'Great boast, little roast': DSE and Bahujan students

Preeti Koli and Ritika Koli

ritika and preeti koliDr. B.R. Ambedkar said: "Turn in any direction you like, caste is the monster that crosses your path. You cannot have political reform; you cannot have economic reform unless you kill this monster." (Ambedkar, 1936)

Caste-based microaggressions are not new to any of the Bahujan students who manage to enter educational spaces which are historically and predominantly upper caste spaces. We get to hear casteist comments filled with hatred from upper caste folks on a regular basis. When I was in the last year of my under graduation, I still remember how a friend of mine made a casteist remark on getting into DSE. Dalit to them is the one who is malnourished, poor, and always begging to get basic things to survive-

"hum bhi muh par kalikh laga lete hain aur DSE ko jake bol denge hum SC hain, hume admission dedo sir (We'll also put soot on our face, go to DSE and say we belong to a scheduled caste, give us admission sir)" were the exact words of my friend.


We the people: Dismantling Legitimacy of Coercive Power- Part 4


Pranav Jeevan P


"If a larger country oppresses a smaller country, I'll stand with the smaller country. If the smaller country has majoritarian religion that oppresses minority religions, I'll stand with minority religions. If the minority religion has caste and one caste oppresses another caste, I'll stand with the caste being oppressed. In the oppressed caste, if an employer oppresses his employee, I'll stand with the employee If the employee goes home and oppresses his wife, I'll stand with that woman. Overall, Oppression is my enemy" - Periyar E. V. Ramasamy

Every single social interaction we have in our day-to-day life mostly involves adhering to one hierarchy or another. We are programmed to respect these coercive hierarchies of gender, caste, class, sexuality, culture, language, religion and tastes. These hierarchies are reinforced in our family, educational institutions, workplaces, public spaces and government. A critical analysis of these hierarchies is essential to understand who holds power over us and to delegitimize that power, which they use to coerce us into submission. Democracy is about dismantling these power hierarchies and redistributing power equally among the people so that they are not coerced and exploited.


Poona Pact & a Dalit-CM


Dr Jas Simran Kehal

dr jas kehal 1Revisiting Poona pact through literature, I was wondering what frame of mind Dr Ambedkar would have been in prior to signing the pact. One needs to have nerves of steel to single-handedly manage that sort of tough bargain while safeguarding interests of the depressed classes. That somber mood was disrupted by crowning of a Dalit chief minister and the subsequent reaction from my online community, which was initially euphoric and later inquisitive.

When queries continued to pound, I flipped over my reading material from Poona Pact and ended up at Kanshi Ram's "The Chamcha Age". As rightly stated by Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes that "The pen is tongue of the mind"; I decided to wield mine on the eve of the historic Poona Pact day.

To put an end to this entire hullabaloo over the issue of a Dalit CM and restore insight among our masses, I have coined three phrases which appear similar but are poles apart:

1. A leader who is a Dalit.

2. A Dalit Leader

3. An Ambedkarite Leader. 


Dalit movement must provide our students a positive identity: Anoop Kumar


Anoop Kumar 

(This is the transcript of his speech at an international conference on Babasaheb Ambedkar in Tokyo, Japan, in October 2018)

Thank you very much. Jai Bhim and good morning to all. My name is Anoop and I've been teaching for the past 5-6 years in Wardha. Today, I am going to speak on the problems, which our Dalit students face in higher education. I have been working on this issue since the last 20 years almost- first as a student and later on as an activist, and now as a teacher.             anoop kumar

I will put forward, whatever experience that I have gained through working on this issue. The Indian constitution has provided reservation in education for Dalits. It has been the single most important factor in Dalit empowerment.

Reservation has empowered millions of Dalits to come out of their marginalization & deprivation, to lead a life of dignity.

Still, there are various gaps to be filled to provide equal opportunities in real terms for Dalit students. I am trying to list some of the gaps, which are problems for the Dalit students, despite the reservation policies.


How the caste census became a national issue and thereby a Brahmin problem



neha yadavAs the 16th census of India is about to be conducted, several marginalized organizations and leaders have intensified their demand for a caste census. This is happening in the background, when the government is yet to publish the caste wise data of 2011 census and the parliament has been informed that the government has no intention of enumerating caste based census in the upcoming census of 2021.

Though the decadal census that is conducted in India records the population of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the caste census of 1931 (pre independence India) serves as data for estimating the OBC population in India.

A nationwide demographic record on how various castes are placed in Indian society remains unclear. The demand for a caste based census, enumerating data relating to all castes, is a long pending demand in this light.


My journey from a Brahmanic kid to a truth seeking adult


Amol Shingade

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 As settled nomadic people, we have a house in the middle of the village. We are largely dependent on agricultural activities happening at the village level. However, before coming to Pune for graduation, the image of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was as a leader of only the Dalits. This image was created in my mind by my parents and the surroundings in which we grew up. 

