Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Madness & Fury of Communalism and Free Market; And the 'why and how' of our Cultural Revolt against it: Part II

Jayant Pawar


 13th Vidrohi Sahitya Sammelan, Buldhana, Maharashtra
Whom to revolt against? And, how-

After elaborating so much on the present situation, the next question is: whom to revolt against? Well, of course, against the cultural nationalism. Because, in the end, this kind of nationalism gives birth and nourishes fundamentalism. We have already witnessed how Islamic nationalism eventually led to forces like Taliban and their gruesome acts of terror. At the same time, it is amply clear how United States supported Taliban’s activities militarily, financially and otherwise. This simply proves our hypothesis that US sponsored capitalist nationalism and religious- cultural revivalism, fundamentalism are not against each other. Further, alliance of these two can very well take place over here as well. Hence we desperately need to go beyond all symbolic protests; all tokenism and call spade a spade- we need to revolt against this particular unholy ‘alliance’ as such.

But wait! I am perplexed over how to revolt and against whom? Because, the threat of cultural nationalist forces we are facing today, are rampant thanks to their active foot soldiers- which comprise mainly the Bahujan samaj, the working people. Brahminical, hierarchical, domineering values have infested them. It is this large stratum of populace which actively supported BJP’s ascent to power in 2014. The bahujans were at the forefront of the recent riots and violence. One witnesses both facets of exploiter and exploited in the bahujans of India today. In these times, I am confronted with tricky and grave questions like how to interpret the dictum of ‘Bahujan hitay, bahujan sukhay’ (for the greater common good of the common people) and how to construct ‘bahujanvad’, a coherent, progressive thought as ideology of the common people.

Maharishi Vitthal Ramji Shinde established ‘Bahujan Party’ on 1st September 1920 and released its manifesto. He used the term ‘Bahujan’ in political sense for the first time. While defining the term, he categorized the people of this country into two sections- one section which is with access to all means of education, wealth and power; and the other, which remained deprived of the access to them and hence remained backward. He called the latter as ‘bahujan’. In a sense, he clarified the distinction between classes and masses. In those times, it was the upper castes which had concentrated power, education and wealth. Hence, it was quite clear to which section Maharishi Shinde was referring to as ‘bahujan’. Still, he refused to define it in caste and religious terms. He has included farmers, soldiers, carpenters, goldsmith, gardeners, milkmen, small traders, balladeers, midwife, laborers, untouchables and women. He clearly stated that any person or group of persons can join ‘Bahujan Party’; however, he put a condition that the interests of the party and people willing to join should match.

However, later on after him, the term ‘bahujan’ has been more often used to imply ‘non-brahmins’. Right from Y.B. Chavan to Kanshiram- Mayawati and present leaders, everyone has adopted it to mean as ‘non-brahmin’. Shinde’s ‘Bahujan Party’ was a political move. Even afterwards, everyone approached ‘bahujan’ as a nomenclature for bahujan politics. Shinde’s politics had the motive of improvement of material conditions of bahujan, downtrodden lives. It stayed same more or less even later; however, the broad concept of bahujan suffered several setbacks and it was reduced to an amalgam of several caste groups. Implementation of Mandal commission recommendations meant growing social consciousness for several castes, enabling their distinct identity and voice was a positive, democratic event. However, this consciousness came with politics of maneuver for power which led to anomalies of casteist hatred and what we are witnessing now is a sorry state of fissures- middle castes separated, OBCs are different, tribals separate, dalits different; it is a sad affair and a mockery of that grand scheme originally implied in the term ‘bahujan’. Now how this fragmented society would come together again is the moot question today.

We should actually go back to Shinde’s definition of bahujan. However, there is a difficulty today. We cannot simply divide between the powerful and powerless merely on the basis of caste. It is because many in the bahujans have power of education, wealth and rights. Teachers, middle peasantry, traders, theatre artists are no longer downtrodden as they were in Shinde’s times. Rather, they are rapidly going over to ‘Abhijan’ category of powerful, the ‘haves’ in the society. The middle class which is trying to cut its umbilical cord from the poor and working class in its attempt for upward mobility; includes people from all castes and they are all surrendering to cultural nationalism.

