/ Vol 1 Issue 3


Issue Details

Journal of People’s Studies
ISSN 2455-3115 (Online)

Volume 1, Issue 3
© Journal of People’s Studies, February 2016


Theme Articles


Special Articles



The Editorial


It is beyond any question that any society or nation is not void of religion of some kind or other. Today religion and its various practices have become the macro-determinants of social, economic, cultural and political aspects of any nation. Both in history and at present, religious beliefs, ideas, philosophies, structures, social systems, cultural patterns, institutions, rituals and symbols are in the process of exploration. There are theories that suggest a mode of interdependence wherein one sees religion as the soul of the society, but such a perspective does not take into account the existence of certain aspects of societies or cultures whose identifiable elements do not fit into popular prescribed religious elements. Such heterogeneity is confused with and against grammatical directives of dominant religious praxis and popular culture, which clashes with a societal interpretation of functional rules for a nation’s governance and policymaking.

Supriya Banerjee

Goldy M. George

Section 1 - Theme Articles

Religion, Politics and God Men

Last few years has witnessed a rise of a variety of God men with vast followers. Most of them talk in the language of spirituality, ignoring the issues of average people. In history we see that on one hand there are clerics, priests, maulanas, acharyas who had been associates of the landlord-kings and gave legitimacy to the rule, oppression and exploitation of the ruling classes. The saints talked the language, which related to the problems and travails of the people. These saints cut across religious lines – bhakti, sufi and liberation theology in particular. Many religions like Sikhism began as the syncretic traditions.

Today we see a plethora of godmen who have mushroomed along with increase in religiosity all around. The rise in the impact of identity politics and mushrooming of God men has been running in a parallel fashion, one does not see too many saints articulating the problems of poor people today. These God men talk in a mystical language and propound some of the conservative values while keeping quiet about the social ills prevailing in the name of religions.

While these God men have increased in number, topics related to religion and God men cannot be easily brought under the scrutiny of reason. Today innumerable social phenomenon have thrived which derive their name from religion. The whole politics, global as well as local, is wearing the garb of religiosity. Even in earlier times the clergy and saints were the two faces and two sides of the phenomenon of religion – the former relates to power while the later relates to power-less. Today the contrast is more visible but more complex than before. This paper probes these aspects of the Indian society.

Ram Puniyani

The author is a former professor of biomedical engineering with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. He completed MBBS and MD at the Nagpur Medical College. He is involved with human rights activities, communal harmony and initiatives to oppose the rising tide of fundamentalism in India. He has authored over two-dozen books and is a regular contributor to various journals, newspapers and magazines and associated with various organisations.

Keywords: Religion,  Secularism, Politics, God men, Sufi tradition

The Political Theology of Hindutva

Rohith Vemula’s death is not just an institutional murder; rather it is the systemic stratagem of a deadly design. His death has raised eyebrows of the entire world, as it is the continuum of the Hindutva assault on Dalit assertion. In many ways the radical Dalit politics espoused by groups like the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) is diametrically opposite to that of Hindutva. Nothing else punctures the pompous claims about Hindu civilisation, culture and rashtra, as effectively as the radical Dalit politics. Ever since Phule-Ambedkar discourse, the radical Dalits have pointedly questioned the very existence of a Hindu society, culture and civilisation.

Examining it from the Dalit-Adivasi viewpoint is crucial since it would unfold the dynamics of the social, religious and politics of communal fascism to the lowest level. In a broader perspective, communalism of polity is preliminary to fascism of polity. In today’s context what is going on in India it is not mere communalism of polity, rather it is the politics of fascism under the Hindutva brigade married to the corporate capital.

Thus in this paper I engage with a critical outlook of the very political ideology and how would it matter to the Dalits and Adivasis (or Indigenous people). I also engage with the questions of how caste fascism is the political theology of domination? What is the Indian perspective to understand the fascism of caste? What was the ideological upsurge of Hindutva? How did it domineered all aspects of indigenous life?

