Narendra Modi – Manual Scavenging is a Spiritual Experience #WTFnews

 Narandra Modi's Vibrant Gujarat Story: Propaganda vs Fact #mustread


On Modi’s Social Engineering

Subhash Gatade


The system of untouchability has been a goldmine for the Hindus. This system affords 60 millions of untouchables to do the dirty work of scavenging and sweeping to the 240 million Hindus who are debarred by their religion to do such dirty work. But the work must be done for the Hindus and who else than the untouchables?

Dr B.R. Ambedkar

Can shit collection or cleaning of gutters—which has condemned lakhs of people to a life of indignity since ages—be considered a ‘Spiritual Experience’? Definitely not. Everybody would yell. Well, Mr Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, has a different take on this, which he mentions in the book ‘Karmayog’ (publication year 2007).

The book is basically a collection of his speeches to high-profile IAS officials. Herein he discusses the age-old caste-based vocation of the Valmikis as an “experience in spirituality”. He writes: “I do not believe that they have been doing this job just to sustain their livelihood. Had this been so, they would not have continued with this type of job generation after gene-ration…. At some point of time, somebody must have got the enlightenment that it is their (Valmikis’) duty to work for the happiness of the entire society and the Gods; that they have to do this job bestowed upon them by Gods; and that this job of cleaning up should continue as an internal spiritual activity for centuries. This should have continued generation after generation. It is impossible to believe that their ancestors did not have the choice of adopting any other work or business.”

Looking at the fact that a section of the Dalits themselves—especially its upwardly mobile and more articulate section—has joined the Hindutva bandwagon, it was expected that there would be no angry reaction to his utterances within the State. A section of the Ambedkarite Dalits and many human rights activists did protest but their voices got drowned in the cacophony of voices of Modi supporters. It is a different matter that when Modi’s remark got published in The Times of India in mid-November 2007, which was later translated in a few Tamil news-papers, it resulted in a massive reaction of Dalits in Tamil Nadu. Not only did they stage protests for calling their menial job a “spiritual experience” but Modi’s effigies were burnt in different parts of the State. Sensing trouble Modi immediately withdrew 5000 copies of the book, but still stuck to his opinion. Two years later, addressing 9000-odd safai karmacharis, he likened the safai karmacharis’ job of cleaning up others’ dirt to that of a temple priest. He told them: “A priest cleans a temple every day before prayers, you also clean the city like a temple. You and the temple priest work alike.”

One was reminded of these ideas of Mr Modi when news came in that the Budget for the coming year passed by the Gujarat State Assembly has allocated a sum of Rs 22.5 lakhs for giving training in karmkand (rituals) to the safai kamdars themselves. The idea is to train them in scriptures so that they can perform puja. It is clear that the ‘new scheme’, as it was presented before the people, was just a revised version of its earlier version wherein members of the Scheduled Castes were given training to become ‘Gurubrahmins’ so that they could also perform pujas. Insiders can also share with you that the said scheme has miserably failed and people who were trained to perform pujas are still searching for jobs.

It could well be asked that if Modi values safai karmacharis so highly, why is it that he has begun outsourcing all the menial jobs for a very low pay, between Rs 3000 and Rs 3500 per month per worker? Why are they not being employed on a permanent basis? A leading Dalit poet raised an altogether different question: “Why didn’t it occur to Modi that the spirituality involved in doing menial jobs hasn’t ever been experienced by the upper castes?”

It is worth emphasising that when the Gujarat Government declared its intention to train safai kamdars in karmkand, supposedly to integrate them into the mainstream of the Hindu society, it also happened to be the period when the anti-Dalit stance of the people in power was very much evident in two clear examples: the manner in which the State officials tried to cover up the social boycott of Dalits in a village, and the way they tried to save the guilty police officials involved in Dalit killings; both of these had already hit the headlines.

Not very many people would have heard about the village Galsana, Dhanduka tehsil, Ahmedabad district, which is around 100 kms from the city. The Dalits in the village, who are about 500 in number, are not allowed entry into any of the five temples in the village. The younger generation of Dalits protested this ban which resulted in their social boycott. When the news last came in, the boycott was already a few months old. Incidentally when officers from the Social Justice Department visited the village, they did not even acknowledge that Dalits are facing social boycott, forget asking the police to take action against the guilty.

The other news concerned the arrest of guilty police officials involved in the gruesome killings of Dalits at Thangarh. (September 2012) After four months, cop Jadeja and two other accused police officials in the Thangarh Dalit massacre case were arrested on February 23, 2013. It is reported that the killings at Thangarh were the fallout of a minor clash between Dalits and Bharwads over auctioning of stalls at an annual fair organised by the Thangarh municipality. When the Dalits filed a complaint against the Bharwads at the police station, the police refused to take any action; the anger of the Dalits spilled over onto the streets the next day which saw the participation of Dalits in large numbers and the police resorting to strong-arm tactics resulting in the killings. Despite knowing the fact that the infamous police officer had on an earlier occasion also fired upon the Dalits without any provo-cation, the administration tried every trick in its kitty to save him and his colleagues. It was only because of judicial intervention that they were ordered to be arrested.

Galsana and Thangarh can be said to be tip of the iceberg as far as Dalit deprivation and denial of justice is concerned. In fact much has been written about the way the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Atrocities Prevention) Act, 1989 is implemented in the State. One finds that the rate of conviction of cases under the Prevention of Atrocity Act against SCs/STs in Gujarat is a mere 2.5 per cent while the rate of acquittal is 97.5 per cent. A 23-page confidential report submitted by the State Social Justice Department to the State Chief Secretary and Legal Department provides glaring examples of ‘mishandling of cases registered under Prevention of Atrocities Act against SCs/STs’. (The Indian Express, September 15, 2006)

The report provides details of how cases are not investigated properly by the police and the hostile role played by public prosecutors during the time of trials.

• The Act clearly stipulates that offences which are registered under this Act cannot be investigated by an officer below the rank of DySP but more than 4000 such cases have been investigated by the Police Inspector or Police Sub-Inspector.

• Acquittal of the perpetrator because the victim not identified as a member of the SC or ST community. Reason: not attaching caste certificate of the victim with the case papers.

• Public prosecutors’ false claims before the courts that the Act has been modified by the State Government although it is known that it is a Central Act.

