The recent “Toppers” scam in Bihar has served as a breeding ground to denigrate Biharis for their alleged corruption and backwardness. This is not the first time that Bihari bashing has surfaced as a favourite pastime of the self-indulgent elites of India. In fact, it is a continuous process with its periodic shifts. Ironically, the people who abuse people for the belief that India has gone intolerant and the people who denigrate Bihar constitute largely the same set of people reflecting the illusory, self-satisfying belief of Indian superiority and the unsuitability, other-worldliness of Bihar to suit that image of India.
Most of the trending stereotypes about Bihar, thanks to social media, seek to gain its legitimacy under the cloak of backwardness in Bihar. What is missing in the entire brouhaha and the mockery of Biharis is an attempt to delve into the processes that operate beneath the backward nature of Bihar.
One of the stark reasons, which the article would focus upon, for the alleged backwardness is that Biharis have failed to forge a concrete sub-national identity which can infuse a sense of provincial ownership over the region. It is no surprise then that elites of Bihar often hate to be termed as Biharis and, in fact, actively take part in Bihar bashing. They even go to the extent of denying their roots and to vindicate that they come up with different kind of explanations and excuses to distance themselves from the ignominy of being a Bihari. They cower down to the societal pressures of conformity so that they can live a relatively comfortable though pride-less personal life. They use English or for that matter, Hindi – both hegemonic languages – to show their progressive nature. It is an index of the lack of sub-national identity that neither of the official languages of the state, Hindi or Urdu, is the mother-tongue of a single major population group. This is despite the fact that there were languages like Maithili, which had their own literary heritage – and this leads to isolation and disillusionment to the people who do not share the language of Hindi. Continue reading Bihari Bashing and ‘Backwardness’ – A Case for Bihari Sub-Nationalism: Mayank Labh→
I will start this piece with a painful but short flashback tirade about myself. I moved back to New Delhi in 2014, after six long years in New York and Singapore. My decision to move back to the motherland was predominantly attributed to issues that a twenty-something grapples with when he or she is away from home and family. However, familial ties and emotional reasons aside, there was one factor which deeply resonated with me and was the driving force behind my decision to move back. This factor was – the liberty to express my thoughts and views on a topic, any topic, in an indulgent and lenient space, which, by virtue of being an Indian citizen, was guaranteed to me in India and not in other places. In India, this liberty transcended predictable spaces like classrooms, newsrooms and sophisticated editorial pages of the morning newspaper and was very organically present in the form of arm-chair political banter amongst friends and political conversations with family over dinner. Continue reading The India I Came Back To: Namrata Sharma→
Did you know that the return of awards by writers, film-makers and scientists was a plot hatched jointly by the United States of America, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan? Well, if you did not, you will probably not ever understand why the ‘tolerant’ multitude that turned out at Anupam Kher’s March for India rally today, could so vilely abuse and attack NDTV’s Bhairavi Singh and Aaj Tak’s Mousmi Singh. After all, it is one thing for the netas to simulate their anger and laughter on TV channels and elsewhere, but how do you actually get ordinary people to go crazy? How and why does the ordinary Hindutva footsoldier act the way he or she does? Basically, he (and occasionally, she) is made to believe things that most people would know to be false. So why does as innocuous an act as the returning of awards by writers become such a big threat to India’s position in the world and to the very existence of the government of the day? Well, because, it is not a simple matter of some writers acting out of their conscience but already a part of an international conspiracy plotted by the US-Saudi Arabia-Pakistan nexus!
Published below is the text of a note that has been circulating over different social media platforms. We have left the typographical and printing errors as they are in the original. Paranoid in its content, it is also illustrative of the way the RSS ‘rumour-machine’ works to produce lies. In earlier days, it used to start circulating from the morning shakhas via the shakha participants. Nowadays it moves from one social media platform to another, with lightning speed. Continue reading How the Hindutva Propaganda Machine Manufactures Lies→
We’re not a civilisation. We’re a horde. And baying for blood is the new flavour of the season.
Let us have a few more executions while we’re at it. Why stop the fun now? Let us distribute sweets and dance on the streets. Why hide these killings inside jails? Let’s bring them out into the open, so the whole populace can rejoice and the collective conscience of the people can be appeased.
If there’s not enough terrorists, there are rapists. There are enough people to round up and hang. As with the six who raped and murdered a girl on a bus in Delhi, our collective cry must be, ‘kill them all!’ There are clear villains in each piece, and we are the pure ones who are always getting outraged. Continue reading We, the Barbarians: Vipul Rikhi→