G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

Shel Silverstein : “Talked my head off Worked my tail off Cried my eyes out Walked my feet off Sang my heart out So you see, There’s really not much left of me.” ~

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

When will India Get National Museum of History and Culture of Dalits?

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati has asked Dalits to “never forgive” the Congress for its anti-dalit stance. (Asian Age April 15, 2008).

It’s obvious “Congress” here is euphemism for upper caste Hindus.

“…In fact, the Congress played a very dirty game with Dr Ambedkar when its leaders tried to foil the election of Dr Ambedkar to the Constituent Assembly by giving away a part of Bengal (that had elected Dr Ambedkar) to Pakistan. By doing so, Dr Ambedkar would have ended up as member of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly. However, when Dr Ambedkar apprised the British of this gameplan, they (British) asked the Congress to include Dr Ambedkar in the Indian Constituent Assembly and finally the Congress had to agree…”

This indeed is a very grave charge, as grave as 19th century Mahatma Phule’s stated preference for the British Raj over the tyranny of Brahmin Peshwa’s rule. (One should read Phule's book to begin to comprehend the extent of decay in Maharashtra.)

My mother-in-law’s maternal uncle (Sarang Chapalgaonkar) once explained to me that Dalits in Pune were not allowed to construct houses in certain directions of the city because the upper-caste people didn’t want to breath air coming from that side!

ROGER COHEN wrote: “Why has the U.S. produced a magnificent Holocaust Memorial Museum before opening an institution of equivalent stature dedicated to slavery and segregation?” (NYT April 17, 2008)

“…Why, I wondered as I viewed the exhibit, does the Holocaust, a German crime, hold pride of place over U.S. lynchings in American memorialization? …

…But I do think some psychological displacement is at work when a magnificent Holocaust Memorial Museum, in which the criminals are not Americans, precedes a Washington institution of equivalent stature dedicated to the saga of national violence that is slavery and segregation…

… The truth can be brutal, but flight from it even more devastating…

…“The Holocaust is a horribly difficult subject, but the bad guys are not Americans,” Lonnie Bunch, the museum’s director, told me. “Race, however, is the quintessential American story and one that calls into question how America defines itself and how we, as Americans, accept our own culpability.”..


India needs National Museum of History and Culture of Dalits where the challenge will be to express not only the lynching and other atrocities against the Dalits, but also the resiliency and spirituality of their tribe that are part of the core Indian identity.


Artist: Robert Minter The New Yorker 25 April 1970

3 comments:

Chetan said...

I have been baffled completely by lack of understanding by so called middle class Indians, read 'upper caste Indians,' about how caste privileges have benefited them in so many ways. They are oblivious to the knowledge of how their identity is dependent on the pride they draw from the history, written by historians from their caste backgrounds who, consciously or unconsciously, have obliterated or at least avoided mentioning the histories of the majority of Indians from castes other than their own.

Just imagine someone being born in a Bhangi jati and trying to take pride about his/her identity even when most educated Indians use the term Bhangi as a pejorative. Having no recourse to any historical mention of their castes or contributions of their forefathers to any significant event mentioned in the history books, how insecure might they be feeling!

It is truly incumbent on the State, and I do see a glimmer of hope with so many people from downtrodden communities being members of parliament now, to have museums and give research funding to studies documenting the knowledge systems, history and culture of these communities.

While sounding like a typical NRI I am wont to compare this to the Smithsonian museums in DC which have so beautifully documented so many artifacts of such short history of this country.

At the same time I am very reluctant, in fact a bit embarrassed and a little guilty as well, to blame everything on the middle class and conservatives in the society. After having read a lot of conservative view points articulated by many scholars in this country, I suddenly find my views being very condescending as well as elitist and smug. Sort of trying to feel self-important by feeling guilty about so many society's 'victims' that I have identified using an abstract progressive viewpoint which constantly keeps on changing owing to my belief in relative morality.

Without meaning to be condescending and with utmost respect towards you, I would like to ask you an honest question and hope that you would be able to address it. I have observed you writing about the guilt you feel about so many things around you. I have seen you (no offense meant) address economic issues with a leftist bent which after studying economics over the years I have discarded as 'good intentions, bad outcomes.' My question is how do you reconcile with the fact that many of the demands of left-liberals are self-contradictory in implementation. (For instance, just to take a trivial example, it is impractical to expect raising living standards to millions of poor around the world and at the same time singing paeans about non-materialism and environmentalism.)

You have previously answered similar questions with a dismissive sounding 'I do no know the answer to complex questions' kind of a response. I hope this time round you would at least address a couple of issues if not all in this comment, since I am really anguished about plausible sounding attack about condescension by left-liberals and about contradictory demands we place on the society as a result of policies which we prefer due to our amorphous, fluid and abstract ideas regarding how the society should be ideally.

aniruddha g. kulkarni said...

I don't feel any offence at whatever any one says to blog.

I have my views. You have yours. Mine may change over a period of time and so do yours.

When I say I don't know. It's not dismissive. It's a matter of fact. I am attempting to present a view point with my limited knowldge at a point in history.

What you see contradictory/ condescending et al, I don't see it that way at all.

It's possible to create a better society in India without calling processes required as left or right etc.

Finally guilt , and I feel very strongly about many things I see around me, does not leave that easily. Ask Freud!

harini calamur said...

It's such a simple and elegant idea --
coincidently, i was talking to someone just the other week about a oral history of various castes and tribes -- recorded on mini dv and just shown. The diversity of experiences; the history of discrimination and the history of survival will make for an interesting collection.

I only wonder if the ruling elite is mature enough to let this happen