Thoughts on non-violence, Rohit Vemula Memorial Day

Rohit bought to the county’s attention to the challenges faced by the marginalised here. His supreme sacrifice also bought to light the prejudice and discrimination he had to face right from his childhood. I pay my respects to him. Our friends have spoken a lot about him tonight.

I want to talk about the velivada set up here in the north campus. Rohit and the expelled scholars stayed put here as a mark of resistance against the power and the system. A form of non violent protest.

As I think about that action and today’s environment, I ask, “Is such nonviolent protest still relevant?”

As you ponder over this, let me share what I think.

Ambedkar never supported violence. He approved of violence only as a form of self defence. As a form of resistance he advocated non violence or rule approved constitutional violence only.

In 2016, the right wing violence had just began, but today it’s wide spread in the society. Incidence of hatred can be seen every day and it has penetrated across the country.

When Ambedkar gave the call Educate! Agitate!! Organize!!! did he face such a situation? He himself was a victim of hegemony. The oppression was open and wide spread. The system was designed to oppress. But the violence was covert. Today the violence we face is overt. Lynching and mob violence has become common place. Being victims, how can we be nonviolent?

Ambedkar may not have seen overt violence from the higher strata, but didn’t he face the same from British? At least he would have seen such form of violence used by the British. And even in face of it, he never endorsed violence.

In his call Ambedkar uses the term agitate. Agitate as against resist, revolt or struggle. These words are of external action but agitate is internal, at lease in the meaning Ambedkar used the term. Ambedkar wants internal change and awakening. Education can bring about the agitation within and when many such agitated souls come together, they organise. This is the solution put forward by Ambedkar, in face of double enemies of British and caste Hindu oppression, in face of both covert and overt violence.

I defer to Ambedkar’s intellect and I believe in the current situation, we need to work even harder to educate, agitate and organise a much larger section of the society.

Jai Bhim!

(Thoughts shared with fellow students during the Velivada Remembrance Day, 2024 at Northcom, UoH)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *