Caste of a Mirror: Caste in Hindi Cinema


Manish Gautam

Manish GautamAs the old adage goes, cinema is the mirror of society, but one can delve much deeper into this question: does cinema merely reflect what is visible (or not visible) in society or does it extend far and wide and deeper into that parallel world consisting of the people who are writing scripts and plots, penning songs, conjuring dialogues between the actors, giving the words a visual, and the visuals, words? The people who are creating this cinema are not from some Martian civilisation who are just observers of earthlings, but actually do come from and are tightly tied up with the society that they are showing on the silver screen. Therefore, there is a fair chance that as the outer society (the audience) has hierarchies, divisions, biases and prejudices, the people of the mirror-world, i.e. Cinema, have the same biases, prejudices and hierarchies that they hold dear to their existence and want to perpetuate further owing to their allegiance to the social group they are born into. Bollywood is such an example of this mirror-world: the society that it consists of is prominently upper caste and it perpetuates casteism in myriad ways, within their own world and through projecting outward to society, the consumers of this cinema.


Cast(e) in Paris: Some Anecdotes and Observations


Pranav Kuttaiah

PranavKuttaiah"[Caste] is a local problem, but one capable of much wider mischief, for as long as caste in India does exist, Hindus will hardly intermarry or have any social intercourse with outsiders; and if Hindus migrate to other regions on earth, Indian caste would become a world problem."1 ~Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

"Since when do Indians eat meat?" asked a Mexican student slightly incredulously, eyeing the excessive amount of beef I had helped myself to at the University cafeteria. It came as a slight surprise to me – my own family seldom had a meal that didn't include pork or beef at the table. "Aren't most Indians vegetarians?" she continued.
I could've instinctively thrown the statistics I've been hardwired to remember to correct the casteist presumptions one faces in debating most Indians who speak English: Only about 31% of Indians are vegetarians, a figure that falls to 21% for families with all vegetarian members. Most southern states have a sub-10% number of vegetarians, and perhaps more notably the number of vegetarians is 55% among Brahmins and only about 12% among Adivasis.


Jai Bhim in JNU: Freedom or Social Justice?


Vruttant Manwatkar

"Your salvation must lie in your own hands, through your own efforts".
~ Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

'Bole India – Jai Bhim'- This is the title of a low budget Marathi movie which is under production by Shree Gayatri Films. The movie is one of the first ones made in the memory of the originator of the slogan 'Jai Bhim'- Babu Hardas L.N. What began as a greeting among the untouchable Mahar community in a small town, Kamptee, in Nagpur District of Maharashtra, 'Jai Bhim' has now become a wide-spread usage throughout India. The Bahujan class across India has started adopting it as a new greeting replacing the established Hindu cultural greetings like 'Namaskar' and 'Ram-Ram'. Along with the persistent labour of Social Organizations like BAMCEF, AIMBSCS etc., and by the efforts of the aware and class conscious Bahujan individuals, 'Jai Bhim', today has taken the form of an emerging Cultural and Political Movement for the establishment of Democracy. Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), has not been untouched by this movement. jai bhim babu hardas

In JNU too, one can witness students exchanging the greetings of 'Jai Bhim', amongst those mostly belonging to the Bahujan Class. Moreover, the slogan of 'Jai Bhim' has exceptionally marked its presence as a war cry of assertion by the Bahujan students of the University, who struggle to reclaim their due rights and resources.

Babu Hardas L.N was born on 6th January 1904 in Kamptee. Along with the introduction of the powerful slogan/greeting 'Jai Bhim', the credit of organising the first public celebration of Ambedkar Jayanti also goes to Babu Hardas L.N. It was under his leadership that the first celebration of Ambedkar Jayanti took place on 14th April, 1933 at Nagpur. The celebration of Ambedkar Jayanti nowadays has developed its own unique ethics which propagates the Ambedkarite-Buddhist ideas of Education, Organisation and Agitation. These celebrations also see 18-hour study programmes, book and stationary distribution, distribution of prizes to students etc., at different venues, including the Dikshabhoomi. Along with opening of libraries, lectures and other cultural programmes. All these events inspire the youngsters and adults alike to educate and empower themselves. Babu Hardas L.N. started the weekly called "Maharattha" meaning "the power of Mahars" in 1921 when he was 18 years of age in order to spread social awareness, especially about education. Babu also spearheaded the movement of the Beedi labourers of Kamptee which was successful in clinching several of their basic demands. One of the most significant contributions of Babu Hardas L.N. in the Ambedkarite movement was during the time of Babasaheb's participation in the Second Round Table Conference, in September 1931, when he mobilised people from all over the country, and mainly from Maharashtra, to confirm at the London Conference that Dr. Ambedkar was the only representative of the Depressed Classes in India. One remarkable fact was that there were 32 telegrams sent from Kamptee, to London, for this purpose. Dedicating his whole life to the cause of the upliftment of the depressed classes and remaining an ardent supporter of Dr. Ambedkar, Babu Hardas L.N died a sudden death at the age of 35 on 12th January 1939.


The Manufacturing of Artificial Guilt and the Need to Reject It


Suresh RV

suresh rv[This article is written to clear the confusion in the minds of the young dalit-bahujan students and job aspirants, whether we should avail reservations or not? Or whether we truly deserve reservations or not? Because, I too have had this confusion, guilt and insecurity at one point of time in my life. So, I am sharing my thoughts in an attempt to dispel this confusion that persists in the minds of many young dalit-bahujan, and why we should not be burdened with this unnecessary confusion and guilt. I wrote this earlier as a FB Post, and now I have modified and added a few more points to the original post to be published as an article in RTI in order to reach a wider audience.]

What this caste society does is that it creates a sense of guilt in the minds of the young dalit bahujan students (SC, ST & OBC) that they are doing some heinous crime by availing reservations. That they do not need to use reservations because they are financially stable and so should leave the post as is so that the 'real' dalit bahujans who 'really' deserve it can use it.


Social Justice and Student Activism Within the Brahmanical Educational System


Anoop Kumar

anoopI believe every educational institution in this country, especially the so called 'national' ones have been deliberately designed in a way to exclude the majority of Indians and to term them as 'non meritorious' at the expense of a very small upper caste English speaking elite.

 It is a conspiracy. It is not accident. It has been a well thought out, well executed chicanery for the benefit of very few... JNU, TISS, EFLU and all other central institutions are just fraud perpetrated on the rest.

 Students and Social Justice Activism


What Identity Politics Means to Me!


Anshul Kumar

anshulIf one were to attempt to comprehend Plato and Descartes' philosophical thoughts one thing that is worth acknowledging is that religions of the world associate people with either immaterial souls or pure egos. From this perspective, people have bodies only contingently, not necessarily, so they can live after bodily death.

 Etymologically identity comes from latin 'identitas' meaning 'sameness'.

Who is doing identity politics? What if I say that this form of doing politics is proving to be dangerous for the humankind? Is it making evil even more banal?(Arendt). Can't we refrain from doing such a politics which is creating divisions? (See links below)

Religion, Politics and one's Social Identity are extremely intertwined. However hard you try to remain apolitical, agnostic, atheist or liberal in your approach towards life, you will always be judged by the aforementioned trio which defines human existence. The only respite from not getting trapped in such identities is if you are born a white male or a brahmin or into a family of dominant caste or race or ethnicity. Then if you are liberal in your leanings, you will be hailed as a champion of human rights and values. A vanguard sent from heaven to unite human race as a whole by setting aside all the differences based upon racial, ethnic, gender or caste based identities. It is like closing your eyes and expecting the world to turn completely dark. Sadly, this is not the way the cosmos functions. This utopian lollipop of syncretism is first of all not as sweet as it is professed to be. Even if it comes out sweet, it will be too diabetic for humankind and then the only 'insulin' will be the politics of the oppressed, marginalised and the persecuted. Unlike the earth as it is perceived by humans there are no dichotomies or binaries defining the naturality of our entire cosmos.


