Reality of sanitation workers in India: Caste, Stigma and historical injustice


Dhamma Darshan Nigam

Dhamma DarshanThe reality about the life of sanitation workers is not just about unsafe working and living conditions, irregular and minimum wages, and their health conditions and exploitation by their contractors. The reality is deep down more about the caste system and acceptance by the society that one group of people is best fit to clean their excreta, and that the service which is essential to them – people providing service remain completely nonessential. The reality is as concurrent, as historically social and cultural. And the solution also has to be found both ways. 



Distinct Identity of Sikhs and Rights of Scheduled Castes among Sikhs: Article 25 (2) (b)


Gursimran Singh

gursimranIt has been the popular demand of Sikhs since long that there is a need to amend Article 25 (2) (b) of the Constitution as it denies to them a separate distinct religious identity. The controversy is primarily around Explanation II to this article which states that “…..the reference to the word Hindu in sub-clause (b) of clause (2) shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.” 

There are two questions which need to be answered. 1. Whether the Explanation II takes away the distinct religious identity of Sikh religion? 2. Will the removal of Explanation II in anyway negatively affect the representation of Scheduled Castes among Sikhs? This write up will try to answer and clarify on both these controversies. 


Comprehending Honour Killings in India


Aniruddha Mahajan

pramod mHonour killing is an ugly reality in India. In fact, the nation where the societal structure is based on caste system, such incidents will not astonish much but will surely hamper the esteem of the nation. In the 21st century, the prevalence of caste based violence and systematic cum indirect operation of discrimination is the biggest concern. There is a rule of law, but still the power structure is restricted to specific sections of the society. Honour killing is one of the outputs of the caste based hegemonic spirit in India. In the past few years, Manoj and Babli case from Haryana, Sonai honour killing of Nashik, Shankar and Kausalya, Nandish and Swathi cases from Tamil Nadu, Nitin Aage case from Ahmednagar, Pranay and Amrutha case from Nalgonda, very recent Viraj Jagtap honour killing from Pune have hit the national headlines and highlighted the harsh reality of Indian society.  


Annihilation of caste: Can an anarchist perspective work?


Pranav Jeevan P

pranav We have been debating tirelessly on different ways to abolish caste and other social evils which permeate the society that we have today. Raising voices against oppression, forming political parties and contesting in elections and also trying to force the government to form and implement policies which will give the Bahujans their fundamental rights. We have come a long way through decades of struggle in gaining rights, but the present political scenario of the country is not looking hopeful to the Bahujan aspirations for breaking the shackles of caste.  

With the diluting of labour laws and enabling state sanctioned exploitation of Bahujan labour, implementation of NEP which further marginalize the Bahujan children and extinguish their hopes of upward social and economic mobility, a proposed EIA which will rob the Bahujans and Adivasis of their land and livelihood, implementation of CAA and NRC to deprive the status of citizenship, privatization of key public utilities and destroying the already weakened public healthcare system, the government is openly showing its motives as a corporate stooge which dances to the whims of Adani, Ambani and other Brahmin Bania masters.


Running with the wolves, Hunting with the hounds


Kanika S

This essay explores the role of business archives in serving the business interests, and how history – distinct from the past – is created and revisions to it (or alternate interpretations) are prevented. Archives have become an important and inexpensive corporate asset in today's world that shape a corporate identity by providing a narrative using selective management actions and decisions taken in the past. Ineke Deserno (2007) conducted a review of world's 50 largest MNC's public websites and corporate archives and observed that companies that have come under public flak for past actions – for example, cooperation with the Nazi regime – open their archives to the public in order to rebuild public confidence and trust.1 How a business chooses to deal with an inconvenient past, of course, varies across time and geography. In this particular essay, I have chosen to focus on Tata Group and draw conclusions based singularly on one Indian business group.

tata 2a

Value of Business Archives

In the introduction of Everybody's Business: An Almanac, its editors Milton Moskowitz, Robert Levering and Michael Katz say this: "Corporations, like people, are often better understood by looking at their past. In the business world, where eyes are usually fixed firmly on the road ahead, this exercise is seldom performed."


North American whites are also oppressed by the American empire


[SAVARI and Round Table India are doing a series to put together the Bahujan perspective on the Coronavirus pandemic]

akil1 2 Pushpendra: Hi Akil. Let us start with your brief introduction for the readers in India.

Akil: For the future audiences, I am Akil Bakari, a long time activist here in America. I have worked for the past thirty-some odd years here in Jackson, Mississippi, which is in the south-eastern part of the internal US empire. I am a network engineer by training and I manage a technology company. That’s a little bit about me.

Pushpendra: We have been hearing about a lot of police brutality, which is a serious issue in America and there is a lot of discussion around racism. I would like to ask you how the issues of police brutality and racism are tied in with the issues of social and economic inequality?

Akil: The role of law enforcement in America since its inception was to control and police Black bodies. That’s it! That's always been its role. It has never been about anything other than that in its essence. There are Black and Brown people within that institution; there are some decent people individually that are in that institution. But make no mistake about it; it is functioning as it was designed. It was designed to function in this manner. Period. It’s not like oh it is malfunctioning.. no no. It is functioning as it was designed. And as we are here in the late stage of vulture capitalism…. the increase in police repression and police terrorism is here with us because of the huge contradiction of the late stage vulture capitalism. And, what you are seeing manifest is young white people who have been lied to. What I mean by that is that they were told you are young and white, you have got all the credentials and education and you have this white privilege. And they have had that to a degree but not a degree to which they were told they had. And now what you have because of this huge contradiction of vulture capitalism whereby you have young white people who are saddled with mounds of student loan. They have all these credentials, but they can’t find the type of employment that will compensate them in a way that has been told to them historically or that has been demonstrated to white people in this country. So what you are seeing is a merging of the generational struggles of Black and Brown people in this internal US empire and the struggles of young white people that actually started with Occupy Wall Street, some ten years ago. That’s what you are seeing, combining with all the other factors, you know, the global pandemic.. So all of these forces and factors have merged into this moment.


The Misnomer Called Riot


Bobby Kunhu

kunhu"It is the nature of physics to hear the loudest of mouths over the most comprehensive ones."

― Criss Jami, Killosophy

In discussions relating to identity in South Asia – when the obviously relevant argument that it is only the privileged that can claim an identity devoid of religion and caste is raised, I smile within myself – because, while I hear and empathize with the argument, my case is one of those exceptions that prove the rule. My identity is one that is born out of my father's existential angst having been at the receiving end and witness to brutal communal violence.

The year was 1967 and my father was working as a civil engineer with the Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC), Ranchi (then a part of Bihar) – a public sector undertaking. Massive communal violence broke out in Ranchi. My father metaphorically remembers that the River Subarnarekha had turned red with all the spilt blood. Born a Mappila, my father remains a staunch atheist. My maternal grandfather has told me that he used to be part of the Bihar Rationalist Association as well. Further, he had a name that could not be associated with Islam outside Kerala. Neither his atheism nor his name was of any help when mobs attacked the personnel office of HEC to raid for the personal documents of employees to identify Muslims from South India. My father went into hiding and lived almost three months under the stairwell of one of his closest Hindu friends. When things didn't seem to be returning to normal, his friends organized a mock RSS rally placing my father at the center of it. The rally went up to Muri, the next station after Ranchi and put him on a train back home. Thereafter, he had to spend almost an year at home with pay till things returned to normal in Ranchi.


Can you unlove your stars?


Amarnath Sandipamu 

Please read the previous part of this article here.

superstars etc

Manufacturing a star

A film is a cultural product that takes shape through the labours of over 24 departments popularly referred to as the '24 crafts' if not more. All the junior artists, side dancers, lightmen, camera assistants, drivers, sanitation professionals, electricians, cooks and food catering people, spotboys, make up artists, customers, stuntmen, prop assistants, postermen, production assistants form approximately 85 percent of the film crew which invariably has people from Bahujan communities. Often lead actors, directors' team, writers, cameramen, post-production heads and other key positions in designing costume, choreography, stunts form the 15 percent of the crew who could be from forward castes.


Dealing with old foes: Perpetual Exclusion and Loneliness

Akshit Sangomla

akshit sangomlaMy name is Akshit Sangomla. I work as a senior reporter at the Down To Earth magazine in Delhi. I report and write stories on climate change, natural disasters, astronomy, artificial intelligence and other science (and technology) related topics - something that Rohith Vemula would have loved to do but was not allowed to. I am currently working on a story about facial recognition technology and the surveillance state that different world governments and corporations are trying to create.

