March 20, 2016

RSS’s Nationalism is Anti-Women

THE students’ union, University of Hyderabad (UoH) had organised a rally and a public talk on the occasion of 106th International Women’s Day. Zuhail KP, president, students’ union inaugurated the talk and Chiluka Srilatha, cultural secretary, students’ union presided the meeting. Brinda Karat, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and Prof. Vimal Thorat were the principal speakers. Other speakers included the vice-chancellor, the dean of students’ welfare, the president of the contract workers union and a representative of the teaching staff.

The speakers emphasised the need for better working conditions and higher wages for the contract workers who are mostly women, working in the sanitary department. The fact that only 17 percent of the professors in UoH are women while 32 percent of women are assistant professors pointed to the prevalent sexism in the evaluation of women teachers for promotion. Many women teachers remain assistant professors even after serving for 20 years, said a speaker. The importance to encourage more women students to take up research particularly in science was highlighted. The vice-chancellor and the dean of student’s welfare assured that they will do their best to create a women empowering campus and also look into all the problems highlighted by the speakers.

Brinda Karat began her speech by demanding justice for Rohith Vemula. She stressed the need for a ‘Rohith Act’ to end discrimination of and protect the students from socially oppressed backgrounds in higher educational institutions. She opined that the current Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocities (POA) Act is not adequate to deal with issues of campus discrimination.

Brinda Karat argued that women face three layers of oppression. Women face social oppression based on their caste, religion and region etc, class oppression as a working woman and they face oppression just for the fact of being a woman. She presented various examples of these forms of oppression in India and suggested that women’s movement should wage an uncompromising struggle against all these three layers of oppression. Fighting one and leaving other forms of oppression will not advance our struggles for equality and liberation, she added.

Brinda rejected the idea of nationalism propagated by the Sangh Parivar and termed it anti-women. She claimed that the Sangh’s idea of nationalism is based on valorisation and this kind of nationalism is responsible for various incidents of brutal violence against women. She added that Sangh Parivar’s Bharat Mata does not include the mothers like Radhika Vemula (Rohith Vemula’s mother) and hence, it must be rejected.

We must not forget the brutal images of bombing of schools in Gaza sheltering women and children. The imperialist aggression on sovereign countries like Iraq and Afghanistan have killed thousands of women and children. We must remember that the slogan “bread, not war” on women’s day in 1917 brought thousands of Russian women onto the streets against the Tsarist regime marking the beginning of revolutionary events that led to the establishment of first Socialist State in the world. She emphasised that women’s movement should reject nationalism based on valorisation.

Prof. Vimal Thorat spoke on the role of movements in fighting for social and gender Justice. She highlighted the need to focus on the intersection of class, caste and gender to organise women in the struggle against exploitation and social oppression.

She elaborately narrated various issues faced by the dalit and adivasi women in our country and emphasised the urgency to address these issues.