Covid-19 : Conversation on ruling class violence, relief and charity


Abhishek Juneja & Veeravenghai Vinith Kumar

(SAVARI and Round Table India are doing a series to put together the Bahujan perspective on the Coronavirus pandemic)

 Anu Ramdas: Thank you for taking the time. The first question that I want to ask is about the lockdown, the way it came about, and your reaction to that.

Vinith Kumar: I don't think the lockdown came as much of a surprise to me. In fact, I was only shocked that it came this late in the sense that I thought when the numbers in Delhi sort of started growing, the state would immediately take some sort of cognizance of this and some measure would be implemented.

vinith abhshek

It sank in or hit me when news of the number of migrant workers who are stuck and wanted to go back and scenes from Delhi started coming out. That's when it really kicked in, what the lockdown can do on bahujan lives. That's when I was shocked by the fact that we didn't think about what it actually would do for Bahujan. Yeah. Mostly. I mean mostly how we did not think in that direction.


Why desi celebs or even savarna intellectuals will never say “Dalit lives matter”


Or why Dalits need to seize pop culture!

Anurag Minus Verma

anurag minus vermaAmerican cities are exploding. For long they have tried to subdue it, but now the frustration and anger has reached the tipping point, and is oozing out on the street. The death of a black man, George Floyd, last week in Minneapolis set off days of waves of historic protest and exposed the dirty reality of The American Dream to the whole world.

The ramifications were so huge that even our desi celebs had to halt their cooking and workout instagram videos for a while and make a post or two about this news. (Of course as advised by their PR agents).

In fact it was so huge that one of my classmates from Jaipur, whose hobby was to pass random casteist statements at lunch time, had posted on her facebook - "Justice needs to be served. Like right now! #BlackLivesMatter."


ಸ್ತ್ರೀವಾದವು ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣವಾದ - ಭಾಗ ೧

ಸ್ತ್ರೀವಾದವು ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣವಾದ - ಭಾಗ ೧

ಅನು ರಾಮದಾಸ್

ಇದು 'ಸ್ತ್ರೀವಾದವು ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣವಾದ' ಎಂಬ ಪ್ರಾಥಮಿಕ ಭಾಷಣದ ಲೇಖನವಾಗಿದೆ

ಮೊದಲಿಗೆ , ಧನ್ಯವಾದಗಳು. ನಿಮ್ಮೆಲ್ಲರನ್ನೂ ನೋಡಿ ತುಂಬಾ ಖುಷಿಯಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ . ಈ ಅವಕಾಶಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಧನ್ಯವಾದಗಳು. ಇಂತಹ ಸಮಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಈ ವಿಷಯದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಮಾತನಾಡುವುದಕ್ಕೆ ನನಗೆ ಕಷ್ಟವೆನಿಸುತ್ತಿದೆ. ನಾನು ಜಾತಿಯನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಬಯಸಿದಾಗಿನಿಂದ, ಪ್ರತಿ ಬಾರಿ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಯನ್ನು ರೂಪಿಸಲು ಪ್ರಯತ್ನಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾಗ, ಅದು ಸ್ತ್ರೀವಾದದೊಂದಿಗೆ ಘರ್ಷಣೆಯಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ ಎಂದು ಯಾರಾದರೂ ಹೇಳುವ ಮೂಲಕ ತಳ್ಳಿ ಹಾಕುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು .ಅದು ಕೇಳುವ ರೀತಿಯಲ್ಲ, ಏಕೆಂದರೆ ಇದು ಸರಿಯಾದ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಯಲ್ಲ. ನೀವು ಮಹಿಳೆಯನ್ನು ಕೇಂದ್ರೀಕರಿಸಿ ಕೇಳುವ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಸರಿ. ಹಾಗಾಗಿ ನನಗೆ ಸ್ತ್ರೀವಾದ ಹುಟ್ಟಿ ಹಾಕಿದ ಅಡೆತಡೆಗಳನ್ನು ದಾಟದೆ ಜಾತಿಯ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಸಂವಾದವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಾರಂಭಿಸಲು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾಗಲೇ ಇಲ್ಲ. ಮತ್ತು ಅದು ಸ್ವತಃ ತೋರಿಸಿಕೊಂಡ ರೀತಿ, ಪ್ರತಿ ಹಂತದಲ್ಲೂ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಸಂಕೀರ್ಣವಾಗತೊಡಗಿತು ಮೊದಲು ನಾನು ಪದಗಳನ್ನು ತಿಳಿದು, ನಂತರ ಆ ಪದಗಳು ಎಲ್ಲಿಂದ ಬಂದವು, ಮೂಲಗಳು ಯಾವುವು ಮತ್ತು ಜಾತಿಯನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಈ ಭಾಷೆಯ ಅಗತ್ಯತೆ ಇಷ್ಟೊಂದು ಏಕೆ ಎಂದು ನಾನು ತಿಳಿದುಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕಾಗಿತ್ತು ಹಾಗು ಇದಕ್ಕೂ ಮೊದಲು ನನಗೆ ಸ್ತ್ರೀವಾದ ಏಕೆ ತಿಳಿದಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ? 


Bharat vs India: Understanding Debates of Naming Through Ernest Gellner and Anthony D Smith


VidyasagarRecently, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea which sought a direction to the Central government to amend the constitution to change the official name of the country from India to Bharat. This plea claimed that "the removal of the English name, though appears symbolic, will instill a sense of pride in our nationality, especially for the future generations. In fact, replacing India with Bharat would justify the hard-fought freedom achieved by our ancestors.” The petitioner demands that we have to recognize our country from our cultural legacy and this would be a great tribute to national fighters who fought for the freedom of this country. The politics of naming is not a new phenomenon because the ruling BJP led NDA government has only one agenda of imposing hegemony of Hindutva culture through the politics of renaming of cities, railway stations and welfare schemes. This article attempts to explain the politics of naming through two theoretical concepts which were propounded by Ernest Gellner and Anthony D Smith.


Dalit Women in Higher Education in Odisha


Saraswati Suna

saraswati suna"I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved."Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

Education is a path for equal opportunity and ensures possibilities for individual growth, social mobilities and economic empowerment to the oppressed, Dalit and marginalized communities. However, education throughout Indian history has only partially fulfilled these expectations. Thus, the issue addressed in this paper is how Dalit women carve out their democratic space as well as find their place in the institutions of higher education; and what do they aspire to be in the academic world. This study attempts to scrutinize why even after seven decades of independence, Dalit women constitute a tiny part in the institutions of higher education.


Necessity of representation: a Tribal woman vice chancellor in India

Swapnil Dhanraj

swapnil dhanrajWhen was the last time India celebrated a success story of a woman coming from a Tribal community in Indian academia? If we think about the manner in which Indian education system has dealt with the issues of Dalits, Tribals and other marginalised communities, it appears that those issues have been represented and discussed in poor light and without giving any kind of academic significance. The sociological category of caste still remains insignificant for many those who don’t understand the necessity of annihilation of caste. Moreover, along with the reality of caste, Indian academic institutions should reflect on the composition of their faculty members by focusing on the lack of representation of women, especially from Tribal communities. Because academic representation and opportunities for women from marginalised communities in the Indian universities are significant not only to foster gender equality but also a democratic culture in higher education. The Indian institutions of higher learning should not ignore the vast disparities that exist between the representations of women from mainstream society and marginalised communities.


Feminism is Brahminism

Anu Ramdas

This is the transcript of a preliminary talk on the topic of feminism is brahminism.

anu ramdas 1First, thank you. It is so lovely to see all of you. Thank you for the opportunity. And I am not at all happy to be talking about this topic at such a time. Ever since I wanted to understand caste, every time I tried to frame a question, I would be tripped up by someone saying that it is clashing with feminism. That is not the way to ask because that’s not the right question. The right question is one where you have to center the woman alone. So I could not even start a conversation about caste without traversing the obstacles placed by feminism. And the way it presented itself, at every step it started becoming more complex. First I had to know the words, then I had to know from where those words came, what were the sources and why was it so necessary for me to use this language in order to get to caste. And why did I not know feminism before that?

A little bit of background about me: I grew up in a cosmopolitan city, Bangalore. I studied mostly in Christian institutions, mostly girls’ institutions. I studied in a girls school, I went to a girls’ college and then MSc,.. during all this time, as a girl, as a teenager, as a young woman, I never needed the word feminism to get through life. It is only after I entered university that this becomes almost central to how I have to resolve things, how I am asked to identify things; everything is supposed to be through feminism. So, it seemed to me like I could not do anything unless I really made an effort to read up on feminism. I was pressured to know what this subject is. And I kept on thinking because I come from a science background, I have not gained what appears to be common sense. Everybody knows what feminism is and it is only me who doesn’t know about this. So I have to put in this extra effort to read so that I am able to follow what others are saying, what my peers are saying and once I get there then I’ll be able to ask questions about caste.


Modi, BJP, Sangh Parivar and gang spell callousness


Sundeep Pattem

(SAVARI and Round Table India are doing a series to put together the Bahujan perspective on the Coronavirus pandemic)

[The conversation was recorded on April 12, 2020]

sundeep pattem 1Anu Ramdas: Give me a big picture of how information flows in the US, between the federal government and state governments and how people receive information. For the US stimulus package, how is that we understand so much in detail?

Sundeep Pattem: Let me try to illustrate with an example. I was sitting in on meetings organized by the California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development. This was immediately after the $2 Trillion stimulus package or the CARES Act was passed by the US federal government [end of March 2020]. The Act is a 247 page document with lots of details, but at a high level, individual citizens and families get cheques to cover basic expenses, small businesses get relief, large corporations get relief, they tried to cover almost everyone. Once it got passed, at the State level, they were looking into, in a very detailed manner, how to take care of people and small businesses. There is detailed analysis of what the Act provides, on how businesses can apply for various assistance programs and grants, which state, county, city and other local agencies they can reach out to for assistance. This is available online and circulated via conference calls, emails, newsletters and other channels.


This lockdown is affecting bahujans badly: Adv Soniya Gajbhiye


Adv Soniya Gajbhiye

(SAVARI and Round Table India are doing a series to put together the Bahujan perspective on the Coronavirus pandemic)

adv soniya gajbhiyeRahul Gaikwad: Jai Bhim, Soniya! I have been following your relief work during this pandemic lockdown for almost past 2 months through your fb updates. Can you please tell us what kind of work have you been doing and why?

Adv Soniya Gajbhiye: Jai Bhim, Rahul! When the lockdown was announced some of the people from my area where I live came to me for help, most of them were daily wagers. I have been running an organization called Bhimraj Ki Beti Buddhist Mahila Sangh through which I have been carrying on social activities as my father too has been for long involved in social activities. After discussing with them I realized that the worst affected are going to be bahujans staying in slums, daily wagers and those daily wagers from other states who are stranded in Nagpur.


Assessment of Health and Economic Status of Adivasis during COVID-19 Crisis

John Kujur

john kujurThe pandemic COVID-19 has wreaked an unprecedented health crisis and subsequently led to socio-economic instability across the world. The impact of the pandemic is perceived to be pernicious for every person irrespective of caste, class, sex, religion, race etc. However, the burden of such crises is often shifted to the vulnerable sections of society. Moreover, under such circumstances, the underprivileged communities often become victims of political witch-hunts. In India, for instance, the hate campaign and blame directed against the migrant labourers and minority groups for the spread of contagious coronavirus is self-explanatory. Through such easy targeting of already vulnerable sections, the government conveniently obscures its failure and also apathy towards the issues of vulnerable communities.

Since the inception of the pandemic, much has already been written globally on the impact of the disease on such vulnerable sections. In India too, epidemiologists, social scientists, and activists have been constantly articulating on the issue. However, we do not see much write-ups coming on Adivasis from the Bahujan perspective. This article is a small attempt towards contributing to the Bahujan discourse by specifically focusing on the impact of the pandemic on Adivasis of India in the wake of COVID-19. The article seeks to reflect how resource mobilisation for ‘national development’ has pushed them into the frontier of vulnerability by endangering their livelihoods.


The Buddhist claim on Ayodhya


Nishad Wankhade

nishad wankhadeAyodhya has again become a hot topic with the recent archaeological findings at the site. The Supreme Court last year ordered the handing over of the disputed site to a trust to be formed by the government. The government promptly formed the trust, which started the preparations soon. Carvings on sandstone, pillars, an alleged Shiv Linga and some broken idols were unearthed during the land leveling work, says a press note released by the trust. Meanwhile the photographs of the recovered items have gone viral. Some pillars, a lotus medallion and an alleged Shivlinga can be seen in the photos. Let us take a closer look at the findings.

 Lotus medallion

Lotus motifs were found at the Ayodhya site earlier also. A lotus medallion can be seen in the viral photo. Lotus motifs and medallions appear often in Buddhist structures.


The indigenous people are used to sharing, not distancing: Santa Khurai


Santa Khurai

(SAVARI and Round Table India are doing a series on the Coronavirus pandemic)

Santa Khurai

Santa Khurai
Photo credit: Sonia Nepram

Round Table India: Thanks for taking time, Santa. Could you share what is the situation in Imphal right now around the COVID-19 crisis?

Santa Khurai: The situation has become much worse. The government acted too soon in declaring it as a green zone but now, with the return of many stranded people from different parts of India, the numbers are rising again. Earlier there were these two cases who recovered and the government declared it to be a green zone. Also, the government does not seem to be following International protocols around quarantine. For example, in a recent government order, people who tested negative are being allowed to return to their home within three days and this is risky and not good.