Dalit schoolgirl alleges rape, teacher on the run – Nyoooz
Dalit set to embrace Islam alleges threat from ‘Bajrang Dal’ – The Indian express
Among Dalits, a restlessness mainstream parties choose to ignore – The Indian express
The fatal accident of birth – The hindu
Dalit girl case: Raje slams Rahul – Business standard
In Punjab, BJP’s Dalit face ‘not invited’ to Ambedkar programme – The Indian express
Never mind the fanfare around Ambedkar’s 125th anniversary, Dalits want details of the caste census – Scroll. In
Gujarat dalits: fighting for small mercies – The times of india
Only cultivable land being given to Dalits: Harish Rao – The hindu
Jagan blames Naidu for neglecting SCs, STs – Nyoooz
KG-to-PG from June; KCR chides Oppn leaders – Nyoooz
Providing a voice to the dispossessed majority – The Hindu
प्राइम टाइम : भीम गीतों में प्रतिरोध के स्वर
Dontha Prashanth (University of Hyderabad) at Pratirodh 2
Note: Please find attachment for DMW Hindi (PDF)
Dalit schoolgirl alleges rape, teacher on the run
Summary: Family members allege that the teacher had threatened her of dire consequences if she told anyone about it. JAIPUR: Family members of a 14-year-old Dalit girl approached the police on Thursday alleging that her school teacher had been sexually exploiting their daughter for the past four months on the pretext of taking lessons after school hours. The incident has been reported from Jhunjhunu’s Chidawa area.The incident came to light after the girl got pregnant. A medical exam was done on the girl on Thursday.We are awaiting the report.Her statement will be recorded before a magistrate,” said the officer. Police said the 45-year-old accused teacher is on the run.According to a police offi cer, the girl, a resident of a village in Chidawa area, is a Class 8 student.
JAIPUR: Family members of a 14-year-old Dalit girl approached the police on Thursday alleging that her school teacher had been sexually exploiting their daughter for the past four months on the pretext of taking lessons after school hours. The incident has been reported from Jhunjhunu’s Chidawa area.The incident came to light after the girl got pregnant. Police said the 45-year-old accused teacher is on the run.According to a police offi cer, the girl, a resident of a village in Chidawa area, is a Class 8 student.
“Rajesh Sharma raped the girl for the first time in January,” said the officer. Family members allege that the teacher had threatened her of dire consequences if she told anyone about it.”We have registered a case under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO) and have launched an investigation. A medical exam was done on the girl on Thursday.We are awaiting the report.Her statement will be recorded before a magistrate,” said the officer.
The Indian express
Dalit set to embrace Islam alleges threat from ‘Bajrang Dal’
The Dalit in-charge sarpanch of a Porbandar village on Thursday alleged that he was threatened by “Bajrang Dal members” hours before his planned conversion to Islam in public, which could not take place after police denied permission for the ceremony. Suman Chavda (40), in-charge sarpanch of Vinzarana village who had moved to Porbandar town two years ago alleging threats from the then sarpanch, was allowed to convert to Islam by the district collector on April 12 under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act. Following the permission, Chavda announced to embrace Islam Thursday during a ceremony slated to be held at Ambedkar Park near Nava Fuvara in Porbandar.
Police, however, denied permission for the ceremony, citing security reasons and events to mark the 125th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar, but booked three people for allegedly threatening Chavda. According to Chavda, when he was putting up banners of the events to mark Ambedkar Jayanti past Wednesday midnight near the office of Porbandar SP, three people on motorcycle asked him whether he had permission to do so, and threatened him with dire consequences. An FIR has been filed against one Nilesh Kharva and two unidentified men for criminal intimidation and insulting a member of the Scheduled Caste community. Later, against the police opinion, Chavda reached Ambedkar Park, but he was not allowed to hold the conversion ceremony. “Due to pressure from authorities, hooligans and politicians, my religious guru Vasim Raza and supporters Haji Ibrahim Umar and Hafiz Habib were not allowed to come here. In the name of security, they have sent a police constable with me… But preventing me from embracing Islam even after due permission is an atrocity,” he told The Indian Express. However, Porbandar SP Tarun Duggal said: “He wanted his conversion ceremony at Ambedkar Park on April 14, but a lot of people gathered there due to Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations. Therefore, we denied him the permission. He was sitting there, but no ceremony could take place.” Porbandar District Collector Dinesh Patel, while allowing his application, too had asked him not to plan any conversion ceremony at Ambedkar Park. He termed Chavda’s actions as “drama”. Chavda had filed plea for conversion before the District Collector last August, alleging discrimination by the upper caste Hindus. He had also appealed to the Collector to declare his migration “forced”. While Chavda now lives in a tent at Sitaramnagar slum of Porbandar with the help of friends and well-wishers, his parents and younger brother, who is a mason, still live in Vinzarana. When asked about Chavda being “forced” to live in Porbandar, the Collector said, “He is himself sarpanch of the village and is free to live wherever he wants. But he has some political problems.” According to Chavda, who uses crutches to walk after injuries due to an attack on him allegedly by the “henchmen” of former sarpanch Natha Modhwadia in 2013, he moved to Porbandar town due to threat to his life from the former sarpanch. Chavda was then deputy sarpanch. Following an FIR and subsequent chargesheet in connection with the attack, Modhwadia was removed as sarpanch of the gram panchayat and Chavda was made in-charge sarpanch. He was also given police cover, but now it has been withdrawn. He cited two events which led to bad blood between the two — first, when he refused to dispose of an animal carcass and second, reply to an RTI query which revealed “corruption” by Modhwadia. Vinzarana has a population of around 1,500 of whom around 500 are Dalits. But, the majority is the Mer community to which Modhwadia belongs.
The Indian express
Among Dalits, a restlessness mainstream parties choose to ignore
At the big Valimiki Basti adjoining Feroze Shah Kotla, in the heart of the national capital, Pradeep, a safai karamchari (cleaner) with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), isn’t sure what all the fuss is. “Ambedkar Jayanti? What’s that? Woh to Chama**n ki hoti hai. Hum thode hi… (Jatavs celebrate that; we don’t), ” he says.
Rakesh Nath, another safai karmchari, is certain the anniversary fell on Thursday. yesterday). After all, “some people were distributing gifts, sweets yesterday.” Chahat Raj, an 18-year-old aspirant gym-trainer with bulging biceps, cannot recall who Ambedkar was. “Something was there (on Ambedkar) in school. Yaad nahin (can’t recall).”
The slum cluster of nearly 400 homes of Valmiki, a major caste under the Scheduled Castes (SC) category, underlines the inherent irony of Dalit politics today. It also reinforces Ambedkar’s wisdom that divided in myriad castes, Hinduism finds little to unite.
Another aspect of this irony vibrates in Delhi’s renowned Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), where three SC youths, cramped in a hostel room, are busy writing a paper. The campus has recently seen a pulsating union of “Jai Bhim” and “Lal Salaam”, followers of Ambedkar and Lenin, now seemingly evolving on many campuses across the country. The trio, leaders of Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA), disagree — completely. “Murder of Social Justice: The unity of Left and Ambedkaraites cannot be built on the carcass of social justice,” the paper’s title reads. “The present JNUSU under the leadership of Kanhaiya Kumar has lost its legitimacy for us,” a sentence notes, listing how Kumar and his AISF, the students’ wing of the Communist Party of India, have destroyed the Dalit cause. “What you hear about JNU from outside, slogans like ‘Brahamanvad Murdabad’, is superficial. This campus has as much discrimination against Dalits as any other place. Kanhaiya talks about the Left and Dalit unity but did not even table our concerns at the board meeting. The Left makes rhetoric, but does little for Dalits,” says Uday, a BAPSA member.
Odisha resident Chinmaya, a co-founder of BAPSA, is doing his PhD on Ambedkar and Lenin. “The Left has never understood the caste system,” he says, and cites RTI data: between 2008 and ’15, only 64 SC, 28 ST and 108 OBC students were directly admitted to PhD programmes in JNU. This, against 677 students of General categories. “Most of the seats for SC students and teachers are vacant here,” they say.
The mood echoes in a band of teenage girls of Karol Bagh — Daughters of Savitri Band, they call their team. Savitri Phule was a noted social reformer. “Teri ankhon men aansoo hain, tere sine men shole hain. (Your eyes are full of tears. There is a fire burning in your chest),” they sing at a rally on Ambedkar at Jantar Mantar, where people from across the country have assembled to pay homage to the political India’s latest icon. They know a bit about Ambedkar, mock the government’s celebrations, and assert that discrimination exists all over. “The nature of discrimination has changed from what it was during his (Ambedkar) time, but it exists. In school, we are made to sit separately. Teachers humiliate our parents,” says Anjana, doing BCom from Open School. Shilpa, who recently took the Class XII Boards, says: “Even today it’s a Dalit who sweeps. Why doesn’t any upper caste (person) clean gutters? If governments really want to do something for us, they must stop hiring Dalits for scavenging and sweeping.” Move across Dalit bastis and it becomes clear that barring those affiliated to political parties, most SCs have little hopes from politicians. “The BJP doesn’t like Dalits — let’s be clear on that,” says Sanjay Pawar, a safai karmchari who lives in a JJ Camp at Dhaula Kuan and has assembled with community members at Delhi government’s event on Ambedkar at Talkatora Stadium. When reminded that the RSS runs Samrasta programmes for SCs, Ram Kishan says, “They are lying. Theirs is a Brahmanical order. They come only for their interests.”
Pointing out that politicians’ love for Ambedkar is recent, Pawar says: “When Mayawati talked about Ambedkar earlier, all politicians abused her. Now, everyone is suddenly talking about Ambdekar. It’s opportunism, of course.” Such is the anguish against the system that even government employees do not hesitate in speaking out against the establishment. Kamal Singh, general secretary of Post and Telegraph SC/ST Employers Association, says: “Congress, BJP or AAP, no one is concerned about us. They have stalled several Bills for our welfare.” About PM Narendra Modi’s rally in Mhow, he says it’s a sure sign the ABJP is “scared”. “They have recently lost three major elections. Now they need our votes. Therefore they suddenly remember Babasaheb.” He, like many other SCs The Indian Express spoke to today, asserts that welfare of Dalits is not possible in the Hindu fold, an argument Ambedkar had made nearly a century ago. The mainstream political parties are aware of this restlessness, but perhaps choose to remain ignorant.
They continue to make themselves believe that he was “essentially a Hindu”, a claim loudly forwarded by the RSS, but denied by his followers. Obviously then, while the show went on across the country, at the party headquarters, the BJP had a small tribute to Ambedkar. Congress did not hold even a perfunctory photo-garlanding formality at 24, Akbar Road.
The fatal accident of birth
On Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary, look closely at this year’s defining image of Dalit struggle and aspiration. It is a photograph of the late Rohith Vemula, carrying Ambedkar’s portrait out of the Hyderabad Central University hostel. Rohith, who was evicted along with his friends, spent the next fortnight on the pavement outside the university, in a makeshift tent decorated with that portrait.
If you look again at the photograph, the expression on Rohith’s face seems to be one of frustration and grief at a fall from grace. He was ousted from the only place that had protected him and afforded him shelter as a matter of right. When he was thrown out, he lacked privacy even to commit suicide. In his suicide note, he apologised to “Uma anna”, whose room he had borrowed to die in. A scholar without a university hall of residence, his stipend denied for seven months, his debts mounting and no discernible end in sight, Rohith chose to end his life. A life snuffed out, by a fatal accident of birth.
Ambedkar’s life too saw him being denied a place to live in. In a speech, he narrated how: “With a scholarship granted by Baroda State, I had gone for education abroad. After returning from England, in accordance with the terms of the agreement, I came to serve under the Baroda Durbar… Neither a Hindu nor any Muslim was prepared to rent out a house to me in the city of Baroda… I decided to get accommodation in a Parsi Dharamsala. After having stayed in America and England, I had developed a fair complexion and an impressive personality. Giving myself a Parsi name, ‘Adalji Sorabji’, I began to live in the Parsi Dharamsala… But soon the people got wind of the fact that His Highness the Maharaja Gaekwad of Baroda had appointed a Mahar boy as an officer in his Durbar… my secret was soon out.” Ambedkar had to resign and leave for Bombay.
Now look at the photograph yet again, you will now see how little things have changed in India since Ambedkar himself walked the path towards education and constitutional change. Almost every story of oppression, of an upwardly mobile Dalit who manages to survive India’s culture of silent acquiescence, is the story of an aspiration for learning running aground on the fatal accident of the protagonist’s birth. In the Mahabharata, we have the story of Dronacharya asking Ekalavya for a sacrifice of his archer’s thumb, simply because a boy from the non-warrior caste could not have learnt the arts of war. In the Ramayana, the Shudra ascetic Shambuka was killed by Lord Rama for performing penances which were reserved for those of priestly birth.
In his lecture on ‘Annihilation of Caste’, Ambedkar wrote: “Some people seem to blame Rama because he wantonly and without reason killed Shambuka. But to blame Rama for killing Shambuka is to misunderstand the whole situation. Ram Raj was a Raj based on Chaturvarnya. As a king, Rama was bound to maintain Chaturvarnya. It was his duty therefore to kill Shambuka, the Shudra, who had transgressed his class and wanted to be a Brahmin… But this also shows that penal sanction is necessary for the maintenance of Chaturvarnya. Not only penal sanction is necessary, but penalty of death is necessary. That is why Rama did not inflict on Shambuka a lesser punishment. That is why Manu-Smriti prescribes such heavy sentences as cutting off the tongue or pouring of molten lead in the ears of the Shudra who recites or hears the Veda.”
Ambedkar recognised that an egalitarian society could never be built on a foundation of caste-classified occupations. He wanted that “the supporters of Chaturvarnya must give an assurance that they could successfully classify men and they could induce modern society in the twentieth century to reforge the penal sanctions of Manu-Smriti”. The supporters that Ambedkar referred to included Mahatma Gandhi who, to many a Hindu of 1936, was “an oracle, so great that when he opens his lips it is expected that the argument must close and no dog must bark”. Ambedkar, however, persisted, in his argument, because he felt that “the world owes much to rebels who would dare to argue in the face of the pontiff and insist that he is not infallible”.
Caste and the nation
A decade later, when it fell to Ambedkar’s lot to draw up a Constitution for the Republic, he not only banned untouchability in all its forms but sought effective safeguards to enforce equality of opportunity to those who were hitherto deprived. In his memorandum to the Constituent Assembly he explained the safeguards “to mean that the Scheduled Castes are more than a minority and that any protection given to the citizens and to the minorities will not be adequate for the Scheduled Castes”. In his speech to the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949, he warned, “I am of the opinion that in believing that we are a nation, we are cherishing a great delusion. How can people divided into several thousands of castes be a nation? The United States has no caste problem. In India there are castes. The castes are anti-national. In the first place because they bring about separation in social life. They are anti-national also because they generate jealousy and antipathy between caste and caste. But we must overcome all these difficulties if we wish to become a nation in reality. For fraternity can be a fact only when there is a nation. Without fraternity, equality and liberty will be no deeper than coats of paint.”
Was Ambedkar satisfied with his engrafting of liberty, equality and fraternity into the national scripture? The evidence is ambiguous. Five years on, Dr. Anup Singh, a Rajya Sabha member from Punjab, asked Ambedkar, “Last time when you spoke, you said that you would burn the Constitution.” Ambedkar retorted, “The reason is this: We built a temple for god to come in and reside, but before the god could be installed, if the devil had taken possession of it, what else could we do except destroy the temple? We did not intend that it should be occupied by the Asuras. We intended it to be occupied by the Devas. That’s the reason why I said I would rather like to burn it.”
Ambedkar’s Constitution, the cornerstone of our nation, was described by the American author Granville Austen as “first and foremost a social document”. “The majority of India’s constitutional provisions are either directly arrived at furthering the aim of social revolution or attempt to foster this revolution by establishing conditions necessary for its achievement,” he said.
Today, on his 125th birth anniversary, we have to evaluate Ambedkar’s legacy by asking whether a social revolution has at all come about through constitutional means. Has our national life over the past sixty-six years of the Republic fostered a sense of Indian fraternity? Are our commitments to liberty and equality mere coats of paint over foundational flaws? There are no easy answers. We have moved a few Dalits from the cesspools built over centuries to colleges and universities. But we neither welcome them there nor do we accept them into our workplaces. Like Ambedkar who was kept “slightly apart” in his school, our less-privileged brothers are kept in a “reserved” status, which is separate and inherently unequal.
