Dalits Media Watch
News Updates 12.10.15
Ratia Dalit girl asserts her right for student bus pass - The Tribune
The Times Of India
No scrapping of quota, says Modi -
Cases against Dalits booked for Indu Mills agitation to be withdrawn - The Indian Express
Ceiling of MGNREGS works on individual lands enhanced - The Hindu
SC/ST Students' Edu Dream Shattered by Govt Apathy - The New Indian Express
Ambedkar family not satisfied with memorial design - The Hindu
Is India Free to Oppress Dalits? - The Tehelka
Dalit brothers beaten for protesting against abuses on Dr Ambedkar, Dalit leaders
Monday, 12 October 2015 - 9:41am IST | Agency: dna webdesk
Around 30 persons allegedly attacked three brothers of a family after the 25-year-old brother protested and confronted them for abusing Dalit leaders Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Aahilyabai Holkar and Savitri Phule. One of the victim is a scribe from a reputed news channel. The cops are now on the lookout of the culprits.
According to Virar police, Sagar Ingale, 25, a resident of Virar East, was with friends when they started insulting and abusing Dalit leaders for framing laws for the backward class people. When Ingale confronted them and asked to stop insulting the Dalit leaders they attacked him, leading to severe injuries. He was rushed to Sanjivani hospital for treatment.
Meanwhile his brother Prasenjeet Ingale, 30, a journalist with reputed news channel, along with his brother Chetan,22, confronted the assaulters. However, 20-25 persons stripped them half naked and assaulted them with iron rods and bamboos. The duo managed to escape from their clothes and reached the Virar police chowki to file complaint.
"They were abusing our Dalit leaders and I did not like it and so I confronted them. They attacked me and later held my brothers and assaulted them", said Sagar Ingale, victim. "They were beating us inhumanly and did not stop until we fled", he added.
The Virar police have registered the case under sections 326,143,147,148,149 of the Indian Penal code and under relevant sections of the SC/ST atrocities act. They are yet to make arrest in the case.
"We have registered the case and have conducted medical examination on the complainant and his brothers while further investigation would be conducted by the DySP of Vasai region", said Sunil Mane, Police Inspector, Virar police station.
Ratia Dalit girl asserts her right for student bus pass
Sushil Manav Tribune News Service Sirsa, October 11
Non-government organisations —Dalit Media Watch, Innovative Institute for Development and Education of All (IIDEA) and Dr Ambedkar NRI Association (DANRIA) — have come forward to help Jyoti Rani, who is being forced to quit studied because Haryana Roadways has refused her student bus pass.
The Dalit girl from Ratia (Fatehabad) studies MA (English) in Chaudhary Devi Lal University (CDLU), Sirsa. She spends Rs 120 every day to commute from her home to Sirsa and back. Her differently abled father is unable to bear the cost of travel. She said if bus pass was not issued to her, she would be forced to quit studies.
The NGOs offered her Rs 63,000 that she could use for her bus travel for two years. She, however, declined the offer, asking the NGO to help her get the bus pass if they could. "Getting the bus pass is my right," Jyoti said.
The Haryana Roadways refused bus pass to Jyoti on the grounds students who come from a distance of up to 60 km are entitled to the facility. Ratia is 65 km from Sirsa.
Dr Bachchu Lal, a representative of the NGOs and member of the faculty at the Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, US, contacted The Tribune a Punjab-based journalist after The Tribune published the report — "Ratia Dalit girl victim of roadway rules". He expressed desire to help the girl.
"I have talked to Miss Jyoti Rani on her mobile phone. When I offered to provide her with money, at first instance she said, no sir, I just need a bus pass. When I told her it was not in our power to force anyone to issue bus pass for you but our organisation can pay for your bus travel for a year, she said I will try to get the pass first," Bachchu Lal later told The Tribune over an email.
He said the NGOs he represented still stood by their offer and they would like to fund her studies so that she did not have to quit studies.
Meanwhile, CMO Haryana Shadow, a constructive criticism and opposition shadow account of Chief Minister Office (CMO), Haryana, has tweeted "Jumla#2 BJP promised security guards and no ticket in roadways for girl students. The promise remains unfulfilled." (sic)
The tweet has a link of The Tribune story.
