The Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age


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Srimati Mukherjee. Nandini Gooptu. Roger D. Claire Chambers. Matthew J. Patrick Kilby. Marodsilton Muborakshoeva. Dennis B. Ruchira Ganguly-Scrase.

Caste in India: online resources, Ektara magazine, July

Mona Bhan. Home Contact us Help Free delivery worldwide. Free delivery worldwide. Bestselling Series. Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. Notify me. Description In India, caste groups ensure their durability in an era of multiculturalism by officially representing caste as cultural difference or ethnicity rather than as unequal descent-based relations. Challenging dominant social theories of caste, this book addresses questions of how caste survives the system that gave rise to it and adapts to new demands of capitalism and democracy.

It demands from everybody, who is on that soil, to actually transform or be forever subjugated as a second or third class citizen or be done away with. But even ethnoultra-nationalism is not really enough to capture it. Let me say a little bit about another founding text.


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Hindu interest is the national interest. Hence the honour of Hindutva and Hindu interests should be protected at all costs.

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I feel that even calling this ethnoultra-nationalism is not enough. And we need actually to look at some of the other contesting terms. Along with ethnonationalism, the other term is fascism. There are scholarly tomes looking not just at fascism but looking at Hindutva as fascism. Let me then make a little bit of an inroad in there. I want to see how, for example, this kind of ethnoultra nationalism transforms to swadeshi fascism. For that, we have to give up an idea of fascism being either linked to Mussolini, or to Hitler.

These are but the most recent forms that fascism took in Europe. But fascism as a mass phenomenon, as a cultural phenomenon, starts off in the late 19th century. Like Arthur Rosenberg, who was a teacher actually in Brooklyn and for a very long time, also a student of fascism. Using some of his writings, I think there are five core elements of Hindutva, which allows us to see how it is closer to fascism.

The first one, of course, is some form of ethnoultra-nationalism. So one of the core elements of Hindutva is a staunch anti-liberalism. But a staunch anti-liberalism is very much part of the mass culture of Hindutva which is a fascistic culture. The third point is that it is very clearly counter-revolutionary capital.

This, of course, means that there is some form of a revolutionary capitalist, and maybe its time is gone, but compared to what it was setting out to destroy, there were certain parts of capitalism that we could think of as revolutionary. But counter-revolutionary capital is a very clear project of entrenchment of neoliberal policies and very clearly anti-labour, heaped with contempt and banishing them into what I would now say as a fourth core, which is some form of demagogic national renewal.

Hindutva constantly needs to talk about the nation in need of being renewed. I would say that Muslim and Christian bodies are racialised although they appear to be simply religious. Those bodies along with left secular rationalist public intellectuals or any civil liberties human rights activists that we increasingly see today, these are bodies that can be disposed of, that can be excised. That kind of difference will not be tolerated. There would be nobody else left. And in that sense, they start to get domesticated, disciplined, kept in place, from time to time repressed in significant ways, but not sought to be totally eliminated with caste.

SV: Can you lay out Hindutva as a part of a larger continuum of fascism, in relationship to caste, and also how violence, then, plays out as a kind of disciplining force? That, only Hindu communalism can do.

Crossing Caste Boundaries in the Modern Indian Marriage Market

The fifth core of Hindutva, followed by ethnoultra-nationalism, along with the anti-liberalism, counter-revolutionary capitalism, and constant national renewal, is the storm-trooper like methods. There are stormtroopers roaming around with the full impunity that they are able to get because nothing seemingly seems to be done against them. Three years ago four Dalit youth who were stripped and beaten for about four hours in public. Again this is part of the gau rakshak or the cow vigilantes.

Interestingly, about a month after that the prime minister said that nobody should beat my Dalit brothers, they should beat me instead. So I want to just place this out there as to what we think about what Dalit and caste mean to Hindutva. Hindutva has a significant problem on its hands. It is now very clearly seen that it is anti-Constitutional.

