Chilipili Yuva Vedike :
Addressing the emerging needs of Dalit youth
During 2015-16, in the completion of 15th year of JMS, the sanghatan initiated its work with the dalit youth of the community with support from Vijayakumar, an activist filmmaker who has been involved with various dalit movements and youth groups in the state. Following the women’s convention, former students of JMS’ Chilipili Child labor school came together to form Chilipili Yuva Vedike (Chilipili Youth Forum). The Forum held its first meeting January 2016 where they identified several issues they would like to work on. But as a first step they decided to hold a five-day workshop to bring together former students of chilipili child labor school and other interested dalit youth. The workshop held from 26th Feb to 1st March 2016 was curated by Vijayakumar and involved theater practitioners, artists, activists from the Ambedkarite movement and professors from local universities to anchor various activities. It combined theater work, painting, film screenings, and discussions on the role of youth in the Ambedkarite tradition, understanding the meaning of education in the present context and so on. The five -day workshop helped participants to bond and coalesce.
Following the workshop a core group has emerged willing to take on responsibilities for the next steps. The Yuva Vedike has now initiated an Ambedkar study circle in JMS. They have identified one of Ambedkar’s works and are meeting every month, reading each chapter, analyzing and discussing the chapter and examining present events in the context of Ambedkar’s teachings.
Along with this there is a move to initiate a residential tailoring course in JMS for interested young women. Young women expressed a need to get away from their home environments to avoid immediate marriage and to also seek time and opportunities to think about their future. Therefore the present tailoring course is not merely a course but a strategy for young women to move out of their home environments, learn about and try out new opportunities for their future.