The seminar hosted by Valmiki Ambedkar Foundation under AADI Dharm Samaj, AADHAS Bharat on "Shiksha Ke Prati Udaseenta/ Indifference towards Education" has set tones of a huge change coming in the education arena within the Valmiki community or Safai Kamgaar Samaj, as called by its founder Darshan Ratna Raavan. The seminar brought in the issues and challenges of education and social condition of the Safai Kamgaar Samaj and a way towards its progress.
A number of students of the community, who gathered from different parts of Punjab and few from Kurukshetra University, confidently expressed their personal experiences and their ideas to strengthen and uplift education. Mona a teacher from Punjab underlined the difference between literacy and education. She said that most of the times we are just concerned about the literacy aspect, the know how of a course but we largely forget the educational aspect, which is to go beyond, to reflect on what one has learned and what is the idea or goal. The children of the Samaj should be educated beyond literacy and they should them selves identify the difference between the two.
The participants were encouraged by the inspiring teacher, an individual who is continuously working for a dignified acceptance of the Dalit existence, Darshan Ratna Raavanji, Chief AADHAS Bharat. He before the seminar extensively traveled in the different areas of Punjab and encouraged the families of the students to come forward along with their children to participate in the education seminar. He deliberated on the idea of education and its different limitation being faced in the valmiki community. He stressed that it is important to engage in a dialogue with one self, with the society and state to ensure education within Dalit community and beyond. He said that he believes that bringing, educationists, intellectuals like Yogendra Yadav and many other, closer to the valmiki students will definitely provide a great platform of learning to them.
Apart from that, on the occasion the students were highly encouraged and informed about the idea of education by the renowned Professor and member UGC, Yogendra Yadav.
Professor Yadav philosophically explained the idea of education. He said that education is not just about the percentage one secures in ones respective course. It is not just about the study material one memories and study but it is about what one learns and remembers years after completing the given course. What reflections one carries and share about the area and the idea about ones learning.
He informed the participants about the struggle and initiatives of Dalit social reformer Narayan Guru in the south, that has lead to change in the social conditions and education scenario for Dalits in the south today. He also informed the participants about the bill, passed by the planning commission, India, under consideration in parliament, which would allow free higher education at any level, to a child belonging to Valmiki community, who pass the Senior Secondary Examination from any recognized board of the country.
Professor Madhulika Banerjee from Department of Political Science, University of Delhi laid emphasis on the concept of dignity of manual labour and education. She asked that why do we consider Manual labour inferior to mental labour. She said that it is important that we all should come out of this misconception and idea of putting manual labour as secondary to mental labour. She said any society which does not respect manual labour shall always be a divided society. She also emphasized on education to a girl child. She added that education for girls should be considered as symbol of privilege in every family, if this becomes a reality than it will ensure more admission of girls in the arena of education. Professor Madhulika also inspired the girl participants to continue their studies with full zeal.
Dr. Ambuj Sharma from Dev Samaj College termed the seminar as a revolutionary seminar for social change in. He said that the model of the seminar being organized by ADDHAS is exemplary and unique. No University and college in India have this model of seminar and thus AADHAS is creating a new methodology for pedagogy and education. Highlighting the significant book written by Darshan Ratna Raavan ji, ‘Ambedkar Se Vimukh Safai Kamgaar Samaj: Upkshit Karan Aivam Mukti’,/ ‘For A Dignified Acceptance of Dalit Identity: Estranged from Ambedkar, Manual Scavenging Workers’ Society – neglected, reasons and liberation’ he said that it is a must book to read for any caste discourse towards social change. He acknowledges that the book is written in a form of a narration by Darshan Ratna Raavanji about the Dalit Safai kaamgar Samaj which not only sensitizes the reader about the various issues but also inspires to participate in social change. Ambuj acknowledged that Raavanji’s book has widened his perceptions about caste and social injustice, to him reading Raavanji has broadened his understanding about society and education. He would opted to pursue his PhD research on Ambedkar, had he came across the book during his research. He also wished that this book should be taught in all universities and colleges in India and beyond.
Apart from that Dr. Daljit Singh Cheema, (MLA Shri Anandpur Sahib, Chief Advisor, Chief Minister, Punjab), Dr. Gurukirpal Singh ‘Ashk’, Director Sikh Media Centre, Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib, also shared their views on the occasion.
In the seminar a number of students from Dev Samaj College for Women also shared their views on the problems and significance of education.
Fifty five students from Dev Samaj College for Women, on invitation from AADHAS Bharat participated in the seminar. There were in all one thousand students from different parts of Punjab and few from Kurukshetra University apart from the parents and other invited guests who participated in the seminar. The seminar was conducted by Ms Tamsa Purusharthi A Researcher for Kurukshetra University and Mr. Umesh Daitya from Ludhiana.
The seminar was organized under the able guidance of Shri Darshan Ratna Raavanji, Valmiki Ambedkar Foundation under AADI Dharm Samaj, AADHAS Bharat at Pal Auditorium, Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana on 21 July, 2013.
The seminar was captured in lens by Mr Chandan Dravid MBA student from lovely Professional University and Ms Veerdawinder Kaur student of BSC II year of the Dev Samaj College for Women, Ferozepur.