Caste wins the Gold Medal

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

What is Indian culture? In a Marathi television soap-opera that I happened to be watching the other day, one Brahmin character talks to another about the importance of sanskaar (culture, or values); one of the examples offered of this sanskaar is having a bai (domestic worker) to wash your clothes, instead of a washing machine. It was a surprisingly accurate presentation of the Brahmanical understanding of culture—everybody in their traditional (i.e. caste-decided) and lowly-paid place.

 

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Ironies of history: October 14 and the Jains of Palitana

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

October 14 was the anniversary of the conversion of Dr Ambedkar and 5 million others, mainly Dalits, to Buddhism in 1956. And not the Buddhism of monastery-based ritualism, nor the self-focussed meditation so fashionable nowadays, but a socially revolutionary ideology committed to the struggle against caste. A Buddhism that is much closer to the original, if one goes by the works of scholars like the Kosambis, Kancha Ilaiah, Romila Thapar, and Ambedkar himself.

 

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