A true tribute to Ambedkar on his 125th anniversary would be to ensure that the value of a Rohith Vemula is not hereafter “reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing”.
Dalit girl case: Raje slams Rahul
Hitting back at Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi for targeting her government over the case of the 17-year-old Dalit girl who was allegedly raped and found dead under mysterious circumstances, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje today questioned his party’s track record of mitigating Dalit atrocities when it was in power in the state.
Addressing a public rally to mark Babasaheb Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary at Mundla village here, she said a prompt investigation was conducted in the case which occurred in Bikaner district.
“We ordered the police to probe the matter expeditiously and in a fair manner and all the accused have been arrested.
“If the girl’s family members want, the case can be at once transferred to CBI,” she said even as she questioned why the previous Congress government in Rajasthan had not asked the central probe agency to investigate cases of alleged atrocities against Dalits.
“For 60 years, Congress has been using Dalits and other marginalised communities as vote banks,” she claimed.
“That is the difference between BJP and Congress. Congress remembers Dalits only at the time of elections,” she added.
The chief minister earlier attended an event organised by Ambedkar Welfare Society, Rajasthan, where she said her government would provide funds for the body to build of a conference hall. Rajasthan Higher Education Minister Kalicharan Saraf for his part offered Rs 10 lakh to the Society out of his MLA funds.
Gandhi had yesterday charged that efforts were being made to suppress the case of rape of the Dalit girl and said that CBI should probe the incident.
The minor girl’s body was recovered on March 30 from a water bank on the premises of her college.
On the intervening night of March 28-29, she was found by her hostel warden in the room of the college’s physical trainer, who was arrested and booked in the case under IPC section 376 (rape) and other relevant sections of SC, ST and POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act.
The Indian express
In Punjab, BJP’s Dalit face ‘not invited’ to Ambedkar programme
Newly-anointed Punjab BJP president and the party’s most prominent Dalit face in Punjab, Vijay Sampla, was allegedly not invited to a state-level function organised by the party Thursday to mark the 125th birth anniversary of the Dalit icon. The function was organised in Phagwara, part of Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha constituency, which Sampla represents. And the timing couldn’t have been worse since this was the first formal party function held a day after Sampla took over as state chief in Chandigarh.
Sampla, who belongs to the Avinash Rai Khanna faction of Punjab BJP, was made the president of the state unit primarily to expand the base of the party and reach out to Dalits, who comprise nearly 40 per cent of voters in Doaba region. The Kamal Sharma faction to which Phagwara MLA and chief parliamentary secretary Som Parkash belongs, had opposed his elevation. Som Parkash was himself a contender for the Hoshiarpur LS ticket in 2014, which was bagged by Sampla, who won and became a Union Minister of State.
Several Akali and BJP leaders from Doaba and elsewhere, including education minister Dr Daljit S Cheema, tourism minister Sohan S Thandal, chief parliamentary secretaries Mohinder Kaur Josh and Pawan Kumar Tinu, MLA from Kartarpur, Sarwan S Phillaur, were among prominent invitees, even as the local MP, Sampla, was conspicuous by his absence.
Kapurthala DC, Jaskiran Singh said it was a state-level function organised by the district administration and that the formal invite had been sent to Sampla but there was no response from him.
Phagwara BJP MLA and CPS Som Parkash said he had personally telephoned Sampla to invite him but the Union Minister had expressed his inability to attend the event.
However, Sampla was in Hoshiarpur Thursday. He conducted a roadshow and also attended a function organised by the party to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar, as part of 10-day celebrations.
The function turned out to be a damp squib, with the gathering being less than impressive. The few who turned up left midway. Sampla was missing from the advertisement that appeared in local papers Thursday announcing the function, too.
Despite repeated attempts to contact him, Sampla was unavailable for comment. His nephew, Ashu Sampla, told The Indian Express that the state BJP president wasn’t invited to the Phagwara function. He said that being the state President, a Union Minister of State as well as the local MP, he should have been at the top in the list of invitees.
It may be noted that with Sampla’s appointment, the BJP has made it clear that it wants to target Dalit votes, but internal factionalism may mar the party’s prospects in 2017.
Never mind the fanfare around Ambedkar’s 125th anniversary, Dalits want details of the caste census
Today is Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary. Many have garlanded Ambedkar statues, and political leaders have delivered strategically-worded eulogies with fanfare, but most Dalit intellectuals believe this is nothing but despicable lip service to the architect of the Indian Constitution. After all, atrocities and discrimination against Dalits and tribals continue with impunity decades after Independence as they are denied dignity, jobs, livelihoods and even life.
Thus, on the quasquicentennial of one of the world’s most forward thinkers, who also belonged to one of the most depressed classes in India, Dalit and Left Ambedkarite activists want the answer to just one question: Why has the government of India not released all the data for the Socio-Economic and Caste Census data, 2011?
Initiated in 2011, the Socio-Economic and Caste Census, also known simply as the caste census, was the first census of its kind in Independent India. It aimed to survey rural and urban populations on their socio-economic characteristics such as ownership of land, houses, vehicles, farm equipment, as well as their caste.
According to bits and pieces of the census released over the past years, there are nearly 6.86 crore landless households in India. Of these, nearly 1.81 crore are Scheduled Caste households, and nearly 70 lakh are Scheduled Tribe households. “Who are the other 4.34 crore landless households?” asked Kuffir Nalgundwar, a Dalit-Bahujan writer and activist. “They’re definitely not Brahmin-Savarnas.”
