Why the Sangh needs Ram Nath Kovind


Mangesh Dahiwale

mangesh dahiwaleThe President of India is a ceremonial post. It is often compared with the "rubber stamp". But as the head of state, it is also a prestigious post. The orders are issued in his name and proclamations bear his name. He is the Supreme Commander in Chief of the armed forces. The post is powerful in different ways and the President of India is elected by the electorate college constituted by all the members of the state legislative assemblies and members of the houses of Parliament.

By all calculations, the NDA has an upper hand over the UPA. The candidate nominated by the NDA is sure to win the Presidential polls. Hence, soon-to-be His Excellency, Kovind, is set to become India's President. Mr. Kovind is a Dalit. But like many other castes, his caste also been put in different categories in different states. His caste comes under SC category in the state of UP, and the same caste comes under the OBC category in the state of Gujarat. In the state of Gujarat, the Kolis constitute 18 percent of Gujarat population. Kolis in Gujarat are an interesting category for various reasons. Mr. Kovind is the President of Akhil Bhartiya Koli Samaj.


यूजीसी के इस फैसले से बदल जाएगा भारत में उच्च शिक्षा का परिदृश्य


अरविंद कुमार और दिलीप मंडल

'नीयत' यानी इंटेंशन अगर सही नहीं हो तो भारतीय दर्शन परंपरा में महिमामंडित 'न्याय' और 'नीति' का समागम भी समतामूलक आदर्श समाज की संरचना नहीं कर सकता।

 विश्वविद्यालय अनुदान आयोग ने 'राष्ट्रीय पात्रता परीक्षा (नेट)' में एससी, एसटी, ओबीसी व विकलांग वर्ग को दिये जाने वाले आरक्षण के नियम में भारी बदलाव किया है। नए नियम के अनुसार अब केवल 6 प्रतिशत कैंडिडेट्स को ही नेट परीक्षा में सफल घोषित किया जाएगा, और उसके बाद विषयवार रिज़र्वेशन दिया जाएगा।

syam phd

 यूजीसी ने ऐसा नियम, केरल हाई कोर्ट के जनवरी में दिये गए उस निर्णय के अनुपालन में बनाया है, जिसमें कोर्ट ने आरक्षित समूह के कैंडिडेट्स को दिये जाने वाले कट आफ मार्क्स में छूट को अनारक्षित वर्ग के कैंडिडेट्स के खिलाफ भेदभाव पूर्ण करार दिया था। हाई कोर्ट के इस निर्णय के अनुपालन में यूजीसी ने एक कमेटी बनाई है, जिसने पिछले दो दशक के अपने डाटा के अध्ययन में पाया है कि पिछले दो दशक से लगभग 68-92 प्रतिशत आरक्षित वर्ग के कैंडिडेट्स ने नेट की परीक्षा पास की है, जबकि सभी वर्गों को मिला कर औसतन 5.5-6 प्रतिशत कैंडिडेट ही नेट परीक्षा पास करते हैं।

 ऐसे में इस कमेटी ने सुझाव दिया है कि सबसे पहले कुल 6 प्रतिशत कैंडिडेट्स को ही नेट परीक्षा में पास होने दिया जाये, और उसके बाद उस 6 प्रतिशत में चयनित कैंडिडेट्स में से ही कैंडिडेट ढूंढकर विषयवार नेट पास करने का सर्टिफिकेट दिया जाये। इस मामले में केन्द्रीय रिज़र्वेशन प्रणाली पहले 6 प्रतिशत के चयन पर लागू ना करके, केवल विषयवार लिस्ट तैयार करने में लागू की जाएगी। यह पूरा मामला उत्तर प्रदेश के त्रिस्तरीय आरक्षण के मामले जैसा दिखता हैं।


'The Manu Smriti mafia still haunts us': A speech by a Pakistani Dalit Rights Leader


Surendar Valasai

Probably the first comprehensive political statement for Dalit rights in Pakistan framed in the vocabulary of Dalitism was given in 2007 by Surendar Valasai, who is now the Media Cell Incharge, Bilawal House of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Although Dalit activists have been agitating and struggling in Pakistan since last 30 years, their articulation of Dalit issues remained confused and limited to social activism. Surendar Valasai was the one, along with Dr. Khatumal Jeewan (another PPP leader) who brought Dalitism on the macro political scene. Dalit leadership of PPP is the typical example of how the Dalit case can be projected within a political party; a party which has become the symbol of waderaism, landlordism and the upper caste hegemony. When any issue related to minority rights, human rights or Hindus is raised, these Dalit leaders try their best to argue essentially for Dalit rights despite all political compromises in a political milieu which is nothing but a political system based on caste democracy.

surendar valasai bilawal bhutto

Surendar Valasai, who is also founder-President of Scheduled Castes Federation of Pakistan, delivered a speech on July 1, 2007 in a workshop at the Central Secretariat, Pakistan People's Party, Karachi, in which he elaborated upon Dalit issues. I share here the text of that speech.



Vaishya vs. Vaishya


Bobby Kunhu

kunhuSince Amit Shah exclaimed on June 9th at Raipur, "Aur isi liye Mahatma Gandhi ne durandesi ke saath, bahut chatur baniya tha woh, usko maloom tha aage kya hone waala hai, usne azadi ke baad turant kaha tha, Congress ko bikher dena chahiye" (Translation: and this is why Mahatma Gandhi with much foresight, and he was like a clever Baniya who knew what was to come, suggested after independence the Congress be disbanded) – a storm has been raised – essentially by the Congress. Many otherwise well-informed and well-meaning people also have condemned Amit Shah because they are shocked that someone could refer to Gandhi in non-deferential terms.


Babasaheb’s Statue Vandalized: Bengal’s Realm of Caste maliciousness


 Pinak Banik

On the midnight of 29th May, a marble bust of Babasaheb Ambedkar was found disfigured. This statue was installed 17 years ago inside the Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Sishu Uddyan (Children’s park) at Shayamaprasad Nagar, Nimta, North Dumdum, Ward num. 9. The bust was found by joggers the next morning in the sewer drain beside the park. 15 days have passed since then and no administrative intervention has yet been conducted in this regard. A FIR was filed on 4th June and till date, there is neither any information provided by the police regarding the perpetrators behind this act of casteist infraction nor any clarification of the details of the atrocious affair. Ambedkarite individuals and organizations are agitating in various places around the region since the very day of the incident. Some Bahujan journalists have already reported this on few Bangla dailies, web portals and outrage is spreading on social media.  

 pinak statue4


Gandhi's Caste and Guha's Upper Caste Identity Politics


Nidhin Shobhana

n shobhanaIn today's editorial page of Indian Express, Ramachandra Guha has written an essay by the title 'Does Gandhi have a Caste?'[1] In the essay, Guha tries really hard to establish how Gandhi swept against caste, weaved against caste, sanitized toilets against caste, so on and so forth. He also quotes extensively from a White Jewish friend of Gandhi to argue how he was a Vaisya, Brahmin, Kshatriya and Shudra in his actions, all at the same time. What is interesting is how the White Jew and Guha seem happy with the basic Varna scheme and its fixed definitions for Brahmins (Teacher), Kshatriya (Protector), Vaisya (Entrepreneur) and Shudra (Servant).

If we were to apply Kancha Illiah's definitions to the Varna Scheme, a Brahmin would be a 'Spiritual Fascist', Vaisya would be a 'Social Smuggler' and Shudras/ Ati-Shudras/ Adivasis would be 'unpaid teachers, scientists, economists, social doctors, engineers and food producers'. So can we say that Gandhi was a spiritual fascist and a social smuggler and a food producer at the same time? A difficult proposition indeed.

Dr. B.R.Ambedkar in his reply to Gandhi in the aftermath of Annihilation of Caste (AoC) points out that the Varna Scheme, in whatever form, will degenerate into or produce castes leading to practices of caste-supremacy and untouchability.


Archiving the Complex Genealogies of Caste and Sexuality: An Interview with Dr. Anjali Arondekar


Anjali Arondekar

This interview emerged as a series of email exchanges between Rohan Arthur and Dr. Anjali Arondekar who works on the Gomantak Maratha Samaj archives, following Rohan's tribute essay on Kishori Amonkar titled Kishori Amonkar: Assertion, Erasure, Reclamation. The interview was conducted with inputs from James Michael and Akshay Pathak.

kalvant amonkar

Can you describe the historical origins of the Gomantak Maratha Samaj, its bifurcation into the Naik Maratha Samaj and Nutan Maratha Samaj? Most importantly, can you talk about the Samaj's complex relationship with OBC classification? Some news reports suggest that the Samaj did not want to be classified as OBC. Does this have something to do with the caste constituency of the Samaj? Was/Is the Samaj being ideologically driven by the relatively more affluent castes within its fold? What do the other lesser-privileged castes within the fold think of this conflictual relationship with the classification?

