Skip to main content

Why are national, global issues a domain of only a Gupta, Sharma, Jha or a Mishra?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

Every year various magazines, online portals and newspapers bring out a list of ‘powerful’ people for our consumption. These are brought out on particular occasions after being “judged’ by a few “selected” or “knowledgeable” people who go through the work and achievements of such people during the year in order to come to a conclusion.
The history of ‘powerful’ people of the world actually started with “Time” and “Newsweek” magazines. Most of their writers have been western commentators. Indian commentators till now hardly contributed to such an exercise. But things are beginning to change, as various Indian commentators and experts have found their way in doing such an exercise. Many a time one is surprised with several of their inclusions and exclusions.
Indeed, the fever has lately caught up in India. This year’s “Indian Express” list of the most powerful Indians appeared biased, perhaps a deliberate attempt to denigrate the Gandhis. It looks as if the newspaper decided to play the game for the BJP. There is reason to believe that this way a ‘liberal’ looking media is proving to be more dangerous than the likes of Arnab Goswami and the Republic TV.
Indeed, liberals do not counter the legitimacy of the Brahmanical classes. They just try to defend the existing superstructure by diverting issues by givinga different ‘angle’. Except for making the ‘powerful’ happy and ‘building’ up a few new ‘brands’, these lists are nothing but an exercise to keep the ‘audiences’ and the ‘readers’ glued to the media so that they too have a feeling of ‘inclusion’.
Most of these ‘lists’ are actually the ‘vision’ of ‘intellectuals’, but TV channels often resort to this exercise by asking people to vote. A few years back, CNN-IBN started voting for the ‘Greatest Indian’. They carefully did not bring Gandhiji into the picture. The ‘fight’ was between Jawaharlal Nehru and Baba Saheb Ambedkar.
In the final count of votes, Dr Ambedkar won with heavy margins. Gandhi was not a “participant”. That is how the Brahmanical elite manipulates things. They try to project Gandhi as the topmost icon, who is ‘unquestionable’, though allowing people to vote for Ambedkar and Nehru.
Time and again, these magazines change their tactics to look ‘progressive’ and ‘inclusive’. But these changes correspond to the political situation in the country. They provide a feeling that they ‘care’ for the marginalised. After the Mandal Commission report, most of the newspapers vehemently opposed OBC reservation, yet some Hindi papers started giving space to Dalit-Ambedkarite writers. “Pioneer” provided a column to Chandra Bhan Prasad on Sundays exclusively on Dalit issues.
More recently, “The Indian Express” asked Suraj Yengde to curate a column on caste-race matters. After the death of Rohith Vemula many newspapers published stories and personal narratives of ‘Dalits’, a clever way to confine such writers to Dalit issues alone, without realising that there are extraordinary people who can write on any subject. The Brahmanical media, however, wants to limit them to the Dalit identity. As it is an issue of visibility, many become prey to such tactics.
Indeed, as Dalit middle classes grow, the media and other spaces will be made available to them – not to challenge the Brahmanical hegemony but put them in a separate ‘Dalit’ cell, like the political parties do. They would be called to speak or write on when particular issues of Dalits arise, as if they don’t understand or know any other national or ‘international issues’, which are a clear domain of a Guptaji, a Sharmaji, a Jha saheb or a Mishraji.
The Brahmanical media wants to limit Ambedkarite scholars to their Dalit identity. As it is an issue of visibility, many become prey to such tactics
Yet, the fact is that Ambedkarism has been the ideology which India’s ruling castes have always seen with suspicion, denying it a space. It grew up because of dedicated Ambedkarites and their groundwork. Today, we few rememberspirited legends such as Advocate Bhagwan Das, LR Balley, VT Rajsekhar, K Jamanadas, Raja Dhale, JV Pawar, Sadanand Fulzale, Bojha Tarkam, NG Uke, Vijay Surwade, Manohar Mauli Vishwas, Baby Tai Kamble, Shanta Bai Dane, Kumud Pawade and others, who kept the spirit of Ambedkarism high and flying. Most of these legends never got an opportunity to air their views in the so-called ‘national’ media.
In fact, person like VT Rajshekar started “Dalit Voice” after resigning from “The Indian Express” in the 1980s while LR Balley started “Bhim Patrika” to carry forward the mission after the demise of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar in 1956. Bhagwan Dass compiled the work of Baba Saheb and brought collected works of Dr Ambedkar. There were numerous magazines and journals in various parts of the country which were being run in the name of Ambedkarism, not necessarily on Bahujan issues.
VT Rajshekar used to call ‘national media’ as India’s ‘national toilet papers’. We grew up admiring him, though many of felt that isolation cannot help the Dalit cause. Yet, it is a fact that the Ambedkarite literature and power grew without getting legitimacy from the Brahmanical elite. That is why late Kanshiram was extraordinary as he never went to get a ‘certificate’ from these ‘manuwadi’ media and politicians.
In recent years, “Round Table India” has done tremendous work to provide space to aspiring Ambedkarite Bahujan scholars allowing them to make a niche for themselves without any certification from the ‘intellectual’ elite of the country. Can we ignore the phenomenal work done by Lokmitra through Trailokya Baudh Mahasangha and Nagaloka and his dedicated team of activists such as Mangesh Dahiwale and Priyadarshi Telang?
My friend in Odisha, Manas Jena, has been writing a regular column for “Pioneer” for many years and it is a well-received column. Another friend Dr Goldy M George has been contributing through not only ground work of the Dalit Mukti Morcha but regularly writing thought-provoking issues. Of course, Brahmanical media fear independent and assertive Ambedkarites.
However, the fact is, not all who are being ‘projected’ as Dalit icons or heroes are Ambedkarites. Two years back, American media as well as many in India ‘celebrated’ the ‘autobiographical’ work of an expatriate Indian in America. It was hailed as a landmark book. The fact was, while the book shared the author’s own experiences and that of her uncle who happened to be part of the ‘revolutionary’ movement, the author actually despised Ambedkarites and Ambedkarism, as she came from the ‘left’ background.
If the Dalit movement is acknowledged world over today and respected, it is because of Dr Ambedkar’s monumental work and guidance to the people as well as the dedicated work of Ambedkarites. Travel to the United Kingdom, and you will find how Santosh Dass, Gautam Chakrawarty, Arun Kumar, Devinder Chander and others have kept the flag of Ambedkarism high. They don’t run ‘professional’ organisations, nor are they attached to any ‘university’, but with their work with the community they have kept the Ambedkarite movement in the northern hemisphere alive.
While the dominant media and individuals are free to bring out their list every year, or perhaps once in a while, I can also provide some suggestions, and friends can work on that. We can have a list of powerful 100 Indians in the service of Brahmanism. This list can have some Dalit, OBC, Muslim, Christian, Adivasi names too. And there can also be a list of 50 non-Dalit Ambedkarites, 100 Ambedkarites in the service of humanity – including in literature, social work, journalism.
Any takers for my suggestions?
---
*Human rights defender. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vbrawat, twitter: at @freetohumanity, skype: @vbrawat

Comments

TRENDING

Corporate-political party nexus? Rise and rise of Gautam Adani under Modi regime

By Sandeep Pandey*  In last five years Rs 10,09,510 crore taken as loans by various companies from banks in India have been declared as Non Performing Assets, an euphemism for writing them off. Out of this State Bank of India alone wrote off Rs 2,04,486 crore. Only about 13% of the total written off amount was recovered. Identity of the defaulting borrowers, most of whom are influential corporates, is not revealed. Compare this to the loans taken by farmers. The names of defaulting farmers is displayed on walls in tehsil offices to shame them and some unlucky ones also land up in lock-ups there. On the contrary, a few corporate defaulters have fled the country and quite curiously the authorities didn’t seize their passports like they do with some dissenting intellectuals or activists booked under mostly false cases. Now consider the donations received by political parties in the form of electoral bonds. The identity of the donor need not be revealed even to the Election Commission or i

'Extremist' US Hindu global group funding hate against Indian Churches: NGO groups

Counterview Desk  As many as 14 civil rights and faith-based organizations in co-signing a letter to the US Senators, Representatives, State Governor, and other elected officials have demanded the FBI, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and Department of Justice should investigate into Texas-based organization Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF) a fundraiser campaign for demolishing churches in India. Co-signed by Federation of Indian American Christian Organization in North America (FIACONA), North American Church of God, Southern Methodist University (SMU) Human Rights Program, Amnesty International - Dallas, World Without Genocide, Center for Pluralism, Genocide Watch, The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), Limitless Church, Justice for All, Hindu for Human Rights, North Texas Peace Advocates, Good Citizens of DFW, and the North Texas Islamic Council, the letter has been sent to Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz; Representatives Michael C Burgess, Pat Fallon, Van Taylor, Terr

Carbon abatement to tackle climate change: India's failure has 'outpaced' its success

By Satorupa Karmakar*  On November 01, 2021, India took a pledge of reaching a carbon-zero stage by 2070, at the COP-26 held in Glasgow, UK. As ‘ambitious’ and dubious it may sound to some, with a short-term delay in renewable energy generation (which gained the pace post-September 2020) and drastic fall in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission level as COVID-19 emerged as a ‘necessary evil’ , the path of India’s clean energy mission could be seen being paved throughout this time. Currently ranked as the third largest GHG emitter in the world, India is projected to demand more energy in coming years due to a large population base (1.3 billion as per 2011 Census data) and primarily coal-based fast-growing economy. Rapid industrialisation in post-colonial developing countries like India, stimulated by a larger and cheaper pool of fossil fuels and labour-force depicted a continuous upsurge in temperature, heavy precipitation in some places with an overall declining rainfall and a burgeoning soc

BJP-RSS trap opposition in 'futile row' around Savarkar, freedom movement

By Prem Singh*  Everything in this article is just a repetition. I have been saying all this since 1991-92. It is obvious that the Congress and the RSS/BJP do not like my ideas. But most socialists, advocates of social justice and communists also dislike my thoughts. I watch their measures and efforts to deal with the present crisis with interest. I respect them and also participate. Yet, the fact it, we fall behind again and again, and the crisis goes ahead. Instead of being a solution-providers, we are seen to be a part of the crisis. How long will this last? Perhaps, if the new generation thinks differently, things may turn for better! 1 To say that modern Indian society and politics are passing through the deepest crisis ever will surely be a repetition. The crisis is deeper than the spreading of communal hatred we witness around us. In fact, the business of communal hatred is flourishing by taking its manure and water from the deep crisis. The crisis of neo-colonial slavery is pro

Demand to withdraw 'anti-environment, anti-adivasi' forest conservation rules 2022

By Gopinath Majhi*  The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, a coalition of adivasis and forest dwellers’ organisations, has sent a memorandum to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) raising serious concerns over Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022, notified by the Centre on June 29.  Contending that recent amendments and a host of executive orders/guidelines issued by the ministry undermine and dilute the FRA and threaten the rights of adivasis and forest dwellers, CSD demands that the 2022 FC Rules should be rescinded forthwith. Demanding withdrawal of such anti-people and anti-environment rules CSD Odisha organised a protest Dharana in front of State Assembly today on 25th November 2022 and submitted memorandums to the Hon’ble Governor of Odisha, Chief Secretary and Commissioner-cum-Secretary, ST & SC Development Department for conveying our concerns against the FC Rules 2022 to the Central Government for its withdrawal. The memorandums w

GM mustard not swadeshi, it's a patent of MNC Bayer, GoI 'misleading' SC: Modi told

Counterview Desk  In a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as many as 42 farmers’ organisations though their representatives , backed by senior scientists and experts, have said that the Government of India (GoI) should stop misleading the Supreme Court “with untrue and incorrect” statements on GM mustard. Insisting that India does not need unsafe GM mustard, in their representation, they urged the Supreme Court to order immediate uprooting of GM mustard crop in various locations. The representation comes even as a penal of experts, coming down heavily on the GoI for refusing to see how in less than a week’s time the pollen from GM mustard will “start contaminating” non-GM mustard fields with transgenes, including male sterility and herbicide tolerant traits. Alleging that the GoI is actively misleading the Supreme Court with untrue and incorrect statements on GM mustard, Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India said, “We can list at least five areas where Gov

'Unprecedented rise' of attacks on students of Delhi university by ABVP condemned

Counterview Desk  A statement, sent as an email alert by "concerned teachers and students of Delhi University", referring to a protest organised against the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad's (ABVP's), has alleged “brutal” attack on students and teachers demanding the release of civil rights leader Prof GN Saibaba and others from “unjust incarceration.” “We are seeing an unprecedented rise of attacks on the students of our university by the fascist ABVP goons. Almost every week we see our fellow students and activists getting attacked physically by the lackeys of this current Brahmanical Hindutva fascist regime”, the statement claimed. Text : A joint protest was organised by the students and teachers of Delhi University on 2nd of December against the brutal attack by ABVP goons. On 1st of December, activists of Bhagat Singh Chatra Ekta Manch (bsCEM), Lawyers Against Atrocities (LAA) and many other organisations as a part of Campaign Against State Repression (CASR),

Never-ending saga of sin tax: What if murder is taxed at Rs 1 crore, rape at Rs 5 crore?

By Moses Raj GS, Sangeetha Thomas*  What should have ended by June 30, 2022 as a 5 year experiment has resurfaced. The government has extended the levy of GST compensation cess by another 4 years till March 31, 2026. This cess, dubbed as the sin tax imposed on sin(ful) goods, is double the highest slab on indirect taxes. But only a few pay for it and the majority benefit, unendingly. The year 2017 is a landmark year for indirect taxes. With the grand idea of ‘One Nation, One Tax’ as a fiscal slogan subsuming all State based taxes such as octroi /entry tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), sales tax, taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, luxury tax, purchase tax, entertainment tax, property tax, professional tax and central sales tax into a single framework of Goods and Services Tax (GST) changed the contours of revenue collection. Complicating it further, India, with each State having its own size and revenue problems, has the most complex and highly centralised indirect tax structure in the w

Muslims, Dalits off Bangladesh border 'don't have acess to' water, power, farmland

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, civil rights group Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), in a letter to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, has revealed how, even after 75 years of Independence, Muslims and Dalits living next to the India-Bangladesh border do not have access to electricity, drinking water, even to their own land. Stating that the “horrible situation” has due to “illegal restriction on the agricultural activities” imposed by the Border Security Force (BSF), plunging “farmers and their families into deeper poverty”, the letter, referring to the plight of 1,200 people reside in the Changmari village, states, There are about 200 acres of cultivable lands out of 3,500 acres is situated beyond the border fence. “The ingress and egress of the farmers to their own agricultural land through the fencing gates are regulated by the BSF. The soil and climate of this region is very suitable for jute and maize cultivation”, it adds. Text: This letter is

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl