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Re: Alternative Media - To Henry & other Dalit Protagonists




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Postings not related to the writing of the Manifesto or policy chapters
are likely to be summarily rejected. Thanks for your understanding. IPI
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Dear Shashi,

        Sub:  IPI debate - India Policy - Alternative Media and Dalit
Issues

Greetings!  I am thankful for your response, which has raised whole lot
of
issues for you. It is not necessary that one should live in slum to
understand the dehumanising conditions of the life of Dalits.  Many of
the
persons working for Non-Governmental Organizations working for the poor
and
voluntary social workers though do not live under the dehumanizing
conditions, by constant interactions of people living in deprived
socio-economic conditions are able to empathize with people, out of the
pain
and anguish of experiencing the suffering of the poor. They are able to
reflect and come out with some possibilities of solutions. The conflict
is
not so much with elitists, and the deprived Dalits.  It is dichotomous
basically between the haves and the have-nots. These economic class
divisions when combined with the social inequalities and social
deprivation
the situation becomes more difficult to tackle.  It is one thing to deal

with economic issues. When economic issues get mixed with social issues
and
religious beliefs like "it is my Karma to born poor and suffer", this
attitude robs initiative to liberate oneself from the clutches of
poverty.
People remain inhibited, oppressed, and exploited because of belief
systems
brainwashing human beings to keep a class under servitude.

I disagree with you on number of things.  It may be an argument to say
that
we live in a world of scarce resources. As Gandhi once said: " there is
enough for every one's need but not enough for everyone's greed". I have

heard from the economists that there is enough food in the world to feed
the
people of the world.  But the access to get the food and knowledge to
get
the food and the mind to get and give the food is not there.

How do you describe when foodgrains given to the famine affected States
in
Africa, like Somalia one tribe waits for the supplies to reach and then
prevents them reaching the famished people of another tribe! The
conflict in
Eastern Europe where man made disasters abound making people to suffer
and
starve. Consequently people are afflicted with disease of malnutrition,
most
of who are children, women and aged people.

If you neglect certain conditions in life, in society, they are like
cancer
eating your body.  These cancerous social factors will destroy the
society
eventually, though not immediately.  For example in India 300 million
people
are living below poverty line.  If this 300 million people would pick up
a
stick and axe and come in the streets of the town and will start causing

violence, what will happen to all the shops, computers, electricity,
telephone lines, etc.  This is what happens during mass riots triggered
of
by some unknown factor. For example, when MGR, our matinee-idol Chief
Minister died, the damage people caused to the shops, etc in Chennai is
disturbing. Something happened in recent caste violence riots in
southern
districts of Tamil Nadu. So it is in our own interest to see that our
people
out of deprivation, frustration, not able to get food, clothes, jobs
should
not become violent, reversing the process of progress, civilization in
society. It is in our own self interest that we care for the poor and
work
for removal of poverty, discrimination, etc.

I incline to agree that science and technology could come to our aid to
solve some of our problems of poverty.  There are people who are in
elitist
groups but are in a better position to reflect and to care and to
express
concern on the problems of poverty. Amartya Sen demonstrated it
recently.
When people are worried about their day to day survival and not able to
think of solutions to problems they are facing.  There is nothing wrong
in
living in an urban life and enjoying the modern amenities if that would
also
make you a good human being, to express concerns on justice and social
issues, which confront us. Many persons seem to express their concerns
on
India by debating the policy including the uplift poor people and
marginalised and socially exploited Dalit people.  Even though by my
college
education, travel abroad, living in the urban area, I am an elitist in
the
eyes of the poor, I have great concern as my heart experiences the
suffering
of the people, of what it is to live in the pavements of streets in
Chennai,
to be without drinking water, toilets and a bed or a fan in the hot
tropical
summer!   My getting educated, living in a city does not prevent me to
interact with the urban and rural poor and the socially deprived and
find
out what their problems are and to seek solutions by participating in
some
activities with them.  If we enjoy certain knowledge and benefits, we
should
not become selfish and consumeristic to ignore certain trends that are
cancerous.   How violence and terrorism arose in Assam and some parts of

Andhra Pradesh where people's war groups have started asserting and
kidnapping, murdering people.  It is from this perspective we have look
at
all the problems of caste and the economic deprivation. We must see that
the
world is not divided and increasingly isolated, losing the sense of
human
community in a global village. We are the people who should be willing
to
bridge the gap and isolation of communities.

Most of your arguments are from your point of view that is one point of
view
of elitist and not looking at the point of view from suffering masses.
I
think in the last four paragraphs of your email you are quite positive
and
lead to some points which can bring more interactions and solutions I
would
like to encourage this kind of interactions irrespective of our
positions
which has plans and ideas to works out solutions.  As an example I would

like to point out that through the India debate policy Mr.K.S.Sastry of
Hyderabad who was in a Senior Government position in the Ministry of
Finance, though comes from an elitist Brahmin family volunteered to
assist
me by visiting me recently. He saw the work I am doing and offered some
advice as an example of the possibility of how we can interact and work
together.  This is really a positive development, an expression of human

solidarity.  Not only through email we get ideas but also we can also
personally understand each other and see how we can work together. It is
for
this purpose I have created The Delta Project Center at the River Palar
Delta site, 80 kilometers south of Chennai, on the East Coast Road,
where we
are creating a Training Center for Youth to live together, learn
together
and work together. So we can be practical in handling some problems
which
confront us.

This is my initial reflection on your email.  Best wishes

Henry Thiagaraj



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