Letters with Insight
I just found your wonderful Navayana-Insight, web page. I heard about Doc Ambedkar many years ago but did not know he coined the phrase "Navayana". This is very interesting. I am a 46 year old man who has practiced Buddhism for 20 years. And am very interested in the work of your organization to help improve Indian society. Thank you for your wonderful aspiration to follow in the footsteps of Doc A.
I was reading Sujatha's article. I want to congratulate her for such wonderful article. She is made of steel. 'Belonging' to a class/caste is an excuse for tying your own hands...Sujatha realized this and has only climbed up the ladder to free herself...very inspiring...falling short of words...
I have one complain with Editorial Collective. My article in the last issue wasn't edited well enough. It didn't sound crisp nor did it flow smoothly from one paragraph to the next. It was very difficult writing personal details about so many lives in the first place. At the end of an emotionally taxing exercise of writing it out, seeing a badly subbed copy in print broke my heart. I suggest you guys don't do it in a hurry next time. These are people's lives and their most delicate and difficult emotions on paper.
Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi
Congratulations on the new-look that Insight has got! Its indeed wonderful that you effort is picking up so well. A couple of things that other readers/subscribers told me after going through the articles, and which I too share - 1) Insight needs to be primarily the voice of students, although it’s good to take everyone along with you. 2) In the interviews, more probing questions are needed. The answers sometimes seemed somewhat predictable because the questions too were quite so.
Thanks. What struck me about the issue is that you have solicited important contributions... I recall a book printed (where?) which had the papers of a seminar somewhere in Maharashtra a few years ago - also of Dalit women, but included a few others. Dr. Vijayabharati of Hyderabad had also spoken there. Yes, I agree that there needs to be more reflection on dalit feminist issues. I would have liked more details in interviews about dalit-feminists and their experiences with other feminists, left organizations and male dalit organizations. These narratives are very important because they have never been articulated before. Swathi touched it briefly in her intro, but I was left wanting more.
I am very much delighted to see Insight, a magazine brought out by Dalit students of JNU. I read the editorial written by Swathy Margaret. It is thought provoking and questions some of the hegemonising tendencies prevalent in the Dalit movement. I think the present Dalit leadership (both in various political parties and those who lead caste organizations) limit their endeavors to gain certain 'benefits' from the State. I would like to draw your attention to one of the recent Kerala govt. decisions that says that the caste of the children of intercaste marriages would be that of the father alone. Earlier child has the prerogative of choosing either and in most cases; they were give all the benefits of Dalits. Kerala govt. has given orders and the law was implemented form last April onwards. This was in accordance with one of Supreme Court verdict which says that caste of the children of inter-caste marriages would be that of the father. Within no time our "model state" has created law to weaken Dalits. Not even a single Dalit organization in the State has so far come forward to question this law. This shows the real patriarchal nature of all these Dalit organizations.
SN School of PA, FA and Communication, University of Hyderabad
I had the opportunity to review this entire issue and feel very happy to read a new topic of Dalit feminism. Every single article was a class by itself, starting from the Editorial page by M. Swathy to Dr. Kesava Kumar's last one.
To me this was for the first time I came to realize this vast resource of our women intellectuals. Writing, scholarship and analytical work have been men's domain but certainly this was an ice breaker. Every one of us must support them in their pursuits and reassure them that for them sky is the limit, unless you limit yourself.
Historical research article by Smita Patil was great. Our activist women like Rajni Tilak, Pushpa Balmiki, Sujatha Surepally, Du. Saraswathi and others showed their aspirations and frustrations, not only with society in general but with our dalit men folk as well. They all deserve our respect and to be treated as equals.
The other half of the issue "Permanent Column" and "General" were very enjoyable as well. Our cartoonists did a great job of the front and back page. I think they are no less brilliant than Laxman the legendry cartoonist of India.
Dr. Laxmi N. Berwa,
M.D., F.A.C.P, Virginia, USA