Tag Archives: Dalits

Cow Vigilantism as Terror : New Socialist Initiative

Guest Post by  New Socialist Initiative

Can the Saffron Establishment ever wash its hands of the growing menace?

(For Hindi version, click the link http://nsi-delhi.blogspot.in/2016/07/blog-post_26.html)

( Courtesy : Cartoonist Satish Acharya, https://www.facebook.com/cartoonistsatishacharya/)

Cow vigilantism which has received tremendous boost since the ascendance of BJP at the centre got its first fitting reply in Gujarat recently. The way in which a self-proclaimed Gau Rakshak Dal – owing allegiance to Shiv Sena – attacked a group of Dalits in Una (11 th July 2016) who were skinning a dead cow, publicly flogged them, led them to the police station charging them with cow slaughter and even circulated a video of the whole incident on social media to spread further terror, has caused tremendous uproar. Continue reading Cow Vigilantism as Terror : New Socialist Initiative

Slow violence and the Spectacle – Dispossession, segregation, and the Chennai Floods: Priti Narayan

Guest post by PRITI NARAYAN

[This article is followed by a detailed survey report on the losses sustained by people during the Chennai floods, which can be read here.]

“How, in an age that venerates the instant and the spectacular, can one turn attritional calamities starring nobody into stories dramatic enough to rouse public sentiment,” asks scholar Rob Nixon, in his discussion of Rachel Carson’s seminal 1962 book Silent Spring. It is a question worth asking now, in the aftermath of the floods in Chennai.

The floods were spectacular, the initial neglect by the national Indian media notwithstanding. Enough has been written about both about the floods themselves, and the spectacle of thousands of Chennai residents pouring onto the streets and into the water to undertake rescue, relief and rehabilitation work. Now that the spectacle is fading and the celebration of the city’s spirit is dying down, perhaps we can examine the floods more objectively. Not that the deluge has not deserved the attention it has received – reports estimate that over 400 lives have been claimed, and anywhere between 1.8 to 2 million people have been displaced.

But we do not talk as much about the “attritional calamity” that involves the dispossession of the poor of their land  and their subsequent displacement to the peripheries of the city.The lack of affordable housing stock has historically led the poor to occupy land in the central city, from where they access livelihood and educational opportunities. Their location in the city has enabled them to contribute invaluable labour and services to the city’s economy. Off late however, development projects are putting immense pressure on land in the Indian city. Strategies to make a world class city –“beautification”, “development” and “eco-restoration” – envision no place for the poor in Chennai.Transparent Cities Network estimates that at least 1,50,000people from 63 slums have been displaced for development projects over the course of the last 15 years. Not all those displaced have been rehabilitated: at least 22,000 people have been left homeless. There are no estimates of the number of people who have died during displacement or after resettlement, but the instances of crime(including trafficking, prostitution, and mafia-style murders) and suicides in these government-created ghettoes tell a sordid tale. Continue reading Slow violence and the Spectacle – Dispossession, segregation, and the Chennai Floods: Priti Narayan

Anti-Conversion and Ghar Wapsi, Or Hindutva’s Doublespeak: Charu Gupta

Guest post by CHARU GUPTA

The synchronised vocabulary of anti-conversion by the BJP and that of reconversion by the VHP and Dharm Jagran Samiti, an RSS affiliate, reveals the intimate relationship between the two. Anti-conversion and reconversion are two sides of the same coin. Even though the Dharm Jagran Samiti dropped its plan to ‘reconvert’ 4000 Christians and 1000 Muslim families in Aligarh on 25 December, due to pressures from a parliament in session as well as other protests, the day has had strategic significance. Christmas Day has been given a different meaning by the Hindutva brigade — the birth anniversaries of Madan Mohan Malaviya, one of the stalwarts of the Hindu Mahasabha, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the eminent BJP leader. Equally critically, on 23 December 1926 Swami Shraddhanand, the leading ideologue of the shuddhi movement (purification; Hindu movement in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries to reclaim those who had converted from Hinduism to other religions) was assassinated by a Muslim fanatic, and on 25 December, a condolence motion was moved at the Guawhati session of the Congress.

The twin strategies of anti-conversion and ghar wapsi have a long history and past, which saw its efflorescence in the shuddhi movement, but have become much more aggressive in the present context. As part of their community and nation making rhetoric, the Arya Samaj and the Hindu Mahasabha had launched the programme of shuddhi on a large scale in Uttar Pradesh in 1923. Though Arya Samaj had stronger roots in Punjab, shuddhi movement was more effective in UP. Various scholars have pointed to the communal character of the movement. A note prepared by the criminal investigation department at that time stated that though the movement had older origins, ‘its application to mass rather than individual conversion gave it a special prominence’ in 1923. Shuddhi came to be touted as a movement to reclaim the ‘victims’ and protect the ‘faithful’. Reconversion attempts have since been a part of agenda of various Hindutva outfits, and the present assertions should be seen in that context. Today, organisations like the VHP and Dharm Jagran Samiti have acquired a new importance and are emboldened to not only challenge conversions in an organised manner, but also to simultaneously aggressively campaign for reconversion. Just as shuddhi became an instrument for Hindu communal mobilization in early twentieth century, ghar wapsi is fulfilling the same role today. Continue reading Anti-Conversion and Ghar Wapsi, Or Hindutva’s Doublespeak: Charu Gupta

The Indian Illusion: Shashank Kela

Guest post by SHASHANK KELA

Some time ago, I wrote an article seeking to dissect certain myths about Indian politics – and the class that dominates it, despite protestations to the contrary, the middle-class.[1] It is one of the habits of this class to see, and self-pityingly portray itself as victim – of mass politics, reservation policies, the great unwashed, of politicos bent upon appeasing the poor at the cost of sound principles and policies. Its conviction, of course, is that India was great, and on the cusp of becoming so again. This unfading glory is no more to be disputed than the existence of the sun, although opinions differ upon the precise placement of our golden age.