The Times Of India
No scrapping of quota, says Modi
Arguing that the BJP had done more to preserve the legacy of Dr B.R. Ambedkar than its political rivals, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, ruled out scrapping of reservation system and attacked BJP's political opponents for spreading malicious propaganda that reservations could end if BJP is voted to power.
Mr. Modi's remark comes a day before 49 Assembly segments in Bihar will go to polls on Monday in the first of the five-phased State elections, and rivals JD(U) and the RJD Dal have made reservations for backward classes a poll issue. "Jo bhi Ambedkar ne diya usko koi rok nahi sakta (Whatever Ambedkar has given us, and no one can take it away)," Mr. Modi said .
He was speaking at a public rally at MMRDA grounds after laying the foundation stones for two new Mumbai metro projects that will decongest western suburbs.
The BJP leader, who paid homage to Dr. Ambedkar at Chaityabhoomi, and laid the foundation stone of Dr Ambedkar memorial at Indu Mills in Dadar, devoted a considerable part of the speech to Dr Ambedkar. Describing him as "Mahapurush", Mr. Modi said the social reformer faced a life of hardship and constant struggle, but harboured no bitterness or sought revenge when he wrote the Constitution.
"If Babasaheb Ambedkar wasn't there, where would Modi be? Where would ordinary people like us be without Dr Ambedkar?" he said describing BJP's recent initiatives to invoke Dr Ambedkar's legacy as an attempt to pay back with gratitude.
Mr. Modi announced that November 26, the day the Constitution came into force, would be celebrated in a big way as the Samvidhan Divas in all schools across the country. "If we call Ambedkar as belonging to Dalits in the absence of a long term vision, it will be a great injustice to him. He belonged to everyone," he said.
Mr. Modi said his government had planned to develop and preserve five landmarks in Dr Ambedkar's life, referring to them as "Panchteerth".
Apart from Indu Mill memorial, he named Dr Ambedkar's birthplace in Mau, Madhya Pradesh, his Alipur Road residence in New Delhi, his parents'village in coastal Maharashtra, and his London house where he stayed during his stint at the London School of Economics now purchased by the Maharashtra government.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also announced that his government would scrap the criminal cases lodged against Ambedkarite groups who staged several agitations demanding the memorial at Indu Mill.
The Indian Express
Cases against Dalits booked for Indu Mills agitation to be withdrawn
The chief minister said that his government has set aside a budget for social justice and skill development to pursue Ambedkar's path.
The state government has decided to withdraw all criminal cases registered against Dalits who had agitated for building the Ambedkar memorial at Indu Mills compound over the last 15 years, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Sunday.
"All those who took to the streets to see the grand memorial of Ambedkar should be thanked for their contribution, But the earlier government tried to silence their voices by slapping criminal cases against them and holding them in prisons," Fadnavis said.
The chief minister said that his government has set aside a budget for social justice and skill development to pursue Ambedkar's path. While thanking Prime Minister for helping to facilitate the transfer of land at Indu Mills to the state government for the memorial, Fadnavis said that the previous -NCP government had been
"They cited how land for the Ambedkar memorial would require an amendment in the Act which had to be passed in Parliament. They cited environmental hurdles. But the -led government raised the issue with the
Prime Minister who called Union textiles minister Santosh Gangwar and other officials and got it sanctioned. In
three days, I was called to Delhi and an MoU was signed. Today, all environmental clearances have been given." Fadnavis added.
The chief minister attacked the Congress and the NCP saying, "They could never treat Dalits beyond vote bank politics. They failed to allocate even 1.25 inch of land for the Ambedkar memorial."
On the eve of the 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar, the state government has set aside Rs 125 crore for the development of socially oppressed and suppressed sections of society. The memorial will be built at an estimated cost of Rs 475 crore.
Ceiling of MGNREGS works on individual lands enhanced
State government raises slab from Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh
Giving a major boost to land development activities and material component works involving Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the Tamil Nadu government has enhanced the ceiling of the MGNREGS works on individual land from Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh.
Acting on the recommendations of several District Collectors, including Ramanathapuram Collector K. Nanthakumar, the government issued a Government Order on September 3 (GO No. 119) fixing the maximum ceiling limit per job holder at Rs. 5 lakh, official sources here said.
