Hindustan vs India

 

Kancha Ilaiah

kancha ilaiahEver since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has come to power, issues related to Muslims in India are zooming into focus.

Though during the election campaign Narendra Modi indirectly talked about "appeasement", "votebank" politics and the preferential treatment meted out to Muslims by the Congress Party, he did not make their identity an issue. He appeared to be ambivalent on that count.

However, after becoming Prime Minister, Mr Modi has consciously chosen to treat "Indian Islam" as "un-Indian", even though the BJP boasts of a few Muslim members. One of the first indicators of this was that in his capacity as Prime Minister he did not wish Muslims "Id Mubarak", Id being the most significant festival celebrated by the community on the completion of the holy month of Ramzan. He also consciously avoided hosting an Iftar party, a tradition upheld by earlier Prime Ministers. His refusal to wear a skull cap on an earlier occasion is also an indication of his bias against Islam.

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Ambedkar Needs No Introduction

 

Gail Omvedt

Gail Omvedt
Book: The Annihilation of Caste
Author: BR Ambedkar
Publisher: Navayana
Pages: 415 pages
Price: Rs 525

The annotated edition of Ambedkar's Annihilation of Caste is prefaced by an article by Arundhati Roy entitled 'The Doctor and the Saint,' which takes up one aspect of Ambedkar's theoretical and philosophical work. Roy's essay is listed as an introduction but is actually an independent essay. It is a long, critical account, mainly of Gandhi, though it deals with Ambedkar too. The focus on Gandhi prevents her from dealing with the issues raised in Annihilation of Caste. For this reason, many Dalits have been angry with Roy and with Navayana for the inclusion of Roy's essay as such a prominent part of the book.

Of the issues raised in Annihilation..., perhaps the most important is that of the authority of the Hindu scriptures. Ambedkar argues that inter-dining and intermarriage are of no use, that the power of caste rests on the belief in the authority of the shastras, and that this has to be destroyed. Religious revolution must precede social reform.

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HRD: It’s not Hindu Resource Development

 

Kancha Ilaiah

kancha ilaiahWhen a religion treats the labouring castes as impure, naturally the indignity of labour becomes the essence of the nation. Does not this situation need to change?

The Modi government seems to believe that a change should be brought in school curriculum by re-working the text books that NCERT brings out. To this effect the ministry of human resource development, it appears, is taking steps. According to reports in the media, lessons from Vedas and Upanishads will be incorporated in the text books to educate the student community about ancient Indian civilisation and culture. There is not just one view of ancient India. The so-called Vedic view is nothing but the Brahminic view.

No one should have any objection if those sections of Vedas and Upanishads which focus on human equality in the realm of spiritual systems of India are included in the text books. But along with such portions from Vedas and Upanishads, the egalitarian teachings from the Buddhist Suthas and Pitakas, and Jain theories of non-violence should also be included. Equally important are the materialist discourses of Charvakas, which injected the earliest rational thinking among our ancestors. The Dalitist narrative of ancient India, which focuses a great deal on production and science, is also extremely relevant to the discourse of development today.

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Adivasi woman fights back sexual harassment

 

Priyashri Mani

On the 3rd of May, a young adivasi girl (Madi*) from the Bettakurumba tribe was sexually assaulted by a guard working in the Forest Department. Madi lives in a village inside the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu.

In the past, the Forest Department has been the single largest threat to the adivasis living in the forest. They routinely harass those who inhabit their ancestral lands. Officials beat and threaten to imprison tribals who collect fire wood and honey despite the Forest Rights Act (2006) which assures them these rights. Given the situation, fewer and fewer adivasi women venture into the forest. Madi's story is just one more example of the vulnerability of adivasi women at the hands of the state and its functionaries.

Madi was working at a local PDS shop inside the forest as a shop attendant, where a forest guard illegally ran a business of selling his items to customers of the ration shop. On the pretext of discussing work he insisted she come to his house to discuss something urgent. When she arrived at his house, she realized that he was the only one there. Subsequently she was sexually assaulted by him before she was able to scream for help. Even after she was released by him and returned home, she continued to receive unwarranted phone calls from him.

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The linked caste slavery of the Kolhatis and the Bedias

 

Rupali Bansode

rupaliDuring my field work for research on female Tamasha artistes, I was fascinated by a few interesting links I found between the two communities: Bedias and Kolhatis. In a recent conference, where I presented my paper on Tamasha dancers, I pointed out the link between these communities and was questioned on its validity by few researchers, working on the same line. Therefore, this is an attempt to discuss the association between these two communities, with special reference to the lives of women. The debates on the axis of Caste-Gender-Sexuality-Labour are important topics, and are discussed by Dalit women and feminist groups. Though I have discussed these debates in brief, I am more interested in understanding the underlying intersectional links and realities of caste, gender and labor relations of our society that force women from these communities to remain in extremely marginalized states, with very few choices for equal and upward mobility.

In the initial phase of selecting this theme for my research, my hypothesis was that only Mahar and Mang communities of Maharashtra are involved in Tamasha. With more research and field work, I realized that even Kolhatis are involved in this profession. My zeal to know more about the community led me to an outstanding work by Kishore Shantabai Kale, who himself was from the Kolhati community and the son of a female Tamasha artiste. Despite facing humiliation and anguish from family members, peers and teachers at college level, Kale succeeded and become a doctor. He wrote his autobiography called, 'Kolhyatyache Por' which was highly acclaimed.

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Years ago…

 

Pradnya Jadhav

pradnya-jadhavYears ago, she had a dream of attending school, completing graduation, getting a job and settling down. But yes, it was just a dream. The reality was all different, her parents arranged her marriage, and she lived with her husband for almost three years, by now she had two babies. So she thought she would raise her children, educate them and make their life better. It was never that easy though, one day she saw her husband entering home with another woman. Yes, her husband had got married to another woman and asked her to leave his home with her two children. Later, the caste panchayat approved their divorce, and then she started staying with her parents. One day, her parents came to her with another man, and told her that they are going to get her married to him. He was almost 20 years older than her, was a widower and had a son from his previous wife. She never wanted to remarry but couldn't help herself, and got married to him. Now everything was going somehow well for her and in a year she gave birth to a baby girl...

The baby was now nine months old, it was late midnight and she found that her daughter – her only world – was not beside her on the bed. She started searching for the baby... screaming out, weeping, but her daughter was not there. After an hour, her husband and step-son came home along with the baby, told her that they had taken the baby along with them when they went out. She was surprised, shocked to see her baby didn't move, didn't cry, and didn't open her eyes... The baby was covered in a cloth, she took it off and found that the baby had cuts on her body, her vagina... She was almost going to faint thinking about what must have had happened to her daughter. Yes, she realised her husband gave her sleeping tablets so that he could take the baby away while she was asleep and rape her, her husband and step-son had raped the nine month old baby.

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