Dalit woman cremated six days after murder – Business standard
IAS officers to attend Dharna against govt, suspension possible – The free press jounral
Is conversion to Islam a rebellion, a blackmail, a survival strategy – or all three? – Scroll.in
Telangana becomes first State to make gender education compulsory – The hindu
Hoodlums Rising; Life at Risk Near Whitefield – The new Indian express
UoH Stands with Expelled Dalit Scholars – The new Indian express
‘Anti-quota’ observations: Dalits honour 3 MPs, ex-minister for their stand against HC judge – The Indian express
In Hyderabad University, Dalit students pay heavy price for protesting against Hindutva brigade – Two Circles
Brahmanical Arrogance – Dr Ambedkar Books
Dalit woman cremated six days after murder
The parents of a 20-year-old Dalit nurse, who was found murdered, today cremated her body six days after the incident only when police managed to arrest the accused.
The body of the nurse was found on Tuesday lying in a field in Jewar area. She was suspected to have been raped and murdered. However, in post-mortem report rape was not confirmed.
Her family members accused Mahindra Singh, a driver, of murdering her and had said that they would not cremate the body till the accused was arrested.
“The accused was arrested from Haryana today. The woman’s body was cremated by her family members today evening,” Jewar police station SHO Surinder Yadav said.
Various Dalit organisations held protest today and demanded Rs 2 crore compensation and job to one family member.
The district administration had earlier recommended Rs 10 lakh compensation.
“On humanitarian ground, job to one of the family members will be arranged at private factory here,” said additional district magistrate Chandra Shekar.
The free press jounral
IAS officers to attend Dharna against govt, suspension possible
BHOPAL : Ramesh Thete, secretary, Madhya Pradesh Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MPCPCR) and suspended IAS officer Shashi Karnavat will attend a Dharna to be staged by Dalit Adiwasi Forum against the government.
The Dharna would be staged to protest against atrocities on Dalit community. Discrimination with these two IAS officers has also been made an issue in the Dharna.
In the recent past, Lokayukta was given approval for prosecution of Thete. Karnavat is under suspension in a case of corruption.
Thete earlier had threatened government of demonstration and self-immolation. Sources said Thete may be suspended as taking part in a Dharna against the government can be taken as violation of code of conduct of civil services.
Meanwhile, Thete maintains that he would simply address the Dharna. He said he would speak on atrocities on Dalit community and his own case is a testimony to it.
Is conversion to Islam a rebellion, a blackmail, a survival strategy – or all three?
Conversion to Islam in contemporary India encompasses several themes. It is undoubtedly a form of protest and rebellion the lower castes adopt against the oppression of the higher castes. It is, simultaneously, a plea to the custodians of Hinduism to reform the religion and render it egalitarian. It is a battle the convert seeks to wage on behalf of others, conveying through his or her proselytization that those sharing his or her caste position might emulate him or her in rejecting the hierarchical Hinduism.
But conversion to Islam is also deployed as a threat, a bargaining chip. It is used as a tactic to demand enforcement of constitutionally mandated rights, or extract concessions from the powerful. Demands are articulated and deadlines set for their acceptance, failing which those voicing them declare they will convert.
Those who threaten to convert implicitly assume that the custodians of Hinduism, essentially the hegemonic higher castes, have a deep distrust, even dislike, for Islam. They think their demands will be met because the higher castes will not want Islam to grow demographically or acquire popular validity in this era of Islamophobia.
Their assumption is not wrong. Consider the media frenzy every time an incident of conversion occurs, or the vociferous opposition of Hindutva leaders to the idea of proselytization. From this perspective, it might be said that there is a war of perception in which the custodians of Hinduism and Islam, often self-appointed, are engaged.
It is this which turns conversion into a weapon. Through threats of conversion, whether to protest or blackmail, the lower castes appear to be telling those higher in the hierarchy: “Listen to us or we will defect to the enemy camp.”
Crossing over to a rival
Conversion consequently reinforces the Hindutva imagining of Islam as “the other”. This is true of Christianity as well. But conversion to it is often spread over time through evangelism. Atrocities provoke Dalits to usually embrace Islam rather than Christianity, largely because the long history of communal conflict involving Hindus and Muslims injects their proselytization with a deep political meaning.
