Thursday, May 6, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Re: Do you think caste-based census needs to be resumed? Or will it just lead to an increase in casteism and conflict?

 

Is india casteless country, if not then why there is chaos for caste base census. how many brahmins have stop using scared thread which is non verbal code language elites of this country. I don't think India will be divided on caste based census. it will strengthen the people who have been deprived from the development.

--- In ZESTCaste@yahoogroups.com, Siddhartha Kumar <mailsiddhartha.k@...> wrote:
>
> http://www.dnaindia.com/india/message-board_do-you-think-caste-based-census-needs-to-be-resumed-or-will-it-just-lead-to-an-increase-in-casteism-and-conflict_1379708
>
> Do you think caste-based census needs to be resumed? Or will it just
> lead to an increase in casteism and conflict?
>
> Thursday, May 6, 2010 12:34 IST

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[ZESTCaste] Caste-based census impractical, Centre set to tell Parliament

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/Caste-based-census-impractical-Centre-set-to-tell-Parliament/articleshow/5896187.cms

Caste-based census impractical, Centre set to tell Parliament
6 May 2010, 0616 hrs IST,ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: The Cabinet meeting on Tuesday may have been confronted
with demand for caste-based census, but the government will cite
practical
difficulties and scope for inflating OBC figures to ward off pressure
from within and outside.

Home minister P Chidambaram is expected to unveil government's
thinking on the issue in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. The home ministry,
which is opposed to the demand for the inclusion of caste figures, has
been maintaining that it was fraught with `` dangerous consequences''.
In a note drafted for the Cabinet, it cited `` operational
difficulties'' in carrying out such an exercise which, if executed,
would overshadow its basic objective itself. There were, the home
ministry note pointed out, 1,885 notified SCs and STs in India. But
the number returned in the 2001 census was 18,478. There were, in
addition, surnames and clan names, and classification and grouping
under SC/ST itself was a formidable task. In the event of a
caste-based census, hundreds of castes will be returned with people
using clan names and gotra interchangeably.

The total number of OBCs were 6,000, including castes and sub groups.
There were two separate sets of OBC lists — one for the Centre, and
the other for the states. Several complex entries are very difficult
to comprehend at the level of the enumerator who is only a primary
school teacher.

For instance, the OBC list in the state was not easy to comprehend.
Dhobi in Delhi, Kohli in Maharashtra, Patua in UP and Rajjhar in MP
were also names in the list of SCs. Again, orphans and destitute
children were listed as OBCs in Tamil Nadu.

Microscopic and probing inquiries into caste, the note added, was not
possible at the level of enumerator. `` It is difficult to tabulate
and classify OBCs... the phonetic similarity in the name of castes may
lead to confusion in the enumerator's mind and throw up inaccurate
data,'' the note said.

Meanwhile, new and renewable energy minister Farooq Abdullah, who
backed the demand for caste-based census at the Cabinet meeting,
claimed the debate on the issue centred on the need to go in for
caste-distribution figures in the 2021 census, and not in the exercise
which has been just been kicked off.

The issue had brought out serious differences in the Cabinet, with
members such as Mr Veerappa Moily, Mr Vayalar Ravi, Mr S Jaipal Reddy,
Mr A Raja and Mr M K Alagiri pitching strongly for the resumption of
caste-baste census, and home minister P Chidambaram, Mr Anand Sharma
and Mr Mukul Wasnik opposing it.

The House was adjourned thrice after RJD and Samajwadi Party MPs
rushed to the well of the House protesting against BJP general
secre-tary and former Union minister Ananth Kumar's description of Mr
Lalu Prasad as `antinational' for opposing efforts to identify and
de-port illegal Bangladeshi immigrants .The decision to club the
creation of a National Population Register with the census operation,
the BJP leader maintained, would only end up legitimising illegal
immigrants.


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[ZESTCaste] Jats for CBI probe into Haryana Dalit violence

 

http://www.zeenews.com/news624484.html

Jats for CBI probe into Haryana Dalit violence

Updated on Wednesday, May 05, 2010, 20:59 IST
Tags: Jat, CBI, DalitBuzz up! Share Hisar: A Jat Mahapanchayat has
demanded a CBI probe into the caste violence in Haryana's Mirchpur
village in which a disabled Dalit girl and her septuagenarian father
were burnt alive and several houses of the community torched saying
the real picture is not being presented before the people.

The demand was made through a resolution adopted by the Mahapanchayat
at its meeting in Hansi town yesterday which was attended by about 400
members including prominent leaders of the community from the
surrounding areas.

