Lineage and Caste in Islam


Shafiullah Anis


(Round Table India and SAVARI have been hosting a series of online talks by activists and thinkers on issues of importance to the Bahujan. This is the transcript of Shafiullah Anis' talk on June Aug 1st, 2020)


The reason we are discussing this topic is because there is a perception and a kind of unanimity that the caste system among Muslims, especially in the subcontinent, is just a case of imitation of the Hindu caste system. This idea I believe needs to be evaluated and interrogated in detail. On the very same topic I had written a short note on round table India which was titled, “Is Islamic caste system entirely a Hindu influence?”. This talk can be put into the same series of the discussions. Today, I will be talking about the idea of “lineage”  and the value given to the lineage in Muslim societies and in scriptures, which later on became caste system in Indian sub-continent. 



The Real Remedy for Breaking Caste


Dhamma Darshan Nigam


Dhamma DarshanI am convinced that the real remedy is inter-marriage. Fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin, and unless this feeling of kinship, of being kindred, becomes paramount, the separatist feeling—the feeling of being aliens—created by Caste will not vanish. Among the Hindus, inter-marriage must necessarily be a factor of greater force in social life than it need be in the life of the non-Hindus. Where society is already well-knit by other ties, marriage is an ordinary incident of life. But where society is cut asunder, marriage as a binding force becomes a matter of urgent necessity. The real remedy for breaking Caste is intermarriage. Nothing else will serve as the solvent of Caste.”    Dr Ambedkar


This statement of Babasaheb Ambedkar is often quoted whenever there is a discussion about inter-caste marriage. But it seems like the discussion on inter-caste marriage has just stopped at this statement and the issue of marriage. Nothing is discussed about what else Babasaheb said, other than this statement on inter-caste marriage, about the cultural life that is lived further between two married individuals from different caste backgrounds. Inter-caste marriage by itself is an indicator of weakening of caste, but shouldn’t cultural practices followed between those two individuals also be another indicator? 


The Journey of School Education for Bahujan and Impact of NEP 2020


Naaz Khair  

Naaz kThe National Education Policy, 2020 (NEP2020) has been approved by the Union Cabinet as of 29th July, 2020. The National Education Policies of 1968, 1986 and Plan of Action of 1992 preceded NEP 2020. Prior to 1976, education was a state subject. Questions have been raised as to why NEP 2020 was not presented and discussed in the Parliament (media reports).


The National Education Policies of 1968 and 1986 (modified in 1992) were based on the Kothari Commission Report of 1966. NEP 2020 draws much less on the Kothari Commission report. Post-Independence, the Kothari Commission was constituted to look at the question of reconstruction of India’s educational system in order to transform India into a modern democratic and socialistic society. The British imperialist system of education could no longer hold in India. What has been the journey of school education for Bahujan pre NEP 2020? Lets us begin with the Kothari Commission report followed by the two NEPs that have preceded NEP 2020. The term Bahujan has been explained a little later in the article.


Kothari Commission Report- An overview of the school education section


The Kothari Commission found that the existing educational system had given rise to a huge population of educated un-employed. Further that, “the under-privileged sections have a very small and disproportionate share in existing facilities in spite of the unrestricted admissions”. 


The Commission observed that the educated did not want to take up ‘work’ considered primarily, ‘manual’ in nature. It said in society a distinction was made between education and work, wherein traditional occupations were considered ‘primitive’ and involving work drudgery (Comment: It appears, the fact that these occupations practised by Bahujan masses and interdependent on each other fostered social integration, self-reliance, concern for biodiversity and the environment, and informed a vibrant culture was lost on the Commission). 


“Mannu”: A documentary turns Munnar upside down


Srutheesh Kannadi

Munnar has always been a place of attraction for tourists around the world because of the presence of the Western Ghats, climate and other geographical distinctiveness. The location plays a decisive role in maintaining the financial stability of the tourism industry of Kerala. Along with Alappuzha, Munnar also has a substantial contribution in glorifying Kerala tourism with the fantasy tagline “Gods own country”. The picture of Munnar, which is portrayed by the media and state, always drives us into the middle class/upper-middle class imaginations of beauty and nature. The place attracts visitors from the mainland using the glorified phrase “Kashmir of the South” and also for various reasons as promoted by the tourism industry.



