Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Raja who died as a Faquir

A Tribute to V.P.Singh
June 25th, 1931-November 27th, 2008

A man of Decency and Conviction
By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

V.P.Singh resigned from his prime ministership when the country was facing one of the worst crises after independence. The Hindutva’s juggernaut was unfolding and the Muslims were the obvious target. His acceptance of the Mandal Commission report ensuring 27% reservation had altered the political landscape of the country. The upper castes were up in the streets, immolating themselves blaming the government for compromising merit. Singh, who was the blue-eyed boy of the Indian elite class particularly the upper castes till then turned villain for his act of providing justice to backward communities. Yes that historical decision on August 7, 1990 changed the course of Indian history when the cabinet accepted the Mandal Commission recommendation and decided to implement 27% reservation for backward communities. India was never the same again. The political parties and realignment of the social justice forces began then. The Hindutva started its Kamandal Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya to unite the ‘Hindus’ on the Ramjanambhoomi issue but quintessentially to bring them together under the brahmanical domination. The shudra-atishudra communities were cobbling together with Adivasis and determined to make a new rainbow coalition with minorities. The future looked tense for the Hindu upper caste as they decided to work on it. Both the Congress Party under Rajiv Gandhi and the BJP joined hand to dislodge a government, which fulfilled its responsibility to protect the Babari Masjid in Ayodhya. V.P.Singh resigned because the game political parties and over corrupted and ambitious leaders like Chandra Shekar, Devi Lal and Mulayam Singh Yadav played that time. It was the worst kind of politics, which destroyed the broader unity of these communities and paved the way for the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party, to come to power.

V P Singh remains one of the most hated politicians even after almost 20 years of demitting office. The Hindu upper caste would never forgive him for the single act of ‘Mandalisation’ of Indian society, which finally resulted in a clear change in India’s parliament. Though, he was often blamed that Mandal Commission Report was implemented to sideline Devi Lal. The fact was that implementation of Mandal Commission report was part of National Front manifesto. He was just following the manifesto. Moreover, even if he did it for political purposes, why did the champions of social justice not support it?

V.P.Singh was essentially a loner in politics. In the dirty word of politics, where personal loyalties are considered important and money plays an important role, he kept himself away from this. In his remarkable political career, he would be perhaps the only ranking in that top positions ( PMs, CMs and Ministers) who chose to live with great simplicity. His life was an open secret. One of the most accessible political leader, Singh never mind even sitting on Dharana with a few young activists and this was the reason why the social action groups working in the slums of Delhi found in him their patron. At the time when even the local corporation member do not travel without a few gun trotting guards and streams of vehicles Singh could shun publicity and security. In fact immediately after demitting the office, he asked the government to withdraw his SPG.

V.P.Singh is often charged with playing politics. His detractors found it difficult to counter him argumentatively as though Singh might not have been a rebel rouser in political sense as he never lost sight of decency and could mingle with people very easily speaking with them in chaste Bhojpuri, yet because of his sheer conviction and clean personal life, none of them could really challenge him. We all remember those hey days of 1986 when he was expelled from Congress Party and it did everything to stop him addressing public meetings. As youths we all saw in him a hope, an aspiration from getting rid of corruption, which the Congress party epitomized that time. Every where, the ruling Congress that time disrupted meeting, stopped permission for grounds, spied him privately and threatened action against him. His files were traced and journalists like M.J.Akbar were used to get stories published in newspapers like Hindustan Times and Telegraph that Singh has an account in St Kitts. The business-journalist-rightwing nexus is very powerful in India and politicians use it. Singh was perhaps the only politician who not only shunned businessmen but also the middlemen Babas. If he did not hesitate in raiding the industrial houses who were evading taxes particularly notorious Reliance during that time, he also tried to investigate the illegal accounts of our political class. We all know we do not have the proof but a large number of Indians have illegal money in Switzerland. And when an individual fight against the system, with in being part of system, he meet with the fate as VP Singh met. His close colleague Bhure Lal, who was director in the enforcement directorate were shunted. Singh was transferred to Defence Ministry. There also he found that heavy commission was paid in the HDW Submarine deal and ordered inquiry. The price was immense. He was expelled from the Congress.

At the time when our politicians cling with power, Singh was remarkably different. He never sought power, it came to him naturally. He was chief Minister of Uttar-Pradesh in 1980 and launched an anti dacoit crusade but that became a political issue as many of the backward class MLAs charged that the police was killing innocent people from backward communities. In this entire exercise, his own brother, who was a senior Judge of Allahabad High Court, was also killed by the dacoit and owning moral responsibility, he resigned.

It is often said that VP Singh’s Mandal action was mindless political exercise and that he had no conviction. But people forget that the Raja of Manda had already donated his entire estate land in the Bhudan movement. While people might remember him for the acceptance of Mandal Commission Recommendations yet there are many things for which history will always be grateful to him. His Mandal was not just a job exercise but he became a pivotal force in uniting all the progressive forces for social justice. Singh not only gave Ambedkar a due place in the history of India, in the centenary celebration of Baba Saheb Ambedkar, the entire literature of Baba Saheb got translated in Hindi and made available to all the countrymen. Not only Baba Saheb Ambedkar was posthumously awarded Bharat Ratna, his photograph also adores the Parliament House, which should have been done long back. Today, Ambedkar Jayanti is a national holiday and all the governments have to publish tribute to Ambedkar on his birth and death ceremonies. Whether they do it out of conviction or compulsion that is another matter but VP initiated the process and they remain unchangeable now. These things might look smaller and political but they are important when we see it from historical perspective of the people whose history have always been denied and unacknowledged. Today, Mandal, social justice, Ambedkar are matter of research not just for the Dalits but for the upper caste also. Much of the credit goes to his government, which did not compromised on the pulls and pressure and was determined to implement it. One major decision that the National Front government took that time was to grant reservation to neobuddhists, the scheduled caste who embraced Buddhism. It was deservingly a long-standing demand from the Buddhist community.

V.P.Singh was a unique personality. He never believed in the institutional niceties. Very few among us know that he lost his kidney because he sat on a hunger strike against the Bombay riots in 1993. It was an unusual sight as a former prime minister was sitting on a hunger strike. To save himself from going out to urinate, he stopped taking water and in turn lost his kidneys. Today the same Mumbai is bleeding and much of its credit goes to inapt handling of the communal situation by the various Congress government there particularly of Sharad Pawar who refused to take action against the Shiv Sena’s goons.

His determination was absolutely unparallel. During the past twenty years when he was suffering from not only blood cancer and renal failure, he survived and became more creative. He would invite activists, journalists for discussion during his dialysis. He would join protest marches, Dharanas straight after coming from Dialysis. For hundreds of civil society activists, he was an inspiration. Of late, VP Singh knew that he has little in common with the political class and more with the creative people and civil society movements and he became more accessible to all of us. Whether it was the issue of dying farmers in Vidarbha, or the issue slum dwellers of Delhi Singh was moving from one place to other. His energy level could shame the youngsters. During his prime time, he resorted to unusual things. In the famous Allahabad by-election, he campaigned in the cycle only. When he was Chief Minister of Uttar-Pradesh, he campaigned in the public transport. In 1989 he canvassed the entire north India in his car. It is rare that he ever traveled by helicopter and special planes. Today, we cannot even imagine that our political class could do so as all these things have become their gadget and prestige symbols.

Few things are important before I finish this. VP Singh made history and at every place that he went he fought with the system. He was a part of system yet refused to accept its finality. He played by his own game. He remained absolutely clean till end. None of his detractors can charge him of any kind of red-tapism and corruption which are hall mark of today’s politics. Despite all the insult heaped on him by the Congress Party and later his own Janata detractors like Mulayam Singh Yadav, he rarely responded to these. He only responded to those who any one charges him of his personal integrity. Journalists like M.J.Akbar became pawn in big game to defame him. Later Arun Shourie became his bitter critique and switched side to BJP championing the cause of Hindutva. Some body should ask Shourie about his morality when he wrote reams of paper on corruption in Reliance in the Indian Express when Singh was finance Minister and had launched his campaign against Reliance Industries. Every one of us knows that he was switched from that ministry after industrialists complained against him.

The middle classes liked his act. The Brahmins anointed him the title of Rajyarshi in Varanasi. Everything was great and Singh’s shirt was brighter than Rajiv Gandhi and for that matter any other politician of his time. But everything changed suddenly as his determination to stop the demolition of Babari Masjid by arresting Lal Krishna Adwani and his continuation of the Mandal Recommendation. He did not compromised on two important aspects of Indian constitution namely social justice and secularism. Ironically, his government fell for fulfilling its constitutional obligation by protecting the Babari Masjid. In the entire process VP Singh made himself one of the most hateful politicians in the country. Abused were hurled at him. He was painted as Jaichand. The upper caste media was always scornful at him but they could not ignore him. He was considered as a backstabber in his community while he could not become the leader of the Dalit OBCs. But much of it happened because the time when the seeds of Mandal started reaping fruits, VP Singh’s health became a major issue. He survived for so long because of his creativity and determination to life and work.

The Hindutva fanatics new that the Mandal is the weapon, which will demolish the brahmanical hegemony and it, happened. 20 years after VP’s uncompromising stand, we are witnessing a strange U turn and all those champions of social justice are now returning the compliments to Brahmins and upper castes by offering them tickets and seats, just to secure their power in the state and for the center. An entire movement which would have demolished the brahmanical structure in India is now on the verge of collapse because of not only shortsightedness of the political class but also the lack of probity, democratic spirit and corruption with in the social justice movement. Our leaders will fail us, it need a statesman like VP Singh to unite them. In the death of VP Singh India has lost a historical opportunity to integrate forces of social justice. One will have to wait for some one of his stature who could put aside his personal ambition to unite all Dalit Bahujan communities in the mainstream political formation as we pass through dangerous period where the Hindu fascist forces with their Islamic cousins are ready to acquire mainstream political formation putting aside all the forces of social justice. When RSS and Arun Shourie start quoting Ambedkar, we must understand that time has come to be more proactive and take the threat seriously. And the threat is bigger. It is coming from a mixture of religious rights with capitalist formation, which are hell bent to acquire land from the Dalit Adivasis. VP Singh was well aware of this threat and therefore he was in the forefront of movements for Dalit Adivasis and their rights. He spoke against SEZs and displacement and led the historic Dadari’s farmers movement against land acquistion by Reliance. It is time our Dalit-Bahujan MPs understand the growing threat of Hindutva’s communal virus as well as anti people capitalist agenda and develop a workable rainbow coalition, which VP Singh proved could work wonder for the entire country. The Raja who created ripples in the Hindi heartland, on whose call thousands of youngsters would jump in the street, died as a lonely man yet he cared less. He lived life on his own. The media might ignore him, the upper caste still hate him but the GO that he passed will remain unchanged as now the time of Dalit Bahujan has come and no power can deny them their rights. Only problem is brahmanical crookedness and the only way to stop is in the democratic structure and high personal integrity of the political class, which are claiming to represent us. VP was acceptable to all because of his high personal integrity and his reach to all political formation. For any future formations in the center VP’s Mantra of governance is an essential ingredient for survival.

VP Singh is no more. His detractors are laughing, as there is not much news in the media. There were a handful of his supporters when the body was being taken from his house in Delhi to airport . He was not in to party politics but the legacy that he developed is now in the power structures. Lalu, Nitish, Ramvilas, Sharad Yadav, Mulayam Singh all became power elite and did not feel shame in making alliance with BJP on the one hand and with the corrupt middlemen and corporate. VP did not heed to any middlemen and at the end remained alone painting and writing poetry. His did not have many friends and political parties, nor did his family has any stake in politics and therefore people might say that he met with his fate he deserve. But then V P Singh never cared for all this, he did what he liked and lived according to his convictions and ideals. Every decision of his had become milestone and remain ingrained in our constitution now hence whether we they like or not but the ghost of Singh will always haunts those upper castes in India who continue to believe themselves superior and meritorious.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Join UPLA Padyatra for land rights of Tharus

Padyatra : Land, Dignity and Freedom

Participate and support people's initiative for strengthening tribal rights for livelihood

Dear Friends,
The Tarai region of Uttar-Pradesh is bordering with Nepal as well as the state of Uttarakhand is the land of Tharus, Boxas and Tongias. These communities are living in forests for hundred of years but today face threat for dislocation in the name of preseveration of forest and balancing ecological order. What an irnony that the protectors of forests are termed as a threat to forest. Many of the Tharu villages have already been destroyed by the forest officials. A powerful matrilineal community like Tharus are facing severe economic hardship. The culture of Tharuhut is visible in Lakhimpur Khiri, Banbasa, Sitarganj, Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar districts of both Uttar-Pradesh and Uttarakhand state. Due to negligence of the state authorities, the Tharus remained on margins and thoroughly isolated. There are no educational instituions in the areas. As most of them live in and around forest villages, the forest departments and its officials use Tharus as a tool to extract money. Adjecent to these areas is famous ' Dhuwa National Park'.
Tharus were owners of the forests. So were Boxas. Very little is known about their culture and history. In this region, the Tharus consider them as legatess of Rana Pratap. Their traditional land remain mortgaged to big land owners, the Sikhs from Punjab who have been responsible for a complete demographic change in the region. The Sikhs were located here by the government during the partition days but over the years the community have used their 'wisdom' to extract land from the illterate and poor tribals, the result is the growth of big and illegal farm houses in the region. Even when the land can not be sold to no tribal in this region, you will find to your utter surprise that Tharus and Boxas have become virtually beggers and slaves in their own land.
Apart from this, Dalit communities in Uttarakhadn state face complete isolation socially as well as politically. The battle for Escorts Farms limited in Kundeshwari reflect that anti Dalit stand of the Uttarakhand government. Despite winning the case in Supreme Court and reprimand by the Lokayukta, the government officials are shamlessly pursuing neo liberal agenda. Out 1167 hectares of land, they have distributed more than 450 to non Dalits and rest is going to horticulutre department and SIDCUL. The state authorities are hell bent not to give land to Dalits reflect the brahmanical nature of our state.
To raise the consciousness of these communities and highlight various such issues of land and forest rights violaion, Uttar-Pradesh Land Alliance is starting a foot march ( Padyatra) from December 13th, 2008. The Padyatra will begin from village Golbhojhi, Chandanchowki, Khiri district. It will cover many villages in the forest areas of Tharu locations. On 18th, it will enter Dhangarhi ( Nepal) where the Padyatris will halt for night and share their experiecnes with their Nepaliese counterparts.
The Padyatris will visit Mahendra Nagar, Nepal before entering to Banbasa, Uttarakhand in the night of December 20th. From there the Padyatra will visit the Tongia settlements in the forest areas who have not got their legal entitlment even years after living there. The yatra will cover, Khatima, Sisaikhera, Kichcha, Rudrapur, Kelakhaida and culminate at Kundeswari village, in Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar, where the Dalit landless workers have waged their constitutional fight against the mighty land owners and defeated them in the court of law and yet became victim of the highly insenstive Indian state for not implementation of the Supreme Court verdict, on December 28th, 2008.
Our Invitation : Uttar-Pradesh Land Allaince invite you to participate in the Yatra and donate in cash and kind for it. The weather conditions might be terribly cold so those who wish to participate here must bring their blankets and woolen cloths. Ofcourse, you will be able to see the Tharu hospility and wildlife. Dudhwa National Park is one of the biggest Wild Life Sanctury in the region. You will also find the uniquness of yatra entering Nepal and then to Uttarakhand and interact with the community people there also. UPLA remain committed to secular progressive ideals and is fighting against the caste oppression as well as women's right over resources hence our invitation extend to only those who respect basic human rights of communities and respect individual's right. We are committed to diversity and secular cause hence this invitation is not meant to those who want to flare of communal questions. More over, we believe that communities living for hundreds of years in forest can not be dislocated from their culture and history without fair consultation as well as rehabilitation in case it is essential. Please contact us in case you would like to participate or assist us. It is not necessary to be there for all 15 days but there is no bar on your stay. Our only thing is that the weatehr conditions will be unpredictable and severe cold, so those who enjoy naure and diversity, this is the right time. You must enjoy it and learn to live with communities and see how difficult they are facing their life. Yes, this Padyatra is a solidarity with all those communities who are denied human rights to live with dignity even 60 years after independence. It is our way to say that ' we care' for them and we stand with them in their struggles for dignity and human rights.
In Brief :
Date of starting : December 13th, 2008 at forest village Golbojhi, Chandanchowki, Khiri district UP
In Nepal on December 19th and 20th at Dhangarhi and Mahendra Nagar.
Entry in Uttarakhand through Banbasa on December 20th.
Culmination at : Kundeshwari, Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar district, on December 28th, 2008
For Uttar-Pradesh Land Alliance
Suman Singh,
Ms Munni Begum,
Vice President
Ram Chandra Prasad
Tharu Development Society
Uttarakhand Development Institute, Banbasa
Social Development Foundation,
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Social Development Foundation, Delhi

Dalit women's issue can not be left to men only

Samvad : Ms Rajni Tilak, Director, Centre for Alternative Dalit media and Dalit right activist

Ms Rajni Tilak, 50, is a Dalit human rights activist, writer, feminist. A fiercely independent woman, she has been a grassroots activist all along, supporting various issues of social and national concern. With her own admission, she says that she was born in a conservative family. She was the first to form a -progressive Student Organization in ITI Shahadara Delhi. Her education was very difficult, as her father never liked the idea of getting her educated beyond 11th standard. Her Mother however, was a strong votary of her education and she continued and finished her BA Rajni Tilak is now organising Dalit women and is also working with Center for Alternative Dalit Media (CADM). In a conversation with Vidya Bhushan Rawat, she explains why the Dalit movement need to rethink on the issue of women empowerment.

VB: Rajni, could you tell me your back ground. What were the conditions from which we grew up and how you cope with the social inequality? Dalits may be maltreated with the upper caste Hindus but when the family pattern is concern, they follow the same brahmanical feudal tendencies towards their woman. What is your impression about your society?

RT: I was a member of Progressive Dalit Organisation in 1978 and was instrumental in forming a college student union in ITI Shahdara, New Delhi. My father was a traditionalist and did not want me to go to college and hence my education was discontinued from 11th onward. My mother however, was progressive and allowed me to join technical courses in ITI for stenography and dress designing. I did BA as a private student and started school for Dalit students in slums of Seelampur. Most of our stduents were Dalits and Muslims. We organised the Anganwadi workers in Delhi and made a trade union of theirs. About 4000 Anganwadi workers were demanding for a proper pay scale as they were just being provided with an honorarium for their work, with no social security. Then I was appointed in a government service in Mumbai and later on transferred to Delhi, where I started working with Saheli a women’s right group.

VB: What were your experiences with Saheli. Traditionally, the women’s group in India have rarely questioned the patriarchal structure of society and secondly most of them have been out of touch with the Dalit woman who is the most oppressed as she has to face two stigmas in the society: one being a woman and other of a Dalit. Please comment?

RT: Actually, at Saheli, women’s issues were never meant for the poor women. They were for the high society basically counseling the upper middle classes regarding the marriage, divorce. They would often term that women don’t have caste. they all are oppressed. How could I agree to such a notion? How can u say that the all women are same? The same upper caste women would never allow the dalit women to roam near them.

VB : Rajani, what were your objection to Women’s reservation bill?

