Zee News Anchor Sudhir Chaudhary whose heart beats for India tried to extort 100 crores from the Jindals, remember? No, no, please, kindly, take a few minutes to watch this, at least until 3.55.
This is a photo comparing Chaudhary with that the whistleblower in the Vyapam scam, who exposed a long-running case of serious corruption by the state and political parties which has involved the murders of over 45 individuals! The current government is providing Chaudhary X category security while with this cycle-borne ‘security’ the Vyapam whistleblower has survived 14 attacks on his life.
Two of the greatest, crazies, most beautiful minds produced by the Indian subcontinent in the Twentieth Century would have been arrested by the police and attacked by the RSS, as ‘Anti-Nationals’, perhaps rightly so, had they been alive today.After all, they never stopped being young.
One of them was tall, you know him – the big guy, with glasses, always dressed to the nines, (no itchy khadi or scratchy khaki would do for him) .
The other had long hair and a beard, and even became a contemporary artist in his old age.
The cops, or thugs-in-law of the RSS might even have said “saala JNU ka lagta hai” (looks like this ***** is from JNU).
So, here they are – Bhimrao Ambedkar (Baba Saheb), and Rabindranath Tagore.
Once again, Jai Bhim, Joy Guru. And pass the ammunition.
Guest Post by Students of Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University
( A protest meeting on Rohith Vemula was organised in Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University on 28 th January. Find pasted below a brief report of the meeting followed by the statement which was read and passed in the meeting.)
We, the students of Delhi School of Economics organised a protest meeting in solidarity with the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, University of Hyderabad. It was joined in by students from other departments of the university as well.
Let me speak first of Rohith Chakravarthi Vemula. I never met him. I wish I had, although that would have made me hardly any worthier of speaking about him. Had I met him, I would have come to know that I shared with him a passion for science, nature and stars. I would like to think that he would have found in me, despite my being from another generation, a comrade-in-arms and a fellow campaigner for a better world. Perhaps I would have also recognized a few of the scars left over from a childhood spent in poverty. But, there, the similarities would have ended.
We were born in the same country but at two different locations in the social universe. Distances separating these locations are not traversable – reason enough for this universe to collapse. Instead collapsed this remarkable young man who longed to be “treated as a mind” – “a glorious thing made up of stardust” – and who did not wish to be “reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility…to a vote…to a number…to a thing”. He was crushed under the weight of a millennial civilization. His end was precipitated by the malignant political forces ready to use state power to banish all reason and every shred of freedom from modern institutions and public sphere. He may have chosen the mode and the time of his death but it was an instance of a death foretold. In choosing death he has challenged the powers-that-be in a manner and with a force that no demons of deception, no army of liars and no battery of ministers can defend against. Continue reading Before I Speak of the Stars…Ravi Sinha→
Guest Post : Statement by New Socialist Initiative( NSI)
Comrade Rohith, we pay our deepest respects to you. We share your concerns. With you and like you we think that Systemic revolutions and great social transformations should go hand in hand. Rohith we fully agree with you that unless the oppressed are armed with scientific knowledge and rationality, revolution and emancipation remain elusive.
New Socialist Initiative pays its respects to Comrade Rohith Vemula, PhD scholar and student leader of University of Hyderabad. Rohith is not just a name of a scholar today. It has become a battle cry against the saffronisation of Indian education system. Rohith is the name of the relentless struggle against the upper caste domination in the institutions of higher education. Rohith has become a symbol of revolt against the decadence of our civilisation. Yes, Rohith committed suicide, killed himself, but not in desperation, not in fruitless vengeance. As his last words amply show, he seemed to be making a political and philosophical statement on the order of the things in this country, on the despicable manuvadi practices raising their ugly heads in the university campuses, on fascist targeting of Muslim minority community, on the rising intolerance and irrationality in our society.
Which leads to the oppression of the lower classes,
See what state of the society one lack of education can cause!”
..Most people do not realize that society can practise tyranny and oppression against an individual in a far greater degree than a Government can. The means and scope that are open to society for oppression are more extensive than those that are open to Government; also they are far more effective. What punishment in the penal code is comparable in its magnitude and its severity to excommunication? Who has greater courage—the Social Reformer who challenges society and invites upon himself excommunication or the political prisoner who challenges Government and incurs sentence of a few months or a few years imprisonment?..
(Ranade, Gandhi and Jinnah, Address delivered by Dr Ambedkar on the 101 st birthday celebration of M G Ranade, 18 th January, 1943)
Understanding or rereading a historical figure – whose life and times have impacted generations of scholars and activists – who has been subjected to praise as well scrutiny by best brains of our times becomes a challenging task. One gets a feeling that whatever has to be said has already been said and perhaps there is not much novelty left. An added challenge becomes when you are face to face with scholars/activists who could be considered experts on the issue having done more detailed and through work on the subject. Continue reading Reading Phule – Now No More Silences!→
( Till 1992, 6 th December was remembered as ‘Parinirvan Divas’ of Dr Ambedkar, legendary son of the oppressed who had clearly recognised the true meaning of Hindutva and warned his followers about the dangers of Hindu Rashtra ; post 1992, 6 th December has an added meaning and it relates to the demolition of Babri Mosque undertaken by these very forces.
