Punjab Research Group

Harish K. Puri, ‘The Scheduled Castes in the Sikh Community – A Historical Perspective’

Posted in Articles by Pippa on June 2, 2009

East Punjab is a Sikh majority state. After its re-organisation in 1966, (when the Hindi speaking areas were separated to constitute the new state of Haryana and some of the hill areas were transferred to Himachal Pradesh), the religious composition of the state was radically altered. The Sikhs constituted 63 per cent of the state’s population at present. Their share in the rural population is higher; about 72 per cent. The Dalits or the Scheduled Castes have a high proportion of population in the state, 28.3 percent in 1991 which is projected to have increased to over 30 percent in 2001, the highest among the states in India. Over 80 per cent of them lived in the rural areas.  Punjab’s villages are, therefore, predominantly Sikh and Dalit. An understanding of the status of the Scheduled Castes in the Sikh community in particular, and the impact of Sikhism on dalits in Punjab in general, should help us in appreciation of  the regional specificity of the status and conditions of life of the Scheduled Castes in the state as also the limitations of the book view of caste.

Read full article: Puri scheduled castes in sikh community

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The Ravidassia movement could help to bring about the end of the caste system in India, says Kathryn Lum

Posted in Articles by Pippa on May 12, 2009

Kathryn Lum guardian.co.uk, Friday 8 May 2009

 Each year thousands of pilgrims from all over India as well as abroad converge on the city of Varanasi, site of the holy Ganges river. However, this is no ordinary pilgrimage. What distinguishes these pilgrims from the hundreds of thousands that regularly embark on a yatra (pilgrimage) in India is their low caste, and the fact that they worship a formerly untouchable guru (Guru Ravidass Ji), who dared to challenge caste oppression and prejudice in the 14th century, at a time when low-caste slavery was at its height. Although untouchability has since been formally outlawed and laws passed to counteract centuries of discrimination, the social stigma attached to being low caste has not been erased.

Read full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/may/08/kathryn-lum-face-to-faith

Ronki Ram, ‘Ravidass Deras and Social Protest: Making Sense of Dalit Consciousness in Punjab (India)’

Posted in Articles by Pippa on November 11, 2008

Please see the latest edition of JAS for this article http://www.aasianst.org/publications/JAS.htm

The Journal of Asian Studies Vol. 67, No. 4 (November) 2008: 1341–1364

 

 

Abstract:

This paper argues that Dalit consciousness in Punjab emerged against the backdrop of the teachings of Ravidass, an untouchable saint-poet of the North Indian Bhakti movement who presented a middle path between assimilation and radical separatism for the construction of a separate Dalit identity. Dera Sach Khand Ballan, one of the most popular Ravidass Deras in Punjab, played an important role in concretizing this path by chiseling the markers of a separate Dalit identity in the state. The author assesses the long-term implications of the newly emerged Dalit consciousness in Punjab for the deepening of democracy in India.

 

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