Secularism, Modernity, Nation: Epistemology of the Dalit Critique Author(s): Aditya Nigam Source: Economic and Political Weekly
, Vol. 35, No. 48 (Nov. 25 - Dec. 1, 2000), pp. 4256-4268 Published by: Economic and Political Weekly Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4410008 . Accessed: 09/05/2011 17:50
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how the entire upper caste discourse.Dalit politics embodies a dogged resistance to the binaries set up by modern politics in the era of nationalist struggle and subsequently in the contemporary moment. at its core. but they were the marginalised tendencies. a resistance to the very universalisms that characterise the emancipatory discourses of modernity which placed at their very centre.Modernity. However. To be sure. unimarkedcitizen 4256
Universal Man . It is also worth pointing out here that a critique of abstract unmarkedcitizenship does not entail a critique of the notion of universal citizenship. even as the radical and secular potential of caste is stressed. the problematic 'thirdterm' that continuously challenges the common sense of the secular-modern. thatbetween the subject and the object. strictly speaking.profound way. In a sense.the dalit critique presents a challenge to the central diremption instituted by modernity. In fact.Nation
The emphasis on the language of 'merit'.Special
Secularism. it is precisely to make the latter more meaningful that the idea of a citizenship that is exhausted by the 'bilateral relationship between state and individual'. these implicit critiques do interrogate the two great artefacts of political modernity in India . It refuses to get incorporatedinto either term of the binary of nationalism/ colonialism andsecularism/communalism. hegemonic traditions continued to stand in favour of such abstract notions of citizenship that recognised only national identity. we may note the 'neglect of minority cultures' inherent in this idea. 'has deep roots in the western political tradition' and was the dominant common sense of both liberal and marxist traditions throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. that is the community can also be recognised as a rights-beai-ng subject [Kymlicka and Van Dyke 1997. even making 'caste' respectable. and what it has to say to the believers and practitioners radical-secular politics. What do I mean by the 'Dalit Critique' of modernity? Is there a body of writings by the dalits that we may call 'a critiqueof modernity'? At least in the manifest sense. there is little attempt to theorise the question of caste. I use the term here to refer to the fact that what we can extricate as the dalit critique represents a resistance to some of the key political and theoretical categories of our modern po-
litical discourse . raise a fundamentalquestion about the possibility of the 'knowing subject' who standsoutside the so-called object whose history she writes and about whom this subject 'produces knowledge'.or the equally abstract 'working class'. but more specifically since the anti-Mandal agitation. religion. so that the third party. This resistance to these categories of modern politics is. to talk of a dalit critique of modernity. Democratic constitutions. The second clarification concerns the very overused term 'modernity'. did so too with the individual citizen in mind. Science and Reason. I will talk not about the dalit experience but about what the knowledge produced by dalit scholars has to say to us as 'academic scholars'(unmarked. the abstract. However. or in a different name. as Vernon Van Dyke and Will Kymlicka argue.much like the feminists . the 'secularity' of caste and the dalit movement have proved effctive in combating the rising Hindutva forces.
of this paper need to be made at he very outset.not merely a 'political difference' of opinion on strategy or tactics. like feminist ones. the insistence that 'authentic' knowledge about the dalit can only be produced by a dalit breaks down the subject-object dualism in a. of course). by speaking the languageof'merit'. Heater 1999]. The centrality it accords to the experience of caste oppression.if without a name. But in the post-Mandal period. when they did stipulate against discrimination on grounds of race. Dalit histories.both during the anticolonial struggle and now . dalit accounts of the past. 'efficiency' and even 'class' and 'economic deprivation'. However. In what follows. there isn't one. it may be incorrect. as the subject of history. I would argue. it is the argument of this paper that such a critique does exist . That no dalit histories could be produced till dalits themselves started writing their own history . This paper explores the theoretical implications of a radical. ever unable to share the experience of oppression. The unspeakability November 25. In a larger and deeper sense. community. etc. Dalit politics in my reading is deeply resistant to both the ideas. It represents in its very existence. is sought to be critiqued. A critique of modernityis an 'absent presence' in a large body of dalit writings which we need to extricate in order to be able to appreciate manyof the moreproblematicaspectsof the dalitrelationshipto radical-secularpolitics. We have seen in the last two decades. 2000
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. the term also refers to the fact that in its emergence .secularism and the nation.1 The third clarification relates to the use of the term 'epistemology'.points to a deeper problem with academic histories written from the distance of a scientist. successfully repressed the category of caste. secular politics and to unravel the existentialist dilemmas of dalit politics. as I will argue. In parenthesis. if by that term we simply mean modern development. there were 'countervailing' arguments in favour of minority rights too. 'efficiency' and class has enabled the upper caste discourse to repress successfully the category of caste.
Let me quote a long footnote from his chapterin the above book. he
says.The problem however. I will try to explore the theoreticalimplications for a radical secular politics. but the alleged root of the modernor postcolonial nationstate in rationalism. form the object of a very different history and need not at all be affected by the former. However. The fact that it was the irreducibility of caste divisions that actually turned out to be the rock against which the project of Hindutva seemed to flounder. Sarkargoes on to characterise this 'deafening silence' of the 'bulk of subaltern studies historiography in these areas' as symptomatic of the general disease. he does not lead us there. It appeared therefore as a matter of deep embarrass4257
November 25. "Indian Nationalismand the Politics of Hindutva". Sarkar points to an aspect of the politics of knowledge that will concern us in this essay: the way in which the categories of thoughtandknowledge shape the very possibilities of political action. of course. "Identity and Difference: Caste in the Formation of the Ideologies of Nationalism and Hindutva" to the question of 'caste'. it was simply because it kept irrupting shamelessly onto the political stage.properly indigenous. Here. to proceed with Sarkar's argument: The result of this connection. illegitimate to talk of caste as a category in the writing of nationalist history precisely because in it the only legitimate actors were the forces of imperialism and nationalism. it is radical and secular. continues: Less obvious. pressing 'lower class-' discontent.I have been going back recentlyto some of theearlytwentiethcenturyBengal materialwhich I must have had a look at while writing my Swadeshi Movement in Bengal (New Delhi. I notice now (emph added). One would imagine that the 'very obvious reasons' that he refers to above. In his book. there has been little attemptto theorise the question of caste and its possible 'secularity'. even while presentingsympatheticaccountsof movements like Phule's Satyashodhak Samaj. However. Despite having given more space to caste than many others. Interesting here. The logical connection between the critique of colonial discourse and the search for authentic/indigenous traditions is. Sarkarsuggests that the elision of the category of caste. of trying to understand the existential dilemmas of dalit politics. It was backward and retrogradewhen the hegemony of secular-nationalismwas unchallenged. is thatwhile gestures towards the 'radical and secular' potential of caste are routinely made by the secularists. merely asserted.in his own writings of thattime. Caste seems now to have been quite a central theme: it had figured only marginallyin my doctoral dissertation and subsequent work [Sarkar 1997]. I will argue. and thereforemore worrying. In arguing so. for the purpose of posing our'problem. In the world of political action. Modern India (Delhi. made the category of caste respectable.Sarkar devotes an entire chapter. would lead him to deploy his analytical skills in laying bare the structure and assumptions of nationalist thought which rendered caste silent. his work too continued to see it as the 'false consciousness' of a 'sectional' form (a section? of the nation? the class?). where he makes a kind of self-interrogation: My own writingscan providesome telling examples. one could only be either a nationalist or an imperialist stooge.sucWestern.resistanceandculture [Sarkar 1996]. However. this is certainly not an elision that is peculiar to the hardcore of nationalist historiography and something simply reproduced by the subaltern historians due to their 'obsession with colonial discourse'. In otherwords. Writing Social Histor3y. are some recenttendenciesthat seem to be reproducingthat silence (emphasis added)preciselythroughwhat is accepted and by nanyas themostradical chiccritique of all suchnation-state The projects.Enlightenment cessfully imposed on the ThirdWorld by colonial culturaldomination.to follow the main lines of his argument. In this paper. I will begin by posing the problem with reference to two recent essays by Sumit Sarkar. the only otherserious alternative to it in India. 2000
. however. Isn't the delegitimisation of caste already accomplished in this understanding?If the thing called caste had occasionally been given space in any kind of history writing. 1996]. never demonstrated. particularly of the dalit movement. Sarkaronly points in that direction.The logical on corollaryof this totalconcentration the critiqueof colonial discourse is that only movementsoraspectsof life demonstrably freeof suchWesternor rationalist taintcan be given the status of authentic.to have been then 'quite a central theme' had appeared only marginally . In the recent past. We need not go into the details of that debate here but it is instructive. Sarkar takes the instance of the "text-book understanding"of "late colonial history" which in his view.of caste. which is best understood by following him part of the way through his polemic with the historians of the Subaltern School. is still largely "grounded on the assumption that the entire meaningful world of political action and discourse can be comprehended through the categories of imperialism. burden of this critique is no longer class or even elite domination. while protests and resistances whether supposedly 'tainted' by 'rationalism' or not. In the process. it was also a result of the modernist discomfort with non-secular and 'retrograde' categories that really provided the overarching rationale within which the discourse of the upper castes took shape.if sympathetically ." (emphasis added) [Sarkar 1997]. which seems now to Sarkar. thatI had kept on using phrases like 'false consciousness of caste solidarity' and 'sectional forms' of ex-. especially in the post-Mandal commission period. but also figures like Phule or Ambedkar or the many movements that have tried to extend the rightsof lowercastes and women elements from by selectively appropriating western discourses and even on using colonial statepolicies as resources"[Sarkar 1996]. is that "(I)t then becomes difficult to study with any markedsympathy..protest. 1983) probablygave more space to caste movements than did most other surveys of late colonial history. was not simply a matterof the casteism of the upper castes. however.is not merely an oversight: it is a silencing that is entailed by the illegitimacy bestowed on it by the very structureof historiographicaldiscourse. The thrustof his argumenton the contrary. marxist historiographytoo. Sarkar.. pushes in a very different direction. as Sarkar himself indirectly admits. namely. he confronts the problem of what he calls the "historiographical silencing" and "elisions of the category of caste" (pp 29293) and the "very obvious links between such silencing and the priorities of mainstream nationalist history writing" (emphasis added) [Sarkar1997.As a matterof fact. however. suffered from the same distorted vision. Caste. it can be argued that the two are logically distinct questions: the object of the critiques of colonial discourse is colonialism. not only the history of the traditional Marxist left. or has been. now that bad days are here and the need for all kinds of allies is pressing. But that is precisely what he does not do. the secularist has discovered the 'secularity' of 'caste'. in historiography. the politics of the dalit movement is never sought to be understood on its own terms. nationalism and colonialism. It Economic and Political Weekly
is. is the suggestion that not only was nationalist historiography guilty of eliding caste.as in theearlierpaper. 1973).
