Caste Skew in the Time of Calamity? – The new Indian express
A Dalit awakening in Palakkad – The hindu
Fresh survey of flood-hit villages sought – The hindu
Intolerant hoodlums back with a vengeance – Kashmir times
Civic body chief among 32 booked for fake encounter – the tribune
CM’s village goes for consensus; stakes high in Hooda’s home turf – The tribune
Fight for what’s left: The story of Jiten Marandi, the Jharkhand activist – The Indian express
The new Indian express
Caste Skew in the Time of Calamity?
CHENNAI: While the District Disaster Monitoring Committee (DDMC) had warned and evacuated around 500 families living in Kattupalayam village, about 120 Dalit families living few a miles away had no clue that their houses were going to be washed away in a flash in the recent floods.
Besides, in most areas, while people from upper castes were alerted and moved to safer places, Dalits residing in flood-prone zones were left without much support, alleged a fact finding report prepared by various Dalit organisations across the State. They claimed to have surveyed 122 affected villages in six districts, including Chennai, Cuddalore and Kancheepuram.
The report alleged that around 80 per cent Dalit households did not receive any early warnings or timely evacuation.
Rubbishing the findings, Tiruvallur District Collector K Veera Raghava Rao told Express that they did not receive any such complaint from the public so far. “Early warnings, relief and rescue operations were carried uniformly wherever necessary irrespective of caste or creed,” he said.
Officials at Kanche-epuram said they would be able to comment only after verifying the authenticity of the report. Chennai District Collector E Sundaravalli was unavailable for comment, despite repeated efforts.
The report claimed that the survey was conducted among 63,796 households, including 29,462 Dalit families during the third week of December. According to I Pandian, director of Social Awareness Society for Youths (SASY), around 150 Dalit households from Thirukandalam Tribal Colony were not allowed to enter a relief camp set up in the nearby village where caste Hindus lived.
A Dalit awakening in Palakkad
It was a chance visit by Qatar-based engineering professional C.D. Sajith Kumar to his alma mater, Nair Service Society College of Engineering, Akathethara, near here, four years ago to attend a reunion of his batchmates that initiated a set of changes sweeping the adjacent Dalit colony, Kongappadam.
Though not far away from the hustle and bustle of Palakkad town, Kongappadam, with 230 people from 32 families, had remained extremely backward, especially in the case of education.
“Only three persons from the colony had attended high school in the last 60 years owing to discrimination and neglect. None completed school final. Nothing happened in the colony in the last two decades since I left the college and it remained frozen in a time warp,” recalls Sajith Kumar, who started an educational initiative using the facilities of a single room anganwadi.
The result has been overwhelming.
Sajith’s efforts brought many an educationist, teacher, and subject expert to Kongappadam. In a short span of three years, a dozen colony students passed school final with flying colours and joined higher education. Four are now preparing for medical and engineering entrance. “I am determined that at least one student from the colony should join the engineering course at the institution close to the hamlet. In a way, that would be a major step towards ensuring social justice,” said Sajith in an interaction with The Hindu .
Titled, Ente Kongappadam, the initiative has already won the appreciation of the government and socio-educational initiatives.
“What is remarkable is that the project is not just about running a tuition centre. It is aimed at boosting the morale of not just students, but their parents too. The entire colony has started thinking collectively about awakening. Even the elders are empowered through this programme to acquire their rights,” said tribal social activist Dhanya Raman.
An online educational portal targeting disconnected and disempowered children of all backward regions in Kerala has been initiated by Sajith with the active involvement of socio-cultural organisations.
The government has agreed to cooperate. It would focus mainly on Dalit and tribal areas apart from children of fish workers.
A chance visit by an engineering professional is changing the destiny of Dalit children at Kongappadam.
Fresh survey of flood-hit villages sought
Organisations including Dalit Watch – Tamil Nadu and National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) – on Saturday demanded a fresh survey of flood-affected villages to include Dalits who have not received compensation. The organisations conducted a study of around 30,000 households in Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, Nagapattinam and Cuddalore, Villupuram and 20 slums in Chennai, demanded that families of those who died be given compensation of Rs. 10 lakh each.
Intolerant hoodlums are back in action. After a brief lull since BJP’s humiliating debacle in Bihar elections, which put brakes on the aggressive Hindutva agenda of the saffron brigade, the daggers are out of their holders. Like before, there is no word of admonishment from the top; other than a sheepish assurance that the government stands committed to inclusiveness and that India belongs to everyone. Such ambiguities cannot help to treat a malaise that is deeper and comes with systemic injected doses of hatred and mob mentality – psychological poison for a society. Hatred cannot be tamed without treating it and so the culture of intolerance is back as a sequel to the first round, after a commercial break.
