Rohith Vemula died four years ago today, and Appa Rao Podile is still vice-chancellor. As the youth movement he helped inaugurate gathers proportions unseen in decades, the upper-caste talking heads of all genders and religions (though mostly Hindu, and mostly men) are latching on, making periodic attempts to erase his contribution, aligning themselves with the BJP-RSS attempt to distract from his death back in 2016 by fomenting an attack on the JNU campus and making Kanhaiya Kumar a star.

One cannot really blame the hollow uppercase Left, who were handed a young Brahmin man from the Hindi-speaking belt who seemed the mirror image of Modi, oratorical, media hungry, splitting the opposition vote, playing fast and loose with his facts and public positions, amenable to tutoring.

Playing the petty zero-sum game of competitive party politics, our “elders and betters” are trying to erase Rohith Vemula from history in part because they see a world of ranked and classed castes, not equal humans, and believe the tiny communities they come from are politically advanced and more entitled to lead by atheistic divine right.

And in part because enough was out in the public domain about Rohith Vemula’s differences with the Students’ Federation of India, affiliated with the CPI-M, at the University of Hyderabad, and his humiliation and ostracisation at their hands before he left.

He is far from alone in this. We recall that few of the catalysing student suicides in India’s universities – see here for a partial biographical list – were of upper-caste kids, and most followed lengthy, vicious casteist persecution at the hands of upper-caste faculty and administration mediocrities, right up to ministers and the media.

I watch now for the blundering attempts of the uppercase Left now to clamber on to a movement Rohith Vemula helped inaugurate – building “solidarity” on their terms – they will do this through flattery, selectivity, quiet vetos and deft repositioning – even, astonishingly, declarations that the youth should be “rewarded” with a “leader” this doddering category can recognise and touch.

And in their eventual success or failure, I note their similarities to the supposedly all powerful RSS.

A friend I miss said the RSS are “old men in shorts”.

The social groups this crowd draws upon for “leadership” are precisely the same as the RSS. That has been its failure and limitation.

The hallucinatory left-right spectrum, the triangular capitalist/ socialist/ fascist conundrum, these are the preoccupations of the selfsame social groups – propertied Hindu upper-caste men, with token women and Muslims allowed in, if they have endowed themselves with a tilak or a phallus, typically those with family connections to the static seat of power.

If the illustrative and morally corrupt Babri judgment of the Supreme Court inaugurates the end of the Ram Janmabhoomi phase of north Indian politics, and there is no going back for the Brahminical parties and their allies, Rohith Vemula helped set this in motion.

The nationwide tours and addresses of his mother Radhika, later joined by Najeeb Ahmad’s mother Fatima Nafees, helped set it in motion.

Humiliation and dispossession. For the opening he provided, for his and his friends’ heroic attempts to free themselves and us from it, remember Rohith Vemula:

One Day

One day you will understand why I was aggressive.
On that day, you will understand
why I have not just served social interests.
One day you will get to know why I apologised.
On that day, you will understand
there are traps beyond the fences.
One day you will find me in the history.
In the bad light, in the yellow pages.
And you will wish I was wise.
But at the night of that day,
you will remember me, feel me
and you will breathe out a smile.
And on that day, I will resurrect.


Jo Bhagwan Samjha wo pathar nikla…
Jisko Pathar Samjha wo Bhagwan nikla...

(What was thought to be God turned out to be stone
What was thought to be stone turned out to be God)

Politics on campus boils down to vote calculations
The Savarnas embraced Vamana
The Nationalists brought the caravan
The ‘Communists’ cleared the way
The Radicals took an untimely nap
The Seculars looked for secluded places
The Intellectuals found all this unnecessary, though in silence
The Dalits were left disjoined in this battle
it was branded their ‘personal’ problem
Our voices may be less in number
Our articulation may be futile
Our opposition might die after a while
under the hefty might of your cultural march
But comrades note
history cannot be erased
Your silence will be remembered
your cynicism will not be forgiven
When you come asking for votes
we will refuse to shake your hands
Your smiles will not be reciprocated
On that day, you will grope around for our support
And we will bypass you
unmoved, untouched by your compassionate words
On that day,
We will play the game of faith & betrayal
Just like you!
Comrades, remember!

Letter to Appa Rao Podile

18 December 2015
The Vice Chancellor

Subject: Solution for Dalit problem


First, let me praise your dedicated take on the Self-Respect movements of Dalits in HCU campus. When an ABVP president got questioned about his derogatory remarks on Dalits, your kind personal interference into the issue is historic and exemplary. 5 Dalit students are “socially boycotted” from campus spaces. Donald Trump will be a lilliput in front of you. By seeing your commitment, I am tempted to give two suggestions as a token of banality.

1. Please serve 10mg Sodium Azide to all the Dalit students at the time of admission. With direction to use when they feel like reading Ambedkar.

2.Supply a nice rope to the rooms of all Dalit students from your companion, the great Chief Warden.

As we, the scholars, PhD students have already passed that stage and already members of Dalit Self-Respect movement unfortunately, we here are left with no easy exit, it seems.

Hence, I request your highness to make preparations for the facility “EUTHANASIA” for students like me. And I wish you and the campus rest in peace forever.

Thanking You,
Yours sincerely
Vemula R Chakravarti

My Birth Is My Fatal Accident

Good morning,

I would not be around when you read this letter. Don’t get angry on me. I know some of you truly cared for me, loved me and treated me very well. I have no complaints on anyone. It was always with myself I had problems. I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster. I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. At last, this is the only letter I am getting to write.

I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan.

I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature. Our feelings are second handed. Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt.

The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In every field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.

I am writing this kind of letter for the first time. My first time of a final letter. Forgive me if I fail to make sense.

My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.

May be I was wrong, all the while, in understanding world. In understanding love, pain, life, death. There was no urgency. But I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life. All the while, some people, for them, life itself is curse. My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.

I am not hurt at this moment. I am not sad. I am just empty. Unconcerned about myself. That’s pathetic. And that’s why I am doing this.

People may dub me as a coward. And selfish, or stupid once I am gone. I am not bothered about what I am called. I don’t believe in after-death stories, ghosts, or spirits. If there is anything at all I believe, I believe that I can travel to the stars. And know about the other worlds.

If you, who is reading this letter can do anything for me, I have to get 7 months of my fellowship, one lakh and seventy five thousand rupees. Please see to it that my family is paid that. I have to give some 40 thousand to Ramji. He never asked them back. But please pay that to him from that.

Let my funeral be silent and smooth. Behave like I just appeared and gone. Do not shed tears for me. Know that I am happy dead than being alive.

“From shadows to the stars.”

Uma anna, sorry for using your room for this thing.
To ASA family, sorry for disappointing all of you. You loved me very much. I wish all the very best for the future.
For one last time,
Jai Bheem
I forgot to write the formalities. No one is responsible for my this act of killing myself.
No one has instigated me, whether by their acts or by their words to this act.
This is my decision and I am the only one responsible for this.
Do not trouble my friends and enemies on this after I am gone.

Also read ‘Are You Fit for Political Power?’ by B.R.Ambedkar