To Gain a View of the Elephant – India, History, Modernity, and Marx : Ravi Sinha

Guest Post by Ravi Sinha

(Marx Bicentennial lecture – Acharya Nagarjuna University, Guntur, March 16, 2018)

etaddhastidarshana iva jatyandhah

That is like people blind by birth viewing an elephant.

  • (Shankaracharya’s bhasya on Chandogya-Upanisad 18.1)[1]


It was six blind men of Indostan,

To learning much inclined,

Who went to see the Elephant

(Though all of them were blind),

That each by observation

Might satisfy his mind.

  • John Godfrey Saxe[2]

The ancient Indian parable of blind men and the elephant, popularized in modern times by John Godfrey Saxe’s nineteenth century poem, has often been deployed in philosophical discourses about the nature of reality and its relationship to sense perception. It has served as a useful metaphor in many an argument about empiricist epistemology, moral relativism, cultural plurality, even religious tolerance. No such usage is intended here. My purpose in starting out with the parable is mostly methodological – how does one put together a vision of the beast based on necessarily partial observations of it. Continue reading “To Gain a View of the Elephant – India, History, Modernity, and Marx : Ravi Sinha”

Defend Constitutional Values, Save Hinduism from Hindtuva: For Civil Servants and Armed Forces Veterans

On 30 January 2018, retired civil servants and veterans of the armed forces jointly organised a conclave on ‘Hinduism and Hindutva’ at the Indian Social Institute, New Delhi. The conclave attended by over hundred participants, emphasized the need to rescue both Hinduism and the Indian Constitution from the clutches of the political project that calls itself Hindutva, and which has nothing to do with religion as such. The participants at the conclave sought to make a plea for saving Hinduism without making any concessions to the monstrosity of caste oppression, which in the spirit of many earlier reformers, they rejected.

This conclave followed an earlier one on ‘A Fractured Polity: The
Relevance of Gandhi Today’ organised on 10 October 2017, which had been
addressed by Justice A P Shah, Mrinal Pande and Ramachandra Guha. The
speeches are available on YouTube (Justice A.P. Shah, Mrinal Pande,
Ramachandra Guha). These civil servants and veterans have also raised severe
concerns about the present situation in a series of open letters over the last few
months: on vigilantism and hyper-nationalism; the suspicious death of Justice
Loya; and violence and discrimination against minorities in India. (See: Retired
Civil Servants open letter – 10 June 2017, Armed Forces Veterans open letter –
30 July 2017, Retired Civil Servants Letter 02 December 2017 – Enquiry into
Judge Loya’s death, Armed Forces Veterans letter to Supreme Court & Bombay
High Court on Judge Loya’s death, Retired Civil Servants open letter – 28 January
Continue reading “Defend Constitutional Values, Save Hinduism from Hindtuva: For Civil Servants and Armed Forces Veterans”

Statement about the attacks on Dalits in Bhima Koregaon & the Subsequent developments in Maharashtra : Umar Khalid

Guest Post by Umar Khalid

I went to Maharashtra as I along with other activists and intellectuals were invited to come there. I along with others was a guest there. And I would remember fondly the love and support that I received in Pune and Mumbai. I would remember the resilience and enthusiasm of the people I met and their resoluteness to fight Manuvaad and centuries old casteist tyranny. I would remember the immense inspiration that I felt, when we paid homage to Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule in Phule-wada, Pune. And, No I will not let two days of media trials by a few TV anchors, who are more of professional howlers, spoil these wonderful memories. I will not let their criminal cacophony and mindless vilification of me, Jignesh & others shadow my beautiful memories of Maharashtra.

The state of Maharashtra as well as the rest of the country is at a critical juncture today. On the one hand are forces in power who want to push our country back to many centuries and on the other are people who are resisting this Neo-Peshwahi, the casteist-communal-fascist regime of BJP-RSS. In my speech at Elgar Parishaad on 31st December 2017, I had said that the year 2018 is going to be a very challenging one. The last 3 and half years of the Modi Sarkar has exposed the BJP’s jumlas of Ache Din and Vikas as hollow, bitter and brutal lies.