Similarly, Nalgundwar pointed out that the census revealed that over 13 crore rural households earn less than 5,000 per month. Of them, 2.7 crore are SC households [83% of all rural SC households], 1.7 crore of them are ST households [86% of all rural ST households], and other households are 8.9 crore [the great majority of them are likely Other Backward Caste or OBC households].
Many believe that a detailed break-up of the unassuming term “others” may reveal that Other Backward Classes have a higher proportion than what the current reservation policy accounts for, which is based on data from the last caste census in 1931. Many reckon that the government is not releasing further details of the 2011 caste census because it fears the revised data will open the floodgates of demands for an increase in reservations corresponding to the new caste numbers. (It is worth noting here that a Scroll.in report last year pointed out that while opposition parties accused the government of holding back caste data for political reasons, there could be administrative reasons too, as ministry records showed concerns over discrepancies in data in the decennial population census and the caste census.)
Tathagata Sengupta, assistant professor at the School of Mathematics and Statistics in the University of Hyderabad, said that the silence of authorities on the caste census was a terrible lapse. “The SECC is incomplete, and in fact, has been pushed under the rug,” said Sengupta. “Mostly what it talks about is data related to income, standards of living and land-ownership patterns. But it does not talk at all about the caste-composition of all of these economic categories.”
Sengupta, who was arrested during the recent agitation against Hyderabad University vice-chancellor Appa Rao Podile, said that many anti-caste social movements had demanded a caste census as they believed a revised caste-wise estimate of the population would enable the government to review reservation policies, and analyse the relations between caste and economic status. “We demand the SECC 2011 data to be made public immediately!” he said.
But instead of revealing caste census data, activists feel that the government has steered the debate towards the issue of merit and whether caste-based reservations in education and employment are really required. Thus, it has succeeded in hiding basic information about how caste still operates. It has also encouraged a flimsy debate on reservation, thereby, trivialising the need for justice and equal opportunity. This means that the real issues – of who holds jobs, who owns the land, who has rights over resources, and the like ensconced in the caste census – have been sidelined.
Nalgundwar said Dalits had been duped into participating in a debate in which the agenda and rules were set by the upper castes. “We’ve been trapped into discussing reservations, into debating whether we should have the right to live,” he said. “We’ve been trapped into thinking we face a rational adversary. We’ve been trapped into aiming for social justice, and not getting even social recognition.”
Nalgundwar added that Dalit-Bahujans had been forced into a “Hardik Patel moment”, whereby “we’ve led ourselves into a battleground where both the agenda for discussion and the rules of engagement have been laid down by the ruling classes, or the governing classes as Babasaheb called them.” Hardik Patel is the leader of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, who is currently in a Gujarat jail charged with sedition following his agitation for quotas in government jobs and educational institutions for members of the Patel community, considered to be a forward caste.
We don’t need to discuss Patel, said Nagundwar. “It’s the caste census that we need to discuss… almost 25 years after Rajiv Gandhi ridiculed the Mandal Commission, demanding where’s the data?”
Karthik Navayana Battula, a human rights activist, said suppressing the caste numbers helped the governing classes to “hide ugly social realities such as disproportionately occupied land wealth and public employment.” Conversely, releasing the data would reveal the backwardness, unemployment, and the marginalised social status of some castes. “Hiding caste census is in the interest of some castes and releasing caste census is in the interest of some castes,” Battula said.
Nalgundwar also pointed to the irony in forward castes now demanding reservations. “If you piece together the facts, you get a picture of total irrationality,” he said. “The Brahminised classes oppose reservations for most marginalised groups among all categories, but unitedly support reservations for powerful communities such as Marathas, Jats, Patels, Lingayats, Gounders, Khandayats, Kapus, Nairs and Reddys and Velamas.”
“We’re the servile class, as Dr Ambedkar said, in the eyes of the governing class,” said Nalgundwar. “We’re to be subjected to policy, to schemes, subsidies, sops. We need to discuss how to change that whereas the topic is absent everywhere – civil society, media, education. If the universities knew something about caste, or were interested in learning about it, they’d start with demanding a caste census.”
Nalgundwar quoted Ambedkar to make a point. In “A Plea to the Foreigner”, Ambedkar laid down some ground rules for the ideal Indian Constitution:
The principal aim of such a Constitution must be to dislodge the governing class from its position and to prevent it from remaining as a governing class.
“Shouldn’t that be our aim?” asked Nalgundwar. “Why don’t they insist on scrapping reservations altogether, why do they talk only of ending caste-based reservations? Because reservations save the ruling classes from definite violent resistance, while offering minor relief to the Dalit-Bahujans. I repeat, reservations save the Brahmin-Savarnas, not the Dalit-Bahujans.”
He added: “It is important that the caste census is released ASAP.”
However, it remains to be seen if the government will pay heed. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent speech at a “Stand Up India” event, which stressed on merit a number of times, is any indication, the government is unlikely to release the data anytime soon.
The times of india
Gujarat dalits: fighting for small mercies
GANDHINAGAR: Chief minister Anandiben Patel called Dr B R Ambedkar a true national icon at the award ceremony for dalit activists and achievers held in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. But her government hasn’t done enough for welfare of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Schedule Tribes ( S T ) . The government has failed to allocation adequate funds for dalit welfare, remove encroachments from dalit land, ensure entry of Scheduled Castes into temples, and expedite disposal of Atrocity Cases.
In its reply to a PIL filed by dalit rights activist Jignesh Mewani, the Gujarat government had expressed its inability to remove encroachments from government land allotted to dalits. Such encroachments are themselves a crime under the Atrocities Act. Following amendment in the Act, punishment for this offence is 10 years in jail. However, not a single case has been registered in the four villages mentioned in the PIL.
