Talk and discussion: ‘Annihilation of Caste and the Legacy of B.R. Ambedkar’
December 28, 2015
It would be purely tautological to claim that caste is a reality that permeates all aspects of Indian social and economic life in different ways. Working class dalits in Indian society form what Giorgio Agamben has called ‘homo sacer’. The recent decades have witnessed horrendous anti-dalit atrocities with virtual impunity as the perpetrators have often gone scot-free. The cases of decades-old Bathani Tola massacre as well as the recent Bhagana incident are particularly illustrative of this fact. Despite the ‘affirmative action’ (though an extremely flawed one), almost 91 percent of dalit population still lives on the socio-economic fringes of the society and forms a considerable part of the rural and urban working class population of India. As the government jobs have been decreasing for almost two decades now (even before, the growth rate of government jobs was feeble at best), the question of this ‘affirmative action’ has been rendered even more irrelevant and cries for thinking ‘beyond the wall’.
The rise to power of the Modi government has seen a spurt in the incidents of anti-dalit atrocities as well as lynching and persecution of persons from religious minorities. This has also been accompanied by the attempts of the right-wing forces to appropriate the legacy and symbol of B. R. Ambedkar for their own electoral interests. One might agree or disagree with the political thought and strategies of Ambedkar for the annihilation of caste, yet, any progressive individual understands the fact that these attempts to appropriate and saffronise Ambedkar are based on blatant lies and Goebbelian propaganda of the saffron brigade. We are living in times that have made the caste question more important than ever, not only for the particular upliftment of the dalits and other oppressed castes, but also for mounting a resistance to the current Fascist onslaught as well as the overall project of revolutionary socio-economic transformation. The days to come are going to create a dual potential: a revolutionary one as well as a reactionary one. If the revolutionary forces fail to realize the revolutionary potential, its penitence will be materialized in an even more horrible and rampant Fascist reaction, which practically would mean attack on workers’ rights, civil rights, increased oppression of dalits and religious minorities as well as economic migrants. That is why it has become imperative for all progressive forces to seriously, without dogmatic narrow-mindedness and sectarianism, consider the question of annihilation of caste, among others.
Needless to say, while pondering over the question of annihilation of caste, the legacy and contributions of B.R. Ambedkar must be critically analysed. The question of Ambedkar in the anti-caste movements has remained to be a galvanizing one. While a section of Ambedkarite movement has made Ambedkar a sacrosanct figure much to the detriment of the Ambedkar’s legacy itself, the revolutionary Communist movement has failed to understand the caste question in its historicity as well as in all of its political and economic dimensions, despite leading numerous valiant struggles of the landless dalit workers right since the early part of the previous century. This failure has also led to problematic engagement with Ambedkar and his politics. Since Ambedkar’s symbol continues to be a highly contested one for different real and unreal reasons, it is the need of the hour for the working class movement to come up with a scientific and balanced critical evaluation of Ambedkar’s political thought as well as his political practice. Without such an exercise some painful bottlenecks of the working class movement as well as the dalit liberation movement cannot be removed, that have effectively prevented them to merge into one radical anti-capitalist anti-caste movement which is essential for any project of revolutionary transformation in India. Any serious political and social scientist is perfectly aware of the fact that the present capitalist state has a gender as well as a caste.
In view of these concerns, ‘Polemic’ organised a talk on ‘Annihilation of Caste and the Legacy of B.R. Ambedkar’ by Abhinav Sinha who is a labour activist and independent researcher and edits a workers’ monthly ‘Mazdoor Bigul’. The talk was followed by an interactive discussion with the speaker.
Here are the links to the audio and video recording of the seminar.
Video of Audience comments –
Video of speakers’ response to audience intervention –
Audio of talk – http://chirb.it/GdpPxw
Audio of Audience comments – http://chirb.it/pyfPEL
Audio of speakers’ response to audience intervention – http://chirb.it/kkIMNE
To download audio files click on Download This Chirbit button after opening each link.
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