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What’s Your Ism? Ep 10. feat Khalid Anis Ansari on anti-caste mobilisation within Muslims

A podcast about ideas and ideologies.

WrittenBy:NL Team

Caste and untouchability are widely perceived as a Hindu phenomenon – orthodoxically, they are categorised as “illegitimate” in the Muslim community. But the Dalit Muslims facing caste oppression strive for legitimacy. So, what is the complex history and dynamics of castes among Muslims? How is it perceived in the political economy amid scarcity mongering around reservations? 

In this two-part episode on What's Your Ism, Sudipto Mondal speaks to Ambedkarite author Shalin Maria Lawrence and sociologist-professor Khalid Anis Ansari about the complexities of anti-caste politics among Christians and Muslims in South Asia.

In part two, Ansari sheds light on the history of Dalit Muslims, religious nationalism, the anti-caste movement in pre-partition India, the caste census, and anti-caste mobilisation within Muslims.   

On the Muslim imagination of a sovereign nation, Ansari says, “I think there are also regional histories.” He adds, “The experience of a Kashmiri Gujjar Muslim is very different from the experience of a Shia Muslim or the ones in the Valley. Caste is written all across…There are all kinds of cleavages and contradictions.”    


Sudipto: [00:00:00] The most influential ism in the country today appears to be Hindutva.

It has taken a long time for this ideology to come of age. But what happened to the other ideological movements that began in the early 20th century? The RSS will turn a hundred years old next year, but So will the Communist Party of India. We 

-: will never give up! We will never give up! Long live India!

Long live India! 

Sudipto: Ambedkarism, Marxism, Liberalism, Dravidianism, Feminism, Gandhism. What role are these great big isms of the 20th century playing in the 21st century? What relevance do they have today? We have a 

-: dream. 

Sudipto: I'm an atheist in the same way as I'm an a leprechaun. Why have there been casteism existing in the country still today?

Feminism by 

-: definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights. The nature of the system is to be as mean and rotten [00:01:00] as you can. Uh, to try to maximize profits. 

Sudipto: The national elections are around the corner, and what better time than now to talk about isms. I'm Sudipto Mandal, and welcome to this special election series of What's Your Ism?

Hello and welcome to yet another episode of What's Your Ism? Today I'm going to introduce you to one of the leading scholars of the Basmanda movement in India, Dr. Khalid Anis Ansari, who is also an associate professor of sociology Dr. Ansari, thank you so much for joining us. 

Khalid: Thank you so much for having me.

I mean, the 

Sudipto: weather is like hot. Yeah, yeah. It feels 

Khalid: very much like Uttar Pradesh. Very much like Uttar Pradesh. And 

Sudipto: the discussion, the political discussion now is also very much like Uttar Pradesh and the country. Yeah, yeah. And that's why we're having this discussion. Right. Uh, Professor Ansari, I think the best way to introduce you is to break it down by way of your haters.

Okay. Okay. [00:02:00] Uh, you have haters, of course, among the Hindutva crowd. You do have haters and critics among Islamists and Muslim scholars. And also, uh, a section of the Ambedkarite Hindu Buddhist scholars or activists, voices, whatever. We'll leave that a little open. But, uh, so to introduce you, let me start with why does the Hindutva crowd hate you?


Khalid: Uh, I mean, I don't think it's a personal hatred. Uh, it's, I mean, since I work, I mean, since I work On the Pashmanda movement. On the Pashmanda movement. Pashmanda discourse, it is still not a legitimate discourse. Uh, so, if you look at the Hindutva discourse, it works with a very strong sense of Hindu Muslim binary, right?

So, because of the strong animus against the Muslim identity, Uh, so Anyone who is even a passman. So their Muslim identity is foregrounded in the HIN course. [00:03:00] So again, I think that analyst comes from that. Uh, when we come to the Muslim politics, obviously the PASMANDA course is seen as divisive. Uh, so CAST has dividing the Muslim community 

Sudipto: where there is a lot of genuine insecurity that has been created by the rise of Hindu.

And there is this criticism that ko, why are you dividing Muslims? Is that where it's coming from? 

Khalid: Yeah, that is one sense that Muslims are under siege, but it is not new. I mean, so, it has been there for, I mean, since, uh, the late 19th century. This notion of Muslims under siege and so on. And 

Sudipto: there's been, this hostility towards the Pashmanda movement is also actually pretty old.

It is not a product of the Hindutva movement. No, no, not at all. 

Khalid: You know. Not at all. How far back does it go? Uh, so, I mean, so, when we talk about the Pashmanda movement or anti caste, uh, mobilization within Muslims. So we talk about the two waves, right? So the first wave, wave is pre partition. So it starts from 1910 or so and [00:04:00] comes down to 1947.

Uh, so there were, I mean, a lot of Muslim caste associations. of the weavers, the jurahas, the Qureshis, the butchers. And all this is happening 

Sudipto: in? 1910 onwards. And which part of this appointment? Mostly Bihar, 

Khalid: Bengal. So, for example, the Mormon Conference, which was the main organization, lower caste Muslim main organization, it started in Calcutta in 1926, right?

So, parts of UP, Bihar, it's mostly these regions, Bengal, because there's a lot of migrant labor. Right. from Bihar and also from eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh and so on. So I think that is, that is the first wave. So, even at that point of time, so our, uh, our main leaders, uh, Abdul Kaleem Ansari, Maulana Asim Bihari and so on.

At that time there was no online trolling, but they were trolled in newspapers and journals and so on. And Abdul Kaleem Ansari, who was a, who [00:05:00] was a, Uh, practicing Muslim in that sense. Yeah. Uh, very punctual with his prayers and all of that. Even then, he was, uh, seen as someone divisive and, uh, one of the, and he took on Muslim league and the partition movement.

So the moment conference, uh, and the moment movement in the pre, uh, partition at 3 19 47 period, they were strongly against the Two Nation Theory and MO conference. It contested, um, Gena's, uh, uh, Gena's call for partition. And after 1937, Mormon Conference, which was a reformist organization, a caste association earlier, it took a political turn.

And in 1946 elections, they also contested in Bihar. If you recall at that point of time, there was a separate electorate. So, there were 40 seats for Muslims. And out of 40 seats, Moment Conference was able to grab 5, and 1 went to Congress, uh, with Moment Conference support. So, it was also a political party at that point of time, and it took [00:06:00] on the Muslim League, at least in the regions where it was stronger.

So, Bihar and so on, yeah. 

Sudipto: Right. And it's so interesting that you mention this hostility, or this, or this conflict, because a lot of it, uh, mirrors what was happening in so called Hindu society. Because I was reading You know, Ambedkar's entire debate and you know, even when you talk about separate electorates, Gandhi's fear was that Hindu society will be divided.

Right? And here we have within Muslims, a group which is saying exactly the same thing, which is a Muslim nation is one thing, but in that Muslim nation, what place do we have? So, we will definitely obviously come back to this in more detail. I'm just trying to like, you know, lay out the, the, the landscape a little for our viewers to give a sense of, you know, Where your haters are, 

Khalid: right?

Yeah. So I mean, I need to say this. I mean, so, uh, when we talk about the pre partition period, so there is emergent Hindu nationalism and Muslim nationalism. 

-: Yeah. 

Khalid: And in both these, uh, spheres, you see anti cast voices challenging. So [00:07:00] Amme is in the Hindu National, he's challenging the Hindu nationalists and so on.

And Absa is challenging the Muslim nationalists. So there is a tension. Between those who are monopolizing the religious identity. And there is a tension between caste and religion. Even at that point of time. So, those who have a strong experience of caste, they are taking on the category of religious nationalism.

And most of the religious nationalism, it is dominated by the Dvijas in the Hindu sphere, and by the Ashrafs in the Muslim sphere. People who have no interest in 

Sudipto: erasing the conversation around caste. People who have no interest in erasing the caste, but who want to erase the conversation around caste.

Now, the third category of your detractors. You know, haters is too strong a term. I'm using an online term. But these detractors come from the Ambedkar tradition. Right. Uh, I'll let you explain where exactly their critique is coming from. And, you know, some of it may be even unfounded, let's say. But it has, Received a sort of a lift, you know, there is a certain [00:08:00] section among Ambedkarites and some others, you know, amplifying the points that Modi made recently in the context.

And see, this show is not about elections, Professor Ramachari. It's about isms, it's about ideologies which I suppose are relevant in the context of the elections. But I suppose these are questions which will be relevant going forward for the next 50 years too, right. So, nevertheless, in this election, you must have noticed question of Muslim reservations and how So, a small section of so called Ambedkarites came and amplified that thing, right?

Now, where is that coming from? I'll let you explain. I have some questions about that as well, but where do you think that's coming from? So again, it's a 

Khalid: complicated, uh, question, but I see, I mean, I could, uh, discuss this with three broad, uh, uh, themes. So, one is how we frame and interpret caste in general.

So, once we, uh, try [00:09:00] to discuss that, uh, then obviously there is an orthodox view, which sees caste as a Hindu phenomenon, right? Uh, and if caste is a Hindu phenomenon, then obviously caste within so called egalitarian traditions, like Islam and Christianity, it becomes an anomaly. So, and this is a very dominant view.

So, it sees that with subsequent Islamization or Christianization, the Muslims and Christians may be able to transcend caste. Because it is primarily a Hindu phenomena. This is a very orthodox view which is shared by also most nationalist thinkers, also anti caste thinkers. Uh, in contrast to this orthodox view, there is a minor Hindu and there is a minor 

Sudipto: Hindu and Buddhist anti.

Khalid: Uh, again, it gets a bit complicated because, uh, many Buddhists and many Sikh, uh, they are running with the hair and hunting with the hound. Uh, if I can say that. Uh, but again, we can come back to it later because I, again, there are all kinds of [00:10:00] tensions between. One, the Abrahamic and this Indic distinction on one, on the one hand, and on the other even the various tensions within the Indic faith family, right.

And this distinction in itself is a very politicized distinction, right. Uh, it's a complex thing, let, probably we'll go into that later. Uh, but where this is coming from is that if caste is a Hindu phenomena, obviously it's an illegitimate category. Within Christians and Muslims, right? Uh, so, so that is, and there's an orthodox view, uh, uh, which is a minor view, but it says that caste is a South Asian phenomena.

It should be seen as a principle of social stratification, uh, as a principle of political economy where land relations, power and so on are essential. Uh, in that sense, the, i, they should be cast, should be seen as a complex. Where the political, economic and [00:11:00] ideological factors, they are seen as an articulation, right?

So, if it is seen as a South Asian phenomena, which controls land, power, sexuality, knowledge and so on, irrespective of religious, uh, so, all religions are legitimizing that. Right. So, Islam, Islamic production, religious production in India, it legitimizes caste. The Christian, uh, religious production, it also legitimizes caste.

So, here caste relations are couched in a religious idiom. Whether that religion is Hinduism, Christianity or whatever, that doesn't matter. So, this is the heterodox view. Obviously, in the mainstream Amitvai discourse, it is the orthodox view which is dominant. So, again, Muslim lower caste and Christian lower caste, they strive for legitimacy.

That caste is there also. They also face discrimination. There is humiliation, quotidian, violence, because of caste. And there is a lot of empirical evidence [00:12:00] on that. Uh, so, so, that is one. The second is the question of internal justice. And there are some So obviously reservation has its benificialities.

And there are some significant caste groups which are numerically significant. They have been able to negotiate with democracy much better than other castes which have lesser numbers. So, first part of the pole system. It is in per se, very insensitive to micro communities. So, those communities which politicized earlier within the Dalits, those which have larger numbers, uh, so they have a better chance of negotiating democratic politics.

And that is also captured in that Kashi Ram, Maheshwar Kashi Ram slogan, Jiski jitni sankhya bhaari, uski utni hissedari. Right? Uh, Paswananda discourse has a counter slogan. It says, Jiski jitni So, if you are really committed to anti caste politics, to democratic politics, then those significant caste groups, which have larger numbers, uh, they should be sensitive [00:13:00] and empathetic to other Dalits irrespective of religion, which have not been able to make into the democratic game, right.

So that is the second. I think there is a closure because some caste, they feel that they have a monopoly over the quota. And the moment someone challenges that, not only Dalit Muslims, Even, uh, even some insignificant communities within the so called Indic or Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh Dalits, uh, if they stake a claim, uh, then obviously there is a, uh, there is a blowback from that section.

So second, I think, is the closure, uh, about how, what our imagination of justice is, and whether SC quota should be diverse, uh, should be, everyone should have a, have a share in the cake. Third is a much more sinister one. And that is what I say when I compare some of these social media celebrities and some of these academicians.

I compare them, uh, with [00:14:00] mercenaries in the medieval era. The Turco, uh, Abyssinian mercenaries or the Pura Vida Rajputs. So they are very Catholic in terms of ideology. They don't have any ideological commitment. And they sell their services to the highest bidder. Right? So, I see many of these celebrities to play the role of the social media mercenary or the social media ninja, uh, uh, they are smart people and they sell their services to, uh, the high, second is, so one is the theoretical prism.

Second is this notion of colonizing, capturing the quota of certain advanced castes. And the third is obviously the political. So, uh, so I think that kind of handle is coming from all these three. 

Sudipto: Sure. Sure. And, uh, when you, when you, when you pay attention to what they're saying or, you know, what, uh, what they want to evoke in somebody, I suppose to a great extent, the, the, the, the message [00:15:00] seems to be that your share is under threat.

