Dalit is a Political Currency

 

Jadumani Mahanand

jadumanillionThe present presidential candidate nominations shows how "Dalit as a subject" has become an instrument of power for the upper caste political parties. About a decade ago, Gail Omvedt observed that Dalit assertion is a democratic upsurge in Indian society. This emphasis on electoral democracy only sidelined the Dalit movement. And evidently, in contrast, Dalits still remain to be a struggling mass. Hardly any justice is served through the state mechanism regarding caste atrocities. Liz Mathew has reported in the Indian Express about "The Dalit Push"– the politicization of Dalit by the upper caste parties in order to secure their own interests. This is apparent in the political vision of BJP. Dalit inclusion in the party is merely a number so as to appeal to the Dalit community to procure votes. This further creates a divide within the Dalit community. I argue here that "Dalit has become a political currency" - to be used, misused and reused in Indian Politics. The question that needs to be addressed here is why is there so much emphasis on Dalit?

Essentially, a Dalit is someone who counters the Hindu Philosophy, who fights against the caste system, so his/her participation in the hegemonic party becomes very crucial. The Dalit community is further divided into Mahars, Chamars, Kolis, Pasis, Balmikis etc., - although not equal in their gradation, they have a similar experience of caste discrimination based on their caste location sanctified by Hindu religion. In this context, it is important to note that BJP is unable to politicize the Mahars, Chamars or the Malas in vast numbers as compared to other Dalit sub-castes. It is observed that in Maharashtra, the Mahars support Congress; in Andhra Pradesh, the Malas support Congress; in Uttar Pradesh the Chamars (and a few other Dalit communities) support BSP. But evidently, BJP is increasingly successful in mobilizing Dalits by targeting the smaller castes of the Dalit community. This appropriation is a selective method not without intent: as persuading the assertive Dalit communities like Chamar, Mahar or Mala is difficult, the smaller sub-castes become an easy approach. This indicates that Dalit movement has not reached the smaller and less empowered sub-castes. This is the reason why Mangs of Maharashtra; Kolis, Pasis, Valmikis in Uttar Pradesh; Keunt (fisherman) in Odisha and other Dalit communities still remain under the Hindu fold.

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What is going right in the Dalit vs Dalit debate?

 

Shiveshwar Kundu 

shiveshwar kundu.1One of the promises of modern and secular politics is to do justice in society. For settling any vexed question of politics in a society, first, it is imperative to deal with the procedural part of the question then its substantive part will automatically come into the scene. Here procedural part means, framing some principle or procedures through which justice could be delivered through liberal institutions. Michael Sandel argues 'To ask whether a society is just is to ask how it distributes the things we prize—income and wealth, duties and rights, powers and opportunities, offices and honors'. Precisely, Justice is about giving everyone their due!

There is no dispute in the fact that Dalits, women, minorities, LGBTQ communities are always subdued, their voices are always crushed in a caste, patriarchal, and Hindu society like India. These sections of the society were never treated with universal moral values like justice, equality, and self-respect. It was only when dialogue was forced on the tradition in the form of colonialism (Gopal Guru), Indian society began to deal with this question in order to save its pride or let's say arrogance to show the world that we also believe in the universal language of justice, equality etc. One could argue along the lines that out of all the exploitation and discrimination that colonial state unleashed, nevertheless it happened to be a blessing in disguise in some aspects.

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Why Ram Nath Kovind, and not L K Advani?

 

 

Doleswar Bhoi

DoleswarRecently, the Indian National Congress and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) nominated Meira Kumar and Ram Nath Kovind as presidential candidate of India respectively. Both Meira Kumar and Ram Nath Kovind belong to the Dalit Community. The Dalit community refers to the lower castes in the socio-economic, political and cultural discourses of Indian Caste Hindu society. Gandhi glorified them as "Harijan", a term Ambedkar vehemently condemned. It was the British government that categorized them as the "Scheduled Castes". The same was done in the case of the Scheduled Tribes. The Dalits constitute around 20 percent of the country's population. They still face caste-based discrimination, hatred, and prejudice and bias on a daily basis, something that often cripples their confidence and creates a feeling in their mind that they are reduced to "second-grade" citizens.

So far 13 people have served as the president of India. The next will be the 14th president of India. Here some questions arise as to who were the former presidents of India? Which states did they belong to? What were their caste and religion? The list of Presidents of India has been explained below Table-1 with the name of former presidents and the states they belong to. The table illustrates that there is only one president who belonged to the Dalit community; one woman president and three presidents belonging to the Muslim community. In other words, there have been five/six people belonging to marginalized (SC, women and religious minorities) sections of society, who became presidents of India. Also till now, there has been no president from the Scheduled Tribes. In this context, the present article tries to understand the reason behind the nomination of a Dalit, Ram Nath Kovind, instead of choosing a senior leader and personality of BJP like L. K. Advani or others for the presidential post.

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The Rise of Modi: Historical Knowledge in Popular Memory

 

Mukesh Kumar

Past and Present: Inherent Contradictions in Psycho-Historical-Political Philosophy in India

mukesh kumarHistory repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce
~ Karl Marx (2008 :15)

In Indian political history, very few people have achieved such huge success in such a short span of time as prime minister Modi. It would be the height of intellectual laziness to simply brand him a mascot of fascist forces, Hindutva brigade, and nationalistic mindset. More than his pro-development stance, his image is tainted by many controversies. How an image marred with serious accusations finds easy acceptance in the public psyche is the main theme of this paper. Specifically, what role do historical characters and dominating narratives around them play in building a legitimate perception around such public figures? There are deeply entrenched characters in our history and society that help and legitimise the rise of a public figure into an invincible political mammoth psychologically.

The rise of Narendra Modi is the rise of a public spirit historically represented through characters like King Asoka, Maharana Pratap, and Mahatma Gandhi and their perceptions in our mindset. These characters reflect the huge oxymoronic hypocritical nature of mainstream Indian perspective. After killing one hundred thousand people at Kalinga war Asoka preached non-violence afterwards, Maharana Pratap never won a war against emperor Akbar yet remains victorious in our mind than ever before, and Gandhi was Mahatma to the extent that untouchability allegedly miraculously ended in upper caste hearts.

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The Junaid Conundrum!

 

Bobby Kunhu

kunhuThe celebration of the arrest of the prime accused in the Junaid Khan case as a kind of closure is very troubling and playing right into the hands of Hindutva politics. We would do well to remember that after the increase in the spate of violence in the name of cow protection, the Indian state was on the backfoot especially with the international shaming, as agencies were picking up on the obvious violence and the linkages between the government in power and the cow vigilante groups.

The Junaid case gives the government of India a breather – because for the first time – in the public eye there is a lynching by a group whose antecedents cannot be traced to the extended arms of the RSS family. So, of course the state swung into immediate action and the main accused is already behind bars. The government that has been silent so long when the Parivar elements went on a rampage has been issuing statements against citizens taking law into their hands in the name of cow vigilantism. Remember there was a lynching immediately after the prime minister made a statement against cow vigilantism on June 29th – about which the noise and the speed of justice has been slow in comparison. The victim's families are continuously at loggerheads with the establishment.

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Cow, ‘backwardness’ and ‘Bahujan’ Women

 

Asha Singh 

asha singh 1My Ahir-dominant village in Bhojpur district of Bihar has a school only up to standard seven. After the seventh grade, if somebody (or their family) decides to study further, they get enrolled in schools in nearby villages or Arrah Town. Boys do go to these schools. However, girls visit these schools only twice every year – Once to get their names enrolled and the second time to give their yearly exams. They are accompanied to the school by the male members of the family. One needs to recognise that these ‘two visits’ are also marked by several hurdles. Every household in my village has small holdings of land and varying numbers of cattle. If an adolescent girl has to leave for her school, she has to begin her day early, in dark morning hours, cleaning the cow-shed. Cleaning includes removing cow-dung followed by feeding the cattle (dry or wet fodder), washing the cow-shed, and sprinkling/spreading ash on its surface to dry the cow-shed. Washing utensils, plastering the aangan (veranda) with cow dung and mud, setting the fire, cooking food, serving breakfast to the men of the family are also listed in her chores. Young girls and women do not reside in their homes as ‘students’. They are cattle-rearers (pashupalaks) and are historically burdened by gendered domestic labour. Their mothers and other elderly women have to look after the fields. Their work includes cutting grass and collecting fodder for the cattle, sowing, transplanting, weeding, harvesting, winnowing so on and so forth. When young women are capable enough of taking care of the household and ensuing domestic chores, elderly women take up greater responsibilities outside.