but as the subject who writes her own history. to innumerable smaller. resists the incorporation into the nationalist narratives. I read in this passage the idea that the relationship of the historian/scholarto the 'material' or archive is always mediated by the external world of the present. both the manner and the moment of the emergence of the new dalit assertion.despite heavy investments in the modern . Nehru then goes on to say that he felt angry with Gandhi for 'his religious and sentimental approach to a political question'.to be willing parts of the two great artefacts of our modernity. (b) struggles around gender oppression. custodial rape. One of these developments. fromthedalit/depressedclasses' point of view.when it did.not merely as the object whose history 'we' secular historians and scholars can now write. Nehru's deep embarrassment is evident in his expressions like 'a side-issue'. For this led' to the diversionof thepeople's attentionfromthe objective of full independence to tile 4258
mIundane cause of the upliftment of the
Harijans (emphasis added. What would be the result on our freedom movement? Would not the larger issues fade into the background. can we really avoid the suggestion that the 'elision of caste' may have stemmed from reasons not really all that obvious (like the upper caste character of nationalism. but as the voice that demands recognition in its own right. I will therefore argue that.. or 'something insignificant'. describes the 'emotional crisis' and the bouts of 'anger and hopelessness' that Gandhi's decision threw him into.and in partan acceptance.Periyar.ment . against its own self-perception.so does the present dalit movement resist the bid to assimilate its voice into that of secularism.4 The backlash to the implementation of backward caste reservations by the KarpooriThakurgovernment in Bihar and the massive anti-reservationriots.. The task that I seek toundertake in the rest of the paper then. why is it that when. Yet it was to his credit thathe alone among leadersof theCongress. the same historian confronts the same material. saw the appearance of the first rupturesin the secular-nationalistdiscourse that had emerged out of the freedom struggle. we
must begin to deal with dalit history not as an adjunct to. We now know that Gandhi stood then on the wrong side of thedivide. For the first time. altering somewhat a Foucauldian expression.embodied in the abstractcitizen. modernity appearsas the liberator from the tyranny of the past Brahminical order. This may sound strange because in the entire manifest discourse of the leaders of the dalit and more generally. before I go on to elaborate it. on the first visit. especially dowry. non-Brahmin leaders. if the early dalit bahujan assertions in the personalitiesof Ambedkar. after a gap of 20 years. For. It is this emergence of the dalit as the subject-object of another history . forcing her into endless rereadings.transformationsthat mark the present conjuncture? To be more specific.)3 What finds expression in both Nehru and Namboodiripad here is precisely a modernist discomfort with the category of caste and as I will try to demonstrate later in this paper.
Dalits and Others
The decade of the 1980s.of the Communal Award. is to read the dalit movement and its discourse as a text. which enables this re-visioning. was our movementto tail off into somethinginsignificant?"[J Nehru]. was meant to be achieved by erasing and repressing particular identities. the insurrection of little selves.including that of historiography? In other words. grapthenationalist pled with the question of bringing them into the anticolonial movement all his life. in protest against Ramsay Macdonald's grantof a separateelectorate to the 'Depressed Classes'. their argument is clearly drawn from the arsenal of anti-imperialist nationalism rather than from that of an upper caste position. as Sarkarseems to suggest)2 but could have something to do with the modernist-universalistdesire to 'transcend' narrow 'sectional' identities? I will just add two more instances here to buttress my point.. a history of nationalism and secularism. in that case. is what I will term. Reacting from Dehra Dun jail..one that falls outside the reckoning of secular/nationalist historians that we must now deal with. for the time being at least?. were the early signs of what was to burst forth November 25.just a question of electorate. A fundamental restructuringof our vision has taken place in the last decade or more. This project. direct us to read it as a critique of modernity. Wehave seen that at least four majorstrandscan be discerned in this series of developments: (a) subnational assertions for movements of autonomy and occasionally. merely reiterating its supposed 'secularity'.Andwas not his action a recognition. namely. sati. and such others. secularism and the nation. reinterpreting 'facts'. and restructuring her vision to be able to 'see' those 'facts'. My second example: E M S Namboodiripad in his History of the Indian Freedom Struggle comments on the Poona Pactandthe greatclash of the titans. leaving us in no doubt that what irked him was the 'irrationality' of Gandhiandiscourse. this insurrection of little selves marks a global crisis of modernity and its great projectof realising the emancipation of Universal Man . That many of us today can see what we were hitherto unable to. etc. in orderto extricate the elements of an epistemology of its critique of modernity. we can hear precisely their refusal . this crisis has been coeval with the crisis of the nationalist imaginary and the nation state. is no mere individual achievement. I have argued elsewhere. a legitimate object of left-radical discourse . unmarkedby any identity. the overarching 'Indian' identity gives way during this period. Nehru in fact. Nehru expressed his great annoyance with Gandhi. in his autobiography.After so much sacrifice and brave endeavour. In India. If that be the case. 2000
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. With this 'insurrection of little selves'. that it was his stubborn Hindu upper-caste self that resisted their attempt to find separate representation. There is another issue that arises from Sarkar's passage above: why is it today thatcaste has suddenly become visible and more importantly. his reaction to Gandhi's announcement of his fast from Yervada prison. 'fragmented' identities. And this restructuringof our cherished intellectual frameworks has been forced by developments from the outside. this was a great blow to the freedom movement.Gandhi and Ambedkar thus: However. belonging as it does to this instance of crisis. In the same passage. Nehru mentions. As I will argue later in this chapter. or a part of. seemed so marginal? Can we read this as a result of the other that largertransformations have takenplace in recent years . In other words.Iyothee Thass. for choosing a side-issue for his final sacrifice . directed against the dalits in Gujaratin 1981. thoughall his moves were quite insensitive to the lived experience of the dalits. If we listen attentively to the voices from within. (c) ecological movements centering on the displacement of people by mega-development projects and the question of local access to andcontrol over naturalresources and finally (d) the coming to the fore of issues of caste oppression in the north. we realise today. the dalit has emerged . the desire for secession. s/he discovers the centralityof a theme that had.
However. freedom. this extends to a positive assessment of colonial rule. and (c)'the brahminicalcommunist nationalism represented by P C Joshi. I take one of the best articulated critiques.. 2000
. the struggle of the dalits had to begin afresh in very different circumstances. A footnote in the latter essay. The motifs are all there and clear. I will occasionally refer to some others. which western education and an acquaintancewith political liberalism had provoked into existence. thatprovided the main ingredients of the emancipatory struggle of the nonBrahminand the adi-dravidas (the dalits). a language of rights. R PDutt. ChandraBhan Prasad. idiosyncratic position. I will also refer. for the purposes of this paper. relates the conflict between the militant farmers' movement in Karnataka and the dalits. (b) Hindunationalismrepresentedby Tilak. a 200 years of modern development and four decades of independence later. the very dispersal of the community often made such imaginings impossible andreflected itself in imagining India differently. the ideas of liberty. It would be interesting to take a look at this new critique now. for instance. with which were associated the notions of liberty. industrialrevolution. of such moves since it smacksof the caste Hindu hegemony of the past" fNagaraj 1993]. and which eventually found their embodiment in the Indian Constitution. MahatmaGandhi (and in the second essay. it may be necessary to recall the'common sense.develop that sense of solidarity and unity without which' India will continue to be a group of mutually exclusive warring groups without common purpose and common patriotism' [Geetha and Ravindran 1998]. It is true that a 'critique of the concrete Indian nation. Dalits are vary.it was Assamese. Emergence urban was intrinsicallyinterwoven with inventions of moderntools. In all their writings.
The New Dalit Critique
In the above mentioned essay as well as in 'acompanion' piece. The language of rights. concrete discourse of nationhood thathad submerged their specific cultures. It was seen as a kind of Bonapartist regime that could balance different interests and provide. I will not dwell on these different strandswithin the movement and treat the dalit-bahujandiscourse as one.a leading dalit intellectual. M N Roy. A relentless resistance to the idea of abstract citizenship. To the extent that modernity in India is historically a product of the colonial encounter. thanksto western education and the moder processes unleashed by British rule. made medieval institutions redundant of civilisation worldwide. A number of these assertions thereforecontinued to imagine themselves in the nation-form. remains that deep inside. British presence meant something more. however. these diverse movements reflected a dissatisfaction with the large homogenising. As V Geetha and S V Rajadurai note. he includes in this 'epistemological current'. These developments actually representedthe unravelling of the structure of nationhood that had been laboriously built over the years of the nationalmovement andgiven furthershape in the Constituent Assembly. the emergence of the secular urban space. These are recurring themes. The almost life-and-death contestations that took place aroundthis issue and which unrepentant modernists like Nehru and Namboodiripad found so embarrassing. etc. this list includes. Gorkha. Ilaiah.Theemergence urban which civilisationwasa greatphenomenon. there is something amiss in this eulogy to the modern. For. the much needed space to non-Brahmin and dalit existence. Fromthe dalit or the dalit bahujanstandpoint this moment of rupturehas been seen as unprecedentedlyliberatory. by Kancha Ilaiah (1998). declaring that no governmentofficial could enter it withoutthepermissionof theRaitaSangha is only a symbolic act. among themanynon-Brahmincastes.distinguishes between three schools of thought in the anticolonial struggle.alsoassessesthe coming of the Britishas "havingmade a difference" in this respect.in the post-Mandal phase. Though. communist stream. 'Towards the Dalitisation of the Nation'. And this naturally means that the Farmers' Movement has intentionsto establishadministrative control also over the village. namely: (a) dalit bahujan nationalism represented by Jotirao Phule. For the purposes of this paper.especially from certain sections of the dalits.. in order to make my point clearer. In fact. as far as caste conflict was concerned. Yet. it was the availability of the language of rights and the secularisation of public space. If the declaration certainspaces as pubof lic renderedthem open and free in terms Economic and Political Weekly
of approachand use to subalterngroups. came to structure and direct subaltern for aspirations equalityandjustice [Geetha and Rajadurai1998]. Nehru.all situated in the city. There are other compelling reasonswhy this exercise needs to be undertaken. equality . Khalistani. merely to emphasise that his is not an isolated. further comments on the secular.The fact however.5 In these articulations. T Nagi Reddy and E M S Namboodiripad and there it is referredto as the "secular socialist nationalism that was caste-blind") [Ilaiah 1998:268-69. 1999:19]. as well as the self-perception of the dalit relationship to modernity (and colonial rule). characters as diverse as Rammohun Roy. B R Ambedkar and Periyar. need not be a critique of the category of nation as such' [Pandian 1998]. Hinduism and Brahminism were never critiqued' [Ilaiah 1999]. spreadof moderneducation.. and S A Dange (in the second essay. the spread of modem
scientific education. As the Non-BrahminManifesto. scientific discoveries. the post-Mandal (1990) phase has been seen as the 'turning point'.in other words. The Farmers'Movement notice board at the very entranceof the village. saying: 'All of them came from upper caste and upper class backgrounds. Industrialisation and modern education continue to be seen as liberators of the oppresseddalitcommunities andthe social space of the city as the place of freedom. as when necessary to some other writings by him.6 How strong this aversion to the village is can be seen clearly from the way D R Nagaraj. it was the British alone who could 'hold the scales even between creed andclass and.GolwalkarandS P Mookerjee. I have quoted from an unpublishedversion of the same article]. with the following words: Britisharrivalcoincided with the particular era when societies world over were emancipatingthemselves from the mediof evalsocialsystems. It is by now common sense that there has been a considerable investment in modernity and its emancipatory promise amongthedalitsandmoregenerally.though the entity whose nation-form was now sought was no longer Indian in many cases . the insistence on what was called 'communal proportional representation' is inscribed in the very heart of dalit and nonbrahmin politics from its very inception. Before I go into the critique. This threefold
November 25. in a highly symptomaticseriesof articles. freedom and democracy [Prasad 1999. I am aware that clearly there are problems with the attempt to unite all the disparate groups into a single entity called the 'dalitbahujan' . the period since the 1980s but more specifically. issued in December 1916. observed. points to the need to examine afresh the various layers of this relationshipbetween the dalits and modernity..
Lest this be seen as idiosyncratic.' His is of course a very sophisticated rendering of the idea and he comes very close to anticipating what I think is the crux of the problem. Many dalit and dalitbahujan scholars would agree with Ilaiah and clearly the BSP's alliance with the BJP in UP would suggest that this argument against an absolute prioritising of the secular-communal divide. He continues further to elaborate this point thus: The GandhianHarijanisation process was also carriedout throughthe state appara-
essentialisation of caste identity that remains unchangedthroughthe greatchanges that modernity was expected to and did bring in its train. subsuming the dalitbahujan current as just another 'nationalism' and ignores some other currents like the Muslims. This operation of also interestingthat Ilaiah sees the process bifurcating high modernity and separating of the secular state becoming the 'private it from the 'low' already problematises property of the brahminical castes' as a modernity whose project has only been conscious act of the Nehruvian state elite. he goes on to suggest that "the Shudra thinkers were accurate and insightful in laying bare the strategies of oppression practicedby traditional society. resisted the entry of the dalitbahujans even and it alone was shown to be India's salvation" [Ilaiah 1998:275].themilitaryandpolice agencieswere upper caste conspiracy alone.the socialist. who strengthened the tendency to recruit bhadralokbrahminicalforces to control the state structures[Ilaiah 1998]. 'The dalitbahujanschool looked at the secularism vs communalism opposition with suspicion because brahminism in whatever form cannot be secular. Finally. we are being told we must join the 'secular brigade' to defeat 'communal fascism'. homogenisation. points to the continuing selling away their landed properties and embarassment of the Nehruvian/modern coming to occupy the position of the urban elites with the idea of recognising caste. It is also important for what it has to say of the communists . here Nagarajdisappoints us and of the brahminical castes. shortlived could only be understood as opportunism. Seen in the dichotomous world of'secularism vs communalism'. More likely. his perception that the silencing of such low cultures.dalitbahujansand women.including that of the dalits. middle class. any political stance could only be understood if it made sense in the terms set by this discourse. Thus was
shattered the 'dream of the city' that was the fulcrum of the dalit's attachment to modernity. Alternatively. came the re-imposition of the kind of binarism that was reminiscentof the nationalmovement.modernities in India:the Hindu nationalist tion is that it sees the Gandhian Hindu. secular state became the private property However. but they was not a secular agency because in its were coerced into accepting brahminical everyday practices in the offices.judicial struc.However. refers to it as 'the treacherous deal that was struck between the forces of modernity and the caste system. their entry being described thedegeneration thesystem then makes the most amazing move of as of (all emphasis added). Ilaiah then entry of the dalitbahujans even through goes on to elaborate that high modernity reservations.' (emphasis added) [Ilaiah 1998:283].a point I shall returnto soon.. His critique through reservations. what is most galling however.were veryactive. theBSP's alliance with the BJP in UP. however. one born castes (brahmins and banias) was would either have to fall back on an consolidated' [Ilaiah 1998:280]. some goes on to argue that the "Nehruvian state marginalisedinstitutionswere allowed to be headed by the Muslim elite.distinction is importantfor it reveals some of the inner tensions of nationalism. however. To appear to be secular.
Economic and Political Weekly
November 25.modernity and the 'indigenous moderinto what took shape as the Nehruvian nity' of the proto-scientific practices of the state . parliamentarian. D R Nagaraj (1993) for instance. According to Ilaiah. I am not very surethey would all agree with Ilaiah's reasons for regarding it with suspicion.was seen as the degeneration came to its own with the 'feudal brahmins' of the system.Nehru's own discomfort and em. Communist. always ever inbarrassmentwith Gandhian 'sentimental. It is work [Ilaiah 1998:276].novating in the course of their productive ity and religiosity' notwithstanding. again in order to underminethe Mandalisation secuprocess. he forces.or the neo kshatriyas as Ilaiah calls them. the 'upper' castes working undervariousshades of ideologies . liberaldemocraticforces of the Congress variety. has wider purchase. The Nehruvian state did this through 'optimistic support' in modernity actually the process of brahniinisation of the state points to the need for an investigation into structures which ensured that the so-called the discourses and processes of modernity. Once the opposition was set in place. Ilaiah seems to give the impression that their critique was that the so-called secularists were insufficiently secular because they were 'brahmin'. still boards. Politically. with the dawn of independence.Ilaiah.or what we may understand as official religious discourse as flowing seamlessly .The leadingrole was.. andstandardisation the of not as an unintended by-product of its cultures/knowledges through erasure and working. Through its control ever the How do we understandthis critique? One English language. consciously handedoverto the brahminical To continue with Ilaiah's critique. constitutional democracy gave notional rights to the dalitbahujans. is that with the emergence of the Hindutva challenge. distinguishing between two different The interesting thing about this percep. the suspicion is because the imposition of this binarymodel de-legitimised all other aspirations that were now coming to the fore . The recruitment notwithstanding his own suggestion.. 'it was in so straight off. but they were naive in their optimistic support to agents and practices of modernity" [Nagaraj 1993]. this class came to conpossible way of reading it would be to do trol the state sector and finally. brahminhegemony.forced a different kind of logic of alliances. the cities thatthe nexus between the twiceBut for such a reading to make sense. So. His reference to the 'naivete' in investing their tus..In this. Gandhi's Hindu nationalist agenda was subtly given effect to by Nehru.educationalcentres.laterin theessay comes closer to spelling this out: The so-called secular uppercastes. (T)headoptionof a republican. in its most manifest sense. let us quote from the article by Chandra Bhan Prasad mentioned above: "Once again when the question of social transformation is being raised.continues to see the problem as one of tures. namely the dominant OBCs .. we would have to resort to a conspiracy theory of history and see the entire story of our modernity and of postcolonial India as the outcome of such a conspifacy.. even if it presents it as a singular entity. taken by the brahminical Communists [Ilaiah 1998:285].. Often the struggle between the dalits and the neobrahmins in the countryside .organisedadiscoursearound larism vs communalism. 2000
.The Nehruvianstate structure ism alone was constructed as meritorious. and probably they mean that the social questions can be tackled later" [Prasad 1999].
