Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dalit Death Shines Light on India's Caste Apartheid

"Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic"
Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Father of India's Constitution

What Dr. Ambedkar said decades ago about the inherent inequality of Indian society continues to be true today. The latest manifestation of it is the suicide of a Dalit Ph.D. scholar Rohith Vermula in the southern Indian state of Telangana.

In 2015, the University of Hyderabad suspended 5 Dalit PhD scholars -- all members of the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) -- after reports that on Aug. 3, students from ASA attacked Susheel Kumar of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), from the ruling party BJP's student wing. A team of investigators from the university found these five students innocent, but they were still suspended after BJP Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya insisted on this action.

Smirti Irani, another ruling BJP minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet, has also been accused of playing a role in suspension and the subsequent protest and death of the Dalit scholar in Hyderabad.  She is also accused by the Opposition of lying about it.

India's rigid caste system assigns each individual to an occupation based on his or her birth. Such division have existed in other societies but these assignments are particularly rigid in Hindu society. It's extremely difficult for someone born to low-caste parents to pursue occupations reserved for higher castes. This has resulted in what the United Nations considers "Caste Apartheid".

The Hindu hierarchy is said to have evolved from different parts of the body of Brahma—the creator of the universe. Thus, the Brahmans, who originated from the mouth, are engaged in the most prestigious priestly and teaching occupations. The Kshatriyas, made from from the arms, are the rulers and warriors; the Vaishyas, from the thighs, are traders and merchants. The Shudras, from the feet, are manual workers and servants of other castes. Below the Shudras and outside the caste system, lowest in the order, the Dalits engage in the most demeaning and stigmatized occupations like scavenging, for instance, and dealing with bodily waste.

Women get the worst of both worlds under the system of Caste Apartheid. Women in India face discrimination and sexual intimidation, however the “human rights of Dalit women are violated in peculiar and extreme forms. Stripping, naked parading, caste abuses, pulling out nails and hair, sexual slavery and bondage are a few forms peculiar to Dalit women.” These women are living under a form of apartheid: discrimination and social exclusion is a major factor, denying access ”to common property resources like land, water and livelihood sources, [causing] exclusion from schools, places of worship, common dining, inter-caste marriages”, according to the UN Human Rights body.

In spite of the obvious devastating impact of caste discrimination, the Indian government continues to oppose the UN attempts to define it as racism. Paul Divakar, convener of the Delhi-based National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, says, "In a country that prides itself as being the world's biggest democracy, more than 200 million people from the Dalit communities suffer from caste discrimination."

The only minority group reportedly worse off than Dalits are Indian Muslims, according to Indian government's data. The Muslims of India suffer from widespread discrimination in education, employment, housing and criminal justice system.

Given the many ethnic, regional, religious and caste fault lines running through the length and breadth of India, there have long been questions raised about India's identity as a nation. Speaking about, the US South Asia expert Stephen Cohen of Brookings Institution has said, " But there is no all-Indian Hindu identity—India is riven by caste and linguistic differences, and Aishwarya Rai and Sachin Tendulkar are more relevant rallying points for more Indians than any Hindu caste or sect, let alone the Sanskritized Hindi that is officially promulgated".

The ethnic, regional, religious and caste fault lines dividing India have only widened under the new government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India which has been engaged in a concreted campaign to accelerate total Hinduization of India. It does not augur well for the future of India as a secular, democratic and united nation envisioned by its founders.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Dalit Victims of Indian Apartheid

Disintegration of India

Hinduization of India Under Modi

Discrimination Against Indian Muslims


Sukhdev said...

Ahhh those words of Churchill ring so hollow today. "India will break-up in a few years, on the other hand, Pakistan unified by religion will be more eternal (sic)".

Caste may have been a potential threat during Ambedkar's time but it has been gradually chipped away since.

In the mean time Pakistanis are terrorizing Pakistanis. Pray for those precious children and their families. If only Pakistan knew who their real enemy is. That will take time - maybe an eternity?

Riaz Haq said...

Sukdev: "Caste may have been a potential threat during Ambedkar's time but it has been gradually chipped away since. ...In the mean time Pakistanis are terrorizing Pakistanis. "

History tells us that India's caste system has proved to be far more enduring and much more resilient than any known insurgency anywhere in the world.

Anonymous said...

You are fooled by Indian media Haq. This death was more due power struggle between ABVP and ASA fuelled with youth emotions. The caste based discrimination is virtually absent in Hyderabad University. All these demonstrations and political activities interrupt the main focus of the university, that is academics. He was a Phd student on government grant and was wasting that money by wasting time in all of the union and political activities further due to two unions there were constant disruption in academic activities. It is easy to give any incidence a caste colour, reality is that Indian academic institution hate all the student politics and often deal with the unions in a very heavy handed fashion irrespective of their caste or creed.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "He was a Phd student on government grant and was wasting that money by wasting time in all of the union and political activities further due to two unions there were constant disruption in academic activities."

Your comment reflects the deep-rooted bigotry against Dalits in India. Social activism by Dalit students is not a waste of time but a necessity in such a society.

Sukhdev said...

This blogger has a constant urge to prove that by bashing India, or by becoming a show case of Indian problems, Pakistan's world image will, by some miracle, improve overnight. Well, good luck but the Genie is out of the bottle for Pakistan and Pakistanis can't put her back because they are much more interested in problems of others rather than solving their own!!

Shah said...


Why Don't You Surf Youtube.You Indians Love Doing It All The Time Why Blame Riaz Sahib.We Pakistnis Acknowledge Our Shortcomings Unlike You Indians Who Can't Provide A Basic Sanitation To Their People(read:Washroom) and Dream Of Being A Superpower Like USA.We Pakistnis Only Take Pity On You

Anonymous said...

Shah when you talk about Basic sanitation , I will tell you, you guys are forgotton your history, this is a social system, which is linked with poovery by you guys, in Indian village ,Jamidar also goes to open,he has lot money, and govt provide US$200 to each family for washroom. So it is not a matter of poverty , it is matter of social system and awareness. And in my city Dalit visits more frequent to temples than upper caste. They have reservation and protection law.

MesquiteIce said...


Please read his death note.

This guy whatever caste he may be did not want to be called a dalit. He wanted to be a part of stardust that everybody else was made up of. But silly politicians and media have been referring to him as Dalit. He died for being identified by the group that he lived with. For your kind information he was not a dalit but fought for dalit cause as everybody is entitled. He did not study based on reservation but took the merit route.

India needs freedom from people who are obsessed with creating non existant hatered. They are searching for identity just like the ahmedis, bohras, sufis etc in islamic countries. May i bring to your kind notice that 50% of educational seats is reserved for the Oppressed by opressing others. For what, for the fault of their great grandfather. This is reverse discrimination. That is why Indians succeed everywhere but India.

Therefore i would agree that India is not heaven on earth, but to say that Indians dont acknowledge shortcomings is farfetched. Rohit died because he was nauseated by identifying people based on caste and that is what everyone has exactly been doing.

Is it mandatory that muslims should fight with Hindus or Pakistanis and Indians should hate each other. If you believe rohit we are all part of the same stardust.

Unknown said...

Shah"We Pakistnis Acknowledge Our Shortcomings Unlike You Indians ".
If you will be acknowledging your shortcomings which are worst than India, you may have not asked about Indians. First solve problem at your home, then, come and talk to us. We have been handling and eliminated many problems. Same thing will happen to this one.
Shah: "You Indians Who Can't Provide A Basic Sanitation To Their People(read:Washroom) "
With the help of mission MCI, we are fastly eliminating it you know.

Moreover, we have reduced poverty to 12,4% from 21.9% in just last two years(that is why Riaz Haq has stopped posting on Indian Poverty).
We managed to jump literacy by 10% in 3 years, managed to have 1/3rd population using internet, now targeting to provide homes to everyone by 2022, building toilets for everyone to end open defecations forever, building a large force of skilled neighbor.
Our HDI jumped from 0.554 to 0.586 in 2014 and to 0.609 in 2015( even faster than China).
Meanwhile pak only could increase it to 0.538 from 0.537.
Indian Economy is expanding very well.
Shah: "and Dream Of Being A Superpower Like USA.We Pakistnis Only Take Pity On You"
Pity on Pakistanis,because

1. There was a day when your GDP per capita was much higher than India. Now, India has higher and will have double GDP per capita in next 7-8 years.

2.Your Human Development Index was higher than India in 1991 but now, India has much higher than you. You are still slow and gap is expanding.

3. You had higher literacy rate, percentage of internet users, mobile users in time but you were left behind in that. Gap is still expanding. And your literacy is falling.
4. You guys taunted us over poverty but now India's poverty ratio has become same as that of pakistan and will become better if economic boom continues.
And same for all other things.
You guys are still in denial but you will never accept India as a model for how capitalize and develop economy. Biggest problem of you guys.(I'm not mentioning new Mega Power Providing plants. What will be the status of per capita electrical output).
I will see your opinion in 2022, because oyr targets aren't missing. Moreover, GDP per capita of India will be much higher.
Let's we both stay sticked to Riaz Haq's blog.
Also, if you have doubts about India's emergenc as superpower, India's large workforce, enough to create an economic giant with a technologically advanced military, R&D and Space Program, it is totally inevitable.
A large country, whenever is developed, it's great power status is inevitable. Rise of Soviet was inevitable, rise of USA was inevitable, Rise of Chian was inevitable also Rise of India is inevitable and India is rising tackling it's all problems.
All of these countries were doing rapid economic growth and eliminating these problems in their time. And if you match, China's story is a India 30 years ago.

We don't need anybody's approvement to prove ourselves.

Riaz Haq said...

How Severe Is Inequality in #India? We Just Don’t Know, Says Thomas Piketty. #Modi #BJP via @WSJIndia

In New Delhi on Thursday, Mr. Piketty said India’s extremes of opulence amid destitution—“islands of California in a sea of sub-Saharan Africa,” in the words of economists Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen—are probably comparable to what prevails in Brazil and South Africa, where around 60% of national income goes to the top 10% of earners. The figure in France and Germany is around 35%, according to Mr. Piketty’s data. In the U.K., it’s 40%. In the U.S., nearly 50%.

Superstar economist Thomas Piketty filled several auditoriums with listeners when he spoke in New Delhi this week, many of them likely hoping to learn what the French scholar’s research on economic inequality around the world reveals about India, where wealth and deprivation are often on display in uncomfortable proximity.

His answer may have disappointed a few of them. “We don’t really know,” Mr. Piketty said. India’s government simply doesn’t release the requisite data.

For his book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” which became a surprise blockbuster when the English translation was released in 2014, Mr. Piketty mined decades of tax records to show that income and wealth inequality in the U.S. and Western Europe fell in the first half of the 20th century—and then rose spectacularly in the second.

He connects the latter shift to changes in various policies—income-tax rates, corporate-governance rules that affect executive compensation, minimum wages—and calls for remedial efforts, such as a global tax on capital, to dissipate the concentration of riches.

In New Delhi on Thursday, Mr. Piketty said India’s extremes of opulence amid destitution—“islands of California in a sea of sub-Saharan Africa,” in the words of economists Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen—are probably comparable to what prevails in Brazil and South Africa, where around 60% of national income goes to the top 10% of earners. The figure in France and Germany is around 35%, according to Mr. Piketty’s data. In the U.K., it’s 40%. In the U.S., nearly 50%.

But Mr. Piketty really can’t be certain about India, he said. The country’s government stopped publishing detailed statistics related to income tax in 2000. “It’s quite a unique case in history, where you have a decline in transparency and publication about income taxation.”

He continued: “I have been in touch with many people at all levels in India for the past 15 years to try to understand why this cannot change. Everybody tells me, ‘This will change in the next three months, six months.’ ”

Officials at India’s Finance Ministry said they couldn’t immediately comment.

Mr. Piketty acknowledged the sensitivities surrounding income tax in India, where administration can be patchy and evasion widespread. “Let me make very clear that nobody is asking for names,” he said. “We are talking of fully anonymous data. Today, we do not even know the number of taxpayers and amounts of income by income brackets.”

India doesn’t have an estate tax, so there aren’t any official data on inherited wealth either, Mr. Piketty noted.

The 44-year-old economist drew a huge, appreciative crowd at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, where he was speaking en route to the Jaipur Literature Festival. Even the overflow rooms overflowed with listeners. People crouched in aisles and stood on a lawn where a projector and screen had been set up.

Mr. Piketty lauded India, with its caste-based quotas at universities and government agencies, for at least attempting to help the disadvantaged gain access to education and jobs.

Overall, he said, “I hope Indian elites will behave in a more responsible way than Western elites did in the 20th century.” It took two world wars for some Western governments to use progressive taxes to fund public health and education, he said.

“In India, these reforms, to a large extent, are yet to come.”

Shah said...

@Man of Action

You Can Give Me As Much Statistics As You Want,I Will Take It With A Pinch Of Salt.Considering That Figure Fudging Is Favourite Hobby Of Your Government Functionaries

"With the help of mission MCI, we are fastly eliminating it you know."

Why Don't You Mention The Figure Fudging Done By Swachh Bharat

"Moreover, we have reduced poverty to 12,4% from 21.9% in just last two years(that is why Riaz Haq has stopped posting on Indian Poverty)."

You Did Not Reduce Poverty You Just Manipulate Figures Sometimes You Change The Definition of Poverty and Sometimes You Change The Poverty Line

What Makes You Think I Would Give A Damn About Any of The Figures You Throw At Me When You Have A System Open To Manipulation

"There was a day when your GDP per capita was much higher than India. Now, India has higher and will have double GDP per capita in next 7-8 years."

Considering What Your Central Statistics Office Is Capable Of You Might Have A GDP Per Capita I Won't Be Surprised You Have 1000 Times Greater Than Us Next Year ROFL

"if you have doubts about India's emergenc as superpower, India's large workforce, enough to create an economic giant with a technologically advanced military, R&D and Space Program, it is totally inevitable."

Dear I Don't Doubt The Potential Of Your Nation I Just Take Pity On The Mindset You People Have.You Indians Say That Now You Are A Rising Power And Don't Care About Pakistan But Yet You Have The Urge To Come And Post Useless Comments On Pakistani Sites

"Rise of Soviet was inevitable, rise of USA was inevitable, Rise of Chian was inevitable also Rise of India is inevitable and India is rising tackling it's all problems.
All of these countries were doing rapid economic growth and eliminating these problems in their time. And if you match, China's story is a India 30 years ago."

