Here is a book that offers something new and stimulating, and it matters little if you are already acquainted with the scholarship around Babasaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar or not. Sharmila Rege, well known for her collection of ‘testimonies’ by Dalit women and her writings on caste and gender, has gleaned from the huge corpus that now constitutes Ambedkar’s legacy a selection of his writings, which she has ably introduced and commented on.
While the figure of Ambedkar has burst forth in public life across the country in the last two decades, his writings have been rather slow in finding their place, whether in movements or academe. And as Sharmila Rege points out, his thinking on gender has been engaged with the least, which is what she has sought to rectify in this volume. She argues convincingly in the introduction that feminists must reclaim Ambedkar. He already enjoys a huge following in popular culture in Maharashtra, one in which posters, music and pamphlets bring out his life and work in ways that she finds both “confusing and diverse”. Some feminist scholars have rediscovered the centrality of caste for understanding gender discrimination since the 1990s, as in studies of the non-Brahmin movement, or in the historical emergence of “Brahminical patriarchy” in early India. Ambedkar himself was, as the writings included in this volume amply attest, deeply convinced that the subordination of women was an essential facet of the creation of a caste system, and it is a failing that current scholarship and anthologies on his work have not brought this out.
(Mary E. John is senior fellow at the Centre for Women’s Development Studies, New Delhi. Her recent publication is Women’s Studies in India: A Reader)
This is about Mary E. John's review of the book Against the Madness of Manu (Manu, Flaw-Giver, July 8). An Indian scholar who writes a commentary in the 21st century on the ‘caste’ system (instead of using the right Indian classifications), is already not a scholar to my mind, but just a data-collection sepoy.
Santosh Gairola, Taiwan
No law is perfect. The laws that Manu gave pertain to those times. No sane, modern Hindu wants these laws to form the basis of modern law. The very fact that Hindus have evolved, and survived, from the days of Manu, using and modifying the same laws, is a testimony to the man’s greatness, isn’t it? Point is, if Manu’s laws had been as monolithic and rigid as the Sharia, you wouldn’t have had people writing against him today!
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
>> I hope you don't talk like such a retard on a career day at your kid's school otherwise they will have invent a daddy next time
Seems like he dropped his brain in the commode during his last visit there. Must have gotten loose from all my ass kickings. Don't worry, you didn't lose much.
Worse, his kids are petitioning me to represent them at their school. They feel embarrassed at being represented by a logically challenged moron, who gives up even the pretensions of making an argument after losing one badly, and resorts to insults, but is bad even at that.
I hope you don't talk like such a retard on a career day at your kid's school otherwise they will have invent a daddy next time.
>> In that particularly infamous example, shall we say perpetrators were NOT from "these social groups"?
No. At least I don't know the "social group" of three perpetrators. Do you?
More interestingly, contrary to what the quota wallahs try to propagate, here we have a case of a Brahmin, Thakur, Baniya, Muslim, and two guys whose "social group" is as yet unknown, "hanging out" and indulging in crimes together. Per the quota wallahs, this just doesn't happen. These guys must have been sickular.
>> You really are dense.
I can understand your frustration. You just had your ass kicked badly, and are feeling sore all over. Rest it over the weekend. If you are up to it, I shall kick it again.
>> Zip up
No way. I'm having too much fun kicking your ass.
>> your competence is showing.
As evidenced by your sore ass. Add to it the fact that you don't challenge my statements by facts or logic, but instead try to narrow down potentially millions of cases to one, with the sole aim of spreading hate against some "social groups". Altogether, it can be safely assumed that you are an idiot, who was incompetent to get into a good school on merit, and had to wave his caste certificate to deprive someone more deserving.
>> I pity the people who have to deal with you 24/7. They probably wish you just stayed in the exam hall; forever.
Just because you spent more time in exam hall than others, flunking and repeating courses to somehow pass, doesn't mean others spent more time there. Get over your hate now. Enjoy the nice San Diego weather over the weekend, and rest your sore ass.
>> but "jiska koi nahi uska to .." oh well, Manu hai yaron ...
For over 80% of the folks, who make India the fourth most dangerous place for women, does the original song
"jiska koi nahi uska to khuda hai yaron"
>>these poor guys
you should donate to their legal defense fund
>>Given that over 80% of our population consists of OBC/SC/ST/minorities, and the fact that most crimes against women are committed by near ones (often family), isn't it logical to say that most of these crimes are committed by "these social groups"
In that particularly infamous example, shall we say perpetrators were NOT from "these social groups"?
You really are dense. Zip up, your competence is showing. I pity the people who have to deal with you 24/7. They probably wish you just stayed in the exam hall; forever.
but "jiska koi nahi uska to .." oh well, Manu hai yaron ...
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