The Benares Hindu University IIT has kicked out Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey, credited for his monumental work on secularism, human rights and peace, following allegations by some Hindu right wing activists that he was ‘anti-national’. Pandey is an engineer, distinguished academic, grassroots activist and peace crusader; yet he has been unceremoniously sacked from his post as a guest faculty in the Indian Institute of Technology BHU. Pandey is accused of being a naxalite because he has been taking up the cause of justice for common people in the areas where naxals are active. He is also accused of screening the banned documentary film on Nirbhaya on the campus, which he never did, but organized a discussion of sexual violence. Pandey was shown the door without even investigating or probing those allegations. He rightly retorted that he was being victimized for being a “humanist” and that he was “neither an anti or pro nationalist”. This is part of the wider Hindutva Project of completely saffronising institutions; those where RSS affiliated persons are now in-charge have begun showing scant tolerance for dissent, often in the name of “nationalism”.
Allegations against Pandey are not the only ones taken as gospel truth. In Hyderabad’s Central University, few Dalit students were asked to vacate their hostel rooms after ABVP lodged complaints against them and for their active campaigning of Yakub Memon’s mercy petition. Earlier, activists of Ambedkar Students Union, on the campus, were expelled for screening documentary film “Muzaffarnagar abhi Baqi Hai”, even though a committee headed by the vice chancellor did not find them guilty of any wrong doing
On Thursday, IIFI students were lathicharged when they were protesting against Gajendra Chauhan, the Film Institute chairman who was appointed at the prestigious post even though he has a mediocre record in acting solely for his political affiliations. The students have been protesting for several months against the appointment but the government has refused to even engage with the protesting students, joined by eminent film personalities including Bollywood stars and a galaxy of intellectuals. Earlier, this fortnight, from across India there have been reports of big or small simmering of protests over two films Bajirao Mastani and Shahrukh Khan’s Dilwale. Some would say, so what? Such fringe elements opposing this and that have always existed in this country.
The champions of Hindutva would dismiss allegations of intolerance and prod why there were no protests or award wapsi after the Bihar elections and thus concluding that the entire intellectual campaign against intolerance some months ago was politically motivated. Such a perverse argument is aimed at delegitimising the right to protest and also to brand, with one sweeping remark, intellectuals as puppets of some political power; and thus belittle and humiliate intellectual thought and intellectual thinkers. Such attempts to oppose any dissent by invoking ‘foreign funding’, ‘international conspiracy’ or anti-nationalism and by asking Muslims refusing to echo the majoritarian voices with the threat of sending them to Pakistan enhance the threats to the process of ideas and expression that stem from thinking. An Orwellian world is being created where thinking is a crime. Can one turn around the Bihar election argument and ask them: whether a humiliating debacle is what silenced the fringe elements into near silence during the last two months or so? After all, the protests and campaigns against intolerance are not happening in vacuum or whipped up frenzy but a natural response to waves of intolerance. When intolerance ebbs and takes a back seat, so would protests.
The systemic stamping of dissent has been built and strengthened on the discourse of denial and demonization of opponents; as also on the plea that such forces of irrationality seeking bans and opposing dissent are fringe elements and have always existed in society since times immemorial. Such logic might be satisfying for those who only want India’s image salvaged, not a deep cleansing of the society. The present trend of intolerance is far different from what has been witnessed before, much of it during Congress regimes, which shamelessly often used the fringe elements trying to crush dissent for political expedience.
The present trend is a systemic attempt to gag intellectual space and push freedom of expression into a dark alley. There is need to understand the striking patterns, the systemic way in which the government is becoming a part and parcel of the mechanism of throttling freedom of expression. The fringe elements are allies of the BJP and are naturally emboldened by BJP being in power. The RSS controls the government and makes sure that such fringe elements are patronized by those in corridors of power and RSS is historically opposed to democracy, secularism and the very idea of thinking. It believes in the politics of control and suppressing populations through both propaganda and arm twisting. With the result, the fringe elements are further emboldened because the government chooses to look the other way while they go on a rampage.
The present government has surpassed the record of previous governments’ ugly attempts to control cultural and intellectual life of the country. Its urge to control intellectual and academic bodies is systemic, organized, communal and brazen. A Hindu majoritarian culture is being imposed through usurping bodies like Indian Council of Historic Research, National book trust, film institute and censor board. As Amartya Sen, a Nobel laureate eased out of Nalanda University, sums up, “Under Modi, government intervention is more extensive, politically organized and connected with Hindutva movement.” The more recent manifestations of intolerance – Sandeep Pandey’s oustre, victimization of Dalit students and the lathicharge on students of Film Institute – are reflections of the systemic way in which intellectual spaces are being saffronised from top to bottom. That has not happened in the past in the way that it is being practiced today.
Why this present wave of intolerance becomes different from previous times is because it has both the open and tacit support of the government of the day. The latter mostly remains in denial and allows its chosen saffronised heads of institutions to further give legitimacy to the discourse of irrationality but punishing the victimized and harassed, without a hearing and without a fair probe. The judge, jury and the advocate are all part of the same group. The dangers of such a situation to democracy, democratic rights and secular polity cannot be underscored. Worse still; this may be just the beginning.
Civic body chief among 32 booked for fake encounter
The city police have registered a case against SAD leader and Machhiwara Nagar Council president Daljit Singh, his aide Peter and nearly 30 unidentified persons for allegedly threatening a key witness in a double murder case, to turn hostile.
The case was registered on the complaint of advocate Pankaj Suri. The complainant said the accused entered his office on January 7 and reportedly threatened Baljit Singh Bunny, a key witness in a double-murder case, of dire consequences if the latter made any statement in the court in connection with a fake encounter case in which two Dalits were killed.
Suri said the accused also threatened Satpal Singh, the father of the two Dalit brothers who were killed in the fake encounter.
Two days ago, Baljit Singh alias Bunny of Takhran village had claimed that he was threatened not to appear in the court. Bunny said he apprehended threat to his life and false implication in the case. He said the opponents made all efforts to stop him from appearing in the court.
“Despite this, I appeared as a witness in the court and revealed the truth,” he said.
He said he and his father were threatened by the Machhiwara council president last evening.
CM’s village goes for consensus; stakes high in Hooda’s home turf
When it comes to the panchayat elections, the native villages of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on the outskirts of Rohtak present a study in contrast.
While Khattar’s native village Nidhana Tigri has gone for a consensus for the election of sarpanch, a high voltage drama is unfolding in Sanghi, Hooda’s native village.
Sanghi village, where the polling is slated for January 10, will witness one of the bitterest and costliest election campaigns in the recent history, where a former advertisement professional Satish Hooda is locked in a tough contest with three-time sarpanch Rishipal, a Hooda loyalist.
A visit to the two villages revealed that the election campaign was more ‘visible’ in Hooda’s village, with a large number of posters dotting the road leading to the village and candidates more aggressively campaigning for the D-Day. However, the campaign had been more sober in Khattar’s village even in the run-up to the election of 16 out 18 wards unanimously.
However, more than a week to go for the second phase of polling on January 17, Khattar’s native village has already unanimously elected Saroj Kataria, a postgraduate Dalit, who is arguably one of the most-educated women candidates in the region.
“The unanimous election of Saroj is all the more creditable, as it is for the first time that the sarpanch has been elected unopposed in the village, where the Jats form about two-third of the total about 5,000 electorates,” said Satpala, a Nidhana resident.
Meanwhile, civic amenities, including power, road and water and education, remain the top priority of the candidates. Development, however, continues to elude the villages even after about 50 years of state’s creation.
“I am contesting the elections for a systemic change, as the existing system has failed to redress people’s grievances. People should vote for me, so that the administrative machinery works for their welfare,” asserts Satish Hooda, contesting for sarpanch’s post from Sanghi.
On the other hand, newly elected sarpanch Saroj Kataria said she would work for bringing the benefits of various welfare schemes of the Central and state government to the various sections of society. “I will try to bridge the gap between the administration and the people,” she added.
The Indian express
Fight for what’s left: The story of Jiten Marandi, the Jharkhand activist
Jiten Marandi fiddles with his black Nokia phone as he strides up Ranchi’s busy Piska More in a sea-green shirt and trousers. It has been two years since he was freed of charges of being the “key accused” in the Chilkari massacre of October 26, 2007, where 19 people, including the son of former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi, were gunned down by Naxals at a public function. His arrest and six-year-long incarceration — set aside first by the Ranchi High Court in 2012 and then the Supreme Court in 2013 — was the inspiration for Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court, a film that spins an absurdist tale about an omnipotent state and how it smacks down on dissent. (It was India’s entry to the Oscars but failed to make it to the longlist.)