Casteing about...

Over the centuries, the poison of caste has been variously sung about, lamented, protested, outlawed and adjudicated in this region. During that time, the economic and cultural foundations of – and, most of all, the religious sanction for – this abhorrent practice have all been sculpted to ‘perfection’, spawning replicas in all corners of the world. Yet while the new economic order and emerging professions have tended to blur the rigid lines, modernity and education have not done away with caste. Instead, the locus has changed, the forms have morphed, and upward mobility and reservation have allowed former ‘untouchables’ to pursue new vocations.

The April 2010 issue of Himal, that imaginative magazine based in Kathmandu, is on "The Future of Caste". The birth anniversaries of Jotirao Phule and Bhimrao Ambedkar, two stars of the anticaste struggle fall in this month, on the 11th and the 14th, respectively and its a good occasion to debate the issue. The question of caste is thus addressed in this issue of Himal through a range of subjects and issues: art, cinema, fiction, poetry, politics, civil society, theory.

The authors include Meena Kandasamy, Ashley Tellis, Prashant Kadam, Gail Omvedt, Chandra Bhan Prasad, Kancha Ilaiah, Priyamvada Gopal, Vijay Prashad, Dwaipayan Sen, Anand Teltumbde, C.K. Lal, Githa Hariharan, Nirupama Dutt, ND Rajkumar, Desraj Kali, Lokesh Khodke, AK Sivadas, Premanand Gajvi/Shanta Gokhale, S. Anand, Satish Deshpande, Shefali Chandra and Shiva Shankar.

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