As the General Elections of 2019 approach, BJP/RSS will now resort to creating civil strife amongst the people, polarising them on the basis of caste and religion and unleashing attacks on muslims and Dalits. The developments over the last few days vindicate me, a little too soon. Several regions of Maharashtra are in the midst of an acute agrarian distress. Both Marathas and Dalits are victims of this agrarian crisis that has been precipitated by the policies of both Modi and Fadnavis. The BJP/RSS regime has no resolution to offer to the farmers of Maharashtra. Therefore, unleashing attacks on Dalits through their hoodlums and portraying it as a caste clash between Dalits & Marathas will remain their only strategy. Continue reading “Statement about the attacks on Dalits in Bhima Koregaon & the Subsequent developments in Maharashtra : Umar Khalid”

Taj Mahal as Tej Mahal – Once again “There is a Bee in the Bonnet”

It was probably late sixties or early seventies – when a gentleman called P N Oak started appearing in Marathi magazines peddling his weird theories about well known monuments in and outside India. An article which made lot of news then was centred around Taj Mahal where it was claimed that it was ‘Tejo Maha Aalay’ or hindu god Shiva’s abode. It tried to establish through various ‘explanations’ that a Shiva Temple was destroyed to build Taj Mahal and if we dig deep we can find ‘remnants’ of the earlier structure. Mr Vinay Katiyar’s latest advice to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath that he “should go into the Taj Mahal and see the Hindu signs inside it” reminded one of P N Oak. Continue reading “Taj Mahal as Tej Mahal – Once again “There is a Bee in the Bonnet””

Sad at Killing of My Ambedkarite Elder Sister Gauri Lankesh, says Chandrashekhar of Bhim Army, as Govt Moves to Slap NSA on BA Activists

This is an amazing moment. From what we at the Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army have gathered, and from Chandrashekhar’s own letter from Saharanpur District Jail (see below), the administration is moving to slap charges under the National Security Act on Chandrashekhar and other activists. However, while expressing his resolve to fight on, Chandrashekhar also makes it clear in this letter (the facsimile and the text below) that he is equally concerned and saddened at the killing of Gauri Lankesh. He refers to her as his ‘Ambedkarite elder sister’ and pledges to carry forward the struggle to get her justice as well. This is how different dots in the struggle get connected. This is how new nodes of thinking and doing politics emerge. Right now, for us however, the struggle, for the legal defense of Chandrashekhar and other Bhim Army activists is paramount. They want to crush the movement in its infancy and we must ensure it can grow and carry on its struggle for liberation from the yoke of Hinduism and Hindutva.
It is worth placing on record here that when the formation of the Committtee for the Defense of Bhim Army was announced, Gauri had got it touch and expressed her wish to be on the Committee. Unfortunately, that was not to be. But we are sure that this is perhaps the best tribute we can offer to Gauri – carry on the fight for the defense of Bhim Army!
Chandrashekhar’s letter from jail
सभी साथियों व माताओं बहनों को जय भीम जय भारत, जय भीम आर्मी,
 एक आवश्यक बात आप सब से शेयर करनी है उत्तर प्रदेश के सहारनपुर जिले की जेल इस समय मेरा घर है. एक सूचना आई थी की काले अंग्रेजों की तानाशाह सरकार और उनके हाथ की कठपुतली बना जिला प्रशासन यह चाहता है कि मैं अपनी जमानत अर्जी ना डालू अगर मैं जमानत की अर्जी डलवाता हूं तो वो मेरे ऊपर रासुका लगा देंगे.
पहली बात तो मैं यह स्पष्ट कर दूं कि यह देश हमारा है इस देश के 85 % दलित पिछड़े मुस्लिम वह अल्पसंख्या लोग अपने ही देश में गुलाम अब नहीं रहेंगे हम इस देश के Rakshak भी है और शासक भी है 85 % लोग यहां के मूल निवासी है और दलितों का रक्षक दल चमार जाति की चमार रेजिमेंट इनका उदाहरण है हमने इस देश के लिए बलिदान दिया है काले अंग्रेज जो दलित विदेशी होने का दावा करते हैं वह भीम आर्मी के प्रभाव से डरकर मुझ पर रासुका लगाकर मुझे डराना चाहते हैं तो मैं उन्हें यह कहना चाहता हूं कि रासुका ही नहीं वह चाहे तो मुझे फांसी लगा दे तो भी वह मुझे झुका नहीं सकते.
मैं एक बार नहीं एक हजार बार भी अपनी कौम के लिए हंसते हंसते फांसी चढ़ना पसन्द करुगा और मान-सम्मान वे इस देश में अधिकारों की जो लड़ाई है उसे पीछे नहीं हटूंगा. आजाद न तो कभी झुका है और ना कभी झुक  कर कोई समझौता करेगा मुझे गर्व है कि मैं चमार जाति में पैदा हुआ जब तक लहू का आखरी करता रहेगा अपने लोगों की सुरक्षा अधिकार वह मान सम्मान के लिए संघर्ष जारी रहेगा ।।
अंबेडकरवादी बड़ी  बहन गौरी लंकेश की हत्या से दुखी हूं पर इनके जज्बे को सलाम उनकी शहादत बेकार नहीं जाएगी हम सब उनको न्याय दिलाकर रहेंगे वो कभी झुकी नहीं इसलिए बड़ी खुशी से आपको यह कहना चाहता हूं कि अगर कल मैं ना भी रहूं तो पीछे न हटना संघर्ष करना आपके संघर्ष से हमारे आने वाली पीढ़ियां इस देश की शासक होगी बाबा साहब ने कहा जीवन लंबा नहीं महान होना चाहिए गुलामी और सम्मान का एक दिन बड़ा होता है उन हजारों साल से ना झुका हु  ना झुका गा ना रुका हु ना रुकू गा और ना बिका हु ना बिकुगा आजाद जिया था आजाद मरूँगा  जय भीम नीला सलाम जय साहब कांशीराम ।
       आपका भाई बेटा दोस्त
*(एडवोकेट चंद्रशेखर आजाद रावण संस्थापक भीम आर्मी भारत मिशन)*

