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And thus spoke Gama Ram

by Chandrabhan Prasad

The other day, I was pleasantly surprised to have Gama Ram at my home. He is thought of as a "living legend" among senior Dalits. He became a Sub-Inspector with the UP Police in February 1948.  "At the time, becoming a Sub-Inspector was a lot bigger than becoming an IPS officer today," Mr Ram informed us.

When the news of the appointment first filtered in, all of Sarai Mir town had descended at his house. His father had enough land to feed the family. He had enough land because he had inherited the traditional family occupation: tanning. His father had saved money to buy land because he knew that if the family was to ever gain some honour in society, he would have to "convert" his occupation. Before Ram, there were only four Dalit Sub-Inspectors with the UP Police.

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Politics of power and artificial ideologies

by Chandrabhan Prasad

Has any political scientist ever called the Communist Party of India's (CPI) 1957 victory in Kerala a political triumph of the Ezhavas, Nadars and Thiyyas - major upper Shudra castes - but one which was headed by a communist-Brahman, EMS Namboodiripad? Read More Can the Left Front or Congress-led fronts win elections in Kerala without the support of these Shudra castes? Left or Congress governments, it is the Ezhvas, Nadars and Thiyyas - the Dalits' main tormentors - who rule Kerala. What is the ideology then?

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Does India deserve international curbs?

by Chandrabhan Prasad

A novelist friend has just returned from Oxford. She was there to attend a Dalit-related talk where the UN-sponsored World Conference Against Racism, to be held in Durban this year, came up for discussion. She wondered why European scholars were not easily prepared to equate caste-based discrimination with that of race. Another friend, who works for a popular American daily and visits the US quite frequently, echoed similar views.

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Political radicals but social Tories

by Chandrabhan Prasad

The entire anti-Congress formation, including the intelligentsia, had hailed NT Rama Rao as the saviour who uprooted the Congress from the largest southern state. To be bracketed in the "progressive" club then, one had to demonstrate his or her anti-Congress credentials. Quite logically then, NTR was made chairperson of the National Front. Read More His son-in-law inherited that legacy and became chairperson of the United Front's high power Steering Committee.

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DU: Hindustan's other Nathdwara

by Chandrabhan Prasad

About a decade back, Rajasthan's Nathdwara town was in the news. The town houses a Hindu temple into which Dalits are not allowed. The maverick Arya Samaj sadhu Swamy Agnivesh had organised a march to accord Dalits their right to enter the temple. Read More Most newspapers wrote lengthy editorials condemning the priests of Nathdwara. Nathdwara-type situations persist in most parts of India but only when such incidents come into the limelight, does the Varna media launch a spirited condemnation.

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Body language of the Varna media

by Chandrabhan Prasad

Politicians, usually, lack a sense of shame or remorse. When they were made to wait outside, while the general negotiated with Hurriyat leaders, Indian politicians didn't seem to mind and instead, argued that a head of state has "schedule constraints" to keep in mind. But what about the Varna-media?  When our editors lined up like school kids to shake hands with the general and breakfast with him, why didn't any one of them get up and say that the Mukti Bahini didn't target innocent people but only the Pakistan Army.

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