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Nothing but academic immorality

Kancha Ilaiah

Educational issues are best left with Parliament and not with 'intellectual' experts

kancha_ilaiah_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copyEver since the Thorat committee submitted its report on the political science text books of the NCERT of class IX to XII recommending deletion of some cartoons, changing of some words a gnat war has started against Thorat personally. M S S Pandian, who agreed to be a member of the committee never attends the meetings of the committee but writes a dissent note straight away sitting at home. If ethics are left to winds anybody can attack anybody. Pandian is a good historian no doubt. But that does not give the authority to indulge in unethical claims. If academics attack politicians for not doing their duty but ruling the roost over the nation should not academicians follow some public morals and ethics of academics? This is a serious committee constituted by a central government agency to examine the contents of the school text books that shape millions of lives in this country. A member's primary duty is participate in the meetings and deliberations of the committee and influence its report's content from within.

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Dalit or Scheduled Caste: A Terminological Choice

Gail Omvedt

(Posted yesterday on her blog, 'seeking begumpura')


bhag__53

The Thorat Committee has recommended that the term "dalit" used in textbooks should be expunged and replaced by the legalistic terminology "scheduled caste." The reasoning for this is not clear. "Dalit" has become partly a controversial term, and it is true that not all who fall under the category of "scheduled castes" will accept it for themselves. Their reasons may differ – for some, it is a negative term, and they have moved into a space where they want a positive identity. This is true, for example, of many Buddhists. For others, the traditional caste name is preferable.

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The Cartoon Conundrum

 

 

 

A counterpoint: Conundrum of a cartoon and the proselytization of professors

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Bojja Tharakam

A considerable bunch of professors are up in arms against those who condemned the cartoon republished in the text book in political science for class XI (published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training), depicting Jawaharlal Nehru, whip in his hand, driving Dr. Ambedkar, also holding a whip and sitting on a snail labeled as the 'constitution' and a large group of people laughing at the scene. The professors including the two chief advisors, Prof. Suhas Palshikar and Prof. Yogender Yadav, also condemned the decision of the Government of India to remove the cartoon and withdraw the text book. They bemoan the lack of wit and wisdom, a sense for appreciating a punch and humor and condemned the people who are against the cartoon for their ignorance of the new trend of pedagogy introduced in the text book.

The professors are missing the point that those who oppose the cartoon are not against cartoons and caricatures and their importance in our life. They are also not against freedom of speech and expression. The professors are betraying their anger when they are caught on the wrong foot and are ventilating their ire on those who condemn the cartoon and its publishers in an oblique tone saying "Oh they are dalits, they cannot understand the nuances of a drawing, a poem, an essay and a song". Incidentally, those who first raised their voices against the cartoon are Mayawati, Ramdas Athawale and Thirumaavalavan. The quarrel is not only on the cartoon but also on its use in the text.

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Dr. Ambedkar, Neo-liberal Market-Economy and Social Democracy in India (Part II)

Ronki Ram

Continued from here.

[This paper was originally published in Human Rights Global Focus, Vol. 5, Nos. 3&4, July-December 2010, pp 12-38 (late issue)]

Moreover, atrocities against Dalits (social boycott, kidnapping, murder, abduction, bonded labour, intimidation, rape, honour killings and residential segregation) have also increased many folds during the economic reforms measures. Tapan Basu in his engaging review of Anand Teltumbde’s latest book on Khairlanji: A Strange and Bitter Crop writes, “[t]he paradox of Indian modernity is that it instigates Dalits to fight for social justice, even as more and more social injustices are heaped upon them everyday” (Hindu, December 7, 2008). It is this heightened amount of Dalit atrocities wrapped in a double foil of chronic poverty and emerging Dalit assertion that has in fact come to challenge the much hyped neo-liberal market-economy model and the promise that it flags for the deepening of democracy in India. There has been about a three-fold rise in cases of crime against Dalits such as murders, grievous hurt, rape, social boycott etc during the last decade and half (Puniyani 2002). Late Suraj Bhan, the then Chairman of the National SC and ST Commission, while speaking in a seminar on Reservation In Privatisation organised by the Ambedkar Trust (Jalandhar), commented that more than 45,000 cases of atrocities against Dalits and downtrodden have been registered in India during the past one year alone. However, if the numbers of those cases, which were either suppressed or went unnoticed, are included, the total figure could easily go up to one hundred thousand (The Tribune September 5, 2005). During 2003-05 the number of such atrocities against Dalits was 69,216 (Mungekar 2006).

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Dr. Ambedkar, Neo-liberal Market-Economy and Social Democracy in India (Part I)


Ronki Ram

[This paper was originally published in Human Rights Global Focus, Vol. 5, Nos. 3&4, July-December 2010, pp 12-38 (late issue)]

Abstract

Social democracy, as a philosophy, occupies a pivotal role in determining the social life of millions of oppressed and downtrodden communities all over the world. In the case of India, it occupies the central theme in the philosophy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, where he identified caste and social exclusion as the main blocks to the real attainment of the social democracy. This paper looks at the ways in which neo-liberal market-economy impacts social democracy as conceived by Dr. Ambedkar and examines its implications for the millions of ex-untouchables. It argues that the institution of social democracy, which flourished in India during the era of mixed economy and state welfares, seems to be fast approaching its demise under the ongoing process of neo-liberalisation. The paper further argues that the fast expanding domain of corporate sector and free flow of global capital, in conjunction with the gradual withdrawal of the welfare state, will not only widen inequalities, but also stifle the growth of social democracy in India.

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Identity politics and the annihilation of castes

Anand Teltumbde

Identity, one's sense of self and its persistence, as shaped through ascriptive and subjective processes, is natural to humans as social beings. Identity politics, however, is not natural. It is articulated through a persistent sense of discrimination and oppression, either innate or induced, along the axis of 'defining' one identity from among many. Identity politics thus necessarily veers towards becoming essentialist. Consequently, rather than understanding oneself as having heterogeneous and multiple identities, people are provoked to support the politics based on a particular identity.

Although 'identity politics' can draw on intellectual precursors from Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) to Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) – writers who have actually used this specific phrase[1] – it became more pronounced in the second half of the twentieth century through large-scale political movements (second wave feminism, Black civil rights in the U.S., gay and lesbian liberation, and the American Indian movements) which were based on claims about the injustices done to particular social groups. The specific discourse with its contemporary baggage has gained prominence only in the last twenty years. These social groups highlighted their identity in response to the experience of cultural imperialism (including stereotyping, erasure, or appropriation of one's group identity), violence, exploitation, marginalization, or humiliation by others.[2]

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