Differentiating the Hindi subject: Bhojpuri experience


Asha Singh

asha singh 1Questions 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 Anwar, the Pasmanda Muslim Parliamentarian from the Bhojpuri region has often been in the forefront of asserting Bhojpuri autonomy in the Parliament.

Within the Bhojpuri public sphere, Hindi is conceived either as a ‘colonizer’ or as a ‘nationalist’. These conceptions are often informed by the caste location and ideology of the conceiver. K.D. Upadhyaya, one of the foremost Bhojpuri socio-linguist, framed Bhojpuri as a language which would only strengthen the National Hindi. On the other hand, Bhojpuri has been also conceptualized as a language displaced by Hindi colonization. The latter view is gaining ground and strength. In this context, the Dravidian Movement does provide a historical and strategic text to further elaborate this position.

In such an exercise, it would become important to historically trace how Hindi was utilized by the native colonial elite in the so-called ‘Hindi’ heartland. The Vernacular Education Commissions of the late 19th century provides evidence of how the Brahmanical elite of Bihar (part of Bengal presidency) perceived Bhojpuri. George Grierson deposed that the upper castes of the region perceived Bhojpuri as a language of the ‘Doms and Dusadhs’ (lowered-castes) and thus incapable of greatness. On the other hand, Grierson held Bhojpuri and other Bihari languages as the gateway to the East and even categorized them separately. He even proposed the possibility of a common grammar for these languages.


Castes of Cricket in India


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 Justice Shri. Ramdas Athawale. The Minister's thrust of the demand was that the national cricket body BCCI should provide reservations to SC and ST sportspersons to provide equal opportunity in the international sport. He argued that "perhaps reservation to SC, ST persons in the team would have ensured better performance". As the minister for social justice, he also affirmed that his party would vote for a move to implement reservation in cricket for SCs and STs, if the Central government comes with a similar bill in the Parliament.

baloo palwankar

Baloo Palwankar

On July 2nd, a few newspapers and online magazines carried the news both positively and negatively. The positive headlines carried were 'Ramdas Athawale calls for reservations for SC, ST in Indian cricket team' (Hindustan Times, July 1, 2017) 'Ramdas Athawale demands reservations for SCs, STs in Indian cricket team' (The New Indian Express, July 2, 2017). However, 'Union Minister Ramdas Athawale Now Wants Reservations For SC, ST in Team India! What On Earth Is He Thinking?' (Indiatimes, July 2, 2017, Sports) connotes the negative attitude of the media. The emphasis on 'now wants' might be due to the Minister's earlier demand for separate Vidarbha state.


Why did Dalit become the mascot for the caste system?


Gaurav Somwanshi


 This piece is in continuation with its previous part, the fourth question in a series of seven, but it can be read independently too. This is going to be the longest question to attempt an answer.  

4. You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger.” ~ James Baldwin1

Before we take up the question, let us look at how one engages with one’s own identity of belonging to an oppressed background, and though I speak from a personal angle I hope it will be relatable. My own assertion of who I am, and also a rejection of who I am not, takes place in response to the strains of casteism around me. Let’s look at two such strains.

In the first case, there will be a constant onslaught by the caste society of who they think I am, like an “SC with no merit”, and this is most readily relatable when your surrounding society is orthodox upper-caste. In such instances, rejection of what they say I am is my assertion. In the second case, the situation isn’t so different when your surrounding is liberal upper-caste. In this second strain of casteism, as I became more vocal on caste, there was a constant downpouring of “we’re all humans”, and an acknowledgment of my social location will be denied. Past is past, they’ll tell me. This happens because a major part of the Brahminical ploy has been to erase the history while keeping everything else intact, and as Kuffir wrote, Indian history is such a colossal crime because by depriving the Dalit-Bahujans of any past, it steals their future too. So, quite often, we find ourselves alienated in our own country, as Babasaheb spoke to Gandhi, Gandhiji, I have no homeland2. And not knowing how much we have been and still are been wronged and robbed off, we tend to locate any problem or incapacity within ourselves, in our abilities, in our own capacity to be humans. In such instances, the assertion of one’s social location is paramount to rejecting the caste-society’s erasure of you.