It’s also true that Dalits switch from Hinduism to Buddhism, at times in a spectacular display of mass rejection of Hinduism. Yet conversion to Buddhism doesn’t invite hostile reactions because Hindutva ideologues consider that religion indigenous, even as reformed or pure or, to quote sociologist Gail Omvedt, Protestant Hinduism.
Since conversion to Buddhism doesn’t rattle the custodians of Hinduism, its use for political purposes doesn’t have the same political significance as Islam has. This is perhaps why Umrao Salodia, a 1978 Rajasthan cadre IAS officer, recently chose to become Muslim than Buddhist. Overlooked for the post of chief secretary, Salodia claimed it was because he belonged to the Dalit community.
So Salodia called the media, declared he was opting for voluntary retirement, and disclosed he had converted to Islam. His explanation for the decision framed it as a protest – he said he had become Muslim because of the equality Islam offers to its followers, in contrast to Hinduism which discriminates on the basis of caste. He said he was to now call himself Umrao Khan.
His statement surprised Jaipur because it was unexpected – he hadn’t, as is usually the norm, issued a prior threat to convert in case he was denied the post of chief secretary. The very absence of threat has given his protest a sharp edge. For one, he wasn’t willing to use conversion instrumentally, that is, to bargain with the Rajasthan government of the Bharatiya Janata Party, whose project is to become the unchallenged custodian of Hinduism. For another, it sought to reject the moral authority of the government, and portrayed, at least to the Dalits, its caste prejudices.
Nevertheless, Salodia’s rhetoric pitted Islam against Hinduism. His conversion is akin to a crossing-over to that religion which Hindutva perceives as a rival. It is a rebuff to the proponents of ghar wapsi who argue that the forefathers of Muslims were Hindus who were forced to embrace Islam and should now be brought back into Hinduism. Against this political backdrop, Salodia’s decision to leave his original ghar indicts both Hindutva and Hinduism.
Threat of conversion
But conversion to Islam is also used to blackmail politicians, not just of the Hindutva kind. For instance, last April, when 55 houses in Topkhana basti in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, were marked for demolition, some 800 Valmikis there threatened to convert to Islam. They even contacted Islamic clerics who, however, refused to convert them, arguing that their proselytization would be un-Islamic as the Valmikis were engaged in, yes, blackmailing civic authorities. Unmindful of the rebuff, they continued their protests wearing skull caps, popularly regarded as a marker of Muslim identity.
Decoding their protest is more complicated than analysing Salodia’s. Did the Valmikis believe their houses were marked for demolition because of them being Dalit and, therefore, powerless? It is also possible they were exploiting the popular perception of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav being partial to Muslims to their advantage. Their threat to convert could be construed as telling Yadav that they would become Muslim and his voters if their houses were not demolished.
It is also possible that the Valmikis were stirring a controversy in the hope their cause would be adopted by those politicians who are focused on stopping desertions from Hinduism. This is exactly what eventually happened in Rampur, testifying that conversion is used as a blackmail tactic for survival or to protect their interests.
The blackmail tactic is also used to have rights guaranteed in the Constitution to be enforced. This was palpable in the response of 10 Valmiki families of Meerut who were denied entry into the Valmiki Ashram near Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, on January 8, 2015. They told the media that they would embrace Islam unless the Ashram allowed them entry by January 26, the Republic Day.
It invoked a prompt response from local Vishva Hindu Parishad leader Sudarshan Chakra, who assured them of his support and promised to register a case against the priests should they not relent by their deadline. In hindsight, it is obvious the Valmikis succeeded in exploiting the Hindu Right’s anxieties about Islam’s appeal to the oppressed castes.
The threat of conversion was unambiguously a blackmailing tactic when the Brahmins of Singhawali Ahir village, near Baghpat, issued it in September last. It had so happened that a Brahmin girl was said to have eloped with a Dalit. The Brahmins, however, claimed the Dalits had abducted her.
