Kilvenmani, Karamchedu, Chunduru… Orissa, Pratapgarh?

Reviewing Anand Teltumbde’s book Khairlanji: A Strange and Bitter Crop, Rajesh Ramachandran concludes:

The book however has a serious ideological flaw. It inadvertently falls into the Brahminical trap of theorising class conflicts in terms of positing Dalits against the new Shudra oppressors. Kilvenmani, Karamchedu, Chunduru and other examples are repeated at least seven times in the text to argue that new oppressors are Shudras. If that be, how does Teltumbde explain desperately poor tribals killing and raping Dalits in Kandhamal? The real oppressor is the caste hegemony perpetuated by the core Sangh Parivar constituency of the Brahmin-Bania-Thakur trinity. Is it any surprise that it was Parivar’s Brahminical commentators who first introduced the Dalit-Shudra contradiction to theorise the “failure” of Kanshi Ram’s Bahujan experiment and the split of the unbeatable BSP-Samajwadi Party alliance in UP. Hope the Dalit ‘holocaste’ series doesn’t serve this Hindutva agenda. [Mail Today, 26 October 2008]

Or, indeed, how does one explain atrocities against Dalits by Brahmins?

Converting lions to elephants

As the most hideous kinds of violence are unleashed on Christians in Orissa and Karnataka by proud Hindu terrorists, one issue that the liberal Hindu mind-set stumbles over is that of conversions. Of course, violence is bad, it bleats, nothing justifies killings, but mass conversions, you know…

Conversions. Images of Muslim hordes waving their fierce banners, sweeping across the North Indian plains; images of sly Christian missionaries swindling innocent tribals and dalits with food and education and social status, into accepting an alien god. The liberal Hindu, who would never dream of converting anybody to Hinduism, shrinks at these images.

Aditya has drawn our attention to Ambedkar’s clear-eyed insight into why Hinduism is not a proselytizing religion. Can you convert a non-Hindu into a Brahmin? Nope.

Continue reading “Converting lions to elephants”

Gomti Nagar to Bundelkhand

It has been over a year since Mayawati came to power in UP and I am absolutely sick of seeing news reports beginning with the comment, “In a state ruled by a Dalit chief minister, a Dalit youth was killed…” This hostility towards Mayawati is ironically couched in the language of ‘Dalit empowerment’, the phrase used so loosely its is completely devoid of meaning. Where were all these reporters and their editorialising and their concern for Dalits when Yadavs were running the state?

What has Mayaywati been doing for Dalits? That question will be answered again and again without talking to a single Dalit. But if you do go looking for something, you will find it. The redoubtable Nilanjana Bose reports: Continue reading “Gomti Nagar to Bundelkhand”

The meaning of Maywati for the Dalit movement

Mayawati and the Meaning of her Victory

By CHITTIBABU PADAVALA

Anand Teltumbde is an eminent Dalit theoretician who is respected and influential. He is among the few intellectuals who is also self-critical; someone who does not necessarily believe in ‘closing ranks’. Compared to Dalit intellectuals who think criticizing Dalit politics and social movements will always necessarily be used for anti-Dalit politics, and that Dalit politics could do without self-critical exercises, he is perhaps an exception in coming up with trenchant criticisms of Dalit politics, movements and perspectives from time to time. Most times, both well-meaning, pro- but non-Dalit intellectuals and Dalit intellectuals think it is dangerous to even air legitimate criticism of anything Dalit. Thus Teltumbde is also a lonely Dalit intellectual. His position is unenviable. Almost everything Dalits do or think is either unfairly dismissed and criticized or not given sufficient credit by the media and the dominant progressive-liberal left. Intellectuals like Chandrabhan Prasad or Kancha Ilaiah focus exclusively on exposing the hypocrisy of so-called progressive intellectuals and highlighting the admirable features of Dalit life and politics. Reading Teltumbde is complementary and sometimes corrective to the work of both Ilaiah and Chandra Bhan Prasad. What is missing in the latters’ intellectual practice is that they don’t entertain any sustained self-critical perspective of Dalit politics and movements and lines of thought.

However, having read Teltumbde’s recent attack on Mayawati—circulated on e-mail, posted on ZEST-Caste, and copied below—I feel the need to critically engage with his ideas, which in this case are far from acceptable. Continue reading “The meaning of Maywati for the Dalit movement”

Why Hindol Sengupta needn’t fear Mayawati

hindol-senguptamayawati

Baba Hindol and Behen Maya

Please read this very important post on the CNN IBN website’s otherwise dull blog section. It has been written by Hindol Sengupta who covers fashion and suchlike for them. His point is that he can’t relate to Mayawati, and finds it ironic that the “backbone of the knowledge, entreneurial [sic] economy” should be a “non-vote bank”. He says that his class of people, his ‘type’ – People Like Us, to use a cliche – “rejoice every time Manmohan Singh takes stage” but alas, even he couldn’t win a Lok Sabha election from South Delhi.

The reason why I think it is an important post is that unlike most other PLUs, Sengupta makes no claim to ‘objectivity’. When Youth for Equality / United Students / other ‘anti-reservationists’ oppose reservations, and speak about Dalits/OBCs, they claim to be doing so with a claim to ‘objectivity’, that is, they do not admit that the viewpoint(s) they are putting forward are of a certain section of society that is influential in shaping public opinion despite being in a minority.

Sengupta admits not only his discomfiture with a democratically elected Mayawati but also that his discomfiture stems from his background, from who he is. He describes himself and his ilk as “middle-class, educated, metro-bred, Christian-education raised, young.” That would abbreviate into MEMCRY, but let’s just use the word ‘yuppie’.

It is quite extraordinary and laudatory for a yuppie to admit his distance from the political rise of the ‘low-class, neo-literate, village-bred, government school-raised, middle aged’. Such an admission is a rarity, and it is exactly what the ‘anti-anti-reservationists’ want the ‘anti-reservationists’ to admit. Continue reading “Why Hindol Sengupta needn’t fear Mayawati”