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Dalits In News, Dec.4

by udaya — last modified 2007-12-05 13:13

Tension over desecration of Ambedkar statue, Keshav Meshram, great dalit poet and novelist, passes away in Mumbai , Discrimination rife in Indian economy

Deccan Herald
Tension over desecration of Ambedkar statue
http://www.deccanherald.com /Content/Dec42007/state2007120439393.asp?section=updatenews
Gulbarga, UNI:
Following the alleged desecration of the Ambedkar statue by miscreants, tension prevailed in Jewargi town near Gulbarga in Karnataka today.
Tension prevailed in Jewargi town, 40 km from here, following the alleged desecration of the Ambedkar statue by miscreants as a large number of Dalits today resorted to 'rasta roko' demanding the arrest of the perpetrators.
According to police, some miscreants put 'chappals' (sandals) on the statue of Ambedkar. Noticing this, a large number of Dalits gathered near the statue and obstructed the road.
They hurled stones at two buses damaging the windscreens. Traffic on the Bangalore-Gulbarga state highway came to a standstill following the stir.
Meanwhile, Dalits, led by Dalit Sangarsh Samithi leader Sagar, took out a procession to the Deputy Commissioner's office, demanding the arrest of the culprits.
Later, the activists assembled at the bus stand and staged a demonstration, disrupting traffic.
Keshav Meshram, great dalit poet and novelist,
passes away in Mumbai
Vibhav Birwatkar, 04 December 2007, Tuesday
Keshav Meshram passed away in a hospital at Bandra in Mumbai on Thursday. He was an eminent dalit poet and novelist, and great critic of extremist trend in dalit literature.
EMINENT DALIT poet, critic, novelist and short-story writer Keshav Tanaji Meshram passed away in a hospital at Bandra in Mumbai on Thursday. He was suffering from lung cancer. With his death, a prolific literary career of a man (he had written about 40 books), who always maintained balance while voicing the pain, revolt and introspection of the plight of dalits, has also come to an end. Despite being a contemporary of Namdeo Thasaal (founder of dalit panther and a fiery poet), Meshram's poetry was like a restrained effort to convey feelings in a decent language.
In his presidential speech at the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan at Nasik in 2005, Meshram had lambasted the literary mafia for confining their world only to suit the stastes of elites. He had also asked how many of established writers had actually ventured beyond their comfortable white-collar world to see how crores of poor people live. He had criticised them for creating a coterie of writers, critics, publishing houses and libraries for running their business at the cost of true literary values. He had also criticized the extremist trend in dalit literature, which believed in only hurling expletives at the established classes and calling it revolutionary literature.
Breaking the tradition of his ABMSS predecessors, who had always blamed the English language for the decline of Marathi usage, Meshram had said that blaming any language would not solve the problem and that Marathi was not a dying language. He had pointed out that those crying hoarse to save Marathi were educating their children in English schools and wanted them to go abroad. His had tried to indicate that the elites were misguiding the masses. He had asked the state government to create a literary academy to translate great literary words from other language to Marathi and vice versa so that the common reader could enrich himself intellectually.
He had also warned of growing frustrations among people, especially the poor and newly educated youths belonged to various oppressed castes, because of the changes initiated through globalization and privatization.
Meshram was born on November 24, 1937 in a poor dalit family in Akola. He spent his adolescence and early adulthood working as a railway wagon loader, a construction worker and oil mill worker. While struggling for the basics of life, he continued with his education simultaneously. His joined as a clerk in Western Railways for a full time job but later he became a Marathi lecturer at Maharshi Dayanand college (popularly known as M.D college in Parel).
His volumes of poems 'Utkhanan' (excavation) earned him the status of an important dalit poet. As a novelist, his most popular work was 'Jatayu' in which he portrayed the anguish of a brilliant but poor dalit boy, Abhimaan, who was sidelined despite being a talented student. In 'Jatayu', Meshram showed how Abhimaan fought with superstitions and blind faith. But, when he interfered with the rituals of a tantrik, it brought disaster to him. He unsuccessfully tried to save a possessed girl from being molested and beaten up. The girl died and the police framed him at the time when he received his appointment letter for a job.
Meshram's autobiography 'Hakikat' shows the development of a sensitive mind in an adverse world. His other literary works deal with introspection of the plight of dalits in the changing world.
Discrimination rife in Indian economy
By Jo Johnson in New Delhi
Published: December 3 2007 04:36 | Last updated: December 3 2007 04:36
Male graduates applying for private sector jobs in India are far more likely to progress to the next round if they have high-caste Hindu names than if they have surnames associated with dalit (formerly untouchable) or Muslim origins, new research has found.
Far from being a hangover from the past found only at the margins of a newly meritocratic society, such discrimination is rife in the most dynamic sectors of the Indian economy, according to a joint study undertaken by academics from Princeton University and the Indian Institute for Dalit Studies.
Making use of techniques pioneered in the US to measure discrimination against blacks and other minorities, researchers made 4,808 job applications to 548 graduate level openings advertised in newspapers by blue chip Indian and multinational companies, changing only the names of identically qualified candidates.
Appropriately qualified applicants with a dalit name had odds of progressing to the next stage of the recruitment process that were two thirds of those of an equivalently qualified candidate with a high caste Hindu name, while those of an equally qualified Muslim candidate were only around a third as good.
The findings, published in India's Economic and Political Weekly, have been released at a politically sensitive time, with the government threatening to extend a system of quotas to the private sector unless businesses voluntarily boost the number of recruits from disadvantaged social groups.
The private sector has argued that the under-representation of dalits, tribes people and Muslims should be solved by improving the public education system – on the grounds that these communities attend inferior schools – rather than through quotas that would crimp freedom to hire and fire.
The studies, however, cast some doubt on whether, without government intervention, the self-interest of theoretically economically "rational" recruiters, who would want to minimise wage bills by recruiting from the widest possible pool of qualified talent, would be sufficient to correct the problem.
"Reaching the pinnacle of what the Indian education system has to offer is not sufficient to create full and open opportunity," wrote Sukhadeo Thorat, founder of the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, and Katherine Newman, a sociologist and director of Princeton University's Institute for International and Regional Studies, two of the academics involved with the project.
"Far from fading as India modernises, the problem of discrimination remains a serious one, even at the very top of the human capital hierarchy," the authors said, arguing that recruiters in major companies continued to "subject low caste applicants to negative stereotypes that may overwhelm their formal accomplishments".
Business groups have argued that mandatory extension of quotas to the private sector would hit productivity. They say the organised private sector, which accounts for less than 5 per cent of the workforce, is already suffering from labour market rigidities, such as the need to secure government approval to fire employees.
Manmohan Singh recently became the first sitting Indian prime minister to acknowledge openly the parallel between "untouchability" and apartheid, describing the latter as a "blot on humanity". His government is poised to establish an Equal Opportunity Commission, whose powers have yet to be defined.
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