The Spectre of Justice Karnan haunts the Indian Judiciary


Dharmaraj Kumar

dharma rajIndian judiciary system is said to be confronted with a crisis of judicial accountability following the alleged contemptuous act of Prashant Bhushan in the Supreme Court, that too in the face of Hon’ble Judge Dipak Misra, the Chief Justice of India.  

This incident is taken as a serious threat to the existence of judiciary as one of the founding pillars of democracy per se. But the truth is, a fair judicial system has been in the centre of all political systems.

Actually, while listening to the case of Venkateswara Medical College in a five-judge Constitutional bench, Dipak Misra, the Chief Justice of India, himself was allegedly pointed out as one of the parties by Prashant Bhushan, an internationally acclaimed lawyer of the Supreme Court of India and also the son of Shanti Bhushan, a former Cabinet Law Minister.

It is very interesting to know that this matter of Venkateshwar Medical College bribery case reached the Supreme Court exactly at the time when one of the parties is said to be involved in it.


Mahatma Phule's Thoughts on Caste-Patriarchy: A Critical Evaluation


Sachin Garud

prof sachin garudIt is a well-known fact that at the time of India's national movement, there was another movement known as the movement of social engineering or social revolution, led by Mahatma Phule, who had pioneered the foundation of a social revolution in India. Although contemporary thinkers like Ram Mohan Roy, Justice M.G. Ranade and G.G. Agarkar were quite active in social reforms at that time, Mahatma Phule was different from them as he was the first non-Brahmin social revolutionary in India.

Phule believed that radical ideology must be complemented by radical practices, which was in striking contrast to the upper caste elite thinkers and social reformers of his time. He criticized the literature of Vedas and Puranas and Hindu mythological stories woven around deities that facilitated special privileges to Brahmins in every sphere of life. Brahmins always had the upper hand and authoritative power of decision-making, particularly in religious affairs. The significance of his movement was that it not only aimed to eradicate caste-hierarchy from the society but also protested against gender inequity. He advocated the progress of backward caste communities while emphasizing the importance of imparting education to women in the family. In other words, he insisted on gender equality in the field of education, property, jobs, and of course, in the family.


Speech and the Speaker's Identity


Tejas Harad

tejas haradIn 2016, famous Indian author Chetan Bhagat published a novel called One Indian Girl. This book was criticised by some women because the book's narrator, who is also its protagonist, is a woman. Bhagat, even though a man, is within his rights to have a woman narrator in his novel. But it is unfair to say that he cannot be criticised for the same. It is one thing to not let someone publish a book or ask for its ban after publication, and another to criticise someone for writing a particular book. There is a reason why academic criticism from the angle of 'identity' (in this case gender) has increased over the decades.

Men wrote androcentric literature. Women were invisibilized and silenced. They were not allowed to write, their contributions were erased, and they were stereotyped and derided in literature. The contribution of Savitribai Phule is still not acknowledged outside Ambedkarite movement. When Tarabai Shinde's tract A Comparison between Women and Men was published in 1882, she faced immense backlash. George Eliot aka Mary Ann Evans had to write under a male pen name. Women still do not easily find a place in shortlists of book prizes. Therefore, if Chetan Bhagat, known for his sexism, is criticised for writing a book from a woman's point of view, it shouldn't come as a surprise.


Surveillance and Punishment in the Village: Reflections on Imayam’s Pethavan


Karthick RM

Karthick RM 1"Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power."
-Michel Foucault

"What is a village but a sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow-mindedness and communalism?"
-BR Ambedkar

From the time when reports of social media accounts being monitored by states emerged to the introduction of the Aadhaar card in India, there has been considerable debate on the intrusion of privacy of individuals by governments and corporates. Of course, it does seem paradoxical how several progressives were complaining about internet monitoring - on their Facebook and Twitter profiles. The more intellectual among them, especially those who have had an unhealthy dose of postmodern cynicism, blame it as an inevitable effect of modernity. Explicitly in some cases, implicitly in others, we can see nostalgia for the simple, harmonious, organic community of the village...

Romanticization of the village is not new in India. Several nationalist thinkers, ecologists, Marxists, and postcolonialists, to name a few, have contributed to the construction of the village as an ideal and idyllic society. Readers of Ambedkar would also be familiar with his rigorous critique of the idea of the village. I look at the village not just as a sink of localism, but also as an effective 'organic' mechanism of surveillance, as or more efficient than any modern system, reflecting on an important recent Tamil novella.


கந்து வட்டி தனித்து இயக்குகிறதா?


