2 children of Dalit family burnt alive, parents injured in Faridabad – The Hindustan Times
Manual scavenging continues in Madurai – The Hindu
PIL claiming double tumbler system closed – The Times Of India
Middlemen benefit; families at a loss – The Hindu
Socio-economic backwardness is the main issue troubling Dalits: writer – The Hindu
Is original objective of caste-based reservation lost in muddied waters of entitlement politics? – The Economic Times
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The Hindustan Times
2 children of Dalit family burnt alive, parents injured in Faridabad
Prabhu Razdan, Hindustan Times, Faridabad
Updated: Oct 20, 2015 12:26 IST
Two children of a Dalit family, including a nine-month-old boy, were burnt alive and their parents injured when some members of the Rajput community allegedly set fire to their home in Faridabad district of Haryana on Tuesday, triggering tensions in the area.
Police said the incident occurred at 3am, when members of a Rajput family allegedly sprinkled petrol on the home of a Dalit man and set it alight. Two children – a nine-month-old boy and a two-and-half-year-old girl – were charred to death and their parents sustained multiple burn injuries, police said.
The attack caused tension in Ballabgarh area of Faridabad district. Officials said the attack could be the fallout of the arrest of 11 people last year in connection with some murders in the area.
“Those who were victims in last year’s case are the accused in today’s case. The victims in today’s case named the accused and we registered a case against them,” said Subhash Yadav, the commissioner of police of Faridabad.
Police registered the case under provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. A hunt has been launched for the attackers, officials said.
Officials said a probe had been ordered to ascertain why the incident had occurred despite a mobile police team being deployed in the area for the Navratra festival. Security in the area had been further intensified, they said.
Manual scavenging continues in Madurai
C.J. Rajan, Head, Samam Kudimakkal Iyakkam, says that the Act clearly specifies that the district or State machinery should strictly monitor and ensure that no manual scavenging is practised.
The death of two conservancy workers owing to asphyxiation on Wednesday when they were cleaning an underground drainage at HMS Colony here has exposed the lack of safety measures in place for them and ignorance of the ban on manual scavenging.
A similar incident occurred in 2009 when a contract worker of the City Corporation died in a similar fashion while removing blockage with two others without wearing protective gear. Another worker succumbed at a hospital two days later.
Though there is ban on manual scavenging under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, activists in the city say that there is little or no monitoring to prevent the practice.
C.J. Rajan, Head, Samam Kudimakkal Iyakkam, says that the Act clearly specifies that the district or State machinery should strictly monitor and ensure that no manual scavenging is practised. “Manual scavenging is something that is rooted deep in society as many are still engaged in it,” Mr. Rajan says, adding it is the collective responsibility of the people to prevent this practice.
“Manual scavenging continues to take place quietly in many areas in the city since no one voices dissent against it. Instead of waiting for the government to take action, conservancy workers must be aware of the ban and refuse to do such work which is undertaken under dangerous conditions in the absence of proper equipment or machinery,” he says.
The engineering division of Madurai Corporation has on its rolls 240 contract workers who are required to remove blocks in the underground drainage system by entering into the drains through manholes. These workers report to drainage inspectors and sanitary inspectors.
No protective gear
It is not uncommon to see conservancy workers unclogging manholes with sticks and rods without wearing shoes, gloves or masks. A conservancy worker admitted that they never receive these protective gear from their contractors.
“Many of them either do not know about such protective gear or chose not to give them,” he says.
This being the case for conservancy workers, their counterparts who clear dust and debris off roads also work without masks or gloves.
A corporation official says that many workers do not wear the protective gear issued to them. But M. Balasubramanian, general secretary, City Corporation Conservancy Workers Unit of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), says that there are no sustained efforts to provide the protective gear to the workers.
“The corporation does not take manual scavenging seriously since the workers are engaged only by contractors. It is the duty of the corporation authorities to step in and ensure that manual scavenging is not practised and the workers wear the protective gear and use machinery. In many cases, families of the deceased workers do not get compensation for the loss of the breadwinner. The conservancy workers’ unions are planning to move the court over this issue,” Mr. Balasubramanian says.
The Times Of India
PIL claiming double tumbler system closed
TNN | Oct 20, 2015, 08.44 AM IST
MADURAI: The Madras high court has closed a PIL that alleged social boycott and double tumble practice imposed against SCs in a village in Dindigul district, after a revenue divisional officer (RDO) report revealed that there was no discrimination in the village.
