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.
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?
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.
I intend to go beyond the Punjab and seek to review the Mazhabi Sikh past of two important urban centres of north-eastern India. They are located in Shillong and Guwahati, and have so far escaped the attention of scholars engaged in studying the Dalit past of the region. Situated in the Khasi Hills, their early presence in Shillong goes back to the days of colonial rule, while in Guwahati of the Brahmaputra Valley they may have settled around the time of the country’s Independence. Their emergence in two different cities under dissimilar political conditions perhaps offers an interesting point for the enquiry.
‘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.
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?
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.”
This dead body is Raju Mistry’s corpse was the bewildering claim by the Police, which was then quickly corrected, to the right Dalit, Kamal Valmiki. The plan backfired and Police were now asked to produce Raju Mistry from my depths. All 15 policemen of my outpost have been suspended. One has been accused of murder. A few are on the run. But what difference does it make? The fascists are in Government and they have the judiciary in their pocket. Indict with impunity but your caste clout will guarantee your acquittal. Raju Mistry will return but not empty-handed. He has thrived as an outlaw after his escape. He has heard about Kamal Valmiki’s murder. He has rounded up the fleeing policemen. Only gangsters can catch the police that the police can’t catch.
Dear Mr. Mishra,
So I heard you beheaded a Dalit today and axed his wife to death. What a pity that all this is doing the rounds on social media, alternative media and on all international media except our own of course. Don’t worry Mr. Mishra, our media love you but they are compelled to run this story for fear of being labelled as anti-human, which they are but only when it comes to Dalits, mind. They’ll run the story as a token and claim that you did it in a fit of insanity and that you are quick to anger, not because of the casteist animosity that courses through the country’s veins…
Kancha Ilaiah is India’s most productive factory of paradigm shifts. Never did he write something which he was not the first to say or the only one to say the unsaid. Even the most routine and well-worn topics become suddenly full of fresh discoveries and discussions and rethinking as soon as he tackles them.
Any revolution envisioned without the annihilation of both caste and gender based inequalities would seriously have to be rethought. There is a progressive hypocrisy that pervades the left intelligentsia in this country but this understanding would remain incomplete if it does not take into account the work of Brahmanism in the caste Hindu society. “Revolution” and “Solidarity” are yet distant dreams.
The politics of future models itself on the selling of insurance policies. The agent will convince you that the future should be protected even at the cost of your death in the present. It demands that the resources should be made available for the future generation even if you have no access to it in the present. From the viewpoint of politics of the present, the future generation will need to recognize their own present and continue the struggles then.The present generation strives for liberty and equality for themselves in their own life time. And a livable present is a more assured offer than a better future.
We have to acknowledge that the Dalits and other marginal groups have a more intense and nuanced understanding of the rules of Indian politics than the left-liberal intelligentsia. The latter’s pragmatism, we might say, has led to their failure in even understanding what constitutes Dalit politics.
Radhika Vemula, the mother of deceased dalit scholar and Ambedkarite activist Rohith Vemula was on one side enslaved in anguish and on the other side has radically transformed herself by associating with the ambedkarite movement
Arundhati Roy on the wars of Indian state
Hindu Communists are not against Hinduism but only against Hindutva version of it. We reject both.
“Can Indian Feminist Movement be granted a pat on the back yet? Despite the hundreds of women marching on the streets more than a couple of times in the past few months, have they really found the space their voice demands in the social stratosphere yet? Or have we critically failed to uphold the voices of subalterns?”
“In a country that mints gold, a bazaar of bones is on show;
We’ve become holy wanderers on the waves of an illusion.”
Maranatha Wahlang’s revealing experiences of Hyderabad Central University and how Rohith Vemula’s experience was not an anomaly
Who is a dalit?
Members of scheduled castes and tribes, Neo-Buddhists, the working people, the landless and poor peasants, women and all those who are being exploited politically, economically and in the name of religion.
“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
(for Rohith Vemula) they pushed you to the edge of their village but, you broke into the cellars of their Agrahaaras they sealed your lips…
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
The camera tells us.
Keep your hands where I can see them.
Write your love letter