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- Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
Bhima Koregaon anniversary
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Battle of Koregaon- reasons, key facts and outcomes of the battle.
Context: January 1st, 2018 marks the 201st anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle.
About the Bhima- Koregaon battle:
A battle was fought in Bhima Koregaon, a district in Pune with a strong historical Dalit connection, between the Peshwa forces and the British on January 1, 1818. The British army, which comprised mainly of Dalit soldiers, fought the upper caste-dominated Peshwa army. The British troops defeated the Peshwa army.
Outcomes of the battle:
- The victory was seen as a win against caste-based discrimination and oppression. Peshwas were notorious for their oppression and persecution of Mahar dalits. The victory in the battle over Peshwas gave dalits a moral victory a victory against caste-based discrimination and oppression and sense of identity.
- However, the divide and rule policy of the British created multiple fissures in Indian society which is even visible today in the way of excessive caste and religious discrimination which needs to be checked keeping in mind the tenets of the Constitution.
Why Bhima Koregaon is seen as a Dalit symbol?
- The battle has come to be seen as a symbol of Dalit pride because a large number of soldiers in the Company force were the Mahar Dalits. Since the Peshwas, who were Brahmins, were seen as oppressors of Dalits, the victory of the Mahar soldiers over the the Peshwa force is seen as Dalit assertion.
- On 1 January 1927, B.R. Ambedkar visited the memorial obelisk erected on the spot which bears the names of the dead including nearly two dozen Mahar soldiers. The men who fought in the battle of Koregaon were the Mahars, and the Mahars are Untouchables.
Sources: the hindu.
Mains Question: The celebration of Bhima Koregaon Battle Victory not only challenges the conventional narrative of anti-colonialism, it also tells the story of the making of an autonomous culture of Dalits against the inferior culture of caste. Discuss critically.