the prime ministers were brahmins. Seen thus.notes: They [Justice Party leaders] argued that their challenge was solely towards the secular. it was probably. cabinets. if we do not take recourse to either option . I believe were such alism andNehruvian modernity. the cabinets were wholly composed of brahmins' [Moon 1991].the new imagination of a homogenous useful to see what appearto be two aspects Hindu society as the centre piece of the . moves to asserting that therefore. he quite unsurprisingly. From there. he adds. It may be more .E V RamasamyNaicker 'Periyar' too was concerned with the new power being acquired by the brahmin in the modern secular realm.David Washbrookfor instance.The Self-Respecters were so convinced of the links between the powerof the written (newspaper) word that they began newspapers of their own' [Geetha and Rajadurai 1998].as constituting a single their own terms..l It was not as if the processes quishing their new and emerging power in of modernity ushered in by the colonial the secular realm. 'In all the Hindu provinces. how can he remaina brahmin in any meaningfulsense? WhattheJustice party really objected to was the political position of certain individuals who happened to be brahmins. that is. It is probably Hindu society needed to be modernised more likely that already by the turn of and freed of the blot of caste distinctions. but also recasting the tional that laid the foundations of the brahmin self in crucial ways. The authors' attention to what they call Periyar's reading of the protean brahmin sensibility. The first is their cultural hegemony or what he calls the 'sentiment of the people'. that would be unnecessary because it is so patently obvious [Moon 1991]. Like Ambedkar.in the realm of civil society Shankaracharya panchama. others democracy. the instance of Malabar.of 'individuals who happened to be ent kindthanwhatobtainedin 1900. transformation of brahmin power in the Rajaji will bathe on seeing a secular realm . published in 1945. some others will bathe if a and institutions of modern representative panchama'sshadow falls on them. Yet. and parliamentary secretariesto buttresshis argument.Fissured Modernity and Protean Self7
Let us try to make sense of Ilaiah's discussion (which as I have indicated. For Washbrook does point to the fact that it was not brahminism in the old 'non-secular' ('spiritual') sense that was at issue.that of the breakdown of the old order emergent Indian nation. Ambedkar.clearly in the colonial context. went furtherto compile the information on Congress victories in the 1937 elections and the representation of communities among Congress members of provincial assemblies. 'As far the SelfRespecters were concerned. only have been against the secular power Brahmin orthodoxyin 1940 wasofadiffcr. Ambedkar in fact. In his important work. then it could butall of themwill still remainbrahmanas. "He remarked on several occasions that the brahmins retained their privileges by remaining open to change and by adopting a winning flexibility. 2000
. who 'regard it an honour to have their females kept as mistresses by Brahmins to deflower their queens on prima noctis' [Moon 1991:205]. it was a 'wholly secular' conflict (with individuals who 'happened to be brahmins') that was animating the non-brahmin leaders. necessarily that even then they wanted this change on hybrid modernity ." One of his statements in this regardis particularlystriking:
argument against the non-brahmin movement. once the brahmin'sspiritualrole has been stripped from him. not Shankaracharya. In all Hindu provinces if the non-Hindu ministers were excluded. is shared by at least some other important dalitbahujanwriters) above of the seamless flow of Gandhian anti-modern Hindu religious nationalism into the structuring of Nehruvian modernity and his explication of the shattering of the dream of the city.moment. discusses the nature of what he calls the governing class . The second test 'is the control of the administration.especially in the more highly paid ones. The nationalist press was especially the butt of his attacks [Geetha and Rajadurai 1998]. 'where Sambandham marriages prevail' among the 'the servile classes such as the Nairs. political position which the brahmins had attained. In Rajaji's realm the the kniship between Gandhian traditionchanges taking place. How do we understandthis transformation or explain this perception. 'Similar data from other provinces could also be adduced in support of this conclusion' but. without relin. It seems to me that this is precisely where we need to uncover the layers of meaning associated with the will eat at a panchama's house. There are two reasons for thinking so. but the very forms of the challenges broughtin by the processes articulation of the modern with the tradiof the modern. indeed reflected the same anxieties.8 the use of such dichotomised pitfalls categories.that of cultural essentialism or that of a conspiracy theory of history? Here I wish to refer to a slippage in llaiah's readingof the situation thatoccurs in his attribution to the Nehruvian postcolonial state what was in fact an already inherited condition.' He then goes on to provide statistical data of the communitywise distribution of gazetted posts in the year 1943 in Madras presidency to show the preponderance of brahmins. He explains this through. He "located the power of the modern secular brahminin the control he wielded over public opinion".if in a somewhat mala fide manner.new world of modern development. he is also alluding here us to the complexity of the very processes to the two different realms . After brahmins' should alert us to the of 1940 this orthodoxychangedform again. encounter were simply destroying the hold This is incidentally one of the points on of caste hierarchies and bringing in the which some of the historians of the Cam.for example. It is remarkablethatPeriyaris constantly The modern/non-modern or modern/ alert not only to the extreme flexibility of traditonaldichotomy often seems to blind the brahmin self. Iyothee Thass' frontal attack on the
The point raised by Washbrook touches the key issue involved . the single most secular index of brahmin power in these modern times was the newspaper. Yet others sion that if this struggle was not against will marrya panchamaman or woman the spiritual' brahminism..9
Economic and Political Weekly
November 25.one occupied of articulation of the traditional and the and represented by Rajaji and the other by modern. among others. bridge school seem to have built their industrialisationand a regime of rights and
swadeshi activities. the century neither sector was purely The route taken for this was nationalism 'traditional' or 'modern'. however. Many Nehruvian state's slide into a domination brahmins remained brahminsbut many of of the brahminical upper castes over the them had seriously started believing that modern state institutions. The problem was and the insertion into the new. What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables.as Kancha that the brahmin was not only negotiating Ilaiah suggests. He has no doubt that the brahmins are the governing class. Washbrook's simple concluif a panchamatouches them.
a party to suppression of the urge for dalit liberation. radicalor communist by which the brahminpower was instituted scholars.Marxism. tended to do violence to that enterprise of self-definition. given the fact that it. here and calls for further investigation. This self had to be. In the first bursts of dalit/bahujanasserwilly-nilly. Let me makethis abit moreexplicit Yet marxist historiography and scholar. And abstract universal history may have seemed to him to be a means of forgetting rather than recalling. But to accept that 'untouchability' was also a heritage of our past. defined in radicalalterityto its brahminical other. The categories have remained as metaphor regarding the communists: that dichotomised as in many other writings of they are "green snakes in green grass" the modernisation theorists. he continued to be a lem and the entire dalit movement could casteist. In fact.nism within one important strand of the sideredas a single moment. Marxism's rendering of history.12Within ability in itself may not have been a probhis 'inner' domain. tion. Why.oppressed sections of Indian society is a brahmin movement.had exposed itself as being insensitive and imperialistnationalists like Nehru and the blind to dalit oppression.this mutateduppercaste self became. the old was 'always of already' present in the new but no longer sociologistic understanding the category in the old form. 2000
. but that is precisely the kind mutated into something else. in the early years of this century. If this was the magnitude of the task being undertaken by Ambedkar. this anti-communism by which the political category of the came to be so strong among the most 'brahmin' became available to the non. filling up what had been a major blank. it probably helped him/her to forget his/her 'shameful past' as oppressor or person of privilege. At one level this can sound of the 'upper caste' (or caste in general) like a moth-eatentruism. This new of sociologism that has become an power accruedto him now because he had uninterrogatedcommon sense. as Periyar did. we can see one face of his can be productively followed up. Such was also was the fact that already Indian marxism the face of the brahminsof the secular anti. would be aware that the generations of youth who came to the movement did. These existence. there
was probably an importantfactor at work: what was at issue was a radical definition of the Self. was also the process posed by the secular. Rather. This metaphor leads us to suggest here is somewhat different. the dalit enterprise of selfdefinition was predicated on another. a new historical discourse. What I want [Ilaiah 1999:41]. in the secular-modernrealm. its claim to be the sole agent of that history and its privileging of the antiimperialist struggle over all others (in the name of history) was likely to be much more irksome. suggest thatthe reason why many individuals from the privileged upper castes took shelter in 'universal history' was that by dissolving the specificities of particularexperiences. operating within communists. Why this was inclusive nationalism.communists makes 'them' indistinidentityby becoming secular in the public guishable from 'us'.The problem with the pervasive citizenship. in the brahmin upper castes are. But there was its liberation as being possible there.'Indigenism' was hardly a consideration alist' whose nationalism. Further.11By the time at best there has been a gesturing towards it thus became possible to challenge the the upper caste character of the Indian brahmin's oppression he had already communists. it had to speak in terms of brahminism.so
Economicand PoliticalWeekly November25. for them and with the marxists' celebration was modern to the core.by trying to break down the category of ship on India has precisely seen this in the the 'urban upper caste self by interrogatdichotomous terms of the so-called "dual ing the most problematic aspect of it . context. Hindu nationalists wanted. according to him like whose infinitely malleable and 'protean' "white snakes in green grass".there was nothing shameful about it. In a different way so is precisely the issue that concerns us then. I wish to draw dalit movement . If it is true that the phor regarding the upper castes in other brahminin colonial India was already a parties like the BJP.the role" of colonialism .13 Anybody even remotely familiar with the historyof Indianmarxismandmarxists. there mandedthe subordinationof all questions should have been even less of a distance. theirs was a more for the brahminical mind. In other self saw the opportunities offered by words. quintessentially modern project. although in a language that was irritatinglyclose to that of the dalitbahujan leaders. Thereare at least two ways in which this The second part of Kanshi Ram's metacan be understood. question. a search for dalit history. We the traditional and the initiation of the may begin with Kanshi Ram's colourful modem. he could scarcely afford a resortto abstract universal history. Class oppression was universal and we also had it . of necessity. was I believe an ingenious attempt at instituting as cultural memory.the destruction of notion of the 'brahminical marxist'. provides a cue that differentbeing. I would in fact. the denial of a past to the dalit. was something the modern mind found difficult to deal with. rather back on the essentialism that I seek to than because of his ritual superiority. the difference between. of internalreform of the Hindu society to What actually prevented such a possibility the fight for independence. which falls theadvantagesof English education. This indistinguishrealmandabelieverin the private. anotherface . in its reduction of all oppressions to class. By doing this Ambedkar was producing a modernist. rational-historical narrativewhile at the same time. like Savarkar's.of moderncivilisation andtechnology. proposed what the 'brahminical'. in effect. The radicalism to his convenience and 'privatised' caste of the. but which de.After all. The absolute prioritisation of 'class' made caste oppression unspeakable. In straight to the deep-rooted anti-commusuggesting that the 'two aspects' be con. even to the extent of continuing have moved over to marxism if it had seen to practice untouchability.right from the days of attentionto the fact that the very process Ambedkar. a marxist is that it can only fall back on the formal dialecticiancan always claim thatthe notion nomenclature thus misrecognising the of auhfebung is at once the preservation function it begins to performing changed the of the old in t1e new and its transcendance. the upper colonial rule and quickly adapted itself to castes in other parties and those in the the new dispensation. This brahmin deftly communist parties is that the latter are the appropriated public/private distinction more difficult to identify. an assertion of dalit subjectivity. though unlike Savarkar and a framework that was most comfortable Tilak or Sardar Patel. For the dalit to be able to speak its lived experience.thanksto the discourse question that has never been sufficiently of equalityand rights. From the side of the dalits too.on the otherhand.thatof the mutated 'nation. an absence. Ambedkar's turn towards Buddhism and his production of a whole new narrative of Indian history as one of struggle between Buddhism and brahminism. To be able to speak of the past in the language of history and modern subjectivity was the task at hand.
