ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Who Is the Third that Walks Behind You?

I read Aditya Nigam’s observations on an epistemology of the dalit critique of modernity with great interest. His formulations are both fascinating and suggestive, therefore, I would like to complicate them. Firstly, while I accept that dalit politics and ideologies represent the “problematic ‘third term’ that continuously challenges the common sense of the secular modern”, I am not sure that these exist as an ‘absent presence’; or that they advance a notion of citizenship that is premised on the notion of the community as a rights-bearing subject. It seems to me that the non-brahmin, lower caste engagement with the ‘secular modern’ does two things: it contends with the contradictions of modernity, as Nigam so ably demonstrates, but it also dips beyond and across the wide arc of the secular-modern to articulate an expressive ideology and world view that is still recognisably modern. I would like to illustrate this with reference to the thought of Periyar Ramasamy.



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