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3 Dalit youngsters who are breaking caste barriers to script own stories – Hindustan times
“Woes of Dalit women on the rise in last five years” – The hindu
From Arippa, an etiquette for land – The hindu
Auto man drives change in neighbourhood – The hindu
Caste away – Kathmandu post
Poswal urges Governor to allocate funds for TSP – Daily excelsior
Jaitley’s Budget: Juggling figures & false claims – the thehansindia
Tribal sub Plan – The hindu
Poswal urges Governor to allocate funds to Tribal Sub-Plan in forthcoming budget meet – Scoop news
Sedition, quota, caste: what engaged RSS on the first day of Nagaur meet – Catch news
Badri Narayan On Dalits & Hindutva Agenda of Nation Making || Stand With JNU
3 Dalit youngsters who are breaking caste barriers to script own stories
As a teenager, Arjun Singh, 24, was deeply influenced by the life of BSP leader the late Kanshi Ram. He felt the leader’s life was a message that needed to be taken to Dalit youths. And the best way to do so, he believed, was making a movie on his life. But Singh had a problem: he neither had the money nor training in film-making.
After three years of struggle, he realised his dream. The Great Leader: Kanshi Ram, a feature film he directed and produced, is ready.
In fact, Singh’s own struggle to make the film on Kanshi Ram is no less than a movie.
In 2012, Singh dropped out of college and headed to Mumbai to work as an assistant with Vijay Solanki, a Bhojpuri director. After six months in the tinsel town, he returned to his hometown Gwalior and made a documentary, Atyachar, to test his newly acquired film-making skills.
He screened the documentary – the story of a village head who perpetrated unspeakable atrocities on the poor. “ It got a rave response and gave me the confidence to realise my dream of making the movie on Kanshi Ram, “ said Singh. “ Now I only needed to arrange funds .”
But that was be the most difficult part.
Singh thought local BSP leaders would help him and approached district and state level netas. “They made tall promises for months but did nothing. One of them promised financial help once I registered my production house. I soon set up Baba Film Maker, named after BR Ambedkar, but the leader stopped taking my calls.”
Just when he was getting dejected , Singh went to see Dr MR Raipuriya, a college teacher in Gwalior, who had done a Phd on Kanshi Ram. “You have come to my house on a cycle, how will you make the movie? he asked. I replied even Kanshi Ram started his journey on a cycle,” said Singh. “ He was impressed and suggested I should approach intellectuals within the Dalit community instead of politicians. He himself contributed Rs 50,000”.
“It worked for a while. I collected Rs3. 5 lakh; then I approached a few people with the offer of becoming a co-producer for my movie. Two people came forward and contributed Rs 3 lakh. I now had Rs6.5 lakh. I knew it was not enough but I started work,” Singh said.
Raipuriya wrote the story, Singh wrote the screenplay and hired theatre artists.Raghvendra Singh Rathore, a theatre artist, agreed to play Kanshi Ram for Rs 2 lakh.
But the money was spent in a few days and with no funding in sight, Singh explained to his mother why it was necessary to complete the movie. Her mother decided to sell the family’s ancestral land and his wife sold her jewellery. Singh got about Rs20 lakh and started shooting once again. “ I shot for a month and a half at a stretch and completed the film. I hope to release it by April. ” The film has two songs and 50 characters.
Sing said he learnt a lot about life and politics during the making of the movie. “I have begun to wonder if Dalit politicians really care for the community,” he said. He has a message for Dalit youths: “ Do not trust politicians of any party and be your own light.”
Caste in a new journalistic mould
Ashok Das 31, always wanted to be a journalist but when he became one he found the going tough. A few days into his first job with a Hindi newspaper, he felt he was being treated ‘differently’. “After studying mass communication at IIMC, I joined a well- known Hindi daily in Maharashtra in 2006. My colleagues would insist on knowing my second name. I often lied,” said Das, who earlier used ‘Kumar’ to hide his Dalit identity.
