Utkal Divas or Celebration of Brahmin Hegemony


Jitendra Suna

jitendra sunaOrissa as a separate state was established in 1 April 1936. There is widespread celebration of Utkal Divas among the Oriyas1 in Orissa and as well as outside Orissa. The academic spaces are not free from this. Oriya students from various campuses such as JNU, Hyderabad, Pondicherry and other universities also celebrate this day as Independence Day. When I said Oriya I am not saying that all people who are staying in Orissa are Oriya. By saying Oriya, I am basically referring to the people who live in coastal Orissa.

At this juncture it is necessary to ask some basic questions, such as: is it really an independence day, and if so, for whom? Are Bahujans (SC, ST, OBC and minorities) free from the slavery of caste and Brahminism in Orissa? Are women free from the shackles of Brahminism which is the worst form of patriarchy in the world? Since Dalits and Adivasis form a major section of Orissa population, where are the heroes of Adivasis like Laxman Naik, Rendo Majhi, Birsa Munda and many others? What are the conditions of Dalit-Adivasis in Orissa?


Being Queer in Casteist India


Manish Gautam

Manish GautamQueer "signifies lives which challenge the heterosexual norm", and the heterosexual norm means "the only valid way of sexually/romantically relating to one another is within the framework of either marriage or heterosexual relationship" [1]. Here queer is posed in opposition to heterosexuality or heteronormativity, and it has been attempted to present a brief definition of what heteronormativity might mean. There are, however, following questions in my mind that I want to explore to understand the Queer in India: what does it mean to be heterosexual, and what are the historical-sociological meanings ascribed to heteronormativity in India?

Homosexuality (and Bisexuality) are considered transgressions from the norm of heterosexuality, and therefore are punished using various means by society and State alike. Although the degree, forms and characteristics of these punishments may vary in both the institutions. For example, the society 'invisibilizes' the non-heterosexual behaviours by trying to suppress it (usually by coercive means) using marriage as tool. Sometimes these punishments can be banishments (which are rare though) from the family and inheritance [2]. While the state punishes certain sexual acts under the pretence of punishing 'unnatural sexual acts'.


Caste in the Urban: Bangalore as case study


Pranav Kuttiah

PranavKuttaiahIn the aftermath of the horrific mass molestation that took place in Bangalore on New Year's Day, I put up a small status on Facebook. As a Bangalorean, I found that the event was deplorable, but certainly not shocking. Bangalore, in my experience, has always been a space of entrenched casteism and patriarchy that its upper-caste residents like to shrug off so as to compare themselves favourably to northern parts of India. The exact words I used were:

"I've lived in Bangalore pretty much most of my life, and with a fair idea of the city I think it's pretty safe to say that what happened on New Year's was utterly deplorable but certainly not shocking.

As south Indians, we are experts in the art of sweeping our sexism, casteism etc under the carpet and attempting to push the entirety of the blame of the "Indian image" on people from UP, Bihar, Delhi etc (and let's not pretend there isn't a caste context to these generalizations, because when it's convenient we all migrate across the country for opportunities).

Whenever we discuss something like sexism or casteism we get stuck on overt, in-your-face instances of discrimination. The truth is that these issues are systemic, they are insidious, they are a part of the very fabric of the way our societies function - they exist and are reinforced in every structure from the home to the school to the workplace.


A regressive campus feeling the Ambedkarite heat


Sumit Turuk

sumit turukJai Bhim was never a slogan among the "progressives", who are in fact regressive, of JNU until around mid 2015. It grew louder among them post Rohith Vemula's institutional murder, considering the imminent threat of Dalit Bahujan Student assertion which started gaining a much powerful form across campuses in India. The anti-caste discourse in JNU actually manifested only through Dalit Bahujan student forums and the slogans of Jai Bhim, Jai Birsa, Jai Savitri and Jai Phule were earlier limited to these circles. These forums organized talks, conferences and various programmes that strongly reflect the anti-caste assertion and also challenged the narratives of Brahmanical supremacy. For example, organizing Mahisasur Diwas in campus, proposals for Beef festival inside campus etc. A major chunk of the Savarna hegemonized left academia (their excellencies) within the campus would sit silent and be a mute spectator to the narratives and spectacles that glorify the barbarity of Brahmanical supremacy over the Dalit Bahujans and there are also many renowned voices among them who have been strongly opposing provisions of reservations for SC, ST, OBC students as well as in faculty recruitment of these categories.

