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'Dalits should forgive Nandy for his vulgar comments'

Last updated on: January 29, 2013 14:37 IST

'Dalits should forgive Nandy for his vulgar comments'

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi

Although popular Dalit writer and thinker Chandrabhan Prasad feels what Ashis Nandy said at the Jaipur Literature Festival was undignified and vulgar, he tells rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt that the matter should have ended once the professor apologised.

Sociologist Ashis Nandy, regarded as the champion of underprivileged classes by many, has landed himself in trouble for his remark, which is conceived to be against the Dalits, OBCs and tribals.

Now, the Jaipur police have sent him summons for his alleged castetist remarks at the Jaipur Literature Festival last week. He is wanted for questioning.

The police have acted after receiving a complaint from SC/ST Rajasthan Manch chairperson Rajpal Meena.

From former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati -- another champion of Dalit causes -- to obscure social organisations, many have been highly critical of Nandy's remarks.

When rediff.com asked popular Dalit writer and thinker Chandrabhan Prasad, "Anybody with little knowledge about Nandy's writings knows that he is a great supporter of Dalits, OBCs and tribal causes, and then why are his critics not reading the reference to the context of what he was saying?" he said, "What Professor Nandy said at the festival was undignified and vulgar".

"Persons with pro-Dalit background can make mistakes. The way Professor Nandy cited the West Bengal example only shows that he was committed to what he said. There is no empirical evidence showing Dalits/OBCs/tribals being more corrupt," he notes.

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Image: Ashis Nandy's comments were vulgar, undignified, says Chandrabhan Prasad.
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

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Nandy has already apologised for his remarks and Prasad thinks that should suffice.

He says, "Once the professor regretted what he had said, the matter should have ended there. Dalits should deploy the weapon of forgiveness. Differences of opinions can't be settled in police stations. An FIR against Nandy is the triumph of stupidity."

However, Prasad notes, "Professor Nandy should gracefully accept that a mistake was made".

When told to comment on the way Nandy is being criticised shows growing intolerance towards number of artistes, painters and thinkers, Prasad disagrees. He says, "To the contrary, artists, painters and thinkers are socially insensitive and intolerant. Please show me any anti-caste painting? Please show me any poem on Dalits' segregation from the media, films and the art world?" 

Prasad agrees that Professor Nandy is not castesit and anti-Dalit.

"When Professor Nandy says that elite corruption can be hidden whereas Dalit corruption hits the headlines it is a valid statement," Prasad says, adding, "Remember, I never described him as casteist or anti-Dalit. Prof Nandy is a liberal thinker."

When told that critics like him are not allowing any criticism of any Dalit leader, Prasad disagrees. He says, "That is not true. If you can recall, I was the first to critique late Kanshi Ram's Bahujan theory, I criticised (Lok Janshakti Party chief) Ram Vilas Paswan going with (Rashtriya Janata Dal president) Lalu Prasad Yadav. I keep asking Dalit leaders as what is there stand on the Euro Zone crisis, on the weakening rupee against dollar. As I have said so many times, in a democracy, a person is entitled for even anti-Dalit views. If you recall, I was the first to oppose any kind of censorship on the film Aarakshan".

Talking about corruption in Indian society, Prasad says, "Corruption is a social problem. The post-1990 explosion of wealth in India produced greedier hands as well. It is very serious; it has sipped into the DNA of Indians. It will go on its own provided India's industrialisation and urbanisation accelerates faster."


Image: Chandrabhan Prasad


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