The Mahapanchayat also demanded immediate release of all the persons
arrested by the police so far in connection with the incident and said
stern action be taken against those responsible for violence in
Mirchpur.

Accusing the administration of taking longer than it should to resolve
the matter, the head of the Mahapanchayat Diwan Singh threatened to
intensify agitation if the police try to arrest the women of the
village in connection with the incident.

The members at the meeting also demanded that no one should be
arrested till the completion of CBI probe.

Police had earlier arrested 30 persons in connection with the Mirchpur
incident on April 21, in which a physically challenged girl and her
70-year old father were burnt alive and 18 houses torched by the
miscreants.

While the girl was charred to death, her father had died later at the hospital.

The Jat Mahapanchayat has now convened a state-level meeting on May 9
to decide its next course of action in the matter.

It also demanded suitable amendment in the Hindu Marriage Act so that
Gotra (clan) problems can be solved besides asking for the release of
Narnaund Station House Officer (SHO) Vinod Kajal and Naib Tehsildar
Jage Ram.

Even as the district authorities are trying to act as peacemakers, the
indefinite dharna by Dalits continued today seeking enhanced
compensation for the next of kin of the deceased and those whose
houses were burnt in Mirchpur.

The Dalits have accepted the employment offers but turned down the Rs
15 lakh compensation.

Meanhwhile, the district administration taking no chances had convened
a meeting of representatives of both Jats and Dalits to sort out the
issue, officials said here.

Both Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi and Haryana Chief
Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda have separately met the victims of
caste violence in the Haryana village.

However, Jat leaders at the Mahapanchayat alleged that both Rahul and
Hooda during their separate visits to Mirchpur village after the
incident met only Dalits, ignoring members of the other community.

Meanwhile, Hisar's Additional Deputy Commissioner A K Garg today gave
a cheque of Rs one lakh to Sunita, wife of Sartu, one of the victim of
Mirchpur incident.

The victims of the Mirchpur incident have so far been provided a
relief of Rs 26.49 lakh and 169 families including the next of kin of
the deceased have been provided two quintals of wheat each, he said.

-PTI

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[ZESTCaste] 23 upper castemen convicted in Bihar massacre case

 

http://bihartimes.com/Newsbihar/2010/May/Newsbihar06May5.html

23 upper castemen convicted in Bihar massacre case

Patna,(BiharTimes): The First Additional District and Sessions Judge
of Ara in Bihar, Ajay Kumar Srivastava, convicted 23 persons and
acquitted 30 other accused in the infamous Bathani Tola massacre case
of 1996. The quantum of sentence is to be pronounced on May 12.

The case is related to the massacre of 21 Dalits and poor Muslims at
Bathani Tola village in Sahar block of Bhojpur district on July 11,
1996 by the activists of Ranvir Sena, a private army of the landed
upper caste Bhumihar farmers. These have-nots were killed by the
landed Bhumihars on the charge that they were supporters of the Naxal
groups.

As per charge-sheet 60-70 supporters of Ranvir Sena had attacked
Bathani Tola at about 2:00 PM and killed 21 persons, mainly women and
children in the age group of three months to 80 years using fire arms,
swords and other weapons.

Later Kishun Chaudhary, a Dalit survivor of Bathani Tola had lodged a
case against 33 persons following which the police filed charge-sheet
against 63 accused. They included the Ranvir Sena chief, Barmeshwar
Singh, generally known as Mukhiyaji. However, the Mukhiya was declared
as absconder. He was later arrested.

Though a non-FIR accused the case against Mukhiyaji has still not been
committed. He is now in jail.
It needs to be recalled that only last month another court in Bihar
convicted Ranvir Sena supporters for killing 58 Dalit men, women and
children in Lakshmipur-Bathe village in Jehanabad district.

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[ZESTCaste] Caste-based census may lead to political clash ahead of polls

http://www.livemint.com/2010/05/05212639/Castebased-census-may-lead-to.html?h=B

Posted: Wed, May 5 2010. 9:26 PM IST
Economy and Politics

Caste-based census may lead to political clash ahead of polls

Home minister has said recording around 6,000 castes and 65,000
sub-castes will be impractical

Santosh K. Joy and Liz Mathew
New Delhi: The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
government's reluctance to ask people to record the caste they belong
to in the ongoing census may lead to a clash with regional parties
before assembly elections in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Secular state: Union minister of state for home affairs Ajay Maken
said the decision was taken keeping in view the spirit of the
Constitution. Sushil Kumar/Hindustan Times

The government cited "practical difficulties" and the Constitution for
its resistance to the idea.

