Identity in the 21st Century I – Misconceptions
- Hegemony of the “Caste Echelon”, Brahmanical Hindutva and Reservation Politics - February 29, 2016
- आर्य आक्रमण सिद्धांत: काल्पनिकता, मिथक एवं वास्तविकता (भाग एक) - February 13, 2016
- Identity in the 21st Century II – The Sciences - February 9, 2016
Even by speaking, stating, writing or reading it somewhere, we as a society express our mixed emotions ranging from pride and denial to outright confusion.
Why do we need to speak about identity? Isn’t it given that as a specific community, we have a specific identity? The neo-intellectuals will try to shed the labelling altogether stating, “We are human beings. We do not need more labels for identity!”
If only the real world worked like that…
We live in a society, it has a specific identity. We live in a country and it too has a specific identity. These are so intricately interconnected that confusion is bound to arise. But this is not the focus of this discussion. Much of identities have already been laid upon our shoulders and we are expected to carry it unquestioning. It is good, to an extent. However, “we” have an identity too. It is undeniable and inerasable.
We are called the native, aboriginal, the first ones, the original ones, the “Adivasi” and much more. It is fascinating that the word itself has no meaning in our midst for we do not call ourselves “Adivasi”. It is a mere moniker given to us by the outsiders, the conquerors of this land that came later. But even from before the independence, it is the term that has been used both to exalt our presence and to deny us equal rights. The term Adivasi was taken, popularized and used as the empowering brand name to represent native people, to bring them under one banner in a struggle against the upper-caste hegemony at the then Central Politics, for the realization of “Greater Jharkhand”. The movement was so great that natives around the nation were moved by the ideology. But in light of the agitation and ethnic ideologies of the North-eastern states who predominantly used English for a long time, the term was seen with confusion (Adivasi word is Hindi and by default a moniker from the linguistic affiliations alien to North-eastern cultures.) In recent times throwing around of words “Tribal, Adivasi, Vanvasi, Scheduled Tribe” are thrown around without meaning and focus – the meaning is being diluted and lost (much of which is the intrusion of Right-Wing activists who have been working for a long time to confuse and create contradiction where there is none)
And in much deeper sense, it is a name, an identity that defines us and our existence. It is something so trivial, yet very crucial.
The history of our struggle, the mistreatment and the discrimination has always been the focus of much what is written about us, either by outsiders and non-aboriginal authors sympathetic to our plight or intellectuals that have risen amongst us. The positive aspects of it all and the negative too is a matter for much discussion and brainstorming sessions. However, either way, that topic too isn’t the focus of this discussion.
In the modern world, this 21st century, much of the primitive theories regarding the human evolution, migration and cultural progress have been consolidated from fragmented speculation to solid ideas. But the sad aspects of this development is that this country, by virtue of its colonial past, discrimination social structuring and inherent racism, deny much of those studies and by extension, we natives have to keep suffering and live in darkness. We either cling on to the outdated models of those theories of the bygone era or we look away, hoping that it doesn’t affect us. However it does affect us. We cannot keep spouting the olden claims and cry of our mistreatment, for this is the age of reason and knowledge. The more we have knowledge about our surroundings, the stronger we stand. The more we are educated of the past and the origins of our and their society, the more we are equipped to stand in resistance to the discrimination.
It is unavoidable that to begin, we have to look through a much controversial aspect of the cultural ideology that often ignite any social discussion into a heated cuss and scuffle. I find it amusing.
The Aryan Invasion Theory, the name is enough. Just by uttering this word you can have the attention of a learned man of any community in this country and rightly so. This is a theory which is known in the learned circle of this land more than the theories about the flora and fauna affecting the ecology of this land and latter is more important for our survival.
The theory was proposed by the western scholars during the colonial occupation of British Throne and it was inherently racist, discriminatory and an immature and incomplete attempt to discredit the people of this land.
It was simply misconstructed on speculative facts. And it was not a complete lie.
But later and after the independence and even continuing to this day, the section of the society in control of ruling authority, monetary elites and intellectual hegemony began speaking against this theory. Over the course of time, many foreign researchers came shoulder to shoulder with the scholars of this land and they screamed, declaring,
“Aryan Invasion Theory is wrong. There was no invasion. The subcontinent was and is the original home of the Indians and Hindusim.”
In saying and declaring so they effectively closed any further research that could go against this doctrine and paradigm. They silenced the voices of opposition that the southerners once raised against the linguistic, casteist and religious prejudices of the northerners. The country got this impression that the opposition of the southern states was merely based on linguistic distinction; after all, upper castes and Hindusim existed in the southern states as well!
It was heavily propagated that the Britishers wanted to divide the north and the south and so this theory was proposed but in reality there is no distinction.
The researches which could have been done on the linguistics, anthropology and sociology free of majority bias were now controlled according to the paradigm of the claims of the nativity by the fanatics of Hindusim, Feudal lords, Brahmanism and so called “Upper Caste”.
And so we, the true natives, lost our claim without even us being realizing. And now when any native cry foul by saying, “The Aryas came from outside and took our lands from us” they laugh. They laugh at our incompetency and our misguided understanding and brush off our resistance as nothing but a jealousy of their affluence and prosperity. The thing is, we are not misguided and incompetent; we are simply less informed. We are ignorant of the world and the scholastic paradigms. We are educated but we lack the precision tools that are required to fight ignorance.
“This has to change. The approach has to change. The Intellectual Collective of the Adivasi Identity has to change!”
And so we can now move ahead to the real topic that is urgent, is the need of this hour and a necessity if we are to save our identity, our existence. Not only save it but also move ahead, progress in this competitive world walking on the plinth of the said knowledge.
First things first,
“The Aryan Invasion Theory is wrong!
There never was a large scale invasion of the light-skinned, Sanskrit speaking, horse-chariot mounted warring barbarians who worshipped Indra. They did not come and took lands in a single swipe from us natives, they did not laid waste to our forts and cities. And Asuras are not Adivasi king or gods.”
Much of the Indian Academia and Right-Wing Scholars propagandize only up to these statements because it suits to their “Idea of the Mythic Indian Vedic Past”. And deny the legitimate accusations that we, the natives place upon them and point out the discrimination. The Western Academia too has abandoned these theories and they agree that there never was a single, large scale invasion.
The right wing scholars and fanatics forget to mention that the evidence is still against them. They still are the outsiders, they still are the usurpers and they still are non-natives.
4 thoughts on “Identity in the 21st Century I – Misconceptions”
Where is the second part ?? A very beautifully articulated write up ….. hungry for more !
The second part will be up soon. Thank you for reading and patience.
Please keep writing on. We need to open this discourse for more debates and re-assembling. Best.
Yes. The discourse needs revamping. More such articles on the way. Thanks for reading and patience.