[13/02 2:44 AM] me: Aargh Rohith Vemula’s name is starting to sound an awful lot like Nirbhaya
[13/02 2:44 AM] You: Well at least it is his name
[13/02 2:44 AM] You: I wonder also how much the savarna-ness of a name like Rohith has to do with it
[13/02 2:45 AM] You: Other Dalit victims had unusual names. North Indians wouldn’t be so celebratory of a Senthil.
[13/02 2:47 AM] me: Hmm that’s interesting. I would have thought that if he had a more Dalit sounding name, his case might have been stronger for claiming victimhood. If you gain the upper hand with a Menon/Rao tag, shouldn’t it work with a Dalit name too?
[13/02 2:48 AM] You: It does need a nicer ring to it, for protests and the like.
[13/02 2:49 AM] You: Even a Sheetal Sathe, Sachin Mali, more ‘mainstream’ names. We all know a Sheetal, Sachin, Rohit, Jyoti.
[13/02 2:49 AM] You: I’m part Tamil and I simply dont know any Senthil, not even as a friend of a friend of a friend type acquaintance
[13/02 2:50 AM] You: It’s a distinctly working class name in TN, I think
[13/02 2:50 AM] You: So I wonder, I could be wrong. But then who are the unusually named victims in Indian memory? Everyone seems to have savarna names
[13/02 2:51 AM] me: Perhaps. I would have thought the name might have actually lent more validity to that whole thing of him not being Dalit at all
[13/02 2:51 AM] You: I thought so too but I think BJPwallahs want to tread carefully
[13/02 2:52 AM] You: They want to muddy the issue but not disfigure it altogether
[13/02 2:52 AM] You: They do have a Dalit voter base after all
[13/02 2:53 AM] me: Actually that’s true. if there are any, they are nameless or we remember it by another name. Like a place. Khairlanji, Badaun
[13/02 2:53 AM] You: Yes, these geographies of sexual violence as a memory
[13/02 2:53 AM] You: I posted a status a few days back, don’t know if you saw
[13/02 2:54 AM] You: Went to an Indian restaurant and the Delhi uncle owner asks me where I’m from and I said he probably hadn’t heard of it but this town called Manipal
[13/02 2:54 AM] You: And he said of course he had, he’d seen it on Crime Patrol when they’d reconstructed the gang rape
[13/02 2:55 AM] You: so I asked him where he was from and when he said Delhi he must have seen something on my face coz he immediately said ‘Yes this rape culture these days is so bad’
[13/02 2:55 AM] me: You might have struck gold with this. There’s always been a refusal to name or identify the lower castes/certain racial profiles by their original names. Reminds me of Jane Eyre’s Bertha. Also, this malayalam film i watched recently, where this guy fron the Paniyar caste refers to how he is simply called Paniyan and  not even afforded the dignity of a name
[13/02 2:55 AM] You: It struck me how in his mind Delhi and Manipal were synonymous with gang rape. How awful.
[13/02 2:56 AM] You: Ohhh yes.
[13/02 2:56 AM] You: To be fair though victims still alive should be allowed full anonymity
[13/02 2:57 AM] me: Oh yeah, i see that here as well. Especially when they talk about Islamic countries, or just the Third World.  Their minds map these spaces in large chunks that could be anywhere. Anywhere far away from where they are. But all grouped together
[13/02 2:57 AM] You: But these locations of rape seem to say more than castes
[13/02 2:57 AM] You: Yesssss
[13/02 2:57 AM] You: There’s an othering of sexual assault so conveniently associated with distance
[13/02 2:58 AM] You: Oops sorry
[13/02 2:58 AM] You: Was scrolling up to see how long we chatted
[13/02 2:58 AM] You: And dialled by mistake
[13/02 2:59 AM] You: Three hours!
[13/02 2:59 AM] You: Three and a half actually
[13/02 2:59 AM] me: Haha jesus!!


