Gandhi and the Structure of Dalit Everyday Life


Anilkumar PV

Anilkumar pvAs a point of entry, let us focus on the indictment that Manabendra Nath Roy made in his 1938 book on fascism with regard to the form and content of Gandhian politics: he prophesied that if Gandhian politics continued the way it was practiced by MK Gandhi, it would, sooner or later, end up in fascism. Simple minded as we are, we may take the emergency declared and performed to perfection by Indira Gandhi, former prime minister of India, to be the high point of the manifestation of the political prophecy of Roy. Doing that would be stupidity of the highest order. The point is that it is not by equating Gandhism with Indira Gandhism that we should understand Roy's indictment because Indian National Congress, which was instrumental in openly displaying the fascistic content of the state, was a movement that, in Gandhi's eyes, had lost its relevance when India achieved independence and had to be liquidated then and there. So there is no point in making Gandhi responsible for the metastases and power-desires that were/are the characteristic marks of Indian National Congress in the post-independent era.

In order to understand the fascistic content of the politics represented by Gandhi, it is better to study "the structure of the everyday life", to use the subtitle of the French historian Fernand Braudel's ground-breaking work Civilization and Capitalism, that we the political beings are supposed and forced to live. The point is: there is a difference between the power exercised by people who occupy the positions of power and people who do not occupy power positions. The first one is naked, coercive and visible, whereas the second one is disguised, consent-driven, and invisible (yep, the very good old point our bad young foe Gramsci made, which I unashamedly repeat. But Eqbal Ahmad said that it is in the nature of "truth" to be repetitive!). The power exercised by people who are apparently outside the 'power points' of the hierarchical power-machine known as the nation-state by resorting to the logical and argumentative framework of those who are in power, is much more oppressive and clogging than the naked exercise of repressive and coercive power by power holders. In fact, the paper money of state power is backed strongly by the solid gold of beliefs, prejudices and practices of the tax-paying and politically correct citizens. It is such an exercise of disguised everyday-life power that the Malayalam poet and activist Sugathakumari and one of the known Gandhian thinkers in Keralam K Aravindakshan (also, a good old friend of mine, who helped me by lending the book Saraswathi Vijayam in 2000 when it was not available in the market) displayed in their article published in the Mathrubhoomi newspaper on August 27, 2014.


Even my children used to get assaulted: Chithralekha


Eramangalathu Chitralekha

On the occasion of International Women's Day, Bahujan Students' Front salutes all Bahujan revolutionaries who fought for gender equity in the oppressive casteist patriarchal system. It is due to the efforts of these valiant souls that we are here today, enabled to pen these very lines.

We would like to share today the speech given by Bahujan activist Chithralekha from Kerala on 6.1.2017., in a programme conducted by Bahujan Students' Front in the University of Hyderabad to commemorate the 186th birth anniversary of Kranthi Jyothi Savitribai Phule.

(The speech was translated from Malayalam to English by Susan Joseph and Sandeep K, both research scholars at the University of Hyderabad.)

chithralekha hcu 1

According to the Indian tradition, Goddess Saraswati is considered as the goddess of knowledge. But what has goddess Saraswati done for the upliftment of the oppressed people? Haven't she and her fellow gods been denying them their right to education? I am glad to attend this programme organised by the Bahujan Students' Front-HCU to commemorate the birth anniversary of Savitribai Phule who is the goddess of knowledge of the oppressed classes.


दलित का बेटा हूँ साहेब, शब्दों की रांपी ज़रा तेज है


गुरिंदर आज़ाद के काव्य संग्रह 'कंडीशन्स अप्लाई' की समीक्षा

Anita Bharti (अनिता भारती)

anita bयुवा क्रांतिकारी कवि गुरिंदर आज़ाद दलित मुद्दों पर जितनी पावरफुल फिल्म बनाते है उतनी ही पावरफुल उनकी कविताएं है। क्योंकि कवि एक जागरुक सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता भी है इसलिए सामाजिक बदलाव व चेतना के जितने आयाम है वह उनसे रोज़-ब-रोज़ रुबरु होता है। शायद यही कारण है कि गुरिंदर आज़ाद के पहला कविता संग्रह 'कंडीशंस अप्लाई' में शामिल कविताओं में जो तपिश है वह जलाती नही है अपितु पाठक के दिल- दिमाग को झकझोर कर रख देती है।

गुरिंदर आज़ाद की कविताओं का मुख्य स्वर शोषण और अत्याचार के खिलाफ आक्रोश है। दमन से उपजी निराशा न होकर उसको बदलने का ख्वाब है। कवि जाति शोषण, लिंग भेद, जल-जंगल-जमीन के सवाल, गांव से मजदूरी की तालाश में आए विस्थापित मजदूर मजदूरनियों के दर्द और संघर्ष का आँखों देखा यथार्थ बयान करता है। शहर के तालकोर की सड़क पर बेघर हरमा टुडू, बीना, चम्पी अम्मा या फिर जातिवाद के शिकार होकर मारे गए प्रतिभाशाली दलित छात्र अजय श्री चंद्रा, रोहित वेमुला कवि को संत्रास से भर देते है। इससे भी आगे जाकर युवा कवि गुरिंदर आज़ाद खुद अपने आप से और समाज में गहरे बैठे अंधविश्वास, पाखंड, घृणित मान्यताओं परंपराओं के ख़िलाफ जलती तिल्ली-सा संघर्ष अनवरत जारी रखता है। कवि को पूरा विश्वास है कि बदलाव और क्रांति का रास्ता संघर्ष और चेतना की मशाल सोनी सोरी, बिरसा मुंडा, साहेब , बाबा साहेब, ज्योतिबाफुले, सावित्रीबाई फुले के रास्ते से चलकर ही अपना पूरा जलवा बिखेरेगी।


From Breast Tax to Brahminical Stripping in Comics: Orijit Sen and Brahmin Sadomasochism


Pinak Banik

Pinak Banik"Only dead dalits make excellent dalits.
Only dead dalits become excellent sites where revolutionary fantasies blossom!" ~ Anoop Kumar

The context for this article centers around the selective fetishising of Dalit Bahujan whose deaths were 'spectacles' and hence "become excellent sites where revolutionary fantasies blossom". This comes served with obscene explicitism via White Brahmin Savarna networks of imperialist interests and caste solidarities. This commodification takes place, with a confident presupposition, that it will go unquestioned, unexamined and never subjected to any critical inspection, but rather eulogized (even with small internal disagreements), curated and extensively broadcasted.

Art Institutions as Eugenic caste centres

In India, there exists no institution within the Art establishment or even outside it which consecutively questions the routine practice of conquering Dalit Bahujan labor, creativity, history, struggles and epistemology. Evidence is in the absence of any critique.

This is because in India, the establishments of artistic production extending from the material aspects, to theoretical exposition, to validation and social rewards together form a closed system of elite castes' kinship network. The individual artist to art students, artist collectives, research opportunities, distribution system of curators, gallery, museums, system of grants and fellowship, overseas residencies etc cycles as material opportunities within elite castes (links 1-5). 


I Will Not Exit Your House Without Letting You Know That I am a Dalit


Riya Singh

riya singhYes, I am assertive. Assertive of my caste identity. It is not a 'fashion statement' trust me, it takes a lot of courage and training of your own self to be this assertive. You asked me what harm did you do to me. You know what you did, you asked me to let go, not resist , take those casteist comments 'easy' and not make a big issue about it. You know I was reminded of what Ambedkar had said, 'my own people betrayed me'. Yes, you betrayed me, you betrayed yourself and our community by not voicing and by not letting me raise a voice against the casteist behavior of his father. And I refuse to forgive you for this. I am sorry.

I was too happy to go to the hills for a vacation but not much time did it take for me to encounter the reality of life. Reality which I thought would not affect me, that I thought was a myth. I entered a friend's house after a lot of resistance, resistance because going to someone's house means you will be under scrutiny and endless questions about your family and background would be thrown direct at your face, sometimes in a mild, friendly manner and sometimes in an absurd, insulting way. This 'savarn' friend whose house I went to was the son of a retired Army officer. Before even the glass of water could reach me, his father had already got to know my native place, my father's profession and what my siblings were upto in life. And yes, he completely ignored that I had a mother too, about whom he did not bother to inquire. Probably like many others, he too thought that it's not relevant enough to bring my mother's life into the interaction we were having.


