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Dalits In News, Dec.9

by udaya — last modified 2007-12-12 17:07

Dalit Christians demo on Dec 10 GenX Dalits need more aggression "Landlessness true index of poverty"....


Chennai Online


Dalit Christians demo on Dec 10


Chennai, Dec. 08 The National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) will organise a demonstration on December 10, demanding classification of Dalit Christians as Scheduled Castes.

Talking to newspersons here, NCDC Chairman M Mary John said the protest demonstration would be organised in front of the District Collectorates in nine state.

He said after the agitation, a memorandum would be presented to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, urging him to concede their long-pending demands.

Besides Tamil Nadu, the stir would be held in Punjab, Orissa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Puducherry, he said adding in Tamil Nadu the agitation would be held in 12 places. He would lead the stir in the city.

Mr John said the Justice Ranganath Misra Committee had recommended inclusion of Dalit Christians in the list of Scheduled castes in May itself, but the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre, refused to implement the recommendations.

It is more than six months since the Committee submitted its report to the Centre, but no action was taken so far, he said.(Our Correspondent)

DNA India


GenX Dalits need more aggression



Ramdas Athavale

Sunday, December 09, 2007  03:29 IST

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Urban Dalits must organise themselves better for active political participation, says Ramdas Athavale

MUMBAI: The young, urban Dalit is still not as alert and politically active as he was a few years back. In that sense, the young Dalit community is not as organised as it was earlier. It is less likely to take to the streets and resort to militant means to claim its rights.

For some of our followers, there is a frustration that comes from being very close to power without actually getting it. Young Dalits will react aggressively to emotional and sentimental issues, like they did when the statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar was desecrated in Kanpur or after the Khairlanji incident.

But sadly, they are not as aggressive when it comes to grappling with issues of economic disparity and social injustice. Earlier, Dalit parties had activists who strove selflessly for the cause of Dalit upliftment. But now, some activists have become selfish and power-hungry thereby diluting the movement.

While some Dalit leaders may have lost touch with the ground realities, the same isn't true for the overall movement. What has happened, though, is that there is a growing sense of frustration thanks to the several factions. Even in Uttar Pradesh Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party has several factions. But that is inevitable. I don't mind factionalism as long as all groups stay true to the Dalit ideology. If everyone is working for the same cause, there's an opportunity for us to come together.

Mayawati is not likely to have a significant impact on Dalit politics in Maharashtra. The reasons behind her victory in UP were entirely different.

People there wanted an alternative to Mulayam Singh Yadav. She also had the support of the Brahmin community. Her party will hurt the Congress more than the Dalit parties, but is unlikely to do any damage beyond that. The results of past elections are evidence of that.

Ramdas Athavale is leader of the Republican Party of India (Athavale)



"Landlessness true index of poverty"


Special Correspondent

340 mn dependent on farm wage: survey

Tenancy restrictions deny land access to the poor

Property rights can positively impact women's lives

NEW DELHI: More than 15 million rural households in India are landless. Another 45 million rural families own some land, less than 0.10 acre each, which is hardly enough to make them self- sufficient, let alone generate a profit.

To benefit landless farm workers and small farmers, most States either prohibit or restrict renting of farmland. Where the law prohibits tenancy, the practice continues informally with the illegal tenants receiving no recognition or protection under the law.

In a research done by the Washington-based Rural Development Institute (RDI), it has been found that rental restrictions have backfired and are preventing poor families from accessing land.

Livelihood benefits

Plots larger than 1,300 square feet generally provide the most economic and social benefits per square foot. Functionally landless, agricultural labourer families which own a plot typically derive important livelihood benefits such as improved nutrition (microfield plots averaging 0.18 acre and ranging from 0.07 to 0.38 acre provided approximately 18 to 91 per cent of the families' grain requirements), income, place for residence, enhanced social status and access to credit, and bargaining leverage in labour markets.

The survey suggests that 340 million people in India are dependent largely on agricultural wage labour, $1 or less a day.

Global research shows that landlessness is the best predicator of poverty in India — a much better predicator than either illiteracy or membership of a traditionally "untouchable" caste.

Obtaining property rights can positively impact women's lives, including increasing physical and economic security, and enhancing wellbeing and status in marriage and community.

Domestic violence

A cessation of domestic violence can be traced (at least in part) to the receipt of property rights in some cases, says the survey.

The RDI is working with non-governmental organisations and government partners for changing policy and legislation to require that land be granted jointly to husbands and wives or independently to women.

Women empowered

Owning land, women are empowered and income is more likely to improve the welfare of the family.

West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh recently budgeted over $11 million to provide landless families with microplots, on which they can build shelter and cultivate a home garden for family diet and income.

The Pioneer


Casteist lyrics

Chandrabhan Prasad

'Chappal par chamine chale, sandal par dobinia haye more Rama, badal gaile duniya' was a hit song in east Uttar Pradesh in early 70s. It means 'Oh my God, the world has changed as Dalit women are now wearing slippers and sandals'. Why did the lyricist come up with such an atrocious idea?

As a matter of fact, the Central Nervous System (CNR) of the lyricist of the above title song was not compatible with the sight of new Dalits - women wearing slippers. For ages, the mainstream society has developed a stereotype image of Dalits where they are seen bare foot for centuries. By 70s' many Dalits had Government jobs and remitted money back home where family members bought goods hitherto a preserve of non-Dalits.

When the Oxford educated MN Srinivas came with his ridiculous thesis of Sanskritisation, there was no way he could escape wrath of the caste stereotype. To him, a Dalit wearing a suit and boots, or having coffee table manners, must be emulate Brahmins. If Dalits were emulating Brahmins they should wear the sacred thread, applying sandalwood paste on their forehead, and turning into vegetarians as suit and boots and coffee table manners belonged to the British, and not Brahmins!

It is not surprising therefore, that the composer and lyricist of the Aaja Nachle made fun of Dalits. To the CNR of the Aaja Nachle title song lyricist, a mochi ought to have his dreams predestined and any deviation from the 'impure' leathersmith to a goldsmith ought to be ridiculed. The composer and lyricist of the film have seen mochis polishing and repairing shoes of the people all their life and Dalits' rise to the status of a goldsmith was thus to be publicly ridiculed.

Since the occupation and blood purity are the two pillars on which the caste order is mounted, any dent in the occupational hierarchy is considered a dent in the caste order itself. Since many Dalits are entering the newer occupations hitherto closed for them, the caste society trying to fight back.

It is thus, that spirit of the caste which irrupted in the imaginative faculty of the lyricist of the Aaja Nachle title song. To that end, the Aaja Nachle of the film need not necessarily be a conscious casteism as it is very much stored in the permanent memory bank which in a given context, irrupts through the CNS. What was originally a social problem has now turned into a deeply psychological one.

The Dalit groups therefore, were right in confronting the film maker as they felt hurt on behalf of the larger Dalit mass including mochis.

But, there is a contradiction. Do the Dalit leaders feel equally hurt at the sight of a mochi polishing and repairing shoes at a roadside?

Considering the stigma attached to the occupation of shoe shining in India, shouldn't the Dalit leaders feel the hurt at the sight of all mochis? If we can't answer this question rationally, all our posturing over the Aaja Nachle song will always be seen with suspicion.

No social group can progress unless it has developed a rich culture of self-critique. The contemporary Dalit movements lack that strength of self-criticism. That is clear deviation from the path shown by Dr Ambedkar.

While Dr Ambedkar confronted and fought the system, he at the same time, asked us to reform from within. He asked us to stop eating meat of dead animals as that was a negative social marker. He launched a host of educational institutions, and gave the first slogan for the community - 'educate'.

I am witness to two great social movements. Senior Dalits would come to pasi hamlets - a sub Dalit group I belong to, asking the community to stop rearing pigs. In the adjutant chamar hamlet, senior Dalits would come asking the community to stop lifting and skinning dead animals. Those two big movements had galvanised the Dalit energies in east Uttar Pradesh in mid-70s'.

Is there any Dalit movement today reaching out to mochis and sweepers for instance, asking them to switch over to caste neutral occupations? I will tell you how easy it is in my columns that will follow in the coming weeks. 


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