The Republic at a crossroads


Deepak Kumar 

deepak kumar 1.0On 26th January 1950, India became a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic. On that day, the Constitution of India was enacted, adopted and given to the Indian people i.e., "we the people of India". The birth of the Republic on the twenty sixth of January 1950 was a moment of equal, if not greater, importance than the independence of India from the British Raj. The Constitution ushered in many firsts: for the first time, untouchability became illegal, for the first time, all Indians could exercise the right to vote.

The Constitution makes special provision for the upliftment of the deprived sections of the society like SC/STs, women, children and minorities. The Constitution empowers every citizen to contest elections and gives the right to vote irrespective of anything, which makes every individual directly or indirectly a part of the democratic process. No matter which sovereign power ruled India, the question of a dignified life for women and untouchables never echoed in the chambers of power. It was a historical and proud movement for every citizen when Indian adopted its own Constitution. When everyone was celebrating this moment, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar the chairman of drafting committee warned the nation about how long this constitution will survive, in the Constituent Assembly:

"On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In Politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up"i.


Brahminical Conversations on Dalit Politics


Koonal Duggal and Kavita Bhanot

kunal dkavita 2A poster was recently shared widely on social media advertising a panel discussion at the 2017 Delhi Book Fair, titled 'Contemporary Dalit Politics'.

The event was a discussion around Badri Narayan Tiwari's new book Fractured Tales: Invisibles in Indian Democracy, which makes a case for the ways in which 'dominant', numerically larger dalit castes and the dalit movement, have failed to share resources and support the upliftment of more marginalized dalits. The three advertised speakers were the writer and academic Badri Narayan Tiwari, along with Shehla Rashid from AISA and Janhawi Ojha from ABVP.


The first poster released by OUP

oup poster1

Inevitably, there was comment and criticism on social media on the prospective discussion on dalit politics which did not include any dalit speakers. An online campaign began and letters were written to the CEO of Oxford University Press (OUP). Presumably in response to the criticism, two days before the event, a new poster was released with an addition to the panel: Milind Awad, assistant professor at JNU, and a 'well known dalit activist.'


सत्य, सत्याग्रह, शूद्र, दलित और भारतीय नैतिकता


संजय जोठे (Sanjay Jothe)

सामाजिक राजनीतिक आन्दोलनों में एक लंबे समय से "आत्मपीड़क सत्याग्रह" प्रचलन में बने हुए हैं. ऐसे भूख हड़ताल, उपोषण, आमरण अनशन जैसे तरीकों से समाज के एक बड़े वर्ग को झकझोरने में सफलता भी मिलती आई है. ये तकनीकें और "टूल" सफल भी रहे हैं और उनकी सफलताओं से जन्मी असफलताओं को हमने खूब भोगा भी है. पूना पैक्ट की प्रष्ठभूमि में किया गया आमरण अनशन, या भारत की आजादी की रात फैले दुनिया के सबसे बड़े धार्मिक दंगे को शांत करने के लिए किया गया अनशन हो या पूर्वी पश्चिमी पाकिस्तान की तरफ बलात भेजे जा रहे अल्पसंख्यकों की चिंता से उभरा अनशन की धमकी हो, गांधी जी ने अनेकों अवसरों पर अनशन और उपोषण को एक नैतिक उपाय या उपकरण की तरह इस्तेमाल किया है और उनके सदपरिणामों और दुष्परिणामों ने मिलकर ही उस समाज की रचना की है जिसमे बैठकर हम इन पंक्तियों को लिख या पढ़ रहे हैं.

fast unto refast

निश्चित ही साधन शुद्धि की बात करने वाले गांधीजी का आग्रह जिसे वे "सत्याग्रह" कहते रहे थे, एक शक्तिशाली रचना थी जिसमे समाज की "प्रचलित नैतिकता" को सम्मोहित करने और झकझोर देने की बड़ी ताकत थी. एक "अधनंगे हिन्दू संत" की छवि गढ़ने में उन्होंने जो सचेतन निवेश किया था जिसकी सफलता ने उन्हें एक ख़ास उंचाई तक पहुँचाया था, उस उंचाई पर साधन की शुद्धता की बहस में साध्य की शुद्धता की बहस को एकदम से विमर्ष से गायब कर देने में सफल हो सके थे. हालाँकि अंबेडकर जैसे लोगों ने साध्य की शुद्धता पर साधन, साध्य और शुद्धता जैसे शब्दों की महिमा को अस्वीकार करते हुए बड़े तार्किक प्रहार किये थे लेकिन उन प्रहारों का असर उतना नहीं हुआ जितना होना चाहिए था. ये असर हो भी नहीं सकता था, और ये विवशता आज भी जस की तस बनी हुई है. या कहें कि ये विवशता अब कहीं अधिक बढ़ गयी है, आज धर्मप्रेम, राष्ट्रप्रेम, राष्ट्रभक्ति और राष्ट्रवाद की परिभाषाएं जिस अर्थ में बदली हैं और 'गांधी के रामराज्य' पर 'रामराज्यवादियों का गांधी' जिस तरह हावी हो चुका है उस हालत में अब साधन या साध्य शुद्धि की बहस में अब गांधी खुद भी आ जाएँ तो वे भी निराश होकर लौट जायेंगे.


Why am I celebrating Diwali and Dusshera?


Vikas Bagde

vikas bagdeTihar is one of the most dazzling festivals of the Nepali people. Tihar is also known as Deepawali in the Terai region and falls during the month of October-November. This festival is celebrated for five days, beginning from the 13th day of the waning moon in October-November.

In this festival, people worship Goddess Laxmi, known as the Goddess of wealth. All the houses of the city and villages are cleaned and decorated with lit oil lamps. During the night time, the cities and villages look like shining diamonds. Many people call Tihar as "Panchak Yama" which means the five days of the lord of the underworld. These five days are considered as very important which reflect respect not only for the human and god but also animals and birds like crows, dogs and cows who share a strong relationship with local people. During this festival many people decorate the exteriors of their houses by making Rangoli of different colors and flower petals of saipati or marigold spread on it, thus making the homes attractive and beautiful during the night time after oil lamps are lit on them.


ब्राम्हणी पितृसत्ता आणि सोशल मीडिया


Bhagyesha Kurane

bhagyeshaसोशल मीडिया हा आपल्या जीवनाचा सध्या एक अविभाज्य घटक झालेला आहे. सोशल मीडियाचा वापर करावा की करू नये अथवा कशाप्रकारे करावा याबद्दल समाजामध्ये अनेक तर्कवितर्क व्यक्त केले जातात. काही व्यक्तींना वाटतं सोशल मीडिया हे टाइमपास करण्याचं एक साधन आहे. उगाच त्यावर वेळ खर्ची करू नये. अनेक मुलींच्या पालकांना असं वाटतं की सोशल मीडियाद्वारा समाजकंटक मुलींना त्रास देऊ शकतात. यामुळे मुलींनीच या माध्यमांपासून दूर राहावं. या गोष्टींचा विचार करता असं लक्षात येत की सोशल मीडियाच्या माध्यमातून आपण अनेक व्यक्तिंशी एकाचवेळी जोडले जावू शकतो. भलेही आपला त्यांच्याशी प्रत्यक्ष संबंध असो अगर नसो. आपण आपल्या विचारांची देवाणघेवाण करू शकतो. प्रस्थापित माध्यमांना एक पर्याय उभा करता येईल का हा विचार करत मी देखील सोशल मीडिया जॉईन केलं. फ़ेसबुक, व्हॉट्सअॅप यांसारख्या माध्यमातून लोकांशी संबंध ठेवू लागले. गेली सहा वर्षे मी फ़ेसबुकवर आहे. पर्यायी माध्यम असा सोशल मीडियाचा विचार करत असतानाच ही माध्यमे मुलींच्या बाबतीत कितपत सुरक्षित आहेत याबद्दल मला थोडी विस्ताराने चर्चा करावीशी वाटते. अर्थात नुकत्याच घडलेल्या अमर खाडे प्रकरणाचा यास संबंध आहे.

प्रथम आपण एक गोष्ट लक्षात घ्यायला हवी की आपल्या ब्राह्मणी पितृसत्ताक समाजामध्ये मुलींनी मोबाईल कसा वापरावा, कितपत वापरावा याचे काही नियम ठरलेले आहेत. अनेकवेळा काही अडचण येऊ नये म्हणून मुलींना मोबाईल वापरण्यास देण्यात येतो. पण मुलीच्या मोबाईलच्या वापरावर कठोर निर्बंध घातले जातात. कारण आपला स्त्री-जात्याधारीत समाज मुलीला कुटुंबाची 'इज्जत' मानतो. त्यामुळे तिचा मोबाईलद्वारा अन्य व्यक्तिंशी संबंध येऊन ती कोणाशी भावनिक दृष्टीने जोडली गेली व जर तिने स्व:मर्जीने विवाह करण्याचा निर्णय घेतला तर कुटुंबाची 'अब्रू' जाईल असे पालकांना वाटते. यामुळे मुलीचे हे संपर्काचे साधन मर्यादित राहावे यासाठी पालक प्रयत्न करतात. यातूनच मग मुलींचे मोबाईल तपासले जातात. त्यांचे कॉल रेकॉर्ड तपासले जातात. या सगळ्या परिस्थितीमध्ये अनेक मुलींसाठी सोशल मीडियाचा सहजरित्या वापर करणं हीच एक मोठी गोष्ट असते. समाजाचे पारंपरिक निर्बंध झुगारुन ती समाजमाध्यमातून व्यक्त होण्याचा प्रयत्न करते परंतू आपला ब्राह्मणी पितृधारी समाज तिच्याकडे एक व्यक्ती म्हणून न बघता मनोरंजनाचे आयते उपलब्ध झालेले साधन असंच पाहत असतो. यामुळे मुलींना ऑनलाइन जगात अनेकवेळा लैंगिक शोषणास सामोरं जावं लागतं.


Uniform Civil Code & Ashrafiya obsession with Triple Talaq


Ayaz Ahmad

ayaz-ahmadIn the wake of upcoming assembly polls, the question of Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is being debated with traditional appeal to religious identity of Muslims & Hindus in their respective constituencies. From the vantage point of Pasmanda, the question of UCC is raised to create the binary of Hindu versus Muslim in order to entrench both identities as a monolith whole. This entrenchment of communal identities is aimed at suppressing caste fault-lines in both communities. The suppression of caste fault-lines is necessary to hold on to the privileges accumulated under Brahmanical social order. Thus, the demand for UCC helps the Savarna to consolidate its dominance over the Bahujan under the garb of Hindu identity & opposition of UCC helps the Ashrafiya to consolidate its dominance over the Pasmanda under the garb of Muslim identity.

However, UCC is not the exclusive strategy of constructing the binary of Hindu versus Muslim. It is deployed in combination with various other cultural symbols which mark out the caste ridden diverse populace into two hostile groups. The most prominent among them are Aligarh Muslim University & Banaras Hindu University (Muslim modernity versus Hindu modernity), Muslim Madarssa Education & Hindu Sarasvati Education (Muslim culture versus Hindu culture), Muslim League & Hindu Mahasabha (Muslim Politics versus Hindu Politics), Muslim Personal Law versus Hindu Personal Law, Muslim Secularists & Hindu Secularists (Jinnah versus Gandhi), Muslim Fundamentalist & Hindu Fundamentalist (Iqbal versus Savarkar), Muslim Liberal & Hindu Liberal (Maulana Abul Kalam Azad versus Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru) so on & so forth. All these oppositional symbols can be ontologically understood by replacing the expression 'Muslim' with 'Ashrafiya' & 'Hindu' with 'Savarna'. Similarly, the question of UCC can be understood in the dialectic of religious identity formation & invisibilization of caste identity & the need for their continuous reproduction through hostile binaries.


Maratha Kranti (Muk) Morcha: When will Maratha women cross the threshold?

Sandhya Gawali

sandhya gawaliMaratha Community has been organizing massive silent rallies (muk morcha) in various districts in a strong display of restlessness. The immediate reason behind the march is the brutal rape and murder of a teenager Maratha girl in kopardi, Ahmadnagar district, Maharashtra. The three suspects in this case belong to the Dalit community.

Firstly, we need to ask what constitutes 'Maratha community? The Maratha community itself is not a homogeneous community. There is no solid or reliable information available which presents Maratha community's numbers. Maratha caste is a cluster of Marathas and 9 Kunbi castes. Prachi Deshpande stated in her paper 'Caste as Maratha' that in 17th century the Marathas came to light. Lord Harris, Governor of Bombay used the term 'Maratha' to denote all Marathi Speakers. In 1931, Narayan Lokhande appealed to people that don't mention your caste instead call yourself a Maratha. Thus, there was a very high population of Marathas.

Nine Kunbi castes were included as Maratha. In 1920, Yadav Gawali filed a petition stating that they should be included in the Maratha caste. Non-Brahmin movements point out multiple imageries of what and whom the term Maratha represented during the colonial period. There are many OBC castes who claim to be Maratha/ Kshatriya. For example, Maratha Kshatriya Parit Sangh was established as an organization in 1950s but still they use this identity. In Alandi, Pune they have organized matrimonial networks as well. Recently when I conversed with certain Maratha girls and boys they defined Marathas as people who draw their ancestry from Shivaji Maharaj. Further, they think Maratha indicates those who live in Maharashtra and speak Marathi. For them Kunbi, Kumbhar, Parit are all Marathas, only their occupation is different etc. Thus, definitions of 'Maratha' are multiple and often contested. The term has spread quite often as a consequence of caste solidarities.


Unpartitioned nostalgia


Akshay Pathak

'Aman ki Asha', one of the many trendy Indo-Pak peace initiatives, could as well have been the title of a blockbuster from the Chopra brothers. Partition and Reunion as nostalgic themes in the savarna imagination seem tied in an inseparable bond, a sacred thread, to use a metaphor closer home. The piecing together of memory, of nostalgia, around these themes is similarly tied in with processes of power as has been evident in policies of the Indian state soon after the tragedy that followed the partition of Punjab.

lahore high court pre-independence

Picture from the Lahore High Court, in pre-partition days

Of course, the mighty information machine, Google, realized the powerful potential of this nostalgia when it released an ad that became very popular a few years ago ( The ad weaves a story of a similar partition and reunion, garnished with copious amounts of sentimentality. It builds on half-a-century long narratives fuelled by successive governments, NGOs and many individuals who became celebrities in the process, arguably with their own lived or inherited legacies that compelled this re-construction.


भारत में महिला राजनीति पर जातिवाद का कितना प्रभाव


Sweta Yadav 

sweta yadavभारत विभिन्ताओं का देश है| तरह-तरह की बोलियाँ अलग-अलग संस्कृतियाँ, जाति, धर्म सम्प्रदाय में बंटा हुआ देश | जिसके बारे में किसी ने सही ही कहा है "कोस -कोस पर बदले पानी चार कोस पर वाणी|" जाति भारत का वास्तविक सच है जिसे अनदेखा करके भारत की कल्पना बेमानी है| भारत में जाति व्यवस्था वैदिक काल से ही व्याप्त है जिसने न सिर्फ यहाँ की आर्थिक, सामाजिक और धार्मिक प्रवृतियों को प्रभावित किया अपितु भारत की राजनीति को भी जाति व्यवस्था ने अपनी जड़ में ले लिया| आज हालत यह है की भारत में न सिर्फ केंद्र बल्कि राज्य भी जातिवाद की राजनीति से प्रभावित हैं| हम चाहे जितना मर्जी वहम पाल लें कि हमारे समाज में भेदभाव कम हो गया है, लेकिन अब भी कुछ अदृश्य दीवारें हैं जो दिखाई नहीं देतीं लेकिन मौजूद हैं और इन्ही दीवारों के नीचे दब कर न जाने कितनी जिंदगियां दम तोड़ देती हैं, और ये सिलसिला अभी भी जारी है|

भारतीय राजनीति में महिलाओं के अस्तित्व पर बात करते हुए हमें यह देखना होगा कि क्या वास्तव में महिलाएं राजनीति में वो मुकाम हासिल कर चुकी हैं जो उन्हें एक मनुष्य होने के नाते करना चाहिए था न कि स्त्री होने के नाते| भारतीय समाज पितृसत्तात्मक समाज हैं जहाँ पुरुषों का वर्चस्व कल भी था और अब भी है| हाँ बदलाव हुए हैं और यह होना भी चाहिए लेकिन यह कितना और कहाँ तक हुआ है यह देखना भी जरूरी है| आज़ादी के बाद देश जबकि सोलहवें लोकसभा के चुनाव लड़ चुका है तब इस बात की चर्चा और भी जरूरी हो जाती है कि देश में हर पायदान पर महिलाओं की स्थिति क्या है? और राजनीतिक सम्बन्ध में महिला की जाति किस तरह से काम करती है?


A Thread between Dangal and the Establishment


Chandra Sen

chandra senGirls are supposed to be in the custody of their father when they are children, women under the custody of their husband when married and under the custody of her son as widows. In no circumstances is she allowed to assert herself independently. (Manusmriti)

Bollywood has projected fathers, their roles, disciplines, ideals and duties time and again. All time Bollywood fathers are Alok Nath (for instance, Suraj Barjatya's film)s, Amitabh Bachchan, Amrish Puri (Yash Raj films). The recent movie 'Dangal' adds another name to the list, Aamir Khan. Dangal is considered to be the biopic of the famous Indian wrestler, Mahavir Singh Phogat. He had wished to win a gold medal for the nation, but his wish was unfulfilled. Parents want their ambitions to be achieved by their children. But the case with Pahelwan Phogat was different. He internalized the racial theory that wrestling is in his blood. So his son, not daughter, will achieve what he could not. Like every ordinary Indian male patriarch, Pehelwan Phogat used every method to get a son but became the father of four daughters, instead. The movie has been spun around the two eldest girls, Geeta and Babita. Geeta won a gold medal in 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and Babita got Silver.

Commercially and emotionally, Dangal has achieved its agenda. The north Indian 'cow belt', particularly the fertile land of Ganga-Yamuna river region, is known for high agricultural production. The Green Revolution in Haryana and Punjab added to the agricultural abundance that led to the prosperity of the big farmers. The historical and geographical setting of this region makes the caste, class and gender relations more complicated and rigid. The historian and feminist Uma Chakravarthy analyses this relationship aptly. The huge agricultural-production led caste and gender relations were rigid as well as violent in exploitation of the cheap and free labour. This made Dalits and women more dependent on male and upper caste landlords. This dependency and vulnerability of women has been creatively shown in the movie by the Dangal team. The strong desire to have sons depicts the patriarchal and macho image of Indian society.


A short history of media as a tool of cultural hegemony


Anshul Kumar

anshul"He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past" ~ George Orwell in 1984.

Ever since the inception and evolution of mankind into a 'modern human' it has ever been the curiosity of the human mind to look around the surroundings in order to comprehend the esoteric and arcane nature of of 'human existence' and make sense out of 'everything' including 'nothing'. This idea of looking towards every other phenomenon from our frame of reference stems from the idea put forward by Daniel Kahneman, "the fact that inner workings of human mind have ever been irrational and it is the undying spirit of our 'grey cells' which makes us to give meanings to our existence and the 'cradle' of our very existence itself."


Towards a Post-minority Condition



Towards a post-minority Condition1 - this is the concluding part of the three-part series 'Dialogue with BAPSA'. Read Part 1 here and Part 11 here.

Khalid Anis Ansari

khalidHistorically, while the category 'majority' has been by default occupied by the most dominant cultural collectivity within the national territory, the notion of 'minority' has carried connotations of alterity, injury, subordination or disadvantage. The culture of the majority —which often masquerades as national culture or secularism— frequently defines the centre through which other cultures are evaluated and addressed, thereby invoking fear of cultural assimilationism or economic subjugation in the officially defined minorities. In the case of India too, there has been a rich debate on minority rights along these lines in recent decades. However, while the discussion on minority rights has acquired centre stage, what is further striking is that, with the deepening of pluralism and democracy, new subterranean political subjectivities have emerged that are putting severe strains on official minority discourses. Some of these so-called 'internal minorities' or 'minorities within minorities' that are now struggling to inscribe themselves onto the registers of justice may cut through the majority-minority dichotomy and find it to be deeply inhibitive in addressing their concerns. Are we therefore reaching the limits of dominant minority discourses? Is the minority space really capable of addressing the emerging questions around difference and inequality that internal minorities bring to the table? While gender has dominated the discussions on internal minorities in India so far, I would like to flag the discursive ruptures in minority space in India instantiated by the Pasmanda movement, which is a movement of subordinated castes within the largest religious minority, the Muslims.


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