The labour-material ratio should be maintained at 60: 40 and the selection of private land for taking up developmental works should be made in a transparent manner, the GO said.
The MGNREGS guidelines with regard to labour-material ratio, initially insisted that only 100 per cent labour-oriented works should be taken up and material components should be dovetailed with other schemes of Rural Development and other departments.
The State amended the guidelines and issued a GO in July 2012 stating that along with labour-oriented works, material component works could also be taken up on the lands of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe farmers, small and marginal farmers and other beneficiaries.
Now, the State government issued a fresh GO amending a guideline in respect of the ceiling limit. The District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) could now take up construction of more material component works, said A. Palani, Project Director, DRDA.
"Now we can take up construction of foodgrain godowns, anganwadis, block panchayat service centres, village panchayat service centres, cattle shelters, and goat and poultry shelters for beneficiaries belonging to the vulnerable category, he told The Hindu .
The DRDA could focus on material component works as the labour-material ratio of 60: 40 should be maintained for the district as a whole and not for individual works. It also ensured wages (for assured 100 days in a year) to the individual job car holders without any pilferage, he added.
The New Indian Express
SC/ST Students' Edu Dream Shattered by Govt Apathy
KOZHIKODE: The SC/ST students' hopes of pursuing education in the various self-financing arts and science colleges have been dealt a major blow by the state government's failure to reimburse the fee stipulated for these courses.
Consequently, the students, majority of whom belong to indigent families,are forced to cough up the entire fee as in the case of the others. And those unable to bear the economic burden have no option other than to opt out. In the case of Calicut University alone,where the number of self-financing arts and science colleges had shot up to 140 from a mere 10 in the last four years, there were few if any takers for SC/ST reserved seats, which had witnessed a corresponding increase.
Incidentally, the state government's earlier order granting fee concession to the SC/ST students in the professional colleges in the self-financing stream, along with the government and aided colleges,did not specify the case of the arts and science colleges, which also charge comparatively huge fee for several of the courses offered by them.
"The semester fee for the biotechnology course comes to around Rs 18,000 for a student and for the BCom course, it is Rs 11,000. For an entire year, the course fee alone comes to nearly Rs 40,000. This will not be feasible for students hailing from economically backward families. I have talked to the managements of several self-financing arts and science colleges under Calicut University and found that the SC/ST students had not joined those colleges, especially in the last four years owing to the lack of an existing system for fee reimbursement," said Calicut University Syndicate member P K Supran, who urged Vice-Chancellor Khader Mangad to probe the matter. The varsity, on its part, is looking into the issue to come up with appropriate remedial measures.
Self-financing College Teachers and Staff Association state joint secretary Abdul Azeez K confirmed that seats were indeed lying vacant both in the reserved and unreserved category. He added that the teachers, who receive a comparatively low salary here, view these institutions as a makeshift workplace before going in search of greener pastures.
It was also pointed out that the colleges were often forced to compromise on quality and that the students scouted around for institutions with a better brand recall. Principal of Blossom Arts and Science College, Kondotty, T P Ahemmed said that there was a decline in the number of students joining the college. "We will not charge the fee once the government brings in an amendment, extending the fee concession to the arts and science stream SC/ST students also. Their benefits are to be recorded at the respective SC/ST Offices at the district level. Already, the amount for their uplift is lying unutilised in the district offices and this could be effectively utilised if an amendment were to be brought in," he added.
Ambedkar family not satisfied with memorial design
A grand memorial for Dr. B.R Ambedkar at the 12.5 acre site of the now defunct Indu Mill here has been a long-standing demand of Ambedkarites and Dalit groups in Maharashtra.
However, prominent Ambedkarities, in particular the Dalit icon's descendants, are not satisfied with the way the memorial has shaped up. While some had concerns over the practical details of the design, others thought the memorial was not befitting the stature of Dr. Ambedkar.
"It's a national waste," Prakash Ambedkar, Dr. Ambedkar's grandson and former MP, told The Hindu. Though Mr. Prakash Ambedkar accepted the State government's invitation to be present at the foundation laying ceremony of the memorial, presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said he had made it clear to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis that his attendance should not be considered as an approval.
