The upper caste story is not the only story of India- student’s training camp on caste at Amrita Bhoomi

Students dancing spontaneously

22 Aug: The Bahujan Vidyarthi Sangh (BVS), a student group with members from the so called bahujan groups conducted a five day camp for students at Amrita Bhoomi. Bahujan means “majority of the people’, which includes Dalits, Adivasis, and many other castes and religions of the subcontinent who are caste-bound and ruled by upper-caste minorities. About hundred students attended from across Karnataka. 

BVS routinely conducts such training camps across Karnataka state. The camps focus on studying Indian history and society from an alternative perspective of that of the upper caste ‘Manuvadi’ versión.  Manuvad roughly translated to Manu-ism, is the rule of law based on the Manusmriti – the principle code of law of Hinduism which lays down the rules for the different castes.  It is the proverbial ‘Bible of the Brahmans’ and promotes a systematic exploitation and slavery of the so-called ‘lower’ castes and all women, keeping them in a permanently subordinate role.

Girls led most of the sessions during the camp

These BVS camps focus on building the pride and self-confidence of youths from such castes, and creates cadre to join the larger social struggle for their rights.

“This is the first time I was able to learn the real history of India,” said Shashikala of Gundelpet district. “I always took for granted what we experienced, but now I know why it is wrong. I will bring more youth from my village to attend this camp next time,” she said.

Students came from all across Karnataka

“I have been attending these camps for the last seventeen years. We have to fight for social justice and equality in our society. We also have to fight against large scale privatization of our economy,” said Narayanswami from Gundalpet.

The entire camp was conducted through volunteer work by the students.

Song and dance encourage self-expression and are at the heart of the camp – students sang revolutionary songs, and both the women and men danced unabashedly.

Students took an oath to not buy products from multinational corporations, but to support locally produced food and other materials. 

Kannaiyan from the farmers’ movement adressing the students

“Amrita Bhoomi is proud to host this camp, and we will continue to do so. The annihilation of caste is at the centre of our educational programmes here, we must build such active solidarity with different social struggles,” said Chukki Nanjundasway of the KRRS, who is also in the coordination of Amrita Bhoomi.

“We have to intensify our struggle against the growing communalism in India today. The upper caste Hindu fundamentalists are misinterpreting history today to spread hatred and violence and increase the polarization of our country. We have to bring everyone together, not divide our country,” said Kannaiyan Subramiam of South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements.

by- Ashlesha, Amrita Bhoomi