For the perfect progressive recipe, skip caste, sprinkle Dalit swadanusaar: Gaurav Somwanshi


Gaurav Somwanshi

gaurav 2020(Round Table India and SAVARI have been hosting a series of online talks by activists and thinkers on issues of importance to the Bahujan. This is the transcript of Gaurav Somwanshi's talk on June 21st, 2020)

Whatever I'm going to talk about today is primarily built upon the articles that I wrote, back in September 2016-17. Of course, I've built upon many other things, but the core has remained more or less the same. In fact, I’ll be quoting most of them directly.

So those articles were written in the aftermath of what was happening regarding the Rohith Vemula institutional murder case. Because many different kinds of reactions were popping up, but there was a certain kind of trend in them. And so that was one trigger. The second was the readiness of the mainstream to welcome the word Dalit or any other questions on caste. I remember when I was a child, I hardly ever heard that word, other than in my own family, when there was the talk of the autobiographies; but nowhere outside. But then later on, it became more ubiquitous.


Reality of sanitation workers in India: Caste, Stigma and historical injustice


Dhamma Darshan Nigam

Dhamma DarshanThe reality about the life of sanitation workers is not just about unsafe working and living conditions, irregular and minimum wages, and their health conditions and exploitation by their contractors. The reality is deep down more about the caste system and acceptance by the society that one group of people is best fit to clean their excreta, and that the service which is essential to them – people providing service remain completely nonessential. The reality is as concurrent, as historically social and cultural. And the solution also has to be found both ways. 



Distinct Identity of Sikhs and Rights of Scheduled Castes among Sikhs: Article 25 (2) (b)


Gursimran Singh

gursimranIt has been the popular demand of Sikhs since long that there is a need to amend Article 25 (2) (b) of the Constitution as it denies to them a separate distinct religious identity. The controversy is primarily around Explanation II to this article which states that “…..the reference to the word Hindu in sub-clause (b) of clause (2) shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.” 

There are two questions which need to be answered. 1. Whether the Explanation II takes away the distinct religious identity of Sikh religion? 2. Will the removal of Explanation II in anyway negatively affect the representation of Scheduled Castes among Sikhs? This write up will try to answer and clarify on both these controversies. 


Comprehending Honour Killings in India


Aniruddha Mahajan

pramod mHonour killing is an ugly reality in India. In fact, the nation where the societal structure is based on caste system, such incidents will not astonish much but will surely hamper the esteem of the nation. In the 21st century, the prevalence of caste based violence and systematic cum indirect operation of discrimination is the biggest concern. There is a rule of law, but still the power structure is restricted to specific sections of the society. Honour killing is one of the outputs of the caste based hegemonic spirit in India. In the past few years, Manoj and Babli case from Haryana, Sonai honour killing of Nashik, Shankar and Kausalya, Nandish and Swathi cases from Tamil Nadu, Nitin Aage case from Ahmednagar, Pranay and Amrutha case from Nalgonda, very recent Viraj Jagtap honour killing from Pune have hit the national headlines and highlighted the harsh reality of Indian society.  


Annihilation of caste: Can an anarchist perspective work?


Pranav Jeevan P

pranav We have been debating tirelessly on different ways to abolish caste and other social evils which permeate the society that we have today. Raising voices against oppression, forming political parties and contesting in elections and also trying to force the government to form and implement policies which will give the Bahujans their fundamental rights. We have come a long way through decades of struggle in gaining rights, but the present political scenario of the country is not looking hopeful to the Bahujan aspirations for breaking the shackles of caste.  

With the diluting of labour laws and enabling state sanctioned exploitation of Bahujan labour, implementation of NEP which further marginalize the Bahujan children and extinguish their hopes of upward social and economic mobility, a proposed EIA which will rob the Bahujans and Adivasis of their land and livelihood, implementation of CAA and NRC to deprive the status of citizenship, privatization of key public utilities and destroying the already weakened public healthcare system, the government is openly showing its motives as a corporate stooge which dances to the whims of Adani, Ambani and other Brahmin Bania masters.