So then, whom to revolt against and how? The answer is revolt against self! Rebellion is spontaneous; however, revolution is a continuous long drawn process. This is because it doesn’t just seek to change the system but also the value system upon which the system is based. If it is taken into account, then one would realize that the revolt has to begin against oneself. The society torn between several castes, sub-castes has now sunk to the level of hatred of each other. With globalization rendering the ‘market’ as the focal point of all social transactions, everyone is trying to fetch the highest value. Once market becomes the only value system, the selfishness becomes inevitable. The competition naturally turns into hatred and leads to violence. False identities are born and fostered. The castes hating each other don’t stop at the level of castes. They get torn apart from within. Several sub-castes try to outdo each other in this strife. This is our reality for hundreds of years. But this hierarchical domineering is turning into an insanity of manic proportions. Even in 21st century today, the caste panchayats of bahujans are cementing the walls of caste in unprecedented manner, they are exploiting the poor and powerless from their community itself and excommunicate those who refuse to surrender. Why the bahujan literature doesn’t dare to portray this horrifying reality? There are exceptions like Asaram Lomate who depicts the internal politics and exploitation at the level of caste. But I haven’t come across any Dalit literature elaborating upon the exploitation by caste panchayats. Today, the girls from bahujan samaj have to face a horrific reality of patriarchy on every corner, day in day out. From public toilets to schools, the male gaze and violence is constantly follows them. The young men stalking them are bahujan only. If we remain silent and see with open eyes the violence being done within our homes to our mothers and sisters and not utter a word against; do we have any right to raise our voice against the injustice meted out in the world?  Today, the doctors committing female feticide are from bahujans. The government officials, who mismanage funds of packages for tribals and farmers, are from bahujans. And they have no shame nor sorrow that they are enjoying at the expense of their brethen.

We try to seek root of our sorrows outside. Once an enemy outside is projected, a system of exploitation is imagined; then our task is easy. Our battle is easy. Alas, the reality is far too different. The binary that projects term Hindu as regressive and rejection of the term ‘Hindu’ is progressive, is not  just simplistic but also false and dangerous. The politicians who keep swearing by the names of Phule, Shahu and Ambedkar; what transformations have they brought? By just claiming legacy of revolutionaries and progressive emancipators, reformers; one doesn’t become progressive. What are doing of that legacy is more important. I sometimes wonder that whether our simplistic definitions of such concepts are responsible for the perilous situation we find ourselves in. The reality is far too complex today. Be it the massacres at Khairlanji, Sonai, Kharda, Javkheda or murder of Muslim youth in Hadapsar; the tone and tenor of the pamphlets, agitations, articles was such that it is humanity that has been murdered. But how many people thought that it is part of me that has been murdered? It is our strange bearing that humanity is kind of a thing which exists independent of me and is something sacred. But once we realize that I am the one who has been murdered and also, I am the one who has committed it; both these things can very well co-exist within me, my surrounding society; then nothing remains so simple and simplistic. Our demand that the accused should be identified and arrested immediately is very much a justified demand; however, it doesn’t address the root cause.

This is not to say that there is no system which exploits the powerless and downtrodden. There definitely is. It continuously works at a macro level. We should definitely track its mechanisms. But it is equally true that the system creates new exploiters from the exploited section itself. It rather creates a chain of exploitation. Therefore it becomes increasingly difficult to name it, to track it thoroughly. You put traps for yourself and hunt the ones trapped. How to remove these traps? These obstacles? It becomes a difficult undertaking. Poet Yashwant has aptly described this:

जेलर आता शांतपणे झोपी गेलाय
आणि कैदी एकमेकांवर नजर ठेवून आहेत.
(now the jailer has slept in peace; and the prisoners are keeping watch on each other)

Towards Bahujan culturalism

To overcome these obstacles in our endeavor to go back to Maharishi Shinde’s definition of ‘bahujan’; it is his qualifying condition only which can serve our purpose better. He says, people of any caste, religion, country can join our party. Only their and our party’s interests should be same. Today, we need to transcend the politics of power and government and strengthen the foundations of cultural politics. Hence we should replace Shinde’s usage of ‘same interests’ by the word ‘bahujan culturalism’. 