Bahujan students' language and education


Tejas Harad

tejas haradWe don't have to take special efforts to learn the language that's spoken in our homes. Going to a school is not a precondition for a person to learn to speak and understand a particular language. But if one wishes to learn reading and writing, there is no option but to go to school. Our school system lays a stress on reading and writing. A student's evaluation depends on a great deal on how well that student can read and write. Because if one wants to score good marks, a student has to read textbooks and write well in the examination. Therefore language becomes a crucial factor in education.

My mother tongue is Marathi and I also studied in Marathi medium school till 10th standard. But the Marathi I spoke at home, and the Marathi of the textbooks were not the same. Our dialect does not have the letter ळ (ḷa). In our dialect the word Kamaḷa (कमळ) is spoken as Kamala (कमल), Śhāḷā (शाळा) as śhālā (शाला) and bāḷa (बाळ) as bālā (बाला). The letter ṇa (ण) also doesn't exist in our dialect. Therefore, phaṇasa (फणस) becomes phanasa (फनस) and bāṇa (बाण) becomes bāna (बान). I learned to pronounce the letter ळ by third–fourth standard. But by the time I learned to make the distinction between न (na) and ण, I was already in 9th standard. Some of my classmates never learned these extra letters. They probably did not even feel the need to. As with letters, it's the same with some words. In my dialect lagna (लग्न) is lagīna (लगीन), rakta (रक्त) is ragata (रगत) and vihīra (विहीर) is ira (इर). Since the local dialect didn't exactly match the textbook language, students faced a lot of problems.


Seven Questions


Gaurav Somwanshi  


In this piece, I seek to outline some questions that arose in my life or I have seen them arise around me, questions which may contain within them their own pitiless answers that form the weather and climate of this caste society. While for some questions, I may not have any answer. I do not wish to be merely rhetorical because I find myself entangled in the cobwebs that hang among these question marks, and I think many would relate to the conditions outlined below. Many others, with more experience and clarity than me, could help to define them more clearly if not resolve them.

1. There was a ‘tradition’ in Maharashtra (and I hope I’m justified in saying ‘was’) wherein, before beginning the construction of a building, a waada, or any large structure, a person belonging to the Mahar or Matang/Maang caste would be buried alive in its foundations.1,2,3,4 They would be made to swallow a mixture of oil and shendur (a mixture used for religious offerings) rendering them voiceless, lest their screams disturb the decorum of the happy gathering, and brick after brick would be laid around them while the person would be buried alive. Why? Because there was a belief that the strength of the Mahar or Matang/Maang would be absorbed by the building and it would last longer. Such beliefs weren’t even considered to be derogatory in a sense as the perpetrators sincerely believed that they’re ‘acknowledging’ the ‘strength’ of the Mahar or Matang/Maang even if it meant dehumanizing them to the point where the human being was indistinguishable from cement or brick. So there was this 'evolved' societal sentiment and force where they could openly murder humans as an acceptable cultural practice, by making them into a product and consuming them. My first question has its roots here.


Caste Capital: Historical habits of Savarna Academicians and their Brahmastras


Sumit Turuk

sumit turukGrowing up as a child in the Dom caste in a village in Odisha made me a close witness to some of the most dehumanizing and filthiest jobs my community that were imposed upon us by the Hindu caste society. Dom caste considered to be one of the lowest in the caste society and has historically been engaged with enforced caste occupations such as manual scavenging, skinning dead cows, bonded labour, burning dead bodies etc.  My place was no exception to this.

There are a few scenes from these surroundings that are still stuck with me. One of them is the whole process of preparing funeral pyres and cremation. Considering the cremation ground was very close to our segregated basti, we some of the young ones were frequent witnesses and participants in the funeral marches. When the fire was lit, the dead body doesn't immediately start burning. The fire gradually starts spreading throughout the body.

In the meantime a certain phenomenon happens, the muscles of the dead body start contracting while pushing the upper half of the dead body to rise up time and again just like a living human being. When this happens, a few people with the use of thick wooden bats try to strike the dead body down to the initial sleeping position. Why am I telling this story? I am narrating this to draw attention, and create a parallel, towards an often repeated historical pattern in the discursive spaces of this country. The dominant discourses controlled by the upper castes have historically always made attempts to crush, exclude, erase and burn into ashes the transformative discourses and autonomous assertions emerging from below. Whenever the discourses from below rise up, the upholders of the dominant discourses use their thick wooden bats (weapons of intellectual abuse) to strike it down.


