I am a teacher of maths, arithmetic to be precise, not a great teacher but an unconventional one: A school teacher without a school; without a place; without a job; without regular salary. A rare kind of a teacher who taught maths to more than one lakh students over 30 years. A teacher who ‘taught’ maths-teaching to qualified teachers, while myself being without qualification. A teacher who rarely taught in English cum Hindi without a formal training in both those languages: And that was when I could share platform with not one, but a few Nobel laureates. That was made possible by one Professor Radha Krishna (IIIT-Allahabad), one key organizer of science conclaves there, who never tried to know my caste, and never asked me to show my qualifications. He knew I am without a formal qualification.
I am telling my story here in the context of controversy created by Prof Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, to contest two of his recent pet theories, both linked to what he sees is Brahminism. One is about “Brahminical communists,” DV Rao in particular, who he says suppressed T.Nagi Reddy, a “shudra communist.”
The other is about his insistence on English medium for all children, more so for SCs, STs, Bahujans. He says it is a brahminical conspiracy that denied it to them. As a communist of Suryapet, Telangana, and as a teacher I have experiences which make me to reject both of his theories. This is in two parts : Part-1 as a dalit-born communist. Part-2 as a teacher.
The fact is English medium at primary level is useful only to the elite, including those of dalit bahujans, and harmful to the rural and poorer masses. That is a key lesson in my life’s experiences, both as a student and as a teacher. I was a student in Telugu medium and was poor in English, and poorer in maths, in which I scored 34 percent, in my school final (X Standard) Board exam but passed by addition of grace marks that year, to all students for some reason. It is basically no different for rural and poorer children even today, who fear both maths and English. I shall deal with this question in the Part-2 of this article.
I hope this article would be of some interest to social scientists in general also, even to those keen on knowing the social history of Telangana of those days, apart from those in teaching field.
Part-1 : Observations of a dalit-born communist
I first deal with his baseless attack and theory that DV Rao, who hailed from Suryapet area, was a “Brahminical” communist who suppressed shudra communist TN; it is all pure fiction. I saw his slanderous article and his views shared by friends, and being criticised in social media.
From the experiences of my life, and of so many of my comrades, including dalit bahujans, in Telangana (TS) and AP, I firmly reject his slander against DV, which is based on falsehood. Even India’s official records of Loksabha described that DV Rao “worked for removal of feudal landlordism in Telangana.” And for that reason, he was framed up in cases and hunted, forced to be underground. Even during 1952 election, revolutionary communists like him could not come out due to fascist conditions and military rule. It was only the Right wing among communists and some mass leaders who could contest, and that also not as CPI but as PDF.
Ilaiah the social scientist who becomes a writer of bad fiction
I also come from Suryapet, of undivided Nalgonda district of Telangana, where there was no place for Brahminism, more so in the party. I was born (1965) in a poor illiterate rural dalit family. While in High School, I became a communist, was active as a local leader in Students Federation, attended party classes, and by conviction firmly remain a Marxist though I am not in any political work. Hundreds of villages in Nalgonda dt were called as “communist villages” for decades. I write from experiences and observations of myself, and people around me : My father was also a communist follower.
Ilaiah uses, ironically, the word “Brahminical communist” of all people for DV who fought for land and liberation of the people, including millions of enslaved dalits and bahujans, who were forced to do vetti (begar), forced and unpaid labor by the feudals. And he glorifies English, a language imposed on its colonies by colonial British, as an agent of liberation of dalits and bahujans. I deem it my duty as a dalit born communist and a teacher who taught one lakh students to refute his falsehood, and both of his erroneous theories.
There are still thousands of dalit and bahujan born communists like me who do not accept caste politics in our Nalgonda dt. Our own experience is the basis for such an attitude. Nalgonda dt was the epi-centre of Telangana revolution (1940-1946-51 Oct). Its chief leader and architect DV Rao was from Suryapet, once known as Stalingrad, famous Russian revolutionary centre. DV was a communist who ditched the class and caste he was born in; so were many dalit bahujan elite who ditched their own people and served exploiting classes.
We are witnesses to such dalit elite who ditched their own people. Ambedkar in his Agra (almost last) Speech of 1956 March 18 lamented how educated dalits, those in govt jobs, ditched him : “some educated persons have reached high posts after getting education. But these educated persons betrayed me. …they are busy filling their own bellies.” We see them every day. They are there in universities also today, which are centres of casteist theories and politics in the service of ruling classes. The ‘Constitution-maker’ was defeated, in a seat reserved for SCs, in Loksabha elections of 1952, by such betrayers. Ambedkar was again betrayed and defeated in by-election of 1954 May. He was accommodated in Rajya Sabha. See the Nalgonda’s contrast below.
A Communist Citadel Built Through Telangana Armed Struggle
I wrote there was no place for Brahminism, more so in the Nalgonda party. In the same 1952, by contrast, Dalit-born communist Sunkam Achchaalu was elected (1952) to the First Loksabha from Nalgonda. Despite repression and betrayals by many, Nalgonda dt., of which DV was the key party builder and party secretary, remained a communist citadel for decades, which made it possible. Uppala Malsuru(SC) was elected communist MLA four times (1952, 57,62,67 ) in a row from Suryapet, the epi-centre of DV’s activities.
The Congress party of Gandhi and Nehru, so soon after 1947, a party that claimed liberation of Hyderabad from Nizam’s rule, of India from British rule, and of dalits from (by abolition of) untouchability was thus repeatedly defeated. People of Telangana, including dalits, saw their liberation from feudalism in agrarian revolution led by communists, not by Congress, which was seen as a party that served feudals and capitalists. There was a popular song those days about “the chameleon Nehru who changed colors, who spoke socialism, but had Tatas on his Right and Birlas on his Left, and carried Truman on his head.” (Truman was US President). That was the level of political consciousness created by communists, who spent nothing to win polls. Elders used to say : “Even if a stick is fielded by the party, that would win.”
Dharma Bhiksham (1922-2011), a toddy tapper (BC) by birth, was elected MLA thrice in a row (1952, 57,62) and as MP twice in 1991 and 1996, obviously in General (unreserved) seats. He was also of Suryapet, who became a Communist in his student days. Many like him who were Arya samajis were weaned into CPI with the help of an ideological struggle led by DV Rao. This is apart from those communists elected from ST Reserved seats, like Devarakonda, where communists won 7 times. Suryapet (BC) Comrade Omkar (1927-2008), first groomed by DV, was elected MLA five times, from Warangal dt. These were all dalit bahujan-born, but were known only as communist, not by caste.
They are apart from several communists of Nalgonda, born in so-called upper castes, who won like Narra Raghava Reddy , MLA 6 times in a row; and BN Reddy of Suryapet who was MP thrice, and MLA twice. Suryapet woman fighter comrade Mallu Swarajyam (1931 born) was twice MLA. DV was the Telangana Secretary and chief party builder, from Nalgonda. Until 1970s-80s, hundreds of Nalgonda villages were controlled by communists, majority of them led by SCs, BCs, STs. So it was in Warangal and Khammam dt. which were also a centre of Telangana revolution. They were called for decades as “communist villages.” SC-born communist leaders, as village-elders, settling family disputes of upper castes, who in turn obeyed them, was so common in Nalgonda. That was the kind of party built. It was broken by worst repression, by carrot and stick, for over two decades. Party split also was a factor.
Dalit Bahujan Elite Then And Now, Who Colluded With Ruling Classes
I mentioned above how Ambedkar felt deceived by educated dalit elite. That is how and why we feel deceived, not by communists, but by ruling class parties; and by educated, urbanized dalit bahujan elite who always forgot the plight of rural poor, and served the rulers. There were dalit leaders who served in the feudal Nizam’s cabinet: B.S.VenkatRao, emerged as Minister of Education in Nizam’s Government. There were dalit leaders who even headed Razakar hordes, like so many Hindu-born feudals: B. Shamsunder Rao, who worked for it in the name of Dalit-Muslim axis was an example. They were Hyderabad-based dalit elite who were close to the rulers, who never bothered about people’s struggles for land and livelihood. Such dalit bahujan elite are there today also, who worried only about their pay and perks, promotions and privileges. When a poor man goes to any office or a police station, for a small job, they are fleeced by bribes; the dalit bahujan official is no different from others. Some of these dalit elite are enjoying their privileges already for four generations. We in Telangana have dalit elite, one of whom, of a family of dalit Ministers, owns assets worth Rs.5000 crore plus. It is still revolutionary communists, despite shortcomings, who are fighting for the poor. Thousands of them laid down lives for the cause of the oppressed. Our district topped the list of such martyrs and fighters; DV was one of those who created and shaped such comrades.
I was with the party until it degenerated with more and more class collaboration. When I was a student leader, such a turn has begun. The communist parties, which called NTR and TDP as a pro-landlord party when it was formed, suddenly became its reliable allies within two years. Driven by vote bank politics, they went about carrying TDP flags, canvassing for them ever since 1985. It went on even after decades, and was not confined to election. It was then that despite my Marxist convictions, I kept away from them. There was the rise of revolutionary Left (DV etc), but life forced me into a job and I confined myself to be teacher.
Ilaiah’s writings on DV as the “Brahminical communist” are pure fiction, a bad fiction. Even when Ambedkar (on 1927 Dec 25) burnt Manu Smriti, the actual burning was done by his Brahmin friend Sahasrabuddhe. There have been such countless reformists and revolutionaries among Brahmins. And there were tyrants among sudras, and even SCs who stood by such tyrants. There were dalit leaders who served the Nizam who crushed the landless and poor peasantry.
Ilaiah now a days is so fond of shudras; his book on them, he said, is in the pipeline (Penguin). He reduces Sundarayya, Chandra Rajeswara, apart from T. Nagireddy into Shudra communists:“D.V.Rao an intellectual Vaman before a giant intellectual Mahabali, ” TN, a shudra with good English too! The Telangana feudals were led by Muslim Nizam, and Shudra Deshmukhs and jagirdars like hated Visunuru Ramachandra Reddy and Jannareddi Pratapa Reddy ; they were plunderers and tyrants, and had vast lands. The latter shudra for instance possessed land to the tune of 150,000 acres. The tyrant (shudra!) Deshmukh imposed begar (forced, unpaid labor) on everyone, from SCs to the Vaishyas and Brahmins, including their family priests. DV’s early (1946) booklet, Heroic Struggles of Jangaon People, was about his area. That booklet was the resource for so many speakers, songs, skits etc., and for the govt. which got it translated for the administrators too. Famous songs sung by millions of people were naming them ( Naa Kodaka Pratapa Reddy was the original written by an unlettered poor peasant Yadagiri… Bandenaka bandi katti …the song sung by dalit-born Gaddar in Maa Bhoomi, a cinema of 1980s, that was screened for more than one year. Though I was away from active politics, the revolutionary Left cultural movement gripped all of us in millions once again since 1980s. Tea shops in even small villages had those cassettes playing to attract customers.
There were dalits in Nehru and Indira Ministries that killed thousands of poor peasants and adivasis in TS and AP, not only in 1940-51 period, but also after Emergency (1975-77). Karamchedu and Chunduru massacres of dalit rural poor were by landlords who were shudras. In Telugu states, as elsewhere, the CMs have been mostly shudras after 1956. (PVN, ex-PM, was a brief exception, for 16 months, 1971-72). Dalit bahujan movements always spoke about them as “upper” castes, not shudras. But Ilaiah chooses to attack DV who all his life worked for the rural poor, SCs, STs, bahujans !
4000 peasants and anti-feudal fighters, including SC and ST poor, were shot dead and one lakh people were imprisoned in Telangana, most of them during Police Action by Union army (1948-51). It was so soon after 1947 August, and 1950 Constitution. Thus in Telangana people saw through India’s fake and name-sake democracy and Nehru’s socialism. constitutional democracy. The peasant struggle had a great impact on India’s first election held in 1952. In Telangana, despite worst repression and Police Action (1948 September till almost 1952 election) out of the 44 Assembly seats contested, communists won 36. A few more were won by socialists with communist support. Nalgonda Loksabha seat was won by communists by a huge majority : Ravi Narayana Reddy and Sunkam Achchaalu (SC) were both elected in the double-member constituency. They together polled more than 73 percent votes. Congress polled 23 percent. SC Federation (founded by BR Ambedkar) polled 4 percent vote. SCs and STs were overwhelmingly with communists. In 1957, Telangana revolutionary communist leader DV Rao was elected MP from our district.
People also saw that Constitution and Law did not come to their rescue; it served the feudals. Ambedkar said not a word opposing this autocracy that crushed the rural poor, let alone resigning from the cabinet when democracy was crushed. That was why SC Federation in Telangana got split, and one wing allied with Communists, against the advice of Ambedkar. In 1952 election, those who allied with communists thus won seats, and others heavily lost, as was the case in Nalgonda.
Telangana (1946-51) and DV Rao are now part of text books read by millions every year
As a teacher, I am happy to mention this fact : DV and Telangana were banished for decades from history text books, but not any more. The ruling classes are forced to remember DV in recent past thanks to so many movements, including for separate Telangana. Because of that since 2012-13 itself, in AP before bifurcation, Telangana peasant armed struggle (1946-51) came back with a bang into school text books, including a box item on DV with his photo. It also arrived as part of syllabus for competitive exams conducted for all govt jobs – Class I to IV jobs ! Thus virtually millions are now told of that great legacy. Thus lakhs of teachers and unemployed youth must read it now. So many general books, including one by DV, arrived. Osmania University also reversed its decades-old policy, and held a National Seminar on DV, with a keynote address by Anand Teltumbde, hailing him as the Father of Theory and Practice of Agrarain Revolution in India. A dalit-bahujan scholar like History Prof Inukonda Tirumali, who did a deep study on the subject, was an authoritative speaker who endorsed the key role of DV. There is now plenty of authentic literature on the subject now.
But with an ostrich-like attitude, unbecoming of a serious scholar, who did not care to look around before writing such things, about Telangana, he wrote slander against DV! What is behind him? People wonder. Ilaiah wrote an article (countercurrents.org, August 18, 2020. translated, in Telugu social media) with the title : Can Brahmins Bring Revolution: An Assessment Through The Prism Of Tarimela Nagi Reddy. He irresponsibly writes about DV as one of “Brahminical communists”. He says:
“ All other Brahmin leaders, writers and poets and did not reflect the agrarian and industrial productive masses ..They never soiled their hands… they always lived with “Vatti Chetulu” (empty hands) with a mischievous pen in the hands. They were in every stream of Indian thought as leaders–nay, as the priests…Simply because dialectically Indian Brahmins are always outside production without understanding the relationship between land, nature and labour as a Shudra/Dalits could understand they are bound to fail every revolution. That is the reason why though communist streams lead by Brahmin intellectuals failed to cause any revolution in India…”
He even cites : “As Marx rightly said, their consciousness is conditioned by Brahmin anti-production and anti-egalitarian living process..” ( countercurrents.org, August 18, 2020.)
Marx expected socialist revolution to happen in most advanced capitalist countries like England, France and Germany. Most of them are predominantly non-vegetarian also. But revolution did not happen still. We hope Brahmins and Brahminism are not coming in the way there! Does it look ridiculous?
His narrative is factually wrong, and is a gross blunder if not falsehood. The authoritative book by DV Rao, History of Telangana People’s Armed Struggle, Vol.I, in Telugu, (mother tongue of Ilaiah) reprinted three times proves him wrong.
DV’s Telangana History has dealt the subject with Caste-wise Sub-headings
Even a cursory glance at DV’s headings and sub-headings shows Ilaiah is blind to facts: Chapter 2 has a special “section 8 on Handicraftsmen and other artisans” of Telangana. He lists and deals briefly, with caste-wise sub-headings, weavers, toddy-tappers, Viswa Brahmins- Goldsmiths, carpenters, ironsmiths, Yadavs and sheep-rearers, fishermen, vaishyas. That is apart from washermen etc, and SCs engaged as farm labor, leather workers etc., who he recorded lived separately at end of the village . He lists and deals briefly about each of adivasis etc (STs), like Lambadas (banjaras), Chenchus, koyas, Konda redddis, Gonds. He mentions their issues of their life, land, livelihood, production, exploitation etc, cites the classic work, Tribes of India, by Christoph Haimendorf.
Then DV wrote : “Thus all these professions (services) had caste as their basis. Each had caste-elders who had subordinate relations with feudals and their village (revenue and police) officials like patwaris and patels…Except for a few activities like rearing sheep and goats, it was rare for one professional to do the work of another (caste)…” He mentions how each was deprived of his own products and cites a Telugu proverb: “The weaver has no clothes, the madiga (leather working SC) has no foot-wear”. Then he mentions untouchability. He mentions how landlords ridiculed communists, and says : “ We stayed and ate in the huts of harijans, and washermen.” He exposes the caste-class linkages. As a dalit-born observer of rural Telangana, I find it highly objective.
In spite of such clear and detailed coverage, Ilaiah indulges in pedestrian writing and blindly writes about DV as “without understanding the relationship between land, nature and labour as a Shudra/Dalits could understand. ”
How can he expect to be taken as a serious social scientist?
DV Was Born Brahmin, But Lived a Revolutionary : Glimpses Of His Personal Life
In this section, Glimpses of DV’s personal and social life, I state what was well known to comrades and people older generations in Telangana. I would not discuss party policies or theories, I am not competent to do that, but would confine to personal and social life of DV and his family. That is not only to refute Ilaiah, but also to inform people, particularly non-Telugus, about the life of an illustrious Indian communist leader.
For an account of DV Rao’s political life and work, see articles published in countercurrents.org, including the links given below:
We can not even imagine how a top leader, one born in a landlord family, lived a hard and frugal life even after he became an MP.
Even Telangana’s fiction or biographical writings expose Ilaiah’s bankruptcy. DV fought against feudals who included close relatives and other Brahmin feudals. One of his own brothers was killed by communists, and another brother was also a communist. It was a political division within the family. His wife and children, and others immensely suffered because of his being a communist, and a key leader.
All his life, he stood by the village poor, most of whom were SCs STs and BCs. Even his class enemies did not make such a wild charge. He went against customs and had married a widow in those days (1939), boycotted by his close relatives, including both parents. He had given his share of family land to the landless poor. He led a most difficult life, was in UG for longest period, and lived with the masses in scores of villages, elders who knew him say. Thousands of the poorest masses literally wept when they heard of his death on July 12, 1984, and joined the rally in his village near Suryapet, with his dead body, then widely reported in the media.
My Life and Memoirs, by DV Raos’ wife, Srimati Sree Rangamma
The autobiographical booklet (80 pages) My Life and Memoirs, of his wife, Srimati Sree Rangamma (1928-2006), that was published (15 years after his death) in 1999, and reprinted in 2006, gives a few glimpses of their personal and social life, of interest to any social scientist. I cite a few facts:
Though DV(1917-1984) was born in a traditional Brahmin family, he did not live that way. The social scientist Ilaiah should have taken care to do a little bit of home work before writing a false narrative about an illustrious comrade. It was really not needed to build his casteist theories. Scores of people of Nalgonda dt hosted DV in his prolonged UG life, and elders tell us how he led a simple life, away from his class and community. He refused to accept the pension, even the one he was entitled to as an MP, offered by the Govt; after his death, again, his family refused to take it when offered.
DV and his wife both had traditional child marriages, and both were widowed as children. DV aged 22 went against the customs to marry in 1939 the child widow, Sree Rangamma. The function was boycotted by his close relatives including both parents. But being a reform marriage, it was celebrated not in the village, but as a social function in Suryapet town, with a procession, and attended by youth of various communities, with voluntary support.
The brahmin young girl was taught by a muslim school teacher, who she says loved the child. DV began his adult life as a full-time, underground communist, and in those days of bans and repression, he was away from family most of the time. DV’s home itself was a centre of night school, attended by toiling people of all communities. One of his brothers was also a communist who ran the school together with a few friends.
DV was born in a small landlord family who did not get a share in his ancestral house. As he could not adjust with his home and its way of life, he went out to live : For years, the couple lived in a hut away from the village in a hamlet in a farm. There were regular visitors, of all castes, to see him in the hut. As an underground communist hunted by the feudals and their State, he lived most of the time away from his class and community. And she was alone.
He encouraged his newly-wed wife to know the social life. Even today, many husbands do not like such a role for their women. She had attended the Andhra Maha Sabha (AMS) 8th Conference held in 1941 at Chilkur, Nalgonda dt. She was a delegate to the the Women’s conference. He guided her and she spoke on the need for economic independence of women, and against Gosha system for women (Gosha is veil and it refers to the practice, still prevalent in north India, and Rajasthan, and among muslims where in a woman must be veiled, should not come in front of men and speak to them). It was reported in the newspapers. It was rare for women of upper castes to come out and speak. Communists encouraged it. He being a busy leader would not give her company. She had travelled separately, and attended the two-day AMS conferences later also: the 10th far away at Hyderabad 1943 May, and 11 th at Bhuvanagiri 1944 May. She recalls she joined the procession with her new-born child, and walked the whole route in a hot summer.
Though she was a religious woman, DV encouraged her, and without his escorting her, she attended party classes for family members at far away Vijayawada. Problems and independence of women, Mahila Sanghams, party songs, co-operating with husbands in party work were among the topics covered, she recalls. It had lasting impact till the end of his life: she always co-operated with him in party work. She recounts instances where women, wives of some leaders, behaved in ugly manner. In one instance, she with her babies had to sleep on a cold floor, without even a mat; that was in the house of a leader in Vijayawada. Not everyone was trained as she was by DV.
Once when she wanted to go to her mother when he was busy, she recalls, he encouraged her to go un-escorted, which was so rare; even today it is rare in backward areas. Later in life, he performed only a registered marriage for his daughter, with no rituals. Same was the case with his son’s marriage. He did not even attend it as he was in UG. He did not perform any rituals when his mother died. He did not join his traditional wife in any ritual or pilgrimage, but she could have her way within her means.
DV had a heart attack around 1973-74 when he was at Hyderabd, under conditional bail, with his son. She was away in village. The son took him, an ex-MP, to Osmania hospital next morning in a cycle rickshaw. He died of a second heart attack in 1984.
There are several instances when she had to shift places, stay in strangers’ places, because police were frequently raiding the (ancestral and individual) houses of families (wives and children) of key leaders like DV. She often stayed in small thatched huts. She had to leave with little notice along with her two small children. Sometimes she had to go to others’ (small huts) places to meet him.
When she wanted to provide milk and fruits to her children, which was beyond what the party afforded, DV wrote to her to sell her gold, and feed them, which she did. When she had to shift places, once she left behind 20 tolas of gold her father gave her. After 1953, it was said that com Sundarayya was looking into such problems. When she asked whether she could raise her probem, DV told her : ‘Hundreds of women lost their men, who won’t come back. Your gold is not more valuable.’ She dropped the idea. In the five years (1957-62) of his Loksabha term, she wanted to visit Delhi once. He told her it is a costly thing; with those funds, some cadre could be taken care of. So she could never visit Delhi.
After his tenure as MP, and party split (1964), she had to leave Hyderabad to her village unable to meet the costs. DV was among some party leaders arrested as a detenue after India’s wars with China (1962-63) and Pakistan(1964-65). The dt collector himself came to visit DV’s family to enquire the assets of detenues; he was surprised to see her, wife of a leader and ex-MP, living in a part of the cow shed, in a hamlet. He remarked about it. The local leaders told her to offer coffee etc to him which she refused to do, and said: Why should I entertain him when my husband is imprisoned unjustly? Such were his standards, though he was a chief leader from Telangana. He never accepted any pension from the govt, even for his tenure as an MP. His family, when approached after his death, refused it again.
One day, she recalls, when she expected DV to visit her on the third birthday of her son, 300 policemen raided the home and DV was not there. They had raided the hut he was living in, and set it on fire, saying “communism was born here’, she recalls. She encountered military on a few more occasions too, and escaped without arrest. Because of such conditions, her hosts were also in trouble, and she had to move places.
As a busy leader, he was away most of the time. She cites one instance during days of Mundrai struggle (1944-45), when he came home after one month. It was more and more, and he went underground, leaving her to live alone. She recalls how he had to walk long distances, of 30 to 50 kms; he occasionally came home in dark, un-announced, and she had to attend to the tired man, who may leave the next day. The children would be asleep, and did not see him for years. In later days, she learnt from some cadre of her village, DV was giving combat training, including use of fire arms. His early books (on Jangaon and Nalgonda struggles, 1946) reveal the tough times and hard work of a field leader; he was not an office secretary. During Police (Army) Action (1948 Sep. onwards) conditions were tougher. She could see him after a gap of four years. All these are corroborated by several others also.
Ilaiah’s comments on DV as a “Brahminical communist” do not square up with facts. Ilaiah’s remarks are callous, imaginary and bad even as fiction. It is only people like Ilaiah who could stoop to write what he wrote about an exemplary leader. Whose cause is he serving by such writings, people are wondering.
Ilaiah’s knowledge of social life of Telangana is also highly inobjective.
DV had some agriculture. In early life , he produced vegetables in his farm. In later years, when DV was away, it was gradually looked after by the wife, with the help of farm labor of lower castes, with whom she had cordial relations, as can be seen in her book. It was anything but brahminical life even for her, though she was religious.
The Karanam (patwari, village revenue officials) sub-caste to which DV belonged are primarily not engaged in brahminical or priestly activities. Some of them were police patels also. By their office, they were close to landlords, and their way of life and non-veg food and drinks. The community, almost invariavbly, had lands and agriculture; they were teachers, ayurvedics etc. Anyone who knows Telangana knows that there were Brahmin farmers who did farm work. From Telangana, he takes a big jump to India as a whole : His theory about vegetarianism and of producing castes is fiction. He mixes up vegetarianism, Brahminism and revolution, extends it to India, and asks: Can Brahmins Bring Revolution?! ( countercurrents.org, August 18, 2020.)
I travelled in North and East India, (Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand etc., Nepal ) and saw many sects of Brahmins eat meat, in particular fish. Konkani Brahmins in Maharashtra and Goa also eat fish. Some of these communities eat beef and pork too. Even in 1990s, I had brahmin friends who were not landlords but were middle peasants, and went out to work in their land, and who ate meat, also on ritual days (like death ceremonies). There are whole dalit families I know which are strictly vegetarian. They don’t take even eggs. Karnataka, unlike TS and AP, has viswabrahmins who do not eat meat. They have something to do with religious cults, like Veera shaiva and Vaishnva, within Hindu fold. Of course, many non-vegetarians in Telangana do not eat beef and pork. Ilaiah himself said they do not cook beef at home; he eats it only outside. He indulges in unfounded theories about food habits and speaks of veg and non-veg castes (ABN Interview)!
My illiterate father was also a supporter of communists, like thousands of Nalgonda dalits, who did not and do not accept casteist politics, including of dalits. We firmly believe communism is the real guide of poor toiling masses, including of so-called “producing castes” as per Ilaiah. From my own experiences, I reject Ilaiah’s theories, and his false and mean slander against DV, like thousands of admirers of DV. Despite their blind opposition towards DV’s revolutionary line that rejected their line, CPM’s daily newspaper Nava Telangana last year (2019 August 3), went out of its way, and published an article ( Telangana’s Yuddha Bheri, War Drum, DV Rao) paying unqualified and glowing tributes to DV.
Such is the image of DV Rao that Ilaiah by his writing has now become a laughing stock in social media and among circles known to me. Another view in Telugu-speaking circles, including SCs and bahujans, and scholars I knew, is that his writings have increasingly become non-serious, trivial, and are best ignored.
I Chandraiah is a teacher. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org