Bahujan culture is in contradiction with abhijan (elite) culture and its values are different than the latter. The culture of elites professes Brahminical values of caste, race, religious supremacy, and patriarchy. There is always a demeanor of born supremacy in elite culture which stems from its belief that since it dictates the value systems of the society, it alone can shape the direction of the nation. Hence it propagates varna system, ritualistic culture. It creates its own standards right from grammar of language to lifestyle. It dictates these standards forcibly upon the non-elites i.e. bahujans. It establishes its hegemony which leads to a ‘common sense’ acceptance of these values by even the bahujans. Then, the artists, writes and other creative enterprising people in bahujans start thinking their arts, writing, other walks of life in terms of the elites’ values and standards. This creates an inferiority complex regarding their own language, arts, lifestyle etc. and process of homogenization gains pace at the cost of bahujan culture. Elite culture is based on ‘mantra’ (spell) whereas bahujan culture is founded upon labor. Bhalchandra Nemade clearly spells out this distinction in his recent novel ‘Hindu’ (which depicts the bahujan sensibilities) where the protagonist Khanderao states regarding the massive changes after Aryan invasion: ‘after the fall of our Indus river culture, language became sovereign in the sub-continent as well as rest of the world. Without chanting hymns, even birth is not established and marriage doesn’t become a social institution and if last rites are performed without the hymns, then you would turn ghosts. This is how the autonomous self-sufficient agrarian culture which gave primacy and central importance to labor; vanished gradually’. Comrade Sharad Patil recognized this sensibility in the novel and hence supported it. Com. Patil has made a clear distinction between Brahminical and Non-brahminical worldview and aesthetics. If we are to reject the notions of hierarchy based on birth, then even the term bahujan shouldn’t be merely an amalgam of castes based on birth. If a person born in Brahmin or any other upper caste is accepting bahujan culture and values, is rejecting the non-egalitarian Brahminical values, and openly proclaiming and practicing likewise; he/ she can very well be bahujan. This is because; bahujan culture is founded on egalitarian values. It accepts the framework of our constitution and respects all cultures in equal manner. It accepts Freedom, equality, fraternity as three cardinal principles and necessity of struggle against all kinds of exploitation. It respects women and their freedom. In short, it respects right of its every constituent sub-culture to express, articulate, perform. The person who accepts this ‘bahujan sensibility’ is ‘bahujan’. 

If we accept the term ‘bahujan’ in this sense, then we will realize that along with the battle in the street, what is required is a cultural renaissance and reform. First, if we are to battle with ourselves, revolt against ourselves; then it’s imperative to seek and weed out the ‘elites’ and elite tendencies within bahujans today. In the process, many will have to do away with their arrogance and pride over their clan, hereditary legacy etc. etc. This notion of genetic legacy and pride built around its purity or class, this notion itself is founded on misguided notions of ‘purity’ of woman and it insults and exploits women. Second, our manner of protest can prove counterproductive. NCERT textbook printed a cartoon deriding Dr. Ambedkar. Hence Prof. Suhas Palshikar’s office was vandalized due to insult of Dr. Ambedkar. Perhaps, this anger is justified. However, through such acts of vandalism, we consequently provide legitimacy to elitist, class actions to suppress the voice of the oppressed and in a way; make mockery of that powerful weapon called ‘freedom of expression’ which Dr. Ambedkar ensured for the oppressed through constitution.

