Discrimination against Dalits prevalent: study

09/03/2011

Caste discrimination practised against Dalits does not spare even panchayat presidents, reveals a study conducted in select districts of Tamil Nadu.

The study conducted by Evidence, a Madurai-based organisation, in 213 panchayats across 12 districts in the State has come up with its findings on myriad forms of discrimination experienced by Dalits under various categories.

The survey was held in Madurai, Dindigul, Virudhunagar, Sivagangai, Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, Salem, Namakkal, Cuddalore, Villupuram, Coimbatore and Tirupur.

Forty-five panchayat presidents from nine districts have given testimonies of discrimination, the survey reports. The discrimination takes the form of demand for appointment of Caste Hindu writer, refusal to cooperate with the panchayat president, obstructionist tactics by the Caste Hindu Ward members and panchayat vice-president to stall conduct of affairs and harassment of women panchayat presidents.

The 198-page report reveals an exhaustive account of various forms of discrimination and how they assume universality under certain categories. These include discrimination in temples, atrocities against Dalit women and discrimination in processions, burial of the dead and in offering services such as hair dressing and laundry to the Dalits.

With a few exceptions, almost all villages witness such discrimination.

RESTRICTIONS

Discrimination in temples varies from restrictions on entry to bar on touching the temple car rope and participation in festivities or allowing processions to go through Dalit colonies.

According to the report, 104 villages out of the total villages surveyed recorded the practice of two-tumbler system, revealing 49 per cent prevalence. Among them, 14 out of 22 villages in Coimbatore, 14 out of 24 villages in Dindigul, 13 out of 21 in Salem, 13 out of 17 villages in Virudhunagar, 11 out of 17 villages in Thanjavur and seven out of 13 villages in Madurai, recorded the practice.

In Nagapattinam, the study carried out in 16 villages in Vedaranyam reveals the prevalence of two tumbler system in Kodiakkarai, Vedananagar, Ayyakaranpulamirandamsethi, and Siriyankadu.

Of the categories, discrimination was negligible only in Government Hospitals and PHCs.

 

http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/tamil-nadu/article1515230.ece?sms_ss=facebook&at_xt=4d7643e28f06a51f,0

 


Honor Killings: I wish they had just left us alone, says Venkatesh

04/03/2011

Bageshree S. and M.T. Shivakumar

He wants justice for the death of his wife, son

Devastated:Venkatesh showing the photos of his four-month-old child, and wife, Deepika, suspected victims of an ‘honour’ killing.

Bangalore: “I wish they had just left us alone. We would have asked for nothing else all our lives.”

R. Venkatesh finds it hard to go on, breaking down as he looks at the pictures of his wife, K.R. Deepika, and four-month old son, suspected victims of “honour” killing at Thamasandra village in Ramanagaram district on February 27.

The Hindu carried a report on this incident on Tuesday.

The young couple’s “crime” was that they married in violation of the rigid laws of caste. The boy belongs to the Uppara community (an OBC community, Category 1) and the girl was from the Vokkaliga community, regarded higher in the caste hierarchy, and numerically stronger in the region.

Marriage despite opposition

Defying their families, the couple married on January 16, 2010 in a temple in Srirangapatna.

They lived away from their families for some time in Ganagarahundi, near Mysore, and later, in Channapatna. Mr. Venkatesh, a third-year dropout from RES College in Kanakapura, works as a plumber.

Ms. Deepika had finished her PU in NMKRV College, Bangalore.

They were neighbours in Karikalludoddi, in Ramanagaram district.

According to Mr. Venkatesh, Deepika’s family summoned her to her grandparents’ house in Thamasandra a month ago on the pretext that her grandmother was ill.

She was allegedly killed by the family on February 27. Mr. Venkatesh said that her family had earlier tried to get her back.

In fact, Deepika filed a complaint on November 20, 2010 at the Harohalli police station stating that her family had on one occasion called her back home only to coerce her into signing a paper relinquishing her property rights.

The next contact with the family was the final one. During that time, Deepika’s family tried to get the couple legally separated, said K. Prakash, an uncle of Mr. Venkatesh. The couple was not willing to do that. The six accused are absconding.

When The Hindu visited Thamasandra and Karikalludoddi, the only person from Deepika’s family left in the house was her aunt Sarojamma who claimed that the baby died of diarrhoea 15 days before the death of its “chronically asthmatic and mentally unstable mother”. Venkatesh could not be contacted as his phone was “switched off”, she said, adding that Deepika had been “ill-treated” by her husband, who did not have the means to look after her.

However, Mr. Venkatesh said that she had no history of bad health, producing her medical records during her pregnancy, which indicate no health problems.

Suspicion

Village residents The Hindu spoke to believe that Deepika was murdered by the family, although they were told by the family that she had committed suicide.

“We do not know what happened to the baby,” said one resident. None of them wanted to be identified.

“They (Ms. Deepika’s family) are powerful people. But I have lost my wife and child. I should get justice,” said Mr. Venkatesh.

http://www.hindu.com/2011/03/03/stories/2011030360830100.htm


Caste-based discrimination is crime

02/11/2010

‘Casteism is sin and caste based discrimination is crime’, affirmed Church leaders. The proclamation of this Jubilee was announced at a meeting of the Church leaders, theologians and Dalit activists, convened by the National Council of Churches in India in collaboration with the World Council of Churches. Since discrimination is contrary to the spirit of the gospel, Churches will have to be Zero Tolerance Zones with regard to the practice of caste discrimination, said the conference.

It was indeed a historic moment in the life and witness of the Churches India, since it was for the very first time church leaders, theological educators and social activists came together to wrestle with the issues relating to casteism prevalent both in Indian society and thus in the Church. They affirmed mutual partnership, and accompaniment with each other in carrying forward the mandate of Dalit liberation

“We commit to Lent 2011 to be a time of purging caste from our churches and towards developing resources, both theological and liturgical, for use of Sunday Schools, Youth Groups, Women’ s and Men’ s fellowships and church services” said the participants of this National Conference. The participants at the conference unanimously agreed on an affirmation of faith, an affirmation that condemns casteism and caste-based discrimination. This will direct the Churches toward developing a Churches Policy on Social Inclusion.

Bishop Dr. V. Devasahayam, President of Tamil Nadu Christian Council & Bishop of CSI-Madras Diocese in his opening devotion said, “The Indian Church is in a sorry state. Church will fail if it does not weed out caste within and outside. Both cannot go together as Christianity is life giving while casteism is a sin and scandal,” he further said, adding “Christ must save us from the abominable sin of caste. If He cant, then the Gospel is powerless.”

H.G. Geevergheese Mar Coorilos, Moderator of WCC-CWME exhorted the Churches on the need for Dalitisation of Indian Church, where a spirituality of dissent is expressed and experienced in our times today. He further said, “Churches have to be inclusive, and any discrimination in any form will not make it the body of Christ.”

Bishop Dr. Neethinathan, Member Bishop of the CBCI- Commission on SC/BC and Bishop of Chengalpet Catholic Diocese, called on the Churches in India to be sensitive and co-operative in owning up the issues of Dalits and to work relentlessly until we become caste-free.

Mr. Paul Divakar, General Secretary of NCDHR, welcomed the initiative to bring together the movements and Churches and challenged the Churches to translate the Holy Bible in the language of Human Rights, which can be reachable and relevant to the struggles of the Dalits today.

Ms. Rama Devi, from the Catholic Relief Service spoke on the violence against Dalits and Dalit woman, and called on the Churches to recognize the resilience of the victims in the face of suffering, while referring to the courage and witness of the survivors in the recent Kandhamal violence.

Mr. Bezawada Wilson, National Convener, Safai Karamchari Andolan, called on the leaders of the Churches to participate in the campaign to eliminate manual scavenging by 2010. He further urged, when every human being is the temple of God, let the Churches go to the temples of God that are forced into the undignified occupations like manual scavenging and liberate them from that bondage, and make the temples of God, the Churches relevant for our times.

Rev. Dr. James Massey, former Member of the National Minorities Commission, Government of India spoke on the missiological and prophetic challenges of the Churches in addressing the Dalit cause, and have called the churches to be the channels of giving ‘whole salvation’, which can bring in a transformation of the society.

The Conference was inaugurated by Bishop Dr. Taranath S. Sagar, President of NCCI, and in his opening address called on the Churches to act, for this is the moment of truth that has come. He further said, unless the Churches do the mission of God, i.e. Dalit liberation, in all sincerity and faithfulness to each of our calling, the generations next would make us accountable for not being able to live up to the task.

Office bearers of the NCCI, several heads of Churches including Bishops, Presidents, General Secretaries, theological educators, and activists from different Dalit social movements attended the conference. Rev. Dr. Deenabandhu Manchala, Programme Executive, WCC, Rev. Dr. Chandran Paul Martin, Deputy General Secretary of LWF, Ms. Constanze Ennen, Project Officer, EMW, Germany, Mr. Charlie O’ Campo, Executive Secretary, CCA-JID, Rev. Dr. Yim Tesoo, Minjung Theologian, Korea, Rev. David Haslem, Co-ordinator, Churches Support Group for Dalit Solidarity, UK, Dr. Walter Hahn, Co-ordinator, Dalit Solidarity Network, Germany, Dr. Aruna Gnanadasan, renowned lay theologian, Rev. Dr. Sathianathan Clarke, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington DC, and several other distinguished leaders, theologians and activists participated and accompanied the process. Bishop Dr. B.S. Devamani, Chairperson of NCCI-Commission on Dalits and Rev. Asir Ebenezer, Officiating General Secretary of NCCI, and Rev. Raj Bharath Patta, Executive Secretary, NCCI Commission on Dalits gave leadership to this conference. A concrete plan of action was proposed to accompany the affirmation of faith. It was agreed that NCCI and CBCI would produce different resources for Christian nurture and ministerial formation from Dalit perspectives in order that the Church can be accompanied in this commitment.

During the conference a booklet titled “Recipes in Resilience” containing 50 recipes of beef delicacies was released by the President of NCCI to register protest against the anti-cow slaughter movement in Karnataka, and to affirm the solidarity of the Churches to the Dalit and Muslim communities who will be affected. The Chairperson of the NCCI Commission on Dalits released the posters and liturgical resources for Dalit Liberation Sunday, a joint observance of NCCI and CBCI, to be observed on 5th December 2010.

Rev. Raj Bharath Patta,

Executive Secretary,

NCCI-Commission on Dalits

 


AP: Upper castes deny water to dalits in village

29/10/2010
First Published : 28 Oct 2010 04:03:01 AM IST
Last Updated : 28 Oct 2010 09:05:18 AM IST

NELLORE: Tension prevailed in Vaddipalem hamlet of Kothavangallu village panachayat in Kodavaluru mandal when the upper caste people of the village prevented dalits from the Dalitwada from using water of the village well.

As the news spread like wildfire, several dalit organisations rushed to the village resulting in exchange of arguments between the upper caste people and dalit leaders. District collector K Ramgopal directed the Kodavaluru MRO to get the pipeline fixed and restore water supply from the well to the Dalitwada and submit a report on the incident immediately.

Vaddipalem, 30 km from here, has two wells, one used by the upper castes and the other by dalits. The water in the well meant for dalits got contaminated a few months ago. Following a request by the dalits, the collector sanctioned Rs1 lakh for laying a pipeline from the other well in the village to supply drinking water to the Dalitwada.

According to Kodavalur tahsildar N Syamalamma, the two groups had agreed to the arrangement and things went smoothly.

However, four days ago, an upper caste person had allegedly de-linked the pipeline cutting of water to Dalits.When the dalits went to the well to fetch water, they were chased away by the upper caste people. The dalits were forced to use the contaminated water for the last four days.

As the news spread, several dalit leaders from other places rushed to the village in support of the local dalits.

MRPS district president J Ramanaiah condemned the ill-treatment of dalits and said even after six decades of independence, caste discrimination was still prevalent and Vaddipallem incident stood  testimony to it. Bahujan Samaj Party Kovur incharge B Mastanaiah said it was unfortunate that discrimination against dalits was still continuing.

Courtesy: http://expressbuzz.com/states/andhrapradesh/ap-upper-castes-deny-water-to-dalits-in-village/218707.html


The ‘upper caste’ renders Dalits of Saligrama jobless Mysore

08/10/2010
About 500 Dalits have been ostracised since September 26

 

‘Authorities have not visited the 

village’

 

CPI(M) threatens dharna

 


 

MYSORE: As many as 500 Dalit families belonging to Saligrama village in K.R. Nagar taluk have been in dire straits following social ostracism by members of an “upper caste” community for the last two weeks.

K.R. Nagar taluk is primarily an agricultural region and Saligrama has a population of nearly 10,000 people. Of them, 2,000, comprising about 500 families, belong to the Holaya community. What set it off

The immediate cause for the social boycott of the Holayas was a petty incident. Some cattle belonging to the “upper caste” community was found grazing on the land belonging to one Govindaraju, a Dalit. Govindaraju took objection to the cattle being on his land as he was entirely dependent on the land for his livelihood.

Govindaraju had an altercation with members of the “upper caste” community on the matter, which led to him being assaulted. Govindaraju immediately filed a police complaint seeking protection. The “upper caste” members feeling that he had “exceeded his limits” by daring to file a police complaint, decided to boycott the Dalits from September 26.

