Reality Check India

Chandrabhan Prasad recommends

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on October 9, 2007

Now, Chandrabhan Prasad is no darling of the deep-rooted socialist/secular media. His recent articles in The Pioneer throw new light on contemporary issues like Big Retail, role of the English language, the way forward for Dalits, anti-US sentiment. Read them all here. He is now a visiting scholar at the Center for the Advanced Studied of India (CASI) at University of Pennsylvania.

Excerpts from his latest article “Pilgrimage to CASI” .

I value two books the most. These are – Dominance and State Power in Modern India and Decline of a Social Order (Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1989). When I visited South Africa in 2001, the US in 2002, Canada in 2003 and Germany in 2006, I always carried these books.

– – –

There can only be two kinds of political scientists and social historians in India – one who have not read the book, and the other, who have read it. So, what is there in the book which makes me value it so much?

Thats a pretty strong recommendation. I have put these on my must read list. Links ( Frankel’s book (Costs a hefty $75 )

On Tamilnadu,

Though I had my reservations regarding Mandal as I was witness a growing conflicts between Dalits and OBCs, I still went ahead and defended it as by 1991, the larger Gangetic belt was still dominated by Dwijas/Brahmins. So, as I thought, a total annihilation of the Brahmin dominance may turn north India into a socially liberated zone as it had happened in Tamil Nadu.

– –

I was shocked to find that for every 100 Dalit in socially liberated Tamil Nadu, only 15 were independent cultivators and 64 were landless labourers. In Uttar Pradesh, of every 100 Dalit, 43 were independent cultivators and only 39 were landless labourers. How could Tamil Dalits be so far behind the UP Dalits.

– –

There was no meaning to Periyar’s anti-Brahmin movement I thoughts to myself. But there was no one who was willing to listen to me. For most of the Dalits in north India Tamil Nadu was a role model. It was then that I was given a book to read by prof Frankel.

In his book, Frankel mirrors the fall of Dwijas/Brahmins from the political power structure, the book however, remains sceptical of the social justice element in the rise of Shudras/OBCs. What I understood from the book suggests that Periyar’s Dravidian movement was merely anti-Brahmin, and not anti-caste.

Source : Daily Pioneer

The real empowerment of the dalits in Tamilnadu will be on display at election time. Mr Tiruma of the biggest Dalit party (DPI) will run from pillar to post (DMK/AIADMK) for 2-3 seats in the Tamilnadu assembly, whereas Mayawati will win 20-30 seats in the Lok Sabha.


17 Responses

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  1. reason said, on October 9, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    it is possible dalits in north TN turned to vijaykanth in 2006. The entrenched OBC caste groups will not move away from DMK or ADMK. Vanniyars have their own party. Vijaykanth scored 8% state-wide, 15% in some places. That must have a core section of some identifiable group.

    there were some articles in by a ravikumar exposing ramasami naicker’s racist charade. It is yet another failure of our prostituting and pimping media that ramasami naicker and the dravida groups got/get reported as social justice champions.

  2. Barbarindian said, on October 10, 2007 at 5:05 am

    Funny how the secular socialists, who were quoting Prasad ad nauseum at the beginning of the OBC quota fiasco, won’t touch him with a ten foot pole now. I know at least two bloggers who deleted all their Prasad related posts after it was found that Prasad was highly critical of the OBC quotas.

  3. Prasanna said, on October 10, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Hi Reason

    This is the link

  4. xyz said, on October 11, 2007 at 7:56 am

    Realistically,one could not have expected naicker to espouse the cause of dalits.karu once described his position as akin to a “mattalam”,he was being subjected to pressure from both sides ie brahmanas and dalits.

    The Congress nationalists felt the same way when the british instigated muslims,sikhs,dalits,dravidians against the national movement.For a moment I am not trying,even for a moment, to equate the brahmanas with the british or justifying the myopic vision of the justice? party.

    But given the sharp differences between the congress nationalists and the nonbrahman elite(aided,abetted and instigated by the british) in a fundamentally new socio politico situation how else could a dravidian messiah have reacted.

    But it is outrageous to claim that periyar did anything for dalits,much less he emancipated them.These lies have to be nailed.

    Good Work.

  5. xyz said, on October 11, 2007 at 8:37 am

    The Dravidian movement has indirectly empowered the dalits through tamil nationalism.This has given dalits atleast an identity to aspire for.Though it is vague and has little to offer in concrete terms now.Also tamizh language deification has given a voice to the dalits.It is after all their mother tongue.Though the superficial,vacuous mainstream dravidian parties have no place for dalits,I see dalits writing beautiful prose,poetry imbued with humanist ideals and equipped with the intellectual machinery of the social ‘sciences’ expressing themselves in non mainstream media.(like

    Ravikumar,the dalit MLA from thirumavalavan’s party,is very close to karu.One must give credit to the thug for atleast being aware of these counter currents,which undermine the mythology of the dravidian movement.

    Jayalalitha cannot even acknowledge the existence of such currents,because of her ‘brahmin’ predilections and being tied to the thevar group which supports her.

    I dont think vijaykanth will be any different.Because the social milieu(the mudaliars,naidus,vanniyars) will not countennance any revolt by the dalits.

    I think the problem of dalits should be seen as problems of agricultural labourers and unorganised unskilled labour.In an ancient social order which has marked the place of the intellectual,warrior,peasant and trader ,one cannot encourage a revolt by the underclass without affecting the stability of the society.

    That is why it was a masterstroke of the British to introduce reservation for dalits,when their political authority was challenged.They had shown no such interest in punjab or madras when they sided with punjabi muslims,sikhs,mudaliars,kammas.

    The Congress thought of dalits as a reliable votebank,while the obcs were more fractious.From a brahminical,albeit noble and farsighted,viewpoint there was nothing wrong.A few seats to the pliant dalits was not going to cause much harm.

    But now the chickens have come to roost.We need to have a rethink on the entire policy of reservation.Why should the creamy layer among scs not be excluded ,if they are causing heartburn to the obcs.Afterall,india is made of a million minorities.Each group has its own anxieties.

  6. realitycheck said, on October 11, 2007 at 10:10 am


    As Chandrabhan points out : Without enhancement of the status of Dalits, the entire social justice story is just a hot air ballon. It will float until someone comes along with a needle.

    In many cases, the classification is outrageously broken and extremely unjust. Take the case of Narikuravas. They are waiting for ST status for 50 years. Currently, they are classified as MBC (No 24) along with Karunanidhi’s and Ramadoss’s castes.

    If TN is the land of social justice, this would never have happened. If getting a ST status for them is not possible, why not divide the MBC quota into two ? They had no problem in dividing the BC quota into three (23% Hindus, 3.5% Muslims, 3.5% Christians)

    Dalit tamil poetry is great. I would not get too carried away with that though. As Chandrabhan has been claiming all along. English and not regional language is the way forward for Dalits. I like too, but imagine if Dalits were empowered with English knowledge. Poetry and art are “low fanout” pursuits. Not many have the talent to become a great poet or writer.

    Dalits can play along with the Tamil nationalist rhetoric, but should never ever lose sight of English.

  7. xyz said, on October 11, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    I just want to clarify a few points.All of us agree on the goal of an inclusive and fair society.We all agree that dalits have been socially discriminated .In the hierarchial caste system,they were regarded as untouchables and denied use of common facilities like tanks,cremation grounds.

    The social discrimination is unique to our religion.It is based on ritual purity and it affected all sections of the society,though dalits were the worst affected.Regarding denial of common facilities like water tanks,sometimes i have wondered,whether the discrimination had more to do with secular issues like pressure of poulation on a scarce resource.I am not justifying it though.Everywhere in the world,paricularly in societies in decline faced with the threat of overpopulation and scarce resources,the poorest of the poor always get the least use of common resources.This was true in europe and china until the second world war.

    The indian situation could have aggravated in the post 16th century period.I dont have hard data to support my contention.I am not really sure whether dalits were really so bad off in the entire period of indian history.

    From the time of parikshit,india has been ruled predominantly by non kshatriya rulers.The mauryas were no blue blooded kshatriyas.The caste system was much more fluid until the british tried to freeze it.The founders of Vijayanagar,Shivaji Maharaj,Maharaja Ranjit Singh were born to yeomen/petty chieftains.There was considerable mobility.

    Even in TN,vellalas ,pallans etc are not referred in ancient tamil literature.Note this is very important.The pallans call themselves as devendra kula vellalas.Ofcourse this could be a fanciful assertion.When society as a whole stagnates and ossifies the worst degenerations could have occured.

    Why does a society fossilise?I suppose one has to accept it as a Law of Nature.Atleast indian society was capable of regenerating.

    Nobody denies that the conditions of the dalits have to improve.Their social stigma has to go.But let us not forget that in every society there are workers,there are less privileged classes,who face hidden barriers.We should end stratification by birth but only in collectivist societies can ‘equality’ be enforced.Ineualities in capital,ownership of land,exist in every society.And this keeps changing with time.After all,within two generations,brahmanas in TN have changed from being agricultural landowners to a predominantly urban community.

    All i am trying to say,while being mindful of the social stigma faced by dalits in some(many?) parts,let us acknowledge and celebrate change that has taken place,while keeping vigil over vested interests whether obc or a neo sarkari brahman SC narrative.

  8. realitycheck said, on October 11, 2007 at 3:36 pm


    I mostly agree with your comment to the extent that I have little interest in going back too far in history. We do not even know for sure how things looked in 1500. The real problem is we do not have enough to adjudicate competing claims of oppression. Say Caste C claims that they too were denied access to temple water along with Caste A,B.

    Coming to the present. To me things are much simpler.

    The effectiveness of a social justice program can also be measured indirectly. One simple way is to just show its effect on groups we all agree are backward without question. This is why I took the example of the Narikuravas. CBP has taken the example of the Tamil dalits.

  9. xyz said, on October 11, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    I agree it is so much easier to determine backwardness today.

  10. Barbarindian said, on October 11, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    All of us agree on the goal of an inclusive and fair society.

    Who said that? What is inclusive and what is fair? These are matters for litigation.

  11. xyz said, on October 12, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Inclusive-no one is stigmatised
    fair-no one is discriminated on grounds of birth,belief etc

  12. Barbarindian said, on October 12, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Heh, try getting those definitions accepted.

  13. black_mamba said, on October 18, 2007 at 2:56 am

    Is this gonna Kill You? No i Dont Think so !

  14. Revathi said, on October 19, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    I dont know why anyone should prefer Rahul Gandhi to Mayavathi. I cannot understand this but that is what I hear when I ask people this question. Can anyone come up with one single reason?

  15. Balaji said, on October 19, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    So based on this Chandrabhan Prasad’s claims, you ridiculed me on nationalinterest? hmm… lets see.

    1. Brahmins make less than 5 percent in Tamilnadu and some 20 percent in UP. So this guy wants a anti-Brahmin movement in UP to succeed?
    2. Brahmins of TN are financially strong enough to go without reservation. How will the poor Brahmins of UP survive if there is an onslaught?
    3. OBCs achieved political power in TN in 1967 if not during the Justice movement before independence. So whats wrong with my claim that UP is following the TN pattern some 30 years behind?
    4. Dalits of Tamilnadu are still suffering. Nobody can deny that. But to claim that UP dalits are better of than TN’s based on some flimsy agricultural labor data, doesn’t sound too intelligent to me.
    5. Tamilnadu is 70% urban. To expect any group let alone dalits to be predominantly independent cultivators may not be the right way to look at things.

    I think we should remember the difference between Social Justice obtained by Dravidian movement and those expected to be obtained by the likes of Ramadoss and Thirumavalavan. The later is cheap politics and doomed to fail.

    Change based on ideology either Dravidian principles of equality or the socialist leanings of Congress is any day better than the caste politics. I’m not saying either Dravidian parties or the Congress are following it now. I’m just saying it gave benefits between 1950 and 1970.

    What has happened in UP – dalit/brahmin combination trouncing a thakur/yadav/muslim combination – is disastrous politics. This can only go in a vicious cycle and suck UP into the caste quagmire further. Luckily, I don’t think even Mayavati is interested in that. She is reaching out to Muslims and hopefully even to other OBCs.

    On other issues:

    1. I think you read too much from my ‘racism’ post and accused me of bad language. Anyway I read it again and removed some cuss words. Thanks. Indians claiming to be above racism is a sick joke to me. Anyway I thought *world and me were on the two corners of left-right ideology. True we both are atheists! But I like religion. I don’t think he does.

    2. I traveled on the Chennai-Bangalore GQ section when I was in India in March this year. Atleast one flyover near Vaniyambadi was incomplete. And in lots of places vehicles in both directions were using the same side of the road because of construction. Maybe they have completed all that in the last few months.

    But still your claims that South India’s investor friendliness improved because of GQ doesn’t sound convincing to me. Afterall Chennai-Chengalput highway and Hosur-Bangalore highway have been four lanes for more than a decade now. In general, I think TN has better roads for several decades now. All that was before GQ.

    3. I don’t think Karunanidhi (of today)/Jayalalitha are much better than Mulayam/Kalyan Singh/Mayavati variety. TN today progresses (if at all) based on basic infrastructure and superior human resources. So I don’t think better politicians in UP will make lot of difference.

  16. realitycheck said, on October 20, 2007 at 11:34 am


    The entire stretch has been completed for almost 2 years now. I didnt imply a single road was the only reason, but it is a major reason. I am in no way implying that the rest of the roads are great. Far from that, it still takes an hour to get to the GQ – but the GQ project per-se is done.

    What UP / Bihar lacks in particular and India in general are visible infrastructure assets. The GQ is just an instance of it. There is a PVC recycling unit I know in that area, which employs many workers from Bihar. The owner of the unit swear by their dedication and hard work. WIth the right political environment – the people of UP and Bihar too can shine in their own lands.

    About the Dravidian movement :

    I am afraid we have to agree to disagree on the most basic aspect. I happen to think that the Dravidian movement’s historical necessity is over (whatever that might have been). The non-brahmin upper castes have won. Lets get on with it. It is time to give way for the really backward. This is why Tiruma and Ramdoss have such a stranglehold on MK. I dont want to name any castes here, but if you are knowledgeable about the movement – you will probably know.

    A simple test : If the Dravidian movement is founded on rationalism, let the leaders collect data and show how each caste group has benefitted over the years.

    I am afraid without passing the simple test of data, the supporters of the Dravidian movement (not Tiruma) will always be skating on thin ice. The leaders can make fiery speeches, invoke 5000 year old theories of race invasions, ridicule gods and beliefs – but in the end someone is going to pull their pants down by asking – “Yeah, that was an awesome speech, but why not measure ?”

  17. realitycheck said, on October 20, 2007 at 11:37 am


    Take it easy. I did not mean to ridicule you.

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