Not comfortable with hiding his caste, Das quit in a couple of months. “I joined another Hindi paper in UP, and this time I let everyone know that I was a Dalit. But again I could sense an unease among my colleagues, most of whom were from the upper caste,” said Das. “ I was denied a promotion and I knew it had nothing to do with my performance. I quit once again,” said Delhi-based Das, 31.
In 2010, he changed his second name to Das and became the Delhi correspondent of a Marathi paper. “After that most people thought I was someone from West Bengal or Orissa ; no one asked questions about my caste anymore.”
Das felt the mainstream media, especially Hindi newspapers, were not giving enough coverage to stories on atrocities against Dalits and so in 2012 he decided to launch his own magazine—Dalit Dastak.
The magazine with a readership of over one lakh is run mostly through donations, Das said. It publishes opinions, interviews, reportage, atrocities on Dalits and success stories.
“It’s not easy to run the magazine as companies, even those owned by Dalits, are not comfortable advertising in a Dalit magazine,” said Das, who earlier this year also co-founded a publication house. “The idea is to publish Dalit writers who are otherwise ignored by mainstream publishing houses.”
Has life for Dalit youth changed in the past decade? “Now Dalit youngsters are quite comfortable with who they are; they do not hide their caste anymore,” he said.
His magazine carried two cover stories on Rohith Vemula’s suicide —one with the headline ‘Nahi chahiye ek aur Eklavya’ ( We do not need another Eklavya). The second story was about how Dalit students continued to face discrimination in premier educational institutions.
Das said Rohith Vemula’s suicide had mobilised Dalit youth like never before. “Initially, the news of his suicide came as a shock but soon it galvanised them into launching fierce protests both off and online. The social media ensured it is no longer possible to suppress stories of atrocities on Dalits. Lakhs of Dalit youths used Vemula’s picture as their profile pictures on their social media accounts,” Das said.
Reservation, he said, should continue as long as the caste system remains. “It is the responsibility of the upper castes to end the caste system; only those who made caste can unmake it,” he said.
Das said his biggest dream was to start a daily Dalit daily newspaper by 2020–the centenary year of the now-defunct Mook Nayak, a fortnightly launched by Ambedkar in 1920. “It marked the beginning of activist Dalit Journalism”.
This rebel seeks ‘poetic justice’
Bal Gangadhar Bagi, 26, firmly believes in the idea of ‘poetic justice. Bagi is a young Dalit poet whose work revolves around oppression, social justice, poverty, marginalisation and discrimination.
“Only poetry can capture the pain of the oppressed; people can forget a rousing speech after a few days but not a deeply- felt poem,” said Bagi, who is a founder of Bahujan Poetry Forum, a platform to bring together Dalit poets.
Often invited to recite poetry by Dalit organisations, he is a much sought-after man on April 14—the birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar. His recitation at a programme titled Ek Sham Baba Sahib Ke Naam in November at Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium got him a standing ovation from a gathering of over 20, 000 people.
Bagi has also received several awards from Buddhist and Ambedkarite organisations. His poetry sessions at JNU, where he is pursuing a PhD, are always well-attended. His two poetry collections, Aakash Neela Hai ( The sky is blue) and Ithas Ke Panno Par ( On the pages of history), are slated for release later this month.
Bagi, who hails from Basti district in UP, said he decided to give himself this unique surname (Bagi means rebel) because he had a rebellious streak since his childhood.
“In my village upper castes perpetrated atrocities on Dalits and I would often rebel against them. For me everyone who is oppressed, underprivileged and living on the margins is a Dalit. The whole objective of my life is demolition of the caste system and poetry is my weapon,” he said.
Bagi generally writes his poetry on the go. “A dog in a luxury car, a man in torn clothes, a child begging on streets are all subjects of my poetry. I stop and type out my thoughts on my smart phone, which I then refine at home. I really wonder, when people can love dogs so much why cannot they love fellow human beings?” he asked.
What does he think of recent in events in JNU. “ The real issue, he said, was not Kanhaiya but Rohith “The Kanahiya episode is a conspiracy by all political parties, including the BJP, the Congress and the Communists to divert attention from the suicide of Vemula.
“Woes of Dalit women on the rise in last five years”
Discrimination of Dalits, particularly women, has risen for the last five years in the State that neither the government nor the judiciary has come to their rescue.
Various speakers condemned this attitude and called for a perceptible change at least in the future, which may give a new life for the downtrodden.
The government may claim that it has given space for the Dalits in politics. But in reality, none of the woman elected representatives in local bodies has been allowed to function with freedom. Since there is undue delay in getting legal relief, the offenders have been encouraged to humiliate Dalits.
Evidence, an NGO, which has been fighting for the cause of the Dalits, conducted a seminar on ‘Justice for Dalit Women’ here on Saturday where advocates, social activists and research scholars spoke.
Advocate Nirmala Rani said that atrocities, especially, honour killing crimes, had become common in Tamil Nadu. Only by taking a stern action against the offenders, the social evil could be prevented. Not only was a girl killed, but her parents or relatives, who were behind the crimes, too went scot-free. This was atrocious and the judiciary should intervene, which alone would give some hope and security to the downtrodden, she appealed.
A few of the victims, who had experienced humiliation in the hands of caste Hindus and a few other communities in the society, narrated their tales.
A Dalit woman, who was holding a position in a village panchayat, was successfully prevented from discharging her duties. She was not even allowed to sign the official records. Such was the discrimination and the custodians of law only tried to bring in a “compromise” and refused to register a case, she alleged.
Though the country had been identified as secular and was known for its different culture and languages, caste played a big role that Dalits were deprived of their rights. As a result, Dalit participation in political system had been either marginal or neglected. They were not offered education as well.
From time immemorial, Dalits had been sidelined on some pretext or the other and thus it became easy for the dominant community to have an upper hand, A. Kadir, Executive Director, Evidence, said, adding that crimes such as sexual harassment were on the rise. At a time, when Dalits were facing poor economic conditions, discrimination had only made their lives more miserable. The victims looked for justice and judicial intervention alone would prevent atrocities against them, he pointed out.
From Arippa, an etiquette for land
Late last week, some 1,300 landless protesters of Arippa, in the forest-rich Kulathuppuzha grama panchayat in Kollam, watched with bated breath,Mannu Maryada , a 40-minute documentary on their four-year-old, ongoing agitation to reclaim land rights.
The protagonists, and the first viewers, of the film comprising mostly tribespeople and Dalits never expected their untiring struggle to be canned this honestly by a group of students from Ernakulam.
“It was the most touching experience of the journey, as their response to the film on March 6 made it singularly fruitful,” avers Nishida Sahir, director of the documentary who has just completed her post graduation in multimedia from Sacred Heart College at Thevara.
Nishida, and her college friend Sankhyan V. Purushan, had been drawn to the ‘Nilpusamaram’ (the standing protest by adivasis of Muthanga for rehabilitation and compensation) which took them to Attappady in late-2014 and study the issue up-close.
The duo keenly studied the course of the land rights struggles in Kerala and decided to film the Arippa agitation led by the Adivasi Dalit Munnetta Samithi (ADMS), as part of their extended semester requirement, with a scholarship to boot, besides support from social organisations. The spadework took about five months and the shooting began in October last year.
“The Arippa struggle is not just for the right to work in the fields. It aims at reinstating the indigenous people as holders of the land they once possessed. Their notion of land is not one of ownership; they farm the fields for existence,” says Nishida. The makers of the film have chosen to relate the story of the people’s struggle, their survival, bonding, community living experiences, and hopes of a fertile future, through Sheelamma and Sabu, a couple at the forefront of the agitation.
The protesters, staying in makeshift shelters, decided to do farming in 10 acres of fallow land to make a living. A community-run ‘Gothrapadasala’ school children from nearly 1,320 families fighting for their rights.
