Dalits Media Watch – English News Updates 13.02.16

‘Justice for Rohith’ bus yatra kicks off –The Hindu


Four Karimnagar Lawyers Suspended for Insulting Ex-HC Judge – The Indian Express


PhD scholar’s death: Students protest, demand removal of VC – The Hindustan Times


SC corporation to provide guarantee for bank loans – The Hindu


Transgender activist from Bengaluru to share community’s woes at global event – The Times Of India


Rajasthan police protect Dalit groom’s pre-marriage ritual – The Hindustan Times


Do not disagree: JNU arrests over Afzal Guru event are ill-judged, threatens basic rights – The Executive


How campuses can arrest caste discrimination – Q Daily


Please Watch:

The Indian Dalit


Note: Please find attachment for DMW Hindi (PDF)


The Hindu

‘Justice for Rohith’ bus yatra kicks off



A bus plastered with pictures of Rohith Vemula and posters seeking support for ‘Chalo Delhi’ mass gathering took off from University of Hyderabad (UoH) here on Thursday. The bus, which has 10 members of UoH’s Joint Action Committee for Social Justice and 11 others from affiliated organisations, is expected to tour all 10 districts of Telangana till February 17.

On Friday, another bus with over 20 activists, including student leaders, will be flagged off at UoH to tour 13 districts in Andhra Pradesh. About 130 students of the university also marched to the High Court here on Thursday to pledge solidarity with four research scholars who are still fighting a legal battle against their expulsion from the hostels.

During the course of the six-day bus trip, student leaders of UoH will interact with their counterparts in most campuses in the two States and also the general public. The tour is meant to be a symbolic protest and mobilisation move ahead of ‘Chalo Delhi’ called by the JAC, a statement read. According to the JAC’s plan, students from across campuses in the country will converge in New Delhi on February 23 to express their solidarity with the Justice for Rohith Vemula movement.

Prof. Kancha Ilaiah, former faculty member of Osmania University and UoH, flagged off the bus at 11 a.m. on Thursday. Speaking to the media at UoH, Prof. Iliah said the movement for justice will gain strength in the coming months till justice is served for Rohith. “No organisation, party or government will be able to stop the rage rising from campuses. Every student or citizen who joins the Delhi protest will speak against discrimination which they have faced ever since their birth,” Mr. Ilaiah said.

Student leaders who assembled on the campus around 10 a.m. on Thursday said that the JAC wants general public to come out of their homes and resist caste discrimination and other forms of discrimination on campuses. UoH students made their first stop at Vikarabad, about 70 kilometres from here. The bus also toured Parigi and Mahbubnagar on the same day. The second bus will leave UoH campus at 8 a.m. on Friday.

The Indian Express

Four Karimnagar Lawyers Suspended for Insulting Ex-HC Judge



Published: 13th February 2016 03:26 AM Last Updated: 13th February 2016 03:26 AM

KARIMNAGAR: The Karimnagar Bar Association today decided to suspend four member-advocates for one year for allegedly raising slogans against retired High Court Chief Justice L Narasimha Reddy during a seminar here.

The conduct by the advocates was “unfortunate” and it tantamount to “insulting” not only Reddy, who retired as Chief Justice of Patna High Court, but also the judicial system, Association President Korivi Venugopal said here.

He said the Association unanimously took a decision to suspend its members Budida Mallesh, Kattekola Laxman, Janagama Narsing and Nishani Ramachandram, who allegedly made objectionable comments about Reddy during the seminar at the District Court premises here yesterday.

Reddy, who was delivering a lecture on B R Ambedkar, cut short his speech and left the venue midway after a group of lawyers raised slogans against him.

The lawyers were objecting to his presence at the event in light of a 2014 verdict delivered by a Division Bench of Andhra Pradesh HC headed by him in a case related to killing of Dalits.

They said Reddy had no right to speak on Ambedkar as he had acquitted accused in the Chundur Dalits murder case.

“The incident was unfortunate and we will see such things don’t recur in future,” Venugopal said, adding the Association will take all necessary steps to initiate disciplinary proceedings against them.

The advocates questioned a judgement given by Reddy and this amounts to contempt of court, he said, terming their conduct as “objectionable and unethical”.

As many as eight Dalits were murdered at Chundur village in Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh in August 1991. A Special Court, in August 2007, acquitted 123 out of the 179 accused named in the case. It sentenced 21 accused to life imprisonment and awarded one-year rigorous jail term to the 35 others.

Later, the convicts appealed the HC, following which a Bench, headed by Reddy and comprising Justice M S K Jaiswal, acquitted all of them.

The Hindustan Times

PhD scholar’s death: Students protest, demand removal of VC


HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Ajmer/Udaipur

Updated: Feb 09, 2016 15:26 IST

Hundreds of students belonging to the National Students Union of India (NSUI) staged a protest against the administration of Central University of Rajasthan (CURAJ) on Monday and submitted a memorandum to the district collector demanding removal of its vice chancellor (VC) and the research guide for abetting suicide of a PhD scholar.

“We warn the government to act within five days or get ready to face the students’ wrath. We have learnt from our sources in the university that the administration is trying to hush up the case,” said Diyavendra Singh Jadon, NSUI president, Ajmer.

Mohit Kumar Chauhan, a PhD scholar of the university, hanged himself in his hostel room on Friday allegedly after being harassed by assistant professor Viddyutama Jain under whom he was doing his course. An FIR was registered on Saturday against Jain, head of mathematics department DC Sharma and dean (research) Aditya K Gupta after Mohit’s father submitted a complaint against the three accused.

The demonstrators held a candlelight march on Monday and submitted a four-point demand before vice chancellor RK Pujari. “We have asked the vice chancellor to suspend Jain and Sharma from departmental works till inquiry is over. A compensation of Rs 10 lakh to Mohit’s family, a permanent job to Mohit’s brother and establishment of a grievance redressal cell for students in the university are the other demands. The VC has sought a week’s time to meet the demands,” said Sandeep Kumar, a PhD scholar in Cultural and Media Science.

NSUI activists in Udaipur called slogans against the government outside the district collectorate on Monday and burnt an effigy of education minister Smriti Irani.

NSUI vice president Deepak Mewara accused the CURAJ vice chancellor and Irani for the suicide of the scholar and demanded Prime minister Narendra Modi to look into the matter and remove inefficient ministers allegedly held responsible for the death.

The Hindu

SC corporation to provide guarantee for bank loans



In a bid to ensure hassle-free availability of loans, the AP Scheduled Castes Cooperative Finance Corporation has decided to provide guarantee and backend subsidy for bank loans taken by SC beneficiaries and also seek third-party verification on utilisation of loans.

This was decided at a meeting of the Committee of Persons of the Corporation held here on Friday. Later, talking to reporters, corporation chairman Jupudi Prabhakara Rao said that the AP Skill Development Corporation and the AP SC Cooperative Finance Corporation would sponsor about 100 unemployed engineering students for a six-month training programme at HCL. All the 100 youths would be absorbed by various companies. The State government would be spending Rs.1.5 lakh on the training of each candidate.

Similarly, another batch of about 10,000 unemployed youths who studied up to Class X or completed courses in polytechnics, IIT would also be imparted training in various skills and provided jobs.

The Times Of India

Transgender activist from Bengaluru to share community’s woes at global event


TNN | Feb 13, 2016, 11.48 AM IST

Bengaluru: Akkai Padmashali is going places. The 32-year-old transgender, who’s made the transition from beggar to sex worker to activist, will now represent the community at a global event.

The US Consulate General has invited Akkai to take part in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), a prestigious event organized by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, US department of state. Akkai, who couldn’t finish class 10 after failing in Math, will speak on “raising awareness of gender-based violence across Karnataka” in Washington DC. Other than Akkai, five others from India will take part in the summit scheduled from February 20 to March 12.

Akkai, who begged on Bengaluru’s streets as a teenager, is elated at having received the opportunity. “It’s a platform for me to share the problems of the transgender community in India,” said Akkai, adding that it will also give her a peek into US laws and judicial processes regarding sexually minorities. “During childhood, my family members harassed me due to my gender. I even attempted suicide. But today I am happy as I have got a chance to voice the tribulations of the community,” said Akkai.

Many individuals who boast of significant achievements in various fields will participate in IVLP, which aims at increasing understanding between US citizens and other nationals through observation and interaction.

The Hindustan Times

Rajasthan police protect Dalit groom’s pre-marriage ritual


HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Ajmer

Updated: Feb 04, 2016 11:15 ISTRajasthan police on Wednesday escorted the ‘bindori’ (pre-marriage procession) of a 22-year-old Dalit bridegroom who apprehended an attack from upper caste men for riding a horseback in Kotadi village, about 120 km from the district headquarters in Ajmer.

There have been several such cases in the state where cops escorted Dalit grooms to avoid any backlash of the upper castes.

According to police, Chandra Prakash, who belongs to the Bairwa community that is categorised as a scheduled caste, was to take out the procession on Wednesday, a day before his marriage.

“We received a complaint from the bridegroom’s father that the upper caste Jat community might obstruct the bindori. To avoid any untoward incident, we deployed a police party (for the function),” said Rameshwar Gurjar, tehsildar of Gulabpura area, under which the village falls.

No formal complaint was registered against any of the upper caste members, he added.

According to the local Dalit community members, it is the first time that a Dalit groom has ridden a horseback in the village.

“It became possible only because of the presence of police and intervention by the tesildar,” said Ramswaroop Bairwa, the groom’s father.

The groom told HT that it was very painful to see that untouchability existed in the country even after 68 years of Independence.

“Dalits are considered as the people who have no rights even over small pleasures of life,” he said.

The Executive

Do not disagree: JNU arrests over Afzal Guru event are ill-judged, threatens basic rights


That’s the message of the JNU arrest, sent by the government to the young. It is ill-judged, threatens their basic rights

By: Express News ServiceUpdated: Feb 13, 2016, 10:02

Police action at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi on Friday, including the arrest of the JNU students’ union president on charges of sedition, over a protest, was completely uncalled for. The protest in question was part of an event held on campus to commemorate the hanging of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat, convicted of terrorism. The arrest followed Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s stern announcement that “anyone who raises anti-India slogans or tries to put a question mark on nation’s unity and integrity will not be spared”. HRD Minister Smriti Iranichimed in with the warning that “the nation can never tolerate any insult to Mother India”. The Union ministers’ response has been strikingly disproportionate to the alleged offence caused by the shrill tone of the protest of a small section of the students within university premises. This was a matter for the vice chancellor, if not the students themselves, to settle. It ill behoves the Union ministers of home and HRD, who surely have more important issues and controversies to attend to, to have plunged into it.

The protesting students questioned the legitimacy of the Indian state over Kashmir. But the Indian state has endured far more powerful storms. Individuals have a right to protest as long as they do not threaten or resort to violence — in this case, many student groups in JNU, while criticising police highhandedness, have dissociated with the strident slogans raised at the protest. The university must provide a safe house for free thinking and debate, and a nurturing environment for the exercise of the democratic right to dissent. Attempts to criminalise the freedom of expression on campus, or to subdue it by labelling it “anti-national”, cast much more unflattering light on the working of the Indian state than on a motley group of students who got carried away.

That a protest in JNU has touched off such agitation in the corridors of power reveals, at the very least, a lack of understanding, or a misunderstanding, of the role of the university. Recent incidents like Rohith Vemula’s suicide at the University of Hyderabad, the controversy over the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle at IIT Madras, the furore over a film screening at IIT Delhi, and the unrest at FTTI, Pune, have all featured a heavy-handed and fumbling state. Things will only worsen if ministers, who must step in to advise administrators about the need for dialogue and negotiation, themselves foreclose the possibilities of a conversation. Given its big talk of the demographic dividend, the Modi government can ill afford the message sent out by the police action against students protesting Rohith’s death earlier, and in JNU now — that it feels threatened by young men and women democratically disagreeing with it.

(This editorial originally appeared in the print edition under the headline ‘Do not disagree’)

Q Daily

How campuses can arrest caste discrimination


To move away from this discourse of ‘upliftment’ to one of rights and entitlements, it is imperative that we act in unison.


 |   Long-form |   13-02-2016


(Sharing here my notes on what are the issues involved in setting up an institutional response to the issue of caste discrimination in JNU. Very JNU-specific I know, but putting it up any way, in the hope that this will initiate a genuine discussion.

Talk at the panel discussion on “Discrimination in Higher Educational Institutes: Setting up an institutional mechanism- the way ahead” organised by JNUSU-SSS&SIS on 9 February 2015.)

In order to have a meaningful discussion about caste-based discrimination in university spaces and the institutional response that it should elicit, it is necessary to list out some starting assumptions:

  1. Caste-based discrimination exists. Those who believe it doesn’t do not know or understand, or are willfully ignoring, their own privilege. Accepting and stating that it exists doesn’t make the speaker casteist, any more than accepting that gender discrimination and sexual harassment exist makes the speaker a sexual harasser.

  1. The educational system that we are in always (has the potential to) reproduce caste (old and “new”) and caste-based discrimination and it does so not BECAUSE of reservations but IN SPITE OF them. Just as gender discrimination existed even when women didn’t have the rights to higher education or work, not having reservations does NOT the solution.

  1. Everyone enters the university by merit. Some people get in with the aid of centuries of caste privilege, others get in on the strength of nothing but their intellectual commitments and hard work, and the sacrifices of their families and communities.

It seems to me that the institutional response has to be on three levels:

* Ensuring equity of access to the institution and its various programmes

* Ensuring an enriching and meaningful intellectual university life for students who have gotten into university on their own without caste privilege.

* Ensuring a working and living atmosphere that is free of caste discrimination.

  1. Ensuring equity of access to the institution and its various programmes

While the current system assumes that reservation is all that you need to ensure equity of access to all SC/ST students, the recent years in JNU have indicated that much more needs to be done wherever subjective components like viva voce etc are involved. The JNUSU alerted the university community to the fact that there is/may be a statistically significant underperformance of SC/ST candidates in the viva voce examination. Such a palpable trend across the University suggests that there can be no one single cause underlying this underperformance, and that our response to it must be multi-pronged.

In a proposal that Madhu Sahni and I made in 2012 to the VC with the help of statistician, we suggested a number of measures beyond mere reduction of marks of the viva voce (as was suggested by the JNUSU), as that may serve only to shrink the scale of evaluation. These included moving to an evaluation system that weighted the written part of the examination system for ALL students, developing a clear metric on which performance in the viva voce would be evaluated which in turn meant that we would have to define a viva voce format, a regular information and evaluation of admission procedures and results by the Equal Opportunities Office. What is important in the current context is not the details of our proposals, but rather that we need to think out of the box in order to promote equity of access in the university to diverse populations and not only SC/ST students. While the university cannot ameliorate all the inequities of the social system in general, it MUST try and eliminate them in its own procedures.

  1. Ensuring an enriching and meaningful intellectual university life for students

In the aftermath of Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder, the academic difficulties faced by Dalit students across the country have come into sharp focus. Amongst these are many general issues: withdrawal/stoppage of fellowship, delay in allotment of supervisor and release of fellowships, hostel difficulties, but all of which have especially disastrous consequences for SC/ST students. Obviously, these malpractices have to be eliminated for the benefit of all students, but sensitivity to the special circumstances of Dalit students in all these is absolutely necessary, because most of these students shoulder more than just the economic burden of themselves alone.

One oft-mentioned problem in the various articles that have appeared is Dalit students’ own comments about how many feel academically ill-equipped in the central universities. JNU has several schemes for this, such as the linguistic empowerment cell for teaching English, and the personalised tutoring system, but the chief problem is that there is no substantive involvement of the students themselves in framing the manner and content of the delivery of these schemes or in a periodic evaluation of these schemes. In fact, we do not even know that these schemes are working. This has to change at once, and can only do so, if we make the first step to be one of information gathering about the range of academic difficulties that SC/ST students face as well as the effect that these schemes have had.

A second oft-mentioned issue is that of ‘keeping up’, where previous education has been of a poor quality and caste discrimination a persistent impediment. It is certainly a possibility within the JNU system to think of a slow-track BA and MA as the ordinances allow for two semesters extra. Rather than extending this option only when the student fails a course, an amendment that allows the student to slow-track through the degree is something worth exploring. Many issues will of course arise vis-a-vis curriculum and syllabus design, but they CAN be dealt with. Most importantly, slow track degrees for SC/ST students must be with full scholarship and hostel degrees. For the M.Phil., which does not allow any extension, there are two options — one obviously to extend the duration of the degree itself, and the other to think of introducing a “taught M.Phil” programme, where in lieu of a dissertation, there is coursework for four semesters.

The thorniest knot of all, however is to create a system of evaluation in course-work that is sensitive to the facts of historical educational and derivational disadvantage. The current metric teachers use asks them to evaluate students only on the basis of responses to questions and leaves their histories and biographies out of the picture. Typically, SC/ST students do not do as well as they could in the beginning, and doing badly contributes to a feeling of alienation and a loss of confidence. How can such sensitivity be built in, just as we build it into the entrance examination system by deprivation points? Should we extend this system into evaluation for coursework? In a system where even declaring a grading policy per course is not standardly implemented across Centres, how can deprivation points be added on top of scores? How long should deprivation points survive after admission is given? These are just some of the questions that need collective meditation.

  1. Ensuring a working and living atmosphere that is free of caste discrimination.

Speaking as a person who has caste and class privilege, I do not understand the exact nature of caste discrimination on the campus, although I have seen glimpses of it, particularly in the responses of students and workers when they are victims of sexual harassment. I will not however arrogate to myself the right to speak about their experiences, but rather focus on why restructuring the Equal Opportunities Office to a GSCASH like committee is the best way to tackle not only instances of caste discrimination but also ensuring equity of access and substantive quality. This is not to say of course that caste discrimination is identical to gender discrimination, but rather that the relative success we have had with one may be used as a motivation to trying the same method to define, analyze, and tackle a different problem.

* Since 1999, when the GSCASH was formed after more than two years of struggle, an old problem that had beset generations of constituents of the JNU community suddenly got a name: sexual harassment, and this name was given not by the will of an aggrieved person and her supporters, or by some administrative fiat but by a process of deliberation carried out by sections of community designated to do this job. A complainant’s experiences — that the sexually determined behaviour was “unwelcome” — play the critical role in defining the charges, rather than official papers alone. Caste discrimination too must get its name now, and I would suggest by the same process.

* The fact that the GSCASH committee is representative and constituted by popular election ensures that sexual harassment and questions of gender equality and equity are addressed on a large scale every year in various constituencies and throughout the year. The fact that GSCASH is clearly 50% women by ‘reservation’ of seats and headed by a woman is crucial in guiding the committee’s perspective on gender relations on the campus. Extending this model to the EOC will clearly involve major changes — how should we reserve seats? Should it be exclusively SC and ST? Or do we include minorities and OBCs in it? Who will be the electorate? Who can be the candidates — but these are details that can be worked out by involvement of the whole community.

* The independence of GSCASH from the university administration particularly when it comes to inquiries is crucial in insulating it from pressure from senior levels. The EOC should also be armed with inquiry functions and should be the sole body that is vested with the authority to conduct inquiries into allegations of caste discrimination. Having the GSCASH around has created a sensitive university internal procedure (rather than going to the police) for complainants to access in confidentiality for redressal, a process that goes into each complaint in an impartial manner. Having such a process has created an atmosphere in which complaints are not instrumentalist or sensationalised, as now the first port of call when an incident has occurred is the GSCASH rather than the police.

* In the learning process that GSCASH is, collective knowledge about what IS sexual harassment and what isn’t, have been built for an entire university community. Because of the challenges thrown up by GSCASH cases, University procedures and ordinances have had to change and become more democratic. We should want the same for caste discrimination, as it is only through this process that we can truly redress this inequity, set the norms for social and academic conduct, and create the conditions for the empowerment of a plural and egalitarian view of the university as social and educational space.

The JNU GSCASH has had a profound impact upon the expectations from anti-sexual harassment committees in universities across the country; its rules and procedures have even influenced the national law (e.g., protection against victimisation and the issue of orders of restraint). Its time to do the same for issues of caste discrimination. If we don’t start now, UGC mandated Equal Opportunity Centres that disappear the real issues of caste and discrimination will take over.

In a notification of January 29, 2016, the UGC recommends EOCs that will sensitise “mainstream sections of the society towards the problems of the marginalised/disadvantaged sections of the society so that they can improve their performance not only inn the education but also in other spheres of life”, and by doing so makes the issue of the annihilation of caste the responsibility of the persons most affected by it. To move away from this discourse of “upliftment” in which upper castes remain the mainstream, to a discourse of rights and entitlements in which neither pity nor patronage rule, it is imperative that we act in unison.

News monitoring by AMRESH & AJEET


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