Soviet Unions Fall Was Just As Inevitable As It's Rise And You Can't Expect To Be Compared
With USA and China Both Are Ethnically Homogenous Nationas With Much Greater Social Cohesiveness And Discipline.India Is A Highly Diversified Nation Which Was Never A Single Political Unit Throughout It's History Until The Colonial Period.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian #Dalit woman survived in #India by hiding her caste identity. #DalitSuicide | PBS NewsHour via @NewsHour

Growing up in India, Yashica Dutt feared that people would discover her true identity.

Then one day when she was 15, they did. She walked with her friend home as she did every day. Her friend’s mother invited her inside and offered her a glass of water. Sitting across from her friend’s parents in their drawing room, they asked about Dutt’s caste.

“I vividly remember thinking, ‘It’s now or never,’” said Dutt, now 29.

She looked down at the floor and told them she was a Dalit — a member of a group also referred to as Untouchables, which sits at the bottom of the caste system and makes up 16 percent of India’s 1.2 billion people.

Under such a system, Dutt would be deemed “unclean,” discouraged against sipping water from her friend’s glass or sitting next to her because her friend belonged to a higher caste.

“I knew I’d done something wrong,” she said. Moments later, she left.

The next time she saw her friend in class, her friend told Dutt that her parents forbade her from speaking to Dutt again.

Dutt said she was never hurt that way again because she “became really good at hiding” who she was.

In many ways, she defied Dalit stereotypes. Her skin color was fair. She spoke excellent English and did well in school. Generations back, her family name changed from Nidaniya, a name that revealed their traditional profession as scavengers, to Dutt, a more ambiguous surname.

And if anyone asked her caste again, Dutt followed her mother’s advice and told them she was Brahmin, a group that sits at the top of the caste system’s hierarchy.

She kept her secret for more than a decade. She worked in New Delhi as a journalist for the Hindustan Times, one of India’s largest newspapers, before moving to New York City where she earned her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

But when an Indian doctoral student named Rohith Vemula recently killed himself to protest discrimination that he and other Dalits face across South Asia, Dutt couldn’t ignore who she was anymore. In what The Hindu newspaper reported to be his suicide note, Vemula wrote that, “The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility,” and added that “My birth is my fatal accident.”

Inspired by Vemula, on Tuesday Dutt declared that she was “coming out as Dalit” and asked other Dalits to share their stories on Facebook and on Tumblr.

Dutt isn’t alone. More than 130 academics from around the world signed an open letter following Vemula’s suicide on Jan. 17 decrying what they called the “most recent case of caste discrimination in Indian higher education” by administrators from Hyderabad University, who had suspended Vemula and four other Dalits from school and expelled them from campus housing.

But more than five decades later, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch criticized India’s failure to stop Dalit discrimination, which often resulted in Dalits being “denied access to land, forced to work in degrading conditions, and routinely abused at the hands of the police and of higher-caste groups that often enjoy the state’s protection,” according to a 2007 report.


“Caste-based discrimination goes back centuries, and it is very deeply entrenched in Indian society,” Bajoria said. “This will have to be battled at every level.”

Dutt, who still lives in New York and works as a journalist, doesn’t believe the caste system will end during her lifetime, but she said she thinks an open conversation about Dalit discrimination will help empower members of her community.

“It’s wrong to be quiet,” she said.

Iqbal Singh said...

Not unlike slavery and racism in the US against Blacks. It started centuries ago and still hounds the country.

Not unlike Pakistanis who viewed Bengali Muslims as inferior, dirty and dark. Result was Bangladesh.

Please get off your high horse. Pakistan is no saint of a country. On the contrary quite the opposite.

Shah said...

@Iqbal Singh
Only The Ruling Elite Viewed Them As Such Not Pakistanis In General

Anonymous said...

@Iqbal Singh
We Pakistanis Hane Never Claimed to Be Saints It Is Your Country That Claims To Be 'Shining'

Unknown said...

"You Can Give Me As Much Stati..."
"Why Don't You Mention The Figure Fudging Done By Swachh .."
It's not our job to make you guys believe figures. If you have doubts, come here and watch at India.
If talking about our media, who exaggerates figures, you must immediately confirm from other sources.
Let's take an example of defense . India imports 35% parts of Tejas but TOI simply wrote it double as 70% without any source. You must UN official reports, estimates and projections.

Shah:"You Did Not Reduce Poverty You Just Manipulate Figures Sometimes You Change The Definition of Poverty and Sometimes You Change The Poverty Line"
We didn't touch poverty line.Cost of living in India is much lower as compared to other countries (even pakistan). So, it's unfair to exaggerate our poverty.
I live in India and I don't see a quarter of population living in poverty because cost of living here is much lower.
"What Makes You Think I Would Give A Damn About Any of The Figures You Throw At Me When You Have A System Open To Manipulation"
Data is from 2011!!
It's India where human development attributes grow much at higher speed than pakistan- GDP per capita, HDI,Literacy.
You troll Indians about poverty, can you explain us about Human Development Index and literacy rate? What's condition of your country in these two important attributes? :D
Shah: "Considering What Your Central Statistics Office Is Capable Of You Might Have A GDP Per Capita I Won't Be Surprised You Have 1000 Times Greater Than Us Next Year ROFL"
Frustration at its best. Just come and watch at India. You guys are struggling for metros, (we have about a dozen), roads highways, Large Cities (now building smart cities) and how much energy production we are expanding. Meanwhile, you are still messing load shading.
Just ask those 70000 people who cross border every year to come to India or those people who had a trip here. For example, Karachi can't match a small city Gurgaon.

I can't understand, why you people call whole to India poor just on the basis of a small portion of population.

Shah:"Dear I Don't Doubt The Potential Of Your Nation I Just Take Pity On The Mindset You People Have.You Indians Say That Now You Are A Rising Power And Don't Care About Pakistan But Yet You Have The Urge To Come And Post Useless Comments On Pakistani Sites"
Indians don't care and never "start" any troll war.
We only respond to stupidity against India on pakistani sites. Even on PDF, this is only reason we have to join to prevent such propaganda.
I can't understand what India has taken of these guys, who uselessly butt in without invitation and always go off topic to post entire $hit against India.
Just on one issue:

"P. O. V. E R. T Y."

One of few left indicators on which India is still lagging. And nev talk about Literacy, HDI, where you are pathetic.
I just wanna say:

In 2015,



Below India



But you are still in denial.

Shah: "Soviet Unions Fall Was Just As Inevitable As It's Rise And You Can't Expect To Be Compared
With USA and China Both Are Ethnically Homogenous Nationas With Much Greater Social Cohesiveness And Discipline.India Is A Highly Diversified Nation Which Was Never A Single Political Unit Throughout It's History Until The Colonial Period."
Colonial period only harmed the Indian Economy.

"China is homogeneous".
China is also a diversed country like India if you don't know.
That so called "intolerance" also exists in China but pakistan media never reports on that.

China banned Burqa, pakistan media may be bashing us badly if so happened in India.

"Imams in China were made to dance on roads".
pak media may a have declared a troll war against us but they ignored news about China.

Unknown said...

Now, "intolerance" in USA:
You can watch their behave with black people. I will just urge you to
"Divide the no. racial discrimination with the total population".
You will know how "tolerant" is USA against India. Moreover,
just like Soviets, China and India are also diversified but they have been handling their systems Communism or Democracy whatever they have but USSR had gone to many reforms before that. Soviet was highly unstable. Don't compare them with us.

After all,

I just wanna say you guys to know better about India instead of believing any exaggerated propaganda.
I challenge you, just come here a watch.

Riaz Haq said...

MoA: "I just wanna say you guys to know better about India instead of believing any exaggerated propaganda.
I challenge you, just come here a watch. "

I have visited India many times. I know how intolerant Indians are toward each other.

In terms of stats, a World Values Survey found India to be the most racist country in the world.

43.5% of Indians, the highest percentage in the world, said they do not want to have a neighbor of a different race, according to a Washington Post report based on World's Values Survey.

About Pakistan, the report says that "although the country has a number of factors that coincide with racial intolerance – sectarian violence, its location in the least-tolerant region of the world, low economic and human development indices – only 6.5 percent of Pakistanis objected to a neighbor of a different race. This would appear to suggest Pakistanis are more racially tolerant than even the Germans or the Dutch".

Shah said...

"It's not our job to make you guys believe figures. If you have doubts, come here and watch at India."

No Thank You I Have No Desire To Watch Anyone With Nature Out In The Open.

"We didn't touch poverty line.Cost of living in India is much lower as compared to other countries (even pakistan). So, it's unfair to exaggerate our poverty."

If You Had Read My Links You May Not Have Given Such A Stupid "Rebuttal"(Would That I Could Call It One)

"Data is from 2011!!"

OK Here Is A Piece From 2015

It Is An Open Reality That India's Poverty Line And Definition Of Poverty Has Been Changed Multiple Times For Political Reasons.You Can Live In All The Denials And Delusions You Want Like I Give Damn

"Just come and watch at India. You guys are struggling for metros, (we have about a dozen), roads highways,"

So A Few Shiny Urban Trains Means Now India Is Now A G8 Country Light Years Ahead Of America.Wow Troll Logic At It's Finest

"Karachi can't match a small city Gurgaon"

Gurgaon Is Anything But Perfect.,d.bGQ

This Is The Competence Of Gurgaon,d.bGQ

"But you are still in denial."

We Pakistanis Have Never Pretended To Be Rising Power or "Shining".This Disease Plagues Your Side Of The Border

"China is also a diversed country like India if you don't know"

China Is 80% Plus Han Chinese.Now Tell Me The Proportion Of Ethnic and Religious Groups In Your Country

"China banned Burqa"

China Is An Officially Communist Country And Bans All Types Of Religious Identification.It Is Across The Board Not Just Against.As For "Intolerance" In China,I Have Been There Multiple Times In My Life.I Openly Went To Pray In Mosques In Urumqi Kashgar and Guangzhou.Nobody Stopped Me.

Anonymous said...

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: " "

I bet Pervez Hoodbhoy, a well-known Indophile, only saw what he wanted to see. He chose not to see the power of the Hindu Nationalists at Indian universities and the support of IIT students and alumni for Modi's bigoted Hindutva agenda.

Mahesh said...

You should look at the latest HDI!
Yes, Pakistan is a problem free country which everyone in the world loves. India has many problems like other countries except the Utopian Pakistan. There is acknowledgement first and then only one can have the resolve to confront. Pakistan doesn't even have to acknowledge because ALL its problems are created by India, the US, Afghanistan or the West.

The future awaits. Five years or ten years from now, India has many problems to confront but Pakistan, the world knows, has NO problems to solve.


Asim said...

Mr Riaz and Mr Shah, most people today refer to Wikipedia for their information, fortunately or unfortunately. The treatment of Muslims is one such area because the Chinese government restricts or censors what is reported. I am a proud and happy Indian who is also Muslim. I know you may not be happy to hear that and would want to present "data" about us. I have read that crocodile tears type of narrative from many Pakistanis. Sorry for that digression but Wikipedia says the following.

In the 21st century, relations between Chinese Muslims and non-Muslims have become increasingly strained. This can be seen in the predominantly Uyghur Muslim region of Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has banned students, teachers, and civil servants from fasting during the month of Ramadan.[137] The Chinese authorities commented on the ban's implementation, saying that it was meant to protect the health of students and to help maintain state secularism.[138] Uyghur rights groups blame the government for the ethnic tensions present in the area and for their systematic approach to eradicating Muslim identity in the region.[137]

This discrimination faced by the Uyghurs has created feelings of alienation and resentment among the Uyghurs that has, in turn, fed into a growing Islamic radicalism in the area.[139] Numbers of non-Muslim Han have skyrocketed in the region, as well, according to Uyghur American Association President Alim Seytoff, who claims that the proportion of non-Muslims has increased exponentially from 6.7 in 1949 to 40 percent in 2008. This has inevitably lead to greater ethnic tensions over jobs and resources.[140] These ethnic tensions resulting from Uyghur persecution have had serious repercussions in China, as Uyghur extremists have carried out numerous violent acts across the country. For example, a bombing of a Beijing park in May 1997 killed one person, while a bombing of two buses in the same year killed another two people. Similarly, the Uyghur capital of Ürümqi in the Xinjiang region has been witness to multiple acts of terrorism, with over 30 such attacks happening in the name of Muslim and Tibetan separatist demands.[141] By the early 21st century, the East Turkestan Islamic movement had been involved in 200 or more terrorist attacks resulting in 162 deaths and over 440 wounded.[139] The actions taken by the government extend beyond banning Ramadan, however, and also include deciding which citizens can go to Mosque and which versions of the Qur'an are acceptable and accessible. Consequently, the Chinese government exercises considerable control over the Uyghur people.[138] Uyghurs have aimed to overcome this domination through organizing secret meetings in people's homes, commonly referred to as Mashrap. The feelings of frustration experienced by this group, combined with localized gatherings who are influenced by the rise of Islamism abroad, has led to an increased reliance placed on religion and fundamentalism by the Uyghurs from government oppression.[139]

Shah said...


"Imams in China were made to dance on roads".

Where Did You Get That Radio Free Asia The American Mouthpiece

Riaz Haq said...

Asim: "In the 21st century, relations between Chinese Muslims and non-Muslims have become increasingly strained"

The problem with wikipedia is that anyone can edit it to reflect their own biases.

The fact is that, unlike India where Muslims are treated worse than untouchables (as per Indian government's own reports), the issue in China's Xinjiang province is ethnic, not religious. Majority of Chinese Muslims, the Hui Chinese, are not affected by it.

Ashraful said...

Since no one has yet put out the HDI data for Low Developed, here it is. Now we need Riazbhai to post it.