Constitution ignored in allocations
The Constitution expects every state to allocate in its annual budget funds for SC and ST sub-plan in proportion to the latter’s population in the state. Gujarat government has ignored this provision In 2015-16, against the total plan size of Rs 79,295 crore, the Gujarat government was expected to allocate Rs 5,622 crore under SC special component plan and Rs 11,696 crore under the Tribal Sub Plan. However, it allocated Rs 3,947.17 cr and Rs 10,247 cr, respectively.
Only cultivable land being given to Dalits: Harish Rao
rrigation Minister T. Harish Rao called upon the people to follow the path shown by Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar as a true tribute to the leader.
Participating in the birth anniversary celebrations of Dr. Ambedkar held in Sangareddy on Thursday, Mr. Rao said that plans were ready to provide KG to PG education, and cosmetic charges for students would be increased from the next academic year. Informing that all the SC, ST and BC schools would be residential schools in the future, he said that as much as 1,236 acres was extended to Dalits at a cost of Rs. 70 crore.
“We are providing only cultivable land to the Dalits and no other land is being procured. Medak district stood first in the State in providing land to Dalits,” he said, adding that as much as Rs. 400 crore was sanctioned for implementing the Kalyana Lakshmi scheme. Stating that as many as 11 minority residential schools were sanctioned for Medak district out of 70 sanctioned in the State, the Minister said that minorities should use the opportunity being provided by the government.
The Minister also distributed 123.39 acres of land to Dalits on this occasion. He also announced sanctioning of Phule Bhavan to Sangareddy, and two degree residential colleges.
MP B.B. Patil, MLA Chinta Prabhakar and others participated in the programme.
‘Govt. committed to justice’
Warangal Special Correspondent adds: District Collector Vakati Karuna exhorted people to remember the life and works of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the chairman of the drafting committee of the Indian Constitution.
Taking part in Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations here on Thursday, the Collector said it was his wish to build a socially equal society, and ensured special provisions to certain communities to empower them. The visionary should be remembered and one should strive to perpetuate ideals of Dr. Ambedkar for the next generation, he said.
City Police Commissioner G. Sudheer Babu lauded the contributions of Dr. Ambedkar and wanted people to build a good career. MLA D. Vinay Bhaskar said his government was committed for justice to all communities and would follow the ideals of B.R. Ambedkar in letter and spirit.
Bharatiya Dalit Sahitya Academy district president M. Jithender, garlanding the statue of Dr. Ambedkar at Babu camp colony in Kazipet, said it was delightful to note that the U.N. has declared his birth anniversary as World Knowledge Day.
A similar function was held at Kakatiya University, NPDCL head office, TSRTC, CITU and various other organisation across the district.
Nizamabad Special Correspondent adds: The 125th birth anniversary of the architect of the Indian Constitution was celebrated on a grand scale across the district on Thursday. All sections of people, including political parties and organisations, paid rich tributes to him by garlanding his statue at Phulong chowrasta here.
Minister for Agriculture Pocharam Srinivas Reddy led the elected representatives and officials in paying homage to Dr. Ambedkar. At an official function held at Rajiv Gandhi Auditorium, he described Ambedkar as a social revolutionary and messiah of the oppressed. The drafting committee of the Constitution led by him had given one of the best statutes in the world, he said.
Zilla Parishad chairman D. Raju, Mayor Akula Sujatha, MLCs V.G. Goud, Akula Lalitha and R. Bhoopathi Reddy, Collector Yogitha Rana, Joint Collector A. Ravinder Reddy, Superintendent of Police S. Chandrashekar Reddy and others spoke on the occasion. Local MLA Bigala Gasnesh Gupta presided over the meeting.
Earlier, they all garlanded the statue of Dr. Ambedkar at Phulong chowrasta and his portrait at the auditorium. They also distributed cash benefits to couples who entered into inter-caste wedlock and also other beneficiaries. In a separate programme, Telangana University students wearing special robes took out a rally from the varsity campus at Dichpally to Ambedkar statue where registrar Prof. R. Limbadri and principal Prof. P. Kanakaiah paid homage.
Jagan blames Naidu for neglecting SCs, STs
Summary: Mr. Naidu had mocked the Constitution by not allocating and spending adequate funds for their welfareYSR Congress Party president Y.S. Naidu, known for pursuing `use and throw policy’, forgot the promises made to the SCs and the STs. But, Mr. Naidu had mocked the Constitution by not allocating and spending adequate funds for their welfare, he alleged. Jaganmohan Reddy has criticised Telugu Desam Party president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu for side stepping the Constitution on welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The manner in which the ruling TDP was luring the Opposition MLAs was tantamount to insulting the Constitution, he added.
Mr. Naidu had mocked the Constitution by not allocating and spending adequate funds for their welfare YSR Congress Party president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy has criticised Telugu Desam Party president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N.
Chandrababu Naidu for side stepping the Constitution on welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The State Government is not implementing the constitutional provisions aimed at benefiting the marginalised sections in letter and spirit, he alleged. “Mr. Naidu, known for pursuing `use and throw policy’, forgot the promises made to the SCs and the STs. His contempt towards the downtrodden communities was evident from his reported remark that no one would like to take birth among the Scheduled Castes,” the YSRC president said.Pays tributes Mr.
KG-to-PG from June; KCR chides Oppn leaders
Summary: Speaking on the occasion, KCR took potshots at the Opposition parties for criticizing the government on the delay of the KG-to-PG scheme. “We have already announced 75 minority institutions and a total of 250 institutions under KG-to-PG scheme which will begin now”, he reiterated. The Chief Minister disclosed this after laying foundation stone for installation of a 125ft tall Ambedkar Statue at Hill Rock area on NTR Gardens premises here. “Some leaders and others spoke nonsense on the issue and the government was determined to launch the program with a month’s delay this academic year”, KCR alleged. The much-hyped KG-to-PG scheme is all set to take wings from June this academic year 2016-17 with a total of 250 new educational institutions under Gurukul model, according to Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.
The much-hyped KG-to-PG scheme is all set to take wings from June this academic year 2016-17 with a total of 250 new educational institutions under Gurukul model, according to Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. The Chief Minister disclosed this after laying foundation stone for installation of a 125ft tall Ambedkar Statue at Hill Rock area on NTR Gardens premises here. Speaking on the occasion, KCR took potshots at the Opposition parties for criticizing the government on the delay of the KG-to-PG scheme. “Some leaders and others spoke nonsense on the issue and the government was determined to launch the program with a month’s delay this academic year”, KCR alleged.
“Though the successive governments ignoed the plight of the Dalits, STs, Minorities and Backward Classes, the TRS Government will do its best to provide them all amenities, facilities and jobs to protect their rights. Reacting to Deputy Chief Minister Kadiam Srihari’s appeal, KCR announced that 100 institutions for Dalit girls, 25 for residential degree colleges for Dalits and the rest for others will be launched this June or a month later. “We have already announced 75 minority institutions and a total of 250 institutions under KG-to-PG scheme which will begin now”, he reiterated. “The State government was ready to trek the path shown by Dr Ambedkar and spend required funds for these institutions to offer quality education and provide employment”, KCR said, adding that Rs 8 crore will be spent for Center for Dalit Studies. Appreciating KCR for planning to install a 125ft tall statue of Dr Ambedkar, Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatraya stated that the United Nations was also celebrating Ambedkar Jayanthi in a big way.
Providing a voice to the dispossessed majority
Updated: April 14, 2016 15:18 IST | Hari Narayan
April is an important month for India’s Dalit-Bahujans as it marks the anniversaries of two iconic figures — Jyotiba Phule and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. However, April 2016 has come as a month of disappointment for many of the voiceless Bahujans living in the Hindi heartland.Forward Press, India’s first bilingual magazine, One that strives to bring out the different dimensions of the Phule-Ambedkarite school of thoughts, has decided to suspend its print edition from June this year and convert itself to a web-only publication.
Lamenting the low number of Dalits in Indian newsrooms, media scholar Robin Jeffrey in April 2012 had advocated for a magazine run for and by the marginalised. He was looking at a journal which would provide journalism not just for the oppressed sections but also others, one which would be “so compelling that others would want to read it for the classiness and its difference”, the equivalent of Ebony or Essence, the publications of Black-Americans. Forward Press — started by activist-journalist Ivan Kostka in 2009 and run exactly along those lines — had already been functional for three years then.
Having completed seven years, Forward Press is currently published under the supervision Pramod Ranjan, the Managing Editor of the magazine. Mr. Ranjan is a familiar figure in the Hindi press, having worked in Punjab Kesari, Dainik Bhaskar and Amar Ujala. He has been with the magazine since 2011 and is currently pursuing Ph.D. concerning Dalit-Bahujan literature at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. In an interview with The Hindu, he shared the magazine’s vision, the topics it has focused on and the writers it has spawned.
What was the need to keep Forward Press bilingual?
Forward Press’s bilingual nature makes it a unique experiment. Its founder Ivan Kostka wanted to start a magazine that could prove to be both a voice and a tool of empowerment for the Dalit-Bahujans in the country. We wanted to emphasise the importance of English as a source of liberation for our primarily Hindi-speaking readers. There are many who have used the magazine to not just intellectually equip themselves, but also to improve their English.
Further, when it comes to Hindi literature, most writers don’t look beyond poetry and fiction. Their involvement with social issues is still minimal. This lacuna becomes more pronounced when it comes to Dalit-Bahujan issues. We have addressed this by attracting writers who write in English and translating their pieces to Hindi.
This way, we were able to attract the best scholars from both the languages and also reach out to the non-Hindi speaking people. Thus, we were able to act as a bridge between the thoughts of Phule, Ambedkar and Periyar.
You’ve said that your magazine looks at issues through a Phule-Ambedkarite prism…
When we speak of ‘Phule-Ambedkarism’, we speak of a vision for an inclusive, humane, democratic and egalitarian society, not just in terms of electoral democracy but also social empowerment.
The thoughts of Jyotiba Phule and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar – against discrimination but without malice toward any community in particular – informs our magazine’s approach to literature and to journalism in general.
Which are the States from which it has been able to attract readers?
Our readers are concentrated in towns and villages of the Hindi belt, mostly in Punjab, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Of late, we have been acquiring readership in Haryana as well. Most of them come from the communities that come under Dalit, tribal and OBC categories. Many of them are the first in their family to reach the portals of college education and to find themselves a respectable job.
Among the writers who contribute, what is the proportion of those who write in Hindi to those who write in English?
Approximately 60 per cent of the writers are those who use Hindi as a medium. The translation is done at our end in Bhopal. Around 40 per cent of our contributors are young university students and 15 per cent are those involved in literature. More importantly, about 20 per cent of contributions are by people who are into full-fledged activism but have no experience in writing. The rootedness of their approach comes across in the richness of the content.
How much has the genre of Dalit-Bahujan literature progressed in Hindi?
Dalit literature emerged first in Marathi in the early decades of the 20th century. The oppressed communities in Marathi-speaking regions were somewhat united in translating their voice into words.