Apart from the fact that this event led to the biggest communal conflagaration at the national level post-independence, whose repercussions are still being felt and whose perpetrators are still roaming free, we should not forget that it was the first biggest attack on the principles of secularism and democracy, which has been a core value of the Constitution drafted under the Chairmanship of Dr Ambedkar.
What follows here is an edited version of the presentation made at Dept of Social Work, Delhi University, during their programme centred around 1 st Ambedkar Memorial Lecture)
“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
‘Indians today are governed by two ideologies. Their political ideal set in the preamble of the constitution affirms a life of liberty, equality and fraternity whereas their social ideal embedded in their religion denies it to them’
Mujadpur, a village in Haryana’s Hisar district, which has been in the news recently for what the government lexicon calls ‘dalit atrocities’, involving murders and ‘suicides’.
Recently, it was hit by another such incident, albeit of a less fatal nature: Members of the Jat community thrashed a dalit man called Ramdhari and his family members and stuffed cow dung in his mouth. Reportedly, Ramdhari installed a statue of BR Ambedkar in his house and that provoked the upper caste Jats.
The irony of this cannot be emphasised enough.
One does not know whether in an area dominated by the Jats, Ramdhari’s perpetrators have been arrested under provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act (1989) or not.
Or has the incident been explained away in the light of some vague personal animosity, which is what happened when two children in Sunped were recently killed by throwing of inflammable material in their house by dominant castes.
As the nation begins another series of grand celebrations, this time to celebrate the contributions of BR Ambedkar, the plight of a dalit family for merely installing his statue stares at us in our eyes. It is symptomatic of the gap between the principles and values on which the Constitution is based and the situation on the ground.
Public Statement issued by People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) on 6 June, 2015
A case has been filed by the Hyderabad police against well known Dalit writer and academic Kancha Ilaiah on a complaint by Vishwa Hindu Parishad members for hurting their religious sentiments. The complaint was filed on the basis of Ilaiah’s article Devudu Prajasamya Vada Kada? (Is God a democrat?) published in a Telugu daily on May 9. In the said article Ilaiah had argued that the possibility of democracy, or its lack inside different religious groups depend on the conception of their God(s). The VHP activists have accused Prof Ilaiah of comparing Hindu gods with God in Christianity and Islam, and of ridiculing their worship. Police have filed a case under sections 153A and 295A which prescribe imprisonment upto three years for spreading enmity among groups of people and outraging religious feelings. The police action against Ilaiah has come around the same time that the IIT Madras has derecognised a student group Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle that organises discussions around socio-cultural and political issues. The group was derecognised after an anonymous complaint against it was filed with the central HRD ministry. While many political parties and groups have justifiably come out in support of the APSC, it is surprising that Prof Ilaiah has received little solidarity. Both these incidences are a proof of the aggressive intent of Hindutva forces to attack any discourse which publicly questions their castiest, Brahminical and majoritarian understanding of Indian society. Successes of Mr Narendra Modi in the recent elections have emboldened them further . Continue reading Withdraw police case against Prof Kancha Ilaiah and revoke the ban on Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle : People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism→
Whether discussing issues of contemporary concern among students, raising debates around them on the campus – taking inspiration from the ideas of leading social revolutionaries of 20th century – should be construed as an act of creating ‘social disharmony’ or ‘spreading hatred’ ?
Any sane person would rather reject this weird proposal but it appears that the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) think otherwise. It was evident in the way they acted on an anonymous complaint regarding the activities of a group of students in IIT Madras which calls itself ‘Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle’ (APSC) – which comprises mainly of dalit, bahujan and adivasi students. Perhaps they were worried that the particular students group, has been critical about PM Modi’s policies and has been raising issues of caste, communalism as well as corporate loot of resources and challenging the ‘development’ narrative which is popular these days among a section of people. The impetuosity with which they acted when they wrote to the management of the Institute can also be gauged from the fact that in this process they violated the recommendations of the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) itself which has ‘barred’ organisations from taking action on such (anonymous) complaints.