டி. அருள் எழிலன் (T Arul Ezhilan)


arul“உன் இனத்தவனிடமிருந்து வட்டி வாங்காதே. பணத்துக்காகவோ, தானியத்துக்காகவோ கடனாகக் கொடுத்த எந்த பொருளுக்காகவோ வட்டி வாங்காதே. வேற்று இனத்தவனிடமிருந்து நீ வட்டி வாங்கலாம். ஆனால், நீ உடைமையாக்கிக் கொள்ளப்போகும் நாட்டில், நீ மேற்கொள்ளும் செயல்களில் எல்லாம், உன் கடவுளாகிய ஆண்டவர் உனக்கு ஆசி வழங்கும் பொருட்டு உன் இனத்தானிடம் வட்டி வாங்காதே”

என்கிறது திருவிவிலியத்தின் பழைய ஏற்பாடு.


தனிச்சொத்து துவங்கிய காலம் தொட்டு வட்டிமுறையும் மக்களிடம் புழக்கத்தில் இருந்து வருவதை பைபிள், இதிகாசங்கள், மன்னர் வரலாறுகளின் மூலம் நாம் அறிந்து கொள்ள முடியும். சோழப்பேரரசு வட்டி விஷயத்திலும் வரி விஷயத்திலும் மிக மோசமாக நடந்து கொண்ட சான்றுகள் உண்டு. வரி கொடாத ஏழை விவசாயிகள் ‘சிவ துரோகிகள்” என பட்டம் சூட்டப்பட்டனர்.

“கடன்பட்டார் நெஞ்சம் போல கலங்கினான் இலங்கை வேந்தன்” என்பார் கம்பர். உக்கிரமான போர் சூழலில் ராவணனுடைய மன நிலையை விவரிக்க கம்பருக்கு வேறு வார்த்தைகள் இல்லை. காரணம் கடன் என்பது அக்காலத்திலேயே அத்தனை கொடிய வடிவங்களுள் ஒன்றாக இருந்திருக்கிறது.


Problematic Dalit Middle Class


Dr. Y. Srinivasa Rao

Dr. Y. Srinivasa RaoDalits in India are mostly poor. However, there is a sizable middle class and very few rich. Poor and rich categories are not the point of discussion here, and neither is the entire Dalit middle class. The focus here is on the 'Educated Dalit Middle Class', that has failed to become a Dalit middle class in the real sense. Like other communities, Dalit middle class in India emerged from various processes and is drawn from different religious communities and numerous sub-castes within the larger Scheduled Castes. Among all these processes, it is through education that a majority of the Dalit middle class emerges.

Education works for Dalits in two important ways. Firstly, it transforms them into a rational, progressive and humanistic category of human beings, and secondly, it also promotes Dalit consciousness. These two which reciprocate each other are naturally supposed to transform the educated Dalit middle class into a special category that distinguishes itself from the middle classes of the caste Hindus and other religious communities. The functions such a Dalit middle class can perform are enormous at various levels.


Ambedkar is as relevant for today's Pakistan as he is for India


Auwn Gurmani

auwn gurmaniRecently, a video was making the rounds, wherein a ponytailed man wearing glasses could be seen slapping a hapless man at the shrine of Bahaudin Zakariya. This man was Syed Mureed Hussain Shah, brother of Shah Mehmood Qureshi who is the vice chairman of Pakistan's Tehreek-e-insaaf (the major opposition party in the Parliament). Qureshi's family is the caretaker of the Bahaudin Zakariya shrine, however, Mureed Hussain Shah who doesn't belong to any party is often seen appearing in news and castigating his brother Shah Mehmood. The bone of contention between the two brothers is the fact that Shah Mehmood is the appointed caretaker of the Sufi shrine and working as a politician simultaneously. According to his brother not only has he besmirched the legacy of sufis but also that he has continuously been using the name of saints for votes.  

On the first day of urs of Bahaudin Zakariya, Mureed Hussain Shah, in an attempt to keep his brother away from the shrine and its administrative tasks, tried to perform rituals himself while as per the customs his brother, who is the appointed caretaker of the shrine, had to perform these duties. Upon one of the devotees refusing to offer the bathing ritual, Mureed Hussain Shah went berserk and started slapping the devotee who may not have belonged to an upper caste Syed family. It could be literally seen in the video that the devotee fell at his foot and asked for forgiveness.


I am reading silence...


P Victor Vijay Kumar

That was a silent breath of wind, passing both of us, at midnight under the big banyan tree in the exhausted, hustling bustling metro city of Delhi.


 "A Brahmin is like Plastic. We don't want him but many a time we need him. We know he contaminates everything but we still have few options but to use him. We can't even properly dispose of him after use. It takes thousands of years to decompose for a plastic object but a brahmin may take even more time," I said looking into the smoky circles around his cigarette.

He is sitting in his wheelchair with hurdled movements. One hand lies almost dormant throughout the day after it was damaged during his remand in the jail. His relief, for a moment in a day, is his cigarette. His smile with the cigarette entices almost all around him.


Et Tu ‘Feminists’?: A response to the Kafila signatories


Maitreyee Shukla & Asmita Kundu

When the #MeToo campaign started, we saw a floodgate being opened. Women tried hard to sum up their painful and often self-triggering experiences of sexual harassment within a hashtag as it garnered unconditional and explicit support from the stalwarts of feminism. Yet, to some of us, it felt unfair that even now it is but the women who are doing the labour of bringing sexual harassment to light as the discourse revolved around a woman's victimhood rather than a perpetrator's crime.

raya sarkar

Raya Sarkar

All the same, it was evident that women all across the world have come together to highlight the uncomfortable truth of how deeply pervasive sexual harassment is and how all of us are always vulnerable in a structure that constantly favours powerful men. But when C. Fair came up with her incredibly brave article of #HimToo, naming her assaulters and harassers, the movement finally seemed to point fingers directly at all the Weinsteins that she encountered in her life. Not surprisingly, Fair named a lot of academicians, including world-renowned Professor and historian, Dipesh Chakravarty.


Hindu festivals and Buddhist converts



इसको भरनेवाले जन को
सर्वस्व-समर्पण करना है।
अपना तन-मन-धन-जन-जीवन
माता को अर्पण करना है।

(Those who fill this form, shall renounce everything; surrender their body, heart, mind, and life to the motherland.)

पर यह साधारण पत्र नहीं,
आज़ादी का परवाना है।
इस पर तुमको अपने तन का
कुछ उज्जवल रक्त गिराना है!

(But understand, this is not an ordinary paper.
This is a warrant of freedom, on this letter you have to shed your own blood.)

वह आगे आए जिसके तन में
खून भारतीय बहता हो।

(Step forward, if the blood rushing through your veins is Indian).

These are the lines from Gopal Prasad Vyas' poem Khooni Hastakshar[1], dedicated to the Azad Hind Movement led by Netaji Subash Chandra Bose.


However, when I listen to this poem, I relate it to the 'Human emancipation movement' led by Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar in India. What was his last and most important move for the emancipation of millions of Dalits in India? It was the conversion to Buddhism from Hinduism. Was it only for the Dalits of Maharashtra? Definitely not! Though Babasaheb could physically give Deeksha of Buddhism only in Nagpur and Chandrapur (on 14th and 16th October 1956 respectively, to nearly 2 million Dalits), the plan was much bigger.


Present and Future of Dalit-Bahujans


Dr. Y. Srinivasa Rao

Dr. Y. Srinivasa RaoAt one time, practice was considered an application of theory, a consequence; at other times, it had an opposite sense and it was thought to inspire theory, to be indispensable for the creation of future theoretical forms. In any event, their relationship was understood in terms of a process of utilisation, says Gilles Deleuze, French philosopher. After the demise of Ambedkar, almost three generations of educated dalit-bahujans have shouldered the responsibility of educating the people on his ideas, organising, translating his ideas into action and agitating to translate his dreams into reality and to counter discrimination and violence.

These three concepts, no doubt provide the ground for the continuation of his ideology. All these three processes are supposed to go hand in hand to translate theory into practice and theorise the practice. Theory and practice reciprocate each other and in this process of reciprocation, the existing theory, when it gets translated into practice, faces new challenges in the form of unsuitability or newer understanding, rereading and interpretation. But it does not lose its basic premise. In fact, such a rereading and reinterpretation would become necessary as it is needed by the community and to counter anti-bahujan ideologies.


Social Smuggling: Prof. Kancha IIaiah Shepherd's mirror to society


Raju Chalwadi

raju chalwadi 1Prof. Kancha IIaiah Shepherd is a renowned political scientist and an anti-caste activist. He is one of the fiercest critics of the Hindu social order and caste system in present times. He stands apart from his contemporaries in two respects: first, unlike other well-known critics of Castes and the Hindu social order, he is an intellectual-cum-activist who does not believe in sitting within the four walls of his office. Second, and most importantly, he hardly writes for literary purpose alone. His writings always reflect his urgent political ambition of uniting those who he calls 'Dalit-Bahujan', and ending the hegemony of upper-castes in the 'spheres of production.'

Recently, a chapter from his book Post-Hindu India got translated into Telugu, with the title 'Samajika Smugglurlu Komatollu' (Komatis, social smugglers). Since then, he has come under intense criticism in the two Telugu-speaking states. He received numerous death threats, and narrowly escaped a death traprecently.

 Two main reasons have been given for the criticism and attacks on Prof. Ilaiah. One was that he was showing the Vaishya/Baniya community in a bad light, and the other was the use of the term 'Social Smugglers.'


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