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The Dalits lose their mirror & Ramdhan

by Chandrabhan Prasad

Despite having been close to becoming the first Dalit Chief Minister of UP, Ramdhanji has died an unsung death. On May 23, 2001, Dalits lost the mirror which most truthfully reflected the social contradictions of the "cow belt". Read More Ramdhanji supported Indira Gandhi to the hilt during the Congress' first split in 1969. The Rightist wing, led by Kamraj, SK Patil, Nijalingappa and Atulya Ghosh, was opposing Indira for her economic policies, which included the nationalisation of private banks. They had the ideological backing of Morarji Desai who, too, was opposed to the idea of nationalising private banks.

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BJP and its suicidal tendencies

 

Chandra Bhan Prasad

(Originally published in The Pioneer on August 28, 2001)

Was LK Advani's Ram Rath a ploy to fight the Mandal Commission or only a tool with which to mobilise Hindus around the Ram Mandir issue? What must have been an electoral calculation - a subtle opposition to Mandal will earn the party upper caste votes - actually began to work when the Congress begun hobnobbing with "Mandal" parties! Read More But did a Hindutva design bring the BJP to power? With the Babri demolition, Hindu mobilisation had reached its zenith. Yet, the BJP was not able to capture power.

That must have shaken the BJP's belief in Hindutva. The BJP had by then realised that a rabid anti-minority policy wouldn't bring the Hindus into its fold - as Varna/Caste identities still prevailed over Hindutva.

This atmya-gyan forced the BJP to dilute its Hindutva card and instead, play the caste card. In this new awakening, the BJP seems to have charted out a new plank - one which says that anti-Dalit sensibilities can be used to garner the support of the upper castes (15%) and OBCs (46%) who, together, make up about 61 per cent of India's population. The BJP seems to have, temporarily, succeeded as it holds power at the Centre. But what the party has not foreseen, is that Shudra platforms such as the TDP/DMK/Samata/JD(U) etc are only building up their strength after the collapse of the Third Front, and that they are likely to challenge the BJP in the near future - as they have historically always challenged the upper Castes.

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They 'the people', we 'the untouchables'

by Chandrabhan Prasad

 

It can happen only in India. In the US or South Africa, it will be beyond anybody's imagination to indulge in any race-related discourse without involving Blacks. Last Sunday, Star News organised a debate on caste in We The People, hosted by Barkha Dutt, otherwise a fairly "secular" person by persuasion and self-consciously a liberal.

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A safe distance from peace activism

by Chandrabhan Prasad

Late in the evening of September 1, the Kingsmead stadium at Durban witnessed a keen contest of ideas and agendas. That evening, the World NGO Forum finalised the Declaration, which was to be submitted to Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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Nation and civilisation

by Gail Omvedt

To hold that distinctions of caste are really distinctions of race and to treat different castes as though they were so many different races is a gross perversion of the facts. What affinity is there between the Brahman of the Punjab and the Brahman of Madras? What affinity is there between the Untouchable of Bengal and the Untouchable of Madras? The Brahman of the Punjab is racially the same stock as the Chamar of the Panjab, and the Brahman of Madras is the same race as the Pariah of Madras. Caste system does not demarcate racial division.''

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Liberty, Equality, Community

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar's Vision Of A New Social Order

by Gail Omvedt

It is truly an honour to be given the opportunity to deliver the first Dr. Ambedkar memorial lecture of the new century and the new millennium. Though this is officially the 5th Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Annual Lecture for the Year 1999, it has been very fortunately postponed to the year 2000! Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar’s vision and life truly stands at the junction of the old and the new; coming from the depths of the society marked by hierarchies of inequality and involuted complexities of fixed exploitation to a leading role in the formation of a new order, symbolized by his role in the drafting of India’s Constitution, symbol of a new order, Ambedkar was indeed a man marking the beginning of an era, a man whose life and thought encompassed both analysis of, rage about and struggle against the old exploitation and the visions of the new society.

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