2015 estimates for 2014
145 Steady Kenya 0.548 Increase 0.004
145 Increase Nepal 0.548 Increase 0.005
147 Steady Pakistan 0.538 Increase 0.002
148 Steady Myanmar 0.536 Increase 0.005
149 Steady Angola 0.532 Increase 0.002
150 Decrease Swaziland 0.531 Increase 0.001
151 Steady Tanzania 0.521 Increase 0.005
152 Steady Nigeria 0.514 Increase 0.004
153 Increase Cameroon 0.512 Increase 0.005
154 Decrease Madagascar 0.510 Increase 0.002
155 Increase Zimbabwe 0.509 Increase 0.008
156 Steady Mauritania 0.506 Increase 0.002
156 Decrease Solomon Islands 0.506 Increase 0.001
158 Decrease Papua New Guinea 0.505 Increase 0.002
159 Decrease Comoros 0.503 Increase 0.002
160 Steady Yemen 0.498 Steady
161 Steady Lesotho 0.497 Increase 0.003
162 Increase Togo 0.484 Increase 0.009
163 Decrease Haiti 0.483 Increase 0.002
163 Steady Rwanda 0.483 Increase 0.004
163 Increase Uganda 0.483 Increase 0.005
166 Decrease Benin 0.480 Increase 0.003

For reference Bangladesh is in the Medium category at 142 and India at 130.

Riaz Haq said...

Ashraful: "For reference Bangladesh is in the Medium category at 142 and India at 130.

Hurray!!! Bangladesh and India are emerging superpowers ranked 142 and 130 for HDI ranked with sub-Saharan Africa among 200 nations!!! Wow!!! What an accomplishment!!!

Hopewins said...

^^RH WROTE: "History tells us that India's caste system has proved to be far more enduring and much more resilient than....."

What is the name of that big river in Egypt?

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "What is the name of that big river in Egypt?"

It's beyond ludicrous to compare any caste issues in Pakistan with those in India. The numbers tell the story better.

Over 250 million people are victims of caste-based discrimination and segregation in India. They live miserable lives, shunned by much of society because of their ranks as untouchables or Dalits at the bottom of a rigid caste system in Hindu India. Dalits are discriminated against, denied access to land, forced to work in slave-like conditions, and routinely abused, even killed, at the hands of the police and of higher-caste groups that enjoy the state's protection, according to Human Rights Watch.

Sultana said...

This apartheid was there before 1950 not after that. We have special laws against the people who practice this discrimination.

Riaz Haq said...

Sultana: "This apartheid was there before 1950 not after that. We have special laws against the people who practice this discrimination."

Laws have no meaning when they are not enforced. That is the case in India.

A survey by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights on the practices of untouchability (Dalits) undertaken in 565 villages in 11 major states of India found in 73 percent of villages, Dalits were not permitted to enter non-Dalit homes.

In 70 percent of villages, non-Dalits would not eat with Dalits. In 48.4 percent of surveyed villages, Dalits were denied access to common water sources. In as many as 38 percent of government schools, Dalit children were made to sit separately while eating.

Dalits also face routine violence. A 2005 government report said there is a crime committed against a Dalit every 20 minutes.

In December 2006, Indian Prime Minister Mannohan Singh became the first Indian leader to acknowledge the parallel between untouchability and apartheid in India.

Singh described untouchability as a “blot on humanity” and acknowledged that despite constitutional and legal protections, caste discrimination still exists throughout much of India.

Today in Asia, well over 200 million men, women and children continue to endure near complete social ostracism on the grounds of their descent. Sixty-five years after Indian independence, Vinod Sonkar, a Dalit, said, “We are still Dalit, still broken, still suppressed.”

“Dalits are increasingly becoming aware of their rights and raising their voice against discrimination and atrocities,” researcher Vidyarthee said. “Future efforts needs to be in that direction.”

Shah said...


You Cannot Compare The So Called Pakistani 'Castes' With Indian Ones.These Are Nothing More Than Titles.A Butt Will Not Be Kicked Out Of A Housing Society Because It Is Inhabited By Arains.Similarly A Rajput Will Not Be Denied A Place In Higher Education Institution Because He Is A Rajput.

There Is Not That Kind Of Hard And Fast Social Stratification

Anonymous said...

“So I never was very optimistic, but am I more pessimistic right now? Ya.”

While I do think Amritya Sen has a particular "Agenda" to promote and a "leaning" towards a particular Indian political party, namely congress, I think he is right about one thing - India is spending way lesser than necessary on the very foundational needs of the country. It makes no sense and even it is insulting that Indian institutes like IIM "select" a candidate who is 99.9 percentile but reject someone who is 99.8 percentile - Does an IQ exam such as CAT (Indianised GMAT) has the necessary 'least count' to tell two candiates one coming at 99.9 percentile and another at 99.8 percentile apart? To make the matter worse the government has forced a "uniform" system of selection - just to appear fair - a weighted score based on marks one obtained in 10th 12th graduate and CAT. How does someone's marks in 10th and 12th predict their suitability for management study is beyond my understanding. This seems like the rationalisation for a broken education system. I guess India is missing the basic point here - There is a dire need for large number of recognised educational institutes in India for her 1.25 billion population providing quality vocational, management, engineering and medical education. We need something which US had in early 1900s - a large network of quality state universities, community colleges and polytechnics.

Riaz Haq said...

Pankaj Mishra on Arundhati Roy: #Hindu nationalists ​have many ways to silence writers. #Modi #BJP

the suppression of intellectual and creative freedoms is assuming much cannier forms in India, a country with formal and apparently free democratic institutions.

Controlled by upper-caste Hindu nationalists, Indian universities have been purging “anti-nationals” from both syllabuses and campuses for some months now. In a shocking turn of events last month, Rohith Vemula, a PhD student in Hyderabad, killed himself. Accused of “anti-national” political opinions, the impoverished research scholar, who belonged to one of India’s traditionally and cruelly disadvantaged castes, was suspended, and, after his fellowship was cancelled, expelled from student housing. Letters from Modi’s government in Delhi to university authorities revealed that the latter were under relentless pressure to move against “extremist and anti-national politics” on campus. Vemula’s heartbreaking suicide note attests to the near-total isolation and despair of a gifted writer and thinker.

The extended family of upper-caste nationalists plainly aim at total domination of the public sphere. But they don’t only use the bullying power of the leviathan state – one quickly identified by local and foreign critics – to grind down their apparent enemies. They pursue them through police cases and legal petitions by private individuals – a number of criminal complaints have been filed against writers and artists in India. They create a climate of impunity, in which emboldened mobs ransack newspapers offices, art galleries and cinemas.

And they turn the medium into their message in a variety of ways. Big business cronies of prime minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) are close to achieving Berlusconi-style domination of Indian television. The Hindu nationalists have also learned how to manipulate the new media, and shape instant opinion: they hire, to use Erdoğan’s words, a “robot lobby” on social media to drown their audiences in disinformation – until two plus two looks five.

It is possible to identify institutions and individuals across the realms of business, education and the media who serve as attack-dogs and sentinels for the party in power. All these networks of political, social and cultural power – from suave editors to rancid trolls – work synergistically to build dispositions, and dictate perceptions. Together, they can exert pressure at multiple points on individuals much less vulnerable than Rohith Vemula.

Last week, as the novelist Arundhati Roy abruptly faced criminal trial for “contempt of court” that could result in imprisonment, a circulating text message claimed that the writer was part of a conspiracy by Christian missionaries to murder Vemula and break up India. It wasn’t easy to dismiss this farrago of paranoid nonsense. And then the indifferent, if not hostile, reports in India’s mainstream media could have made anyone think that Roy had a case to answer.


It involves not only censorship by a ruthless regime and self-censorship by its powerless individual victims. It depends on a steady deterioration in public and private morality, a rise in lynch-mob hysteria, and a general coarsening of tone in civil society, to which judge and jester contribute equally.

Narendra Modi: the divisive manipulator who charmed the world
Read more
On the day Roy faced criminal charges in Nagpur, the Jaipur literary festival, unironically sponsored by Zee, hosted a debate on freedom of speech. The rowdiest arguments against the motion “Should Freedom of Speech be Absolute?” were presented by Anupam Kher, a Bollywood actor popular for his buffoonish turns. In November, Kher organised a demonstration against Indian authors who had returned their literary awards in protest against the assassination of three writers and the lynching of Muslims and Dalits. He repaired from shouting such slogans as “beat the literati with shoes” to pose for photos with Modi at the prime minister’s official residence in Delhi.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian prime minister #Modi claims genetic science existed in ancient #India. #BJP

Hindu nationalists have long propagated their belief that many discoveries of modern science and technology were known to the people of ancient India. But now for the first time an Indian prime minister has endorsed these claims, maintaining that cosmetic surgery and reproductive genetics were practiced thousands of years ago.

As proof, Narendra Modi gave the examples of the warrior Karna from the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata and of the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha.

“We can feel proud of what our country achieved in medical science at one point of time,” the prime minister told a gathering of doctors and other professionals at a hospital in Mumbai on Saturday. “We all read about Karna in the Mahabharata. If we think a little more, we realise that the Mahabharata says Karna was not born from his mother’s womb. This means that genetic science was present at that time. That is why Karna could be born outside his mother’s womb.”

Modi went on: “We worship Lord Ganesha. There must have been some plastic surgeon at that time who got an elephant’s head on the body of a human being and began the practice of plastic surgery.”

While much of Modi’s speech was devoted to how to improve healthcare facilities in modern India, he also dwelt on ancient India’s “capabilities” in several fields.

“There must be many areas in which our ancestors made big contributions,” he said. “Some of these are well recognised. If we talk about space science, our ancestors had, at some point, displayed great strengths in space science. What people like Aryabhata had said centuries ago is being recognised by science today. What I mean to say is that we are a country which had these capabilities. We need to regain these.”

This is not the first time that Modi has publicly articulated such ideas. But he did so earlier as chief minister of Gujarat state, and not as prime minister. He also wrote the foreword to a book for school students in Gujarat which maintains, among other things, that the Hindu God Rama flew the first aeroplane and that stem cell technology was known in ancient India.

Modi’s claims at the Mumbai hospital initially went unreported in the Indian media, except on the website

But on Monday night Headlines Today TV talk show host Karan Thapar focused on it in his primetime programme, with opposition politicians criticising Modi. The speech has also been posted on the prime minister’s official website. No Indian scientist has come forward as yet to challenge him.

Anonymous said...

How is Modi's superstitions worse than yours haq? You are a Muslim and believe in Quran . It teaches that Mohammad flew on a winged horse. If horses can fly so can Hindu pushpaks, or for that matter genetic engineering can exist 6000BC in the south East Asian region. If you disagree then say it publicly that you don't believe Quran to be correct as certainly Mohammad cannot fly on a winged horse.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "How is Modi's superstitions worse than yours haq? You are a Muslim and believe in Quran . It teaches that Mohammad flew on a winged horse. If horses can fly so can Hindu pushpaks, or for that matter genetic engineering can exist 6000BC in the south East Asian region. If you disagree then say it publicly that you don't believe Quran to be correct as certainly Mohammad cannot fly on a winged horse."

How many Muslim countries' prime ministers have you heard claiming it was built by Muslim scientists using Islamic technology? Or me claiming the same?

David Rubin said...

"How many Muslim countries' prime ministers have you heard claiming it was built by Muslim scientists using Islamic technology? Or me claiming the same?"

If muslim country head of state can be given a clean chit on this, then they must also take blame for personally sprouting hatred against Jews , be it head of state of Saudi Arabia or modern Malaysia.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's biggest student protests in 25 years spreading fast across campuses #JNUCrackdown via @bi_contributors

India's biggest nationwide student protests in a quarter of a century spread across campuses on Monday after the arrest of a student accused of sedition, in the latest battle with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government over freedom of expression.

Outrage over the arrest of the left-wing student leader, who had organized a rally to mark the anniversary of the execution of a Kashmiri separatist, has led to demonstrations in at least 18 universities.

In the largest protest, thousands of students and academics at New Delhi's prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) boycotted classes and erected barricades for a fourth day in an escalating conflict with the authorities.

"The government does not want students to have a say," said Rahila Parween, vice-president of the Delhi unit of the All India Students' Federation, a left-wing student union. "It wants to dictate what students think, understand and say."

The incident marks another flare-up in an ideological confrontation between Modi's nationalist government and left-wing and liberal groups that is prompting critics to compare it with Indira Gandhi's imposition of a state of emergency in the 1970s to crush dissent.

Members of Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the student leader, Kanhaiya Kumar, of "anti-India" sentiment. One BJP lawmaker said the university, which has a tradition of left-wing politics, should be shut down.

"I can assure you that every action we take is to protect our country. Any anti-India activity will not be tolerated," BJP President Amit Shah, one of Modi's closest allies, said at party headquarters.

Protests spread when Kumar was arrested last week for sedition, after giving a speech questioning the hanging in 2013 of Mohammad Afzal Guru over his role in the 2001 attack on parliament.Activists have long questioned Guru's conviction, and India's Supreme Court has described the evidence against him as circumstantial.

Scuffles erupted outside a New Delhi courthouse between lawyers and students where Kumar, 28, was to appear before a judge on Monday.

A leader of the student group that is aligned with the BJP said freedom of expression should not be misused to justify acts that could harm the country.

"You cannot be an Indian if you celebrate the death anniversary of a terrorist," said Saurabh Sharma, joint secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (All India Student Council).

Home Minister Rajnath Singh has, meanwhile, faced ridicule for citing a fake tweet to say that the JNU demonstration had been backed by Hafiz Saeed, a Pakistani militant accused by India of being behind the 2008 attack on Mumbai in which 166 people died.

Delhi police circulated the fake tweet at the weekend in a warning to students "not to get carried away by such seditious and anti-national rhetoric". A spokesman did not answer calls to his mobile phone on Monday seeking comment.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's culture wars holding country back #caste, #colonialism, #Sedition . #JNU #dalitvirodhimodi #Modi #Facebook …

In just seven weeks, the new year seems to have become troublingly old for India. Three old issues with all their upsetting associations – caste, colonialism and potentially seditious dissent – are back on the news agenda. They’ve restarted some very unpleasant conversations and in such a corrosive way that there is a sense of a country deeply polarised and almost at war with itself.

In January, the suicide of a lower caste Hindu doctoral student triggered nationwide protests as well as knee-jerk official defensiveness. Last week, India’s rejection of Facebook’s free, basic internet service raised questions about the implications of its ingrained fear of foreign dominance. And a row over the right to public dissent is rumbling on. It started just days ago with a police crackdown on the campus of a leading university in the capital New Delhi.

All three events are linked in a way that goes beyond being newsworthy. They have the same pathology. All are deeply embedded in the Indian psyche, sickening the body politic and rendering debate unfit for purpose. It may be fair to say that the hold of these three issues has never really been meaningfully discussed with complete candour, in any way that would acknowledge the real difficulties of laying them to rest.

Consider the snowballing controversy over allegedly seditious activity, especially on university campuses. Last week, the head of the student union of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University was arrested for sedition, under a law that dates to British rule. This university is sometimes described as an Indian Berkeley, with a proud tradition of left-wing debate on a range of issues such as communalism, social marginalisation, market forces, nuclear disarmament and the role of religion in politics.

The student leader’s alleged offence was to organise a protest against the hanging three years ago of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist who was convicted and put to the death over a 2001 plot to attack India’s parliament. Guru always denied plotting the attack and his execution triggered protests in Jammu and Kashmir.
Some Indian commentators criticised the government’s response as “disproportionate” and far more insidious than an attempt to crush dissent; it “wants to crush thinking”. JNU research scholar Saib Bilaval wrote that it was “the othering of liberalism”, making it “unpatriotic” to profess liberal views. Students on other campuses have since spoken up about the right to free expression and an editorial headlined “Do not disagree” in the Indian Express newspaper thundered that the message of the JNU arrest sits uneasily with India’s overwhelmingly youthful demographic.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of sedition cases pointing to lower tolerance of dissent. More damagingly, it indicates an incomplete examination of the nature and mechanics of nation-building. In the 69th year of its independence from British rule, some might justifiably say that India seems less confident about the limits – and merits – of democratic criticism and the role this plays in citizens’ compact with the state. The JNU row will subside, but the issue won’t go away.

Finally, colonialism. There are differing views worldwide on net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source. But when Indian regulators banned Facebook’s “Free Basics”, a programme controversially providing free mobile internet in poor countries, it was hard not to see it as a sign of a general anxiety about unfair foreign competition with the intention to dominate.

Software billionaire Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Bangalore-based IT group Infosys, recently admitted as much. “There is this real rising fear in India about digital colonialism,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News: #India caste violence: 10 million without water in #Delhi as protesters damage water supply canal #Haryana …

More than 10 million people in India's capital, Delhi, are without water after protesters sabotaged a key canal which supplies much of the city.
The army took control of the Munak canal after Jat community protesters, angry at caste job quotas, seized it.
Keshav Chandra, head of Delhi's water board, told the BBC it would take "three to four days" before normal supplies resumed to affected areas.
All Delhi's schools have been closed because of the water crisis.
Sixteen people have been killed and hundreds hurt in three days of riots.
At the scene: Defiant India protesters stand ground in Haryana
Watch: What future for India's caste system?
Sixteen million people live in Delhi, and around three-fifths of the city's water is supplied by the canal, which runs through the neighbouring state of Haryana.
Mr Chandra said that prior warnings meant that people had managed to save water, and tankers had been despatched to affected areas of the city, but that this would not be enough to make up for the shortfall.
The army took control of parts of the canal on Monday morning, but repairs are expected to take time.
The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder, who is near Delhi's border with neighbouring Haryana state, said protesters who have set up road blocks are refusing to budge.
"We don't trust them. Let's get something in writing. Let them spell it out," one demonstrator who refused to be named told the BBC.

The land-owning Jat community is relatively affluent and has traditionally been seen as upper caste.
They are mainly based in Haryana and seven other states in northern India.
Comprising 27% of the voters in Haryana and dominating a third of the 90 state assembly seats, they are a politically influential community. Seven of the 10 chief ministers in Haryana have been Jats.
The Jats are currently listed as upper caste but the demonstrators have been demanding inclusion in caste quotas for jobs and education opportunities that have been available to lower castes since 1991.
In March 2014 the Congress-led national government said it would re-categorise Jats as Other Backward Castes (OBC), opening the way to government job quotas.
But India's Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the Jats were not a backward community.
As jobs have dried up in the private sector and farming incomes have declined, the community has demanded the reinstatement of their backward caste status to enable them to secure government jobs.

Riaz Haq said...

India has in recent weeks seen some of its most concerted protests because of caste. At least 18 people were killed and hundreds injured in violent protests by members of the Jat community who are unhappy about the caste quota system, as they say it puts them at a disadvantage in government jobs and at state-run educational institutes. The BBC explains the complexities of India's caste system.
India's caste system is among the world's oldest forms of surviving social stratification.
The system which divides Hindus into rigid hierarchical groups based on their karma (work) and dharma (the Hindi word for religion, but here it means duty) is generally accepted to be more than 3,000 years old.
How did caste come about?
Manusmriti, widely regarded to be the most important and authoritative book on Hindu law and dating back to at least 1,000 years before Christ was born, "acknowledges and justifies the caste system as the basis of order and regularity of society".
The caste system divides Hindus into four main categories - Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. Many believe that the groups originated from Brahma, the Hindu God of creation.
A priest sits in front of a Hindu templeImage copyrightAFP
At the top of the hierarchy were the Brahmins who were mainly teachers and intellectuals and are believed to have come from Brahma's head. Then came the Kshatriyas, or the warriors and rulers, supposedly from his arms. The third slot went to the Vaishyas, or the traders, who were created from his thighs. At the bottom of the heap were the Shudras, who came from Brahma's feet and did all the menial jobs.
The main castes were further divided into about 3,000 castes and 25,000 sub-castes, each based on their specific occupation.
Outside of this Hindu caste system were the achhoots - the Dalits or the untouchables.
How does caste work?
For centuries, caste dictated almost every aspect of Hindu religious and social life, with each group occupying a specific place in this complex hierarchy.
Rural communities were long arranged on the basis of castes - the upper and lower castes almost always lived in segregated colonies, the water wells were not shared, Brahmins would not accept food or drink from the Shudras, and one could marry only within one's caste.
Devotees pour milk on to a shiva lingamImage copyrightAFP
Image caption
India's caste system is among the world's oldest forms of social stratification surviving to this day
Traditionally, the system bestowed many privileges on the upper castes while sanctioning repression of the lower castes by privileged groups.
Often criticised for being unjust and regressive, it remained virtually unchanged for centuries, trapping people into fixed social orders from which it was impossible to escape. Despite the obstacles, however, some Dalits and other low-caste Indians, such as BR Ambedkar who authored the Indian constitution, and KR Narayanan who became the nation's president, have risen to hold prestigious positions in the country.
Is the system legal?
Independent India's constitution banned discrimination on the basis of caste, and, in an attempt to correct historical injustices and provide a level playing field to the traditionally disadvantaged, the authorities announced quotas in government jobs and educational institutions for scheduled castes and tribes, the lowest in the caste hierarchy, in 1950.

Riaz Haq said...

In #India One Case Of Anti #Christian #Violence Every Day | Pray | Open Doors USA. #Modi #BJP #Hindu #Bigotry …

Attacks on Christians in India were reported on an almost daily basis in 2015, according to a Christian advocacy group.

“The country saw 355 incidents of violence, including 200 major incidents, during the last year,” Joseph Dias, convener of Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum, told World Watch Monitor. The forum’s report, released on Jan. 18, concluded that it is “not safe” to be a Christian in India.

The group reports that seven pastors were killed, several nuns were raped and hundreds of Christians were arrested under India’s anti-conversions laws. The report was released as 12 people, including a blind couple and their three-year-old son, were arrested in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh, under the state’s anti-conversion law, which forbids conversions through “allurement” or “force.” Seven of those arrested, including the blind couple, were released from custody on January 17, according to local pastor Suresh Mandlo.

Dias blamed the increase in incidents against Christians on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP.

“The rise of the BJP has emboldened the [Hindu nationalist] fringe groups,” he said. “They feel that they can treat the Christians as soft targets under BJP's patronage and protection.”

“Even the government is acting in a partisan manner,” added Dias, relating two recent high-profile cases involving foreign clerics.

In the first case, Sister Bertilla Capra, an Italian Catholic nun who had been working with leprosy victims for four decades, was denied the renewal of her visa. Then, authorities at the Chennai International Airport detained and subsequently deported Hegumen Seraphim, a Russian Orthodox priest.

The Russian embassy said the treatment of the priest, who was detained at the airport for seven hours and denied food, was “unacceptable.” The embassy’s statement added that, “Such disrespect, shown to a priest from a friendly country, goes against the spirit of mutual affinity and cooperation characteristic of Russian-Indian relationships.”

According to Dias, “all these incidents point to an organized targeting of Christians at different levels.” He added that “The hate speech is turning worse and the conversion rhetoric of the saffron family [Hindu fundamentalists] is vitiating the atmosphere and paving the way for atrocities,” he added.

Just days before the Catholic Secular Forum issued its report, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, claimed it had recently undertaken mass re-conversions of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism. Praveen Togadia, the VHP’s international working president, reported on Jan. 8 that the VHP had reconverted more than 500,000 Christians and 250,000 Muslims in the last decade with its Ghar Wapsi, or homecoming, initiative. Two days later, VHP national general secretary Y. Raghavulu claimed that 800,000 Hindus were being converted to other faiths every year in India.

“The [VHP] claim to have converted Christians and Muslims to Hinduism is just to enthuse their cadres. Both [statements] are blatantly aggressive instances of hate to provoke violence,” Christian activist John Dayal told World Watch Monitor. “The statistics are products of feverish minds and a bankrupt ideology. Their real purpose is political—to arouse passions, sharpen polarization and target religious minorities, and especially the Christian community.”

Hindu fundamentalists, Dayal added, “want to criminalize Christian presence and social work as a conversion conspiracy by Western powers.”

Riaz Haq said...

Is Reading An #Urdu Book In #India's #Delhi Metro A Crime? "In haramiyon ko seedha #Pakistan bhejo" … via @ScoopWhoop

Reading in the metro, especially if you manage to find yourself a seat, is such a pleasure. But, thanks to the volatile environment we are currently living in, a person (of an unknown gender) had the most unpleasant experience ever. Why? Because he/she was allegedly 'caught' reading a booklet of the recently concluded Jashn-e-Rekhta festival which happened to be in Urdu.

Riaz Haq said...

#Dalit family beaten up for accidentally touching #Brahmin man in #India #BJP via @timesofindia #dalitilivesmatter

he curse of untouchability still have deep roots in the country, a truth which can be gauged from the fact, that an entire family of a dalit was beaten with sticks and kicked just because one of the family members accidentally touched the hands of a Brahmin man.
The incident was reported in the remote village of Kyuri village of Pinhat area on Friday afternoon, when a Valmiki family was engaged in a marriage ceremony.
According to Vineeta, a victim of the incident said, "My younger son Sonu had gone to a sweet shop owned by a Brahmin man named Anil Sharma. While giving the payment for the sweets, Sonu accidently touched the hand of Sharma, on which he got infuriated and thrashed my son."
"When Sonu returned home with bruises, he narrated the entire event after which I along with group of women went to sweet shop to protest against the cruelty on mere touching the hand. Later, Anil along with some few more men came to our house and attacked us with wooden sticks. They didn't spare even a pregnant women, who had come to attend marriage ceremony," she claimed. "They kicked her womb after which our family members took her to hospital," she alleged.
As per sources, in the incident, Rekha the pregnant woman, Sonu and his father Hotilal were injured.

Riaz Haq said...

A nationalism unique to #India. #Modi government demands oath of allegiance only from #Muslim #Urdu writers. …

The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language under Smriti Irani is asking Urdu writers to sign forms which have the following declaration: “I ___ son/daughter of ___ confirm that my book/magazine titled ___ which has been approved for bulk purchase by NCPUL’s monetary assistance scheme does not contain anything against the policies of the government of India or the interest of the nation, does not cause disharmony of any sort between different classes of the country, and is not monetarily supported by any government or non-government institution.”

A Muslim legislator has been suspended in Maharashtra for saying he prefers “Jai Hind” (victory to India) to “Bharat Mata ki jai” (victory to mother India). What the difference between these two declarations is, I am not really sure, but it is enough to merit punishment. On March 19 came a report that Urdu writers have been asked to guarantee they are not writing anti-India material.

In today’s India, on the other hand, our ‘nationalism’ is not against another nation. It is against other Indians. This is why it is different. Our great Indian nationalists are rousing passions against their own people, not against another nation. Our fraud nationalists go after their own citizens for their religion, or for their views. Their concern and passion is the enemy within. That is not love of nation. It is hatred and bitterness. Persecution of Indian Muslims and Indian dalits is not nationalism. This word we use so easily as an accusation, ‘anti-national’, is not really current in European languages. Only primitive peoples, like Indians, use it. It means opposition to the things a nation stands for. But who is to decide what positive nationalism is? Other than saying Bharat Mata ki jai, I do not really know what Indian nationalism is.

Jawaharlal Nehru University has been organising open lectures on nationalism. This is available on videos that is accessible to the lay person. This is a noble effort but I am afraid that it will be wasted on Indians. It does not matter how terribly you behave, as long as you loudly say Bharat Mata ki jai, you are a nationalist in India.

Yet, another story in the papers is about two Muslims, one of them a child of 15, tortured and lynched from a tree, just like African-Amercians in the United States. They were herding buffaloes so it is not clear what their crime was. But it is absolutely certain where the hatred was stirred up.Is this making the government pause? Not at all. The BJP national executive is meeting over this weekend and it is calling for yet more “nationalism”. Haven’t we had enough of that already?

Do the people in the BJP know what effect this has on India’s reputation as a civilised society? Pick up any foreign paper or magazine and most of the news about India is negative. Why? Because, as many of us have concluded, avoidable incidents of similar nature are coming with such regularity that it is not easy to escape the suspicion that these things are deliberate.

For those hate-filled, fraud nationalists here, achche din have arrived.

Riaz Haq said...

