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Caste blame game on colonialism: Rationalization of a brahmanic lie

It was brahman sociologist G.S. Ghurye’s regressive perspective on caste, politics and colonialism that guided Bernard Cohn and Nicholas Dirks to develop the thesis that the colonial census and information-gathering effectively created the categories of religion and caste, as we know them today. Now, US-based geographer Sanjay Chakravorty has picked up on it and appears to be on a re-popularizing mission

In the brave new age of post-truth, if you have the power of playing with words, you can go a long way by making waves of fake news and views. The multiplicity of ways of compelling language to mislead is one of the defining characteristics of our age. This is not confined to the free-for-all social media, but also extends to high academia that produces and disseminates advanced knowledge – knowledge that can be truthful or misleading, liberating or oppressive, or a messy mixture of the two. Long ago and vividly, American founding father John Adams laid bare this duality of knowledge, “Bad men increase in knowledge as fast as good men, and science, arts, taste, sense and letters are employed for the purpose of injustice as well as for virtue.” Since our knowledge, especially social and political knowledge, can be fake or fabricated, it is important to have a critical and cautious relationship with all received knowledge. Especially because those who possess power are in a position to generate and circulate self-serving knowledge that safeguards their power. This knowledge-power nexus variously bolsters the established power, privilege and social hierarchies and, in a caste-ridden country like India, as I have argued extensively in my two works Debrahmanising History and Knowledge and Power, this menace is extremely entrenched because of the longstanding brahmanic control of knowledge which works effectively for maintaining caste hegemony.





About The Author

Braj Ranjan Mani

Braj Ranjan Mani is the author of 'Knowledge and Power: A Discourse for Transformation' (2014). His earlier and challenging work 'Debrahmanising History' (2005) has undergone five reprints and is now available in an extensively revised edition (2015). Both books are published by Manohar.