No Mr. Tharoor, I Don’t Want to Enter Your Kitchen

Tejaswini Tabhane

tejaswini tabhaneShashi Tharoor is an author, politician and former international civil servant who is also a Member of Parliament representing the constituency of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. This write-up is a rebuttal to his three-year-old article Why Caste Won't Disappear From India, which I came across recently. While three years' span is too big and my scholarship too small in comparison to Tharoor's stature, I am still venturing to write this response because I think this intervention is necessary.

The headline of Tharoor's article raises a question as to why it is impossible for caste to disappear from India, and I was expecting him to answer it or at least analyze the forces responsible for its perpetuation. But he doesn't. Tharoor mainly focuses on two things: (i) the outrage senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai faced when he expressed his joy on Twitter over the elevation of two members of his Gaud Saraswat Brahmin caste to the cabinet, and (ii) how he was born and brought up unconscious of his own Nair caste.


Why are the Debates on Menstrual Taboo One-sided?


 T. Sowjanya

sowjanyaIn a nutshell, the answer is, the views expressed in the online protests are of women belonging to a particular set of social groups!

This is a response to the recent online protest against the taboos on menstruation in Indian society launched by some students and middle class, educated men, and women. Ananya Johar's show on 'Period' in this context raised several questions on the taboos associated with the natural bodily change like menstruation and even celebrated menstrual bleeding as the only bloodshed without any violence. While it is a commendable initiative by the youth and students across the campuses to openly discuss the linguistically prohibited area of menstruation and related rituals, it is also important to point out the gaps in such debates. My own observations might also be limited to the Andhra Pradesh region and certain social groups and I would be committed to learning from the margins and the centers of other social and regional locations as well in this context.


Topography of Urban Imagination in Modern Malayalam Novel


Anilkumar PV


It is not without profound sorrow that one admits to oneself that in their highest flights the artists of all ages have raised to heavenly transfigurations precisely those conceptions which we now recognize as false: they are the glorifiers of the religious and philosophical errors of mankind, and they could not have been so without believing in the absolute truth of these errors. ~ Nietzsche


Anilkumar pvOne key problematic, along with a whole battery of other problematics, that has gone untheorized in the intellectual exercise that goes by the name of criticism, especially in the value-judgments and unbearably pushy and subjective pronouncements of critics like Asha Menon and K. P. Appan, is the sudden unfolding of an intense and dark flower called existentialism in the privileged world of Malayalam novel writing of the 60s. The reason, it seems to me, for the omission in theorization is that the critics, who have mindfucked Malayalis by bringing out the kernel of truth concealed behind the enigmatic flux of modern Malayalam novels, could not gauge the preconditions for the emergence of existentialism in the tiny corner of a large third world country.


Historically, historicizing an instance is anathema to the elite critics of Kerala. To remedy their natural deficiency of insight into the objective conditions of production of an epoch, the esteemed critics gulp down data ranging from pop science and pop psychology to metaphysics and medicine and bring out intellectual excreta which, helping in their intellectual free-floatism, can float on any water.  But behind the flux and floatation device, there is history, which people sympathetic to marginal and microgroups and their micropolitical voicing cannot ignore. The gamble in the following pages is an attempt at recapturing that history, that is, to trace the terrains traversed by three so-called significant figures of modern Malayalam novel and to put its elitism and anti-subaltern content in its proper place.


Existentialism in its Kierkegaardian variety with the ominous reflections on the failed conditions of human existence has had a field-day in modern Malayalam fiction. From the political perspective of a third world country, the importation of costly stuff made in the philosophical laboratory of Europe was uncalled for at the time.  All over the world, especially in the charged world of the 60’s oppressed, new subjectivities, hitherto silenced under the old critical paradigms and whose existence we always doubted, began to break the shackles that confined them and to confront the reality eyeball to eyeball with a body and self fashioned in a radically altered way.  

 It was the period of profound anti-colonial struggles in Africa and Latin America influenced by the experience of India and Pakistan. It was not simply that Africa was searching for new heights of humanity in Africa alone, but we saw some great moments of civil rights activities in the USA by the African Americans, a tradition the roots of which can be traced in the spirituality of various religious systems and in the materiality of Marxism and whose praxis, symbolically representable in diverse figures like the non-violent Martin Luther King to the militant Malcolm X and Elijiah Muhammad, generated compassion as well as fear in the minds of the white Americans.  The black’s affirmation of the beauty of the black, a political stance that refused the totalitarian language of the grand narratives of the Enlightenment, was matched by the waking up of privileged class feminism of the white academics. (But one should not be blind to the teaching of the formidable African American feminist, bell hooks: in both instances, the experience of the black woman was sidelined with ruthless theoretical force and ignorance). In the far advanced capitalist countries like the USA and France, students began to perceive the sudden swerve of the state towards the extreme right, and the consequent silencing of all oppositional voices with the assistance of ideological and repressive apparatuses. This realization initiated a rejection of the old-fashioned party framework since the new conceptual categories developed at the time of the protest surpassed the Stalinist centralist framework of the party. The sixties were also the period of the emergence of the consciousness of various indigenous communities whose selves had been slenderized by the brutal project of colonial exploration and penetration. The most powerful image of the sixties, as far as a third world subject was concerned, could be the collective resistance of the Vietnamese people against the ruthless military aggression of the U S A.  


These were some of the movements that could easily be identifiable by the writers of the elitist origin from Kerala since their intellectual experience, as the jargon goes, was shaped by a total commitment to the cause of the downtrodden in a rhetoric fashioned along the fist-shaking slogans of international communism. But they failed to recognize the zest behind the emergence of the new.  Instead of celebrating the emergence of new subjectivities all over the world, they looked at the failure of the so-called collective experiment of the Soviet state and its expansion into Eastern Europe, militarily as well as politically. To cope with the grim situation caused by the haunting of a ghost known as state socialism and alienated bureaucracy all over Eastern Europe, the elites of Kerala imported wholesale the nihilist tendencies inherent in certain traditions of existentialism.  At this precise moment, if we ask the Kantian question pertaining to the epistemological condition of possibility (of the importation of nihilism), then we can see that this transshipment serves an alibi for a profound abhorrence of the hegemonic for the social alteration that took place by the limited exercise of democratization in the metropolises in the early decades of independence.


A cursory glance at the biographical contours of the three writers who were the licensees for importing nihilism wholesale to Kerala will inform us that their peregrination, metonymically and metaphorically, has some semblance. One, the triumvirates, O. V. Vijayan, Anand and M. Mukundan, belong to a stratum of society that was never at the receiving end of the hierarchical exercise of static power, which is the result of, to use Marx phrase, the ‘hereditary division of labor’. Two, while O. V. Vijayan and M. Mukundan come from Malabar, a place, still in the sixties, rocking under the excessive weight of the residual tendencies of a crepuscular mélange of feudalism and colonial oppression, Anand belongs to Irinjalakkuda, which is fifteen minutes drive from the south-west border of Malabar. The point I want to hammer home is: the feudal socio-political economy that was in existence until the formation of Kerala had given them enough space to dream about their own distinct subjectivity, a luxury people like women or adivasis could not afford at that moment. Third, they were all, after having obtained a powerful command over a colonial language, forced to migrate to the metropolis located outside Kerala in search of a job. Fourth, all of them produced their magnum opus, if the Latin word makes any sense in the contemporary world of fast-changing theoretical speculations before they turned thirty. Lastly, perhaps the most striking of all, even after having obtained a commendable excellence in a foreign language and a sensibility formulated by an avid reading in a foreign tongue, none of them tried, as Samuel Beckett did, to write in a foreign tongue.  The commonplace accusation against Anand’s Malayalam, that it is Malayalam written in English structure, and the mastery of a style displayed by Vijayan in his own English rendering of his works are enough proof that these writers from Kerala did not write in English not because they could not do so but because they realized what they really aspired to communicate was not really shared by the Indian middle class of the metropolis.  Instead, consciously or unconsciously, they turned to their constituency, the feudal world of Kerala and its informed aristocrats. Whence comes the nihilism.