Goldy M. George

The author is an activist for Dalit and Adivasi rights for the past 25 years. He holds a PhD in Social Science from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Keywords: Hindutva, Caste, Fascism, Ideology, Dominance, Dalits, Adivasis, Indigenous

Deconstructing the Politico-Cultural Sociology of Devi-ism

This paper examines the existential pastiche of ‘Devi’ in India as a point of departure, and constructs a continuum which interfaces with the lived lives of Indian women; within which the issues interrelated to her development, empowerment and identities are reconfigured in the present day discourse. The all – pervading rhetoric of ‘Devi’ is a part of the male hegemonic discourse, and the modern day paradox lies in the desirability of a Devi, aka, ‘superwoman’, in terms of recognisable roles, images and models.

Beginning from the colonial period, the construction of a sacrosanct image of the Devi became one of the counterpoints to refrain the British from legislating internal affairs of the Indian family. Devi in her ‘spouse’ version metamorphosised the wife/daughter/sister model, and was marked by roles within the impregnable fortress of homes and domesticities. The women suffixed ‘Devi’ to their names, seeking an identity in the symbolisms of a created hegemonic patriarchal discourse.

Inspite of projection and interpellation through print and television media, different literatures and cinema, the image of modern Indian women is derived from the age old motif of the Devi. Not only is an attractive and desired self-image of women constructed, it also provides a normative model of citizenship for the gendered female. The construction of the brand new woman as urban, educated and independent excludes a vast number of women in the rural areas. In this paper I engage with the nuances of this construct.

Supriya Banerjee

The author is a faculty with the Rabindra Bharati University and is currently doing her PhD in. Comparative Literature, Viswa Bharati University. She is one of the editors of JPS.

Keywords: Historiography, Devi, Traditions, Social Markers, Empowerment, Marginalisation, Deconstruction

Socially Engaged Buddhism among the Immigrant and Refugee Communities in Southern United States

This paper discusses the phenomena of ‘Engaged Buddhism’ with a set of immigrant and refugee communities in Southern United States. Reflecting on 15 years of work with a Vietnamese Buddhist community in the rural southern area of the United States, the author is taking an (auto) ethnographic view of how Buddhist leaders engage in cultural preservation and community building. The immigration and rebuilding of the Vietnamese in US had a concrete context of segregation laws. Segregation laws were proposed as part of a deliberate effort to drive a wedge between poor whites and African Americans. These segregation laws helped maintain a caste system based on wealth (that is affluent whites against poor whites) and a caste system based on race (that is whites against blacks).

Fusing ideas of Engaged Buddhism and Social work, the author demonstrates how a Buddhist monk is able to navigate the broader American culture and assist Vietnamese immigrants and refugees to acculturate, while maintaining their own cultural heritage, beliefs and religious traditions; ultimately building a viable and sustainable Buddhist community.

Daniel Rhodes

The author holds a PhD and currently works as the Director of undergraduate programme on Social Work with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has extensive experience of engaging with Vietnamese immigrant and refugee communities.

Keywords: Engaged Buddhism, Social Work, Community Building, Vietnamese Buddhism

The Terminal Decline of Christianity in New Zealand

The 2013 New Zealand Census records indicate the reduction of Christianity to 47 percent. Retired scientist, Ken Perrott, charts Christianity’s decline in every recent census and projects its decline to just above 20 percent by 2030 and further, beyond that date. It is, of course, very unlikely to disappear altogether, but, equally, the chances of a major Christian revival in New Zealand are very remote.

This paper probes the process and reason of decline of Christianity both as an institutional mechanism as well as a doctrine. Christian critics confuse secularisation with secularism when they claim that secularism is government characterised by ‘the lack of any apparent, overt, visible interest in God, the Bible, religion or spiritual values’. The notion that government should attempt balanced compromises between all worldviews, that is political secularism, is not on their radar. They do not seem to take the point that their rigid views do not sit well with democracy and are inherently totalitarian in nature.

Ritualistically there are alternatives to religions. Over decades they have been conducting naming ceremonies, marriages and funerals as alternatives to church services. The majority of these ceremonies are now civil. The families experiencing a civil ceremony for the first time have found that a meaningful ceremony is possible without religion. On every possible occasion they have chosen that option. Churches have been undermined at an important point of interface between themselves and the public.

Today, in the high-intensity, market-setting, capitalist economy, it is a near impossible question, a source of confusion, as only extreme ascetics deny all forms of materialism. The major question probed in the paper is this unscientific doctrine of Christianity at it’s very base. What is the need of sustaining such unscientific mechanism?

Max Wallace

The author holds a PhD from Macquarie University in Australia and is Vice-President of the Rationalist Association of New South Wales as well as a council member of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists.

Keywords: Secularism, Secularisation, Decline, Christianity, Religion, Rational, New Zealand

Section 2 - Special Articles

Rohith Vemula's Death: Exposing the Political Criminality of Hindutva

Rohith Vemula’s dream of becoming Carl Sagan to write science abruptly ended. This 26-year-old son of a landless Dalit mother blamed none, friends or foes, but his death has already exposed their criminality stemming from their casteist mindset. In a spirit of revolt becoming the true moral tribute to Rohith, the students have immediately rejected the administration’s awkward overture and declared their resolve to continue their struggle, until the people responsible, including Smriti Irani are punished. This paper looks into the circumstances and the build up of the death of the young Dalit scholar and how the philosophy of caste discrimination is a natural outcome of Hindutva.

This paper probes how the public spaces such as universities have turned anti-Dalit and a den of right wing Hindutva politics. How institutional discrimination that has long existed could be understood better by investigating the case of death of Rohith and other students in universities. How death of a Dalit could be turned into a politics of gains and profits is also dealt in this paper. The Brahmanical section takes pride in self-righteousness, however none of these would go unnoticed by people.

Anand Teltumbde

The author holds a PhD in management and is a professor with the Indian Institute of Technology, Khadagpur. He has written over two-dozen books and is a consistent contributor to many journals, newspapers and magazines

Keywords: Educational, Institutional Discrimination, Hindutva, Casteism, Dalits, Communalisation Politics

Rohith Vemula's Death: Exposing the Political Criminality of Hindutva

The serious trouble India is in is evident by the unfavourable trends reflected by the economic indicators over the last one year. It calls for a serious introspection and the need of the hour is to initiate massive corrective steps to bring the economy back on the tracks, and to achieve India’s long-term goal to become an economic super power.  Indians have witnessed similar situation in the past on many occasions however it has always bounced back. The situation nevertheless is different in the present context. The ruling party seems to be consolidating its position by handing issues regarding culture, religion, caste discriminations, regionalities and social imbalances, which are not a part of national discourse. Innumerable issues for instance have become national issues due to mishandling and uncontrolled statements by those who are supposed to be custodian of the democratic principles of the nation. The focus of the Government appears to be shifting from development to dealing with discrimination, intolerance and social issues. Student movement in the country appears to be taking shape due unwarranted intervention and suppression.

Some of initiatives such as ‘Start Up India’ and ‘Make in India’ are some of the intended steps in the right direction. However, the Government should see to it that ‘Make in India’ campaign is expedited so that momentum is gained to see the early results. DMIC Project and Campaign ‘Make in India’ have now become crucial for the positive momentum in Indian economy. To complement the ‘Make in India’ Campaign, Government has also launched schemes for budding entrepreneurs of the country such as Start-up India, Stand-up India, Mudra Bank, Venture Capital Schemes etc. The economic should take a newer recourse based on how effectively India manages to implement these schemes in next couple of years. Next one year is certainly a crucial year for foundation for future economy of the country. 

Anil Yadavrao Gaikwad

The author is Research Scholar from Savitribai Phule Pune University. He is an engineer and management graduate from prestigious educational institutions in India. He is an ex-banker with 15 years’ experience in Banking. Presently he is practicing Corporate Consultant. He has vast experience in the field of Corporate and Project Finance. During career spanning over 26 years he has helped many first generation entrepreneurs to set-up, manage and grow their businesses

Keywords: Business, Economic Indicators, Entrepreneurship, Indian Economy,  Make In India, Start up India, Stand-up India, Schemes, Venture Capital