Every year most of us come to know about the Jaipur Literature Festival when a controversy arises. For instance, last year the Salman Rushdie issue was all over the news. This time, Ashish Nandy’s controversial comments on OBCs, SCs and STs informed many of us that again a literature festival is going on in Jaipur.
People are out on the street demanding the arrest of Ashish Nandy because of what he said at a panel discussion in Jaipur. It is being said that Ashish has called all the people from backward castes — corrupt.
There was a panel discussion on “The Republic of Ideas” in the lit fest. The participants included Tarun Tejpal (Tahelka editor), Ashutosh (managing editor of IBN7), Richard Sorabji and the renowned sociologist Ashish Nandy. The discussion in its continuation turned to the issue of corruption. In his remarks, Tarun Tejpal deconstructed the sociology of corruption. He argued that Indian society is highly hierarchical and stratified. Our laws and rules are designed in such a way that it does not provide everyone to have his/her say. The corruption of elites who have both the resources and power often goes unnoticed. It rarely results in prosecution. Unlike this, people from backward sections are caught if they involve in corruption because they lack in power and means.
This is the context in which Ashish Nandy made his comments. He, in fact, endorsed the arguments of Tarun Tejpal. In his long comments he argued that it is most likely the list of corrupt could be inordinately dominated by Dalits and OBCs. It is so due to reasons explained above. Ashish Nandy called the corruption of Dalits second corruption. For him, it is like an equalizing force which gives them access to their entitlements. In short, whatever he said was deeply connected to the ideas of Tejpal.
It is lamentable that Ashutosh himself, failed to understand Nandy’s words. Ashutosh was one among the panelists. He was the first one who misunderstood the whole thing. I think, he, more than anybody else, is responsible for the whole mess. Had he debated on the issue before accusing Ashish Nandy to be a casteist, this unnecessary outrage would not have occurred.
In defense of Nandy, it is nearly impossible to say that a scholar who has worked 45 years for Dalits and adiwasis will now speak against them. In fact, whatever he said about Dalits were out of sympathy he has for them. He indeed lamented on the corruption which is not being noticed by people.
The demand for the arrest of the scholar by political leaders like Mayawati, Ramvilas Paswan and Lalu is ridiculous and laughable. Since they are well-known corrupt leaders of the country they should have remained silent on issues of corruption. We all know they are corrupt. Recently, the name of Mayawati has been accused in Taj corridor scam. Even after being much well-off they and their relatives are getting the benefit of reservation. They fight elections from reserved seat. They get jobs from reserved category. They get admission in educational institutions through category. Is this not corruption?
[Views expressed herein are the author’s own, and do not necessarily represent Jamia Journal’s editorial policy.]