‘Why not just declare that killing Dalits in this country is legal?’

In a country where massacres of dalits leave no evidence, how can justice be faulted?

In a nation where massacred bodies of pregnant dalit and muslim women produce no concrete evidence of their own murders, how can justice be wrong?

In a democracy where butchered infants and children deliver defective evidence of their butchering, how can justice be denied?

In modern India where the massacred are always landless laborers, daily wage earners and small vendors, how can justice not be done?

In a casteless nation, when the slaughtered are always dalits, pasmanda muslim and low-caste, while the criminal-justice system is wholly upper caste, why won’t justice be given?

Take a brief walk through a few modern-day massacres and their verdicts:









Images courtesy: The Internet

Title courtesy: Rahul Bhalerao

for them, for me

for daughters who did not survive rape, for ones not given a sorrowful farewell, for ones who remain as numbers for rape-murders, for ones who will today, this very minute become another protested or unprotested,  mourned or unmourned rape-murdered number, give me courage to raise a son unafraid of women, give me strength to raise a son confident in himself to never feel the need to hurt anyone. for i do not have any insights into what can terrify some men so much that they feel compelled to leave trails of raped and murdered women, every single day, throughout history. for this to not  proceed into eternity, give mothers, the one group of agential elements in society’s massive cauldron of violent constituents, this one set of not easily available insights to raise gentle sons who can always, always stay non-violent towards women, towards humans.


as always, by mother, i mean all those involved in raising children, all genders.

Kongu by Jupaka Subhadra


Kongu isn’t a rag that stands guard over my head 

Kongu ties up my hunger,

tucks my stomach in and keeps watch

for me like Katta Maisamma* while sleeping;

When I turn into a canal of sweat at work

she mops it up like a cool breeze,

like the moon clutching together the stars

she glistens as the sack

that holds holds roots, vegetables, grains

and the komati‘s* groceries on my head;

In the fields and the fallow plots, when I grow tired

she spreads out a bed to give me rest,

when my grief streams from my eyes to the skies

she draws my eye babies towards herself

like a mother, and hugs them close, my dirt rag;

When my husband reaches out in love or anger

like a ball of butter she always gets caught before I,

to aggression or violence, from those at home or outside,

my kongu rag always succumbs first…

Kissing my ears and cheeks

she holds up an umbrella of senna flowers

over the dawn of my face

the sapphires of my hair;

From chilly weather and searing looks

from the blasts of heat waves

from the sneakiness of rain drops

she offers cool relief like the shade of a tree,

becomes a warm fire that covers my shoulders.

She becomes a pad for cool pots

that slake your thirst from a mile away,

burns her fingers

handling vessels on the stove,

comforts my crying babies

hugging them like warm baby clothing.

Though she works cheerfully by my side all day in the dust

she stems the life streams

flowing from my body’s sluices all night;

Like a cow nursing a new-born calf

she licks all dirt off my body,

like a wicker wall

she hides the modugu* stain spreading through my cloth;

Only when she becomes the snake charmer’s been at my waist

do planting, harvesting, weeding and threshing,

chores and songs screech into motion.

My dirt rag that rolls in my hands, sweat, bed, bones, limbs

in pleasure and sorrow,

my kongu rag that sticks to me

in work and song, in crisis and comfort,

like the filth that clings to my feet, the companion

of my life path…slaving like the washerman’s stone,

when does my perspiring kongu find the time for rest?

She’s not the patchy pallu that stands guard over my head

nor the hobbling stone… over my breast

how can I drag her into the bazaar

set fire to her honour and lose myself? 

  • Katta Maisamma: Village goddess, goddess of water bodies, tanks etc.
  • Komati: Shopkeeper, Bania.
  • Modugu: Here, it refers to the colour (bright orange-red) of the Butea monosperma tree (called ‘Palash’ in Hindi).

Jupaka Subhadra, in this poem, discusses how the Kongu, the free end of the sari, doesn’t just stand guard over the Dalit working woman: it’s a tool, a companion, a comrade-in-drudgery. Much unlike the ghunghat (the Hindu equivalent of the veil) draped over the head of an upper-caste woman.

Translated by Naren Bedide from the Telugu original (‘kongu naa bocce miida kaawalunDE bonta pEggaadu’ from the collection of Madiga poetry ‘kaitunakala danDem’), first published in the literary magazine Danse Macabre. Read his translations of other Dalitbahujan poets here.

Image courtesy of the artist and feminist poet Nitoo Das (River Slant). 

Cross post from Savari

Janlokpal bill: a brahmanic and patriarchal script

The Jan Lokpal bill is under 35 pages. The creators of this document successfully manufactured a ‘revolution’ out of this. The corporate media sold it as such, and some academics called it a ‘movement’.

Media and academia largely did not comment on the contents of the document. Their preoccupation was with the leaders on the dais and the people on the Ramlila grounds.

In a caste ordered, rigidly patriarchal society like ours, exclusion of dalitbahujan men and women is the default status when socio-political changes are framed by upper-caste, male-dominated power groups, such as Kejriwal’s team. Unless contested, this group of unelected civil society actors will not concede their male and caste privileges. Hence all their formulations have to be meticulously examined for their apparent and hidden biases against women and non-dominant castes.  Read the rest here

A note to the Dalit child

When you read Ambedkar’s comments below, please substitute the Left for the Congress or any individual or organization that takes it upon itself to say who should speak for the Dalits. Always know this, every time a Dalit speaks (literate or unlettered) he/she fully represents themselves and their communities. Plural.

Here is what Ambedkar said:

“What disturbs me, after hearing Mr. Gandhi, is that instead of confining himself to his proposition, namely, that the Minorities Committee should be adjourned sine die, he started casting reflections upon the representatives of the different communities sitting around this Table. He said the delegates were the nominees of Government, and that they did not represent the views of their communities for whom they stood. We cannot deny the allegation that we are nominees of the Government, but speaking for myself, I have not the slightest doubt that even if the Depressed Classes of India were given the chance of electing their representatives to this conference, I would all the same, find a place here. I say, therefore, that whether I am a nominee or not, I fully represent the claims of my community. Let no man be under any mistaken impression as regards that.” Continue reading

why bant singh can’t go to rahul pandita

This is a cross-post from Kufr.

something led me here, to this very entertaining piece of information:

The meaning of the word ‘Saraswat’ has more than one origin. One refers to ‘offspring ofSaraswati[citation needed] , the Goddess of learning applied usually to learned and scholarly people. It may also denote the residents of Saraswati river basin. The brahmins of this region who are referred to as ‘Saraswats’ in Mahabharata and Puranas were learned in Vedic lore[citation needed] . They concentrated on studying subjects like astronomymetaphysics,medicine and allied subjects and disseminating knowledge[citation needed] .

the heading, you’d notice says ‘history’. history? do people really believe that’s history? gods and goddesses are history? do you notice anything like dates in that whole section?

that piece of history whetted my appetite for more such knowledge. this page tells you about the origins of the nambudiris:

The ancient Sangam literature mentions Brahmins ofChera Kingdom (which became Kerala) who may be Namboothiris as there is mention of Perinchellur(Taliparamba) village, which is one of the most important villages for Namboothiris, as a great Vedic village. There is no concrete evidence to suggest migration of Namboothiri Brahmins to Kerala but would most probably be the heavily civilised Aryans who took the Red sea route to Kerala even before the 100O BC. The recent evidence of Brahmin migration to Kerala is the Embranthiris who were originally Tulu Brahmins.

no concrete evidence, but they’re most probably heavily civilised Aryans who took the Red sea route to Kerala even before the 100O BC (100O BC?).

what’s funnier (than the content of those histories) is the fact that some people, at least two persons, actually wrote those pages. why? to tell people like me: this is not your history, you can’t bask in the glory of the saraswats or the nambudiris, you can only admire them. but would anyone have written those pages if non-nambudiris/non-saraswats like me didn’t exist? what’s the point of being a brahmin when there aren’t any non-brahmins around? so i am there in those narratives: as, say, most probably the heavily uncivilised native who didn’t take the red sea route to kerala even before the 100O BC, but was born here. no non-indian can read between the lines and spot me, the non-saraswat or non-nambudiri, who doesn’t deserve any history. the nambudiri is the light, i am the shadow that gives the light meaning. Continue reading

for all the pacing


ages since i heard you sing a full song, don’t remember the last time you hummed one of these songs. for all the times i came home late, dreading to see you pacing near the gate, preparing and rejecting answers for the inevitable grilling…. miss your anxious voice, miss your singing voice, miss you. will be home soon.