January 25, 2010
The Jaipur Literature Festival
Recently our Chief Justice of the Supreme Court commented on continuing discrimination of Dalits. Now Dalit writers express their feelings in a literature convention.
At this year’s Jaipur Literature Festival, as India commemorates 60 years of being a Republic on 26 January 2010, the focus is on Dalit writing. The panel discussion on Outcaste: The Search for Public Conscience featured S. Anand, publisher of Navayana which focuses on dalit literature, P.Sivakami, novelist and political activist from Chennai; Omprakash Valmiki, author of the bestselling Joothan; and Kancha Ilaiah author of the best-selling Why I am Not a Hindu. Chairing the session, S Anand said that despite the Constitution being piloted by Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, a Dalit and one of the architects of modern India, Dalits seem to hardly figure in sectors where there is no affirmative action. Consequently, beyond representation in jobs in the government sector (which too is begrudged to them) and in politics, they continue to be shunned in the realms of culture, literature and the arts. Invoking Ambedkar`s 1952 speech, Anand wanted the speakers to examine the “absence of public conscience”, especially among the Hindus.
Ilaiah said the caste system made the brahmins, kshatriyas and vaishyas caste-proud and they therefore did not believe in introspection since they believe dalits and sudras have no right to write forget even speak. The Hindu public has no conscience, he said. Valmiki said that there`s segreagation in every village in India, and the dalits are forced to live in ghettoes to the West of the village or near gutters. Caste envelopes every aspect of life in everyday India. Valmiki said even in Rajasthan today dalits face discrimination. In the vilage Chakwara in Rajasthan, after dalits managed to gain access to the lake, the caste Hindus started defecating there and polluting it, Anand pointed out. Sivakami said that upper caste Hindus have only a caste conscience and not a public conscience; they lack a human conscience. All the writers agreed that there was no reason they would call themselves Hindu since Hinduism offered them no dignity or respect. Valmiki earlier said that it was wonderful that the DSC Jaipur literature festival in its fifth year has welcomed dalit writers.
January 11, 2010
Caste prejudices are on the increase: India’s Supreme Court Chief Justice
Check out this interesting comment by India’s Chief Justice.
Caste bias against dalits not down: CJI
By Dhananjay Mahapatra, Times of India, 11 January 2010
NEW DELHI: In what could raise serious concerns over the working of the 60-year-old reservation system to uplift the dalits, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on Sunday said caste prejudices had not come down against the dalits.
Reflecting on his journey from a dalit boy to the post of CJI, Justice Balakrishnan said it had not been an easy road for him. Asked whether in the present day, a similarly placed dalit boy would have a smoother journey, the CJI said, “It will still be difficult.”
Speaking to TOI, Justice Balakrishnan said, “The prejudices are on the increase. It may not be visible on the surface, for the prejudices are more sophisticate now.” This remark from the CJI puts in question the efficacy of the current system of reservation for Scheduled Caste population through the Presidential Order of 1950 to compensate them for the centuries of oppression at the hands of upper castes.
But the CJI was not bitter as he looked back on the eve of completing three years in the top post, just five months away from his retirement. “I have suffered caste prejudices. But at the same time, so many people have helped me irrespective of their caste,” he added.
In fact, the Supreme Court in April 2006 had issued notices to the Centre and all states on a PIL filed by an NGO — ‘National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights’ (NCDHR) — citing 20 common instances of indifference of police and authorities that had rendered the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, a dead piece of legislation. The PIL had sought as many as 28 different directions for the proper implementation of the 17-year-old Act.
January 06, 2010
I think of each one of our girls in our 90 schools and what could happen to them if we
don't educate and empower them to protect themselves from abuse
Dalit girl burnt alive for fighting rape
Tuesday January 5, 2010, New Delhi
She was just 14, and as she waited at home on Monday for her parents to return, two boys broke in.
They tried to rape her, and she fought back. Fed up, the two boys, both under 18, poured kerosene all over her, set her on fire, and left her house. Neighbours rushed to the fields where her parents were working. When they got home, their child was still alive. They rushed her to hospital. She died a few hours later.
"She told the police that both the boys tried to rape her ...when she resisted, they doused kerosene on her and set her on fire. They should be severely punished," says her broken father.
This tragedy took place in Madhya Pradesh in the Burhanpur district. Caste played a big role in the girl's death. She was a Dalit, her attackers were not.
The two boys have been found by the police and have been arrested.
Their young victim dreamt of being a teacher someday, and helping girls in her village to realize their dreams.