Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dalit "sciences"

Having studied at IISc, despite missing my PhD, I still love academicrigor and appreciate its value. The value of the dissenting voice isvery high in academics. The laws of majority do not work in suchmatters of the truth. Enabling the dissenting voice in the group topresent its difference of opinion is a mark of high culture. Tilldate, this group has shown similar culture. If local/global academicsis not in agreement and the academic sincerely believes that the viewhe/she holds has high value, then it is his/her responsiblity toself/discipline/humanity to struggle and enable the value of thatdifferent view to enrich the life of the community that he/she ispart of. It is sub-optimal and cowardice to run away from thestruggle. It is the struggle which enriches the community.Most social sciences (Anthropology, Sociology, Economics)are "positive". This means that they create theories which are usefulto explain social reality as it is. The "correctness" of thesetheories is measured by the scientists in terms of their utility toexplain social reality. Most social science theories do not have anypre-conceived notions about how societies should be. Theories whichhave such notions are said to have "normative" elements.Criticising "positive" theories, based on ones "normative"inclinations is not good academics.If dalit sociologists are finding it difficult to publish theiracademically rigorous work criticising mainstream work, I have'ntheard of it yet. Its possible that I am not part of the rightcircles. But then, I have'nt come accross any significant critique ofsanskritization (and similar potentially anti dalit theories) yet inbook/research_paper form, which are fora available to all. Are theretoo few dalit academics or are they not good enough to publish in thepremier western journals? Except for Kancha Illiah's dalitizationconcept I have'nt come accoss a single fresh perspective in a longtime.(see I keep coming accross is hatred spewing demagogues in variousshapes and forms. Even if they are sincere, their means prevent themfrom the goals they want to achieve. They don't care about not beingclear about what they are saying. They do not take responsibility forthe explicit and implicit meanings of their words and the damagessuch meanings cause. They don't even care about verifying theirtheories or about the presence/absence of proof form theories ofothers.I am not excited about dalit academics on the fringes of the regularacademics, since they risk degenerating into such demagogues. Atbest, "dalit academics" can be a station, it cannot be a destination.It sounds ominously similar to the dalit "wadi" on the fringes of thevillage wadis.With love, trust and hope
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