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Dalits In News, Dec.8

by udaya — last modified 2007-12-12 17:02

Dalits observe Dalit Daman Virodhi Maha rally- Punjaj Newsline, Trend of repackaging casteism growing, 'Not rosy for the Dalit masses'

December 08, 2007

Dalits observe Dalit Daman Virodhi Maha rally
Friday, 07 December 2007
CHANDIGARH:Demanding the Punjab government to take action on violence Dalits the activists of Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan held a Dalit Daman Virodhi Maha rally in sector 36 on the martyrod, day of Dr.Bhim Rao Ambedkar.
 Swami Agnivesh, founder of the Bonded Labour Liberation Front and president of the World Council of the Arya Samaj participated in the rally.
He demanded minimum wages be fixed at national level, and single education pattern at the national level to end inequality between public and government schools, the Swami said the government should take steps in this direction.
The activists started gathering in the 25 sector since morning in private vehicle The Chandigarh Police had made arrangements at Sector 25, but later changed the venue and provided an alternative site to the Dalits in Sector 36.
The activists were carrying placards and wearing blue robes with the slogan "Give us land or land us in jail".
They gave a memorandum to the Punjab Chief Minister demanded abolition of the bonded labour, discrimination and untouchablity at cremation grounds, protection of their funeral rights besides filling backlog of government posts and new legislation for reservation of jobs in private sector.
President of the DDVA Jai Singh alleged that the UT administration had also discriminated against the Dalit Samaj by denying to organize the rally at Rally Ground in Sector 25 as the venue for the rally.
Trend of repackaging casteism growing
Special Correspondent
Dalits, Adivasis far behind rest of the population in terms of every social indicator: Sainath
CHENNAI: The political and social ideas that B.R. Ambedkar stood and fought for remain extremely relevant today. This was the message emphasised at the Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Lectures held at the University of Madras on Thursday to mark the political leader's 51st death anniversary.
In the past few years, there had been a growing trend of "repackaging" casteism and caste stereotypes and projecting it as an equality or "meritocracy" issue, said P. Sainath, Ramon Magsaysay award winner and Rural Affairs Editor, The Hindu.
"The idea of reverse discrimination is growing and is severely rooted in the media," he said .
Racist comment
Casteist sentiments and stereotypes were still widely prevalent. "One of the most obnoxious things I've seen on television during the recent medicos' protest was these rich kids taking brooms and sweeping the floor," Mr. Sainath said.
"They are saying you are forcing us, the flower of India's youth, to do the work that is meant to be that of the menial classes... This is an extremely racist and casteist comment, but this obnoxious statement was projected with great glee by every channel."
Dalits and Adivasis constituted a "huge" section of the 836 million people in India living on less than Rs. 20 a day and were "far behind" the rest of the population in terms of every social indicator, be it health, hunger or neo-natal deaths.
"Yet, despite all this, this repackaging reduces the issue of Dalits only to reservation," Mr. Sainath said.
"In the media, any debate on Dalit rights is about reservation, and not about water, health, sanitation or land rights. In the minds of the media audience, we have created a stereotype that Dalit is equal to reservation, which is taken out of the context of all these other deprivations."
S. Ramachandran, Vice-Chancellor, University of Madras, saluted Dr. Ambedkar's fight against the caste system and untouchability.
"He mobilised Dalits across the country and emerged as the undisputed champion of the oppressed classes," he said.
State's role
G. Nancharaiah, former Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar University, Lucknow, said Dr. Ambedkar believed that the State had a vital role to play in bringing about social changes, and this remained exceedingly relevant today.
DNA India
'Not rosy for the Dalit masses'
Sumitra Deb Roy
Friday, December 07, 2007  03:13 IST
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Air India staffer has been a regular visitor to Chaityabhoomi for the past seven years
MUMBAI: Jetkumar Giridhar Nikam, 46, senior check flight personnel with Air India, has been coming to Chaityabhoomi to pay homage to the great leader for the last seven years.
On Thursday, he was accompanied by his daughters Pravajya, 16, Anuja, 11, and wife Asmita. His family may stand out in the crowd at Chaityabhoomi but he believes the picture is stark, and disturbing that every Dalit who has made it big should not ignore. "After all, this is how the entire community would have looked like if Dr Ambedkar had not worked for their uplift," he said. "And, Dalits who have made it big should work for the uplift of the rest of the community," he added.
At the same time, he wanted his daughters to see the face of real India. "We may lead luxurious lives, roam around in swanky cars but things are not rosy for the masses and this is what I want my daughters to realise," he said. He also runs an NGO Nisvarth Parivar Samajik Sanstha that looks after the educational requirements of Dalit children from economically and socially backward backgrounds.
It is interesting to know that there are many students who score amazingly high marks despite coming from completely uneducated families. "The urge to get educated is growing slowly, but it is growing, nevertheless," Nikam said. 
The Times Of India
'Dalit converts not entitled to quota'
8 Dec 2007, 0001 hrs IST  , Subodh Ghildiyal  , TNN
NEW DELHI: In what may prove to be a serious blow to the case for "Dalit" Christians and Muslims to be given access to reservations, the National Commission for SCs has concluded that there is insufficient evidence that these sections suffered from the stigma of untouchability. 
The reasoning is a significant addition to the opinion already expressed by the commission that Dalit converts could be extended quota benefits but with the rider that it could not be at the cost of the 15% quota for those on the SC list. The observations on untouchability will, however, make it difficult for Christian and Muslim "Dalits" to be granted quota benefits.
The government can still go ahead with granting quota benefits to the minority claimants. But in doing so, it  will run the risk of violating the 50% ceiling imposed on quotas by the Supreme Court. The only other option would be to carve a separate quota out of the OBC share. 
That may be politically fraught, as it could trigger a hostile reaction from the backward castes. Just as SCs are not enthused about fresh competition, the OBCs too are not likely to react differently. 
The SC panel's opinion has come in response to a central reference on the demand for extension of benefits for SCs to dalit converts.
While reiterating its earlier decision to extend the quota regime to "Dalit" minorities without impacting the 15% quota for SCs, as reported by TOI, the commission's comment on untouchability would virtually block the possibility of the Centre including Dalit converts in the SC list.
The panel, which met recently to debate the issue again, said a separate quota for "converts" should be created as "untouchability is the criteria for inclusion of a caste in the SC list and it is not satisfactorily fulfilled in this case". The separate quota, the commission said, should be according to their population.
The commission's opinion is seen as crucial since it is linked to a PIL in the apex court. The Centre had referred the issue to the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM) on a notice from the court  and then forwarded the latter's opinion in favour of "neo-Dalits" to the SC panel for its comments. 
The NCRLM had recommended that SC status, limited to dalits among Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs, should be delinked from religion by an amendment to Constitution (SCs) Order, 1950. Whatever the final view of the SC panel, it would be filed by way of an affidavit in the apex court.
Express India
Kutch Dalit leaders allege discrimination by Congress http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Kutch-Dalit-leaders-allege-discrimination-by-Congress/248060/
Bhuj, December 7 The Dalits in Kutch are not happy with the Congress party. The 1,37,187 strong Dalits who constitute the second largest traditional vote bank of the Congress here, after the Muslims (2,12,139), feel that the party has only appeased the latter. They say they are not against the Muslims, but are aggrieved at not getting the due importance they deserve.
"Everything here is Muslim-centred. We want our due," a Dalit leader told this newspaper on Friday. Highly placed sources said that the local Dalit leaders presently involved in the party's election work had met the central as well as state observers in the last two days to air their grievances.
Sources said the discontent started with the party giving a ticket to BJP dissident Gopal Dhuva for the Mundra reserved seat, totally ignoring the 28 Dalit applicants who had submitted their fees for the tickets as per the party's requirement. All these candidates were ignored to accommodate the BJP dissident, they said. "We still reconciled to work for Dhuva considering him our own candidate, but we neither got logistic support nor any importance from the party leadership. This also happened with the two Dalit state observers," the sources added.
The party had appointed three state observers, veteran state Dalit leader and former minister Karsandas Soneri, Bhaljibhai Solanki and Babaldas Patel. With Patel getting the party's ticket to contest the Assembly elections in his constituency outside Kutch, the monitoring work rested with Soneri and Solanki, both belonging to the Dalit community.
Since Solanki met with an accident, it was Soneri who had to manage things single-handedly. But Solanki, who had been a frequent visitor to Kutch from Ahmedabad, always came by bus, as the party did not give him any vehicle to move around. He got the vehicle from some well-to-do members of the community, they said.
Sources said when local Dalit leaders met Soneri at a farmhouse of a Dalit leader at Bhujodi village on Wednesday, Soneri expressed his inability to be of any help, as he did not have any financial power. He said despite being a minister, he himself did not get importance, but still had to work for the party.
Irate at this, local Dalit leaders took up the matter with the party's central observer Govindrai Adik at the farmhouse of Meghajibhai Motharia in Toda village in Mundra on Thursday evening. Motharia is one of the top Dalit leaders and a former MLA.
Sources said when the polling was just four days away, Adik met district Scheduled Caste Cell chairman Danabhai Bagada. The Dalit leaders apparently voiced their concern to Adik that if things such as this happened to top Dalit leader like Bagada, the treatment meted out to lower level leaders could very well be imagined. It was then an apologetic Adik immediately passed orders for the allotment of one vehicle to Bagada.
The Dalit leaders also complained that not a single national level leader from their community had been invited for campaign work in the district, while senior Muslim party leader Moishin Kidwai was doing his bid for the party.
Dalit leaders said the appeasement factor could be well gauged from the fact that the party did not take any disciplinary action against top Muslim leader, Jumma Raima, who unsuccessfully fought the 2002 election from Abadasa, and had now filed his nomination from Anjar on a BSP ticket. Instead the party bowed to him and agreed to give him a huge sum from the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation for a local Muslim organisation, they said. One Muslim leader was also promoted to the party's post of state general secretary as a reward for non-revolt when his already announced ticket was withdrawn at the eleventh hour, they added.
When contacted on Friday, Congress party district president Shailendrasih Jadeja, however, denied that the Dalits were being discriminated against, in the party. He said the party had decided to two promote two local Dalit leaders as the party's state general secretary. He said he would make an inquiry into the allegations of the Dalit leaders to make corrective measures immediately as they have to "win all the six seats in the border district."


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