• Granting of anticipatory bails although there is no such provision in the Act. Interestingly, the Parliamentary Committee on SC and ST affairs had also expressed concern over such anticipatory bails granted ‘in atrocity cases in the State of Gujarat’.

In this backdrop it is worth underlining how little Mr Modi knew about this important law and its implications. One could rather say that in Gujarat the Chief Minister is directly responsible for the non-implementation of the Atrocity Act. As Raju Solanki, the famous poet and Dalit rights activist, writes in his blog:

It was on April 16, 2004, that a question was asked to Chief Minister Modi in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly: “Honourable Chief Minister [Home] may oblige us to tell, is it true that the DSP is responsible for the appointment of an officer not below the rank of DySP as investigating officer in the offences under the Atrocities Act?” The answer of our Chief Minister was shocking. He said: “No, but there is a provision under rule 7 (1) of SC/ST Act, 1995 to appoint officers not above the rank of DySP to inquire into all cases booked under atrocities act. It is not the responsibility of the DSP.”

The officer not above the rank of DySP” means he may be a PSI or PI and in most of the atrocities cases courts acquit the accused because the investigation officer is either a PSI or PI. Over 150 such judgments collected by the Council for Social Justice revealed that in 95 per cent of the cases, the accused have been acquitted because of negligence on the part of the authorities. In a number of these cases, while the accused has been convicted under the IPC section for murder and attempt to murder, he has gone scot-free on the atrocity charge.

In the end, one would like to put on record the way the presence of Dalits in records is being obliterated without any qualims. During the panchayat elections, Nathu Vadla, a small village of Gujarat with hardly 1000 population, had suddenly hit the headlines. The panchayat election in this village was to have been conducted on the basis of the 2001 data. The village has at least 100 Scheduled Caste people and one seat was to be reserved as per law, but the census data has not been modified since in 2001 the SC population was nil in the village; the election in 2013 was to have been conducted on the basis of the 2001 census. Here also the courts had to intervene to stay the election in the village. The Gujarat High Court stayed the election in the village saying that the electoral exercise in the circumstances would be a ‘mockery of democracy’.


Haryana- Dalits flee Haryana village after upper caste attacks

, TNN | Apr 16, 2013, 0

Dalits flee Haryana village after upper caste attacks
More than 100 Dalits fled a small Haryana village after being chased by upper caste goons, angry that a Dalit man had dared to marry one of their girls.
KAITHAL: As politicians and administrators in many northern Indian states were preparing to celebrate Dalit icon B R Ambedkar’s 122nd birth anniversary this weekend, more than 100 Dalits were fleeing a small Haryana village after being chased by upper caste goons, angry that a Dalit man had dared to marry one of their girls.

Meena and Surya Kant of Pabnama village in Kaithal were in a relationship for the past two years and they tied the knot on April 10. But their happiest moment in life turned tragic for the entire village. The marriage – with Meena, from a community called the Rods and Surya, a Dalit – led to a bloody clash on Saturday that forced Dalit men and women to flee, fearing violent reprisals. Members of the Rod community attacked Dalits, injuring 10 people, including seven cops.

The couple has been living in a Kaithal town under police protection following instructions from the Punjab and Haryana high court last week.

Even two days after the violence, Dalits are still in a state of shock and not ready to return to the village. Except a few youths and elders, no women and children were present in the village. Several have gone to their relatives’ places and a few are living in dharamshalas in Kurukshetra.

Ram Swaroop, a Dalit, said, “We agree that the marriage was against social norms. But why is the family of the groom and the entire community being targeted as we have no role in their marriage?”

He said it had become difficult for their families to return to the village under the circumstances as they could be assaulted again.

However, peace brokers were trying to calm things down. The two communities have formed separate committees to hold talks to sort out the differences and to restore peace in the village. Realizing that the couple could not be separated, the villagers on Monday started compromise talks.

Sarpanch Husan Singh told TOI, “As the couple remained firm on their decision to stay together, the villagers, including their family members, have left them to their fate. Members of both the communities held peace talks and I am hopeful that both would reach a compromise soon,” he said.

A villager, who had talked to the couple, said both of them ruled out any possibility of parting ways even though the Rods had been pressuring them to break off. During a meeting of village elders, 20-year-old Meena, a student of BCom final year in Kaithal College, made it clear that “she would prefer to die rather than separating from her husband.”

The sarpanch said it was impossible for the couple to enter the village as they did not abide by the sentiments of the villagers. Recalling the violence on Saturday, he said, “Some youngsters have attacked Dalit houses in a fit of rage but the village elders have sorted out the issue now.”

However, a Dalit youth, Lakhmi Chand, alleged that there was pressure on the Dalits to strike a compromise and not to press for arrest of the attackers.

“Both the communities have formed peace committees which met today to discuss the issue. The Rods are persuading us to withdraw the cases and assured that our security would be ensured in the village. But we are still unsure and our women and children are still away,” he said.

Kaithal SP Kuldeep Singh said the situation was under control on Monday and police personnel were deployed in the village. “The villagers from both the communities are making efforts to sort out the issue. The administration is cooperating with them in this initiative,” he said.


In Narendra Modi’s Gujarat- Cries of caste discrimination reverberate

 Narandra Modi's Vibrant Gujarat Story: Propaganda vs Fact #mustread

TNN | Apr 14, 2013, 02.24 AM IST

AHMEDABAD: “We are not allowed to get our hair cut at the barber’s shop in our village even if we are ready to pay a few rupees more. If the barber agrees to cut our hair, he is beaten black and blue by the upper caste people of the village,” said BhupatZala, a resident of Badarkha village near Dholka.

The same problem is faced by dalits in Bhat, Kashindera, Ranoda and several other villages of Dholka district. “The dalits are not allowed to have tea in hotels in the vicinity of these villages and they are also not allowed to enter the temples built for the ‘upper classes’ of the society.”

Tales of discrimination tore through the tag of ‘developed’ state as hundreds of members of the dalit community poured on to the streets of the city to raise voice against injustice meted out to them on the eve of 123rd birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar. Thousands of people from 16 states of India and 18 districts of Gujarat participated in the dalit rally organized by Navsarjan and Jan Vikas.

