Dalits Media Watch – English News Updates 23.11.15


Dalit, ‘upper’ caste youth clash over landThe Tribune


Where Dalit discrimination is invisible – The Hindu


SC/BC body wants 85th constitutional amendment implementedThe Tribune


Now, a child may get ‘Dalit’ stamp on birth – The Times Of India


Call to address Dalits’ plight instead of installing Ambedkar’s statues – The Hindu


Dalits urged to pursue higher studies – The Hindu


Minority committee to probe dalit assault case – The Hindu


Listen to the flames – The Hindu


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The Tribune

 Dalit, ‘upper’ caste youth clash over land


 Deepender Deswal Tribune News Service Hisar, November 22

The police have registered counter cases against an upper caste youth and a Dalit on their respective complaints after a clash between them over shamlat land in Mujadpur village of Hansi block.

Harish Bhardwaj, police spokesperson, said Ashok Kumar, son of Ramdhari Singh, alleged his neighbour barged into his house and attacked his father with a lathi. He said he also tried to force cow dung into his father’s mouth. The incident followed a dispute over a bitora (heap of cow dung cakes) between the women of the two families. He said the youth had a grudge against his father after they (Dalits) installed a statue of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar in the village in June.


“It was not a caste clash, but a dispute over a piece of shamlat land. The families tried to take possession of the land to keep cow dung. This led to a clash between the two families,” said Bhardwaj. He said a case under Section 323 and 447 of the IPC and relevant sections of the SC/ST Act had been registered against Manoj, while a case under Section 323 and 447 of the IPC was registered against the family members of Ramdhari for beating Manoj’s family member.

Manoj has denied the allegation, stating it were the family members of Ashok who beat up his family after the dispute.

Hisar SP Satender Gupta said he had marked a probe to the DSP. “The probe has begun and action would be taken against the guilty,” he said.

The Hindu

 Where Dalit discrimination is invisible



 Though empowered by Christianity in Kanyakumari,

they may not get jobs or priority in admission

The observation made 79 years ago by legendary British Missionary-Surgeon Theodore Howard Somervell in his memoir ‘After Everest: The Experiences of a Mountaineer and Medical Missionary’ remains valid even today on the status of Dalits in Kanyakumari district.

Regretting that “centuries of Hinduism, in spite of their great mystics, have never given untouchables a chance”, Dr Somervell, who served the CSI Mission hospital in Neyyoor for two decades since 1923, had observed that “caste is firmly embedded in the Indian mind, so much so that many Indian Christians take several generations to throw it off.”

Even though Christianity has empowered Dalits, who are known as Sambavars and relatively well off when compared to their Hindu brothers in the district in so far as they are not subjected to untouchability overtly, they continue to face discrimination in socio-economic and political spheres even six decades after independence.

“Of course, Christianity has liberated them, but not to the extent it could have done. Psychological discrimination continues to plague the Dalits, but not to the extent they suffer in Hinduism,” said Dr James Reynold Daniels, former Principal of the ScottChristian College.

In Kanyakumari district, many of the early leaders of the Church were Dalits and some like John Palmer and Devar Munshi had even contributed to the hymns and lyrics (Gnanapaatu and Gnana Keerthanai) regularly sung in churches.

Paul Mani, a Dalit Chrisitian who worked with the Concordia Theological Seminary, claimed that the first Christian Missionary to work in the district was Maharajan Vedamanickam, a Dalit from Tharangambadi.

He landed in the district in 1805.

“Dalits here face untouchability indirectly. They may not get jobs in Christian institutions. Their children are not given any priority in admission to educational institutions even though there are marriages between Dalits and Nadars,” he said.

Nadar majoritarianism

Dr. Daniels attributed the trend to the emergence of Nadar majoritarianism in the London Missionary Society (LMS).

A majority of Dalits joined the Salvation Army after it was launched.

The Church of South India (CSI) had ensured special representation for not just Dalits but all minority Christians. We sit together, pray together and attend function. But there is an invisible divide,” he said.

Dr. Somervell also mentions in his memoir how his cook was not allowed to conduct his wedding in a church next door because he belonged to a different caste.

Writer Nada Sivakumar said unlike other districts, untouchability was not blatantly practised in Kanyakumari because of small land holdings. “But they face micro-discrimination,” he says.

“Denial of a role for Dalits in socio-economic and political platforms was explained by the fact that they were never given a representation in Parliament or the Legislative Assembly all these years. Many schemes are out of reach for Dalits because of such a situation,” he said.

While acknowledging the uplifting role of Christianity, Mr. Sivakumar complained that a majority of Dalit Christians retained their Hindu identity for the sake of government benefits. “It comes in the way of people like me enjoying the benefits reserved for Dalits in the Hindu fold,” he said.

The Tribune

 SC/BC body wants 85th constitutional amendment implemented


 Tribune News Service  Jalandhar, November 22

Gazetted & Non-Gazetted SC BC Employees Welfare Federation (Punjab) today held a meeting at Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall, where they condemned the Punjab Government for not implementing the 85th amendment to the Indian Constitution.

Addressing a meeting of the federation, its chairman Jasvir Singh Pal said by not implementing the recommendations of the 85th amendment to the Indian Constitution, Punjab Government has been dishonouring the Parliament. As many as 35,000 vacancies in the reserved categories have been put in deep freeze. By doing so, the 38 per cent of the population is being denied its rightful due, the federation alleged.

Pal said unemployment allowance was not being provided to the youngsters. More than 50 lakh people belonging to the SC and BC categories are being deprived the benefits of the schemes launched by the government.

“Punjab Government’s anti-Dalit face has been revealed by not implementing the recommendations to the amendments. If the government fails to implement it, the federation would intensify its struggle. Agitations in front of the office of deputy commissioners across the state will be launched from December 7 to 21,”Pal said.   

The Times Of India

 Now, a child may get ‘Dalit’ stamp on birth


PTI | Nov 22, 2015, 11.44 AM IST

 NEW DELHI: A child’s birth certificate may bear the stamp of his or her being a Dalit as per the draft guidelines framed by the government. 

Besides, schools in all states and union territories will be responsible for issuing caste and domicile certificates to Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) students, when they are studying in Class VIII. 

The Centre has been receiving representations, from time to time, regarding difficulties faced by SC and ST candidates in obtaining caste or domicile certificates while applying for admission, and services under the central government. 

The domicile certificate is issued by the authority concerned of the state government or union territory to prove that the person bearing the certificate is a resident of the particular state or union territory which is issuing it. 

Such certificate is issued as proof of residence to avail domicile or resident quotas in educational institutions and in the state or central government services, as also in the case of jobs where preference to local residents is available. 

“The possibility may also be explored to indicate the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe status in the birth certificate,” reads the draft guidelines for states and UTs, formed by the department of personnel and training (DoPT). 

With a view to ease the difficulties faced by SC or ST students in obtaining certificates, it is proposed that caste certificate and the residency certificate may be issued to SC and ST students, all over the country, when they are studying in Class VIII, it said. 

The school head or headmaster of the school, in which the student is studying, would get the necessary documents filled up from the students studying in Class VIII. 

A window of two months in September-October or any other time frame decided by the state government or UT concerned may be allocated for completing this exercise. The school will get the documents collected from all the SC and ST students and arrange to submit them to the relevant state government authority or revenue authorities for making the requisite certificates, as per the draft guidelines. 

The authorities would scrutinise those documents and within a period of 30-60 days, would issue the certificates. If the certificate of any student is rejected, reasons will be provided and provision for one time appeal may be allowed by the state authorities, it said. 

Once the certificate is made, it would be given to the students through the school authorities and would be kept with them for safe custody for availing the benefits, concessions and facilities available to the concerned category of students, the guidelines said. 

The DoPT has sought comments from all stakeholders on these draft guidelines by December 21.

The Hindu

 Call to address Dalits’ plight instead of installing Ambedkar’s statues



Writers and progressive thinkers of Hassan have taken serious exception to people’s representatives who give more importance to installing statues of B.R. Ambedkar rather than addressing the plight of Dalits in the district.

Home Minister G. Parameshwar, Minister for Animal Husbandry A. Manju and legislators H.D. Revanna, H.K. Kumaraswamy took part in the unveiling of a bronze statue of Ambedkar at Gorur near here on Saturday.

S.N. Mallappa, a senior Dalit Sangharsha Samiti leader, said: “Installing statues of Ambedkar is a strategy to woo voters. Last time A.Manju installed a statue in Arakalgudu town and with that succeeded to woo Dalits. I am shocked none of the speakers in the programme made a reference to Sigaranahalli, where Dalits have been denied social justice. What’s the point in having statues of Ambedkar, when these people do not want to implement his thoughts.”

Dalits of Sigaranahalli have demanded entry into the temple and a community hall in the village, which has been opposed by the ‘upper castes’. Several meetings by the district administration have failed to resolve the issue.

A Dalit woman was also assaulted in the village recently.

Writer Banu Mushtaq said that installing Ambedkar’s statues would not serve any purpose, unless his ideologies are being understood by the people.

“The culture of installing statues does not help people understand what he did for the country. The younger generation should be made to know him ideologically,” she said.

Dharmesh, district secretary of CPM, pointed out, “installing Ambedkar’s statue is easier than implementing his thoughts. The politicians eyeing on votes prefer installing statues for providing social justice guaranteed by the constitution for the deprived sections. The government’s objective should be to ensure democratic, secular republic. I am worried politicians of the district are not concerned about the real plight of Dalits.”

These people opposed the idea of installing many more statues of Ambedkar as it might attract controversies if someone to dishonour them. The administration would have to provide security to these statues as well, they added.

The Hindu

 Dalits urged to pursue higher studies



Parameshwara, Home Minister and president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, has called upon Dalit youths to study well and secure high posts in the administrative set up.

“Dalit students should not stop their education at SSLC. They should take up higher studies and become IAS officers so that the Backward Classes got justice,” he said in his address after unveiling a bronze statue of B.R. Ambedkar at Gorur in Hassan taluk on Saturday.

For centuries, Dalits have been denied education. Ambedkar had said that only education could liberate the depressed classes.

“Only India has the caste system and this should go. Ambedkar had suffered because of this system and he had said that he would not die as a Hindu in as early as 1935. However, he waited till 1956 to see if changes happened. As he was disappointed, he embraced Buddhism,” he said.

Even today, he said, Dalits were not allowed inside many hotels and temples. Such practices should end.

“Younger generations should understand what all troubles Ambedkar had to face during his fight against atrocities. His life should be a model to others,” he said.

Minister for Animal Husbandry, Sericulture and in-charge of Hassan district A. Manju said that Ambedkar was a role model for all communities.

The Hindu

 Minority committee to probe dalit assault case


A Subburaj,TNN | Nov 23, 2015, 08.43 AM IST

COIMBATORE: A team of senior authorities from the National Commission for Schedule Castes (NCSC) have decided to visit Karaiyampalayam village near Sulur on Monday morning where a dalit labourer was assaulted by a group of caste Hindus, a few days ago. The team will hold an inquiry with the victim and would take necessary steps to provide monitory relief to the victim’s family. 

On November 17, R Ganeshan, 43, a daily wage labourer from Karaiyamapalaym village had stopped a youth for driving his motorcycle in a rash and negligent manner and advised him not to ride in such a manner in the village. The youth who works under Santhosh, an AIADMK functionary in the village, told him that the motorcycle was damaged by Ganeshan and his men. 

Immediately, Santhosh and his friends Mohankumar, Balaji, Nandhakumar, Sakthivelpandian and along with others rushed to the area and allegedly assaulted Ganeshan with an iron pipe and managed to escape. The victim was admitted to Coimbatore Medical College and Hospital (CMCH). Villagers protested against the assault on Ganeshan, and blocked a road near Sulur, condemning the police inaction. 

Based on Ganeshan’s complaint, Sulur police registered a case against Santhosh and six others under Sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means) and 506 (ii)(criminal intimidation) of the IPC and Section 3 (1)(r) and 3 (1)(s) of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe (prevention of atrocities) Amendment Ordinance Act 2014. 

But police did not arrest the main accused Santhosh. Meanwhile dalits from Kariyampalayam conducted a road block on Avinashi Road, demanding the police to arrest all the accused. 

Meanwhile social justice organisation also conducted a protest near south taluk office here on Saturday, seeking the arrest of all the attackers. The Sulur police said that they had arrested Balaji and Sakthivel and had them remanded in judicial custody. 

Following the incident, S Lister, an NCSC investigator and a few other senior authorities from NCSC visited Coimbatore district on Sunday. Revenue divisional officer (Coimbatore) S Mathuranthagi also confirmed that the NSCS team will visit Karaiyampalayam village near Sulur on Monday morning. 

In July 2015, the same NCSC team had visited Udumalpet Government Hospital and conducted an inquiry about the brutal assault of a dalit by two non-dalits. Palani, 40, was attacked for entering an agricultural land owned by non-dalits in Chinna Bommansalai village near Udumalpet on July 9.

The Hindu

 Listen to the flames



 Translating, publishing, reading Dalit writers

People love to tell you that you’re wasting your days and quite often your nights. While struggling with lumpy translations and anxious author-translator duos I also have to listen to: “Isn’t the Dalit boom nearly over?” or “Isn’t writing aboutDalit writing as important as the writing itself?” Well it would be a pity if that happened and the writers shuffled away to occupy row two.Lit-crit however smart will find it difficult to match the voltage of “With lava from my belly I will script a new geography” (Bichitranandan Nayak /Odia/ Raj Kumar). Fierce. Powerful. Accusatory. In a market that is never stable, where mush and voyeurism of different kinds are rocketing, and smart is mistaken for great, where non-writers are being promoted so hard that the border between literature and pop-lit is blurring, (“What’s your next book about? I’m currently working on my fourth novel.”) how are we to position English translations of writings by Dalits?

There are wrinkles on this page: why is there such a category in the first place? The notion of purity = superiority = civilisation = social control was a useful little arrangement that dominant groups (the Essenes, the Jews, the Mandarins, the Samurai and similar communities in other parts of the world) all liked. They succeeded in convincing large sections of people that they were inferior and therefore deserved to do all the dirty work to keep their betters comfortable. A part of this plan (and it was well publicised) was to uphold a state of ritual purity which excluded people who couldn’t afford to stay indoors with unsoiled hands; for obvious reasons, it also excluded women. Unfair and generational ill-treatment inflicted psychological damage which can never be quantified. “No difference between a Cherumi, a low-caste, a crow and a buffalo” was a saying in Kerala courtyards that poked fun at human beings who spent the day in the shade of the sun. From Odisha comes more wisdom, “No amount of mud from the Mandakini can turn a pig into a cow.”

When voices long suppressed emerged to challenge the canon of literature created by non-Dalits, it was resisted by nearly everyone who headed a regional-language publishing unit in India. However, “Will you deny this sunrise?” asked Sharan Kumar Limbale (Marathi/ trs Priya Adarkar) announcing, just before the Ambedkar centenary, that marginalised literature did not mean that their content was marginal. If the visibility of writing by people from the invisible sections of Indian society was feeble, it was not for want of creativity. It was because there was a strong impression that literature in order to be ‘Literature’, had to be written, had to be printed but writers and themes that had long occupied centre-stage were slow to make way for Dalit writers because history was against the latter. Most non-Dalits are still not even curious about what it is like to be displaced in one’s own country. Perhaps it is also the reason why there is no nationally networked publishing house run by Dalits and though some 30,000 titles in English are published every year in India, this same publishing industry has almost no Dalits in the editorial sector. Where would they collect the experience they need to set up on their own?

Fortunately not everyone leaned on the locked side of the closed door. Once the newness of the language and life-stories from the regional languages reached English-language publishers either directly or indirectly, the political and emotional impact of experiences hitherto unknown and therefore unavailable began to move into spaces that had never been exposed to them before and when they did, they changed the way established literatures were viewed. Dalits across India connected through English, which Chandra Bahn Prasad recognized as a goddess and for whom he built a temple.

Just as Dalit language and Dalit voices began their long ascent to modify the way they were viewed something happened and took everyone by surprise: this unfamiliar sound in the literary echo-chamber received a tremendous response outside India and set off a huge buzz, confusing and elating everyone. Dalit experience fused with resistance movements and subalternity the world over, and suddenly Indian academics who might not even have spoken to Dalits, much less treated them on equal terms with them began to write knowledgeably about Dalit narratives.

Big things have small beginnings

Twelve years ago Navayana launched itself in a corner of Landmark Bookshop in Chennai on four small volumes. While the monsoon pounded the city and the chief guest was predictably late, the irrepressible founder editor S. Anand, to mark time, kept repeating what the imprint was about. Navayana was a new vehicle. One of those really new books (Touchable Tales) to which Anand wrote a blistering introduction, comprised interviews in which opening batsman andthe imprint’s co-founder Ravikumar hit publishers all over the field saying they were profiteering from Dalit stories of pain in English translation (“The prioritization of Dalit autobiographies by mainstream publishers can induce some Dalit writers to pander to these powerful people… literature of suffering and not of challenge and protest takes writers to literary festivals”). I limped away and avoided Ravikumar for six years. Then, one day, I got even: I persuaded him to be the joint editor of the Oxford Anthology of Tamil Dalit Writing (2012) which has done very well. It carries writers like Annamalai Imayam who have always disliked being labeled ‘Dalit’ (“Do you call Mr/Ms. XYZ a Brahmin writer?” he argues) and other Dalits who — for the same reason — refused to be included.

Publishing (translations) is about exclusion and inclusion. For every translated script that makes it through the gateway at least 50 are set aside. Add to that the fact that most publisher-editors do not know an Indian language well enough to read, first hand, political, or critical discourse in it and you have a situation where crucial information never reaches decision makers directly. Then there is the language itself which is earthy and just a breath away from orature. While discussing selections for the Oxford Anthology of Malayalam Dalit Writing prime editor M Dasan said, “Some things will just disappear on the printed page or look ludicrous in translation.” I tried to persuade Dasan to carry a failed translation in his introduction on orature by printing the transliteration and translation and explaining how impossible it was, to translate. But that idea fell off the page.

A generation ago writing by Dalits was considered unfit to print. Today, many — particularly students — are reading them with a sense of shock and finding out that the world’s biggest informal arrangement of slavery had been, for centuries, not only well and alive in India but also taken for granted as being in the fitness of things.

One of the debates about Dalit writing is whether the prevailing mode of publishing of them is promoting a single story, thereby exciting and inviting pity or whether they also empower and repair. As we know, the problem with the “single story” is not that it is untrue but that it is incomplete. To gain a certain measure of self-hood through the slow process of writing, translating, publishing, being read, discussed, thought about — calls for patience, perseverance and hard work; in short, years of planning. So…though my head is both bloody and bowed, there is a lot more beyond the boom to explore and many writers waiting to be translated.

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET

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