As of now the issue of ‘derecognition’ of APSC by the IITM management, has snowballed into a major controversy, with issues of curtailment of freedom of expression, infringement of autonomy of educational institutions and dominance of caste in higher education all coming to the fore. Continue reading No To Ambedkar-Periyar in ‘Modern Day Agraharam’?→
In order to gain larger legitimacy, RSS has been making claims of sorts. One of that which was made few months back was that Gandhi was impressed by functioning of RSS. Now on the heels of that comes another distortion that Ambedkar believed in Sangh ideology (Feb 15, 2015). This was stated recently by RSS Sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat. There cannot be bigger contrasts between the ideology of Ambedkar and RSS. Ambedkar was for Indian Nationalism, Secularism and social justice while the RSS ideology is based on two major pillars. One is the Brahmanic interpretation of Hinduism and second is the concept of Hindu nationalism, Hindu Rashtra.
Where does Ambedkar stand as for as ideology of Hinduism is concerned? He called Hinduism as Brahminic theology. We also understand that Brahmanism has been the dominant tendency within Hinduism. He realized that this prevalent version of Hinduism is essentially a caste system, which is the biggest tormentor of untouchables-dalits.
Statement by New Socialist Initiative, Delhi State Chapter
It is cleaning season in India. Country’s prime minister has gone to town with a broom. He started the campaign to clean India by sweeping a dalit neighburhood of erstwhile untouchables, seemingly breaking many caste barriers. There are very few public defenders of caste system nowadays. Upper caste men and women, whose ancestors only three generations ago fought tooth and nail to not yield even an inch of their caste privileges, now cry and organise under the slogan of Equality, once affirmative action for lower castes in educational institutions and government jobs has begun to have some traction. Is now not an opportune time to sweep away the garbage of caste into the dustbin of history?
Reality is too complex for this simple hope. If caste appears to be disregarded, or flouted, in some domains, its prejudices and violence are flourishing in others. The day country’s news channels were busy showing the prime minister sweeping a dalit basti in the heart of the capital, a young woman of Madurai in Tamil Nadu was burnt alive by her family for marrying a dalit. She could have been from anywhere in the country, from Haryana in the North to Maharashtra in the West, or Bihar in the East, to have met a similar fate; if not murder, certainly social ostracism. In all villages, where majority of Indians live, habitation areas are divided along caste lines; upper castes occupying the most secure central areas with easiest access to public utilities like road, school, and panchayat ghar; and dalits on the outskirts. In cities too, where caste markers are less visible, caste networks are the most potent resource the poor fall back upon while searching for job and habitation.
The Hindu Social Order is based upon a division of labour which reserves for the Hindus clean and respectable jobs and assigns to the untouchables dirty and mean jobs and thereby clothes the Hindus with dignity and heaps ignominy upon the untouchables.
(The Revolt of the Untouchables, Excerpted from Essays on Untouchables and Untouchability : Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Writings and Speeches, Vol 5 (Mumbai : Govt of Maharashtra, 1989, 256-58)
The inauguration of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, (Clean India Campaign) with much fanfare, with ministers, bureaucrats and others holding Jhadoos evoked an interesting reaction from a ragpicker Sanjay who lives in Mehrauli with his parents. “These are the same people from whose houses we pick up garbage every day. This is part of our life. We don’t really understand why they are making it such a big deal,” Continue reading Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: Too Many Erasures→
People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (P.A.D.S.) Statement on the murder of three young persons in Badaun and Pune
While introducing the Draft Constitution in the Constituent Assembly, Dr B. R. Ambedkar had observed, “Democracy in India is only a top-dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic.” The same continues to hold true sixty four years later. A few weeks ago the people of India participated in the largest-ever election of their representatives in a largely free and fair process. However, other events since then have revealed the shallowness of this democratic top-dressing along with the tyrannical side of our society and polity.
On 27 May two girls aged 12 and 14 from an oppressed caste family of Katra Sadatganj in Badaun district of UP were sexually assaulted and killed when out to answer nature’s call. The rapists, belonging to the local dominant caste, hung their bodies from a tree in a public display of their power.
On 2 June in Pune, twenty-eight year old Mohsin Shaikh, an information technology professional was beaten to death by a group of men belonging to an outfit called Hindu Rashtra Sena. The killers even celebrated their cruelty in messages declaring that the ‘the first wicket is down’.
( To be published in the coming issue of ‘Critique’ a magazine published by ‘New Socialist Initiative’s Delhi University team )
The Jew as well as the Christian, the Hindu no less than the Muslim ‘fundamentalist’ plies an ideology of superior difference. Each confronts an inferior and threatening Other . Each engages in the politics of exclusion. Hence each poses a menace to the minority communities within its boundary…For the Muslim militants the Other are the Jews, occasionally Christians and, in South Asia, the Hindus, Christians, and Ahmedis. I know of no religio-political formation today which does not have a demonized, therefore threatened, Other.
The Other is always an active negation. All such movements mobilize hatred, and often harness unusual organizational effort to do so. ..
