(Round Table India thanks Savari for sharing this article)
Universally, the imagery of a whip evokes the reality of violence throughout human history. The whip is inseparable from violence against slaves, dalits, women, animals and children. Almost all histories of protest against injustice, be it feminism, anti-slavery, anti-caste or anti-apartheid movements have protested and continue to protest the symbolic violence in imagery that uses instruments of violence such as the whip, noose or chains.
In recent weeks, an almost seamless coming together of Indian scholars, feminists and educators to defend and uphold a textbook cartoon with whipping as the central theme is perhaps one of the finest commentary on caste violence.
Caste violence is a broad handle for inter-operating kinds of violences that dalits and lower castes experience from those who are situated in the higher order. This violence that we are witnessing now comes from the most educationally qualified members of our society, largely upper caste, and hindu. The cartoon defense by upper caste scholars and feminists has presented us an unique opportunity to tease apart a few distinct forms of violence including secular violence, punitive, verbal and visual violence, all of which coalesce together to construct the pedagogic violence that frames the textbooks and classrooms of this country.