Running with the wolves, Hunting with the hounds


Kanika S

This essay explores the role of business archives in serving the business interests, and how history – distinct from the past – is created and revisions to it (or alternate interpretations) are prevented. Archives have become an important and inexpensive corporate asset in today's world that shape a corporate identity by providing a narrative using selective management actions and decisions taken in the past. Ineke Deserno (2007) conducted a review of world's 50 largest MNC's public websites and corporate archives and observed that companies that have come under public flak for past actions – for example, cooperation with the Nazi regime – open their archives to the public in order to rebuild public confidence and trust.1 How a business chooses to deal with an inconvenient past, of course, varies across time and geography. In this particular essay, I have chosen to focus on Tata Group and draw conclusions based singularly on one Indian business group.

tata 2a

Value of Business Archives

In the introduction of Everybody's Business: An Almanac, its editors Milton Moskowitz, Robert Levering and Michael Katz say this: "Corporations, like people, are often better understood by looking at their past. In the business world, where eyes are usually fixed firmly on the road ahead, this exercise is seldom performed."


North American whites are also oppressed by the American empire


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

akil1 2 Pushpendra: Hi Akil. Let us start with your brief introduction for the readers in India.

Akil: For the future audiences, I am Akil Bakari, a long time activist here in America. I have worked for the past thirty-some odd years here in Jackson, Mississippi, which is in the south-eastern part of the internal US empire. I am a network engineer by training and I manage a technology company. That’s a little bit about me.

Pushpendra: We have been hearing about a lot of police brutality, which is a serious issue in America and there is a lot of discussion around racism. I would like to ask you how the issues of police brutality and racism are tied in with the issues of social and economic inequality?

Akil: The role of law enforcement in America since its inception was to control and police Black bodies. That’s it! That's always been its role. It has never been about anything other than that in its essence. There are Black and Brown people within that institution; there are some decent people individually that are in that institution. But make no mistake about it; it is functioning as it was designed. It was designed to function in this manner. Period. It’s not like oh it is malfunctioning.. no no. It is functioning as it was designed. And as we are here in the late stage of vulture capitalism…. the increase in police repression and police terrorism is here with us because of the huge contradiction of the late stage vulture capitalism. And, what you are seeing manifest is young white people who have been lied to. What I mean by that is that they were told you are young and white, you have got all the credentials and education and you have this white privilege. And they have had that to a degree but not a degree to which they were told they had. And now what you have because of this huge contradiction of vulture capitalism whereby you have young white people who are saddled with mounds of student loan. They have all these credentials, but they can’t find the type of employment that will compensate them in a way that has been told to them historically or that has been demonstrated to white people in this country. So what you are seeing is a merging of the generational struggles of Black and Brown people in this internal US empire and the struggles of young white people that actually started with Occupy Wall Street, some ten years ago. That’s what you are seeing, combining with all the other factors, you know, the global pandemic.. So all of these forces and factors have merged into this moment.


The Misnomer Called Riot


Bobby Kunhu

kunhu"It is the nature of physics to hear the loudest of mouths over the most comprehensive ones."

― Criss Jami, Killosophy

In discussions relating to identity in South Asia – when the obviously relevant argument that it is only the privileged that can claim an identity devoid of religion and caste is raised, I smile within myself – because, while I hear and empathize with the argument, my case is one of those exceptions that prove the rule. My identity is one that is born out of my father's existential angst having been at the receiving end and witness to brutal communal violence.

The year was 1967 and my father was working as a civil engineer with the Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC), Ranchi (then a part of Bihar) – a public sector undertaking. Massive communal violence broke out in Ranchi. My father metaphorically remembers that the River Subarnarekha had turned red with all the spilt blood. Born a Mappila, my father remains a staunch atheist. My maternal grandfather has told me that he used to be part of the Bihar Rationalist Association as well. Further, he had a name that could not be associated with Islam outside Kerala. Neither his atheism nor his name was of any help when mobs attacked the personnel office of HEC to raid for the personal documents of employees to identify Muslims from South India. My father went into hiding and lived almost three months under the stairwell of one of his closest Hindu friends. When things didn't seem to be returning to normal, his friends organized a mock RSS rally placing my father at the center of it. The rally went up to Muri, the next station after Ranchi and put him on a train back home. Thereafter, he had to spend almost an year at home with pay till things returned to normal in Ranchi.