RT : You know the first thing they have to realise is the difference between a Dalit women and caste women. After years of struggle for social justice, now members from lower sections of society are making it to Parliament and state assemblies. This is not an old phenomenon but a post 90s situation. Now, the brahmanical forces are apprehensive of this unity and majority of the down trodden in the top decision making body. So, they have come with the argument of women’s reservation. The point is that they are not interested in women’s emancipation. Hindutva cannot emancipate women. Secondly, our problem is that dalit women are not educated and don’t easily come up. If reservation were not made for them, the entire women’s seat would be taken over by the upper caste women. It will again be the brahmanical rule in India through their women. The women from minorities, and other backward classes have the similar problem and hence the government must ensure reservation of seats for them as well.

VB : But Rajni, don’t you think that when a Bhagwati Devi, who is a Mushhar,( a Dalit community in Bihar and UP, who were among the most oppressed, eating rat was their profession), can come to Parliament without any reservation, Dalit and other women can also make it there. Don’t you think that in actual, our political class as a whole doesn’t want women’s reservation as most of them fear to lose their seats of Parliament. Don’t you think that even if reservation is provided for Dalits, OBCs and Minority women, it would be the beti-bahu-biwi brigade who will gain and not the grass root activists like you. How do you confront this issue?

RT: Yes, I agree with this. Women’s situation in the Dalit movement is really bad. It is still in the grip of brahmanical standard, middle class values where women is considered as an object and if you challenge these notion than you are treated as faminist. The problem is that Dalits are borrowing all the rubbish of brahmanism as if our goal is brahmanism. Our problem is that we don’t except that we are exploited in the society. We need more struggles for women’s emancipation. So far we are unable to come out of the brahmanical Sanskaras, which means some women may be economically independent but not independent for decision making. So, we need to reject this Hippocratic value system in the name of culture but unfortunately, these things are coming without any fight and hence it cannot change the system. For changing the system we have to reject the religious code because religion is the root of exploitation of women and at present the women’s who form our political leadership whether Dalits or non Dalits are unable to come out of this patriarchal structure.

VB: Coming to your patriarchal point, let me narrate an often-used phrase among the Dalit intellectuals. ‘Roji-beti’ ka rishta, they would often term whenever they are questioned about a dialogue among various Dalit groups. Don’t you think that as a rationalist dalit activist, such terminology’s which make women as product are contemptuous and must be rejected henceforth?

RT : Yes, ofcourse. I find it strange that while the upper caste women are getting in to love marriages, self arrange system, our society is more and more isolating itself from others. We have our own ghettoes. The same people, who cry loud on this, would find it difficult to digest if their daughter get married outside their caste fold and without family permission. I have seen how many of them tried to stop the marriages of their daughters and relatives if she did it without their prior permission. Dalit males are more rigid in their attitude towards their women.

VB : Don’t you think that we are too much in symbolism than working at the grassroots. I mean to say : many Ambedkarite would ask about your biradari and caste and religion before believing you. Dr Ambedkar was an iconoclast yet the number of his statutes are increasing.. His disciples are satisfied with them only?

RT: Yes, the fact is that these so-called Ambekdarites have lost touch with the masses. When you lose touch with masses, you lose your legitimacy and to legitimise yourself you are in the symbol business. We have seen people criticising Brahmanical religion yet

On the 6th December and 14th April worship Babasaheb like any other godly idols. Is it correct? Why to follow the Brahmanical pattern. We need to strengthen our identity and assertion of identity is not in symbols but in ideology. Unfortunately, the ideological part is missing from those who make much hype on symbol still people are fighting at the grassroots and reading literature on Ambedkar and by Ambedkar.

VB: Do you think we need to highlight contribution of other people who fought for Dalit rights and social justice apart from Dr Ambedkar?

RT: Baba Saheb Ambedkar is the root of Dalit identity and we must propagate him to enlighten the Dalit communities yet there is also a dire need to focus on other great Dalit intellectuals and leaders like Jyoti Ba Phule, Savitri Bai Phule, EV Ramaswamy Naicar, Srinarayan Guru and other local heroes who have never been highlighted. And that’s why our National Federation of Dalit Women, we decided to bring more about women Dalit leaders. I wrote a book on Savitri Bai Phule which was very well received as people want to read about the struggles of these people and who else could be the best person to be followed regarding women’s education than Savitri Bai Phule who fought against the upper caste tyranny on Dalit women for educating them.

VB : What are you doing to popularise the Dalit literature ?

RT : We are already doing many thing through CADAM which is Center for Alternative Dalit Media. It was an alternative media to voice the issues of Dalits. We decided to print literature on Dalits intellectuals and leaders and provide them to masses on cheaper rates. Our monthly journal ‘Abheemooknayak’ is already reaching to a large number of Dalit activists and we plan to popularise books through this channel. We want to publish small booklets so that people can easily read them and keep them safe. Big books are costly as well as people don’t read them.

VB : What do you think the impact of Economic Policies on Dalits ? Many Dalit ideologues support economic liberlisation as an instrument, which will liberlise Dalits ?

RT : How can the economic policies help the Dalits ? It has already hit them with shrinking government and public sector? Will the private companies or multinationals go for job reservations for Dalits ? In the villages their traditional occupations are under threat? I don’t understand how people come to conclusion that economic liberlisation will help liberlise dalits ? Today, our economic sovergnity is under threat. The multinationals are coming and they will rule the country through the local ruling elite.

None of them will offer jobs to dalits. The jobs will only be in the fourth class. Another important point to mention is education sector, which is going to be costlier. Where will poor dalits, agricultural labour, landless worker send his children if government schools are closed ? Even the middle classes will find it difficult to work. There is no place for health security. Government hospitals are good for nothing yet they used to provide some satisfactions. Today everything government is considered bad. Today the concept of welfare state is considered to be outdated but can we do justice with dalits without being a welfare state? How can any one supporting the NEP will be a supporter of Dalit cause. Dalits are getting more marginalised in the new pattern of things and we must expose them and oppose them vociferously.

VB: What do you think about the role of International institutions, especially Ambedkarites living abroad? And how could they help the existing dalit movement in India.

RT: So far the International Dalits have never helped the grassroots movements in India. They should institute some fellowships and other financial help to those who have been working for the Dalit cause, so that they don’t depend on others. Let me make it clear that NGOs could be good at education, literacy, developmental work but they cannot make a movement. A movement could only built by the inherent ideological strength of the people. Fortunately Dalits have that ideological strength in the form of Ambedkarite movement, Periyar’s movement in Tamilnadu and that of Jyotiba Phule’s movement in Maharastra. Dalit movement has to be radical in approach and anti brahmanism is the root of dalit movement and dalit ideology.

VB: What about political power for Dalits? Don’t you think without social transformation things are getting worst?

RT: We must be politically conscious but not ambitious. From ambition I don’t mean we should not be ambitious but the internal unity and inner dalit dialogue is getting hampered with various ambitious people in different communities. Their political ambition is the root of all the problems and failure of different communities coming together. Rather than political ambition, if we mobilise people on social basis, I am sure the unity will be stronger than the political unity. Look at 1992 SPBSP combine had attained political unity but social unity was never there and hence it broke with the egos of our political leaders. Dalits issue is not simply with politics and political representation. It is a social battle. a battle of honour and human rights of every dalits so

we have to fight a long term battle. The NGO culture in Dalits need to rejected, as it will be harmful for the movement. NGOs can do good work in different fields but definitely they cannot make a movement. And for the liberation of Dalits we need strong radical anti brahmin movement which should be based on rationality. In the absence of a movement we will not be able to make a pressure on the government.

VB : Finally, Rajni, do you think that time has come now for dalit women to ask for their reservation with in dalit quota?

RT : Yes, it is important that Dalit women be given reservation within Dalit quota otherwise the male chauvinism will kill the dalit movement. It will remain as brahmanic as any body else.. Perhaps more brahmanic then the bramins themselves as we have not allowed our women to come forward. In the absence of women quota, rigidity against women will continue as everybody want to use his quota for his son. It is important that we raise this issue now but the problem is if I raise this question many people will term me a faminist or talking against the interest of Dalits. Is it wrong to talk for the liberation of Dalit women and demand for reservation with in the quota.

VB : Almost 15 years later Mandal II again threatened the very dignity of the Dalits even when they were not at all benefited from it. Interestingly, this time, there was not much protest even from the upper castes. A handful of urban elite led by the uppercaste doctors of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, this time it was a media event. As a person doing much work with the issue of alternative media, what do you think, should, the intellectuals of Dalit movements as well as those of the other marginalized communities do? Where did the upper caste media fault reporting the Mandal events ?

Rajni : Actually whenever people talk of reservation there is a wrong feeling about SCs and STs getting benefited from it. The same thing happened with the anti mandal agitation which had nothing to do with the Dalits, as it was more for the OBCs. Today, reservation is for women also but when the doctors agitated they unnecessarily brought the issue of Dalits as if they were getting benefited from the current sort of reservation. Media showed a bias against the Dalit doctors. When they protested in Patna, it was reported that they attacked the media. Media itself became a party in the entire campaign against the Dalits.

It is not that Dalit did not respond to this. Unfortunately, it is the Dalits only who were visible supporting the reservation issue. The OBCs who were to be benefited from this were seen no where. Where were they ? Perhaps, they did not want to come along with the Dalits. I am shocked that Gujars who fought for separate reservation in Rajasthan asking quota from tribal quota did not join the protest in support of quota at the AIIMS. Perhaps because the Gujars themselves practice untouchability with the Dalits and would never like to stand with them. In this entire exercise women are completely left behind. Dalit/OBC/minority women did not even know whether something was being done for them. None of our leaders talked about it.

VB: Even after the Durban summit, gender issue remains on the margin with in the Dalit movement. Does the issue of gender really threaten the Dalit movement as some of the ‘thinkers’ perceive. What should the movement and its leaders do to change this situation. Do you think that this is an important issue and need priority.

Rajni: This is unfortunate because men feel insecure. It is this fear that women are being pitted against them to thwart the movement is a completely brahmanical idea of patriarchy. How can we allow such brahmanical values dominate our movement. It is important that we allow women to participate in higher level bodies. Allow them to participate in the movements from very beginning and you will never find any shortage of women leaders in the movement.

VB : What do you really think of empowerment ? In Uttar-Pradesh, BSP is in power with Mayawati as chief Minister. The upper castes are happy on the ‘social engineering’ done by bahinji but the fact is that the real losers are the Dalits as their participation has reduced. The assault on them continue without any reduction and Brahmins are enjoying the most glorious moments of their life in UP and its power game. Where are Dalits and dalit women in particular in this entire exercise.

Rajni: Actually what Mayawati is doing is ‘mainstreaming’ the Dalit politics but the problem lies in this ‘mainstreaming’ as it ignore the demands and issues of the Dalit masses and caters the need of the ‘others’. She is doing everything that every other party is doing. There is nothing called social engineering. Congress was doing it earlier. BJP has done it, Samajwadi Party was doing it. However, I can not call Mayawati, a feminist leader in any term as women are rarely the strength of BSP. She has rarely spoken in term of woman, neither does she want to be categorized as woman’s leader only. But that apart, there is no extra effort on her part to give women a chance in her party. That is painful. There are not even one percent women leaders in BSP. A leader can put her vision into the party and people will follow that but unfortunately that has not happened. People feel community empowerment is more important than woman. A woman is never part of our power structure whether in party or in community.

However whatever she ( Mayawati) is doing it is more as politics of tokenism yet despite this for millions of Dalit masses she is a hope. Hope that she would get them justice, a woman who could be prime minister of India and is fighting against every odd. It is dangerous and the biggest damage is being done to Ambedkarite values and ideas. How can there be a politics sitting with the exploiters and casteist people. How can we claim to be legatee of Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule and others if we sit with those whose very ideas are very antithesis of the foundation of Dalit movement. But this is not the end. I am hopeful that people will learn from these experiments and will find new alternatives in future.

VB : In the past one decade we have seen the growth of the Dalit writers. There is talk of ‘ Dalit Sahitya’. Lot of new definitions came up. Particularly in Hindi, a number of women writers are also coming up. What difference you see between the traditional writings by the Dalit activists and new writing emerging from the Dalit women. What is the difference between the perception of the Dalit women with that of the mainstream Dalit writings.

Rajni : Many in the women’s movement today support the rights of the women to ‘use’ their bodies. Now we are using legitimate words like ‘Sex workers’ and fight for their rights. From a Dalit perspective where do you differ. Agreed that women have a right to ‘use’ their bodies but the main question is how many of them are really using it freely and independently. And in the din of all these, are we not forgetting the grave fact that a majority of women brought up in the brothels do not go out of their own choices but are due to trafficking. Most of the Dalit and Advasi girls are not there out of their choice but because of forces operating in the villages, who make money at the cost of the dignity and choices of Dalit and Adivasi women and perhaps that is a clear difference of perception here with that of Dalit women.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Salute to a brave soul who fought for her honor in Orissa

A story for serious follow up and not for big TRPs of the channels.

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

They came in large number with their OB vans, photographers and anchor persons. Much before she could come and join the press, the hall at the Indian Social Institute in Delhi was fully overcrowded. Every body present thought that for that day there was enough ‘news’ to spread the TRPs. I had never seen such a ‘concern’ from the commercial media for the communal violence against the Christians, so it was quite surprising that the popular faces of the TV were there to broadcast live the ‘historic’ press conference.

Yes, I am talking about Sister Meena, an Adivasi nun who was raped by the Hindutva’s thugs in kandhamal district of Orissa On August 24th. In her statement made to the press

She said, “

On August 24th, around 4:30 pm, hearing the shouting of a large crowd, at the gate of Divyajyoti Pastoral Centre, I ran out through the back door and escaped to the forest along with others. We saw our house going up in flames. Around 8:30 pm we came out of the forest and went to the house of a Hindu gentleman who gave us shelter.

On 25th August, around1:30 pm,the mob entered the room where I was staying in that house, one of them stopped me on my face, caught my hair and pulled me out of the house. Two of them were holding my neck to cut off my head with axe. Others told them to take me out to the road; I saw Fr. Chellan also being taken out and being beaten. The mob consisting of 40–50 men was armed with lathis, axes, spades, crowbars, iron–rods, sickles etc. They took both of us to the main road. Then they led us to the burnt down Janavikas building saying that they were going to throw us into the smouldering fire.

When we reached the Janavikas building, they threw me to the verandah on the way to the dining room which was full of ashes and broken glass pieces. One of them tore my blouse and others my undergarments. Father Chellan protested and they beat him and pulled him out from there. They pulled out my saree and one of the stepped on my right hand and another on my left hand and then a third person raped me on the verandah mentioned above. When it was over, I managed to get up and put my petticoat and saree. Then another young man caught me and took me to a room near the staircase. He opened his pants and was attempting to rape me when they reached there.

I hid myself under the staircase. The crowd was shouting "where is that sister, come let us rape her, at least 100 people should rape." They found me under the staircase and took me out to the road. There I saw Fr. Chellan was kneeling down and the crowd was beating him. They were searching for a rope to tie us both of us together to burn us in fire. Someone suggested to make us parade naked. They made us walk on the road till Nuagoan market which was half a kilometer from there. They made to fold our hands and walk. I was with petticoat and saree as they had already torn away my blouse and undergarments. They tried to strip even there and I resisted and they went on beating me with hands on my cheeks and head and with sticks on my back several times.'

I am not putting the entire text which is already available to various websites where the nun says openly how the police never protected her and it was not even doing its basic duty of filing her FIR. Instead, it discouraged her from doing so. Her horror story moved every one but more than that was her immense courage to come in the forefront against the guilty who are being protected by the inefficient and corrupt state government of Orissa. For the past one year, the Hindutva’s hate campaign against the Christian missionaries in Orissa and other parts of the country have not resulted in anything. Despite the terror the work of these communities in the far flung areas of the country is praise worthy. Despite all the blames of evangelism, the work of the missionaries in the poor communities in India is unparallel. No one can deny the fact that such an enormous amount of work particularly in the health and educational sector in India is much disproportionate to the number of the community in the country, which denied education to large part of the its masses named as Dalit-Bahujans and an educational set up dominated by brahmanical elites of the country.

Orissa’s horror story did not end in frightening the community workers. It is terror in all the forms. From burning the churches, demolishing their holy book, to attacking the social institutions of the community and even when such things fails to dampen the spirit of the community then the final assault. And the final assault is in the form of molestation, rape and indignity heaped upon women and men both. It is beyond shock that such mishaps of history are defended shamelessly on the television channels and widely circulated internet debates.

So, it was refreshing to see a large number of media persons to show their concern when they received an intimation for the press conference of Sister Meena. The timing was accurate at 2 pm. But the entire media was much before the organizers could make it there. The TV Cameras, the photographers, the anchors cum reporters, every one was settling for the final moments. There were cries from behind where the full team of camera persons were ready to ‘shoot’ the minutes details. The still photographers were preparing for the final assault.

Around 2 pm, as Father Dominic Emanuel came and announced modalities of the press conference saying that the sister would read her statement to the press and nothing more and nothing less. He made it clear that no further question would be taken in this regard as the sister was not in a position to speak and also the matter was subjudice.

The journalists, particularly from the electronic media were shocked as they thought of having an ‘exclusive’ interview with sister. They thought that the sister would give them lucid details of the incidents and then they would run it for several days like what they have been doing regarding Arushi murder case or Jessica Lal murder case. They perhaps forgot that a victim of the feudal communal mindset in India need a lot more than just courage to speak to the national media. Even when many of the Sangh Parivar people say that the charges of rapes were false, I do not want to comment on the hired pen-pushers who do not have the courage to come open and accept that something horrible has happened. The sister’s narration moved every one who understands that how a woman mustered courage to speak of her plight to the ‘national’ media. It is time to stand with her and provide her mental support. We all know what happened to kandhamal and that if Hindu Rastra becomes a reality in this country, it would be a Kandhamal kind of rastra. Remember, a Hindu Rastra would be a great calamity for India, warned Ambedkar.

The irony is that some of the Church people from Orissa went and met Mr Lal Krishna Advani, just a few days before nun’s press conference and Advani in turn expressed his ‘gratitude’ to the missionaries as how he studied in Christian schools. He then went on to condemn the incident of rape on the nun and said that there should be dialogue among all the religion. Now, somebody, should have told Advani that this is not a question of dialogue but bringing culprits to the book. Those who initiate such a dialogue with a criminal gang are criminal and have betrayed their very cause. The nun has her original identity as a tribal from Orissa and it is important to understand that she paid a price of her faith. Sangh Parivar’s loyal intellectuals would always like to debate and then justify their positions after each event. If we continue to legitimize them by initiating a dialogue with them we make them representative of non Christians-non Muslim population of India which is highly objectionable. The Muslims and the Christians who initiative such a fake religious dialogue with them must be isolated and boycotted.