#India "riddled with inequality" says NY Times' Somini Sengupta in "End of Karma" #caste …

In November 1949, India had been independent for slightly more than two years, and through that duration, a drafting committee labored to devise a constitution for the new nation. The work was nearly finished, but critics grumbled about how long it had taken; one pundit thought the panel ought to have been called the “drifting committee.” B. R. Ambedkar, the Columbia-educated lawyer heading the group, defended his colleagues. Their task was difficult. The constitution incorporated 395 articles and 2,473 amendments, a density that reflected India’s complications — its iniquities of caste, its poverty, its various languages and faiths. India already had political democracy (one vote per citizen), but the constitution also needed to foster social democracy. “How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life?” Ambedkar said in a speech. “We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment, or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political ­democracy.”

The lives of India’s poor and its lowest castes have improved in many ways, but the country remains riddled with inequality; in fact, over the last 35 years the gulf between the wealthiest and the most impoverished has widened. In “The End of Karma,” Somini Sengupta delivers a portentous warning that echoes Ambedkar’s, updated for the present. A quarter of India’s 1.25 billion people are younger than 15; every month, until 2030, nearly a million Indians will turn 18, raring for more education and employment prospects. The size and energy of such a work force is a nation’s dream — the celebrated “demographic dividend.” But the state’s failure to supply these young people with schools, universities and jobs, and to help them climb into prosperity, will tug India into perilous waters, Sengupta writes. “In the coming years, India can thrive because of its young. Or it can implode. Or both. There’s little time left.”

“The End of Karma” shifts in and out of three modes of narrative. The weakest involves Sengupta’s recollections of a childhood in India and North America, as well as her decision, during the stint in New Delhi, to adopt a baby girl. Her interest in India’s youth, she suggests, was quickened by this entry into her life by her daughter, a bona fide member of these restless generations, a unit of India’s demographic dividend. But much of this feels tenuous, the sort of material an editor commonly asks for, reproaching a writer because her manuscript is Not Personal Enough. The book’s second mode is expository — summations of news, history and statistics, which Sengupta delivers in cool, swift language. Two pages about Laloo Prasad Yadav, a powerful politician in the state of Bihar, are a marvel of economy, laying bare his background, his machinery of caste politics, his wrecking of Bihar, and his folksy charisma.

In the book’s most vibrant sections, Sengupta profiles seven young Indians, shadowing some of them over years. All grew up in poor or lower-middle-class homes — the socioeconomic brackets that hold a majority of India’s populace — and their lives illustrate the ways in which the state is failing its youth.

Riaz Haq said...

Shocking video of two naked ‘#Dalit women’ in #India beaten by ‘upper caste’ women goes viral. #Modi … via @drambedkar

A shocking video of two ‘Dalit women’ being subjected to merciless thrashing and public humiliation allegedly women from upper caste has gone viral on social media platforms.

The video is so graphic in nature that we at have decided not to broadcast here because of poor taste and decency issue.

In the two naked ‘Dalit women’ can be seen lying in water while two women are constantly thrashing them.

We don’t know where the incident took place and what the reason for their public humiliation was. But nothing will ever justify the humiliation meted out to the victims.

What’s worse is that they are being surrounded by a group of men with most of them busy filming the incident.

Source :

Riaz Haq said...

Stanford scholar Audrey Truschke on #Muslim rule in #India: #Mughal rulers were not hostile to #Hindus via @Stanford

Truschke, one of the few living scholars with competence in both Sanskrit and Persian, is the first scholar to study texts from both languages in exploring the courtly life of the Mughals. The Mughals ruled a great swath of the Indian subcontinent from the early 16th to the mid-18th centuries, building great monuments like the Taj Mahal.

Over several months in Pakistan and 10 months in India, Truschke traveled to more than two dozen archives in search of manuscripts. She was able to analyze the Mughal elite's diverse interactions with Sanskrit intellectuals in a way not previously done.

She has accessed, for example, six histories that follow Jain monks at the Mughal court as they accompanied Mughal kings on expeditions, engaged in philosophical and religious debates, and lived under the empire's rule. These works collectively run to several thousand pages, and none have been translated into English.

Truschke found that high-level contact between learned Muslims and Hindus was marked by collaborative encounters across linguistic and religious lines.

She said her research overturns the assumption that the Mughals were hostile to traditional Indian literature or knowledge systems. In fact, her findings reveal how Mughals supported and engaged with Indian thinkers and ideas.

Early modern-era Muslims were in fact "deeply interested in traditional Indian learning, which is largely housed in Sanskrit," says Truschke, who is teaching religion courses at Stanford through 2016 in association with her fellowship.

Hybrid political identity
Truschke's book focuses on histories and poetry detailing interactions among Mughal elites and intellectuals of the Brahmin (Hindu) and Jain religious groups, particularly during the height of Mughal power from 1560 through 1650.

As Truschke discovered, the Mughal courts in fact sought to engage with Indian culture. They created Persian translations of Sanskrit works, especially those they perceived as histories, such as the two great Sanskrit epics.

For their part, upper-caste Hindus known as Brahmins and members of the Jain tradition – one of India's most ancient religions – became influential members of the Mughal court, composed Sanskrit works for Mughal readers and wrote about their imperial experiences.

"The Mughals held onto power in part through force, just like any other empire," Truschke acknowledges, "but you have to be careful about attributing that aggression to religious motivations." The empire her research uncovers was not intent on turning India into an Islamic state.

"The Mughal elite poured immense energy into drawing Sanskrit thinkers to their courts, adopting and adapting Sanskrit-based practices, translating dozens of Sanskrit texts into Persian and composing Persian accounts of Indian philosophy."

Such study of Hindu histories, philosophies and religious stories helped the Persian-speaking imperialists forge a new hybrid political identity, she asserts.

Truschke is working on her next book, a study of Sanskrit histories of Islamic dynasties in India more broadly.

Indian history, especially during Islamic rule, she says, is very much alive and debated today. Moreover, a deliberate misreading of this past "undergirds the actions of the modern Indian nation-state," she asserts.

And at a time of conflict between the Indian state and its Muslim population, Truschke says, "It's invaluable to have a more informed understanding of that history and the deep mutual interest of early modern Hindus and Muslims in one another's traditions."

- See more at:

Riaz Haq said...

Tarek Fatah, who's received a lot of adulation by the Indian Hindu diaspora and been an honored guest Hindu Nationalists in India, called for dissolution of India in an interview a few years ago:

Tarek Fateh calls for dissolution of India into multiple nations

"India, the whole sub-continent, you see it was never been one country....even during the British, India has not been one country under Ashoka, not even under Aurangzeb

The future that I see, if I had my dreams come true, something like Europe, the entities that exist are Bengal. Punjab with no borders, common currency,

there's more in common between someone in Lahore and Delhi than between someone between Delhi and Madras.

Break-up of India, that's my analysis of what will happen in the future, if it's ever dissolved voluntarily, would be best thing to happen to India, like Europe has.

Riaz Haq said...

#Africans in #India face constant battles with #racism | Fox News |

The daily indignities Africans suffer usually go undocumented both by the police and local media.

That changed on May 20, when Congolese student Masunda Kitada Oliver was fatally attacked in a dispute over hiring an autorickshaw in New Delhi. Three men who insisted they had hired the vehicle beat him up and hit him on the head with a rock, killing him, according to police.

The death made the city's African students, diplomats and business owners rally together demanding quick justice. The African Heads of Mission in New Delhi issued a statement asking the government to address "racism and Afro-phobia" in the country.

"Given the pervading climate of fear and insecurity in Delhi, the African Heads of Mission are left with little option than to consider recommending to their governments not to send new students to India, unless and until their safety can be guaranteed," the statement said.

The killing and the outrage it sparked drew an unusually prompt reaction from local police and India's foreign ministry. Two men suspected in the attack were arrested within a day, while a third remains at large.

Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that her ministry asked for "stringent action against the culprits." But the ministry also said all criminal acts involving Africans should not be seen as racial in nature.

The bad press the country got as a result of the killing prompted India's glacial government machinery to move quickly to try to address the issue.

An India-Africa art exhibition was cobbled together at government expense and on short notice. A protest planned by African students in the Indian capital was put off after government officials reached out to African student groups.

The police and government began holding workshops in neighborhoods across the city to try to sensitize local residents about their African neighbors.

There were other well publicized examples of anti-African prejudice in India before Oliver's death.

In February, a Tanzanian woman was beaten and stripped naked by a mob in the southern city of Bangalore after a Sudanese student's car hit an Indian woman. In September 2014, a video of three African men being beaten inside a security booth at a New Delhi Metro station went viral. For several minutes a large mob beat the men with bare hands and sticks and shoes as they climbed up the walls of the glass booth in terror. The police were absent.

These incidents made it to the local newspapers. Hundreds more do not.

Prejudice is open in India. The matrimonial columns of the newspaper are strictly segregated along caste lines. Landlords in cities like Delhi and Mumbai deny homes to people based on race and religion.

Indians from northeastern India, who look different because of their Asian features, are routinely harassed and have to endure being called names on the streets.

But the worst kind of discrimination is reserved for the Africans. In a country obsessed with fair skin and skin lightening beauty treatments, their dark skin draws a mixture of fear and ridicule.

Landlords shun Africans in all but the poorest neighborhoods, and in those they are charged unusually high rent. African students in the New Delhi neighborhood of Chhatarapur reported paying 15,000 rupees ($225) a month for a single room and bathroom that would normally rent for 6,000 to 7,000 rupees.

Strangers point at them and laugh — or gang up and assault them.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #India #Dalit couple hacked to death over minuscule debt

A man from India's Dalit community has been beheaded and his wife hacked to death after a row over a 15 rupees (22 cents; 16 pence) debt in Uttar Pradesh state.
Police said the couple were murdered by an upper caste grocer on Thursday when they told him they needed time to pay for biscuits they had bought from him.
The grocer has been arrested.
Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, form the lowest rung of India's caste hierarchy.
Police told the Press Trust of India news agency the incident took place in Mainpuri district early on Thursday as the couple were on their way to work.
They were stopped by Ashok Mishra, the owner of a village grocery, who demanded that the couple pay the money for three packets of biscuits that they had bought for their three children a few days ago, reports say.
The couple reportedly told him they would pay after they received their daily wages later in the evening.
"While Mishra kept shouting for the money, the couple started walking towards the fields. Mishra then ran to his house nearby and returned with an axe. He hacked Bharat repeatedly and then attacked Mamta who was trying to rescue her husband. The couple died on the spot," Nadeem, a local villager, told The Indian Express newspaper.
The Dalit community in the village have blocked roads and protested over the incident.
Earlier this month four low-caste Dalit men were assaulted by cow protection vigilantes while trying to skin a dead cow in western Gujarat state.
Many Hindus consider cows sacred and the slaughter of the animal is banned in many Indian states.
In March, a Dalit man was murdered for marrying a woman from a higher caste in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
The woman's father handed himself in and admitted to carrying out the attack on a busy road in daylight, police said.

Riaz Haq said...

The Incendiary Appeal of Demagoguery in Our Time. #Trump #Modi #Bigotry

The stink first became unmistakable in India in May 2014, when Narendra Modi, a member of an alt-right Hindu organization inspired by fascists and Nazis, was elected prime minister. Like Donald Trump, Mr. Modi rose to power demonizing ethnic-religious minorities, immigrants and the establishment media, and boasting about the size of a body part.

To paraphrase Jean-Paul Sartre: If the truth remains cloaked in the motherland, in the colonies it stands naked. Before Mr. Trump’s election in America exposed the failures of democracy, they had been revealed in Mr. Modi’s India. Most disturbing, in both places, the alt-rightists were enabled by the conceits, follies and collusion of impeccably mainstream individuals and institutions.

Arguments over what precisely is to blame for Mr. Trump’s apotheosis — inequality, callous globalized elites, corruptible local legislators, zealous ideologues, a news media either toxic or complaisant — will only intensify in the coming months. Writers as various as George Packer and Thomas Frank have already identified as a culprit a professional class of bankers, lawyers, technocrats and pundits. Promoting free trade and financial deregulation around the globe, the Washington Consensus eventually produced too many victims in Washington’s own hinterland.

In the case of India, the role of institutional rot — venal legislators, a mendacious media — and the elites’ moral and intellectual truancy is clear. To see it one only has to remember that Mr. Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014, was accused of supervising mass murder and gang rapes of Muslims — and consequently was barred from travel to the United States for nearly a decade — and that none of that prevented him from being elected to India’s highest office.

Mr. Modi’s ascent, like that of many demagogues today, was preordained by the garish dreams of power, wealth and glory that colonized many minds in the age of globalization. Americans are, as Mr. Frank writes, “a population brought up expecting to enjoy life in what it is often told is the richest country in the world.” In India, one of the poorest countries in the world, “the tutelage of a distant and self-satisfied elite” — to borrow from Ross Douthat, describing America — spawned a much more extravagant sense of entitlement. In that elite’s phantasmagoria, the India that embraced deregulation and privatization was a “roaring capitalist success story,” according to a 2006 cover of Foreign Affairs magazine.

The narrative went something like this: Now that the government was getting out of the way of buoyant entrepreneurs, a rising tide was lifting the boats of all Indians aspiring to the richness of the world. Suave technocrats, economists and publicists (mostly U.S.-trained) endlessly regurgitated free-market nostrums (imported from America) — what Mr. Frank calls the “liberalism of the rich.”

The fervent rhetoric about private wealth-creation and its trickle-down benefits openly mocked, and eventually stigmatized, India’s founding ideals of egalitarian and collective welfare. It is this extraordinary historical reversal, and its slick agents, that must be investigated in order to understand the incendiary appeal of demagoguery in our time.

Riaz Haq said...

Permitting Exclusive #Brahmin-Only Housing Development in #Bangalore, #India Reinforces #Hindu #Caste #Apartheid

A township strictly meant for Brahmins claims to revive the “lost traditions” of the Brahmin community. The architecture, the lifestyle and culture will ensure a “Brahmanic way of life.”
Welcome to The Vedic Village- Shankar Agraharam, a ‘Brahmin only’ housing project that was planned in the outskirts of Bengaluru in 2013.
With the launch of the township, national and international media picked up the story and reported the disturbing trend of ‘segregated housing’ and ‘housing apartheid’ in India. A group of activist lawyers wrote to the state government and human rights commission to immediately scrap the project because it promoted caste-discrimination.