Post-Truth Politics and Dalit Question


Vinod Kumar

vinodThe world is moving in a new direction in its political spectrum. Most of the old, developed democracies have come under the influence of the right wing forces with populist images where people are drawn towards personalities and emotions rather than facts and good policies. Recently, this changing political dimension has been termed as "post-truth politics". Although, this tendency has long been part of political life, it has had very less discussion on it before the advent of the Internet. The politics of Russia, China, America, India, Australia, UK, Turkey and Japan inspired the political scientists to analyse the changing political behaviour. The word "post-truth politics" became more prevalent during the two major political events of this year; first, Brexit referendum in which Britain has withdrawn itself from EU, and second, US presidential election where Donald Trump with right wing supported populist image came to power. This term (post-truth politics) has been chosen as the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year (2016). In post-truth politics, campaigners consistently repeat their talking point even if they are found to be untrue by other sources. Here, false rumours become major news topic. In this era of post-truth politics, it is easy to cherry-pick data and come to whatever conclusion you desire (oxford dictionary).


Presenting Angela Davis, the Savarna Style


Sukanya Shantha

sukanyaOn Friday, a friend and I walked into a movie hall to watch an American romantic musical, La La Land. Enticed by the cinematic beauty and the dreamy two hours spent in the cinema hall, I walked out feeling empathetic towards actor Ryan Gosling's character Sebastian, a white American, who among several things is also a savior of Jazz, a music genre birthed by the descendents of the enslaved African people and informed by their lived experiences. 

Nearby, at the KC College auditorium, similar tempo was set where hundreds of students, activists and academicians gathered to hear Dr. Angela Davis, a scholar, author, feminist, abolitionist and an activist who works on liberating political prisoners and those in exile. Dr. Davis was in the city to speak at the 8th Anuradha Ghandy Memorial lecture on the topic "Black Lives, Dalit Lives, histories and solidarities". Two days earlier, Dr. Davis and Dr. Gina Dent, an associate professor of feminist studies at the University of California had made a deeply insightful presentation on "abolition feminism" at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. They presented an extremely nuanced understanding of prisons through a feminist perspective. Their decades of engagement was evident in every word they spoke. Somewhere in her talk, Dr. Davis modestly clarified that she has a limited understanding of the caste struggles in India and sees one very crucial commonality between the black and Dalit struggles- a fight for dignity.


What’s in a surname? Reflections on Adivasis’ history of Northern Chhattisgarh


Akash Poyam


akashWhen I was first enrolled in school my parents named me ‘Akash Kumar’, this remained until middle school when it was changed to ‘Akash Kumar Prasad’ and it had since then continued. After using ‘Poyam’ for almost a year on social media, I finally decided to officially change it. I belong to the 'Poyam' clan - one among the 750 clans of ‘Koitur/Gond’ tribe. Poya in Gondi translates to (dhuan) ‘smoke’ in English and one of the stories behind its origin goes as follows. A long time ago, an epidemic had spread across Koiturs’ territory. Its wrath had taken many lives and no one was able to stop it or find  any cure for it. At that point, it was the people from Poya clan who discovered that smoke (from burning leaves of a forest plant) could cure that disease. They travelled across villages and helped end the epidemic disease. Their relation with medicinal ‘smoke’ got them the name ‘poya’. (As narrated by elders to me in Kondagaon-Bastar during Bade Dongar Jatra.) In this article, I’d like to share the history of my region and community that alienated us from our clan name and instead made us adopt surname/s (Prasad/Singh etc) that in no way represented our Adivasi ancestry and identity.


ना जाती साठी ना मातीसाठी....आमचा लढा संविधानाच्या सन्मानासाठी....


Bhagyesha Kurane

bhagyeshaलाखोंच्या संख्येने येथे उपस्थित असणाऱ्या सर्व भगिनी व बंधूंना या भीमाच्या लेखणीचा सप्रेम जयभीम

मी भाग्येशा कुरणे संविधान सन्मान मोर्च्याच्या निमित्ताने आपणा सर्वांना सम्बोधीत करत आहे.बहीनीनो आणि भावानो काल दिनांक 26 रोजी संविधान दिन सम्पूर्ण देशभरात मोठ्या आनंदाने साजरा झाला व आज दिनांक 27 रोजी संविधानाच्या सन्मानासाठी आपण सर्वजण लाखोंच्या संख्येने रस्त्यावर उतरलो आहोत.ही वेळ आज आपल्यावर का आली ?याचे मुख्य कारण म्हणजे गेल्या दहा वर्षात देशात वाढत चाललेले जातीय अत्याचार ,वाढती असहिष्णुता ,स्त्रीयांवरील अत्याचाराचे वाढते प्रमाण होय.जवखेडा,खैरलांजि,सोनई,कोपर्डि ही याची काही प्रतिनिधीक उदाहरणे.स्वातंत्र्याच्या 70 व्या वर्षात पदार्पण करून देखील अशा विषम व्यवस्थेत आपल्याला जगावे लागते ही अतिशय निंदनीय व खेदकारी बाब आहे.