The cult of violence and proliferation of enemies are inherent in ideologies of difference. All express their hate for the Other by organized violence. All legitimize their violence with references to religion and history. In nearly all instances the enemy multiplies. At first, the Indian Parivar had the Muslim Other for target. It has now turned on Christians.
Profile of the Religious Right – Eqbal Ahmad (1999)
Masks and the Man
Child’s fantasies are endless and unimaginable.
It will wear a mask of a tiger and start ‘scaring’ it’s near and dear ones with a growl and the very next moment would imagine itself to be flying in the air with the mask of a Spiderman. Have you ever noticed any adult -may be completely stranger to the kid – getting annoyed with such tantrums of a child. Definitely not.
Dalit residents of Pabnava, district Kaithal, Haryana would never be able to forget this year’s birth anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. The intervening nights of April 13 and 14 would forever remain etched on their minds. They still shiver when they remember how a four hundred strong mob of the local landowning community called Ror Marathas, armed with spears, batons and other sharp edged weapons, attacked the basti and ransacked more than 200 houses and left 6 dalits injured. It was supposedly to avenge the ‘dishonour’ wrought on them by a dalit youth who had dared to marry one of ‘their girls’.
To quote Raji, one of the victims, ‘..they came like a tornado’.
Ur-Fascism [Eternal Fascism] is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, “I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares” Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances – everyday, in every part of the world.
Politics in this part of South Asia unfolds itself in very many ways. We have before us a spectrum of regimes ranging from electoral democracies at one end to countries which could be said to be unambiguously authoritarian at the other, and some others with varying mixes of electoral democratic and authoritarian features ‘packed in between.’ Since early 1980s we have also been witness to an emergence of right-wing populist parties and movements throughout a growing number of these countries. Appealing to public anxieties in the wake of rapid economic change, these movements have succeeded in mobilizing and exploiting popular resentments against immigrants, minorities, and the political establishment.
The system of untouchability has been a goldmine for the Hindus. This system affords 60 millions of untouchables to do the dirty work of scavenging and sweeping to the 240 million Hindus who are debarred by their religion to do such dirty work. But the work must be done for the Hindus and who else than the untouchables?
– Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
Whether Shit Collection or cleaning of gutters – which has condemned lakhs of people to a life of indignity since ages – could be considered a ‘Spiritual Experience.’ Definitely not. Everybody would yell. Well, Mr Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat, has a different take on this, which he mentions in the book ‘Karmayog’ (Publication year 2007). Continue reading Modi’s Social Engineering→
This is the text of the Ambedkar Memorial lecture delivered byASHIS NANDYat the India International Centre on 14 April 2012, under the auspices of Ambedkar University, Delhi.
It was published in Economic and Political Weekly, July 28, 2010
Every generation likes to believe that it is living in momentous times, witnessing the death of one world and the birth of another, negotiating what pre-war Bengali writers used to grandly call yugasandhikshana, the moment when two epochs meet. This generation of Indians too believes that it is seeing such changes and even participating in them. Perhaps they are. However, I shall argue here that, along with transitions in society and politics to which they like to stand witness, there are transitions in cultures of knowledge and states of awareness of which they may be gloriously innocent. And they perhaps try to protect that innocence. The categories we deploy to construe our world images are parts of our innermost self and to disown them is to disown parts of ourselves and jeopardise our self-esteem. Even when we struggle to shed these categories, they survive like phantom limbs do in some amputees. Or perhaps they survive the way one of Freud’s three universal fantasies, the one about immortality, does. When you imagine yourself dead, you are still there, fully alive, looking at yourself as dead. Continue reading Theories of Oppression and another Dialogue of Cultures: Ashis Nandy→
We received two brief submissions separately sent by two women, reflecting on incidents in their childhood or youth that returned to haunt them more recently. Rethinking, reworking their own sense of self, they present before us questions both timely and urgent.
AYSHWARIA SEKHER looks back on her ignorance of caste, PRANETA JHA revisits a childhood game that taught her about sexual violence.
I was seventeen, and an undergraduate when I met this friend at hostel. She was from a southern district of Tamilnadu almost near Kanyakumari. I was always amused by her southern dialect and teased her immensely, for it was very different from what I was used to speaking, being a northerner. She lived next door at hostel, so we got into conversations every time we bumped into each other. One evening she was sweeping her room and cleaning it. I stopped by to see the way she swept so I could bully her. As I observed I did realise that she was so much better than me at it and did it with ease. As we got talking, she revealed that she always did it at her home, and it was not a task for her.
Ignorantly I enquired why they did not have a help at home, which according to me was something that every household possessed. She looked at me, and brushed aside the question plainly, saying simply that they just didn’t have any help. I pestered with the question giving her no space. She stopped sweeping and rested her hand against the wall and said that people would not come to her house to work. I was amazed at why people would not go to a home for work. So my cross questions persisted and she had no choice but to answer.
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→