Interview with Prof Khalid Anis Ansari on the Pasmanda Movement


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 was produced by Gurinder Azad


हिन्दू भगवानो को परेशान मत कीजिये, रविदास बुद्ध कबीर से मार्गदर्शन लीजिये


Sanjay Jothe

परम संत रविदास का नाम ही एक अमृत की बूँद के जैसा है. जैसे भेदभाव, छुआछूत और शोषण से भरे धर्म के रेगिस्तान में अपनेपन, समानता और भाईचारे की छाँव मिल जाए. जैसे कि प्यास से तडपते हुए आदमी को ठंडा पानी मिल जाए. ऐसे हैं संत रविदास. इनकी जितनी तारीफ़ की जाए सो कम है. जो लोग रविदास को प्रेम करते हैं उन्हें बहुत सोच समझकर उनकी तारीफ़ करनी चाहिए. निंदा कैसी भी करनी हो कीजिये लेकिन तारीफ़ बहुत जान समझकर की जानी चाहिए. ये बात हमारे दलित युवाओं को बहुत गहराई से समझनी चाहिए. इसीलिये इस लेख में मैं संत रविदास को उनके असली रूप में सामने लाऊंगा ताकि संत रविदास को हिन्दू या ब्राह्मण सिद्ध करने के षड्यंत्र को बेनकाब किया जा सके.


हमारे दलित और आदिवासी युवाओं को यह बात ध्यान में रखनी चाहिए कि दलित और मूलनिवासी संतों को जबरदस्ती ब्राह्मण या हिन्दू साबित करने का काम इस देश में चलता आया है. उससे बचकर रहना चाहिए इसी में दलित और मूलनिवासी समाज की भलाई है. हमारे महापुरुष हमारे अपने हैं वे हमारी जाति में हमारे गरीब समाज में पैदा हुए थे. उन्होंने वही भेदभाव और अपमान सहा है जो हमारे बाप दादों ने हजारों साल तक सहा है. ऐसे में कोई ये कहे कि रविदास पिछले जन्म में ब्राह्मण थे तो इसका सीधा मतलब ये है कि वो आदमी हमसे हमारे महापुरुष को और हमारे बाप दादों की विरासत को चुराने आया है. उसे तुरंत अपने घर मोहल्ले और गाँव से बाहर निकाल दीजिये. वो हमारे संतों को खत्म करने आया है उससे हमें कोई बात नहीं करनी चाहिए.


Affirmative action in workspaces – the tick box phenomenon


Dr. Sylvia Karpagam

Sylvia pixLarge organizations working on human rights and development programs have a massive amount of resources and the luxury of separate departments for each aspect of administration and program implementation. These organisations are often proverbial 'ivory towers' that maintain strict overt and covert codes of gate-keeping that either allow a warm and welcoming access or a rigid and immovable barrier to entry.The traditional inmates of these ivory towers often possess a strong sense of entitlement– a hardened belief that they 'deserve' not just to be in their current locations, but at much senior positions and deserving of much more personal glory. These inmates share a jolly camaraderie and mutual self-love that comes from occupying equivalent social locations.

Of late, however, there is a growing justifiable demand from communities, not to mention overt pressure from international donors, partners and sister organisations, for affirmative action in these organisations – a pressure which cannot be as easily ignored as it has successfully been for the last several years.

Since the curious business of affirmative action cannot now be entirely kept at bay, the creative, nuanced and perplexing process of devious avoidance begins. What role does devious avoidance play in the implementation of affirmative action? It unravels in manifold ways.


Ambedkarism Is the Path of a New Liberated Democratic World

 Chalo Thiruvananthapuram Article Series – Part 1

Sathy Angamali

sathyDemocracy is a total world view that human kind could attain through ideological discourses. But the root cause to the problems that we are entangled in lies in the fact that in contemporary India, not only the fundamental values of democracy are rejected, but the majority is holding firmly the invisible world of Caste-Varna laws where there is no place for human prestige, fraternity, imagination of equality. 2500 years before when Greeks have given form to different Political theories, in India Buddha had already propagated similar philosophies which were of utmost significance. The humane culture with philosophical basis which he had raised by urging equality between Man and Man was written along with the praxis of political ideology. His powerful reasoning, accurate and in depth logic and above all his fervent love towards humans were capable of constructing a democratic society. But when we say that democracy was born in Greek Civilization States, Greek philosopher Aristotle was a person who accepted Slavery. When history convinces us of the fact that women and slaves didn't have freedom in Greece, we become cognizant that Buddha is a great personality given by India to the world.


