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Battles for Equality in Hindu India
Date & Time
Bangalore, Karnataka 560071 India View Map
Contact+91 98865 99675 email@example.com
In his book, Caste Pride, Manoj Mitta examines the endurance and violence of the Hindu caste system through the lens of the law. Linking two centuries of legal reform with social movements, he unearths the characters, speeches, confusions and decisions that have shaped the war on caste, mitigating how this ancient institution discriminated between Hindus across the board. Where they could live, how they could dress, whether they could go to a shop, a stream, walk a street or mingle, enter a temple, whom and how they could marry, which scriptures applied to whom, whether their actions, innocent or criminal, would attract punishment or impunity?
Describing brilliantly the passage of Hinduism into its modern avatar, the book celebrates women and men across the caste spectrum—pioneers Savitribai Phule, M.C. Rajah, R. Veerian, B.R. Ambedkar, Periyar, Vithalbhai Patel and others—and outside of the caste system, such as non-Hindu legislators and administrators, including Maneckji Dadabhoy, William Bentinck and Lord Willingdon. It re-examines the positions of leading lights such as Motilal Nehru, Thomas Munro, Mahatma Gandhi and C. Rajagopalachari, and shows why caste prejudice cleaves to names like Madan Mohan Malviya and Surendra Nath Banerjea. Through these histories of reform, Mitta establishes that untouchability is merely the best-known aspect of varna, an elusive purity-based hierarchy that affects the freedoms of all.
The session will begin with a performance by singer & filmmaker, Shabnam Virmani, followed by a presentation by the author, Manoj Mitta. A panel discussion with Manoj Mitta, Ashna Singh and Sudipto Mondal, moderated by Jayna Kothari will follow.
Image Credit: Zainul Abid
Manoj Mitta is a Delhi-based journalist focusing on law, human rights and social justice. A law graduate from Hyderabad, he has worked with the Times of India, the Indian Express and India Today. Mitta has written two critically acclaimed books on impunity for mass violence: When a Tree Shook Delhi: The 1984 Carnage and Its Aftermath, co-authored with H.S. Phoolka (2007), and The Fiction of Fact-finding: Modi and Godhra (2014). His article on caste was published in 2007 in Writing a Nation: An Anthology of Indian Journalism, edited by Nirmala Lakshman.
Shabnam Virmani is a filmmaker, writer and artist who has been exploring the philosophy of Kabir, Shah Latif and other mystic poets through a deep engagement with their folk traditions for over two decades. Located at Srishti, Bangalore, Shabnam initiated the Kabir Project journeys in 2002, which have led to the creation of several films, a digital archive called Ajab Shahar, books, urban festivals, rural yatras, a schools program called Shabad Shaala, and also unexpectedly, singing and performing herself.
Sudipto Mondal is the Executive Editor of The News Minute. An investigative journalist with a special interest in caste and communal relations. Previously with The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Al Jazeera and The Federal.
Ashna’s primary areas of interest are human rights law, international law, and environmental law. Prior to joining NLSIU, she was working on her PhD on Climate Change Displacement in the South Asian and the South East Asian Region. A graduate of the LLM programme at NLSIU, she is a recipient of the M/S. Sitaram Jindal Foundation Gold Medal for Best Outgoing LL.M. Student. Currently, she is working as an Assistant Professor of Law at NLSIU and is teaching a full term elective course on ‘Reading Ambedkar on Caste and Law’.
Jayna Kothari is a Senior Advocate and practices in the Supreme Court of India. She is a co-founder of the Centre for Law and Policy Research. She graduated from University Law College with a B.A. LL.B degree and read the BCL at Oxford University. Jayna was awarded the Wrangler D.C. Pavate Fellowship in Cambridge University.
Jayna’s research and practice interests include constitutional law, gender and sexuality law, disability rights and discrimination law. She had argued in the Supreme Court in the recent constitutional challenges to Section 377 and adultery which were both decriminalized. She also argued the Independent Thought case in which the Supreme Court recognized child marital rape as a criminal offence. Her book, The Future of Disability Law in India was published in 2012 by Oxford University Press.