Document Actions

Dalits InNews, Dec.17

by udaya — last modified 2007-12-22 16:40

Dalit cook in Bibipur school may be replaced- Express India, Is Mayawati diluting Dalit agenda?- The Times Of India ......

Express India
Dalit cook in Bibipur school may be replaced
Lucknow, December 16 With a majority of students at the Bibipur Primary and Junior High School continuing to boycott mid-day meals cooked by Dalit woman Phool Kumari Rawat, the district administration has decided to sack her.

Officials are now thinking of appointing another cook, using the boycotters' argument that Phool Kumari's cooking isn't good and is also unhygienic. This, when most officials who have visited the school in the last five days, found nothing wrong with the meals.

District Magistrate Chandra Bhanu had previously said some people were inciting the students. On Sunday, however, he said: "We have inquired and found that the poor quality of food is a fact. So we will try to concentrate on that issue and find a person who can make better quality food for the children."

Now the village-level selection committee, which consists of the village pradhan, teachers and parents, will select a cook to replace Phool Kumari. Kaushal Srivastava, in-charge of the block resource centre, said: "We have decided to ask the children, as well as their parents, to give in writing whatever complaints they have against the food, and if a majority complain about the quality of food then we will ask the village committee to make a fresh appointment."

Children at the two schools had stopped eating mid-day meals the day Phool Kumari was appointed as additional cook. While senior students said her cooking was unhygienic, younger students made no secret of the fact that Phool Kumari's low caste was the reason behind the boycott.

The officers are, however, thinking of saving face by appointing another Dalit woman. "We will accept applications from Dalit widows only. However, if the children continue to protest then we will think about another plan," said an official.

The Times Of India


Is Mayawati diluting Dalit agenda?


17 Dec 2007, 0025 hrs IST ,Subodh Ghildiyal ,TNN


NEW DELHI: Months after she swept the UP polls by pulling off what had then looked an improbable alliance of resurgent Dalits and Brahmins, BSP chief Mayawati is being accused of diluting the SC/ST Atrocities Act.

The National Commission for SCs has asked the UP chief secretary to explain the "dilution" of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Sources said he may have to appear before the panel on January 4.

Directing the police officers from DGP downwards for speedy action in crimes against Dalits, Chief Secretary P K Misra, in a circular dated October 29, has added a "safeguard" against its misuse.

It asks the cops to ensure that the law is not misused to harass an innocent person. "If investigation finds a wrong case has been lodged, action would be taken under Section 182 of the IPC," it says.

While fake cases under any law would invite action against the complainant, the Dalit panel sees its exclusive reiteration for cases under SC/ST Act as "dilution of law".

Satya Behan, member of SC commission, said, "It is for the police to investigate and find evidence. Such orders would only make Dalits vulnerable to threats from the powerful and the police. They will be further scared of approaching the police."

Ironically, the circular is an amendment on an earlier one issued by state on May 20 - the seventh day of Mayawati taking over the reins of UP. It directed police officers to file rape cases under the Act only after it was established by a medical examination.

The state was forced to issue an amendment after the commission, during its review in Lucknow in September, slammed the May 20 circular as reeking of anti-Dalit bias, given that medical proof was not a condition for filing of rape cases for victims from general castes. 

The introduction of two "safeguards" against harassment under the law has been seen as a result of Mayawati's bid to reach out to upper castes, and has attracted the charge that she has undermined the Act for her political purposes.

The intervention by the commission, headed by Congress veteran Buta Singh and packed with other party men, may lead to a political confrontation. The "circular" marks a volt face by BSP on the Act. 

Just a decade ago, in 1997, Mayawati withdrew BSP from the coalition with BJP to protest against then Chief Minister Kalyan Singh's attempt to check the so-called misuse of the SC/ST Act.

Kalyan Singh had justified an order he issued to check the misuse of the Act on the ground that SC/ST Act had become an instrument for the harassment of innocents under Mayawati. Now, Mayawati's politics seems to have come a full circle over the SC/ST law, with her own positioning for upper castes forcing her to do the balancing.

The Pioneer

Our hypocrisy



Chandrabhan Prasad

We were hurt about the word mochi used in the song Aaja Nachle. The protests paid, the word was deleted and film-makers apologised. But, all the mochis on streets remain where they were. Does this hurt us as all the mochis are Dalits?

How hypocritical we are! It does not bother us that only Dalits are polishing and repairing shoes all over India, but feel hurt when the word mochi is used. Irrespective of the context, the term mochi is derogatory. What if a non-Dalit child asked his parents about Dalits. The parents will in all probability point to a sweeper cleaning the street or a mochi sitting by the roadside. The child grows with a certain perception of Dalits. The children of sweepers/mochis, too, grow up with certain perceptions.

As we know, the caste order is all about occupation and how pure the blood is. Unless the linkage between the occupation and caste became unrecognisable, there is no way the caste order will go. Till the caste order remains the prejudices will continue to haunt the Dalits. Sweeping/cleaning roads/toilets and shoe shining is the most popular way to identify the Dalits.

There are of course changes, but not to the extent that the occupation of sweeping and shoe shinning have become caste neutral. Unless we moved away from such socially degrading occupations, there is no way the community can earn respectability in the society. But, how easy, or difficult it is for the community to move away from sweeping or shoe shinning?


For the past one week, I have been following a few mochis and sweepers in my locality. A mochi can earn between Rs 125 to Rs 150 a day. A sweeper earns more as most the family members work. Considering that sweeping and shoe shinning are generally a semi-urban/urban phenomenon, is it difficult to liberate them from their present occupation?

In my locality there are 100 ice-cream vendors. Most of them are immigrants from UP and Bihar. They sell ice-cream on commission basis and earn Rs150 a day. I stood at a street corner one morning and saw that an auto or a taxi passed by every few minutes. Most of them are immigrants from of Punjab, Himachal and Uttarakhand. A taxi driver earns nearly the same as a mochi or a sweeper earns. The auto drivers earn little more than the sweepers or mochis.


Apart from the occupations mentioned above, there are a host of other occupations which immigrants in Delhi take. Fruit and vegetable vendors make more money than sweepers and mochis. Plumbers, electricians and tea vendors also make more money than sweepers and mochis can ever make. Most of the jobs are taken up by immigrants from neighbouring States, including Dalits. They of course have to struggle a lot. They first have to look for a place to live and usually settle down in some slum colony then they roam about the city looking for work. Many without any education or skill become labourers. For months, they don't save anything as they need money to make a home for themselves.

The mochis and sweepers on the other hand, are already settled in towns -- with their own houses, voter ID and ration cards. Why can't they start moving away to caste neutral occupations? How much money does it take to be trained as a driver or sell ice-cream vegetables?

To become an ice-cream vendor, one needs to deposit Rs 1000 to the ice-cream company. To become a fruit or vegetable vendor, all one needs is an investment of Rs 1000. The solution to the problem is simple. The sweepers and mochis have an assured job and seldom go through financial crisis that people in villages do and need to migrate to cities in search of work.

What we all need is an extensive reform movement amongst the mochis and sweepers -- the kind of movement the Dalits, in the villages, witnessed in the early 80s. Why can't the same thing happen in towns when we have more Dalit organisations today than ever before? What are these Dalit organisations doing?

Shouting slogans is so much easier than transforming the society. Regretfully, most of us feel comfortable shouting slogans. This is hypocrisy -- pure and simple.


NCDHR, 8/1, South Patel Nagar, Second Floor, New Delhi - 110 008, INDIA.
Phone: +91 - 11 - 25842249, E-mail: info@ncdhr.org.in
Designed and managed under EkDuniya initiative of OneWorld
Personal tools