A caste-based society will overcome legal codes that make equality the norm unless people actively bring change.
Will we ever know the category-wise distribution of vice chancellors of the forty central universities located across the country? Thanks to the rules governing these universities, and those of the University Grants Commission, there is no such record.
This form of “castelessness” at the top is coupled with marginal representation of teachers from socially and physically marginalised sections. Be it the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes the Other Backward Classes or persons with disabilities, they are hardly ever appointed to teaching posts in central universities. A marker of the invisibilisation of these social groups is the fact that up to 96.65% of the posts of professor meant for candidates from these categories were unfilled on 1 January 2020.
This was discovered by a Delhi University teacher, who sought the information from the UGC under the Right to Information Act. More than 82% posts of professors meant for Scheduled Caste candidates, 93.98% posts meant for Scheduled Tribes and 96.65% posts meant for OBCs still remain vacant. The situation for associate professors is equally dismal, though there are fewer vacant posts of assistant professors for OBCs.
Any news can go viral these days but this explosive disclosure, which raises questions about recruitment procedures and their inherent biases was barely noticed. An explanation is that such news has lost its novelty. Perhaps everybody is aware of the metamorphosis of central universities into a new kind of Agraharam or abode of elite castes.
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The attitude of respect and reverence towards fellow men is yet to develop in India.
Does anybody still remember the Dalits of Chakwara, a village around 50km from Jaipur in Rajasthan, who had launched a struggle to gain access to the pond in their village? It is more than 18 years since the Dalits, supported by human rights organisations, won that fight for water. Their undertaking had echoes with the historic struggle launched by Dr BR Ambedkar in March 1927 at Chavdar tank at Mahad to assert the equal rights of Dalits to water. It is well known to most people that while animals were allowed to use the water of this tank in present-day Raigad district of the state, the Dalits were not. Anand Teltumbde has described the events of this satyagraha in his book, Mahad: The Making of the First Dalit Revolt, published by Navayana in 2016.
But what happened at Chakwara after the Dalits started using the village pond is hardly known: the upper castes slowly stopped using the water from the pond once the Dalits gained access to it, saying it had become “impure”. Enraged by the assertion of the Dalits and keen to humiliate them for it, they dug up the village sewer and directed the waste water to their own village pond. There is no change in the status quo there.
Around 700km away, in Viramgam near Ahmedabad in Gujarat, a village cemetery used by Dalits was recently flooded with sewer water, a stark reminder that the gap of two decades has not changed the caste scenario in the country. The executioners of this sinister plan in Viramgam were the residents of two housing societies in which the well-off and educated middle classes live. For more than the last six months, the graves of the socially-disadvantaged Vankar, Chamar, Rohit, Dangasia, Shetwa and other communities have been surrounded by dirty water. The district administration did not intervene on behalf of the Dalits despite their repeated complaints. The fact that dignity after death is being denied to marginalised communities did not seem to rouse the administration.
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