Tag Archives: caste

How Many Times Will India Deny Apartheid?

Darren Sammy has revealed he faced racism in India at a time when the world is battling racism. India needs to join this fight.

Darren Sammy has revealed he faced racism

Darren Sammy, the famous all-rounder from West Indies, is a legend. He has led his country team and is the only captain to have won two T20 World Cups, in 2012 and 2016. His achievements in the arena of cricket are not limited to his country. He played a singular role in reviving Pakistan’s cricket team and preparing it for international matches, which earned him an honorary citizenship.

And thus the revelation that he was subjected to racial taunts by his own teammates, during his tour to India in 2013 and 2014, while he played IPL matches, was a bolt from the blue. His admirers were naturally aghast when Sammy disclosed that his teammates at SunRisers Hyderabad used to address him with a pejorative term and collectively sneer at him.

On some occasions, Sammy said, he too would smile back at his gleeful teammates, for he had innocently believed that it was light-hearted banter, even though directed at him. Sammy was completely oblivious to the fact that they were targeting him with a racist invective and enjoying “jokes” that he could not comprehend at his expense.

No doubt many of those who subjected him to humiliation were big names in Indian cricket. Yet it did not cause any uproar in India when Sammy made the truth known to the world via an Instagram post. The 24/7 news channels, which are forever searching for sensational news, and the cricketing fraternity, were quiet. None came forward to denounce the humiliation of Sammy, nor was there a public apology from the offenders. Only Swara Bhaskar, the actress, who espouses social causes rather fearlessly, demanded an apology from his teammates.

( Read the full text here)

Whatever Happened to Struggle Against Untouchability

Untouchability Walls keep rising and falling in Tamil Nadu.

Whatever Happened to Struggle

BR Ambedkar wrote in Annihilation of Caste that “…the world owes much to rebels who would dare to argue in the face of the pontiff and insist that he is not infallible. I do not care about the credit which every progressive society must give to its rebels. I shall be satisfied if I make the Hindus realize that they are the sick men of India, and that their sickness is causing danger to the health and happiness of other Indians.”

In 2008, Uthapuram, a village in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, had made national headlines. It was the year when the Karunanidhi-led DMK state government had taken the initiative to demolish a portion of a thirty-metre wall that had been raised by the dominant Pillaimar community, an OBC caste which had wanted to keep residents of the Devandra Kula Vellalar community, which falls under the Scheduled Caste category, out of the Mariamman temple.

Built in 1989, this wall had become a symbol of segregation based on caste and organisations like Tamil Nadu Anti Untouchability Front, along with other groups and individuals had been conducting agitations to end this discrimination. Finally, the DMK government was forced to take action.

This was perhaps the first time that the rest of India came to know about the prevalence of this pernicious practice in Tamil Nadu. The demolition of the wall was projected as a significant step to move towards caste annihilation.

The recent death of 17 dalits in Mettupalayam wall collapse, in which members of the arunthathiyar dalit caste lost their lives is a reminder of how our celebrations were premature. And that when it comes to caste and its attendant exclusions and discriminations, India still has miles to go.

(Read the full article here https://www.newsclick.in/Whatever-Happened-Struggle-Against-Untouchability)

Cyclone Fani: Prejudice in Times of Natural Disasters

Caste discrimination, even while faced with a calamity, is a clear outcome of the brahminical ideology of purity and pollution that has permeated deep into Indian society.

Cyclone Fani: Prejudice in Times of Natural Disasters

Image Courtesy: Al Jazeera

“[U]ntouchability, is a kind of disease of the Hindus…it is a mental twist…. I do not know how my friend is going to untwist the twist which the Hindus have got for thousands of years unless they are all sent to some kind of hospital.’ Dr B.R.Ambedkar , 1954

Cyclone Fani is over.

Despite being one of the strongest cyclones to hit India in last two decades the manner in which the state most affected by it — Odisha — was successful in keeping loss of life and numbers of affected people to a minimum has earned it kudos even from its critics.

People are slowly trying to pick up threads to restart their lives

It is rather difficult to say whether it will be easy for dalit villagers of Baripada village — part of Patali panchayat — to do so, who had to endure callous and inhuman behaviour from their own village brethren, during the stormy winds. Around 85 of them from 25 families were denied entry to three shelters located within a radius of approximately four km by ‘upper caste’ people. Nandini (name changed) belonging to the Dom caste narrated how they had to ultimately take shelter beside an uprooted banyan tree, while it was raining heavily.

( Read the full text here : https://www.newsclick.in/cyclone-fani-prejudice-times-natural-disasters)

Nehru, Ambedkar and Challenge of Majoritarianism

Image result for nehru ambedkar

( Photo courtesy : The hoot)

(To be published in the special issue of ‘Janata’)

 

The spectacle of what is called religion, or at any rate organised religion, in India and elsewhere, has filled me with horror and I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it. Almost always it seemed to stand for blind belief and reaction, dogma and bigotry, superstition, exploitation and the preservation of vested interests.

– Toward Freedom: The Autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru (1936), pp. 240–241.

If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country. No matter what the Hindus say, Hinduism is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. On that account it is incompatible with democracy. Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost.

– Ambedkar, ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’, p. 358.

Introduction

India’s slow ushering into a majoritarian democracy is a matter of concern for every such individual who still believes in pluralism, democracy, equality and a clear separation of religion and politics. The way people are being hounded for raising dissenting opinions, for eating food of their choice or entering into relationships of their own liking or celebrating festivals according to their own faith is unprecedented. The situation has reached such extremes that one can even be publicly lynched for belonging to one of the minority religions or for engaging in an activity which is considered to be ‘suspicious’ by the majority community.

No doubt there is no direct harm to the basic structure of the Constitution, its formal structure remains intact, de jure India does remain a democracy as well as a republic, but de facto democracy has slowly metamorphosed into majoritarianism and the sine qua non of a republic—that its citizens are supreme—is being watered down fast. It does not need underlining that this process has received tremendous boost with the ascent of Hindutva supremacist forces at the centrestage of Indian politics. Continue reading Nehru, Ambedkar and Challenge of Majoritarianism

[Watch] Marching with the Bhim Army!

 

This October, a colleague and I tracked a group of young Dalits fighting caste atrocities in Uttar Pradesh. The documentary posted above is one part of an extended multimedia project. See the entire project here: https://www.thequint.com/quintlab/ambedkar-dalit-army-fights-caste-atrocities-in-uttar-pradesh/

Ambedkar and the Environmental Tradition

The 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar was celebrated in April 2016 all around, so much so that the United Nations, for the first time, observed this day with a focus on achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As we know, the 17 goals along with 169 targets and 304 indicators, adopted in September 2015, aspire to transform our world by balancing the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. The ‘plan of action for people, planet and prosperity’ has environment at its core, along with poverty and inequality: to ‘protect planet’, create ‘healthy environment’, and ensure equality, dignity and development ‘in harmony with nature’. And Ambedkar is found in this regard to be an apt and inspiring leader.

The world can see traces of Ambedkar’s vision in the SDGs and can find his views relevant for environmental sustainability, but not the Indian environmentalists! Indian environmental movements marginalize Ambedkar. From a historical past, environmental scholars have placed Gandhi at the apex of their inspiration. Recently, Nehru and Indira Gandhi too have been constructed through an ecological lens. However, Ambedkar’s engagement with the environmental question has been relatively unexplored, even when his thoughts and interventions on nature, village, land, agriculture, water, community, industry, technology and science are some of the enduring issues of India’s environmental and political traditions. In comparison with Gandhi, credited with having an intuitive critique of modern civilization, Ambedkar has often been criticized for his modernization vision, which it is argued, drew heavily on the west for inspiration (Nagaraj 2010: 56-7)

Continue reading Ambedkar and the Environmental Tradition

[Audio: Hindi] Prashant Jha on Upper Caste Madhesis taking the Sorry Pledge

In the second instance of what I hope will become a regular feature on Kafila, I caught up with fellow journalist and Kafila contributor Prashant Jha on the We Are Sorry Campaign for Social Reform in Madhes , where upper-caste Nepali Hindus acknowledge they have benefited from the centuries long oppression of pretty much everyone else.

In our conversation Prashant addresses the substantive and well-founded criticism of the pledge [another example of upper-castes setting the terms of debate and discourse, largely symbolic] as well as broader questions of Nepali politics and nation-hood.

He will respond to comments on this site. Let me know if there are any particular themes you would like us to explore in our new audio work. All audio files in this series are freely downloadable, and shareable – so you can download them to your phone and listen on your commute to where ever.

 

How to be free of Caste – Guest Post by Suhas Borker

Guest Post by Suhas Borker

This year, India has sponsored the observation of the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar at the United Nations for the first time. The Permanent Mission of India to the UN shall commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of the Dalit icon on April 13 at the UN headquarters, a day before his date of birth, with an international seminar on ‘Combating inequalities to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’. A note circulated by the Indian mission says that the “national icon” remains an inspiration for millions of Indians and proponents of equality and social justice across the globe. “Fittingly, although it’s a matter of coincidence, one can see the trace of Babasaheb’s radiant vision in the SDGs adopted by the UN General Assembly to eliminate poverty, hunger and socio-economic inequality by 2030.”

Juxtapose this with a recent report on caste-based discrimination by the United Nations Human Right Council’s Special Rapporteur for minority issues that has stung the Indian government, provoking it to raise questions about the lack of “seriousness of work” in the UN body and the special rapporteur’s mandate. Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution, would definitely not be pleased. Nor are the Dalit rights activists in India and abroad.

( Read the rest of the piece here : http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/how-to-be-free-of-caste-in-india/article8467518.ece?homepage=true)

Appreciating Diversity, Corporate Style – Guest Post by Anonymous

Guest Post by Anonymous

A senior leader of India’s leading IT Services Company took a moment on March 8th to send a note to his colleagues wishing them on International Women’s Day.  In the mailer, he also exhorted his colleagues, among other things, to strive towards building an environment that appreciates variety. The variety of Race, Ethnicity, Gender or Generation! He did not stop there, but went on to talk about drawing strength from these differences. Caste, quite evidently, is conspicuous by its absence in the corporate discourse on diversity (or variety as they also like to call it).

What is it that makes Corporate India, or a part of it, sensitive towards race issues/matters on one hand but allows them ignore caste on the other? Is it reflective of what a social activist friend once mentioned to me in a private conversation – Caste is only visible from “down below” and not “up above”? Continue reading Appreciating Diversity, Corporate Style – Guest Post by Anonymous

स्मृति ईरानी को एक जे-एन-यू के छात्र की चिट्ठि: अनन्त प्रकाश नारायण

Guest Post by Anant Prakash Narayan

सेवा में,

श्रीमती स्मृति ईरानी जी

“राष्ट्रभक्त” मानव संसाधन विकास मंत्री,

भारत सरकार

संसद में दिए गए आपके भाषण को सुना. इससे पहले की मै अपनी बात रखूँ , यह स्पष्ट कर दूं की यह पत्र किसी “बच्चे” का किसी “ममतामयी” मंत्री के नाम नहीं है बल्कि यह पत्र एक खास विचारधारा की राजनीति करने वाले व्यक्ति का पत्र दूसरे राजनैतिक व्यक्ति को है. सबसे पहले मै यह स्पष्ट कर दूं कि मै किसी भी व्यक्ति की योग्यता का आकलन उसकी शैक्षणिक योग्यता के आधार पर नहीं करता हूँ बल्कि साफ़ साफ़ कहूं तो मै “योग्यता”(मेरिट) के पूरे कांसेप्ट को खारिज करता हूँ.

मानव संसाधन मंत्रालय का पद भार लेने के साथ ही यह अपेक्षा की जाती है कि आप इस देश के केंद्रीय विश्वविद्यालयों में उनकी ऑटोनोमी का सम्मान करते हुए उसके लिए उत्तरदायी होंगी. रोहित वेमुला के मामले में आपने क्या किया यह सबके सामने है कि किस तरह से वहाँ के प्रशासन पर आपने दबाव डाला जिसका नतीजा रोहित के institutional मर्डर के रूप में हमारे सामने आया. लेकिन मै इन सारी चीजो पर अभी बात नही करना चाहता. आप बार बार अपनी औरत होने की पहचान (आइडेंटिटी) को assert करतीं हैं और इसको करना भी चाहिए क्यूंकि नारी जाति उन ढेर सारे हाशिये पर किए गए लोगों में एक है जिनको सदियों से शोषित किया गया है. मै आपसे यह पूछना चाहता हूँ कि एक दलित स्त्री जो कि हर तकलीफ उठाते हुए अकेले अपने दम पर जब अपने बेटे बेटियों को इस समाज में एक सम्मानपूर्ण जगह देने के लिए संघर्ष कर रही थी तब एक नारी होने के कारण आप की क्या जिम्मेदारी बनती थी ? क्या आपको उस महिला के जज्बे को सलाम करते हुए उसकी बहादुरी के आगे सर झुकाते हुए उसके साथ नहीं खड़ा होना चाहिए था? हाँ, मै रोहित की माँ के बारे में बात कर रहा हूँ. जो महिला इस ब्रहामणवादी व पितृसत्तात्मक समाज से लड़ी जा रही थी, अपने बच्चों को अपने पहचान से जोड़ रही थी, उस महिला को आप व आपकी सरकार उसके पति की पहचान से क्यूँ जोड़ रहे थे? आपको भी अच्छा लगता होगा की आपकी अपनी एक स्वतंत्र पहचान है. लेकिन यह अधिकार आप उस महिला से क्यूँ छीन  रहीं थीं? क्या आप भी पितृसत्तात्मक व ब्रहामणवादी समाज के पक्ष में खड़ी होती हैं? अपना पूरा नाम बताते हुए अपनी जाति के बारे में आपने सवाल पूछा और आपका भाषण खत्म होने के पहले ही लोगों ने आपकी जाति निकाल दी. मै आपकी जाति के बारे में कोई दिलचस्पी नहीं रखता हूँ और मै यह बिलकुल नहीं मानता हूँ की अगर आप उच्च जाति के होते हैं तो आप जातिवादी ही होंगे लेकिन आपके विभाग/मंत्रालय के तरफ से जो चिट्ठियाँ लिखी गई उसमे रोहित और उसके साथियों को जातिवादी /caste-ist बताया. मैडम क्या आप caste-ism और  caste assertion का अन्तर समझती हैं? मै समझता हूँ की आप ये अन्तर भली – भाँति समझती हैं क्यूंकि आर एस एस जो आपकी सरकार और मंत्रालय को चलाता है, वह वर्ण व्यवस्था के नाम पर जाति व्यस्वस्था को भारतीय समाज की आत्मा समझता है और आर-एस-एस के एजेंडे को लागू करवाने की राजनैतिक दृढ़ता हमने समय समय पर आप में देखी हैं.

Continue reading स्मृति ईरानी को एक जे-एन-यू के छात्र की चिट्ठि: अनन्त प्रकाश नारायण

Judicial Indiscipline or a Cry for Help – The Interim Stay Order of Justice Karnan: Amita Dhanda

This is a Guest Post by AMITA DHANDA

Justice Karnan a sitting judge of the Madras High Court was transferred from Madras to Kolkatta to resolve the administrative logjam between Justice Karnan and the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court. 21other judges of the High Court also complained that it was difficult to work with Justice Karnan. The soft solution did not yield the desired result as the transferred judge invoked his alleged judicial power and pronounced an interim stay of his own transfer order. The stay he ruled would hold until the Chief Justice of India filed a written statement explaining the transfer order, which he contended was in breach of a 1993 judgement of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court punctured this defiance by asking the Chief Justice of Madras High Court not to allocate any judicial work to the Judge. The judicial crisis has passed but the administrative and human challenge remains.

How should we as citizens view this exchange? How should this incident be understand by us? One way of looking at the episode is through the legal lens of constitutionality, due process and jurisdiction. The other is to perceive the lived reality of a Dalit judge when elevated to the higher judiciary. An analysis of the incident, only vis a vis the requirements of the law, would not provide even a working hypothesis on what caused Justice Karnan to adopt a course of action, which many would perceive as suicidal for his career. The eccentricity explanation, which is doing the rounds, conveniently escapes the matter of caste discrimination. Consequently, this piece firstly examines the manner in which existing law speaks to Justice Karnan’s decision; then dwells on the question of caste discrimination and lastly cogitates on possible ways of addressing this all pervasive discrimination.

Continue reading Judicial Indiscipline or a Cry for Help – The Interim Stay Order of Justice Karnan: Amita Dhanda

The Terror That Is Man: Shaj Mohan

Guest post by SHAJ MOHAN

Manifold is the un-homely, yet nothing is more un-homely than man — Sophocles

The middle of the previous century is understood to be the termination of all kinds of containments of man, having witnessed the worst containment in the Camp[i]. This termination resulted from a crisis that is both philosophical and political: what is the de-termination of man such that he is not the contained? A summary of this scenario is found in a trivial understanding of Foucault’s statements concerning “the end of man” (The Order of Things) and Derrida’s deconstruction of the notion of the “the end” in his essay “Ends of Man” (Margins of Philosophy). As a result of the exigencies of the philosophical and the political, the concept of the state located itself, in the occidental domain, away from the containers. The State would no longer claim to be the clergy and the sovereign of containers such as race and religion. Instead, the State demanded only the right to primary containment—first Indian and then Muslim, first British then White, first Spanish then Basque. The list, the differences, the classification and the management of all the other containers—religion, caste, language, race, public, private—were left up to the new clerics, the new academic disciplines and the NGOs. If all containers were opened up then everything should have flooded out and mixed to form a substance of a new world of people; rather, a substantiality for the in-terminable formation of people. This new people-substance should have dissolved the traces of all the containers, the way science-fiction often imagines the future to be. It should have left for us tales which are the negative of memories, that is, taboos, or myths. For example, the tales that we received about incest from the ancients, the tales of cannibalism in fairy tales, the tales of the world’s resistance to Nazism. Continue reading The Terror That Is Man: Shaj Mohan

Missing the Forest for Trees – Caste System’s Shadow on Rohith’s Suicide : Sanjay Kumar

Guest Post by Sanjay Kumar

(Photo Courtesy : Prokerala.com)

Mainstream politics over Rohith Vemula’s suicide is becoming hot and ugly. Although whisper campaigns against Rothith’s dalit identity were on since his suicide, the BJP’s central leadership had been relatively quiet after HRD minister’s rather shrieky ‘appeal’ to not play caste politics over his suicide. However, now it seems daggers are out. The party in power, whose two ministers are accused of creating conditions leading to Rohith’s suicide, has decided that Rohith’s non-dalit status is the dog it is going to beat to counter its anti-dalit image. Rohith’s mother is a Mala, a Scheduled Caste, who lives seperately from his father, a backward caste Vaddera. He got an SC certificate on the basis of showing that he grew up in his mother’s Mala household. BJP’s strategy may look petty, but it is based on the age-old great Hindu tradition which can not contenance any violation of the privileges of the patrilineal system. After all, marital rape does enjoy legal sanction in India to this day. Continue reading Missing the Forest for Trees – Caste System’s Shadow on Rohith’s Suicide : Sanjay Kumar

What the Sunped Atrocity Tells Us About Caste in Haryana: Tanvi Ahuja

Guest Post by Tanvi Ahuja

The recent Dalit atrocity in Sunped, Ballabgarh is a stark reminder of how caste continues to shape our society and our very existence and dignity. Yes, it was an atrocity and any attempts to hide the same in the garb of personal dispute or family feud are not only misleading but a great disservice to the lived experiences of Dalits in this country.

Sunped is just another Jat- dominated village in the caste underbelly of the state of Haryana, famous for the Mirchpur atrocity that saw a 70- year old Dalit and his daughter burnt alive in 2010. Jitender’s is one of the approximately 80 Dalit families in Sunped, comprising the Chamaars and Balmikis. His immediate family and relatives are an educated lot; many of them employed in stable private sector jobs. The family also has a strong political lineage- Jitender’s grandfather and brother, Jagmal have held the office of Sarpanch in the last two decades, except in 2005-10 when the wife of the main accused Balwant became the Sarpanch on the reserved seat for women. It was Balwant however who called the shots throughout his wife’s term. Continue reading What the Sunped Atrocity Tells Us About Caste in Haryana: Tanvi Ahuja

‘Merit’ Kills: An Open Letter to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes from Kerala

[This was sent to me by a group of concerned people. They prefer to stay nameless only because our educational institutions, especially technical institutions, which were never really liberal at any point, are now turning notoriously illiberal. The letter points to grave injustice which needs to be investigated and ended. The death of the young female Dalit student is a repeat almost of a similar suicide in Kerala by another female dalit student of Engineering a few years ago, who met her end strangled by ‘merit’, greed, and callous indifference. Here, the greed of the private sector in technical education cannot be blamed.]

Continue reading ‘Merit’ Kills: An Open Letter to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes from Kerala

Withdraw police case against Prof Kancha Ilaiah and revoke the ban on Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle : People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism

Public Statement issued by People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) on 6 June, 2015

A case has been filed by the Hyderabad police against well known Dalit writer and academic Kancha Ilaiah on a complaint by Vishwa Hindu Parishad members for hurting their religious sentiments. The complaint was filed on the basis of Ilaiah’s article Devudu Prajasamya Vada Kada? (Is God a democrat?) published in a Telugu daily on May 9. In the said article Ilaiah had argued that the possibility of democracy, or its lack inside different religious groups depend on the conception of their God(s). The VHP activists have accused Prof Ilaiah of comparing Hindu gods with God in Christianity and Islam, and of ridiculing their worship. Police have filed a case under sections 153A and 295A which prescribe imprisonment upto three years for spreading enmity among groups of people and outraging religious feelings. The police action against Ilaiah has come around the same time that the IIT Madras has derecognised a student group Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle that organises discussions around socio-cultural and political issues. The group was derecognised after an anonymous complaint against it was filed with the central HRD ministry. While many political parties and groups have justifiably come out in support of the APSC, it is surprising that Prof Ilaiah has received little solidarity. Both these incidences are a proof of the aggressive intent of Hindutva forces to attack any discourse which publicly questions their castiest, Brahminical and majoritarian understanding of Indian society. Successes of Mr Narendra Modi in the recent elections have emboldened them further . Continue reading Withdraw police case against Prof Kancha Ilaiah and revoke the ban on Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle : People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism

No To Ambedkar-Periyar in ‘Modern Day Agraharam’?

Whether discussing issues of contemporary concern among students, raising debates around them on the campus – taking inspiration from the ideas of leading social revolutionaries of 20th century – should be construed as an act of creating ‘social disharmony’ or ‘spreading hatred’ ?

Any sane person would rather reject this weird proposal but it appears that the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) think otherwise. It was evident in the way they acted on an anonymous complaint regarding the activities of a group of students in IIT Madras which calls itself ‘Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle’ (APSC) – which comprises mainly of dalit, bahujan and adivasi students. Perhaps they were worried that the particular students group, has been critical about PM Modi’s policies and has been raising issues of caste, communalism as well as corporate loot of resources and challenging the ‘development’ narrative which is popular these days among a section of people. The impetuosity with which they acted when they wrote to the management of the Institute can also be gauged from the fact that in this process they violated the recommendations of the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) itself which has ‘barred’ organisations from taking action on such (anonymous) complaints.

As of now the issue of ‘derecognition’ of APSC by the IITM management, has snowballed into a major controversy, with issues of curtailment of freedom of expression, infringement of autonomy of educational institutions and dominance of caste in higher education all coming to the fore. Continue reading No To Ambedkar-Periyar in ‘Modern Day Agraharam’?

Bombay Pavement Dwellers and Olga Tellis – A Quiet Verdict in Ahmedabad: N. Jayaram

Guest Post by N. Jayaram

After the order in the case of film star Salman Khan over a 2002 hit-and-run case was delivered by Sessions Court Judge D.W. Deshpande on Wednesday, 6 May 2015, there understandably were divided opinions on whether he deserved to be handed five years in jail.

But the rather more shockingly breath-taking comments from some of his friends in the industry and his fans were to do with pavement dwellers, such as the victim Nurullah Mahboob Sharif.

“Kutta rd pe soyega kutte ki maut marega, roads garib ke baap ki nahi hai (If a dog sleeps on the road, he’ll die a dog’s death. Roads are not poor people’s property)…,” singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya tweeted. “Roads are meant for cars and dogs not for people sleeping on them…,” he said, appealing to the film industry to back the star, whose sentence has now been suspended by the High Court.

Designer Farah Khan Ali chipped in with this:  “No one should be sleeping on the road or footpath. It is dangerous to do that just like it is dangerous to cross tracks.” She quite rightly laid the blame on the state: “The govt should be responsible for housing ppl. If no1 was sleeping on d road in any other country Salman wuld not have driven over anybody.”

Perhaps she had read the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, to which India is a state party. Article 11.1 of the Covenant says: “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right…” Continue reading Bombay Pavement Dwellers and Olga Tellis – A Quiet Verdict in Ahmedabad: N. Jayaram

On The Interrelationship between Bovine and Human Beings

”in our religious scriptures ( Puranas) life of a cow is more important than any number of people” ( Puranon me insaan se jyada gay ko mahtv diya jata hai)

– Giriraj Kishore, Vice President of VHP,

On the public lynching of five dalits, October 2002

BJP Haryana chief Ram Bilas Sharma has promised to treat cow slaughter as a crime as heinous as murder. If elected, he said at the manifesto release function…

 TNN | Oct 3, 2014, 05.06AM IST

There is a competition of sorts between BJP ruled states to fulfil what a Haryana leader said ‘ to fulfil Modiji’s dream’. Close on the heels of Maharashtra government’s getting clearance to ban cow slaughter, there is news in a section of the press that the government in Haryana would table a similar bill in the assembly.

Sharing few snippets of the bill and comparing it with punishment of other offences, a newspaper report tells us that if the offence is insult to modesty of women the maximum jail sentence would be one year or fine, if it is molestation then it would be two years or fine, for theft the maximum jail term would be three years, for assault it would be 3 months or fine,  and for causing grievous hurt it would be maximum seven years. (Times of India, 14 th March 2015) and if it is beef in any form then it would be punishable by upto ten years in jail. Continue reading On The Interrelationship between Bovine and Human Beings

Swachchh Bharat – Beyond Charity and Symbolism to Legal Rights and Duties: Sujith Koonan

Guest post by SUJITH KOONAN

Sanitation and cleanliness seems to have become buzzwords. Celebrities and political leaders have started talking about sanitation. The call for Swachchh Bharat by the Prime Minister of India was welcomed by many taking brooms in their hands. Several institutions have uploaded prestigiously the photographs of its employees carrying brooms. All of a sudden, the sanitation consciousness seems to have increased in the country. Indeed, it is a good sign that we have started thinking and talking about the ‘unmentionables’ – shit and dirt.

Many of these actions and responses are symbolic and rhetoric in nature. While it may be acceptable to begin with symbolism, the seriousness needs to be demonstrated through concrete long term plans and actions. One can hope that the government will take such steps. One way to show that the ongoing sanitation talk is serious, and the state is sincere about it, is to recognise the legal aspects of sanitation. There are mainly three issues where the government has been a failure in fulfilling its constitutional and legal duties and these are supposed to be at the forefront of the Swachchh Bharat Mission (SBM). Continue reading Swachchh Bharat – Beyond Charity and Symbolism to Legal Rights and Duties: Sujith Koonan

Can Caste Be Swept Away? New Socialist Initiative

Statement by New Socialist Initiative, Delhi State Chapter
It is cleaning season in India. Country’s prime minister has gone to town with a broom. He started the campaign to clean India by sweeping a dalit neighburhood of erstwhile untouchables, seemingly breaking many caste barriers. There are very few public defenders of caste system nowadays. Upper caste men and women, whose ancestors only three generations ago fought tooth and nail to not yield even an inch of their caste privileges, now cry and organise under the slogan of Equality, once affirmative action for lower castes in educational institutions and government jobs has begun to have some traction. Is now not an opportune time to sweep away the garbage of caste into the dustbin of history?
Reality is too complex for this simple hope. If caste appears to be disregarded, or flouted, in some domains, its prejudices and violence are flourishing in others. The day country’s news channels were busy showing the prime minister sweeping a dalit basti in the heart of the capital, a young woman of Madurai in Tamil Nadu was burnt alive by her family for marrying a dalit. She could have been from anywhere in the country, from Haryana in the North to Maharashtra in the West, or Bihar in the East, to have met a similar fate; if not murder, certainly social ostracism. In all villages, where majority of Indians live, habitation areas are divided along caste lines; upper castes occupying the most secure central areas with easiest access to public utilities like road, school, and panchayat ghar; and dalits on the outskirts. In cities too, where caste markers are less visible, caste networks are the most potent resource the poor fall back upon while searching for job and habitation.

Continue reading Can Caste Be Swept Away? New Socialist Initiative