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The Invisible Matter between the Particular and the Universal: Dalit Identity and Indian Parliamentary Marxism

 

Anilkumar PV

Every struggle and existence based on particular identification runs the risk of having to answer the same question, which delimits one's existential choice to this or that. Dalit discourse is no exception to this metaphysical trap. One way to answer the question is to resort to the philosophical notion of freedom developed by the most significant philosopher of the critical theory, Theodore W. Adorno. In the 85th aphorism of his Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life, he writes: "Freedom would be not to choose between black and white but to abjure such prescribed choices."2 But here if we ask the question concerning the nature of the space that is created after abjuring all the prescribed choices, we encounter all the difficulties that the negative dialecticians posit before us as they have no name for such a place. By refusing to give 'substance to its utopian vision'3, which is a fuzzy reproduction in the philosophy of the traditional Jewish prohibition on naming and describing God and paradise, the Frankfurt School has always demanded a negative relationship with the mediated forms of our existence. In our exercise of freedom, we must step out of all proscriptive choices like black, white, homosexual, Muslim, Christian, Dalit, woman, aboriginal, etc., but the formidable intellectual of the Frankfurt School will not tell us what our form will be after such stepping out! Isn't stepping out of all proscriptive choices one more proscriptive choice?

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Casteism in Kashmir: My Observations and Experiences

 

Mudasir Ali Lone

Mudassir Ali Lone RTI DPWe usually shrug our shoulders when it comes to casteism in Kashmir. If you're in a mood for horrible stories, go to the homes of Greest (peasants) and hear about the horror stories of how Malluh/Peer (upper-castes) used to treat them. If you think that's not horrible enough then go to Naangaar (landless) and ask them how they were and still are treated by other communities. If you're looking for more disgust then go to the Waatal community (Chamaar, also called Sheikh in Kashmir) and ask them about how they have always been ostracized from society. They have been ostracized to such an extent that the word Waatul/Sheikh has become a taunt and is used by people as as insult to refer to people from other communities. There are also the Haaenz (fisher community) who have to face the ire of casteism. I don't know anyone from the community personally, but since childhood I have heard the word Haaenz being used as a taunt/insult, and have seen almost everyone in my village and others disparaging/disrespecting them. After you've done all that, come back to me and shrug off your shoulders again at the mention of casteism in Kashmir. I dare you!

Malluh/Peer stand at the top of caste-pyramid, then there are Greest, then come the Naangaar, then at bottom are the communities like Sheikh, Haaenz. Malluh have exploited everyone and maintained their position at the top through treachery, deception and lies. There is a common saying about them: "Malluh deeshith goss parun istigfaar", which means, "if you see a Malluh, seek forgiveness from God".

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ಮೋದಿಯ ನಾಡಲ್ಲಿ ಸಫಾಯಿ ಕರ್ಮಕಾಂಡಗಳ ಜಾಡು ಹಿಡಿದು....

 

ಮಂಜುನಾಥ ನರಗುಂದ (Manjunath Naragund)

manjunath nargundಭಿನಾ ಸುಮಾರು 55 ವರ್ಷದ ದಲಿತ ಸಮುದಾಯದ ಡೋಮ ಜಾತಿಗೆ ಸೇರಿದ ವಿಧವೆ, ಕಳೆದ 30 ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಬನಾರಸ್ ಹಿಂದೂ ವಿಶ್ವವಿದ್ಯಾಲಯದ ಹತ್ತಿರವಿರುವ ಸುಂದರಪುರ್ ಪ್ರದೇಶದಲ್ಲಿ ಸಫಾಯಿ ಕರ್ಮಚಾರಿಯಾಗಿ ಕಾರ್ಯ ನಿರ್ವಹಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾಳೆ.ಭಿನಾಳಂತೆ ಈ ಪ್ರದೇಶದಲ್ಲಿ ಇದೆ ಜಾತಿಗೆ ಸೇರಿದ ಸುಮಾರು 200ಕ್ಕೂ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ದಲಿತ ಸಮುದಾಯದ ಜನರು ನೆಲೆಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ.ಭಿನಾ ಪ್ರತಿದಿನ ಒಂದೊಂದು ಪ್ರದೇಶವೆಂಬಂತೆ ಬೆಳಗಿನ 6ಗಂಟೆಯಿಂದ ಮದ್ಯಾಹ್ನ 2 ಅಥವಾ 4ಗಂಟೆಯವರೆಗೆ ವಾರಣಾಸಿಯನ್ನು ಚೊಕ್ಕವಾಗಿಡುವಲ್ಲಿ ದಿನವಿಡಿ ಶ್ರಮವಹಿಸಿ ದುಡಿಯುತ್ತಾಳೆ.ಇವಳ ಈ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ಪ್ರತಿ ತಿಂಗಳಿಗೆ ಸಿಗುವ ಸಂಬಳ 4000 ರೂಪಾಯಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಕಡಿಮೆ,ಅದು ಕೂಡಾ ಪ್ರತಿ ತಿಂಗಳು ಬರದೆ ಇರುವಂತಹ ಸಂಗತಿ.ಈಗಾಗಲೇ ಹಲವಾರು ಉಸಿರಾಟದ ಸಂಬಂಧಿಸಿದ ಕಾಯಿಲೆಯಂತಹ ಸಮಸ್ಯೆಗಳಿಂದ ಬಳಲುತ್ತಿರುವ ಭಿನಾ, ಸಫಾಯಿ ಕರ್ಮಚಾರಿಯಾಗಿ ತೇಕೆದಾರರ ಅಡಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲಸ ನಿರ್ವಹಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾಳೆ .ಸರ್ಕಾರದ ವಿಮಾ ಯೋಜನೆ ಅಥವಾ ವೈದ್ಯಕೀಯಂತಹ ಯಾವುದೇ ಸೌಲಭ್ಯಗಳಂತೂ ಈಕೆಯ ಬಳಿಗೆ ಸುಳಿದಿಲ್ಲ.ಇನ್ನು ಆಶ್ರಯವಂತು ಸುಂದರಪುರ್ ನ ಅರೆಕಾಲಿಕ ಜೋಪಡಿಯಲ್ಲಿಯಲ್ಲಿಯೇ ಸದ್ಯದ ವಾಸಸ್ಥಾನ.ಇಂತಹ ನಿಷ್ಕೃಷ್ಟ ಜೀವನ ಸ್ಥಿತಿಯ ಮದ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ಕೂಡ ಈ ಕ್ಷೇತ್ರದ ಸಂಸದರು ಮತ್ತು ಪ್ರಧಾನಮಂತ್ರಿಗಳೂ ಆದ ಶ್ರೀ ನರೇಂದ್ರ ಮೋದಿ ಮೋದಿಯವರ ಕನಸಿನ ಕೂಸಾದ ಸ್ವಚ್ಚ ಭಾರತ ಅಭಿಯಾನವನ್ನು ಯಶಸ್ವಿಗೊಳಿಸಲು ಶ್ರಮಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವ ಭಿನಾ ನೈಜರ್ಥ ದಲ್ಲಿ ಈ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮದ ರಾಯಭಾರಿ.ಇಂತಹ ಎಲ್ಲ ಸಫಾಯಿ ಕರ್ಮಚಾರಿಗಳ ಬದುಕಿನ ಪ್ರಾತಿನಿಧಿಕವಾಗಿರುವ ಈಕೆಯ ಜೀವನ ಒಂದರ್ಥದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಯೋಮಯ ಎನ್ನುವಂತಿದೆ.ಕಾರಣವಿಷ್ಟೇ ಪ್ರತಿ ಸಾರಿ ಪ್ರಧಾನಮಂತ್ರಿಗಳು ಈ ಕ್ಷೇತ್ರದ ಸಂಸದರೂ ಆಗಿರುವುದರಿಂದ ಅವರಿಗೆ ಈ ಪ್ರದೇಶದಲ್ಲಿ ಹಾದು ಹೋಗಲು ಅನುಕೂಲವಾಗುವ ನಿಟ್ಟಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಇಲ್ಲಿನ ಮಹಾನಗರ ಪಾಲಿಕೆ ಭಿನಾ ಳಂತಹ ಇಲ್ಲಿನ ಎಲ್ಲ ಕುಟುಂಬಗಳನ್ನು ಪ್ರತಿ ವಿವಿಐಪಿ ಭೇಟಿಯ ಸಂದರ್ಭದಲ್ಲಿ ಒಕ್ಕೆಲೆಬ್ಬಿಸಲಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ. ಇದು ಒಂದರ್ಥದಲ್ಲಿ ಸ್ವಚ್ಛ ಭಾರತದ ಕನಸನ್ನು ಸಾಕಾರಗೊಳಿಸಲು ಶ್ರಮಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವ ಭಿನಾಳ ಕಥೆಯಾದರೆ.

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“#Notinmyname”: A ‘guilt’ in the conscience

 

 Dharmaraj Kumar

dharma raj kumar‘Not in my name’, says A.

‘In whose name then?’, asks B.

‘You mean, not in your name this time, right?’ asks C.

‘Of course, it lies not in your name. It is only in ‘their’ name. You just don’t worry.’, D replies curtly.

‘I just say “not in my name”, rest I don’t know’, repeats A and leaves. 

The slogan of ‘Not in my name’ evokes unpredictable responses. Whether or not the response stands out to be politically charged, it certainly does not produce the notion of ambivalence against the hatred perpetrated following the name.

Actually,’ #Notinmyname’ sounds empty. Even if the people gathered at Jantar Mantar to display their resentment against the ‘Lynching of muslims’, ‘Lynching of the nation’ or ‘Lynchistan’ presumably overflowing in numbers, the core point of the slogan is pointless, like “Covfefe, Covfefe”.

It is not that this title is not subject to criticism or it has not been criticized. But it requires to be looked into, as it is important to critique this hashtag even if it is over. 

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A Peep into the Soft Porn Film Industry of Keralam

 

Anilkumar PV

The setting of the last millennium saw the rise of a new star in the horizon of Malayalam film industry: Shakeela. It was in the year 2000 that her first Malayalam movie Kinnara Thumbikal was released. This low-budget movie, with a credits lacking in credible names, came out very strongly and went onto become a phenomenal success. The moment is a watershed in the history of Malayalam movies in that it turned out to be a new marker, blurring the very oppositional phrases that essential Malayali has hitherto taken for granted, and taken pride in his or her positive involvement in the positive phrases.

shakeela

In physical appearance this Chennai born actress is no competition to the slim and wheatish actresses of Bollywood who occasionally figure in Malayalam film (with their contribution confined to C-grade acting and creation of yet another flop) or the innocent beauties of the Valluvanadan variety of Keralam. Her acting talents have never come to the arena of serious discussions. But with her wide hips and heavy breast, she has managed to pull the crowds back to the movie theatres from where earlier they had gone away bleeding with the kicks and punches received from the superstars. In 2001, she starred or co-starred in almost 45 percent of the total Malayalam films that produced a maximum of just over 80 films. Within a year, with four films in the inaugural year, she has become the first female super star of Malayalam films, although the moralist media has not conferred the title upon her formally.

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I Take Responsibility

 

Swati Kamble

swati kambleSince the BJP government came to power in India in 2014, masses with extreme Hindu ideology and strong anti-Muslim and anti-Dalit sentiments are using brutal force to terrorize the Muslim and Dalit minorities. These masses of people have been trained to become Hindu fundamentalists by Extreme right Brahminical Hindu nationalist forces such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. As soon as the BJP government came to power, in a matter of months, VHP and RSS actively took upon, forcible and violent conversion of Muslims and Christians into Hinduism. They called it Ghar Wapsi (literally, 'Homecoming'). This 'homecoming' was meant to bring the Muslims and Christians 'back' into Hindu fold, to their 'original spiritual home'. Several Christian churches were vandalized and 46 Muslims were forcibly converted. The ongoing unreported stigmatization and violence against Muslims and Dalits in remote villages is staggering.

The 'beef ban' in BJP led states gave legitimacy to VHP and RSS (extreme right Hindu Brahminical nationalist) groups to execute 'cow vigilantism', an action widely used to defend the violent attacks on Muslims and Dalits who are first accused of possession of beef and then lynched to death. Several disturbing incidents of the violent lynching of Muslims took place in the last two years. Last year, the Una incidence stirred the nation when four young Dalit men were brutally flogged over the suspicion of carrying cow meat. Muslims are beaten up and killed over the rumors of eating cow meat. Less than a week ago, 16-year-old Junaid was brutally lynched and stabbed to death by a mob. These are organized crimes against the minorities, both Dalits and Muslims under the fundamentalist regime. Mainstream media names these hate crime as 'mob rule'. The use of term 'mob rule' is systematically used to deviate and normalize the state-supported violence against the minorities. It is the result of years of indoctrination and preparation for the systematic massacre of the minorities, Dalits, and Tribals. BJP rule protects its goons who are trained and indoctrinated with the fundamentalists, supremacist ideology that envisions a 'Hindu Nation'. They are recruited to wipe out the minorities.

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