Notes on Forbesganj Violence

by Ashok Yadav & Khalid Anis Ansari

The police firing and subsequent killing of five OBC Muslims in Bhajanpur village in Forbesganj of Araria district in Bihar on June 3, 2011 has been analyzed in most reports in the public sphere through the frame of 'communalism' and there has been little effort to grapple with the other dimensions that the event entails. Increasingly, it is being felt that the discourse around secularism/communalism is being employed to reinforce the restorative politics of Indian ruling elite, broadly the upper caste sections of all religious identities, and is working as an instrument to subvert the counter-hegemonic peoples' solidarity at large.

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Jotiba Phule and Tilak and the question of education for Women and non-Brahmins

--Anoop Kumar

I am posting a few extracts from a paper written by Parimala V. Rao ("Educating Women and Non-Brahmins as 'Loss of Nationality': Bal Gangadhar Tilak and the Nationalist Agenda in Maharashtra").

This was published as an ocassional paper by the Centre for Women's Development Studies, New Delhi. She is also the author of 'Foundations Of Tilak's Nationalism', published by Orient Blackswan in 2010.

I have placed the extracts point-wise for easy reading; the references given below have also been quoted from the same paper.

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Maintained by the State (VII: 133)

 

Anu Ramdas

This extract is from the book Dharmatheertha, No Freedom with Caste, The Menace of Hindu Imperialism, edited by G. Aloysius:

no freedom with caste

It is clear therefore that the motive of the priests in forming an exclusive caste was not any consideration of a religious or spiritual or racial nature but one of sheer greed for wealth, women and wine. The ridiculous extent to which they went on advocating their own unimpeachable divine greatness even so late as 100 A.D. may be seen in the Manu Smriti:-

"A brahman is born to fulfill dharma. Whatever exists in this world is the property of the brahman. On account of the excellence of his origin, he is entitled to all. The brahman eats but his own food, wears his own clothes. All mortals subsists through the benevolence of the brahman."

 " Let a brahman be ignorant or learned, still he is a great deity. To brahman, the three worlds and the gods owe their existence. Thus though brahmans employ themselves in all mean occupations they must be honored in everyway, for each of them is a great deity."

" Let the king after rising early in the morning worship brahmans who are well versed in the threefold sacred sciences and learned in policy and accept their advice." (Laws of Manu, VII 37).

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On Gujarat Riots, Tehelka and Role of Dalits and Tribals

 

Anoop Kumar

[Thanks to Taha for his comment on Gujarat riots and the role of Dalits which reminded me of this particular incident. I wanted to write about this since long but keep on postponing it as I didn't have much material except what I heard at the seminar held in Pune University]

Almost two years ago, I met one activist from Chhaara tribe (a denotifed tribe that was legally notified as 'criminals' by British and were forced to remain in confined area and could never go out without police permission). All such 'criminal' tribes, basically nomadic, were forcefully settled in one place, from Maharashtra to Gujarat to UP to Rajasthan.

 Though now denotifed but the society and the administration still treats them as criminals, even after 60 years of Independence from British rule. They hardly get any jobs, have very low penetration of education and are still seen as walking criminals and treated as such by all.

Still the police comes to these 'criminal settlements' to raid and 'catch' the culprits if there is petty crime anywhere in the city and also come to arrest youth from the community to 'parade' them as culprit for some unsolved crime and sometimes pay them for that in cash

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'Without BSP-like working culture, political power for the Dalitbahujans would be a dream! An illusion!' - Karthik Navayan

Karthik Navayan, young lawyer, human rights activist, Dalit writer and poet, shares his insights on how Dalitbahujans can work towards attaining political power in an interview with Telugu News channel TV 1. 

  

Interviewer: Karthik Navayan, who tried to raise Dalitbahujans consciousness through his poetry and writing, is now with us. We'll discuss what needs to be done to achieve political/state power for the Dalitbahujans with him. Karthik garu, you've written many articles, essays etc on this subject. What was the inspiration for your writing?

Karthik: Ours is the largest democracy in the world. The SCs, STs, BCs and the minorities together constitute 85% of the country's population while the upper castes are around 15%. When we come to our state, we have not seen a BC Chief Minister until now. When we look at the nation as a whole, we haven't seen a BC Prime Minister until now. Look at our misfortune: when Deve Gowda became the Prime Minister, he was brought down within a short time. The lack of opportunities for the SC/ST/BC leadership in the executive and administrative structure of the country... The failure to gain their trust through utilizing their energies and talents-- I think this is the cause of the continued existence of poverty, deprivation, injustice and corruption in this country.

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From Limca Books to Forbes Magazine

by Nilesh Kumar

Ideology of Bahujan Samaj Party is "Social Transformation and Economic Emancipation" of the "Bahujan Samaj" which comprises of the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and the Religious Minorities such as Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Buddhists. Reason for including all these classes is because they all were, in some way or the other, the victims of the Brahmnical system in the Country since last 1000 of years, under which they have been vanquished, trampled and forced to languish in all spheres of life. They were deprived of all those human rights which had been secured for the upper caste Hindus under the age old "Brahminical System".  

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Mayawati, statues and three types of 'political' Indians

-- Bodhi DSR ( via Anoop Kumar)

There are three types of ‘political Indians at this juncture in history - 

- the politically sophisticated, 

- the politically unsophisticated

- and the politically apolitical. 

Each of these ‘tribes’ have their own take on the statues built by Mayawati. 

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An Open Letter to Dr. Udit Raj

 

by Khalid Anis Ansari

 

This is a response to Dr. Udit Raj’s (President, Indian Justice Party) note "Rather Upper Castes are nearer to Muslim than Dalits (untouchables)". For the convenience of readers the full text of the note has been reproduced at the end of this letter.
 
[I]
 
Dear Dr. Udit Raj,
 
 
Many greetings!
 
 
 
First of all let me thank you for these interesting observations emerging from your own social experience as a political worker. But I think there is a need to go beyond a few individual cases and reflect on this as a collective social phenomenon as well. To begin with I find it slightly discomforting when a mass worker like you especially focuses on the marital transactions between Muslim and Hindu elite and fails to grasp the upper caste content of the ‘Muslims’ in this equation. Let me candidly point out that all the ‘Muslims’ you mentioned in your write-up are upper-caste ashraf Muslims, which form only 15% of the Indian Muslim population. And, the kind of transactions you talk here between upper caste Hindus and Muslims is not recent but has a history going back to medieval India. Whom did Akbar marry (Jodhabai, a Rajput)? Who were the navratnas in Akbar’s court (Birbal, a Brahmin)? Which were the spiritual books that Dara Shikoh (Aurungzeb’s brother) translated into Persian (Upanishads)? What I want to stress is that these kinds of transactions (spiritual, material and marital) between Muslim and Hindu elites is not surprising, but is and has been a persistent feature of Indian life. Let me quote from one of Masood Falahi’s interviews, a young scholar who is working on caste within Indian Muslims:

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The sorry state of OBC reservation in DU - Note by Academic Forum

by Hany Babu 

The Academic Forum for Social Justice – a form of OBC teachers of the University of Delhi – strongly condemns the arbitrary and insensitive way in which high cut-off marks have been announced for students from OBC category for admission to the undergraduate programme in the constituent colleges of the University. By declaring such high cut  off marks, the colleges are not only making a mockery of reservation, but are also unambiguously proclaiming that they have no intention of filling up the seats with OBC candidates. In spite of the fact that more than 55% of the OBC seats in the University could not be filled by OBC candidates in the year 2010-’11, only one or two colleges have been willing to give 10% relaxation in marks for OBC candidates. A prestigious college of the North Campus has fixed 98% as the cut off for OBC candidates for its BCom Honours programme. Such anti-reservation stand is not at all surprising given the fact that the University has gone for appeal against a High Court judgment which declared that “OBC candidates to avail of reservation provided for them in the CEI Act are not required to, in admission test or in the eligibility exam secure marks within the bandwidth of 10% below the cut-off marks of the last candidate admitted in the General (Unreserved) category”.

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With Thirumavalan, Meena and Samya(now Stree-Samya)

by Malarvizhi Jayanth 

We call for all those who support democracy and free speech to express solidarity with Thirumavalavan, Meena Kandasamy and Samya (now Stree-Samya).

Kathavarayan and Madurai Veeran are among the gods who are acknowledged to be Dalit and are worshipped by many castes. Clearly, in the oral history of the people, the gods have castes and these castes are not determined by who worships them.

 

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"Only ash knows the experience of burning": An Interview with Dalit Writer Jai Prakash Kardam

 

 Dr. Jai Prakash Kardam, a prolific Hindi Dalit writer, was born in a poor Dalit family in Ghaziabad, UP. India. He worked as an un-skilled labourer in construction and factories. He worked in different capacities in State/central govt./ Bank, and in Central Secretariat official Language Service (Govt. of India) as Deputy Director. At present, he is the Second Secretary in the High Commission of India in Mauritius. He has been editing an annual magazine Dalit Sahitya (Varshiki) since 1999. As many as 15 research works for M.Phil / Ph.D. have so far been completed on him and some are going on in different Universities in India and abroad. This major Dalit writer talks to Dr. Nilanshu Kumar Agarwal about several issues of Dalit literature in a detailed and pedantic interview.

jai prakash kardam

Dr. Nilanshu Kumar Agarwal: Dalit Literature unfolds the seething discontent of the Dalits towards their age-old exploitation by the upper caste people. In a way, this branch of literature is a volcano of protest against the highly irrelevant and insignificant evil custom of untouchability. The dragon of untouchability has entered the sub-conscious/ unconscious layers of Indian psyche. It can not be easily eliminated. Dalit Literature may, in the long run, help in eradicating this caste-bias from the Indian mind. To be very honest, this literature of the marginalized has carved a niche for itself in Indian Literature. Where does this literature stand right now? What is its future? What should be done to promote it more? Your suggestions, please.

Dr. Jai Prakash Kardam: Dalit literature has become the central point of the Indian literature now. It has created an important discourse, which has raised the burning questions related to the problems of the Dalits and made the society awakened about it. In spite of the fact that there are so many writers, critics etc. who still do not accept or recognize Dalit literature, it has increasingly acquired the space in the world of literature. Today Dalit literature is included in the syllabi at under-graduate and post graduation level and a large number of research works have been done and are being done in different universities in India and abroad. In fact, Dalit literature has broken the silence and non-livingness of the literature and made it living and progressive. Considering the journey of Dalit literature by now, it can be said that the future of this literature is very bright. 

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Memoirs of a Public Intellectual: Siddalingaiah

Review Article by Chandan Gowda  “Ooru-Kéri: An Autobiography,” by Siddalingaiah. Translated from Kannada by S.R.Ramakrishna, published by Sahitya Akademi, 2003. 115 pages1 Rs.60.

 

Siddalingaiah is a rare figure in contemporary India. A writer, poet, folklorist, academic, founder of Dalit Sangarsha Samhiti and former member of the Karnataka Legislative Council, Siddalingaiah is an exemplary public intellectual. First published in 1996, his autobiography has already been translated into Tamil. It is fortunate that he has become accessible to an English audience at least now.   The autobiography presents, in capsule form, events from Siddalingaiah’s childhood to the start of his adult career. Dates are absent in this book; they do not matter for this meditative autobiography.  Siddalingaiah was born to a poor Dalit family near Magadi in Karnataka. Fortunate in having helpful relatives, his family moved to the Srirampura slum in Bangalore when he had finished his second standard in school.  He soon developed an interest in studies and also became known for his oratory in high school. His unforgettable miniature sketches of his family relations, his hostel, his friends, his schoolteachers and the various characters in the slum are suffused with light-hearted wit and moral seriousness. Siddalingaiah’s wit holds us in splits while also reminding us of the absurdity of social hierarchies.  

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