December 27, 2009
The Hindu: Ten Dalit Families Face Social Ostracisation
Ten dalit families face social ostracisation in Ganjam
The villages form part of Chief Minister’s constituency
The victims say they are facing wrath of upper castes
The tussle started more than a year ago
BERHAMPUR: Ten dalit families of Thuruburei village of Shergarh block in Ganjam district are alleged to be facing severe casteist social ostracisation.
The irony is that this casteist social ostracisation continues in a village which is part of the Hinjli Assembly constituency represented by the Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik.
The victims of social ostracisation say they are facing the wrath of upper castes of the village as they are not ready to bow down to their derogatory exploitive norms.
The Thuruburei village is inhabited by around 500 families. Out of them 20 families are ‘washermen’ or ‘Dhobi’ by caste. Pradeep Sethi, an aggrieved dalit of the village said the upper castes have targeted 10 ‘dhobi’ families who refused to bow down to the diktat of upper castes.
It is alleged that the upper castes have barred them from using the village well, tubewell, grocery shop etc. They are not being allowed to harvest the crop in their field.
As per Mr. Sethi, the tussle between the dalits and upper castes of the village had started more than a year ago.
The ‘Dhobi’ families had demanded hike in the yearly payment made by the upper caste families.
Each upper caste family was paying Rs. 20 per year to the designated washerman families to wash clothes throughout the year.
Ten ‘Dhobi’ families had demanded the allowance to be hiked to Rs. 50 per year. The other 10 washermen families had preferred to continue with the old payment.
This had irked the upper castes who had decided to ostracise the 10 washermen families who wanted revision in the meagre payment.
Several dalits of the village were also fined by the upper castes when they refused to wash clothes at extreme low price.
Tussle between them had aggravated when dalit families opposed construction of an Auxiliary Nurse and Midwife (ANM) centre on a patch of land which they claimed to be a road as per the revenue records.
The dalits used to have a cow shed on the patch of land. On Thursday the tussle took violent shape. One dalit, Bhimasena Sethi was seriously injured.
He was admitted in the MKCG medical college hospital. Both warring groups have filed cases against each other in the Hinjli police station.
December 07, 2009
Educational Double Standard?
Our campaign for English education for Dalit-Bahujan children during the last decade was built on the following developing reality of the two-tiered education system in the Indian school system: English medium education for the elite and economically prosperous and the local language education for the Dalit-Bahujan and poor masses of India. But India is changing quickly despite the propaganda of the political elite. The common man knows what is the 'passport' to development- access to English medium education from the primary school level. How long will the Government continue with this double standard in education policy?
In 3 yrs, English rises to No. 2 medium
By Rema Nagarajan
Times of India
December 5, 2009
While the Marathi manoos and various others fight over the supremacy of languages, English has quietly marched on and become the second largest medium in India's primary schools, after Hindi.
In 2006, English as a medium of instruction was fourth -- behind Hindi, Bengali and Marathi in that order -- but by 2007 it had climbed to second place and grew even further in 2008, beginning to eat into the Hindi numbers too (see detailed report in the latest edition of TOI-Crest).
Regional language medium schools have witnessed steady erosion in their share over the years, and in some cases even in the absolute numbers, as parents seem to have decided that English is the passport to a bright future for their children.
Data collected by the National University for Education Planning and Administration (NUEPA) as a part of DISE, the monitoring system developed for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme, shows that the number of those opting for English medium from class I-VIII has grown by 150% between 2003 and 2008, while the number of students opting for Hindi grew by just 32%.
The count for 2008 is more robust than in previous years, says NUEPA. Of the total number of students surveyed by DISE, about 18.8 crore, data on the medium of instruction was available for over 92%. "The quality of data and its collection has vastly improved. However, the data pertains only to recognized schools. In most states, there are thousands of unrecognized schools, most of which are English-medium schools. Hence, the number of those studying in English-medium schools could actually be even higher," says Prof Arun Mehta of NUEPA.
The states with the highest number of students in English-medium schools have remained unchanged from 2004 till 2008 -- Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. In the two top states, almost a fifth of all enrolled students are studying in English-medium schools. The top three are followed by Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka and Kerala in that order. Madhya Pradesh is the lone Hindi-speaking state in the list of the top 10 states in terms of enrolment in English medium.