is precisely a challenge to that universalising aspirationof modernity that. EMS summons the tools of historical materialism to explain Kerala's history. 1997].through a rejection their traditional identities. in the contemporary world. in the 'overdetermined' constitution of our modern self lies its proteancharacter. On the other hand. is not simply a traditionalcasteist in disguise. male.though he did not articulate his discomfort in these terms . His alertness to the question arises out of his subaltern social location and becomes apparent in relation to what Gail Omvedt has described as the 'problem of entry'. It is this modern Self that appears upper caste in all the ways that the modern Self in the West appears routinely as white. Dilip Menon's fascinating but troubling study quotes from the earlier Malayalam version of the text: Thegreatestadvantage the caste system of was that it paved the way for a major economicrevolution. Periyar even coined a term for this new form of brahminism . actually becomes blind to their continuing salience in a myriad new ways. 1997]. I will illustrate this with the example of E M S Namboodiripad's text on the National Question in India. Often. Their coming to marxism. to understandthis as the way the universalism of modernity took root in our conditions .. at one stage made this explicit: 'By brahminism. In fact this is precisely what the contemporary crisis of modernity seems to be all about. It is modern and in its self-perception. To most of them. Here in this transformation.This modern Self. In this text. it is a problem of the universalising tendency of modernity that it is destined to run up against the subversive deployments of its own discourses of rights and equality thus opening up such fissures and breaches on its front.. it sincerely believes that the best way to be modern is to erase all thought of caste and religion from its mind.to thosewho lived off a portionof the producewithout engaging in cultivation.
Ambedkar. it has to be fissured. Notice that this defense of caste system and patriarchy. thoroughly purged of its traditional. Universalism is the privilege of the dominant. irreducibly new. it is also to realise the formidablechallenge thatthis 'upper-caste-ness' presents. He often noted thatthe brahmin's
resistance to social reform was grounded less in religious orthodoxy and faith and more in their political proclivities. intents and ambitions [Geetha and Rajadurai 1998]. has conclusively shown that the matriarchal family is of a lower order than the patriarchal family. who joined the communists. actuallymeantwas theemergenceof a new sense of privateproperty[Menon 1999]. He understandsthe historical role of brahminism in terms of the institution of the caste system that 'ushered in a superior economic organisation of society'. Marxism was a means of forgetting the specific past for many..the well-known American anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan.though there were Muslims in fairly large numbers. upper class. even the suggestion that they carried their upper caste socialisation still within them would have seemed scandalous. of discriminatory practices. follows an altogether modern logic rather than drawing on his erstwhile brahmin Self.. in search of a modern one. there is always a rational and modern explanation for it.Whatthe transferof therightsover landfromthehandsof those who clearedthe forests and cultivatedthe land. To understand this upper-caste-ness as mere brahminism in a sociologistic fashion is to imply that they are incomplete moderns.in some ways analogous to that in the West. He then goes on to say that the effects of this brahminism were evident not merely in the social sphere but also in the denial of civic rights to untouchables as well as in the field of economic opportunities [Keer 1954. The 'treacherous deal' that Nagaraj talks of cannot.. it remained a 'secular' modernity.was Ambedkar. However. therefore. It is thus the truly liberated self that in looking beyond the narrow confines of sectarianparticularisms. In that sense. The majority were youth from upper caste backgrounds. What she means by the 'problem of entry' is basically that of 'getting jobs and getting
Economicand PoliticalWeekly November25. For it to be able to see what is not dominant. One can actually add with a fair degree of confidence that many of the communist leadersandcadres.'political brahminism'. thus: . [Dilip Menon 1999]. So have Marxisthistorians. It is to imply that this lack can be overcome by more of the same medicine. By brahminismI mean the negation of the spirit of liberty. We need to recognise that notwithstanding this feature of the universal modern. be understood as a mere conspiracy between the upper castes and modernity. Only then does it become possible for us to see this protean modern Self . If there is any trace in its consciousness of any of these privileges. at least at a conscious level. The insurrection of little selves globally.(beginning with Engels himself) shown that the changeover from matriarchy patrito archy takes place at a time when the hoe is replacedby the ploughas the instrument of production in agriculture [E M S Namboodiripad 1952]. Periyar and Modernity
It seems to me that one of the persons to see this problematic aspect of modernity . Ambedkar. limited ways.is to problematise the specific trajectory of modernity in our context and thus open up the possibility of emancipation and of the recovery of lost voices in the new dispensation. privileges and interests of the brahmins as a community.. was for them the acquisition of a new identity. it is rampant in all classes" [Dhananjay Keer 1954. where it has constructed the dominant culture as norm . They could thenceforth talk about their society and the struggle to change it in terms that belonged to the lexicon of modernity. I therefore. 2000
. find it difficult to agree with Dilip Menon or many of the dalitbahujan critics who would prefer to read this as a straightforward 'attempt at negotiating EMS' Namboodiri identity at a time when brahmins were under siege in south India. made serious efforts to purge aspects of casteist practices that they had inherited from their early socialisation. caste socialisation. in its bid to standardise and homogenise and to create the 'universal man' (the abstract citizen) actually ended up presenting European culture as the norm. in the name of a largeruniversal one ('the history of all hitherto existing societies is a history of class struggles'). And yet they remained caught within the mesh of caste (as of gender) privilege and therefore.the self which is a mutant of the old but is still.
EMS goes on to mobilise the most modern of the available arguments. and there were at least some from the lower castes too. it is interesting that this problem seems to have presented itself before both Ambedkar and Periyar and they seem to have grappled withl 'this problem of sociologstic essentialisation of caste identity in their own. I do not mean the power. In this context. That is not the sense in which I am using the word. at least in the later phase. To recognise this phenomenon as modern is to problematise the universalisms of modernity. in fact. equality and fraternity.
land' in the case of the workersand the [Omvedt1994]. whichhe alreadyunderstood be upper to castein its blindnessto the dalitsensibilities.'I said to the membersof theunionthatif theydidnotrecognisethe rightof the depressedclasses to work in
all the departments. The'problem entry'then.which. existing'class. he is recommonsense.Previousexperience hadtaughtthe adi-dravidas participathat tion in strikesproveddetrimental their to interestsand they had often been forced to sell their and property pledgetheirjewels in the past' [GeethaandRajadurai 1998]. "He asked his critics how they would consolidate the working classes when they did not remove such glaring
injustice and partiality which was wrong in principle and injurious to the principle of solidarity" [Keer 1954.He was clearly continuouslytroubled the problemof by the 'making'of the workingclass. which he intended the 'foreigner' [read westerner] to also read.then the most important question for Ambedkar moreimportant. it may be possible to consider a nation as a unit but sociologically it cannot but be regardedas consisting of many classes.14In other words. Ambedkar theSimonCommission.overthequestion of caste. the partwill be free. have notjoined the . He goes on to argue: Westernwriterson democracybelieve that what is necessaryfor the realisationof the ideal of democracy. 169]. Other means have been
Economicand PoliticalWeekly November25. namely.In the course of the 'historic textile strike' of 1928. and for the people. As we shall see below. by the way.It was a real. he saw how the 'basic Consequently. of the people.(I)f the untouchables "fight for freedom". at thanorganising 'actual'working the class. any rate. Ambedkar deals at length with the category of 'nation'. that sistingthe prevalent if the whole is free. As I mentioned.' [Vasant Moon 1991:187]. there are two senses in which Ambedkar reimportant sists the universalisingurge. as workerstheywereinvariablyin thelowestpaidandmostunskilled industrial and as peasantsthey were jobs likely to be landless or poor peasants' [Omvedt1994:154]. While resigning from Gandhi's Harijan Sevak Sangh. 1997) highlightsthis role of his in a fairlydetailedmanner. Independent the time the Crippsproposalsforcedthe on question of constitution-making the agenda. secretary of the Sangh he stated: 'Like the Negro in America. and country arejust. The interestingaccountof the long fallout of the strikeandthe disturbances that followedasviolence in erupted Pulianthope in north betweentheadi-dravidas Madras.The Congress. 'actually else. The workingclass was no transcendent embodiment as entityin whoseabstract the subjectof history . There is no gainsaying that 'nation' though one word means many classes.till Party.It was this thatcon-cerned Ambedkar morethananything else.dalit Being . 202]. 2000
.. First. he says.if not ambiguous terms. This. Even during this period. is the establishmentof universal adult suffrage.is theproblem of of thevery'making'of the workingclass. problemsof the untouchables being excludedfromthehigherpaidweaving jobs' wasalso beingreflected theirbeingless in in the represented leadingandorganising strugglesof textileworkers. For he believes that the foreigner is allowing himself to be deceived by the Congress brand of nationalism. for in of instance. 'antiand imperialism' 'class'. his organising theUntouchable Railway WorkersConferenceand to theirissuesseparately attempts address as well. by refusingto privilege the 'nation'..he is confined to the lowest paid department..amorphous. In the text I have quoted above. Thus Ambedkar: '[(f)or].Amidstaccusations they that were blacklegs.bringingalive the spectreof an imminentHindurule.She peasants respectively that argues 'dalitswereworkers.The irreduciof bilityof the partis also its declaration Second. nation. I would rather dissuade the depressed classes fromi taking part in thestrike(emphasisadded) [Omvedt
1994:154]. libertyand pursuitof happiness. The above statement Ambedkar's of is not an isolated instance. government by the people. and the strikersis describedin detail by Geetha and Rajadurai (1998). organising lic meetings jointly with the communists. he contended. the verygiven-nessof the workingclass. one of the importantpolitical leaders of the adidravidas commented the'adi-dravidas that had exercisedtheirrightto give or withhold theirlabouras they thoughtbest in their own interests. thatAmbedkar not only argued against the Congress idea of nationhood. class. however. if Indiais freeso will be all its constituent of any whole and cannot be represented in anyessenceof the whole. 1997]. M C Raja. This was the time that he concernedhimself also' with the generalstrugglesof the working class. such as was sought to be constructed by the Congress. were they but peasants. forcingAmbedkar to re-position himselfas the leaderof the to classes. Even when he got involved with the task of the existing'working organising 'actually alive to this problem. not only does Ambedkar refuse to take the working class as given. And even when he gets a foothold.' The reason why the foreigner allows himself to be misled into supporting the Congress.he calledit the in Labour Fromthen. but he equally vehemently refuses to accept the givenness of the nation.he is also questioning autonomy. It even exposed the fis4264
