour and martial spirit.
      • Kushal
        Hi, You will surely enjoy this. Regards Kushal ============================================================= Source: The Hindu
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 24, 2004
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          Hi, You will surely enjoy this.
          Regards
          Kushal

          =============================================================
          Source: The Hindu
          (http://www.hinduonnet.com/yw/2004/02/21/stories/2004022100020100.htm
          )

          Portraits of school ~ GEETA PADMANABHAN

          How different would it be to go to school in India? Well, very, as
          Lisa Heydlauff found out... Not very long ago, in a British school,
          seven-year-old Oliver asked his teacher Lisa Heydlauff, "What is it
          like to go to school in India?" Lisa didn't have an answer. She
          promised him that if she ever went to India, she would find out.

          Lisa did come to India. She travelled and wrote stories. Then it
          struck her she should write "stories about children for children"
          since this would give you a chance to make a difference. She then
          wrote Going to School in India.

          The book is a celebration. It acknowledges the fact that children in
          little known parts of India brave a lot to be in school; the fact
          they walk several kilometres in fair and foul weather, pedal
          bicycles on mud tracks or ride a horse or mule buggy. They go on a
          hand rickshaw, a tractor, a camel cart. They walk along mountain
          paths, cross swirling rivers on a dangling rope bridge, bicycle for
          an hour across dry, shadeless land, glide in a boat, to reach
          classrooms. Many have no books or shoes. And these classrooms can be
          anywhere — and anything. It could be a mountain field, a desert
          tent or a lamp-lit temple. It could be a moving bus.

          Ask them why they go to school. They will tell you it is because
          they believe education can change their lives. Going to school and
          learning will help them become what they want. They will also tell
          you what they would change in the school they attend.

          Every thick, glossy colourful page in Going to School has three
          heart-warming items: first Nitin Upadhye's photographs. Sometimes
          funny, sometimes thought-provoking and always captivating, they give
          you an angle to the story that's as fresh as the children's faces on
          the page. Scattered among the photographs and the stories are
          coloured drawings by children, sketches that only children can draw.

          Then there are Lisa's stories. In her portraits of the children and
          their myriad backgrounds one detects a haunting melody. As she
          writes, Lisa opens a door to a small world in a corner of India,
          describes the children, their environment and their activity and
          steps aside. Her subjects effortlessly take over to share their
          schooling experience, to voice their opinions and articulate their
          demands. The result is a lovely string of unvarnished,
          unromanticised accounts that are always within a touch of humour.

          Meet Haider, who goes to school on a wheelchair. He makes it because
          his friends take turns to push him over potholes; Devki, the 13-year-
          old who works during the day and teaches at night using solar
          lanterns; Rohit Kumar in a Madhya Pradesh village, who learns about
          roots on a forest trail and talks of becoming a scientist. "Not the
          rocket-type scientist, but I want to find out more about trees."
          Shabeer who crosses the Dal lake in Kashmir to go to school which is
          often closed. Parvez, who lives in a railway station, reports on
          other children like him for a wallpaper he and his friends bring
          out. Think of this: A mock parliament is conducted under a mango
          tree in a school in Uttar Pradesh. In Kargil, close to the LoC,
          children use painted rocks to learn the alphabet. At the
          Bhubaneshwar Platform School, puppets are used to teach children to
          take care of themselves and the money they earn. And finally, when
          you buy this book, you will set off a wonderful chain of activities.!

          The money will go to support innovative, fun activities for kids in
          government schools. The royalties will help create a giant,
          travelling puppet show for a district in Bihar where children don't
          go to school. Log on to www.goingtoschool.com to see it.


          Going to School in India by Lisa Heydlauff published by Penguin
          Enterprise, Rs.495.
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