As early as 1944, in a poem titled ‘Assam Panikkar (The Workers in Assam)’, Vailoppilly spotted the dilemma of the people of Kerala when he talked about the mass exodus of Malayalis to the Indian Army that was busy defending the eastern border from the onslaught of Japan in the Second World War. Even though they left the place by ‘big train’, they were in fact ‘crawling on their belly’ since ‘this land which is a paradise for the guests is for them a treacherous old woman’, offering nothing for her own kids. But when they returned from Assam after the end of the war, they learned the Hegelian dictum very well that ‘true evil lies not in the object perceived as evil but in the innocent gaze which perceives evil all around’. The experience of war, torture; violence; blood; death; starvation; malaria, offered them a fresh insight into the unproductive, stagnant and poverty-ridden economy of the then Kerala.  And here the poet would come up with two unforgettable lines that would go on to fashion the political unconscious of a society marked by a love-hate relationship with its region: “To love here; to desire here; to grieve here, to do that is jouissance”.  


But then Vailopilly was responding to the wartime economy, an economy that was inflationary because of the strains and uncertainties existed and also caused by Britain’s decision to pay her share of defense expenditure by giving sterling credits.  In the sea of starvation, of low food supply and a high prize if those illiterate and semi-literate Malayalis, who went in search for a job in the lower rung of the Army, found jouissance in the act of sharing one’s starvation with one’s family, then it was justifiable.  But for the next generation of migrants there was no such justification because they were part and parcel of the grand scheme of nation building initiated by the universal citizen, Prime Minister Nehru. Unlike Assam workers, they were not thrown from the frying pan of Kerala to the Japanese fire. Though migration was forced upon them, their peregrination was to the concrete jungles of the modern metropolises like Mumbai, New Delhi and Kolkata rather than to the real jungles in the Northeast. This displacement from a feudal chronotope, where the cognitive mapping of the contours of the mental and bodily experiences was possible and space-time remained in a permanent state of static continuity, to the time-space of the metropolis, in which flux, excesses, changes, and alienation are the order of the day, had a drastic impact on the psyche of the newly migrated Malayali elite.  The shock, cultural as well as political, that the change in the geographic locale brought about was fought actively by creating a mythical world locally. Paul Virilio, in a succinct observation, remarks how the classical French example of the palindrome (Esope reste ici et se repose), where Aesop stays here and rests, is amputated of its idyllic content in the contemporary reading back in time: “…..today, no one stays at rest, all is in flight and is displaced in a strange inverse transmigration.  The habit of returning to our source, of rediscovering our origins, our ‘identity’, suddenly seems an absolute necessity.” That is exactly why both Vijayan and Mukundan travel business class from New Delhi to the mundane realities of ‘Khasak’ and the ‘Banks of River Mayyazhi’. This reverse and imaginary migration to the magical land of folkloric diversity, a dream world from which they are alienated in the beginning itself through their education in colonial language and reason, forces upon them an alienated world; the rules of the game in their mythical world are as complex and undecipherable as they are in the modern world. Even though the prohibitions, the libidos, the desires and the laws of mythical worlds are founded upon the split of the Real into nature and culture, just as they are in the modern world, when the writers mystify the mythical world and vomit the old, half-digested vine of nostalgia through modern mouths, what is gone astray is an Adornian knowledge that enlightenment and reason’s domination over earth and other people cannot be confined within the frame of any particular historical context. At the colossal moment of twentieth century Western philosophy, in their incomparable work The Dialectic of Enlightenment, Theodore W. Adorno and Marx Horkheimer maintain that when Ulysses plugged the ears of his men so as to prevent them from listening to the enchanting songs of the Sirens and forced his people to row with all their might, he was also using the same instrumental rationality that the modern-day bureaucrat uses in order to control the people of the modern state. The tragedy of the wholesale dealers of mythical complexities is that not only do they miss this point but also they fail to recognize the point that the creation of a mystical world is itself the product of instrumental rationality.


And their ‘eternal return to the zero degree of history’ finally brings out the kernel of truth concealing behind the materiality of their skin, the Lacanian Real, ‘the peeled off skin’: that there is nothing behind this skin and if you try to peel it off, you will scream like Kurtz: “the horror”.


In Anand the procedure is complex, like the Manglish that he uses for his novels.  Anand does not attempt to accomplish a backward journey; instead, he attempts in Aalkkoottam with a scientific bent of mind to cognitive map the entire contours of the city fabric of pre-contemporary Mumbai and the way a citizen is constructed and manipulated by the fallen city fabric. As one of his characters remarks, “There is no address or background for the people who assemble at Choupatti. Everybody is a stranger to everybody. There they meet not as individuals but as the pieces of a crowd.” What is amiss in the poetics of the disappearance of the distinct individuality is the presence of a reverse force-field that offers the silenced people a floating identity as opposed to the static and fixed caste identity in the feudal village. From this perspective, it becomes absolutely necessary for us to unearth the absent hero who structures the entire narrative framework of Anand’s novel that refuses to go back in time. The protagonist who emerges in such an against-the-grain reading is Anand himself: the dominant and domineering individuality the subjectivity of which was formed in the feudal village itself.  No wonder, a lower-middle class elite, who went to the metropolis in search of a job, would find the meandering through the crowded street in anxiety is unbearably difficult since working for a livelihood, something a democratic society demands of every citizen, has never been a scheme of things of the life-world that he had in Kerala. In the political economy of feudalism, all people like him needed to do was to blindly believe in the primordial scheme of Hindutva philosophy that assigned hereditary jobs to each person. And the rest was okay.  And the demands of a society that started its democratization, a process that has not reached the halfway mark even now, was too hot for people like him to handle. And Anand’s “Alkkoottam” will remain in the consciousness of many marginalities a stunning monument that has registered its protest against the ethics and politics of democracy.


This is the context, a society that was slowly getting democratized, to which they imported ‘the absurdity of human condition’. But the political unconscious of the Nehruvian socialist framework was careful enough to do the necessary customs checks to see to it that the political radicalism of a Sartre who wrote the preface of Franz Fanon’s revolutionary work or who tried to give representation to young black poets (I am conscious of Fanon’s disillusioned remark on that effort) never gets through.  Worse still, it took three more decades for Fanon to escape the customs formalities and enter the aristocratic world of Malayali radicalism. But Kafka, the photographer of alienated and labyrinthine bureaucracy had a strategic role to play in their scheme because they had a first-hand experience of the might of the Nehruvian centralist bureaucracy. Anand has, to put it mildly, spent an entire life playing on the state-citizen binary, which for Vijayan was a short-term strategy during the emergency after which he, with penitence, gestured his covert solidarity with the Hindutva that was to emerge aggressively nationwide. At times, in his own characteristic dried-out way, Anand evokes the structuralist Marxist, Louise Althusser. There are ideological institutions, like schools, media, and colleges that on a daily basis impart the know-how to become good citizens by taming the bodily and mental excesses of an individual in tune with the demands of the nation-state. And if the individual resists the taming process of the state, then the state always has the prospect of resorting to the assistance of repressive apparatuses like the police and army to control the deadly dance of the individual with surplus energy.


Here ends the similarity between Anand and Althusser. In Althusser, there is always a third term, namely interpellation. In other words, in Althusser’s formulation, everybody is not a citizen of the nation-state but those who are interpellated by the nation-state as citizen. A closer reading of Althusser would suggest the idea that each and every political formation of the bourgeoisie is incapable of interpellating all the creatures within and that there always remain in the margin of the bourgeoisie nation state certain people who have never heard the call ‘hey you there’.  But Anand’s conception of the citizen is very simple: his idea of a citizen is extended to all the people living within the geographic confinements of the nation-state. This short-circuit between state and citizen enables him to project his own liberal humanist anxieties to the body and psyche of every person without bothering to inquire whether everybody is lucky enough to be identified by this nation-state as its citizen. So the liberal humanist anxiety of the elite becomes the anxiety of everybody. In this very process of ivory tower humanism, this liberal humanist, like the early liberal humanist of the West who failed to extend ‘the rights of man’ to the slaves in the plantation, or the Jews in the ghettos,  or the woman in their own households, fails to extend the rights that he enjoys to the less privileged group. And I guess I am justified in evoking Alain Badiou here: if freedom is that of politically and ideologically resembling Anand, then it is assuredly better not to be free.


This is an excerpt from the author's forthcoming book. Please don't reproduce without permission. 



Anilkumar Payyappilly Vijayan is Assistant Professor of English at Government Victoria College, Palakkad, Kerala. He has a PhD in English from Kannur University. His doctoral dissertation titled "Untouchability of the Unconscious: Containment and Disfigurement of Dalit Identity in Malayalam Cinema" makes, with the help of Lacanian psychoanalysis, a methodological inquiry into the logical aspects of the construction of Dalit identity in Malayalam cinema.



'Indian education doesn't have any emancipatory agenda': Prof Vivek Kumar


 Round Table India

This is the transcription of Round Table India's interaction with Prof Vivek Kumar, Professor, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, for the Ambedkar Age series of films.

Prof Vivek Kumar III

In the interview, Prof Vivek Kumar touches upon a vast range of subjects, including the contours of Indian politics in the last four decades, the Bahujan movement, Dalit assertion and literature etc. He talks about the conceptualisation of the Bahujan Movement by Saheb Kanshi Ram, and its evolution and growth over the years. He also shares experiences from his own participation in the movement as a journalist, researcher, teacher, writer and public intellectual.


How Privileged Are You? (Authentic version)


Rajesh Rajamani


rajesh rajamani


Has a know-it-all ISJW (Internet Social Justice Warrior) asked you to check your privilege? Did you misunderstand the statement and check the online dictionary to verify if the word is spelled as ‘privilege’ or ‘privelige’? Have you wondered why someone tagged you in a social media post that said: “When You're Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression”? Or in spite of your busy schedule, have you self-reflected in a moment of weakness and pondered over how privileged you might be?


Worry not! We bring to you the most (more or less) accurate scientific questionnaire that could easily help you identify your level of privilege.


Brahminism's beef with beef


Anuraag Khaund

anuragOften while engaging in a debate with my friends from other parts of India especially the North in my campus in Guwahati over the present contemporary contentious issue of dietary preferences, I am mostly met with the following rhetoric- Don’t you have compassion in your heart? Don’t you feel a pain in your heart every time you bite a tandoori? And it continues. On the broader picture meat, especially beef has today emerged as a marker of nationalism and citizenship with “violators” either lynched as in the case of Dadri or stabbed to death like Hafiz Junaid. However, the common feature of these two aforementioned incidents and my debates in college is the increasing emphasis on the notion of certain dietary practices as being “impure” which ought to be abolished, even with violence if necessary and the imposition of a “purer” form of food habit. Vegetarianism, widely celebrated and ascribed a status of respect within 'Hinduism' was also seen as a marker of difference between the stratifications of the caste system with sections having a strong preference for meat being relegated to the lowest rungs of the caste structure as non-veg dietary practices were perceived as impure. However, if examined closely, Vedic Hinduism has an association with meat and especially beef, stretching back in time.


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Differentiating the Hindi subject: Bhojpuri experience
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Castes of Cricket in India
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  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...
Why did Dalit become the mascot for the caste system?
Thursday, 21 September 2017
  Gaurav Somwanshi  This piece is in continuation with its previous part, the fourth question in a series of seven, but it can be read independently too. This is going to be the... Read More...
Seven Questions
Sunday, 17 September 2017
  Gaurav Somwanshi   In this piece, I seek to outline some questions that arose in my life or I have seen them arise around me, questions which may contain within them their own... Read More...
Caste Capital: Historical habits of Savarna Academicians and their Brahmastras
Sunday, 17 September 2017
  Sumit Turuk Growing up as a child in the Dom caste in a village in Odisha made me a close witness to some of the most dehumanizing and filthiest jobs my community that were imposed upon us by... Read More...

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The Rise of the Bheem Army
Saturday, 13 May 2017
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A Peep into the Soft Porn Film Industry of Keralam
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Hindu nationalism and Muslim nationalism co-produce each other: Khalid Anis Ansari
Monday, 24 April 2017
  Round Table India In this episode of the Ambedkar Age series, Round Table India talks to Prof. Khalid Anis Ansari, Director, Dr. Ambedkar Centre for Exclusion Studies & Transformative... Read More...
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Sunday, 09 April 2017
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