Mr. Ambedkar said the whole idea behind allotting the land, which was done under the Vajpayee regime, for a memorial was to have a "think tank institution" in place named after Babasaheb. "The idea was to construct an intellectual centre of international standards, where scholars across the globe come for intellectual activity. Babasaheb was an intellectual giant who contributed to many fields and in many ways. A mere garden is a waste," he said.
His brother Anandraj Ambedkar said he was "unsatisfied" with the design aspects of the monument. In 2011, Mr. Anandraj Ambedkar led a seize upon the Indu Mills and took over it for 24 days while agitating for the memorial. He threatened to lead another agitation if the Ambedkarities' suggestions to the design were not incorporated by the Fadnavis government.
The Ambedkars spoke to Mr. Fadnavis, who assured them that their concerns would be considered.
"The memorial is built from public money, so how can they finalize the design, based on one man's idea, without any consultation or suggestions from those interested in Babasaheb? The design is nothing special, there is nothing international about it," Mr. Ananadraj Ambedkar said. He also expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of enclosures at the site, saying it would be a deterrent for people during rainy seasons.
The memorial, which will consist of a 150-feet tall statue of Dr Ambedkar and costing over Rs. 425 crore, has been designed by well-known architect Shashi Prabhu.
Mr. Anandraj Ambedkar said he had also sometime back suggested a design to the State government, which was not considered. His design consisted of a 360-feet tall statue of Dr. Ambedkar, titled the "Statue of Equality," to represent the Dalit icon's struggle for human emancipation and human rights.
To mark the laying of the foundation stone for the memorial, Mr. Modi unveiled a plaque at Indu Mill. Mr. Modi also inspected the replica of the grand memorial, which includes a 140-feet tall stupa, a vipassana (meditation) hall, a library spread over 50,000 sq feet, an auditorium and galleries depicting the various struggles of Dr. Ambedkar's life.
Earlier in the day, he visited paid homage to the Dalit icon at Chaityabhoomi, where Dr. Ambedkar's ashes are interred. Each year on December 6, Dr. Ambedkar's death anniversary, the Mahaparnirvan Diwas, thousands of Ambedkarites travel to Mumbai and pay homage at the site.
Raja Dhale, one of the original members of Dalit Panthers, said the government lacked vision and had earmarked a "small corner" (of land) "just to keep Dalits happy." "To do justice to Dr. Ambedkar, we need to consider the aim of the design.
Is India Free to Oppress Dalits?
The government insists India must be answerable to none outside its borders on caste-based discrimination and atrocities. With UN sustainable development goals excluding the factor that decides threats and opportunities for most Indians.
Why do nation states try to treat social issues that transcend boundaries as their "internal matter"? Can the fight to do away with oppressive social hierarchies such as caste that have restricted free choice for individuals in various ways down the centuries be confined to the boundaries of the nation state — especially when the nation state itself is the creation of a much later time?
When the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September, it inadvertently raised these issues once again. According to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, it is "an agenda for people to end poverty in all its forms — an agenda for the planet, our common home". Ostensibly aimed at reducing inequality in all its forms, it's no surprise that rights movements in India are agitated over the exclusion of caste — the religion-sanctioned ideology and practice of discrimination based on birth that has been central to social organisation in India from ancient times, centuries before the formation of the Republic of India in 1947.
Most Dalit activists are appalled by the absurdity of any agenda to reduce inequality in India (and, as some point out, even in other countries with a substantial Indian-origin population) without addressing caste. After all, caste based atrocities continue to be reported with alarming regularity from all over the country. Yet, activists across South Asia allege that it was on India's insistence that the mention of caste was omitted in the UN document.
The Agenda for Sustainable Development comprises 17 goals and 169 targets for alleviating poverty, reducing inequality and tackling climate change over the next 15 years. It is part of the plans for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) adopted in 2000. A new phrase that has been brought into the discourse with the 2030 document is "indignity of poverty". The General Assembly hailed the document as the blueprint for a better future that would "leave no one behind". After it was adopted, Ban Ki-Moon said, "The 2030 document compels us to look beyond national boundaries and short-term interests and act in solidarity for the long term."
The agenda document explains the measures to be undertaken and the problems to be overcome as the international community moves towards a world where there is 'No Poverty', 'Zero Hunger' and 'Reduced Inequalities'. Clearly, in setting the goals that are to be achieved by 2030, the UN has underlined the need to make growth inclusive.
Goal No. 10 specifically addresses the issue of inequality. It seeks to "empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all irrespective of age, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status" by "ensuring equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including the thorough elimination of discriminating laws, policies and practices".
Dalit activists in various South Asian countries allege that it would be impossible to achieve the sustainable development goals in the entire region without addressing caste as a social system that perpetuates inequality and deprivation. In fact, soon after the draft of the document was made public, the Asian Dalit Rights Forum (ADRF) headquartered in Kathmandu had suggested to the UN that caste-based discrimination should be included in the final agenda but the suggestion was ignored.
"'Leave no one behind' encapsulates a holistic development framework," reads a statement issued by the ADRF "However, this framework needs to take into account the situation of Dalits as those vulnerable and are affected by intergenerational poverty due to inherent systems of hierarchy and exclusion that prevent, discriminate and prohibit access to development and rule of law. Dalits have been victims of discrimination and hate crimes for centuries and have been considered as impure and polluting. Significance of caste in social exclusion is indeed recognized by Post 2015 development agenda (working committee) but seems to have failed to make into the Sustainable Development Goals or its Targets (sic)."
Activists from South Asia gathered in New York in the last week of September when the UN was in session, to press their demand to include caste as a factor to be addressed in the document. "India appears to block all efforts to allow caste to be recognised as a major cause for exclusion," Meen Bishwakarma, an activist who is also an mp in Nepal, told the media. The activist-mp argued that caste discrimination could not be seen only as an internal problem of India, adding that Dalits living in other South Asian countries, too, are historically deprived.
According to a study done by the International Dalit Solidarity Network for the European Commission in 2009, 260 million people are affected by caste discrimination, making it one of the most serious human rights issues in the world today. According to the study, the geographic spread of caste discrimination in practice in various forms is not limited to India, but covers not just the entire South Asian region but also other parts of Asia. Moreover, similar systems of discrimination affect certain sections of the people in some African countries and the Middle East.
Despite caste being one of the key factors behind discrimination against individuals on the basis of birth, just like race in the US, India has consistently objected to treating caste as a question of universal human rights at par with race. This approach had snowballed into a major controversy in 2001 during the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa.
At the time of the Durban conference, the then BJP-led NDA-I under Atal Bihari Vajpayee had taken the official position that treating caste on the same lines as race would dilute the fight against racial discrimination. Activists and scholars studying caste and race, however, argue that both are institutionalised forms of hierarchy based on birth, with privileges and handicaps transmitted down the generations. No wonder India's opposition to treating caste as a hereditary system of discrimination just like race did not go unquestioned.
Now, the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals has rekindled that old debate. "India has been in denial about caste for too long already in international forums," Dalit writer and activist Anand Teltumbde tells Tehelka. "To treat caste as India's internal matter is nonsense, since it affects Indians wherever they are, even outside the country's borders. A world body such as the UN should have taken into account the social realities of the societies where the caste system prevails, to make its sustainable development agenda a comprehensive one."
The argument, however, is not easy to clinch as there are among scholars studying caste in India also those who refuse to see it as reflecting a similar social reality as race. During the Durban conference when the issue was being widely debated, New Delhi-based sociologist André Béteille wrote, "Identifying the races in the population of India will be an exercise in futility. It is true that many forms of invidious discrimination do prevail in the contemporary world. But to assimilate or even relate them all to racial discrimination will be an act of political and moral irresponsibility."
So, even while sociologists debate over the similarities and differences between caste and race as hereditary systems of discrimination, there is no doubt that caste does play a big role in perpetuating inequality in India. So why is India adamant about not allowing caste to be treated by the world as just another issue of universal human rights, such as race in the case of the US?
This refusal not just indicates the unwillingness of the government to be held accountable for its failure to eradicate the caste system, but could also undermine its efforts to meet the other commitments it has made at the international level on human rights issues.
News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET