In a historic move, the NDP government in Victoria has recognized April as Dalit History Month.
Responding to an application moved by Radical Desi, an online magazine that covers alternative politics, the provincial Attorney General and the Lt. Governor signed the proclamation declaring April 2022 as “Dalit History Month”.
Dalits, the oppressed community of India, are often treated as “untouchables” by the so-called upper castes of Indian society according to the brutal caste system practiced by orthodox Hindus.
Since April is the birthday month of a towering Dalit leader and world renowned scholar, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, it has a special significance for Dalits across the globe.
Also, the month of April is important because of the birthdays and death anniversaries of other Dalit icons, such Jyotirao Phule, Mangu Ram Mugowalia and Sant Ram Udasi.
Both Ambedkar and Phule were born in Maharashtra.
Ambedkar was the architect of the Indian constitution, and fought the caste-based discrimination against his community. Born in Maharashtra on April 14, 1891, he also stood up for the rights of women, and challenged Hindu supremacy.
Phule, a well-respected social reformer who denounced untouchability, was born on April 11, 1827. He was known as an educator, who believed in scientific thinking and women empowerment.
Mugowalia and Udasi, on the other hand, hailed from Punjab. Mugowalia, who had participated in an armed resistance against the British occupation of India, was instrumental behind the Dalit emancipation movement in Punjab. He died on April 22, 1980.
Udasi was a revolutionary poet, born on April 20, 1939. He was influenced by communist revolution and later became an inspiration for the poor working class and those resisting repression.
The BC proclamation not only recognizes these individuals, but also acknowledges “the strength and resiliency of the Dalit community in overcoming hardships and advocating for social justice and equality for all”.