Documenting Bahujan Musical Instruments

Dr. Chandraiah Gopani

chandraiah gopani new 2021The book under review entitled ‘Mula Dhwani’ (Aboriginal Sound) is edited by Jayadhir Thirumal Rao and Guduru Manoja. This book was released in 2019, both in Telugu and English with the same title. In the absence of studies on Bahujan Musical Traditions, the book is a unique work in documenting more than 50 musical instruments of Bahujan communities (SC, ST, OBC and Religious Minorities). The book is a result of long-term fieldwork of both authors. Majority of the instruments which are documented in the book are at the stage of extinction with only single performers. Hence, before writing the book, the authors organized a big Mula-dhwani music concert with more than 200 artistes. The music concert was recorded and later brought it into the book form for a wider audience (pp.ix).


Ayurveda: claims, facts, and reality


Preshit Ambade

preshit ambadeIndia is watching the tussle between the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Mr. Ramdev of Patanjali. Tall stories are being told about Ayurveda's ability to cure diseases. I am an Ayurveda graduate, and I do have complete faith in the system. There is no doubt that there are shortfalls in the allopathic approach to treating diseases. Even World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized traditional, complementary, and integrative medicines across the globe. Ayurveda, which is knowingly or unknowingly integrated into the daily lives of every Indian, has much more to offer to the world. However, when mythology intermingles with scientific temperament, it prevents Ayurveda from coming forward as a strong alternative. Also, there is something more systemic that has halted its growth for so many years. The monopoly by certain groups over the traditional knowledge, considering the Ayurvedic texts as sacred, and linking it to religion are the biggest hurdles in front of this practice. In the following text, I sift through Ayurveda’s history, the causes of its stagnant growth, and what we can learn from other parts of the world.


Was Identity Politics Dead in Uttar Pradesh or was it camouflaged under the garb of developmental politics?


Prof Vivek Kumar

vivek-kumarIn 2019, Sudha Pai wrote, "The decade has witnessed weakening of identity politics and simultaneously revival of the BJP"1. Even a lay person can tell you how wrong she is if he/she could go through the debates of the mainstream and YouTube media of the past few days. The media houses are having captions and debates that Jitin Prasada, who has crossed over to BJP from Congress, is a Brahmin face. They are not tired of flaunting his identity as a Brahmin, which anybody hardly knew before this episode, except for the local population. This is so, because his  surname does not reveal his caste identity at all.


Covid-19: Vietnam Model versus Maharashtra Model


Dr Anuradha Bele

dr anuradha bele 1In terms of population, Vietnam with nearly 10 crore people compares well with Maharashtra (about 11-12 crore). However, in terms of handling of Covid-19, as of 9th May 2021, Vietnam has reported 4212 cases and total 37 deaths. In Maharashtra, the total cases now stand at 53,78,452 (53 lakhs) while the death toll is 81,486.

Low-Cost Model of Vietnam

Vietnam has prioritised health of its citizens over economic concerns. It has focussed on prevention first. With large scale deployment of the armed forces, as well as common citizens by giving this a nationalistic flavour, Covid-19 crisis has been smartly used by its government to encourage solidarity and collective action.


Casteism in City Colleges and Classrooms

Aarushi Punia

aarushi puniaIt is a common myth perpetrated by upper caste faculty, students, politicians, and media that caste superiority and casteism is exercised amongst uneducated people in the villages, and not amongst the educated in urban and academic spaces. The myth of city colleges and classrooms being caste-free stems from the unidentifiability of the conventional practice of untouchability, which is the only practice of caste-based discrimination that has been legally codified. Article 17 of the Indian constitution outlaws untouchability, but not the caste system that finds expression in multiple practices such as differential access to education, modes of travel, clothing, and eating habits.

Discriminatory practices based on caste have expanded and continue to perpetuate caste hierarchy in the present day since they have masked their exploitative character. This is evident from the experiences of Dalit, Bahujan, and Adivasi (henceforth DBA) students and faculty, who are routinely discriminated against because of their lower caste status by upper or dominant caste faculty and students. Hence, it is crucial to identify and codify what constitutes caste-based discrimination, especially in classrooms, city colleges, and institutes of higher education.


Assam Assembly Elections: The Hills Do Not Speak

Rakhee Naiding

rakhee naiding“Lama hemhishining jaya, lama slamma bo nangdu”
(It is not enough we tread the path, we have to create them too)- A Dimasa saying

Recently the Assam Assembly elections concluded, and the results were evidently a shock to many, especially after the anti CAA upheaval. All the same, people seem to have quickly accepted the verdict with farewell messages to former CM Sarbananda Sonowal celebrating his benevolence or the stories of a persevering Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, whose sole aim seems to have been to become the CM of Assam since his youth, taking up much space in media. The Third Front looks happy to bag the single Sibasagar seat with prominent activist Akhil Gogoi’s victory and attacking voters elsewhere for voting ‘fascists’.


Contagion and Constitution - Pandemic and Preamble

Dr Jas Simran Singh Kehal

jas simran kehal may 2021The architect of our constitution felt that it is workable, flexible and strong enough to hold the country together both in peace and war time. If in recent times we have Covid-warriors and Covid war-rooms that means we are indeed at war. Let us analyze how our constitution has fared during these testing times. And let’s probe the pandemic’s influence on the constitutional values of a common citizen.

The Preamble indicates the basic structure of the Indian constitution which cannot be changed in any case or situation. Unfortunately, the Corona virus has not only attacked the respiratory system of its victims but also pounced on the heart of our constitution- that is its Preamble.  

‘We the people’ suggests that constitution is given by the people to themselves and power rests in the hands of the people. It contrasts pure people with the corrupt elite. The pandemic has proved that the current regime has not only rendered these pure people helpless and vulnerable to the deadly virus but also mischievously laid hold on their fundamental rights.


Adivasis overcoming the Corona pandemic: An Adivasi perspective

Chevuri Sathish Kumar

chevuri sathish kumarThe Adivasis have resided in different geographical locations throughout India. This includes majorly tribes-dominated areas in Jharkhand, northeastern states and central India, western India and also in south India. Since the UNO’s declaration in 1993 of the international decade of the indigenous peoples, the category Adivasi has become a powerful point of reference for social and political mobilization in India. There is a difference between insiders and outsiders, socially and geographically. From the Adivasi point of view, they call themselves insiders, and others outsiders. This concept arises because they have their territory and customs. The Adivasis are different from outsiders who like having heterogeneous culture and regional variations. Adivasis of India are having a separate unique identity. Adivasis are a type of society. They have not become a caste with any definite standing in the social hierarchy of the caste system (Prof. Xaxa, 1999).


Systematic Dismantling of Social Justice & Equity in Higher Education by the Modi Government

Dr. Magilan Karthikeyan

In the Indian union of states, the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) are considered the most socially and educationally disadvantaged groups among the other disadvantaged sections, namely other backward castes (OBCs) and religious minorities.1 Despite several policy interventions, the number of OBC/SC/ST/Minority students enrolled in higher education continues to remain low. The predominantly upper caste bureaucracy and half-heartedness on the part of several government institutions jeopardized the true intentions of the affirmative policies.

Quota Janaeu 2

The Indian union boasts about its Vedic Hindutva culture to the outside world through its well-oiled PR machinery. In reality, Indian society perpetuates this Vedic Hindutva culture through many feudal practices, viz., caste discrimination, gender inequality, child marriage, and manual scavenging. Moreover, in many places, particularly in the northern part of the Indian Union, Muslims and Dalits are getting lynched in the name of cow protection and religious beliefs.2 One of the unique features that many social scientists have highlighted is that the caste consciousness and feudal practices, among the educated and socially well-off upper caste people is rampant.2,3


Dr. B.R. Ambedkar - From Denunciation of the Vedas to the Negation of Karl Marx and Surrender to Nāstika Buddhism

Dr Aniruddha Babar

aniruddha babar“Buddha would never allow violence, but the communists do. No doubt the communists get quick results because when you adopt the means of annihilating a man, they do not remain to oppose you. Humanity does not only want economic values, it also wants spiritual values to be retained. Permanent communist dictatorship has paid no attention to spiritual values and does not seem to intend to. Carlyle called political economy a pig philosophy. Carlyle was of course wrong. For man needs material comforts. But the communist philosophy seems to be equally wrong, for the aim of their philosophy seems to be fatten pigs, as though men are no better than pigs. Man must grow materially as well as spiritually. Buddha’s method was to change the mind of man without the use of force. Buddha sought to change man’s moral disposition to follow the path voluntarily. The means adopted by the communists are equally clear, short and swift: one is violence and second is dictatorship of the proletariat,”

~ Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (Excerpts from Dr. Ambedkar’s Speech at World fellowship of Buddhists, Kathmandu, Nepal on 20th November, 1956)


Dr. B. R. Ambedkar is considered as a revolutionary, a constitutionalist, socialist and social reformer. He spent his whole life fighting against untouchability and inequality in the country. He was significantly inspired by the Buddhist philosophy and displayed a rejection of the caste system that was deeply rooted in the Indian society. Dr. Ambedkar is known as a social reformer because he rejected casteism that had resulted in creating unnecessary inequity and inequality on the basis of birth of an individual. Dr. Ambedkar has also been the founding father of the Constitution of India, which focused on including fundamental rights of freedom and equality for all the people in the country. Thus, he made a significant effort in reforming the social order in the country.


How BJP ran TN without getting elected – the story before 2 May


Radhika Sudhakar 

The story of Tamil Nadu election 2021, as the election itself drew close, was judged by non-brahmins in the state as one that was not going to be who the winner is - the ruling party or the opposition, but the faceoff between the outgoing Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy vs BJP-backed-dy-CM-O Panneerselvam staking claim on the AIADMK and the ongoing war within the AIADMK and outside of it by the BJP, for control of AIADMK voters. The unpopularity of the AIADMK leadership was quite widespread. Yet the nervousness over the result of the election, whether there would be change of regime, remained for a good reason.

modi over tn

AIADMK is the largest party in TN in terms of its vote share, which stood at 40.8 percent in 2016 TN Assembly election, and dipped to 18.48 in the Parliament election 2019, where it lost all but one seat, of 39 seats, to DMK. In the 2021 election, the AIADMK has maintained 33 percent vote share while the DMK has shown 37 percent votes in its favour. The DMK won with 133 seats on its own bringing it to power in Tamil Nadu and along with its allies has a comfortable majority of 159 seats in the 234 seat Assembly with the AIADMK alliance getting 75 seats. Nevertheless, AIADMK has maintained a steady vote bank even in the face of its current leadership's unpopularity, fluctuating as per AIADMK policies. And this vote bank has the BJP salivating on the sidelines to gain entry into TN electoral politics by capturing or breaking the AIADMK. 


The caste of election analysis


Bobby Kunhu

kunhu"Christ is born, my wise Solomon, my wretched pen-pusher! Don´t go picking things over with a needle! Is He born or isn´t He? Of course He is born, don´t be daft. If you take a magnifying glass and look at your drinking water-an engineer told me this, one day – you´ll see, he said, the water´s full of little worms you couldn´t see with your naked eye. You´ll see the worms and you won´t drink. You won´t drink and you´ll curl up with thirst. Smash your glass, boss, and the little worms´ll vanish and you can drink and be refreshed!" – Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

 To be honest, I am also one of the people that were exhilarated with the election results. Personally, two candidates that I rooted for in Kerala --with excellent credentials, one from the LDF and another from the UDF -- won, apart from the fact that most of my reading of the electoral pulse turned out to be correct. But, what got my goat and triggered this essay is the absurd casteist, classist and chauvinist post-election analysis that has been flooding both the mainstream media as well as social media.