The rally started from Aanand Ashram in Sarkhej and ended at Sanskar Kendra, Paldi. Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar, Mallika Sarabhai, the former Chairman of UGC Sukhdeo Thorat, member of planning commission Dr Sayeeda Hameed, founder of Hamal Panchayat Baba Adhav remained present in the rally to support dalit rights. The cultural groups from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh performed special art of drum beating in the rally.

People from different states who arrived in the city to stand for dalit rights unanimously said that untouchability still prevails countrywide. Suresh Kumar, a member of Dalit Foundation, Himachal Pradesh, said, “The dalits of Santoshgarh village of Himachal Pradesh are till date not allowed passing from the streets where Brahmins and Rajputs reside. If a dalit touches the house of an upper class man, he is beaten cruelly. A small boy who mistakenly entered a temple built for upper class communities was beaten to death.” The dalits who came to participate in the rally from Himachal Pradesh also agreed that the police and legal system do not support or protect them.

In Rajasthan, Mamgilal Meghwal’s 30 bigha land was seized by the upper class people. His land was allotted to him on three different names Magga, Mangiya and Mamgilal which is a common tradition in dalits. Taking benefit from that, his land was seized. “Even after submitting identity proofs provided by Gram Panchayat and Jilla Panchayat, I was denied. I registered a complaint against them and also filed a court case, but no actions were taken by the authorities,” said Mamgilal.

Anju Saha, a student from Manjali village of Uttarakhand, said, “Dalit ladies are not allowed to cook food in our village school. If they touch it, the Brahmin and Rajput kids won’t eat it. These upper class students don’t sit with the dalit students. We are even asked to leave seats empty in the busses.”

Ray of hope

This proves that the problem of untouchability is ubiquitous in India. However, Satara district of Maharashtra and Karmabhoomi of Dr B R Ambedkar has a different story. According to Chandrakant More and Ujjavala Bhandare from Satara, even though the district is dominated by upper class people, no need has emerged to fight for dalit rights in recent years.


In Narendra Modi’s Gujarat, no Narmada water for dalits #WTFnews

Fact-finding Report on Implementation of Food Security Programme in Kalahandi district, Odisha

Vijaysinh Parmar, TNN Apr 10, 2013,

CHITALIYA (RAJKOT): In the villages of Jasdan taluka in drought-hit Saurashtra, dalit women prefer to remain silent. That’s for the fear of the upper castes in a state whose chief minister Narendra Modi is busy trying to conjure up an eclectic image to subserve his perceived prime ministerial ambitions for 2014 polls.

“Those people (upper castes) will abuse us again if we speak,” mumbled one of the women, only to be given a warning look by the others.

The water scarcity in Saurashtra is due to deficient rainfall, but the calamity is man-made for the dalits. Members of the community claim they are not allowed access to Narmada water, the only source of drinking water, by upper caste members. Ironically, upper caste farmers have their own borewells and don’t need Narmada water as much.

The dalits in ten villages of the taluka allege they are not even allowed to draw water from the main sump. “We have to listen to casteist remarks and are even threatened if we get close to the sump,” said Jaya Makwana, who fetches water under scorching sun from a source 3km farther. The worst affected are villages of Chitaliya, Khadvavadi, Kanesara, Parevala, Jivapar, Nani Lakhavad, Kothi, Barvala and Devdhari. There are around 100 dalit families in each village dominated by Kolis.

Unable to bear both injustice and thirst, women from these villages recently approached the deputy collector with their tale of woes. But the women were allegedly threatened on their return for taking up the issue with the authorities. “Should we remain thirsty because we are untouchables?” Makwana fumed.

Narmada water in Chitaliya is so erratic that villagers would not even get supply once a week. After the trip to the deputy collector’s office, water is being released once in five days. But the dalits say the main sump is still off-limits for them while the small one doesn’t get a drop.

The sump in the dailt area of Kothi village was never connected with the Narmada pipeline. “Our only source was a hand-pump which went dry last month,” said Maniben Makwana, 65, a dalit.

“We are looking into complaints of discrimination. We have also directed the water resources department to connect hand-pumps to the pipeline,” deputy collector R H Gadhavi said.


PRESS RELEASE- Dalit emancipation is not possible without REVOLUTION- ( English/Hindi/punjabi)

Chandigarh, 14 March. Known writer and intellectual Dr. Anand Teltumbde said here today that all experiments dalit emancipation by Dr. Ambedkar ended in a ‘grand failure’ and for elimination of caste, we have go beyond their movements.

While speaking at Fourth Arvind Memorial Seminar here in Bhakna Bhavan, a national level five-day seminar on the topic of ‘Caste Question and Marxism‘, Dr. Teltumbde said that only 10% of the dalits have benefitted so far from the policy of Reservation. The reason for this is that Dr. Ambedkar did not correctly constituted the policy of reservation. He said that dalit emancipation is not possible without revolution and revolution is not possible without the widest participation of Dalits.

Dr. Teltumbde said that communists of India applied Marxism in a dogmatic way and so they neither understood the caste problem correctly nor they were able to draw a correct strategy for struggle against it. While agreeing with many points in the keynote paper presented in the seminar, he said that by rejecting Ambedkar, Phule or Periyar the social revolution can’t move ahead.

He said that Ambedkar did not make a thorough study of Marxism, but he had a deep attraction for it. We have to think to bring together Marx and Ambedkarite movements. For this it is important that Communists should stand by dalits in every instance of atrocities over dalits.

Editor of ‘Ahwan’ magazine Abhinav presented a detailed criticism of the philosophical source of Ambedkar, an American philosopher John Devy and said that he did not provide any complete way-out for the emancipation of dalits. He did not go beyond getting some concessions from state in the form of ‘Affirmative action’ and welfare steps. The same thing we find in the ideology of Ambedkar. Expressing disagreement with many points raised by Dr. Teltumbde, Abhinav said that the reasons for the failure of all experiments of Dr. Ambedkar have to looked for in his philosophical outlook. While brushing aside the theory of social revolution he continued only to experiment and even there he lacked rationality.

Abhinav said that while acknowledging the contribution of Dr. Ambedkar in bringing to forefront the dalit identity and creating consciousness among them, but along with this we have to present the criticism of political-economical-philosophical views of Dr. Ambedkar.

Mr. Lalto, professor at IIT Hyderabad and a known writer said that Marxism is not a static philosophy, but it gets enriched with many new ideas continuously. Marxists should also use other methods of epistemology and should not rely solely upon a single method. Prof. Sewa Singh said that Ambedkar’s contribution should be evaluated in the light of a correct historical perspective. Alongwith this, Ambedkar’s views about muslims should also be reviewed.

Sukhwinder, editor of Punjabi magazine ‘Pratibadh’ sharply criticized the comments of Dr. Teltumbde on the communists of India and said that communists of India did not even had the program for Indian revolution, so in such circumstances it should not be expected a correct line on caste question from them. But in every part of the country communists fought in front ranks for the rights of oppressed and exploited and gave uncountable sacrifices.

Discussion is still in progress on the two other papers presented in seminar. From ‘Sanhati’, Asit Das presented his write up on “Caste question and Marxism” and a paper by Arjun Prasad Singh from PDFI, Delhi was read out by Tapish Mandola because of his inability to attend the seminar.

Senior leader of Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) Ninu Chapagai, Kashmir Singh from Sirsa, Jitendra Bharti from Dehradun, Rohit Rajora & Surya Kumar Yadav from Lucknow, Dr. Amrit from Ludhiana, Rajesh Kumar from Varanasi also spoke on the keynote paper of the seminar.

The session was presided over by president of Nepal Rashtrya Dalit Mukti Morcha Tilak Parihar, convener of Gyan Prasar Smaj Master Harish and Dr. Amritpal. Stage was conducted by Satyam.


Press release_14.3.13 Hindi

Press release_14.3.13 Punjabi

In defense of Prakash Amedkar’s recent statements on political reservations and Afzal Guru

In Defence of Prakash Ambedkar

by Anand Teltumbde

Prakash Ambedkar’s recent statements that the political reservations given to dalits (scheduled castes) and the requirement of mentioning caste in school leaving certificates should be done away with, as also his stand against the hanging of Afzal Guru, all of which have evoked varied reactions, need to be reflected upon.

Prakash Ambedkar is the leader of the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) – a political outfit that seeks the unity of dalits and backward castes of the lower echelon in Maharashtra with some amount of success to its credit. Three times Member of Parliament and grandson of Babasaheb Ambedkar, with his offbeat views, he is not a stranger to controversies. Some time ago he had created a stir among dalits by publishing a book in Marathi entitled Ambedkar Chalval Sampali Ahe (The Ambedkarite Movement Has Ended). He made two statements recently, creating a furore among certain sections of the public. In the first statement, he said that political reservations given to dalits (scheduled castes) and also the requirement of mentioning caste in school leaving certificates (probably school records) should be stopped. The second statement was against the hanging of Afzal Guru. What is interesting is not the reactions they elicited but the pattern of these responses. While the first statement evoked angry reactions within dalit circles, notably the established dalit leaders and their hangers-on, it was mostly praised and welcomed by others, apparently those from the Hindu Right. The second statement met with a deafening silence from the former and angry reactions from the latter. The so-called progressive India, of course, kept its “dignified silence” on both.

Political Reservations

The genesis of current political reservations for dalits is directly traced to the infamous Poona Pact Ambedkar had to sign under pressure from Gandhi’s fast unto death against the communal award of the British prime minister, Ramsay MacDonald in the aftermath of the three round table conferences (RTCs) in 1931-32. Gandhi – who participated from the second RTC following the Gandhi-­Irwin Pact of May 1931 – vehemently opposed Ambedkar’s demand for separate electo­rates for dalits with an alibi that it would destroy Hindu society. At the end, Ambedkar won the argument and got dalits separate electorates, establishing for the first time their separate political identity from Hindus. In the prevailing political climate, with such demands from various communities, it spelt a milestone win for dalits and a corresponding loss for the Congress. Gandhi declared that he would oppose it and went on a fast unto death in Yerwada Jail from 20 September 1932. On the fifth day, after ensuing countrywide ­tension, he succeeded in blackmailing Ambedkar into giving up separate electorates and instead accepting more number of reserved seats in joint electorates along with a plethora of promises that the Congress would work for the ­upliftment of dalits.

These reserved seats were to be ­secured through two-stage voting; in the preliminary round, only dalits would vote to elect their four potential representatives and in the subsequent round all voters would elect one from among those four. This two-stage system was dropped after the adoption of the Constitution yielding the current form of reserved seats where a dalit representative gets elected by all the voters. It was ­incorporated in Article 330 of the Constitution for an initial period of 10 years, with a proviso that it would be reviewed at the end of the period and dropped if needed. However, ever since, despite there being occasional demands from dalits to end this system, it gets automa­tically renewed every time before its ­expiry with exemplary unani­mity, ­establishing its value to the ruling classes beyond doubt.

These political reservations opened the floodgates of co-optation of dalits and decimated the possibility of their ­independent representation. Since dalits had little impact on the election of dalit politicians, the latter did not need to care for them, leave alone representing their ­interests. Rather, since their election ­entirely depended on the ruling-class parties for resources and vote banks, the dalit leaders became totally subservient to the leadership of these parties. The reserved seats served as politically inert additions to the tally of the ruling-class parties and as an important conduit for managing this inflammable section of the populace. The negative fallout of this system became evident when genuine dalit candidates were easily defeated by political pygmies with ruling-class party support. Ambedkar himself lost in the 1952 general elections to one Narayan Kajrolkar, a Congress candidate. He was again defeated by a political non-entity, one Bhaurao Borkar, fielded by the Congress in a by-election for the Bhandara Lok Sabha reserved seat in 1954. He ­realised that the system of political reservations had become an instrument of perpetuation of slavery and demanded its end on 21 October 1955.

While this reservation has been fully implemented, not a single dalit representative has ever raised his voice against any of the anti-dalit government policies or against the increasing incidence of atrocities. Rather, there is a plethora of examples to prove that they directly or indirectly supported such policies. Even during the post-Ambedkar period, the dalits kept on demanding an end to such reservations, but the ruling classes would not let go of this golden goose. In 1974, the Dalit Panthers of Gujarat had symbolically set fire to Article 330 demanding its end. In 1982, the 50th year of the Poona Pact, Kanshi Ram had launched a countrywide movement for its end, stating that such reservation had created a tribe of chamcha(stooges). But all this history is inconsequential to opportunists like Ramdas Athawale, who reap the “strange and bitter fruit” of this policy, even as they accuse Prakash Ambedkar as being anti-dalit.

