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Ambedkar King Study Circle conducts its first Annual Conference in California

Dr Wilson addressing the audience

A report By TCN:

California: The first annual conference of Ambedkar King Study Circle took place in Cupertino, the Bay Area Silicon Valley, California on Sep 8th Saturday 2018. Around 80 people from different fraternal organizations attended the conference as individuals and family with young children.

 Ambedkar King Study Circle (AKSC) was established in October 2016 with the aim  to challenge caste, class, race, gender and religious oppression and oppressors on ideological, political and social fronts.

 The topics discussed in the conference were historical social suppressions and their contemporary manifestations and how they can be overcome by bringing together the oppressed to challenge the oppressor.

 The conference was inaugurated by Dr. Ruth Wilson, Department of African American Studies, College of Social Studies, San Jose State University, California who also delivered the keynote address. Dr Wilson narrated her personal experiences and how her father who was a garbage man was deeply influenced by Dr. Martin Luther King. She emphasised that it is the duty of every individual to fight the social evils that have been deposited in the society from several years.

 Mr. Max Elbaum, civil rights activist spoke on ‘The Left and the Race Question: A Historical Walk Through and Current Tasks. He stated that it was racial slavery that built the economy of America and contributed to development of Western capitalism. And now the task before us is to uproot racism.  US racism and capitalism are thoroughly intertwined, to put an end to one we must put an end to the other and such uprooting is possible only in coalition politics.

 Padma Shri awardee  and human rights activist Teesta Setalvad from India delivered her talk over a video conference. She spoke on Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Philosophy of Social economic and Political democracy. She detailed Dr. Ambedkar’s ideas on ‘communal majority’ verses ‘political majority’ with respect to the rights of social and numeric minorities from Dr. Ambedkar’s ‘State and Minorities’.

 Activist Thillaikumaran presented Tamil scholar Dr.S. Palaniappan’s research work on “The Influence of Jainism on the Development of Caste in Post Classical Tamil Society”. Providing strong literature evidences, Mr. Thillai argued how the Dravidian society was once free from the influence of the caste system especially untouchability and varna system. He further explained how and why non-Indian Indologists depended predominantly on Sanskrit text to reconstruct the Dravidian history which is chiefly responsible for many misinterpretations in Indology.

group discussion after the sessions

 Ms. Thenmozhi Soundararajan’s speech  on ‘Equality labs’ was an eye opener. She presented the Caste Discrimination Survey data done by Equality Labs which is: 40% Dalit respondents experienced caste discrimination in the workplace;  One in two of all Dalit respondents and one in four of all Shudras respondents live in fear of being ousted. She shared in depth details to educate corporates and elected officials to frame the mechanisms to stop the growing caste discrimination in US.

 Two important resolutions were passed in this conference. The first resolution read and proposed by Mr. Ashan, President, Indian American Muslim Council, is to conduct a broad and larger conference every year in Bay Area to challenge the ideology of Hindutva and its hatred and divisive politics.

And the second resolution read and proposed by Dr. Piyush Dhanuka, is to approach the universities and colleges in the USA to institute Dr. Ambedkar Chair to the ideas of social revolutionaries across the national boundaries.

 The annual conference of AKSC coincided with the  World Hindu Congress in Chicago. Interestingly the USA has witnessed 2 different conferences in the weekend – one in Cupertino to unify the Dalits, Adivasis, minorities and other oppressed people to challenge the oppressors and the other in Chicago by the oppressors who have incomparable material and political access to divide the oppressed on caste and religious lines.

 The participants watched ‘The battle of Bhima Koregoan’ a documentary over dinner. S Karthikeyan, secretary AKSC, presided over the conference, N Kanakaraj, Executive member of AKSC, welcomed the gathering and R Kanagalakshmi, Executive member of AKSC, delivered vote of thanks.

participants at the AKSC conference