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Sunday, September 14, 2014

वाल्मीकि अब ब्राह्मण हुए जैसे नमोशूद्र ब्राह्मण हो गये,बाकी हजारों जातियों का ब्राह्मण बनाना अभी बाकी है भारतीय मीडिया में अब वाल्मीकि विमर्श का समय है।संघी समरसता और डायवर्सिटी मिशन का यह ताजा अभिमुख है। पलाश विश्वास

वाल्मीकि अब ब्राह्मण हुए जैसे नमोशूद्र ब्राह्मण हो गये,बाकी हजारों जातियों का ब्राह्मण बनाना अभी बाकी है

भारतीय मीडिया में अब वाल्मीकि विमर्श का समय है।संघी समरसता और डायवर्सिटी मिशन का यह ताजा अभिमुख है।

पलाश विश्वास

वाल्मीकि अब ब्राह्मण हुए जैसे नमोशूद्र ब्राह्मण हो गये,बाकी हजारों जातियों का ब्राह्मण बनाना अभी बाकी है

भारतीय मीडिया में अब वाल्मीकि विमर्श का समय है।संघी समरसता और डायवर्सिटी मिशन का यह ताजा अभिमुख है।

धड़ाधड़ लेख छाप कर साबित करने की कोशिश की जा रही है कि हिंदू जाति वाल्मीकि की अस्पृष्यता और बहिस्कार का हश्र कर्मफल सिद्धांते जन्मगत जाति व्यवस्था नहीं,बल्कि हिंदुस्तान पर इस्लामी आक्रमण है।

यह नया मोदी पुराण है जो लिखा जा चुका है।


महाकाव्यिक मिथकीय घृणासर्वस्व इतिहास दृष्टि यह है,जिसमें मीडिया वाल्तेयर और ओसामा बिन लादेन को एक श्रेणी में समान राष्ट्रद्रोही साबित करने पर तुला है।

भारत में विधर्मियों के खिलाफ यह सबसे बड़ा अभियान है और इसे नजरअंदाज करने का भारी खामियाजा भुगतना होगा।


उत्तर प्रदेश के मुख्यमंत्री अखिलेश यादव और बहुजन समाज नेत्री मायावती को इस समीकरण को समझने में देरी हुई तो गायपट्टी में कितनी गाजा पट्टियां और बनेंगी,कहना मुश्किल है।


बहुजन आंदोलन मे वाल्मीकियों की भागेदारी से वे कांग्रेस संघ साझा उपक्रम से बाहर थे और बाबरी विध्वंस की क्रियाप्रतिक्रिया अध्याय निपटने से पहले हाल में यूपी के शाही कायाकल्प,हरिद्वार,इलाहाबाद वाराणसी के स्मार्टसिटी प्रकल्प के नये राममंदिर अभियान से पहले तक यूपी में बड़े दंगे नहीं हो रहे थे।इसे समझिये।

इतिहास के इस नवलेखन अभियान के अभिमुख से तो संभावना यह भी बनती है कि भारत में अस्पृश्यता,बहिस्कार, विषमता और नस्ली भेदभाव, अन्याय, अत्याचार, बेदखली,आम जनता के खिलाफ राष्ट्र के युद्ध और आदिवासियों के अलगाव से लेकर आफसा और आर्थिक सुधार अश्वमेध के एफडीाई राज के पीछे जो मूलाधार कृषि समाज को खंडित करने और उत्पादन प्रमाली पर निर्णायक वर्चस्व के स्थाई बंदोबस्त जाति व्यवस्था और मनुस्मृति शासन है,देर सवेर संघी शोध के जरिये उनकी जड़ें भी धर्मांतरण और इस्लामी आक्रमण साबित कर दी जायेंगी।


जाहिर है कि साम्राज्यवाद,सामंतवाद,फासीवाद और नाजीवाद,औपनिवेशिक शासन और आऱ्थिक सुधारक के मुक्त बाजार से लेकर लंपटपूंजी पोंजी कारोबर से संघ को खास ऐतराज नहीं है और इस्लाम केखिलाफ जिहाद के लिए वे जापान और चीन से लेकर अमेरिका और इजराइल तक का साझा क्रुसेड नये सिरके से शुरु करना चाहते हैं।

तमस नये सिरे पढ़े या देखें तो इस्लामी हमले से जोड़कर शुरु इस चामत्कारिक जाति विमर्श के मद्देनर,गाजापट्टियों के निर्माण के खतरनाक लव जिहाद के मद्देनजर हिंदू जाति वाल्मीकि विमर्श का असली तात्पर्य समझने में देर नहीं लगनी चाहिए।


संघी अकादमिक लव जिहाद तमाम गढ़ों और मठों के केसरियाकरण के साथ अब पद्म सुनामी के दूसरे चरण में है।


इस दूसरे प्रकार के लव जिहाद में नामी विश्वविद्यालयों में सक्रिय नाना लोग,विदेशे से आये या विदेशी वित्त पोषित अकादमिक लोग,एनजीओ पोषित लेखक समुदाय और संघ के समरसता मिशन और अस्मिताओं में जनता को खंड खंड बांटों मुहमिम के तमाम आदरणीय अकादमिक स्त्री पुरुष भी शामिल है,जो कारपोरेट मीडिया के बहुजन चेहरे और लोकप्रिय स्तंभकार भी हैं।

मोहनजोदड़ो और हड़पापा की सिंधु सभ्यता को सनातन वैदिकी सभ्यता बताने का संघी उपक्रम भारत के सभी धर्मस्थलों के हिंदुत्वकरण और सभी भारतीयों के हिंदुस्तानीकरण के साथ आदिगंगा की तरह गंगा शुध्दि अभियान है।


मनुसमृति शासन के अंतिम ल्क्ष्य के लिए इतिहास की वाम विकृतियों को दूर करने के लिए महाकाव्यात्मक मिथकीय वैदिकी इतिहास सृजन जारी है एक तरफ तो दूसरी तरफ मजबूत अस्पृश्य जातियों को सामाजिक समरसता अभियान के तहत ब्राह्मणत्व से अलंकृत भी किया जा रहा है।


वाल्मीकियों को रामायण रचयिता वाल्मीकि से जोड़कर उनके हर मोहल्ले में बाल्मीकि मंदिर बनवाकर बिना कुछ किये मुसलमानों को स्थाई वोटबैंक बनाने की तरह उनको ब्राह्मणत्व वरदान  देकर बहुजन समाज से उनके अलगाव के इस स्थाई बंदोबस्त को अंजाम दिया कांग्रेस और संघ परिवार के साझा उपक्रम ने।


बंगाल में भी मतुआ आंदोलन के पुरोधा हरिचांद ठाकुर को संघी विचारधारा के तहत मैथिली ब्राह्मण और परम ब्रह्म, भगवान विष्णु का अवतार बना दिया गया है।


मतुआ आंदोलन के पुरोधा हरिचांद ठाकुर भारतीय किसान आंदोलनों और उसके भूमि सुधार एजंडा के भी रुपकार है मतुआ आंदोलन के पुरोधा हरिचांद ठाकुर।


मतुआ आंदोलन के पुरोधा हरिचांद ठाकुर ने बाकायदा ब्राह्मणवादी हिंदुत्व के प्रतिरोध में वर्ग जाति धर्म की सीमायें तोड़कर मतुआ आंदोलन के भौतिकवाद को अंजाम दिया।जिसमें संन्यास को पाखंड माना गया।


मतुआ आंंदोलन के तहत ही स्त्री शिक्षा और विधवा विवाह की अनिवार्यता बतायी गयी और पुरोहित वैदिकी कर्मकांड निषेध किया गया आज से दो सौ साल पहले।


मतुआ आंदोलन के पुरोधा हरिचांद ठाकुर ने दो सौ साल पहले  मौलिक अस्पृश्यता निषेध आंदोलन और जाति उन्मूलन,स्त्रीमुक्ति का जयघोष भी किया।


यही नहीं, जिस अस्पृश्य लड़ाकू नमोशूद्र जाति के थे हरिचांद ठाकुर उनको भी वैदिकी नमोसेज बना दिया गया है।

एक दूसरे वैदिकी धर्म आंदोलन के सत्संग तहत नमोशूद्रों ने ऋत्विक,वैदिकी धर्म प्रचारक  बतौर जनेऊ धारण करना शुरू भी कर दिया है।


गौरतलब है कि इसी नमोशूद्र जाति के जोगेंद्रनाथ मंडल और बैरिस्टर मुकुंद बिहारी मल्लिक की पहल पर पूर्वी बंगाल से संविधान सभा के लिए चने गये थे डा. अंबेडकर,यह याद रखना जरुरी है।

इसके साथ यह भी याद करना जरुरी है कि जोगेंद्र नाथ मंडल 1942 के आसपास शिड्युल्ड कास्ट फेडरेशन के जरिये बाबासाहेब के साथ खड़े हुए और संविधान सभा के चुनाव से पहले महारों के अलावा नमोशूद्रों से पहले बाबासाहेब को ऐतिहासिक जो समर्थन मिला,वह वाल्मीकि समुदाय से था।


याद करें कि जब लंदन में गोल मेज सम्मेलन में डा. अंबेडकर की भागेदारी पर गांधी ने यह कहकर आपत्ति जता दी कि अंबेडकर दलितों के नेता नहीं हैं बल्कि हिंदुओं के निर्विवाद नेता बतौर वे स्वयं दलितों के नेता हैं।


उस जमाने में पंजाब के वाल्मीकि समुदायों के लोगों ने खून से इंग्लैंड की महारानी को बाबासाहेब अंबेडकर के समर्थन में पत्र लिखा जो लंदन के अखबारों में प्रमुखता से छपने पर गांधी की आपत्ति खारिज हो गयी।


इस पूरे प्रसंग के भगवान दास जी के रचनाक्रम से समझा जा सकता है।हरि नार्के का अंग्रेजी आलेख भी नत्थी है।


बहरहाल लंदन एपिसोड के तुरंत बाद, वाल्मीकियों को वाल्मीकि से जोड़ने का कांग्रेसी उपक्रम शुरु हो गया जो बाद में कांग्रेस संघ साझा उपक्रम बन गया।विडंबना यह कि संविधान सभा में बाबासाहेब के चुने जाने तक बाल्मीकि समुदाय कांग्रेस के पाले में चला गया।गांधी जो न कर सके,नेहरु ने वह करिश्मा कर दिखाया।


बाबासाहेब के बाद जो अंबेडकर राजनीति के तमाम सिपाहसालार हैं,उनके एक के बाद एक रामदास अठावले,नामदेव धसाल,उदित राज,रामविलास पासवान,कैप्टेन जयनारायण निषाद वगैरह वगैरह  जैले नव ब्राह्मण बनाने का रसायन वहीं है जो वाल्मीकि समुदाय और बंगाल की नमोशूद्र जाति पर अत्यंत वैज्ञानिक तरीके से सफलता के साथ आजमाया गया है।


जाहिर है कि इसी प्रसंग में इस ब्राह्मणीकरण अभियान को इस्लामी हमले और लव जिहाद से जोड़ने का मतलब समझ लेना चाहिए।


उत्तर प्रदेश के युवा मुख्यमंत्री बरसों से मुख्यमंत्री बनने से पहले हमारे फेसबुकिया मित्र हैं लेकिन उनसे मेरे संवाद नहीं हैं।


मेरे पिता के राष्ट्रपतियों,प्रधानमंत्रियों,मुख्यमंत्रियों, सचिवों,पार्टी अध्यक्षों, कमिश्नरों, जिलाधिकारियों से लेकिन अविराम संवाद रहा है।


अपढ़ थे वे लेकिन विभाजन पूर्व तेभागा, 1958 के ढिमरी ब्लाक किसान विद्रोह से लेकर तमाम शरणार्थी आंदोलनों और जनसंघर्षों के वे नेता थे।


वे इंदिरा गांधी और पीसी अलेक्जेंडर से सीधे संवाद कर सकते थे तो अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी और चंद्रशेखर से भी उनका निरकंतर संवाद रहा है।


चरण सिंह की किसान सभा के वे जैसे नेता थे वैसे ही कम्युनिस्टों की किसानसभा के वे नेता थे।जनता की समस्याओं और तकलीफों के फौरी समाधान के लिए वे अपनी जमीन से उठकर जब तब सत्ता के गलियारे में दस्तक देते थे।


उनकी इस कार्यशैली से मुझे बचपन से एलर्जी थी।मेरी लिए सुविधाजनक स्थिति हालांकि यह रही है कि मैंने कभी आम जनता के बीच कभी काम नहीं किया और न किसी जनसंघर्ष में मेरी सीधी भागेदारी है।


राजनीति से मेरा संवाद कभी नहीं रहा है।पिता के अंतरंग मित्रों से भी मेरे संवाद नहीं रहे हैं।

अखिलेश का जिक्र इसलिए कि आज का मुद्दा सीधे उनके राजकाज से जुड़ा हुआ है और यह मामला सीधे उनकी राजनीति को दूर तलक प्रभावित करने वाला है।


मैं नहीं जानता कि सीधे संबंध के बिना उनकी  फेसबुक टाइमलाइन पर पोस्ट के अलावा मैं और क्या कर सकता हूं।


गायपट्टी के जो भी जहां भी राजकाजी मनुष्य हैं,उनके कान खड़े हो जाने चाहिए कि संघ परिवार ने वाल्मीकि समुदाय को ब्राह्मण घोषित कर दिया है और अकादमिक तौर पर यह साबित कर रहा है कि बाल्मीकियों के ब्राह्मणत्व से स्खलन भारत पर इस्लाम के आक्रमण की वजह से हुआ है।


मैंने उत्तरप्रदेश के दंगाग्रस्त संवेदनशील इलाकों में सिख नरसंहार और बाबरी विध्वंस के कारपोरेट केसरिया संक्रमणकाल में पत्रकारिता की है।


मैं मेरठ में 1984 से लेकर 1990 तक दैनिक जागरण में रहा हूं।हाशिमपुरा और मलियाना कांड के अलावा मेरठ को महीनों दंगों की आग में जलते देखा है मैंने।


बाबरी परिसर में कारसेवा और गोलीकांड के न जाने कितने मारे गये मीडियासमय में मैं बरेली में था अमरउजाला में वीरेनदा के साथ।हम लोग अलग से समकालीन नजरिया भी निकालते थे।


तब उदित साहू बरेली अमरउजाला के संपादकीय प्रभारी थे।


अनिल अग्रवाल के निधन के बाद मैं अमरउजाला गया और तब प्रधानसंपादक अशोक अग्रवाल थे।अतुल और राजुल माहेश्वरी चूंकि वीरेन दा के छात्र रहे हैं तो उनकी तरफ से हम पर कोई अंकुश न था।अजय अग्रवाल से भी हमारी ट्यूनिंग थी।लेकन अशोक अग्रवाल की सोच हम सबसे भिन्न थी।वे जागरण और स्वतंत्र भारत जैसे अखबारों की प्रसारसंख्या के मुताबिक संपादकीय नीति तय करते थे।


अमरउजाला बरेली आगरा के बाद सबसे पुराना संस्करण था। तो वहां पुराने लोग और पुरानी राजनीति का प्रबल वर्चस्व था।लेकिन वीरेनदा,सुनील साह,इंदुभूषण रस्तोगी के साथ हम उस सांप्रदायिक उन्माद के मध्य संतुलित जो अखबार निकाल पा रहे थे,उसकी शायद सबसे बड़ी वजह उदितजी की समझ थी।


उदित साहू  ऐसे विरले पत्रकार रहे  हैं,जो आजीवन अमर उजाला के रहे और मालिकान उऩ की बात काटने की हालत में नहीं थे क्योंकि वे डोरी लाल अग्रवाल के मित्र थे।उनकी गलतियां सुधारने का हक मालिकान को भी न था।


उदित साहू परंपरागत पत्रकारिता के मूल्यों के साथ थे और वामपंथी हरगिज न थे।अमरउजाला में मैं सालभर रहा और रोजाना उदित जी ने पहले पेज पर मेरे विश्लेषण प्रकाशित किये।खाड़ी डेस्क पर मुझे रखा और हमारे पक्ष में जरुरत पड़ने पर खड़े भी हुए।


अब उदित जी के निधन पर उन्हें आगरा का पत्रकार बताया जा रहा है,जो सरासर गलत है,आज अमरउजाला का जो साम्राज्य है,उसकी नींव में उदित जी की हड्डियां जरुर होंगी,और गाय पट्टी की पत्रकारिता में उनके उल्लेखनीय अवदान की चर्चा होनी चाहिए।


उन्हें हमारी श्रद्धांजलि।मुझे उनके साथ काम करने का छोटा सा अवसर मिला,जो उनके साथ लंबे वक्त बिता चुके हैं,उन्हें उदितजी का सही मूल्यांकन अव्शय करना चाहिए।


जो लोग उत्तरप्रदेश,बिहार,गुजरात,हैदराबाद या मुंबई के दंगों की संरचना के बारे में नहीं जानते उनके लिए तमस का सहज पाठ है।


उपन्यास पढ़ लीजिये या दूरदर्शन पर बहुत पहले जो पांच किश्तों की शृंखला प्रसारित हुई थी,वह कहीं मिल जाये तो देख लीजिये।


आज भी दंगो का कुल जमा रसायन वहीं तमस सनातन है।धर्मस्थलों को अशुद्ध करके फिजां बदलने का रसायन।इस काम में एक ही समुदाय का इस्तेमाल होता रहा है और यह कोई गुप्त रहस्य भी नहीं है।शराब और पैसे बांटकर दंगे भड़काने का कारगर तरीका।


आगे चर्चा करें,इसेस पहले बता दें कि अमित शाह की सोशल इंजीनियंरिंग के गुल तो गोधरा से खिलने शुरु हुए,लेकिन बाबरी विध्वंस प्रकरण से पहले दंगा संस्कृति पर कांग्रेस की विशेषज्ञता बेमिसाल रही।


अगर बाबरी विध्वंस में संघ परिवार के टाप नेता कटघरे में हैं,तो मंदिर खुलवाकर मौलिक नींव राजीव गांधी ने खुद डाली और भव्य राममंदिर निर्माण की दिशा में नरसिंहराव का राजकाज निर्णायक था जो दरअसल भारत में केसरिया कारपोरेट राज अध्याय का पहला अध्याय भी है।


विडंबना तो यह है कि वाम राजनीति का एक पक्ष आपातकाल के समय इंदिरा के समाजवाद में निष्णात रहा तो इंदिरा उपरांते वामराजनीति तथाकथित कांग्रेसी धर्मनिरपेक्षता के साथ नत्थी हो गयी।


मीडिया, राजनीति, साहित्य और  संस्कृति में भी आपातकानील जेएनयू और बारत भवन वंश का वर्चस्व है। जो लाल नीले  दीखते हैं लेकिन हैं केसरिया आपादमस्तक।



सही मायने में असली पद्म सुनामी की रचना तो इंदिरा गांधी ने आपरेशन ब्लू स्टार के जरिये कर दी थी।उनकी नृशंस हत्या के बाद ही हिंदुत्व का ध्रूवीकरण जो शुरु हुआ,उसकी तार्किक परिणति नरेंद्र मोदी का शाही राजकाज है।


आज रविवारीय इकोनामिक टाइम्स में मोदी का फोकस केम छो अमेरिका है।


इसी प्रसंग में वरिष्ठ पत्रकार नीरजा चौधरी ने अपने आलेख में लिखा है कि विदेश मंत्रालय पर वर्चस्व के अलावा जवाहर लाल नेहरु और नरेंद्र मोदी में कोई मेल नजर नहीं आता है।


आगे उनका मंतव्य है कि नरेंद्र मोदी तेजी से इंदिरा गांधी बनते जा रहे हैं।


यह लेख आज के समय को समझने के लिए अनिवार्य पाठ है।इस समीकरण को समझे बना असली अशनिसंकेत के कूट को तोड़ना मुश्किल है।

p 14 2014 : The Economic Times (Kolkata)

Nehru & Modi: Different Sides of the Same Coin?

Neerja Chowdhury






Connecting with children and taking charge of foreign policy are the only similarities between India's first prime minister and the present. In fact, Modi may be closer to Indira Gandhi

Ever since he spoke to lakhs of children on Teacher's Day, many are suddenly seeing reflections of Jawaharlal Nehru in Naren dra Modi.

One of the reasons being that like Neh ru, Modi was able to connect with the chil dren all over the country. After his initial remarks, he suddenly came to life inter acting with them, shedding fatigue, smil ing, laughing -a visage not seen often talking like a friend, philosopher and guide about a whole host of issues, includ ing his pranks, bringing to fore a "cool" side (in the words of a child) of Modi. And telling a Manipuri child who asked him how he could become prime minister that he should prepare for 2024, for there was no chance till then, as Modi saw no threat to himself! Nehru's connect with children earned him the title of Chacha Nehru. Soon after he became prime minister, he opened the doors of Teen Murti House, his residence, to children, giving explicit instructions that they be allowed to use the spaces there to play. Even APJ Abdul Kalam used to encourage visits by children to Rashtra pati Bhavan during his presidency.

Catch 'em Young

When Nehru talked to youngsters, he would invariably use the occasion to educate. So also seems to be the case with Modi, and some have questioned whether being a teacher is a role a prime minister should play when he has his plate more than full. Others saw it as a far-reaching political move by the new PM. The senior amongst the children he addressed, and this is now going to be a yearly event, would become voters in 3-4 years time and are an important catchment area, particularly for a prime minister who has already declared that he is looking at a 10year term, at least! I still remember, as a child, when Nehru had come to our school in Delhi to speak on our Founder's Day, and he had chosen to speak on the country's foreign policy.Most children are unlikely to forget an interaction with the prime minister, though the children in the south had problems understanding Modi's conversation conducted in Hindi, and it might have been better had parts of it been translated into English, particularly when Modi would like to avoid a north-south divide, and his protégé, now BJP president Amit Shah is understood to be learning Tamil and Bengali! Whether it was through the red and green turban he sported at Red Fort on Independence Day or his confident step on Japan's soil, Modi has given early signs of exuding a consciousness that he leads over a billion people today.Nehru, it is well known and documented, strode the Indian -and world -stage like a colossus for several decades.

Foreign Affairs

The other similarity be tween the two that has in vited comment is about both taking charge of for eign policy. Nehru was his own foreign minister for all the 17 years that he was PM. It is early days for Modi, but many have been surprised at the ease with which he has taken to for eign policy issues, and the direction he is giving them, from the day he took over.This was reflected in his decision to invite Saarc leaders, including the Pakistan PM to his swearing in, and this entailed a risk. Had Nawaz Sharif turned down his invite, it would have been seen as a snub by the hardliners in his own ranks -and therefore a less-than-confident start to his premiership.

Nehru's world view had been fashioned right through the days of the national movement, which was also a period between the two world wars, and he had acquired an international perspective through his travels to countries of Europe, the then Soviet Union, China and the US in the '30s and '40s. From the beginning he saw Indian independence in the larger context of an "Asian resurgence", and he more than others in the Congress, came to fashion the policy non-alignment as the best way to go forward for a poor, yet large, country like India to acquire its rightful place globally , rather than to align with either of the two blocs.

Modi on the other hand has come to South Block from a regional capital with experience of running only one state of India. People expected him to take time to transit from a chief minister to a PM, particularly on foreign affairs. But Modi has taken to foreign policy, like duck to water.

Foreign policy is a continuum and does not change with a change of government.Just as Nehru left his stamp on it, there are early indications of a nuanced shift being made by Modi. Unlike the UPA's America-centric focus, he has given primacy to the neighbourhood -his early visits to Bhutan and Nepal and his invite to Saarc leaders bear this out -then to Asia, Japan first and then to China, with which the relationship is more complex; and then to the West and America where he will meet Barack Obama.

The reason why the world is looking at India and Modi with new eyes is the transformed situation in the country. It is the clear mandate the people of India have given Modi, giving his own party a majority after 30 years of coalitional governance, and the political stability that it connotes, which is making world leaders beat a path to India's doors.

Dismantling Nehru's Legacy

The Nehru-Modi comparisons, however, are only at the superficial level. Both represent two contending ideas of India, though the Congress is too demoralized

today -and at one level also confused on some of the ideological issues -to go to town on what it stands for.

If anything, Modi has hardly shown an enthusiasm for Nehru, and the BJP and RSS have an aversion to anything Nehruvian.The PM did not even take Nehru's name during his first I-Day speech. He struck statesman-like notes when he talked of all governments having contributed to the development of the country and during the course of his speech referred to many a leader -Gandhi, Patel, JP, Lohia -who had taken the country to great heights. But he left out Nehru. Agree or disagree with him, Nehru was among the builders of modern India.

Because of opposition to Nehru, the PM may have chosen to speak on Teachers' Day, and not on Bal Divas, which might have been a more natural occasion.But then using November 14, which is celebrated as Children's Day because it is Nehru's birthday, would have made the exercise a continuation of the Nehruvian convention.

The Planning Commission is not part of the BJP's scheme of things but the decision to "scrap" it was essentially because it was a Nehruvian relic. After all, if the country has to go for bullet trains, and smart cities, industrial corridors and new infrastructure, that cannot happen without planning. The government proposes to create an alternative structure. But reforming an existing one is always easier than reinventing the wheel. By opting to do away with it, Modi was clearly making a political point about bring down another edifice of the Nehruvian period.

Many prime ministers have been their foreign ministers, whether or not they held the portfolio themselves. Like Narasimha Rao. He fashioned India's foreign policy in the crucial years following the breakup of the Soviet Union when India opted to globalize in a world which had become unipolar, and moved from multilateralism to bilateralism, to a greater focus on economic relations in foreign affairs, and a "Look East" policy. Even the "weak" Manmohan Singh enhanced the relationship with the US with the Indo-American civil nuclear deal on which he staked his government. Modi is not cast in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee mould. Vajpayee was the moderate face of the BJP, Modi is its hawkish face.Modi is hands on. Vajpayee used to leave most decisions to his principal secretary Brajesh Mishra.

The Original Iron Lady

If Modi can be likened to a PM, in his style of functioning, it is not so much to Nehru or Vajpayee as to Indira Gandhi.

She may have started off as "gungi gudiya" but Indira came to be described as the "only man in the cabinet". In just over three months, Modi is not just the "first amongst equals" that a prime minister in our scheme of things is supposed to be, but is already head and shoulders above his other cabinet colleagues. The home minister, for instance, was not allowed to have the secretary of his choice. If reports -which have not been rebutted -are to be believed, the home minister is out of the process to decide the appointments as a member of the Cabinet Committee on Appointments, but is now informed about it afterwards, when the PM has decided. The PM undertook a highly successful visit to Japan which upgraded the relations between the two countries, but strangely Sushma Swaraj, the foreign minister was not part of it, whatever the reason. This has raised questions whether we are functioning in a presidential form of government or a cabinet system.

Like Modi, Indira was also a po larizing personality. Like In dira, Modi too has a style which likes to control. Like her, Modi too went over the head of the party to cre ate a direct con nect with the masses. Like Modi -who has bought his trusted people from Gujarat into the PMO -she used to preside over an all powerful PMO, that decided all major decisions, whether it was to do with bureaucratic appointments, intelligence gathering, or the judiciary. There are early signs of all major decisions getting routed through Modi's PMO.

Like Indira, Modi too has a less-thancomfortable relationship with the media.One of the early but visible signs of change is a drying up of information sources. In the past, whether during the UPA or the NDA rule, BJP leaders were easily accessible and forthcoming about the goings on in government and the party. Today they give media persons a wide berth, unless authorized by the powers that be to talk to the media. The PM has been taking only the of ficial media as part of his team when he has gone abroad.

During Indira's time, or even in the first two years of the 415-MP-backed Rajiv Gandhi government, reporters had to hang around the Congress office for the one sentence that a leader coming out might utter about the goings on inside! In Indira's case, when the courts disqualified her from parliament in 1975, she went to the extent of imposing an internal emergency, leading to media censorship, and abridgement of basic freedoms. Ironically, it is coalition governments, and the "leaks" they encouraged, which increased media's access to information.

Every prime minister's style of functioning is bound to find some resonance in the past, by way of comparisons to his predecessors. But at the end of the day, Modi -as were Nehru, Indira or the others -is his own person.












RSS bid to reach out to Dalits

Amita Shah

Saturday, 6 September 2014 - 6:05am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

The Sangh Parivar is now getting its act together to crusade for Dalit dignity. After breaching into Mayawati's vote bank in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP and the RSS are now engaged in the task of preventing Dalits from breaking away from the mainstream Hindu society.

The importance of reaching out to theDalit Community in the Parivar's eyes is underlined in the fact that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is launching BJP leader Bijay Sonkar Shastri's three books on scheduled castes — Hindu Valmiki Jaati, Hindu Khateek Jaati and Hindu Charmakaar Jaati.

The preface of all the three books are written by senior RSS leaders — Suresh Soni, Krishna Gopal and Suresh Joshi.

In his book on the chamaar community, Shastri has argued that the Dalits originally belonged to the upper castes — Brahmins and Kshatriyas — and even royal families and said he was trying to rewrite history to restore their dignity.

"In the medieval period the oppression of foreign invaders forced people from royal, pious and self-respecting groups to perform unclean and shameful acts. When the British came they called these people Dalits, tried to win their sympathy and divide Hindu society," he writes.

Shastri's effort is aimed at countering the Christian proselytisation. "Nearly 99% chamaars in UP were being targeted by Christians.... Around 80% of girls marrying muslims are Dalits," he said talking to dna two days before his book is to be launched.

A spokesperson in BJP chief Amit Shah's new team, he wants the party to ensure that his books reach the Dalits to wean them away from Mayawati. "Dalits in politics are like lions in a circus. They are not fed enough but given enough food to be kept alive," he says.

According to him, the party's strategy for the community should be aimed at removing the "Dalit" tag. Though the immediate test for the BJP was the 11 assembly and one Lok Sabha by-polls in UP on September 13, Shastri says his campaign had a long-term objective.

"In a society where there is self-respect it is long lasting and idealistic. No external force can dare to eye such a society," he writes in the book on Valmiki caste.

The BJP had got on board two crucial Dalit leaders — Ram Vilas Paswan and Udit Raj ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. While Paswan is food and consumer affairs minister, Udit Raj is a Delhi MP.

Seen as the Brahmin party, the BJP had lost Dalit support after the Ramjanmabhoomi movement. But, in the last Lok Sabha election, the Narendra Modi factor helped the party in surpassing caste equations, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP won all 17 of the state's constituencies reserved for SCs.



Sep 13 2014 : The Economic Times (Kolkata)

Valmikis Have Brahmin Past: BJP Leader

ShivendraKumar Singh

New Delhi:





Dalit sub-castes forced down caste ladder to take up menial jobs because of Muslim invasion: Shastri

BJP seems to be actively helping the Dalit community re-imagine its history, particularly in times of communal polarisation in the electorally significant state of UP.

Bizay Sonkar Shastri, a BJP national spokesperson and its eastern UP Dalit face, claims many sub castes of Dalits were initially Brahmins or Kshatriyas who were forced down the caste ladder to take up menial jobs because of Muslim invasion.

This is the thrust of his new book, Hindu Valmiki Jaati.

The launch was timed to coincide with bypolls to 11 assembly and one Lok Sabha seat in UP on Friday.

Shastri is from Rohania in Varanasi, a constituency going for polls.

Meanwhile, four other constituencies in western UP were voting will take place have been severely hit by communal violence. "Three books have been launched by RSS chief Mohanrao Bhagwatji. The books talk about our demand for social acceptability and our place in the society especially when many sub-castes of Dalits who were once upper castes (Brahmins and Kshatriyas) were actually forced to take up menial jobs just to save their religion," said Shastri. He is also an ex-chairman of National Commission for SC & STs.

"India was subjected to foreign invasion for more than 2,000 years and it was primarily to loot its huge pros perity. Later during Mughal and other Islamic invasions, it was with the mindset to rule the country and propagate Islam," said Shastri. Shastri said his "study on the Valmiki community (sweepers) reveals that the people of this community are related to almost 10% of Brahmin community and almost 90% of the existing Kshatriya community". Even defeated Rajputs who were Kshatriyas once were forced to become sweepers, according to Shastri's book. The m a x i m u m e x p l o i t a t i o n o f Kshatriyas occurred between the reigns of Qutubuddin Aibak and Lodhi or roughly 1200-1500, according to him.

The book quotes BR Ambedkar as saying, "Every community in India was self-respecting and consisted of warriors. Arms were possessed only by Kshatriyas and soldiers. The people were made prisoners only because they were unarmed. Had they been armed, the war would never have been lost. But the struggles that the Hindus underwent is an example for the entire world."


Gandhiji had said, "People call me a Mahatma, but Jotirao Phule was a true Mahatma". -Haribhau Narke

This is the biggest ground in Mumbai. On 6th December people from all over India come to pay their respects to Dr. Ambedkar at Chaitya Bhoomi which is just adjacent to this Shivaji Park. I am witnessing this for the first time that thousands of people have come to pay their re­spects to Babasaheb on 16th April. I have seen many a rallies before but I have never witnessed such discipline and I have never seen such a constructive programme on the ideology of our forefathers. I wish to thank BAMCEF for this. Many rallies are organized on 14th April. This is the first highly disciplined rally which has been organized on the basis of sound ideology and constructive programme and attended by people who have come from all corners of the our country.


I want to start my speech by telling you a small story. There was a King, he had a Queen. The Queen fell ill. The king sent for the Doctors. The medicines couldn't cure the Queen. The King was worried. One day the Royal Astrologer told the King that the Queen could be cured of her illness if she was fed the flesh of RajHansa daily. The King ordered that the Rajhansa should be brought immediately and its flesh to be fed to the Queen. The sol­diers knew that there were Rajhansas near the lake in the forest. The soldiers started killing the Rajhansas with their arrows. The flesh of the Rajhansas was fed to the Queen daily. The Queen's health began to improve. But one day the soldiers returned empty handed and crest-fallen. They explained to the King that the Rajhansas flee immediately on seeing the ap­proaching soldiers. The Rajhansas have real­ized that the soldiers are killers who want to kill them. The King then asked the Royal Astrolo­ger to solve this problem. The Royal Astrolo­ger said, "You make a mistake. The Rajhansas immediately identify the soldiers by their uni-forms. Hence they flee away on seeing the soldiers. You should change the dress of the soldiers. You should send a soldier in the garb of a Sadhu." The King did accordingly. The Rajhansa couldn't see through the disguise and thought the soldier was only a Sadhu, just a Brahmin. The Rajhansa felt that there was nothing to fear from this Sadhu and it went nearer to the soldier. The soldier immediately shot an arrow at the Rajhansa and killed it.


The gist of this story is that the Rajhansa was not able to see that the soldier had come to kill it disguised as a Sadhu. But we are hu­man beings. How can we commit the same mistake? We should have our own strategy to identify the killer. We should have an ideology. The killer will always approach us in different disguises. He will also resort to such disguises so that we make a mistake and join him. In In­dia a killer in the disguise of a Sadhu will be hailed and idolized and worshipped. The killer will not always commit the same mistake. He will use different disguises on different occa­sions.


It has been told that the Varna Vyavastha of four Varnas disintegrated into 6000 castes. But the Brahman Varna' in the Varna Vyavastha is both Varna as well as Caste. The same is not true of the other Varnas. There is no caste by the name of Kshattriya, Vaishya and Shudra. These are Varnas and there are thousands of castes in these Varnas. The Brahmins have their own logo, an antenna i.e. their Janevu. Thus it is easy to identify the Brahmins in India. The Brahmin comes to recite the Mantras in religious ceremonies organized by the Kshattriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. As the Mantras are in Sanskrit we do not know what they actually mean; what the Brahmins want us to commit. He makes us confess on a bond paper that, 'the universe has been designed by God himself. Brahmins were born from the mouth, Kshattriyas from the shoulders, Vaishyas from the thighs and Shudras from the feet. As this system i.e. Varna Vyavastha is for the benefit of mankind we swore to preserve it'. The Brahmins make us swear to preserve this Varna Vyavastha on the occasion of every wed­ding and religious ceremony. And we do it. We do not realize that we are actually writing on a stamp paper that even if the Brahmins kick us we will readily accept those kicks; we are ready to give them the right to exploit us. And we do this with full contentment. We do not realize what we are actually doing.


On the other hand there is an ideology which strives to unite the different castes to­gether. This ideology is Phule-Ambedkarite ide­ology. But we are unable to provide even a proper introduction of this ideology to our people. We can give some examples to the people of what our great forefathers did to unite the thou­sands of castes.

In the BAMCEF International Confer­ence held in London in Septemeber 2005, Bhagmal Pagal who had worked with Babasaheb told us that when a dispute arose between Gandhi and Babasaheb on some is­sues during the Round Table Conference of 1932, people from all over the country sent let­ters and telegrams in support of Babasaheb. People from the Valmiki caste and the Bhangi caste from Punjab sent letters, signed in blood, to Babasaheb. In those Ietters they wrote, "Gandhi is not our leader. Our leader is Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. Our relation with Babasaheb is a relation of blood. That is why we are sending this letter signed in blood. Babasaheb's blood and our blood are one and the same. You will not find any disloyalty in this blood". The people of Maharashtra believe that Babasaheb got huge support only from Maharashtra. But this is not true. But if we in­form the people of this work that our Valmiki brothers did in 1932 then people will know what loyalty really is! This is the way to show affec­tion towards Babasaheb. All these people were with Babasaheb with zeal and honesty.


In Maharashtra Dadasaheb Gaikwad and Amrutrao Rankhambe was one of the lead­ers in Babasaheb's movement. A problem arose before Babasaheb while allotting the tickets for the 1936 elections. There was a single ticket and the candidates were two. The problem was which candidate should be given the ticket? Babasaheb had declared in a Conference in Yeola, "Even though I am born as a Hindu, I shall not die as a Hindu". Amrutrao Rankhambe was the organizer of that Yeola conference. He was a wealthy man. Babasaheb summoned Amrutrao and told him, "If I give you the ticket, people will say that Babasaheb gives tickets only to the rich candidates. I think that I should not give you the ticket. Both of you are good activ­ists. In the future I shall give you an opportunity. But now try to understand the problem". Amrutrao Rankhambe did not understand and he rebelled. He deserted Babasaheb and went to a different party. On the day Amrutrao de­serted Babasaheb, Radhabai Jadhav who was Amrutrao's only sister went to him and asked him whether it was true that he left Babasaheb. Amrutrao told her that Babasaheb had done him injustice by not giving the party ticket. Radhabai then said to her brother, "You cannot understand the compulsions of Babasaheb but we all do. Babasaheb bestowed such affections on you and still you deserted him. I have come to bid farewell to you. Till such time you were with Babasaheb, I considered you as my brother. From now onwards, I am dead for you as you shall be for me."


The illiterate Radhabai Jadhav did not attend the funeral of Amrutrao, her only brother, when he died. Those who deserted Babasaheb do not belong to us. Those who abandon the ideology they cannot belong to us whoever they are. Our thoughts have to be same if we are to relate to each other. Only the relation between people having the same thoughts can be called as blood relation.


Our enemy will always try to divide us. He is an expert in this. He profits by dividing us. Till we keep on fighting between ourselves, Brahminism will continue to get stronger. We shall not be successful until and unless we stop fighting between ourselves. Brahminism will be broken down if we stop infighting between us. They misdirect us by telling us false stories. They deceive us by concocting false history. They tell us about the Brahmin Rani Laxmibai who fought bravely against the British. We know now that it was Jhalkari who actually fought and not Lakshmibai. Even if we were to believe that Rani Laxmibai fought on the battlefield with her son strapped up to her back, this is no great achievement.


When Poona was severely hit by a Plague epidemic people started fleeing Pune. Many people died. Many so called leaders fled from Pune. But one woman stood her ground. She went to every house and carried the pa­tients on her back to the hospital. She gave them medicines. In Mundhwa village near Pune, Pandurang Babaji Gaikwad, an eleven year old boy from the Mahar caste got infected with Plague. When she received this news she im mediately carried the boy on her back to the hospital. The hospital was seven kilometers away. She walked all this way to her son's hos­pital and admitted this boy. The boy was given medicines and was cured. Later this woman herself got infected with Plague and she died on 10th March 1897. This woman was Savitri Phule!


We applaud greatly the woman who carried her son on her back while she fought on the battlefield (It is proved that she was not Brahmin Lakshmibai but an indigenous woman named Jhalkari).


Is not such a woman worthy of com­mendation who fights against the system, cures the diseased and dies doing this work? Is this not an act of bravery? Savitri Phule was a Mali by caste and the boy whom she cured was a Mahar by caste. This fact can bind the two castes together. Gandhi said that though people call him a Manama, the true Mahatma is Jotirao Phule. When we submitted this document con­taining the above statement of Gandhi, the por­trait of Jotirao Phule was put in the Parliament. We asked them to put the portrait of Jotirao Phule alongside the portraits of Babasaheb and Shivaji Maharaj. The officials opposed by say­ing that this cannot be done as Jotirao Phule was never a Parliamentarian. We said even Gandhi was never a Member of Parliament. Still his portrait is hanged in the hall of the Parlia­ment. After these efforts the portrait of Jotirao Phule was placed in the Parliament. When asked to choose the place for the portrait we requested that it be placed between the por­traits of Shivaji Maharaj and Babasaheb. It was Jotirao Phule who hailed Shivaji by writing his Powada. It was the first Powada ever written on Shivaji. Jotirao Phule also started and cel­ebrated Shivaji Jayanti. We would have forgot-ten Jotirao Phule were it not for Babasaheb who disseminated the thoughts of Jotirao Phule all over India and abroad. Shivaji—Phule— Babasaheb, it is an ideology, a chain.


It was Jotirao Phule who first demanded Reservation in 1869. Shahu Maharaj imple mented 50% Reservation in his Kolhapur prov­ince from 26th June 1902. Babasaheb provided Reservation to the Bahujan Samaj by incorpo­rating articles 340,342,15,16,46 in the Consti­tution. Shahu Maharaj implemented in his prov­ince what Jotirao had demanded from the Brit­ish. Babasaheb fulfilled Jotirao's dream by in­corporating the right of Reservation in the con­stitution of India. The name of the boy adopted by Jotirao Phule was Yashwant. Shahu Maharaj's name was Yashwant and Babasaheb had named his son 'Yashwant'.


Some people may feel that these are insignificant things. But these little things will create an emotional environment which will fur­ther help us to unite our people. Even the thoughts will get fortified. I am sad that other than BAMCEF nobody is doing this work. Some people say that the Brahmins are not our real enemies. The Brahmins do not come to set fire to our houses. This leads to a difference of opin­ion between the OBC's and the SC's. And this escalates into clashes between the OBCs and the SCs. If we beat a dog with a stick the dog bites the stick instead of the hand. But we are human beings and we should know who is hold­ing the stick. The ruling castes use different tac­tics to divide us.


In the Round Table Conference Gandhi opposed Dr. Ambedkar. Dr. Ambedkar asked Mr. Gandhi, "Why are only you opposing me?" Gandhi said, "I would support you if others too do the same. But if others oppose you then I too will have to oppose you." Afterwards Gandhi went to the Muslim league and said that he would accept all their 14 demands but in return they should oppose Dr. Ambedkar. He went to the Sikhs and asked them to do the same. Dr. Ambedkar was shocked when he learnt this. Babasaheb thought that Gandhi was a deceit­ful person.


In the Mahad Conference held in 20, 21 March 1927 Babasaheb had placed the photo of Gandhi in the pandal. But after 1927 he real­ized that Gandhi was not what he seemed to be. Mahadevbhai Desai who was private assistant to Gandhi has written that when Babasaheb came to meet Gandhi for the first time, Gandhi did not even look up at Babasaheb. Gandhi pretended to be very busy in his work. When Babasaheb prepared to leave then Gandhi asked him, "When did you come?" Babasaheb thought Gandhi was pur­posely insulting him. Babasaheb asked Gandhi about his views. Gandhi said that his views are known to all. Gandhi asked Babasaheb for his comment on his views. In that discussion between Gandhi and Babasaheb, Babasaheb had said, "I have no homeland". Gandhi thought perhaps Babasaheb was a Brahmin by caste. He asked Mahadevbhai about this. Mahadevbhai informed him that Babasaheb was an untouchable by caste. Mahadevbhai later wrote in his Diary, "God save this per­son. This man (Gandhi) wants to become the leader of this country and his general knowl­edge is so weak that he asks who is Dr. Ambedkar." We need to tell the people with the required proofs about the fight between Dr. Ambedkar and Gandhi.

Unconsciously we strengthen Brahminism by talking of Ram. Ram is a sym­bol of Brahminism. We should understand what symbols are ours and what symbols are of our enemies, we should understand what should be done to strengthen our­selves.

Our activists, writers and intellectuals say that Gangadhar Neelkanth Sahastrabudhe (Brahmin) burnt Manusmriti. And people ap­plaud this. They do not know that indirectly the credit for burning Manusmriti goes to a Brah­min. We should not forget that Gandhi used to go to the Bhangi Colonies. But what hap­pened? The Bhangis remained as they were before but Gandhi became famous. The im­portance of Gandhi increased, his popularity soared. Hence when we give the credit of burn­ing Manusmriti to a Brahmin we are doing in­justice to history as well as to Babasaheb. On page 118 in 'Bahishkrut Bharat' Babasaheb has written that the resolution prepared by him for burning Manusmriti was read by Gangadhar Neelkanth Sahastrabudhe. The work of support­ing the resolution was done by Rajbhoj (Chamar) and Jadhav (Maratha). Thus Babasaheb had given the work of reading out the resolution to a Brahmin. But the work of supporting the resolution was done by activists of the Maratha and Chamar Castes. Further Babasaheb has written specifically on page 118 that the task of burning the Manusmriti was done by the Sadhu-Sants from the untouchable com­munities. But we give the credit of burning Manusmriti to a Brahmin. We change history by these little things. We say that the Brahmins helped Babasaheb in his work. Among his ac­tivists were Chitnis, Pradhan, Tipnis, Karnik and Rege. They say that Babasaheb was not against Brahmins, he was against Brahmanya. They say that some Brahmins may be bad but not all are bad. The fact is that Tipnis, Chitnis, Pradhan, Karnik and Rege were Kayasthas, i.e. Shudras. But observing the surnames we think that these are Brahmins and we believe it. We commit the same mistake every time. We say that Phule was helped by Brahmins, Babasaheb was helped by Brahmins. The fact is that when Phule started preaching the true history, Brah­mins deserted him. But the activists who re­mained till the very end with Phule were Ranba Mahar, Dhuraji Appaji Chamar, Ganu Shivaji Mang, Lahuji Vastad Salave, Usman Shaikh, and Fatima Shaikh. If we make the people aware of these facts then the task of uniting the castes will succeed. If we do the work of propagating the true facts we shall succeed in our cause. In Maharashtra there was a cabinet minister whose wife was a Brahmin. Now he is a Mem­ber of Parliament. This cabinet minister belongs to the Bahujan Samaj. Once there was a 'Janevu Ceremony (Upanayana Sanskar)' of his wife's brother's son. The minister told his wife that he would attend the ceremony in-spite of his being very busy at the moment so that her family would feel good that a cabinet minister had come to their function. His wife said that she would go alone and he need not come. In spite of this the minister went to attend the cer­emony. When the ceremony started the Brah­min Pandit asked every male present to remove his shirt. The, minister thought that it might be a part of this ceremony. He removed his shirt. All the males present in this ceremony had 'Janevu'. Only this cabinet minister didn't. The Brahmin Pandit asked that why he was not wearing a Janevu. The minister replied that he was not a Brahmin. The Brahmin Pandit then asked him to sit outside as non-Brahmins were not allowed to participate in the ceremony. Even though he was a cabinet minister he was not permitted to participate in this ceremony. This minister was greatly disturbed. He took his ve­hicle and started to leave. His wife came to him and said that he should have listened to her advice. He shouldn't have come. She said to him to go back home. She would come later. The Hindu beliefs say that the wife shouldn't stay at the place where her husband is insulted. But this cabinet minister's Brahmins wife said that she would remain for the ceremony and come later. Did he get respect even though he was a cabinet minister? The Dharmashastras belong to the Brahmins. The Dharmashastras give importance to Brahmins only. When we oppose the Brahmins people say that a few Brahmins are good. We should not forget what Babasaheb had said. He had said that, "Priestly Brahmins and the Secular Brahmins are two arms of the same body". There is no difference between them.


Now we have an opportunity If we pro­test in India then through BAMCEF International Network our protest will be heard by the whole world. But we have to raise our voice of protest here in India. Our responsibility has increased. Earlier the world was unaware of our protests but now our brothers-sisters are working in all corners of the world. We should tell the OBCs that Babasaheb had resigned for their cause. Babasaheb had fought to secure the right of Reservation to the OBCs. Not only this, a Com­mission was set up on the insistence of Babasaheb. Nehru had appointed Kalelkar to this commission. Kalelkar was a Brahmin by caste and a Gandhiwadi as well. He was one of Gandhi's favorite activists. Kalelkar said that the Kunbees, Malis, Telis etc i.e. OBCs are not poor and they do not need Reservation. These castes cannot be given reservation, he said. Babasaheb had made a provision to provide for Reservations to the OBCs and had even re­signed for the cause of the OBCs. It was Gandhi who sabotaged all our rights. Kalelkar was Gandhi's man. Before Kalelkar went to Satara for Commission's work he wrote a letter to the Collector of Satara in which he wrote, "I am a Brahmin and will eat the food cooked by a Brah­min. I will not eat the food cooked by any other ordinary person." And this Kalelkar was going to write a report on whether the OBCs are poor or not. Kalelkar opposed us as he was a Gandhiwadi. We should place this entire his­tory in front of our people. I know of one way to join people i.e. join people to BAMCEF. If people join BAMCEF they will keep away from Casteism. Through BAMCEF we can destroy Casteism and Brahminism. We can win Free­dom."


Thanking all and giving the slogan, "lets work in BAMCEF, lets march towards Freedom", Mr. Hari Bhau Narke concluded his speech.

Sep 14 2014 : The Economic Times (Kolkata)

Kem Cho, America?

Ishani Duttagupta






The Indian-American community flits between anticipation and discontent in the run-up to a jamboree at the Madison Square Garden during Narendra Modi's upcoming US visit

Indian Americans these days are abuzz speculating about what language Indi an prime minister Narendra Modi will speak when he addresses a mammoth gathering of 21,000 members of the community at the indoor arena of Mad ison Square Garden (MSG) in midtown Manhattan. The venue, famous as the home of the New York Rangers of the US National Hockey League, has been re portedly booked for $700,000 for the event on September 28 being organized under the umbrella of a recently formed not-for-profit organization called the Indian American Communi ty Foundation (IACF). The body will bring together over 500 diverse desi organizations and has energized the Indian-American community like never before -never in the history of Indian prime ministerial visits has such a huge event been organized by the 4.2-mil lion-strong community.

But then Modi is the flavour of the sea son wherever Indians or people of Indi an origin are present, and even more so in the US which has an organization called the Overseas Friends of BJP (OF BJP). "There is tremendous enthusiasm among the community to see our popu lar leader in person and hear from him his plans and vision for India," says Chandrakant Patel, chairman of the IACF and president of the OFBJP.

The organizers expect the stadium to be filled to its capacity. The event is scheduled to start at 11 am with a cultural programme and a short film called India Marching Forward followed by the PM's arrival at noon. The event will be hosted by the first Indian-origin Miss America, Nina Davuluri. Modi is expected to share the stage with a few US lawmakers. While the excitement among the Indian-American community is palpable, there are growing rumblings of discontent. "The MSG show seems to have been organized more on the lines of a Bollywood extravaganza rather than a significant address by the PM of the world's largest democracy," says Mukesh J Mowji, principal of Silver Creek Hospitality, a hotel development and management company in Silicon Valley and an investor in several IT start-ups.

The Unhappy Lot

Mowji and a section of investors like him would have liked Modi to visit Silicon Valley and participate in "more important and serious" engagements. "This is the technology hub of the US and has an influential Indian American community," he adds. Mowji will not attend the MSG carnival because he has more important business engagements. Mowji's absence will be ironic; as a former chairman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), he had played a key role in inviting Modi to the US in 2005 for the organization's annual convention, following which his visa was revoked. Like Mowji there are others who are also unhappy over the way in which the MSG show has been handled. "IACF is a hurriedly put together organization and although there's a full board and executives, it is being run single-handedly by Bharat Barai [a Chicago doctor who is known to be very close to Modi]," Chicago businessman Shalabh Shalli Kumar, founder of the National Indian American Public Policy Institute, a think tank, told ET Magazine on phone. Kumar is also unhappy over the lack of transparency in the fund-raising for the event. "Initially, there were no ticket sales for this reception, now there is a ticket price of $1,000 per person for reserved seats, of which there are around 1,900. The process is not transparent," adds Kumar. Over $1 million is being reportedly spent on the MSG bash.

Modi Fever

Of course, the groundswell of enthusiasm easily overruns the disgruntlement."We have over 1,000 members of our organization from not just the eastern states but some from further away such as Florida and Chicago coming to NYC only to hear him speak," says Ashook Ramsaran, president of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO).

Ajeet Singhvi, former president and currently a member of the board of trustees of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, too believes that the event will be a show of strength of the Indian American community. "We hope to hear the Indian PM speak about India's national healthcare policy and ways in which we can collaborate and help," Singhvi told ET Magazine from Los Angeles.

Aside from the MSG shindig, the con sulate general of India in New York will host Modi for a private dinner at The Pierre, a Taj hotel in Manhattan, at which 300 select guests have a chance of getting up close with the prime minister."It will be an opportunity to interact with the PM and discuss issues that are important not just for the community in the US but also for India," said Sanjay Puri, chairman of the US India Political Action Committee.

As usual, Modi's schedule will be a packed one -packed enough perhaps to make it difficult for the prime minister to sneak out for a quick thali at Vatan, NYC's favourite Gujarati restaurant.










HomeReporting & EssaysEssay › The Doctor and the Saint

ESSAY

The Doctor And The Saint

Ambedkar, Gandhi and the battle against caste

By ARUNDHATI ROY | 1 March 2014

BCCL

BR Ambedkar in Bombay, in 1939—three years after publishing Annihilation of Caste, his most radical text.

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ANNIHILATION OF CASTE is the nearly eighty-year-old text of a speech that was never delivered.* When I first read it I felt as though somebody had walked into a dim room and opened the windows. Reading Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar bridges the gap between what most Indians are schooled to believe in and the reality we experience every day of our lives.

My father was a Hindu, a Brahmo. I never met him until I was an adult. I grew up with my mother, in a Syrian Christian family in Ayemenem, a small village in communist-ruled Kerala. And yet all around me were the fissures and cracks of caste. Ayemenem had its own separate "Parayan" church where "Parayan" priests preached to an "untouchable" congregation. Caste was implied in peoples' names, in the way people referred to each other, in the work they did, in the clothes they wore, in the marriages that were arranged, in the language we spoke. Even so, I never encountered the notion of caste in a single school textbook. Reading Ambedkar alerted me to a gaping hole in our pedagogical universe. Reading him also made it clear why that hole exists and why it will continue to exist until Indian society undergoes radical, revolutionary change.

Revolutions can, and often have, begun with reading.

Ambedkar was a prolific writer. Unfortunately his work, unlike the writings of Gandhi, Nehru or Vivekananda, does not shine out at you from the shelves of libraries and bookshops.

Of his many volumes, Annihilation of Caste is his most radical text. It is not an argument directed at Hindu fundamentalists or extremists, but at those who consider themselves moderate, those whom Ambedkar called "the best of Hindus"—and some academics call "left-wing Hindus."1 Ambedkar's point is that to believe in the Hindu shastras and to simultaneously think of oneself as liberal or moderate is a contradiction in terms.

When the text of Annihilation of Caste was published, the man who is often called the "greatest of Hindus"—Mahatma Gandhi—responded to Ambedkar's provocation. Their debate was not a new one. Both men were their generation's emissaries of a profound social, political and philosophical conflict that had begun long ago and has still by no means ended.

Ambedkar, the untouchable, was heir to an anticaste intellectual tradition that goes back to 200–100 BCE. The practice of caste, which is believed to have its genesis in the Purusha Sukta hymn2 in the Rig Veda (1200–900 BCE), faced its first challenge only a thousand years later, when the Buddhists broke with caste by creating sanghas that admitted everybody, regardless of which caste they belonged to. Yet caste endured and evolved. In the mid-twelfth century, the Veerashaivas led by Basava challenged caste in South India, and were crushed. From the fourteenth century onwards, the beloved Bhakti poet-saints—Cokhamela, Ravidas, Kabir, Tukaram, Mira, Janabai—became, and remain, the poets of the anticaste tradition. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries came Jotirao Phule and his Satyashodhak Samaj in western India; Pandita Ramabai, perhaps India's first feminist, a Marathi Brahmin who rejected Hinduism and converted to Christianity (and challenged that, too); Swami Achutanand Harihar, who led the Adi Hindu movement, started the Bharatiya Achhut Mahasabha (Parliament of Indian Untouchables), and edited Achhut, the first Dalit journal; Ayyankali and Sree Narayana Guru, who shook up the old order in Malabar and Travancore; and the iconoclast Iyothee Thass and his Sakya Buddhists, who ridiculed Brahmin supremacy in the Tamil world. Among Ambedkar's contemporaries in the anticaste tradition were E.V. Ramasamy Naicker, known as "Periyar" in the Madras Presidency; Jogendranath Mandal of Bengal; and Babu Mangoo Ram, who founded the Ad Dharm movement in the Punjab that rejected both Sikhism and Hinduism. These were Ambedkar's people.

Gandhi, a Vaishya, born into a Gujarati Bania family, was the latest in a long tradition of privileged-caste Hindu reformers and their organisations: Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who founded the Brahmo Samaj in 1828; Swami Dayananda Saraswati, who founded the Arya Samaj in 1875; Swami Vivekananda, who established the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897; and a host of other, more contemporary reformist organisations.3

Putting the Ambedkar–Gandhi debate into context for those unfamiliar with its history and its protagonists will require detours into their very different political trajectories. For this was by no means just a theoretical debate between two men who held different opinions. Each represented very separate interest groups, and their battle unfolded in the heart of India's national movement. What they said and did continues to have an immense bearing on contemporary politics. Their differences were (and remain) irreconcilable. Both are deeply loved and often deified by their followers. It pleases neither constituency to have the other's story told, though the two are inextricably linked. Ambedkar was Gandhi's most formidable adversary. He challenged him not just politically or intellectually, but also morally. To have excised Ambedkar from Gandhi's story, which is the story we all grew up on, is a travesty. Equally, to ignore Gandhi while writing about Ambedkar is to do Ambedkar a disservice, because Gandhi loomed over Ambedkar's world in myriad and un-wonderful ways.

THE INDIAN NATIONAL MOVEMENT, as we know, had a stellar cast. It has even been the subject of a Hollywood blockbuster that won eight Oscars. In India, we have made a pastime of holding opinion polls and publishing books and magazines in which our constellation of founding fathers (mothers don't make the cut) are arranged and rearranged in various hierarchies and formations. Gandhi does have his bitter critics, but he still tops the charts. For others to even get a look-in, the Father of the Nation has to be segregated, put into a separate category: Who, after Mahatma Gandhi, is the greatest Indian?4

Ambedkar (who, incidentally, did not even have a walk-on part in Richard Attenborough's Gandhi, though the film was co-funded by the Indian government) almost always makes it into the final heat. He is chosen more for the part he played in drafting the Indian constitution than for the politics and the passion that were at the core of his life and thinking. You definitely get the sense that his presence on the lists is the result of positive discrimination, a desire to be politically correct. The caveats continue to be murmured: "opportunist" (because he served as Labour Member of the British Viceroy's Executive Council, between 1942 and 1946), "British stooge" (because he accepted an invitation from the British government to the First Round Table Conference, in 1930, when Congressmen were being imprisoned for breaking the salt laws), "separatist" (because he wanted separate electorates for untouchables), and "anti-national" (because he endorsed the Muslim League's case for Pakistan, and because he suggested that Jammu and Kashmir be trifurcated).5

Notwithstanding the name-calling, the fact is that neither Ambedkar nor Gandhi allows us to pin easy labels on them that say "pro-imperialist" or "anti-imperialist." Their conflict complicates and perhaps enriches our understanding of imperialism as well as the struggle against it.

History has been kind to Gandhi. He was deified by millions of people in his own lifetime. His godliness has become a universal and, it seems, eternal phenomenon. It's not just that the metaphor has outstripped the man. It has entirely reinvented him (which is why a critique of Gandhi need not automatically be taken to be a critique of all Gandhians). Gandhi has become all things to all people: Obama loves him and so does the Occupy movement. Anarchists love him and so does the establishment. Narendra Modi loves him and so does Rahul Gandhi. The poor love him and so do the rich.

He is the Saint of the Status Quo.

Gandhi's life and his writing—48,000 pages bound into 98 volumes of collected works—have been disaggregated and carried off, event by event, sentence by sentence, until no coherent narrative remains, if indeed there ever was one. The trouble is that Gandhi actually said everything and its opposite. To cherry pickers, he offers such a bewildering variety of cherries that you have to wonder if there was something the matter with the tree.

For example, there's his well-known description of an Arcadian paradise in "The Pyramid vs. the Oceanic Circle," written in 1946:

Independence must begin at the bottom. Thus every village will be a republic or panchayat having full powers. It follows, therefore, that every village has to be self-sustained and capable of managing its affairs even to the extent of defending itself against the whole world… In this structure composed of innumerable villages there will be ever-widening, never-ascending circles. Life will not be a pyramid with the apex sustained by the bottom. But it will be an oceanic circle whose centre will be the individual always ready to perish for the village… Therefore the outermost circumference will not wield power to crush the inner circle but will give strength to all within and derive its own strength from it.6

Then there is his endorsement of the caste system in 1921 in Navajivan. It is translated from Gujarati by Ambedkar (who suggested more than once that Gandhi "deceived" people, and that his writings in English and Gujarati could be productively compared):7

Caste is another name for control. Caste puts a limit on enjoyment. Caste does not allow a person to transgress caste limits in pursuit of his enjoyment. That is the meaning of such caste restrictions as inter-dining and inter-marriage… These being my views I am opposed to all those who are out to destroy the Caste System.8

Is this not the very antithesis of "ever-widening and never ascending circles"?

It's true that these statements were made 25 years apart. Does that mean that Gandhi reformed, that he changed his views on caste? He did, at a glacial pace. From believing in the caste system in all its minutiae, he moved to saying that the four thousand separate castes should "fuse" themselves into the four varnas (what Ambedkar called the "parent" of the caste system). Towards the end of Gandhi's life (when his views were just views and did not run the risk of translating into political action), he said that he no longer objected to inter-dining and intermarriage between castes. Sometimes he said that though he believed in the varna system, a person's varna ought to be decided by their worth and not their birth (which was also the Arya Samaj position). Ambedkar pointed out the absurdity of this idea: "How are you going to compel people who have achieved a higher status based on their birth, without reference to their worth, to vacate that status? How are you going to compel people to recognise the status due to a man in accordance to his worth who is occupying a lower status based on his birth?"9He went on to ask what would happen to women—whether their status would be decided upon their own worth or their husbands' worth.

Notwithstanding stories and anecdotes from Gandhi's followers about Gandhi's love for untouchables and the inter-caste weddings he attended, in the 98 volumes of his writing, Gandhi never decisively and categorically renounced his belief in chaturvarna, the system of four varnas. Though he was given to apologising and agonising publicly and privately over things like occasional lapses in his control over his sexual desire,10 he never agonised over the extremely damaging things he had said and done on caste.

Still, why not eschew the negative and concentrate instead on what was good about Gandhi, use it to bring out the best in people? It is a valid question, and one that those who have built shrines to Gandhi have probably answered for themselves. After all, it is possible to admire the work of great composers, writers, architects, sportspersons and musicians whose views are inimical to our own. The difference is that Gandhi was not a composer or writer or musician or sportsman. He offered himself to us as a visionary, a mystic, a moralist, a great humanitarian, the man who brought down a mighty empire armed only with Truth and Righteousness. How do we reconcile the idea of the non-violent Gandhi, the Gandhi who spoke truth to power, Gandhi the nemesis of injustice, the gentle Gandhi, the androgynous Gandhi, Gandhi the mother, the Gandhi who (allegedly) feminised politics and created space for women to enter the political arena, the eco-Gandhi, the Gandhi of the ready wit and some great one-liners—how do we reconcile all this with Gandhi's views (and deeds) on caste? What do we do with this structure of moral righteousness that rests so comfortably on a foundation of utterly brutal, institutionalised injustice? Is it enough to say Gandhi was complicated, and let it go at that? There is no doubt that Gandhi was an extraordinary and fascinating man, but during India's struggle for freedom, did he really speak truth to power? Did he really ally himself with the poorest of the poor, the most vulnerable of his people?

"It is foolish to take solace in the fact that because the Congress is fighting for the freedom of India, it is, therefore, fighting for the freedom of the people of India and of the lowest of the low," Ambedkar said. "The question whether the Congress is fighting for freedom has very little importance as compared to the question for whose freedom is the Congress fighting."11

In 1931, when Ambedkar met Gandhi for the first time, Gandhi questioned him about his sharp criticism of the Congress (which, it was assumed, was tantamount to criticising the struggle for the homeland). "Gandhiji, I have no Homeland," was Ambedkar's famous reply. "No Untouchable worth the name will be proud of this land."12

History has been unkind to Ambedkar. First it contained him, and then it glorified him. It has made him India's Leader of the Untouchables, the king of the ghetto. It has hidden away his writings. It has stripped away the radical intellect and the searing insolence.

All the same, Ambedkar's followers have kept his legacy alive in creative ways. One of those ways is to turn him into a million mass-produced statues. The Ambedkar statue is a radical and animate object.13It has been sent forth into the world to claim the space—both physical and virtual, public and private—that is the Dalit's due. Dalits have used Ambedkar's statue to assert their civil rights—to claim land that is owed them, water that is theirs, commons they are denied access to. The Ambedkar statue that is planted on the commons and rallied around always holds a book in its hand. Significantly, that book is not Annihilation of Caste with its liberating, revolutionary rage. It is a copy of the Indian Constitution that Ambedkar played a vital role in conceptualising—the document that now, for better or for worse, governs the life of every single Indian citizen.

Using the Constitution as a subversive object is one thing. Being limited by it is quite another. Ambedkar's circumstances forced him to be a revolutionary and to simultaneously put his foot in the door of the establishment whenever he got a chance to. His genius lay in his ability to use both these aspects of himself nimbly, and to great effect. Viewed through the prism of the present, however, it has meant that he left behind a dual and sometimes confusing legacy: Ambedkar the radical, and Ambedkar the father of the Indian Constitution. Constitutionalism can come in the way of revolution. And the Dalit revolution has not happened yet. We still await it. Before that there cannot be any other, not in India.

This is not to suggest that writing a constitution cannot be a radical act. It can be, it could have been, and Ambedkar tried his best to make it one. However, by his own admission, he did not entirely succeed.

As India hurtled towards independence, both Ambedkar and Gandhi were seriously concerned about the fate of minorities, particularly Muslims and untouchables, but they responded to the approaching birth of the new nation in very different ways. Gandhi distanced himself more and more from the business of nation building. For him, the Congress party's work was done. He wanted the party dissolved. He believed (quite rightly) that the state represented violence in a concentrated and organised form, that because it was not a human entity, because it was soulless, it owed its very existence to violence.14 In Gandhi's understanding, swaraj, or self-rule, lived in the moral heart of his people, though he made it clear that by "his people" he did not mean the majority community alone:

It has been said that Indian swaraj will be the rule of the majority community, i.e., the Hindus. There could not be a greater mistake than that. If it were to be true, I for one would refuse to call it swaraj and would fight it with all the strength at my command, for to me Hind Swaraj is the rule of all the people, is the rule of justice.15

For Ambedkar, "the people" was not a homogeneous category that glowed with the rosy hue of innate righteousness. He knew that, regardless of what Gandhi said, it would inevitably be the majority community that decided what form swaraj would take. The prospect of India's untouchables being ruled by nothing other than the moral heart of India's predominantly Hindu people filled him with foreboding. Ambedkar became anxious, even desperate, to manoeuvre himself into becoming a member of the Constituent Assembly, a position that would enable him to influence the shape and the spirit of the constitution for the emerging nation in real and practical ways. For this he was even prepared to set aside his pride, and his misgivings about his old foe, the Congress party.

Ambedkar's main concern was to privilege and legalise "constitutional morality" over the traditional, social morality of the caste system. Speaking in the Constituent Assembly on 4 November 1948, he said, "Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top-dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic."16

Ambedkar was seriously disappointed with the final draft of the constitution. Still, he did succeed in putting in place certain rights and safeguards that would, as far as the subordinated castes were concerned, make it a document that was more enlightened than the society it was drafted for. (For others, however, like India's adivasis, the constitution turned out to be just an extension of colonial practice.) Ambedkar thought of the constitution as a work in progress. Like Thomas Jefferson, he believed that unless every generation had the right to create a new constitution for itself, the earth would belong to "the dead and not the living."17 (The trouble is that the living are not necessarily more progressive or enlightened than the dead. There are a number of forces today, political as well as commercial, that are lobbying to rewrite the constitution in utterly regressive ways.)

Though Ambedkar was a lawyer, he had no illusions about law-making. As law minister in post-independence India, he worked for months on a draft of the Hindu Code Bill. He believed that the caste system advanced itself by controlling women, and one of his major concerns was to make Hindu personal law more equitable for women.18 The bill he proposed sanctioned divorce and expanded the property rights of widows and daughters. The Constituent Assembly dragged its feet over it for four years (from 1947 to 1951) and then blocked it.19 The president, Rajendra Prasad, threatened to stall the bill's passage into law. Hindu sadhus laid siege to Parliament. Industrialists and zamindars warned they would withdraw their support in the coming elections.20 Eventually Ambedkar resigned as law minister. In his resignation speech he said: "To leave inequality between class and class, between sex and sex, which is the soul of Hindu society, and to go on passing legislation relating to economic problems is to make a farce of our Constitution and to build a palace on a dung heap."21

More than anything else, what Ambedkar brought to a complicated, multifaceted political struggle, with more than its fair share of sectarianism, obscurantism and skulduggery, was intelligence.

[II]

ANNIHILATION OF CASTE is the text of a speech Ambedkar was supposed to deliver in Lahore, in 1936, to an audience of privileged-caste Hindus. The organisation that had been bold enough to invite him to deliver its presidential address was the Jat-Pat Todak Mandal (the Forum for the Break-up of Caste) of Lahore, an offshoot of the Arya Samaj. Most of its members were privileged-caste Hindu reformers. They asked to be provided the text of the speech in advance, so that they could print and distribute it. When they read it and realised that Ambedkar was going to launch an intellectual assault on the Vedas and shastras, on Hinduism itself, they wrote to him:

Those of us who would like to see the conference terminate without any untoward incident would prefer that at least the word 'Veda' be left out for the time being. I leave this to your good sense. I hope, however, in your concluding paragraphs you will make it clear that the views expressed in the address are your own and that the responsibility does not lie on the Mandal.22

Ambedkar refused to alter his speech, and so the event was cancelled. His text ought not to have come as such a surprise to the Mandal. Just a few months previously, on 13 October 1935, at the Depressed Classes Conference in Yeola in the Bombay Presidency (now in the state of Maharashtra), Ambedkar had told an audience of more than ten thousand people:

Because we have the misfortune of calling ourselves Hindus, we are treated thus. If we were members of another faith none would treat us so. Choose any religion which gives you equality of status and treatment. We shall repair our mistake now. I had the misfortune of being born with the stigma of an Untouchable. However, it is not my fault; but I will not die a Hindu, for this is in my power.23

At that particular moment in time, the threat of religious conversion by an untouchable leader of Ambedkar's standing came as the worst possible news to Hindu reformers.

Conversion was by no means new. Seeking to escape the stigma of caste, untouchable and other degraded labouring castes had begun to convert to other religions centuries ago. Millions had converted to Islam during the years of Muslim rule. Later, millions more had taken to Sikhism and Christianity. (Sadly, caste prejudice in the subcontinent trumps religious belief. Though their scriptures do not sanction it, elite Indian Muslims, Sikhs and Christians all practise caste discrimination.24 Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal all have their own communities of untouchable sweepers. So does Kashmir.)

The mass conversion of oppressed-caste Hindus, particularly to Islam, continues to sit uncomfortably with Hindu supremacist history writing, which dwells on a golden age of Hinduism that was brought to naught by the cruelty and vandalism of Muslim rule.25 Vandalism and cruelty there certainly was. Yet it meant different things to different people. Here is Jotirao Phule (1827–1890), the earliest of the modern anticaste intellectuals, on the subject of Muslim rule and of the so-called golden age of the Arya Bhats (Brahmins):

The Muslims, destroying the carved stone images of the cunning Arya Bhats, forcibly enslaved them and brought the Shudras and Ati-Shudras in great numbers out of their clutches and made them Muslims, including them in the Muslim Religion. Not only this, but they established inter-dining and intermarriage with them and gave them all equal rights. They made them all as happy as themselves and forced the Arya Bhats to see all this.26

By the turn of the century, however, religious conversion came to have completely different implications in India. A new set of unfamiliar considerations entered the mix. Opposing an unpopular regime was no longer just a question of a conquering army riding into the capital, overthrowing the monarch and taking the throne. The old idea of empire was metamorphosing into the new idea of the nation state. Modern governance now involved addressing the volatile question of the right to representation: who had the right to represent the Indian people? The Hindus, the Muslims, the Sikhs, the Christians, the privileged castes, the oppressed castes, the farmers, the workers? How would the "self" in self-rule—the "swa" in swaraj—be constituted? Who would decide? Suddenly, a people who belonged to an impossibly diverse range of races, castes, tribes and religions—who, between them, spoke more than one thousand languages—had to be transformed into modern citizens of a modern nation. The process of synthetic homogenisation began to have the opposite effect. Even as the modern Indian nation constituted itself, it began to fracture.

Under the new dispensation, demography became vitally important. The empirical taxonomy of the British census had solidified and freeze-dried the rigid but not entirely inflexible hierarchy of caste, adding its own prejudices and value judgements to the mix, classifying entire communities as "criminals" and "warriors" and so on. The untouchable castes were entered under the accounting head "Hindu." (In 1930, according to Ambedkar, the untouchables numbered about 44.5 million.27 The population of African Americans in the United States around the same time was 8.8 million.) The large-scale exodus of untouchables from the Hindu fold would have been catastrophic for the "Hindu" majority. In pre-partition, undivided Punjab, for example, between 1881 and 1941, the Hindu population dropped from 43.8 percent to 29.1 percent, due largely to the conversion of the subordinated castes to Islam, Sikhism and Christianity.28

Hindu reformers hurried to stem this migration. The Arya Samaj, founded in 1875 by Dayananda Saraswati (born Mool Shankar, a Gujarati Brahmin from Kathiawar), was one of the earliest. It preached against the practice of untouchability and banned idol worship. Dayananda Saraswati initiated the Shuddhi programme in 1877, to "purify the impure," and, in the early nineteenth century, his disciples took this up on a mass scale in North India.

In 1899, Swami Vivekananda of the Ramakrishna Math—the man who became famous in 1893 when he addressed the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in his sadhu's robes—said, "Every man going out of the Hindu pale is not only a man less, but an enemy the more."29 A raft of new reformist outfits appeared in Punjab, committed to saving Hinduism by winning the hearts and minds of untouchables: the Shradhananda Dalituddhar Sabha, the All-India Achhutodhar Committee, the Punjab Achhut Udhar Mandal and the Jat-Pat Todak Mandal which was part of the Arya Samaj.30

The reformers' use of the words "Hindu" and "Hinduism" was new. Until then, they had been used by the British as well as the Mughals, but it was not the way people who were described as Hindus chose to describe themselves. Until the panic over demography began, they had always foregrounded their jati, their caste identity. "The first and foremost thing that must be recognised is that Hindu society is a myth. The name Hindu itself is a foreign name," said Ambedkar.

It was given by the Mohammedans to the natives [who lived east of the river Indus] for the purpose of distinguishing themselves. It does not occur in any Sanskrit work prior to the Mohammedan invasion. They did not feel the necessity of a common name, because they had no sense of their having constituted a community. Hindu society does not exist. It is just a collection of castes.31

When reformers began to use the word "Hindu" to describe themselves and their organisations, it had less to do with religion than with trying to forge a unified political constitution out of a divided people. This explains the reformers' constant references to the "Hindu nation" or the "Hindu race."32 This political Hinduism later came to be called Hindutva.33

The issue of demography was addressed openly, and head-on. "In this country, the government is based on numbers," wrote the editor of Pratap, a Kanpur newspaper, on 10 January 1921.

Shuddhi has become a matter of life and death for Hindus. The Muslims have grown from negative quantity into 70 million. The Christians number four million. 220 million Hindus are finding it hard to live because of 70 million Muslims. If their numbers increase only God knows what will happen. It is true that Shuddhi should be for religious purposes alone, but the Hindus have been obliged by other considerations as well to embrace their other brothers. If the Hindus do not wake up now, they will be finished.34

Conservative Hindu organisations like the Hindu Mahasabha took the task beyond rhetoric, and against their own deeply held beliefs and practice began to proselytise energetically against untouchability. Untouchables had to be prevented from defecting. They had to be assimilated, their proteins broken down. They had to be brought into the big house, but kept in the servants' quarters. Here is Ambedkar on the subject:

It is true that Hinduism can absorb many things. The beef-eating Hinduism (or strictly speaking Brahminism which is the proper name of Hinduism in its earlier stage) absorbed the non-violence theory of Buddhism and became a religion of vegetarianism. But there is one thing which Hinduism has never been able to do—namely to adjust itself to absorb the Untouchables or to remove the bar of untouchability.35

While the Hindu reformers went about their business, anticaste movements led by untouchables began to organise themselves too. Swami Acchhutanand Harihar presented the Prince of Wales with a charter of 17 demands including land reform, separate schools for untouchable children and separate electorates. Another well-known figure was Babu Mangoo Ram. He was a member of the revolutionary, anti-imperialist Ghadar Party established in 1913, predominantly by Punjabi migrants in the United States and Canada. Ghadar ("Revolt") was an international movement of Punjabi Indians who had been inspired by the 1857 Mutiny, also called the First War of Independence. Its aim was to overthrow the British by means of armed struggle. (It was, in some ways, India's first communist party. Unlike the Congress, which had an urban, privileged-caste leadership, the Ghadar Party was closely linked to the Punjab peasantry. Though it has ceased to exist, its memory continues to be a rallying point for several left-wing revolutionary parties in Punjab.) However, when Babu Mangoo Ram returned to India after a decade in the United States, the caste system was waiting for him. He found he was untouchable again.36 In 1926, he founded the Ad Dharm movement, with Ravidas, the Bhakti sant, as its spiritual hero. Ad Dharmis declared that they were neither Sikh nor Hindu. Many Untouchables left the Arya Samaj to join the Ad Dharm movement.37 Babu Mangoo Ram went on to become a comrade of Ambedkar's.

The anxiety over demography made for turbulent politics. There were other lethal games afoot. The British government had given itself the right to rule India by imperial fiat and had consolidated its power by working closely with the Indian elite, taking care never to upset the status quo.38 It had drained the wealth of a once-wealthy subcontinent—or, shall we say, drained the wealth of the elite in a once-wealthy subcontinent. It had caused famines in which millions had died while the British government exported food to England.39 None of that stopped it from also lighting sly fires that ignited caste and communal tension. In 1905, it partitioned Bengal along communal lines. In 1909, it passed the Morley-Minto reforms, granting Muslims a separate electorate in the central and provincial legislative councils. It began to question the moral and political legitimacy of anybody who opposed it. How could a people who practised something as primitive as untouchability talk of self-rule? How could the Congress party, run by elite, privileged-caste Hindus, claim to represent the Muslims? Or the untouchables? Coming from the British government, it was surely wicked, but even wicked questions need answers.

The person who stepped into the widening breach was perhaps the most consummate politician the modern world has ever known—Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. If the British had their imperial mandate to raise them above the fray, Gandhi had his mahatmahood.

[III]

FOR MORE THAN THIRTY-FIVE YEARS BEFORE THAT, Gandhi's mahatmahood had billowed like a sail in the winds of the national movement. He captured the world's imagination. He roused hundreds of thousands of people into direct political action. He was the cynosure of all eyes, the voice of the nation. In 1931, at the Second Round Table Conference in London, Gandhi claimed—with complete equanimity—that he represented all of India. At the conference, in his first public confrontation with Ambedkar (over Ambedkar's proposal for a separate electorate for untouchables), Gandhi felt able to say, "I claim myself in my own person to represent the vast mass of Untouchables."40

How could a privileged-caste Bania claim that he, in his own person, represented 45 million Indian untouchables unless he believed he actually was a mahatma? Mahatmahood provided Gandhi with an amplitude that was not available to ordinary mortals. It allowed him to use his "inner voice" affectively, effectively, and often. It allowed him the bandwidth to make daily broadcasts on the state of his hygiene, his diet, his bowel movements, his enemas and his sex life, and to draw the public into a net of prurient intimacy that he could then use and manipulate when he embarked on his fasts and other public acts of self-punishment. It permitted him to contradict himself constantly and then say: "My aim is not to be consistent with my previous statements on a given question, but to be consistent with the truth as it may present itself to me in a given moment. The result has been that I have grown from truth to truth."41

Ordinary politicians oscillate from political expediency to political expediency. A mahatma can grow from truth to truth.

How did Gandhi come to be called a mahatma? Did he begin with the compassion and egalitarian instincts of a saint? Did they come to him along the way?

In his recent biography of Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha argues that it was the two decades he spent working in South Africa that made Gandhi a mahatma.42 His canonisation—the first time he was publicly called Mahatma—was in 1915, soon after he returned from South Africa to begin work in India, at a meeting in Gondal, close to his hometown, Porbandar, in Gujarat.43 At the time, few in India knew more than some very sketchy, rather inaccurate accounts of the struggles he had been engaged in. These need to be examined in some detail because whether or not they made him a mahatma, they certainly shaped and defined his views on caste, race and imperialism. His views on race presaged his views on caste. What happened in South Africa continues to have serious implications for the Indian community there. Fortunately, we have the Mahatma's own words (and inconsistencies) to give us the detail and texture of those years.44 To generations who have been raised on a diet of Gandhi hagiographies (including myself), to learn of what happened in South Africa is not just disturbing, it is almost stupefying.

GANDHI, 24 YEARS OLD AND TRAINED as a lawyer at London's Inner Temple, arrived in South Africa in May 1893. He had a job as legal adviser to a wealthy Gujarati Muslim merchant. Imperial Britain was tightening its grip on the African continent. Gandhi was unkindly jolted into political awakening a few months after he arrived. Half the story is legendary: Gandhi was thrown out of a "Whites only" first-class coach of a train in Pietermaritzburg. The other half of the story is less known: Gandhi was not offended by racial segregation. He was offended that "passenger Indians"—Indian merchants who were predominantly Muslim but also privileged-caste Hindus—who had come to South Africa to do business, were being treated on a par with native black Africans. Gandhi's argument was that passenger Indians came to Natal as British subjects and were entitled to equal treatment on the basis of Queen Victoria's 1858 proclamation, which asserted the equality of all imperial subjects.

In 1894, he became secretary of the Natal Indian Congress (NIC), which was founded and funded by rich Indian merchants and traders. The membership fee, of three pounds, was a princely sum that meant the NIC would remain an elite club.45  (For a sense of proportion: 12 years later, the Zulus would rise in rebellion against the British for imposing an unaffordable one-pound poll tax on them.)

One of the earliest political victories for the NIC came in 1895 with a "solution" to what was known as the Durban Post Office problem. The post office had only two entrances: one for blacks and one for whites. Gandhi petitioned the authorities and had a third entrance opened so that Indians did not need to use the same entrance as the "Kaffirs."46 In an open letter to the Natal Legislative Assembly dated 19 December 1894, he says that both the English and the Indians "spring from common stock, called the Indo-Aryan," and cites Max Müller, Arthur Schopenhauer and William Jones to buttress his argument. He complains that the "Indian is being dragged down to the position of a raw Kaffir."47

As spokesman for the Indian community, Gandhi was always careful to distinguish—and distance—passenger Indians from indentured workers:

Whether they are Hindus or Mahommedans, they are absolutely without any moral or religious instruction worthy of the name. They have not learned enough to educate themselves without any outside help. Placed thus, they are apt to yield to the slightest temptation to tell a lie. After some time, lying with them becomes a habit and a disease. They would lie without any reason, without any prospect of bettering themselves materially, indeed, without knowing what they are doing. They reach a stage in life when their moral faculties have completely collapsed owing to neglect.48

The Indian indentured labourers whose "moral faculties" were in such a state of collapse were largely from the subordinated castes and lived and worked in conditions of virtual slavery, incarcerated on sugar cane farms. They were flogged, starved, imprisoned, often sexually abused, and died in great numbers.49

Gandhi soon became the most prominent spokesperson for the cause of the passenger Indians. In 1896, he travelled to India where he addressed packed—and increasingly indignant—meetings about the racism that Indians were being subjected to in South Africa. At the time, the White regime was getting increasingly anxious about the rapidly expanding Indian population. For them Gandhi was the leader of the "coolies"—their name for all Indians.50 In a perverse sense, their racism was inclusive; it didn't notice the distinctions that Gandhi went to such great lengths to make.

When Gandhi returned to Durban, the news of his campaign had preceded him. His ship was met by thousands of hostile white demonstrators, who refused to let it dock. It took several days of negotiations before Gandhi was allowed to disembark. On his way home, on 12 January 1897, he was attacked and beaten. He bore the attack with fortitude and dignity.51 Two days later, in an interview toThe Natal Advertiser, Gandhi once again distanced himself from the "coolies":

I have said most emphatically, in the pamphlets and elsewhere, that the treatment of the indentured Indians is no worse or better in Natal than they receive in any other parts of the world. I have never endeavoured to show that the indentured Indians have been receiving cruel treatment.52

IN 1899, the British went to war with Dutch settlers over the spoils of South Africa. Diamonds had been discovered in Kimberley in 1870, and gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886. The Anglo-Boer War, as it was called then, is known more properly today as the South African War or the White Man's War. Thousands of black Africans and indentured Indian labourers were dragooned into the armies on either side. The Indians were not given arms, so they worked as menials and stretcher-bearers. Gandhi and a band of passenger Indians, who felt it was their responsibility as imperial subjects, volunteered their services to the British. Gandhi was enlisted in the Ambulance Corps.

It was a brutal war in which British troops fought Boer guerrillas. The British burnt down thousands of Boer farms, slaughtering people and cattle as they swept through the land. Tens of thousands of   Boer civilians, mostly women and children, were moved into concentration camps, in which almost thirty thousand people died. Many simply starved to death.53 These concentration camps were the first of their kind, the progenitors of Hitler's extermination camps for Jews. Several years later, after he returned to India, when Gandhi wrote about the South African war in his memoirs, he suggested that the prisoners in the camps were practicing a cheerful form of satyagraha (which was the course of action he prescribed to the Jews of Germany too):54

Boer women understood that their religion required them to suffer in order to preserve their independence, and therefore, patiently and cheerfully endured all hardships… They starved, they suffered biting cold and scorching heat. Sometimes a soldier intoxicated by liquor or maddened by passion might even assault these unprotected women. Still the brave women did not flinch.55

After the war, the British announced that their troops would be given a slab each of "Queen's Chocolate" as a reward for their bravery. Gandhi wrote a letter to the Colonial Secretary to ask for the largesse to be extended to the Ambulance Corps leaders, who had volunteered without pay: "It will be greatly appreciated by them and prized as a treasure if the terms under which the gift has been graciously made by Her Majesty would allow of its distribution among the Indian leaders."56 The Colonial Secretary replied curtly to say that the chocolate was only for non-commissioned officers.

In 1901, with the Boer War now behind him, Gandhi spoke of how the objectives of the Natal Indian Congress were to achieve a better understanding between the English and the Indians. He said he was looking forward to an "Imperial Brotherhood," towards which "everyone who was the friend of the Empire should aim."57

This was not to be. The Boers managed to out-manoeuvre and out-brotherhood Gandhi. In 1902, they signed the Treaty of Vereeniging with the British. According to the treaty, the Boer republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State became colonies of the British Empire under the sovereignty of the British Crown. In return, the British government agreed to give the colonies self-rule. The Boers became the British government's brutal lieutenants. Jan Smuts, once a dreaded Boer "terrorist," switched sides and eventually led the British Army of South Africa in the First World War. The white folks made peace. They divided the diamonds, the gold and the land between themselves. Blacks, Indians and "coloureds" were left out of the equation.

Gandhi was not deterred. A few years after the South African War, he once again volunteered for active service.

In 1906, the Zulu chief Bambatha kaMancinza led his people in an uprising against the British government's newly imposed one-pound poll tax. The Zulus and the British were old enemies and had fought each other before. In 1879, the Zulus had routed the British Army when it attacked the Zulu kingdom, a victory that put the Zulu on the world map. Over the years, because they could not match the firepower of British troops, they were conquered and driven off their land. Still, they refused to work on the white man's farms; which is why indentured labour was shipped in from India. Time and again, the Zulus had risen up. During the Bambatha Rebellion, the rebels, armed only with spears and cowhide shields, fought British troops equipped with modern artillery.

As the news of the rebellion came in, Gandhi published a series of letters in Indian Opinion, a newspaper, published in four languages, he had started in 1903. (One of its chief benefactors was Sir Ratanji Jamsetji Tata of the Tata industrial empire.) In a letter dated 18 November 1905, Gandhi said:

At the time of the Boer War, it will be remembered, the Indians volunteered to do any work that might be entrusted to them, and it was with great difficulty that they could get their services accepted even for ambulance work. General Butler has certified as to what kind of work the Natal Indian Volunteer Ambulance Corps did. If the Government only realised what reserve force is being wasted, they would make use of it and would give Indians a thorough training for actual warfare.58

On 14 April 1906, Gandhi wrote again in Indian Opinion (translated from Gujarati):

What is our duty during these calamitous times in the Colony? It is not for us to say whether the revolt of the Kaffirs [Zulus] is justified or not. We are in Natal by virtue of British Power. Our very existence depends on it. It is therefore our duty to render whatever help we can. There was a discussion in the Press as to what part the Indian community would play in the event of an actual war. We have already declared in the English columns of this journal that the Indian community is prepared to play its part; and we believe what we did during the Boer War should also be done now.59

The rebellion was eventually contained. Chief Bambatha was captured and beheaded. Four thousand Zulus were killed, thousands more flogged and imprisoned. Even Winston Churchill, master of war, at the time under secretary of state, was disturbed by the violence. He said: "It is my duty to warn the Secretary of State that this further disgusting butchery will excite in all probability great disapproval in the House of Commons… The score between black and white stands at present at about 3500 to 8."60

Gandhi, on his part, never regretted the role he played in the White Man's War and in the Bambatha uprising. He just reimagined it. Years later, in 1928, in Satyagraha in South Africa,61 the memoirs he wrote in Yerawada Central Jail, both stories had, shall we say, evolved. By then the chessmen on the board had moved around. Gandhi had turned against the British. In his new account, the truth about the stretcher-bearer corps in the Bambatha Rebellion had grown into another "truth":

The Zulu "rebellion" broke out just while attempts were being made to impose further disabilities upon Indians in the Transvaal … therefore I made an offer to the Government to raise a Stretcher-bearer Corps for service with the troops… The corps was on active service for a month… We had to cleanse the wounds of several Zulus which had not been attended to for as many as five or six days and were therefore stinking horribly. We liked the work. The Zulus could not talk to us, but from their gestures and the expression in their eyes they seemed to feel as if God had sent them our succour.62

The retrospectively constructed image of the flogged, defeated Zulu—a dumb animal conveying his gratitude to God's missionaries of peace—is completely at odds, as we shall see, with his views about Zulus that were published in the pages of his newspapers during those years. In Gandhi's re-imagining of the story of the Bambatha Rebellion, the broken Zulu becomes the inspiration for another of his causes: celibacy.

While I was working with the Corps, two ideas which had long been floating in my mind became firmly fixed. First, an aspirant after a life exclusively devoted to service must lead a life of celibacy. Second, he must accept poverty as a constant companion through life. He may not take up any occupation which would prevent him or make him shrink from undertaking the lowliest of duties or largest risks.63

Gandhi's experiments with poverty and celibacy began in the Phoenix Settlement, a commune he had set up in 1904. It was built on a hundred-acre plot of land in the heart of Natal amidst the sugar fields that were worked by Indian indentured labour. The members of the commune included a few Europeans and (non-indentured) Indians, but no black Africans.

IN SEPTEMBER 1906, only months after the Bambatha Rebellion, despite his offers of friendship and his demonstrations of loyalty, Gandhi was let down once again. The British government passed the Transvaal Asiatic Law Amendment Act. Its purpose was to control Indian merchants (who were regarded as competition to white traders) from entering the Transvaal.64 Every Asian had to register and produce on demand a thumb-printed certificate of identity. Unregistered people were liable to be deported. There was no right of appeal. Suddenly, a community whose leader had been dreaming of an "Imperial Brotherhood" had been once again reduced "to a status lower than that of the aboriginal races of South Africa and the Coloured People."65

Gandhi led the struggle of the passenger Indians bravely, and from the front. Two thousand people burned their passes in a public bonfire; Gandhi was assaulted mercilessly, arrested and imprisoned. And then his nightmares became a reality. The man who could not bear to even share the entrance to a post office with "Kaffirs" now had to share a prison cell with them:

We were all prepared for hardships, but not quite for this experience. We could understand not being classed with the Whites, but to be placed on the same level with the Natives seemed to be too much to put up with. I then felt that Indians had not launched our passive resistance too soon. Here was further proof that the obnoxious law was meant to emasculate the Indians… Apart from whether or not this implies degradation, I must say it is rather dangerous. Kaffirs as a rule are uncivilised—the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals.66

A year later, the sixteenth of the 20 years he spent in South Africa, he wrote "My Second Experience in Gaol" in the Indian Opinion (16 January 1909):

I was given a bed in a cell where there were mostly Kaffir prisoners who had been lying ill. I spent the night in this cell in great misery and fear… I read the Bhagvad Gita which I had carried with me. I read the verses which had a bearing on my situation and meditating on them, managed to compose myself. The reason why I felt so uneasy was that the Kaffir and Chinese prisoners appeared to be wild, murderous and given to immoral ways… He [the Chinese] appeared to be worse. He came near the bed and looked closely at me. I kept still. Then he went to a Kaffir lying in bed. The two exchanged obscene jokes, uncovering each other's genitals… I have resolved in my mind on an agitation to ensure that Indian prisoners are not lodged with Kaffirs or others. We cannot ignore the fact that there is no common ground between them and us. Moreover those who wish to sleep in the same room as them have ulterior motives for doing so.67

From inside jail Gandhi began to petition the White authorities for separate wards in prisons. He led battles demanding segregation on many counts: he wanted separate blankets because he worried that "a blanket that has been used by the dirtiest of Kaffirs may later fall to an Indian's lot."68 He wanted prison meals specially suited to Indians—rice served with ghee69—and refused to eat the "mealie pap" that the "Kaffirs" seemed to relish. He also agitated for separate lavatories for Indian prisoners.70

Twenty years later, in 1928, the truth about all this had transmogrified into another story altogether. Responding to a proposal for segregated education for Indians and Africans in South Africa, Gandhi wrote:

Indians have too much in common with the Africans to think of isolating themselves from them. They cannot exist in South Africa for any length of time without the active sympathy and friendship of the Africans. I am not aware of the general body of the Indians having ever adopted an air of superiority towards their African brethren, and it would be a tragedy if any such movement were to gain ground among the Indian settlers of South Africa.71

Then, in 1939, disagreeing with Jawaharlal Nehru, who believed that black Africans and Indians should stand together against the white regime in South Africa, Gandhi contradicted himself once more: "However much one may sympathise with the Bantus, Indians cannot make common cause with them."72

Gandhi was an educated, well-travelled man. He would have been aware of the winds that were blowing in other parts of the world. His disgraceful words about Africans were written around the same time W.E.B. Du Bois wrote The Souls of Black Folk: "One ever feels this two-ness—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two un-reconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder."73

Gandhi's attempts to collaborate with a colonial regime were taking place at the same time that the anarchist Emma Goldman was saying:

The centralisation of power has brought into being an international feeling of solidarity among the oppressed nations of the world; a solidarity which represents a greater harmony of interests between the working man of America and his brothers abroad than between the American miner and his exploiting compatriot; a solidarity which fears not foreign invasion, because it is bringing all the workers to the point when they will say to their masters, "Go and do your own killing. We have done it long enough for you."74

Pandita Ramabai (1858–1922), Gandhi's contemporary from India, did not have his unfortunate instincts. Though she was born a Brahmin, she renounced Hinduism for its patriarchy and its practice of caste, became a Christian, and quarrelled with the Anglican church, too, earning a place of pride in India's anticaste tradition. She travelled to the US in 1886 where she met Harriet Tubman, who had once been a slave, whom she admired more than anybody she had ever met. Contrast Gandhi's attitude towards the African people to Pandita Ramabai's description of her meeting with Harriet Tubman:

Harriet still works. She has a little house of her own, where she and her husband live and work together for their own people… Harriet is very large and strong. She hugged me like a bear and shook me by the hand till my poor little hand ached!75

In 1873, Jotirao Phule dedicated his Gulamgiri (Slavery) to

The good people of the United States as a token of admiration for their sublime disinterested and self sacrificing devotion in the cause of Negro Slavery; and with an earnest desire, that my countrymen may take their noble example as their guide in the emancipation of their Shudra Brothers from the trammels of Brahmin thraldom.76

Phule—who among other things, campaigned for widow remarriage, girls' education, and started a school for untouchables—described how "the owners of slaves treated the slaves as beasts of burden, raining kicks and blows on them all the time and starving them," and how they would "harness the slaves as bullocks and make them plough the fields in the blazing sun." Phule believed that the Shudra and Ati-Shudra would understand slavery better than anyone else because "they have a direct experience of slavery as compared to the others who have never experienced it so; the Shudras were conquered and enslaved by the Brahmins."77

[IV]

BY 1917, Hindu reformers in India were wooing untouchables with an edge of desperation. The Congress had passed its resolution against untouchability. Both Gandhi, who had returned two years earlier, and the Congress leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak called untouchability a "disease" that was antithetical to Hinduism. The first All-India Depressed Classes Conference was held in Bombay, presided over by Ambedkar's patron and mentor, Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad, and attended by several luminaries of the time, including Tilak. They passed the All-India Anti-Untouchability Manifesto, which was signed by all of them (except Tilak, who managed to find a way around it).78

Ambedkar stayed away from these meetings. He had begun to grow sceptical about these very public but completely out-of-character displays of solicitude for untouchables. He saw that these were ways in which, in the changing times, the privileged castes were manoeuvring to consolidate their control over the untouchable community. While his audience, his constituency and his chief concern were the untouchables, Ambedkar believed that it was not just the stigma, the pollution–purity issues around untouchability, but caste itself that had to be dismantled. The practice of untouchability, cruel as it was—(the Mahars for example, the caste to which Ambedkar belonged, had to tie brooms  to their waists to sweep away their "polluting" footprints, and hang pots around their necks to collect their spit)—was the performative, ritualistic end of the practice of caste. The real violence of caste was the denial of entitlement: to land, to wealth, to knowledge, to equal opportunity.

How can a system of such immutable hierarchy be maintained if not by the threat of egregious, ubiquitous violence? How do landlords force labourers, generation after generation, to toil night and day on subsistence wages? Why would an untouchable labourer, who is not allowed to even dream of being a landowner one day, put his or her life at the landlord's disposal, to plough the land, to sow seed and harvest the crop, if it were not out of sheer terror of the punishment that awaits the wayward? (Farmers, unlike industrialists, cannot afford strikes. Seed must be sown when it must be sown, the crop must be harvested when it must be harvested. The farmworker must be terrorised into abject submission, into being available when he must be available.) How were African slaves forced to work on American cotton fields? By being flogged, by being lynched, and if that did not work, by being hung from a tree for others to see and be afraid. Why are the murders of insubordinate Dalits even today never simply murders but ritual slaughter? Why are they always paraded naked, raped, dismembered and burnt alive? Ambedkar tried to provide an answer:

Why have the mass of people tolerated the social evils to which they have been subjected? There have been social revolutions in other countries of the world, why not in India, is a question that has incessantly troubled me. There is only one answer which I can give and that is that the lower classes of Hindus have been completely disabled for direct action on account of this wretched caste system. They could not bear arms and without arms they could not rebel. They were all ploughmen—or rather compelled to be ploughmen—and they were never allowed to convert their ploughshares into swords. They had no bayonets, and therefore everyone who chose, could and did sit upon them. On account of the caste system they could receive no education. They could not think out or know the way to their salvation. They were condemned to be lowly; and not knowing the way of escape, and not having any means of escape, they became reconciled to eternal servitude, which they accepted as their inescapable fate.79

In rural areas, the threat of actual physical violence sometimes paled before the spectre of the "social boycott" that orthodox Hindus would proclaim against any untouchable who dared to defy the system. (This could mean anything from daring to buy a piece of land, wearing nice clothes, smoking a bidi in the presence of a caste Hindu, or having the temerity to wear shoes, or ride a mare in a wedding procession. The crime could even be an attitude, a posture that was less craven than an untouchable's is meant to be.) It's the opposite of the boycott that the civil rights movement in the US used as a campaign tool; the American blacks at least had a modicum of economic clout with which to boycott buses and businesses that held them in contempt. Among privileged castes, the social boycott in rural India traditionally means "hukka-paani bandh"—no tobacco and no water for a person who has annoyed the community. Though it's called a "social boycott," it is an economic as well as social boycott. For Dalits, that is lethal. The sinners are denied employment in the neighbourhood, denied the right to food and water, denied the right to buy provisions in the village Bania's shop. They are hounded out and left to starve. The social boycott continues to be used as a weapon against Dalits in Indian villages. It is non-cooperation by the powerful against the powerless—non-cooperation, as we know it, turned on its head.

In order to detach caste from the political economy, from conditions of enslavement in which most Dalits lived and worked, in order to elide the questions of entitlement, land reforms and the redistribution of wealth, Hindu reformers cleverly narrowed the question of caste to the issue of untouchability. They framed it as an erroneous religious and cultural practice that needed to be reformed.

Gandhi narrowed it even further to the issue of "Bhangis," or scavengers, as Gandhi liked to call them—a mostly urban and therefore somewhat politicised community. From his childhood, he resurrected the memory of Uka, the boy scavenger who used to service the household's lavatory. Gandhi often spoke of how his family's treatment of Uka had always troubled him.80 Rural untouchables—ploughmen, potters, tanners and their families—lived in scattered, small communities, in hutments on the edges of villages (beyond polluting distance). Urban untouchables—Bhangis, Chuhras and Mehtars—lived together in numbers and actually formed a political constituency. In order to discourage them from converting to Christianity, Lala Mulk Raj Bhalla, a Hindu reformer of the Punjabi Khatri caste, re-baptised them in 1910, and they came to collectively be called Balmikis. Gandhi seized upon the Balmikis and made them his show window for untouchability. Upon them he performed his missionary acts of goodness and charity. He preached to them how to love and hold onto their heritage, and how to never aspire towards anything more than the joys of their hereditary occupation. All through his life, Gandhi wrote a great deal about the importance of "scavenging" as a religious duty. It did not seem to matter that people in the rest of the world were dealing with their shit without making such a fuss about it.

Delivering the presidential address at the Kathiawar Political Conference in Bhavnagar on 8 January 1925, Gandhi said:

If at all I seek any position it is that of a Bhangi. Cleansing of dirt is sacred work which can be done by a Brahmin as well as a Bhangi, the former doing it with and the latter without the knowledge of its holiness. I respect and honour both of them. In the absence of either of the two, Hinduism is bound to face extinction. I like the path of service; therefore, I like the Bhangi. I have personally no objection to sharing my meal with him, but I am not asking you to inter-dine with or inter-marry him. How can I advise you?81

Gandhi's attentiveness towards the Balmikis, his greatly publicised visits to "Bhangi colonies," paid dividends, despite the fact that he treated them with condescension and contempt. When he stayed in one such colony in 1946:

half the residents were moved out before his visit and the shacks of the residents torn down and neat little huts constructed in their place. The entrances and windows of the huts were screened with matting, and during the length of Gandhi's visit, were kept sprinkled with water to provide a cooling effect. The local temple was white-washed and new brick paths were laid. In an interview with Margaret Bourke-White, a photo-journalist for Life magazine, one of the men in charge of Gandhi's visit, Dinanath Tiang of the Birla Company, explained the improvements in the untouchable colony, "We have cared for Gandhiji's comfort for the last twenty years."82

In his history of the Balmiki workers of Delhi, the scholar Vijay Prashad says when Gandhi staged his visits to the Balmiki Colony on Mandir Marg (formerly Reading Road) in 1946, he refused to eat with the community:

"You can offer me goat's milk," he said, "but I will pay for it. If you are keen that I should take food prepared by you, you can come here and cook my food for me"… Balmiki elders recount tales of Gandhi's hypocrisy, but only with a sense of uneasiness. When a dalit gave Gandhi nuts, he fed them to his goat, saying that he would eat them later, in the goat's milk. Most of Gandhi's food, nuts and grains, came from Birla House; he did not take these from the dalits. Radical Balmikis took refuge in Ambedkarism which openly confronted Gandhi on these issues.83

Ambedkar realised that the problem of caste would only be further entrenched unless untouchables were able to organise, mobilise and become a political constituency with their own representatives. He believed that reserved seats for untouchables within the Hindu fold, or within the Congress, would just produce pliable candidates—servants who knew how to please their masters. He began to develop the idea of a separate electorate for untouchables. In 1919, he submitted a written testimony to the Southborough Committee on electoral reforms. The committee's brief was to propose a scheme of territorial constituencies based on existing land revenue districts, and separate communal representation for Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, for a new constitution that was to be drafted to prepare for Home Rule. The Congress boycotted the committee. To his critics, who called him a collaborator and a traitor, Ambedkar said that Home Rule was as much the right of the untouchable as it was of the Brahmin, and it was the duty of privileged castes to do what they could to put everybody on an equal plane. In his testimony, Ambedkar argued that untouchables were as separate a social group from touchable Hindus as Muslims, Christians and Sikhs:

The right of representation and the right to hold office under the State are the two most important rights that make up citizenship. But the untouchability of the untouchables puts these rights far beyond their reach. In a few places they do not even possess such insignificant rights as personal liberty and personal security, and equality before law is not always assured to them. These are the interests of the Untouchables. And as can be easily seen they can be represented by the Untouchables alone. They are distinctively their own interests and none else can truly voice them… Hence it is evident that we must find the Untouchables to represent their grievances which are their interests and, secondly, we must find them in such numbers as will constitute a force sufficient to claim redress.84

The British government did not, at that point, pay much attention to his testimony, though his presentation did perhaps provide the basis for Ambedkar being invited to the First Round Table Conference ten years later, in 1930.

Around this time, Ambedkar started his first journal, Mook Nayak (Leader of the Voiceless). Tilak's newspaper, Kesari, refused to carry even a paid advertisement announcing the publication of Mook Nayak.85 The editor of Mook Nayak was P.N. Bhatkar, the first Mahar to matriculate and go to college.86 Ambedkar wrote the first 13 editorials himself. In the first one, he described Hindu society in a chilling metaphor—as a multi-storeyed tower with no staircase and no entrance. Everybody had to die in the storey they were born in.

ANNIHILATION OF CASTE is often called (even by some Ambedkarites) Ambedkar's utopia—his impracticable, unfeasible dream. He was rolling a boulder up a cliff, they say. How can a society so steeped in faith and superstition be expected to be open to such a ferocious attack on its most deeply held beliefs? After all, for millions of Hindus of all castes, including untouchables, Hinduism in its practice is a way of life that pervades everything—birth, death, war, marriage, food, music, poetry, dance. It is their culture, their very identity. How can Hinduism be renounced only because the practice of caste is sanctioned in its foundational texts, which most people have never read?

Ambedkar's point is: how can it not be? How can such institutionalised injustice, even if it is divinely ordained, be acceptable to anyone?

It is no use seeking refuge in quibbles. It is no use telling people that the shastras do not say what they are believed to say, if they are grammatically read or logically interpreted. What matters is how the shastras have been understood by people. You must take the stand that Buddha took … You must not only discard the shastras, you must deny their authority, as did Buddha and Nanak. You must have the courage to tell the Hindus that what is wrong with them is their religion—the religion which has produced in them this notion of the sacredness of caste. Will you show that courage?87

Gandhi believed that Ambedkar was throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Ambedkar believed the baby and the bathwater were a fused organism.

Let us concede—but never accept—that Annihilation of Caste is indeed a piece of utopian thinking. If it is, then let us concede and accept how reduced, how depleted and how pitiable we would be as a people if even this—this rage, this audacious denunciation—did not exist in our midst. Ambedkar's anger gives us all a little shelter, a little dignity.

The utopianism that Ambedkar is charged with was very much part of the tradition of the anticaste movement. The poetry of the Bhakti movement is replete with it. Unlike the nostalgia-ridden, mythical village republics in Gandhi's "Ram Rajya," the subaltern Bhakti saints sang of towns.88 They sang of towns in timeless places, where untouchables would be liberated from ubiquitous fear, from unimaginable indignity and endless toil on other peoples' land. For the fifteenth-century poet Ravidas (also known as Raidas, Ruhidas or Rohidas), that place was Be-gham-pura, the City without Sorrow, the city without segregation, where people were free to go wherever they wanted:

Where there is no affliction or suffering

Neither anxiety nor fear, taxes nor capital

No menace, no terror, no humiliation…

Says Raidas the emancipated Chamar:

One who shares with me that city is my friend.89

For Tukaram, the city was Pandharpur, where everybody was equal, where the headman had to work as hard as everyone else, where people danced and sang and mingled freely. For Kabir, it was Premnagar, the City of Love.

Ambedkar's utopia was a pretty hardnosed one. It was, so to speak, the City of Justice—worldly justice. He imagined an enlightened India, Prabuddha Bharat, that fused the best ideas of the European Enlightenment with Buddhist thought. (Prabuddha Bharat was the name he gave to the last of the four newspapers he edited in his lifetime.)

Gandhi called modern cities an "excrescence" that "served at the present moment the evil purpose of draining the life-blood of the villages."90 To Ambedkar, and to most Dalits, Gandhi's ideal village was, understandably, "a sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow-mindedness and communalism."91 If Gandhi's radical critique of Western modernity came from a nostalgic evocation of a uniquely Indian pastoral bliss, Ambedkar's critique of that nostalgia came from an embrace of pragmatic Western liberalism and its definitions of progress and happiness (which, at this moment, is experiencing a crisis from which it may not recover).

The impetus towards justice turned Ambedkar's gaze away from the village towards the city, towards urbanism, modernism and industrialisation—big cities, big dams, big irrigation projects. Ironically, this is the very model of "development" that hundreds of thousands of people today associate with injustice, a model that lays the environment to waste and involves the forcible displacement of millions of people from their villages and homes by mines, dams and other major infrastructural projects. Meanwhile, Gandhi—whose mythical village is so blind to appalling, inherent injustice—has, as ironically, become the talisman of these struggles for justice.

While Gandhi promoted his village republic, his pragmatism (or what some might call his duality) allowed him to support and be supported by big industry and big dams as well.92 His chief sponsor from the year he came back from South Africa to the end of his days, was the textile magnate and newspaper baron G.D. Birla.

The rival utopias of Gandhi and Ambedkar represented the classic battle between tradition and modernity. If utopias can be said to be "'right" or "wrong," then both were right, and both were also grievously wrong. Gandhi was prescient enough to recognise the seed of cataclysm that was implanted in the project of Western modernity:

God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the West. The economic imperialism of a single tiny island kingdom is today keeping the world in chains. If an entire nation of 300 millions took to similar economic exploitation it would strip the world bare like locusts.93

As the earth warms up, as glaciers melt and forests disappear, Gandhi's words have turned out to be prophetic. But his horror of modern civilisation led him to eulogise a mythical Indian past that was, in his telling, just and beautiful. Ambedkar, on his part, was painfully aware of the iniquity of that past, but in his urgency to move away from it, he failed to recognise the catastrophic dangers of Western modernity.

Ambedkar's and Gandhi's very different utopias ought not to be appraised or assessed by the end product alone—the village or the city. Equally important is the impetus behind those utopias. For Ambedkarites to call mass struggles against contemporary models of development 'eco-romantic' and for Gandhians to hold Gandhi out as a symbol of justice and moral virtue are shallow interpretations of the very different passions that drove the two men.

The towns the Bhakti poet-saints dreamed of—Beghampura, Pandharpur, Premnagar—had one thing in common. They all existed in a time and space that was liberated from the bonds of Brahminism. Brahminism was the term that the anticaste movement preferred over "Hinduism." By Brahminism, they didn't mean Brahmins as a caste or a community. They meant the domino effect, what Ambedkar called the "infection of imitation," that the caste that first "enclosed" itself—the Brahmins—set off.

The "infection of imitation," like the half-life of a radioactive atom, decays exponentially as it moves down the caste ladder, but never quite disappears. It has created what Ambedkar describes as a system of "graded inequality" in which "there is no such class as a completely unprivileged class except the one which is at the base of the social pyramid. The privileges of the rest are graded. Even the low is privileged as compared with lower. Each class being privileged, every class is interested in maintaining the system."94

The exponential decay of the radioactive atom of caste means that Brahminism is practised not just by the Brahmin against the Kshatriya or the Vaishya against the Shudra, or the Shudra against the Untouchable, but also by the Untouchable against the Unapproachable, the Unapproachable against the Unseeable. It means there is a quotient of Brahminism in everybody, regardless of which caste they belong to. It is the ultimate means of control in which the concept of pollution and purity and the perpetration of social as well as physical violence—an inevitable part of administering an oppressive hierarchy—is not just outsourced, but implanted in everybody's imagination, including those at the bottom of the hierarchy. It's like an elaborate enforcement network in which everybody polices everybody else. The Unapproachable polices the Unseeable; the Malas resent the Madigas; the Madigas turn upon the Dakkalis, who sit on the Rellis; the Vanniyars quarrel with the Paraiyars, who in turn could beat up the Arundhatiyars.

Brahminism makes it impossible to draw a clear line between victims and oppressors, even though the hierarchy of caste makes it more than clear that there are victims and oppressors. (The line between Touchables and Untouchables, for example, is dead clear.) Brahminism precludes the possibility of social or political solidarity across caste lines. As an administrative system, it is pure genius. "A single spark can light a prairie fire" was Mao Zedong's famous message to his guerrilla army. Perhaps. But Brahminism has given us in India a labyrinth instead of a prairie. And the poor little single spark wanders, lost in a warren of firewalls. Brahminism, Ambedkar said, "is the very negation of the spirit of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity."95

"Some closed the door," he wrote, "others found it closed against them."96

From Annihilation of Caste (1936)

Reason and morality are the two most powerful weapons in the armoury of a reformer. To deprive him of the use of these weapons is to disable him for action. How are you going to break up caste, if people are not free to consider whether it accords with reason? How are you going to break up caste, if people are not free to consider whether it accords with morality? The wall built around caste is impregnable, and the material of which it is built contains none of the combustible stuff of reason and morality. Add to this the fact that inside this wall stands the army of Brahmins who form the intellectual class, Brahmins who are the natural leaders of the Hindus, Brahmins who are there not as mere mercenary soldiers but as an army fighting for its homeland, and you will get an idea why I think that the breaking up of caste among the Hindus is well-nigh impossible. At any rate, it would take ages before a breach is made.

But whether the doing of the deed takes time or whether it can be done quickly, you must not forget that if you wish to bring about a breach in the system, then you have got to apply the dynamite to the Vedas and the shastras, which deny any part to reason; to the Vedas and shastras, which deny any part to morality. You must destroy the religion of the shrutis and the smritis. Nothing else will avail. This is my considered view of the matter.

Some may not understand what I mean by destruction of religion, some may find the idea revolting to them, and some may find it revolutionary. Let me therefore explain my position. I do not know whether you draw a distinction between principles and rules. But I do. Not only do I make a distinction, but I say that this distinction is real and important. Rules are practical; they are habitual ways of doing things according to prescription. But principles are intellectual; they are useful methods of judging things. Rules seek to tell an agent just what course of action to pursue. Principles do not prescribe a specific course of action. Rules, like cooking recipes, do tell just what to do and how to do it. A principle, such as that of justice, supplies a main heading by reference to which he is to consider the bearings of his desires and purposes; it guides him in his thinking by suggesting to him the important consideration which he should bear in mind.

This difference between rules and principles makes the acts done in pursuit of them different in quality and in content.97 Doing what is said to be good by virtue of a rule and doing good in the light of a principle are two different things. The principle may be wrong, but the act is conscious and responsible. The rule may be right, but the act is mechanical. A religious act may not be a correct act, but must at least be a responsible act. To permit of this responsibility, religion must mainly be a matter of principles only. It cannot be a matter of rules. The moment it degenerates into rules it ceases to be religion, as it kills the responsibility which is the essence of a truly religious act.

What is this Hindu religion? Is it a set of principles, or is it a code of rules? Now the Hindu religion, as contained in the Vedas and the smritis, is nothing but a mass of sacrificial, social, political, and sanitary rules and regulations, all mixed up. What is called religion by the Hindus is nothing but a multitude of commands and prohibitions. Religion, in the sense of spiritual principles, truly universal, applicable to all races, to all countries, to all times, is not to be found in them; and if it is, it does not form the governing part of a Hindu's life. That for a Hindu dharma means commands and prohibitions is clear from the way the word dharma is used in the Vedas and the smritis and understood by the commentators. The word dharma as used in the Vedas in most cases means religious ordinances or rites. Even Jaimini in his Purva Mimamsa98 defines dharma as "a desirable goal or result that is indicated by injunctive (Vedic) passages".

To put it in plain language, what the Hindus call religion is really law, or at best legalised class-ethics. Frankly, I refuse to call this code of ordinances as religion. The first evil of such a code of ordinances, misrepresented to the people as religion, is that it tends to deprive moral life of freedom and spontaneity, and to reduce it (for the conscientious, at any rate) to a more or less anxious and servile conformity to externally imposed rules. Under it, there is no loyalty to ideals; there is only conformity to commands.

But the worst evil of this code of ordinances is that the laws it contains must be the same yesterday, today and forever. They are iniquitous in that they are not the same for one class as for another. But this iniquity is made perpetual in that they are prescribed to be the same for all generations. The objectionable part of such a scheme is not that they are made by certain persons called prophets or law-givers. The objectionable part is that this code has been invested with the character of finality and fixity. Happiness notoriously varies with the conditions and circumstances of a person, as well as with the conditions of different people and epochs. That being the case, how can humanity endure this code of eternal laws, without being cramped and without being crippled?

I have, therefore, no hesitation in saying that such a religion must be destroyed, and I say there is nothing irreligious in working for the destruction of such a religion. Indeed I hold that it is your bounden duty to tear off the mask, to remove the misrepresentation that is caused by misnaming this law as religion. This is an essential step for you. Once you clear the minds of the people of this misconception and enable them to realise that what they are told is religion is not religion, but that it is really law, you will be in a position to urge its amendment or abolition.

So long as people look upon it as religion they will not be ready for a change, because the idea of religion is generally speaking not associated with the idea of change. But the idea of law is associated with the idea of change, and when people come to know that what is called religion is really law, old and archaic, they will be ready for a change, for people know and accept that law can be changed.

* Excerpted from the "The Doctor and the Saint," Arundhati Roy's book-length introduction to Dr B.R. Ambedkar's Annihilation of Caste: The Annotated Critical Edition, published by Navayana.

Notes

1 Ruth Vanita 2002.

2 Sukta 90 in Book X of the Rig Veda tells the story of the myth of creation. It describes the sacrifice of the Purusha (Primeval Man), from whose body the four varnas and the entire universe emerged. When (the gods) divided the Purusha, his mouth became Brahmin, his arms Kshatriya, his thighs Vaishya and Shudra sprang from his feet. See Wendy Doniger (translation, 2005). Some scholars believe that Sukta is a latter-day interpolation into the Rig Veda.

3 Susan Bayly (1998) shows how Gandhi's caste politics are completely in keeping with the views of modern, privileged-caste Hindu 'reformers'.

4 In 2012, the newsmagazine Outlook published the result of just such a poll conducted on the eve of independence day. The question was: "Who, after the Mahatma, is the greatest Indian to have walked our soil?" Ambedkar topped the poll and Outlook devoted an entire issue (20 August 2012) to him. See http://www.outlookindia.com/content10894.asp. Accessed 10 August 2013.

5 See Ambedkar's Pakistan or the Partition of India (1945), first published as Thoughts on Pakistan(1940), and featured now in BAWS 8.

6 Parel 1997, 188–9.

7 In a 1955 interview to BBC radio, Ambedkar says: "A comparative study of Gandhi's Gujarati and English writings will reveal how Mr Gandhi was deceiving people." See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJs-BjoSzbo. Accessed 12 August 2013.

8 Cited in BAWS 9, 276.

9 AoC 16.2.

10 See Kathryn Tidrick 2006, 281, 283, 284. On 2 May 1938, after Gandhi had a seminal discharge at the age of sixty-four, in a letter to Amritlal Nanavati he said: "Where is my place, and how can a person subject to passion represent non-violence and truth?" (CWMG 73, 139).

11 BAWS 9, 202.

12 Dhananjay Keer 1954/1990, 167.

13 For an analysis of the radicalism inherent in the Ambedkar statue, in the context of Uttar Pradesh, see Nicolas Jaoul (2006). "To Dalit villagers, whose rights and dignity have been regularly violated, setting up the statue of a Dalit statesman wearing a red tie and carrying the Constitution involves dignity, pride in emancipated citizenship and a practical acknowledgement of the extent to which the enforcement of laws could positively change their lives" (204).

14 "The State represents violence in a concentrated and organised form. The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its very existence. Hence I prefer the doctrine of trusteeship." Hindustan Times, 17 October 1935; CWMG 65, 318.

15 Young India, 16 April 1931; CWMG 51, 354.

16 Bhagwan Das 2010, 175.

17 Jefferson says this in his letter of 6 September 1789 to James Madison. Available at http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch2s23.html. Accessed 21 November 2013.

18 Ambedkar argues in "Castes in India", his 1916 essay, that women are the gateways of the caste system and that control over them through child marriages, enforced widowhood and sati (being burnt on a dead husband's pyre) are methods to keep a check on women's sexuality. For an analysis of Ambedkar's writings on this issue, see Sharmila Rege (2013).

19 For a discussion of the Hindu Code Bill, its ramifications and how it was sabotaged, see Sharmila Rege (2013, 191–244). Rege shows how from 11 April 1947, when it was introduced in the Constituent Assembly, till September 1951, the Bill was never taken seriously. Ambedkar finally resigned on 10 October 1951. The Hindu Marriage Act was finally enacted in 1955, granting divorce rights to Hindu women. The Special Marriage Act, passed in 1954 allows inter-caste and inter-religious marriage.

20 Rege 2013, 200.

21 Rege 2013, 241. Ambedkar's disillusionment with the new legal regime in India went further. On 2 September 1953, Ambedkar declared in the Rajya Sabha, "Sir, my friends tell me that I made the Constitution. But I am quite prepared to say that I shall be the first person to burn it out. I do not want it. It does not suit anybody. But whatever that may be, if our people want to carry on, they must remember that there are majorities and there are minorities; and they simply cannot ignore the minorities by saying: 'Oh, no, to recognise you is to harm democracy'" (Keer 1990, 499).

22 AoC, Preface to 1937 edition.

23 Cited in Zelliot 2013, 147.

24 Here, for example, is Ismat Chugtai, a Muslim writer celebrated for her progressive, feminist views, describing an Untouchable sweeper in her short story, "A Pair of Hands": "Gori was her name, the feckless one, and she was dark, dark like a glistening pan on which a roti had been fried but which a careless cook had forgotten to clean. She had a bulbous nose, a wide jaw, and it seemed she came from a family where brushing one's teeth was a habit long forgotten. The squint in her left eye was noticeable despite the fact that her eyes were heavily kohled; it was difficult to imagine how, with a squinted eye, she was able to throw darts that never failed to hit their mark. Her waist was not slim; it had thickened, rapidly increasing in diameter from all those handouts she consumed. There was also nothing delicate about her feet which reminded one of a cow's hoofs, and she left a coarse smell of mustard oil in her wake. Her voice however, was sweet" (2003, 164).

25 In 1981, all the Dalits of the village of Meenakshipuram—renamed Rahmat Nagar—in Tamil Nadu's Tirunelveli district converted to Islam. Worried by this, Hindu supremacist groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh together with the Sankaracharya of Kanchipuram began to work proactively to 'integrate' Dalits into Hinduism. A new 'Tamil Hindu' chauvinist group called the Hindu Munnani was formed. Eighteen years later, P. Sainath revisited Meenakshipuram and filed two reports (1999a, 1999b). For a similar case from Koothirambakkam, another village in Tamil Nadu, see S. Anand (2002).

26 Cited in Omvedt 2008, 177.

27 The figure Ambedkar cites is drawn from the Simon Commission report of 1930. When the Lothian Committee came to India in 1932 Ambedkar said, "The Hindus adopted a challenging mood and refused to accept the figures given by the Simon Commission as a true figure for the Untouchables of India." He then argues that, "this is due to the fact that the Hindus had by now realised the danger of admitting the existence of the Untouchables. For it meant that a part of the representation enjoyed by the Hindus will have to be given up by them to the Untouchables" (BAWS 5, 7–8).

28 Rege 2013, 200.

29 He says this in the April 1899 issue of the journal Prabuddha Bharata, in an interview to its editor. In the same interview, when asked specifically what would be the caste of those who "re-converted" to Hinduism, Vivekananda says: "Returning converts … will gain their own castes, of course. And new people will make theirs. You will remember … that this has already been done in the case of Vaishnavism. Converts from different castes and aliens were all able to combine under that flag and form a caste by themselves—and a very respectable one too. From Ramanuja down to Chaitanya of Bengal, all great Vaishnava Teachers have done the same." Available at http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_5/interviews/on_the_bounds_of_hinduism.htm. Accessed 20 August 2013.

30 The names of these organisations translate as: Forum for Dalit Uplift; the All-India Committee for the Uplift of Untouchables, the Punjab Society for Untouchable Uplift.

31 AoC 6.2.

32 Susan Bayly 1998.

33 The term was coined by V.D. Savarkar (1883–1966), one of the principal proponents of modern, right-wing Hindu nationalism, in his 1923 pamphlet Essentials of Hindutva (later retitled Hindutva: Who Is a Hindu?). The first edition (1923) of this work carried the pseudonymous 'A Maratha' as author. For a critical introduction to Hindutva, see Jyotirmaya Sharma (2006).

34 Cited in Prashad 1996, 554–5.

35 BAWS 9, 195.

36 A few privileged-caste Hindu members of the Ghadar Party later turned towards Hindu nationalism and became Vedic missionaries. On Bhai Parmanand, a founder-member of the Ghadar Party who later became a Hindutva ideologue, see Note 11 in the Prologue to AoC.

37 For a monograph on the Ad Dharm movement, see Juergensmeyer (1982/2009).

38 Rupa Viswanath (forthcoming 2014) details the history of the colonial state's alliance with the landed castes against landless Dalits in the context of the Madras Presidency.

39 Mike Davis 2002, 7.

40 Cited in BAWS 9, 68.

41 Harijan, 30 September 1939; CWMG 76, 356.

42 See Guha, 2013b.

43 Tidrick 2006, 106.

44 For an archive of Gandhi's writings about his years in South Africa (1893 to 1914), see G.B. Singh (2004).

45 Maureen Swan 1985, 52.

46 Kaffir is an Arabic term that originally meant 'one who hides or covers'—a description of farmers burying seeds in the ground. After the advent of Islam, it came to mean 'non-believers' or 'heretics', those 'who covered the truth (Islam)'. It was first applied to non-Muslim Black people encountered by Arab traders along the Swahili coast. Portuguese explorers adopted the term and passed it on to the British, French and Dutch. In South Africa, it became a racial slur the Whites and Afrikaners (and Indians like Gandhi) used to describe native Africans. Today, to call someone a Kaffir in South Africa is an actionable offence.

47 CWMG 1, 192–3.

48 CWMG 1, 200.

49 For a history of indentured labour in South Africa, see Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed (2007).

50 Between the early 1890s and 1913, the Indian population in South Africa tripled, from 40,000 to 135,00 (Guha 2013b, 463).

51 Guha 2013b, 115.

52 CWMG 2, 6.

53 Adam Hochschild 2011, 33–4.

54 During the Second World War, he advised the Jews to "summon to their aid the soul-power that comes only from non-violence" and assured them that Herr Hitler would "bow before their courage" (Harijan, 17 December 1938; CWMG 74, 298). He urged the British to "fight Nazism without arms" (Harijan, 6 July 1940; CWMG 78, 387).

55 CWMG 34, 18.

56 CWMG 2, 339–40.

57 The Natal Advertiser, 16 October 1901; CWMG 2, 421.

58 CWMG 5, 11.

59 CWMG 5, 179.

60 Jeff Guy 2005, 212.

61 According to a note on the first page of volume 34 of CWMG, "Gandhiji started writing in Gujarati the history of Satyagraha in South Africa on November 26, 1923, when he was in the Yeravada Central Jail; vide Jail Diary, 1923. By the time he was released, on February 5, 1924, he had completed 30 chapters… The English translation by Valji G. Desai, which was seen and approved by Gandhiji, was published by S. Ganesan, Madras, in 1928."

62 CWMG 34, 82–3.

63 Ibid., 84.

64 Of a total population of 135,000 Indians, only 10,000, who were mostly traders, lived in the Transvaal. The rest were based in Natal (Guha 2013b, 463).

65 CWMG 5, 337. This is from Clause 3 from Resolution 2 of the Five Resolutions passed by the British Indian Association in Johannesburg, following the 'Mass Meeting' of 11 September 1906.

66 Indian Opinion, 7 March 1908; CWMG 8, 198–9.

67 CWMG 9, 256–7.

68 Indian Opinion, 23 January 1909; CWMG 9, 274.

69 In a letter dated 18 May 1899 to the Colonial Secretary, Gandhi wrote: "An Indian may fancy that he has a wrong to be redressed in that he does not get ghee instead of oil" (CWMG 2, 266). On another occasion: "The regulations here do not provide for any ghee or fat to Indians. A complaint has therefore been made to the physician, and he has promised to look into it. So there is reason to hope that the inclusion of ghee will be ordered" (Indian Opinion, 17 October 1908; CWMG 9, 197).

70 Indian Opinion, 23 January 1909; CWMG 9, 270.

71 Young India, 5 April 1928; CWMG 41, 365.

72 Lelyveld 2011, 74.

73 Cited in Howard Zinn and Antony Arnove 2004, 265.

74 Ibid, 270.

75 Cited in Omvedt 2008, 219.

76 In G.P. Deshpande 2002, 32.

77 Ibid., 38–40

78 Keer 1990, 36–7.

79 AoC 17.5.

80 Prashad 1996, 552. In his speech at the Suppressed Classes Conference in Ahmedabad on 13 April 1921, reported in Young India on 27 April 1921 and 4 May 1921 (reproduced in CWMG 23, 41–47), Gandhi discussed Uka at length for the first time (42). Bakha, the main protagonist in Mulk Raj Anand's iconic novel Untouchable (1935) is said to be inspired by Uka. According to the researcher Lingaraja Gandhi (2004), Anand showed his manuscript to Gandhi, who suggested changes. Anand says: "I read my novel to Gandhiji, and he suggested that I should cut down more than a hundred pages, especially those passages in which Bakha seemed to be thinking and dreaming and brooding like a Bloomsbury intellectual."  Lingaraja Gandhi further says: "Anand had provided long and flowery speeches to Bakha in his draft. Gandhi instructed Anand that untouchables don't speak that way: in fact, they hardly speak. The novel underwent metamorphosis under the tutelage of Gandhi."

81 Navajivan, 18 January 1925; CWMG 30, 71. In the account of Gandhi's secretary, Mahadev Desai, this speech from Gujarati is rendered differently: "The position that I really long for is that of the Bhangi. How sacred is this work of cleanliness! That work can be done only by a Brahmin or by a Bhangi. The Brahmin may do it in his wisdom, the Bhangi in ignorance. I respect, I adore both of them. If either of the two disappears from Hinduism, Hinduism itself would disappear. And it is because seva-dharma (self-service) is dear to my heart that the Bhangi is dear to me. I may even sit at my meals with a Bhangi by my side, but I do not ask you to align yourselves with them by inter-caste dinners and marriages." Cited in Ramaswamy 2005, 86.

82 Renold 1994, 19–20. Highly publicised symbolic visits to Dalit homes has become a Congress party tradition. In January 2009, in the glare of a media circus, the Congress party's vice-president and prime ministerial candidate, Rahul Gandhi, along with David Milliband, the British foreign secretary, spent a night in the hut of a Dalit family in Simra village of Uttar Pradesh. For an account of this see Anand Teltumbde (2013).

83 Prashad 2001, 139.

84 BAWS 1, 256.

85 Keer 1990, 41.

86 Zelliot 2013, 91.

87 AoC 20.12.

88 Gail Omvedt 2008, 19.

89 Unpublished translation by Joel Lee, made available through personal communication.

90 Young India, 17 March 1927; CWMG 38, 210.

91 Ambedkar said this during his speech delivered as Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee in the Constituent Assembly on 4 November 1948. See Das 2010, 176.

92 For an analysis of Gandhi's relationship with Indian capitalists, see Leah Renold (1994). Gandhi's approach to big dams is revealed in a letter dated 5 April 1924, in which he advised villagers who faced displacement by the Mulshi Dam, being built by the Tatas to generate electricity for their Bombay mills, to give up their protest (CWMG 27, 168):

1. I understand that the vast majority of the men affected have accepted compensation and that the few who have not cannot perhaps even be traced.

2. The dam is nearly half-finished and its progress cannot be permanently stopped. There seems to me to be no ideal behind the movement.

3. The leader of the movement is not a believer out and out in non-violence. This defect is fatal to success.

Seventy-five years later, in 2000, the Supreme Court of India used very similar logic in its infamous judgement on the World Bank-funded Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river, when it ruled against tens of thousands of local people protesting their displacement, and ordered the construction of the dam to continue.

93 Young India, 20 December 1928; CWMG 43, 412. Also see Gandhi's Hind Swaraj (1909) in Anthony Parel (1997).

94 BAWS 5, 102.

95 In Das 2010, 51.

96 AoC, Preface to 1937 edition.

From Annihilation of Caste

97 Once again, Ambedkar seems to be alluding to his mentor Dewey (1922, 239), who writes: "As habits set in grooves dominate activity and swerve it from conditions instead of increasing its adaptability, so principles treated as fixed rules instead of as helpful methods take men away from experience. The more complicated the situation, and the less we really know about it, the more insistent is the orthodox type of moral theory upon the prior existence of some fixed and universal principle or law which is to be directly applied and followed." There is a certain tension here between Dewey's words—who seems critical of rigid application of principles—and those of Ambedkar, who advocates sound principles as the only possible foundation for morality.

98 Jaimini's Purva Mimamsa Sutras, dated sometime between the second century BCE and second century CE, is the first text in the Mimamsa school of philosophy, a school of exegesis concerned with the understanding of Vedic ritual injunctions. (Orthodox Hinduism has six schools of philosophy: Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa and Vedanta.) The PMS consists of a systematically ordered collection of approximately 2,745 short statements, also referred to individually as sutra. Ambedkar here is referring to sutra 1.1.2. For an account of the various explanations which have been offered for the terms 'Purva Mimamsa' and 'Uttara Mimamsa', see Asko Parpola (1981). For a full translation with commentary, see Ganganatha Jha (1942); see also James Benson (2010) and Francis Clooney, S.J. (1990).

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Arundhati Roy is the author of the novel The God of Small Things. The most recent collections of her political essays are Listening to Grasshoppers and Broken Republic.

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READER'S COMMENTS [107]

rb chennuru

26 August 2014

23:23 PM

It is a very well researched and touching article. I did not even see who the author was.But all thru a feeling developed in my mind that writer is systematically trying to eulogize Ambedkar and demean Gandhi. It appears her ultimate target was neither Ambedkar nor Gandhi but the destruction of Hinduism. Given the fact that she is a christian it is understandable. Nobody can match them in poisoning unsuspecting minds in distributing poisonous literature.Castes and untouchbility are on thier way out. But she cannot prevent mass murders and genocides as we r witnessing all over christian and Muslim world.

Simona Rich

05 August 2014

17:19 PM

Great work as always. Can't wait for my book to arrive. I wish more people would stop being so narrow-minded and objectively view this important information.

Dr santosh

30 July 2014

23:22 PM

In writing(criticising ) about Gandhiji, Arundhati Roy and the right wing (RSS)are on the same side. Only those who have not understood the message of the Mahatma s life can write in such a manner. This is one of the most perverted articles i have ever read. Whom does Mrs Roy wants to appease with this essay.

sn

21 July 2014

02:36 AM

Also, after first round table conference Gandhi threatened Ambedkar that rivers of Harijan blood would flow if he did not give up his demand for separate electorates. He should have been immediately arrested for this.

Dr. Arroyo

09 July 2014

14:09 PM

MY MOST SINCERE CONGRATULATIONS, Arundhati. Your article (all your writing) is SUPERB!!! That is why a few do not like it (ha, ha, ha! ) Keep on like this.

Dr. Arroyo

09 July 2014

14:06 PM

MY MOST SINCERE CONGRATULATIONS, Arundhati. Your article (all your writing) is SUPERB, that is why a few do not like it!! Keep on like this.

Harbans Lal Badhan

02 July 2014

16:06 PM

Mahatma Gandhi was an orthodox and a fundamentalist Sanatni Hindu and he (Mahatma Gandhi) was also a staunch supporter of Varna system and Caste system. Both, Caste and Varna are mother and father of Untouchability. Indian Caste system is more dangerous, cruel, rigid, barbarous, violent, hard, inhuman and harmful than any other kind of Racial discrimination or Slavery system. It (Indian Caste system) is an unnatural and unscientific man made system, made by the anti social elements or by the enemies of society. It (Indian Caste system) is not only a social, political, economic, and religious evil but also a mental disease and mental sickness. It should be banned at any cost by the Law of the State or by Act of Parliament. Otherwise, it (Indian Caste system) will spoil and kill the democratic institutions and secularism of any great civilization or state and society. It (Indian Caste system) will also slaughter the unity, peace and economic and scientific development and progress of state and society or any civilized society. It (Indian Caste system) is also the enemy of social justice and social equality. It (Indian Caste system) divides the society. It (Indian Caste system) is not only a devil but also a monster who destroys the principal of of equality, liberty and fraternity . To believe in Caste and Untouchability is not only a crime against humanity but also a violation of human rights of an individual. Caste (Indian Caste system) is more dangerous and harmful than chemical weapons. It (Indian Caste system) is great challenge to global society.

Harbans Lal Badhan

06 May 2014

16:50 PM

Indian Caste system is more dangerous, cruel, inhuman and harmful than any other kind of Racial discrimination or Slavery system. Indian Caste system is not only a social, economic, political and religious evil, but also a mental disease and mental sickness. It (Indian Caste system) should be banned at any cost by Act of Parliament or by the Law of the State. Otherwise it (Indian Caste system) will spoil and kill the secular and democratic character of any civilized society and state. It (Indian Caste system) will also slaughter the unity and integrity and scientific and economic progress and development of any state and society. Caste is not only a devil but also monster who destroy equality, liberty and fraternity. To believe in caste and Untouchability is not only a crime against Humanity but also a violation of Human Rights.

Daniel

21 April 2014

12:32 PM

No surprises there. Once again, Ms Arundhati Roy has done what she does best. She has taken some historical dates & facts, adopted them, adapted them and used them to gratify her perverse logic. As such she has committed exactly the same mistake she warned(and not too subtly, might I add) the readers against in the beginning of her long diatribe. She has deified Ambedkar by emphasising on his tireless crusade against caste while ignoring some obvious flaws in his modus operandi. In the same vein, she has vilified Gandhi(or at least tried to) by pointing out at what she believes to be his subconscious belief in the superiority of his caste. But there is a well known and well deserved saying-actions speak louder than words. Sure, Gandhi had his faults but he did more for India and Indians than many of us would like to acknowledge. On the other hand, Ambedkar did whatever he did(and I do not blame him or judge him, indeed judging such a man would be an insult to him) mostly for the oppressed castes; emancipation of oppressed castes was the prime goal for him even if it meant making a Faustian deal with the British. I agree with Ms. Roy when she says that history has been kind to Gandhi but it is not without reason and as they say, History is the best judge.

Astha

15 July 2014

16:05 PM

It is also said that " History is a version of past that people have agree upon". So I don't agree that History is the best judge. Rather it shows how the power still continues to be concentrated in few hands who continue to alter past, present and future as per their whims and fancies.

Rahul

18 May 2014

10:22 AM

Daniel, Sure, Gandhi did a lot for our country. But his fight was against people who belonged to other country whereas Dr. Ambedkar was fighting a battle with his own people of his own motherland. How would you feel if your own country is not able to accept you in uniformity with all the other people? What would you say to the number of people who belonged to oppressed castes when they were not treated equally in their own motherland? Arundhati Roy has not deified Ambedkar but has shown how people today can praise Swami Vivekananda or Gandhi but cannot stand when someone just states the work of another untouchable person (Ambedkar, in this case). Daniel, what an irony that our own people were not able to accept the oppressed caste people and Britishers who were considered our enemy were treating these people on equal terms. Faustian deal? Sir, if upper caste people would have accepted the oppressed caste people, neither Ambedkar and nor any of these people would have "dealt" with Britishers. It is only unfortunate that today even you cannot accept that Ambedkar had a bigger battle to fight and no surprises these people are fighting the battle even today.

Sanjay

06 April 2014

09:23 AM

Arundhati Roy is continuing the tradition of the British colonial masters and that too in an anglicized Hindi accent: divide Indians on the basis of race, religion and caste.

Madhav Singh

20 March 2014

08:09 AM

Arundhati Roys assembles good prose and must limit herself to writing fiction. Her pop psycho-social-economic witchcraft is nothing more but rabid strains of polemical bamboozling. Not so long ago,Roy-The Diva of Factoids in perpetual Denials had done by bringing in dreadfully monotonous strains of meaningless class prejudices. She did that by trying to belittle the crime of the rapists of Damini, as they were poor bus drivers, fruit seller and lowly gym instructor, who were perhaps taking revenge for thousands of years of upper class exploitation and suppression. The Maoists- Gandhian with Guns, she loves and supports to core, also known to indulge in rape and exploitation of female cadre and to intimidate others. But such questions would be tersely rejected as state sponsored along with being motivated by the higher caste prejudices. But lets see what Ms Roy has always been trying espouse with relentless intellectual dishonesty and twisted class based ideals of crime and punishment.The important point is that Roy herself is a product of the market, the very corporate, she hates, derides and lampoons on 24x7 basis. The accentuated attention and space given to her by corporate controlled media, negates the rabid criticism of the entity, which has created and still feeds her. Ms Roy must devote her time and energies writing fictions and literary criticism, rather than paddling misty eyed conjectures. Arundhati Roy was arrogant and insensitive enough by saying that India deserved not only one but many more Mumbai 26/11 type Carnages in her uniquely twisted sensationalist narrative.Her fake pulsating hate for the word "corporate" manifests the inbuilt strategy to reject modern business models, even while shamelessly enjoying all the accrued benefits of iconic status, money bestowed on her frail bird like self.. Or perhaps more likely wish to swim along with rabid anti market, self-loathing angst of guilt ridden white-western intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, her ideal. It would be interesting to see if she has guts to withstand the scrutiny of her ideals and beliefs by likes of Shashi Tharoor and Gurucharan Das in a televised discussion.

Ram Patil

04 April 2014

11:50 AM

Dear Friend Madhav Singh, Thanks for your wise words. It is unfair to condemn anyone outright. We should not go by the face value. If you wish to understand what one says, it is pertinent to listen first and then autopsy the whole text. In her essay she has just brought out the facts and figures about Gandhi and Ambedkar. I do not find anything objectionable in her writing. Can you elaborate on as to why and how Mao, Lenin and Marx have got entry in India ? What are the causes of Naxalism, Militancy, Separatism and anarchy ? Still we are far better. In similar situation elsewhere would have been disastrous. Indians have tremendous patience and tolerance.

Ananda

14 March 2014

10:10 AM

Arundhati rightly lends a voice to the oppressive nature of exploitation practiced by the distortion and perversion of the caste system. However, the aggregation of class/caste and the antagonistic interplay between them is a universal phenomenon that has played out through history and continues till this day. The leap from this universal flaw into a conclusion by Ambedkar, which she seems to endorse, that draws such a sharp & selective attack on Hinduism is perplexing and without merit. Her article itself concludes with an ambivalence between the merits and flaws in the conflicting visions of Gandhi & Ambedkar, while appearing to acknowledge that Gandhis vision was the more pragmatic one. This conclusion fails to help me gain clarity on her position wrt Ambedkars angst-ridden view that to overcome the oppressive evolution of caste, Hinduism itself must be destroyed. Sri Aurobindo eloquently dealt with the history and distortionary evolution of caste, by framing it in an accurate spiritual context which is completely absent in both Arundhati's article and the extract from Ambedkar's book : Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) most original philosopher of modern India. Education in England gave him a wide introduction to the culture of ancient, or mediaeval and of modern Europe. He was described by Romain Rolland as ' the completest synthesis of the East and the West.' This is what he observed about caste: Quote "Caste was originally an arrangement for the distribution of functions of society, just as much as class in Europe, but the principle on which the distribution was based in India was peculiar to this country. "A Brahmin was a Brahmin not by mere birth, but because he discharged the duty of preserving the spiritual and intellectual elevation of the race, and he had to cultivate the spiritual temperament and acquire the spiritual training which alone could qualify him for the task. The Kshatriya was a Kshatriya not merely because he was the son of warriors and princes, but because he discharged the duty of protecting the country and preserving the high courage and manhood of the nation, and he had to cultivate the princely temperament and acquire the strong and lofty Samurai training which alone fitted him for his duties. So it was with the Vaishya whose function was to amass wealth for the race and the Shudra who discharged the humbler duties of service without which the other castes could not perform their share of labour for the common good. Essentially there was, between the devout Brahmin and the devout Shudra, no inequality in the single 'virAt purusa' [Cosmic Spirit] of which each was a necessary part. Chokha Mela, the Maratha Pariah, became the Guru of Brahmins proud of their caste purity; The Chandala taught Shankaracharya: for the 'Brahman' was revealed in the body of the Pariah and in the Chandal there was the utter presence of Shiva the Almighty." Caste therefore was not only an institution which ought to be immune from the cheap second-hand denunciations so long in fashion, but a supreme necessity without which Hindu civilisation could not have developed its distinctive character or worked out its unique mission. But to recognize this is not to debar ourselves from pointing out its later perversions and desiring its transformation. It is the nature of human institutions to degenerate, to lose their vitality and decay, and the first sign of decay is the loss of flexibility and oblivion of the essential spirit in which they were conceived. The spirit is permanent, the body changes; and a body which refuses to change must die. The spirit expresses itself in many ways while remaining essentially the same, but the body must change to suit its changing environments if it wishes to live. There is no doubt that the institution of caste degenerated. It ceased to be determined by spiritual qualifications which, once essential, have now come to be subordinate and even immaterial and is determined by the purely material tests of occupation and birth. By this change it has set itself against the fundamental tendency of Hinduism which is to insist on the spiritual and subordinate the material, and thus lost most of its meaning. The spirit of caste arrogance, exclusiveness and superiority came to dominate it instead of the spirit of duty, and the change weakened the nation and helped to reduce us to our present condition." Unquote The lack of depth in Ambedkar's diatribe against Hinduism is most clearly visible when he calls Hinduism a 'set of rules'. This demonstrates a glaringly myopic vision of Hinduism. The fact that Arundhati did not find merit in flagging this in her extensive introduction appears to suggest that her focus is on the oppressive evolution of caste and not so much on the annihilation of Hinduism as a remedy as proposed by Ambedkar. However, this omission does a fundamental injustice to her purpose as it exposes a lack of objective neutrality that is so central to the kind of examination that she has chosen to make. It also exposes the flaw in in imbalanced sense of 'activism' that does not shoulder the counterbalancing onus of contributing towards solutions. The responsibility to talk solutions rests with all of us and provides a context, direction and framework to our concerns. In the absence of taking on this mantle, we remain selective and superficial in our assessments of a situation since the exploration towards sustainable remedies requires one to strive towards a comprehensive understanding of the root of an issue and not engage in the kind of verbose drift prevalent in Arundhati's introduction. The inclusiveness of Hinduism as a way of life, causes it to mean different things to different people, thereby remaining open to all (including other forms of religion) and acknowledging the variety of routes that each individual takes towards self evolution. It can be a set of doctrines from some and a means to discover one's own true nature to others. As the famous song in obeisance to Lord Shiva says, "Na punyam -na paapam, na sukham - na dukham, na mantro - na teertho, na veda - na yagna, aham bhojanam naiva bhojyam na bhokta, chidananda roopaha shivoham shivoham", at the heart of Hinduism is an act of fundamental negation, beyond which lies the indescribable and all pervading self. I have never read Arundhati extensively, except for her essays supporting the PAPs during the Narmada Bachao Andolan. However, given her fervent activism in support of the dispossessed and oppressed and against the distorted nature and temperament of those that drive the development of the world, she always invokes my respect and gratitude. While that does not change with my disagreements over the content of this introduction, such an important issue deserved much greater study than what she has evidently done in this instance and a far greater degree of nuance, as demonstrated in a very small way in Sri Aurobindo's assessment of caste as quoted above.

Simona Rich

05 August 2014

17:33 PM

Thank you for this intelligent and objective comment; I hold the same opinion about Hinduism; it can be suited for all, and unfortunately the higher caste uses it as a tool of control.

BongBut

19 March 2014

20:04 PM

Are you an upper caste person? You'll notice that lower caste people never defend the caste system and the only apologists of the system are from the upper castes. If the caste system was (and is) so equitable and just, why don't the people from the vurata purusha's feet feel glad about being foot-born? Why can't the pariahs feel glad about such a great caste system I wonder?

anand

15 March 2014

20:25 PM

How is the woman categorized as per the definition of caste ? Are all of the women shudras as per the functions defined?

Dev

13 March 2014

18:21 PM

It seems this article by Ms. Roy appears to be more on Gandhi and his works (a synthesis of his collected works) than on Dr. Ambedkar's 'Annihilation of Caste'. Roy narrates incidents after incidents about Gandhi at both in South Africa and back in India. I expected Ms. Roy to write a commentary on Dr. Ambedkar's work- his views on Shudras, Untouchables, Buddha or Karl Marx, Buddha and his Dhamma etc. which origin from the mouth of Annihilation of Caste. Moreover, i also sincerely feel (not to discredit Ms. Roy) some other scholar who understand the Dalit movement would have been a much suited person for this job. Somebody who evaluate Ambedkar's work and show some reflections and directions on the future of Dr. Ambedkar's unfinished dreams.

Passerby

12 March 2014

22:38 PM

You can almost feel the desperation of the church come through in this article, this crypto christian uses her hindu roots quite craftily...as for moral freedom, who is she trying to fool, it is hinduism that gives us this more than any other religion and the abrahamic ones that have codified and turned these into commandments, but of course the author cannot see this or refuses to see it...such is her hatred and intolerance for another's faith..

Rohit Grover

12 March 2014

18:41 PM

For the first time I'm reading so many Thank You's to Arundhati Roy & no trolls . I think the idiot's are taking a break. Or maybe they are just concentrating on the elections.

Matthew Belmonte

11 March 2014

22:45 PM

Ambedkar wrote: "Now the Hindu religion, as contained in the Vedas and the smritis, is nothing but a mass of sacrificial, social, political, and sanitary rules and regulations, all mixed up." The rhetorical bait in this assertion is the assumption that a religion - *any* religion - can be 'contained' within a text - *any* text. I deny that assumption. In this denial one can be guided by close reading of the Gita: Chapter 2, verses 46, 52 and 53 voice the limits of text, which can suggest but not embody religion and morality: 46: Just as a reservoir is of little use when the whole country is flooded, scriptures are of little use to the enlightened person, who sees the Lord everywhere. 52: When your spiritual intelligence overcomes this myriad of delusion, at that time you will become indifferent towards all that has been heard and all that is to be heard. 53: When your spiritual intelligence, unaffected and uninfluenced by karmic interpretations of the Vedas, remains steady, at that time you will achieve the pure spiritual state by the science of uniting the individual consciousness with the Ultimate Consciousness. Ambedkar continued: "What is called religion by the Hindus is nothing but a multitude of commands and prohibitions. Religion, in the sense of spiritual principles, truly universal, applicable to all races, to all countries, to all times, is not to be found in them." In this assertion Ambedkar proves the point that I've described above: a text is not a religion; a text is a text. Thus with this statement Ambedkar negates his own tacit assumption (vide supra) that a religion can be 'contained' within a text. Ambedkar's argument thus does nothing but erect a straw man and knock it down. What his argument is criticising is not religion per se, but rather the prejudiced, unfair, and ultimately antithetical and immoral (mis-)interpretations imposed on religion by human beings for their own purposes or for their own comfort, so engrained over centuries and generations that they have become, to the common person, indistinguishable and not immediately separable from religion. Ambedkar's is a worthy argument and one that did and still does deserve voice and praxis. But it is not, fundamentally, a criticism of the Hindu religion. It is, rather, a criticism of those who allow ritual and custom to blind them the moral essence of religion.

Rahul

18 May 2014

10:36 AM

Dear Matthew, 46: Just as a reservoir is of little use when the whole country is flooded, scriptures are of little use to the enlightened person, who sees the Lord everywhere? The "Lord" you are talking about comes from the sacred texts of Vedas and Smritis, the theory of Chaturvarnas which has an inherent tendency to degenerate into casteism, social tyranny and oppression. Every human being has a right to welfare, equality, justice and happiness all of which were only subjected to the privileged class. We can go through all the verses and shlokas but the point is not to discuss the Gita but to understand that no religion can be called a religion if it cannot accept human beings as one and give them right to live and prosper.

Matthew Belmonte

11 March 2014

22:43 PM

"For unless a man [sic] chooses for himself, the very spirit of Hinduism is destroyed. The essence of our Faith consists simply in this freedom of the Ishta." -Vivekananda, later in the same interview that's quoted in this article. Good people who have grown up under the influence of prejudicial cultures and institutions will say good things and bad things both, and it's down to each of us to separate the two. So let's hold to those elements belief that we feel are right and true, and discard those that we believe to be wrong. (Alas, as the author observes of today's India, "The trouble is that the living are not necessarily more progressive or enlightened than the dead.")

Akanksha

10 March 2014

21:04 PM

Mam how can you condemn Dr Ambedkar or to put him equal to Gandhi merely for his aspirations for a modern and liberal India.I mean Dr Ambedkar couldn't achieve and implement what he actually aspired and struggled throughout his life.Whereas Gandhi smugly executed almost everything and anything. Secondly mam , even if modern nations like Europe are not in very good conditions today , they are still referred to as stable societies , societies that are liberal and discrimination free , merely because of strict laws and even stricter enactment. Sorry mam i strongly disagree with this point of yours. Loved the rest of the points , though.

Hasan

10 March 2014

15:56 PM

pleased to see people agree with AR on caste system. Hope indians also agree with views her Kashmir. India needs azadi from Brahiminism and kashmir needs azadi from India.

RAJESH

09 March 2014

22:09 PM

I think Ambedkar did more good to Hinduism than anybody else. he tried his best to renovate and give new life to the religion but failed or rather defeated at the end and himself quit at last. he was a man of great caliber and was the foremost reformer during his lifetime.he had in depth knowledge in the field of economics, law and politics. Annihilation of caste is one of the gem among his contributions. and Ms Arundhathi Roy indeed did a great work by having this introductory essay on it

Vijay

09 March 2014

01:28 AM

It was a nice read. Obviously well researched and well written. The passion comes through clearly. A couple of points though: 1. As a Tamil Brahmin, I am very vary of such rhetoric against "Brahminism" which has been going on for decades in my state. Although I think Ms. Roy would probably say that she has nothing against Brahmins and opposes only Brahminism, she needs to understand that the practical manifestation of such rhetoric is not as discriminating. 2. I remember reading a book (forget by whom) where Jesus turns out to be a Jewish fanatic hell bent on violence against the Romans, while Paul ignores everything he says and creates a tolerant religion. In the same vein, it must be acknowledged that the custodians of Gandhi's legacy have created a picture that represents the best of mankind. If Gandhi were born today, he would probably be happy to embrace the positions he is supposed to stand for, irrespective of whether he actually stood for them in his own time. This phenomenon is not acknowledged in what seems to be a prejudiced attack on him. 3. The article gives no quarter to the evolution of a human being towards decency. Gandhi was bad and racist at 24 and hence he was bad - period. This is not how life works. I would not be proud of many things I did at 24 if they were played back to me exactly as they happened. However, I look at them in the context of my understanding of the world at that age and reconcile the facts in my own mind to make them seem less damaging than they probably were. This in no way should diminish whatever good I may be able to do from now till the end my days. Ms. Roy should strive to be less angry and more forgiving. I am sure the Mahatma would agree!

Sati

08 March 2014

00:39 AM

But in my view Mahatma Gandhi broke is own Gandhi tatava(principal) by making Nehru as first PM of this great country instead of Sardar :( ...On cast system ,In modern Hindustan the caste definition is came from British/Other invaders ..which is followed by our modern political system for their won selfish motive ..Example our Maharushi Valmiki is SC in present India caste system, but he is rushi of rushi ..Manusmurutti not defined caste on basis of birth ..It is on basis of work you do .and what you eat..

dkg

07 March 2014

19:16 PM

Miss Roy's words are mesmerizing, but her views are obtuse, and frankly, quiet harmful for the ultimate good health of the nation. Besides, it reeks of self importance and mental masturbation so often found in the views and thoughts of the so called left-liberals, specially the confused ones from India. I wouldn't take her seriously at all.

Pankaj R Pipariya

07 March 2014

17:43 PM

nice read

name

06 March 2014

16:34 PM

Indian Opinion, 16-1-1909 155. MY SECOND EXPERIENCE IN GAOL [–III] We were advised to make a sincere attempt to do our best. The work assigned to us was also light. We had to dig up pits and fill them on municipal land adjoining the main road. This allowed occasional rest. But I found from experience that, left to our conscience and our God, we are shirkers. For I observed that the men slackened in their work. It is my confirmed belief that we get a bad name because of this habit of shirking work and also that this habit is one of the reasons why our struggle is being prolonged. Satyagraha is a difficult as well as an easy method Our bona fides must not be in doubt. We bear no ill will to the Government. We do not regard it as our enemy. If we are fighting it, it is with a view to correcting its errors and making it mend its ways. We would not be happy to see it in difficulties. We believe that even our resistance is for its good. It follows from this line of reasoning that we at any rate should work to the best of our ability in gaol. If we believe that we have no moral obligation to work [hard], it is not right that we put in the full amount of work in the presence of the warder. If it is not just that we should work, then we should not submit to the warder, but resist him rather and suffer any further term of imprisonment that may be awarded to us in consequence. But there is no Indian who holds such a view. If some of them do not work [hard enough], there is no more to it than mere laziness and desire to shirk work. It does not become us thus to be lazy or to shirk work. As satyagrahis, it is our duty to do whatever work is given to us; if we worked [as well as we could] without any fear of the warder, we would

Saif

06 March 2014

15:50 PM

She is one of the most hated figures in India today because she is one of the biggest enemies of Brahminism (not to be confused with Brahmins). The damage done to the foundations of India's society by Brahminism is probably irreparable. Brahminism encourages the Upper caste to ill treat the middle caste, the middle caste to the lower caste and the lower caste to the lowest caste. And in the Indian sub-continent it transcends religions (after all we are the same people under our clothes). Arundathi is spot on when she says "Brahminism is practised not just by the Brahmin against the Kshatriya or the Vaishya against the Shudra, or the Shudra against the Untouchable, but also by the Untouchable against the Unapproachable, the Unapproachable against the Unseeable. It means there is a quotient of Brahminism in everybody, regardless of which caste they belong to." Another master piece by this great thinker. Blessed to be born during her time.

indranee

05 March 2014

06:49 AM

Cannot wait to read this book but did Arundhati Roy really write this, most awkward of sentences? "Revolutions can, and often have, begun with reading." It hurts my eyes. Oh well.

Rohit Grover

12 March 2014

18:39 PM

Nothing wrong with the sentence, I think she's tried to evoke that earlier with her writing, but this time she toned down her rhetoric & wrote mostly a factual account of events because of the mindless criticism she's received over the years. She probably compensated her rhetoric by writing this line :). Agree cant wait to read the book

Hashmi

04 March 2014

13:54 PM

Thank you Roy for a very insightful piece duly researched and put together. As a Muslim it has a special meaning and understanding for me. India should be proud of you and I can only sympathise with your detractors. More power to your pen

Siraj

04 March 2014

13:25 PM

Thanks Ms Roy for writting such a piece of excellent essay and first time I came to know about the horrific history of caste system in India and quite surprised to see that even after knowing all the ironies of caste system a lot of people still clinging to their caste. They could have taken the route as millions of muslims took a long time back, they were far courageous and bold and most importantly they paid the price for their freedom as they faced a lot of economical hardship and the price was very small compare to their freedom. As our new generation even doesn't know about what the caste system is ?. everything has a price the necessity of the time is to develop that courage and follow the message ot the saint Ambedkar and say boldly that we are free from the ironic clutches of casete system. And should not be afraid of materialistic losses that will be temperorary.

Surya

05 March 2014

15:56 PM

If conversions break the rigid caste system, I am all for conversions. Whatever it takes to rid of this evil! But did it do what it set out to do? Naah! Yet, that doesn't make an argument against conversion. It still could be a result of personal belief. What's the hope then? Our collective consciousness has to evolve! And it takes time.

Sharmila

03 March 2014

12:40 PM

Before labelling Dr.Ambedkar as 'westernize' Arundhati Roy should have read his book,' The Buddha And His Dhamma' which is the culmination of all his philosophies in which he not only had restrustrued buddhism but also reinterpreted it .

Vikram

03 March 2014

04:10 AM

Concerns about Brahmin-Bania domination of India's intellectual, economic, and cultural space are indeed valid but the main axis of caste oppression in India today is not the Brahminical varna, but the more clan and blood based jati. The atrocities against Dalits are committed overwhelmingly by castes like Jats, Yadavs, Patels and Vanniyars which are placed below the Bania and Brahmin varna in the Hindu order from a varna perspective, but who now claim a higher social status than both Banias and Brahmins based on their jati and their 'martial/warrior' history. Certain Dalit subgroups are following suit, however Ambedkar's intellectualism and the Buddha's morality are a much more powerful influence on them. The Dalits will be an outstanding influence on India and the world in the years to come if they take the best from these personalities they rightfully claim. We have to continue our efforts to democratize Indian society and bring more and more voices into the public sphere and national consciousness. Roy's fantasies of revolution and polemics notwithstanding, the situation on the ground is very different, and damning the Vedas/destroying 'Hinduism'/smashing idols/blaming the Constitution (what does she propose we replace it by ?), have all been tried before and are not going to get us anywhere.

rb chennuru

26 August 2014

23:52 PM

I really appreciate ur thoughts. Upper casts, sudras, Muslims, and christians all have some thing common: sense of superiority. Dalits by virtue of their past have Humility, which no other group has. They should make use of this great virtue and help spread peace and compassion in Hindu society. But large number of dalits who reached higher positions are spreading antihindu philosophy and working as missionaries. I know their strong affinity to Christianity as it gives them social respect. But in the long run it will lead to genocides and mass murders as is happening in africa.

ananda

03 March 2014

02:57 AM

Ambedkar vs Gandhi is almost too easy a topic...and Gandhi-bashing needs no Arundhati - the hindutva-folks hate him, leftists scorn him, and of course the non-savarnas despise him (and how much of India cares anyway; Upamanyu Chatterji's novel's film version has an emblematic scene of a Gandhi-statue propped-up besides which people pee...)...i tried seeing what new angle she was bringing to this jaded topic...seriously...very little...the conflation fo caste-inequities and untouchability is good to highlight and that is to her credit...but tracing his thinking from SA to India, with those quotes about Zulus and Bantus is somehow low-hanging fruit that Roy has plucked with great delight...but that is not revelation!! So while bringing Ambdekar back to the limelight is an excellent thing - I personally deeply admire his penetrating insights - the Gandhi-Ambedkar tale gets nothing new really from Roy's meandering revisiting. I too wonder why Navayana had to hand her the honors..there are enough other scholars/activists who could have done a much better job!! Yes...but not as many people may read them...sigh...

dilip

04 March 2014

16:31 PM

//Gandhi has become all things to all people: Obama loves him and so does the Occupy movement. Anarchists love him and so does the establishment. Narendra Modi loves him and so does Rahul Gandhi. The poor love him and so do the rich… He is the Saint of the Status Quo.// Marx was venerated by Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Kim Il Sung, by this logic Marx is the saint of the Gulag Modi loves him? Do we know of the role of RSS icon VD Savarkar's role in Gandhi's murder? http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2919/stories/20121005291911400.htm Dr. Ambedkar's evidence to The Indian Statutory Commission, October 23rd 1928 // 19. Colonel Lane Fox : On which figure are the two memoranda which we have received based ? In each memorandum you ask for special representation for the depressed classes. You ask for adult suffrage in one memorandum, and you ask for special recruitment for the army and navy and so on. It is… a bigger thing if you ask for it for the aborigines and criminal tribes.. Are these privileges asked for the bigger figure or for the smaller? Dr. Ambedkar : I ask for them for the depressed classes. 20. For the aborigines and criminal classes also? Dr. Ambedkar : No. I do not think it would be possible to allow them the privilege of adult suffrage...// http://www.ambedkar.org/ambcd/14D.%20Dr.%20Ambedkar%20with%20the%20Simon%20Commission%20D. So, is Dr Ambedkar the Saint of Operation Green Hunt? Dr Ambedkar on remedies for communalism: Pakistan, or the Partition of India (pp 53-54) // That the transfer of minorities is the only lasting remedy for communal peace is beyond doubt… the population involved is inconsiderable and because some obstacles require to be removed, it would be the height of folly to give up so sure a way to communal peace… The only way to make Hindustan homogeneous is to arrange for exchange of population. Until that is done, it must be admitted that even with the creation of Pakistan, the problem of majority vs. minority will remain in Hindustan as before and will continue to produce disharmony in the body politic of Hindustan....// Do these views suffice to label Dr Ambedkar the Saint of the Hindutva brigade?

Hasan Abdullah

02 March 2014

18:44 PM

For most, if not all, of us, it is difficult to cast off our ingrained prejudices and even intellectually accept what is not in our narrow self-interest. To quote, "The philosophers have long interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it". Are the ones in advantageus position, the Haves, willing to exchange position with the discriminated, the disadvantaged, the Have-nots? Undoubtedly, the caste is an extremely powerful weapon in the hands of the powerful, as, in the name of religion, it is internalised or tacitly accepted, even by the victims. The alienation of the individual from the society that has come with the onward march of time, has also seen the weakening or loosening of the grip of caste. However, its annihilation would perhaps be possible only through a bottom-up thorough-going revolution. One wonders that why many of the 'commentators' are shy of using their full names, and the less said about their comments the better!

kk

02 March 2014

13:52 PM

1. As alleged in the article, even if Gandhiji initially had reservations against certain groups or communities, couldn't he have evolved over the years befitting his title as a Mahatma? 2. Isn't it false to proclaim that the culture of the land with its philososophy of Sanatana Dharma is just a rule book with no philosophical or mystical content pulsating in it? 3. Yes, even in an ideal world forcefully created in Stalinist Russia or Mao's China there were financial inequalities among people. 4. Budha's sangas are again segregation from the general population - an exclusivity. The same is the case of Abrahamic faiths that talk about neighbourly or brotherly love; it happens only if one joins the club. The point is; looking for a religion other than Hinduism for equality is drawing wool over one's eyes. In fact, Hinduism is the only religion which does not convert. It doesn't say 'my god is better than yours'. 5. Painting that the Indian society is static is totally false. Look at Narendra Modi ji, who hails from a so called backward caste. He is feted and supported by millions of even the 'forward communities' in his race to be the PM. 6. That shows that power has flowed and still flowing across all communities in the country. Of course, removing injustice and inequality in the world will always be a work in progress. 7. Finally, any essay which is written to incite differences and passion to bring about the growing comraderie among the communities or religions is unpardonable.

JMK

04 March 2014

16:08 PM

Hinduism does convert. See the piece on Aseemanand, which appeared in a recent issue of Caravan. He talks of some massive programs to bring adivasis into the Hindu fold.

rb chennuru

26 August 2014

23:34 PM

It is not conversion. It is home coming.If somebody takes away ur child by offering a chocolate what is wrong in trying to bring him back home ?

Afridi

02 March 2014

16:01 PM

Modi may hail from a historically oppressed caste, but he speaks the language of the oppressors. That is why power has flowed in his favour; not because of any universal upward movement of oppressed castes.

krishna

04 March 2014

04:35 AM

I believe Modi is getting support mainly for his developmental agenda (what is oppressing in that?). India has changed due to increase in literacy and connectivity and majority of India is young. Modi has a track record that he has developed his home state and created jobs. Even though caste is still not removed from modern youth psyche, it has been overtaken in priority by a desire for opportunity which is promised by industrialization and good governance. This modern outlook has loosened the shackles of caste system. I am hoping that the shackles continue to loosen and everyone gets equal opportunity in everything.

Rajiv

11 March 2014

18:37 PM

The reason why Modi is being 'pushed' to the front by the BJP and the RSS cadres, and of course fully supported and reported by a "joyfully and enthusiastically partial forward caste dominated media " ( towards BJP ), is not a sudden love for the so called backward castes or for Modi,,but because through his belligerence towards a certain minority community , he has tugged the emotional strings of the BJP supporters and they gratefully (for being a backward caste CM who fully endorses their views ) promote him enthusiastically , via newspapers articles, talk shows, SMS's, carefully drafted and formatted What'sapp messages, rigged and questionable opinion polls and manufactured trends .

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- See more at: http://www.caravanmagazine.in/reportage/doctor-and-saint#sthash.7SJf6ykL.dpuf


Reservation right, but not quota politics, says RSS

NEW DELHI, Sep 7, 2014, DHNS ;

Ahead of by-polls and Assembly elections in four states, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on Sunday said the Sangh Parivar supports reservation, but is opposed to quota politics / DH file photo

Ahead of by-polls and Assembly elections in four states, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on Sunday said the Sangh Parivar supports reservation, but is opposed to quota politics.


Bhagwat was hitting out at caste-based parties that continue to dominate the political landscape in UP and Bihar. But, two regional parties in UP—the BSP and SP—had received a setback in the parliamentary polls given the fact that the BJP was able to wean away the dalit and OBC votes, a development that was attributed by political pundits to their growing enchantment with community politics.


"We support reservation. As long as there is inequality in society, reservation is needed. To bring up those suffering from this inequality as equals, we need reservation. But there should not be any politics on that," said RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at a book launch function in the national capital.


The three books—"Hindu Khatik Jati", "Hindu Charmakar Jati" and "Hindu Valmiki Jati"—have been authored by former BJP MP Bizay Sonkar Shastri, and attempt to affirm reserved castes' religious identity by prefixing "Hindu" before each of the three titles.


The RSS chief was of the view that the underprivileged classes have tolerated injustice for too long, and it was now the turn of the more fortunate to treat as equals.


"The reasons for which they tolerated, those reasons are no longer here now, as we have gained our independence. Now our duty is to treat them as equals. To bring them up in stature, if for 100 years one has to tolerate injustice, so be it," he said.


Bhagwat virtually set a social agenda for the Narendra Modi government when he said in the presence of two Union ministers that a development-aspirant society cannot allow inequality to persist for long after Independence.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/429658/reservation-right-not-quota-politics.html

18 December, 2008

Buddhism: Beyond The Dalit Shadow

By Rahul Gade

Buddhism is spirit that has overcome the dalit shadow. Buddhism is the hope for the broken dalit. If the past has been dalit the future has to be Buddhist, anything lower would be less than honoring full human potential

12 November, 2008

Obama And Mayawati: A Comparison In Contrast

By S.R.Darapuri

From a brief comparison between Obama and Mayawati it becomes evident that it is not very appropriate because there is a world of difference between their personalities and deeds. Rather it can be said to be a comparison in contrast. Obama is to be judged in the near future but Mayawati has already been judged

03 November, 2008

Ayyankali: Legacy Of Organic Protest

By Muhammed Nafih

Book review- Ayyankali:A Dalit Leader of Organic Protest by Nisar.M.and Meena Kandasamy

26 October, 2008

Peace, Non-Violence And Secularism

In Dalit Perspective

By Ratnesh Katulkar

Ignorance and negligence of Dalit ideology by the mainstream secularists and the upper-class Muslims are harming Muslims to fall prey before Hindu fascist and it is dangerous in building the real foundation of secularism in India

24 October, 2008

The Struggle Of Dalitbahujan For Their Identity

And In Quest Of Their Spiritual And Political Destiny

By Dr. Kancha Ilaiah

Speech delivered on the occasion of presentation of 'LISA Book Award – 2008 for 'Why I am Not a Hindu'

18 September, 2008

Why Go For Conversion?

By Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

In 1935 at Nasik district, Maharashtra, Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar had declared his firm resolve to change his religion. He had declared that he was born as a Hindu but will not die as Hindu. About a year later, a massive Mahar conference was held on May 30 and 31, 1936, in Mumbai, to access the impact of that declaration on Mahar masses. In his address to the conference, Dr.Ambedkar expressed his views on conversion in an elaborate, well- prepared and written speech in Marathi. Here is an English translation of that speech by Mr.Vasant Moon, OSD to the committee of Govt. of Maharashtra for publication of Writings & speeches of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar

02 September, 2008

Even In Flood, India's `Untouchables' Last Rescued

By Gavin Rabinowitz

In the two weeks since a monsoon-swollen river burst its banks, ancient prejudices have run just as deep as the floodwaters. India's "untouchables" are the last to be rescued — if at all — from a deluge that has killed dozens and made 1.2 million homeless

What Mayawati Has Done To The Dalits Of U.P.?

By S.R.Darapuri

Without a vision and definite Dalit liberation agenda the attaining of political power is not going to solve the problems of the Dalits as well as that of the State. Structural changes and improvement in the delivery system only can remove the poverty syndrome prevailing amongst the Dalits. Grass-root level movements are the key to keep the political leaders under control and make them answerable to the people

31 August, 2008

"Let The Hindus Also Do Missionary Work"

By Kancha Ilaiah & Yoginder Sikand

Interview:Kancha Ilaiah on Dalit-Bahujans, Hinduism and Spiritual Fascism

Dr. Ambedkar On Women Liberation

By Ratnesh Katulkar

Dr. Ambedkar's first academic paper "Caste in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development" also begins with his concern towards women, where he located the linkages between caste and gender by observing that "Superimposition of endogamy on exogamy means creation of caste" and concluded that there is no divine or natural cause of origin of caste but Brahmins of ancient India craftily designed it by enclosing their class through means of controlling and subjugating their woman

15 August, 2008

Dalit Digital Media:- Shuddering

The Hinduized News Media!! Part I

By Saint

Anyone who goes through these alternate digital news blogs and sites would appreciate the sear knowledge, straightforward analysis of events by these individual writers can stand distinctively than that of Times of India, Hindu or New York Times. Is this is the beginning of demolishing the bigotry in the established trational media in the world which is simply owned by few people and they make billions through selling news that are made up stories, to the most part, but nothing to do with helping people and uplifting the needy society?

18 June, 2008

"Only Ash Knows The Experience Of Burning"

By Dr. Nilanshu Kumar Agarwal & Dr. Jai Prakash Kardam

An Interview with Dalit Writer Jai Prakash Kardam

06 June, 2008

Gujjars Of Rajasthan And S.T. Status

By Dr Javaid Rahi

This article examines whether the ST demands of Gujjars of Rajasthan is a genuine one and is it falling within the criteria of ST status as provided by Schedule Tribes Act

19 April, 2008

Dalits In U.P. Face Hunger Deaths And Suicides

By S.R.Darapuri

When George Bush is admonishing India for eating too much, Dalits in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh face hunger deaths and suicides

18 April, 2008

The Tikait Treatment

By Ravikiran Shinde

Jat leader Mahendra Singh Tikait finally surrendered meekly before the court after resisting arrest by UP Police. The dust has finally settled two weeks after his castiest remarks but it has raised a serious question. How 'normal' is the casteist abuse in day to day life of Dalits? If a chief minister can be abused publicly, what does it speak of common Dalits?

04 April, 2008

Mayawati's Burgeoning Wealth: Who Gains?

By S.R.Darapuri

In April, 2007 while filing her nomination papers for Assembly elections Mayawati had declared her assets to be worth Rs. 52 crores. While filing her income tax return for the assessment year 2008-09 she estimated her income to be Rs. 60 crores and had deposited Rs. 15 crores as advance tax. The actual income is likely to exceed this estimate at the end of this financial year. Now the question arises as to what are the sources of her income and what are the consequences of this amassing of wealth by her. It is also pertinent to discuss as to apart from Mayawati who else are the beneficiaries of this money game. What is the loss and gain of Dalits in this game of exchange of money?

26 Februay, 2008

What Reservation Implies?

By Amit Chamaria

"Caste reveals work or work reveals Caste"-these seem to be different in writings but are still carrying a similar message for the prevailing complex realities in a country like India. This fact is clearly reflected when the Central government and the Haryana state government associate the caste identity closely with work or vice- versa. It means - if some one belongs to a lower caste, he/she is bound to work as Safai Karamchari or very similar to this avocation

11 Februay, 2008

Stuck In A Hole

By Ashok Bharti

Despite committees, schemes and five-year plans, manual scavenging thrives in India. Ashok Bharti tells the story of failed reforms

21 Januay, 2008

Norwegian Medicine For Vedanta

By Kavaljit Singh

At the face of protest from the Dongria Kondh tribals of the Niyamgiri hilly region of Orissa Norwegian sovereign fund sells off its stake in Vedanta Resources which was preparing to build the upcoming $850 million aluminium refinery and bauxite mining project at Lanjigarh

18 December, 2007

Manual Scavenging: Nations Shame

By Sunil Kuksal

Despite laws abolishing the inhuman practice of manual scavenging, over a million dalits in 'superpower India' are caught in a vortex of severe social and economic exploitation. Cleaning and carrying headloads of human excreta, these 'night soil'

17 December, 2007

The Adivasi Question In Assam

By Moirangthem Prakash

Recent violence involving Assam's adivasis highlights the region's uniquely complex realities

05 December, 2007

Ambedkar As A Human Rights Defender

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Ambedkar championed the cause of the down trodden. But to confine him to mere as a leader of Dalits will do him great injustice. He was the most accompalished political leader and philosopher among his contemporaries.No human rights discourse in India could be complete with out detailed discussion on the outstanding work of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar

05 November, 2007

Equal Rights And Opportunities

By Nishikant Waghmare

Why the upper castes are not interested in giving up caste? Because caste (jati) helps him to exploit his fellowmen better — as it has a theological sanction under the Hindu religion. In the jungle of Hinduism this law has the blessings of its sacred scriptures. That is why in India wealth is getting accumulated in the bands of top 10% to 15% of the upper castes and the rest are getting pauperised. And yet there is no public debate on the merits of caste anywhere, not even among our university eggheads

25 October, 2007

Is It Emancipation Or Elimination Of

The Scavengers In Laar Town (Deoria)

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

In the eastern Uttar-Pradesh, they do not use the term Balmikis/Valmiks for the sweeper. Instead there are people from the communities of Rawats, Bansfors, Helas, Mehtars who are engaged in scavenging work. Many of the women narrated their plight and how they wish to get out of the scavenging hell

12 October, 2007

Hated, Humiliated, Butchered

By Mahasweta Devi

The mob murder of Nats in Bihar was no accidental atrocity, writes an outraged Mahasweta Devi. It was the consequence of preserved brutalities

07 October, 2007

Dalit Theology

By Sathianathan Clarke & Yoginder Sikand

Sathianathan Clarke talks about what Dalit Theology means to him in an interview with Yoginder Sikand

02 October, 2007

In Conversation With Mr Bhagwan Das

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

'It is good to break and bad to continue with a tradition that has subjugated the Dalits'

27 September, 2007

Land After Thirty Years Of 'Entitlement'

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Story of Land Reclamation of Dalits in village Rupchandrapur

13 August, 2007

Tsundur : A New Milestone In

The Movement For Dalit Emancipation

By Subhash Gatade

As rightly noted by an analyst the victory ( albeit a partial one) at Tsundur has come as breath of fresh air in the already smouldering world of dalit oppression. And it is high time that its fragrance is spread far and wide, so that people are told that oppressed people united would always be victorious

25 July, 2007

Hungry World Of Dalits In Poorvanchal

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Four districts of Poorvanchal (Eastern Uttar-Pradesh) namely Maharajganj, Kushingar, Deoria and Gorakhpur witness the dance of death every year. Two of these district Kushinagar and Gorakhpur were selected for the NREGA programme while Maharajganj has also been selected for the same from this year. All these districts saw a large number of deaths due to hunger and malnutrition despite all these programmes

16 July, 2007

Will Dalit Christians Get Justice?

By M. Madhu Chandra

After constitutional denial of Scheduled Caste origins converted to Christianity and Muslims after the Presidential Order 1950, a million dollar question remains in the minds of Indian Dalit Christians "Will the Judicial system of India give justice to Indian Dalit Christians now after 57 years of injustice done to them?"

03 June, 2007

India's Lower Castes

By Nishikant Waghmare

An empowered India bereft of the respect for women, values of civilised existence and morality will collapse in the face of the disaffection and discontent of those who have suffered for centuries. Day in and day out we take pride in claiming that India has a 5000-year-old civilization. But the way the Dalits and those suppressed are being treated by the people who wield power and authority speaks volumes for the degradation of our moral structure and civilized standards

01 June, 2007

The Only Solution To Reservation Imbroglio

By Satinath Choudhary

100% reservation for all segments of the society (as far as practicable) is the best way for amicable and peaceful coexistence. Otherwise a segment that has bigger control over power will succeed in appointing larger and larger percentage of its members to positions of power leading to what we currently see in the judiciary, armed forces and the media

20 May, 2007

India's Political Quake- Mayawati

By Ravikiran Shinde

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati is the winner. After handsomely winning the assembly elections in the biggest state in India, she has declared that she is on her way to capture "Delhi" and that plans to give UP the best government and Sarvasamaj (all sections of the society) the power to share with her

12 May, 2007

Defining Moment Of Dalit Empowerment

In Uttar-Pradesh

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Dalits defeats Hindutva with the help of Brahmins: Will it work?

09 May, 2007

Dalits, Panchayat Raj And Power Equations

By Goldy M. George

It is evident that the upper castes controlled the affairs of the village cannot tolerate the changes being brought about by the decentralized democratic institutions. In the backdrop of such incidences an array of question raises with reference to Panchayat Raj vis-à-vis Dalits. The initial prediction of decentralization envisioned through Panchayat Raj hasn't become a reality. It also tells us how Panchayat Raj is utilised as a tool of disempowerment of Dalits and consolidation of caste system

02 May, 2007

Mandal II: The Struggle For

An Egalitarian Society

By Feroze H. Mithiborwala

India is again in the midst of an OBC upsurge and this "MANDAL II" has been instigated and provoked by the Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and Lokeshwar Singh Panta. This two bench judgement has issued an interim order staying the Reservations of OBC's in higher educational institutions and this has sent convulsions across the political and social landscape

24 April, 2007

Get Under Society's Skin

By Gail Omvedt

The Supreme Court's recent decision and reiteration to stay the order regarding OBC admissions until accurate data is available has brought forth the expected reactions. Defenders of 'equality' won by ignoring caste are hailing it; proponents of reservations are trying to put on a brave face. But in one way, the decision is helpful: the Supreme Court has given cogent arguments for the need for information to underlay policy. However, what many of the opponents of reservations may not appreciate is that this brings up squarely, once again, the argument for a caste-based census

19 April, 2007

Status Of Manual Scavengers In Laar, Deoria

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Time has come for all of us to scrutinize government's programmes and action to eliminate manual scavenging and take the officials of the department to task. India's 9% growth rate or shining India is absolutely farcical if this large community remains outside the ambit of global change

13 April, 2007

Valmiki's Illustrious Son Challenges The Hegemony Of

Knowledge And Merit In India

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Profile: Dr Bachchu Lal Valmiki

31 March, 2007

Mandal Will Have The Last Laugh

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Shockingly, the judgments in the past few years reflect of the growing trend to keep the middle classes happy. We have judges who speak for Hindutva terming it as a way of life. We have a former Supreme Court Judge who did not implicate a single politician in the anti Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984 and later became a Member of Parliament against all the ethics of impartiality of an institution. Right to Strike was also banned by the Kerala Highcourt, which was appreciated by the media and industries

27 March, 2007

Touch Me Not

By Chandi Sinnathurai

Nazism was based on racial purity and superiority. The system of Casteism determines a human's destiny purely on the basis of caste. If Nazism and slavery were abolished, why then Casteism cannot be demolished and its evils uprooted?

24 March, 2007

The Case Of Academic Complicity In The Violence

Against Dalit And Dalit Women In India

By Abhinaya Ramesh

I wish to suggest to the UN related researches that unless sufficient scrutiny is not done by the respective authorities such reports should not be published because they are intentionally crammed with deceived information to create the confusion and further delay in the justice to the relevant communities

25 February, 2007

Status Of Manual Scavengers

In Gorakhpur, Uttar-Pradesh

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Ram Bhuvan & Kirti Singh

Scavenger community has all along been living in the urban areas serving the middle classes, upper elites, feudal lords, Hindus and Muslims every one alike, yet none of them ever bothered whether they have cared and bothered about those who clean their shit, enter deep into the sewage pit to continue the sewage line. In the coming days, we are going to cover a large part of Uttar-Pradesh and bring reports on this aspect

16 February, 2007

Dr. B.R.Ambedkar's Contribution

To Buddhist Education In India

By Nishikant Waghmare

Buddhism makes enlightenment the sole aim of life. This was the philosophy that Ambedkar accepted and tried to revive. Besides this there was another reason. Buddha, whose life and movement Ambedkar had studied, was a believer of the educatability and the creativity of the people. Under the influence of those teachings, the most rejected peoples of India has once risen and uplifted their life as well as that of the whole society. If that was once possible in India, it must be possible again. He had a solid historical basis to trust India's ordinary folk as India's future democrats

07 February, 2007

Debating Discrimination, Differences

And Dissent In Our Part Of The World

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

The issue of racial discrimination has been in the news for quite some time. Some Indian pretended that they have been discriminated against in Britain while rarely speaking that India does not have its own house in order. Despite 60 years of independence India has not been able to transform itself into a modern state

03 February, 2007

A Tribute To M A Khan

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Remembering a man who committed his life for the tribals of Sonbhadra

30 December, 2006

P.K. Mahanandia: Salute To A Living Legend

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

A Dalit as India's cultural Ambassador in Europe

Democracy And Reinforced Building

By Amit Chamaria

Almost 90% of decision- makers in the English language print media and 79% in television are of the upper caste, although the upper castes are about 16% of the country population; Brahmin alone constitute 49% of this segment, and 71% of the total are upper caste men

23 December, 2006

Shame, Not In Doha But In India

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

I hope that India will grow simultaneously with diversity and dissent in the coming years. How can a nation and a society grow with such scandalous officials and reporters who criminalise the sexual deformity of a person and whose fight for people's right confine to the cases of certain high profile cases of page three parties, and who continue to ignore the bigger issues of dissent and disgust in India and whose ignorant reporters can simply call these dissenters as terrorists or Naxalites, both clearly meant for Muslims and Dalits respectively in the unofficial code of the officials too

20 December, 2006

Is Death Better Than Life For

Mushahars Of Kushingar

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

While politicians in Uttar-Pradesh are preparing for polls, the Mushahars, Bansfors and other such marginalized communities think of meal next day

06 December, 2006

Khairlanji: Conspiracy Of Silence

Government agency report agency report indicts officials in Khairlanji massacre

04 December, 2006

Hindutva Strategies And Dalit Movement

By Ram Puniyani

Book review of Vidya Bhushan Rawat's book "Ambedkar, Ayodhya aur Dalit Andolan"

02 December, 2006

A New Dalit Movement Emerging From Maharastra ?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

The uprising in Maharastra has a signal for the self styled mainstream Dalit political leaders and parties. Mend your ways or get lost as the young Dynamic Dalit leadership would emerge out of a crisis from Maharastra. It is certain that incidents like Khairlanji and Gohana would fuel the Dalit anger and turn them to streets. Out of this anger and frustration would emerge a leadership which would not compromise like their leaders

Why Are Maharashtra's Dalits So Angry?

By Kalpana Sharma

Instead of looking at whether the protests by Dalits against the Khairlanji incident and against the desecration of Ambedkar's statue were "spontaneous" or part of an organised plan, we need to understand the basis of this fury

01 December, 2006

Khairlanji's Strange And Bitter Crop

By Satya Sagar

The latest incidence of this 'strange and bitter crop' was in Khairlanji, a small village in Bhandara distict near Nagpur in the western Indian province of Maharashtra and a horrific 'harvest' it was too

18 November, 2006

Khairlanji : All Nero's Brethren

By Subhash Gatade

Looking at the fact that a militant mass movement has arisen to protest the killings, one can surmise that the legal wranglings in the Kherlanji massacre would not lead us to a blind alley and the perpetrators of the massacre would receive exemplary punishment. But there is no guarantee that it would be the case

14 November, 2006

Khairlanji's Dalit Victims Want

Justice With Dignity

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

The fire of Khairlanji in Bhandara district of Maharastra refuse to recede and has now entered in Delhi also

10 November, 2006

N.G.Uke: Remembering A True Humanist

By V.B. Rawat & N.G.Uke

N.G.Uke, a great Ambedkarite, a friend and guide died on November 4th, 2006 at his Vasant Kunj residence at the age of 82. Uke Saheb, as I would fondly call him was among the rare breed of Ambedkarite who saw Baba Saheb and was selected by him as a scholar though he had already got the same

31 October, 2006

An Open Letter To Rajdeep Sardesai

By Ravikiran Shinde

If you feel you have been at fault, then better be late than never. Cover the Kherlanji case and its legal proceedings. Awake the people on the gruesome caste realities in India. Telecast a half and hour program dedicated specially to Dalit atrocities every week

19 October, 2006

Buddha As Untouchable

By Raja Sekhar Vundru

Buddhism in India has a predominantly Dalit following, as a result of the revival by Ambedkar. For this reason, it appears that our society prefers to treat Buddha as an untouchable. In 2005, this event, which attracted an estimated 10 lakh people to Nagpur, escaped the national media attention

10 October, 2006

A Tribute To Kanshiramji

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

If India's politics has grown through a radical change with Dalit becoming the mainstream political force, the one man who made is possible was Kanshi Ram. He worked diligently and religiously to develop a cadre who could bring the party to National mainstream and ultimately to the power in Uttar-Pradesh

30 September, 2006

Building Up A New Movement Against Scavenging:

Tirunalveli's Dalits Show The Way

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Gram Udhayam is a great reflection of the power and vision of Dalits all over India. Their achievement would definitely help the communities living in other parts of the country to think about their self and work for a socio cultural revolution that would free from the bondage of the caste based discrimination

28 September, 2006

India's Shame: Some Unanswered Questions

From The Frontline Reports

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Those who create a fascinating world of 'great' social cohesion outside West Bengal should try to sneak into the den and report independently on the conditions of Dalit in West Bengal. Hiding the pathetic condition of Dalits in West Bengal and particularly that of the scavengers is the bigger shame for India

27 Sepember, 2006

Mayawati: "No Promises,

No Manifesto, Only Performance"

By Vidya Subrahmaniam & Mayawati

Mayawati: "The BSP is more a social revolution, a political movement than a political party." - An Interview

24 September, 2006

Past As Living Present: Calamity And Discrimination

By Subhash Gatade

Water is said to be a great leveler. But even the ravaging flood waters which have created a havoc like situation in the districts of Barmer and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan just failed to crack an age old structure - the walls between caste

21 July, 2006

Indian Dalits: Law As Paper Tiger!

By Subhash Gatade

Thus India, a country of billion plus people, which is itching to get a superpower status, which takes pride in its ancient tradition and culture and whose elite goes gaga over the booming sensex, rather presents a strange spectacle of a nation. But a close look at the goings on within the society makes it clear that there is a disjunction between the world of economics and the lifeworlds of its people. The core of the society bears its encounter with barbarism in abundance

11 July, 2006

Ghettos Of A New Kind-Autonomy And Discrimination

By Subhash Gatade


The heated debate revolving around 'autonomy' of AIIMS ( All India Institute of Medical Sciences) and its alleged 'intrusion' has papered over the quantum jump in the discrimination faced by the reserved category students there. 'Parts of AIIMS hostels are turning into SC/ST ghettos. Reserved category students said they were being "hunted out of the remaining rooms" by upper-caste students and driven to two floors of the hostels.'

10 July, 2006

Racism And Castiesm

By Jai Birdi & Indira Prahst


"Racism and Castiesm discussed at the World Peace Forum" By Jai Birdi Chair, Ending Racism Casteism Working Group for World Peace Forum and Indira Prahst, Race and Ethnic Relations Instructor, Department of Sociology, Langara College

08 May, 2006

Reservation Debate: A Great Opportunity

To Restrengthen Dalit Bahujan Alliance

By V.B.Rawat

It is time the Dalits, backwards, Adivasis come together and give a fitting reply. Organise debates and debunk the upper caste merit

22 April, 2006

War Against Naxals In Chhatishgarh:

Will Brahmanical Alternative Work

By V.B.Rawat

If the government wants to tackle the Naxal threat it has to introspect on its own position. It cannot deny tribals and Dalit their legitimate right over their resources. If the state apparatus continue to become more brahmanical by giving huge, palatial land to the corrupt Babas while the marginalized languish of hunger and malnutrition, nothing will move

18 April, 2006

Why Reservation For OBC Is A Must

By V.B.Rawat

Let Reform mean breaking age old Brahmanical hegemony

31 March, 2006

Fake Dalits, Bogus Tribals?

Whither Affirmative Action

By Subhash Gatade

While one is aware of the non filling of seats meant for scheduled castes and scheduled tirbes in various institutions of education and other employement opportunities, the filling of such seats with fake dalits or bogus tribals is a phenomenon which has rarely received the attention it deserves

20 March, 2006

Why Do India's Dalits Hate Gandhi?

By Thomas C. Mountain

As Dalits organize themselves and begin to challenge caste based rule in India, it behooves all people of good conscience to start to find out what the Dalits and their leadership are fighting for. A good place to start is with M.K. Gandhi and why he is so hated by Dalits in India

02 March, 2006

Re-reading Periyar

By Ravikumar

There are many appelations attached to Periyar, the main one being the saviour of the Untouchables. But instead of debating whether we should accept 'their god' as 'our god', the question is whether Periyar deserves to be regarded as the saviour of the untouchables?

15 February, 2006

Exposing An Abhorrent Practice

By S Viswanathan

Review of "India Stinking: Manual Scavengers in Andhra Pradesh and their work" By Gita Ramaswamy published by Navayana

30 January, 2006

Dawn Of Dalit?

By Ashok K Singh

A three-day seminar held recently to debate and deliberate on introducing Dalit Studies in universities provided fascinating insights into the space this emerging but exciting area of research could occupy in higher education

08 December, 2005

Salam Bhimrao!

By Goldy M. George

The only way to salute Bhimrao is by truly standing against oppressive structure, for equality and justice

31 October, 2005

Stranger In Their Own Land

By V.B.Rawat

150 kilometer away from Vishakapattanam towards Orissa in the Akru Valley and Anantgiri Mandal areas, Malaria has emerged as a major epidemic killing about 2000 people in two months

25 October, 2005

Untouchability In A Flat World

By Kancha Ilaiah

My visit to the famous Wheaton College in Chicago to deliver two lectures on caste and untouchability was an eye-opening experience. It struck me how students remained ignorant of the world around them even in a globalised world. It is an alarming thought that these are the future citizens of the world

05 October, 2005

Ali Anwar's Struggle

By Ali Anwar &Yoginder Sikand

Ali Anwar is the founder of the Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz ('Marginalised Muslim Front'), Patna, Bihar, a union of several Dalit Muslim and Backward Caste Muslim organisations. In this interview with Yoginder Sikand, he talks about his involvement in the struggle for the rights of the Backward Caste/Dalit Muslims

30 September, 2005

Ilayaperumal: A Dalit In The Congress

By Ravikumar

An important Dalit leader L Elayaperumal died at the age of 82 on September 9 in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu. What BP Mandal did for the OBC-shudras, Elayaperumal did for the Dalits way back in 1969. However, given that Elayaperumal was a Dalit in the Congress, his report was never implemented

28 September, 2005

Iyothee Thass & The Politics Of Naming

By Ravikumar

Today, even uttering the name of Iyothee Thass in the Tamil public sphere has become an act of a rebellion. The Dravidian parties, communists and Tamil nationalists - nobody has any regard for Thass. No wonder his name has been dropped from the National Center for Siddha Research. This is an insult not just to Dalits but Tamils as such

27 September, 2005

A New Order For Today

By Chandrabhan Prasad

Strange as this might sound, several constituents of Indian society are turning abnormal. Unnoticed by sociologists, this exceptional phenomenon is taking place on a mass scale

23 September, 2005

Dalits In Pakistan

Book Review By Yoginder Sikand

Caste, the scourge of Hinduism, is so deeply entrenched in Indian society that it has not left the adherents of Islam, Sikhism, Christianity and Buddhism-theoretically egalitarian religions-unaffected. So firmly rooted is the cancer of caste in the region that it survives and thrives in neighbouring Pakistan, where over 95% of the population are Muslims

10 September, 2005

Guilty Of Gohana- In Search Of The Real Perpetrators

By Subhash Gatade

On 31 st August the town of Gohana witnessed burning of 50-60 houses belonging to Valmiki community in broad daylight. As it has been reported in the media a 1,500-2,000 strong of mob of upper caste people mainly belonging to the Jat community attacked their houses in a systematic manner

04 September, 2005

The Brahmanic Conspiracy

By Revd. Barnabas Alexander & Dr. Kristoffson Somanader

Cultural/spiritual corruption came via the Brahmins as they conspired to enslave the Tamils, inter alios, politically, intellectually, and spiritually

Buddha, The Feminist

By Chandrabhan Prasad

According to a UNICEF study conducted in 1984 in Mumbai, out of 8,000 sex determination cases, where fetuses were terminated, 7,999 were of females. According to another study, in Jaipur alone, about 3,500 female fetuses are terminated annually

23 August, 2005

Dalit Situation In Tamil Nadu

By K. Nagaraj

Painstaking chronicle of the deprivations, discriminations and atrocities faced by the Dalits in Tamil Nadu

17 August, 2005

Let's Talk Representation

If Reservation Is Against Merit

By V.B.Rawat

The supreme court verdict on the issue of unaided minority institution gives a freehand to the people who have always wanted the education to be the domain a few people and communities. Unfortunately, these institutions serving in the name of minorities will end up creating more brahmins for our country. The very purpose of educating poor andminorities gets defeated

11 August, 2005

Reservations In Private Sector:Not A Charity,

But A Social Necessity

By Dr. K. Vidyasagar Reddy

This concept of private reservation cannot be considered as charity, but a right from a government that exposed its hollowness. Further, it is a necessity as the government failed to create jobs to its qualified aspirants

09 August, 2005

Dalit movement At The Cross Road

By V.B.Rawat

It is time for us to provide our own democratic secular progressive vision and rather then just work on an agitation mode forever. We need to introspect and bring the last man into our mainstream, otherwise these contradiction are powerful enough to destroy the legacy of a powerful man, named as Ambedkar

23 July, 2005

Reservations- By Merit or birth?

By Vimlaksh Gautam

The caste Hindus have to realise that reservation is a direct result of our unkind past and it will take some adjustment and understanding on their behalf when the SC/ST's feel confident enough to pursue their progress without any state help

03 June, 2005

Cultural History And Emergent Dalit Alternatives

By Goldy M. George

Dalit's search for alternative media is in fact the search for a counter-culture, that will stand as a paradigm to protect human existence; re-write history and evolve a new culture of love and caring

02 June, 2005

Education For Wealth Creation

By Chandrabhan Prasad

Around 30 million Dalit and Adivasi children are enrolled in thousands of primary schools. Out of them, 49.35 per cent drop out before joining junior high school

22 May, 2005

Muslim-Dalit Relations

By Gail Omvedt

A solid Dalit-Muslim alliance for the future should be directed to building a prosperous, equalitarian, caste- and patriarchy-freeIndia

27 April, 2005

The Question Of Dalit Human Rights

By Goldy M. George

The question of Dalit Human Right is not just a matter of addressing the atrocities, but at large it corroborates to the affirmation of land rights of Dalits, resisting the forces of globalisation, communalism, casteism, patriarchy and so on. This paves the way for collective action

23 April, 2005

A President To Be Proud Of

By Mari Marcel Thekaekara

Interviewing the former President of India, K.R. Narayanan, was an experience. One wanted his personal story to be incorporated into the school syllabus, for Dalit children to have a role model. So that they would be able to dream dreams beyond buckets and brooms...

19 April, 2005

Display Dalit Power

By Chandrabhan Prasad

Compared to the American Blacks, the Dalits have nothing but small grocery shops or manufacturing units here and there which don't find any mention even in the community's media

12 April, 2005

Growing Discontent Of Adivasis In Assam

By Kirti Mishra

Across Assam, the Adivasis face multiple deprivations which have their root in the historic exclusion and denial of tribal status to the community

22 March, 2005

No Land Even For Burial

By C.K Janu ,Jaison Chacko & Subhash Gatade

"Adivasis are the real owners of land. Our lands were snatched away from us. None of the governments came into power in the state took any serious initiative to provide this land back to these real owners." An interview with C.K. Janu, leader of the indigenous people of Kerala

10 March, 2005

Sustaining The Mutuality Of Life

By Goldy M George

An enquiry into the sustainable life style practices of the dalit and tribal population in the Indian state of Chattisgarh

06 March, 2005

From Manu To Manav

By Chandrabhan Prasad

There is a conflict brewing between the OBCs and the Dalit in North India. But will it lead it to a historic alliance between Brahmins and Dalits, asks Chandrabhan Prasad

22 February, 2005

De-Brahminise The Dalit

By Prem Pati & Yoginder Sikand

"Well, I would strongly urge de-Brahminisation or de-Sanskritisation of the Dalits, so as to liberate them from the trap in which 'upper' caste religious practices and beliefs have ensnared them"

17 February, 2005

The Logic Of Affirmative Action

By Sarbeswar Sahoo

Those who have been victimized in history have to be compensated through assured educational opportunities and income; so that the social injustice and inequality imposed by the caste system could someway be reduced

16 February, 2005

Needed A Tsunami To Destroy

The Ugly Relic Of Varna System

By V.B.Rawat

This Tsunami, on whose destruction we all are crying, have not been able to demolish the most powerful and destructive system of caste in India. Perhaps, we need a stronger Tsunami to destroy the ugly relic of caste system and racial discrimination from our society

Recognize Dalit Muslims

By Anand Bharat

A clear identification of Dalit Muslims and recognition their political and social needs will help bring together Dalit Muslims and Dalits, which can prove strong bulwark against the fundamentalist force working against them

14 February, 2005

'Dalit Voice' Speaks Out

By V.T Rajshekar & Yoginder Sikand

An interview with V.T.Rajshekar, the editor of the Bangalore-based English fortnightly 'Dalit Voice'. Here he speaks to Yoginder Sikand on various aspects of the Dalit movement and about Dalit-Muslim Relations

31 January, 2005

A Dalit Experience At WSF

By Zeynep Toufe

The experiences of a woman activist who participated a dalit panel discussion at WSF

28 January, 2005

Rise Of Dalit Assertion Is The First Sign Of

Defeat Of Brahmanical System

By V.B.Rawat

Tsundur's Dalits set an example for others to emulate in their fight against the tyranny of the upper castes

Calamity And Prejudice

By Subhash Gatade

All of us have been witness as well participant in the campaign to help the victims of Tsunami at some level or the other. But it is a moot question why 'Tsunami faced by the dalits daily' has escaped our attention till date

13 January, 2005

Dalits Fight Tsunami Daily

By Udit Raj

Caste continues to batter Dalit tsunami victims in India. Most of the Dalits have not been allowed to share the relief material like food, shelter, medicine, toilets and others. Dalits are forced to carry water in plastic bags and are not allowed to use the water from tanks put up by the UNICEF

11 January, 2005

Looking At India Through African Eyes

By Runoko Rashidi

A travel perspective

07 December, 2004

Dalits Ask For Justice In West Bengal

By V.B.Rawat

Unlike other states and municipalities where officially scavenging is prohibited, in progressive Bengal, the Municipal Corporation feel it is its duty to get the manual scavenging done from the migrant Balmikis

06 December, 2004

Why Gandhi Lost And Ambedkar Won

By Shivam Vij

Mayawati, Mulayam and Laloo symbolise political empowerment of 'low' castes, without which you would have had, by now, a million Naxalite mutinies in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. But economic empowerment continues to elude large masses of Dalits

The Rs 300-Billion Club

By Chandrabhan Prasad

Thanks to reservation, there is a Dalit middle class in India which is a discerning customer of goods and services. Whatever they earn from the State, they spend on India's private sector. So, purely from a business angle, shouldn't the private sector come forward to confront the Rs 300 billion question an embrace reservations for Dalits!

01 December, 2004

Saffronization,Hinduization Or Brahminization?

By Dr. K. Jamanadas

Neither Safronization nor Hinduization denotes the true concepts the R.S.S. The proper word must be Brahminization

24 November, 2004

Big Winner In Indian Elections

Remains Best Kept Secret

By Thomas C. Mountain

The BSP increased the percentage of the national vote total it recieved in 2004 to 5.35% from 4.17% in 1999, over 25%, continuing a trend by increasing its percentage of the popular vote by nearly 50% since the 1996 election

17 November, 2004

The Power Of Sustenance

By Goldy M. George

Stories giving hope that marginalized people can lead the struggle for jusice

15 November, 2004

India's Top Secrets

By Chandrabhan Prasad

Those who condemn Lord Macaulay for imposing the 'wrong' education on India, never tell us as what was the education system which he fought, and eventually got replaced

10 November, 2004

Free Trade – A war against Dalits & Adivasis

By Goldy M. George

Dalits and Adivasis (Indigenous people) have never been the part of the conventional trade systems in India. Today they are faced with the horrible hostility of trade and market policies

Dalits In Jammu: Demanding To Be Heard

By Yoginder Sikand

Dalits account for almost a tenth of the population of Jammu and Kashmir or about a third of the population of Jammu province, but in discussions about the Kashmir question the Dalit voice is almost completely absent

03 November, 2004

Roy, The Imperialist

By Chandrabhan Prasad

Was Raja Rammohun Roy an imperialist? Well, if we read him the way Lord Macaulay is read and understood by mainstream Indians, then we may well find Roy in the British camp

27 October , 2004

Reinventing Lord Macaulay

By Chandrabhan Prasad

The greatest celestial spirit for India, code named Thomas Babington Macaulay, was born on October 25, 1800. We must be enlightened enough to take his anti-Hindu, anti-Caste views, in correct spirit. Let us celebrate the birth anniversary of one of the greatest philosophers this planet has produced, not for the Lord, but for the India shinning

08 October , 2004

Quota Means Business

By Chandrabhan Prasad

In the ongoing debate on private sector quota for Dalits, new unknown faces with no knowledge about the rights of Dalits and reservation have shown up. And it's the Indian media

03 October , 2004

Tunnel Vision

By Chandrabhan Prasad

A satirical report of a hypothetical editor's guild meeting on Dalit reservation

01 October , 2004

Reservation In Private Sector For Dalits

A Political Stunt

By Dr.Vivek Kumar


Though there is a need for the policy of affirmative action in the private sector, Dalits are not convinced that the policy will see the light of day in the near future

24 September, 2004

Iconoclast, Or Lost Idol?

By S Anand

Periyar E.V. Ramasamy broke Ganesha idols, burnt Rama portraits. But his legacy has few takers today

23 September, 2004

The Periyar Legatees

By Chandrabhan Prasad

On Periyar's 125th birth anniversary, Dalit intellectuals of Tamil Nadu are engaged in serious re-thinking on Periyar, who is fast emerging a social villain. Now, Dalits in Tamil Nadu are taking pride in distancing themselves from the Dravidian movement

17 September, 2004

Navayana-Provoking Debates

By Shanta Gokhale

Three of the first four titles released by Navayana , the new publishing house launched to open up for public debate issues of caste and identity politics ignored by mainstream publishers, are about dalithood, its manifestation, expression and representation in public life and literature

16 September, 2004

Profit Knows No Caste

By Chandrabhan Prasad


The Indian industry should free itself from "caste interest", and democratise its workforce. It is in the private sector's interest to earn more. If a Dalit engineer creates more value, then the industry must prefer Dalits to non-Dalits

08 September, 2004

Despair And Hope Of The Mahadiga

By Chandrabhan Prasad

Will there be a Dalit film festival, say by 2020? By our standards, that would be a milestone in the history of the Dalit movement, albeit half a century behind the Black movement

'Michael X, The Desperate Sectarian'

By S Anand

A rejoinder to Harsh Sethi's review of Chandra Bhan Prasad's book ''Dalit Diary 1999-2003 -Reflection on Apartheid in India''

05 September, 2004

Dronacharya Mindset

By Gail Omvedt

Western "management gurus" have recognised the value of a diversified work force and management structure. In contrast, Indian companies continue, by and large, to operate in terms of traditional values; even as they begin to compete in the world, their feet remain mired in the mud of centuries of privilege

01 September, 2004

The Indian Media And Unity 2004

By Chandrabhan Prasad

Wouldn't it be in India's interest to have dozens of Dalits as editors, news channel heads, columnists, anchors and another thousand in the newsrooms?

23 August, 2004

Atttack On Dalits At Gumka

By Tamaskar Tandon and Goldy M. George

On 16th August 2004 nearly 250 Dalits were attacked by caste Hindus numbering about 800 at the village of Gumka, in the Chattisgarh state of India. More than 150 people including 35-40 women are injuried in this gruesome attack. The police and local administration is taking a lethargic attitude towards the culprits. Here is a fact finding report

21 August, 2004

Say Yes To Affirmative Action

By Praful Bidwai

India must emulate and adapt affirmative action methods from the US and post-apartheid South Africa too. To start with, we must ensure jobs for Dalits and Adivasis roughly in proportion to their share in the population

20 August, 2004

When Priests Preside Over Newsrooms

By Chandrabhan Prasad

Editors, columnists and anchors must be contemporary in their knowledge of events taking place in the world. If they are ignorant of American diversity, then they are terribly incompetent as media professionals. If they are aware of it but afraid of diversity, then they are terribly casteist

08 August, 2004

To Gain 10, Dalits Must Score 12.5 Points

By Chandrabhan Prasad

In societies all over the world, many individuals, in moments of crises, may sacrifice societal, national interests in favour of their own existence. In sharp contrast, in India, individuals sacrifice their own interests in favour of the caste order

05 August, 2004

All For The Cow

By T.K.Rajalakshmi

On July 10,32-year-old Abdul Waaris Khan was done to death in full public view in a crowded weekly market of Barghat, in Seoni district of Madhya Pradesh for trying to sell his bull

04 August, 2004

Seoni Gang Rape - As The World Looked On

By T.K.Rajalakshmi

Gowlis, numbering around 150 broke open the door the women through the streets of Bhomatola. The women were taken behind the Panchayat Bhawan and gang-raped

02 August, 2004

Measuring Merits, And Its Apologists

By Chandrabhan Prasad

Dalits students better their performance when they enter urban centres, hostels and relatively comfortable educational environments. Once there, they discover the material basis to explore their latent energies. On being recruited, they better their performance, and, given a chance, even excel over non-Dalits

24 July, 2004

Bengal's Caste Prejudices

By Sandip Bayopadhyay

Caste may have been cast aside in `progressive' Bengal's myth-making exercise supervised so assiduously by the ruling Marxist regime, but empirical and anecdotal evidence suggests that caste prejudices thrive in the state

23 July, 2004

Desaffronising Education

By Kancha Ilaiah

India suffers from both religious and caste communalism. So education should decasteise society as a whole

20 July, 2004

Dalit Diary 1999-2003

By Harsh Sethi

Review on the book "DALIT DIARY 1999-2003- Reflection on Apartheid in India" by Chandra Bhan Prasad

19 July, 2004

Videocon Int'l Ltd Is India's Future

By Chandrabhan Prasad

The recent job reservation debate in the private sector has mirrored the character of Indian society than ever before. The unpolished, private sector did not care to maintain minimum demeanour in rejecting the issue, and went on insulting the collective Dalit genius. But one corporate stood out among the crowd to welcome the move! Videocon Int'l Ltd

15 July, 2004

Dalits As 'Dalits' In Budget 2004

By Chandrabhan Prasad

Year after year since 1947 we have seen the ritual of the government presenting the Finance Bill. The common thread running through all the Budgets tabled so far is the exclusion of the Dalits. The political formations in power, or in the Opposition, transcend their ideological divide, howsoever artificial that may be, to unite on the Dalit question

07 July, 2004

The Indian Meaning Of Merit

By Chandrabhan Prasad

The slogan that rings out these days is this "Indian industry will loose it competitive advantage in the global market". The Dalits would, however, want to seek a very simple explanation: What competition are we talking about? With who is Indian industry competing or desires to compete?

05 July, 2004

The Caste Divide

By Naresh Puri

BBC's community affairs reporter Naresh Puri investigates the rise of one of the most hidden forms of hierarchy in Britain today: The Indian Caste system

22 June, 2004

Reservation For Dalits In Private Sector

By Dr. Udit Raj

It shocks me that some corporate houses are heard opposing the private sector reservation saying that private businesses are the result of their hardwork and money. I want to know if Indian software industry which is flourishing could have done even one per cent of it had their been no IITs and IIMs around?

21 June, 2004

Private Sector Arrogance Is 'Civilisational'

By Chandrabhan Prasad

In the grotesque eyes of Indian industrialists, the 250 million-plus Dalits must be born with some genetic problems which make them naturally "incompetent". The very existence of the shadow of a Dalit in a corporate office would make private industry lose its "competitive advantage" vis a vis the multinationals

20 June, 2004

Corporate Tax - A Tool For Affirmative Action

By S Sharath

For each 10% addition of backward castes to total recruitment for the year, provide a tax relief of 1%. For dalits, each 10% must attract 2% tax relief. The same may be extended to women and other weak sections

15 June, 2004

Social Stratification Among Muslims In India

By Salil Kader

The Muslims of India have gained the dubious distinction of sustaining a highly prejudiced and devious system of social stratification, which is nowhere to be found in the rest of the Muslim world. The community would do itself a great favour by purging this evil from within its character

14 June, 2004

Myths About Private Sector Reservation

By Chandrabhan Prasad

The Congress' "national level dialogue" slogan, and the Maharashtra government's legislation on job reservations in the private sector have infused new blood and hope among the unemployed Dalit youth.What is, however, missing in this euphoria is the limitation of the "emancipatory" role these jobs can play

06 June, 2004

Dalits Cheated Once Again

By Chandrabhan Prasad

Buy diluting the promises made to the Dalits in their election manifesto in the the Common Minimum Programme, Congress has dented its own image among the politically conscious section of Dalits. Even Sonia Gandhi is perceived as a suspect, howsoever unfair it may be

04 June, 2004

India Is Not Shining For The Dalits

By Neelesh Mishra

The lower castes, 80 percent of India's 1 billion people by government estimate, are still at the bottom in most social indicators -- education, income, employment, asset ownership and debt. It is extremely rare to find a Dalit software engineer, scientist or bank executive

30 May, 2004

Verdict 2004:Triumph non-Brahmins

By Chandrabhan Prasad

This is a historic moment for the Dalits in India's contemporary history. The Congress party too has the unique opportunity of making up for its past indifference towards the Dalit cause

29 May, 2004

BR Ambedkar: A Personal Tribute

By Chandrabhan Prasad

Dalit history may always seek the most uncomfortable question: "Why it is that post-Ambedkar, Dalits have not added even one chapter to the saga of the great trailblazer? Why it is so that when more than half the Dalit population is illiterate?"

25 May, 2004

Anti-Brahman Upsurge Of Elections 2004

By Chandrabhan Prasad

Frightened by the anti-dalit, anti-poor policies of the NDA government, most non-Brahman, non-Baniya castes reached the polling booths with the resolve to vote the NDA out of power. A caste-wise study would conclusively prove that the XIVth Lok Sabha has the least number of Brahman-Baniya MPs since 1952

20 May, 2004

Dalit Warrior

By P L Mimroth

Society and authorities in Rajasthan collude to torture a man simply because he refuses to be ill-treated as a Dalit

04 May, 2004

A History Of Racial Tension

By Pius Kamau

"In Aurora, we run into each other in corridors and the past is unfurled before us. But there's no bitterness in me, only a wish they would open their minds to a world that's fluid and not always divided into rigid castes." The personal account of an African American doctor, how uppercaste Indian Hindu's treat Africans

28 April, 2004

Ambedkar, The Nation-builder

By Vivek Kumar

It is beyond doubt that Ambedkar has been a victim of the process of "reductionism". He has either been reduced to the status of a Dalit leader or, at the most, as the chief architect of the Constitution

03 April, 2004

Politics Of Conversion

By Rashid Salim Adil and Yoginder Sikand

'Islam Gave Me Self Respect' Rashid Salim Adil, a Delhi-based advocate, social activist and politician, is a Dalit convert to Islam. Here he talks to Yoginder Sikand on Dalits, social liberation and Islam

06 March, 2004

Plight Of Dalits In Pakistan

By Yoginder Sikand

Dalits in Pakistan continue to be subjected to considerable discrimination by 'upper' caste Hindus as well as 'high' caste Muslim converts

05 March, 2004

Challenging Brahminical Fascism

By Kancha Ilaiah and Yoginder Sikand

Interview with Kancha Ilaiah

03 March, 2004

No Justice For Muthanga Victims -

They Fall Down And Die

By B F Firos

A year has passed since the tragic turn of events in Muthanga when the Kerala government brutally suppressed the rightful protest of Adivasis for their right to land. Many have died after the torture in police custody, and many others are as good as dead. Justice and land still elude them

23 February, 2004

Get Converted & Damned Too

By Dr M P Raju

Till now Conversion to Christianity or Islam was to cost you only the Scheduled Caste status; now by the grace of the Judiciary it may cost even the Scheduled Tribe Status

21 February, 2004

If Gods Become Silent The

Speechless Must Speak

By Udit Raj

Dalits are rejecting Hinduism. Why make a song and dance

about it?

19 February, 2004

Globalisation, Fascism And Dalits

By Goldy M. George

An alliance of Dalits, Adivasis, women and working class should emerge to challenge the existing citadels of power headed by a bunch of upper caste elite

15 February, 2004

Islam And Caste Inequality Among Indian Muslims

By Yoginder Sikand

Although the Qur'an insists on the radical equality of all Muslims, caste (zat, jati, biraderi) remains a defining feature of Indian Muslim society, with significant regional variations

14 January, 2004

Dalits Barred Entry Into Temple

By Mohammed Iqbal

Activists participating in a national Dalit Swadhikar rally that crossed Rajasthan the other day were denied entry into the famous Shrinath temple in Nathdwara, despite a 15-year-old judgment of the Rajasthan High Court directing the State Government to ensure unhindered access for Dalits to the temple

07 January, 2004

Casting Out Caste

By Chandana Mathur and Sujani Reddy

An Interview with Henri Tiphagne

30 December, 2003

Liberating Womanhood

By Kunda. Pramilani

Manusmriti Dahan Day celebrated as Indian women's Liberation Day on 25th December 2003 at Chaitya Bhoomi , Mumbai- A Report

06 December, 2003

What Went Wrong?

By Gail Omvedt

All of secular India has to make soul searchings about the BJP victory in the recently concluded assembly elections in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh. People like Medha Patkar and Arundhati Roy might have had some influence in these states,but they have been silent, silent silent

30 November, 2003

The Indigenous People Of Kerala

Are Forcefully Sterilised

By The Moderator, India Thinkersnet

The news channel 'India Vision' has reported the forceful sterilisation of the indigenous people (adivasis) of Kerala in the Waynad district in an effort to ethnically cleanse them

Unwed Mothers Of Wayanad

By M P Basheer

In the Wayanad district of Kerala hundreds of tribal women are lured by the local settlers, leaving them with fatherless children after exploiting them sexually

29 November, 2003

Caste And Hinduism

By Gail Omvedt

M V Nadkarni's recent articles show the fundamental stamp of Hindutva ideology, primary of which is shoddy methodology, selective quotation and illogic

17 November, 2003

Alternate Politics - The Search & Need

By Goldy M. George

Rustic revolt particularly of the poor and working sector will definitely storm the existing citadels of power, thus emerging the new era of power, a cohesive outburst of people's struggles

02 November, 2003

Hindu Or Sindhu

By Bharat Patankar

Exposure of the Bloodthirsty Hindutva of the Sangh Parivar

09 October, 2003

Dalit Killed For Attempting Puja

By Alok Chamaria

A Dalit of Bahera village under the Karam Chat police

station of Kaimur district was killed on Saturday evening when Dalits of the village tried to offer prayers and prasad to Goddess Durga, defying the long-standing ban imposed on them by upper caste villagers

07 October, 2003

Action Alert

Maharashtra Government Destroys Tribal Homes

Hunger strike of adivasis at Rahata Tahasil office, Maharashtra

06 October, 2003

The South Indian Adivasi Experience

By CK Janu

Speech delivered at the fifth World Parks Congress, Durban

02 October, 2003

Fascism - The Emerging Threat To Indigenous People

By Goldy M. George

Expansion of fascism is disintegrating the Dalit-Adivasi ideology, theology, and identity and intimidated their very existence. This ruptures the community, deteriorates the noble notions of sharing, caring and co-operation

25 September, 2003

Legacy of Dr. BR Ambedkar stands

irreconcilably opposed to Hindutva

By B.Sivaraman

It is an irony that BJP and other Sangh Parivar outfits are trying to appropriate such a historic personality as Dr. BR Ambedkar

20 September, 2003

The 'Dalit Muslims' And The All-India

Backward Muslim Morcha

By Yoginder Sikand

There is a growing consciousness and assertiveness of a large conglomerate of Muslim castes, some of whose leaders are now seeking to advance for them a new identity as 'Dalit Muslims'. This article examines the politics, programmes and broader agendas that advocates of this new identity seek to put forward

04 September, 2003

Ambedkar's orphans

BySagarika Ghose

Instead of being champions only for their own caste, dalit leaders should become champions of general democratisation

29 August, 2003

Mythologies of Merit

By Gail Omvedt

Indian business as a whole has maintained a deafening silence on the issue of combating caste discrimination

Shiv Sena Dangles Carrot For Dalits

By Ram Puniyani

The Ambedkar baiter Shiv Sena turns 180 degrees and

offeres to ally with dalits

28 August, 2003

Moksha In Modern Times

By Pankaj Pachauri

Modern India is always wrestling with its ancient culture and beliefs.Faith is supreme. It rules by ignoring rules. A reflection on the Kumbh mela

Violence Against Dalits- The Unused Ammunition

One principal source of continued caste violence is the lack of

implementation of existing laws in India designed to protect the lower castes

26 August, 2003

Want A Cow Bill? Go Tell It To This Child

By Nirmala Ganapathy

Five dalits were beaten, set ablaze on false charges of cow slaughter in Jhajjar. All 32 accused are out on bail threatening to do it again

24 July, 2003

Caste Tensions in Punjab - Talhan and Beyond

By Surinder S Jodhka, Prakash Louis

The recent incidence of conflict involving members of the landowning caste of jats and the scheduled caste of 'ad-dharmis' in the Talhan village of Punjab ought to be viewed as a case of 'dalit assertion'

08 July, 2003

The Return To Muthanga -An Affidavit

By C.K Janu and M. Geethanandan

An affidavit released by the tribal leaders on the violent incidents at Muthanga in February in which a tribal and a police man lost lives, and which was followed by violent reprisal of the tribal community by the government of Kerala

05 July, 2003

Broken Men, The Pre-Untouchables

By B.R. Ambedkar

Excerps from f B.R. Ambedkar's 1948 work "The Untouchables: Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables? "

Untouchability, The Dead Cow And The Brahmin

By B.R. Ambedkar

Excerps from f B.R. Ambedkar's 1948 work "The Untouchables: Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables? "

Contempt For Budhists As The Root Of Untouchability

By B.R. Ambedkar

Excerps from f B.R. Ambedkar's 1948 work "The Untouchables: Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables? "

03 July, 2003

The Constitution And Reservation

By P. B. Sawant

The Supreme Court of India in all its decisions on reservation has interpreted the expression `backward classes' in Article 16 (4) to mean the "socially and educationally" backward. It also emphatically rejected "economic backwardness" as the only or the primary criterion for reservation under article 16 (4) and observed that economic backwardness has to be on account of social and educational backwardness.

02 July, 2003

Blacks, Science And National Pride

By Kancha Ilaiah

Positive capitalist ethics evolves in a civil societal environment where the basic consciousness of spiritual democracy expands. Indian capitalism functions in an environment of spiritual fascism

28 June, 2003

Dalit 'Sahibs' And Masses

By Manohar Yadav

Class divide among the dalits deprives the poorest of them of benefits of reservation while the rich dalits become richer. Will the dalit elite save its community from disunity or will it continue to stoke sub-caste communalism?

Beyond The Symbolic Ambedkar

K Satyanarayana

Book review of "The Essential Writings of B R Ambedkar". Through a biographical sketch and introduction to Ambedkar's varied writings, the book accounts for the growing relevance of Ambedkar in contemporary India

Periyar's Movement

An introduction to the life and work of Periyar E. V. Ramaswamy

27 June, 2003

Polls And That Looming Dalit Factor

By Neerja Chowdhury

With polls just months away, the Dalit factor gets back to the

limelight in Madhya Pradesh

Michigan Prof Caste Off By Fellow Desi

By Chidanand Rajghatta

India's caste custom has reared its head in the groves of American academe.An Indian professor at a US university has sued a fellow Indian don, citing personal caste discrimination among reasons for a stifled career

17 June, 2003

Political Game Against Dalits

By Dr. Bizay Sonkar Shastri And Suresh Varghese

An interview with Dr. Bizay Sonkar Shastri, Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes

16 June, 2003

Sikh Civil Wars

By S P Singh

Casteism claims Sikhism. The long and invisible battle between Punjab's Dalits and Jats is out on the streets

12 June, 2003

Congress, Dalits And Elections

By Gail Omvedt

Unless Congress overcomes the forward caste domination in the leadership, an unwillingness to admit the horrors of caste hierarchy and atrocities, and become also the party of Ambedkar and Phule, it will never succeed in winning back its hold among the Dalits of the country

08 June, 2003

KR to Kalam Caste, Religion AndThe Indian Presidency

By Siriyavan Anand

Kalam's elevation represents the collective failure of Indian polity and society. It is another phase of brahminic revivalism in India – brahminism parading with a Muslim name

Embracing Budhism

By Darshan Desai

Dalits who bloodied their hands for Hindutva last year in Gujarat are turning to the Buddha

01 June, 2003

Who Are The Criminals?

By Dilip D'souza

Phase Pardhis are one of India's denotified tribes but the authorities and society in general continue to think of them as criminals. So who are the criminals?

28 May, 2003

This 'Witch' Couldn't Save Herself

A woman is branded a tonahi (village witch), dragged out of her house by her hair, beaten up in public, tortured and even forced to consume human faeces in Junwani village, Chhattisgarh

27 May, 2003

Dalits mobilising

By Gail Omvedt

In India, and the world as a whole... Dalits themselves are calling for action on all fronts, a cultural-economic and political revolution

24 May, 2003

Dalit Diaspora Joins The Fight

By Vivek Kumar

The Dalit diaspora has all of a sudden become visible. Yet another Dalit international conference was successfully concluded earlier this month in Vancouver, Canada, with the help of the Dalit diaspora in different parts of the world

16 May, 2003

Trishuls, Lathis And Books

By Kancha Ilaiah

How liberating is a spiritual and social tradition that hands down weapons but not books to its adherents?

24 April, 2003

Do Brahminical Ideologies Permeate

Indian Psychological Theory?

By Siriyavan Anand

Report of a seminar in Pune on `Caste and Discourses of the Mind'.

17 April, 2003

"We Will Continue The Struggle"

Statement by Kerala adivasi struggle leader CK Janu immediately after her release from jail

16 April, 2003

Dalit threat to Gujarat conversion law

A Dalit organisation is threatening mass conversion as a mark of protest against Gujarat anticonversion law

15 April, 2003

Ambedkar As Hindu

By Shamsul Islam

The RSS lie machinery does not leave even Dr. B.R. Ambedkar alone. They present him as a leader in league with Hedgewar and Golwalkar and as a defender for the cause of the Hindu Rashtra.

Betrayed In God's Country: The adivasi

uprising in Kerala

By C.R. Bijoy

The occupation of forest land in Muthanga and the subsequent police brutality was the result of the continuous betrayal by the successive governments of the legitimate rights of the Adivasis to own their own land

Displaced by deceit

By R Madhavan Nair

The tale of Wayanad's tribals is one of betrayal and exploitation by "settlers" and successive Governments, writes R. Madhavan Nair.

Damning the Dalits for the Bania-Brahmin

Crimes in Gujarat

by Anand Teltumbde

In the pogrom in Gujarat it will largely be Dalits and Tribals who would be made sacrificial goats. It is certain that the real culprits who conceived and carried out this heinous carnage will never be touched.

Politics of cow protection

by Nonica Datta

Dalits, including family members of those lynched in Jhajjar, have converted to Buddhism, Islam and Christianity in Gurgaon. One of the Balmiki converts, after the Jhajjar killings, confessed: "I challenge the VHP, Bajrang Dal and RSS to reconvert me. I will give up my life but never be a Hindu again."

Killing of Five Dalits In Jhajjar

Report Of The Left Parties Delegation To Duleena, Jhajjar District Haryana On October 17 In Protest Against Dalit Lynching Atrocity.

Is the Life of a Cow More Important than

the Life of Five Dalits?

Murder of five Dalits in a Haryana village for skinning a cow and the justification of VHP leader Giriraj Kishorethat the life of a cow is very important, according to the shastras

Denial of land drives Dalits to Islam

by R. Ilangovan

Denial of land drives Dalits to Islam in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu

Developmental Perspective for the Dalit Literature in the Era of Globalization

by Dr. Anand Teltumbde

Transcription of a speech delivered at the South India Dalit Literary Workshop at Thiruvananthpuram, Kerala, 27-29 May, 2002

A Dalit Beaten Up in Tamil Nadu

The upper class hindus have struck again in Tamil nadu. This time it is in the Satharasankottai village in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu against a Dalit agricultural worker.

The Adivasis of India - A History of Discrimination,

Conflict and Resistance

By C.R. Bijoy

Infosys and Microsoft

By Gail Omvedt

Gail Omvedt asks Infosys chairman Narayanamoorthy to develop Infosys as a company concerned with social justice, making its employees represent all groups in society and not simply minority upper- caste elite sections.

Reservation in the corporate sector

By Gail Omvedt

Targeting tribal people

By Naunidhi Kaur

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests seeks to clear 12.5 lakh hectares of forest land by evicting its 10-million strong tribal population.

Preying on Dalits

By S. Viswanathan

Two more alleged incidents of atrocities on Dalits in Tamil Nadu come to the foreground. One Dalit is made to drink his own urine and two others in Tiruchi district are made to eat each others excrement

Hindutva and caste

By Kancha Ilaiah

There are no indications that Hinduism will allow spiritual democracy within its structure. The Hindutva forces may pretend that the agenda is being Sudraised but Hinduism shall remain Brahminical

Broken People: Caste Violence Against India's

"Untouchables"

Human Rights Watch Report

http://www.countercurrents.org/archive-dalit220205.htm


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