parts. his concernin this directioncan be seen. "it is not because they are the tools of British imperialismbut because they fear thatthe freedom of India will establish Hindu dominationwhich is sure to close to them.he is resistingthe ideaof the part in being represented an essential section of the whole.hecontinued bekeenly depressed involvedwithquestionsof labour the and makingof the workingclass.This was . told he had before brought thismatter up repeatedly union leaders.is not part
sureswithinthe largernon-brahmin idenwas titythat beingconstructed theJustice by Party. he problematised the very category itself. It is importantto note too. resisting the infamous Industrial strikesandpubDisputesBill.We need not go into the circumstances of the strikecalled by the Conunionbut it is important gress-supported to notethattheadi-dravida (dalit)workers of the Binny mills refusedto participate in the strike.the dalits could investtheirfuture. is a partof a larger shared manydalitleadersof sensibility by thetimeandtheinstance the 1921strike of in the Buckingham Carnatic and Mills in Madras brought theconflictswithin out city equallyclearly. This description throws into sharp relief.theprospectof life. the background that may have shaped Ambedkar's laterstance on the matter. The part . he [the untouchable] is the last to be employed in days of prosperity and the first to be fired in days of adversity. Philosophically. words such as society. Ambedkarwrote a long letter to A V Thakkar. he remained It is well-knownthatwhenhe formedhis firstpoliticalparty 1936. andforever.likeeverything could be and had to be shaped.on the other hand regards the freedom of india from British imperialismto be the be-all and end-all of Indiannationalism"[Moon 1991:168.. Dhananjay Keer (1954. "is to be found in the'wrong notions of self-government anddemocracy which are prevalent in the west" [Moon 1991:201.
And yet. He also remains firm in his rejection of religion and his strong advocacy of rationalism.not do if they came to wield [political] authority? What horrors would they not perpetrate?' [Geetha and Rajadurai1998].As has been arguedforcefully by M S S Pandian. precisely at the moments when the dalits begins to find their voices it is the binary mode of conceptualising politics that seeks to stifle it.. by the existence of caste. The refusal to take the nation as given.16His search leads him to the discovery of the dravidaSelf. which he occasionally expands to include the sudras and the ati-sudras of the north . i e.Ihave no hesitation saying that both these notions are fallacious and grossly misleading [Moon 1991:202. Often. thatis precisely the point. heads of radical and leftist groups in Europe and America represented by men like Laski.'rakshashan'. 203]. What appears here as the. continuously disturbs and challenges the binaries of nationalism/imperialism and secularism/communalism. but all the same he refuses to take modernity and its theoretical and political categories as a package. His final break with the Congress came in November 1925. '(I)n ourpresentsituationmany fear that swaraj if granted will only usher in brahmanaraj.. for it framed the entire constitution of the nonbrahmin.15 The idea that he holds responsible for this failure is that of abstract citizenship. Ambedkarthen goes on to the comment thatdemocracy and self-government have failed everywhere and the reason it has been so.. was not a scientific. Periyar's concept of nation 'denied its origin in the classical Indian/Tamilpast and envisaged it wholly in the anticipatory' [Pandian 1993]. seems to be in fact.A tensionruns throughout his life-work between the attempt to occupy an unmarked. is the experience of subaltern location. nationalism and secular-nationalism. interrogations of the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly. In his interventions at the Kancheepuram conference he was candidthat.too was involved in continuously interrogating the nationalist project.. refusing incorporation into either term of the binaries.' [Moon 1991:235]. he did have a brief five year spell of political life as a committed GandhianandCongressman. This is a failure of understanding that is irritating to him because it afflicts even the 'leaders of the British Labour Party.. Itihasas and the Puranaswhich he relentlessly critiqued as 'irrational' and 'unscientific' was a necessary condition of emancipation. had to labour to live. He argued that class divisions in Hindu society were inscribed within caste divisions. therefore. The division of labour into intellectual and manual labour and the elaborate religious and cultural codes devised to validate this division were considered by the Self-Respecters to be fundamental to the problems of justice and equality in caste society" [Geetha and Rajadurai1998]. But then... ipratikolan'. denied easy access to either. It culminated.. History. as our discussion shows. Despite E V' Ramasamy's great appreciation of socialism.Brailsford.an untenable exercise in terms of the canons of history in whose name the fight was being conducted.. He therefore produces a narrative of Indian history as one of the perennial struggle between the subjugated dravidas and the subjugating aryans. Although. must be read as an attempt at negotiatingthe manneroftheirreception in ourspecificcontext.modern discourses of secularism. In this phase. his subject is neither the industrial proletariat northe abstractunmarkedcitizen produced within a discourse of universal history. The modern category of class was thus constituted by the very nature of modernity's articulation with the non-modern. Periyar'strajectoryis interesting as..it was what it has always been. 'the governing class may be so well entrenched that the servile classes will need other safeguards besides adult suffrage to achieve the same end. dravida Self. I have already mentioned Iyothee Thass. in these days of British rule. unlike Ambedkar afterhim. which experiences modernity as simultaneously liberatingandas denial of voice andagency. In fact. it was instituted as memory to fill the big absence that was
the denial of the adi-dravida and shudra past. In concluding this discussion then. self-government [Moon 1991:204]. "(B)rahmins lived of their intellectual capital and spiritual surplus while the non-brahmins. both during the anticolonial struggle as well as in the present. This is what gives centralityto the category of experience in dalit scholarship and lies at the root of the widespread distrust of non-dalit accounts of dalit history. I suggest that this desperate bid to deal with the political categories of liberal democracy.what he called samaldharma and an admirer of the Soviet Union. 'asuran'. an attempt to reclaim dalit
EconomicandPolitical Weekly November25. universalist ground andhis being forced to repeatedly abandon it. Kingsley Martin.. this history was not 'memory'. It is certainly as a modernist that Ambedkaracts. with the KancheepuramConference of the Tamil Nadu Congress. [in his] rejection of the Constitution of India. 'narakan'." [Pandian 1993]. is their inability to deal with the question of 'classes'.suggested such as recall. is evident also in the writings of all the major leaders of the dalits/non-brahmins.. E V Ramasamy(Periyar). born out of Ambedkar's social location.. plebiscite. What continuously pits the dalit against these categories framing thought and political action. deal. it is possible for some to prevent others from walking down certain streets and to prevent them from having access to water from the village wells and ponds. 2000
. and editors of journals like the Nation in America and the New StatesmaninEngland. 'kolakan'. In many countries. we
wouldhaveremained'sudran'. It was a narrative already constituted by and therefore subordinate to the political demands of the present.. Periyar actually remained a strong votary of socialism . It keeps irrupting as the problematic thirdterm repressedby the. There are many different phases through which his critiques of nationalism pass but all throughthem what remains more or less constant is the attack on the many faces of brahminism as the centre-piece of that critique. Its very existence therefore challenges the complicity of the two terms which effectively serve to prevent the emergence of the dalit as subject. 'kundakan'.essentialisation of dalit identity in this insistence of dalit accounts of their own history. he. when two of his resolutions on in support of 'communal representation' were disallowed [Pandian 1993]. in this struggle. Ramasamy was fiercely nationalist and it was with his gradualdisenchantment with Congress that he re-evaluated his understanding of British rule. science and progress. If.. But this mode of 'modern scientific history'. to his "painstaking. His search for the Self leads him toranexercise analogous to that of Ambedkar's. despite Ambedkar. It was then that he came to the conclusion that "if we had remained the slaves of north Indians. questioning and resisting the very mode of its articulation with the non-modern. the argument is that.. I wish to suggest that the very existence of dalit politics. what would they." [Geetha and Rajadurai 1998]. unlike Ambedkar. like Ambedkar came intoconflict with the communists and socialists. as against the Vedas. It finally led. and short parliaments. objective reading of the past .
everyday discourse is marked. religion or ethnicity as it struggles to adjust itself to the new languages and practices of a moderndemocratic polity. it can be argued that even the early attempts at recognition of their status by the state which the Rudolphs think are in terms of the values of the caste order are. And yet these too are neither traditional nor modern. if crucial dimension of 'our modernity'. and economic advantage'. This continued well into the post-independence period. In the first place. autonomy. workingthroughexisting partiesor formingtheirown. 2000
. To go back to Sumit Sarkar then. the Rudolphs described caste associations as 'paracommunities' that 'enable members of castes to pursue social mobility."Casteconsciousness played a part.is markedby the existence of a very large domain where very different. In this pioneering study. 'bariyasnow sit on charpoys. When caste associations turned to the state for furtheringtheir purposes. in more recent times.the aims of caste association beganto shift fromsacredto seculargoals. religion and the like.at least within the sabha. even in the cities. the authors showed how in the formation of the Kshatriya Sabha of Gujarat.17 On the other hand. The history of the modem Self in India . The change in status. Once the technologies of colonial governmentality were in place and the operations of enumerationand state recognition introduced the new dimensions in the recognition of status.combined together under the leadership of twicebornrajputs. deliberative procedures of decision-making are the values that underlie the functioning of the institutions that constitute it. post-colonial societies . The more important point however. represented by the liberal/Marxist individual actually consists of a small. and the bhils . after Partha Chatterjee. Doing so enabled it to realise in some measure its new formed aspirations and to educate its members in the methodsandvaluesof politicaldemocracy [S Rudolf and L Rudolf 1967:32. In this domain of daily transactions between the traditional and the modern.
