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‘Not just Right-wing, even liberal academics have biases against Dalit scholars’

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Author Kancha Ilaiah talks about how casteism exists across the spectrum; says some people started threatening him after Gauri Lankesh’s murder.

It’s not just the Right-wing, even Left and liberal academics have biases against PhD scholars from Dalit and Bahujan communities, said author Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, who is under attack after chapters from his controversial book Post-Hindu India (2009) were reprinted recently.

“Not just the BJP, even the Left and the liberals in academia do not select our PhDs. I experienced this. Some of them come with so-called ‘foreign degrees’. Now, what does this foreign degree do? If it creates knowledge, I should not have been an intellectual at all; I should not have written at all as I only studied up to Osmania. So, the problem cuts across all ideological forces and there is a clear caste collusion,” Ilaiah told ThePrint in a telephone interview.

No stranger to controversy, Ilaiah’s other works such as Why I am Not a Hindu and Buffalo Nationalism have critiqued the caste system and what he calls, “spiritual fascism”. The republished chapters from Post-Hindu India have drawn criticism from a section, which objected to the text referring to the Banias (Vaishya) as “social smugglers”. Even Telugu Desam Party leader T.G. Venkatesh has called for a ‘fatwa’ against Ilaiah.

Unfazed by such threats, the Hyderabad-based academic said, “Arya-Vysyas are linked to the biggest trade communities — from village markets to the Ambanis and Adanis. They are connected all over. Even in Andhra Pradesh, one of the richest people, G.M. Rao, is from that community. So a rich community, is coming to the streets, burning my effigies, tearing photos. How did they develop this culture, I don’t know.”

Written after the UPA government pushed for reservations in the private sector, Post-Hindu India explains how labour from the marginalised castes — Adivasi, Dalits and Bahujans — gets appropriated by dominant castes.

“Assume that Brahmins-Banias-Jains form a nation, while the rest of us form another nation. Which nation will survive better? Ours! Because we’re agricultural producers; we know how to rear animals, what to grow, etc. Right now their economy isn’t infiltrating our borders, whereas goods and commodities that our caste-communities produce through agrarian and artisanal work are entering their borders,” said Ilaiah.

“Our labour is exploited by them. Look at which castes are producing wealth, but which castes have actually accumulated it. Smuggling refers to illegally taking a nation’s produced wealth out of its borders. This is what I meant by ‘social smuggling’.”

He claims that one particular caste has gained monopoly on business and trading in India. “Look at data from a recent EPW survey — 46% of corporate directors are Banias, whereas their population is 1.9%, and 44.6% are Brahmins. Then all the shudras, the OBCs constitute only 3.8% while SC/STs have only 3.5% of the total share,” he said.

Ilaiah claims that the booklet containing the reprinted chapters was available in the market for quite some time but some people started raising objection to it after the Bengaluru journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh’s murder.

“This whole thing started after Gauri Lankesh’s murder. Even leaders like (Andhra Pradesh CM) Chandrababu Naidu haven’t condemned this,” he said.

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  1. 10. In japan untouchability exists for particular sect and were not allowed in temples, Does that mean bhuddism supports it? In America and UK blanks are seggregated in churches , slavery, jobs and in india dalit christians are not allowed in other churches, Does that mean christianism supports it? In macca , ismailis muslims are not allowed and shia muslim cannot become chief of macca , Does that mean islam supports it? Same in india untouchability exists, Does that mean Hinduism supports it? The differences and issues are due to social issues not relgious issues.

  2. Ilaiah says Godse ( Brahmin ) killed Gandhi ( Vysya). Is he trying to create fight between two castes (brahmin and vysya). Because one bad man done bad thing how come he says whole group/caste/sect/relion is bad. How can he restrict the father of the nation to particular caste.

  3. 1. Ilaiah says Arya Vysya”s are Aryans ( Not Dravidians). But in telugu Arya means “Respected ..” . In telugu letter writing , people used to write letter “Arya ..” as “Respected Sir”. Arya is “Sambodhaka Vakyam” in telugu. I am not sure which language kancha ilaiah studied. Ilaiah says north indians are aryans and south indians are dravidians. Is he trying to divide the country?

  4. 2. There are good and bad people in every section. If few people are bad in particular section , how can ilaiah can comment whole group/section as bad people instead of commenting directly on the particular individual .

  5. 3. Ilaiah says his 13 page book is research book ( not fiction novel). If research book where are the citations, references and stats for his claims /statements in the book.

  6. 4. He get 2lakhs as ry per month and how much of it or his wealth he spent for poor people before commenting on others. Did he followed his words before he preaches to others.

  7. 5. He says arya vysyas should eat meat and beef to fight agianst the chinese . As because Chinese eat snakes and frogs, do we indians have to eat snakes and frogs ?. As because koreans eat dogs , do we indians have to eat dogs? Who is he to tell what to eat. What to eat is his individual freedom.

  8. 6. T G venkatesh said at present only 10 years jail allowed per cons ution for criticizing other religion and caste. We should change this law to hang them instead of 10 year jail. so that ilaih like people will not critize other religions and castes. Ilaiah has eaten some words of TG venkatesh while giving interview. please see the video link of tv9 telugu

  9. 7. He blamed Gandhi ( Father of the Nation) also in his book . He says Gandhi is vysya. How come he can make the Father of the Nation restricted only to particular caste. He says Gandhi didnt eat goat meat saying that he felt like goat is crying in his stomach. He even criticized Father of Nation.

  10. 8. He has rich house, car, intelluctual, educated , professor , well settled. But still he used the BC reservation for him and for his promotion . If he want to really help poor BCs why cant he sacrifice his reservervation for the poor BCs and fight for Creamy Layer.

  11. 9. Now a days business, loan lending, shops being done by all castes and religions . Why he is targeting one particular caste and religion instead of individuals.

  12. 11. Ilaiah says his telugu book is translation of his 2007 english book chapter. How come Amit Shah, Modi, GMR, Adani , Ambani were added to the telugu book. They were not exist in english chapter of his 2007 book. Then how it will be a tran tion ?

  13. 12. Ilaiah says arya vysya pray to Lord Ganesh and criticizes Ganesh as not active person in his telugu version book . What is wrong in it praying Lord Ganesh . All hindus pray him. Who is he to say whom to pray and whom not to pray.

  14. Once upon a time people used to call each caste with some name . But now most of the castes changed their name with new titles. If you call mangali instead of “Nayi Brahmin” or Chakali instead of “Rajaka” or Golla instead of “Yadhav” or komati instead of “Arya Vysya” or kansali instead of “Viswa Brahmin” or palle reddy instead of “Reddiyar” , he will slap you. Ilaiah says he is intellectual and read a history a lot. But he doesn”t know what title the each caste people like or dont like. He is acting like innocent with crooked mind . You dont need to study all his books to tell his brain is corrupt , only few line is sufficient.

  15. When ilaiah complains to police they register FIR immediately. When arya vysya”s complains about ilaiah”s book to police, Police give excuse like go and complain at his residence police station or we are still investigating and will register the FIR upon investigation . Police dont register FIR even after 14 days of agitation and protest by so many. The real reason is Telangaana and andhra govts are afraid communist backed Ilaiah. Which is why the calm people has to come to the road to protest. If the govt has taken action by filing the FIR this situation should not have arised.

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