To the rabid fanatics of Hindutva, it resides in an unspecified Vedic time, when Hindus (not Indians) mysteriously succeeded in inventing aeroplanes, dynamite, nuclear weapons, the wheel, zero, and what have you (and mysteriously losing most of these wonderful things). To the Nehruvians, it is the age of Akbar, Ashoka, Harsha, periods of syncreticism and unique tolerance, where people of different faiths lived together peacefully and a composite culture flowered. To them, and to Gandhians, it also resides in the figure of Gandhi and the tradition of practical spirituality. To the fanatics of Islam, it is probably the age of Alauddin Khilji, the reign of Aurangzeb, and so on.

The never-ending debate about India’s pasts contains a diversity of opinions; however, on its future destiny, these begin to converge. The RSS and BJP believe, for example, that India is destined to become a great industrial power. So did Nehru, and assorted Indian Marxists. Indeed, it is an article of faith for the burgeoning middle-class (mostly, but not entirely Hindu) that India can, should and will equal China to become a great power, economic and military (thus leaving Japan and South Korea in the dust). Continue reading The Indian Illusion: Shashank Kela

Laxmanpur Bathe, Then and Now: Monobina Gupta

Guest post by MONOBINA GUPTA

I remember a chill running down my spine that early afternoon in 1998. I was standing at Laxmanpur Bathe – the site of a cold-blooded massacre a year ago. Then a reporter with The Telegraph, I was touring Bihar, reporting on the 1998 general elections, less than two years after the United Front government came to power. Bihar was then firmly under the thumb of the redoubtable Lalu Prasad. Tensions between the Maoist Coordination Committee (MCC) and the Ranvir Sena, a private army of upper caste landlords, were running high. Every reporter visiting the area had been advised by the district magistrates concerned not to travel after sundown. Newspapers in Delhi were full of stories about Bihar’s lawlessness, extortions and abductions even in broad daylight.

I had read details of that deadly night in the newspapers; and then of the sudden trips made by VIP cavalcades to the village in the aftermath of the bloodbath. The massacre had pitched the forgotten hamlet of Dalits into the glaring spotlight. Crowds of politicians and media descended on the spot, even as the grief stricken survivors were struggling with the shock of the attack and the terrible loss of their loved ones. Continue reading Laxmanpur Bathe, Then and Now: Monobina Gupta

Get Clicked With Dead Animals for Wards’ Scholarship, Dalits told

Image

The chief architect of Indian constitution Dr. B. R. Ambedkar had declared in 1948 ‘democracy in India is a top-dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic.’ How true this is, even after sixty years of Indian democracy! Why have all the legal provisions, and valiant struggles of dalits to emancipate themselves failed to annihilate Caste system? As the ruling elites of India celebrate their arrival on the world scene, these are the skeletons in the cupboards of their rule they are most ashamed to admit.  Continue reading Get Clicked With Dead Animals for Wards’ Scholarship, Dalits told

Ilavarasan: At a deadly new junction of caste and electoral politics: Rajan Kurai Krishnan

ilavarasan_divya-350_070513040519This is a guest post by RAJAN KURAI KRISHNAN

The gruesome death/alleged murder of Ilavarasan, a Dalit youth, at the outskirts of Dharmapurai on the afternoon of 4th July has come as a shock to all those who have heard of his case. Murders, ironically called honour killings, and socially abetted suicides as outcomes of inter-caste marriages are of course as common as catching cold in most parts of India. However, what has made Ilavarasan’s case something that could penetrate the armour of the middle class everyday plated with trained nonchalance to extract a possible expletive under their breath is the fact that his case has been in the limelight for more than eight months now.

It was a few weeks after his marriage with Divya, a girl belonging to the caste of Vanniars, a Most Backward Caste in the official description of Tamil Nadu Government,  in October 2012, Divya’s father was found dead allegedly having committed suicide due to the “dishonour” caused by his daughter’s marriage. Making the suicide an excuse, the Vanniyars organized riots in which three Dalit hamlets, about 250 houses, were destroyed. The scale of violent destruction caught the national attention and so did the love story behind the riots. The young couple earned a media profile while trying to live in peace beyond the reach of the raging Vanniyar caste men. It was fated that was not to be. The Vanniar caste leaders used Divya’s mother to temporarily separate Divya from Ilavarasan by using the well known tactics of emotional blackmail. They then broke the communication link between Ilavarasan and Divya. When Ilavarasan saw Divya in the court on the first of July, Divya told the court that she would live with Ilavarasan after convincing her mother. Divya’s lawyer, however, managed to make her tell the press that she is separated from Ilavarasan forever. Ilavarasan, on the other hand, told India Today, that he was highly hopeful of re-uniting with Divya. After two days, he was found dead near a railway track in broad daylight. Given this history, the news had some potential to shock people. Continue reading Ilavarasan: At a deadly new junction of caste and electoral politics: Rajan Kurai Krishnan