What does Dr.Ambedkar say about the Bhagvat Gita?

As the court in the Siberian town of Tomsk deliberates on whether the Bhagvat Gita is 'extremist' literature, the Indian government and parliament seem to have forgotten their own sanctimonious injunction of 'non-inteference in the internal affairs of other countries' (used traditionally to defend such obnoxious pratices as 'untouchability' and 'caste discrimination') to pressurise the Russian goverment to subvert due legal process and somehow persuade the Tomskians to find the Gita non-extremist. And as expected, Indian mainstream media, which has often gone to extreme lengths to protect its exclusive upper caste character, is now going into an overdrive finding men and mantras to defend the Gita. But what was not expected was certain views of Dr.Ambedkar, quoted out of context, being cited to defend, obliquely, the philosophy of the Gita, in at least one popular internet magazine. Which is very disturbing, considering Dr.Ambedkar had clearly called the Gita 'counter-revolutionary'. It is also worth noting that it is the same magazine which had earlier tried to label Dr.Ambedkar's economic philosophy as monetarist, and as supporting free markets.  
What does Dr.Ambedkar say about the Bhagvat Gita?
please read the rest of the article here, at round table india. 


why do people go to doon school or st.stephens?

because they won't go to any other school. just the way swaminathan aiyar says the rich won't buy wheat atta mixed with soya. it's called self-targeting, as he explains, and is the best way to ensure the poor get the necessary nutrition, according to him. because:
Clearly, only non-hungry people will prefer quality over quantity.
the poor, clearly, have no taste.

and rice, quality again, should be replaced with coarse grains like jowar or bajra, because rice offers an incentive for 'massive diversion through the pds', because it is an expensive cereal and black marketers who have no respect for taste would siphon it away before it reaches the fair price shops. will jean dreze and amartya sen agree with aiyar on replacing rice with jowar, bajra?

that's the stage the debate on food security in india had reached as of september 2010 when aiyar wrote the linked article: aiyar seems ok with dreze on not targeting beneficiaries. the brahminical right agreeing with the brahminical left. the tasteless poor should rejoice, i think.

but the black marketers, as i pointed out earlier, have no respect for taste, or caste. and i am sure they won't ever get the momentousness of aiyar agreeing with dreze, and will not pause to reflect on their misdeeds or renounce their ways. subsidised rice or jowar or bajra-- there'll always be enough buyers who can't resist the temptation to grab a significant portion of the grain before it reaches the fair price shops or the ultimate consumers. the yawning gap between the price of grain at the fair price shop and the market will always ensure that.

and now, there's not much point in clamping down on the food black market or whatever the food bandits are called. after the andhra pradesh govt announced the rs.1 per kg rice scheme a few weeks ago, a lot of pds rice (or a lot more) started getting diverted to liquor distilleries, according to news reports. the liquor producers now find the subsidised rice much cheaper than maize. and subsidised jowar or bajra would be equally welcome in distilleries. and the ethanol producers would also be waiting, i'm sure, somewhere around the corner of the busy street leading to the fair price shop.

the doon school or st.stephens etc were not self-targeted at the wise: people like swaminathan aiyar went there because they had the money, or the social capital. neither translates to wisdom, or taste, automatically. so the poor, which means low caste automatically in india, need money or social capital, which means caste most times, not jowar or bajra or rice. because jowar or bajra or rice are self-targeted at money and caste here.

so what does it all boil down to, this debate on food security which seems to engage diverse, and seemingly antagonistic, political sections of savarna society? it means aiyar won't part with any part of his caste, which in turn means the vaishya-like black marketers won't stop yielding to temptations in order to make life easier for the less fortunate shudra sections of society;  and dreze will not (let the government) part with any money, which means the shudras will have to continue to remain powerless, stupid and hungry in a market driven by money. food security is the new big farce playing in town.


lessons from paramakudi for telangana

does anyone seriously believe that the telangana agitators now pleading/begging/cringing before the congress brass in delhi are liberators? do they seem to be upholding telangani self-respect? or that they care about decentralization?

their actions disprove all three claims.

why do all those valiant 'revolutionaries' from telangana seem like so many unctuous petitioners outside a high powered public official's office? because they are exactly that: petitioners seeking recognition.

this is no revolution. it's something that has happened many times in the past, across many regions.

every major state in india has 100-300 castes. at the top of this pyramid are around 10 castes, on an average, who are always over-represented in the houses of legislature, judiciary, bureaucracy, media, education and academia, industry, trade, cinema etc. their presence in all those fields helps them dominate the field of culture and ideas too. all the rest are under-represented in all fields.

in the north, castes identified with the top three varnas are a natural part of the top layer of the pyramid. other castes like the kayasths, khatris, jats etc had to fight for a place in those top ten. and colonialism helped them, through building more democratic public institutions and providing them employment in the bureaucracy and the army. after independence, a few more upper obc castes joined the empty spots in the top ten, and are still trying to consolidate their position. though they've managed to increase their presence in houses of legislature, they haven't been able to make much strides in other fields. meaning: they're under-represented in all other fields associated with wealth and power and hence still sound very subaltern. the continuing hold of the yadavs and nitish kumar on large sections of people in those states is proof of this.

outside the north, or u.p-bihar specifically, the top three varnas are sparsely distributed, so it's the shudras who form a overwhelming majority of the top ten. the three states where the british had presidency towns, witnessed a quicker spread of education among the shudras which led to the first major non-brahmin assertion movements. the top ten spots were quickly filled in tamil nadu by the time the dmk first assumed power, the marathas, kunbis and other associated peasant castes who form more than one third of the population in maharashtra also managed to fill all spots in that state.

this process was as fast in some princely states like mysore and baroda etc, but much slower in hyderabad state. so slow that it is happening only now in telangana, one century late. almost.

the rise of all those shudra castes-- from jats to gounders to nadars to ezhavas to kammas to vokkaligas to yadavs -- were revolutionary movements too. but they failed to fulfill their promises because the pyramid democratized itself a little at the top, partly in response to their struggles, co-opted them, and managed to retain its character. moreover, it had managed to increase the number of loyal defenders guarding it, more sentries to pour hot oil on those wishing to ascend to the top, or even bring down the pyramid.