"A decision to discourage community distinction based on caste was
taken keeping in view the spirit of the secular state enshrined in the
preamble of the Constitution of India," said Union minister of state
for home affairs Ajay Maken in reply to a letter by Rajya Sabha member
and the Janata Dal (United) lawmaker Ali Anwar. Anwar had argued that
only a statistical record on the size and character of other backward
castes (OBCs) would make their progress possible.

The Supreme Court had in April 2009 dismissed a plea filed by a Tamil
Nadu-based party that the government undertake a caste-based census,
saying it could lead to sectarian strife.

According to a minister who attended Tuesday's cabinet meeting that
discussed the demand for a caste-based census, home minister P.
Chidambaram said the enrolment and verification of around 6,000 castes
and 65,000 sub-castes in the country would be impractical and
enumerators may not have the sociological sensitivity to record such
categories. The cabinet was divided over the issue, the minister said.

Chidambaram declined to comment when asked about his view on the issue.

The census, first conducted in 1881, collected caste-wise data until
1931. While the census continues to count scheduled castes and
scheduled tribes, OBCs have not been enumerated for 80 years.

"Some regional parties will use the government's reluctance to agree
to a caste-based census to further attack the Congress, even if the
suggestion is impractical," said a senior Congress leader and cabinet
minister, who did not want to be identified. He added that the
"political fallout" may be greater in the Hindi belt.

With elections to key states such as Bihar this year and Uttar Pradesh
in 2012, opposition parties allege that the UPA is weighing "its
political gains above an act of historic correction which has
pro-people implications", said Rajnath Singh of the main opposition
Bharatiya Janata Party.

The government's reluctance is guided by an elite few among the
organized caste formations that support the politicians of the day,
especially the ones in power, according to Vivek Kumar, associate
professor, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru
University.

Some of the government's allies were open about their disagreement
over the issue.

"Why can't we have a caste-based census once and then go ahead with
our development and other pro-people policies so that there could be
better, targeted implementation," said Union minister for new and
renewable energy Farooq Abdullah.

Such data could "validate caste-based reservations and avoid further
litigation", JNU's Kumar said. It "could help have a better view on
the exclusion of creamy layers, and reservations in promotional
opportunities could be implemented more effectively".

santosh.j@livemint.com


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[ZESTCaste] Do you think caste-based census needs to be resumed? Or will it just lead to an increase in casteism and conflict?

 

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/message-board_do-you-think-caste-based-census-needs-to-be-resumed-or-will-it-just-lead-to-an-increase-in-casteism-and-conflict_1379708

Do you think caste-based census needs to be resumed? Or will it just
lead to an increase in casteism and conflict?

Thursday, May 6, 2010 12:34 IST
The demand for restoration of caste-based census has got a boost with
members of the Union Cabinet making a forceful pitch for the
enumeration of OBCs (other backward classes) nationally. Among those
arguing strongly for the return of caste census are OBC faces such as
law minister M Veerappa Moily, minister for overseas affairs Vayalar
Ravi, telecom minister Andimuthu Raja and fertiliser minister MK
Alagiri.

The development came after a strong demand in Parliament for revival
of caste census. The BJP and the left parties joined OBC leaders
Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad, and Sharad Yadav in demanding that
caste be brought back as a census criterion.

The last census to enumerate caste was in 1931, when the British were
ruling India and Lord Irwin was the viceroy. There was no census in
1941, thanks to the Second World War. After independence, India's
founding fathers decided to do away with caste as a census criterion
because of their desire to build a casteless society.

Now politicians, particularly from the OBCs, are demanding resumption
of caste enumeration in the census. In fact, they want it done in the
exercise that is already under way. They say the reality of caste in
India cannot be wished away and enumerating caste would help in
implementation of many policies based on caste, such as reservation in
education and employment.

But those opposed to such a census say the dream of a casteless social
order should not be given up and efforts should be made to weaken the
caste structure based on oppression of those at the bottom of the
hierarchy.

Do you think it is time to revive caste-based census? Or will it
merely worsen the divide in society?

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[ZESTCaste] Why Karunanidhi can’t ditch ‘Spectrum Raja’

http://www.hindustantimes.com/newdelhi/Why-Karunanidhi-can-t-ditch-Spectrum-Raja/540063/H1-Article1-539916.aspx

Why Karunanidhi can't ditch 'Spectrum Raja'
Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times

New Delhi, May 06, 2010
First Published: 00:08 IST(6/5/2010)
Last Updated: 00:10 IST(6/5/2010)

When DMK chief M. Karunanidhi invoked the Dalit card to brush off the
demand for Telecom Minister Andimuthu Raja's resignation, no one in
the DMK expected him to act otherwise — even if controversies relating
to the 2G spectrum allocations were hitting the ceiling.

"Spectrum Raja", as he has been nicknamed by his AIADMK rivals, knew
Karunanidhi had to defend him.

Since he became a MP in 1996 and a Union Minister in 1999, Raja (47)
learnt early on what ticked in the DMK.

Do exactly as told by the party boss, Raja often told close friends.
"That's the way you stay close to the DMK patriarch, and out of the
rivalry involving his sons, M. K. Alagiri and M. K. Stalin". The other
'golden' rule, Raja learnt, was to ensuring that "you contribute more
for the party than for yourself".

Between 2004 and 2009, Raja's contribution to the DMK coffers was more
than that of T.R. Baalu, Transport Minister in UPA-I, who couldn't
make it to UPA-II Cabinet, recalled a party insider.

Unlike Baalu, Raja did exactly what the party said and his
contribution for the DMK's treasury for the 2009 Lok Sabha polls
impressed Karunanidhi, another DMK official said.

Whether it was destiny or fortuitous circumstances, like Baalu, Raja
got close to Karunanidhi's second wife, Rajathi and their daughter,
Kanimozhi. They seemed to be quite impressed with his sense of
"business promotion".

So when Dayanidhi Maran was forced to quit as telecom minister in
April 2007, Raja fit right in.

Karunanidhi was livid that Dayanidhi and brother Kalanidhi had become
too ambitious, holding popularity contests against Alagiri in their
newspaper, whose office was burnt down.

Raja did not take charge of the telecom ministry alone. Kanimozhi was
to remain his "guide". He was focused.

His alleged underselling of the 2G spectrum (a designated part of the
airwaves for use by mobile phone operators), which caused a loss of Rs
22,466 crore as per the CBI's estimate, surfaced.

Reversing Maran's decisions, Raja did not auction the spectrum, but
sold it on a first-come-first serve basis. It was not at 2007 prices
but at the 2001 price of Rs 1,650 crore.

Whether it was directive from the Prime Minister or the TRAI, Raja did
not see any hurdle in violating any rule. In October 2009, when the
CBI registered cases against "unknown" telecom officials and raided
his ministry for causing loss to the exchequer, he was unruffled. He
said the PM was in the know of all his decisions.

Raja knew what he learnt as a lawyer in Perambulur, that his Dalit
background was strong enough to dissuade anyone to mess with him.

Furore in Lok Sabha

The Lok Sabha was adjourned on Wednesday as AIADMK members created
uproar waving newspapers carrying reports of an alleged scam in
allocation of 2G spectrum and demanded the resignation of Telecom
Minister Minister A. Raja.

The AIADMK members rushed to the well displaying copies of the
newspaper soon after Speaker Meira Kumar called for Question Hour.

Left members also joined the members in the well demanding an apology
from Trinamool Congress member Sudip Bandopadhyay for his remarks
against CPI(M) member Basudeb Acharia.

Kumar's repeated appeals to allow Question Hour to continue went unheeded.

PTI, New Delhi


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[ZESTCaste] Politically correct

