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Since a young Dalit scholar, Rohith Vemula, committed suicide within University of Hyderabad in India, the role of academia, society and polity in sustaining a dehumanising casteist environment has come under the spotlight. Tens of thousands of students, activists and others have raised questions about the political nature of the suicide and challenged the unjust system; protests are rife in various institutions.

How does this individual tragedy link to the reality of everyday and systemic discrimination, dehumanisation and violence that many Dalits and others belonging to marginalised communities (including Muslims and tribals) face in India? While the Indian government underplays the seriousness of caste-bigotry, it is akin to the worst forms of racism and yet remains largely unknown outside the sub-continent.

Has the ascendancy of the Hindu right-wing majoritarian party BJP under Narendra Modi contributed to an unprecedented level of bigotries of all forms, while at the same time provoking a strong resistance from different quarters? What can UK-based scholars and students interested in India do to understand the issues around casteism and other bigotries? How can we contribute to solidarity with those struggling against these anti-democratic beliefs and practices? How can anti-racist struggles in the UK connect to, and learn from, anti-bigotry struggles in India? 

The discussion is organised by the Centre for the Study of Democracy (Department of Politics and International Relations), University of Westminster. 

Participants: Amrit Wilson (South Asia Solidarity Group), Murali Shanmugavelan (SOAS), Jayaseelan Raj (LSE), Sayantan Mondal (University of Hyderabad/University of Oxford), Nitasha Kaul (Westminster), Dalel Benbabaali (LSE), Dibyesh Anand (Westminster)

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