now this process of efforts to expand the top layer of the pyramid, to create the top ten spots, is happening in telangana. the elite in telangana, which was only brahmins, reddies and velamas for too long (the muslims having been dislodged by 'independence'), wants to consolidate its own position, expand its influence outside politics, agriculture and government. even in those three fields it feels severely constrained by the stronger position of the much advanced andhra elite. so it's come around to  making a little space for a new set of aspirants among the obcs-- the goudas, munnuru kapus, yadavs especially-- who had risen since the emergence of the telugu desam, so that they could help in its struggle with the andhra elite.

more than a year ago, someone had asked me: why do you oppose this process? if it accommodates a new set of players, even if very few, at the top, doesn't it mean one more progressive step towards democratization of society?

that's the problem with the pyramid. it seems to be expanding its top layer a little, but that's always an illusion. it's only responding to changes in population growth, which has been higher in the last one century than any other time in history.

one reason why i want andhra pradesh to remain united: it'll keep the elites of all regions, and new aspirants,  always engaged in a struggle with each other. that would open up more cracks in the pyramid.

but the major reason is that the assertion movements of ambitious shudra castes until now have only meant the rise of those castes, a strengthening of the elite and the caste order. caste assertion movements have been anti-caste only in initial stages and have inevitably become caste-reinforcing movements.

and the expansion of the elite club has also, inevitably, meant more atrocities on the dalits, adivasis and the religious minorities.

paramakudi has strengthened my convictions.     


The angry young man wasn't an outcaste

a revised version of an old post was published at the round table india:

'I am not a believer in the caste system' says Amitabh Bachchan. This is not the first time that he has repudiated caste. He had spoken out against the caste census earlier when he said his caste was 'Indian'. It is another matter that the Kayasthas aren't willing to let go of him.

Has the 'angry young man' mellowed down? Wasn't he the rebel who consistently fought against injustice and exploitation from his earliest films? One could be accused of conflating the two, his screen persona and his real life personality, and trying to make the latter, reality, to stand up for the former, fiction. But this article tries to argue that there isn't much difference between the angry young man of a few decades ago and the seemingly mellow old man, the real Bachchan of now. Both stand for a conservative social order, for caste.

The mistake that we make when we speak of the 'angry young man' as an underdog, is the same as the one the planning commission makes when it seeks to find marginalization only below the ever inaccurate poverty line. In most senses except one, poverty, the angry young man wasn't an underdog.

please read the rest here


good taste, 'bad woman'

she'd congratulate folks who wished to give her an award on exhibiting such good taste .when a big studio owner tried to bully her into going down on her knees and begging for compassion and forgiveness for appearing a few minutes late on the sets.. she did what some future chief ministers would never dream of doing..she walked out of the sets and the film and the studio. and built her own studio and made her own films and bullied her own ex-'heroes'. and also wrote stories in which saases and bahus were best pals.

a 5 year old draft written in bhanumathi's memory.


why bant singh can't go to rahul pandita

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 of Saraswati'[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 astronomy, metaphysics, 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 of Chera 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.

if i ever tell a non-indian that my people studied astronomy, metaphysics and medicine ages ago, i'd be lying. because it was the saraswats who studied astronomy, metaphysics and medicine. so i have to make sure no brahmins, saraswats especially, are around when i tell non-indians that my people studied astronomy, metaphysics and medicine. but a lie is a lie and as long as that page, and less crude but similar pages exist in many forms, i can never really be proud of the fact that 'indians' were smart enough to explore astronomy etc a thousand or more years ago. not as long as some 'indians' claim that they're brahmins.

they say the chinese first started making rockets, or something like rockets. it's quite possible a chinese nobleman first made it. but now, any chinese soldier or hawker or sex worker or scientist or film star could proudly say: we invented rockets. because there is no single endogamous group of people in china who could say: my forefathers invented rockets. so everyone is free to claim that glory.

when someone explicitly tells the world he's a brahmin, like the writers of those two pages, he's claiming a lot of history for himself. a history filled with 'glorious achievements'. you might have problems with the authenticity or incompleteness of that history, but there's very little you can do about it. the problem is, a lot of history attaches itself even to those who don't explicitly tell the world that they're brahmin. a lot of history attaches itself to all brahmins, as long as they're brahmins, in whatever fashion, for the simple reason that indian history doesn't have much space for anyone else.

the reason why indian history sounds so much like a bad zombie movie in which the characters seemingly incapable of any voluntary, conscious action so smartly and purposefully keep cornering the conscious, hyperactive ones, is because it implicitly makes the claim that those mostly unconnected with any production produced all of indian science, astronomy, medicine etc. indian history reads so much like mythology because those claiming its 'glorious achievements' as their own have no idea whatsoever how those achievements were accomplished-- it's obvious that they know only a part of the story, so they add a lot of mumbo jumbo to complete it, to obfuscate the dalitbahujan contributions. indian history is such a colossal crime because by depriving the dalitbahujans of any past, it steals their future too.

as long as the brahmins, as brahmins, are around, and in very large numbers, in academia and other places that produce history-- it'd be very difficult to find anything resembling objective history in that kind of an environment. no, i have no problems with people whose forefathers might have been brahmins filling all available seats in universities with their..behinds.

but as long as people who can trace their ancestry back to the nambudiris or saraswats are around, i might as well give up thinking that i can produce something of value, because indian history tells me i'm totally incapable of producing anything of any value. only the brahmin can.

but mr.dipankar gupta would object to that kind of a caste sneer:
Only recently, a newspaper article, while discussing Narayana Murthy’s inept attempts to wriggle out of his faux pas with the national anthem episode, calmly added without context that one cannot expect much from a Brahmin after all. Now where did that come from? As if to explain further, the journalist went on to remind the readers that Narayana Murthy, the Brahmin, as a Brahmin, also opposed reservation quotas. This is clearly a caste sneer!
yes, that clearly is a caste sneer, because it attributes a negative trait to all brahmins. gupta is trying to say that the journalist accused narayana muthy, the brahmin, of acting as a brahmin. can the word brahmin be sanitized of its history, and of its sociology? can a person just be a brahmin, just as someone can be tall, fat or dark? can someone be a brahmin and not be acting as a brahmin?

isn't the very claim to be a brahmin, a claim on an exclusive right to a long line of 'super-achievements', also an act of consigning almost everyone else to an history of 'non-achievement'? isn't that a caste sneer, in a way?


i started on this post nearly two years ago-- don't know if all the links work now. but its logic still seems ok to me, and i feel more confident of that theory today, after reading this article by rahul pandita. he says:
As a Brahmin, does it make me less sensitive to the plight of the poor or the marginalised? Why is it such a big deal that I can wear my Janeu, recite my Hanuman Chalisa, and yet go to Bant Singh’s house in Bhurj Jabbar, thirstily gulp down a few glasses of water, and tell his story? Where is the contradiction?
yes, why is it such a big deal that he wears a janeu etc? i don't believe the practice of rituals etc make a brahmin. so giving them up won't make one less of a brahmin, either, in my view.

the big deal is that bant singh can't just get up and go meet rahul pandita in delhi or mumbai or wherever he lives, gulp down a few glasses of water, and tell his story. bant singh was attacked because he wanted to do exactly what rahul pandita does. get up and go do the things he wanted to do.

the big deal is that rahul pandita has the freedom to do so and bant singh doesn't.

if you say bant singh lost his freedom of movement because of the line of work he chose to do-- organizing farm labour-- you'd be wrong because he didn't have much freedom of choice to begin with. history had seen to that. now rahul pandita, despite being forced out of home 'at the age of 14', seems to have done quite well for himself. that's the contradiction.

when rahul pandita says he's a brahmin, he's making a claim on a lot of indian history. when bant singh rebels against his present, he is also rejecting pandita's history, his claim on privilege. if pandita doesn't see that, he shouldn't have undertaken the trip to bant singh's home. 


jayashankar, mythmaker

We have created our myth. The myth is a faith, it is passion. It is not necessary that it shall be a reality. It is a reality by the fact that it is a good, a hope, a faith, that it is courage. Our myth is the Nation, our myth is the greatness of the Nation! And to this myth, to this grandeur, that we wish to translate into a complete reality, we subordinate all the rest.
that was benito mussolini on myth.

jayashankar liked to say: i think in urdu, write in english and speak in telugu. all the the feudal elite of hyderabad state before independence could also have described themselves in that fashion. the top 5% of the people who prospered and were entitled to many privileges while the rest weren't worth even primary education in their own language. telugu, the people's language, therefore, held that kind of relevance for him-- a language you used to communicate with the lower classes, to tell them they need to know little other than to serve. not a language for the expression of high thought. and he always knew better than the people-- even when the people's representatives overwhelmingly voted for a united state for the telugus, he knew that the majority, which in his view consisted of himself and a reactionary, minuscule minority comprising a few feudal elements, were not in favour of andhra pradesh.

his politics completely derailed the process of evolution of dalitbahujan consciousness and politics for the last decade and more in andhra pradesh. when the dalitbahujans should have been asking for their own rights-- their stolen entitlements, jobs, resources and share in political power-- he appropriated their angst and converted it into a fictitious regional divide.

he brought back the forces of hindu nationalism and savarna casteism into telugu politics.he trivialized people's aspirations for greater decentralization and democracy. he leaves behind a political legacy that upholds retrograde myths over facts, lumpen muscle over dissent and democracy.


no mantras or miracles will work here

had started on this draft in march 2010:

here, at the Indian Farmers' website, you'll find this article (word document): 'Status Paper on Rice'. on page 13 and 14, you'll find a detailed breakdown of all the costs involved in producing rice. and the concluding part says:

(a) Cost of cultivation per acre Rs. 25000/-
(b) Average yield of paddy per acre is 25 quintals (35 bags)
(c) Cost of cultivation per Quintal (Rs. 25000¬ /25) = Rs. 1000/-
(d) MSP fixed for paddy per quintal is Rs. 745 (for the year 2007-08)
(e) Total gross income (Rs.745 X 25 quintals) =Rs.18,625/-
(f) Estimated loss per acre to the farmer (Rs.25,000 – Rs.18,625/-) = Rs 6,375/-(g) MSP to be fixed as per Prof. M.S. Swaminathan Commission
recommendation should be Rs.1,500 per quintal (Cost of cultivation + add minimum 50% of cost of cultivation i.e. Rs.1000+500=Rs.1,500)
those are average costs for producing rice across andhra pradesh in the year 2008-09. also note that the m.s.swaminathan commission's recommendation for increasing the minimum support price upto rs.1500 (or, Cost of cultivation + add minimum 50% of cost of cultivation), made in 2007, has not been adopted until now.

illusory potential

1) the m.s.p. for rice in the current year is rs. 950 for common variety and rs.980 for higher grade plus an 'incentive bonus' of rs.50 (which is temporary and could be withdrawn next year). so how much could a farmer producing 25 quintals an acre, earn per acre now? nothing. the costs (rs.25,000 per acre) would equal the returns (rs.1,000 x 25 quintals). which means the majority (60% of all farmers) of farmers in the state of andhra pradesh, or the marginal farmers (average landholding size: around an acre), would earn nothing.

2) less than 20% of farmers in andhra pradesh own 3.5 acres or more each. and those are 1995-96 estimates when average landholding size was 1.36 hectares, or 3.35 acres. in 2005-06, it was 1.20 hectares or 2.96 acres. the average income of the average paddy farmer* now would be around zero, if the m.s.p., remains at around rs.1,000 (at an average productivity rate of 25 quintals an acre), because the costs (rs. 25,000 per acre x 2.96 or 3 acres) would equal the returns (rs. 1,000 per quintal x 25 quintals per acre x 3 acres).

3) what if the m.s.p were increased to rs. 1,500? the average paddy farmer with a landholding of 2.96 acres would make around (rs. 1,500 per quintal x 25 quintals per acre x 3 acres) rs. 1,12,500 which would yield him a net income of (rs. 1,12, 500 minus costs of rs.75,000) of rs. 37, 500. the per capita income of his family members (assuming a family size of 5) would be around rs. 7,500, or less than one-third the per capita income of rs. 23,729 (in 2004-05, at current prices) of the state.

4) who would benefit if support prices are increased to the level suggested by swaminathan? less than 6% of the state's paddy farmers, or those who own more than 10 acres each. each farmer who owns more than 10 acres, would earn an income of around rs. 1,25,000 (rs.37,500 per acre x 10 acres minus costs of rs.25,000 per acre x 10 acres). the per capita income in his family would be around rs.25,000 or slightly more than the state average.

5) how about the majority, or the marginal farmers? the marginal paddy farmer would make around rs.37,500 (rs.1,500 per quintal x 25 quintals) and earn an income rs. 12,500 (rs. 37,500 minus costs of rs. 25,000 an acre). that means per capita income of each member of his family will be rs. 2,500, or slightly more than one-tenth the per capita income in the state.

6) what if every paddy farmer in the state managed to double the yield: from 25 quintals an acre to 50 quintals an acre? let's assume he doesn't have to incur any new capital costs and input costs to increase the yield by such magnitude, and he's able to manage the feat by sheer good luck. how much will the marginal farmer be able to make in the new scenario? his income from each acre will be (rs.1,500 x 50 quintals = rs.75,000 minus costs of rs 25,000= 50,000). which means per capita incomes in his family would be less than half the state average. how much will the average paddy farmer (landholding: 2.96 or 3 acres) make? rs.1,50,000 (rs. 1,500 per quintal x 50 quintals per acre x 3 acres minus costs of rs. 25,000 per acre x 3 acres). which means per capita income of his family would rise above the state average by around 25%.

but that would depend on three miracles happening simultaneously:

ii) average yield per acre going up by more than 100% in one year. average annual growth rate in yield in the past four decades has been much lower than 2%

iii) there would be no need for fresh capital investment and also no increase in input costs.

even if all those three miracles do happen, simultaneously, over 60% of the farmers in the state (the marginal farmers) would still earn incomes of around rs.50,000 which would still mean per capita incomes in their families would still be less than half the state average. and the small farmers, another 20%, would be earning significantly more. the medium farmers, another 15%, would be doing even better. which means 60% of the paddy farmers in andhra pradesh wouldn't benefit much even from the miraculous scenario which offers i) a 50% increase in minimum support prices immediately and ii) doubling of yields iii) and a zero percent increase in input costs.

is there really a point in further speculating on what would the farmers earn if the minimum support prices were doubled to rs.2,000?

as i mentioned earlier, i wrote that draft over an year ago. now, minimum support prices have gone up slightly: rs.1,030 for grade 'a' variety and rs.1,000 for other varieties. which means the conclusions i'd drawn on all the  6 scenarios presented still hold true. and only scenarios (1) and (2) reflect the current reality as you know. (3), (4), (5) and (6) represent hypothetical scenarios. pipe-dreams which rest on miracles.

there are a couple of things one needs to know to understand how these farmers survive if the returns are so low or non-existent: the total estimate of costs listed in the status paper also includes a 'land lease' component: rs.7,000 for an acre. this is what the owner-cultivator would save, but the tenant farmer would be deprived even of that. also, a certain percentage of the farmers also go in for a second crop. but that wouldn't make a great difference in their incomes, i think, because most of the costs would have to be incurred again.

the high priests of 'food security' aren't thinking about all that i guess. as i said in my previous post, there seems to be a strong belief among them that these are manageable problems. that a few wise interventions like increasing support prices, subsidies and agricultural extension etc would improve productivity, which is a primary concern for them, and also somehow give the farmer greater returns.. from sainath to jayathi ghosh, everyone's been reeling out those mantras. but the stupid shudras have a saying: mantraalaku chintakaayalu raalavu. which means, roughly: the tamarind tree wouldn't shed its fruits for mantras.

from swaminathan to sainath, they've been spouting these mantras for many years now. i don't doubt their sympathy for the farmers. but i'm convinced, seven years after the congress was re-elected promising succour for the farmers (one of its main election planks) and seven more years of unabated chanting of mantras, that they probably think of the farmer as some kind of a lifeless cog in a vast system of machinery that's not working as per their grand designs. the cog's problems matter only so far as they affect the working of the machinery.

lastly, according to some latest observations in the media, the costs of cultivating each acre have gone upto rs.30,000. even if all those estimates are wrong by even a significant percentage, say 20 or 30 or even 50, i don't see how it will change that overall inexorable reality. 


sonia's gang of genocidal kautilyas

Despite producing of 22 per cent wheat , 12 per cent rice and 13 per cent cotton of the country’s total , the Punjab agriculture is in serious crisis that have pushed 90 per cent farm households under debt, mounting to whooping Rs 26,000 crore said Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) Vice Chancellor MS Kang. Inaugurating two-day seminar on “Punjab Economy: Performance and Challenges” organized by the Department of Economics at the university campus, Dr Kang said the farm production is of optimum level as the state shares less than 2 per cent of the total cultivable land of the country.
Moreover, the total value of farm produce per annum from the state has down to Rs 22695 crore now from Rs 26000 crore in 1994-95, he said adding the pauperization of farm families has led migration of farmers which now touches one lakh hands. The farm income per hectare has come down because produce prices announced by the Central government as Minimum Support Price (MSP) increased on average by one per cent while the prices of inputs rose by 3.5 per cent. And, the growth rate of agriculture Punjab, registered at 10 per cent in 1980s has come down to mere 1.2 per cent now and soil got fatigued and sick requiring more does of fertilizers, pesticides and other inputs to achieve the same level of production. [emphasis mine].

that's a march 2009 news story from the punjab university news bulletin .

despite producing more every year, the punjab farmer earns less every year. his costs go up every year, and so do his debts. and the suicides keep increasing.

from 1988 to 2006, according to a non-profit organization called the Movement Against State Repression (MASR), around 40,000 farmers have committed suicide. and that's only an estimate based on research done in some districts of punjab. around 2009, each farmer in punjab owed a debt of over rs.40,000, on an average, to institutional and other lenders. and every one of them would have incurred more debt in the past three years because the value of his produce has been going down, steadily, over two decades, at least.

now, he's being asked to borrow some more money to pay for the food security bill.

because punjab's the biggest source of surpluses for the indian state, the punjabi farmer would again be enticed with the promise of more procurement. though that would mean assured sales to an extent, looking more closely one would realize that with procurement prices growing at the spectacular rate of 1% per year on an average, it would only mean more losses for him in the end, when the growth in prices is measured against the general rate of inflation. as the banks have already shut their tijoris tight, he'd have to borrow more from informal lenders, incurring more costs..and so on.

and the funniest part is that the savarna/civil society activists promoting the food security bill have been closely associated with the sainath kind of 'liberals' who, while making jetsetting careers out of suicides, have been trivializing the crisis by bruiting around the idea that everything would be alright if only the govt subsidizes inputs a bit more, pushes the banks a little more, doles out a little more for procurement etc. have they really looked at the scale of the problem? the total debt burden on the punjabi farmers in 2009 was nearly 20% more than the total yearly output of all of them put together. now it'd have gone up much more. the more the farmer produces, the less he makes, and the more he slides into debt. because oversupply pushes prices down and wipes away all gains from lower costs. that's been the trend since the mid 80s when the suicides started in punjab.

by asking him to pay more for this new, enhanced 'food security' formula, sonia gandhi's brahminized gang of advisers are pushing more punjabi farmers towards suicide.


right to overrule

The "Right to Food Campaign" is an informal network of organisations and individuals committed to the realisation of the right to food in India. We consider that everyone has a fundamental right to be free from hunger and undernutrition. Realising this right requires not only equitable and sustainable food systems, but also entitlements relating to livelihood security such as the right to work, land reform and social security. We consider that the primary responsibility for guaranteeing these entitlements rests with the state. Lack of financial resources cannot be accepted as an excuse for abdicating this responsibility. In the present context, where people's basic needs are not a political priority, state intervention itself depends on effective popular organisation. We are committed to fostering this process through all democratic means. [emphasis mine]
that's the foundation statement of the right to food campaign.please check the highlighted line again: don't our elections produce 'popular' governments? if elected governments don't represent 'popular' organisations, who does?

the barely concealed contempt for india's politics, democracy and the ordinary indian who considers himself a participant in both can also be noticed in the dazzling rhetoric of other 'right to..' campaigners. indian politics can't handle this serious stuff, so here's what the indian state, through its 'civil', hence neutral and untainted by the filth of politics, bureaucracy needs to do to deliver these 'rights'. in effect, what the campaigners want the state to do is to overrule the the 'politics' of the elected government.   

and they've been succeeding. the nac is filled with these campaigners, and the nac, of course, talks to sonia gandhi more often than the elected government does. and why does the elected government have to consult with sonia gandhi? because sonia gandhi is the party. if she didn't nominate every one of the 'elected' lawmakers (down to panchayat sarpanches and even ward members, sometimes) and if her endorsement wasn't required for the 'election' of the lowliest official in her party across the country, you could have said: the congress is bigger than sonia gandhi.


that was a draft i had worked on 7 months ago. a couple of days ago, i see that sonia gandhi is not just congress party, or the government. she is god. food and consumer affairs minister k.v.thomas says:

“The draft Bill is ready now. I don’t say it is in line with NAC or not. But it is in line with what is in the mind of Madam Sonia Gandhi,” he said.
“The principle of Sonia Gandhi is that every citizen of the country should get legal cover toward a certain quantity of nutritious food, not simply foodgrains,” he shared.
in the 7 months since i started on this post, the priests of civil society have moved much closer to god, through the lokpal coup d'etat, pushing parliament into more 'ineffectiveness'. this current move shows utter contempt for not just parliament, elected through popular vote, but also ignores totally a majority of those who participate in the popular vote-- cultivators and workers. one wonders if god, while nodding her assent to all the sanctimonious mumbo-jumbo her civil society priests were chanting before her, had thought even a little about the answers they didn't have?

* who shall pay for the increased procurement? the fci procures, and if it pays a higher msp to the farmer, the govt will have to dole out a greater amount by way of subsidies to the pds. in balancing these two actions, will the farmer always not get paid less to keep the subsidies lower? or will the msp not be a function of the pds prices, always? should cultivators and workers continue to pay with stagnation and death for the food security of the urban middle classes?
* wheat and rice, the brahmin grains, will drive this increased procurement, as always. what about the farmers who produce less brahminical cereals like jowar, bajra etc?
* will surpluses continue to be procured from 3-4 states? wouldn't that destroy any incentive for food security in the majority of states, like it has done in all these years?
* shouldn't food security be a concern of the states, primarily, regions within the states, and districts within regions and blocks within districts and villages within blocks to be more meaningful?
* rice is a water-guzzler and has taken away a much needed resource from millions and millions of ordinary citizens, especially in northwest india, a region which never produced rice in much quantity before the so-called green revolution.. who will pay for this water, which means thirst, hardship, lack of basic sanitation.. dry toilets and again stagnation, caste and much more?
* there is increased competition among many states to build costly but ineffective irrigation systems to tap water to grow rice and other such crops.. who will pay for all the bad blood among states and regions? for the ecological disasters and the adivasi displacements? does india need more rice, at such heavy costs?

questions. one can think of many more questions, but the priests know better, i guess.  


the death of merit

This documentary is second in the series of our efforts to document caste-based discrimination prevalent in Indian higher education system resulting in large number of suicides of Dalit students in Indian campuses.
It is based on the testimonies of parents and family members of Dr Jaspreet Singh, 22 years, who was a student of Final Year, MBBS at Government Medical College, Chandigarh. He committed suicide on 27th January, 2008, by hanging himself on the 5th floor of his college’s library.
go watch the the testimonies of jaspreet's family and others on how a certain professor, and the indifferent administration of the college, drove him to death.

also watch, in the same post, the earlier documentary on dr.bal mukund bharti of all india institute of medical sciences, delhi, who was hounded by five, not one, casteist professors until his death in march, last year.

or, don't watch. if you don't wish to know that they didn't die of 'academic pressure', 'failed love affairs' or 'depression'. 


linesh mohan gawle

that was his name. google asks whether you meant dinesh mohan gawli? some news sites had chosen that name. most reported the death of linesh mohan gawli.

you'll also find his name in the List of PhD. Applicants Short-listed for Written Test/Interview in SCHOOL OF BIOSCIENCES & BIOENGINEERING of iit bombay (# 203), and also here and a couple of other such lists.

he usually got short-listed. 'scored 98 percent marks in the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) test' as fellow students say. he was very bright, topped classes through his career. he was as meritorious as those who consider themselves the best interpreters of merit. so, what killed him?

when madhuri sale was killed six months ago, i'd started on a post titled 'another murder', but couldn't finish it. here's the draft:
in education, there are two ways of producing 'excellence': giving everyone the best, or picking the 'best' among everyone and giving them the best. 
the second method is something hitler would have wholeheartedly endorsed. he was so big on excellence and purity, as everyone knows, that he was as keen on keeping un-excellence out, or dysgenics, as he was on eugenics, in improving racial stock. 
listen to what nehru had told his chief ministers in 1961: 'I dislike any kind of reservations. If we go in for any kind of reservations on communal and caste basis, we will swamp the bright and able people and remain second rate or third rate. The moment we encourage the second rate, we are lost. This way lies not only folly, but also disaster.' 
swamping 'the bright people' with the 'second rate or third rate' people? definitely not. nehru was as against varna sankara, as you can see, as hitler. 
lost in all this discourse on excellence and merit i will never be able to figure out why a state has to work towards producing the best engineers or best doctors or best international relations graduates. how are those goals different from trying to produce beauty queens? 
that's why i have never understood the need for the iits, or the iims or jnu or any other elitism in education.
being the 'best' could be a personal goal, not the goal of a society. unless the society in question is hitler's germany or nehru's india.

our media, or society, couldn't even get linesh's name right, the first time they wrote about his 'suicide'. and most first news reports about madhuri sale also got her name wrong, as madhuri salve. obviously, india is a society which clings to abstract ideals, like merit and purity, and ignores concrete realities. can it ever really be best in anything hard, cold, real? if there is such a thing as the best, objectively defined, of course. 

so it does the next best thing, always, adopting a winning combination of the two methods described above. it picks a class of people as the 'best' from birth (like 'fascist' hitler) and gives them the best, but makes it seem like the whole process is very democratic by designing a whole environment which weeds out everyone but them, from any contest (a 'socialist' nehru innovation). but when someone like linesh gawle or madhuri sale, people who couldn't even pick decent sanskritic surnames, come along, leaping over all walls and fences into this custom-designed environment, how can the meritorious tell them, openly, that merit is all about caste, and not merit? so they all die, suddenly, of 'depression' or 'failed love affairs'. or buckle under 'meritorious academic pressure' imposed on them by their gurus.    


Echoes of stillborn histories

What can we learn from this documentary, ’The Death of Merit’?

Bal Mukund Bharti was determined to become a doctor. And his teachers were also very determined: ‘you’ll never pass MBBS’, they told him.

Bal Mukund didn’t give up, nor did his family. Father, mother, married sister, uncle, aunt– they were all determined to support him in his ardent journey, which was steadily converted into an uphill struggle by AIIMS, to become a doctor. They scraped, pooled together whatever meagre resources they could to send him to AIIMS.

Uncle says they invested everything they earned in his education. Sister who made only 2,500 rupees a month helped whenever father, who worked in a job which sometimes made him wait 3 long months for wages, couldn’t. It wasn’t a small dream; if realized, it could have become a source of hope and pride for many more people outside the immediate family.

As Bal Mukund’s proud father says, ‘he was the first one from our community to become a doctor in fifty years!’. Bal Mukund’s intelligence and superior scholastic record instilled that kind of confidence in the family, stoked such high hopes.

Imagine: the first doctor from a community in fifty years, or in two millennia, possibly. Also imagine Rakesh Sharma or Kalpana Chawla, people of the ‘wrong’ race, being told by the Russians or the Americans: ‘you’ll never go into space’.

But AIIMS was determined it would see Bal Mukund only as a ‘harijan’, as a person from the ‘wrong’ caste. Imagine history being snuffed out in the womb. That shouldn’t be very difficult to imagine if you step two years back into history and think of Senthil Kumar of the University of Hyderabad.

please read the rest here


terrorists, and still strutting around

random news:
BJP president G Kishen Reddy said national leaders and important functionaries from other states would also come down to participate in the `jan jagaran' programme. As part of the week-long phase I of the programme, the party would reach out to the people and expose the corrupt Congress government on price rise, black money and scams like 2G spectrum, CWG, cash-for-votes and Adarsh society. "We will distribute pamphlets, take out padayatras, scooter rallies and public meetings from April 6 to 11. During the 10-day second phase beginning April 20, rallies at mandal level and public meetings will be held. During the third and final phase of the programme, national level leaders would participate in the district level meetings," the BJP state president said.
the whole world knows now that the parivar was behind the mecca masjid blasts. the ruling congress establishment seems unwilling to investigate the parivar's connections with other blasts in hyderabad. and the bjp now is one of the foremost champions of telangana. the left-liberals, from all the universities in the region happily collaborate with the parivar hordes in the so-called telangana movement. they're all hindutvavaadis now.

it isn't as easy for the ruling classes to shove the few top parivar leaders in the state into prison as it is to pick random poor muslim kids in hordes and to torture them, i suppose. but why doesn't the parivar itself organize some kind of a 'jagaran' programme to tell us how it planned and executed those bomb attacks? to reach out to the 'people' who were not bombed? no one's going to question them, anyway. definitely not the separatists. 



wrote some mad verse in telugu:

నీకూ నాకూ
మధ్య అడ్డుగోడై
ప్రేమా దోమా
యేదైనా వుంటే
మనం మేమవుదాం
చేతనైనంత వెలమవుదాం
వాడికి మేతవుదాం
దేవ్డిల వెట్టవుదాం
రెచ్చిపోయి రెడ్డవదాం
అదందాం ఇదందాం
అదవదాం ఇదవదాం
అడ్డంగా నరికేద్దాం
యెవడూ దొరక్క పోతే
పోనీ పోతే
యీ ఫోరడి ప్రాణం
యింకో పోరడి ప్రాణం
ఉద్యమ పద్దై
గల్లా యెగిరేసుకొని
చెప్పుకొనే గొప్పై
నీ గుడిసెల నిప్పై
వాడి భవన్లో నోట్ల కుప్పై
నోటికొచ్చిన తత్వమై

అమ్మ కడుపును తన్నిన
నిన్ను చంపిన వాడి

అమరత్వం ఆధ్యాత్మ్యం
మన ధర్మం..
అంతా యెనకట్లాగనె
తలొంచుకుని పాటిద్దాం
మెడలిద్దాం యేళ్ళిద్దాం
పాలిద్దాం చేళ్ళిద్దాం
వాడింట్ల కాకి
పక్కోడు కొడితే
మనం గాయపడదాం
వాళ్ళిద్దరి నదులు వాళ్ళకు
మన నోట్ల మట్టంతా మనదే కదా?
వాళ్ళిద్దరి పగలూ
మన కుండళ్ళోకి
గొంతుళ్ళోకి గుండెళ్ళోకి
బేగాని షాదిల..
అంతా అప్పట్లెక్కనే
బుద్ధున్ని కూల్చి
జైనుల్ని కొట్టి
విష్ణువుకి పెడదాం
మనం వండిన ప్రసాదం
మనం అడుక్కుందాం.


no phule, no ambedkar..

..no ayyankali, narayana guru, periyar or even lohia either. and definitely no kanshi ram. no mayawati. or annadurai or even devraj urs or laloo yadav. one notices the glaring absence of a long, sustained anti-caste, mass movement in the political history of colonial and post-colonial andhra pradesh.

in the last two centuries, the telugus have produced many thinkers, writers and political activists who had risen against many kinds of oppression -- against feudal rule in telangana, against colonial rule and against zamindaries in coastal andhra and rayalaseema, against exploitation of adivasis in telangana and coastal andhra.

but there has never been a large, sustained, mass movement against caste and brahminism in recent history.

caste wasn't the primary focus of either the telangana peasants struggle, the biggest militant movement of its kind in 20th century indian history, or of the four decades old naxalite movement, both of which produced thousands of dalitbahujan martyrs.

there have been many movements, agitations against caste based oppression but none challenged caste like the movements led by all the visionaries i named earlier. now some dalitbahujan supporters of telangana think that a sociopolitical transformation will happen in a separate state because the population of the obcs in telangana is a few percentage points higher than in a united state. add to this irrational belief in the 'magical solution' of telangana the conviction that upper caste brahmin, velama and reddy politicians and intellectuals will help produce not only the 'magical' solution but also perhaps the social transformation later: is there anything illogical in the srikrishna committee report's dismissal of the idea?   

raising mass consciousness, even at the political level, against caste is a long, tough job. ask dr.ambedkar. if you can't go so far back in the past, ask kanshi ram who walked, cycled around a much larger state than telangana and andhra pradesh for nearly two decades before he got anywhere close to his objective.

and while dalitbahujan youth participate in large numbers in the agitation, nursing their beliefs, hapless dalits are being hunted down as witches in villages close to even the state capital. adivasi girls are being killed or being sold.

will the upper caste politicians or intellectuals/activists leading the movement exhibit the same spirit of brotherhood towards the 'impure' classes if the dalitbahujan youth started asking questions about the upper caste hunters of witches and sorcerers in choutuppal and elsewhere?

dr.ambedkar didn't wait for independence or political 'freedom' to press his demands for the protection of the depressed classes.

but these bands of dalitbahujan supporters will wait for the 'magical solution' that'd first empower the obcs, supposedly, and then the dalits. has the empowerment of a few obc communities, as in u.p., tamil nadu or karnataka ever ensured better progress in the war against caste? political empowerment of a few obc communities has never meant broad political empowerment even of all the obcs, leave alone the dalits. and substantial social transformation is still a long way off in all those states. and the valuable lesson we've learnt from all those states is that it is the empowerment of the dalits that should be the primary goal of any sociopolitical  movement that challenges caste: because any anti-caste political movement that is led by a few obc communities (like the yadavs, kurmis, mudaliars, gounders, vanniars, vokkaligas etc) shall ultimately result in only reinforcing caste, by only slightly altering the hierarchy.

i hope they'll revisit kanshi ram.


manoj mitta's lathi-wielding logic

If a woman who was forcibly married asks for a divorce on grounds of cruelty, can a court rule against it? Can a court rule that she cannot be liberated from her marriage, however bad, without her husband's consent? That's the kind of dubious logic the Sri Krishna Committee employed when suggesting, as its "second best option", that the Telangana region (the erstwhile Hyderabad state) cannot be divorced from the Andhra and Rayalaseema regions (the erstwhile Andhra state) unless the latter agree.
when an issue involves more than 80-100 million people, you can rest assured that there'd be more than 80-100 million opinions. and when some experts are called into apply their minds to the issue, you can be doubly sure that they'd produce several hundred pages of observations and analysis on the issue. then the woman, whose case mr.mitta so passionately (and patronizingly) makes, becomes the women of telangana, andhra and rayalaseema. she also becomes the adivasis, the dalits and the muslims of the the three regions. and the obcs and all the varieties within them. and she splits further into sub-castes: and into dominant and marginalised communities, into urban and rural women, men and children. and into the various segments and divisions of views within all those fragments. mitta finds it hard to digest all that democracy, i suppose. so he squashes it to down an easily chewable one voice: a woman whose case needs to be made (because she can't make it herself, you see).

mitta should understand the difference between two people and a hundred million people. a recent article by ram puniyani on the ideology of the rss says:
According to this ideology a Hindu industrialist and the Hindu beggar are supposed to have similar interests! A Muslim entrepreneur and a Muslim sweeper or beggar is supposed to have similar interests. So a Hindu king in History and poor Hindu farmer-Shudra are on the same page. It looks at history as unified Hindu community standing against others and so on, as if all Hindu Kings were hunky dory with each other and supping with the Shudras and poor peasants of society. The communal ideology, irrespective of any religions in whose name it operates, changes the horizontal social differences into vertical ones’. The society has divisions according the rich and poor, privileged and deprived. According to this ideology what matters is the vertical divisions according to one’s religion. This ideology as such focuses on issues of identity and undermines the real worldly problems. It is an attempt to undermine and sweep under the carpet the unjust social system, where the major contradiction is social and economic. It is a way to hide one’s birth based privileges under the guise of religion. Religion is a potent instrument as faith is its central component. Abuse of faith for political goals generates blind social hysteria, which is used to promote the political and social agenda of communal organizations. This pattern applies to all the faith-religion based politics. 
mitta too reduces all horizontal differences into a vertical divide between telangana on the one hand and rayalaseema-andhra on the other. and further vulgarizes it by reducing it into a marital issue between one woman and one man. and mitta's choice of the figure of a woman to represent telangana in his folksy, khap-like, analogy: please note that there's no vertical division between mitta and the woman. he's her natural spokesperson, of course. in mitta's worldview, as all horizontal divisions between vast millions of people should naturally collapse into one coherent vertical schism, it's also very 'democratic' that all women (read: all those segments, divisions and fragments i talked about earlier) of telangana..and elsewhere should bow down, collectively, to men like mitta. or the hindu/patriarchal/upper caste 'majority'.

trust the times of india to never rise above its pimply-faced market.


the price of magical solutions

he's mostly been moonlighting as a politician, and not even for a very long period. until one year or so ago, he was a full-time businessman, or robber baron (as some critics would call him). look what he has to say to the 125 year old congress:
Jagan openly mocked at the Congress and the state government in Andhra Pradesh. “I am doing Congress a favour by asking my supporters (MLAs) not to resign. Had I wanted, I could have done it a long time ago. I am a gentleman. So I am doing a favour to the Congress party.” He did not mince any words in making his intentions clear.
for the first time in its long history, the congress must be feeling very sorry that it is in power in andhra pradesh. i don't think such a situation had ever risen in any other state, for that matter, in the past. given a chance, it'd rather be in the opposition benches again, i think, stoke wild aspirations and make vague promises about a new state, and win elections as it did in 2004. yes, given a chance, it'd definitely like to go back to 2004. given a chance, i think, it'd prefer to roll over and die now. but it seems like jagan and many others wouldn't give it even that chance.

dangling 'magical solutions' before the masses could ensure some temporary successes -- you tell jobseekers telangana would give you jobs, you tell farmers telangana would give you water, you tell the poor telangana would bring you wealth, you tell everyone telangana would bring you everything-- like an election or two. but when the masses come to collect, you can't tell them that there are no magical solutions. that you'd been fooling them all along.

the congress can't choose the srikrishna committee's best option, united andhra pradesh, and garner winning votes in telangana for some time. it can't choose the second best option, bifurcation, and hope to survive in coastal andhra and rayalaseema. but how did the congress manage to so dexterously antagonise people of all regions? even now, it's not the anger of the people it's worried about, it's the displeasure of the dominant caste groups in the state that worries it. 

i am not predicting that the congress would die in andhra pradesh. only that congressmen would disappear in droves into jagan's mob, or the trs for a while or... the survival of the congress until now has always depended on how happy it could keep the dominant castes in the state, distributing power and pelf evenly between regions, more or less. so the dominant castes in andhra were okay with telangana as long as it remained an election promise, but when the dominant castes in telangana saw in this promise an opportunity to corner all power over the economic 'engine' of the state, hyderabad, the entente between both groups started getting weaker. but i think the weakening of the alliance between the dominant groups in the state is temporary: they've many common social and economic interests. but what has suffered more grievous damage is the congress's reputation as an arbiter, a keeper of peace and balance, among these groups. the telugu desam, 25 years ago, had won the confidence of at least one group among these castes and managed to also groom leaders from among a sizeable section of the backward castes. the tdp too would suffer now because, as the srikrishna committee has observed, 3-4 large backward castes are also seeking a firmer place among the dominant groups. 

what was the telangana movement all about? it was, like i always said, about power-sharing. not about neglect, or poverty, or discrimination or colonization. certainly not about the people.


some substance, much sentiment and lots more magic

7.2.10 Hence, while "organised sentiment" was nevertheless highly visible, the grievances of people were often of a general nature. These have been objectively investigated by the Committee and found to have substance on some counts but not all. The developmental progress of Telangana region has generally been found to be robust especially for the last three decades (see details in Chapter 2). However, objective investigation does not easily take care of emotion and sentiment. The present movement has provided people the space to articulate many grievances which are a result of recent development trajectories that have led to greater Hyderabad-centric development as well as deepening of some inter and intra-regional inequalities during the process of growth. Political inequities and the desire for a greater share in political power, combined with the feeling that the historic Gentlemen‟s Agreement was violated, feed into the movement. Popular sentiment easily latches onto well defined "enemies" (in this case the "Andhras") and magical solutions – a separate state of Telangana, which would automatically provide water, jobs and education.
elsewhere, the srikrishna report, also hints that it is 'robust' growth which has fuelled the separatist sentiments (and ambitions) of upwardly mobile groups in some areas (in north telangana, especially). the babri masjid tragedy was the consequence of a long chain of political decisions which upheld the superiority of sentiments over facts. for the lest ten years, the ruling classes have again started finding much logic in sentiments. brace yourselves. some magical solutions might soon hit you.
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