They threatened to convert to Islam in case the girl wasn’t located. Perched as they are on the top of the Hindu hierarchy, the Brahmins did not resort to the rhetoric of caste inequality, merely interested as they were in using the threat of conversion to prod the apathetic administration into action. Perhaps they were emulating the successful use of conversion as a political weapon by the Dalits.
Escape from discrimination
Yet it is also true that Dalit communities convert to Islam when the discrimination they are routinely subjected to eventually leads to the perpetration of ineffable atrocities on them. Take the Dalits of Baghana village, in Hisar district of Haryana. In March 2012, they organised a dharna at the district headquarters to protest against the denial of access to the village chowk, or square, and, subsequently, the illegal occupation of their land.
For nearly two years, nobody cared. Then, in March 2014, a group of boys from the dominant caste of Jats abducted four minor Dalit girls, gang-raped them, and dumped them about 170 kilometres from Hisar. The Dalits shifted their protest from Hisar to Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, where too they remained unnoticed by the media and the political class that were obsessively engaged in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
In desperation, they converted to Islam in August last, in a ceremony which a cleric conducted right there at Jantar Mantar. Their rebellion against, and rejection of, Hinduism grabbed headlines, but also provoked the police to allegedly charge them with batons in the middle of the night. The VHP leaders offered to have their grievances addressed subject to their return to Hinduism.
They refused at that time, in the manner of the Dalits of Meenakshipuram village, in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. In 1981, these Dalits converted to Islam and rocked the nation. Leaders from the Hindu right, including Arya Samajists, visited the village and claimed the Dalits had been enticed through promises of economic benefits to convert to Islam. A government committee, however, found this allegation baseless and said they had converted in reaction to the caste discrimination the Dalits had come to bitterly resent.
It is interesting to speculate why the Dalits of Baghana or Meenakshipuram, or IAS officer Salodia, did not convert to Buddhism, to which Ambedkar converted in 1956 and set an example for other Dalits to emulate. Indeed, conversion to Buddhism did not cease with the death of Ambedkar. Even as recently as 2013, nearly 5,000 Dalits participated in the Buddhist proselytization ceremony in Junagadh, Gujarat. Two years later, 90 Dalits followed suit in Ahmedabad. There was also a large-scale influx into Buddhism in Hyderabad and Gulbarga in 2006.
In the Dalit consciousness, conversion to Buddhism is considered a return to their original religion and identity. This is because they believe they were originally Buddhists whose ascendancy the Brahmins challenged and undermined successfully. As Gail Omvedt notes in her book, Buddhism in India: Challenging Brahmanism and Caste, “The conflict between Buddhism and Brahmanism was seen as of the utmost interest to Dalits, because it was in the process of defeating Buddhism that the caste system was solidified, and certain specific groups were particularly degraded and classed as ‘untouchables’. Thus Ambedkar argued that Dalits were originally Buddhists who had been rendered untouchables…”
What’s the intent?
From this perspective, the return of Dalits to their original religion of Buddhism is seen as natural and inevitable, a rediscovery or liberation of their older self from the caste trappings of Hinduism. This process of return is predicated on a realisation and understanding of Buddhism as a rational religion. No doubt, conversion to Buddhism still entails rejecting Hinduism, but it doesn’t in the Dalit consciousness signify rebellion in all its fury and rawness, not the least because the Hindutva ideologues are not even remotely hostile to it.
It is also true that Buddhism in India largely comprises Dalits, except the upper castes in Bengal who converted to it in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In other words, for an individual to say he or she is a Buddhist is akin to saying he or she was Dalit earlier. In this sense, they may consider themselves separate from Hindus and equal to them, but caste Hindus do not consider them so.
By contrast, in converting to Islam the Dalits mingle in an existing numerous Muslim community, shed their Dalit-ness to an extent, and get a relatively better access to the public space. Media stories on Meenakshipuram do indeed show that the children of those who converted to Islam in 1981 have a better social status than those Dalits who remained in the fold of Hinduism.
It is not always easy to distinguish themes of protest and rebellion in incidents of conversion from its appropriation as a tool for bargaining, or even blackmailing, in the everyday struggle of Dalits for dignity, justice and survival. But conversion for waging caste battles fans the anxieties of Hindutva about Islam, and fuels their anger against it. It is precisely why so many Dalit activists and thinkers feel Muslims and Dalits are natural allies.
Ajaz Ashraf is a journalist in Delhi. His novel, The Hour Before Dawn, has as its backdrop the demolition of the Babri Masjid. It is available in bookstores.
Telangana becomes first State to make gender education compulsory
Telangana has become the first State to introduce compulsory gender education at the graduate level; without repeating gender stereotypes in its bilingual textbook titled, ‘Towards a World of Equals.’
The book introduced on a pilot basis in engineering colleges affiliated to the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU-Hyderabad) discusses gender in its composite form without limiting itself to crime against women. From information on unacknowledged women writers of Telangana to problems of sex selection and women’s work in politics and economics, the book attempts to cover it all.
It also touches upon complex subjects like female-centric history and male-female relationships.
Structured in simple language and form to suit under-graduates, the book discusses different strands of women’s movements across the world, introducing students to political movements of Afro-American, Caribbean, African, Dalit and minority women.
And coupled with the book is a collection of visual teaching tools which include documentary films.
The book is being taught over 14 weeks in a semester at the rate of two classes per week.
Credits earned in the end semester examination add up to students’ GPAs.
A nine-member, all-women, panel which drafted the syllabus and developed its content has already held four training workshops for groups of 15 to 40 teachers and is expected to take up yet another session this week.
What makes the textbook interesting is the gamut of reactions and classroom discussions which it attempts to generate. For instance, in its first chapter on Socialisation, the book hints at initiating a discussion in the classroom on “Are boys taught household work while growing up? Discuss your experiences at home.”
Editors of the textbook published by the Telugu Academy are optimistic about the results.
“We have received a lot of good feedback from teachers,” said A. Suneetha, one of the editors.
The book discusses construction of gender stereotypes through pictures on male and female hairstyles, clothing and discussions on popular songs like ‘Kolaveri’, advertisements and films.
The new Indian express
Hoodlums Rising; Life at Risk Near Whitefield
BENGALURU: Residents of neighbourhoods near Hoodi Gate dread to take the Hoodi-Kadugodi Road at night as instances of mobile phones and cash being snatched are being reported frequently here.
Anti-social elements, who are often seen squatting near the railway tracks, use red chilli powder and blades to rob people along a 500-metre stretch of this road.
M Chandrappa, president of Dalit Sangharsha Samiti, said many women regularly complain to him about the dangerous encounters they’ve had on the road.
“The problem is acute between Pattandur Agrahara gate and the spot behind Prestige Shanti Niketan apartments,” he says. “Between the 5th and 12th of every month, when people return home with their salaries, such incidents happen more frequently.”
“Nearly 3,000 women are employed as housemaids in the apartment complex, plus countless people work in ITPL area,” says S K Venkatesh, a social worker. “People crossing this poorly-lit road after 7 pm don’t know if they would reach home safely,” he added.
Lokesh, a resident, recalls the violence inflicted by a three-member gang on his friend Shiva a fortnight ago. “His mobile phone and whatever money he had was stolen. When he resisted, they slashed at his stomach with a knife and fled. I had to take him to a nearby hospital on my two-wheeler. He has recovered now.”
The problem is really serious only after 9 pm, says Govindarajan, another resident. The robbers operate in gangs of three or four and target single men or women walking on the road, says Shivaiah.
Chandrappa added that a lot of people using the road at that time are those who works extra hours to make ends meet.
Despite regular complaints lodged at Kadugodi police station, the crimes continue. Even night rounds by Hoysalas have not been of much help, says residents.
Boralingaiah, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South-East), promised to have this stretch monitored closely in the future.
The new Indian express
UoH Stands with Expelled Dalit Scholars
HYDERABAD: Over 60 students slept in the open on University of Hyderabad (UoH) premises on Saturday, in support of five Dalit research scholars who were expelled and barred from staying in varsity hostel.
The students set up a temporary camp alongside the expelled scholars.
The research scholars have filed a writ petition in the High Court challenging the university’s action.
The Indian express
‘Anti-quota’ observations: Dalits honour 3 MPs, ex-minister for their stand against HC judge
Three MPs from Gujarat and a former Union minister, who took initiative to move an impeachment motion in Rajya Sabha against a Gujarat High Court judge for alleged anti-quota observations, were felicitated by a Dalit group here on Sunday.
BJP MPs Shambhuprasad Tundiya, Kirit Solanki, Congress MP Pravin Rashtrapal and former Union minister Yogendra Makwana were honoured by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Anamat Samarthan Samiti during a function held in Gita Mandir area.
A pamphlet for the function stated that though the observations made by Justice J B Pardiwala have been expunged, it caused damage to the society which could not be compensated.
Such observations, it added, could make the future of those getting reservation benefits bleak and strengthen the campaign to remove reservation.
Justice Pardiwala, in one of his judgments delivered in December last year, had made alleged anti-reservation observations, while deciding a petition moved by Patidar quota stir leader Hardik Patel.
Following the judgment, 58 MPs from Rajya Sabha had moved a petition before the House chairman, seeking to initiate impeachment motion against Justice Pardiwala.
The controversial observations were later expunged by the High Court bench presided over by Justice Pardiwala, while acting on a Speaking to Minutes application moved by the Gujarat Government. The court expunged the observations and termed those as not “necessary” or “relevant” to decide Hardik’s petition.
In Hyderabad University, Dalit students pay heavy price for protesting against Hindutva brigade
Submitted by TwoCircles.net on 8 January 2016 – 8:47pm
By Hana Ashraf and Anees M for Twocircles.net
There is nothing more important in ‘student politics’ than the ongoing tension in FTII Pune, if one were to read national media.
Until you type ‘Dalit students’ on Google News. News of torture, ostracisation and harassment abound; but these incidents are another story in the newspapers.
One wonders what it will take for Dalit issues, and the condition of Dalit students in Indian universities, to get the attention it deserves. As we write this, five Dalit students have been socially boycotted and expelled from hostels and other public spaces, by the authorities of the University of Hyderabad after a series of dramatic incidents revolving around a brawl between two students groups in the campus. But unlike FTII, this has failed to get any media attention.
And all this allegedly started with the proposed screening of a documentary, which the BJP and thereby, its student wing, does not want anyone to see. “Muzaffarnagar Baqi Hai” is a documentary that probes into the unexplored questions about the Muzaffarnagar riots.
On August 2, 2015, Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), along with Ambedkar Reading Group, University of Delhi, Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, IIT, Madras, ASA (TISS), Mumbai and concerned students from IIT Bombay issued a joint statement condemning ABVP attack on screening of ‘Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hain’. Subsequently, ASA- UoH organised a protest demonstration the next day.
Following this ABVP-HCU Unit President and State committee member, termed the SC, ST. OBC, Minority and like-minded members of ASA as ‘GOONS’. When this act was invoked as atrocious, he tendered written apology in presence of the security officer of the UoH who gave a statement to the proctorial board that the ABVP student was not subjected to any form of violence whatsoever.
Later, he fabricated this issue as a case of man handling by ASA leaders before linking the ongoing strife with ASA’s stand against capital punishment following the hanging of Yakub Memon. Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and the ABVP in the campus together manipulated the facts and branded Dalits as casteist, extremist and anti-nationals.
On the falsified complaint of the ABVP leader, the university Proctorial Committee unanimously suspended Dontha Prashanth, Rohith Vemula, Seshu Chemudugunta, Vijay Kumar P Sundar and Sunkanna Velpula. After student organisations protested against this atrocity, the administration revoked the suspension and promised to constitute a new committee and conduct a fresh inquiry about the incidents.
However, due to the pressure of the external right-wing Hindutva forces, the promise was violated by the university authority because the current decision to expel these students from the hostels and other public spaces remains based on the previously-biased inquiry report.
Subsequently, all student organisations in the university, except of course, ABVP, united to form a Joined Action Committee for Social Justice. In a statement issued by ASA-HCU on Facebook, which can be read here the ASA have shown how systematically, the administration continued to protect the ABVP members.
The issue that is more disturbing is the fact that these students have not been able to get an impartial inquiry from within the university. Now they have to depend on the judiciary and outside organisations to ensure that their voices are heard. The proctorial committee that is supposed to look into the issue without any prejudices is now acting as the puppets of right-wing Brahmanical forces.
Take the issue of manhandling ABVP members. BJP MLC, Mr. Ramachandra Rao met the Vice-Chancellor along with some of his party cadre and insisted that the Vice-Chancellor should take action against the Dalit students, terming them as anti-national. Later, an Inquiry Committee was constituted by Professor R.P Sharma, former Vice-Chancellor, under the chairmanship of Professor Alok Pandey. To quote the findings: “The Board could not get any hard evidence of beating of Mr.Susheel Kumar either from Mr Krishna Chaitnya or from the reports submitted by Dr. Anupama. Dr. Anupama’s reports also could not link or suggest that the surgery of the Sushil Kumar is the direct result of the beating.”
However, the final decision of the Proctorial board contradicted diametrically with its own finding. “Based on the Medical officer report (explained by Dr. Anupama), main complainant Susheel Kumar’s deposition and pictures by him and the depositions of two eyewitnesses (names are kept confidential) of the incident, it was evidently cleared that Mr.Susheel Kumar was abused, manhandled, beaten, forced to write apology letter by a group of more than 30 students, lead by Prashant. The main and most active students involved and named by the complainant and mostly confirmed by eyewitnesses, in abusing and hitting are Prashant, Rohit, Seshu, Vijay and Sunkanna”, says the Proctorial Board. How did they arrive on this decision? No one knows.
It is clear that these are adverse conditions in which marginalised students are unable to get a fair inquiry. If this committee fails to set up a proper inquiry with the knowledge of the concerned students and obstruct the delivery of justice, then what hope will the student community have in their proper execution of justice?
For expelled students, solidarity and support
The Joint Action Committee for Social Justice (UoH) on January 6 burnt an effigy of the Union Cabinet Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya protesting his alleged involvement in the ongoing tension in University of Hyderabad. In the public meeting conducted on the same day, several prominent figures came in support of the students and condemned the casteist decision of the university to expel five Dalit research scholars from the hostel and other public spaces.
Telangana SC/ST Employees Welfare Association President Rambabu and All India Mala Mahanadu President Karem Shivaji spoke in the meeting and said that they will intensify protests in the city against Bandaru Dattatreya for misleading MHRD and for being the direct reason for social boycott of Dalit Research Scholars. Dr.Tathagat Sengupta of ‘Democratic Teachers Network’ and Prof.K.Laxminarayana condemned the decision of University and severely criticised Bandaru Dattatreya and BJP’s attempt to thwart on Campus Democracy. Battula Karthik and Sathish Nainala, student representatives from EFLU, and representatives of different student organisation of UoH also spoke in the programme and supported the expelled.
The authors are currently pursuing Masters in Communication from the University of Hyderabad
Dr Ambedkar Books
Written by – Anand Teltumbde
On 27 November DailyO.in, a web edition of the India Today, published an article by one S.N. Balgangadhara, who is a professor in Ghent University in Belgium titled as “Which intolerance is growing in India?.” It was a response to the indignation spreading against him for his abusive references to Dr Ambedkar while speaking in an international conference at the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad. Instead of being apologetic, he justified his contempt for Ambedkar and repeated his ridicule saying that “he outshines the genius of Alia Bhatt.” Pedestrian insults and invectives as such are not new for Ambedkar but never before anyone in any public intellectual forum had used such a foul language for him. While the right wing ruling establishment is mouthing limitless love and displaying inexhaustible devotion to Ambedkar, it is interesting to hear someone known to be engaged with theorizing greatness of Hindu culture and tradition showering abuses on Ambedkar with impunity.