http://blog.livemint.com/have-you-heard/2010/05/05/politically-correct/

Politically correct

Norti Bai, in her late fifties, is the first Dalit woman sarpanch
ofHarmara village in Rajasthan's Ajmer district. She says she's the
onlywoman elected to the post not from an influential political
family. NortiBai says she won the Panchayat elections held earlier
this year because ofoverwhelming support from the women in her
village. A support thataccording to her, is a direct result of growing
awareness and exposureamong the women in her village.This augmented
exposure has been brought about by an unlikely agent – theCongress-led
United Progressive Alliance government's flagship MahatmaGandhi
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or MGNREGA.Interestingly,
apart from the impact on social and economic dynamics, thisscheme is
also ushering in, what might well be a subtle yet crucialpolitical
shift.Apart from providing a safety net to the rural poor, MGNREGA is
showingsigns of helping the Congress party strengthen its position in
a keyelectoral base – women. The way in which the mechanics of the
MGNREGA havepanned out has seen more women participate in development
programmes. Tillnow, a total of 5.06 crore households have been
provided employment underMGNREGA and 262.9 crore persondays of
employment have been generated. Ofthis, women constitute 48% or nearly
half the workforce. In some stateslike Rajasthan, women account for
nearly 70% of the workforce.This fact, along with the financial
emancipation that comes with it, hasalso seen women becoming more
aware of their rights.The development could prove to be beneficial for
the Congress. Associatingthe party with their new emancipated status
could see the support basebeing strengthened among rural women, which
has always been one of itscore constituencies.Norti Bai's election as
sarpanch could indeed be a consequence of womenfinally finding their
voice, particularly in states like Rajasthan, wherethey have
historically been oppressed and largely influenced by men.It, of
course, might be too early to gauge the political impact ofsignificant
female participation in MGNREGA and draw conclusions fromthat, given
that the scheme was introduced across all 619 districts in thecountry
just about two years back. Further, this theory may also not holdtrue
in states where eithera) women have always been politically aware
orb) where female participation in the scheme is still too
lowHowever, in Rajasthan, the winds of change are perceptible and if
theassembly election results of December 2008 and the Lok sabha
elections of2009 are anything to go by, the marquee scheme is
definitely working infavour of its creator.women workers in Rajasthan:
Priyanka Parasha/Mint
Norti Bai, in her late fifties, is the first Dalit woman sarpanch of
Harmara village in Rajasthan's Ajmer district. She says she's the only
woman elected to the post not from an influential political family.
Norti Bai says she won the Panchayat elections held earlier this year
because of overwhelming support from the women in her village. A
support that according to her, is a direct result of growing awareness
and exposure among the women in her village.

This augmented exposure has been brought about by an unlikely agent –
the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government's flagship
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or MGNREGA.
Interestingly, apart from the impact on social and economic dynamics,
this scheme is also ushering in, what might well be a subtle yet
crucial political shift.
Apart from providing a safety net to the rural poor, MGNREGA is
showing signs of helping the Congress party strengthen its position in
a key electoral base – women. The way in which the mechanics of the
MGNREGA have panned out has seen more women participate in development
programmes. Till now, a total of 5.06 crore households have been
provided employment under MGNREGA and 262.9 crore persondays of
employment have been generated. Of
this, women constitute 48% or nearly half the workforce. In some
states like Rajasthan, women account for nearly 70% of the workforce.
This fact, along with the financial emancipation that comes with it,
has also seen women becoming more aware of their rights. The
development could prove to be beneficial for the Congress. Associating
the party with their new emancipated status could see the support base
being strengthened among rural women, which has always been one of its
core constituencies.
Norti Bai's election as sarpanch could indeed be a consequence of
women finally finding their voice, particularly in states like
Rajasthan, where they have historically been oppressed and largely
influenced by men. It, of course, might be too early to gauge the
political impact of significant female participation in MGNREGA and
draw conclusions from
that, given that the scheme was introduced across all 619 districts in
the country just about two years back. Further, this theory may also
not hold true in states where either:
a) women have always been politically aware or
b) where female participation in the scheme is still too low
However, in Rajasthan, the winds of change are perceptible and if the
assembly election results of December 2008 and the Lok sabha elections
of 2009 are anything to go by, the marquee scheme is definitely
working in favour of its creator.


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[ZESTCaste] 23 convicted and 30 acquitted in Bihar carnage case

 

http://www.ptinews.com/news/641213_23-convicted-and-30-acquitted-in-Bihar-carnage-case

23 convicted and 30 acquitted in Bihar carnage case

STAFF WRITER 10:37 HRS IST
Ara (Bihar), May 6 (PTI) Fourteen years after 21 Dalits were killed, a
local court has convicted 23 people for the carnage in Bathani Tola in
Bihar's Bhojpur district.

The court aquitted 30 others named in the case for want of evidence.

Additional District and Sessions Judge A K Srivastava found 23 people
guilty yesterday of killing the Dalits in Sahar block on July 11, 1996
by suspected activists of Ranvir Sena, a private militia of upper
caste land owners.

The court fixed May 12 for pronouncing the quantum of punishment.

Around 70 Sena men had raided the village and slaughtered 21 Dalits,
mostly women and children.

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[ZESTCaste] Are we 'post-Hindu' yet?

http://www.himalmag.com/Are-we-post-Hindu-yet_nw4511.html

Are we 'post-Hindu' yet?

May 2010
By: Meera Nanda

Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, socio-spiritual and
scientific revolution
Kancha Ilaiah Sage

Kancha Ilaiah burst onto the Indian intellectual scene in 1996, with
his now-famous book, Why I Am Not a Hindu. In that work, Ilaiah made a
partly autobiographical case for why he, and his fellow Dalit-Bahujan
(Shudra) brothers and sisters, feel nothing but anger and apathy
toward Hinduism – the religion that had devalued their lives, their
culture and their gods while also shutting them out from the 'high
culture' of the twice-born castes. Nearly 15 years later, Ilaiah has
written a new book making the case for why Hinduism itself deserves to
die, and why the annihilation of caste will also annihilate Hindu
dharma. India, he proclaims, is on its way to a 'post-Hindu' future,
one he is himself trying to bring about and looks forward to with
obvious delight.