Towards Annihilation

While the demand for ending political reservation is clearly justified, the demand for removing caste from school records may be cosmetic so long as reservations in the educational sphere are continued. It may however be justifiably said that those dalits or non-dalits who do not want to mention caste in school records should be allowed to do so. ­Today many people are humiliatingly forced to record the caste and religious identities of their children at the time of admission even though they do not ­believe in them. It may thus be viewed as a laudable suggestion to have a “no caste” option available for those who want to transcend this evil. This might bring down the number of people wanting to avail of reservations and also ­reveal the size of those who detest the caste system.

While this could be proposed as a minimalist solution, it is time one deeply reflected over these caste-based policies which have effectively perpetuated the caste system. Objectively speaking, caste-based reservations only matter in the professional courses being offered by a few reputed institutions – the Indian ­Institutes of Technology, the Indian ­Institutes of Management, and the like. The fact that reservations in these elite institutions go unfilled year after year for the want of candidates implies that not enough students qualify to reach these institutions even after lowering the qualifying cut-off to a dangerous level.

Dispassionate analysis of this pheno­menon would point to the weak foundation of dalit students, which in turn is attributable to the multilayered school education system that dishes out education to children according to the socio-economic standing of their parents. If all children were provided with free, quality education through a common school system as envisaged in the Constitution, there may not be any necessity for having such discriminatory caste-based ­policies. The implementation of the right to education (RTE), which was reluctantly bestowed as a consequence of a Supreme Court judgment and instituted by the much trumpeted RTE Act 2010, is much in violation of the original provisions of the Constitution. It has legitimated the multilayered educational system, mischievously bringing in reservation for the weaker sections as an antidote. ­Dalits as a social group can be seen as the worst victims of this so-called RTE but so effective is their political management that none of their leaders has raised even a feeble voice against it. Job reservation has been rendered ineffective because of negative growth of employment in the public sector since 1997. But instead of noting this stark reality and raising one’s voice against the neo-liberal policies of the government that have brought this about, dalit leaders keep singing the song of reservation and even claim that globalisation has been beneficial to them. Surely, such a stand is not conducive to the “annihilation-of-castes” vision of ­Babasaheb Ambedkar, just reiterated by Prakash Ambedkar.

Afzal Guru

There is an unspoken dictum that dalits are not supposed to speak beyond caste and therefore Prakash Ambedkar’s statement that Afzal Guru should not be hanged might be prima facie disturbing to many. Statesmanlike, in mid-December last year, Prakash rationally argued that the majority of Kashmiris wanted to be part of the Indian union, but if Afzal Guru were hanged, “they will doubt whether they will be part of a secular ­India”. He therefore demanded that the status quo on Afzal Guru be maintained. The statement tacitly implied that the majority of Kashmiris thought that Guru did not deserve the death sentence and if he were to be executed, this would be viewed as being communally inspired.

Afzal Guru’s conviction as well as ­execution has been commented upon by many legal luminaries and human rights activists as being in violation of the law. But, all Prakash Ambedkar did was to demand that the status quo be maintained. This however evoked venomous reaction from sections of the right-wing who had just showered praises on him for his views on reservations. While the angry reactions to his views on reservation from his rivals in dalit politics, who ­always did the bidding for the ruling classes, are understandable, so also is their silence on Afzal Guru. But, what is interesting is the extreme responses of love and hate from the Hindu right-wingers. As the views of individuals unprompted by any organised effort, the comments may reflect their general opposition to caste-based reservations, the sections of the Indian Constitution that have a bearing on these, and the Congress, which is identified as the progenitor of such reser­vations, but the fact is that the Bharatiya Janata Party, their party, today commands the maximum number of reserved seats. What is disturbing in this entire episode is the silence of the self-proclaimed ­progressives.

Anand Teltumbde ( is a writer and civil rights activist with the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, Mumbai.

Economic & Political weekly, Vol – XLVIII No. 11, March 16, 2013


Press Release: Emancipation of Indian Society is impossible without finding a solution to the Caste question


Arvind Memorial Trust
69 A, Baba Ka Purwa, Paper Mil Road, Nishatganj, Lucknow – 226006


Press Note

Attached: Hindi and Punjabi version of the press note along with few pictures.

Fourth Arvind Memorial Seminar has started in Chandigarh

Emancipation of Indian Society is impossible without finding a solution to the Caste question

Chandigarh, 12 March. The dicussion involving the various intellectuals and social activists arrived here from different corners of the country on the subject ‘Caste question amd Marxism‘ has started in the Fourth Arvind Memorial Seminar that has commenced in Bhakna Bhavan today.

At the very beginning of the seminar, it was clearly stated that no project of eliminating exploitation in Indian Society can be put forward without giving due consideration to the caste question. In this five-day seminar, various historians, social scientists, writers, social activities from states like Punjab, UP, Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra, Bihar etc. are participating. In addition, senior leaders from both the main political parties of Nepal are also participating along with the intellectuals from the Britain and Germany.

In the commencing session of the seminar, Satyam from Arvind Institute of Marxist Studies said that in the seminar, issues like relation between Marxism and Ambedkarism, political ideas of Dr. Ambedkar, Marxist Understanding of the caste qusetion, historiographic writing of the caste question, caste question and dalit literature & aesthetics etc. will be thoroughly debated so that the obtacles to the social change can be removed. He said that in last few years the mechanical thinking prevalent in Marxist circles has undergone a change and in Dalitists also, questions are being raised regarding the ideas of Dr. Ambedkar.

Satyam also said that there has been a trend to bring a compromise between the Marxism & Ambedkarism, and a trend of subaltern & identity politics. Analysis of these trends from Marxist perspective is also the need of the hour.

Managing trustee of Arvind Memorial Trust, Meenakashi said that a national level seminar on the important issues concerning the communist movement of India is organized every year in the memory of Com. Arvind. Arvind Institute of Marxist Studies has been founded to carry out the research and study on the theoretical and practical issues faced by the communist movement of India.

While welcoming the various guests reached for the seminar, Sukhwinder, editor of Punjabi magazine Pratibadh said that left movement in Punjab has a distinct history and the caste question has also always remained here in its peculiar form. It has been a big thing for us that such a seminar is being organized here in Chandigarh.

The commencing session was presided over by the politburo member of Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and famous literary critic Ninu Chapagai, senior trade-unionist from Mumbai Deepati, Trustee of Arvind Memorial Trust Meenakshi, and editor of Magazine ‘Ahwan’ Abhinav. The stage was conducted by poetess Katyayani.

The program started after paying homage to Comrade Arvind. Then the team from ‘Vihaan’ cultural group presented revolutionary songs.

Overall, 14 papers and write-ups will be presented in the seminar on different aspects of the subject. The base paper of the seminar ‘Caste Question and its solution: A Marxist Viewpoint’ is prepared by the research team of Arvind Institute of Marxist Studies. Other papers include ‘Ambedkarism and Dalit Liberation’ by Sukhwinder, editor of Punjabi journal Pratibaddh; ‘Historiography of Caste’ by Abhinav, editor, Aahwan; ‘Class, Caste and Identity Politics‘ by Shivani, Delhi University; ‘Caste and Politics in West Bengal‘ by Praskanva Sinharay, CSSS, Kolkata; ‘Caste and Sex in Marxist Traditions’ by Dr. Rajarshi Dasgupta, JNU; Marxism and the caste question’ by Asit Das, Researcher and Activist, New Delhi; ‘On Identity Politics’ by Prashant Gupta, B.R. Ambedkar College, Delhi University; On Conjoint Relevance of Marxism and Ambedkarism by Sukhdev Singh Janagal, Punjab and on the limitations of caste and identity politics by Jai Prakash of the ‘Jati Virodhi Andolan’.

Eminent historian Prof. Irfan Habib will send a background note on caste in India, Ninu Chapagain, Politburo Member and in charge of the Cultural Division of UCPN (M) will present a write-up on ‘The Dalit Question and Aesthetics’ and a paper ‘Towards A Programme for Abolition of Material Basis of Casteist Hierarchy’ by Dr. Anant Phadke, Shramik Mukti Dal (Democratic), Pune will be presented. Prof. William Paul Cockshott, University of Glasgow will make a presentation through internet linkup and his paper ‘Dr. Ambedkar or Dr. Marx’ will be circulated as a background note.

— Meenakshy (Managing Trustee), Anand Singh (Secretary)

Arvind Memorial Trust

For more information, please contact:
Katyayani – 09936650658, Satyam – 9910462009, Namita (Chandigarh) – 9780724125


Arc of Justice: What’s in a name?


Mirroring the contradictory discourses at play in Dalit discourse.
Ananya VajpeyiMirroring the contradictory discourses at play in Dalit discourse.

Ambedkar’s Buddhism suggests ways to tackle both the politics and metaphysics of identity.

A conference on “Phule-Ambedkar Ideology” and its influence on literature took me to Nasik, Maharashtra, in late January 2013. Hosted at a small local college, the conference drew speakers mostly from universities within Maharashtra, but also a few outsiders like me. Besides a number of academics from the region, poets Vaharu Sonawane and Lakshman Gaekwad, and politicians Udit Raj and Raja Dhale also attended, and made impassioned speeches. The focus was supposed to be on literature — autobiographies, biographies, novels, plays, poetry, literary criticism and aesthetic theories — but perhaps inevitably the discussion, proceeding mostly in Marathi, included all aspects of Dalit life, politics, history and writing. Outside in the college courtyard, a book display included not just a sample of literary works in Marathi and Hindi by Dalit writers, but also an assortment of books by or to do with Gautama Buddha, Kabir, Mahatma Phule, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Vinayak Savarkar, Chatrapati Shivaji, and, oddly, Adolf Hitler and Barack Obama. Some pamphlets on reservations policy, human rights and constitutional law were also on sale. Radical and reactionary works sat side-by-side on tables laid out in the winter sun; the uncomfortable assemblage mirrored quite precisely the contradictory tendencies at play in Dalit discourse in Maharashtra today.

Later, whilst speaking with some of the conference participants as well as with activists outside the academy who happened to be living in Nasik, I discovered for the first time that among groups that self-identify as Ambedkarite Buddhist or Neo-Buddhist, the term “Dalit” is no longer favoured.

Why is this? I asked. Because it connotes humiliation, was one reply, and because it is still tied to the Hindu caste system. But isn’t the humiliation productive of righteous anger and defiant energy, and hadn’t the Hindu caste system been left behind through the outright rejection of terms like “Untouchable”, “Mahar”, “antyaja”, “panchama” and even the Gandhian “Harijan”? My informants disagreed. “We are Buddhists,” they said, “and we are followers of Babasaheb. These terminologies are now redundant. We have nothing to do with Hinduism or its hierarchies.”

But how do you build solidarities with other followers of Ambedkar who are not Buddhists (like in north India or south India), and who do use names like “Dalit” or “Dalit-Bahujan” to describe their socio-political identity? I did not receive any clear response to this question, despite posing it in myriad ways. Perhaps there is a genuine impasse in the building of an all-India Dalit movement precisely for this reason; that at a fundamental level different segments do not have similar ways of constructing identity or of situating evolving identities with regard to either recent or deep history.

Economically and educationally advancing Maharashtrian Buddhists, whom I encountered in Nasik, expressed their discomfort not just with “Dalit” but also with “Scheduled Caste” as an appellation. They regarded “SC/ST” certificates as useful instruments in terms of accessing certain forms of social justice and political representation, but also seemed resentful of the connotations of inequality and lack of ability, the smell of being “undeserving” of a rightful place alongside others that sneak in along with the Trojan horse of reservation. Buddhism seemed then to be a provisional solution to the problem of identity. It makes a clear break from the Hindu caste system, but also brackets the subtly humiliating baggage of modern forms of compensatory discrimination. Not that the actual problems go away if we do not take their name, but at least Buddhism provides some sort of breathing room away from the entire dynamic of caste and the annihilation of caste in which generations of people have been trapped for nearly three quarters of a century now.

More recently at my place of work, in a special meeting to mark 30 years of Ranajit Guha’s foundational work of Subaltern Studies, Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India(1983), poet and scholar Professor Badri Narayan, associated with the G.B. Pant Social Science Institute in Allahabad, spoke about Dalit politics in Uttar Pradesh. Not only did he use terms like “Dalit” and “Dalit-Bahujan”, he also described how particular jatis like the Chamars — because of the direct patronage of leaders like the late Kanshi Ram and former UP Chief Minister Mayawati — seemed to enjoy prominence and privileges far in excess of well over 60 other Dalit groups in the state. This has created new inequalities and imbalances within the Dalit community, adding to the already existing distortions in the relations between upper castes and backward castes, the majority community and the minority Muslims, and other problems of UP’s social landscape with which we are all familiar.

Professor Narayan suggested that elements like widespread education, the formation of an elite class, the activities of intellectuals, the awareness of caste histories and their availability in written form — all of these provide value and visibility to the Chamars, while other communities lag behind. He too reported that the increasing use of Buddhist imagery, concepts and vocabulary when addressing the most backward of the Dalit groups in UP was proving to be a somewhat effective antidote to persistent feelings of low status, lack of self-worth and self-confidence, and the sense of being stuck in a centuries-old rut inside traditional caste politics.

Badri Narayan did not develop this point extensively, but there might be a way in which it is not just the overt politics of Buddhist identification that proves to be empowering (Buddhists are not Hindus), but also the very nature of Buddhist epistemology that could be emancipatory (managing and overcoming perceptions in order to grasp reality, the negation of appearances in order to approach actuality). As Neo-Buddhists and non-Buddhist Dalits evolve various strategies of self, sovereignty and empowerment, and figure out the common goals of their distinct practices of identity-formation, B.R. Ambedkar’s far-sightedness in embracing Buddhism will surely become more clear to us than it might be today.


Violence rocks Dalit hostel as Patna varsity looks the other way

RAHI GAIKWAD, The Hindu Feb 7,2013

  • A portion of the Bhimrao Ambedkar Welfare Hostel of the Patna University where Dalit students are staying. Photo: Ranjeet Kumar
    A portion of the Bhimrao Ambedkar Welfare Hostel of the Patna University where Dalit students are staying. Photo: Ranjeet Kumar
  • A portion of the Bhimrao Ambedkar Welfare Hostel of the Patna University where Dalit students are staying. Photo: Ranjeet Kumar
    A portion of the Bhimrao Ambedkar Welfare Hostel of the Patna University where Dalit students are staying. Photo: Ranjeet Kumar

A mob burst on the scene as night fell. Equipped with hockey sticks, bricks, stones, firearms and crude bombs it prepared for an assault.

“You are Harijans,” it yelled. “You have no right to read and write. Your work is to mend shoes and chappals. We will keep you as servants in our houses. Your ancestors did the same work. You leave the hostel or else there will be a massacre.” This is part of a police statement given by a Dalit student residing in the Bhimrao Ambedkar Welfare Hostel of Patna University (PU) facility.

Last week, the hostel witnessed fierce caste violence in which three Dalit students were injured.

“Around 30 men came shouting Brahmeshwar Mukhiya zindabad, Mukhiya amar rahe [Long live the Mukhiya] and Ambedkar ko phuk do [Destroy Ambedkar]. They stood outside the hostel and started throwing stones. They dragged and beat up a student. Firing shots and bombs rent the air. We ran inside the hostel. All we had to defend against the armed attack were brick pieces used to support the cots in our room,” Satyaprakash, a student at the Ambedkar hostel, told The Hindu.

‘Mukhiya’ refers to the slain Ranvir Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh.

Located in Patna’s ‘coaching district’, the hostel forms part of the Saidpur hostel campus of PU. Facing it is a cluster of five hostels for general category students, collectively called the ‘Saidpur hostel’, which has gained notoriety over the years for nurturing hooligans and becoming a virtual den of anti-socials from the landowning Bhumihar caste, particularly from the badlands of Jehanabad district.

“While students from other castes reside in the Saidpur hostel, since very early days, it has been dominated by the “so-called” students of the landlord caste, mostly Bhumihars. The boys come mostly from Jehanabad, Gaya and Nalanda districts. Though it’s for all students, including those from SC, when students are enrolled, they either belong to the Saidpur hostel or the Ambedkar hostel,” official sources told The Hindu.

A clear topographical division on caste lines thus separates the two hostels. “Yahan par Jehanabad ke khas jati ke khas logon ka dabang hai [A particular caste from Jehanabad wields clout here]. Only a Jehanabad Bhumihar can stay here without being harassed. Others; say a Yadav boy comes along; he is beaten up and made to flee. The miscreants then get their own relatives to stay. Many of them don’t even know where PU is. There is a terrible situation here,” a Saidpur resident told The Hindu on condition of anonymity.

Gangster Guddu Sharma, who was shot dead in Delhi a few years ago, was a product of the Saidpur hostel. In fact, this hostel is one of the reasons why a police check post in the area was converted into a full-fledged police station in 2007.

A common power grid that supplies electricity to the entire neighbourhood is one of the key triggers for such attacks, as it was last week.

“That evening, there was a power cut at the Ambedkar hostel, but not at the Saidpur general hostel. The Ambedkar students went to the electricity office, situated on the same campus, to take stock of the mater. Seeing them, the Saidpur boys hurtled down and started hurling caste abuses, such as ‘Harijans’ ‘dusadhs’ and ‘chamars’ [all lower caste names]’,” as per another police statement of a student.

“When we asked for power supply, they said, ‘Have you ever seen light in your life?’” Satyaprakash recalled.

The official sources said, in a situation where the Ambedkar hostel had power and Saidpur hostel did not, there was immense pressure on electricity officials to cut the supply to the Ambedkar hostel. “Seeing an equal distribution of facilities stokes the caste jealousies of the Saidpur hostellers, Many times fights over power supply take the form of caste clashes,” an official source said.

“There have been times,” said a general student, “when the whole area is plunged into darkness, but only the Saidpur hostel is lit.” Disconnecting water supply to the Ambedkar hostel is another means of showing caste dominance. The tap dries up at 9 a.m. and its water is dirty. At any given point of time, a few students suffer from jaundice.

At the heart of the matter, said students, lies plain caste hatred, “a determined effort to display caste superiority.”

The police have registered an FIR under the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act. Five persons — Atul Shekhar, Amit Kumar, Ashutosh Kumar, Nupendra Kumar and Shishuranjan Kumar — are under arrest.

Sources told The Hindu that the police initially arrested 10 persons, but high-level manoeuvring facilitated the release of five of them. There are also complaints that while the real fish get away, “legal students” get wrongly implicated in cases.

So acute is the problem of “illegal occupancy” that even authorities are at the end of their tether. Officials put the size of illegal occupants to a whopping 80 per cent.

