Post 75, Abdullahpur Basti, Ludhiana

5:00 p.m.: Rachit and I stand outside Kamal flour mill, chatting. Rachit informs me that his mother has advised him not to purchase an inverter since the electricity supply in Sargana has improved considerably.

5:15 p.m.: Bhullan the vegetable vendor joins us. Bhullan informs me that Lalu Prasad Yadav, former Chief Minister of Bihar has been campaigning in the Uttar Pradesh elections in support of the ruling Samajwadi Party. He commends Yadav’s public speaking skills. Rachit retorts: “What rubbish! The man is ill-mannered and doesn’t know how to speak to a civilised audience.”

Bhullan disagrees vehemently: “That’s not true. How can you say that! When Lalu talks, everyone listens.”

Rachit backs down. “Yes, I suppose you are right. People do listen with rapt attention to what he says.”

Bhullan continues to talk about politics, but from a historical perspective. “Do you know Babasaheb Ambedkar?” he asks, referring to the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution. I nod in affirmation. “He was a great leader. Neither Nehru nor Gandhi could come to terms with his greatness. They did not appreciate his talents simply because he belonged to the Chamar community.”

I try to correct him by pointing to Ambedkar’s origins in the Mahar community, but Bhullan ignores me and continues:

“Ambedkar was highly educated. Far more educated than either Nehru or Gandhi.”