Sanil M. Neelakandan‘s essay: Republic of Barriers

Colonial and postcolonial questions have been haunting India over a long period of time. Diaspora of academic communities are articulating the question of colonialism and they are creating the field of postcolonial critiques. At the same time, there are majority of high priests of post-colonialism and minimum supporters of colonialism. Majoritarianism and minorities in the context of the debates on the colonialism and post-colonialism offer new possibilities to revisit the questions of colonial oppression,colonial modernity and neocolonialism. One of the central questions that needs to be raised here is whether India is colonial,postcolonial and Neo-colonial in nature. How the category of barrier is straddled across the ocean of such ideas. At the same time, the inquiry needs to transcend the boundaries of such debates. This article is an open ended take on the questions of barriers through these aforementioned axis of contentions.

Nerd existence acquires its velocity via media and technology. Traditional moorings on the existence and essence needs to be revamped in the current context of shifting meanings and paradoxical practices. Science acts as a catalyst to legitimise our domination” over the “ so called ignorant” .At the same time such conceptual journey ends in paths of inaction and irrationality. Human being may be the buzzword of the bygone era. Universalism is bashed via the bin of postmodernism and related avatars. It may be also a essentialisation of the inequality and differences. Therefore,let me return to the inescapable layers of primordial identities and its perilous impact across the world. Do they create its own vocabulary and practices of barriers?

Glossary of disciplines may erase the categories such as society. Academic underworld is doing its black-magic to create jargon and erase the history of the already established ideas. Novelty may be another form of power and mode of status quo. Socialisation may be a cliche for students of sociology in particular and social sciences in general. However, it pushes us to the strict boundaries of ourselves and themselves. People wear the crown and sacred thread of caste to dominate their others. Social mobility and life chances becomes privilege of those who have the ascribed identity of superior castes. Merit becomes an euphemism for their manipulation of the unwritten and unwritten rules of the society and status quo. Constitution hardly matters in a nation-state that abound with caste panchayats. Jurisprudence is a rare word even in the so called literate, educated, orthodox, hegemonic castes. Laws and Rules for them are conditioned through the dictates of their castes and religions. Knowledge thus become possession of the dominant and those who are in the lower orders of the caste are pushed pushed into the purgatory of rape, derogatory-stigmatised forms of labour, ostracisation, caste pride related atrocities,violence,arsenal etc. Once you are born into a low caste,life turns into a prison of barriers. Of course, dalits are aware about the rhetoric related to social transformation and social control. Social movements and political movements among themselves have provided them social mobility and self respect. Majoritarianism via religion-caste complex always haunt their life chances in multiple ways. Even the highly educated among them have to face discrimination at different levels like from colleagues, so called non-dalit friends, institutions etc. Therefore, constitution is kind of assurance for dalits to overcome such filthy barriers grounded in caste-class relations. Nondalits are content with their age old privileges based on their class-caste locations. Struggles by the anti-caste,organic intellectuals among dalits will constantly critique the barriers of totalitarian regions that perpetuate the ideology of caste. The caste that regains new shape via sacred thread,church and masjid may breed its own barriers to crust their political articulations. Is there any way to overcome these barriers embedded in the ideology of caste? One of the popular perceptions is that if you have financial stability,you will be able to overcome the caste. Paradoxically,caste and economy are intermingled in Indian context and it only legitimised the legibility of a few upper caste rich people. Thus, barriers are breeding in different pace in Neo-liberal period of capitalist India. Corporate social responsibility acts as hyperbole that camouflages the power relations based on class,caste and economy. What are the other forms of barriers that demonise the Indian society and political institutions? Gender and caste are proliferating the oppression of women across different sections. complex interplay of feudal / semi-feudal and modern elements in India are strengthening patriarchy in its worst forms. Religious and caste masculinity too have disastrous impact on the Indian lives. Caste percolates the divisions within women via the rubric of oppressive,patriarchal religions. Violence against women and sexual minorities are becoming central in homophobic,social and political spaces. Heterosexuality is celebrated within the ambit of caste. Individuals who are transcending the vicious connections of caste via inter-caste marriage are being targeted as deviants from the honour and customs of the family. Poor are being worst victims of financial crisis. However, caste undermines the working class across India. Politicisation of religion has complicated power relations across the networks of various religions. Hegemonic religions versus subordinate religions, faiths, sects have proliferated in the post-globalised era. Revivalism and pseudoscience have gained space in the minds of the highly educated,dominant sections. Those who question such religious orthodoxy are becoming the martyrs for the reason and the new forms of enlightenment .Clouds of cynicism is creating darker spaces of cynicism. Rhetoric becomes the mantra to evade the existing,harsh realities. It lulls the majority to the nonlinear terrain of inertia and dejection. Is there any possibilities to play with the cliche hope” ?

Barriers of earlier orders are being sidelined by the new forms of barriers. Republic of barriers thus entertain itself via the remorseless defence of such barriers. Old books that theorised barriers are being legitimised through the mob language and cacophony. Of course, there will be elites who defend the barriers. There will be practitioners of resistance who may not tolerate the unbearable nature of barriers. One has to wait for the transformation of republic of barriers to that of a world of mutual recognition.

Sanil M. Neelakandan is an independent researcher based in New Delhi.He received his PhD and M.Phil in Sociology from Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University,New Delhi He writes in English and Malayalam languages.He has published in international and national journals-magazines such as Capital and Class, Journal of Social Inclusion, The Little Magazine, Nether Quarterly etc.

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