AMAN KUMAR | 6 DECEMBER, 2018
On the raft of the present
My friends' reactions to the September 11 attacks and to the Gujarat genocide some months later were entirely different.
Investigating the difference, I discovered the state sponsored ethnic violence of the 80s and 90s – in Delhi, Hashimpura, Nellie, Meerut, Kashmir, and of course through Advani's Rath Yatra culminating in the demolition of an ASI-protected historical monument, and the murders of hundreds of Muslims in many parts of the country.
Documentaries still available on YouTube, such as Anand Patwardhan's Ram Ke Nam and Rakesh Sharma's Final Solution were an important part of this.
Bollywood ignored the Shiv-Sena led riots under a Congress government, though the Dawood Ibrahim bomb blasts that followed were adequately covered.
Then the Sachar Committee report publicised the low and declining socioeconomic status of Muslims in India, who have lived and loved here since the Sufis and traders of the eighth century, well before Khilji and other conquering kings.
It is now my belief that 'communalism' is only an assertion of the caste hierarchy.
This hierarchy ordains that the circumstances of birth place limits on your worth as a human being, and define abilities deemed intrinsic.
It instructs that if you know someone's caste – or religion, or sex – you can also predict other things about them.
Those on top – by virtue of their guns, money or society's word – are exempt from this calculation.
They are casteless, and have the power to step into anyone's shoes, to know every truth, and represent the universe.
In short the criminal demolition of the Babri monument woke me to the long recorded history of the brahman/ shaman contest in the Indian subcontinent.
Unfortunately history, or the scientific investigation of past conditions, is not alive to the orthodox.
For instance Hindutva must ignore or struggle to incorporate the Harappan civilisation, or tens of thousands of years of prehistory which prove false the claim that 'Hindus' were the first or ‘best’ human beings to arrive in what is now India.
According to this orthodoxy, caste and religion are in our blood.
Such thinking does not extend to sex – we are sorted into male or female even though we are all half man, half woman, in our genes or DNA, or whatever will come next.
Rather like class in British society or race in the Americas, caste cannot be overcome in the eyes of the casteist.
In his dialogues with King Milinda, the Buddha famously asks why in the northwest of India, a dasa can become an arya and vice versa, whereas this is not possible in Milinda's realm.
Even today, Indian intellectuals who are disproportionately Brahmin and claim to be the descendants of slaveholders, want only to talk about disparities in money income.
Not how many generations of land or property ownership, or the education, urbanisation and professional caste networks derived from these, or the surname complex, or their own caste consciousness and racial pride, or the God and Money superstition, or their Islamophobia even unto China, their vain policing of English, or the countless other urban snobberies which continue to have real, material consequences.
It woke me to the Left Right delusion, which asserts that humanity is divided 50-50, that it takes two legs to march forward, that both hands are controlled by the same mind.
Humiliation and dispossession.
The communal riot only makes this mechanism violent and immediate.