Fighting Casteism in all ways - from Academia & Film to Names & Fashion
We are constantly exploring creative ways to combat casteism both by collaborating with top academics and examining the history of casteism -- as well as fighting it on the ground in the arena of pop culture and every day interactions. We have also ties with 2 Foundations and registered charities in India and will be announcing many exciting projects soon. If you have any suggestions, please contact us to discuss how you can support us -- or get us to support Dalits in concrete and efficacious ways.
1] UNIQUE CENTER IN INDIA: As Maharashtra is the Buddhist capital of India, and the most important State, we are in preparation to launch a Unique Center there to empower Dalits and teach them life-skills, community building techniques, self-defense, art and filmmaking where we will combine practices and philosophies linked to both Babasaheb Ambedkar as well as Samurai Buddhism. We have already procured 3 major premises that will even house a small museum with rare Japanese Buddhist items and we will connect Dalits to Buddhists around the world who can help them. This will be the only Center of its kind in India, and we are also in talks to open branches in different parts of India. All Indian Centers will report to our Head Office in Tokyo, Japan and also be connected to influential Buddhist nations from Korea to Taiwan. Japanese Buddhism is taking urban India by storm -- and many of the top CEOs and Bollywood stars are embracing it. By combining Japanese Buddhism to the Ambedkarite Movement, we can encourage charities and affluent Indians to support the cause of Dalits. We will also teach Dalits the art of defence and empower them to standing up to casteist bullies - online and IRL.
2] INDEPENDENT FILMS: Buddhist texts often employ Upaya or Skillful means including Storytelling and Cinema is the ultimate vehicle. We thus have been involved in Independent Cinema and have been blessed to engage with famous Hollywood and Bollywood entities, as well as independent newcomers. Just as Robert Rodriguez showcases the Latinx talent and Spike Lee and Tyler Perry the African-American experience, our goal is to give a voice to Asian issues and causes -- from the plight of Untouchables to other issues affecting Asian culture and traditions that are based on Buddhism. Asians are the least represented in global filmmaking and so we our goal is to strive to give them an authentic voice. We thus have offices in Japan, Korea and India. Furthermore, Nio's close associates have produced major extravaganzas for Bollywood superstars including Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif as well as smaller films that are not released in theaters -- but inspire audiences nonetheless. As the saying goes, "some people make movies to make money -- some make movies because they can afford to lose money on causes that matter to them". We will thus be producing major international feature films to showcase the plight and history of Dalits and other Asian issues in cool and creative ways -- as well as will sponsor simpler film projects to be made by Dalit filmmakers.
3] NAMING CUSTOMS: Caste hatred and bigotry are connected to one's name. The Hindu texts mandate that lower-castes were to have names that publicly announce their status as low-castes or Untouchables and as a result, casteism is based on one's name in the Indian culture. This is why many great leaders including Babasaheb Ambedkar have implored anti-casteists to drop their names or change their names to defy the caste system. In fact, all of the Buddhist monks use Dharma names or special Buddhist names and in the Japanese tradition, every monk has had several different names over the course of their careers and lifetimes. This is a major way to combat the caste system and we too subscribe to this reform.
4] USING FASHION TO CHANGE STEREOTYPES: A brutal aspect of the Caste system is that Dalits or Untouchables are not allowed to dress well. They must always wear rags, often not even allowed to wear shoes, and can be beaten up just for wearing bright shirts and nice clothes. They can be force shaved against their will, and can be killed for having the audacity to groom a moustache. (Please visit Videos and News pages for real-life examples). To challenge this stereotype, Babasaheb Ambedkar wore fancy suits to defy the caste system and as a form of protest. Further, in the Japanese Buddhist tradition, most monks wear very ornate Kimonos in the temple -- but modern suits in the day to day world (as monks are also allowed to be CEOs and work in the real world in the Japanese tradition). This is the Bodhisattva ideal -- who lives in the real world as opposed to meditates in a monastery -- and hence the earliest depictions of Bodhisattvas in museums show them in princely attire. To honor this tradition, and Babasaheb Ambedkar's example of upscale attire, Zenji Nio wears the world's most expensive and exclusive brands at all times -- from Gucci and Louis Vuitton to Rolex and Patek Phillippe -- and lives a very jet-set lifestyle -- thanks to the blessings of Lord Buddha. As Caste supremacists constantly mock Buddhists as being "poor, lowly slaves who have no money or merit", we will be using the highest fashion ensembles available to combat such stereotypes -- and all items will eventually be donated to charity. Furthermore, we will gladly provide special wardrobes to Dalits as and when feasible as they have every right to look cool -- with all the luxuries upper castes flaunt. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-44517922.