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Dalit and Shudra Politics and Anti-Brahmin Movement

Some European Countries Ageing and Women Sex Ratio Missing Girls A Note SWAPAN SETH Astudy on women especially on their ageing is important in the context of current trends in demographic changes. Karkal (1999) has thrown light on some areas of study of the aged population of India, and has warned of problems ahead.

The last decade of 20th century has witnessed a sharp assertion for identity among the oppressed sections and also stiff contradictions among them, revealed by the atrocities at places like Kumher, Marathwada, Jahanabad, Kodiankuyam, Madurai and other parts of the country. In most of these places dalits have been the victims and the shudras victimisers. Of late, the social scientists are trying to understand and explore the ideas to grapple with these contradictions in a better way. This is a welcome development for, since independence, we have been living on many unexamined or half-examined ideas which have thus become the ‘foundation myths’ of our times. Javeed Alam’s ‘Is Caste Appeal Casteism’ (EPW, March 27-April 2, 1999) and C P Bhambhari’s ‘Dialectics of Caste and Casteism’ (EPW, September 4-10, 1999) help us to understand a few more dynamics of caste and also raise some major issues confronting dalit-bahujans in particular and Indian society in general. The former argues that the oppressed “have become a community in a sense of the term” (p 759) and the latter “Hinduism of every variety is very much in existence as a reference point of the world view of the oppressed sections” (p 2619). This needs historical and comparative analysis to comprehend the dynamics of dalit and shudra politics.

One of the major issues in this discourse is to ask if ‘oppressed sections’ could be addressed as a homogeneous category? and if not, what forms the prime distinctions within it. Historically speaking, dalits (SCs/STs) have not been part of Hindu social system, i e, ‘varna vyavastha’, and so are referred as ‘outcastes’, whereas backward communities (shudras) have always been the fourth varna in the system. Secondly, two parallel movement/politics – one led by the dalits (ex- untouchables) and the other by the dominant backward communities or upper-shudras have been in existence in pre-independence as well post-independence period.

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