Dalits Media watch – English News Updates 08.08.15

Neighbour rapes Dalit minor girl in Bhilwara – The Hindustan Times


Act on SC/ST Plaint or Land in Jail, Amended Bill Warns Staff – The New Indian Express


CII to promote women, Dalit entrepreneurs – The Hindu


Punjab to give financial help to girls a month before wedding – The Times Of India


Bonded labour at textile mills – The Hans India


Lessons from Indian Caste System and the US Presidential Race – Patheos


‘Baahubali’ renews discourse on caste and films in Tamil Nadu – The Indian Express


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The Hindustan Times

 Neighbour rapes Dalit minor girl in Bhilwara


 HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Bhilwara

|Updated: Aug 07, 2015 21:04 IST

A 16-year-old Dalit girl in Rajasthan has complained to police that she was abducted and raped by a neighbour whose family then tried to buy her silence.

The incident took place on Thursday night when the victim had gone out to buy grocery in Bhilwara’s Ramesh Chandra Vyas colony, Subhash Nagar police station chief Nemi Chand Chaudhary said on Friday.

Police have registered a case against the accused Om Prakash Harizan under Section 366 (abduction), 376 (rape) of Indian Penal Code and various Section of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act 2012, he said.

“The victim, who belongs to a Scheduled Caste – Banjara (Guwaria) – went to a nearby shop to buy grocery when she was allegedly abducted,” he said. “Police registered the case after the victim’s family lodged a complaint against the accused.”

The girl’s family alleged that Om Prakash, a neighbour allegedly abducted her and took her to the banks of the Kothari river in the neighbourhood, where he raped her, said Chaudhury quoting the complaint.

After threatening the victim with dire consequences, the accused fled from the spot, the victim’s family said in the complaint. The girl narrated about her ordeal to her family after returning home late at night.

According to the complaint, the father of the accused, Gopal Harizan allegedly offered them money to keep the matter under wraps, said Choudhury.

“The girl has been sent for medical examination while a search is underway to nab the accused,” he said.

The New Indian Express

 Act on SC/ST Plaint or Land in Jail, Amended Bill Warns Staff


By Gokul Vannan

MADURAI:  Hailing the amendments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill 2014, which was passed in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Dalit activists described it as a milestone in the journey to end injustice, violence and atrocities against the oppressed sections.

What’s more, the clause making public servants accountable if they do not act on complaints has received wholesome appreciation. “The bill has now made the public servant accountable with clear specification that a non-SC/ST public servant, who neglects dealing with the cases, is punishable with imprisonment for a term of six months to one year,” said A Kathir, executive director of Evidence, an NGO based in Madurai.

The bill also has clearly specified the duties for public servants. For instance, while registering a complaint or FIR, the police officer should read out the information before getting the signature of the complainant and give a copy of the complaint to them. If an officer fails to do so, he would be punished for wilful negligence, Kathir explained. Explaining the new bill, V A Ramesh Nathan, Convener of The National Coalition for Strengthening Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (PoA), Act, New Delhi, informed Express that it seeks to amend the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (PoA) Act, 2009, and includes new offences. Further, it aims to establish exclusive special courts in every district to ensure cases are disposed of within two months after filing of charge sheet.

sc stamnedment

“In the last 25 years since the Act was introduced, we have witnessed an increase in new forms of caste atrocities in the country. Hence the bill has included new offences such as garlanding with footwear; compelling to dispose or carry human or animal carcasses, or do manual scavenging; abusing SCS/STs by caste name in public; attempt to promote feelings of ill-will against them or disrespecting any deceased person and imposing or threatening a social or economic boycott,” he pointed out.

I Pandiyan, programme director for Social Awareness Society for Youths (SASY), Tindivanam, claimed that the Act couldn’t address atrocities against Dalits. “Majority of victims and witnesses faced hurdles at every stage of legal process right from registration, investigation and charge-sheeting in the cases because of the wilful negligence of duty by public servants,” he said.

The Hindu

 CII to promote women, Dalit entrepreneurs



The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is launching a regional initiative aimed at promoting women and Dalit entrepreneurs in the State and other southern States and helping them scale up their operations.

