There are several people who have left their imprints on my life in the holistic format. I’ve learned from them about politics, philosophy, socialism, values of life and respect of other religions as well as the concepts of gnosis and atheism. They may not have brought any drastic changes in the fundamentals of my character but they had helped me to understand and analyze any situation with a clear mind and in a objective way.
And one of them is Prof Kancha Ilaiah. He is an Indian activist and writer who is two months younger to me in age. His books include ‘Why I am not a Hindu’, ‘God As Political Philosopher: Budha’s challenge to Brahminism,’ ‘A Hollow Shell,’ ‘The State and Repressive Culture,’ ‘Manatatwam’ (in Telugu), and ‘Buffalo Nationalism: A Critique of Spiritual Fascism’. He is a member of the Dalit Freedom Network and a major figure in the movement against the Hindu Caste System
Kancha Ilaiah was born in the village of Papaiahpet, Warangal district in erstwhile Hyderabad State and his family belonged to the sheep-grazing Kuruma Golla caste, an OBC. He had received his M.A. degree in Political Science from Osmania University and an M.Phil., awarded for his study of Land Reform in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. He has been a recipient of the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Award and was a Nehru Fellow between 1994-97. Ilaiah earned a Ph.D on the basis of his work exploring the political dimension of Buddhism culminating in God as Political Philosopher – Buddha Challenge to Brahminism..
He has credited his mother, Kancha Kattamma, as pivotal in shaping his political thought. According to Ilaiah, she was at the forefront of the Kurumas’ struggle against the forest guards discriminatory behaviour. Kancha Kattamma was killed during a violent confrontation while protesting against police brutality. Kancha Ilaiah is identified as a Dalit although he is not a Dalit but rather a member of an Other Backward Class.
Currently, Kancha Ilaiah is serving as director of the Centre for Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy at Moulana Azad National University (MANUU) in Hyderabad.
As the poisoned atmosphere created by RSS Hindutva Ideology have been tearing the social democratic fabric of the country and taking its toll in the murders and silencing the liberal intellectual, this great social reformer, bold writer and intrepid scholar has also received the numerous threats. However, after receiving several threatening phone calls for days, writer, activist and social scientist Kancha Ilaiah sought police protection on Monday saying that he was facing threat to his life even as Arya Vysya organisations staged protests in parts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh seeking a ban on his book, “Samajika Smugglurlu Komatollu (Vysyas are social smugglers)”.
Speaking to reporters, Kancha said, “No matter how much I am threatened or intimidated, my brain will not be scared by bullets and violence. I will continue to write on Ambedkarite and Dalit issues as long as I live.”
He went on to say, “At every temple, Vysyas have a special dharma satram. If they consider everyone equal, they should allocate at least two rooms for Dalits at every guesthouse they constructed at the temples. They should do that if they have respect for human equality, whether it is at Kothagudem or Yadadri.”