As Dalit activist and intellectual Sunny M. Kapikad puts it in the film, “The economic model they are presenting is sustainable in the long-term. Staying in revenue land, they do farming without disturbing the surroundings.”
Sankhyan, who handled the camera along with Ananthu Chandrababu, considers the documentary-making an enriching experience, ‘a thanksgiving gesture to the society’.
The 10-day shoot and the visits to capture the entire cycle of farming were rewarding. The film opens with the protesters harvesting the yield and closes with the paddy seeds for the next season ready for sowing.
“Arippa insists that Kerala should have a clear policy for agriculture. The people’s way of protest here is by tilling the land without hurting the environment,” says Nishida.
Asha Achy Joseph, heading the Sacred Heart College’s School of Communication, guided the project.
Auto man drives change in neighbourhood
Its 5.15 p.m. and a group of children take their place on a tarpaulin sheet spread across a portion of Ninth Main Road, Kannagi Nagar. Auto driver D. Vasudevan and his wife Uma Maheshwari walk in with books in their hands. The couple has been organising tuition classes for over 200 students; they are taught every day till 7.45 p.m.
At Kannagi Nagar, this is undoubtedly the largest open-air tuition centre where children learn under the street lights. The number of children here has only been increasing as the couple don’t charge any fee.
Uma Maheshwari, a class VI dropout, started offering classes outside her house on the same street five years ago after her husband fractured his leg. “We felt the burden as there was no earning member. My children were going for tuitions and we had difficulty paying their fees which was around Rs. 300 per child,” says the mother of three.
Getting children to attend these evening classes was not difficult as most of the parents are uneducated in this slum settlement and were happy to see their children engaged after school. They had close to 100 children in the first month, but getting teachers was a challenge. They had to be paid.
“We paid them Rs. 1,500 as salary by pledging Uma’s jewellery, which we continued for six months,” says Vasudevan, who studied till class X and is an auto driver for the last 17 years.
Today, ‘Babasaheb Ambedkar Free Night Centre’, as it is called, has five teachers; a majority of them are beneficiaries of this initiative and are pursuing their third year in college.
The last five years haven’t been easy for this couple who has faced resistance from some residents who didn’t like the idea of classes being conducted on the street.
“At least 50 students are dropouts and getting them to attend these classes was not easy,” says Vasudevan who takes classes twice a week.
Once a year, the couple organises a tour for the children and their parents, taking them to a place of entertainment which they manage through sponsors. They have also started a small saving scheme to encourage children to save.
Two years ago, Uma submitted a petition signed by children requesting the Education Secretary to give them a place. “With no roof, we cannot conduct classes during monsoon. ,” says Uma.
The couple have many other plans. If they get sponsors, they want to offer children evening snacks or fund the higher education of meritorious students.
“I want to see children from Kannagi Nagar also become engineers and IAS officers,” Uma says adding that “change is possible.”
The couple can be reached at 8678957785, 7299095646
Mar 13, 2016- One morning last February, I had gone to look for an apartment with my sister who lives around the Kumari Club at Balkhu where she runs a tailoring shop. We went to her friend’s landlady because she was moving and I hoped to rent the room she would be vacating. The landlady told us to first check out the room. We found it to be okay and returned to the landlady and her son to say that we would be taking it. The landlady, a female Brahmin in her 60s, and her son asked us if we liked the apartment. I said that it was fine and just needed a new coat of paint. Her son said they would paint the room and then asked me where I was from, where I was presently living and how many family members would be living in the apartment. My answers satisfied them.
Then the mother asked me which caste I belonged to. “Bishwokarma,” I said. “Does Bishwokarma mean Kami, Damai or low caste?” she asked. “Yes,” I said, “I am a Kami.” She became instantly hostile and shouted, “We will not give rooms to Kami, Damai or untouchable castes. I am old, and sometimes I need somebody to give me water. But we can never accept water from untouchables!” And so I was turned away by the Brahmin landlady.
Among all the varied racial and ethnic problems, untouchability is the most brutal and humiliating offence to human dignity. Being a Dalit is not just being deprived of one’s rights, it is also being involved in a process of psychological disintegration that educates us to accept inhumanity.
The above incident is one among many that I have confronted in my life because I am from a low caste. I have been forced to have my tea and snacks standing outside the restaurant and then wash the dirty dishes myself. I have never eaten with my classmates in my high school dining room. I have been denied access to public taps, springs and temples. My high caste friends, teachers, leaders, cadres and the whole country tell me that if I become educated, clean and rich, I will be accepted by society. I am all these things, but I am still disparaged. The caste system and untouchability exist in Hindu society based on work and descent. It does not matter if Dalits are educated, wealthy and healthy. Once they say they are Kami, Damai or Sarki, they are openly discriminated against. If I hide my caste and say that I am a Karki (a Chhetri caste), I can easily rent a room.
Hundreds of thousands of Dalits who are educated or even highly educated are victimised by the so-called high caste people, regardless of whether they are educated, uneducated, wealthy, poor, rural or urban. I would strongly declare that all high castes (Brahmins to Janajatis) have the same discriminatory mindset if they follow the Hindu rituals of purity and pollution. However, there is a tiny number of revolutionary high caste people who have stood up against the caste-based system and untouchability practices, and have freed their lives individually and made their homes untouchability-free. I salute them, but I am not fully convinced that the high castes will change their views on caste because of individual prosperity and high education levels. The Brahmins, Chhetris and Newars, who are the most educated and wealthiest, seem to be the most conservative with regard to caste-based practices and are more oppressive than other population groups.
There have been lots of attempts to break and eliminate caste-based prejudices and untouchability practices nationally and internationally. But there has been little progress, and atrocities against Dalits continue in South Asia. In January, a 26-year-old Indian PhD student, Rohith Vemula, committed suicide after being subjected to constant caste-based oppression and discrimination. It was reported on the International Dalit Solidarity Network that his suicide was a direct outcome of exclusion and caste oppression by the University of Hyderabad.
A long structured caste system cannot be abolished only by individual attempts without strong state intervention. If there had been state intervention, I would easily have rented a room in a high-caste home in Kathmandu. If education and wealth were the most important factors to change casteist attitudes, Rohith Vemula would still be alive. If it is true that educated and wealthy people will remove untouchability, the Brahmins, Chhetris and Newars would already have thrown out the caste system. If individual attempts could break caste structures, inter-caste couples would not be fleeing their villages.
I do not mean to discourage individual attempts to break the caste system, but they are only secondary endeavours.
In Nepal, the caste system and untouchability practices were structured and entrenched by the state and society. It became more rigid when the state imposed the first legal code in 1854 which divided Nepali society into five major categories and laid down offences and punishments on the basis of caste. Therefore, I strongly claim that without the strong will and intervention of the state, the structured caste-based discrimination will not disappear merely through individual acts of bravery. However, such efforts must continue, and the state must encourage and reward such individual acts of bravery. Furthermore, the state must actively conduct a ‘great campaign’ against caste-based discrimination and untouchability, and offenders must be punished instantly. I am awaiting such justice from our leftist-led government to which I contributed personally. Thousands of Dalits sacrificed their lives in their campaigns to fulfil revolutionary aspirations during the People’s War and the 2006 April Movement.
Poswal urges Governor to allocate funds for TSP
JAMMU, Mar 12: Ishfaq-ur-Rehman Poswal, BJP leader and National executive member, ST Morcha, has urged Governor N N Vohra to allocate funds for Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) in forthcoming budget meeting as per the population of tribal people in the State.
In a letter to Vohra, Poswal regretted that due to dearth of funds the directorate of tribal affairs formed by Vohra for betterment of tribal people some years before, was unable to do anything and resultantly tribal people were facing immense hardships.
“I urge you to allocate funds in budget meeting on March 15, to the directorate of tribal affairs under the directions of NITI Ayog and as per population of tribal people which was formed by you in 2007 in the State. The tribal people mostly in border towns are facing immense hardships and need urgent attention in this forthcoming budget,” Poswal said.
Jaitley’s Budget: Juggling figures & false claims
Regarding taxes, the Finance Minister has claimed that he has met his target. What he hides is that it has been met by largely hiking up the customs duty on oil imports. Instead of passing on the benefits of reduced oil prices to consumers, the FM mopped up a whopping Rs 54,000 crore through higher customs duty. Conversely, the revenues from corporate and personal income taxes have fallen far short of the budget estimate – by the huge sum of nearly Rs 46,000 crore
The Modi government has been termed as a government of managing newspaper headlines. Instead of managing the country, the focus is on how to manage the news. Jaitley’s Budget 2016 follows in the same mode, a number of claims, which on further examination appears just shifting figures from one column to another. It is, as the CPI(M) press statement says, “a budget without a vision.”
Regarding the fudged claims, MNREGA is an example. The Finance Minister claimed it is the highest MNREGA allocation yet. Wrong. The expenditure for 2011-12 was higher, it was Rs 39,337 crore against Rs 38,552 crore in this budget. Worse, if we want to maintain the same level of employment as in 2011-12, it would need to be Rs 65,000 crore; so this allocation is a drastic cut in real terms. After the drought of last two years, it was proposed to increase the MNREGA days per person, from the initial commitment of 100 days to 200 days. Instead, it has decreased now to a measly 38 days.
Regarding taxes, the Finance Minister has claimed that he has met his target. What he hides is that it has been met by largely hiking up the customs duty on oil imports. Instead of passing on the benefits of reduced oil prices to consumers, the FM mopped up a whopping Rs 54,000 crore through higher customs duty. Conversely, the revenues from corporate and personal income taxes have fallen far short of the budget estimate – by the huge sum of nearly Rs 46,000 crore. The impact of such a shortfall is that it reduces the transfers to the states that the last budget had promised, while keeping the increased taxes in the central kitty.
This budget continues the policy of increasing indirect taxes that puts the burden on the consumers, i.e., the general people, while reducing direct taxes or the “burden” on the rich. The direct tax proposals will lead to a revenue loss of Rs 1,060 crore; indirect tax proposals are to yield Rs 20,670 crore.
While the budget proposals talk about increasing allocation for various ministries such as infrastructure, agriculture, etc., this is by a sleight of hand. The allocations for capital investments for various sectors have actually gone down. For infrastructure, the capital expenditure in 2015-16 was lower than budgeted, and is proposed to be kept at almost the same level in 2016-17, implying a reduction in real terms, and as a share of GDP – from 1.8 to 1.6%.
Apart from various cuts on critical areas such as Integrated Child Development Services, food and fertiliser subsidies, there are huge shortfalls in school and higher education. From an allocation of Rs 69,794 crore for school education in 2015-16, it has dropped to Rs 63,826 crore in this budget, a drop of almost 10%. The higher education also has a similar order of cuts. The sharpest cut in higher education is on University Grants Commission, IITs, IIM and NITs – a cut of more than 50%.
In the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan, the expenditure has been pegged at 7% of the total, when it should have been 16.6%, a shortfall of Rs 52,470 crore. The expenditure on Tribal Sub Plan, which is supposed to be 8.6 % of the plan expenditure, is only 4.4% – a shortfall of Rs 24,000 crore. So is the allocation for Minorities.
The other worrying part of the budget is the “promise” of divestments of public sector, liberalising FDI in insurance and decentralising, read privatisation, of food grain procurement. All these measures would expose the Indian people to the vagaries of the global market.
Given that Indian exports are falling, so is industrial production, one expected the Finance Minister to increase spendings and stimulate the economy. Not only has that not happened, we have the sterile mantra of “fiscal responsibility” and reducing budget deficit as a goal.
It is nonsense to talk of this budget being pro-poor or pro farmer. All in all, this budget has the hall-mark of the current government – all hype, no substance.
Tribal sub Plan
The Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (Ambedkar Vada) would stage a protest here on Monday demanding that the government allocate adequate funds for the Special Component Plan (SCP) and Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) in the forthcoming state budget.
Addressing presspersons here on Saturday, state convener of the Samiti, Naganna Badiger, demanded that the government hold separate discussions on law and order and atrocities against Dalits in the session.
March 12 (Scoop News)- Ishfaq-ur-Rehman Poswal, BJP leader and national executive member ST Morcha on Thursday urged Governor NN Vohra to allocate funds for Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) in forthcoming budget meeting as per the population of tribal people in the state.
In a letter to Vohra, Poswal regretted that due to dearth of funds the directorate of tribal affairs formed by Vohra for betterment of tribal people some years before, was unable to do anything and resultantly tribal people were facing immense hardships.
“I urge you to allocate funds in budget meeting on March 15, to the directorate of tribal affairs under the directions of Niti Ayog and as per population of tribal people which was formed by you in 2007 in the state. The tribal people mostly in border towns are facing immense hardships and need urgent attention in this forthcoming budget,” Poswal said.
“That as per the guidelines of Niti Ayog, I make a humble submission that separate budget head be created for TSP or Directorate of Tribal Affairs. The funds allocation in forthcoming budget meeting is so important for the welfare of people and to address their issues,” he added.
The BJP leader said that due to improper implementation of tribal sub-plan, tribal people were at the receiving end and faced officialneglect all these years. “The funds have also been misappropriated from to time due to improper implementation of tribal sub plan. For the first time BJP government under dynamic leadership of Narendra Modi formed the tribal affairs ministry in JK for betterment of tribal people but unfortunately it faced shortage of funds. From 1990 to 2014, the successive governments in state completely ignored tribal people leaving them to face hardships,” he said.
In the letter Poswal mentioned, “I must mention here that you demonstrated great interest in forming the directorate of tribal affairs for the betterment of tribal people some years before but unfortunately the successive governments did not pay much attention to it which led to its failure.
Sedition, quota, caste: what engaged RSS on the first day of Nagaur meet
The RSS seems determined to keep the debate on “nationalism” raging. The issue of “anti-national activities” on university campuses dominated the first day of its Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha in Rajasthan’s Nagaur Saturday.
The Pratinidhi Sabha is the Sangh’s highest decision-making body and its annual meeting is called for reviewing the Hindutva organisation’s work over the year and chalking out the future plans. It’s also a platform for the RSS to reiterate and fine-tune its stand on several issues
As always, the meeting is being attended by the entire top brass of the Sangh, including its chief Mohan Bhagwat, as well as leaders of its various affiliates such as the BJP president Amit Shah.
The annual report of the Sangh, which was read out at the meeting Saturday, addressed the issue of “nationalism” in detail.
Calling for “strict action” against “the anti-social forces in our universities”, the report said “slogans calling for breaking up and destroying the country” cannot be tolerated.
“Reports about anti-national activities in certain universities have become a matter of concern for patriotic people. How can the guilty who had hatched the conspiracy to blow up parliament be honored as martyrs,” the report continued. “Such subversive elements have made the universities the centres of their activities for long. When we find certain political parties supporting such anti-national elements, the concern grows further.”
We’ll highlight the social evil of caste discrimination and ask people to help curb it: Manmohan Vaidya
The report alleged that “those who indulge in such anti-national activities” have no faith in the Constitution, the judiciary and parliament. It noted with satisfaction, however, that “the moment reports about these incidents became public, there was all around condemnation from everywhere.”
While it was unequivocal on its stand on nationalism, the discourse on caste triggered by the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula and the Jat agitation in Haryana has visibly caused unease within the Sangh.
At its meeting last year, the Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha had passed a resolution for the eradication of caste discrimination. A similar resolution is set to be passed this year as well.
“Caste discrimination in our country should be abolished. There should be harmony in our social conduct. Our resolution will highlight this social evil and call upon people to play a constructive role in curbing it,” the Sangh’s spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya told the media before the meeting.
This issue is especially crucial for the Sangh given that impending assembly election in Uttar Pradesh, where caste equations decide the outcome. In fact, to woo the lower caste voters, the Sangh has gone out of their way in recent times to claim the legacy of Dalit icons like BR Ambedkar.
But its ambitious “one well, one temple, one crematorium” for all Hindus plan has been a non-starter, despite last year’s Pratinidhi Sabha in Nagpur passing a resolution for its implementation.
This year’s meeting “will consider ways to give the plan a fresh impetus”, with the Sangh leaders likely to assign this responsibility to local shakha functionaries.
The meeting also took up the issue of reservation in the wake of the Jat agitation. Incidentally, Nagaur, where the meeting is being held, is a Jat dominated area.
The issue of caste-based quotas has for long been the Sangh’s bugbear. Although Bhagwat’s controversial remarks on reservation were widely considered to have damaged the BJP’s prospects in the Bihar election last year, the RSS hasn’t softened its tough stance against reservation.
The Pratinidhi Sabha’s report stated, “Violent agitations in Gujarat and Haryana for reservations are not only a challenge to the administrative machinery, they also weaken social harmony and trust. There mustn’t be injustice towards anybody, but the society has to remain vigilant and the administration should take strict action on the persons and organisations engaged in anti-national activities in a planned manner.”
Gender, religious freedom
Another issue that kept the Sabha engaged on the first day was women’s entry into certain temples and communal clashes.
According to the report, women demanding entry into some temples “is an unsavory controversy” raised by “elements inimical to the well-being of the society”. The row should be resolved, the report added, by bringing about a “change in mindsets through proper discussions”.
The report also alleged that “communal incidents like in Malda” have become “endemic” and several cases of “looting and burning of business establishments, especially of Hindus, have taken place” in recent times.
A key issue to be discussed during the meeting is “the state of education”. It has already passed a resolution calling for “affordable and quality education for all”. It’s aimed at conveying the RSS’ priorities to the government before the announcement of the new education policy.
This could ruffle a few feathers as the Sangh stands accused of influencing the country’s education policy to suit its ideological agenda of saffronisation.
Indeed, the resolution states, “The Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha believes in a value-based, nationalistic, career-oriented and skill-enhancing education for all. The teachers of government and private schools need to be trained accordingly. They must be paid better salaries and a sense of duty must be inculcated among them.”
“The society has traditionally played a key role in imparting a cheap and qualitative education to the masses. All socio-religious groups, corporates, academicians and eminent personalities must take up this responsibility.”
RSS divides India into 60,000 10-village blocks, plans to set up a shakha in every block by year-end
Another important resolution is expected to call upon the Narendra Modi government to “ensure access to healthcare facilities for all, especially the deprived sections”.
The meeting is also likely to discuss the strategy for the upcoming assembly elections in five states.
Other key agendas include the celebration of the 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar on 14 April, the centenaries of Hindutva icons Balasaheb Deoras and Deen Dayal Upadhyay and the 1000th birth anniversary of the South Indian saint Ramanujacharaya.
The Pratinidhi Sabha is also taking stock of the RSS’ expansion plans in various parts of the country. The Sangh claims to have presence in nearly 95% of India’s districts. According to its senior leader Krishan Gopal, the RSS has increased its shakhas from 40,922 in 2012 to 51,335 in 2015. The organisation is currently running 56,859 shakhas.
The plan now is to have a shakha in every village of the country. For this purpose, the RSS has divided the country’s nearly 6 lakh villages into 60 thousand blocks of 10 villages each. The immediate goal is to set up one shakha in every block by the end of this year.
The Sangh elders believe the political environment is favourable to undertake such a project as the BJP is in power at the Centre as well as in several major states.
The proposal to change the uniform for its cadre – replacing the Khaki shorts with blue trousers – is in keeping with this strategy, aimed as it’s to attract the youth to the organisation.
News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET