#India- Access to dignity barred for Dalits


Jyotsna Siddharth

Denial of drinking water and toilet facilities in rural areas directly results in increased atrocities against Dalit women

In September last year, 14-year-old Meena (name changed) from the Sansi Dalit caste, was abducted and gang raped by four Rajput men when she stepped outside her house to perform morning ablutions. They later dumped her outside her house before registering an FIR against her name for committing theft in their house. The charges were condemned by the Sansi community and the girl sent to her relative’s place after the medical report confirmed rape.

The incident where this took place, Kalayat in Haryana’s Kaithal district is dominated by the Rajputs with Dalits, particularly Sansis constituting 25 per cent of the village population. Denial of basic facilities such as drinking water or absence of toilets here like several other villages requires minor girls like Meena to walk long distances every day. Dalit women also succumb to atrocities by upper caste communities as most of times the source of drinking water is located in the upper caste fields.

This issue explains the underlying inter-linkages between caste dynamics, lack of basic amenities and the patriarchal character of society. Drinking water and sanitation are the most critical issues that impact women’s lives corresponding to healthcare facilities, education, shelter, livelihood and security. It is the presence and absence of these indicators that symbolises the course of development, especially gender inclusive ‘development’. In most parts of the country, absence of water and sanitation puts women, especially Dalit women, in a vulnerable situation. Walking several miles to fetch water or for toilet often results in incidents of harassment in rural areas.

According to an article by Alexandra Barton on the water project, Indian women in rural regions can walk up to an average of 10 miles a day, carrying up to 15 litres every trip.” The Human Development Report, 2006, states “Women in Africa and Asia often carry water on their heads weighing 20 kg, the same as the average U.K. airport luggage allowance.”

As a society, we are living on a paradox where women continue to invest time and labour but receive the minimum possible returns. The issue gets further complicated when viewed from a marginalised perspective. A report published on Caste Discrimination against Dalits by Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and Human Rights Watch way back in 2007 described that “Dalits are denied equal access to a spectrum of places and services intended for use by the general public, such as police stations, government ration shops, post offices, schools, water facilities and village council offices. As a result of segregation in water facilities, more than 20 per cent of Dalits do not have access to safe drinking water, only ten per cent of Dalit households have access to sanitation (as compared to 27 per cent for non-Dalit households), and the vast majority of Dalits depend on the ‘goodwill’ of upper-caste community members for access to water from community wells”.

The figures from Census 2011 provide a meaningful insight into current socio-economic scenario of India. Only 43.5 per cent of households have access to tap water and only 32 per cent have water from treated sources while 11.6 per cent continue to draw from untreated sources. Glancing at the Census 2011 data for Scheduled Caste population, it clearly indicates that there has not been much progress in condition of Dalits since 2007. The total population for SC households in rural areas is 32,919,665 of which only 63,48,622 have access to tap water from a treated source. About 4,219,829 SC households till today continue to draw tap water from untreated sources. As far as sanitation in rural SC households is concerned, only 7,520,933 families have latrine facilities within the premises. It is shocking to see that there are about 47,736 households in rural areas and 16,375 in urban areas where night soil continues to be removed by humans.

Gujarat-Not vegetarianism or dieting, Mr Narendra Modi


Indira Hirway, The Hindu

LOSING TRACK: The growth process in Gujarat has paid limited&#1
APLOSING TRACK: The growth process in Gujarat has paid limited attention to the well-being of the masses. File Photo

Low wage rates, poorly functioning public schemes and patchy access to water and sanitation are the real explanation for Gujarat’s persistent malnutrition

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s remark in an interview to Wall Street Journal that high malnutrition persists in his State because Gujaratis are mostly vegetarian (implying vegetarianism causes malnourishment) and are middle class, and more conscious about their looks and putting on weight than their health, created a furore. What explains Gujarat’s paradox of hunger amid the seeming plenty?

Economic growth and malnutrition do not have a one-to-one relationship. However, if malnutrition persists even after high growth, there can be two sets of reasons: one, people are not aware about the importance of nutrition and/or there are cultural practices that do not allow people to consume nutritious food. For instance, they eat expensive but unhealthy food (Incidentally, there is no evidence to show that vegetarian food causes malnourishment). Two, economic growth does not create large-scale productive employment with decent work conditions i.e. with reasonable wage rate, good working conditions and social protection.

The first reason may have played a marginal role, but empirical evidence suggests that the second reason is important in Gujarat. To start with, in spite of a slightly higher workforce participation rate compared to other States, the quality of employment is extremely poor in Gujarat; with the result that a large part of the workforce does not have enough purchasing power to buy enough food for the household. About 89 per cent of men workers and 98 per cent of women workers in the State are informal workers (the all India figures are 90 and 96 per cent respectively), who usually earn low wages, have poor working conditions and low social protection.

Wage rates

The wage rates of casual and regular workers of both men and women workers in rural and urban areas are very low compared to other States. As per the latest National Sample Survey Office statistics, the daily wage rates of casual men and women workers in rural areas are lower than the corresponding rates in India, with the State ranking 14th (Rs.69) and ninth (Rs.56) in men’s and women’s wage rates respectively among the major 20 States. In the case of urban casual workers’ daily wages, the State ranked seventh (Rs.109) and 14th (Rs.56) for male and female wage rates. In the case of regular rural workers also the State ranked 17th (Rs.152) and ninth (Rs.108) in the male and female wage rates respectively. The corresponding ranks for urban areas are 18th (Rs.205) and 13th (Rs.182) respectively among the major 20 States in India.

In short, in spite of the high growth rate, wages in the State are repressed with the result that most workers do not have the purchasing power to buy adequate nutritious food.

