Category Archives: religion

Condemn the Attack on Kancha Ilaiah for asking, ‘Is God a democrat?’

[We at Kafila condemn the repeated  attacks on scholar activist Professor Kancha Ilaiah by the Hindu Right and  the recent case registered against him by the Hyderabad police. According to a Times of India report, Ilaiah had on May 14 delivered a lecture in Vijayawada in a programme entitled `Nationalism and Divergent Views’ organised by CITU where he reportedly criticised Hindu gods and scriptures, according to the police. Following this an advocate filed a private petition in the court of the XI Metropolitan Magistrate court, Ranga Reddy , requesting to register an FIR under relevant sections of IPC. The court directed cops to register a case under sections 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs),153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) and 298 (uttering, words, etc. with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person) of IPC.”

Earlier, last year the  VHP had initiated a campaign against him which was followed by the filing of a case against him by the Hyderabad police. That was in relation to an article Kancha Ilaiah had written, asking ‘Is God a Democrat?’ The story by Ajaz Ashraf from linked below refers to last year’s case but due to an inadvertent mix-up, was initially extracted by us as the one in the eye of the current controversy. The error is seriously regretted and we thank one of our readers for pointing this out. The Times of India report linked to above gives refers to the speech that is currently in the eye of the storm.

Professor Ilaiah has now himself described the current attacks on him in this piece in, where he signs his article as Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, recalling his caste name (translated into English, in order to mark his distance from the brahmans).

The attacks on  Professor Ilaiah are totally unacceptable. We have all read and long admired his writings. Many of us have hugely benefited and learnt a lot from them. The time has come for us to collectively put our heads together and fight this menace of Hindutva, which after hurting every living being’s dignity and sentiments, has now begun claim to be the perpetual and universal victim. Dalits today cannot speak of the indignities and oppression that they have suffered at the hands of the Hindus – even that has become a matter of ‘hurt sentiments’. The response has to be worked out politically and intellectually so that the law is not repeatedly turned into a surrogate of Hindutva politics.]

The Hyderabad police have registered a case against renowned social scientist Kancha Ilaiah, after Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists complained that an opinion piece he wrote in the Telugu newspaper Andhra Jyothi had hurt their religious sentiments.

They filed their complaint at Hyderabad’s Sultan Bazar Station was filed on May 9, the day Ilaiah’s article titled Devudu Prajasamya Vada Kada? (Is God a democrat?) was published.

VHP activists Pagudakula Balaswamy, Thirupathi Naik and two others accused Ilaiah of comparing Hinduism with Islam and Christianity, insulting Hindu Gods by comparing them to mortals, mocking their worship, and for attempting to trigger clashes between upper and lower classes (by which they presumably meant castes).

On the basis of their complaint, Inspector P. Shiva Shankar Rao wrote a letter to the Senior Assistant Public Prosecutor, who advised the police to register a case under Section 153 (A) and Section 295 (A), which empower the authorities to act against people who commit deliberate and malicious acts aiming at outraging religious sentiment and spreading enmity between groups.

Case under investigation

The public prosecutor’s legal opinion led to a case being filed on May 15 against Ilaiah, the management of the Andhra Jyothi newspaper, its editor and publisher. The case is currently under investigation, at the completion of which a decision will be taken to whether to chargesheet them.

A police officer at the station told Scroll that Ilaiah is in the habit of articulating provocative views in his articles, which can and do hurt the sentiments of people. “Why does he have to make comments against practices which are dear to people?” the officer said, declining to give his name.

Read the full article here

Public Burdens of Religion and the Lightness of Atheism : Sanjay Kumar

Guest Post by Sanjay Kumar

Death evokes strongest of human emotions. However, exploring and finding reasons behind a death is also part of our humanity. Legal codes in all countries demand criminal investigations of deaths due to the so called ‘unnatural’ causes. Medical sciences have advanced largely due to explorations of the other, ‘natural’ causes of death. Deaths due to completely avoidable reasons fall in a category of their own. How a society deals with such deaths is a good indicator of how it treats its living.

One hundred and eight people died in an explosion during a fire cracker festival in a temple in Kollam, Kerala on 10th April. According to reports, the district administration had not given permission for the event, citing hazards of firing crackers close to a densely populated area, and the fact that the fire cracking festivities were actually in the form of a competition. Yet, pressure from the powerful temple trust meant that the programme was held amid full police presence. The accident happened in one of the better governed states of India, which also boasts of a vigilant citizenry. Continue reading Public Burdens of Religion and the Lightness of Atheism : Sanjay Kumar

कुल्हाडी की छाया में उम्मीद

‘शब्द हिरासत में हैं और हत्यारे खुलेआम घुम रहे हैं’

( Photo Courtesy :, Martyr Rajib Haider who was killed by the Islamists on 15 th February 2013)

आम दिनों में ऐसे बयानों पर कोई गौर नहीं करता, मगर एक ऐसे समय में जबकि आप के कई साथी इस्लामिस्टों के हाथों मारे गए हों और उनके द्वारा जारी हिट लिस्ट में आप का नाम भी शुमार हो और उधर अपने आप को सेक्युलर कहलानेवाली सरकार भी  इन आततायियों के खिलाफ सख्त कदम उठाएगी ऐसी कोई उम्मीद नहीं दिखती तो, उस पृष्ठ भूमि में तीन ब्लागर्स द्वारा अपना नाम लेकर जारी किया गया एक बयान विद्रोह की आवाज़ को नए सिरेसे बुलन्द करना है। (

कुल्हाडी की छाया में उम्मीद’ यही शीर्षक है उस पत्र का जो बांगलादेश के युवा ब्लॉगर और लेखक आरिफ जेबतिक ने लिखा है। सरकार की समझौतापरस्ती की आलोचना करते हुए वह लिखते हैं कि ‘जब किसी नागरिक की हत्या होती है और राज्य की प्राथमिकता होती है कि पहले यह पता किया जाए कि उसने लिखा क्या न कि हत्यारों को पकड़ा जाए, तब स्पष्ट होता है कि इन ब्लागर्स के हत्यारों को पकड़ने में सरकार की कितनी दिलचस्पी है।’ ‘मेरे विचार चुपचाप रोते हैं’ शीर्षक से एक अन्य पत्र मारूफ रोसूल ने भी लिखा है जो लेखक हैं और ‘मुक्तो मोना’ (Mukto Mona ) नामक ब्लॉग के लिए नियमित लिखते हैं। वह लिखते हैं कि बुनियादपरस्त लोग पूरी दुनिया में उत्पात मचाए हुए हैं, अभिव्यक्ति की स्वतंत्रता, मुक्त चिंतन सभी खतरे में है और इसलिए यह संघर्ष अनथक जारी रहना चाहिए, इसके पहले कि यह शैतानी ताकतें हमारी स्वतंत्रता में एक और कील न ठोंक दे।’ तीसरा पत्र जानेमाने ब्लागर एवं कार्यकर्ता इमरान सरकार ने लिखा है जो ‘बांगलादेश ब्लागर्स एण्ड आनलाइन एक्टिविस्ट नेटवर्क‘ के अग्रणी हैं तथा, ‘गणजागरण मंच‘ जैसे सेक्युलर आन्दोलन के प्रवक्ता हैं। इमरान सरकार लिखते हैं कि ‘शब्द हिरासत में हैं और हत्यारे खुलेआम घुम रहे हैं।’ ..हत्यारे मुक्त चिन्तन के रास्ते में एक के बाद एक बैरिकेड खड़े कर रहे हैं। एक एक सहयोद्धा की मौत के साथ उनके शोक में निकले जुलसों में लोगों की तादाद बढ़ रही है और सरकार हत्यारों को पकड़ने के बजाय ब्लागर्स के लेखन पर ही सवाल खड़ा कर रही है और सूचना एवं सम्प्रेषण टेक्नोलोजी की धारा 57 का इस्तेमाल करते हुए ब्लागर्स को ही गिरफतार कर रही है।’ Continue reading कुल्हाडी की छाया में उम्मीद

Why exoneration of Sadhvi Pragya should worry everyone who stands for justice

Why exoneration of Sadhvi Pragya should worry everyone who stands for justice

There are a few photographs which the bigwigs of the Hindutva Brigade/Sangh Parivar would like to be erased from public memory. One such photograph shows Sadhvi Pragya, an ex-member of the ABVP, sitting with Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Rajnath Singh and few others. As it was later revealed they had gathered to console the widow of a BJP leader from MP, who had just died.

Public memory is very short but one can stretch it a bit to recollect the tremendous consternation in BJP/RSS circles when Sadhvi Pragya was arrested by the Anti Terrorist Squad led by the legendary police office Hemant Karkare on 23 October, 2008 for her alleged role in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast. This photograph had suddenly gone viral when there were denials by many leaders of the saffron brigade that they had never met her.

Now that the NIA, the federal agency established by the government to combat terror in India, has given a ‘clean chit’ to Sadhvi Pragya and few of her accomplices, should one expect that all those photographs showing her proximity to various leaders of the saffron establishment would be prominently exhibited? It must be remembered that leaders of BJP have even claimed that it was an act of “treason” to arrest her.

(Read the remaining article here :

बेहद पोंगापंथी और जातिवादी हैं प्रवासी भारतीय

आम धारणा है कि एक भारतीय विदेश की सरजमीन पर पैर रखते ही जेंटलमैन बन जाता है। वह सभ्यता के नए मूल्यों से परिचित होता है, अपने देश की तमाम रूढ़ियों से नाता तोड़ लेता है और सही मायने में एक आधुनिक व्यक्ति बन जाता है। यह बात एक हद तक ही सही है। कुछ लोगों में भले ही परिवर्तन आ जाता हो पर एक बड़े हिस्से पर शायद उल्टा ही असर होता है। भारत के बाहर जहां-जहां भारतीय बसे हैं, वहां उन्होंने न केवल जाति आधारित संगठनों, संस्थाओं की स्थापना की है बल्कि वहां भी वे निम्न कही जानेवाली जातियों के साथ खुल्लमखुल्ला भेदभाव करने में संकोच नहीं करते। लेकिन उनके चरित्र के दोहरेपन का आलम यह है कि वे चाहते हैं कि ये बातें ढकी-छुपी रहें। वहां के लोग यह सब न जानें।

आजकल अमेरिका के एक बड़े राज्य कैलिफॉर्निया की पाठ्यपुस्तकों में संशोधन चल रहा है। यह एक रूटीन प्रोसेस है जिसके तहत सिलेबस में नए विषय या तथ्य शामिल किए जाते हैं। इस क्रम में वहां सिलेबस में हिंदुओं के बारे में भी कुछ सूचनाएं शामिल की जा रही हैं। लेकिन इस पर विवाद हो गया है कि जानकारियों को किस रूप में रखा जाए। भारतीयों का एक तबका चाहता है कि प्राचीन तथ्यों को नए सिरे से लिखा जाए और हिंदू समाज में मौजूद वर्ण व्यवस्था या छुआछूत की बात को साफ गोल कर दिया जाए। अमेरिका में रह रही दलित ऐक्टिविस्ट थेनमोझि सुंदरराजन ने पिछले दिनों ‘द हफिंग्टन पोस्ट’ में इस संबंध में एक लेख लिखा है जिसके मुताबिक प्रवासी भारतीयों के एक हिस्से में सक्रिय ‘धर्मा सिविलाइजेशन फाउंडेशन’ की तरफ से दलील दी जा रही है कि हिंदुओं में जाति एवं पुरुष सत्ता का जिक्र किया जाएगा तो इससे हिंदू बच्चे ‘हीन भावना’ से ग्रस्त हो जाएंगे। यह उनकी ‘प्रताड़ना’ का सबब बन सकता है, लिहाजा इस उल्लेख को टाल दिया जाए।

सुंदरराजन बताती हैं कि ऊपरी तौर पर आकर्षक लगने वाली यह दलील सच्चाई पर पर्दा डालने जैसी है क्योंकि वही तर्क नस्लवाद के संदर्भ में भी इस्तेमाल किया जा सकता है और किताबों से उसकी चर्चा भी गायब की जा सकती है। लेकिन इन कोशिशों का विरोध भी हो रहा है। विभिन्न धर्मों व नस्लों से जुड़े संगठनों ने एकजुट होकर पाठ्यपुस्तकों में ऐसे हेरफेर की मुहिम पर आपत्ति जताई है। उनका कहना है कि दक्षिण एशिया के इस हिस्से में जातिगत और धार्मिक असहिष्णुता या संस्थागत भेदभाव के प्रसंग को गायब करना न सिर्फ इतिहास को नकारने जैसा है बल्कि यह गैर लोकतांत्रिक भी है। Continue reading बेहद पोंगापंथी और जातिवादी हैं प्रवासी भारतीय

‘Radical’ Critics and KaBodyscapes

What does it mean to dissent in a world in which everyone claims to be a dissenter? What does it take to build a critical vantage-point, one that is not merely the easy pastime of fault-finding, when we all seem to already know what will be truly critical? Ever since the oppositional energy generated against Hindutva fascism in and through the Kiss of Love campaigns dissipated into the rival folds of the Human and the Anti-Human in Kerala, these questions have troubled me. The prospect of being sucked into one side of such a binary formation is terrifying enough to scare one away from  engaging with either side; but worse is the pain that follows the realization that the unique moment of hope – the hope that the diverse groups that populate the anti-Hindutva civil society may well be able to form a bond of trust, however tentative and fragile, more than merely strategic connections – is well and truly in the past. Both sides have indulged in belligerent and damaging caricaturing of each other’s positions, as if the annihilation of the other was the very condition of the survival of the one. Continue reading ‘Radical’ Critics and KaBodyscapes

Jayadeva Uyangoda on Ambedkar’s Legacy

Text of the talk delivered on April 22, 2016 at the Indian Cultural Centre, Colombo on the occasion of B. R. Ambedkar Commemoration.

Ambedkar’s Legacy: Critique of Religion, Quest for Social Justice and the Paradox of Constitutionalism

Jayadeva Uyangoda, Senior professor of Political Science, University of Colombo


May I begin my talk this evening by thanking His Excellency Y. K. Sinha the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo for inviting me to deliver this lecture on B. R. Ambedkar? This event is part of a series of celebrations in connection with the 125th birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, which fell on the 14th of April. I am afraid my talk may not celebrate great Ambedkar’s memory and legacy as such. It will only present some disjointed and hurriedly constructed thoughts about the life and legacy of this great son of South Asia.

Ambedkar’s name is well known in Sri Lanka. In Sinhalese society, the popular culture of which I am somewhat familiar with, Ambedkar is known as the leader of India’s Harijan communities. The word dalit is not in much use in Sinhalese society. The Gandhian neologism of harijan is better known. Ambedkar is respected as the Harijan leader who embraced Buddhism along with several thousands of his followers. Sinhalese Buddhists are particularly sympathetic to Ambedkar and his social reform movement. For them, Ambedkar’s project constituted a critique and a rejection of Hinduism. This is despite the fact that Buddhism has historically and in terms of elite as well as popular practices been closely interwoven with Hinduism. Quite independent of Ambedkar, Sri Lankan Buddhists have a somewhat ambivalent attitude towards Hinduism and Hindu traditions as well. It is almost like their ambivalence towards India in general, as some of their intellectuals and professionals seem to be inclined to demonstrate these days. Continue reading Jayadeva Uyangoda on Ambedkar’s Legacy