Till now, there have been many people from ‘bahujans’ who gained power and were part of government at various levels; however, barring Y.B. Chavan, none of them could properly understand and appreciate the meaning and worth of ‘bahujan culturalism’. Therefore, it led to an ironical situation where the rulers were bahujans but the ruling values of elites and upper castes, classes remained steadfastly intact. This resulted in corrupting the sense and sensibility of ‘bahujan’. Therefore, be it rule of any political party, the political, social practice merely reinforced the hierarchical, anti-egalitarian Brahminical elitist culture and infested all the social strata. States can definitely be captured through bullet or ballot; but they retain their dominance only by hegemonizing the culture. One should therefore appreciate the extent of threat cultural assault poses and thus strengthen the forces of reform and education. Those sections in bahujans which have gained access to education and public sphere such as intellectuals, doctors, teachers, engineers should participate in this struggle and take a stand openly. The kids who drop out of schools today are the children of tribals, dalits, small farmers, agricultural laborers, workers. To stop it, what measures, what actions the bahujan teachers are going to take? I must mention here the leading novelist in Marathi, Ramesh Ingale Utradkar, who himself is a teacher. His novel ‘Nishani Dava Angatha’ (Symbol Left Thumb) does a brilliant dissection of ills of education system and corrupt elements therein. I know a few more exceptions that are teachers- writers and are fighting back the system actively through their writing. However, a large section normally keeps mum over this unjust system of education which denies access to lower castes, classes. I would like to raise a similar question regarding the eerie silence over the incidences of casteist bullying, ragging in higher education institutions like IIMs and IITs. Whether the intellectuals and highly education bahujans will ever protest openly against these? The lowly treatment meted out to lower castes and poor in the government hospitals, the insults and denial of treatment even- are our bahujan doctors going to remain silent about it? Or are they merely going to set up private hospitals and turn them into looting shops sucking the blood and money of poor and downtrodden? Will the artists ever come together and raise their voice in unison against the attacks taking place on art expressions of bahujans? We talk of big moral values; but can’t we behave with each other with a least bit of humility and sense of humanity? Bertold Brecht’s famous play ‘Galileo’ has a brilliant quote: ‘the one who doesn’t know truth is a fool. However, the one who, despite knowing the truth, lies to hide it, is a criminal’. I believe it is important for us to remember and act accordingly. And certainly it is not at all necessary to raise voice only against the injustice taking place in one’s specific field. Those who are in position to voice out their anger, those who can lend their voice to collective anguish of the poor, downtrodden, victims of caste-class-gender assaults under this exploitative patriarchy, caste system and capitalism.

Hence bahujan culture is the only counter to the rising cultural nationalism, long endured and dominant caste- varna-religion hegemonic elite value system and culture as well as neo-feudalistic capitalist system. Our honorable friend Dr. Sadanand More has professed the need to establish ‘sarva-jan-vaad’ (ideology that comprises all people). It is a noble thought and should be welcomed. But at the same time, it is equally true that till the time ‘abhijan-vaad’ (elitism, Brahmanism) is persisting sarva-jan-vaad cannot be established. For this to happen, elitists will have to give up their monopolies and hegemonies over culture and economy. Till the time it doesn’t happen, bahujan-vaad will remain our position and bahujan values should be embraced by entire society will remain our motto. Only through this can we envision transition to sarva-jan-vaad.