The passage of time has clearly not moderated Ilaiah's passion, as the
same burning anger at the injustices that have been heaped upon the
Dalit-Bahujan and Adivasi communities animates both his books.
Unfortunately, time has also not cured him of an essentialist,
black-and-white style of thinking that is largely unconcerned with
facts. The same stereotypical 'we good, Brahmins bad' style of
thinking that reduced Why I Am Not a Hindu to nothing more than a
self-righteous howl reduces Post-Hindu India to a wishful daydream
that floats free of history – and, indeed, even of contemporary
reality. Ilaiah has written a romance, rather than the analysis
informed by social science that one would one would expect from a
professor of political science at one of India's most renowned
institutions for higher education, Osmania University in Hyderabad.

The thesis in Post-Hindu India is simple enough. It claims that of the
world's four major religions, Hinduism "is on the course of a slow and
sure death" because the "caste cancer" that the religion legitimises
is eating it from the inside, making it cede ground to more
egalitarian religions such as Islam and Christianity. Enabled by
capitalism, globalisation and the spread of English education,
Dalit-Bahujans finally have the option of waging – and winning – a
civil war against the "spiritual goondas" (Brahmins, in other words)
and joining religions that are more "spiritually democratic". Even
when they do not officially leave it, Dalits-Bahujans have "no respect
for Hinduism", Ilaiah argues. The rise of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak
Sangh (RSS) and Hindutva forces is only "pushing Hinduism toward its
death", because it is trying to achieve a national and global stature
for Hinduism without ensuring equality for the oppressed majority.

This leads to the other part of Ilaiah's book, which focuses on
explaining the nature of the "caste cancer". According to Ilaiah, the
pathology of caste, ostensibly sucking the lifeblood out of Hinduism,
lies in the religion's inability to condone and institutionalise a
"spiritual democratic course of equality and transformation within its
inner structures". This raises the question of why Hinduism lacks this
spiritual democracy, which Ilaiah evidently finds in abundance in all
other world religions. According to the author, the fundamental
problem lies in "Hinduism's inability to mediate between reason and
faith". While the labouring Dalit-Bahujan castes embraced a rational
and productive stance toward the world, Hindu Brahminism took an
"anti-productive and anti-science ethic". The irony, according to
Ilaiah, is that Brahminism touted its own parasitic lifestyle based on
superstition as the way to purity and knowledge, while looking down on
the "real" scientists, engineers and workers – the Dalits, Shudras and
Adivasis. If India has to survive in this era of modernity and
globalisation, Ilaiah argues, it will have to necessarily embrace the
scientific ethic of its labouring and long-suffering 'lower' castes,
thus turning 'post-Hindu' – a change that the author considers
inevitable.

Upward spiral
Ilaiah's triumphalist call for the end of Hinduism reminds one of the
hue and cry that Hindutva ideologues raised some years ago over India
allegedly becoming a Muslim-majority country, with Hindus being
reduced to a minority in 'their own country'. While Ilaiah, of course,
welcomes the prospect of a less-Hindu India, the Hindu right decries
it, using it for fear-mongering against the imagined Muslim
'population bomb'. Ultimately, however, Ilaiah is as factually
challenged as his Hindutva counterparts: by no stretch of the
imagination is India at a post-Hindu stage. On the contrary, with the
dog-eat-dog kind of capitalism and globalisation that the country has
embraced, Indians of all religious faiths are becoming more religious,
and Hindu religiosity is growing in all segments of society –
including among the Dalits, Shudras and Adivasis. Far from turning
their backs on Hinduism, Dalit-Bahujans are increasingly using
conspicuous Hindu rituals – expensive pujas, jagratas and homas – to
pass as genteel and 'clean' middle-class people. The age-old processes
of co-option into the Hindu fold have by no means lost their power, as
Ilaiah would have us believe.

Ilaiah's idea that Hinduism is on a "downward spiral" in number and
influence, and is heading toward "a slow but sure death", is simply
not supported by facts. Recent census data shows that the share of
Muslim and Christians in India's total population was less than 15
percent in 1991 and less than 16 percent in 2001 – a slight increase
that can be explained by the relative economic deprivation of Muslims,
but hardly signalling a great stampede away from Hinduism. Additional
data from the well-respected National Election Studies, by the Centre
for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), taken after the 2004 and
2009 polls show that the proportion of Dalits and Adivasis who had
taken to praying to Hindu gods and goddesses was growing, not
declining. More fine-grained ethnographic studies show that, as upward
mobility grows among Dalits and other backward castes, they tend to
adopt upper-caste Hindu practices to gain respectability and pass as
middle castes – clearly a sad commentary on the durability of casteist
attitudes in contemporary India.

Ilaiah simply discounts the still-strong tendencies among the
historically deprived castes to seek approval from the twice-born
castes, which often leads them to support the retrograde and often
openly anti-Muslim and anti-Christian politics of the Hindu right. If
Hinduism was really declining in influence among Dalit-Bahujan
communities, as Ilaiah insists, how can one explain the fact that
Dalits of the Valmiki caste have allowed their heroes to be co-opted
into the Hindu pantheon? This process has been described by Badri
Narayan in his fine ethnography of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar Dalits,
Fascinating Hindutva. Though occasional statements demonstrate that
Ilaiah is aware of the co-option, he does not let this temper his
enthusiasm for issuing a death certificate for the Hindu religion.

This lack of attention to empirical evidence deeply mars Ilaiah's
writings. Post-Hindu India boasts of a "unique methodology" that seems
to lie in the total absence of any reference to published work: the
entire 295 pages of text appear to have emerged straight from Ilaiah's
own mind. Of course, there is plenty of name-dropping, from Ambedkar
to Hegel to Marx, but there is no way to check the veracity or the
relevance of their statements. Apart from unsubstantiated statements
of the 'greats', there is not a single reference to any contemporary
study. The wild generalisations that abound in this and Why I am not a
Hindu could have easily been avoided had Ilaiah bothered to check his
raw feelings against the available sociological and anthropological
data. For all his insistence that Dalit-Bahujans and Adivasis are the
custodians of scientific temper, Ilaiah himself does not exhibit a
great deal of social scientific methodology in his writings.

Too much chaff
The issue of scientific temper brings us to the second part of
Ilaiah's thesis, the 'failure' of Hinduism to mediate between reason
and faith. There is certainly a grain of truth in this, as the
Brahminical obsession with purity and mystical knowledge of an
'absolute truth' that transcends sensory methods of verification and
falsification was chiefly responsible for setting back the development
of the natural sciences in India. There is no denying that it was the
labouring castes who took a lead in developing the stock of positive
knowledge that traditional India possessed, be it Ayurveda or alchemy.
The 'science' of astrology and yagnas are perhaps the only
contributions of the twice-born castes. But here again, Ilaiah covers
the grain of truth with layers of chaff spun out of wild and
unsubstantiated exaggerations. Indeed, he uses the label science as
loosely as the Hindu right does; if for the apologists of the
reformist sanatan dharma everything from astrology to mystical trances
is scientific in the modern sense of the word, Ilaiah is happy to
confer the status of science to everything from curing leather and
making manure to cutting hair.

The problem with this loose use of the label science is that it
confers the status of rigorously tested experimental knowledge backed
by theoretical explanations – in other words, what we understand as
modern science – to what were at most the proto-sciences of our
ancestors. It is true that involvement in the productive activities of
curing leather, growing crops and taking care of sick people forces
the practitioner to pay more attention to the material aspects of the
phenomena. But materialism and the use of sensory experience by
themselves do not make an activity scientific in any modern sense of
the word. After all, even the most empirical science of the ancient
Ayurvedic doctors contained a substantial amount of 'magical' thinking
derived from Brahminical ideas of 'spiritual therapy' that involved
incantations, talismans, fasting, sacrifices and the like.

Contrary to what Ilaiah believes, no scientist – including his Madiga
"leather scientists" or the Mala "manure scientists" – approaches the
phenomena by pure experience, and unshaped by the worldview and
cultural assumptions prevalent in the larger society. At no point were
the labouring castes free from the underlying assumptions about the
divine origins of the cosmos, or the karmic workings of the soul that
Vedic Hinduism taught. Though they were not allowed to learn the elite
knowledge available in Sanskrit, that knowledge nonetheless trickled
down to the lower orders through puranas and tantras, taught in the
vernacular. In this context, drawing a hard and fast line between the
supposedly 'scientific' knowledge of the 'productive' Dalit-Bahujans
and the 'superstitions' of the 'parasitic' Brahmins is too simplistic.

