Savarna India Under Permanent Siege: An Excerpt From "Hatred in the Belly"

29 May 2016

Hatred in the Belly: Politics behind the appropriation of Dr Ambedkar’s writings is a collection of essays by writers, academics, students and activists, who are referred to as the Ambedkar Age Collective in the book. The book comprises essays, speeches, and writing that emerged as spontaneous reactions to an edition of BR Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste that was released in 2014 by the publishing house Navayana. The writer Arundhati Roy had written an introduction to the book titled, “The Doctor and the Saint.” In the introduction, Roy discussed the ideological battle between Ambedkar and Mohandas Gandhi (In its March 2014 issue, this magazine carried an excerpt from Roy's introduction). The launch of the Navayana edition was met with severe criticism from many quarters of the Dalit-Bahujan community. The discourse that it initiated, the Collective wrote, was a “glimpse of the ways through which the marginalised resist continued attempts made at hegemonising their knowledge and lives by the brahminic oppressors irrespective of their political leanings.” The title of the book, “hatred in the belly,” is a Telegu phrase (ka dapulo kasi). The poet Joopaku Subhadra had employed it in a speech criticising the Navayana edition.

The following essay, titled ‘Savarna India under permanent siege,’ was written by the activist Anoop Kumar. In the essay, Kumar writes about a temple in Baddi, a village in Bihar’s Rohtas district, dedicated to Ravidas, who is revered in the Dalit community. He elaborates why the struggle faced by the Dalit villagers to build and maintain the temple is emblematic of the Dalit-Bahujan response to the Navayana edition.

I, Ravidas, proclaim all Vedas are worthless. ~ Sant Ravidas.

Nishan Singh was a freedom fighter, who fought against the British to gain freedom for the country and was martyred. A Rajput whose memory must be cherished, his life celebrated. Therefore, we have statues, a memorial, a school, and other government buildings named after him in Baddi, his village in Bihar’s Rohtas district. A village of very prosperous Rajput landlords—many among them are now doctors, engineers and teachers posted in neighbouring big cities but are quite steadfast in maintaining their linkages with the village. They regularly visit to take care of their lands, dispense justice to the local people, and regulate the activities run in and around the village for cherishing the memory of the slain freedom fighter.

It is a village of patriots. Every year on Independence Day, Rajputs hoist the tricolour, take out a rally, fire guns, and sing praises of Nishan Singh and the country. The completely landless and impoverished Dalits are patriots too. They also hoist the tricolour. At least they try to.

Anoop Kumar is the founder member of Insight Foundation, New Delhi.

Keywords: caste Arundhati Roy Dalit BR Ambedkar Ravidas Navayana Annihilation of Caste Rajput Hatred in the Belly Bahujan Baddi