My parents are not educated, they belong to a nomadic background but they strongly believe that they are superior to Dalits therefore, they told me many times that Babasaheb has never done anything for us. I remember in fourth grade we had a chapter on Babasaheb in a textbook. That chapter described the struggle of Babasaheb.


Mirabai Chanu – Bahujan, Brahmin or just Meitei?




 How digital activism narratives around the athlete exposed structural racism towards the ‘chinky northeasterner’

When Mirabai made news as the first woman to score a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, people across several socio-political factions were quick to claim her. Her win evoked nationalistic pride and sentiments and celebratory posts poured in. A congratulatory cartoon depicting her as the Mirabai of the Bhakti movement, replete with distinctive markers of an ‘Indian’ woman, bindi, bangles, saree, etc.. was widely shared by famous names.The only indication of it representing the weightlifting champion was the ektara being replaced with the barbells.There were others veering towards Hindutva and Brahmin supremacy as well who shared photos of her praying to several ‘Hindu’ gods and praised her as a ‘proud Hindu girl showing off her religion and achieving great feats’.


Understanding Tribal Culture: The Perspective from Within


Balaka Chattaraj

balaka chattaraj 1The terms Tribe and Adivasi have been historically misinterpreted in academia. The Tribal and Adivasi culture have always been explained and argued from the colonial standpoint and caste epistemology. The two popular epistemologies have always painted Tribes and Adivasis in one particular manner, first as savage and second as under-developed.

The caste epistemology has painted the Tribal and Adivasi as either the victim of development or a stakeholder of the privileges provided by the State. The colonial standpoint has painted the Tribal and Adivasi communities as first, as those without knowledge of writing; second, without history; third, without development; fourth, without democracy. The major debate about tribal and Adivasi communities in mainstream academia is about how the tribal and Adivasi communities are victims of rapid development in India.


Liberal narrative and Afghanistan

Vinith Kumar

These last few weeks have been about the Taliban. But it hasn’t really been about them. The reports, the end of the war, the exit of the American forces, the tragic images from the Kabul airport, all of these things were about the Taliban, but also not one of them were really about them. While some addressed the terrorising spree they were on, others addressed the geo-political implications and so on.

rajapeta left

The Taliban have got the classic ‘cancel’ not only from the liberal world, but also from the left or whatever remains of it today. They have been ‘terrorists’ for long, but they have perhaps never been cancelled by the left like they are today.

The liberal world can perhaps assume such freedom so as to produce ‘extremist’ narratives of the Taliban. The liberal world can perhaps even present democracy as moderation and peaceful. But what do these things mean to those who already live on the edge? What does extremism mean to them and more specifically what the hell does democracy mean to them?


We the People: Expanding the Idea of Democracy - Part 3

Pranav Jeevan P

pranav jeevan pPeople normally blame democracy by saying it is not a good model of governance citing the issues that plague our country like poverty, corruption, unemployment and under-development. They believe that we are facing these issues because we are a functioning democracy and somehow it is the democratic process which is causing this backwardness and inequality. They simply equate voting for one of the available contesting parties or politicians as the sole idea of democracy. What these people fail to realise is that it is because of the existence of democracy of some limited sense that we enjoy even some basic constitutional rights.


Future. India. Dalit.


Anu Ramdas

anu ramdas 1

This article was written for the Society of Future Studies a member of the Swiss Academy for Humanities and Social Sciences and was published in their journal edition of 01/21 which focussed on The Future of India.

'Unborn time' feels like a good description for the ubiquitously used concept of future, it is a definition-defying yet universally understood concept. The term future and all that it connotes is a product of human imagination, irrevocably tied to a temporal state that will always be unborn. Since the future does not exist in time and space, no one demands tangible evidence for it, however a close reading of the present and the past is expected. Towards this, the human mind processes multitudes of factors to approximate a prediction of the immediate future. In a sense, prediction as a primordial survival skill is also one of the oldest transactional commodities used by humans, from individuals to nations.

The nation as a constructed idea bundles many kinds of promises and penalties - If you are a citizen, you will be protected. You will be provided for. Your rights and aspirations, that is, your present and future will be taken care of.


Caste management through feminism in India

Kanika S

There was a time some 5-6 years ago when feminism tried to undermine Dr Ambedkar by pointing out that he carried a penis.1 Now he is just as fantastically a carrier of feminist ideals because his work helped women achieve voting rights, property rights, divorce rights, etc.2,3,4 And that alone is a sufficient criterion for the feminist movement to present him as the face of (any strand of) feminism – a completely separate social movement with its own origin story, specific goals and cultural history1,5. In this article I want to highlight the incoherency of feminist politics in the Indian society, and raise questions on the compatibility of feminism with the goals of an equal society as envisioned by anti-caste movement.