Swapna Barman became the only Indian so far to have won gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games in the event called heptathlon, an athletic event which, like many of them, most of her own villagers never heard of till she won the medal. Earlier she had also won gold medal in Asian Athletic Championship in 2017 and got silver medal in the SAF Games in 2016. Being the champion of one of the toughest athletic events she soon became well-known all over the country. For her extraordinary sporting achievements, she was also conferred with the coveted Arjuna Award. In the same Asiad the Assamese girl, Hima Das too won the gold medal in the 400 metres mixed and women’s relay. Young Hima Das deservedly became a celebrity in Assm. She has also been offered the job of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) by the state government. In stark contrast to such glorious journey, Swapna Barman received a lukewarm welcome in Kolkata airport, the capital of her home state, moderate cash rewards from the state, a clerical job to her brother, and that’s about it, where it all ended. Swapna belongs to the Koch Rajbanshi community, an indigenous repressed community recognized as Scheduled Caste in the state of West Bengal. In the caste sensitive Bengal society, they have always been considered as paraiahs, the low castes.
One could ceaselessly criticise the atrocities committed by Modi’s regime; but what good is a critique, or a journalism of pathos, or high academic theorisations if they do not take the bull by its horns as it were. This has prompted me to drop the C-bomb — the caste question. How long will Indians pretend to live in a post-caste society and not address the evil that is at the root of a million injustices?
Fear of Lions sets the bar for South Asian historical fiction. Aurangazeb is neither vilified nor celebrated, he and his reign are showcased with all its problematic and a rare honesty. The book sets up describing every aspect of socio political life during this period – caste, bureaucracy, political intrigues, army, revenue system, administration, aristocracy, commerce, migration, mobility etc. through an intertwined fictionalized narratives about individuals. If I were teaching a course on this period of history, I would prescribe this as an essential reading.
Manoranjan Byapari, the Dalit Bengali novelist who has written searingly about the continuing travails of the Dalits in India, recently spoke along with Kancha Illaiah in Kolkata Book Fair. The conversation turned into a bit of a debate about Dalits learning English. Manoranjan Byapari shared his thoughts about the book fair encounter on his facebook page. His FB status was translated from Bangla by Arunava Sinha and then edited by Rahul Bannerjee.
On January 2, 2019 the union minister of the Human Research Development appraised the parliament about the exact number of reserved category faculty members in the Indian Institutes of Technology. Responding to a question asked by Mr. Udit Raj, a BJP MP, the union minister Prakash Javadekar said that out of 6043 faculty members in 23 institutes there are only 170 faculty members who are from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe categories. He also informed that the reservation in these premier educational institutes is kept open only for the entry-level positions, i.e., assistant professors and lectures.
Gandhism is a paradox. It stands for freedom from foreign domination, which means the destruction of the existing political structure of the country. At the same time it seeks to maintain intact a social structure which permits the domination of one class by another on a hereditary basis which means a perpetual domination of one class by another. What is the explanation of this paradox?
A poem for Gandhi ji on the sweet occasion of his birth and Swacch Bharath anniversary
This article focuses on practices among us—that is, among seemingly liberal, educated Savarnas who seem to decry casteism in theory, in principle, and even in practice (i.e. academically-transmitted critiques bolstering our claims to caste innocence). But, we are simultaneously deeply invested in unseeing, denying, deflecting or defending our casteist practices in everyday and institutional life. My goal is to highlight these practices of denial and deflection as acts of caste terror and I want to suggest that everyday caste terror and everyday claims to caste innocence are two sides of the same coin, both of which help liberal savarnas project upper caste castelessness.
Around a month and half ago, I was sitting in a restaurant in Cherrapunjee having lunch with my friend Raymond when a group of seven or eight tourists walked in. They asked at the counter, on their way in, if the place served vegetarian food, and on hearing it did, they took a table about 10 feet away from where we were sitting. Then someone at that table probably spotted me eating a leg of chicken. Immediately, all hell broke loose.
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.
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.
Rohith Vemula’s living legacy seen through debates on RAIOT
The story of Nangeli is a disputed one. Academic historians have yet to find sufficient external evidence of the events the story describes. For me, the veracity of the facts is less important than the singular fact that the story exists, and continues to be told. It narrates the protest, anguish and anger of those who are excluded from the reach of our collective conscience because they have no text, and therefore no ‘history’. This comics story first appeared in Art Review Asia and is dedicated to Rohith Vemula (1989-2016), who, like Nangeli, chose death over a life of indignity.
In the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan campaign, cleaning starts with a photo shoot and people involved in it are worried about trying to get the best picture clicked while they are cleaning the already sanitized road with sanitized broom.
Ghosh babu said dryly, “Cut it into five or six bits. You’re used to cutting meat. After that wrap the pieces in a banana leaf and get to the road, go and tie it to stones and throw it into the river. That’s all the work there is. Dharmaraj remembered the time Ghosh babu’s elder daughter got married. He had been called to cut the goats. Ten or twelve goats were tied to a post. He had instructed him likewise, “Cut it nicely into medium-size pieces. Not too small, not too large, you can take the skin, heads and everything else.” Today it occurred to him that for these people there was no difference at all between men and goats. But Dharmaraj was just an ordinary butcher. His hands and legs turned icy. Sensing Dharmaraj’s plight, Ghosh babu said, “Liquor has been brought, gulp a bottle, once you’re intoxicated you won’t have a clue about what you’re cutting. Get to work at once. The work has to be completed in two hours.
The idea of this sociological article is to understand how the group life and social relations of the Young Indian Fellowship (YIF) Cohort 2016 have developed over the past nine months. YIF is a year long Post Graduate Diploma Programme in Liberal Studies at Ashoka University in Sonepat, Haryana. Ashoka University is a private university whose founders include big shot businessmen and industrialists who have easy access to the corridors of power in Delhi. YIF is a flagship programme of the university to attract students for its UG courses in the name of providing Ivy League education in India.
Roads in Gujarat lead to future nowadays…
Dalits are doing what Ambedkar named as a “blow on the Hindu social order”. It is a veritable revolution that strikes at the origins of caste system and untouchability.”
When #Caste Is Not a Rumour – The Online Diary of Rohith Vemula hit the virtual bookshelves two weeks ago, it was an overnight sensation,…
Vivekananda’s views on caste are instructive in that they sum up the views of today’s defenders of the caste system. Even among people who don’t defend the caste system, you will find rich echoes of thoughts that Vivekananda puts forth.
In the latest survey conducted by India Human Development Surveys (IHDS) II in 2011 to 2012 which is a continuation of their last survey IHDS I held in 2004 to 2005 tells a staggering claim on inter-caste marriages. The survey is a collaboration between National Council of Applied Economic Research and University of Maryland funded by the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Ford Foundation, and it is headed by sociologists and economist[i]. The analysis of the survey as reported by IndiaSpend[ii] presents data on inter-caste marriages in India. The findings tell that 95 per cent of marriages took place among same caste, and the remaining 5 per cent practiced inter-caste marriages. Break-up of this data places Mizoram as the state with highest incidence of inter-caste marriages at 55 per cent of its population, and Madhya Pradesh at the opposite end with same caste marriages at 99 per cent of its population. The data portrays the whole population of India under Hindu society by overlooking various communities who fall outside ‘caste system’ especially tribal communities.
Indeed, if men or Whites or Brahmins or heterosexuals have long used whatever power and knowledge was tied to their identity in order to define, judge, and subjugate others (is this not identity politics?), can the latter fight back without politicizing those definitions, judgments, and subjugations? As long as socially constructed race remains a vector of discrimination, wouldn’t it also remain a source of social identity, around which people organize to reclaim their dignity and rights? If racism didn’t exist, would we still have our modern idea of race—or the identitarians’ preoccupation with it?
I would contend that it is because of the legitimization of hierarchy by various canonical Islamic texts that the Muslims who arrived in India (Arabs, Afghans, Mongols, Turks, Persians, etc.) were not in the least bit surprised by caste: they were only too familiar with the hierarchies they found here. Rather, it could be argued, that they skilfully adapted to the caste order and even Islamized it.
The fear of criticism breaking solidarity is an enveloped fear; well cushioned in caste hierarchies and privileges. It is an arm chair fear, resulting from the fear of doing the boring but radical work of patiently explaining, convincing and converging.
Scenario 1: A student leader in Delhi is arrested on charges of sedition, days after an event in a university triggers right-wing ire. The student…
No one is demanding the banning of Manusmriti’s publication or trying to block its publication. Burning it in public is actually, at least in effect, an invitation to read it and reject its message.
Before HIV funding oiled and co-opted “queer”, before it re-created and held in place caste hierarchies – Indian collective queer spaces were found in hamams, and bastis, and parks. It was found in villages where the only visible queer was the local (Dalitbahujan) transfemme community. She was the one that poor, Dalitbahujan queer femmes and trans men sought out and befriended and asked for help. Before the globalized repeal IPC-377 campaign cemented the meaning of what queer caste neutrality looks like – it was queer Dalitbahujans who were being beaten, tortured, raped and killed by the police, by the public and the state. While the sexuality rights consultancies and speaking engagements went to Savarna queers, it was Dalitbahujans who arrived in masses and protested police stations and courtrooms, and were lathi-charged, beaten and arrested.
Maranatha Wahlang’s revealing experiences of Hyderabad Central University and how Rohith Vemula’s experience was not an anomaly
We have been looking at anger as an antithesis to peace for far too long. Non-violence has been understood as the most acceptable means to peace and peace has been in turn construed as absence of conflict.
Rohith Vemula’s ‘suicide’ is not the desperate reaction of a despairing victim to casteist atrocities. For the same reason, and contrary to what many might imagine, Vemula’s ‘suicide’ has nothing to do with anomie-bred existential nihilism. Rather, it is an act of revolutionary affirmation
“Please serve 10mg Sodium Azide to all the Dalit students at the time of admission. With direction to use when they feel like reading Ambedkar.”
ROHITH VEMULA’s letter of 18/12/2015 to the Vice Chancellor of Hyderabad Central University
The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In very field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.
In most societies the acts of religious conversion do ruffle the feathers of those who take the task of policing group boundaries zealously. In India too the issue of proselytization has been a matter of immense anxiety for the majoritarian groups belonging to Hindu religion