एक भीमपुत्री की इंसाफ की लड़ाई


भंवर मेघवंशी

bhanwar meghwanshiएक दलित शिक्षिका का सुलगता सवाल: क्या हम अपनी बेटियों के साथ बलात्कार होने का इन्तजार करें ? 

यह जलता हुआ सवाल राजस्थान के पाली जिले की एक दलित शिक्षिका का है, जो कस्तूरबा गाँधी आवासीय विद्यालय सोजत सिटी की संस्था प्रधान है | शोभा चौहान नामकी यह सरकारी अध्यापिका एक बहादुर सैनिक की बेटी है और बाबासाहब से प्रेरणा लेकर न्याय के लिए अनवरत लड़ने वाली भीमपुत्री है | उनके विद्यालय में पढने वाली चार दलित नाबालिग लड़कियों ने उन्हें 15 मार्च की शाम 8 बजे बताया कि उनके साथ परीक्षा के दौरान 12 और 14 मार्च 2016 को परीक्षक छैलसिंह चारण ने परीक्षा देते वक़्त अश्लील हरकतें की |

 छात्राओं के मुताबिक – शिक्षक छैलसिंह ने उनमें से प्रत्येक के साथ पेपर देने के बहाने या हस्ताक्षर करने के नाम पर अश्लील और यौन उत्पीड़न करने वाली घटनाएँ की | आरोपी अध्यापक ने उनके हाथ पकड़े, उन्हें मरोड़ा, लड़कियों की जंघाओं पर चिकुटी काटी और अपना प्राइवेट पार्ट को बार बार लड़कियों के शरीर से स्पर्श कर रगड़ा | इतना ही नहीं बल्कि चार में से एक लड़की को अपना मोबाईल नम्बर दे कर कहा कि छुट्टियों में इस नम्बर पर बात कर लेना | में तुम्हें पास कर दूंगा |ऐसा कह कर उसने उक्त लड़की को वहीँ रोक लिया, लड़की बुरी तरह से सहम गई | बाद में दूसरी छात्राओं के आ जाने से उसका बचाव हो सका |


The cashlessness of the Bahujan



How are you going to break up Caste, if people are not free to consider whether it accords with morality? ~ Babasaheb Ambedkar

The saddest joke is Modi's promotion of a cash-less economy among the 'poor'. To add insult to injury, the Congressis and the left have again been strengthening the tired narrative of a homogenous, caste-less community of 'poor and middle class' Indians as though they are all uniformly affected by the currency drought reigning across the country. Here's an attempt to explain how both are lying: the 'poor' in India already live in a cash-less economy or a less cash economy, and they're overwhelmingly Bahujan.

This financial year, 2016-17, it is estimated that all Indian households would spend around 89 lakh crore rupees on consumption (or Rs 24,400 crores approx, per day). How much of this would be the Bahujan share? To arrive at that figure, we need to calculate how much does the Bahujan spend, which is a very difficult task but we do have the means to arrive at a reasonable estimate now, thanks to the truncated but nevertheless somewhat useful caste census.

