Webinar with Dr. Krishna Swamy Dara, Jamia Milia Islamia, India
Inequality is a curse that haunts humanity since its known history. The defense of it is also a persisting phenomenon with its own history. In India inequality has its own quality, history and features that can be differentiated from the rest of the globe. Most importantly the Hindu belief in karma is the most prominent, that one is born in a particular place in society based on the doings of one past actions. This is justified in modern terms as taking the cause and effect relationship and taken to an extreme. With the coming of Islamic rule in India, although some changes took place, the basic argument of social inequality was justified by citing the Hadith and this work along with the Hindu belief in karma and caste. The work of Ziauddin Barni, who justified caste among Muslims, is an example of this period. The advent of colonizers from Europe brought radical changes in the Indian society but the issue of inequality of humans took another dimension. With the advent of modernity inequality got justified with the argument of merit and natural talent rejecting hereditary inequality. In practice in countries like India the hereditary inequality exists but with the façade of meritocracy. Although serious criticism has be levelled against the ideology of merit it still has powerful defenders and the system uses this ideology to maintain caste and class privilege in India. My presentation or talk is a humble attempt to chart out how the idea of merit works as an ideology of sustaining inequality in modern Indian society. I will also try to present this from an Ambedkarite perspective, which says that caste privilege parades itself in the supposedly neutral category of merit.
Krishna Swamy Dara is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, India. He received his Doctorate from the Department of Political Science at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. His thesis titled “The Idea of Minority in Ambedkar’s Thought: Equality and Differential Rights” was awarded the best PhD for 2007 by Nirman foundation, India. He completed his Post-Doctoral research at Humboldt University and Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin where he assessed how caste (race), culture and law intersect, especially how the Dalit and African American experience has been in combating legal conservatism in India and the US. He has recently been a visiting professor at the University of Wurzburg, Germany. His research interests include: Minority Issues, Indian Political Ideas with special emphasis on Minority Leaders and Thinkers; Minorities and Political Psychology with an emphasis on Dalits, Untouchability and the issue of Social Stigma, and Legal Reasoning and Practice in India with special reference to Religious and Social Minorities. He has extensive publications and presentations on the condition of minorities in India.