Three years down the lane, Vedic Village is nearing completion and has received the ‘proud’ approval of the Department of Town and Country planning in Karnataka. Project managers even claim to have sold 900 units of the planned 1800 in the integrated township.

The Sanathana Dharma Parirakshana Trust that is funding and developing the project is backed by the Brahmin community. The trust believes in:
emancipation of the living conditions of the Brahmin community and to closely work towards creating a liveable environment, and assets for the future generation of the community. Source:
The housing project is not open to non-brahmins, but that isn’t the only problem with the project. The website and the brochures repeatedly emphasise that it is a township for the ‘superior’.
Our plots are clearly earmarked for Brahmins only…Our motto, to give the highest to the highest in all respects. Source:

Riaz Haq said...

What is Hindutva?

Savarkar wrote, “... Hindutva is not identical with what is vaguely indicated by the term Hinduism. By an ‘ism’ it is generally meant a theory or a code more or less based on spiritual or religious dogma or system. But when we attempt to investigate the essential significance of Hindutva we do not primarily — and certainly not mainly — concern ourselves with any particular theocratic or religious dogma or creed”. His concern was politics; the political mobilisation of Hindus into one nation.

If not religion, what, then, is the basis for the divide? With crystal clarity, he wrote, “To every Hindu … this Sindhusthan is at once a pitribhu and a punyabhu — fatherland and a holy land. That is why in the case of some of our ... countrymen, who had originally been forcibly converted to a non-Hindu religion and who consequently have inherited along with Hindus, a common fatherland and a greater part of the wealth of a common culture — language, law, customs, folklore and history — are not and cannot be recognised as Hindus. For though Hindusthan to them is fatherland as to any other Hindu yet it is not to them a holy land too. Their holy land is far off in Arabia or Palestine. Their mythology and god-men, ideas and heroes are not the children of this soil. Consequently their name and their outlook smack of a foreign origin”.

The divide cannot be bridged except by obeying Hindutva’s demand for conversion to Hinduism. Savarkar exhorted, “Ye, who by race, by blood, by culture, by nationality possess almost all the essentials of Hindutva and had been forcibly snatched out of our ancestral home by the hand of violence — ye, have only to render wholehearted love to our common mother and recognise her not only as fatherland (Pitribhu) but even as a holy land (Punyabhu), and ye would be most welcome to the Hindu fold”.

Gandhi’s assassination put paid to Savarkar’s ambitions, but the RSS picked up the baton. Its supremo, M.S. Golwalkar, drew inspiration from Hindutva and coined its synonym, ‘cultural nationalism’, in contrast to ‘territorial nationalism’ in his book, A Bunch of Thoughts (1968). Everyone born within the territory of India is not a nationalist; the nation is defined by a common ‘culture’ (read: religion).

Golwalkar wrote, “... here was already a full-fledged ancient nation of the Hindus and the various communities which were living in the country were here either as guests, the Jews and Parsis, or as invaders, the Muslims and Christians. They never faced the question how all such heterogeneous groups could be called as children of the soil merely because, by an accident, they happened to reside in common territory under the rule of a common enemy … The theories of territorial nationalism and of common danger, which formed the basis for our concept of nation, had deprived us of the positive and inspiring content of our real Hindu nationhood ...”

This explains the RSS’ ghar wapsi (‘return to your home’) campaign, simply a repeat of the past shuddhi (‘purification’) movement. Nothing has changed; an unbroken ideological thread binds Savarkar’s Hindutva, Golwalkar’s ‘cultural nationalism’ and the RSS-BJP policies today. On Sept 24, 1990, BJP president L.K. Advani launched “a crusade in defence of Hindutva”, which culminated in the demolition of Babri Masjid, in his presence, on Dec 6, 1992.

Since 1996, the BJP’s election manifestoes for Lok Sabha elections pledge to espouse Hindutva in these terms: “The cultural nationalism of India … is the core of Hindutva.” This explains the Modi government’s systematic purge of educational and cultural institutions. It is a quarrel with history. As scholars Susanne and Lloyd Rudolph remarked, modern hatreds are supported by ancient, remembered wrongs, whether real or imagined. The RSS-BJP combine rejects the concept of composite culture that Jawaharlal Nehru and others propounded.

Riaz Haq said...

#Caste Battles Threaten #India’s Grand #Hindu Coalition. #BJP #Modi #UP #Dalit #Rajput

The violence erupted after one April afternoon, when the Dalits in Shabirpur, a village in Uttar Pradesh, about 115 miles from New Delhi, were celebrating the birth anniversary of Bhim Rao Ambedkar, their greatest leader and an architect of the Indian Constitution.

Mr. Ambedkar was instrumental in abolishing untouchability, criminalizing caste discrimination and violence in independent India, and enshrining a system of affirmative action in the Indian laws.

On Mr. Ambedkar’s anniversary millions of Dalits honor him by garlanding his statues, which reproduce an iconic image of the bookish messiah: Mr. Ambedkar wearing a pair of rectangular glasses over a blue three-piece suit, a copy of the Indian Constitution in his left hand, the index finger of his right hand pointing at a distant horizon. For centuries before independence, the Dalits could barely clothe themselves. Mr. Ambedkar’s suit became a negation of that oppression, a symbol of dignity and aspiration.

The upper castes resent the defiant and proud Ambedkar imagery. As the Dalits celebrated in Shabirpur, the Uttar Pradesh village, their upper-caste Rajput neighbors stopped them from installing a statue of Mr. Ambedkar in their temple. They objected that the outstretched index finger of the statue would point toward upper-caste women who would walk past it.

In recent years, to counterbalance the Ambedkar celebrations, the upper castes, especially the Rajputs, began celebrating Rana Pratap, a medieval Hindu Rajput king, who fought several battles against the Mughal Empire, as an ideal Rajput and Hindu nationalistic icon.

Indian festival celebrations often come with processions of believers through public spaces. In polarized regions, they often become occasions for violence between different religious or caste groups.

A few weeks after the Rajputs in Shabirpur village objected to Mr. Ambedkar’s statue, they set out in a procession to celebrate the Rajput king Rana Pratap’s anniversary in an adjacent village. The Rajputs played overtly loud music. The Dalits objected. An argument turned into a violent clash. One Rajput man was killed and more than 20 Dalits and Rajputs were injured. More than 25 Dalit homes were set on fire.

Such violence spells trouble for the Hindu nationalist project. Leaders of India’s Hindu nationalist movement had figured early on that caste antagonism prevented a grand Hindu consolidation. They campaigned for social reforms and for allowing Dalits entry to temples, and promoted shared meals between the upper castes and lower castes, but caste prejudice was deeply entrenched among their followers and change remained superficial. Despite their efforts, the Bharatiya Janata Party and its affiliate groups were always identified with the upper castes.

Marginalized communities in India have their own internal hierarchies. Over the past decade and a half, the B.J.P. developed a new strategy of playing on their internal differences and fragmenting Dalits and other lower castes into smaller, political groups and enlisting the breakaway units into their ambit.


Large sections of Dalits voted for Mr. Modi in 2014 and again for his party in March 2017 state elections in Uttar Pradesh because of the absence of a pan-Indian Dalit political identity. But if upper castes continue violent attacks on Dalits irrespective of their sub-castes, it will force consolidation among them.

Recent caste violence has shown that India’s Hindu nationalists are struggling with the challenges of caste. And it will be the eventual hurdle to permanent Hindu consolidation and their continued electoral dominance.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #India #Dalit man killed 'for watching #Hindu celebration' #caste #Apartheid

A Dalit (formerly untouchable) man was beaten to death in the western Indian state of Gujarat allegedly for watching people dance as they celebrated the Hindu festival of Dussehra.
Eight men have been arrested for attacking the 21-year-old on Sunday, police told BBC Gujarati.
Some Dalits were beaten up for sporting moustaches in the state last week.
Despite laws to protect them, discrimination remains a daily reality for India's 200 million Dalits.
The victim, identified as Jayesh Solanki was watching a performance of Garba, a traditional dance, with his cousins, when a man approached them, according to the police complaint lodged by Mr Solanki's cousin, Prakash.

"He told us how dare you come here," Mr Solanki alleged in the complaint. "We told him that we came to watch the Garba because our sisters and daughters were participating. But he started abusing us."

The complaint goes on to say the man left and returned with seven others, one of whom slapped Prakash. When Mr Solanki tried to intervene, he was dragged away and beaten.
The men allegedly flung him against a wall causing him to lose consciousness. But they continued to beat him, according to the complainant.
Mr Solanki was taken to hospital but he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Police said they have also provided security to Mr Solanki's family who fear they might be attacked by upper caste men for pursing a case against the accused.
Dalits have traditionally been at the bottom of the Hindu caste system. They have been subjugated by the higher castes for centuries.

Riaz Haq said...

Watch an "untouchable" woman from India tell her story

Sujatha Gidla was part of the lowest class in India's social hierarchy -- the untouchables. When she left India for the United States, she was finally free of caste, but the psychological toll left her feeling inferior for years.

Riaz Haq said...

‘Tell Everyone We Scalped You!’ How #Caste Still Rules in #India.The crimes are happening across the country and #Dalits are not simply killed: They are humiliated, tortured, disfigured, destroyed. #Modi #BJP #Apartheid

When Sardar Singh Jatav set out walking on a muggy night in early September to talk with the men who employed his son, he found them already waiting for him in the road. But they were not in the mood for discussion.

The higher-caste men greeted Mr. Sardar with a punch to the face. Then they broke his arm. Then they pinned him down. Mr. Sardar shrieked for help. Nobody came.

One higher-caste man stuffed a rag in his mouth. Another gleefully pulled out a razor. He grabbed Mr. Sardar’s scalp and began to lift and cut, lift and cut, carving off nearly every inch of skin.

“Take that!” Mr. Sardar remembers them saying. “Tell everyone we scalped you!”

Mr. Sardar is a Dalit, a class of Indians who are not just considered lower caste, but technically outcaste — what used to be called untouchable. Bound at the bottom of India’s Hindu society for centuries, the Dalit population, now estimated at more than 300 million, has been abused for as long as anyone can remember.

And now, according to crime statistics, the violence against them is rising.

This might seem surprising against the new narrative India is writing. So much has changed. Millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. The Indian economy is now one of the world’s biggest. Everywhere in the country, there are new roads, new airports, new infrastructure.

But in many places, especially in poorer rural areas, caste infrastructure is still the one that counts. And those who rebel against it, like Mr. Sardar, are often greeted with unchecked brutality.

It is violence intended to send a message, pain inflicted to maintain India’s old social order. The crimes are happening across the country and Dalits are not simply killed: They are humiliated, tortured, disfigured, destroyed.

“We have a mental illness,” said Avatthi Ramaiah, a sociology professor in Mumbai.

“You may talk about India being a world power, a global power, sending satellites into space,” he said. “But the outside world has an image of India they don’t know. As long as Hinduism is strong, caste will be strong, and as long as there is caste, there will be lower caste,” he added.

”The lower castes don’t have the critical numbers to counterattack,” he said. And the result has been violence that he described as “intimate, sadistic and cruel.”

In late October, a 14-year-old Dalit girl was beheaded by an upper-caste man whose wife said he hated the girl specifically because of her caste. A Dalit scavenger was tied up and fatally whipped outside a factory in May, in a beating captured on video and broadcast across India. In March, a Dalit man was killed by higher-caste men for riding a horse (traditionally, Dalits aren’t supposed to do that).

“Such incidents would not have happened in my childhood,” said Chandra Bhan Prasad, a well-known political commentator (and a Dalit). “In my childhood, a Dalit would not ride a horse. Before 1990, most Dalits worked for someone. Now they are paying a price for their freedom.”

For decades, India has struggled to de-weaponize caste. When the Constitution was being written in the late 1940s, intellectuals knew caste was a sore spot that needed to be urgently addressed. They included specific protections for Dalits, who make up about 15 to 20 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people.

Affirmative action programs, though they have generated deep resentments among upper castes, have helped some Dalits escape poverty. Today there are Dalit poets, doctors, civil service officers, engineers, and even a Dalit president, though it is mostly a ceremonial post.

Riaz Haq said...

#Bollywood Actress Esha Gupta exposes everyday #racism in #India by sharing conversation with her 3.4m Instagram followers mocking #Nigerian #soccer star, Alex Iwobi, as a "gorilla" and "Neanderthal" who "evolution had stopped for".

Up until Monday, Esha Gupta was just a Bollywood actress with a passion for Arsenal football club.

That changed after the actress decided to share a screengrab of a WhatsApp conversation in which a friend mocked the team's Nigerian star, Alex Iwobi, as a "gorilla" and "Neanderthal" who "evolution had stopped for".

"Hahaha," wrote the actress, who helped Arsenal unveil its 2017 away kit, as she shared the screengrab with her 3.4m Instagram followers.

The racist slurs - and the fact she thought it was funny - horrified many, and the backlash was unsurprisingly swift. How dare she call herself an Arsenal supporter, her fellow fans demanded.

Gupta apologised quickly, but the post hints at a long-known - but little acknowledged - problem of racism towards people of African descent in Indian society.

"Of course I'm not surprised by the post," Ezeugo Nnamdi told the BBC from Delhi, his home of five years.

In fact, the secretary-general of the Association of African Students in India (AASI) added that, as racial slurs go, her words were no worse than what fellow African students experienced on a daily basis - to their faces.

"Racism is not something which is very hidden here. It is something very open," he said. "People just look at you.

"They call you 'habshi' [a derogatory term], and a lot of other words and racial slurs.

"Here, you are regarded as a cannibal."

You don't have to look far to see examples of prejudice towards people of African descent in India: just look at how Bollywood treats its black characters.

Take, for example, the award-winning 2008 film Fashion, which told the tale of an aspiring model - played by Quantico actress Priyanka Chopra - who is caught in a downward spiral of drink and drugs.

But the moment she realises she has truly hit rock bottom is when she wakes up beside a black man. According to Dhruva Balram, the racial undertones of her realisation were clear.

"For Bollywood, as an aspiring model, the worst thing you can do is position yourself sexually next to a black person," he argued in an article for Media Diversified.