When Charlatans Become Ideologues – The Real ‘Prisoners of the Binary’

Present day Hindus are probably the strongest opponents of Marxism. They are horrified at its doctrine of class-struggle. But they forget that India has been not merely the land of class struggle but she has been the land of class wars. – B. R. Ambedkar, Philosophy of Hinduism.

I often find myself in a bind over whether or not to respond to supposed RSS ideologues, given that they simply trade in lies and hatred with the supreme arrogance of ignorance. One such is the upcoming star on the RSS horizon, a gentleman called Rakesh Sinha, who like the rest of his pack (led by the supreme leader) is currently engaged in a cheap attack on the outgoing Vice-President, Hamid Ansari. His piece in the Indian Express today (linked above) is an  instance of a combination of all these things. So, why should one bother about such a character? Why take him and his discourse seriously? Well, someone had better respond because, because, for one thing they are in power, and are going to teach generations of students that valorous ‘Hindus’ like Maharana Pratap won all the wars, though by some magic, ‘Muslims’ continued to rule for about 8 centuries! For another, there are enough gullible types who really think these people ‘have a point of view’, which should be debated.

As we have repeatedly seen, their ‘having a point of view’ has nothing to do with debate. It is to be enforced by gangs of gorakshaks, anti-romeo squads, hoodlums deciding what will or will not be taught in universities and schools, what will be written, how people should dress and love – and when nothing works, ‘win’ a ‘debate’ like Arun Jaitley claimed they did, by simply arresting the opponents and slapping sedition charges on them. Given this, I do not really address, in person, the ideologue, Rakesh Sinha, who has now made it a fine art to pick up some phrases from the toolkit of what is understood as ‘postmodernism’ by many. Wasn’t it postmodernism, one can  hear them say, that said all viewpoints are equally valid and ‘everything goes’? Wasn’t it postmodernism that challenged the hegemony of Western thought, its logocentrism, its Rationalism (with a capital R) from within that very tradition? Wasn’t it postmodernism again, that by decentering West’s logocentrism, actually gave these RSS-type creatures the gumption to claim that their utterly unsubstantiated viewpoint about the past too was as valid as that of historians who struggled with evidence, painstakingly putting together texts, artefacts and procedures of dating in order to produce a plausible account of the past?

Continue reading “When Charlatans Become Ideologues – The Real ‘Prisoners of the Binary’”

Have Indian Muslims become the new ‘Make in India’ Punching Bag? Sabiha Farhat

Guest Post by Sabiha Farhat

[ A month ago from yesterday, a teenager called Junaid was lynched and murdered on a train in Haryana. Sabiha Farhat writes in the wake of visiting his house and meeting his family. The news cycles may have moved on to other stories, but we need to keep remembering Junaid, and why he was killed. – Kafila]

Once upon a time there  was a 15 year old boy called Hamid, who went shopping on the day of Eid with his Eidi .  A few days ago there was Junaid who went shopping on the eve of Eid.  Premchand’s Hamid was an orphan and lived with his grandmother in extreme poverty.  Junaid lived surrounded with love of his brothers, a sister, a doting mother, father and friends. Instead of the old, decrepit house of Hamid,  Junaid’s house has two rooms, it is not falling apart but it’s size and unplastered walls, do speak about the economic condition of his family.

As we approached Khandawli, Junaid’s village in Ballabhgarh a fear gripped me.  I did not have the courage to walk upto the house.  Junaid was brutally murdered on 22nd and here I was on 25th.  It was too soon, my mind said.  I should have let Eid pass.  But how could I have prepared Sewai in my house when a mother like myself had lost a young, healthy, happy child to hindutva fanatics?  I am a mother, I was angry and ashamed at home. And here, standing outside Junaid’s door, I was weak and helpless. Useless too.

Continue reading “Have Indian Muslims become the new ‘Make in India’ Punching Bag? Sabiha Farhat”