Denying caste discrimination against dalits in the village, as alleged in the PIL, the RDO report said ‘use and throw’ cups were being in all tea shops in the village. Probe revealed use of no two tumbler system, report said. One Kaliyappan from Palani in Dindigul district had filed the petition stating that unlike people of other communities in Kavalapatti village in Palani, dalits were not allowed inside the Kaliyamman, Thurgai Amman and Muthusamy temples besides imposing double tumbler system in tea shops in the village.
The PIL-petitioner wanted the court to direct the officials, including chief secretary, adi dravidar welfare secretary, Dindigul district collector, RDO and police officials to help SCs enter temples besides abolition of double tumbler system.
When the matter came up for hearing on Monday, special government pleader N Manoharan informed the court that the petitioner’s grievance had been redressed, and RDO and staff conducted inquiry in the village on October 6.
“The village’s population is 2,750, including about 500 from adi dravidar communities. None of the four tea shops practiced two tumbler system, the report said, adding that only ‘use and throw’ cups made in paper were being used. “No partiality was found in that village,” SGP said.
Recording the report, the bench closed the petition.
Middlemen benefit; families at a loss
While the State looks forward to the colours and heat and dust of the local bodies’ poll, 21 distraught families in Kochi will quietly put on black blindfolds on the election days and boycott the polls.
They are among the dozens of other families in the State, done in by middlemen who had offered the bait of small loans and then pledged their only properties in banks, for much larger amounts. The collective debt of these 21 families alone has now ballooned to about Rs.1 crore, an imponderably huge burden for most of them.
As in the case of Babu, in Kochi’s Kakkanad. He says he had pledged his entire property consisting of six cents of land and a small house for Rs.4.75 lakh to get his daughter married off. He is now staring at a Rs.28-lakh debt.
The middleman tricked him, and pledged his property for a bigger sum. Worse still, even his monthly repayment of Rs.13,000 was channelled into the middleman’s account for over a year.
K.S. Madhusoodhanan, a High Court lawyer, says that in most cases the victims were tricked into signing the sale deed of their own property.
“The middlemen then pledge it in the bank and make good with the amount. As the bank issues notice on default, they don’t contest it, since they have nothing to lose,” he says. ‘‘Since the Debt Recovery Tribunal is involved, by the time the real owner contests the recovery in a civil court, the property would have already changed hands many times,” he says.
Three recent attempts to attach the property under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act were thwarted by a protest committee fighting their cause. Most of the victims are Dalits, and too poor and disempowered to stage a legal fight on their own. “The provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act were not invoked initially for their benefit. Even the direction of the Kerala State Commission for SCs and STs on August 24 to resolve the issue within three months seems ignored,” says V.C. Jenny, the committee’s vice-chairperson.
Socio-economic backwardness is the main issue troubling Dalits: writer
Dalit writers said that the sixth national Dalit Sahitya Sammelan, which concluded in Bagalkot on Sunday, provided a platform to raise crucial issues related to the community.
The two-day event was organised by the Dalit Sahitya Parishat to discuss many civic/social issues.
However, while a section of people felt that the event did not gain significance at the national level, the writers said that the mere presence of people was not a criterion to term the event national or not.
Dalit writer B.M. Puttaiah, who participated in the event, told The Hindu that though a limited number of people attended, the issues discussed were of national-level importance.
He, however, admitted that the issues raised should have been presented more effectively.
“When we talk of Dalit issues, we tend to confine it to their food habits such as eating beef. In reality, these are not the issues primarily faced by Dalits. Socio-economic backwardness of the community is the main issue. More discussion should be held on this and efforts made to find a solution,” Mr. Puttaiah asserted.
Meanwhile, during the event, the writers unanimously opposed RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s proposal to revisit the reservation system in the country.
They also opposed the shrinking space for rationalists in the society and the murder of writer M.M. Kalburgi.
- Hanumantaiah, president of Kannada Development Authority, expressed apprehension over the Dadri incident and said right-wing elements may beat up even Dalits for consuming beef.
He called upon progressive thinkers, Dalits, backward and minority communities to join hand to fight anti-social elements, which were destroying the social fabric in the name of religion and nationalism.
The Economic Times
Is original objective of caste-based reservation lost in muddied waters of entitlement politics?
By Dinesh Narayanan, ET Bureau | 20 Oct, 2015, 04.19AM IST
Many Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers and leaders believe that if their party loses the Bihar state elections, one of the key reasons would be its ideological parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remark that the current caste-based reservation system should be reviewed.
The party has gone out of its way to clarify that reservation policy will not be touched. BJP president Amit Shah said at a press conference on Monday that his party was committed to the current quota policy. Yet, many believe the damage has already been done.
Caste is arguably the single biggest influencer in Indian politics today and caste-based quotas in education and jobs are seen as an economic entitlement bestowed by the state. Those who get the entitlement are loathe to give it up and those out of it would move heaven and earth to get a share.
BJP national executive member Sanjay Paswan remembers the day when he met Bihar party chief Sushil Kumar Modi in 2009 when candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections were being discussed. He had gone to him with an unusual request.
Paswan, a Dalit and former union minister of state in the AB Vajpayee government, wanted to contest from an unreserved constituency. He felt that he had enjoyed the benefit of reservation long enough and did not need it any more. But Modi would have none of it. “Abhi samaj tayyar nahin hai (society is not ready for it),” Paswan recalls Modi telling him. He also remembers some others commenting: Dekhiye inka mizaz kaise badh gaya hai ki hamari seat mang rahe hain (See how much his self-assurance ..
“Reservation has brought us down on crutches. It doesn’t let us realise our full potential,” he says.
Lost somewhere in the heated debate over who deserves quota is the question: what is the objective of reservation? Fighting economic backwardness was not the original promise of reservation. “The premise for reservation has changed over the years,” says Satish Deshpande who teaches sociology at the Delhi School of Economics. Deshpande says when the Poona Pact (reserving seats for depressed classes in provincial legislatures) between Mahatma Gandhi and BR Ambedkar was signed in 1932 the promise was that exclusion would end. Post-Constituent Assembly debates which resulted in the Constitution, the target shifted to backwardness and later to inequality.
“We have forgotten the distinction between exclusion and inequality. And inequality is politically a much more acceptable idiom,” he says. Although quotas have brought opportunities to backward castes and Dalits, they have had limited impact on their social mobility. It has also helped create layers of economically and socially mobile groups within communities leading to intra-group differences. Deshpande points out that reservation is necessary but it cannot be a panacea. “It cannot be an answer to different questions — of backwardness, inequality, poverty and exclusion.”
The perception that reservation for a few is denying opportunities to bigger cohorts is fueling resentment against the beneficiaries of the system and widens the gaps between communities. A state-wide agitation in July-August by the relatively well-off Patidar community of Gujarat seeking either reservation for the community in jobs and educational institutions or an end to all quotas rekindled the debate on the efficacy of reservations.
The Patidar agitation — which erupted a month before Bihar state elections where caste plays a dominant role — forced prime minister Narendra Modi to assure that quotas were here to stay. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat weighed in in the debate saying that it was time to review the reservation policy, triggering speculation that the ruling party and its ideological parent were not on the same page on the issue. A paper presented at a recent symposium organised by a group associated with the RSS argued that reservation benefits should be changed from caste to household, irrespective of caste and community. The presenter Durganand Jha, himself a member of the RSS, argued for a household ranking system on the basis of their social, regional, income and education status. Jha argues that caste is no more a true indicator of poverty and backwardness.
As the discourse is based on inequality, intra-group differences are also playing a part in the demand for reservations — Patidars in Gujarat, Marathas in Maharashtra and Jats in the northern states all of which are communities with a fairly good population of rich upper class and prosperous middle class.
The Patidars, or Patels, of Gujarat are one of the most mobile agrarian communities in the country and it is unusual for them to seek reservation in jobs. “When I first went to Surat in 1990 the city was plastered with the slogan naukri chodo, vyapar karo (leave your jobs and start a business). Now they are asking for job quotas,” Surinder S Jodhka, the author of Caste in Contemporary India, who teaches sociology at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, remembers. “The current discourse on reservation is misplaced. People are seeing it as an issue of economic mobility,” says Jodhka.
Social scientist Ghanshyam Shah had told ET in late August that the Patidar agitation had its roots in the country’s economic situation. “It (the Patidar agitation) is the basic dissatisfaction with the kind of economy which is not giving them decent jobs,” Shah had said.
There are no authoritative studies that measure the impact of reservation on communities but anecdotal evidence suggests that job quotas have helped combat economic backwardness but does not guarantee inclusion. In fact, it has formed sections with greater mobility within communities which tend to corner benefits and create intra-group differences.
The Report of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities of 2007, better known as the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission report, says that the policy of reservation has had a salutary effect in terms of induction of SC, ST and OBCs into public sector employment and in educational institutions. However, their current share in employment and educational institutions still fall short of target in certain categories of jobs and jobs and higher education, it said.
Anyway, with the states, centre and state-owned companies, employing just about 20 million people, the demand can hardly be met. Sandip Sarkar, professor at the Institute of Human Development, projects that this year the number of youth in the age group of 15-29 in the workforce would be 153 million. This number would rise to 156 million in 2020 and to 158 million by 2025.
The Ranganath Mishra Commission says reservation did not provide equal opportunities within each group or community to all beneficiaries. Almost in all categories of beneficiaries among SC, ST and OBCs, there is a growing sense of deprivation amongst different categories, which is leading to internal dissension. Problems of this kind are manifold in the case of OBCs as in each state there are dominant groups, usually with economic and political clout, who reap the benefits of reservations.
There are Ezhavas in Kerala, Nadars and Thevars in Tamil Nadu, Vokkaligas and Lingayats in Karnataka, Lodhs and Koeris in central India, Yadavs and Kurmis in Bihar and UP and Jats in Rajasthan, who despite their dominant status have been, clubbed as backward classes eligible for benefits under reservations, it pointed out.
According to Sanjay Paswan, there is a dependence syndrome and also a charity syndrome. “The government and upper castes think they are doing us charity.” Paswan advocates a principle of “no more four”— that is, quota should be restricted to three persons in a family; to three generations; to three times for contesting elections.
In a letter to chief ministers in 1961, the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru wrote: “If we go in for reservations on communal and caste basis, we swamp the bright and able people and remain second rate or third rate. I am grieved to learn of how far this business of reservation has gone based on communal considerations. It has amazed me to learn that even promotions are based sometimes on communal or caste considerations. This way lies not only folly but disaster. Let us help the backward groups by all means, but never at the cost of efficiency.”
The Ranganath Mishra Commission was hobbled by lack of sufficient material and scientific analysis on hand to decide whether reservations affected quality of work. In 2009, Ashwini Deshpande of the Delhi School of Economics and Thomas Weisskopf of the University of Michigan studied the Indian Railways to see how reservation policies affected its productivity. They found no evidence that affirmative action in hiring reduced the efficiency of the organisation. “Indeed, “Indeed, some of our results suggest that the opposite is true, providing tentative support for the claim that greater labour force diversity boosts productivity,” the researchers wrote.
On the contrary, exclusion, the original target of quotas, actually hurts economic activity. JNU’s Jodhka found during field research among Dalit entrepreneurs in Panipat that many of them were forced to locate businesses in areas that were not good for the kind of businesses they were setting up due to either lack of resources or caste prejudice. Even a well-established businessman in Panipat found it hard to rent a place to run a cooking gas agency. “Since almost everyone knew us in the town, no one was willing to rent out a shop to us,” Jodhka quotes the businessman as saying in Caste in Contemporary India.
DSE’s Deshpande equates exclusion with atrocities. While some OBCs such as the Ezhavas of Kerala and the Yadavs of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have gone some way in economic and social mobility, many other castes that are included in the OBC category and especially Dalits still suffer exclusion. “The Dalit non-Dalit line remains stark even today,” Deshpande says.
Reservation politics is likely to get more complicated as socially powerful groups ratchet up pressure on governments to expand quotas. Gujarat’s Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel is already trying to stitch up alliances with like-minded community groups in other states such as the Jats of Haryana and Gujjars of Rajasthan. The Gujjars, who are already in the OBC list, are demanding that they be included in the Scheduled Tribe category.
The Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance government had, towards the fag end of its term, included Jats in states like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in the quota list. The Supreme Court, however, removed them saying that the community in these states was not backward. The group, however, continues to build political pressure for quotas.
The need for quotas can only abate if there are enough educational and job opportunities for everyone and for that economic growth is essential. However, economic growth can hope to only bridge inequalities and income gaps. Inclusion will require deep social reform.
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