What Kanhaiya has got in him other than being a good orator, which Indian college doesn’t have one? Electing someone for his oratory skills is as good as choosing a pet dog for its biting skills. In 2014, many were smitten by someone else’s oratory skills and the entire country has got bitten by mad dogs.It seems that the Indian Left is trying to project the 2019 elections as a Kanhaiya vs. Modi battle. It satisfies their need for symbolic victories, and enables them to evade the question of actually defeating the fascists. This is their battle of ego. The JNU episode that brought fame to Kanhaiya itself was a fascist ploy to dilute the raging spirit of the Rohit Vemula Movement which was being fast consolidated across India. Rather than focusing on the goals of the Rohith Vemula Movement, the Left fell flat for the fascist trap and opportunistically used the witch-hunt to further divert the attention from the Bahujan cause.
Tag: Dalit Bahujan
At the National Seminar on “Dalit Literature: Texts and Contexts”, organised by Delhi University’s English Department over three days, like at any other seminar, a buffet lunch was served. As happens at most such events, the sole meat dish, or nonveg as it is called, was kept a part apart. At what was deemed a safe and agreeable distance from the other pure-veg stuff. Safe for and agreeable to whom? It was not clear if the Manu Smriti or Narada Smriti or DU’s rulebook designed by some long-dead registrar had been consulted as regards the decorous distance to be maintained. I asked an aproned cateter on whose orders this had been done. We do as some saheb tells us, he offered. Besides this is how it’s always done, another said. But how can this happen at a Dalit Literature conference?
What qualities should such an honoured servant of society exemplify in his person? In my opinion an ideal Bhangi should have a thorough knowledge of the principles of sanitation. He should know how a right kind of latrine is constructed and the correct way of cleaning it. He should know how to overcome and destroy the odour of excreta and the various disinfectants to render them innocuous. He should likewise know the process of converting night- soil and urine into manure.
Yes, you heard it right. After a whole lot of brainstorming and deliberation we decided that all of you must refrain from using the category ‘Dalit’, for the official nomenclature is ‘Scheduled Caste’ and that must be used at all times, especially when communicating matters publicly. Not to say that we like you being Scheduled Caste either. Remember RohithVemula! Despite our best efforts in denying his Scheduled Caste identity, his being Dalit prevailed and eventually proved that he was a born scheduled caste. So we of course know that being a scheduled caste is a lot to deal with too, but being a Dalit is an entirely different story, which is increasingly becoming our everyday nightmare. Therefore, just don’t use this word anymore. Besides, scheduled castes – it’s quite a mouthful, so let’s say SC – an intrusion into our state of profound bliss and absolute peace, that continues to remind us that the state ought to make policies for your betterment, because you know the constitution! It’s difficult to make head or tail of this book, anyway.
Yogi Adityanath may have thought that by introducing Dr. Babasaheb B R Ambedkar’s middle name ‘Ramji’, he would turn Babasaheb into just another Hindu leader. But Yogi forgot that Dr. Ambedkar even with Ramji as his middle name was the author of The Riddle of Rama – an iconoclastic essay about Hinduism’s favourite God.
RAIOT is pleased to publish this second extract from ‘Chandal Jibon’ (2009) by Manoranjan Byapari. ‘Chandal Jibon’ is the story of Jibon, a boy born into the hitherto ‘untouchable’ Chandal (or Namasudra) community in East Bengal, whose parents flee from East Pakistan and arrive as refugees in India. The story of the boy’s journey to adulthood – is also the story of the experience of the subaltern Bengali refugee community and of caste oppression, humiliation and violence, providing a trenchant bottom-up view of post-1947 Bengal and of Calcutta in the turbulent Naxalite era. It is an epic tale of the indomitable human will to survive.
Nearly eleven years after the infamous attack on the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University of Baroda and the arrest and brief incarceration of the student Chandramohan S. and the suspension of the then in-charge Dean, Shivaji K. Panikkar, on 2nd of February 2018 we bear witness to an uncanny event that unfolded in the Vice-Chancellor’s cabin of MSU. Chandramohan had allegedly set fire to the office of the vice chancellor as a marker of his self-consuming frustration resulting from the institutional violence inflicted on him by denying him the basic dignity as a human being.
Attacks on Dalits are often viewed only from the perspective of violation of their basic rights and dignity. A lot of attention this time has been paid to the political context of Dalit mobilization, and the recent state of their relation with the dominant Maratha caste in the area. Analyses from such perspectives often miss the actual elephant in the room, namely the caste Hindu society to whom their attackers belong, and from whose normative world they derive their justifications. Confronting this elephant is crucial at present.
The news of a famous wedding has been hogging all the limelight in the media throughout this week. The excitement over Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli’s wedding to actress Anushka Sharma has been putting even the drama surrounding Harry Windsor’s Royal Wedding to shame. However, Virushka (their moniker, which wins my vote for the worst couple name. As a friend pointed out to me, why anyone would go with Virushka and not Korma is beyond me) is not the significant development in wedding related news to occur this week. The real story, which flew largely under the radar, was about Sankar and Kausalya, a Tamilian inter-caste couple that fell victim to a brutal murder.
‘Chandal Jibon’ (2009) by Manoranjan Byapari is the story of Jibon, a boy born into the hitherto ‘untouchable’ Chandal (or Namasudra) community in East Bengal, whose parents flee from East Pakistan and arrive as refugees in India. The story of the boy’s journey to adulthood – is also the story of the experience of the subaltern Bengali refugee community and of caste oppression, humiliation and violence, providing a trenchant bottom-up view of post-1947 Bengal and of Calcutta in the turbulent Naxalite era. It is an epic tale of the indomitable human will to survive.
Most of the local, national and international media houses claimed the series of Maratha Kranti Muk (Silent) Morchas (MKM) that started over the rape of a minor girl from Maratha caste in the Kopardi village of Ahmednagar district on July 23, 2016, by three Dalit men, to be ‘unique’ for its mass support base, speeches given by young Maratha girls and for its non-alignments with political parties. However, what is also unique about these marches which remains either highlighted or hidden from the mainstream is the hateful aggressive speeches, the sidelining of the issue of rape, the public display of caste power and rooted patriarchal rhetorical elocutionary speeches given by the young Maratha girls.
We have almost become numb to the many lynchings that happen on a regular basis in India these days, especially of Muslim citizens (men, mostly). But, the lynching of a Manganiyar musician was almost like a personal affront. I have had a memorable encounter with the Manganiyar or Merasi community in 2014 and I always wanted to write about them. I never knew of their caste structures and hierarchies till I visited them in their village. I am just going to write here about this Merasi musician, Dapu Khan, and my encounter with him. The Merasis are the voice of the desert, they have been and will remain so.
Sacrifice and who sacrificed how much is a dominant trope in discussions within (largely urban) left organisations. As experience suggests, it is usually invoked to sideline important self-reflections. Priya Ranjan problematizes the notion of ‘sacrifice’ in the revolutionary discourse.
K. G. Satyamurthy (1931–2012), lifelong Communist who eventually broke with his party largely over the issue of its caste-blindness.
I feared and angered
In my younger years,
When men ask me at the bus stop,
Until the numbers
And my own violence
Violated my sisters on the streets.
So now i respond –
“Sau lakh” (or more).
Surely, #NotinMyName as a name and event does in certain ways imply an assertion of one’s place in mainstream elitist spaces, this type of Naming is indeed veiled and nuanced but there is a problem to see this as entirely Brahminical and thus absolutely evil.
Ambedkar’s “contribution to the making of modern India is possibly more substantial than that of any other leader of his generation.” Uniquely among leading national figures, Ambedkar not only overcame enormous personal odds (caste humiliation, poverty, the deaths of four of his five children), he also pioneered a critique of Indian society based on Enlightenment values of liberty, equality, and fraternity—values that he situated in India’s own ancient traditions, most notably in Buddhism. He was more of a secular rationalist than even Nehru, with a far more sophisticated sense of history, economics, and philosophy. This aspect of Ambedkar—rooted in a worldly, inclusive, scrupulously reasoned, secular and radical egalitarianism, coupled with a bracing focus on equal dignity and social justice as foundations for civil rights—still hasn’t received its due in mainstream scholarship and opinion. Which other leader of the 20th century is as relevant to every dream of a just, modern, liberal, secular, humane, and democratic society in India today?
Dalit students talk not only of their social alienation in these elite spaces, but of their intellectual alienation. Why is it that we do not use moments like this to reflect on the very nature of our social sciences? Why is our academic and intellectual culture such that, despite writing of subaltern subjects, social stratification, caste, nationalism, resistance and oppression, it is not able to speak to a section of students in the class?
In last few days there have been several attempts to create a dogma that Krish allegedly committed suicide for personal reasons, but this argument neglects the story of Krish’s life, his thoughts shared in different blogs and even the trajectory of earlier Dalit students suicide cases. Many Dalits students in different university campuses have committed suicide, but if the casteist institutions, upper-caste faculty and peers are responsible for continuously alienating the marginalised studies, equally responsible are we as Dalit organisations members, faculty and students for not being able to provide timely help to the needy students.
We are failing so many of our students, those who come to our universities with singular dreams sparkling in their eyes, when they enter they want to believe that such a place as they have wished to break into from far-flung places and rough homes is the one that will succour them and give them light and water to grow. Krish Rajini was a poet in his soul, not just a scholar, he rode among the clouds on his first ever plane journey from Hyderabad to Delhi and spilled words on to his Facebook that transformed effortlessly into poetry for the sheer radiance of his experience. And so we killed not just a budding scholar but a poet too.
I am the Muslim
whose breath hangs
on a black wire
curling like a snake
around the loudspeakers
of neighborhood temples
“There are reports from Kerala that SFI people have been attacking Ambedkarite and Muslim students. In the process, a poster with my son’s photo was torn. Chitralekha’s problems are still continuing. It is also sad to see that Dalits and Adivasis are still fighting for land in Kerala. A very important adivasi woman leader of Kerala, who was once a powerful and progressive voice, has been forced to join the BJP. Why did this happen? Some Left leaders met me asking me to be present for a consultation on Rohith Act but I realised later that no Ambedkarite leaders not even my son’s friends from the ASA were invited. How can non Dalits sit and decide what should go into a law for protecting Dalits against discrimination in campuses? We also saw the unfortunate things that happened in HCU and JNU during the elections where the Left did not support Dalit leaders and instead fought against them.”
Rohith Vemula’s living legacy seen through debates on RAIOT
On 17th of January 2016, a scholar committed suicide on the campus of the same university where he came with a hope of avoiding what he wrote in his last letter “…unappreciated child of my past.”
Rohith Vemula in his own words
Jawaharlal Nehru University’s so-called freedom square is always packed with people every time a protest is called in the avowedly progressive institution –the crush of people at midnight last March spilling onto the roads to hear Kanhaiya Kumar speak is still seared in popular memory. But when I walked in for a series of public talks last Thursday, none of that spontaneous mobilization was visible.
Now that it is very clear to everybody that the most famous and influential Indian campuses such as UoH and JNU have proved that they cannot overcome their local petty ego problems/narrow-mindedness of the organisations, even in the face of Modi and attacks on the very idea of Higher Education, after carrying out heroic struggles and inspiring battles, beyond their means and thus inspiring the whole nation and even the world that all is not lost in India to fascists and their is fighting back and fighting, while thanking the campuses and their organisations and standing in full support of them, we will have to make the difficult but absolutely important choice of not looking towards the campus organisations for the directions or models for how to fight Hindu Nazis in power in india.
Here, is the dilemma, how can one go for solidarity; with the less oppressed or the more oppressed? The solidarities have to be formed on some principles; these principles will be the basis for greater purpose of the solidarity of struggles. For example, the question of intersectionality; of class, women and gender is a very important question in any struggle. How can a struggle take all those questions together without losing the basis of its foundations or compromising with its principles?
The presidential candidate for BAPSA – Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association – Rahul Sonpimple in the presidential debate on September 7. Without mincing words, Sonpimple exposed the so-called Left unity being bandied about in the shape of the AISA and SFI alliance.
“Though the University is claimed as a “modern” institution which professes all such values that can be the markers of “modernity”, namely; liberty, equality, fraternity and rationality etc., this claim can only be made on the perils of overlooking a large set of questions that emanate from the kind of social reality we live in…
Rohith Vemula wanted to express the lived reality of being a student in the school of Life Sciences and the discrimination he faced in the laboratory, through an academic paper. He had sent an Abstract to the annual sociology conference to be held in the university. The Abstract was titled “Discovering Caste Prejudices in Science Laboratories: Unheard Narratives”