Ambedkarites have to help other Bahujans, irrespective of caste: Shashikant Humane


 (SAVARI and Round Table India are doing a series to put together the Bahujan perspective on the Coronavirus pandemic)

Shashikant Humane

Anuradha Bele: Dear Kaka, thank you for taking the time for the interview with RTI. We look to seniors like you to give us guidance about how young bahujans can channel their energies to minimize the hardship which are brought on bahujan masses due to the pandemic and the lockdown measures. So what would you like to talk to the young bahujan, in the present situation?

humanesir maam

Shashikant Humane: The important thing is that one has to take the initiative and set an example and that one should be, you see, capable of sacrificing something from their own pocket so that others would follow. Correct? And the important thing is we individually, and with some associations - we have got so many associations in every district I believe - so the heads of the institutions should come forward, put their own efforts, their own money and work as examples for the people. And though this thing is for some short period, we have to keep in mind such things may come in the future also. For that, those associations or those progressive people from our community, should keep this thing in mind and start funding for such things.



Reverberation of COVID19 and 'essential service' workers


Daulat Siraswal

(SAVARI and Round Table India are doing a series to put together the Bahujan perspective on the Coronavirus pandemic)

daulat covid19Pradnya: Jai Bhim Daulat, How do you look at the pandemic and the ongoing lockdown? 

Daulat: Jai Bheem, Corona (covid19) is currently widespread in the world. We cannot deny the fact that in India, although it has fewer patients than other countries, the situation may still be worse in the days to come since it runs on a logic that “more tests mean more patients”. Its day to day outbreak is going to be unambiguously visible.

The first announcement regarding the lockdown was for 21 days, which ended on 14th April, however, it has again extended until 3rd May 2020. If the situation persists like this, we do not have any idea how it is going to be, if it is extended for an indefinite period we cannot predict what it will look like.


RSS’s Hogwash on Ambedkar

N. Sukumar and Shailaja Menon

(The following article is in response to Arun Anand’s (CEO of Indraprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra, an RSS affiliate) write-up in The Print (online 14th April 2020). We sent a mail on the same day to contest the false claims but there has been no response a week later.)

Quota Janaeu1

In the last few years, political exigencies have forced the RSS to widen its social base and go shopping for icons that would enable their socio-cultural agenda to flourish. From Narayana Guru and Ayyankali1 in Kerala to Rani Gaidinliu2 in Nagaland, the net has been cast wide. Amit Shah sought to reconfigure Onam as a brahmanical ‘vamana jayanti’ leading to an uproar in Kerala3. Similarly, the BJP’s overtures towards Tamil icons in giving saint Tiruvalluvar new attire with saffron robes, vibhuti and rudraksha caused a lot of ripples in the political arena4. Hence, one should not be surprised at the continuous efforts being made to appropriate one of the tallest leaders in modern India, B. R. Ambedkar-who always critiqued the religio-cultural politics of organizations like the RSS. The latest in this vein is “Why RSS considers Ambedkar as one of its own icons”5 published on Ambedkar’s birth anniversary-14th April 2020. The article is based on Dattopant Thengadi's reminiscences of Ambedkar as mentioned in his book- “Dr. Ambedkar aur Samajik Kranti ki Yatra”.


Is there a space for North-Eastern identity among students' politics in Indian Universities?


Thangminlal (Lalcha) Haokip

thangminlal lalcha haokipMy colleagues have often asked me why University students from the North East do not take an active part in students' politics in mainland Indian Universities. Often times, I would find myself unable to answer this inquiry. Perhaps, a convenient straitjacket reply could be that since a majority of these students are first-generation University attendees, they cannot bear the direct and indirect financial costs of political activism which may run foul of the administration eager to terminate their scholarships. It is also discouraged by the language barriers and the differences in cultural expression.

However, over a period of time, I have come to feel that this explanation is both inadequate and incomplete because it doesn't really address some core issues that revolve around mainland campus politics. I have developed a dislike to my own response as no one could truly be apolitical.


End the Lockdown


Naveen (Nijam) Gara

Naveen nijam garaIndia's tryst with COVID-19 Pandemic began with a Nationwide lockdown on March 25, 2020. The shock and awe specialist Prime Minister Narendra Modi approached the issue with the same theatrics that he displayed during demonetization. Events that unfolded ever since have shown the utter disregard and rather disdain for the poor that political leaders across India possess. It is almost as if these individuals are non-existent in the mainstream discourse.

Even as the horrific scenes of stranded daily wage laborers trying to exit Delhi in the immediate aftermath of this draconian lockdown remain freshly etched in our collective memory, equally horrendous images have emerged from Mumbai. The sudden, blanket shutdown of public transport is unthinkable in any country worthy of being called a democracy. The level of insensitivity on display smacks of sheer arrogance and dictatorial attitudes of the rulers. While the Prime Minister should bear moral responsibility, most Chief Ministers have also proven to be products of the same cloth with an utter lack of remorse.


