Dalits Media Watch -English News Updates 18.12.15


AIIMS guilty of caste discrimination: Panel – The Times Of India


Dalit farmers duped by Ruling Party Realtors – The Times Of India


58 MPs seek impeachment proceedings against Guj HC judge – PTI


SC panel raps Punjab CM for irresponsible remark on dalit’s murder – The Times Of India


Caste rules in marriage, power, well-being: Study – The Times Of India


Slain Dalit youth’s family alleges threat – The Tribune


Jaitley, wake up to the Gujarat Model of Casteism – Tehelka


Transgenders Visit Kerala Assembly, Feel Overwhelmed – The New Indian Express


Eunuchs in India: Through the prisms of society, history, and politics – The Indian Express


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The Times Of India

AIIMS guilty of caste discrimination: Panel


PTI | Dec 14, 2015, 03.59 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has held AIIMS guilty of caste discrimination after it took action against an assistant professor of its College of Nursing in connection with a case of alleged harassment leading to suicide by a student. 

ShashiMawar, along with the principal of the College of Nursing and an unknown nurse, is alleged to have caused mental harassment to a 21-year-old nursing student, leading to her suicide in her hostel room at AIIMS in December last year. 

“On the basis of the discussions and the reply submitted by AIIMS, the commission observed that police is investigating three employees, DrManjuVatsa, the principal; Mawar; and an unknown nurse, but action has been taken against only the Scheduled Caste petitioner. The Commission recommends that in the interest of equity, action should be taken against all the employees whose names figure in the FIR. The AIIMS authority’s decision to take action against only the SC employee reflects caste-based harassment,” said NCSC. 

The commission also noted that Mawar, the petitioner in the case, has been asked to work under a deputy nursing supervisor, who is junior to her. 

“This is discrimination, hence the commission recommends that she be posted in her own department and report to a person appropriately senior to her so that this discrimination may be ended,” it said.

The Times Of India 

Dalit farmers duped by Ruling Party Realtors


MN Samdani,TNN | Dec 18, 2015, 12.32 PM IST

GUNTUR: The controversy surroundinng around the call money scandal had virtually overshadowed a much bigger scandal in the capital city in which the involvement of ruling TDP leaders is being strongly suspected. According to sources, the ruling party leaders believed to have usurped land worth nearly Rs.1000 crore in the riverbank area of the capital city and getting the entire deal regularized through a controversial notification under Land Pooling Scheme (LPS). 

After dilly-dallying for over a year, the government had issued a notification for pooling of land from the islands along the Krishna river in the capital city area. Although, the notification for pooling of these lands should have been given along with the original notification issued in January, the government deliberately put it on the backburner allegedly to facilitate the party leaders to pick up stakes. The influential leaders purchased huge extents of assigned lands and also patta lands in the islands knowing fully well that the land would be taken under LPS. They scared away the dalits who have been cultivating the lands for decades telling them that their lands would be reclaimed without paying any compensation. Coerced by the TDP leaders, the dalits sold their lands at throwaway prices and left the villages. While the TDP leaders believed to have offered around Rs.10-15 lakh per acre, they are going to make a killing by offering the same land to CRDA. 

Under pressure from the ruling party leaders, the government had recently given its green signal to the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) to extend the LPS and offer compensation to all those who submitted pattas or land registration documents. Surprisingly, the CRDA officials did not specify the owners of the land from who it intents to take over the land for the reasons not knowns to anyone. 

As per the records, there are about 13 island villages along the riverbank in which six are attached to Rayapudi, two each to Undavalli, Venkatapalem and one each to Lingayapalem, UR Palem and Mandadam. An extent of 2159.17 acres of land is available in 13 islands in which 514 acre is assigned land, 256 acres is patta land and 59 acres is unused waste land. About 153.06 acres has been identified as ShivaiJamedar land (being cultivated without record). 

Of the total 2150 acres, nearly 1000 acres is under the cultivation of local dalits. Dalits formed three separate societies-BR Ambedkar cooperative joint farming society, Harijan Cooperative joint farming society and Lenin Cooperative joint farming society. However, majority of the dalits lost their land records during successive floods and cyclones making them as easy prey to the influential leaders. 

