B T Ranadive
Essay

Caste, Class and Property Relations

B T Ranadive

Nationalist tradition in India looked upon the struggle of the lower castes against the domination of the upper castes as a diversion from the general anti-imperialist struggle. The caste question was considered to be an internal affair of the Indians who, in spite of all the differences and inequalities among them, were expected to first fight for the freedom of the country, under the leadership of the bourgeoisie. At the same time, there was another current which held that India was unfit for freedom till the people first overcame the inequalities of the caste system. This current was represented by certain social reformers coming from upper castes whose bourgeois democratic consciousness was appalled by the monstrous iniquities of the caste system and other obscenities of Hinduism. In essence, both these traditions sought to delink the anti-caste struggles from the contemporary democratic and class struggles; they sought to circumscribe the anti-caste struggle within the framework of the existing political and economic system.

This essay by B T Ranadive makes a broad survey of both these traditions as well as certain other anti-caste currents which launched a direct attack on the inequality of the caste system. Ranadive argues that while anti-caste struggles, including those which take the form of a demand for reservation of jobs, etc, should be supported, what is called for is a deeper struggle, embracing the oppressed of all castes, against the present socio-economic system which is based on certain property and production relations which sustain both caste and class oppression. [Read more]

Ambedkar addressing a conference at Ambedkar Bhawan, Delhi, 20 May 1951
Essay

Contemporary Relevance of Ambedkar’s Thought

B V Raghavulu

(Article published in ‘People’s Democracy’ on the occasion of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary in April 2016.)

Everybody is talking about Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s life and work today. Ambedkar’s life work was to a large extent in the pre-independence period. He passed away on December 6, 1956. It was not even a decade since achieving independence at that time. And it was not even five years after the promulgation of constitution, in whose drafting he had played a major part. Though there were attempts by the ruling parties in the last seven decades of independent India to appropriate the legacy of Ambedkar to suit their interests, never were these efforts so intense as we are witnessing them today. [Read more]

EMS Namboodiripad taking oath as the First Chief minister of Kerala. (Photo courtesy: Frontline)
Essay

Castes, Classes and Parties in Modern Political Development

EMS Namboodiripad

5 April 2017 marked the 60th anniversary of the swearing in of the First Communist Ministry in Kerala, with Comrade EMS as the Chief Minister. Among the many far-reaching measures of the First Communist Ministry were the pioneering land reforms which abolished statutory landlordism and ‘jenmi’ system in the state, thus breaking the back of Brahminical landlordism and weakening “upper caste” Hindu landlordism as a whole. On the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of the First Communist Ministry, Anticaste.in republishes Comrade EMS’s landmark article “Castes, Classes and Parties in Modern Political Development”, published first in the journal ‘Social Scientist’ in November 1977. [Read more]

Sidi at Hariharapura, Hassan, Karnataka.
News Struggles

Dalit Hakkugala Samiti demands end to the inhuman ritual of ‘Sidi’

A degrading, age-old ritual in Hassan district of Karnataka which involves piercing the flesh of Dalits using metal hooks has come under challenge by democratic forces led by the Dalit Hakkugala Samiti. The ritual known as ‘Sidi’ involves inserting metal hooks into the flesh of the backs of Dalit men, who are then tied to a wooden pole. The men dangle from the wooden pole with the help of the hooks, while the pole, which is mounted on a central axis, spins slowly as it is pulled by a rope held by other men. [Read more]

Essay

Dalit Resistance and the Role of the Left

Brinda Karat

A fundamental and core feature of India’s socio-economic structures is its caste system. Birth and descent determine positions in immutable social hierarchies. When Rohith Vemula penned his tragic yet passionate suicide note he described his Dalit identity as a ‘fatal accident’. And it is true. Had he been born into another caste, he would not as a child has had to witness his mother Radhika facing caste based indignities. Nor would Rohith and his sibling Raja have faced discrimination in their school classrooms. The cancellation of his scholarship, his only means of survival as a student at a top University, would not have led to the drastic action he took, thus making him a victim of an institutional murder. The institution in question is not just the callous university establishment, but in fact, the institution of caste. [Read more]

Note

Ten Years after Khairlanji: New Impetus for Struggles

Editorial by People’s Democracy, October 2, 2016

September 29, 2016 marks the tenth anniversary of the Khairlanji atrocity. The brutal murder of Surekha Bhotmange along with her daughter, Priyanka, and her two sons, Sudhir and Roshan (visually challenged) in this small hamlet in Bhandara district of Maharashtra revealed many old and new facets of the violence that dalits are subjected to. [Read more]

Essay

Khairlanji, then and now

Brinda Karat

Khairlanji, the name of a village in Bhandara district of Maharashtra, evokes the power, brutality and arrogance of India’s caste system and the impunity enjoyed by its most cruel practitioners. It was here, on this date 10 years ago, that Surekha Bhotmange, a Dalit woman farmer, was killed along with her two sons, Roshan and Sudhir, who was visually disabled, and her 17-year-old daughter, Priyanka. Each of them had been subjected to the most horrible violence by members of the dominant OBC caste in this area, who now employ the same upper-caste hegemonic practices and methods against Dalits that they had been victims of, and which they had once fought against. The state refused to admit that the murder of four members of a Dalit family in Maharashtra was a caste crime. Ten years later, the demand for a repeal of the legal protection for Dalits can be heard. [Read more]