Devanoora Mahadeva: Why does the word ‘Dalit’ make the Government so Resentful?

Devanoora Mahadeva speaking on a podium

The word ‘Dalit’ is not encircled by the caste system. Is that why? It seems so.

Let’s not forget that in India, people adopted the word ‘Hindu’ – even though it was given by outsiders – so that the caste system could work as a religion. Whatever objections we may have to that, we still have to understand it as the generosity of India’s spirit.

Now the fact that India’s hundreds of taḷa (marginalised) communities – those who are cast aside, broken; who don’t accept the four-fold varna system; the fragmented and the scattered – are calling themselves ‘Dalit’ has made the Central government see red.

Why is the Central government so resentful? I don’t understand this. The word ‘Dalit’ is not encircled by the caste system. Is that why? It seems so.

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“We are experiencing a ‘Cow-faced Tiger’ Emergency”: Devanoora Mahadeva

I’m going to say a few words based on our community’s understanding – if a murderer comes to kill you openly, the possibility of escaping is high. It can even perhaps be fought against. But if the same killer is in disguise, it would be difficult to get away.

Now we are experiencing a similar situation. The emergency that Indira Gandhi had brought into force was straightforward. It was visible. So we could protest it. We could organise against it. What we have now is also an emergency. It’s just not being called by that name. This is an emergency in disguise. This could be called the ‘Cow-faced Tiger Emergency’. The symptoms of this ‘Cow-faced Tiger Emergency’ is being seen throughout the country today.

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Alternative Politics: Rahamat Tarikere Interviews Devanoora Mahadeva

Sarvodaya Karnataka Party, which was founded as a part of Karnataka’s alternative political experiments, merged with Swaraj India in early 2017. Devanoora Mahadeva, who was the president of Sarvodaya Karnataka, is one of Kannada’s eminent writers. He was conferred with the Padma Shri as well as the Sahitya Academy award returning both in protest against the growing intolerance in the country. This special interview, by writer-thinker Rahamat Tarikere, articulates Devanoora Mahadeva’s experiences and ideas regarding social movements and alternative politics.

In the methodology of your political thought you refer to Gandhi, Lohia and Ambedkar. The one missing in this list is Marx. Is it not possible for Marxist thought to join in as a force in alternative politics?

Why not? What I am saying is that Indian communists have become stagnant, that’s all. Here communism needs to assimilate India and find its own words and actions. Isn’t it so? That’s not happening. It’s like a goods carrier just carting a consignment. If you become like a tape recorder as soon as you start to speak, then how will it work? Doesn’t life transcend logic?

You are very drawn to Gandhiji, in fact even your party’s name Sarvodaya too seems to have come from there. But do you think this is the reason why Dalits, who are tethered to the historic Gandhi-Ambedkar debate, have distanced themselves from you?

You seem to be plotting to distance me from the Dalit community through this very question (laughs) This is what happens if we place Gandhi and Ambedkar within the contemporary period, understanding and seeing them only as bodies. If we let go off logic, transform them into energy and look at their intentions and hopes then we won’t have that problem. If we distill them into spirit, into a cocktail that high could win over the world. A long time ago at Manipal when I had to speak about Gandhi, I weaved in Ambedkar bit by bit. There, U R Anantamurthy was translating it into English for the audience, who didn’t know Kannada and his eyes started brimming with tears. After I finished speaking, Anantamurthy said ‘Internally, I used to be a bit annoyed about Ambedkar; but today Ambedkar has a home in me.’ he said. What do you say to this?

Is the Sangh Parivar saffronising Ambedkar now?

True, true. First they tried to trample and liquidate him, painted him black. The more Ambedkar was trampled on the more he sprouted in people’s minds.  The sangh parivar people, imposters, are now painting him saffron and are scheming to use him. Today everyone wants to paint Ambedkar with their colours. If there is a betrayal inside it’s not good for anyone.

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An Open Letter to Anant Kumar Hegde Sahib: Devanoora Mahadeva

Devanoora Mahadeva speaking on a podium

Union Minister, Mr. Anant Kumar Hegdeji, It is frightening to have to listen to the words you have spoken at Kuknoor in Yelburga Taluk. ‘Those who are unaware of their parentage are the ones who call themselves secularists’ you say deridingly. Now we have to make you aware of your own parentage – It is hatred that is your father, intolerance your mother, illusion your ancestry, falsehood (Mithya) the source of your knowledge. I think this should be enough.

What hurts me even now, whenever I remember it, is Vajpayee, BJP’s leader, being in an insensate state. Similarly, George Fernandes, a part of the NDA and who comes from a socialist background, is also in an insensate state. It then seems that precisely because leaders like these are not active in your party the present BJP and the NDA end up making such senseless and irresponsible statements.

And then another statement of yours – ‘Every human being is an animal when he is born but it is what he does that makes him a human being’. In your case it somewhat feels quite the opposite. Even amidst the din you make, I would request you to pay attention to Kuvempu’s concept of ‘being the universal human at birth itself ….’.

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A New Path For Politics: Devanoora Mahadeva

Image of Devanoora Mahadeva and Yogendra Yadav

Today, Sarvodaya Karnataka Party merges with Swaraj India. I do not see anything new in this neither am I surprised by this. Because we, who founded Sarvodaya Karnataka, and Yogendra Yadav and his companions, who founded Swaraj India, have walked together harbouring dreams of building a healthy India, even before the birth of Sarvodaya Karnataka and Swaraj India. Hence this seems to me to be a natural process.

Now we have set forth, through Swaraj India, to do politics. What stands before us is India’s tragic politics. It is only if we understand this correctly that we can figure out the kind of politics that we need to do. How do we comprehend this?

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