Buddhism and Politics in Uttar Pradesh: Recent Developments

 

Shiv Shankar Das

shiv_shankar_das

Abstract: The present research note highlights the relationship and the reasons behind the association between the lower caste politics and Buddhism in Uttar Pradesh, the most populated state in India next only to China, United States, Brazil and Russia. There are three reasons behind this association. First, the currently ruling Bahujan Samaj Party's founder Kanshi Ram's ideology of cultural change, secondly, the vision of lower castes' champion Dr. B. R. Ambedkar to make the country as a Prabudh Bharat (Buddhist India), and thirdly the compatible and advantageous growth rate of Buddhist community in the state due to conversion of lower castes.

Since a long period, the image of Uttar Pradesh has been that of a backward or 'sick state' in terms of economic and social development. Few developments indicates that it has started to take a new twist, as recently the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) credited the economic growth of Uttar Pradesh as on par with even the most developed states such as Gujarat, and others.1 Many vital economic parameters indicate the promising face of Uttar Pradesh. The planning ministry revealed that UP was among five states which had higher growth rates than their 11th Plan (2007-12) targets. Its GDP grew at 7.28% as against a target of 6.10%.2 In 2011, it was also awarded “best performing state in agriculture” by the Union Government. The state was rated as the best performing state in food grain production, clocking 47.138 million ton during 2010-11 and was given a cash prize of Rs. 2 crore, along with a trophy and a citation.3

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Of Laws, Cows and People’s Mutinies: Will the beef ban in BJP-ruled states fuel a new Mutiny?

 

Cynthia Stephen

The Gau-Vansh Vadh Pratishedh (Sanshodhan) Vidheyak (Prohibition of slaughter of cow-progeny Bill) just passed in Madhya Pradesh empowers the government to prosecute any person found slaughtering a cow or even transporting the calf for the purpose of slaughter. Anyone found guilty of this act would face seven years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of Rs 5000.

cow_judge_copyIn March 2010, the Karnataka assembly passed the The Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2010 by voice vote after uproarious scenes, and a four-hour acrimonious debate. All sections of the opposition were against the bill, which caused much consternation in Karnataka. One of the largest popular mobilizations in recent years was held in the Tasker Town grounds in March 2010 by a broad cross-section of progressives, minority groups and farmer's groups to protest the bill just as it was being discussed. It was passed by both houses but has not become law as the Governor has sent it for Presidential assent. According to the Deccan Herald, the bill prohibits slaughter of cattle, sale, usage and possession of beef, puts restriction on transport of cattle and also prohibits sale, purchase or disposal of cattle for slaughter. The offence is punishable with imprisonment not less than one year which may extend up to seven years or a fine between Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 or both; second and subsequent offence would attract a fine of not less than Rs 50,000 up to Rs one lakh along with imprisonment penalty.

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4.5 Percent OBC Religious Minority Sub-quota: A Disservice To Secular Nationalism

 

Ashok Yadav

01. Overwhelming majority of population who have been discriminated against and oppressed on the basis of their caste identity since time immemorial and the history of bloody religious conflicts before, during and after independence in 1947 make social justice and secularism the two pillars on which the entire democratic structure of our country rests. In fact, social justice and secularism are twin concepts which can be separated from each other only by putting at risk the democratic polity. The action of communal forces to take out rath yatra after decision to implement Mandal commission recommendation by V P Singh government highlights hostility of communalism against social justice. The action of the then Bihar Chief Minister to arrest the rath yatri and resultant consolidation of his politics of social justice further highlights the interdependence of social justice and secularism and the support these two principles provide to our democratic polity.

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Janlokpal bill: a brahmanic and patriarchal script (part 2)

Anu Ramdas 

Continued from here

Myth making traditions are uncannily similar in wars and movements of the dominant classes, even before the enemy has been clearly identified, weapons get fashioned. That the JLB is a weapon against the national 'enemy' is very clear. But who is this enemy? In other words, who are the corrupt against whom this massive weapon is to be deployed?

hazare-hanuman

It is much easier to find the corrupt in the JLB than finding out what the authors mean by corruption. We meet the enemy on page 7. The corrupt here are neither the ones who are stripping our forests and ravaging the earth for ores, nor the forces that perpetually underpay and exploit women and the working classes, not those who keep significant numbers of citizens undernourished, starved, unsheltered, unclothed, deprived of basic rights and services, not those who make our stomachs churn with ostentatious 9 nine day wedding bashes, and definitely not the mafia and criminal gangs cited earlier. It turns out this document's creators have identified one category of workers: The public servants!

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Janlokpal bill: a brahmanic and patriarchal script

Anu Ramdas

The Jan Lokpal bill is under 35 pages. The creators of this document successfully manufactured a 'revolution' out of this. The corporate media sold it as such, and some academics called it a 'movement'.

Media and academia largely did not comment on the contents of the document. Their preoccupation was with the leaders on the dais and the people on the Ramlila grounds.

In a caste ordered, rigidly patriarchal society like ours, exclusion of dalitbahujan men and women is the default status when socio-political changes are framed by upper-caste, male-dominated power groups, such as Kejriwal's team. Unless contested, this group of unelected civil society actors will not concede their male and caste privileges. Hence all their formulations have to be meticulously examined for their apparent and hidden biases against women and non-dominant castes.

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What does Dr.Ambedkar say about the Bhagvat Gita?

 

Kuffir

As the court in the Siberian town of Tomsk deliberates on whether the Bhagvat Gita is 'extremist' literature, the Indian government and parliament seem to have forgotten their own sanctimonious injunction of 'non-inteference in the internal affairs of other countries' (used traditionally to defend such obnoxious pratices as 'untouchability' and 'caste discrimination') to pressurise the Russian goverment to subvert due legal process and somehow persuade the Tomskians to find the Gita non-extremist. And as expected, Indian mainstream media, which has often gone to extreme lengths to protect its exclusive upper caste character, is now going into an overdrive finding men and mantras to defend the Gita. But what was not expected was certain views of Dr.Ambedkar, quoted out of context, being cited to defend, obliquely, the philosophy of the Gita, in at least one popular internet magazine. Which is very disturbing, considering Dr. Ambedkar had clearly called the Gita 'counter-revolutionary'. It is also worth noting that it is the same magazine which had earlier tried to label Dr. Ambedkar's economic philosophy as monetarist, and as supporting free markets.

ambedkar in library

 

What does Dr. Ambedkar say about the Bhagvat Gita? He specifically talks about the Gita in one unfinished chapter of his book 'Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India' (Chapter 9, of Part III, which you can find online here, at Ambedkar.org). The Chapter is called 'Essays on the Bhagwat Gita : Philosophic Defence of Counter-Revolution: Krishna and His Gita'. In the introductory part of the chapter, he quotes various modern scholars' views on the Gita, their thoughts on its 'contradictions' and 'inconsistencies'. In the excerpt published below, Babasaheb outlines his core arguments. The excerpt has been arranged to resemble an interview, but this interview never happened. 

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Killings in the name of witchcraft

Karthik Navayan

[A February, 2010 article in Oneworld South Asia gives us an idea about the scale of the problem of 'witch-hunting' in rural India: 'Statistics on witch-hunting crimes compiled by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) are a cause of concern. The NCRB reported that in 2007, 177 cases of witchcraft-related murders were reported from the above mentioned states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Orissa). Jharkhand had the dubious distinction of reporting 50 witchcraft- related murders, followed by Andhra Pradesh with 33; Haryana at 30; Orissa with 28; Madhya Pradesh with 14, Chhattisgarh with 8 and Gujarat with only one reported case.' 

Other news reports say: 'Between 2001 and 2008, 452 women were killed in Jharkhand, according to a report by an NGO, Association for Social and Human Activities'

As with all other instances of atrocities, obviously, what is being recorded by activists, noticed by officialdom and reported in the mainstream media represents only a mere tiny fragment of what's actually happening. Karthik Navayan, who has studied a few cases of witch-hunting in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh, shares his thoughts on the issue in this article-- Round Table India]

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Not just a legislation - Political will is needed to fight it

We know people are killed in the name of factions, and 'encounters', but the number of people branded and killed as sorcerers is also of a similar scale. Literacy doesn't seem to make a difference to people's thinking: not only the illiterate but even the educated encourage belief in such superstitions. As society itself is producing this kind of 'sorcerers', the very society must put an end to such superstitious beliefs. 

Dr. Ambedkar had said, the villages in our country are full of illiteracy, foolishness, and factions. The atmosphere in village society hasn't been conducive for change right from Ambedkar's time. Some people in the villages are exploiting the beliefs of the common people in the notions of devils, mantras etc. The notion of god itself is the root of all superstition. So first of all, we have to strike at this root and only then will we be able to remove all such superstitions.

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For a popular movement against caste discrimination

Milon Das

We live in one of the poorest countries of the world. From a geographical perspective, Bangladesh is located within the Indian sub-continent. And here, since a very long time, the caste system has engulfed all venues of life. Many think that Bangladesh being predominantly a Muslim country caste discrimination does not apply to it. This thought however is highly mistaken. Even in a Muslim country like Bangladesh caste discrimination is pervasive, having infiltrated the texture of culture and thus having become common practice in every religious community, Christians included. Because of caste discrimination, in the sub-continent, so called outcaste people are deprived of their human dignity and rights. Even at present hundreds of millions of people are considered lesser human beings simply because of their work and low birth status.

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Caste through Democracy part-II

Prabin Dhangada Majhi

Even the staunchest supporters of reservation flinch at the question of rich SC/ST students hogging the quota.The following discussion, on a request from fellow blogger Yayavar, assumes we have a similar understanding of the reservation policy which I have outlined previously. So I'll build up on that, and in case we differ, we need to resolve that before we get into the nitty-gritty like this one.

The first question I would ask is, does it-with the rich SC/ST getting in through quota-meet the objective of the reservation policy- a mechanism which ensures adequate representation from all sections of the society in a democracy?

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Caste through Democracy part-I

Prabin Dhangada Majhi

We must begin with an education in democracy. Without assuming democracy can be of just one form and can be summed up only thus, let's define it as a process where all citizens participate in decision making and are influenced, equally. Because, most large democracies are representative democracies following an aggregation of choices/voices/votes, representation is crucial to uphold equality. It is just a form of governance to begin with, it does not do away with pre-existing social groupings and social hierarchies. So it seeks to dismantle the later, at least in the functioning of the democracy.

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Dalit woman leader not allowed to lead

Translation by Lavanya Raj Bharathi 


An atrocity such as this continues unstopped, only in Tamilnadu. This atrocity is yet another example for how caste inequalities run strong and deep in the state's soil, like the roots of the Banyan.

On Wednesday, the Kayaththar panchayat (near Kovilpatti) committee meeting took place in the panchayat committee office. The announcements for the meeting were carried out according to the rules and regulations of the local administration. Based on these rules, the Collector, the Planning Officer, the MP, MLA, District Panchayat President, Assistant Director of Rural development, Panchayat Officer, District Development Officer, members of the committee, Press and Television media personnel, were all informed of the meeting.

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The Touch of Ambedkar (part II)

by Thamburaj Dharmaraj 

(Continued from The Touch of Ambedkar (Part I))

The shadow puppeteers’ mother tongue is not Tamil.  Among themselves they speak a remote dialect of Marathi, which is their only communicative medium.  To interact with others they use Tamil language.  They claim their caste identity as ‘Mandikar’.  The names of men of this community have the suffix ‘Rao’ while names of women have ‘Bai’.

They retell a popular migration tale regarding their arrival in Tamilnadu from the present day Maharashtra way back during the reign of King Saraboji of Tanjore.  Their oral records recounts a tale about their migration with the regiments of the king.  Such stories of affiliation with the state and power for their community give them immense pleasure.  Moreover they strongly believed that their community’s existence was solely to sing and spread the story of Rama. 

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