Dalits hold the Constitution very dear. Everybody should hold the Constitutional very dear. It is probably the single document that prevents India from even more quickly transforming into a fascist society and state. In a way, Ambedkar, who was one of the chief drafters of the Constitution, said, I can only paraphrase, but he said that in a way the political equality that the Constitution talks about is based on social and economic inequality. Many decades later we are still, actually, we are worse off in some sense.

Anti-Constitution is a big way in which Dalits view Hindutva increasingly. But it has also affected the leather industry in which many Dalits are employed. There was a way in which many of the Dalits, who were forced to through the caste system carry the dead bodies of cows and to skin them, they went back and threw the dead bodies in public and refused to pick them up and said from then on they would not do their traditional work. Most recently, there is the Bhima Koregaon case, slightly more than a year ago.

So to kind of sum some of these things up, Hindutva is at its core casteist, Brahmanical and patriarchal. I want also to emphasize that intersectionality — that it needs to discipline women and men because it is operating from a kind of a mysophobic culture. How is that so? But the victims are entirely almost Dalits. Dalit men, or Dalit women, and occasionally the people that they fall in love with. Along with this cow vigilantism many other cultural rituals have been invented by Hindutva.

And it seems that the boundaries of caste and religion have to be protected on the bodies of young boys and girls. This operates through the racial imagination of Hindutva wherein anybody who is a Muslim or a Christian, and many of the Adivasis in India are having indigenous religions or have converted to Christianity especially, but also Islam, they are sought to be reconverted because it is assumed that anyone here is racially a Hindu in that sense. So caste is everywhere in these kinds of things. The ruling regime has tried to very clearly dilute the Anti-Atrocity Act.

They have definitely tried to make a mockery of that. So there are also a number of ways in which the anti-labour legislations are on the plate. Every labour legislation, be it with minimum wages or under the Factory Act, or the right to unionise, all of that are actually systemically being broken down and, Dalits face the brunt of it. Do you see this as mass hysteria in the last few years? Why is there a sudden, public outpouring of this great love for the Dear Leader? BN: Wow, fascinating question. Well, caste should not be celebrated and glorified as adding to our diversity.

One should be very clear, caste is a form of violence. It is a form of structural violence.


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Why do Indians flirt at the very least or embrace this idea of Hindutva totally? What kind of a problem is caste?

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How have caste and casteism adapted to changing political-economies? What would an anti-caste position need to consider for a liberatory politics of caste? These questions offer a framework to evaluate the arguments offered in this essay. Here some clarification of the terminology is useful.

Sociology for UPSC : ETHNICITY Based Social Stratification - Chapter 5 - Paper 1 - Lecture 18

T he other part of the paradox refers to the persistence of casteism despite the general illegitimacy accorded to that practice through state strictures and by public disavowal of casteism not caste in popular life no one likes to be called jativaadi any more even when, or especially when, they practice casteism. While a focus on discrimination is crucial to proscribe casteism, it makes casteism — a deeply entrenched social practice — recognizable only through the narrow lens of law. Such a view of casteism encompasses discrimination while also bringing into focus a sociology of the gainful effects and social functions of casteism, i.

This discourse is emblematic of a liberal, bourgeois and neo-Hindutva view of Indian society that appears to be anti-casteist since it asserts that the problem of caste has been overcome in India today. The first is a modality of casteism that I call cultural or differentialist casteism. This is the historically visible modality of casteism. Since most scholarship only recognizes casteism as heterophobia, it has been easy to mistake heterophilia as anti-casteism rather than as a new form of casteism.

I n an increasingly conscious multi-cultural India, cultural casteism based upon heterophilia acquires legitimacy by representing caste discrimination as cultural differentiation, and status distinctions as cultural difference. Instantiation of cultural casteism gives rise to the second phenomenon — a modality of the caste group, samaj , based upon ideological representations of caste identity as cultural identity, and caste distinctions as cultural difference. Despite attempts by elites to homogenize its interiors, samaj does not always imply a shared cultural identity or interests among members.

For, the conditions of possibility of a cultural identity for samaj itself depend upon a caste identity which underlies it and is prior to it.

The Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age The Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age
The Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age The Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age
The Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age The Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age
The Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age The Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age
The Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age The Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age
The Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age The Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age

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