Karamchedu in Lakshimpeta

Kathi Padma Rao

(This is a translation of his recent article 'Lakshimpetalo 'Karamchedu'')

The oppression of the Dalits continues unabated in the state. Whichever dominant castes are in power, people belonging to those castes continue to conduct violent attacks on the Dalits. When NTR was in power, six Dalits were brutally killed in Karamchedu, his samdhi's village. When Nedurumalli Janardhan Reddy was in power, they chopped off the heads of eight Dalits in Chunduru of Guntur district, and dumped them in the Tungabhadra. Now when Botsa Satyanarayana, who calls himself a BC, is the Pradesh Congress President, Botsa Vasudeva Naidu and his horde of Toorpu Kapus, armed with swords and axes, have tortured and killed the Dalits of Lakshimpeta in Srikakulam district.


What really happened? The landowning Toorpu Kapus of Lakshimpeta village in Vangara mandal of Srikakulam district surrounded the Dalitwada of the village at seven in the morning. Groups of around twenty people each, armed with deadly weapons, laid siege to every house. They dragged the people from their homes and showered inhuman abuse and insults on them. 'You Mala ba#$%^s, you think you've grown big enough to be cultivators?' they ranted in their caste arrogance. Shouting 'You think you can till fields alongside us?' they launched a brutal attack on Nivirti Venkati (60), his son Nivirti Sangamesu (35), Burada Sundar Rao (35) and Chittari Appadu (25).


We will agitate for the arrest of the Lakshimpeta killers

[This is a translation of the statement on the Lakshimpeta massacre issued by social, human rights organizations and activists on 17th June 2012 - Round Table India]

On 12th June, 2012, caste arrogant Toorpu Kapus, misidentified as BCs, carried out a murderous attack on the Malas of Lakshimpeta village in Vangara mandal of Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh. This inhuman attack was not an unplanned, minor incident. And it is definitely not an event caused by vendetta or a conflict arising out of some land related dispute between two groups, not directly connected with caste discrimination. This disinformation, spread with the intent to suppress the main reason of caste discrimination and reduce the gravity of the heinous attack and to divert the attention of progressive social, democratic forces, is not true. This was a pre-planned, carefully orchestrated one-sided massacre by caste arrogant Kapus. The fact that only Dalits were killed and injured in this violent attack provides ample proof of the true nature of the attack.



Buddhism in Lucknow: History and Culture from Alternative Sources

Shiv Shankar Das

The history of Buddhism in India was brought back in its glory mainly by the colonial period's excavations, when many statues and other Buddhist symbols were found by archeologists. Besides, the Bhikkhus who came to India, chiefly Bhikkhu Dhammapal, Bodhanand and Pragyanand, from Sri Lanka during the last and the first quarter of 20th and 21st century, respectively, contributed immensely to the revival of Buddhist history and culture in the northern part of the country. The Buddhists in Lucknow quickly name these Bhikkhus in the history of Buddha-Dhamma in Lucknow. Among Barau Buddhists, Bhikkhu Kripasaran is very much credited with spreading Buddha-Dhamma here. The role of Dr. Ambedkar is duly credited by both: Ambedkar-Buddhists as well as Barau-Buddhists.


The 'dirt' in The Dirty Picture: Caste, Gender and Silk Smitha

Jenny Rowena

Jenny_2_copy_copyOn first or second Saturday coming after the Hindu New Year's Day (Gudhi padawa), the devadasis, who are mostly dalitbahujans, were openly sexually enjoyed in public, about hundred years ago.

This is now replaced by another tradition called "Okali", which was in vogue till 1987. It is a festival like 'Rang Panchami'. The young boys from higher castes assemble around a pool of coloured water in front of town temple. Young devadasis in the town stand in front of them in a row, and each receives a sari, a choli and a flower garland. The coloured water is poured over the devadasis who appear virtually naked as the cloths given to them are very thin, scanty, delicate and transparent. The boys play with the bodies of devadasis as they like, doing everything just short of sexual intercourse. All assembled enjoy the scene. This happens in the name of god 'Bili Kallappa'. [Uttam Kamble, Sugawa, p. 81]

Vasant Rajas describes another custom, called "Sidi attu" in town Madakeripura in Karnataka which was in vogue till 1987, when it was banned by the Govt. Here a devadasi is suspended [on a rope balanced on] a hook in her back on one end of a transverse rod placed on a vertical pole planted in ground, and rotated by a rope at the other end. She salutes the gathering, while her garments fly and all the naked lower part of her body is visible to all, for their amusement. This was supposed to bring prosperity to town, and the devadasi used to get a sari, a choli, a coconut and a betel nut, for which she thanked the gathering. [p. 27]


UP Heading for Dark Age


Raj Kumar

Ever since the change of government in Uttar Pradesh in the month of March 2012, the state is witnessing very bizarre, obscurantist and lamentable politics and some of the decisions of new government are profoundly baffling to democratic civilized society. The people of Uttar Pradesh voted Samajwadi Party (SP) to power with absolute majority, but by now, they must have started realizing the Frankenstein they have created, if one analyzes the retrograde decisions taken by Akhilesh Yadav government devaluing social diversity and inclusive growth. A change of government is supposed to bring exuberance to the state apparatus and extricate the masses from the lethargy and banality of the outgoing government. But the new government in the name of change is apparently involved in the most backward looking misadventures. Specially its decision to scrap girl child education incentive scheme is most perplexing and smacks of its feudalistic orientations. Constitution envisages justice to all and makes special provisions to the deprived sections to make India a truly egalitarian and sane society. The goodwill of illiterate, poor and half starved masses towards constitution is the testimony of the constitutional commitment it has with the neediest.



The warriors who slayed babies and other tales

Rahi Gaikwad

rahi gaikwadThe name Ranvir is usually given to a boy. It means brave warrior or battle hero. This is the name a section of landed castes in Bihar, chiefly the Bhumihar landlords, adopted to christen themselves as an army of warriors, the Ranvir Sena

In Hindu mythology, the idea of the warrior king who wages a battle against demons to root out evil is all-pervasive. These god-vs.-demon battles involve killing, beheading, slaying and using all kinds of tricks to ensnare the enemy. The warrior in Hindu faith, epitomised in the legend of Ram in popular myth-making, is ascribed the quintessential "masculine" virtues of physical strength by virtue of which he is able to be the guardian and protector of the religious moral order.

Hindutva extremist groups share and draw upon this concept in their aggressive pursuit that takes on battle-like proportions, to maintain their supremacy in a certain social order they believe has been ordained by religion and tradition.


Cartoons, Caste and Epistemic Violence


Nilesh Kumar 



'These upper-caste authors who are forever miles away from reality and who can only make ceremonial and meaningless speeches in big meetings, can never understand what we the shudras and atishudras have to suffer and what calamities we have to undergo. All this is not entirely unknown to the high-caste founders of various conferences and organizations. They pretend to be modernists..' - Jotiba Phule

The conscious acts of the NCERT advisers in the selection, inclusion and now defense of Shankar's cartoon on the 'delay' in the constitution making process is up for examination by one and all. Depending on the location from where it is being examined all these processes can be read as complex or simple, moral or immoral. From an anti-caste perspective with respect to Dr Ambedkar's representation in school textbooks: violence lies in the acts of exclusion, selective inclusion and misrepresentation. I would like to elaborate on this systematic and strategic alienation of Dr Ambedkar in mainstream literature, textbooks and even in caste studies as a type of violence that enables the maintenance of status quo or caste hierarchy.



Critical Reading of NCERT text ‘Indian Constitution at Work’

Lalit Khandare

The National Curriculum Framework 2005 for social sciences states:

"In the social sciences, the approach proposed in the NCF recognises disciplinary markers while emphasising integration on significant themes, such as water. A paradigm shift is recommended, proposing the study of the social sciences from the perspective of marginalised groups. Gender justice and a sensitivity towards issues related to SC and ST communities and minority sensibilities must inform all sectors of the social sciences. Civics should be recast as political science, and the significance of history as a shaping influence on the child's conception of the past and civic identity should be recognized " (pg. ix)[1]

Indeed, the National Curriculum Framework 2005 attempts to disembark from the uncritical, undemocratic, pedagogic practices to advance towards a critical, democratic and an egalitarian outlook.


"It's really cruel burdening kids like this. I had to hire that boy to help my son!"

Source: Page 77 of National Curriculum Framework, 2005


The Cartoon Controversy: Inside the Mind of one ‘fanatic’ Dalit -II



Continued from here.

Anoop Kumar

When I saw the cartoon - and at the time I googled, there were only 3 images available - I spontaneously recoiled at the violence in the cartoon. I had to check again and again to confirm if it was indeed the controversial one because the cartoon was so plainly disgusting that I could not see why there should be two sides about it. It did not merit discussion before condemning it. The violence of the whip, the violence against Dr Ambedkar and the obvious symbolisms conveyed themselves so starkly that I did not have to think twice about what was wrong with it. I needed no discussions, or read any posts to convince me that the cartoon was an act of upper caste violence. And I am surprised that instead of unequivocally condemning it, apologizing for the violence, and rushing to make amends, many are still discussing it, hoping to justify the cartoon, and forcing those who lack the funny bone to get one. I think the controversy is about the gaze. Is yours an upper caste gaze? You may not feel so violated after all.

- Sruthi Herbert, a friend, writes in Facebook on NCERT textbook cartoon controversy


I think the controversy is about the gaze. Is yours an upper-caste gaze?

On 13th May, a couple of days after the controversy on Dr Ambedkar's cartoon in NCERT Text Book had erupted in the Indian parliament, a PhD student from JNU, New Delhi, himself a brilliant cartoonist, Unnamati Syama Sundar posted a cartoon made by K. Shankar Pillai which was published originally in 1933, in 'Hindustan Times', an English daily. This cartoon was later reproduced in Telugu newspaper 'Krishna Patrika' with accompanying text that says:

M.K. Acharya is trying to increase the taint of untouchability in Hinduism and M.K. Gandhi is trying to clean it, whereas B.R. Ambedkar is trying to break the foundations of Hinduism called Varnashram, while the Western society is laughing at the whole situation.


Unnamati posted the scanned copy of this cartoon, taken from the Telugu newspaper, on his Facebook profile without leaving any interpretation of his own. Instantly, this cartoon became an internet rage, getting hundreds of "likes" and massive "sharing" on the social networking site and a little later it got picked up by various websites, blogs too.


Ambedkar’s Cartoon and the Caste question


Raj Kumar

A harrowing monologue is in vogue in the popular media and academic forums apropos a cartoon of Dr. Ambedkar in a Political Science textbook prepared by NCERT for its Class XI students. Apparently, in the cartoon, Ambedkar is depicted being whipped by Jawaharlal Nehru for delaying the framing of the constitution. The cartoon was first published in 1949 and was drawn by cartoonist Shankar Pillai. Though in interior Dalit circles, the cartoon was being despised for denigrating 'Baba Saheb' as they lovingly call him, no heed was paid to their sentiments till the issue was raised in the Parliament and taken up by Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati. Government had to concede and the cartoon was removed from the textbook and HRD minister made a public apology for the goof-up followed by resignation of two academicians involved with the curriculum committee.

This generated a tormented reaction from the academicians as an attack on freedom of speech and the Dalits becoming intolerant and some zealots of freedoms of speech even castigating Dalits as new fascists. Very few reactions have come from the Dalits in this ongoing intimidating academic exercise. The whole controversy and the consequent fallout must be seen in the context of higher education and its poverty in terms of social diversity. One must not forget the fact that Dalits are still suffering from the academic untouchability, more so in higher education. With more than half million teachers at university and college level across the country, Dalits do not account for more than two percent, and most of them are at the assistant professor level only. In academic institutions the real power rests with the professors and the Dalit professors in the country can be counted on finger tips, at less than hundred in both state and central universities. Most of the committees, commissions and institutions responsible for preparing, executing and monitoring academic affairs enjoy pristine brahamanical purity, devoid of representative diversity and therefore fail to project the collective sensibilities. NCERT is no exception to this.


Ambedkar Cartoon, Dalit Objections and Indian Left Liberals - II



Continued from here.

This is the second, concluding part of the transcript of the interview Ravi Chandran, of the video news journal 'Dalit Camera: Through Un-Touchable Eyes', conducted with Dr K. Satyanarayana, Associate Professor, Department of Cultural Studies, English and Foreign Languages University (EFL-U) on the recent Ambedkar cartoon controversy.

Dr K. Satyanarayana: If you take the syllabus of political science at post graduate level or at various levels, are we reading Ambedkar as a political thinker? You might have one or two articles from scholars, maybe from Gail Omvedt or Eleanor (Zelliot) or recently from Valerian Rodriques on Ambedkar's thought, or Ambedkar as an untouchable thinker, but not Ambedkar as a political theorist. Ambedkar is not centrally seen as a political thinker, not only Ambedkar, the entire generation of anti-caste intellectuals and leaders and dalit movement is not at the centre of political science today. Political science looks at dalits only in the context of elections as vote banks and this is a serious failure on the part of political science.




So when dalits are talking about representation of Ambedkar, they are talking about substantial representation of Ambedkar engaging with his intellectual and political thoughts. You may say that this is not possible in the textbook but you have to discuss about it and acknowledge that it is a complex and challenging task and it involves a lot of difficulties.


Ambedkar Cartoon, Dalit Objections and Indian Left Liberals - I



Ravi Chandran, of the video news journal 'Dalit Camera: Through Un-Touchable Eyes', interviewed Dr K. Satyanarayana, Associate Professor, Department of Cultural Studies, English and Foreign Languages University (EFL-U) on the recent Ambedkar cartoon controversy. Here's the first part of the transcript of the interview:

Ravi Chandran: Sir, how do you see the division between left-liberal intellectuals and Dalit intellectuals on the Dr. Ambedkar cartoon controversy in the NCERT test book?

Dr K. Satyanarayana: I have been following the discussion on this controversy. I was really surprised that there is this very sharp divide between the left-liberal intellectuals and Dalits. These two groups have taken entirely different positions on it. And if there is anything to be said about this controversy, the most striking feature is the position taken by the liberal and left intellectuals and especially those who are part of making these textbooks. It is shocking to me.




Let us outline what is the position of left-liberal intellectuals on this controversy and what are one or two Dalit intellectuals and other dalit activists are saying, what are the two different kinds of views and why there is division between the two.


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