In Hindi, magazines like Hans played a major role in the 90s in popularising the form. Its ex-editor, late Rajendra Yadav should be given the real credit for this. However, in Hindi-speaking regions, it has not become mainstream as it was labelled and dismissed as ‘Scheduled Caste’ literature, doing great injustice to the medium.
People started commenting in a rather exclusionary language that only someone born as a Scheduled Caste could and would participate. This acted as a deterrent to people from other oppressed categories.
To give an example: Bihar, in the 1930s saw the “Triveni Sangh agitation” which saw peasants, labourers and small businessmen agitate against the upper caste-dominated Congress. They motivated Dalit-Bahujans to struggle for their rights. J.N.P Mehta, an influential poet-writer was involved in this and wrote Triveni Sangh ka Bigul in 1940, However, he did not fit into the category of Dalits as he was from a community considered OBC. Hence, neither the Dwij writers nor the Dalit scholars gave much importance to him. Many humane descriptions of Dalit issues have thus suffered due to an exclusionary labelling.
We wanted to do away with this limited and limiting viewpoint and give space to the literature of subaltern, including voices of the Dalit, OBC and tribal communities. We have so far produced four special issues on Dalit-Bahujan literature and will continue to work in this regard.
Writers like Premkumar Mani, Sheoraj Singh Bechain, Kanwal Bharti, Birendra Yadav, Subhash Chandra Kushwaha, Maitreyi Pushpa have made major contributions to this category. Even Arundhati Roy expressed her appreciation.
Your magazine has led to some intense debate on the ‘Mahishasur Agitation’…
We published an essay on Mahishasur for the first time in October 2011. Many universities, including the JNU, participated in Mahishasur Day that year. In 2015, it was commemmorated in nearly 350 towns and villages. Most of the Indians who participate in this are from the backward classes and tribals, many of whom consider Mahishasur as their ancestor. There is a Scheduled Tribe called ‘Asur’ in Jharkhand, having a population of 11,000 as per the census, that considers him his ancestor. The Santhals, the Gonds, and the Bheels have similar beliefs.
For them, over the years, commemorating Mahishasur has become a matter of self-respect and cultural awareness There is rich literature on this which has not found much space in the mainstream media.
While debating on this during the Budget Session, the HRD Minister Smriti Irani had referred to an illustration drawn for Forward Press by Dr. Lal Ratnakar, a prominent tribal artist, published in October 2014. However, the objectionable language she quoted had not been used anywhere, Her tirade was an attempt to mislead the Parliament on an important cultural motif.
As I can see from the issues of your magazine, it has advertisements seeking more Dalit writers from across the country. How has the response over the years been?
Many Dalits and Bahujans have thus become part of our core as a result of our inclusive policy. One important factor to be considered here is that writing on Dalits and Bahujans and writing from the Dalit-Bahujan perspective are entirely different subjects. To draw a parallel – even an Indian businessperson interested in joining politics will come across Ambedkar’s thoughts. However, the importance he attaches to Babasaheb’s writings will be different from their significance in the life of a teacher for whom Ambedkar’s thoughts provide the political underpinning for his daily struggles.
For one person, it is a mere political tool, for the other, the thoughts and the agitation arising out of it is a question of empowerment, equality, liberty.
When it comes to providing voice to the marginalised, how far has our country moved in terms of having more Dalits in media organisations?
The first major survey on the presence/absence of Dalits in our media organisations was done by Jitendra Kumar and Yogendra Yadav in 2006. It had taken a sample of 37 Hindi and English media organisations, both in print and television, from across the country. It found that Upper Caste Hindu men accounted for about 71 per cent of the decision-making positions. This category forms a mere eight per cent of the total national population. Women took up only 16 per cent of the top roles.
I carried out a similar survey in 2009 on Hindi, English and Urdu media organisations in Bihar. I couldn’t find a single non-dvij (non-twice born or non-upper caste) person in decision-making roles, nor could we find a woman.
The pattern of the 2006 study repeated itself. The mediascape was dominated by Hindu upper caste men in Hindi and English publications and Ashraf Muslims in the Urdu ones. There was no one from the Dalit or OBC communities. Neither was there any Pasmanda Muslims in any important role at the top.
It is 10 years since the first survey was completed and we are yet to see any major change at a national level. There has been some improvement in Bihar.
Robin Jeffrey suggested having a database and conducting regular surveys on the presence of the marginalised in newsrooms…
It was an important suggestion. Not only are such figures useful from an academic perspective, they put psychological pressure on media-houses. Unfortunately, apart from the surveys I have cited, there have not been many attempts at research.
What can be done to have more people from the Dalit/Bahujan community in the media industry?
One way is to provide attractive scholarships for those who want to pursue studies in journalism, both at the government and at private levels.
People from Dalit-Bahujan community are more inclined to look for government jobs. More affirmative action needs to be taken to attract them into risky professions such as journalism.
If a Dalit entrepreneur or writer wants to start a magzine like Forward Press, what are the difficulties he will encounter?
The greatest difficulty will be on the financial front. The situation is bad in North India. Those who have tried starting their own publication have often failed. The scenario may be different in the south, where there is better availability of resources.
That apart, the distribution channels are becoming limited and even collapsing with the closure of bookstores and their conversion into restaurants and general stores. The reduction of postal correspondence has also acted as a great deterrent in taking such initiatives.
We also lack the enough scholars who can look at issues from a Phule-Ambedkarite viewpoint.
If such a publication is to be started, it is to be done as a tool for social development and not with monetary considerations in mind. Further, different welfare groups, trusts and activists need to keep the effort alive by building strong distribution channels.
News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET