Dalits, labourers assured land work will be expedited – The Tribune
Academics support Kancha Ilaiah – The Hindu
Rs. 196 Crore Scholarship Released For Scheduled Caste Students: Centre – NDTV
Ministers meet governor over quota for SC/ST contractors – Deccan Herald
200 hostels for SC/ST students – The New Indian Express
Honour and shame – Front Line
In unequal measure – Front Line
Dalits, labourers assured land workwill be expedited
Jalandhar, May 31
Officials of the Panchayat Department have been directed to speed up the work to provide Dalits and landless labourers their rights in panchayat land. The instructions to this effect were issued by ADC (General) Girish Dayalan in a meeting with block development and panchayat officers and members of Pendu Mazdoor Union (PMU).
The ADC (General) also instructed the officials to submit a report by June 3 after providing the plots to the Dalits and landless labourers. The plots have already been allotted by the Gram Sabhas.
At the meeting, representatives of the Pendu Mazdoor Union said the earlier directions issued by the ADC (G) on May 23 had been violated and auctions were being held without fulfilling the legal requirements.
The union also warned of stir if the auction of panchayat land was not held as per the legal parameters.
The ADC (G) also directed the officials to conduct a general meeting in villages under the Gram Sabhas to pass a resolution for providing residential plots to the landless labourers and Dalits.
The members of the union had disrupted the auction of panachayat land in many villages earlier as part of their stir. Recently, landless labourers and Dalit had occupied the panchayat land in Dyalpur village in a protest against the alleged illegalities adopted by the department concerned. — TNS
Academics support Kancha Ilaiah
Sixty-seven eminent personalities and academics from across various universities and institutions in the country and outside have issued a statement declaring solidarity with writer and academic Kancha Ilaiah against whom a case was filed by the Saroornagar police station, allegedly for hurting religious sentiments.
Intimidation of Prof. Ilaiah should be seen as part of the ongoing process of criminalisation of dissent and suppression of freedom of expression, the statement said, and noted that the law is repeatedly being turned into a surrogate for Hindutva politics.
“It is shocking that the Telangana government too has fallen prey to the majoritarian ambience and that its state’s institutions are backing Hindutva violence,” the statement said, after recalling the line of events that have unfolded post his comments at the CITU meeting at Vijayawada.
It may be recalled that Prof. Ilaiah was visited by a group from a Brahmin-based organisation, after a newspaper reported that he called Brahmins “lazy” and “gluttons” at a meeting, which he vehemently denied. Instead, he claimed that he was talking only about Brahmins as a community keeping away from production-related work for centuries.
Later, however, he allegedly began to receive threats from the community.
A case has recently been filed against him after the Ranga Reddy district court issued directions for the same.
Commending Prof. Ilaiah’s scholarship as visible through his “iconoclastic” works, which radically denounced the caste system in India, the statement called it “deeply disturbing” that a scholar of international repute who has inspired scholars and activists to look at one’s own history critically, and who relentlessly challenged dominant orthodoxies in the academia, is being targeted by state agencies “acting in tandem with Hindutva organisations”.
“The politics of Hindutva, while hurting every living being’s dignity and sentiments, continuously claims to be the perpetual and universal victim. Dalits today cannot speak of the indignities and oppression they have suffered at the hands of Hindus — even that has become a matter of ‘hurt sentiments’ of dominant groups and castes,” it read.
The scholars have demanded that the intimidation be stopped and the police cases against Prof. Ilaiah be immediately withdrawn.
Signatories to the statement included noted Leftist historians Tanika Sarkar and Sumit Sarkar, and economists Prabhat Patnaik, Utsa Patnaik, and C.P.Chandrasekhar, Sociologist Satish Deshpande, writer and academic from Johannesberg Dilip Menon, feminist scholar and historian Uma Chakravarti, subaltern theorist Partha Chatterjee, and many others.
Rs. 196 Crore Scholarship Released For Scheduled Caste Students: Centre
All India | Press Trust of India | Updated: June 01, 2016 01:23 IST
JALANDHAR: Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla today said that Rs. 196 crore has been released for scholarships of Scheduled Castes students in the state, days after Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had claimed that the Centre was not releasing the amount.
Mr Sampla said Mr Badal had been misinformed about the issue, adding he himself had apprised him of the situation.
Mr Badal had reportedly said that the Centre was not releasing the amount under post-matriculation scholarship scheme for SC students while the state government had paid its share.
“The post-matriculation scholarship amount of Rs. 196 crore for Dalit students has been released in two installments,” he said.
Mr Sampla, who was in Jalandhar for a meeting with Union minister JP Nadda and local BJP workers, said government had released the amount for the previous financial year.
“The first installment of Rs. 90 crore has been distributed, while arrangements are being made to distribute the second installment of Rs. 106 crore,” he said.
“The Punjab Chief Minister has also created a reserve of Rs. 100 crore which will be used for distributing the scholarship amount as and when required,” he said.
Ministers meet governor over quota for SC/ST contractors
June 01, 2016, Bengaluru, DHNS
Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya and Law Minister T B Jayachandra on Tuesday met Governor Vajubhai Vala and urged him to promulgate an ordinance on providing reservation to contractors who fall under the SC/ST category.
Speaking to reporters after meeting the Governor, Anjaneya said he had explained the Governor the need to provide reservation to the SC/ST communities in government contracts. All the points raised by the Governor have been clarified, he said.
“The Governor replied saying that the government’s move should be debated in both Houses of the Legislature before its implementation. But we hope the Governor is convinced with our explanation and will soon promulgate the ordinance,” the minister said.
The Governor had recently returned the ordinance bill to the government.
The New Indian Express
200 hostels for SC/ST students
By Express News Service Published: 01st June 2016 04:13 AM Last Updated: 01st June 2016 04:13 AM
BHUBANESWAR: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik dedicated 200 news hostels for dalit and tribal students here on Tuesday. He also launched a programme for distribution of 20,000 forest land documents among the beneficiaries.
Stating that education is the only means by which tribals and dalits can join the mainstream of society, the Chief Minister said and added that Odisha is the leading State in the country for providing education to students of backward communities.
Naveen said the State Government has set up more than 1,600 schools and constructed more than 5,000 hostels for students belonging to tribal and dalit communities. The Government has also implemented Akankhya and Anwesha schemes to provide opportunity to about 26,000 SC, ST and dalit students to study in public schools in urban areas, he said.
The Government has set up 10 Kalinga Model Residential Schools for students from poor and backward communities in the State. “Classes would begin in these schools from 2018,” he said.
Launching the forest land patta distribution, the Chief Minister announced that the beneficiaries will be included in all social security programmes.
Honour and shame
May 28, 2016 at 08:32 IST
State Crime Records Bureau statistics show that Karnataka has had 13 “honour killings” since 2011, an indication of hardening social identities. There has yet to be a conviction in an honour killing case. By VIKHAR AHMED SAYEED in Nanjangud, Mysuru
ON April 11, Madhu Kumari, a 21-year-old resident of Chandravadi village in Nanjangud taluk of Mysuru district, was given a mango drink laced with pesticide by her elder brother Guruprasad. The unsuspecting girl drank the juice and was soon writhing in agony. Within a short time, she was dead. Her parents, Manjula and Gurumallappa, were present through her excruciating ordeal and hastily cremated her the same evening. The fact that Madhu’s body was cremated and not buried, as is the tradition of her caste, aroused suspicion. News that the girl had met with an unnatural death filtered through, and the local police’s investigation led to the arrest of Madhu’s family members, who confessed to the crime. It was a case of “honour killing”, and the Lingayat young woman was killed because she had been in love with Jayaram T.C., a young man from a lower caste, for the past two years.
Chandravadi village is 30 kilometres from the town of Nanjangud. It has around 300 households that mainly depend on agriculture. The land is irrigated by water from the Kabini river, and paddy and sugarcane are the main crops. Chandravadi is largely inhabited by members of only one caste, the Lingayats. There are around 20 houses belonging to the “Oshtama Shetty” group, which is classified as a backward caste. In the caste hierarchy of the region, the Oshtama Shettys are perceived to be lower than the Lingayats. There is no caste-based spatial segregation in the village, and members of both communities eat at each other’s houses, but inter-caste marriages have not taken place in the village as they are tabooed.
Jayaram, 31, has been missing from the village since the day of Madhu’s death because he fears for his life. He is a motor mechanic, the only one in the village. On the dayFrontline visited his house, his mother, Nagamma, was the only person at home. Her husband, Thimma Shetty, was away tilling his fields while her daughter, Jayaram’s sister, was at her in-laws’ home. Jayaram’s house seems like it belongs to a fairly prosperous farmer. There are separate bedrooms, a kitchen and a spacious drawing room. Thimma Shetty owns more than five acres (one acre is 0.4 hectare) of land, more than Madhu Kumari’s family, a point Nagamma made, perhaps to show that while they belonged to a lower caste, they were economically more prosperous than the girl’s family. Madhu’s house is just two minutes away on the main street of the village but bore a forlorn look with no one at home. Nagamma said that she was aware that her son and Madhu wanted to get married and that she and her husband did not have any problems with that decision. “Madhu never used to come home, but I used to see her in the village. Once the men agree, what problem will I have with the decision?” she said. “What they [Madhu’s parents] did was wrong. They killed their own daughter for their ‘honour’. Now what ‘honour’ do they have in jail?” she asked.
State Crime Records Bureau statistics show that Karnataka has had 13 honour killings since 2011. Apart from one case that took place in north Karnataka, all the other cases were reported from the region of Old Mysore in south Karnataka. Three incidents were reported from the adjoining district of Mandya alone while other cases were recorded from districts spread across the region. In all these cases, the young men usually belong to a lower caste (in most cases Dalits). The case in Nanjangud was the latest in this line of gruesome honour killings.
A few days before this, on April 3, Monica, 19, a girl belonging to a caste Hindu family, was killed allegedly by her father in Mandya for eloping with a Dalit boy. Her murder was made to look like a suicide, but when family members were questioned, the truth emerged and a case of murder was booked against her father and two of her uncles. On April 17, Mandya also saw protests and threats of disruption by Hindu right-wing organisations when a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl belonging to the Vokkaliga community tied the knot with their parents’ support. All these incidents are worrying as they point to parochialism and a hardening of social identities in recent years.
Mallige, who works with the Karnataka Jana Shakti, a human rights group that is active in the area, said that the honour killings in Old Mysore region were a manifestation of the changing social equations in the region. Dalits and other backward castes are challenging the dominance of the Vokkaligas, the dominant caste in the region, particularly in Mandya. It is intriguing that this area should be witness to a social churn as the Old Mysore region was part of the princely state of Mysore, which had reservation for backward castes almost a hundred years ago. Hostels were built for Dalits and other members of backward castes at the university, and education was encouraged.
Lakshminarayana, president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, is a long-time resident of Mysuru. He said that the honour killings were “a sign of the painful transition, both socially and economically, that these areas are undergoing. The feudal mindsets of the dominant castes in the region are still closed.” There are two main divisions among Dalits in Karnataka: the Madigas and the
The Dalits in the Old Mysore region are mainly
Their socio-economic condition is relatively better than that of the Madigas, and since the community is cohesive, it has a certain heft in its day-to-day dealings with the dominant castes. Also, it is significant to note that the Dalits here are not landless labourers like their counterparts in north Karnataka.
“The landholding pattern, relative education [levels] among Dalits and lower castes, social consciousness and migration to cities like Bengaluru and Mysuru are reasons why the lower castes in the area are far more confident and assertive,” said Lakshminarayana. Hulkere Mahadeva, an executive committee member of the Dalit Sangharsha Samithi (DSS), told Frontline that the increase in honour killings was not sudden. “Honour killings have been there, but it is only now that we have alert and sensitive media that are bringing these issues to light. It is not like these things were not happening before.” He went on to add that “casteism is also increasing”. His colleague, Guruprasad Keregodu, who is the State convener of the DSS, said that the increasing caste consciousness could be directly linked to the growth in the number of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sanghshakhas in the region. “Every village in the Old Mysore region has an RSS shakha now. The number of these shakhas has increased from the time the National Democratic Alliance government led by [A.B.] Vajpayee came to power in 1999. This has led to the growth of communalism and casteism in the region, and it is very easy to provoke dominant caste members against Muslims and Dalits,” he said.
From the crime records, it is evident that only women are the targets of honour killings, which shows how patriarchy operates in this crime. “Women are soft targets. The men in these relationships are usually not targeted,” Mallige said. If the lower-caste men were targeted, it could lead to inter-caste violence as Dalit and progressive organisations are strong in the region.
At a recent interaction with the media, Manjula Manasa, the Chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Women, said that establishing fast-track courts or special courts was the need of the hour as cases of honour killing were on the rise. It is pertinent to note that there have been no convictions so far in honour killing cases.
In unequal measure
As Karnataka reels under a severe drought, social and economic divides undermine the little relief that the government has provided. By V. SRIDHAR
A DROUGHT, or any other natural calamity for that matter, is a good time to test whether social and economic inequities are worsening or not. What is happening in Karnataka, which is reeling under a drought for the third successive year and which has suffered an unprecedented shortfall in rainfall since January, appears to indicate that the grave social and economic inequalities have further shrunk the already limited access that marginalised communities have to water during this period of acute scarcity.
The government’s relief effort, especially in the form of the supply of water for domestic use to households, has been patchy. The effort, it appears, ignores the underlying social structures in rural Karnataka that deny especially marginalised social communities such as Dalits, tribal people and other backward castes access to relief. The social geography in rural society determines who lives in which part of the village, and social hierarchy determines where “public” water sources will be installed. To make matters worse, other relief measures such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), which might have helped in the creation and maintenance of assets that could provide some insurance against similar episodes of acute scarcity in the future, shut the door on those who are at the margins.
Between January and April 30, the State received just 10 mm of rainfall, which left a 71 per cent deficit compared with the normal of 34.8 mm. However, even this average, like all averages, hides the true extent of the crisis. In the coastal districts, the deficit was close to 90 per cent, and, in the hilly terrain of the Malnad region, which is home to plantation crops such as coffee, the deficit was almost 75 per cent. Although by May 10 the situation had moderated, the average deficit in the State was still 50 per cent. By May 16, although the rainfall deficit had narrowed down to 33 per cent, the 13 major reservoirs in the State held just 16 per cent of their combined storage capacity of 860 thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft). The extensive depletion of groundwater in many parts of the State has shut the option of using water from under the ground to compensate for the shortfall in rainfall.
A uniquely shaped well in Chitta village in Bidar district, of medieval vintage and built by a Sufi saint, captures poignantly the story of how segregation prevents Dalits and other marginal groups from accessing water. The well consists of four squares within a square-shaped well, each reserved for a section of society. Although local folklore has it that Multani Baba Shaheed never intended to divide society on caste lines, he was forced to design it thus. “It is known as Chuachuth ki bawdi [well of untouchability],” said Mohammad Jaffer, a farmer in Chitta.
Bidar, one of the most backward districts in the country, has not fared too badly this season; in fact, the district received “excess” rainfall during the January-May 2016 period. But the statistics from this perennially dry district in northern Karnataka hide the extent of the ongoing distress, which is worsened by the social geography in its villages. The public access points for water are mainly located in the central part of the village, which, not surprisingly, is where those at the top of the social and economic hierarchy live.
A recent survey undertaken by the Welfare Party of India (WPI) lists some villages in Bidar district where it noted caste discrimination in water supply. Residents of villages or of areas where the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and Muslims form the majority suffer owing to neglect. “We have seen several villages where the distribution is lopsided. These villages have enough water, but water supply is better in upper-caste areas and not in those where the lower-caste people live,” said Mujahid Pasha Qureshi, district president of the WPI. He also observed that upper-caste areas tended to have a denser network of water sources such as borewells compared with areas where Dalits or people from the minority communities lived.
Although the State government has released Rs.50 lakh to each taluk-level task force to take up new work like drilling of borewells or open wells, the decisions are often arbitrary because caste and economic clout play an important role in determining what gets done where. “The task force is headed by the local MLA, and political affiliation or caste determines the location where a borewell is dug,” a senior Zilla Parishad officer toldFrontline. “It is very difficult to find out what they are doing, let alone monitor their work,’’ he remarked. Villagers contest the official claim that they are receiving a minimum quantum of 20 litres of water per day per capita.
Suryakanth Singe, a Dalit writer of Aurad, said that in villages like Kherda, each family hardly got around three pots (15 litres each) of water a day. “How can a family of five or six live off 70-80 litres of water a day?” he asks. He pointed out that while rich, upper-caste families bought water ferried by tankers plying from the towns near by, the poor could not afford this luxury. “I have cousins in nearby villages who are taking a bath just once in a week or so,” Singe told Frontline.
Vaijanth Wadde of Aurad has even more fundamental questions about the normative standards for the quantity of water supplied. “Why does the water used by people in cities need to be three times more than those in the villages?” he asks. “Have these officers ever tried to live off 20 litres of water per capita a day?” Many village residents say they do not get more than two or three pots of water a day for the entire family.
In Lanjawad in Bhalki taluk, which has a population of 2,000, a tanker fills the open well once every morning. The trick is to reach early with as many members of the family as possible. S.R. Chauhan, whose wife is a member of the Zilla Panchayat, supplies the tanker and gets paid for it by the Zilla Parishad.
Most parts of Aurad town have no provision for piped water supply. The government has put up cisterns at street corners for people to collect water. These are connected to either a borewell or an open well, but most of these sources have dried up and people are forced to buy water. Now water comes in tankers. “Whenever a tanker appears on the street, people rush towards it as if they are attacking the enemy. It is a frightening sight,” said Manmathappa Swamy, a resident of Aurad.
Rural Social Geography
In the Malnad region, rich planters living in bungalows get tanker-tractors carrying water on a phone call, whereas the poor go in search of private borewells or handpumps. Proximity to power and socio-economic status are among the factors that work in the process of providing relief. Facilities to access the scarce resource are distributed unevenly, reflecting the social chasm. Bandihalli is a predominantly Dalit village of about 130 families in Hassan district. It has one overhead tank with a capacity of 12,000 litres, which gets filled from a borewell. Neighbouring Jammanahalli, a village with just 40 houses, has a tank of the same capacity. “Our village is bigger than Jammanahalli, but they get more water,” said Keshava, a resident of Bandihalli. He said that the disparity arose from the fact that Jammanahalli had more upper-caste residents who had considerable influence with the people’s representatives. “If the overhead tank in Jammanahalli is connected to at least 30 to 40 houses of Bandihalli, the problem will be solved, but that will not happen,” rued Keshava.
The social geography of village life comes into play in determining who gets access to the limited water that is distributed. For instance, Dalit “colonies” are most often at the tail ends of water supply networks. Even in the distribution of water through overhead pipes, cisterns and tanker-tractors, the socially backward classes are the losers. In most villages, Dalit colonies are separated from the core areas, which is where overhead tanks are located. “While the residents at the core of the village get water taps running at full blast, taps in the distant colonies run slow, if at all they do,” said Kamalamma of Bandihalli village. Water supplied by tankers also does not reach the most vulnerable. “As soon as a tanker-tractor enters a habitation, people stop it at the entrance and those residing nearby surround the tractor to fetch water. There are situations when people in remote corners of the village go without water,” said Kamalamma.
Two women, Eeramma and Dyammavva, belonging to the Holeya community (Scheduled Caste), were seen fetching water from a drain in an agricultural land at Iguru, about 30 kilometres from Sakaleshpur town, when Frontline visited the village. The village had received pre-monsoon showers, and some drains in the area were filled with rainwater. “It is true the water is not suitable for drinking. But what to do, we don’t have other sources,” said Eeramma. She uses a piece of cloth to strain the water.
Two years ago, the Zilla Panchayat provided funds for an open well in Iguru, a village with 70 households. The yield in the well was insufficient from the day it was commissioned. “Now, a four-year-old borewell is the only source of water. Water in the borewell is also insufficient,” said I.M. Paramesh, former vice president of Iguru Gram Panchayat. Paramesh and his family have dug an open well, anticipating financial assistance under the MGNREGS. He is spending about Rs.2 lakh and expects to get around Rs.70,000 under the scheme.
The irony of caste discrimination is that in the rare instance when Dalits have access to a water source, upper-caste folk have no qualms in queueing up for the scarce resource. Residents of Yaragalale, Kuregal and Kittageri, three habitations in Mallapura Gram Panchayat in Alur taluk, have been depending on two private borewells for the last two years for drinking water. One of the borewells was drilled by a Dalit under the Ganga Kalyana Scheme, meant for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe people. People of all castes use it. “Last year, we drilled five borewells to provide water for these three habitations with over 150 houses. Surprisingly, all five borewells failed. We had no option but to depend on private borewells. We are providing a nominal fee of Rs.800 a month to the borewell owners,” said K. Harish, Panchayat Development Officer.
Unfortunately, programmes such as the MGNREGS, which could offer some relief in times such as these, are also proving ineffective in providing relief. The case of Shaila, a landless Dalit in Dhannura village in Bidar district, is an example of the ironies of schemes that target “beneficiaries”. She does not have the prized job card, but the local “zamindar” whom she works for, and who owns 16 hectares of land, has one and a BLP (below poverty line) card, too. Recently, Munish Moudgil, MNREGA Commissioner for Karnataka, stayed overnight in the village and conducted a work order Abhiyana (campaign) and found that in a village of 1,600 families, only 600 had job cards.
With inputs from Rishikesh Bahadur Desai in Bidar and G.T. Sathish in Hassan/Chikkamagaluru.
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