Personal is Intellectual

Zeeshan Husain

zeeshanAs a young student of social sciences, I heard the phrase "personal is political" from a teacher who dealt with gender issues. I could sense that it meant our personal lives are somewhat a microcosm of the political (and social) reality in which we live. We, as members of the society, practice those macro realities in our everyday interactions. In the context of the phrase that the larger reality was called 'patriarchy'. One can broadly define patriarchy as the supremacy of male over female. The supremacy is manifested in religion, caste, class, education, etc. There is one more thing that the phrase 'personal is political' has taught us. It has in some ways tried to push us to look within our own lives. It prompted us to ask ourselves- how much are we replicating those macro patriarchal structures in our micro lives. This short piece delves into this correlation between microscopic everyday practices and macroscopic social structures.

I see in various academic circles, a number of scholarly articles being written in online media, national dailies, etc. Academic 'rigour' is almost the monopoly of 'great' souls who are casteless and religion–less. We, as students of social sciences, share those articles over WhatsApp and Facebook and discuss them with our friends. In such instances, one sees a broader pattern, one that speaks of the academia of India at large. I see that many, if not most people writing such pieces are from privileged castes, class and even religion. Their words are flowery and quite radical. They seem to be quite revolutionary. But a little more careful observation leads to an almost opposite picture. I find that hidden behind these radical words are their status quoist faces. One gets astonished seeing how these thinkers can speak so eloquently and impress people of all social backgrounds. Yet, in their actions, they remain so conservative, communal and casteist, in one word Brahmanical. Their actions simply betray their words.

Academia is for careers and people are professional here. Our academia is almost like an agraharam. We rarely come across any teacher from Bahujan category. The majority are Brahmins and other savarna castes. They remain at a win-win situation. Some are Marxists, some are liberal, some post-structuralists, but all are Brahmanical. This is how Indian academia behaves. In words, one can defend Kashmir and North East and so on, but in actions, we listen to a well-planned inaction. No action is their strategy. Just nothing must be done for the benefit of the oppressed. Otherwise, Savarna careers would be at stake.

Should we not ask– their personal lives should also be counted as their intellectual lives? That such people are hypocrites at the end of the day, making a career out of social and political problems. One wonders why they do not want to let the subaltern speak. Basically, they hate when the subaltern speaks. I personally have seen (and faced) resistance by such academicians whenever a Muslim or a Dalit student enters their cabin for some academic help. I hope next time if someone writes any 'radical' essay, one would look back to see how much one has actually tried to solve it. Our personal lives should be taken into consideration to evaluate our intellectual lives. Else we will remain in academic temples serving Brahmanism till eternity. 

~~~

Zeeshan Husain is currently pursuing PhD from School of Social Sciences, JNU and his PhD theme is around Dalit movement in Uttar Pradesh.

Other Related Articles

Of Brahminism and Everyday Politics
Sunday, 14 January 2018
  Deepika Parya & Sahil Barhate The presence of caste discrimination in Indian Universities predates independence. The introduction of National Law Schools was necessitated by the dearth of... Read More...
Bloody untouchable: Stories of an assertive Ambedkarite Dalit - Part 2
Friday, 12 January 2018
  Sanjay Patil So long as you do not achieve social liberty, whatever freedom is provided by the law is of no avail to you.~ Dr. B. R. Ambedkar I was truly humbled by the response my last RTI... Read More...
The Double Dhamaka of being a Brahmin Revolutionary
Thursday, 11 January 2018
  Rajesh Rajamani Recently, when 'Kabali' director Pa Ranjith introduced 'The Casteless Collective', an initiative that attempts to politicize and mainstream 'Gaana' music (considered to be a... Read More...
Is Fascism knocking at the door?
Wednesday, 10 January 2018
  Dr. Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy Valedictory Speech delivered at Vidrohi Sahitya Sammelana held on 24-12-2017 in Shahada, Nandurbar district, Maharashtra Hon. President of the Sammelana, the... Read More...
As I witnessed Bhima-Koregoan
Sunday, 07 January 2018
  Sharda Navale The Vijay Sthamb (Victory Pillar) at Bhima Koregaon, is a symbol of pride and self-esteem for Bahujan Samaj. It’s the source of inspiration for many. To pay homage and respect... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

No Mr. Tharoor, I Don’t Want to Enter Your Kitchen
Saturday, 16 September 2017
Tejaswini Tabhane Shashi Tharoor is an author, politician and former international civil servant who is also a Member of Parliament representing the constituency of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. This... Read More...
Bahujans and Brahmins: Why their realities shall always collide, not converge
Wednesday, 16 August 2017
  Kuffir My grandfather,The starvation deathWhich occurred during the drought when men were sold;My father,The migrant lifeWhich left home in search of work to pay off debt;I, in ragged shirt... Read More...
The beautiful feeling of falling in love with a Bahujan Ambedkarite
Friday, 28 July 2017
  Priya This is not going to be a long write-up, the sole purpose of writing this is to share the beautiful revolutionary feeling that we derive when we have fallen in love or have driven... Read More...
Differentiating the Hindi subject: Bhojpuri experience
Sunday, 24 September 2017
  Asha Singh Questions of linguistic autonomy and annihilation of caste-gender oppressions are crucial for the struggles of an emerging Bahujan public sphere in Bhojpuri speaking regions. Ali... Read More...
Castes of Cricket in India
Saturday, 23 September 2017
  Rajesh Komath This short write-up is motivated by the recent discussions in social media on the demand for reservations in Indian cricket team, put forward by the Union Minister for Social... Read More...