First, let me begin with some broad historical information, and then I'll get to the more weighty and thorny question of how caste mutates as an attachment within different regional formations of the collectivity. My sense (from now having worked in the Gomantak Maratha Samaj archives for over a decade) is that its history is an open secret (to borrow a phrase from sexuality studies!). Often referred to as Bharatatil ek Aggressor Samaj (an aggressive community in India), this collectivity is routinely lauded (by the left and the right in India) for its self-reform and progress. From the immortal Mangeshkar sisters (Lata and Asha), to the first chief minister of independent Goa, Dayanand Bandodkar, there are few sectors of Indian society where the presence of Samaj members cannot be felt. In other words, we celebrate the Gomantak Maratha Samaj's (henceforth the GMS) success as a collectivity, even as we disavow or simply erase the very histories of sexuality that produce its success in the first place. The recent passing of Kishori Amonkar is a case in point. While she has been memorialized as the stalwart musician and pioneer that she was, most of the articles I have read about her routinely elide her relationship to the GMS. Even when that relationship is cited (as it has been in the pages of this site as well), it is cast in the usual language of tragedy –- calling on readers to remember her as an OBC, via an iconography of loss and paucity. I have always found such tragic recuperations of the GMS troubling as the history I know, have studied, and indeed lived (as a member of GMS myself) speaks to more complex genealogies of caste and sexuality. Kishoritai, for example, was a very visible and supportive member of the Samaj, and I myself remember attending many Samaj functions in which she participated and or sang. In fact, the most recent monthly publication of the GMS (the Gomant Sharada) celebrates her many contributions and significance to the GMS in lively and joyful terms. The challenge here is how do we tell a history of caste, gender and sexuality that is not always a history of loss and erasure?


Mission Impossible: RSS Goal of Hindu Rashtra by 2023


Mangesh Dahiwale

mangesh dahiwaleIt has become clear recently that the RSS/BJP is making its agenda open. The agenda is to make India a Hindu nation by 2025 to mark 100 years of foundation of the RSS. One of the outfits of the RSS, Hindu Janajagriti Samiti (HJS), the offshoot of infamous Sanatan Sanstha founded by Pandurang Athawale is holding a seminar to this effect: the point of discussion is how to make India a Hindu country. The readers who might be unfamiliar with Sanatan Sanstha should know that this is the terrorist organisation that gunned down Dabholkar, Pansare, and Kalburgi. It claimed the responsibility of the killings. This organisation brainwashes the youths and makes them terrorists.

 What would the Hindu Rashtra look like?

 When the RSS/BJP talks about Hindu nation, they ultimately talk about the rules of the Smriti, particularly Manu Smriti. They abhor the idea of India for all. For them, India belongs to the Brahmins, it was a dying wish of Tilak that he wanted the rule of the Brahmins back. He opposed the rights of the OBCs and SCs tooth and nail. The Hindu Rashtra will be run by the deep state in the form of RSS. Actually, though on the papers India is not a Hindu Rashtra, in practice, it is a Hindu Rashtra. The RSS is right at the centre of all powers. It is running the Government and it provides a steel frame to further its hidden agenda.


बाबासाहिब की विरासत


ललित कुमार (Lalit Kumar)

lalit kumarभारत रत्न डा. भीमराव अम्बेडकर का एक प्रसिद्ध कथन है जिस तरह मनुष्य नश्वर हैं. उसी तरह विचार भी नश्वर हैं. एक विचार को प्रचार-प्रसार की ज़रुरत होती है, जैसे कि एक पौधे को पानी की. नहीं तो दोनों मुरझा कर मर जाते हैं.ये इस देश की और खास कर उस दबे कुचले अश्प्रिश्य समाज की विडम्बना हि कही जायेगी कि जिन डा. अम्बेडकर को अमेरिका के पूर्व राष्ट्रपति श्रीमान ओबामा ये कह कर याद करते हैं कि अगर डा. अम्बेडकर हमारे यहां जन्मे होते तो हम उन्हें सूर्य कह कर पुकारते, जिन्हें विश्व प्रसिद्ध कोलम्बिया विश्व विध्यालय के अब तक के 100 शीर्ष विध्यर्थियो में स्थान प्राप्त है, उनके विचारों की बहुमूल्य विरासत को भारत में उसी तरह मर जाने के लिये छोड़ दिया गया जैसे एक पौधे को बिना पानी के अपनी ही मौत मरने के लिये छोड़ दिया जाता है. ये इस देश की उस एक चौथाई आबादी का कैसा दुर्भाग्य है जो डा. भीमराव अम्बेडकर को श्रद्धा से बाबासाहिब कहती है, अपना मसीहा, अपना भगवान मानकर पूजती तो है लेकिन मानसिक दासता, सामाजिक और आर्थिक असमानता, शोषण और अत्यचार को धूल चटा कर रख देने उनके विचारों की शक्ति से बहुदा अनभिज्ञ है.


Understanding the Intersections of Gender and Caste Discrimination in India


Kamna Sagar

kamna sagar 1The caste framework in India has stood out as the biggest element of social stratifications. Caste, class and gender are indistinguishably associated, they speak with and overlap each other. Numerous parts of the human condition are profoundly influenced by the stratified examples of rank framework. Alongside Gender stratifications that characterize numerous social relations, caste based position framework is profoundly established in numerous parts of our life.

The Caste development is a part of the social structure that goes before Independence. It is an express arrangement of separation in the administration of the mastery of financial assets, social power etc. Caste capacities as standard law combined with a socially overwhelming confidence in its 'truth'. Extensively talking there are three frameworks having an effect on everything in my mapping: Caste development, class structure and the state. I have portrayed each of them as indicated by their belongings as far as social inclination, personal involvement and working of the state.


Caste, Shambuka and Marginalized Reinterpretations of The Ramayana


Emma Leiken

 Emma Leiken profile.jpgA tapasvi is to be venerated, whoever it may be. ~ Kuvempu, (Shudra Tapasvi)

For many staunch devotees of Rama within the Hindu tradition, the Shambuka incident within The Ramayana is an illegitimate part of the canon. This is the case, because for many, the Uttarakanda of Valmiki's standard Ramayana telling (which contains this episode) is an interpolation – a non-sacred addition to the text added by a subsequent author. Attributing the writing of the Uttarakanda to a later and unknown author allows many to circumvent issues of caste in readings of The Ramayana.

Likewise, those devotees who go off of Tulsidas's Hindi re-telling, The Ramcaritmanas: Ocean of the Deeds of Rama, do not address the Shambuka incident at all, as it is only present in Valmiki. Despite these loopholes, if we are to acknowledge the legitimate place of the Shambuka episode in the ever-evolving Ramayana tradition, we find ourselves having to grapple with caste and its implications as they relate to the epic. In the traditional Shambuka incident, a Brahmin comes to King Rama, weeping over the unprompted death of his son. The Brahmin then declares that his son would not have died prematurely had King Rama been ensuring that each subject was performing his or her proper varnasrama-dharma (caste-specific duty or ritual profession). Ultimately, a sage named Narada explains to Rama that indeed, a deviation from dharma has taken place. A Shudra is transgressing his varnasrama-dharma by practicing tapas[1] deep in the forest. When Rama finds Shambuka in the forest practicing asceticism and learns that he is infact, a Shudra, Rama beheads him. In this telling, the moment Rama beheads Shambuka, the Brahmin's child is restored to life. This is the original telling of the Shambuka incident in Valmiki's Uttarakanda.[2]


The Piano Man outrage: Calling out casteist mentality in elite circles


Jyotsna Siddharth

jyotsna 3Them and Us

I, me, mine, we, us, ours
You, them, they, theirs, those people.

"It's just a band name" is what the tombstone should read when the Calgary post-punk band, Viet Cong, finally decides to put the offensive and self-confessed dumb band name to rest. It was those exact words from lead singer and bassist Matt Flegel that revealed their flippant attitude towards the Vietnamese community and their complaints that detail how the name is a reminder of the atrocities committed by the real VC. It also convinced a concert promoter to cancel their show at Oberlin College earlier this year."1

This piece is centred around an event at The Piano Man, a popular jazz club in Delhi. For those who are unaware, the club hosted a music band's event called Bhangijumping. Bhangi is a lower caste engaged in manual scavenging practice in India. When brought to the notice, the owner of the club shushed it as unintentional and covered it as "art and supporters of artistic expression." The issue escalated into a series of exchanges via social media arguing that this was a casteist slur with serious connotations, causing humiliation to the dalit community.2


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