Officials are refusing to accept their claim over the land to offer compensation under LPS citing absence of the documents. “We are being forced to leave our villages without any compensation despite being owning the land for decades,” rued a dalit farmer K Baburao of Ambedkar society. He said that they have been surviving on the islands facing the floods and cyclones since 1956. Interestingly, the governments in the past have paid the crop compensation to the same farmers during the floods and cyclones. Another farmer Srinivasa Rao of Lenin society revealed that relatives of a film actor-cum TDP MP coerced many of their members and got their signatures on the white papers by offering pittance. While many of the dalits gave into the pressure, only a few are fighting with the officials for justice. Sources said that the ruling party leaders have even got the documents ready to take compensation on government land. “A thorough probe into the ownership of the lands in the islands of riverbank will expose the role of TDP leaders,” demanded YSRCP leader AmbatiRambabu.


58 MPs seek impeachment proceedings against Guj HC judge


New Delhi, Dec 18 (PTI) 58 RajyaSabha MPs today moved a petition before the Chairman seeking impeachment of Gujarat High Court judge J B Pardiwala for his alleged “unconstitutional” remarks against reservation made in the Hardik Patel case.

The MPs alleged that while delivering the judgment on a special criminal application against Hardik Patel, Justice Pardiwala has ruled that two things have “destroyed this country or rather, (have) not allowed this country to progress in the right direction…(i) reservation and (ii) corruption”.

The petition said the judge has also mentioned that “when our Constitution was framed, it was understood that the reservations would remain for a period of ten years, but unfortunately, it has continued even after 65 years of independence”.

The MPs said that the ten-year limit was prescribed for the political reservations ie representation to the SCs and STs in the Union and state legislatures, and not the reservation in the areas of education and employment.

“It is distressing that Justice J B Pardiwala should be unaware of the constitutional provision with respect to the policy for the SCs and the STs,” it said.

The petition by MPs said since the observations of the judge find place in judicial proceedings, “these are unconstitutional in nature and amount to behaviour misconduct towards the Constitution of India that forms the ground for an impeachment”.

The MPs have appealed to RajyaSabha Chairman Hamid Ansari to initiate the proceedings for impeachment against Justice Pardiwala and have attached the necessary documents alongwith.

Sources in the RajyaSabha Chairman’s office confirmed having received the petition and said it is “under consideration”.

The MPs who signed the petition include Anand Sharma, Digvijay Singh, Ashwani Kumar, P L Punia, Rajeev Shukla, Oscar Fernandes, AmbikaSoni, B K Hariprasad (all Congress), D Raja (CPI), K N Balagopal (CPI-M), SharadYadav (JD-U), S C Misra and Narinder Kumar Kashyap (BSP), Tiruchi Siva (DMK) and D P Tripathi (NCP).

A minimum of 50 MPs are required to sign such a petition in RajyaSabha, while in LokSabha the number is 100.

The MPs also attached a copy of the resolution passed unanimously at a meeting attended by MPs, MLAs, former ministers of Gujarat and government of India and leading members of SC/STs and OBCs, held at Ahmadabad on December 12 that sought action, including an impeachment against the said judge for his remarks against reservations.

Members of a Parliamentary panel on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, cutting across party lines, had yesterday assailed the alleged “anti-reservation” remarks of a Gujarat High Court Judge and warned of impeachment proceedings against him.

The members of Parliamentary Standing Committee on SC/ST at a meeting in Parliament House “condemned” the remarks by Justice J P Pardiwala and resolved to stage a protest in front of B R Ambedkar’s statue on December 23.

The meeting was attended among others by Union Ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Thawar Chand Gehlot.

Weeks after the Supreme Court scrapped the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, BJP member Udit Raj had targeted the judge in the LokSabha.

Pardiwala had made the remarks on December 1 while quashing the charge of ‘waging war against government’ against Patel quota stir leader Hardik Patel and retaining the one of sedition.

