'Indian education doesn't have any emancipatory agenda': Prof Vivek Kumar


 Round Table India

This is the transcription of Round Table India's interaction with Prof Vivek Kumar, Professor, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, for the Ambedkar Age series of films.

Prof Vivek Kumar III

In the interview, Prof Vivek Kumar touches upon a vast range of subjects, including the contours of Indian politics in the last four decades, the Bahujan movement, Dalit assertion and literature etc. He talks about the conceptualisation of the Bahujan Movement by Saheb Kanshi Ram, and its evolution and growth over the years. He also shares experiences from his own participation in the movement as a journalist, researcher, teacher, writer and public intellectual.


How Privileged Are You? (Authentic version)


Rajesh Rajamani


rajesh rajamani


Has a know-it-all ISJW (Internet Social Justice Warrior) asked you to check your privilege? Did you misunderstand the statement and check the online dictionary to verify if the word is spelled as ‘privilege’ or ‘privelige’? Have you wondered why someone tagged you in a social media post that said: “When You're Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression”? Or in spite of your busy schedule, have you self-reflected in a moment of weakness and pondered over how privileged you might be?


Worry not! We bring to you the most (more or less) accurate scientific questionnaire that could easily help you identify your level of privilege.


Brahminism's beef with beef


Anuraag Khaund

anuragOften while engaging in a debate with my friends from other parts of India especially the North in my campus in Guwahati over the present contemporary contentious issue of dietary preferences, I am mostly met with the following rhetoric- Don’t you have compassion in your heart? Don’t you feel a pain in your heart every time you bite a tandoori? And it continues. On the broader picture meat, especially beef has today emerged as a marker of nationalism and citizenship with “violators” either lynched as in the case of Dadri or stabbed to death like Hafiz Junaid. However, the common feature of these two aforementioned incidents and my debates in college is the increasing emphasis on the notion of certain dietary practices as being “impure” which ought to be abolished, even with violence if necessary and the imposition of a “purer” form of food habit. Vegetarianism, widely celebrated and ascribed a status of respect within 'Hinduism' was also seen as a marker of difference between the stratifications of the caste system with sections having a strong preference for meat being relegated to the lowest rungs of the caste structure as non-veg dietary practices were perceived as impure. However, if examined closely, Vedic Hinduism has an association with meat and especially beef, stretching back in time.


Election Manifesto 2017-18 of BAPSA



The JNU student community is about to elect a student body to represent them. The election is not just about choosing a representative. It is about the right response to a farce state of affairs. We are witnessing an unprecedented assault on the education in general, universities in particular. The attack on us is not a fact which needs explanation. It is evident and blatant. Therefore, the issue here is not whether we are under attack or not. It is not even by whom, because, now we are ruled by one of the most regressive right wing force, BJP in the country. It is well known that our VC is a stooge appointed by the existing government. Moreover, it is always the marginalised who are at the receiving end of such institutional manipulations. Thus, the real and pertinent question is how to fight and what should be the course of such struggle. The fight to live is the biggest fight for the oppressed. Unfortunately, for the marginalised sections of this great nation, even that struggle is not always a successful one. It is shameful that this is true even in supposed to be the most secured places of this country such as our own university. Our beloved friend Krish committed suicide. J R Philemon Chiru was found dead in his own room. Najeeb is yet to return.

bapsa 2017 panel

There never exists a tomorrow for struggle. Struggle is real and perpetual. However, struggle always need not be a physical act on the street. It also can be a farsighted preparedness for such a day in a library. The triumph of the oppressed over the oppressor is not just a victory of one class over the other, instead it is a victory of emancipation over oppression. But we can't be that naive altogether, there are some classes and castes which stand in our way between oppression and emancipation. For this to happen, the oppressed need to embrace physical, political and moral weapons. Unfortunately, the oppression of caste is not just oppression, it also is the very denial of all the three weapons for the emancipation of the oppressed and the annihilation of the oppression. Any meaningful struggle of the oppressed needs to keep this fact in mind for breaking the trammels of caste. To gain these weapons, the oppressed need to educate for moral weapons, agitate for self respect and organise for political weapons. There exists no god to save us, no hero to fight for us and no savior to liberate us. But, there is some one, real than god, exemplary than a hero and farsighted than a saviour, Ambedkar to guide us in our battle. The battle is real, enduring and tedious. We have more enemies to fight than friends to accompany. We know, the battle is neither easy, nor short, but, didn't Ambedkar say and we uphold, "With justice on our side, I do not see how we can lose our battle".


“Their Seats of Power Are Shaking in the Face of Oppressed Unity”

Shabana Ali

 (This is a rough transcript in English of Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association’s Presidential Candidate for JNUSU elections 2017 Shabana Ali’s almost 33-minute long speech at BAPSA’s pre-election General Body Meeting (GBM) at the Mahi-Mandvi Mess, held on the 2nd of September, 2017.)

bapsa poster


Brahminical Genesis of Hindutva and Left Politics in India



 “The Brahmins form the vanguard of the movement for political reform, and in some cases also of economic reform. But they are not to be found even as camp-followers in the army raised to break down the barricades of Caste. Is there any hope of the Brahmins ever talking up a lead in the future in this matter? I say no. It is useless to make distinction between the secular Brahmins and priestly Brahmins. Both are kith and kin. They are two arms of the same body, one is bound to fight for the existence of the other”. ~Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar in Annihilation of Caste,1936.

Bapsa poster rajesh

 Brahminism and the Brahmin in India have survived through different labels (state, government, seculars, liberals, left, ruling class, capitalist, class, ‘Indian nationalists’, Hindutva, feminism, colonialism, ‘elite nationalism’, Congress, BJP, Indian academics, social scientists etc), and as a result has been able to hide its Hindu religious core. Left politics in India has masked its Brahminical face in the name of critiquing Hindutva thus concealing its complicity in upholding Brahminism. Hindutva due to its extremely violent tendencies in the name of the nation, nationalism has almost created an illusion of Hindu religion as benign. Hindutva has basically done service to Brahminism making people believe that Hindu religion is their personal faith and has nothing to do with the violence that Hindutva endorses. But this is a myth; it is this personal Hindu faith or religion which endorses caste dictated purity-pollution norms which is horrifically oppressive to lower castes. Hindu religious texts are filled with horrific violence and bloodshed of Bahujans. This division of Hindu religion being different from Hindutva has masked the exploitative nature of Hindu religion apart from other factors. Hindutva masked Hinduism. Hindutva originators are none other than Brahmins like V.D. Savarkar, Hedgewar and M.S Golwalkar.


Graded Solidarity: An Interview with Ambedkarite Rapper Sumeet Samos


Tejaswini Tabhane

"Revising our past time and again.
It drives me insane,
Like a stream of current flowing through my vein,
Squeezing out all the gray matters of my brain.
I see too many patches of caste slavery stains.
In this very lane,
We will blow up Manu's kingdom no one us can restrain.
We busting all your myths, learn from us how to be humane.
Yo this is us Children of Counter Culture,
Counter Culture, this is us."

sumeetThese are the powerful rhymes of resistance of a charming young man who raps about caste-based oppression and exclusion. Music, poetry and dance are certainly not new to Dalit struggle, but rapping is. It is very courageous of Sumeet to introduce this completely new form of dissent to the movement when he had and continues have no supporting structures.


Brahminism in India: Decoding the Politics of Universalism and Marxism in Jawaharlal Nehru University

Jitendra Suna

jitendra sunaMarxism and Universalism are always associated with progressivism in politics everywhere across the world. However, this so called Universalism can be detrimental in a specific spatial, geographic location. In the case of India, Marxism becomes the tool in the hand of Brahmins and upper castes, which has been used by them to preserve their caste capital and power. In order to maintain their long historical hegemony and social capital, upper castes use Marxism and Universalism as a tool to hide their Brahminical oppressive face under the banner of ideology.

The ideology of Brahminism and its logic is constantly changing. Ambedkarites are consistently challenging this hereditary disease i.e. Brahminism of Hindus which traditionally inherited thousands of years of history. This hereditary transmitted disease can be found in each and every walk of Indian life. Universities campuses are not free from it.


Dilip Kumar: A Baghbaan of Pasmanda Movement


Abhijit Anand

abhijitBollywood and Society

We love, eat and pray Bollywood. Celebrities are celebrated beyond boundaries. Bollywood actors and actresses capture huge space of mind and they influence us the audience beyond the space confined by the cinema-hall walls. We carry stars in our lives and at times live stars' reel lives in our own real lives. So, it becomes pertinent that we discuss their influence that ruptures the society's discourses and the society at large. Unfortunately, Bollywood celebrities have faced a lot of criticism for their silences and mute performances when they were required to go beyond the call of their duty. This is not quite true in other countries in the spaces of art and culture, especially in Hollywood. A celebrity's advocacy for social causes is a norm and it reflects the maturity of the society at large.

George Clooney launched Enough Project; Akon, the Lighting Africa; and Meryl Streep, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), for instance. Meryl Streep's passionate speech at a fundraising gala for HRC, a national LGBT group at Golden Globes award ceremony, needs a special mention. She had not only won the Golden Globe award but also million hearts for heartfelt criticism of Donald Trump.

A celebrity's lack of interest in social causes and larger politics could be a matter of debate, yet we can safely posit that Indian celebrities have selfishly received from society and have failed to give back in return.

dilip kumar6

(Various shades of the superstar) Source: @TheDilipKumar (official Twitter handle of Dilip Saheb)

Dilip Kumar: An exception

Was this always the case? I am not sure, but there comes to my mind an exception to this general rule. And this exception is the exceptionally talented superstar and most loved tragedy king of all times, the first Khan among the Khans, Dilip Kumar aka Yusuf Khan. Very few people know that Dilip Saheb has participated extensively in the struggles of marginalized among the Muslim community, despite coming from an upper caste and having achieved an elite status among the elites of the country. This is quite rare and an exceptional feat. The thespian has spent a substantial time of his late working life off the stage, participating with activists of All India Muslim OBC Organization (AIMOBCO) for the rights of Pasmandas in Maharashtra.


An open letter to Hon’ble Minister Mr. Ramdas Athawale


Raju Chalwadi

raju chalwadi 1This letter has been written in keeping with the philosophy that critical self-evaluation and accountability of the movement and leaders itself is necessary and a pre-condition for it to succeed.

 Dalit politics has reached a critical stage; the decline of BSP and co-optation of prominent Dalit leaders by the current establishment has put the entire project of Social Justice in limbo.

I hope the readers while reading this letter would consider me as someone who is concerned with the current stage of Ambedkarite politics and not as someone who is anti-reservationist or anti-Dalit leaders.

An open letter to Hon'ble Minister Mr. Ramdas Athawale

Respected Sir,

I am writing this letter to express my concern with regards to the situation of Dalits in "New India." This letter is specifically written to you because as you have been the only person in the current right wing establishment who has come from an 'Ambedkarite' tradition. A tradition which strongly resists discrimination in any forms. You not only represent a section of radical and educated Ambedkarite masses but also the Republican Party of India (a faction) which was envisaged by Dr. BR Ambedkar. How important the dream was for him to establish the RPI can be ascertained from the fact that despite being ill in his final stages of life he was busy in arranging meetings with leaders to finalize the structure of RPI. He wrote a letter to Ram Manohar Lohia on 24th Nov 1956 for the meet but Lohia responded to him by asking Ambedkar to focus on his health instead. But, he was not concerned about his health; he wrote two more letters on the night of 5th December 1956 just a few hours before his death; one to SM Joshi and another to Acharya Atre regarding the RPI. Such was his eagerness to establish the party which he thought would fight for the masses.


Ganesh, Gandhi, Goumutra: The many scams of Brahminism


Obed Manwatkar

obed manwatkar"Hinduism  is not a religion, it's a disease." ~ Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar

On 9th November 2014, Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai, a senior Journalist of the so-called 'mainstream electronic media' tweeted to the world that Mr. Manohar Parrikar and Mr. Suresh Prabhu were elected as full cabinet ministers. He proclaimed his 'Saraswat Pride' in that tweet.

Now what is this Saraswat all about? It is a caste-group of Brahmins.

Citing from Wikipedia,"The Saraswat Brahmins believe themselves to be named after the mythical Saraswati river, which was thought to arise in the Himalayas and flow through the present Punjab and Rajasthan region to the western sea near Dwaraka, in Gujarat. Saraswat Brahmins are mentioned in the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhavishya Purana. The Saraswati river of Rigvedic and Vedic texts has been historically identified with parts of watercourses near Lake Pushkar in Rajasthan, Sidhpur in Northern Gujarat and Somnath in Saurashtra, Gujarat".[1]


Save democracy from VVPAT


S. Kumar

The potential manipulation of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) was demonstrated by Mr Hari Prasad in 2010. He published research papers with US Scientist and demonstrated on a TV show that EVMs can be hacked. Mr. Hari Prasad was jailed for his incredible work.


Senior political leaders like Mr. Waman Meshram and others filed multiple petitions in the Supreme Court and campaigned against EVM for a long time. In 2013, the Supreme Court agreed that EVM can be hacked and ordered that the VVPAT method to be implemented by 2019.

However, even though the Supreme Court never said that EVMs can continue, the Election Commission continued the election process with EVM. In recent UP elections, charismatic leader Mayawati blamed the results on EVM manipulation. Many Maharashtra politicians could not get even a single vote (not even their own vote) in the local elections completed using EVM receently. Further, one instance of live demonstration of EVM machine with printer was captured on camera in Madhya Pradesh, showing votes were polled in favor of BJP even when votes were cast for another party. The polling officer even threatened the people present there with filing police cases if they they leaked the information.


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