Finally, the sister arrived with her face covered with mask escorted by responsible friends like John Dayal and others but see the rush among the photographers. They heckled with each other to take photograph of the nun with different angle. It was just shocking to see how they were just fighting to take per photographs as if it was a photo session with a Bombay beauty queen. There was no understanding that a victim of the fascist onslaught was here to explain her plight. In a civilized society a victim of a such a horrible act would have found enough people from media and civil society speaking on her behalf but the scandalous silence of these sections of the society, added with Sangh Parivar’s assertion that she was lying as if a woman is very happy to say that she was raped, compelled the sister to speak to the media. It is further when the state government and its police which was unable to protect the nun from the humiliation. The state government wanted her to identity the accused in Orissa itself without giving her due protection. It needs not to be elaborated here how Orissa and Kandhamal district in particular have become an area where Christians are being targeted and hounded. And the government’s inaction has further deteriorated the situation with Christians still finding it difficult to return their home. In such a scenario when the media has no time to follow up their own stories, a brave woman speak her plight should have been welcomed. A society where the victim is asked to prove her innocence can not be termed as civilized society and those who claim for it must hang their head in shame. We must admit that we live in one of the most brutal society and the only civilized thing about us is our civilized constitution without being effectively used to protect its citizens who need it.

Many in the crowd said that there was nothing wrong in photographers taking the photos in such a way. It was great that media was present but it should properly think that not everything is meant to strengthen your TRPs. A person’s plight needs to be heard properly. If you need to take photographs to do your ‘professional’ duty, do it with grace, understanding the importance and seriousness of the issue. I know these days the TV cameras are everywhere even when the dead bodies go from the family and the reporters are asking the family people ‘ how are you feeling’. But it is not just media fault. People are also eager to see their faces on TV and print so we see they do ‘speak’ on the camera how ‘great’ their dear one was.

One thing is clear that the friends in support of Sister including CBCI need our solidarity for not making this incident cheap and vulgar. Friends like John Dayal and others handled this issue graciously and did not allow the ‘crazy’ media anything that would be termed a cheap publicity. Secondly, by supporting the sister’s courageous act of speaking to the nation her plight and her conviction to get justice, need to be encouraged. In this country the exploiters, rapists, and all those anti social elements get away with the law because the victims are victimized more than the tormentors. The Christian community has shown their great courage by siding with the sister. Let the media put pressure on the government of Orissa as well as the central government to act on the issue fast and get the sister a justice. Tragically, nothing has happened and the media will wait for another juicy story to which can raise their TRPs and the Hindutva terror would go unabated all over the country and the victims of this terror would rarely find space in our national media unless there is some ‘masala’ in it. One sincerely hope that with this press conference, the media will understand that serious issues need to be tackled seriously and they are not here to get more advertisement and market their channels. Let us see how many of them turn up to cover the issues if the CBCI organize another press conference related to violence against Christians in any part of the country. One hope the editors are listening and will do the needful. One can only hope that such atrocious and tedious process of law will not demoralize her further. Let us salute her spirit to get justice. Let us stand with her in this hour of crisis. Let us hope she get justice so that our faith in the institution of law remains intact.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Politics of identity and Identity of politics in India

India’s nationhood challenged by multiple identities

Politics of Identity is literally the identity of politics in India

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Assam is burning today. Latest reports suggests that over 75 people have been killed and scores of other injured in the 13 bomb blasts that ripped through several districts of the state yesterday ( October 30th, 2008). The intelligence’s needle of suspicion is on Huji militants and United Liberation Front of Assam ( ULFA). Just a few weeks back, several villages of Muslims were burnt and it looked that Assam might return to the horror stories of February 18, 1983 when in Nellie alone witnessed the worst ever carnage, brutal killings of about 3300 people in just one day.

Assam has been too sensitive to the issue of immigrants and over the past fifty years a huge chunk of Bangla immigrants have infiltrated in the state creating panic of a demographic change in the state. It is not just the Muslim immigrants which the Hindutva organizations often blame, but also the dominance of Bangla speaking people have become a bone of contention in the north east. Last year, the Hindi speaking people from Bihar were targeted in Guwahati and other parts of Assam.

But Assam is not alone in its antipathy towards the immigrants. Maharastra is in the turmoil and the fire is lit by none other than Raj Thackrey and his private limited company ‘ Maharastra Nav Nirman Sena’ or MNS. This time the target is poor taxi drivers, milk sellers, vegetable vendors from Hindi speaking states particularly Bihar and Uttar-Pradesh. The MNS says that these people have over burdened the city of Mumbai and snatched the jobs from the locals. Unfortunately, Raj and his MNS have no complaint against the industries being run by Sindhis, Marwadis, Sikhs, Parsis and Guaratis. It is also interesting that Bombay was actually never really a showcase of Maharastra, as Pune on one side and Nagpur on the other were the true symbol of Maharastra. Every body knows that Maharastra has a big heritage and a pan Indian identity of both the Dalit-Bahujan legacy as well as Hindutva protagonists. In terms of Hindutva, Nagpur became the headquarter of the Sangh and Tilak, Savarkar became the masters of Hindutva in India. But most astonishing part of the Maharastra legacy is the rise of revolt in the form of Ambedkar, Jyoti Ba Phule and Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj. Thanks to rising consciousness among the marginalised these legends are now recognizable faces all over the country.

Language nationalism started from Tamilnadu when Periyar and his self respect volunteers rightfully targeted the imposition of Hindi all over the states where Hindi was just a foreign language. Periyar’s fear was that this Hindisation of Tamilnadu will be a death knell for the Dravidian Tamil culture. There might have been other reasons also for the anti Hindi agitation but there were not many immigrants from the Hindi heartland. The real thing was that Madras, the state capital, had a majority of non Tamil people basically Telugu speaking and they had their own grievances against the dominance Tamil identity. The struggle for Telengana was basically assertion of an identity which looked themselves different from Tamil and the result was the formation of an Andhra State for the Telugu speaking people in 1953.

Similarly, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh were carved out of Punjab to protect the ‘Hindi’ speaking people whose language was not Punjabi. The fact of the matter was that most of them had Punjabi as their mother tongue but they opted for a Hindi state on utterly communal lines. Abohar and Fazilka, the two towns of Haryana became bone of contention in the reorganization of state as Punjab claimed them. Like wise, Kerala became a state for the Malayalam speaking people while Karnataka for Kannada.

Indian people have multiple identities. And the most important one these days were caste identity. A veteran like Editor of Dalit Voice, V.T.Rajshekar says that caste is the most important among these identities as every Indian asserts his/her caste identity more than anything else. Caste surpasses even the religious identities. Interestingly, when the states were reorganized, they thought that the language was unifying force. Definitely not. The interest of the Dalits in Maharastra are very much different than the interest of the upper caste Marathas. In fact, it was the Shiv Sena and its goons that went bloody to oppose the name of Marathwada University in the name of Dr Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar University in the mid eighties. Was Baba Saheb not a Maharastrian ? Was he not educated? But then, the Shiv Sena which claims to champion the Marathi Manoos, does not have these identities as main identity. Identity for them is to gain power and serve the interest of their own goons. Otherwise, why has the Hindutva exposed itself at the micro level when it was championing the cause of the ‘Hindus’ of India? It indicates how the ‘nationalism’ cracks in India and simply identify with your ethnic identities. It is used in the regional context if the person claiming its legacy has his option limited to state. So for Raj Thackerey and other in his family pan Hindutva identity remains unbeneficial and therefore they have started this Marathi-non-Marathi debates.

The politics of India has changed very much in the past 20 years. Hence the regional identities have been replaced by the caste identities. There was a time when the language was big meeting point but in the post Mandalised India, it is the caste which is becoming more uniting factor and hence the usage of this identity is not just the domain of the Dalits and OBCs alone but also the Brahmins. Hence, if you go to interior of Tamilnadu today, where the most oppressed Paraya or Arundhatiar may not know anything about the culture of the north, but definitely feel proud in owning Mayawati as his hailing from his community. Similarly, Ambedkar, Bhagat Singh, Gandhi and Subhash have crossed all the boundaries of region and languages. They are not confined to one language and are worshipped by their own followers.

But it is also true that language can be a strong cultural identity as happened during the time of creation of Bangladesh. Pakistan came into being in the name of Muslim identity and Urdu became its ‘national language’ ignoring the vast majority of Bangla speaking people as well as dominating Punjabi Muslims. When Jinnah went to deliver his first lecture as Governor General of Pakistan in the Dhaka University Campus immediately after the creation of Pakistan and declared that ‘Urdu shall be the national language of Pakistan’, the students pelted stones and threw chappals at him. The issue of Bangla nationalism was so strong that Urdu and Pakistan became its first victims. Unfortunately, it is not just the language identity which made some people superior and other inferior. Reading through the texts of some of Pakistani generals felt that the people of East Bengal were inferior to those of West Pakistan. Clear enough, the caste identities of superior race dominated the consciousness of Pakistan and Urdu a language of the pure remained isolated in the Punjabi dominated Pakistan.

But in the modern politics of identities in India, it is actually either religious or caste identity that is becoming dominating. The Hindi speaking Uttar-Pradesh is being demanded to be partitioned to at least five states of Harit Pradesh, Poorvanchal, Bundelkhand, Avadh and Ruhailkhand. Uttarakhand, Chhatishgarh and Jharkhand were carved out of their mother states because of ‘distinct’ cultural identity. While Chhatishgarh and Jharkhand had a long history of the Adivasi movement for separate state, Uttarakhand state had anti reservation movement as the focal point of their separation from Uttar-Pradesh which was under the domination of Dalit Bahujan identities. Identities are carefully crafted and hence at the one end when Uttar-Pradesh’s political forces combined Dalit-Bahujan to dislodge to the brahmanical hegemony, polity has taken a completely U turn against the same ideological perception and Bahujan has been recreated as Sarvjan. In the Uttarakhand state, issue of plain verses hill became dominant ignoring the basic difference between Kumauon verses Garhwal. In both the assembly elections Uttarakhand’s Brahmins carefully drafted these identities to benefit them. Hence when Congress was in power it made N.D.Tiwari, the chief minister of the state just ignoring the claim of Harish Rawat, who was the president of the party and led it to the victory and when the BJP came to the power, it made B.C.Khanduri, another Brahmin, but this time from Garhwal, in the name of Garhwali sentiments, as chief minister again ignoring the claim of the Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, who has the majority support of M.L.As.

The BJP created the three states out of its own compulsions. It knew well that it was difficult for it to regain power either in Bihar and Uttar-Pradesh, as both the states have been the biggest hurdles in Sangh Parivar’s agenda for spreading the communal venom. Also, both the states have been successfully able to contain the communal virus because of the massive Dalit Bahujan alliance. Ofcourse, this alliance itself has lot of contradictions which are being used and co-opted by the Sangh Parivar yet both UP and Bihar have shown that caste consciousness in broader sense has been able to contain the hegemony of the brahmanical structure, though the ideology is difficult to get defeated because of the cooption of the political class and our antipathy for the values of human dignity and individual’s supremacy. So, in the name of identity, we have seen the rise of the brahmanical forces in these smaller states. All the three newly carved states of Chhatishgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand are new experimenting ground of Hindutva with tribal, Dalits and OBCs trapped in their various contradictions being used by the brahmanical elites.

While language became the main focus of formation of state but as the new forces of interest are coming in, one hegemony is being challenged by the other one and those who do not have the numbers are the most isolated ones. The problem in the Indian subcontinent is our deep disregard for the minority rights. Experience has shown that the politics of identity is often detrimental for the individuals and minorities unless they have the power to challenge. It has often shown contempt for dissent and often poor people become victim of its ‘ultra-nationalist’ approach. Hence, the slogan of Jai Maharastra is nothing but a signals to those who are not born Marathi that they can not claim the legacy of the state as Marathi nationalism is quintessentially an upper caste Marathi dominance.

At the time when the Dalit-Bahujan consciousness at political level in Maharastra was threatening the status quo, this issue has divided people on language line. Congress used

the growing discontents in the state against the MNS for its own purpose and result would be a compulsion for the north Indians to join forces with Congress to ‘save’ multiculturalism. Already, Muslims are at the receiving end from the Shiv Sena and now this situation has further polarized the society.

Therefore, India needs a state reorganization commission. It need strong secular laws so that narrow chauvinism in the name of identities be dealt with strong hand. Hatred in the name of identity is in fact hidden apartheid where the sole aim of such forces is to maintain the status quo. Demand for separate state like Telengana are quite old but that need to be seen in a different track now. One must not forget that Andhra Pradesh came into being after much struggle in the name of Telugu identity, very similar to Gujarat’s separation from Maharastra. The problem in carving out these states was ignoring the claims of the Muslims and Urdu language. Urdu, a language born in India is slowly dying

Muslims seems to paying a price for the partition of India even after so many years. Every one except the Muslims demand for separate states since others got a right for their ‘legitimate’ demands. The political class in India needs serious thinking and secular law must be implemented because for every parochial demand if we start separate state because all of us do not want any dissent and disagreement will lead to further crisis in India. State can not be created to satisfy demands of a few individuals and their caste fellows. Hence, time has come for government to seriously think over the state reorganization commission and seriously ponder over the issues. A secular India can not allow state hood to fulfill Hindutva’s hidden agenda of brahmanical dominance which is severely under strain after the assertions of the marginalized communities. Any demand for separate state based on communal hatred need to be out rightly rejected. Statehood need to be developed on the rightful demands of the marginalized communities and not to maintain status quo for a few power Hungary politicians and their families.