Thousands of Girl students of the Dev Samaj College for Women raised protest to condemn the horrendous brutal gang rape of a young girl at Delhi. The girls demanded that a review of the judicial prosecution and effective policing to check women sexual harassment is to be done; rapists and eve teasers should not be spared. Sawti, student of the college said that “At all public places, school and colleges, the government should install big bill boards highlighting the quantum of punishments for the crime and harassment to women. There should be regular patrolling by policemen near the streets to women colleges, schools and at public places to check any kind of harassment to women. Amritpal said that in Indian society girls are not encouraged to raised their protest to any kind of eve teasing, due to fear and also because in most of the cases the girls are made themselves responsible for such harassment citing their dress code or behavior. Time has come when the society should realize that that the fault is with the patriarchal thoughts which want to command women bodies and their lives. Amritpreet said that the crime against women is rising as there is no fear of the policemen and there is absence of a fast judicial prosecution. In many cases the convicts are let off on bail and the social stigma along the injuries is left with the victim. In the Indian society, these days, the culprits think that they would either bribe the policemen or would exercise their power influence. Sukhmeet demanded that Fast Track Courts should be introduced to deal with the incidents of rape and harassment to the women. She said that it is not just Delhi where girls feel unsafe but even in small towns and cities they are unsafe too. Khushpreet appealed the parents to teach their sons to respect girls and women. Amandeep demanded to stop the indecent and invoking vulgar hindi and Punjabi songs and advertisements which projects women as alluring objects immediately. Dr. Madhu Prashar, principal of the college asked the students to be bold and report the matter of any eve teasing immediately to the college authorities. She expressed her deep anguish for the Delhi rape victim and demanded strict punishment for the guilty. The protest followed by a discussion was organized by Critique Ferozepur Chapter and Philosophical Society, a student’s discussion forum of the college.
Department of Philosophy, Critique Ferozepur Chapter and Philosophical Society of the Dev Samaj College for Women, organized a Seminar on the theme “Capital Punishment: Philosophy, law and Justice” in the college campus. The seminar was chaired by veteran Lawyer and Chairman, Management Committee of Baba Farid Law College, Faridkot.
In the seminar Students of the college Swati Gupta, Amandeep Kaur, Veerdavinder Kaur, Amandeep Kaur, Amritpreet Kaur, Ramanpreet Kaur and Prabjeet Kaur collectively presented their well researched papers and argued to abolish death penalty.
In the first session Dr. Madhu Prashar, principal of the college and students extended a warm welcome to the chairman, Baba Farid Law College.
Swati Gupta in the first session highlighting the concept of Capital Punishment said that death penalty in any case cannot be stated as a just punishment as taking away any life cannot be justified. She further added that crime is a social problem and there should be more rigorous work in exploring ways to check and stop crime. There should be other modes of punishment other than the death penalty. Criminals should not be spared but hanging should not be seen as the only solution. Amandeep argued that in India we respect Gandhiji and his famous philosophy of Ahimsa ‘An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind’ we cannot justify capital punishment. She said that capital punishment is a complex issue and even in the framework of punishment, we should go for reformatory punishments. The jails are even named as ‘Zila Sudhar Ghar’ by giving death penalty we take away all possibilities of reform. Veerdavinder and Amritpreet highlighting some cases published by the Amnesty International said that, Amnesty International has discovered that the sentence of capital punishment in many cases was discovered to be erroneous and in some cases even the convicts were executed. As it is an irrevocable punishment it should be stopped. Ramanpreet and Prabhjeet said that in the in the UN 110 nations voted in favour to abolish death penalty and there is a need that the issue of capital punishment must be debated world over as capital Punishment cannot be seen as the deterrent factor for the crimes. The country and its people have to work out more seriously in the welfare of its society as whole. Education is a field where a lot of work is to be done. Educational institutions have to take lead in inculcating the respect for human rights and human values in society. Even government has to play significant roles in dealing with the social and political issues in the country and work for prevention of crime. Chairperson of the seminar Inderjit Singh Sekhon supported the views of the speakers and said that women are more humane than men and they can change the society. They have to take lead and teach the world new lessons to stop crime. Dr. Prashar said that Law has its own complexities and it is difficult to comment on the ethics of capital punishment but it might have a deterrent effect. Dr. Ambuj Sharma of the Department of Philosophy moderated the seminar which was attended and actively participated by more than two hundred students of the campus. The students collectively appealed for the abolition of the death penalty.
Critique Ferozepur Chapter and Philosophical Society, A Students’ Discussion Forum, Dev Samaj College for Women, Ferozepur, condemned the brutal attack on the child rights’ activist of Pakistan, Malala Yusufzai and said that it was a coward act to hit an innocent little girl, who raised her voice for education for the girls. Sharing solidarity with Malala Yusufzai, around three hundred students of the college protest the act in the college campus. The protest was preceded by a seminar where students discussed issues of peace, girl’s right to education and dignity in the society, highlighting Malala’s contribution. They said that Malala Yusufzai who was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize is now an icon and source of inspiration for millions of girls around the globe. The students also wished for speedy recovery of the brave girl.
Few members of the Critique Ferozepur Chapter, Philosophical Society planned to initiate a dialogue on the nature of social construction, social order of Indian society and its emerging questions in relation to social justice and role of education. They tentatively underlined a theme ‘Samajik Sanrachna, Samajik Nyaya Mai Shiksha Ki Bhumika’ ‘Social Order, Role of Education in Social Justice’. They all collectively thought how to go about. After long discussion with their teacher Ambuj, the students Amandeep, Ramandeep, Amritpal and Sukhdeep suggested that they should go for a complete reading of a book ‘Ambedkar Se Vimukh Safai Kaamgar Samaj Upekshit Karan Aur Mukti’, written by Darshan Ratna Raavan, associated with the Aadhas Bharat, an organization working for rights and reforms within the Valmiki community in particular and society in general, in India.
In solidarity of the group around hundred students comprising undergraduates of science, commerce, arts and few postgraduate students from English and Information Technology, made a point to sit from 5pm to 7pm in the college after classes and collectively read the book and discuss the issues, which comes in course of reading. The first reading began on 12 September, 2012. Previous to reading session all the participants were requested and informed that the reading session would have to be attended in its entirety till the last word of the book.
The first part of the book unfolded the horrendous, humiliating bitter realities of the Safai Kamgar Samaj in the society, Darshan Ratna Raavanji’s narration of the challenging living conditions, contractual ill paid employment in the municipalities, ‘Sulabh’ public-private toilets and social discrimination done to the Safai Kamgar Samaj/ Valmiki community in the society raised a set of questions associated with the social construction of the Indian society in the minds of the participants. Why there has been social stratification in the society? Who had constructed this caste and why only a son of a scavenger is, by large, engaged in the scavenging work and is expected to follow the profession of his father and grandfather by the people in the society. How should we understand and address the discriminations on the basis of caste? What is the way out?
The discussion also brought in various stand points of the students. Few students raised their concern that even the upper caste people face challenging conditions, why only talking about dalits? They said that the dalits are themselves responsible for their conditions. The government is doing enough by providing reservations but they don’t want to rise. Another group supported the position for dalits and asserted that their condition at large is miserable in the urban as well as rural India. They also brought in popular thinking of the so called upper caste towards dalits and said that the dalits have been always made to think that they are lower than the other. The students insisted that the state has to play more vigilant and generous role towards the policies for promotion of education through reservation in higher education and promotions in government and private sector. The dialogue has to be initiated to talk about the notion of caste inequalities in the educational institution, to bring more and more dalit students to schools and aware them the significance of education.
The different position led to a chaos in the entire group as none of them was leaving their arguments but they finally agree to read the text further. As the pages of the book kept rolling there was a silence and suddenly a student in the class, who had never spoken any word for a week in that particular class and in her other classes including philosophy before, raised her hand and said that she wants to read the book loud for other participants, in the class. While she was reading, a sense of dignity, a sense of pride and an expression of voice against the injustices was visible on her face and voice. She also requested to present a paper in the seminar on the same theme. The reading further engaged the participants about the questions on why there is a higher drop out rate of Safai Kamgar Samaj children after seventh or eight classes in the schools. Why the dalit children are not given proper attention in their own families regarding education. What are the causes of their leaving schools at tender age? Darshan Ratna Raavanji narrates in one of his dialogues with the valmiki families in the book, where he questions Pig rearing and said that it does not add to the dalits’s financial conditions but invites more troubles, in the form of complaints and fights among them. The participants during the reading found that the issues which Ravaanji is taking is very fundamental and underlines an effective foundational education for the dalit children. He further question the psyche of the people by adding an example that in Allahabad the Ganga River is flowing with the human wastage and even dead human are immersed in it, yet it is worshipped but a Safai karmi ‘Scavenger’ providing cleanliness to all is still ‘Achut’ ‘Untouchable’. He says that this an ill psyche which needs treatment.
Ravaanji’s ‘Last talk’ in the book regarding Upekshit ‘Untended’ raised several questions in the minds of the participants who have first overlooked the issues of Safai Kamgar Samaj. He questions that the identity of Municipal Corporation is because of the Safai Kamgar Samaj but he is ignored, untended from the budget, appointments, facilities, social and sewerage protection. There is no reward no award, but in many cases death before retirement, is all a Safai Karamchari receives at end. Even sacrifices of great martyr Baba Jivan Singh and Matadin Bhangi, Mother Jhalkari Bai all are too untended. Raavanji provides space for a dialogue within all communities to think, reflect and respond in affirmative actions for the dalits in particular and society in general.
The reading was followed by a seminar on a theme ‘Samajik Sanrachna, Samajik Nyaya Mai Shiksha Ki Bhumika’ ‘Social Order, Role of Education in Social Justice’ on 24.09.2012 coincidently, which was also the Poona Pact Day. The session was chaired by Dr. Madhu Prashar, principal, Dev Samaj College for Women, Ferozepur City, Punjab.
Darshan Ratna Raavan was invited as the key speaker for the deliberation and discussion. Around three hundred students gathered for the seminar in the Auditorium which had the same capacity. From the students section, Ms Nirmaljeet Kaur from B.A. III year, Ms Amandeep Kaur from B.A. II year, Ms Kulwinder Kaur from B.A. I year and Ms Chandan from B.A. I year were the key speakers, who shared Dias with Darshan Ratna Raavanji along with Ms Amandeep Kaur, President Philosophical Society, Dev Samaj College for Women, Ferozepur.
In the first session Dr. Ambuj Sharma, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, extending the welcome address shared the introduction of Mr. Raavan as the philosopher, activist and writer who founded the Aadhas Bharat and is bringing about a revolution in the lives of the Safai Kamgar Samaj in India by spreading awareness and putting personal efforts to eliminate ill practices like drug addiction, illiteracy and superstitions from the Valmekin Samaaj in particular and society in general as the three have been the root cause for backwardness and neglect according to Raavanji. He is widely disseminating the ideas of Ambedkar for a total social transformation bringing the development from below.
Darshan Ratna Raavanji in his address started on a note that it is important to know that who writes history and whose history is written by whom? He further said that largely people who knows how to write, writes history. It is unfortunate that in the past people who had recourses kept a large number of people bereft of resources and dignity. The lust for power made them create caste boundaries and in turn they also controlled the lives of the poor and made them work like slaves. The hegemony created once is still transcending from generations to generations. Raavanji raised many issues of social, economic and political discrimination being done to the dalits in the Indian society with the participants. He asked the participants to come out of the notions of fixed cultural self and try to analyze and re-look at the social order which is biased and full of discrimination, in the past and the contemporary times. A wide rage of issues discussed by him was a collective role and responsibility of understanding humanity, humans and dalits.
The seminar was followed by comments of Dr. Madhu Prashar, who extended her support to Darshan Ratna Raavanji and his cause. She also informed about the scholarships the institution is providing to the poor section and assured to provide more help in future.
The address was followed Nirmal who spoke on the notion of dalit identity and raised questions on dalit rights, justice and equality. Amandeep emphasized the role of the state in providing justice to the dalits and asked the state to start more remedial classes for dalit students at the foundational level. She supported Darshan Ratna Raavan stand on providing reservation to dalits in the private sector. Nirmal asserted that reservation is not largely helping the dalits in employment as there is very less pass percentage in the schools of dalits more over the introduction of expensive coaching centers which are charging hefty sums for UPSC, PMT, IIT’s, AIEEE’s preparations are beyond the reach of the poor dalits and other sections too, How would they fight even the merit recommended by the state. Kulwinder and Chandan also sensitize the participants on the issues discussed above.
The seminar was followed by a series of questions asked by students namely Khushpreet Kaur, Harjinder Kaur from M.SC. IT first year, Anita, Amandeep, from B.A. III year, Swati, Amrit, from B.A. II year, Navdeep from B.A. I year and Aman from B.Com I year. The questions were answered by Raavan ji extensively.
The discussion was further moved to the college canteen where few students further interacted informally with Darshan ratna Raavanji which lasted late 7:30p.m. in the college.
The CFC and Philosophical Society extend their thanks to Mr. Chandan MBA student from Lovely Professional University, Jallandhar and Ms Veerdawinder Kaur B.Sc. I student, from Dev Samaj College for Women for capturing the entire seminar on the camera and video camera respectively.