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How Egalitarian is Archaeology: An Ontological Observation

 

Hardik Parmar 

 

Hardik parmarCaste Background of Archaeology in India

Archaeology as a subject is a rational and logical inquiry into the past using scientific methods. Its primary interest lies with understanding the complex question of how we [humans] came into existence but more importantly what processes and interactions involved in the making of civilizations in the past led to the concept of what we call today a “society”. 

 

Initially the discipline emerged as a treasure hunting and romantic travelogue by colonials in the Global South, later it evolved to become a systematic inquiry into the past. In the footsteps of Alexander Cunningham [first director of Archaeological Survey of India] and Mortimer Wheeler, many Brahmins like Bhagwanlal Indraji (Nagar Brahmin), Dr. Bhau Daji lad (Saraswat Brahmin), Rakhal Das Benerji, P K Mishra, Dayaram Sahni, Hasmukh Dhirajlal Sankhalia, and many others joined them as assistants and did field research activities. Having a monopoly over Sanskrit language, Brahmins were often invited by Britishers to translate manuscripts which led to many of them later taking up archaeology as a profession. They have become pioneers in many important archaeological discoveries in India but one must recognize the fact that they benefited from a higher  position within the social, cultural and material [caste] reality of India with opportunities open only for them unlike for Shudras and Dalits. 

 

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Mālik-Joji-Trance: Fahadh Faasil’s Epic Trilogy Of Spiritual Crisis

 

Umar Nizarudeen 

Umar Nizar thumb Fahadh Faasil, the Malayalam film actor has come into national as well as global limelight, much more than any other actor from Kerala has ever managed to do before. From his heterodox acting style, body language and physique to an unconventional choice of roles, Fahadh Faasil has helped break stale notions of masculinity in an exceedingly patriarchal Malayalam movie industry. Like AR Rahman and Shah Rukh Khan, Fahadh Faasil too has combined exceptional talent with a shrewd manipulation of generational transitions and rapid technological transformations within the film industry. Much like Dhanush and Nawazuddin Siddiqui have done before, Fahadh Faasil’s career graph has transcended the petty elitism of the local culture industry to the point where global media outlets such as `The New Yorker’ have devoted its pages to his movies. 

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Raising a Buddhist generation

 

Chanchal Kumar

chanchal kumarOur parents shielded us from any candid discussion on caste while growing up, perhaps believing that if the monster was not mentioned, it would simply cease to exist. Another way to look at it could be that they tried to warn us but we were too busy to pay attention and too naive about the realities of the land. Either way, we were not prepared for the rude shock that awaited us when we realized that our savarna college mates in the big bright city hated us because we did not belong to the same castes as they did. The cherry on top was that they also did not think we deserved to study in the same institution as them since we lacked merit.

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Typing Out on the Keyboard: A Colonial Spectre or Failure of the Indian Nation-State


Vinod Kumar

vinod kumarI was writing something down, jotting down my thoughts about a certain incident, or perhaps, it was merely a random idea; it was a feeling I wanted to note down soon after having my breakfast. In the middle of recording my thoughts in English, I felt the urgent need to write a few sentences in Hindi. Actually, it was not an urgent need but an innate desire; the thought had occurred to me in my mother tongue, and I wanted to put it down in Hindi. But I could not do it because it involved taking an extra technological mile to switch to a Hindi keyboard on the pages in mac.

Google advised me to activate Qwerty to use a Hindi keyboard on the pages; but my past experience with the software discouraged me from taking the recourse; often it was too much of a trouble trying different letter combinations in English to insert a Hindi word correctly. I also thought of switching to the word document but remembered that I had to go through more or less a similar hassle there. All of this happened to me in less than a minute, and I was on the verge of losing the emotion I wanted to record. Without wasting more time, I took out a notebook and a pen and recorded my thought in all its nakedness on a piece of paper in the Devanagri script. I felt relieved, but I also felt angry and frustrated. And upon digging deeper into my mental state, I realised that the frustration and the anger were with the incessant colonial spectredom and the failure of the Indian nation-state to exorcise it.

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Rant against the ranters (aka Why I no longer talk to 'upper castes' about caste?)


Vivek Singh

vivek singhIt boils my blood when you sneer
Make faces and whisper 'reservation'.
What exactly is your frustration,
your critique, what is the devastation
That it brings in your life that you hate it so?
Or is it the idea of me sitting next to you
That makes you say no?

What is it that your frail ego crashes
And bruises and pains
But only selectively for the sake
Of your privileges and gains

Did you ever believe we are the same?
Did you ever let go of a chance to know my surname?
Did you ever feel empathy in your mind?
Did you ever try to read and understand?

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Caste, and the failure of Indian Legal System


Rachna Gautam

rachna gautamIn every civilized society, there is an indispensable need for law for the proper governance of society. People by virtue of being human are rational and move ahead in the direction which can fulfill their interest at best and because of the presence of numerous people with varying interests their paths or the interests may collide. 

Human beings since their origin have learned how to compete, struggle and fight for their survival, prestige, fulfillment of desires and to gain power and control on resources. As someone said, a human being is the most dangerous beast. Thus, he keeps acquiring more advanced desires and developing vigorous means to gain them. In the achievement of desires, he has left nothing unaffected and destroyed much, whether we talk about the environment, wildlife, earth, air, or fellow humans. The history, place of origin, geography, beliefs, ideologies, taste, choices have classified the human race into different groups: every such group tries to gain a superior position over others. One such difference in the current scenario is one of the major reasons for various conflicts in India, and that's Caste.

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Rainbow casteism and racism in the queer community is alienating us

 

Sophia

I entered the Delhi queer movement in my early 20s, as a complete outsider in terms of language, origin, race, class, and caste identity. I wanted to bring change to the status quo and challenge the existing caste and class hierarchy that pervaded the movement. I started my initiative and became a vocal part of the Delhi queer circuit. Thinking back, I like to believe that I played my part to help make the movement a bit more 'intersectional', especially in the university scene. Ultimately, after around three years of activism and organising, I decided to abruptly leave the queer community. It wasn't because I didn't care about the community or that I no longer cared about amplifying subaltern voices within the community. I felt like I never truly belonged in the community, like I did not have a space. I simply could no longer take the covert discrimination that I was subjected to on account of my marginalised identity.

Gay Pride Flag

I have observed countless other non-UC, non-mainland queer people who have also felt alienated by the movement and had decided to step away from the mainstream movement as the community is being white washed and dominated by all these queer activists/influencers having caste and class privileges, who call people out from their high horses while trampling over all the Dalit, Bahujan and indigenous voices they pretend to always listen to. A few weeks ago, a UC trans activist Dr.Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju and her model friend Meera
Singhania-Rehani ridiculed and mocked a Bahujan queer person who had much less following than them on their instagram live, making insensitive casteist comments all the while insinuating that the person is faking their caste identity. They both eventually released press statements eventually after being extremely defensive, blocking multiple DBA folks while justifying their actions. I'm bringing this incident up because the responses from their fellow UC queer activists/influencers is a reminder and an example of the role caste and class plays when it comes to community building and belongingness within the queer movement.

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