And that's like you said, you, you quoted K that need not be Mm-Hmm. , right. You what are the term? And ndi sometimes,

which means the proportion to your population, you will be represented. Mm-Hmm. at, in, in a situation where there's a barrier to your participation. There is, uh, you know, an, uh, an artificial system that is created to, to promote your inclusion. Right now in all of this, uh, I suppose where this is coming from is.

Your hissa will be taken away, is the discourse. There is this kind of fear mongering that your, your share is under threat. This, this creation of a sense of scarcity, let's even say, that this is scarce, the government jobs are vanishing, and these people are going to take your, some, I mean the Prime Minister said take your Mangalsutra.

We'll leave it at that. But, you know, but there is this scarcity mongering. And don't you think that leads to the question of, uh, or should [00:16:00] lead to the question of why is there a cap, for example, when 70, 80 percent of India, or perhaps more, even 90 percent of India is comprised of caste oppressed people, the real question should be why can't the cap be increased, but instead the focus is on your share will be taken away.

Do you see that happening here? Um, 

Khalid: some sections, uh, Uh, which are used to, uh, benefit, use, they're used to benefiting from the quota. So some of that fear, I mean, one can understand. Uh, But again, we are talking about, 

Sudipto: I mean, obviously, I mean, those 

Khalid: kinds of fear can be invoked. So families, because there is no creamy layer in the SC quota, right?

So some families have been enjoying that for three, four generations, that quota, as 

Sudipto: it is intended to be. Yeah. As it is intended to be. The entire project is to create intergenerational wealth, you 

Khalid: know. Yeah. So, uh, so some of that fear is legitimate, but again, I mean, we are, when we are talking about the SC quota, we are talking about more than [00:17:00] 1, 000.

Right? And even after independence, about 540 to 600 castes, Hindu caste, Buddhist caste or Sikh caste, they have been introduced into the SC. Right? So, the SC list has been constantly expanding. So, my question, my counter question would be, if 400 500 new castes can be introduced in the last 50 60 years, why can't Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians be included?

One, because So, that is one. Uh, second, obviously, we are not, we are not, I mean, the Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians, their demand is democratic, right? Uh, no one is happy that to eat into anyone's share. So, we are also demanding for a caste census. And then increasing of the 50 percent cap. So, increase the cap, uh, and sub categorization is not an anathema.

Sub categorization is already there in the OBC. In many states, there are sub categories. So So, in principle, if there are subcategories in any category, that should not be a problem because [00:18:00] if you are talking about democratic politics, four or five castes cannot be allowed to, uh, completely dominate any category because that category is for all the elites, right?

So in that sense, there would be demand. If some people, some sections feel that they are being left out, uh, of the SC quota, obviously they will raise their demands. Those demands can be in the form of subcategories or whatever, whatever form it takes. But the central question is about internal justice.

The more democratic politics deepens, more and more jatis will come into the democratic circuit. And the more politicized they are, they will lay a claim. They will lay a claim into that category, right? 

Sudipto: Why do you use 

Khalid: the word jati? Because I think jati is the important term. So, jati is a widely felt term.

So, doesn't mean anything, right? Everyone knows their jati. Right, whether it is Hindu, Muslim, Christian or whatever community. So one is quite aware of this Jati and Jati is also, uh, the principal unit through which [00:19:00] marriages take place, it is related to occupation, it is a much more widely felt category, uh, so in that sense, yeah.

Sudipto: Because obviously Varna might not apply theologically, theoretically, practically in say a Christian milieu or a Muslim milieu, but Jati Jati does play a role. So the Biradri, the term that is used, or Zaat, which is a term that is used among Muslims, It's almost similar to, yeah, it's similar to Jati, you know.

And the, and the, and the caste census is a tool to demystify, yeah, or to. Absolutely. That 

Khalid: is why when most of these politicians talk about that we'll get data for OBCs or we'll get data for SCs, Uh, I think that is not the important point. The important point is to get Jati level data for each Jati. For instance, Muslims have 700 Jatis.

Indian Muslims have 700 Jatis. So we don't want data for Indian Muslims at all. We want disaggregated data on the jati level, uh, their lived experiences, where they are in the power structures, what is the kind of, uh, daily experience of caste [00:20:00] discrimination that we face. So, the Ahmada Muslim, the Halal Khor Muslim, the Bhangi Muslim, the Scavenger Muslim, their position is not the same as the Julaha, or the Qureshi, or the Saifi, right, the carpenters or the weavers.

And the position of a weaver or the position of a butcher, the Tassai, is not Pardhans. So we want Jati level data and that is what was done in the caste census, caste survey data Bihar for the Jati level data. So that will help us in recategorization, uh, better. That would give us a sense of which community stands where in terms of representation, in terms of power and so on.

So I think when we talk about caste census, then we are actually talking about the jati level data, which jati has how much control over land, over resources, what is their educational standards, literacy rates. Uh, Indugami, we need to know how many people are marrying outside their caste. Uh, [00:21:00] because in India, most of the marriages are arranged marriages, right?

So we need, because Indugami is also a way to perpetuate caste order. Okay. Right? Through the inheritance, through bequeathing your wealth to the next generation. So we need to find data about, uh, uh, managers. How many endogamous managers are taking place? How many love managers are taking place? We need that kind of data, right?

So I think caste census is very important to frame any meaningful policy. And many of these debates are happening, many of these contestations, many of these polarized conversations within the bowels, they're happening because of caste. There is no caste census since 1931 because we don't have data. So we are fighting in the dark.

We are just dangling our swords in the dark. So if we have much more meaningful, much more concrete scientific data, probably many of these issues can be resolved through conversations, through a democratic dialogue. 

Sudipto: So Professor Ansari, let's, let's try and cut rhetoric a little more with some amount of science.

Right? Now there is this [00:22:00] rhetorical statement, which is obviously a lot of hate mongering, which Muslims have had to face for a long time saying that you are Mughal. 

-: Mm, 

Sudipto: you've been rulers and now recently some of the people who've been amplifying Modi have been saying that there's no moral justification for a demand for affirmative action from Muslims because you've been rulers this Mm-Hmm.

you don't have moral justification that your moguls that can be go into South Asian history and really actually look at the moguls. And I remember you talking in the past about the distinction between moguls and the majority Muslim. of the subcontinent. Like, where does science help us understand this?

I mean, we have anthropology, we have history. You tell me. If you look at 

Khalid: the Muslim, South Asian Muslim society, so there are four broad status groups, right? So, first are the Ashrafs, which are the, which are the elite Muslims, the privileged caste Muslims. And they would be casted like Sayyids, Pathanas. [00:23:00] So, Mughal would be one Jati within the Ashrafs.

Right. So, that is one. The other three categories are the backward Muslims who converted from, uh, Shudra caste earlier. And they 

Sudipto: existed before the Mughals came. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Before an Islamic ruler set up shop in subcontinental Asia, there was already a very large Muslim population.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, there are two ways. So, 

Khalid: the Mughal Sultanate, before that, there was the early Delhi Sultanate period. That is where conversions happened. And they kept on happening with varying intensity and so on. To go into conversions, it's in itself a complicated, a complex debate because at the heart of so called Muslim empire, uh, the conversions were very low, very less.

And most of the conversion happened in the north western frontier provinces or the so called Bengal, Bengal or [00:24:00] Bangladesh region, right? So, uh, And these areas were outside the circuit of caste. Most of the conversion happened from Adivasi communities. Those who were living in the forest and so on. So that is Richard Eaton's thesis, that Islam did not spread through the sword, but it spread through the plough, right?

So, the Sufis went there, they cut down the forest, they brought this land into the agrarian circuit, and then most of these Adivasis, they also converted. That's why you have dense populations. in the eastern parts of India, which is Sundarbans and beyond that, and the north western frontier provinces.

These were not really caste based areas, right? And in the center of the Mughal Empire, or center of the so called Muslim Empire, Uh, even after one thousand years of Muslim rule. So, in UP and United Provinces, the population of Muslims is hardly 14 16 persons, right, in that sense. [00:25:00] So, again, when we talk about, so, the other three categories, other three status groups are the backward Muslims, so, uh, artisan communities, peasant communities, and so on.

Then there are Dalit Muslims, who converted from ex untouchable communities, the halal, hozlal babies, Muslim Bhagi, Scavengers and so on. Then there are Adivasi Muslims. So, Vangujars, Goan Muslims, Bhi Muslims, Lakshadweep, the Muslims of Lakshadweep. So, again when we talk about Muslims, yeah, we are talking about around 700 different Zats, different Miradris.

And if you look at medieval history, then the so called Muslim ruling class. relations with so called Hindu elite classes, right. So, if you look at Akbar's court, the Navratnas will include Brahmins like Birbal, Rakhus like Mansingh and so on, right. And the distance between the Muslim ruling class and the Muslim [00:26:00] Praswandas, right, or the Muslim lower caste, the Adivasis, the peripheral tribes, the backward Muslims or the Dalit Muslims, it was much more greater.

When compared to their proximity with the Hindu ruling class. Oh, can I 

Sudipto: squeeze in one question, one question or observation over here? So if you look at the imagination of Muslim sovereignty, let's look at three examples. Let's look at Pakistan, let's look at Kashmir, uh, let's look at Bangladesh. Now in each of these three places, the basic contradiction appears to be, the fault line appears to be along caste lines because NWFP is the contradiction of Pakistan which is Pathan Punjabi.

Uh huh. Kargil is a contradiction of the Kashmiri imagination for a, you know, autonomous reason because Kargili Muslims are like, we are tribal, right? We carried your, you know, the riches of the silk route into the Kashmir valley so that you could have your, uh, you know, art and culture and wazwan, what not.

We brought the bakra for your wazwan. And today if you look at the [00:27:00] Bengali culture, nation, so to speak, and the Muslim Bengali nation. Uh, the contradiction of that Muslim Bengali nation is today outside our door. Where a Bengali Muslim, let's even say from Bangladesh, is coming and collecting garbage in Hindutva, India.

Right? You will find Bengali Muslims working in the garbage sector in hard Hindutva states. Rajasthan, Gujarat, you know, Maharashtra. Of course, in Bangalore also, a person is coming outside. So, this is what? The caste contradiction, you think? of these Muslim imaginations of a sovereign nation? 

Khalid: I think there are also regional histories and there is no singular monolithic Muslim culture.

So, what works for western Pakistan or now Pakistan would not have worked for eastern Pakistan, now Bangladesh, right? And the situation of Kashmir in itself is very diverse. So, the experience of a Kashmiri Gujar Muslim Uh, or the experience of a Shia Muslim from Cargill. Mm-hmm. right, is very different.

Tribal [00:28:00] tribals also. And sometimes also, uh, there, there also some other kinds of Shia there 

Sudipto: In Cargill. In Cargill, 

Khalid: yes. So, so if you, even in Shs, if you see there ares and non shs, ah, so the, say Shias would don the black headgear, non sea would don the white headgear, right? So all kinds of differences, even within the Cari, uh, Shias.

And in, if you come to the valley, again the valley is dominated by the elite, Miz, and so on and so forth. And the lower caste Muslims have usually been used as foot soldiers in the elite games, right? So again, all these regional histories are different, but obviously, I mean, caste is a weight all across, uh, I mean.

but caste. So, Muslim League is elite aristocratic Muslims. They are extremely sceptical of land reforms because of the [00:29:00] Nehruvian, this, this notion. The Nehru was very close to socialist ideals and so on. So, many of these landlord aristocratic Muslims, they were extremely anxious, sceptical. Thank you. And that is where the demand for Pakistan comes from.

It comes from the landlords and so on and so forth. Right? And it is usually the Aligarh elite, those who studied in Aligarh Muslim University, that campaigned extensively for this independent nation of Pakistan. Right? On the basis of religious identity, this notion from, this movement from our community to a nation, right?

It has an interesting trajectory. But it is very clear this nation is, is crafted to satisfy the power urges of the Ashraf Muslim aristocratic classes usually from UP and Bihar. Right. Uh, and that is why Moment Cons was [00:30:00] challenging. It, ab he was challenging it. He was from Behar and, uh, originally from up, but he's worked in Behar.

So, uh, again, so, so that is one of the context. But again, I mean, uh, within 20 years it is very clear that, uh, some Muslims are equal. But, uh, so that , if you give it a spend, all Muslims are equal, but some are more equal than others. That is what the Bengali Muslims felt. And then Bangladesh happened, right?

So there are all kinds of, uh, uh, all kinds of cleavages and contradictions within the Muslim society. Uh, and just like any other society. I mean, they are diverse, it's a diverse community and they are, Muslims are made up of flesh and bones. They are as passionate, as crafty, as noble, as truthful, as lying as others.

As human as As human as, uh, just, uh, just as human as any other community. Right. Since 

Sudipto: you mentioned the Aligarh Muslim University, this, this concert between Aligarh and Banaras Hmm. , [00:31:00] you know, I think that's what we are talking about. Right? So it is a long thing. This one, this, uh, this, uh, tug of war between 

Khalid: DU and Hindi.

Then A MU and BHU. Exactly. Then mu uh, then Muslim league and Hindu Saba. Mm-Hmm. , right. Then Pakistan and India. So it's a, this hin Muslim binary. It's a, it's a very colonial, 

Sudipto: actually. I mean, you've spoken about it a lot. You think, I mean, I, I, I, I hope I'm quoting you correctly. You say that, why is the question of caste being reduced?

Uh, to a Hindu question, why is it, it is an, it is an essentially South Asian question. And I'm throwing that to you back, and what do you mean by that, and why, why, why do you think there's greater need to look at that? 

Khalid: I mean, if you look at before late colonial, pre colonial period, so I can refer you to Norbert Peabody's very interesting essay, I don't recall the title, uh, but it is a paper on a consensus.

In Rahan, which was done by a [00:32:00] Hindu Raja, right? So if you look at the tables of that cast sensor, this is pre late colonial, uh, or pre-colonial, probably. Uh, if you look at the tables, uh, then there is the distinction between touchable, caste and untouchable caste, irrespective of religion. So intouchable cars, you'll find rams, you'll find, uh, s you'll find other community batons there.

And among untouchable cars, you'll find the Muslim jha. You'll find other cars. So. So, in that table it is very clear, in the pre colonial imagination, religion is not the overarching category, right, caste is a much more stronger category at that point of time. But if you look at the colonial census, right, religion becomes an overarching category and caste becomes an internal moment within the religious identity, right.

So, this is a shift that happens over a period of time. And that is where, so when someone says that caste is invented. So, my spin on this invention [00:33:00] is that caste being a South Asian phenomena, a pan religious category, which is a, which is a social stratification, it's a complex of social stratification, complex of political economy and religious ideology, it is reduced to an internal movement of Hinduism.

during the colonial period, right? And that is what I'm saying is the orthodox view of caste. That caste is a Hindu phenomena. It's a religious phenomena. And once you enter, once you interpret caste as a Hindu phenomena, then obviously, caste within Islam and Christianity become anomalies, right? And the idea is that with subsequent Islamization or Christianization, caste will be annihilated within Muslim.

But that has not happened. Empirical reality is different because who leads the Islamization campaigns in India? So if you look at Islamization or Islamist political formations It is Syed Abul Ala [00:34:00] Maududi, right? Whose imagination is large. 

Sudipto: And there is such a pluritanism also, I mean, in terms of theology also.

Khalid: Yeah, and Maududi Is a caste taste. 

Sudipto: Mm-Hmm. , 

Khalid: uh, in the sense that if you erase caste, that is also casteism in a sense. Of course. Yeah. Absolutely. 

Sudipto: You invisibilize it, you invisibilize 

Khalid: it. That is also, yeah. Yeah. So what is is happening is that the faith identities, uh, they are working as equalizers. They're working to erase the experience of caste within different faith traditions, and that is what I alluded to, alluded to earlier.

that caste and religious identity are in tension. So when I'm using the term religion, I'm not using in the wider sense, where religion could also, uh, correspond to, uh, uh, uh, metaphorical explanations of existence and spirituality and so on. But when I'm using the term religion, I'm using it in a very concrete politicized sense.

religion as a political category, not [00:35:00] as a category of faith or spirituality and so on. So, in that sense, A political 

Sudipto: category in which power has been divided unequally. 

Khalid: Where religion category is a euphemism, euphemism. It's a proxy for upper caste power across religious communities, right? So, when we talk about Christian politics, when you talk about Muslim politics, when you talk about Hindu politics, it is basically privileged caste politics that we are talking about.

And in all these traditions, They are having a very tense relationship with the anti caste thinkers in all these communities. So, Muslim, Pashmanda, Dalits, Muslim backward classes, Adivasis, they are taking on the Muslim politics because that is basically Ashrafiya politics, right? Ambedkar and the anti caste tradition, it is taking on the Hindutva politics because that is basically the Dvij or the Brahminical politics.

So, that tension is still there. And that is why this notion of mandal kamandal, right? Uh, so, it is there. So, religion, politicized religion and politicized caste, they are in [00:36:00] antagonism to each other. 

Sudipto: Political religion, political caste being in antagonism to each other, and suddenly there is this category of the ST.


Sudipto: lot of people talk about, and this is something I just wanted to probably, you know, comment on in passing. Which is that, you know, in ST there is no There is no bar for religion. Whereas in SC there is a bar for religion. Chandrachur's son has, you know, brought out a new book and he says that there is a religious bar on SCs to disincentivize moving out of Hinduism.

To penalize them for moving out of Hinduism. On the other hand, there is no bar on exit in the ST category, which means you can take on any religion, to encourage them to Hinduize. 

-: Hmm. . 

Sudipto: Mm-Hmm. And we have seen this in different parts of India, you know, all the way up to Laak. Mm-Hmm. where we have seen the, in invocation of the Hindu identity among Ladakhi Buddhist.

-: Mm-Hmm. , 

Sudipto: you are definitely familiar with the work of the Vani Asra and all these Yeah. You know, we're trying to convert the tribal into [00:37:00] Hindu. Mm-Hmm. . We have seen that in the northeast as well now. Mm-Hmm. , right? Mm-Hmm. . Uh, there are ma anthropologists who say they're originally tribal, but today they are what they are, they're Hindu.

Right. So, in that sense, do you want to like quickly respond to this theorization that the entire categorization to an extent was, there was a Hindu subterfuge in all of this to enable SCs to convert to Hinduism to disable SCs from converting out of Hinduism. 

Khalid: Um, I'm not sure, uh, how to respond to that, uh, but I will enter this debate through another discussion.

All faith traditions in India, right? Whether it is Christianity, whether it is Islam, whether it is Buddhism, whether it is Hinduism, they have an evangelical dimension. Right? They want to convert. They want to increase their flock. Right? Uh, if you go to the colonial period, then obviously, Hinduism is evolving.[00:38:00] 

And Hinduism is facing a challenge Uh, from the Christian missionaries, from the Islamic missionaries, and there is a intense sense of lack because Hinduism has not really, uh, evolved as a much more, it's a very diverse, it's a very open tradition at that point of time in terms of cultural, in terms of its metaphysical cosmology and so on, right?

Uh, and there is a sense of lack and from 1890s onwards, if you recall, uh, Vivekananda's very famous Chicago speech. If you see that as a moment, as an important moment, where Hinduism starts responding to the challenge from Christian and Islamic missionaries. It is trying to reform itself. Um, trying to arrive, uh, at a global stage as a important faith tradition, right?

And then it 

Sudipto: can put you into trouble for saying this. Let me say it in that case that the Hindu evangelical movement is the latest on the block. 

Khalid: Yeah. So 

Sudipto: in response to, yeah, yeah. 

Khalid: So there's a historical, there is a context there, [00:39:00] right? But from that point onwards, you have Aurobindo, you have Gandhi. You have the RSS, Savarkar and so on.

Uh, then very recently, 2014, you have a very important test, uh, text by Anand Rambachan, who is a Fiji scholar, uh, theologian, works in the US. He wrote Hindu Theology of Liberation, right? And what is annihilation of caste? Annihilation of caste is a challenge that Babasaheb is posing. to the Hindu reformers.

Can you reform Hinduism or not? Right? That is the broad discussion. And many of the Hindu reformers have taken that challenge. They are trying to reform, they are trying to reform Hinduism, making it much more inclusive, uh, much more egalitarian and so on and so forth. Whether their motivations are sincere or not, I am not in a position to say.

But what I have seen in the last 120 years, is that Hinduism has reformed itself. It has become much more Semitic in that sense. It has, it is now, uh, in the image of the Ibn Hamlik traditions, [00:40:00] right? You have a central prophet, Lord Rama, right? Uh, you have a certain kind of a community, the Sangha, uh, and the RSS is very open to people from all castes.

And from 1978 onwards, they also opened the Shaka to Muslims and Christians. That was, that is the, from 1978 onwards after the emergency. Right. So in the shaha, uh, there is a semblance of, uh, some equality and so on. Uh, so, and, and now they're also converting, so awas that you're talking about. So there is also a process of, uh, evangelical and, uh, that, so in that sense, uh, the Hindu, uh, Hindu religion has evolved.

And every religion is dynamic because religion are not cast in stone. They are allegorical, they are metaphorical, and they will be interpreted differently in a different context, right? Uh, and religion cannot be only understood in abstraction. They have [00:41:00] to be understood in their relationship with the state, in their relationship with the political economy, and it is a dynamic field.

So, now my question is that all religions, I mean, the constitution gives us freedom of conscience, right? Everyone has a right. to spread their faith tradition. Everyone has a right to convert, right? Hinduism is now a much more confident tradition than it was say 100, 120 years back, right? It's a global tradition.

Uh, they have now, they are proselytizing tradition. You have branches in US and so on and so forth. A lot of theoretical work, a lot of theological work has been done. So one thing which I'm saying now in terms of the conversion debate is, That Hinduism and their champions, they need to decolonize themselves, come out of that lack, they need to feel much more confident, and also if conversion is happening, like it is being alleged or in some cases it is also true, through [00:42:00] say some allurement or through some coercion or force, then most states have strong anti conversion laws.

Isn't it? And this happened last year, probably when the debate was on. One of the Ambedkarite channels, he compared the Dalit Muslims with the kookies of Manipur. In the sense that if you raise this demand, we'll treat you like kookies. It's a threat. And this kind of a polarizing and threatening language.

I have never heard in the anti caste discourse earlier. This is very recent. There were always differences of opinion. People have differences of opinion within the anti caste camp, right? Uh, but this kind of a language, which are very strong polarizing tone, uh, it is very recent. I don't know how to explain that.

Is it because of the new ecosystem, the Hindutva ecosystem, or whether that is the language in which social media operates, that is the language which is, which is available to those who move in the attention economy, I am not sure how that works. [00:43:00] But this language from anti caste people, from anti caste intellectuals and social media This language is very new for me.

I don't expect people who are fighting, uh, for justice, who are in the anti caste discourse, to use that kind of a strong language against one of the most marginalized communities, which are Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians, right? So, Again, this is something I'm not able to figure out what exactly is happening.

Sudipto: So, Shannon was, uh, bringing my attention to something very important. You know, she said firstly, I mean, there are people who have said, um, you know, what is the anti caste in Christianity? Right. And you can, you can answer that theologically or like Shannon did, you can answer that in terms of historical fights that Dalit Christians have fought.

Right. And she was talking about from the time of Emmanuel Sacred and all of that. And then she, uh, brought attention to the. People who are at the moment fighting atrocities in Tamil Nadu. You have someone like a Kadhir, I don't know if you have [00:44:00] heard of this, evidence Kadhir. Shalin herself. And she is like, we are going to some of the most dangerous places in Tamil Nadu to fight for the rights of Dalits who have been victims of atrocities.

In many cases these Dalits happen to be Christian. In our case, if something happens to us, we can't even invoke the Atrocities Act. 

-: Hmm. 

Sudipto: And that, that, that actually set me off in a completely different direction and the real question that, uh, comes out of that is it is no, it's not, it's not only about sharing the pie.


-: yeah. 

Sudipto: Right? It is about addressing questions of life and limb. It's about addressing questions of humiliation, of dignity, of self respect. Right? So, how much of, of, of that is applicable in the Muslim dynamic? The question of humiliation, the question of violence. And violence, of course, I mean, we don't want to look at the, you know, the dictionary sense of violence.

You know that violence can come through frameworks, violence can come through many ways, not necessarily cutting and chopping. Yeah, yeah. [00:45:00] How does, if they were to be a Dalit Muslim category, let's say. 

Khalid: So, I mean, Dalit Muslims or even Paswana Muslims in general, they face two kinds of violence, right? One is the communal violence.

Because when communal rights happen or lynchings happen, then most of the victims in communal violence or in lynchings They are the Pashmanda Muslims, right? Because if you complicate it further, complicate communal violence through space Where does this violence happen? In slums, right? Where the poor Muslims live.

And who are the poor Muslims? There's a strong caste and class co relationship. So most of the poor Muslims would be Pashmanda Muslims Uh, if you complicate Uh, that with occupation, for example, most of these lynchings around cow, right? So, not everyone is lynched. So, the Qureshis, those who deal with cattle, right?

The Mewa Muslim, Mewati Muslim, the Qureshis, sometimes other lower caste, the Ghosis and so on. I think they are, uh, [00:46:00] they are victims of this lynching, right? So, Dr. Ambedkar, I mean, he was very insightful. He said that on a quotidian level, um, Uh, every Hindu lives in their caste community, uh, it's a divided house.

It is only during the communal riot when a lower caste becomes a Hindu, right, or Hindus become unified. That is what works for Muslims also. The life of Muslims, Muslims, it's a heterogeneous community, it's not a monolithic community. And a Hindu and Muslim is produced through the riot, right? Uh, so that is one form of violence.

So, I would say that communal violence, it is not only communal violence in the sense of religion. If communal violence is deployed by the ruling classes to unite people in terms of vertical solidarities of Hindus and Muslims, it is also caste violence. The communal violence is basically caste violence.

Because communal [00:47:00] violence is a strategic deployment, it's a strategic violence by the ruling classes. Right? To erase the question of caste. To erase the question of internal justice. To erase the question of caste experience within all religious communities. Right? So, that's one. Second, on a daily level, there is also Muslim Muslim violence.

-: Right? 

Khalid: So, upper caste Muslims versus lower caste Muslims. And in Bihar and UP there are 

Sudipto: a lot of stories around that. Right? Was an element of that in the Muzaffarnagar riots? is again, a criminal violence, it's a Hindu Muslim 

Khalid: violence uhhuh. But again, if you look at the, the 

Sudipto: Muslims in, that's what I'm saying.

Khalid: So if you look at, uh, this is again, something in the persona discourse. So most activists say that Muslims, the, the elite Muslims, the per Muslims, they offer the starter yogurt, right, Jordan, that is the word test. So when you prepare, so you, you add a starter yogurt and then the Yeah. Third of Cism is. So, the idea is that the Hindu upper caste and Muslim [00:48:00] upper caste, they are complicit in this violence, in this communal distortion.

In stoking it. Yeah, yeah. In treating it, in sparking it. So, that is what happened even in Muzaffarnagar. There was a huge, uh, discussion in one of the mosques, outside one of the mosques, in a Juma prayer. And that is where the Jat Mahasabha and all of that started. So, these mobs, they did not touch the mahalas of Mule Jats.

They did not touch the Gujar Muslims. They did not touch the Pathan localities. Who got lynched? Who got victimized in this violence? The Tehli Musliman, the Julaha Musliman, the, the Hajjams, the Nais, uh, who lived in the Jat villages, they were usually victimized, right? So even here you see, it's not a Muslim, it's not a Muslim violence, again, um, um, in that sense.

Not every Muslim is equally affected in communal violence. It is the lower caste, the Paswana Muslims, uh, who are mostly affected, right? Whether it is, uh, uh, [00:49:00] whether it is Gujarat, whether it is, uh, Bombay, whether it is Muradabad, whether it is Muzaffarnagar, there might be a few exceptions here and there, right?

But broadly, most victims are the Paswana Muslims. So, so that would be my, so there is Hindu Muslim violence. Uh, which is a much more strategic violence. I would say it is planned. It's a planned kind of violence and that is how the Hindu and Muslim is produced on a quotidian level through the riot. Uh, and then there is Muslim Muslim violence, Hindu Hindu violence between elite caste and lower caste within Hindus and within Muslims, which is much more quotidian.

It is much more organic. Right? I would distinguish between these two kinds of violence. But in both kinds of violence, it is the lower caste who bears the brunt. It is the lower caste who is used as a foot soldier and so on. 

Sudipto: Okay. I just wanted to point, I mean, [00:50:00] moving on, when you look at the question of, you know, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, the entire South Asian discourse around caste.

You've talked about decolonizing our understanding of how caste operates. Do you want to get into that and talk about what does it mean? You talked about decolonizing from the perspective of the Muslim colony or the Hindu colony, but from the perspective of the imperial colonists, right? Is there any lens correcting that needs to happen in today's time, different from how it was seen in colonial times?

Khalid: Yeah. So, I mean, I use this, uh, uh, the three Ds that I talk about. So, one is decolonization of the anti caste discourse, uh, then diversification of the anti caste discourse and democratization of the anti caste discourse. So, when I talk about decolonization, uh, I would say that this notion that one, caste is a religious phenomenon and two, caste is [00:51:00] a Hindu phenomenon.

This is, this is a very orientless, colonial way to approach caste. And we need to decolonize that and see caste as a complex of political economy and ideological factors. As a complex. In all religions that can be traced. So, so caste has to be relocated as a South Asian phenomenon, which organizes power, it organizes land, it organizes knowledge, sexuality, and so on.

Um. It's a pan religious phenomenon. So that is what, uh, I mean by decolonization of the anti caste discourse, of the anti caste discourse. Uh, the second is diversification. So, right, if you look at the anti caste discourses, then you find that the experiences of a few communities, it is privileged. And, for example, the experience of Kashmiri Dalit.

Right? Or the experience of Dalit Muslims and Christians, or the experience of a Dalit from, say a Muslim Dalit from Bengal, [00:52:00] right? Uh, so, so it is absolutely invisible. You hardly find those narratives, right? You find some narratives from Maharashtra, some from UP, some from Bihar. So I would say, I mean, also about the, the sexual, uh, LGBTQI, the queer Dalits, right?

Right? So, so the, the anti caste discourse, the experience needs to be diversified and these voices that queer Dalits, Dalit Muslims, Dalit Christians, different linguistic units, different areas, uh, I think those experiences need to be brought in to have a much more rounded understanding of what, uh, caste oppression and caste stimulation means in that sense.

So that is where I would say the second D, which is diversify the anti, the caste experience, right? Third is democratization, which we already touched upon earlier. So whether it is the OBC, whether it is the SC, whether it is the ST category. So some communities have, like I already said, some communities have been [00:53:00] able to operate democratic politics better.

They have been able to be integrated within the democratic vocabulary, within the democratic game. Uh, and a larger majority of SCs, STs and OBCs. They are still out of the game. I know many castes which don't have even a, never had even a single MLA so far after 70 years of Indian democracy, right? So these micro communities, uh, which cannot really make it because of the first part of the post system.

So can we think about how to, uh, how to bring them into the game, uh, within the first part of the post system or can we even extend the debate and talk about a proportional electoral system now? Which is much more sensitive to micro communities, right? So can we talk about politics in a much more democratic way?

Uh, and that is where the slogan, Jiski jitni sankhya bhaari, uski jitni zirme daari. So the more numbers you have, the more responsible you should be. You should care about those brethren, those your sisters and [00:54:00] brothers, who have not been able to make it to the, and they will never make it, in the first part of the post system.

Because that is the way the system works. So can we start democratizing the anti cars discourse? Can we start diversifying the anti caste discourse? Can we start decolonizing the anti caste discourse? And my sense is, it will not weaken, it will strengthen, those communities which are leading the anti caste discourse.

You have a much stronger solidarity, uh, of lower caste, and you will be able to, uh, make that 85 percent imagination of a Bahujan solidarity, right? Much more robust, much more stronger. Decolonize, diversify, democratize, 

Sudipto: and this you think can break, uh, not break, but help us evolve from the colonial conception of caste.

Khalid: Yeah. Colonial also post colonial. Post colonial. So there are closures. Uh, and right now, anti caste discourse is facing a severe crisis, right? It has reached a plateau. [00:55:00] All the old political parties, you They don't have any clue. BSP does not have any clue. Uh, even the other regional parties, they are clueless.

Those who, uh, were associated with anti caste politics. Uh, in Maharashtra also you have 47, uh, Dalit parties, right? What is the state, right? So we should be very clear that there's a severe crisis, both political and cultural and intellectual. And I think if we start thinking about three, these three Ds, Right?

Within the anti caste discourse. That is, that will give us a window through which to re articulate the anti caste politics for the present. Right? This spiral which started, the spiral of social justice which started from 1990s onwards, because of the Mandal movement, it is now done and dusted with. Right?

It is no longer working. Right? Because of a strong elite capture, because caste politics or anti caste tradition was simply reduced to electoral arithmetic. uh, to electoral politics and the cultural [00:56:00] knowledge questions, they were absolutely sidelined. And now, the young people from the lower caste communities who are studying in universities and so on, uh, I think they are thinking very creatively.

Uh, and within a few years, I am very hopeful, I am very, I anticipate a new spiral of social justice politics which will be very sensitive To these three Ds. And I think they will expand the anti caste discourse, uh, and there's nothing to be skeptical about, uh, because if we are up talking about justice, if you're talking about anti caste politics, it is not just for a few communities.

It is about 85 percent of the Dalits, Bahujan, Adivasis across religions. And this is also the working class. This is also the unorganized workers. These are also the artisans. These are also the peasants. And these are also the working class. So, if we have to have any sense of a democratic imagination for the future, then we have to talk about, uh, some [00:57:00] of these closures that we have.

Sudipto: Okay. Uh, but the reason I kind of came back to this 3Ds question, I wanted to ask you now, I mean, that's quite a projection and it seems like a logical projection going forward. You see another, a round of mobilization, a new discourse emerging from the, from the universities and you know that. Tell me, how much of a hit did the 3Ds take with the failure of Jogendranath Mandal?

The question of caste among Muslims, right, is something which was central to not just the politics of Ambedkar and what became India, but also to that of a person called Joginder Nath Mundur who was in the Muslim League who went into Pakistan thinking he will do what Ambedkar did in India and expose those contradictions in Muslim society in.

Pakistan back then and of course that he came back a heartbroken man, uh, back to India. That failure to establish that, that, that social justice discourse in, in Muslim [00:58:00] Pakistan, how much of a hit do you think that was on the 

Khalid: So it's a, it's a strange, uh, coincidence of history that independent India and Pakistan, both their law ministers were Dalits.

Yeah. Dr. Ambedkar here and Joginath Mandal there and both were heartbroken because the way the Dujas treated them here or the Ashrafs treated them there. Right? So what, so I would say the, the critique of Joginath Mandal against the Muslim League or Pakistan politics, it's a critique against Ashraf imagination.

So Joginath Mandal is struggling with the Ashrafi imagination there, just like Dr. Babasaheb is, is struggling with the Dwija imagination here, right? So that is one, uh, but again, I see a closure in both Babasaheb and Joginath Mandal. Babasaheb clearly in Pakistan or partition of India. He clearly states, uh, when he is discussing about castes within Muslims, he clearly states there that Muslims not only have caste, but they also have untouchability.

He clearly states, but does not take it to the [00:59:00] logical conclusion, right? He is still entering Muslim politics as a separate community despite he being very aware. And I understand why is he doing that, uh, it's a particular context. Similarly, Jogilnath Mandal, uh, so he's dealing with this Muslim League, Ashraf elite, uh, which are absolutely casteist to the core, right?

Uh, and the violence that happened, I mean, he bore the brunt, whether Dalits in West Pakistan or Dalits in East Pakistan, uh, uh, they were at the receiving end. And they were, I mean, they were heartbroken. So because they had thought Islam would be like that or Muslim nationalism is probably better than Hindu nationalism, but it's just the idiom, right?

So Islamic vocabulary could be different from Hindu vocabulary, but both are extremely casteist in the South Asian tradition. And this is what people learn from their own experiences. [01:00:00] Uh, many Dalits have not yet learned that. They are still seeing Muslims as a unified community, uh, Muslim as an undifferentiated community.

That is why this notion of Muslim, Dalit Muslim alliance, right? So Dalit Muslim alliance happened earlier during the partition. What came of it? Because Dalit Muslim alliance is basically a Dalit Ashraf alliance. Because who dominates Muslim politics? The Ashrafs dominate Muslim politics. And the Ashrafia imagination is as casteist as the Duija imagination.

If you look at Ashrafia discussion, they would crack as many jokes regarding Dalits. They would have a very humiliating understanding of what Dalits are. Just like the Duijas. So there's hardly any difference. Just to change your cloth from saffron to green or green [01:01:00] to saffron. The class is the same. The social stock is the same.

Uh, the strategies and logics which that class uses in order to consolidate power and reproduce power. 

Sudipto: It is same. Violence. 

Khalid: Wherever they are strong, they use violence to reproduce the caste order. Right? So, if there is an inter caste marriage, the Ashrafs would be as brutal as the Dujjahs. Because that is how power works.

It's not like there is some grand conspiracy happening. That is the way South Asian stratification works. That is the way the ruling class works, irrespective of religion. And the logics and the strategies are pretty much the same. 

Sudipto: I really wanted to have another hour with you actually because there's so much, so many rabbit holes to go into.

Yeah. Can I do one thing instead of, uh, going into those rabbit holes, you're a professor, right? Uh, why don't you give, uh, people who are watching this show, uh, some sense of what they should be [01:02:00] reading or what they should be, uh, you know, what, what, what, uh, sections of history they should be checking out.

I'll ask you some leading questions in that regard. So can you give me a quick rap of, of, you talked about early Basmanta politics. Mm hmm. Right. Can you talk about Pasupanda politics in modern India? What happened? Is there a quick rap? Is there some references you can give? 

Khalid: Yeah. So, I mean, so, uh, because of the nature of our conversation, we could not go into those questions, uh, but if you look at the Pasupanda category, so it was coined in 1998 by Ali Anwar, uh, who founded, uh, along with many other activists, the All India Pasupanda Muslim Mahas.

Right? And Elionor also wrote a book, uh, titled Masawat Ki Jan, which can be translated as battle for equality. So Masawat means equality, Jan, you know, it's a war or battle. So the battle for equality. This is the first robust articulation of, uh, Muslim caste politics, right? [01:03:00] So, so if someone wants to start, uh, uh, want, wants to read on the Pashmanda discourse, I think that is the place to begin with.

Masawat ki Jang, it also has an English translation now, right? So both Hindi and English translations are there. Uh, but the Hindi that Ali Anwar uses, because Ali Anwar, uh, was an accomplished journalist. So there's a, there's a very different flavor. In the Hindi language, which is lost in translation, when the English word.

It's not for the literary value, it's for the empirical value. So if someone understands and can read Hindi, I would always urge them to read the Hindi version, the original version. But 

Sudipto: for the empirical value, read the English one. Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Khalid: So I think that is where one should begin with. Then there are other writers, Masood Alam Falahi.

Again, I think his book, Hindustan, is Aad Paath Aur Muslimaan. He documents one thousand years. of casteist fatwas here. So that is the term that is used, Manu Mullahs, right? [01:04:00] Those Mullahs who are legitimizing the graded inequality within South Asian Islam. So it's a interesting compendium, a very good compilation of 1000 years of fatwas.

So Masood Alam Falahi could be there. Then obviously there are a lot of other writers including, uh, Kali Dhani Samsaadi, so, so there are others, so yeah. 

Sudipto: Okay. And do please read, uh, Kharidani Sansari. Uh, I wish I had more time with you, Professor Ansari, but that's all the time we have. That was Kharidani Sansari and his ism.

Uh, some of you would have agreed with him. Some of you have disagreements, I'm assuming. Please do write in with your comments. That's all we have, uh, for you today in this episode. See you next time. Thank you. 

Khalid: Thank you, 

Sudipto: Siddharth. Thank you.

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