Democracy only makes sense if it offers fair and equal opportunities to its citizens, including substantial participation of the most disadvantaged social groups in social and political affairs. However, nowhere does democracy work with such ethical riders. Instead, it is always the powerful and wealthy minority that hegemonizes public institutions and bars ordinary people from having engaging and critical perspectives against ruling elites.
In India, the ideological perspectives of the Dalit-Bahujan masses are often relegated as narrow, sectarian or particularistic, while the ideas promoted by social elites are branded as secular, nationalist and even universal. The ideas of the Dalit-Bahujan are seen as detrimental to the Hindu civilizational heritage and antithetical to the nationalist Hindutva project.
In the current political context, although right-wing supporters have projected the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to include Dalits, OBCs and Adivasis, when it comes to integrating their social experiences, literature and political ideas, it seems the government does not want to have a sincere association. Instead, the right is using anti-Dalit rhetoric as a political agenda.
The recent exclusion of the literary texts of the Tamil author Bama and the Telugu writer Sukirtharani (alongside Mahasweta Devi ‘Draupadi’, a story about an adivasi woman) from Delhi University’s English Department program simply reaffirms the right-wing’s fear and hatred of alternative scholarships from marginalized people.