Nomads are humans too


Dr. Narayan Bhosale

dr. narayan bhosalePeople from nomadic communities did not understand the precise meaning of this lockdown during the period of pandemic. If they did, it was already late; if it wasn't too late, then they were frustrated due to the helpless state it put them in. Nomadic communities have been stranded on the streets in various states, near petrol pumps, playgrounds, and public spaces after the announcement and implementation of the ongoing lockdown.

In India, the number of labourers and families migrating in the search of work is alarmingly high. The Economic Survey report shows that around nine million workers migrate from one state to another and five million workers migrate within the state every year. Population of people belonging to nomadic tribes in Maharashtra is 1 crore. Of this 1 crore, half migrate for work. Similarly, according to government reports, half of the total 15 crore Nomadic people in India migrate for work. These migrants have been travelling in order to cater to their most basic necessities--of food, clothing, shelter, and gainful employment. Some of these people from Nomadic tribes are seen to be employed in temporary situations, offering various services in the higher classes' settlements. Nomadic tribes' settlements are reduced to being labor providing hubs for the urban populations.


Caste as a social determinant of health inequalities in India

Dr. Sandip Medhe

sandip medheIntroduction

The gross disparities in health that are conspicuous at the interface of different social orders in India are not new, but had been neglected in the discourse on Indian public health. These disparities in provision of health services driven by social forces result in unequal health outcomes among different social groups within the society(Adams et al., 2018), particularly with regards to the vulnerable, marginalized and socially excluded castes and tribes in the Indian society. According to the Commission on Social Determinants of Health brought together by the World Health Organization, factors such as social exclusion, food, transport, and stress are accepted as important social determinants of health (Marmot, 2017). Thus, unequal distribution of privileges and resources between different social classes results in differential opportunities to access health services.

National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is a national five-yearly survey conducted in India, and is analogous to the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) done in other middle/low income countries. Analysis of disaggregated data procured from the NFHS has established that caste in India has been persistently acting as a pivotal determinant of inequalities in health outcomes, especially for the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), and Other Backward Classes (OBC) (Krishnan, 2000). Social exclusion, marginalization and discriminatory practices such as untouchability have become significant barriers to ensuring equitable access to essential health services such as primary healthcare, food security programs, maternal and reproductive health services, access to immunization. Such inequalities in health outcomes are the result of apathetic socio-political arrangements leading to avoidable but embodied inequalities in society (Krieger, 2012).


'Educate, Agitate, Organize' - Is it a Sequence or a Parallel Process?

Birendra Nag

birendra nagI could remember the early days of my engagement with Ambedkarite activism; I used to hear this quotation “Educate, Agitate and Organize” on Bhim Jayanti that my community in the Balangir district of the Odisha state used to celebrate every year on 14th April. At that time, I didn't even know the source  of this quotation: who might have said this, what it means so on and so forth. Further, when I ventured into different spaces of Ambedkarite engagement, both within the state and outside, most notably in Maharashtra, I came to understand different intricacies of the movement, people, and its deployment of language in understanding and fighting caste. One of the many intricacies was the concept of Educate, Agitate and Organize.


Spectacle of Crisis: Coronavirus pandemic and the disease of Casteism-Brahmanism in India


Subodh Kunwer

subodh kunwerHas the Corona virus pandemic become something other than a medical subject/disease? The handling of this pandemic brought many crises, events and spectacles to the fore. While on one side lives of people are being lost, on the other we are witnessing the theatrical, performative aspect of the pandemic. Jennifer Cooke in her book Legacies of Plague in Literature, Theory and Film, drawing from Antonin Artaud's 'The Theatre and the Plague',and Albert Camus' 'The State of Siege', focuses on the fact that the effect of plague [pandemic] has an inherent theatricality, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by many playwrights. This write up sure will be called as audacious, perverted and insolent. Let it be called so. We have the example of Antonin Artaud who viewed plague in his essay 'Theatre and the Plague' as a theatrical and, theatre as plaguelike in its spectacle and its physical effect. Albert Camus's play "The State of Siege" as a companion to his novel The Plague presents an analogy for dictatorship and fascism.


കോവിഡ്-19 പകർച്ചവ്യാധിയും ലോക്ഡൗണും : കേരള സമൂഹത്തിന്റെ മുന്നിലെ വെല്ലുവിളികൾ

രഘു ഇരവിപേരൂർ

(Round Table India is doing a series to put together the Bahujan perspective on the Coronavirus pandemic)

raghu eraviperurരാകേഷ് റാം എസ്: ഇന്ത്യയിൽ കോവിഡ്-19 ആദ്യ കേസ് തിരിച്ചറിഞ്ഞത് കേരളത്തിലാണ്. അതിനെതിരെ ഏറ്റവും കാര്യക്ഷമതയോടെ പ്രതികരിച്ചതും കേരളമാണ്. ആദ്യം തൊട്ടു ബോധവത്കരണമുണ്ടായിട്ടും പ്രവാസികളിൽ ചിലർ(കൂടുതലും അധികാരം കൈയ്യേറുന്നവരും അത് കൊണ്ട് തന്നെ നിയന്ത്രണങ്ങൾ ഒരിക്കലും പാലിക്കാൻ താല്പര്യമില്ലാത്തവരും) മുന്നറിയിപ്പുകൾ അവഗണിക്കുകയും ഹോം ക്വാറന്റൈന്‍ പാലിക്കാതെ സമൂഹത്തിൽ ഇറങ്ങി നടക്കുകയും അതിലൂടെ അസുഖം കൂടുതൽ പേർക്ക് പിടിപെടാൻ സാഹചര്യമുണ്ടാക്കുകയും ചെയ്തു. പക്ഷെ ആദ്യ ഘട്ടത്തിൽ തന്നെ പൊതു സമൂഹത്തിൽ കൂടുതൽ നന്നായി ഇതിനെ പറ്റി ബോധ്യമുണ്ടായി എന്ന് തോന്നുന്നു. ഇതിനെ പറ്റി താങ്കളുടെ നിരീക്ഷണങ്ങൾ എങ്ങനെയാണു?

രഘു ഇരവിപേരൂർ: ഒന്നാമത്, തലമുറകൾക്കു ശേഷമാണ് ലോകം ഇത്തരം അപ്രതീക്ഷിതവും മരണകരവുമായ സാംക്രമികരോഗാവസ്ഥയെ നേരിടുന്നത്. പ്രതിരോധത്തിനായി വാക്സിൻ പോലും കണ്ടു പിടിക്കാൻ കഴിയാത്ത ഒരു രോഗത്തിന്റെ മുന്നിൽ മരണത്തെ നിസ്സഹായതയോടെ നോക്കി നിൽക്കുന്ന ഒരു അപൂർവ്വ സന്ദർഭത്തെ ആണല്ലോ ലോകം നേരിടുന്നത്. ചൈനയിലും യൂറോപ്പിലും അടക്കം ലോകത്തെ പല രാജ്യങ്ങളിലും കൊറോണ വൈറസ് ഡിസീസ് (കോവിഡ്-19) പ്രത്യക്ഷപ്പെടുകയും വലിയ തോതിൽ മരണങ്ങൾ ഉണ്ടാവുകയും ചെയ്ത ആദ്യ ഘട്ടത്തിൽ ഇന്ത്യയിൽ ഈ രോഗം കടന്നു വന്നിട്ടുണ്ടായിരുന്നില്ല. ഇവിടെ സൂചിപ്പിച്ചപോലെ കേരളത്തിലാണ്, ഇന്ത്യയിൽ ആദ്യമായി കോവിഡ് പ്രത്യക്ഷപ്പെട്ടത്. വിദേശത്തു നിന്ന് എത്തിയ മലയാളികളിലാണ് അത് ആദ്യം കാണപ്പെടുന്നത്. അവരുമായി സമ്പർക്കത്തിൽ വന്നവരിലൂടെയാണ് സംസ്ഥാനത്തു പിന്നീടത് വ്യാപിച്ചത്.


Philosopher Beyond Caste: An Understanding of Ambedkar’s Idea of Environment and Nature



The entire human civilization is passing through the most painful and catastrophic tragedy of the 21st century. The pandemic ‘COVID-19’ has spread across the world and millions of human beings are suffering for their survival. This global health crisis has compelled us to think about the future of human civilization. Competitive capitalism and blind exploitation of nature have brought the world to the brink of danger. Globalization and modernization are rapidly capturing human emotions under their control. The hegemonic capitalist ideology is solely responsible for this crisis. In such a civilizational crisis, B.R. Ambedkar’s idea of humanity becomes highly relevant for the world.

In the academic discourses, Ambedkar has rarely been seen in the framework of the environment, as much as Gandhi and Nehru have drawn the attention of scholars. In a broader sense, this article explains why Ambedkar has not found a place in the contemporary canon of Indian environmentalists and nature writers. Though, Ambedkar has immensely contributed to the domain of environment and nature through his scholarly writings. Mukul Sharma argues that ‘Ambedkar’s engagement with the environment question has been relatively unexplored, even when his thoughts and interventions on nature, village, land, agriculture, water, community, industry, technology and science are some of the enduring issues of India’s environmental and political traditions.’


The COVID19 crisis: the perils of separating environmental health from human health


Pradnya Mangala 

(SAVARI and Round Table India are doing a series to put together the Bahujan perspective on the Coronavirus pandemic)

pradnya mangala ore Anu RamdasWhat is the global conversation about the climate/weather change as a result of the lockdown in most of the heavily industrialized countries?

Pradnya Mangala: Broadly there are two kinds of narratives around climate change/environment related to the coronavirus outbreak: Marxist and Western liberal perspectives.

1. From a Marxist environmental sociology perspective, economy and ecology are entangled in complex ways in capitalist social relations. Thus, the origin and spread of the virus is connected to the larger question of the political economy of the intensive agribusiness which has led to intrusion and exploitation of natural systems and wilderness in a manner in which the emergence of harmful pathogens has become a recurring phenomenon (Wallace, 2020; Foster, 2020). In other words, we can say that capitalism, through the rearing of animals on a large scale for profitmaking, has altered ecological conditions in ways that have contributed to the development of new forms of pathogenic diseases. This perspective helps us to situate the pandemic on a broader systemic level.


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