Posts filed under ‘events’

The Ambedkar Memorial lecture

The 6th Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Lecture (AML) is on “Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s Thoughts on Women’s Emancipation” and the lecture will be delivered by renowned sociologist, Dr. Sharmila Rege.

She has done extensive work in the fields of Sociology of Gender, Social Theory, Dalit Studies and Cultural Studies. She is currently the Director of the Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule Women’s Studies Centre, in the University of  Pune.

The lecture is intended to deliberate on the issues of women from both Dalit and women’s movements. Linking up with the present scenario, the lecture would attempt to throw light on women’s issues from the perspective of Dr. Ambedkar and his role in women’s emancipation.

Tata institute of Social Sciences,
Convention Centre, Naoroji Campus,
Deonar, Mumbai
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Timing: 5pm- 9pm

Here’s how the theme of the lecture has been conceptualised.

We shall see better days soon and our progress will be greatly accelerated if male education is persuaded side by side with female education…”[*]

Dr. Ambedkar – the determined fighter and a deep scholar, secured the highest academic honors from some of the most prestigious universities of the world. The strongest dalit leader of modern India who stood against Indian unjust society and faught for Dalits rights (Women, SC, ST, and Minorities) to have emerged till date, he represented the dalits at several national and international forums, at a time when they were deprived from various aspects of life.  

He went ahead to become the chairman of the Drafting Committee and drafted the Constitution incorporating the concerns of all sections of the nation. He worked on wide range of issues concerning dalits. He made significant efforts to lead the society s on the path of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

Dr Ambedkar believed in the strength of women and their role in the process of social reform. His academic paper ‘Caste in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development’ specifically talks about women and states that “there is no divine or natural cause of origin of caste but Brahmins of ancient India craftily designed it by enclosing their class through means of controlling and subjugating their woman.” He also made women’s issue as an integral part of his fortnightly newspapers – Mooknayak and Bahiskrit Bharat.

The historic Mahad Satyagraha witnessed participation of three hundred women along with their male counterparts. Addressing another meeting of about 3000 women, he said,

“I measure the progress of community by the degree of progress which women had achieved. Let every girl who marries stand by her husband, claim to be her husband’s friend and equal, and refuse to be his slave. I am sure if you follow this advice, you will bring honour and glory to yourselves.”  

He strongly advocated for family planning measures for women in Bombay Legislative Assembly. In 1942, being a Labour Minister of Executive Council of Governor General, he introduced a Maternity Benefit Bill. He provided several provisions in the constitution for protecting the welfare and civil rights of women. He introduced the Hindu Code Bill in the Parliament and highlighted the issues women’s property rights. The bill received strong opposition from many political leaders. In turn, Dr. Ambedkar resigned from the cabinet expressing his discontent over non acceptance of woman’s rights by the parliament.

Besides, he highlighted the issues of Muslim women. His secular perspective is known through his thoughts on ‘Purdah’ (Veil) system, religious conversions and legal rights for Muslim women. In short, along with the depressed class women, his thoughts for emancipation of all the women are expressed with same allegiance.

Locating Dalit Women in Ambedkar’s Thoughts

Women bearing the dual identity of dalit and women and belonging to low economic strata, undergo double marginalization and triple subjugation in society. The patriarchal nature of the religious systems restricts the development of women and reduces them merely to a pleasure deriving entity for men. The practices like child marriage, opposition to widow re-marriage, sati and other such practices are employed to subjugate women and religious texts and scriptures are referred to justify these acts.

1970s witnessed two powerful movements- the Dalit Panther Movement and Women’s Movement. They provided a platform to voice out people’ issues but both the movements did not articulate the issues of downtrodden amongst the downtrodden i.e. dalit women. In spite of being an active supporter and an integral part, their issues were sidelined from the entire process of agitation.

 Though the problems of dalits are far from being resolved, Ambedkar Memorial Lecture (AML) envisages the need to spread awareness by evoking curiosity about his thoughts on women.

This year’s Ambedkar Memorial Lecture is being organized by students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences on the thoughts of Dr. Ambedkar on women’s emancipation. The aim is to learn about Ambedkar’s philosophy concerning women and ways of incorporating them in the political process for building a just society.

The lecture would aim towards learning the factors on missing dalit women’s issues from both dalit and women’s movement. Linking up with the present scenario, the lecture would look forward to throw a light on women’s issues, particularly of dalit women through the perspective of Dr. Ambedkar.  

We seek to learn more on women emancipation and more importantly, about Dr. Ambedkar’s enduring principles to solve the problems of half the world. 

