Schrödinger's cat in Supreme Court of India

Amit Kumar

amit kumar public org(This article was written on 13th January, 2018 in the wake of the press conference by four Supreme Court judges. Author feels that it has relevance now in the context of recent actions and inactions of the Supreme Court.)

The four Senior Judges of Supreme Court of India, the so-called guardian of the Indian Constitution, coming out openly in a press conference has kicked up a storm of opinions from all quadrants of the political cartesian-plane with the X-axis of Left-Right and the Y-axis of propriety, righteousness and morality. Even a literate man well versed in legal lexicon finds it difficult to make out the implications of the bold act.

Though it is true that the judiciary cannot claim itself completely free from the malaise that afflicts other organs of the state or administrative bodies, SC has been envisioned in our constitutional framework not just as an ordinary court rather as an  extremely important functionary of being the watch-dog of Indian constitution and hence, has been provided with enough independence and powers to ensure separation of power and to create checks and balances with the executive and legislature. This framework is an essential minimum for the working of any constitutional government and to stop it from sinking into authoritarianism of the executive.


A question from Kashmir: What is freedom and how does one attain it?


Ifrah Mushtaque Khan

As I narrate this article to my brother over a phone who lives outside Kashmir where internet is luxuriously available, the very implications of the problem are apparent. I can't email the article directly to Round Table India, because the internet is down. A couple of months ago, even this phone call would not have been a possibility.

Amidst all these, I have been pondering on many questions.

brahmin swallowing kashmir

Primarily, what is freedom and how does one attain it? This remains the most debatable question especially in a disputed territory like Kashmir where the government is playing an à la carte approach - one is given the rights that suit the government, and all the other rights, essential or not, are denied. Since 5th of August 2019, Kashmir has been reeling under darkness in terms of technology, as all connectivity was barred – including landline, mobile phones, and the internet services. This was done in coordination with the centre's decision to abrogate J&K's special status (Article 370).


The Students' Struggles of Hyderabad Central University: Emergence of Dalit students' Politics

Prof. P. Kesava Kumar

kesava kumarIn recent times, the privileged public sphere named University has occupied the centre stage of Indian politics. University is often viewed as an active place of learning by holding together the diverse social and political communities. It is not only a centre for catering knowledge, it also produces knowledge. Needless to say that it has located itself in a privileged public space in society. Knowledge produced from the society is channelized through curriculum of the university education. By specializing in the skill of knowledge, the intellectual community emerging out of university education may provide direction to the society to build a better society. In other words, future of the nation imagined and influenced through the intelligentsia. Apart from the questions of what constitutes knowledge and whose knowledge prevails and is institutionalized as public knowledge system, we have to understand the social context of this processing of knowledge systems and political value of the existing domain of knowledge. There is no doubt that the idea of the University is still continuing on the premises of colonial ideas.


Kanshi Ram: Man, Legacy and Modern Dalit-Bahujan Political Dynamics


Vaibhav Walunj

vaibhav walunj"Social movements are at once the symptoms and the instruments of progress. Ignore them and statesmanship is irrelevant; fail to use them and it is weak."
- Walter Lippmann

Indian political discourse after the life of Babasaheb Ambedkar would remain incomplete without acknowledging the Bahujan movement led by Kanshi Ram. This movement shook the political ground of India at large and of north India in particular. It created space for Dalit-Bahujans to stake claim to political power, rather than merely being vote banks of savarna candidates. The movement was molded and strengthened with the statesmanship of Kanshi Ram—a scientist who transformed into a powerful militant Ambedkarite. He remains a powerful and relevant force in the present, as can be gauged from instances where marginalized students have been expelled from institutions for observing his death anniversary. It is important for us to explore his ideas as well as to deliberate on the implications of his work for our political future, especially as contemporary strategies and leadership seem to be failing and proving to be weak.


The Importance of a Caste-Based Census

Tanoj Meshram

Tanoj(The Maharashtra assembly, on the initiative of its speaker Mr. Nana Patole - who is also an important OBC leader of the Congress in Maharashtra - has passed a resolution on January 08 demanding caste census in 2021. This development has once again raised expectations of anti-caste activists and started the discussion in social media about the need for a caste census. It is in this context that the following article - which is an edited and translated transcript of an old speech given at BAMCEF National Convention, held at Nagpur from December from 25 to 28, 2015 - which raises some important issues about the caste census and counting of OBCs and the faulty implementation process of Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is being published.)

Dear Friends,

We now are living under a BJP government and many people believe that the UPA government was better than the current government. It was the UPA government which had given an assurance of conducting the caste census. Congress has ruled this country since 1947, with the exception of two or three governments. However, even though the need for having a caste-based census was repeatedly brought up, they never took this seriously. In fact, the honourable home minister whose ministry was in-charge of implementing this caste census was himself against the idea of conducting a caste census. Both current and previous home ministers, P. Chidambaram and Rajnath Singh have been against this and they expressed this not just in internal party forums but also publicly. However, some allies of the Congress government demanded that caste census be conducted before the 2011 census of India and organizations like BAMCEF had been demanding this for a long time. Babasaheb Ambedkar in his article "From Millions to Fractions" had also emphasized the importance of the caste census. Literature at the international level about the relationship of identity and census says there that a census plays an  important role in construction of social reality and collective identities (like that of OBCs in India) in the way that a map is essential to understand the geography of a nation.


A film that celebrates the memory of Bhima Koregoan


Amarnath Sandipamu

In January of 2017, at the screening of my film Bommalollu - The Puppeteers in Bangalore, Karthik Navayan, who then worked at Amnesty, introduced me to a young man as an apprentice at his organisation. He said he was interested in filmmaking and was enthusiastically happy about meeting me and another friend Rohan Arthur who organised the screening in his apartment community hall. He was full of questions about me, my body of work and my politics. When asked about him, he said he was working on a film on Bhima Koregoan. And today Somnath Waghmare is known as the filmmaker who etched out the memory of the great battle of the Mahars of Pune in his committed debut The Battle of Bhima Koregoan: An Unending Journey.

mt 1

A Narrative Celebrating Pride

On the first day of every year, lakhs of people throng a lesser-known memorial site near Pune, making it seem like a carnival. Locating the film in this carnival-like atmosphere, Somnath opens the film on the Samata Sainik Dal street performance raising Jai Bhim slogans, setting a celebratory tone to the film's narrative capturing the energy around the Bhima Koregoan Victory pillar. While we see glimpses of women, men, children rushing to the gathering, the flowers-adorned victory pillar is shown standing tall in the background of Buddhist chants.


Reading India in the time of protest!


Thongam Bipin

thongamTime and again we have seen how India unfolds itself to its margin during protests. It is violent and oppressive. It has made itself clear through its actions that the state machinery is not for the protection of the public but to protect the government from the public. The public is increasingly seen as an enemy of the state. Violence and oppression get exponentially over the par when the enemy of the state belongs to a minority community. It is the design of the state to be ruthless against the protestors in the Northeast (NE), in Jamia, in Aligarh and in other parts of Uttar Pradesh. The ruthless design of the state is extracted from and sanctioned by the dominant community.

There are many who suffer not because of their own designs but somebody else’s. Yet, they cannot speak of their sufferings. Their suffering is an unspeakable suffering for the nation is greater. Because their suffering is lesser in the scale of national importance, it does not reach the masses which constitute the core of a nation. It becomes untranslatable in the language known to the nation. Thus, it does not outrage the national conscience. Simply put, the sufferings of some are mere and routine. They cannot be understood without their sufferings. It is who they are. They will cease to exist without their marginalization. Their marginalisation is the design of the nation. However, a privileged person's suffering exhorts outrage, shakes the national conscience because it is not normal for a privileged person to be suffering. She cannot and should not suffer.  It is not usual for a brahmin or a person from a privileged class/caste to be suffering. It becomes our collective task to solace her because she is the nation. 


The unsure stage of Indian democracy...


Shiva Thorat

Screen Shot 2019-12-12 at 6.01.39 PM

It was around the time that the Constitution of India was delivered to Rajendra Prasad: after Gandhi's assassination by Godse and in response, the former home minister Sardar Patel banned the then fledgeling right-wing organization - Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The Prime Minister's modern-day Sanghi agendas are more brutal than those of the leaders of the past. Nathuram Godse assassinated Gandhi—who was a Congress leader and led many movements like the salt satyagraha at Dandi and the Quit India Movement. PM Modi introduced the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in the name of Gandhi and worshipped Godse on his birth anniversary.

Construction of Patel's statue during this regime made popular material for news, memes and stand-up comedians. Madan Mohan Malaviya—a staunch leader of the Hindu Mahasabha and an Uttar Pradesh Brahmin, other than being the President of the Indian National Congress four times—had to be on the list of names to be commemorated by PM Modi. Malaviya was also the founder of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and produced many Sanskrit texts during his lifetime. Interestingly, Malaviya is not discussed in this light today; he is known as just another freedom fighter or one of the political leaders who were part of the formation process of this country. But it is an indirect statement by the Sangh Parivar--naming schemes, erecting statues in the name of Gandhi, Patel and Malaviya--that he was a significant part of nation-making. Hence, the national mission for teachers and teaching materials is in Malaviya's name.


NRC and CAA are as anti-Dalit as anti-Muslim!


Dharmesh Ambedkar

Jai Bhim Friends,

You are aware of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). The media is continuously saying that both these are anti-Muslims. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has even said that those opposing CAA and NRC can be identified from their clothes. If you also think so then you certainly should read this pamphlet.

mass detention centre goalpara

Detention centre coming up in Goalpara, Assam

According to an Indian Express report1, more than 19 lakh people excluded from Assam's NRC list won't have voting rights. 14 lakh out of this 19 lakh are Hindu. The government has not released information related to their castes2. It also shows that maximum people out of this 14 lakh would be Tribes from Jharkhand who have gone there to work in tea gardens, Dusadhs, Chamars and Mehtars of Bihar and the Dalits and OBCs of Assam. Now it is clear that these Dalits, Tribes and OBCs will remain deprived of their voting rights, which was granted to them after tireless struggle of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Not only this, but these deprived Dalits, Tribes and OBCs will be imprisoned in detention camps.


The legacy of B. R. Ambedkar and his contribution to social justice and equality


Kavita Chohan

kavita chohanThere is a false perception among Indians that Dr. Ambedkar's work addresses the concerns of Dalits and Dalit women only. This perception is not only found among those from "upper" castes, but also within the Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and women from the "upper" castes. Thus, the legacy of Dr. Ambedkar is claimed largely by Mahars and seems to remain unacknowledged by other sections of society. This article explores the origins of this false and limited propaganda that severely limits Ambedkar's thought legacy.

Ambedkar has said that "I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved". He does not say that he measures the progress of the community by measuring the progress of Dalit women--he is addressing all women. Even then, one does not find Dr. Ambedkar's name in the list of feminists cited by Indian feminists. The reason for this is simple—caste hegemony never allows a universal, egalitarian identity to a Scheduled Caste person. Throughout his life, Dr. Ambedkar fought for the rights of Indian women. He was instrumental in proposing the Hindu Code Bill in the parliament and expressed his urgency in reforming the status of Hindu women. However, it was the "upper" caste women who opposed the bill, without having understood it fully, and demonstrated in front of Dr. Ambedkar's house. The caste system has not allowed Dr. Ambedkar's thought to reach the masses. His work has been deliberately silenced, as can be seen from the unavailability of his books in the market and absence of his work in the educational curriculum.


Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and the Tribal Community (Adivasi)


Jawar Bheel

jawar bheelStudents' protests have rocked the country since the passage of Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). CAB has already become Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Also, on November 20th, Union Home Minister, Amit Shah had made a statement in the Parliament that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) would be prepared for every state in the country. This package of CAA and countrywide NRC has been criticized, opposed and protested against on various grounds such as violation of the spirit of Indian constitution, formalization of inequality on the basis of religion and its communal intent. In North Eastern states of India, CAA has been opposed for protection of the indigene against migrants. But what has been overlooked is how it creates a state of limbo for a big chunk of Adivasis in the country.

Religious beliefs of Adivasis vary from tribe to tribe and it is a known fact that their religious beliefs and practices vary to a considerable extent from the mainstream religions practiced in India, specifically those which are mentioned in CAA. Take an example of Jharkhand. According to 2011 census, Jharkhand's total tribal population is 86,45,042. When looked through the religious prism, 46.71 % of them fall into two groups which are "other religions and persuasions" and "Religion not stated". This brings out the fact that almost half of Jharkhand's tribals do not belong to the religions mentioned in CAA (These figures are different for each state).


CAB-NRC, a double edged sword against Minorities


Mohammad Javed Alig


An extremely controversial, polarised and much-heated debate on Citizenship Amendment Bill is at the centre of local and intellectual discussion. It seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955, aimed at making non-muslim refugees from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan eligible to apply for Indian citizenship if they faced any persecution there on the grounds of religion. They will not be considered illegal immigrants if they have entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

Home Minister's logic on CAB is not consistent because it does not protect all religious minorities, nor does it apply to all neighbours. The Ahmedia Muslim and even Shias face discrimination in Pakistan. Rohingya Muslims and Hindus face persecution in Burma, and Hindu and Christian Tamils in neighbouring Sri Lanka. Shah's logic is very clear and straightforward that Hindus in India's neighbourhood have faced hardship, violence and persecution. These migrants deserve rights and dignity — and where else but in India can they get it?


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