An amazing story on the India Today website seems to think that appointing Dalit cooks in schools is a deliberately divisive move by a state government. K S SUDEEP hoot

Casteist reporting
An amazing story on the India Today website seems to think that appointing Dalit cooks in schools is a deliberately divisive move by a state government. K S SUDEEP marvels at Piyush Srivastava’s interpretation.
Posted Tuesday, Jul 27 11:40:59, 2010
Note: The original story on the India Today website which prompted this critique has since been changed, and some of the lines mentioned here have been dropped.

So those kids were all living happily together. They were friends, caste and class did not matter. And then some “Dalit cooks” came and divided them.

That is what this report on the India Today website as well as in Mail Today’s epaper   tries hard to convince us. Titled “Dalit cooks divide UP schoolkids”, the report by Piyush Srivastava explains how the introduction of Dalit cooks in schools led to a “bad situation” in Uttar Pradesh.

“Mid-day meals prepared by Dalit cooks has created such a bad situation in UP that upper caste students are leaving government schools in droves – so far the number is 1,000..”

The report goes on to give us some glimpse into the history and tells us how BSP had piggybacked on the support of Dalits and Brahmins to come to power in UP and how the Mayawati government failed to live up to its promises.

“..But once there, Mayawati and her party failed to bridge the gap between  the upper castes and the Dalits. Rather than achieving social harmony, it has led to increased casteism as is evident from the fact that the students have been boycotting schools over Dalit cooks…”

Very funny, but in a very sad way. It is the upper caste and OBC people who refused to eat food that the dalits cooked. And Sri Srivastava concludes that it is the Dalit cooks (and the government that ordered appointment of these Dalit cooks in schools) who are responsible for the “increased casteism”.

Some parts of the report are factually misleading as well. For instance, it says:

” ..this [continuing instances of violence and boycott] has mounted pressure on the BSP which had passed a diktat making it compulsory for every government school to appoint a Dalit cook where there are two vacancies.”

It is not that the BSP government had a fancy idea one day and gave a “diktat” of their own to appoint Dalit cooks in the schools. There are Supreme Court orders regarding recruitment of cooks from marginalized communities. However, I think it is a commendable effort on the UP government’s side that they went ahead and implemented these orders. One such order says; “In appointment of cooks and helpers, preference shall be given to Dalits, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.” ]

That is not all. The report even swears by Mahatma Gandhi in an all out attempt to ridicule the Mayawati government.

“..What is worrying is that Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals about a classless society seem to have been forgotten.

And this is no isolated incident.

In July 2009, upper caste students in at least 15 villages of Kannauj  had stopped going to government schools. This year, the OBC students, too, joined them when schools reopened after the summer vacation..”

Seriously, who is coming in the way of an “ideal” society? Some poor dalit cooks? Or some people who consider themselves to be “upper-caste” and superior to others and refuse to eat the food cooked by others, more than 60 years past our independence? Or media like India Todayand journalists like Piyush Srivastava?

[Thanks to my friend Kuffir for sharing the link to the India Today article on facebook. Thanks to Oommen for pointing out the SC orders regarding appointment of cooks.]





Survey of Indian Information Technology Professionals

Hello. My name is Dr. Marilyn Fernandez, Professor of Sociology at Santa Clara University in California, U.S.A. I am conducting a study of professionals who work in Indian information technology companies. I would very much appreciate it if you would answer all of the following questions below. Please remember that there are neither right nor wrong answers to these questions. Please respond based on your experiences. Your honest responses would be greatly appreciated.

Your responses will be kept confidential and anonymous and will be presented only in the aggregate. This data will become the basis for a book that I’m writing. Thank you for your help in this project. If you have any questions, I can be reached at

Please go to where you will find the survey. Your password is ITSURVEY (IN CAPS).  It will take you approximately 20 minutes to complete the survey. Thank you, again, for sharing your work experiences with me.

Caste and faith first in companies, merit next: CNN IBN Report

Sumit PandeSumit Pande CNN-IBN
Posted on Oct 27, 2007 at 10:40 | Updated Oct 27, 2007 at 12:32

New Delhi: Liberalisation and a free market economy have not changed traditional biases in companies.

A study conducted by American and Indian scholars shows that there is a caste bias in the country’s private sector with companies preferring to recruit upper-caste candidates even if they are less qualified.

Two Princeton University researchers, who are studying discrimination in the new market economy, and Indian scholars like University Grants Chairperson Sukhdeo Thorat have found that even in the private sector merit is not always the guiding factor.

The researchers responded to 548 job advertisements in over 66 weeks and sent about 4,800 applications were sent. The applicants were divided into three broad categories: those who had conspicuous upper-caste surname, those who had clear Dalit surnames and the third group comprised those who had Muslim names. Broadly, all three categories had similar professional qualifications.

The results were shocking: For every 100 upper-caste candidates who received calls for interviews, only 67 Dalit and 33 Muslim candidates were called. Upper-caste candidates who were not well qualified got better responses than Dalit applicants with higher degrees.

“Here as well as in the USA, problems of discrimination remain persistent and are necessary to deal with in terms of policy,” says Princeton University Professor Katherine Newman.

Professor B C Mungekar of the Planning Commission said, “There is a basic conflict of the ascriptive role of caste in Indian society, in an achievement-oriented, market-based economy, over a period of time, particularly after 1991.”

This has proved beyond a doubt that there is an upper-caste preference in the job market. The study comes at a time then the government has been trying to attempting to convince the private sector that there is a need for affirmative action.