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Voters were against BSP, not for anybody

Vivek Kumar

This election is historical because, once again, upper castes have been kept out of power. This has been the trend in the state for the past two-and-a-half decades. Secondly, this election can also be seen as a backlash of upper castes against the consolidation of Dalit power in Uttar Pradesh. Dalit workers and a number of officials have told that upper castes were heard saying that, "anybody should win, but not the BSP; the Dalits have lost their sense and gone mad". But the irony is that they did not have any political party led and dominated by upper castes to which they could vote. Hence, wherever they found that someone is defeating BSP, they voted for the SP, BJP and Congress respectively. This is why we have upper caste votes spread across the upper caste parties.

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Road To Conversion: The Chakwada Detour

Dr. Udit Raj

(First published in October 2002)

udit_raj_copy_copyHindutva organisations are outraged over conversions, and their outrage prevents them from entering into negotiations with Muslim and Christian leaders. But have they ever bothered to understand the plight of Dalits?

Dalits and backwards consider themselves Hindus, but Hinduism does not respond to them; otherwise, there would be normal social behavior, such as marrying and dining, amongst followers of the same religion.

Whenever a Hindu inquires about other Hindus, what he actually wants to know is their caste. This isn't the case with other religions.

The Gujarat earthquake proved beyond doubt that even in that hour of crisis, the so-called upper castes didn't want to share their food and shelter, let alone joy and sorrow, with the Dalits.

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On Reservation Policy for Private Sector

Sukhadeo Thorat

(First published in June 2004)

Given the range of economic discrimination against marginalised groups like SCs, STs and OBCs the reservation policy for the private sector ought to cover not only employment, but also markets, agricultural land, capital, consumer goods, education, housing, government contracts, etc.

skthorat_copy_copy_copyFaced with caste related discrimination against and deprivation of marginalised social groups like SC, ST and OBC, the Indian state has used reservation policy in selected public spheres. Such concerns are, however, confined to the government sector and the vast private sector where more than 90 per cent of SC/ST workforce is employed, remains without protection against caste discrimination. While affirmative action policies in other countries, have been used both for private and public sector from the very beginning, in India the privatisation process concomitant with the withdrawal of the state from many spheres under the liberalisation regime, have further narrowed and compressed the little space that the discriminated groups had gained till now. If the societal discrimination in private domain is the justification for reservation in public sectors, why cannot such a policy be extended to the private sector? Precisely because of this consideration, the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA calls for a national dialogue on reservation in private sector. Maharashtra and MP governments on the other hand have already approved the reservation for SC/ST in jobs in private sector and in government contracts respectively.

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An Egyptian evolution

Kancha Ilaiah

(First published in February 2011)

The Egyptian revolution, perhaps, would be to the Islamic world what the French Revolution was to the Christian world. The Western intellectual predilection that the Islamic world is trapped in feudal Islamic dictatorships is likely to be disproved with this revolution.

In fact, Western thinkers forget that the Christian Europe had also suffered brutal monarchies and feudal dictatorships for several centuries. While Christianity evolved definite ideas on political systems and the rights of human beings both in relation to each other as well as to the state, Islamic civil societies had evolved their own method.

They were always conscious of their independent socio-political cultural constructions than, for example, Hindu civil society. The Egyptian revolution has a unique tone and tenor. It is likely to change the political discourse of the world in terms of democracy vs dictatorship and may also lead to the establishment of altogether different mode of democracy harmonious with the Islamic world's experience with politics and human rights.

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Why I Decided To Convert The Dalits Of Jhajjar

Dr. Udit Raj

(First published in October 2002)

If you had visited Badshahpur, Akhlimpur, or Tikli with me on October 22 and seen what I saw, you would have decided right then and there to give a call to all the Dalits of the area to convert to Buddhism, Christianity or Islam. Anything but Hinduism.

udit_raj_copyThese three are the hamlets of the five Dalits who were lynched to death on October 15 in Jhajjar district for hiding a dead cow. In Badshahpur village, Budhram, the father of Dayachandra, one of the five victims, wept bitterly. He kept telling me, ''We worshipped the gau mata, why did they kill my son?'' He, and Ratanlal, the father of another victim Virendra, also converted to Buddhism on July 27. Under pressure from the authorities, they are now being forced to claim that they tonsured their heads in ''protest'', not to convert.

In neighbouring Akhlimpur lives the widow of Totaram, another of the five victims. She has four little children between the age group of two months and four years. ''There is no hope for me or any of these children, I wish the killers had killed all of us,'' she mumbled.

In the other villages, I heard accounts of how local Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders had held a victory procession after the public lynching, how they had decided to reward the killers and claimed that they had burnt 'Ravana'. VHP leaders in Delhi such as Giriraj Kishore had already claimed that the life of a cow was more precious than that of a human being.

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Modernity and Its Margins: A Critique

CREST National Lecture in Memory of Shri. K.R. Narayanan, former President of India

delivered by

Gopal Guru

gopal_guru_copy_copy_copy_copy_copyThe above title contains four fairly loaded terms. These terms also look as if they are standing alone in isolation without making any coherent meaning. Still worse, they might look vague if we fail to forge connectivity between them. They need to be mediated into each other. Needless to say, I have chosen them with the intention to connect them to each other in a meaningful way. Therefore the first claim that I am making in this presentation is that these terms make complete sense only in association and not isolation. To put differently, these terms if left alone to them, there is every possibility that they would not only appear vague but they would turn even hostile to each other. For example, a certain notion of authenticity has the capacity to become completely hostile to modernity. It could be argued that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's life was more authentic for its simplicity, moral consistency and intellectual embodiment in Indian tradition. These three virtues would certainly fly into the face of 'modernity' that in certain sense celebrate the grand and glamorous life, permits an interplay of pragmatism, which is not always constrained by moral consistency. Tradition could also acquire authenticity in terms of basing itself purely on the Indian resources, and by implication therefore find any western intrusion as polluting. It is in this context that one could locate the tension between Gandhi and Ambedkar who arguably was a perfect modernist.

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