Many Dalit Bahujan students are still unaware of these narratives due to the historical hegemony of savarnas (both belonging to the so-called left and right wing) over knowledge production and distribution. And most "left regressive" savarnas, while being the beneficiaries and contributors to this knowledge production, never tried to question the sanctity of these Brahminical narratives and processes of historical writings that are very much a part of the academia. These developments further the challenge for Dalit Bahujan organizations and activists to facilitate mechanisms to disseminate the production of Dalit Bahujan writtings that is in sharp contrast to the brahminical narratives sheltered by "Left regressives" in academia.


Why Trump failed and Modi succeeded in passing new laws forcefully


S Kumar

There are many parallels between Indian PM Modi and US President Trump. However, the focus of this article is only on why is Modi able to push through his agenda by passing new laws while Trump is unable to get through his way in the law making process.

In US, Trump's first proposed reform i.e. Healthcare bill to repeal Obamacare can't be passed despite the Republicans having absolute majority in the Legislature. This was possible because Congress (equivalent to Lok Sabha) stalled it and the opposition came from the ruling Republican party members. At the same time, Modi is able to pass almost 14 laws, including some controversial laws, simultaneously with the annual Budget. Modi Govt has been able to pass almost every Law (except Land Amendment Act) in the last 3 years of his power.

syam public order

In the US system which is a Presidential system, there is a complete box like separation of Power between the Executive and the Legislature. This makes the Executive accountable to Legislature, however the survival of the Government is not dependent on the support of Legislature.


Caste should be seen as the overarching category in Indian society: Khalid Anis Ansari


Round Table India

In this episode of the Ambedkar Age series, Round Table India talks to Prof. Khalid Anis Ansari, Director, Dr. Ambedkar Centre for Exclusion Studies & Transformative Action (ACESTA), Glocal University, Uttar Pradesh.


The interview focuses on the Pasmanda movement, on the issues of secularism/communalism and on the upper caste hegemony in all political, cultural and social fields in India. The interview was conducted by Kuffir, Contributing Editor, Round Table India, and produced by Gurinder Azad.

You can watch the full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWeeaXADPBw


Kuffir: So, what does Pasmanda mean?

Khalid Anis Ansari: Pasmanda is a Persian term, which means ‘those who have been left behind’. So if you look at the term, it has parallels to the term ‘Dalit’, which is used for the ex-untouchables. Dalit means broken down, someone who has been stepped upon. So it’s a similar term. Pasmanda actually encapsulates the Bahujan Muslims. Just like in the so-called Hindu community, there are OBCs, Dalits, STs, and the Bahujan term is the broad signifier which captures these experiences - similarly, Pasmanda captures the experiences of the OBC Muslims, the Shudra Muslims, the Ati-shudra Muslims, and also the Adivasi Muslims. So it’s a broad signifier; it’s an umbrella term which captures all these groups.