Balgangadhara may never admit association with the Sangh Pariwar as many of his ilk do but he has repeatedly admitted being a Brahman, and that too with worthless pride. Before that Arun Shouri– let it be said in his favour that he was not as idiotic as Gangadhara — in his Worshipping False God had marshaled his pedestrian facts with an aura of discovery to argue that Ambedkar was not a maker of the constitution of India. He and many of his detractors among Dalits did not realize that their belabouring the point was completely off the mark as Ambedkar himself had disowned the constitution and exposed the Brahmanic conspiracy to use him as a hack. He had also said that he did not have any association with the Sangh Pariwar but the fact remained that he was a chosen one to head the most happening ministry to be, the ministry of disinvestment, in the first ever BJP’s cabinet under Atal Behari Bajpeyi. Balgangadhara too would claim no connection with the Sangh Pariwar but the language he speaks in and arguments he proffers inadvertently reveal the truth that he belonged to the same tribe that masked its Hindutva with a secular veneer. In the euphoric excesses the BJP establishment has been committing in eulogy to Ambedkar, this episode uncovered the deep rooted hatred for Ambedkar in the Brahmanic camp.
The three days international conference in which Balgangadhara spoke was on “the force of law and the law of force on Derrida’s theology” and hence obviously Ambedkar or Ambedkrites did not constitute the subject matter except perhaps in illustration of Derrida’s negative theology. Other speakers for instance did not bring them in. But he went berserk calling Ambedkar an idiot and wondered how Columbia University awarded doctorates to him. Incidentally, he needs to be reminded of another, equally hallowed institution, London School of Economics also awarding him a Doctor of Science, incidentally the first one to be given to any Indian. He also called a person (he did not name him but people guessed it was Narendra Jadhav who brought out three volume of Ambedkar’s essential writings) an idiot. Well, it may be so as a plethora of unethical reproductions of Ambedkar’s books in the guise of editing are truly not defensible intellectual works. Then he made derogatory remarks on Islam and Christianity. His speech was fraught with abusive slangs bereft of scholarship becoming of the theme and standing of the conference. For instance, he kept on using bullshit for all that is generally held sacred by the people, perhaps to illustrate the apophaticism in Derrida. He did not spare even the host in EFLU calling it a madhouse obviously directing his ire against its faculty and students having relatively better representation of the non-Brahmans. The next day, when some senior professors engaged with his references to caste and untouchability, he directly mounted vitriolic attack on them and remarked that the students should think about their future when they were taught by incompetent, idiotic “assess with caste certificates”, obviously referring to Dalits, Adivasis and OBCs. Likewise, he spilled his scorn while responding to a question by a Muslim faculty saying that he was spreading terror.
Both students and faculty in his audience were aghast at such brazenly casteist and communalist statements. He unashamedly kept repeating that he was a Brahman. It was particularly audacious to speak at a place like Hyderabad known for its campuses that have history of Dalit resistance. The entire lecture was replete with not only demoralizing remarks against the reserved category of students and faculty but punishable in law under IPC sections 295 (A), 154 (A), and 298, and various sections of the Atrocity Act. There was no question, however, of EFLU authorities, which did nothing to stop him committing these crimes, resorting to legal action against him. The reaction of others also came quite late, more than a week after the event, by way of a petition made by the EFLU faculty to the Vice Chancellor on 11 November although the Deccan Chronicle had carried small news on 6 November itself that Osmania students contemplated to lodge a police complaint against him. In response to this building of anger, Balgangadhara wrote his above said response complaining against the Ambedkarites for their expression of indignation for his unruly statements. Terming that as intolerance, he did not realize that if Dalits had been intolerant, he would have been physically attacked right there.
Terrorism, not Intolerance
Firstly, calling murders of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Com. Govind Pansare and Dr Kalburgi or violence and fatal assaults on ordinary citizens (as in Dadri, UP; Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir), etc., as intolerance is erroneous and gross understatement. The right word for it is terrorism. Because this social violence by organized gangs backed by the complicit state is not just a behavioural characteristic of certain individuals or groups as non-toleration of the opinions different from one’s own but the terrorist acts against those who dare to oppose them. Balgangadhara amply gave a glimpse of his hyper wisdom justifying lynching of Dadri murder using fabricated facts that Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched and his son Danish was brutally beaten for having stolen a cow from the stables of another person. They deserved it as people were lynched in ancient Europe and America for stealing cattle. He made similar foolish remarks about Kalburgi that he was himself an intolerant man and also went on suspecting his “moral and intellectual integrity” that put “the legendary Chhota Rajan to shame.” He insinuates that his murder might have had to do with his allegedly loose morals. The quality of simile and his overall arguments in these snippets of wisdom would rather firmly establish him as an idiot. Instead, the hundreds of intellectuals, artists, litterateurs who returned their awards to the government in symbolic protest against its complicity in these acts were rather idiots, ignoramuses exhibiting “an abysmal ignorance of human history”. More than 135 scientists who had drawn a picture of apocalypse, saying peace and harmony in the country are being “threatened by a rash of sectarian and bigoted acts that have recently escalated” were also idiots to say so! It is only the Brahman in Balagagadhara who was an epitome of wisdom!
What is his claim to wisdom beyond raising such idiotic questions as “Is there a caste system in India?” and indulging in quibbling of words like “Worlds without Views and Views without the World” (an extended title of his Ph D thesis), which the Brahmans are traditionally good at. As for the caste question, his answer is in negative accusing the British missionaries who brought with them the Christian theology, especially the Protestant theology, mired by its corrupt clergies and other evils of Catholic religion, having interpreted Indian society as caste society. So the castes against which the entire shraman tradition revolted and which the majority of Hindu Dharmshastras vehemently protected were a chimera, a figment of imagination of the Christian clergies which were inexplicably taken as real by all of us! He dished out such nonsense through the Centre for the Study of Local Cultures (CSLC) at Kuvempu University, at Shimoga, of which he was a director. The hidden Brahmanic schema of his ‘research’ was exploded by many. A casual glance at the various write-ups by and about him reveals that he belongs to the “long live Sanatana Dharma brigade”. He is shrewd enough to weave a cobweb of words to fool the West to sit up and take notice of him as profound scholar. But make no mistake; he basically belongs to the pseudo scholars’ brigade of the Pariwar to intellectualize its decadent project.
Return to Ambedkar
It is no surprise then that Ambedkar who challenged Brahmanism will be an anathema to such a person. Ambedkar did not indulge in sterile quibbling of words passed as scholarship; he dealt with substantive issues of humanity through the integration of theory and practice towards the goal of establishing a society based on liberty, equality, fraternity, unlike arm-chaired pontifications of Balgangadharas of this world. Ambedkar may be wrong, grossly wrong, as any human. But calling him an idiot is just exhibiting one’s own idiocy. To comment on Ambedkar demands high degree of intellectual honesty and integrity, which apparently Balgangadhara does not possess. He is contemptuous of “asses with caste certificates” but does not have an elementary intellect to understand that this hackneyed argument of merit has repeatedly boomeranged at those who made it. While it is not the justification of reservations, which I always considered having been detrimental to Dalits in net terms, but this merit argument could be simply busted by the history of slavery the so called (upper caste) meritorious people gave this subcontinent so rich in natural endowment. They should be ashamed of their past but instead they seek to recreate it through their hindutva project.
It is not the matter of dealing with some abusive Balagangadhara, who can be easily dealt with by any ordinary Dalit. It is a matter of knowing what the entire hindutva camp really stands for. On the one hand it seeks to create a cult of Ambedkar by memorializing everything that he set his foot on but on the other it condemns him as intellectual nobody. It is this hindutva core Balagangadhara inadvertently exposed, which is of value to the people in general and Dalits in particular. This hydra-headed camp would unleash Balagangadharas to test out waters with provocative statements and distance itself from its consequence. It wanted to puncture the entire Ambedkarite project by making out castes in India as mithya and colonial conspiracy. It is no scholarship; it is the Goebbels’s infamous stratagem to keep repeating a big enough lie until it is taken as plausible and eventually accepted by people as truth.
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