reserved murders

List of Dalit students committing ‘suicide’ in last four years in India’s premier institutions

Here is the list of the Dalit students who have committed suicide in last four years. This is by no means an exhaustive list but covers only those cases which we were able to document and where parents and relatives have raised their voices and had accused the institutions of caste discrimination against their children that led to their suicides.

We are sure that the actual numbers of Dalit students committing suicide in country’s premier institutions in last four years will be much higher.

• M. Shrikant, final year, B.Tech, IIT Bombay, 1st Jan 07

• Ajay S. Chandra, integrated PhD, Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc), Bangalore – 26 Aug, 07

• Jaspreet Singh, final year MBBS, Government Medical College, Chandigarh, 27 Jan 08.

• Senthil Kumar, PHD, School of Physics, University of Hyderabad – 23 Feb 08

 Prashant Kureel, first year, B.Tech, IIT Kanpur, 19 April, 08

• G. Suman, final year, M.Tech, IIT Kanpur, 2nd Jan, 09

• Ankita Veghda, first year, BSc Nursing, Singhi Institute of Nursing, Ahmedabad, 20 April, 09

• D Syam Kumar, first year B.Tech, Sarojini Institute of Engineering and Technology, Vijayawada, 13 Aug, 09

• S. Amravathi, national level young woman boxer, Centre of Excellence, Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, 4th Nov, 09

• Bandi Anusha, B.Com final year, Villa Mary College, Hyderabad, 5th Nov, 09

• Pushpanjali Poorty, first year, MBA, Visvesvaraiah Technological University, Bangalore, 30th Jan, 10

• Sushil Kumar Chaudhary, final year MBBS, Chattrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University (formerly KGMC), Lucknow, 31 Jan, 10.

• Balmukund Bharti, final year MBBS, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, 3rd March, 10

• JK Ramesh, second year, BSc, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, 1st July, 10

• Madhuri Sale, final year B.Tech, IIT Kanpur, 17th November, 10

• G. Varalakshmi, B.Tech first year, Vignan Engineering College, Hyderabad, 30 Jan, 2011

• Manish Kumar, IIIrd Year B.Tech, IIT Roorkee, 13 Feb, 11

• Linesh Mohan Gawle, PhD, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, 16 April, 11


more on the death of merit blog.

jasmine gajras for lokpal men

the ten member jan lokpal bill committee constituted post ‘revolution’ seen conferring at their first meeting. does anything seem strange here?

you know, my country does have women. they are just out of this picture. perhaps they are behind the camera, or behind the men, or simply left out. how can that be? i saw angry women ‘revolutionaries’ at the forefront of the anti-corruption ‘revolution’. think, i recognized a socialite turned gandhian, a famous retired police officer, prominent film personalities and anti-big dam activists. all these women are ones who reached the top echelons of their respective professions. surely, they did not fail to ask for inclusion in the committee -an all-powerful supra-parliamentary one! surely, these women know the long-lasting repercussions of excluding women in top committees (?)

feminist credentials, they all have. their decades long high volume presence in the media assures us that a feminist movement is thriving in india. so, what happened? someone, please explain the invisible patriarchal processes that facilitated this exclusion of the super bright, super ambitious indian women (naturally all upper caste). Continue reading

perspectives of the bards

i am recording here, a part of a conversation about telangana movement between kuffir and chittibabu padavala happening in another forum where it may become difficult to retrieve after some time.

kuffir: there is a huge pool of dalit bahujans activism, as you say, in the telangana movement, but i don’t know if there are any strong currents of dalitbahujan thought in the movement as it has shaped up until now.

gaddar said in a recent interview: ‘manadikaani kotlaata manam kotlaadatunnaam’ (‘we’re fighting a battle which is not ours’). but he says we’ve to fight. but why? to own it, like you said? how can we fight someone else’s battle and win/own it?

gorati venkanna’s song, ‘palle kanneeru pedutundi..’ and prof.jayashankar’s theory of internal colonization– both were used as strong arguments for telangana. while venkanna’s song about the dying village and dalitbahujan distress could be about any village, in any region in the country wilting under the effects of globalization, jayashankar talks specifically about telangana.

gorati vekanna rises as the kabir of our times, or phule and asks (in this song and others)– this gaundlodu, this upparodu, this chakalodu, this kummarodu, this kammarodu, this kurmodu, this madigodu, this malodu, this erukalodu, this merodu, this turkodu– how about their right to life? he speaks with, not for, the village, the dying stream, the dying tank, the dying wells, the dying palms, the dying birds and even the dying babul trees.. it’s a stirringly human plea. a very dalitbahujan perspective. or, what i think is a dalitbahujan perspective i should learn to absorb.  Continue reading

For a fistful of self-respect

I don’t know when I was born but

I was killed on this very land thousands of years ago

punarapi jananam punarapi maranam

I don’t know the karma theory but

I am taking birth, again and again, in the same place where I had died

My body dissolved in this land

And became the Ganga Sindh plain

When my eyeballs melted as tears

Perennial rivers flowed across this country

When my veins spurted minerals

This land became green and showered wealth

I was Shambhuka in the Treta Yuga

Twenty two years ago, my name was Kanchikacherla Kotesu

My place of birth is Kilvenmani, Karamchedu, Neerukonda

Now Chunduru is the name that cold-blooded feudal brutality

Has tattooed on my heart with ploughshares

From now on, Chunduru is not a noun but a pronoun

Now every heart is a Chunduru, a burning tumour

I am the wound of multitudes, the multitude of wounds

For generations, an unfree individual in a free country

Having been the target

Of humiliations, atrocities, rapes and torture

I am someone raising his head for a fistful of self-respect

In this nation of casteist bigots blinded by wealth

I am someone who lives to register life itself as a protest

I am someone who dies repeatedly to live

Don’t call me a victim

I am an immortal, I am an immortal, I am an immortal

I am the poison throated one

Who swallowed the famine so that the world may have wealth

I am the sunrise standing on its head

It was I who kicked the Sun on the head

To make him stand erect

I am the one stoking slogans in my flaming heart’s furnace

I don’t need words of sympathy or tears of pity

I’m not a victim, I’m an immortal

I am the fluttering flag of defiance

Don’t shed tears for me

If you can

Bury me in the middle of the city

I’ll bloom as the bamboo grove that sings the melody of life

Print my corpse as this nation’s cover

I’ll spread as a beautiful future into the pages of history

Invite me into your hearts

I’ll become a tussle of conflagrations

And rise again and again in this land.

Kalekuri Prasad‘s Telugu poem ‘piDikeDu aatmagauravam kOsam‘ (from the collection of poetry ‘daLita kavitvam- 2‘ ; originally published in another collection ‘manDutunna chunDuuru‘). Translated by Naren Bedide.

From The Shared Mirror

maintained by the state (VII: 133)

It is clear therefore that the motive of the priests in forming an exclusive caste was not any consideration of a religious or spiritual or racial nature but one of sheer greed for wealth, women and wine. The ridiculous extent to which they went on advocating their own unimpeachable divine greatness even so late as 100 A.D. may be seen in the Manu Smriti:-

“A brahman is born to fulfill dharma. Whatever exists in this world is the property of the brahman. On account of the excellence of his origin, he is entitled to all. The brahman eats but his own food, wears his own clothes. All mortals subsists through the benevolence of the brahman.”

” Let a brahman be ignorant or learned, still he is a great deity. To brahman, the three worlds and the gods owe their existence. Thus though brahmans employ themselves in all mean occupations they must be honored in everyway, for each of them is a great deity.”

” Let the king after rising early in the morning worship brahmans who are well versed in the threefold sacred sciences and learned in policy and accept their advice.” (Laws of Manu, VII 37).

“brahman is the root of scared law. By his origin alone he is deity even for the gods and his word is authoritative for men.” (XI, 85) in (S.V. Ketkar, 1975:165).

“When a learned brahman has found treasure deposited in former times he may take even the whole of it, for he is the master of everything. When a king finds treasure of old concealed in the ground, let him give one-half to brahmans and place the other half in his treasury” (VIII:35,39).

” brahmans should not be taxed and should be maintained by the state” (VII: 133)

this extract is from the book Dharmatheertha, No Freedom with Caste, The Menace of Hindu Imperialism. edited by  G. Aloysius.

reading these laws is making me want to commission a playwright to write a play. wonder which actor will be able to deliver these lines with the same intent that manu meant and ensured its enactment,  that too,  forever?

” brahmans should not be taxed and should be maintained by the state” (VII: 133)”


the most important lesson i have learned from anti-caste writings is that caste can only be dismantled by reason, which is a tough job, when you have manu’s smriti deeply engraved into the indian psyche.

caste oppression has been resisted by millions of people, both in words and deeds, people whose names will remain unknown to history.  anti-caste radicals and thinkers like phule and ambedkar have used their fierce intellect to cause ruptures in this ancient, unreasonable social order. in this long struggle we have had little or no international help in our battle for equality, so far.  and now,  a male-brit-author comes along in 2011 with a book on India, and in an interview he has claimed:

Caste can be substantiated through genetics,” French said, citing a slice of genetic history that he gathered in course of researching his new book, “India: A Portrait“, released at a packed British Council here Wednesday evening.

where does one begin with this kind of nonsense? his subsequent statements indicate the opposite, as it should. did he mean to say “caste can be unsubstantiated by genetics”? anyway, if there is any research based evidence to this absurd announcement, i would only see it as an insidious reermergence of social darwinsim.

a friend assures me that the  brahman who mans all the decision making bodies of academe will never use reason to substantiate caste, they will always appeal to and control the dharma-karma ‘reasoning’ to substantiate caste. i agree, but i am also worried. worried that people are going to aggravate me enough to make me stop working on my research grant and take time out to write a paper on caste and genes and stuff like that. what an absurd waste of time that would be, use the precious few hours i get for activism towards shooting down retrograde ideas such as brahmin genes! wonder if the celebrated author would interview  EMBL scientists  and write an article titled  ‘A royal in your genes’? or ‘A mine worker in your genes’?  if i wasn’t plagued by the sensation that some dalits are going to be playing ball with such retrogressive agents, i would laugh this off.

about the IGIB institute itself i have no worry, the enterprise of science is such that it cannot sell dharma-karma reasoning to the world, and modern science, whether one likes it or not, is global.  these days even a high school graduate will not look for a biological basis in a social category like caste, so there is no question of such nonsense gracing science journals .  it is the popular media that can be played around with, as there is zero capacity to handle science communication in india, and since the system of peer review is not applied there, it is back to dharma-karma along with a random mix of scientific verbiage being dished out.  before i forget to write  the reason for combining a post on Dharmatheertha’s  incisive observations on caste and a white man’s ridiculous observations on the same, please read his interaction with a scientist at IGIB:

It seems like a lot of Bengalis work here,” I said. Dr Mukhopadhyay smiled. “I am a native of Calcutta. If a job is advertised, seven out of ten applicants are Bengali. Some say, “Ah, Bengalis are more clever because they eat a lot of fish and get omega-acids.” I tell them: it’s not like that, clever Bengalis go to academia and clever north Indians go to commerce.

and where do the rest of the indians go? they, will have to read manu’s smritis for an explanation of their exclusion from such cerebral pursuits as figuring out imprints of cultural practices in the genome. we nod sagely that at IGIB like elsewhere ” brahmans should not be taxed and should be maintained by the state” (VII: 133)”


note: dharmatheertha, was an anti-caste intellectual from Kerala. in the 1940s’ he issued a call for the reconstruction of a casteless society. he wrote the The Menace of the Hindu Imperialism while residing at Edla Ramdas Ashram in Rajamundry in a span of seven months.  about him, aloysius writes: “……..finally the composition of the erudite but none-the-less highly impassioned text, all these seems to have compounded within him a deep sense of frustration and the near-impossibility of any significant Hindu reform, not to speak of abolition of caste.” i find aloysius’s own writings very erudite and if he is using that term, it must have been a tough text to edit.

The Refugee (an excerpt)

‘Go away from here, my son.’

That a mother should say this to her son! It was impossible to beleive. No one would have beleived if he had told them. He was haunted by a rising swarm of thoughts. Again and again, he searched within himself for an answer. That the mother who brought him into this world should say to him, ‘Go away!’ He just couldn’t bear it. He staggered like a blind man whose support had suddenly been taken away. Today, on account of his quick temper, he had to sever himself from his relations. Every part of the road looked as lifeless as stone to him. He was trembling, trying to walk steadily. How often he felt like turning and looking back! But his stubborn mind would not let him. His father was not his father any more, nor was his village his village; and the mother who gave him birth couldn’t call him her son any more. His mind burned with the thought. All of them were alien to him. He was an outsider among them  -an orphan! Why should he turn back?


And here I am, a citizen of this country! A woman in a village drew water from the well of the high-caste, so they beat her up. They ordered all the Mahars to empty the well. A young man like me trying to break out of this casteism couldn’t stand all that. I resisted. The whole village was furious. They beat up the Mahars as they do their beasts. They stopped giving them work, they wouldn’t allow them water, food -just because they were untouchables. They told me to beg forgiveness, to grovel and prostrate myself before them, confessing my wrong doing. Or else, they threatened to burn the entire Mahar settlement. Just because we are untouchables! I argued, I protested – for my rights. But my own mother -she took my younger brother in her lap, and touched my feet, her own son’s feet, and said, ‘Don’t do this,’ and finally told me , ‘My son, go away from here!’ A mother tells her own son to leave the village -she is reduced to such wretchedness, only on acount of caste and custom. And the boy has to leave the village. The whole scene came alive again before his eyes. On one side there was Bangladesh in turmoil and on the other, the community of Mahars, in agony. One homeless Bangladeshi was going back to his relations after twenty years. And one Mahar, even after twenty years, was homeless in his own country.

Short story by Avinash Dolas, translated by Y.S. Kalamkar, in Poisoned Bread, Marathi Dalit Literature.

hammers, wires, chips

In the words and images of the dalit woman lies the untold histories of anti-caste struggles, resistance, strength and intelligence in surviving odds which few other humans experience. That she survives is not the marker, that she dreams and works for a better life, for herself and her offsprings despite and against the storm of negative forces -is the celebration of her fighting spirit. She is pitted against all institutions like an alien individual, who has to first make herself visible to the unseeing eye, state her rights to the deaf ears and keep up a sustained battle with the institution, for it to deliver -be it education, law, health, housing or any other. The dalit woman rag picker, the flower seller, the stone quarry worker, the construction laborer, the sex worker, the panchayat leader or the urban homemaker are all bound by one single dream -a dignified living. They all dream of a world that treats their children better than it does them. They have a vision of an egalitarian tomorrow.

This vast democracy, its policies on education, its long line of thinkers and educators have only this to offer the dalit women -lowest literacy rates. Thus, a large chunk of dalit women’s articulation is accessible only in the oral form. A form that is so easy to ignore, so very easy to step in and be her interpreter, become her ‘saviour’. And proceed to develop one sided theories on her victimhood, secure in the knowing that she is not going to challenge its content from the same platforms. These theories inform policy formulation without the dalit woman’s actual participation in it. Policies are put in place for her, like she is a commodity to be managed, controlled and pacified for a short time, when the world proceeds conducting its other important businesses of keeping things normal for the ruling classes. To wait for institutional education to empower her, means a wait of several generations, which in turn will increase the lag between upper caste Indian women and dalit women, which also means accumulation of several more entangled policies, that would require the dalit woman to unentangle. This takes away enormous amount of her energy which could be better used towards her community’s needs.

Both, the ignoring and misinterpretation of her words and actions has to be tackled simultaneously. This trampeling of her articulation has to change and it has to change fast.

When I discard institutions for their snail like pace in responding to her articulation, what alternatives are there?

Technology? Technology that readily and faithfully records and transcribes the dalit woman’s articulation against exploitation and engraves her direct demands for a better society –without mediation by others. Wondering how…..

Photo courtesy Jitendra Kumar Jatav’s album, Faces.

The Caste Question –Interview with Anupama Rao

[did this post for Insight, liked the book in parts and enjoyed framing the questions, the chapters on caste-gender were interesting, I usually am unable to read the shallow way this topic is dealt with in few other books, but still it remains an under-explored area]

This email Interview with Anupama Rao is largely about her new book, The Caste Question: Dalits and The Politics of Modern India. Anupama Rao is an Associate Professor of South Asian History at Barnard College, New York.

Anu: Anupama, looking at the body of your work it would be easy to refer to you as a caste historian. Can you please give a background to why you chose to pursue this area of research?

AR: Certainly. Let me answer this question by connecting my personal background to a brief intellectual autobiography.

I was introduced to African-American life and literature, and to pan-Africanism, and remember going to visit what is now the Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago to read the literary and political works of the Harlem Renaissance.

I saw that powerful words were born from painful experiences, and that though the experience of social exclusion was painful, it also gave rise to powerful and potent forms of resistant thought and action. This influenced my decision some years later to study Maharashtra, a place of distant (if ancestral) belonging, but also a region of the sub-continent associated with upper-caste progressivism, and radical anti-caste protest.

By then, I had been exposed to postcolonial theory and colonial critique at the University of Chicago and later, at the University of Michigan, where a profound rethinking of the historical anthropology of South Asia was underway. My participation in a feminist reading group together with exposure to the aggressively masculine cultures of debate and discussion at Chicago, had alerted me to the necessity of gender analysis. Continue reading

Awwal Kalima

You won’t believe us

but no one’s talking about our problems

now, again, it’s the tenth or eleventh generation scions

of those who lost glories

who are speaking for all of us.

Is this what they call the  loot of experience?!

In reality, Nawab, Muslim, Saaheb, Turk-

whoever’s called by those names belongs to those classes-

those who lost power, jagirs, nawabi and patel splendours

they have retained, at least, traces of those honours

while our lives have always been caged between our limbs and our bellies.

We never had anything to save.

What would we have to recount….?

We who called our mothers ‘amma’

never knew she was to be called ‘Ammijaan’. Continue reading