Dalits Media Watch – English News Updates 24.02.16

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Pipil back in news, dalit women paraded naked – NDTV

http://khabar.ndtv.com/videos/live/channel/ndtvindia

3 teens booked for rape – Deccan Chronicle

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/crime/240216/3-teens-booked-for-rape.html

March becomes symbol for larger fight against injustice – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/march-becomes-symbol-for-larger-fight-against-injustice/article8273805.ece

Die is ‘caste’ at march for JNU students – The Times Of India

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Delhi/Die-is-caste-at-march-for-JNU-students/articleshow/51113827.cms

I see Rohith in each one of you, says RadhikaVemula – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/i-see-rohith-in-each-one-of-you-says-radhika-vemula/article8274686.ece

Man eyeing neighbour’s land mows down his son – The Times Of India

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Man-eyeing-neighbours-land-mows-down-his-son/articleshow/51114372.cms

JNU inquiry panel biased, anti-reservation: students – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/jnu-inquiry-panel-biased-antireservation-students/article8273409.ece

58% disabled SC|ST kids not schooled – The Times Of India

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/58-disabled-SCST-kids-not-schooled/articleshow/51117579.cms

BHRC issues notice to principal secretary SC/ST welfare dept – Business Standard

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/bhrc-issues-notice-to-principal-secretary-sc-st-welfare-dept-116022300789_1.html

Gujarat Govt allocate less budget than constitutional mandate on SC/ST welfare – The Times Of India

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Gujarat-Govt-allocate-less-budget-than-constitutional-mandate-on-SC/ST-welfare/articleshow/51037730.cms

Removing Discrimination in Universities – EPW

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/6/web-exclusives/removing-discrimination-universities.html

 

Please watch:

March for justice to RohitVemula in Delhi

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BK4AbR4vCx0

 

PROTEST MARCH AGAINST THE INSTITUTIONAL MURDER OF ROHITH VEMULA HCU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75YwucGithU

 

Massive Rally in Mumbai – Justice for RohithVemula

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g08GYq_NmkE

 

Note: Please find attachment for DMW Hindi (PDF)

 

NDTV

Pipil back in news, dalit women paraded naked

http://khabar.ndtv.com/videos/live/channel/ndtvindia

Published on 24 February 2016 By Prameya News7 (author)

Bhubaneswar: Arujnagoda village under Pipili block in Odisha’s Puri district, which was in news for the alleged gang-rape and murder of BebinaMallick, has once again hit the headlines.

Two women belonging to the scheduled caste community were recently paraded naked and made to walk on the road by upper caste people.

According to reports, one Sachikanta Swain of the village on Sunday dug some pits in his land to construct a house. As he encroached a few yards of his neighbourKarnaSethy, the latter wife Nayani opposed it. This ensued in a scuffle.

When Sachikanta tried to manhandle Nayani by dragging him by her hair, her sister-in-law (wife of husband’s younger brother) came out and protested. However, Sachikanta along with six-seven other anti-socials attached them with lathis and sharp weapons. They were seriously injured and admitted to local hospital.

Later they lodged complaint with the local police.

The matter came to light after the dalit women of the village gheraoed the police station on Tuesday protesting police inaction to arrest the accused.

As per the complaint, Sachikanta hurled abusive at Nayani during the scuffle.

BJP state unit women chief Bijaylaxmi Mishra who on Tuesday visited Arjungoda village had a tiff with the police inspector Sushil Mishra over non-registration of the FIR. The matter came to normalcy after case was registered under instruction from sub-divisional police officer JayantMohapatra.

Deccan Chronicle

3 teens booked for rape

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/crime/240216/3-teens-booked-for-rape.html

DECCAN CHRONICLE.

UpdatedFeb 24, 2016, 7:24 am IST

Three teenagers were booked for allegedly kidnapping and raping a minor dalit girl.

The girl filed a complaint on February 16 and on Tuesday she was produced before court. (Representational image)

Hyderabad: Three teenagers were booked for allegedly kidnapping and raping a minor dalit girl. The incident which happened nearly 10 days ago in Nalgonda district, came to light on Tuesday when the victim appeared before court. Police said on February 12 the victim, 17,  was offered a lift on a bike by three teens. They drove her to a nearby area and raped her.  The girl filed a complaint on February 16 and on Tuesday she was produced before court.

The Hindu

March becomes symbol for larger fight against injustice

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/march-becomes-symbol-for-larger-fight-against-injustice/article8273805.ece

SWETA GOSWAMI

The solidarity march demanding justice for research scholar RohithVemula saw the participation by thousands of people from across the country on Tuesday.

While students came in from various universities, a battery of politicians too joined the protest and slammed the Modi government for crushing “creativity” and voice of “dissent”.

By noon, students of Jawaharlal Nehru University and Hyderabad University were joined by thousands of others from institutes like Allahabad University, Aligarh Muslim university, Delhi University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Ambedkar University, IP University, Delhi University Mumbai University among several others.

Everyone was united in demanding “Rohith Act” – a new law which would help take action against caste discrimination in educational institutions.

Marching from central Delhi’s Jhandewalan to JantarMantar, the students raised slogans like “Rohithtumharesapnokomanziltakpauhchayenge (Rohith we will fulfill your dreams)”. At JantarMantar, the protest turned into a rally with politicians and social activists like Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi chief Minister ArvindKejriwal, CPI’s D Raja, CPM General Secretary SitaramYechuri, MedhaPatkar and Kavita Krishnan addressing the crowds.

With JNU on the boil, the protest clearly was not limited to seeking justice for Rohith, a Dalit student of Hyderabad University who committed suicide. Slogans were also raised in support of JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and other students like Umar Khalid who are accused of raising anti-national slogans at a pro-Afzal Guru event in the university campus.

Chants of Jai Bhim resounded during the march which had a large presence of students’ wings of various political parties. While BJP’s ABVP distanced itself from the event, the largest presence was that of AamAadmi Party’s CYSS.

Throwing a surprise, one of the people to address the crowds at the rally was Umar’s father SQR Ilyas.

He expressed that he missed his son and Kanhaiya at the event as both had made plans to participate actively in the march by mobilizing students.

“This is no less than being under colonial rule. The country is being ruled by those who oppress dissenting voices. I urge all of you to brace yourselves for a new revolution,” he said.

Social activist MedhaPatkar highlighted how casteism continues unabated in all universities in the country. She said that it is about time to take communal forces head on.

“The worst victims of privatisation, caste and communal based politics are the Dalits and Adivasis,” she said. Another activist Kavita Krishnan said that RohithVemula’s dead was an “institutional death.”

Terming the protest as a “historic” moment, SwarajAbhiyan founder YogendraYadav said the issue will be raised on streets if not inside the Parliament. CPI national secretary D Raja expressed similar views and said, “We will ask Modi to ensure justice and we shall foil efforts by the ruling party to impose RSS ideology across universities in the country.”

The Times Of India

Die is ‘caste’ at march for JNU students

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Delhi/Die-is-caste-at-march-for-JNU-students/articleshow/51113827.cms

TNN | Feb 24, 2016, 01.01 AM IST

NEW DELHI: Thousands of students and university teachers took to the streets of Delhi on Tuesday to protest against the crisis in Jawaharlal Nehru University and to demand justice for Dalit research scholar RohithVemula who committed suicide in Hyderabad Central University last month. Though the protest march was about the police action in JNU, the event also focused on Dalit issues in universities.

The protest march started after news came that the bail application of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar in the Delhi High Court had been deferred till Wednesday. The students walked from Jhandewalan in central Delhi to JantarMantar, the capital’s protest hotspot.

At JantarMantar, political bigwigs took to the stage in solidarity with the protesting students. They included Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat, SwarajAbhiyan member YogendraYadav, social activist MedhaPatkar, Delhi’s social welfare minister Sandeep Kumar and All India Progressive Women’s Association secretary Kavita Krishnan. Delhi chief minister ArvindKejriwal also joined them later.

Among others present were Vemula’s mother Radhika and brother Raja and Syed QasimRasoolIlyas, father of Umar Khalid, one of the organizers of the February 9 Afzal Guru event and who is wanted by the police on charges of sedition.

Hundreds of students from the University of Hyderabad and Osmania University joined their counterparts from JNU, Delhi University, JamiaMilliaIslamia and Ambedkar University, as did members of the National Students’ Union of India, BahujanSamaj Party and ChhatraYuvaSangharshSamiti, the students’ wing of the AamAadmi Party.

“The march was successful despite the organisers facing a lot of harassment,” said Shehla Rashid, vice-president of JNUSU. “As Justice MarkandeyKatju pointed out, the police can always carry out the interrogation of the accused students on the campus. They are all amenable to this.”

The political leaders sympathised with the students, especially those from Hyderabad who are demanding justice for Vemula and the introduction of the Rohith Act in Parliament to stop caste discrimination in educational institutions. “Dalit and tribal students and those from poor socio-economic backgrounds are made to feel like outcasts in universities. We are with the Dalits and will fight for those who are being oppressed,” said Karat.

YogendraYadav pointed out there that already existed a regulation on appointing an anti-discrimination officer in each university, but not one of the 700 Indian universities had implemented it. “We will file an RTI application to ask universities why they don’t have a mechanism to deal with discrimination or an officer to deal with such complaints,” he promised the students.

Rahul described Vemula as a symbol of India’s future whose voice had been crushed like those of other students in universities across the country. Krishnan attacked the establishment for trying to stifle the students’ fight for their rights. “SmritiIrani (human resources development minister) called a meeting of vice-chancellors recently. We want to know what they talked about,” she said. “It appears they only discussed flying the national flag in central universities, not steps to stop discrimination in the campuses.”

The Hindu

I see Rohith in each one of you, says RadhikaVemula

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/i-see-rohith-in-each-one-of-you-says-radhika-vemula/article8274686.ece

SWETA GOSWAMI

: Marching with the students and later sitting patiently till the end of the rally at JantarMantar demanding justice for her son was RadhikaVemula, the mother of Hyderabad University research scholar RohithVemula who had committed suicide.

The family received “another blow” when Rohith’s grandmother, who had adopted Radhika, expired on Monday.

“All those who are victims of the attacks on various universities, please do not be scared. I am ready to fight with all of you. I see a Rohith in each one of you,” said Ms. Radhika in view of the JNU controversy. She also attacked Prime Minister NarendraModi asking about the action taken against the Union minister who called her son an “anti-national”.

Highlighting the “oppression” of Dalits, she said: “Are universities in India not for Dalits? MLAs, MPs from Dalit community were elected to work for Dalits but most of them are working for their own parties. All the parties take the name of Ambedkar just for name’s sake. Scholarships for Dalit students are not being disbursed on time.” Ms. Radhika also requested everyone to fight till the Rohith Act is brought.

Meanwhile, a 74-year-old woman, who is said to have raised the mother of Dalit scholar RohithVemula, died in Guntur on Monday and the family claims it was because of the “tension” created by the probe into the student’s death. Speaking about her, Rohith’s brother Raja said, “She was questioned for five-six hours a day by local authorities. And due to this tension, she died yesterday. She was a heart patient and had undergone a bypass surgery.”

The Times Of India

Man eyeing neighbour’s land mows down his son

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Man-eyeing-neighbours-land-mows-down-his-son/articleshow/51114372.cms

TNN | Feb 24, 2016, 02.46 AM IST

Pune: A dispute over three guntha (about 3,000 sqft) land in Limtek village near Baramati led to the death of five-year-old dalit boy, Om ShivajiKhilare, on Monday morning.

Investigations by the Pune rural police indicate that the suspect BapuraoDevkate wanted the land owned by the Khilare family. Devkate was pressuring the dalit family to vacate it as he wanted to build a bungalow, BapuBangar, sub-divisional police officer (Baramati division) of the Pune rural police, said.

Bangar told TOI that along with section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code, they had also booked Devkate (48) under relevant sections of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Around 11am on Monday, Devkate allegedly ran over Om with his tractor. The child was sitting along the road in front of his house eating an ice-cream. Om was taken to a hospital where doctors declared him dead. Devkate was arrested late in the night.

Bangar said Om’s father Sagar has stated in his complaint that Devkate is his neighbour and wanted to buy his land for constructing a bungalow which he was not willing to sell.

“Devkate would harass the Khilare family and had threatened the family with dire consequences. We are probing,” he said.

This was the second case of harassment of a dalit family in the district in the last two days. On Sunday a 14-year-old dalit girl was molested on the road near Indapur. A man and his wife suspected the girl’s involvement in the theft of a gold chain and frisked her.

The Indapur police have arrested ShrirangShendge and booked his wife. They too were charged under Prevention of Atrocities Act and Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). The girl’s mother lodged a complaint against the duo.

The Hindu

JNU inquiry panel biased, anti-reservation: students

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/jnu-inquiry-panel-biased-antireservation-students/article8273409.ece

KRITIKA SHARMA SEBASTIAN

According to students, what is more worrying is the fact that four of the eight students who have been debarred belong to the reserved category

he Jawaharlal Nehru University administration has steadfastly maintained that the ‘high-level’ inquiry committee appointed to look into the February 9 incident on the campus has been “fair” and “unbiased”, when it took the decision of debarring eight students. However, the students are alleging that two of the members in the committee have in the past positioned themselves as anti-reservation and anti-students.

According to students, what is more worrying is that four of the eight students who have been debarred belong to the reserved category. The eight students who have been debarred included Kanhiaya Kumar, now in judicial custody under sedition charges, Rama Naga, General Secretary of the student’s union, Anirban Bhattacharya, Ashutosh Kumar, Anant Prakash, AishwaryaAdhikari, Shweta Raj and Umar Khalid.

Of the eight students, Rama Nagar who comes from Boipariguda district in Odisha is a dalit. He is an M.Phil scholar at JNU’s Centre for Political Studies. Anant Prakash who is from Mirzapur in UP is also a dalit student. He is currently pursuing his M.Phil from Centre for the Study of Law and Governance.

Two other students from the reserved OBC/SC/ST category are Ashutosh Kumar and Shweta Raj. Ashutosh, the son of a rail worker in Barh, Bihar, he is pursuing his PhD from School of International Studies and Shweta Raj, who is from Varanasi and was pursuing her PhD from School of Language.

“Rama Naga, who is the general secretary, comes from the most backward village of Odisha. We all know how he has been able to make it in the university and has become a part of the union. Shweta, Anant, Ashutosh, all of them are from extremely humble backgrounds. Also Umar Khalid belongs to minority,” a JNU student Sucheta De, said.

The students have time and again raised the issue that the committee looking into the matter is not “fair” as it does not have representatives from the reserved category, minority or any woman. A memorandum signed by 2000 students of the university, was also submitted to the administration on February 16, asking them to take back the decision of debarring students.

“Through the memo we also raised concerns about the constitution of the committee, which consists of the anti-reservation Youth for Equality. Also, the committee has no representation from women, minorities or reserved class,” JNUSU Vice President Shehla Rashid Shora said.

The three member inquiry panel constituted by the university includes profRakeshBhatnagar, School of Biotechnology, prof HimadriBohidar, School of Physical Sciences and prof Suman K. Dhar, School of Molecular Medicine.

According to the university students, Mr. Bhatnagar has in the past been very vocal about his anti-reservation ideas. He was also the founder member of the Youth for Equality cell in the campus, that was started in the campus after 27 per cent quota for OBC students was introduced in 2007.

“Students who have been a part of the university are very well aware of Mr. Bhatnagar’s stand. He was the founder of the Youth for Equality (YFE) cell in the campus and had also supported the movement against reservation. He had led the protest against reservation from front,” said a Sandeep Kumar former JNU student’s union president, who was a part of the university in the year 2007.

“In 2007 when students from YFE were contesting the student’s union election and a trend started emerging that they are winning some seats, Mr. Bhatnagar started shouting slogans like “merit kojagah do” . He has been vocally anti-reservation and managed everything from the funds to the composition of the cell,” he added.

Mr. Bohidar who was the chief proctor of the university in the year 2006, has also had a past of taking action against students. He had in the year 2006 suspended the entire student’s union.

“After about a week of protests for the rights of labourers, who had been evicted from the campus, when we tried to meet the Registrar, he did not meet us. We had to then stop the Registrar’s car and make our point heard but this did not go down well with the then Chief Proctor Mr. Bohidar and he suspended the entire student’s union,” Mr. Kumar added.

While the two professors refused to comment on the issue, calls and messages on this issue, to Registrar BhupinderZutshi went unanswered.

The JNU administration has refused to change the composition of the inquiry panel, stating that according them, the committee is “fair”. The administration also said that if after two repeated summons if the students do not depose in front of the panel, a decision will be taken on the basis of evidence available to them.

The Times Of India

58% disabled SC|ST kids not schooled

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/58-disabled-SCST-kids-not-schooled/articleshow/51117579.cms

Ekatha Ann John | Feb 24, 2016, 10.33 AM IST

CHENNAI: While most parents shuttle between different schools as the admission season gets underway, for some families educating their children is not a choice -they have to help their wards overcome not just multiple physical disabilities but also battle socioeconomic implications of their caste.

A survey undertaken by the National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities (NIEPMD) found that nearly 58% of the children who come to them do not attend schools. All of them belong to either Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes.

A team from NIEPMD decided to study and put a number to the educational status of people belonging to the minority group after they observed that many of them were stepping into a rehabilitation institution for the first time. “For some parents, educating their children hadn’t even struck them. All their resources were channelized into giving them medical aid and therapy ,” said NeeradhaChandramohan, Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology at NIEPMD. She said most national institutes that cater to people with disabilities had funds exclusively set aside for those belonging to SCST.”But parents are unaware of the facilities and schemes meant for these children,” she said. The study covered 67 people who approached the institute for general services like counselling and medical aid.Researchers found 39 of them were not attending school, of which 13 were in the 6-10 age group and 7 were between the ages of 11 to 15 years. Of the 28 receiving education, 12 go to normal schools, while 16 attend special schools. Around 40 of those surveyed suffered from cerebral palsy and mental retardation.

Himangshu Das, Director of NIPMD, said the number of those not attending schools could be much larger.

The National Sample Survey Organisation pegged the number of people suffering from one disability or the other at 1.8% of the population, of which 10.63% suffer from multiple disabilities. Among the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, researchers found that a majority of the parents are unaware of the services available for them.

Disability rights activists say the reason why this children are forced to skip education is because their environment itself is disabling.”These children have lower cognitive skills and show delay in development, but you can’t just dismiss them. Given the right access to education and facilities that are available to normal children, they show marked improvement too,” said RajulPadmanabhan, Director of Chennaibased NGO VidyaSagar. “But being disabled in our country is an expensive affair, so it’s natural for parents belonging to the lower strata to think educating their child is just an unnecessary expense,” she said.

Business Standard

BHRC issues notice to principal secretary SC/ST welfare dept

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/bhrc-issues-notice-to-principal-secretary-sc-st-welfare-dept-116022300789_1.html

Press Trust of India  |  Patna February 23, 2016 Last Updated at 17:58 IST

Taking suomotu cognizance of reports of SC/ST students of Bihar forced to leave a college in Bhubaneswar due to the state’s alleged failure to pay stipend to them, the BHRC today issued notice to the Principal Secretary (SC/ST Welfare Department) to submit a reply by April 25 next.

“We have taken suomotu cognizance of news reports published in the media on February 2 last about the SC/ST students of Bihar being forced to leave Rajdhani Engineering College, (REC), Bhubaneswar due to failure of the state government to pay their stipend….The Commission has issued notice to the Principal Secretary (SC/ST Welfare Department) for a response by April 25 next,” Bihar Human Rights Commission, Member Neelmani said.

Neelmani said that the SC/ST Welfare Department Secretary has earlier informed the BHRC that the department has so far received approximately one lakh application for such scholarships for which Rs 70.9 crore had been sanctioned for 43,047 students of Bihar studying in 4,348 Engineering Colleges in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand.

The manual verification with respect of remaining 50,000 students will be completed in a month and the stipend amount transferred through RTGS to the college/Institutions concerned, the BHRC member said quoting from the information provided by the SC/ST Welfare Department Secretary.

Taking note of the media reports about five engineering colleges being found to be fake and in some cases undeserving students being enrolled in many of these engineering colleges, the BHRC member said the commission has been informed that necessary verification was being done manually through the district Welfare Officers even as in the case of REC, Bhubaneswar, its administration has denied that any student from Bihar has been expelled as reported by the media.

Appreciating the state government’s initiative to deal with stipend issue of the SC/ST students, Neelmani said that the commission has asked the state government to take following measures – completion of pending verification within a month, expediting verification process by using various technological tools and exposing and taking those agency /institutions to task for attempt to siphon off public money.

He said that the commission has directed the Principal Secretary (SC/ST Welfare Department) to submit a report on April 25 next when the matter is listed for hearing.

The Times Of India

Gujarat Govt allocate less budget than constitutional mandate on SC/ST welfare

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Gujarat-Govt-allocate-less-budget-than-constitutional-mandate-on-SC/ST-welfare/articleshow/51037730.cms

Kapil Dave | TNN | Feb 18, 2016, 01.13 PM IST

Ahmedabad: As per the constitutional provision every state is expected to make atleast minimum budget allocation for the Schedule Caste(SC) and Schedule Tribe(ST) in proportion to their population in the state budget every year under SC and ST sub plan.

Government can allocate more budget considering more welfare needs but cannot run away from the minimum allocation for the SC/ST welfare in proportion to their population however the Vibrant Gujarat government don’t follow the constitutional provision and allocates less budget under the SC/ST sub plan which is clear violation of the constitutional provisions.

As per 2011 census, SC(Dalit) population in state is 7.09%, while ST(tribal) population is 14.75% of the total population so the Gujarat government needs to allocate minimum 7.09 % and 14.75% for SC and ST respectively. However year after year Gujarat government allocates lesser than the mandatory provisions.

Against the total Plan size of Rs. 79295 crore in 2015-16 of the state budget Gujarat government was expected to allocate Rs. 5622 crore under SC special component plan(SCSCP) and Rs. 11696 crore under the Tribal Sub Plan(TSP) however actually allocated Rs. 3947.17 crore and Rs.10247 crore respectively which was less by whopping Rs.1674.83 crore and Rs.1449 crore for SC and ST respectively less than the population criteria.

Union NitiAyog(earlier planning commission) has also directed the state to follow the constitutional provision in the budget allocation.

JigneshMevani, SC/ST legal right activists said that,”the Gujarat government is not only violating the constitutional provision by allocating less fund for the SC and ST under special component plan but also not spending enough from it. Diversion of funds for non SC and ST purposes like construction roads etc., are considered under the SC/ST welfare work which is misinterpretation. Other development activities like road, water supply etc., can not be included in SC/ST welfare activities as it’s general development activity. SC/ST special plan’s basis objective is to give special attention to the deprived community which the Gujarat government is ignoring. Gujarat needs to have Andhra Pradesh like special Act for SC/ST sub-plan allocation to ensure better welfare of the community.”

Mangubhai Patel, State Tribal Development Minister when contacted accepted that the government is allocating less budget for tribal development however do not see anything wrong in it. “Government has to follow income and expenditure possibilities while preparing the budget. Constitutional provisions are different and financial matters are different. While preparing budget government may to have to consider lot of things.” RamanlalVora, State Social Justice & Empowerment Minister was not available for comments despite several attempts.

EPW

Removing Discrimination in Universities

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/6/web-exclusives/removing-discrimination-universities.html

Situating RohithVemula’s Suicide

SthabirKhora (sthabir@tiss.edu) teaches at the School of Education, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

How can we create just and non-discriminatory spaces in universities when the discriminatory practices are not obvious and apparent? The author suggests two ways—reporting and addressing indirect discrimination and a periodic discrimination audit of educational institutions. 

RohithVemula’s suicide, one among the several instances of suicides of Dalit students in Indian universities, has received a fair amount of attention. The event has also generated a feeling of helplessness among Dalit rights activists.

The notification and subsequent enforcement of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 came just a few days after the incident. Even before the amendment, the act, popularly known as Atrocities Act, had the image of a “stringent” act.  It is true that by introducing a presumption vide Section 8 (c) it removes the difficulty of proving caste motive in instances of violence. But the amendment does not remove the burden and standard of proof, which would still need to be “beyond reasonable doubt,” on the complainant. Legally stringent laws are those which shift the burden of proof to the accused and follow a standard of “preponderance of evidence” than “beyond reasonable doubt.” So calling it “stringent” is unfounded, going by legal standards.

Addressing Indirect Discrimination          

Modern institutions like universities are too smart to practise crude discriminatory practices like separate water pots for Dalits that happen in some rural schools (Sukumar 2008). The defining attribute of indirect discrimination (practised in modern institutions like universities) is that it counts substance than form and impact than intent.  Indirect discrimination operates by acting on discourses like merit, rights, academic freedom/autonomy, academic excellence and accountability in the university system.

Without a law on indirect discrimination, discrimination can always recur in changed forms. This seems to be what is happening. While law mandates for a certain percentage of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) student intake, which the higher education institutions cannot disobey, the SC/ST students suffer in multifarious ways after admission for which the Atrocities Act has very little answer.

For example, faculty are granted autonomy in good faith regarding certifying student progress. A faculty supervisor has substantial autonomy to certify whether the research scholar is progressing or not based on which the scholar’s fellowship is granted. However, should the faculty misuse such autonomy and discriminate SC/ST students then a law on direct discrimination like Atrocities Act will be ineffective as in extreme situations the faculty will take recourse to “error of judgement.”

It is analytically useful to be aware that an empirical action could be the exercise of both rights/autonomy as well as discrimination. According to Max Weber, a real action in contrast to an ideal one can simultaneously be zweckrational (goal oriented), wertrational (value oriented) and affective (emotional).  Further, action also includes “failing to act.” We can also draw from Talcott Parsons that a particular action can be universalistic or particularistic to various degrees and not be divided into watertight compartments. The various actions/inactions that happen in the university may not be purely “rational” but may be laced with some “affect” and “tradition.” A student’s definition of a “good” teacher and a teacher’s definition of a “good” student may not be purely “rational” in the sense of an objective assessment. Formally neutral norms/practices like “grading” and “student feedback” can constitute substantively discriminatory practices in a university.

Direct discrimination can be isolated and prohibited with relative ease. However, when discrimination is mixed with various discourses like rights, autonomy and excellence then it is difficult to separate and prohibit. This is indirect discrimination. However, advances in human rights has resulted in a focus on the concept of indirect discrimination. Simply speaking, this means what you should not be doing directly, should also not be done indirectly under any pretext (Doyle 2007).

A law on indirect discrimination tries to counter such discriminations under the garb of rights/autonomy. It does not accept neutral sounding discourses like university discipline or academic quality at their face values. One has no option but to curtail the rights/autonomy proportionately to prevent discrimination beyond a point. Just like affluence leads to effluence, discretion leads to discrimination.

A “statistical test” of discriminatory practices can be used as proof to raise the level of scrutiny against indirect discrimination. This method goes beyond the usual “case to case” approach and tries to spot a pattern. If almost all those who have committed suicides in a particular institution are Dalits, or if almost all those who fail and are expelled from a higher education institution are Dalits, then all of these cannot be a coincidence. This scrutiny makes institutions responsible in cases of indirect discrimination.

Usually only commissions constitute crime from the legal point of view. Authorities become culpable for their “activity”, not their “passivity.” However from the morality point of view both commissions and omissions are crime. A real “civil” society cannot sustain itself only with laws of commissions. Laws related to omissions are equally necessary. A law on indirect discrimination takes care of omission as it focuses on the result rather than the procedure per se. It focuses on the final justice rather than only the procedural justice.

Discrimination Audit of Organisations

While we need reactive measures like law, we also need a proactive measure for tackling discrimination at modern institutions. It is said that law comes after, not before the crime. So even a law on indirect discrimination will act only after the discrimination takes place. It necessitates taking some proactive measure, less crude than law, which can capture and prevent indirect discrimination which is sophisticated. A discrimination audit can fulfil such a function.

The present era is supposed to be the audit era. We have performance audit, gender audit, environment audit, social audit, etc. Academics are facing the danger of the “audit culture” in a neo-liberal era. However, the equivalent of social audit, which happens for development projects, does not exist in academics. Academics exhort the government and the corporate to adopt social audit, but shy away from it when it comes to themselves. Who will judge the judges? Today in academics we have enough of performance audit but not of discrimination audit, the equivalent of social audit.

Discrimination audit can create moral pressure on the institutions to be more proactive to be just. Though this may only serve a symbolic function, it will be seen to be a moral compass in society.

References

Doyle, Oran (2007): “Direct Discrimination, Indirect Discrimination and Autonomy,” Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Vol 27, No 3, pp 537–53.

Sukumar, N (2008): “Living a Concept: Semiotics of Everyday Exclusion,”  Economic and Political Weekly, Vol 48, No 46, pp 14–17.

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET

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