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Ashis Nandy should prove his innocence through facts: Prof. Vivek Kumar
Noted Sociologist Ashis Nandy stoked a controversy when he, at the recently concluded Jaipur festival, described Dalits, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as the 'most corrupt' people in India. Though he clarified and apologized to those whose feelings were 'hurt' but the damage, it seems, has already been done.

Jaipur Police has registered a case against him under SC/ST Act and he is set to be questioned to share his side of the story. “It is a fact that most of the corrupt come from OBCs and Scheduled Castes and now increasingly Scheduled Tribes,” Mr. Nandy had said at the recently concluded Jaipur Literature Festival. The sociologist added, “As long as this corruption exists among backwards, tribals, OBCs, our Indian republic still has some hope”. 

Vivek Kumar, associate professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University's sociology department and a Dalit ideologue demanded that Mr. Nandy should present facts to substantiate his argument. “First of all my problem (with the statement) is that what Ashish Nandy had said, that has to be analyzed. Because he is not a layman, he is a trained social scientist. When an intellectual speaks, he has to have a methodology to substantiate his argument. He cannot make a statement like a politician, or like a layman. Even scientists or science arguments do not hold forever. It is a social science argument and it can be interpreted either way. So you have to substantiate your argument with relevant data,” Prof. Kumar told this citizen journalist .

Many respected names in media have spoken in favor of Mr Nandy, maintaining that a section of press distorted his statement as they highlighted only one part of his speech. They argued that Nandy, a person who has been a supporter of rights of Dalits and under-privileged classes, can't speak against the communities.

Expressing his unhappiness over the way intellectual fraternity "came to rescue" of Mr. Nandy, Mr. Kumar said the fraternity of the country is making mockery of themselves. "The whole national academia and intelligentsia has been taken to ransom by few boot lickers of Mr. Ashis Nandy. They are telling Dalits to understand a text in the manner they like. Just see the arrogance of the academics,” Kumar said.

Going by the transcripts, released by the festival organizers, it seems Mr. Nandy wanted to make the point that there are two types of corruption in the country - one that involved elite and the second involving Dalits, tribals and OBCs. According to him, the former remained hidden but the latter was open and everybody could see it as these sections of the society didn't have the resources to hide it like the way elite did.

Mr. Nandy later clarified his version like this: “This is not what I meant or what I wanted to say. This is what I actually transpired. I endorsed the statement of Tarun Tejpal, Editor of Tehelka, that corruption in India is an equalising force. I do believe that a zero corruption society in India will be a despotic society. I also said that if people like me or Richard Sorabjee want to be corrupt, I shall possibly send his son to Harvard giving him a fellowship and he can send my daughter to Oxford. No one will think it to be corruption. Indeed, it will look like supporting talent.”

“But when Dalits, tribals and the OBCs are corrupt, it looks very corrupt indeed. However, this second corruption equalizes. It gives them access to their entitlements. And so, as long as this equation persists, I have hope for the Republic. I hope this will be the end of the matter. I am sorry if some have misunderstood me. Though there was no reason to do so. As should be clear from this statement, there was neither any intention nor any attempt to hurt any community. If anyone is genuinely hurt, even if through misunderstanding, I am sorry about that, too.”

Mr. Kumar, however, cautioned that the issue shouldn't be politicized andMr. Nandy should be given an opportunity to explain his side of the story to the authorities. “You prove that the statement you have made is lawful. Why are you afraid? If it is lawful then give the data and you will be left alone by the courts also, police also. Politicians are taking a different stand; intellectuals are taking a different stand. So you should bifurcate, don't mix it up and don't give it a spin,” suggested Prof. Kumar. 

If proved guilty, Mr. Nandy faces unto 10 years in jail under section 3(1) of the SC/ST Act, which is a non-bailable offense.

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