On the Anxieties surrounding Dalit Muslim Unity


Ambedkar Reading Group Delhi University 

argduRecently we saw the coming together of Dalits and Muslims at the ground level, against a common enemy - the Hindu, Brahminical State and Culture - in many instances. It was a unification of lower caste groups and Muslims that we witnessed in the struggles of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) in University of Hyderabad (UoH) too. Such a combination was what irked the authorities in UoH, which led to the persecution and eventual suicide/institutional murder of Rohith Vemula. However, in spite of this, the intellectual discussions that are happening today seem to be writing off any Dalit-Muslim unity as an impossible and even undesirable political formation by pointing to the existence of caste among Muslims.[i]

Caste is integral to the formation of almost all identity groups in India as it is foundational to the social and cultural fabric of India. Moreover, if we look at all marginalized and oppressed groups, it was the dominant caste/community among them that was involved in organizing the community.[ii] So, social stratification (on the basis of various factors including caste) is a reality for all minority groups including Muslims. Even Babasaheb Ambedkar wrote about this in his seminal work, Annihilation of Caste.[iii] However, all of the above articles, and much of the present day discussions use the category of caste to abandon the Muslim question and see it anew from within the ambit of a larger anti-caste location. We feel that there are serious problems with this political and theoretical move and this is what we want to problematize in this piece.


Love and Marriage: Caste and Social Spaces



~ An ideal society should be mobile, should be full of channels for conveying a change taking place in one part to other parts. In an ideal society there should be many interests consciously communicated and shared. There should be varied and free points of contact with other modes of association. In other words there should be social endosmosis. This is fraternity, which is only another name for democracy. Democracy is not merely a form of Government. It is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellow men.1 ~ Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar

kotesu sunita ilavarasan

Social spaces2 are political. Who we meet, dine, date, socialize in a geographical set is largely governed by the politics of who gets to be where, which in a caste-society discerns from who is born –where. A social space could be a theatre, workplace, school or college, a housing community etc. and the construction of social spaces in a caste-society is a product of the machinations of the governing class. Agraharam, Ooru, and Colony-Cheri as social spaces are products of caste system, a marker of an array of castes. As such as being the products of the caste-system, these spaces are inherently anti-social or what is indicated by Dr. Ambedkar as the absence of social-endosmosis. Corporate Board rooms, staff rooms in central universities, cafes - restaurants, malls/multiplexes correspond to the same significance of the Agraharam in reserving spaces predominantly for dominant castes. The duality of these spaces in being modern in appeal and feudal in character, democratic in letter and brahmanical in their constitution - underlies the headways Brahmanism has made during what is often dubbed as development course by the Indian state.


Book Excerpts: 'Ambedkarite Movement after Ambedkar'


J.V. Pawar 

The creation and the production of the literature has always been at the heart of the larger Dalit movement. Dalit Literature has its origin in the anti-caste movement started by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar; hence it is often called the Ambedkarite Movement. J. V. Pawar, being one of the founding members of the revolutionary anti-caste movement, Dalit Panthers, in Maharashtra, is a well known literary figure in Maharashtra. However, more than a writer or a literary person, J.V. Pawar prefers to call himself an activist of the movement, an activist who has always been ready to take to the streets if necessary and fight for the rights of the people, fight against injustice imposed upon masses in this caste-society. His own identification of himself as an activist more than a literary figure or a writer or a poet, has over the period shaped his interpretations, his outlook about narrating the story of the Ambedkarite Movement, the movement with which he has been associated since he was just adolescence. He is around 73 years old now.

jv pawar

Being the writer of more than 40 books about Ambedkarite/Dalit Movement, his unique contribution in the world of literature is his five volumes project of 'Ambedkarite Movement after Ambedkar' in which he depicted events, conflicts, triumphs of the Ambedkarite world in Maharashtra which are otherwise not known to many people. His writing is in Marathi. His narration about small events took place within the anti-caste movement in Maharashtra is something which is very unique in his books. This is his first volume which is translated by Yogesh Maitreya in English and published by Panther's Paw Publication. The publisher's objective behind translating and publishing such narrative is to inform and tell the people the story of Ambedkarites, Dalits, and Buddhists , their movement and their struggle written by no one but themselves.


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