The Times Of India 

SC panel raps Punjab CM for irresponsible remark on dalit’s murder


Rohan Dua,TNN | Dec 18, 2015, 11.07 AM IST

CHANDIGARH: In a rap for Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) on Thursday criticized him for making “irresponsible” statement which may influence the probe into the brutal murder of a dalit youth in Abohar. The incident has rocked the Parliament this week.

Bhim Singh Tank, a 25-year-old dalit, was hacked to death on Friday allegedly by the workers of ShiromaniAkali Dal leader and henchmen of liquor baron Shiv LalDoda at his farmhouse. The commission also asked the police to arrest the accused within a week or transfer the case to the CBI.

Tank’s family has alleged that the attack was carried out at the behest of Doda and his nephew Amit, who are now on the run.

In an open hearing held in Chandigarh, where it summoned Punjab home secretary Jagpal Sandhu and state police chief Suresh Arora, NCSC chief Raj Kumar Verka said, “None of the members in top position in the Akali Dal, including chief minister or his deputy or his cabinet ministers visited the bereaved families of the Abohar crime. How can the Punjab CM make such an irresponsible public statement and announce a foregone conclusion that the crime was a gang war without the investigation being completed?”

Secretary (home) R K Kaushik and IG (crime) Nageshwar Rao appeared before the commission during the hearing.

In its proceedings, the panel said it has sent a letter to the Punjab and Haryana high court, urging it to take suomotu cognizance of the chilling incident in which the youth’s hands and legs were chopped off.

Despite SAD’s claims that Doda was not holding any official position in the party, the commission held that he was “an influential Akali Dal man who ran a powerful business in Abohar”.

“We have all necessary material in our position, including Doda’s photographs at official functions with both Parkash Singh Badal and SukhbirBadal. At least two different cops used to frequently stay at the same farmhouse. Villagers have told us that the farmhouse, in fact, used to double up as a lock-up room to keep criminals during investigations. We are going to ask the police to verify this with phone and other records,” said Verka.

The commission also took strong objection to the conflicting statements of two Union ministers – Vijay Sampla and Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

While Sampla had termed the murder as an atrocity on dalits, Kaur maintained that the incident was part of a gang war.

“We are confused on their statements. Sampla goes on to distribute Rs 5.62 lakh to the bereaved family and then orders the police to include IPC Section of SC/ST Act in the FIR. But Kaur’s statement in RajyaSabha says it’s gang war. Is it because the key accused an Akali Dal leader?” asked Verka


High drama was witnessed at the hearing after additional director general of police (crime) Iqbal Preet Sahota reached the Delhi office of NCSC instead of the hearing in Chandigarh. He was representing DGP Suresh Arora, who was in Bhuj to attend All India police conference. Later, IG (crime) Nageshwar Rao appeared before the panel.


The commission criticised Punjab police DIG (Ferozepur range) Amar Singh Chahal for ordering registration of rape case against the dalit man to paint him as a criminal and subsequent suspension of SHO Abhinav Chauhan, who refused to do so. Instead, the commission said, Chahal should have suspended SHO Harinder Singh Chameli who did not include the names of alleged SAD leaders Shiv LalDoda and his nephew in the FIR for the murder of the dalit man.

The Times Of India

Caste rules in marriage, power, well-being: Study


TNN | Dec 18, 2015, 09.00 AM IST

BENGALURU: If you thought caste has been suppressed by globalization, you are wrong. An ongoing study by the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) has found that inter-caste marriages remain minimal despite globalization. Despite their exposure to international cultures and practices, people flaunt their caste. 

Among the few who are getting married to people from other castes, Brahmins lead the pack. Nayaks, a scheduled tribe, are also open to marrying outside their caste, the study says. 

The study, led by NIAS professor NarendarPani, is focusing on “Caste in the age of globalization”. It has surveyed 9,504 individuals in Bengaluru. 

“It is true that communication associated with globalization increases exposure to global practices. At the same time, communication simultaneously increases the ability to access the same caste on a global scale. The emergence of marriage websites is an indication of the same, and we are seeing westernized same-caste marriages,” Pani says. Only 1.2% of the families surveyed had members who had married outside caste. Those who did not mention their caste were just 9.6% of those surveyed. Twothirds of those who did not mention caste cited their sub-caste. Less than 1% refused to state their caste; the rest insisted on identifying themselves with language, region or sub-caste. Says Pani: “This means more people are open to identifying themselves with caste. We found 163 castes in our sample. If you glance at private cabs running in … the city, including to IT corridors, you find caste names openly displayed (for example, Gowda and Kuruba).” Caste continues to play a role in power at different levels. It determines people’s distance from poverty, the study notes. 

“While analyzing knowledge as power, we found that caste has control over policymaking. There is upper-caste dominance of non-government policy-influencing institutions like B.PAC, as was the case with the BATF earlier,” Pani notes.

The Tribune 

Slain Dalit youth’s family alleges threat


Abohar attack Victim’s mother speaks to Rahul over phone | Another accused held

 Our CorrespondentAbohar, December 17

The mother of slain Dalit youth Bhim Tank today talked to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi over the phone and said she feared for the life of her family members.

She alleged a number of armed persons had been camping in a commercial complex on the old Fazilka Road, near her residence. Rahul told the families of Bhim and Gurjant Singh, the latter is undergoing treatment in Amritsar, that their safety and security would be ensured, said Sandeep Jakhar, former district Youth Congress president.

Rahul had asked him to visit Sant Nagar and arrange telephonic conversation.

Several NGOs, meanwhile, have decided to gherao the office of Fazilka SSP on December 23 if the police failed to arrest liquor baron and Akali leader Shiv LalDoda, his nephew Amit Doda and other accused by Tuesday evening.

Another accused Swaranjit Singh alias Simran of Waryam Nagar today surrendered in a court here. He was remanded in police custody till December 22. The police produced VivekVij who had allegedly dumped the weapons used in the crime and another accused Amarjit Singh Gakhu in the court. Both were sent to five-day police custody.

Amritsar:AamAadmi Party’s state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur today visited the Abohar attack survivor Gurjant Singh at hospital here.

Talking to the media, Chhotepur demanded the resignation of Deputy Chief Minister and the order of a CBI inquiry into the incident.

He said the party would soon come out with a concrete protest programme against the deteriorating law and order situation in the state. The AAP leadership would approach the National SC Commission to take action.

8 arrested so far, vehicles seized

Inder Mohan Bhatti, SSP, said with arrest of Manpreet Singh of KundalDhaani village, the number of arrests in the farmhouse killing incident had gone up to eight. The police have recovered Tata Xenon and Bolero vehicles which were used by the accused to flee.

No truth in gang war theory: AAP

AamAadmi Party’s state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur alleged: “The barbaric act that took place at a farmhouse owned by SAD leader in Abohar is unimaginable. The Akali leaders have been terming the incident a result of group rivalry, which is untrue. The fact is that the victims posed as a threat to the business of the farm owner, who deals in illegal sale of liquor.”


Jaitley, wake up to the Gujarat Model of Casteism


The recent spat involving KumariSelja and Arun Jaitley in the RajyaSabha reveals that the BJP will defend even rampantcaste discrimination in its showpiece state

Earlier this month, when Congress RajyaSabha MP KumariSelja talked about her experience about a visit to a Krishna temple in Gujarat in 2013 when she was a minister, the Upper House of the parliament broke into chaos. She claimed that she had faced discrimination at a temple in Gujarat after a priest had asked about her caste. Responding to the comment in a bid to protect ‘home turf’ — NarendraModi’s model state of Gujarat — BJP members in the RajyaSabha attackedSelja with BJP  MP and Power Minister PiyushGoyal even terming the comment a case of ‘manufactured discrimination’.

Losing no opportunity at a hit-back at the BJP, the Congress came to Selja’sdefence, asking the BJP to stop ‘insulting’ a Dalit woman (Selja). On the other hand, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is also the leader of the Upper House, went to the extent of procuring Selja’s comments on the visitors book of the temple which he thought she was referring to. He, perhaps, wanted to shatter the ‘notion’ that such discrimination exists in Gujarat at all.

“Nothing like that had happened with the Congress member. Her statement is merely a gimmick,” said Jaitley citing that Selja had complimented the temple. It turned out that Selja had referred to another temple and not the one that he got the remarks from. Once the confusion was settled, he withdrew his initial statements saying that it was a misunderstanding that has now been clarified.

This brief round of heated debate in the RajyaSabha lays bare some important aspects on the caste question. Firstly, why was it so hard for BJP members of the RajyaSabha to accept that such discrimination could have taken place in a temple in Gujarat? Is it a case of mere ignorance of the fact that even today, many temples and religious bodies in the country openly practice caste discrimination? Or is it that politicians have made it their project to sanitise the image of the nationthat should not be ‘tainted’ by criticism of any kind. The recent intolerance debate has also been attacked by many as an attempt to ‘defame’ the image of the country

Perhaps, caste discrimination of the kind that Selja claimed to have faced is so rampant across the country that an upper caste public has taken it to be the norm. And the media does not usually take interest in the norm. Therefore, it is hardly reported until something extreme happens. For instance, in October, a 90-year old Dalit and his family tried to enter a temple in Bilgaon village in Hamirpur, Uttar Pradesh. They were stopped by an upper caste man and when they persisted, he is said to have allegedly attacked the old man with an axe and set him on fire. The horrific incident made it to the news. However, it is not an exception but an extreme of widely practiced caste discrimination that goes unreported and is responsible for such incidents.

For the present government, Gujarat is Modi’s model state of development which they try to shield from all criticism. But, they cannot defend what is out in the open. A visit to Gujarat reveals the rampant casteism that is practiced in various forms in the state, where temples have installed boards stating clearly that they do not allow the entry of ‘lower castes’. Perhaps Jaitley should tour the state he was defending so vehemently in the RajyaSabha.

To point out the obvious, since it needs to be pointed out again and again when it is ignored so, Tehelka contacted people from Gujarat who have faced such discrimination in temples there. “We are barred by the upper castes from entering the two temples in our own village,” says Vaju Bhai Parmar, a 52-year-old Dalit from Navagam village near Ahmedabad. “If we have to worship, the priests ask us to do so from outside the main gate of the temple. They have even drawn a line outside the temple that we cannot cross. It leaves us furious but who can we go to? So we have built our separate temples in our houses.”

Sukha Bhai, 42, from Pipardi village in Rajkot district, also recounts the instances of discrimination he and his community have to face on a daily basis. “Our village has four to five temples and there are around 300 Dalit families in the village. But we are not allowed to enter any of the temple premises,” says Sukha. He says that since such discrimination has always existed, the Dalits of the village don’t even question it. “We are not even allowed to have prasad after pujas. If, at times, we are offered prasad, we have to have the left over after upper castes have had it. Lower castes can come for some big pujas, but we have to sit in the last row.”

Recently, around 12 Dalit girls were thrown out of a Shiva temple in Katariya village in Sundernagar district. Once they were forced out of the temple, upper caste people humiliated them for committing such an ‘offence’. One of those girls, on condition of anonymity, tells Tehelka, “It was horrible. We were humiliated in broad daylight and for what, for merely entering a temple?”

A look at figures and statistics exposes the scale at which caste discrimination is practiced in the state. A few years ago, Navsarjan, an NGO working for Dalits in Gujarat, undertook a comprehensive study on casteism in the state. They surveyed 1,589 villages over four years and collected data from 5,462 respondents. The report came out with some shocking results. In 97 percent of the villages, Dalits were not allowed to touch articles used for religious rituals. The report states that in some cases, Dalits could participate in certain religious practices but had to sit separately. In 90 percent of the villages, Dalits were not allowed entry to temples. In 92 percent of the villages, if and when Dalits were given prasad, it is not handed over to them but rather thrown at them because of the prevalence of ‘untouchability’.

However, politicians try to defend the ‘image’ of Gujarat by evading the reality of caste discrimination. On the entire issue around Selja’s statements, Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment says, “As far as I am concerned, I have visited the temples of Gujarat both as ordinary man and as an MP but nobody had asked about my caste and community in the temples.”

PareshRawal, veteran actor and BJP MP from Ahmedabad East is also defensive about the issue. Rawal tells Tehelka, “In my constituency there are 100 villages with a considerable Dalit population. I don’t think they face this problem and it has never come to my knowledge.” When told that there is photographic proof of boards outside temples that restrict the entry of Dalits, he refused to comment.

Rawal believes that Selja might have got ‘confused’, hinting that the issue could simply be a case of misunderstanding. “I read about KumariSelja’s statements and I asked about the issue with someone, but I think she might have got confused because in Gujarat, when people donate something in a temple, the priest always asks their name and the name of their community but not while entering the temple. These days such cases of caste discrimination aren’t heard of but seen only in TV serials and movies.”

Kiritbhai Solanki, BJP MP  from Ahmadabad West, refused to comment on the matter.

PannaLalPunia, Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and RajyaSabha member fromUttar Pradesh tells Tehelka, “In Gujarat, local papers recently published interviews of some priests in which they admitted that caste segregation exists in Gujarat temples.”

KaushikParmar, a Dalit activist from Gujarat says, “Today, Dalits in Gujarat face grave discrimination and are not allowed entry in temples. However, people like me believe that temple entry movements and protests are not really going to help them. Such things will only keep them subjugated under the Brahminical system.” He believes that the Dalit movement should be more than about temple entry.

Selja’s statements created an uproar in the RajyaSabha because the government is uncomfortable with facing social truths. This is so because social truths need to be addressed and the government lacks the willingness and understanding to address them. Instead, it focuses on the showpiece called ‘development’, a mantra on which it rode to power. Just like the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign, that completely ignores the question of Dalit communities involved in almost all cleaning and sanitation work in the country, the government wants to ignore, refute and defend the question of caste discrimination, especially when it is pointed out in Prime Minister Modi’s home state; Gujarat.

The New Indian Express

Transgenders Visit Kerala Assembly, Feel Overwhelmed


By Express News Service Published: 18th December 2015 03:31 AM Last Updated: 18th December 2015 03:44 AM

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Transgender persons of Kerala State AIDS Control Society (KSACS) TG Suraksha Project (Kollam) watched the Assembly proceedings here on Thursday.They were in the city to take part in a programme initiated to train them as Community Ambassadors.

After watching the House in session, Anudas said, “Visiting the Assembly was a new experience. We watched Chief Minister OommenChandy speak. It was reassuring to know that every nook and corner of the state was being represented and given its due importance as MLAs strongly pitched their cases. From the issues of beedi workers to that of the handloom artisans, they discuss all kinds of issues. It is good that our voices are represented.”

 We are thrilled about the fact that we can walk, dressed as we are, in broad daylight, she said. Though it looks like a trifling little wish, many transgender persons are afraid to do it.

So, among the 361 transgender persons associated with the Kollam project, most were afraid about going public with their identity. Only 15 were bold enough to accept the responsibility of talking to police personnel about transgender persons, she said.

Anudas said that they also wanted to thank the government for bringing out India’s first Transgender Policy. Unfortunately, Social Justice Minister M K Muneer was held up at some meeting. “We regret the fact that we could not meet the minister.  The manager of Suraksha Project (Kollam), Bijoy M V, said, “They often complain that the police behave badly, as most policemen do not understand the concept of third gender.

The transgender persons themselves should step up and adress this challenge. This training programme is an initiative to instil them with the confidence. It is funded by a Chennai-based NGO called Voluntary Health Services.” Bijoy said that many more training programmes were on the anvil.

The Suraksha project in Kollam is supported by an NGO called Loveland Arts Society. Earlier, the NGO with KSACS had organised a flight travel from Thiruvananthapuram to Kochi, not just because Transgender (TG) people needed such an exposure. But,they wanted to spread awareness among everyone.