[13/02 1:59 AM] me: Yeah, he sort of changed stance so radically that it worried me. I didn’t know if his outrage initially was real at all, or he was saying it because it sounded good
[13/02 2:01 AM] me: We were talking about representation in news media in terms of caste. The first interview i took, he launched into this diatribe about caste invisibility and his own encounters with it. It was provocative and obviously sounded great. There was a problem with the audio however and i had to redo it. This time around, i took 40 minutes trying to get this guy to talk about caste and he gives me nothing. He says there’s enough space for it.
[13/02 2:10 AM] You: Hmmm, interesting
[13/02 2:11 AM] You: He’s usually one of the few outspoken Dalits in mainstream media
[13/02 2:11 AM] You: Which is what makes it a shamr
[13/02 2:11 AM] You: But I really feel all these media institutions have naturalized these perspectives so much
[13/02 2:12 AM] You: It seems natural to talk of the Tejpal rape case as a high-profile case but not as a Brahmin rape case
[13/02 2:12 AM] You: Whereas Badaun or Bhagana are ‘Dalit rapes’
[13/02 2:12 AM] me: Yeah, he was the only one we could get for the interview. *_* didn’t work out. So this was disappointing. And the journalist in him just kicked in i suppose. A few of the people we spoke to were very concerned about getting into trouble
[13/02 2:12 AM] You: Vemula is a ‘Dalit suicide’ while all those kids in Kota killing themselves for IIT-JEE are student suicides
[13/02 2:13 AM] You: *_* is with HT now, which is not too restrictive but who can say with individual editors
[13/02 2:14 AM] me: So you’re saying unless you explicitly claim you’re dalit you won’t be recognised as one? Why were those cases different?
[13/02 2:14 AM] You: But I guess my larger concern is whether a Dalit journalist can even articulate a resistant frame of news within these institutions
[13/02 2:15 AM] You: No no, I meant we are okay with linking rapes of Dalit girls to a caste structure where their oppressors are OBCs or castes slightly higher on the scale than them.
[13/02 2:15 AM] me: Yeah. *_* says you can. But with the Rohith news he had more freedom to do so since everyone was, but unless it’s  a trending topic I’m sure it’ll be swept aside
[13/02 2:15 AM] You: But when it comes to looking at upper-caste homes, patriarchy and rape seem to have nothing to do with caste
[13/02 2:15 AM] me: Ah, in that sense
[13/02 2:16 AM]You: I’m saying caste is always involved in sexual violence
[13/02 2:16 AM]You: Even Brahmin women are victims of caste violence
[13/02 2:16 AM] You: Tje ‘purity’ of Brahminism rests on their shoulders, as much as the duty of ‘satisfying’ Brahmin desire
[13/02 2:16 AM] me: True. If caste is based on endogamy,it has to be centred on women’s sexual mobility
[13/02 2:17 AM] You: Yes the moment the woman transgresses she is a threat to the caste system as a whole
[13/02 2:17 AM] You: And the moment a Brahmin woman is ‘unavailable’ the Brahmin male turns to the Dalit-Bahujan sex worker
[13/02 2:18 AM] me: It’s stunning, how everything about the way a Hindu woman leads her life is really based on maintaining caste structures. I didn’t ever see it that way
[13/02 2:18 AM] You: Either way the woman is expedient, as long as the Brahmin male’s desires are met
[13/02 2:18 AM] You: I know right
[13/02 2:20 AM] me: It works so much better than race. It’s the most ingenious form of hegemony
[13/02 2:24 AM] You: It is. Ambedkar observed that graded inequality is what makes caste insidious and so pernicious. Each grade serves to protect the one above
[13/02 2:24 AM] You: And the Brahmin of course is the most cushioned of all
[13/02 2:26 AM]You: So now if Kanhaiya is a self-identified OBC, the BJP folk have successfully converted the issue of institutional casteism – which Kanhaiya had been initially protesting – into an issue of antinational behavior, because of his support for an Afzal Guru documentary
[13/02 2:26 AM] You: An issue which had united Dalit and OBCs has now been split up into antinational Dalit and antinational OBC
[13/02 2:27 AM] You: Caste is all over this scenario and no news media will ever dig beyond the surface
[13/02 2:29 AM] me: Such brilliant mechanics. I’m sure there will be people who see through it, but those people usually think it’s discriminatory to bring caste into the picture in the first place.
[13/02 2:30 AM] me: You should consider writing a response to that article in Kafila
[13/02 2:31 AM] me: Actually,  i want to put up this whole conversation on the blog!

[13/02 1:41 AM] You: I read that Kafila piece by Shuddhabrata
[13/02 1:41 AM] You: Man, so many issues with it. Life is complicated when you both agree and disagree with what one person says.
[13/02 1:42 AM] me: Exactly what *_*was saying! And from what I’ve seen in mcph a very different kind of rebellion or radicalism is endorsed and even encourages. I’ve never been good at following guidelines when it comes to writing and have flouted it more often than not, but mcph seems more welcoming to gimmicks than any serious thought.
[13/02 1:42 AM] me: Oh oh what do you disagree with?
[13/02 1:44 AM] You: His whole fatherly disapproval about sloganeering like ‘barbaadi’ and destruction. And equating the students (who are OBC, if I’m right) to RSS sloganeers
[13/02 1:44 AM] You: I mean when JNU jholawallahs shout Inquilab zindabad, what revolution are they shouting about? A bloodless non-violent coup?
[13/02 1:45 AM] You: The barbaadi slogans are rhetoric just as much as inquilab is
[13/02 1:45 AM] You: But these Marxist types have such ephemeral ideas about revolution, and that word revolution is allowed to be all sorts of things except a violent seizing of rights and privileges
[13/02 1:46 AM] You: While a Dalit or Kashmiri student screaming about India’s barbaadi is an unacceptable sentiment
[13/02 1:48 AM] me: Thank you! I was just talking to my friend about this! That nothing I’ve read so far, even in the alternative media seemed to look at it feom the point of virw of the students. They all seem to be making a case for distancing Kanhaiya from the event. In fact some reports abiut what this guy was saying in court, say he claims he believes in the indian constitution, does not support the anti-national event, believes kashmir is an integral part of india and is helping the police identify the students who were at the event
[13/02 1:49 AM] me: Oh thank god. Sometimes i think I’m paranoid, when I read things differently
[13/02 1:49 AM] You: Hahaha, sometimes I think I’m beyond all hope because I can only see these things so despondently
[13/02 1:50 AM] me: Haha might be good to be able to just agree and feel outraged with the masses every once in a while
[13/02 1:51 AM] You: I felt like that with Rohith Vemula’s suicide
[13/02 1:51 AM] You: The outrage felt right, felt human, no matter who was doing the outraging
[13/02 1:52 AM] You: But then all these foreign desi intellectual types began hogging up the media and I got irritated once again
[13/02 1:53 AM] me: I did too. For a good while that too. I hate suicide notes being published and commented on, but in this case it felt important and necessary. But then I started to cringe when it passed from a trending topic to something just being capitalised by the mainstream and alternative media alike. And then i just stopped reading the different eulogies
[13/02 1:55 AM] me: Well i think i got pretty irritated with even the Indian mainstream, even if they were dalit journalists
[13/02 1:55 AM] You: *_*’s piece really disturbed me
[13/02 1:56 AM] You: At one point Rohith’s brother asks ‘How did you find out about all this? Rohith never wanted anyone to know’ and I was wondering how he went ahead and published it
[13/02 1:56 AM] You: *_* I mean
[13/02 1:56 AM] me: Haha i was trying not to name him
[13/02 1:56 AM] You: Such private details of shame and embarrassment
[13/02 1:56 AM] You: Laid out as a victim story
[13/02 1:57 AM] You: Haha I’m all about the naming these days
[13/02 1:57 AM] You: It’s not gossip when it’s a legitimate critique
[13/02 1:57 AM] me: Yeah, they just went on to make the whole thing very reductive. Made me cringe