The incident came into the public domain after a fact-finding committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), led by State secretariat member Maruti Manpade, visited Saligrama on Monday and shared their findings with the media.

The team visited the village and discovered that all Dalits had been dismissed from their jobs while those who employ their women folk as housemaids were asked to pay Rs. 2,000 for not abiding by the diktat of the “upper caste”. “What is worse is that those who brought this ‘violation’ to the notice of the ‘leaders’ were rewarded with Rs. 500, according to Varalakshmi, who was part of the CPI(M) team. The CPI(M) members said the Dalits in Saligrama were being denied work in farms while those who were working as lorry drivers, auto drivers and electricians had lost their jobs.

No action

He said the police had failed to take action against the guilty. “We tried to contact the officials but they said they were unable to attend to the complaint immediately because of Dasara. They have not bothered to visit the village,” he added. The CPI(M) has threatened to launch a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office if the authorities fail to address the problem before Dasara.

———-

The Hindu


How People Like Sunita Jatav Make India Beautiful

29/09/2010

How people like Sunita Jatav make India beautiful
By Jawed Naqvi
Monday, 27 Sep, 2010

 

Dalits, who belong to the lowest of castes according to the Indian caste system, listen to a speaker at a rally to mark World Dignity Day, in New Delhi, India. –Photo by AP

 

Dalits, who belong to the lowest of castes according to the Indian caste system, listen to a speaker at a rally to mark World Dignity Day, in New Delhi, India. –Photo by AP

The fuss about Delhi’s Commonwealth Games is just that: fuss. Heavens will not fall if an athlete finds a stray dog sleeping in his or her bed. Or if a visitor lands in hospital in this season of dengue fever. Or if Delhiites are put to inconvenience for a few days by commuting restrictions that the events logistics demand. These are small box item stories.
Much of the criticism of the event’s shabby handling has been aired by the western media for pretty much the same reason that saw them going to town over a hair in a soup bowl during the spectacular Beijing Olympics. This is not to say that Delhi Commonwealth show in any way comes close to the Beijing extravaganza. A few in the western media enjoy making developing countries like India and China look small.

Their Indian collaborators fare no better. They are evidently embarrassed that “their” fair name has been besmirched in the melee. To them the Commonwealth fiasco has sullied the image of India Shining. It has hurt the pride of their class more than anything involving corruption or ineptness generally. Now we hear the Delhi government has deputed dog-catchers to remove stray animals from around sports complexes and athletes’ residences.

There is far greater, widespread and entrenched corruption that an average Indian has to face on a daily basis than the sordid Commonwealth saga represents. And it starts at the top of the politico-corporate heap. It is foolish to expect the squalor that most people live in in this superpower-in-the-making to be in the news for the upper crust Indian media. That ordinary Indians – as opposed to those flaunted on TV – are a beautiful people who imbue even their suffering with a humane narrative hardly gets mentioned.

What the media have not told us is that 500 metres from the main stadium, under the Lodi Road flyover, live families of street hawkers and beggars. And it is a common sight, particularly late in the night, to see these dispossessed citizens of the country sharing their hard-earned bread with street dogs. Animal rights activists, buoyed by the recent surge in their income, may have identified Maneka Gandhi as their icon. The rest of the country will soon know that it is Sunita Jatav, the Dalit woman from Morena, the upper caste dacoit dominated region of Madhya Pradesh, who really makes India invincible and beautiful.

Sunita’s story was first recounted by historian Romila Thapar on Friday, when the ageing scholar chaired a discussion about the corporate nature and essential prejudices of the media. The main speaker was P. Sainath, author of the ground-breaking book Everybody Loves a Good Drought. Sainath recalled that there was hardly any Dalit journalist in the so-called mainstream media leaving the field open to incestuous prejudices to flourish. Sunita Jatav was subjected to the same prejudice. What was her story? Here’s the BBC version:

“Police in India are investigating claims that a Dalit woman has been ordered to pay compensation to the high-caste owners of a dog she fed.

“The woman says the village council wants her to pay a fine of 15,000 rupees ($330) for feeding the dog, which the owners have now kicked out. They are reported to have said the dog is “untouchable”, but deny being motivated by caste considerations. Although widespread, discrimination against Dalits is an offence in India. Dalits, who make up nearly 20 per cent of the Indian population, say little has changed despite the government enacting various laws banning caste-based discrimination.

“The incident took place in Malikpur village in Morena district in central Madhya Pradesh state. “I made some roti [Indian bread] and took it to my husband who works in a farm. After I had fed him, we had some leftovers which I gave to the dog,” the Dalit woman, Sunita Jatav, said. She said the owner of the dog, Amrutlal Kirari, saw her feeding him. “He got very angry and said ‘You’ve fed my dog, it has become an untouchable now’.”

“Mrs Jatav said Mr Kirari left the dog, a black mongrel called Sheru, tied to a pole outside her house.

“On Monday, the village council met and decided that Sheru had been defiled and hence Mr Kirari should be paid 15,000 rupees as compensation, Mrs Jatav alleged. On Tuesday, she approached the district collector of Morena who ordered an inquiry into the incident. Senior police officer in the area, Baldev Singh, told the BBC that he was investigating the matter. He said Mr Kirari had alleged that after eating the bread, Sheru fell ill.

“Mr Kirari said he abandoned the dog at Mrs Jatav’s house so she could look after it and nurse it back to health, Mr Singh added. Dalits – formerly untouchables – are considered at the bottom of the Hindu caste system. Any discrimination against them is an offence and punishable by law.”

Sunita Jatav’s story captures the unsung Indian who comprises more than 840 million that earn less than 20 rupees a day. In their poverty they are giving. With a range of prejudices stalking them they remain generous. Where Amrutlal Kirari represents the abrasive Indian, who spurs the ascendant polity, Sunita Jatav symbolises the underclass whose pride is not tied to a national flag or political slogans, and who brings to life India’s fabled but relentlessly abused humaneness.

Sainath, a Tamil Brahmin who speaks and campaigns for India’s Dalits, had forwarded me another vignette about the state of play in this realm.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) under the Constitution of free India started functioning from January 26, 1950. The UPSC conducted its first examination to recruit personnel for the IAS and Central Services the same year. The First Report of the UPSC does not mention the number of SC/ST (Dalit/Tribal) candidates. But it discloses that Achyutananda Das was the country’s first Dalit (SC) to make it to the IAS in 1950 itself. He was, in fact, the topper of his batch in the written examination.

Achyutananda Das, from West Bengal, secured 613 out of 1050 marks in written examination whereas N. Krishnan from Madras secured 602. But in the interview, Krishnan secured 260 out of 300 as against 110 by Achyutananda Das. Thus Achyutananda was left miles behind by the upper caste Krishnan due to the latter’s performance in the viva-voce test.

But the case of Aniruddha Dasgupta, also from West Bengal, is both interesting and revealing. The margin of difference of marks between Achyutananda Das and N. Krishnan in written papers being eleven only so in the interview if the latter outstripped the former, there is not much surprise perhaps. But the written and viva-voce marks of Aniruddha Dasgupta in comparison with those of Achyutananda Das raise a number of issues.

Dasgupta secured the highest marks in viva-voce among all successful candidates recommended for appointment to the IAS, IPS, IFS, etc. But it was also he who got the lowest aggregate as well as the lowest average of all those qualified for appointment to the IAS and Allied Services. Further, he scored the lowest marks of all the qualified candidates in General Knowledge.

Dasgupta scored 26.66 per cent in General Knowledge, 47.04 per cent in written aggregate but an astounding 88.33 per cent in Personality Test as against 52.66 per cent, 58.38 per cent and 36.66 per cent respectively scored by Achyutananda Das. The margin of difference of marks between Das and Dasgupta in written examination was as vast as 119. Reduced into percentage, Das was an unbridgeable 11.33 per cent ahead of Dasgupta.

Any candidate strong in General Knowledge is usually expected to face the Selection Board very confidently and to perform competently. Aniruddha Dasgupta’s poorest (26.66 per cent) score amongst all successful candidates in General Knowledge notwithstanding; he must have thrown up the biggest surprise by scoring the highest marks in the interview.

His viva-voce score of 265 which was followed by Krishnan with 260, not only helped him make up the vast gap between him and Achyutananda Das but he left the latter far behind.

In the ultimate count, Krishnan topped; Aniruddha Dasgupta occupied the 22nd position in the merit list and Achyutananda Das was assigned the 48th position. As they lose patience with lingering prejudices, India’s Dalits, like Sunita Jatav, still continue to sanctify a fairer if more elusive interpretation of the idea of India. They know their struggle is Olympian in its challenges and they don’t seem to mind that they don’t have a voice in the mainstream media. They will probably find more compelling ways to press home their point.

jawednaqvi@gmail.com