Dalit movement has deteriorated

11th Sept 2000

NASHIK, SEPT 10: Chairman of the Phule-Ambedkarite Literary Conference, Prof Mahendra Bhavre, lambasted many Dalit litterateurs for their servile attitude towards upper-caste Hindus and called upon the new generation to lead the ``progressive movement'', which had come to a standstill.

In his presidential address at the two-day conference, Bhavre pointed out that while politicians were more interested in selfish gains, litterateurs were interested in creating their own groups and getting facilities. He named several Dalit litterateurs for putting self before society.

Bhavre launched a scathing attack on those Dalit litterateurs who joined the Samajik Samarasta Manch (a RSS outfit) calling them traitors. He observed that such litterateurs were still under mental slavery of fascist Hinduism and wanted a stamp of approval from established Hindus on their talents.

He named senior litterateurs like Dr Gangadhar Pantawane and Dr Yeshwant Manohar for joining the Samarasta Manch and Namdeo Dhasal (one of the founders of the Dalit Panthers) for bowing before the (Shiv Sena) rulers.

Socialist leaders also came under his attack. The author described them as pretentious. He claimed that Socialist leaders were all brahmins and that they were working against the interest of Socialism. Under such circumstances, Bhavre opined that the progressive movement had petered out and it was for the new generation of Dalits to lead it and make it strong and vigorous again.

Speaking on the occasion the Mumbai University Vice-Chancellor Bhalchandra Mungekar said Dalit literature was the most significant development in post-independent India as it had broken the monopoly of the established class. Moreover, with its originality and ideology of equality, it had succeeded in creating new norms of evaluating literature.

He, however, said that mere literature could not change society as it could only pave way for change. He stressed on the important role of educational, financial institutions and cooperatives in the upliftment of the Dalits.

He pointed out that the Peoples' Education Society (PES), established by Dr Ambedkar, still continued to be the only institution of its kind and no such institutions had been founded for the past 50 years. He added that the PES had enabled him, a faceless student from Konkan to undertake college studies and to rise to become a Vice-Chancellor of the Mumbai University.

Stressing on the need for establishment of Dalit financial institutions, he urged the Dalits to emulate the examples of other communities like Saraswats and Vaishyas in this direction.

Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who inaugurated the Conference, called for the unity of all progressive-minded people to strengthen the fight against communal forces. He lamented that the progressive movement in Maharashtra had been affected as the Dalits were divided into various factions.

He announced that girls, belonging to families living below the poverty-line, would be given free education upto the degree level.

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