My family is from Telangana and belongs to the Mala community. We are dalits. Apart from writing science stories I have also been dealing with old foes - exclusion and loneliness - in recent times. The pandemic and lockdown have only made it worse.


The noble mission of Ambedkarite movement is all about giving


Amol Ragade


[Round Table India pays tribute to the legacy of Raju Kamble sir on his 2nd death anniversary, and we are glad to share this interview with Amol Ragade, one of his close associates.]


raju kamble20


Anu: Jai Bhim. Amol, you are someone who is very familiar with Raju Kamble Sir’s work and his life. Can you talk to us about his legacy?


Amol: Jai Bhim! Thank you for giving me this opportunity to interview with you and Kuffir da, and thank you for everything that you’ve been doing. 


Talking about Raju Kamble ji, he is what I see as a missionary, and that's what he used to even tell us, the way we need to operate, to network the society, to organize the society, to mobilize people. I think he was a great missionary, who went on a mission, an impossible mission, that no one would probably have thought about accomplishing. People would have thought about it, but actually being there, trying to do it, and accomplishing it. I think he is one of the stalwarts, when it comes to building an international society, and international Ambedkarite society. The way he functioned, as a pure missionary, with action, and less of talking or less of writing. A very well read man, exceptionally good in organizing people, leading people. Professionally as well, he was one of the most sought after professional engineers. He had a very good career that he carved out. He was a brilliant student, that’s what we hear from his college mates. Coming from a very humble background. I think he lost his mother at a very young age, I might be corrected here, but that’s what I think. I think he was a self made man. He did his engineering from NIT and his Master’s from IISc. That is when he became acquainted with BAMCEF, and that’s where his journey began, so far as I can recall.


Constitutional Strategies for Bahujan Representation in the Higher Judiciary


Dr. Ayaz Ahmad

“As experience proves, rights are protected not by law but by the social and moral conscience of society. If social conscience is such that it is prepared to recognize the rights which law chooses to enact, rights will be safe and secure. But if the fundamental rights are opposed by the community, no Law, no Parliament, no Judiciary can guarantee them in the real sense of the word.”                                                                                                                                                            Dr. B R Ambedkar[1]


ayaz1Since the commencement of Indian constitution, the higher judiciary (Supreme Court and High Courts) has operated as the death chamber of social justice policies[2]. By thus arresting social democracy, the higher judiciary has endangered our political democracy too. Such unfortunate judicial performance is rightly attributed to near complete monopoly of the Supreme Court and the High Courts by Brahmin-upper castes/class judges and advocates. Naturally, the efforts to redeem the higher judiciary from upper castes by the Bahujan class rightly concentrate on making it more representative. However, various strategies like the demand to implement Article 312 and abolition of Collegium System popular among social organizations and activists to achieve a representative higher judiciary remain oblivious to constitutional realities. These strategies are mostly presented as legitimate demands to the ruling class with a series of self-fulfilling assumptions. Due to such uninformed strategies, most of those efforts are unlikely to yield desired results. In fact, some of them may prove to be counter productive. This article aims to examine existing popular strategies to secure a representative higher judiciary in order to understand their feasibility in the light of extant constitutional arrangements. It will also explore the alternative legal strategies within the constitutional horizon of possibility to achieve a representative higher judiciary more conducive to social democracy.


Decoding the post-2014 Parashuram-esque ‘vigilante figure’ in Bhavesh Joshi Superhero


Mohimarnab Biswas (Megh)

m biswasThis study locates the middle-class ‘vigilante figure’ in Bombay cinema within the larger paradigm of the rise of the ‘vigilante publics’ in the backdrop of the BJP’s massive electoral gains in 2014. It attempts to do so by focusing attention on the articulation of justice in Bhavesh Joshi Superhero. It looks to characterise the shift in visual codes of representation of the vigilante figure since 2014 through the lens of politics of thematic engagements and tropes within the genre of vigilante films. I attempt to deconstruct the vigilante figure with respect to the notions of citizenship, masculinity and territory and also explore the embedded function of caste in them. This study includes an effort to understand the construction of vigilantism as an ideology in order to unpack the ways in which the society--or at least a part of it--is imagining justice, framing itself and the others it is ‘othering’ in the process. The effort will be to deconstruct the vigilante figure in the film and analyse it on various registers like caste, masculinity, the production of the 'ideal citizen', and the notion of justice.