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“Mahatmas Have Come, Mahatmas Have Gone But The Untouchables Remain Untouchables”

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Note: The following excerpt is from “CasteIsNotARumor: The Online Diary Of Rohith Vemula”, edited by Nikhila Henry

a) Nation And Nationalism

August 15, 2013

Another Independence Day just came by to tickle our meagre everyday life. But we should be ‘Proud of being an Indian’. Even after 67 years of Independence there are class differences and caste discrimination but we should ‘Love our Nation’. There is freedom for women in our country but if a girl marries a boy from another caste and not her own, we will kill her for our ‘honour’. ‘Happy independence day’. The new born babies in this 67-year-old heaven have the freedom to become anything in life but if they want education each has to pay a hefty Rs. 60,000 as donation to be admitted in private institutions. If they get educated in government schools and universities they should get ‘recommendation’ to get a job. ‘Swatantra Diwas Mubarak’.

If you are a Muslim it is better to not get into any argument with a Hindu and if you are a Dalit never look at any Savarna person eye-to-eye. All this might trigger massive communal violence. ‘Independence Day Greetings!’. In reality, freedom of electing our leaders has become a choice between lesser evil and greater ones; only to be fooled every five years. Religion is still a determining factor in elections. ‘Jai Hind’.

We have the freedom to choose between McDonalds or Dominos for lunch. We also have the freedom to neglect our accountability towards the bitter suicides of farmers across the country. ‘Happy Independence Day!’

You should love your country and your love for the country is gauged with your hatred for other countries. Just curse a fellow Pakistani and you will be regarded as the best Indian ever! ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai!’.

Anyway, wishing you all a delightful Independence Day hoping at least today no innocent will face fake encounter at the hands of our security agencies just because they belong to some ‘infamous’ community. ‘Vandemataram!’

‘Mahatmas have come, Mahatmas have gone but the Untouchables have remained as Untouchables…So long as you do not achieve social liberty, whatever freedom is provided by the law is of no avail to you…’

Ambedkar

March 22, 2014

When I speak about my community, I am non-Nationalist. When you speak about Nationalism excluding my community, it is never questioned.

Nationalism and its effect on subaltern struggles: From the eyes of Depressed class. Nationalism in our country is peculiar in more than one way. The nationalistic concept which our history texts taught us was clearly and merely an outcome of our opposition to British-suzerainty but never a result of love towards ourselves and it was never an All-India struggle.

Freedom Struggle and Nationalism

In [nationalism’s –Ed.] basic form [as manifested in –Ed.] the independence struggle, it stands more as an elitist movement, grossly ignoring subaltern art forms like folk cultures, subaltern struggles for political recognition and their right to equal share in successes. In fact, any subaltern struggle that rose for self-respect, demanding dismantlement of Brahmanical and elite Hindu values was subjected to extreme scrutiny and often projected as retrogressive and divisive of national integrity (?) during the time. Moreover, the independence movement gave the valorous recognition to otherwise extremely orthodox and Manuvadi apologists. Be it Lal-Bal- Pal [Lal Bahadur Shastri, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal –Ed.), Dayananda- Vivekanada duo, Tagore, or the celebrated Gandhi, struggle for independence allowed them to justify their obscurantist [policies –Ed.] on vital social issues and prevented heterodox groups from questioning their tenets of Brahmanical culture thereby giving these immunity.

In my opinion, disadvantaged sections differed with tropes of Indian freedom struggle over this basic point: that the British rule resulted in socio-economic differences and also Hindu-Muslim divide. This, even when facts speak otherwise; with empirical evidence clearly pointing out that the British had only encashed and benefited from the then existing social differences and institutionalised inequality.

Aforesaid thoughts of mine on freedom struggle are not drawn out of ‘sacred’ history books but from the standpoint of depressed sections of Indian society. [These sections were –Ed.] never given a decision-making role in the movement and their struggle for self-respect was often denounced as ‘Identity politics’ or at worst they are called ‘stooges’ [of the British –Ed.].

_CASTE IS NOT A RUMOUR_300_RGB (1)Two Nationalisms

Today’s cultural chauvinism and irrational hatred towards neighbouring countries in the name of Nationalism is a self-evident example of the flaws in our idea of patriotism. Today we are offered two kinds of Nationalisms, politically. One is the ‘Modi-fied’ version of Nationalism that has as its core saffron Hindutva and the other ‘Khadi’ Nationalism with ‘Soft Hinduism’ and ‘Progressive Brahmanism’ as its core. It is also to be noted that the internal confusion the Communist parties in India have about Nationalism prevented them from forging a strong opposition against the fraudulent concept of Nationalism. The stand of communist parties on Nationalism remained varied – as radical armed struggle (during the freedom struggle) to a Caste Hindu form (in West Bengal) and to cynical passivity (South India). I give due respect to some of the weak, stray Counter-Nationalist tendencies registered sporadically in not-so-national platforms [among the Indian Communists –Ed.].

What is happening today nationwide in the name of Patriotism is nothing short of a renaissance of this past travesty that had nothing in store for the real upliftment of lower sections. Thus it is important for the lower sections of our society to learn about the perils of Nationalism and the ugly orthodox idea of Patriotism that guarantees no recognition, dignity and real social reform.

March 22, 2014

Feeling bad with the wrangles on Nationalism

What does this word Nationality actually represent? In the eternity and immensity of our endless universe in its cosmic scale, the obsession with boundaries and labels is nothing less than a reckless fallacy we carry conceitedly in our minds…The earth itself is nothing but a mote of dust floating in the morning sky when it is compared to the size of the unimaginably vast universe. We assume we are greater than the grandest mammoths that walked on this planet thousands of years ago and we claim we are greater than the beautiful birds flying freely in the wild, on the basis of that we can read, record, communicate and apply knowledge on. But caste, gender and regional chauvinists who survived through the sturdy strides of modern science are a sad proof to the odious vacuum we cultivated in modern social mentality. In times of scientific golden age, where we are able to understand the exquisite interrelationships between humans and nature, stars and atoms, molecules and materials, the educated lot of our country are still getting pleasure in adding fume to exclusive notions like national barriers. The air we breathe has no nationality, the water we drink, the rain we enjoy, the sky we amaze at and the love that flows in this world has no nationality…

Nationalism is nothing but a side effect of imagination. An excuse to accuse others. A reason to celebrate the defeat of the ‘other’ human being. We, the super animals, who can name things are the discoverers of this dangerous trend (called Nationalism) and we alone are victims of this disease. We need to build a universal human conscious[ness] unfettered by the rules of divisive ethnic backgrounds. I believe we can build a powerful future only on the principles of global citizenship.

August 15, 2014

Why Indians should never talk to Pakistanis…What if we become friends? Worse, what if we become brothers and sisters again! What will happen to the Bharatiya Janata Party, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [if that happens –Ed.]? Let us hate each other in the name of Nationalism and Patriotism. Jana Gana Mana! Bhai!

Excerpted with permission from #CasteIsNotARumour – The Online Diary of Rohith Vemula, edited by Nikhila Henry published by Juggernaut Books and available on the Juggernaut app.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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