Chairperson, CII (Southern Region), Rajshree Pathy said here on Friday that mentoring of women professionals would be a special focus area of the CII in Kerala. The Indian Women Network, an initiative of the CII, would provide a platform for women entrepreneurs from the State to learn and share skills and tap emerging opportunities.

The CII was also working closely with the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI) on a programme to promote Dalit vendors and entrepreneurs and help them develop business leadership.

Ms. Rajshree, accompanied by a delegation comprising CII deputy chairman Ramesh Datla; chairman, Kerala council, Hari Krishnan Nair; and regional director Mahesh Natarajn, held discussions with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and senior officials on the regional development initiatives of the industry body.

Later interacting with the media, the CII leaders said the discussions had centred on the Smart South initiative for development of skills, manufacturing, agriculture, renewables and technology sectors. They said the series of regular interactions with the State government under the GCCF (Government of Kerala- CII Consultative Forum) had helped address the core issues for industry in the State.

Productivity indices

They said that the CII had taken up a project to bring out a paper comparing Kerala’s productivity indices with that of other States. The regional initiative also included programmes on mentoring women entrepreneurs, and skill development and increasing employability of youth. Branded agricultural products would be promoted under the Safe to Eat, Make in Kerala tag. The CII had tied up with the Additional Skill Acquisition Programme (ASAP) and the Kerala Academy for Skills Excellence (KASE) for skill development programmes.

Outlining the CII roadmap for the State, Mr. Nair said Ayurveda, health tourism, food processing, and marine food products constituted the key sectors for Kerala’s economic growth.

Answering questions, Ms. Rajshree said the Vizhinjam international seaport had the potential to spur the economic development of the State. She said the project would help Kerala reduce its dependence on other States and countries for transhipment of goods. It would be a valuable addition to the State’s infrastructure, she added.

The Times Of India

 Punjab to give financial help to girls a month before wedding


PTI | Aug 8, 2015, 10.19 AM IST

AMRITSAR: Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal today said Punjab government would provide monetary help to girls a month prior to their wedding instead of on the wedding day, as has been the norm under ‘Shagun Scheme’ hitherto.

Speaking on the second day of Sangat Darshan programme here, he said the government has decided to advance the time of financial assistance to a month before the wedding day and added that the modalities have been worked out and people would be getting the benefits soon.

Under the scheme, scheduled caste families with annual income up to Rs 30,000 are given Rs 15,000 as ‘shagun’ for marriage of one of their daughters.

“It’s part of our endeavour to ensure the welfare of the poorest of the poor in the state,” added Badal.

Urging the Centre to help the states, especially those along the International Border like Punjab, to combat the menace of terrorism effectively, the chief minister said funds must be allotted generously to the border states for modernization of the police force.

He further said the Centre and the state must formulate a combined action plan to tackle this grave national problem.

Batting for effective sealing of borders to check infiltration, he said the Centre must take necessary action in this regard.

Appreciating the Punjab Police for showing exemplary courage during the Gurdaspur attack, he said every citizen, including the prime minister and the home minister, had lauded them for their heroic deed.

He categorically stated that the allegations pertaining to shifting of IIM from Amritsar to Bathinda were completely baseless and unwarranted.

Badal said neither he nor Cabinet Minister Anil Joshi had brought IIM to the holy city but Finance Minister Arun Jaitley gave this project, and Post Graduate Institute of Horticulture Research, to the city in the budgetary speech.

On the recent statement of Chief Parliamentary Secretary Navjot Kaur Sidhu that she “will quit if BJP partners with SAD in 2017 poll”, he said the alliance was everlasting and firm.

Stating that Sidhu was like his daughter, Badal said he was a votary of morality in politics and would not like to comment on this issue.

“Throughout my political career I have refrained from making any personal attack on somebody, as my conscience does not allow it” he added.

The Hans India

 Bonded labour at textile mills


August 07,2015, 02.09 AM  IST | | THE HANS INDIA

Erode (Thomson Reuters Foundation): From her two-room concrete home nestled among the lush coconut plantations of southern India, housewife Kavita has seen the region’s textile industry flourish for a decade, thanks to the labour of poor, lower caste women like herself.

Promising a better life, “agents” have for years visited these poor, rural parts of Tamil Nadu and taken a steady stream of girls and women to work in thousands of cotton spinning mills, part of a textile and clothing industry that is one of India’s biggest employers and a major exporter.

The image of women from remote hamlets going to work, staying in hostels and earning money spinning cotton as part of a booming global garment supply chain, should be empowering in a country like India, an emerging power still plagued by poverty and male domination.

bonded labour

But former workers in Tamil Nadu’s Erode district describe a system of exploitation and bonded labour that has cast a dark shadow over India’s long-established textile industry. “I tell all the women I meet not to go and work in the mills. I know what the agents promise and what is real. 

It is not the same,” said 23-year-old Kavita, dressed in a lime sari, a crimson flower in her long black plait, sitting on a woven mat in her village home. “For almost a year, I wasn’t allowed to leave the compound where the hostel and mill was. They made me work double shifts. I only got out because I lied and said my aunt had died and I had to attend the funeral. I never went back.”

Just 13 at the time, Kavita was one of thousands of girls and women employed under “marriage schemes” offered by mills which mushroomed in Tamil Nadu when India’s economic liberalisation began in the early 1990s.   The schemes draw in cheap labour – mainly young women from poor, illiterate and low-caste or “Dalit” communities such as the Arunthathiyar – and offer lump sum payments at the end of a three-year period. 

They are promoted as an easy way to obtain the hefty dowries families need to marry off daughters. Recruits are offered full board in hostels at the mills’ compounds, holidays twice a year, outings such as picnics and temple visits, and clean and safe working and living conditions. 

But former workers and numerous studies by civil society groups such as the Freedom Fund, Anti-Slavery International and the Centre for Research on Multinational Companies say the women are kept in closed hostels, overworked, underpaid and abused.

“The binding of workers in this way, where they cannot change employers, is a form of bonded labour,” a 2014 study by the Freedom Fundand the C&A Foundation said. “Very low wages, excessive and sometimes forced overtime, lack of freedom of movement and of association, verbal and sexual abuse were found.”

The study suggested at least 100,000 girls and women were being exploited in this way. Industry bodies deny allegations of exploitation and say the schemes are “apprenticeships” in line with labour laws offering high wages. Cases of abuse are rare, they say.

Traffickers are called “agents”, legal loopholes are exploited and girls are overworked, afraid to speak out for fear of losing the money needed for their weddings, activists say. Some women say they were regularly forced to stand for more than 12 hours a day working the spindles. 

Others speak of migraines, excessive stomach pains and heavy bleeding during menstruation from dust and poor ventilation in the factories. The head of the South Indian Mills Association (SIMA), representing some 400 mills, said the government and the SIMA had strict codes of conduct on the treatment of workers, but admitted there might be violations.

“Some unscrupulous people have disobeyed these rules and now everyone has got a bad name due to this. Police are taking action as and when necessary,” SIMA Secretary General K Selvaraju told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.


Lessons from Indian Caste System and the US Presidential Race


August 6, 2015 by Desh Kapoor 2 Comments

Everyone has got India’s Caste System completely wrong.  Castes – the four:  Brahman (teacher/intellectual), Kshatriya (fighter/Law Enforcement), Vaishya (Businessman/Trader) and Shudra (Blue-collar worker) – have been prevalent in every society in all times.  Never has a society existed without these four predominant roles and people who fall in these categories broadly.  Some straddle, but mostly these are the four inherent vocational tendencies that people perform.

The scourge of Caste System was NOT because there were castes, but because there was immobility between them.  For most of India’s ancient and medieval history, the Rishis and Gurus were all from the “lower castes” (Blue collar).  From Ved Vyas to Valmiki to the later Gurus, most were from families doing menial work.  The Ashrams and the Universities during those times taught kids different skills.  And based on what you learnt, you got into that profession.  Getting into a Guru’s disciple-ship was predicated on the Guru’s discernment of who was or wasn’t suitable for that vocation inherently.  Subjective yes, but isn’t entry into which University subjective even today?

When the invasions occurred, the Ashrams and Universities like Nalanda and Taxila were destroyed.  The vehicles for mobility between castes were destroyed as well.  That created castes frozen in filial and hereditary lineage.  Moral of the Story: When Open education system is destroyed, Caste System is a verity.

In the race to browbeat the Indian caste structure without properly understanding why its nasty ruins manifested due to social upheavals – we miss out on something that has kept this culture and civilization in place.  The primacy of Intellect in governance.  Every King had a Royal Guru, whom he consulted.

I am sure people will charge on saying – “Well, afterall he was too interpreting scriptures”.  Sometimes, not always.  Even when he was, the scripture in Indian / Vedic sense did not equate to an Abrahamic scripture.  Vedic scriptures consist of two components – Smritis and Shruti.  Shruti is the unchangeable component (includes Vedas), while Smritis are contextual to a time and culture it comes about (Arthashastras, Puranas etc).  Shruti is the articulation of the source that an enlightened being.. any enlightened being “taps” into.  What Valmiki touched, what Krishna touched, what Buddha touched, what Mahavir touched, what Nanak touched or Ramana touched is unchanging Source of Creation.  Its articulation is Shruti.  That never needs to be in memory.  Every enlightened being – no matter how educated or how illiterate (Nanak or Kabir for example) can experience and articulate.

Anything else with social relevance is of memory.  So, Smriti.  It is of a time and of a place.  That which belongs to one place, is also changing.  That is why Smritis have changed and will always change.

So, while Royal Gurus were Enlightened beings – and so articulated the source of creation, they also created the Smriti of their times.  Their particular tradition.  That wisdom was the work of a Guru.  And the Guru was at the helm of the whole Governance system.  The warrior (i.e.; King) was guided by him.  Rules for the rest were inspired by the wisdom of the intellect and higher consciousness of a Guru and enforced by the Ruler.

This served this culture really well for many millennia.  It takes some doing to remain a consistent civilization for over 7000 years.

The American Elections Field and Intellect

Today we saw the first GOP debate for the 10 candidates for nomination in the Presidential race.  The front-runner was Donald Trump.  He came from behind and has already surged ahead of Jeb Bush and indications are that he will continue to surge ahead.

When asked about his business practices – specifically his filing of many bankruptcies – he said: “I used the prevalent laws”.  He also boasted of how he paid many politicians, “including many on this stage”!  He made it apparent that he was very rich.  $10 Billion rich!!

Looking at Obama, one saw how an intellectual – a well-educated person – was at the helm of affairs.  A Brahmin in his ways.  He may not be an enlightened being, but he has a steady head most of the times.  That intellect guided the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces that he is.

Barring Ronald Reagan, most of the Presidents in the US history have been intellectuals.  Those who weren’t (including Reagan) have created greater long term mess while sorting out short term problems.

Looking at Donald Trump it became apparent to one that the pendulum was shifting to a place where the Vaishya was to be at the helm.  Having the money and making the money needs a lot of compromises of consciousness.  Such a person cannot have the balance needed to hold the steering wheel of the nation with a steady hand.  Only a sharp, well informed and conscious intellect can do that.

Trouble in Future for US Generations

The US Education system is as stacked against mobility now.  The poor cannot fully access the best universities.  Some can and they – like Obama – are exceptions.  And only they make the mark.  Unbeknownst to most, the US society is now experiencing the beginning of the era of fossilized castes.  Lawyer’s kids will inherit their law practice.  Politician’s kids become politicians (Clinton, Bush, Kennedy) and so on.

In such a time, we have a wave in the social universe of US which is buoying up a leader who cares for “profits at any cost”.  Will the intensely “proud of his wealth” guy leave his business interests outside the gates of White House?  I surely doubt.

The rich-poor gap is enlarging and will continue to grow.  So will structures in the society be hardened.  As will the ideologies.

No matter who comes in as the next President of the US of A, the future remains bleak in my eyes… unless one of the jokers who makes it to the White House can find a real Enlightened Being to lean on!

The Indian Express

 ‘Baahubali’ renews discourse on caste and films in Tamil Nadu


 ‘Baahubali’ underlines a trend in Tamil cinema: Of casteism subduing forces of equality.

Written by Gopalan Ravindran | Updated: August 5, 2015 10:04

The latest film to enter the discourse on caste and films in Tamil Nadu is Bahubali. The mention of “Pagadiyar Magan” (son of a Pagadiyar, purportedly a reference to a marginalised social community) drew violent protests in Madurai recently. It began in the 1930s, with early Tamil pioneer K. Subramaniyam, a Brahmin, who sought to locate characters in the binary social divide between Brahmins and the “untouchables” in films such as Nandanar (1935). In this film, the Brahmin character, played by Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, falls at the feet of the Nandanar, from an “untouchable” community, played by legendary female singer and actor K.B. Sundarambal, belonging to a “caste Hindu” community. It drew protests from Brahmins in places like Kumbakonam and there are references to the social boycott of Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer in Kumbakonam for the “sacrilegious act of falling at the feet of an ‘untouchable’”.

In a land where casteist and religious conflicts have a centuries-old violence-soaked history, the advent of a communication culture mediated by Western imports, such as printing technology through the activities of Portuguese missionaries on the Tuticorin coast in the 16th century, resulted in a print culture that does not want to hide its casteist and religious rivalries four centuries on. The 19th century print culture of Tamil Nadu and colonial Madras had a well-oiled machinery that promoted such rivalries.

The ongoing social (casteist) contestations in Tamil Nadu express themselves through casteist swear words and these have echoes in the titles of Tamil films, in dialogues, in elements of the mise-en-scène, with roots in the casteist and religious rivalries that became a defining characteristic of the nearly 500-year-old print culture of Tamil Nadu and in the 2,000-year-old rivalry between the forces of hegemony and marginalisation.

From a purely Western, liberal, egalitarian and urbane perspective, the classical markers of modernisation have their basis in the knowledge revolution made possible by the printing machine and, later, by mass media like films, radio, TV and the new media of the internet and mobile phone. From a purely Indian perspective, these technological imports have created problematic print and film cultures wherein the Western, liberal and egalitarian logic that seems to pervade the media fails against the casteist and religious elements that lurk in the minds of not just producers, directors, actors, scriptwriters, etc, but also in sub-sets of the commercial film apparatus, such as fan clubs, actors’ associations, distributors, exhibitors, etc. From a superficial perspective, the ongoing contestations are blamed either on the “lack of social awareness”, the lack of “social responsibility” and the “commercialism born of casteism” on the part of filmmakers or on the failure of the state and civil society to acknowledge the right of filmmakers to reflect their social realities. According to the latter view, what is part of social reality ought to find an expression in films and other media. However, the first axis of the binary warrants caution and accountability. What is being played out is the impossible state of acts of silence versus the expression of what is anyway a fact of social reality. What is missing from such a perspective is the logic of failure of civil society against the forces of inequality. It is historical, in the sense that the struggle against the forces of class, caste and religion and the social failures they cause to marginalised sections was pioneered by the Buddha and several Tirthankaras in the Jain order, which flourished in Tamil Nadu.

It is cultural, in the sense that the technologies of communication have to subsume their spirit of knowledge revolution in favour of the bipartite or tripartite logic of social contestations between and among Brahmins and non-Brahmins on the one hand, and between “caste Hindus” and Dalits on the other. It was common in the Dravidian Cinema Era of the 1940s and 1950s to find cinematic versions of social contestations in the narrative duels between the “dominant” (fair skinned/ Brahmin/ upper class/ Aryan/ north Indian) and the “oppressed” (dark skinned/ Dravidian/ non-Brahmin). These films, however, did not exclude casteist markers of the non-Brahmin/ caste Hindu, since they deployed in good measure rich characters, drawn from caste Hindu communities, like the Mudaliars and Thevars, in the roles of zamindars set against characters drawn from the lower strata of society, but whose caste was not revealed. What was missing in these narratives was the binary widely prevalent in the current crop of Tamil films: Dalits vs caste Hindus.

The last three decades have seen a proliferation of Tamil films that do not seek to hide the fact that casteism continues to fail the forces of equality pioneered by the Buddha and the likes of Periyar and Ambedkar. In movies of this period, caste markers abound in the titles, as in Thevar Magan (1992), Chinna Gounder (1992); in dialogue, as in Bahubali (2015), Sundara Pandian (2012), Vamsam (2010), Bharathi Kannamma (1997), Vedham Pudhithu (1987); and in the contestations deployed through the cinematic instruments of editing, costume, lighting, etc, by taking advantage of the casteist markers of male and female bodies of the upper castes and the marginalised castes, as well as the socio-cultural rituals they embody. The writer is professor at the department of journalism and communication, University of Madras.

News monitored By AMRESH & AJEET


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