“The number is so huge that once even the Special Task Force [personnel] was beaten up by them. The unauthorised boys know nothing will happen. PU does not want to interfere. Perhaps they are scared. You need the Rapid Action Force to crack down. They have been staying there for years,” an authoritative source from the university, who did not wish to named, told The Hindu.

The police, on their part, perceive a limited role for themselves in the matter. “We have raised the matter with the university in vain,” they said.

When asked, PU proctor Kirteshwar Prasad told The Hindu: “We are trying to get them vacated. We are on the job. We had written to the administration. We will write to them, namely the senior superintendent of police and the district magistrate, who are the competent authority.”

The incident received biased coverage in the press, according to the Ambedkar hostel students. “The news report in a leading Hindi daily pinned the blame on us. It said we were the ones to attack. Their numbers are huge. How can we possibly attack them” they asked.

An official source concurred. “That report is totally false. We were on the ground, we know what happened. The report paints an entirely wrong picture. The local media has played a very bad role in this.”

Despite arrests, the trouble is far from being over. There are indications that in light of this incident, the Saidpur hostel is looking at acquiring more arms. Financial contributions collected for the upcoming Saraswati puja could provide the means.

The spectre of routine caste violence looms large over the Dalit students. They dare not take the short-cut to the university, as it passes through the Saidpur hostel.


#India- Why there are so few senior Dalit bureaucrats

Vinay Sitapati , Indian Express

Since they are in the bottom half of the merit list of the UPSC exam, they are likely to be under-represented in senior government service decades later

Here’s a fact you can’t tear up in Parliament. It provides the basis for the current constitutional amendment bill providing quotas in promotions for Dalits and tribals in government service. Despite six decades of entry-level quotas, there are few Dalit senior officers. By one count, of around 88 secretary-level posts in the Central government, not one is filled by a Dalit. Systemic discrimination, allege its proponents. Is that the only explanation for this “fact”?

To begin with, who appoints officers to senior posts? In the last decade or so, it is well known that ministers, not senior bureaucrats judging their own, choose key bureaucrats. Central secretaries (after empanelment) are often chosen by the concerned minister. It seems schizophrenic for politicians to systematically discriminate against Dalits and tribal officers, yet overwhelmingly vote for a law to correct this.

This “fact” is also a partial picture. As the submissions before the court argued, anecdotal evidence suggests Dalits are well represented in the state (as opposed to Central) bureaucracy. It is hard to read meaning into this without comprehensive data — something the courts asked for and the government refused to provide.

During the Constituent Assembly debates in the late 1940s, no one questioned the grievous historic injustice meted out to Dalits and tribals. An independent India agreed to inherit that sin. The logical solution was a strong state that protected these groups from discrimination, providing them quality schooling, health and opportunity. But the flailing Indian state was not capable of “delivering” real social justice so quickly. Reservations were a second-best solution. Since the state could not, in a generation, correct the inequities of the past, reservations would correct caste prejudice within the state, and create a Dalit middle class. These thousands of jobs and college seats were important; but they were (and are) no substitute for more essential social justice — providing succour to the millions of deprived Dalits and tribals outside of the state.

It is catastrophic to admit now, 60 years later, that far from preventing discrimination against Dalits outside the narrow confines of the state, the Indian government has been unable to protect Dalit officers within the state. That is what the bill implies. Fortunately, this is not true. Since Independence, Dalits have been empowered within the state — through quotas and powerful political parties. Overwhelming political support for the constitutional amendment is proof of this. Yet, Dalits and tribals remain the poorest, most discriminated, least literate Indians outside of the state. This then, is the 21st century consequence of what B.R. Ambedkar alluded to half-a-century ago: “in politics, we will have equality, and in social and economic life we will have inequality”.

What then explains why there are, in some cases, so few senior government officers who are Dalit?

Let me suggest one. In any organisation, those who are towards the top of an entrance exam are more likely to rise to the top, compared to the bottom half. Our cabinet secretaries and foreign secretaries have typically been those nearer the top of the UPSC examination when they first joined. Even those at the bottom of the general list in the UPSC struggle to make it as Central secretaries. This is a trend seen in entrance exams everywhere. Those towards the top of an engineering or medical college entrance test tend to leave college at the top of the pile. Why should government be any different? Since Dalits and tribals are at the bottom of the merit list (since most avail of quotas), they are likely to be under-represented in senior government service decades later. Add to this the problem that since age restrictions are relaxed for them, Dalits and tribals officers tend to enter service older, retiring before reaching senior posts.

Is this fair? Of course not. But the real tragedy is not why there are so few Dalits and tribals in senior government posts. It is why, 60 years after Independence, so few of them make it to the top of the general list. The answer is blindingly clear. So little government money (and frankly, the energy of social justice advocates) is spent on improving public schools, colleges and scholarships — the surest way for historically marginalised groups to overcome the lack of social capital back home.

This is only a hypothesis. But it offers a compelling counter to the claim, made without any systematic evidence, that the seeming absence of Dalits in top bureaucratic posts is, of itself, evidence of discrimination.

The bill does more than divert attention from social justice. It hurts the only force (apart from the market) with the ability to improve the condition of Dalits and tribals: the state. Bureaucracy 101, since first written by Max Weber, dictates that efficient organisations have to be hierarchical and internally meritocratic. This is intuitive: if your junior or peer becomes your boss solely on the basis of identity, how likely are you to perform? By making the state the site of social justice, instead of the vehicle for social justice, the interests of the marginalised are harmed most.

Are those few politicians opposing the bill mouthing these liberal and socially just arguments? Well, Exhibit A is the Shiv Sena, about the most illiberal party in Indian history. Exhibit B is the Samajwadi Party, whose member tore a copy of the bill in Parliament. Mulayam Singh Yadav, more than any other, grasps the bill’s cynical aim. The current amendment is in response to a court judgment invalidating a law passed by Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh. Her BSP owes its origins to Dalit government officers such as Kanshi Ram, who first organised within the bureaucracy, then floated a political party outside. Dalit bureaucrats are the feeder service into Dalit politics. For Mulayam, this Bill will empower his opponent in his home state — and for that reason alone, his Lohiaite backward caste party will tear a pro-reservation bill. When illiberal and cynical laws are opposed by illiberal and cynical people, democracy’s doom is not far.

The writer is a lawyer and doctoral candidate at Princeton University, US


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