The roots of rape in India

 

Kancha Ilaiah

kancha ilaiahRape has, of late, become an acute disease in the Indian society. Prima facie, this is a problem arising out of a mental disorder, but there is also a larger cultural context that, to an extent, explains how the Indian male became so brutal.

Our cultural upbringing conditions male minds to behave in a cruel fashion with women. Family upbringing, societal conditioning, religious sagas and political animus, all construct our men and women into being what they are — men as aggressive and women as submissive. Which is why men here, in India, are different from men in other countries.

Their cultural milieu is different. Their spiritual systems train them differently. It's not that only Indian men rape and kill children aged three or five. This happens in other countries too, but they are the rarest of rare cases. Daily reports of infants being raped across the length and breadth of a country is a phenomenon unique to India, a society that's otherwise highly conservative. Clearly, the institutional upbringing, including that in family, needs to undergo change.

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This Diwali, think why we celebrate death

 

Kancha Ilaiah

kancha ilaiahThere are two prominent stories around the celebration of Diwali. One, this is the day on which Ram returned to Ayodhya and coronated himself as king after killing Ravan. It is also the day when Krishna and his wife Satyabhama killed Narakasur, known as the evil rakshasa. It's the death of the enemy that is celebrated.

Perceptions differ from north and south India about Ram killing Ravan and Krishna killing Narakasur. Diwali day just does not remain a day of lighting lamps, wearing new clothes, worshipping whom one considers god, but also burning massive amount of crackers that pollute the atmosphere so much so that even the health of the forces that keep celebrating would also get damaged. The emissions in urban areas on that day rise to the level of choking people. And several people, especially children, die because of fires and pollution.

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In capitalism, you can buy a Merc and hire a Brahmin driver

 

Arati R Jerath

The launch of the first Dalit venture capital fund was a red-letter day for Dalit entrepreneurs. But can the rise of a handful of Dalit billionaires empower a historically oppressed and exploited community? Dalit intellectual and writer Chandra Bhan Prasad believes it can. Defending the market as a liberating force, he tells Arati R Jerath that despite its drawbacks, capitalism, not quotas, is the way to go.

Black capitalism in the US is the inspiration for Dalit capitalism. But statistics show that African-Americans continue to languish behind on all socio-economic indicators. So how will Dalit capitalism benefit Dalits?

Black capitalism has brought visibility with recognition to the Blacks. If you compare their situation today with their immediate past, there is a landmark change. In absolute terms of course they remain unequal to the Whites. In India, capitalism is emancipatory because in capitalism, nothing is fixed by birth. The only permanent thing is competition and a Dalit has the opportunity to move ahead through competition. In the caste order, you cannot buy Brahmin status. In capitalism, you can buy a Mercedes and hire a Brahmin driver. That's the difference capitalism is making.

But you will agree that capitalism introduces a different set of inequities. And Dalits are the worst sufferers because they are still at the bottom of the ladder.

Capitalism may have class-based problems but these are radically different from caste-based problems. A caste-based system is a system of humiliation. In capitalism, there is poverty of course but that is universal to everyone regardless of his birth. Anyone who is lazy, who doesn't want to compete, will face the problem of poverty but minus the humiliation.

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Interview with Gowthama Sannah, Propaganda Secretary of the VCK (Part 3)

 

This is the third and final part of the interview with Gowthama Sannah, Propaganda Secretary of the VCK - Chennai, 26th September 2012

(Please read the second part here and the first part here)

[This interview was first published in Vol 2, No 1 (2013) issue of 'The South Asianist']

Hugo Gorringe: Where was this?

Gowthama Sannah: In a village near Dindugal. There are such problems in many places, but it is only when we become aware of these issues that everyone realises that the problems exist. There are so many villages which have not come to public attention, what can we say about them? Now we in the VCK need to tackle court cases, protest, lead struggles, stand against caste- Hindus, stand against exploiters, stand against the police, address the concerns and doubts of party comrades, address the concerns of non-Dalits in the party – it is within this multitude of concerns that we have to address any problem. We cannot directly confront any problem, but have to be mindful of all these in finding a solution. In some areas we get an immediate resolution in others – like in Munjanoor (Namakal District) – it took 20 years to get a solution. In those 20 years what will the people have said? They will have said: 'this lot come and go, and come and go', that is what they will have said. Today we were successful on the back of continued protests – this was not a one-off demonstration or a problem that arose the other day. Caste is an issue that has been ongoing for thousands of years and you cannot resolve that in two or three days. It takes years of sustained protests. If the VCK back off from such protests then you can condemn us. If they accuse us of selling out even when protests are ongoing then it is our job to help them understand the ground realities.

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Interview with Gowthama Sannah, Propaganda Secretary of the VCK (Part 2)

 

This is the second part of the interview with Gowthama Sannah, Propaganda Secretary of the VCK - Chennai, 26th September 2012 (Please read the first part here)

[This interview was first published in Vol 2, No 1 (2013) issue of 'The South Asianist']

Hugo Gorringe: Just a quick question. Is it right that parties like the RPI never contested on their own symbols but on those of their allies like the DMK or ADMK?

Gowthama Sannah: Yes, in the early stages (in 1952 and 1957 elections) the Republican Party did stand independently on the Elephant symbol, and on same elections period stood in Assembly election with the Commonweal Party on another symbol – the rising sun- which the DMK later inherited. After that as Dalit parties were unable to muster a large enough vote bank to stand alone they were not able to contest on their own symbols. Since their opportunities were so limited – 1 or 2 seats – if they stood with the ADMK they campaigned on the twoleaves, if they stood with the DMK they adopted the rising sun; this is how their movements were suppressed.

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Interview with Gowthama Sannah, Propaganda Secretary of the VCK

 

Interview with Gowthama Sannah, Propaganda Secretary of the VCK - Chennai, 26th September 2012

[This is the first part of the interview first published in Vol 2, No 1 (2013) issue of 'The South Asianist']

Hugo Gorringe

The compromised and 'failing' position of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Republican Party of India, led one eminent commentator to urge Dalit activists and scholars to "look south because Tamil Nadu may offer some important lessons" for Dalit politics (Omvedt 2003: xvii-xviii). Tamil Nadu is indeed an interesting case study because it is one of the more developed states within India and has a long history of anti-caste politics and legislation. Despite this, it remains one of the more caste-divided regions as well.

Autonomous mobilisation by Dalit groups coincided with an increase in casteist violence designed to keep the Dalits in a subordinate position (Gorringe 2006). It is only in the past decade, therefore, that Dalit parties have achieved sufficient credibility to forge alliances with established parties (Wyatt 2009). No Dalit party has been able to emulate the success of the BSP in electoral terms, but the political context here is very different (Omvedt 2003). The primary aim of Dalit parties in Tamil Nadu, rather, has been to strip 'Dalit voters away from Dravidian parties' (Roberts 2010: 18). Omvedt's opinion comes in a book of speeches by the Tamil Dalit leader Thirumavalavan and she argues that the passion and vibrancy that characterised initial BSP mobilisation are captured in the fiery speeches and grass-roots mobilisation of Thirumavalavan and the Viduthalai Ciruthaigal Katchi (VCK – Liberation Panther Party) – the largest Dalit movement in Tamil Nadu. Roberts (2010) concurs with Omvedt's assessment and argues that the Tamil Dalit movement has a wider social and political significance that extends beyond the state.

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