Citizens for Justice and Peace

SC’s Verdict for Free Expression Upholds Bahujan Interpretation of Political Economy: Kancha Ilaiah’s Case

10, Nov 2017

The Supreme Court on Friday, October 13, refused to entertain a PIL by an advocate of Delhi seeking to impose a ban on the book Komatlu Samajika Smugglerlu (Komatlu Social Smugglers) published by Prof. Kancha Ilaiah


Click to access June-7-17-letter-to-DIG-CISF.pdf

A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice Deepak Mishra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud dismissed the PIL by Mr K.L.N.V. Veeranjaneyulu who appeared as party in person. He contended that the writer through his book was trying to promoting enmity among different groups in society and targeting the Vysya community with an intention to humiliate and insult them.

The bench pointed out that banning the book would amount to infringing on the freedom of expression and speech guaranteed by the Constitution. The Supreme Court said that writers have to express their opinions within the purview of the law.

Kancha Ilaiah, speaking to Sabrangindia, hailed the verdict as not just the victory of freedom of expression per se but also one that will now open the path to new perspectives in research on “accumulation and capital.” Kancha Ilaiah’s life was in danger and under threat over the past weeks as protests against the book had even turned violent.

Finally he had forced himself under ‘house arrest’ on the issue. Sabrangindia’s repeated campaigns had helped highlight the issue and finally grant him support and protection.

What is Kancha Ilaiah’s Book?

The book titled, Samajika Smugglerlu: Kommatullu, or “Social Smugglers: Kommatis.” argued that ” the “private-sector economy is a modern form of “Guptadhana” had, since mid September, generated angst and aggression from the members of the Arya Vysya community in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh began holding protests against the work of the academic and writer Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd. The community, which is also referred to as Kommatis, and is understood to be an upper-caste Vaishya group, had taken grave offence to the contents of a short Telugu-language book, Samajika Smugglerlu: Kommatullu, or “Social Smugglers: Kommatis.” The Telugu book is an adapted extract from Shepherd’s book Post-Hindu India, which was published in 2009. Samijika Smugglerlu argues that the Baniya community—often referred to as Vaishya, the term from which the Arya Vysyas derive their name—has maintained a monopoly over business in India, and excluded Shudra, Dalit and Bahujan groups from the benefits of capital growth in the country.

In the introduction to Post-Hindu India, Shepherd writes that the book covers “Dalit-Bahujan cultural, scientific and economic knowledge systems, analyses their overall relationships with each other and also with the Hindu religion as a spiritual system.” In addition to the chapter on the Vaishya community, the book contains individual chapters on various communities residing in India, and, based on their traditional occupations and knowledge system, analyses the development of the Indian economic system. It theorises that the Hindu religion’s failure to reckon with the evils of caste oppression will lead to its demise. (An extract can be read here.)

Sabrangindia was the first to allow space for this extremely though provoking discourse,considered ‘anathema’ by the privileged. On September 14, ” What is Social Smuggling by Sahukars (Traders)? asks Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd

Kancha had said in Sabrangindia. He wrote, “I wrote this book to show that the real producers of the wealth of the nation are castes that range from Adivasis to all Shudras (including kapus, Kammas, Reddys, Jats, Patels, Gujjars and so on)”

“The two dwija castes—Banias and Brahmins— by my generation (with a personal experience all around) are outside the basic production controlling the business from rural grain markets to Ambani, Adani, Vedanta kind of monopoly capital. The richest among them come from the Vysya community. Caste, thus, is  a reality.  The Brahmins have a control over the Hindu spiritual system and also educational institutions and the bureaucracy.”

“The Brahmins are there in all Government jobs, the software industry and higher education. They are also there in all kinds of private sector jobs. The ratio of Directors of the Companies as per a study by Prof. D. Ajith, Han Doker and Ravi Saxena ((EPW-2012), Corporate Boards in India -Blocked by Caste? August 11, 2012, Vol. XLVII, No. 31, p.41)) shows this representation, caste-wise in the industrial and financial sector: Banias 46%, Brahmins 44.6%, Kshatriyas 0.5%, OBCs (that includes all Shudra castes) 3.8%, SC/ST 3.5% and others 1.5%.  This shows an absolute control of these two castes on the industrial and financial power.

“Everything is being linked to nationalism these days. That is, in a way, good.  When foot soldiers are fighting on the Himalayan borders facing cold and bitter winds, in overall difficult situations on the Pakistan border, why should not Indian Industry give one job to a person from one soldier’s family member within industry based on qualifications?  Why does Indian industry not create a Farmer Protection Fund from its annual profit at least to the tune of 1 percentage?  In a caste based system, they too should have a Social Responsibility towards then lower castes and Adivasi masses. This system can run through the economic system: from top industry to the grain market Shahukars in the rural sector.  Why do not the Shahukars establish humanitarian relations with farmers, at least by helping them at the time of suicide deaths by going and helping them? Today the social relations between the Bania Shahukars and the farmers are very negative.  This has to change at all levels.

“The private sector can provide one job for those constables died in bouts of internal conflict.  Anybody can see their family conditions being pathetic after such sudden deaths.  Year after year, the state’s public resources are being shifted into the private sector, by rendering that sector JOBLESS.  In the last three and half years of this ultra-nationalist regime,  so-called development has become JOBLESS.  Therefore, everybody should have a share in the private sector jobs.

Related Articles:
1. In this Age of Nationalism, It’s Not Just Citizens but Industry that Should be Nationalist


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