Special schemes

There are problems with the functioning of major special schemes for nutrition. As regards the Public Distribution System (PDS), till recently the State was providing much less than the stipulated 35kg food grains to Below Poverty Line (BPL) households on the ground that the number of BPL households in the State was much larger than what the Centre had estimated and was providing for. The State was not willing to use its own funds to meet the deficit. Several studies including our own study have shown that PDS, Mid-Day Meal and Integrated Child Development Services (particularly for pregnant women and mothers) are not working well in the State. A common observation of these studies is that these schemes work well when there are local organisations putting pressure on local administration. The instructions from the top are not implemented well at the ground level, largely because there is no strong monitoring. And as only a fraction of the State is covered by such organisations, the schemes work well only in limited areas. In other words, the possibility of improved nutrition through these special schemes also is not good.

Water and sanitation

Finally, the recent data of the 2011 Census of Population has shown that Gujarat lags behind many States in providing potable water and safe sanitation, which are critical in transforming food intake into nutrition. The Census shows that about 43 per cent of rural households get water supply at their premises and only 16.7 per cent households, treated tap water. About one fifth of the rural households, mainly women, walk long distances to collect water ­ impacting adversely on their health. In the case of urban areas, the situation is slightly better: 84 per cent households get water at their premises and 69 per cent, treated water.

As regards sanitation, Gujarat has a long way to go. According the 2011 Census, 67 per cent of rural households do not have an access to toilets and more than 65 per cent households defecate in the open, polluting the environment. The State ranks 10th in the use of latrines. Our recent study adds that 70 per cent villages in the State have yet to organise waste collection and disposal, and 78 per cent have yet to put up drainage for managing liquid waste. In the case of urban areas, the State ranks ninth in terms of the use of latrines. As studies have shown, in spite of the efforts made, waste management is a serious problem in most urban centres.

As a result, the incidence of diseases is fairly high: our recent study shows that 44 per cent villages have reported frequent occurrence of jaundice; 30 per cent, malaria, 40 per cent, diarrhoea, and 25 per cent, kidney stones, skin diseases, joint pain, dental problems, etc. In the case of urban areas also there are frequent reports of outbreak of diseases.

In short, the growth process in the State has paid limited attention to the well-being of the masses. It is not surprising therefore that National Family Health Survey 3 has shown that Gujarat not only ranks low in nutrition of women and children but has also performed very poorly in the recent decade. There is a need for the State to take a fresh look at its growth process.

(Dr. Indira Hirway is Director and Professor of Economics at the Center for Development Alternatives, Ahmedabad, and co-author of the State Human Development Report 2004.)

Letter to the Chief Minister of Gujarat Mr. Narendra Modi on Malnutrition


Rohit Prajapati, Dr. Trupti Shah, and Dr. Nandini Manjrekar
C/o 37 Patrakar Colony,
Tandalja Road, Post: Akota,
Vadodara 390 020, Gujarat
Phone/Fax No: +91-265-2320399
Email: rohit.prajapati@gmail.comtrupti.vadodara@gmail.comnandini.manjrekar@gmail.com
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
By Fax and Email
30 August 2012

To,
Shri Narendrabhai Modi
The Chief Minister of Gujarat
Government of Gujarat
1st Block, 5th Floor, New Sachivalaya,
Gandhinagar – 382 010.

Subject: Malnutrition in Gujarat: Your statement to the Wall Street Journal.

Dear Shri Modi,

In an interview to the Wall Street Journal you, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, made a statement on the issue of malnutrition in the state that “Gujarat is by and large a vegetarian state. And secondly, Gujarat is also a middle-class state. The middle-class is more beauty conscious than health conscious that is a challenge. If a mother tells her daughter to have milk, they’ll have a fight. She’ll tell her mother, ‘I won’t drink milk. I’ll get fat’.”

We would like to know whether this statement was based on any research study that examined whether malnutrition in Gujarat is related to lifestyle issues. We ask you to share the findings of this study with the people of Gujarat since available data portrays a grim scenario. The Human Development Report of 2011 indicates that  Gujarat is the worst among the high per-capita states in the country in fighting malnutrition, even lower than the ‘less developed’ states of Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam. 44.6% of children in Gujarat below the age of 5 suffer from malnutrition, 41% are underweight, and nearly 70% are anaemic. More than half the women in Gujarat (55%) also suffer from anaemia.

We hope that you are making such a statement based on some study done either by you or by your government or by any reputed institute or scholars. We request you to share the copy of such study because we are absolutely in disagreement with you on this issue.

Malnutrition is directly related to issues of livelihood and well-being, which are the foremost indicators of development, which you as Chief Minister take credit for having spearheaded in the state of Gujarat. You and your government has to take responsibility for the factors that have led to these appalling statistics —  where almost half the children do not even have access to milk — through pursuing a development model in aggressive promotion of privatisation and consequent immiseration of the poor. It is shocking that you should attribute this to the state being largely ‘middle-class’ and vegetarian and obsession with body image among girls. These statements are not only completely lacking in fact but also reflects an amazing callousness and trivialisation of the real issues of the people in the state you govern, especially women and girls, for whom access to livelihoods, education, healthcare and survival itself is a matter of everyday struggle.

In the absence of any substantive data that indicates otherwise, it is morally incumbent on you as Chief Minister, to apologise to the people, and especially women and girls of the state, for the disrespect you have shown them by making these trivial statements on such a grave issue.

Rohit Prajapati
[ROHIT PRAJAPATI]

Trupti Shah
[Dr. TRUPTI SHAH]

Nandini Manjrekar
[Dr. NANDINI MANJREKAR]

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,227 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,849,847 hits

Archives

December 2021
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
%d bloggers like this: