Dalits Media Watch – English News Updates 08.02.16


Hyderabad University hotbed of discrimination against marginalised groups – Catch news


Aditya Sinha: Do we bleed blue, black or another colour? – Mid day


Students labelled ‘anti-national’ for showing solidarity with Rohith Vemula – The hindu


Gujarat: Patan shifts kids, no more separate caste anganwadis – The Indian express


NHRC asks Keonjhar DM, SP to submit ATR over ‘forcible’ conversion – News 7


Politics Of Caste In India: Challenges And Opportunities – Analysis – Eurasia review


Catch news

Hyderabad University hotbed of discrimination against marginalised groups


Hyderabad University, the centre of Dalit protests against discrimination after the suicide of Dalit Scholar Rohith Vemula on 17 January, had seen three Dalit suicides before, reports The Indian Express. Investigations into the suicides had all revealed much discrimination on campus against marginalised communities.

As the HRD ministry argues for a judicial commission to investigate the suicide of Vemula, a Ph.D. scholar who had been suspended, along with four other Dalit students, for clashing with members of the right wing student party ABVP, enquiries made by committees three times over the past six years, into the suicides of Dalit students on campus, show that Dalits in Hyderabad University have a “sense of alienation”, and face “institutional discrimination” due to “caste considerations”.

Dalit students Senthil Kumar, P Raju and Madari Venkatesh committed suicide in 2008 and 2013. The 2008 Prof V Pavarala committee report on Senthil Kumar’s suicide by poison said: “He was also apparently under some tension about the supervisor with whom he would have to eventually work for his PhD. Students reported that in the last week or so, leading up to his death, Senthil was considerably uneasy and found it difficult to sleep.” The report added that students from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were the most affected by “ambiguous procedures” in the university.

The V Krishna Committee investigating the 2013 suicide of P Raju by hanging said: “Some students. spoke of a sense of alienation – distinctly accentuated in the case of Dalit students – in coping with the demands of the regular MA programme. This was also corroborated by some teachers, although the explanation offered for variation in performance was that in the MA segment, the academic competition was more intense.

It added: “The Committee did not find any evidence of a grievance redressal mechanism in place in The Centre for Applied Linguistics and Translation Studies (CALTS). Informal consultation with departments/ schools/ centres also revealed the absence of such a mechanism.”

According to the Justice K Ramaswamy committee report on the suicide of Madari Venkatesh by poison, “No Doctoral Committee was constituted to supervise his research which is mandatory. Whatever research he had done, it was only by his self effort. He was discriminated on the ground of caste consideration.”

The report added: “The antagonism, antipathy and insensitive mindset of the faculty, in particular of the School of Chemistry. towards the student belonging to marginalized social groups is clearly apparent.

Mid day

Aditya Sinha: Do we bleed blue, black or another colour?


When I was a boy, maybe five-six years old, I stumbled in the school playground, fell and scraped my fingers. There was blood. A best friend was astonished: “You don’t bleed black?” he asked. I’ve always dismissed this as an innocent child’s question, for in 1960s England, I was the odd boy out in our Grimsby school in the Midlands, where my father treated pulmonary diseases in coal-mining families. But it got stranger when, as a seven-year-old, I returned to north Bihar. We lived with my maternal grandparents near the railway line approaching Muzaffarpur junction, and I was warned not to mix with the boys who played along the tracks. Still, I received a severe scolding and was made to bathe after a cousin once alleged: “He touched a Dom.” The Dom is a Dalit, a scavenger, who removes carcasses. For the privileged, the Dom was also a joke: the exclusive Don Bosco School in Patna was called “Dom ka Boss” school. –

Life in Bihar also cured me of clour-blindness. Aunts casually tossed around judgments that so-and-so “ka rang saaf hai” or was a “kariya”. A nonsense rhyme went “kaali kalutthi, baigan lutthi” about a girl black as an eggplant. My father once needled my mother that if not for him she would have married a “kaala” engineer. When I was ten, we migrated to Flushing, New York, where we lived in a low-cost, high-rise apartment. The Carlyle Towers had a high African-American population, and we understood we had to avoid them, not just because of their skin colour but also their violence. Black kids were forever beating up immigrants, me included. When I entered Std VII, our social studies teacher mentioned a politician who wanted to ship all Blacks “back to Africa”. The politician is a racist, he said. Hmm, I thought. So are my parents. I then noticed Black girls in my classroom, and despite their funny hair, they were notable to a boy hitting puberty. White kids did not mix with them; they too kept to themselves. This segregation was especially noticeable at Stuyvesant High School, an exclusive science and math school that has apparently produced the highest number of Nobel laureates. All may have passed the test, but were not equally accepted. I now believe that meritocracy is a sham; a subtle, complex and twisted sham. My parents’ most terrifying fear was that as an adult I might marry a Black girl. Such a scandal had already hit the Bihari immigrant community, imposing on the concerned parents another exile in exile. Ironically, almost none of the patients at my father’s north Bronx clinic were white. Bihari-Americans wanted their children, particularly their daughters, to marry Biharis, preferably imported from the source. I don’t think a single arranged marriage survived. Bihari-Americans weren’t just racist. The Bihar Association of North America (BANA) organised fun gatherings, particularly on Holi and Diwali. Even my father was a one-term BANA president. But once there was a disputed election and a sub-group threatened to walk out: “It’s not BANA, it’s KANA,” they alleged, implying it had become a Kayastha Association. Laughable, but true. When President Barack Obama was elected, America seemed to have lived up to its self-image of ‘Exceptionalism’, as the biblical ‘City on the Hill’. Yet, the fierce hostility that Obama faced during his eight years proves that around half his country still has a deep racial prejudice. India once elected a woman prime minister but that was an accident of circumstance, not the outcome of Hindu tolerance. If a Dalit was president of India, it was only tokenism. It is thus absurd to hear the government repeatedly deny that racism played a part in the mob attack in Bangalore this week in which a Tanzanian student was assaulted. “Indians are not racist,” an RSS ideologue categorically stated on TV, much in the same way BJP ministers have parroted that “Rohith Vemula was not a Dalit”, simply because he was adopted by an OBC family. If Indians aren’t racist, how do you explain the popularity of Priyanka Gandhi? Bangaloreans — upset that a local mob (to be fair, mob violence after road accidents are not uncommon) has sullied their city’s name — have resorted to whataboutery, citing irrelevant ‘facts’ like the ‘criminal’ behaviour of ‘African’ students, or the group identity of the mob. It sucks when your city or community is unfairly under attack — but that goes for both Bangaloreans as well as Blacks. The truth lies closer not to the jalebi-explanations of the privileged, but the raw feelings of the marginalised. We have two doggies at home, a pure-bred Golden Retriever and a mongrel rescued from the streets of central Mumbai. One is white as snow; the other muddy-brown with a large black patch. Guess which one our neighbours, relatives and friends gush over.

The hindu

Students labelled ‘anti-national’ for showing solidarity with Rohith Vemula


In a university, some two hundred kilometers from the Capital, students were termed anti-national when they held a silent candle march after the death of dalit student Rohith Vemula.

This does not stop here, according to the students, they were even made to give a written agreement that they will never repeat “such activities”.

The matter was reported from Haryana Central University, Mahendergarh, where students were allegedly threatened and were labelled as “anti-nationals” when they tried to show solidarity with Vemula and took out a silent candle march in the campus on January 18.

According to students from the university, when they tried to take out a candle light vigil, some members of the right wing groups in the campus disrupted the march, tore posters and also later threatened them against carrying out any such activity in the future.

“To our shock, the university administration also supported the miscreants and made us give in writing that we will not do anything that can irk others in the future,” said Irshad, one of the students who was part of the protest.

“The students who threatened us also lodged a police complaint against us at Mahendergarh police station saying that we are carrying out ant-national activities in the campus and also published public notices about the same in two hindi newspapers,” he added.

Another student, Sarfaraz, said: “The members of the BJP affiliated ABVP are very active here and they disrupt any liberal voice trying to make its presence felt. We are also helpless in this scenarios, as they have connections with the local goons and they threaten us.”

The university administration however claimed that they did not make anyone write any letter. Sanjiv Kumar, Dean Student’s Welfare told The Hindu : “There were some differences between two groups of students. When we were informed about it, we made them sit and talk to each other to sort out their differences.”

Students from various varsities across the country have been protesting on the streets for the last many days demanding justice for Vemula and his family.

Many such protests have been held in the national capital as well where students have been manhandled as well when they tried to march towards the HRD Ministry office or the RSS office.

The Indian express

Gujarat: Patan shifts kids, no more separate caste anganwadis


Three months after The Indian Express reported about a separate anganwadi for Dalit children in Gujarat’s Patan district, the state government has taken corrective steps. Nine children from anganwadi No. 159, which had only Dalit children, have been shifted to No. 160, while 19 children from the Thakore, Patel and Rawal communities in No. 160 have now gone to No. 159.

The anganwadis house children between the ages of six months and six years. Three years after the anganwadi No. 159 had been set up in Hajipur village, the Patidars and Brahmins had demanded a separate anganwadi and moved into the premises of the adjoining primary school, giving rise to the anganwadi No. 160.

“Things are good now, we are happy. We do not have any complaint against anyone,” said the mother of a four-year-old Dalit child, who is among the children shifted from anganwadi No. 159 to No. 160. The grandmother of a three-year-old Dalit child, who has also been moved, nodded in agreement. Following the November 5 report, government officials who inspected anganwadi No. 159 had noted in their observations that it was built under the state government’s Khaas Angbhoot Yojana — a Special Component Plan, now known as the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan — which was introduced for the welfare and development of Scheduled Castes. This, they said, explained why only Dalit children were admitted to this centre The children were exchanged between anganwadis “on the request of villagers”, they had added. But according to a top official of the Social Justice and Empowerment department — responsible for the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan — the Khaas Angbhoot Yojana did not mandate construction of anganwadi centres. Later, it was found that anganwadi No. 159 was built under the Gokul Gram Yojana, and not the Khaas Angbhoot Yojana. Following The Indian Express report, the National Human Rights Commission had sent a notice to the Gujarat government, taking suo motu cognisance of the report. It had said the report “raises a serious issue of violation of human rights of Dalits” and sought a reply within two weeks. When contacted, NHRC joint registrar Anil Kumar Parashar said, “So far, there has been no response to the notice issued to the Gujarat government.” When contacted, Additional Chief Secretary, Social Justice and Empowerment, M S Dagur, said, “Since this scheme (Khaas Angbhoot Yojana) involves individual-oriented benefits such as roads and bridges, irrigation, drinking water and health services, we cannot build schools or anganwadi centres under this scheme, since it would mean isolating them (the beneficiaries) from other castes.” Asked if any school or anganwadi centre had been built in Gujarat under this scheme, Dagur said, “Not to my knowledge and under my term.” However, Integrated Child Development Services Director Ranjeeth Kumar J, who was one of the inspecting officers who visited anganwadi No. 159 after The Indian Express report, said, “The anganwadi has been built under the Khaas Angbhoot Yojana, so villagers and workers were under the impression that it was only for Scheduled Caste children. That’s why there were only Scheduled Caste children in No. 159. There is nothing wrong in building an anganwadi under this scheme.” It was after Ranjeeth’s visit on November 10 that children were shuffled between the two anganwadis. District Child Protection Officer Patan K H Vaniya, an inspecting officer who visited the anganwadis in December, also said the reason for only Dalit children at anganwadi No. 159 was because anganwadi workers thought it was from the Khaas Angbhoot Yojana. Documents accessed from the Patan’s taluka panchayat office on January 28, 2016 in turn, state that “the building of anganwadi No. 159 in Hajipur, taluka Patan, in 2000-2001 was constructed out of Gokul Gram Yojana. For this, a grant of Rs 87,056 was received against which expenditure of Rs 86,978 has been done”.

News 7

NHRC asks Keonjhar DM, SP to submit ATR over ‘forcible’ conversion


Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Keojhar district Collector and the SP to submit action-taken report (ATR) before it regarding the administration’s alleged failure to protect basic human rights of 24 Dalit children who were forcibly converted into Christianity.

The NHRC issued this direction accepting a petition filed by Supreme Court Lawyer and rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy in this regard. Tripathy urged the apex human rights watchdog seeking its intervention to expose the truth.

In October 2015, at least 24 Dalit children in the age group of 6-12 were forcibly converted by a couple, who run a church in a hut, at the railway siding in Keonjhar.

Though the locals had brought this to the notice of police against the couple, Sadhu Balmuchu (38) and Mary (34) of Banitangar village under the Daitari police station, yet they were yet to be arrested.

Tripathy prayed to the NHRC to direct the State Government to take legal action against the wrongdoers, pay compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the victims along with free and proper medical care and other basic needs.

Eurasia review

Politics Of Caste In India: Challenges And Opportunities – Analysis


Teachers have resumed teaching at Hyderabad Central University (HCU). However, a handful of students continue to sit in at the make-shift space created by Rohith Chakravarthy Vemula and his four expelled colleagues. Rohith Vemula was not the first victim of systematic exclusion, humiliation and expulsion that the students of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Notified/de-Notified Tribes and ethnic, religious and sexual minorities face in educational institutions – from the day they first enter a school till the day they complete even their highest levels of education. This phenomenon is also wide-spread in professional institutions of excellence such as the Indian Institutes of Management, the Indian Institutes of Technology, and medical colleges. It is prevalent in colleges and universities that dot the country. The HCU was no exception to this deep-rooted systematic exclusion that forced Vemula into unbearable haplessness, living in humiliation, and finally, pushed him to end his life.

Though not adequately represented, there are over 50 Dalit/Adivasi teachers at the HCU; but none stood up against the ordeal Vemula and his four peers suffered, compelling the latter to put up their struggle at Velivada by themselves. Although not in a correct proportion, there are enough numbers of non-teaching SC/ST employees too at the HCU, but the plight of these students did not move them. Other teachers and students are in thousands, but their conscience and higher callings did not evoke any response on the indignities heaped upon Vemula and his peers who stood up for freedom of ‘food, faith and ideas.’

These five students, active members of the Ambedkar Student Association, have not been the ‘stereotypical’ Dalit students. They were doing better than many non-Dalit students. They opposed draconian capital punishment, broke religious barriers among Hindus, Muslims and Christians, and forged an identity around Dr. Ambedkar – actions anathema for several Caste Hindus.

This nation-wide uproar that we witness is not because Rohith was the first victim of institutional exclusion, humiliations and apathy but because it has never been so straightforward between Ambedkarites believing in ‘Prabuddha Bharat’ or ‘Enlightened India’ and those believing in ‘Hindu Rashtra’. Therefore, Vemula’s tragic death is symptomatic, and poses challenges. India needs to confront these challenges and convert them to bigger opportunities.

What are the challenges? India faces the challenge of coming to the terms with the reality of caste. For long, most elites in all religions, Muslims and Christians included, have neglected/rejected caste and its associated behaviours such as endogamy, hierarchical exclusion, indignities, untouchability, and rampant discrimination. Dr. BR Ambedkar said, “caste has killed conscience.” Caste is violent institution.

Data compiled by the NACDAOR reveals that since 1991, over a staggering 6.74 lakh atrocities have been committed against people belonging to Scheduled Castes, with less than 3 per cent conviction rate. Can an aspiring world power like India neglect and overlook such a sorry state of impunity? This poses serious challenges not only to the right to live with dignity, but is also a potent threat to the growth story that India is writing.

Modern India cannot be built while its archaic values, especially such as the monster of caste, continue to haunt its people. Therefore, everyone must come forward to ‘annihilate caste’ in public and private life. And this problem cannot be effectively combatted unless the idea of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ based on a Frankensteinian superiority complex and dominance of few Caste Hindus over the rest is fought by all the well-meaning people of this country.

Moreover, caste is not the only challenge. Most public institutions be it academic, administrative, law and order, judicial and even media, have their roots in colonial interests. Several were built to suppress ingenious talent, constrict creativity and limit competition, in order to perpetually keep the masses in a wretched state and maintain a ‘loot system’. India cannot be that ‘Chinese Tailor’ – that Dr. Ambedkar had compared colonial Britain with, in 1931 – who stitched a new coat with all patches and holes, like the worn out old coat given to him for measurement. As an independent country with limited resources and that is home to 17 per cent of the total world population, India needs to build institutions that promote, encourage and nurture talent, amplify creativity, and make its large population capable of surviving competition with values of social, economic and political justice, equal dignity, and righteous sharing.

Academia, administration, law and order systems, judiciary and executive, all need to be sensitive and respond quickly in discharging justice in order to prevent prolonging the suffering that a significant number of the country’s citizens currently experience. India requires to keep its exclusionary system in perspective, and create institutional mechanisms that are inclusive in concept, design, and practice.

In 2016, when the nation will celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of Dr. BR Ambedkar, the principal architect of the Indian constitution, we must stop harping on the archaic ‘Dronacharyan’ values that punish and exclude people on the basis of their birth, origin, sexual and ideological orientations. Speeding up the inclusion of excluded Dalits, Adivasis and other minorities is the key to building a humane, dignified and developed India.

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET


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