The article immediately resonated with Kadisha Phillips, an African-American New Yorker who spent a month in Bollywood during her degree. The racism she experienced left its mark - whether being ignored in a restaurant, or blocked from entering the school's campus by one of the guards.

"I could tell it was because of the colour of our skin," she recalled. "It was just easy to notice."

So were Gupta's messages just another example of the everyday racism experienced by black people in India?

It is fair to say the furore which surrounded the Instagram post failed to make as big a splash in India as it did in other parts of the world.

But why? That could be down to the fact it takes a more shocking incident to become a talking point.

It was one such incident back in 2016 - when a young Tanzanian woman was beaten and stripped by an angry mob - which inspired photographer Mahesh Shantaram to take a fresh look at his own country.

Endurance Amalawa was attacked by an angry mob in 2017
What he found, after spending months travelling around his own city, and then the country, meeting, speaking with and photographing black Africans, left him shocked.

"I was hearing things for the first time," he said. "Imagine someone telling you stories about your country that you think you know very well, but they tell you a very different story."

Riaz Haq said...

The Magsaysay award citation says, “An ancient vocal and instrumental musical system, Carnatic music started centuries ago in temples and courts but was subsequently ‘classicised’ to become the almost exclusive cultural preserve of the Brahmin caste — performed, organised and enjoyed by the elite who have access to it ... In electing Krishna to receive the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Award for emergent leadership, the board of trustees recognises his forceful commitment as artist and advocate to art’s power to heal India’s deep social divisions, breaking barriers of caste and class to unleash what music has to offer not just for some but for all.”


One of the world's biggest – and longest - festivals of classical music and dance begins in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state, this week but only a tiny percentage of the city's residents will enter the concert halls to listen or take part.

South Indian classical music, or Carnatic music, is dominated by performers, audiences and organizers from the Brahmin community that sits atop the country's caste hierarchy and accounts for less than 5% of Tamil Nadu's population. The proportion of Chennai made up of Brahmins is roughly the same.

"It is the most restrictive big festival in the world," said T.M. Krishna, a leading Chennai-based Brahmin vocalist, whose book “A Southern Music: The Karnatik Story,” critiques aspects of the art form. "There's no apartheid-like wall, but subliminal social barriers exist."

Although India's economy is rapidly modernizing, its society has been much slower to change. The centuries-old caste system continues to play an active role in many social spheres, such as marriage and even music. In Carnatic music, caste may not operate overtly, but the legacy of historical hierarchies persists and is in some cases becoming more entrenched.

The nearly 100-year-old festival includes 3,200 events at 75 venues run by 90

90 organizations called 'sabhas', with about 210 performers -- roughly 10% more than four years ago, according to Vikram Raghavan, a Carnatic vocalist who runs the website that tracks such data. The festival has no umbrella body or centralized database and the various organizations plan their schedules independently.

Popularly known as "the Chennai music season" it began in 1929 as a roughly week-long series of music concerts organized by The Music Academy, the most high-brow participant in the event, and has become longer over the years. Although it formally starts on Dec. 15, when the Academy inaugurates its two-week program, other

Riaz Haq said...

Meet 5 Contemporary #Indian Artists Challenging #India’s Still-Prevalent #Caste System. The insidious influence of the caste system has continues to silence and oppress large portions of society even today. #Modi #Hindutva #Dalit #Muslim #homegrown

“Art is the weapon / against life as a symptom / defend yourself ” – My Chemical Romance

The referenced band may seem a bit misplaced but the sentiment holds true in the political and social climate of India right now. There seems to be a wave of hysterics, bordering on manic jingoism that follows when any voice questions authority. Despite being quashed time and again, dissent continues through various mediums, often finding the right audience and spreading awareness through art.

Art has often been the most powerful and universally accessible tool for socio-political commentary and self-expression. A form of social activism in itself, it stirs civic consciousness, drawing attention to the current state of affairs. Although outlawed by the Indian Constitution, the insidious influence of the caste system has continued to silence and oppress large portions of society even today.

How many times have you spoken to someone that claims casteism doesn’t exist? They are perhaps the lucky, privileged few that are sheltered from such lived realities and rarely feel its presence in the country. But it is still very much ongoing and while many individuals might not be directly affected by, the truth is we, the middle, upper-middle and upper class educated individuals, also may be the only ones that can spark positive a change for the disenfranchised members of our society. Caste-based discrimination and violence are rampant and on the rise, and where media and news outlets have failed to provide a platform for those fighting against these archaic practices art has served as the new weapon of choice.

From paintings and comic strips to sculptural installations, today we look at just a few of the artworks that are calling out the government for its negligence in terms of taking action and providing protection; society for wearing blinkers and being unwittingly complicit. These are just some of the creations of those facing caste oppression as well as artists drawing attention to its history through the celebration of the unsung heroes we’ve all but forgotten today.

I. Savinder Sawarkar

Any conversation about art and caste politics would be incomplete without a mention of Savinder Sawarkar, popularly known as Savi. For years he has created a space for Dalit art in the modern Indian art sphere as well as galleries, not just across the country but the world over.

Savi’s work brings to the forefront difficult questions and painful realities of being a Dalit artist. His critique of the caste system is clear and it’s not just a simple victimisation that he portrays but cultural politics of a murky past and the unsettling present power dynamics that have dictated people’s lives and restrained growth and development almost like a chokehold. His aesthetics evoke these emotions in viewers and provide a sense of immediacy and urgency to situation.

2. Rajyashri Goody 3. PS Jaya, 4. Orijit Sen

Riaz Haq said...

#Hindutva attempt to enslave #India under #Hindu elite castes by @Swamy39 via #Sanskrit language. Myth being sold that Sanskrit was the language of #India and #Muslim invaders wiped it out. Fact: Sanskrit forbidden for common #Hindus. They spoke Prakrit.

The attempt to enslave India under Hindu elite castes continues. This time it is by shoving Sanskrit down the throats of upcoming generations so that those who know “most” about it (read priests) will once more be the final word on knowledge.

The myth being sold is that Sanskrit was the language of India and Muslim invaders wiped it out. I suppose the RSS has never heard of Sant Dnyaneshwar who wrote the Dnyaneshwari so that people could have access to the knowledge of the Bhagwad Gita in THEIR LANGUAGE which was Prakrit. Sanskrit was FORBIDDEN to them.

This is before the Muslim invasions, incidentally.

Sanskrit has been the barrier that firewalled the unwashed masses from power and knowledge recorded in it by the simple virtue of being forbidden to the masses. Its exclusiveness became its limitation.

Today there is hardly anyone other than priests who bothers with Sanskrit and the language continues to be the language of rituals conducted for the masses by the brahmans.

Now, as language is accessible to all, and the priests are left hoarding a coma while both power and knowledge proliferate in languages accessible to more people, the priests see this mythical Hindu Rashtra as an opportunity to reestablish the eroding supremacy. When the language they hoarded is no longer useful to the masses and on the verge of extinction, they impose it on the masses as their true language. Dnyaneshwar is laughing in his samadhi here.

First the upper classes used Sanskrit to hoard power, now use to regain power. Indian history is peppered with the persecution of great people for touching that holy cow Sanskrit without the “gate pass” of the Brahmin caste. When Brahmins held power, Sanskrit was hoarded and denied to the masses. The Brahmins teaching Sanskrit in the Pune Hindu college threatened to resign rather than teach Sanskrit to non-Brahmins. Now that Sanskrit is left hollow and of little practical use, its utility must be revived if the Brahmin is to be restored to supremacy. Those forbidden to use it will now be the slave labour engaged to revive it. Far from refusing it to non-Brahmins, it will now be repackaged as the true heritage of those it was denied to.

In my view, imposing an alien language on the people is a sign of colonization. Sanskrit is no longer forbidden to non-Brahmins. However, it also is no longer of interest to enough people for the removal of the ban to mean anything. Without popular adoption, Sanskrit will remain the language of mumbo jumbo rituals and the Brahmins who claim the knowledge of it will be left with a white elephant. So now the supremacists want to impose Sanskrit to restore wealth to their intellectual hoard, while people are led to believe that secrets of modern knowledge are hidden in the vedas. The masses that the language of snobs suppressed by denying Sanskrit will be the slave labour to restore it to its supremacist glory. Free! Free! Free!

The RSS are trying to invade India with a cold war on the majority of Indians who were never native adopters of Sanskrit. Nor were their ancestors. A history is being invented so that a country may be appropriated by citing it.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian #Dalit sisters found hanged in #rape case. Death of 2 sisters has provoked anger against CM #YogiAdityanath with accusations of running a lawless government in #UttarPradesh. Dalit #caste is at the bottom of a deeply discriminatory Hindu hierarchy.

Two teenage sisters have been found hanging from a tree in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in a suspected case of rape and murder.

Police said the bodies were found on Wednesday afternoon in Lakhimpur district. They have started an investigation after the family alleged the girls had been kidnapped and raped.

Six men have been arrested on charges of rape and murder.

The bodies have been sent for a post mortem examination, police said.

The girls, both below 18, belonged to the Dalit caste at the bottom of a deeply discriminatory Hindu hierarchy.

Despite constitutional protections, the community routinely faces prejudice and violence - a 2020 case involving the gang rape and murder of a 19-year Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras district sparked a public outcry, spotlighting how vulnerable Dalit women were.

A fatal assault, a cremation and no goodbye
This case too has triggered protests by locals and opposition parties.

Police said the girls knew the accused but the family denied this and said they were abducted.

Local media reported that the girls' mother said the pair had been taken by men on motorcycles. She says she was attacked when she tried to stop them.

The family said they began looking for the girls and eventually found them hanging from a tree.

District police chief Sanjeev Suman said the girls were taken to a sugarcane field where they were raped and strangled to death.

"The accused then hanged their bodies from the tree to make it look like suicide," Mr Suman added, according to NDTV channel.

One of the accused was arrested following a "police encounter" or a shoot-out when he was trying to escape, police said.

According to local media, the police met with some resistance when they went to the girls' home on Wednesday night, where locals had joined the family in protest.

There is deep suspicion of the police among the Dalit community. Authorities were accused of apathy and of protecting the upper caste accused following the assault in Hathras. The victim's family also alleged that she had been cremated without giving them a chance to say goodbye.

Uttar Pradesh, in Indian's north, is the country's most populated state with over 200 million people - and has a record of violence against women and Dalits.

Critics say that despite all the coverage and new anti-rape laws - there is no sign that crimes against women are abating in India.

The death of the two sisters has provoked anger against Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with opposition leaders accusing him of running a lawless government in Uttar Pradesh.

"In the Yogi government, goons are harassing mothers and sisters every day, very shameful. The government should get the matter investigated, the culprits should get the harshest punishment," Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party wrote on Twitter.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said that criminals in Uttar Pradesh had no fear because the government's "priorities are wrong".

Priyanka Gandhi from the Congress party also attacked Mr Adityanath and said that "giving false advertisements in newspapers and TV does not improve law and order".

"After all, why are heinous crimes against women increasing in UP?" she asked.

Riaz Haq said...

Another popular Hindu mythological text often shared with children is the Ramayana. In the story Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana are presented as dashing and heroic, particularly because they had braved exile and fought against a terrifying demon king, Ravana. Yet a closer look at the full Sanskrit text of Valmiki’s Ramayana reveals a violent undercurrent in its reinforcement of dharma. In one later addition to the story, a Brahmin goes to King Rama with his son dead in his arms. You must have done something wrong as king, he says, otherwise my son would not have died. A sage at court explains that the son died because a Shudra peasant fouled the order by learning to read and doing ascetic practices to try to ascend to heaven, which as a member of the lower caste he had no right to do.

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. 64). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

Rama immediately leaps into his flying chariot and spies a mystic hanging upside down from a tree in an act of spiritual asceticism. It’s the Shudra Shambuka, who explains to Rama he is doing this rigorous penance in hopes of knowing the divine. Rama doesn’t even let him finish his sentence. He just slices Shambuka’s head off. All the gods cry out, “Well done!” Flowers from the heavens rain down on Rama, and the dead child of the Brahmin comes back to life.32 This story terrified me as a caste-oppressed child. I could not understand what was wrong with wanting to aspire to know God. Even more tragic than the existential implications of this story, today this kind of ritual decapitation occurs as the violence prescribed in scripture has spread across the subcontinent. Scriptural edict has become material violence.

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. 65). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

As Gail Omvedt details in her classic study Buddhism in India, Brahmins used Vedic scripture to award themselves high status, sanctity, and power while circumscribing other communities in lower classes based on social function. Among the first scriptures to do this is the Rig Veda, in the Purusha Sukta, a hymn that introduces the concept of varna as part of the divine order.13 The Purusha is described as the first being from whom all other creation is derived. His sacrifice creates all life forms, including human beings, as his parts make up the origins of the universe, the elements, all the worlds, and everything in creation. The text says:

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. 55). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

When they divided Puruṣha how many portions did they make? What do they call his mouth, his arms? What do they call his thighs and feet? The Brahman was his mouth, of both his arms was the Rājanya made. His thighs became the Vaiśya, from his feet the Śūdra was produced. The Moon was gendered from his mind, and from his eye the Sun had birth; Indra and Agni from his mouth were born, and Vāyu from his breath. Forth from his navel came mid-air; the sky was fashioned from his head, Earth from his feet, and from his ear the regions. Thus they formed the worlds.14

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. 55). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

These verses describe a world in which all humans originate from the varnas, or social classes, that sprung from the body of Purusha. His mouth or his head was the origin of the priestly class, the Brahmins. Then the Rajanyas, or the varna that would come to be known as Kshatriyas—the rulers and warriors—were supposed to come from his arms and chest. The Vaishyas came from his abdomen and thighs; they were the merchants, artisans, and traders—tasked with being responsible for the external dealings in the world. The Shudras were the servant class, and they were his feet.

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (pp. 55-56). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

A Hindutva politician talking caste might sound paradoxical. After all, isn’t the RSS vision all about papering over fraternal caste faultlines to forge a monolithic Hindutva identity? Well, annihilation of caste is not a Hindutva identity project.

Caste is an Indian reality and the assertion of Hindu identity is always a confirmation of caste pride too. In the Hindu pyramidal caste hierarchy, the top Brahminical cone exists only because of the large Shudra and the other backward caste base. If the base goes, the pyramid collapses. So, the Brahminical hierarchy depends primarily on the assertion of allegiance of the backward castes.

The more the backward castes become assertive Hindus, the stronger the Hindu hierarchy and Hindutva identity. Thus, Narendra Modi is a godsend to upper-caste voters of the Gangetic plains. The moment he underscores his backward caste identity within the larger Hindutva fold, the bigger “Hindu hridaya samrat” he becomes.

Afeudal Brahmin or Rajput or Vaishya of Uttar Pradesh gets socially reassured when a backward-caste person acknowledges the relative Hindu hierarchical positions and upholds the Hindutva model. The greatest upper-caste political push for the RSS happened when Kalyan Singh, a backward caste, led the BJP in UP.

Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar, three leaders from the Lodh Rajput community, were the most visible faces of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Like the loyal monkey army of the ideal Kshatriya, leaders of the backward castes gave the greatest legitimacy for the Ram temple political programme.

It was this felt need of the cadre that Modi addressed on Sunday in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan as he flaunted his backward caste and working class origins. And the timing was perfect. He was responding to the attack on him by a liberal, upper-class, Brahmin Mani Shankar Iyer. Though the Gandhi-Nehru family retains some status of the prime Brahmin political family it used to be and the Congress still partakes of the dwindling dividends of Panditji’s legacy, the family and leaders like Iyer are seen a ..

Modi’s chaiwala challenge, hence, is a call to all the backward-caste voters of the heartland, while reassuring the core Sangh upper-caste constituency. This tactic, Sangh insiders hope, will add to the BJP kitty just as Kalyan Singh could rally the backward castes for the Parviar during the 1990s. Then, the Kalyan magic had worked. He won the party 52 seats in 1991, 51 in 1996 and 57 in 1998 from undivided Uttar Pradesh.

Former chief of Jan Sangh, Balraj Madhok, always used to point out that even a western-educated liberal like Jawaharlal Nehru allowed himself to be referred to as Panditji because the Congress party wanted to tell the heartland masses, in no uncertain terms, that Nehru was a Brahmin.

Similarly, nothing can enthuse the Sangh Parivar cadre more than the assertion of Modi’s caste identity. The Modi surname is largely associated with the uppercaste Vaishya community from Rajasthan and elsewhere. So, till it is spelt out, the backward class or caste origins of the BJP’s PM candidate remain obscure.

Riaz Haq said...

How India’s caste system limits diversity in science — in six charts

Data show how privileged groups still dominate many of the country’s elite research institutes.

This article is part of a Nature series examining data on ethnic or racial diversity in science in different countries. See also: How UK science is failing Black researchers — in nine stark charts.

Samadhan is an outlier in his home village in western India. Last year, he became the first person from there to start a science PhD. Samadhan, a student in Maharashtra state, is an Adivasi or indigenous person — a member of one of the most marginalized and poorest communities in India.

For that reason, he doesn’t want to publicize his last name or institution, partly because he fears that doing so would bring his social status to the attention of a wider group of Indian scientists. “They’d know that I am from a lower category and will think that I have progressed because of [the] quota,” he says.

The quota Samadhan refers to is also known as a reservation policy: a form of affirmative action that was written into India’s constitution in 1950. Reservation policies aimed to uplift marginalized communities by allocating quotas for them in public-sector jobs and in education. Mirroring India’s caste system of social hierarchy, the most privileged castes dominated white-collar professions, including roles in science and technology. After many years, the Indian government settled on a 7.5% quota for Adivasis (referred to as ‘Scheduled Tribes’ in official records) and a 15% quota for another marginalized group, the Dalits (referred to in government records as ‘Scheduled Castes’, and formerly known by the dehumanizing term ‘untouchables’). These quotas — which apply to almost all Indian research institutes — roughly correspond to these communities’ representation in the population, according to the most recent census of 2011.

But the historically privileged castes — the ‘General’ category in government records — still dominate many of India’s elite research institutions. Above the level of PhD students, the representation of Adivasis and Dalits falls off a cliff. Less than 1% of professors come from these communities at the top-ranked institutes among the 23 that together are known as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), according to data provided to Nature under right-to-information requests (see ‘Diversity at top Indian institutions’; the figures are for 2020, the latest available at time of collection).

“This is deliberate” on the part of institutes that “don’t want us to succeed”, says Ramesh Chandra, a Dalit, who retired as a senior professor at the University of Delhi last June. Researchers blame institute heads for not following the reservation policies, and the government for letting them off the hook.

Diversity gaps are common in science in many countries but they take different forms in each nation. The situation in India highlights how its caste system limits scientific opportunities for certain groups in a nation striving to become a global research leader.

India’s government publishes summary student data, but its figures for academic levels beyond this don’t allow analyses of scientists by caste and academic position, and most universities do not publish these data. In the past few years, however, journalists, student groups and researchers have been gathering diversity data using public-information laws, and arguing for change. Nature has used some of these figures, and its own information requests, to examine the diversity picture. Together, these data show that there are major gaps in diversity in Indian science institutions.

Riaz Haq said...

Ramayana is anti-OBC and anti-women

Ramcharitmanas is counted by many scholars to be among the world's greatest literary creations. Celebrated author Pavan Varma calls it "a deeply philosophical work" which "is akin to the Bible for many Hindus".

Composed by Tulsidas, the poem is a retelling of Ramayana, the Sanskrit epic written by Hindu sage Valmiki 2,500 years ago. It's widely believed that Tulsidas's version, which is written in Awadhi - a dialect very similar to Hindi - is what made Ram's story accessible to the masses and why it became so popular.

The story of the crown prince of Ayodhya and his victory over the demon king Ravana is performed every year during the Dussehra festival across India. He is a god who's revered by millions of Hindus for his sense of justice and fair play.

But in the past few weeks, politicians on opposing sides have been arguing over whether the text is derogatory towards women as well as Dalits, who are at the bottom of India's deeply discriminatory caste system.

This is not the first time Tulsidas's epic, written more than 600 years ago, has been criticised, but what sets it apart this time is the scale of protests by both its supporters and critics. General elections in India are due in a year and politicians from both sides accuse each other of using the controversy over the book to polarise voters along caste lines.

Since January, protesters have burned pages allegedly containing excerpts from the book - and counter-protests have been held, demanding critics of the work be arrested.

At least five people, accused of desecrating the sacred text, have been arrested and, at the weekend, police invoked the National Security Act (NSA), a draconian law that makes bail nearly impossible, against two of the arrested men.


Trouble started in January when a minister in the northern state of Bihar said the book was "spreading hatred in society". At a gathering of university students, Education Minister Chandrashekhar (who uses only one name) recited a few lines from Ramcharitmanas to prove his point.

"It says that if people from lower castes receive education, they become poisonous, like a snake becomes after drinking milk," he said.

A few days later, Swami Prasad Maurya, a prominent leader of a socially-disadvantaged community known as Other Backward Classes (OBC) and a member of the regional Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh state, expressed similar sentiments.

Insisting that some verses of Ramcharitmanas were "offensive", he demanded that they be removed from the book.

"Why hurl abuse in the name of religion? I respect all religions. But if in the name of religion, a community or caste is humiliated then it is objectionable," The Indian Express quoted him as saying.


Prof Hemlata Mahishwar of Delhi's Jamia University told BBC Hindi that "it's not just one or two lines but there are several verses" in Ramcharitmanas that are derogatory to women and Dalits.

"There's one couplet that says that a Brahmin is to be worshipped even if he's full of bad qualities. Whereas a Dalit, even if he's a Vedic scholar, cannot be respected. So how can we accept a book that's so biased?"

Some experts, however, say that Tulsidas was not a reformer and did have his biases, but the controversial lines are spoken by his characters and can't be taken to be a reflection of the author's opinion.

Akhilesh Shandilya, an expert on Ramcharitmanas, told BBC Hindi that the lines appear derogatory to Dalits and anti-women only when taken out of context and read in isolation.

But critics say that Ramcharitmanas has to be approached in the present-day context and deserves scrutiny and discussion, especially as it is a book that has such a hold on the imagination of Indians.

Riaz Haq said...

Why did Tulsidas ask his God Rama to punish Shudras and women not Mughal rulers?
in Life/Philosophy — by Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd —

The anti-Shudra, Dalit and women language of Tulsidas in his Ramcharitamanas engendered a major controversy in North India. Its impact could also be seen in the South, which already had a strong Shudra mobilization history. He equated them with animals and drums and wanted to keep punishing them forever. The new consciousness of the Shudras, Dalits and women is not going to accept this kind of writing. They do not want their children to study these historical humiliating books in the schools, colleges and universities. It is a known fact that the RSS/BJP want to impose all such books in our educational institutions.

All over the country the Shudra consciousness is opposing such books. Regional language articles and opinions keep appearing in the South Indian languages. It will not die down soon, because the defenders of Tulsidas are not saying that such abusive sentences were interpolations, not of original writer, as they do in the case of ancient Sanskrit books that used caste cultural abusive language. They earlier were making the Muslims and colonial rulers and writers responsible for caste division among the Hindus on caste lines to sustain their political power and economic exploitation.

This line of argument was first developed by the RSS supporting Dwija writers and speakers, as there were hardly any Shudra or Dalit writers in those ranks. All the defenders of Tulsidas and his book as their spiritual grandh are Dwija RSS/BJP leaders or the saints, sadhus, who are Brahmins. No Shudra/Dalit from the RSS/BJP ranks can defend this kind of abuse of food producers, cattle grazers, pot makers, leather workers, barbers, weavers and so on. This abusive language of Tulsidas is against the nation’s wealth creators, which in essence means against the nation. The Shudra/Dalit/Adivasis working in RSS/BJP cannot defend that language, as they too have self respect.

Tulsidas wrote this book during Akbar-Jahangir rule. As information available on the internet shows that it was written in the end of 16th century. That in essence means that it was written during Akbar’s rule. Akbar died in 1605 while sitting on the throne. Tulsidas died in 1623. That was the time Shudras/Dalits were struggling with nature to bring vast areas of land under cultivation. Deforestation, agriculture expansion were the main burden of the Shudras and Dalits. The Dwijas, more particularly the Brahmins, to which community Tulsidas belonged, were not even respecting agriculture work as spiritually respectable. They designated all agricutural operations as Shudra kaam (work). It was then he was writing that “ढोल गवाँर सूद्र पसु नारी। सकल ताड़ना के अधिकारी।(ḍhōla gavāomra sūdra pasu nārī. sakala tāḍanā kē adhikārī). “A drum, an illiterate, a Shudra, a beast and a woman — all deserve punishment”.

Punishment by whom? Punishment by his God Rama and by the Mughal State, which was imposing heavy land taxes on the Shudra farmers. Agrarian masses- men and women–were starving. But the Dwijas had protective valves in Akbar’s administration.

Tulsidas knew that the Mughal state during Akbar rule was run by Birbal and Todar Mal. According to Wikipedia Birbal, was a Saraswat Bhatt Brahmin advisor and main commander (Mukhya Senapati) of the army in the court of the Mughal emperor. . He had a close association with Emperor Akbar and was one of his most important courtiers, part of a group called the navaratnas (nine jewels).

Riaz Haq said...

#Caste system in #Indian Prisons: Unconstitutional but legal – State prison manuals legitimize caste-based rules for prisoner activities, from cleaning to cooking. #India #Modi #BJP #Hindutva #Brahmin #Apartheid

By Atishya Kumar

India’s criminal justice system, a legacy of the Raj, is intended primarily to punish. Reformation or rehabilitation was never on the agenda. As a result, the age-old social system of caste remained prevalent in prisons. Worse still, many colonial policies heavily relied on caste-based rules for administration and maintenance of order in prisons.

To date, the primary law that governs management and administration of prisons is still the colonial era law – Prisons Act, 1894. That state-level prison manuals remain unchanged since the establishment of the modern prison system also prominently reflects the colonial and caste mentality.

Riaz Haq said...

I won a birth lottery on caste, but learned fortune need not mean cruelty
Shree Paradkar
By Shree ParadkarSocial & Racial Justice Columnist

I come from a Brahmin family. This means I won a birth lottery. It means that while other identities may pose barriers, caste is never one. In fact, in certain situations, it is the secret handshake that opens doors, sometimes literally.

Caste privilege looks like — among many things — never hesitating to say your last name, being considered to come from a “good family,” having a higher chance of a sheltered upbringing (innocence is prized but not granted to all women) and being treated with deference in public spaces.

Brahmins around me insist they are not casteist. They say they don’t even think about caste let alone know the names of various castes, yet their social circles are almost entirely made up of fellow Brahmins. They say that caste oppression is now reversed and that Brahmins are now the real victims, sidelined in the caste system.

These are debates without empirical data, backed up by an anecdote or two about an undeserving “lower caste” person getting this job or that. (For a Brahmin, everybody else is “lower caste.”) By various counts, Brahmins, who form about four to five per cent of the Hindu population, comprise half of Indian media decision-makers and at least a third of bureaucrats and judges. Meanwhile, according to Oxfam, Dalits’ life expectancy can be up to 15 years less than other groups.

If forced to discuss caste, Brahmins will often claim the orginal varna system was fluid at its founding thousands of years ago, again with no evidence that Dalits could ever have educated themselves enough to then be considered Brahmin. As Indian social justice advocate Dilip Mandal noted recently on Twitter Spaces, a discussion on caste is neither theological nor historical nor abstract. It’s about lived experiences today.

Being ignorant of caste is a marker of privilege. I, too, only learned of the details of the caste system thanks to the tireless advocacy of Equality Labs in the U.S. Understanding anti-Black racism awoke me to caste-based brutality. Of course, learning that one’s gloried background is the carrier of such cruelty causes harsh cognitive dissonance. Reckoning with this reality is painful, but that discomfort pales in comparison to the generations of trauma inflicted on the marginalized. There is also little point in guilt or self-hatred; both emotions, while wrenching, simply continue to centre on the self.

None of us are born with a ready-made analysis of oppression. None of us choose to be born into the identities we inherit. The least the holders of power can do is to sit quietly, listen, reflect — not “Am I complicit” but “In what ways am I complicit” — learn, make space. And then they should let go of the reins.