Tag Archives: OBCs

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

PUCL Rajasthan condemns FIR against Ashis Nandy

This release was put out by the Rajasthan unit of the PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES on 26 January

PUCL condemns the FIR lodged under sec. 506 IPC, criminal intimidation and 3-1(10) of prevention of atrocities against SC,ST 1989 against Prof. Ashis Nandy for his statements in a discussion at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2013 and the protest demanding his arrest.

From the reports we have received, he was not exhorting hate and not being casteist and was only making an academic point which means that nobody is free from corruption.

Proceeding criminally against him and arresting him is restricting academic freedom and academic debate. Now that he has apologised and regretted  what he has said the matter should be closed.

Prem Krishan Sharma, President
Kavita Srivastav, General Secretary

See also: Most of the corrupt come from SC/ST, OBCs: Ashis Nandy
Below: Video report from CNN-IBN and ABP TV video of Nandy’s press conference Continue reading PUCL Rajasthan condemns FIR against Ashis Nandy

SS Stormtroopers attack OBCs celebrating Shiv Jayanti

(Apologies for posting a mere press release, but it’s something important and yet I don’t think it will be ‘interesting’ enough for the ‘national’ media to pick up. This is not to take sides at all, because there are no sides to take.)

RASHTRIYA SAMAJ PAKSH

PRESS RELEASE

Rashtriya Samaj Paksh, Shiv Jayanti meeting attacked by Shiv Sainiks in Mumbai

The Shiv Sena once again proves that it is a Brahmanical party by attacking OBC’s

Mumbai – February 23, 2009

A meeting that was organized by the activists of the Kurla unit of the Rashtriya Samaj Paksh (RSP) was attacked by Shiv Sainiks. The SS storm troopers, numbering 50, unleashed their fury on the meeting, shouting slogans, attacking the people and throwing chairs. The very fact that the Shiv Sainiks attacked Shiv Jayanti celebrations organized by the OBC (Other Backward Caste) activists, namely the Dhangar community (Shepherds) has once again exposed the Manuwadi – Brahmanical character of the Shiv Sena. Continue reading SS Stormtroopers attack OBCs celebrating Shiv Jayanti

Viva ‘Academic Untouchability’ !

Jantar Mantar, a unique historical place in the capital, which today acts as a ‘sanctioned abode of protest’ under a liberal bourgeois regime, witnessed a protest dharna in the first week of February. Looking at the participation level, one could easily say that, it was indistinguishable from similar protest actions held on the same date. But it is incontestable that the raison detre for the dharna carried very large import which pertained to the entitlements of dalits, tribals or OBCs in higher education. It brought forth the surreptitious manner in which the Congress led UPA government is pushing a bill which would do away with reservation at faculty level in institutions of ‘national importance’.

As expected for the media managers and the pen pushers (or byte takers) employed by them the whole protest action was a non event. Question is why the articulate sections of our society, which yearn for justice, peace and progress, has joined the conspiracy of silence about this particular issue.

The return of ‘academic untouchability’ with due sanction of the parliament and the further legitimisation it would provide to the ‘merit’ versus ‘quota’ debate need to be questioned and challenged uncompromisingly. Continue reading Viva ‘Academic Untouchability’ !

The New Footsoldiers

The Ideological and institutional Incorporation of Dalits  Into Hindutva maelstorm

There are many lower orders in the Hindu society whose economic, political and social needs are the same as those of majority of Muslims and they would be far more ready to make a common cause with the Muslims for achieving common ends than they would with the high caste hindus who have denied and deprived them of ordinary human rights for centuries.

Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar – Writings and Speeches Vol 8., P. 359

(“[U]ntouchability, is a kind of disease of the Hindus..it is a mental twist.. I do not know how my friend is going to untwist the twist which the Hindus have got for thousands of years unless they are all sent to some kind of hospital.’

Dr B.R.Ambedkar , 1954 , Quoted in Bhagwan Das, 95 :53).

Introduction

Dalits, or ex ‘untouchables’, comprising one-sixth of India’s population, a majority of whom still live at the bottom of the social hierarchy called caste system live a precarious existence. The plight of this section – which is routinely discriminated against and subjected to overt-covert violence of many forms – has of late been much discussed in the international fora as well. Continue reading The New Footsoldiers

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?

“There is no such thing as the caste system anymore”

In April last year, Avinash Dutt and I had interviewed the political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot. We walked around Lodhi Gardens, tape recorder in hand, and I ended up transcribing more than five thousand words that night. Tehelka had published a shorter, edited version. Here’s the full thing.

I was reminded of this interview after encountering the argument here that there should be, and is, a Dalit-Brahmin alliance against the already much-demonised OBCs. I thought that this way of seeing the BSP’s victory in the Uttar Pradesh elections was not only incorrect, but also seemed to be in need of the argument that Jaffrelot makes in this interview: that seeing caste as a ‘system’ is outmoded, at least as far as electoral politics is concerned.

1- Shivam: Which is more important for the average Indian, religion or caste?

It is sometimes not only those two but much more. Continue reading “There is no such thing as the caste system anymore”

Perils of Arbitrariness – MSS Pandian

The Central Educational Institution (Reservation and Admission) Act, 2006, which provides for 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in institutions of higher learning, is in a state of deep freeze. The Union Government’s desperate promises to expand the educational infrastructure in these institutions, to increase the number of seats so that the number of open quota seats will remain the same, and to address the issue of creamy layer, has failed to convince the Supreme Court. After a court battle of five long months, a Supreme Court Bench has finally refused to vacate the stay on the Act imposed in March 2007.
The Supreme Court’s objection to the Act is quite straightforward and seemingly reasonable. It posed to the Union Government, what is the basis on which the figure 27 per cent had been arrived at. The Union Government failed to come up with any credible answer and the Supreme Court, as one would expect, stuck to its position. In other words, Supreme Court wants no legislation to be arbitrary but be based on defendable rational basis.
Continue reading Perils of Arbitrariness – MSS Pandian

“One Day I Cursed That Mother-Fucker God”

Warriors of Truth and the Theatre of the Absurd

Shivam’s post actually gives me the opportunity to explicate certain things at greater length, especially in relation to Chandrabhan Prasad (CBP) but also, more generally, in relation to our relationship to the political in the contemporary. Shivam’s article from Himal Southasian, though it was written in a different context and with a very different intent – that of defending OBC reservations from the attacks by upper castes – opens out to my mind all the problems that I wish to underline. The fact that Shivam has posted this article in response to my comment and Ravikant’s earlier post, indicates that his argument there has a certain larger relevance to how we understand what CBP represents.

Let me at the outset however, clarify that my reading of Chandrabhan Prasad and his stances, especially his political mode and style, do not necessarily mean that I endorse his politics. In fact, let me confess, most of the time his politics makes me quite uncomfortable – even though I have on each occasion been persuaded enough to modify my own positions in trying to confront his. Moreover, there are still large areas of his politics that, I believe are based on a somewhat deliberately partial understanding of the situation. So for instance, his adulation of ‘American society’ or US corporations like Microsoft and IBM for taking the diversity issue seriously, is to say the least, naïve. It refuses to recognize that these were gains of hard won struggles against racism which are once again being seriously challenged. One only has to look at the recent agitation in Michigan University to be able to see that the so-called liberalism of white society is in a sense not very different from modern upper caste arrogance. Note also that the language espoused by both the white opponents of affirmative action in Michigan and the upper castes in India is that of equality: “affirmative action is anti-equality” is the common refrain.

Continue reading “One Day I Cursed That Mother-Fucker God”

Chandrabhan Prasad and the Other Backward Classes

Outlook

In light of the two posts that have appeared on this blog on the peculiar politics of Chandrabhan Prasad, I reproduce below an essay I wrote for Himal Southasian a few months ago, and which CBP refused to respond to. The question of Dalit-Bhaujan unity, which is one of the points in Aditya’s succinct post, is by no means a simple one, and I do realise that I left it open-ended in this essay. But my point was more about reservations for OBCs and CBP’s opposition of it, than Dalit-Bahujan politics. Given that the two are not unrelated, I have been thinking a lot on this – Gopal Guru and Bhalchandra Mungekar are two amongst many who say that the OBCs need aan Ambedkarite political movement. Kancha Iliah and VT Rajshekhar are amongst the OBC thinkers who agree. But I don’t see that political movement happening anytime soon. Such political stagnation is another aspect of demography-driven dalit politics. Continue reading Chandrabhan Prasad and the Other Backward Classes