Nehru, Ambedkar and Challenge of Majoritarianism

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( Photo courtesy : The hoot)

(To be published in the special issue of ‘Janata’)

 

The spectacle of what is called religion, or at any rate organised religion, in India and elsewhere, has filled me with horror and I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it. Almost always it seemed to stand for blind belief and reaction, dogma and bigotry, superstition, exploitation and the preservation of vested interests.

– Toward Freedom: The Autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru (1936), pp. 240–241.

If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country. No matter what the Hindus say, Hinduism is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. On that account it is incompatible with democracy. Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost.

– Ambedkar, ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’, p. 358.

Introduction

India’s slow ushering into a majoritarian democracy is a matter of concern for every such individual who still believes in pluralism, democracy, equality and a clear separation of religion and politics. The way people are being hounded for raising dissenting opinions, for eating food of their choice or entering into relationships of their own liking or celebrating festivals according to their own faith is unprecedented. The situation has reached such extremes that one can even be publicly lynched for belonging to one of the minority religions or for engaging in an activity which is considered to be ‘suspicious’ by the majority community.

No doubt there is no direct harm to the basic structure of the Constitution, its formal structure remains intact, de jure India does remain a democracy as well as a republic, but de facto democracy has slowly metamorphosed into majoritarianism and the sine qua non of a republic—that its citizens are supreme—is being watered down fast. It does not need underlining that this process has received tremendous boost with the ascent of Hindutva supremacist forces at the centrestage of Indian politics. Continue reading “Nehru, Ambedkar and Challenge of Majoritarianism”

Talk Bhima or Bhim, Walk Manu

bhima bhoi के लिए चित्र परिणाम

( Photo Courtesy : http://www.bhubaneswarbuzz.com)

Bhima Bhoi, saint, poet and social reformer, who lived in later part of the 19 th century and who wielded his pen against the prevailing social injustice, religious bigotry and caste discrimination, would not have imagined in his wildest dreams that in the second decade of the 21 st century there would arrive such new claimants to his legacy who stood against everything for which he stood for. A populariser of Mahima movement or Mahima Dharma which ‘draws elements from Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Vaishnavism and Tantra Yoga,’ the movement Bhima  led was a ‘deeply felt protest against caste system and feudal practices of western and central Orissa.’ and goal of his mission was “Jagata Uddhara” ( liberation of entire world). ((http://roundtableindia.co.in/lit-blogs/?tag=bhima-bhoi))  Continue reading “Talk Bhima or Bhim, Walk Manu”

For A New Rendezvous With Dr Ambedkar – Focus on Last Decade of his Life

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..Everybody would agree that it is a challenging task to encapsulate a great wo/man’s vision in a few words- who as a public figure has impacted not only her/his generation but future generations, initiated or channelised debates in the society, led struggles, mobilised people, wrote thousands of pages and left a legacy for all of us to carry forward. …

To save time one can focus more on the last decade of his life – the most tumultuous period in his as well as the newly independent nation’s life – to know the important concerns which bothered his mind and how he envisioned the future trajectory of the movement he led and how he tried to chart a roadmap for the nascent nation with due support/cooperation and at times resistance from leading stalwarts of his time… Continue reading “For A New Rendezvous With Dr Ambedkar – Focus on Last Decade of his Life”

Ambedkar and the Environmental Tradition

The 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar was celebrated in April 2016 all around, so much so that the United Nations, for the first time, observed this day with a focus on achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As we know, the 17 goals along with 169 targets and 304 indicators, adopted in September 2015, aspire to transform our world by balancing the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. The ‘plan of action for people, planet and prosperity’ has environment at its core, along with poverty and inequality: to ‘protect planet’, create ‘healthy environment’, and ensure equality, dignity and development ‘in harmony with nature’. And Ambedkar is found in this regard to be an apt and inspiring leader.

The world can see traces of Ambedkar’s vision in the SDGs and can find his views relevant for environmental sustainability, but not the Indian environmentalists! Indian environmental movements marginalize Ambedkar. From a historical past, environmental scholars have placed Gandhi at the apex of their inspiration. Recently, Nehru and Indira Gandhi too have been constructed through an ecological lens. However, Ambedkar’s engagement with the environmental question has been relatively unexplored, even when his thoughts and interventions on nature, village, land, agriculture, water, community, industry, technology and science are some of the enduring issues of India’s environmental and political traditions. In comparison with Gandhi, credited with having an intuitive critique of modern civilization, Ambedkar has often been criticized for his modernization vision, which it is argued, drew heavily on the west for inspiration (Nagaraj 2010: 56-7)

Continue reading “Ambedkar and the Environmental Tradition”

[Audio: Hindi] Prashant Jha on Upper Caste Madhesis taking the Sorry Pledge

In the second instance of what I hope will become a regular feature on Kafila, I caught up with fellow journalist and Kafila contributor Prashant Jha on the We Are Sorry Campaign for Social Reform in Madhes , where upper-caste Nepali Hindus acknowledge they have benefited from the centuries long oppression of pretty much everyone else.

In our conversation Prashant addresses the substantive and well-founded criticism of the pledge [another example of upper-castes setting the terms of debate and discourse, largely symbolic] as well as broader questions of Nepali politics and nation-hood.

He will respond to comments on this site. Let me know if there are any particular themes you would like us to explore in our new audio work. All audio files in this series are freely downloadable, and shareable – so you can download them to your phone and listen on your commute to where ever.

 

Ambedkar Cannot be Adopted or Appropriated by Hindutva: K Satyanarayana

Transcript and translation of lecture  by Prof. K.SATYANARAYANA, speaking at the launch of book, Ambedkar Can Neither Be Adopted Nor Appropriated by The Hindutva Elements. The book, authored by Bojja Tharakkam, K. Satyanarayana, K. Laxminarayana and K. Y. Ratnam. It was launched in Hyderabad in July last year and is a reply to RSS’ Organiser special edition on Ambedkar. The text and video of the original Telugu lecture received by us via DALIT CAMERA.

All the friends who gave me this opportunity, to the many Ambedkarites present in this hall and to the very senior members, activists and intellectuals, I thank you all. After Anand Teltumbde has spoken, there isn’t much left to speak because he covered all the information in this book and also described completely about a lot of aspects about Maharashtra, about Ambedkar’s like and his work. Therefore there might not be much new information in my speech, but while writing this book, the distortions they made, or the attempts of RSS in relation to Ambedkar, as there is a need for historical context, I will speak about some of those issues. Firstly what Respected Mr. Tarakam has said is, to read some of the names of essays in the Organiser as the book is not available to everybody. When this book Organiser came out, generally RSS-BJP, when they talk about Ambedkar or about Babri-masjid, what we think is that they speak lies, false words, and mistruths and therefore there isn’t any danger as nobody will believe in their load of rubbish and lies. We think that way and if people understand the lies and if they don’t follow those words, there is no danger, but with this same type of propaganda, they completely changed the normal common-sense of the people and today Modi, as a K.D (drawn from an old colonial police/ legal category, it has become a Telugu expression that suggests a person with undesirable traits), as our brother has sung, is sitting in power.

Continue reading “Ambedkar Cannot be Adopted or Appropriated by Hindutva: K Satyanarayana”