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Telugu Dalit scholar gets death threats, says: Social smuggling denotes tight caste business encirclement

By Our Representative
Noted Dalit scholar Kancha Ilaiah is again news for his book “Post-Hindu India” where he controversially describes caste economic exploitation as “social smuggling”. While his effigies are being burnt across Telegana and Andhra Pradesh by Arya Vysya Sangam, demanding a ban on the book and his immediate arrest, he has been receiving death threats, too.
Refusing to budge, in his sharp defence, Ilaiah has said that his concept of “social smuggling” in his 2009 book essentially denotes to “the Vysya model of caste based business historically leading to a massive amount of wealth being hidden underground called Guptha Dhana.”
The chapter, “Social Smugglers”, which was first published by a local book seller with the title “Samajika Smugglerlu: Komatollu” as a booklet is being burnt in the two Telugu-speaking states to “pressure” the two state governments to ban the book, alleges Ilaiah.
Explaining the concept, Ilaiah says, “The social smuggling process started from the post-Guptha period of fifth century AD and continues to operate even today. Till British colonialism came to India the completely caste controlled business was only in the hands of the Banias. Even the British did not touch the caste-centred business from the villages upwards, including the ritual economy around Hindu temples.”
Contending that wealth and gold were “hidden in the temple treasuries without allowing it to reenter market transactions”, Ilaiah says, “This whole process of wealth accumulation by exploiting the labour of the productive masses, drawing it into a caste economy and not allowing it to plough back into society, cannot be understood by the concept ‘exploitation’ that was very apt for the West.”
“Indian exploitation”, according to him, “Has a massive component of the use of caste ‘social borders’ to control the accumulated wealth within that border of heavily exploited wealth. It was used by the traders for their good life and gave enough to the temples for better survival of priests.”
“The remaining surplus”, he notes, “Was hidden underground, over ground and also in the temples. This process did not allow the cash economy to come back in the form of investment either for agrarian development or for promotion of mercantile capital. This whole process is nothing but social smuggling. The wealth did not go outside India but did get arrested and used only within the caste borders.”
Pointing out that this process is “continuing even now”, Ilaiah insists, “In all grain markets the Shahukars are the main buyers of the produce for very low cost from the farmers and sell the same goods for huge prices for the same producers of wealth.”
According to him, “From the Bombay mills to all petroleum products, ownership is established by a mix of class exploitation and caste business encirclement. This trader caste based encirclement does not allow any other caste business person to survive.”
Ilaiah further argues, the “socially smuggled economy” does not have “any human empathy for the lower caste poor”, insisting, “The poor among the same caste get some help but the wretched of the earth —the Dalit, Adivasi poor—do not get sympathetic treatment. They are not able to establish some Social Justice Fund in their caste organizations, like the Muslim rich do in the name zakat for the poor of their own religion. The upper castes claim that the SC/ST/OBCs are Hindus. But they never share a rupee with them in the ritual or social realm.”

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