‘The Battle of Bhima-Koregaon’
The wise man Dr Ambedkar wrote very thoughtfully, "Treason or no treason, this act of the untouchables was quite natural. History abounds with illustrations showing how one section of people in a country have shown sympathy with an invader, in the hope that the newcomer will release them from the oppression of their countrymen".

He is right. I know of two more such cases. I have read somewhere that the defeat of the Aztecs by the Spanish invaders was facilitated by a (tribal?) people of Central America who had been oppressed by the Aztec rulers. And, in our times, the victory of the American invaders in Iraq (2003) was facilitated by the Iraqi Kurds joining American forces in the north of the country.

But Ambedkar did not ask the Dalits to celebrate their valour which contributed to the victory of the British over the Peshwas. On the contrary he indeed considered, as the above quote shows, whether the Mahars joining the British in defeating the Peshwas was an act of treason. He merely exonerated the Mahars, finding their act as "quite natural".

I do not think there is anything to celebrate in this matter. Indeed, on January 1, 2018 we should have mournfully commemorated three shamelul facts of Indian history (1) that Indians fought with valour to help the British conquer India, (2) that Indian Hindu society has been a caste-ridden society for the last 2000 years or more, and (3) that since 1947, little has been achieved in annihilating this obnoxious caste system.

The present political policy and actions of the Dalit leadership as well as those of the Brahman leadership are only rubbing salt into some millennia-old wounds of Indian Hindu society. They are not conducive to annihilating caste. Instead, they are further driving Indian society to ruination.
Saral Sarkar, Germany

‘Football for Freedom’
The NGO ‘Jabala Action Research Organisation’ has been working for many years against trafficking of young and adolescent girls, in particularly affected districts of West Bengal. The district of Alipurduar in the north-eastern part of the state, bordering Assam, is known for very high rates of girls / women trafficking. People of this area, many of whom from indigenous backgrounds, traditionally work as low paid workers affiliated to numerous tea estates.

The German Consulate General Kolkata recently financed a major anti-trafficking project of Jabala, conducted in the 4 most affected districts of West Bengal, including Alipurduar.

‘Jabala’ over the years has come to realise the need to enhance the level of confidence of their target group. Sports, and in particular soccer (football), can act wonders. It raises confidence and brings out leaders in them, who in turn can influence other girls to stand up for their rights. The girls get immediate recognition, which boosts school retention. In Alipurduar the NGO since November 2016 has been able to form two football teams with adolescent girl participants playing regularly under their project 'Football for Freedom'.

Since the team of girls in Alipurduar was lacking any proper equipment and gear, it was decided to provide them with football tricots, shorts, shoes and balls under the Federal Foreign Office's International Sports Promotion programme. This programme has been supporting projects to develop sport around the world for over 50 years now.

In an official ceremony, Consul General Dr Michael Feiner handed over football gear and other equipment to the girl's football team, which was followed by a friendly match to celebrate the true spirit of sports.
Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Kolkata

Vol. 50, No.36, Mar 11 - 17, 2018