Caste and Political Society
It is necessary. for instance. with apologies to Kant. to maximisecaste representationand influence in state cabinets and lesser governing bodies. their initial claims were aimed at raising caste status in termsof the values and structure of thecasteorder. 'full-blooded casteists'. Another told him that '(t)he kshatriyas are a class. In a study conducted aroundthe same time by Myron Weiner (1967). Sanction of status by the ritual authorities was subverted at the very instance the caste associations came into being. has been its capacity to organise-what appearsto be a politically illiterate mass electorate. is the suggestion thatthese associations have turned out to be paracommunities. notes the study is not 'merely rhetorical'..
There is a lot of empirical work that has been done since. Birthin a particularcaste was a necessary but not a sufficient condition of membership in the association. The kind of secularised self discussed earlier. These modes of existence representattemptsat negotiating the new world in languages that inflect the languages of political modernity with a distinctly 'traditional' flavour.a depressed tribal community . political power. If we look at the ways in which routinely. the 'deafening silence of historiography'. this secularisation of caste became more evident. but not for the purpose of preserving caste traditions and customs but ratherof transforming them through political power" [Kothari and Maru 1865]. not so. in fact. by the languages of caste.Perhapsthe most significant aspect of the caste association in the contemporary however. era. implying that they have become detached in some way from ritual hierarchy and are emerging as equal to other communities or paracommunities.. a marginal peasant and landless labourer caste called bariyas. Lloyd and Susanne Rudolph described this politics of the caste associations as the modernity of tradition[Susanne and Lloyd Rudolph 1967]. governed by modem notions of citizenship and defined by contractualrelations and rules of free entry andexit. This was so in the sense that membership in the association was not purely ascriptive. In the late 60s. with only one aspect of caste in modern society. In one early study by Rajni Kothari and Rushikesh Maru (1965). I would suggest. we will call them kshatriyas [Rudolf and Rudolf 1967]. that has made us alert to the more complicated dimensions of the developments that the Rudolphs refer to. This modernindividuated self inhabits the ground of high modernity in India . Equality. in this arti-
Economic and Political Weekly
November 25. They argued that '(t)he characteristics of the paracommunityresemble in manyways those of the voluntary association or the interest group familiar to European and American politics' [S Rudolf and L Rudolf]. while yet another told him that if the bhils are brave enough.the groundof civil society. To understandthe dynamic of what I am referringto. 33].and indeed in many non-western. the associationsbegan to press for places and in the new administrative educational institutions and for political representation. and 'honorable' occupations and histories in the Census. playing a mediatory role between the 'illiterate mass' and the political system. Insteadof demandingentry into temples.voice from the hegemonic practices of historiography.Kothariand Maruarguedthat the socially and politically democratic character of the Kshatriya Sabha was evident in the motivation behind its formation. often contradictory processes are at work. for instance that being a rajput 'is not a question of blood but of spirit and action'. they argue. I have tried to break down the category of the 'brahminical Marxist'in dalitbahujan discourse.Caste associationsattemptedto have theirmembersnominatedforelective office. not a caste'. Independenceand the realisationof political democracyintensifiedthese new concerns. let us look at the phenomenon of caste associations. needs to be understood as the effect of what can be called. the domain of political society. One of the respondents told Weiner. More importantly. the desire to get that recognition was already located outside the framework of the caste system.the 'categorical imperative' of modern politics as it historically came to be. at this stage to underline that the discussion so far deals explicitly. prestigiouscaste names. I will call this domain.on an equal level with rajputs' [Rudolf and Rudolf 1967:101]. The advent of modernity has transformed the overall context and provided a kind of institutional set-up within which the so-called traditional has to negotiate its daily existence. we would be
compelled to acknowledge that there is a great deal of truthin the dalit critique that the brahminicalcastes have taken over our public institutions and colonised the public sphere. there are vast domains of life that are differentially incorporatedinto this arena of citizenship. It is here. in order to understand the existence of this self. This is exemplified by the existence of 'caste' in the modern Self in the form of the committed secularist-liberal/ Marxist individual. we see the continued existence and salience of caste.Butas liberaldemocratic ideas penetratedto wider sections of the population. In this other vast domain there are people who could even be described as say. andthat.
however. Rowe also foundthatby 1905.In his study of the Lucknow rickshawallas. from the early years of the formation of nationalist discourse. not only is compatible with continued modernisation but also. it was in the west too. for it understoodthat that was the very condition of its liberation from foreign domination. along with other less abhorrentcaste practices.with an increasing number of articles on national and political questions. carrythe stamp of the times and the imprintof the modernisation theory is writ large all over them. Muslim and foreign writers. The specific context of our colonial encounter and the way in which nationalism took shape then could not but lead to other such closures .to ascriptive communities and their values. On the basis of CSDS' election survey data. is likely to always carry the trace of this past. this elite was a brahminical Hindu elite and the terms on which it imagined its national liberation to be possible was therefore. as long as it remains private. This was what led. by declaring its sovereignty in the spiritual/cultural domain [Chatterjee 1993]. it continues to be so. In more recent days. Without going into the details of such a critique. we see the domain of political society as one of transactions between the to worlds. as the modernisation theorists do. It wanted to be modern. Its problem probably. These studies then. Undoubtedly. then it is not possible to ascribe any telos to it. The Rudolphs correctlyobserve that the leadership in the caste association is no longer in the hands of those qualified by heredity. Partha Chatterjee has also suggested that there is lodged. to the stifling of all the impulses of internal social reform within 'communities and effected a closure that has been at the heart of the problem of our modernity. these commitments here too can become and remain private matters. The critical point is therefore. as 'they held that their work is part
of one domain with its specific necessities respecting social interaction while their domestic or non-work life is quite part of another' [Gould in Rudolf and Rudolf 1967:121]. His description tends to come close to that of the Rudolphs'. In order to understandthe existence of caste in this wider domain. should be
seen as no more Indian than it is of the west. but it wanted to do so on what it considered to be its own terms. 2000
. and by extension. can only see these developments as different stations on the high road to modernisation of the peripheries of the non-western world. The idea of compartmentalisation or the 'Indian dilemma' appears then. They go on to argue. is that not only was it an elite project as indeed. open up a new domain of political transactions between the two worlds. in its moment of epiphany. where religion has been consigned to the private realm. From such an understanding.. we need to referto what-Harold Gould calls 'compartmentalisation'. that '(p)rivate commitment to tradition. (sometimes) by Parsi.that caste has in fact become a kind of 'paracommunity'.as for instance among the Muslims. Despite obvious merits. D L Sheth has also pointed to the continuance of similar trends of secularisation of caste. they producethese descriptions within an overall narrativeof modernisation. "thespecifically 'caste' matters have been relegated to the rear section. 'respondentssaw no inconsistency in this'. along with Gould. we would be making a mistake.. with its struggle against modernity" [Chatterjee 1983:75]. The interesting thing about this journalof the All-India KayasthaAssociation is that mid-way through its existence it underwenta change of nomenclatureand became the HindustanReview. we can simply note that it eventually ends up overlooking the specificity of different.. even the continuance of the practices of untouchability in the private domain."He also quotes an editorial in the June 1901 issue entitled 'Caste Conferences and National Progress' that argued that caste feeling hindered 'true national feeling' [Rudolf and Rudolf 1967:125]. was also that it was the project of an elite that discovered its Self in the humiliating experience of colonial domination. The Rudolphs also refer to a study by Willaim L Rowe who reviewed 'the doctrinal orientations' of the Kavastha Samachar of Allahabad between 1873 and 1915. a contradiction that he describes as one between modernity and democracy. The very organisation of the association then acquires the structure of modern voluntary associations: 'It has offices. facilitates it by providing adaptive institutions' [Rudolf and Rudolf 1967:130]. There is one problem.18 The modernising project. In some of his recent writings. This compartmentalisation of the domain of thehome and the family from thatof the workplace . They dined too with members of their own caste groups 'under domestic conditions despite the fact that during working hours they constantly violated the rule enjoining commensal exclusiveness': According to Gould. with this reading presented by the above studies.incipientbureaucratisation. to be of major significance. 'The availabilityof association leaders is conditioned by their ability to articulate and represent the purposes of the caste association and for this purpose they must be literate in the ways of modern administrationand the new democratic politics' [Rudolf and Rudolf 1967:34]. if were to conclude from this evidence thatcaste has become thoroughly modernised.culation of the new caste-community interests in relation to the state and at the same time.. And like the west. it is only possible to see these hybrid formations as incompletely modern. delegates and resolutions' [Rudolf and Rudolf 1967:35]. this other self negotiates modernityandits processes. The dilemma. One would think.All these studies conducted in the 60s. but nevertheless. on the way to becoming fully modern ones. membership. in the very constitution of postcolonial democracies. from its very birth. The problem with this trajectory of postcolonial modernity. at least. And yet. Gould found that all the personsin his sample adheredfairly strictly to the norms of endogamy. alternative modernities. in our context then. however. Itis necessary to underlinethatthis simple story needs to be complicated today in order to properly grasp the trajectory of modernity in postcolonial societies like India's. If by democracy we
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November 25. he has argued that caste has ceased to 'reproduce' itself as an institution of ritual hierarchy. Considerable amount of scholarship interrogatingthatkind of an understanding of the modernisationprocess has now made all the problems with it manifest.. If however. communities in general. are also compatible with modernisation. The Rudolphscall this 'the Indiandilemma' and describe it as the 'contradiction between public ideology and private commitment' [Rudolf and Rudolf 1967:130]. publications and a quasi-legislative process expressed through conferences. that "the search for a postcolonial modernity has been tied.and in a larger sense the entire public domain is a crucial mechanism by which I believe. as the assumption is that as long as commitment to ascriptive identities can be kept at a privatelevel they can facilitatemodernisation.In this other domain of political society. in other words. in making the new languages more intelligible to the masses they seek to representthat the caste association. Continued adherence to them can therefore present no problem to the modernising project.