Position of bahujan writers

In bahujan culturalism, it is the primary responsibility of writers to take the lead in the revolt against themselves. A bahujanvaadi writer is committed to notion of social responsibility; he accepts the importance of collectivity and its values. This is first sign of recognizing such writer. Therefore his topics and subjects typically move away from self towards the collective. Today, many writers are coming from lower castes, poor class. Many have enriched the bahujan literature through their works bahujan sensibility. Vidrohi cultural movement has proudly associated itself with them. However, this process has not worked so effectively from other side. I.e. many times, the writers find it awkward or inconvenient to associate themselves with the movement. They think it is kind of labeling them and thus limiting them. Many try to safeguard their autonomy. A writer doesn’t have the strength to fight out the battles on the street. Therefore he thinks that his writing is his political act. It is justified as well. However, at times, this action through writing alone proves insufficient in order to respond to social reality. And during challenging times, times of conflicts, when it is necessary to take open positions; if writers stay silent, it turns out to be surrender to regressive forces. Especially during recent past, there were regular instances when freedom of expression was under attack and leading intellectuals, writers who enjoyed respect in society, didn’t take any open stand which resulted in erosion of the moral pressure over regressive elements as well as the government. To build such moral pressure and force, one is ought to possess a vision for ‘welfare of greater commons’, to be aware fully about the bahujan culturalism. For this, it is necessary to remain associated with movements and agitations of people to fight injustice, to raise political and cultural consciousness among the masses, even if one is not able to actively participate, one should maintain a dialog, should have an open perspective towards these movements. This is duty of the writers today. It is only through such engagement that writers can enrich their social consciousness, improve their understanding of structures of exploitation and realize the importance of participating in cultural struggles. Rather, it assumes paramount importance for the writer in such circumstances to take position, fight back the cultural attack, and intervene against enforcement of regressive values. It is because these things spoil further the prospects of the egalitarian utopian vision such writer possesses.

Of course, the interface and cooperation between movements and writers should not extend beyond this, and writers should rather go deeper into the reality. This is because of the several inherent limitations movements face to mitigate contradictions. However, writer is alone. He should remain faithful to the truth, to the sensibilities, and the experiences while arranging them aesthetically. Here he has to give up the pressures and fears imposed by relatives, society, social norms, and ideologies. Then only can he reach closer to the truth experienced. Sometimes he has to become brave to refuse oneself and one’s previous positions and views. Comrade Sharad Patil is one such glowing example with us. He consistently and ruthlessly reviewed and revised his views, positions in theoretical writing.

This is easy to advise but difficult to practice. I understand this dilemma. Especially new bahujan writers will certainly find it tough. This is because we typically write about the collective, and through commitment to collective cause. Therefore, often, our writing is about collective and their exploitation, their battles etc. This certainly makes for portrayal of an exciting and enduring fight of common people. But this is a one sided view for writing. In order to think of life in comprehensive manner, it is necessary to think of individual as well. As much there are conflicts between different individuals or different social groups; there is always a tension, a tussle between individual and social group. Every individual in itself comprises of a universe laden with several inherent contradictions. At times, the dynamic of the social group and that of the individual are in direct contradiction to each other. And they lead to several intricate situations of life. It is not the responsibility of a writer to resolve them. Rather, it is his responsibility to acknowledge them, their causes and capture them in such a manner so as to broaden the horizons of the readers, to provide them with new insights of life. Writers should not try to resolve the social ills; rather they should dissect the exploitative system working behind and lay bare its modalities and facets of exploitation.

Right vision, compassion and cruelty                       

A writer will have to first wage a battle with self to seek truth. Any good literature begins with self-criticism. A good writer shall have to develop a right vision, a right perspective to witness inherent contradictions of one’s own life, the exploiters and exploited within, our compassionate as well as cruel sides which almost seem to co-exist; and then will have to rigorously construct suitable narrative structure. A human being is comprised of good and bad things simultaneously. Black and white binaries aren’t useful here. If a writer tracks how these contradictions develop, how they manifest, and how that leads to tragedies and conflicts in life; then he will not really need to make separate efforts to demonstrate social commitment. Of course, he should have a social awareness. An individualistic, idealist literature will not possess the bahujan sensibility. I will give an example of renowned Hindi poet Vinodkumar Shukla’s one poem: In this poem, the poet travels a long way to a village of his relatives. Seeing him, all gather around and keep discussing about his village, weather, rains, and crops. A long time passes by. The poet also keeps answering their questions. The poem ends like this: ‘in this entire gossip, it just missed the poet’s mind to inform them about his father’s death’.

I want to draw your attention to oft-quoted and misunderstood statement that a writer should be compassionate. Now, it is true that every writer should have a broad humanistic compassionate world view. However, he should use it with abundant caution while writing. Rather, he should be ruthless while writing. Compassion should remain as a backdrop and shouldn’t be visible distinctly in writing. Otherwise, this regular demonstration of compassion turns into sympathy. It leads to one-sidedness on writer’s part when he is dealing with exploitation and its manifestations. It is the biggest hurdle for a literary work to turn into masterpiece. Writer should definitely have what Nemade calls as ‘animal instinct’. Writer should be ruthless and cruel while writing and putting forth the truth. Only if he writes with such ruthlessness, his work can generate compassion in the readers. Ultimately, a true literature aims to make the reader take a compassionate view and thus broaden his horizons. I don’t find anybody comparable in Marathi to Bhau Padhye, the great story- novel writer, in this regard.

I want to dispel another misconception that our commitment ought to be to content; not to the form because the content is powerful, so vast that there is no need to separately reflect over the matters of form. This is simply not true. If we are having a proper foundation of values and worldviews along with ability to see through life; then it is certainly true that our narrative will be full of content. But it is equally important how it is narrated as much as what is narrated- not just today but it always has been the case. Any product of art should have aesthetic value and the producer should be aware of its aesthetic. At times, the stories are the same, but they are narrated in different manner and received and interpreted in different manner. It is very important which aspect you highlight, how you interpret the reality. The oppressed society has always had this skill of multiple narrations of stories. This is because only through this story telling, the society could imaginatively fill details of life in order to create anti-reality, could create a fictional universe of its own. The great Indian stories literature has evolved through this great art of imagining a reality which transcends the present real.  The origin of this story literature lay in tribes. One way to come out of the present trap in which bahujan literature finds itself, is through search of the tribal literature. The kind of illustration of human life, its facets and complex dilemmas as depicted through tribal literature, are rarely encountered even in modern literature. Even Ramayana and Mahabharata owe their origin to oral tradition of literature. Its diversity is a worthy proof of the same. Ramanujan’s essay ‘Three Hundred Ramayanas’ is instructive in that sense. We should continue to collect tribal stories, should edit and update them. We should support those who are carrying out this task. My favorite Italian story-writer Italo Calvino and great Rajasthani writer Vijaydan Detha spent their life in collecting the tribals’ stories. This in fact marks the worth of this task. I realize the importance of tribals stories in another sense. It is because this literature thinks of entire environment, world. In modern times of industrialization, a human-centric thought of universe became predominant and everyone proclaimed that ‘man is the ultimate truth’. However, I find this inadequate especially in today’s times. This is because, the selfish destruction of environment which has led to environmental disaster; it is the strata with least nuisance value, least power which will be getting destroyed. Man is inherently linked to environment and hence to save humanity, we need to go back to environment while developing a bahujan sense.

Thoughts about myths

While developing a bahujan sensibility, it is the first step to recognize what is elitist sensibility and Brahminical value culture. One of the reasons a particular culture is able to establish its hegemony is because of its ability to successfully weave myths. Myth is such a weapon in politics which penetrates deeply within psyche without any bloodshed. The Brahminical value system and elitist culture which is predominant today was also propagated in same fashion. The old puranical tales, popular tales was deployed to construct myths by Vaidik tradition and were enforced upon us in impressionable age of childhood. Senior respected intellectual Dr. A.H. Salunnkhe has consistently done the decoding of myths and their origins in order to expose this politics of culture. He has traced the origins of these myths, these tales and this original form is in a sense, a productive raw material for our new literature. Using these, we can definitely produce plays or new stories. Right from Mahatma Phule, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar to Vishwanath Khaire, many have deconstructed the Hindu myths. Present writers should consider these materials to destroy the foundations of exploitative value system. Further, they should use their imagination to construct narratives which profess new values. Not only literature, these materials can be a good source for even the theatre as well as cinema. Playwright Sanjay Pawar, in his play ‘Kon Mhanata Takka Dila’, has given a new, different dimension to the story of Kach- Devyani to sharply critique the caste system in the context of the Mandal commission. Before I conclude this rather stretched narration, let me elaborate upon senior story writer Vilas Sarang’s story ‘Eklavya’:  it is interesting to note how Vilas Sarang has produced a new myth through the story of Eklavya. As per the conventional story, Dronacharya asks for Eklavya’s thumb as consideration for his tutorial services. Eklavya cuts his thumb and gives it to him. Dronacharya goes away with delight thinking that he has finished a great challenger to Arjuna. However, in few days, he comes to know that Eklavya has challenged Arjuna to a duel. The venue is fixed as one plain inside the forest. Both Arjuna and Eklavya stand in front of each other. Everybody laughs looking at the bow hanging in Eklavya’s four fingers. Arjun releases the bowstring and the arrow travels like wind. However, suddenly Eklavya drops his bow, takes our AK-47 rifle and pulls the trigger. You don’t need a thumb to pull the trigger. Before the arrow of Arjuna could reach him, Eklavya’s bullets hit him. Arjuna is dead. Dronacharya starts shouting ‘not fair, not fair, this is Adharma’. Then Eklavya quips, ‘my  Adharma is better than your Dharma, your so-called righteousness’. And then he disappears in the woods like Clint Eastwood or our Sunny Deol hanging the bow around. A Dalit story writer Eklavya Kamble, writes this story. He becomes a recognized and celebrated author by publishing collection of such stories. Then he takes up an ambitious project of writing ‘Varnashram-Dharma-rahasya’ (the secrets of varna system and religion). Maharishi Vyas in heaven comes to know of this project. ‘how dare this fellow blemish the Varna system? He will have to pay the price’ says he and in order to stifle this project, challenges Eklavya Kamble to update the entire Mahabharata- with a condition that he should not stop in between, just like Lord Ganesha. Eklavya Kamble takes up the challenge, writes ceaselessly. However, afterwards, his thumb starts paining. The pain becomes unbearable. He stops writing. As the agreement is broken, Vyas throws away the papers of this project in the vacuum in the space. Kamble is disappointed. However, after few days, he realizes that one can do typewriting without the thumb. He gets the typewriter. However, it has English keyboard. Marathi keyboard had not been developed till then. Then he learns English. It is not that he becomes proficient with it, however, he writes in his own way and develops own style and writes the stories of the downtrodden on the typewriter. The English literary world isn’t aware of Dalit literature till then. Kamble’s work gets noticed and he again is recognized and his work is well received and appreciated. Thus, once again, this Eklavya beats Vyas and Brahminical, elitist system.


I believe that the revolt born in this story pertains to new sensibilities, today’s sensibilities. Sarang’s message is clear through this story: Howsoever you may try to crush us, deploy new and cunning means; the coming new age will continue to provide us with new weapons and we will surely overcome you. Friends, I put forth the need of a rebellious literature of bahujan culturalism through my entire address. But let me reiterate: the primary aim of this new literature would be to target the darkness within all of us and which engulfs us from all sides. ‘अभिव्यक्ती के सारे खतरे उठाने होंगे, तोडने होंगे मठ और गढ सब’ (we will have to take all the risks associated with expression and break all old shackles) the verses of Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh is the slogan of Vidrohi cultural movement. Therefore in order to dispel the darkness around and within us, we will have to destroy all old shackles and fetters. Then only, we will be able to see clearly the distant manors and monasteries of the Brahminical order which really exploits us and enforces cultural slavery upon us. To reach there, this battle is inevitable. 


Jayant Pawar is a renowned story writer and dramatist in Marathi. His well known play 'Adhantar' is a tale about lives of textile workers in Mumbai in the backdrop of the failed textile strike of 1980s. He has been awarded with Sahitya Academy award in 2013 for his collection of stories 'Phoenixchya Rakhetun uthala Mor' (there arose a peacock from the ashes of Phoenix).Jayant Pawar, a journalist, currently works with Maharashtra Times. The speech was a Presidential address by him at Vidrohi Sahitya Sammelan at Buldhana, Maharashtra in January 2015. The original speech in Marathi is being translated by Rahul Vaidya and we are thankful that the speaker has kindly agreed to publish it in Vikalp.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are subject to moderation. It may take some time to appear in the blog.