The Indian Express 

Eunuchs in India: Through the prisms of society, history, and politics


The existence of eunuchs in the society, challenges the system not only to acknowledge multiple sexes, but also to accept the idea, in myth and reality, that sex and gender can be changed within an individual’s lifetime.

Written by Swati Saxena | Updated: December 17, 2015 12:01 pm

Member of Parliament ShashiTharoor, will on Friday, move a bill for scrapping Section 377 which criminalises homosexuality between consenting adults. Earlier, DMK MP Tiruchi Siva had proposed a bill on transgender rights which RajyaSabha had passed. As the bills move through the Houses, conversations about transgender and homosexual rights must take into account the rights of the long-marginalised eunuch community in India. Ostracised by society and ignored by the State – with discrimination in terms of access to education, employment and health care – most eunuchs eke out a living by performing in weddings and birth ceremonies or begging.

Thus, they face regular harassment and abuse by the police under allegations of nuisance, soliciting and sex work.

However, societal attitude towards them is ambivalent. While society accords eunuchs as sexually ambiguous figures, a measure of power and accepts, if not requires, their presence on auspicious occasions, their sexual ambiguity also has an inauspicious potential. Representing a classic threatening ‘other’ vis a vis self, eunuchs inspire both attraction and fear, thereby they are marginalised by the mainstream and driven ‘underground’. Diverse and plural Indian society recognises yet marginalises sexual minorities simultaneously, thereby failing to engage in the specificities of their predicaments. In this way society becomes complicit in maintaining and continuing their state of marginality and accompanying deprivation. It is almost that modernity in terms of rationality and human rights discourses have not touched them at all.

The historical records show their long recognition, if not wholesome acceptance in the society. It is believed that in the ancient and medieval periods of Indian history eunuchs were an existing institution. Eunuchs were employed by the kings to as guards of the queen’s quarters or of the royal kitchens. Many in these courts rose to positions of political importance and were very active in court politics, especially during the reign of Khiljis. The Mughal period further brought the eunuchs into prominence especially during the rule of Shah Jahan and Akbar. Eunuchs could become leaders of military or civil departments. Similar institutions were also in place among the Rajputs. However, it should be noted that these instances were exceptions rather than rule and these accounts present little assistance in explaining the present state of eunuchs in India.

Democracy has meant that eunuchs have begun mobilising politically in the hope that increased political participation leads to transformative politics. ShabnamMausi was the first eunuch to be elected the member of the Madhya Pradesh (MP) legislative Assembly from 1998 to 2003. She said that eunuch upliftment – particularly the issue of AIDS (awareness as well as discrimination) forms her central concern apart from fighting corruption, unemployment and poverty. In 2003, Eunuchs in MP announced establishing their own political party called ‘JeetiJitai Politics’. In 2004 Shweta, another eunuch and chief of the District Kinnar (Transgender) Association in Uttar Pradesh had contested LokSabha elections from Ballia Parliamentary constituency as an independent candidate. In the past, voters of Gorakhpur had elected Asha Devi, a eunuch, as the Mayor. In January 2015, independent candidate MadhuBaiKinnar was elected as the mayor of Raigarh, Chhattisgarh.

However, the real achievement thus, of the eunuch political parties and candidates will not be just the facilitation of economic opportunities but will be in forcing the societal re-examination of gender and sex roles and classifications it operates by. Also while cross cultural research has begun to question the content of gender categories and the mutual exclusivity of masculine and feminine, the view that sex is dichotomous and unchanging over the individual’s lifetime continues to maintain its authoritative position in the societal understanding with little dissent. The existence of eunuchs in the society, challenges the system not only to acknowledge multiple sexes, but also to accept the idea, in myth and reality, that sex and gender can be changed within an individual’s lifetime. Also important is re working of the discourses on ‘normative’ or heterosexuality. Such a re-examination by the society will bring about greater tolerance and acceptance by the mainstream of the diversity.

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET


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