[*] Dr. Ambedkar’s words during his studies at New York



January 8, 2010 at 6:31 pm 1 comment

Tiss Talking

In a campus where we lead separate, disconnected lives, it is indeed a remarkable moment when we do come together to raise a voice, however small.

On the eve of Human Rights Day and in consonance with the International Fortnight Protesting Violence against women (November 25-December 10), a group of students came together to initiate a programme that hopefully marks the beginning of a more vibrant discussion about issues of women on campus and in the outside world.

In an unintended tribute to how women record and pass on their history down generations, songs, so much a part of oral history, were the most powerful part of the programme, ranging as they did from violence within the family to outside to how it impinges on the woman’s perceptions of her self.

The presentations – about students’ initiatives on speaking out on violence against women – were also reflective about various small efforts that people are involved in to bringing into focus issues of women, and different categories of women.

Thus we have the annual Ambedkar Memorial lecture, which for the first time, is focussing on women and Ambedkar’s philosophical standpoint on the question of women. Speaking out against the oppressive violence that Dalit women face, particularly that of sexual violence, a group of students have taken active initiative about a rape case in Beed district to highlight the systemic violence that dalit women are subjected to, because they are women and women of an oppressed caste.

While some students are keenly following the rape case of a former TISS student, which has had repercussions on our lives on campus as well, another presentation by the Committee Against Sexual Harassment sought to demystify this Supreme Court appointed committee and dispel the notion that it is “anti-men”.

For students who want to engage with the world and its structures, we need to break silences – silence especially around women, their lives and the violence that is part of many women’s everyday. And here this evening, the event sought to break this silence on campus.

And as part of this effort to keep talking, TissTalks calls for entries to the blog on the theme gender. Please do write in to

December 10, 2009 at 3:19 am Leave a comment

TISS Students take stand against inaction on caste-based atrocities

Hello all,

A rape incident in Beed district of Maharashtra brought some of us together to look into caste-based atrocities, particularly against dalit women, in this State. Many public meetings later, it was decided that a letter expressing our concerns and articulating our demands be sent to relevant government authorities in the State and the Centre as well as various commissions and the media.

Following is the letter, which has been passed in the GBM held on Saturday. Please do sign up for it on the posters that have been put up near both the dining halls and the new campus canteen.

Respected Madam/Sir,

We, the students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, write this letter to you to condemn caste-based atrocities against Dalits, particularly Dalit women, across the State of Maharashtra.

The immediate context to this letter is the gang rape of a 15-year old dalit girl at the village of Ranjani at Georai taluka in Beed district, Maharashtra on August 23, 2009 by some upper caste men. The trauma of the rape apart, the girl was beaten up by the police and threatened against making a complaint. The FIR was registered only at the instance of the District Magistrate of Beed but even then the crime, clearly a caste-based atrocity, has not been registered under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. About a month into the rape, the accused have also not been arrested.

Incidents of caste-based violence in Beed District are not new and newspapers over the last few months provide evidence of this rising brutality. On August 24, 2009, a dalit man from Malaspimpalgaon was poisoned to death because he refused to beat the drum during the ‘Pola’ festival. Earlier, on June 25, 2009, another dalit man from Phulepimpalgaon at Mazalgaon was murdered by upper caste people. On January 17, 2009, in Shindi village, two Dalit college girls were severely beaten and paraded in the village because they did not respond to lewd remarks by upper caste people.

Organisations working with Dalits in Beed district – Rural Development Centre and Savitribai Phule Mahila Mandal – have found that out of the 247 cases, registered for offences against SC/ST between 2001 and 2008, over 70 such atrocities have been against women.

This data points to a larger incidence of increasing caste based violence against Dalits across the State. Government data shows that the number of atrocities against SCs in the state has gone up from 689 in 2004 to 844 in 2005, 1,001 in 2006 and 1,173 in 2008. (Indian Express; August 5, 2009)

The increasing violence also shows the complicity of the police with people from upper castes in perpetuating atrocities against Dalits, particularly Dalit women. This is clearly seen in the gang-rape of the 15 year old Dalit girl from Beed.

That women bear the brunt of caste-based violence is well documented. Even in this case, the girl was raped and then beaten up by the police when she went to file her complaint, not just because she is a woman but importantly because she is a Dalit. Violence against dalit women, we assert, is to perpetuate and sustain caste superiority. Rape of women from the dalit community is a tool of violence used by upper-castes to maintain their control over marginalized communities.

Therefore, to prevent atrocities and to strengthen security of Dalits, we demand that following action be taken:
1. The case must be registered under the SC/ST (PoA) act.

2. The P.S.I. of Georai police station should be suspended immediately and action taken against him under section 4 of SC/ST (PoA) Act, 1989. The Sarpanch, Police Patil, S.P., D.M. should be held responsible in case of atrocity in their areas, under the same provision.

