The Burden of an Economy


Tejaswini Tabhane

I once wittily remarked that I am an economist till the time you do not ask me what will be the GDP projection for the next quarter. This remark does not merely come from my dislike of macroeconomics as a subject, but for the overemphasis, these few numbers get over the socio-political realities of the oppressed who fill the fuel in the engine for the growth of these numbers. Here, it is an attempt to present two different economic logics from two supposedly opposite spectrums of Indian politics. I would try to show how the interests of these two logics converge as they essentially represent the interests of the same castes and class in Indian society.

other by nidhin

What the 'Fascists' dictate


Covid-19 shows a mirror to the world


Biswajit Bhoi

biswajit bhoiWhat does the crisis teach us about what needs to be done to meet the sustainable development goals?

So far, the spread of Covid-19 infections has been growing at an exponential rate across the globe. There is no doubt that in some months or years, countries of the world will be able to manage the pandemic which is said to have originated in China. At present, over half of the world's population is under lockdown. In India, the total number of coronavirus cases has climbed up to over 37,000 and has taken the lives of over 1200 patients. We have entered the phase 3.0 of the total economic lockdown, as announced by the PM Narendra Modi Ji with advice from the experts, which has lasted for over 40 days. It is hoped that these actions will lead to controlling the spread of the virus for the time being. However, the Covid-19 crisis has thrown up some serious fundamental questions for the entire world to ponder over.


COVID19 response: the immorality of it all


Sruthi Herbert 

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

sruthi wfh covidAnu: The pandemic has thrown up so many conflicting discourses, tell us about the most troubling ones for you?

Sruthi: I want to start talking about the immorality of our times that this pandemic exposes. Decades of prioritising the economy over the society - as if the economy is separate and above the society instead of it being a part of society and has no existence without it -  has led to policymakers weighing the cost of letting the pandemic run its course as against a lockdown. The argument being, the virus disproportionately affects the elderly and the vulnerable, and therefore, healthy adults can be at work and keep the economy running. This is implied when Trump (and others) openly wonder whether the cure might be worse than the disease. The underlying tones of eugenics suggested that the workforce that does not contribute to the economy is dispensable. On the other hand is the apparently benevolent argument that the toll on the economy would be worse if there is no lockdown and therefore, the lockdown is the wise option. Here too, we do not go past the primacy given to the economy over people’s lives. It is depressing that we haven’t seen any leader call this out as an immoral choice. This is the immorality of the times we live in, what decades of pursuit of economic growth as an indicator of a country’s development has done to our thinking.


Ambedkarites have to help other Bahujans, irrespective of caste: Shashikant Humane


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

Shashikant Humane

Anuradha Bele: Dear Kaka, thank you for taking the time for the interview with RTI. We look to seniors like you to give us guidance about how young bahujans can channel their energies to minimize the hardship which are brought on bahujan masses due to the pandemic and the lockdown measures. So what would you like to talk to the young bahujan, in the present situation?

humanesir maam

Shashikant Humane: The important thing is that one has to take the initiative and set an example and that one should be, you see, capable of sacrificing something from their own pocket so that others would follow. Correct? And the important thing is we individually, and with some associations - we have got so many associations in every district I believe - so the heads of the institutions should come forward, put their own efforts, their own money and work as examples for the people. And though this thing is for some short period, we have to keep in mind such things may come in the future also. For that, those associations or those progressive people from our community, should keep this thing in mind and start funding for such things.



Reverberation of COVID19 and 'essential service' workers


Daulat Siraswal

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

daulat covid19Pradnya: Jai Bhim Daulat, How do you look at the pandemic and the ongoing lockdown? 

Daulat: Jai Bheem, Corona (covid19) is currently widespread in the world. We cannot deny the fact that in India, although it has fewer patients than other countries, the situation may still be worse in the days to come since it runs on a logic that “more tests mean more patients”. Its day to day outbreak is going to be unambiguously visible.

The first announcement regarding the lockdown was for 21 days, which ended on 14th April, however, it has again extended until 3rd May 2020. If the situation persists like this, we do not have any idea how it is going to be, if it is extended for an indefinite period we cannot predict what it will look like.


RSS’s Hogwash on Ambedkar

N. Sukumar and Shailaja Menon

(The following article is in response to Arun Anand’s (CEO of Indraprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra, an RSS affiliate) write-up in The Print (online 14th April 2020). We sent a mail on the same day to contest the false claims but there has been no response a week later.)

Quota Janaeu1

In the last few years, political exigencies have forced the RSS to widen its social base and go shopping for icons that would enable their socio-cultural agenda to flourish. From Narayana Guru and Ayyankali1 in Kerala to Rani Gaidinliu2 in Nagaland, the net has been cast wide. Amit Shah sought to reconfigure Onam as a brahmanical ‘vamana jayanti’ leading to an uproar in Kerala3. Similarly, the BJP’s overtures towards Tamil icons in giving saint Tiruvalluvar new attire with saffron robes, vibhuti and rudraksha caused a lot of ripples in the political arena4. Hence, one should not be surprised at the continuous efforts being made to appropriate one of the tallest leaders in modern India, B. R. Ambedkar-who always critiqued the religio-cultural politics of organizations like the RSS. The latest in this vein is “Why RSS considers Ambedkar as one of its own icons”5 published on Ambedkar’s birth anniversary-14th April 2020. The article is based on Dattopant Thengadi's reminiscences of Ambedkar as mentioned in his book- “Dr. Ambedkar aur Samajik Kranti ki Yatra”.


Is there a space for North-Eastern identity among students' politics in Indian Universities?


Thangminlal (Lalcha) Haokip

thangminlal lalcha haokipMy colleagues have often asked me why University students from the North East do not take an active part in students' politics in mainland Indian Universities. Often times, I would find myself unable to answer this inquiry. Perhaps, a convenient straitjacket reply could be that since a majority of these students are first-generation University attendees, they cannot bear the direct and indirect financial costs of political activism which may run foul of the administration eager to terminate their scholarships. It is also discouraged by the language barriers and the differences in cultural expression.

However, over a period of time, I have come to feel that this explanation is both inadequate and incomplete because it doesn't really address some core issues that revolve around mainland campus politics. I have developed a dislike to my own response as no one could truly be apolitical.


End the Lockdown


Naveen (Nijam) Gara

Naveen nijam garaIndia's tryst with COVID-19 Pandemic began with a Nationwide lockdown on March 25, 2020. The shock and awe specialist Prime Minister Narendra Modi approached the issue with the same theatrics that he displayed during demonetization. Events that unfolded ever since have shown the utter disregard and rather disdain for the poor that political leaders across India possess. It is almost as if these individuals are non-existent in the mainstream discourse.

Even as the horrific scenes of stranded daily wage laborers trying to exit Delhi in the immediate aftermath of this draconian lockdown remain freshly etched in our collective memory, equally horrendous images have emerged from Mumbai. The sudden, blanket shutdown of public transport is unthinkable in any country worthy of being called a democracy. The level of insensitivity on display smacks of sheer arrogance and dictatorial attitudes of the rulers. While the Prime Minister should bear moral responsibility, most Chief Ministers have also proven to be products of the same cloth with an utter lack of remorse.


Nomads are humans too


Dr. Narayan Bhosale

dr. narayan bhosalePeople from nomadic communities did not understand the precise meaning of this lockdown during the period of pandemic. If they did, it was already late; if it wasn't too late, then they were frustrated due to the helpless state it put them in. Nomadic communities have been stranded on the streets in various states, near petrol pumps, playgrounds, and public spaces after the announcement and implementation of the ongoing lockdown.

In India, the number of labourers and families migrating in the search of work is alarmingly high. The Economic Survey report shows that around nine million workers migrate from one state to another and five million workers migrate within the state every year. Population of people belonging to nomadic tribes in Maharashtra is 1 crore. Of this 1 crore, half migrate for work. Similarly, according to government reports, half of the total 15 crore Nomadic people in India migrate for work. These migrants have been travelling in order to cater to their most basic necessities--of food, clothing, shelter, and gainful employment. Some of these people from Nomadic tribes are seen to be employed in temporary situations, offering various services in the higher classes' settlements. Nomadic tribes' settlements are reduced to being labor providing hubs for the urban populations.


Caste as a social determinant of health inequalities in India

Dr. Sandip Medhe

sandip medheIntroduction

The gross disparities in health that are conspicuous at the interface of different social orders in India are not new, but had been neglected in the discourse on Indian public health. These disparities in provision of health services driven by social forces result in unequal health outcomes among different social groups within the society(Adams et al., 2018), particularly with regards to the vulnerable, marginalized and socially excluded castes and tribes in the Indian society. According to the Commission on Social Determinants of Health brought together by the World Health Organization, factors such as social exclusion, food, transport, and stress are accepted as important social determinants of health (Marmot, 2017). Thus, unequal distribution of privileges and resources between different social classes results in differential opportunities to access health services.

National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is a national five-yearly survey conducted in India, and is analogous to the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) done in other middle/low income countries. Analysis of disaggregated data procured from the NFHS has established that caste in India has been persistently acting as a pivotal determinant of inequalities in health outcomes, especially for the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), and Other Backward Classes (OBC) (Krishnan, 2000). Social exclusion, marginalization and discriminatory practices such as untouchability have become significant barriers to ensuring equitable access to essential health services such as primary healthcare, food security programs, maternal and reproductive health services, access to immunization. Such inequalities in health outcomes are the result of apathetic socio-political arrangements leading to avoidable but embodied inequalities in society (Krieger, 2012).


'Educate, Agitate, Organize' - Is it a Sequence or a Parallel Process?

Birendra Nag

birendra nagI could remember the early days of my engagement with Ambedkarite activism; I used to hear this quotation “Educate, Agitate and Organize” on Bhim Jayanti that my community in the Balangir district of the Odisha state used to celebrate every year on 14th April. At that time, I didn't even know the source  of this quotation: who might have said this, what it means so on and so forth. Further, when I ventured into different spaces of Ambedkarite engagement, both within the state and outside, most notably in Maharashtra, I came to understand different intricacies of the movement, people, and its deployment of language in understanding and fighting caste. One of the many intricacies was the concept of Educate, Agitate and Organize.


Spectacle of Crisis: Coronavirus pandemic and the disease of Casteism-Brahmanism in India


Subodh Kunwer

subodh kunwerHas the Corona virus pandemic become something other than a medical subject/disease? The handling of this pandemic brought many crises, events and spectacles to the fore. While on one side lives of people are being lost, on the other we are witnessing the theatrical, performative aspect of the pandemic. Jennifer Cooke in her book Legacies of Plague in Literature, Theory and Film, drawing from Antonin Artaud's 'The Theatre and the Plague',and Albert Camus' 'The State of Siege', focuses on the fact that the effect of plague [pandemic] has an inherent theatricality, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by many playwrights. This write up sure will be called as audacious, perverted and insolent. Let it be called so. We have the example of Antonin Artaud who viewed plague in his essay 'Theatre and the Plague' as a theatrical and, theatre as plaguelike in its spectacle and its physical effect. Albert Camus's play "The State of Siege" as a companion to his novel The Plague presents an analogy for dictatorship and fascism.