Hindu Nationalism and Brahmins

 

Yogesh Maitreya

maitreya yogesh 2It isn't an accident that the inventors and propagators of the concept of Hindutva, which later helped shape the consciousness or discourse of Hindu Nationalism, were all Brahmins. All hailed from the state of Maharashtra: V.D. Savarkar, Hedgewar, and M.S. Golwalkar.

Golwalkar was born in a brahmin family in Nagpur, Maharashtra, and in his early life he was infatuated with monastic life. He had anxiously tried hard to construct the notion of Hindutva, nation and nationality in his book 'We or our nationhood defined'. But to the logical minds, his narratives appeared only as obnoxiously castiest/brahminical propaganda, especially when it was studied in the comparative framework offered by the Indian constitution.

But, is the concept of Hindu nationalism a creation of only these few brahmins who were proponents or forerunners of RSS and its Parivar? The answer to this is a strong 'no'. Even the so-called national movement under the Congress was formed and led by brahmins. These brahmins later expanded into many different outfits - Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is one such outfit - both political and cultural, to create the subterfuge that they belong to different ideologies, or let's say parties. However, it was the beginning of the process of creating political, social and cultural confusion among dalit/bahujans and, impair their political/social/cultural/economic future.

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Will Guddu Rangeela prove to be a beginning?

 

Arvind Shesh

arvind sheshSo will the movie Guddu Rangeela prove to be a beginning of sorts?

Both the protagonists of the movie, Guddu and Rangeela, are Dalit. That is one of the most daring and special things about the movie. The notorious khap panchayats of Haryana, their barbaric decisions against inter-caste lovers and how they deal with such transgressions, all this is shown in the movie without inviting any strong negative reaction so far. This in itself is quite a big deal!

Love between couples of even the same castes and gotras has been dealt with barbarically by these khaps wherein they openly hang the lovers, order cruel punishments, kill brutally - all this has been portrayed to a certain extent in the movie. The main storyline, though, deals with the treatment meted out to lovers by these khaps. That is perhaps why the director Subhash Kapoor cautiously and intentionally chose the lead male character to be Dalit and from a Chamar caste and one of the female leads to be a Brahmin!

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Gokulraj: Victim of Planned, Coldblooded Honour Killing

 

Intellectual Circle for Dalit Action

(Tamil Nadu, Pondichery)

Dalit Youth Gokulraj was a Victim of Meticulously Planned Coldblooded Honour Killing

Fact finding report reveals the possibilities of such execution

Demands impartial probe by CBI

The 23 –year-old Dalit youth Gokul Raj of Omalur is a victim of cold blooded caste honour killing. A fact finding team comprising academicians and writers affiliated to Intellectual Circle for Dalit Actions (ICDA) visited Omalur town in Salem and Tiruchengode on July 4 and 5 to investigate the facts behind the murder and found possible leads which probed further could reveal the gruesome murder.

gokulraj student

 It shall be recalled that Gokulraj, an engineering graduate, whose beheaded body was found on a railway track near Pallipalayam in Namakkal district on July 23. The team started the investigation from an angle, how could a mere conversation between a Dalit boy and a dominant caste girl who were described as friends could lead to the decapitation of the boy? so it believed that there is much to probe and find out what could be the prime motive behind this murder.

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An Elegy to Sanskrit Pride

 

Reju George Mathew

reju george latestWhen external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj declares that Sanskrit has to be promoted to purify the minds and sanctify the world, one wonders what this 'purity' means and what the 'impure minds' will have to endure in our nation if they do not conform.

The pride or alleged pride that one has about Sanskrit in India has always troubled me for years. Initially, it was because of curiosity about the unknown language and its politics; now, it has become a disgust towards the respect it demands. This has forced me to put down a few ideas on Sanskrit pride, as celebrated by the right wing groups in India.

When the 2014 Jnanpith award winner, Bhalchandra Nemade, demands that English be banned from the Indian education system and banishes V.S. Naipaul and Salman Rushdie from any consideration of literary merit, he takes pride in Sanskrit. While discussions on Indian English writing might take us to questions of postcolonialism, the attempts to celebrate Sanskrit, especially in the manner that it happened recently in the Kendriya Vidyalayas where it replaced German, needs to be scrutinised at a deeper level.

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Caste and LGBT

 

Manish Gautam

Manish Gautam

Lately, I have been engaged in many discussions on online forums on the questions of caste and on the issues of being queer. The two topics, however, are discussed at their respective platforms, though it would be wrong to say that the two never overlap. This write-up is partly inspired from Sumit Baudh's Indian Express article1 and has come as a response to the questions of whether the two, anti-caste movements led by Dalit-bahujan people and the LGBT movements, can build a mutual understanding and solidarity. It is a difficult task to explore and identify the sites 'where' the two can build an understanding and to what degree. I, however, would like to do a simple exercise of juxtaposing the two and looking at the similarities/dissimilarities of the two groups to have an idea on how the two possibly interact.

Discrimination, Atrocities and Harassments

The fight by LGBT groups against discrimination occurs at two levels – the society and the state. The state interferes in the form of IPC section 377 that criminalises any sexual activity which does not produce children. This peculiar section of the IPC, though unequivocally applicable to heterosexual people, is underlined by LGBT groups as more discriminatory towards them. The history of this perception is very recent when a Non Governmental Organisation working with AIDS patients alleged that some of the patients faced difficulties to access proper healthcare because they indulged in MSM activities, hence vulnerable to be charged under IPC 3772.

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Khairlanji massacre protests 2006: Remembering the outrage of Ambedkarite youth

 

Pranali Garud

pranaliCaste is a disease that affects people of India in different ways. It treats its victims differently from its beneficiaries, but the preamble of the constitution of India endorses an undifferentiated fraternity. Though we are all Indians, caste does not allow us to live with the single identity of being Indian. You can find people of assigned different social status - inferior to superior - depending upon their caste. Dr. Ambedkar argues "People divided into thousands of castes can never become a nation". Caste divides people by birth, and until you die that disease does not allow you to free yourself. Fatal diseases such as cancer, leprosy etc., can be treated or controlled with proper medication, but the caste disease has no treatment because the pride or shame of a particular caste sticks to it throughout its life. Hence, we are divided as a nation.

The upper castes form the privileged elite who enjoy ownership of land and therefore are more powerful economically, politically and socially. They dominate Indian society, more particularly in the villages, and hence village social structure is the biggest hurdle for Dalits in India. The term 'Dalit' itself divides them from the upper castes and so their houses are also outside the village as they are considered impure, and some people tell them, "You must have done something really bad in the past, therefore you are suffering from untouchability." Upper castes have separate wells and temples which no dalit is allowed to access. There are still some places in India where Dalits drink water from separate containers, are not allowed access to education, or to walk on the street with shoes. The untouchables are called by different names i.e. Bhangi, Mahar, Chamar and are also a target of derogatory labeling because they are seen as dirty people. In the movie Fandry they are called as fandry (Pigs). Dalits work under the privileged upper castes, on their farms, in the villages, as daily wage labours; they are forced to do low-grade jobs.

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Ambedkar helped me embrace the ‘emotional’ within the rational

 

Akhil Kang

akhil kangI think I have lost count of the number of times I have felt immensely guilty of getting what I have got because of my caste. I remember sitting in my university classes, people looking directly at my face and saying 'some lower castes' individuals do not deserve to be here, because technically they are economically better than even many upper caste brahmins. I did not know how to respond then. I was fairly new to a law school environment, a big reputed one at that. I was extremely intimidated by my peers around me, who knew how to spell it right with their superbly pruned dictions. I stayed quiet. It was only later I realized how deeply I have internalized the shame that I ought to feel about where I come from, how apologetic I should be based on people's assumptions about my competency and constantly justify my position of being where I am.

There have been innumerable times when my batch mates had told me how I 'never looked like one', simultaneously and not-so-subtly, pointing at my lower class, Dalit batch mate who hails from Bihar: a boy who according to them clearly fits the criteria of 'poor SC boy who needs the reservation'. How much it pained me to hear that. I come from an untouchable caste of Chamars from Jalandhar. I have been extremely privileged to be born in a family where my grandfather stepped out of his father's occupation and earned enough to pay for my father's education who in turn became a civil servant. Does that mean that I should feel sorry about an upper class, upper caste person's accusations of my non-credibility of having reached a place which is so conveniently appropriated by men and women of unquestioned privilege? Was that unease I saw in their eyes when I wouldn't just silently suffer the multiple disadvantages that were thrown at me?

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The collective dilemma of the left, right and centre: What to do with Ambedkar?

 

Anoop Kumar

(His speech at the 'The Colonization of Ambedkar: Caste Politics behind Roy-Navayana's Appropriation of Annihilation of Caste ~ A Discussion' held on 21st December, 2014, at University of Mumbai)

mcoa 27

My name is Anoop and I am not an academician or a very accomplished speaker so please excuse me if I am not very coherent in what I am trying to share with you. This issue has been emotionally very draining for some of us, till now, till today. There are a lot of arguments which have come up, for and against. So, I will try to speak my own point of view. I am not representing here all the writers of Round Table India. There are more than thirty writers on Round Table India coming from different parts of the country and different spheres of life who have written on the issue. Many of them are students, some journalists, some plain activists from across the country.

 So, I am not here trying to represent the entire gamut of arguments which have come up in this debate but I will try to put forward what I felt when I saw this (news of the launch of Navayana's edition of AoC) on 27th February, probably. I would like to give a little context to it because otherwise this whole debate is sought to be reduced to us opposing her just because she is an upper caste woman. No, it was never that. If you look at our arguments, we have never said this. So, this whole debate gets decontextualised and pushes towards misjudging what we are trying to say. For us, it is not just something that has got to do only with Arundhati Roy or even S. Anand. There is a history behind it and that is what I want to contextualise.

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Inclusion or Illusion: My experiences at the World Conference on Youth


Swati Kamble

swati kambleAs I read the article 'India denies 'caste' as factor of gender inequality' by Meena Menon, in The Hindu, I was reminded of my experiences at the World Conference on Youth. Below is my account of the incidence.

The World Conference on Youth started on 6th May 2014 with a grand inauguration ceremony in Hambantota, the birth place of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. This was the first ever global conference on youth to have been organized in Asia. It was a four and a half hour long journey from Colombo city to Hambantota, with enchanting scenic beauty of the countryside and the never-ending clean beaches. Over a thousand youth delegates from across 169 countries made their enthusiastic presence in this event. Apart from that, many youth represented their NGOs. Official delegates from Youth Ministries of several countries were present for the negotiations on the declaration document that was going to be the outcome of the World Conference on Youth. An International Youth Task Force (IYTF), appointed by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development of Sri Lanka, was advising the Government of Sri Lanka on preparations for the conference.

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Unequal rights: Freedom, Equality, Life, and Liberty of citizens and “others”

 

Hany Babu

hany babuIntroduction

The way in which certain classes of people including Dalits, Adivasis, Minorities and the disabled persons are made invisible or marginalised in the mainstream discourse has been often talked about. Mainstream discourse also pays scant attention and there is hardly any public outrage when Dalit students are driven to suicides in the so-called premier institutions, when extreme caste atrocities are unleashed on Dalits and Adivasis, when tribals and minorities are raped, killed or are subjected to prolonged incarceration under the pretext of national security. However the recent controversy regarding the derecognition of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) in IIT Madras has been successful in raising an outrage. For instance, an online petition regarding this was able to gather more than 7500 signatures in less than a week's time. While this could be read as the result of an increasing acceptance of the issues of the marginalised sections of the society, there may be another dimension to this sudden turn of events.

This piece is an attempt to decipher the sudden public outrage caused by events like the derecognition of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle as opposed to caste atrocities or discrimination. The claim made is that the public outrage is generated only when a certain kind of rights get violated. At one level, we could think that it is when the rights of the dominant groups are violated that the public outrage is generated. However, the outrage against the derecognition of the APSC belies this. In order to understand this phenomenon, a distinction between the kinds of rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India is made use of, and a connection is drawn between the kind of right that gets violated and public outrage. In a nutshell, one can say that our Constitution guarantees certain rights to all "persons" and certain others only to "citizens" - the former being of a more basic type that are available to all human beings as opposed to the latter.

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The root causes of racism against North Easterners

 

Haineube Newme

HaiRacial discrimination against North Easterners by the Non-North Easterners (I will use N & Ns hereafter) in India's metropolitan cities is paradoxical. This article will focus only on its root causes. In a survey released by The Washington Post, India was ranked among one of the most racist countries in the world today. What can be the root cause? What can be the remedies to resolve the issue? The main root causes are, inequality of opportunities, irresponsiveness of the native state's government, social profiling, and problem of mind-sets.The impetus for my writing on this topic emerged from the need to analyse the root causes of racism which will give the heads of the government and the governing institutions of the North-eastern states as well as the Centre to think deeper and step forward to deal with it practically.

Generally, racism is the belief that another person is less than human because of the skin colour, language, customs, traditions and place of birth or any factor that supposedly reveals the basic nature of that person. Whenever it is agreed that racism is present, it is usually agreed that something ought to be done to eliminate or lessen it. Thus this is an expectation that, if people or the institutions understand they are agents of racism, they will change their unjust behaviour; and if others understand they are victims of racism, they will be better able to resist injustice. However, the issue of racism between the N & Ns cannot simply be blamed on the basic nature of a person like skin colour, language, culture, traditions etc. but it is rooted indirectly in 'institutional racism'. The North Eastern regions have been neglected economically and socially. The 'institutional racism' can be in the form of ineffectiveness of the functioning of the political system and the problems of the social structure that lead to lack of development, poor education, or politicization of political functions in the regions; which gradually carry along the line racial differences to make racial discrimination more intense. According to James M. Jones, 'institutional racism' refers to the intentional or unintentional manipulations of toleration of institutional policies that unfairly neglect the opportunities of particular groups of people. Thus, I assert that it is institutional reasons that directly or indirectly influence the recently emerging issue of racism in India.

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The eternal relevance of Dr. Ambedkar and his philosophy

 

Sirra Gagarin

Gagarin S"Time is infinite and the earth is vast. There will be born a man who will appreciate what I say" (Bhavabhuti) is the hope expressed by Babasaheb Ambedkar referring to his mission and philosophy. In India primordial loyalties are too strong to recognise the intrinsic worth of an individual unless s/he belongs to one's own caste/religion, which he derided.

It is in this background that the work and philosophy of Ambedkar and its universal and eternal relevance should be treated. Nothing – socio-economic, religio-cultural politico-national and international - escaped the Doctor's scalpel. Whether the solutions he offered are agreeable to his or the present or future generation(s) or not, none of them could/can shy away from taking his questions seriously. In fact, their relevance is eternal and demands answers from every generation. The truth that his is a multifaceted personality - scholar, social revolutionary, economist, constitutionalist, women's liberator, democrat, prolific writer, journalist, teacher, student of many subjects and prophet - is indisputable. However, it is not possible to deal with all the aspects here, so, I propose to touch three areas, i.e., 'Sacredness of Human Personality', 'Women's liberation' and 'Democracy as a State of Mind'.

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