Caste Atrocities and Government Accountability


Santosh Kumar 

Rohith Chakravarti Vemula (30 January 1989 – 18 January 2016) was a PhD student at the Central University of Hyderabad and his suicide on 18 Jan 2016 sparked an outrage throughout India, highlighting the cases of systemic discrimination in educational campuses across India. Many cases of caste atrocities have been reported recently. One of them was that of a Dalit man killed in Ahmednagar in 2015 for keeping a mobile ringtone that had Ambedkar's praise. In another case, Dalit children were burnt alive in Faridabad, which a cabinet minister VK Singh compared with the death of dogs.

university dalits

Similar to the protest in the case of Rohith Vemula, protests across Maharashtra took place in 2006 against the brutal killing and raping of a Dalit family in Khairlanji, Dist. Bhandara in Maharastra. The cases of Dalit atrocities are not very unusual in independent India. However, a nation-wide outrage and protest are reported in few cases only, particularly due to media apathy and systemic suppression of Dalits' Voice by the upper castes.


The Making of the Region: Perspectives from a Non-Savarna Newspaper (Part I)


P. Thirumal 


karnatakaThis intervention concerns itself with elaborating the administrative category ‘region’. The federal units qualify as administrative regions of the Indian Union. This paper argues that in the initial decades after independence, region(s) tend to be reproduced and affirmed largely through region-state(s) or Indian State practices. Though the prime mover of the region/s in the initial decades is the region-state, the counterparts of the region namely the community and the economy appear to participate in the reproduction of the region in the later decades. This intervention has two sections. The first section deals with some aspects of a generic understanding of the reproduction of region/s in India after the massive reorganization of states in 1956. The supposedly primal autonomous character of the region is pitted against the bureaucratic logic of the administrative region. It appears that the supposedly primal character of the region is generally neither antagonistic nor completely subsumed by the bureaucratic logic. The primal is as much transformed as the bureaucratic logic. The administrative region seemingly surfaces as more inclusive than the former. Space is deployed as an analytical tool to understand the administrative category referred to in this piece as ‘region-state’. The second section elucidates a study related to the reproduction of Karnataka in the editorials of a widely circulated newspaper ‘Deccan Herald’ between the years 1958-83. In this latter section, the state is used interchangeably as region. This study primarily engages with the Karnataka’s demand for adequate communication infrastructure for itself. In the process, the capacity for simultaneously building the regional community and the economy is expressed. The differential material and symbolic articulations of sub-regions apparently display a field of heterogeneous power networks. Notwithstanding the heterogeneity of the region, the region-state does manage to create a regime of power.    


Babasaheb for Me Is Like an Inner Voice


Essay series on 'What Babasaheb Ambedkar Means to me'

Madhura Raut

madhuraIt was neither my family nor my school that introduced Ambedkar to me. It was because of my friends, either classmates or facebook friends that I got introduced to Babasaheb Ambedkar. It is a fact that I never felt a strong connection with Babasaheb, Jyotiba Phule and Savitri Bai in school and never heard about these three leaders in my family. I felt that connection only after I came to Pune for my graduation.

 I heard stories in my school about 'Bapu', 'Bal Gangadhar Tilak' but not about 'Babasaheb'. There would be competitions in my school like reciting 'Manache Shlok' (Sanskrit prayers) or elocution competition on Tilak but Babasaheb was completely absent there. Babasaheb would be there only for one day -14th April and this day too would be a holiday in school. We never had any competition or celebration even before or after 14th April to know about Babasaheb Ambedkar. There would be discussions among some of my friends on how they danced with Lezhim on the roads for long hours on that day. But I never heard about this celebration either in my family or my school. The efforts that were taken in school to make us feel connected with Gandhi, Tilak or Nehru were not to be found in the case of Ambedkar. Today, I feel that we studied Ambedkar only in books. If there were extra efforts, at least in the school, we could have known more about Babasaheb Ambedkar and not just Ambedkar.