Bheel Intellectual Forum: Heartbeat of Dalit Activism in Pakistan


Sufi Ghulam Hussain

On 26th of March, the Bheel Intellectual Forum (BIF) organized a Scheduled Caste Jagarta Rally, the first ever rally that saw the participation of all major Dalit communities of Sindh. Kolhi, Bheel, Meghwar and Baghri walked through the streets of Mithi city of Tharparkar to demand rights of Scheduled castes communities, and the Dalit leaders spoke on the importance of marking the Scheduled Castes option in the ongoing 6th population census in Pakistan. Interestingly, in census forms, the 'Scheduled Caste' category has been inserted as one of the religions in opposition to 'Hindu' category. Dalits have been left to mark either 'Hindu' or Scheduled Caste in the census form. This has put Dalit communities in an unusual situation as almost 95 percent of Dalits in Pakistan are believed to be Hindus by religion. Dalit leadership has risen up to the challenge to assert themselves as the most original indigenous Dravidian 'Scheduled caste Hindus'. Despite very huge opposition and internal conspiracies fomented by the foot soldiers of Brahmanism, BIF along with Dalit Sujaag Tehreek, Scheduled Caste Federation of Pakistan, Sindh Kolhi Itehad - all voluntary community based social and political organizations of Dalits, have been at the forefront to mobilize Dalits to mark 'Scheduled Caste' instead of 'Hindu' in the March-April census, 2017.

mahesh bheel

Mahesh Bheel, 27, along with Lajpat Rai Bheel, Chetan Bheel and Bhagchand Bheel, is one of the founding members of BIF. He has been ex-President and currently a member of the Bheel Lawyers' Forum that deals with legal cases pertaining to Bheel and Dalit communities. BIF was initially a university students' association formed on 25th November, 2010, that gradually came to be the most vibrant community driven Dalit forum. Making themselves visible to the mainstream, shaming the upper caste Hindu business class, and mobilizing through rhetorical speeches is the modus operandi of BIF. BIF activists work like a team.


जे.एन.यू. में ब्राह्मणवाद की खेती: जितेन्द्र सुना


जितेन्द्र सुना

मुथुकृष्ण्न की संस्थानिक हत्या के विरोध में 16 मार्च, 2017, को बपसा द्वारा आयोजित प्रदर्शन मे भाषण; अंग्रेजी से हिंदी में अनुवाद: अंजली

jitendra sunaमेरा नाम जितेन्द्र सुना है और मैं उड़ीसा के कालाहांडी जिले के एक सुदूर गाँव पोउर्केला से हूँ| मैंने अपनी हाई स्कूल की पढाई बी. आर. अम्बेडकर उच्च विद्यापीठ पोउर्केला से की, लेकिन उस दौरान मुझे यह नहीं पता था कि डॉ. अम्बेडकर कौन थे? जब मैं आठवीं कक्षा में था उस समय मैंने अपनी माँ को खो दिया, मेरी माँ हमारे परिवार की मुखिया थी| मेरी माँ हमें साइंस स्कूल में पढ़ाना चाहती थी लेकिन उनकी मृत्यु के बाद मेरे परिवार की आर्थिक स्थिति इतनी अच्छी नहीं थी कि हम साइंस स्कूल में पढ़ सके| अपनी बारहवीं कक्षा की पढ़ाई पूरी करने के बाद मैं कुछ पैसे कमाने के लिए दिल्ली आ गया| मैं अपने भाई के साथ काम पर जाता था| मेरा भाई उस समय आई. जी. एल. (इन्द्रप्रस्थ गैस लिमिटेड) में सहायक के पद पर काम किया करता था, मैंने भी वहां सहायक के पद पर काम करना शुरू किया | वहां हम लोगों के साथ एक और आदमी भी काम करता था, जिसका नाम अभी मुझे याद नहीं है, लेकिन उसका आखिरी नाम मुरारी था | वह अक्सर मेरे भाई से पूछा करता था, "सुना का मतलब क्या है"? मेरा भाई हमेशा इस सवाल से बचने की कोशिश करता और कभी अपना गोत्र और जाति नहीं बताता था| मैंने दिल्ली में रहने के दौरान इस असहजता को महसूस किया | एक साल काम करने के बाद, मैं अपने गाँव वापिस चला गया और वहां बी. ए. में एडमिशन लिया |

अस्पृश्यता और जातिगत भेदभाव की घटनाएँ मेरे गाँव और पूरे उड़ीसा में घटने वाली बर्बरतापूर्ण घटनाएं हैं | बचपन में मेरा एक दोस्त था जो मेरे ही गाँव से था | मैं अपने उस दोस्त को खास अवसरों पर अपने घर खाने पर आमंत्रित करता था| वह बहुत मिन्नतें करने पर मेरे घर में कुछ खाता था| जब भी मैं उसके घर जाता, तो मुझे उसके घर के बाहर कुछ खाने को दिया जाता, यहाँ तक की मुझे घर के बरामदे तक में नहीं बैठने दिया जाता था| उसके घर खाना खाने के बाद मुझे बर्तन धोकर वापिस करने पड़ते| ऐसा व्यवहार मेरे लिए इसलिए होता था क्योंकि मैं दलित समुदाय से था| ऐसा छुआछूत का व्यवहार रोजमर्रा की बात थी; यह अछूतपन हमारे जीवन में सामान्य व्यवहार का हिस्सा था| उस समय मैं यह नहीं सोच सकता था कि यह सही है या गलत, क्योंकि मैंने यह व्यवहार अपने जन्म से देखा था | एक दिन अपने दोस्त से बाते करते-करते मैं उसके घर के दरवाजे तक चला गया, उसकी माँ अचानक डर गई जब उसने देखा कि मैंने दरवाजे को छू दिया है| वह तुरंत मुझ पर चिल्लाई और बोली, "तुम्हारी हिम्मत कैसे हुई मेरे घर में आने की, तुम छत से गिरे पानी की तरह हो जो घर में नहीं आ सकता"| मुझे यह सुनकर धक्का लगा | मुझे समझ नहीं आया कि मैं क्या कहूँ| मैं वहां एक मिनट तक जड़ खड़ा रहा| उसके बाद मैं बैठ गया और जब बात करने की स्थिति में आया तो मैंने अपने दोस्त से पूछा, "हेंता केन (क्या ऐसा है)?" तब उसने कहा, "हाँ, लोग क्या कहेंगे अगर तुम घर के भीतर आओगे तो, ये ठीक नहीं है"| इस दुर्घटना के बाद मैं न ढंग से सो सका, न खा सका और न ठीक से बात कर सका, मैं बहुत ही व्यथित और उदास हो गया था| इसके बाद मैंने अपने दोस्त के घर जाना बंद कर दिया | उस वक्त मुझे अस्पृश्यता उन्मूलन कानून [Prevention of Atrocities (SC/ST)] के बारे में नहीं पता था कि कोई कानून ऐसा है जो अस्पृश्यता और छुआछूत के व्यवहार के खिलाफ है | दलितों को अगर इस कानून के बारे में जानकारी है, तब भी वे इन घृणित और अपमानजनक प्रथाओं के बारे में कुछ नहीं कर पाते है|

जितेन्द्र सुना के संबोधन का लिंक:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h3JdObYGUs


Dr. Khatumal Jeewan on the Rise of Meghwars in local Politics of lower Sindh


Dr Khatumal Jeewan

dr khatumalDr Khatumal Jeewan (Khatu) is the most celebrated Dalit leader of Pakistan. He has been senator, four times MNA (Member of National Assembly)  and two times MPA (Member of Provincial Assembly) on party ticket of Pakistan People's Party, between 1985 and 2013. This speech was delivered at a time when the Meghwar community had organized itself around the leadership of Dr Khatumal Jeewan. These were the times when Sodha Thakurs, the traditional upper caste Hindu heads of Thar region of Sindh had just stopped taunting and denigrating Meghwars and Bheels, and had started to reckon their vote bank. Although Dr Khatumal Jeewan and Eng. Giyanchand were elected on party tickets of the feudal-capitalist and casteist party (PPP), it was nevertheless the beginning of Dalit political assertion at a micro political level, and provided reasons for experiences of self-esteem. In the successive democratic governments that ensued after the end of the martial regime of General Zia-ul-Haq in late 1980s.

The speech was delivered in 1995-96 (the exact date is unconfirmed). Dr Khatumal Jeewan delivered this speech to the Meghwar community at a private wedding of the son of Arjan Das Meghwar held in the village Jhapyo, Mithi, Tharparkar Sindh. Dr Khatumal Jeewan was then MNA (1993-96), and Eng. Giyanchand Meghwar was MPA (1993-96). In this short speech, he reflects on the oppressed past, existing challenges to Dalit communities, about his own trust in Eng. Giyanchand (both Meghwars) about his commitment to the community and the need for trans-local Scheduled castes or a Dalit alliance. This speech gives the background to later Dalit politics in Pakistan up till now in 2017. It also shows the deep-seated desire to achieve self-respect and dignity in a society which is still wanting, and where Dalits continue to be discriminated and humiliated in various coarse and subtle ways.


Vayalar Rebellion: A Rethought


Anilkumar PV

Anilkumar pvThere is no other grand claim about history as that of Hegel's inimitable remark: "God is God only in so far as he knows himself." It was Marx who liberated thought from the idealism of Hegel and placed it in the materiality of the productive relations of history. And, as we all know, he sharpened his ears for the siren calls of class struggle to make their mellifluence in the industrially advanced society of England. But, tragically, the Marxist notion of class as a self conscious entity performed its historic mission in the political frames of the east known by 'oriental despotism', which was accused to be represented by Mao and Lenin. In other words, what in reality the prophecy of Marxism did, in the guise of finding an agency which would be responsible for the annihilation of the liberal bourgeois political system of the industrialized countries, was to dig up an agency called 'peasants' in the backward economies of the east, which then was instrumental in transforming the productive relations of one despotic system into another despotic system with  different production relations.

Those who have read Mao's 1927 classic "Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan" will remember the way in which Mao celebrates and glorifies peasant revolution: "the fact is that the broad peasant masses have risen to fulfill their historic mission, that the democratic forces in the rural areas have risen to overthrow the feudal power.....It is very good indeed. It is not a "mess" at all. It is anything but "an awful mess"." We have already seen the theoretical foundation of this glorification in a text written by Lenin in 1899, "The Development of Capitalism." In this work, even after recognizing the industrial and political backwardness of Russia when compared to Western Europe, he still maintains that Russia was a capitalist economy.


"I don't have much belief in the system": Actor Vinayakan talks to the Media


Rakesh Ram S

Vinayakan, a Dalit actor from Kerala, began his career as a dancer and has been an actor for more than 20 years now in Malayalam and other south Indian movies. Initially he played small roles, but the many strong characters that he did in recent times have given him a large fan following. His acting in the movie Kammatipadam for the role of Ganga received widespread applause from the audience.

vinayakan 5

There had been protests in social media when different movie awards given by television channels in Kerala did not consider him for the best actor award. So when the Kerala State Award for the best actor was announced for Vinayakan it was widely celebrated by the people. This is the transcript of Vinayakan's interaction with the press after winning the Kerala State Award for best male actor for the movie Kammatipadam on 9th March 2017. It was translated by Rakesh Ram S. The video can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7BivI68lZ8&feature=share


Namaskaram to all. For me, receiving the film award for last year, felt like after some time the award left my hands and became a part of the people, I saw such a thing happening. I am not sure about what happened, and why it came like a protest. But since the day Kammatipadam was released, people have been talking about this, and while it was going on what I understood is that behind it there is some kind of protest, and I am of the opinion that it was neither me nor the film. We need to understand this in future and we shouldn't let it be a revolt and even if it comes out as a revolt it should be a good result. Other than that I can talk more if you ask me questions.


Interview with Dr Manisha Bangar on Current Issues & the Mulnivasi Bahujan movement


Round Table India

In this episode of the Ambedkar Age series, Round Table India talks to Dr Manisha Bangar, Vice President, BAMCEF.

dr manisha bangar

In the interview, Dr Manisha Bangar talks about a wide spectrum of current issues, and the Mulnivasi Bahujan perspective on them. She explicates the conceptual underpinnings of the Mulnivasi Bahujan movement, traces the history of the movement and its rapid expansion in the last few decades. She also offers a robust critique of mainstream feminism, savarna media narratives and Brahmanwadi discourses.  

The interview was conducted by Kuffir, and produced by Amarnath Sandipamu. It was recorded on 25 November, 2016.


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