Home English How Dwij Savarnas loot the Bahujan labour on digital spaces
English - July 20, 2020

How Dwij Savarnas loot the Bahujan labour on digital spaces

About the page The Outcaste, and Savarna ownership of Bahujan voices (and how they make money from our labour and we get nothing):
This is important for Bahujans who wish to be writers, journalists, activists. 
The Outcaste is a page created and owned by Savarnas, and whereas it is being run by Bahujans now – the ownership still stays with the savarna admin. 
Why is this dangerous and extremely harmful?
(UPDATE: The savarna admin of The Outcaste has stepped down, the Bahujan creators own the page now.)
Let’s take the clocks a few years back. 
Many pages such as Indian Atheists, The Outcaste, Feminism in India, Humans of Patriarchy, The Spoiled Modern Indian Woman etc were created by Savarnas, usually NRIs or Indian elites. 
Initially, these pages survived by copying, rephrasing, or posting the screenshots from Bahujan people’s profiles. They grew and flourished by using Bahujan people’s talent and knowledge and hard work. So while they shared content from our profiles and garnered an audience of thousands, most of us still remained in obscurity. 
Many times Indian Atheists has stolen content from Bahujans, and got thousands of likes on their posts while the original post doesn’t even cross a dozen of likes on it. 
This is one of the methods they teach in social entrepreneurship, and it’s called the social capitalization of content.
In this, if you are a Bahujan writer with a small audience then they assign zero value to your content and then claim that by stealing it and posting it on their pages, they have given it value. It’s the equivalent of capitalists stealing resources from the earth, and then using the labour of workers who actually produce the goods – and then claim that it was the capitalist who created the value otherwise the resources would be worthless and labour is already abundant and hence has no value.  
Essentially, the page earns social capital in the form of audience and reputation. 
Soon enough, the savarna owners start their website and begin to reap revenue. It has happened in the case of Feminism in India, Humans of Patriarchy, and Indian Atheists. 
They did literally nothing except steal, share, or post screenshots of other people’s work. They gained popularity from that. And now the owner of the page earns lakhs from the website. 
Writers on these websites still don’t get paid fairly, and mostly they don’t even get paid. Website owners claim that they are not making that much money and tell the authors to write for “exposure.” 
Yet, they won’t share their Google Analytics data with the writers. Let me tell you that the average ad revenue for an article with 1000 views is near about $5. Many of these articles garner an average of 40k-50k views. You do the math. 
I have been into vicious arguments with Indian Atheists admins and the original  admin of The Outcaste – a savarna man hiding behind the pseudonym of Bruce Vain – about this very issue of stealing and appropriating Bahujan content. 
Here are some classic savarna responses: 
First response is to say that they didn’t know where the content came from. They would say it was sent to them by some followers of the page. So if they don’t know the OC of the content then somehow it’s perfectly reasonable to share it, instead of asking the sender where it came from. 
Even if they do give you credit, they won’t link your profile. They don’t want traffic redirecting somewhere else. 
If you keep being stubborn, almost to the extent that it feels like you are the one who is being unreasonable and shameless – and they would make you feel so, by victimizing themselves and apologizing in such a way as if they are the ones being wronged here. 
Lastly, they’d offer us to be editors on the page. So that they can use our labour without feeling guilty and without us calling them out for stealing content. It’s the perfect solution. 
Everytime I called them out, they asked me if I wanted to be an editor on the page. When I asked why an anti-caste page is being owned by savarnas, and stated that I would run the page only if they give it up – they revoked their offer. 
Now coming back to The Outcaste and its savarna owner Bruce Vain. The Outcaste was initially using the content of Bahujans to gain an audience, they had no original output of their own. And when they tried, it was weak savarna liberal stuff that was all words and no substance. 
Bruce Vain himself has been a centrist liberal, a reminiscent of the Gandhian liberal for most of the duration his ID has existed, and only recently he has been moving slowly towards the left. But even now he is at best a left liberal with a weak and useless political stance. His twitter ID is feministbatman – so not only he appropriates the Bahujan movement, he is also speaking on the behalf of womxn. 
The Spoiled Modern Indian Woman is also run by either Bruce Vain or some of his womxn allies who are also savarna. Until recently, TSMIW was a liberal savarna feminist page with a savarna feminist following. Now they have started to take a stance against Brahminism and alienated most of their original audience, dare we think it’s because they have added Bahujan womxn as admins? Or is it just good old-fashioned savarna appropriation of our ideologies?
It is possible that these two pages will also launch a website soon, and since Bahujan admins have created the audience for them by making memes and writing posts – the audience and reputation will be used as a social capital investment in the website whose revenue will go the owners. 
We’ll be sitting here with jackshit in our hands, nothing to show for all the work we have done, all the things we have learned, all the efforts we have put into propelling the savarna-owned pages to popularity. 

Also, Babasaheb had warned about such appropriation and hijacking of our movements in his book “What Congress and Gandhi Have Done To The Untouchables” – about how very often savarnas infiltrate our movement, seemingly sympathetic to our plight, and then derail the whole thing.
Dr Ambedkar has talked about this phenomemon in detail, explaining how some of the earlier anti-caste movements were controlled and hijacked by Congress and then how Gandhi tried to reshape it according to the convenience of Brahminism. In describing the details of particular events, Ambedkar talked about how often the savarna enters an anti-caste space for their own personal interest and gain.
And it is not a part of some wide conspiracy, this is just how the savarna mind has been conditioned. They have the superiority complex coupled with the saviour complex which makes them enter the Bahujan spaces and to claim ownership the platform that– and then their entitlement comes into play as they feel they have the right to tell us what to do, how to fight our own battles, and in the end – to benefit from our labour as they use it to propel their own careers, they write books and theses about us, they run NGOs and political parties to “save” us, and the latest is creating spaces for our movement which are owned by them.
The Outcaste is one such thing. Who knows how many more pages like this are there?
What I’m trying to say is that Bruce Vain, being an anonymous savarna, has no right to create an anti-caste page that uses Bahujan voices. But since he has already created it, he has no rights to stay as the owner of the page. If he believes in dismantling the caste system then he should give up his privileged position that he hasn’t earned, and step down as admin, hand over The Outcaste to the Bahujans who are actually running it.
So whoever among you are the content creators on The Outcaste, do talk to Bruce Vain about this. Make him step down. This page was built and run by Bahujan labour, a savarna has no right to own it.

Article by Vishal Jitendra,


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