The highest jump in the number of English-medium students between 2004 and 2008 was in Maharashtra, about 11 lakh, followed by Andhra Pradesh (9.7 lakh), Tamil Nadu (9.6 lakh), Delhi (5.5 lakh) and Jammu and Kashmir about 5 lakh.
Earlier, in 2006, most of the growth in English was in the southern states, barring Punjab and Gujarat, which also showed a jump in numbers. However, by 2008, many of the northern states too have joined the rush for English schooling. For instance, Haryana has recorded the highest growth, with the number of children in English-medium schools going up more than seven times between 2004 and 2008, from over 20,000 to 1.6 lakh.
Similarly, in Rajasthan, students opting for English schooling increased more than three times, from over 60,000 in 2004 to nearly 2.2 lakh by 2008. The growth between 2007 and 2008 alone was 130%.
Again, in Madhya Pradesh, the number of students opting for English schooling almost trebled from 1.6 lakh to 4.8 lakh. In Delhi, well over a third (37%) of all enrolled children are in English-medium schools while the proportion of those in Hindi medium has fallen from 76% to 61% between 2004 and 2008. As before, Punjab and Gujarat show substantial growth in English schooling with the number doubling in Punjab and going up more than three times in Gujarat.
December 04, 2009
Ilaiah Investigates the Travails of a Leader
Kancha Ilaiah talks about the creation of Dalit-Bahujan icons in Uttar Pradesh and Mayawati the Dalit Chief Minister of UP.
By Kancha Ilaiah
If a political issue is sought to be settled through the legal means, it would have different implications to our democracy.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s response to the legal hurdles to her plans to set up Ambedkar parks and Kanshi Ram memorials was quite brave and intelligent. A team of anti-Maya lawyers (belonging to both BJP and Congress ideology) filed a public interest litigation in the supreme court pleading to stop the construction.
The supreme court constituted a committee, which held that there is great danger to the environment of UP because of these parks, though they are not polluting industries. There is not enough evidence that in order to construct these statue-parks, they had cut down any trees at all.
Based on the recommendations of the experts committee, the supreme court ordered stoppage of work at all construction sites. The court threatened to forcefully stop the work or otherwise it would take over the sites by deploying special armed forces. Hence the work was stopped.
However, within a few days, Mayawati declared that her government would build massive Kanshi Ram green parks around Lucknow and other cities of Uttar Pradesh. She also announced that a long stretch of green corridor would be created on the outskirts of Lucknow. If the anti-Mayawati forces want to cut her sovereign powers based on the democratic decision of her cabinet (right or wrong) by using the court, she wants to assert her power. She wants to appeal to the psychological alienation of the Dalit masses and show them that she was bent upon creating alternative sites of socio-spiritual satisfaction of those people by building more Dalit-Buddhist icon parks.
After all, the Dalits and green environment are not enemies of each other. They did not cut down forests to own hundreds of acres of land nor did they cut down trees to build mansions for their comfortable living. But to see how much teakwood is there in the houses of the every principled environmentalist of Delhi and other cities one only needs to visit their houses.
So like Orwellian principles of ‘Animal Farm’, the theory of even simplicity and environment changes from caste to caste and culture to culture. Even the courts seem to be getting drawn into this controversy. That it poses a danger to democracy needs to be seen in future. Already the Dalit-Bahujan masses have been losing faith in our judicial institutions. If the courts involve in far-fetched interpretative judicial activism in Dalit cultural life (of statue building or otherwise) their alienation would become more pronounced. That does not harm Mayawati but harms democracy, rather irreparably.
There is a gross mis-reading of Mayawati’s abilities to handle her own affairs. We do not know how much money she has but she has enormous courage and confidence. Though efforts are on to dislodge and destroy her legally, she seems to be gaining politically.
On the one hand, Congress is attempting to take her Dalit and Brahmin vote-bank away and on the other, it is attempting to project the Brahmin leadership at the top (Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Manish Tiwari and so on). At the ground level, it is sending Rahul Gandhi into Dalit huts to eat with them and sleep in their homes so that a psychological repositioning of them could take place. But will the Congress succeed?
While all her opponents are trying to drag her into litigations so that her administration becomes totally dysfunctional, she seems to be gaining strength. If a political issue is sought to be settled through the legal means, it would have different implications to our democracy. If Mayawati is spending money on monuments when the masses are suffering from lack of food, education and employment, such a government should be faced politically only.
The recent byelections in UP have shown that her voters are not getting alienated from her. If more and more feeling of harassment on account of Ambedkar parks is generated, then more and more consolidation of the Dalit vote would take place and Mayawati will prove her opponents wrong.
She has an ideological agenda. The rock bed of that agenda is the Dalit social force. The BSP from the days of Kanshi Ram has an ideological position on men and matters. The Congress and more so, the Samajwadi Party cannot convince the Dalits on that count.
The Samajwadi party, in particular, has no ideology whatsoever. The Lohia-JP ideology has no social basis. The Muslims have no problem with her so long as she does not allow the BJP to play round.
If Ambedkar parks that are coming up as alternative sites of socio-spiritual culture of Dalits are shown as anti-democratic by the Hindu legal pundits, the Dalits will tell them that they will back Mayawati more and more on religious and ideological grounds.
As these parks are essentially anti-Hindu-Buddhist monuments, she is constructing history. If they stop her activities in the name of protection to environment, the Dalits might feel that the so called environmentalists have saffron threads to their wrists and that is where they see a common ground between the BJP, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party.
December 03, 2009
Dalits suffer because they won't carry the dead
I was saddened, but not surprised by a report I just received in an email from Dalit activists in central India. Dalits there have stopped carrying the carcasses of dead animals. Someone has to do the job, but they are being told that is the only career they can have…and then despised because of it. Now that they have stopped in protest, local shops won’t sell them products, they’re banned from public transportation, and not allowed to get water from public wells. And more.
As one colleague mentioned in a subsequent email to me, forcing people to clean up dead animals is actually outlawed as an atrocity under Indian legislation which went into effect in 1995, called the “Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act”. However, this report also illustrates that, although India’s laws may be good, local officials often ignore the rule of law and many Dalit communities don’t have the resources or knowledge to pursue the matter legally.
* * * * * * *
SOCIAL BOYCOTT OF DALITS IN MADHYA PRADESH
(Excerpts from Fact Finding Report issued by Nagrik Adhikar Manch & Yuva Samvad)
The situation in the Gadarwara Sub Division of Narsinghpur District, Madhya Pradesh state has been in a state of constant flux since last 3-4 months. The Dalits living in the villages adjoining Gadarwara have been condemned to a life of fear and intimidation. Their human rights and dignity are at stake.
Obviously there is a concrete reason behind this sudden spurt in violence against them. They have refused to remain subservient to the interests of the upper/dominant castes and have decided to speak up.
Instead of taking concrete steps to guarantee the human rights of dalits granted to them under Constitution, the administration has preferred to remain silent or at best supportive of the interests of the dominant castes. One can easily see why Madhya Pradesh happens to be the state which tops the list of atrocities on tribals and stands second when it comes to cases of atrocities against Dalits. (The incidents are occurring in villages about half-way between the state capital, Bhopal, and Jabalpur.)
Affected Area: Dalits (Ahirwar community) in Gadarwara and adjoining villages
Villages visited by the Fact Finding Team : Nander,Madgula, Devri and Tekapar
Date: 7th and 9th November 2009
The Ahirwars make almost half (38,000-40,000 ) of the total population (70,000-80,000) of Gadarwara. Around 80-85 percent of the people in this tehsil are engaged in agriculture or related work. Agricultural labourers and landless peasants comprise a majority among them. Most of the agricultural labourers belong to the Dalit communities and among them the
Ahirwars (Chamars) predominate. …There are over 700 surnames in this caste.
The Ahirwars Resolution giving rise to the present oppression
Ahirwar Samaj Mahaparishad [reached] a general consensus…about abandoning the obnoxious practice of carrying of the carcasses of dead beasts; to rid them of the centuries old practice of being looked down upon by the varna (upper) castes as carriers of the carcasses and consequently untouchables. Ahirwars in many villages actually discontinued this practice from July-August onwards. The Ahirwar Samaj Mahaparishad resolved in October 2009 to abandon this practice by the community en masse at the state level.
A Detailed Report of the Fact Finding Team and Its observations
Despite repeated complaints against the oppression faced by the dalits at the hands of the dominant castes and demands for action against them, the attitude of the administration has remained apathetic. This despite the fact that Dalits in 5-6 villages have filed complaints of physical harassment and oppression.
[Dalits denied] access to daily utilities
1.There is ban on them on making any purchases from the only provision shop in the village.
2.They are not allowed to get water from a public tap.
3. Ban on travel by public transport
4. Stopping vegetable and food vendors, newspaper boys including dhobis (washermen), nais (barbers) from entering Dalit localities
5. Stopping access to flour mills for grinding corn
6. Ban on entering the Village Panchayat Bhavan
…Bimla Bai was threatened by non-Dalit Devendra Kumar warning her not to step in their fields failing which they would strip her naked and parade her through the village.
…In a meeting organised by the Village head (Sarpanch) in October 2009 to resolve the issue, more than hundred people belonging to non-dalit castes who were carrying different arms, literally pounced upon the Ahirwars and tried to intimidate them. The Ahirwars who had gathered there hoping for a peaceful and respectable solution, literally had to flee the place to save their lives.
…The landless Ahirwar peasants cultivate the land of the upper caste people on lease on expence sharing basis (batai). Under it all expenses right from bowing to harvesting is done by the person taking the land on lease and he is given 1/4 to 1/10 portion of the harvest by the landlord However, when the crops bowed in June reached the harvesting stage some influential landlords refused to allot any share to the cultivators and in fact harvested the crop with Harvester Combines and took it away. The Ahirwar community [at least 12 families] which faced drought last season is on the brink of starvation. If the same state of affairs continues, it is feared that there would be starvation deaths in the area.
…Munna Gurjar forcibly dumped the dead animal in front of the house of Malkham Singh Ahirwar. Similarly dead animals are being dumped in the pokharee (small pond) in front of Vishal Ahirwar's the house. People hailing from influential families even dumped the dead carcass in front of the Community Hall.
Action by Administration
People from Deori have complained twice to the Sub-Divisional Officer, (Anuvibhagiya Dandadhikari) Gadarwara but the SDM has merely consoled them and has not bothered to take any action against the perpetrators. The matter has been kept hanging till date.
…In the second week of October some people from the Ahirwars were summoned by the caste people and they were pointblank asked whether they will or will not lift the caracasses of dead animals. The Ahirwars conveyed to them the community decision. The next day a fiat was issued by the caste people warning the Ahirwars that if by any chance the Ahirwars pass through their fields they will have to pay a fine of Rs. 1000/-
The intimidation did not stop here. A strict ban was imposed on availing the village facilities of shop for things of daily use, use of public tap water system, flour mill and other public places. They used to take clay for building from public places but a total ban on such use was imposed. Netram Ahirwar informed us that the work of digging for clay has always been a community effort but now they threaten us if we take clay.
…Their pressure tactics also [deprived Dalits of] 100 days employment [guaranteed by a Central/Federal government program for the poor]. The Dalit Ahirwars receive hardly 10 to 15 days of work and that too with difficulty.
…The people of Tekapar have been kept under threat by the influential castes. They are threatened that should they dare to complain they will have to face the music. In spite of this the Ahirwar people had made representations against the injustice to them in writing to the Sub Divisional Magistrate on 8th October 2009. Despite this the status quo remains and no action has been taken to ameliorate the situation.
[Similar reports from two more villages deleted.]
The Conclusion and The Way Out
…After meeting hundreds of people from the four villages in MP the Fact Finding Team has observed how the Collective Decision of the Ahirwar Community (Dalit) of not undertaking the inhuman and unconstitutional work has become a question of prestige. The caste people are endeavouring for the reversal of this decision through social, economic sanctions. The caste people desire that the Dalits should abandon their struggle for self-respect and continue to undergo the social and cultural slavery…