3. Police have been seen as complicit in caste-based atrocities. Efforts, in the form of training programmes, by the State Government are necessary to ensure that the police act as agents outside of the caste system and ensure safety of the marginalized. It must be ensured that the police do not make victims of caste-based violence more vulnerable.

4. Beed district should be declared as Atrocity Prone Area, a provision under section 17 (1) of the SC/ST (PoA) Act, 1989.

5. A comprehensive review of caste-based atrocities in all districts must be undertaken and those areas which see a high incidence of such atrocities must be declared atrocity prone areas as well.

6. The State should undertake its duty of providing economic and social rehabilitation for victims of all caste based atrocities, as given under section 21 (iii) of the SC/ST (PoA) Act, 1989.

7. A collective fine must be imposed on villages where caste atrocities have been reported, as provided for under section 16 of the Act.

8. In most caste-based atrocities, it has been seen that the police do not register cases against the SC/ST (PoA) Act. It must be made mandatory for the police to register them under this act. Action must be taken against those police officials who do not register it under the Act.

9. Investigation by a special committee on why the gang-rape case at Beed had not been registered under the Act should be undertaken since it could provide indicators to the visible trend of not registering caste-based atrocities under the Act.

10. Caste-based violence against women must be registered under provisions in the SC/ST (PoA) Act and the Indian Penal Code together. This reflects the understanding that violence against women is because they are vulnerable as women and also as members of the dalit communities.

Lastly, the State must explore initiatives to encourage collective action among Dalit women for their empowerment and to provide them a safe environment. We would like to add, that we intend to follow the proceedings of this case closely and will be awaiting an urgent response from you, to decide on further action. We hope that the above demands are considered at the earliest so that the confidence of Dalits and the general public in the State is restored.

September 23, 2009 at 2:32 am 4 comments

Queer Azadi Mumbai

QAM posterIn continuation with last years celebration and in light of the recent judgment, the Queer Azadi March 2009 is being held with more colour and enthusiasm on the 16th August at 4pm. From August Kranti Maidan to Chowpatty and back. Like last year this year also students intend on marching under the TISS banner yet again. Lets all march together in solidarity.

For Further Information

August 11, 2009 at 12:43 am 2 comments

Nirvanam on 26 September 2008

Culture Café, Centre for Media and Cultural Studies, TISS presents




by Pritham K. Chakravarthy



Date: 26th September 2008

Time: 6 p.m.

Venue: Main Quadrangle, Tata Institute of Social Sciences


Entry Free



is a powerful one person performative exploration of the journey towards becoming an Aravani (or transgendered subject).  Nirvanam refers to the act of liberating oneself from the male body and transforming oneself to a female. This narrative bears witness to the tumultuous journey towards a reinvented selfhood, a journey fraught with violence, exploitation, affection and courage




Pritham K Chakravarthy is a storyteller, playwright, director and actor. Scripted and performed by Pritham, Nirvanam was a part of The Edinburgh International Festival 2002. Since then all her solo pieces, Nirvanam, Mirror/Kannadi and Dushala have been performed extensively in the UK and USA. Within the country they have been featured at The Park Other Festival, The Metro Theatre Festival, Bangalore Habba and Natarani Festival of Non-violence. She has been the recipient of several fellowships, including Ashoka Innovators Fellowship, 1995-96, Fulbright Fellowship, 2002-2003, Charles Wallace Fellowship, 2007 and the SARAI Independent Fellowship 2007. She is also an author and a translator. Her latest work includes The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction and Zero Degree – Charu Nivedita. She is currently Artist in Residence at the Centre for Media and Cultural Studies, TISS. 

September 22, 2008 at 6:47 pm Leave a comment

TISSTalks calls for you

Dance. Music. Theatre. Stories. Ideas.

If you want to participate in the events of TISSTalks or if you just want to be involved…

We are meeting at the Main Campus Dining Hall on the 5th of September (Friday) at 6.00 p.m.

All are invited.

August 31, 2008 at 2:06 pm Leave a comment

TISSTalks with Pramada Menon








6:30 PM

Pramada Menon is a co-founder of CREA. She has spent the last two decades of her professional life questioning, challenging and seeking answers on issues of women’s human rights. Her primary interest lies in working with people and she has facilitated learning processes with a number of people on a range of issues related to gender, sexuality and leadership. Pramada would like to develop new ways of learning and teaching and is currently exploring ways in which humor can be injected into the world of social change. She is currently Artist in Residence at the Centre for Media and Cultural Studies, TISS

August 24, 2008 at 6:48 pm 3 comments

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