Loan Write-Offs vs Black Money - Explained


P V Vijay Kumar

pvv vijay kumarAfter SBI announced write-off of loans worth about Rs. 7000 cr including what it had lent to the nefarious Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines. There has been an uproar from the general public and also from many intellectual and political quarters as well, that this write-off is denotation of waiver of loan. During this season of economic crisis, post-announcement of Modi's historical decision to curtail on cash circulation 500 and 1000 Rupee notes, to contain black money at the cost of common man's perils, the write off has been attributed with a kind of 'cheating' of public by Govt. owned Banks and the Govt. itself.

When a loan is disbursed, it is meant to create an asset. The loan disbursal is directly proportional to the value of the asset to be created out of it. That is the moment the money goes into circulation out of the bank's cash balance, raised in the form of deposits, capital etc. The value of the asset is actually notional or, in fact, based on certain market valued bench marks and there can be a plus or minus to it. That is the moment many entrepreneurs take advantage of valuation of asset/project and get the loan disbursal out of the actual asset and utilize the 'surplus' for other business or personal purposes. This becomes unaccounted money, in other words, it is called black money. For now, we will confine to this piece of creation of asset out of debt funds giving rise to black money creation, which is one of the most common methods.


Dr B. R. Ambedkar: More than the Architect of the Indian Constitution


Naveed Ahmad Lone

naveed ahmad loneIntroduction

Some are born great; some have greatness thrust upon them, and some achieve greatness. Dr Ambedkar best fits in the third category. Dr Baba Saheb Bhimrao Ambedkar is among the most outstanding intellectuals of India in the twentieth century. The work in economics by his good self is noteworthy. Dr Ambedkar has often been portrayed as a leader of the 'Dalit' community and nothing else. An obscure reference is made to him in school textbooks as the architect of the Indian constitution. Very few would know that Ambedkar was among the first set of Indians who were trained in Economics and practised it professionally.

 This was further proved by a recently conducted survey by 'History TV 18 and CNN-IBN' in June 2012. 'Who is the greatest Indian after Gandhiji?" was the question asked from the people of India. The contestants included the First Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, Singer Lata Mangeshkar, Industrialist J.R.D. Tata, A.P.J.Abul Kalam Azad, Indira Gandhi and Vallabhai Patel. The final cumulative ranking was conducted following the three ways poll; ranking by jury (online and on the ground), ranking by popular votes and ranking by market research. Finally, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was declared as the winner. Historian Ramachandra Guha stated on the declaration of results: "Dr Ambedkar's legacy has been distorted to suit particular interests. He was a great scholar, institution builder, and economic theorist". Professor A.K. Sen also said,"Ambedkar is my father in Economics. He is a truly celebrated champion of the underprivileged. He deserves more than what he has achieved today. His contribution in the field of economics is marvellous and will be remembered forever." (Ambirajan, 1999)


Caste is not a Rumour - book review


 Pranav Kuttaiah

caste is not a rumour

Caste is not a Rumour: The Online Diary of Rohith Vemula (Ed. Nikhila Henry, Juggernaut Books, 2016) 

In a speech delivered at Nalgonda in Telangana not so long ago, noted intellectual K.Y. Ratnam said that what Rohith Vemula wrote was not a suicide note, but an introduction to Dr. Ambedkar's classic 'Annihilation of Caste'. Vemula's note was indeed a remarkable piece of literature – displaying eloquence, vision and clarity of thought far beyond his years. But what was truly striking about it was the brevity for such a power-packed document – in a world where most academics and writers feel like they're taking pages and pages to make a point, his every line; every sentence was packed with the punch of precise thinking and lived experience. It was this format that Rohith had perfected – the art of a paragraph-length rumination that was worth more than many unreadable academic works. "Caste is Not a Rumour: The Online Diary of Rohith Vemula" (ed. Nikhila Henry, Juggernaut Books, 2016), a compilation of Rohith Vemula's writings on Facebook, is a unique addition to the ongoing discussion surrounding caste in Indian campuses. The book provides snippets into the thinking of a radical young mind in the form of succinct and hard-hitting status updates, bringing a whole spectrum of Indian and global political issues into the context of student politics at the Hyderabad Central University (HCU).


Youth for Self and Social Change (YSSC): A Journey


Payal Rama

payalNagpur is the winter capital and the third largest city in the state of Maharashtra. It is also one of the prominent cities in Central India. Before the formation of the state of Maharashtra, Nagpur was part of the state of Madhya Pradesh. Under the British rule, it was one of the important precincts of 'Central and Berar' province. In 1956 and there on, Nagpur has gained prominence because of the mass 'Buddhist Conversion' of about half a million ex-untouchables, led by their brilliant and extraordinary leader and emancipator, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. In addition, the city is also infamously known for it being the headquarters of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Hindu Nationalist organisation. However, historically its existence as the city was mainly marked by the 'Buddhist Conversion' and a vibrant Dalit-Buddhist Movement. The city of Nagpur not only stands for the struggle of Dalits and Buddhists as oppressed striving hard for education but also for their quest to gain a dignified life. There are innumerable stories in this city of Buddhists, their expedition for education after conversion to Buddhism, which lies folded in the pages of untold stories.

Here are the stories of some of the students, who tried to challenge the existing situation of education in the city. It is the story of a study circle group Youth for Self and Social Change (YSSC), which aims at promoting higher education among Dalits as Ambedkar envisioned throughout his life. Today, the members of YSSC are in different positions in higher education spaces. It began with a small idea to start a program that gives a platform to develop their personality by doing regular activities in the library, viharas, and homes. The activities there comprised of English comprehension, practiced by reading Ambedkar and other Dalit social reformers; group discussions on current as well as other social topics to further add to the awareness and public speaking sessions meant to enhance communication skills in front of large masses.


Interview with Kiruba Munusamy, Supreme Court Lawyer


Round Table India

kiruba munusamy

In the latest episode of the Ambedkar Age series, we talk to Kiruba Munusamy, Judicial Activist and Lawyer practising in the Supreme Court of India.

In the Ambedkar Age series of videos, Round Table India aims to produce documentaries, interviews, talks on contemporary issues and debates from a Dalit Bahujan perspective.


Yes, I am an Anti-National


Gurram Seetaramulu

Nationalism is a hymn which is being chanted often by the modern societies. Especially in India, after the demolition of Babri Masjid such a notion has gained currency. At the same time, some groups have been trying to monopolise nationalism. In such a situation, nationalism has turned into an abstract thought called 'Syndicate Nationalism' which is making a mockery of the democracy we live in. Many countries laid the foundation for peoples' mass struggles in the spirit of the nationalist movement during the anti-imperialist struggle. The nationalism being taught by the saffron groups in the country has its roots in the ideas propagated by Hitler. It is a destructive idea. Modi became the Prime Minister of the country at a juncture when we are still seeing the effects of saffronisation of education and culture taken up by the earlier NDA Govt. If anyone has an alternative and a different idea to the dominant idea of 'development', they are being termed as anti-national. The opposition to the State and the Govt. is being equated with opposition to the country and the nation. The aim of this paper is to unravel the conspiracy in trying to fit independent thinking higher educational institutions such as JNU, EFLU, HCU and OU who have been raising important questions and alternative discourses in the last four decades about questions of identity and existence, into the frame of anti-nationalism.

hung flag

At a time when the histories of the communities that are built on the ancient ruins are being tampered with to create new histories, the debate on nationalism attains special importance. Some social scientists argue that 'nationalism' is an idea borrowed from the 19th Century Europe when the consciousness which led to peoples movements and mass struggles culminated in the idea of a nation-state. Nationalism can be definied as an imaginary feeling common to a group of people who share the same kinds of habits, hopes and aspirations. Many a times during emotionally turbulent moments in history, the idea of a nation-state, its identity and existence kept on changing forms. This philosophical debate, to which Ambedkar, Phule, Anderson and Partha Chatterjee,  contributed through their ideas, is being sharpened everyday with the changing demographics of the social and political movements taking place across the world. Scholars and philosophers like Aloysius even went to the extent of arguing that the nationalism in this country is plain hollow and that many races which don't have anything in common are being brought into a single nation whose philosophical foundation is the idea of Brahminical Hinduism.


ಟಿಪ್ಪು ಮೇಲಿನ ಆರೋಪ ಮತ್ತು ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಅಜೆಂಡಾ


ಹಾರೋಹಳ್ಳಿ ರವೀಂದ್ರ (Harohalli Ravindra)

tipu sultanಈ ದೇಶದಲ್ಲಿ ಮುಸ್ಲಿಂ ಆಳ್ವಿಕೆ ಪ್ರಾರಂಭಗೊಂಡ ದಿನದಿಂದ ಇಲ್ಲಿಯ ತನಕವೂ ಆ ಸಮುದಾಯದ ಮೇಲೆ ಒಂದಿಲ್ಲೊಂದು ಆರೋಪ ಕೇಳಿ ಬರುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದೆ. ಮಹಮ್ಮದ್ ಘಸ್ನಿಯ ದಂಡಯಾತ್ರೆಯ ನಂತರ ದೆಹಲಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಸುಲ್ತಾನರ ಆಳ್ವಿಕೆ ಪ್ರಾರಂಭವಾಯಿತು. ಅನಂತರ ಬಾಬಾರ್ ಲಗ್ಗೆ ಇಟ್ಟು ಮೊಘಲರ ಆಳ್ವಿಕೆ ಪ್ರಾರಂಭವಾಯಿತು. ನಿಜಾಮರು, ಬಹುಮನಿ ಸುಲ್ತಾನರು, ಕುತುಬ್ ಷಾಯಿಗಳು ಹಾಗೂ ಮೈಸೂರಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಟಿಪ್ಪು ಸುಲ್ತಾನ್, ಹೀಗೆ ಸಾಕಷ್ಟು ಈ ನೆಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಆಳ್ವಿಕೆ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಅದರಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲವರ ಆಳ್ವಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಸಮಸ್ಯೆಗಳಿರಬಹುದು. ಮತಾಂತರ ಮಾಡಿರಬಹುದು. ಆ ಕಾರಣಕ್ಕೆ ಮುಸಲ್ಮಾನರೆಲ್ಲಾ ದಾಳಿಕೋರರು, ಆಕ್ರಮಣಕಾರಿಗಳು, ಮತಾಂತರಿಗಳು ಎನ್ನುವುದು ತಪ್ಪು. ಶಂಕರಾಚಾರ್ಯ ತನ್ನ ಅವಧಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಬೌದ್ಧ ಭಿಕ್ಕುಗಳ ತಲೆ ಕಡಿಯಲು ಆದೇಶ ಮಾಡಲಿಲ್ಲವೇ? ಅಷ್ಟೆ ಏಕೆ? ಈ ದೇಶದ ಮೂಲನಿವಾಸಿಗಳನ್ನು ಮನುಧರ್ಮ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರ ಬರೆಯುವ ಮೂಲಕ ಹಿಂದೂಧರ್ಮದ ಚಾತುರ್ವರ್ಣಕ್ಕೆ ಮತಾಂತರಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲಿಲ್ಲವೇ? ಆದರೆ ಅವೆಲ್ಲವನ್ನೂ ಹೊರತುಪಡಿಸಿ ಮುಸ್ಲಿಂ ಸಮುದಾಯವನ್ನು ಮತಾಂತರದ ಧರ್ಮ ಎಂದು ಏಕೆ ಕರೆಯುತ್ತಾರೆ? ಮುಸ್ಲಿಂ ರಾಜಾಳ್ವಿಕೆಯನ್ನು ಹಿಂದೂ ಸಂಘಪರಿವಾರ ಯಾಕೆ ಒಪ್ಪುವುದಿಲ್ಲ? ಮೈಸೂರು ರಾಜ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಆಳ್ವಿಕೆ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಟಿಪ್ಪು ಸುಲ್ತಾನ್ ಅಂತಹ ದೇಶಭಕ್ತ ರಾಜನನ್ನೇಕೆ ದೇಶದ್ರೋಹಿ ಹಣೆಪಟ್ಟಿ ಕಟ್ಟಲಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ? ಎಂಬ ಅಂಶಗಳನ್ನು ನಾವು ತಿಳಿದುಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕಾಗಿದೆ. ಆ ಮೂಲಕ ನೈಜ ಚರಿತ್ರೆಯನ್ನು ಜನರಿಗೆ ತಿಳಿಸುವ ಅಗತ್ಯವೂ ಕೂಡ ಇದೆ.


When the Eye of Justice Is Jaundiced


Gauri Lankesh

gauri lankeshKarnataka High Court Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee is a man who proudly wears his belief on his forehead. While that might be his personal choice, what is problematic is that he expresses his religious affinity with as much pride without bothering about his esteemed position as a dispenser of justice according to a secular constitution.

In July this year, Mr. Mukherjee visited Udupi on the invite of Pejavara Swamy who is one of the founding members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishat. That day Mr. Mukherjee did all the things that a Brahmin devotee of the Krishna Temple does: took off his shirt before visiting the temple, with the rudhrakshi mala dangling around his neck he peeped piously through the Kanakana Kindi at the idol inside, did namaskara to Krishna with precious gems adorning eight of his ten fingers.

Later that day, after receiving an award titled 'Shri Rama Krishna Vittala Anugraha Prashasti' from Pejavara swamy, Mr. Mukherjee said ''we are proud to say we are all Hindus. But our points of view are not the same. Since all of us desire 'Moksha' why should there be infighting amongst us? Though majority of us are Hindus, it has not been possible for us to build a temple and install the idol of Rama inside it. That is why I pray that all Hindu saints should come together to build the Rama temple at Ayodhya. All Hindu saints should come together to protect Hindu dharma.'' Had the likes of Yogi Adithyanath, Sakshi Maharaj, Sadhvi Prachi or even Praveen Togadia uttered such words no one would have been surprised. But the fact that the Chief Justice of Karnataka should utter such words shocked many. Unfortunately, this incident was reported only in a couple of Kannada dailies and that too in local editions.


When Rohith Vemula Meets Jignesh Mevani: Towards a Radical Democratic Imaginary


K K Baburaj

'Live dangerously', told Nietzsche, one of the great counter-thinkers in the history of modern philosophy. KK Kochu, a well known Dalit writer and political activist from Kerala, in his collection of articles titled 'Revolution and Culture' published in the eighties, attempted to rewrite the slogan of Nietzsche as 'act dangerously'. Such rewritings and reconstructions were not the only activities that happened during that period. It has witnessed various movements of Adivasis, Dalits and backward communities and women, farmers of small land holdings, unorganized labourers; who came forward and fought to claim their identities. This can be considered as a part of an advancement of the formation of a new political community in India by bringing the marginalised people together.

jignesh mevani

These facts points to an important incident in the history of the nation, a phenomenon of historical cessation, a detachment from the existing praxis and thoughts to propel a new political advancement. The subaltern intellectuals like WEB Dubois, B R Ambedkar, Sreenarayana Guru, Iyothi Das, James Baldwin, and Alice Walker worked and thought only for their own communities is a distorted reading of their legacy. Along with their thoughts on reformation of their communities, they also brought a new discourse of modernity and civilization to the world and people . It was this double responsibility that makes their struggles and contributions remarkable and it made them detached from what we call the 'common'. "I am not part of the whole, I am a part apart" was what Ambedkar described about himself to the leaders of national movement, in disagreement with the so called common propositions.


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