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Indian Sociological Society

Review
Reviewed Work(s): Post-Hindu India: A discourse on Dalit-Bahujan, socio-spiritual and
scientific revolution by Kancha Ilaiah
Review by: Lancy Lobo
Source: Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 60, No. 1 (January-April 2011), pp. 149-152
Published by: Indian Sociological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23621008
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Book Reviews 149

ethnicity, conce
functions associat
America.
Clammer suggests a fresh perspective on the Sociology of Asian
Religions and of contemporary Asian societies. He tells western socio
logy the value and relevance of studying Asia; this may result in
development of models to socially analyse western religions. In his view,
globalisation is not only through economics and popular culture, but also
through mutual religious influences and their interplay with other
categories of social analysis. Here, the media has been instrumental in
exporting Asian religions westward to Europe and America.
Depicting the emergence of complex new sociology of religion that
is based less on local rooting than on religious networks, Clammer talks
about globalisation of flows of religious information and local adap
tations resulting in new syncretism. The emergence of this new pattern is
not simply a matter of individual choice; it is shaped by various factors
like state, politics, nationalist ideologies, perceptions of modernity, and
so on. Clammer explores the way community responds to these
challenges by rejecting modernity through political opposition, by
creating new forms of civil society organisations, or withdrawal into
privatised religion.
Clammer's book paves the ground for the study of contemporary
social-cultural dynamics and sociology of religion from a different angle
including secularisation, politics, religion, conversion and missionary
activities, etc. It revitalises interest in the sociology of religion by
relating issues of religion in Asia to broader questions of modernity,
globalisation, post-colonialism, popular culture, and social and cultural
change. Since religion has occupied an important but limited space in
sociological research of East Asia and South East Asia, this book is a
welcome addition to the sociology of religion and cultural studies.

Neelu Kang Dhaliwal


Department of Sociology, Panjab University, Chandigarh
<neelukang@rediffmail. com>

Kancha Ilaiah: Post-Hindu India: A discourse on Dalit-Bahujan, socio


spiritual and scientific revolution. New Delhi: SAGE Publications India,
2009, xxvi + 303 pp., Rs 295 (pb). ISBN 978-81-7829-902-0

In India religion has become a tiger, and it is at our own peril that we
may ignore it. However, universities and research institutions have been
paying little or no attention to religion. One reason for this being that the

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150 Sociological Bulletin, 60 ( 1 ), January - April 2011

British opened all kinds of departments in Indian universities, except


comparative religion. There are departments of philosophy, but the
they study religion is quite different from social scientists of all h
studying religion. Most of the studies on comparative religion in In
have been undertaken by foreign scholars such as historians, econom
sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and so on. These
only these have been giving us an idea of what is happening to relig
at the ground level.
Religion has been changing its character, but we know little about
It is this vacuum that rightist or extremist organisations have filled i
redefining and attempting to reshape respective religions be it Hindu
Islam, Christianity, or whatever. For example, in India today, it is la
left to the Sangh Parivar to define what Hinduism is and should be.
In the book under review, political scientist Kancha Ilaiah h
attempted to provide a comparative religious perspective. He contra
the religion of adivasi-dalit-bahujan from that of the dwijas, the up
castes. He provides a perspective on the dalit-bahujan universe
chapters 1-8: of unpaid teachers, subaltern scientists, productive sold
subaltern feminists, social doctors, meat and milk economists, unkn
engineers, and food producers. In all these chapters, the running id
argument is that 'Brahminical Hinduism adopted an anti-production
anti-scientific ethic, compared to the scientific, technological and p
ductive knowledge systems that the Dalit-Bahujan communities
developed and nurtured over the years' (p. ix). The knowledge system
institutions, and technological creativity of the dalit-bahujan is eth
graphically documented and glorified by the author. One often g
feeling that the author has taken great pains to unfold to us what we
denigrated or taken for granted regarding dalit-bahujan caste
pations. One gets first-hand information about the potter, carpente
blacksmith, leather worker, traditional healers, cultivators, and so on
In the remaining chapters, namely, 9-13, Illaiah targets the u
castes (Brahminic Hindus) or dwijas, namely, social smugglers, spirit
fascists, and intellectual goondas; identifies the symptoms of civil w
and predicts the end of Hinduism; and, finally, he concludes with t
chapter on post-Hindu India. The dalit-bahujan is pitted agains
Brahmin-Baniya in these chapters. The former are glorified and the
ridiculed. While there is some truth in this line of thinking, much o
narrative appears to be exaggerated by the author to make his point.
kind of polarisation between the two appears to be artificial. That b
these components have a working relationship, benevolent paternali
and not just exploitative, is something one cannot ignore. Besides, t

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Book Reviews 151

is a tremendous y
sanskritisation.
For instance, abo
fundamental know
resource for huma
as economists? Th
this country' (p.
Brahmin-Baniya
market. One thing
and totally differen
Illaiah has in ma
Brahminical Hind
worlds, the Hindu
that has no transf
is a fascist religion

Spiritual democracy
accessible to all o
scriptures nor the
relationship betwee
birth, race, caste, s

How come then,


Hinduism of the B
Having said the ab
Christian missiona
Hinduism which w
Arya Samaj, social
Sangh Parivar. The
on the back foot b
minorities, the m
Hinduism. But it i
missionaries/mode
reforms within H
place, and it has lit
What makes Kan
were outsiders, Il
easily brush him
intimidated, denig
Why I am not a H
for his current bo
perspective with r

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152 Sociological Bulletin, 60 ( 1 ), January - April 2011

caste Hinduism. His critique of Brahminic Hinduism is so powerful


much of the missionary critique fades into insignificance.
There are very incisive analytical points in this book. For instance

Hindu nationalism is not the nationalism of all castes and communities.


The 60 years of independent India have proved that it is essentially a dwija
nationalism, and the Brahmins and the Baniyas profited in the nationalist
period in a criminal manner. The mobilisation of the Sangh Parivar and the
dwija accumulation of wealth and power are a sure indication that one
nation, one people and one culture is a slogan to hoodwink the aspirations
of the Dalit-Bahujans' (p. 258).

Having said this, one must say that much of Iliaha's Brahmin
bashing is a kind of sociological imagination that has run riot. At best, it
is an ideological countering of Brahminical ideology. His language
(goondas, fascists, smugglers) somewhat hurts his cause. What begins as
a brilliant fare ends up doing damage to what Illiah wants to convey. Had
his language been more sober perhaps his ideas could have had greater
receptivity even among the Brahminic Hindus, except perhaps the Sangh
Parivar.
In all the glorification of dalit-bahujans, Illiah has hardly mentioned
the internal caste hierarchy among the dalits. The dalits have replicated
the Brhaminic model amongst themselves. They too practise purity
pollution. Castes in the higher rungs have reaped the reservation benefits,
while the lower castes have been left in the lurch.

Lancy Lobo
Centre for Culture and Development, Vadodara
< drlancylobo@yahoo.com>

Kogi Naidoo and Fay Patel (ed.): Working women: Stories of strife,
struggle and survival. New Delhi: SAGE Publications India, 2009, xvii +
245 pp., Rs 495 (hb). ISBN 978-81-7829-922-8

This edited volume brings to light, through true life stories, the different
problems faced by women. It tells the stories of marginalised women
who have fought for their rights, respect, and dignity. These women have
made many sacrifices and suffered many losses in order to succeed.
Their experiences are brought out without any distortion or trivialisation.
Each of these stories provides a challenging reading.
The book is organised in six parts. The first part is about women at
their workplace. Thenjiwe Magwaza discusses a woman's struggle in

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