nidhin secc


Other Related Articles

Rejecting Victimhood, Reclaiming Resistance
Wednesday, 18 January 2017
  Joint pamphlet by BAPSA, SIO, YFDA on the occasion of Rohith's Shahadat Din [Distributed for 'Resistance March' against Institutionalized Brahmanism on 16 January 2017 in JNU, New Delhi] The... Read More...
Caste discrimination in daily life: Is it a thing of the past?
Monday, 16 January 2017
  Chanchal Kumar This essay shows with examples that incidents of caste discrimination have only proliferated instead of stopping in any way in modern towns and even in the national capital... Read More...
Hoping in times of disillusion
Saturday, 14 January 2017
  Trevor Jeyaraj All our efforts towards justice seems like a Sisyphean quest. Rolling one pain over another and trying to overcome the present in an effort to heal the scars of the past is... Read More...
The Occasion of Namantar Din!
Saturday, 14 January 2017
  Pradnya Jadhav ~ I have seen youAt the front of the Long MarchThe end of your sari tucked tightly at the waistShouting "Change the name"Taking the blow of the police stick on your upraised... Read More...
Wherever Caste exists in the World, Ambedkar and Marx will remain Irreconcilable
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
  Dr Manisha Bangar NVP BAMCEF In India, and wherever in the world Caste exists, Ambedkar and Marx will remain Irreconcilable. Starting from the happenings in Hyderabad Central University in... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Covering Dalit atrocities in a savarna newsroom
Wednesday, 10 August 2016
  Dhrubo Jyoti I work with a major mainstream media house in the national capital, one that has hundreds of employees but no diversity policy, that ensures almost all journalists are drawn from... Read More...
Wherever Caste exists in the World, Ambedkar and Marx will remain Irreconcilable
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
  Dr Manisha Bangar NVP BAMCEF In India, and wherever in the world Caste exists, Ambedkar and Marx will remain Irreconcilable. Starting from the happenings in Hyderabad Central University in... Read More...
The Death of Merit – Dr. V. Ajay Sree Chandra
Tuesday, 26 July 2016
 Gurinder Azad On 27th August 2007,  V. Ajay Sree Chandra hanged himself in one of the hostel rooms of the famed IISc, hostel room number F002 to be precise, leaving his father and two... Read More...
'What happened to Dalits?'
Monday, 15 August 2016
Dharmaraj Kumar "What has happened to dalits? Why have they become so violent? They are getting reservation through constitution in everything, what else do they want now?" was the concern of one of... Read More...
Bhima’s force shall keep growing…!
Monday, 28 November 2016
  Essay Series on What Babasaheb Ambedkar Means to me Pradnya Jadhav Babasaheb's people have held him high in their hearts without waiting for him to die and appear in any textbooks. The supreme... Read More...

Recent Articles in Hindi

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

  संजय जोठे  इस देश में भेदभाव और शोषण से भरी परम्पराओं का विरोध करने वाले अनेक विचारक और क्रांतिकारी हुए हैं जिनके बारे में हमें बार-बार पढ़ना और समझना चाहिए. दुर्भाग्य से इस देश के शोषक वर्गों के षड्यंत्र के कारण इन क्रांतिकारियों का जीवन परिचय और समग्र कर्तृत्व छुपाकर रखा जाता है. हमारी अनेकों पीढियां इसी षड्यंत्र में जीती आयीं हैं. किसी देश के उद्भट विचारकों और क्रान्तिकारियों को इस...

Read more

कृष्ण : भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

कृष्ण : भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

(कृष्ण की लोक लुभावन छवि का पुनर्पाठ!)मानुषी आखिर ये मिथकीय कहानियां किस तरह की परवरिश और शिक्षा देती हैं, जहां पुरुषों को सारे अधिकार हैं, चाहे वह स्त्री को अपमानित करे या दंडित, उसे स्त्री पलट कर कुछ नहीं कहती। फिर आज हम रोना रोते हैं कि हमारे बच्चे इतने हिंसक और कुंठित क्यों हो रहे हैं। सारा दोष हम इंटरनेट और टेलीविजन को देकर मुक्त होना चाहते हैं। जबकि स्त्री...

Read more

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

संजय जोठे धर्म जो काम शास्त्र लिखकर करता है वही काम राष्ट्र अब फ़िल्में और विडिओ गेम्स बनाकर बनाकर करते हैं. इसी के साथ सुविधाभोगी पीढ़ी को मौत से बचाने के लिए टेक्नालाजी पर भयानक खर्च भी करना पड़ता है ताकि दूर बैठकर ही देशों का सफाया किया जा सके, और यही असल में उस तथाकथित “स्पेस रिसर्च” और “अक्षय ऊर्जा की खोज” की मूल प्रेरणा है, यूं तो सबको...

Read more