Dilip(1999): 'Being and Way: E M S Namboodiripad the Pasts of Kerala' in Daud Ali (ed). Oxford University Press. therefore. Netherlands. Government of Maharashtra. Oxford University Press. who have affiliatedthemselves. Community and the Politics of Democracy in India. To formulations. See 2 Later in his book. No 12. "itbecomesdifficult. 10 I owe this point to a discussion with Nivedita Menon.especially when. butclearly. 4 See also. even though caste remains but a trace of itself. New Delhi. 1995). Delhi. Dhananjay(1954. Vasant (ed) (1991): Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. precisely because they are no more articulatedin the old language of caste. Delhi. in the first place.OxfordUniversityPress. University of Chicago Press. October 16. People's Publishing House. Cultures. Sage Publications.even fora Nehruwriting his Discovery of India . bound to acquire a new life within the logic of the modem regime of power. given her inputat every stage. not merely a set of institutions. 'Introduction'. Invokingthe Past: The Uses of History in South Asia. Keer. Oxford University Press.] 16 It may be mentioned that Ambedkar had 1 The term'bilateral relationship'in this context rejectedthis Aryandomination. p 56. provides it with its most effective political weapon. LifeandMission. and may thus have ceased to reproduce itself. University Pennsylvannia pp 292-93.Popular p31.I do notalso intendto pitone against the other. Writings and Speeches.not of course to the 'freedom movement'. the daltis too see the Poona Pact as a disaster . Bombay. by funding from SEPHIS.(1998): 'Stepping Outside History?New Dalit fromTamilNadu'inPartha Chatterjee Writings (ed). The rest of the discussion in this section is based on this work and on M S S Pan-dian (1993.Calcutta. 9 Quoted in M S S Pandian (1995). see the last section of this paper.Seriouscriticalcomments 14 HereI am slightly misusingAlthusser'snotion argument from Sumit Sarkar. Oxford University Press.the 'entry of the masses into politics'. Namboodiripad. strictlyspeaking.D R (1993): TheFlaming Feet-A Study of theDalit Movement.formulatingdifferent 'brahmin' as a political category to M S S partsof thepaper.mean. through whom I 13 Some commentatorsin a recent volume Dalit some citical insights. p 387. Critical inputs from gained Jan-Ubliar (ed Kanwal Bharati et al. 5 I do not intendto underplaythe contradictions andconflictsbetweenthedalitsandtheshudras. Delhi. Wages of Freedom: Fifty Years of the IndianNation-State. It is worthnotingthatfor reasonsjust the opposite. p 76.David (1999): WhatIs Citizenship?. Nivedita Menon I owe a special within the termsdefined by him.and in the light of our discussion so far.to resist the further slide towards assuming that that unity. better and in the fellows seminar in the Chandigarh. the point I wish to underline in conclusion is that these modern incarnations of upper-caste privilege continue to have a powerful after-life. in Panjab University.The EmergingCaste-ClassDynamics. Tanika Sarkar and Rajeev of the 'essential section' or coup d'essence. Gail (1994): Dalits and the Democratic Revolution: Dr Ambedkar and the Dalit Movement in Colonial India. look ahead(Renu ignoredandwantedto rather Centre Studies.State. relevant for my purposes . Vol 9. Education Department. [I thank M S S Pandianfor extremely helpful 11 I owe the point about the emergence of the discussions in the course of. Bangalore. with the dalit position and are accepted by large sectionsof the movementas theirs. sticha sociologisticexplanation
17 For a quick definition. Oxford University Press. then is really not so much about untouchability and the ritual practices associated with caste in the private sphere but needs to be understoodas a continuing struggle against the modern incarnations of 'casteism'. . p 115. Nehru. Kancha(1998): Towards the Dalitisation of the Nation' in Partha (ed). Camnbridge. of Press. is fraught with all these contradictory impulses. Vol XXXVI.He says that.I will thereforetreatthemas giving voice to thisdiscourse. 'merit' and even 'hygiene' .. Calcutta. and Vijay Pratap. questions of purity andpollution come to be articulatedwithin a wholly modern universe. February 18-25.Sumit(1996): 'IndianNationalismandthe Politics of Hindutvain Contestingthe Nation' in David Ludden (ed). Wages Chatterjee of Freedom: Fifty Yearsof the IndianNation . p 94. To that extent. Sarkar. Calcutta. EPW.Ashish Rathorand Aviram. 6 I have quoted from an unpublishedversion of the same article. Chicago and London. p 6. Polity Press. Bombay. p 294.(1997): Writing Social History. while at Lokayan. now 'secular') as the civilisational foundation of nationalism. the language of our secular discourse. 8 Quoted in Geethaand Rajadurai. Therearequitea few non-dalitscholars. Pandian. Delhi.BMPrakashan. p 317. 7 This expressionis suggestivelyusedby Geetha and Rajadurai(1998). Identity Cambridge Politics and DravidianMovement(s)'. p 2282. Calcutta.SouthForumPressand Institute for Cultural Research and Action. 'Beyond ColoinalCrumbs: School. male in a personal communication of long interactionswith Mohandas Nemishray to me. AsiantSurvey. Nehru Memorial Trust. has been primarilyHindu"and adds:"The slide was made easier by the undeniablefact that the bulk of the leading cadres of the nationalistandeven the Left movementshave come from Hindu uppercaste backgrounds" [Sarkar 1997:363]. The entire discourse of Kanshi Ram and his BahujanSamaj Party.(1999): 'Dalitism versus Brahminism: The EpistemologicalConflictin History'in Ashish Ghosh (ed). in fact centres around theconstruction this largerBahujan of identity. that the contradictionis what ensures that the very character of our modernity. is furtherlikely to pose a constant challenge to the project of modernisation. For this reason. 18 Since this essay is part of a larger ongoing project. p Will (ed)(1997): TheRights ofMinority Kymlicka. 205. and Seminaron'Ambedkar SocialTransformation' outthatenthusiasts class-struggle of considered held in December 1999.London and New Delhi. Ilaiah.theory. the a Brahmin Marxist Menon.in theSaidiansense. Jawaharlal (1936): An Autobiography. E M S (1952): The National Question in Kerala. Locality. .
Chatterjee. he does suggest precisely whenreferring Dube (1997) for details. on such occasions. it is like the religious community and communalism.throughwhom I first learntthe 12 For a more detailed consideration of this intricacies of dalit politics. considerably.Ibelieve thereare certain importantcommon elements of their critique. 1997): Dr AmbedkarPrakashan. Moon. p 7. Delhi. category. Their new resilience depends entirely on the modern discourses of 'efficiency'. Oxford.Political Development in India. and to ChandraBhan. p 10. OxfordUniversityPress. nd the participants (particularly Jagpal Singh) of the Lucknowpoint probably1999). Delhi. September5-11.despite the morerealcontradictionsin the real world. Representation'. This paper is part 15 One may note that Ambedkaroften uses the of a larger study on the 'Crisis of Secularterms governing and servile classes to denote Nationalismin India'thathas been made possible castes. p 284).
Economic and Political Weekly
November 25. . Samya.ChandraBhan (1999): 'Social Fascism Is Real: Communal Fascism a Mischievous Construct' in The Pioneer. 2000
. Religion.NehruMemorial forContemporary Rathor. The new dalit critique of caste. Delhi. Lloyd and Susanne Rudolf (1967): The Modernityof Tradition. 'India After the 1996 Elections: Nation. In this sphere.Wages of Freedom Fifty Years of the Nation-State. see ParthaChatterjee (1998). Delhi. Prasad.1998. Geetha V and S V Rajadurai (1998): Towardsa FromlyotheeThass hminMillennium: Non-Bra to Periya. Dakkhin Museum and Library also helped refine the Toley Ka Saval.mostly from the more backwardcastes. Omvedt.I also acknowledgethe influence Pandian.Further discission with M S S Pandian in helped me sharpenthe understanding the context of non-brahminism. then the ways in which this entry materialised.when for instance.argue with Chatterjee. See Reading debtforhavinggone throughsuccessive draftsand Capital. Aditya Nigam (1996). I would therefore. Philadelphia. Dalits and Peasants . I am only indicatively referring to some of the ideas that have been developed in the other parts of the project. [[D
to the resort by nationalistsof all hues to a now lost glorious past (now Hindu. etc. Bhargava also helped me sharpen many thoughmy use of it also falls. Economic and Political Weekly. It has since has been used by Heater.M S S (1993): 'Denationalisingthe Past: Nation in E V Ramaswamy's Political Discourse'. December 1996. but more importantly. though otherslike JyotibaPhuleupheldit. 3 Quoted in Gail Omvedt (1994) p 177. been revivedby KanshiRamandthe BSP. Partha (1993): The Nation and Its Fragments. Rudolf. caste an 'unnecessary complication'. Heater. p 154. after all.GyanSagar Publications. p Nagaraj.