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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.

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Can you unlove your stars?

 

Amarnath Sandipamu 

Please read the previous part of this article here.

superstars etc

Manufacturing a star

A film is a cultural product that takes shape through the labours of over 24 departments popularly referred to as the '24 crafts' if not more. All the junior artists, side dancers, lightmen, camera assistants, drivers, sanitation professionals, electricians, cooks and food catering people, spotboys, make up artists, customers, stuntmen, prop assistants, postermen, production assistants form approximately 85 percent of the film crew which invariably has people from Bahujan communities. Often lead actors, directors' team, writers, cameramen, post-production heads and other key positions in designing costume, choreography, stunts form the 15 percent of the crew who could be from forward castes.

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Dealing with old foes: Perpetual Exclusion and Loneliness


Akshit Sangomla

akshit sangomlaMy name is Akshit Sangomla. I work as a senior reporter at the Down To Earth magazine in Delhi. I report and write stories on climate change, natural disasters, astronomy, artificial intelligence and other science (and technology) related topics - something that Rohith Vemula would have loved to do but was not allowed to. I am currently working on a story about facial recognition technology and the surveillance state that different world governments and corporations are trying to create.

My family is from Telangana and belongs to the Mala community. We are dalits. Apart from writing science stories I have also been dealing with old foes - exclusion and loneliness - in recent times. The pandemic and lockdown have only made it worse.

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The noble mission of Ambedkarite movement is all about giving

 

Amol Ragade

 

[Round Table India pays tribute to the legacy of Raju Kamble sir on his 2nd death anniversary, and we are glad to share this interview with Amol Ragade, one of his close associates.]

 

raju kamble20

 

Anu: Jai Bhim. Amol, you are someone who is very familiar with Raju Kamble Sir’s work and his life. Can you talk to us about his legacy?

 

Amol: Jai Bhim! Thank you for giving me this opportunity to interview with you and Kuffir da, and thank you for everything that you’ve been doing. 

 

Talking about Raju Kamble ji, he is what I see as a missionary, and that's what he used to even tell us, the way we need to operate, to network the society, to organize the society, to mobilize people. I think he was a great missionary, who went on a mission, an impossible mission, that no one would probably have thought about accomplishing. People would have thought about it, but actually being there, trying to do it, and accomplishing it. I think he is one of the stalwarts, when it comes to building an international society, and international Ambedkarite society. The way he functioned, as a pure missionary, with action, and less of talking or less of writing. A very well read man, exceptionally good in organizing people, leading people. Professionally as well, he was one of the most sought after professional engineers. He had a very good career that he carved out. He was a brilliant student, that’s what we hear from his college mates. Coming from a very humble background. I think he lost his mother at a very young age, I might be corrected here, but that’s what I think. I think he was a self made man. He did his engineering from NIT and his Master’s from IISc. That is when he became acquainted with BAMCEF, and that’s where his journey began, so far as I can recall.

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Constitutional Strategies for Bahujan Representation in the Higher Judiciary

 

Dr. Ayaz Ahmad

“As experience proves, rights are protected not by law but by the social and moral conscience of society. If social conscience is such that it is prepared to recognize the rights which law chooses to enact, rights will be safe and secure. But if the fundamental rights are opposed by the community, no Law, no Parliament, no Judiciary can guarantee them in the real sense of the word.”                                                                                                                                                            Dr. B R Ambedkar[1]

Introduction

ayaz1Since the commencement of Indian constitution, the higher judiciary (Supreme Court and High Courts) has operated as the death chamber of social justice policies[2]. By thus arresting social democracy, the higher judiciary has endangered our political democracy too. Such unfortunate judicial performance is rightly attributed to near complete monopoly of the Supreme Court and the High Courts by Brahmin-upper castes/class judges and advocates. Naturally, the efforts to redeem the higher judiciary from upper castes by the Bahujan class rightly concentrate on making it more representative. However, various strategies like the demand to implement Article 312 and abolition of Collegium System popular among social organizations and activists to achieve a representative higher judiciary remain oblivious to constitutional realities. These strategies are mostly presented as legitimate demands to the ruling class with a series of self-fulfilling assumptions. Due to such uninformed strategies, most of those efforts are unlikely to yield desired results. In fact, some of them may prove to be counter productive. This article aims to examine existing popular strategies to secure a representative higher judiciary in order to understand their feasibility in the light of extant constitutional arrangements. It will also explore the alternative legal strategies within the constitutional horizon of possibility to achieve a representative higher judiciary more conducive to social democracy.

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Decoding the post-2014 Parashuram-esque ‘vigilante figure’ in Bhavesh Joshi Superhero

 

Mohimarnab Biswas (Megh)

m biswasThis study locates the middle-class ‘vigilante figure’ in Bombay cinema within the larger paradigm of the rise of the ‘vigilante publics’ in the backdrop of the BJP’s massive electoral gains in 2014. It attempts to do so by focusing attention on the articulation of justice in Bhavesh Joshi Superhero. It looks to characterise the shift in visual codes of representation of the vigilante figure since 2014 through the lens of politics of thematic engagements and tropes within the genre of vigilante films. I attempt to deconstruct the vigilante figure with respect to the notions of citizenship, masculinity and territory and also explore the embedded function of caste in them. This study includes an effort to understand the construction of vigilantism as an ideology in order to unpack the ways in which the society--or at least a part of it--is imagining justice, framing itself and the others it is ‘othering’ in the process. The effort will be to deconstruct the vigilante figure in the film and analyse it on various registers like caste, masculinity, the production of the 'ideal citizen', and the notion of justice.

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Some Thoughts on Manipur and Asad Haider's book, Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump

 

Jackson RK

jacksonrkRacism is a face producing machine. It gives a face to the living things, non-living things, and, this time, to an entity that is both a living and a non-living thing at the same time: virus. As the world shrinks into private rooms in the aftermath of the corona-virus pandemic, racism succeeded in giving a face to this virus. For the world, it is the bat-eating-Chinese; for India, it is the dog-eating-or-whatever-the-hell-they-eat-but-they-make-momos-chinki.

Racist violence of intense hatred against the North Eastern diasporas has been rampant in major Indian cities. The pandemic has discharged a new wave of violent attacks as if the virus shoved the hitherto temporarily introverted hate into becoming an extrovert. The speedy response to the savage attacks is also one of racial paranoia, jokerfication of racial identities, and also of reducing and fixing the injured as forever victims, as people with injured identity with no agency of their own. But is anything ever new? It is in these normal times that I am choosing to sort of review a book that I believe is apropos. 

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Storming Libraries, ‘Achhe Din’ and the New Education Policy


N Sukumar and Shailaja Menon

The NEP 2020 has been rolled out amidst the Corona pandemic with the grandiose dreams of unleashing India's potential as a world teacher (Vishwaguru). Ironically, a few months back police stormed the library of Jamia Millia Islamia, thrashed students and vandalized the reading space. No one knows when the culprits will be brought to justice, if at all. The NEP states that it wants to set up libraries in every district and inculcate the reading habit among the children. In a climate, when students are anxious about appearing for a range of examinations, entrance tests to end semester exams, coupled with the fear of dropping out of classes due to the monetary crisis wrought by Covid 19 why is the state in a hurry to push through reforms in the education sector?

police attack students in jamia library

Police attack Jamia students in library

The University in India

Habermas considered universities as essential for society's progress, but the fact that it contains within itself the seeds of the reproduction of social lifeworlds, meant that constant vigilance is required to unleash its transformative potential. Hence, education has always been viewed as a contested terrain especially in highly unequal societies. Heuristically speaking, education is perceived as serving one of two purposes in society. It either serves to 'domesticate' and strengthen the existing relations of power and therefore perpetuates the ills such as socio-economic, cultural and environmental, critiqued throughout its corpus of literature, rendering conditions of oppression as non-existent or else it serves to 'liberate' in contributing to the ushering in of a new world in which principles of social justice and ecological sustainability are upheld.

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Let’s move on from this simplistic debate of nepotism in Bollywood


Anurag Minus Verma

anurag minus verma 07 2020For the last few weeks, nepotism and insider/outsider has become the trending topic. As an outsider who is working in the Mumbai industry for more than 5 years, I would like to add that the debate of nepotism is a simplistic debate. There are much deeper issues which are plaguing the industry and if you are genuinely interested in reforming the industry then please consider these points.

1. Real harassers of new outsiders are mostly powerful outsiders

These so-called outsiders after gaining power act even far worse than nepotistic people. These outsiders then become casting agents, senior film editors, cinematographers, heads of production houses, etc. They then harass outsiders in their exclusive non-nepotistic ways. Case in point: Kangana Ranaut after becoming powerful in Bollywood might not give chances to talented outsiders. She has employed her family members in her production house. Even many co-stars (outsiders) from Manikarnika have complained of harassment by Kangana where their roles were edited. [1]

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The twice born parasite


Dhamma Darshan Nigam

Dhamma DarshanThe COVID-19 pandemic has made clearly visible the deep chasm of inequality in the Indian society: it is our Bahujan folks who are suffering the most. However, for the Brahminical media and academia (BMA), their suffering is just a “poverty” issue, they portray that people are suffering just because they are poor. They talk and write a lot about the impact of COVID-19 on poor people - about poverty, the reasons for their poverty, and about the people suffering because of poverty. However, caste is rendered invisible. Also, the news of the connection between the impact of COVID-19 and poverty gets only minimum and odd slots of timings on national news channels while on these same channels, the news on the health condition of a COVID-19 positive Bollywood actor runs in prime time slots.

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What exists in India is a positively anti-social order: Suresh RV

 

Suresh RV

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

suresh Anu Ramdas: Welcome Suresh. Thank you for taking the time to do this.

Suresh Ravichandran: Thank you for this opportunity.

 Anu: The question that I have for you is, we find ourselves in a very strange time. In the caste system, this whole scenario is so familiar to us ... social distancing, quarantine, etc. This is what we've fought against all our life. The caste system is social distance. In several posts, you talk about how it keeps adapting to contemporary situations, its mutability as you call it. Now, with the pandemic and the language that is coming about, in a very justified atmosphere, the same concepts are being legitimized. Can you elaborate a bit about what is going on in your mind about this?

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The violence of Dalit feminist standpoint and Dalit patriarchy

 

Sruthi Herbert

sruthi soas(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 Dr Sruthi Herbert's talk on June 13th, 2020)

Hi everyone! Thank you all for being here to have this discussion. The topic for today is the academic violence of Dalit Feminist Standpoint (DFS) and Dalit patriarchy. I think it is necessary for us to get a good grasp of academic terminologies that are thrown about casually on social media these days mainly to put the Dalitbahujan on the defence. This is why I thought I will speak about this topic today. It certainly is not my favourite topic. In fact, I have hardly written about this. However, for the sake of clarity, especially to clarify what I think about this in the light of numerous discussions we have seen on social media, I will speak a little about Dalit Feminist Standpoint and Dalit patriarchy.

To start with, let us briefly discuss Patriarchy, specifically its origins.

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