EVEN though tensions were apparently simmering for many months prior to the outbreak of the violence in the month of July 2012 in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) area, but the immediate trigger was the killing of two Muslim youths, who were shot dead by unidentified gunmen on 6 July. The needle of suspicion pointed to the former cadres of the disbanded Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT). In retaliation, four former cadres of Bodo Liberation Tigers were hacked to death by a mob in the Muslim dominated village of Joypur near Kokrajhar town. What unfolded after that was the worst humanitarian crisis to have hit Assam in decades. Continue reading The Bodoland (Assam) Violence and the Politics of Explanation by Bonojit Hussain
Bal Thackeray ! Bal Thackeray!
At his fascist gods’
Beck and call Thackeray
O be careful, here he comes Bal Thackeray
All agreeing, how shall we crawl Thackeray
Hide, don’t you dare look away
In smart Shiv Sena Uniform – making music hall Thackeray Continue reading Shield of Barbarism by Nagarjun
रामचंद्र गुहा की बहुप्रचारित किताब `इंडिया आफ्टर गांधीः द हिस्ट्री ऑफ दी वर्ल्ड्स लार्जेस्ट डेमोक्रेसी` का हिंदी अनुवाद पेंगुइन बुक्स ने दो खंडों (`भारतः गांधी के बाद` और `भारतः नेहरू के बाद`) में प्रकाशित किया है। बकौल गुहा, उनका `संपूर्ण कैरियर `इंडिया आफ्टर गांधी` लिखने की एक वृहत (और तकलीफदेह) तैयारी रही है।` यह बात दीगर है कि उन्होंने इस तकलीफदेह तैयारी को बतौर `दुनिया के विशालतम लोकतंत्र का इतिहास` प्रस्तुत करते हुए `ऐतिहासिक किस्सागोई का पुराना तरीका अख्तियार` किया है। किताब के कवर पर इस बात का जिक्र है कि यह `एक `व्यापक शोध के बाद किए गए लेखन का नतीजा है जिसे रामचंद्र गुहा ने अपनी मखमली भाषा में रोचक तरीके से लिखा है।` सुशांत झा द्वारा किया गया अनुवाद भी किस्सागोई और भाषा की रोचकता को बरकरार रखता है। जाहिर है कि इतिहास की किताब का महत्व उसकी किस्सागोई की मखमली भाषा की रोचकता से ज्यादा उसमें कहे गए तथ्यों और उनके विश्लेषण और कहने से छोड़ दिए गए जरूरी तथ्यों पर ही निर्भर करता है। 1947 से छह दशकों के सफर को विभिन्न भागों और अध्यायों के जरिये तय करने वाली इस किताब का हर अध्याय उथलपुथल, हिंसा और दूसरे झंझावतों के बीच `एकीकृत भारत` के अस्तित्व को लेकर निरंतर आशंकाओं (प्रायः पश्चिमी जगत की) का उल्लेख करता है और उसका समापन प्रायः इस `खुशी` के साथ होता है कि देखो दुनिया वालो, यह फिर भी `साबुत` खड़ा है। Continue reading विशालतम लोकतंत्र का संकीर्णतम इतिहास: धीरेश सैनी
Caste Discrimination in Higher Education
For Bhalchandra Mungekar, ex-vice chancellor of Bombay University and ex-member of the Planning Commission, the exercise of looking into allegations of caste discrimination faced by scheduled caste students at Vardhman Medical College, Delhi, has been extremely disturbing. As the single-member committee appointed by the National Scheduled Caste Commission, it was important that he examine every aspect of the case and ensure that the guilty were brought to book.
Dr Mungekar discovered to his dismay that not only were the 35 scheduled caste students failed repeatedly in one particular subject – physiology – but the authorities had not even bothered to meet them to look into their complaints. He had to resort to RTI to seek information and approach the high court to ensure their rights as equal students. As his report puts it, the faculty of the said department ‘resorted to caste-based discrimination and neglected the duties assigned to them, not by omission but by commission’. Even other administrative people, including the head of the institution, had not seen fit to intervene. Not only did the students lose years because of this apathy, shockingly, the same authorities were guilty of showing leniency towards general category students. While they had no qualms about barring scheduled caste students from taking their examinations due to lack of attendance, four students from the general category, who were detained for inadequate attendance, were allowed to take the examination.
Dr Mungekar, who has finally submitted his report, has put forward wide-ranging recommendations. Apart from asking the authorities to pay compensation of Rs 10 lakh to students Manish and others who had moved court — underlining the fact that ‘the mental trauma that they were/are made to undergo is not measurable in terms of money’ — he has demanded that legal action under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 be taken against former Principal V K Sharma and his then colleagues Professor Shoma Das, head of the physiology department, Principal Jayshree Bhattacharjee and Raj Kapoor, professor of physiology, and a liaison officer. Continue reading Dronacharyas All
On The Silent Emergence of Dalit Capitalism
It was 14 th April 2012, when dalits in different parts of the country (as well as abroad) were celebrating 121 st birth anniversary of Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, the legendary son of the oppressed. Thousands of people had congregated at statue of Dr Ambedkar situated near Parliament itself as they have been doing on every such occasion. It was a festive type of atmosphere where one could find book stalls on the way – where one could browse through books on different topics all geared to bring about a social transformation in India – cultural performances by small groups going on uninterruptedly, volunteers had put stalls to provide water to all the visitors.
And Delhi was no exception. One could witness similar gatherings in different parts of the country where people gather on their own to celebrate the life of Dr Ambedkar. Close watchers of such gatherings – where state patronage is not the deciding factor – would emphasise why this phenomenon need to be closely understood and comprehended by sociologists of our times that even fifty six years after his demise there has not been a let up in his popularity. In fact, he happens to be one of those rare leaders of the first half of 20 th century whose birth anniversary as well as death anniversary is still celebrated as people’s festival.
On this day at a place not very far from the ongoing celebrations in Delhi a different type of meeting was being held which was attended by a motley combination of dalit activists, dalit enterpreneurs as well as few top bureaucrats. It was an occasion to float DICCI Venture Capital Fund, (DVCF) a For-Profit company whose aim was to support India’s Dalit entrepreneurs. In fact, 121 smartly dressed Dalit entrepreneurs cut a 121-kg birthday cake in honour of B R Ambedkar, and announced the launching of the (VC) fund. Continue reading Defying Manu, Bowing to Mammon
‘Turn in any direction you like, caste is the monster that crosses your path. You cannot have political reform, you cannot have economic reforms unless you kill the monster.’
Annihilation of Caste, Ambedkar
‘If Lenin was born in India , he would not have even let the idea of revolution come to his mind before he had completely buried casteism and untouchability’
The Indian left today presents a very contradictory picture. As opposed to many left formations/movements in different parts of the world which witnessed decline/3reverses after the Soviet collapse, it has been able to sustain itself and at places even expand itself. Yes, the movement is far from united, there are ruptures and divisions at various levels, which at times even prove deadly, but if one is able to look at the cumulative impact of what is known as left and contrast it with many other countries, situation does not appear that bleak.
It’s sustenance and continuation amongst heavy odds, does not mean that it is not beset with challenges. The challenge of outlining its emancipatory vision of social transformation for 21 st century, devising innovative strategies of mobilisation and rejuvenating itself organisationally still remains. It also needs to reboot itself to address few important issues which are of key importance for any radical restructuring of Indian society and state. Undoubtedly, its failure on this count has cost it heavily. Question of dalit emancipation or the whole struggle for annihilation of caste forms one such core issues which demand serious attention. Continue reading Cast Away Caste – Breaking New Ground …
Guest post by Ravi Sinha
Modernity and socialism can be daunting subjects. Both have had a long history and both have impacted on humanity in ways few other ideas, systems or forms of life have. In a famous incident, perhaps not entirely apocryphal, Chou En Lai, when asked about the impact of the French Revolution on the western civilization by Richard Nixon, is supposed to have answered, “It is too soon to tell.” It seems to me that Chou’s riposte would hold well, and with a far greater force, if the same question were to be asked a few hundred years from now about the impact of modernity or of socialism on the entire human civilization.
One asks for trouble on other counts too when proposing to deal with these topics. They have both been explored and debated endlessly and both remain enormously controversial. In the domain of ideas and theories, they generate intense, sometimes fierce, intellectual passion. In the domain of real life, they give rise to monumental conflicts and struggles even as their influences continue to seep imperceptibly into ever deeper layers of societies and forms of life through pathways that are hard to track. One must have a good reason for raking up, as many might say, a subject where ashes of time find it difficult in any case to settle on an exasperatingly burning fire. Those too, who would like to continue stoking the fire of historical and emancipatory transformations promised by these words, would need a good reason for re-entering the subject. Whether I have one or not should best be left to be judged at the end of the hour, but one must hope to add something useful and meaningful to the debate. Continue reading Mutant Modernities, Socialist Futures: Ravi Sinha