While one can sympathise with Ilaiah's anger at what Hinduism has
wrought, one cannot accept his analysis of where Hinduism is going.
Hinduism is too much of a resilient, all-inclusive and flexible
religion to loosen its grip on the Indian imagination in the
foreseeable future. Post-Hindu India is thus more of a fairytale than
a serious work of social science.

Meera Nanda is a philosopher of science who initially trained in
biology. Her most recent book is The God Market: How globalization is
making India more Hindu (2010).


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[ZESTCaste] Maya’s anti-crime drive in danger of backfiring

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/mayas-anticrime-drive-in-danger-of-backfiring/615756/

Maya's anti-crime drive in danger of backfiring
Sanjay Singh Posted online: Thursday , May 06, 2010 at 0827 hrs
Lucknow : Nearly three years into her historic win in the UP Assembly
election, Chief Minister Mayawati's image as an administrator capable
of controlling criminal elements has taken a severe beating. Her
recent drive to rid her party of criminal elements is widely being
seen as a last-ditch attempt to rectify the damage to the party's
image ahead of the 2012 Assembly election.
While the immediate reason for the kicking off of the drive on April
17 seems to be the April 14 murder of Hanuman Charan Shukla, alleged
to be a BSP activist, the Mayawati government has its back to the wall
on a number of fronts. Her preoccupation with her dream projects of
statues and parks has incurred the wrath of the SC and her government
also faces serious charges of corruption.

It was not that the BSP was completely devoid of criminal elements
before the 2007 Assembly elections. However, the advantage was
Mayawati's image as a leader capable of controlling criminal elements,
besides imposing strict discipline on the rank-and-file of her party.
Her public meetings never ended without the shouting of her party's
popular slogan- "Chadh Gundan (criminals) Ki Chhati Par, Muhar Lagegi
Hathi Par (If you want to crush the criminals, vote for the BSP )".
That image was put to the test after she won a majority in the 2007
election. And found severely wanting.

Maya's current tenure saw the involvement of her party MLA Shekhar
Tewari in the killing of PWD engineer Manoj Gupta in Auraiya district
and the dropping of two ministers —— Anand Sen Yadav and Jamuna Nishad
after their names figured in criminal cases. Besides, she selected a
number of candidates with a criminal past, including Arun Shankar
Shukla alias Anna from Unnao seat, Mukhtar Ansari and his brother
Afzal Ansari from Varanasi and Ghazipur seat respectively, D P Yadav
from Badaun and Dhananjay Singh from Jaunpur, during the last Lok
Sabha polls. Most of such controversial candidates of the BSP had lost
the LS elections.

Apart from the LS polls, the BSP continued its trend of choosing
candidates with a tainted past for the Council polls in UP. Even don
Brijesh Singh's wife Annapurna was given a BSP ticket and won the
Council polls.

Things took a turn for the worse on April 14 when Hanuman Sharan
Shukla, alleged to be a BSP supporter, was killed on the dais during
the party's demonstration against the Women's Reservation Bill in
Gonda district. Although the Principal Secretary (Home) Kunwar Fateh
Bahadur had then denied Shukla's association with the BSP, Shukla's
presence at the dais left no scope for the BSP to compensate the
political damage it suffered.

Moreover, Rahul Gandhi's attempt to revive the Congress in UP and his
emphasis on youth and clean governance has thrown Mayawati's failure
on the law and order front in sharper relief. The launch of the
ambitious Yatra programme from BSP stronghold Ambedkarnagar on April
14 has set alarm bells ringing in the ruling establishment.

Against this backdrop, Maya's move to launch a drive against the
criminals at district/block level reflected her desperation to stop
the Opposition parties from targeting her party's association with
criminals. Maya had blamed the Opposition parties, particularly SP,
for sending the criminal elements to join her party in a move to keep
them out of jail. Maya's special focus on this particular drive has
virtually backfired and she has given a strong political issue in the
hands of the opposition parties to highlight her alleged failure to
fulfill the promise that she had made during the 2007 Assembly
elections. Moreover, the current drive which only targeted
district/block level workers put the spotlight on the those MPs/MLAs
and MLCs with a criminal record.

Her May 2 press conference announcing the expulsion of 500 party
functionaries with a criminal background has led her to be an easy
target for the Opposition. While AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh
demanded the CM release the list of 500 expelled leaders and their
criminal history, the former CM Mulayam Singh Yadav had asked her to
explain why they were inducted at all.

In attempting a grand, symbolic gesture of ridding the party of
criminal elements, Mayawati may have bitten off more than she can
chew.


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