Monday, February 1, 2010

The Hindu : Life & Style / Society : War against ignorance

  • tags: no_tag

    Professor Kancha Ilaiah, author of
    • Author-activist Kancha Ilaiah talks of ways to rid India of the curse of casteism
    • Professor Kancha Ilaiah, author of "Post-Hindu India", in New Delhi. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt
    • The book, recently released by Sage Publications, traces the history of cultures that have remained below the radar, so to speak, simply because they were non-Brahmin. Not accepting these cultures in the mainstream due to the “nexus between the Kshatriyas and the Brahmins,” Ilaiah explains, “resulted in anti-production, which resulted in anti-science. That stultified our growth of science.”
    • “Here is a huge landmass of millions of people who don't have the right to spiritual equality and education,” says Ilaiah. Mahatma Gandhi was a “mediator,” feels Ilaiah. “Because of him the civil war didn't become severe all these years.” He feels the war of nerves may eventually reach weapons. “I am looking at the symptoms of the anger.”

      But he talks of solutions too. “Reform your texts, reform your history. Say leather is not untouchable to God, the barber's knife is not untouchable to God. Take a Dalit priest and a Brahmin priest to celebrations. Do these symbolic things. Let them (high-caste Hindus) come and sit with Dalits in their huts and eat with them.”

      Distinguishing between political Hindus (bodies like the RSS, VHP, etc.), the secular Hindus (Congress, the Communist parties, etc.) and religious Hindus of whom the Sankaracharyas are considered leaders, he says, “Let the Sankaracharyas declare that killing someone for an inter-caste marriage is a crime against God. It is not the legal thing which works.”

      As for legal recourse, he notes, “Reservation is not a solution for this problem. We also don't want reservation. We want equal education from the age of three to 18, availability of teachers and good infrastructure.”

      Eventually, “we should go for abolition of caste,” he says. But this goal can be reached gradually. “All of us should go towards dignity of labour. Let us put our hands in the soil. Let there be women Sankaracharyas.”

      He suggests we stop gloating over past glory — “We made pushpaka vimana” — without comparable competence today. “I'm proud of Amartya Sen,” he declares, “but I'm not proud of Radhakrishnan.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.