Skip to main content

India's Magsaysay winning rural journalist "differs" with Ambedkar, who favoured Dalit migration to cities

Dr BR Ambedkar, P Sainath
By Rajiv Shah
Well-known Magsaysay award winning writer P Sainath, who is renowned more for extensive, in-depth reports on rural India as a top journalist, has said he “differs” from Dr BR Ambedkar’s view about the need for achieving greater pace of urbanization to fight caste discrimination.
Talking with Counterview on the sidelines of a recent NGO function in Ahmedabad, Sainath said, his “disagreement” with Dr Ambedkar stems from the fact that the Dalit icon believed the rural-to-urban migration would end casteism, which has not happened.
“When he called upon Dalits to move to cities, Dr Ambedkar was speaking in a specific context and time”, Sainath, who is currently involved in an ambitious project in creating a people’s archives of rural India, said.
Calling himself "leftist journalist", Sainath, however, said, “Casteism remains alive in urban India in all its manifestations”, adding, “You just need to have a look at the matrimonial columns of newspapers to see this.”
Sainath was responding to the question about his keynote address at the NGO Janvikas’ function, held on January 28, where he said, among other things, that, for the first time since 1921, the pace of urbanization was the highest so high in the decade ending 2011, when “more numbers to were added to urban India in a decade than rural India.”
At 833.1 million, India's rural population, according to the 2011 census, was 90.6 million higher than it was a decade ago. However, the census found, the urban population was 91 million higher than it was in 2001.
In 1921, the rural population actually fell by close to three million compared to the 1911 Census – and the reason was the 1918 influenza epidemic, which killed between 11 and 22 million deaths more than would have been normal for that decade.
Sainath said, if influenza left its fatal imprint on the 1921 enumeration, the story behind the numbers of the 2011 census speaks of another tragedy: collapse of millions of livelihoods in agriculture and its related occupations, leading to “despair-driven exodus”.
The top writer-journalist was asked whether what he wasn’t contradicting Dr Ambedkar, father of the Indian Constitution, exhorting Dalits to move to urban areas. Dr Ambedkar's exhortation was based on the view that a village was "but a sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow mindedness and communalism.”
Sainath "clarified" to Counterview, there are several types of migration. These include rural to urban migration, rural to rural migration, urban to urban migration, he said, insisting, here, too, there is a difference between “natural migration” and “distress migration” in each of these cases.
“While I do agree with Dr Ambedkar that migration from rural to urban areas adds anonymity to Dalits, there is little to show that it has ended casteism. Those living in housing societies know the prevalence of caste-based segregation in urban areas”, he said.
“In fact”, Sainath underlined, “Even in those who immigrate to the US are not out of the caste framework. When it comes to marriage, they come to India for choose their partner from their own caste. Within the US, they have their own caste-based temples.”
Sainath’s comments acquire significance against the backdrop of top economist Arvind Panagariya, vice-chairman, Niti Aayog, holding the view that Government of India’s policy changes -- ranging from Make in India campaign, to land and labour "reforms" -- were meant to trigger migration of people from rural to urban areas in search of jobs.

Comments

Medha Patkar said…
P SAINATH'S STATEMENT IS NOT TO SEEN AS AGAINST AMBEDKAR OR CHALLENGING HIM.HeE HAD TAKEN A POSITION IN A DIFFERENT CONTEXT IN CASTIST INDIA,Which is somewhat changed, although not fully.TODAY WHEN MIGRATION IS LEADING TO DEPRIVATION OF RESOURCES ,EVEN COMMON PROPERTY,IN THE VILLAGES,WHAT DO THE MIGRANTS GET IN THE URBAN AREAS..THEY STRUGGLE FOR EVERY RIGHT ,FACE DESTITUTION TO DISPARITY...AND LIVE A LIFE FULL OF DRUDGERY.THE DALITS MAY MIGRATE WHEN THERE IS SECURITY,,SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC BUT CERTAINLY GO FOR ASSERTION OF RIGHT TO LIFE WITH DIGNITY AND RESOURCES,LAND,WATER,COMMON PROPERTY,AND CERTAINLY FIGHT AGAINST CASTEISM TOO..IN THE RURAL AREAS TOO.LAND REFORMS NEED TO BE BROUGHT TO THE FORE WHEN LANDLESS DO NOT GET THEIR DUES EVEN IN REHABILITATION,AS IN DEVELOPMENT,IN SITU.IT MAY BE CONSIDERED AS EASY TO SAY THAN DO,NO DOUBT YET THE MIGRATION NOT REMAINING TO BE THE SOLUTION AND UPPER CASTE AND CLASS PEOPLE GRABBING MAINSTREAM RESOURCES,IT IS NECESSARY TO CHANGE STRATEGIES TO TAKE THE CHALLENGE AGAINST BOTH THE EVILS,SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC INJUSTICE TOGETHER.IF BABASAHEB WAS ALIVE HE TOO MIGHT HAVE SUPPORTED THIS...WE STAND AGAINST ALL INJUSTICE AND REMAIN COMMITTED TO CASTE ANNIHILATION.

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They