Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Major

Human Rights

First Advisor

Vijay Prashad

Second Advisor

Seth Markle

Abstract

From July to September 1978, the Marathwada region experienced intense levels of violence following the decision to rename Marathwada University into Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar University. In a crushing display of upper-caste power, thousands of dalits were killed, raped and made to flee their homes. Deep feelings of uncertainty and fear lingered on for several months after. The question of why a matter so ostensibly trivial as renaming a university incited so much violence is a perplexing one. It cannot be answered by merely reducing the violence to “an imposition of high caste authority.” The rise of dalit self-assertion movements – inspired by Ambedkar – had resulted in dalits demanding their rights, liberating themselves from their age-old oppression by making use of affirmative action schemes, and moving from rural to urban sectors in search of new jobs. The complex structural undercurrents of this issue lay in the severe underdevelopment of Marathwada, the concentration of wealth and ownership in the hands of the rural political elite, strained agrarian relations, opportunistic identity politics, and the overwhelming poverty faced by large sections of the population – all of which are as ubiquitous today as they were forty years ago.

Comments

Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford Connecticut for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights.