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India: Grave threat to philosopher, writer and politial thinker Prof Kancha Illaiah

Friday 29 September 2017, by siawi3


September 28, 2017

India: Writer, Scholar Kancha Ilaiah’s car attacked in Warangal

source: TelanganaToday - 23rd Sep 2017

Kancha Ilaiah’s car attacked in Warangal
Shoes and stones were hurled at Kancha Ilaiah’s car at Parkal town

By Author

Photo: Noted writer Kancha Ilaiah’s car being mobbed during the attack at Parakal town on Saturday.

Warangal: Noted writer and political thinker Kancha Ilaiah’s vehicle was pelted with stones at Ambedkar centre in Parakal town allegedly by the members of the Arya Vysya community. Shoes were also hurled at the car during the incident that took place while Ilaiah was returning from Bhupalpally town after attending a meeting conducted by T-MASS on Saturday.
Knowing about the arrival of Ilaiah, scores of people allegedly belonging to Vysya community gathered at the Ambedkar centre and tried to obstruct him when his car was about to enter the Warangal road.
Shocked over the incident, the driver had taken an immediate turn and taken the car to the local police station on bus station road.
Speaking to the reporters at the police station, Ilaiah alleged that the Vysya community people had tried to kill him.
He also lodged a complaint with the police urging them to take action on those involved in the attack.
Meanwhile, scores of dalit activists gathered at the police station and demanded action against the attackers while the Vysyas demanded that Ilaiah should be ‘hanged’ for his book on Vysya community.
It may be noted that Ilaiah has been under fire for his book titled ‘Samajika smugglurlu komatollu’ (Vysyas are social smugglers).
However, the police registered case under IPC sections 143 (unlawful assembly) 341(wrongful restraint) and 504 read with 149 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace by a group).
When contacted, Parkal Sub-Inspector Srikanth Reddy said that they had booked the case based on the written complaint by Ilaiah and added that Ilaiah had not mentioned anything about attempt murder in his petition.
Meanwhile, Ilaiah has been provided with police escort for safety during his travel to Hyderabad.



September 29, 2017

India: If govt can’t protect (me), other intellectuals not safe in country - Prof. Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd

Threatened over translated writings, Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd discusses caste system and his work with Indian Express.

Written by Amrita Dutta | New Delhi

Updated: September 29, 2017 8:04 am

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd has faced death threats, abuse and criticism from some members of the Arya Vysa community

After a publisher reprinted chapters of his book Post-Hindu India (2009) into booklets in Telugu, Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, 65, has faced death threats, abuse and criticism from some members of the Arya Vysa community. In this interview given on the phone, the Hyderabad-based academic explains what he means by “social smuggling” and why that offends the castes that dominate Indian capitalism. Excerpts:

Why are the Arya Vysas (Baniyas) of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh protesting against you?

I wrote this book in 2009 in the background of a debate over merit and the demand for reservation in the private sector. It includes several chapters on various castes — a chapter on barbers is called “social doctors”, one on dhobis is called “subaltern feminists”, and so on. The chapter on Baniyas was called “social smugglers” and the one on Brahmins was called “spiritual fascists”. This June, a small publisher printed each chapter as a separate booklet, with caste names on the cover page. This has led to protests and violent abuses by the Arya Vysa community. Two people have threatened to take my life on television. A TDP MP, P G Venkatesh, said in a press conference that I should be hanged and killed as is done in the Middle East. On September 23, I was returning from a meeting when my car was attacked. I was saved because my driver managed to take me out and reach the police station. I have filed cases at the Osmania University police station and requested for full police protection. The state has done nothing — at least as much as CM Siddaramaiah has done to protect intellectuals in Karnataka.

Has anyone in the government reached out to you?

Ministers in my Telangana state, including the home minister, joined the Arya Vysas in condemning me. The CM is silent. The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister has been sending out feelers that he will ban the book. Look at the climate in which I am fighting this battle — the murders of Gauri Lankesh and M M Kalburgi in my neighbouring state. This is the fear I have. Therefore, I placed myself under house arrest. I am telling the world that if the Indian government cannot protect an intellectual who is known in the country and world, then other intellectuals have no safety in this country.

What do you mean by calling Baniyas social smugglers?

Social smuggling is a concept I coined to capture caste-based economic exploitation, from the village upwards to the monopoly Baniya capital, which involves the Ambanis, Adanis, the Laxmi Mittals, and so on. Social smuggling is a method of deceptive business, which accumulates wealth in the Baniya economy itself, and does not let it go back to the producers, who are the source of the wealth. Historically, because of the nexus between the Baniya and the Brahmin priestly community, the wealth was also transferred into temples. This led to non-development of mercantile capital in the medieval and late medieval age, and later indigenous capital.

This encirclement of business is done through the spiritual dictum of Manu, Kautilya and Vedic texts. Unlike in the West, only one caste was allowed to do business in India. Smuggling means taking away wealth out of the borders of the nation illegally, but “social smuggling” means taking away the produce of all castes into the vaults of one caste — the Baniya, without any access to others. Wealth remains within the nation but in the control of one caste. It does not go back into the agricultural economy or the philanthropic economy or the education economy. This happened historically and is now happening even in the modern, privatised economy. That is the reason why 46% of the corporate directors in India are Baniyas, whereas their population is 1.9%. Brahmins come second, with 44.6% of corporate directors from their caste.

So, you are saying that in this form of capitalism, caste cannot be challenged.

It is this caste-controlled, socially smuggled capital which does not want to give preferential treatment or reservation in the private sector. They have been talking about our meritlessness. But we have proved our merit in producing the wealth, in the agrarian economy. Why are they not sharing this wealth with 90 per cent of the other castes, including Jats, Patels, etc, by giving them space in the private sector?

Is it true that you have set terms for withdrawing the book?

These are the conditions I have set (to the Baniya community to disprove that they are social smugglers). Look at our soldiers on the border. When the nationalism debate is taking place, Amit Shah and (PM) Modi are holding up the soldiers as an example. But, among these foot soldiers, there are no Baniyas or Brahmins. I am asking for one job for the family of each soldier serving on the border in the private sector. Look at the number of constables fighting in Naxalite regions or in Kashmir. Their family members should be given jobs in the private sector. Farmer suicides is one of the biggest issues in the country today. I am asking for a farmer protection fund from the entire industrial capital — at least 1% of their annual profit, around Rs 30,000 crore. Corporate social responsibility doesn’t fight the caste system, or help the tribal or Dalit issue. It should be a social responsibility.

What is the social consequence of this “socially smuggled capital”?

When Adam Smith wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments, he said that without moral sentiment, a transparent capitalism cannot survive. The buyer and seller will have to be honest and treat each other with respect. In this Baniya-Brahmin capitalism, that empathy, that goodwill towards the poorest of the poor is missing. To the point of ignoring the death of the farmers, who is the source of wealth. Industries must prove their nationalism like the soldiers are proving their nationalism on the border.

Why do you think writers are facing such anger today?

Earlier, we have had writing which has become controversial when gods or prophets are involved, or women are involved. But this is an academic concept and as a research scholar I have full rights to formulate it. This is not an issue that can be settled on the streets. Tragically, and to my surprise, the Indian intellectuals or economists have not responded to this debate. In this environment of cow vigilantism, killings of intellectuals, if communists and liberals are silent, if the English media is not reporting this, it is very frightening. That scares me more. Why are our progressive intellectuals silent? Because I am a lower-caste intellectual?



India: Why are we silent on the grave threat to Prof Kancha Illaiah ?

by Vidya Bhushan Rawat,

September 26, 2017

While it is nobody’s suggestion that India was a tolerant land some three years back and suddenly has developed the intolerance but none can deny the fact that the goons threatening intellectuals and activists have certainly become more arrogant and encouraged by the absolute ‘disinterest’ shown by those in power. In the past few years we have lost number of persons for the cause of human rights and secularism and probe have reached nowhere even though links with organisations associated with Hindutva groups have been reported in the media. Activists are being threatened; intimidated and street goons have taken it upon themselves to provide the justice. Where the person is a bit powerful, cases are filed against him in the court while goons are let loose to physically intimidate him.

Kancha Illaiah is a well-known Bahujan philosopher who has been actively critiquing the Brahmanical social order and its injustices meted out to the Dalits-OBCs and Adivasis. Should he not be allowed to do this under the garb that it ‘hurt’ the community sentiments. It is not the question of any outsider writing a critique but a person from the community historically denied right. The only difference this time was that his new book that has come out is about the Vaishya community which is basically a trading community. Normally the Brahmins are the target but this time the Vaishyas ( Banias) have taken it to themselves and have been protesting against Illaih for his writing against them. The main contention of the community is that they have been called ‘social smugglers’ by Kancha Illaih in his book. One of the Member of Parliament from Telugu Desam Party T G Venkatesh has reportedly threatened to kill him and asked for his hanging. Yesterday, his vehicle was attacked and a prompt action by his driver could save his life. So shocked was Prof Kancha Illaiah that he felt deeply isolated and decided to confine to his home for the next one week. It is sad that an intellectual at this stage is facing so much of threat of physical violence and no assurances from the authorities for his safety. Now the issue is being deliberately being politicized to create a Hindutva frenzy in the state so that corrupt politicians can reap the benefit of the emotional blackmailing of people. This is the new India where the brahmanical Hinduism will come through violent means. No criticism would be allowed or countered through a fair critique. It is not that Kancha Illaiah wrote it for the first time. His thought provoking books are there in open and should be welcomed. One can disagree with him and for that we have enormous avenues to not merely protest peacefully but also wrote counter argument to denounce but that is not happening.

With so much of media and publishing world in hand these power elite are still fearful of a few who critique them. We are informed that Gandhi was a Bania. None deny that. We are not here asking anyone to be unhappy where they are born. None come here with a fixed birth record except in the brahmanical system where your caste and occupation are fixed with your birth. That is what we call caste based varnashram dharma and it must be rejected. We cannot hide the fact that caste system and caste discrimination are the biggest obstacle in the development of this country. In fact the caste system remains our biggest hurdle in national unity and integration. The caste system creates prejudices in the minds of people and limits your mobility beyond your own castes. Once you confine yourself within your castes, everything outside it looks as suspect and dangerous. Can we have a united India with so many thousands of caste and each considering it superior to other? Critiquing India’s notorious caste system is nothing wrong but will ultimately help India get stronger and united. Even then if he has said anything academically or factually wrong then there are options before the people to go the court or even write rejoinder through engaging in a democratic debate. Huge number of upper caste dominate our media, academia, intelligentsia and they can write a counter critique of Kancha Illaiah but the abdominal street protests that we are witnessing in Andhra and Telangana are merely for the political purpose and need to be unconditionally condemned.

The videos of protest using innocent children to urinate in public on the photograph of Kancha Illaiah is nothing except the sick mindset of the people who are using children to reap the rich harvest of hatred during the election. It is deeply despicable and condemnable. Why children should be used in a debate which is academic debate. And even if they are used, is the best way to use their ‘creativity’. Is this not an imposition of male supremacy as we find no girls or women in the protest? Kancha Illaiah has not killed anyone, nor is he spreading hatred against particular communities or people, he has not threatened anyone but used the only way, to speak up through his writings against what he and many like him consider historic wrong. Isn’t it his right to question and speak up against the social injustice that prevailed for centuries in our society?

Isn’t it for Indians to ponder as why one community is in business or knowledge while other is purely for cleaning human excreta? Is this not a reservation which has existed in this filthy society where a few protested but those enjoyed kept quiet? When this hegemony is challenged then the question of merit is raised as if all those in the Dalal Street in Mumbai are the most meritorious people? Caste system is nothing but hidden apartheid and you cannot hide from the fact that it need to go and should be demolished as Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar as well as many others like him, had wanted.

What is more disturbing is that the failure of the two state governments of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to provide him protection and action against those threatening him. The way political protests have been launched against him is clear indication of the local politicians who are being encouraged by their respective parties to intimidate a scholar through street goondaism. The two chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Telanagana are the same who refused to speak up against institutional murder of Rohith Vemula. Even when the entire country stood up for Rohith’s cause, the two upper caste governments actually were determined to treat him as a ‘non dalit’, a deliberate ploy to divide people on caste lines and deviate from the real issue of the prevailing caste prejudices in their system. The Member of Parliament of Telugu Desham party has openly threatened to kill him but there is no action from the chief minister Chandra Babu Naidu. The goons are openly attacking him and monitoring his physical movement but the two chief ministers remain shamelessly silent on the issue.

Another appalling thing is the conspicuous silence of intellectuals and political parties as Kancha has himself said. This is a very disturbing fact. We know he has been a critique of brahmanical system in our political parties and intelligentsia including the left and this is not for the first time any intellectual spoke about the left and other political organisations. It was a critique of Dr Ambedakr, Phule, Periyar and many others who follow their path yet over the years. There are people who acknowledge their faults and happily engage in a fruitful discussion on the issue which is a welcome sign.

This is the period of a great crisis among us. Those who are targeting Mr Kancha Illaiah, know it well that there are wide differences among the non Hindutva groups of people. This is not merely the problems of the left forces but also of the Ambedkarites and Bahujan forces. It is not the time to get into digging history and then taking a stand. In my opinion every Ambedkarite or a true intellectual of any variety left or socialist or freethinker will always defend an individual’s right to freedom of expression and engage in democratic debates. Moreover, it is not a street brawl that he has engaged in but a purely academic work which can and should only be countered through academic exercise or democratic protests. The pain is that we have not heard intellectuals, academic taking any stand on it particularly outside Andhra and Telangana except for some individual responses on social media. It is good that the Congress Party has issued a very strong statement in the media as their spokesperson Randeep Singh Surejewallah demanded action the threatening Member of Parliament and protection to Mr Kancha Illaiah. This is certainly a positive sign and we appreciate it.

India is fast becoming a mob republic where power elite has developed various ways to not only intimidate you but put you in deep distress to the strength of physical hurt or elimination. The mobs are being encouraged to take law in their hands and they have the fullest backing through the PR agents who can easily convert a wrong into right and the vice versa but then these should be the finest hours for all of us who are fighting against the subjugation and discrimination as it is the right time to see the truth, our stand and our attitude. We need to develop the culture of debate and discussion as that is the only way to save us as a society and as a nation. Once people start taking law in their hand and deciding to judge everyone in the street we will have none to blame but on to us. It is better to learn from the experiences of others. People in Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere know well the importance of democracy where in the name of identities and national interests people have killed each other. India survived as a democracy and fared well because despite all our weaknesses, we promoted ideas through constructive debates. We agreed to disagree. If you don’t like Mr Kancha Illaiah or any one like him, don’t read him, switch off your TV or if you are reasonable enough then counter him ideologically and argumentatively through various mediums. Each one of have various options including social media and it should be used to strengthen the debates but don’t fall prey to the political goons who are only using sentiments to spread hatred and promote their political interest. Prof Kancha Illaiah must be provided all the security that he needs as well as those threatening to kill him must be prosecuted.