Maoist presence in Kerala – Beyond revolutionary folklorism


K K Baburaj

baburajAre Maoists, as pointed out by many, making it easier for the government to suppress people's protests in Kerala? Or are they helping the government bury the struggle for existence of the marginalised? Can Maoist attacks sway the opinion of the people against the government? Does Maoist presence help re-establish the government in power, one which is indifferent and lethargic in solving grave issues of the people and has lost its image due to alleged corruption of massive proportions, as 'protector de patriarch'?

 Maoism fundamentally believes that existing civil mode, as a whole, is an instrument of class oppression. Going by this, the government is only a mechanism, to watch over through surveillance cameras and do internal policing of the unrest that flares up among the people due to class conflicts, and suppress it. According to Maoists, all welfare measures of the government are smokescreens intended to help the corporates, and education is just an exercise to carve agents of government administration. They also believe that freedom of speech, social ethics, or collective life of people are articulations of governmental supremacy and hence bear no greater importance than the imagination of a wishful thinker. The people, as we know, are in continuous fight with the government to improve their living conditions, and Maoists creep in, find hideouts among these people and try to expand their territory and strength. Maoism, in short, does not acknowledge democracy as a mode of administration or even a lifestyle. They are elements of Marxist fundamentalism that could regenerate anywhere, anytime. Though Gandhiji is their established enemy, the real obstacle on their way is Ambedkar, the vibrant source of modern democratic thoughts in India. 


Goebbelsian Doublespeak: B. R. Ambedkar and the RSS

Dr. N. Sukumar


Historically, the philosophical roots of the RSS can be located in German National Socialism and the former has constantly strived to live up to the ideals of its mentors. This is best illustrated when the RSS indulges in Goebbelsian doublespeak to further its exclusivist nationalism. A lie spoken repeatedly becomes the truth - the appropriation of Babasaheb Ambedkar into the pantheon of 'nationalist' heroes reveals the political frustration of the RSS to make inroads into the Dalit/Adivasi/Moolnivasi mindscapes. Nathuram Godse physically eliminated Gandhi and the RSS is striving to ideologically annihilate Ambedkar. This article strives to deconstruct the issue of Panchjanya (April 19th 2015) and the special issue of Organiser on the 125th birth anniversary of Babasaheb which testify to the ideological vacuum and the urgency to 'create' new idols by the Sangh Parivar. The focus is on the engagement with the religious ideas espoused by these journals and their contradictions with Ambedkar's philosophy. In the process, it is assumed that the marginalized groups exhibit a tabula rasa, lacking agency and remain mired in dystopia. Ever since Eklavya's thumb, the brahmanical forces have sought to hijack history and self-hood of the oppressed communities.

The model state, Gujarat has long been considered the social laboratory for Hindutva. Jan Breman1 has analyzed the well-entrenched nature of the Hindutva movement and its predecessors in Gujarat, strongly opposed to communal harmony and to the design of society as a melting pot of diverse and open-ended social segments. The mobilisation of low and intermediate castes to participate in the activities of the Sangh parivar organisations in the last two decades has broadened the base of Hindu fundamentalism as a social-political force.

ambedkar and brahminism

The price these previously denigrated segments have to pay for their acceptance within the Hindutva fold is their willingness to express antagonism to Muslims as members of the religious minority and, in brutal acts of confrontation, to do the dirty work of cleansing on behalf of their high-caste brothers and sisters. The dynamics of inclusion and exclusion are intricately interwoven2. The battle for the hearts and minds of the dalits has undergone a tectonic shift - from their physical labour to their cultural/religious subservience. One of the most revered icons of modern India - who sought to unravel the hegemony of religion and culture over the people, Babasaheb Ambedkar, has been given a 'makeover' by the Hindutva spin doctors.


Onam for Adivasis: Celebration of exclusion, betrayal and exploitation?


Narayanan M Sankaran

(Translated from Malayalam by Joseph Antony)

narayanan sankaran'Onam is the National festival of Malayalis'. It is a sentence one learns or is rather made to learn to write and speak from school days onwards. During my childhood, and for many years after that, Onam stood for exciting times for the sole reason that it meant a few days of leave from school during which one could roam hither and thither. Onam never appealed to me as a cultural festival simply because none of the symbols and myths associated with it had any connection with the traditions and beliefs of the community I am a part of. I have felt my community had been always side-lined by the Kerala society, as if it were an outlier to culture and civilization.

The nostalgic myth associated with Onam, as far as we are concerned, is a story of disappropriation and slavery. Thus, whenever I hear that Onam is the cultural festival of all and sundry in Kerala, I feel a certain discomfort: How did Onam, a festival observed by a select few, become the festival of everyone? If it were indeed everyone's festival, why was it celebrated with all pomp and glory at a time when thirty odd Adivasis died of starvation in Palakkad and Wayanad during one Onam season? Does it not go to show that Adivasis are not a part of Kerala society? What we can see here is the blatant imposition of a savarna festival on others under the garb of secularism by the savarna society of Kerala.


Seshachalam massacre: Murder as state policy


Twenty Adivasi, OBC and Dalit workers from Tamil Nadu were brutally killed by Andhra Pradesh police on April 7, 2015, in the Seshachalam forest region of Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh under the pretext that they were smuggling red sanders logs, and were shot down in an 'encounter'.

A fact-finding team comprising of researchers and activists from EFLU, Osmania University, University of Hyderabad and Kula Nirmoolana Porata Samithi (KNPS), along with Youth For Social Justice members from Coimbatore visited the site of massacre in Chittoor, AP on the 11th and 12 of April, 2015 (See video reports by Dalitcamera Ambedkar here and here).

A press meet was later held at Coimbatore Press Club on 21 April, 2015, to condemn the staged killings by AP police with backing from Chandrababu Naidu government. The meeting was organised by advocate Paneerselvam of Youth For Social Justice. Dr. Ravichandran Bathran of Dalitcamera Ambedkar, who was involved in the fact-finding team and in helping to organise the meeting in Coimbatore, recorded and broadcast the meeting live on the Dalitcamera Ambedkar Youtube channel.

Those present at the meeting included: Advocate Paneerselvam, Advocate Garkey (both from Youth for Social Justice) Mr. Ibrahim (of Welfare Party of India), Mr. Velmurugan (Leader of Tamilar Valvurimai Katchi), Mr. Thamilarasu and Mr. C. R. Bijoy (Peoples Union of Civil Liberties).

Mr. Duddu Prabhakar, veteran human rights activist from KNPS, Andhra Pradesh, was also a part of the fact finding team. The following is the text of his speech at the press meet. It was translated from Telugu by Dharma Teja



Hatred in the belly


Dalit Camera: Through Un-Touchable Eyes

Joopaka Subhadra, poet, writer, and women's rights activist, was one of the key speakers at the 'Democratic Debate on Appropriation of Ambedkar's Writings' held on April 10, 2014, in Hyderabad. The following text features her intervention at the debate.

180 pages. When I read that, what I felt was, she had been hoarding up a heap of all kinds of news stories. Is there such a need? She talks about Malala, in the very beginning, and so on. Instead of talking about matters related to annihilation of caste, her efforts actually increase the intensity of pain caused by caste. Our pain. Only if you are an untouchable will you understand that pain.

'Don't come close to me, stay away'. When they pour drinking water for you from a distance saying, stay away! That pain is of many kinds. In the villages, it is direct, naked, in cities, it is polished, clothed. In the villages, you've 'chaakali' (dhobi) doctors and 'mangali' (barber) teachers. Whether they are doctors or teachers, whatever they might be, for them there is only caste.


Facebook or Fascistbook? Speak up for Dilip Mandal!


A couple of days ago, Facebook disabled the account of senior bahujan journalist and writer Dilip C. Mandal, without any explanation. Below is an English translation of the statement issued by Mr. Mandal through email, followed by the original note in Hindi.

Round Table India strongly condemns this fascist act by Facebook and demands that his account be reactivated immediately. Speak up for Dilip Mandal!  


dilip mandal india today 1

I have no complaints against those who made a fake profile in my name and are writing stuff on it. All that is like juvenile behaviour, albeit of those who have just grown up physically. Those adults in diapers, who are making a mockery of the idea of discussion and debate – it is hard to be upset with such pathetic creatures. Their language reveals their true nature, which according to them is their sanskar, their values. Please forgive them. 


Why all social movements today need Ambedkar, not Gandhi or Arundhati Roy


 Dalit Camera: Through Un-Touchable Eyes

Veteran political activist U. Sambashiva Rao was one of the key speakers at the 'Democratic Debate on Appropriation of Ambedkar's Writings' held on April 10, 2014, in Hyderabad. He is the Chairman of the BC Mahajana Sangham and has played an active part in many people's movements - starting with ultra left Marxist-Leninist struggles to identity based agitations inspired by Ambedkar-Phule thought - in Andhra Pradesh over the last forty years. The following text features the second part of his intervention1 at the debate. Please read the first part here.

I'd like to talk about a related issue here. Those who work according to the Marxist ideology.. I too worked as a Marxist activist, I worked in Adivasi areas for five years, in agency areas2. There, we worked on a struggle with the objective of distributing land belonging to the landlords among the poor farmers, thinking from a class perspective. Finally, when the Polavaram project was being built, it turned out that half the lands that we had distributed were in the hands of non-Adivasis while the other half were with the Adivasis. 


Is Brahmeshwar Mukhiya Anurag Kashyap's 'Bihar ka lala'?


Arvind Shesh

Continued from here.

arvind shesh'Jiyo re bihar ke lala' (Long live the son of Bihar): Immortalising Brahmeshwar Mukhiya 

Whether or not the viewers of the movie (Gangs of Wasseypur) remember much of it, they will certainly not forget the last scene:

Sardar Khan and his son have become so generous that they make the first step towards resolving a 'long standing' dispute between the two clans by agreeing to a marriage with Sultan Qureshi's sister. But Sultan Qureshi is someone who is treacherous, bigoted, parochial, barbaric, backward, who sells out to a Hindu (Ramadhir Singh), and who, along with his gang, violently shoots Sardar Khan. Riddled with bullets, smeared in blood Sardar Khan is still alive when he steps out of the car while waving a gun as the song plays in the background (like a slogan) - jiyo re bihar ke lala..jiyo tu hajaar saala (Long live the son of Bihar, may you live a thousand years).

It is perhaps sheer coincidence that this scenario unfurled in real life around the time that this 'amargan' (song of immortality) played on the cinema screens. The ringleader of Ranvir Sena, Brahmeshwar Singh, who was responsible for the murder of hundreds of Dalits, was similarly killed by a rival gang. Following that, many parts of Bihar, from Ara to Patna, witnessed macabre violence amidst slogans that said: "Mukhiyaji amar rahe" (Long live Mukhiyaji!), "Brahmeshwar Mukhiya zindabad", "Jab tak suraj chand rahega, Mukhiyaji tera nam rahega" (till there are the sun and the moon, mukhiyaji your name will remain). All of which translates into: "Jiyo re bihar ke lala"


Arundhati Roy's introduction is a mockery of Dr Ambedkar's AoC: Suresh Mane


Dr. Suresh Mane

(Dr. Suresh Mane's 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)

dr suresh mane

Good afternoon friends, one day, restless Rahul met me at my office. He came with some anxiety, carrying along with him this book (Navayana's AoC), saying that there are lots of problems regarding this book, and some of our youngsters are engaged in opposing at least the commercial aspect of the book. So we should do something. I said, it is a good idea, it is your idea so you should do something. Our problem is that we are originators of ideas and we expect that somebody should do something. And that is always a wrong approach. So I told him let us go ahead, have a small debate, a discussion. By that method this program (the Colonization of Ambedkar event) has materialized.

 Four, five people have already presented.

Some of you must have also read this book, you may be having your own right and wrong notions about the same. Certain points need to be understood, one is the assessment of Ambedkar when he was alive and then the post Ambedkar assessment- these are the two phases. Normally we say, that Ambedkar is still less understood, more misunderstood, [for which] there might be different reasons. When he was alive he was carrying on with his struggle, which is one of the greatest human rights struggles of this world. He was also not assessed properly, even when he was alive- he was branded with different adjectives, as the 'stooge of the britishers', 'the conformist hindu', these were labels given by leftist people, communists. Even CPI passed a resolution in 1964 that Ambedkar should be limited to only dalits. All this is on record. It is there in my book, Glimpses of Socio Cultural Revolts in India.


Joe D'Cruz on Aatha's children and their untold stories



Round Table India talked to Joe D'Cruz on 12th July, 2015.

Joe D' Cruz is a renowned Tamil writer, novelist, famous for his novels, Aazhi Soozh Ulagu, and Korkai. Joe D' Cruz hails from the coastal village Uvari in Tamil Nadu and his novels and his works revolve around the life, struggle, history, culture, and other marks of the coastal people in Tamil Nadu. His novel Korkai published in the year 2009 won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2013. The interview took place amidst growing ostracisation of the writer in the literary circle, which could be seen as a result of his social background.

joe chutta 2

You have been under a series of attacks, the latest being a case filed by Meenavar Viduthalai Iyakkam. Unlike many others who were vociferously supported by mainstream media and mainstream liberal groups, there seems to be a strange silence with regard to your issue. There seems to be a conspiracy to silence you.

First of all, the organization called Meenavar Viduthalai Iyakkam is not an organisation at all. It is run by an individual and is the kind of organization one calls as a 'letter-pad organisation'. The individual is doing such things to serve his vested interests. Some people have these qualities—if they wish to hog the limelight, they would take issue with someone who is popular and is in the limelight.

As far as I know, there have been no adverse comments on my works Aazhi Soozh Ulagu and Korkai. I do not consider all these as controversies or as issues—these relate to an individual person and that's about it. I am neither in a position to seek support nor in a position to demand an audience with regard to these issues. I do not think it is needed either. These issues have piqued the attention of the media very much—many news channels, predominantly the English ones, came to my house without my asking. I do not pay much heed to such attention. I am a people's servant and not a full-time politician. I mean, you can see the condition in which I live. I work in a company for food and survival and I work for the cause of my people as it makes me happy. If I could pawn my works for personal gains, for making money, or for political mileage, it could have changed my material circumstances. But, even if you come and see me after a year or so, you would see me living in the same conditions.


'Excellence' through Expulsion: A case of Arbitrary Merit vs Constitutional Mandate


(Preliminary) Fact Finding Report on 

Expulsion of SC/ST/OBC students from IIT, Roorkee

30th July 2015 – 1st August 2015


National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights

National Dalit Movement for Justice


Fact Finding Team: Anoop Kumar, Dilip C. Mandal, Gurinder Azad, Nidhin Shobhana and Shefali Saini

Report Authored by: Nidhin Shobhana and Shefali Saini

iit merit


On 15th June 2015, IIT Roorkee, the oldest engineering institute in Asia, released an official memorandum expelling 73 First Year students from BTech/IMT/MSc. This notice was released during the summer vacation when students are generally not on campus. None of the expelled students were officially informed about their expulsion through e-mail or speed post. They were informed mostly by their seniors. The immediate reason for this mass expulsion as explained by the official memorandum and later by IIT (Roorkee) in Uttarakhand High Court stems from rule 33 (1) (a) of the UG Ordinance and Regulations 2014-15. The rule states that -

 'The enrolment of a student in a programme, shall stand terminated if he/she fails to earn the minimum number of credits specified at different yearly levels in the programme as given in Appendix -J and fails to secure minimum CGPA of 5.00, notwithstanding the fact that the student has or has not been put under academic probation [...]'


Anurag Kashyap's Varnas of Wasseypur


Arvind Shesh

arvind sheshDisclaimer: You perhaps watch a movie as just a film. You probably even look at society as if it were a film... But I watch a film as a society...and society as politics.

Wasseypur is a 'true' story 

Has the RSS instituted a new front comprising people from the film industry to launch Modi's brand of Hindutva? The questions that the first part of Gangs of Wasseypur had left us with cannot merely be set aside by claiming that Anurag Kashyap just filmed a 'real' life story, or that films are a mere reflection of society or that they are meant for pure entertainment. Such bundles of contradictions have their own politics.  

If it is about depicting 'reality', about reflecting society and providing entertainment, how is it that this movie further adds to the poison being spread against Muslims over the last couple of decades, in a calculated manner? How come it glorifies and glamorizes the violence and atrocities committed by the powerful castes which dominate our social structure? How come it further emboldens the psychology of hate against the lower castes and how come it reduces the woman again to her body and demeans her at every step? Which of these aspects of the film doesn't strengthen the RSS' agenda? Some people might offer an immediate defence saying a Muslim, whose name at several places is mentioned as Zeishan Qadri, has written the story. But one must bear in mind that his full name is Syed Zeishan Qadri. 


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